Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 10.20.20

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

🌍 — Globally, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases passed 40 million Monday, though the actual number is likely much higher due to testing shortfalls, asymptomatic cases and some countries not reporting data.

😨 — A new Gallup survey found that 85% of Democrats in 2020 say this election matters more to them than recent ones, up 16 points from 2016.

🗳️ — It was pointed out to me yesterday that these two things are true: 1. Joe Biden has a lead in national polls, as well as leads in many key states, and his positions are stronger on several fronts than Hillary Clinton’s were in 2016. But, 2. polls have margins of error and while millions of people have already voted, the millions yet to cast ballots can still change their minds.

Joe Biden has the lead, but it is 2020, and anything could happen. Image via AP.

📰 — Before any Democrat gets too confident, theses two articles: “Joe Biden leads Donald Trump. So did Hillary Clinton. For Democrats, it’s a worrisome campaign déjà vu” via Michael Scherer and Scott Clement of The Washington Post and “The hidden factors that could produce a surprise Trump victory” via David Siders of POLITICO.

🪒 — Just off embargo: A new poll of likely Florida voters, conducted by the Public Opinion Research Lab at the University of North Florida, shows Biden with a razor-close, one-point lead over Trump, 48% to 47%.

👨🏾 — It’s Rep. Anthony Sabatini‘s birthday.

📘 — Happening tomorrow — Midtown Reader’s Sally Bradshaw hosts a Zoom discussion with GOP operative Stuart Stevens to talk about the future of the Republican Party and the release of his provocative bestseller “It Was All a Lie.” The conversation will be from 6 to 7 p.m. Register here.

Stuart Stevens will talk with Sally Bradshaw about how the GOP got so out of whack.


@MKRaju: As Trump attacks [Anthony] Fauci and calls him a “disaster,” he was just awarded the National Academy of Medicine’s first-ever Presidential Citation for Exemplary Leadership

@SenAlexander: Dr. Fauci is one of our country’s most distinguished public servants. He has served 6 presidents, starting with Ronald Reagan. If more Americans paid attention to his advice, we’d have fewer cases of COVID-19, & it would be safer to go back to school & back to work & out to eat.

@Sen_JoeManchin: Please, Mr. President — have you no decency and respect? Dr. Fauci has served the American people for 6 administrations — both Democrats and Republicans. He has always prioritized the health and safety of the American people.

@AlCardenasFL_DC: its 2 weeks before elections but dancing & partying at political rallies, Mr. President is insensitive. 1000s dead, millions infected; 8 million more poor Americans in 2020 & so much division. Maturity, empathy & an understanding of the moment/crisis at hand is what’s needed. Grow up

@KevinMKruse: First, Trump World complained that Biden was like Mr. Rogers. Then they leaked the loving texts he sent to his son. What’s their next bombshell going to be? Biden smells like warm chocolate chip cookies?

@ExxonMobil: We are aware of the President’s statement regarding a hypothetical call with our CEO … and just so we’re all clear, it never happened.

@ZekeJMiller: Per the FAA, Trump plans to overnight in Palm Beach, Fla. on Thursday and Friday. It appears rallies are in store Friday in The Villages and Pensacola.

@Redistrict: Final weeks of 2016: massive Dem denial about district-level polling that showed Trump breaking through (see replies to this tweet). Final weeks of 2020: massive Dem paranoia, even though district-level polling consistently shows Trump running well behind his ’16 margins.

Tweet, tweet:

@FSUPresThrasher: I am happy to share that Jean and I were cleared Friday by the Florida DOH after testing positive for COVID-19 earlier this month, and we are resuming many of our regular activities. We are feeling good and appreciate all the prayers, and well wishes!


HBO debuts 2000 presidential election doc ‘537 Votes’ — 1; third presidential debate (tentative) at Belmont — 2; “The Empty Man” premieres — 3; 2020 General Election — 14; NBA 2020-21 training camp — 21; FITCon Policy Conference begins — 23; The Masters begins — 23; NBA draft — 29; Pixar’s “Soul” premieres — 31; College basketball season slated to begin — 26; NBA 2020-21 opening night — 43; Florida Automated Vehicles Summit — 43; “Death on the Nile” premieres — 58; “Wonder Woman 1984” rescheduled premiere — 66; Greyhound racing ends in Florida — 72; Super Bowl LV in Tampa — 110; “A Quiet Place Part II” rescheduled premiere — 121; “Black Widow” rescheduled premiere — 135; “No Time to Die” premieres (rescheduled) — 164; “Top Gun: Maverick” rescheduled premiere — 255; Disney’s “Shang Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings” premieres — 262; new start date for 2021 Olympics — 276; “Jungle Cruise” premieres — 284; Disney’s “Eternals” premieres — 381; “Spider-Man Far From Home” sequel premieres — 384; Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” premieres — 416; “Thor: Love and Thunder” premieres — 480; “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” premieres — 533; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” sequel premieres — 714.


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 Trump or 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 Monday, 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 Monday, Biden is now up to an 88 in 100 chance of winning compared to Trump, who is still at 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 27.2%, while Florida is second with 14.3%. Wisconsin is now at 13.4%. Other states include Michigan (10.7%), North Carolina (5.8%). Arizona (5.3%) Minnesota (4.8%) and Nevada (3.2%).

Joe Biden’s lead is steady as she goes. Image via AP.

PredictIt: As of Monday, the PredictIt trading market has Biden holding steady at $0.65 a share, with Trump remaining at $0.40.

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

The Economist: As of Monday, their model predicts that 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 (9%). They still give Biden a 99% chance (better than 19 in 20) of winning the most votes, with Trump at only 1% (less than 1 in 20).


Could Trump still pull off an upset?” via Jonathan Bernstein of Bloomberg — Biden has maintained his polling lead over Trump; the FiveThirtyEight polling average has Biden at 52.4% with Trump at 41.9%. That’s a whopping huge lead with only two weeks to go and more than 28 million votes already tabulated. Still, it’s not hard to see where Trump could make up enough ground to win, even though it’s by now an unlikely outcome. So let’s go through one more time all the ways that Trump could do better than the current polls suggest or worse.

Trump keeps talking about losing” via Aaron Blake of The Washington Post — Election Day is just over two weeks away. Tens of millions of voters have cast ballots early, with a huge-but-not-terribly-surprising Democratic advantage among them. And polls show Trump trailing nationally by as much as double-digits and in virtually all the pivotal states by significant margins, just about all of them larger than in his come-from-behind 2016 win. And increasingly, it seems, Trump has losing on the brain.

Why is Donald Trump always talking about losing? Image via AP.

Trump launches a frenzied effort to save his brand” via Nancy Cook of POLITICO — Two weeks since exiting a hospital after being pumped with experimental drugs, Trump is attempting to regain a carefully cultivated persona of the businessman-turned-politician who can travel more than anyone, work (or tweet) at all hours and deliver roaring rally speeches for more than 90 minutes on his feet. It’s an image Trump has promoted throughout his real estate career, his reality show and his presidency, suddenly upended by his COVID-19 diagnosis in the final month of the race. Now, in the middle of a once-in-a-century pandemic and searing recession, Trump is closing out his campaign with this attitude of fighting, dominance and aggression rather than empathy and compassion many undecided voters may want in a moment of national uncertainty.

In final sprint, Trump makes stops his team never expected to need” via Gabby Orr of POLITICO — In the final 18 days before voters decide whether to keep Trump in the White House, the incumbent Republican is spending precious time in states that were never supposed to be this close. Five months after his ex-campaign manager Brad Parscale said Florida was “becoming Trump country,” suburban areas Trump once dominated looked increasingly bleak. Meanwhile, polls in Iowa and North Carolina show dead-heat races between Trump and Biden. “I don’t think there’s any way Georgia goes to Biden, but there’s no reason for Trump not to come here. He doesn’t want to have a Wisconsin moment to look back on come Nov. 4,” said Seth Weathers, the former director of Trump’s Georgia campaign.

Trump taps 2016 brain trust to stage another stunner in 2020” via Alex Isenstadt of POLITICO — The calls come at all hours. Trump — confronting grim poll numbers— has been burning up the phone lines to the people who got him to the White House. Working off a list of cell phone numbers, the president has been reaching out to 2016 campaign loyalists. How, he wants to know, can he pull this off? Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie, two key players during Trump’s first run before they were frozen out of his political organization, have reemerged as key advisers. Bossie was recently dispatched to make peace between a key campaign operative and Ron DeSantis, the governor of must-win Florida.

2016 sequel? Trump’s old attacks failing to land on Joe Biden” via Jonathan Lemire and Jill Colvin of The Associated Press — Trump stood before a crowd in a state that had once been firmly in his grasp. There were fewer than three weeks left in the campaign, one reshaped by a virus that has killed more than 215,000 Americans, and he was running out of time to change the trajectory of the race. He posed a question. “Did you hear the news?” the president asked the hopeful crowd. “Bruce Ohr is finally out of the Department of Justice.” There were scattered cheers in the crowd as the President then detailed the fate of a mostly forgotten, minor figure in the Russia probe that feels like a lifetime of news cycles ago.

The stunning extent to which Trumpism is centered among Fox News-watching Republicans” via Philip Bump of The Washington Post — From the outset of his presidency, or, really, his 2016 campaign, Trump’s approach to politics has been to get those who agree with him to agree with him more and more and more. There’s been no discernible or extended effort to woo his skeptics and little effort to expand his base beyond what it was four years ago. A new poll from PRRI documents the extent to which Trump’s most energetic base of support overlaps with those who are most likely to trust Fox News for television news. Overall, about 4 in 10 Americans approve of the job Trump is doing, for example, most of them Republicans.

Behind in polls, Republicans see a silver lining in voter registrations” via Stephanie Saul of The New York Times — With Trump trailing in public polls in nearly every major battleground state, Republicans are pointing to what they see as more promising data: Updated voter registration tallies show that Republicans have narrowed the gap with Democrats in three critical states. As the presidential campaign heads into its final weeks, Republicans hope that gains in voter registration in the three states and heavy turnout by those new party members might just be enough to propel Trump to a second term.

Vice President Mike Pence scheduled to visit Tallahassee on Saturday” via the Tallahassee Democrat staff reports — Pence is scheduled to make a Trump-Pence 2020 campaign stop in Tallahassee this Saturday. On Monday, Katie Miller, Pence’s communications director, tweeted Pence’s schedule for the week, showing stops in Tallahassee and Jacksonville but offering no details. Miller’s tweet shows the Vice President in Maine and Pennsylvania Monday and attending a White House coronavirus task force meeting Tuesday. Pence will be in New Hampshire and Ohio Wednesday, followed by Michigan and Indiana Thursday and attending early voting in Indiana and Pittsburgh on Friday. Pence was governor of Indiana 2013-17.

Opening day of early voting in Florida draws thousands” via Amy Gardner, Michael Majchrowicz and Lori Rozsa of The Washington Post — Thousands of voters flocked to the polls throughout Florida on the state’s first day of in-person voting Monday despite heavy rain across the state, adding to evidence that Americans are unusually eager to cast ballots in this year’s presidential election. In Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Sarasota, St. Petersburg and many other Florida communities, voters lined up before polls opened to cast their ballots in person at the first available moment. Kyle Woodard, a 44-year-old schoolteacher from Pompano Beach, said, “it’s just a really important year to vote,” after casting his ballot at the African American Research Museum in Fort Lauderdale.

Florida shatters opening day record for early voting” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO — More than 350,000 voters, some of whom were treated to pizza by singer Ariana Grande while they waited in line, easily surpassed 2016 numbers when 291,000 people voted on the first day of in-person early voting, which includes 52 of Florida’s 67 counties.  Democrats have a significant pre-Election Day lead, built by a more than 450,000 vote-by-mail lead, through Monday, but Republicans insist they are just “cannibalizing” their in-person vote. Put another way, they say Democrats are not gaining additional voters, but that voters in candidate Joe Biden’s party are just changing how they participate because of Democrats’ greater emphasis on voting by mail during a global pandemic.

On the first day, Florida shatters records for early voting. Image via AP.

—”Lines form on Florida’s first day of early voting” via Stephen Dowell, Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda, Charles King of the Orlando Sentinel

—”Floridians line up on first day of early voting as Orange elections website goes down” via Caroline Glenn and Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel

—”Florida’s early voting off to smooth start across Tampa Bay” via Allison Ross, Caitlin Johnston, Juan Carlos Chavez, Anastasia Dawson and Bailey LeFever of the Tampa Bay Times

Kamala Harris visits Orlando to mobilize voters on first day of early voting in Florida” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — With 15 days until Election Day, the presidential campaigns have prioritized turning out voters in and around Orlando, one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the country. Harris‘ brief stop at the Central Florida Fairgrounds followed visits earlier this month by Trump, who held tarmac rallies in nearby Sanford and Ocala, and Pence, who has visited Orlando and The Villages in recent weeks.

Doug Emhoff urges early voting to Lake Worth Beach-area crowd: ‘If we win Florida, it’s game over’” via Wendy Rhodes of The Palm Beach Post —Emhoff, husband of vice presidential hopeful Kamala Harris, hit South Florida on Monday to kick off the state’s first day of in-person early voting and rally support for his wife and former Vice President Joe Biden. As voters at the Lantana Road Branch Library in suburban Lake Worth Beach braved long lines and bands of relentless downpours, Emhoff and others helped rile up supporters in the parking lot. He was joined by Rep. Lois Frankel; Florida Democratic Party chair Terrie Rizzo; Palm Beach County Commissioner Mack Bernard; and state Sen. Lori Berman.

—“Matt Gaetz rides Team Trump bus into Tallahassee; Jack Porter rallies Democrats” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat

—“Matt Gaetz, Jeanette Núñez to headline Tuesday MAGA Meet-Up for Donald Trump” via Jim Thompson of the Northwest Florida Daily News

Trump voted by mail in Florida’s primary. Will he do it again in November?” via Samantha J. Gross of the Miami Herald — If Trump plans to vote by mail in the general election as he did in Florida’s August primary, he’ll have to act fast. Neither the President nor First Lady Melania Trump have requested a mail ballot, the Palm Beach County elections website shows, and they only have until Saturday to request one. Trump spent months criticizing the legitimacy of mail voting before reversing course earlier this summer when he tweeted an endorsement of the process, calling Florida’s vote by mail system “tried and true.” If the Trumps plan to vote by mail, the way 226,523 of their fellow Palm Beach County residents already have, they must request a mail ballot 10 days before Election Day, and that means by Oct. 24.

To reassure ‘scared’ voters, Miami police increase presence at early voting sites” via Charles Rabin of the Miami Herald — Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and Police Chief Jorge Colina said the city had canceled all vacation and days off for sworn officers for the next two weeks and will deploy plainclothes detectives near the city’s four early voting sites. Though there are no reported credible threats toward voting places, the extra efforts are intended to reassure jittery voters. “We’ve received emails and messages from lots of scared people,” said Suarez, who was flanked by two city commissioners and several members of Miami’s police brass. Miami-Dade police said they intend to make sure roadways leading in and out of voting sites remain clear and that they’re freeing up officers to respond quickly to any concerns.

A Broward poll worker tried to remove maskless voters. Elections chief let them vote” via Aaron Leibowitz of the Miami Herald — Police responded to an early voting site in Fort Lauderdale on Monday after a poll worker told four voters they couldn’t vote without masks. But after police consulted with Broward County Elections Supervisor Peter Antonacci, the voters were allowed back into the polling place to cast their ballots, still without masks on. At around 12:45 p.m. at Coral Ridge Mall, police were called after a dispute between a poll worker and the group of maskless voters, according to a police report. Initially, police escorted them outside, where the voters claimed they had medical conditions that prevented them from wearing masks and “insisted they were allowed to vote.”

Hawkfish, Steve Schale say voter trends encouraging for Democrats” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Democrats should be encouraged but not planning any celebrations yet based on voting trends seen through vote-by-mail and the first hours of early voting, two key party strategists said Monday morning. Hawkfish CEO Josh Mendelsohn and Democratic strategist Schale told journalists Monday that the numbers of Democrats voting so far not only far exceeds those of Republicans, but they are seeing a larger turnout of “expansion” voters, those who wouldn’t be considered likely voters. That should suggest Democrats have expanded their base and not just turned it out early. “The biggest thing about 2020 when you start thinking about this data, when you start looking at this data, is to understand there is no model for it,” Schale said “

A tad prematureBiden would revamp fraying intel community” via Natasha Bertrand and Kyle Cheney of POLITICO — Trump’s actions, and the endless partisan battles over the Russia probe and impeachment, have left the intelligence community bruised and battered. Biden’s advisers and allies in Congress are already thinking about what a heavy lift it will be to restore morale inside the agencies, legitimacy on Capitol Hill, and public trust in the intelligence community’s leadership should Biden defeat Trump in November, according to more than a dozen people close to the candidate. One approach Biden is considering, others said: placing people in charge who are experienced and who are already familiar faces to the intelligence community and its oversight bodies.

Let’s have Joe Biden win first before speculating on what he will do in office.

Orlando company president’s letter to employees raises specter of layoffs if Biden wins” via Richard Tribou of the Orlando Sentinel — Workers at a Central Florida manufacturing firm received a letter from the company’s president that warned of potential layoffs if Biden beat Trump in the upcoming election, according to a report from WESH. The TV station got a copy of the letter sent by George Daniels, president of Daniels Manufacturing Corp., based in Orlando, that stated, “If Trump and the Republicans win, DMC will hopefully be able to continue operating, more or less as it has been operating lately. However, if Biden and the Democrats win, DMC could be forced to begin permanent layoffs beginning in late 2020 and/or early 2021.”

Supreme Court denies Pennsylvania GOP request to limit mail-in voting” via Axios staff reports — The Supreme Court denied a request from Pennsylvania’s Republican Party to shorten the deadlines for mail-in ballots in the state. Thanks to the court’s 4-4 deadlock, ballots can be counted for several days after Election Day. It’s a major win for Democrats that could decide thousands of ballots’ fate in a crucial swing state that Trump won in 2016. The court’s decision may signal how it would deal with similar election-related litigation in other states. The deadlock underscores the importance for Republicans of confirming Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.


— 2020 — 

Final tally: Group says 67,000 felons registered in Florida after Amendment 4” via Gary Fineout of POLITICO Florida — A group that pushed to restore voting rights to Florida felons said Monday that slightly more than 67,000 people registered to vote after passage of its citizen initiative. That’s a far cry from the roughly 1.4 million people that organizers hoped to add to the voting rolls. Voters overwhelmingly approved Amendment 4, which was designed to restore voting rights to most felons, in 2018. Still, the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature passed a law a year later, placing additional restrictions on felons seeking to register to vote. Desmond Meade, the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition executive director, still hailed the overall numbers and called it a “historical” moment.

It may not be anywhere close to the 1.4 million registered ex-felons expected after Amendment 4, but Desmond Meade says it’s a start. Image via AP.

Progressive Turnout Project touts voter contact numbers — As Florida begins early voting, Progressive Turnout Project is blasting out stats that it says will help Democrats turn the state blue on Election Day. PTP said it had completed 106,513 phone conversations, including 38,792 conversations about vote-by-mail, resulting in 40,087 commitments to vote from inconsistent voters. “Joe Biden needs Florida to win this election,” said Alex Morgan, Executive Director of Progressive Turnout Project. “That’s why our team is having in-depth, one-on-one conversations with inconsistent Democratic voters in Florida who we need to turn out this fall. We are talking with voters about what motivates them and what’s at stake on the ballot, and helping them make and execute a plan to vote.”

Alan Cohn rakes in more than $900K in Q3, outraises Scott Franklin nearly 2-1” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — In finance reports covering August and September, Cohn raised nearly double what Franklin raised, as the two face off in the race for Florida’s 15th Congressional District. In his third quarter finance report, Cohn brought in $983,924, a record fundraising quarter for CD 15. The previous record for a fundraising quarter in CD 15 was $600,879, set by Kristen Carlson in 2018. Cohn’s haul this quarter brings his total funds raised to $1,572,844. Franklin, a Republican, raised $517,959 in Q3, bringing his total fundraising to $1,105,401. Franklin has contributed $400,000 in loans to his campaign as well.

New ad buys:

CD 15: Democratic nominee Cohn spent $78,994 on a new broadcast flight running Oct. 20-26 in the Tampa media market. The DCCC added $23,950 to the flight, making a total spend of $102,944 for the week.


First in Sunburn — Nikki Fried sends $100K to down-ballot Democrats — Agriculture Commissioner Fried announced Monday that she is sending $100,000 from her political committee to down-ballot Democratic candidates. The money will head to more than 50 candidates in addition to contributions to House Victory, Senate Victory, and the Florida Democratic Party. “Florida Democrats have the opportunity to flip several legislative and municipal seats throughout the state, but the candidates can’t do it without support,” Fried said. “I’ve committed to seeing that they have not just financial support but the political support to help them win. We have an incredible slate of candidates up and down the ballot who I am proud to endorse and will do everything I can to see them elected on November 3rd.”

Nikki Fried is helping down-ballot Democrats, to the tune of $100K.

Mystery donor spends $180K on Florida political mail” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO — It calls itself “The Truth,” but little else is known about a new Florida political committee, its seemingly untraceable donor, or $180,000 in the mail it funded just days after its formation. The Truth filed its paperwork with Florida election officials on Oct. 2, naming Hailey DeFilippis as the committee chair, treasurer, and registered agent. DeFilippis is not associated with any other Florida political committee and has never been paid for political work, expenditure reports show. It could not be determined how or on whose behalf the money was ultimately spent. “Wow, somebody is going through a lot of trouble to hide the source of that money and how it is spent,” said Ben Wilcox, research director with Integrity Florida.

‘Emotional roller coaster’: Loranne Ausley talks the toll of attack ads” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — Rep. Ausley on Sunday described her Senate District 3 race as an “emotional roller coaster” that made her wonder if she should “walk away.” To date, GOP leadership has spent thousands to attack Ausley via television and mail. The race is widely considered among the most contentious in the state. “It’s definitely an emotional roller coaster,” Ausley said on the Sean Pittman Show. “I’m tough, but it’s still hard when I get two to three mail pieces every single day in my own mailbox with all kinds of lies and distortions.” SD 3 voters have been inundated for months with attack ads against Ausley. Some ads allege Ausley wrongfully financed her campaign with federal coronavirus relief funds; others claim she neglected her constituents during a Hurricane Michael budget vote.

Jason Fischer defends House seat against Ben Marcus” via Christopher Hong of The Florida Times-Union — Fischer will face Marcus, a Democratic newcomer, in the November election for a chance at a third term in the Florida State Legislature. Fischer, an engineer with HNTB and former member of the Duval County School Board member, was elected in 2016 to represent District 16, which spans southern Jacksonville and includes Mandarin and Baymeadows. Marcus is a nonprofit consultant making his first run for public office. Fischer said he would continue focusing on education, especially increasing funding for local public schools. Fischer said the state increased funding to the Duval County schools by $30 million during his last term. He said he also secured state funding for the Jacksonville School for Autism and other disability programs.

Jason Fischer is defending his seat against political newcomer Ben Marcus.

Poll: Julie Jenkins grows lead over incumbent Jackie Toledo to nearly 10 points” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Rep. Toledo continues to trail Jenkins, according to the latest survey of Florida House District 60 voters from St. Pete Polls. Jenkins leads Toledo more than 50% to just under 41%, a nearly ten-point spread that spells bad news for the Republican incumbent. Since the last poll in the district, Jenkins has grown her lead, taken in mid-September, that found Jenkins leading six points at 48% to 42%. Jenkins’ lead is consistent with voter preferences at the top of the ticket, with Biden leading Trump 11 points at 54% to 43%.


Florida coronavirus: Resident deaths surpass 16,000, worldwide cases pass 40M” via Garfield Hylton of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida added 1,707 coronavirus cases Monday to bring the statewide total to 756,727 cases. With 54 new virus fatalities reported statewide, more than 16,000 Florida residents are now dead. Each report includes deaths from several previous days, as it can take two weeks or more for fatalities to be logged. Testing has declined statewide to a daily average of about 23,400 since September 1. That’s down from about 32,000 daily tests on average in August and 54,400 a day in July. Over 5.7 million people have been tested in Florida, with 16,895 more tests reported on Monday than the previous day.


Tampa General to add coronavirus treatment unit” via C.T. Bowen of the Tampa Bay Times — Tampa General Hospital is creating a new center for infectious diseases to treat COVID-19 patients. The hospital is renovating an existing building to create a 59-bed intensive care unit and up to 45 so-called “surge readiness” beds dedicated to treating COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. Hillsborough County is expected to contribute up to $4.5 million in federal CARES Act dollars to cover half the construction and equipment costs. The project has an estimated price tag of $8.2 million. The renovations will be the medical center’s former rehabilitation hospital in a building owned by the county but leased to Tampa General.

Tampa General is establishing a permanent coronavirus unit.

As some Disney workers lose their jobs, their free college education vanishes, too” via Gabrielle Russon of the Orlando Sentinel — Known as Disney Aspire, it was one of the most generous employer education programs in the country. Disney vowed to invest $150 million over five years to help lift workers out of poverty by fully funding their education. The program got started as the company reportedly saved at least $1.6 billion in the first year from the GOP corporate tax cuts. What once felt like winning the lottery is now heartbreak. Last month, Walt Disney Co. revealed it was ending Aspire for at least some of the 28,000 workers it is laying off across the U.S. because of the coronavirus pandemic. About 15,500 of those employees are in Orlando. For some, the decision cuts deeper than missing a steady paycheck.

Glamorous Miami club caught in power struggle over the virus” via Kelli Kennedy of The Associated Press — At LIV, one of the most glamorous, star-studded nightclubs in one of the world’s biggest party destinations, there’s a velvet-roped VIP area, and then there’s a secret VIP area. The club parties are so legendary they have inspired lyrics from Drake, Kanye West and Rick Ross. High rollers spend up to $20,000 just for a table. Today, LIV sits quiet and empty, a casualty not just of the coronavirus outbreak but of a power struggle between state and local government over how to contain the scourge. On a recent Friday, the sleek black floors and curved silver snakeskin couches were a sad sight in the harsh light of day. A bottle of hand sanitizer rested on top of the DJ booth, where back in February, a man shelled out $120,000 just to sit there during a performance by Cardi B.

LIV, one of the most glamorous nightclubs in Miami, is the latest victim of COVID-19. Image via AP. 

Jurors return to Tampa courtrooms with masks, sanitizer, distance” via Dan Sullivan of the Tampa Bay Times — Jury trials returned to Tampa courtrooms Monday, seven months after the coronavirus pandemic forced their suspension statewide. Court business has kept moving through remote hearings and a few socially distant in-person proceedings. But there have been no trials. And the legal system cannot function without them. The 13th Judicial Circuit, which includes Hillsborough County, is the first Tampa Bay area court system to resume jury trials. With trials come new precautions and procedures and new ideas for how courtrooms will operate.

FSU President John Thrasher, wife, Jean, ‘feeling good’ after being cleared of COVID-19” via Byron Dobson of the Tallahassee Democrat — Thrasher and his wife, Jean, are free of COVID-19, the president posted on his Twitter account Monday afternoon. “I am happy to share that Jean and I were cleared Friday by the Florida DOH after testing positive for COVID-19 earlier this month, and we are resuming many of our regular activities,” Thrasher said. “We are feeling good and appreciate all the prayers, and well wishes!” Jean Thrasher learned of her positive diagnosis on Oct. 5 after a recent hospital stay and a local rehabilitation facility for an unrelated condition.


Coronavirus hospitalizations are growing in 37 states as Anthony Fauci warns the world not ‘on the road’ to ending pandemic yet” via Berkeley Lovelace Jr. of CNBC — Coronavirus hospitalizations are growing in a majority of U.S. states as Dr. Fauci warns that the world is not yet “on the road” to ending the pandemic. COVID-19 hospitalizations were growing by 5% or more in 37 states as of Sunday, according to a CNBC analysis of data collected by the COVID Tracking Project, an increase from 36 states a week earlier. Figures are based on weekly averages to smooth out daily reporting. The increase in hospitalizations comes after U.S. cases have grown in recent weeks following a late-summer lull. Over the past seven days, the country has reported an average of about 56,000 new cases per day, up more than 13% compared with a week earlier.

After Dr. Fauci said he’s not surprised Trump got COVID-19, President calls top disease expert a ‘disaster’” via William Cummings and David Jackson of USA Today — Trump blasted Dr. Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, as a “disaster,” a day after Fauci said in an interview that it came as no shock to him when the President tested positive for COVID-19 because Trump regularly eschewed the use of masks “as a statement of strength.” During a conference call with his campaign staff on Monday, Trump said Fauci drops a “bomb” every time he goes on television, but it would be “a bigger bomb if you fire him. This guy’s a disaster.”

A combative Donald Trump calls Dr. Anthony Fauci a ‘disaster.’ Image via AP. 

Trump’s den of dissent: Inside the White House Task Force as coronavirus surges” via Yasmeen Abutaleb, Philip Rucker, Josh Dawsey and Robert Costa of The Washington Post — As summer faded into autumn and the novel coronavirus continued to ravage the nation unabated, Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist whose commentary on Fox News led Trump to recruit him to the White House, consolidated his power over the government’s pandemic response. Atlas shot down attempts to expand testing. He openly feuded with other doctors on the coronavirus task force and succeeded in largely sidelining them. He advanced fringe theories, such as that social distancing and mask-wearing were meaningless and would not have changed the virus’s course in several hard-hit areas. And he advocated allowing infections to spread naturally among most of the population while protecting the most vulnerable and those in nursing homes.


Time’s up: After a reprieve, a wave of evictions expected across U.S.” via Michele Conlin of Reuters — It has been a nightmare year for many of America’s renters. The local, state and federal eviction bans that gave them temporary protection in the spring began to lapse in early summer — ensnaring renters in the gap. September’s reprieve by the CDC, which protected many, but not all, renters will expire in January. At that point, an estimated $32 billion in back rent will come due, with up to 8 million tenants facing eviction filings, according to a tracking tool developed by the global advisory firm Stout Risius and Ross, which works with the nonprofit National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel. The nonprofit group advocates for tenants in eviction court to secure lawyers.


Happening today — The Florida Chamber of Commerce begins its virtual “Future of Florida Forum.” Opening speakers on the first of a three-day event include Sen. Marco Rubio, Gov. Ron DeSantis, Attorney General Ashley Moody, and Larry Kudlow, assistant to the President and director of the National Economic Council, 1 p.m.

Lauren Book demands details from state officials after report uncovers abuse in foster homes” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — A USA Today piece is exposing Florida’s foster care system has repeatedly placed children in homes where they were subject to abuse. Now, Sen. Book is requesting results from a joint task force investigation into those claims. The authors of the piece blame, in part, a 2015 law signed in reaction to children suffering abuse while in the custody of their biological parents. That law aimed to have state officials prioritize children’s safety above the need to keep families together. That meant an increase in the number of children taken out of abusive homes and placed into the foster care system.

Lauren Book seeks a deep investigation of the state’s foster care program after revelations of abuse. Image via Colin Hackley.

Disabilities proposal raises concerns” via The News Service of Florida — Advocates for people with disabilities worry that Florida might be trying to limit services under a proposed rule floated by the state Agency for Persons with Disabilities. The proposal would require support coordinators, who help people with disabilities obtain home- and community-based services, to “certify” that their clients have exhausted all other avenues for care before applying for the Medicaid program known as the “iBudget.” Under the proposed rule, people with disabilities could not get services until support coordinators complete a five-page document with questions about their clients’ health status and provide supporting documentation. “I think it’s really freaked people out,” said Nancy Wright, a Gainesville attorney who specializes in Medicaid law.


Aides complained about Mike Pompeo event with Florida group that backs gay conversion therapy” via the Miami Herald — State Department employees complained this month after members of Secretary of State Pompeo’s advance team discovered overtly anti-gay flyers when scoping out the site of a Florida event with a conservative Christian group that promotes conversion therapy for LGBTQ individuals. Pompeo’s decision to address the Florida Family Policy Council was initially flagged by members of his advance team to their supervisors, and other State Department employees also complained after finding the group offers LGBTQ individuals “help leaving the gay lifestyle” on its website, according to two sources familiar with the internal protest.

Nancy Pelosi, Steven Mnuchin narrowing gap on stimulus, to talk again Tuesday” via Billy House, Erik Wasson, and Laura Litvan of Bloomberg — Speaker Pelosi and Secretary Mnuchin “continued to narrow their differences” on a coronavirus relief package, a Pelosi aide said Monday, as time draws short to reach agreement on a bill that could pass by Election Day. “The Speaker continues to hope that, by the end of the day Tuesday, we will have clarity on whether we will be able to pass a bill before the election,” Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said on Twitter. “The two principals will speak again tomorrow, and staff work will continue around the clock.”

Steven Mnuchin and Nancy Pelosi inch closer to a stimulus deal.

As Washington scrambles for more bailout money, the Fed sits on mountain of untapped funds” via Rachel Siegel and Jeff Stein of The Washington Post — The White House and Congress are fighting over an economic relief bill, and odds appear low they will reach a deal before the November election. Yet hundreds of billions of dollars already set aside by lawmakers to support the Federal Reserve’s emergency aid programs may never be touched, illustrating the unevenness of Congress’ bailout decisions from earlier this year. This money’s fate shows the surprising limits of the nearly $3 trillion in emergency aid Congress approved early in the pandemic.

Florida Congressman’s brother lobbies for Dominican Republic” via Julian Pecquet of Foreign Lobby — Ex-Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart has joined the ranks of lobbyists working for the Dominican Republic as newly elected President Luis Abinader seeks to capitalize on close ties to the Trump administration. A Florida Republican who served nine terms before retiring in 2011, Diaz-Balart is the brother of sitting Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart. His Miami lobbying firm Western Hemisphere Strategies serves as a subcontractor to Vision Americas for $20,000 per month for the next six months.


Orlando airport to leave the fate of its top legal job up in the air” via Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel  —  Faced with investigations and a pandemic-caused financial crisis, the agency that runs Orlando International Airport is expected to again delay a decision over the fate of its top legal job — an important position that was at the center of a political tug-of-war last year. The board of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority will decide Wednesday whether to continue using an interim general counsel for another six months. It would be the second six-month extension to the short-term contract, which was initially signed in November 2019 and was only supposed to last for six months.

Village on mercy helps fill central Florida’s severe affordable housing gap” via Molly Duerig of Bay News 9 — A new report from the Florida Apartment Association found that municipal policies and historical economic and racial disparities contribute to a lack of housing affordability across Florida’s cities. Also, Florida’s Sadowski Housing Trust Fund, which provides monies for a vast array of affordable housing initiatives, has not been fully funded in almost twenty years. This year was actually the first since 2002 that state leaders agreed to appropriate all available money to the Sadowski Fund. But then COVID-19 hit, and DeSantis vetoed one of the Fund’s two major programs from the budget. Florida’s SHIP program primarily supports homeownership but is also used to fund the construction of new affordable housing.


Florida Democrats should be wary of positive poll results” via Joe Henderson of Florida Politics — Several polls released Monday about Florida legislative races looked spectacular for Democrats. Instead of being even a little giddy, though, the polls should terrify them. They should wake up every day between now and Nov. 3 believing calamity could be around the corner. For several years, Dems have been pretty good at winning polls, but what did that get them? Dissatisfaction with Trump is no doubt driving a lot of those poll numbers. DeSantis gets his share of the blame, too, especially for his handling of the pandemic. However, what shouldn’t be overlooked is that Republicans will vote for Trump (and anyone else with an “R” beside their name). They love their guy, and they show up. They really love proving pundits wrong.


Biden and packing the Supreme Court — the dirty little secret Dems don’t want to reveal” via Marco Rubio for Fox News — Biden may claim that he is “not a fan” of court-packing. Still, when asked directly last week whether he would support it, he acknowledged “it depends” on how Judge Barrett’s nomination “turns out.” And we also know that the Biden campaign believes soon-to-be-Justice Barrett’s confirmation process is “illegitimate” and “reckless.” And here is the dirty little secret that Democrats do not want the American people to know: it has always been their plan to pack the Supreme Court with liberal judges. This isn’t about Barrett or Justice Neil Gorsuch or Justice Brett Kavanaugh. The truth is that this has been in the works since Trump was elected President of the United States four years ago.

It’s Republicans like John Cornyn who deserve to lose” via Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post — Starting with Cornyn’s image of women as civilizers, cunningly trying to domesticate their spouses. It is the stuff of 1950s comedies. It’s a variety of “benevolent sexism,” something that seems like a compliment but is really a put-down and effort to assign women to their traditional role. It is what we saw in Supreme Court nominee Barrett’s confirmation hearing, when Sen. John Neely Kennedy asked who does the laundry in her house. He wouldn’t have dreamed of asking a male nominee the same question.

Three proposed amendments on Nov. 3 ballot ‘endanger Floridians’ civil liberties’” via Micah Kubic of the Florida Phoenix — Whether voting by mail or in-person in the coming election, Floridians will see six proposed amendments to the state Constitution that they will get to vote on, up or down. The ACLU of Florida believes three of those measures — 1, 3, and 4 — endanger Floridians’ civil liberties and strongly urges voters to vote “NO.” Proposed amendment #1 adds unnecessary language to the Florida Constitution, which could lead to voter suppression. This amendment is misleadingly titled, “Citizenship Requirement to Vote in Florida Elections.” The title is intended to fool you into thinking that noncitizens can currently vote in Florida. This is simply false.

The line to vote in Florida stretches here, there and everywhere. A victory for democracy” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Before dawn broke on Monday morning, long lines of calm and committed voters snaked around libraries and community centers across South Florida for the first day of early voting. It was dark. It was raining. And no one was complaining. What an impressive sight. What an impressive turnout. What a wonderful description from election supervisors: “Exceeded expectations.” There was no flag-waving, no horn honking, no last-minute robocalls or mailbox screamers.

Maskless voters can’t be forced to wear a mask, so just do us all a favor and wear one” via Frank Cerabino of The Palm Beach Post — I don’t know why we have to cater to people who show up to vote without wearing a mask. OK, I know the official reason. But it’s not a good one. The rationale is that you can’t require someone to wear a mask in a crowded room during a pandemic of an airborne virus because that’s placing an additional requirement on them to vote. And that would violate federal law, even if you provide that mask-less voter one to wear. “That’s disenfranchising voters,” as a poll worker told me Monday.


Florida Department of Health statistics shows more than 16,000 Floridians have now died from COVID-19. The actual figure is 16,021. If you include the people who lived elsewhere but died in Florida, that total rises to 16,222.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— As the DeSantis administration continues its campaign to downplay the threat from COVID-19, they’ve begun talking about one way to try to stop the daily dirge of stories about all the Floridians dying from the disease. The idea: stop the daily reports and start releasing them weekly.

— Biden’s running mate comes to Florida on Day One of early voting. Harris addressed a drive-up rally in Orlando.

— Early voting is now underway in 54 counties … Liberty and Sumter counties begin today. By Saturday, all 67 Florida counties will be open for early voting.

— After years of playing a secondary role to men, women are stepping up in politics. Political scientist Susan McManus says women are now outvoting men; more female candidates and women are also donating more money to candidates than ever.

— And finally, checking in with a Florida Man and a Florida Woman busted for drunken driving … and drunk boating.

To listen, click on the image below:

— ALOE —

Disney adds warnings for racist stereotypes to some older films” via Bryan Pietsch of The New York Times — They are classic animated films like “Dumbo” and “Peter Pan,” but on Disney’s streaming service, they will now get a little help to stand the test of time. Before viewers watch some of these films that entertained generations of children, they will be warned about scenes that include “negative depictions” and “mistreatment of people or cultures.” In addition to “Peter Pan” and “Dumbo,” the warning plays on films including “The Aristocats” and “Aladdin” and directs viewers to a website that explains some of the problematic scenes.

Dodgers-Rays rare wild-card era matchup of baseball’s best” via Ronald Blum of The Associated Press — The World Series matchup between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays is a rare meeting of baseball’s best for the title, and a matchup of organizations with Andrew Friedman’s imprint. Friedman was the Rays’ director of baseball operations from 2004-05 and then general manager until he left in October 2014 to become the Dodgers’ president of baseball operations. Game 1 is Tuesday night. Retired first baseman James Loney, a veteran of both organizations, describes the Rays as “feisty.”

Rays catcher Mike Zunino celebrates after Tampa Bay defeated the Houston Astros. Image via AP.

Tampa Bay is having a sports moment, and Tom Brady’s Buccaneers are worthy of it” via Jerry Brewer of The Washington Post — In this debilitating year of the novel coronavirus, no city has been able to rejoice over sports as much as Tampa. Most are salvaging, scrounging, redefining joy. Tampa is flourishing. The Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup. The Tampa Bay Rays, based in nearby St. Petersburg, are headed to the World Series. And, oh yeah, there’s this other little delight: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are gradually transforming into a team worthy of Brady’s lingering greatness. “Tompa Bay,” though cheesy, is becoming a hypnotic thing. Usually, this much success in a short period would inspire jealousy, but it’s hard for eyes to turn green when looking at a city forced to celebration in isolation.

What Joe York is reading — “U.S. resorts adapt to new normal of skiing amid pandemic” via Thomas Peipart of The Associated Press — Roughly seven months after the coronavirus cut the ski season short at the height of spring break, resorts across the United States and Canada are slowly picking up the pieces and figuring out how to reopen this winter safely. While many of the details are still being worked out, resort leaders ask guests to curb their expectations and embrace a new normal while skiing and snowboarding amid a pandemic. That could mean wearing masks, standing 6 feet apart in lift lines, no dine-in service, riding lifts only with your group, and no large gatherings for an après drink.

What Ella Joyce Schorsch is readingFlorida’s first snow park set to open next month” via Kyle Spinner of WEAR-TV — The first snow park in the State of Florida will open on November 20. Snowcat Ridge announced on Sunday that tickets are now on sale before the park opening. The park will feature three different entertainment areas. Alpine Village will feature various vendors offering hot and cold beverages, beer, wine and food. According to Snowcat Ridge’s website, general admission tickets include a two-hour snow tubing session on the Snowy Slopes and all-day access to the Arctic Igloo and Alpine Village. Unlimited snow tubing tickets are also available.


Happy birthday to former First Lady Carole Crist, Dustin Daniels, and Bruce Denson.


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, 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.

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