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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 9.30.20

Don’t miss your first look at stories driving today’s agenda in Florida politics.

At the height of an election season, it’s easy to place voters into baskets.

The practice makes it easy to forget that behind labels are real people who are struggling or learning to cope with this unprecedented crisis in vastly different ways.

Take, for example, the story of this Maryland restaurateur. Like many, he believes the cure — in this case, widespread lockdowns and dining room capacity limits — has been worse than the disease.

I couldn’t disagree with him more. Jobs and the businesses that supply them are valuable, no question. But lives are infinitely more precious.

Still, to Mike Fratantuono, the Sunset Restaurant was home.

Owners of the soon-to-close Sunset Restaurant believe the cure for COVID-19 is worse than the disease.

“These walls are like a family photo album. I try not to get too sentimental about it because it won’t change a damn thing, but sometimes the stress hits me and my heart starts going like crazy,” he says.

Then there are those who have traded in American optimism for existential dread. Some are going so far as to claim a “dark psychic force” worse than even H.P. Lovecraft could imagine is hanging over the country, and whether it persists or dissipates hinges on the November election.

Supernatural elements aside, it’s an understandable feeling. After six months of life-altering, sometimes life-shattering blows, it’s natural to catastrophize.

Many who haven’t been overtaken by helplessness are filled with what appears to be a potent combination of denial, homerism and impotent rage.

Such is the case among the Trump barge crew, many of whom believe “concepts such as White male privilege or structural racism and sexism are to be scoffed” despite clear, indisputable evidence to the contrary.

I don’t agree with them, nor do I agree with their increasingly sorrowful opposites.

But I do understand the feelings and emotions undergirding their beliefs, and stories like these and serve as a powerful reminder that we’re all in this together.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@lourdesgnavarro: The president did not condemn White supremacy.

@JamesGrantFL: In a debate that has largely resembled “Grumpy Old Men Run for POTUS”, one moment has mattered. Joe [Biden]: “The Green New Deal pays for itself.” Joe 10 seconds later: “No I don’t support the Green New Deal” Those two quotes will play in a handful of states that matter …

@SheriffReese: In tonight’s presidential debate the President said the “Portland Sheriff” supports him.  As the Multnomah County Sheriff I have never supported Donald Trump and will never support him.

@Scott_Maxwell: “Crooked Hillary [Clinton]” makes a debut in the 89th minute. DRINK!

@JaredEMoskowitz: This will be the First Presidential debate that @fema declares a disaster area.

@TedDeutch: “I am counting on the Supreme Court to look at the ballots.” He’s so scared.

@cmclymer: Hundreds of millions of Americans are having daily Zoom conversations with a mute function. Is it so much to ask that we be able to watch a presidential debate where the moderator has the ability to keep this clown from derailing the entire proceedings? #Debates2020

@MelissainJax: Any harried working mom answering a mountain of emails while simultaneously running Zoom school with a bunch of cooped-up kids could handle this better. #DebateNight

@AndrewYang: I think Joe won but it felt like America lost.

@ShevrinJones: The President of the United States refused to condemn white supremacy tonight, and it should disturb every American.

@IsaacDovere: Publishing conspiracy theories is not journalism. Neither is chasing them because “that’s what people are talking about.”

@BSFarrington: For the first time ever, I bought Depends, just so I don’t have to miss any of this debate to pee.

@YApplebaum: One thing the Times appears to have learned since 2018 is that serializing a massive investigation into taxes over multiple days is a more effective way of engaging a broad audience than dumping it all out at once.

— DAYS UNTIL —

Preakness Stakes rescheduled — 3; Ashley Moody’s 2020 Human Trafficking Summit — 6; first vice presidential debate at the University of Utah — 8; Amazon’s annual Prime Day begins — 13; NBA season ends (last possible date) — 14; second presidential debate scheduled in Miami — 15; Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” premieres — 16; NBA free agency (tentative) — 18; Florida Chamber’s Future of Florida Forum — 20; HBO debuts 2000 presidential election doc ‘537 Votes’ — 21; third presidential debate at Belmont — 22; “The Empty Man” premieres — 23; 2020 General Election — 34; NBA 2020-21 training camp — 41; The Masters begins — 43; NBA draft — 49; “No Time to Die” premieres — 51; Pixar’s “Soul” premieres — 51; College basketball season slated to begin — 56; NBA 2020-21 opening night — 63; Florida Automated Vehicles Summit — 63; “Death on the Nile” premieres — 78; “Wonder Woman 1984” rescheduled premiere — 86; Super Bowl LV in Tampa — 130; “A Quiet Place Part II” rescheduled premiere — 143; “Black Widow” rescheduled premiere — 158; “Top Gun: Maverick” rescheduled premiere — 275; Disney’s “Shang Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings” premieres — 282; new start date for 2021 Olympics — 296; “Jungle Cruise” premieres — 304; Disney’s “Eternals” premieres — 401; “Spider-Man Far From Home” sequel premieres — 404; Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” premieres — 436; “Thor: Love and Thunder” premieres — 500; “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” premieres — 553; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” sequel premieres — 734.

— TOP STORY —

Walt Disney Co. is laying off 28,000 U.S. employees” via Gabrielle Russon of the Orlando Sentinel — Stricken by the coronavirus pandemic, Walt Disney Co. revealed it is laying off 28,000 U.S. employees, including some at Walt Disney World. Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney Parks, said the layoffs are happening as the virus has hurt business, and because California has not lifted restrictions that would allow Disneyland to reopen. “We have made the very difficult decision to begin the process of reducing our workforce at our Parks, Experiences and Products segment at all levels,” D’Amaro said in a news release. Disney did not provide a breakdown about how many employees are losing their jobs at Disney World and Disneyland. No notice of mass layoffs had been filed with the state of Florida, according to online records. Of the 28,000 employees, about 67% are part-time, D’Amaro said, adding the cuts will affect executive, salaried, and hourly jobs. More than 100,000 people work at Disney World and Disneyland.

Due to COVID-19 closures in California, Disney is laying off about 28,000 employees. 

— DEBATE NIGHT —

Debate takeaways: Stark differences between Donald Trump, Joe Biden” via Bill Barrow and Zeke Miller of The Associated Press — The President and former Vice President are similar in age, and they share a mutual dislike. But they differ starkly in style and substance. Trump has been itching to attack Biden for months, and he wasted no time going on offense. He repeatedly interrupted Biden mid-sentence, sometimes in intensely personal ways. Trump couldn’t outrun reality on the debate stage. “It is what it is because you are who you are,” Biden told the President. Debate moderator Chris Wallace of Fox News held his ground after saying beforehand that it was not his job to fact-check the candidates, especially Trump, in real-time. But Wallace struggled to stop Trump from interrupting. “Mr. President, as the moderator, we are going to talk about COVID in the next segment,” Wallace said.

In the first debate, Joe Biden marks a stark contrast to Donald Trump. Image via AP.

Why Donald Trump resorted to torching the debate” via Ryan Lizza of Politico — Yes, that debate was everything everyone has already said it was: “a disgrace,” (Jake Tapper), “a s—show” (Dana Bash), “a train wreck” (Ari Fleischer), “The Clusterf— in Cleveland” (a POLITICO colleague). But why? Why did Trump come into the first debate against Joe Biden, down by six points in the polls and facing his last chance to turn things around, with a strategy — if that’s what it can be called — of blowing up the event with 90 minutes of bullying, interruptions, and ad hominem provocations?

An epic moment of national shame: The debate was an embarrassment for the ages” via John F. Harris of Politico — At frequent intervals on Tuesday night, the natural human reaction—lower the sound, wince and look away—took over, and the first presidential debate of the 2020 general election became nearly unwatchable. Those who did persist in watching were rewarded, in a perverse way: They witnessed history in the making. The proceeding was an epic spectacle, a new low in presidential politics, a new high watermark in national shame. The stain will be visible for many years to come.

— THE MODELS —

To get a reasonable idea of how the presidential race is playing out, state polling is the way to go — particularly in battleground states like Florida. Some outlets offer a poll of polls, gauging how Trump or Biden are doing in select areas, then averaging the surveys to get a general idea of who leads nationwide. Sunburn will be updating these forecasts as they come in:

CNN Poll of Polls: As of Tuesday, the CNN average has Biden holding steady 51% compared to 43% for Trump. The CNN Poll of Polls tracks the national average in the presidential race. They include the most recent national telephone surveys meeting CNN’s standards for reporting and which measure the views of registered or likely voters. The poll of polls does not have a margin of sampling error.

FiveThirtyEight.com: As of Tuesday, Biden is still at a 78 in 100 chance of winning compared to Trump, who remained steady at a 22 in 100 shot. FiveThirtyEight also ranked individual states by the likelihood of delivering a decisive vote for the winning candidate in the Electoral College: Pennsylvania leads with 31%, while Florida comes in second with 11%. Other states include Wisconsin (10.8%), Michigan (10%), Arizona (5.1%), Ohio (4.6%), North Carolina (4.2%) and Minnesota (3.8%).

Entering into the debate, Joe Biden is keeping his lead over Donald Trump. Image via AP.

PredictIt: As of Tuesday, the PredictIt trading market has Biden steady at $0.58 a share, with Trump also holding at $0.44.

Real Clear Politics: As of Tuesday, the RCP average of polling top battleground states gives Biden a lead over Trump 49.3% to 43.2%. The RCP average also has Biden averaging at +6.1 points ahead.

Sabato’s Crystal Ball: An analysis of recent state polls shows that Biden holds a solid lead over Trump, with a little more than a month to go until Election Day. Based on state polling data through the morning of Sept. 25, Biden is leading in 20 states with 298 electoral votes while Trump is leading in 15 states with 154 electoral votes. There is insufficient polling data available for 15 states and the District of Columbia with 86 electoral votes.

The Economist: As of Tuesday, their model predicts Biden is “very likely” to beat Trump in the Electoral College. The model is updated every day and combines state and national polls with economic indicators to predict a range of outcomes. The midpoint is the estimate of the electoral-college vote for each party on Election Day. According to The Economist, Biden’s chances of winning the electoral college around 6 in 7 or 86%; Trump’s chances are around 1 in 7 or 14%. They still give Biden a 97% chance (better than 19 in 20) of winning the most votes, with Trump at only 3%.

— PRESIDENTIAL —

Trump facing devastating debt load? Experts say not so fast” via Bernard Condon of The Associated Press — Trump reportedly must pay back more than $300 million in loans over the next four years, raising the possibility his lenders could face an unprecedented situation should he win a second term and not be able to raise the money: foreclosing on the leader of the free world. But financial experts say the notion of Trump going broke anytime soon is far-fetched. Even with a total debt load across his entire business empire estimated at more than $1 billion, they note he still has plenty of assets he could cash in, starting with a portfolio that includes office and condo towers, golf courses and branding deals that have been valued at $2.5 billion. Trump’s true financial picture has gotten renewed scrutiny in the wake of a report this week that he declared hundreds of millions in losses in recent years, allowing him to pay just $750 in taxes the year he won the presidency, and nothing for 10 of 15 years before that.

Many believe Donald Trump is in deep financial trouble. It may not be as bad as that. Image via AP.

Once on defense, Dems grow confident in Trump country” via Sarah Ferris and Ally Mutnick of POLITICO — House Democrats started off the 2020 cycle looking to protect roughly four dozen vulnerable members, including 30 whose districts voted for Trump four years ago. Now as they enter the final month, Democrats are scaling back defensive spending and funneling their remaining millions to knock out vulnerable Republicans and expand their 34-seat majority, according to a review of recent advertising data. The Democrats’ media-buying strategy in the last weeks of the campaign offers perhaps the clearest portrait yet of the party’s confidence in protecting their toughest House seats and cementing the GOP’s minority status for years to come.

Cook Political Report shifts Ohio, Iowa to ‘tossup’ — Ohio and Iowa are now toss-ups in the 2020 presidential election according to the Cook Political Report. The move comes after Cook shifted the states from Likely Republican to Lean Republican three months ago, cautioning that they could move further toward Democrats if Trump’s polls numbers did not improve. In announcing the shift Tuesday, Cook’s National Editor, Amy Walter, said “polling in both states suggests that the Trump slump is real.” Trump trails Biden by an average of 1.1% in Ohio and 0.8% in Iowa, according to the FiveThirtyEight aggregator.

Trump, Biden are potential ‘super-agers’ whose age is ‘not relevant’ to election, study finds” via Alison Durkee of Forbes — Trump and Biden are likely to stay in good health for the duration of the next presidential term and may be “super-agers” who will significantly outlive other men their age, a new study projects, undercutting criticisms about the septuagenarians’ age and mental fitness that have plagued both candidates on the campaign trail. Biden, now 77 years old, is expected to outlive Trump due to his “exceptional health profile for a man his age,” with a projected life span of 96.8 years and a 95.2% likelihood of surviving his presidential term. Trump, who’s 74, has “significant but modifiable” risk factors due to his “obesity and sedentary lifestyle,” but his estimated life span is 88.6 years and he has a 90.3% probability of surviving a second term.

Trump secretly mocks his Christian supporters” via McKay Coppins of The Atlantic — One day in 2015, Trump beckoned Michael Cohen, his longtime confidant and personal attorney, into his office. Trump was brandishing a printout of an article about an Atlanta-based megachurch pastor trying to raise $60 million from his flock to buy a private jet. Trump knew the preacher personally — Creflo Dollar had been among a group of evangelical figures who visited him in 2011 while he was first exploring a presidential bid. Now he was gleefully reciting the impious details of Dollar’s quest for a Gulfstream G650. Trump seemed delighted by the “scam,” Cohen recalled to me, and eager to highlight that the pastor was “full of shit.” “They’re all hustlers,” Trump said.

‘They’re all hustlers’: Donald Trump mocks his religious supporters behind their backs and ridicules their sacred rites.

Super PAC drops millions blasting Biden tax plan” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A super PAC just dropped $40 million on ads slamming Biden in five swing states, including Florida. America First Action SuperPAC puts together a montage of quotes from Biden on taxes and the pandemic, played in small business settings. Whether individuals are in a barbershop watching newscasts or in an office lobby streaming messages on their smartphones, or an auto shop watching the news on a laptop computer, the Biden quotes are select. “I would shut it down,” Biden says in one clip. “If you elect me, your taxes are going to be raised, not cut,” he says in another, referencing a speech in which Biden said he’d raise taxes on the wealthy. Titled “Day 1,” the new ad makes clear, the U.S. economy would be threatened by a Biden presidency from the start.

Biden releases 2019 taxes as pre-debate contrast with Trump” via The Associated Press — Biden paid nearly $288,000 in federal income taxes last year, according to returns he released just hours before his Tuesday night debate with Trump. The move came following a report that Trump paid just $750 in income taxes in 2016, the year he ran for President, and in 2017, his first year in the White House. Biden and his wife, Jill, along with Biden’s running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, released their 2019 federal and state returns as the President contends with the political fallout from a series of reports about Trump’s long-hidden tax returns. The Times also reported that Trump paid no income tax at all in 10 of the 15 years before 2017. The Bidens’ payment of $287,693 to the federal government in 2019 showed a substantial drop from the $1.5 million they paid in income taxes in 2018, reflecting a decline in Biden’s book revenue, his decision to run for the presidency and his leave of absence from an academic post at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Early surge of Democratic mail voting sparks worry inside GOP” via Amy Gardner and Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post — Democratic voters who have requested mail ballots — and returned them — greatly outnumber Republicans so far in key battleground states, causing alarm among GOP party leaders and strategists that President Donald Trump’s attacks on mail voting could be hurting the party’s prospects to retain the White House and the Senate this year. Of the more than 9 million voters who requested mail ballots through Monday in Florida, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Maine and Iowa, the five battleground states where such data is publicly available, 52 percent were Democrats. Twenty-eight percent were Republicans, and 20 percent were unaffiliated.

Biden and Trump offer Latino voters different visions of America — and of each other” via Melissa Gomez, Vanessa Martínez and Rahul Mukherjee of the Los Angeles Times — In Spanish-language ads targeting Latino voters, Trump amplifies fear, and Biden attacks Trump’s record. The Trump campaign warns of Latin American-style “socialism” and of police not answering 911 calls — and portrays Biden as not a strong enough leader. The Democratic nominee’s ads excoriate Trump over his handling of a pandemic that is disproportionately affecting people of color, contrasting Biden as the one with a plan, and show the President as mistreating immigrants and refugees. With just weeks before Election Day, both campaigns are spending millions on Spanish-language ads in battleground states like Arizona and Florida, where turnout among Latinos could decide the outcome. In September alone, both campaigns have channeled hundreds of thousands of dollars into the Spanish-language TV market in Florida, a state Trump needs to win. So far, the Biden campaign has put out more unique ads than Trump’s and in nearly twice as many Spanish-language media markets.

Duh — “Florida, Florida, Florida could give us big clues on election night” via Matt Holt of National Journal — There almost certainly won’t be a declared winner on election night. But Florida, the battleground of all battlegrounds, could provide some clarity as to whether Biden is romping to a win or Trump is securing a second term in the White House. Only once in the past 12 presidential elections has a candidate won Florida without winning the election, in 1992, when Bill Clinton ousted George H.W. Bush, who carried the state with 41%. And while it might take other battleground states days to receive all ballots and count them up, Florida is speeding up the process, meaning there might actually be results on election night. Floridians have voted by mail for nearly 20 years. Starting in 2002, the state allowed any voter to request a mail-in ballot. In the 2016 election, nearly 30 percent voted by mail. Florida law allows counties to begin counting votes 22 days before the election, but Ron DeSantis issued an executive order allowing counties to start tallying voters earlier. Voters must have their mail-in ballots into their county’s supervisor of elections by 7 p.m. on Election Day.

Pro-Trump group to spend $8.7 million on ads in Miami before Election Day” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — A pro-Trump super PAC announced Tuesday a plan to spend nearly $9 million in Miami in the next month. America First Action, the largest outside group supporting Trump’s reelection bid, said it will spend $8.7 million on a mix of TV, digital and direct mail advertisements between Oct. 7 and Election Day. The group has committed to spend at least $40 million in swing states and is already running ads in Orlando and West Palm Beach as part of a $12.7 million buy that began earlier this month. The group also spent an additional $2.2 million in Orlando earlier this month. “The ads will focus on Joe Biden’s disastrous economic record, and why Floridians can’t afford to give Biden another four years in office,” the super PAC said in a statement. The ad released by the group also criticizes Biden on taxes, arguing that Biden will “raise taxes on day one” if elected.

NBC News to hold town hall with Joe Biden in Miami” via Dareh Gregorian via NBC News — The town hall, hosted by “Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt, will air at 8 p.m. ET Monday — two days before the Oct. 7 vice presidential debate between Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris of California in Utah. The one-hour town hall will also air across MSNBC, CNBC and NBC News NOW, and it will be available in Spanish on Telemundo’s digital platforms. The event will be held outside at Pérez Art Museum Miami in front of a socially distanced audience of undecided Florida voters, the network said.

Biden launching advertising aimed at Haitian and Jamaican voters, including Creole TV spot” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun Sentinel —Biden’s presidential campaign is running an English, Spanish and Creole advertising effort aimed at constituencies that are a critical part of the Democratic Party coalition in Florida. It’s also adding a plan to reach voters through “direct voter contact.” The advertising includes local print, radio and television advertising for each constituency across the state. “With just under six weeks to go, this is the work — and investment — needed to ensure our coalition of supporters turn out for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris this election,” said Karen Andre, who is a senior adviser to the Biden campaign.

Assignment editorsIvanka Trump will travel to Orlando to participate in a conversation with Mercedes Schlapp, Trump 2020 Senior Adviser for Strategic Communications, and local supporters on Trump’s America First agenda, 3:45 p.m. For details and press credentials, visit donaldjtrump.com/events.

Assignment editors — Rep. Shevrin Jones and the Biden-Harris campaign will host a virtual news conference to formally launch “Black Men, VOTE!” — a statewide initiative to boost voter turnout among Black men in the upcoming November 2020 election, 10 a.m., Zoom link is us02web.zoom.us. To dial in via phone, dial — U.S.: +1 312 626 6799 or +1 646 876 9923; webinar ID: 870 8469 0296.

The #resistance and the retirement community” via Alex French of New York Magazine — Winning Florida is crucial for Democrats this fall. If the state calls for Biden on election night, it’s a lot harder to imagine Democrats’ nightmare scenarios, Trump refusing to concede, and a postelection legal battle that would make [George W.] Bush v. [Al] Gore look tame by comparison, coming to fruition. So while it may not be the swingiest state this time around, it’s no wonder that Mike Bloomberg has pledged to dump $100 million into the Florida race. Villagers, with a population that’s 98 percent white, overwhelmingly voted for Trump in 2016. Though Democrats are outnumbered more than two-to-one by Republicans, they still try to organize. They register voters, host Biden-Harris golf-cart parades; canvass for candidates in the communities outside the Villages, and volunteer at polling places. With some polls finding that senior-citizen support for Trump has waned alongside the rising COVID-19 death count, Democrats have the newfound zeal of a beaten-down super-minority becoming a simple minority.

In The Villages, tensions over the 2020 election have hit a tipping point. Image via New York Magazine.

Charges still uncertain for Trump aide Brad Parscale. It may depend on what his wife decides.” via Charles Rabin of the Miami Herald — Two days after police seized 10 guns and hospitalized Parscale following a confrontation with police at his waterfront home in Fort Lauderdale, it remained unclear if the analytics guru will face any criminal charges. But at the very least, he may lose his weapons cache, at least for the short term. Late Monday, Fort Lauderdale police filed a Risk Protection Order, a court petition seeking to seize Parscale’s weapons, after his wife Candice Parscale, who had called officers to the home on Sunday, said she feared her husband would kill himself and told them that contusions on her arms came from her husband striking her in the past. On Tuesday, after several failed attempts, a victim’s advocate from the police department finally spoke with Candice Parscale, Fort Lauderdale police said. But by late in the day, she hadn’t pressed charges against her husband, who is still believed to be hospitalized.

Parscale’s 2020 campaign spending was under scrutiny and he was falling out of favor with his boss in the months leading up to his Sunday meltdown” via Tim LoBianco and Elvina Nawaguna of Business Insider —Parscale had been under the microscope over his spending as the head of President Donald Trump‘s reelection campaign in the weeks and months leading up to his Sunday meltdown that prompted a police-enforced hospitalization. While it’s still unclear if the fiscal audit has anything to do with Parscale’s latest troubles, his wife — who had bruises on her body, according to a police report — told law enforcement that he’d been stressed, drinking a lot and suicidal in recent weeks.

— NEW ADS —

America First Action calls Biden is ‘too weak’ to lead in new ad — America First Action is pumping another $8.7 million into its Florida ad campaign. AFA, the largest outside group supporting Trump’s reelection campaign, said the money would be used to run TV, digital and direct mail ads in the Miami market now through Election Day. AFA also unveiled a new TV spot it will run in the market, called “Day 1.” The ad features clips of Biden saying he will raise taxes and “shut it down,” presumably in reference to the economy. A narrator closes the ad by saying “Joe Biden. The times are tough. The man is too weak.” AFA said new ad buy is in addition to the previously announced $12.7M spend from September-Election Day in Orlando and West Palm.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

Michael Bloomberg’s PAC launches Florida ad on Biden, economy” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The 30-second commercial, “Economy,” is coming from Bloomberg‘s Independence USA Political Action Committee and will play in broadcast and on cable in all Florida markets, according to a news release. The ad is part of Bloomberg’s stated commitment to spend $100 million in Florida alone to support Biden over Trump, through Independence USA as well as other Democratic groups.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

‘Sully’ Sullenberger takes on Trump in new Lincoln Project ad In a new national television ad, Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger says Americans can return the country to a state of unity and responsibility by voting out Trump. Sullenberger, the pilot behind the “Miracle on the Hudson,” adds that Americans must vote on behalf of the quarter-million who will have died of COVID-19 by Election Day because of Trump’s “lethal lies and incompetence.” The ad, which is co-sponsored by VoteVets and the Lincoln Project, ran throughout the day Tuesday on national cable, leading into the debate, at a cost of $200,000.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

Priorities USA Action, BlackPAC, Bloomberg team up for $3.4M Florida ad campaign — Priorities USA Action and BlackPAC are launching a $3.4 million television advertising partnership specifically designed to reach Black voters. The ads are being funded by a donation from Bloomberg as part of his $100 million investment in Florida to help elect Biden and defeat Trump. The new ad, “One Nation,” uses audio of a speech made by vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris, the first Black woman on a major party ticket. “We are at an inflection point in the history of our nation our United States of America is not about us versus them it’s about we the people,” she says. “We can heal our nation. It’s up to us. It’s up to us. Each and every one of us.” The ad will run on cable and broadcast throughout the state.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

Priorities USA, Latino Victory Fund, Mike Bloomberg launch ad bashing Trump’s record on Puerto Rico — Priorities USA Action and the Latino Victory Fund are out with a new TV ad slamming Trump’s treatment of Puerto Rico. The ad, part of previously-announced bilingual TV and radio ad buy, is being funded by Bloomberg. The ad, “El Otro Huracán” (The Other Hurricane), highlights negative comments Trump has made about the U.S. territory — including calling it “dirty” and “poor” — and also reminds voters of his lawsuit seeking to block Puerto Rican people from having the same access as mainland U.S. citizens to government programs. It contrasts Trump’s record with Biden’s, pitching the former VP as consistently standing with Puerto Rico. It will run on cable and broadcast in the Orlando market.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

— 2020 — 

‘Last Man Standing’ for GOP, late-night talk for Dems: Where TV ads can reach voters for cheap” via Scott Bland of POLITICO — TV advertising is easily the most expensive thing most political campaigns do, which means they are constantly looking for the best way to stretch their money on the medium. Now, two companies are out with a road map to help them. Advertising Analytics, a TV ad-tracking firm that uses local station contracts to figure out advertising rates, and Nielsen, which tracks viewership data, combined forces to research which TV shows can reach the most voters for the least money in four swing-state media markets. By combining the ad rates and audience information in a new white paper, they calculated how many of certain types of voters, like Democrats, Republicans or independents, watched different programs, and how efficiently they could be reached on TV.

A new study finds ‘The Late Show With Stephen Colbert,’ among other late-night shows, to be an effective way to reach voters. Image via AP.

TikTok rolls out in-app elections guide” via Sara Fischer of Axios — TikTok said Tuesday that it’s debuting a new in-app elections guide to connect users with credible information about the elections from sources like the National Association of Secretaries of State, BallotReady, and SignVote. The move comes amid scrutiny from the Trump Administration over whether the Chinese-owned app is a national security threat. A judge recently ruled that Trump‘s TikTok ban likely overstepped its legal authority. The Administration had tried to invoke a law that allows the President to regulate international commerce for national security concerns. The law has a carve-out for information systems or companies.

Florida Chamber holding Amendment 2 webinar series — The Florida Chamber of Commerce will host a three-part series of webinars outlining its opposition to Amendment 2, which would raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026. The first installment, slated for Oct. 5 at 2 p.m., will focus on how the proposal would impact jobs, the economy and education. On Oct. 14, the conversation will turn to the cost of living for seniors and families. And on Oct. 30, the Chamber will examine the amendment’s impact on opportunity. Each webinar will feature Florida Chamber President Mark Wilson and Florida Chamber economist Dr. Jerry Parrish, who will be joined by special guests to discuss the amendment.

Donna Shalala, again, failed to disclose stock sales in violation of federal law” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — Shalala failed to publicly report two stock sales, a violation of federal disclosure law for the second time in five months. Earlier this year, she acknowledged that she had failed to report 556 stock sales. In the most recent failure to disclose financial information, Shalala said she failed to disclose two stock sales of Tegna, a broadcast, digital media and marketing services company based in Virginia. The first sale, on April 1, 2019, was valued between $15,001 and $50,000 and the second sale, on March 31 of this year, was valued between $1,001 and $15,000.

— VOTERS ARE VOTING — 

‘I really want to make sure my vote counts.’ More than 43,000 ballots already cast in South Florida” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Nothing that happens between Biden and Trump on the debate stage Tuesday night can change the votes of more than 43,000 Broward and Palm Beach County residents. That’s because they’ve already voted in the November presidential election — almost immediately after receiving their vote-by-mail ballots. Broward County sent out 500,000 vote-by-mail ballots on Thursday, Friday and Monday. By midafternoon Tuesday, 14,000 had been completed and returned, said Steve Vancore, spokesman for Supervisor of Elections Peter Antonacci. That’s 2.8% of the ballots mailed in the first three batches. “They’re coming back fast and furious,” Vancore said.

Mail-in ballots reach 5.1 million” via News Service of Florida — As of a Tuesday morning count, 5,091,513 vote-by-mail ballots had been provided or were in the process of being provided but had not been returned by voters, according to numbers posted on the Florida Division of Elections website. Democrats made up 2,346,384 of those voters, while Republicans totaled 1,605,139 and unaffiliated voters were 1,078,494. The remaining 61,496 were third-party voters. So far, 34,018 vote-by-mail ballots had been returned, with 18,209 coming from Democrats and 9,343 coming from Republicans, according to the Division of Elections website.

— LEG. CAMPAIGNS —

Elizabeth Fetterhoff attempting to fend off Patrick Henry challenge” via Mark Harper of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — Two years ago, 54 votes out of more than 61,000 cast separated the two candidates. It was enough for the Republican Fetterhoff to defeat the then-incumbent Democratic Rep. Henry. But it wasn’t enough to deter Henry, who’s back for a rematch in Florida House District 26. The district, which stretches from mainland Daytona Beach to DeLand, skews Democratic by 7.3%, or more than 8,000 voters. So a high presidential turnout could help Henry turn the tables. But Fetterhoff has the advantage of incumbency, which affords her the ability to point to recent legislative successes as well as giving her an advantage in fundraising. Fetterhoff had, as of the latest report, collected $210,000 to Henry’s $120,000.

After a narrow win in 2018, Elizabeth Fetterhoff faces a 2020 rematch with former Democratic Rep. Patrick Henry.

Exclusive — “Poll: After late start, Traci Koster leads Jessica Harrington in HD 64” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Republican Koster leads her Harrington, by five points, according to a new St. Pete Polls survey. Koster leads the district among 48% of likely voters surveyed in House District 64 to Harrington’s 43% while 9% remain undecided. While outside the poll’s margin of error, Koster’s lead is less than the margin by which former HD 64 Rep. James Grant won against Harrington two years ago. In 2018, Grant carried the district with 52% of the vote to Harringon’s 45%. No party-affiliated candidate Andy Warrener received the remaining 3%. Koster’s margin is also lower than the voter registration for Republicans in the district. Republicans have a seven-point advantage with 39% of all voters while Democrats carry just 32%. The difference in support for Koster compared to Grant’s victory margin two years ago is largely explained by an increase in Democratic voter registration in the district from 2016 to this year. The party saw a nearly 2% boost in voter representation.

There is one Southwest Florida race where the Democrat has (a little) more money than the Republican” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Republicans running for open seats in Southwest Florida closed most cash gaps with Democrats. The only legislative race in the region where a Democrat holds a slight cash edge is in House District 78. There, Democrat Shawn Michael Williams, a Fort Myers accountant, holds about $8,079 in the bank. Republican Jenna Persons, a Fort Myers attorney, has $7,565. Both are running to succeed Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen, who couldn’t run again because of term limits. In a region where the GOP long enjoyed an edge in registration and organization, few races appear competitive in November. But with a substantial number of seats open, whether by term limits or incumbent ambitions, there’s plenty of contests on the ballot. And some candidates arrive in the fall contest after bruising public primaries. That said, the money in the bank for Williams represents most of the total $11,304 he has raised. He avoided any Democratic primary in the district.

Clint Barras bests Jim Mooney in fundraising for second straight period” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Barras has beat out Mooney for the second straight period, as Barras added more than $43,000 to his campaign account from Sept. 5 to 18. Mooney raised more than $15,000 through his campaign and another $3,000 through his political committee, Friends of Jim Mooney. Both candidates are seeking to replace term-limited Republican Rep. Holly Raschein in House District 120. The Florida Democratic Party contributed $15,000 to Barras’ bid, helping inflate his money totals for the two-week period. Still, Barras courted $28,000 from additional donors, enough to nearly double Mooney’s haul. Barras tapped into out-of-state donors to help raise that cash. Just 22% of that $28,000 came from Florida donors. Only 6% of the 817 donations were from individuals listed as Florida residents.

Anthony Rodriguez adds more than $55K, has nearly $300K on hand for HD 118 reelection bid” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Republican Rep. Rodriguez added more than $55,000 in his bid to retain the House District 118 seat. He’s now sitting on nearly $296,000 as he fends off a challenge from Democratic candidate Ricky Junquera. Rodriguez raised $38,000 from Sept. 5 to 18 through his campaign account. His political committee, A Bolder Florida, added another $17,500 during the same span. That allowed Rodriguez to increase his cash advantage despite Junquera adding more than $31,000 to his campaign for the second straight reporting period. Last period, Junquera’s total was boosted by a $17,500 contribution from the Florida Democratic Party. His newest report was aided by a surge of out-of-state donors. In terms of raw cash, just over $14,000 — or nearly 46% of Junquera’s haul came from inside Florida. He courted many small donations of $10 or less from out of state, however. Florida residents accounted for just over 7% of his 804 donors Sept. 5-18.

— DOWN BALLOT —

Ed Brodsky won’t fire Eric Robinson as campaign treasurer” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Brodsky has no plans to fire Robinson as his campaign treasurer. But he stressed the Venice accountant only works with the prosecutor’s political campaign, not the State Attorney’s Office itself. “I employ his agency to comply with accounting,” Brodsky, a Sarasota Republican, said. “In fact, I work with someone there other than Eric Robinson. And I am very comfortable with the relationship I have with the agency.” He spoke to Florida Politics about the matter a day after news broke of an investigation of Robinson for “potential election criminal misconduct.” Details of that investigation remain scant. The matter became public occurred after Brodsky asked DeSantis to reassign the investigation to another circuit because of his own relationship to the treasurer.

Eric Robinson still has a job, for now. Image via Sarasota Magazine/Salvatore Brancifort.

— CORONA FLORIDA —

Ron DeSantis: Florida to get more than 6.4 million rapid coronavirus tests” via Kirby Wilson and Tracey McManus of the Tampa Bay Times — Starting this week, hundreds of thousands of new rapid coronavirus tests will be sent to Florida every week, DeSantis said. The tests, over 150 million of which were bought by the federal government earlier this year, take 15 minutes to register a positive or negative result. The tested person is given a nasal swab, but no lab is required to process it. Some 6.4 million kits, which are made by Abbott Laboratories, will be sent to the state in the coming weeks, 400,000 tests per week, DeSantis said. The Florida Division of Emergency Management, which is led by Jared Moskowitz, will manage the distribution of the kits. “This is probably as happy as I’ve been about testing in an [awfully] long time,” DeSantis said, contending that there isn’t as much demand for coronavirus testing as there had been during the state’s summer surge.

Ron DeSantis is touting an extra 6.4 million rapid coronavirus tests.

Inmate COVID-19 deaths up to 132” via The News Service of Florida — Another state prison inmate’s death has been linked to COVID-19, bringing the total number to 132 since the pandemic began, according to the Florida Department of Corrections. Also, positive tests among inmates and corrections staff members continued to climb. An additional 82 inmate cases were reported Tuesday, bringing the overall total to 16,349. As of noon Tuesday, 136 inmate COVID-19 tests were pending, with the largest number, 35, at Graceville Correctional Facility in Northwest Florida. Also, an additional 25 corrections workers had tested positive, bringing the total to 3,147.

It’s the end of the month and renters await another DeSantis eviction decision, but does it matter anymore?” via Ron Hurtibise of the South Florida Sun Sentinel — It’s become a tradition on the final day of each month: Renters and advocates for renters call on Florida Gov. DeSantis to extend the state’s moratorium on evictions — in place since April 2 — for at least another month. And the governor waits until just hours before the expiration to sign an executive order extending it another month. Tenants throughout the state who are unable to pay their past-due rent because of the COVID-19 crisis breathe a collective sigh of relief.

Utilities object to halt in disconnections” via Jim Saunders of The News Service of Florida — Florida Power & Light, Gulf Power, Duke Energy Florida and Tampa Electric Co. filed documents at the state Public Service Commission pushing back against a proposed emergency rule change that would halt disconnections for customers who can’t pay their bills. The utilities pointed to a series of efforts they have made to help customers who have struggled as the pandemic has caused widespread job losses and financial troubles. “In summary, the petitioners’ request for an emergency rule change does not acknowledge the substantial accommodations and extensive options that are already available to customers in need of financial assistance today,” attorneys for FPL and Gulf Power, which are sister companies, wrote in one of the filings.

GrayRobinson, AdventHealth hosting virtual community leader forum — GrayRobinson and AdventHealth Central Florida are jointly hosting a virtual community leader forum titled “Lessons from COVID-19: From Crisis to Innovation in Health Care Transformation” on Wednesday at noon. The forum will feature Dr. Vincent Hsu, executive director of infection control at AdventHealth Central Florida; Linette Johnson, a chief nursing officer at AdventHealth Central Florida; Daryl Tol, president and CEO of AdventHealth Central Florida; and Robert Stuart, senior government affairs consultant at GrayRobinson. The panel will discuss the evolution of telemedicine, vaccine trials and treatments, inequities in the effects of COVID-19, and the impact on Florida’s health care system. Those interested in attending can register online.

— CORONA LOCAL —

Carlos Giménez says fines will continue for those violating pandemic guidelines” via Amanda Batchelor of local10.com — Giménez held a virtual news conference Tuesday afternoon at which time he announced that civil citations for violating the county’s New Normal rules amid the coronavirus pandemic would continue despite the governor’s order to not issue fines to people who are not wearing masks or following social distancing rules. Giménez said he understood DeSantis‘ reasoning that many Floridians are out of work because of the pandemic and can’t afford to pay the citations. Because of that, Giménez said the county will not be collecting payment for those citations until after the governor’s order expires. The Mayor said the 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew will remain in place at this time as late-night celebrations are expected as the Miami Heat faces the Lakers in the NBA Finals.

Carlos Giménez warns fines will continue for violating pandemic regulations in Miami-Dade County.

It’s official this time: Miami schools will begin their staggered reopenings on Monday” via Colleen Wright of the Miami Herald — After several hourslong meetings and votes and revotes, Miami-Dade County Public Schools will begin its staggered reopening of schools on Monday with all students who wish to be back in class by Friday, Oct. 9. The School Board voted last week for schools to open at a later timeline, citing concerns about school preparedness. But a letter from the state put pressure on the school district to follow its original reopening plan from July, calling for Oct. reopening, or else the district could’ve faced budget shortfalls of anywhere between $20 million to $300 million. After 7 p.m. Tuesday, the School Board voted unanimously on the new timeline with many caveats.

Broward schools could open sooner than planned” via Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Broward campuses could open to students as early as Monday, after the School Board meets this week to decide whether to make another change to its ever-evolving return date for in-person learning. An emergency meeting is planned for 10:30 a.m. Thursday at the K.C. Wright administrative building in Fort Lauderdale to respond to a letter received Monday night from Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran. He instructed the district to open Oct. 5 or send detailed data explaining why that’s not possible. Oct. 5 was the date first proposed by Superintendent Robert Runcie, but the School Board changed it last week to Oct. 14 for some students and Oct. 20 for most. This came after numerous teachers and district employees said they didn’t feel it was safe to return to campus yet.

South Florida defines new rules during confusing move to Phase 3” via Andrew Boryga, Wells Dusenbury and Lisa Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — DeSantis’ executive order lifting business restrictions has given way to concerns that more South Floridians will stop taking COVID-19 precautions, if the partying seen this weekend is an early sign. But South Florida on Tuesday began listing some revised rules it plans to enforce: Miami-Dade plans to keep citing people for not wearing masks, but will postpone collecting fines from them until a yet-to-be-determined date. Palm Beach County will allow 100% capacity at restaurants and ask for mask-wearing, but will not actually fine people — only businesses. The new rules come after local government officials acknowledged there was little enforcement of previous COVID-19 rules this weekend while city and county leaders tried to make sense of the Governor’s thin executive order.

Judge rules against teachers hoping to close Palm Beach schools” via Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A Judge has ruled against seven teachers who sued the Palm Beach County school district saying schools were unsafe to open due to COVID-19. Palm Beach Circuit Judge Glenn Kelley ruled it was the job of elected officials, not the courts, to decide whether schools are safe enough to open. He said the Palm Beach County School Board is doing that. The district reopened for in-person learning on Sept. 22. “The court cannot second guess the plan developed and implemented by the School Board,” Kelley wrote. Though he can’t dictate that the school district offer teachers the option to work remotely, he said the teachers’ position has merit.

Reeling from coronavirus, Central Florida hotels offer some ‘pretty great deals’” via Trevor Fraser of the Orlando Sentinel — Facing one of the most challenging tourism markets in modern history, hotels are turning to a classic marketing tool to reclaim customers: the deal. “They’re trying hard to keep people employed and not shut down again, so they’re offering some pretty great deals and specials to get people in,” said Keri Burns, Central Florida regional director for the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association. Lockdown-weary travelers eager for a change of scenery can find rooms discounted as much as 50% at some properties. As a sample of some current bargains, guests can get the third night 50% off when they book for two nights at The Alfond Inn in Winter Park. The JW Marriott/Ritz Carlton Grande Lakes in Orlando is offering 15% off and a $25 daily resort credit with one of their packages. And area Hilton hotels are taking 20% off.

To combat DeSantis order on mask violations, Rick Kriseman puts it back on businesses” via Josh Solomon of the Tampa Bay Times — After DeSantis issued an executive order last week suspending fines and fees for people cited for violating COVID-19 restrictions, Mayor Kriseman on Tuesday responded with an order of his own, putting the onus on businesses. Even though St. Petersburg is precluded by DeSantis’ order from collecting fines from individuals who ignore Pinellas County’s mask ordinance, it can still hold businesses accountable. The Mayor said he would be signing an order of his own, emphasizing that businesses that are open to the public in St. Petersburg must have a “COVID-19 mitigation plan,” and that the plan must show how they plan to enforce the mask ordinance. Kriseman’s announcement, which in St. Petersburg puts some teeth back into the county’s mask requirement, comes after DeSantis on Friday suspended only the collection of fines. But the governor’s order didn’t remove local mask orders from the books.

— MORE LOCAL —

Some Jacksonville restaurant owners reluctant to return to full capacity as COVID-19 lingers” via Teresa Stepzinski of The Florida Times-Union — Days after DeSantis eliminated capacity limits at the state’s restaurants and bars, Jacksonville restaurant owners concerned about a potential resurgence of the coronavirus won’t return to full capacity in their dining rooms for the foreseeable future. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to their customers and staff, they said. “Just because we want COVID to be gone, it’s not,” said Allison D’Aurizio, baker and co-owner of 1748 Bakehouse in historic Springfield. The popular artisanal bakery and cafe plans to stay at its current 50 percent capacity cap “for the foreseeable future,” D’Aurizio told the Times-Union. “The safety of ourselves, staff and customers is more important than a few more seats,” she said. “Our customers still are showing up for us, eating in when we have an open table, getting takeout, shopping in our bodega, and ordering family meals to go.”

Owners of some Jacksonville restaurants, like the 1748 Bakehouse, are reluctant to go back to full capacity. Image via Facebook.

St. Augustine rescinds order mandating face coverings” via News4Jax — After the announcement by Gov. DeSantis for the state to move into Phase 3 of reopening, the city of St. Augustine now says it’s strongly encouraging the use of face masks and coverings throughout the city. According to the administrative order, the city is rescinding all portions of its mask mandate that are in conflict with DeSantis’ order. The city still encourages residents and visitors to wear masks, practice social distancing and wash their hands. Private businesses may still choose to require masks in their place of business. “We recognize the time has come to proceed with Phase 3 of the reopening strategy throughout the state,” City Manager John Regan said in a prepared statement.

Manatee County repeals COVID-19 mask mandate but encourages people to wear them” via Emily Wunderlich of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — After DeSantis announced last week that local governments could not fine individuals for violating local COVID-19 restrictions, Manatee County commissioners on Tuesday repealed the emergency resolution requiring face coverings in indoor spaces where social distancing isn’t possible. Instead, the resolution will be replaced with a proclamation in which masks are not mandated, but businesses are still encouraged to require them at their discretion. Commissioners voted 4-3 to repeal the resolution and 7-0 to approve the proclamation, which was drafted by Commission Chairwoman Betsy Benac. Commissioners Benac, Priscilla Trace, Stephen Jonsson and Vanessa Baugh voted for the repeal, while Commissioners Reggie Bellamy, Carol Whitmore and Misty Servia opposed it. “In the best interest of the county, and furtherance of the public health, safety and welfare of the County, the Board strongly encourages individuals who cannot social distance to wear face coverings and supports businesses displaying signs requiring face masks to be worn in business establishments to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” the proclamation says.

Some Tallahassee restaurants holding back capacity even as state lifts COVID-19 restrictions” via TaMaryn Waters of the Tallahassee Democrat — Many longtime and new Tallahassee-based restaurant owners say they’re not ready to allow full capacity seating despite DeSantis ordering Phase 3 in reopening the state. The latest green light from DeSantis allows businesses such as restaurants, hair salons and bars to reopen at full capacity. COVID-19 cases in Leon County are rising. Earlier this month, Leon County was listed as a hotspot in a New York Times’s online map of coronavirus cases nationwide. This month, hundreds of news cases pushed Leon County over the threshold for more than 10,000 positive cases. The New York Times map shows Leon County has had 10,490 positive cases — 501 new cases in the last seven days.

‘De-emphasize Halloween’: Tallahassee neighborhoods asking for smaller crowds Oct. 31” via CD Davidson-Hiers of the Tallahassee Democrat — Even though Halloween is a month away, the Lafayette Park Neighborhood Association wants Tallahasseeans to know trick-or-treating will look much different this year because of COVID-19. “We are discouraging large crowds,” board member Craig Shaw said. About a week ago, the group’s board came to a consensus that residents should understand how the pandemic will affect local trick-or-treating, he said. The neighborhood lies within Miccosukee Road, Gadsden Street, Magnolia Drive and 6th Avenue. The neighborhood association typically purchases barricades to block off main thruways in the neighborhood such as Beard Street and Ingleside Avenue for the thousands of people who come to the area for the community block party. But not this year.

Various restaurants, bars return to full capacity in Okaloosa” via Tony Judnich of Northwest Florida Daily News — Thanks to an executive order from DeSantis, the folks who operate David’s Catfish House in Crestview have been able to put their tape measures away. In his Phase III order Friday, DeSantis ended coronavirus restrictions to allow restaurants statewide to operate at full capacity. Bars also were allowed to begin enjoying greater than 50% capacity as long as they are not restrained by local government rules. There are no such restrictions in Okaloosa County, where some bars as well as the bar areas of some organizations such as the Elks and Veterans of Foreign Wars have fully reopened.

Bars and restaurants rejoice in opening at full capacity after COVID-19 restrictions” via Tony Mixon of the Panama City News Herald — For Christo’s Sports Bar and Grill owner Christine Christo, the end of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on restaurants in the state could not have come at a better time. The world of sports is at an all-time high of activity due to the odd circumstances games being shut down for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, with the NFL, college football, MLB, and NBA seasons overlapping each other, it’s a great time for bars and restaurants to be open. Christo said she isn’t sure how it will work in the long run — if it’ll go back and forth between closing and reopening — but she is excited about getting back to normal. Reopening during a whirlwind of sports is a good thing for Christo’s Sports Bar and Grill, she said.

Panama City Oktoberfest draws record-breaking, post-pandemic crowds” via Jacqueline Bostick of the Panama City News Herald — Ladies and gents clad in traditional dirndl and lederhosen were as much a draw this Oktoberfest in Panama City as any other year. And the prost went to the thousands of families that patronized businesses downtown on the first weekend free of state-mandated pandemic restrictions. “We were cautiously optimistic because it’s not the regular street fest that everyone’s used to,” said Jennifer Vigil, President and CEO of Destination Panama City. “It did much better than we anticipated.” The tourism agency estimated more than 2,000 people attended the event. The Place Downtown, 429 Harrison Ave., had record sales for any Octoberfest held since it opened five years ago.

Panama City’s Oktoberfest breaks records with post-pandemic crowds.

Dr. Karen Chapman warns that Okaloosa County is not truly ready for Phase 3 opening” via Tom McLaughlin of the NWF Daily News — While some places in Florida have met the requirements to fully open bars and restaurants under the governor’s Phase III plan, Okaloosa County is not among them, Health Department Director Dr. Chapman warned in her weekly newsletter. “Even though the state has moved into Phase 3 because the state overall meets the criteria, Okaloosa has not reached Phase 3 status on its own,” Chapman said in her report to county officials. Okaloosa residents continue to test at rates higher than the 5% goal deemed acceptable under federal guidelines, Chapman said, and there has been no real change in the positivity rate since mid-August.

— CORONA NATION —

Trump allies say the virus has almost run its course. ‘Nonsense,’ experts say.” via Donald G. McNeil Jr. of The New York Times — In the last week, leading epidemiologists from respected institutions have, through different methods, reached the same conclusion: About 85 to 90% of the American population is still susceptible to SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing the current pandemic. The number is important because it means that “herd immunity” is still very far off. The evidence came from antibody testing and from epidemiological modeling. Three epidemiological teams last week calculated the percentage of the country that is infected. What they found runs strongly counter to a theory being promoted in influential circles that the United States has either already achieved herd immunity or is close to doing so and that the pandemic is all but over.

Nearly 9 in 10 Americans are still susceptible to COVID-19.

The U.S. government sent rapid-test machines to 14,000 nursing homes. But they came with unexpected costs and questions about accuracy.” via The New York Times — After months of enduring a dearth of protective medical gear and staggering death tolls from the coronavirus pandemic, nursing home operators and employees across the United States experienced something close to elation as rapid-result test machines paid for by the federal government began arriving last month at 14,000 residential facilities that serve the elderly. The hand-held testing devices, which spit out results in as little as 15 minutes, were intended to quickly diagnose and isolate patients, and alter the deadly calculus of a contagion that has taken the lives of 77,000 nursing home residents and workers, more than 40 percent of the nation’s fatalities from COVID-19.

CDC director overruled on cruise ship ban” via Jonathan Swan of Axios — CDC Director Robert Redfield was overruled when he pushed to extend a “no-sail order” on passenger cruises into next year, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the conversation today in the White House Situation Room. Cruise ships were the sites of some of the most severe early coronavirus outbreaks, before the industry shut down in March. And their future is just the latest disagreement between Redfield and members of Trump’s team. The undermining of Redfield has been the source of much consternation among public health officials inside the administration, who argue that a politically motivated White House is ignoring the science and pushing too aggressively to reopen the economy and encourage large gatherings.

— CORONA ECONOMICS — 

Steven Mnuchin’s deal staved off catastrophe. Can he make another one?” via Jason Zengerle of The New York Times Magazine — There have not been many victims of their own success in the Trump administration, but Mnuchin was trying to stake his claim to that distinction. It was a September afternoon, and the Treasury secretary, sitting in the private conference room off his office, was reflecting on his recent inability to steer a coronavirus relief package through Congress and past the President’s desk. “We’re in a very different situation than we were beforehand, OK?” Mnuchin said, his voice tinged with frustration and resignation. He was comparing the present moment to the state of things six months earlier when the magnitude of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. had just become apparent. “We were in absolute crisis, and we were risking a major, major meltdown of financial conditions, economic conditions and health conditions simultaneously,” he recalled. Mnuchin’s successes and failures amid the pandemic illustrate the balancing act he has tried to strike throughout his tenure as Trump’s Treasury secretary. Despite being presided over by a man whose first book was titled “The Art of the Deal,” the Trump era has been mostly devoid of bargains, big or small; and Mnuchin has been one of the only members of the administration who has displayed any aptitude for getting people to yes.

Steven Mnuchin could be a victim of his own success.

Mass airline layoffs in swing states would further imperil Trump” via Joshua Green of Bloomberg Businessweek — The danger of mass job loss in the airline industry has been apparent since the virus first emerged. Few people are eager to travel in enclosed steel tubes and risk becoming sick, or worse, so U.S. air travel has plummeted. A $25 billion relief package under the CARES Act mitigated the employment effects by forbidding airlines from involuntarily furloughing workers before Oct. 1. For months, airlines and workers’ unions have been imploring Congress and the President to extend that payroll aid, without any success. The political fallout isn’t limited to the presidential race, either. Control of the Senate could also hang in the balance.

Hotels look to Congress amid job losses” via Jim Turner of The News Service of Florida — State and national hotel industry representatives said in a conference call that the second round of federal assistance is needed, even if it’s just freeing up unused money from what are known as the Paycheck Protection Program and the Main Street Lending Program. Lisa Lombardo, chief people and culture officer for Ocala-based HDG Hotels, said money hotels received through the PPP to keep workers employed for two months has run out and they are “banking on” additional relief, as the state’s vital tourism industry could take three to five years to recover. “We played by the original rules and deadlines,” Lombardo said in a call with hotel lobbyists from Florida, Illinois, California and the American Hotel & Lodging Association.

Outdoor dining has helped restaurants avoid disaster. But winter is coming.” via Tim Carman of The Washington Post — The pandemic has already devastated the country’s restaurant industry. Millions of jobs have been lost, and nearly 100,000 restaurants have closed permanently or indefinitely since the outbreak, according to a recent survey from the National Restaurant Association. Restaurateurs are expected to lose $240 million this year, and the worst may be yet to come as winter looms, threatening to slow down or shut down outdoor dining spaces that have given owners hope that they might survive this crisis until a vaccine is widely available. The cold-weather months are when patios are supposed to close and diners automatically move indoors to embrace the warmth of hearths, central heating and the crush of fellow diners. But as more evidence is compiled, a picture is emerging that doesn’t bode well for restaurants this winter: an association between indulging in long meals in indoor spaces and an increase in coronavirus cases.

Movie theaters in jeopardy as studios move blockbusters to 2021, audiences stay home” via Sarah Whitten of CNBC — In late March, like many businesses, the film industry entered a period of forced hibernation as the U.S. went into lockdown to stem the coronavirus pandemic. With indoor cinemas closed, drive-in theaters were a lone bright spot until May, when some state governments began to loosen guidelines and permit indoor theaters to reopen to the public with limited capacity. It wasn’t until August that major chains AMC, Cinemark and Regal unlocked their doors. The hope was that once new Hollywood features arrived, so too would the audiences. That never happened. As the world races to find a vaccine, the economy continues to struggle. Movie theaters are among a host of sectors that do not have a clear path to recovery. The threat of a resurgence of cases in the cooler autumn and winter months makes the future of the industry even more uncertain.

— MORE CORONA — 

Studies begin to untangle obesity’s role in COVID-19” via Katherine Wu of The New York Times — In early April, Edna McCloud woke up to find her hands tied to her hospital bed. She had spent the past four days on a ventilator in a hospital in St. Louis County, Missouri, thrashing and kicking under sedation as she battled a severe case of COVID-19. “They told me, ‘You were a real fighter down there,’” recalled McCloud, a 68-year-old African American retiree with a history of diabetes and heart problems. She weighed close to 300 pounds when she caught the coronavirus, which ravaged her lungs and kidneys. Nearly six months later, she feels proud to have pulled through the worst. “They said people with the conditions I have, normally, this goes the other way,” she said.

— STATEWIDE —

NextEra Energy made takeover approach to Duke Energy” via Cara Lombardo, Maureen Farrell and Dana Cimilluca of The Wall Street Journal — NextEra Energy recently made a takeover approach to Duke Energy, according to people familiar with the matter, testing the waters for what would be a $60 billion-plus combination of two southern utilities. Duke rebuffed the approach but NextEra is still interested in pursuing a deal, some of the people said. There is no guarantee NextEra will do so and if it does, that a deal would result. Should there be one, it would be big. Duke, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, has a market value of roughly $61 billion following a 14% decline in its share price this year, and acquisition of the company could be the largest utility deal ever and the biggest merger so far this year. With a market value of about $139 billion after its stock rose 22% so far this year, Juno Beach, Fla.-based NextEra is the largest public utility company in the U.S.

Florida’s hunt for Chinese Communist ties comes up empty-handed” via Daniel Rivero of WLRN — The state went looking for Chinese communist companies to hold accountable for the COVID-19 pandemic. It hasn’t found any. Florida sent letters to 100,000 businesses and entities registered as vendors with the state in June, asking if they were “owned or controlled by the Communist Party of China.” Months later, that hunt for Chinese communists has come up empty-handed, with the state unable to cite a single company owned or controlled by the Communist Party of China that it has identified through the effort.

Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis sought to blame the COVID-19 pandemic on China. It did not work as planned.

Questions remain on toll road projects” via The News Service of Florida — With a mid-November deadline looming, task forces have been unable to determine if there is a need for three controversial toll-road projects they have been reviewing for more than a year. In draft reports by the Florida Department of Transportation, the task forces said — in somewhat similar language — they couldn’t reach conclusions on specific needs for the roads because of the information available and displayed a preference for first improving or expanding existing highways and utility corridors. The drafts also expressed a need for the department to consider a “no-build” alternative — as desired by environmental and conservation groups — in future project development activities until final recommendations are made.

Hurricane Sally damage estimates surge to $309 million in Escambia County” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — As initial damage assessments to both public and private property in Escambia County from Hurricane Sally reached an estimated $309 million Tuesday, there was still no word from the Federal Emergency Management Agency on whether Florida residents will be able to apply for individual assistance. No Florida residents were eligible for individual assistance as of Tuesday afternoon when Escambia County announced that damage estimates to private property have reached more than $126 million. The $126 million estimate only includes damage to homes and businesses that either had major damage from the storm that slammed into the area Sept. 16 or were destroyed, $111 million in the county and about $16 million in the city of Pensacola.

Skanska has recovered nine of its 22 runaway barges following Hurricane Sally” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — Skanska has removed nine of the 22 barges that came loose from their moorings and ran aground during Hurricane Sally, the company said Tuesday. The company began recovery operations of the runaway barges Friday. “Each barge represents a unique and technically complex recovery operation that we are managing carefully with our partners,” the company said in a statement to the News Journal. The company has said 22 barges came loose during the storm and washed up along the coast of Pensacola and Escambia bays. A dozen landed on people’s private property. At least seven spans of the new Pensacola Bay Bridge were damaged from the barges, knocking the new bridge out of service.

Jimmy Patronis wants accountability from Skanska over barges that damaged property during Hurricane Sally” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — Patronis called for accountability from Skanska, the Swedish construction company whose barges went adrift and damaged state property during Hurricane Sally. In a letter to Skanska CEO Anders Danielsson, the CFO said he has directed the Division of Risk Management to assess the damage and take action against the company as needed. “As Florida’s CFO and the insurer of state property, I am committed to holding companies like Skanska liable for negligent action that damages state property,” Patronis wrote. Hurricane Sally struck the Florida Panhandle on Sept. 16 and afflicted the region with flooding and storm surge. The storm also caused more than 20 Skanska barges to go adrift. While more than half washed ashore onto public property, the Pensacola Bay Bridge was struck by several Skanska barges and is now closed while the Department of Transportation repairs extensive damage.

Gulf Breeze businesses devastated by Pensacola Bay Bridge closure. How locals are helping” via Annie Blanks of the Pensacola News Journal — Yoko McKnight stood in her quiet flower shop, Flowers by Yoko, at the foot of the Pensacola Bay Bridge in Gulf Breeze on Monday morning, arranging a bouquet of white calla lilies for a longtime client. The neon “open” sign was lit up, and the door was open. But the phone wasn’t ringing and no customers were coming through the door — or even driving by the store. Her only visitor was a gray tabby cat named Mr. Misty, who curled up next to her flower arrangement and began drinking water from the vase. It’s been like this at Flowers by Yoko and several other Gulf Breeze businesses ever since Sept. 16, when Hurricane Sally tore through the Florida Panhandle.

Damage to the Pensacola Bay Bridge is devastating to local businesses. Image via Pensacola News Journal.

Northwest Florida farmers reeling from Hurricane Sally expect to lose half their crops” via Colin Warren-Hicks of the Pensacola News Journal — U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue on Monday toured farms in Alabama and Florida to inspect the damage wrought by Hurricane Sally and hear from local farmers, many of whom said they expect to lose about half their harvest due to the storm. Perdue made stops in Summerdale and Loxley, Alabama, before ending his day at a town hall-style meeting at the Jenkins Farm in Jay, where he was joined by U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz. “I’ve seen crops that have been probably cut in half, cotton that was virtually ready to be harvested, peanuts that were ready to be harvested, down to half a crop,” he told the News Journal after concluding the tour.

Pensacola’s 93 parks remain closed nearly two weeks after Hurricane Sally” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — Nearly two weeks after Hurricane Sally lashed the coast, the 93 city parks in Pensacola remain closed as both cleanup and damage assessments continue, particularly at the waterfront parks ravaged by the storm. Hurricane Sally put Pensacola’s waterfront areas under 4 to 5 feet of water after making landfall Sept. 16. As of Monday, waterfront parks like Community Maritime Park, Plaza De Luna and Wayside Park were still too dangerous to be opened to the public, according to Brian Cooper, director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. For example, at Community Maritime Park, many of the waterfront railings along Pensacola Bay are gone, and brick pavers along the sidewalk were ripped up in the storm.

Miniature ‘Sally Sandbar’ emerges under Navarre Beach pier after Hurricane Sally” via Annie Blanks of the Pensacola News Journal — Hurricane Sally may have done a lot of damage to Navarre Beach — $8.3 million dollars, to be exact — but one minor change in the beach landscape delighted beachgoers for a few days after the storm. Late last weekend, the “Sally Sandbar” emerged underneath the Navarre Beach Fishing Pier about 50 yards from the shoreline, creating a miniature temporary island just off the beach. People on social media likened the sandbar to Destin’s Crab Island, although Navarre Beach Lifeguard Director Austin Turnbull said the exposed sand is neither a sandbar nor an island. “That’s actually a trough that feeds rip currents on either side,” he said. “Whenever we describe rip currents, that’s a perfect example.“

Assignment editors — Rep. Ron Klein, former Florida Congressman, shareholder at Holland and Knight, and FAIR Foundation Board Member, will moderate a virtual panel of Mayors as they discuss resiliency challenges in their cities, with featured Mayors Dan Gelber of Miami Beach, Van Johnson of Savannah, Georgia, and Dean Trantalis of Fort Lauderdale discussing their cities efforts and challenges in dealing with sea-level rise and other climate events, 1 p.m. Eastern time. For a press pass to the event contact Cindy Campbell at ccampbell@fairfound.org.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Trump’s assault on Twitter is an attack on the First Amendment” via Lee C. Bollinger and Donald E. Graham of The Washington Post — Trump’s ongoing assault against Twitter may represent the most egregious violation of the First Amendment by a President since Richard Nixon went to war against this newspaper almost half a century ago. Given the stakes, the reaction has been strangely muted. Perhaps Americans have become accustomed to the President’s tweets and don’t believe he would do violence to his primary communications platform. Perhaps people are weary of the ceaseless controversies around social media. Regardless, the seriousness of what’s happening and the threat it represents to one of our country’s most basic principles must be confronted. Hard-won freedoms allow Americans to criticize the government and to voice any opinion without being punished for it. You cannot do so in countries such as China, but here, the First Amendment to the Constitution protects a level of uninhibited expression and wide-open debate found in few other nations.

Sen. Rick Scott meets with Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett in Washington D.C.

Trump’s silence continues on how many refugees can enter the U.S. this fiscal year” via Monique O. Madan of the Miami Herald — The Trump administration has yet to announce how many refugees will be admitted into the United States during the upcoming fiscal year, which starts Thursday. Without a “presidential determination,” which dictates how many refugees can come to the United States each fiscal year, refugees cannot be resettled in the country, except for a few exceptions. The silence from the Trump administration about the 2020-2021 fiscal year refugee ceiling has parallels to last year’s announcement, which was made shortly before the fiscal year began on Oct. 1. Trump announced then that he would slash the Refugee Resettlement program cap from 30,000 to 18,000, making it the third consecutive year that the administration slashed the program.

ICE preparing targeted arrests in ‘sanctuary cities,’ amplifying President’s campaign theme” via Nick Miroff and Devlin Barrett of The Washington Post — The Trump administration is preparing an immigration enforcement blitz next month that would target arrests in U.S. cities and jurisdictions that have adopted “sanctuary” policies, according to three U.S. officials who described a plan with public messaging that echoes the President’s law-and-order campaign rhetoric. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement operation, known informally as the “sanctuary op,” could begin in California as soon as later this week. It would then expand to cities including Denver and Philadelphia, according to two of the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive government law enforcement plans. Chad Wolf, acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, probably will travel to at least one of the jurisdictions where the operation will take place to boost Trump’s claims that leaders in those cities have failed to protect residents from dangerous criminals.

— LOCAL NOTES —

Rick Kriseman’s right-hand man sought protesters for DeSantis visit” via Josh Solomon of the Tampa Bay Times — Friday morning, when DeSantis was set to speak in a Beach Drive ballroom, Mayor Kriseman’s right-hand man, Kevin King, sent out Facebook messages asking for protesters to appear outside the event. “Governor apparently coming to St Pete around noon at Birchwood to cause trouble if you feel like secretly getting a group together,” he wrote to Susan McGrath, former chair of the Pinellas County Democratic Party. “Could use some Wear a Mask signs,” wrote King, whose title is chief of policy and public engagement and who said his job is to run the day to day operations of the Mayor’s Office. “Or Fix Florida First.” Kriseman, a Democrat, has criticized the Republican governor’s leadership during the coronavirus, including his inaccessibility and often confusing executive orders.

Kevin King called on Democratic protesters to confront Ron DeSantis while in St. Petersburg.

JEA bidder Florida Power and Light discussed donating to charities led by City Council members” via Christopher Hong of The Florida Times-Union — A month after JEA announced last July it would soon be for sale, Florida Power and Light executives met at the Epping Forest Yacht and Country Club with the lobbyists hired to help with the political side of the company’s to buy the city-owned utility. Among the assignments the lobbyists received at the Aug. 23 meeting: find charities with close ties to City Council members, who would have to vote on any deal to sell JEA. Florida Power and Light’s game plan included a “charitable giving” component, according to documents obtained by a City Council committee investigating the failed sale and testimony to that committee by one of FPL’s lobbyists, Sam Mousa.

Seminole schools, union agree to boost base bay to $46,310, short of DeSantis’ goal” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — The base pay for classroom teachers in Seminole County’s public schools would rise to $46,310 this year under a tentative agreement the Seminole County School Board approved Tuesday. The agreement, which now goes to teachers for a vote, would fall short of the $47,500 goal set by DeSantis when he ushered a teacher pay package through the Florida Legislature this spring. But Seminole’s plan, like that in neighboring Lake County, would give big pay hikes to brand-new teachers and others in the early years of their careers, as the Governor wanted. Lake’s plan, approved by its school board Monday, raises the minimum pay to $44,750.

Strange holiday trip to town hall adds new chapter to this Mayor’s recent troubles” via Aaron Leibowitz and Charles Rabin of the Miami Herald — Last week, a Broward inspector general’s report concluded that Pembroke Park Mayor Ashira Mohammed violated election and ethics laws in ways that could have criminal implications. Now, amid a tumultuous stretch for the small South Broward town, Mohammed finds herself in the nexus of a separate investigation into the mysterious disappearance of a since-fired park supervisor’s cellphone. As part of that investigation, the Broward Sheriff’s Office is reviewing surveillance footage that shows Mohammed, her assistant, and the parks supervisor at a town hall on the night of Memorial Day, one day before the phone — which was being requested in a lawsuit that alleged the supervisor sent sexually harassing text messages to one of his employees — was reported missing.

— SMOLDERING — 

Tampa Chief faults State Attorney for ‘playing judge and jury’ in protest cases” via Tony Marrero of the Tampa Bay Times — Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan is raising concerns about Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren’s decisions to drop charges against some protesters. In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times, Dugan called the decisions inconsistent and said Warren is making calls that should be left up to the court. “Why is our state attorney playing judge and jury?” Dugan said. “Let’s present the evidence and let a judge or jury decide what the standards are going to be for what’s appropriate in our community.” Dugan’s comments come after he learned that Warren’s office was dropping charges against two protesters who blocked traffic in South Tampa in June. Warren has also declined to prosecute dozens of protesters Dugan’s officers have arrested since May when marchers started taking to the streets to protest police brutality and systemic racism.

Tampa police Chief Brian Dugan is concerned about dropping charges against protesters, calling the state attorney ‘judge and jury.’

St. Petersburg chief: Officers should have found man with gun” via Kathryn Varn, Josh Solomon and Kavitha Surana of the Tampa Bay Times — Police chief Anthony Holloway said officers should have found and questioned the man seen aiming a gun at protesters on Saturday night. “We made a mistake,” Holloway told the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce. “That officer in the area should have at least stopped that suspect that night and got his information. That subject shouldn’t have gotten away from us. We were there, and we should have taken action.” The chief said there will be an increased police presence this coming weekend. He also had a message for the counterprotesters: “We don’t need those people coming into our city with their guns or whatever trying to take control of our streets. We have control of our streets.”

— TOP OPINION —

Dems blocking Amy Coney Barrett would bring chaos” via Paul Renner for the Orlando Sentinel — In 2016, the Orlando Sentinel demanded that the U.S. Senate fulfill their “constitutional responsibility” when it came to President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland. Fast forward to 2020 and the Sentinel seems unwilling to hide its scorn for Trump, Sen. Marco Rubio, and the same constitutional process for the current Supreme Court vacancy. Not surprisingly, when the President is from one party and the opposing party controls the Senate, the Senate can delay consideration of the President’s nominee until after the presidential election. That’s what happened in 2016. But in 2020, Republicans control both the White House and the Senate. Democrats object to this constitutional process and have threatened to retaliate if they win back the Senate, even if it brings chaos and constitutional crisis.

— OPINIONS —

End the stalemate over coronavirus relief” via the Bloomberg Opinion editorial board — Last week, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin finally got around to talking about a new round of coronavirus aid, and yesterday the Democrats released a new plan. Not before time. The prolonged failure to extend fiscal relief poses a grave threat to the economy. Differences remain between the two sides, but these disagreements cannot justify doing nothing at all, which, even now, remains a distinct possibility. A compromise should be struck without further delay. Undoubtedly, Republicans bear most of the blame for the impasse. To replace the expiring provisions of the previous fiscal package, they proposed roughly $650 billion of additional spending. That’s far too little.

Trump has sold off America’s credibility for his personal gain” via Alexander Vindman and John Gans of The New York Times — A year ago, the world read a record of a phone call in which Trump pressured Ukraine’s government to provide dirt on his political rival, Biden. The transcript of that call, along with other evidence, made clear the President and his associates asked officials in Kyiv to deliver on Trump’s political interests in exchange for American military aid needed to defend Ukraine. At the end of last year, the President was impeached for that abuse of power. This was not a unique instance of Trump’s personal priorities corrupting American foreign policy. As the 2020 election grew closer, the President increasingly ignored the policies developed by his own government and instead pursued transactions guided by self-interest and instinct. The result is a patchwork of formal policies and informal deals that have undermined America’s interests and credibility. But Trump’s sloppy management matters less than its result: No one can trust American foreign policy right now.

The GOP ship is capsizing. Who gets a lifeboat?” via Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post — As the electoral college map keeps expanding for former Vice President Biden, eventually there will be no viable path to 270 electoral votes for Trump. What do Republicans do? It might behoove them to vote for a big stimulus project even if that means putting off a Supreme Court confirmation vote. Republicans might start overtly separating themselves from Trump on his attacks on mail-in voting. They might even suggest it is just not right for someone who claims to be very, very rich (let’s dispense with the notion he’s a billionaire; in all likelihood, he is worth “only” seven figures) to pay no taxes. These things might help, but frankly, the only chance for some of them is to plead: Don’t give Biden a blank check. And that’s precisely what he will have if Trump drags Republican Senators under. It would be fitting if they join the ranks of the unemployed they could not spare time to support.

Reckless DeSantis moves Florida to Phase 3 crowds. He’s a threat to public safety” via Fabiola Santiago of the Miami Herald — Floridians should never forget this. Late Friday afternoon, just in time for happy hour, DeSantis put his finger to the political winds — and ordered bars, restaurants, and nightclubs to open at full capacity. His decision had the predictable outcome of packing crowds indoors and out, and if you watched video footage or drove around Fort Lauderdale and Miami Beach, you could see throngs congregating and not wearing masks. The gaiety can be deadly, but what the hell! The Governor says it’s OK. We’ve been liberated from local rule! South Florida wasn’t alone in the free-for-all debauchery inspired by the Governor’s words. His reckless move to reopen Florida’s economy amounts to playing political calculus with a deadly disease, Trump-style.

Bob Asztalos: ‘Yes’ vote on Amendment 6 will honor those who served our country” via Florida Politics — For those veterans whose combat disabilities resulted from defending our nation, they receive a discount on their property taxes based on their disability. However, once that veteran passes away, the property tax discount disappears, leaving the surviving spouse (who is often a senior citizen) to cover the full tax bill. This can cause significant financial challenges for a single widow or widower who is likely already surviving on a fixed income. Amendment 6 allows for the property tax benefit to transfer to a veteran’s surviving spouse so long as the spouse does not remarry or dispose of the property. These military spouses stood loyally beside these heroes in their time of need, and now Florida should do the same.

U.S. adapts to climate threats with drastic shift in flood strategy” via Julia Musto of Fox News — As hurricane season enters its most dangerous period, the U.S. is shaking up its strategy to tackle severe flooding, using tax dollars to move entire communities out of harm’s way. While the combination of intense storms such as this week’s Category 4 Hurricane Laura and Tropical Storm Marco may be remarkable, Southern states such as Louisiana and Texas have witnessed the destructive forces of the systems firsthand. Although a shift in policy that was once viewed as too extreme to consider, coastal states’ reality has also changed. Earlier this month, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) quietly announced a new $500 million grant program designed to pay for large-scale relocation. The Department of Housing and Urban Development started a similar program for $16 billion in 2019 and the Army Corps of Engineers began to tell local officials that they must agree to force people out of their homes or forfeit federal money for flood-protection projects.

— TODAY’S SUNRISE —

Gov. DeSantis is facing pushback over his decision to end state mitigation efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— The Governor is defending his decision to reopen bars, restaurants and nightclubs at full capacity, saying the state will be getting millions of new instant test kits from the feds for use at nursing homes and senior centers.

— Florida’s Department of Health confirmed 3,266 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday, the highest number in the past ten days. They also reported new 106 fatalities.

— Florida unions are supporting Amendment 2, which seeks to raise the minimum wage. If they left it to the Legislature, it would never happen.

— Unions are also opposing Amendment 4, which makes it much harder and far more expensive for citizens to bypass the Legislature to get an amendment on the ballot.

— Liberal groups are pleading with Sens. Rubio and Rick Scott to oppose the President’s pick for the Supreme Court because they believe it would be the end of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

— And finally, a Florida Man drove his SUV in the golf cart lane. As expected, alcohol was a factor.

To listen, click on the below:

— ALOE —

‘Borat’ sequel to be released by Amazon before election” via Jake Coyle of The Associated Press — Borat is back. Sacha Baron Cohen has filmed a sequel to his 2006 film “Borat! Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” that Amazon plans to release before the election. The streaming giant confirmed Tuesday that it has acquired worldwide rights to the film. It’s reportedly titled: “Borat: Gift of Pornographic Monkey to Vice Premier Mikhael Pence to Make Benefit Recently Diminished Nation of Kazakhstan.” Reports have steadily accumulated about the project throughout the summer as it was filmed in secret during the pandemic. In early July, Rudy Giuliani called the police on Cohen after an interview in which Cohen emerged in character. Giuliani told Page Six: “This guy comes running in wearing a crazy, what I would say was a pink transgender outfit. It was a pink bikini, with lace.”

Borat is back. Image via AP.

‘Lion King’ prequel in the works with director Barry Jenkins” via Aaron Couch and Borys Kit of The Hollywood Reporter — More Lion King is on the way, courtesy of Jenkins. The Oscar-winning Moonlight filmmaker will helm a prequel to Disney’s 2019 hit. Lion King scribe Jeff Nathanson has penned a draft of the prequel. Jon Favreau directed the first installment, a remake of the 1994 animated classic. It used innovative techniques to create photorealistic animals and African landscapes and voice starred Donald Glover as Simba and Beyoncé as Nala. It became a massive hit, earning $1.65 billion globally for Disney. Jenkins earned a screenwriting Oscar for 2017 best picture winner “Moonlight,” which he directed, and was also nominated for his screenplay for his directorial follow-up, 2018’s “If Beale Street Could Talk.” He recently wrapped filming on the Amazon limited series “The Underground Railroad.”

What Michelle Todd is readingDom Pérignon’s 2010 vintage redeems a year winemakers wish to forget” via Kristen Shirley of Bloomberg — In the best years, vintners will sometimes release a wine using only grapes from a singular, superior harvest; 2010 wasn’t one of those years. Much of the crop was lost after two months’ worth of rain fell over two days in mid-August. That led to an invasion of botrytis, or gray mold, and rot. This summer, Dom Pérignon became the first major house to release a 2010 vintage after discovering that as the surviving grapes ripened, they’d retained a high level of acidity, a rare occurrence. Its small run ($188 a bottle) balances rich fruit flavors with a refreshing character that Vincent Chaperon, the brand’s chef de cave, describes as “vigorous yet graceful.”

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Celebrating today is Rep. Clovis Watson, Michael Cantens of Flagler Strategies, Tracy Duda ChapmanJason Gonzalez of Shutts & Bowen, Jason Holloway, Steve Lapinski, Capital City Consulting’s Chris Schoonover, and Vito Sheeley.

___

Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, A.G. Gancarski, Renzo Downey and Drew Wilson. It is just sitting seat is responsible

Written By

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

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