Last Call for 8.17.20 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

A digest of the day's politics and policy while the bartender refreshes your drink.

Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.

First Shot

The pool of candidates for an open seat on the Florida Public Service Commission has narrowed to three.

On Monday, Sen. Tom Lee announced he would no longer seek the seat.

“I would like to thank all of the people who encouraged me to apply, those who supported my application and the Council members who voted to nominate me,” Lee said in a statement to Florida Politics.

Lee was one of three lawmakers to apply for the position alongside Reps. Mike La Rosa and Holly Raschein. The other finalist is PSC member Donald Polmann, who is seeking another term on the commission.

Lee and the other finalists each made their pitch to the Florida Public Service Commission Nominating Council last week. Gov. Ron DeSantis will appoint one of the remaining finalists to the commission for a four-year term. It will be his first appointment to the panel.

In his interview, Lee pointed to his experience in crafting water and utility policy during his time in the Senate.

The Thonotosassa Republican announced earlier this year he would leave the Senate, setting up a special election for Senate District 20 this fall.

Shortly after his exit, he hinted at a run for Hillsborough Clerk of the Court before announcing he wouldn’t seek elected office this cycle.


President Donald Trump earned some praise from Attorney General Ashley Moody on Monday for signing the Safeguarding America’s First Responders Act.

The SAFR Act, championed by a bipartisan group of 52 attorneys general, is aimed at compensating law enforcement officers who die or are permanently impacted by COVID-19.

“Our nation has now lost more law enforcement officers in the line of duty this year than we lost in all of 2019. COVID-19 and violent attacks on these heroes are the driving forces behind this disturbing increase,” said Moody, who led the coalition of AGs backing the legislation.

“As the wife of a law enforcement officer, these grave statistics are personal to me and I am extremely grateful President Trump signed this vital piece of legislation to support the families of these brave public servants on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic and many other dangerous crises facing our nation today.”

Before Trump signed the SAFR Act, federal law only allowed survivors access to certain benefits if they submit evidence proving a deceased or permanently disabled first responder had contracted COVID-19 while on the job. Without proof, the law presumed first responders contracted the disease off duty, thus making them ineligible for benefits.

The SAFR Act changes the law to err on the side of the first responder by making them eligible for benefits if they’re diagnosed with COVID-19 within 45 days of their last shift.

“I was proud to lead attorneys general from across the country in support of this measure. As a member of the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement, I am honored to work with the President, U.S. Attorney General and law enforcement leaders across our country to find additional ways to support our law enforcement heroes while improving policing to better serve all Americans,” Moody said.

Coronavirus Numbers

Positive cases:

— 570,024 FL residents (+2,649 since Sunday)

— 6,070 Non-FL residents (+29 since Sunday)


— 4,283 Travel related

— 177,769 Contact with a confirmed case

— 4,452 Both

— 383,520 Under investigation


— 34,194 in FL:


— 9,674 in FL

Evening Reads

Forget about the candidates, here are the Florida politicos with a lot on the line in Tuesday’s elections” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics

Florida dealt election double whammy with busy hurricane season, COVID-19 pandemic” via Kimberly Miller of the Palm Beach Post

COVID primary: Some crowded races, dark money, and a push for women candidates” via Michael Moline of The Florida Phoenix

Vote by mail in Florida primary already far exceeds 2016” via Brendan Farrington of The Associated Press

Primary voting tops 2.6 million” via the News Service of Florida

How a vote-by-mail mix-up got fixed, and more election tales” via Steve Bousquet of the Sun-Sentinel

What’s going on with the U.S. Postal Service and should Florida be worried?” via Allison Ross of the Tampa Bay Times

John Kasich, a ‘deeply worried’ Republican, steps up for Joe Biden” via Peter Baker of The New York Times

Here’s how to have a problem-free Election Day in Broward and Palm Beach counties — which have reputations for chaos” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel 

George Soros, Disney, developers, charter schools: Who’s trying to buy your vote at the last minute?” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel

After one week of schools opening, COVID-19 has begun seeping into school buildings” via Danielle J. Brown of the Florida Phoenix

Top Ron DeSantis staff duped into no-bid COVID-19 testing deal with ‘con artist’” via Daniel Ducassi of The Florida Bulldog

Tourism numbers plummet in second quarter” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida

Quote of the Day


“I just don’t believe Joe Biden is strong enough to stand up and face these different challenges, not to mention elements of his own party that want to pull the country far, far to the left. And that’s why it’s important that he be challenged fairly in a debate so Americans can see whether or not he has that strength. I don’t think he does.” — U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, on Biden’s candidacy.

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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, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

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