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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 9.27.19

Get your fix of Florida politics with Sunburn.

I did not want too much more time to pass before I thanked the many caring and considerate people who have reached out to us since the passing of Michelle‘s beloved father, Benjamin Todd. It has been a truly difficult time. It is a miracle that this email has gone out each morning, save one day. For that, I am grateful to all of my dedicated colleagues, especially Phil Ammann and Jim Rosica.

Many of you asked about the schedule for Benjamin’s funeral, etc. Ella Joyce’s birthday party is this weekend, with her birthday on October 5th. Papa Ben would not have wanted to see those events impacted, even by his untimely death. So we are planning a ‘celebration of life’ service for Saturday, October 12. Thank you to those of you who have sent flowers and plants to our home. I can’t express how much they have lifted Michelle’s spirits.

Benjamin W. Todd’s obituary can be read here.


@RealDonaldTrump: A whistleblower with secondhand information? Another Fake News Story! See what was said on the very nice, no pressure, call. Another Witch Hunt!

@BenjySarlin: Whatever else we learn about them, the whistleblower sure knows how to write a lede

@RepValDemings: A question for my GOP colleagues: would you accept foreign interference in your own election? Would you ask for it? If the answer is no, then you understand that President [Donald] Trump‘s actions were corrupt. If the answer is yes, you’re admitting that you would break the law.

@Fineout: Earlier @marcorubio said that he had “more questions than answers” re the complaint & couldn’t discuss more it bc there’s material Senate Intel was looking at. Tonight his campaign said it was rereleasing “Florida Stands With Trump” bumper stickers to donors who chip in $10

@ZachSampson: On impeachment investigation in DC, Gov. @RonDeSantisFL says he did not watch today’s testimony and called DC politics “such a charade.” Wishes they’d “focus on issues that really matter” to the American people, but they’re “preoccupied with investigations.”

@GwenGraham: Do NOT believe the @GovRonDeSantis’ bipartisan spin. He is a mini @realDonaldTrump. To the Floridians (Rs, Ds, Is) who have said, “He isn’t as bad as I thought he would be.” I say, “No, he is worse.” Pay attention, Florida. Actions speak louder than words.

Tweet, tweet:

@MichaelEMoline: The child would be the fourth born to an incumbent Florida Governor, according to the late House clerk Alan Morris’ Florida Handbook.

@ElectJavier: I am a day late, but Happy #NationalDaughtersDay to my beautiful Susanna. As beautiful as she is on the outside, she is even more beautiful on the inside. I couldn’t be more proud of my girl!

@MarcACaputo: “Miami Pool Boy Hostel” sounds like quite the @Pornhub production


First, all of us at Sunrise want to congratulate Ron and Casey DeSantis, who are expecting their third child.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— In Bay County, the Governor unveiled the first in a series of grants to help towns like Mexico Beach hard-hit by Hurricane Michael.

— As impeachment talk swirls in Washington, DeSantis is launching a new fundraising campaign to defend Trump.

— And the author of a new book on the confirmation battle over Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh weighs in on the political circus in D.C.

Jim Rosica, veteran Tallahassee reporter and resident legal expert for Florida Politics, gives his take on the appointment of a new chief judge at DOAH and the latest legal machinations at The Capitol.

— A Florida woman named “Crystal” has been arrested for meth, just a few hours after her older sister was busted for the same crime in another part of town.

To listen to the new Sunrise, click on the image below:


SNL season premiere with Woody Harrelson — 1; End of the third fundraising quarter — 3; Deadline to qualify for the Democrats’ October debates — 4; 850 Hemp Summit begins — 5; “Joker” opens — 7; NBA 2020 Preseason begins — 7; Triple Force Friday: the next generation of Star Wars products arrives — 7; CNN hosts candidate town hall on LGBTQ issues — 13; Debut of Breaking Bad movie on Netflix — 14; New season of “The Crown” streaming on Netflix — 21; “Watchmen” premieres on HBO — 23; Florida Chamber Future of Florida Forum begins — 31; Brexit scheduled — 34; 2019 General Election — 39; 3rd Annual Florida Internet and Television FITCon starts — 41; “The Mandalorian” premieres — 56; “Frozen 2” debuts — 56; TaxWatch 40th Annual Meeting — 66; “The Rise of Skywalker” premiers — 84; 2020 Session begins — 109; Florida TaxWatch State of the TaxPayer Dinner in Tallahassee — 110; Iowa Caucuses — 129; New Hampshire Primaries — 139; Florida’s presidential primary — 172; “Black Panther 2” debuts — 222; 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo begin — 301; Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races — 333; 2020 General Election — 403.


The 1 piece of the whistleblower complaint that poses the biggest threat to Donald Trump” via Chris Cillizza of CNN — The nine-page whistleblower complaint released Thursday morning amounts to pouring jet fuel on the already-raging fire of whether or not President Donald Trump sought to use his office to further his personal political agenda in a series of interactions between his administration and the Ukrainians.

Donald Trump’s political defense: Play the victim card” via Gabby Orr and Daniel Lippman of POLITICO — With impeachment, campaign officials and White House allies believe Trump has gained a formidable advantage in his bid for reelection: one that energizes his core supporters, places a segment of independent voters at odds with his opponents and potentially imperils swing-state Democrats whose constituents adamantly oppose his early removal from office. To the Trump team, it’s the perfect opportunity to make Americans feel sorry for a president who has rarely pitied anyone but himself. “Democrats overreaching has been such a political gift to Trump, over and over again. They’ve been screaming ‘treason!’ and ‘impeachment!’ after nearly everything that happens,” said former Trump adviser Cliff Sims. “Middle America is mostly numb to it.”

With impeachment inquiries, Donald Trump gets to play the victim card.

With Trump under threat, his allies are seizing on various defenses. Most aren’t great.” Via Philip Bump of The Washington Post — Over the past week, they’ve had to follow Trump’s shifting explanations as information came out. (Remember when Trump claimed that he was just looking to combat corruption?) With the past two days’ document releases — the rough transcript of a call with Ukraine’s president and a complaint from an intelligence community whistleblower — his defenders have been operating on quickly shifting terrain. With that in mind, we decided to evaluate those arguments. How effective have Trump’s team and his defenders been at repelling the looming allegations? The answer, in short, is: not terribly.

Whistleblower reaction: Rick Scott defends Trump, Marco Rubio can’t talk specifics” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — Rubio now finds himself in the middle of another high-profile intelligence investigation. The Florida Republican is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, a body that is investigating a whistleblower complaint alleging that Trump abused his power “to solicit interference” from Ukraine in the 2020 election, and White House officials tried to cover it up. Rubio said Thursday he read a partially declassified report that gave him “more questions than answers” about the president’s conduct. He wouldn’t say what his specific questions are regarding the complaint that prompted House Democrats to announce an impeachment investigation because the committee is reviewing additional classified material related to the complaint.

Ron DeSantis launches ‘Presidential Protection Fund,’ as Florida Democrats play key role in Trump impeachment probe” via Steven Lemongello and Gray Rohrer of the Orlando Sentinel — DeSantis launched a “Presidential Protection Fund” as Florida Republicans rallied around Trump, and Democrats, including Orlando U.S. Rep. Val Demings, played key roles in the impeachment hearings. DeSantis, who has credited Trump for his come-from-behind victory, went the furthest in backing the president by pleading for donations to a Presidential Protection Fund in a Florida GOP email. “Now that Democrats are officially moving to impeach our duly elected president, my duty to protect him isn’t over,” DeSantis wrote. “As Governor of Florida, I want the President to know that we have his back in this fight 100 percent so today I’m issuing the Presidential Protection Fund to fight back against this disgusting attempt to overturn a legitimate U.S. election.”

Matt Gaetz gets White House briefing on Ukraine calls As reported by Axios, some of Trump’s most vocal supporters were invited to the White House Wednesday to review notes from his call to the Ukrainian president and develop talking points to defend him in the press. Among those at the table: U.S. Rep. Gaetz. He was joined by U.S. Sens. David Perdue, Ron Johnson, and Shelly Moore Capito, as well as U.S. Reps. Jim Jordan, Devin Nunes, John Ratcliffe and Mark Meadows. The expected outcome? Republicans are likely to “discredit the whistle-blower’s complaint, the media’s account of the memo, and the process by which it’s all coming to light.”

Matt Gaetz, a vocal Donald Trump supporter, was invited to review notes from the president’s call to Ukrainian Pres. Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Support for impeachment jumps in new poll” via Steven Shepard of POLITICO — Voters are now evenly split on whether Congress should begin impeachment proceedings against Trump, a marked increase in support for impeachment, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll. The poll shows 43 percent of voters think Congress should begin the process of impeachment, while an equal number of poll respondents say Congress shouldn’t begin impeachment proceedings. Another 13 percent of voters are undecided. Support for impeachment is up 7 points from the previous poll, which was conducted Friday through Sunday. In that survey, only 36 percent of voters supported starting impeachment proceedings, while 49 percent opposed them.

An angry NRCC targets Florida Democrats for wanting to impeach Trump” via Kevin Derby of the Sunshine State News — The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) served notice to Democrats in swing districts it will make their support of impeaching Trump a campaign issue in 2020. The NRCC took aim at U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist after he said he backed impeaching Trump. “Charlie Crist is all aboard the baseless impeachment train and abandoning working for the people of FL-13,” the NRCC insisted. “But after joining the DCCC leadership team, it’s not surprising that Charlie has decided to put his political party over Floridians. “Charlie Crist is a true career politician who will do anything for his party, even support baseless impeachment while abandoning working on the real issues that matter to Floridians,” said NRCC Spokeswoman Camille Gallo.

Meet the Soviet-born businessmen tangled in Trump’s impeachment inquiry. They live in Florida” via Nicholas Nehamas, Kevin G. Hall, Tess Riski and Ben Wieder of the Miami Herald — Two South Florida businessmen from the former Soviet Union could find themselves dragged into an impeachment inquiry targeting Trump over their political activities in Ukraine. Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman were cited — although not by name — in a government whistleblower complaint released Thursday alleging improper behavior by the president. Parnas and Fruman helped introduce Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, into top Ukrainian political circles, according to widespread media accounts. A July 25 telephone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy led House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to announce an impeachment inquiry earlier this week. During the call, Trump pressured his counterpart to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, sparking the whistleblower complaint and widespread public concern.


Ron DeSantis endorses pay cut for Florida GOP chair, raise for Trump’s hand-picked executive director” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — DeSantis endorsed a pay cut for state Republican Party Chairman Joe Gruters to boost the salary of the party’s new executive director, whose hiring the Governor helped orchestrate. DeSantis said Gruters’s $120,000-a-year salary could be shaved to give more money to Executive Director Peter O’Rourke, who was hand-picked for the job by Trump after a prolonged power struggle that led to the ouster of his predecessor. O’Rourke is Trump’s former acting secretary of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. “I think that is appropriate. I think the guy we have in there as executive director is a very considerable guy,” DeSantis told reporters after an event in Mexico Beach.

DeSantis maintains Scott Israel is responsible for bad response the Parkland shooting” via Lynn Hatter of WFSU — Ahead of the Florida Senate convening Oct. 21 in a special session to weigh whether to reinstate Israel, DeSantis is making his feelings on the matter known. “I am so glad the Senate is finally going to vote on this thing,” DeSantis told reporters following a news conference in Mexico Beach. “There’s no doubt there was incompetence and neglect of duty, and Florida law says the sheriff is responsible for the conduct. So, I think the Senators will separate the wheat from the chaff on that and I think they’ll do the right thing.” DeSantis calls the meeting “an opportunity for accountability.

Despite a Special Master saying he was wrong to let the Broward County Sheriff go, Ron DeSantis insists that Scott Israel is responsible for the shootings at Parkland.

Nikki Fried wants to modernize utilities’ energy conservation goals — Agriculture Commissioner Fried said s a portal he wants to repeal a 40-year-old state law that requires utilities to set energy conservation goals and replace it with a more modern set of standards, reports Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida. Fried said she plans to roll out “pretty ambitious” legislation next week that would track greenhouse gas emissions, provide financial incentives for renewable energy on farms and fund climate adaptation and agricultural resiliency. She said she wouldn’t propose legislation next year to repeal the conservation law, but said it should happen before the next goal-setting cycle in five years.

Fried faces criticism: ‘Why is she accepting money from fossil fuel companies,’” via Mitch Perry of the Florida Phoenix —Last month, Fried’s political committee got a $25,000 contribution from one of the state’s biggest utility companies – Florida Power & Light Company. The August 30 contribution came as the company was waiting to hear from a state regulatory agency regarding energy efficiency goals.

Senate sets schedules for October meetings” via News Service of Florida — The Senate has released tentative schedules for back-to-back committee weeks in October, with one of the weeks also including a special session to determine the fate of suspended Broward County Sheriff Israel. Time has been set aside for four days of meetings during the week starting Oct. 14, including an Appropriations Committee meeting slated for Oct. 17. The Senate has planned five days of meetings during the week beginning Oct. 21, with the special session happening along with committee meetings. Senate President Bill Galvano called the special session Wednesday after receiving recommendations from Special Master Dudley Goodlette in the Israel case.

House outlines October committee meetings” via the News Service of Florida — Tentative schedules show the House setting aside time for four days of meetings the week of Oct. 14-18 and four days of meetings the week of Oct. 21-25. The schedules include meetings of the Appropriations Committee on Oct. 14 and Oct. 22 and dozens of other meetings of committees and subcommittees. The Senate also will hold committee meetings during those weeks and will hold a special session starting Oct. 21 to consider the fate of suspended Broward County Sheriff Israel. Senate President Galvano called the Special Session after receiving a recommendation from Special Master Dudley Goodlette that Israel be reinstated to the Sheriff’s job.

Brevard fireworks: Delegation Chair Tom Wright threatens to excuse members who share packets” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The Brevard County Legislative Delegation meeting heated up well in advance when the chair, state Sen. Wright, threatened to excuse other members from the meeting if they shared their delegation packets without his permission. “Hello trusted members;” a text from Wright began. “The Delegation Binder was provided in advance to delegation members as a courtesy to allow you time to prepare for our meeting on the 25th. Copies of these binders are not allowed, and anyone making copies without my express written permission will be excused from the delegation meeting. Thank You!” Wright, of New Smyrna Beach, contended he does have the right to do so. “The chairman sets the rules,” Wright added.

Ardian Zika files PACE bill — Land O’ Lakes Rep. Zika filed a bill this week that would add consumer protections for Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) loans. PACE loans allow homeowners to borrow money for improvements and pay off their debt through assessments on their property tax bill. As reported by Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida, Zika filed the bill at the request of Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano, who said some homeowners cannot afford to pay their tax bill. The legislation would require payments to be based on income rather than home equity. “It’s really sad we have homeowners who are being sold something they don’t need, especially when it comes to a solar system,” Fasano said.


Tropical Storm Karen set to loop and fall apart after turn toward Florida; Hurricane Lorenzo keeps strengthening” via Joe Mario Pedersen and Cristóbal Reyes of the Orlando Sentinel — Tropical Storm Karen is expected to dissipate by early next week before it can reach Florida, while Hurricane Lorenzo continued strengthening after becoming a Category 4 major storm Thursday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center.

’Long-term’ recovery continues is Michael anniversary nears” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — With the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Michael approaching, local first responders received a $1.1 million grant from the state, the first distribution from a $25 million fund approved this spring by lawmakers as part of hurricane relief. DeSantis called the money a “lifeline” to cover salaries and other costs for the fire and police departments in Mexico Beach, the coastal community with a $3.5 million annual budget that was ground zero for Michael. “We just realize that this is a long-term deal,” DeSantis said during a news conference. “This is something that is going to require a sustained effort.”

The anniversary of Michael is approaching, and long-term recovery continues.

Raiding state housing funds hurts disabled Floridians who need homes” via Lloyd Dunkelberger of the Florida Phoenix — A modest brick house with a metal roof and white shutters in Bradford County is one way to look at the Florida Legislature’s annual debate over affordable housing funding.

Florida looks to regulate elephant rides before issue turns into a three-ring circus with animal rights groups” via Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — Proposed new rules for elephant rides could force Florida operators to pack their trunks, said the owner of Elephant Walk, who has saddled pachyderms for 50 years. “It will impose needless, heavy restrictions that will severely impact the very few of us left,” Franklin Murray said in a phone interview from Maryland, where he is offering rides on Annette, his 45-year-old Asian elephant. “They’re trying to do with regulation what they couldn’t do with legislation all under the guise of public safety.” Animal-welfare advocates are pushing for a ban on elephant rides in Florida, according to a memo authored by Col. Curtis Brown, FWC’s director of law enforcement. “Elephant rides have a long-standing history in Florida.”


Spotted at the Republican Legislative Campaign Committee Fall Meeting at the Renaissance Vinoy Resort & Spa in St. Petersburg: Lt. Gov. Jeanette Núñez, Sens. Galvano, Wilton Simpson, Lizbeth Benacquisto, Jeff Brandes, and Kathleen Passidomo, Reps. Chris Sprowls, Randy Fine, Paul RennerJosie Tomkow, former Speaker Steve Crisafulli, as well as Brady Benford of Ballard Partners, Chris Chaney of The Advocacy Partners, Chris Finkbeiner of The Rubin Group, Craig Hansen, Rich Heffley, John Holley of Florida Power & Light, Jeff Johnston, Kris MoneyFatima PerezDavid Ramba of Ramba Consulting Group, Andrea Reilly of JM Family Enterprises, Kevin Reilly of The Geo Group, Tom Piccolo, Teye Reeves of Smith Bryan & Myers, Casey Reed of AT&T Jim Rimes, Stephanie Smith of Uber, Amanda Stewart, Crystal Stickle of the Florida Hospital Association.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Trenton Cotney, Clayton Osteen, Cotney Construction Lobbying: Capital City Roofing & Sheet Metal Association

Richard Davison: Florida Commission on Offender Review

Courtney Drummond, John Kotyk: Department of Transportation

George Feijoo, Melissa Joiner Ramba, Floridian Partners: American International Group, FCCI Insurance Group, Mackinac Center for Public Policy

Robert Shave, Capitol Energy Florida: Florida PACE Funding Agency, Suncoast Humane Society

Lindsay Spartz: Florida Association of Realtors

Matt Spritz, The Spritz Group: Dipsee Alert System

Sheela VanHoose, The Southern Group: Apple


What Ashley Moody isn’t reading — “The Trump administration weakened Endangered Species Act rules — 17 state attorneys general have sued over it” via The Washington Post — Attorneys general in 17 states [but not Florida] have made good on a promise to sue the Trump Administration over rule changes that substantially weakened how Endangered Species Act protections are considered and enforced. The attorneys general vowed to challenge the administration in mid-August when the Interior and Commerce departments announced new rules that would allow officials to decrease the amount of habitat threatened and endangered animals require to survive and remove tools used by scientists to predict future harm to species as a result of climate change.

What Nikki Fried is reading — “Many farmers oppose Georgia’s strict hemp growing rules” via The Atlanta Journal-Constitution — Since Georgia legalized hemp farming earlier this year, (nursery owner Andy) Peck and 71 other people have submitted public comments to the state Department of Agriculture, almost all of them expressing concerns about the state’s proposed regulations … “The way they proposed it isn’t going to work for Georgia farmers,” said Peck, who would like to grow hemp along with violas, ferns, perennials, annuals and other flowers in greenhouses on his 21 acres. “We want to make sure Georgia is competitive with the rest of the South.”

What DMS Secretary Jonathan Satter is (ewwww) reading — “Bedbug infestation leads to shutdown of state building” via The Arizona Republic — A bedbug infestation has forced the temporary closure of a state Department of Economic Security office, an agency spokeswoman said this week. But the closure — in effect through Sept. 30 — may have come too late to stop the pests from spreading beyond the building: “Any external visits to clients should not be conducted until we have remediated this issue.”


Adam Schiff says White House ‘hijacked’ House Russia probe transcripts” via Kyle Cheney of POLITICO — The committee authorized the release of its 53 witness interview transcripts a year ago, when Rep. Devin Nunes and Republicans led the panel. The transcripts were submitted to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence for a review to screen out classified information, and lawmakers had hoped for their quick public release. Nunes even indicated at the time that he hoped they would be out ahead of the 2018 congressional elections. But Schiff told his committee on Sept. 17 that ODNI’s review dragged on for months longer than expected before grinding to a halt in March, when intelligence officials said they intended to share the transcripts with the White House.

Adam Schiff is accusing the Donald Trump administration of hijacking transcripts in the Russian probe.

Blue-green algae update: U.S. House OKs bill requiring feds to study South Florida blooms” via Tyler Treadway of TCPalm — The South Florida Clean Coastal Waters Act, filed by U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, would require a task force set up under a 1998 law to assess “the causes, consequences and potential approaches to reduce harmful algal blooms” and report the findings to Congress and the president within two years. The task force has done similar assessments on algae blooms throughout the country, including the Gulf of Mexico, the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River; but there never has been a South Florida-specific report, Mast said when he filed the bill. “A primary driver of this disaster is the federal patchwork of bad ideas and projects that have manipulated our waterways without regard for our public health,” Mast said.

Marijuana expected to get traction in Senate — as a banking bill” via Natalie Fertig and Zachary Warmbrodt of POLITICO — The Senate is poised to take up legislation to boost the nation’s booming cannabis industry, with its backers feeling bullish and selling it as a bill that is more about banking than marijuana. Their confidence follows the action in the House, where Democrats and Republicans joined forces to pass a historic bill that would give legalized marijuana businesses access to banking services. Senate Republicans are expected to act as lawmakers face the inescapable reality of the 33 states and counting that have legalized marijuana in some form. The most reliable indicator has come from the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee Mike Crapo, who after months of weighing the issue said he wants to advance the legislation.

Juul should be ‘ashamed’ of role in epidemic: Rep. Donna Shalala” via McKenzie DeGroot of Yahoo Finance —Shares of big tobacco are falling recently as vaping concerns take a toll on companies like Altria (MO), Philip Morris (PM), and Imperial brands (IMB.L) “They ought to be ashamed of themselves,” Rep. Shalala told YFi AM. “They have hooked teenagers. Clearly when you put flavors in, you’re focusing on young people. You’re not focusing on adults,” she continued.

— 2020 —

Voters are anxious and wary as Democrats pursue impeachment” via Mark Leavy Nicholas Riccardi and Kathleen Hennessey of The Associated Press — At considerable political risk, House Democrats are charging ahead with impeachment, bringing along millions of wary voters for the ride. Polling has consistently shown that most Americans opposed impeachment, and congressional Democrats did not wait for a fresh batch of surveys that would register the impact of revelations about Trump’s effort to push Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden. In the days since the news that has propelled the impeachment debate, The Associated Press interviewed more than 50 voters across nine states. The responses — ranging from frustration and sadness to anxiety and relief — point to the challenges Democrats face if they are to turn what they describe as a principled stand against corruption to their political advantage.

With impeachment talk, voters are beginning to feel frustrated, sadness, anxiety and relief.

$1.1M hurricane recovery grant for Florida’s Mexico Beach” via The Associated Press — Gov. DeSantis has announced a $1.1 million grant to Mexico Beach, the first of $25 million in state money that is expected to be disbursed to communities still reeling from last fall’s Hurricane Michael. DeSantis announced the grant Thursday during a news conference in the community, which was hit hard by the hurricane when it swirled into Florida’s northern Gulf Coast last October. The $1.1 million will be used for the town’s fire department and other public protection services. With a $3.5 million annual budget, the city of about 1,200 residents has had few resources from which to draw on.

Julian Castro suggests possible end of campaign — In a new fundraising email, Castro bluntly indicated that if he does not make the next debate stage, it would be “the end of my campaign.” Castro cited the new DNC rules saying he needs to “stand out in four major polls” to make the next cut. “It could cost me millions to run the ads I’ll take to spread my message and hit those polls.”


Exclusive —New poll shows Rick Baker vs. Charlie Crist would be closer race than you might think” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — A St. Pete Polls survey shows Crist with a solid lead in a hypothetical matchup against Baker, but the survey also shows a huge gap between undecided voters. Among those surveyed, 42 percent said they would support Crist with only 35 percent backing Baker. But 23 percent were unsure. In the mid and south-Pinellas County district, there are almost as many independent voters as there are Republicans. There are nearly 191,000 registered Democrats in Florida’s 13th Congressional District, more than 168,000 Republicans and nearly 144,000 no party affiliation voters with another 5,000 registered in other parties. With proper internal polling and message testing, Baker could tap into what is a deep pool of potential voters.

In a new poll, Charlie Crist would have a much closer race facing Rick Baker than many would expect.

Miami-Dade’s Republican Mayor might run for Congress and try to unseat a Democrat” via Douglas Hanks and David Smiley of the Miami Herald — Carlos Gimenez, the term-limited mayor of Miami-Dade County, will decide later this fall whether to run for Congress in 2020 in a race that would pit his local popularity against the partisan tide of a district where Democrats outnumber the GOP. The Mayor this week said national Republicans were asking him to run for Congress, and a source familiar with the discussions said Gimenez is looking at the District 26 seat held by Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, a freshman Democrat holding her first elected office. “The Republican Party has talked to me about running for Congress,” said Gimenez, a 65-year-old grandfather. “At the end, my family will be a big part of any decision I make.”

Hillsborough teachers pile into legislative races” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — At least four public schoolteachers plan to seek state legislative seats in Hillsborough County in 2020. All are Democrats who say they’re running at least in part because of what they consider disrespect for their profession or inadequate support for public education by the state Legislature. So far, political leaders and teacher’s union officials don’t have evidence of a similar surge of teacher-candidates this year at the state or national level — only in Hillsborough. But they said with more than a year before the 2020 election, it’s too early to tell whether the 2018 wave will be repeated.

Jesse Purdon involved in serious Interstate-75 crash” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Republican Purdon, a former congressional staffer running in HD 76, was involved in the crash. The Florida Highway Patrol said the wreck occurred after Ana Maria Arce Valdes was stopped on the overpass over Alico Road. Her Lincoln Town Car had its flashers on and was behind a disabled Versa driven by Yadira Sanchez. A Jeep Wrangler driven by Purdon then struck the Lincoln, which hit the Versa, according to the News-Press. Purdon was leaving a Young Republicans event at Bell Tower Shops, according to a Republican source. Witnesses say one of the women suffered severe burns in the crash.


Dan Markel trial: Five years after murder, three theories of the case emerge in opening statements” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — The divergent theories of Dan Markel’s killing surfaced Thursday as attorneys laid out their cases and testimony finally began in the trial of a Miami couple charged in the alleged murder-for-hire plot.

Markeith Loyd’s trial begins Friday in killing of pregnant ex-girlfriend” via Monivette Cordeiro of the Orlando Sentinel — Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Loyd, 43, in the killing of 24-year-old Sade Dixon, as well as the attempted slayings of Dixon’s brothers and mother, on the night of Dec. 13, 2016. Jurors will be presented evidence showing the same gun used to shoot Dixon was also used to shoot Orlando police Lt. Debra Clayton when the officer tried to arrest him Jan. 9, 2017, at a Walmart on Princeton Street. Prosecutors won’t be able to tell jurors in this trial that Clayton died from her injuries. Loyd’s trial for Clayton’s murder, at which he will also face the possibility of execution, is tentatively scheduled for 2020.

Markeith Loyd’s murder trial begins, but without mentioning the police officer who attempted to arrest him died.

Some Palm Beach County charter school employees may soon be carrying guns” via Andrew Marra of the Palm Beach Post — A handful of Palm Beach County charter schools are taking steps to arm members of their own staffs rather than pay for a police officer or security guard to patrol their campuses, school district officials say. Any attempts by local charter schools to arm teachers or other employees through the state’s “guardian program” would have been blocked last year by the school board and Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, who opposed arming educators and refused to certify any to wield guns on campus. But district officials say a change to state law means local sheriffs and school boards can no longer prevent educators from being armed in the county’s 51 charters, which are financed by public tax dollars but are privately operated.

Attorney warns Marco police of prospective lawsuit alleging sexual abuse, trafficking” via Devon Patel of the Naples Daily News — An attorney representing the woman at the heart of the Marco Island Police Department’s recent claim of sex on duty has put the city on notice; the city could face a federal lawsuit for trafficking and sexual abuse if they don’t reach a settlement agreement. Attorney Dennis Webb sent a letter to City Manager Mike McNees and City Council Chairman Erik Brechnitz with an ultimatum to respond. The prospective complaint contains seven counts of wrongdoing, including multiple violations of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and battery for physical, psychological and sexual abuse. “My own investigation and legal research and analysis have convinced me that the City shares significant culpability and legal responsibility in this matter,” Webb wrote.

Miami lawsuit behind Jerry Falwell Jr. ‘pool boy’ hostel deal close to settling” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — The Miami lawsuit that first detailed the real estate venture between Falwell and a former Fontainebleau pool attendant he and his wife met on vacation may come to an end soon. Court papers filed this week by Falwell’s legal team said the two sides “recently reached an agreement-in-principle concerning a dollar amount to resolve this dispute.” Plaintiff Gordon Bello, a 28-year-old Miami lawyer, sued the evangelical leader two years ago, claiming he was denied his rightful share in a South Beach hostel that the Falwell family bought in February 2013. A Falwell family entity paid $4.7 million for the dormitory-style hotel and then gave a portion of the business to a high school friend of Bello’s named Giancarlo Granda.

Happening Saturday — State Rep. Geraldine Thompson will offer free paper-shredding event along with a donation drive for Hurricane Dorian relief efforts in the Bahamas, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Windermere Town Hall, 520 Main St., Windermere.


Despite growing diversity, Jacksonville is still the largest majority-white city in U.S.” via Andrew Pantazi of the Florida Times-Union — Jacksonville continues to grow more diverse, according to the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, even though the city remains the most populous majority-white city in America. Jacksonville, the twelfth most populous city in America, added nearly 12,000 more people from 2017 to 2018, the latest American Community Survey figures show, and while the city remains on the precipice of becoming minority-majority, it is 49.6 percent nonwhite. Much of the city’s growth over the last decade is thanks to a growing Hispanic and Asian population, making up for a shrinking white population. Despite a steady growth rate, the city may fall in the population rankings in the coming years. Seven smaller cities added more people.

’Racists’ or sensible growth? Hialeah and Miami Lakes feud over unopened bridges” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — When Miami-Dade wanted to move its urban development boundary farther west in 2006 to accommodate Hialeah’s request for more growth, Miami Lakes objected. A sticking point was the possibility of the 154th Street overpass opening to traffic once the new subdivisions went up under the more permissive zoning rules. To end Miami Lakes’ opposition to the 2006 expansion, Hialeah agreed to join its neighbor in support of keeping the 154th Street overpass closed. Now, with a new Mayor and new council members, Hialeah wants to reverse course. On Sept. 3, the City Council approved a resolution saying irreversible positions lead to “tyranny” and asked Hialeah lawyers to explore the best way to repeal the 2007 agreement.

A hurricane destroyed a Keys hospital two years ago. Change is on the way” via Gwen Filosa of the Miami Herald — Two years ago, Hurricane Irma wiped out the only hospital in the middle of the Florida Keys. With the building in ruins, Fishermen’s Community Hospital set up tents in the parking lot 16 days after the storm. It looked like a military encampment in a war zone. Those tents evolved into temporary modular buildings. It still didn’t look like a city hospital. But a new, permanent building is on the way. Fishermen’s is about to be rebuilt. Real construction will start soon, and the opening of the $43 million, one-story building is forecast for the summer of 2021. The wrecked building has been demolished.

Fishermen’s Community Hospital in the Florida Keys has been working out of trailers and tents since the main building was destroyed by Hurricane Irma two years ago.

Seaweed-covered beaches are now clear: Are hurricanes to thank?” via Kimberly Miller of the Palm Beach Post — The piles and miles of seaweed that smothered Palm Beach County’s beaches since spring are noticeably absent in the wake of Hurricane Dorian and the current coastal assault by Humberto.

John Dailey tears into Independent ethics Board, balks at proposed ethics code overhaul” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — A proposal by the Independent Ethics Board to strengthen a voter-approved ethics code long seen as ineffectual landed with a loud thud at City Hall, with Dailey, in a rare display of near open hostility, blasting both the recommended ordinance and the board itself. Dailey grilled the city’s Independent Ethics Officer, Julie Meadows-Keefe and the Ethics Board chairman, Richard Herring, over their practices and procedures since the board’s creation nearly five years ago. Treating them at times almost like hostile witnesses, he asked leading questions, answered his own questions, and apologized several times after cutting the speaker off.

City extends electric scooters pilot program” via TaMaryn Waters of the Tallahassee Democrat — A city pilot program for electric scooters will be extended another six months and include shareable bicycles, e-bikes, and other micro-mobility options. “That pilot has been in place for just over two months now, and we’ve had more than 60,000 rides on the scooters in our community,” City Manager Reese Goad said. The program allowed up to 1,000 scooters (200 each vendor) to be dispatched, although the city reports only 500 total scooters were deployed. However, some residents consider the e-scooters to be a nuisance and prone to safety issues. Mike Goldstein, the owner of Capital City Pedicabs, said he’d seen falls and scooter-related injuries that aren’t reflected in the numbers presented to the commission.

Happening today — Orlando attorney John Morgan will speak to the Tampa Bay Tiger club about his drive for a minimum-wage amendment on the 2020 ballot, noon, The Cuban Club, 2010 Avenida Republica de Cuba, Tampa.


Scott’s knee-jerk Trump defense is living down to our expectations” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — Scott’s true colors were flying after the release of a memo summarizing a July telephone conversation between Trump and Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky. We found the conversation, in which Trump asks a foreign leader to investigate Joe Biden and his son, to be a damning — but characteristic — abuse of power. That said, we can accept that people of good faith might feel less certainty and, while concerned about the content, wish to reserve judgment until more is known. Not the junior Senator from Florida, who went full partisan. To summarize, Scott changed the subject from Trump seeking political favors through Ukraine’s president to President Obama, who’s been out of office for almost three years. Thanks, Obama.

Lawmakers who gutted Amendment 4 now argue it’s the fault of Florida voters” via Micah Kubic for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Three state legislators recently used this editorial space to champion SB 7066, a law they passed this year to block 80 percent of returning citizens from voting in Florida elections. In fact, they proudly proclaimed that individuals with prior felony convictions don’t deserve to vote. To quote from their op-ed, “We, the law-abiding citizens of this great Republic don’t owe ex-felons anything.” They clearly don’t believe in second chances. Republicans, Democrats and independents supported Amendment 4 and restoring voting rights to 1.4 million people last November. But SB 7066, designed to limit Amendment 4, passed this spring along party lines and effectively restricted the amendment’s scope to a fraction of the returning citizens it was meant to benefit.


Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at politics in South Florida, along with other issues affecting the region.

Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Moderator Rob Lorei hosts a roundtable panel with Republican businessman Danny Kushmer, Tampa Bay Times reporter Zachary Sampson, independent journalist Kenya Woodard, and Hillsborough County Democratic Executive Committee Chair Ione Townsend.

In Focus with Allison Walker-Torres on Bay News 9: A discussion of mental health in relation to law enforcement. Joining Walker-Torres are Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister; Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco; and John Snow, Executive Director of the Treatment Advocacy Center.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando and Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: This week’s show will discuss the impeachment inquiry and possible outcomes; Host Al Ruechel talks to Manatee County Commission Chair Stephen Jonsson and Administrator Cheri Coryea. PolitiFact Truth-O-Meter will rate a claim made by Sen. Cory Booker about superfund sites.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Gary Yordon speaks with pollster Steve Vancore and Department of Children and Families Secretary Chad Poppell.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: This week’s guests are Dr. Michael Binder of the University of North Florida Public Opinion Research Laboratory, Christian Oldenburg of Colliers International Northeast Florida and Brianna Kilcullen of ANACT.


Battleground Florida with Christopher Heath: Former Chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, and current Florida House member Blaise Ingoglia joins the podcast to talk Trump 2016, Trump 2020, his frosty relationship with former Gov. Scott, and what playing high-level poker has taught him about politics. Gotta’ know when to hold em’, know when to fold ’em,’ know when to attach them to an appropriations bill.

Gradebook from the Tampa Bay Times with hosts Marlene Sokol and Jeffrey Solochek: Florida voters approved a universal prekindergarten program back in 2002 after lawmakers refused to implement an early education system to help prepare young children for school. Since then, the program has grown in enrollment, but its funding has remained stagnant, and its success has been limited. This year, state officials have called for improvements.

Inside Florida Politics from GateHouse Florida with hosts John Kennedy and Zac Anderson. Democrats in Florida’s congressional delegation are supporting House Speaker Pelosi‘s decision to launch a formal impeachment inquiry into Trump. Kennedy and Anderson discuss the impeachment fallout in Florida and some homegrown political turmoil that DeSantis is dealing with, including high-profile departures from the Florida GOP and the release of an investigation that found he improperly fired the Broward County Sheriff.

Fluent in Floridian: This week’s guest is Flagler College President Dr. Joseph Joyner, who is a third-generation educator with a passion for the classroom, has been the guiding force of his career. From Florida State University football player to teacher to superintendent of St. Johns County School District, Joyner’s work and leadership have been recognized many times over for its commitment to students. Now, Dr. Joyner enjoys serving as a college president for one of Florida’s most historic inst

— ALOE —

’Star Wars’ shocker: Marvel’s Kevin Feige developing new movie for Disney” via Kim Masters of The Hollywood Reporter — Lucasfilm’s Kathleen Kennedy “is pursuing a new era in ‘Star Wars’ storytelling, and knowing what a die-hard fan Kevin is, it made sense for these two extraordinary producers to work on a ‘Star Wars’ film together,” Walt Disney Studios co-chairman Alan Horn tells The Reporter. Feige had discussed a foray into the Star Wars universe in a late-summer meeting with Kennedy and studio co-chairmen Horn and Alan Bergman, sources say. Horn said, “We are excited about the projects Kathy and the Lucasfilm team are working on, not only in terms of Star Wars but also Indiana Jones and reaching into other parts of the company including Children of Blood and Bone with Emma Watts and Fox.”

Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige could be the next big thing to happen to Star Wars.

From Disney to SeaWorld, Florida theme parks are going vegan” via Sharon Kennedy Wynne of the Tampa Bay Times — Both Walt Disney World and SeaWorld’s theme parks across the country have made splashy commitments to offer plant-based meals at all their restaurants. And even cruise lines are getting on board with the idea of vegetarian comfort food among their vast buffets. Disney said starting next week, vegan meals would be available at all its restaurants and quick-meal hubs at Walt Disney World in Florida, and by next spring at Disneyland Resort. SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, the parent company of Busch Gardens, Sesame Place and the water parks Aquatica and Adventure Island, announced that it is adding the Impossible Burger to menus at all 12 of its theme parks across the country.

No one laughs anymore at the Florida craft beer scene” via Gary Stoller of Forbes — “Nowadays, the same people who were laughing at the Sunshine State and how slow it was to join the craft beer game are clamoring for bottles from places like Funky Buddha, J. Wakefield, Angry Chair and others,” says beer expert David Butler who writes floridabeerblog. Florida’s “rich and varied agricultural heritage” also gives brewers in the state an opportunity “to play with a lot of ingredients” that brewers in other states’ do not use, he says. “Florida breweries are getting so creative, so varied and so good that I prefer them to the brewery scene in a number of other states.”


Best wishes to Sen. Joe Gruters better half, Sydney as well as Monica Russo. Celebrating this weekend are Alexandria Bickley, Brian Graham, Beth Leytham, Steve Schale, and Zach Thorn.


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

Written By

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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Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson.
Phone: (727) 642-3162
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St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

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