Here’s Brunch, a pop-up, weekend email about the last month of Florida’s primary elections — 7.26.20

Cafe brunch background
A brunch buffet’s worth of real-time reporting.

Good Sunday morning.

Brunch is popping up for the next four Sundays before Florida’s primary elections. This email will focus mainly on the more than 100 races the staff of Florida Politics is tracking, along with other tidbits of news that can’t wait until Monday’s edition of Sunburn. If you have any feedback — or would like to advertise to our more than 19,000 opt-ed in subscribers — please email me at [email protected].

✊🏿 Happening now — The body of U.S. Rep. John Lewis is being carried on a ‘lone pilgrimage’ across the bridge in Selma where, at age 25, he was beaten by an Alabama state trooper as he fought for civil rights in 1965. You can watch a stream of the event from The Washington Post here.

😥 Rest In PeaceRegis Philbin, the legendary television host, dies at 88.

😥 Another sad passing — Ben Hill Griffin III, a leader in citrus and ranching, dies at 78.

👶 Welcome to the world:

🏆 Here are the Winner and Loser of the Week in Florida politics.

🏟️ Sports are back! MLB: Yankees at Nationals (1 p.m., TBS); Braves at Mets (7 p.m., ESPN); Giants at Dodgers (10 p.m., ESPN). Plus 12 more games; NBA scrimmages: 76ers vs. Thunder (12 p.m.); Suns vs. Celtics (1:30 p.m.); Pacers vs. Mavericks (4 p.m.); Blazers vs. Raptors (6 p.m.); Rockets vs. Grizzlies (8 p.m.); WNBA: Sun vs. Lynx (12 p.m., ESPN); Sky vs. Aces (3 p.m., ABC)

Coronavirus numbers

Positive cases:

— 414,511 residents (+17,041 since Friday)

— 4,926 Non-FL residents (+84 since Friday)


— 3,357 Travel related

— 106,751 Contact with a confirmed case

— 3,327 Both

— 275,819 Under investigation


— 23,730 in FL


— 5,777 in FL

Florida flip

There are 100 days to go until the election, and Florida (as always) is one of the biggest prizes on the map.

Florida went for Donald Trump by a hair four years ago, and pundits and oddsmakers say he’ll need to hang on to the state to keep his hope of four more years alive.

The trend line isn’t working in his favor, though, and it’ll keep getting worse for POTUS every as long as the state is contending for “epicenter of the pandemic.”

Donald Trump needs to hang on to win Florida in 2020.

The Cook Political Report said the stats are gloomy enough that Trump is officially playing from behind in the Sunshine State by moving Florida from the “tossup” column to “leans Democratic.”

They aren’t the only doubters. Quinnipiac University’s most recent poll puts Joe Biden up 13 points in Florida. The line is hard to believe given Florida’s swing-state status, but compared to Clinton’s 3-point polling lead in July 2016, it’s bad news for Team MAGA.

No matter how you slice it, Trump’s road to reelection runs through Florida. As of now, with case numbers surging, hospitals nearing capacity and the Governor’s heretofore stellar poll numbers wilting … the state is starting to slip through his fingers.

>>>Florida GOP chairman Joe Gruters penned an op-ed exclusively for Florida Politics in which he makes the case for why Trump will win Florida. Read it here.

Magic City

Joe Biden is coming to Miami. Virtually, that is. The former Vice President and presumptive 2020 Democratic presidential nominee will headline the Miami-Dade Democratic Party’s annual Blue Gala at the end of July.

— That event will run from July 29-30 and will also feature Democratic leaders in the state, such as Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, U.S. Rep. Donna Shalala of Florida’s 27th Congressional District and House Democratic Leader Kionne McGhee.

Joe Biden is coming to Miami; virtually, that is.

— Biden will speak Thursday night, according to a schedule released by the Miami-Dade Dems. The entire event will be virtual. Speeches will begin at 7 p.m. each night.

— Thursday’s schedule also includes a forum featuring Miami-Dade County mayoral candidates Daniella Levine Cava and Alex Penelas. That forum will begin at 6:20 p.m. and will lead to the slate of speeches for the night.

— “COVID-19 has changed the face of campaigning and fundraising, but it has also created a new level of importance for county and state elections, as many residents struggle with basic needs and the insufficient response to the crisis,” said Miami-Dade Democratic Party Chair. Steve Simeonidis. “We hope to provide a platform for some of our local leaders and endorsed candidates to connect with supporters.”

— The party will stream the event on Facebook Live. Miami Beach Commissioner David Richardson — a former State Representative — will chair the event.

>>>Biden’s presidential campaign is holding a virtual fundraiser Sunday at 8 p.m. The event invite is stocked with celebrities and national politicians — Kristin Chenoweth, Hillary Clinton, Andy Cohen, Dave Matthews and Barbra Streisand are among the dozens slated to appear. The campaign suggests a $15 donation to attend.

Air Support 

Ross Spano is shedding GOP support in his bid for a second term in Florida’s 15th Congressional District.

Spano has avoided consequences for using a pair of illegal campaign loans to boost his campaign in the 2018 primary election. The DOJ is investigating, but intraparty attacks have been scarce since his swearing-in.

Not anymore. With oddsmakers putting the once deep-red district in play, Republicans are fleeing from Spano’s corner and lining up behind primary challenger and Navy veteran Scott Franklin.

Ross Spano is shedding GOP support in his reelection bid.

WingmanPAC fired a shot across the bow with a new ad saying the loans (and resulting DOJ investigation) make Spano too radioactive to reelect.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

It’s lean times for Spano’s campaign. Finance reports show him saddled with debt, some of it related to the shady loans, leaving him with few resources to push a counternarrative.

It’s a coup for Franklin. The hit doesn’t mention him, but it’s still another arrow in his quiver. And it comes shortly after he picked up a nod from influential Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, who touted him as a “real conservative” that voters can trust.

Crist 💓 Biden

During an official campaign kickoff Saturday held online amid a growing pandemic, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist touted his election as ancillary to another, perhaps even more crucial race for the presidency.

— “Take everything seriously”: Florida’s 13th Congressional District is reliably blue, but Crist faces a field of five Republicans running for the GOP nomination to take him out. Crist plans to fight as if he’s running against George Washington or Abraham Lincoln.

Charlie Crist is taking nothing for granted as he runs for re-election. Image via CQ Roll Call.

— “Most important election in recent history”: Crist’s race is not just about him. It’s also a referendum on President Donald Trump and his divisive White House. Crist is hoping for down-ballot support for anti-Trump voters, but he’s also calling on his supporters to support former Vice President Joe Biden at the top of the ticket.

Broad support: Pinellas County Commissioners Ken Welch and Janet Long and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman are putting in hard work as campaign surrogates to ensure Crist isn’t taken out Nov. 3. “Even though we cannot lean on executive leadership in the Oval Office and Tallahassee, know that we were lucky to have a leader in Washington that was fighting for the city,” Kriseman said.

Not your daddy’s reelection: Like much of politics, Crist’s campaign has been dumped on its head, unable to participate in the hard-core politicking that comes with more traditional campaigning. Instead, the campaign focuses on voter outreach that includes wellness checks and helping those struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic, including economic hardship, to find the resources they need to survive. The campaign is calling on supporters to sign up for phone and text banking and outreach events providing resources to constituents.


Former Rep. Irv Slosberg is helping Palm Beach County residents mask up as he pursues a seat in the Florida Senate.

— Slosberg dipped into his Senate District 29 campaign fund to spend more than $35,000 on masks shipped to voters throughout the county. The campaign partnered with local company WM Printing to create those face coverings.

— The idea spawned off Slosberg’s campaign calls to make masks mandatory statewide, according to a Slosberg spokesperson. The campaign heard from constituents hesitant about such a mandate, with some wondering how they would find or pay for those masks. That’s when Slosberg came up with the idea to mail the masks directly.

Irv Slosberg wants Palm Beach County residents to mask up.

— The team targeted older voters within the district who may be most vulnerable to the virus. The campaign has sent out at least 30,000 masks so far and plans to send more.

The masks adorn Slosberg’s campaign logo as he battles Rep. Tina Polsky for the Democratic nomination in SD 29. Republican candidate Brian Andrew Norton has also qualified. All three are competing for the seat currently held by Sen. Kevin Rader, who declined to seek reelection.

— Slosberg is mostly paying for those masks with his own cash. Slosberg has raised only about $22,000 in outside cash through July 10 while pouring in $510,000 of his own money.

Panhandle polling

When Rep. Mel Ponder announced he wouldn’t run for another term, Republican hopefuls flocked to file for HD 4.

It’s a four-way race, on paper at least, with Sandra Atkinson, Jeff Hinkle, Patt Maney and Jonathan Tallman making the ballot for the Okaloosa County seat.

The money is flowing. Hinkle and Maney have amassed six-figures in their campaign accounts — Hinkle with loans and Maney the hard way. Tallman also boasts a respectable $90K raised.

When Mel Ponder decided to forgo another run, Republicans lined up for a shot at his House seat.

Polling is scant, but it exists. A recent poll forwarded to Florida Politics by a trusted source shows Maney out in front with 29% support among Republican primary voters, followed by Tallman at 12%. The numbers jibe with internals shared by other sources in recent weeks.

There’s some wiggle room. Like most packed primaries, “undecided” is still king of the hill, with 40% of GOP voters unsure who they’ll pick on Aug. 18.

It’s Maney’s race for now. Even a plurality is almost inevitable; it would take a seismic shake-up for another candidate to woo enough undecideds to make it close. No matter who wins in August, the general will be a cakewalk in the heavily Republican district.

Chamber choices

The Florida Chamber of Commerce unleashed a volley of endorsements for state House races this week, and 57 incumbents made the cut.

Most of them were expected. As Chamber President Mark Wilson said, the group “has a long-standing reputation of endorsing incumbent candidates who continue to drive sound policy for Florida business that make Florida more competitive.”

Still, some were notable. Incumbency is an indisputable advantage, but a few lawmakers are running who are on the fence for reelection and needed the win.

Florida Chamber President Mark Wilson helped release a volley of endorsements.

For the competitive primaries, the Chamber recommended Rep. Kim Daniels over establishment-backed Democrat Angie Nixon in HD 14. It also gave Republican Rep. Danny Perez the nod over Gabriel Garcia, in the ego-fueled battle for HD 114.

For the general, the Chamber is backing most of the Republicans in swingy Central Florida seats, including Reps. Scott Plakon, David Smith and Rene Plasencia. Alachua Rep. Chuck Clemons also picked up the endorsement in his expensive race against Democrat Kayser Enneking.

The endorsements dropped alongside some polling showing Floridians favor some Chamber-backed priorities, such as COVID-19 business liability protections, by a wide margin. Considering the group plans to put “its full 100-plus years of combined political experience” into reelecting its picks, their backing could prove to be a difference-maker.

LIBRE picks

The political arm of LIBRE Initiative — a pro-Hispanic interest group backed by the Koch family network — is weighing in on two high-profile state legislative races with a pair of new endorsements.

— LIBRE Initiative Action is backing GOP Rep. Ana Maria Rodriguez as she pursues the Senate District 39 seat. The group is also endorsing Republican candidate Alex Rizo in the House District 110 contest. LIBRE Initiative is a pro-immigration group supported by Americans for Prosperity.

— The organization has weighed in on big-time races in the past. During the 2016 cycle, the LIBRE Initiative spent big to support U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio against Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy. Another Republican, Carlos Curbelo, earned the group’s support in 2014 when he won the seat in Florida’s 26th Congressional District from Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia.

Ana Maria Rodriguez is among the long list of endorsements from the LIBRE Initiative.

— The Senate District 39 contest is one of the biggest this cycle. Rodriguez is ditching her House District 105 seat and is unopposed in the GOP primary for SD 39. Rep. Javier Fernández and Daniel Horton-Diaz are battling for the Democratic nomination. Non-party affiliated candidate Celso Alfonso has qualified as well.

— The HD 110 race is a straight-up one-on-one. Rizo, a Republican, is competing against Democratic candidate Annette Collazo. The winner of the Nov. 3 general election will replace House Speaker José Oliva.

— “At a time when the Latino community in South Florida is hungry for bold leadership, LIBRE Action is proud to support Rep. Rodriguez and Alex Rizo, who are committed to expanding opportunity and prosperity for all Floridians,” said Cesar Grajales, a LIBRE Initiative Action senior adviser. “We look forward to leveraging our grassroots army of volunteers and supporters to ensure that Rep. Rodriguez wins her Senate race, and Alex Rizo is able to join her in Tallahassee to fight for our South Florida community.”

Get smart quick

Mail voting is a big deal in every election. In 2020, it’s expected to be bigger than ever. With political parties spreading the word and encouraging Floridians to post their ballots rather than pull a lever, the shift could be colossal.

There’s plenty of data to parse. Ballot requests, return rates, political party breakdowns are all tracked and can be sifted down to the district level. Without a Sherpa, making sense of it all can feel much like reading tea leaves.

In Florida, vote-by-mail is a big deal.

Enter Data Targeting. The Gainesville-based political strategy firm has updated the vote-by-mail dashboards it has used in past elections for 2020. It organizes it all into charts, sortable by voter age, race and reliability as well state House, state Senate and congressional district.

It’s tracking the shift, too. If VBM ends up being all it’s cracked up to be this year, dashboard users will be the first to know. Hint: Ballots delivered and returned are already far outpacing the 2018 primary.

The data is open to all. Bookmark the 2020 Primary Dashboard for a snapshot of critical metrics for the current primary election. For cycle-to-cycle metrics, check the Historical Days-Out Analysis for a comparison of the current cycle to previous cycles at equivalent points-in-time.

Mark Your Calendars

The first episode of “Let’s Talk” with Chris King streams live on Facebook tonight at 7 p.m. The show focuses on addressing the most significant challenges facing Florida and highlighting the candidates King is backing this cycle, starting with Senate hopeful and current state Rep. Shevrin Jones.

Chris King is hosting a new show on Facebook Live.

The St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce is taking its “Politics in St. Johns” meet and greet virtual. This year, candidates submitted videos to the Chamber introducing themselves alongside contact information for voters to send them questions. The videos will be posted on the Chamber website beginning July 27.

Rep. Jennifer Webb is hosting a “social distancing pop-by” for her reelection campaign on July 28 from 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. Supporters are encouraged to come by the campaign office at 3777 26th Ave. North to pick up yard signs, swag, contribution envelopes or just to say “hello” from a safe distance.

The Democratic National Committee is holding a virtual event hosted by Rep. Shevrin Jones and former Rep. Alan Williams with an appearance by former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick. “Chopping it up Florida: Miami Style” will see them and guests discuss how to advance issues important Black men in the 2020 election. It’s slated for July 28 at 7 p.m.

Rep. Elizabeth Fetterhoff is holding a grand opening of her HD 26 reelection campaign headquarters. The event will feature food, drinks and a silent auction. It’s slated for Aug. 1 from noon to 4 p.m. at 220 N Woodland Blvd. in Deland. To attend, email an RSVP to Brittany Rembert at [email protected].

The Republican Party of Palm Beach County will hold its annual “Lobsterfeast” fundraising event at Trump National Golf Club Jupiter on Aug. 1 at 6:30 p.m. U.S. Reps. Matt Gaetz and Brian Mast are expected to attend.

The Tampa Bay Chamber is hosting its 2020 Hob Nob on Aug. 5 at 3:30 p.m. Though the event is virtual it will be held through the “Lunchpool,” a meeting platform that will emulate the in-person style of the Hob Nob by allowing candidates and attendees to interact with each other at “tables” of no more than five people.

A new voice

As “Get Out the Vote” is replaced by “Stay In and Vote,” transgender activist Laverne Cox is aiming to connect with young Florida voters on the newly-dubbed “National Vote by Mail Day.”

On Tuesday, July 28, NextGen Florida will host a Zoom conversation where Cox will discuss the importance of the youth vote in Florida. That virtual meeting will take place at 6 p.m.

Laverne Cox will join NextGen Florida to discuss the importance of the youth vote in Florida.

Billionaire Tom Steyer founded NextGen America, the parent organization of NextGen Florida. Steyer has tried to position himself as a player in Florida Politics, as he threw millions into Andrew Gillum’s ultimately losing 2018 gubernatorial campaign.

The organization is pushing National Vote by Mail Day amid the COVID-19 pandemic. With the virus still killing dozens daily in Florida, some voters are turning to mail-in ballots as a safety precaution and avoiding an in-person trip to the polls. The group will highlight the mail-in option around the country on July 28.

NextGen Florida has already promised at least $5.5 million to register more than 50,000 young voters ahead of the 2020 presidential contest. Steyer mounted an unsuccessful bid for the Democratic nomination and is now supporting Joe Biden’s effort to win Florida and the White House.

Cox is a transgender actress and activist who performed on “Orange Is the New Black” and was nominated for an Emmy. Cox recently produced the Netflix documentary “Disclosure,” which examines the depiction of transgender characters in TV and film.

Strategic move 

Meredith Beatrice will be enhancing her role in the Governor’s Communications Office with additional responsibilities and a newly-created title, director of strategic initiatives.

Enhanced deputy: In addition to her previous responsibilities, Beatrice has taken on finding new ways to communicate the administration’s message in recent months. The new title will formalize those responsibilities.

Meredith Beatrice is finding new ways to communicate the Governor’s message.

Comms shop shake-up: Helen Aguirre Ferré is out, Fred Piccolo is in, and the formalization of Beatrice’s “enhancement” coincides with Piccolo’s first day, Monday.

The resume: Before joining the Governor’s press team at the start of the new administration, Beatrice was the communications director for the Florida GOP. Before that, she led communications for Adam Putnam’s gubernatorial campaign and the Department of State

Stepping up to the plate: Beatrice says she is honored to stay in the Governor’s Office to support Piccolo and Chief of Staff Shane Strum and sees her role as a way to take the team’s comms effort to new heights.

Outdoor brunching

Dining out has taken on new meaning in these times. If they go out at all, many opt for al fresco, socially distant meals.

Fortunately, Tallahassee offers plenty of places with outdoor dining — patios, courtyards or decks. Some of the best choices for brunching outdoors, courtesy of Tallahassee Table. 

Andrews Downtown: Bananas foster French toast, Oscar Benedict, shrimp and grits, omelets, burgers, salads and sandwiches, mimosas, and bloody marys. No buffet currently. Brunch 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays. 228 S. Adams Street; 850-222-3444.

Andrews Downtown is serving up one great way to enjoy brunch al fresco. Image via Tallahassee Table.

Bada Bean: Benedicts, pancakes, cinnamon roll French toast, salads, sandwiches, freshly baked treats. No alcohol, but you can bring your own bubbly and order orange juice. Brunch 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays. 2500 Apalachee Pkwy.; 850-562-2326.

Blu Halo: Ahi tuna, tuna poké, chimichurri steak and eggs, chicken and waffles, omelets, salad, and burgers plus specialty cocktails. Brunch 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Bannerman Crossings, 3431 Bannerman Road; 850-999-1696.

Canopy Road: Omelets, breakfast burrito, sweet potato pancakes, Italian avocado toast, handhelds. Open daily from 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The breakfast-lunch spot has multiple locations, but the most outdoor seating is the covered patio at 1779 Apalachee Pkwy.; 850-727-0263.

The Egg Cafe and Eatery: Bayou cakes, Benedicts, pancakes, omelets, mimosas, and bloody marys. Open 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily except Mondays. 3740 Austin Davis Dr., 850-765-0703; 300 S. Duval Street; 850-907-3447.

The Edison: Breakfast bowls, Benedicts, omelets, sandwiches, salads, appetizers, and a full bar. Brunch 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Cascades Park. 470 Suwannee Street; 850-765-9771.

Food Glorious Food: Omelets, plates and bowls, fried chicken and waffles, salads, handhelds, desserts, mimosas, and bloody marys. Brunch 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sundays. 1950 Thomasville Road; 850-224-9974.

Grove Market Cafe: Pancakes, omelets, breakfast bowls, waffles, sandwiches, burgers, plates, mimosas. 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily. 1370 Market Street; 850-894-5060.

Jeri’s Midtown Cafe: French toast, breakfast specials, pressed sandwiches and other lunch items, mimosa (bottomless mimosas available). 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. 1123 Thomasville Road; 850-385-7268.

Lofty Pursuits: Waffles, pancakes, biscuits and gravy, corned beef and hash, grit bowls, sandwiches plus ice cream. You can order to go and eat in the outdoor patios. Breakfast and lunch are from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday and Tuesday. Open daily for ice cream from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. 1355 Market Street; 850-521-0091.

Madison Social: Hot toddies, pancakes of the month, spiced honey chicken and waffles. Brunch 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. 705 S. Woodward Avenue; 850-894-6276.

Prime Time: Pancakes, waffles, omelets, breakfast bowls, mimosas, bloody marys. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. 1921 W. Tennessee Street; 850-329-7148.

Railroad Square Craft House: French toast, Tally Mac and Register’s sausage burrito, avocado toast, chicken and waffles. bloody marys. Bottomless mimosa for $15 with entree. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. brunch Saturday and Sunday. 644 McDonnell Dr.; 850-296-3496.

Sage: A Restaurant: Coconut French toast, omelets, smoked salmon toast, crepes, mimosas, and bloody marys, breakfast cocktails. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for Sunday brunch. 3534 Maclay Boulevard; 850-270-9396.

Table 23: Steak and eggs, Benedicts, bagels and lox, shrimp and grits, sandwiches, Mimosas, bloody marys, and cocktail menu. Sunday brunch 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 1233 Thomasville Road; 850-329-2261.

Tally Fish House & Oyster Bar: Chicken and biscuits, waffles, shrimp and grits, mimosas, bloody marys, espresso martinis. Brunch 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. 6800 Thomasville Road; 850-900-5075.

Uptown Cafe: Omelets, pancakes, hash with house-smoked salmon, salads, sandwiches. Mimosas, peach Bellini’s, and craft beer. Open 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. for Sunday brunch; 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. 1325 Miccosukee Road; 850-219-9800.

Uptown Cafe’s French toast is a brunch favorite. Image via Tallahassee Table.


Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as 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. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.


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 @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
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