Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 11.4.19

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Florida politics and Sunburn – perfect together.

Now “former” Florida State University football coach Willie Taggart will be well-compensated for the loss of his dream job. Taggart will receive a reported $18 million buyout after he was fired Sunday following a desultory 27-10 loss Saturday against rival Miami.

He was the first African-American FSU head football coach. He is replaced on an interim basis by Odell Haggins, a former FSU African-American football athlete.

Florida State fires coach Willie Taggart after 21 games.

Taggart, who grew up in Bradenton, was hired by FSU in 2018 after Jimbo Fisher took the head coaching job at Texas A&M. Taggart replaced him, despite spending just one season at Oregon after a successful 4-year run at the University of South Florida. The Bulls were 6-18 in Taggart’s first two seasons at USF, but 18-7 after that.

After going 7-5 in one season at Oregon in 2017, Taggart came back to Florida. Immediately, though, his tenure struggled. Under his leadership, FSU finished 5-7 and missed qualifying for a bowl game for the first time since 1981. While some of the program’s decline was blamed on Fisher, Taggart took the brunt of fans’ impatience.

The problem was Taggart’s buyout, but that was raised through about $20 million in private donations. The Seminoles now look to the task of winning two of their last three games to qualify for a bowl game.

Replacing Willie Taggart: Florida State football coaching hot board” via Wayne McGahee III of the Tallahassee Democrat — Florida State decided to fire coach Taggart and will need a new head coach for the 2020 season. Who will the FSU administration turn to to get the program back on track? Top target: Dallas Renegades coach/general manager Bob Stoops. Other names to know: Iowa State coach Matt Campbell; Minnesota coach PJ Fleck; Kentucky coach Mark Stoops; Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables; Memphis coach Mike Norvell; Clemson offensive coordinator Jeff Scott; Former Georgia/Miami coach Mark Richt; Washington State coach Mike Leach.

Where does Florida State go from here after pulling the plug on Taggart?” via Pat Forde of Sports Illustrated — We already know that Urban Meyer is not going to Tallahassee. Bob Stoops? The first thing he’s likely to say to any inquiry is that FSU should call his younger brother, former Seminoles defensive coordinator Mark Stoops, who is currently doing good work at Kentucky. If FSU is intent on closing the chasm between it and ACC top dog Clemson, it can try to raid Dabo Swinney’s rock-solid staff. This much is a certainty: it’s going to cost another small fortune to hire the next guy, as Florida State continues to burn through money in its quest to regain relevance.

Kirk Herbstreit blasts FSU lack of discipline, says Seminoles ‘program is done’” via Luis Torres of the Orlando Sentinel — Appearing on an Instagram post with Chris Fowler and Chris “The Bear” Fallica, Herbstreit went on a 90-second rant on the state of FSU football. “I want to get this off my chest; I’m done with Florida State,” Herbstreit said. “I don’t want to talk about them anymore. I hate the way they represent themselves. Their current roster needs to go back and watch the Bobby Bowden era because it wasn’t about talking trash and fighting. That’s all they do. They are the most undisciplined team you’re gonna watch, and they are a terrible team. They need to focus more on execution and less on chirping. All they do is chirp.”


It’s committee week at the Florida Capitol as lawmakers kick into high gear to prepare for the Legislative Session beginning in January. Florida Politics’ Jim Rosica stops by the studio with a preview of what’s in store.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— A new campaign to get former felons to the polls in Florida, which includes a statewide bus tour by a group called the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition. They’ll be on the road for the rest of the month.

— Florida is No. 1 in America for fraud; all three members of the state Cabinet are vowing to crack down on fraud, and each has a unique role to play on the issue.

— After a scathing investigation and a new audit, the state Department of Education is calling for a complete reboot of the Florida Virtual School.

— More Florida Men hijinks: An 18-year-old Pasco County resident is accused of trying to hire a hit man to kill a faculty member at his high school north of Tampa. Also, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s deputies are accusing a registered sex offender of using a Bible app to connect with underage girls at a church youth group secretly.

To listen, click on the image below:


@MatthewJDowd: Just left church in Wimberley and thought about where I have fallen down this week and where I want to do better. I deleted that tweet about @mattgaetz though I thought it was true and funny, it wasn’t kind. I apologize. I am human and will try harder.

@MattGaetz: I’ve been known to regret a tweet now and then also. There but for the Grace of God go I …

@Fineout: Let’s be clear: It was this administration that also brought Taggart in & inked this deal. And it’s now incumbent on them to find a successor.

@SkipFoster: Yes, Willie Taggart will be paid handsomely, but a man just failed at his dream job — there is no joy in that. Keep it classy.

@AOC: Quick Daylight Savings tip: if you worked a late shift last night when the clocks rolled back & had to work an extra hour, make sure you check your paystub this week and get paid for it! Computers sometimes miss it. Make sure you get paid — don’t let your labor get stolen!

@MJS_DC: Biannual reminder that if you hate it when the sun sets early, you hate STANDARD TIME. We just entered STANDARD TIME. STANDARD TIME is the bad one. DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME is the good one. We should have DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME year-round. YES, I AM YELLING.

@MearKat00: There are 690 calories in a Popeyes’ Chicken Sandwich.


2019 General Election — 1; 3rd Annual Florida Internet and Television FITCon starts — 3; “The Mandalorian” premieres — 8; New season of “The Crown” streaming on Netflix — 13; Fifth Democratic debate — 16; “Frozen 2” debuts — 18; Next government shutdown (maybe) — 18; TaxWatch 40th Annual Meeting — 28; UK votes on Brexit — 38; “The Rise of Skywalker” premiers — 46; College Football National Championship — 70; 2020 Session begins — 71; Florida TaxWatch State of the TaxPayer Dinner in Tallahassee — 72; New Brexit deadline — 88; Super Bowl LIV in Miami — 90; Great American Realtors Day — 91; Iowa Caucuses — 91; New Hampshire Primaries — 99; Last day of 2020 Session (maybe) — 129; Florida’s presidential primary — 134; “Black Panther 2” debuts — 184; 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo begin — 261; Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races — 295; First Vice Presidential debate at the University of Utah — 338; First Presidential Debate scheduled at the University of Michigan — 346; Second presidential debate at Belmont — 353; 2020 General Election — 365.


The 2020 election is one year away. Here are five things to watch in Florida.” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — Hispanic and Latino voters: Florida’s Hispanics are the state’s fastest-growing demographic, and both parties believe many of their votes are up in the air. Amendment 4 fallout: It’s too early to say how many previously disenfranchised people would vote, or how many will even register. Impeachment: How damaging will the impeachment hearings be — and who will take the hit? Who is the Democratic nominee: Whoever it is, the Florida Democratic Party vows to turn over a much more robust campaign apparatus than it did for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Election security and Russian interference: Florida should watch these developments closely. It’s here that Russians penetrated up to four supervisors of elections offices, according to a Senate intelligence report.

How the impeachment saga plays out in Florida will be one of several things to watch for in the 2020 election. Image via Getty.


Ron DeSantis now fundraiser in chief for Florida Republicans” via Mary Ellen Klas and Emily Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times — At an hourlong, off-calendar meeting at the Republican Party of Florida headquarters, DeSantis met with several lobbyists. They discussed what kind of fundraising is needed to reelect Donald Trump, according to sources familiar with the meeting. “Republicans can’t lose Florida, so everything’s on the table,’’ said Al Cardenas, the former longtime chair of the Republican Party of Florida whose business partner, Slater Bayliss, attended the meeting. “The Governor is essential in raising the funds you need in a presidential election year.”

For Donald Trump to win Florida in 2020, Ron DeSantis will have to shoulder much of the fundraising duties.

DeSantis health care agenda focuses on implementation, rather than new issues” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — Don’t expect much new in the way of a health care agenda from DeSantis‘ administration for the coming 2020 Session. That’s because he says he’s more focused on implementing what he already has accomplished. “We had a lot of good stuff on health care, as you know, from telehealth, CON reform, we did the patient savings where people can save if they choose cheaper options, then the big prescription drug thing,” DeSantis told a group of newspaper reporters and editors in Tallahassee. DeSantis said his administration was “actively working with HHS” on new proposed rules that would allow Florida to move ahead with its drug importation programs as outlined in HB 19, which he signed into law.

Assignment editors — DeSantis will make a major announcement, 10 a.m., Walmart Supercenter, 35404 U.S. Hwy 19 N, Palm Harbor.

Hmmm —Florida GOP leaders starting to address climate change again after long ignoring issue” via John Kennedy of GateHouse Capital Bureau — The GOP-led Florida Senate embraced the change last month, holding its first-ever hearing on climate change — with experts presenting data on water intrusion and its impact along the state’s 8,400 miles of coast. Most in the environmental community are pleased with the newfound attention. But they also wonder: Now what? “The question will be, what will Gov. DeSantis — the governor’s administration — allow to happen?” said Susan Glickman, Florida director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, a nonprofit that promotes renewable energy.

Manny Diaz celebrates his district’s ‘A+’ schools — The Florida Department of Education identified more than 30 “A+” schools inside District 36, which is represented by State Sen. Diaz. The list includes district-run schools, such as Spanish Lake Elementary, as well as charter schools, such as Mater Gardens Academy. Those schools are eligible for additional state funding based on the “A+” designation. “The ‘A+’ School Recognition designation is one of the highest honors in education,” Diaz said. “This honor is not an easy feat, and the determination of these schools deserves to be applauded. Congratulations to the teachers, students, staff and families across our district for ensuring education is a priority for our community.”

Manny Diaz is touting ‘A+’ schools in his district, which allow them to get additional state funding. 

Joe Gruters wants to stop abortions of babies with Down syndrome” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — “To me, it’s unacceptable that we allow it to happen,” the Sarasota Republican said. Gruters has now filed the Down Syndrome Nondiscrimination Act (SB 734), which would outlaw elective procedures based on genetic testing for the trait. Limiting abortions based on disabilities has been a priority for groups like RollExit. The case against aborting over Down syndrome diagnoses has convinced five other states — Indiana, Ohio, North Dakota, Louisiana and Kentucky — to pass restrictions there. “I got into politics because of the life issue,” Gruters said. “It’s always been extremely important to me.”

Perry Thurston responds to Stoneman Douglas dad’s claim he lied” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Thurston, a Broward Democrat, slammed what he characterized as an “unmitigated attack by the strident voices on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission.” Thurston was referring to comments made by Max Schachter, whose 14-year-old son Alex was killed in the school shooting and is a member of the commission. A Schachter said he wasn’t attacking Thurston. He said he was trying to set the record straight and calling out the Senator for lying. Thurston, in a written statement Friday evening, said: “Unfortunately, vocal elements on the commission and within the Parkland community continue to attack anyone who disagrees with their pencil-thin point-of-view.”


House, Senate panels to take up fireworks measures” via the News Service of Florida — Senate Community Affairs and the House Business and Professions Subcommittee are slated to take up nearly identical measures (SB 140, HB 65) by Sen. Travis Hutson and Rep. Ana Maria Rodriguez. The proposals for the 2020 Legislative Session, which begins Jan. 14, would allow individuals to pledge to use the fireworks “solely and exclusively” during one of three designated holidays. Both measures would allow the use of fireworks on Memorial Day and Independence Day. The Senate proposal also designates the third holiday on New Year’s Eve, while the House version allows for the fireworks on New Year’s Day.

Travis Hutson is looking to finally straighten out Florida’s fireworks laws.

Happening today — Environmental groups will honor the fifth anniversary of a constitutional amendment requiring funding for land and water conservation projects, noon, Plaza Level Rotunda.


Florida’s ‘arbitrary’ election laws keep thousands from voting, experts argue” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — Today, we live in an age of instantaneous communication, massive databases and several ways to verify identity. And the voter registration deadline in Florida is still 29 days before the election. “Many laws don’t get changed as technology changes,” said Orange County elections supervisor Bill Cowles. The early registration deadline is just one example of how the state’s elections laws “are as arbitrary as they come,” said Florida ACLU executive director Micah Kubic. “Everything is sort of a domino effect,” said Okaloosa County elections supervisor Paul Lux. “When you move one marker, everything else falls over.”

Florida and federal officials promise transparency but sidestep specifics on election security” via Jeff Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat — State, local and federal officials asked the public to trust their ongoing efforts to strengthen Florida’s election system leading up to the 2020 elections, but they refused to give any details. “We are committed to the maximum amount of transparency as possible,” Secretary of State Laurel Lee told more than a dozen reporters at a Tallahassee news conference hosted by Larry Keefe, U.S. Attorney for Florida’s northern district. She dodged a barrage of questions about why the state won’t say which counties were hacked in 2016, what vulnerabilities her office found during a review of the election systems of all 67 counties, and whether the state would disclose any future breaches or potential breaches to the public.

Secretary of State Laurel Lee is promising more transparency in securing elections but has not given any specifics.

The hidden danger of unvaccinated children in Florida’s schools” via Mario Ariza and John Maines of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Overall, 94 percent of the state’s kindergartners have been vaccinated as required, along with 96 percent of seventh-graders, the two grades reported by the Department of Education. Although both are near the state’s 95 percent goal, a closer look at individual schools reveals trouble. Only 45 percent of public and charter schools with kindergartners meet the 95 percent goal at a time when diseases such as whooping cough and measles are on the rise, according to data for 2018, the most recent year available. Only 72 percent of schools with seventh graders meet the goal. Many schools do not even come close.

Florida virtual school needs new board, new ethics standards, state education department says” via Beth Kassab and Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — The troubled Florida Virtual School should get a new Governor-appointed board, new ethics standards for employees and a new inspector general inside the school to oversee internal audits and investigations, according to a report by the Florida Department of Education. The recommendations are in response to a scandal that rocked the virtual school last year when its former General Counsel Frank Kruppenbacher resigned amid accusations of improper behavior and spending. DeSantis and lawmakers then ordered a state takeover of Florida’s public online school. FLVS has been “plagued in recent years with recurring leadership crises that threatened to destabilize what was otherwise a school with high-quality educators, curriculum and innovative online course delivery,” the report said.

Happening today — The Florida Education Association continues its bus tour focused on calling for increased education funding, 9 a.m., Village Oaks Elementary, 1601 Florida 29, Immokalee. Later the tour visits Lake Trafford Elementary, noon, 3500 Lake Trafford Road, Immokalee. And then it makes a stop at Lorenzo Walker Technical College, 6 p.m., 3702 Estey Ave., Naples.


Senator seeks land preservation money for Michael-ravaged counties” via the News Service of Florida — Tallahassee Democratic Sen. Bill Montford refiled legislation for the 2020 Session to allocate $50 million a year from the Land Acquisition Trust Fund for projects dedicated to conservation and land management activities in Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Okaloosa, Wakulla, Walton, and Washington counties. While lawmakers advanced more than $220 million toward relief efforts related to Michael during the 2019 Legislative Session earlier this year, a similar trust fund measure proposed by Montford and Rep. Brad Drake failed to advance.

Housing assistance opportunity helping local hurricane victims” via Olivia Michael of WJHG — When John Hunt‘s home was damaged from Hurricane Michael, he didn’t know how he would pay for the repairs. That’s when he learned about the William E. Sadowski Affordable Housing Act. Michael Johnson, the Director of the Community Development and Redevelopment Agency in Panama City, said, “It’s administered by the Florida Housing Finance Corporation out of Tallahassee.” So far, the program has helped hundreds of Bay County residents pay for things like down payments, first month’s rent, and even home repairs. Johnson said, “In January, we received $1.6 million, and just recently, we received another $4.7 million, and the county received $11 million, and all of those dollars must be used for housing.”

Tweet, tweet:

Happening today — The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity continues its series of public workshops on federal disaster-mitigation money in areas affected by hurricanes Hermine, Matthew or Irma, 3 p.m., North Fort Myers Public Library, 2001 North Tamiami Trail, North Fort Myers.

Lake O level is close to that of drought year of 2011, and water experts are worried” via Adriana Brasileiro of the Miami Herald — The Army Corps of Engineers said Lake Okeechobee’s water levels are getting too low as a weak wet season has left South Florida’s inland sea close to levels seen in 2011, when the state experienced the worst drought in nearly a century.

Battle continues on underground power lines in Florida” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — Pointing to concerns about the effects on millions of utility customers, the state Office of Public Counsel is continuing to battle proposed rules for carrying out a law that is expected to lead to building more underground power lines in Florida. The Office of Public Counsel, which represents consumers in utility issues, has made a series of legal moves during the past week, after the Florida Public Service Commission approved the proposed rules. The moves included requesting a public hearing on the proposed rules, a hearing that the PSC scheduled for Tuesday. But the Office of Public Counsel argued that is too short of a time frame.


Resilience, genetic testing, Hurricane Michael, and cybersecurity will be on the agenda as insurance professionals gather in what is billed as the state’s “leading industry summit.”

The Florida Chamber of Commerce’s Insurance Summit, held yearly, will host top business people, regulators and leading experts in the field at the JW Marriott Miami this week.

Jeanette Núñez will kick off the Florida Chamber of Commerce Insurance Summit.

The two-day event kicks off with a welcome address from Lt. Gov. Jeanette Núñez and a talk on the state of Florida’s future from Florida Chamber of Commerce Executive Vice President David Hart.

The summit will then feature numerous experts and influencers from the insurance industry talking about issues ranching from flood insurance to resiliency — the first day also includes addresses from Citizens Property Insurance Corporation CEO Barry Gilway, Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis.

If any attendees need a hand processing the key points from Monday’s lineup, the Florida Chamber has them covered — Monday’s agenda concludes with a reception where they can “Relax and Reflect on the Day’s Takeaways.”

Note: News media are invited to attend and should RSVP to Edie Ousley at [email protected]. A media-only livestream will be available; RSVP for the livestream link.


Growing number of GOP Senators consider acknowledging Donald Trump’s quid pro quo on Ukraine” via Rachael Bade and Seung Min Kim of The Washington Post — These Republicans are insisting that the president’s action was not illegal and did not rise to the level of an impeachable offense as the Democratic-led House moves forward with the open phase of its probe. But the shift among Senate Republicans could complicate the message coming from Trump as he furiously fights the claim that he had withheld U.S. aid from Ukraine to pressure it to dig up dirt on a political rival, even as an increasing number of Republicans wonder how long they can continue to argue that no quid pro quo was at play in the matter. The pivot was the main topic during a private Senate GOP lunch.

The new Republican Party line on Donald Trump’s quid pro quo with Ukraine is that he may have done it, but it doesn’t rise to the level of impeachment.


What Trump might gain as newest Florida Man” via Matt Dixon and Brian Faler of POLITICO Florida — There are myriad tax code differences between blue-state New York and Florida, which is overwhelmingly run by Republicans who tout the state’s tax climate to attract both people and businesses. Moving to Florida would potentially spare Trump one of the stiffest tax increases included in his 2017 overhaul of the code — a new $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions. That hits wealthy people in blue states particularly hard, because they pay so much in taxes and therefore have a lot to deduct, although it’s unclear how much Trump pays. The far more significant savings would come from avoiding New York’s 16 percent estate tax, which could potentially be huge. Florida does not have an estate tax.

Nobody waved goodbye: Trump’s relationship with New York was already over” via Maggie Haberman and Eric Lipton of the New York Times — The chorus of Bronx cheers from New York officials at the news that President Trump changed his primary residence to Florida was confirmation of what friends and advisers have said for months: Resuming his former life in Manhattan would be impossible.

Trump may face fight over planned move from NYC to Florida” via Bernard Condon and Jonathan Lemire of The Associated Press — Trump’s plan to shift his permanent residence to Palm Beach will likely be heavily scrutinized by New York state officials, who are notorious for auditing wealthy residents seeking to flee to lower-tax states to make sure such moves are real and not just on paper. Those cases can go on for years. “New York says just because you fill out a piece of paper, that doesn’t make you a Floridian,” said Mark Klein, a tax lawyer who has handled hundreds of tax-residency audits. “People have this misunderstanding that if you go to Florida and fill out an affidavit, you register to vote and you get a driver’s license, that is all it takes.”

Florida Congressman who supports Trump sees personal Twitter account suspended” via Karina Elwood of Fresh Take Florida news service — Twitter acknowledged it mistakenly shut down the personal social media account of Rep. Ted Yoho, a Republican congressman in Florida who is among Trump’s staunchest allies. The company apologized to the lawmaker and promised it wouldn’t happen again. For nearly 48 hours, Yoho’s account advised visitors that it was suspended for violating unspecified rules. Twitter told Yoho’s campaign office that the @tedyoho account was mistakenly shut down because the company believed someone was impersonating the congressman, deputy chief of staff Kat Cammack said.

Donald Trump supporter Ted Yoho’s Twitter account was mistakenly suspended, the company said. Twitter apologized and promised it wouldn’t happen again.

Keep Daylight Saving Time forever, Vern Buchanan says” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — When Buchanan asked constituents in an online survey if they would like to stay in Daylight Saving Time year-round, nearly 90 percent said yes. From the sleep disruption it causes, to the reduction in evening sunlight, the practice of rolling the clock back an hour in the fall and then adjusting forward an hour in the spring offers plenty of reasons for objections. Buchanan and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio have sponsored the “Sunshine Protection Act,” which would eliminate the clock switching and keep the country in daylight saving time all year. “I think people, in general, would like to have more sunshine at the end of the day,” Buchanan said. “We’re the Sunshine State.”

Assignment editors — U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor; Jodi Ray, Program Director of Florida Covering Kids & Families, and additional community partners will hold a media availability to outline what Floridians will find on the health care marketplace during this enrollment period, 10:30 a.m., Children’s Board Family Resource Center, North Tampa location, 116 W. Fletcher Ave., Tampa.

Donald Trump Jr. to hold Sandestin book-signing” via Jim Thompson of the NWF Daily News — Trump Jr. will be at the Sandestin Resort in Miramar Beach next week as part of a book tour for his “Triggered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Silence Us.” The Friday morning event is free, but tickets are required. To obtain an emailed ticket, register online at Registration is available through the day of the event. Appearing with Trump’s eldest son will be Rep. Gaetz.

— 2020 —

Democrats: Trump relocation highlights Florida’s 2020 significance” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — Leaders of the Florida Democratic Party said Trump’s decision to declare his Palm Beach residence as his permanent home is symbolic of the magnitude of Florida and its 29 Electoral College votes in the 2020 election. “Trump becoming a Florida man just shows that Florida is important,” Florida Democratic Party Executive Director Juan Peñalosa told reporters during a conference call. The call was focused on state Democrats’ voter registration efforts in Florida, a critical swing state, with a year to go until the 2020 election. “We have urgency right now,” Peñalosa said. “Him changing his voter registration just shows that he believes, as we do, that the path to the White House goes through Florida.”

Florida Democratic Party Executive Director Juan Peñalosa says Donald Trump becoming a Florida resident shows exactly how important the state is in the 2020 race.

Fox News poll: Joe Biden leads nomination race, tops Trump by 12 points in matchup” via Diana Blanton of Fox News — While most Democratic primary voters are satisfied with their field, more than a quarter wish they had other options. Biden leads the nomination race with the backing of 31 percent of Democratic primary voters, followed by Elizabeth Warren at 21 percent, Bernie Sanders at 19 percent, and Pete Buttigieg at 7 percent. Kamala Harris and Andrew Yang receive 3 percent apiece, followed by Cory Booker, Tulsi Gabbard, and Amy Klobuchar, each at 2 percent, and Tom Steyer at 1 percent. Compared to March, the first Fox News Poll on the race, Biden’s support is unchanged, while Warren has gained 17 points, Buttigieg is up 6 and Sanders is down 4.

Beto O’Rourke drops out of 2020 race” via David Siders of POLITICO — O’Rourke, running out of money and flatlining in public opinion polls, abandoned his presidential campaign, exiting the contest just as a crush of better-funded, higher-polling candidates arrived here for an Iowa Democratic Party event. Speaking to a group of tearful supporters on a lawn across from the convention center where O’Rourke had originally been scheduled to appear, O’Rourke pointed to the campaign’s inability to raise sufficient money in recent months. “This is a campaign that has prided itself on seeing things clearly, on speaking honestly and on acting decisively,” O’Rourke said. “We have to clearly see at this point that we do not have the means to pursue this campaign successfully.”

In Iowa, Biden confronts a growing threat: Pete Buttigieg” via Natasha Korecki of POLITICO — Biden dropped to fourth place in Iowa, according to a new poll, his worst showing to date in the pivotal early state. A few hours later, at the largest gathering to date for any 2020 event, it was clear why. While Biden delivered a solid performance on stage before a crowd of 13,500 Democrats at the state party’s Liberty & Justice dinner, he was overshadowed and outshined by the candidate who just passed him in the polls — Buttigieg. At the massive state party event known for its catalytic effect on campaigns, Buttigieg captured the audience’s imagination, articulating a case for generational change.

’This is going to cause down-ballot damage’: Elizabeth Warren’s $20 trillion health plan fails to quiet critics” via Marc Caputo and Alex Thompson of POLITICO — The most-vulnerable Democrat in Colorado’s state House, Bri Buentello, is dreading door-knocking in her rural district now that Warren dropped her massive “Medicare for All” plan into the presidential arena. “This is going to cause down-ballot damage in swing districts and states if she’s the nominee,” Buentello says, describing how her Pueblo-area constituents — who voted overwhelmingly for Trump in 2016 — were already echoing criticisms about a giant, one-size-fits-all big government-run plan that cancels private health insurance and raises taxes. The fear of blowback is indicative of the broad and mostly negative response to Warren’s proposal from centrist, moderate and rural Democrats — many of whom, like Buentello, back Biden in the primary.


Florida Democrats focus on voter registration” via Ana Ceballos of the News Service of Florida — Peñalosa told reporters that the party had registered more than 17,000 voters since June. Party workers have registered more Democrats than Republicans — a major part of the Florida Democrats’ 2020 strategy — for four consecutive months, he said. “We learned our lesson in 2018 … and we have been taking Donald Trump seriously since he was elected in 2016,” Peñalosa said during a conference call Friday morning. To continue to boost the number of Democratic voters, the party has put $3 million into registration efforts, he added. The party ultimately hopes to register 200,000 new Democratic voters by July 2020.

Bus tours through Florida aiming to get felons to vote” via The Associated Press — Members of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition held a rally in Orlando, then started their tour by taking felons to an election supervisor’s office for early voting in local elections. The bus then was traveling to a high school football game in Belle Glade, where organizers were encouraging felons to vote. The tour through Florida lasts through most of November. As many as 1.4 million felons are potentially eligible to regain voting privileges under a constitutional amendment overwhelmingly passed by voters last fall. But the Republican-controlled Legislature passed a bill stipulating that felons must pay all fines and fees to complete their sentences.

After the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition rally in Orlando, they launched a bus tour taking former felons to election supervisor’s offices for early voting in local elections.

Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio will challenge Donna Shalala in CD 27” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Tarrio becomes the second Republican to compete for the seat, joining Maria Elvira Salazar. Tarrio was raised in Little Havana, giving him ties to South Florida ahead of his challenge to Shalala. “Our founders were simple men who wanted a world away from tyranny and away from government interference into our lives. A place to raise their children, watch their families grow and build their businesses. A place to worship freely and speak freely,” Tarrio said in a statement. “Unfortunately, career politicians like Donna Shalala have become obsessed with moving America away from these founding principles and toward a Communist police state that thrives on robbing us of our God-given freedoms.”

Happening tonight:

Tracey Kagan files for rematch with Scott Plakon in HD 29” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Kagan, a criminal defense lawyer from Longwood with experience in the State Attorney’s Office in Florida’s 18th Judicial Circuit 1 in Seminole County, lost to Plakon 51-49 last year despite being outspent by nearly 2-1 in a battle for the central Seminole County district. “I was a first-time candidate in 2018, and our upstart campaign came within a tiny margin of defeating an entrenched incumbent backed by big money,” Kagan said in a news release. “The narrow race proves that Seminole County is moving toward a more inclusive agenda that puts people — not corporations and special interests — first,” she added. “Families are tired of not having a voice who fights for them in Tallahassee.”

Sarasota attorney Jason Miller running for state House seat” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Miller is making another run for the House District 72 seat. Miller, 47, ran for the seat — which covers much of northern Sarasota County — last year, losing to former state Rep. Ray Pilon in the GOP primary. Having grown up in Sarasota and lived here much of his life, Miller said he is deeply invested in the community and wants to help solve some of the region’s pressing problems, such as ongoing water quality concerns. Miller’s public service includes eight years as a prosecutor in the 12th Judicial Circuit, a stint working for the Florida Attorney General’s office, and nine years in the U.S. Army Reserve. He currently is a major in the Army JAG Corps Reserve.

 —“Fewer competitive races in Sarasota and Manatee” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

Daniel Perez holding joint fundraiser with Chip LaMarca next week” via Florida Politics — The reception will be held in Tallahassee Wednesday on the second floor of 106 East Jefferson Street, above the Tallahassee Visitors Center. Supporters can get more information on the event by sending in an RSVP. The fundraiser is notable because it shows there’s no bad blood between the two freshman lawmakers following the 2024-26 House Speaker race, which Perez won. LaMarca, however, wasn’t one of the freshmen in Perez’ camp during the behind-the-scenes leadership race according to sources familiar with the competition.

’Auxiliary deputy’ Shaquille O’Neal gives $10,000 to Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony’s political committee” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — In March, the sheriff’s office said O’Neal “now works as an auxiliary deputy” in Broward County — a designation he also enjoyed under Scott Israel. In September, O’Neal gave a $10,000 contribution to the political committee that’s raising money to support Tony in the 2020 election. Serving as an honorary law enforcement officer is something O’Neal likes to do. Besides Broward, he’s been a reserve police officer or honorary deputy in multiple jurisdictions, including Miami Beach; Doral; Golden Beach; the Port of Los Angeles; Tempe, Ariz.; and Clayton County, Ga.

Broward County named Shaquille O’ Neal auxiliary deputy, after which the basketball star donated $10,000 to Gregory Tony’s election effort.

Assignment editors — Sheriff Tony will make a major announcement, 1:30 p.m., Broward County Governmental Center, 115 S Andrews Ave, Fort Lauderdale.

Hialeah voters have five charter amendments on their ballots” via Christina Morales of the Miami Herald — Hialeah voters could give their Mayor the authority to declare a state of emergency after a hurricane or other disaster, then spend an unlimited amount of city funds on cleanup without approval from the City Council for up to three months. That’s one of five proposed amendments to the city’s charter that will be on the Nov. 5 ballot and the one that would make the most substantial change to city government. Another would change the date of the city’s runoff election to line up with other municipalities. Others would amend the charter to conform to changes in state law, update language or make minor changes.

One man arrested after dispute with police outside Hialeah council candidate’s party” via Christina Morales of the Miami Herald

Pasco schools superintendent Kurt Browning to seek third term” via Jeffrey Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — After nearly eight years on the job, Browning says he hasn’t accomplished all he set out to do for improving the school system. That’s why he has decided to seek a third term leading Florida’s 10th-largest district. Pasco County also is the biggest school district in the nation to elect rather than appoint its chief executive. “I’ll be filing next week,” Browning said. “There’s still issues that need to be addressed, things to be completed.” Topping his list is the continued expansion of academic options within the district schools. “I want to see more choice in our system,” Browning said.


Broward schools lag on renovations” via Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Five years after Broward schools secured $800 million from taxpayers to renovate crumbling schools, progress has been astoundingly slow, with 97 percent of schools yet to receive long-promised repairs. Work is complete at only eight of 233 schools, leaving students and teachers in schools with mold, leaky roofs and failing air conditioners. Enrollment has dropped by 3,200 students in district-run schools in the past five years, and about 20% of parents in a survey last school year said poor facilities were a factor. The problems related to the $800 million bond, passed by voters in 2014, go beyond widely known delays and cost increases.

Miami DREAMers mull their future as DACA heads to Supreme Court” via Lautaro Grinspan of the Miami Herald — As they await a Supreme Court decision on the legality of the DACA program — with oral arguments set to start on Nov. 12 — some Miami DREAMers are mulling over an uncertain future. On the cusp of a bachelor’s degree in biology at Florida International University, Juliette Herrera faces a more uncertain future than most college seniors. During the years she has spent in school, the 28-year-old Venezuela native had seen the country she was born in — but moved away from by the time she was 5 — spiral further and further into economic collapse and political chaos. Meanwhile, the United States, the country she calls home, is still working out whether Herrera and other young people like her belong here at all.

Miami is blooming with skyscrapers. What about the people who clean them?” via Bob Wile of the Miami Herald — According to a report from the University of California-Los Angeles’ Center for Neighborhood Knowledge, the median wage for contracted office janitors in South Florida is approximately $8.50 per hour. That places South Florida janitorial workers in the bottom 10 percent for contracted janitorial earnings in Florida, a state where low-wage work is already pervasive. And the gap between janitors’ wages and the rest of the economy is only growing. While inflation-adjusted wages for all private-sector workers in South Florida have climbed 7.6 percent since 1998, janitorial wages have barely budged, increasing just 1.8 percent. The Miami metro area now ranks 380th out of 382 among all metro areas for janitorial wages when the cost of living is taken into account.

Duval’s state legislators will introduce bill to have referendum on elected schools superintendent” via Christopher Hong of the Florida Times-Union — The local bill, which was proposed by State Rep. Jason Fischer, was passed by the Duval Delegation 6-2. State Reps. Cord Byrd, Kimberly Daniels, Clay Yarborough, Wyman Duggan, Fischer and State Sen. Aaron Bean voted yes. State Sen. Audrey Gibson and State Rep. Tracie Davis voted no. Fischer has proposed holding a referendum next November to allow voters to decide whether the superintendent should become an elected position, as opposed to an appointed one selected by the Duval County School Board. If the Legislature allowed the referendum and it passes, an election would be held in November 2022 to choose a superintendent.

Jason Fischer’s push to have Duval County School Superintendent as an elected position is coming closer to reality. Image via Colin Hackley.

Nuclear bill coming due for JEA” via David Bauerlein of the Florida Times-Union — The Plant Vogtle nuclear plant in Georgia is 230 miles away from Jacksonville, but the financial impact of the budget-busting plant keeps coming closer as JEA begins to assess how much Vogtle will drive up customers’ bills. The nuclear plant’s swollen price also hovers over JEA’s negotiations with bidders interested in buying the utility because its multibillion-dollar Vogtle obligation would need to be resolved if the city were to sell JEA. Plant Vogtle might not be a household name for JEA’s 478,000 electric customers because so far, JEA’s cost for purchasing power from the plant when Vogtle’s two units come online in 2021 and 2022 hasn’t shown up in monthly electric bills.

Shad Khan, Jaguars expect Lot J development to begin in early 2020” via Jean Frenette of the Florida Times-Union — Jaguars owner Khan and president Mark Lamping expect to get approval for the development of Lot J by January and anticipate groundbreaking to begin by the end of the 2020 first quarter. Khan said the Lot J development, viewed as the city’s most significant centerpiece in a decades-old battle to build up downtown Jacksonville, is necessary to break a negative historical trend. “This has been like a 50-year objective in Jacksonville to do something downtown,” Khan said. “I’ve talked to enough people. We are probably as anxious as anybody to break this curse and get something going.”


Widow of combat veteran who died after fight at Brevard Jail appeals to Governor” via Alessandro Sassoon of FLORIDA TODAY — Kathleen Edwards sent a letter to DeSantis as well as other state and local officials, imploring them to reopen an investigation into the death of her husband, who died after a fight with corrections deputies at the Brevard County Jail in December last year. “We, community leaders, friends and family of U.S. Army veteran, Gregory L. Edwards, fervently appeal to you as guardians of the public trust,” the letter begins. Edwards, who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, was arrested after allegedly assaulting a man on the morning of December 9, 2018. Within a few hours, Edwards would be rushed with no pulse to the hospital from the jail after a fight with a corrections officer during the booking process.

Fla. guard linked to near-fatal beating was promoted despite long string of alleged abuses” via Romy Ellenbogen of the Miami Herald — Over a decade-long career at Florida’s largest women’s prison, Keith Turner has been accused of trading cigarettes for sex, insubordination, throwing inmate complaints into the trash, harassing inmates for their religious beliefs, kissing and groping them, stealing canteen items and dousing prisoners with noxious chemicals for no reason.

Infamous for Holocaust remarks but fired for missed calls, can principal win job back?” via Andrew Marry of the Palm Beach Post — After all the TV news trucks and international headlines and days of political outrage, Palm Beach County’s most infamous principal was fired not for refusing to call the Holocaust a fact but for failing to return phone calls.


Welcome to Florida, Trump, you’ll fit right in” via the Bob Morris for the Orlando Sentinel — As a proud fourth-generation Floridian, I applaud your decision to switch your official residency to our state. Welcome! You’ll fit right in here. Let your critics whine about how this is all about you not wanting to pay New York taxes. Idiots. Everyone knows you don’t pay taxes, at least not at the percentage level we suckers pay. Maybe we can learn something from you. And if that doesn’t work out, maybe you can pardon us. Clearly, you are switching states simply because you love it down here. The heat, the bugs, the humidity, the fact that Mar-a-Lago will come tumbling down when the Atlantic Ocean rises to claim it within the next century. But no worries.

Twitter ad ban will disadvantage new candidates, grassroots causes” via Joe Clements for the Tallahassee Democrat — Why should the average voter care about the ad policies of big tech companies like Twitter and Facebook? The simple reason is digital political ads are good for our democracy. Digital political ads provide a huge advantage for upstart candidates and causes with small budgets because they are the only ad format that permits effective small-dollar campaigns. The power of digital ads is that they lower the cost of campaigning and give all candidates and causes the opportunity to run a competitive campaign. The formula is now well known: Find a small group of supporters online, raise small-dollar donations and then reinvest back in the campaign to find even more supporters.

Restore septic tank inspections, Governor, and fix the Legislature’s mistake” via Lee Constantine for the Orlando Sentinel — In October, the Blue-Green Algae Task Force, appointed by DeSantis, recommended a series of policies to fight toxic algae, including a program to inspect and monitor septic tanks. As the task force pointed out in its report, “Poorly functioning and/or failing septic systems can contribute disproportionately to nutrient pollution and pose increased health risks.” It’s bad enough that Florida doesn’t have a program to inspect its nearly 3 million septic tanks, but it’s worse that legislators passed a law almost a decade ago to create one, then repealed it before it could take effect. If we don’t do something about this problem, we can count on more bills in the future amid mounting damage to our economy, environment and image.

Joe Henderson: Make private, public, and charter schools play by the same rules” via Florida Politics — Charters and private schools are here to stay in Florida. But the rules that apply to public schools sometimes don’t apply to the other schools. State Sen. Linda Stewart wants to change that. She filed SB 632 to make private and charter schools operate by the same standards as public schools. That seems fair to me. There are excellent charter and private schools, and they can be an attractive alternative to a struggling public school. Students can receive more individual instruction than a sometimes-harried public-school teacher can provide. They can receive religious instruction at a private church school. If the family chooses that route, they should have that right. But while the methods can be different, the standards shouldn’t be.

Legislature needs to fix the crisis it created” via the Citrus County Chronicle editorial board — Stop raiding the state’s housing trust fund. Demographic research affirms that the availability of affordable housing is fundamental to a community’s quality of life. It stimulates local economies by creating jobs. It improves a family’s overall health and helps children to perform better. It makes our communities safer by serving to reduce crime and drug abuse. It lessens the taxpayers’ burden by expanding the tax base, enabling the elderly and disabled to live independently, and by breaking the cycle of chronic homelessness. Florida’s affordable housing is in crisis due to the legalized looting of more than $2.2 billion from the Sadowski Trust Fund by state lawmakers every year since 2001 — enough to have subsidized nearly 177,000 new homes.


Appointed Carlos de la Cruz Jr. and Jason Barrett to the Florida Children and Youth Cabinet.

Personnel note: David Frady moving from DMS to Dep’t of State” via Florida Politics — Frady, previously communications director at the Department of Management Services, on Monday starts in the same position for the Department of State under Secretary Laurel Lee. Frady replaces Sarah Revell, who is taking a job outside of state government. She had been with the Department of State since April 2017. Before his DMS stint, Frady was Press Secretary and later Communications Director for the Department of Children and Families, according to his LinkedIn page. He also was a communications liaison for the Department of Environmental Protection.

GrayRobinson brings on five attorneys from Espinosa Martinez Law” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — The additions came to GrayRobinson from Espinosa Martinez Law, a Miami-based firm. Named partners Jorge Espinosa and Elio F. Martinez, Jr., as well as Francesca Russo, boarded as shareholders while Pablo Meles and Robert R. Jimenez will serve as of counsel and associate, respectively. The cohort have a background in intellectual property and technology law, and GrayRobinson said their presence on the roster would “provide significant depth and multinational experience to serve clients at the forefront of Florida’s economic engine.” Other specialties on their resumes: trademark counterfeiting, trademark infringement, copyright infringement, patent infringement and trade secret misappropriation.

Personnel note: Don Davis joins PinPoint ResultsDavis will focus solely on the firm’s technology practice, assisting technology clients on “helping state government function better, faster and cheaper,” a news release said. Davis has held several key public sector positions across multiple state agencies, including Chief Technology Officer for the Florida Department of Corrections. He also served as the Chief Information Officer for Florida Virtual School, leading technology policy, procurement and operations in support of the organization. “Don’s work in technology has included all operational facets needed to successfully plan and implement complex technology projects,” the release added. He has experience in financial planning and the state budgeting and procurement process.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Sebastian Aleksander, The Aleksander Group: Gaggle

Brian Ballard, Mathew Forrest, Ballard Partners: Florida Coalition for Modern Laws

French Brown, Jennifer Ungru, Dean Mead: Charlotte County, Lee County Board of County Commissioners

Rachel Clark, Cotney Construction Lobbying: Capital City Roofing & Sheet Metal Association

Christopher DawsonKim McDougal, GrayRobinson: FRSA Self Insurers Fund, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts

Scott Kittel: Foundation for Florida’s Future

Kimberly McGlynn, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney: Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated

Seth McKeel, Sydney Ridley, The Southern Group: Polk County Clerk of Court

Casey Mock, Services

Richard Pinsky, Akerman: GLAZER & SACHS

David Ramba, Paul Handerhan, Ramba Consulting Group: Florida Policyholders Cooperative

William Rubin, Heather Turnbull, Melissa Akeson, Amy Bisceglia, Erica Chanti, Christopher Finkbeiner, Matthew Sacco, Rubin Turnbull & Associates: Florence Fuller Child Development Centers, Voices for Children

Timothy Stanfield, Greenberg Traurig: The IMA Group

What Richard Corcoran is reading —When government lobbies government for more government” via Reason — For all their harrumphing about the evils of corporate influence-peddling, left-wing demagogues are amazingly — perhaps willfully — blind to the biggest influence-seekers in state capitals and DC: government agencies. “The money spent on lobbying by government agencies — cities, counties, school districts, water agencies, even rent control boards across the Golden State — consistently ranks at or near the top of the heap,” according to a KQED report. It’s a big problem at the local level, too.

— ALOE —

What Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster is reading — “’Hamilton’ hopefuls arrive early for tickets at Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall” via Charles Runnells of the Fort Myers News-Press — It was 5:30 a.m., and already people were lined up outside Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall. They all wanted the same thing: a shot at some of those much-hyped, much-anticipated “Hamilton” tickets. The biggest musical of the year is scheduled for performances Jan. 14-26 in Fort Myers. Karen Farhat was one of about 200 people who showed up Saturday hoping to see it. That’s why she got to Mann Hall at 4:15 a.m. — almost four hours before tickets went on sale at 8 a.m.

South Florida is anxious for the arrival of the national tour of ‘Hamilton.’


Celebrating today are lobbyists Robert Beck and Carlos Cruz, Angela Dempsey, Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, Jamie Jacobs, and good guy Joe Marino. Belated wishes to Rep. Bruce Antone, Clay BarkerTaylor Budowich, Capital City Consulting’s Ken Granger, and Colodny Fass’ Nicole Graganella Kelly and Reps. Dolores Hogan Johnson, Cary Pigman and Susan Valdes.


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.


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 @PeterSchorschFL

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