Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 8.19.20

Sunburn Orange Tally (1)
Your morning review of the issues and players behind Florida politics.

Florida doesn’t have the best reputation when it comes to elections, but here’s a word for haters: chill.

The results from Tuesday’s primary came quickly, thoroughly, and without any obvious glitches. Take what good vibes you will from that as we head to November.

So, we say goodbye to U.S. Rep. Ross Spano, who was beaten by GOP rival Scott Franklin in the CD 15 primary. It was close; Franklin prevailed by about 1,500 votes. All of that makes one wonder how Spano, a first-term Congressman, would have fared if he didn’t have the baggage of an ethics investigation that he never was able to shake.

Scott Franklin celebrates his victory over U.S. Rep. Ross Spano in the Republican primary for Florida's 15th Congressional District. Image via the Scott Franklin campaign.
Scott Franklin celebrates his victory over U.S. Rep. Ross Spano in the Republican primary for Florida’s 15th Congressional District. Image via the Franklin campaign.

Franklin also had key endorsements from Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd and U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz. He now faces Democrat Alan Cohn in November. Cohn defeated Adam Hatterly in the Democratic primary.

Secretary of State Laurel Lee said that early returns pointed to a higher primary turnout than usual.

“We are in unprecedented times and what we have seen today has been an incredible exercise of cooperation between Florida voters, the poll workers, and the Supervisors of Election to ensure that Florida’s elections continued safely and securely across our state,” she said.


Reviewing my Primary Election predictions — What are the odds on a 26-team parlay? ✔️ Kat Cammack in CD 3, ✔️Leo Valentin in CD 7, ✔️Anna Paulina Luna in CD 13, ✔️Cohn and ✔️ Franklin in CD 15, ✔️Byron Donalds in CD 19, ✔️Laura Loomer in CD 21. ✔️RayRod in SD 27, ✔️Tina Polsky in SD 29, ✔️Shev Jones in SD 35, ✔️Javier Fernández in SD 39. ✔️Alex Andrade in HD 2, ✔️Patt Maney in HD 4, ✔️Joe Harding in HD 22, ✔️Webster Barnaby in HD 27, ✔️Fred Hawkins in HD 42, ✔️Randy Fine in HD 53, ✔️Kaylee Tuck in HD 55, ✔️Michelle Rayner in HD 70, ✔️Fiona McFarland in HD 72, ✔️Adam Botana in HD 76, ✔️Mike Giallombardo in HD 77, ✔️Jenna Persons in HD 78, ✔️Kelly Skidmore in HD 81, Loss – Rick Kozell in HD 82, ✔️Daniel Perez in HD 116. ✔️Lee Constantine wins reelection to Seminole County Commission.


Combined voter turnout higher than average for primary election, says Secretary of State Laurel Lee” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — Secretary of State Lee trumpeted Florida’s 2020 Primary Election as a success late Tuesday, noting early results indicate higher than average voter turnout this primary. “We are in unprecedented times and what we have seen today has been an incredible exercise of cooperation between Florida’s voters, the poll workers and the Supervisors of Election to ensure that Florida’s elections continued safely and securely across our state.” Speaking to reporters, Lee said in-person voter turnout Tuesday was ‘light to medium’ as expected by officials. Combined voter turnout, however, appears higher than average for a Primary Election. In all, the Division of Elections staff fielded more than 1,000 calls from Florida voters seeking assistance. Lee said only isolated challenges were experienced statewide.


Election Day ‘quiet’ after heavy mail-in voting” via Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida —Tuesday’s low-key voting took place as a record number of Floridians opted to cast their ballots by mail after elections officials encouraged voters to take advantage of the state’s no-excuse vote-by-mail system to curb the spread of COVID-19. “It’s been pretty quiet. That doesn’t mean that an individual wasn’t having an issue they needed to deal with, but it’s not been the normal flood of calls,” Liza McClenaghan, state chairwoman of Common Cause Florida, said. More than 2.2 million Floridians had voted by mail as of Tuesday morning, a nearly 72% increase from the 1.28 million votes cast by mail in the state’s 2016 primary elections, according to the Florida Division of Elections website.

Tuesday’s low-key voting took place as a record number of Floridians opted to cast their ballots by mail. Image via the News Service of Florida.


Florida Chamber-endorsed primary candidates win 21 of 23 races — The candidates getting Chamber support commit to “free enterprise principles and job creation for local businesses” as well as reforming the state’s legal system. “The Florida Chamber has a long-standing reputation of endorsing incumbents and candidates who unite Florida’s business community to help make Florida more competitive,” said Mark Wilson, Chamber president and CEO. The winners include Senate candidates Jim Boyd and Rep. Ray Rodrigues; Reps. Andrade, Thad Altman, Randy Fine, Danny Perez, Scott Plakon, Spencer Roach, Jay Trumbull and Clay Yarborough, as well as candidates Kristen Arrington, Christopher Benjamin, Botana, Tom Fabricio, Mike Giallombardo, Fred Hawkins, Lauren Melo, Jenna Persons, Bruno Portigliatti, Dana Trabulsy and Keith Truenow.


Florida Democratic Party celebrates record number of mail ballots, early voting — FDP chair Terrie Rizzo pointed to Donald Trump’s decision to spread “dangerous disinformation” about the effectiveness of voting by mail, which “clearly made an impression” on Republicans. “No one should feel the need to choose between their health or their right to vote,” Rizzo said in a statement. “That’s why we will continue to emphasize that voting by mail is a safe and secure way to make your voice heard.”


AFP congratulates Byron Donalds, Ray Rodrigues, Lauren Melo for primary wins — Americans for Prosperity’s main political committee, AFP Action, congratulated state Rep. Donalds for his win in the packed primary for Florida’s 19th Congressional District on Tuesday night. The group also gave a nod to state Rep. Rodrigues and Lauren Melo for winning their primaries for the state Legislature. The PAC backed all three in their respective races. AFP Action said their victories “demonstrate that Floridians are eager to back candidates who will remove barriers standing in the way of improving their lives. These principled candidates’ commitment to keeping more money in Floridians’ pockets, advancing common-sense health care solutions, increasing educational opportunity for every student, and making our criminal justice system smarter on crime will help tackle our state and country’s biggest challenges.”


Equality Florida celebrates ‘huge primary victories’ — “This has been a big, big night with history-making wins by Black LGBTQ candidates and voters tossing out anti-LGBTQ incumbents all across the state. Jones became the first Black gay man elected to the Florida Senate and Rayner became the first Black queer woman elected to the Florida House,” said equality Florida executive director Nadine Smith. “And in a total repudiation of anti-LGBTQ lawmakers, infamous homophobe Rep. Mike Hill lost his primary in Pensacola as did Rep. Kimberly Daniels in Jacksonville and Rep. Al Jaquet in Broward. In an era of racist rhetoric from Trump, the election of openly LGBTQ Black candidates is an inspiration for everyone who values equality and justice.”


NextGen Florida touts record youth turnout in primary — NextGen Florida, the organization created to flip Florida for the Democrats, is announcing a “historic number of young voters turning out and voting by mail.” The group, founded by California billionaire Tom Steyer, celebrated “National Vote-By-Mail Day” by sending over 870,000 texts and making 10,000 phone calls to young Florida voters in a single day. For the 2020 election cycle so far, NexGen Florida has 30 paid staff members, 955 total volunteers, developed programs on 29 college campuses, made 277,256 phone calls and sent almost 1,072,000 texts. “Our historic turnout is another sign that we are fired up to flip the Sunshine State,” said Justin Atkins, state director for NextGen Florida.


Happening today — GrayRobinson is hosting a post-primary election virtual pop-up forum with a look at “Who’s In and Who’s Out” from Tuesday’s primary election. Moderated by Senior Government Affairs Consultant Kim McDougal, the featured presenters include Chris Carmody, Chris Dawson, Katie Flury, Jessica Love, Joseph Salzverg and Robert Stuart. The forum begins at 3 p.m., with further information here.


@Mike_Pence: S&P 500 closed at a RECORD high today, fully wiping out its losses from the Coronavirus! This is the great American comeback!

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:

@DaveWeigel: The speed of this Florida count is a good omen for November. People need to freak out about “election month” and “no winner until January???” in order to adjust to covid, but if the states actually adjust, we can get a winner pretty fast.

Tweet, tweet:


@MDixon55: Roughly 20,000 voters in Miami-Dade used the drop off sites during early voting period to return mail ballots So, not an insignificant number using the drop sites in one of Florida’s most important counties

@Daniel_Sweeny: Some incredible results in Broward County tonight. Black Lives Matter, matters. If you were young and/or Black, you probably whooped your opponent. And money bought you very little. In hugely crowded state atty. and SOE races, the well-financed candidates lost big.

@ElectionSmith: Put in a 14 hour day working the polls. Extremely gratifying work alongside seven dedicated co-workers. Humbling how much they know and how much they care about helping every registered voter cast a valid ballot. Clad in PPE and social distancing, COVID-19 had nothing on us.

@JeffBurlew: Today’s primary got weird in #Tallahassee. A naked man showed up at a polling site. Power went out at five others. Storms blew down a drop-off mail ballot tent & set off fire alarms and sprinklers at the Civic Center. “It was quite the election to remember,” said SOE Mark Earley.

@Schindy: one bright spot from mind-numbing election results work? finally, know how to spell precinct

@AnaCeballos_: some personal news: I’m thrilled to be joining the @MiamiHerald‘s Capitol bureau team in Tallahassee starting Sept. 8. I’m eternally grateful to the @newsservicefla and their amazing staff, and can’t wait for this next chapter.


Regal Cinemas reopen in U.S. — 2; Indy 500 rescheduled — 4; Republican National Convention begins in Charlotte — 5; NBA draft lottery — 6; Rev. Al Sharpton’s D.C. March — 10; U.S. Open begins — 12; Christopher Nolan‘s “Tenet” rescheduled premiere in U.S. — 15; Rescheduled running of the Kentucky Derby — 17; Rescheduled date for French Open — 32; First presidential debate in Indiana — 41; “Wonder Woman” premieres — 44; Preakness Stakes rescheduled — 45; Ashley Moody’s 2020 Human Trafficking Summit — 48; First vice presidential debate at the University of Utah — 49; NBA season ends (last possible date) — 54; Second presidential debate scheduled at Miami — 57; NBA draft — 58; Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” premieres — 58; NBA free agency — 61; Florida Chamber’s Future of Florida Forum — 62; Third presidential debate at Belmont — 64; 2020 General Election — 76; “Black Widow” premieres — 80; NBA 2020-21 training camp — 82; College basketball season slated to begin — 83; Florida Automated Vehicles Summit — 93; “No Time to Die” premieres — 93; NBA 2020-21 opening night — 106; Super Bowl LV in Tampa — 172; “A Quiet Place Part II” rescheduled premiere — 184; “Top Gun: Maverick” rescheduled premiere — 317; New start date for 2021 Olympics — 338; “Jungle Cruise” premieres — 345; “Spider-Man Far From Home” sequel premieres — 443; “Thor: Love and Thunder” premieres — 541; “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” premieres — 583; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 625; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” sequel premieres — 778.


Kat Cammack wins Republican nomination in CD 3” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Cammack won the Republican primary for Florida’s 3rd Congressional District on Tuesday night with about 25% of the vote. There are still votes to count, but Cammack leads in all six counties that make up CD 3. In Bradford, Clay, Marion and Union counties, where all votes have been counted, she is up 2,352 votes over Judson Sapp, her closest competitor. She was also up by about 2,000 votes in Alachua with 47 of 63 precincts reporting and led by about 50 votes in Putnam, where 30 of 35 precincts were reporting. With the Republican nomination secured, Cammack is the odds-on favorite to succeed U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho in the North Central Florida seat. The CD 3 Republican primary was the most crowded in the state with 10 candidates making the ballot, however only a few managed to gain traction in the sprawling district.

Congratulations to Kat Cammack, taking the large GOP field in CD 3.

—“Al Lawson wins Congressional primary, will face GOP candidate in November” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat

Leo Valentin squeaks out close win in CD 7 Republican primary” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Valentin appeared on his way Tuesday evening to winning the Republican nomination to run for Congress in Florida’s 7th Congressional District, beating Richard Goble by a slim margin. With all votes counted, Valentin took one-point victories over Goble in both Seminole County, where about two-thirds of voters live, and in Orange County. In Seminole County, Valentin took 38% to Goble’s 37%, and in Orange, Valentin took 39% to Goble’s 38%. A third candidate, Yukong Zhao, was pulling 23% of the votes in Orange and 24% in Seminole. The win pits Valentin, an Orlando radiologist, against two-term Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park. “I’m excited to be the Republican nominee to take on @SMurphyCongress,” Valentin tweeted Tuesday night. “We need innovation and a fresh perspective in Congress now more than ever. As a doctor and CDO of a hospital, I’m ready to fight the career politicians, protect local economies & strengthen our communities.”

—“Bill Posey eases toward reelection in CD 8” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

Bill Olson wins shot at Darren Soto in CD 9” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Olson took the long course to the Republican primary victory Tuesday night to run for Congress in Florida’s 9th Congressional District. Olson, the first of four Republicans to file to run in CD 9 when he entered in March 2019, put together the only serious campaign and raised the only serious money. And in the end voters across Osceola County, southern Orange County, and eastern Polk County said they like what they see. Olson, of Davenport, easily defeated Jose Castillo, Sergio Ortiz and Chris Wright in Tuesday’s Republican primary. With the vast majority of precincts reporting in each county, Olson had a 16-point lead over Wright in Orange, a 26-point lead over Wright in Osceola, and a 19-point lead over Wright in Polk. The other two candidates were well back of Wright.

Anna Paulina Luna edges Amanda Makki for CD 13 GOP nomination, will face incumbent Charlie Crist in November” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Luna will take on incumbent Charlie Crist in the November General Election for a shot at Florida’s 13th Congressional District. Luna defeated GOP establishment favorite Makki with 36% of the vote. Makki earned 29%. The two faced off in a nail-bitter election Tuesday night “Pinellas Republicans affirmed what they told me on the campaign trail: they are ready for patriotic public servants and are done with career politicians and insiders,” she said. In response to Luna’s win, Makki, while disappointed in the results, made clear the common goal — oust Crist. Despite polling numbers originally predicting an easy victory for Makki, Luna garnered significant support in the critical stretch leading up to the primary.

Tweet, tweet:

Scott Franklin ousts Ross Spano in CD 15, will take on Alan Cohn in November” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Spano will officially be a one-term Congressman. Spano lost the GOP primary Tuesday to Franklin, who squeaked by Spano by about 1,500 votes. Spano carried Hillsborough County with 57% of the vote and Lake County with 52%, but Franklin overwhelmingly carried Polk County where he serves with 62% of the vote. Now, Franklin faces Rep. Cohn in the Nov. 3 General Election. Cohn, a former investigative journalist, defeated Hattersley, who replaced Spano in Florida House 59 in 2018, in the Democratic primary, carrying all three counties the district spans: Hillsborough, Polk and Lake. Franklin’s victory wasn’t entirely unexpected, but defeating an incumbent in a primary is typically a herculean task. Spano made it easier though, as he was haunted by a 2018 campaign finance screw up.

Byron Donalds pulls out win in pricey CD 19 Republican primary” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Donalds held a narrow lead over fellow Rep. Dane Eagle in a nine-person primary in Florida’s 19th Congressional District. With all precincts reporting, Donalds was up with 22.56% of the vote to Eagle’s 21.87%; the two were separated by 719 votes. Fast-food mogul Casey Askar trailed with 19.98% and Dr. William Figlesthaler took 18.37%. Those four topped a nine-Republican field of candidates. The winner of the primary will face off against Florida Gulf Coast University professor Cindy Banyai, who defeated financial adviser and 2018 Democratic nominee David Holden in the Democratic primary. The Republican primary results close out a nail-biter GOP primary notable for becoming bitterly negative and prohibitively expensive, one that almost seemed destined for a recount.

Fake video and text messages in race for Rooney seat come out on Election Day; Byron Donalds cries foul” via the Naples Daily News staff reports

Controversial activist Laura Loomer now GOP standard-bearer in CD 21” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Loomer is going from right-wing social media star to congressional candidate after securing a win Tuesday night in Florida’s 21st Congressional District. Loomer will now face incumbent Democratic Rep. Lois Frankel in the General Election after Frankel easily dispatched Guido Weiss in the Democratic primary. Loomer was part of a six-person contest for the GOP nod. Also running were Palm Beach State College professor Christian Acosta, exotic animal advocate Elizabeth Felton, Air Force veteran Aaron Scanlan, the QAnon supporting Reba Sherrill and former IRS criminal investigator Michael Vilardi. With approximately 60% of precincts reporting, Loomer was well ahead with 42% of the vote to Acosta’s 25%. In third was Vilardi at 12%, followed by Scanlan at 9%, Felton at 7% and Sherrill at 3%.


—“Florida Senate leaders get primary night sweep” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida

Battle for SD 9 set between Patricia Sigman, Jason Brodeur” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Although she had much of the party’s leadership behind her, Democrat Sigman has battled for months to win the faith and confidence of Senate District 9 Democratic voters, and on Tuesday that paid off. Sigman won the SD 9 Democratic primary against four opponents who had struggled to turn their own constituencies and grassroots supporters into large enough coalitions to overcome her well-funded, professionally run campaign. They also received some support in recent weeks from a mysterious dark-money PAC that spent $163,000 on ads attacking Sigman. Sigman, a labor and employment lawyer from Longwood, won easily anyway. She picked up more than 50% of the vote in Tuesday’s primary in both Seminole and Volusia counties, no other competitor topped 15%.

Tweet, tweet:

Ray Rodrigues defeats Heather Fitzenhagen in SD 27 in dominating fashion” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Rep. Rodrigues looks as if he’ll be crossing the Capitol from the House to the Senate. Totals in Senate District 27 show the Estero Republican winning against Rep. Fitzenhagen in the Republican primary. With all votes counted, he won almost 75% of the vote to Fitzenhagen’s 25%. The winner of the primary will face Democrat Rachel Brown in the general election. “We’re just going to keep doing what we’ve been doing,” Rodrigues said. “That’s fighting for the conservative values we believe represent not only the Republican Party but where the majority of Lee County is.”

Shevrin Jones wins jam-packed Senate District 35 Democratic primary race” via Samantha J. Gross of the Miami Herald — Despite campaign smears and attacks targeting his sexuality, Jones, one of the Florida Legislature’s few openly gay lawmakers, came out successful in one of the most crowded, competitive and closely watched primary races and onto an inside track to replace term-limited Sen. Oscar Braynon representing Senate District 35 in Tallahassee. Jones appeared to be the early winner with a comfortable margin of more than 28 percentage points over the closest challenger, state Rep. Barbara Watson, Tuesday night. Jones beat out three Tallahassee veterans as well as Miami Gardens Councilman Erhabor Ighodaro and retired firefighter Wilbur Harbin in the crowded race.

Shevrin Jones takes a big step toward Senate District 35.

Javier Fernández wins Democratic nomination in SD 39” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Fernández is now the Democratic nominee in Senate District 39, setting up a high-powered showdown with GOP Rep. Ana Maria Rodriguez in the General Election. Fernández defeated Daniel Horton-Diaz in Tuesday night’s primary contest. With 50% of precincts reporting, Fernández led Horton-Diaz 59%-41%. “As the son of a schoolteacher who raised four children on her own, I saw every day what true sacrifice looks like. I also saw how our community rallied together in times of need and I vowed to do all I could to give back to a country that had given us so much. Tonight is another step forward on that journey,” Fernández said Tuesday. Fernández was the favorite among donors and Democrats, but he still faced an at-times rocky road through the primary campaign.


Speaker-Designate Chris Sprowls congratulates primary winners — “Tonight’s primary election has drawn a stark contrast between our Florida Republicans, who are focused on the needs of our fellow Floridians, and our Democrat opponents, who are looking to import the toxic politics of Washington D.C. to Tallahassee,” Sprowls said in a statement. “Florida Republicans are singularly focused on guiding our state through the ravages of COVID-19 and back to the strong economic growth and fiscal responsibility. While the Democrats look to impose an ideological purity test, our Republican candidates around the state have been talking about good jobs, good schools and creating a pathway to prosperity for all Floridians. Floridians want common-sense leaders who understand how to solve problems.”

Michelle Salzman unseats Mike Hill in HD 1” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Salzman managed to give Hill the boot in the Republican primary for House District 1, defeating him with 53% of the vote in a two-way race. When Salzman entered the race a year ago, her candidacy was seen as a long shot. But Hill’s penchant for acerbic, divisive comments brought the support of notable Northwest Florida Republicans such as former Senate President Don Gaetz and former Rep. Frank White to Salzman’s campaign in droves. As her fundraising numbers soared, Hill’s dried up. By Election Day, she had outraised him $98,000 to $88,000 and outspent him by a $15,000 margin. Salzman’s campaign had a strong close, earning endorsements from the Florida Medical Association and posting a five-figure report for the last week of July and another for the first couple weeks of August.

To the relief of many, Mike Hill has been unseated from HD 1.

Alex Andrade defeats Cris Dosev with 21-point lead in primary election” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — In one of Pensacola’s most contentious races of the 2020 primary, Andrade won against Dosev for the Republican nomination for the Florida House District 1 seat. Andrade’s margin of victory Tuesday night was with a 21-point lead over Dosev with a vote total of 9,446 to 5,998, according to the preliminary election results. The race between Andrade and Dosev became personal between the two candidates as both exchanged barbs on social media with other candidates’ supporters and with each other at candidate forums and outside an early voting location. Andrade got the backing of Ron DeSantis and Gaetz in the primary.

Patt Maney crosses his largest electoral hurdle in HD 4 bid” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Retired Okaloosa County Judge Maney emerged Tuesday with the Republican nomination in the House District 4 primary. With 46 of 47 precincts reporting, Maney has won out in a congested four-way primary to succeed Rep. Mel Ponder, who skipped on the chance at a third term to run for Okaloosa County Commissioner. While Maney was the favorite leading into Election Day and a St. Pete Polls survey Thursday showed him ahead 10 points, Tuesday marked the retired judge’s largest hurdle in his bid for a seat in the House of Representatives. Republicans outnumber Democrats 81,000 to 28,000 in the Okaloosa County district, which encompasses the county’s coastal half.

Joe Harding bests Russ Randall in HD 22 primary” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The Williston business owner won the House District 22 Republican primary. He took the race over pastor Randall with 70% of the vote to Randall’s 30%. Harding now faces Democrat Barbara Byram in the General Election. Both Republicans entered the race this year as first-time candidates. Harding was well-versed on agriculture issues and focused on workforce education throughout his campaign.

Webster Barnaby easily wins Republican primary for HD 27” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Barnaby has won the Republican primary for House District 27, earning 43% of the vote with 37 out of 39 precincts reporting. After the results came in, Barnaby said he was “honored to have the overwhelming support of the hardworking people of Volusia County.” He now faces Democrat Dolores Guzman in November with the winner of the race determining the successor for outgoing Republican Rep. David Santiago, who is leaving office due to term limits. Barnaby is near certain to succeed Santiago. HD 27 has a strong Republican lean, granting Santiago a fourth term by 10 points in the 2018 cycle.

Tracie Davis reelected, but voters send Kim Daniels home” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Davis in HD 13 and Daniels in HD 14, two Jacksonville Democrats, each backed each other’s opponents in this year’s primaries, a sign of a fractured working relationship. With the votes counted, it looks like they will not have to learn to work together after all. With 43 of 47 precincts in, Davis leads underfunded challenger Cynthia Smith in the HD 13 contest, with 65% of the vote. But Daniels is poised to lose her own race. With 30 of 39 precincts in, opponent Angie Nixon has a 20 point lead. HD 13 was an open primary, in which independent voters and Republicans could choose between the two Democrats. Despite the closed HD 14 contest, there was evidence that change was coming, with Daniels and Nixon both raising more than $100,000, as Democrats locally and statewide wanted to unseat the nondoctrinaire Democrat, and succeeded.

Fred Hawkins rolls in House District 42 race despite arrest” via Gary White of The Lakeland Ledger — Hawkins, recently removed from the Osceola County Commission and facing a November trial, easily captured the Republican primary in Florida House District 42. Hawkins, a St. Cloud resident, captured just over 47% of the vote, far more than any of his three rivals in the district that includes eastern Polk County and part of Osceola County. He will face Democrat Barbara Cady of Lake Wales in the Nov. 3 general election. Hawkins has served on the Osceola County Commission since 2008. But DeSantis recently removed him from that position following Hawkins’ arrest in July on charges of impersonating an officer. The arrest stemmed from an altercation in November 2019 with a security guard at a meeting of a homeowners association in Kissimmee.

Despite an arrest and pending trial, Fred Hawkins wins his race for HD 42. Image via Orlando Sentinel. 

Kristen Arrington wins HD 43 seat in six-way Democratic primary” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Kissimmee business consultant Kristen Arrington has been elected to the Florida House of Representatives after winning a six-way Democratic primary election Tuesday night. There are no Republicans or other candidates. So she is in. Arrington, wife of Osceola County Commissioner Brandan Arrington and daughter-in-law to Osceola County Supervisor of Elections Mary Jane Arrington, is a veteran campaign consultant who has spent 10 years helping direct or assist other candidates campaigns, and this time directing herself into the Florida House of Representatives. Arrington drew 31% of the vote, compared to 21% for Alex Barrio. Carlos L. Irizarry Sr., Horng “Andrew” Jeng, Tamika Lyles, and former stat Rep. Ricardo Rangel each finished with 11% or less of the vote.

—“Geraldine Thompson, Bruno Portigliatti advance in HD 44 contest” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

—“Daisy Morales wins HD 48 Democratic primary” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

—“Thad Altman, Randy Fine roll primary challengers” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

—“Michael Owen will take on Andrew Learned in HD 59 after narrow win over Danny Kushmer” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics

Michele Rayner will replace Wengay Newton in HD 70 with a win over three Democrats in the open primary” via Margo Snipe of the Tampa Bay Times — Rayner, a local civil rights attorney, will represent District 70 in the Florida House with no challenger on the Republican side in the general election on Nov. 3. Rayner will be one of the first openly LGBTQ women of color elected to Florida’s Legislature. “It really has been a people-powered campaign,” said Rayner, who said she sees her victory as “pushing back on patriarchy.” “We ran with integrity. We ran with transparency and we ran with accountability.” Rayner won with about 30% of the vote in a crowded race against three opponents. Trailing behind by about 1,000 votes was Keisha Bell. Next was Michelle Grimsley, a former legislative aid to current House District 70 Rep. Wengay Newton, who also endorsed her. Mark Oliver, a first-generation college student and a disability rights advocate, came in at just under 20% of the vote.


—“Bobby DuBose, Dotie Joseph stave off primary challenges and secure reelection” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

Kelly Skidmore favored to return to the House after winning HD 81 Democratic primary” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Skidmore will likely return to the House in the fall after winning the Democratic nomination in House District 81. Skidmore defeated attorney Michael Weinstein. While Palm Beach County is still tallying votes, Skidmore leads by a 52%-48% margin. Two Republicans, Saulis Banionis and Silmo Moura, qualified for the contest as well. Banionis currently holds a 61%-39% margin over Moura. With Democrats owning a nearly 19-percentage point advantage over Republicans in voter registration in the district, Skidmore is likely to prevail in the Nov. 3 general election. Weinstein drew the ire of local Democrats at multiple points throughout the campaign. Palm Beach County Tax Collector Anne Gannon accused Weinstein of lobbing sexist attacks at Skidmore.

Kelly Skidmore survives the primary; it’s now on to November. Image via Facebook

John Snyder survives expensive Republican primary contest in HD 82” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Snyder is moving on after a three-way Republican primary in House District 82 where all three candidates spent big bucks in search of the seat. Snyder defeated former Rep. Carl Domino and lawyer Kozell. HD 82 spans parts of Palm Beach and Martin counties, including Jupiter, Indiantown and Hobe Sound. With 100% of Martin precincts reporting and a partial tally reported in Palm Beach County, Snyder is receiving 59% of the vote. Kozell is second with 29%, followed by Domino at 12%. Republican Rep. MaryLynn Magar is facing term limits in 2020. Snyder currently serves as the vice chairman of the Martin County Republican Party.

Omari Hardy ousts Al Jacquet in HD 88 Democratic primary” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Hardy defeated Jacquet after Jacquet faced multiple controversies in the House District 88 contest. The five-person field also included radio host Philippe “Bob” Louis Jeune, lawyer Sienna Osta and former Riviera Beach Councilman Cedrick Thomas. With partial results reported in Palm Beach County, Hardy was receiving 42% of the vote to Jacquet’s 27%. Thomas received 20% support, followed by Osta at 9% and Jeune at 3%. Jacquet’s final financial reports showed he spent $0 on his reelection bid despite holding close to $40,000 in his campaign account. The report perplexingly does not include Jacquet’s filing fee, which he claims to have paid from his campaign account. Hardy filed a complaint alleging that payment came from Jacquet’s personal funds, which violates Florida election law.

Omari Hardy has dispatched Al Jaquet to advance to November.

Marie Woodson looks to succeed Shevrin Jones after emerging from HD 101 Democratic primary” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Woodson is moving onto the General Election after securing the Democratic nomination in House District 101. Woodson topped West Park Vice Mayor Brian C. Johnson as well as Pembroke Park Mayor Ashira Mohammed. Woodson ended the night with 37% of the vote in a tightly contested race. Johnson finished second at 33%, followed by Mohammed at 30%. Jones has represented House District 101 for the past eight years. He endorsed Johnson in the HD 101 Democratic primary more than a year ago in June 2019.

—“Tom Fabricio tops Nelson Rodriguez in HD 103 GOP primary” via Florida Politics staff reports

—“Robin Bartleman wins in HD 104 Democratic primary” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

Maureen Porras secures Democratic nod in HD 105, advances to General Election” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Porras is advancing to the general election and will seek the seat held by GOP Rep. Ana Maria Rodriguez. With 43% of precincts reporting, Porras led Democrat Javier Estevez by a 64%-36% margin. Estevez previously ran for the seat in 2018. That year, he was a political newcomer whose day job involved helping run an American Eagle store on Lincoln Road. He was running for an open seat previously held by Republicans and was outspent by more than 20-to-1 in the General Election. Estevez came within 417 votes of winning the House District 105 seat. In 2020, he came back for another try but fell short in the Democratic primary this time around.

—“Bruno Barreiro gets shot at Nick Duran after GOP primary victory in HD 112” via Florida Politics

—“Jean-Pierre Bado holds narrow advantage in HD 114 Democratic primary” via Florida Politics

Daniel Perez defeats José Oliva-backed challenger in HD 116 primary” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Republican Rep. Daniel Perez fended off primary challenger Gabriel Garcia on Tuesday night, earning 59% of the vote in the head-to-head race. Perez, who is set to become House Speaker for the 2024-26 term, now moves on to face Democratic nominee Bob Lynch in the general election for House District 116, which will likely be an easier contest for the incumbent. The Republican primary for HD 116 was expected to be a sleepy affair until House Speaker Oliva weighed in with hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions to a committee smearing Perez as a “disgrace” to the Republican party. Though Oliva’s venture into astroturfing failed, it did make for a costly primary on both sides.

—“Three-way GOP primary in HD 120 too close to call” via Florida Politics


Kaylee Tuck beats Ned Hancock in not-that-close HD 55 primary” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Tuck solidly defeated Hancock in the House District 55 GOP primary. With all votes reported, Tuck won all four counties in the rural district, ultimately taking with 56% of the vote to Hancock’s 44%. Tuck now faces Democrat Linda Tripp in November, but it’s expected to be a lopsided race with a strong GOP advantage. The Highlands citrus rancher and the Sebring lawyer both filed last June to succeed Rep. Cary Pigman in the Republican district. In the months since they have traveled around the four largely rural counties looking for votes. As for Tuck, the young lawyer who graduated from Stetson University College of Law in 2018 campaigned as a millennial conservative determined to show a different side of her generation than national figures like U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat.

Kaylee Tuck’s victory wasn’t even close.

Fiona McFarland narrowly wins in HD 72 GOP primary” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Final results showed McFarland beating Sarasota Charter Review Board member Donna Barcomb and Sarasota attorney Jason Miller. McFarland won with 43.25% of the vote to Barcomb’s 41.76%, while Miller so far has nabbed 14.99%. With 100% of the vote in, McFarland won by 266 votes out of 17,779 cast. McFarland heads now to the General Election against Democrat Drake Buckman. “The work is just beginning,” she said. But Buckman plans to fight. “I will be here long after Fiona McFarland has moved on to another location.”

Adam Botana scoots past Jason Maughan in HD 76 GOP primary” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — In the closely watched GOP primary in House District 76, business Adam Botana defeated Sanibel City Councilman Jason Maughan. Botana won with almost 60% of the vote to Maughan’s 41%. He’ll face Democrat Anselm Weber in November. Republicans hold a distinct edge in voter registration in the Southwest Florida seat, giving Botana an advantage in the General Election. “We have just been working really hard and we will keep on pushing all the way through November,” Botana said. “I had a great staff, I thank my parents, who were big supporters, and the voters. You can tell it’s a pretty big victory.”

Mike Giallombardo wins war of vets in HD 77via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — National Guardsman Giallombardo took out fellow veteran Bryan Blackwell in the House District 77 GOP primary Tuesday. With all ballots counted in the Cape Coral district show Giallombardo with 54% of the vote and Blackwell with 46%. The race has been one of the region’s more uncertain primaries at times. In many ways, the race has pegged the Lee County political establishment against a network of businesses. Giallombardo, whose campaign was managed by top Lee County consultant Terry Miller, enjoys support from outgoing Rep. Dane Eagle as well as other politicos in the region including Senate candidate Ray Rodrigues and State Attorney Amira Fox.

Mike Giallombardo wins the war of the vets in HD 77.

Jenna Persons cruises to victory in HD 78” via Jacob Ogles at Florida Politics — Fort Myers lawyer Jenna Persons won after a bruising GOP primary in HD 78. She beat both foundation leader Roger Lolly and pharmaceutical consultant Charlie Lynch. With all votes in the district counted, she had 59% of the vote compared to Lolly’s 26% with Lynch in third with 15%. “I’m honored to be the Republican nominee and will continue to work hard to earn the trust of the good folks in House District 78 to represent this great community in the Florida House,” Persons said. “I’m grateful for our grassroots team of friends and neighbors.” Persons now faces Democrat Shawn Michael Williams in November.

Lauren Melo takes HD 80 Republican primaryvia Jacob Ogles of Florida PoliticsRealtor and Motocross racer Melo rushed past Republican primary opponents in the House District 80 contest. Melo won with 58% vote to Drew-Montez Clark‘s 30% and Victor Dotres 12%, with mail ballots in and 19 of 34 precincts reporting. Melo will now face Democrat Laura Novosad in the General Election. Her victory comes as little shock. Melo, chair of the Naples Area Board of Realtors, jumped into the contest in February and quickly picked up Donalds’ endorsement. Sen. Kathleen Passidomo and Rep. Bob Rommel, both Naples Republicans, also threw their support behind Melo early.


Few hiccups on primary Election Day in South Florida as voters turn out to cast ballots” via Erin Doherty, Haley Lerner, Meghan Bobrowsky and Daniel Chang of the Miami Herald — In what may have been a dress rehearsal for November’s general election, Tuesday’s primary contests under the cloud of a pandemic ran relatively smoothly in South Florida, with only a few reported hiccups preventing voters from casting a ballot in person. Some voters were frustrated that they could not hand deliver a mail-in ballot at their local precinct, as had been allowed during early voting, and instead were required to drop off their ballot at a designated secure dropbox. Others were confused by the recent relocation of their polling place. And still others were told to come back later after their local precinct had run out of paper ballots. But overall the voters who turned out at the more than 1,400 precincts in Miami-Dade and Broward on Tuesday said it was a personal imperative to cast a ballot in person.

Sheriff Gregory Tony declares victory over predecessor Scott Israel” via Skylar Swisher of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Tony declared victory Tuesday night in a bitterly fought race against Israel that featured relentless back-and-forth attacks. Tony led Israel by about 4,000 votes as of 10 p.m. in the Democratic primary with 567 of 577 precincts reporting. Four other candidates rounded out the crowded contest that turned nasty as the front-runners jostled for the lead. “I am deeply honored that Democratic voters have chosen me to lead the Broward Sheriff’s Office into a brighter, safer future,” Tony said in a prepared statement. “We’ve come a long way in the last 18 months, but there is still much work to be done. Together, we’re reforming the Sheriff’s Office, promoting good deputies and keeping our communities safer by embracing police reform.” Israel had not conceded defeat.

Gregory Tony has defeated his predecessor Scott Israel.

Voters want political newcomer as Broward elections supervisor and pick Link to run Palm Beach County elections” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — After decades of major election embarrassments and minor election snafus that left many wondering about the security and safety of balloting, Broward voters decided Tuesday they wanted generational change. But almost three hours after the polls closed, it wasn’t clear exactly who would represent that generational change. Joe Scott and Chad Klitzman were in a too-close-to-call race for the top spot in a six-candidate race for the Democratic nomination for the job. Ironically, given the job they’re seeking, the Scott-Klitzman race could be headed toward a recount. They were separated by 0.22% of the vote shortly before 10 p.m.

—“Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert III holds narrow lead in District 1 Miami-Dade County Commission contest” via Florida Politics

—“Recount likely in Broward Supervisor of Elections contest” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

— “Debbi Hixon, widow of Parkland coach, faces runoff for Broward School Board seat” via Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Richard DeNapoli reelected as Florida GOP State Committeeman DeNapoli won a decisive victory for reelection as Broward County Republican Committeeman, taking nearly 64% of the vote in a six-way field. He is a practicing attorney and Certified Financial Planner in South Florida and serves as chief trust officer of a Florida-based trust company. DeNapoli, who had been a GOP State Committeeman since 2016, is also a Broward Soil & Water Conservation District Supervisor.

Despite criticism, top Miami prosecutor Katherine Fernández Rundle wins in resounding fashion” via David Ovalle of the Miami Herald — After 27 years in office, Miami-Dade State Attorney Fernández Rundle is getting four more. Despite withering attacks from opponents over her record on police-shooting cases, voters on Tuesday delivered Fernández Rundle a resounding victory, giving her a seventh elected term as Miami-Dade’s top law-enforcement officer. By 9 p.m., with early and absentee votes counted and 80% of precincts tallied, Fernández Rundle led with 61% of the vote. Fernández Rundle bested Melba Pearson, a former Miami-Dade prosecutor who ran on a campaign of criminal-justice reform. Both are Democrats. The state attorney won despite bruising criticism, including from leadership within the local Democratic Party, over her record during nearly three decades in office.

Despite a wave of negative criticism, Katherine Fernandez Rundle resoundingly wins reelection.

Runoffs abound in Miami-Dade County Commission contests” via Florida Politics staff reports — Miami City Council member Keon Hardemon, looks like he’ll just miss the ability to avoid a runoff. With 98% of precincts reporting, Hardemon has 49% of the vote, just shy of the majority he needed to secure the seat Tuesday. Commissioner Eileen Higgins and Renier Diaz de la Portilla are headed to a November runoff. With 92% of precincts reporting, Higgins earned 47% of the vote to 40% for Diaz de la Portilla. Another race, another runoff as former Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner and former Miami-Dade Public Schools Board member Raquel Regalado both found a generous fundraising base in their race to replace Xavier Suarez in District 7. Former Sen. Rene Garcia, who was forced to bow out of the Senate in 2018 due to term limits, emerged as the dominant figure in this district. His rival, political newcomer Adrian Jesus Jimenez, didn’t put up much of a fight Tuesday. Garcia topped him 77%-23%.

—“Palm Beach Sheriff Ric Bradshaw a clear winner in Democratic primary” via Eileen Kelley of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Want to be a politician? This Miami-Dade village doesn’t have enough candidates” via Aaron Liebowitz of the Miami Herald — El Portal, a landlocked village of about 2,400 residents in northeast Miami-Dade County, is no stranger to political upheaval in recent years: A legal battle with its fired police chief. An investigation into its FEMA submissions. The abrupt resignation of one councilman. The arrest of another. But the latest twist is perhaps as significant as any for the village’s ability to function: No one, except for three incumbent council members, wants to run for office. By last Friday’s filing deadline, only those three candidates had filed to run for five seats in the Nov. 3 election. Vice Mayor Omarr Nickerson will run unopposed for mayor. Councilmen Anders Urbom and Luis Pirela will keep their seats. But two other seats will be empty until the village can hold a special election to fill them and find at least two residents willing to serve. Until then, all it will take is one absence at a council meeting to prevent the five-person body from achieving the quorum it needs to govern.


Nicole Wilson defeats Betsy VanderLey in Orange Commission race; Uribe reelected; Bonilla tries to avoid runoff” via Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel — Voters in west Orange County ousted VanderLey on Tuesday, replacing the controversial incumbent with an environmental-law attorney who was making her first run for office. With 41 of 41 precincts reporting, Wilson defeated VanderLey 56.9% to 42.6%, a margin of nearly 6,000 votes. “People can’t buy elections,” said Wilson, who was dramatically outspent by VanderLey, who raised tens of thousands of dollars from development and tourism interests. “It means people pay attention, that they are engaged, that a grassroots, local movement still works.”

First-time candidate Nicole Wilson defeats controversial incumbent Betsy VanderLay for the Orange Commission seat.

Orange-Osceola state attorney race: Monique Worrell wins Democratic primary” via Monivette Cordeiro of the Orlando Sentinel — Riding the wave of $1.5 million in last-minute ads, Worrell beat out three Democratic candidates Tuesday night in a bid to replace outgoing Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala as the region’s top prosecutor. “Thank you to everyone who bet on me!” Worrell wrote on Facebook after her triumph. “You have no idea what this moment means for our state, to this movement and to me. This victory is for every brown girl who was told she couldn’t. Who was lied on. Who was told it wouldn’t happen. Who was told she was too inexperienced. Who had the doors shut just for God to open them right back up. This is for you.” Worrell clinched the nomination with nearly 43% of the vote in all precincts. Worrell, who has said her record as a criminal justice reform advocate stood alone above her opponents, pushed a platform focused on police accountability, mass incarceration and juvenile justice.

Byrd, Castor Dentel win reelection to Orange school board; Gould in runoff in November” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — Two incumbents won reelection to the Orange County School Board on Tuesday but a third faces a runoff in November after leading her three-way race but failing to secure more than 50% of the vote. The race to replace Kat Gordon, a 20-year veteran of the school board who did not seek reelection this year, also goes to the general election because that three-way contest also ended with no candidate winning the needed 50% plus one vote. The top two finishers, high school teacher Vicki-Elaine Felder and state representative Bruce Antone, will continue their campaigns for Gordon’s seat. Board members Melissa Byrd and Karen Castor Dentel both were returned to office in a crowded election field that had eleven candidates vying for four seats on the school board.

What Adam Babington is reading — “Amy Mercado ends Rick Singh’s reign as Orange County Property Appraiser” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Singh is out, after a controversial eight years in office in which he was the target of numerous scandal charges and during which he claimed he was able to make big property owners pay fairer shares of taxes. Mercado defeated Singh in a Democratic primary Tuesday. Mercado, a two-term state Representative who had been a leader in the Legislature’s progressive Democratic wing, had run a campaign pushing restoration of faith, trust, and accountability in the Property Appraiser’s office after Singh had weathered whistleblower complaints, lawsuits, and a state criminal investigation, among other scandals, during his reign. Tuesday night, Mercado took 60% of the vote to 32% for Singh and 8% for a third Democrat, business owner Khalid Muneer. She still must win the General Election in November, but it is only a formality. There are two write-in candidates who qualified for the ballot, forcing a November election.


Harry Cohen to take on Scott Levinson for Hillsborough County Commission after primary win” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Cohen will take on Levinson in the November General Election for the Hillsborough County Commission District 1 seat. Cohen defeated opponent Jen McDonald with 54.29% of the Democratic vote. Levinson took the Republican nomination with 55.6% of the vote against primary challenger Tony Morejon. Levinson’s victory comes as a surprise, Morejon leading the Republican primary in fundraising and as a county insider. The victory could prove vital for Democrats, as a fundraising standout, Cohen could alter the commission’s partisan makeup. The District 1 seat opened after current Republican Commissioner Sandy Murman faced term limits. Murman is now seeking the District 6 seat, running against fellow Commissioner and Democratic incumbent Pat Kemp in the General Election.

Harry Cohen is advancing to the general election for Hillsborough County Commission District 1.

Chad Chronister easily defeats Charles Boswell in GOP primary for Hillsborough Sheriff” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Chronister easily dispatched his Republican opponent in Tuesday’s Primary Election. Chronister claimed 67% of the vote over Boswell, who earned just 33% of the vote with mail ballots counted. The lead is too much for Boswell to overcome even with Election Day votes still to be counted. Chronister will now face Democrat Gary Pruitt and no-party-affiliated candidate Ron McMullen in the Nov. 3 General Election. Chronister flooded the primary with cash, spending more than $78,000 from his campaign account, compared to Boswell’s less than $49,000. Further, he spent another nearly $253,000 from his affiliated political committee, Friends of Chad Chronister. He also enjoyed more than $50,000 of in-kind support from various entities including nearly $40,000 from Edward DeBartolo and his DeBartolo Holdings. DeBartolo is Chronister’s father-in-law.

Incumbents roll to victory in Pasco school elections” via Jeffrey S. Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — Kurt Browning, Pasco County’s two-term incumbent superintendent, held off a furious challenge from veteran teacher and administrator David LaRoche in Tuesday’s Republican primary to run the school system for another four years. Despite a negative social media campaign against him, Browning won nearly two-thirds of the ballots with all but a handful counted, and next heads into the general election against Bayonet Point Middle teacher Cynthia Thompson, a no-party candidate. “I think that voters in Pasco County appreciate the change that we’ve brought to this district and the choices we’ve provided to families,” said Browning, who’s seeking a third term in office.

Rene Flowers wins Democratic primary for Pinellas County Commission District 7” via Tracey McManus of the Tampa Bay Times — Flowers bested two fellow political veterans on Tuesday in the Democratic primary for the open Pinellas County Commission District 7 seat. Flowers received more than half the 31,239 votes cast, defeating state Rep. Wengay Newton, who received about 33 percent, and the Rev. Frank Peterman Jr., who brought in about 15 percent, according to unofficial results. Flowers will face the no party affiliated Maria Scruggs and write-in candidate Anthony Hart in the general election to represent the district that covers south St. Petersburg, Gulfport, South Pasadena and Lealman. The Nov. 3 winner will succeed longtime District 7 commissioner Ken Welch, who is stepping down after 20 years to run for St. Petersburg mayor.

Incumbent Charles Thomas conquers Pinellas Tax Collector GOP primary” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Thomas will advance to the November General Election after defeating a former colleague in the Republican primary for Pinellas County Tax Collector. Thomas had a landslide win with 73.18% of the vote. The race pitted Thomas against a former employee: Joyell Bobala. Bobala spent 21 years in the office and worked under Thomas before resigning as tax supervisor in May. Thomas has served as Pinellas County Tax Collector since 2017, and worked as chief deputy tax collector for 16 years prior. The newly elected Republican nominee led the race in fundraising, raising nearly double his former subordinate. Thomas collected $84,885 in contributions, and Bobala just $35,524.

Lori Edwards breezes to new Supervisor of Elections term, Neil Combee ousts John Hall” via Kevin Bouffard of The Lakeland Ledger — Edwards breezed into her sixth term as the Polk County Supervisor of Elections while Combee won a tighter race to upset Hall in the contest for the lone County Commission seat on this year’s ballot. According to unofficial results reported Tuesday evening, Edwards captured 78,502 votes, or 77.7%, versus challenger Debbie Hannifan, who got 22,553 votes, or 22.3%. In the race for the District 5 commission seat, Combee tallied 50,708 votes, or 53.65%, against Hall, who posted 43,812 votes, or 46.35%, to win the seat. Both Edwards and Combee were elected to four-year terms in their respective government posts in the primary election.

Neil Combee took a slightly narrower win for Polk County Commissioner. 

William Allen ousts Billy Townsend, Lori Cunningham re-elected in Polk School Board races” via Kimberly Moore of The Ledger — Polk County voters leaned toward more conservative choices for the School Board on Tuesday, electing newcomer Allen and re-electing School Board Chairwoman Cunningham. Allen was speechless and emotional at his victory party at The Joinery in downtown Lakeland. Allen beat one of the School Board’s most outspoken members, Townsend, who prided himself on fighting for teachers’ rights and a more humane approach to teaching students, rather than what he called the “test and punish” system.

Shawn Foster wins as Florida GOP State Committeeman — Former U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis staffer Foster has won the race for Pasco County Republican Committeeman, defeating Randy Evans by nearly 12 percentage points — 56% to 44%. More than two dozen current and former elected officials endorsed Foster, including Bilirakis, incoming House Speaker Sprowls, Pasco Tax Collector Mike Fasano and County Sheriff Chris Nocco. Before working for Bilirakis, Foster was a senior legislative aide to then-Sen. Fasano.


Lee Sheriff Hillsborough County Commission District 1 wins GOP primary as he seeks first full-term” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Marceno won his first election, coming out on top in Tuesday’s Republican primary. He fended off a challenge from retired Major Jim Leavens after a race that often focused on personal issues around the Sheriff. He now will face independents Coach Ray and Carmen McKinney and Democrat Robert Neeld in the General Election. With all votes counted, Marceno won with 69% of the vote to Leavens 31%, with 83,035 ballots counted.

Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno could soon get his first full term.

Matt Caldwell a double winner in Lee County — Former state Rep. Caldwell, who ran unsuccessfully for Agriculture Commissioner in 2018, won contests for both Lee County Property Appraiser and Republican State Committeeman. Caldwell defeated opponent Matt Miller by nearly 19 points. A write-in candidate closed the Property Appraiser primary to only Republican voters. Caldwell won the race for GOP State Committeeman, defeating Chris Crowley by eight points. Ken Wilkinson, who served as Property Appraiser for four decades, announced he would not seek another term. Wilkinson then threw his support behind Caldwell.

Marco Islanders vote ‘yes’ to prohibit recreational marijuana within city limits” via Omar Rodríguez Ortiz of the Naples Daily News — The majority of Marco Island residents voted yes Tuesday to prohibit the cultivation, manufacturing, warehousing, distribution and sale of recreational marijuana within city limits, referendum results show. The “yes” option received 4,021 votes, or 68.9%, compared to “no” which received 1,814 votes, or 31.1%. The ordinance excludes medical marijuana and CBD products. CBD or cannabidiol is a nonintoxicating ingredient found in cannabis and hemp. Edgar “Ed” Issler, chair of the Ban Recreational Marijuana PAC, said the message of the voters is that they want to keep the sale of recreational marijuana off the island. The PAC collected enough signatures from registered voters to put the item on the ballot. “If it becomes legal in the state, Marco Islanders will be able to buy it outside of Marco,” he said.

— “In the night’s widest local margin, Abe Skinner wins Collier Appraiser in Rick Lussy rematch” via Phil Fernandez of the Naples Daily News

— “Ethics referendum passes with 62% support from voters in city of Naples” via Brittany Carloni of the Naples Daily News


Marcus Chambers retains superintendent seat in impressive fashion” via Tom McLaughlin of the NWF Daily News — Chambers was the clear choice of Okaloosa County residents to serve a full term in the job DeSantis appointed him to do back in January of 2019. Chambers defeated politically experienced Ray Sansom by a nearly 2 to 1 vote margin Tuesday to win the job. With 50 of 52 county precincts tallied, Chambers had received 27,349 votes to Sansom’s 14,200. Chambers has spent the last 20 months trying to repair the damage to the Okaloosa County School District done during the 7-year tenure of Mary Beth Jackson, who DeSantis suspended just days after being elected governor. The majority of voters must think he’s moving in the right direction, and he said with the election behind him, he intends to be “laser-focused” on getting schools successfully opened Aug. 31.

Jack Porter appears to have defeated Elaine Bryant in City Commission Seat 1 race” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — With all 87 precincts reporting, Porter appears to have defeated Bryant in a tough fought race. Porter took 50.57% of the vote to Bryant’s 41.17% of the vote with 37,846 total votes cast, according to unofficial results from the Leon County Supervisor of Elections Office. A candidate must win one vote more than 50% to avoid a runoff in a multiple-candidate race. Porter took to Facebook to thank her supporters. “With your help we did it,” she said. “I’m looking forward to putting the campaign stuff behind us and getting to work as your city commissioner elect.” She addressed the sitting commissioners and her opponent during a brief speech.

Congratulations to Jack Porter, who seems to have defeated Elaine Bryant for the Tallahassee City Council seat.

David Ramba secures four more years as Leon County state GOP Committeeman via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Ramba, a Tallahassee lobbyist, has won another term as Leon County’s State Committeeman for the Republican Party of Florida. The Ramba Consulting Group founder secured 45% of the vote, beating out Christian Cámara, an R Street Institute co-founder, by 7 percentage points. DJ Parten, a regional director with the National Association for Gun Rights, earned 16% of the vote. “Thank you Leon County Republicans for four more years of serving as your State Committeeman,” Ramba wrote on Facebook. Cámara conceded to Ramba over Twitter. “Congratulations to (Ramba) on his win. We both waged a good, clean campaign Leon County Republicans can be proud of,” he wrote.

—“Jessica Yeary poised to clinch victory in 2nd Judicial Circuit Public Defender race” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat

Michelle Cook wins Clay County sheriff’s race, defeats incumbent Darryl Daniels, 4 others” via Teresa Stepzinski of The Florida Times-Union — Cook is the new Clay County sheriff, defeating Daniels the incumbent seeking reelection despite being removed from office amid a sex scandal. Cook received 37% of the vote in the Republican primary to oust Daniels with 29% in the Republican Primary. She advances to the Nov. 3 general election in which her only challenger is a write-in candidate. Cook is a 28-year law enforcement veteran, serving with both the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office and most recently as chief of the Atlantic Beach Police Department. She led Daniels throughout the evening as the ballots were tallied, steadily widening the gap between him and the rest of the field.

Florida primary sees ouster of Duval judge, Clay sheriff, Jacksonville Democratic lawmaker” via Andrew Pantazi and Dan Scanlan of the Florida Times-Union — Daniels, the disgraced Clay County sheriff who was arrested and removed from office late last week, lost his bid for reelection in a closed Republican primary. Former Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Director of Patrol Michelle Cook will face a write-in candidate in November. Rep. Daniels lost to union activist Nixon, who garnered the support of labor, businesses and fellow activists. Daniels, a former City Councilwoman and a pastor, frequently garnered headlines for ethics violations, anti-Semitic remarks and controversial statements. One of her primary pieces of legislation was an attempt to require all Florida schools to offer Bible classes.

Two Lake incumbent County Commissioners lose primaries” via John Cutter of the Orlando Sentinel — Two incumbent Lake County Commissioners lost their seats on Tuesday, as voters rejected reelection bids from Tim Sullivan and Wendy Breeden. Josh Blake, the other incumbent county commissioner on the ballot, won his Republican primary and faces only a write-in and a no-party affiliation candidate in November. School Board member Kristi Burns took her race, while incumbent Sandy Gamble was trailing in his race for another term. All votes were counted by 10 p.m. Overall, about 24.6% of registered voters cast ballots in the Lake primary, which is a little less than 2018, when 28.5% turned out for a primary that included a race for governor.

—“Tim Campbell retains Bay County Judge, Group 1 seat” via Jacqueline Bostick of the Panama City News-Herald

—“Jeff Bergosh fends off 3 challengers, retains Escambia County Commission District 1 seat” via Kevin Robinson of the Pensacola News Journal

—“Indian River County Sheriff’s Office: Eric Flowers beats 3 challengers to win primary; heads to November election” via Corey Arwood of TC Palm

—“Jenny Fields wins Martin County Property Appraiser seat” via Leah Voss of TC Palm

—“Paul Mixon, Nathan Boyles and, possibly, Mel Ponder secure seats on the Okaloosa County commission” via Tom McLaughlin of the NWF Daily News

—“Santa Rosa District 1 election: Sam Parker retains his County Commission seat” via Annie Blanks of the Pensacola News Journal

—“James Calkins upsets 20-year incumbent Don Salter in Santa Rosa Commission District 3” via Annie Blanks of the Pensacola News Journal

—“In upset, Colten Wright defeats Lane Lynchard for Santa Rosa District 5 commission seat” via Annie Blanks of the Pensacola News Journal

Lumon May defeats brother LuTimothy in landslide victory” via Kevin Robinson of the Pensacola News Journal — In a battle between brothers, the incumbent retained his seat as Escambia County District 3 commissioner. Lumon May, a two-term incumbent, out-raised his brother by more than $100,000 and ran away with the race. With all precincts reporting, he led his brother 7,600 votes to 941. Although Lumon May has no Republican challenger in the Nov. 3 General Election, the seat will be appear on the ballot because write-in candidate Jason Laird qualified for the race.

— 2020 —

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell ad brands Carlos Giménez ‘too corrupt for Congress’— Shortly after Giménez secured the Republican nomination in Florida’s 26th Congressional District, incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Mucarsel-Powell released an ad accusing the Miami-Dade Mayor of corruption. The ad, titled “Family Ties,” says Giménez and his son are connected to “shady deal after shady deal” and claims they are “getting rich on our tax dollars.” The ad harps on contracts to install red-light cameras and Julio Giménez lobbying effort for the company that built a bridge that collapsed at FIU, killing six people. The Mucarsel-Powell campaign also poked at Giménez’ “narrow” primary win in a news release announcing the ad — Giménez defeated challenger Omar Blanco by about 20 points in the two-way race.

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell is branding Carlos Giménenz as ‘too corrupt for Congress.’

Assignment editorsMucarsel-Powell will host a news conference with the winning Democratic nominees in South Miami-Dade and the Florida Keys, including Miami-Dade County Mayor hopeful Daniella Levine Cava and SD 39 candidate Fernández, among others. Victoria’s Playhouse Daycare Center, 12781 SW 88th St., Miami. Media interested in attending, RSVP to [email protected]

Mike Bloomberg pledges $60 million to help House Democrats” via Michael Scherer of The Washington Post — Bloomberg plans to spend $60 million to strengthen the Democratic House majority in November, roughly matching the money he invested in flipping control of the House in 2018, according to a Bloomberg adviser familiar with the plans. The spending will include digital and television ads to defend some of the 20 freshman Democrats he helped win in 2018, along with spending aimed at defeating additional Republican incumbents. The effort will include new money to several groups, including a revival of Bloomberg’s own political vehicle, Independence USA, and donations to the House Majority PAC, a group closely associated with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, said the Bloomberg adviser, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the internal planning.

Florida judges stand out during felon voting rights case” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — In a case that could have major ramifications ahead of the November election, a panel of federal judges in Atlanta questioned lawyers Tuesday about Florida’s decision to require felons pay off all court fees and fines before voting. Ten judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, half of whom were appointed by Trump, peppered lawyers representing DeSantis and more than a dozen felons about the state’s law and whether its requirements to pay off all fees equated to a modern-day “poll tax.” Most of the questioning, however, fixated on complicated judicial precedents. After more than two hours of back-and-forth that was carried on Zoom, the video conferencing site, judges gave little indication of how they would rule.


Postal Service halts some changes amid outcry, lawsuits” via Lisa Mascaro and Anthony Izaguirre of The Associated Press — Facing mounting public pressure and a crush of state lawsuits, Trump’s new Postmaster General announced Tuesday he is halting some operational changes to mail delivery that critics blamed for widespread delays and warned could disrupt the November election. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said he would “suspend” several of his initiatives, including the removal of the distinctive blue mailboxes that prompted an outcry, until after the election “to avoid even the appearance of impact on election mail.” “We will deliver the nation’s election mail on time,” DeJoy said in a statement. The abrupt reversal from DeJoy, who is set to testify Friday before the Senate, comes as more than 20 states, from New York to California, announced they would be suing to stop the changes.

Nikki Fried’s cameo lone Florida appearance at Democratic convention” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Tampa Bay Times — Fried, the lone Democrat in statewide office in the nation’s largest swing state, joined 16 other rising Democratic leaders Tuesday night to give what the Democratic National Convention called “a new kind of keynote.” The 12-minute presentation, scripted by the Democratic National Committee, featured a mélange of 17 diverse voices, including Fried’s. The keynote speech has often catapulted rising stars, like Barack Obama in 2004, into the national limelight but this year’s mashup divided the limelight into a clipped and pre-packaged video montage that gave no one a focused advantage. Speaking from her Tallahassee home, Fried spoke about how she is the first Democrat to hold the state’s agriculture commissioner job in three decades, to make the point that Democrats have flipped seats in red states.

To watch Fried’s appearance, click on the image below:


‘Anonymous’ urges a vote for Joe Biden” via Alex Thompson of POLITICO — “Anonymous” is trolling Trump one more time. The self-described “senior Trump administration official,” who anonymously trashed the president’s leadership in a 2018 op-ed and a 2019 bestselling book, is calling for voters to throw the president out of office this November in a new preface for the paperback “2020 election edition” of the book, “A Warning.” A second term for Trump “unbound will mean a nation undone,” the author writes in the new preface. It will result in “a continued downward slide into social acrimony, with the United States fading into the background of a world stage it once commanded, to say nothing of the damage to our democratic institutions.” The anonymous Trump official does not explicitly say to vote for Biden, but the takeaway is unmistakable.

Donald Trump campaign ad attacks Biden’s mental faculties” via Jonathan Swan of Axios — Trump‘s reelection campaign launched its most brutal ad of the 2020 election overnight, suggesting Biden has experienced a severe mental decline over the past four years. The digital ad, “What happened to Joe Biden,” is timed to overlap with the Democratic National Convention and launches the Trump campaign’s four-day takeover of the YouTube masthead. That’s prime internet real estate the campaign has bought in what it calls a “high seven figures” digital advertising effort to undercut the DNC’s message this week. The new ad splices footage of Biden speaking energetically and articulately in 2015 and 2016 alongside clips of him stumbling over his words and appearing to lose his train of thought during the 2020 campaign. It’s the harshest president campaign attack in what is shaping up to be an even uglier messaging year than 2016.

To view the ad, click on the image below:


Mike Pence headed to Miami to talk Cuba, Venezuela” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Pence is headed to Miami Friday to talk about Venezuela and Cuba. Details for the trip including the place and time of the Vice President’s remarks still are to come. On Tuesday The White House announced he will deliver “remarks on the Trump administration’s rejection of the failed ideologies advanced by the dangerous dictatorships in Venezuela and Cuba.” In response to the announcement, two Miami Democratic congresswomen, Reps. Donna Shalala and Mucarsel-Powell, belittled Trump and Pence as talking tough while having no idea what they are talking about with regard to either Cuba or Venezuela. Shalala pointed out that Trump recently said he would meet with Venezuela’s “brutal dictator Nicolás Maduro.”

St. Louis couple who waved guns at BLM protesters will participate in GOP convention” via Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post — The St. Louis couple who became famous after wielding guns at protesters on their private street will be part of the largely digital Republican National Convention next week, Trump advisers said this week. The couple, Patricia and Mark McCloskey, will appear on behalf of the president during the virtual weeklong event and express their support for him, the officials said. The St. Louis couple became well-known this summer after they emerged on the patio of their Versailles-style mansion and waved guns at a marching, congregating group of Black Lives Matter protesters, who were heading to the mayor’s house down the street. The couple was later charged, and they were criticized for their aggressive move menacing demonstrators. But their supporters said they were simply protecting their private property and were fearful for their safety.

Assignment editors — Sen. Doug Broxson and Rep. Brad Drake will join Florida Trump Victory for a MAGA meetup in advance of the DNC convention, 11 a.m. Central time, 312 N. New Warrington Road, Unit 3B, Pensacola.

Never too earlyDemocratic chair: Primaries should replace caucuses by 2024” via Bill Barrow of The Associated Press — Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez said Monday that this year’s handful of presidential caucuses should be the last the party ever holds. “I think by 2024 we ought to have everyone being a primary state,” Perez told The Associated Press in an interview on the opening day of the Democratic National Convention. The chairman didn’t specifically name Iowa, which for decades has led off the nominating calendar, but his position could represent a seismic shift in the party’s traditions, and it underscores the pressure on the caucus structure that has intensified since Iowa’s count dragged out for days to open the 2020 nominating fight eventually won by Biden.

Really, it’s never too early — Trump’s convention marks 2024 starting gun” via Alex Isenstadt of POLITICO — Trump‘s reelection is up in the air, but Republicans with national aspirations are already maneuvering to be the GOP’s standard-bearer in four years, an under-the-radar campaign that will burst into the open at the convention. Republicans anticipate an intense clash as the party prepares for a post-Trump world, whether he’s still in office or not. Haley will join a slate of potential 2024 Republican presidential candidates on prime-time TV for the virtual convention, each looking for the kind of breakout moment that helped catapult Obama to the presidency. South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, and Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst are expected to speak, as is South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, whom Haley appointed to the Senate. So, too, will Pence and Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr.


Florida reports 3,838 coronavirus cases and more than 200 deaths, pushing toll past 9,700” via Michelle Marchante of the Miami Herald — Florida’s Department of Health on Tuesday confirmed 3,838 additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the state’s known total to 579,932. There were also 219 Florida resident deaths announced, bringing the resident death toll to 9,758. There were no new nonresident deaths announced, leaving the nonresident toll at 135. As of 11 a.m. Tuesday, there were 5,483 COVID-19 patients admitted into hospitals throughout the state, according to the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration dashboard.

Court will consider teachers’ union’s motion Wednesday to halt order to reopen Florida schools” via Tampa Bay 10 — Following court-ordered mediation, Florida’s largest teachers’ union has been unable to reach an agreement with the state in its lawsuit challenging the legality of Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran‘s mandate that districts reopen brick-and-mortar schools this month. The Florida Education Association said Tuesday’s confidential mediation ended without a resolution, paving the way for a hearing on Wednesday. The court will now consider the union’s motion for a temporary injunction to block the state’s order to reopen classrooms. Lawyers for the state say DeSantis and Corcoran have made difficult decisions that balance public health and a child’s right to quality education, and that distance learning would deprive 1.6 million students who’ve selected the brick and mortar option of that right. Last week, Circuit Judge Charles Dodson instructed the attorneys for both sides to hammer out an agreement. As of Tuesday night, that hadn’t happened.

A court scheduled hearings on Richard Corcoran’s school reopening order. Image via AP.

Long-term care facility reopening panel makes push for outdoor visits” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Members of the state’s task force to reopen long-term care facilities want to make outdoor visitation possible with as few limitations as necessary. Tuesday marked the second meeting of the panel since DeSantis announced its creation nearly two weeks ago. Already, and after months of waiting after the Governor first aspired for task forces to reopen, plans are coming together that could soon let family members visit their loved ones. The mantra throughout the meeting became “strongly encourage access” and “limit barriers to access.” “I’m confident, I’m optimistic that we can chart a course,” said Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Mary Mayhew, who leads the task force. On Friday, during the panel’s first meeting, there was largely a consensus that wearing personal protective equipment would be necessary for visitation, but a COVID-19 test would not.

COVID-19 forces FDC to extend prison visitation ban” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — Visitation rights at correctional institutions statewide will remain suspended through Sept. 14, the Florida Department of Corrections announced Tuesday. “I want to extend my gratitude to the thousands of families who have recognized the importance of protecting our inmate population by suspending visitation,” said FDC Secretary Mark Inch in a statement. “I look forward to the time we can safely welcome them back to visit their loved ones in person. As more and more inmates move out of medical isolation and institutions begin normal operations, we are hopeful visitation will resume very soon. We are developing plans on how to conduct visitation in the safest way possible.” The department said a decision to reinstate visitations will be evaluated in concert with public health experts. Inmates, meanwhile, will continue to have access to the public via mail, phone calls and video visitation.


Bars must stay closed in Broward, judge rules in COVID-19 lawsuit” via Rafael Olmeda of The South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Broward’s bars will stay closed during the pandemic until the state decides it’s safe to reopen, a Broward judge ruled Tuesday. The judge’s ruling is the latest in a statewide trend of judges upholding the state’s right to restrict business activity and require public compliance in the name of public health. The decision by Broward Circuit Judge Keathan Frink was not final. But for dozens of small-business owners forced to shut their doors six months ago to stop the spread of COVID-19, it might as well have been. The bar owners filed suit a month ago asking the judge to allow them to reopen. Tuesday’s three-hour hearing ended with the judge rejecting the plaintiffs’ call for a temporary order to permit them to once again serve wine, beer and other drinks to customers.

Won’t wear a mask at your public school? You may have to learn from home.” via Andrew Marra of The Palm Beach Post — Students who refuse to wear masks in Palm Beach County public schools this year may be required to take their classes online instead. New rules proposed this week by Schools Superintendent Donald Fennoy call for all students to wear facial coverings on campus unless a medical doctor or school administrator grants an exemption. Masks could be removed while eating or drinking, playing sports, performing on musical instruments or doing other strenuous physical activities, according to the proposed rules. But students who refuse to wear facial coverings as instructed “will have consequences as outlined in the student code of conduct and may be assigned to distance learning,” the rules state. The mask requirement, which requires school board approval, comes as little surprise. Over the summer, several Florida school districts pivoted from making masks optional to requiring them.

Won’t wear a mask? Students may have to be sent home. Image via AP.

Pinellas County moves to dismiss Anthony Sabatini challenge to mask mandate” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Pinellas County government is asking a local court to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the county’s mask ordinance. In its motion to dismiss, lawyers for the county argue the lawsuit, filed by Sabatini on behalf of Indian Rocks Beach residents Zachary Damato and Lucy Turek, a married couple, does not infringe upon individuals’ constitutional freedoms. Sabatini filed the suit in mid-July among a spate of other lawsuits filed against local governments statewide. Sabatini has been a vocal critic of mask mandates, at one point drawing ire for referring to mandate supporters as “mask Nazis.” “There are no genuine issues of material fact,” the motion to dismiss argues about the original complaint. The motion cites national, state and local states of emergency and argues the county has a “larger percentage of the vulnerable population.”

Pinellas County school leaders make a decision on fall sports” via Tampa Bay 10 staff reports — Pinellas County Schools has announced that when students return for the 2020-2021 school year, fall sports will, too. The district said the first official practice day for autumn athletics will be Aug. 24, the earliest date allowed by the Florida High School Athletic Association. Volleyball, cross-country, swimming and golf will be the first sports to return to competition on Sept. 8, and varsity football games will follow on Sept. 11. The school district is still finalizing procedures for fall sports. Those include determining how many fans will be allowed to watch in the stadiums and gyms.

Seminole County to roll out its CARES Act aid for small businesses” via Martin E. Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — Seminole County on Wednesday will roll out its $10-million assistance program for small businesses that have been hurt by the coronavirus pandemic. Business owners, depending on their number of employees, can receive up to $15,000 in federal CARES Act relief by applying at The money can be used to help pay for their business’ rent or mortgage, utility costs and the purchase of personal protective equipment. Also at a Tuesday news conference, Seminole public school officials said the first day of the new year on Monday went smoothly as about 28,000 students took part in face-to-face instructions at 60 school campuses. The remaining 39,000 or so students studied online or a combination of both.

Episcopal School and Bolles students in quarantine following group COVID-19 exposure” via Emily Bloch of The Florida Times-Union — Students at two Jacksonville private schools were asked to quarantine following a gathering that resulted in multiple COVID-19 exposures, school officials said. On Monday, an email to parents from Episcopal School of Jacksonville Associate Head of School Keesy Goebertus said “a social gathering” with a “large group of Episcopal and Bolles students” took place last week, days before the first day of school on Aug. 13. The email said “several” students who attended the gathering tested positive for COVID-19. No social distancing was observed and no masks were worn, in direct conflict with federal and county recommendations. According to Episcopal School of Jacksonville spokeswoman Meg Sacks, contact tracing led to “a number of students” being sent home to quarantine, including the students who were at the gathering and their siblings, who in some cases also attend the school and are in different classes.


‘We’re going to get it done’: Governors mobilize to fill Trump’s testing gap” via Adam Cancryn of POLITICO — Two weeks ago, while struggling to reopen schools and drive down infection rates without a national effort to improve and coordinate access to testing, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan pulled together six state leaders to take a drastic step: Try to build one on their own. The coalition struck an immediate chord among governors, with so many states eager to join that Hogan paused enrollment at 10 out of fear that it would be unable to obtain enough tests. Now, the group is nearing an agreement to purchase 5 million rapid coronavirus tests, in a first-of-its-kind deal designed to slash testing turnaround times and fortify their states ahead of a potentially vicious COVID-19 resurgence in the fall.

Governors are stepping up to close Donald Trump’s testing gap. Image via Getty.

Residential segregation plays a role in coronavirus disparities, study finds” via Vanessa Williams of The Washington Post — Counties with the highest percentage of White residents have had the lowest rates of coronavirus infections, even as infections have increased with the reopening of some states’ economies, an indication that residential segregation is a significant factor in the pandemic’s spread, a study has concluded. That doesn’t mean White people have more immunity but rather that they have been better able to limit their exposure. Neither does it mean that people of color are engaging in reckless behavior, the study by Amfar states. Rather, their higher rate of infection is due to “poverty and living in densely occupied households, living in localities with greater air pollution, lack of health insurance and being employed in jobs that increase exposure to” the coronavirus.

Flu season will be a test run for the U.S.’s biggest-ever vaccine campaign” via John Tozzi and Angelica LaVito of Bloomberg — This fall, the U.S. will need to vaccinate huge numbers of Americans in the middle of a public-health crisis. It will also be a valuable dry run should a coronavirus shot arrive months later. The annual U.S. flu vaccine campaign has been cast into disarray by COVID-19, with people staying away from pharmacies, schools, offices, hospitals and other places where they typically get their shots. But with fears of a flu surge colliding with the coronavirus pandemic, health authorities are looking at how one vaccine effort can inform the other.


The stealth Sunbelt virus turnaround will boost the economy” via Conor Sen of Bloomberg Opinion — Economic data keep reinforcing the picture of an economy that has bounced meaningfully from its spring lows but is still fragile. The expiration of enhanced unemployment benefits at the end of July and the removal of other fiscal support measures by Congress, combined with the breakdown in relief talks, have people understandably concerned about a growth slump over the next month. But underappreciated is the improvement in the pandemic situation in Southern states that were hot spots just a month ago. This, along with consumers in those states normalizing their behavior again, is already showing up in the economic data and could be a potent offset to reduced financial support from the government in the weeks ahead.


WHO blasts ‘vaccine nationalism’ in last-ditch push against hoarding” via Stephanie Nebehay, Karen Lema of Reuters — Nations that hoard possible COVID-19 vaccines while excluding others will deepen the pandemic, World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Tuesday, issuing a last-ditch call for countries to join a global vaccine pact. The WHO has an Aug. 31 deadline for wealthier nations to join the “COVAX Global Vaccines Facility” for sharing vaccine hopefuls with developing countries. Tedros said he sent a letter to the WHO’s 194 member states, urging participation. The global health agency also raised concerns that the pandemic’s spread was being driven now by younger people, many of whom were unaware they were infected, posing a danger to vulnerable groups.

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is working to prevent hoarding, ‘vaccine nationalism.’

Fed up with anti-maskers, mask advocates are demanding mandates, fines — and common courtesy.” via Marc Fisher of The Washington Post — In a country stumbling to control a rampant and deadly virus, masks are effective and popular weapons. Three-quarters of Americans favor requiring people to wear face coverings in public to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, including 89% of Democrats and 58% of Republicans. Now, with the nation reeling from more than 5 million infections and nearly 170,000 virus-related deaths, a rising sense of outrage is leading this silent majority to push back against the smaller but louder anti-mask contingent. Mask advocates want police to enforce those orders, a move some police chiefs have said they are reluctant to make.

Plane cabins could change dramatically because of the pandemic. Here’s how.” via Shannon McMahon of The Washington Post — As coronavirus cases continue to rise, it’s clear that the standard plane cabin layouts we’re used to aren’t working in a pandemic. A face mask is less reassuring when you’re sitting elbow-to-elbow with a stranger for an extended period of time, with many airlines no longer distancing passengers as the pandemic threatens their business model. While some airlines continue the responsible-yet-costly move of blocking off middle seats for travelers’ safety, a redesigned cabin layout could mean they wouldn’t have to. There has been an outpouring of design ideas since the pandemic began, from flipped middle seats and double-decker rows, to seat upholstery that changes color when sanitized. Some new seat designs are squarely focused on physically separating passengers, while others aim to implement new technologies that will make it easier to sanitize plane cabins and give passengers peace of mind.


Nancy Pelosi hints Democrats might pare stimulus plan, seek more later” via Billy House of Bloomberg — Pelosi suggested that Democrats might be willing to make more cuts to their stimulus proposal to seal a deal with Republicans and speed COVID-19 relief, then come back after the November elections with additional agenda items. “We’re willing to cut our bill in half to meet the needs right now,” she said Tuesday at an event. “We’ll take it up again in January.”

Nancy Pelosi suggests Democrats could cut the next stimulus package, in favor of more later. Image via AP.

Val Demings rips into Trump, Louis DeJoy over U.S. Postal Service slowdowns” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — Demings blasted the Trump administration’s handling of the U.S. Postal Service on Tuesday and urged the Republican-led Senate to take up the Democratic House’s $25 billion emergency funding bill. Trump and the postmaster general he appointed, DeJoy, have come under fire for a perceived nationwide slowdown in mail service and the reported planned removal of 671 mail-sorting machines and an unknown number of mailboxes around the nation. Demings’ event outside the Kirkman Road Post Office west of Orlando came just minutes after DeJoy announced that the Postal Service would halt the controversial removal of processing equipment and mailboxes. But DeJoy didn’t address whether any of the equipment and boxes already removed or turned off would be returned to service.

Postal workers rally for relief bill in St. Petersburg with Charlie Crist, Kathy Castor” via Josh Solomon of the Tampa Bay Times — About 20 current and retired postal workers gathered alongside U.S. Reps. Crist and Castor to rally for the United States Postal Service and push a bill that would provide $25 billion in emergency funding for the embattled agency. The event was one of several coordinated by Congressional Democrats, who used Florida’s primary election on Tuesday as the backdrop for their push. Mail carriers have warned that cutbacks directed by DeJoy, the recently-appointed postmaster general, will delay mail ahead of the November general election. Castor laid out what she perceived was a “scheme” by DeJoy and Trump: first to remove sorting machines and mailboxes and discontinue overtime in order to reduce the Postal Service’s capacity, then to stoke fears in the security and effectiveness of vote by mail.


2 companies protest Deloitte’s $135M Medicaid contract” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — IBM and Accenture, who also bid on the lucrative contract, filed documents with the Agency for Health Care Administration protesting the contract award. Their previously unreported complaints include the criteria being changed in the middle of the procurement process and what they said was the agency not fully factoring in Deloitte’s work on the state’s failed unemployment system. That earlier work has sparked controversy and is under investigation by the DeSantis administration. The new Medicaid contract is to create a massive data warehouse as part of the second phase of a four-phase overhaul of Florida’s $30 billion Medicaid program, which serves more than 4 million people. It would put state Medicaid data, which is currently spread out, in one place.

Court rules against teen in parental consent case” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — The ruling by the 2nd District Court of Appeal appears to be one of the first appellate cases since the more-stringent consent law passed in February and took effect July 1. A three-judge panel of the appeals court upheld a ruling by a Hillsborough County circuit judge that the teen was not mature enough to receive what is known as a “judicial waiver” of the notice and consent requirements. The ruling said the teen was 14 at the time of a court hearing and was living with her 17-year-old boyfriend, who impregnated her. The consent law includes a process in which minors can go to court to seek to avoid telling their parents about plans to have abortions.

Tweet, tweet:

PSC approves Duke nuclear decommissioning plan” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — The Florida Public Service Commission on Tuesday approved Duke Energy’s plan to decommission the Crystal River Nuclear Plant by 2038. Duke has contracted with Delaware-based Accelerated Decommissioning Partners to dismantle the plant at a cost of $540 million. The plan’s approval locks in that cost, which is less than half the plan’s original $1.2 billion estimated cost. The utility company will use funds from the decommissioning trust fund to pay for the project. The account has about $660 million collected from customers during the plant’s operational lifetime. “Duke’s transaction requires no additional funds from its customers, and mitigates any risk from the plant’s otherwise long-term dormancy,” PSC Chairman Gary Clark said in a news release.  “Customers will also benefit from the plan’s fixed-price and elimination of continued execution and property maintenance risk.”

Prospective attorneys frustrated by Florida bar exam delay” via The Associated Press — Prospective attorneys in Florida are unhappy with a decision to postpone the Florida bar exam until October. About 3,000 prospective attorneys had planned to take the exam online on Wednesday but they got emails over the weekend telling them that the test will be rescheduled for a date in October. Robert Walters, a recent graduate of Florida State University’s law school, told WUSF in Tampa that he is frustrated by the decision. “You’re going to unlearn a lot of the things that you just memorized, for the test that you thought was going to be on Wednesday,” Walters said Monday, less than 24 hours after learning of the postponement. “At this point, I am probably the most prepared that I would be to take this exam.” The Board of Bar Examiners said in a statement that administering a “secure and reliable” online exam was not feasible.

Shad Khan’s Shipyards development in limbo as city reveals it’s seeking new bids” via Christopher Hong of The Florida Times-Union — Khan has lost the inside track to develop the long-vacant Shipyards property and could pursue a new plan that’s significantly scaled back from the $500 million development that he has for years pitched as the “rebirth” of Jacksonville’s downtown, said the leader the city’s downtown development authority on Tuesday. Khan’s development firm, Iguana Investments, was selected in 2017 to be the master developer of the 70-acre parcel, which includes the old Shipyards property and Metropolitan Park. However, Khan and the city failed to strike a deal by the 18-month deadline, said Lori Boyer, the chief executive officer of the Downtown Investment Authority. With the negotiations expired, Boyer said DIA must now reopen a competitive selection process to choose a master developer of the property. Boyer said she expects Khan to submit a new proposal that still includes a luxury hotel, but she said the rest of the plan could be significantly different from the original.


Don’t like the real virus experts? Ignore them or find ‘experts.’” via Randy Schultz of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Florida is competing with the Trump administration for a monopoly on COVID-19 ignorance. On Friday, the Florida High School Athletics Association voted to go full speed ahead on fall sports. Practices, the FHSAA board decided, can begin next week, even as college conferences delay football and cancel fall championships. The FHSAA had formed a committee of public health experts to provide guidance. “Until this virus is given the respect it deserves to quiet down, introducing sports adds fuel to the fire,” said Jennifer Maynard. She led the committee. She works for the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, one of the world’s most respected medical organizations.


Distillers stepped up during the pandemic. Now we need help to survive” via L.J. Govoni for the Tampa Bay Times — Every month, shipments from my three favorite California wineries arrive at my house. If I wanted, I could go online and with a few clicks through a third-party have a craft spirit from Kentucky delivered to my house as well. Yet Florida law bans me from directly shipping the rum or flavored vodka our new distillery makes to customers in Tampa, Orlando or anywhere else. That’s an unfair system, and it’s particularly unfair during the coronavirus pandemic that has closed down bars and tasting rooms that don’t serve food. We need access to our customers to survive, and that’s why Florida craft distillers are asking DeSantis to issue an executive order to allow us to ship our spirits directly to consumers.


Florida’s primaries are over and it’s on to November. Two Sunrise regulars — Peter Schorsch and Steve Vancore — will talk about Tuesday’s results. We’ll also hear from Florida’s chief elections officer, who says the primary went well.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— The death toll from COVID-19 is approaching the 10,000 mark. Florida’s Department of Health reported another 216 fatalities Tuesday, bringing the statewide death toll to 9,893; 96 of those new fatalities were in nursing homes or long-term care facilities.

— Officials also confirmed almost 4,000 new cases of coronavirus Tuesday … increasing the statewide total to almost 580,000. And there are nearly 5,500 COVID-19 patients in Florida hospitals right now.

— The voting rights of former felons are about to be decided by a federal appeals court in Atlanta … where the governor is appealing a decision that says Florida’s plan for restoring voting rights amounts to an illegal pay-to-vote scheme.

— The timing couldn’t have been better because the case was heard on the same day Floridians voted in the primary.

— And the latest with a Florida Woman who lost her job as a cop because her Twitter bio proclaimed she was a member of the KKK.

To listen, click on the image below:


— ALOE —

What scares Salem? October without Halloween” via Aimee Ortiz of The New York Times — With coronavirus cases spiking around the country, cities, towns, retailers and confectioners are bracing themselves for what could be a substantially more subdued Halloween this year. Salem officials are trying to figure out what Halloween looks like during a pandemic. “The sales that the businesses generate during October are what carry them through the quiet winter months,” said Kate Fox, director of Destination Salem, the city’s marketing organization. The City of Salem released its first COVID-adjusted plans for this year’s Haunted Happenings events in early August under the assumption that by October, Massachusetts would still be in Phase 3 of its reopening, which prohibits indoor gatherings of more than 25 people and outdoor gatherings of more than 100 people.


Our bad — We mixed up the birthdays yesterday. Celebrating today are Wadi Gaitan, Communications Director for The LIBRE Initiative, Rheb Harbison of GrayRobinson, William Hatfield of the Tallahassee Democrat, Merritt Lindstrom, and Elnatan Rudolph of Converge Government Affairs. Belated wishes to John Dowless, Bob Poe, and my friend Noah Pransky.


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

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jason Delgado, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Jesse Scheckner, Scott Powers, Andrew Wilson, and Kelly Hayes.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn