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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 10.15.20

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

Good Thursday morning.

🔥 — Please read my op-ed in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, “Why no outrage from Gov. Ron DeSantis about planned violence against fellow Governors?

🔍 — Strong turnout by Florida Democrats predictably should produce good news for Joe Biden on Election Day. And a new poll suggests even if Republicans outperform Democrats at the polls, the former Vice President maintains the Sunshine State edge.

All signs point to Joe Biden holding on for a win in Florida. But anything could happen. Image via AP.

A Clearview Research poll, shared exclusively with Florida Politics, shows Biden leading in Florida using three different models. About 47% likely Florida voters plan to vote for Biden and just 40% favor Donald Trump. That’s based on a “neutral” turnout model predicting Republicans and Democrats come out with even numbers.

But Clearview Research President Steve Vancore also wanted to know what a good night for either side looks like. He found even if Republicans make up 2% more of the voting pool than Democrats, Biden leads 46% to Trump’s 41% That’s an especially vital finding since that’s exactly what happened in Florida both in 2016, when Trump beat Hillary Clinton here 49% to 48%.

Of course, it’s 2020 and anything can change. “This is not a prediction and is not me saying Biden is going to win this state,” Vancore said. “This is me saying right now Biden is winning the state.” That’s because no-party-affiliation voters favor the Democrat.

That in and of itself rather undercuts one line of hope for Trump supporters, that there remain “shy” Trump voters unwilling to say they back the President. Many credit Trump defying polls four years ago to such poll-wary voters. But Vancore sees little evidence this year.

“There is very scant data to suggest large numbers of Republicans or Democrats are shy or lie to the degree it would impact a poll,” Vancore said.

For one thing, roughly the same number of Democrats and Republicans hung up on pollsters. That suggests as many Republicans are shy about casting Biden votes as Democrats crossing the aisle for Trump.

😂 — “‘West Wing’ reunites cast with a mission: get out the vote” — While “The West Wing” creator Aaron Sorkin was gratified to bring an episode of the drama series to life on the stage, he’d rather discuss the bigger return he wants to see. “We’re just trying to push fans of ‘The West Wing’ to the polls,” Sorkin said.

‘West Wing’ creator Aaron Sorkin says the main goal is to get fans to the polls.

The reenacted “Hartsfield’s Landing,” from season three of the acclaimed White House saga, is the centerpiece of an HBO Max voting special. In the episode, Martin Sheen’s President Josiah “Jed” Bartlet faces staffers Sam and Toby in chess games, echoing the test of Bartlet’s strategic skills in a clash with China. Meanwhile, deputy chief of staff Josh is preoccupied with a primary election outcome in a bellwether New England town.

🍷 — U.S. Rep. Al Lawson and Enterprise Florida CEO Jamal Sowell and Silk Road Wines owners Yanick Arakelov and Barry Greer are hosting an introductory tasting of wines from the Republic of Georgia. The guest of honor: Deputy Chief of Mission Giorgi Tsikolia from the Embassy of the Republic of Georgia.

Some believe Georgia to be the birthplace of wine. Fact or fantasy, the wine tasting is part of an effort to strengthen the U.S.-Georgia strategic partnership. Lawson is a new member of the Congressional Georgian Caucus and looks forward to improving business ties with the nation. As does Arakelov, who was born in Georgia and moved to the United States as a teenager before serving in the U.S. Army and doing a tour in Afghanistan.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

Tweet, tweet:

@RealDonaldTrump: So terrible that Facebook and Twitter took down the story of “Smoking Gun” emails related to Sleepy Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, in the @nypost. It is only the beginning for them. There is nothing worse than a corrupt politician. REPEAL SECTION 230!!!

@EricBohlert: Trump: the press is the enemy of the people! NBC: we’ll clear our prime-time schedule for you! sums up the Trump era perfectly

@KylePope: I’m reminded of Chris Wallace bemoaning the fact that Trump’s shouting meant the American people didn’t get the benefit of hearing from both candidates. @NBCNews apparently has no such view. This is a craven ratings stunt, caving to the Trumpian impulses the network helped hone.

@SenRickScott: This is outrageous. @Twitter and Big Tech companies are trying to rig this election for Joe Biden and the Democrats. They don’t want the American people to know the truth!

@Vermontgmg: This fake Biden-Burisma scandal today might actually be a fascinating example of the FBI learning an important lesson from 2016: They appear to have avoided stumbling back into the mistakes of the [Anthony] Weiner laptop

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:

— DAYS UNTIL —

NBA free agency (tentative) — 3; Florida Chamber’s Future of Florida Forum — 5; HBO debuts 2000 presidential election doc ‘537 Votes’ — 6; third presidential debate (tentative) at Belmont — 7; “The Empty Man” premieres — 8; 2020 General Election — 19; NBA 2020-21 training camp — 26; FITCon Policy Conference begins — 28; The Masters begins — 28; NBA draft — 34; Pixar’s “Soul” premieres — 36; College basketball season slated to begin — 41; NBA 2020-21 opening night — 48; Florida Automated Vehicles Summit — 48; “Death on the Nile” premieres — 63; “Wonder Woman 1984” rescheduled premiere — 71; Greyhound racing ends in Florida — 77; Super Bowl LV in Tampa — 115; “A Quiet Place Part II” rescheduled premiere — 125; “Black Widow” rescheduled premiere — 140; “No Time to Die” premieres (rescheduled) — 169; “Top Gun: Maverick” rescheduled premiere — 260; Disney’s “Shang Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings” premieres — 267; new start date for 2021 Olympics — 281; “Jungle Cruise” premieres — 289; Disney’s “Eternals” premieres — 386; “Spider-Man Far From Home” sequel premieres — 389; Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” premieres — 421; “Thor: Love and Thunder” premieres — 485; “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” premieres — 538; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” sequel premieres — 719; Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” premieres — TBD.

— THE MODELS —

To get a reasonable idea of how the presidential race is playing out, state polling is the way to go — particularly in battleground states like Florida. Some outlets offer a poll of polls, gauging how 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 Wednesday, the CNN average has Biden staying 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.

FiveThirtyEight.com: As of Wednesday, Biden is now at an 87 in 100 chance of winning compared to Trump, who remains at a 13 in 100 shot. FiveThirtyEight also ranked individual states by the likelihood of delivering a decisive vote for the winning candidate in the Electoral College: Pennsylvania leads with 25.9%, while Florida is second with 14.3%. Wisconsin dropped to 13.5 % Other states include Michigan (11.7%), Minnesota (5.6%), North Carolina (5.3%). Arizona (4.7%) and Nevada (3.1%).

All indications put Joe Biden in the lead. Image via AP. 

PredictIt: As of Wednesday, the PredictIt trading market has Biden rising to $0.66 a share, with Trump sliding a penny to $0.39.

POLITICO: Florida is the tossup to end all tossups. Trump won it by 1.2 points. Obama won it by 2.8 points and 0.9 points in 2008 and 2012, respectively. Republicans are on something of a statewide winning streak over the past few years, but Biden has made inroads among the all-important senior vote.

Real Clear Politics: As of Wednesday, the RCP average of polling top battleground states has Biden leading Trump 51.4% to 42.2%. The RCP average now has Biden averaging +9.2 points ahead.

The Economist: As of Wednesday, their model is still predicting 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 better than 9 in 10 (92%) versus Trump with less than 1 in 10 (8%). 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).

— TOWN HALL NIGHT IN AMERICA —

Instead of a head-to-head debate, Trump and Biden are holding dueling town halls tonight.

If that sounds like a snoozer, MyBookie has a few prop betting lines that could make it interesting.

The betting site released odds on just about everything one can imagine.

There are several issues props — How many times will Biden say COVID? The over/under is at 4.5. Will any voter ask Trump about court-packing? Yes is currently favored at -150.

There’s also no shortage of “prop props,” if you will, many of them to do with the candidates’ attire. There are betting lines for striped ties, solid ties, tie colors and pocket squares.

Dueling town halls provide a lot of betting action.

For the curious, expect Biden to show up wearing a striped or spotted blue tie with a visible pocket square. For Trump, the safe money is on a solid red tie with no pocket square.

MyBookie also has betting lines for the main event on Nov. 3. As of now, oddsmakers see Biden as a safe bet with -160 odds to win the electoral college, or an implied probability of 61.5%. Biden is also favored in Florida with -140 odds.

But chances are bettors will have to wait a while after Election Day to collect — the odds of an Election Night concession speech are currently +400, with the safest bet being sometime after Nov. 13.

— PRESIDENTIAL —

With town hall and rallies, Donald Trump campaign has a busy day in South Florida on Thursday” via Skylar Swisher of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The Trump campaign is making a full-court press in South Florida on Thursday, starting with campaign rallies hosted by Vice President Mike Pence and ending with a nationally televised town hall meeting with the President. Trump will take questions from Florida voters during a one-hour town hall at the Pérez Art Museum that will air at 8 p.m. on NBC. The event will take place outdoors and will be moderated by Savannah Guthrie.

‘He’s just so angry all the time’: Trump hemorrhaging support among suburban women” via Tim Alberta of POLITICO — It’s hard to overstate just how badly Trump is performing with this crucial demographic. Over the past several weeks, a raft of internal polls have produced numbers that political professionals here are struggling to comprehend. In Oakland County, the second biggest voting area in the state, Democratic polling shows Biden leading Trump by 27 points; Republicans pushed back with a survey showing Trump down only 18 points. Even voters who describe themselves as single-issue, pro-life Republicans have said they’ve given up on Trump.

‘He’s just so angry all the time’: Donald Trump is hemorrhaging support among white suburban women. Image via Getty.

Joe Biden campaign denies meeting with Burisma official for son” via Nour Al Ali of Bloomberg — The Biden campaign on Wednesday denied a New York Post report that said the former Vice President met with a senior official from a Ukrainian energy firm that was at the center of a controversy over the dismissal of a prosecutor investigating the company. “We have reviewed Joe Biden’s official schedules from the time and no meeting, as alleged by the New York Post, ever took place,” campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement. The newspaper offered no proof the meeting took place, but cited unverified emails it said it was given by surrogates of Trump.

St. Pete Polls survey: Biden up by 2 in Florida” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The latest poll from St. Pete Polls shows Biden holding a 2-point lead over Trump in Florida. The spread, Biden with 49% and Trump with 47%, is within the poll’s margin of error. Yet it continues the strong consensus of polls over recent weeks that have mostly shown Biden leading in the Sunshine State by narrow margins. The previous St. Pete Polls survey, taken in September, had Biden up 50%-47%. This poll, commissioned by and paid for AARP Florida, was conducted through automated phone calls to 2,215 likely Florida voters Sunday and Monday, with a margin of error of just over 2 percentage points.

Donald Trump Jr. to make swing through Florida — Trump Jr. will be in Florida Friday and Saturday to host three “Make America Great Again” events and attend a Florida Trucking Association rally. The first MAGA event begins at 3 p.m. Eastern time, Quaker Steak and Lube, Clearwater. Doors open at 1:30 p.m. Media requests available here submitted no later than Thursday. 3 p.m. The second MAGA event begins at 6 p.m. Eastern time, Hilton Palm Beach Airport, West Palm Beach. Doors open at 5 p.m. Media requests available here submitted no later than Thursday, 6 p.m. Saturday’s Florida trucking Association rally begins at 10 a.m. Eastern time. For more details, contact alix@floridatrucking.org. The Saturday MAGA event begins at 3 p.m. Eastern time, 2A Ranch, Ormond Beach. Media requests available here submitted no later than Friday, 3 p.m. Eastern time.

Donald Trump Jr. is spending the weekend holding rallies in Florida. Image via AP.

Jill Biden set to visit Florida this week” via Tampa Bay 10 staff reports — As presidential campaigning continues, it seems like the attention on our battleground state is not letting up. Following an appearance from the Democratic presidential nominee himself, Biden‘s wife Dr. Jill Biden will make a few stops in Central Florida this week. The Biden campaign says she will be in the state on Friday as she makes several stops, but did not yet share exactly where she will be and at what times. Jill Biden’s visit comes at a time where it appears getting Florida voters’ attention is key. As of Oct. 14, just over 1.9 million mail-in ballots have already been submitted in the state. 

The macho appeal of Trump” via Jennifer Medina of The New York Times — Men are the core of Trump’s base. In polling, gender gaps exist in nearly every demographic: among white voters, among senior citizens, among voters without a college degree, men are far more likely than women to support his reelection. And little of that support has shifted in the days since Trump announced he had tested positive for the coronavirus. Polls suggest that this presidential election could result in the largest gender gap since the passage of the 19th Amendment a century ago.

Trump’s Spanish-media adviser warns Dems: Electoral shift is coming” via John Loftus of the National Review — In the 2012 election, Barack Obama won 71% of the Hispanic vote, helping him seal victory over Mitt Romney. Democrats and the media subsequently predicted that Obama’s capture of Hispanics — particularly his support among Cubans in Florida — defined a clear future for the party. In such data points, Giancarlo Sopo, the director of rapid response for Spanish Language Media at Trump’s reelection campaign, sees another electoral shift underway. While the President continues to fall behind Biden in battleground Florida polls — where the Cuban vote is most crucial — Sopo nevertheless maintains this is a shift that will “outlive Joe Biden’s campaign.”

Roots and issues reveal the real Latino vote. In Tampa Bay, it has many parts.” via Juan Carlos Chavez of the Tampa Bay Times — The race to win Florida is close, so carrying any bloc of voters could help push either presidential candidate over the top. That’s why the campaigns of Trump and Biden are targeting the state’s Latinos, a group that has grown by more than 8 percent since the 2016 elections, and now accounts for one in five of Florida’s eligible voters, according to a study. But the candidates can’t count on Latinos to vote as a bloc. While polls vary widely on who they favor, a survey last month showed an even split in Florida between Trump and Biden at 48 percent while another gave the Democrat the edge in the state at 58 percent to 32 percent.

His name is on a museum hosting Trump — but he’s among Cuban Americans helping Biden” via David Smiley and Rene Rodriguez of the Miami Herald — Miami developer Jorge Pérez, the namesake of the art museum hosting Trump Thursday night for a televised town hall, is part of a bipartisan group of prominent Cuban Americans in Miami working to lift Biden in Florida. A Democrat who has developed Trump-branded condo towers and in the past referred to the President as a friend, Pérez told the Miami Herald Wednesday that he’s been offended by Republicans’ efforts to brand the Democratic nominee as a socialist, a tactic that has helped Trump improve his numbers considerably over 2016 with South Florida’s Hispanic voters.

Miami developer Jorge Pérez may have his name on the venue hosting Donald Trump, but he is working to elect Joe Biden.

After Trump family went maskless at debate, Miami’s Arsht Center demanded crackdown” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — A week before Miami’s Arsht Center was set to host the country’s second presidential debate during the coronavirus pandemic with two candidates in their 70s, circumstances turned even more unsettling. Trump contracted COVID-19 himself, and, a week earlier, his family had refused to wear masks while sitting in the front row of the first debate in Cleveland. While the Democratic nominee’s wife, Jill Biden, wore a mask on stage to greet her husband after the event, First Lady Melania Trump did not. She also later tested positive for COVID-19.

Anti-Trump Lincoln Project raised $39.4 million in third quarter” via Maria Arias of Axios — The Lincoln Project, a group of anti-Trump Republicans that has produced a number of the election cycle’s most viral political attack ads, raised $39.4 million from July through September, according to Federal Election Commission records. The group run by Republicans and ex-Republicans has been growing its fundraising exponentially, shattering the $16.8 million record it set in the second quarter of 2020. It has since won over many more Democratic donors with deep pockets, while still receiving a large percentage of its total fundraising from donations under $200. The Lincoln Project’s Q3 haul is more than double the $19 million that the group raised in the previous six months.

Lincoln Project establishes voter-suppression reporting site” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — As fears loom and early reports emerge of potential voter suppression and intimidation, The Lincoln Project has set up a one-stop website to crowdsource voters’ complaints and concerns and to create a resource for election watchdog probes. The organization of prominent ‘Never Trump’ Republicans and their allies recently has been moving beyond its initial mission of advertising and messaging to condemn Trump and support Biden. It’s newest effort, “See Something Say Something 2020,” addresses ongoing concerns among Democrats and others that Trump has been leading or at least encouraging voter suppression efforts ranging from intimidation to lack of voter access to ballot drop-off locations.

Massachusetts’ Republican Governor ‘cannot support Trump for President’” via Kathryn Krawczyk of The Week — Massachusetts’ Republican Governor is diverging from his party this election cycle. In a Wednesday statement, Gov. Charlie Baker declared through a spokesperson that he “cannot support Donald Trump for President” and will “leave the election analysis to the pundits.” Baker didn’t say whether he’d support Democratic nominee Biden in turn. Baker also didn’t vote for Trump in 2016, saying he cast a blank ballot for the presidency for the first time that year. He said he had previously decided he couldn’t support Trump “for a number of reasons,” but said Clinton had “believability issues.”

Massachusetts Republican Gov. Charlie Baker can’t bring himself to support Donald Trump. Image via AP.

Government worker in Florida who displayed Trump flag on truck gets unpaid suspension” via Garfield Hylton of the Orlando Sentinel — A Palm Beach County employee is serving a five-day suspension for displaying a Trump flag during work hours, according to news reports. Randall Williams, a construction project specialist in the county’s engineering department, on October 7, flew the blue flag on the driver’s side window of his county truck, according to The Palm Beach Post. Laurent Lesage, an Acreage resident, noticed the flag while driving home last Thursday afternoon, noticed the yellow county license plate, snapped a photo and sent it to county commissioners. Williams was suspended for five days with no pay.

— NEW ADS —

Trump ad claims Biden lied about his son’s work in Ukraine — Trump 2020 is out with a new ad signal boosting a recent New York Post report that claims Biden “lied to the American people about never discussing his son Hunter’s foreign business deals.” The ad opens with a clip of Hunter Biden saying “I don’t think that there’s a lot of things that would have happened in my life if my last name wasn’t Biden.” It then goes on to allege the family connection helped Hunter strike a “deal with a Chinese-owned bank” and make “over $80,000 a month” from Burisma. “It’s not why Hunter Biden used his name to get these gigs, it’s why Joe Biden let him do it,” the ad says.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

Mike Bloomberg’s PAC hits Trump for ‘failure to protect Medicare and Social Security’ — Bloomberg’s Independence USA PAC is airing a new ad claiming Biden will protect Medicare and Social Security and Trump will slash them. “They call Social Security and Medicare entitlements. After a lifetime of hard work, you’ve earned them. But President Trump won’t protect them,” the ad says. “Trump has proposed $500 billion in Medicare cuts, a $4000 Age Tax for health care, and a tax scheme that raids the Social Security Trust Fund. President Trump is failing Florida seniors” The TV ad will run in West Palm Beach and Fort Myers markets on broadcast and cable.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

Republican Voters Against Trump launches Spanish-language TV ad — Republican Voters Against Trump is rerecording one of its most successful ads in Spanish and putting it on TV in Florida. RVAT’s ad features whistleblower Olivia Troye, Pence’s former Homeland Security Adviser and lead staffer on his COVID-19 task force. Based on her experience with the administration she will be voting for Biden. “There’s no one in a better position to explain to the Spanish-speaking community what’s at stake in this election than Olivia Troye,” RVAT strategic director Sarah Longwell said. “She’s a native Spanish speaker and has served with honor and distinction in the intelligence community and the White House. She knows who she’s speaking to and what she’s talking about.”

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

— VOTERS ARE VOTING —

Democrats in Florida have cast over 400,000 more early ballots than Republicans” via Oriana Gonzalez of Axios — Democrats have outvoted Republicans in Florida in vote-by-mail ballots by a margin of over 400,000 as of 11 a.m. on Wednesday, according to state election data. This is the first time Democrats have led over Republicans during this stage of an election, though states are expecting an unprecedented number of mail-in ballots due to the pandemic. Typically, Republicans are ahead by a slight margin in absentee ballot returns, according to Politico. Republican officials say they are confident they can catch up by Election Day.

Across the country, Democratic enthusiasm is propelling an enormous wave of early voting” via Amy Gardner and Elise Viebeck of The Washington Post — With less than three weeks to go before Nov. 3, roughly 15 million Americans have already voted in the fall election, reflecting an extraordinary level of participation despite barriers erected by the coronavirus pandemic and setting a trajectory that could result in the majority of voters casting ballots before Election Day for the first time in U.S. history. In Georgia this week, voters waited as long as 11 hours to cast their ballots on the first day of early voting. In North Carolina, nearly 1 in 5 of roughly 500,000 who have returned mail ballots so far did not vote in the last presidential election. In Michigan, more than 1 million people have already voted.

— 2020 — 

First on #FlaPol — “For Our Future Florida crosses 6 million voter contacts” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Progressive group For Our Future Florida has been texting and dialing voters around the clock in the lead-up to Election Day. With less than a week to go before early voting begins, the organization said it has made more than six million voter contacts this year, including four million calls and two million texts sent. “Our field team and digital organizers have done a tremendous job getting voters signed up for vote-by-mail and chasing down ballots to help build a lead for Biden heading into in-person voting on Monday,” communications director Blake Williams said Wednesday.

Of course, it does — “Florida leads nation in voter disenfranchisement, criminal justice group says” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida continues to lead the nation in the number of people unable to vote next month because of a felony conviction, despite the passage of a landmark 2018 constitutional amendment meant to restore their access to the ballot box. Nearly 900,000 Floridians with felony convictions are unable to vote because of a law signed by DeSantis last year, which required them to pay all court fees fines or restitution before voting, according to the study released by the Sentencing Project is a nonprofit that advocates for criminal justice reform.

FILE - In this Jan. 8, 2019, file photo, former felon Yolanda Wilcox, left, fills out a voter registration form as her best friend Gale Buswell looks on at the Supervisor of Elections office in Orlando, Fla. In a ruling Thursday, Tuesday, March 31, 2020, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declined to hear an appeal from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to limit the reach on Amendment 4, the ballot measure approved overwhelmingly by voters in 2018 that allowed felons to regain the right to vote. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

Despite the best efforts of activists, there are still nearly one million former felons in Florida who cannot vote. Image via AP.

Coronavirus isolated nursing home residents. Now it might keep them from voting.” via Nina A. Kohn of The Washington Post — More than 40 percent of coronavirus deaths are associated with long-term care facilities. Now, nursing home residents face yet another indignity: the prospect that they will be unable to vote in the presidential election. Some states that ordinarily send election staff to nursing homes are adapting their procedures to address concerns about infection control. Federal law requires nursing homes that accept Medicaid or Medicare to support residents in exercising their rights as citizens. And the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services this month put state regulators on notice that they must “ensure a resident’s right to vote is not impeded” during the pandemic.

The push for a $15 minimum wage in Florida was winning. Can it survive COVID-19?” via Steve Contorno and Helen Freund of the Tampa Bay Times — When the state locked down nursing homes this summer to block out the coronavirus, NiQwana Church was one of the few people her patients saw most days. “We had to be the ones who were there for them, to tell them everything is okay,” Church said. During the pandemic, when many businesses closed or sent employees to work from home, Church’s job at a Pinellas County nursing home was deemed essential. To Church, her pay, less than $15 an hour at the time, suggested she was anything but.

Anna Paulina Luna files FEC complaint against Twitter over missing verification badge” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Luna filed an official complaint against Twitter Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission arguing Twitter is unfairly favoring her opponent. Luna, a Republican, is running in Florida’s 13th Congressional District against incumbent Democrat Charlie Crist. For months, Luna has been trying to get Twitter to verify her account, a process that affords high-profile users the famed checkmark badge indicating they are a person of some particular public prominence. Twitter has thus far still not verified Luna’s account despite her claim that she has met all of the social media platform’s requirements.

First in Sunburn — Scott Franklin ad says Alan Cohn has a ‘radical agenda’ — Republican Scott Franklin is out with a new ad portraying his opponent in the CD 15 race as a radical. The spot says Democrat Alan Cohn wants to usher in “socialist health care” and “job-killing taxes on electricity, income, gas. He’d even ban gas-powered cars.” The ad also asserts Cohn would “defund our police” and brings in Polk Sheriff Grady Judd, who said: “Franklin would defend our communities not defund our police.” CD 15 covers Polk parts of Hillsborough, Polk and Lake counties and leans toward Republicans.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

Margaret Good expresses optimism on MSNBC’s Morning Joe” via Joe Henderson of Florida Politics — Good, who is trying to unseat Republican Vern Buchanan in Florida’s CD 16, appeared on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. She appeared with two other Democratic women congressional candidates — Hillary Scholten of Michigan and Dr. Christina Finello of Pennsylvania to speak on the state of their respective races. “Our polling has us statistically tied with our opponent,” Good said. “We are working hard to flip this seat and bring accountability to Washington.” Other polling has not been so optimistic for the challenger. A poll released two days ago by Data Targeting had Buchanan ahead 52%-37% with 9% undecided.

LCV Victory Fund bashes ‘corrupt Carlos Giménez’ in new CD 26 ad — LCV Victory Fund launched an ad in Florida’s 26th Congressional District claiming Miami-Dade Mayor and Republican nominee Carlos Giménez is corrupt. The Spanish-language ad says Giménez raised his own pay and gave a multimillion-dollar contract to a company with family ties while the county he leads was “crumbling” amid the coronavirus pandemic. LCV said the “Giménez Es Nocivo” is the first of two Spanish-language ads it will run in CD 26 under a $720,000 ad buy. The committee is backing Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell for reelection.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

New ad buys:

CD 7: Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy placed a $94K radio buy for ads running through Election Day. The buy brings her total ad spending for the election to $239K. Republican challenger Leo Valentin and the groups backing him have spent a combined $112K.

Stephanie Murphy’s latest ad buy puts her well ahead in ad spending compared to her Republican opponent.

CD 16: Democratic state Rep. Good spent $21K on cable ads running through Oct. 16. She has now spent $1.24M on ads. Her opponent, Republican U.S. Rep. Buchanan, has spent $979K.

CD 18: Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Mast bought $71K in broadcast and cable ads airing through Oct. 18. Democratic challenger Pam Keith spent $50K on broadcast and cable flight running through Oct. 19. Mast has now spent $1.01M on ads this cycle, while Keith has spent $630K.

— LEG. CAMPAIGNS —

AIF announces second wave of state legislative endorsements — The Associated Industries of Florida released a volley of endorsements for state legislative candidates Wednesday, adding one Senate candidate and 17 House candidates to its list. At the top is Democratic Rep. Tina Polsky, who is running in SD 29. In the House, the business group is backing Rep. Jennifer Webb and Anthony Sabatini as well as 15 non-incumbents. AIF President and CEO Tom Feeney said the candidates “will fight for the best interests of Florida’s employers and employees. Floridians looking to support individuals who are committed to helping our state’s businesses and economy rebound from the recent downturn can feel confident voting for these AIF-endorsed candidates.”

The Associated Industries of Florida is backing quite a varied group, including Jennifer Webb and Anthony Sabatini.

HOA managers issue bulk endorsement of state legislative candidates — The Chief Executive Officers of Management Companies, a group that represents more than 18,000 community association managers in more than 14,000 community associations, endorsed four dozen candidates for running for seats in the state Legislature. The endorsements include 38 Republicans and 10 Democrats, and 27 of the candidates are incumbents. CEOMC Executive Director and Lobbyist Mark Anderson said: “We are proud to endorse a bipartisan slate of candidates who have committed to ensure homeowners, their associations and the quality of life they offer are supported and protected.” In addition to the endorsement, each candidate will receive a $1,000 campaign contribution from CEOMC.

Trailblazing transgender Senate candidate dies before election” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — A transgender state Senate candidate in North Florida died Wednesday after a long battle with cancer, just weeks before the end of her historic run for office. Melina Rayna Svanhild Farley-Barratt of Trenton was the Democratic nominee in Senate District 5, a largely rural and deep-red sinecure in North Central Florida. Barratt was a familiar presence in the halls of the state Capitol in the 2020 Legislative Session, often willing to make arguments that flew in the face of the inevitable Republican consensus positions on one issue or another, undaunted by committee chairs struggling to pronounce her name. Barratt’s name will still be on the ballot, but county Democratic leaders will pick a replacement candidate.

Classy tweet:

 

Chris Sprowls says Patrick Henry is using ‘double talk’ to hide from his defund the police pledge” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Sprowls said a Democratic House candidate tried to employ doublespeak to evade his record on police funding. Former Rep. Henry slammed the Republican Party of Florida ads claiming he supported “defunding the police.” But Sprowls said the truth hurts. “Our candidates are telling the voters the truth — that many of their democratic opponents have signed pledges to support legislation that defunds the police,” Sprowls said. “I can understand why Democrat candidates would want to hide from that position or use words like ‘reinvestment’ or ‘reallocation’ but Floridians know that is just political double talk for a policy of defunding the police.”

Tracey Kagan up with TV, touting background, attacking Scott Plakon” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Kagan has launched two TV commercials, one touting her background and one trashing her opponent, Plakon. Kagan, whose campaign suddenly has come into some fresh money, in part through national Democratic fundraising efforts, announced she has made two multiweek television ad buys through Election Day. The commercials started running on cable outlets last week. The latest campaign finance filings show Kagan’s campaign and her independent political committee pulled in more than $67,000 in recent weeks, and she spent at least $25,000 on TV and another $70,000 on mailers and other print advertising.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

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To watch the ad, click on the image below:

Exclusive — “Poll shows Amber Mariano on track for reelection in HD 36” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A St. Pete Polls survey shows Rep. Mariano on track for reelection. The poll, commissioned by Florida Politics, found the Hudson Republican winning 54% of the vote to Democrat Daniel Endonino’s 39%. That gives her a lead outside pollsters’ 4.7% margin of error. More importantly, it shows her north of 50%, which if true leaves no path for Endonino to pull an upset. The Port Richey Democrat has been running since May last year. The poll of 427 likely voters was conducted on Oct. 13. While 7% of voters remain undecided, she’s short at the moment of the 58.7% of the vote she won in 2018 over Democrat Linda Jack.

Candidates vie to replace Ana Maria Rodriguez in key swing House seat” via Samantha J. Gross of the Miami Herald — Two state House newcomers pulled out of competitive primaries in August in hopes to replace Rep. Rodriguez in House District 105, a gerrymandered South Florida district that runs from Doral and Sweetwater on the western edge of Miami-Dade County across Collier County to Naples, with a bit of Broward County included. Sweetwater Commissioner David Borrero and Doral immigration attorney Maureen Porras will be competing for votes in District 105’s nearly evenly split swing district, with numbers at 32% Democrat, 32% Republican and 35% no party affiliation.

Nick Duran maintaining money advantage over Bruno Barreiro in HD 112” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Duran added nearly $28,000 in the newest House District 112 fundraising period, allowing him to retain his cash on hand advantage over Barreiro. Barreiro raised just $4,500 through his campaign from Sept. 19 to Oct. 2. But Barreiro loaned his political committee, Transparency in Government, $25,000 to slightly outpace the incumbent during the period. That small edge isn’t enough to cut into Duran’s large cash-on-hand advantage, however. As of Oct. 2, Duran holds more than $165,000 between his campaign account and his PC, Leadership for Miami-Dade. Barreiro is sitting on just under $47,000.

HD 120 Democrat Clint Barras continues General Election cash surge, adds another $86K” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Barras has now raised more than $200,000 for his House District 120 bid after he took in more than $86,000 in the latest two-week fundraising period alone. The newest reports submitted to the Division of Elections cover activity from Sept. 19-Oct. 2. Barras’ Republican opponent, Jim Mooney, raised nearly $46,000 during the same span. That falls around $40,000 short of the Democrat’s total. Mooney only came that close due to a $25,000 donation from the Florida House Republican Campaign Committee. More than half his two-week fundraising total came from that single check.

— DOWN BALLOT —

Endorsement alert — “Daniella Levine Cava is ready to lead Miami-Dade County as its next Mayor” via the Miami Herald editorial board — In advance of the August primary, the editorial board declared that, in the race for Miami-Dade County Mayor, Levine Cava was the best candidate to move this county forward. Two months later, as she faces challenger and Commission colleague Esteban “Steve” Bovo in a runoff, we’re even more persuaded that Levine Cava is the right choice. The next Mayor will not be taking the reins of a county where things are chugging along as usual. This extraordinary year, which has seen extraordinary pain and challenges, is also bringing extraordinary opportunity to build back better. Levine Cava brings a well-balanced combination of accomplishment, vision, compassion and practicality.

The Miami Herald editorial board gives the nod to Daniella Levine Cava.

— CORONA FLORIDA —

—“Florida coronavirus cases surpass 740,000; deaths among most in nation” via Chris Persaud of The Palm Beach Post 

Florida puts a positive spin on COVID-19 data, misleading the public on pandemic” via Mario Ariza of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Florida has obscured the true extent of its COVID-19 pandemic by using a misleading measure of positive cases to justify reopening schools and businesses, state data indicates. While Florida has publicized that its “positivity rate” has regularly fallen below 5%, other health organizations are publishing data that shows the rate may be dramatically higher. Independent experts, including Johns Hopkins University, consistently list Florida’s positivity rate at 10% or higher, twice the recommended level for widespread reopening.

Estimates of Florida’s positivity rate for COVID-19 is much higher than the official count. Image via AP.

Florida reports 2,883 new COVID-19 cases and 66 deaths” via Andrew Boryga of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Florida’s Department of Health on Wednesday reported 2,883 new cases of COVID-19 and 66 additional deaths. The state also reported a 5.42% positivity rate, the highest since DeSantis‘ Sept. 26 executive order easing Phase 3 restrictions. The latest positivity rate, which is calculated based on Tuesday’s test results, is higher than the most recent seven-day average of 4.94%. It is also significantly less than other tallies outside the state. Johns Hopkins University, which doesn’t exclude repeated results for the same individual, reported Florida’s positivity rate to be 10.4% based on Tuesday’s test results.

Florida’s prison population lowest in 15 years as intakes slow due to coronavirus” via Grace Toohey of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida’s prison population has dropped to a 15-year low in recent months, a dip likely only to be temporary and attributed to coronavirus restrictions that have halted or delayed the processing of criminal cases and the intake of new prisoners. As of last month, the Florida Department of Corrections recorded a population of 84,601 incarcerated people across its vast network of prisons, an almost 12% decrease from the prison population in 2019. The number of inmates has not been this low since 2005, the last year the prison system reported holding fewer than 88,000 people in custody.

— CORONA LOCAL —

Florida Gators suspend football activities after COVID-19 spike, 19 positive cases” via Matt Baker of the Tampa Bay Times — The Florida Gators have suspended all football activities because of a spike in positive COVID-19 tests, UF athletic director Scott Stricklin announced Tuesday afternoon. In test results available as of Monday, UF reported five new positives in the football program in the past week, according to its weekly update. By late Tuesday afternoon, that number was up to 19, as first reported by The Alligator and confirmed by the Tampa Bay Times. Stricklin said in a statement that because of the “increase in positive COVID tests among players this week” team activities were being paused out of an “abundance of caution.”

A spike in COVID-19 has blocked the Florida Gators football program. Image via WCJB.

Sarasota anti-mask parents raise $11,000 for lawsuit against schools” via Ryan McKinnon of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — People opposed to the Sarasota County School Board’s mask policy have raised more than $11,000 to hire an attorney as the group’s organizers prepare to sue the district over the issue. Over a few weeks, mask opponents have rallied, with parents showing up at board meetings and speaking during public comment periods against the district’s mandatory face coverings. A GoFundMe campaign promising to pay the entire cost of a lawsuit brought in $11,275. “We are taking action to have the mask mandate decision reversed immediately for the physical, emotional and social well-being of our children. The decisions made by the board are not in the best interest of the people they serve,” the petition states.

Winter Haven City Commission drops mask mandate in wake of Ron DeSantis executive order” via Kevin Bouffard of The Lakeland Ledger — This is how the city of Winter Haven’s controversial mask mandate law will end: not with a bang, but a whimper. The City Commission at its Monday night meeting declined to extend the mask law for the third time and opted for a resolution strongly encouraging wearing masks in publicly accessible buildings. Mayor Pro Tem Nat Birdsong voted with the other commissioners in favor of the resolution, but he said he would have preferred continuing the mandate law. The commission passed the first emergency mask ordinance at its July 13 meeting after a countywide and statewide spike in COVID-19 infections. It expired after 30 days and carried a noncriminal fine of up to $150 per violation.

Tampa Bay schools exceed 1,000 coronavirus cases since classes started” via Marlene Sokol of the Tampa Bay Times — More than 1,000 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed among students and staff in the Hernando, Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas county schools since students returned in late August. Hillsborough County, which operates the largest school district by far, has recorded 516 cases since Aug. 31, when students there returned to class. There have been 225 cases in Pasco and 51 in Hernando. Pinellas has seen 211 cases, including some in private schools that were reported to the Tampa Bay Times, independently of the district lists. The cases, which are all self-reported, include some students who are in virtual school.

All the prayers — “John Thrasher, wife Jean, remain in isolation; positive COVID-19 numbers drop at Florida State” via Byron Dobson of the Tallahassee Democrat — Florida State University President John Thrasher and his wife, Jean, remain in isolation at home, following his disclosure last Tuesday both had tested positive for COVID-19. Jean learned of her positive diagnosis on Oct. 5 after a recent stay in the hospital and a local rehabilitation facility for an unrelated condition. Thrasher, who tested positive Oct. 6, has continued to conduct university business at home. Meanwhile, the positivity rate for COVID-19 testing at Florida State dropped to 1.14 % last week, according to figures posted Monday on the university’s dashboard.

Godspeed to FSU President John Thrasher and his wife Jean, who both tested positive for COVID-19. Image via the Tallahassee Democrat.

A college football icon tests positive while the NCAA suffers yet another game postponement.” via Alan Blinder of The New York Times — Nick Saban, the University of Alabama’s coach and one of the most powerful figures in college sports, said Wednesday that he had tested positive for the coronavirus. Saban’s announcement came as the Southeastern Conference postponed a game because of the coronavirus, unnerving fans and players less than a month into the season that sustains an economic and cultural juggernaut throughout the South. Saban said in a statement that he was asymptomatic and staying at his home in Tuscaloosa. Alabama’s athletic director, Greg Byrne, also tested positive, the university said.

FGCU offers asymptomatic testing to Eagle Hall residents after rise in COVID-19 cases” via Pamela McCabe of the Fort Myers News-Press — A rise in positive COVID-19 cases in a dorm at Florida Gulf Coast University has led officials to offer asymptomatic testing to residents. Testing began Friday afternoon at Eagle Hall, one of five residential buildings that make up the South Lake Village housing community on campus. As of Friday, the university was aware of 10 students who had tested positive in Eagle Hall. All of those students were in isolation. Another 19 residents were quarantined due to having close contact with people who had tested positive. “We are asking all Eagle Hall students to be tested and are pleased with the response,” said Susan Evans, vice president and chief of staff for the Fort Myers university.

Fun Spot America cited 3 times by Orange County for visitors who aren’t wearing masks” via Gabrielle Russon of the Orlando Sentinel — Fun Spot America has been cited three times by Orange County’s coronavirus strike team for not enforcing the requirement that visitors wear masks. The small amusement park off International Drive was not in compliance with the Orange County’s mask rules during three official visits in August and September. People also weren’t wearing masks on an unofficial visit in July either, according to the Orange County government. The county’s business compliance team plans to make another unannounced visit “fairly soon” to the park after finding the continuing problems from the Sept. 25 visit, said Tim Boldig, the county’s interim code-enforcement chief.

— CORONA NATION —

‘Hunker down’: The fall COVID-19 surge is here” via Christina Maxouris and Holly Yan of CNN — As predicted, the US is now grappling with a new COVID-19 surge, one that could overwhelm hospitals, kill thousands of Americans a day by January and leave even young survivors with long-term complications. “We went down to the lowest point lately in early September, around 30,000-35,000 new cases a day. Now we’re back up to 50,000 new cases a day. And it’s going to continue to rise,” Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine said Tuesday. “This is the fall/winter surge that everyone was worried about. And now it’s happening. And it’s happening especially in the northern Midwest, and the Northern states are getting hit very hard — Wisconsin, Montana, the Dakotas. But it’s going to be nationally soon enough.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci reviews Trump’s virus test results and says he is past the point of infectiousness.” via Apoorva Mandavilli of The New York Times — Trump is past the point of infectiousness and does not pose a safety risk to others, according to Dr. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, who has reviewed data from Trump’s coronavirus tests. Combined with the fact that Trump is more than 10 days out from the onset of symptoms, Dr. Fauci said in an interview Wednesday: “We feel confident that we can say with a high degree of confidence that he is not transmissible.”

Barron Trump also had virus but has now tested negative, First Lady says” via Colby Itkowitz of The Washington Post — In an essay posted on the White House website, first lady Melania Trump revealed that teenage son Barron Trump had also tested positive for the coronavirus when she, the President and many of his closest advisers contracted the virus a few weeks ago. She wrote that her son was asymptomatic, while she experienced “body aches, a cough and headaches, and felt extremely tired most of the time.” They have both now tested negative, she said.

Both Melania and Barron Trump have tested positive for COVID-19. Image via AP.

Trump’s COVID-19 task force is now openly rebelling against him” via Erin Banco, Asawin Suebsaeng and Sam Stein of The Daily Beast — Standing outside one of the main buildings on the University of Connecticut campus last week, Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, let out an exasperated sigh through her peach-colored face mask. Birx had been traveling almost nonstop since June, working with local and state officials to develop area-specific strategies for slowing the spread of the highly contagious virus. Birx was peppered there with questions about the mixed messaging stemming from the White House.

— CORONA ECONOMICS — 

Stimulus chances dying as Steven Mnuchin cites closeness of election” via Billy House of Bloomberg — The chances of Congress passing a preelection stimulus are all but gone, as Mnuchin on Wednesday blamed politics for undermining the monthslong negotiations. “At this point getting something done before the election and executing on that would be difficult, just given where we are in the level of details,” Mnuchin said at the Milken Institute Global Conference. With a deal out of reach, the two sides in the talks faulted each other for the breakdown.

With the election bearing down, Steven Mnuchin has little hope a stimulus package will be forthcoming.

‘Staggering’ need: COVID-19 has led to rising levels in food insecurity across the U.S.” via Grace Segers of CBS News — Black and Hispanic families are seeing particularly dramatic rises in food insecurity. In 2018, food insecurity among Black adults was more than three times that among White adults. That pattern has largely held in the era of COVID-19, with food insecurity at 7% among White respondents and 20% among Black respondents. The rate is also higher among Latino respondents than their White and Asian counterparts, with 19% of Latino adults overall reporting that the families often do not have enough to eat.

What Jason Pizzo is reading — “Florida’s unemployment system needs a robust fix” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — The overhaul Democrats proposed last week to the state’s broken unemployment system may be dead on arrival in the Republican-controlled Legislature, but there is room to compromise on the details. And as the coronavirus pandemic exposed, both Republicans and Democrats have a self-interest in creating a stronger economic safety net in Florida. The Democratic measure would nearly double the amount of weekly benefits and the number of weeks that benefits would be available. Maximum weekly benefits would rise to $500 per week, from 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.

— MORE CORONA — 

Europe overtakes U.S. in new cases of COVID-19” via Jason Douglas, Stacy Meichtry and Andrew Barnett of The Wall Street Journal — Europe has reached a tipping point in its fight to contain a second wave of the coronavirus, overtaking the U.S. in a key metric that tracks the virus’s spread. Months after authorities flattened the curve of coronavirus infections across Europe by imposing some of the Western world’s toughest restrictions on millions of people, the virus has crept back onto the continent. Hospitals are filling up. Bars and cafes are closing down. On Wednesday, France declared a state of emergency and announced a nightly curfew for the Paris region and eight other metropolitan areas across the country.

CDC Chief: Thanksgiving gatherings could send COVID-19 cases soaring” via Jamie Ross of The Daily Beast — Public-health experts have found evidence that small household gatherings are starting to drive the growth in the U.S. COVID-19 cases and have warned that Thanksgiving could send the number of cases spiraling. CDC Director Robert Redfield held a call with the nation’s Governors on Tuesday. CNN obtained audio of the chat, in which Redfield said: “What we’re seeing as the increasing threat right now is actually acquisition of infection through small household gatherings … Particularly with Thanksgiving coming up, we think it’s really important to stress the vigilance of these continued mitigation steps in the household setting.”

CDC Director Robert Redfield says Thanksgiving will be particularly brutal in the spread of coronavirus.

Is there a safe way to be home for the Holidays?” via Joe Pinsker of The Atlantic — This year, the holiday season is laced with danger. Individually, Americans have been tempted over and over during the pandemic to violate public-health experts’ recommendations, whether by the celebration of a family milestone or just a drink at a bar. The dangers of the holidays will keep some people from traveling home. The overwhelming majority of Thanksgiving travel is by car, and drivers have hardly been deterred by the coronavirus this year. Whether or not those patterns hold for the upcoming holiday season, it seems safe to say that tens of millions of people will be spending extended periods of time indoors with friends and family who live outside their household.

Airbnb combats surge in party houses after COVID-19 shuts nightclubs” via Olivia Carville and Jacqueline Davalos of Bloomberg — When the coronavirus pandemic shut down bars and concert halls in March, a new phenomenon was born: the vacation-rental nightclub. Professional party promoters started scanning Airbnb, Vrbo and other short-term rental sites for mansions and luxury condos for hire. Tickets were going for $90 on Eventbrite and TikTok for soirees with bottle service and DJs. “People were looking to escape from their own homes and came into our tiny neighborhood to party all day, every day,” says Kristen Robinson Doe, a resident of a quiet suburban Dallas neighborhood where a party pad was being rented out for more than $1,000 a night.

— STATEWIDE —

Enterprise Florida plans virtual expo” via The News Service of Florida — The three-day, “first-ever” Florida International Trade Expo in March is expected to showcase Florida export products and services. Enterprise Florida said that as national and global trade organizations have transitioned to virtual trade shows since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, no U.S. state has held an exclusive event highlighting its businesses. “Earlier this year we announced the new virtual trade show and business matchmaking grant programs,” Enterprise Florida President and CEO Jamal Sowell said. “Launching the Florida International Trade Expo is the next step in making sure the state’s small businesses continue to recover and grow.”

No more meet-and-greets: Enterprise Florida’s next expo will be virtual.

Opponents question information on toll roads” via Jim Turner of The News Service of Florida — Critics of three controversial toll-road projects planned to run through rural areas of Florida contend transportation officials aren’t providing a full picture of the opposition. But as members of task forces working on the projects are set to hold final meetings next week, the state Department of Transportation maintains the process remains transparent. With reports on the projects due to the Governor in mid-November, members of the opposition “No Roads to Ruin” coalition said that the Department of Transportation staff failed to provide members of the three different task forces with direct “for” and “against” breakdowns of public sentiment.

Regulators weigh property insurance rate hikes” via The News Service of Florida — State insurance regulators delved into a request by Centauri Specialty Insurance Co. to raise residential property-insurance rates by an overall average of 31.9%. Centauri is one of a series of property insurers that have sought hefty rate increases, pointing to issues such as losses from water-damage claims and increased expenses for reinsurance, which is essentially insurance for insurers. A panel from the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation held an hourlong hearing on Centauri’s request, with the agency expected to decide whether to approve the proposal in the coming weeks. Rate hikes would vary for customers based on factors such as locations and types of homes.

Step Up for Students awards 1 millionth school choice scholarship” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Step Up For Students announced Wednesday that it’s awarded 1 million school choice scholarships. “This milestone is another powerful sign of how public education is becoming more diverse, more equitable, and more tailored to the needs of individual students,” said Doug Tuthill, president of Step Up For Students. The nonprofit, founded in 2002, administers five of the state’s six K-12 scholarship programs and serves more than 140,000 students a year, most of them low-income or with special needs. The scholarships they administer, including the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship and Family Empowerment Scholarship, allow parents to send their children to private schools.

— LOCAL NOTES —

Prominent lobbyist didn’t disclose calls to Orlando airport board members, violating policy” via Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel — In early July, a lobbyist at a firm run by a top fundraiser to DeSantis called four of the Governor-appointed members on the board that runs Orlando International Airport on behalf of a client. Under the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority’s lobbying policies, lobbyists are supposed to publicly disclose meetings with board members within seven days. The lobbyist didn’t reveal those phone calls until nearly three months later after the Orlando Sentinel began asking questions and requesting records related to the firm’s work at the airport.

What Jeff Brandes is reading — “USF consolidation is hurting St. Petersburg campus, Pinellas leaders say” via Divya Kumar of the Tampa Bay Times — St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman has complained in recent days of declining enrollment, a lack of access for minority students, efforts to undermine the campus’ independence through the budget process, even the school’s new name. Since USF began operating as a consolidated university on July 1 after an extensive approval process, the university has been referring to its St. Petersburg location as a “campus.” Under state law, the Mayor contends, it should be known as USF St. Petersburg. The new moniker shows a lack of respect, he said.

USF consolidation plans are not sitting well with Pinellas County leaders.

What Chris Latvala is reading — “Jordan Belliveau’s mother sentenced to 50 years in 2-year-old’s murder” via Jack Evans of the Tampa Bay Times — Charisse Stinson accepted a plea deal for killing Belliveau, her 2-year-old son. Stinson was charged with first-degree murder and making a false report to law enforcement. On Tuesday, she pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of second-degree murder and to the false report charge. In addition to prison, she’ll owe more than $28,000 in court and investigative costs. “For a while, I was so angry and bitter before I came to jail,” she told the court. “And now I’m free, mentally. I may not be free physically. But I want my mom to know that I am free mentally.”

FSU coach Mike Norvell’s pandemic pay reduction among biggest in college football” via Curt Weiler of the Tallahassee Democrat — The coronavirus pandemic has impacted lots of people financially. The college football world hasn’t been exempt from this. USA Today released its annual database of college football head coach salaries Wednesday. This year’s list, which features the 107 public FBS universities that are obligated to provide these figures, takes on a different tone. In addition to listing each coach’s salary, this year’s list breaks down how much of a reduction each pay each coach took due to the impact of the pandemic on the athletic department.

— TOP OPINION —

Early voting has brought more ominous signs for Election Day. States can still fix things.” via The Washington Post editorial board — This week brought more ominous signs for Election Day. More than 11 million people have already voted, which is wonderful. But for too many of them, voting was an ordeal, marked by long waits and faulty systems. That should be unacceptable in a ­democracy. On Monday, the first day of early in-person voting in Georgia, a state where polls show competitive presidential and U.S. Senate races, people had to wait for as long as 10 hours in seemingly endless lines. Georgia’s secretary of state reported that a record 128,590 people voted early on Monday. This is a positive sign for democracy, but voters should not be punished for their enthusiasm.

— OPINIONS —

Biden is not out of the woods” via Thomas B. Edsall of The New York Times — With 20 days to go, most signals favor Biden, but the chain of events that delivered an Electoral College victory to Trump in 2016 still hovers in the rearview mirror. One thing continues to stand out, even in the polls these pieces describe, which is that white Democrats, who remain the majority in their party, have been moving leftward for nearly a decade, particularly on racial and moral issues, and that shift has pushed the party further away from the nation’s median voter. This gap has damaged Democratic prospects in the past, but the ultimate outcome of Trump’s determined efforts to capitalize on it has not yet been revealed.

Trump, DeSantis put politics over Floridians’ health. Fools cheered, but COVID kills” via Fabiola Santiago of the Miami Herald — Welcome to the TrumpDeSantis horror show in Central Florida. It can make you sick and kill you, but Floriduh dunces love these COVID deniers. Supporters see Trump’s narcissism and couldn’t-care-less attitude as a sign of strength. They see the Governor’s reckless behavior as anything but what it is, dangerous. It’s gross, and grotesque, too. On Thursday, Trump and Pence are expected to descend on Miami armed with smoke and mirrors to create the illusion that coronavirus doesn’t matter.

Mitch McConnell is laughing at all of us” via Helaine Olen of The Washington Post — McConnell is laughing at our nation’s suffering. The laughter came Monday night, during a debate between McConnell and Amy McGrath, his Democratic challenger for Senate. McGrath castigated McConnell for his lack of action on further economic stimulus and relief for the millions of Americans suffering the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. When McConnell pointed out he had helped pass the first rounds of relief in the spring and suggested the lack of action was the fault of the Democrats who wanted to spend money on things unrelated to the crisis. McConnell’s response to the economic catastrophe that has resulted from the pandemic is full-on contempt for the suffering and needy.

After Gators COVID-19 outbreak, Dan Mullen’s ‘Pack the Swamp’ comments are even dumber” via Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel — Just a few days ago, Florida Gators coach Mullen was on top of the college football world. His team was undefeated, ranked No. 4 in the country and being mentioned as a potential national championship contender. Now, because of his reckless and ill-timed statements after a loss to Texas A&M, Mullen has instead become a national punchline. Three days after Florida’s head coach urged UF administrators to lift COVID-19 crowd restrictions and allow 90,000 fans to brave the pandemic and pack into the Swamp for Saturday’s game against LSU, there might not even be a game against LSU.

— ON TODAY’S SUNRISE —

The Trump campaign is executing a full-court press in Florida. The President and the Vice President are both campaigning in Miami-Dade — including a rally and a nationally televised town hall meeting.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— Sixty-six more people have died in Florida from COVID-19, bringing the death toll the 15,788. That’s more than the entire population of St. Augustine.

— A new report in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel says state officials are fudging the COVID-19 numbers by using an unusual method to calculate the positivity rate. If they use the standard method, our rate would be twice as high, and doesn’t meet the standard for reopening. 

— The latest casualty of Florida’s COVID-19 crisis is the Gator football team. Sunday’s game against LSU had been postponed after 19 UF players and two coaching assistants tested positive.

— This is the time of year when migrant workers start harvesting the fall crops in South Florida. The state is setting up added COVID-19 testing sites for farmworkers in St. Lucie and Miami Dade counties.

— According to a new poll, Trump is in trouble in his new home state. Sunrise talks with pollster and pundit Steve Vancore, who says Biden has a solid lead in Florida.

— And finally, three Florida Man stories featuring crooks who left a calling card, the campus crapper, and a middle school girl ordered to quarantine because she got her period.

To listen, click on the image below:

— ALOE —

Halloween 2020: Candy chutes. Quarantined books. Virtual costume contests.” via Anne Marie Chaker of The Wall Street Journal — It’s already a scary time, which makes celebrating Halloween unusually complicated. Many of the usual activities are high risk: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised people to avoid traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating, crowded indoor costume parties and indoor haunted houses. Local governments have issued their own restrictions on activities that encourage gathering or draw crowds.

Halloween is scary enough; COVID-19 just adds another layer of fear. Image via AP. 

Stone crab season is starting. One tiny change is making a huge difference this year” via Carlos Frías of Florida Keys News — Stone crab season opens at 12:01 a.m. Oct. 15, with several changes meant to strengthen the population of stone crabs that pumps about $30 million into the Florida Keys economy alone. Among the changes diners will notice, the smallest claws allowed to be harvested, ironically called medium, will be one-eighth of an inch bigger. Claws must now be a minimum of 2 7/8 instead of 2 ¾. That may barely be enough to get caught between your teeth.

‘Batman: Death in the Family’ lets viewers decide Robin’s interactive fate” via Brian Lowry of CNN — This latest choose-your-own-adventure exercise falls into the category of DC’s edgy direct-to-Blu-ray movies, so the target audience in grown fanboys, not kids. But unlike a lot of these exercises, the viewer’s choices take the story in wildly different directions. Adapted from a 1988 comic that engaged in its own interactive stunt, this version of the Dark Knight has an older Batman raising that new Robin, Jason Todd, who has a particularly nasty, revenge-oriented disposition.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

A very happy birthday to our friend Edie Ousley; we hope she is resting up and returns to the arena soon. Also celebrating is state Rep. Josie Tomkow.

___

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

Written By

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

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

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Bob Sparks, Andrew Wilson, and Kelly Hayes.
Email: Peter@FloridaPolitics.com
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

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