Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 10.22.20

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Your morning review of the issues and players behind Florida politics.

Good Thursday morning.

🥊— Pew’s latest survey finds that about four-in-ten Americans say they have stopped talking to someone because of something they said, and Joe Biden supporters “are more likely to do this …”

🤪— The data linked here is from another survey, but one-third of America is out of its damn mind.

🗳️— In Florida, this is a key metric for Republicans. As of yesterday, 66% of Republican ‘4-of-4 voters (1,243,307) have yet to vote compared to 50% of Democrat ‘4-of-4’ voters (781,237) who have yet to vote. That’s +462,070 for the Republicans.

😡— But, wait, what do you mean a surge in Republican voter registration might not mean in a surge in support for Donald Trump?

🎯— I blogged about how Vance Aloupis is the latest target of Forward Majority Action deception.

💰 — I also reported on the new allegations facing the Democrat running in CD 15.

🧱 — First on #FlaPol are details about FSU’s new Institute of Politics.

👔— Rep. David Santiago will join Colodny Fass after he leaves office.

😮— Poor Rudy.

😱— The scariest novel set in Florida, according to The New York Times, is “Cold Moon Over Babylon” from Michael McDowell.


@sahilkapur: The FBI says Iran was behind threatening emails that purported to be sent by the far-right group Proud Boys to Florida Democrats.

@oneunderscore__: DNI Director [John] Ratcliffe said these foreign emails were designed to harm President Trump. The one that most people got, posing as the Proud Boys, said “You will vote for Trump on Election Day or we will come after you.” Is there a different bogus email? I’d like to see it.

@marcorubio: Don’t fall into the traps set by our enemies. View any sensational claims related to votes & voting systems with great suspicion.

@RepStephMurphy: We know foreign interference in our election is a real threat to our democracy. Voters must be cautious & self-verify news/voter data. Election officials must be forthcoming with the public. And elected leaders must set politics aside & do what’s best for our country.

@RudyGiuliani: (1) The Borat video is a complete fabrication. I was tucking in my shirt after taking off the recording equipment. At no time before, during, or after the interview was I ever inappropriate. If Sacha Baron Cohen implies otherwise he is a stone-cold liar.

@TVietor08: Oh man it must suck to have someone spread disinformation about you in a cruel and humiliating way. I’m so sorry, Rudy.

@CarlosGSmith: As someone who was raised Catholic, reading these words from Pope Francis feels like progress. The church has a long way to go and this doesn’t erase the irreparable harm done to our community, but it’s a step toward treating gays and lesbians with full dignity and respect.

@BethMatuga: Can’t wait to have the papal infallibility argument over the Thanksgiving holiday

@AymanM: Congrats to whoever had “Borat will deliver an October surprise” on their 2020 Bingo board.

@SteveSchale: You can’t compare this to any other cycle. People are changing voting habits in real-time. Dems have never been great at VBM — GOP not great at in-person early. Both of those are totally different in 2020. Just keep turning out voters.

@FredPiccolo: There will be no elimination of COVID-19 data available to the public. There is no plan to change reporting frequency or depth anytime in the near future. That is all.

@SShawFL: Glad @GovRonDeSantis had time this week to blast teachers instead of denouncing the purported Proud Boys email threatening violence against Florida voters. Looks like our Governor is more concerned with being “fired” by Trump than protecting Floridians.

@realStanVG: I’m excited to join a talented New Orleans Pelicans team. It will be an honor to work with our players and to work for Mrs. Benson and David Griffin, Trajan Langdon, their staff and the great people of New Orleans. I can’t wait to talk to our players and get the process started


“The Empty Man” premieres — 1; 2020 General Election — 12; NBA 2020-21 training camp — 19; FITCon Policy Conference begins — 21; The Masters begins — 21; NBA draft — 26; Pixar’s “Soul” premieres — 29; College basketball season slated to begin — 34; NBA 2020-21 opening night — 41; Florida Automated Vehicles Summit — 41; the Electoral College votes — 53; “Death on the Nile” premieres — 56; “Wonder Woman 1984” rescheduled premiere — 64; Greyhound racing ends in Florida — 70; the 2021 Inauguration — 90; Super Bowl LV in Tampa — 108; “A Quiet Place Part II” rescheduled premiere — 119; “Black Widow” rescheduled premiere — 133; “No Time to Die” premieres (rescheduled) — 162; “Top Gun: Maverick” rescheduled premiere — 253; Disney’s “Shang Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings” premieres — 260; new start date for 2021 Olympics — 274; “Jungle Cruise” premieres — 282; Disney’s “Eternals” premieres — 379; “Spider-Man Far From Home” sequel premieres — 382; Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” premieres — 414; “Thor: Love and Thunder” premieres — 478; “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” premieres — 531; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” sequel premieres — 712.


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 performing in select areas, then averaging the surveys to get a general idea of who leads nationwide. Sunburn will be updating these forecasts as they come in:

CNN Poll of Polls: As of Wednesday, the CNN average has Biden staying at 53% compared to a steady 42% for Trump. The CNN Poll of Polls tracks the national average in the presidential race. They include the most recent national telephone surveys meeting CNN’s standards for reporting and which measure the views of registered or likely voters. The poll of polls does not have a margin of sampling error. As of Wednesday, Biden is still at an 87 in 100 chance of winning compared to Trump, who is at a 13 in 100 shot. FiveThirtyEight also ranked individual states by the likelihood of delivering a decisive vote for the winning candidate in the Electoral College: Pennsylvania leads with 26.5%, while Florida is now second at 14.1%. Wisconsin is third with 13.7%. Other states include Michigan (8.9%), North Carolina (6.3%), Minnesota (5.9%), Arizona (5.6%) and Nevada (3.0%).

PredictIt: As of Wednesday, the PredictIt trading market has Biden rose to $0.65 a share, with Trump remaining at $0.40.

On the eve of the final presidential debate, Joe Biden keeps his lead alive.

Real Clear Politics: As of Wednesday, the RCP average of General Election top battleground state polling has Biden leading Trump 50.6% to 43%. The RCP General Election polling average has Biden at +7.6 points ahead.

The Economist: As of Wednesday, their model is still predicting Biden is “very likely” to beat Trump in the Electoral College. The model is updated every day and combines state and national polls with economic indicators to predict a range of outcomes. The midpoint is the estimate of the electoral-college vote for each party on Election Day. According to The Economist, Biden’s chances of winning the electoral college is now less than 19 in 10 (93%) versus Trump with less than 1 in 20 (7%). They still give Biden a 99% chance (better than 19 in 20) of winning the popular vote, with Trump at only 1% (less than 1 in 20).


Even with mute, the final presidential debate could be more hostile than the first” via Bill Carter of CNN Business — Like everything else about the Trump era, every previous precedent and convention has been shattered. In virtually every case, that’s been the work of the President himself, a man for whom the word rules is always a verb, not a noun. The debates are now a victim of his incorrigibly disruptive proclivities. The debate commission has had to label the need for a mute button as an issue for both sides, but nobody really questions that it was Trump who blew up the very concept of a debate. How will the show Thursday night be any different? It likely won’t be, unless the President decides, as he hinted (barely) earlier this week, that he may change his debate strategy.

Joe Biden braces for Donald Trump’s attacks on Hunter Biden at debate” via Natasha Korecki of POLITICO — Trump has made clear he’s coming after Hunter Biden for allegedly profiting off his father’s position. And Joe Biden would seem to have an easy comeback: Look at what your own kids have done since you became President. So far, though, Biden has refused to go there. And he’s likely to maintain that posture during the debate, according to advisers and allies, despite a vow by Trump’s campaign that “there will be no escape” for Biden from questions about his son’s business dealings. Biden’s advisers say that any time spent on issues besides the coronavirus or the economy is lost time. As much as possible, Biden should keep the focus on the President’s biggest liabilities, they say.

Like it or not, Hunter Biden will be a featured topic in the final presidential debate.

Biden’s debate strategy is to let Trump be Trump” via Amie Parnes of The Hill — Biden’s strategy for the final debate: Get out of the way. Biden and his team believe Trump has done damage to his own campaign in recent weeks, a sentiment they see as being reflected in national and battleground state polls that show the Democrat with a lead. Their plan in the final presidential debate is to do nothing more than to underline the contrast between Biden and Trump, and to avoid any mistakes. “Why would we change anything?” one Biden ally close to the campaign said when asked if Biden would try to do anything differently from the last debate in September.

Mission impossible? Kristen Welker on tap to moderate second debate” via David Bauder of The Associated Press — This fall’s presidential debates have chewed up moderators. Trump steamrolled Chris Wallace with constant interruptions in the first one, a performance that cost the Republican incumbent support in the polls. Susan Page struggled to make the vice-presidential candidates adhere to time limits their campaigns had agreed to in advance. Next up: Welker. The NBC News White House correspondent is scheduled to moderate Thursday’s second and last session between Trump and Biden. It’s hard not to feel trepidation for her. Both of her predecessors came into the assignments with more experience. While Welker was one of four questioners at a Democratic presidential debate last fall, this is by far the 44-year-old journalist’s biggest stage.

It’s Kristen Welker’s turn.

Member of debate commission rebukes Trump and says President’s attacks are ‘just wrong’” via Chandelis Duster of CNN — A member of the Commission on Presidential Debates said Trump’s attacks on the commission are “just wrong,” a rare rebuke coming from a member of an organization that strives to stay neutral. Trump has repeatedly attacked debate moderators and the commission, falsely claiming during an interview on “Fox & Friends” that his matchup with Biden this week is “so set up,” even though the debate topics and moderator were agreed to by both campaigns weeks ago. “The President’s apparent strategy is to challenge the validity of the election should he lose,” John Danforth, a Republican and former U.S. Senator from Missouri, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed.

Lawmakers hope final presidential debate has more meaning” via Raquel Martin on WKBN News — With Election Day less than two weeks away, all eyes will be on the presidential debate as Trump and Biden face off for the final time. “I hope we will have a substantive debate,” said Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say they hope the final presidential debate delivers more than an argument. “What happened in the previous debate, unacceptable. American people deserve better,” Democratic Rep. Cindy Axne of Iowa said. Axne added voters want a discussion focused on solutions. “It’s always kitchen table issues in states like Iowa, it’s putting money in people’s pockets, it’s addressing health care.”

They’re b-a-a-ck! Plexiglass dividers return to the debate stage.” via Michael M. Grynbaum of The New York Times — A pair of towering transparent dividers have been installed next to the lecterns where Biden and Trump will meet for their final debate on Thursday in Nashville. The dividers — described by campaign aides as seven feet tall and four feet wide — are a safety measure intended to help prevent any aerial transmission of the coronavirus. But their debut at the vice-presidential debate did not exactly merit good reviews. Experts in airborne viruses called the plastic barriers basically useless, saying that an air filter and a box fan would be far more effective. The Commission on Presidential Debates has not announced any specific medical precautions ahead of the debate, such as requiring Biden and Trump to submit to independent virus tests.

Paid by Marva Preston, Republican, for Florida Senate.


19 women have accused Trump of sexual misconduct. Here’s what their stories have in common.” via Jeanine Santucci, Jim Sergent and George Petras of USA TODAY — Today, writer E. Jean Carroll goes to court in a unique case: she accused the sitting President of defamation. But when she came forward in 2019 to say Trump had raped her in a department store dressing room in the mid-1990s, her story started with a familiar detail. “The moment the dressing-room door is closed, he lunges at me, pushes me against the wall, hitting my head quite badly, and puts his mouth against my lips,” she wrote in June 2019. Former model Amy Dorris, the latest to come forward just last month to allege that Trump had sexually assaulted her in 1997 at the U.S. Open tennis tournament, said it began in a similar way.

E. Jean Carroll gets her day in court. Image via AP.

Trump’s campaign is laser-focused on appealing to Trump” via Philip Bump of The Washington Post — In his 2016 bid, the regular mantra of those leading his effort was that they should “let Trump be Trump” — meaning, let his instincts guide their outreach and engagement. When he won the general election, Trump clearly assumed that this strategy was the correct approach, not just one that happened to work. The challenge for Trump is that this isn’t the best way to win reelection in an increasingly polarized country. Four years ago, Trump got the benefit of the doubt from people curious about how his administration might unfold. He no longer does. He needs to persuade people who have seen the past four years why he should have four more. But Trump isn’t terribly interested in making that case.

CNBC/Change Research: Biden leads in all swing states — According to the CNBC/Change Research “States of Play Poll,” Biden is leading Trump in all six swing states — Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — although his lead has narrowed in some states. In Florida, Biden leads with 50% support to Trump’s 45%. Biden’s lead is smallest in Pennsylvania, where he has 49% support to Trump’s 47%. The poll also found a clear majority of voters want the Senate to prioritize coronavirus relief over the Supreme Court confirmation and two-thirds of voters in battleground states say more financial aid needed from Washington.

With Trump on defense in key states, some nervous Democrats quietly contemplate a Biden landslide” via Astead W. Herndon of The New York Times — Trump held a rally in Georgia on Friday. That he is campaigning in what should be a safely Republican state and in others that were expected to be solidly in his column — like Iowa and Ohio — is evidence to many Democrats that Biden’s polling lead in the presidential race is solid and durable. Trump spent Monday in Arizona, too, a state that was once reliably Republican but where his unpopularity has helped make Biden competitive. For some Democrats, Trump’s attention to red states is also a sign of something else, something few in the party want to discuss out loud, given their scars from Trump’s surprise victory in 2016. It’s an indication that Biden could pull off a landslide in November.

Barack Obama goes full throttle for Biden” via Holly Otterbein of POLITICO — There were lots of logical states for Biden to roll out the biggest weapon in his campaign arsenal. But he chose to deploy former President Obama to Pennsylvania for the latter’s first in-person event in 2020, perhaps the clearest sign yet that Biden’s team sees the state as the most important piece of the Electoral College map. Obama held a drive-in rally in Philadelphia, and talked directly to Black voters — and Black men specifically. The former President discussed the importance of making a plan to vote early.

In pitch for Biden, Obama urges voters to cast Trump out” via Alexandra Jaffe and Bill Barrow of The Associated Press — Obama blasted Trump’s handling of the coronavirus, his culpability in national discord, and his overall fitness for the job as he made his first in-person campaign pitch for his former Vice President. With less than two weeks before Election Day, Obama used the rally in Philadelphia to assure voters that Biden and Kamala Harris can mend a fractured country. He lauded the merits of democracy and citizenship as “human values” that the United States must again embrace. “I’m asking you to remember what this country can be,” Obama said. “I’m asking you to believe in Joe’s ability and Kamala’s ability to lead this country out of these dark times and help us build it back better.”

Obama will campaign for Biden in Florida” via Tyler Pager of Bloomberg — Obama will campaign for Biden in Miami on Saturday and Orlando next week, according to people familiar with his travel plans. 

Barack Obama hits the trail for Joe Biden. Image via AP.

Obama hypes early voting in new DNC Florida ad” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO — Barack Obama is being tapped to gin up support for voting ahead of Election Day in Florida, putting the former president at the center of a new TV ad campaign kicking off in the nation’s biggest swing state. “It is going to be close and it could come down to a handful of voters just like you,” Obama says in the new Democratic National Committee ads set to start running Thursday. “I’m asking you to bring this thing home. Leave no doubt. Vote early.” The ad does not mention Joe Biden or any overtly partisan themes. Instead, it focuses exclusively on the DNC’s get-out-the-vote messaging.

Ivanka Trump seeks to lure suburban women back to President — The Trump campaign’s chances hinge on winning back suburban women who voted for the President four years ago, and Ivanka Trump has been charged with making the pitch. With her brothers being more politically divisive, she has emerged as pointwoman to convince swing voters to reelect her father, Anita Kumar of POLITICO reports. The President’s daughter has made personal appeals for her father at 17 campaign stops over the past six weeks, ranging from Q&A sessions to stops at local businesses. Ivanka has already visited 10 battleground states and expects to head back to Pennsylvania, Florida and North Carolina before the election, according to one Trump political aide.

Ivanka Trump stumps on school choice, defends father’s COVID-19 response.” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Ivanka Trump boasted about manufacturing jobs, school choice, and the push for a vaccine at a Fort Myers rally. Trump’s senior adviser and daughter said the incumbent kept more promises than he made in his first term. In a second term, he will “make America greater than ever before.” “Washington has not changed Donald Trump; Donald Trump has changed Washington,” she said, “and he’s not done yet.” She spoke to a crowd of supporters at a rally at Top Rocker Field, near the Southwest Florida International Airport. That came shortly after she attended a fundraiser in Naples, where invitations encouraged donations of $15,000 to $100,000.

CNN poll shows Florida is tight” via Jennifer Agiesta of CNN — In Florida, which has 29 electoral votes and is a critical battleground in the presidential race, 50% of likely voters say they back Biden, 46% Trump. The difference is right at the poll’s margin of sampling error, meaning there is no clear leader in the survey. Biden holds a double-digit advantage over Trump as more trusted to handle the coronavirus outbreak (53% to 43%), and the same is true for handling racial inequality in the US (54% to 42%). He also has a small edge over Trump on handling nominations to the Supreme Court (50% to 46%). Biden is more often seen as the candidate who would unite the country rather than divide it (56% to 39%).

Why a surge in Republican voter registration might not mean a surge in Trump support” via Geoffrey Skelley of FiveThirtyEight — Much has been made of the Florida GOP registering about 147,000 more voters than the Democrats since the February registration deadline for the state’s presidential primary. Yet in the eight months before the primary deadline, Democrats registered about 42,000 more voters than the GOP due to the high interest in the Democratic presidential race. Now, that might still be a net win for the GOP — because if we subtract the two, Republicans registered 105,000 more voters — but it’s not as simple as that. Not only is party registration sometimes a lagging indicator, but there are also a lot more people registering as independent now, and more of those voters may lean Democratic.

Trump and Florida’s I-4 corridor: Can you trust polls with crowds like this?” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — Trump’s campaign rally on a tarmac at Orlando Sanford International Airport after his coronavirus hospitalization earlier this month seemed to recapture the magic of his stunning 2016 campaign. The television cameras. The staging. The drama. His supporters, mesmerized by the spectacle, gave off the electricity that signaled another victory is on the horizon. “Look around,” said Brad Virgin, an Orlando-area chiropractor. “How could he lose?” Five days later, St. Pete Polls surveyed voters in the Senate district that surrounds the airport. The Republican finds himself double digits behind Biden.

Florida’s Pinellas County is one to watch on election night” via Tamara Lush of The Associated Press — As the campaign enters its final two weeks, Florida has again emerged as a critical state, and Pinellas, one of the largest counties in the state, is one of those places likely to track the final outcome. “It is certainly a barometer of the broader trends,” said Daniel Smith, a political-science professor at the University of Florida. ”It’s a dynamic county. It’s a good place to be watching the returns.” Perched on the western tip of Florida’s famed Interstate-4 corridor, Pinellas is hard to categorize as its voters straddle the liberal-conservative divide.

A high-stakes election is making Floridians anxious” via Stephen Neely and Elizabeth Strom of the Tampa Bay Times — When it comes to politics, Floridian can be pretty divided. Polls suggest that Florida’s 29 electoral votes are very much up for grabs in a race that hasn’t strayed far from the margin of error in recent weeks. However, there is one thing that we all seem to agree on: The upcoming election has very high stakes — and it’s stressing us out. A recent survey conducted at the University of South Florida found that more than 80% of Floridians are “worried about the outcome of the presidential election,” while a majority (55%) agree that the contest has become a “considerable source of stress” for them on a personal level.

Trump has struggled with seniors. Can he make up the difference with Hispanic voters?” via Francesca Chambers and David Smiley of the Miami Herald — The most recent visits to Florida by Trump and Vice President Mike Pence illustrate the reliance of the Republican ticket on two voting blocs seemingly headed in opposite political directions this election: seniors and Latinos. Pence on Thursday stumped in Miami-Dade County with Hispanic voters who, compared to four years ago, have shown a greater willingness to bubble in Trump’s name on the ballot. The following day, Trump promised seniors in Fort Myers that a COVID-19 vaccine would be available first to seniors, who appear to be pulling back from the president amid the pandemic.

VP Mike Pence is making his case to Hispanic voters in Florida.

Biden is winning the Catholic vote by 12 points, poll finds” via The Week — Trump won 52% of Catholic voters in 2016, versus 44% for Hillary Clinton, Pew Research estimates. Now, Trump is losing the Catholic vote to Biden, the Democratic nominee, by 12 percentage points, 52% to 40 percent, according to a poll released Tuesday by right-leaning EWTN News and RealClear Opinion Research. Biden would be the second Catholic President, after fellow Democrat John F. Kennedy, but American Catholics are evenly divided between the Republican and Democratic parties. Democrat John Kerry, the last Catholic nominee, narrowly lost the Catholic vote to George W. Bush in 2004, exit polls found. “Catholic voters have emerged as perhaps the key demographic cohort in the 2020 campaign,” says RealClearPolitics’ Carl Cannon.

Poll shows Biden with commanding 51-point lead over Trump among Florida Jewish voters” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The poll shows Biden with a commanding lead over Trump among Jewish voters in Florida, 73% to 22% — a difference of 51 percentage points. Among the overall electorate, the race for Florida’s 29 electoral votes is exceedingly close. The FiveThirtyEight polling average for Florida on Tuesday evening showed Biden ahead of Trump 48.8% to 45.4% — a difference of just 3.4 points. The poll of Jewish voters was conducted by GBAO Research + Strategy, which has an above-average grade for its data gathering and accuracy.

Assignment editors — Trump Victory will hold a “’Get out the Vote’ MAGA meet up” with special guests Trump Campaign Senior Adviser John Pence and Sen. Manny Diaz, Jr. of Miami, who will encourage supporters to get out the vote for Republicans, 10 a.m. Eastern time, 12859 SW 42nd Street Miami. To confirm attendance, email Kailey Cotter at [email protected].

FBI investigates ‘Proud Boys’ emails that hint at voter intimidation campaign” via Ana Ceballos and Samantha J. Gross of the Miami Herald — The FBI was investigating a growing number of threatening emails sent to hundreds of voters in several Florida counties from a sender claiming to be affiliated with the Proud Boys, U.S. authorities confirmed. Florida, the nation’s largest swing state, was among at least four states targeted, including Arizona, Pennsylvania and Alaska. “Though the FBI’s standard practice is to neither confirm nor deny any investigation, we take all election-related threats seriously whether it is vote fraud, voter suppression or threats from cyber- or foreign-influence actors,” said Amanda Warford Videll, a spokeswoman for the FBI’s Jacksonville office, in an email. The investigation into the emails was later confirmed by U.S. authorities.

West Palm Beach Proud Boys leader: Trump bump ‘awesome’” via Christine Stapleton of The Palm Beach Post — Bobby Pickles — whose real name is not Bobby Pickles — is a college graduate, owner of a screen-printing business and head of the West Palm Beach chapter of the Proud Boys. In the wake of the uproar over Trump’s call for the Proud Boy to “stand back and stand by” during the first presidential debate on Sept. 29, Pickles, 40, wants to make one thing clear: The Proud Boys are in Palm Beach County and they are not a hate group or White supremacist organization. “I am a textbook example of someone who is not a White supremacist,” said Pickles, adding that he “surrounds myself with nonwhite people.” … “It’s just a fraternal organization,” said Pickles, who calls himself a “liberal” Proud Boy. 

Mitt Romney did not vote for Trump” via Marina Pitofsky of The Hill — Republican Sen. Romney of Utah did not vote for Trump in this year’s election, his office confirmed to The Hill. Romney’s office did not say, however, whether he voted for Biden. The Utah Senator, who has regularly criticized Trump, last week rebuked the President for refusing to denounce QAnon, an online movement centered around a sprawling but baseless conspiracy theory that the FBI warns is a domestic terror threat, during a town hall. “The President’s unwillingness to denounce an absurd and dangerous conspiracy theory last night continues an alarming pattern: politicians and parties refuse to forcefully and convincingly repudiate groups like antifa, White supremacists and conspiracy peddlers,” Romney said in a statement tweeted last week.

Bobby Bowden beat COVID-19 to help push Trump over the goal line” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — FSU football fans know head football coach emeritus Bowden as the biggest winner of all the leaders who prowled the Doak Campbell sideline. Yet this fall, Bowden found himself in a prolonged battle with a foe greater than any on the football field: COVID-19. Bowden has recovered, and the 91-year-old gridiron legend attributes his healing to unfinished business, not on the field, but at the ballot box. “I’ve had the chance to get a lot of wins in my life, but I really wanted to win this one because I wanted to be around to vote for Trump,” the Seminole legend said in a prepared statement.

Déjà vu: Another Orlando CEO warns employees they may be laid off if Democrats win the White House” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — Orlando is famous for many things: Sunshine. Hotels. Theme parks. Oh, and CEOs who warn their employees might lose their jobs if they elect Democrats. George Daniels of Daniels Manufacturing Co. is the second Orlando CEO to try to scare the bejeezus out of his workers by telling them they’re free to vote however they please — but “if Biden and the Democrats win, DMC could be forced to begin permanent layoffs.” My beef isn’t with bosses getting involved with politics. Both these guys were also big GOP donors. It’d just be nice if they factored in some reality with their bluster. And the reality is that the economy has traditionally done better under Democratic presidents.


A college football player whose season was postponed by the virus blames Trump in a new ad.” via Reid J. Epstein of The New York Times — Tristen Vance, a linebacker at Northern Arizona University, says that he’s worked his whole life to have a shot at playing professional football, and his dreams were put in jeopardy by the postponement of the fall football season. “Trump’s failure of leadership is why we can’t play right now,” Vance says in the ad. “I don’t blame President Trump for the virus, but I 100-percent blame him for the response to the virus.” This is the core of Biden’s argument in his campaign’s final weeks, one he’s repeating in paid advertising and is expected to return to during Thursday’s final debate: that Trump has mishandled the national response to the coronavirus and can’t be trusted to make things better.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

Independence USA PAC slams White House superspreader event — Bloomberg’s Independence USA PAC is out with a new ad bashing the White House for an event it held last month that led to several coronavirus infections. “Notice something at this rose garden event? Virtually no one wearing a mask. This irresponsible behavior starts right here at the top,” a narrator says, singling out Trump for his fence-sitter comments on the efficacy of masks. The ad closes by describing Trump’s event and statements as “irresponsible behavior” and asserting the country “can’t take four more years” of Trump.

To watch “Picture,” click on the image below:

Priorities USA Action, BlackPAC launch new ads targeting Black voters — Priorities USA Action and BlackPAC announced two new TV ads, “Gimme A Break” and “One Nation,” which focus on what Biden and Harris will do to address the health care crisis, create jobs, and fight against systemic racism. The ads are part of an ongoing $3.4 million advertising partnership meant to drive turnout among likely Democratic voters and persuade Black voters who may be undecided. It is part of Mike Bloomberg’s $100 million commitment to help Biden win Florida. The ads will air statewide on cable and broadcast.

To watch “Gimme A Break,” click on the image below:

To watch “One Nation,” click on the image below:

Everyone loves a queen: Democrats launch drag queen videos” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Some of the country’s best-known drag queens are putting on the glam to encourage Florida Democrats to vote. The Florida Democratic Party announced it is launching a series of videos on social media called “Drag Yourself To the Polls,” mixing humor, drag and get-out-the-vote and Democratic messaging. Brita Filter is baking a cake while warning about people who are “trying to take away our rights.” There’s Willam Belli urging people to “vote blue and, most importantly, wear a mask, as long as you don’t have a ton of makeup on like me right now.” There’s LaGanja Estranja, vamping and switching from red lipstick to blue while urging people to “elect the leaders who will make positive changes in your community.”


Shouting matches, partisan rallies, guns at polling places: Tensions high at early-voting sites” via Joshua Partlow of The Washington Post — During a pro-Trump rally earlier this month in Nevada City, California, enthusiastic supporters in cars and trucks crowded into the parking lot of the county government center. As many as 300 people played music, cheered and called out through a megaphone, according to Natalie Adona, a county election official who could see the gathering from her second-floor office at the Eric Rood Administration Center. But unlike usual Trump rallies, this one was happening at the site of one of the most popular drive-up ballot boxes in the county. And early voting was already underway.

Drop-off voting boxes could be the difference-maker in this election” via Joe Henderson of Florida Politics — Trump’s oft-used words to describe voting by mail include “corrupt” and “disaster.” Not true, but he said that and it planted the seed of paranoia. Experts predict the turnout will shatter voting records. Expect long lines and lengthy waits to cast a ballot, even with COVID-19. We’ve certainly seen images of those lines in polling places around the state as early voting began. So, it makes sense that people could look for an easy way to make their voices heard. Don’t trust the mail? Then what could be easier than using the dedicated drive-up lane at the election office? Roll down the window and hand your ballot to the person on duty.

Tampa Bay law enforcement agencies plan for subtle presence at polls to help combat voter intimidation” via Evan Donovan of WFLA — At the first presidential debate last month, Trump told his supporters to head to the polls but not just to vote. “I’m urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully,” Trump said. “Because that’s what has to happen. I am urging them to do it.” Democrats and voting rights groups sounded the alarm, concerned that a flood of people heading to the polls to “watch” would lead to voter intimidation, particularly if those supporters showed up armed. Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri says he’s been working closely with Pinellas Supervisor of Elections Julie Marcus to make polling places safe. 

They drew outrage as they voted without masks. They showed how no one enforces the mask law.” via Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — All it took was four voters refusing to wear masks to expose how no one truly must wear them to cast a ballot. The four voters didn’t wear masks even though everyone else around them at Fort Lauderdale’s Coral Ridge Mall wore a mask to protect against the spread of COVID-19. The maskless voters calmly stood their ground in saying no Monday when bystanders scolded them and election workers told them that they needed to wear masks. The four voters told police they all had asthma. They weren’t required to show doctors’ notes. They went on to vote without masks, revealing how vulnerable the county’s mask law is to anyone who won’t comply with it.

— 2020 — 

Gov. Ron DeSantis swings for the fences with early voting message to Florida Republicans” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — DeSantis rallied Florida Republicans on Wednesday with a baseball-themed social media pitch urging them to get out and vote. “It’s game time,” DeSantis said in a Republican Party of Florida ad. “Bottom of the ninth and Florida Republicans are on deck. Florida is the nation’s most important swing state and the Republican Party is counting on us to deliver a win in November.” The Governor’s rally cry comes less than two weeks before Election Day and at a time when Republicans dramatically trail Democrats in vote-by-mail ballots. While DeSantis — once a Yale baseball captain — conceded the difference, he called on Florida Republicans to help turn the tide with early voting.

Ron DeSantis leans hard on the baseball metaphors. Image via AP.

Poll: Floridians stressed over presidential election, point to jobs and pandemic” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — A new University of South Florida survey shows the 2020 presidential election is a significant source of stress for Floridians, a majority of which believe 2020 is a very important election. Researchers with USF completed the statewide survey by interviewing 600 Floridians between Oct. 10 through Oct. 17. The results are reported with a confidence level of 95% and a margin of error +/- 4%. The survey shows the toll the election is having on Floridians with 80% of respondents saying they are worried about the results of the election, and 55.5% said the election is a considerable source of stress.

Why social media is so good at polarizing us” via Christopher Mims of The Wall Street Journal — A growing body of research suggests that social media is accelerating the polarization trend, and many political scientists worry it’s tearing our country apart. It isn’t clear how to solve the problem. And new research suggests that one often-proposed solution, exposing users on the platforms to more content from the other side, might actually be making things worse, because of how social media amplifies extreme opinions. If social media seems particularly infuriating lately, it’s possible that it’s as much about the way it shapes our perception of what’s going on as it is about the reality of the viewpoints and behavior of our fellow Americans.

Laurel Lee blasts attempt to scuttle constitutional amendment” via Jim Saunders of The News Service of Florida — With millions of votes already cast, Secretary of State Lee asked the Florida Supreme Court to reject a last-minute attempt to kill a proposed constitutional amendment that would overhaul the state’s primary-election system. Lee’s attorneys blasted an emergency petition that seeks to block the proposed amendment, known as Amendment 3. The petition was filed on behalf of Glenton Gilzean Jr., CEO of the Central Florida Urban League, who contends the proposed changes in the primary system could make it harder to elect Black candidates. Lee’s attorneys said the state doesn’t take a position on the merits of the arguments — but that they should have been raised months ago, instead of after voting had already started.

Race between John Rutherford and Donna Deegan pits two well-known candidates for Congress” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — Out of 435 seats up for election in the U.S. House of Representatives, it would be hard to find a district with two better-known candidates than Rep. Rutherford and Deegan. Rutherford is undefeated in a string of campaigns that saw him serve 12 years as Jacksonville’s sheriff before retiring from a career in law enforcement and winning election to Congress in 2016. Deegan, the Democratic nominee, is a first-time candidate, but she was a longtime television news anchor before starting the nonprofit Donna Foundation that raises money for breast cancer research and puts on the annual Donna Marathon.

It’s a battle between two well-known figures — John Rutherford and Donna Deegan — in Florida’s 4th Congressional District.

Florida GOP congressional candidate Anna Paulina Luna appeared on a QAnon program and praised the hosts” via Eric Hananoki of Media Matters for America — Luna previously appeared on a QAnon program, where she praised the hosts and tried to get support for her campaign. Numerous Republican candidates and organizations have attempted to appeal to QAnon supporters during this election cycle. Luna, who is running for Congress in Florida’s 13th Congressional District against Rep. Charlie Crist, is the chairperson of Hispanic Initiatives at PragerU and the former director of Hispanic engagement for Charlie Kirk’s Turning Point USA. After she won her primary in August, Fox 13 Tampa Bay wrote that she “is quickly becoming a rising star in the GOP.” Luna has received support from Trump

Threatening emails continue to surface in Florida’s political battlegrounds” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Emails threatening Democrats and claiming to come from the Proud Boys reached voters around the state of Florida. There’s growing evidence the messages targeted voters in battleground districts and areas critical to Biden’s electoral ambitions. Bennett Ragan, campaign manager for HD 21 candidate Kayser Enneking, said he received one of the messages. At first, he thought it was someone trying specifically to intimidate campaign staff. But then he heard reports from around a dozen supporters who received near-identical messages. “I don’t know if I could say it with any certainty but they are hitting areas that are competitive for the presidency or for state legislative races,” he said.

Cook Political Report now favors Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in CD 26 as new dueling ads drop” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Mucarsel-Powell’s latest ad begins with news clips describing job losses triggered by the pandemic before the narrator poses a question to viewers. “As we face real economic challenges, who will help us rebuild? Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and Democrats — who fought for loans to help South Florida small businesses survive and unemployment assistance for us — or Carlos Giménez and Republicans — who cut $400 million worth of funding, 1,000 jobs and opposed increased unemployment benefits? This choice is clear.”

To watch the ad. click on the image below:

Assignment editors — Florida attorney Barry Richard, who served as lead George BushDick Cheney lawyer in the 2000 Recount, and Bill Cowles, who was Orange County’s Supervisor of Elections for more than two decades, will join Charley Olena of the nonpartisan Voting Rights Lab at a virtual media briefing about coverage of and expectations for Florida’s vote count, 10 a.m. Eastern time. Register for the briefing at


Rep. Anna Eskamani calls ad by opponent Jeremy Sisson ‘transphobic’” via Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel — As the clock runs down on the race for an Orlando House seat with a well-known Democratic incumbent, the Republican challenger is tailoring a round of ads specifically to men who believe in a “traditional worldview on marriage and family” and questions “gender-fluidity.” The mailers from Sisson in HD 47 were met with condemnation from Rep. Eskamani, who called them “transphobic.” … “These are really personal issues that impact our constituents every single day,” said Eskamani, noting the district includes Pulse, the LGBTQ nightclub where 49 people died in a 2016 mass shooting. “Unfortunately, a lot of these issues we thought in our community were at least understood … it’s a reality that unfortunately some folks perpetuate dangerous rhetoric.”

Anna Eskamani calls Jeremy Sisson ‘transphobic.’


A few fun facts about Broward County voters in 2020” via Steve Bousquet of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The largest and most diverse group of voters in Broward history will help elect the next President of the United States on Nov. 3. The number of eligible Broward voters is 1,267,187, according to county figures. Almost exactly half are Democrats: 633,910 or 50.02%. Republicans number 269,464 or 21%. No-party or minor party voters make up the remaining 29%. Whites make up 42% of the total pool of voters, Blacks account for 24% and Hispanics make up 23%. Of all Democrats, 39% are Black and 33% are non-Hispanic white.

Jimmy Midyette v. Jody Phillips: Race for Duval County clerk turns contentious” via Andrew Pantazi of The Florida Times-Union — A civil-rights activist and a former construction executive are vying to be Duval County’s next clerk of courts in a race for a normally sleepy position. The clerk’s office’s Chief Operating Officer, Jody Phillips, has racked up a significant money advantage and the endorsements of much of the Republican elite in his campaign to succeed Duval County Clerk Ronnie Fussell, his boss who faces term limits. Jimmy Midyette, a civil rights attorney who recently worked for the ACLU of Florida, however, presents an opportunity for Democrats, who have made gains in Duval County, to secure a countywide seat.

Jimmy Midyette gives Democrats a shot at a Duval countywide seat.


Scott Rivkees implements additional COVID-19 fatality review process” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Surgeon General Rivkees has implemented an additional review process for deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Florida. The announcement comes as the DeSantis administration is facing criticism for beginning discussions on how the state may scale back daily coronavirus reporting to semiweekly or weekly updates. Rivkees, who oversees the Department of Health, said officials reported 95 deaths to be included in Wednesday’s report. But the department’s report that details those deaths and new cases and hospitalizations have not been released as of publication time. The memo provided no explanation for the current delay. 

Scott Rivkees is making some changes in Florida’s reporting COVID-19 cases.

Where’s the information? Florida doesn’t post daily COVID update” via Jane Musgrave of The Palm Beach Post — Roughly two weeks after Florida health officials failed to update the daily coronavirus report on a Saturday, the state on Wednesday afternoon still hadn’t released any new numbers to show how many deaths and cases had been logged in the last 24 hours. Officials at the Florida Department of Health didn’t immediately respond to an email to explain the reasons for the delay. Wednesday’s glitch on the state website is the second one this month. On Oct. 10, no new numbers were released by state health officials. Initially, they blamed the lapse on a data dump by Helix, a private lab. However, days later, they backtracked and said Helix was not responsible.

Florida to investigate all COVID-19 deaths after questions about ‘integrity’ of data” via Marc Freeman, Andrew Boryga and Cindy Krischer Goodman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Florida, which has reported the deaths of over 16,400 people from COVID-19, now says the public may not be able to trust any of those numbers. The state Department of Health ordered an investigation of all pandemic fatalities, one week after House Speaker José Oliva slammed the death data from medical examiners as “often lacking in rigor” and undermining “the completeness and reliability of the death records.” The political battle over COVID-19 death reporting — and now the new review — follows DeSantis’ push for a full reopening of the state’s businesses and tourist attractions and a picture of the virus being so under control, Tampa should host a packed Super Bowl in early February.

Spectrum News Poll suggests the majority of Floridians want a statewide mask mandate” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — A Spectrum News poll released Wednesday suggests Floridians remain split on nearly all but one issue: a statewide mask mandate. DeSantis has pushed back against a statewide mask mandate since the onset of the pandemic and deferred much of the COVID-19 response to local governments, arguing that city and county officials are best positioned to manage their jurisdiction’s unique needs. The Spectrum poll, however, reported that 67% of Floridians believe there should be a state law mandating wearing masks at all times in public. The poll also showed that 56% of Floridians view COVID-19 as the main problem facing the state.


Miami Springs nursing home with 52 COVID deaths fined $67,000, but not stripped of license” via Ben Wieder and Meghan Bobrowsky of the Miami Herald — Five months after shutting the doors of the Fair Havens Center to new residents, Florida regulators issued the facility a $67,000 fine but reached a settlement that stopped short of revoking its license, as regulators had initially sought to do in June. The fine covers both COVID-19-related infractions and the home’s violation of a resident’s do-not-resuscitate order in 2019. Fair Havens was fined $45,000 for “failing to follow CDC guidelines relating to COVID-19 infections” and failing to quarantine 11 residents who had been exposed to COVID-19 and required to pay a $6,000 fee for a six-month survey cycle. It will also be added to the state’s watch list for troubled nursing homes.

Fair Havens Center has been fined for COVID-19 deaths, but still retains its license.

They drew outrage as they voted without masks. They showed how no one enforces the mask law.” via Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — All it took was four voters refusing to wear masks to expose how no one truly must wear them to cast a ballot. The four voters didn’t wear masks even though everyone else around them at Fort Lauderdale’s Coral Ridge Mall wore a mask to protect against the spread of COVID-19. The four voters told the police they all had asthma and said they didn’t need to follow Broward’s mask law because of their medical exemption. And that’s how they went on to vote without masks, revealing how vulnerable the county’s mask law is to anyone who won’t comply with it.

Palm Beach County schools lose 7,300 students — where did they all go?” via Sonja Isger of The Palm Beach Post — As widely forecast and feared, enrollment in Palm Beach County’s public schools has dropped by more than 7,300 students, an unprecedented plunge that is twice as many as departed during the Great Recession and could put in jeopardy $30 million from the state. In a head count taken earlier this month, enrollment for pre-kindergarten through grade 12 in all schools including charters came in at 191,154. When the count is pared to students in district-operated schools only, enrollment is 187,776, the lowest it’s been since 2016. The loss of students is similar to one playing out across the state and the nation as the pandemic steers parents to alternate education options.

Palm Beach County must stay ‘very cautious’ as COVID-19 cases rise, health director warns” via Wells Dusenbury of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Palm Beach County must stay vigilant to ward off COVID-19 as the region prepares for more infections, warns Dr. Alina Alonso, the county’s health department director. “I’m not causing panic,” Alonso said Tuesday at a county meeting, citing concern about the growing number of daily cases. “I’m simply saying that we have to be very cautious as we look at these numbers and try to determine where they’re coming from and be prepared to do what we need to do to put perhaps additional control measures in terms of stopping the spread of COVID.” Despite the state lifting prior restrictions, Alonso said there were other tools the county could use to reduce the spread of COVID, including a curfew.

Key West’s Sunset Celebration has hit tough times during COVID-19. Will this help?” via Gwen Filosa of Florida Keys News — Sunset Celebration, the nightly event in Key West built around the island’s spectacular sunsets, says it’s hurting financially due in part to the pandemic. Now, the city has stepped in to help the nonprofit behind the decades-old event by cutting the rent at Mallory Square. The Key West City Commission, without discussion, reduced the nonprofit’s rent from $200 per night to $500 per month for the next six months. For the city, it’s a loss of $5,583 per month in revenue, or $33,500 for six months.


Dinner may be the most dangerous part of sports during the pandemic” via Louise Radnofsky and Andrew Beaton of The Wall Street Journal — The NFL season has been sacked by bursts of COVID-19 cases over the last several weeks. The virus doesn’t appear to have spread from team to team on the field. That echoes the experience of other professional sports that have played during the pandemic without transmitting the virus during competition. It’s everything else that’s the problem. Traveling and sharing a locker room are more suspect than humongous people tackling one another. And one ritual may be scarier than everything else: having dinner together. Breaking bread played a starring role in team outbreaks at Notre Dame and on both the Tennessee Titans and New England Patriots, for example. 

CDC expands definition of who is a ‘close contact’ of an individual with COVID-19” via Lena H. Sun of The Washington Post — Federal health officials issued new guidance that greatly expands the pool of people considered at risk of contracting the novel coronavirus by changing the definition of who is a “close contact” of an infected individual. The change by The CDC is likely to have its biggest impact in schools, workplaces and other group settings where people are in contact with others for long periods of time. It also underscores the importance of mask-wearing to prevent spread of the virus, even as Trump and his top coronavirus adviser raise doubts about such guidance.

The CDC is redefining ‘close contact.’

The ‘shocking’ impact of COVID-19: Americans, young and old, have lost 2.5 million years of life, Harvard researcher says” via Karen Weintraub of USA Today — A world-class molecular biologist and geneticist, Stephen Elledge, calculated life expectancy for more than 200,000 Americans who have died of COVID-19 and made two surprising findings: COVID-19 has cost Americans 2.5 million years of life, about as much as from six months of cancer deaths. And roughly half that loss has come from people who died in middle age, not their waning years. Most people don’t understand life expectancy, he said. It doesn’t stay the same from the day you’re born until the day you die.


1,600 people to be laid off from Orlando-based Hilton Grand Vacations timeshare company” via Caroline Glenn of the Orlando Sentinel — After more than six months on unpaid furloughs, 1,600 employees are being permanently laid off from Orlando-based Hilton Grand Vacations, one of the country’s largest timeshare companies. In a letter sent to employees earlier this month, the company’s executive vice president Charles Corbin wrote that for the affected employees, their last day will be Oct. 31. He said they would be eligible for severance, but health benefits for the most part would expire that same day. Spokeswoman Lindsay Graham would not say how many of the employees are based in Orlando. In July, however, Hilton Grand Vacations notified the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity that it would be extending furloughs for 1,550 people at nine Orlando locations.


New York’s new virus cases exceed 2,000 for first time since May” via Keshia Clukey of Bloomberg — New York state posted more than 2,000 new COVID-19 cases for the first time since May, a surge that officials are desperate to head off as they prepare to distribute vaccines in the new year. Of the nearly 125,000 tests conducted statewide on Tuesday, 1.6% were positive, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a briefing in Albany. Excluding hot spots resulted in a 1.4% positive average. “Though we made a lot of progress, the numbers are still not acceptable,” he said. The positivity rate in the hot spots, many in Brooklyn, Queens and Rockland County, was 6.6% as of Tuesday. Cuomo said he would ease restrictions for areas that have made improvements, while most would remain the same.

Andrew Cuomo announces more than 2,000 new COVID-19 cases, the first time since May. Image via AP.

COVID-19 vaccines to be stored secretly under tight security” via Jared S. Hopkins of The Wall Street Journal — Health authorities, hospitals and pharmaceutical companies are storing COVID-19 vaccines in secure, undisclosed locations and taking other steps to protect the shots against a looming threat: theft. As the leading vaccine candidates advance closer to use, vaccine makers such as Pfizer Inc. are deploying GPS software for tracking distribution and plotting fake shipments in dummy trucks to confuse criminals. Glassmaker Corning Inc. is equipping vials with black-light verification to curb counterfeiting. And some hospitals expected to be among the first vaccination sites are beefing up their pharmacies’ security systems. 


Feds consider plan to transfer Florida wetlands permitting to state” via Zachary T. Sampson of the Tampa Bay Times — To start the virtual meeting, an Environmental Protection Agency official sought to make one point clear: “No decision on Florida’s request has been made,” said Jeaneanne Gettle, the water division director for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Southeast region. But even as the agency deliberates on whether to give the state control over key wetlands permitting, advocates on both sides have long since made up their minds. During a video meeting rife with hiccups, environmentalists and residents traded old salvos. Of concern is whether the Florida Department of Environmental Protection should regulate more decisions on dredging and filling wetlands — an aspect of much development in Florida — rather than the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Palm Beach County recovery advocates to Sackler family: You belong in jail” via Hannah Morse of The Palm Beach Post — Two Palm Beach County recovery advocates have scathing words for members of the Sackler family, who own the company that makes the highly addictive drug OxyContin: You belong in jail. The message from Commissioner Melissa McKinlay and Maureen Kielian, of Southeast Florida Recovery Advocates, comes after the Justice Department announced Wednesday that Purdue Pharma would plead guilty to three federal criminal charges and agreed to an $8 billion settlement. As The Palm Beach Post detailed in its July 2018 series “How Florida ignited the heroin epidemic,” Purdue Pharma’s OxyContin painkiller got the nation addicted to painkillers through aggressive marketing and by persuading the country that the main ingredient, oxycodone, could be taken every day without becoming addictive.

Palm Beach County believes the Sackler family should be ‘in jail.’

Paul Singer’s $41 billion hedge fund moving headquarters to Florida” via Hema Parmar, Katia Porzecanski and Jonathan Levin of Bloomberg — Florida is luring its biggest name yet in hedge funds: Paul Singer’s Elliott Management Corp. The $41 billion firm plans to move its headquarters to West Palm Beach from Midtown Manhattan, according to people familiar with the matter, joining a growing list of funds that have relocated to the Sunshine State. With no individual income taxes, estate taxes or capital gains taxes, Florida has become a hot destination for hedge funds in recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated that shift away from New York. Elliott will keep its New York presence and also open an office in Greenwich, Connecticut. Singer, 76, will stay in the Northeast. A spokesman for the firm declined to comment.


Senate Judiciary Democrats plan to boycott a Thursday vote to send Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination forward.” via Nicholas Fandos of The New York Times — Democrats plan to boycott a Senate Judiciary Committee vote to approve the nomination of Judge Barrett to the Supreme Court in a symbolic move intended to protest Republicans’ push to confirm Trump’s nominee before Election Day. Around the time that the committee convenes, Democrats intend to gather instead on the steps of the Capitol for a news conference spotlighting their opposition to Barrett and an extraordinarily swift confirmation process they say has been deeply unfair. Three Democratic aides who discussed the plans cautioned on Wednesday that they were still subject to change.

Democrats threaten to boycott the confirmation vote for Amy Coney Barrett.

Rick Scott calls for cruises to resume” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — U.S. Sen. Scott said Wednesday it’s time for the federal government to pave a path to resume commercial cruises. The Senator, appearing on the Brian Kilmeade Show on the Fox News Radio network, asserted that he’s been “trying to get the Centers for Disease Control to work with the cruise industry” on a way to bring back the sector that has been shuttered since the March advent of COVID-19. The current CDC no-sail order extends through the end of October 2020, and the Senator clearly believes even that is too long to wait without usable guidance to bring the sector back. “150,000 jobs in Florida,” Scott said. “Just tell the cruise industry, come up with a plan of how they can get back to work safely.”

Spotted — Ballard Partners in POLITICO’s list of Top 20 lobbying firms in D.C. According to Lobbying Disclosure Act revenue filings for the third quarter of 2020, Ballard Partners took in $6.8 million (versus $6.5 million in Q2 2020 and $5.1 million in Q3 2019).           


State attorney drops objection to releasing secret Jeffrey Epstein documents” via John Pacenti of The Palm Beach Post — Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg has reversed course and now says he would welcome the release of secret grand jury testimony that may shine light on why a predecessor went so easy on sexual predator Epstein. The decision by the county’s top prosecutor removes one impediment to the release of the testimony. The incoming Palm Beach County clerk and comptroller, Joe Abruzzo, also says he is open to releasing the records if he can do so legally. The county’s chief circuit judge has assigned the case to Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Donald Hafele, who is being asked to decide whether the Epstein grand jury materials may be released.

Jacksonville City Hall hasn’t performed its own financial analysis of Lot J” via Christopher Hong of The Florida Times-Union — Jacksonville City Hall has not performed an independent financial analysis of Shad Khan’s proposed Lot J mixed-use development and is instead relying on assumptions about the project’s economic benefits that have been provided by the billionaire’s development team, which is seeking as much as $233.3 million in subsidies from taxpayers. In fact, a summary of Lot J’s estimated economic benefits provided to City Council members, which was prepared by Mayor Lenny Curry’s office and Khan’s development team, contains the same figures — and in some cases nearly the exact same words — included in a summary of an entertainment district built by one of Khan’s development partners in Texas.

Development plans for Lot J could get a city audit. Image via Jacksonville Jaguars.

Orlando airport leaders will review their lobbying rules following Sentinel report” via Jason Garcia of the Orlando Sentinel — The agency that runs Orlando International Airport will reexamine its lobbying rules. Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, who holds a seat on the board of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, asked for the review, along with a public workshop at which airport board members “can make some decisions about whether that policy needs to be modified.” The board is comprised of five gubernatorial appointees, plus the mayors of Orlando and Orange County. Christina Daly Brodeur, a lobbyist at Ballard Partners, called four of those Governor-appointed members in early July on behalf of a client. The rules require lobbyists to report their contacts with board members within one week. Brodeur did not disclose her calls until nearly three months later.

Group slams Sachs poll reporting 70% support for children’s services tax in Leon County” via Ryan Dailey of WFSU — A recent poll commissioned by Sachs Media Group shows overwhelming support among Leon County voters for creating a Children’s Services Council. Barney Bishop, with the group Citizens for Responsible Spending, isn’t buying it. The Sachs poll’s major finding was 70% of Leon Voters planned to vote for the new tax and creation of a Council. About a quarter of voters responded that they were unsure, the PR firm reported, and 22% opposed the measure. “This idea that 70% of the people support a Children’s Services tax is hogwash, and the poll is as well,” Bishop told media. “Because, it doesn’t give us what the question is, and it doesn’t give us any of the crosstabs.”


The real divide in America is between political junkies and everyone else” via Yanna Krupnikov and John Barry Ryan of The New York Times — We found that most Americans, upward of 80% to 85% follow politics casually or not at all. Just 15% to 20% follow it closely: the group of people who monitor everything from covfefe to the politics of “Cuties.” At the start of the year (i.e., pre-pandemic), we asked people to name the two most important issues facing the country. As expected, we found some clear partisan divides: For example, Republicans are more likely than Democrats to cite illegal immigration as an important issue. But on a number of other issues, we found that Americans fall much less neatly into partisan camps. 


Trump will end his presidency as he began it: Whining” via George F. Will of The Washington Post — As the Trump parenthesis in the republic’s history closes, he is opening the sluices on his reservoir of invectives and self-pity. A practitioner of crybaby conservatism, no one, he thinks, has suffered so much since Job lost his camels and acquired boils, and ever a weakling, Trump will end his presidency as he began it: whining. His first day cloaked in presidential dignity he spent disputing photographic proof that his inauguration crowd was substantially smaller than his immediate predecessor’s. He will likely leave without a trace of John McCain’s graciousness on election night 2008.

Federal and state help needed to avoid a housing crash” via The Florida Times-Union editorial board — A second federal stimulus is badly needed to protect millions of Americans from homelessness and financial devastation. A total of 90 percent of Americans support a second stimulus to help small businesses and employees, according to a poll conducted by Morning Consult for the American Hotel & Lodging Association. That broad support includes 92 percent of Democrats and 89 percent of Republicans. In fact, this overwhelming majority say Congress should remain in session until an agreement is reached. How big is the problem? About 1 in 3 adults say they could face eviction or foreclosure in the next months, reports the U.S. Census Bureau. 


Something odd is happening to the Florida COVID-19 casualty reports. The Department of Health usually updates the numbers shortly after 11 a.m. … but Wednesday, the stats were delayed for six hours without explanation, except to say the state Surgeon General plans to make some changes in the way fatalities are reported.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— When the state finally released the numbers, the DOH recorded 105 new deaths and 2,145 new cases of COVID-19. The pandemic has also claimed 1,600 more jobs. That’s the number of employees laid off by an Orlando timeshare company.

— U.S. Rep. Crist is going to bat for union workers in Florida, including the Postal Service. The USPS has become a pawn in the presidential campaign and employees are fed up.

— Environment Florida is releasing a new report on the increased use of renewable energy. They say we’ve come a long way over the past decade.

— According to the report, Florida is a national leader in electric vehicles … but the Sunshine State lags in (of all things) solar energy.

— Sunrise speaks with civil justice protesters talking about the Governor’s proposal to crack down on demonstrations.

— And finally, two Florida Man stories that include flying squirrels and meat cleavers. Don’t worry, they didn’t use the cleavers on the squirrels.

To listen, click on the image below:

— ALOE —

Why you won’t see the Charlie Brown TV specials in the usual places this year” via Nardine Saad of the Los Angeles Times — It’s the Great Apple contract, Charlie Brown. Wah wah woh wah wah. The Peanuts gang and their annual holiday specials have left broadcast television for their new home, Apple TV+. Titles including “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving” and “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” will stream exclusively on the platform rather than on ABC and other networks this year. But that doesn’t mean Peanuts fans will completely miss out on their traditional viewing of the beloved 1960s programs. The Halloween special is already available but will be streamed for free on Apple TV+ from Oct. 30 until Nov. 1.

A Charlie Brown Christmas moves off broadcast TV to streaming services.


Celebrating today is my friend Tony Carvajal, as well as former Sen. Nancy Detert, former Rep. Jim Boyd, great man Watson Haynes and Jonathan Uriarte, communications director for U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy.


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 @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
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