Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 9.9.19

Orange Tally 6
Begin the day refreshed — and informed — with Sunburn.

Let’s start this week with some fantastic news about a great person — State Rep. Kristin Jacobs ‘rang the bell’ at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville Saturday, after completing her last round of chemotherapy.

Way to go, Rep. Jacobs!

Good job, Kristin Jacobs!

Welcome to the worldMargaret Mary Thiele, the beautiful daughter of Ali and Herbie Thiele. Margaret was born at 8 p.m. last night.

Florida won’t join other states in canceling its Republican presidential primary.

Republican Party of Florida chairman Joe Gruters said qualification rules have already been set. While Gruters remains an enthusiastic supporter of President Donald Trump, he noted canceling a primary won’t be necessary.

Florida will probably have a GOP presidential primary with Donald Trump, Bill Weld, Joe Walsh and now Mark Sanford.

“The support for Trump is overwhelming,” Gruters said. “You don’t need to close something off when you are going to win 90 to 10.”

Notably, the process for selecting a presidential nominee falls ultimately under party jurisdiction. If leaders for the Republican Party of Florida wanted to cancel the March 17 presidential preference primary here, they could.

There will be one less avenue available for candidates to get on the ballot. During years without an incumbent, getting invited to the Sunshine Summit and attending would be enough to qualify. But no summit will be held this cycle.

Candidates can still pay a $25,000 qualifying fee to the Republican Party of Florida. While Gruters remains a staunch Trump supporter, he’s happy to cash checks from Bill Weld, Joe Walsh, Mark Sanford or other comers.

Candidates also can qualify by submitting 3,375 petitions from registered Republican voters. That pile must include at least 125 signatures from each of Florida’s 27 Congressional districts.

The rules also allow one other path open only to an incumbent president. Trump needs only submit a letter to the RPOF chair, asking for his name to appear on the ballot.

All qualification methods, including the letter from Trump, must be submitted to the party by 5 p.m. on Nov. 22.


@RealDonaldTrump: Looking forward to being in the North Carolina tomorrow night. We’re having a BIG RALLY for a great guy, Dan Bishop. Strong on Crime, Borders, your Military and our Vets, we need Dan Bishop in Washington badly. His opponent is WEAK on Crime, Borders, and against your 2nd A.

@RobGeorge: I confess I did NOT have invite-Taliban-to-Camp-David-pre-9/11 to distract from using-military-flights-to-prop-up-failing-Scotland-property to distract from Hurricane-Dorian-Alabama-Sharpiegate on my Trump Scandal Bingo Card. Anyone else?

@JohnLegend: Imagine being president of a whole country and spending your Sunday night hate-watching MSNBC hoping somebody–ANYBODY–will praise you. Melania, please praise this man. He needs you.

@MarkSanford: I am compelled to enter the Presidential Primary as a Republican for several reasons — the most important of which is to further and foster a national debate on our nation’s debt, deficits and spending.

@ComfortablySmug: Wow, Antonio Brown was unemployed for less than 24 hours thanks to the strong economy! Thank you President Trump!!

@MikeGriffinFL: Make no mistake about it. This is unacceptable. The USF faithful deserves better.

@KFoleyFL: UCF is the best college football program in the state of Florida. This isn’t even debatable.


TaxWatch Productivity Awards — 2; First Interim Committee Week for 2020 Session — 7; “Morning” Joe Scarborough releases “This Ends Badly: How Donald Trump Conned America” — 8; MSNBC hosts candidates event on climate in D.C. — 10; Emmy Awards live on Fox — 13; 850 Hemp Summit begins — 23; “Joker” opens — 25; Triple Force Friday: the next generation of Star Wars products arrives — 25; SNL season premiere with Woody Harrelson — 26; Debut of Breaking Bad movie on Netflix — 32; New season of “The Crown” streaming on Netflix — 39; Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins — 49; Brexit scheduled — 52; 2019 General Election — 57; 3rd Annual Florida Internet and Television FITCon starts — 59; TaxWatch 40th Annual Meeting — 84; “Frozen 2” debuts — 102; “The Rise of Skywalker” premiers — 102; 2020 Session begins — 127; Florida TaxWatch State of the TaxPayer Dinner in Tallahassee — 128; Iowa Caucuses — 147; New Hampshire Primaries — 155; Florida’s presidential primary — 190; “Black Panther 2” debuts — 240; 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo begin — 319; Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races — 351; 2020 General Election — 421.


Florida, seven other states, investigating Facebook for possible antitrust violations” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — Attorney General Ashley Moody has joined seven other states and the District of Columbia investigating Facebook for possible antitrust violations. The attorneys general are investigating “Facebook’s dominance in the industry and the potential anti-competitive conduct stemming from that dominance.” Facebook, the world’s largest social media company, has been subject to increased scrutiny by the media and federal authorities since the 2016 election when the site was manipulated by Russians trying to sow conflict among Americans. That disclosure led to Facebook being hit with a $5 billion fine by the Federal Trade Commission in July for violating consumers’ privacy, by far the largest fine for privacy violations.

Mark Zuckerberg is facing investigations from seven states — including Florida — for Facebook’s alleged antitrust violations.


Dorian survivors take stock as death toll rises in the Bahamas” via Tonya Alanez of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — It’s one week out, and cleanup and recovery logistics are fluid, hospitals are overwhelmed, and help still can’t reach some of the hardest-hit areas. There’s been talk of a complete evacuation of the Abaco Islands, health officials said. “The death toll is expected to rise, and we know so because we have not been able to reach some places that are still impassible even now,” said Aubynette Rolle, director of risk, quality and patient safety with the Public Hospitals Authority in Nassau. But Rolle did not venture what the new totals might be.

As the death toll rises, survivors of Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas are taking stock of what they’ve lost, and what’s left.

’Not the priority’: Bahamas not lying about Dorian deaths, health minister says” via Jacqueline Charles and Nicholas Nehmas of the Miami Herald — With people reporting on social media that they have personally counted scores of dead bodies, and others asking why the government isn’t telling the truth about the number of individuals who died in the Abacos and on Grand Bahama Island, Health Minister Duane Sands said the narrative is “false” and unfortunate. “I am actually a bit concerned that the focus has been for some people the body count,” Sands said. “It is not the priority. The priority is [to] find those people for their loved ones who are missing them; to take care, provide comfort to those people who are hurt, who are suffering, that’s the priority. To put food in people’s bellies, water in their throat.”

In Bahamas, battered residents ask: Where is our government?” via Kirk Semple, Frances Robles, Rachel Knowles and Elisabeth Malkin of The New York Times — Bahamians are wondering where is the government in the wake of Dorian destruction. They can’t help but notice that, as nonprofits from the islands and America ramp up food, supplies and humanitarian aid, one part has been notably absent — the Bahamanian government. The Bahamas is part of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, a group designed to provide governmental relief and aid to Caribbean nations. This group has been working behind the scenes to mobilize support.

As ships dock in Freeport, desperate Bahamians seek a seat to flee Dorian’s destruction” via Jimena Tavel of the Miami Herald — The MailBoat was one of at least three ships set to depart from the devastated island that night — the Bahamian Paradise Cruise Line’s Grand Celebration, the first humanitarian cruise to dock in Freeport, was heading to Palm Beach, and Baleària’s Jaume ll planned to go to Fort Lauderdale. A crowd of more than 500 Bahamians and Americans packed the harbor, all anxious to leave aboard a vessel — any vessel — and leave behind the horrific scenes on Grand Bahama Island. To head to Florida, refugees had to have a passport and a U.S. visa, or a police record vouching for them. But even with that documentation, it was extremely difficult to hitch a ride somewhere.

Uncertainty and relief as Dorian survivors escape on cruise to Florida” via Hannah Morse and Bailey LeFever of The Palm Beach Post — The Grand Celebration cruise ship returned from its Bahamas relief cruise, bringing more than 1,000 Dorian survivors into the Port of Palm Beach. The cruise ship, which left Thursday with aid and supplies, brought Bahamanians, many who lost everything, to Florida where they can begin to rebuild with friends and family.

More than 1,000 Dorian evacuees made the trip from the Bahamas to the Port of Palm Beach; most of them lost everything.

Silence, devastation mark Bahamas town; but some are staying” via Michael Weissenstein of The Associated Press — Nearly a week after disaster roared in from the sea, the rest of Marsh Harbour on Abaco island felt empty Saturday. No official figures were available, but much of the population of Marsh Harbour, home to most of the roughly 20,000 residents of Abaco, seemed to have already left. Many were staying with relatives in the capital, Nassau, others with family in Florida and other parts of the United States. Abacoans, as island residents are known, describe themselves as a self-sufficient and resourceful, used to making their living from the sea. Blocks and even entire neighborhoods are taken up by extended families, forming instant support networks that went into action ahead of the storm.

In Grand Bahama, a man finally comes home — to nothing” via Andrew Boryga and Brooke Baitinger of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Bradley Forbes rode out Dorian shuffling in and out of four different shelters around downtown Freeport. Forbes was finally able to catch a ride back to the home he’d built for his family in a small neighborhood called Derby, not far from Freeport. Instead, Forbes found only what was left of it. The structure, which he spent sweat and time assembling himself, was completely swept away. Only the foundation remained on the ground, like a tombstone in remembrance of what was. Forbes put his hands on his head and looked at the scene in shock for some moments. He’d suspected that his house might be damaged, but he did not know it would be gone.

Miami politicians helicopter into the Bahamas, with Hurricane Andrew on their minds” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — Sitting in a transport helicopter on the runway of a Freeport airport ravaged by Hurricane Dorian, Miami-Dade Commissioner Barbara Jordan thought back to another Category 5 storm from her past and found no comfort. “What scares me is how long it takes to recover,” said Jordan. “I think about how devastating it was after Andrew. I thought we’d never recover. … It took us 10 years.” The delegation of veteran Miami politicians brought memories of the devastation South Dade suffered when Andrew hit Florida in 1992, a storm that captured the world’s attention only to leave Miami to plod through a tedious recovery in the years that followed.

Vintage plane helps carry aid from Brevard to devastated Bahamas after Hurricane Dorian” via Tim Walters of FLORIDA TODAY — A small paved runway near Sandy Point is the busiest place on the island. Private jets continually fly in, drop off aid and fly out. One such group came from Brevard County, delivering more than 5,000 pounds of supplies collected from residents eager to help. Roughly 75 volunteers converged on Orlando Melbourne International Airport prior to the flights to sort the supplies that were loaded onto five planes. Florida Tech provided the Navajo plane and pilots that carried state Rep. Randy Fine and two members of the media to the Bahamas. The other plane that went to Sandy Point was the Tico Belle, a Douglas C-47 Skytrain that dropped Allied paratroopers over France on D-Day.

Florida agriculture escapes damage from Dorian” via Kevin Bouffard of — “We dodged it — a big bullet, a cannonball,” said George Hamner Jr., president of Indian River Exchange Packers in Vero Beach, a fresh citrus packinghouse and a major grapefruit grower. Dorian had posed the greatest risk to grapefruit because its size makes it vulnerable to be blown off in heavy winds. The storm caused no visible damage to the grapefruit crop, Hamner said. Christa Court, an economist and director of the University of Florida’s Economic Impact Analysis Program, also reported minimal damage to grapefruit or other agriculture along the east coast based on her survey of local agriculture officials following Dorian’s pass. “I’ve received ‘no impact’ reports from seven of Florida’s Atlantic coast counties, which is great news,” said Court.

After Dorian, the Bahamas prepares for another hit — to its crucial tourism industry” via Chabeli Herrera of the Orlando Sentinel — So is the case in the Bahamas now: In an archipelago that counts the $4.3 billion tourism industry as king — it makes up more than 50% of its gross domestic product — vacations exist alongside relief efforts. In Nassau, tourists perused the shops by the port, while on the other side of the city, ships ferried in hundreds of evacuees from the Abacos. Even in CocoCay, where all seems in regular order, hundreds of people worked tirelessly after the passage of the storm to clear the debris, bricks and sand that had washed in with Dorian so that by Saturday, travelers could do what they do best: spend money.

The Bahamas are bracing for another hit; this time its tourism.

Dorian turns weekend cruise into a weeklong trip, but not everyone was happy about it” via Caroline Glenn of the Orlando Sentinel — We were waiting in line to board the Carnival Liberty in Port Canaveral last Friday when someone passed around a letter that said our three-night Labor Day weekend cruise had been extended to a six-night trip. To keep us and thousands of other passengers out of the path of Hurricane Dorian, the Liberty would reroute from the Bahamas to Mexico. We could either climb aboard or cancel and get full credit for a future cruise. We didn’t have trip insurance, so a refund was out of the question. Carnival covered the additional days, meals and ports, but some families complained about the unexpected expenses for alcohol, soft drinks and excursions.

Meanwhile … Tropical Storm Humberto could form from new system close to the Bahamas, 2nd system following Dorian’s path” via Richard Tribou of the Orlando Sentinel — The new system the National Hurricane Center said is a set of disorganized showers and thunderstorms a few hundred miles northeast of the northern Leeward Islands. Its five-day track could bring it over the lower Bahamas or to the east in the Atlantic. Strong upper-level winds prevent the immediate threat of tropical depression formation, but the NHC puts a 20 percent chance of that within five days. “By midweek, environmental conditions could become more conducive for development when the disturbance reaches the southwestern Atlantic Ocean,” the NHC said.


Happening today — University of Florida leaders and Gov. Ron DeSantis will hold a news conference to discuss rankings by U.S. News & World Report, 8:30 a.m., UF Emerson Alumni Hall, 1938 West University Avenue, Gainesville.

Jared Moskowitz on Dorian’s ‘existential threat’ — and what’s next” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Moskowitz is one of many who says Florida dodged a bullet after avoiding a direct impact from Hurricane Dorian. Or was it a cannonball? Maybe a missile? For Moskowitz, who leads the state’s Division of Emergency Management (DEM), it’s hard to overstate the potential damage of Dorian as it was forecast to strike the state. “I mean, this was an existential threat.” Until, thank goodness, it wasn’t. Moskowitz took over the role as DEM head under Gov. DeSantis this year. And in the first hurricane season since taking the position, Moskowitz was tasked with ensuring the state was prepared for a possible direct strike by a Category 5.

Jared Moscowitz says it is hard to overstate the potential damage of Dorian as it approached Florida. Image via the Tallahassee Democrat.


Florida public universities shine in U.S. News and World Report’s college rankings” via Colleen Wright of the Miami Herald — Overall, the University of Florida remains the top university in the state, public or private. It ranked seventh in U.S. News’ list of top public schools and 34th among all universities. Florida State University and the University of Miami have more than just losing football records in common: They also share a No. 57 ranking on the national university list. FIU ranked 105th on the list of top public universities. It ranked 218th among all national universities.

See how your college or university ranked here.

Al Jacquet wants mental health evaluation added to concealed carry license requirements” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — State Rep. Jacquet has filed legislation mandating concealed carry applicants undergo a mental health evaluation. The Riviera Beach Democrat’s bill (HB 117) — a long shot for passage in the Republican-controlled, 2nd Amendment-friendly Legislature — would require that evaluation to be “conducted by a clinical psychologist or a psychiatrist.” The review must find the individual is “competent and of sound mind.” Alternatively, the concealed carry applicant can provide a letter from a physician “stating that the professional has examined the individual and the individual is not suffering from any serious mental illness.” The move by Jacquet comes as Florida lawmakers at the state and federal level have urged for increased action on gun regulation.

Al Jacquet is pushing a mental health evaluation as part of the process to obtain a concealed-weapons permit.

After brutal beating of now-paralyzed Florida inmate, women take to social media to protest” via Julie K. Brown of Miami Herald — Former women inmates of Lowell Correctional Institution in Marion County are using social media to give detailed accounts of the abuse they experienced in custody after a woman was left paralyzed. Cheryl Weimar, an inmate at Lowell, now has quadriplegia. The mentally and physically disabled woman was allegedly beaten almost to death by correctional officers. Now, other women are coming forward to share their abuse stories at the hands of the guards who were supposed to protect them.

Delegations meet — The Sarasota County legislative delegation will meet: Sen. Gruters; Reps. Wengay Newton, Will Robinson, Margaret Good, Tommy Gregory and James Buchanan, 9 a.m., Sarasota County Commission chamber, 1660 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota. The Hillsborough County legislative delegation will meet: Chairing the 13-member delegation is Sen. Darryl Rouson, with Rep. Newton serving as vice-chair, 9:30 a.m., The Regent, 6437 Watson Road, Riverview.

As CDC warns against vaping, medical marijuana community says that doesn’t mean us” via Samantha Gross of the Miami Herald — U.S. public health officials had a strong warning for those who use vaporizers and e-cigarettes Friday afternoon: You should probably stop vaping. The suggestion came shortly after a third vaping-related death due to sudden, acute lung disease was reported in Indiana. In Florida, however, doctors and medical marijuana treatment centers say there is little cause for concern in the state, where about 357,000 patients are approved to use the drug as a medicine. Many of them use a vaporizer to inhale oils or whole flower marijuana. “In the regulated markets, we tend to be as safe as we can,” said Barry Gordon, a Venice-based licensed marijuana doctor and adviser to Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.

Is telehealth about to take off in Florida?via Christine Jordan Sexton of The News Service of Florida — The Department of Health announced that its Division of Medical Quality Assurance is moving ahead with a new proposed rule that will include a form for out-of-state health care providers to register with the appropriate licensing boards … Telehealth, a term insurance companies have coined, involves using the internet and other technology to provide services to patients remotely.

Florida guardianship laws weakened by elder law attorneys’ lobbying. For some courts, exceptions have become the rule” via Jason Garcia and Monivette Cordeiro of the Orlando Sentinel — Five years ago, when Florida lawmakers set out to reform the state’s guardianship laws, they were so concerned about trolling scams that they proposed two major restrictions meant to put a stop to them. One would have forced judges to follow a rotation when appointing a professional guardian for an elderly or disabled person who had just been declared incapacitated. The other would have forbidden a professional guardian who was appointed to oversee a ward on a temporary or emergency basis from later being appointed that person’s permanent ward, too. But by the time Republican-controlled Florida Legislature passed the 2015 law, both restrictions had been substantially eased. The reason: Opposition from the elder-law industry.

The Florida activist is 78. The legal judgment against her is $4 million” via Patricia Mazzei of The New York Times — Maggy Hurchalla has been fighting a public battle with a rock-mining company — and losing. A jury decided last year that Hurchalla should pay $4.4 million in damages to Lake Point Restoration, a company that has a limestone mining operation in Martin County, along Florida’s Treasure Coast. Lake Point sued her for interfering with a contract after she emailed Martin County commissioners, urging them to back out of a water deal with the company that had initially been approved as a public-private partnership that could keep polluted water out of a nearby estuary. Hurchalla argued that she had merely exercised her First Amendment rights.


Donald Trump hats mix with gun control shirts at Vern Buchanan’s town hall” via Zac Anderson of Herald-Tribune — Republican congressman from Longboat Key, Buchanan, led a town hall to a mixed crowd on Saturday. While conservatives and liberals were present, the questions were largely liberal-leaning with a strong emphasis on gun control. “Enough is enough,” said one Sarasota resident, who donned an Indivisible T-shirt. “We’ve spoken. We want universal background checks.” Buchanan agreed with some of the liberal talking points on gun control, while giving underwhelming answers on other issues like the border crisis.

Vern Buchanan’s town hall this weekend featured a mixed crowd. Image via the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.


Debbie Mucarsel-Powell releases new ad on gun safety as Congress returns — Mucarsel-Powell released “We Demand Courage” a new digital advertisement taken from her speech at a Moms Demand Action Rally in Miami last month. Since Congress left for recess six weeks ago, the nation has been gripped by a series of mass shootings, and by the gun violence felt in communities across America every day. As Congress returns to Washington, D.C. this week, gun violence prevention legislation will be a priority for Mucarsel-Powell from her position on the House Judiciary Committee. Watch the ad here:

Miami Dade College is shutting down its Confucius Institute” via Andrew Atterbury of POLITICO Florida — Miami Dade College terminated its contract with the Confucius Institute, effectively shuttering the last of four branches the organization, affiliated with the Chinese government, operated in the Sunshine State. The move, which comes one week since the college’s board of trustees appointed an interim president, was made “due to low and declining enrollment that does not justify the operational cost” of running the program, the school said in a statement. Local leaders and a key area lawmaker, Sen. Marco Rubio, praised Miami Dade College for severing ties with the institute, widely criticized for attempting to influence schools in the U.S. while pushing an edited version of Chinese history.

A Florida Congresswoman is wondering why she can’t talk openly about Russian election hacking” via Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times — Rep. Stephanie Murphy has a bone to pick with the U.S. intelligence community. The Democrat renewed her objection to the lack of public knowledge about Russian attempts to hack into Florida’s electoral system in 2016. Security officials, Murphy argued, have been less than forthcoming about Russia’s interference efforts. It took Murphy ― and her Republican colleague, Michael Waltz ― requesting a private briefing for officials to disclose that two counties had been penetrated by Russians, Murphy writes. And in fact, there may have been even more counties affected. Murphy herself is not sure.

Happening today — U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist will help host a panel discussion about the impacts on veterans of cannabis prohibitions, 4 p.m., Longworth House Office Building, Room 1539, 15 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C.

Happening today — State Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez will take part in a news conference to criticize the Trump administration about deporting people to Cuba, 2:30 p.m., Freedom Tower, 600 Biscayne Blvd., Miami.

— 2020 —

Manager: Trump family building ‘dynasty’ for decades to come” via Michael R. Blood of AP News — Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale, said at a California campaign stop, Trump’s “dynasty” will last for decades. He credits the family for changing the Republican Party into one that infuses conservative values into an evolving American culture. Facing a challenging outlook in 2020, Parscale wants to build an army of volunteers to help keep red seats in the 2020 election, and of course, keeping Trump’s seat is their top priority.

Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign manager says the President is setting up a ‘dynasty’ that will last for decades.

Former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford to challenge Trump in primary, says Republicans ‘have lost our way’” via Meg Kinnard of The Associated Press — “I am here to tell you now that I am going to get in,” Sanford said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.” ”This is the beginning of a long walk.” When asked why he was taking on an incumbent who’s popular within the Party, Sanford, who has acknowledged his slim chances by saying he doesn’t expect to become president, said: “I think we need to have a conversation on what it means to be a Republican. I think that as the Republican Party, we have lost our way.” “This vanity project is going absolutely nowhere,” said Drew McKissick, the South Carolina Republican Party chairman.

CNN, human rights campaign to host Democratic presidential town hall focused on LGBTQ issues” via Mark Preston of CNN — HRC said the October 10 prime-time event, airing live on the eve of National Coming Out Day, will feature the largest-ever audience for a Democratic presidential town hall devoted to LGBTQ issues. The candidates will take questions from the audience and CNN journalists on specific LGBTQ concerns as well as their plans to promote equality and civility. “This town hall comes at a critical time in our fight to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people in this nation,” said Alphonso David, who was recently named HRC president. The Democratic candidates will appear in back-to-back town halls throughout the evening from The Novo in Los Angeles.

Top trio far ahead in 2020 Democratic poll” via David Cohen of POLITICO — The three top candidates in the Democratic field are the only contenders polling in double-digits, according to a Washington Post-ABC poll released Sunday. Former Vice President Joe Biden at 29 percent, Sen. Bernie Sanders at 19 percent and Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 18 percent are the top contenders by far in the Post-ABC poll — attracting the support of approximately two-thirds of those registered Democratic voters polled. Sen. Kamala Harris sits in fourth place with 7 percent, followed by Pete Buttigieg at 4 percent. Only four others drew more than 1 percent support. Biden has another advantage reflected in the poll: 45 percent of those polled list the former vice president as having the best chance to defeat Trump.

Elizabeth Warren rises as Joe Biden clings to delegate edge” via Anthony Salvanto, Jennifer De Pinto, Kabir Khanna and Fred Backus of CBS News — The former vice president now clings to a narrow lead over Warren in our CBS News/YouGov Tracker estimate of convention delegates — the only count that ultimately matters — with an estimated 600 delegates of all delegates available through Super Tuesday, to Warren’s 545. Warren has gained delegate share as supporters of other, lower-tier candidates have been switching their preferences toward her. Bernie Sanders rounds out the top tier of candidates with 286 delegates in a race that has tightened substantially over the summer. Biden‘s position is helped by amassing enough delegates from South Carolina and other Southern states, as well as consistently strong showings elsewhere to keep him up in the overall delegate standings — albeit not by much.

Joe Biden is still ahead in the delegate race, but Elizabeth Warren is slowly making gains.

’I don’t see any path for Biden to win the nomination without South Carolina’” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO — Advisers to the former vice president began lowering expectations about winning both Iowa and New Hampshire — where white voters will cast more than 90 percent of the primary vote — and directing attention toward South Carolina and the South, where black voters will cast a majority of the primary vote in a handful of states on Super Tuesday. It doesn’t mean Biden is conceding the first two nominating contests, just that his campaign views South Carolina — where more than 60 percent of the primary voters are African American — as the one early primary it absolutely cannot afford to lose.

Kamala Harris’ team huddles to plot path forward” via Tarini Parti and Emily Glazer of the Wall Street Journal — In the first meeting with a broader group, Harris’ sister and campaign chairwoman, Maya Harris, along with media consultant Jim Margolis, were questioned by some donors on the Senator’s stagnant poll numbers in the Democratic presidential primary. The Harris aides talked up Harris’ key endorsements in early states, appeal to young voters and their view of the vulnerability of former Vice President Biden’s poll numbers, people familiar with the meetings said. The advisers in the second meeting, with a smaller group of top donors, focused more on the need for voters to know Harris better — and on the campaign’s strategy to accomplish that through clearer messaging of her values and policy positions, the people said.

2020 Democrats warm to mandatory ‘buybacks’ of assault weapons” via Sahil Kapur of Bloomberg — Democrats are starting to consider a “mandatory buybacks” proposal as a good option for getting assault weapons off the streets. The plan, which would allow the government to buy back assault weapons from owners, is controversial. Prominent Democratic candidates, Harris, Cory Booker and Beto O’Rourke, have publicly supported the initiative on the 2020 campaign trail.

— OUCH —

’The most immoral, unethical thing I’ve ever seen in my 15 years of politics’ — inside a small city mayor’s campaign for President” via Ryan Brooks and Diya Amlani of Busby’s — Wayne Messam has not found much of an audience or appeared in any debates. And now, according to internal campaign documents and interviews with eight former Messam campaign staffers and contractors, his campaign seems to be in near-total disarray. Staff members claim that Wayne and his wife, Angela Messam, have refused to pay them for their work. Staffers and vendors said they were never fully compensated for their work on the campaign and, in some cases, weren’t paid at all for expenses they’d fronted from their own bank accounts, including business cards for the campaign and flights, hotel rooms, and security costs for a trip to the Middle East.

Staff members and campaign workers are saying Wayne Messam’s presidential campaign is in near-disarray, and they have not been fully compensated for their work.


Keep Our Constitution Clean’ gets $1.8 million boost” via News Service of Florida — A political committee seeking to make it harder to amend the Florida Constitution received more than $1.8 million in contributions in August as it quickly gathers petition signatures. The Keep Our Constitution Clean committee is backing a proposal that would require voters to approve constitutional amendments twice — instead of once — for them to take effect. The committee received $1.84 million in contributions in August, with almost all of the total listed as in-kind contributions of petition gathering from a nonprofit known as Keep Our Constitution Clean, Inc. As of Friday morning, the Keep Our Constitution Clean committee had submitted 56,913 valid petition signatures to the state Division of Elections.

Alan Cohn says he’ll file today to run for Ross Spano’s congressional seat” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — State Rep. Adam Hattersley is already running for the nomination in District 15, which covers eastern Hillsborough and the Lakeland and Clermont areas. Cohn’s announcement presages a tough primary battle. Cohn, formerly with WFTS-Ch. 28 in Tampa, ran unsuccessfully for the congressional seat in 2014 against its previous occupant, Republican Dennis Ross. He then became anchor and managing editor of a news and talk show on Sarasota’s WWSB-Ch. 7, and now has a local communications consulting company.

Loranne Ausley heading south for Senate campaign fundraisers” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — The first is tonight at YOLO in Fort Lauderdale; the second will be Sept. 10 at The Biltmore’s Marbella Room in Coral Gables. The Fort Lauderdale funder will be attended by Sens. Oscar Braynon, Farmer, Kevin Rader and Perry Thurston as well as Reps. Bobby DuBose, Kristin Jacobs and Evan Jenne. Round two features Braynon and fellow Sens. Jason Pizzo and Taddeo as well as Reps. Nick Duran, Joe Geller and Javier Fernandez, who recently launched his own Senate bid. Ausley has been running for Senate District 3 since August 2018. The district is currently held by Sen. Bill Montford, who cannot run for reelection because of term limits.

Republican Robert Prater challenges Carlos Guillermo Smith in HD 49” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Educator and former Orange County School Board candidate Prater has filed to run against Democratic state Rep. Smith in HD 49 in Orange County. Prater finished a distant fourth in the 2018 election for Orange County School Board chair, a contest won by Teresa Jacobs. Prater is dean and part of the leadership team at Oak Hill Elementary School. In a news release, Prater described the context once used by Republican state Rep. Rene Plasencia, a former teacher who once represented HD 49 and now represents the adjacent House District 50. “Education is sorely underrepresented in Tallahassee, and I’m ready to step up and represent our excellent educators across the state of Florida,” Prater declared.

Republican Robert Prater — a fourth-place finisher for Orange County School Board — is challenging Democratic incumbent Carlos Guillermo Smith for HD 49.

Scott Hottenstein to run against Mike Beltran in HD 57” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — The Riverview Democrat is the first so far the only candidate who has signed up to run for the seat. Hottenstein is a former Republican who changed his party registration last year when he ran for a seat on the Hillsborough County School Board. When he announced the party switch, he told the Tampa Bay Times that he ” came to realize that my values and views on education were more closely aligned with the Democratic Party.” Those views include education funding, the support of teachers’ unions, and “keeping guns out of the classroom,” he said, adding, “I’ve always been a moderate.”

Elizabeth Fetterhoff holding Sept. 26 fundraiserThe event will be held Sept. 26 at Persimmon Hollow in DeLand, 111 West Georgia Ave, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Those looking to attend can pass along an RSVP to Katie Ballard. The House District 26 lawmaker hasn’t drawn an opponent for the 2020 contest — yet. But in advance of what could be another tight race, her reelection campaign has gotten off to a solid start on the fundraising trail. Through the end of August, she had raised more than $63,000 in hard money and had about $52,000 in the bank. She has another $3,700 in her affiliated political committee, United for Florida’s Future.

Rhonda Rebman Lopez becomes third Republican to enter HD 120 race” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Lopez joins Islamorada Councilman and former Mayor Jim Mooney, and attorney Alexandria Suarez. “I am ready to work for our families, our children, our seniors, our veterans and to continue my service to our community,” Lopez said in a statement. “For the last 25 years, I’ve dedicated my time to helping nonprofit organizations in our area, including the Jackson Hospital Foundation, Holtz Children’s Hospital and the American Cancer Society. As a Florida Keys resident, I’ve also supported groups who work to protect our natural resources and our water quality, including the Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary and the Florida Wildlife Society. I want to give our residents and all of our community organizations a voice in Tallahassee.”

Bibiana Potestad tops $50K in first month as HD 105 candidate” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — That puts her well ahead of her current crowd in the contest, which is expected to be competitive. Potestad is one of four Republicans running for the HD 105 seat. She announced her candidacy Aug. 1, with an official campaign kickoff coming just under two weeks later. “As the first month of our campaign comes to an end, I am very happy to announce that we raised $50,475, exceeding the goal we had set,” Potestad said in a statement. Javier Estevez is currently the only Democratic candidate in the race.

Maria Sachs announces did for Palm Beach County Commission — Former Democratic state Senator and attorney Sachs declared her candidacy for the Palm Beach County Commission in District 5.  District 5 is made up of unincorporated portions of Boca Raton, Delray Beach, and Boynton Beach.  Sachs previously represented this area in the Florida Legislature for the past decade.  Declaring her candidacy, she stated: “My entire career I have spent fighting for the people of Palm Beach County in Tallahassee. Now I am ready to bring that experience, leadership and fight home to the Palm Beach County Commission.” Her legislative efforts have increased protection for homeowners, funded opportunities for classroom teachers, safeguarded our seniors, and honored our veterans.  While in the Senate, Maria was elected by her peers to serve as Chairman of the Palm Beach County Legislative Delegation


As storm approached, why did county officials stop talking?” via Jane Musgrave of the Palm Beach Post — For nearly two days, those in charge of keeping the county’s roughly 1.5 million residents safe held no press conferences, preferring to instead issue about a dozen statements on social media to explain the dangers posed by the storm. Oddly, county officials now say, they stopped talking because it started appearing likely that the Category 5 storm was likely to miss the county entirely. “While we were pretty confident we were not going to be in the cone of concern, and it was going to hook north, we didn’t want to overestimate that potential and have residents celebrating and taking off their shutters and forget there was a monster storm 100 miles off our coast,” said County Commissioner Robert Weinroth.

Second fatal shooting in 24 hours in Tallahassee leaves man dead outside movie theater” via Tori Schneider of Tallahassee Democrat — Two fatal shootings in 24 hours leave Tallahassee residents rattled. A man is dead after first responders arrived at Regal Governor’s Square movie theater. This is the second fatal shooting they’ve responded to in less than a day’s time. The larger picture for Tallahassee is there have been around 50 shooting incidents this year. Of them, 14 were fatal. It is an unfortunate milestone for the city that has the highest crime rate in Florida.

A 16-year-old is in custody after a fatal shooting at the Regal Governor’s Square movie theater — Tallahassee’s second shooting in 24 hours and the 50th recorded incident of gun violence so far this year in the city and Leon County.

First Amendment group asks state attorney to investigate if airport board broke Sunshine Laws” via Beth Kassab of the Orlando Sentinel — The First Amendment Foundation requested State Attorney Aramis Ayala investigate whether any members of the public board that controls Orlando International Airport violated Florida’s Sunshine Law in regards to a plan to hire new attorneys for the airport. Barbara Petersen, president of the foundation, told Ayala her request was prompted by Orlando Sentinel reports which Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings called “unprecedented” and “dangerous.” “The only two no votes came from Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, both of whom questioned whether there had been discussions among board members prior to the public meeting,” Petersen wrote. 

Johns Hopkins All Children’s faces record state fines” via Kathleen McGrory and Neil Bedi of the Tampa Bay Times — State regulators intend to hit Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital with some of the largest fines levied against a Florida hospital in recent memory, delivering a stinging rebuke to the prestigious institution. The fines will add up to $804,000.

Dan Gelber gets second term as Miami Beach Mayor. Here’s who’s running for Commission seats” via Martin Vassolo of Miami Herald — Miami Beach Mayor Gelber gets a second term. This was determined when his two contenders failed to qualify ahead of the election. However, there are two commission seats up for grabs. Incumbent-Commissioner, Ricky Arriola holds one. The other is an open seat that was once held by Former Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez. Rosen Gonzalez, who lost her congressional bid, will compete for her seat. Both will face a slew of contenders and several challenges.

New push to make superintendent an elective office” via David Bauerlein of the Florida Times-Union — A month after state Rep. Jason Fischer filed a bill that would have turned the elected Duval County School Board into a mayoral-appointed board, Fischer changed course and said he will instead seek the state Legislature’s approval for a voter referendum on whether the school superintendent should be an elective office. Fischer said giving voters the ability to elect the superintendent — currently hired by the School Board — would give them more influence over what happens in the school district. “I don’t think the status quo is working in our school system,” Fischer said. “I don’t think that all kids are being served, and change starts at the top.”

First Baptist Church Jacksonville consolidating downtown campus” — via Teresa Strepzinski of the Florida Times-Union — A pillar of faith in downtown Jacksonville for 181 years, First Baptist Church plans to consolidate its sprawling 10-block campus into one block in an effort to eliminate skyrocketing maintenance costs, while also rebuilding its dwindling congregation by extending its ministry to growing areas of Duval County. The congregation Sunday morning overwhelmingly approved the plan that calls for borrowing $30 million to pay for the estimated 18- to 24-month project centered on the church’s historic Hobson Auditorium. Senior Pastor Heath Lambert detailed the proposal during his sermon at the morning service attended by an estimated 3,000 people in the main auditorium of the Beaver Street church.


It’s not about public policy with the Democrats. It’s populism vs. pragmatism.” via Adam Goodman for the Tampa Bay Times — Although the Democratic nomination fight is quickly devolving into a three-way Biden-Warren-Sanders showdown, it will not be won by ideology (liberal versus moderate) but by the tectonic shift now driving political fortune (and misfortune) in democracies across the planet. The populists have the pragmatists on the run, with little to stop them. What feels good is winning out over what may be best, fueled by the frenetic force of social media that’s summarily replacing institutions with more instinct and experience with emotion, and professionals with pretenders. Imagine a freshly crowned populist from the left squaring off against the ultimate populist from the right a year from now. Get your tickets early for that one, because every campaign playbook would fly right out the window…and into the annals of history.

Here’s why Florida should ratify the Equal Rights Amendment” via Tampa Bay Times — Why should Florida ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)? The verbiage, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex” seems obvious. It seems so obvious many people already think it exists in the constitution. Instead, it’s something that lawmakers have been talking about for decades. Throughout that time, 37 states have ratified the ERA, if one more state joins it will become part of the constitution.

Assault weapons ban faces a tough political test” via Bill Cotterell of the Tallahassee Democrat — How can we estimate how many lives won’t be lost, how many people won’t be crippled, if the pending petition drive succeeds in putting a constitutional amendment on next year’s ballot, and it passes? Should we include the unknowable future earnings potential of an unknowable number of people who won’t get shot? Or just the hospital and law-enforcement costs? What’s a reasonable estimate of how much taxpayers will have to spend on a gun-registration system for law-abiding owners whose rifles would be “grandfathered in” next year? And what about the costs of catching, trying and imprisoning those who deliberately defy the ban — do we deduct from that figure whatever income the state might derive from fines they’ll pay?

How a bad Florida law attacks our democracy and takes away our freedom” via Steve Bousquet of South Florida Sun-Sentinel — In the law-signing fervor of June, just before 2019’s end of the congressional session, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a law that allows Republican lawmakers to make it harder to petition the government. One advocate, Christopher Kennard, of Floridians for Freedom, has started a slow-going GoFundMe to challenge the law in courts. “This was the only way we could bypass politicians. This is the only avenue we had,” said Kennard.


Personnel note: Greg Black opens own influence firm” via Florida Politics — Black has departed the fold at Gunster and struck out on his own, starting last week, he tells Florida Politics. “I spent the last couple years in a large law firm serving my book of business, but I always had in the back of my mind the desire, the goal to have my own operation,” he said in a recent phone interview. “To have a little more autonomy and flexibility. With an early (2020 Legislative) Session, it seemed like now is the right time to do it.”

Personnel note: Natalie Fausel joins Anfield Consulting” via Florida Politics — Fausel has joined the Tallahassee-based public affairs firm, it announced in a news release. Fausel, who has over two decades of experience in land use, water resources, and climate resilience, began with Anfield last week. “Natalie’s background with clean energy, water conservation, and sustainability make her a perfect fit for our firm,” Albert Balido, founder of Anfield Consulting, said in a statement.

Personnel note: Julie Fazekas joins Amanda Bevis’ Red Hills Strategies” via Florida Politics — The Red Hills Strategies team is growing with the addition of Fazekas, said firm founder Bevis. “Julie brings a wealth of experience to the team in managing projects, planning events, and building grassroots and coalitions,” Bevis said. Fazekas most recently worked at the Florida Hospital Association overseeing political committee events and activities. She previously worked on Adam Putnam’s campaign and at his Florida Grown Political Committee.

Matt Spritz opens new lobbying firm powered by ‘passion’ for The Process” via Florida Politics — For someone as young as Spritz, it’s a shock to realize how much he’s a veteran of Florida politics and The Process. Originally from South Florida, the 36-year-old served in Tallahassee in both the legislative and executive branches of state government, was a candidate himself for the House, managed or consulted on numerous campaigns … Now Spritz — a third-generation Floridian — is taking that expertise to the next level, opening The Spritz Group as its Managing Partner. The full-service lobbying firm has, as he puts it, “a passion for Florida state and local government affairs.”

Personnel note: Ryan Dailey promoted at WFSU News Dailey is being promoted to the local “All Things Considered” host after a little more than a year at the North Florida radio station, says Lynn Hatter, News Director for WFSU-FM/Florida Public Radio. The spot remained open after longtime host Sascha Cordner left for WABE in Atlanta. (WFSU hosts are considered the “voices” of the station.) Dailey — a 28-year-old Nashua, New Hampshire native — previously was K-12 education reporter for the Tallahassee Democrat. “You can hear Ryan every day, 4 p.m.-6 p.m., on WFSU News 88.9 in Tallahassee, and 89.1 in Panama City,” Hatter says.

— ALOE —

What Steve Schale and Kevin Sweeny are reading —Pensacola stakes claim as ‘oldest city’ with banner over St. Augustine” via Travis Gibson of The St. Augustine Record — As St. Augustine residents celebrated that they’re the oldest established city in America, Perfect Plain Brewery owner, DC Reeves, sent a banner into the sky that read: “1. Pensacola 2. St. Augustine.” His argument? The Spanish founded Pensacola before St. Augustine, so it should be recognized as the oldest city. Experts on St. Augustine say the colony founded by the Spanish in Pensacola was abandoned in as little as two years, making St. Augustine the first established city.

The city of Pensacola arranged to have a banner fly over St. Augustine disputing the claim that it’s the oldest city in America. Image via the St. Augustine Record.


Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


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