Winner and Loser of the Week in Florida politics – Week of February 2

Great week for Donald Trump, but not so much for Joe Biden supporters.

It’s our job here at Florida Politics to keep tabs on state lawmakers and to give credit where it’s due and scorn when it’s merited.

With that in mind, let’s get right to the exercise we like to call the week’s Winners and Losers.


Mom, dad … we need to talk: Nothing better illustrates the divide between political parties than the topic of abortion. The mere mention of the word can cause tempers to flare and fists to clinch.

With that in mind, Lakeland Republican Sen. Kelli Stargel had to know that getting her parental notification bill through the Senate was going to be a gargantuan task, even with her party holding a solid majority. It requires parental consent if their minor children seek an abortion.

As expected, it sparked a contentious debate on the Senate floor.

That’s a huge win for those who see this issue from her perspective. The bill advanced to the House, and no one will be surprised if it passes there.

One question: While Stargel and supporters are celebrating this win, what safety nets do they have in mind to help support the child after it’s born?

Speaking of winners, though…

Take a deep breath, everyone: Emotions were raw after the bombshell Orlando Sentinel report concerning the school voucher program. The Sentinel revealed that at least 156 private Christian schools with anti-LGBTQ policies received millions in taxpayer-funded vouchers.

That prompted a furious backlash as Fifth Third Bank and other companies stopped corporate support for the program.

But then state Reps Anna Eskamani, Carlos G. Smith, and Shevrin Jones helped turn down the heat. The first two started the much-needed debate/soul searching about tax credit scholarship being used at discriminatory schools but were then accused of trying to completely torpedo the voucher program.

That’s when Jones, who is openly gay, played peacemaker.

Someone has to be there to be the moderator, hopefully, to bring both sides together and bring what’s best for kids,” Jones said.

He pleaded for the companies to continue supporting vouchers. Not long after that, Fifth Third said it will resume its $5 million annual contribution to the program. There will be more discussion and reviews of how the voucher program is being handled, but for now it’s a win for the schools and three lawmakers who helped moderate a tense situation.

But the biggest winner is one of Florida’s newest residents.

Sure, acquittal was a foregone conclusion: But dodging removal from office still represents a massive victory for President Donald Trump. He turned the State of the Union address into a “yay ME” Trumpfest.

Oh, there was that thing with Sen. Mitt Romney, and it drove Trump up a wall. The man demands absolute obedience from the serfs – er, Republican senators. And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi showed him up by ripping her copy of his SOTU speech in half.

But, the Democrats’ flop in Iowa gave him Twitter fodder that could last for months. And he won a big court victory when a three-judge panel in the U.S. Court of Appeals threw out a lawsuit from Democratic lawmakers challenging his business dealings.

Also, his approval rating had its best showing, climbing to 49 percent.

In all, it might have been the most personally successful week of Trump’s presidency.

But for every winner, there must a loser. So, here we go.


Wait, what? Football season is over, right? Football widows may have thought/hoped they were free until next September following last week’s Super Bowl.

But no.

The new eight-team XFL kicked off Saturday, and Florida’s entry – the Tampa Bay Vipers – plays its inaugural game Sunday at New York. They will play a 10-game schedule and hope to land a playoff spot.

Ron DeSantis’ pen: The Governor may need to use his pen things like crossword puzzles, doodling, or writing notes. Lawmakers aren’t making him use it to sign legislation because, as of now, they haven’t passed a single bill!

What’s more, they don’t appear to be in a hurry to do so. This Session may set a record set the fewest amount of bills.

That’s bad. But there can only be one biggest loser. And that would be:

Joe Biden backers in Florida: He flopped in Iowa, calling it a “gut punch.” He could be headed for a fourth-place finish in New Hampshire. He is running short of money, which could leave him vulnerable to Mike Bloomberg, the human ATM, on Super Tuesday.

Unless some good things start happening soon for the man who was the presumed Democrat’s best hope to defeat You Know Who in November, it’s possible his campaign won’t make it to the March 17 Florida primary.

Biden leads every Florida poll by a comfortable margin, but Bloomberg is playing hardball. Politico reported Bloomberg has spent $30 million on Florida TV spots so far, and that forces Biden to play defense in a state that at one time looked like a walk in the park for him.

That could hurt him in the other states before he even gets to Florida.

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.


  • tim russell

    February 9, 2020 at 6:32 am

    Bloomberg WILL make trump a loser.

  • Navel Gazer

    February 10, 2020 at 8:25 am

    I know this is a free website, delivering good news at impressive speed, so I don’t expect rigorous proofreading.

    But there’s one recurring typo that gets me twitchy… “fewest NUMBER”, not fewest amount. Thanks and keep up the great work.

  • nk

    February 10, 2020 at 9:24 am

    Joe Henderson is OBVIOUSLY a non-partisan reporter!! There is ABSOLUTELY NO justification for Pelosi’s “poor form”, and I’m being generous, in the people’s House of Representatives!
    I’m so tired of opinion pieces. I miss the days when the liberal hack media at lease tried to appear neutral and objective!! (Pre-Nixon maybe?)

Comments are closed.


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