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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 11.8.19

A lot of Florida GOP politicians think they know Anthony Pedicini. And they do,  if only because Anthony fought for them as if his life depended on it.

A long string of Democratic candidates know him too and wish he was on their side. At least they have one thing to cheer about since Anthony first got involved in Florida politics: He’s a decade older.

With age comes tranquility, a desire to transcend the fighting and get along. That hasn’t happened for Anthony yet, but maybe it will someday.

Hunters remember the amiable guy they met in the woods, who chatted with them about deer hunting with the twang of a fellow Florida native. Turns out Anthony is from Bethpage, N.Y. But he speaks their language, understands their pain.

Ushers at Amalie Arena are growing old have been growing old the  last 15 years at Lightning games with the bald guy who screams a lot. The same man swings by Melbourne at least once a month to visit his nieces and nephew, to take them to ball games or Disney World because they’re getting older too. It’s actually Anthony’s large Italian family that knows him best, but indirectly so do all of those clients at SIMWins, because he checks on them and invests in them as if they were family too.

“He gets just as excited about the wins and takes the losses just as hard as he did when I first started working with him 10, 12 years ago now,” said Tom Piccolo. “That same fire in the belly hasn’t gone away or even subsided.”

That list of wins keeps getting longer, from local and state politics and even beyond. With it grows appreciation.

Sen. Bill Galvano remembers Anthony as the young man who went door to door with him in the rain prior to Galvano’s 2012 run. “Happy Birthday AP,” said Galvano, now the Senate president. “It’s been a few years since our first campaign together!”

Chances are he’ll live to fight another decade and never back down. Most of his foes eventually turn into friends.

“There are probably people today Anthony rubbed the wrong way a long time ago that like Anthony today, and probably those he rubbed the wrong way a long time ago that he still rubs the wrong way,” Piccolo said. “But at the end of the day, outside of the political arena, he really is a compassionate guy and a true family man. So to know him outside of politics is to love him.”

That’s why Anthony’s friends are raising a glass (or several) to celebrate his 40th birthday. Join us from 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday at Ulele, 1810 N Highland Ave.,Tampa.

Way to go Dane — Dane Eagle rakes in more than $100,000 in first day of congressional campaign” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — “Our campaign launch was extremely successful,” Eagle said. “We brought in over $100,000 in fundraising and secured numerous endorsements throughout the region, which we will be releasing in the coming weeks.”

Dane Eagle makes a splash on the first day of his congressional campaign.

The state Rep. is running for Florida’s 19th Congressional District. Now, he’s announced a buildup of resources for the expected fight. Currently the House Republican Leader, Eagle said he’s called in commitments from donors and continues to make phone calls to supporters.

He was the first prominent Republican to jump into the race since Rooney announced in October he won’t run for a third term.


On Sunrise, a deep dive into Florida’s Guardian program, as lawmakers try to figure out how to respond when people take advantage of the wards they are supposed to protect. It’s a response to the death of a 75-year-old man after his professional guardian entered a “do not resuscitate” order against his wishes.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— A committee in the state House approves a bill creating Elder Abuse Fatality Review Teams in each of the state’s judicial circuits. Its job will be identifying gaps in services and support for seniors and recommending systemic improvements to prevent elder abuse.

Joe Clements, the founder of Strategic Digital Services, says Twitter’s decision to ban political ads is not a promising idea. In fact, Clements thinks it’s worse than Facebook’s decision to allow politicians to lie in their advertising.

— More Florida Man madness: Police charged a Pasco County man with aggravated assault; the man thought another driver was trying to kill him. He was charged after admitting to shooting at the wrong vehicle.

To listen, click on the image below:


@RealDonaldTrump: The Amazon Washington Post and three lowlife reporters, Matt Zapotosky, Josh Dawsey, and Carol Leonnig, wrote another Fake News story, without any sources (pure fiction), about Bill Barr & myself. We both deny this story, which they knew before they wrote it. A garbage newspaper!

@Petridishes: all these [Donald] Trump scandals reinforce that there should be a term like “mastermind” but for when you aren’t and didn’t

@EWarren: I’m always happy to meet with people, even if we have different views. @BillGates, if we get the chance, I’d love to explain exactly how much you’d pay under my wealth tax. (I promise it’s not $100 billion.)

@Chas10Buttigieg: I don’t know who needs to hear this today, but the holiday stuff is out at TJ Maxx, so if you want to snag the good candles and wrapping paper …

@BruceRitchie: @NoahValenstein to FL Senate panel: Everglades restoration is ‘on steroids.’ He avoids criticizing Army Corps of Engineers — who he calls a “great partner” — for what some critics are calling permit delays.

@CarlosGSmith: Why do private schools that fire gay teachers get taxpayer money? Now their kids don’t have a drama teacher. Many of those theater kids are probably LGBTQ and instead of teaching them they’re born PERFECT just the way they are, this school plants dangerous seeds of hate. Shame!

@NeilCombee: Is the (healthy marriage) guide going to include a part about not cheating on your wife at Level 8? Or would that be too close to home for some legislators?


“The Mandalorian” premieres — 4; New season of “The Crown” streaming on Netflix — 9; Fifth Democratic debate — 12; “Frozen 2” debuts — 14; Next government shutdown (maybe) — 14; TaxWatch 40th Annual Meeting — 24; UK votes on Brexit — 34; “The Rise of Skywalker” premiers — 42; College Football National Championship — 66; 2020 Session begins — 67; Florida TaxWatch State of the TaxPayer Dinner in Tallahassee — 68; New Brexit deadline — 84; Super Bowl LIV in Miami — 86; Great American Realtors Day — 87; Iowa Caucuses — 87; New Hampshire Primaries — 95; Last day of 2020 Session (maybe) — 125; Florida’s presidential primary — 131; “Black Panther 2” debuts — 180; 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo begin — 257; Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races — 291; First Vice Presidential debate at the University of Utah — 334; First Presidential Debate scheduled at the University of Michigan — 342; Second presidential debate at Belmont — 349; 2020 General Election — 361.


Florida’s recreational marijuana initiatives are low and signatures and time” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — Regulate Florida has only about 92,000 signatures of the required 766,200 needed by Feb. 1 to qualify. The other group, Make It Legal Florida, has about 57,000 signatures. The petitions also face a headwind of skeptical GOP legislators. But the most significant obstacles right now are money and time. “We’ve got a lot of grassroots support … but we’re not getting enough [funding], and we’re not getting it consistently,” said Karen Goldstein, deputy director of pro-pot group NORML Florida and vice-chair of Regulate Florida. “We need someone with big, deep pockets to step up in a very short period of time in order for us to make the ballot.”

Karen Goldstein of NORML Florida says the recreational marijuana initiative lacks consistent funding, resulting in it lagging behind in signatures gathered.


Assignment editors Ron DeSantis and Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein will highlight an Everglades restoration, 8 a.m. at the C-44 Stormwater Treatment Area Project Site in Indiantown, 13235 SW Minute Maid Road.

David Simmons files bill to raise smoking age to 21, also targets e-cigarettes” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — He has filed a new version of his “Tobacco 21 Act,” or T21. Simmons attempted the bill last Session, but House ultimately killed it. “I think it would be difficult in the House to move the age for smoking,” Speaker José Oliva said regarding the bill. “I think that a lot of people feel in this chamber that 18 years is an adult, and adults should be able to make their own decisions,” added Oliva, who remains co-CEO of Oliva Cigar Co. But Simmons is once again looking to push the issue, refiling the measure this week (SB 810). The 2020 version looks to raise the purchasing age for e-cigarettes, vape pens, and any other “electronic smoking device” to 21.

David Simmons is trying once again to raise the age to buy cigarettes to 21. Image via Colin Hackley.

Darryl Rouson files bill to create certification process for Dozier School for Boys victims” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — The “Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys and Okeechobee School Abuse Victim Certification Act” would provide a process by which victims at the notorious school can be certified and then begin a streamlined claims process. Under Rouson’s bill (SB 750), a person claiming they are a victim must submit an application to the Department of State by Sept. 1, 2020 including an affidavit stating the applicant was confined at one of the schools between 1940 and 1975 during which time they were subjected to mental, physical or sexual abuse by school personnel. The bill establishes a process that includes a timeline for filing an application, how to correct application errors or submit missing documentation after an application is filed.

Is Boomer OK? House committee workshops guardianship woes” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — The House Children, Families & Seniors Subcommittee heard from the Department of Elder Affairs and the Clerks’ Statewide Investigations Alliance. Media scrutiny fell on the guardian program earlier this year, when DeSantis vowed “vigorous oversight” after an Orlando guardian’s do-not-resuscitate order led to a 75-year-old’s death in a hospital, despite that the patient potentially could have been saved. Elder Affairs Secretary Richard Prudom noted that “as the baby boomer population begins to age, guardianship plays a more important role in the lives of Floridians.” Prudom asserted that the Governor prioritized guardianship reforms. Florida’s population is growing, with the over-60 cohort representing a major demographic expansion.

Chris Latvala files nearly $5.5 million in local appropriations requests” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — The requests would fund beach protection in Madeira Beach, a drug recovery program for parents of young children and a fire training and education facility in Dunedin. Latvala filed an appropriations request (HB 2611) for $1.5 million to fund beach groin maintenance in Madeira Beach. The beach groins are human-made structures that line portions of a beach and extend into the water to protect against erosion. The funds would come from the Department of Environmental Protection. The appropriations request argues the funds would negate the need for beach nourishment and that the groins have proven effective because the city has not needed to request federal funding for beach renourishment. The request is for nonrecurring funds, but future requests are anticipated.

Holly Raschein funding requests would help UM AIDS research, various Keys projects” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The most significant funding request of the bunch (HB 2737) would have an impact far beyond Monroe County. Raschein — who represents House District 120, which covers the Florida Keys — is asking lawmakers for $1 million to support the University of Miami Center for AIDS Research (CFAR). CFAR was given $850,000 in nonrecurring general revenue funds in the 2019-20 budget signed by DeSantis. Raschein is asking for an extra $150,000 in nonrecurring funds for the 2020-21 budget. In 2017, Florida had the third-highest rate of new HIV diagnoses. According to Science Magazine, Miami had the highest per capita rate of new infections of any American city in 2016. Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Jacksonville, all were in the top 10 as well.

Ben Diamond seeks to boost high school civics education through community projects” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — The goal is to increase citizen engagement. The bill would establish an option for school districts to include a nonpartisan civic literacy project through their U.S. Government curriculum. That project would require students to identify an issue or problem in their community, research the problem, and then develop strategies to address it. The bill (HB 581) would give students the opportunity to supplement U.S. Government education through community service. “Students have traditionally learned civics through textbooks and class discussions,” Diamond said. “Our bill is designed to supplement that work with real-world problem-solving.”

Ben Diamond wants to boost high school civics education, focusing on real-world problem-solving.

Parental consent for abortions gets Senate hearing — A bill that would require minors to get permission from their parents before having abortions will go before the Senate Health Policy Committee next week. SB 404, sponsored by Lakeland Republican Sen. Kelli Stargel, would bar doctors from performing abortions on minors unless they have received a notarized consent form. The bill has the support of Senate President Bill Galvano, and the House version, HB 265, is already primed for a floor vote when the 2020 Legislation Session begins in January.


Nikki Fried tours red tide in Sarasota — Agriculture Commissioner Fried visited Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium in Sarasota on Thursday to view red tide conditions on Florida’s Gulf Coast, following reports of high concentrations of the harmful algal bloom in Gulf Coast waters this week, including in the Sarasota area. “Water is the lifeblood of our state, and critical to our environment, our economy, and our very lives,” Fried said. “Red tide not only threatens our shores and tourism economy, it puts public health and ecosystems at risk. From water legislation, to funding for water conservation technology on farms, to updating our farming practices to improve water quality, we must do all we can to protect the water upon which we all rely.”

Nikki Fried visits the Mote Marine Laboratory, saying red tide threatens tourism, ecosystems and public health.

Florida plans to send troubled kids in child welfare to this location” via Elizabeth Koh via the Tampa Bay Times — Miami-Dade and Monroe counties could lose about $11.5 million in funding for their child welfare system in the next few years, under changes that are being weighed by the state Department of Children and Families. But a plan to keep the existing funding in place could involve sending some of the state’s most troubled children from other regions to a facility in South Florida for more involved care, DCF Secretary Chad Poppell said, without additional funds to support them. Those children could include some in the child welfare system in Hillsborough County, where the local lead agency has struggled to place teenagers who are resisting placements or therapy.

Challenge to teacher unions law dropped” via News Service of Florida — Plaintiffs, including the Florida Education Association, have dismissed a lawsuit challenging a controversial 2018 state law that can require teacher unions to be recertified to represent employees. The plaintiffs filed a one-paragraph notice of dismissal last Friday, two weeks before Leon County Circuit Judge Angela Dempsey was scheduled to hold a hearing on a request by the state for summary judgment upholding the law, records show. Dempsey, in August, issued a ruling that rejected some of the key arguments raised by the law’s opponents. The plaintiffs dismissed the case “without prejudice,” a legal move that leaves open the possibility of a future lawsuit on the issue.

Disciplinary confinement in prison should be a ‘last resort,’ and Florida inmates must have basic rights” via Diane Rado of Florida Phoenix — Following a series of inmate beatings and continued concerns about conditions at Florida’s state prisons, State Rep. Dianne Hart has filed legislation related to fundamental rights for inmates. Those rights include proper ventilation in housing units and at least 20 minutes for inmates to eat a meal. Also, a warden’s approval must be obtained before an inmate is placed in disciplinary confinement, and such confinement must be a “last resort.” Hart, a Democrat from Tampa, has been following the long-standing problems of Florida’s Department of Corrections, and her former brother-in-law, an inmate, was allegedly assaulted by four corrections officers in July at the Central Florida Reception Center in Orlando.

He was accused of savagely beating an inmate. Now he’s been charged with child molestation” via Tess Riski of the Miami Herald — A Florida prison corrections officer accused of brutally beating a female inmate — leaving her paralyzed from the neck down — was arrested Wednesday on charges of an entirely different nature: sexual battery and child molestation. The Marion County Sheriff’s Office Wednesday arrested Keith Turner, 34, a lieutenant at Lowell Correctional Institution, one of the largest women’s prisons in the United States and the largest in Florida. It is already the subject of a federal investigation for, among other things, persistent reports of sexual abuse by female inmates by male officers. In August, the sheriff’s office learned of a juvenile who reported the alleged abuse by the lieutenant in a letter to a family member.

FAMU cannabis program reports $1.46M in spending” via Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO — Florida A & M University’s medical marijuana education program might have spent more than $260,000 more than it told the state Department of Health in August. The FAMU Medical Marijuana Education and Research Initiative will deliver a presentation to the Senate Appropriations Committee that details more than $1.46 million in spending since May 2018, more than the $1.2 million in receipts, invoices, and internal spreadsheets FAMU reported to the Department of Health in August. The most significant increase in spending was for salaries and wages, which grew to $579,000, an $85,000 increase from payroll records FAMU gave to the Department of Health.


Hurricane victims face growing fire threat from ravaged forests; 4,200 acres have burned” via Laura Cassels of Florida Phoenix — Thirteen months ago, Hurricane Michael destroyed 500 million trees in an 11-county area of north Florida, says Florida Forest Service Director Jim Karels. The once-valuable timber now represents little more than kindling that already has fueled fires on nearly 4,200 acres. The risk of wildfire is 10 times greater than usual in the worst-hit counties and will remain high for at least five years, Karels told the Florida Senate Committee on Agriculture. Senators on the committee said the situation is dangerous and that relief is urgently needed. “The longer we wait, the more threat there is for fires,” said Sen. Bill Montford, a Democrat whose district includes Calhoun and Gulf counties, both with catastrophic damage.

The devastation from Hurricane Michael has also caused more than 4,000 acres of wildfires. Image via Getty.

Federal money is available to help with hurricane recovery, but not everyone who needs it can get it” via Regan McCarthy of WFSU — Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz said there are millions of dollars available for hurricane recovery. But, there’s one problem: “None of that is going to be drawn down by these cities and counties if we don’t come up with a cost-share program for them.” The communities impacted by the storm were mostly rural and poor. Moskowitz says that makes coming up with the matching funds many federal programs require, difficult. “Bay County can handle it, but outside of Bay County, the cities in Bay County and the rural counties don’t have the 25% match to draw down on the cost-share. And we can’t leave, almost in my opinion, what could be a billion dollars on the table.”

Flood insurance rate changes put on hold — FEMA’s overhaul of flood insurance rates got a one-year delay after Congress expressed concerns about rate hikes, Zachary Warmbrodt of POLITICO reports. The Risk Rating 2.0 initiative will now be implemented on Oct. 1, 2021, rather than Oct. 1, 2020. The initiative, announced in March, aimed to modernize the risk assessment protocols used by the National Flood Insurance Program to more accurately determine rates. Lawmakers representing coastal areas fear the new system will lead to significant premium increases for their constituents. NFIP is in debt to the U.S. Treasury due to several catastrophic floods following hurricanes. The risk assessment tools currently used have changed little since the 1970s.

Florida’s hemp program still shooting for winter crop but issues remain” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Florida officials expect the state’s first legal hemp farmers since the 1930s to start planting seeds in the first quarter of 2020, but there remain some unresolved and newly emerging issues to be worked out. Florida Cannabis Director Holly Bell outlined that timeline, along with some of the challenges faced now by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in bringing a hemp farming program out of the ground during a presentation to the state Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Environment, and General Government. Those challenges include the newly published federal standards for the recently legalized hemp agriculture industry, which came out last Friday and immediately created some conflicts with the proposed Florida standards.

Citrus oversupply latest hurdle for Florida growers” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — Now the problem is an oversupply of citrus because of fruit from other countries, and Florida growers may be forced to allow some of their crops to hit the ground without being harvested. Juice processors did not expect Florida citrus production to return to the level seen just before Irma and signed three- and five-year supply deals with growers from countries including Mexico and Brazil. Those contracts have left Florida growers, who had faced more than a decade of declining production, facing a market glut. “It is dire. This is real,” Senate Agriculture Chairman Ben Albritton said.

Water wars: Florida blames Georgia for the demise of its prized oyster population in Apalachicola Bay” via Jill Nolin of Florida Phoenix — It’s the same case that has gone all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court once already, with the justices issuing a 5-3 decision last year sending it back down for a fresh round of inquiry after an earlier court-appointed special master, Ralph Lancaster, came up short. Lancaster had recommended dismissing the case because of what amounts to a technicality. At the time, Florida officials heralded the Supreme Court’s decision as a win. The Sunshine State blames Georgia’s thirst for the demise of its prized oyster population in the Apalachicola Bay, saying dwindling water flows downriver have hurt its economy and ecology.

The Water Is Already Low At A Florida Freshwater Spring, But Nestlé Wants More” via Greg Allen of NPR — In Florida, Nestlé is taking heat from environmental groups and others concerned about the future of one of the state’s most endangered natural resources — its freshwater springs. Florida has more than a thousand freshwater springs, which provide drinking water, important natural habitat and places for recreation. Nestlé wants to begin taking more than a million gallons of water each day from Ginnie Springs, a popular destination in north Florida for swimming, canoeing and tubing.

Hurricane Tweet That Angered Trump Wasn’t About Trump, Forecasters Say” via Lisa Friedman and Mark Walker of the New York Times — When officials at a government weather forecasting office assured Alabama residents that a September hurricane would not hit their state, they did not intend to contradict President Trump’s insistence that it would, according to newly disclosed documents. Instead, they were answering a deluge of questions from Alabama residents whose concerns had been raised by Mr. Trump’s statements.


Donald Trump wanted William Barr to hold news conference saying the President broke no laws in call with Ukrainian leader” via Matt Zapotosky, Josh Dawsey and Carol Leonnig of The Washington Post — The request from Trump traveled from the President to other White House officials and eventually to the Justice Department. The President has mentioned Barr’s demurral to associates in recent weeks, saying he wished Barr would have held the news conference, Trump advisers say. In recent weeks, the Justice Department has sought some distance from the White House, particularly on matters relating to the burgeoning controversy over Trump’s dealings on Ukraine and the impeachment inquiry they sparked. People close to the administration say Barr and Trump remain on good terms.

Donald Trump urged Atty. Gen. William Barr to hold a news conference exonerating the President from any laws broken with the Ukraine call.

Impeachment transcripts reveal a consistent, damaging narrative for Trump” via Andrew Desiderio of POLITICO — Rudy Giuliani was Trump‘s enforcer, circumventing official channels and bewildering professional diplomats as he pressured Ukraine to target Trump’s political opponents. Along the way, career foreign service officers became collateral damage — and questions of a Trump-authorized quid pro quo emerged, a scandal that now imperils the Trump presidency. Those are the unchallenged details revealed so far in five transcripts of depositions released as part of the House impeachment inquiry. And as Democrats prepare for public hearings, they are underscoring the common thread running through the witnesses’ accounts. “I think you will see throughout the course of the testimony — not only their testimony but many others — the most important facts are largely not contested,” House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff said.

Insults, threats and the Godfather: Feds parade Roger Stone witness tampering evidence” via POLITICO — Federal prosecutors unveiled a barrage of evidence against longtime Trump adviser Stone as they tried to show that Stone tried to bully an associate to stay silent when a House committee investigating Russia’s 2016 election interference came calling. … While the crass messages jolted the normally staid courtroom setting, they also illustrated the degree to which Stone was in touch with Trump’s campaign during the peak of the 2016 election, when the GOP provocateur was bragging and winking about WikiLeaks’ plans to dump emails that would roil Hillary Clinton’s campaign.


Social justice, Republican-style” via Noah Rothman of Commentary magazine — Trump uncovered an underserved segment of the American electorate, one hostile toward the GOP’s rigid fiscal austerity but amenable to the Republican Party’s cultural grievances. The challenge before politicians catering to this voting bloc is how to do it while preserving intellectual consistency. As Sen. Marco Rubio demonstrated, that’s an obstacle that is not so easily overcome. This week, Florida’s senior Senator delivered an address at the Catholic University of America entitled “Catholic Social Doctrine and the Dignity of Work.” Modeled on an essay the Senator published in the journal First Things, Rubio evoked increasingly familiar themes on the right about the inherently flawed aspects of the modern economy and its supposedly destructive effects on the community and the family.

Rep. Matt Gaetz Mocks Media as ‘Kale and Quinoa’ Eaters Who Look Down Upon ‘Fried Food’ Eating ‘Real America’” via Charlie Nash of Mediaite —Gaetz mocked the media as a group of “kale and quinoa” eaters who look down upon those that eat “fried foods” in “real America.” During an interview with Fox News’ Mark Levin on Life, Liberty, and Levin, where the two discussed the impeachment inquiry against PresidentTrump, Gaetz declared, “I believe that far too many people in the Washington media have given up journalism, and instead have taken on the role of advocacy. They don’t believe that their job is to report on what is happening. They are trying to shape public opinion to be consistent with their worldview.”

— 2020 —

Tom Steyer aide offered money for endorsements” via Alexander Jaffe of The Associated Press — A top aide to Steyer in Iowa has privately offered campaign contributions to local politicians in exchange for endorsing his White House bid, according to multiple people with direct knowledge of the conversations. The overtures from Pat Murphy, a former state House speaker who is serving as a top adviser on Steyer’s Iowa campaign, aren’t illegal — though payments for endorsements would violate campaign finance laws if not disclosed. There’s no evidence that any Iowans accepted the offer, or received contributions from Steyer’s campaign as compensation for their backing. But the proposals could revive criticism that the billionaire Steyer is trying to buy his way into the White House.

An aide for Tom Steyer offered money for endorsements. It didn’t work.

Bernie Sanders is flush with cash. Here’s how he plans to spend it.” via Reid Epstein and Sydney Ember of The New York Times — Sanders has been on the air in Iowa since early October when his campaign spent $1.3 million on television advertising and has bought $1 million of TV time in New Hampshire. The campaign has so far largely flouted traditional politicking, wagering instead on robust on-the-ground organizing to bring new voters into the political process. But in earmarking tens of millions of dollars for television advertising between now and Super Tuesday in early March, the campaign is following a more established and analog path to accomplish what it says is the same aim. The campaign is producing its television ads in-house.

Is Elizabeth Warren ‘angry’ and antagonistic? Or are rivals dabbling in gendered criticism?” via Matt Viser and Annie Linskey of The Washington Post — The attacks get at something far beyond her policy positions, and into one of the most fraught areas for a female candidate: Is she likable? Pushing that argument is treacherous given that many Democrats remain upset over what they view as sexist treatment of Clinton. Warren’s allies view the language being used against her as constructed to be particularly devastating for a female candidate and beyond the policy divisions between her and her rivals. Women’s activism — driven in part by Clinton’s loss — has fueled social and political movements, evident in the #MeToo campaign and election results during the 2018 midterms. But it also comes as Democrats worry about turning off voters in states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Warren offers to explain her wealth tax to Bill Gates” via Maanvi Singh of The Guardian — Speaking at the New York Times DealBook conference, Gates balked at Warren’s tax policies. “I’ve paid over $10bn in taxes. I’ve paid more than anyone in taxes,” he said. “When you say I should pay $100bn, then I’m starting to do a little math over what I have left over.” Warren, who has proposed a 6% tax on wealth over 10 figures, reassured Gates that he wouldn’t have to pay $100bn. At the conference, Gates had said, “I’m not sure how open-minded she is — or that she’d even be willing to sit down with somebody who has large amounts of money.” Warren responded: “I’m always happy to meet with people, even if we have different views.”

Elizabeth Warren offered to explain her wealth tax plan to a skeptical Bill Gates.

Is Venice Mayor’s race a warning sign for Trump in Florida?” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Democrats were gleeful this week when Ron Feinsod won the Venice Mayor’s race. Others pointed to the win as a sign that there is a broader problem for Republicans. Sarasota Democratic activist Gabriel Hament tweeted that the “walls are closing in” for the Sarasota GOP and that the Party is “losing control.” “There is now a multi-alarm fire raging in Sarasota County,” Hament wrote. “Deep red Venice now has a Democratic Mayor!” Feinsod’s victory is noteworthy because southern Sarasota County is one of the most Republican areas of the state. It is heavily populated with older, white voters who came out strong for Trump in 2016.


Signatures piling up for pot initiative” via the News Service of Florida — A political committee backing a proposed constitutional amendment to legalize recreational marijuana had submitted more than 57,000 petition signatures to the state Division of Elections as of Wednesday. Make It Legal Florida registered with the state in August and had spent more than $1 million as of Sept. 30 as it gathers petition signatures. The proposed amendment, if approved, would allow adults 21 or older to “possess, use, purchase, display, and transport up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and marijuana accessories for personal use for any reason.” The state Division of Elections had received 57,045 valid signatures from the committee as of Wednesday. The committee needs to submit 76,632 signatures to trigger a Florida Supreme Court review.

Six-figure October fundraising for Jason Fischer” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — State Rep. Fischer, a Jacksonville Republican seeking his third term in House District 16, will report over $100,000 raised in October between his campaign account and political committee, Conservative Solutions for Jacksonville. Fischer, who represents a swath of Jacksonville’s Southside and Mandarin areas, found support at home, and home away from home. His local campaign kickoff on Oct. 2 embodied what Fischer called a “large showing of support” from the same cadre of locals who backed him from 2016 onward. As well, Fischer had a Tallahassee fundraiser at the Governors’ Club in October. Fischer’s HD 16 has a strong GOP plurality: of its 120,186 registered voters, over 55,000 are Republican registrants.

Jason Fischer raked in a six-figure October. Image via Colin Hackley.

Patrick Henry looks to recapture House seat” via the News Service of Florida — After narrowly losing his Volusia County seat in 2018, former Rep. Henry is looking to return. Henry last week opened a campaign account to run in 2020 against Rep. Elizabeth Fetterhoff, who defeated Henry by 61 votes in last year’s election in House District 26. Fetterhoff had raised about $66,000 for her reelection bid as of Sept. 30, a finance report shows. The Henry-Fetterhoff race comes as Rep. Scott Plakon also faces a rematch in 2020 in Seminole County’s House District 29. Longwood Democrat Tracey Kagan, who lost to Plakon by 1,503 votes last year, has opened a campaign account to run again for the seat.

Jenna Persons boasts more than quarter million cash on hand” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — That’s thanks in part to Persons raising over $170,000 for her campaign since she announced in February. But on top of campaign cash, a new political committee chaired by Persons, Conservative Legacy Fund, raised $100,000 in October. “I couldn’t be more grateful for the overwhelming support from hardworking people across Southwest Florida,” Persons said. … Persons is facing philanthropist Roger Lolly in the Republican primary for House District 78. Lolly hasn’t posted October figures but had raised $23,225 through September.

In three Miami-Dade cities, the election isn’t over. Here’s how to vote in the runoff.” via The Miami Herald — In Miami, Hialeah and Miami Beach, multiple races are going to a runoff election on Nov. 19. These races had at least three candidates each, with none getting more than 50% of the vote, which is required to win outright. Voters will now choose between the top two vote-getters in six races in the runoff. Just like for the general election, people can vote through the mail, at an early voting site or in person on the date of the runoff election.

Naples doctor wants to become Southwest Florida’s next Republican congressman” via Dave Elias of NBC-2 — A Naples area doctor who wants to become Southwest Florida’s next Republican congressman wants to make his ideas happen. He’s suggesting gun safety courses for students as an answer to school shootings. Political newcomer Dr. William Figlesthaler is throwing his hat into the political ring to replace Congressman Francis Rooney, who announced he won’t run for a third term.

Save the date:

Oscar Braynon, Nick Duran back Daniella Levine Cava in Miami-Dade mayoral race” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — “Daniella Levine Cava embodies what it means to be a champion of everyday people and I am proud to endorse and support her campaign for Miami-Dade County Mayor,” Braynon said in a statement. “We need more leaders like her helping solve the real challenges too many families face today. She will be an excellent Mayor and an effective partner for local communities.” Duran also added: “I’ve known and worked with Daniella Levine Cava for years and have seen her compassion and commitment to helping our community — both as a nonprofit advocate and now as a county commissioner.”

In three Miami-Dade cities, the election isn’t over. Here’s how to vote in the runoff.” via Joey Flechas, Martin Vassolo and Christina Morales of the Miami Herald — Homestead concluded its election Tuesday when voters filled two council seats and chose a new Mayor. Still, in Miami, Hialeah and Miami Beach, multiple races are going to a runoff election on Nov. 19. Voters will now choose between the top two vote-getters in six races in the runoff. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Nov. 19. Those who vote on the day of the runoff must vote at their assigned precinct. Registered voters have until 5 p.m. on Nov. 9 to request a mail ballot from the Miami-Dade County Elections Department. Each of the three cities will have their own early voting schedule.

Elections miscount? Some candidates in Hialeah think there might have been” via Christina Morales of the Miami Herald — Some Hialeah candidates are questioning the results of Tuesday’s election, showing screenshots and other voting reports with conflicting numbers and different winners and losers. The Miami-Dade County Department of Elections said results it reported Tuesday night are accurate. Conflicting numbers that appeared later were the result of a technical malfunction on the website and were not correct, a spokeswoman said. Photos candidates or their supporters took of the elections website show that there would have been significant changes in all races if the alternate numbers were correct. The photos show that the results changed several times between midnight and 1 a.m. Wednesday, hours after the county said counting had been completed.


Amid Trump-NYT controversy, everyone has a thought for Citrus County” via Zachary Sampson and Josh Fiallo of the Tampa Bay Times — Former New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson was frustrated when he called Citrus County’s library office Wednesday morning. He had read about local commissioners saying they would not pay $2,700 for digital subscriptions to the New York Times for 70,000 library cardholders. “Fake news,” the commissioners had said, professing their support for Trump. Fine, Alderson thought. I’ll pay for it. “Honestly (I) was outraged by the attempt to censor responsible journalism, and the idea of not making the New York Times or frankly any newspaper available to library members was ridiculous,” said Alderson, who lives in St. Petersburg and is a special adviser for the Oakland A’s.

Former New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson was one of many people with a strong opinion on the Citrus County Commission nixing the library’s New York Times subscriptions.

Jacksonville Port Authority receives $20 million grant” via Scott Butler of the Florida Times-Union — The grant is for infrastructure improvements to include reconstructing about 100 acres of pavement at the SSA Jacksonville Container Terminal on Blount Island to allow the port to accommodate large container vessels better. Other improvements to the terminal include storm drainage, enhanced lighting, signage and utilities, JAXPORT said. The project is expected to generate 3,500 jobs in the first 10 years, a port spokeswoman said. It’ll help create 15,000 jobs in conjunction with the deepening of the harbor, according to U.S. Rep. John Rutherford. JAXPORT said the funding is part of a $238 million plan to expand and upgrade the facility, with more than half coming from private partner SSA Marine.

Lee commissioners vote to fire Port Authority executive director” via Bill Smith of The News-Press — In a move as dramatic as it was surprising, Lee County commissioners voted 3-2 to fire Port Authority Executive Director Jeff Mulder. Mulder walked into the meeting of the board, who were sitting as the county Port Commissioners, expecting to negotiate a contract extension and a raise. He walked out unemployed, but with a comfortable severance package that includes 20 weeks of termination notice pay. As executive director of the Port Authority for nearly three years, Mulder led the management team at Southwest Florida International Airport and Page Field. He started in January 2017, coming from Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Hernando County sells park sites to company of state Rep. Blaise Ingoglia” via Barbara Behrendt of the Tampa Bay Times — Hernando County commissioners on Tuesday unanimously declared as surplus nearly 40 acres of property scattered around Spring Hill that was slated for future parks. They accepted a bid of $408,000 from Hartland Homes, the home building company of state Rep. Ingoglia, a Spring Hill Republican. Commissioners were set to consider the sale last month, but delayed the action because the wrong contract was in the commission’s paperwork for the meeting. Since then, social media has lit up with questions about why the commission would sell the public lands, especially for $10,000 an acre when home sites in Spring Hill run for much higher prices.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez gives Tony Robbins key to city despite sexual misconduct accusations” via Joey Flechas of the Miami Herald — Robbins, a well-known self-help author who has been accused of groping women and other sexual misconduct, was honored by Miami Mayor Suarez when the mayor gave Robbins the key to the city Wednesday and declared it “Tony Robbins Day.” Robbins was the subject of a five-part investigative series published this year by BuzzFeed News that detailed allegations from multiple former staffers and followers that Robbins groped women, instructed them to touch themselves sexually and berated victims of rape and sexual violence. The allegations did not stop the figurehead of Miami’s government from showering Robbins with praise during a visit to City Hall on Wednesday. Suarez posed for a picture with Robbins Wednesday and posted it on social media.

As Orlando prepares to vote on scooters, Lime readies to shift away from bikes.” via Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel — Orlando officials have tweaked some of the city’s proposed restrictions for motorized scooters, which are expected to appear on streets by early 2020. And as the City Council prepares to vote on the ordinance for the first time Monday, rental company Lime confirmed if it’s approved to operate scooters it plans to remove its 500 bicycles, which have averaged about 35,000 rides per month. “If selected for a permit, we look forward to a smooth transition to scooters by the end of the year,” Lime lobbyist Vivian Myrtetus said through a spokesman. “Lime users across the world have demonstrated their preference for scooters, and given our experience in other Florida cities, we anticipate the same will be true in Orlando.”

Conservative county pushes back against ‘gun-free’ zone designation” via Bill Cotterell of the Tallahassee Democrat — The Lake County Commission voted unanimously this week for a resolution declaring the county “a Second Amendment sanctuary.” Just what that means is not spelled out in the brief resolution. Nobody is trying to disarm Okahumpka at the moment. Still, folks between Ocala and Orlando want to be ready, in case Beto O’Rourke somehow rekindles his White House hopes or some other gun-grabbing liberal catches fire in the Democratic presidential primaries. County Commissioner Josh Blake, who sponsored the resolution, said Lake is the first Florida county to declare itself a safe space for guns. But he said the idea is catching on around the country and that half the counties in Illinois have adopted such designations.

Broward Schools official wore naked woman Halloween costume to work. Trouble ensued.” via Colleen Wright of the Miami Herald — A top Broward County Public Schools administrator is on notice after a photo depicting a raunchy Halloween costume she wore to work caught the district’s attention. Mary Catherine Coker, the school district’s director of procurement and warehousing services, is seen in a photo and video dressed as a flasher. Coker, in dark sunglasses and a top hat, appears to be wearing a detailed nude woman’s bodysuit under a black trench coat. She appears to be posing in a costume contest next to employees dressed as Wonder Woman and a sumo wrestler.

After critics raise hell, Brevard sheriff says ‘In God We Trust’ decals will stay on patrol cars” via Brett Clarkson of the Orlando Sentinel — The sheriff of Brevard County is doubling down on the new “In God We Trust” decals affixed to his agency’s patrol cars. An organization that advocates for the separation of church and state called for the removal of the four-word phrase from the vehicles. But Brevard Sheriff Wayne Ivey, in an interview with Fox News, rebuffed the request.

Proctor blasts TPD chief applicant over shooting” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — Leon County Commissioner Proctor said Tallahassee Police Maj. Lawrence Revell, who was cleared by a grand jury in a fatal shooting 23 years ago, should not be in the running to be the next police chief because of the incident. His comments prompted police to summon reporters to headquarters, where Revell defended his actions. In a hastily-called press conference, Proctor said anyone who shot and killed “a son of District 1” would not be welcome to lead the Tallahassee Police Department.


The slippery slope of more public records loopholes in Florida” via Steve Bousquet of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The 2020 Session of the Legislature hasn’t even begun, and lawmakers are almost tripping over each other as they try to create new and questionable loopholes in Florida’s public records laws. This dangerously slippery slope was on full display in the Senate. All six members of the Senate Judiciary Committee agreed to a bill (SB 248) to carve a new exemption for the home address, date of birth, phone number, birth date and photo of every county attorney and assistant county attorney in the state. These are public employees paid by us who provide legal advice to local governments. If you might ever need to find one of them after this bill becomes law, you’re out of luck.

FSU AD needs to shut up about Bob Stoops and Urban Meyer, conduct proper coaching search” via Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel — Why do I say this? Because you’ve already broken the very first and most basic rule of Coaching Search 101, which states: “Athletic directors are strictly forbidden from addressing rumors, message board speculation and media reports on the coaching candidates they may or may not hire.”

Sunscreen debate exposes the Legislature’s attempt to grab power from local governments” via the Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board — Here comes the silly season, the one where state lawmakers try to micromanage the affairs of local governments. To kick things off, Sen. Rob Bradley, a North Florida Republican, has filed a bill that would halt Key West’s plans to prohibit the sale of certain sunscreens starting in 2021. The city doesn’t want to ban all sunscreen, just the kind that may contribute to the decline of coral reefs, a natural feature that draws tourists to the Florida Keys.

Florida’s hepatitis A outbreak prompts a door-to-door push to vaccinate” via Justine Griffin of the Tampa Bay Times — The white van with a Florida Department of Health logo on the side pulls into the Kenwood Inn along 34th Street N in St. Petersburg, and residents begin to peer out from their front doors. It’s the third time this year that health officials have come to the inn, which rents rooms by the hour or the month or anything in between. Many of its residents would otherwise be on the streets, said Rachel Ilic, an environmental epidemiologist with the health department. Some have been homeless before.

County to help return vote to ex-felons as Amendment 4 battle rages on in Tallahassee” via Abraham Mahshie of the Palm Beach Post — The fate of a controversial law to permit former felons to vote is being decided in Tallahassee, but Palm Beach County officials announced Thursday they are working within the framework of the law as it stands to help former felons find their pathway back to the voting booth. “We do not want people to be deprived of the right to vote because they cannot afford to pay their court costs and fees,” said Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg.


Charles Caulkins elected chair of Florida Chamber of Commerce” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Caulkins, a partner at employment law firm Fisher Phillips, replaces outgoing Chair Bob Grammig. He will serve a term that runs from Nov. 1, 2019, through Oct. 31, 2021. “Charles Caulkins is the right leader to help us unite Florida’s business community as it grows from the 17th largest economy in the world to the 10th,” Florida Chamber President and CEO Mark Wilson said. “Charles is a leader in his profession and among Florida’s business community, and he’s passionate about securing Florida’s future through free enterprise.” Caulkins will work alongside Wilson and business leaders to advocate for the Chamber’s agenda. He will also be responsible for developing a new six-year strategic plan.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Anita Berry, Johnston & Stewart Government Strategies: Florida Food Truck Association, Florida Occupational Therapy Association

Dean Cannon, Christopher Carmody, Mary McDougal, Kirk Pepper, Robert Stuart, GrayRobinson: City of Casselberry, City of Tallahassee, Hillsborough County Public Schools

Robert Hawken, Leath Consulting: The Magnolia School

Ron Pierce, Kaitlyn Bailey, Edward Briggs, Natalie King, RSA Consulting Group: Port Tampa Bay

Glenn Storch: Miami Corporation


Battleground Florida with Christopher Heath: With less than a year until the 2020 election, veteran political analyst Bradford Kane joins the pod to discuss his new book “Pitchfork Populism: Ten Political Forces That Shaped an Election and Continue to Change America.”

Dishonorable Mention: State Rep. Latvala, activist Becca Tieder, Tampa Bay Times Columnist Ernest Hooper, and communications expert Dr. Karla Mastracchio discuss politics and culture. Hosts welcome Laura Warren and Annie McKibben from the Junior League of Tampa to discuss the 5 W’s of the Holiday Gift Market. What is the Holiday Gift Market, what makes it so great, and what are some of the Junior League’s community partners?

Fluent in Floridian: Florida Rights Restoration Coalition President Desmond Meade led the efforts to pass Amendment 4 — one of the largest expansions of voting rights in Florida’s history. Listen to his conversation with SalterMitchell PR President Heidi Otway as they discuss his journey from felon to nationally recognized activist.

Gradebook from the Tampa Bay Times with hosts Marlene Sokol and Jeffrey Solochek: Florida’s government leaders have decided to prioritize increasing teacher pay in their next state budget. They also want to expand vouchers, bolster school security, improve early education funding, and raise per-student spending. They don’t want to raise taxes, either. Is the goal possible? State Rep. Latvala, chairman of the House PreK-12 Appropriations committee, talks with reporter Jeff Solochek about the moves under consideration to afford these many priorities.

Inside Florida Politics from GateHouse Florida with hosts John Kennedy and Zac Anderson: Florida voters cast ballots in municipal races around the state. Journalists Kennedy and Anderson discuss some of the Florida election results, a prominent state Supreme Court hearing on felon voting rights issue, and a new job for former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi.

REGULATED from hosts Christian Bax and Tony Glover: This week, a deep dive into the adult-use constitutional amendments that may appear on Florida’s 2020 ballot.

The Regulators with National Association of Insurance Commissioners CEO Mike Consedine: A Conversation with David Altmaier, NAIC vice president and Florida Office of Insurance Regulation Commissioner.


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 will hold a roundtable with Michael Van Sickler, government and politics editor for the Tampa Bay Times; Johnny Boykins, vice-chair of the Pinellas County Democrats; Tampa Bay Times reporter Zachary Sampson, and political consultant April Schiff.

In Focus with Allison Walker-Torres on Bay News 9: An examination of the progress made to help prevent veteran suicides. Joining Walker-Torres are state Rep. David Smith; Patricia Frederick, Suicide Prevention Coordinator, Bay Pines Veterans Affairs Healthcare System; Gregg Laskoksi, K9 Partners for Patriots; and Mary Frank, founder of K9 Partners for Patriots.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando and Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: This week’s show will feature an exclusive interview with Republican presidential candidate Bill Weld; PolitiFact Truth-O-Meter will rate a claim in an ad about Trump, taxes and Medicare. Host Al Ruechel will talk to state Sen. Janet Cruz.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Gary Yordon speaks with Valerie Green from the Developmental Disabilities Council.

This Week in South Florida on WPLG-Local10 News (ABC): Co-hosts Michael Putney and Glenna Milberg will speak with Agriculture Commissioner Fried.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: This week’s guests are Rear Adm. Gary Mayes, commander of the Navy Region Southeast; Dr. Michael Binder of the University of North Florida Public Opinion Research Lab and Roger McNamee, author of “Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe.”

— ALOE — 

Disney CEO Bob Iger defends Star Wars openings amid flat attendance” via Gabrielle Russon of the Orlando Sentinel — The opening of Disney’s $1 billion Star Wars lands did not generate blockbuster attendance numbers for the company, according to an earnings report released Thursday. Disney World saw an attendance increase while Disneyland’s attendance decreased, the company said without providing detailed figures. Some Disney fans are delaying vacations to California and Florida until Galaxy’s Edge is 100% completed, executives said in an explanation of the relatively flat numbers. Disney CEO Iger spoke out, defending his theme parks. “Those two lands have been far more successful than what’s been reported,” Iger said Thursday during an earnings call with investors. Guests are spending more on food, beverages and merchandise in the lands, and the guest satisfaction is “very, very high.”

Disney CEO Bob Iger is defending the $1 billion Star Wars lands amid mediocre attendance numbers.


Happy birthday to Leah Bickley and Emily Sitzberger. Happy early birthday to our friend Samantha Sexton.


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, Drew Dixon, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson, and Kelly Hayes.
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

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