Winner and Loser of the Week in Florida politics – Week of March 9

House Speaker Jose Oliva exits to praise, but a nasty little bug is messing up a lot of other things

Welcome to the real March madness.

Events are canceled left and right. The number of cases from that crummy little bug named Corona keeps increasing. The stock market is giving us whiplash, and now we can’t even escape the insanity by watching sports.

But while all the major sports leagues are shuttered, we at Florida Politics soldier on with our weekly excursion through the winners and losers in the political arena.

So, let’s get to this!


House Speaker Jose Oliva closes out his two-year leadership marked by legislative wins and a reputation for firmness and principled stances. Did I say he was firm? That may be an understatement. Oliva followed the lead of previous House Speaker Richard Corcoran by being a dominating and sometimes uncompromising figure.

When he wanted something done, it usually got accomplished. He leaves the House after achieving a significant victory in expanding the scope of advanced practice registered nurses and physician assistants, allowing them to practice without physician supervision. He acknowledged that he had worked on that legislation “for years.”

Honorable mention No. 1: Rick Scott. The former Governor and current U.S. Senator drew lofty praise this week from the National Review.

“If you follow national politics, you know Florida’s senior senator, Marco Rubio, as a man of innate mediagenic qualities and polished rhetorical skills. You may not know his junior colleague, Rick Scott, who was born without those qualities and never bothered to develop those skills,” writer Neal B. Freeman penned.

“Scott’s no show horse. He’s a man of real accomplishments, two of them salient to the current crisis.”

That would be Scott’s experience in handling an emergency, which we saw during multiple hurricanes. The other, Freeman said, is his knowledge of the health-care system. Freeman used those two traits to argue that Scott should lead the administration’s response to COVID-19.

Honorable mention No. 2: Leaders of the major sports leagues, organizations, and the NCAA deserve much credit for putting public safety above profits. By shutting down entirely during the coronavirus outbreak, their bottom lines take a collective hit, but it’s the right thing to do.

But now, we move to the other side of the week.


Florida’s economy. Tourists pump about $90 billion a year into the state, including nearly $12 billion in taxes. Between near-empty airplanes, canceled sports events and parades, docked cruise ships, and shuttered theme parks, including Disney World and Sea World, Florida’s service-oriented economy will take a beating.

The Miami Herald reported While the overall market fell 7% last Monday, cruise stocks plunged by 20% and more. Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings plummeted by 27%. And Miami-Dade is home to the world’s three largest public cruise holding companies.

Dishonorable mention No. 1: Andrew Gillum. Wow. When Miami Beach police responded to a distress call at a local hotel, the man who nearly became Florida’s Governor was on the scene.

According to police reports, there were “clear plastic baggies containing suspected crystal meth on both the bed and floor of the hotel room. They impounded three small baggies of suspected narcotics.

Gillum later issued a statement that said he didn’t use meth.

“I was in Miami last night for a wedding celebration when first responders were called to assist one of my friends,” Gillum said.

“While I had too much to drink, I want to be clear that I have never used methamphetamines. I apologize to the people of Florida for the distraction this has caused our movement. I’m thankful to the incredible Miami Beach EMS team for their efforts. I will spend the next few weeks with my family and appreciate privacy during this time.”

Gillum likely won’t face charges. However, um … not a good look.

Dishonorable mention No. 2: Each of us. The virus shattered our sense of normalcy. Many parents are in a bind after schools shut down for two weeks. Watching the stock market fluctuations can cause whiplash. Staples are flying off grocery shelves. Companies are encouraging employees to work remotely, if possible. March usually is a joyous month in Florida, but it’s just weird now. The cancellations disrupted the rhythm of life in our state.

But this, too, shall pass.

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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