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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 10.5.20

Here’s your AM rundown of people, politics and policy in the Sunshine State.

This brave, kind, curious, fierce, hilarious, deeply intelligent young girl turns 8 today. Her mother and I could not be more proud of her and how she’s navigated this difficult time. She has the heart of a champion.

Ella Joyce Schorsch atop her pony, Biscuit.


Today, the Florida Hospital Association (FHA) welcomes Mary Mayhew as its fifth President and Chief Executive Officer.

Mayhew most recently served as Secretary of the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA), where she was responsible for health policy and administration of the state’s Medicaid program. Mayhew previously served more than six years as Commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services and 11 years as a Vice President of the Maine Hospital Association.

Congratulations to Mary Mayhew, newly named president of the FHA.

“Mary is the ideal person for this critical role at a pivotal time in health care,” said FHA Board Chair Aurelio M. Fernandez, III, President and CEO of Memorial Healthcare System. “From her hands-on leadership approach to her deep knowledge of health care policy, Mary will be a most forceful advocate for our hospitals, our patients and hundreds of thousands of health care workers who are on the front lines caring for Floridians each and every day.”

Mayhew takes the helm of the state’s leading hospital association at a crucial time. Last month, FHA released an assessment of COVID-19’s impact on Florida’s hospitals, estimating $3.8 billion in financial losses through the end of June. These staggering net losses, which account for federal relief funding, represent just four months of data. Projected costs through August were almost double, at $7.4 billion. In addition, with a special legislative session on the horizon, an increasing number of Floridians without health insurance and billions of dollars needed to balance this year’s budget, health care funding will be at the forefront of policy discussions. 


A new survey shows Florida voters are mixed on how the COVID-19 diagnosis of President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump will impact the 2020 presidential election.

The survey of 1,000 Florida voters, conducted by Sachs Media Group, shows nearly all Floridians are aware the President and First Lady have contracted the virus. Of those polled, 94% believe the diagnosis is true, rather than a “conspiracy designed to distract voters,” the survey said.

Voters have mixed feelings about Donald Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis, and what it could do to the election. Image via AP.

Beyond that, however, the divisions begin to show.

Roughly 59% of those surveyed believe the President’s diagnosis will not impact the election. On the other hand, a sizable portion believes it will.

According to the survey, 23% believe it makes Trump more likely to lose while 19% believe it makes him more likely to win. Those who identify with a party are more likely to believe the diagnosis will work in their party’s favor, the survey said

Notably, 84% of Florida voters said Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis has made no difference in their voting preference while only 1% reported being swayed by the diagnosis.

Trump’s handling of the pandemic has remained a point of contention among American voters at-large. In a recent video of Trump speaking from a hospital, he defended his decision to continue campaigning and holding large events during the pandemic.

The survey shows 64% said Trump’s diagnosis shows he “should have done more to encourage people to wear face masks and social distance through this pandemic.” That view is held by 96% of Democrats, 79% of non-partisans, and 35% of Republicans.

With less than a month left before the election, Florida is considered a must-win for both Trump and Vice President Joe Biden.

In all, the survey reports that 47% of Florida voters favor Biden while 45% favor Trump. Notably, 7% of Republicans, 4% of Democrats, and 13% of non-partisans said they are undecided.

White House physician and Navy Cmdr. Dr. Sean Conley on Sunday said Trump “has continued to improve” and may be released as early as Monday.


@BarackObama: Michelle and I hope that the President, First Lady, and all those affected by the coronavirus around the country are getting the care they need and are on the path to a speedy recovery. Obviously, we’re in the midst of a big political battle right now, and while there’s a lot at stake, let’s remember that we’re all Americans. We’re all human beings. And we want everyone to be healthy, no matter our party.

@MarcAmbinder: Those of us who have researched the [Ronald] Reagan assassination’s aftermath know that communications silence even in good faith damages national security. My sense as to why the White House isn’t briefing: fear and paralysis. They don’t know what to say. No one knows anything.

@NPRGreene: Bush 43’s White House was more detailed and transparent with us after the President choked on a pretzel … and here we are talking about a dangerous virus with potentially long-term complications.

Tweet, tweet:

@JamesHohmann: The President’s doctor saying he was “trying to reflect the upbeat attitude of the team” by misleading the American people and otherwise dissembling is a sound bite for the ages.

@MarcACaputo: It would seem reasonable that the WH has, or is setting up, the equivalent of a hospital COVID unit to handle the needs of its 74-year-old, overweight occupant who, if he’s discharged from the hospital soon, still has multiple drugs/therapies in his system & would be contagious

@FBSaunders: I’ve been thinking a lot about my convo with the Trump camp’s Marc Lotter. While advocating for an in-person RNC this summer he said: “America wasn’t built by people who hide. America was built by people who take risks …” Seems to summarize the mentality that got us here.

@SethAbramson: I guess my question to America would be this: if the White House doesn’t even care enough about people it invited to one of its most important events of the year to do any contact tracing after a major outbreak at that event, what in the world makes you think they care about you?

@EllenBarryNYT: It’s worth pausing and thinking of all the families that buried loved ones this summer without holding funerals or gathering together to mourn. There was a cost to that, borne by so many ordinary American families.


Ashley Moody’s 2020 Human Trafficking Summit — 1; first vice presidential debate at the University of Utah — 2; Amazon’s annual Prime Day begins — 8; NBA season ends (last possible date) — 9; second presidential debate (tentatively) scheduled in Miami — 10; Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” premieres — 11; NBA free agency (tentative) — 13; Florida Chamber’s Future of Florida Forum — 15; HBO debuts 2000 presidential election doc ‘537 Votes’ — 16; third presidential debate (tentative) at Belmont — 17; “The Empty Man” premieres — 18; 2020 General Election — 29; NBA 2020-21 training camp — 36; The Masters begins — 38; NBA draft — 44; “No Time to Die” premieres — 46; Pixar’s “Soul” premieres — 46; College basketball season slated to begin — 51; NBA 2020-21 opening night — 58; Florida Automated Vehicles Summit — 58; “Death on the Nile” premieres — 73; “Wonder Woman 1984” rescheduled premiere — 81; Greyhound racing ends in Florida — 87; Super Bowl LV in Tampa — 125; “A Quiet Place Part II” rescheduled premiere — 138; “Black Widow” rescheduled premiere — 153; “Top Gun: Maverick” rescheduled premiere — 270; Disney’s “Shang Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings” premieres — 277; new start date for 2021 Olympics — 291; “Jungle Cruise” premieres — 299; Disney’s “Eternals” premieres — 396; “Spider-Man Far From Home” sequel premieres — 399; Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” premieres — 431; “Thor: Love and Thunder” premieres — 495; “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” premieres — 548; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” sequel premieres — 729.

— COVID45 —

Donald Trump seemed to defy the laws of science and disease. Then, the coronavirus caught up with him.” via David A. Fahrenthold, Josh Dawsey, Carol D. Leonnig and David Nakamura of The Washington Post — Trump contracted the novel coronavirus after months in which he and people around him, his aides, his children, even his golf-club members, avoided taking basic steps to prevent the virus’s spread, like wearing masks and avoiding large indoor crowds. Mask-wearing had become rare among Trump’s staff and the Secret Service agents and military service crew aboard Air Force One, even after national security adviser Robert C. O’Brien tested positive in July. On the campaign trail, Trump’s sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump have spoken to packed audiences in indoor venues. And the Trump campaign violated state regulations limiting the size of gatherings in Nevada, earning a public rebuke from the Governor after the President addressed thousands at an indoor event there last month. They all took their cues from Trump himself, who has rarely worn masks, sometimes mocked those who did and disputed the advice from his own government’s experts.

Donald Trump seemed to defy both science and disease until COVID-19 caught up with him. Image via AP.

Trump didn’t disclose first positive COVID-19 test while awaiting a second test on Thursday” via Michael C. Bender and Rebecca Ballhaus of The Wall Street Journal — Trump received a positive result on Thursday evening before making an appearance on Fox News in which he didn’t reveal those results. Instead, he confirmed earlier reports that one of his top aides had tested positive for coronavirus and mentioned the second test he had taken that night for which he was awaiting results. Under White House protocols, the more reliable test that screens a specimen from deeper in the nasal passage is administered only after a rapid test shows a positive reading. Based on people familiar with the matter, the President’s tests followed that protocol.

Trump leaves hospital briefly to greet supporters outside” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — Trump declared, “I get it,” in a message to the nation Sunday evening before briefly leaving the hospital to greet cheering supporters from his motorcade, a surprising move that suggested that his health — and his understanding of the coronavirus — may be improving. “It’s been a very interesting journey. I learned a lot about COVID,” Trump said, standing in his hospital room in a video posted on social media. “I learned it by really going to school.” He added, “I get it, and I understand it.” At least one medical professional inside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where Trump has been hospitalized since Friday evening, questioned whether Trump had really learned anything.

Donald Trump waves to supporters on a short trip outside Walter Reed Medical Center.

Trump family, aides flouted Cleveland hotel mask mandate ahead of debate” via Benjamin Siegel and Will Steakin of ABC News — Hours before they were seen watching Tuesday’s presidential debate without masks in violation of safety protocols, members of Trump‘s family, campaign staff and White House team also flouted a mask mandate at a hotel frequented by visitors to Cleveland Clinic. Trump and his traveling entourage spent several hours ahead of the debate at Cleveland Clinic at the InterContinental Suites Hotel Cleveland, one of several hotels near or on the campus of the world-class medical facility, and used by people traveling to the clinic for work and medical procedures. ABC News spotted Eric and Lara Trump, White House adviser and the President’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, and Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien, who has since tested positive for COVID-19, walking around the hotel lobby without masks, perusing the snack shop and a buffet that appeared to be set aside for the White House group.

Unmasked: Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump, Tiffany Trump and Donald Trump Jr. sit in the audience during the first presidential debate. Image via Washington Post/Melina Mara.

Invincibility punctured by infection: How the coronavirus spread in Trump’s White House” via Philip Rucker, Josh Dawsey, Ashley Parker and Robert Costa of The Washington Post — The ceremony in the White House Rose Garden last Saturday was a triumphal flashback to the Before Times, before public health guidelines restricted mass gatherings before people were urged to wear masks and socially distance. Trump and first lady Melania Trump welcomed more than 150 guests as the President formally introduced Judge Amy Coney Barrett, his nominee for the Supreme Court. Five days later, that feeling of invincibility was cruelly punctured. On Thursday, counselor to the President Hope Hicks, who reported feeling symptoms during a trip with the President to Minnesota on Wednesday, tested positive for the virus. Early Friday morning, Trump announced that he and the first lady also had tested positive and had begun isolating inside the White House residence. 

—”Historic photos of Trump being transported to Walter Reed for coronavirus treatment” via The Los Angeles Times

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, third from left, waits with others as Donald Trump prepares to leave the White House to go to Walter Reed Medical Center. Image via AP. 

An army of doctors. Access to an experimental drug. A special patient gets special care.” via Lenny Bernstein and Laurie McGinley of The Washington Post — There was no missing the message when a phalanx of white-coated doctors and nurses stood in the bright sunshine outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center for a briefing on Trump’s health Saturday, and White House physician Conley ticked off 13 names on the President’s medical team. Trump’s caregivers are sparing nothing in their attempt to treat his coronavirus infection. From his team of providers to his helicopter flight to the hospital to the experimental drug that fewer than 10 others have received outside a clinical trial, Trump has access to care available to few of the other 7.3 million people in the United States infected so far by the coronavirus. Even with symptoms that Conley appeared to describe as moderate at worst, the 74-year-old President is the VIP of VIPs in his battle against COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Little evidence that White House has offered contact tracing, guidance to hundreds potentially exposed” via Josh Dawsey, Yasmeen Abutaleb, Isaac Stanley-Becker and Joel Achenbach of The Washington Post — Hours before Trump tested positive for the novel coronavirus and just one day before he was admitted to the hospital, he mingled with more than 200 people at his New Jersey golf club for a campaign fundraiser. Less than a week before that, he welcomed 150 political allies and religious leaders, including several who are now infected, to the White House to meet the jurist he has nominated to the Supreme Court. In between, the President met with dozens of aides without wearing a mask, even in close quarters and after top aide Hicks had tested positive. He appeared before thousands at a rally in Minnesota. And he held a nationally televised debate with former Vice President Biden after holing up with debate preppers.

Analysis: In the midst of battling COVID-19, Trump also faces a credibility crisis over his health scare” via Julie Pace of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — One month from Election Day, Trump is facing a credibility crisis as yawning as his health crisis, at a moment when he needs the public’s trust the most. The President’s coronavirus infection, as well as the illnesses of several aides and allies, has imperiled the highest levels of the U.S. government. The White House’s efforts Saturday to project calm backfired in stunning fashion, resulting in a blizzard of confusing and contradictory information about the health and well-being of the commander in chief. It’s a moment months in the making, the collision of Trump’s repeated defiance of his own administration’s guidelines for staying safe during the pandemic and his well-known disregard for facts. The result: deep uncertainty for Americans over who and what to believe about the health of the nation’s leader at a perilous moment in U.S. history. “This is bigger than Trump. It’s about the institution of the presidency,” said Robert Gibbs, who served as President Barack Obama’s first White House press secretary.

At the White House, an eerie quiet and frustration with the chief of staff” via Annie Karni of The New York Times — In a memo to his senior staff on Friday morning,Marc Short, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff, encouraged everyone to stay away from their offices in the Old Executive Office Building while contact tracing was going on. On Saturday, he held an all-staff conference call to discuss what the coming weeks would look like while President Donald Trump remained under treatment for the coronavirus, and later reiterated the message that staff members were to work from home.

How the everyday chaos of reporting on the Trump White House played out for the world to see Saturday” via Sarah Ellison of The Washington Post — The dispatches began routinely enough for an out-of-the-ordinary day, with Pool Report #2 from Cheryl Bolen, the Bloomberg White House reporter on pool duty Saturday. “Pool took vans over to Walter Reed, arriving at 10:31 a.m. We are attempting to learn the logistics of Dr. Conley’s update on POTUS’s health, scheduled for 11 a.m., and will advise soonest.” The report, sent at 10:33 a.m., was a typical transmission from the email list that provides regular updates each day on the President’s activities and is, at the most basic level, the primary source for the press to communicate what is happening with the commander in chief. But as the media continued to wait for the President’s medical team outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, the next four hours of reports encapsulated the chaos that has been the defining feature of covering the Trump White House, this time on what might be the most consequential moment of his presidency.


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 Sunday, the CNN average has Biden taking up to 52% compared to 42% 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. As of Sunday, Biden has increased to an 81 in 100 chance of winning compared to Trump, who slipped to a 19 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 28.6%, while Florida comes in second with 13.8%. Other states include Wisconsin (13.3%), Michigan (9 %), Arizona (5.1%), Minnesota (4.2%), North Carolina (4.0%) and North Carolina (4%).

The latest survey of polling shows Joe Biden inching ahead.

PredictIt: As of Sunday, the PredictIt trading market has Biden jumping to $0.65 a share, with Trump dropping to $0.39.

Real Clear Politics: As of Sunday, the RCP average of polling top battleground states gives Biden a lead over Trump 50.6% to 42.5%. The RCP average also has Biden averaging at +8.1 points ahead.

Sabato’s Crystal Ball: With the first debate now in the books, we have close to 20 rating changes across the Electoral College, Senate, and House. Biden is now over 270 electoral votes in our ratings as we move several Midwestern states in his favor. Changes in the battle for Congress benefit Democrats almost exclusively. We’re moving two Senate races in their direction, as well as several House contests.

The Economist: As of Sunday, 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 8 in 9 versus Trump with 1 in 8 or 11%. They still give Biden a 98% chance (better than 19 in 20) of winning the most votes, with Trump at only 2% (less than 1 in 20).


Trump’s illness makes it clear: This election was always about the virus” via Alexander Burns of The New York Times — The 2020 election was always going to end like this. Perhaps not precisely like this. Perhaps not with the President and the first lady contracting the coronavirus, along with the head of the Republican National Committee and members of the White House staff. Perhaps not with the campaign calendar thrown into disarray and the remaining debates in jeopardy. But if the nature of this October climax was unpredictable, it seemed all but foreordained that the coronavirus pandemic would dominate the campaign to the end. And for all of the tumult of the race between Trump and Biden, for all of the other currents battering the country and its leaders in an election year, the issue of the virus has never retreated as the overwhelming factor.

Donald Trump’s bout with COVID-19 proves that the 2020 election is all about the virus.

With Trump sidelined, his campaign promises MAGA as usual” via Maggie Haberman and Annie Karni of The New York Times — The Trump campaign is not changing its advertising or messaging, even with the candidate in the hospital. The political operation is not bereft of leaders; the campaign manager is still helping run things from afar after testing positive for the virus. Advisers are not showing any evidence of worry, despite public polls showing Trump still behind in key states he won in 2016. On the first weekend of the new Trump political reality, the overarching signals were about continuity and resolve, even though the landscape was one of change: rallies canceled in Wisconsin, fundraising reworked without the incumbent candidate and campaign operations adjusting on the fly. At 4 p.m. on Saturday, Vice President Mike Pence held a call with the Trump-Pence reelection staff nationwide, trying to rally the troops and lay out plans for the coming weeks.

Joe Biden leads Trump by 14 points nationally a month from Election Day, NBC/WSJ poll finds” via Jacob Pramuk of CNBC — Biden’s national lead over Trump jumped this month, and voters consider the Democratic challenger better equipped to handle a range of key issues than the Republican incumbent, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll found. Biden garners the support of 53% of registered voters nationally, versus 39% for Trump, according to the survey released Sunday. The 14-percentage point advantage in the poll, taken after Tuesday’s first presidential debate but before the early Friday announcement of Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis, compares with Biden’s 8-percentage point edge in an NBC/WSJ survey taken last month. Respondents believe Biden better handled the debate, a free-for-all in which Trump frequently interrupted his opponent and Biden called the President a “clown.” The survey found 49% of voters think Biden did a better job, while 24% think Trump performed better. Another 17% said neither man did a good job, and 9% answered that they are not sure.

Biden looks to seal election after Trump’s week from hell” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO — Biden is on the campaign trail. Trump is in the hospital. In a role reversal, the President who mocked his rival for being weak and hiding “in his basement” is stuck in isolation under doctors’ supervision while Biden jets off to states like Michigan on Friday and Florida on Monday, with the battleground map all to himself. It’s a contrast the Biden campaign intends to sharpen as long as Trump is sidelined from coronavirus. Only a month remains until Election Day, and a record 3.2 million Americans already cast early ballots in 21 states, with Democrats outvoting Republicans so far. The Biden campaign, under strict orders from the candidate to not speak ill of Trump personally while he’s in the hospital, announced it was pulling its negative ads out of respect to the President, though some still aired on stations that didn’t take them down quickly enough.

Debate commission accedes to Biden campaign’s ‘health and safety’ objections for VP debate” via Natasha Korecki and Alex Isenstadt of POLITICO — The Commission on Presidential Debates has agreed to seat Kamala Harris and Pence 12 feet apart at the vice presidential debate next week, after the Biden campaign raised health and safety objections to the original spacing between the two candidates because of COVID-19 concerns. As of Friday evening, however, the commission would not accede to the Biden campaign‘s request that Harris and Pence stand during the debate. Instead, the two will be seated, which was the preference of the Trump campaign, a source familiar with the discussions said. Negotiations had been underway before Trump announced early Friday that he had tested positive for COVID-19. But they became especially fraught throughout the day after the Biden campaign and others who attended the Tuesday presidential debate in Cleveland were undergoing testing to make sure they hadn‘t been infected at the debate. Concerns heightened after 11 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Cleveland stemming from the debate.

Justice Dept., FBI planning for the possibility of Election Day violence, voting disruptions” via Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett of The Washington Post — Bracing for possible civil unrest on Election Day, the Justice Department is planning to station officials in a command center at FBI headquarters to coordinate the federal response to any disturbances or other problems with voting that may arise across the country, officials familiar with the matter said. Though the Justice Department monitors elections every year to ensure voters can cast their ballots, officials’ concerns are more acute this year that toxic politics, combined with the potential uncertainty surrounding vote tallies, could lead to violent demonstrations or clashes between opposing factions, those familiar with the matter said. Preparations have been underway in recent weeks to deal with a wide range of possible problems, the officials said. Like others, they spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions.

Delays in verifying mail-in ballots will slow election tally” via Anthony Izaguirre of The Associated Press — Voters awaiting results in some of the key presidential battleground states on election night should be prepared to keep waiting, thanks to obstacles that will slow the count for what is expected to be a crush of mailed-in ballots amid the coronavirus pandemic. Many states allow local officials to start processing those ballots weeks before Election Day or even as they arrive. But in some of the most crucial states on the electoral map, rules prevent or give clerks little time to begin sorting ballots and verifying signatures before the election. That’s priming a scenario in which results may come in days, or even weeks, later. In an election cycle that has seen Trump baselessly cast doubt on the legitimacy of mail voting, many fear that any delay in results could give the President more room to continue his attacks.

N.Y. Times poll: Biden maintains 5-point lead on Trump in Florida” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Biden maintains a 5-point lead against Trump in the Sunshine State, according to a new poll from The New York Times and Siena College. The survey was conducted among 1,416 likely voters in Florida and Pennsylvania, another crucial swing state, following a messy, heated debate Tuesday night. The surveys started on Wednesday and continued into Friday, when it was announced Trump had contracted the coronavirus. Biden led 47% to 42% margin among likely Florida voters. The poll found significant disapproval of Trump’s conduct on stage at Tuesday night’s debate. Of all those surveyed, 21% said the President won the debate, a significant 65% disapproved of Trump’s conduct and 48% said they support Trump less after watching the debate. When looking at Biden’s performance, 37% of respondents said the former Vice President won, while the same percentage said they disapproved of his conduct; 31% said they support Biden less following the debate.

Will women voters turn Seminole blue in a presidential year?” via Annie Martin and Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel — The suburban women of Seminole County may hold the keys to the White House and a slate of crucial state races. Women voters outnumber men by more than 26,000 and make up more than half of the electorate in the community just north of Orlando. That has helped transform Seminole, a once-reliable Republican stronghold, into one of the most important swing counties in the country’s most important swing state during this year’s presidential election. The gender gap is also visible on the ballot itself.

Biden to visit with Haitians, Hispanics in Miami Monday ahead of NBC town hall” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald — Biden will visit Little Haiti and Little Havana ahead of a Monday evening NBC town hall event near downtown Miami, his campaign announced Sunday. The former Vice President and his wife, Jill Biden, are scheduled to visit the Little Haiti Cultural Center in the midafternoon, according to his schedule. Then they will head to Little Havana to talk about Biden’s “Build Back Better” campaign platform, re-branded “Reconstruir Mejor” in recognition of the majority-Hispanic neighborhood. After that, Jill Biden will head to Boca Raton in Palm Beach County for a drive-in rally. And Biden will attend the 8 p.m. televised NBC town hall outdoors with a socially distanced audience of undecided voters at the Peréz Art Museum Miami. NBC has said it previously extended a similar offer to Trump, who on Sunday remained hospitalized with COVID-19.

FIU poll: Most Miami Cuban Americans support Trump policies and will vote to reelect him” via Nora Gámez Torres of the Miami Herald — A majority of Cuban Americans in Miami-Dade County approve of Trump’s handling of the economy, health and Cuba policy, and will vote for him in the upcoming November elections, according to the latest edition of the Cuba poll from Florida International University. Fifty-nine percent of Cuban Americans interviewed said they would vote to reelect Trump. Only 25% said they would vote for Democratic candidate Biden. The telephone survey, which was released on Friday, included 1,002 participants who were interviewed between July 7 and Aug. 17. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

They fled Hurricane Maria. Now, they’re fighting to defeat Trump.” via Steve Contorno and Martha Asencio-Rhine of the Tampa Bay Times — In the year after Hurricane Maria ripped through Puerto Rico, as many as 50,000 people moved from the island to the Sunshine State, according to data. From the moment they arrived, political operatives recognized the potential for them to shift election outcomes in Florida, where a victory margin of 2% is akin to a landslide. The campaigns for Trump and Biden and their allies are pouring millions of dollars into Spanish-language ads in the final weeks of the race in hopes of swaying this Florida bloc of more than 1.3 million people. Both candidates have made direct pitches as well.

Proud Boys try to assimilate into Florida GOP as Trump denies knowing extremist group” via David Smiley, Nora Gamez Torres, and Kevin G. Hall of the Miami Herald — Trump isn’t alone in distancing himself from the Proud Boys. Florida Republicans who’ve snapped photos with the group’s members say they don’t know much about the self-described militia group either. About 48 hours after the President told the organization to “stand back, and stand by” during the first presidential debate, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott condemned “all forms of racism, violence, or discrimination, including the Proud Boys” when asked about a picture he took two years ago with the group’s Miami-based chairman. Also Thursday, a spokeswoman for Miami Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart said he “has had no interaction with said group” since posing with a man wearing Proud Boys garb at a 2018 event promoting democracy in Nicaragua. But despite Republicans’ protests, the Proud Boys continue to make frequent appearances in Florida GOP politics.

The far-right Proud Boys are seeking to assimilate into the Florida GOP. Image via AP.

Trump campaign guru Brad Parscale came to Fort Lauderdale for politics, fun. Then came the meltdown” via Jay Weaver, Charles Rabin and Rob Wile of the Miami Herald — At 6 feet, 8 inches tall, Parscale literally stood atop the political world after his boss, Trump, trounced the Republican field in the 2016 Florida primary and overcame Hillary Clinton in the critical Sunshine State to claim the presidential election. Though the digital guru hailed from Texas, he started scouting locations to live in Florida, a key swing state, just a year after Trump’s victory. Parscale zeroed in on Fort Lauderdale, said one person who has known him for years, because it was conveniently located between Miami and Trump’s palatial property at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach. Plus, while it was more buttoned-down than South Beach, the city offered similar sun, sand and fun — and, the person said, Parscale had a reputation for being “a wild guy, a risk-taker.”


A TV ad tidal wave in Florida: Nearly $250M and counting” via Gary Fineout of POLITICO Florida — Florida’s record-breaking campaign season continues to scale stunning new heights, with the presidential campaigns and their allies preparing to spend at least a quarter of a billion dollars on television ad time between now and Nov. 3. The ad barrage is a reminder of Florida’s outsized role in the presidential election. Trump, who narrowly won the state in 2016, is unlikely to win a second term in the White House if he loses his adopted home state. The jaw-dropping ad spending, which is $100 million more than what was spent four years ago in the battleground state, raises questions about the effectiveness of wall-to-wall television ads, especially when the vast majority of voters have already made up their minds. Florida is the undisputed leader in television advertising across the nation. Pennsylvania is second with $156.5 million in buys so far, and North Carolina is third with nearly $107 million.


— 2020 — 

As virus spreads across GOP ranks, some Republicans say Party will pay price for ‘stupid’ approach” via Robert Costa and Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post — Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis shook Republicans like an earthquake. Then came the troubling aftershocks. There was the positive test result for a prominent conservative GOP senator, Mike Lee of Utah. Then another for Republican Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina. Then the same news from Trump’s campaign manager, the chairwoman of the Republican Party and his former White House counselor. And then on Saturday, as the President remained hospitalized, came word of two more high-profile Republicans close to the President testing positive for the virus — Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who had helped Trump prepare for last week’s debate.

Many Republicans believe the Party will pay a price for Donald Trump’s recklessness.

Surge in new GOP voters puts pressure on Florida Democrats” via Bobby Caina Calvan of The Associated Press — Democrats have outnumbered Republicans in the crucial battleground of Florida for years, but have had little to show for it, walking away from the election box mostly empty-handed after failing to capitalize on their sizable voter registration advantage. Republicans have significantly cut into that lead in recent months, putting even more pressure on Democrats to turn out the vote in November, an uncertain proposition amid the coronavirus outbreak and for a political party that has long been on the losing side of razor-close, high-profile contests in the country’s largest swing state. The Republican surge in new voter registrations is especially worrisome among Democrats hoping to thwart Trump’s bid for a second term and who bemoan their party’s inconsistent outreach to Hispanic voters and lackluster efforts to further expand its base.

Business coalition launches ‘Amendment 2 Hurts You’ campaign — Business groups have not been shy in opposing Amendment 2. Now, they’re launching an ad campaign highlighting how the amendment, which would gradually raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026, could devastate small businesses. A video released by “Amendment 2 Hurts You” puts small-business owners and employees in front of the camera to explain the amendment’s possible impacts. The take-away: Bouncing back from the current economic crisis is already daunting but finding the cash to pay higher wages could make it impossible. The coalition, which includes AIF and the Florida Chamber of Commerce, is also highlighting studies that show the amendment could cost the state upward of 158,000 jobs and cost businesses another $7.3 billion a year.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

Amendment 2 debated — The Florida Chamber of Commerce will hold a virtual event to discuss Amendment 2, which seeks to incrementally raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. Expected to attend are Sarasota Republican Rep. Tommy Gregory and Glenda Hood, chair of the Chamber’s Small Business Council. The chamber is fighting the proposed amendment; Gregory launched a political committee to oppose the measure, 2 p.m. Register at

First on #FlaPol — “Americans for Prosperity-Florida launches ad campaign against $15 minimum wage initiative” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — Americans for Prosperity-Florida, a libertarian advocacy group, will begin their offensive this week against the $15 minimum wage initiative proposed for 2020. The ad campaign against Amendment 2 will be launched online and by mail. The group will also deploy a radio ad encouraging Floridians to vote against the amendment on Nov. 3. “When businesses and workers across the state are reeling from the economic impacts of COVID-19, raising the minimum wage and imposing a one-size-fits-all wage would be devastating as small businesses are trying to recover,” said AFP-FL State Director Skylar Zander. “Amendment 2 could force even more small businesses to close and eliminate at least 158,000 jobs.” Amendment 2, if approved by 60% of voters, would bump Florida’s minimum wage to $10 in 2021. Thereafter, the minimum wage would increase each year by $1 until reaching $15 in 2026.

To watch the video, click on the image below:

‘America saved me’: Anna Paulina Luna stresses patriotism in new ad, ‘Ditch’” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Luna touts her success despite humble beginnings, crediting America for saving her life. Luna announced the ad Friday night via Twitter. In the one-minute commercial called “Ditch,” Luna narrates her difficult upbringing and explains how joining the U.S. Air Force helped pull her out and into a life of success. Luna starts the ad with a strong anti-abortion nod, saying, “My mom chose life over abortion, and decided to have me — I’m living proof anything is possible in America.” The ad flashes between childhood pictures of Luna’s family and her now, narrating in front of a nice home. “Growing up, my family struggled with substance abuse. We moved around a lot, and I even lived in a drug house. I survived a gang shooting and an armed robbery,” Luna says. “But I never gave up, because being born in America is like winning the lottery.” Luna goes on to tell about how she joined the U.S. Air Force and found hope, helping her dad out of drug abuse and homelessness. Now, she says, ending human trafficking is her life’s mission.

Alan Cohn launches first General Election TV spot as he rakes in the campaign cash in CD 15” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Cohn launched his first television ad of the General Election cycle this week as he reports record fundraising in the third quarter of 2020. The ad goes negative about Cohn’s candidate in the open race for Florida’s 15th Congressional District, Scott Franklin. “Multimillionaire Scott Franklin won’t fight for middle-class families. He supports tax cuts for corporations and fellow millionaires, increasing taxes on 86 million Americans. Franklin is wrong for Florida, especially now, the ad begins, showing ominous images of Franklin below a city skyline. The ad references Franklin’s support for Trump’s 2018 tax package. The raised taxes on 86 million Americans claim is not false, but it looks only at the last year of the tax cuts, 2027, and leaves out the fact that about 80% of taxpayers would get a tax cut in the early years of the package, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

Pro-veteran group backs Scott Franklin in CD 15 race” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — The With Honor Fund is endorsing Franklin in his race against Democrat Cohn for Florida’s 15th Congressional District. The organization aims to help elect and support next-generation veterans with the goal of “creating a more effective and less polarized government.” Franklin is a former Naval Aviator who served 14 years on active duty and 12 years in the Navy Reserves. He was deployed to the Mediterranean, the Persian Gulf and North Atlantic. He participated in combat operations in the Persian Gulf, Bosnia and Kosovo. He committed to The With Honor Pledge. “For 26 years, I wore the American uniform to fight for our country as a Naval Aviator,” Franklin said in a news release. “I know firsthand the commitment and sacrifice required to defend our freedoms. The With Honor Pledge defines those key values, and I am honored to answer the call to serve again and represent the residents of Central Florida in Congress.”

Donna Shalala and Maria Elvira Salazar had a tough race for Congress in 2018. The rematch is different.” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — The November ballot will look the same for voters in Florida’s 27th Congressional District, but a lot has changed since Shalala, a Democrat, defeated Salazar, a Republican, in 2018. Last time, polling showed a neck-and-neck race between the former University of Miami President and the Spanish-language television personality. Democrats at the time were publicly critical of Shalala’s campaign, saying she hadn’t done a good job reaching voters. Now there’s no talk about the race being a tossup. Outside groups that spend millions on TV ads in competitive races aren’t bothering to put money behind either candidate, a sign that Shalala is expected to keep her seat. With Shalala favored to win the seat again, Salazar has started changing her messaging. In a recent TV interview, she said, “if you like your Obamacare, you can keep it,” despite years of efforts by Republicans to repeal the law.

Sheriff: Manatee County man charged with voter fraud after requesting ballot for dead wife” via Zac Anderson and Alan Shaw of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — A Manatee County man was arrested Thursday and charged with a third-degree felony after he requested a mail ballot for his dead wife because he was “testing the system to see if it worked,” the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office reports. The voter fraud case comes amid heightened national concerns about the issue, which Trump repeatedly has highlighted, but Manatee County’s top elections official says such fraud is extremely rare. The Sheriff’s Office began investigating Larry Wiggins in September after being notified by Manatee County Supervisor of Elections Mike Bennett of the suspicious ballot request.

‘Yo, it’s me’: Parkland parents create AI video of slain son to spur voters” via The Associated Press — Wearing his signature hoodie and beanie, an earbud casually hanging from one ear, passionate Parkland teen Joaquin Oliver urges his peers to vote for lawmakers who will end gun violence in a new video released Friday. Next month’s election would have been his first chance to vote. The 17-year-old’s mannerisms and vernacular “yo, it’s me” are shockingly lifelike, but it is just a mirage, a realistic, almost eerie artificial intelligence re-creation of the teen who was among the 17 killed in the 2018 Valentine’s Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, the worst school shooting in history. From the grave, the teen is now begging his peers to cast the vote that he will never cast. After their son’s death, Manuel and Patricia Oliver founded the organization Change The Ref to empower young people to make changes through education and activism on a variety of issues, most notably gun violence.

An AI image of slain teen Joaquin Oliver urges people to vote for gun control candidates. Image via AP.

Scandal in Palm Bay latest black mark for controversial campaign consultant Robert Burns” via Florida Politics staff reports — Developer Brian West was arrested Friday for allegedly offering Palm Bay City Council members money to rezone a tract of land he wants to develop for commercial use. In the lead-up to the Republican primary, Burns made anti-Semitic comments about incumbent Rep. Randy Fine, taunted Fine’s mother on Mother’s Day, and had his criminal record — including allegations of rape and child abuse — read aloud at a news conference. Now, he’s dealing with an accusation of financial impropriety. Burns is no stranger to controversy. He recently served as campaign manager for Marcie Adkins’ House District 53 bid, and his background and actions often landed hear in the headlines — and not in a good way. Burns works as Kenny Johnson’s campaign manager and according to the arrest affidavit, West was told to hire Burns as a means of getting Johnson’s vote.


Florida Democrats try to flip up-for-grabs House seats” via Steve Bousquet of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Florida Democrats have become experts at losing close elections. Nobody else comes close to doing it with such consistency. Naturally, Bill Nelson and Andrew Gillum come to mind, but there are so many. So let’s start with the Florida House. By a 32-vote landslide, Republican Rep. Mike Caruso defeated Democrat Jim Bonfiglio two years ago in a House race in Palm Beach County. A much larger margin, 61 votes, put Republican Elizabeth Fetterhoff in the House over Democrat Patrick Henry in a race on the I-4 corridor in Volusia. Right there you have two seats won by Republicans by a total of 93 votes. Bonfiglio and Henry are trying to win them back this time. In two other 2018 House contests in Miami-Dade, Republicans won by 417 and 579 votes. Add that all up, and it’s four GOP victories by a little more than 1,000 votes.

Mike Caruso took a 32-vote victory against Jim Bonfiglio. Will it happen again?

—“These are the candidates running for Florida House District 115” via Ana Ceballos of the Miami Herald

Police, candidate uncover campaign-inspired crime on Twitter” via Ryan Smith of ABC Action News — In his first few days back on the trail, Rep. Chris Latvala confronted a Twitter troll who admitted to stealing and damaging one of his campaign signs. “I enjoyed removing and destroying @chrislatvala signage from a high visibility area on Ulmerton Road,” the tweet said. The Largo Police Department quickly caught on to the campaign-inspired crime and responded Friday morning, “Thank you for documenting the crime.” “I thought it was pretty ironic that literally, the guy was admitting to committing a crime and then the Largo PD account chimed in,” said Rep. Latvala. A back and forth went on via Twitter with the user claiming he did nothing wrong because the sign was on private property. ABC Action News has learned, The Pinellas Realtor Organization gave the Latvala campaign permission to place its sign on their property.


In a debate, topics of race and gun violence divide Miami-Dade mayoral candidates” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — The two candidates running to administer Miami-Dade’s government as Mayor differ on whether race plays a factor in how it functions, with Esteban “Steve” Bovo Jr. saying he has not seen evidence of racism there and rival Daniella Levine Cava calling it “systemic.” “I’ve never seen any evidence of it,” Bovo, a county commissioner since 2011, said during Saturday night’s debate on NBC 6. “Obviously, if it happens, it has to be called out. As mayor, I won’t tolerate it,” Levine Cava, a commissioner since 2014, took a different view. “We have systemic racism in county government,” she said, without elaboration. Asked for examples after the pretaped debate, Levine Cava’s campaign manager, Christian Ulvert, cited the county’s procurement system as the “first place we need to review closely.” A 2014 study found Black-owned businesses with an undersized share of county contracts, compared to the number of firms available for the work.

Ouch — The best vote for Broward sheriff is no vote” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — Only in Nevada do American voters have the option to check “None of the Above.” If it were available on the ballot here, that is what we would recommend in the election for Broward County sheriff. There is a next best alternative. By declining to vote in that one race, the people of Broward could send a powerful message to county leaders and the Florida Legislature. When it comes to filling the county’s most important office, the election process has failed. We cannot endorse any of the three people on the ballot. That is a rare position for us, and we do not come to it lightly. The time has come for Broward County to face the painful truth that the system of electing Broward’s chief law enforcement officer is irretrievably broken. It has been made so by the Governor’s hasty appointment of incumbent Gregory Tony, the inexorable dominance of one political party, the distorting effects of lavish campaign spending, the lack of a runoff primary and the absence of any minimum requirements for an extremely demanding job.

The best vote in the Broward County Sheriff’s race is no vote at all, writes the Sun-Sentinel editorial board. 

Builders give Sandy Murman another $300,000 in Hillsborough Commission race” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — Local homebuilders and developers, who have already heavily supported Murman’s Hillsborough county commissioner race with scores of individual contributions, gave her another $300,000 in two lump sums in September, bringing her total fundraising so far to more than $750,000. Murman, a sitting commissioner term-limited in her District 1 seat, is challenging Commissioner Pat Kemp’s reelection to a countywide seat, which would give Murman a new term limit. Much of the development industry opposes Kemp, who has advocated sharply increased impact fees to pay the costs of new residential development. Kemp has raised $165,932 and been endorsed by the 13,000-member Greater Tampa Realtors. They are likely to make a comparatively smaller contribution to her.

Jacksonville Beach referendum would give voters final say if Beaches Energy ever sold” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — Two years after Jacksonville voters overwhelmingly said they want the final say in any sale of JEA, Jacksonville Beach voters will decide in a Nov. 3 referendum whether they want the same power if their city ever wanted to sell Beaches Energy. Unlike the Jacksonville vote on JEA that happened after the utility’s leaders jolted the city by raising the possibility of privatization late 2017, no one in Jacksonville Beach city government is talking about selling Beaches Energy. Mayor Charlie Latham said there is “zero interest” in going down that path with Beaches Energy. “It’s a great organization,” he said. After the JEA board decided in July 2019 to seek offers and reignited the debate over whether Jacksonville should be in the public power arena, the city of Jacksonville Beach decided its voters should have a chance to add a level of citizen control if there were a move by the city to part ways with Beaches Energy.

Jacksonville Beach Mayor Charlie Latham says there is ‘zero interest’ in selling Beaches Energy.

Mark Pienkos returns Democratic Party donations exceeding charter limits” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Pienkos said he’s returning most of the money donated by the Florida Democratic Party. The move comes after Republican Party of Sarasota County leaders asserted the $6,000 in contributions violated a charter provision limiting contributions to $200. Pienkos said he understood the state party and local Democratic Executive Committee, which donated $1,500 to his campaign, were exempt from the local ordinance. “Florida State law allows political parties to donate to candidates in excess of limits set to individuals,” Pienkos said. “Any contributions made over the local Sarasota County ordinance limit was done without intent and will be refunded today to the Sarasota County Democratic Party and the Florida Democratic Party. Our campaign is responding in the spirit of transparency.” Republican Party of Sarasota County acting chair Jack Brill alleged in a letter to county leaders to contributions violated local regulations. He demanded officials take action quickly.


Florida coronavirus deaths hit 14,671 out of over 716,000 infections” via Paola Pérez of the Orlando Sentinel — The Florida Department of Health posted 1,868 new coronavirus cases and 43 new virus fatalities on Sunday. To date, 716,459 people have been infected statewide, and 14,671 Florida residents have died. With 174 nonresident deaths, the combined toll is 14,845. Florida is third in the nation for COVID-19 infections behind California, which leads with over 829,000 confirmed infections, and Texas with over 787,000. From Sunday to Sunday, Florida saw 15,895 new cases, 1,176 newly reported hospitalizations, and 639 newly reported deaths in state health department data. In comparison, the week ending Sept. 27 saw 16,810 new cases, 1,080 newly reported hospitalizations, and 736 newly reported deaths.

Ron DeSantis calls school reopening opponents the ‘flat earthers of our day’” via New Service of Florida — DeSantis said Friday that closing school campuses in the spring as the coronavirus pandemic took hold might have been one of the nation’s biggest “public health mistakes.” And, while appearing on the Drew Steele radio show, DeSantis equated people fighting the return of students to classrooms as the “flat earthers of our day.” Florida shut down school and college campuses in March, with students shifted to online learning. DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran have pushed heavily to reopen classrooms for the new school year. “In March we may not have had all the information, but in hindsight, knowing what we know now, the closure of schools was one of the biggest public health mistakes in modern American history,” DeSantis said. “And I think even Europe has said we shouldn’t have closed up.”

Ron DeSantis likens people who oppose school opening to ‘flat earthers.’


Miami Beach Mayor urges DeSantis to reconsider prohibiting mask fines” via Daniela Flamini of NBC Miami — The mayor of Miami Beach sent a letter to DeSantis Sunday urging him to reconsider the emergency order he issued last week that prevents local governments from enforcing a mask mandate. “I urge you to follow the CDC and the mainstream view of doctors and scientists, and reconsider your prior Order prohibiting local governments from enforcing individual mask mandates,” Mayor Dan Gelber wrote. In the letter, Gelber mentioned Trump‘s COVID diagnosis and said that although he is praying for Trump’s recovery, “the notion that we are still debating (a mask mandate) seems incomprehensible given the recent infections of the First Family, and the horrific impact the virus has had on our own residents.” Gelber also attacked the credibility of the experts DeSantis relied on in order to justify his decision. “The experts you relied on to make the case that mask usage was not necessary, are precisely the same physicians cherry-picked by the White House. Most are not even infectious disease specialists,” Gelber wrote.

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber urges Ron DeSantis to reconsider ending fines for mask violations.

Trump letter in federal food boxes draws criticism from Miami Beach residents” via Christina Saint Louis of the Miami Herald — Millions of Floridians could receive food boxes containing dairy, meat, produce, and a letter signed by Trump, this month as the latest round of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farmers to Families Food Box Program reaches the state. Written in both English and Spanish, the letter boasts how the President has prioritized sending “nutritious food” to underserved families as a relief effort during the coronavirus pandemic. Boxes from the program distributed in Miami-Dade, however, have found their way to Miami Beach residents who don’t identify as underserved and saw the President’s letter as an attempt to win their vote in November’s election.

Tampa Bay seniors hit hard by utility bills now face shut-offs” via Bailey LeFever of the Tampa Bay Times — Local aging services and elder advocates say they’re seeing more and more seniors behind on their utility bills. Three of the state’s investor-owned utilities paused disconnections in March due to the pandemic — Tampa Electric, Duke Energy Florida and Florida Power & Light — but all have resumed shut-offs for those who don’t pay their bills. The calls started coming in August, when Duke Energy Florida began warning of disconnections, according to Amber Bridges, who manages the federal Emergency Home Energy Assistance Program for the Pinellas Opportunity Council. Bridges’ office has seen a 40% increase in calls for utility assistance over last year, and in August and September gave out $45,000 — half of a fund that is supposed to last for six months.

‘Lethal assaults’: Rural Big Bend sees alarming string of domestic violence homicides” via Nada Hassanein of the Tallahassee Democrat — The back-to-back murders are part of an alarming string of domestic violence-related homicides within the past several months, all occurring in rural Big Bend counties. This year has already seen six deaths. Refuge House shelter director Meg Baldwin counts four deaths in Taylor County alone. But the COVID-19 crisis has aggravated domestic abuse situations with stress and stay-at-home orders to prevent the spread of the virus. While calls to Refuge House’s hotline numbers are down about 30% — from an average of 300 calls from within Leon County to about 200 — the decline signals trouble. Victims, particularly ones throughout the rural Big Bend, aren’t reaching out as much as they were. Many are afraid to call while they’re in earshot of an abuser during the quarantine.


Trump official pressured CDC to change report on COVID and kids” via Dan Diamond of Politico — In early September, as many school districts were still deciding whether to hold in-person classes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention altered the title of a scientific report on the coronavirus and removed words like “pediatric” from its text, days after a Trump administration appointee requested similar changes. That request — issued by then-public affairs official Paul Alexander — came amid President Trump’s broader push to reopen schools, with the president issuing demands on Twitter the prior day that “Democrats, OPEN THE SCHOOLS ( SAFELY),” and holding a press conference that touted data on the relatively low risk of COVID-19 for children.

Warp Speed’s focus on vaccines may have shortchanged antibody treatments” via Zachary Brennan of POLITICO — One of the drugs Trump was given soon after being diagnosed with the coronavirus is an experimental cocktail of monoclonal antibodies — a treatment that some infectious disease experts believe has been given short shrift by Trump’s own administration. The White House’s Operation Warp Speed has thrown its weight and its money behind finding a coronavirus vaccine. That intense focus has come at the expense of the monoclonal antibodies, a potential treatment that could combat COVID-19 outbreaks before and after a safe and effective vaccine is widely available.


Long-term jobless caught in a squeeze that imperils recovery” via Christopher Rugaber and Alexandra Olson of The Associated Press — This spring, Magdalena Valiente was expecting her best year as a Florida-based concert promoter. Now, she wonders if the career she built over three decades is over. With live events canceled, things have turned bleak. She is relying on unemployment benefits and Medicaid and has applied for food stamps. She has lost hope that the crisis will end soon. Millions of Americans in the industries hit hardest by the viral pandemic face a similar plight. Their unemployment has stretched from weeks into months, and it’s become painfully unclear when, if ever, their jobs will come back. In the entertainment field where Valiente worked and in other sectors that absorbed heavy job losses, from restaurants and hotels to energy, higher education and advertising, employment remains far below pre-pandemic levels.

While the U.S. unemployment rate dropped to 7.9% in September, hiring is still slowing and many Americans have given up looking for work.

News 6, DEO help single mom unlock 12 weeks of unemployment benefits” via Mike Holfeld of Click Orlando — Kimberly Kleckly has been fighting to get her state unemployment benefits restarted after a two-day training session for a new job was cut short because she tested positive for COVID-19. Kleckly said she had just landed the public transportation bus cleaning position in Brevard County when the test for COVID-19 came back positive. Her DEO account listed her as “returned to work,” leaving her unemployment benefits on hold. News 6 contacted the Department of Economic Opportunity to bring attention to Kleckly’s status. On Wednesday, Kleckly said she had received the back benefits in her bank account. She has tested negative for COVID-19 twice and is currently looking for another job in the Fort Lauderdale area.

At least a quarter of Disney layoffs coming from Florida” via The Associated Press — At least a quarter of the 28,000 layoffs planned for Disney’s parks division will come from Florida, according to a letter the company filed with state and local officials last week. The letter said that at least 6,390 nonunion Disney employees in Florida will be laid off starting in early December. The number of Florida layoffs, though, could grow as the company negotiates terms with a coalition of unions that represents 43,000 employees at Walt Disney World. “Due to the continuing business impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have made the very difficult decision to reduce our workforce,” Jim Bowden, a Disney vice president of employee relations said in the letter.

Cineworld to close all of its Regal Cinema venues in U.S. and all cinemas across U.K. and Ireland in response to ‘No Time to Die’ delay” via Manori Ravindran of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Cineworld is shuttering all 543 of its Regal Cinema venues in the U.S. and all cinemas across the U.K. and Ireland this coming week, just a day after James Bond film “No Time to Die” was pushed to April 2021. Variety understands from sources that the chain will close all sites in both countries as early as this week, with staff notified ahead of Monday. Regal is the second largest domestic chain in the U.S., while Cineworld is the U.K.’s biggest cinema operator. In the U.K., Cineworld, which declined to comment, is understood to be writing to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden this weekend to explain that the exhibition sector is “unviable” due to studios delaying tentpoles as a result of anxious audiences steering clear of cinemas amid the pandemic. The Cineworld closures will put up to 5,500 jobs at risk in the U.K. Sources indicate a reopening date hasn’t yet been set, but cinemas could stay closed until 2021.


Spain’s toxic politics, health woes have got Angela Merkel worried” via Laura Millan Lombrana, Jeannette Neumann, and Alberto Nardelli of Bloomberg — Spain is paying a hefty price for its broken political system and is rapidly becoming the euro’s problem child. It used to be Italy that was seen as a bigger risk. But now officials in Germany, the region’s economic motor and the one paying the most money toward the European Union’s COVID-19 recovery fund, are worried by just how badly Spain is coping with the pandemic. The resurgence in infections since the end of the summer has exposed the country’s vicious partisan divisions, with officials from the center-right regional administration in Madrid bitterly challenging new restrictions imposed by the Socialist national leadership. The result is a spiraling health crisis. According to a person familiar with discussions within the government in Berlin, there’s real concern about a knock-on effect on member states, including Germany.

NYC seeks to reinstate virus restrictions in some spots” via Karen Matthews of The Associated Press — New York City’s Mayor said Sunday that he has asked the state for permission to close schools and reinstate restrictions on nonessential businesses in several neighborhoods because of a resurgence of the coronavirus. The action, if approved, would mark a disheartening retreat for a city that enjoyed a summer with less spread of the virus than most other parts of the country, and had only recently celebrated the return of students citywide to in-person learning in classrooms. Shutdowns would happen beginning Wednesday in nine ZIP codes in the city, Mayor Bill de Blasio said. About 100 public schools and 200 private schools would have to close. Indoor dining, which just resumed a few days ago, would be suspended. Outdoor restaurant dining would shut down in the affected neighborhoods as well, and gyms would close.

New York City’s Mayor asked the state for permission to close schools and reinstate restrictions on nonessential businesses in several neighborhoods, including Borough Park, because of a resurgence of the coronavirus. Image via AP.


Rep. Latvala recalls his darkest days battling the coronavirus” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — Latvala, a Republican state representative from Palm Harbor, arrived at Largo Medical Center on Aug. 29. By then, the infection had turned his lungs against him and a two-week internal war was underway. His whole body ached. He lost his sense of smell. He couldn’t eat. His chest felt like a truck was sitting on it. His oxygen levels plummeted. It was, he wrote on Facebook on Sept. 4 from his hospital room, “the hardest thing I have ever faced in my life.” Latvala left the hospital nine days later but remained quarantined at home for the rest of the month. It wasn’t until this week that Latvala ventured out in public again, a freedom he regained just as the biggest news of the 2020 presidential campaign broke.

Chris Latvala talks about his struggle with COVID-19.


The virus slams into a broken Washington” via Jake Sherman of POLITICO — Washington has been plunged into a crisis of historic proportions, frozen by a disease it is both unwilling and unable to control. Washington crises typically conform to a predictable rhythm: They simmer, boil and come to their expected conclusion. But this time, America’s capital itself is crippled, leaving the country rudderless, leaderless and riven with bitter partisan fighting in the middle of a pandemic that has already claimed more than 200,000 lives and is nowhere near over. One month before Election Day, with ballots already being cast, Trump is in a military hospital, where he will remain for days, being treated for COVID-19, a disease that’s particularly dangerous for people of his age and weight. His physician Saturday morning said he’s doing well and is fever free, but declined to say when precisely he was diagnosed, how long he expects him to be in the hospital. Asked whether the President was ever on supplemental oxygen, he was evasive.

Matt Gaetz votes against House resolution on peaceful transfer of power” via Jim Thompson of NWF Daily News — Gaetz who represents Northwest Florida in Congress, was one of only five members of the House of Representatives to vote against a nonbinding resolution aimed at assuring the American people of an orderly transfer of presidential power following the Nov. 3 presidential election. Accompanying his vote, Gaetz delivered a withering hard-right conservative take on the resolution from the House floor, calling it “part of the Democrats’ plan to lay the groundwork for … the ousting of an elected leader and calling it democracy.” Introduction of the resolution, authored by Rep. Eric Swalwell followed a statement from Trump, for whom Gaetz is a strong supporter, at a Sept. 23 news briefing.

Matt Gaetz is one of the few in Congress who voted against a resolution on a peaceful transition of power. Image via AP.

Ross Spano admits accidentally carrying gun into Tampa airport” via Gary White of The Lakeland Ledger — Spano drew the attention of security workers at Tampa International Airport on Wednesday when he tried to board a flight while carrying a concealed and loaded gun, The Washington Post reported. Spano was questioned and missed his scheduled flight to Washington, D.C., the Post reported. Spano reached a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint inside the airport about 7:50 a.m. Wednesday while carrying a Smith & Wesson M&P Shield 9 mm handgun loaded with seven rounds, the article said. The TSA staff allowed Spano to secure the weapon, most likely by returning to his vehicle to store it there, the Post reported. The TSA can impose fines of up to $13,000 for carrying prohibited weapons into a checkpoint, even without an arrest, the article said.

Assignment editors — Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch and Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart take part in a bipartisan virtual town hall on American global leadership in the time of COVID-19. They’ll join the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition’s Liz Schrayer to also discuss what this means for U.S. national security and the Florida economy, 12 p.m. For dial-in information, email Joan Steiger at


Palm Bay developer Brian West arrested on bribery charges involving Palm Bay City Council” via Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon, Jim Waymer, and Dave Berman of Florida Today — West was arrested Friday morning on felony charges of bribery, over an alleged scheme to buy votes on the Palm Bay City Council to rezone land for a project. West was charged with one second-degree felony charge of bribery, one third-degree felony charge of conspiracy to commit bribery and six third-degree felony charges of unlawful use of a communications device. His bond was set at $180,000. The alleged bribery appears to have been directed at City Councilman Brian Anderson, and references are made to attempts to bribe Councilman Kenny Johnson and Councilman Jeff Bailey, according to the arrest affidavit. Anderson also appears to have acted as the confidential informant with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

A Palm Bay developer was arrested for attempting to bribe members of the City Council. Image via the City of Palm Bay.

Disney, Universal, SeaWorld layoffs: Orlando’s one-ticket town economy is reeling … again” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — This past week, Disney announced it was laying off 6,700 local workers at Walt Disney World. In a year that feels like one long bad-news buffet, that might seem like just another serving of crud. But 6,700 jobs is massive. There are only 10 companies in Central Florida that even have that many employees on their payroll. With one swing of Mickey’s corporate ax, Disney laid off more people than SeaWorld or Valencia College even employ. Yet 6,700 is just the tip of our unemployment iceberg. That’s just Disney’s nonunion job losses announced so far and only at Disney. State records show that Hilton has announced plans to shed 3,600 jobs at local properties. That’s more people than Spectrum employs here.

What Jimmy Patronis is reading — “SpaceX CEO Elon Musk coming to Cape to investigate scrub issues” via Rachael Joy of Florida Today — Some locals are calling the unusually long streak of launch scrubs “Scrubtoberfest” but to Musk it’s not a joke. After SpaceX’s GPS satellite mission for the Space Force scrubbed Friday night, Musk tweeted “We will need to make a lot of improvements to have a chance of completing 48 launches next year!” Musk is referencing the 45th Space Wing’s “Drive to 48” campaign to be able to support nearly weekly launches in Cape Canaveral. The ultimate goal is for the Cape to run as efficiently as an airport with rockets being able to take off within hours of each other on multiple launchpads. Right now it seems like we have a long way to go. Over the past month, United Launch Alliance’s Delta IV Heavy launch of a top-secret military satellite has scrubbed five times due to weather, hardware and technical issues causing two SpaceX launches to reschedule multiple times. And then SpaceX has had its own trouble.

Two years later: Bay County shows progress after Hurricane Michael” via Jacqueline Bostick, Tony Mixon and Nathan Cobb of The Panama City News-Herald — Panama City and the rest of Bay County on Saturday will mark two years since Category 5 Hurricane Michael struck, changing the area forever. Hundreds of homes were damaged or destroyed, thousands of trees were snapped and the lives of many families were uprooted. Despite such devastation, much has improved in the last two years. The area has received hundreds of millions of federal dollars in reimbursement for cleanup efforts, in some cases faster than first expected. Housing has begun to bounce back and programs were created to help people buy homes. Schools have established mental health services to help traumatized students get back on track with their studies.

$3B plan could help Collier protect against storms, sea-level rise, but much work remains” via Karl Schneider and Patrick Riley of the Naples Daily News — Climate change is intensifying already fierce storms that could threaten Collier County’s vulnerable shoreline, experts say. A wide-ranging 50-year plan that would dramatically alter the county’s coast seeks to steel its beaches, back bays and buildings, but some worry the proposal doesn’t go far enough. Operating under a massive $3 billion price tag, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers put together a feasibility study to present the county with a handful of options. Corps engineers have pointed to one as the preferred plan that would include acquiring more than 100 homes, flood-proofing hundreds of other structures and elevating more than 1,300 residences. The county’s coastline will remain vulnerable to storm damage if no plans are made to promote resiliency, a draft of the overall plan says.

South Walton coalition toasts DR Horton decision to withdraw Draper Lake PUD request” via Tim McLaughlin of Northwest Florida Daily News — A community coalition formed to oppose the development of multifamily triplexes on County Road 30A close to fragile Draper Lake was celebrating Thursday its role in pushing project planners to withdraw the proposal. “At a time when people seem to be so apart on many issues, we found that neighbors, businesses and environmentalists from across the community quickly joined forces to protect 30A and Draper Lake,” coalition member Matthew Kaufler said in a news release sent out by the group. DR Horton, the nation’s largest homebuilder, officially ended its effort to construct a 138-unit residential development, known as the Draper Lake Planned Unit Development, when it asked this week that its application be stricken from the Walton County Planning Commission’s Oct. 8 agenda.

Bloggers’ campaign to aid laid-off Disney workers sparks outpouring of donations for food bank” via Kate Satich of the Orlando Sentinel — Bloggers Sarah and Tom Bricker are passionate about all things Disney and were more than a little heartbroken by the news this week that the company is laying off 28,000 workers. So the Orange County couple, who run the popular, created a virtual fundraising drive for Second Harvest Food Bank, which has been helping to feed long lines of newly unemployed Central Floridians. They figured they would set a “modest but probably attainable” goal of $2,000, and they kicked in $500 themselves. Within a couple of hours, they blew past the $2,000 mark and set a new goal of $30,000. The next day, they exceeded that. As of Friday, less than 48 hours after launching, the fund had amassed $34,261 in donations, including one anonymous gift of $10,000, and it was still climbing.

Bloggers Tom and Sarah Bricker are helping laid-off Disney workers. Image via


These boys are sexist, racist and not that bright. What are they so proud of again?” via Carl Hiaasen of the Miami Herald — Ten pressing questions for the media director of the Proud Boys, the violence-espousing white-supremacist group that Trump refused to denounce during last week’s debate with Biden: 1. Is it true your organization is named after a song in the Disney musical version of “Aladdin?” 2. So you dress up in costumes …? 3. When are the auditions for the Proud Boys held? 4. Can anybody join? 5. Why don’t you let women be in the group? 6. You’re joking, right? 7. Can a white man who doesn’t have a college degree sign up with the Proud Boys? 8. What is the Proud Boys’ policy on firearms? 9. Some late-night TV comedians have made fun of your group’s ban on masturbation. What’s the reason for such an unusual rule? 10. When Trump said the Proud Boys and other racists groups should “stand down and stand by,” did you take those words as a call to prepare for battle on Election Day?

What makes the Proud Boys so proud, anyway? Image via AP.

In St. Petersburg, a tense but peaceful night between protest groups” via Josh Solomon, Christopher Spata, Dan Sullivan and Luis Santana of the Tampa Bay Times — Protesters, bolstered by religious leaders and civil rights groups, held a vigil and silent march Saturday where they condemned white supremacy and vowed to continue demonstrating against racism and police violence. Banding together as “Movement St. Pete,” they were focused on delivering their own message, and not responding to the counterprotesters who gathered nearby to demonstrate in opposition. The smaller group of counterprotesters waved American flags and pro-police “thin blue line” flags, and many wore gear in support of Trump. “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired,” the Rev. Louis Murphy Sr. of Mt. Zion Progressive Missionary Baptist Church told the Movement St. Pete crowd.


Refusing to accept the results of a presidential election triggered the Civil War” via Aaron Sheehan-Dean of The Washington Post — The American Civil War began because slaveholding Southern nationalists refused to recognize the lawful election of Abraham Lincoln. The underlying cause may have been fear that a Republican President would ban the expansion of slavery into the West, but the triggering incident was losing a presidential election. While no one today is threatening secession, the same principle that Lincoln saw as sacrosanct and worth fighting for is under assault. The losers of elections step aside because of respect for the electoral process itself. Rather than acknowledge this essential principle of democracy, Trump said, “We’re going to have to see what happens,” setting himself up as an arbiter of the election.


Trump failed to protect America, and himself” via Timothy L. O’Brien of Bloomberg — The President of the United States, the most powerful man in the world, has COVID-19. He failed to protect the country and then failed to protect himself. The consequences of Trump’s hubris and apathy, for him and about 7.3 million other Americans who’ve been infected, have been dire. Lives have been upended and 208,000 of them were lost. A nation sitting atop what appeared to be a sophisticated public health apparatus and economic juggernaut has been unspooled. Social and political divisions have come to a boil. Racism’s stranglehold on the American experiment has become more overt. And the man who most embodies the conflicts and otherworldliness of 2020 now watches his political future, his personal well-being and his monarchical sense of entitlement circumscribed by a virus wearing a crown.

We expect better of Biden” via Leonard Pitts, Jr. of the Tampa Bay Times — Asked about race at last week’s presidential debate, one candidate gave a very disappointing answer. The other was Trump. Biden is a compassionate and honorable man whose intentions are unimpeachable. That’s why it was such a letdown to hear him address the issue of race and policing with shallow incomprehension. The issue is not bad apples. Ultimately, it is not even the police, who are not unique, except insofar as they have the power to arrest and kill, which makes their mistakes more visceral and dramatic. Otherwise, there’s little real difference between policing and politics, health, business, news, or any other institution you care to name. They all reflect the biases of the society they serve.

Don’t be secretive like DeSantis. When COVID-19 is found in Miami-Dade public schools, tell us right away” via the Miami Herald editorial board — Ready or not, Miami-Dade public schools are reopening on Monday. They are doing so under pressure from a crude and cruel threat from the state’s Republican leadership to either open by Oct. 5 or risk losing at least $85 million state funding. They are doing so despite scared parents and COVID-vulnerable kids. They are doing so even though the teachers union says schools still aren’t 100% prepared. Some teachers would rather retire than return to the classroom. As important as returning everyone to school buildings as safely as humanly possible, is the need for absolute transparency from the school district. The community must know where the coronavirus has been found, and it will be found, in schools and its other facilities, how people will be alerted and what remedial measure will be taken, including shutting down again if need be.

All families deserve school choice, the pandemic has shown us why” via Heather Moraitis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Coronavirus has exposed cracks in our society and changed the way we interact with the world. From our dependency on foreign countries for medication and medical infrastructure to our acceptance of “work from home,” and our new reliance on hand sanitizer, masks and mobile orders, things are changing right before our very eyes. And perhaps one of the greatest cracks exposed, and industry most in need of new options, is our education system. Children across the country had their schooling interrupted, altered, and in many cases postponed after summer break. And while Broward County Public Schools plan to start back in the classroom this week, families should have more options. Many child care facilities remained open during the pandemic, and our schools could have followed similar guidelines to reopen sooner and provide in-person K-5 education.

Broadband internet is an imperative, not a luxury” via Jeb Bush for Slate — Today’s internet is critical to our nation’s economy and security. Even now, it’s choked by slow speeds or no access at all in significant portions of the country. Roughly 21 million Americans in 2019 had no fixed broadband service and therefore are stuck on the back roads with no on-ramp to the highway nearby. For many of them, it’s a simple fact of geography: They live in rural areas where broadband providers say it’s too expensive to serve. Or, alternatively and commonly, they can’t afford it. This is unacceptable for a prosperous and productive nation — and it doesn’t need to be the case.


The nation’s political establishment has been shaken to its core after Trump and the First Lady contracted COVID-19.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— The President spent the weekend at the Walter Reed Medical Center and hopes to return to the White House today. COVID-19 has breached his inner circle, with a who’s who of D.C. insiders now in quarantine.

— Many who attended the Rose Garden Ceremony nine days ago where Trump introduced his latest Supreme Court nominee tested positive; it may turn out to be what’s known as a “super-spreader” event. It could also be a problem in Florida, where the Governor is counting on the new Abbott rapid test to screen visitors at nursing homes to protect elderly residents from infection.

— DeSantis hailed the rapid test as a game-changer in the fight against COVID 19 … but people who attended the Rose Garden ceremony were administered rapid tests and that didn’t stop the virus. Sunrise talks with our in-house pollster and political pundit Steve Vancore to get his take on how this will affect the presidential race.

— Schools are reopening today in Miami-Dade and Broward. They didn’t want to do it this soon, but the Governor and the Education Commissioner were threatening to mess with their money if they didn’t.

— And finally, checking-in with a Florida Man who requested a mail-in ballot for his wife … who’s been dead for two years.

To listen, click on the image below:

— ALOE —

What Michelle Todd is reading — “Did you wake anyone up to tell them Trump has COVID-19?” via Julie Beck of The Atlantic — When Mira Assaf Kafantaris’s husband woke her up late Thursday night, she was worried that something had happened to her parents. They live in Lebanon, she told me, and because of the time difference, she’s always afraid that if they were ever hurt, she would get a call while she was asleep. But her husband had less personal news to share — he wanted to tell her that Trump and his wife had contracted COVID-19. When news like this breaks, the knee-jerk impulse to tell whoever is closest seems to be a common one. The reason could be that we want our friends and family to hear news from us, rather than from another source.

Rays have a connection to Trump, but no coronavirus concern” via Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times — Trump’s positive test for COVID-19 has raised questions about the possibility of infections spreading to members of his staff and their families. That is not a concern for Rays pitcher Sean Gilmartin, who is married to Trump press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, team officials said. Gilmartin has been in the team’s Major League Baseball-mandated quarantine since Sept. 22 at a downtown St. Petersburg hotel, allowed to leave only to go to Tropicana Field via a team bus. That stay includes the four days between when he was designated for assignment on Monday, cleared waivers and was re-added to the team’s 40-player postseason pool on Thursday.

All roads lead to Florida: Sean Gilmartin, currently a pitcher for the Rays, is married to Donald Trump press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.


Celebrating today are Chris Hart, Trey Price, my ol’ friend Gregory Wilson, and Joe York, one of the best in The Process.


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

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

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson, and Kelly Hayes.
Phone: (727) 642-3162
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