Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 10.19.20

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

📍 — Today marks the start of in-person early voting in 51 counties in Florida. If you want to learn where you can cast your ballot, check out this handy online tool from Progress Florida that helps locate the closest or most convenient early voting location

🇺🇸 — To commemorate the start of early voting, the nation’s largest electronic American flag is lighting up the new Paramount Miami Worldcenter tower. Through the center of the 60-story, $600-million building is a 700-foot-tall vertical stream of fluttering red and white LED stripes combined with the words, “VOTE FLA.” At the top of the building is a 150-foot-tall by 300-foot-wide radiant field of blue, blended with glowing five-pointed white stars and a 300-foot-in-diameter “VOTE” button image. Click here to see the display.

😢 — This is a devastating must-read from the USA Today Network — Florida — Overwhelmed with new cases, Florida officials have sent foster kids into abusive homes, falsified follow-up investigations and ignored calls from witnesses.

👱‍♀️ — The Southern Group has made another smart hire: Karis Lockhart, featured in INFLUENCE Magazine as one of the rising stars of Florida politics, is joining the firm.

Another smart hire by The Southern Group; congratulations Karis Lockhart.

🍁 — This story about how a weather satellite captures stunning fall foliage coloring the Eastern U.S. is worth the click. The changing colors can be spotted from 22,236 miles above Earth.

Beautiful fall foliage in the Northeast can be seen from space.


Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:

@ThomasBoswellWP: Tampa Bay Rays, 28th in MLB payroll, beat No. 1 (Yanks) and now No. 3 (Astros) in payroll to reach World Series. If they should meet & beat Dodgers in WS, they’d knock off No. 1-2-3 in salary. Just sayin’, not predicting. Remarkable and worth all the praise they can be given!


Florida Chamber’s Future of Florida Forum — 1; HBO debuts 2000 presidential election doc ‘537 Votes’ — 2; third presidential debate (tentative) at Belmont — 3; “The Empty Man” premieres — 4; 2020 General Election — 15; NBA 2020-21 training camp — 22; FITCon Policy Conference begins — 24; The Masters begins — 24; NBA draft — 30; Pixar’s “Soul” premieres — 32; College basketball season slated to begin — 27; NBA 2020-21 opening night — 44; Florida Automated Vehicles Summit — 44; “Death on the Nile” premieres — 59; “Wonder Woman 1984” rescheduled premiere — 67; Greyhound racing ends in Florida — 73; Super Bowl LV in Tampa — 111; “A Quiet Place Part II” rescheduled premiere — 122; “Black Widow” rescheduled premiere — 136; “No Time to Die” premieres (rescheduled) — 165; “Top Gun: Maverick” rescheduled premiere — 256; Disney’s “Shang Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings” premieres — 263; new start date for 2021 Olympics — 277; “Jungle Cruise” premieres — 285; Disney’s “Eternals” premieres — 382; “Spider-Man Far From Home” sequel premieres — 385; Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” premieres — 417; “Thor: Love and Thunder” premieres — 481; “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” premieres — 534; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” sequel premieres — 715


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 Sunday, 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. As of Sunday, Biden stays at an 87 in 100 chance of winning compared to Trump, who slipped to a 12 in 100 shot. One model has an Electoral College tie, with the House deciding the election. FiveThirtyEight also ranked individual states by the likelihood of delivering a decisive vote for the winning candidate in the Electoral College: Pennsylvania leads with 26.2%, while Florida is second with 14.2%. Wisconsin is now at 13.8 % Other states include Michigan (11.6%), North Carolina (5.6%). Arizona (5.1%) Minnesota (4.8%) and Nevada (3.3%).

Ahead of the final presidential debate, Joe Biden is holding on to the lead both nationally and in battleground states.

PredictIt: As of Sunday, the PredictIt trading market has Biden dropping to $0.65 a share, with Trump up a penny to $0.40.

Real Clear Politics: As of Sunday, the RCP average of polling top battleground states has Biden leading Trump 51.3% to 42.4%. The RCP average now has Biden averaging +8.9 points ahead.

The Economist: As of Sunday, 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 (91%) 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).


Donald Trump aides seek to set aside division and plan for final sprint to Election Day” via Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post — The final push to calm internal divisions comes as the President is once again barnstorming the country, down in the polls and facing rising rates of coronavirus infection, continued signs of economic distress and an opponent who has so far proved far more resistant to the President’s attacks. White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, who is leading Trump’s reelection effort, convened an all-hands meeting Thursday morning at the party headquarters in Washington to bring together top advisers for the RNC and the campaign. At issue was how and where the campaign, which has been operating with sometimes conflicting sets of voter-targeting data, should spend its remaining funds.

Here comes the Florida GOP: In-person voting will launch a wave of Republican ballots” via Karina Elwood of the Miami Herald — A record-breaking surge of mail-voting Democrats in Florida has handed Biden a massive lead over Trump in his must-win home state. But here come the Republicans. The start of in-person voting Monday is expected to trigger a conservative wave that will build over the next two weeks and crest on Election Day. Around two-thirds of participating Florida GOP voters are likely to cast a ballot in person this fall, raising the question of whether Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, will be able to hold off a Trump comeback.

Trump starts to articulate a painful reality: He could lose in 2020” via Meridith McGraw of POLITICO — Just weeks from Election Day, Trump is saying the quiet part out loud about his own campaign. The President is crisscrossing the country with a packed schedule, flying to some states he won handily in 2016, to deliver a final pitch for a second term — and making no secret of his own shaky standing. Trump aides in this case hope the counterpunch can propel him to a better place in the race. Despite trying to project strength and confidence after his bout with the coronavirus, during which he went on supplemental oxygen and was hospitalized for three nights, the President has openly acknowledged just how far he has slipped.

Donald Trump starts openly discussing the possibility he may lose the election. Image via AP.

How Mormons fed up with Trump could help lift Biden in Arizona” via Hank Stephenson of The New York Times

—“Trump’s suburban collapse costs him in Nebraska” via David Siders of POLITICO

—“Texas is the most intriguing political state in the country this fall” via Dan Balz of The Washington Post

Trailing in the polls and in fundraising, Trump clings to one marker as a sign of success — crowd size” via David Nakamura of The Washington Post — Trump is trailing Biden in the polls, lagging badly in fundraising and losing out on the endorsements of some prominent Republicans and even former aides. But there remains one marker by which Trump believes his campaign is showing its true vitality in the home stretch and demonstrating why he can win again on Nov. 3, crowd size. Trump has returned to the campaign trail with gusto after battling the novel coronavirus, holding daily rallies with thousands of supporters at airport hangars. In doing so, the President is again flouting warnings from doctors about the potential health risks of large groups.

Joe Biden campaign advises caution, again, even as national polls favor the Democrat.” via Katie Glueck and Shane Goldmacher of The New York Times — Biden’s campaign is urgently warning against complacency in the final stretch of the race despite national and some state polling showing a wide Democratic lead over Trump. In a memo that was to be sent to supporters on Saturday, Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, Biden’s campaign manager, stressed that polls can be faulty or imprecise and warned of only narrow advantages in a number of key states. It is a message that appears designed to keep Democratic supporters focused and engaged in the last days of the race despite national attention on Trump’s challenges, and to motivate Biden backers to turn out and continue donating.

How Biden destroyed Trump’s TV ad ‘death star’” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO — Of the $421 million Biden has spent and reserved on TV, a higher portion than usual for campaigns — 15% — is on nationwide cable and broadcast TV programs seen by the nation’s 208 local markets, whether they’re in a swing state like Arizona, a blue state like Massachusetts or a red state like Idaho. Biden’s national buys are seen as a key ingredient in making former swing states like Ohio and Iowa look like battlegrounds again. The campaign is advertising heavily on shows such as Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy, which are popular among seniors. Biden’s ad buys are also “deep,” Link noted, spanning 32 networks that range from Fox to Animal Planet

Can Biden compete in Trump’s rural strongholds? Democrats hope so.” via Annie Gowen and Jenna Johnson of The Washington Post — The Biden campaign has no illusions about winning the bulk of rural voters, but it sees softening Trump support as an opportunity to reduce the President’s margins in deeply conservative and rural areas. They hope the former Vice President’s moderate message, heavy focus on pocketbook issues and promise to restore decency to politics will resonate with rural voters, especially independents and former Democrats who voted for Trump in 2016. Even slight shifts can be decisive in closely contested states.

Trump, Biden muster army of lawyers, poll watchers for Florida election fight” via John Kennedy of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Twenty years ago, Florida was ground zero for a 36-day clash ultimately settled by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that gave George W. Bush the White House. But veterans of that clash say 2020 is even more volatile. The Bush-Gore recount fight sparked 47 lawsuits after Election Day, many centering on determining voter intent, problems with ballot design and vote-counting procedures. The state was plunged again into a postelection battle two years ago during a never-before-seen three statewide recounts. Another tight election next month is expected to spawn a dizzying array of legal challenges focusing on vote-by-mail ballots, the time ballots arrive at elections offices, the eligibility of certain voters, and whatever tabulating machine and polling place problems emerge.

Florida’s election may hinge on mail ballot signatures: ‘The hanging chad of 2020’” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau — If Florida faces another uncomfortably close presidential election on Nov. 3, rejected vote-by-mail ballots could spell trouble. The unprecedented spike in demand for mail-in ballots spawned by the coronavirus has led to a subsequent surge in the number of ballots that are poised to be rejected. Of the ballots returned so far, 11,637 — or 0.56% — were flagged as invalid because they either were missing the required signature or had some other voter-caused error, according to University of Florida election expert Dan Smith. “This is only the tip of the iceberg,” said Smith. “Thousands more mail ballots will arrive in the coming days, cast by eligible voters. … I could certainly see the mismatched signature as the hanging chad of 2020.”

Trump courts Florida seniors as polls show him lagging with key voting bloc” via Zac Anderson of The Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Trump’s travels in Florida last week reflect a need to shore up the senior vote. After kicking off his first week back on the campaign trail since his COVID-19 diagnosis with a rally Monday in the battleground Orlando region, he visited Fort Myers and Ocala, two retiree-heavy areas. Trump’s Fort Myers visit explicitly targeted seniors. Speaking in front of a backdrop reading “protecting America’s seniors,” Trump told a group of seniors at the Caloosa Sound Convention Center in Fort Myers that once a vaccine is available it will be delivered “directly to nursing homes at no cost to our seniors.”

Ivanka Trump to attend fundraiser in Naples on Wednesday” via Devan Patel of Naples Daily News — Ivanka Trump will fundraise in Naples on Wednesday, less than a week after her father visited Southwest Florida. Trump Victory, a joint fundraising committee for Trump made up of the Republican National Committee and individual state Republican parties, announced that the first daughter will be the special guest at a luncheon. The committee has not disclosed the event’s location. The invitation-only event costs a minimum of $15,000 per couple. Lunch and two roundtable seats costs $100,000.

Right-leaning Hispanic Leadership Fund attacks Trump TPS policy in South Florida ad blitz” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The Hispanic Leadership Fund, a right-leaning Latino organization, launched a campaign in Florida Monday questioning Trump’s immigration policies. The national advocacy group will spend $750,000 running bilingual audio ads in South Florida that will run through the election. Mario Lopez, president of the HLF, said it’s important voters understand the difference between Trump’s words and actions. Specifically, ads contrast tough rhetoric “supporting” the Cuban and Venezuelan people living under socialist regimes with denying temporary protected status to refugees.

Kamala Harris to campaign in Florida Monday” via Antonio Fins of The Palm Beach Post — Harris will resume in-person campaigning Monday with stops in Jacksonville and Orlando. The Biden campaign has not released specific details about the events. The visit, however, is timed to coincide with the start of early voting in the Sunshine State. Harris’s spouse, Doug Emhoff, will also campaign in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Harris visited Florida in September when she spoke at Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens and also stopped in Doral.

Biden leads Trump more than 13 points in Pinellas County” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Trump is poised for a walloping in Pinellas County, according to a new St. Pete Polls survey out Thursday. The poll has Biden leading Trump by 13.5 points at 55% to 41.5% with only 2% of voters undecided. That’s a remarkable lead for the Democratic candidate considering Trump carried Pinellas County four years ago by just over 1% over then-candidate Hillary Clinton. That means Trump is underperforming in the purple county by nearly 15-points. A break out of demographics in the poll shows Trump struggling with partisan crossover appeal. While 11% of Democrats indicated they planned to vote for Trump, more than 21% of Republicans said they were voting for Biden.

Joe Biden is making significant headway in bellwether Pinellas County.

Trump winning in CD 15, but it’s shaping up to be another potentially dooming underperformance” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Trump holds a five-point lead over former Biden in Florida’s 15th Congressional District, according to a new survey from St. Pete Polls released Friday. That lead is nearly half Trump’s victory over Clinton four years ago when he bested her in the district by nine points, 52% to 43%. It’s more bad news for Trump who is consistently polling behind Biden in statewide polls and shows another region along the I-4 corridor where he is underperforming compared to four years ago. The district’s demographics show Trump should, strictly based on data, be performing better than he did in 2016.

Investors turn skeptical of Democratic ‘blue wave’ victory in U.S. elections” via Joanna Ossinger of Bloomberg — Markets are turning increasingly skeptical about the chances of a “Democratic sweep” in November’s U.S. elections. And that’s bad for almost all asset classes. When Biden’s poll numbers increased, numerous strategists started talking about the idea of a “Blue Wave,” where his party would retain control of the House and win the Senate. That prospect could be favorable to markets as a Biden presidency is seen adding to the odds of a fresh round of fiscal stimulus. But now analysts say there’s a good chance the Senate stays in Republican hands, making the passage of a fresh flood of cash less likely.

What George W. Bush plans to do about Donald Trump” via Edward-Isaac Dovere of The Atlantic — Bush doesn’t like Trump. He doesn’t like how Trump is behaving as President. He clearly doesn’t like the division in the country Trump has fostered. He knows American democracy is under threat. He has tried to be reassuring, telling people that America has survived rough times before. Bush — as the only living former Republican President — would be in a position to stand up for American democracy if Trump loses but refuses to concede, as he has threatened to do. But if Bush is planning on doing anything about Trump, or considering some way to stand together with the other former Presidents to protect democracy, that would be news to the offices of those former Presidents. They haven’t heard from him.

Third-party presidential candidate Jo Jorgensen visits FSU campus on campaign trail” via Casey Chapter of the Tallahassee Democrat — Libertarian presidential candidate Jorgensen visited FSU’s campus Saturday and addressed a crowd of roughly 50 people made up of college students, Tallahassee locals, and some who had traveled from outside the county. Jorgensen supporters and campaign volunteers gathered on Landis Green, a field on the FSU campus overlooked by Strozier Library, to hear her speak about topics ranging from health care to criminal justice reform. During her speech, Jorgensen highlighted that citizens should vote for a candidate they prefer, rather than being resigned to only voting for a candidate because of their party. During her speech, Jorgensen highlighted that citizens should vote for a candidate they prefer, rather than being resigned to only voting for a candidate because of their party.


Trump campaign ad slams Biden for ‘history of racism’ — The Trump Campaign launched an ad denouncing Biden’s “forty-seven-year history of enacting discriminatory policies and insulting Americans of color.” In particular, the ad notes Biden’s statement that if Black voters can’t decide between him and Trump then they “ain’t Black.” The ad says Trump, by contrast, “promises continued success for the Black community through his Platinum Plan.” The campaign said the ad is part of an eight-figure ad buy and will run on select network cable outlets.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

Trump campaign highlights Biden’s supposed ‘lies to the American people’ — A new Trump Campaign ad slams Biden for “blatant lies about his family’s recently exposed misconduct.” The ad focuses on his son Hunter’s involvement with a Chinese energy company and a Ukrainian businessman as detailed in emails supposedly stolen from Hunter Biden’s hard drive. “This is a smoking gun,” the ad says of the emails, which are unverified and further a conspiracy that is verifiably false. “Joe Biden sold America out to make his family rich. Don’t let him do it again.” The campaign did not say where or on what mediums the ad will air.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

Independence USA ad touts Joe Biden’s economic plans — A new ad from Mike Bloomberg’s Independence USA PAC lays out Biden’s plans for rebuilding the economy, saying the country will “build back better by supercharging American manufacturing, with American companies building things with American workers.” The ad also mentions “creating affordable child care programs so workers can actually go to work” and “finally giving the middle class a real tax cut.” This ad is part of Bloomberg’s commitment to spend $100 million to help Biden win Florida. Independence USA PAC’s ads will run daily statewide through Election Day across all ten Florida media markets and are geared toward both persuasion and mobilization in support of Biden.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:


— 2020 — 

Democrats tap ‘fundraging’ to garner hundreds of millions for campaigns” via Julie Bykowicz of The Wall Street Journal — “ ‘Fundraging’ very neatly summarizes low-dollar donor behavior, the collision of emotion and giving,” said Patrick Ruffini, a Republican pollster and digital strategist. Across the 14 most competitive Senate races, Democrats collectively raised nearly $200 million more than their Republican counterparts in the three-month period that ended Sept. 30, according to FEC reports filed Thursday. Leading the pack was Jaimie Harrison, who collected $58 million for the quarter, beating the previous quarterly Senate fundraising record by about $20 million. Lindsey Graham, who has been vocal about his challenger’s formidable cash hauls, raised $28 million, the most ever for a Republican Senate candidate.

Guard ballot drop boxes, Ron DeSantis tells Florida elections officials in last-minute memo before early voting starts” via Dara Kam of The News Service of Florida — DeSantis‘ administration is telling county elections supervisors that ballot collection boxes outside early voting sites have to be staffed, but the local officials’ attorney said Florida law doesn’t include any such requirement. Department of State General Counsel Brad McVay sent an email to supervisors just days before the vast majority of the state’s 67 counties begin early voting Monday, which he said was aimed at answering questions raised by local officials about drop boxes.

In a last-minute pitch, Ron DeSantis recommends that elections supervisors start guarding ballot boxes.

These Florida voting machines ripe for Russian hackers, experts say” via John Pacenti of The Palm Beach Post — Bad actors working for the likes of Russia and other nation-states are lurking on the internet, waiting for their chance to infiltrate the American voting system. Florida may be ripe for the picking, computer scientists say, because numerous counties rely on voting machines that are drawing fire for their vulnerability to a cyberattack. These computer scientists along with election integrity groups familiar with the model that Palm Beach and 48 other counties use, say there are potentially numerous ways for a foreign entity to alter results. They say that state election officials have accepted wholesale the spin from the manufacturer that these machines are secure.

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 — At a time when American labor has been redefined and essential employees are celebrated as everyday heroes, Florida voters in November will decide whether the value of work should change. But the coronavirus changed the climate for businesses, too, many of which face uncertain futures. Small companies have closed. Big corporations have laid off thousands of workers. The economic lifeblood of the state, the tourism and hospitality sector, took such a hard punch that some Democrats are reassessing their support of the amendment. Essential pandemic workers versus coronavirus-battered companies — that isn’t the debate anyone expected last year when the amendment got enough signatures to make the ballot.

Stephanie Murphy adds $602K to CD 7 reelection fund” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Murphy added another $602,000 to her reelection campaign and spent less than a third of that much in August and September, according to the latest federal campaign finance reports. That keeps the campaign for Murphy, a two-term Congresswoman from Winter Park, in a far better financial position for a stretch drive than her Republican challenger in Florida’s 7th Congressional District, Leo Valentin. Valentin, an Orlando radiologist and businessman, had a good two-month period ending Sept. 30. Still, he managed to collect just over half as much as Murphy, and his campaign spent nearly that much during August and September, according to the latest reports posted by the Federal Elections Commission.

Anna Paulina Luna makes her pitch for congress to St. Petersburg NAACP” via John Solomon of the Tampa Bay Times — Republican Luna participated in a forum hosted by the St. Petersburg branch of the NAACP on Saturday. She held the floor on her own, as her opponent, U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, did not attend due to a scheduling conflict, organizers said. Her appearance — a rapid-fire, 12-minute segment touching on racial inequality, education, police brutality and racism within the criminal justice system, COVID-19 relief and gun laws — came with 17 days left in the election and votes already being cast.

Byron Donalds tested positive for COVID-19 before Trump’s Fort Myers event” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Donalds tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday. The Naples Republican took a test before an expected appearance at an event with Trump in Fort Myers. “In the lead up to the event with the President, I was tested and notified today that I was positive,” Donalds said in a statement. “My wife Erika and oldest son have tested negative, other results are pending.” The Donalds have three children. It wasn’t immediately clear whether all had been tested for the coronavirus. For the moment, Donalds has not reported any symptoms. Democratic opponent Cindy Banyai wished the Donalds family well in her own statement.

Byron Donalds tests positive for COVID-19 just before a Donald Trump rally in South Florida. Image via the White House.

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell outraises Carlos Giménez, 3-to-1, in Miami’s most competitive House race” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — Federal fundraising reports show that Giménez is at a major cash disadvantage in Miami’s most competitive U.S. House race against Mucarsel-Powell in the final weeks before the Nov. 3 election. Giménez, running in Florida’s 26th Congressional District, trails Mucarsel-Powell by a roughly 3-to-1 margin in fundraising during the most recent quarter, from July 30 to Sept. 30. Mucarsel-Powell raised $2.1 million, a Florida record for a U.S. House candidate in a fundraising quarter, to Giménez’s $668,000. Mucarsel-Powell also has more cash in her campaign account, just over $1 million, while Giménez has $640,000 to spend, as both candidates pay for TV ads to reach voters before Election Day.

Women invoke memory of Ruth Bader Ginsburg during rally in The Villages” via David Towns of the Villages-News — More than 50 Villagers, their daughters, granddaughters and male friends rallied for women’s rights Saturday with a golf cart caravan from Spanish Springs to Lake Sumter Landing. The parade was in honor of the late Ginsburg, who both as a justice and as a lawyer had a major impact in the fight for woman’s equality. The rally participants carried signs and had cart decorations emphasizing equal pay for equal work, living wages, reproductive rights and the right to have the word “No” be respected. Many of the signs in The Villages event were opposed to the rush to fill Ginsburg’s seat with a conservative justice before the presidential election.


—“The battle for eyes and votes: Unprecedented ‘air war’ over Panhandle state Senate seat” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat

Florida Conservation Voters releases new ads backing Democrats in SD 9, 39” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Florida Conservation Voters — a group which largely supports liberal, pro-environment candidates — is out with new digital ads targeting Republican Senate candidates Jason Brodeur of SD 9 and Ana Maria Rodriguez of SD 39. Those two Senate contests are among the highest-profile in the state this cycle. Both seats are open after being controlled by Republicans, and Democrats have their sights set on possibly flipping both. The ad targeting Brodeur focuses on his votes which could have allowed the River Cross development to pave over rural lands in Seminole County. The SD 39 ad claims Rodriguez “is bankrolled by Florida’s worst polluters.”

To watch the ad for SD 9, click on the image below:

Kayser Enneking maintains cash lead over Chuck Clemons in HD 21” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Gainesville Democrat Enneking raised another $56,000 between her campaign and committee heading into October, maintaining her edge over incumbent Republican Rep. Clemons in the race for House District 21. Her two accounts spent nearly $160,000 combined during the reporting period, including nearly $100,000 for ad production and airtime. To date, Enneking has raised more than $670,000 and had $254,000 left to spend a month out from Election Day. Though Clemons managed to best Enneking in his new reports, the two-term incumbent trails her considerably in the overall score. Including the $61,000 in new money, Clemons has raised $424,000 between his campaign and political committee and entered October with $216,000 banked.

Brother weighs in against Scott Plakon in HD 29 battle with Tracey Kagan” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Democrat Kagan is touting the endorsement of the brother of her opponent, Republican Rep. Plakon, who made claims that could exacerbate a long-running family feud. Bob Plakon’s endorsement message has either the aura of inside-family revelations about the incumbent or a lashing out from a family member who could be estranged. He said he “firmly believes” his brother — one of the highest-profile Christian conservatives in the Legislature — is homophobic, and charges that his lavish spending has forced their parents to bail him out. Kagan said Sunday that she did not solicit the statement in any way. It showed up as an unsolicited comment on her Facebook page, following a post she had published on her endorsement from the Orlando Sentinel.


County Commission race fought over public safety, controlling residential development” via Kevin Bouffard of The Lakeland Ledger — The race for Seat 3 on the Polk County Commission could be decided on whether residents feel safe in their homes or threatened by new residential developments springing up next door. Incumbent Commissioner Bill Braswell said he hoped voters would give him a second four-year term in office on the strength of his support for public safety. Democratic challenger Bob Doyel, a retired judge on the 10th Judicial Circuit Court in Bartow, said he hopes voters will want to break the grip residential home developers have on the current Commission by electing him. The incumbent cited his support for building new fire stations and for improving ambulance services. “Sometimes I’m wondering if my opponent is really Grady Judd,” Doyel said, referring to the videos. “Why they would choose to take that tack against a judge is beyond me.”

Bob Doyel wants to ‘break the hold’ developers have on the Polk County Commission.


Florida reports 2.5K new cases of the coronavirus” via The Associated Press — The number of coronavirus infections in Florida seesawed downward Sunday, as state health officials reported 2,500 new cases and 50 additional deaths from the pandemic. Since the outbreak began in Florida in March, the state has now recorded more than 755,000 cases and more than 16,100 deaths. Over the past week, the daily average of new infections stood just shy of 3,000. Over the past eight months, more than 5.7 million test results have been reported to the Florida Health Department, with the vast majority of them testing negative for the virus. The overall infection rate over that period was slightly more than 13%. State officials say the positivity rate associated with the cases reported on Sunday was 4.7%.

Florida adds another 2.5K coronavirus cases.


Florida Gators coach Dan Mullen tests positive for COVID-19, self-isolating” via Robbie Andreu of the Gainesville Sun — Mullen announced on Twitter on Saturday that he has tested positive for COVID-19. The UF football program has been on pause since Tuesday, after 19 players and two assistant coaches tested positive for the virus. On Wednesday, following two more positive tests, Saturday’s LSU game was postponed. UF’s medical staff has not pinpointed the exact origin of the Gators’ outbreak but surmised it began with a couple of players, one experiencing congestion and another a headache late last week. With all the positive players and so many players in quarantine, the Oct. 24 game with Missouri in The Swamp has been moved to Oct. 31. The LSU game will be played Dec. 12.

Gators coach Dan Mullen tests positive for COVID-19, throwing the team’s schedule in disarray. Image via AP.

Okaloosa County Supervisor of Elections Paul Lux tests positive for COVID-19, forces office closure” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — Officials said the Crestview Community Center will close indefinitely “out of an abundance of caution and concern for public safety.” Meanwhile, Lux has self-isolated and intends to work remotely. Despite the closure, early voting will continue as scheduled from Oct. 19 to 31 at four other locations, officials said. Those four remaining locations include Niceville Community Center, Destin Community Center and the Okaloosa County Administration Building. The Okaloosa Supervisor of Elections Office reassured residents that precautions are being taken at all polling locations.


A half-million more people could die if America pursues a ‘herd immunity’ plan” via Tom Frieden of The Washington Post — Some “maverick scientists” with “an audience inside the White House,” as reported last week, argue for “allowing the coronavirus to spread freely at ‘natural’ rates among healthy young people while keeping most aspects of the economy up and running.” Their aim is to achieve “herd immunity,” the concept that if enough people are immune, those without immunity can be protected. The route to herd immunity would run through graveyards filled with Americans who did not have to die, because what starts in young adults doesn’t stay in young adults.

If America pursued ‘herd immunity,’ experts say another 500K people would die.

As the coronavirus surges, a new culprit emerges: Pandemic fatigue” via Julie Bosman, Sarah Mervosh and Marc Santora of The New York Times — With no end to the pandemic in sight, many people are flocking to bars, family parties, bowling alleys and sporting events much as they did before the virus hit, and others must return to school or work as communities seek to resuscitate economies. And in sharp contrast to the spring, the rituals of hope and unity that helped people endure the first surge of the virus have given way to exhaustion and frustration. Health officials say the growing impatience is a new challenge as they try to slow the latest outbreaks, and it threatens to exacerbate what they fear is turning into a devastating autumn.

How the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally may have spread coronavirus across the Upper Midwest” via Brittany Shammas and Lena H. Sun of The Washington Post — Within weeks of the rally, the Dakotas, along with Wyoming, Minnesota and Montana, were leading the nation in new coronavirus infections per capita. The surge was especially pronounced in North and South Dakota, where cases and hospitalization rates continued their juggernaut rise into October. Experts say they will never be able to determine how many of those cases originated at the 10-day rally, given the failure of state and local health officials to identify and monitor attendees returning home, or to trace chains of transmission after people got sick. Some, however, believe the nearly 500,000-person gathering played a role in the outbreak now consuming the Upper Midwest.

Millions more virus rapid tests, but are results reported?” via Matthew Perrone of The Associated Press — After struggling to ramp up coronavirus testing, the U.S. can now screen several million people daily, thanks to a growing supply of rapid tests. But the boom comes with a new challenge: keeping track of the results. All U.S. testing sites are legally required to report their results, positive and negative, to public health agencies. But state health officials say many rapid tests are going unreported, which means some new COVID-19 infections may not be counted. And the situation could get worse, experts say. The federal government is shipping more than 100 million of the newest rapid tests to states for use in public schools, assisted living centers, and other new testing sites.

After struggling to ramp up coronavirus testing, the U.S. is now capable of testing some 3 million people daily. But the challenge is keeping track of the results. Image via AP.

Kids have suffered enough. Let them have Halloween.” via Aaron E. Carroll of The New York Times — Of course, we want everyone, including children, to be safe during the pandemic. We canceled school in the spring, camps in the summer, vacations, sleepovers, and more. The ruling on Halloween from the CDC is a bridge too far. The agency recently announced that traditional trick-or-treating, with face-to-face candy distribution, is a high-risk activity. Even modified trick-or-treating with grab-and-go goody bags were labeled a moderate risk. But if I had to design an activity for children that might be safe during a pandemic, I’m not sure that I could do a better job than trick-or-treating.


The next economic crisis: Empty retail space” via Katy O’Donnell of POLITICO — Commercial real estate is in trouble, and turbulence in the $15 trillion market is threatening to bleed over into the broader financial system as the U.S. struggles to emerge from a recession. The longer the pandemic paralyzes hotels, retailers and office buildings, the more difficult it is for property owners to make mortgage payments — raising the specter of widespread downgrades, defaults and foreclosures. Seven months into the crisis, the industry’s pleas for relief to Congress and the Federal Reserve have been in vain: Lawmakers are at odds over even the most basic details of an economic relief package for individuals, let alone businesses, and the Fed is hoping the trillion-dollar commercial securities market backed by mortgages will heal itself.

Trouble in the $15 trillion commercial real estate industry could set off another major recession. Image via AP.

Coronavirus tanked the economy. then credit scores went up.” via AnnaMaria Andriotis of The Wall Street Journal — Millions of Americans lost their jobs and skipped debt payments this year. You wouldn’t know it looking at consumer credit scores. While the coronavirus was pummeling the U.S. economy, Americans’ credit scores — a metric used in nearly every consumer-lending decision — were rising. The average FICO credit score stood at 711 in July, up from 708 in April and 706 a year earlier, according to Fair Isaac Corp., the score’s creator. Early estimates suggest the average score has held steady through mid-October at the July level, which is the highest since FICO began keeping track in 2005. The increase is largely thanks to the unprecedented financial assistance the government and lenders rolled out to consumers after the pandemic.

Carnival ships need court approval 60 days before restarting, judge says — then delays order” via Taylor Dolven of the Miami Herald — A federal judge said she plans to require Carnival Corp. to certify that each of its cruise ships is compliant with its probation obligations 60 days before those ships reenter U.S. waters to restart cruises. The forthcoming order could inhibit the company’s plans to resume cruise operations in the United States on Dec. 1. Seitz made the announcement at a status conference Friday in the company’s ongoing criminal case for environmental crimes. At the request of Carnival Corp., she then agreed to delay the order for 24 hours so the company could review it. Carnival has been on probation since April 2017 after pleading guilty to environmental crimes and paying a $40 million fine.


A disputed study finds that remdesivir, widely used to treat COVID-19, does not prevent deaths.” via Katherine J. Wu and Gina Kolata of The New York Times — Remdesivir, the only antiviral drug authorized for treatment of COVID-19 in the United States, fails to prevent deaths among patients, according to a study of more than 11,000 people. The drug was granted emergency authorization by the Food and Drug Administration on May 1 after a trial by the National Institutes of Health found that remdesivir modestly reduced the time to recovery in hospitalized. Trump received the antiviral after he began showing symptoms earlier this month.

‘I’ve been crying for days’: How voting became the latest of 2020s many anxieties” via Karen Heller of The Washington Post — Voting should be easy. It should be safe. For many Americans, it appears to be neither. Voting anxiety is the latest entry in 2020s bursting catalog of fears. Americans have voted for more than two centuries, and yet we cannot manage to get it right. Despite being a wealthy, technologically advanced nation, or perhaps because of it, complications have only multiplied, along with our uncertainty. We are told constantly the stakes are staggering, that this is “The Most Important Election of Our Lives.” For a country hooked on immediacy, there’s anxiety that it may take days, if not weeks, to learn the outcome. Nobody wants the interminable, contentious hell of 2000. Some fear violence if the results are contested.

Voting becomes the next major source of anxiety for Americans. Image via the Palm Beach Post.

The kids aren’t all right: COVID-19-fueled stress eating, inequities, lack of fitness expected to boost obesity, experts say” via Janye O’Donnell and Adrianna Rodriguez of USA TODAY — Pediatricians and public health experts predict a potentially dramatic increase in childhood obesity this year as months of pandemic eating, closed schools, stalled sports and public space restrictions extend indefinitely. About one in seven children have met the criteria for childhood obesity since 2016, a report out Wednesday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found. “We were making slow and steady progress until this,” said Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach of Northwestern University. “It’s likely we will have wiped out a lot of the progress that we’ve made over the last decade in childhood obesity.” The trend is especially concerning as the CDC says those with a body mass index over 25 are at elevated risk of severe COVID-19 disease and death.


Florida took thousands of kids from families, then failed to keep them safe.” via Michael Braga, Pat Beall, Daphne Chen and Josh Salman of USA Today — Six years ago, Florida lawmakers embraced a tough new approach to stop parents from abusing their children. They approved millions of dollars to hire more child welfare investigators and rewrote rules to make it easier to seize children from their parents. But there was a problem. No one had figured out where to put all the children. In a matter of months, the foster care system found itself drowning in hundreds of new cases. Lawmakers and then-Gov. Rick Scott failed to tackle the root problems driving most of the removals: lack of access to drug treatment, mental health care and domestic violence services for parents.

AHCA budget request shy $77 million” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — Some Florida Medicaid providers may be asked to do more with less in the coming year. While the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration included in its legislative budget request for the upcoming fiscal year an additional $1.87 billion in state funds to cover increased Medicaid caseloads and expenditures amid the COVID-19 pandemic, some providers might not get as much money as expected. AHCA’s budget request for the 2021-2022 fiscal year does not include $77 million in Medicaid cost increases that state economists agreed were necessary and included in the state’s Long-Range Financial Outlook, which was approved by the Joint Legislative Budget Commission in September.

Business regulation agency grapples with breach” via The News Service of Florida — Law enforcement officials have been asked to investigate a potential breach of the computer network of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. The agency announced it has limited operations due to “malicious activity on state-owned technology assets” that occurred Wednesday. It has asked the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to review the security matters. A news release from department Secretary Halsey Beshears said the agency took steps to prevent the compromise of data and that the measures to protect the network will require temporary outages through Monday. “These system limitations are anticipated to continue until all systems and system functions are cleared for access by users,” the release said.


A regulatory rush by federal agencies to secure Trump’s legacy” via Eric Lipton of The New York Times — Facing the prospect that Trump could lose his reelection bid, his cabinet is scrambling to enact regulatory changes affecting millions of Americans in a blitz so rushed it may leave some changes vulnerable to court challenges. The effort is evident in a broad range of federal agencies and encompasses proposals like easing limits on how many hours some truckers can spend behind the wheel, giving the government more freedom to collect biometric data and setting federal standards for when workers can be classified as independent contractors rather than employees. In the bid to lock in new rules before Jan. 20, Trump’s team is limiting or sidestepping requirements for public comment on some of the changes and swatting aside critics who say the administration has failed to carry out a sufficiently rigorous analysis.

Federal agencies are hoping to cement Donald Trump’s legacy. Image via AP.

Federal judge strikes down Trump plan to slash food stamps for 700,000 unemployed Americans” via Spencer S. Hsu of The Washington Post — A federal judge on Sunday formally struck down a Trump administration attempt to end food stamp benefits for nearly 700,000 unemployed people, blocking as “arbitrary and capricious” the first of three such planned measures to restrict the federal food safety net. In an opinion, Chief U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell of D.C. condemned the Agriculture Department for failing to justify or even address the impact of the sweeping change on states, saying its shortcomings had been placed in stark relief amid the coronavirus pandemic, during which unemployment has quadrupled and rosters of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program have grown by more than 17% with more than 6 million new enrollees.


City of Jacksonville expects reimbursement for $153,000 in GOP convention planning costs” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — The City of Jacksonville expects the 2020 Jacksonville Host Committee will cover about $153,000 the city spent to prepare for the Republican National Convention that was slated for Jacksonville before coronavirus concerns forced its cancellation. Mayor Lenny Curry and his staff had said during the run-up to the convention that local taxpayers would not bear any cost for the convention because the host committee and a federal security grant would foot the bill. Jordan Elsbury, chief of staff for Curry, said Friday the host committee has said it will make a payment to the city.

Payback: Lenny Curry is expecting reimbursement for RNC preparation costs.

Orange Circuit Judge Alan Apte accused of molestation, Governor’s order says” via David Harris and Monivette Cordeiro of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Judge Apte has been accused of molestation, according to an executive order by DeSantis. The order assigns the case to Daytona-based State Attorney R.J. Larizza because Orange-Osceola State Attorney Aramis Ayala has a conflict of interest as Apte is a judge in her circuit and used to work for the State Attorney’s Office. Ayala voluntarily recused herself, the order said. Specifics of the allegations against Apte are unclear. This isn’t the first brush with the law for Apte. In 2005, he was indicted after he paid a political consultant $5,000 to collect absentee ballots for his election.


The notion that we can ‘resume life as normal’ right now is misguided and dangerous” via The Washington Post editorial board — The newest plan to reopen the economy, known as the Great Barrington Declaration, was unveiled Oct. 4 at the American Institute for Economic Research, a libertarian think tank in that western Massachusetts town. The authors call for protecting the “vulnerable,” but, for most others, especially the young, recommend “resume life as normal.” Open schools, universities, restaurants and other businesses; hold arts, sports and cultural activities; and follow “simple hygiene measures.” The spreading infection will eventually reach “herd immunity,” a tipping point when enough people gain natural immunity that the virus will not circulate. This is a terribly misguided and dangerous notion.


Vote early. It’s our best defense against a presidential coup” via the Editorial Board of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — If you prefer to have the voters rather than the courts decide the presidential election, there is something you can do about it now. Early voting begins Monday at many convenient locations in Broward and Palm Beach Counties. Ballots you received in the mail will be accepted at all of them. In the history of our state, there has never been anything more urgent for you to do. The importance of this election is the one point on which Trump and his fiercest critics agree. Not since the Civil War have the differences been so stark or the stakes so great.

I promise: Voting in Leon County is easy and safe” via Mark Earley for the Tallahassee Democrat — In my 34 years working elections, I have never seen the kind of interest we are seeing now. I am happy to report that our voters are participating in record numbers. I encourage voters to return their mail ballots as soon as possible. We cannot count a ballot if it is received after 7 p.m. on Election Day. To make it easier for voters, we have placed a dropbox outside my office at 2990-1 Apalachee Parkway. Let me assure voters that if they choose to vote in person — whether at an early voting site or at their neighborhood polling place on Election Day — they will find our poll workers striving to make sure it is a safe experience.

Early voting starts without me this year” via Mark Lane of the Daytona Beach News-Journal — Monday will mark the first time since 2004 that I will not be showing up at an early voting station for a General Election. When there’s not a pandemic going on, early in-person voting represents the best of both worlds. You get the in-person election experience without Election Day lines. But in voting as in everything else, this year is different. I will already have voted by mail when the polls open at 7 a.m. Monday. I’m not on the total at-home lockdown that some are, but I try to stay cautious. Especially in these days when my town is hosting a biker festival and a Republican rally in the same weekend, events with a lot of virus-spreading potential.

Why would any woman swipe right for this man?” via Dana Milbank of The Washington Post — The term “gender gap,” a fixture of American politics for three decades, no longer captures what is happening here: The wholesale repudiation of Trump by women. In the latest poll, Democratic presidential nominee Biden leads Trump among female likely voters by 23 percentage points, 59% to 36%. Men are evenly split at 48% apiece. The poll is one of many showing the same thing. The new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll found Biden’s advantage among women to be 26 points, double Clinton’s final margin among women in 2016.

Even in defeat, Trumpism isn’t going anywhere” via Tim Miller of Rolling Stone — When this is over, can we get our Grand Ol’ Party party back? As an O.G. Never Trumper, this is a question that I get a lot. If Trump loses in November, there will be endless cable panels and egghead Zoom conferences on the matter, with pundits and strategists trying to will the Republican Party back to sanity. Trumpism is forever, even if Trump is only President for a few more months. I hate to break it to you, but this ex-President will not be of a mind to retire to Texas for a quiet second life.


Early voting is now underway in 52 of Florida’s 67 counties, including all of the major metro areas of the state. More than 2.5 million Floridians have already voted using mail-in-ballots.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— Florida could reach another milestone in the battle against COVID-19. When the state releases the list of deaths, it’s likely the number of Floridians killed by coronavirus will pass the 16,000 mark.

— A new ad featuring the Florida Gators attacks the President’s response to coronavirus. That’s from the Lincoln Project, a group of GOP “never-Trumpers” who are doing their best to get him out of the White House.

— Despite Gov. DeSantis’ push to reopen as many businesses as possible during the pandemic, Florida’s unemployment rate went up by three-tenths of a percentage point in September.

— Under normal circumstances, an increase of three-tenths of a point in the jobless rate would set off all sorts of alarms in state government and at the Chamber of Commerce, but in the age of COVID-19, it’s just another day at the office.

— The archaeologist hired by the state to search for more hidden graves at the former juvenile prison known as the Dozier School for Boys says they’ve completed their work and cannot find any more hidden graves at the campus in Marianna. But survivors of Dozier are not convinced.

— Sunrise takes a deep dive into Dozier, where three survivors say this isn’t done yet.

And finally, a couple of Florida Men who were jailed for something they ate … or wanted to eat.

To listen, click on the image below:

— ALOE —

Disney World to unveil specialty license plate in celebration of 50th anniversary” via Ashley Cater of Spectrum 13 News — Disney has not yet revealed the design of the specialty plate but presale vouchers can be purchased for $25, plus applicable state administration fees. Presale vouchers must be purchased at a local county tax collector office or license plate agency, according to FDLE. Proceeds of the license plate, which will be limited to Florida-registered car owners, will benefit Make-A-Wish of Central and Northern Florida. Disney has worked with the organization for many years, helping with thousands of wishes. Disney World is currently planning its 50th-anniversary celebration, which takes place next year. More details about the celebration will be shared in the coming months, Disney said.

New Walt Disney World license plate celebrates its 50th anniversary and helps local Make-A-Wish organizations Image via the Disney Parks Blog.


Belated best wishes to Rep. Amber Mariano, Tim Cerio of GrayRobinson, Ashley Lukis, Marcus Jadotte, and one of our favorite people in The Process, Monica Rodriguez of Ballard Partners. Celebrating today are Reps. Ramon Alexander and Brett Hage, Tiffany Carr, Caitlin Conant of CBS News,WFSU-FM’s Tom Flanigan, the great Jasmyne Henderson, Dara Kam of the News Service of Florida, our friend Rick Lindstrom, and former U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross. 


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

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jason Delgado, Drew Dixon, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Andrew Wilson, and Kelly Hayes.

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