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Winner and Loser of the Week in Florida politics — Week of December 9

Time to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

We at Florida Politics know you are watching the melodrama on Capitol Hill, likely with equal parts of disgust and bemusement. For political theater, the process has few rivals.

However, stuff is going on within the borders of the best state in the nation, and that has a more immediate impact on our lives. So, let’s get to it with another installment of “Winners and Losers.”

Winners

Ted Yoho: He may have hemmed, hawed, and dithered a bit before deciding to retire from Congress when his fourth term ends in January 2021, but the CD-3 Florida Republican kept his promise. He said back in 2012, he believed in term limits and would serve eight years at the maximum.

Val Demings: Her profile keeps rising, and she earned a lot of new attention for her work during the impeachment. Demmings, an Orlando Democrat representing CD-10, was sharp and focused during hearings last week, and then earned headlines for calling out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Citing Senate rules, Demings demanded McConnell recuse himself from the impeachment trial because of statements he made to Sean Hannity on Fox.

McConnell admitted he is coordinating strategy with the White House, which could violate the oath on impeachment all senators take. It says, “I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws: So help me God.”

Oops.

Aw, but for the biggest winner of the week, how can we top what Casey DeSantis is doing?

She is crisscrossing the state, using her pulpit as Florida’s First Lady to push awareness of mental health issues, promote drug treatment for those who need it, and a program to help kids avoid using drugs in the first place.

She also found time to focus on the issue of high rates of suicide for youth and first responders.

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Oh, and in September, she announced she is pregnant with her third child.

I’m thinking a starring role in the next sequel to Wonder Woman could be in her future.

Losers

Apalachicola oysters: You know all that climate-change stuff deniers mock and say is a hoax? Well, let’s ask those who harvest oysters in Apalachicola Bay, along with the scientists who went to school and actually studied the environment. They say the water is becoming too warm and salty for oysters to survive, and that the industry itself is at risk.

Matt Gaetz: As Annie Savoy memorably said in the movie Bull Durham, “The world is made for people who aren’t cursed with self-awareness.” We switch now to the aforementioned impeachment hearings in Washington and recall how Gaetz, the oh-so-Florida man who represents the 1st Congressional District, brought up Hunter Biden’s substance abuse issues.

That prompted Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia to remind the room of Gaetz’s 2008 arrest for DUI, adding, “The pot calling the kettle black is not something that we should do.”

By the way, what does Hunter Biden have to do with the alleged misconduct by President Donald Trump? Asking for a friend.

Matt, you were neck-and-neck for the biggest loser of the week, but that dubious honor goes to …

The affordable housing/Sadowski trust fund: Despite support from popular Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis to fully fund that program, GOP House lawmakers are considering sweeping $125 million of the $350 million originally earmarked for the program to other priorities.

They might need a bigger broom for that kind of sweep as it represents about 39 percent of the proposed budget.

House Appropriations Chairman Travis Cummings said it’s all part of crafting a responsible budget.

According to a Florida Housing Coalition report, 921,928 low-income households spend more than half of what they earn on housing.

By the way, financial disclosures at the end of 2018 showed Cummings has a net worth of approximately $3.618 million, with a $1.375 million pad in Fleming Island.

Written By

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.

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