Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 8.12.20

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Up and at 'em: Here's your scoops and other stories driving the day in Florida politics.

Florida’s roster of Senators has dropped to 40 with the passing Monday of John Andrew Smith. He turned 76 on July 23.

As the longtime Staff Director of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Smith was often called the “41st Senator,” a nod to his key role in one of the Senate’s most powerful committees.

Always called by his double name — John Andrew — Smith was born in Quincy, Florida and graduated from Quincy High School in 1962 where he was a 4-year letterman in football, baseball and basketball. 

RIP: John Andrew Smith, known as the ’41st Senator.’ Image via

He attended Florida State University where he pledged Kappa Alpha fraternity, played baseball and met his future wife, Kay Woodham. After his government service career, Smith worked as a lobbyist alongside his son, Drew, at Smith and Smith Consulting.

Lobbyist Fred Baggett would come to know him during Smith’s legislative days. “You wouldn’t find a finer, nicer gentleman anywhere,” he recalled. “Back in those days, he had a tough job, usually telling you ‘no’, but he told you ‘no’ in the nicest way.”

Baggett said Smith didn’t push his own agenda when he was the Appropriations Staff Director, but he pushed “in a strong way” to represent the committee’s leadership. And there was no sneaking a little something into a budget request. “He knew the budget backwards and forwards,” Baggett said. “You did not pull the wool over his eyes.”

More recently, Baggett played golf with Smith in what he called a “gangsome” — an informal group of about 20 men who meet up on Wednesdays at 12:30 at the Havana Golf & Country Club. “That doesn’t sound very exciting. I mean, Havana’s golf course is not Augusta, but it was more fun than a barrel of monkeys,” he said. “When he played golf, he never gave up.”

Smith also was an outdoorsman who shared his passion for fishing and hunting with friends and family. He split his time between a family coastal house on Ochlockonee Bay and at their farm, Sine Die, in Attapulgus, Georgia.

Smith is survived by his wife of 54 years and their children, Dr. Shafer Smith (Shannon) of Gaithersburg, Maryland; John Andrew “Drew” Smith Jr. (Stacey) of Tallahassee and Andra Kay Smith Musselwhite (Brian) of Tallahassee. He is also survived by grandchildren Robert “Fuller,” Mary Carlton and Mac Musselwhite all of Tallahassee; Hensley and Sawyer Smith of Gaithersburg, MD; and Hayes and John “Andrew” Smith III of Tallahassee.

A funeral service will be held Friday at 11 a.m. at the Bevis Funeral Home in Tallahassee. To watch the service live online, visit and click on “Obituaries.” In lieu of flowers, Smith’s family has requested donations be made to the Redemption Hill Church Building Fund, 8116 Killearn Plaza, Tallahassee.

— via Florida Politics correspondent Rosanne Dunkelberger


@JoeBiden: I have the great honor to announce that I’ve picked @KamalaHarris — a fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants — as my running mate.

@BenjySarlin: I think to the extent Harris has a lot in common with [Joe] Biden, it’s that they both gravitate toward the party consensus. They just made different bets on where that consensus was in 2020 and Biden’s bet turned out to be more consistently right for now.

@MaggieNYT: In the same way that [Barack] Obama asked [Hillary] Clinton to be Sec of State after a brutal primary, Biden is choosing the person who dinged him hardest on stage. His team knows this and is betting people realize it’s something [Donald] Trump, who lives in grievance, would not do

@MattyYglesias: The fact that this was telegraphed as a likely outcome for months and Team Trump couldn’t decide if Harris is too soft on crime or too tough on crime does not bode that well for their message.

@GTrochez02: A daughter of immigrants is on the ballot for Vice President of the United States. Let that sink in.

@LizSzabo: Why is the coronavirus so lethal? Many reasons, but one is that it has its own proofreading enzymes to edit out any genetic mistakes that occur while making copies of itself. In other words, it was smart enough not to lay off its copy editors.

@MollyKnefel: Remote learning has been incredibly hard on kids. Deaths in their school would be harder.

@DuranForFlorida: 1) POTUS forcing FL into a bad deal to try to save career 2) R Leaders refuse special session & continue to give R Gov extraordinary spending power 3) All OK dropping $400 million on 5 weeks of aid but NO to spending about same over 5yrs to expand Medicaid to near 1 million in FL

@SportsCenter: With the Big Ten postponing its season, there will be fewer than 500 major-conference football games for the first time since fall of 1943.


Florida primaries for 2020 state legislative/congressional races — 6; Florida Bar exams begin online (rescheduled) — 7; Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee begins — 7; Regal Cinemas reopen in U.S. — 9; Indy 500 rescheduled — 11; Republican National Convention begins in Charlotte — 12; NBA draft lottery — 13; Rev. Al Sharpton’s D.C. March — 17; U.S. Open begins — 19; Christopher Nolan‘s “Tenet” rescheduled premiere in U.S. — 22; Rescheduled running of the Kentucky Derby — 24; Rescheduled date for French Open — 39; First presidential debate in Indiana — 48; “Wonder Woman” premieres — 51; Preakness Stakes rescheduled — 52; Ashley Moody’s 2020 Human Trafficking Summit — 55; First vice presidential debate at the University of Utah — 56; NBA season ends (last possible date) — 61; Second presidential debate scheduled at Miami — 64; NBA draft — 65; Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” premieres — 65; NBA free agency — 68; Florida Chamber’s Future of Florida Forum — 69; Third presidential debate at Belmont — 71; 2020 General Election — 83; “Black Widow” premieres — 87; NBA 2020-21 training camp — 89; Florida Automated Vehicles Summit — 100; “No Time to Die” premieres — 100; NBA 2020-21 opening night — 113; Super Bowl LV in Tampa — 179; “A Quiet Place Part II” rescheduled premiere — 191; “Top Gun: Maverick” rescheduled premiere — 324; New start date for 2021 Olympics — 345; “Jungle Cruise” premieres — 353; “Spider-Man Far From Home” sequel premieres — 450; “Thor: Love and Thunder” premieres — 548; “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” premieres — 590; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 632; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” sequel premieres — 785.


Amid pandemic, Florida voters using mail-in ballots at record level” via Steve Patrick of — Of 1.8 million Floridians who had cast ballots a week before the Aug. 18 primary election, more than 1.6 million of those have voted by mail. While in-person early voting began last week across the state, at least one election supervisor says turnout is lower at polling places and being dwarfed by the number of votes cast by mail. As of 8 a.m. Tuesday, 225,203 people had voted early, including 122,151 Republicans and 89,275 Democrats, according to numbers posted on the state Division of Elections website. Meanwhile, 1,645,820 mail-in ballots had been cast, including 815,174 by Democrats 584,851 by Republicans. While Trump has suggested that voting by mail is more subject to fraud last week he expressed support for vote-by-mail in Florida.

—“Republican Scott Caine lays out economic agenda in CD 8 primary” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

Jen Perelman takes on party and principle in primary bid” via Spencer Fordin of Florida Politics — Perelman will gleefully take the path of most resistance to achieve her political ends. Perelman, a first-time Democratic congressional candidate taking on an established opponent in U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, doesn’t recognize party boundaries as much as a one-question political litmus test. Do you take money from corporations? If so, Perelman wants to replace you with someone who doesn’t. Perelman, an attorney who grew up in South Florida, said last week that the organizing principle of her campaign is that regular people should be representing their communities.

Attorney Jen Perlman is taking on both Debbie Wasserman Schultz and the Democratic establishment.

Ban Assault Weapons Now backs Javier Fernández, Tina Polsky in first round of legislative endorsements” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Ban Assault Weapons Now (BAWN) is endorsing Democratic Senate candidates Fernández and Polsky as part of its first round of state legislative endorsements. BAWN, a gun-control advocacy group, is also backing three Democratic House candidates ahead of the Aug. 18 primary. The organization will support Parkland Mayor Christine Hunschofsky as she competes for the Democratic nomination in House District 96. Incumbent Democratic Reps. Anna Eskamani and Carlos Guillermo Smith also secured endorsements from the group as they prepare for their respective general election matchups. “BAWN and its chairwoman, Gail Schwartz, have played a pivotal role in highlighting the need for common-sense gun reform since the tragedy at MSD in 2018,” Fernández said in a Tuesday statement.

—“Florida firefighters back Kaylee Tuck in HD 55” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

—“Brian C. Johnson adds nearly $12K to top HD 101 field in latest financial reports” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

—“Tom Fabricio drops $21K in spending surge, still holds cash lead in HD 103 GOP primary” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

—“Susi Loyzelle ramps up spending in HD 114 Democratic primary bid” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

Florida doctors back Jim Mooney as he and Rhonda Rebman Lopez spend big in HD 120” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The Florida Medical Association’s political arm is endorsing Mooney as he looks to emerge from a tough Republican primary field in House District 120. Mooney is competing against Rebman Lopez and Suarez for the GOP nomination. “The FMA PAC is happy to stand with Jim Mooney in his race for House District 120,” said FMA PAC President Doug Murphy. “As a lifelong member of the community, who’s been involved in small business, local politics, and community service, Mr. Mooney has a robust understanding of the needs of the area and the citizens living there. He will be a great Representative, and we look forward to collaborating with him on health care issues.” Both Mooney and Lopez spent big in the latest fundraising reports, which cover July 25-31. Mooney dropped just over $20,000 in total. Lopez dumped even more money into the contest, spending nearly $45,000 from July 25-31.


Grady Judd offers endorsement of Chad Chronister as GOP primary comes to a close” via Janelle Irwin Taylor — Judd endorsed Chronister for reelection as Hillsborough County Sheriff. Judd released a brief audio endorsement Tuesday asking voters to share in his support. “Since I can’t vote in Hillsborough County, would you do me a favor and vote Chad Chronister? We will both appreciate you keeping Chad as your Sheriff,” Judd said. “Chad Chronister is my friend and he’s a great Sheriff. He locks up criminals to keep you safe.” Judd’s endorsement is a big win for Chronister as he faces criticism within his own Republican Party for being too liberal. Chronister faces fellow Republican Charles Boswell in the Aug. 18 primary. Boswell’s supporters have been flooding social media with critiques over Chronister’s past support for Democrats including monetary contributions to Obama and his endorsement for Hillsborough County Commissioner Les Miller, a Democrat, for Clerk of Court.

Grady Judd is giving the thumbs-up to Chad Chronister.

— 2020 —

What Kamala Harris reveals about Joe Biden” via Edward-Isaac Dovere of The Atlantic — By picking Harris, Biden is hinting that he would want to take the lead as President in reaching out to heads of government around the world, which aides and advisers say will be a major focus if he beats Trump. Picking Harris suggests that he’s looking to retain the primary role in congressional relations, too. Biden “doesn’t care about Twitter fodder. He’s always genuinely loved Kamala Harris, has always respected her abilities,” says Eric Ortner, a donor and friend. “They care about saving America, protecting the rule of law, and uniting the country when our very health, lives, and existence is at stake.”

Choosing Kamala Harris as VP says a lot about Joe Biden.

Harris did what she had to do” via Peter Beinart of The Atlantic — By the standards of the early 2000s, her opposition to the death penalty made her a progressive on criminal-justice issues, and that progressivism almost ended her political career. She responded by largely avoiding confrontations with the police, a wariness she has now jettisoned as the public has grown more critical of police violence. What it does mean is that commentators judging her record should acknowledge the political constraints under which she labored. The fact that Harris didn’t boldly confront police misconduct earlier in her career says less about her than about the country in which she lived.

Val Demings says Biden-Harris ticket promises to ‘restore America’s faith’” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Biden picking Harris as his running mate, Demings said the ticket “promises to restore America’s faith.” Demings responded Tuesday after former Vice President Biden announced the Senator from California would be his running mate this year, after considering Demings and several other women for the job. In her initial written statement, Demings barely acknowledged Harris specifically and did not explicitly congratulate or praise the Senator. But Demings followed up with a second statement and a tweet that expanded on that by calling Harris “a fearless and proven champion for American families and the rule of law.”

—“What Harris thinks about Florida issues: Cuba, disaster funding and the AIDS epidemic” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times

—“What you need to know about Harris” via Eugene Scott of The Washington Post

—“What Donald Trump has said about Harris” via Aaron Blake of The Washington Post

—“‘This is so earth-shattering.’ Florida Dems praise Biden’s choice of Harris.” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald

—“Maya Rudolph reacts to Harris VP pick: ‘Oh s—‘” via Maureen Lee Lenker of Entertainment Weekly

A new poll spotlights a key reason Biden is the 2020 favorite” via Aaron Blake of The Washington Post — A new poll provides a rare window into the limited appetite for third-party candidates in the 2020 election and it appears to be a significant reason for Biden’s sustained advantage. The Monmouth University poll is one of very few thus far this cycle that included third-party candidates. The poll shows Libertarian Party nominee Jo Jorgensen pulling 2 percent nationally, while Green Party nominee Howie Hawkins takes 1 percent. At this point in 2016, Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson was getting nearly 9 percent of the vote, while Green nominee Jill Stein was pulling about 4 percent. In the final results, the margins were so thin in the decisive states that it was utterly conceivable that third-party candidates could have served as spoilers, even if they ultimately didn’t. Johnson’s vote share, for example, was historic by Libertarian Party standards.

Limited appetite for third-party candidates could explain Joe Biden’s enduring appeal.

From golf course to Social Security: New Biden ad swings at Trump” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The Biden for President campaign is launching a new television commercial in Florida blasting Trump for the impact his executive order and statements about payroll taxes could have on Social Security. In the new 30-second spot “Swing,” there is a lot of video footage of Trump playing golf while the narrator tells Florida’s seniors that Trump’s executive order “directs funding cuts for Social Security.” “He also proposed slashing hundreds of millions of dollars from the Social Security Trust Fund,” the narrator continues. The commercial is exclusive to Florida, going live Tuesday in digital and television platforms, and targeting Florida’s senior citizens.

FAMU grad Vincent Evans named political director for Biden’s VP choice, Kamala Harris” via Byron Dobson of the Tallahassee Democrat — Florida A&M University graduate Evans, who has been serving as the southern political director for Biden’s campaign, will serve as political director for Biden’s vice-presidential nominee. Evans posted the news Tuesday morning on his Twitter site hours ahead of Biden’s announcement later in the day that he had selected Sen. Harris as his running mate. “I’m honored to be moving into a new role @TeamJoe to serve as political director to our running mate,” Evans wrote. “My title might have changed, but my mission remains the same — Restore the Soul of the Nation.” Evans, 32, previously worked as a special assistant to U.S. Rep. Al Lawson. He served in that post with Lawson’s staff since January 2017.

Facing bleak November, Republicans look to stoke BLM backlash” via Laura Barrón-López and Alex Thompson of POLITICO — Facing possible electoral calamity, Republicans are now turning to a familiar playbook: stoking fear by trying to redefine the Black Lives Matter movement as a radical leftist mob looking to sabotage the white, suburban lifestyle. Republicans are using two lines of attack: the Trump administration, candidates in safe red seats and right-wing social media channels seek to label the entire movement “Marxist” and anti-family as they try to energize their conservative base. Republicans running in swing districts and states, meanwhile, are tying their Democratic opponents to activists’ demands to defund police departments, while avoiding explicitly mentioning Black Lives Matter.

Low-income Americans are less likely to vote in national elections — yet it doesn’t have to be that way.” via Issac Morgan of Florida Phoenix — Voters from low-income backgrounds are consistently less likely to vote in national elections compared to those with higher incomes, a new study shows, a potential harbinger as the 2020 presidential election looms in swing states such as Florida. In 2016, when Trump won the presidency, “The most common reason that low-income individuals did not vote in 2016 was that they did not strongly identify with the candidate or campaign issues.” That reason was closely followed by “disinterest or not believing their vote would make a difference.” The study stressed the importance of reaching eligible low-income voters, who could have an impact on both the 16 U.S. Senate elections and the presidential election. The study also examined the 2016 elections and found that issues surrounding the poor in America such as “health care, jobs, wages, housing, food, water and more” have an impact on everyone.

Amendment 3 would suppress Black representation in Florida, new report says” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — Voters in November will decide whether to drastically change how Floridians pick their elected leaders in the future, and a new analysis concludes Black representation in Tallahassee would plummet if it passes. The analysis, to be released Wednesday by the nonprofit People Over Profits, raises serious concerns about Amendment 3, a ballot referendum that would turn Florida’s primary elections into a top two open primary system.


Florida reports another daily record for coronavirus deaths” via Orion Rummler of Axios — Florida’s health department on Tuesday reported 276 new coronavirus deaths, surpassing the state’s record from July 31. The state also recorded over 5,800 new cases — on the low side for a state that is one of the domestic epicenters for the virus. Florida counted its highest number of infections in a single day — over 15,000 — on July 12, per the COVID Tracking Project, and daily spikes have gradually decreased since then. Where it stands: 23% of hospital beds in Florida are available for new patients, as well as roughly 18% of adult intensive-care units, according to Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration.

The virus is killing young Floridians. Race is a big factor.” via Frances Robles, Robert Gebeloff, Danielle Ivory and Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura of The New York Times — Throughout the pandemic, Ron DeSantis has stressed that the state’s coronavirus crisis is largely limited to the very old. He has repeatedly noted that Florida has seen more coronavirus deaths in people over the age of 90 than in all people under 65. But data reviewed by The New York Times shows that’s changing: Deaths were greater in July for residents under 65 than for those over 90. Additionally, more Floridians in the 25-44 age group died in July than had died in the previous four months of the pandemic combined, a review of the Florida Department of Health data shows. More than 200 have died in all. Although they still make up a relatively small number of the more than 8,000 total coronavirus deaths in the state, the number of younger adults who died of the disease quadrupled last month.

Ron DeSantis says coronavirus strikes the elderly particularly hard, but race plays a big factor as well. Image via Colin Hackley.

Ron DeSantis seeks alternative to Trump’s plan for $400 weekly unemployment benefits” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — DeSantis dismissed Trump’s proposal to spend emergency pandemic dollars to boost the state’s paltry unemployment benefits, he said during a news conference Tuesday. “That’s not an option for us in Florida, because those CARES Act dollars are obligated already,” DeSantis told reporters. Instead, DeSantis said he’s considering taking a loan from the U.S. Department of Labor to increase benefits, which, at a maximum of just $275 per week, are one of the stingiest in the nation. He didn’t say how much he was looking to increase benefits. “We’re looking to see what that would entail,” DeSantis said.

Florida to be part of COVID-19 vaccine pilot” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — Surgeon General Scott Rivkees said during a conference call with hospital officials, that Florida has been invited to be part of a federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccine pilot group. Rivkees said Florida was one of four states chosen to participate, along with the city of Philadelphia. Rivkees said details for the pilot program “will be coming as vaccines become available,” but he did not explain further. The pilot program is one of the first glimpses into the Trump administration’s distribution plans. Federal officials plan to conduct visits to the four states and develop models based on what they learn.

Florida State, DeSantis push for college football season” via Wayne McGahee III and Curt Weiler of The Palm Beach Post — As the 2020 college football season teeters on the brink of cancellation to the coronavirus, Florida State University strongly advocates playing this fall. The reason? The administration, coaches and players all feel the field is a safer environment than the world without a football season. That position was made clear by all parties, including DeSantis, at the Collegiate Athletics Roundtable held at FSU Tuesday. DeSantis was joined by FSU President John Thrasher, Athletic Director David Coburn, football coach Mike Norvell, redshirt junior defensive end Josh Kaindoh, and junior wide receiver Keyshawn Helton at the Dunlap Indoor Practice Facility. “The environment that sports provides at a place like Florida State is a safer environment for these kids than what they would have if they didn’t have access to this environment,” DeSantis said.

Ron DeSantis, right, enters the Florida State University indoor practice field with FSU football player Joshua Kaindoh, left, and FSU President John Thrasher, prior to a collegiate athletics roundtable Tuesday in Tallahassee. Image via Colin Hackley.

State yanks liquor licenses from 4 bars over social distancing” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Four bars lost their liquor licenses Tuesday as state authorities charged them with violating social distancing requirements last weekend, including a restaurant in Estero charged with having more than twice the allowed number of people inside during the coronavirus crisis. Liquor licenses were suspended Tuesday by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for Rusty’s Raw Bar & Grill in Estero, Pegasus Nightclub & Lounge in Tampa, Mathers Joysticks Arcade Bar in Orlando, and Pockets Pool & Pub in Tallahassee. Florida initially closed bars on March 20 when DeSantis banned the sale of on-premises alcohol consumption, DeSantis then reopened bars on a limited-capacity basis on May 4.


Betsy DeVos publicly absent as critical decisions are made on public school reopenings” via Heidi Przybyla of NBC News — As public schools grapple with the challenge of reopening during a pandemic, public education advocates are criticizing DeVos for working remotely from Michigan, where she owns a sprawling waterfront estate with round-the-clock security detail paid for by taxpayers. DeVos has been a forceful advocate for Trump‘s demand that schools reopen in full and in person, potentially placing millions of teachers and students at risk of infection. It’s a striking bit of mixed messaging for DeVos, a billionaire heiress, major GOP donor and charter school advocate who had no experience with public education before she became education secretary.

As the talk of reopening schools heats up, Betsy DeVos has been a no-show. Image via AP.

Hearing set in school reopening lawsuit” via the News Service of Florida — Leon County Circuit Judge Charles Dodson scheduled a Thursday hearing in a lawsuit about Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran’s mandate that schools reopen campuses. The Florida Education Association teachers’ union is challenging Corcoran’s July 6 emergency order requiring schools to reopen in August, unless state and local health officials say otherwise. The union alleges that Corcoran’s directive violates the state Constitution, which guarantees Floridians the right to “safe” and “secure” public education. DeSantis and Corcoran have repeatedly said all school districts need to offer in-person instruction to parents who want to send their kids back to school, after the pandemic forced campuses to shut down in March and required students to shift to online learning.

Symptomatic students prioritized for COVID-19 testing during back-to-school season” via Emily Bloch and Cassidy Alexander of The Florida Times-Union — Students with coronavirus symptoms will be given prioritized testing in Duval County and across the state of Florida, per a recommendation from the Florida Department of Health. The guidance is part of a request from Surgeon General Scott Rivkees to focus on testing in schools, a Volusia County Department of Health administrator confirmed Tuesday. In Volusia County, the health department initially told the Daytona Beach News-Journal it would pause testing for the “general public” in order to focus on students and school staff starting Aug. 22. But the state department of health later clarified that a new testing site would be added in the area for the general public while the existing sites shift focus to students and school faculty members.

After complaints, Broward schools backtracks on possible reopening date” via Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The Broward School Board backtracked on a plan to wait until October to even consider reopening campuses, deciding Tuesday to review the issue as early as this month. The district will start the new year with remote learning only Aug. 19 due to the continued spread of COVID-19 in South Florida. But the School Board decided it will revisit whether to start in-person classes every two weeks, instead of waiting until Oct. 1, as a draft plan suggested. School Board members said they heard from a lot of parents were alarmed after the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported the Oct. 1 target to reconsider opening.

Martin County School District deems teachers ‘essential workers.’ Here’s what that means” via Sommer Brugal and Max Chesnes of Treasure Coast Newspapers — About 4 p.m. on the evening before students were to return to in-person lessons for the first time since March, district teachers received an email. The message deemed all district employees, including teachers, to be “essential” based on Gov. DeSantis’ Executive Order 20-91. That means everyone from a janitor to a teacher to an administrator could be required to report to work even if they have been exposed to the coronavirus, without quarantining. Martin County is the only Treasure Coast school district to require employees to return to work if exposed and are not showing symptoms.

The stress of the unknown is taking a massive toll on parents” via Amy Joyce of The Washington Post — Summer has been clouded with worry about the coming school year. And the school year is practically here. Will the fall be like the spring again? Do parents dare to send their children back to school in the middle of a pandemic? What if they work outside the home and the children have nowhere to go? How long can families keep going like this? The unknown is agonizing for parents used to having control over the family schedule. And the stress of trying to decide how to manage it all is taking a massive toll on parents of children of all ages. This unprecedented struggle is threatening to families for many reasons.

As U.S. schools reopen, Israel’s mistakes offer cautionary tale” via Ivan Levingston of Bloomberg — Israel has gone from being a model of COVID-19 containment in March to suffering one of the world’s highest per capita rates of new infections. One explanation is that it may have reopened schools too quickly and imprudently. Experts are divided on the role schools played in the resurgence. But they have advice for the U.S. and others: promote testing and contact tracing, use a hybrid of digital and in-person learning, use local solutions such as holding outdoor classes where possible and don’t do it the way Israel did the first time. “There are many things that should have been done and none of this was done,” said Eli Waxman, a physicist who leads the team advising Israel’s National Security Council on its response to the coronavirus.

Israel attempted to reopen schools after a slowdown in coronavirus infections. It did not go quite as planned. Image via Getty.


Miami-Dade is a COVID hot spot. But political campaigning goes on” via Erin Doherty of the Miami Herald — The campaign must go on — even in a coronavirus hot spot. It’s been over a week since early voting began for the Aug. 18 Florida primary, and in Miami-Dade County — home to the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the state — candidates and their campaign staffs are stationing themselves outside of early voting locations in a last-ditch effort to sway voters. “You got to keep your distance. You got to follow all the guidelines and make sure everyone stays safe,” said Joshua Andino, 22, who spent the first week of early voting at a Hialeah library and a Miami Lakes community center campaigning for Marcia Giordano Hansen, a Miami-Dade judicial candidate.

Miami Beach issues $14,400 in fines for COVID-19 mask violations. Most haven’t paid.” via Martin Vassolo of the Miami Herald — One man took his mask off to answer his phone. Another walked alone on a quiet street with a bare face. The third kept his mask nearby outside a Lincoln Road restaurant while he examined its menu. They were all deemed to be in violation of a Miami Beach order requiring the use of facial coverings to limit the spread of COVID-19, even when outdoors and socially distanced. They were each fined $50. The city has issued $14,400 in fines since July 23, the first day when city employees and police began ticketing alleged violators. Of the 288 people fined, only four have paid their fines as of Monday, according to a city spokeswoman.

Miami Beach has been handing out fines for mask violations, but few are paying. Image via AP.

Officials: Florida man lied to get $60,000 in virus loans” via The Associated Press — Judlex Jean Louis was arrested and charged last week with bank fraud, making false statements to a financial institution and aggravated identity theft, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida said in a news release Monday. Louis received proceeds from three fraudulent Paycheck Protection Program loans in early June, according to a criminal complaint. Each loan application hid Louis’s identity as the true loan recipient, the complaint said. Louis had PPP loan money deposited into accounts that he controlled, prosecutors said. Authorities said surveillance cameras caught him withdrawing cash from one of these accounts after the loan money was deposited.


What recession? First Coast home sales sizzle in July” via Drew Dixon of Florida Politics — The First Coast real estate market remains robust in the face of the coronavirus outbreak with increasing values on homes and sales going up as well in July. There were substantial jumps in home sales both on a monthly and annual basis, according to a report issued by the Northeast Florida Realtors Association Tuesday. There were 3,514 homes sold in July on the First Coast, a 15.8% increase over July, 2019. July’s figure is also a notable jump of 339 home sales over June when 3,175 homes were sold across Northeast Florida. The latest data continues a streak of upbeat home sales which seem impervious to the economic downturn caused by the pandemic on the First Coast. June’s figure was an increase of 684 home sales over May’s total of 2,337 residential properties sold in the region.

No masks in Walton County, commissioners reject mask resolution with unanimous vote” via Jim Thompson of the Northwest Florida Daily News — Faced with public comment overwhelmingly against even a recommendation from the local government that face masks be worn as a means of helping to control the spread of COVID-19, Walton County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday against a narrow resolution encouraging wearing masks in public. The resolution would have merely encouraged businesses to direct customers to wear masks when social distancing is not possible. But even before the vote on the resolution, Commissioner Danny Glidewell moved to soften the language of that part of the proposal, so as not to indicate that the county was anywhere close to mandating that businesses require masks.

Pinellas School Board approves in-school mask mandate” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — The Pinellas County School Board adopted an emergency rule Tuesday that will require face coverings in schools in effect until Nov. 9. The rule gives examples of acceptable face coverings, which include disposable face masks, cloth face masks or other cloth apparel completely covering the mouth and nose. Masks must be made of a solid material, meaning no lace, mesh, crocheted or largely porous material; it also cannot have exhalation valves or vents. According to a draft of the rule, the district will “maintain emergency supplies of disposable or other new face coverings so that no student, staff member or other person will be in a position where they will not have access to one.” There will be exceptions to the face mask requirement, which includes mask breaks for students and teachers, where they can remove their face covering while keeping social distancing measures in place.

A group of teachers rallied outside the meeting calling for eLearning only. Image via WFTS.


Blue Angels Homecoming Air Show canceled over COVID-19 concerns” via the staff of the Pensacola News Journal — The Blue Angels Homecoming Air Show this fall at Naval Air Station Pensacola has been canceled over concerns about COVID-19, organizers announced Tuesday. The Homecoming Air Show was originally scheduled for Oct. 16 and 17 at the base. It typically marks the Blues’ final show of the air show season. “This decision was made after considering all possible options, but was fundamentally a decision to ensure the health and safety of our personnel and the greater community,” reads the post on the NAS Pensacola Blue Angels Homecoming Air Show Facebook page. “We look forward, however, to hosting the Air Show again in November of 2021.”


With no end to the pandemic in sight, coronavirus fatigue grips America” via Brady Dennis, Jeremy Duda and Joel Achenbach of The Washington Post — An exhausted, exasperated nation is suffering from the effects of a pandemic that has upended society on a scale and duration without parallel in living memory. Millions of other Americans are wrestling with difficult questions about how to juggle school, pay their bills and look after their mental and physical health. Front-line health workers are bone-tired, their nerves frayed by endless shifts and constant encounters with the virus and its victims. Senior citizens have grown weary of isolation. Unemployed workers fret over jobs lost, benefits that are running out, rent payments that are overdue. Recent opinion polls hint at the deepening despair. 73 percent of adults viewed the pandemic as growing worse.

America is suffering from coronavirus fatigue. Image via AP. 

‘A smoking gun’: Infectious coronavirus retrieved from hospital air” via Apoorva Mandavilli of The New York Times — Skeptics of the notion that the coronavirus spreads through the air including many expert advisers to the World Health Organization have held out for one missing piece of evidence: proof that floating respiratory droplets called aerosols contain live virus, and not just fragments of genetic material. Now a team of virologists and aerosol scientists has produced exactly that: confirmation of the infectious virus in the air. “This is what people have been clamoring for,” said Linsey Marr, an expert in the airborne spread of viruses who was not involved in the work. “It’s unambiguous evidence that there is infectious virus in aerosols.” A research team at the University of Florida succeeded in isolating live virus from aerosols collected at a distance of seven to 16 feet from patients hospitalized with COVID-19, farther than the six feet recommended in social distancing guidelines.

Bill Gates on COVID-19: Most U.S. tests are ‘completely garbage’” via Steven Levy of Wired — An early Cassandra who warned of our lack of preparedness for a pandemic, Gates became one of the most credible figures as his foundation made huge investments in vaccines, treatments, and testing. He also became a target of the plague of misinformation afoot in the land, as logorrheic critics accused him of planning to inject microchips in vaccine recipients. There’s been trillions of dollars of economic damage done and a lot of debts, but the innovation pipeline on scaling up diagnostics, on new therapeutics, on vaccines is actually quite impressive. And that makes me feel like, for the rich world, we should largely be able to end this thing by the end of 2021, and for the world at large by the end of 2022.

Could massive numbers of nursing home deaths have been prevented?” via Maggie Severns of POLITICO — Across the country, at least 43,000 nursing home residents have died of the coronavirus. In California, at least 3,400 have passed away. But at the eight CalVet veterans’ homes, it’s been a different story: Among 2,100 residents, half of whom require round-the-clock care, including hospice patients and Korean and Vietnam War veterans with complicated health conditions, only two have died of the coronavirus. While more than 300 California nursing homes asked for waivers exempting them from the state’s minimum-staffing rules before the pandemic, for example, CalVet kept its homes fully staffed and hired extra professionals such as full-time doctors and nurses. Its facilities stockpiled masks, ensuring they wouldn’t run short when the rest of the world did.


Florida sees 90,000 new weekly unemployment claims, lowest in months” via Drew Dixon of Florida Politics — The number of Florida’s weekly unemployment filings dropped below 100,000 for the first time since nearly the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in March, according to Florida Department of Economic Opportunity data released this week. There were 3.53 million total jobless filings recorded since the pandemic hit the state, up about 90,000 over last week. That’s the lowest weekly increase not only in the past two months but since the early phases of the crisis. June and July had seen unemployment applications range in weekly increases of just more than 100,000 to about 400,000. Unemployment filings were at their highest in March and April. Of Florida’s total unemployment claims, 3.34 million have been confirmed unique cases, meaning there were no duplicates.

Virus surge makes U.S. weak link in global economic recovery” via David McHugh, Paul Wiseman and Joe McDonald of The Associated Press — People in China are back to buying German luxury cars. Europe’s assembly lines are accelerating. Now the global economy is waiting for the United States to get its coronavirus outbreak under control and boost the recovery, but there’s little sign of that. The United States’ fumbling response to the pandemic and its dithering over a new aid package is casting doubt on its economic prospects and making it one of the chief risks to a global rebound. After springtime restrictions, many U.S. states prematurely declared victory over the virus and began to reopen their economies, leading to a resurgence in COVID-19 cases. The American economy shrank at an annual pace of 32.9% from April through June, by far the worst quarter on record. The numbers are expected to bounce back strongly in the second half but to leave the U.S. economy well short of where it stood at the beginning of 2020.

In the global economic recovery from coronavirus, the U.S. remains the weak link. Image via AP.

Employers cast wary eye on Trump payroll-tax deferral” via Richard Rubin of The Wall Street Journal — Employers considering Trump’s plan to allow deferred payment of payroll taxes face a series of costs, uncertainties and headaches. The president wants employers to stop collecting the 6.2% levy that is the employee share of Social Security taxes for many workers, starting Sept. 1 and going through the end of the year. But his move, announced in a memo Saturday, doesn’t change how much tax employees and employers actually owe. Only Congress can do that. Employers’ biggest worry: If they stop withholding taxes without any guarantee that Congress will actually forgive any deferred payments, they could find themselves on the hook. That is a particular risk in cases where employees change jobs and employers can’t withhold more taxes from later paychecks to catch up on missed payments.

Small businesses are dying by the thousands — and no one is tracking the carnage” via Madeleine Ngo of Bloomberg — Big companies are going bankrupt at a record pace, but that’s only part of the carnage. By some accounts, small businesses are disappearing by the thousands amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and the drag on the economy from these failures could be huge. This wave of silent failures goes uncounted in part because real-time data on small business is notoriously scarce, and because owners of small firms often have no debt, and thus no need for bankruptcy court. “Probably all you need to do is call the utilities and tell them to turn them off and close your door,” said William Dunkelberg, who runs a monthly survey as chief economist for the National Federation of Independent Business. Nevertheless, closures “are going to be well above normal because we’re in a disastrous economic situation,” Dunkelberg said. Yelp Inc., the online reviewer, has data showing more than 80,000 permanently shuttered from March 1 to July 25.

Retail chains abandon Manhattan: ‘It’s unsustainable’” via Matthew Haag and Patrick McGeehan of The New York Times — In the heart of Manhattan, national chains including J.C. Penney, Kate Spade, Subway and Le Pain Quotidien have shuttered branches for good. Many other large brands, like Victoria’s Secret and the Gap, have kept their high-profile locations closed in Manhattan while reopening in other states. Michael Weinstein, the chief executive of Ark Restaurants, who owns Bryant Park Grill & Cafe and 19 other restaurants, said he will never open another restaurant in New York. Even as the city has contained the virus and slowly reopens, there are ominous signs that some national brands are starting to abandon New York. The city is home to many flagship stores, chains and high-profile restaurants that tolerated astronomical rents and other costs because of New York’s global cachet and the reliable onslaught of tourists and commuters. But New York today looks nothing like it did just a few months ago.


How COVID-19 sends some bodies to war with themselves” via Moises Velasquez-Manoff of The New York Times — The idea of manipulating the immune system as a way to fight Covid-19 first arose last winter in China after physicians there observed that greater inflammation seemed to correlate with worse outcomes. In March, some Italian doctors turned to immune-modulating drugs as well, says Marco Gattorno, head of the Center for Autoinflammatory Diseases and Immunodeficiencies at the Giannina Gaslini Institute in Genoa. So many intubated patients were dying, he told me, that physicians felt they had to try something to lower mortality rates. It’s probably no coincidence that those who have been most forcefully advocating to try COVID-19 therapies that rein in the immune system are often rheumatologists. Their specialty makes them quite familiar with the vagaries of the immune system and the drugs used to try to control it. Their willingness to use immune-modulating drugs in this pandemic without supporting evidence from robust studies is sometimes frowned upon by other specialists.

Wearing a neck gaiter may be worse than no mask at all, researchers find” via Allyson Chiu of The Washington Post — As the number of novel coronavirus cases continues to rise nationwide, the recurring message from many public health experts and doctors has been simple: Wearing masks saves lives. But as face coverings have become increasingly commonplace in American life, so have questions about efficacy and now a group of researchers from Duke University are aiming to provide some answers. Of the 14 masks and other coverings tested, the study found that some easily accessible cotton cloth masks are about as effective as standard surgical masks, while popular alternatives such as neck gaiters made of thin, stretchy material may be worse than not wearing a mask at all.

Wearing neck gaiters may be worse than wearing no mask at all. Image via AP.

Big Ten, Pac-12 pull plug on fall football amid pandemic” via Ralph D. Russo of The Associated Press — The Big Ten and Pac-12 called off their fall football seasons on Tuesday because of concerns about COVID-19, taking two of college football’s five power conferences out of a crumbling season. Five months after the first spikes in coronavirus cases in the U.S. led to the cancellation of the NCAA basketball tournament, the still-raging pandemic has begun tearing down a sport that generates billions of dollars for the schools that compete in it. Despite pleas from players, coaches, and Trump in recent days to play on, 40% of major college football teams have now decided to punt on a fall season. The Big Ten’s announcement, that it was postponing all fall sports and hoping to make them up in the second semester, came first Tuesday afternoon. An hour later the Pac-12, the Big Ten’s Rose Bowl partner, called a news conference to say that all sports in its conference would be paused until Jan. 1, including basketball.

Stranded international students are sustaining U.S. college towns” via Janet Lorin of Bloomberg Businessweek — College towns are struggling across the U.S. For many local businesses, revenue flows are dictated by the academic calendar: the arrival of students in late summer, prospective applicants and their parents touring campuses in fall and spring, families attending graduations in May, and then an influx of high schoolers enrolled in summer programs. Most of these customers have been absent since March, when universities sent students packing to avoid the spread of the coronavirus. It’s still unclear if many will return in the fall, and those who do may be directed not to leave campus to prevent infections. After American colleges told students to leave campus in March, about 92% of international students enrolled in the spring semester remained. Those international students are the reason a number of businesses were able to remain open.


Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, Democrat leaders call for improved COVID-19 response” via Spencer Fordin of Florida Politics — Coronavirus infections are trending downward in Florida, but there’s still plenty of work to do. U.S. Reps. Mucarsel-Powell, Wasserman Schultz and Ted Deutch called for Florida to expand its testing and contact tracing and to impose a statewide mask order during a Tuesday conference call. The trio of U.S. Reps. were joined by Dr. Aileen Marty, an infectious disease physician and professor at Florida International University, and by Andy Slavitt, a former acting administrator at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services during the Obama administration. Mucarsel-Powell, a member of the Congressional Coronavirus Task Force, said Florida became an international hot spot because of an ill-advised rush to reopen its economy.

Debbie Murcarsel-Powell says South Florida is a hotspot due to the rush to reopen.


DeSantis squelches talk of a White House run” via Gary Fineout of POLITICO Florida — DeSantis said he plans to run for a second four-year term and expects to make a formal announcement at the end of the year. He said speculation about a 2024 White House bid was “total garbage” but did not specifically rule out the possibility of a presidential bid. “I’m planning that, I haven’t announced yet, but I think it’s a safe assumption that I will do it,” DeSantis said. “Any political stuff that you hear along those lines — that is total garbage,” DeSantis said of speculation that he’ll mount a White House bid. “It’s not coming from me. I’m just doing a day at a time.”

Ron DeSantis has no interest in the White House — yet. Image via Colin Hackley.

DeSantis unhappy with vendor pick, but says hands are tied” via The Associated Press — DeSantis isn’t happy that a state agency awarded a huge contract to a company that he says bungled the state’s unemployment filing system, but he said Tuesday that the situation is out of his hands. DeSantis has asked the state inspector general to investigate the contract with Deloitte to set up the state’s unemployment filing system after massive problems occurred when claims rose due to the coronavirus. Since then, Deloitte won a bid for a contract worth more than $100 million with the Agency for Health Care Administration. “I have no involvement in that, I can’t put my thumb on the scale,” DeSantis said Tuesday. ”Obviously I don’t want Deloitte getting contracts, personally, because we’re investigating what’s happened with the employment system.”

Jimmy Patronis bans TikTok from Department of Financial Services’ devices” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — TikTok is no longer a welcomed application at the Florida Department of Financial Services. On Tuesday, Chief Financial Officer Patronis signed a directive prohibiting DFS employees from downloading, installing, or using the popular video app on any department-issued device. He also restricted employees from using the app on personal phones during the workday. “The threat TikTok presents far outweighs any benefit the application could provide to official business of the agency and that is why I have decided to immediately ban the application from DFS devices and use of the app within our facilities,” Patronis said in a news release.

Agencies told the look at ways to cut budgets” via Christine Sexton of the News Service of Florida — DeSantis’ administration and top House and Senate appropriations staff have called on state agencies to draw up ways to slice 8.5% from their current budgets to address “the expected shortfall” as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The direction to look for reductions does not mean such cuts will be made in the fiscal year 2020-2021 budget, which took effect July 1. It was included in annual budget instructions sent to state agencies in mid-July. Despite frequent requests from Democrats, DeSantis and Republican legislative leaders have shown no willingness to hold a Special Session before the November elections. But with the fiscal year running through June 30, they could be faced with making budget cuts at some point.

Democratic staffers excluded from José Oliva-approved pay raises — House Speaker Oliva approved pay increases for several House staffers, but aides in the Democratic leadership office didn’t make the cut. The raises were beyond the across-the-board 3% increase approved by lawmakers last Session. As reported by Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida, Oliva approved raises for 233 House employees, with 218 career and Republican staffers getting a bump of 5% or more. Only 15 House staffers, including the eight working in the Democratic leadership office, received just the 3% raise. Oliva spokesperson Jenna Sarkissian said the speaker approved the selective pay increases based on a “supervisor’s recommendation” and that Democratic staffers weren’t included because there was no explicit recommendation.

Court rules against NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer email case” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district judge’s decision to dismiss Hammer’s lawsuit against attorney Lawrence Sorensen, who sent two emails to the lobbyist that included photos of gunshot wounds. Hammer raised a series of arguments in the case, including that Sorensen had violated Florida laws about cyberstalking, harassment and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The appeals court, in a 14-page decision, said Hammer’s lawsuit did not allege “enough facts” to show that the laws were violated. As an example, the court said proving cyberstalking requires showing that the disputed communications served “no legitimate purpose.” Sorensen’s emails were “clearly intended to dissuade Hammer from continuing to support the availability of assault rifles.”

Florida National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer takes a loss in court. Image via AP.

Judge rules NextEra must divulge net proceeds in JEA sales attempt, most testimonies on the horizon” via Ellen Schneider of the Jacksonville Business Journal — A judge has ruled that NextEra Energy Inc. cannot keep secret how much it wanted to buy JEA for, General Counsel Jason Gabriel said Monday. During the City Council’s Special Investigatory Committee meeting on Monday, Gabriel said that Judge Virginia Norton denied the order to place an injunction preventing the disclosures. Gabriel said that they are still trying to “digest” the contents of the order and it hasn’t yet been circulated to the committee. NextEra, the parent company of Florida Power & Light, had redacted that figure when the bid information was made public in response to records requests, although it was included for all the other bidders. Council members were eager to hear what the bid was because it was the missing piece in figuring out how much executives stood to make in the sale of the utility as a result of the controversial performance unit plan.

The Florida Bar exam software crashes, freezes and can lead to hacks, examinees say” via Jack Evans of the Tampa Bay Times — Days before they’re scheduled to take one of the biggest tests of their lives, some of the state’s future lawyers are raising alarms about the software that will be used to administer the remote Florida Bar exam. The Florida Board of Bar Examiners announced last month that it would strike its in-person exams in favor of an online format, due to the coronavirus pandemic. The exams, originally set for July 28 and 29, were rescheduled for Aug. 19. The board decided to give the exam via a software platform developed by ILG Technologies of Missouri. But as test-takers have started to download the software, they say they’re encountering a host of problems, from security breaches to damage to their devices.

City Council renames Hemming Park after James Weldon Johnson” via Christopher Hong of the Florida Times-Union — The Jacksonville City Council voted to rename downtown’s Hemming Park after a Jacksonville native and civil rights activist who penned the famous anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” The 16-to-2 vote comes weeks after the council was temporarily paralyzed on the issue after a late push to instead rename the space Veterans Memorial Park. Councilmen Danny Becton and Randy White voted against renaming the park. In a bipartisan effort, the council first defeated an attempted compromise proposed by CouncilmanRory Diamond to rename the park after Johnson and designating a part of the park as “Veterans Memorial Plaza.”

Homeless man lives in Al Lang luxury suite for nearly two weeks” via WFLA — For nearly two weeks, Daniel Albert Neja called Al Lang Stadium in downtown St. Petersburg home. He’s a homeless man who somehow made his way into the empty stadium and lived in a luxury suite. Yolanda Fernandez says a cleaning crew finally put the brakes on his luxurious lifestyle. “A cleaning crew went into one of these suites that no one had gone into for some time due to COVID-19 and noticed there were blankets and shaving cream and a razor,” said Fernandez. “Clearly it appeared someone had been living there.” But Neja wasn’t just living there, police tell us he was shopping and dining too. “He went into the merchandise store, he went into the food area,” said Fernandez. “So he was wearing the merchandise and just helping himself to the food.” Police arrested Neja on Sunday night shortly before 10 p.m. He’s facing burglary and resisting arrest without violence charge. Deputies are holding him at the county jail on a $5,150 bond.


New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Brian Ballard, Brady Benford, Bradley Burleson, Monica Rodriguez, Stephanie Zauder, Ballard Partners: The Mega Company, Open Road Responders

Kevin Cleary, Gunster Yoakley & Stewart: Tradition Community Development

Benjamin Murphy: Florida Association of Insurance Agents

David Ramba, Allison Carvajal, Thomas Hobbs, Evan Power, Cameron Yarbrough, Ramba Consulting Group: Manatee County Port Authority

Mike Rogers, Southern Advocacy Group: Ducky Johnson/Ducky Recovery

Frank Tsamoutales, Tsamoutales Strategies: ABM Industries, SitelogIQ


Let’s call it what it is. We’re in a Pandemic Depression.” via Robert J. Samuelson of The Washington Post — It must be clear to almost everyone by now that the sudden and sharp economic downturn that began in late March is something more than a severe recession. That label was, perhaps, justifiable for the 2007-2009 Great Recession, when unemployment reached a peak of 10 percent. It isn’t now. “This situation is so dire that it deserves to be called a ‘depression’ — a pandemic depression,” write economists Carmen Reinhart and Vincent Reinhart in the latest issue of Foreign Affairs. “The memory of the Great Depression has prevented economists and others from using that word.” It’s understandable. People don’t want to be accused of alarmism and making a bad situation worse. But this reticence is self-defeating and ahistoric.


A new poll spotlights a key reason Joe Biden is the 2020 favorite” via Aaron Blake of The Washington Post — A new poll provides a rare window into the limited appetite for third-party candidates in the 2020 election and it appears to be a significant reason for Biden’s sustained advantage. The Monmouth University poll is one of very few thus far this cycle that have included third-party candidates. The poll shows Libertarian Party nominee Jo Jorgensen pulling 2 percent nationally, while Green Party nominee Howie Hawkins takes 1 percent. At this point in 2016, Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson was getting nearly 9 percent of the vote, while Green nominee Jill Stein was pulling about 4 percent. In the final results, the margins were so thin in the decisive states that it was utterly conceivable that third-party candidates could have served as spoilers, even if they ultimately didn’t. Johnson’s vote share, for example, was historic by Libertarian Party standards.

The revolt of the Republican strategists” via Ross Douthat of The New York Times — The church of NeverTrump, consisting of figures who once held prominent posts in Republican campaigns, now has reinvented itself as the Trump-era party’s would-be scourges. The sect’s institutional embodiment is the Lincoln Project, which runs ads against the president and his Republican enablers and finds itself mixed up in two running arguments at the moment, an intra-liberal argument about whether to welcome or shun the ex-Republican strategists and the political tendency they represent, and an intra-conservative argument about whether rejecting Trump requires a “burn it all down” approach to the rest of his political party. The original sin of the strategist class wasn’t moral compromise or racial blindness but simple condescension: a belief that they didn’t need to take their own constituents seriously. The Republican Party became Trump not because of conservatism’s inherent depravity but because its would-be statesmen failed tests of statesmanship.

Too many threats, too few guidelines as Florida schools prepare to reopen” via Randy Schultz of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Who has the final say on Florida schools reopening? What are the standards for Florida schools reopening? What happens when — not if — students and teachers at Florida schools test positive for COVID-19? No one seems to know. Let’s take the first question first. Education Commissioner Corcoran issued an order that school districts must offer on-campus instruction five days a week. But then Corcoran insisted that his order wasn’t really an order. DeSantis, who picked Corcoran for the job, followed up by urging “flexibility.” On Friday, however, Corcoran rejected Hillsborough County’s reopening plan.

New Deloitte contract shows Florida bid procurement needs an overhaul” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration last week awarded a $110 million contract to Deloitte Consulting LLP to build a system that manages Medicaid data. Yes, that’s the same Deloitte that built the $77 million unemployment system that melted down during the coronavirus pandemic. There’s a righteous and well-deserved backlash. It’s obvious Florida’s bid-procurement process needs an overhaul. At the very least, the state should stop awarding contracts to companies it is investigating for incompetence. But amid the howls of protest over all things Deloitte, it would be nice if someone uttered words rarely heard in Tallahassee: My fault. You won’t hear it from Deloitte, which says it has always followed work orders from the state. You won’t hear it from Sen. Rick Scott, who got his Deloitte debacle rolling as part his crusade as governor to gut the state’s unemployment structure.


Most of Florida’s COVID-19 numbers are looking better — except the most important one. The Florida Department of Health reported another 276 fatalities from COVID-19. That’s a record for the most fatalities reported in a single day. Florida’s death toll has now reached 8,685.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— Officials in Hillsborough County are pushing back after the Education Commissioner Corcoran rejected their plan to start the new school year online and reopen classrooms later in September.

— South Florida lawmakers are calling on Gov. DeSantis and Trump to produce a more aggressive response to the COVID-19 crisis.

— Former Vice President Biden has selected California Sen. Harris as his running mate. Orlando Congresswoman Demings says it was an incredible honor for her to make the shortlist of candidates and even though she wasn’t selected, Demings says seeing a Black woman nominated for the first time reaffirms her faith that in America, there is a place for every person to succeed no matter who they are or where they come from.

— A deep dive into the politics of playing ball. Trump says postponing or canceling the 2020 college football season would be a “tragic mistake.” And, by the most amazing coincidence, that was the topic as the Governor held a roundtable discussion at the indoor practice field of the FSU football team.

— The latest with Florida Man, who for some reason decided to drop his pants and rub one out in front of a security camera monitored in real-time.

To listen, click on the image below:


— ALOE —

Super Bowl 55 proceeding as planned with 2.7-mile outdoor fan experience” via Rick Stroud and Charlie Frago of the Tampa Bay Times — The Bucs plan to have reduced seating capacity at Raymond James Stadium and two Power Five conferences announced they will not play college football in the fall this season. But the NFL expects to host Super Bowl 55 on Feb. 7 as planned. NFL executive vice president Peter O’Reilly said Tuesday, however, the league recognizes that during the COVID-19 pandemic it will need to be “flexible and adaptable.” O’Reilly participated in the unveiling of the Super Bowl 55 Experience that will span 2.7 miles on the Tampa Riverwalk and provide the first all-outdoor venue for the event that is free to fans. Details on how to reserve free tickets to the Super Bowl Experience will be announced at a later date.

The clock is ticking: Tampa is hosting next year’s Super Bowl 55.

Busch Gardens will produce socially distant Howl-O-Scream” via Sharon Kennedy Wynne of the Tampa Bay Times — Busch Gardens on Tuesday announced that its annual Halloween event, Howl-O-Scream, will return this fall with modified, physically distant frights for its 21st year. “The creative production team has been consulting with medical experts and has modified this year’s event content with a focus on open-air scare zones and entertainment, as well as enhanced health and safety measures, while staying true to the core of this fan-favorite experience,” the theme park said in a news release. The park vowed to continue to significantly limit capacity to create plenty of open space, and both guests and performers will be required to wear face coverings. The separate-ticket event will be held on 18 nights after the park closes from Sept. 25-Nov. 1.


Celebrating today are former U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV, former Rep. Matt Caldwell and Alex Blair.


Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, A.G. Gancarski, Renzo Downey and Drew Wilson.

Peter Schorsch

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 Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the 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.


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, Jason Delgado, Renzo Downey, Daniel Figueroa, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Kelly Hayes, Joe Henderson, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Andrew Wilson, Mike Wright, and Tristan Wood.

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