Last Call for 9.21.20 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

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

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

First Shot

Matt Gaetz’s new book, “Firebrand: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the MAGA Revolution,” drops tomorrow and we have a preview of three Florida-centric chapters. In today’s Chapter 15, entitled Air Force One: of Victories and Quarantines, the 37-year-old Congressman talks about momentous decisions made while he was flying with President Donald Trump. Here are a few highlights, including an aside about being labeled a “mama’s boy”:

—“[Barack] Obama played things close to the vest. Trump, by contrast, constantly talks to people at the top levels of business, sports, entertainment, publishing, and Congress — even mere second-termers like me without a committee chairmanship — if he thinks we have valuable insight. Those conversations become an important early part of his decision-making process, as do arguments with his friends and close advisers. This leads to the criticism that he reverses himself or thinks out loud. That’s all part of his process. I’m sure glad it is.”

—“Hurricane Michael had slammed the state back in October 2018, not long before the gubernatorial election. In May 2019, Trump was flying to Florida for a political rally. Former OMB director Mick Mulvaney, now his acting chief of staff, had only arranged for 75 percent of the hurricane cleanup to be handled by the feds, but my state would save big bucks if the feds agreed to pick up 90 percent. … After half an hour of debate and discussion, Trump had heard enough. He wanted to see the words and render a verdict. ‘Write down what you want me to say.’ He hadn’t yet said he’d approve. He seemed to want to mull how it looked on paper and might sound if announced at the rally upon landing. I raised the pen, acutely aware that what I wrote down could end up in a presidential speech and in federal policy — or doom Floridians hoping for that chunk of federal aid. This kind of magic moment only happens in Trump World. … ‘That plane ride cost the taxpayers almost half a billion dollars!,’ (Mulvaney said).”

—“The Russia investigation was corrupt. It was started by corrupt people, advanced before secret courts with fake evidence, and then repeated by media personalities and Democrats who now look like the liars and fools they are. No American should disproportionately shoulder the burden of the Mueller investigation. It should be relegated to history for what it was — a setup in search of crimes,” I said, looking right at the president. “Write that down. Write me three paragraphs. It can be longer. But say it just like that.” As I write, I’m certain that President Trump, in his willingness to fight, will also pardon Roger Stone — as well he should. I still talk to Roger on the phone. He’s a bullshit artist and a dirty trickster, but no criminal. Our political operatives shouldn’t end up in jail while some of the other team’s still work at the Department of Justice and FBI.”

—“In every campaign I’ve had, my mother’s phone calls to potential voters have been noted by my opponents as my strongest weapon — and we’ve never lost an election. … During my 2016 congressional campaign, a Republican primary opponent criticized me for self-designating as a “mama’s boy.” I learned to assemble a wheelchair when I was six years old. When my mother was ill, I slept in her hospital room against the rules to bring her comfort. I’m a serviceable cook today because I was her helper in the kitchen growing up. I’m a mama’s boy with pride!”

To read the entire chapter, visit

Coronavirus Numbers

Positive cases:

— 677,362 FL residents (+1,671 since Sunday)

— 8,077 Non-FL residents (+14 since Sunday)


— 5,441 Travel related

— 241,662 Contact with a confirmed case

— 5,736 Both

— 424,523 Under investigation


— 42,543 in FL


— 13,480 in FL

Evening Reads

Barbara Lagoa, Cuban American judge, rises on Trump’s Supreme Court list as allies emphasize Florida campaign edge” via Isaac Stanley-Becker and Aaron C. Davis of The Washington Post

Trump could get a boost from Cuban Americans in Florida if he picks Lagoa for Supreme Court” via James Hohmann of The Washington Post

Trump jump-starts misinformation on Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s ‘dying wish’” via Kevin Roose of The New York Times

How the post office became a political football” via Kaleigh Rogers of FiveThirtyEight

What a selection of down-ballot polls tell us about Trump vs. Joe Biden in Florida” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics

We’re not gonna be manipulated.’ Cracks form in Trump’s Cuban American base” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald

’What could possibly go wrong?’” via Eli Saslow of The Washington Post

Ron DeSantis proposes law to quash ‘disorderly assemblies’ in wake of Floyd, other protests” via Richard Tribou of the Orlando Sentinel

Democrats decry Gov. DeSantis’ law and order’ play as ‘election stunt’” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Florida coronavirus cases up 1,685, deaths up 21 as US approaches 200,000 fatalities” via Richard Tribou of the Orlando Sentinel

Federal aid for Florida’s unemployed has run out. What’s next?” via Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times

Gulf Power expects 95% power restoration in Escambia County by midnight Monday” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics

Florida Chamber focuses on presidential race, state Senate contests during business leader call” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics

Florida Bar members give high marks to Carlos Muñiz, other appeals judges up for merit retention” via Michael Moline of The Florida Phoenix

New stripper age limit challenged in trial over Jacksonville anti-sex trafficking law” via Steve Patterson of The Florida Times-Union

Women are simply up against systematic intentional sex discrimination in collegiate sports” via Lucy Morgan of The Florida Phoenix

Quote of the Day

“Our right to peacefully assemble is one of our most cherished as Americans, but throughout the country we’ve seen that right being taken advantage of by professional agitators, bent on sowing disorder and causing mayhem in our cities. I will not allow this kind of violence to occur here in Florida.” — Gov. Ron DeSantis, proposing legislation to crack down on protests.

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