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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 10.30.20

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

With the election just days away and polls showing Florida could go either way, there was no other place for President Donald Trump and challenger Joe Biden to be than in our state.

Trump played to an amped-up crowd in Tampa at Raymond James Stadium, home of the NFL’s Buccaneers. He was introduced by First Lady Melania Trump, who noted the “hate, negativity and fear” of the media.

The large, sunbaked, and mostly maskless crowd that came showed up hours before the rally began. They were ready to devour red meat.

He gave it to them.

Donald and Melania Trump approach the stage in Tampa before throwing red meat to the crowd. Image via AP.

“There will be no school. No graduations. No weddings, no Thanksgivings. No Christmases, no Fourth of July. There will be nothing. They will allow you nothing,” he roared as the crowd booed.

Interestingly, he didn’t spend much time on Thursday’s good economic news. The gross domestic product grew 7 points in the last quarter, but he stuck to familiar riffs and rips.

“They say, ‘Talk about your economic success. Talk about 33.1 percent, the greatest in history.’ Now, look, if I do, I mean, how many times can I say it?” Trump said.

At the same of Trump’s rally, Biden was across the state in Coconut Creek for a drive-in rally before heading to Tampa for an early-evening drive-in event.

Biden, predictably, focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, raging again as experts warned would happen.

“I know it’s hard. Over the past few months, there’s been so much pain, so much suffering, so much loss,” Biden said. “Millions of people out there are out of work, on the edge, can’t see the light of the end of the tunnel, and Donald Trump has given up.”

Biden reminded the crowd what’s at stake.

“Five days, folks,” he said. “If Florida goes blue, it’s over. It’s over.”

___

Mike Fasano is an old-guard Republican in deep-red Pasco County, where he is the Tax Collector. He led Pasco’s Young Republicans and eventually became Majority Leader of the Florida House and President Pro Temp of the Senate.

He is close friends with some of Tallahassee’s most powerful members of the GOP. Fasano also has a deserved reputation for standing on principle and thoughtfully speaking his mind.

So, some might have been surprised when Fasano declared Thursday that he is a “Biden Republican” in the presidential race. But it’s really not that surprising.

He called Trump an embarrassment.”

“His lack of decency, compassion, integrity, and patriotism is so far removed from the Reagan Revolution — which included Reagan Democrats and Reagan independents — it’s unrecognizable,” he said.

— OTHER NOTES —

😵One every 107 seconds: That’s how many Americans are dying from COVID-19 in the U.S. on average. An American tests positive for the virus every 1.2 seconds.

🙅🏻‍♀️ — When politics taints health messaging: A $250 million Health and Human Services campaign to “defeat despair” was reportedly tainted by politics after 95% of celebrities considered for ads were rejected because they had criticized Trump, praised former President Barack Obama, or expressed support for LGBTQ issues. Now the campaign is suspended pending an independent review, reports The Washington Post.

📈Swing state virus surge: Trump wants voters to believe the COVID-19 pandemic is on the wane, but in the states where he needs it the most, that’s definitely not the case. In all 13 states that Cook Political Report considers competitive, new daily cases have jumped 45% over the past two weeks, according to The Washington Post.

🙉Hear no evil: FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver isn’t mincing words about American’s reluctance to trust polling this year after polls “got it wrong” by some accounts in 2016. After pointing out he and other analysts “warned folks that Trump could win” and pointing out that “a lot of people didn’t heed that warning,” Silver cut to the chase. “I don’t really give a s**t because I can’t do anything about the election outcome. Obviously, I can predict that some people might get disillusioned, etc. But it’s not something within my control. FiveThirtyEight gives Trump an 11% chance of winning the election.

💻Let me Google that for you: Google launched an interesting visualization tool showing how trends have changed this year from past elections and highlight some terms gaining traction in this contentious election year. Top search spikes include “racism,” which peaked in May and June in the wake of the George Floyd killing, “unemployment,” which spiked in the spring amid COVID-related shutdowns, and “postal voting,” which peaked in late summer amid questions about the viability of the postal service amid Trump administration changes.

💪Not those guns: Citing concerns over civil unrest, Walmart has pulled all guns and ammunition from its sales floor in all U.S. stores. Second Amendment buffs fear not. Customers can still purchase guns and ammo at stores; they just have to request them.

💀Forget Xanax, get a giant skeleton: As Americans remain haunted by the pandemic, they’re turning to relief by doing a little haunting of their own … with a giant 12-foot Home Depot skeleton complete with moving, bulging eyes. Ask one Ohio man who drove 70 miles, ignoring his car’s gas light, to beat other customers for the last one in the state.

The only thing that can save Halloween — a 12-foot-tall $300 skeleton.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@MaggieNYT: A perfect distillation of the President’s approach — calling a reporter a “criminal” for not reporting the way the President wants, then retweeting a crowd shot from same reporter days later.

@JTHVerhovek: Biden tells reporters in Fort Lauderdale: “Florida can decide this right out of the box. Right out of the box. If we win Florida, it’s game time, and it’s over, it’s over. We feel good, working like the devil.”

Tweet, tweet:

@RAlexAndradeFL: I’m curious to know how much fossil fuel was burned at that Biden drive through today. I’m relieved @realDonaldTrump has prioritized our environment in his campaign strategy.

@AGGancasrki: I wish I had a picture of Katrina Brown and Reggie Brown together where they weren’t literally laughing in my face. But this is Jacksonville, where people in power routinely laugh at people they think they can get over on.

@JaredEMoskowitz: @jack [Dorsey] to replace ⁦⁦@IanMcKellen in the next Lord of the Rings

— DAYS UNTIL —

2020 General Election — 4; NBA 2020-21 training camp — 11; FITCon Policy Conference begins — 13; The Masters begins — 13; NBA draft — 19; Pixar’s “Soul” premieres — 21; College basketball season slated to begin — 26; NBA 2020-21 opening night — 33; Florida Automated Vehicles Summit — 33; the Electoral College votes — 45; “Death on the Nile” premieres — 48; “Wonder Woman 1984” rescheduled premiere — 56; Greyhound racing ends in Florida — 62; the 2021 Inauguration — 82; Super Bowl LV in Tampa — 100; “A Quiet Place Part II” rescheduled premiere — 111; “Black Widow” rescheduled premiere — 125; “No Time to Die” premieres (rescheduled) — 154; “Top Gun: Maverick” rescheduled premiere — 245; Disney’s “Shang Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings” premieres — 252; new start date for 2021 Olympics — 266; “Jungle Cruise” premieres — 274; Disney’s “Eternals” premieres — 371; “Spider-Man Far From Home” sequel premieres — 374; Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” premieres — 406; “Thor: Love and Thunder” premieres — 470; “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” premieres — 523; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” sequel premieres — 704.

— THE MODELS —

To get a reasonable idea of how the presidential race is playing out, state polling is the way to go — particularly in battleground states like Florida. Some outlets offer a poll of polls, gauging how 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 Thursday, the CNN average still has Biden at 52% compared to an equally steady 42% for Trump. The CNN Poll of Polls tracks the national average in the presidential race. They include the most recent national telephone surveys meeting CNN’s standards for reporting and which measure the views of registered or likely voters. The poll of polls does not have a margin of sampling error.

FiveThirtyEight.com: As of Thursday, Biden rises to an 89 in 100 chance of winning compared to Trump, who remains at an 11 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 36%, while Florida is second at 10.7%. Michigan is now third with 8%. Other states include Wisconsin (6.8%), Arizona (6%), Minnesota (5.9%), North Carolina (5.6%) and Georgia (4.1%).

Heading into the campaigns’ final weekend, Joe Biden still has a slight advantage over Donald Trump.

PredictIt: As of Thursday, the PredictIt trading market has Biden bumping up to $0.68 a share, with Trump sliding to $0.38.

Real Clear Politics: As of Thursday, the RCP average of General Election top battleground state polling has Biden leading Trump 51.1% to 43.7%. The RCP General Election polling average has Biden at +7.4 points ahead.

The Economist: As of Thursday, 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 is around 19 in 20 (96%) versus Trump with less than 1 in 20 (4%). They still give Biden a greater than 99% chance (better than 19 in 20) of winning the popular vote, with Trump at less than 1% (less than 1 in 20).

— PRESIDENTIAL —

In closing days, Donald Trump and Joe Biden push opposing pandemic strategies” via Anne Gearan, Amy B Wang and John Wagner of The Washington Post — Trump pushed ahead with a strategy for the closing days of the campaign that minimizes the threat from the coronavirus pandemic, misstates his record in confronting it and mocks Biden’s caution in campaigning amid a disease that has killed more than 225,000 Americans. During remarks in Delaware, Biden blasted Trump for what he characterized as recklessness in handling the pandemic as Trump held crowded rallies in Arizona. With five days to go before Election Day on Nov. 3, the two candidates have crystallized opposing messages on a pandemic that has affected most aspects of American life, including voting.

Joe Biden is taking a different approach to the pandemic than Donald Trump. Image via AP.

The 2020 presidential election is on track for a record gender gap” via Aaron Zitner, James Benedict, and Luis Melgar of The Wall Street Journal — Analysts have presented several explanations for why the voting gender gap exists and why it has grown under Trump. Many start with the economy. Trump says he has earned reelection because of the state of the economy before the coronavirus hit. But men appear to be more receptive to that argument than women. As a group, women didn’t view the economy as strong even during the long recovery after the financial crisis of 2008-2009. By contrast, men turned net positive on the economy in 2017, about a year after Trump took office. The COVID-19 recession has exacerbated the disparities between men and women in the labor market. At least a decade of women’s progress has been wiped out by the pandemic, with 865,000 women leaving the workforce in September of this year.

Trump confronts his 50% problem” via David Siders and Zach Montellaro of POLITICO — Trump won the presidency with 46% of the popular vote. His approval rating has never hit 50%. He remains under 50% in national polling averages. The President’s inability to capture a majority of support sheds light on his extraordinary attempts to limit the number of votes cast across the battleground state map, a massive campaign-within-a-campaign to maximize Trump’s chances of winning a contest in which he’s all but certain to earn less than 50% of the vote. Never before in modern presidential politics has a candidate been so reliant on wide-scale efforts to depress the vote as Trump.

Will Trump or Biden win Florida? Here’s how either could do it” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — Twenty years after the late NBC political reporter Tim Russert famously predicted that “Florida, Florida, Florida” would decide the 2000 election, the Sunshine State remains the most coveted Election Night prize. And it’s just as divided as it was at the turn of the millennium. Who will win Florida’s 29 Electoral College votes, the Republican, Trump, or his Democratic rival, former Vice President Biden? At this stage, polls give a slight edge to Biden, though most are within the margin of error. Trump has few paths to victory without Florida. Biden has other routes but would love to deliver a first-round blow to the President.

‘We’ve got to stop the bleeding’: Democrats sound alarm in Miami” via Marc Caputo and Matt Dixon of Politico — Democrats are sounding the alarm about weak voter turnout rates in Florida’s biggest county, Miami-Dade, where a strong Republican showing is endangering Joe Biden’s chances in the nation’s biggest swing state. No Democrat can win Florida without a huge turnout and big winning margins here to offset losses elsewhere in the state. But Democrats are turning out at lower rates than Republicans and at lower rates than at this point in 2016, when Hillary Clinton won by 29 percentage points here and still lost the state to Donald Trump.

How Florida could prevent a drawn-out election — and deliver a decisive blow to Trump” via David Catanese and David Smiley of the Miami Herald — The idea that anyone would look to Florida for clarity on election night strikes some as ironic, given the state’s history of tight margins and drawn-out recounts. But a 2 or 3-point victory by either Biden or Trump would likely allow for an election night call in Florida. A massive number of mail ballots dropped off on Election Day could always complicate things. But Broward County elections office spokesman Steve Vancore said as much as 85% of the total vote in Broward County could be released on the county website by 7:15 p.m., leaving little to the imagination. “We’re hoping to start Tuesday morning with zero ballots uncounted,” he said.

Biden makes pitch to Floridians amid closing 2020 stretch: ‘You hold the key’” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Biden reemphasized the importance of Florida in the 2020 presidential election Thursday, as he spoke to socially-distanced rallygoers in Broward County. “This election is the most important one you’ve ever voted in whether it’s your first or tenth,” Biden told the crowd. “Right here in Florida, it’s up to you. You hold the key. If Florida goes blue, it’s over.” Biden can almost certainly bank on a win if he defeats Trump in Florida. Without Florida’s 29 electoral votes, Trump would face a nearly insurmountable path to a second term. The President is well aware of that reality, as he hosted a simultaneous rally in Tampa Thursday as Biden spoke to deep-blue Broward County.

Poll: Biden holds narrow lead in Florida” via Mark Murray of NBC News — Biden holds a slight 4-point lead over Trump in the battleground of Florida, fueled by his standing among seniors and independents, according to the final NBC News/Marist poll of the state before Tuesday’s presidential election. Biden is supported by 51% of likely voters, while Trump gets 47%. Just a combined 2% of likely Florida voters are undecided or are voting for another candidate. Importantly, Biden’s lead is within the poll’s margin of error of plus-minus 4.4 percentage points.

Biden holds onto slim lead over Trump in latest Florida polls” via Amber Randall and Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Two A+ rated polls, the NBC/Marist poll, and the Monmouth University poll, showed a slight gap between the two presidential candidates. The NBC/Marist poll has Biden leading Trump by five points, and the Monmouth University poll showing Biden leading Trump by four to six points in likely voter scenarios. Sampling registered Florida voters, the Monmouth University poll found that 50% of voters were for Biden, and 45% were for Trump.

In Tampa, Trump could have talked about the economy. Instead, he kept to the script advisers warned him against.” via Glenn Thrush of The New York Times — Democrats braced for what promised to be a rare good-news cycle for Trump in the 2020 homestretch: the release of a report showing gross domestic product grew about 7% in the third quarter, or 30% on an annualized basis, the fastest growth since reliable records began after World War II. But Trump, campaigning in Tampa just hours before Biden was set to appear at a rally across town, spent only about five minutes on the economy, calling the G.D.P. figure the “biggest event in business” of the last 50 years.

Biden makes pitch to Floridians amid closing 2020 stretch: ‘You hold the key’” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Biden reemphasized the importance of Florida in the 2020 presidential election Thursday, as he spoke to socially-distanced rallygoers in Broward County. “This election is the most important one you’ve ever voted in whether it’s your first or tenth,” Biden told the crowd. “Right here in Florida, it’s up to you. You hold the key. If Florida goes blue, it’s over.” Biden can almost certainly bank on a win if he defeats Trump in Florida. Without Florida’s 29 electoral votes, Trump would face a nearly insurmountable path to a second term. The President is well aware of that reality, as he hosted a simultaneous rally in Tampa Thursday as Biden spoke to deep-blue Broward County.

Joe Biden makes his final pitch to Tampa. Image via News4Jax.

In the Democratic stronghold of Broward County, Biden appealed to Latino voters to reject the President.” via Patricia Mazzei of The New York Times — As Trump rallied in Tampa, Biden held a drive-in campaign event on the other side of Florida in the Democratic stronghold of Broward County, making an explicit pitch to Hispanic voters five days before the election. Recent polls suggest that while Florida is effectively tied, Trump has made inroads with Latinos, a crucial demographic in Florida and other battleground states. In South Florida, the President has especially consolidated his popularity among Cuban Americans, including newer Cuban immigrants. “Cuba is no closer to freedom and democracy today than it was four years ago,” Biden, in shirt sleeves and sunglasses, said at Broward College’s North Campus in Coconut Creek.

‘There’s our next President!’ Fort Lauderdale residents say as Biden makes surprise visit to campaign office” via Susannah Bryan of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Biden paid a surprise visit to a predominantly Black neighborhood in Fort Lauderdale late Thursday afternoon to help energize voters. As Biden walked up to the campaign office on Sistrunk Boulevard just before 5 p.m., women cheered. “There’s our next President!” one shouted. “There’s our next President!” Biden reminded everyone that Sunday was the last day for early voting. Biden was accompanied by the Miami Heat’s Udonis Haslem and Matt Barnes, who played with the Golden State Warriors until his last season in 2017. The NBA players had helped organize some impromptu voter events after Biden’s drive-in rally earlier in the day in Coconut Creek.

Veteran Pete Buttigieg hosts rally for Joe Biden at Gold Star Memorial in West Palm Beach” via The Palm Beach Post — Ex-Navy officer and former presidential candidate Buttigieg invoked the memory of a fellow Navy veteran, the late GOP U.S. Sen. John McCain, in calling for Americans to “come together.” “Cindy McCain reminds us you can either be a John McCain Republican, or you can be a Donald Trump Republican, but you cannot be both,” Buttigieg said. “You have to choose right now.” Buttigieg spoke to a masked and socially-distanced crowd of military personnel and supporters at the Gold Star Memorial during a campaign stop in West Palm Beach in support of Biden and Harris. The rally coincided with Biden’s appearance in Coconut Creek, where he began the day before heading to a rally in Tampa.

“‘Lie, cheat and steal’ is Democrats’ description of Trump in TV ad airing in South Florida” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The Democratic Party is making a withering assault on Trump in a closing-argument TV ad that starts airing Thursday in South Florida. The Democratic National Committee said the 60-second ad, titled “Deserves,” is designed to show “who Trump really is: someone with a long record of lying, cheating, and stealing his way through life and whose failed leadership has plunged Florida into crisis.” The ad is part of a six-figure ad buy in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale TV market. It begins airing five days before Election Day and as Florida moves into the final weekend of early voting.

How Democrats lost the Cuban vote and jeopardized their future in Florida” via Noah Lanard of Mother Jones — In 2018, Florida House District 110 swung 17 points to the right after Florida Republicans made socialism a central issue in the midterms and prioritized outreach to Latinos. Going into 2020, it was clear that Democrats had a major problem with Cuban voters, particularly among the more working-class recent immigrants that it once counted on to counterbalance the conservatism of older exiles. Instead of dealing with the problem, many South Florida Democrats told me, the party let it fester. Fernand Amandi, who helped shape Hispanic outreach for Obama’s reelection campaign as president of the consulting firm Bendixen & Amandi, said Florida Republicans have been running an almost permanent campaign since nearly losing the Cuban vote in 2012.

Kamala Harris to tour South Florida for final weekend push” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Harris will be visiting South Florida Saturday to help drive Democratic turnout in the campaign’s final days. According to a release from the Joe Biden presidential campaign, Harris will make multiple stops across South Florida’s tri-county area. “On Saturday, October 31, Kamala Harris will travel to Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties in Florida to encourage Floridians to vote on the final weekend of early voting,” the release reads. No additional details were available as of early Thursday. Harris’ trip builds on both presidential campaigns’ efforts to woo voters in one of the most important states this election cycle.

Kamala Harris will make one more sweep of South Florida this weekend. Image via AP.

—“Shevrin Jones, Wayne Messam to host weekend early voting event in Miramar” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

Jill Biden to visit Tallahassee on Sunday” via Tallahassee Democrat staff reports — Dr. Biden, wife of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, will visit Tallahassee on Sunday. The Biden campaign on Friday confirmed the stop, along with ones planned for Orlando and Tampa. More information, including locations on all three, was as yet unavailable. “Additional details to follow,” an advisory said. The former Second Lady will “encourage Floridians to vote on the final weekend of early voting,” it added. Sunday is the final day of “souls to the polls,” in which pastors encourage churchgoers to vote after Sunday services. Black voters, in particular, turn out on the Sunday before Election Day.

‘Trump is an embarrassment’: ‘Reagan Republican’ Mike Fasano backs Joe Biden” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Fasano has never voted for a Democrat for President. That changes this year. Fasano, a moderate who considers himself a “Reagan Republican,” announced via a new ad Thursday that he plans to cast his ballot this year for Biden. The ad begins with Fasano introducing his political career, beginning as president of the Pasco County Young Republicans and then later as an elected member of the Florida House of Representatives and Florida Senate, where he held leadership roles in both. He also described his appointment to his current Tax Collector role by Republican Gov. Rick Scott, a job for which he was subsequently reelected.

NextGen Florida makes final push for youth to turn Florida blue” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — To help Biden win Florida on Election Day, NextGen Florida is hoping to turn out young voters in the final five days of the presidential campaign. More than 926,000 Floridians under 35 have voted as of Thursday morning, already showing historic turnout. Among voters 18-29, 49% are Democrats, while 24% are unaffiliated voters who NextGen Florida says overwhelmingly support the Democratic presidential nominee. The progressive organization backed by California billionaire Tom Steyer believes young Floridians could shape the presidential election. The Sunshine State is a must-win battleground state for Trump, who has virtually no conceivable path to a second term without the state’s 29 electoral votes.

Duval County Canvassing Board chair resigns following Trump donation and sign controversy” via Andrew Pantazi of The Florida Times-Union — Duval County Canvassing Board Chair Brent Shore has resigned from the board. Chief Judge Mark Mahon said that although Shore resigned, “he indicated he has always conducted himself fairly and impartially.” Shore was an alternate for County Judge Gary Flower, the named chairman of the board but has been absent the last week. County Judge Eleni Derke will now take Shore’s place as the primary alternate. Shore did not resign from his job as a county judge, and the Duval County Canvassing Board has not reversed its decision to ban photography and videotaping of its work.

Duval County Canvassing Board Chair Brent Shore makes a quick exit. Image via First Coast News.

Trump campaign makes play for Latino voters in Pennsylvania” via Jacqueline Alemany of The Washington Post — Latinos make up 4.4% of Pennsylvania voters, according to an analysis conducted by Rodrigo Dominguez Villegas, the research director at UCLA’s Latino Policy and Politics Initiative. They’re a little over 7% of Pennsylvania’s total population. It’s a substantial enough voting bloc to swing a race that could come down to the wire after Trump beat Hillary Clinton by 68,000 votes here in 2016. Biden is ahead in Pennsylvania polls by roughly six percentage points. But key factors, such as a late-starting direct voter outreach effort, could be problematic for the Democrat.

Biden leads in a new poll in Pennsylvania, one of the states that may decide the election.” via Maggie Astor of The New York Times — Quinnipiac University released polls in four major swing states on Thursday, showing Biden leading in Pennsylvania, narrowly ahead in Ohio, and effectively tied with Trump in Florida and Iowa. Biden was ahead of Trump in Pennsylvania by seven points, 51% to 44 percent, and in Ohio by five points, 48% to 43%. His lead in Pennsylvania was outside the margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points, while his lead in Ohio was just inside the margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points. The Florida poll found Biden at 45% and Trump at 42 percent, while the Iowa poll found Trump at 47% and Biden at 46%. Neither of those margins is statistically meaningful.

Texas is a tossup. So why won’t Trump or Biden campaign there?” via Jonathan Martin of The New York Times — When Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas spoke with Trump on the phone last week, he congratulated the President on his debate performance, nudged him to keep driving policy-oriented attacks against his opponent, Biden, and relayed one more message. “We have a fight” in Texas, Cruz said he told Trump, warning him that the country’s second-largest electoral prize was in play and that he should take it seriously. In an interview, Cruz said he expected the President to win here, but that he also saw the same surging liberal energy in his state that had propelled Beto O’Rourke to a closer-than-expected defeat against him two years ago.

— NEW ADS —

A campaign-closing RNC. ad acknowledges what Trump played down: the pandemic and unemployment.” via Jeremy W. Peters of The New York Times — The RNC is going on air in two battleground states in the final days before the election with an ad campaign that acknowledges two issues Trump has often ignored or insisted are irrelevant: the coronavirus pandemic and high unemployment. The ad, which will run in Michigan and North Carolina, is much softer in tone than many of Trump’s commercials. It avoids altogether the divisive racial and cultural themes that have dominated his campaign and run through his messaging, focusing instead on traditional bread-and-butter Republican issues like taxes and job creation.

Joe Biden campaign pushes drop boxes in new ads with the slogan ‘Silence him.’” via Nick Corasaniti of The New York Times — Now that the recommended deadline for returning mail-in ballots has passed, the Biden campaign is running a new series of ads directing voters to cast their ballots by dropbox. To symbolize the power of the vote, the ad opens with a cartoonish animation — a black oval on a white background morphing like the outline of a mouth to the audio of Trump’s comments. As the ad clips together disparaging remarks the President made, pronouncements about the coronavirus, and supportive calls to the Proud Boys, a ballpoint pen slowly enters the frame and begins filling in the black oval. At the end, the screen says, “Silence him. Vote by dropbox.”

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

Biden campaign ad calls out Trump’s ‘inhumane immigration policies’ — Biden’s presidential campaign launched a digital ad, “Separated,” calling out Trump’s “extreme anti-immigrant agenda,” including the administration’s child separation policy. The ad lambastes the policy and includes a clip of Trump saying of the immigrant children, “They’re so well taken care of. They’re in facilities that were so clean.” The ad will run in Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Nevada.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

Unauthorized biography: Democrats launch anti-Trump ad in Miami” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Democrats are launching a 60-second TV commercial in Miami that tells a less-than-flattering life story about Trump. The Democratic National Committee announced Thursday it is airing “Deserves” this week as part of an ongoing six-figure buy in the Miami TV market. The commercial starts with old footage and images of Trump as a young man and as a middle-aged businessman, together with shots of newspaper headlines. A narrator tells Trump’s story, saying he learned from his father how to “lie, cheat, and steal.” The biographical portrait goes downhill from there, as the narrator and the video cite reports of Donald Trump’s failed businesses, bankruptcies, and lawsuits.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

Priorities USA Action, Latino Victory Fund launch another Spanish-language ad in Miami — Latino Victory Fund and Mike Bloomberg’s Priorities USA Action PAC teamed up for another Spanish-language ad. This one, titled “Character,” harps on “Trump’s inability to meet this moment and protect the American people while the coronavirus threatens our health and plunges our economy into a depression.” The ad is set to air in the Miami market. It is part of Bloomberg’s $100 million commitment to Biden win Florida. Bloomberg said of the ad, “We deserve a President who will lead with compassion, strengthen health care for all Americans — instead of just helping his rich friends — and provide the strong leadership we need to bring us out of this pandemic. That’s Joe Biden.”

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

— VOTERS ARE VOTING —

New transparency rules for Florida’s mail-in ballot rejection process cause concern” via Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon of Florida Today — With days to go before Nov. 3, and the possibility of another close presidential election in Florida, recent changes to what the public can observe when a canvassing board scrutinizes mail-in ballots have prompted concerns about the integrity of a final vote count in the Sunshine State. In past years, the process of examining mail-in ballots and checking signatures on ballots that were being considered for rejection by a county’s voter canvassing board was a public affair attended by party officials and anybody else interested. But a court case this summer threw the procedure into question over the concern that the secrecy of a voter’s ballot would be compromised in a precinct with only a single vote cast.

— 2020 — 

Poll: Nearly 70% say election a ‘significant source of stress’” via Lauren Vella of The Hill — Nearly two-thirds of Americans say next week’s election is a “significant source of stress,” according to a survey released by the American Psychological Association. Nearly 70% of adults say that the 2020 U.S. presidential election is a significant stressor, up 16 points from 2016, when 52% of adults said the same. The feeling of anxiety surrounding the election does not differ greatly along party lines, with most Democrats, Republicans and independents surveyed saying it is causing them stress. In the APA survey, 77% of adults said that the nation’s future was a source of stress, up from 11 points from 2019, when 66% of U.S. adults said the same.

Florida failed to spend $10 million for election security, COVID-19 protection at polls” via Jeffrey Schweers of the Tallahassee Democrat — With days to go, Florida has failed to spend more than $10 million designated for election security, COVID-19 protection at the polls and a surge in mailed ballots. A large piece of that pie is $3.5 million that Secretary of State Laurel Lee requested from the Legislature earlier this year for the state’s 67 county supervisors of elections to shore up their systems. The counties didn’t ask for that money. And it remains unspent, sitting in a state account as “unbudgeted reserve.”

Federal judge orders that USPS take steps to get Florida’s last-minute ballots delivered on time” via Joe Byrnes of WMFE 90.7 — Florida’s largest health care workers union has won a federal court order designed to get the state’s last-minute mail-in ballots delivered on time. On Monday and Tuesday, the U.S. Postal Service in each county will collect all the local ballots in one place and hand them over directly. 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East sued the postal service earlier this month after it made sudden changes that slowed down mail delivery. This close to the election in Florida, voters are advised to drop their ballots off instead of putting them in the mail. This close to the election in Florida, voters are advised to drop their ballots off instead of putting them in the mail.

Appeals court upholds ruling on law determining how candidates are listed on ballots” via Jim Saunders of the Pensacola News Journal — A federal appeals court has refused to reconsider a ruling that upheld a decades-old Florida law that determines how candidates are listed on election ballots, nailing down a win for Ron DeSantis’ administration and Republican groups. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday issued a one-page order denying a request by Democratic organizations and other plaintiffs for a hearing by the full court, known as an “en banc” hearing, in a challenge to the constitutionality of the law. The plaintiffs sought the rehearing after a three-judge panel of the Atlanta-based appeals court backed the state.

Ron DeSantis scores a win for how candidates are listed on ballots. Image via AP.

Sanitizer-wielding officials make 2020 the cleanest election” via Gerald Porter Jr. of Bloomberg — The 2020 election, held amid a struggling economy and raging pandemic, is expected to attract throngs of voters. Polling places risk becoming centers of viral transmission, but safety decisions are left to local discretion and budgets. Sanitizer is already in demand in Wisconsin and elsewhere. According to data from the U.S. Elections Project, out of 73 million early votes cast by Wednesday, 34% were cast in person. But with early voting coming to a close in many states, a sizable portion of the more than 150 million expected voters could still pour into polling locations across the country by the end of Election Day.

U.S. Postal Service won’t send Florida ballots to ‘far-flung’ sorting facilities: report” via Garfield Hylton of the Orlando Sentinel — The USPS and Florida’s 67 county supervisor of elections have come to an agreement in federal court regarding voting ballots, according to Law360. The USPS agreed not to send ballots to “far-flung sorting facilities.” David Bradford, who represents 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East in its suit against Postmaster General Louis DeJoy over alleged slowdowns in mail delivery, said USPS would route ballots directly to the counties’ supervisors of elections.

NextGen Florida is ‘fired up for the final five’ — Progressive political group NextGen Florida says it’s ‘fired up for the final five’ days before the election. The outfit says it will spend the last stretch ramping up efforts to contact hundreds of thousands of young voters and help them finalize their plan to vote, guide them through the voting process, and aid in curing their ballots. The group said those efforts would be aided by a $2.6 million digital ad campaign targeting Latino voters. NextGen said it focuses on young voters throughout the state, including in typically red counties such as Escambia, Pasco, and Collier. It says that those regions are already outpacing 2016 in terms of youth turnout.

Assignment editors — Congressman Charlie Crist will participate in a free shuttle service effort by the 13th St. Neighborhood Association. Crist will ride the Enoch Davis Center’s shuttle to the SPC Allstate Center early voting location, noon, 111 18th Ave. South, St. Petersburg.

Assignment editors — Congresswoman Kathy Castor will “take over” Jan Platt Regional Library to “Scare Up the Vote” before Halloween, 7:45 a.m., 3910 S Manhattan Ave., Tampa.

New ad buys

CD 3: Republican Kat Cammack spent $40K on cable ads running from Oct. 29 through Election Day. The ad buy was split across the Gainesville, Jacksonville and Orlando markets. Cammack also spent $21K on a broadcast buy. She has now spent $95K on ads. Democrat Adam Christensen has spent $49K.

Kat Cammack hits TV hard in the final days of the CD 3 race.

CD 4: Republican U.S. Rep. John Rutherford spent $10K on a cable flight running through Election Day in the Jacksonville market. The new ads will air on CNN and Fox News.

CD 15: Wingman PAC purchased $10K in cable ads supporting Republican Scott Franklin in the Tampa market. The ads will air Oct. 29 through Election Day.

CD 16: Democrat Margaret Good made a $35K cable buy for ads running Oct. 29-31 in the Tampa market. She has now spent $1.59M on ads. Republican U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan has spent $1.51M.

CD 27: Democratic U.S. Rep. Donna Shalala made a $191K broadcast buy and a $32K cable buy in the Miami market. Leadership for a Strong America, a political committee backing Republican challenger Maria Elvira Salazar, made an $18K broadcast buy running through Nov. 1. Shalala has now spent $1.92M on ads. Salazar and committees backing her have spent $1.79M.

— LEG. CAMPAIGNS —

FSU icons Bobby Bowden and Corey Simon endorse Marva Preston for SD 3” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — Two Florida State University football icons, Bowden and Simon, threw their weight on Thursday behind Preston for Senate District 3. In a 15-second television ad, the former FSU head football coach and NFL veteran joined forces again to endorse Preston over Democrat Loranne Ausley. “I’m Corey Simon, and I played football with coach Bobby Bowden,” the ad opens. “Now, I’m joining Coach Bowden in supporting Preston. Coach Bowden says he’s proud to stand with Marva Preston because he knows she will fight for us in Tallahassee.”

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

— DOWN BALLOT —

Prediction from Broward’s ballot-counting room: The results will be known on Election Night” via Michael Udine for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — In anticipation of a record number of mail-in ballots this cycle, Broward’s three-person elections canvassing board started its work earlier than in previous years. For weeks, we have been addressing issues relating to the ballot, voter intent, and signature matching, as outlined by Florida law. I am happy to report that we are caught up and ahead of the game compared to previous elections. And I am confident that on Election Day, we will be able to count the final batch of mail-in ballots and report the final results that night. To date, fewer than 400 ballots have had signature issues. So far, about 500 ballots have been flagged for questions of voter intent.

— CORONA FLORIDA —

Atlas push to ‘slow the testing down’ tracks with dramatic decline in one key state” via CNN — Shortly after joining the White House as President Donald Trump‘s pandemic adviser, Dr. Scott Atlas launched a quiet effort that seemed counterintuitive to some of his colleagues — encouraging officials to limit COVID-19 testing mainly to people experiencing symptoms. Atlas, a neuroradiologist, not an infectious disease expert, strongly supported a decision in August to revise federal guidelines to de-emphasize the need to test people without symptoms, according to two sources familiar with the process. He shared his view with state officials, including Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and several others in Florida, according to transcripts of public events and accounts from private meetings in that state.

Florida adds 4,198 new COVID-19 cases and 77 deaths as positivity drops to less than 5%” via Howard Cohen of the Miami Herald — Florida’s Department of Health on Thursday confirmed 4,198 additional cases of COVID-19, bringing the state’s known total to 794,624 Also, 77 resident deaths were announced, bringing the resident death toll to 16,648. The state did not report any new nonresident deaths, so the nonresident toll remains at 204. According to the Florida Department of Health, the state’s positivity for new daily cases — people who tested positive for the first time — decreased Thursday to 4.89% from Wednesday’s 5.43%. Testing on a day-to-day basis also saw some increase from 75,067 to 85,630.

County’s rate of positivity tops threshold for fourth time in week” via Jane Musgrave of The Palm Beach Post — For the fourth time in a week, the coronavirus infection rate in Palm Beach County on Thursday exceeded levels recommended by pandemic experts, according to a daily update from the Florida Department of Health. The county’s positivity rate growth comes as the number of COVID-19 cases is climbing both in the county and across the state. By the end of the week, 800,000 state residents will likely have been infected since the pandemic began. On Thursday, the county’s positivity rate, which indicates the virus’s prevalence in the community, swelled to 5.76%. According to the WHO, the rate must consistently stay below 5.0% before any meaningful steps can contain the deadly virus.

Miami Beach ‘concerned about a surge’ as 26 more employees test positive for COVID-19” via Martin Vassolo of the Miami Herald — The city of Miami Beach is “concerned” about a string of new coronavirus cases in its workforce, mainly among police and fire-rescue personnel. According to city data, twenty-three city employees have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last seven days, up from three cases the week before; by comparison, 20 new COVID-19 cases were reported by the city during the one-week period ending July 3, the day Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Giménez imposed a 10 p.m. curfew as cases spiked over the summer. Of the 26 new cases the city reported in that two-week period, 19 were reported in the police and fire departments.

— CORONA NATION —

The U.S. has hit 9 million virus cases, with no end in sight to the surge.” via Mitch Smith of The New York Times — With daily reports of coronavirus cases in the United States surging to previously unseen heights, averaging more than 75,000 a day over the last week, the country crossed the threshold of nine million known infections since the pandemic began. Twenty-one states added more cases in the seven-day period ending Wednesday than in any other seven-day stretch of the pandemic against a backdrop of a bitter presidential contest. Daily reports of deaths from the virus remain far below their spring peaks, averaging around 780 a day. But those, too, have started to tick upward. There are not many hopeful signs in the recent data.

Mike Pence absent from COVID-19 planning calls for more than a month” via Adam Cancryn and Dan Goldberg of POLITICO — Pence — who has been touting the Trump administration’s response effort on the campaign trail for weeks — is not expected to be on the line again Friday, when the group holds its first Governors’ call since Oct. 13. It’s a prolonged absence that represents just the latest sign of the task force’s diminished role in the face of the worsening public health crisis it was originally created to combat. Once a driving force behind the White House’s coronavirus messaging, the group hasn’t held a collective press briefing in months. Inside the West Wing, task force members’ growing alarm over the virus’ resurgence has largely been ignored.

Mike Pence is MIA from the Coronavirus Task Force.

Former CDC director: For COVID-19, attempt to build ‘herd immunity’ is a losing strategy” via William Foege of USA Today — Those who advocate a herd immunity approach for controlling the coronavirus have not studied the lessons of the past. It is not likely that coronavirus vaccines will be as effective as the smallpox vaccine. It is not likely that the duration of immunity will be as solid and lengthy as with smallpox. It will not be as easy to confirm vaccine immunity, as was the case with smallpox. Herd immunity turned out to be an ineffective strategy, even for smallpox. Suggesting such a losing strategy for coronavirus is to ask for more suffering, more deaths and more social disruption.

Can Google searches predict where coronavirus cases will soon emerge?” via Philip Bump of The Washington Post — There’s a great website called Spurious Correlations in which two obviously unrelated trends are juxtaposed to show how correlation (things lining up neatly) is not always a function of causation (those things actually being linked). On Tuesday, author Dan Sinker came across a correlation with a bit more heft. He compared Google searches for “loss of taste” in the United States with the number of coronavirus cases confirmed each day. The shape of the two curves match. There is good reason to think that these two things are linked. Loss of taste and smell are, by now, recognized as common symptoms of infection with the novel coronavirus.

— CORONA ECONOMICS — 

U.S. states face biggest cash crisis since the Great Depression” via Heather Gillers and Gunjan Banerji of The Wall Street Journal — Connecticut is projecting a total revenue decline of $8.4 billion through the 2024 budget year, more than twice the rainy day fund built up over the past three years. “All you can do is grip the bar as tight as you can, make the smartest decisions you can in real-time, plan for the worst and be surprised at something less than worst,” said Connecticut’s Comptroller. Nationwide, the U.S. state budget shortfall from 2020 through 2022 could amount to about $434 billion. The estimates assume no additional fiscal stimulus from Washington, further coronavirus-fueled restrictions on business and travel, and extra costs for Medicaid amid high unemployment.

Jobless claims fall to 751,000, but new infections a threat” via Christopher Rugaber of The Associated Press — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell last week to 751,000, the lowest since March. However, it’s still historically high and indicates the viral pandemic is forcing many employers to cut jobs. Applications for unemployment aid fell 40,000 from the previous week, the Labor Department said. They fell in 30 states, including big drops in California, Florida and Texas. Claims rose significantly in Arizona, Illinois, and Michigan. Rising confirmed virus cases in nearly every state, along with a cutoff in federal aid, are threatening to weaken the economy in the coming months. As temperatures fall, restaurants and bars will likely serve fewer customers outdoors.

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell last week to 751,000, the lowest since March but a figure that remains historically high and indicates the viral pandemic is still forcing many employers to cut jobs. Image via AP.

Judge denies landlords’ request to void CDC eviction moratorium” via Emily L. Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times — A federal judge in Georgia issued an order Thursday denying landlords’ request for a preliminary injunction that would have voided the nationwide eviction moratorium while their lawsuit proceeds. The landlords sued the CDC over its moratorium, which prevents tenants from being evicted for the rest of 2020. To qualify, tenants must declare under penalty of perjury that they can’t pay rent because of a loss in income and that eviction would either render them homeless or force them to move into a new shared living setting. Thursday’s order means that the moratorium will remain in place for now and cast doubt on the landlords’ future success if the case were to go to trial.

VISIT FLORIDA dips ‘toes’ into international travel” via Jim Turner of The News Service of Florida — VISIT FLORIDA President and CEO Dana Young said the public-private agency has started a campaign with The Weather Network and co-hosted a five-day virtual “TTG Florida Fest” this month with the travel industry newspaper TTG Media, in trying to position the state for when travel by foreign tourists resumes. “Not only are we working on in-state travel, domestic travel, we’re also starting to dip our toes into international travel so that we can take advantage of the competitive advantage that we have right now,” Young said. The TTG Florida Fest event, which attracted about 400 travel agents and tour operators in the United Kingdom, included panel discussions and classes about Florida’s different aspects, such as potential wilderness adventures.

— MORE CORONA —

Police pin a rise in murders on an unusual suspect: COVID” via Thomas Fuller and Tim Arango of The New York Times — Criminologists studying the rise in the murder rate point to the effects the pandemic has had on everything from mental health to policing in a time of social distancing, with fewer officers able to perform the up-close-and-personal community outreach work that in normal times has helped mitigate violence. Experts also attribute the rise to increased gang violence and a spike in gun ownership, including many first-time gun owners. The murder epidemic in America looms over the final days of a polarizing election campaign that Trump has sought to frame as a referendum on law and order. But the data show that the waves of killings have afflicted Democrat- and Republican-run cities alike.

Thanksgiving advice for college students: If you’re going home, start preparing soon, experts say.” via Allyson Chiu of The Washington Post — Just months after deciding to send their children to college campuses amid the coronavirus pandemic, many families are now facing another dilemma: How to safely welcome students home for Thanksgiving or the end of the semester without introducing a deadly virus into their households. There is no universal approach to Thanksgiving this year for colleges and universities. Some are encouraging students to stay on campus for the holiday, others allow them to go home for the long Thanksgiving weekend. Still more are sending students home to begin their winter break or finish their semesters remotely.

The messy, booming business of recycling cruise ships” via Fran Golden of Bloomberg — Carnival Fantasy was a ship famous for its outlandish décor, all-night revelry, and size, back when 2,000 was an incredible number of passengers. The “Fun Ship” vibe it introduced in 1990. Today, the Fantasy is attracting a whole different breed of booty-seeker. In July, the 30-year-old ship sailed to the Aegean Sea, wrapping its final voyage. Its resting place is a demolition yard where old cargo ships, tankers, research vessels, and now, cruise ships retired during the COVID-19 pandemic, get torn apart and broken into pieces. It’s hard to gauge how exactly much money is made from recycling cruise ships. Companies don’t immediately disclose the sale prices of the vessels after relinquishing ownership.

Decommissioned cruise ships being dismantled at Aliaga ship-breaking yard in the Aegean port city of Izmir, western Turkey, Image via Reuters.

Classic toys are making a comeback during the pandemic” via Abha Bhattarai of The Washington Post — Whether it’s a yearning for nostalgia or simply a desire for kids to put down their tablets and smartphones, consumers are reaching for old-school favorites, positioning the toy industry for its best holiday season in years. The pandemic has ushered a fundamental shift in toy-buying habits; instead of perusing the toy aisle or trading notes during playdates, parents draw on their own childhoods for inspiration. Classic toys also have a strong appeal for adults who want their children engaged in open-ended play for long periods of time. Analysts expect toy sales to be a bright spot in a holiday season mired by recession and high unemployment. 

— STATEWIDE —

50,000 people lost power in Escambia, Santa Rosa; Panhandle spared serious damage” via Annie Blanks of the Pensacola News Journal — More than 50,000 customers lost power in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties Wednesday night and Thursday morning after Hurricane Zeta’s quick but powerful tear across the Gulf Coast, which devastated parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama but appeared to have largely spared the Florida Panhandle. According to Gulf Power, almost 45,700 customers, mostly in Escambia County, had their power restored as of daybreak Thursday morning. Fewer than 5,000 customers were waiting to have their power restored as of midmorning. Gulf Power said it has a team of more than 2,300 linemen and other crews working to restore power, including 1,300 outside resources.

A woman walks out of a house where the roof was torn away during Hurricane Zeta, as people begin the process of cleaning and rebuilding in Chauvin, Louisiana. Image via AP.

Man pleads not guilty to changing Ron DeSantis voter record” via Stephanie Matat of the Tallahassee Democrat — A 20-year-old Naples man pleaded not guilty Wednesday to felony criminal charges that he changed the voter registration record for DeSantis to the home address of a minor YouTube celebrity. Anthony Steven Guevara was charged with two felonies Wednesday related to DeSantis’ voter registration record’s alteration. Guevara’s lawyer said the prank was not malicious and represented a wake-up call for concerns about the integrity of Florida’s voter systems. Guevara told criminal investigators that he looked up the governor’s birth date on Wikipedia and used it to alter DeSantis’ voter registration online using the state’s election website.

Justices reverse course on death penalty review” via Jim Saunders of The News Service of Florida — The Florida Supreme Court scrapped a long-standing legal requirement of reviewing death sentences to determine if they are “disproportionate” punishment. In a 5-1 ruling, justices said such reviews are not authorized by state law and pointed to “erroneous precedent” by the Supreme Court. But Justice Jorge Labarga wrote a sharply worded dissent that said the majority rejected a decades-old review requirement that helps prevent arbitrarily imposed death sentences. “Today, the majority takes the most consequential step yet in dismantling the reasonable safeguards contained within Florida’s death penalty jurisprudence — a step that eliminates a fundamental component of this court’s mandatory review in direct-appeal cases,” Labarga wrote.

Joe Gruters pitches private school vouchers for families opposing face masks” via Ryan McKinnon of The Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Gruters announced on Facebook he would file legislation that would provide private school vouchers to families who object to their public school districts’ face mask requirements. Gruters, who is also chair of the Florida Republican Party, said his proposed “Face Freedom Scholarship” could provide families with vouchers to send their child to a private school if their public school district has mask mandates in place. Next year’s Legislative Session runs from March 2 to April 30, and if passed, Gruters’ proposed legislation likely would not go into effect until the start of the 2021-22 school year.

Energy efficiency loan firm spent $112,000 in October courting politicians” via Malena Carollo of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida’s largest purveyor of loans for energy efficient home and business upgrades has spent $112,000 on state political donations in the weeks leading up to the election. Ygrene Energy Fund, a California-based firm, donated heavily since the beginning of October to primarily Republican candidates and committees, state campaign finance records show. Its largest donation during that period — $50,000 — went to the political committee of Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is not up for re-election this year.

— PERSONNEL NOTE — 

Michelle Grimsley is joining The Southern Group’s Tampa Bay team.

Grimsley brings a wealth of experience in education, nonprofits and government to the firm. She also has firsthand knowledge of the legislative process, serving as Rep. Wengay Newton’s legislative assistant in Tallahassee.

“Michelle is a rising star in her field who at a young age already has deep connections in the region and state,” firm founder and chairman Paul Bradshaw said. “We’re excited to have someone with her energy and drive to join our team.”

A third-generation Manatee County native, Grimsley serves as the current Board Chair of the Manasota Black Chamber of Commerce. She also sits on the Boards of Directors of the Manatee Tiger Bay Club, Turning Points, and the Manatee County Branch NAACP.

“I am excited about this next chapter in my career and the opportunity to join The Southern Group Team. Having worked with them on issues both locally and in Tallahassee, I know how effective and professional their group of lobbyists are, and I am extremely honored to be joining the best firm in the state,” Grimsley said.

Grimsley will work alongside managing partner Seth McKeel and firm partners Laura Boehmer, David Shepp, Sydney Ridley, and Justin Hollis at the Tampa Bay office.

— D.C. MATTERS —

How Trump waged war on his own government” via Lisa Rein, Tom Hamburger, Juliet Eilperin and Andrew Freedman of The Washington Post — Early in the new administration, the White House wanted a big win for Trump on one of his top campaign promises, getting rid of poor performers at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Scott Foster got the order from his boss, a senior political appointee: Draw up a list of underachievers and give “your best 10” so the President could announce their firing at a signing ceremony for a law allowing fast dismissals at VA. Foster, a seasoned personnel official, balked. The employees still had the right to due process, he argued. Within weeks, his boss tried to sack him.

Nancy Pelosi signals COVID deal possible before January” via Heather Caygle and Sarah Ferris of POLITICO — “I feel very confident that Joe Biden will be elected President on Tuesday,” Pelosi told reporters. “We want to have as clean a slate as possible going into January.” Democrats have been unsuccessfully pushing a trillion-dollar-plus stimulus package for months. And while Pelosi has insisted she is getting closer to a deal with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, some of her own lawmakers are skeptical that Trump or the current GOP-controlled Senate would agree to a giant stimulus package in the wake of potentially big Election Day losses. But others have argued that Republicans might be more eager for a deal in the lame-duck session if they’re losing the White House and possibly their Senate majority come January.

Nancy Pelosi hints a stimulus package could be in the works by January. Image via AP.

Rick Scott says Big Tech favors dictators over conservatives” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — U.S. Sen. Scott says tech companies are “acting like the Communist Party of China,” privileging the musings of the world’s worst dictators over those on the American right. “You know there’s no recourse,” Scott said, on behalf of conservatives de-platformed by social media outlets. “If you get your Twitter account blocked, your Facebook eliminated, there is no recourse.” Though some have contended that Twitter and Facebook, as private companies, have the right to determine terms of service, Scott joins many Republicans in rejecting that “completely disingenuous” narrative. “They’re completely disingenuous. They have a different standard for conservatives and a different standard for dictators. It’s ridiculous.”

— LOCAL NOTES —

Katrina Brown gets 33-month sentence, Reggie Brown 18 months for fake invoice scam” via Steve Patterson of The Florida Times-Union — Katrina Brown must serve 33 months in prison and her council colleague Reggie Brown will serve 18 months for dozens of felony convictions, a federal judge said. U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard ordered Brown to pay $425,334 in restitution and said Reggie Brown owed $411,752 for his part in a series of frauds that grew out of a doomed plan to open a barbecue sauce factory with a federally backed loan. “This offense occurred because of Katrina Brown and her decisions. She devised the scheme … she knew that it was wrong,” the judge said. The pair were convicted last year of crimes including mail and wire fraud, money laundering and conspiracy.

Reggie Brown and Katrina Brown have both been sentenced for dozens of charges. Image via News4Jax.

Florida receives additional $73 million from Deepwater Horizon settlement” via Karl Schneider of the Pensacola News Journal — The federal government announced Wednesday that Florida would receive an additional $73 million in funding from the Deepwater Horizon spill settlement to be used for restoration projects. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Associate Deputy Administrator Doug Benevento said a variety of projects would be done up and down Florida’s Gulf Coast. “This funding will go to the day-to-day work of water quality improvement that is necessary to ensure the protection of human health and the environment,” Benevento said. Settlement funding from Deepwater Horizon is overseen by the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities, and Revived Economies of the Gulf.

Everybody is moving to Miami during the pandemic. Honestly, we’d rather you didn’t” via Connie Ogle of the Miami Herald — So you want to move to Miami. We have a word of advice for you: Don’t. We are not saying this because we are trying to hoard South Florida’s many delights for ourselves. No! Trust us. Once you get beyond the lack of snow and state income tax and the Miami Heat’s existence — the NBA team, not the weather — the delights are minimal. We tell you this because of a new report that says South Florida — which includes Miami-Dade and Broward counties — is one of the top destinations for people moving during the COVID-19 pandemic. Tampa is no. 1. So if you simply have to move to Florida, why not give Tampa a try?

School mask rules get closer scrutiny in Pasco, Pinellas” via Jeffrey S. Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — As the school year began in August, a huge debate ensued across the Tampa Bay region and the state: Would students and staff have to wear masks while on campus? After lengthy conversations and challenges, school boards weighed in. In both Pinellas and Pasco counties, they authorized their superintendents to require facial coverings through emergency powers associated with the coronavirus pandemic. Those orders were good for 90 days, though, and the time to renew has arrived. The Pasco board is scheduled to hold a public hearing on a policy extending through May when it meets, with the Pinellas board set to take final action on its own extension a week later.

E-scooter share program officially begins in St. Petersburg” via Dan Matics of Fox 13 — Thursday marked the beginning of St. Pete’s e-scooter share program. The city quietly started the year-and-a-half test run of the scooters to see if they are a good fit for the city. Thursday acted a “soft launch,” and Mayor Rick Kriseman will host the program’s official start Friday morning. Under city rules, the scooters are not allowed on sidewalks, the waterfront trail, or the Pier. They are allowed on roads with speed limits up to 30 miles per hour and should always be in a bike lane if there is one. Speeds will top 15 miles per hour, and the scooters must be parked within designated corrals across the city.

— TOP OPINION —

As Election Day nears, Trump ponders becoming one thing he so despises: A loser” via Toluse Olorunnipa of The Washington Post — Trailing in the polls and with little time left to change the trajectory or closing themes of the presidential race, Trump has spent the final days of the campaign complaining that the coronavirus crisis is getting too much coverage and openly musing about losing. Trump has publicly lamented about what a loss would mean, spoken longingly of riding off into the sunset, and made unsubstantiated claims that voter fraud could cost him the election. He has sarcastically threatened to fire state officials if he doesn’t win and excoriated his rival Biden as someone it would be particularly embarrassing to lose to.

— OPINIONS —

“Trump raved about his COVID-19 treatment, but hardly anyone can get it. We need a better plan.” via Topher Spiro for USA Today — Trump promised to provide the experimental drug he took, a cocktail of monoclonal antibodies developed by Regeneron, for free to anyone who needs it. But as a result of his administration’s failure to harness the tools of government and the private sector, extreme rationing of the treatment will occur. Monoclonal antibodies are genetically engineered antibodies that could both treat and prevent COVID-19 infection. Regeneron reported promising preliminary results and applied for an emergency use authorization from the FDA. Over the next year, an estimated 82 million people could benefit from treatment with monoclonal antibodies.

Governor’s office needlessly stonewalls COVID data” via Bill Cotterell of the Tallahassee Democrat — More than ever, Floridians need to know our government is leveling with us about infection rates and necessary steps to combat the coronavirus. Maybe the knowledge will not change our personal behavior, but we have a right to know how the disease progresses or recedes and how well or poorly our public officials handle it. Unfortunately, DeSantis is not instilling that sense of confidence. In fact, the Orlando Sentinel recently told how his administration just doesn’t get it. Or maybe DeSantis and his aides do get it but are more interested in controlling bad news in the last month of an election campaign than informing people about a deadly disease.

Explosive early voting is already transforming our politics” via Greg Sargent of The Washington Post — The numbers are simply staggering. According to the latest tally, more than 70 million people have voted early. Incredibly, that’s more than 50% of the total number of people who voted in the 2016 election. The obvious causes of this are Trump and the coronavirus. Much of it is driven by the fact that voting-by-mail is easier than ever in numerous states, including more states that mail absentee-ballot applications directly to eligible voters. Many people who hoped to avoid voting in person during the pandemic are using that option. With campaigns and parties aggressively prodding them to send in ballots early, that’s happening everywhere.

The coming decade of Democratic dominance” via George F. Will of The Washington Post — In defeat, Trump probably will resemble another figure from American fiction Ring Lardner’s “Alibi Ike,” the baseball player whose talent was for making excuses. Trump will probably say that if not for the pandemic, Americans would have voted their pocketbooks, which would have been bulging because of economic growth, and reelected him. Americans, however, are more complicated and civic-minded than one-dimensional economy voters. Demographic arithmetic is also discouraging for Trump. There are more than 5 million fewer members of his core constituency, Whites without college degrees than there were four years ago.

— ON TODAY’S SUNRISE —

Florida survived another day with more than 4,000 new cases of COVID-19. That means we’re closing in on 800,000 statewide.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— It was a hot time in Tampa for Trump supporters. So hot that people began dropping while Gov. DeSantis was warming up the crowd. It got so hot they turned fire hoses on the crowd. Then the President revved ‘em up as he went into rally mode.

— While Trump was talking at Raymond James Stadium, Biden was speaking at a drive-up rally in Broward County.

— Where do we stand with just four days left before the election? Political scientist Susan McManus says the Sunshine State is actually “the tossup state.”

— McManus also talks about NPAs, calm-versus-chaos and what happens after the election.

— And finally, checking in with a Florida Man who paid $150 to get mauled by a leopard.

To listen, click on the image below:

— WEEKEND TV —

Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at politics in South Florida, along with other issues affecting the region.

Florida This Week on Tampa Bay’s WEDU: Moderator Rob Lorei hosts a roundtable featuring Dr. MacManus, Distinguished Professor Emerita of Political Science, USF-Tampa; Sens. Gruters and Darryl Rouson; Tampa Bay Times political editor Steve Contorno; corporate and political consultant Gayle Andrews; Dan Ruth, columnist and Honors College Prof., USF-Tampa; columnist and former Sen. Paula Dockery and professor and political consultant Adam Goodman.

Political Connections Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: A special hourlong edition previewing the 2020 General Election. The show will include a look at local races, commentary from political analysts Ana Cruz and Berny Jaques, and the latest on voter turnout.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: A special hourlong edition voter guide on the 2020 Election. The show will help inform voters on what they need to know for Election Day, including speaking with Supervisors of Elections Bill Cowles of Orange County and Alan Hays of Lake County on election safety and security; and a look at races to watch and in-depth analysis and insights from political analysts Wes Hodge and Eddie Fernandez.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Host Gary Yordon talks with Florida House Victory Political Director Laurie Watkins and Florida Politics publisher and editor-in-chief Peter Schorsch.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute Director Rick Mullaney; former Congressmen Patrick Murphy and David Jolly; and (tentatively) Duval County Supervisor of Elections Mike Hogan.

This Week in South Florida on WPLG-Local10 News (ABC): Attorney John Morgan, Amendment 2 sponsor and chair of Florida for A Fair Wage; Democrat Javier Fernandez, who is running for Senate District 39; attorney Chris Smith and Republican Party activist Ed Pozzuoli.

— LISTEN UP —

Battleground Florida with Christopher Heath: Decision Desk HQ contributor Niles Edward Francis (@NilesGApol) joins the podcast from Atlanta to try and convince the world that Georgia is a swing state just like Florida. With two Senate races, a close presidential race, and state-specific rules, the Peach State is getting a lot of attention with both the Trump and Biden campaigns planning stops in the final week of the election. What counties he’s watching on election night, and how long it could be before all the votes get counted in Florida’s neighbor to the north.

Dishonorable Mention: Rep. Chris Latvala, activist Becca Tieder, Ernest Hooper and communications expert Dr. Karla Mastracchio discuss politics and culture. Tampa Bay Times Tallahassee correspondent Kirby Wilson explains the six proposed constitutional amendments on this year’s ballot in Florida.

Inside Florida Politics from GateHouse Florida: The President holds his rally in the parking lot of Raymond James Stadium and Biden starts the day in Broward County and will finish the day with a later rally in Tampa. COVID-19 will offer two contrasting looks at the final days of campaigning as Election Day is just a few short days away.

The New Abnormal with hosts Rick Wilson and Molly Jong-Fast: Wilson and his crew of Republican refugees at the Lincoln Project have been getting in Trump’s head practically since the day they got together. But over the weekend, the psychological combat hit a new peak, when Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump sent one of daddy’s lawyers after the Lincoln Project over a billboard they put in Times Square. And Wilson was loving it. “A big part of our operations has been from the beginning to disrupt the leadership of the Trump campaign and to cause Donald Trump himself to poop his diaper and to cause these people to lose their minds. [Now we’ve] pinn[ed] down Jared and Ivanka Thursday and Friday of last week and distract[ed] Donald Trump,” Wilson explains to Jong-Fast.

The Yard Sign with host Jonathan Torres: Topics include the final presidential debate, rappers for Trump, proposed Florida Constitutional Amendments 2 and 3, and the reelection of Pelosi.

— ALOE —

A blue moon on Halloween? Spooky but true” via Sharon Kennedy Wynne of the Tampa Bay Times — It should be a perfect setup: Halloween falls on a Saturday, the weather is expected to be pleasant, and it will feature the spooky spectacle of a rare “blue moon.” A second-in-the-month full moon hasn’t been visible around the globe since 1944, according to NASA. “When you look at the full moon on Halloween night, it won’t appear blue in color, but you’ll be looking at something pretty uncommon,” according to the Farmers’ Almanac. “A full moon on Halloween occurs roughly once every 19 years.” Most recently, a full moon lit up the sky on Halloween night in 2001, but only in the Central and Pacific time zones. The next time a global full moon falls on Halloween isn’t expected until 2039, NASA said.

Yes, there will be an actual blue moon on Halloween. Image via AP.

U.S. Sugar hosting safe, fun trick-or-treating events” via Florida Politics staff reports — U.S. Sugar is looking to make this Halloween a happy one for Glades kids. The company announced it’s teaming up with the cities of Moore Haven, LaBelle, Clewiston, Belle Glade, Indiantown, and local sheriffs’ departments to distribute sweet treats to area children safely. “The sweetest time of year is upon us, and the people of U.S. Sugar are happy to be doing our part to help provide Glades-area children with a safe place to get sweet treats,” said U.S. Sugar Community Relations Manager Brannan Thomas. Candy will be available to all children who show up to one of seven events it has planned in the region.

Pole-dancing skeletons must be removed, HOA tells homeowner” via ABC 13 staff reports — A woman is going head to head with her homeowner’s association after complaints were filed over her “inappropriate” Halloween decorations that show skeletons dancing on poles. Angela Nava lives in a community in Richmond. She received a letter on Sunday saying she has 30 days to remove the decorations. The letter said the decorations are “offensively positioned.” “It’s modeled after an adult club,” she said. “We just really had a good time changing the scene up every night. Every night, we change the positions of the skeletons, and it’s really been just a great creative outlet for me.”

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Celebrating today is Jodi Davidson of Rubin Turnbull, former Rep. Ron Saunders and Tyler Winik.

___

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

Written By

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

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

Publisher: Peter Schorsch

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

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