Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 10.9.20

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Commentary and links on Florida politics as crisp as your morning bacon.

First on #FlaPol — Joe Jacquot on Thursday departed from Gov. Ron DeSantis’ general counsel team to spend more time alongside his family.

The University of Florida law graduate worked with DeSantis since January of 2019 while his family remained in Jacksonville. Weekly, he would commute to the Governor’s Office and then return to Jacksonville to spend weekends with his family.

Director of Communications Fred Piccolo told Florida Politics that Jacquot will move on to work in private practice and leaves with the Governor’s full support.

“It has been an honor to serve you and your administration,” Jacquot wrote in his resignation letter. “I have a deep respect for your principled leadership, relying upon and furthering our constitutional democracy.”

Jacquot submitted his resignation to DeSantis roughly two weeks ago, though he requested that he remain on board for a chance to litigate the Florigrown case before the Florida Supreme Court.

He got that chance on Wednesday.

Ron DeSantis’ general counsel Joe Jacquot is taking a position in the private sector.

Among his accomplishments, Jacquot led the legal team which navigated the Governor’s Office through the Phase 3 reopening plan amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

He also oversaw the Governor’s judicial appointment process. During his tenure, five Justices were appointed to the Florida Supreme Court.

Before serving as the Governor’s General Counsel, Jacquot worked in the private sector at Foley and Lardner LLP and at Black Knight Financial Services, according to his Linkedin profile. He also served as an adjunct professor at Florida State University where he taught a constitutional course at the FSU College of Law.

Notably, Jacquot served for four years as the Deputy Attorney General for Florida’s Attorney General Office. According to his Linkedin bio, he “led an office of 1100 employees, including 425 lawyers and an annual budget of $189 million.”

During his time there, he argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in Florida v. Powell.

“I wish you and the First Lady all the best,” his resignation letter concluded.


The Florida League of Cities is rolling out a new initiative focused on educating and engaging Floridians on home rule.

“Building Stronger Cities: Organizing, Empowering, Delivering,” is the brainchild of FLC President and Orlando City Commissioner Tony Ortiz. The cornerstone of the campaign is a new website,, along with print, video and digital resources for residents and elected officials to help them engage with state lawmakers.

“Educating and sharing knowledge with my community has always been one of my biggest goals as a public servant,” Ortiz said. “Now, as president of the League, I’m excited to expand that goal on a statewide level through my Building Stronger Cities initiative.

FLC President Tony Ortiz is looking to boost interaction between citizens and lawmakers.

“Working together, we’re going to help every resident learn the ways of government so they will know what to expect from legislators and learn that legislation should be based upon the needs of the people. By being more informed and more engaged, residents will feel more empowered to protect their cities and their right to make local decisions. That’s how we build stronger cities and, ultimately, a stronger Florida.”

The initiative’s prime directive is building support for local decision-making. To accomplish that goal, the League is providing tools and resources that can be used by local governments and residents, all of which are available on the Building Stronger Cities website.

The website includes pages dedicated to informing city officials as well as residents, with each offering its own collection of unique content tailored to its respective audience.


@ProjectLincoln: I like presidents who don’t skip debates.

@FManjoo: The problem with the electoral college is we spend 10x more time talking about fracking to please some folks in PA than we do the entire west coast being on fire.

Tweet, tweet:

@RyanEGorman: An indoor, packed rally in the midst of a White House #COVID19 outbreak is an interesting approach to winning back the senior and white, college-educated women vote in #Florida.

@RepRodriguez118: I am proud of @HCAhealthcare protecting taxpayer dollars. I’ve never known them to do anything different!


Amazon’s annual Prime Day begins — 4; Apple announces new iPhone — 4; NBA season ends (last possible date) — 5; stone crab season starts — 6; second presidential debate (tentatively) scheduled in Miami — 6; Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” premieres — 7; NBA free agency (tentative) — 9; Florida Chamber’s Future of Florida Forum — 11; HBO debuts 2000 presidential election doc ‘537 Votes’ — 12; third presidential debate (tentative) at Belmont — 13; “The Empty Man” premieres — 14; 2020 General Election — 25; NBA 2020-21 training camp — 32; The Masters begins — 34; NBA draft — 40; Pixar’s “Soul” premieres — 42; College basketball season slated to begin — 47; NBA 2020-21 opening night — 54; Florida Automated Vehicles Summit — 54; “Death on the Nile” premieres — 69; “Wonder Woman 1984” rescheduled premiere — 77; Greyhound racing ends in Florida — 83; Super Bowl LV in Tampa — 121; “A Quiet Place Part II” rescheduled premiere — 134; “Black Widow” rescheduled premiere — 149; “No Time to Die” premieres (rescheduled) — 175; “Top Gun: Maverick” rescheduled premiere — 266; Disney’s “Shang Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings” premieres — 273; new start date for 2021 Olympics — 287; “Jungle Cruise” premieres — 295; Disney’s “Eternals” premieres — 392; “Spider-Man Far From Home” sequel premieres — 395; Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” premieres — 427; “Thor: Love and Thunder” premieres — 491; “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” premieres — 544; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” sequel premieres — 725.


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 President Donald Trump or former Vice President Joe 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 Thursday, the CNN average has Biden remains at 53% compared to a steady 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 Thursday, Biden has moved up to an 85 in 100 chance of winning compared to Trump, who stayed steady at 15 in 100 shot. One model still has no Electoral College victory, bringing the election to the House. FiveThirtyEight also ranked individual states by the likelihood of delivering a decisive vote for the winning candidate in the Electoral College: Pennsylvania leads with 25%, while Florida is second with 17%. Wisconsin dropped to third with 15 % Other states include Michigan (8.6 %), Minnesota (5.2%), Arizona (5.1%), North Carolina (4.3%) and Nevada (3.2%).

Donald Trump continues to trail Joe Biden in the latest round of battleground state polling. Image via AP.

PredictIt: As of Thursday, the PredictIt trading market has Biden dropping to $0.67 a share, with Trump rising a bit to $0.37.

Real Clear Politics: As of Thursday, the RCP average of polling top battleground states has Biden leading Trump 51.6% to 41.9%. The RCP average also has Biden averaging at +9.7 points ahead.

Sabato’s Crystal Ball — Recent rosy polling for Biden in the presidential race may represent an artificial sugar high for the challenger. In recent days, Joe Biden’s significant lead nationally has widened. At this point, Trump needs to be making up ground — not treading water or falling further behind. Eleven rating changes across four categories of races (President, Senate, House, and Governor) almost exclusively benefit Democrats.

The Economist: As of Thursday, 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 has remained steady at 9 in 10 (91%) versus Trump with 1 in 10 (9%). They still give Biden a 99% chance (better than 19 in 20) of winning the most votes, with Trump at only 1% (less than 1 in 20).


Donald Trump says he won’t take part in virtual debate” via Axios — Trump told Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo on Thursday that he will not take part in a virtual second presidential debate. “I’m not going to waste my time on a virtual debate. It’s not what debating is all about. … It’s ridiculous,” the President said. Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien, who also tested positive for coronavirus, said in a statement that the campaign will “pass on this sad excuse to bail out Joe Biden and do a rally instead.” Stepien also claimed that Trump “will have posted multiple negative tests prior to the debate,” which has never been publicly confirmed by the president’s doctors.

Donald Trump refuses to participate in a virtual debate. Image via AP.

Joe Biden to attend town hall event after Trump pulls out of second debate” via Jacob Knutson of Axios — Biden will appear at a town hall event hosted by ABC News and moderated by George Stephanopoulos in Philadelphia on Oct. 15, the network announced on Thursday. The second presidential debate was set for Oct. 15 until Trump, and then Biden, backed out on Thursday. Trump first refused to attend the debate after the Commission on Presidential Debates announced that it would be held virtually, and Biden indicated that he too would skip it if Trump would not show.

Susan Page responds to debate critics: ‘The refusal to answer a question, I thought, could be telling’” via Jeremy Barr of The Washington Post — Page has no regrets about how she chose to moderate the debate between Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris. “I felt good about how it went,” Page told The Washington Post as she headed to the airport in Utah on Thursday morning. “I felt it was a relatively civil debate, and one that was focused on issues that mattered to voters.” Page faced criticism for failing to ask enough follow-up questions or cut short the candidate who talked beyond the allotted time, in this case, Pence, who repeatedly ignored her very diplomatic pleas to wrap up his answers in adherence to the agreed-upon rules of the debate.

Down in the polls and yearning for an October surprise, Trump lashes at his most loyal allies” via Aaron Blake of The Washington Post — There was much about Trump’s interview with Fox Business host Bartiromo that reeked of desperation and an incumbent president fighting for his political life. He decided to go down the “unlikable” path with Sen. Harris and called her a “monster.” He said he wouldn’t participate in a virtual debate with Biden next week. He suggested he might win heavily blue New York state. He even cast doubt on polls showing him down by double digits. But perhaps nothing in the interview reflected his precarious position quite like what he said about some of his most loyal allies.

Pollster who predicted Trump’s 2016 win shows president up 3 points in Florida” via the staff of Hannity — A new InsiderAdvantage/Matt Towery, Sr., poll released today shows Trump leading Joe Biden by three points among likely voters in Florida. The results of the question “If the election were held today, who would you vote for?” showed Trump with 46% and Biden with 43%. The survey of 400 likely Florida voters was conducted by a mixed sampling including IVR to landlines and live phone calls to cell phones. It is weighted for age, race, gender, and political affiliation. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9%. It was conducted Oct. 6-7.

Trump eyes Florida rally on Saturday, leaving quarantine behind” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — In what could be a violation of his own administration public health protocols, President Trump is eyeing a return to the campaign trail as soon as Saturday — and he’s talking about Florida. “I think I’m going to try doing a rally on Saturday night if we have enough time to put it together,” Trump told Fox News’ Sean Hannity during his Thursday night program. “But we want to do a rally in Florida, probably in Florida, on Saturday night.

Trump administration turns to immigration as vote nears” via Ben Fox and Elliot Spagat — It had the ingredients of a Trump campaign speech: dangerous immigrants, attacks on Democrat-run cities, even a mention of “America First.” But it was Chad Wolf, acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, announcing a routine, and relatively minor, enforcement operation Wednesday at a Washington news conference. “It’s not about Republicans, it’s not about Democrats, it’s not about elections,” Wolf insisted, twice, to reporters. Yet it was the third time in a week the administration rolled out actions to appear tough on immigration, reviving an issue that was at the heart of Trump’s successful 2016 campaign, but largely on the back burner in the current one.

Trump creates the unreality he needs to steal the election” via Molly Roberts of The Washington Post — What on Earth is Trump doing? We have absolutely no idea — and not only because the White House won’t tell us. Recent days have been a mess of chaos and melodrama: conflicting reports about the President’s battle with COVID-19 from his doctors punctuated by tweets of “LOVE!!!” from the patient; a potentially dangerous surprise SUV ride followed by an early hospital discharge; an Evita-esque spectacle staged from a White House balcony complete with the ceremonial removal of a medical mask. The President is now back at the White House convalescing, yet it’s impossible to ascertain how sick he really is. Wondering about the date of the President’s last negative test? Forget about it.

Sad state: Moment drunk ex-Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale moans his wife won’t have sex with him during ‘gun suicide’ arrest” via Mollie Mansfield of The Sun — The moment drunk ex-Trump campaign manager Parscale moaned that his wife won’t have sex with him during his “gun suicide” arrest was caught on bodycam footage. “I just couldn’t accept she isn’t having sex with me,” Parscale, 44, sobbed to a female police officer on Sept. 27. He continued: “I just couldn’t accept it. Not in months. I couldn’t accept it. I just kept asking her.” Cops dashed to Parscale’s home in Fort Lauderdale last month after his wife Candice reportedly told them he had “multiple firearms” and was threatening to harm himself. Further footage heard Parscale claiming that his wife was plotting to steal his money.

Former Donald Trump campaign manager Brad Pascale gets hauled off by Ft. Lauderdale police. Image via Ft. Lauderdale PD.

Beer brouhaha: Florida brewery cancels two Trump events after social media backlash” via Phillip Valys of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — There’s a brewery brouhaha at Holy Mackerel Beers in Wilton Manors after two planned — and now-canceled — Trump events raised the ire of the city’s LGBT community. Wilton Manors residents and LGBT rights groups bombarded Holy Mackerel’s Facebook page Wednesday morning with negative reviews and angry messages calling for a boycott of the taproom and barbecue restaurant. At one point, the brewery shut down its Facebook page to stem the flood of messages, owner Frank Barecich said. By Wednesday afternoon, hours after the social-media kerfuffle, Holy Mackerel canceled both Trump events and posted a mea culpa on its Facebook page.

Assignment editors — Florida Trump Victory will host a ‘Back the Blue MAGA Meet-Up’ with former Attorney General Pam Bondi, 1:15 p.m., Lou’s Police Distributors, Inc., 7815 W. 4th Avenue, Hialeah. To confirm your attendance, email Kailey Cotter [email protected] with your name and outlet.

Biden campaign sells out ‘truth over flies’ swatter after fly lands on Pence during debate” via Morgan Gstaler of The Hill — The Biden campaign quickly sold out of a “Truth Over Flies” fly swatter it was offering inspired by a viral moment from Wednesday’s vice presidential debate. During the event in Utah on Wednesday night, a fly landed on Pence as he debated against Democratic vice presidential nominee Harris. The Biden campaign quickly offered for $10 through its website a blue fly swatter, saying it “swats away flies and lies.” As of Thursday morning, Biden’s online store sold out the stock of nearly 35,000 fly swatters, according to the campaign.

The Joe Biden campaign wasted no time capitalizing on the buzz of the moment.

Assignment editors — Biden for President Florida will host a virtual phone bank kickoff with special guest Valerie Biden Owens, Biden’s sister and longtime adviser, 3 p.m. Media interested in attending should RSVP here no later than 1 p.m. ET. Members of the public who wish to attend can RSVP here.

Officials gather information in Mike Bloomberg probe” via News Service of Florida — State law-enforcement officials have moved from a “review” phase into an “information gathering process” as they look into Bloomberg helping Florida felons pay outstanding legal costs so they could register to vote. “In a preliminary inquiry — where we are now — we start to obtain documents and conduct research,” Gretl Plessinger, a Florida Department of Law Enforcement spokeswoman, said in an email Thursday. No timeline has been set for the investigation. Attorney General Ashley Moody asked for the investigation on Sept. 23 after Bloomberg raised at least $16 million for the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition. Democrats have labeled the investigation request political theater.


DNC launches anti-Trump ad in Tampa market blasting virus response” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — The ad, entitled “Had enough?” begins running in the Tampa market Thursday and is part of a six-figure ad buy, according to the DNC. The ad includes ominous data points about the virus including deaths and job losses. It comes the day after Pence squared off with Harris Wednesday night in the pair’s first and only debate before the Nov. 3 election. Pundits widely believe Harris’ strongest points in the debate came in the first 15 minutes when she hit Trump and his administration over their failed COVID-19 response.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

EDF Action Votes ad touts Joe Biden’s ‘bold plan’ on climate change — EDF Action Votes launched a $1 million ad campaign highlighting the stark contrast between Trump’s and Biden’s plans to tackle climate change. The ad says Biden’s plan will “create millions of clean energy jobs while protecting our beaches from drilling and rising waters and boosting Florida’s economy.” The ad, “Deserves” is geared toward Hispanic voters and will run on premium streaming services in the Tampa area. EDF is airing the ad in English and Spanish in the Tampa media market.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

Lin-Manuel Miranda stars in new pro-Biden ad — United for Progress PAC and Bloomberg are hitting the airwaves with a new TV and Radio ad campaign starring Lin-Manuel Miranda, the award-winning actor, composer and lyricist who created Broadway’s HAMILTON. The ads, titled “Vote Joe,” highlights Biden’s work to secure access to affordable and quality health care for millions of Latinos through the creation of Obamacare, as well as the former Vice President’s efforts to help the nation recover from the 2009 recession and his commitment to work on behalf of Puerto Rico. The Spanish-language TV ad will air in the Tampa and Orlando Markets. The radio ads will air in Spanish and English.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

America First Policies backs SCOTUS pick with another ad — America First Policies hit the airwaves with another ad supporting Amy Coney Barrett‘s confirmation to the Supreme Court. The ad, titled “Serve You,” lets Barrett do the talking: “I would assume this role to serve you. Judges are not policymakers and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they might hold. And if the Senate does me the honor of confirming me, I pledge to discharge the responsibilities of this job to the very best of my ability.” AFP said it will run Thursday through Oct. 13.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

Bill Kristol, Billy Crystal encourage Jewish voters to back Biden — The Jewish Democratic Council of America is out with a new ad starring political pundit Kristol and comedian Crystal. JDCA said the two are backing Biden “despite their different political views and backgrounds.” JDCA Executive Director Halie Soifer added, “Our nation is in crisis, and Joe Biden is the leader we need to address COVID-19, rising White nationalism, Trump’s assault on our democracy, and Republican efforts to deprive millions of Americans of access to affordable health care.” The ad was directed by Rob Reiner, written by Phil Rosenthal and produced by Wake Up & Vote in partnership with Jews Defending American Values. It has a 30-second and 90-second cut.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:


— 2020 — 

Cook Political Report: Democrats could gain 15 more seats in House two years after ‘blue wave’” via Mica Soellner of the Washington Examiner — In a new report by the nonpartisan election forecaster the Cook Political Report, seven House races have shifted in the Democratic Party’s favor, including the contest for the North Carolina seat vacated by White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, which moved from “Likely Republican” to “Lean Republican.” The new report on the House found the GOP’s chances of taking back the lower chamber increasingly depressed. Even if the 25 races listed as a “tossup” are split evenly, Democrats could gain five or six seats.

Mark Meadows’ former House seat could flip to blue. Image via AP.

Turning Point USA tied to fake accounts, Facebook says” via Ben Collins and Kevin Collier of NBC News — Facebook said it has taken down hundreds of fake accounts created by a marketing company that worked with the young conservative group Turning Point USA to invade the comments sections of mainstream publishers and denigrate Democratic politicians. The marketing company, Rally Forge, worked on behalf of Turning Point USA to create 200 fake identities on Facebook and 76 on Instagram, as well as 55 Facebook pages, the social media giant said in a blog post. The identities “used stock profile photos and posed as right-leaning individuals from across the U.S.” and their “sole activity on our platform was associated with this deceptive campaign,” Facebook said.

With Florida’s hotel workers still jobless, unions pivot to canvass for Democrats” via Bianca Padro Ocasio and Taylor Dolven of the Miami Herald — The recent ground efforts from workers pitching Democratic presidential candidate Biden and county mayoral hopeful Daniella Levine Cava are part of mobilization plans some unions crafted ahead of 2020. Before the COVID-19 crisis, unions like UNITE HERE Florida were planning to fan out throughout the state. Since the pandemic devastated the union’s dues-paying members, the groups are now fighting for their own survival and revisiting their preelection plans. They’ve flown experienced organizers in from around the country, hoping they can duplicate in Florida the Democratic victory they saw in Nevada, where the 60,000-member culinary union was able to successfully mobilize voters in 2016 for former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

The tale of two congressional races in Tampa Bay” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — The national Democrats thought they had located a prized recruit to finally challenge U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan in Florida’s 16th congressional district. They’re savior? State Rep. Margaret Good, who had previously beaten Buchanan’s son, James, in a Special Election in 2018. The storyline almost wrote itself. Until Good screwed it all up. The turn of the year started with Good committing a few election law violations. OK, candidates can’t be perfect. Then it moved to the ugly divorce with her longtime campaign manager Kevin Lata.

Margaret Good seemed to be the Democratic savior for Vern Buchanan’s seat. It’s not working out that way.

Controversial fliers in Panama City removed; organizers point to voter intimidation” via Jacqueline Bostick of the Panama City News-Herald — Controversial fliers posted on city utility poles along Beach Drive were removed Monday after Panama City officials received complaints. “The signs were removed because they were in violation of the city’s codes,” officials wrote in an email Tuesday. The city cited local laws that restrict signs to private property and from being attached to utility or phone poles located in a public right of way. The messages included ominous phrases, such as, “Where we go one, we go all,” “Midnight Riders,” “[Q]uestion everything,” and “#fightback.”


Equality Florida blasts Jason Brodeur over bill to limit same-sex couple adoptions” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The state’s biggest advocacy organization for LGBTQ rights is spending $125,000 to blast Republican former Rep. Brodeur for his record on gay rights, specifically regarding gay and lesbian couple adoptions. Equality Florida Action, the political action committee for Equality Florida, announced it is campaigning against Brodeur in his bid to be elected to the open seat in Senate District 9. Brodeur faces Democrat Patricia Sigman in one of the hottest-contested Senate races in the state, representing Seminole County and southern Volusia County.

Equality Florida is slamming Jason Brodeur on his stance on same-sex adoptions.

Closely watched Senate District 39 race is heating up. Here’s who’s running.” via Samantha J. Gross of the Miami Herald — Former South Miami state Rep. Javier Fernández and Doral Rep. Ana Maria Rodriguez, campaigning with a backdrop of a presidential election, are vying to replace term-limited Republican incumbent Anitere Flores in a seat that includes South Miami-Dade and all of Monroe County. Republicans see the race as a prime opportunity to defend the seat, which Flores won in 2016 when she ran to replace Democrat Dwight Bullard after the Senate district lines were redrawn. Democrats have identified it as one of the most flippable seats in the Legislature and have poured resources into the race.

Drake Buckman, Fiona McFarland preach independence but stake out party positions” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A debate between Buckman and McFarland in House District 72 showed both candidates calling for less partisanship. But both also largely sided with positions taken by party leadership in Tallahassee. Buckman, a Sarasota Democrat, slammed a planned toll road through the Florida Heartland. McFarland, a Sarasota Republican, took a stance against Medicaid expansion. Both candidates indicated disagreement with a proposed overhaul of Florida’s primary system, a rare issue putting both state parties in lockstep. But each candidate made clear they intend to put the local needs and values of the greater Sarasota community ahead of party priorities.

—“Democrat Laura Novosad challenges Republican Lauren Melo for vacated Florida District 80 seat” via Liz Freeman of the Naples Daily News

—”Political newcomers compete for Miami-Dade House seat in District 114” via Ana Ceballos of the Miami Herald

Does Stephanie Meyer support a state income tax? Her answers are contradictory” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — Pinellas County School Board member Stephanie Meyer indicated support for a state income tax, according to a questionnaire provided to the Christian Voters Coalition. Meyer has since updated the questionnaire indicating she does not support a state income tax and told Florida Politics she checked the wrong answer by mistake.


Florida adds 3,306 coronavirus cases, 170 deaths” via Natalie Weber of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida reported 3,306 coronavirus cases Thursday, adding to the 726,013 total infections tracked in the state since March. The state added 170 deaths, raising the total number of deaths statewide to 15,254. There is often a delay between when someone dies and when authorities add their death to Florida’s total count of coronavirus fatalities. Thus, the change in deaths does not necessarily reflect the number of people who died from the virus the previous day. On average, the state has announced 91 deaths per day over the past week. The state reported results for 77,485 Florida residents Thursday. It has recorded about 60,736 resident test results per day on average this week.

Florida is moving forward with reopening. Are we in for a second surge?” via Romy Ellenbogen of the Tampa Bay Times — When DeSantis announced Florida would move into Phase 3 of reopening with no capacity restraints on businesses, he pointed to a decline in the number of coronavirus infections across the state. There were fewer cases, fewer people in the hospital, and lower positivity rates, he said. Florida has seen a general decline since a strong surge peaked in July when hospitals experienced an influx of positive patients and deaths spiked. Over the summer, the state recorded hundreds of new fatalities every day for weeks. But public health experts fear that the latest reopening may spur yet another surge in infections and deaths.

Ron DeSantis is pushing ahead with the full reopening. Health care workers are bracing for another wave. Image via AP. 

Inside a Florida hospital, coronavirus cases wane as strained staff brace for a fall surge” via Abigail Hauslohner of The Washington Post — Nearly two dozen people critically ill with the novel coronavirus were recently being treated at Tampa General Hospital, 10 of them on ventilators. More than a dozen others with noncritical cases filled beds in a dedicated ward. This is what a lull looks like. Florida was a hot spot of the coronavirus pandemic this summer. The state’s intensive care units, including those at Tampa General, were pushed to the brink as the virus spread out of control. The spike came weeks after Gov. DeSantis quickly reopened much of the state, casting it as a return to normalcy.

After testing mishap, Quest is still vying for coronavirus testing business in Florida” via Romy Ellenbogen of the Tampa Bay Times — A month ago, DeSantis cut ties with Quest Diagnostics, the commercial laboratory responsible for handling the vast majority of Florida’s coronavirus testing caseload. The company reported a 75,000-test backlog to the Florida Department of Health in one day, skewing the state’s daily tracking of COVID-19 infections, deaths and positivity rate. Stripped of its contract to work with the state government, Quest is now marketing in Florida and offering rapid COVID-19 tests to patients through its own private business.

Purple Florida: Lawmakers prepare to navigate COVID-19 in politically divided state” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — GrayRobinson hosted a virtual bipartisan panel of House personalities entitled “Purple State Politics: Discussing Florida’s Unique Geographical and Political Diversity.” Two Republicans, Rep. Alex Andrade and House candidate Michelle Salzman, streamed in from the Panhandle, while Reps. Dan Daley and Nick Duran logged on from South Florida. While there were some partisan jabs, both playful and philosophical, there seemed agreement the challenges in the next year will require pragmatism. The leaders also seemed to agree the COVID-19 pandemic would deliver consequences that last for a long time, both in public health and Florida’s economy.


Party on? As COVID-19 restrictions subside, FSU students head back to Tallahassee clubs” via Jensen Kervern of the Tallahassee Democrat — After DeSantis lifted nearly all COVID-19 restrictions on businesses, restaurants and bars across the state, students didn’t hesitate to take full advantage of Tallahassee’s recently resurrected nightlife. Bajas Beachclub on West Pensacola Street, which was closed by the state in late June for violating closure orders, held their grand reopening Saturday, Oct. 3, and students arrived in droves, eagerly standing shoulder-to-shoulder in the parking lot. The consensus from the crowd suggests many students don’t see COVID-19 as an immediate threat. In fact, every student that spoke with the Tallahassee Democrat claimed to have had the virus.

With restrictions lifted, the FSU party life is getting back to normal. Image via the Tallahassee Democrat.

Ron DeSantis ruling gives Florida and Georgia option to increase TIAA Bank Field capacity” via Garry Smits of The Florida Times-Union — DeSantis has given sports teams the ability to pack as many fans as they want into their stadiums under a clarification his office issued about the Phase 3 reopening of the state. Two of the state’s NFL teams aren’t taking any chances. But officials at the University of Florida and the University of Georgia are currently not saying whether they will seek more capacity for their 98th meeting overall and 88th in Jacksonville.

With holidays on the horizon, COVID-19 still being spread in Okaloosa County” via Tom McLaughlin of Northwest Florida Daily News — Okaloosa County residents continue to share COVID-19 with one another at an alarming rate, and this week Health Department Director Dr. Karen Chapman warned residents to “consider CDC guidelines” in planning holiday celebrations. In her weekly report sent out Tuesday, Chapman said that for the past four days the county had seen a decline in the percentage of those tested turning up positive for the coronavirus. The numbers actually dropped below the goal of 5 percent on Oct. 3-4, but “as of yet no sustained decline over a two-week period” has been confirmed. “COVID-19 transmission continues,” Chapman reported. The number of cases reported in the county has averaged about 30 per day since Sept. 21.

— COVID 45 —

One week at the White House was America’s pandemic in a microcosm” via Robert Langreth and Michelle Fay Cortez of Bloomberg — The White House outbreak, consuming the highest levels of the U.S. government, is a superspreader event with geopolitical shock waves. It’s driven several of the country’s top military leaders into quarantine and could ultimately put thousands of ordinary people, including staff at the White House and Trump’s Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club and their families, in danger. And it’s a microcosm of the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic from the beginning: All along, it has bet on quick fixes over unglamorous preventive measures like masks, social distancing, and contact tracing.

The White House as a coronavirus hotspot is sending geopolitical shock waves.

White House again refuses to disclose Trump’s last negative coronavirus test” via Jacob Knutson of Axios — White House communications director Alyssa Farah declined to tell reporters when Trump last tested negative for COVID-19 on Thursday, saying that “the doctors would like to keep it private.” It marks at least the eighth time since Trump tested positive for the virus one week ago that White House officials have refused to disclose the information. The detail could help determine when he contracted the virus, who he exposed, and the timeline of his illness. The White House is scrambling to respond to the outbreak as the list of officials who have tested positive for the virus, which includes senior officials like Stephen Miller and Hope Hicks, continues to grow.

Democrats rip Trump for suggesting Gold Star families could have given him COVID-19” via Quint Forgey and Connor O’Brien of POLITICO — Top congressional Democrats condemned Trump after the commander in chief suggested that he might have contracted COVID-19 from Gold Star family members who were too close to him when telling stories of their loved ones who died in the line of duty. Democrats said Trump’s comments, made in an interview, disrespected military families and shifted blame for his administration’s shortcomings on the coronavirus. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in her weekly news conference on Capitol Hill that Trump’s comments underscore the need for the administration to disclose when the president last tested negative for the coronavirus.

COVID-19 survivors see callousness, not compassion, in Trump’s bout with the virus” via Griff Witte of The Washington Post — Ken Holmes, a retired maintenance worker in Wisconsin, never had much in common with Trump, or much affection for him. But when the President caught a potentially lethal virus that had nearly killed Holmes this year, the 64-year-old saw a rare opportunity for connection. Trump, Holmes thought, might finally understand what he had come to learn through painful experience: The novel coronavirus is a monster that commands respect. “He can still make this right,” Holmes thought. But then Trump stood on the White House balcony Monday night, theatrically ripped off his mask while gasping for breath, and proclaimed the virus was nothing to fear.

The creepy Trump meme taking over Twitter” via Kaitlyn Tiffany of The Atlantic — When Trump announced that he and his wife, Melania, had tested positive for COVID-19, the replies were full of well-wishing, as well as admonishments from others for not being careful. Less expected was a whole host of messages full of indecipherable hexes, pictures of demons, and cursed images of all kinds. “The dead are resurrected day and night without anyone knowing,” reads one tweet written in Punjabi and paired with an image of what appears to be a young female ghost. Others are in Amharic, an Ethiopian language, and say things like “Arise from the ashes of your wickedness and repent before our Lord Lucifer pays your debts.”

White House security official contracted COVID-19 in September” via Jennifer Jacobs of Bloomberg — A top White House security official, Crede Bailey, is gravely ill with COVID-19 and has been hospitalized since September, according to four people familiar with his condition. The White House has not publicly disclosed Bailey’s illness. He became sick before the Sept. 26 Rose Garden event Trump held to announce his Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett that has been connected to more than a dozen cases of the disease. A White House spokesman declined to comment on Bailey. He is in charge of the White House security office, which handles credentialing for access to the White House.

D.C. urges Rose Garden ceremony attendees to get tested for COVID-19” via Marisa Fernandez of Axios — The Washington, D.C. Department of Health asked attendees and White House staff at the Rose Garden celebration for the introduction of Supreme Court nominee Coney Barrett on Sept. 26 to seek medical advice and get tested for COVID-19 by their local health department. The outbreak tied to the White House contributed to an increase in the District’s caseload. D.C. experienced a 26% increase last week, rising from some 40 new cases per day to about 50. Before the outbreak, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser had not publicly commented on any of the White House’s coronavirus practices, which have violated several D.C. virus regulations.

The Mayor of D.C. recommends that everyone at the Rose Garden ceremony be tested.

Mitch McConnell says he hasn’t been to White House since August, citing COVID-19 protocols” via Dominic Torres and Clare Foran of CNN — Senate Majority Leader McConnell said he hasn’t been to the White House since early August, citing a difference in coronavirus protocols at the White House and in the Senate. “I haven’t actually been to the White House since August the 6th because my impression was their approach to how to handle this is different from mine and what I insisted that we do in the Senate, which is to wear a mask and practice social distancing,” McConnell said at a Kentucky event in response to a question about whether he believes Trump should be disclosing more information about his recent coronavirus diagnosis.


Under Mike Pence, politics regularly seeped into the coronavirus task force” via Mark Mazzetti, Noah Weiland and Sheryl Gay Stolberg of The New York Times — At the task force, grim science-based projections were sometimes de-emphasized for rosier predictions, and guidance from public health agencies, about schools and summer camps, for example, was sometimes massaged by the vice president’s staff. Interviews with task force members, government public health officials and current and former White House officials show how public health considerations were sometimes at odds in the task force with the White House’s imperative for 2020: winning reelection on the basis of a strong economy.

CDC expands COVID-19 risk warning to include overweight people” via Emma Court of Bloomberg — The link between extra pounds and severe COVID-19 grew stronger as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that people who are merely overweight, not just the obese, may be at high risk of serious disease from the infection. The warning, posted on the agency’s website Tuesday, means about two-thirds of Americans could face higher risks. Metabolic changes tied to excess weight reduce the immune system’s ability to fight disease, which likely plays a role when it comes to coronavirus outcomes, said Barry Popkin, a nutrition professor.


Trump tells House GOP leader he wants a ‘big deal’ on COVID-19 relief” via Alayna Treene and Jonathan Swan of Axios — Within a day of tweeting that he was calling off bipartisan talks for a coronavirus stimulus deal, Trump phoned House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and indicated he was worried by the stock market reaction and wanted a “big deal” with Speaker Pelosi, per two sources familiar with the call. Trump was spooked after seeing the instant drop in the stock market and intense backlash to his tweet, and he has since directed Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to push for a more comprehensive relief bill before the election. He wants a deal that would go beyond securing aid for the struggling airline industry and extending the small business Paycheck Protection Program.

Donald Trump is telling GOP leaders to cut a ‘big deal’ with Nancy Pelosi. Image via AP.

Nancy Pelosi signals no relief for airlines without bigger COVID-19 deal” via Heather Caygle, Sarah Ferris and Sam Mintz of POLITICO — Pelosi is refusing to move a stand-alone coronavirus bailout for airlines unless the administration also agrees to a broader stimulus package, sowing further confusion in the already tangled talks that have dragged on since early summer. “I have been very open to having a single stand-alone bill for the airlines or part of a bigger bill. But there is no stand-alone bill without a bigger bill,” Pelosi told reporters Thursday at her weekly news conference. Pelosi’s comments appeared to be a change in direction for Democrats, one day after she and some top lawmakers had privately discussed moving ahead with an airlines-only relief bill as soon as this week.

Millions brace for more layoffs, hunger and utility shut-offs as stimulus talks break down” via Eli Rosenberg and Heather Long of The Washington Post — Americans left in the lurch by Trump’s sudden decision to abandon negotiations over a long-delayed stimulus package expressed disbelief, disgust and desperation about Trump’s abrupt move. More than a dozen unemployed workers and struggling business owners affected by the move said that while they are familiar with Washington’s dysfunction, they are stunned by the latest decision by Trump and Republicans to break discussions off. Many said they are counting on an influx of financial support, as they watched bank accounts dwindle since the expiration of most of the previous aid programs in August.

Jobless claims up as layoffs continue” via News Service of Florida — First-time unemployment claims jumped last week in Florida, as a growing number of major entertainment and travel-related businesses cut hours and lay off employees. The U.S. Department of Labor estimated 40,200 new unemployment claims were filed in Florida during the week that ended Oct. 3, up from 32,373 the prior week. The new total was the largest number for one week since the start of September and since DeSantis lifted most business restrictions. Disney World, Universal Florida and Baggage Airline Guest Services announced thousands of new layoffs this week, the Regal cinema chain suspended operations at all movie theaters, and the P.F. Chang’s restaurant chain further cut hours for nearly 800 employees across the state.

Carnival reports $2.9 billion loss, still assessing testing options for Nov. 1 cruises” via Taylor Dolven of the Miami Herald — Carnival reported a net loss of $2.9 billion for the three months ending in August 2020. In a filing to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company said it had a cash burn rate during the three-month period of $770 million as it nears the end of its seventh month without cruises in the U.S., its most lucrative market. The company said it is preparing to restart cruises in the U.S. as soon as Nov. 1. The industry has committed to what it’s calling “100% testing” of passengers before boarding but is not offering specifics about what testing will be used, when it will be done, and whether the passenger or the companies will pay for it.


Prepare for a ‘marathon’ and two years of wearing masks to battle COVID-19, says prominent Spanish virologist” via Barbara Kollmeyer of MarketWatch — Margarita del Val heads up a cross-disciplinary initiative by the Spanish National Research Council. She said no one can count on one single measure, but lifestyle changes will be required. “We have to get used to wearing a mask and taking a couple of measures for a couple of years, and integrate them into our daily lives, forget about them, they will turn into something that is useful to you,” she said. “We will get over this in some years, but we don’t have to expect this is going to be a hundred-meter run. It’s going to be a marathon.”

Spanish virologist Margarita del Val warns that COVID-19 will lead to several ‘lifestyle changes.’

Disney slams California Governor after he slows reopening of California theme parks” via Chris Woodyard of USA Today — Disneyland and other large theme parks in the Golden State won’t be reopening anytime soon, California Gavin Newsom said. In fact, he said the state “is in no hurry in putting out guidelines,” the rules that theme parks would need to operate safely as the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage. His grim pronouncement marked a turnabout from last month, when Newsom said he expected the guidelines to be issued “very, very shortly” as the state negotiated with the industry. Newsom’s latest declaration comes as a blow to Disneyland and to the city of Anaheim, east of Los Angeles, where what is normally the Happiest Place on Earth is the largest employer.

Airbnb hosts now must follow mandatory cleaning protocol — or risk getting kicked off the platform” via David Oliver of USA Today — Airbnb hosts and guests are now required to adhere to mandatory mask, social distancing and cleanliness guidelines amid the coronavirus pandemic. According to an announcement from the short-term rental platform, hosts and guests must now wear masks and practice social distancing while interacting with one another, and by Nov. 20, homes need to implement the company’s five-step cleaning process. Airbnb’s “enhanced clean” program was developed in conjunction with health experts and includes a five-step cleaning procedure as well as social distancing guidelines.

A disrupted Thanksgiving leaves the turkey business guessing” via Kim Severson of The New York Times — Just how many whole turkeys will Americans cook this year for a holiday whose wings have been clipped by the pandemic? “That’s the big question on the tip of everybody’s tongue,” said Stew Leonard Jr., who expects to sell 20 percent fewer big turkeys at the seven stores his family owns in the Northeast. All indications are that the holiday gatherings that used to bring together dozens of people to share one or two turkeys will be scuttled in favor of smaller celebrations. That could lead to a run on small turkeys, a higher-than-usual demand for parts like whole breasts, and higher prices across the board.


Democrats propose plan to improve Florida’s unemployment benefits, process” via Lawrence Mower of the Miami Herald — Democratic lawmakers announced they will propose a major overhaul to the state’s broken unemployment system that includes nearly doubling weekly benefits and tripling the number of weeks someone could receive those benefits. Maximum weekly benefits would rise to $500 per week, instead of the current $275. Minimum weekly benefits would rise to $100, from the current $32. And self-employed workers would, for the first time, be eligible for state benefits. The proposed bill, still in draft form, also addresses some of the problems that have frustrated millions of Floridians who have filed for unemployment after losing their jobs in the pandemic this year.

‘A historic year for gun sales’: Florida background checks surge amid pandemic, protests” via Julius Whigham II of The Palm Beach Post — More than 1 million people in Florida requested background checks to purchase firearms during the first nine months of 2020, according to statistics from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. In another indication that many are buying guns for the first time, there have been more than 80,000 new applications for concealed weapons permits since July 1, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture. There also have been more than 36,000 applications for permit renewals. The 1 million gun license background checks marks the first time since 2016 that Florida had that many and just the second time at least since 2004, the FDLE’s data shows.

It’s been a banner year for gun sales in Florida.


What the potential death of the Affordable Care Act means for Florida” via Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times — Few states would be more affected than Florida by the demise of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.” The Trump administration is currently arguing before the Supreme Court that the entire law should be terminated. Millions of Floridians get insurance through the law. The Supreme Court could very well strike down the law. Democrats could make the Supreme Court case a nonissue after November. Florida has a law that mandates coverage of preexisting conditions. Sort of.


Lake Worth Beach Commissioner Omari Hardy resigns … with some parting words” via Jorge Milian of The Palm Beach Post — Hardy vacated his seat on the Lake Worth Beach city commission this week, but he did not go quietly. Hardy, a Democrat, needed to resign from his seat to qualify for the Nov. 3 election for HD 88. His resignation ended a turbulent tenure marked by angry squabbles with other board members, most notably a nasty, high-decibel spat with Mayor Pam Triolo in March. “I don’t think she’s been much of a leader over the past several months and, really, over the past several years,” Hardy said of Triolo. “She has no problem cutting a ribbon or standing on a parade float or making remarks at an event, but she works hard to avoid tough decisions.”

A nasty exchange between Lake Worth Beach Mayor Pam Triolo and Commissioner Omari Hardy has led to Hardy’s departure. 

Parkland families must turn over some mental-health records to School Board, judge rules” via Rafael Olmeda and Megan O’Matz of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting, and their families, will have to turn over some records of their mental health treatment since the tragedy, a Broward judge ruled. But it’s not clear how many victims will have to comply, or how much information they will have to disclose as part of a lawsuit accusing the Broward School Board of failing to protect the students from the shooter’s Valentine’s Day 2018 rampage. Broward Circuit Judge Patti Englander Henning saved the most contentious issues of her ruling for a later date, giving the Broward School Board and the plaintiffs a chance to work it out before she issues a comprehensive ruling that could leave both sides unhappy.

Miami-Dade is one storm away from a housing catastrophe. Nearly 1M people are at risk” via Rene Rodriguez and Yadira Lopez of the Miami Herald — Housing advocates have long feared that the city is one storm away from disaster; nearly a third of all housing structures in Miami-Dade County built before 1990 are at risk of wind damage, mold contamination and even complete devastation from a hurricane. According to U.S. Census figures, nearly one million people could be left homeless in a worst-case scenario — the majority of them among the poorest of the county’s residents. About 70.2% of the county’s 1,016,653 single-family homes, condos and town houses were built before 1990, two years before Miami-Dade and Broward adopted a stricter “High-Velocity Hurricane Zone” building code standard after Hurricane Andrew. Bringing all that housing stock up to code would cost billions of dollars.

Hollywood Mayor vows to rebuild after fire engulfs several businesses on Broadwalk” via Wayne K. Roustan, Ben Crandell and Amy Beth Bennett of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Flames swept along a row of businesses on Hollywood’s Broadwalk early Thursday, damaging several businesses including the Little Venice restaurant and Blue Wave Bar & Grill. The fire is another blow to local restaurants and businesses already struggling amid the COVID pandemic. Mayor Josh Levy, a Hollywood native, said the building involved has always been a prominent destination on the Broadwalk, both for its central location and as a source of “great pizza and great sandwiches.” Arriving Thursday morning to find it turned into “a charred twist of metal and burned plastic,” Levy pledged to expedite the rebuild of “people’s dreams and livelihoods.”

Investigators interview Orlando, Orange County Mayors in airport probe” via Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel — Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings met last month with investigators looking into possible Sunshine Law violations on the board that runs Orlando International Airport. Carson Good, the chairman of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority’s governing board, and airport Executive Director Phil Brown were also interviewed earlier in the summer. None of the four would discuss interviews in any detail. But Dyer said the probe is focused on a meeting in August 2019 in which the five gubernatorial appointees on the seven-member airport board attempted to replace the agency’s top attorney with two new lawyers who would have been given unadvertised, no-bid contracts.

Both Buddy Dyer and Jerry Demings are under the microscope for possible Sunshine Law violations.

When Orlando theme parks self-report ride injuries, details can be left out” via Gabrielle Russon of the Orlando Sentinel — The public doesn’t always learn how badly people get hurt in the most serious accidents in Florida’s major theme parks because of a self-reporting system that lacks government oversight. Critics say Universal, Disney and other parks can downplay what happens without facing consequences. As part of a nearly 20-year-old agreement, Universal, Disney, SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and Legoland self-report visitors’ health problems on rides to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services as long as they require at least 24 hours of hospitalization.

Skanska a ‘very frustrating partner’ legislators say after Pensacola Bay Bridge meeting” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — Pensacola legislators voiced frustration at Skanska’s lack of public response to the community’s concerns about the damage the Pensacola Bay Bridge suffered during Hurricane Sally. “This was a great positive, productive meeting full of a lot of consummate professionals, but there was one very notable absence,” Rep. Andrade said following a closed-door meeting with the Florida Department of Transportation officials at Pensacola City Hall. “I would challenge any single person watching any of these videos in any of these streams to put a face to Skanska.”

After losing it all to flooding again, Bristol Park residents desperate for long-term fix” via Kevin Robinson of the Pensacola News Journal — Many residents of Bristol Park in Cantonment have lost it all to flooding multiple times, and they stand to lose it all again anytime there is significant rainfall. In 2014, more than 160 homes were flooded during record rainfall, and dozens of people had to be rescued by boat as rising floodwaters forced them to take shelter on rooftops. In 2016, FEMA awarded Escambia County $6 million through its Hazard Mitigation Grant Program to purchase about 23 acres of property in Bristol Park. Many said they believe the best option is for FEMA or the county to buy all of the homes in the neighborhood and turn the whole community into a stormwater retention lake.

Realtors pressure St. Pete to loosen development rule in flood-risk zone” via Josh Solomon and Zachary T. Sampson of the Tampa Bay Times — As a key vote looms before the City Council to potentially allow more development in flood-prone areas, one of Florida’s powerful special interest groups is making a late push. A political committee of Florida Realtors, which lobbies for the real estate industry, sent a mailer to some residents encouraging them to urge council members to pass the changes. “Protect private property rights in St. Pete,” one version says, highlighting “outdated development restrictions” while steering people to a website with a form email to send to city leaders. The same website was used years ago to advocate against a change to the way the city designated historic neighborhoods.

31-year-old man suffers 8-inch laceration from shark attack off Miami Beach” via CBS Miami — A 31-year-old man was taken to the hospital Wednesday afternoon following a shark attack off Miami Beach. According to Miami Beach PD, the man was bitten by a blacktip shark near 10 Street, resulting in an 8-inch laceration below the knee. As a precaution, Miami Beach Fire Rescue took the victim to Ryder Trauma Center, where he’s in stable condition. Double red flags are being flown at the lifeguard towers between 5 Street and 15 Street, warning beachgoers not to enter the water. Miami Beach police said there appeared to be a number of baitfish schools in the area.


Born with two strikes” via Toluse Olorunnipa and Griff Witte of The Washington Post — Throughout his lifetime, George Floyd’s identity as a Black man exposed him to a gantlet of injustices that derailed, diminished and ultimately destroyed him, according to an extensive review of his life based on hundreds of documents and interviews with more than 150 people, including his siblings, extended family members, friends, colleagues, public officials and scholars. The picture that emerges is one that underscores how systemic racism has calcified within many of America’s institutions, creating sharply disparate outcomes in housing, education, the economy, law enforcement and health care.

Kentucky attorney general seeks to ban Breonna Taylor grand juror from discussing proceedings” via Marisa Iati, Hannah Knowles and Abigail Hauslohner of The Washington Post — Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron filed a court motion seeking to bar an unidentified grand juror in the Taylor case from speaking about the proceedings, which the juror alleges Cameron has publicly mischaracterized. The motion comes the same day as the city of Louisville released a trove of documents from the police department’s internal investigation into the fatal shooting of Taylor while officers carried out a search warrant in March. The documents show other Louisville officers criticizing the raid and cast doubt on the police department’s justifications for the warrant, a key question addressed only in passing in recently released audio of the grand jury proceedings.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron is trying to silence a grand juror in the Breonna Taylor case.

As election draws closer, the NBA continues calls to vote” via Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press — Udonis Haslem is honest about it: Elections simply have not been overly important to him. That is, until now. He’s been a registered voter since 2004, so it’s not like he’s been unaware of the process or how it works. But it’s also been far from a passion project for Haslem, the Miami Heat forward who serves as a team captain and tries to set an example for every other player in the locker room. So, this year, that meant getting involved in the election process. “Growing up in my household, voting was never a conversation,” Haslem said. “Voting was never a conversation when I went to school.”

‘Speak up!’ — ‘Sesame Street’ tackles racism in TV special” via Mark Kennedy of The Associated Press — “Sesame Street” has always pressed for inclusion. Now in the wake of the national reckoning on race, it’s going further, teaching children to stand up against racism. Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit, educational organization behind “Sesame Street,” will later this month air the half-hour anti-racist special “The Power of We” and hopes families will watch together. The special defines racism for younger viewers and shows how it can be hurtful. It urges children who encounter racism or hear someone else be the victim of it to call it out. “When you see something that’s wrong, speak up and say, ‘That’s wrong’ and tell an adult,” 6-year-old Gabrielle the Muppet advises.


No more presidential debates this year? Not a problem. We’ve seen enough.” via Margaret Sullivan of The Washington Post — With these dispiriting events still fresh in one’s mind, a sensation of welcome relief flooded in when the presidential debate commission announced that, given Trump’s recent COVID-19 diagnosis and general public health concerns, the second Trump-Biden debate would not be done in person next week but rather remotely. The decision made good sense. For safety’s sake, the candidates should not be on a stage together, with or without those unimpressive plexiglass dividers. Even if masked and socially distant, debate staff and audience members would be in harm’s way.


Democracies are still falling for China’s lies” via Marco Rubio for The Telegraph — With another week comes another empty promise from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). This time, the hollow gesture was a pledge to fight climate change. In statements before the UN General Assembly last week, credulous politicians lauded Beijing’s declaration that it would become carbon-neutral by 2060. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she was “encouraged” by the pledge, while Barack Obama administration climate envoy Todd Stern welcomed it as “big and important.” What exactly are they expecting will happen?

The man who pretended not to notice” via David Frum of The Atlantic — We saw a weird moment when a fly landed on Pence’s snow-white hair and the vice president did not react at all. No doubt, it’s a conundrum, what to do in such a situation. If Pence had shooed the fly and the fly had refused to shoo, that would have been bad. So he did nothing. And that doing nothing somehow in one powerful visual moment concentrated everything. It symbolized the whole Pence vice presidency. Through all of the scandals and the crimes and the disasters of the past four years, Pence was the man who pretended not to notice. And now there was a fly on his head, and he pretended not to notice that too.

When a fly ruins your image” via Vanessa Friedman of The New York Times — The TV-watcher-in-chief, with his penchant for “central casting” his administration, could not have been pleased with the mockery it engendered on his favorite social media platform. The fly was the black spot in the ointment of Pence’s image, which has always seemed to belong to a Lego set, or a Build-a-Bear experience (build a politician!). From dark suit to the pristine white shirt and favored red ties to snowy hair that appears practically painted on, it’s as if he came straight out of a mold. Harris looked like her own person. By Thursday morning her reply to Pence’s mansplaining interruptions had already made it onto merch. No flies on her.

Who to blame for state’s voter registration system failure? No, not Russians, the culprits are closer to home” via Frank Cerabino of The Palm Beach Post — The search for “bad actors” in Florida’s election process shouldn’t be confined to hackers overseas. This week, when Florida’s voter registration website crashed on the final day to register for the upcoming election, Secretary of State Laurel Lee suggested that the shutdown may have been a result of a cyberattack from foreign hackers. But after a brief investigation, it turned out the culprit was actually Florida’s own elections officials. “The servers were configured in a way that reduced its capacity to a fraction of a fraction of what it was capable of,” Florida’s chief information officer James Grant told The Associated Press on Wednesday. That’s like supermarkets taking turkeys off their shelves the days before Thanksgiving.


Florida’s unemployment office had so much trouble sending out checks during the COVID-19 crisis, it’s trying to get some of that money back.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— Democrats have been complaining about the unemployment system for months and they’ve produced a fix. Sunrise checks out their bill to raise benefits and change the mindset at the state unemployment office.

— The state has passed another statistical milestone in the COVID-19 crisis: More than 15,000 Floridians have now been killed by the coronavirus. When you include victims from other states or countries who died in Florida, the total is now 15,248.

— Republican leaders in Tallahassee are refusing to call a Special Session to deal with COVID-19, but rank-and-file lawmakers say it’s going to be their No. 1 issue in March when the 2021 Session begins.

 — And finally, a Florida man who doesn’t know if the Holocaust actually happened, but he does know one thing for sure — he’s getting his job back.

To listen, click on the image below


Dishonorable Mention: Rep. Chris Latvala, activist Becca Tieder, Ernest Hooper and communications expert Dr. Karla Mastracchio discuss politics and culture. The hosts discuss the first debate between Trump and Biden, reacting to the President’s lack of denouncing White supremacy during the debate and race relations in the U.S. They also discuss DeSantis opening the state back up with no mandatory restrictions. Also, the Tampa Bay Lightning are Stanley Cup champions.

Inside Florida Politics from GateHouse Florida: Trump’s coronavirus infection has taken him off the campaign trail in a must-win state. Journalists Zac Anderson, John Kennedy and Antonio Fins discuss how the president’s illness could impact the race in Florida, what the Trump campaign is doing to compensate, some new polls showing the state of the race and the demise of the second presidential debate, which had been scheduled for Miami.

podcastED: Stand Up for Students President Doug Tuthill catches up with Louis Algaze who became Florida Virtual Schools’ president and CEO in July 2019. Since the two last spoke in May, Florida’s fully accredited online public-school district has seen an increase of 3,700 students and now fulfills more than 200,000 part-time flexible course requests statewide and beyond. Tuthill and Algaze discuss what has worked thus far for FLVS as well as improvement opportunities that will allow the school to continue providing virtual instruction for the great number of families who want it. Algaze also reflects on his surprise at the last-minute jump in the number of families interested in virtual classes even after school districts reopened with in-person instruction.

Tallahassee Business Podcast from the Tallahassee Chamber presented by 223 Agency: Christic Henry joins Sue Dick for a discussion on National Women’s Small Business Month. As a small-business owner herself, Henry champions the U.S. Small Business Administration for declaring October to celebrate and support Women-Owned Small Business. Henry is heavily involved in the Tallahassee community and advocates for members of the business community to play an active role in making Tallahassee the best it can be.

The New Abnormal from host Rick Wilson and Molly Jong-Fast: Kathy Griffin joins Jong-Fast and Wilson for a special episode recorded right after the vice-presidential debate. The gang thought Harris was the clear winner but they couldn’t stop looking at the vice president’s eye. “The close-up shots of Mike Pence’s bleeding eyeball were like watching an eighties horror movie. I expected some sort of snake to come running out of it at any minute,” Wilson said. And that was before the fly stuck to his head. “It’s almost like it gets inflamed during the debate. And the fly was doing some triage,” said Griffin.

The Yard Sign with host Jonathan Torres: Guests Anibal Cabrera, Chris VerKuilen and Torres talk post-debate breakdown, Trump’s COVID and Florida in Phase 3 reopening.


Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at politics in South Florida, along with other issues affecting the region.

Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Moderator Rob Lorei hosts a roundtable featuring attorney and former Rep. Sean Shaw; Deborah Tamargo, President of the Florida Federation of Republican Women; USF-St. Petersburg Emeritus Professor of Government and Politics Darryl Paulson; and Professor Dan Ruth of the Honors College at USF-Tampa.

Political Connections Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: A recap of the vice presidential debate; host Holly Gregory will interview Donald Trump, Jr.; and Senior Hispanic Advisory for the Biden Campaign Cristobal Alex will discuss Hispanic outreach in Florida.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: An hourlong special edition on women voters and the 2020 election. Anchor Ybeth Bruzual will host a panel of five suburban female voters from different political viewpoints who will discuss the issues that matter to them and how they are shaping their decision during the 2020 presidential election.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Host Gary Yordon talks with Florida Politics publisher Peter Schorsch.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Dr. Michael Binder of the University of North Florida Public Opinion Research Laboratory; Dr. J.R. Woodward, a Sociology professor at Florida State College at Jacksonville; Dr. Daniel Cronrath, a professor of Political Science Florida State College at Jacksonville.

This Week in South Florida on WPLG-Local10 News (ABC): Broward County State Attorney candidate Gregg Rossman; Florida International University professor, Department of Politics and International Relations Kathryn DePalo-Gould; Sean Foreman, Barry University professor, Department of History and Political Science.

— ALOE —

‘The Late Show’ brings back cast of ‘The West Wing’ for another rare Friday show” via Peter White of Deadline — “The Late Show”’s Stephen Colbert is back with his second original Friday night show in a row, and he’s bringing the cast of “The West Wing” with him. Martin Sheen, Allison Janney, Richard Schiff, Bradley Whitford and creator Aaron Sorkin will appear on the CBS talk show Friday, October 9. Last Friday, Colbert aired an episode of “The Late Show” after Trump contracted COVID-19. This comes ahead of the October 15 launch of “The West Wing” special on HBO Max. The cast of the NBC show is getting back together for a theatrical presentation of the “Hartsfield Landing” episode from Season 3.

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert is highlighting the ‘West Wing’ reunion to be shown Oct. 15 on HBO Max.

‘The Right Stuff’ becomes a Disney+ series that’s spared the need for speed” via Brian Lowry of CNN — Expanded into an eight-hour series, “The Right Stuff” doesn’t feel the need for speed. What it loses in momentum, however, this Disney+ series gains in its characterizations, offering a satisfying voyage back into the stories of the men at the center of the Mercury 7 space program, as well as the women that loved and/or endured them. Unlike the 1983 movie adaptation of Tom Wolfe‘s book — which deftly cut between the celebrated astronauts and the unheralded exploits of test pilot Chuck Yeager — the focus here is squarely on the former. Yet with more time to fill, the series is as much about their personal lives as their escape-the-bonds-of-Earth exploits.


Best wishes to state Rep. Ben Diamond, former Rep. Janet Adkins, our friend, Keyna Cory of Public Affairs Consultants, Diane Rado of The Florida Phoenix, top legislative aide Clayton Clemens, Mike Grissom of Becker, journalist Tia Mitchell, former Senate President Joe Negron, and lobbyist Ron Watson.


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

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and 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.


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

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

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

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Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
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