Winner and Loser of the Week in Florida politics — Week of January 20

Say goodbye to Common Core. To some folks, that's a win.

If you were in downtown Tampa on a picture-postcard day Saturday, your ears might still be ringing from the blast of Gasparilla Day cannons. Or your head might be throbbing from an over-indulgence of pirate’s grog.

Never fear. At Florida Politics, we know how to make you feel better. It’s our weekly review of the winners and losers from Tallahassee and beyond.

To wit:


The three amigos: They may occasionally have different ideas on policy issues, but Tallahassee’s Big Three – Gov. Ron DeSantis, Senate President Bill Galvano, and House Speaker Jose Oliva – are working well together.

Check that; they are working as well as any Florida Governor, Prez, and Speaker have done in many moons. They have each other’s backs, which is not always the norm – even for members of the same party.

Example: Galvano wants some modest reforms in gun laws, particularly on expanded background checks and the so-called “gun show loophole.” DeSantis and Oliva aren’t yet on board with that idea.

It also brought a stern rebuke from the Grand Dame of Guns, Marion Hammer. Donald Trump, Jr. called Galvano a RINO – Republican In Name Only.

But that’s when DeSantis and Oliva quickly jumped to Galvano’s defense.

“I served with President Galvano for nine years, I think he’s served for a total of 16,” Oliva told the News Service of Florida. “There is one thing that President Galvano is not is a RINO.”

No oil drilling in the Everglades: DeSantis has shown some strong environmental chops during his year-plus in office. He is at it again.

DeSantis announced the state will spend $18 million to buy a 20,000-acre wetlands owned by Kanter Real Estate in what he described as “the heart of the Everglades.”

That will keep it away from oil speculators.

“One of my administration’s top environmental priorities has been expediting Everglades restoration,” DeSantis said.

“Today, we take another step in the right direction by reaching this agreement between DEP and Kanter Real Estate that will allow for the purchase of 20,000 acres of critical wetlands. This significant purchase will permanently save these lands from oil drilling.”


But in terms of political victories, the big winner is, without question …

 C.C. see ya: Haters gonna hate, and, boy, did those folks really, really, really hate Common Core.

Well, they won. Common Core has been ditched, consigned to the dustbin of education history in this state as Florida embarks, again, on a new approach in the classroom.

It will be replaced by something called the Benchmarks for Excellent Student Thinking – BEST, for short. That requires that children learn cursive, study the Constitution in grade school and other standards of literacy (including financial).

It promises to streamline testing, focus on the correct answer more than the process, and “outline pathway for Florida to become the most literate state in the nation.”

Somewhere, Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran is beaming – probably with his signature cigar (in this case, a victory smoke) and a glass of fine wine.


But … but … I LOVE Donald Trump!!! You can suck up to President Trump, bow and scrape at his feet, and defend him when logic says you shouldn’t. But make one small step off the reservation, and you end up like U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz.

Gaetz’s high crime was no misdemeanor in Trumpworld. He supported a Democrat-backed House resolution to halt U.S. military action against Iran unless Congress approved. That would limit Trump’s apparent belief he can declare war if he wakes up on the wrong side of the bed.

Gaetz said he felt strongly about the Constitution’s provision that only Congress can start a war – which it does. No matter. Gaetz was left off the Republican House team defending the President in his Senate impeachment trial.

Bad boy!

What’s next? Sent to bed with no dinner?

Let the sunshine in….not: Sen. Kelli Stargel of Lakeland (we think) is pushing a bill that would exempt identifying information, such as home addresses, about lawmakers and their families from the state’s sunshine laws.

As A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics reported, the bill’s language exempts “home addresses, telephone numbers, and dates of birth of current members of the Senate, members of the House of Representatives, and Cabinet officers; the names, home addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, and places of employment of the spouses and children of current legislators and Cabinet officers; and the names and locations of schools and daycare facilities attended by the children of current legislators and Cabinet officers.”


Stargel said the exemptions are necessary in this polarized atmosphere. But, having addresses readily available allows pesky reporters to check and see if a candidate actually lives in the district they want to represent.

Besides, what about the rest of us non-lawmaker citizens? After all, our addresses and other identifying information on government-run public sites such as property appraisers, so shouldn’t we get exemptions too?

If you’re keeping score, lawmakers have approved nearly 300 exemptions to the Sunshine Law since 1995.

As a wise person once said, that’s not winning.

But, for our biggest loser of the week, we turn to the musical “Hamilton” and offer, as Aaron Burr said there, “some free advice” to south Florida congressional candidate Laura Loomer.

Talk less (and no one cares if you smile more): Loomer, whose social media history tramples over the edge of bigotry, is backing an online anti-censorship bill by Republican Sen. Joe Gruters.

Sounds benign, right, because this nation values free speech. However, Loomer’s history could make one wonder.

For instance, Twitter and Facebook banned Loomer, and ride-share companies Uber and Lyft did as well.

Why is she banned?

Oh, let’s see.

After a terror attack in Manhattan killed eight people and injured 11, CNBC reported she tweeted: “Someone needs to create a non-Islamic form of @uber or @lyft because I never want to support another Islamic immigrant driver.”

The tweet is no longer on the site.

After six people died in the Florida International University bridge collapse in March 2018, she posed for photos near the site of the wreckage and wore a shirt that read, “Diversity Costs Lives.”

That was trumpeting a paranoid online theory that women exclusively designed the doomed bridge.

That’s a small sampling. Google will tell you lots more.

Talk less. Much less.


Joe Henderson

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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