Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 11.3.20

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

While Election Day sometimes feels all-encompassing and of the utmost importance, let’s pause for a moment and reflect on the news that The Process has lost one of its most well-liked members. Lobbyist Janet Mabry died Monday after a recurrence of breast cancer. 

For longtime friend Allison Carvajal, life will never be the same. “Janet probably had the bluest eyes on the planet … and the biggest laugh,” Carvajal said. “She was one of the strongest women I ever knew. She was super-opinionated, and she wasn’t afraid to share it.”

Carvajal worked for Mabry 32 years ago when she was in grad school and the two remained friends throughout the years, representing massage therapists together for 15 years. “The people that I met because of Janet made my career,” she said. The independent lobbyist was 67 years old and lived in Gulf Breeze, and had long-term relationships with other clients, including trial lawyers and mobile home communities.

“At the end of the day, if even if we were on the opposite end of an issue, we could sit and have a drink, there was not a lot of animosity,” Carvajal said. “She was absolutely full of life. And one of the best friends I’ve ever had.”

Arrangements have not been finalized. Mabry is survived by her husband, Mike; two daughters, Mykel and Lizzie; and two grandsons she “doted on” called her Marmee. “From ‘Little Women,” Carvajal explained. “We made fun of her for picking that name …. What the hell is a Marmee?” 

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— Every presidential race is consequential, but none so much as this year. The civilized world’s fate is literally on the ballot in the race between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden.

Voters will decide and have been deciding for weeks leading up to Election Day, what that fate looks like. Is it four more years of Trump, his tweets and hyper-conservative policies? Or is it Biden’s America, one he plans to restore to unity and civility?

A win for either Joe Biden or Donald Trump could affect several major players in Florida. Image via AP.

While a lot is at stake for everyday Americans, there are insiders whose careers may very well hinge on Tuesday’s (or whenever final results reveal themself) outcome.

Pollsters will be judged on accuracy. Political consultants will face either scrutiny or praise over strategies. Elections supervisors will have to answer for any hiccups in balloting.

Here are 10 Florida politicos who have a lot riding on this year’s outcome.

😢Ron DeSantis: The Governor coasted into office on, what most observers believe, was on the President’s coattails. In the primary two years ago, Trump’s endorsement was largely credited for DeSantis’ win over the GOP establishment’s prodigal son, Adam Putnam.

So it’s no surprise that DeSantis has remained a close ally, not just on policy but on his much-derided response to COVID-19.

Where Trump goes in Florida, DeSantis almost exclusively followed.

Trump said it best himself.

“You know if we don’t win it, I’m blaming the Governor,” Trump said at an Ocala rally in mid-October. “I’ll fire him somehow. I’m going to fire him. I will find a way.”

While Trump can’t fire the Governor, voters can in 2022. Whether Trump wins or loses, DeSantis’ loyalty to the President will surely follow him through his reelection. But if Trump loses, DeSantis might have hope to distance himself from Trump world before 2022.

🥇 — GOP 2024: DeSantis, along with U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, are all rumored to be potential candidates for President in 2024. All three support Trump, though Rubio, and to some degree, Scott, have been far less gushing in their approval than DeSantis.

If style is on the ballot, DeSantis’ at times mimics Trump. Rubio possesses a more traditional conservative tone while Scott has no qualms with hitting the Fox News circuit with various critiques of what he sees as liberal extremism bordering on socialism.

A Trump 2020 win might not be good news for DeSantis’ 2022 reelection bid, but it certainly would be for an eventual presidential bid.

To a lesser degree, it would be for Rubio and Scott, too, though both would have an easier time distancing themselves from Trump than DeSantis.

💋 — Matt Gaetz: Republicans don’t need to worry about losing Florida’s 1st Congressional District. The ruby-red district holds a more than 167,000 voter advantage for the GOP, a 53% to 25% registered voter margin.

But that doesn’t mean Gaetz is safe. Gaetz is one of Trump’s top and most vocal allies in Congress. If Trump loses the election, it could leave Gaetz vulnerable to a primary challenge in two years. But if Trump wins, it solidifies the duo’s allegiance and strengthens Gaetz’s standing on Capitol Hill.

This year, Gaetz’s easy race in a district that will no doubt keep him in office, as allowed him to continue unabated in his fiery advocacy for a controversial President. While some Republicans this year have tried to distance themselves from Trump to avoid a potential blue wave, Gaetz has only doubled down.

Whether or not that plays in his favor will largely be decided with Tuesday’s election.

😅Nikki Fried — It probably helps her gubernatorial ambitions if Trump wins. However, deep down, we know the Democrat Agriculture Commissioner loves her country too much to worry about that.

🐘 — Joe Gruters: The party chair became a statewide figure leading Trump to a surprise win in 2016. Now he’s worked like crazy to deliver again. He’s got a hot-and-cold relationship to DeSantis; the Governor tapped the Sarasota Republican for the role but squabbled over staffing for the state Party for months before DeSantis’ press secretary took on the executive director post. His future as party chair probably depends less on whether Trump wins another term and more on if the President just wins Florida. At least he’s all but locked down reelection to the Senate.

👑Wilton Simpson — No matter the outcome Tuesday, he’ll still be Senate President-Designate. That’s in large part because he backed legitimate challengers in SD 3 and SD 37, forcing Dems to play defense rather than double down on the battlegrounds.

🍾 — Chris Sprowls — It could go either way. The incoming Speaker knows that as well as anyone. Speaker-D is trying to overcome Trump’s drag in some battleground seats, but rarely has an incoming leader personally worked harder. His Twitter feed is constantly updated with updates from where he’s working the ground game. Want to know how his night’s going? Pay attention to the results in HD 21, 26, 30, 60, 72 and 103.

🔮Florida Man Steve Schale — The Democratic strategist has shied away from making any outright predictions, but he says he’s more confident in a Biden win today than he was a week ago. Tonight will show whether he can still read the tea leaves or he’s just as stumped as the rest of us.

😡Rick Wilson: The GOP strategist turned Never-Trumper has never been so famous as he is now, thanks to his leadership of The Lincoln Project, a group of current and former Republicans bent on sending Trump packing.

The group is known for its unrelenting videos attacking the President. Never have Democrats been so pleased to agree with Republicans.

But his slight toward the incumbent President could prove problematic after this election, what with charges of being a RINO sure to follow regardless of the election outcome, but surely more so if Trump wins.

If Trump loses, however, Wilson’s star could be bright. His whole shtick is simple: he wants to return the GOP to sanity and steer it back to its conservative roots centering on fiscal conservatism and social freedoms.

Thanks to being the OG Never-Trumper, Rick Wilson is as popular as ever.

👨❤👨Brian Ballard: The Florida lobbyist has made tens of millions of dollars positioned, as POLITICO noted, as” the most powerful lobbyist in Trump’s Washington.” If Trump wins another four years, it’s backup the truck time for Ballard Partners. But what happens if it’s no longer Trump’s Washington?

Can a lobbyist survive being a Trump loyalist in a post-Trump world?

👱‍♀️ — Pam Bondi: Bondi is part of the Ballard Partners operation and was an early supporter for Trump, unlike others in the GOP who backed more traditional conservatives in 2016 like Marco Rubio or Jeb Bush.

So like Ballard, her future in politics could be make-or-break depending on the election outcome. With four more years of Trump, Bondi is poised for success, whether through Ballard Partners or with a position in Trump’s White House.

Without a Trump victory, she could find herself roaming the halls of Trumpworld has-beens.

💰John Morgan: It took him twice, but Morgan successfully pushed and bankrolled Florida’s medical marijuana law. Now he’s hoping for success again with a minimum wage push, Amendment 2 on the ballot, that would raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026.

If it wins, Morgan is two for two. If it fails, he’s out the more than $4.6 million he and his law firm dumped into the initiative.

🗳Pete Antonacci: The Broward County Supervisor of Elections is already under a microscope. Appointed just shy of two years ago by then-Gov. Scott, Antonacci was tasked with cleaning up a horrendous election operation in Broward County.

The microscope zoomed in further though after Antonacci asked Gov. DeSantis to appoint him chief judge of the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings. It begs the question: are Antonacci’s decisions not to require masks in polling places an effort to stoke fear in voting? Is he looking to do favors for DeSantis at polling places in deep-blue Broward?

Because one thing is for sure, a Trump overperformance in Broward would sure make the big guy happy.

🏆Pat Bainter: The genius-level, media-averse GOP consultant is the architect of Simpson’s win-the-cycle-before-the-first-shot-is-fired strategy. Winning just one of the competitive Senate seats will be a victory for Team GOP. Can they win both? Can they find an upset in SD 3 or 39?

🤷‍♂️ — Ryan Tyson: The Republican pollster doesn’t make predictions, but all of his numbers point to a Trump win in Florida and the country. There’s an argument to be made that Tyson is one of the most important figures in the entire race because, without his numbers, GOP morale would have sunk. We’ll know soon how right he is.

— INSIDER’S GUIDE —

Florida is once again poised to play a central role in the presidential election.

That means people worldwide will be looking closely at the results as they come in and analyzing them closely for any hint of the final results.

Most Floridians know our state is unlike any other, but for those who don’t — or need a refresher — The Southern Group has prepared a crash course in Florida politics.

Florida 2020 could just as easily be called “Florida 101.” Inside you’ll find a rundown of the state’s different regions and how each voted in the past few election cycles.

Things to keep an eye on tonight: Who’s leading in Duval? Is Seminole’s Democratic conversion complete? Is SW Florida still a GOP stronghold? Will Cubans in Miami-Dade keep Florida red?

Want a quick lesson in Florida’s 2020 election? The Southern Group has a primer to get you up to speed. Image via AP.

Any one of those could be the make or break in the presidential election. They could have major consequences in the makeup of the state’s congressional delegation and state Legislature.

The Southern Group has also prepped a Twitter list of the state’s most in-the-know candidates, surrogates, politicos and data pros so you can get the up-to-the-minute context as returns come in.

Nobody knows how the election will go, but one thing is certain: If you read through Florida 2020 and subscribe to the list, you’ll look like a political savant at your election watch party.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

Tweet, tweet:

@RealDonaldTrump: The Supreme Court decision on voting in Pennsylvania is a VERY dangerous one. It will allow rampant and unchecked cheating and will undermine our entire systems of laws. It will also induce violence in the streets. Something must be done!

@AlexBurnsNYT: Plenty of Dems are worried that Trump won’t concede defeat if he loses @SpeakerPelosi told me she is not among them “I don’t have any anticipation that this president will act in a way that is, for the first time, presidential — and why would I care?”

@MarkWarner: Folks: this is an unusual election. Our intelligence community has warned that the period immediately before and after Election Day is going to be uniquely volatile, and our adversaries will seek to take advantage of that. Don’t make their jobs any easier.

@MaggieNYT: Folks around the President say he’s in a great mood. So far at his first rally, it’s been a grievance list about polling, [Barack] Obama, [Hillary] Clinton. “People should move more quickly,” he says, appearing to refer to his desire to see someone face prosecution over the origins of Russia probe.

—@JenMercieca: Trump’s fans are using his strategies of force to gain compliance: intimidation at the polls & in the streets, fascist flag flotillas & parades, bullhorns & foghorns, shutting down roadways & bridges & forcing Biden’s bus off the road. They are not trying to persuade.

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:

@SamCornale: I’ve said it a bunch on this here internet site, but @BernieSanders and his team have stepped up in a huge, huge way. The Democratic surrogate game is out. of. control. this year. And it’s going to show.

@CrowleyReport: It is not too late for @JebBush to tell us who he supports for President. Will he have the courage to do it?

@MacStipanovich: I am reminded tonight of the story we were told of the grizzled Gunnery Sergeant who said to his men in the landing craft heading for the beach at Iwo Jima: “I will shoot the first son of a bitch who says, ‘Well, this is it.’”

@Fineout: On radio on Monday night, @GovRonDeSantis says, “the media is the most divisive force in our society.”

@FredJPiccolo: One thing I’ll say before the chaos of tomorrow is that I give credit to everyone who put their name on the ballot. There’s a lot of chirping by people on the sidelines, but it takes a lot of guts, and it hurts a lot of the family to put your name on the ballot. Kudos to all.

@ChrisHayes: Scott Atlas posting national aggregate hospital data means he’s actually too stupid to understand the most basic aspects of the problem or trying to mislead people or both.

— DAYS UNTIL —

NBA 2020-21 training camp — 7; Apple announces new Macs with Apple chips — 7; FITCon Policy Conference begins — 9; The Masters begins — 9; NBA draft — 15; Pixar’s “Soul” premieres — 17; College basketball season slated to begin — 22; NBA 2020-21 opening night — 29; Florida Automated Vehicles Summit — 29; the Electoral College votes — 41; “Death on the Nile” premieres — 44; “Wonder Woman 1984” rescheduled premiere — 52; Greyhound racing ends in Florida — 58; the 2021 Inauguration — 78; Super Bowl LV in Tampa — 96; “A Quiet Place Part II” rescheduled premiere — 107; “Black Widow” rescheduled premiere — 121; “No Time to Die” premieres (rescheduled) — 150; “Top Gun: Maverick” rescheduled premiere — 241; Disney’s “Shang Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings” premieres — 248; new start date for 2021 Olympics — 262; “Jungle Cruise” premieres — 270; Disney’s “Eternals” premieres — 367; “Spider-Man Far From Home” sequel premieres — 370; Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story” premieres — 402; “Thor: Love and Thunder” premieres — 466; “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” premieres — 519; “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” sequel premieres — 700.

— THE FINAL 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 Monday, the final preelection 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 Monday, Biden remains with an 89 in 100 chance of winning compared to Trump, who drops to a 10 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 36.6%, while Florida is second at 13.8%. Michigan is now third with 7.1%. Other states include Arizona (6.2%), Wisconsin (6.2%), North Carolina (5.2%), Georgia (3.9%) and Nevada (3.6%).

PredictIt: As of Monday, the PredictIt trading market has Biden dropping to $0.64 a share, with Trump rising to $0.42.

Real Clear Politics: As of Monday, the RCP average of General Election top battleground state polling has Biden leading Trump 50.7% to 44%. The RCP General Election polling average has Biden at +6.7 points ahead.

The final models show Joe Biden in the lead. Image via AP.

Sabato’s Crystal Ball: Our final Electoral College ratings show Biden at 321 electoral votes and Trump at 217. Democrats are narrow favorites to capture a Senate majority, 50-48 with two toss-ups — the two Georgia races, both of which we think are likely to go to runoffs. We have Democrats netting 10 seats in the House. If one goes by the polls, Biden should be favored in Florida, albeit only by a little. Yet we have seen the Democrats (and even the polls) come up short in the Sunshine State so often, including in the Democratic wave year of 2018, that we needed unmistakable signs to pick them there this time. We just don’t see those signs in this complex state with lots of moving parts.

The Economist: As of Monday, their model predicts that Biden is still “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 better than 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).

The trouble with election projections” via Jill Lepore of The New Yorker — The 2020 presidential election is likely to smash records. Turnout may well be higher than in any election in the past century. More young people are voting, more people of color are voting, and more people are voting early and by mail. The tallying, too, stands a chance of setting records: in how long it takes for the ballots to be counted, in how widely the results diverge from preelection predictions, and if the vote is close in how fiercely the results are contested in the courts, in the states, in Congress, and the streets. All this uncertainty has been driving people to horse-race the polls. Liberals, it seems, pay more attention to polls than conservatives do, and some research suggests that, in 2016, preelection polls helped deliver the White House to Trump.

— THE CALL —

Show your work: AP plans to explain vote calling to public” via David Bauder of The Associated Press — The Associated Press, one of several news organizations whose declarations of winners drive election coverage, is pulling back the curtain this year to explain how it is reaching those conclusions. The AP plans to write stories explaining how its experts make decisions or why, in tight contests, they are holding back. If necessary, top news executives will speak publicly in interviews about the process, said Sally Buzbee, senior vice president and executive editor. Given the high interest in the presidential race, the complicating factor of strong early voting, and Trump’s warnings about potential fraud, television executives are making similar promises of transparency.

The Associated Press is pulling back the curtain in 2020 to explain how it decides to call elections. Image via AP.

Networks pledge caution for an Election night like no other” via Michael M. Grynbaum of The New York Times — Batches of ballots that will be counted at different times, depending on the swing state. Twitter gadflies and foreign agents intent on sowing confusion. A president who has telegraphed for months that he may not accept results he deems unfavorable. Television executives overseeing this year’s election night broadcasts are facing big challenges. And the world will be watching. “Frankly, the well-being of the country depends on us being cautious, disciplined, and unassailably correct,” said Noah Oppenheim, the NBC News president. “We are committed to getting this right.”

NBC News Decision Desk: How we call races on election night 2020” via John Lapinski, Stephanie Perry and Charles Riemann of NBC News — Early on election night, the NBC News Decision Desk uses exit poll data to determine whether uncompetitive races can be called. Most races are called based on analyses of precinct- and county-level vote returns. The analyses also examine differences between early and Election Day votes. In close contests, a careful analysis of how much of the vote has not been counted is a crucial part of the process. No race is projected until the Decision Desk is at a minimum of 99.5% confidence of the winner. NBC News will not project a winner in a race until after the last scheduled poll closing time in a state.

Election Day will be the media’s D-Day. The skill we need most is the one we’ve never mastered.” via Margaret Sullivan of The Washington Post — Almost two months before the 2016 presidential election, Dave Wasserman, an editor at the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, wrote a prescient piece. The mirage could turn into a constitutional crisis if Trump falsely challenges the lagging mail ballots as illegitimate, he’s laid all the groundwork for just that, and provokes mayhem within his base. (Mailed votes may be of greater benefit to his challenger Biden because more Democrats were among those requesting the ballots.) At that point, it could become not just a political version of hell but an almost literal one.

Twitter names 7 outlets to call election results” via Sara Fischer of Axios — Twitter on Monday provided more details about its policies around tweets that declare election results, and it named the seven outlets it will lean on to help it determine whether a race is officially called. The list includes ABC News, AP, CNN, CBS News, Decision Desk HQ, Fox News and NBC News, all outlets that experts agree have verified, unbiased decision desks calling elections. Some conservatives have alleged that Twitter is biased against them. In the past few weeks, data from the Stanford Cable TV Analyzer shows that Fox News has discussed Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Big Tech censorship at length.

Twitter names seven trusted news outlet to call the presidential election. Image via AP.

Twitter and Facebook will warn users about election posts that prematurely declare victory.” via Mike Isaac, Kate Conger and Daisuke Wakabayashi of The New York Times — Facebook, Twitter and YouTube plan to take a series of steps on Election Day to prevent the spread of misinformation, particularly around the results and the integrity of voting. At Facebook, an operations center staffed by dozens of employees, what the company calls a war room, will work to identify efforts to destabilize the election. The team, which will work virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic, has already been in action, Facebook said. Facebook’s app also will look different. To prevent candidates from prematurely and inaccurately declaring victory, the company plans to add a notification at the top of News Feeds, letting people know that no winner has been chosen until news outlets verify election results.

— PRESIDENTIAL —

A record early vote, last-minute lawsuits and sheets of plywood mark the end of a campaign transformed by the pandemic.” via David Montgomery and Nick Corasaniti of The New York Times — There were plenty of reminders Monday that the 2020 campaign has been anything but normal. There were the staggering early vote totals, with a record 97.6 million people already casting their ballots by mail or in person, and predictions that the total turnout would break the record set in 2016 when nearly 139 million people voted. There was the legal wrangling that has been a feature of this campaign even before Election Day, with a federal judge in Texas on Monday rejecting Republican efforts to invalidate more than 127,000 votes. And there were efforts to set expectations, as the Biden campaign and social media giants reminded voters that the election results might not be known on Tuesday.

Win or lose, Donald Trump and Joe Biden’s parties will plunge into uncertainty” via Lisa Lerer of The New York Times — Fighting for his political survival from the second floor of his campaign bus last week, Sen. John Cornyn warned a small crowd of supporters that his party’s long-held dominance in this historically ruby-red state was at risk. But while the three-term Texas senator demonized Democrats at length, he didn’t spend much time talking up the obvious alternative: Trump, the leader of his party, the man at the top of his ticket. Asked whether Trump, the man who redefined Republicanism, was an asset to Cornyn’s reelection effort, the senator was suddenly short on words. “Absolutely,” he said stone-faced.

Win or lose, Donald Trump’s GOP will face turmoil. Image via AP.

As Election Day arrives, Trump shifts between combativeness and grievance” via Maggie Haberman, Alexander Burns and Jonathan Martin of The New York Times — Trump arrives at Election Day toggling between confidence and exasperation, bravado and grievance, and marinating in frustration that he is trailing Biden, who he considers an unworthy opponent. “Man, it’s going to be embarrassing if I lose to this guy,” Trump has told advisers. Trailing in most polls, Trump has careened through a marathon series of rallies in the last week, trying to tear down Biden and energize his supporters, but also fixated on crowd size and targeting perceived enemies like the news media and Dr. Anthony Fauci.

‘Non-scalable’ barrier goes up around White House before election” via WFLA — On Monday, the White House, already encircled by multiple layers of protection, got another barrier — a “non-scalable” fence around the perimeter. Photos and video showed workers unloading stacks of fence segments and setting them up Monday. According to CNN, the fences are the same style of security barrier put in place over the summer after the killing of George Floyd. The material is extremely stable, hard to cut and has holes so small that it is difficult to get a handhold. NBC News first reported that the fences would go around the entire White House grounds, the Elipse and Lafayette Square.

Biden turns to Pennsylvania as he hammers Trump’s presidency” via Annie Linskey of The Washington Post — On the final Sunday before an election that could secure the prize that has eluded him in two previous national campaigns, Biden hardened his pitch in the state that more than any other could decide the presidency, offering himself as the candidate best equipped to halt the nation’s raging coronavirus pandemic and heal its economic decline. His campaign events in Philadelphia marked the kickoff to a 36-hour blitz of Pennsylvania, broken only by an added side trip to next-door Ohio, where a victory would offer another pathway to the 270 electoral votes the winner needs. As Biden focused on a narrow corner of the country, Trump scoured multiple states to ensure that his loyal followers come out to vote.

The 8 states where the White House will be won: POLITICOs preelection guide” via POLITICO — The reason is that the race remains close in most of the eight swing states POLITICO has identified as critical battlegrounds — Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. While Biden leads in every one of them, his advantage is tenuous. By almost every traditional yardstick for measuring elections, Trump seems on the verge of being denied a second term. Even so, he can’t be counted out. Florida ultimately boils down to two big wagers. Democrats are betting they can turn out enough low-propensity, new and blue-leaning independent voters — along with more senior citizens than usual — to carry the state. The GOP gamble hinges on turning out their more numerous high-propensity voters.

Biden leads Trump by double digits nationally, USC poll suggests” via David Lauter of the Los Angeles Times — Trump heads into the final, frenetic 48 hours of campaign 2020 having lost ground among key groups that powered his drive to the presidency four years ago, the final USC Dornsife poll of the election shows. Biden leads Trump by double digits nationally, 54% to 43% in the poll’s daily tracking, a margin that has remained almost unchanging since summer. Biden’s support has ticked down just slightly from the high it reached after the first debate between the two candidates in late September, but overall, the poll has barely budged since USC began its daily tracking of the race in August.

Two final swing state polls give Biden a slight edge over Trump in Ohio and Florida.” via Neil Vigdor of The New York Times — Florida and Ohio, two states that Trump can least afford to lose in his bid for reelection, continued to tilt toward Biden, in two final battleground state polls conducted by Quinnipiac University and released on Monday. In Florida, a state that both candidates have visited in the final week of the campaign, Biden led Trump 47% to 42%, though nine% of those polled said they were still undecided. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points. In Ohio, Biden led Trump by 47% to 43%, with 8% of likely voters still undecided. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.

To Trump, ‘the polls that matter’ point to victory. The rest are ‘fake.’” via Maggie Haberman of The New York Times — When Trump talks about polling, his focus is very much on survey-takers that he thinks are good for him. Polls that show him trailing Biden — virtually all national polls — are simply “fake news.” The President’s blinkered view has created something of an alternate universe, one not governed by polling averages or independent analysis but by declarative statements that, at times, feel as if they are coming out of nowhere. This month, Trump proclaimed on Twitter that he was “winning BIG in all of the polls that matter.” Such polls seem to boil down to Rasmussen Reports and the Trafalgar Group.

Why Trump can’t afford to lose” via Jane Mayer of The New Yorker — No American President has ever been charged with a criminal offense. But, as Trump fights to hold on to the White House, he and those around him surely know that if he loses, the presumption of immunity that attends the presidency will vanish. Given that more than a dozen investigations and civil suits involving Trump are currently underway, he could be looking at an endgame even more perilous than the one confronted by Richard Nixon. The Presidential historian Michael Beschloss said of Trump, “If he loses, you have a situation that’s not dissimilar to that of Nixon when he resigned. Nixon spoke of the cell door clanging shut.” Few people have evaded consequences more cunningly. That run of good luck may well end, perhaps brutally, if he loses to Biden.

Three words that haunt Biden: ‘Dewey defeats Truman’” via Niall Ferguson of Yahoo! Finance — I can see the headline already: “Biden Defeats Trump.” With just two days remaining before the final votes are cast, Trump’s obstacles to reelection look insurmountable. The pandemic he wished would miraculously go away is entering its third wave. The economy is recovering but after a savage recession. He is two points further behind in the polls than John McCain was in 2008 and almost as far behind as George H.W. Bush was in 1992. In recent columns, experienced pundits have dared to contemplate a landslide victory for Biden. My Halloween treat for one and all is 72 years old, dating back to just before Biden’s sixth birthday. It is a newspaper front page, dated Nov. 3, 1948, and it carries the immortal headline, “Dewey Defeats Truman.”

Biden camp quietly raises money for postelection court brawl” via Elena Schneider and Natasha Korecki of POLITICO — Biden’s campaign fundraising efforts have quietly turned toward raising additional money for a possible post-Election Day legal fight with Trump that could stretch through November. In recent calls, Biden allies and donors discussed preparations to counter potential lawsuits from Trump and his campaign. They detailed how close results in key states could set off prolonged, expensive legal fights, according to two people who participated in those calls. If vote totals are close or contested, the funds would support the efforts of dozens of lawyers working for Biden’s campaign, including some who have already deployed to key battleground states as part of voter protection programs.

In a sea of Biden signs, these Trump supporters went looking for the ‘silent majority’” via Robert Samuels of The Washington Post — The canvassers rolled into the suburban subdivision in a last-minute effort to rescue the reelection of Trump. But it was instantly clear from the view across the well-manicured front lawns that this would be a hard sell. “A lot of Biden-Harris signs around here,” said Nzinga Johnson, a communications assistant for the state GOP. “I’m surprised,” replied Apostle Wiggins, a pastor. “I did my research, and this area is supposed to be pretty red.” The latest polls showed a competitive race between Trump and Biden in a state that swung for Republicans in the past two presidential elections.

Kamala Harris could be quietly on the brink of a historic leap” via Chelsea Janes of The Washington Post — Sen. Harris was in the midst of a frenzied campaign swing last year when a mother introduced her two young Black daughters, and Harris asked their names. The younger sister, Maya, looked down, too shy to answer, so Harris lifted her chin and looked her in the eyes, saying, “You always hold that chin up.” Older Jasmine then told Harris, “If you don’t make it, I’ll take your place.” Harris responded, “Well, now we have a plan.” Her potential to become the first woman close to the presidency has gotten less attention than previous female candidacies.

Kamala Harris is on the cusp of making history.

As voting ends, battle intensifies over which ballots will count” via Jim Rutenberg, Michael S. Schmidt, Nick Corasaniti and Peter Baker of The New York Times — With the election coming to a close, the Trump and Biden campaigns, voting rights organizations and conservative groups are raising money and dispatching armies of lawyers for what could become a state-by-state, county-by-county legal battle over which ballots will ultimately be counted. The deployments, involving hundreds of lawyers on both sides, go well beyond what has become normal since the disputed outcome in 2000 and are the result of the open efforts of Trump and the Republicans to disqualify votes on technicalities and baseless charges of fraud at the end of a campaign in which the coronavirus pandemic has severely tested the voting system.

Federal judge rejects GOP effort to throw out 127,000 early ballots in Texas” via Axios staff reports — A federal judge on Monday rejected a Republican request to invalidate 127,000 ballots that had already been cast via drive-through voting stations across Harris County, Texas. Harris County, which includes the city of Houston, is the most populous county in Texas and voted for Clinton over Trump by 160,000 ballots in 2016, according to Bloomberg. The ruling comes one day after the Texas Supreme Court denied a nearly identical effort by Republicans in Harris County. Texas, which hasn’t backed a Democrat for president since 1976, has been rated a tossup by the Cook Political Report. Biden securing the state’s 38 electoral votes would virtually guarantee his path to the White House.

Judge blocks Trump campaign’s effort to stop mail-in ballot counting in Las Vegas” via Oriana Gonzalez of Axios — A Nevada judge on Monday rejected a lawsuit from Trump‘s reelection campaign that sought to temporarily halt the processing of mail-in ballots in Clark County, which includes Las Vegas. The Trump campaign and Republicans have raised unsubstantiated doubts around voter registration and mail-in ballots across the country, with the lawsuit in the Democratic-leaning Clark County just the latest example. The president has baselessly claimed that mail-in ballots encourage fraud. Carson City District Court Judge James Wilson‘s decision allows Clark County to continue counting and processing the mail-in ballots submitted for the election without any delays.

How to stress-eat your way through Election Day with free food” via Alexis Benveniste of CNN Business — Election Day may be a stressful or emotional time for many, and a bunch of fast-food chains are stepping up with free comfort food to help you cope. Are these deals little more than gimmicks to get you in the door (or app) to spend more money? Absolutely. But hey, everyone needs to eat. And the fast-food industry, a zero-loyalty business with razor-thin margins, relies on these short-term promotions to boost sales from time to time.

— PREZ. IN FLA. —

Florida National Guard to be deployed across Florida on Election Day” via Ileana Najarro of the Tampa Bay Times — The Florida National Guard is activating soldiers in several locations across the state on Election Day, according to a Guard spokesperson. Additional details, such as the number of soldiers and locations, were unavailable Monday evening due to operational security, said spokeswoman Lt. Col. Caitlin Brown. But she added the move came from the direction of Gov. Ron DeSantis. Guard units across the country have mobilized to assist with traffic control at polling sites and prepared to respond to any civil unrest following Election Day.

Early votes have been counted. Who has the Florida advantage going into Election Day?” via David Smiley and Howard Cohen of the Miami Herald — Assuming everyone voted according to their party, the two-week early voting period that ended Sunday could be good news for the challenger in the presidential race in a state many call a must-win to take the White House. For the first time in two weeks, Florida Democrats cast more ballots than Republicans on Sunday, helping Democratic nominee Biden pad his advantage over Trump in the nation’s biggest battleground heading into Election Day. According to figures posted Monday morning by the Florida Division of Elections, just over 100,000 Democratic votes were processed Sunday, the final day of early voting in Florida.

Florida’s Election Day voters carried Trump to victory in 2016. Will they do it again?” via Alex Daugherty and David Smiley of the Miami Herald — Trump had a huge Election Day in 2016 that carried him to victory in must-win Florida. Can he do it again? Trump likely heads into Tuesday facing a deficit. About 108,000 more Democrats than Republicans had voted through Sunday, the final day of in-person early voting. But that doesn’t take into account independents and minor party voters, or party switchers. Campaign operatives on both sides of the aisle believe Biden is likely winning independents, though they disagree on the margins. There is a general consensus that when the polls open Tuesday at 7 a.m., Trump will need his supporters to outnumber voters backing Biden.

Donald Trump is pushing hard for votes in Florida. Image via AP.

Even with massive Florida voter turnout so far, the presidential race hinges on who shows up at the polls Tuesday” via Anthony Man and Aric Chokey of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Voters in Florida, determined to make their voices heard in the presidential election, continued to smash voting records over the weekend. The outcome now depends on who shows up to vote on Tuesday. Just who votes on Election Day is impossible to predict, in no small part because the coronavirus pandemic has turned everything upside down. In past elections, Florida Republicans did better with mail-in-voting, and Democrats did better with early voting. Democrats, who polls show are more concerned about COVID-19 than Republicans, moved to mail voting in droves this year.

’A really tough state’: Florida enters Election Day to close to call” via Matt Dixon and Gary Fineout of POLITICO — For Democrats, the good news looks like this: Broward County, a party stronghold, is turning out voters at a rate three percentage points higher than statewide turnout. The electorate has grown more diverse. Some 100,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans will have voted by Election Day. The party has roughly 200,000 more “sporadic voters” — people who don’t always cast ballots — than Republicans, giving Democrats greater potential to expand their base. “There are definitely places I feel good about,” Steve Schale, who runs pro-Joe Biden super PAC Unite the Country, told reporters. “Most of the I-4 corridor I feel good about. Broward and Palm Beach County, turnout looks good.”

The 2 big bets that will decide Florida” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO — The Republican gamble hinges on turning out their more numerous high-propensity voters on Election Day — a time-honored practice for the Florida GOP. For the past three general elections here, Republicans have prevailed with that strategy. by casting a record number of absentee ballots by mail, Democrats amassed a big cushion over Republicans, who came out in force during the state’s in-person early voting period that ran from Oct. 19 through Sunday. While Republicans boast of having 167,000 more high-propensity voters than Democrats, registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by 2 percentage points on Florida’s voter rolls. And Democrats are still turning out higher numbers of new voters and voters who didn’t cast ballots in the last two general elections.

Barack Obama says South Florida ‘can deliver the change that we need’” via The Associated Press — Obama is criticizing Trump for casting doubt on the results of Tuesday’s upcoming election, likening him to strongmen elsewhere in the world. Addressing a Monday evening drive-in rally in Miami on Democratic presidential nominee Biden’s behalf, Obama said his successor has suggested he may “declare victory before all the votes are counted tomorrow.” … “That’s something a two-bit dictator does,” Obama said. “If you believe in democracy, you want every vote counted.” Obama said if a Democrat was acting like Trump, “I couldn’t support him.” Obama stressed the need to have a high turnout Tuesday, as data has shown a higher share of Miami-Dade County Republicans have voted than their Democratic counterparts.

Jill Biden will visit Tampa and St. Pete on Election Day” via 10 Tampa Bay — The Trump and Biden campaigns are making their last-minute pushes for votes in battleground states, including Florida. And that will run all the way through Election Day. Dr. Jill Biden will travel to Tampa and St. Petersburg on Tuesday as she makes her final case for voters to elect her husband. Meanwhile, Mr. Biden will focus on visits to Scranton and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Democratic vice presidential nominee Harris will campaign in Detroit on Nov. 3.

Shot —Rick Scott ‘absolutely’ expects Florida results Tuesday night” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Scott, a former two-term Governor of the state, expects Floridians to know who won the state’s electoral votes Tuesday night. The Senator commented on Monday on the Fox News Channel’s America’s Newsroom, saying he “absolutely” expects results on Tuesday night. “We’ll be able to announce a winner tomorrow night,” Scott said, expressing confidence in the state’s 67 supervisors of elections to handle the processes smoothly in their counties. The first-term Republican Senator, who rallied with Trump in Opa-locka Sunday night, was sure to remind viewers that he had, in fact, worked toward the President’s reelection.

Chaser — “’Be ready for a recount’: Scott talks lessons of 2018 Senate race” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — “Be ready for a recount,” the first-term Republican said on Newsmax, in response to questions about the recount in the 2018 U.S. Senate race and potential parallels with the race between Trump and Biden. Scott told host Sean Spicer that “you’ve got to be ready for a recount,” given the likelihood of yet another close election in the state. “Be ready for a recount. You’ve got to be ready for a recount. You’ve got to assume you’re going to have a recount,” the Senator told Spicer. “Unfortunately, we have to have in these races now a lot of lawyers. We’ve gotta have a lot of people watching the polls,” Scott said.

If Tuesday’s margins are thin, lawyers are ready to fight for every Florida vote” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — The ghost of 2000 hovers over Election Day. People shudder that another razor-thin presidential election in the nation’s largest battleground state could mean weeks of legal challenges as both parties jockey to use the courts to shave votes from their opponent and count every vote for their candidate. And this time, the list of grievances is much longer than it was in 2000. Elections experts and lawyers say the potential line of Election Day and postelection lawsuits could involve questions over voters who are turned away from the polls, allegations of voter suppression and intimidation, questions about voter intent and how to interpret marks on the ballot, and challenges to people who were not on the rolls but voted anyway.

Trump or Biden? Former President George W. Bush won’t reveal who he voted for” via WFLA — We may never know who former President Bush voted for in the 2020 presidential race. After famously selecting “none of the above” on Election Day in 2016, a Bush spokesman said there are no plans to reveal who the former President or First Lady voted for this year. According to The Dallas Morning News, spokesman Freddy Ford said Bush is “retired from presidential politics” and added the couple’s votes would be kept private. According to the Morning News, Bush and his wife, Laura, voted in person on October 15. There was some speculation the 43rd president might publicly back Democrat Biden. However, that never happened.

George W. Bush isn’t saying which way he voted. Image via AP.

Celebrities spent millions so Florida felons could vote. Will it make a difference?” via Lawrence Mower and Langston Taylor of the Tampa Bay Times — The multimillion-dollar effort by Michael Bloomberg, LeBron James and other celebrities to pay off lingering court fines and fees for Florida felons could make almost 13,000 of them eligible to vote in Tuesday’s election, an analysis found. Although the modest increase in eligible felons falls far short of expectations, it could be large enough to make a difference in a key state where polls indicate that the presidential contest is once again a tossup. Among four of the state’s largest counties — Hillsborough, Pinellas, Palm Beach and Polk, about 32%, or 1,518, of the 4,700 felons who had their fines and fees paid by the nonprofit Florida Rights Restoration Coalition are registered to vote in the upcoming election, according to the review.

Meet the Republican voter whose ballots were rejected by Florida more than anyone else’s” via Meleah Lyden and Alex Deluca of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — In battleground Florida, where political campaigns are won or lost by the narrowest of margins, the numbers of rejected mail ballots may be enough to swing the election either way. Already more than 15,000 mail ballots in Florida have been declared ineligible ahead of next week. Political fortunes have been decided in Florida by less. The problem is disturbing, especially to Democrats since they represent nearly half the 4.5 million people in Florida who voted by mail so far. About 21% of the 4.5 million were not affiliated with any party.

Post office still working on backlog of 180,000 pieces of mail, including some ballots” via Aaron Liebowitz and Rob Wile of the Miami Herald — The USPS said in a court filing late Monday that around 180,000 delayed pieces of mail have been discovered at a South Miami-Dade County post office where dozens of undelivered ballots were found Friday. With Election Day one day away, postal employees were still sorting through mail at the Princeton facility Monday, according to the filing in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. No additional ballots had been found Monday. The filing said all but one of the 62 ballots had been delivered, though it wasn’t clear how many had already been filled out by voters and how many had never even been delivered to voters.

— NEW ADS —

DNC War Room announces final ad (for real this time) — The DNC War Room on Monday released its final ad of the cycle. Titled “November 3,” the ad highlights what is at stake in the election and empowers voters to make a change on Tuesday. The English version of the minute-long spot will air in Wilkes-Barre, PA; Milwaukee, WI; Grand Rapids, MI; and cable in Washington, D.C. The Spanish version, narrated by actress Stephanie Beatriz, will air in Orlando, FL; Phoenix, AZ; and on national Spanish cable. Since June, the DNC War Room has released 17 television ads to hold Trump accountable for his failed record.

Billie Jean King asks voters to make a plan in new DNC ad — The Democratic National Committee released a new digital ad on Monday. Titled “History Makers,” the ad features history-making tennis player King urging Americans who haven’t cast their ballots to make a plan to vote on Election Day. “We are history makers,” King says. “Together, we are 90 million reasons a brighter future lies just ahead — the 90 million Americans who voted early, the most votes ever cast before Election Day … Help us make this election have the highest turnout in American history. Be a history maker — vote on Election Day.” The ad is running on digital platforms like YouTube in key battleground states, including Florida.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

To watch the latest Lincoln Project ad, click on the image below:

— VOTERS ARE VOTING —

— 2020 — 

55% of Americans believe 2020 Election Day will be most stressful day of their lives!” via Chris Melore of Study Finds — With political divisions reaching historic highs, a survey finds a majority of the country believe their most stressful day of 2020 hasn’t even arrived yet. The poll examining mental health reveals 55% of Americans think Election Day 2020 will be the most stress-filled day of their lives. The OnePoll survey examined the current mental health of 2,000 adults, focusing on the stress caused by COVID-19 and the presidential race. Nearly six in 10 people can’t imagine being more stressed than they already are this year, while 67% want the year to be over now. The study, commissioned by Feelmore Labs and Cove, reveals Millennials (61%) and Generation X (58%) feel the Election Day strain more than anyone else. Only one-third of Baby Boomers feel the same way about the upcoming vote.

COVID-19, the economy and political unrest is making Election Day the most stressful day ever for a majority of Americans.

The year of the vote: How Americans surmounted a pandemic and dizzying rule changes so their voices would be heard” via Amy Gardner of The Washington Post — In a year when the act of voting felt more precarious than ever, more than 94 million had voted in the 2020 election, casting their ballots early or by mail in record numbers in virtually every state in the nation. Tens of millions more will don masks and warm clothes in many places to vote the old-fashioned way, in person, on Election Day. They’ll do it despite, and in many cases, because of the isolation and obstacles of this unusual year. Those who have voted have lost jobs or loved ones to the pandemic or have battled the coronavirus themselves. They have withstood rain and heat and lines, risked exposure to the virus and navigated dizzying rule changes about signature requirements.

The tumult of a nation divided by politics is spilling into the voting lines” via Eileen Kelley, Mario Ariza, Susannah Byran and Wells Dusenbury of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The disharmony of America is leading to clashes at South Florida’s polling places as voting brings the two angry sides into each other’s space. Social media videos, police reports and interviews show that the nation’s divide has turned the private and sacred right of democracy into a stressful and contentious experience bordering on intimidation. Police have been called out dozens of times as dueling partisans turn to amplified speakers, airhorns, sirens and even cowbells in the tumult. The result is arguments, shoving, baiting, name-calling, blocked access and harassment near poll entrances. It’s become so extreme that one local candidate hired people to protect her.

Polling places are unable to avoid the politics of mask-wearing” via Neena Satija, Emma Brown, Michael Kranish and Beth Reinhard of The Washington Post — A voter’s personal experience casting a ballot has long been shaped by decisions of local elections officials, who control many of the ground rules and allocate resources for voting operations. Now, as historic numbers of Americans cast early ballots for the 2020 presidential election in the middle of the worst public health crisis in a century, they’re encountering disparate policies on masks, too. The issue of wearing masks, particularly indoors where public health officials have said they are crucial to reducing coronavirus transmissions, is adding another flashpoint to arguments about balancing individual rights and safeguarding public health.

Lines, lawsuits and COVID: 5 big questions confront election officials before voting ends” via Zac Montellaro of POLITICO — How will in-person voting go? Despite huge turnout already, tens of millions of voters have yet to cast their ballots. Will there be voter intimidation? Trump’s militant language to recruit volunteers and his repeated and unfounded claims of widespread fraud have led to fears of poll problems. Can the Postal Service deliver ballots on time? Will Americans be patient — or will someone declare victory early? Results are never final on U.S. election nights. Polls have shown that Americans are prepared. How will lawsuits affect the vote count? Lawyers have warned that a close election could spawn a wave of litigation in multiple battleground states that ends at the Supreme Court, Bush v. Gore-style.

As Election Day approaches, many Americans abroad are grateful for the distance” via Ruby Mellen of The Washington Post — The past four years have not always been an easy time to be an American overseas, and the run-up to the 2020 presidential election is no exception. According to a Pew survey of 13 countries, international approval of the United States has spiraled to the lowest levels since the organization began tracking it. The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the trend, the U.S. response to which has alarmed experts worldwide and ground much international travel to a standstill, disrupting the lives of those split between countries. A half-dozen Americans based outside the United States said that a defining aspect of life abroad in recent times has been watching attitudes toward America shift.

In service-heavy Florida, minimum wage boost is on ballot” via Mike Schneider of The Associated Press — Joseph Gourgue wishes he could help out his children and grandchildren financially. Still, his $9 an hour wage as a wheelchair attendant at Orlando International Airport doesn’t let him. Gourgue, 61, is hoping a gradual increase in Florida’s minimum wage paves the way for him to be able to help his children pay for weddings or buy gifts for his two grandchildren. Florida voters this election cycle are deciding whether to raise the state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next six years. “I would save up money. I want to be able to help out my grandkids before I go,” Gourgue said. “I can put the money back into the economy.”

Many Florida service workers will benefit from the minimum wage hike of Amendment 2, but business owners say they will be the ones who suffer, Image via AP.

State GOP far out raises Democrats” via The News Service of Florida — The Republican Party of Florida raised more than $18 million from Aug. 14 through Thursday, dwarfing the amount raised by the state Democratic Party. The GOP reported raising $18,069,093 and spending $20,635,487 during the period, while the Florida Democratic Party reported raising $4,271,245 and spending $8,563,102. Among large recent contributions to the Republican Party were $500,000 last week from Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, reports show.

— CONG. CAMPAIGNS — 

—“Phil Ehr to test CD 1’s loyalty to Trump, Gaetz on Election Day” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics

—“Gun-toting newcomer Anna Paulina Luna hopes to oust Charlie Crist, but it’s a long shot” via Kate Bradshaw of Florida Politics

Gun-toting Anna Paulina Luna wants to go to Congress, but she has to make it through Charlie Crist first. Image via Instagram.

—”Can Alan Cohn be the Democrat to flip CD 15? He’ll have to get through Scott Franklin” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics

—”Vern Buchanan faces latest DCCC-backed challenge in Margaret Good” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

—”Can Democrats hold on Florida’s CD 26, the closest congressional race in the state this cycle?” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

The race for Miami’s perennial tossup seat starts leaning Democratic” via Patricia Mazzei of The New York Times — It felt like 100 degrees on a recent Saturday when Carlos A. Giménez, the Republican candidate in Florida’s most competitive congressional race, stood on a busy street corner in the Miami suburbs with a gaggle of masked relatives and campaign volunteers, waving signs at the honking cars. The driver of a souped-up Toyota Corolla revved his engine. A street vendor took advantage of the political gawkers to step in between traffic lanes, selling fresh guavas for $5 a bag. On the opposite corner, a homeless man seized the moment and held up a piece of cardboard where he had scrawled, “Biden Harris.” Many, if not most, people recognized Mr. Gimenez, the mayor of Miami-Dade County.

—”Take two: Donna Shalala and Maria Elvira Salazar to face off again for CD 27 seat” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

— LEG. CAMPAIGNS —

—“Loranne Ausley looks to stave off Marva Preston in contentious SD 3 contest” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics

—“Kathy Lewis challenges Danny Burgess in surprising come-up for SD 20” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics

Poll shows Jacksonville Republican Wyman Duggan headed to reelection in HD 15” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — A fresh survey from St. Pete Polls suggest that while Democrats have made gains in Jacksonville’s House District 15 this cycle, the Republican in the state House should survive them. The survey of 315 likely voters in the Westside Jacksonville district shows that incumbent Rep. Duggan is poised to defeat Democratic challenger Tammyette Thomas when the votes are counted Tuesday night. Running in a D+3 district, Duggan is the choice of 50% of the voters surveyed, with Thomas the choice of 41%. When the field is narrowed to voters who have already voted (87% of the sample), the numbers narrow, with Duggan leading by only three points. This suggests that the voters on Election Day will be Republican or Republican-leaning.

Wyman Duggan seems poised for reelection.

—”Four Orange County House races in question” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

—“Can Jessica Harrington ride a blue wave to victory in red HD 64?” via Kate Bradshaw of Florida Politics

—“In this coastal Pinellas swing district, there’s more than meets the eye” via Kate Bradshaw of Florida Politics

Poll: Fiona McFarland surges as race for HD 72 goes down to the wire” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A final St. Pete Polls survey in House District 72 shows McFarland with a small lead on Democrat Drake Buckman. The poll, commissioned by Florida Politics, shows McFarland the choice of 48% of likely voters, Buckman the pick for 47%, and another 5% undecided. Pollsters report a 4.6% margin of error. Respondents were polled on Oct. 31 and Nov. 1, days before the race gets settled. But the results show McFarland surging as the election draws near. A poll taken by the same outfit on Oct. 17 and 18 found Buckman leading 48% to 44%. The same poll shows Joe Biden maintaining an advantage in the district despite Republicans holding a registration edge.

—”Delores Hogan Johnson faces party-backed challenger in Dana Trabulsy” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

—”Democrats seek to flip HD 93 in effort to turn Broward fully blue” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

— DOWN BALLOT —

Ron DeSantis urges Floridians to shoot down $15 minimum wage amendment” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — DeSantis urged Floridians to vote against a proposed constitutional amendment that would raise Florida’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. “Now is not the time,” DeSantis said in a statement. “Ballot Amendment 2 would close small businesses, kill jobs, and reduce wages.” The Governor’s statement comes only hours before Florida voters will finally decide on Amendment 2. If passed, the amendment would bump the minimum wage to $10 an hour in 2021. It would then rise $1 each year until it hits $15 in 2026. The amendment’s proponents argue a higher wage would lift many out of poverty, increase consumerism, and reduce social program dependency.

Ron DeSantis is urging Florida voters to reject Amendment 2. Image via Twitter.

Campaign for sales tax raises $1.7 million as charter school advocates join in support” via David Bauerlein of the Florida Times-Union — The campaign for a half-cent sales tax for schools is steaming toward Election Day Tuesday with broad backing from the Duval County School Board, charter school advocates, business groups, Mayor Lenny Curry, teacher unions, builders, the former and current owners of the Jaguars, and even a motorcycle club that’s riding in favor of the referendum. Supporters of traditional public schools and charter schools have had their share of battles, but they’re on the same page, at least for the referendum. They’ve channeled more than $1.7 million to two political committees working to pass the tax.

Police reform at center of Jacquelyn McMiller, Kevin Anderson battle for mayorship in Fort Myers” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A bust of Robert E. Lee just left a Fort Myers Park after years of objections from Black residents. Is the city now ready to elect its first Black female Mayor? It’s one of the questions tacitly at play in the seat of Lee County. Mayor Randy Henderson’s resignation this year to run for Congress triggered a Special Election early. Now, former police officer and current City Councilman Kevin Anderson faces longtime Dunbar leader Jacquelyn McMiller for the city’s highest office. Anderson was the top vote-getter in an August primary. But McMiller has seen significant help flow in from the Florida Democratic Party as leaders look to boost candidates in down-ballot races.

Orange Democrats warn of mysterious ‘Stay home’ robocalls on election’s eve” via Steven Lemongello and Mario Ariza of the Orlando Sentinel — A mysterious robocall on the day before Election Day telling people to “stay home” is raising red flags among Orange County Democrats. But it’s unclear if the calls have anything to do with the U.S. election because they may have been heard first in Canada. Orange County Democratic Chair Wes Hodge said the call, which features a robotic voice and only lasts about eight seconds, was received by at least 13 Democrats in the county. “This is just a test call,” the voice says. “Time to stay home. Stay safe and stay home.”

Brevard PACs deal in wide range of murky influence near and far” via Jim Waymer of Florida Today — How do politicos get around the $1,000 per candidate limit on campaign contributions in Florida, so they don’t have to pull punches with opponents? They create a political action committee, or dozens of them, swapping donations with allies from near and far, and then letting the attack ads rip. It’s extremely complex and all part of how politics is played around the state. And it’s 100% legal. A political action committee, or PAC, is an organization created under the Internal Revenue Code that is allowed to pool unlimited campaign contributions from various sources and donate those funds to campaigns for or against candidates, ballot initiatives or legislation, as long as they itemize the expenses, in Florida at least.

Jack Sanborn, former Santa Rosa TDC member, accused of stealing campaign sign” via Annie Blanks of the Pensacola News Journal — An arrest warrant has been issued for Milton resident Sanborn, a longtime former board member of the Santa Rosa County Tourist Development Council, after he was accused of stealing a political sign. According to a news release from the State Attorney’s Office issued Monday afternoon, Sanborn is wanted on suspicion of one count of petit theft for the alleged theft of a political sign. The charge is a second-degree misdemeanor that is punishable by up to 60 days in county jail and a maximum fine of $500.

— CORONA FLORIDA —

COVID-19 hospitalizations increase” via The News Service of Florida — As of a Monday afternoon count, 2,474 people were hospitalized with primary diagnoses of the virus, according to the state Agency for Health Care Administration website. While hospitalization numbers fluctuate daily, the number reported Monday was more than 200 higher than on any of the four previous Mondays. Miami-Dade County had 332 people hospitalized Monday with primary diagnoses of COVID-19, the largest number in the state. It was followed by Broward County, with 239; Hillsborough County, with 174; Palm Beach County, with 153; Orange County, with 149; Duval County, with 135; and Pinellas County, with 127, the state numbers show.

Reported COVID-19 cases climbed in October in Collier County, but reported deaths declined” via Dan DeLuca of Naples Daily News — The number of COVID-19 cases reported in Collier County rose sharply in October, a troubling sign heading into what medical experts believe will be a difficult winter battle with the novel coronavirus. At least a portion of this increase can likely be attributed to rising cases at Collier schools and colleges as well as the decision by DeSantis to move the state into Phase 3 reopening on Sept. 27. The move allowed for full customer capacity for restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and gyms. At the time, some epidemiologists said the governor’s decision came too soon and would lead to a jump in cases. 

Fort Lauderdale Mayor criticized for not quarantining after coronavirus exposure” via Naomi Feinstein of the Miami New Times — Even though Dean Trantalis and his chief of staff were among the city workers who had been exposed, the Mayor, who is up for reelection, has been out on the campaign trail this week, defying the quarantine orders suggested by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Kevin Cochrane, a four-year resident of Fort Lauderdale, tells New Times he was startled to see the mayor out and about. “I actually ran into the mayor when he wasn’t wearing a mask, and then, right when I got home, [I] went on Facebook and saw that he had actually been at a campaign event the day before, where he also was seen breaking quarantine, being clustered around two dozen kids who may or may not even know if he was exposed or not,” Cochrane says.

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis failed to quarantine after a COVID-19 diagnosis. Image via South Florida Gay News.

Sarasota-Manatee sees highest daily increase in COVID-19 cases since July” via Alan Shaw of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — According to the Florida Department of Health, Sarasota and Manatee counties reported 304 new cases of COVID-19. Sarasota County had 155 new COVID-19 cases reported and an average positivity rate of 4.9% for the last week, according to the FDOH. Manatee County reported 149 new cases, with an average positivity rate of 6.7% for the last week, according to the FDOH. For both Sarasota and Manatee counties, that’s the highest single-day increase in cases since July. No new COVID-19 deaths were reported in Sarasota County, a total of 344 have died there; no new COVID-19 deaths were reported in Manatee County, a total of 330 have died there.

AdventHealth recruiting volunteers for COVID-19 vaccine trial” via Naseem S. Miller of the Orlando Sentinel — AdventHealth is now a testing site for Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine trial, aiming to recruit 4,500 adults during the next eight weeks. “We want to bring the vaccine to where it can do the most good — in those communities and groups most at-risk for COVID-19,” according to an AdventHealth statement, encouraging participation by volunteers from diverse backgrounds, including African Americans, Hispanics, seniors, and front-line health workers. Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine trial is one of 11 large-scale trials going through the final phase of testing before a decision for approval.

— CORONA NATION —

White House sidestepped FDA to distribute hydroxychloroquine to pharmacies, documents show. Trump touted the pills to treat COVID-19.” via Christopher Rowland, Debbie Cenziper and Lisa Rein of The Washington Post — For days, Trump had touted the off-label use of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a potential cure for COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, despite a lack of scientific evidence it worked and amid mounting concerns about the dangers to patients with underlying medical conditions. Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro wanted to make sure the administration’s top vaccine expert would be on board with a White House plan to distribute the unproven drug to hard-hit cities. “The first thing out of his mouth was, ‘I want to know what team you are on,’ ” recalled Rick Bright, who at the time was responsible for stockpiling drugs for medical emergencies as director of the federal Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.

Donald Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro is making sure vaccine experts toe the line on an unproved COVID-19 drug.

Top Trump adviser bluntly contradicts President on COVID-19 threat, urging all-out response” via Lena H. Sun and Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post — A top White House coronavirus adviser sounded alarms Monday about a new and deadly phase in the health crisis, pleading with top administration officials for “much more aggressive action,” even as Trump continues to assure rallygoers the nation is “rounding the turn” on the pandemic. Deborah Birx’s internal report, shared with top White House and agency officials, contradicts Trump on numerous points: While the president holds large campaign events with hundreds of attendees, most without masks, she explicitly warns against them. While the president blames rising cases on more testing, she says testing is “flat or declining” in many areas where cases are rising. 

Doctors begin to crack COVID’s mysterious long-term effects” via Sarah Toy, Sumathi Reddy and Daniela Hernandez of The Wall Street Journal — Nearly a year into the global coronavirus pandemic, scientists, doctors and patients are beginning to unlock a puzzling phenomenon: For many patients, including young ones who never required hospitalization, COVID-19 has a devastating second act. Many are dealing with symptoms weeks or months after they were expected to recover, often with puzzling new complications that can affect the entire body. What is surprising to doctors is that many such cases involve people whose original cases weren’t the most serious, undermining the assumption that patients with mild COVID-19 recover within two weeks.

COVID-19 burden falls heavily on middle-aged men” via Jon Kamp and Jason Douglas of The Wall Street Journal — In the U.S., federal data show men represent about two-thirds of COVID-19 deaths among middle-aged people, and similar trends have emerged overseas. Scientists say there are a constellation of likely reasons, including health problems like high blood pressure and diabetes, that men tend to have more often, leading to worse COVID-19 outcomes. But researchers also are homing in on potential biological factors, including women’s more able immune systems. And research has shown men are more prone to poor hand hygiene, lax mask-wearing habits and delaying medical care. Identifying the factors at play is important, health experts say, to help guide effective prevention and treatment.

— CORONA ECONOMICS —

U.S. economy faces severe strains after election with Washington potentially paralyzed” via Jeff Stein of The Washington Post — America’s economy faces severe new strains in the two months between Tuesday’s election and January, a period when Washington could be consumed by political paralysis and gridlock. This window is typically used by successful presidential candidates to plan for the outset of their administration. Still, several large economic sectors are bracing to be hit by both an increase in coronavirus cases and winter weather arrival. These factors could exacerbate extreme slowdowns in the travel, restaurant and hospitality industries and further depress an oil industry already roiled by low prices. Millions of Americans are also at risk of having their power and water shut off with unpaid utility bills coming due.

COVID-19 and political gridlock sent shock waves through the U.S. economy. Image via AP.

Unemployment payments top $18 billion” via The News Service of Florida — Florida topped $18 billion paid out in its unemployment system since the COVID-19 pandemic in March. From March 15 to Sunday, the system had paid $18,003,063,834 to claimants, with much of the money coming from the federal government, according to information on the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity website. In all, the state had received 4,508,856 claims during the period, with 2,078,413 claimants paid.

These are the airlines teetering on the brink of COVID-19 ruin” via Anurag Kotoky and Angus Whitley of Bloomberg — Having a home government with deep pockets is emerging as key in terms of whether an airline will make it through the coronavirus pandemic. According to an analysis by Bloomberg News, carriers in jurisdictions where there is scant support from up high are most likely to go bust. Using the Z-score method developed by Edward Altman in the 1960s to predict bankruptcies, Bloomberg sifted through available data on listed commercial airlines to identify the ones most prone to financial strife. The list now is populated more by carriers in Africa and Latin America, where some have already folded or entered administration.

— MORE CORONA —

Trump’s dismissal of COVID-19 risk paved way to White House outbreak” via Jennifer Jacobs of Bloomberg — From the pandemic’s earliest days, Trump was of two minds on coronavirus. In public, he was dismissive and belittling of the virus, and those who feared it. In private, for all his bravado, he acted like a man who dreaded catching it. He told his then-chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, to “stay the hell home” from a trip to India in February because he didn’t want to be around Mulvaney and his lingering cough, according to people familiar with the trip. Even before the virus, Trump was known to dart to the other side of the room if someone sneezed. He used medical wipes labeled “not for use on skin” to scrub his hands, along with the ever-present Purell.

Despite his appearances at rallies and the cavalier attitude about COVID-19 at the White House, Donald Trump personally went to extreme measures not to get the virus.

As the virus rages, some are convinced it’s too late to stop it” via Mike Baker of The New York Times — In northern Idaho, which is facing record cases and hospitalizations, the local health board last month repealed a requirement that people wear masks in Kootenai County. “I personally do not care whether anybody wears a mask or not,” Walt Kirby said at a public hearing on the issue. “If they want to be dumb enough to walk around out there and expose themselves and others to this, that’s fine with me.” Governors around the country, particularly Republican ones, follow the president’s lead in resisting new restrictions. With the weather cooling and people moving their lives back indoors, the virus has begun an autumn rampage across the country far exceeding the peaks of months prior.

— STATEWIDE —

DeSantis declares Ocoee Massacre Remembrance Day” via Desiree Stennett of the Orlando Sentinel — A century after Black Ocoee residents were killed and terrorized by a white mob in response to a Black man attempting to vote, DeSantis on Monday declared Nov. 2 as 1920 Ocoee Election Day Massacre Remembrance Day in Florida. The proclamation followed an Oct. 23 request by the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida and the Orange County Branch of the NAACP. The massacre began on Election Day on Nov. 2, 1920, and lasted into the next day, culminating in a lynching. It is unknown how many people were killed.

High court rejects appeal from Florida death row inmate” via The Associated Press — The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from a Florida death row inmate whose conviction was based in part on the testimony of a controversial jailhouse informant. The justices did not comment in refusing to hear the case of James Dailey, who was convicted in the killing of 14-year-old Shelly Boggio in the Tampa area in 1985. According to an investigation, lawyers for Dailey say he was convicted on circumstantial evidence and the word of a jailhouse informant whose testimony has sent dozens of people to prison, including four who were sentenced to death. The other person convicted in Boggio’s killing now says he was solely responsible for her death. That man, Jack Pearcy, is serving a life sentence in prison.

Death row inmate James Dailey has lost his final appeal. Image via ABC.

Personnel note: Katie Edwards-Walpole joins Becker” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Law and lobbying firm Becker announced that Edwards-Walpole is joining the firm. The former state Representative will serve as a Senior Attorney in Becker’s Government Law and Lobbying group in West Palm Beach, where she will focus on agricultural, water, environmental and land use issues. “We are so happy to land Katie,” said Bernie Friedman, who chairs the Government Law and Lobbying practice. “Her keen legal skills, extensive government background, knowledge of regulatory process and procedures, and large network of contacts throughout Florida will be of great value for Becker and our clients, especially those in the agricultural, environmental and water industries.”

— D.C. MATTERS —

Scott breaks with Trump’s ‘Fire Fauci’ call” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — U.S. Sen. Scott broke with Trump on the future of Fauci on Monday. In response to a “Fire Fauci” chant at his rally in Opa-locka Sunday night, the President hinted at an imminent dismissal of the federal government’s infectious disease specialist. “Don’t tell anybody,” the President said to the South Florida crowd, “but let me wait until a little bit after the election.” Whether that was a serious call or just a joke from the chief executive is unknown, but Scott took pains to distance himself from the President’s desire to undermine the doctor Monday on CNN. “I have a very good working relationship with Dr. Fauci,” Scott told host John King. “I know he’s been working hard.”

— LOCAL NOTES —

The Trump effect in Palm Beach County: His presidency altered business and politics; his personality affected the people” via Antonio Fins, Christine Stapleton, Wendy Rhodes and Alexandra Clough of the Palm Beach Post — In early 2017, Kelly Smallridge was flipping through a PowerPoint presentation at a luncheon when she stopped on a slide with photos of the new President, Trump, and other Palm Beach County-connected members of the administration. “I’m not sure where I am going with this,” said Smallridge, president and CEO of the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County, pointing to the slide. “But, there’s something here.” At the time, Trump had been President for about two months. He had named two local county residents, Wilbur Ross and Ben Carson, to his Cabinet. And while the country was still getting acquainted with the commander in chief, Palm Beach County was getting acclimated to a presidential visit to his Mar-a-Lago club.

Principal in Holocaust controversy ousted for second time by school board” via Andrew Marra of The Palm Beach Post — Palm Beach County School Board members voted Monday to oust a controversial principal for a second time, reversing an earlier decision to reinstate him as they struggled to navigate roiling outrage over his remarks about the Holocaust. The 7-0 vote was the latest — but possibly not the last — turn in the battle over the career of former Spanish River High Principal William Latson. The veteran administrator was fired last October after sparking national outrage by telling a parent he “can’t say the Holocaust is a factual, historical event because I am not in a position to do so as a school district employee.”

Boca Raton High School Principal (and notorious Holocaust doubter) William Latson has been fired again.

Sheriff’s report: Joel Greenberg confronted husband of Seminole Tax Collector candidate at early-voting site” via Martin E. Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — Deputies were called to a Seminole County early-voting location last week after Greenberg, the former Seminole County tax collector charged with stalking a political opponent and sex trafficking related to how he accessed a state database, became involved in a confrontation with the husband of the Democratic candidate to replace him, according to a Sheriff’s Office report. Reached Monday, Greenberg denied his involvement and said he wasn’t even at the Lake Mary library branch on Oct 26 when Wayne Dictor, husband of Lynn “Moira” Dictor, told deputies Greenberg approached him in the parking lot. Greenberg said he was at a wedding that day.

JEA board selects Jay Stowe as next CEO” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — The JEA board selected Stowe as the next CEO of the utility during a Monday night special meeting, capping the national search for an executive who will lead JEA after the messy aftermath of a tumultuous sales attempt in 2019. Stowe is the founder of Stowe Utility Group in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and a former executive for the Tennessee Valley Authority. Board members said Stowe came with experience in electric and water utility services, which JEA also provides. “I thought his experience as a CEO, his experience as a municipal power operator in all phases of our business was the thing that really carried the day,” board Chairman John Baker said.

St. Pete is right up there with the Midwest for people making $60,000” via Bill Varian of the Tampa Bay Times — It may not feel like it, what with runaway rents and home prices, but St. Petersburg ranks highly among the best cities to live in the U.S. on an annual income of $60,000. That’s according to a survey by SmartAsset, an online site that recommends financial advisers. St. Petersburg ranked 23rd on the list, which also gave high marks to many small cities in the Midwest and the northern U.S. The top-ranked cities included Sioux Falls, S.D. at No. 1, followed by Billings, Montana and Lincoln, Nebraska. In fact, St. Pete was the only city in Florida to crack the Top 25, which included surprisingly few cities from the south.

— TOP OPINION —

I voted against Trump, but it doesn’t mean I’m rooting for the Democrats” via Megan McArdle of The Washington Post — I’ve watched so many disaffected conservatives and libertarians explain why they think the Republican Party can only be redeemed by its utter destruction in Tuesday’s elections. And as that wish might be on the brink of coming true, I think it’s worth explaining why at least a few of us aren’t rooting for it at all. Like many people, I didn’t really vote for Biden; I voted against Trump. But I have no hope that doing so will somehow teach the Republican Party not to mess with ­crypto-racist buffoons who have authoritarian instincts and an itchy Twitter finger. That sort of lesson is the kind of thing that party elites can and do learn, as they maneuver toward a winning electoral coalition.

— OPINIONS —

Now is our time to affirm that the ballot is mightier than the bullet” via Dana Milbank of The Washington Post — Election Day is here, and Americans have reason to be tense. Trump has told confidants he’ll declare victory Tuesday night, even before the votes get counted. Federal authorities were building a “non-scalable” fence around the White House Monday to protect a man who refuses to commit to a peaceful transfer of power. The FBI said Sunday it is investigating a convoy of Trump supporters who apparently attempted to run a Biden campaign bus off a Texas interstate; Trump praised the perpetrators and condemned the FBI.

The united hates of America” via Carlos Lozada of The Washington Post — It can be the fear of losing status in the face of the country’s racial and demographic transformations; or it can be the anger at never receiving enough status to avoid the threat of harm, harassment, even death at the hands of an unfair justice system. The cultural and political trenches of the Trump years, whether #MeToo and Black Lives Matter, the resurgence of racist forces, or the horrors at the southern border, all intensify the sense of identity. Trump instinctively grasps the power of these sentiments and has aggravated them whenever possible, from the birtherism lie to the demonization of Mexican immigrants to the specter of Cory Booker overrunning White suburbia.

My party is destroying itself on the altar of Trump” via Benjamin Ginsberg of The Washington Post — Trump has failed the test of leadership. His bid for reelection is foundering. And his only solution has been to launch an all-out, multimillion-dollar effort to disenfranchise voters — first by seeking to block state laws to ease voting during the pandemic, and now, in the final stages of the campaign, by challenging the ballots of individual voters unlikely to support him. This is as un-American as it gets. It returns the Republican Party to the bad old days of “voter suppression” that landed it under a court order to stop such tactics — an order lifted before this election. It puts the party on the wrong side of demographic changes in this country.

Lincoln Project: We’re fighting for a better America. A Biden era would be a good start.” via Reed Galen, Steve Schmidt, Rick Wilson and Stuart Stevens of USA Today — Last December, we launched The Lincoln Project with a clear mission: Defeat Trump and Trumpism at the ballot box. Today tens of millions of Americans are making their voices heard. We believe they will repudiate this president and his core beliefs. Those of us who formed The Lincoln Project had spent much of our professional lives working to elect Republicans. Many in our former tribe have expressed anger and disbelief that we would turn against our own party to take on a sitting president. In our minds, there was never any other option. The party we once called home exists now as a corrupted shell of its former self, informed by neither principle nor philosophy.

Too many voters, not enough suppression tactics. Hello, Election Day 2020!” via Frank Cerabino of The Palm Beach Post — Now that Election Day is upon us, it’s a good time to state the obvious. Every vote doesn’t count. We keep repeating that bromide, “every vote counts.” But we know it’s not true. If you don’t believe me, ask the 4.7 million Republican voters in California. Or the 1 million Democratic voters in Missouri. I know. I know. We Floridians are spoiled by our votes counting more than most Americans. And 20 years ago we proved it, by putting George W. Bush in the White House on the margin of just 537 Florida votes. But there are plans in the works to make Florida votes not count either. And you ought to be paying attention to that.

Tampa Bay schools need to keep masks in place” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — This is not the time for area school districts to endanger public safety by abandoning mask mandates. Masks are a valuable tool for limiting the spread of the coronavirus — both on-campus and across the community — and school leaders should keep this simple precaution in place as Tampa Bay continues its march to reopen safely. School districts across the region wisely adopted the mandates as part of a multipronged approach to reopening amid the pandemic. Along with new sanitation protocols and social distancing, the masks have provided another layer of protection and a confidence-boost for students yearning to return to the classroom.

— ON TODAY’S SUNRISE —

Our prolonged national nightmare — also known as the 2020 presidential election — is about to reach its conclusion.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— The presidential campaigns wrap up in Florida. Trump’s final appearance here before Election Day was a midnight rally at the Opa-locka Airport Sunday.

— Democrats responded with one last appearance by Obama, who was in South Florida last night.

— The polls are open till 7 p.m. The state will begin posting returns online at 8 p.m. once the polls close in northwest Florida counties in the Central time zone. Trump says Democrats are running scared in Florida, but Tallahassee City Commissioner Diane Williams Cox says this election will be like Moses parting the Red Sea.

— The surge in COVID-19 cases continues in Florida as the state Department of Health reported almost 4,700 new infections Monday, as well as 45 additional fatalities. But Trump says lockdowns are the real threat — not the virus — and during his South Florida rally, the crowd urged him to fire Dr. Fauci … the nation’s premiere epidemiologist.

— The President doesn’t actually have the legal authority to fire Fauci, but he hinted it could happen after the election.

— 100 years after it happened, Florida’s Governor declares Nov. 2 to be a day of remembrance for the Black residents of Ocoee who were murdered and terrorized by a white mob after a Black man tried to vote in the election of 1920.

— And finally, checking in with two Florida men: one bagged a gator that had been stalking him for years; the other won a million-dollar lottery jackpot with a ticket he had forgotten.

To listen, click on the image below:

— ALOE —

After the election, you may be upset. Look for signs of happiness.” via Christopher Spata of the Tampa Bay Times — It was a year ago this week that happiness appeared in St. Petersburg. The signs are red and yellow and simple with the lone word “happiness” and a little heart below. They’re made to last about 20 years, said Gary King, the 75-year-old retired marine mechanic and sand sculptor from Treasure Island, who began nailing them to poles along busy thoroughfares last November. There are now, to his count, more than 140 of them. Some were placed by special request after strangers messaged him online, hoping “happiness” might come to their corner of the city. King says that driving around putting up the signs is his therapy, after a lifetime marked by trauma and PTSD.

Gary King brings signs of happiness around the St. Petersburg area. Image via Facebook.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Happy birthday to Reps. Delores Hogan Johnson and Susan ValdesClay Barker, Nicole Graganella, Capital City Consulting’s Kenny Granger, and former Sen. Jack Latvala.

___

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.


One comment

  • C'mon

    November 3, 2020 at 8:08 am

    You guys need to start checking your dictionary before using words like Prodigal Son. “a person who leaves home and behaves recklessly, but later makes a repentant return.” The other day one of FLA POL reporters stated DeSantis had a gaudy approval rating. “extravagantly bright or showy, typically so as to be tasteless.”

    The aggravating grammar and sentence structure is bad enough. I enjoy reading the articles but I rarely come away without shaking my head at one of the two. Now it’s dictionary time.

Comments are closed.


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