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Here’s Brunch, a pop-up, weekend email about final weeks of the 2020 campaign — 10.11.20

Enjoy your Sunday morning smorgasbord of Florida politics, campaigns, sports, culture & more.

Good morning and welcome to the latest edition of “Brunch,” our pop-up email delivered on Sundays during the final weeks of the 2020 campaign.

🍰 — Happy birthday to the Grande Dame of Florida political journalism, Lucy Morgan.

🏈 — The Jags are on the road vs. the Texans, who are 0-4 against the spread. They’ll get on the board today by covering the 5.5 spread. The Dolphins travel to San Fran, where they are eight-point dogs. You don’t have to bet every game, so I would stay away from that trick number.

🏀 — If you have to bet on a game involving a team from Miami, I recommend a bet on the Lakers to close out the NBA Finals vs. the Heat, who are 5.5 underdogs. LeBron and Co. tipoff at 7:30 p.m.

LeBron James and the Lakers are a good bet against the Miami Heat.

🏆 — Click here to read who is the Winner and Loser of The Week in Florida politics. 

📈 — Here’s your stat du jour, especially as we read Kevin Cate‘s tweets about how many Florida Democrats are voting early. Among 4 of 4 voters, Republicans have an 11% advantage among voters still left to vote. That translates to 451,725 votes.

Enjoy your Sunday. I’m headed to the Fox Lea barns, where Ella is competing in her first A grade horse show.

— Florida Florida Florida —

Florida has a reputation for close election results. Heck, in 2018, three statewide races went to a recount. But the swing state label was forged on Election Day 2000, when the eyes of the nation were glued to the TV waiting to see if George W. Bush or Al Gore would win the presidency. We kept them waiting until Dec. 12.

That origin story is the subject of a new podcast miniseries from Chuck Todd and the team at NBC. Over five episodes, “Florida Florida Florida,” will explore the ten enduring political lessons from the 2000 recount that will play a role in the 2020 election, from the birth of conservative acts of civil disobedience, to the fight for the Supreme Court.

The title of Chuck Todd’s new podcast says it all: ‘Florida Florida Florida.’

Chuck’s pitch: “Twenty years ago, the presidential election ended in an unprecedented legal, political and public relations fight centered on the state of Florida. It wasn’t exactly a moment of high confidence in the electoral process. I’m going to take you back to the 2000 presidential recount because it was probably, hopefully, the wildest election we’ll ever witness.”

NBC dove into the vault and compiled NBC News archival footage from Meet the Press, TODAY, and NBC Nightly News. The series chronicles the 2000 election through the unique reporting of NBC News correspondents then and now.

The supporting cast includes former U.S. Senator and 2000 VP nominee Joe Lieberman, former Bush recount attorney and now-U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, lobbyist and former RPOF Chair Al Cardenas, political strategist Mac Stipanovich, retired Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles Wells, former U.S. Rep. and the biggest name at 30 Rock at the time — NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw.

The first episode of “Florida Florida Florida” is available now from The Chuck ToddCast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and all major podcast platforms, with four subsequent episodes being released daily this week.

— Love from overseas —

Unless someone slipped a Quinnipiac in their mimosa, most politicos in the state expect a close call on Florida’s electoral votes, regardless of what the presidential election looks like nationwide. That could mean voters not technically in Florida at all could swing the results, notes the U.S. Vote Foundation.

One point: President Donald Trump won Florida by 1.2 percentage points over Hillary Clinton in 2018. That was just 112,911 votes out of more than 9 million cast.

Most Florida politicos expect a really, really close race in the Sunshine State. Image via AP.

From afar: Meanwhile, there’s 146,000 Florida voters this year registered to vote overseas. That includes military stationed internationally, but also Americans simply living overseas but keeping their U.S. registration in swing-state Florida.

Standout: There’s other swing states, like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, where overseas ballots rival the difference Trump won by four years ago. But neither of those states has overseas voters registered in excess of the margin of victory.

— Good news for Trump? —

Trump has seen his poll numbers sharply drop in the last week-plus. But a new internal survey covering Florida’s 27th Congressional District shows Trump very slightly overperforming his 2016 numbers in the district, located inside Miami-Dade County.

The results: Make no mistake, Trump is still down big inside CD 27. He’s losing 51%-37% among those “definitely” voting for either he or Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Add in those “probably” voting for Trump or Biden, and Biden leads 56%-40%, with 1% leaning third-party and 2% still undecided.

Florida’s 27th Congressional District may offer a ray of good news for Donald Trump. image via AP.

The comparison: Trump lost the district in 2016 by a 58.5%-39% margin. That’s about a 3-point swing toward Trump in 2020 among the 821 likely voters sampled. 

The caveats: The swing is within the survey’s 3.4-percentage-point margin of error, meaning it could just be statistical noise. The survey also ran from Sept. 27-Oct. 2. That overlapped with the first presidential debate but slightly precedes recent surveys that routinely showed Trump’s poll numbers cratering. It’s possible the poll ran just too early to catch the current trend.

Favorability: Trump’s favorability numbers were in the tank at -18, with 57% disapproving and 39% approving. Biden sat at +12, with 53% viewing him favorably and 41% viewing him unfavorably.

It’s unclear whether Trump will ultimately outperform his 2016 numbers in CD 27. It is clear that a slight improvement in the district likely won’t be enough should Biden maintain his edge elsewhere.

— Trump bus tour —

The fight against “socialism” is coming to a city near you.

Trump’s sons have been crisscrossing the state hosting campaign events. Donald Trump Jr. was in Panama City and Tampa Thursday, with Gov. Ron DeSantis joining him for a fundraiser in Panama City Beach Thursday afternoon. And Eric Trump was in Jax on Friday for a Make America Great Again rally at Semco Materials.

Donald Trump Jr. and Ron DeSantis are teaming up for a fundraiser to stop ‘socialism.’

Trump Jr. is keeping it rolling with a four-stop “Fighters Against Socialism” bus tour of Florida alongside avid Trump supporter and UFC star Jorge Masvidal and Cuban American business owner Maximo Alvarez, who issued a clarion call against socialism at the Republican National Convention.

It’s a one-day marathon, beginning with a stop at the Tampa Convention Center at 11 a.m. Sunday. That’s followed by Orlando’s Mech-Tech Institute at 1:30 p.m., Coconut Creek’s American Top Team at 5:45 p.m. and the Miami Executive Airport at 7:45 p.m., where the trio will be joined by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

The roadshow is part of “Operation MAGA,” an effort to keep campaign events going while the President was waylaid by COVID-19. However, the mission was a brief one with Trump expected to hit return to the trail Monday with a rally in Sanford, less than a week after he was discharged from the hospital.

Weekend of action

The Biden campaign has been busy this weekend, spending Saturday organizing events with Sen. Janet Cruz, congressional candidate Donna Deegan and others. The work continues on Sunday with a trio of virtual campaign events.

Janet Cruz and Donna Deegan are stumping for Joe Biden this weekend.

First up: At noon, the campaign is holding a Volunteer Leader Appreciation Event with former HUD Secretary Julian Castro. Prospective attendees can RSVP online. Interested media must sign up before 10 a.m.

Next: State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith will headline an LGBTQ+ phone bank event at 3 p.m. The campaign is looking for phone bankers of all experience levels. Those down to dial for the Democrats can get more information on the campaign website.

Finally: Former Minnesota Gov. Arne Carlson, former Iowa U.S. Rep. Mike Blouin and performer Jon “Bowzer” Bauman will hold a Southwest Florida Seniors Town Hall in Naples at 6 p.m. Sign up on the Biden for President website to tune in.

— DQ —

House Judiciary Chair Paul Renner warns that Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden‘s inability to come clean about a potential postelection Supreme Court-packing scheme is “absolutely” disqualifying.

Danger: “The threat of court-packing is such a serious concern because if we were to do that we would politicize the one branch of government that is supposed to be above politics. A really really dangerous idea.”

Paul Renner wants Joe Biden to come clean about ‘court-packing.’

Like the movies: In the context of Biden’s potential win, Discussing Judge Amy Coney Barrett‘s nomination is “a little bit like critiquing a movie when they’re getting rid of movie theaters forever.”

Turnabout is fair play: “It will destroy an independent judiciary and make it a political one. Don’t be surprised if when Republicans take over they return the favor.”

Be accountable: “Every Democrat running in 2020 should have to answer the question, including Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.”

For more of Renner’s thoughts on the process and the stakes, check out Florida Politics Monday morning for the full interview. 

— Must-see TV —

The cash is still flowing to TV stations, with numerous six-figure ad buys getting the green light this week. Here’s a preview of what you can expect to see while channel surfing.

CD 4: Republican U.S. Rep. John Rutherford spent $8K on a broadcast flight running through Oct. 19. Meanwhile, Democratic challenger Deegan spent $2K on Facebook and Google ads this week. She has now spent $410K on ads. Rutherford has spent $321K.

It’s a broadcast battle between John Rutherford and Donna Deegan in Florida’s 4th Congressional District.

CD 7: Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy placed a $30K radio buy for Oct. 19 through Nov. 8 in the Orlando market. The campaign also spent $386 on Facebook ads. This brings her total for the election to $133K.

CD 13: Republican candidate Anna Paulina Luna added $3K to a cable flight running through Oct. 15 and spent $40K on Facebook and Google ads. This brings her total ad spending for the election to $600K.

CD 16: Republican U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan spent $64K on a broadcast flight running Oct. 12-18 in the Tampa media market and another $2K on Facebook and Google ads. Democratic challenger Margaret Good spent $4K on Facebook and Google ads. She has now spent $1.18M while Buchanan has spent $879K. 

CD 26: Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell placed a $15K buy for Facebook and Google ads. The DCCC also put another $26K behind her in radio and digital. Republican challenger Carlos Gimenez spent $65K on TV ads running through Oct. 19 and $2K on digital ads. The Congressional Leadership Fund spent $35K on digital ads backing Gimenez and the NRCC spent another $6K. In all Mucarsel-Powell and Democratic PACs have spent $9.1M. Gimenez at al have spent $8M.

— Polling snapshot —

There are many competitive races on the ballot, but new polling confirms the contest between incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan and Democratic state Rep. Margaret Good isn’t one of them.

A Data Targeting poll of Florida’s 16th Congressional District found Buchanan with a 15-point lead over Good, it was the second poll in as many weeks giving Buchanan a double-digit edge.

He leads in favorability, too. Buchanan posted a plus-13 favorability rating overall, including a plus-27 with independents and a plus-15 among seniors. Good is underwater with the few independents who know her name, with 15% liking her and 19% finding her unfavorable.

New polling shows not much of a race between Vern Buchanan and Margaret Good.

A rising tide won’t unsink her boat. Even if Joe Biden runs up the score in CD 16, Good’s in trouble. About 1% of Trump voters told Data Targeting they’ll vote for Good while 6% of Biden voters say they’ll vote for Buchanan.

The polling isn’t an anomaly. CD 16 has always been at best a stretch goal and at worst a money pit for Democrats. The party dumped millions into the district in 2018, even outspending the incumbent, only to fall short by double digits. It’s looking like 2020 will be a rerun. Some outside perspective: FiveThirtyEight gives Buchanan a 92% chance of victory on Nov. 3.

PAC helping House Democrats — 

A few people scoffed last winter when a national PAC called Forward Majority Action announced it wanted to help flip enough Florida House seats to create a Democratic majority in time for the next reapportionment. Republicans’ majority is so strong that seemed like folly.

— Its Florida spinoff, Forward Majority Action Florida, started big with a $1 million donation this summer from one of the biggest Democratic donors in the state, Marsha Laufer of Lantana.

— What’s a million dollars worth? Not much at first. The Florida PAC put out a few mailers, bought some digital ads. Republicans shrugged.

— But the fund grew, and is likely still growing, now up to $2.5 million.

— Now the PAC is running TV ads in the first few of the 20 district races it says it is targeting. A hundred thousand dollars here, a hundred thousand dollars there. In races where some of the Democrats running probably could never raise that much on their own.

— The national PAC put in the latest $1.2 million, and it has a few million dollars left, and an apparent steady supply of Democratic donors who like to write six-figure checks.

—Rolling down Adams Street —

The 2020 election cycle hasn’t ended yet, but the Florida Speaker’s race in 2026-28 appears to have begun. Both Jason Shoaf and Sam Garrison, known contenders to lead the House if Republicans control it three elections from now, showed up Tuesday to a Tallahassee fundraiser rife with GOP House candidates.

Drama in the TLH: An event took place at Andrew’s Downtown for Southwest Florida candidates, all of whom recently emerged from primaries as GOP nominees. That includes first-time candidates Adam Botana, Mike Giallombardo, Fiona McFarland, Lauren Melo, Jenna Persons and Kaylee Tuck; incumbent Spencer Roach was also one of the beneficiaries.

Got cups, ain’t chipped in: Neither Garrison nor Shoaf were expected there. But somehow both managed to wander Adams Street at just the right hour to drop into the party. Shoaf, a redshirt freshman, could easily have reason to be in town as a sitting lawmaker.

Jason Shoaf and Sam Garrison managed an unexpected Adams Street appearance.

Cultivating, captivating: Three sources at the fundraiser confirm both arrived and rubbed elbows a good bit with the six candidates who hope to join the Republican freshman class this November. Count Persons as a prospective Speaker contender and that’s three people with some motive to whip leadership votes.

He who listens: Multiple sources say the subject of a Speaker’s race never explicitly came up, which would violate caucus rules. Rather, there seemed to be a buzz about “building a team.” Maybe there’s simply an attempt to get a kickball league together? —

Reading list a little bare? Midtown Reader has some inspiration for you.

Former U.S. Sen. Connie Mack has penned a memoir detailing his life in the world of Washington DC politics, and where that led him afterward.

From the back cover: “Citizen Mack is Sen. Connie Mack’s memoir of an 18-year journey to and from Capitol Hill. From speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast, addressing the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and casting historic votes on issues ranging from sending troops to war, to the impeachment of a president and the nomination of a controversial Supreme Court justice, Mack’s account of his time in office offers outsiders a look at what happens at the highest levels of American politics.”

If your interest is piqued, Midtown Reader is hosting a conversation between Mack and former Gov. Jeb Bush. To attend, simply pick up a copy of “Citizen Mack” from Midtown Reader’s online store and a link to the Oct. 15 Zoom call will arrive via email.

Jeb Bush and Connie Mack discuss Mack’s path through politics to the U.S. Senate.

GOP operative Stuart Stevens is also out with a new book titled “IT WAS ALL A LIE: How the Republican Party Became Donald Trump.”

From the back cover: “This is not a book about how Donald J. Trump hijacked the Republican Party and changed it into something else. Stevens shows how Trump is in fact the natural outcome of five decades of hypocrisy and self-delusion, dating all the way back to the civil rights legislation of the early 1960s.”

Stevens will join Midtown Reader’s Sally Bradshaw for a Zoom discussion on his new book on Oct. 21. Same as the Mack/Bush call, all who buy Stevens’ new book through Midtown Reader will get a link to join the call.

Republican operative Stuart Stevens talks with Sally Bradshaw about how the GOP fully embraced Donald Trump.

— Brunching out —

Hawthorn Bistro & Bakery The restaurant is known for its sandwiches, homemade bread, salads and brick-oven pizzas, but Hawthorn has added something new: a dozen breakfast items, as well as bakery goods, available Wednesday through Sunday.

The options: You can eat inside the dining room at 50% capacity, sit in the outdoor patio or order takeout (curbside pickup if preferred). We took our food home, and it was still warm and fresh.

  Breakfast menu: Hawthorn offers four breakfast sandwiches, a handful of toast and egg dishes, yogurt and granola and items off the bakery and bread list, like quiche and croissants. Most are easy items to grab if you’re on the go.

Hawthorn Bistro & Bakery adds some new items for a weekend brunch-out. Image via Tallahassee Table.

Our experience: Our Classic breakfast sandwich was excellent, two eggs (your choice), bacon, sliced tomatoes, and havarti cheese packed high into a flaky croissant (milk bread and brioche also available). We also picked the Eggs in a Basket Plate with medium-cooked eggs which we paired with milk bread toast (eggs-in-a-hole style), fingerling potatoes, sliced oranges and chopped green apples, and bacon (house turkey sausage available).

Don’t miss: Hawthorn’s staples include two types of quiche — their farm quiche and our choice, the seasonal selection, which changes daily. The quiche here is fantastic, creamy and rich, with tomatoes, caramelized onions from the restaurant’s own Liberty Farms, bacon and cheddar. We also took home a pain au chocolat. Who can resist a chocolate croissant, even at 8 a.m.? 

The deets:

Hours: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; 8 a.m.to 9 p.m. Friday to Sunday.

Menu availability: Bakery menu all day to closing; breakfast 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Wednesday to Sunday; lunch and bistro menu 11 to 6 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday to Sunday; dinner and pizza 4 to 9 p.m. Friday to Sunday; online ordering for delivery weekends only from 4 to 8:30 p.m. Takeout available any time.

GPS: 1307 N. Monroe Street

Phone: 850-354-8275

Via Rochelle Koff.

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

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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.
Email: Peter@FloridaPolitics.com
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

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