Here’s Brunch, a pop-up, weekend email about final weeks of the 2020 campaign — 10.18.20

From winning teams to winning campaigns, your Sunday buffet of Florida politics, sports, culture & more.

Good Sunday morning.

How ’bout them Noles? How ’bout them Rays?

🏈 — Jordan Travis ran for two touchdowns and threw a scoring pass to help Florida State build a big first-half lead, and the Seminoles held off No. 5 North Carolina 31-28 on Saturday night.

⚾ — Randy Arozarena homered again, 36-year-old Charlie Morton was brilliant against his former team and the Rays silenced the Houston Astros 4-2 to reach the World Series for just the second time.

How ’bout them Rays? Image via AP.

🏆 — Other winners this week? Click here to read #FlaPol’s choice for Winner and Loser of the Week in Florida politics.

😷 — Meanwhile, Florida reported another uptick in new coronavirus infections on Saturday, surging to more than 4,000 cases — the highest number in two months.


As for the election, overall turnout in Florida as of Saturday evening was 17.1%, with Democrats holding a more than 8.2% advantage over Republicans (22.7% for Dems and 14.5% for Republicans).

But here is the rub: the GOP has a lot more voters who are the most likely to cast a ballot.

79% of Republicans who voted in all of the previous four elections have yet to cast a ballot. Democrats have 65.3% of their 4/4 voters. This represents a 474,484 voter advantage for Republicans.

Likewise, among voters who voted in three of the past four elections, Republicans have 87% yet to vote while Democrats have 73.9% of their 3/4’s remaining. This represents a 70,643 voter advantage for Republicans.

One smart Republican consultant told me there are two things to watch for by this time next week: 1. Is there a surge in Republicans using ballot drop-off boxes for their VBMs because of distrust of the post office? 2. Is there a surge in Republicans going to in-person early vote?

— Florida recount redux — 

537 Votes,” a new documentary on the 2000 presidential recount, drops this week on HBO. Miami’s own Billy Corben, who directed the film, spoke to Florida Politics about the state’s role in that recount and whether we’re in store for a repeat in 2020.

Doc description:With humor, verve and new insights, 537 Votes exposes the key players who contributed to the chaos in the contested Florida county, featuring interviews and archival footage of insiders and political operatives at the time,” reads a release promoting the new film. “537 Votes pulls back the curtain on a momentous episode in electoral politics, revealing that it was more than just faulty ballots that impacted such a decisive episode of American history.”

Lessons learned: “As Fernand Amandi says in the documentary, ‘Close elections can be stolen,’” Corben said, arguing George Bush and Republicans played dirty to beat Al Gore. “That’s what happened in 2000 and there’s no reason to think it can’t or won’t happen again, particularly in a state like Florida where elections are decided in the margins.”

Miami-Dade drama: “Everybody agreed — on both sides of the aisle that we spoke with on camera and off — that the end of the Miami-Dade County recount was effectively the end of the election. It was the first domino, it was the beginning of the end, and everything that followed was essentially inevitable.”

Recount repeat? “I think it’s just a matter of: how many Brooks Brothers riots, or episodes like the Brooks Brothers riot, will we see in this country?” Corben said, arguing there could be plenty of wrangling again this cycle. “And who knows how many Floridas, circa 2000, there will be this year in the 2020 election — which is to say close swing states with a small margin that Donald Trump will use to call into question the legitimacy of the election.”

“Easy to watch, tough to digest,” is how Corben describes the film. “This is a political heist movie. So it’s fun, but there’s definitely a lot of anxiety on election night and there’s a lot of PTSD.” The new doc, executive-produced by Adam McKay and Todd Schulman, will air Wednesday from 9-11 p.m. on HBO.

To watch the trailer, click on the image below:

— Florida, Florida, Florida —

It was a big weekend for campaigning in Florida, particularly for the Donald Trump campaign, trying to bridge polling deficits in the Sunshine State. Here are some takeaways from the most recent events and rallies.

CVS, Walgreens vaccine partnership. Speaking in Fort Myers, Trump announced a partnership with the two major pharmaceutical chains to provide free vaccines, when available, to senior citizens who reside in nursing homes or assisted living facilities. “I’m moving heaven and earth to safeguard our seniors from the China virus, to deliver lifesaving therapies in record time and to distribute a safe and effective vaccine before the end of the year,” Trump said.

Mask schmask. Also in Fort Myers, Trump urged a group of senior citizens gathered for his rally to stay home to protect themselves from the pandemic. The call was rich, considering attendees were already gathered … at an indoor event where mask-wearing was not mandated.

Once again, all eyes are on Florida.

Blame game. Speaking in Ocala, Trump said he’d blame Gov. Ron DeSantis if he loses Florida this election, a statement that raised eyebrows considering the Governor is a staunch Trump ally. “Hey Ron, are we gonna win the state, please?” Trump asked. If Florida doesn’t return a Trump victory next month, Trump said, “I’m blaming the Governor” and said he would “find a way” to “fire him somehow.”

Guilty by association? During his Ocala rally, Trump repeatedly referred to U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz as “Rick Gates.” The name mix-up would be embarrassing enough on its own, but it’s even worse considering Gates, not Gaetz, is a former Trump aide who pled guilty to charges related to Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Wuhan Flu. Donald Trump Jr. stopped in Pinellas County this week to speak to a crowd at Quaker Steak and Lube, where he employed a stand-up comedy approach to blasting Joe Biden and his son over the Burisma revelations. That segued into Biden’s perceived inability to be tough on China, prompting the younger Trump to resort to referring to COVID-19 both as the China virus and the Wuhan flu.

So macho. Arriving in Ocala, Trump descended the stairs from his smaller aircraft to the late 70s hit from The Village People, “Macho Man.” For some, this was hilarious. The song’s lyrics describe the type of man who hits the gym and is eye candy for the ladies. Given his midsection, that doesn’t quite fit with the President’s physique.

Bullet in the head? During an interview with a Trump supporter waiting in line to see the President in Ocala, another reporter off-screen can be heard lamenting ABC News with the words: “Put a bullet in your head, buddy I got one.”

— Election Day before Election Day —

Almost the entire state: Early voting begins Monday in 51 of the state’s 67 counties.

Is yours on the list: Early voting will be available in Alachua, Bradford, Brevard, Broward, Calhoun, Charlotte, Citrus, Clay, Collier, DeSoto, Duval, Escambia, Flagler, Franklin, Gadsden, Hendry, Hernando, Hillsborough, Holmes, Indian River, Jackson, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lake, Lee, Leon, Levy, Madison, Manatee, Marion, Martin, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Nassau, Okaloosa, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Santa Rosa, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Johns, St. Lucie, Taylor, Volusia, Wakulla and Washington counties. 

What about the other 16 counties: All counties are required to offer early voting from Oct. 24 to Oct. 31, so the rest of the state will open polling places then. Counties have the option to begin early voting as soon as Monday and can extend it to Nov. 1.

About those mail ballots: Most election officials recommend mailing at least one week before the election, which is Nov. 3. That leaves time to figure out those amendments and research judicial retention questions. The last recommended day to mail a ballot is Tuesday, Oct. 27.

— Trump trailing in Pinellas —

In 2016, Trump won Pinellas County by just over a point on his way to grabbing Florida’s 29 electoral votes. A new St. Polls Pete survey shows Trump not only losing Pinellas — but losing it bigly.

The results: According to St. Pete Polls, Democratic nominee Joe Biden is walloping Trump in Pinellas by a 55%-42% margin. Less than 2% of voters plan to vote third-party, while another 2% are still undecided.

The turnaround: If Trump is truly down 13 points in Pinellas, that represents a seismic swing from 2016. Trump won the county 48%-47% over then-Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson secured the remaining 3%.

Joe Biden is making headway in bellwether Pinellas County.

The breakdown: Biden’s best age demographic in the St. Pete Polls survey is with those aged 50-69, where he’s beating Trump by 17 points. Biden’s second-best demo is with those 70 or older, where he has a 14-point lead. Biden leads by only 9 points with respondents between 18 and 29 years old.

Survey stats: The St. Pete Polls survey ran on Wednesday, Oct. 14 and sampled 1,724 likely Pinellas voters. It has a 2.4-percentage point margin of error, meaning Biden’s big lead appears to be legitimate.

Trump has earned some good news in a few isolated polls showing him overperforming with Hispanics compared to 2016. But if Trump continues bleeding support in other communities and with older voters, Biden may very well be favored in Florida. A win here would lock Trump out of most of his viable paths to the White House.

— Latinx voters boost Biden —

“Fuera Trump,” an effort aimed at boosting Hispanic turnout to oust Trump, is organizing a car caravan today in Miami to support Biden’s bid. The campaign’s name translates to “Beat Trump” in English.

Honk if you’re voting: The parade will take place at 1 p.m. Sunday in Miami. With social distancing measures in effect, Biden and Trump’s backers have repeatedly resorted to bar and boat parades to voice support for their candidate of choice.

Members of Latinx activist group Mijente are calling to ‘Fuera Trump.’

GOTV: Sunday’s car caravan will also be paired with a get-out-the-vote effort, where Fuera Trump volunteers will go door-to-door to reach Latinx voters. According to organizers, they’ve already knocked on more than 100,000 doors and spoken to 31,000 voters across Florida, Arizona, Georgia and North Carolina.

Brought to you by: Mijente, which describes itself as “a national organizing hub for Latinx and Chicanx voters,” helped launch the Fuera Trump campaign. Mijente partnered in the effort with New Florida Majority and FLIC Votes in Florida.

Coveted demographic: Trump is hoping to build on his 2016 support among Hispanics to win Florida again. With Trump struggling among other demographics, any effort to stop Latinx voters from voting red could doom the President’s prospects this fall.

— Cutting to the chase —

Rep. Shevrin Jones, a top Florida surrogate for the Biden presidential bid, hosts a barbershop discussion Monday aimed at mobilizing Black voters in South Florida. Sen. Oscar Braynon II, Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert III and other local lawmakers will also appear.

Who: In addition to Jones, Braynon and Gilbert, Biden African American Vote Director Clifton Addison and DNC Vice Chair Michael Blake are also attending. Coral Springs Commissioner Joshua Simmons, West Park Commissioner Brandon Smith and Miami Gardens Councilman Robert Stephens will also be on hand.

Shevrin Jones wants to ‘Cut to The Chase.’

What: According to a release on the “Cut to the Chase” event, “Local leaders and organizers will discuss the challenges impacting Black men, including the economic recovery, access to health care, and criminal justice reform.” The in-person event will follow social distancing guidelines and be limited to 20 people.

Where and when: The meeting will take place at The Palace Barbershop at 5600 Pembroke Rd in West Park on Monday at 6 p.m. The event will also be livestreamed at the Facebook pages for Biden and Rep. Jones.

Why: The gathering is part of the “Black Men, VOTE!” campaign launched by Jones in late September in concert with the Biden campaign. Monday’s barbershop event comes just days after Biden visited South Florida for two in-person events.

— Money flows into CD 26 — 

Outside groups are continuing to empty their wallets in the race for Florida’s 26th Congressional District. The Latino Victory Fund and House Majority PAC add to that pot as they contribute a six-figure ad buy backing Democratic Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell.

En la radio: The cash will go toward Spanish radio ads set to air on South Florida stations. According to a release, the ad “highlights Debbie Mucarsel-Powell’s immigrant roots and her support for working families and small businesses disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.”

Outside money is pouring in to help Debbie Mucarsel-Powell defeat Republican Carlos Giménez.

Digital too: The Latino Victory Fund is also behind a digital ad campaign boosting Mucarsel-Powell’s reelection bid. The race with Republican Carlos Giménez is expected to be tight, as Mucarsel-Powell won the seat in 2018 by just 2 points.

In their own words: “Over the past two years, Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell has been a champion for affordable health care, gun safety, the environment, and immigration reform,” said Mayra Macías, the Latino Victory Fund executive director. “Latino Victory Fund is proud to fight on Congresswoman Mucarsel-Powell’s behalf and ensure voters are aware of her lifelong commitment and service to the working families of South Florida.”

The DCCC and NRCC have both been active in the contest. The Congressional Leadership Fund has also launched several ads supporting Giménez. This past week, the League of Conservation Voters added $720,000 to aid Mucarsel-Powell.   

— Must-see TV —

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

CD 13: Republican Anna Paulina Luna made a $44K broadcast buy lasting through Oct. 22 in the Tampa market. She also spent $51K on Facebook and Google ads. Democratic U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist spent $24K on broadcast for ads running through Oct. 26. Luna has now spent $714K on ads this cycle, while Crist has spent $1.75M.

Expect to see more Anna Paulina Luna on Tampa Bay airwaves.

CD 16: Republican U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan placed a $165K broadcast buy to run ads through Election Day. Democratic challenger Margaret Good spent $126K on a TV flight lasting through Oct. 21 — $46K will go toward broadcast ads and $78K will go toward cable. Buchanan has spent $1.17M on ads to date. Good has spent $1.39M.

CD 18: Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Mast made a $98K buy for TV ads in the West Palm Beach market. The spend puts Mast’s ads on broadcast and cable through Oct. 25. Mast also spent 13K on Facebook and Google ads. He has now spent $1.15M on ads this cycle.

CD 26: The National Republican Congressional Committee spent $54K on a cable flight backing Republican Giménez lasting through Oct. 26. The Gimenez campaign put another $42K into broadcast ads running through Oct. 26. Gimenez and affiliated groups have spent a combined $9.82M this cycle. Meanwhile, Democratic U.S. Rep. Mucarsel-Powell and committees supporting her have spent $12.58M.

SD 9: The Florida Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee placed a $123K broadcast buy for ads supporting Patricia Sigman. They will run through Oct. 20 in the Orlando market.

SD 39: The Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee spent $378K on a broadcast buy supporting Ana Maria Rodriguez. The ads will run through Oct. 27 in the Miami market.

— Look ahead —

Reps. Anna Eskamani and Blaise Ingoglia talked about the presidential race with Tiger Bay clubs around the state Friday in a virtual debate but found time to talk about the big issues

Hard agree: Both Eskamani and Ingoglia agreed that the budget would be a major talking point when the organizational session begins next month.

Tap the reserves?: Ingoglia, a Republican from Spring Hill, said that while the state has to “deliver on promises to Floridians,” it’s got to be done “in a smart way, where we’re not raising taxes and hurting everyday Floridians.”

Anna Eskamani and Blaise Ingoglia are opposites politically but agree that the state budget will be a big issue next Session.

Who CARES?: Eskamani, unlike Ingoglia, helpfully spotlighted billions of dollars in federal coronavirus relief spending distributed to the Governor’s Office but not allocated for more local needs “to get relief to those who desperately need it.”

Jobs not mobs: The Orlando Democrat also spotlighted the state’s lingering unemployment crisis and “other crises we’re seeing,” such as “affordable housing.” Tourism-dependent Central Florida has seen one of the deepest troughs of any region in the state since COVID-19 killed the sector’s previously bankable revenue streams.

— Political paramours —

Can love and politics mix? It’s gone fine so far for Rachel Brown and Anselm Weber, two first-time candidates running respective for Senate District 27 and House District 77. The two Democratic candidates met four years ago as students at Florida Gulf Coast University and now phone bank from a shared home.

Co-Recruits: Both are part of a progressive effort to run Democrats for every legislative seat, even in GOP-heavy Lee County. Previously a volunteer with NextGen Florida, Weber signed up first to run in the House district near FGCU. Brown, a Naples native who founded a local Sunrise Movement chapter, jumped into the Senate race about a month later.

Anselm Weber and Rachel Brown show that love and politics can mix.

Canvassing partners: “It’s helpful that his House district is almost entirely contained in my Senate district,” Brown said. The two go door-to-door in tandem and frequently share the story they both will appear on the same ballot.

Different angles: The pairs politics don’t conflict, but they come at policy from separate perspectives. Weber, a History major, sees through a civil rights prism. ”My focus has been on mass incarceration, and that’s why I’m interested in politics,” he said. Brown, an environmental engineering major, started a climate champion and prioritizes environmental causes.

Running bills: In the event both won seats, what would governing look like? “It would be awesome,” Brown figures. She doesn’t expect conflicts and could see them working together on matters within their respective legislative chambers.

— Brunching out  — 

The Original Bagel Bagel — Unless you’re in the know — or you’re a student — it’s easy to miss this longtime bagel and sandwich shop, tucked away in a small Pensacola Street strip shopping center for nearly three decades.

Backstory: Owner John Stout was only 23 when he opened The Original Bagel Bagel in 1991. His father was in the military, so even at that young age, Stout was well-traveled and worked in restaurants around the country.

The Menu: Stout offers a huge selection that includes breakfast wraps, egg sandwiches and classic bagel combos like cream cheese and lox. He also offers lots of sandwiches, including two dozen hot versions and six veggie picks, plus salads and bagels (which come from the Bronx) that you can take home. Pair any item with Lucky Goat coffee. 

Our Order: My husband and I ended up sharing three items and liked them all. A ham, egg and cheese sandwich is an open-faced sandwich, with a generous serving of sliced ham, scrambled eggs and provolone cheese baked in a 1,200-degree oven, so it has those little toasty spots. The Reuben is packed high with corned beef, provolone, sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing on Pumpernickel rye swirl bread. The Bloomin’ Beef Sandwich brings thinly sliced beef, fried onions, melted provolone, a Southwest sauce and au jus for dipping. And we also took home a few bagels, with that desirable chewy, but not too chewy, tug. Whether you like a schmear or a dollop of hummus, The Original Bagel Bagel has you covered.

The Original Bagel Bagel might be easy to miss, but it is definitely worth the find. Image via Tallahassee Table.

The deets:

Hours: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

GPS: 2401 W. Pensacola St.

Phone: 850-574-1814

Via Rochelle Koff.

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


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, Renzo Downey, Rick Flagg, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Joe Henderson, Janelle Irwin, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Jesse Scheckner, Scott Powers, Andrew Wilson, and Kelly Hayes.

Email: [email protected]
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