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Here’s Brunch, a pop-up, weekend email during the 2020 Legislative Session — 1.26.20

A brunch buffet’s worth of real-time reporting during Session.

Welcome back to Brunch, the pop-up email newsletter served to you during the 2020 Legislative Session.

Do your best to make this is a leisurely Sunday. With the Democratic presidential primary shifting into high gear, the meat of the Legislative Session approaching, and the Super Bowl set for next Sunday, this might be your last chance for a breather.

🍹— Looking for a fun way to spice up your Bloody Mary? Try the recipe for the Shogun Mary at the Osaka St. Regis. I know, I know, you probably don’t yuzu lying around, but soy sauce as a substitute for Worcestershire sauce is so smart. And sipping your Bloody Mary up from a martini glass is tres chic … like Nicole Hagerty level classy.

You can enjoy the Shogun Mary at the Osaka St. Regis. Or mix one up for yourself.

🏈 — The NFL Pro Bowl kicks-off at 3 p.m. on ABC and ESPN. Although the game has become an afterthought, the Pro Bowl has a rich history.

🎵— With the ouster of recently-appointed Recording Academy chief Deborah Dugan all over the news, the 62nd annual Grammy Awards kicks off at 8 p.m. on CBS.

If you must read something political today, check out Steve Pearlstein‘s cover story for The Washington Post’s Sunday Business section. He warns that “Americans should understand that there will be a significant, long-term economic cost to our polarized politics and dysfunctional government. … In the modern era, there are few if any examples of a country with a healthy, thriving economy and a broken political system. What distinguishes a successful economy from a failing one — what distinguishes Denmark from Italy and South Korea from North — is … the laws, rules, norms and policies that create the framework in which any economy operates.”


What do you make small talk about with the President of the United States? Joe Gruters picked up old pal Donald Trump at the airport and shares these bites of conversation:

— Florida love: “He’s just very high about Florida overall,” Gruters. “His excitement and enthusiasm for the state overall are contagious.”

How do you make small talk with the POTUS? Ask Joe Gruters. Image via Twitter.

— Downballot focus: “We met with Carlos Giménez, who’s running for Congress. “He talked about how lucky we are to have a candidate as strong as him run,” Gruters recalled.

No Gubernatorial regrets: “As a result of Gov. [Ron] DeSantis’ popularity and the $3.5 million raised at the Statesman’s Dinner, we are firing on all cylinders,” Gruters said.


The Mike Bloomberg 2020 campaign is hosting a kickoff event today to launch “United for Mike,” a nationwide outreach effort to rally support among Jewish Americans across the country in support of the former New York City Mayor’s commitment to rebuild America and defeat Trump.

Showing off supporters. During the event, supporters who share in Bloomberg’s vision for the country will join the Democratic presidential candidate to hear more about his priorities for the nation. 

Mike Bloomberg launches ‘United for Mike’ initiative in Miami. 

One in a series. Earlier in January, Bloomberg 2020 launched “Women for Mike” in New York City and “Veterans and Military Families for Mike” in Fayetteville, North Carolina. 

No more years. “Florida cannot afford another four years of Donald Trump, and Mike Bloomberg is the best candidate to defeat him in November,” the campaign said in a statement. “Mike has a proven record of tackling some of Florida’s most pressing issues — climate change, gun violence prevention, and affordable health care. His commitment to these issues makes him the most qualified person in the race.”

The event begins at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center and Tauber Academy Social Hall, 20400 NE 30th Avenue, Miami. Doors open at 3:30 p.m.


Bloomberg‘s campaign is expanding its Florida operation.

Bloomberg is hiring Reggie Cardozo to serve as a Florida Senior Advisor. Cardozo is a former Senior Advisor to Florida House Victory. He also served as a State Director for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign in 2016.

Reggie Cardozo is jumping on the Mike Bloomberg bandwagon.

“Florida cannot afford another four years of Donald Trump, and Mike Bloomberg is the best candidate to defeat him in November,” Cardozo said in a statement on the new gig. “Mike has a proven record of tackling some of Florida’s most pressing issues — climate change, gun violence prevention, and affordable health care. His commitment to these issues makes him the most qualified person in the race. I am proud to be a part of his team in Florida that will lay the groundwork for success.”

The campaign is also adding Ron Bilbao as Deputy State Director, Caroline Rowland as Communications Director, Brandon Philipczyk as Operations Manager and Maria Bilbao as Digital Director.

Bloomberg’s Florida State Director Scott Kosanovich also added a statement praising the hire. “We are incredibly lucky to have these experienced and talented Florida strategists on our team as we invest and build the infrastructure needed to defeat President Donald Trump and elect Mike Bloomberg President of the United States,” Kosanovich said.


VISIT FLORIDA faces an uncertain future, and CEO Dana Young is focused on forging a path forward for as state tourism agency again fights for its life.

Top priority: The immediate concern is getting reauthorization from the Legislature. As it stands, VISIT FLORIDA will go dark on July 1. The preferred bill would extend the sunset by eight-years. The reauthorization push comes after lawmakers cut VISIT FLORIDA to $50 million last year, a reduction of more than a third.

VISIT FLORIDA CEO Dana Young is determined to keep her agency alive and viable.

Convincing the House: House Speaker José Oliva has been clear about wanting to shutter the agency and Young has been trying to convince members of the House that that’s a rash decision. She says: “I do know that I talk on a regular basis with House members presenting our case. We just take it day by day and continue to provide the data that supports our existence and the great work that we do. I think when you’re honest with people and you provide them the resources they need, that things typically just take care of themselves?”

Bargaining chip: Asked whether VISIT FLORIDA funding could be a late-Session trade-off, perhaps in exchange for the Speaker-backed APRN bill, she didn’t speculate. “You know what, I’m not in the legislative process anymore, so I’m not going to prognosticate on any of that. I’ll just be happy when we are reauthorized and appropriately funded, at $50M or more. The Senate President yesterday in his remarks at Tourism Day said VISIT FLORIDA will be funded.”

The cuts have taken their toll — Layoffs, more modest ad campaigns and even an end to free orange juice at welcome centers. “If VISIT FLORIDA is not reauthorized, then the welcome centers will all close. It’s an unfortunate fact, but it’s reality. When you see the public outcry over the lack of funding for free orange juice, imagine the public outcry if the visitors’ centers are all closed if VISIT FLORIDA is not reauthorized.


The Republican Liberty Caucus of Florida took a chance to have fun with Republican state Sen. Tom Lee at its 2020 Liberty Lobby Days in Tallahassee, held on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Who are they? The RLC is a coalition of constitutional conservatives and libertarian Republicans working within the Party to “promote individual liberty, limited government, free enterprise and state and national sovereignty.” Their goal is “liberty” and its mission is “crucial to the success of the country.”

Tom Lee gets ‘honored’ for his support of bill closing the ‘gun show loophole.’

— Not-so-honored guest. The highlight of the event, RLC National Chairman Matthew Daniel Nye and RLC Florida Chair Bob White presented Lee with a “Hall of Shame” certificate — blasting him for authoring and pushing the gun-control legislation SB 7028 through committee. The broad legislation closes a “gun show loophole” by requiring background checks and a three-day waiting period for firearms sold “on property to which the public has the right of access,” such as “a flea market, a gun show, or a firearm exhibit.”

Other meet and greets. Other (more favorable) meetings during the two-day event: The Governor’s Chief Policy Director Chris Spencer; state Sens. Rob Bradley and Debbie Mayfield; state Reps. Cord Byrd, Byron Donalds, Dane Eagle, Stan McClain, Anthony Sabatini and David Smith and the Miami Herald’s Mary Ellen Klas.

Objectives met. According to the group: “We conveyed the message of liberty through the bills that we either supported or opposed and we push back hard against those who would infringe on our 2nd Amendment rights.”


Katie Strickland worked her final day as Director of Communications for the Department of Financial Services under Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis Friday. She starts Monday in her new role as Director of Communications for the Agency for Health Care Administration.


The American Federation for Children is out with its 6th Annual National School Choice Poll, and the findings could serve as a glimpse into the school choice battles of the future.

School choice is popular: 69% of voters say they support school choice. The concept is especially popular among Millennials, 71% of whom back it, and a large majority of black voters, 68%, are also fans.

Scholarships a hit: More than three-quarters of voters said they were in favor of the Education Freedom Scholarship, a federal scholarship tax credit that allows individuals and businesses to donate to in-state nonprofit scholarship that helps students attend public, private, or career and technical schools. The idea went from 69% support to 78% year-over-year.

Anti-choice is a loser: In addition to the high popularity, voters have placed a lot importance on school choice, so much so that presidential candidates who speak out on charter schools can expect their campaigns to flatline. 56% of Democrats and 59% of Republicans said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate who attacked charters.

The full polling memo is available online.


Some key dates you should put in your planners:

— The For-Eye Foundation, the charitable arm of the Florida Society of Ophthalmology, will be raising awareness on Amblyopia, more commonly known as “lazy eye,” at the Capitol on Tuesday. From 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., ophthalmologists will be providing free vision screenings for children on the 2nd Floor Rotunda. The foundation will also have a table set up where passerby can learn more about the resolution to designate August as Amblyopia Awareness month.

For Eyes is hoping to expand eye care services to more Florida kids.

— Former Rep. Jason Brodeur is holding a fundraiser for his Senate campaign in Orange City on Tuesday night. The reception is slated for 5 p.m. at Blue Springs Brewery, 1070 S. Volusia Ave. The Sanford Republican says the first round is on him.

— The Pace Center for Girls are putting on “Pace Day at the Capitol” Wednesday. The festivities kick off with a press conference on the 22nd Floor of the Capitol. Attorney General Ashley Moody, DJJ Secretary Simone Marstiller, Pace Founder Vicki Burke and Pace girls from across the state are expected to speak. It begins at 11:45 a.m.

— The Catholic bishops of Florida will host the 45th Annual Red Mass on Wednesday at the Co-Cathedral of St. Thomas More. The event will see mass participants will pray for divine inspiration and guidance for Florida politicians. It starts at 6 p.m. A reception will follow.


Helping homeless animals — It’s time again for the Sixth Annual Red Dog Blue Dog Celebrity Bartender Event, where people from both sides of the aisle come together to raise money for animal shelter budgets in the Tallahassee area.

High-profile bartenders will be mixing things up for charity, in teams split by political party.

Time again to drink for a good cause — helping homeless animals.

Team Red is comprised of Republicans: VISIT FLORIDA CEO Dana Young, State Sen. Joe Gruters, state Reps. Colleen Burton and Alex Andrade.

Team Blue (Democrats) is Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz, state Sens. Gary Farmer and Jason Pizzo, and state Rep. Tracie Davis.

Drink specials: Commemorative pint glass, filled with any draft beer ($10); Das mule — red dog special ($8); “Gaarden party” with curaçao — Blue Dog special ($8). Signature shotskis: Washington apple “red” shot ($12); Lemon drop with curaçao “blue” shot ($12).

Be responsible. Special thanks to Uber for providing discounted rides to and from the event.

All proceeds, including bar tips, will benefit the Animal Shelter Foundation, the Leon County Humane Society, and Last Hope Rescue. Make checks to Animal Shelter Foundation, and all proceeds will be split after the event.

The event starts Tuesday 6 p.m. at Township, 619 S. Woodward Ave. in Tallahassee. Can’t make it in person? Make your tax-deductible donation online at reddogbluedog.org or securely PayPal.


After kicking off the tour for his latest book, “Running Against The Devil,” in megalopolises to the west, Republican strategist Rick Wilson — one of the nation’s best known Never Trumpers — got a hometown welcome Thursday night when he appeared for a book signing at Tallahassee’s Midtown Reader. (A bookstore owned, we might add, by his Jeb Bush comrade-in-arms Sally Bradshaw.)

Now No. 4 on The New York Times bestseller list, #RATD is a no-holds-barred guidebook to exactly what Democrats need to do to defeat Donald Trump in the 2020 election.

Rick Wilson makes his triumphant return to Tallahassee’s Midtown Reader. Image via Instagram/Rick Wilson.

Based on observation, headshaking and questions, the standing-room-only crowd of about 150 was primarily comprised of white Democratic Baby Boomers who heard Wilson opine that Michelle Obama is perhaps the only person who can get away with the “When they go low, we go high” philosophy — and they should prepare for an electoral knife fight.

— Bona fides: “For 30 years in this business, I’ve been one of the guys who helped build this mechanism that Republicans used very effectively to win seats across the country in places we shouldn’t. I helped elect a Republican governor in Vermont four times — at the same time they’re electing Bernie Sanders over and over again.

“We built these tricks, we built these ideas in places where we pursue them with ruthless campaign efficiency. We never thought for a moment about the ideology. We just went out to win.”

— About the Lincoln Project: “Myself, Steve Schmidt, George Conway, Reed Galen and John Weaver have been around the block a couple times on campaigns and advocacy work in this country and we have a certain set of skills. Those skills have led all of us who strongly opposed Donald Trump to a little Rubicon where all of us recognize we can’t in good faith just sit here and complain, we have to go out and raise some money and start taking out Trump’s associates and start taking out the people who enable him and to raise the political cost of kissing Trump’s ass.

“Right now Cory Gardner is losing his mind because we’re running ads against him. Susan Collins is so angry she’s threatened to sue us because we have an ad out.

We’re just getting started. In the space of a month, we’ve signed up 88,000 people. We’ve raised a million dollars in under-$250 contributions. We’re on track to raise about a million more in small dollars and the large money (is) out there on the sidelines. We’re people who do not bother with being nice. We’re gonna go in and we’re gonna cut throats.

“While we know the hill to get Donald Trump out of office is very high, we’re going to break his coalition, we’re going to break the people that support him, we’re going to do everything we can to weaken all the structures around him.”

— Trump debate fight club: “The debates are vital …. When Trump is on the debate stage, he’s got one skill. He’s a showman, he’s an entertainer. He understands spectacle. He knows where every camera angle is …. Whoever the Democratic nominee is they’ve got to expect that Trump is going to play his games on stage and he’s going to lie. They cannot be fact-checkers, they’ve got to call bullshit on him. Whoever the Democratic nominee is, they better be ready to fight. Once you fight with Trump, you have got to never stop. You can never let up because he never will. He’s a douchebag Terminator.”

On Klobuchar: “I think Amy Klobuchar is absolutely charming. She’s got a scrappy nature to her and she carries a shiv — and I like that about her. I saw her … last year during that whole little bubble of stories about her being mean to her staff. I said you should just go ahead and own it outright. You should just tell people. ‘I’m a bitch and I’m gonna be a bitch for America.’ She’s punching way above her weight. If the Democrats don’t have her on some part of this ticket, they’re fools.”


Airbnb is preparing for the Feb. 2 Super Bowl in Miami by launching a specialized customer support team and facilitating orders for noise detection devices at a discounted rate and with free expedited shipping to South Florida hosts. This will help prevent unauthorized parties (a significant issue of late) ahead of the Big Game.

Hurry, some rooms available. Many fans are still finding safe, affordable options with Airbnb hosts throughout the area. Currently, 25% of Airbnb listings in Miami-Dade County and Broward County are still available for the week of Jan. 27, down from 35% availability as of last Monday morning. 

Airbnb rooms are moving fast in Miami ahead of Super Bowl LIV.

Other tips for maximizing the Airbnb experience:

— No ambiguity. Listing descriptions should be accurate and focus on the unique offerings of the property. Even minute details like the number of flights of stairs to the front door can help make sure guests enjoy the stay. Outlining quiet hours will be particularly important, as many guests will be attending the game and other events during the week — returning later. Hosts should be very clear on rules regarding parties and disclose noise detection devices in their House Rules.

— Become familiar with guests. Airbnb offers a secure messaging tool to give hosts the chance to get to know guests. They can answer or ask any questions that come up before or during the trip. Messaging can also help to coordinate details, like check-in or local recommendations.

— If something ain’t right. The Airbnb team is available 24/7 (and in 11 languages!) to assist both hosts and guests — and are ready and waiting to provide assistance.

They guarantee it. If there is a problem or concern, Airbnb is prepared to provide support to make things right: rebooking assistance, refunds, reimbursements, a $1 million USD Host Guarantee, and Host Protection Insurance.

— Become an ambassador for South Florida. For many visitors, it will be their first visit to South Florida, which makes this event an opportunity for a lasting economic impact by encouraging visitors to come back repeatedly. Hosts are key, and Airbnb encourages them to provide “amazing — and safe — experiences” that will have guests already planning their return trip. 

Airbnb will be releasing new economic impact data this week, to quantify the benefits of home-sharing during the Super Bowl.


Beans at Betton is a casual but classy cousin to Food Glorious Food, which is a quick drive from the Capitol. Beans is a coffee shop/restaurant open for breakfast and lunch and as a late-afternoon happy hour stop. It’s on the top floor of the upscale FGF, owned by executive chef Kevin Stout and Susan Turner.

Beans at Betton offers delicious French toast made with thick-cut brioche bread. Image via Rochelle Ward.

— Setting: The small, relaxing cafe is cozy with wood floors and a gleaming bar, with a display case filled with tempting homemade cakes and pastries. You can sit at the bar, a communal table or at a few small tables and cushioned seating.

— The menu: Highlights include fried chicken and waffles and French toast made with thick-cut brioche bread, biscuits with andouille sausage gravy, Cuban frittatas, huevos ranchero and avocado toast topped with a poached egg. If you’re of a dessert first mentality, pair a slice of chocolate cake with a cappuccino made with Lucky Goat coffee.

— The hours: Beans at Betton is open Tuesday through Saturday for breakfast from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and happy hour from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.

The deets:

Hours: Open 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily.

GPS: 1950 Thomasville Road.

Digits: 850-224-7279

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

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

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson.
Email: Peter@FloridaPolitics.com
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

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