Winner and Loser of the Week in Florida politics — Week of November 29, 2020

It was a good week for Pasco elections supervisor Brian Corley.

Flash forward to an American history class in the year 2070.

The subject: the 45th President of the United States. As students review President Donald Trump‘s term, they pepper the instructor with questions.

“Why did the people elect someone who tried to tear down the nation’s institutions? Trump attacked American institutions like the FBI, military leaders, medical experts, and the media. He supported white nationalists and thrived on conflict and division. He didn’t believe in climate change. That’s why hurricane season lasts 11 months and Orlando is beachfront property today.”

“Well, as best we can figure, voters in 2016 were tired of the same old candidates. They wanted to shake things up.”

“I can see why they were misled. He promised to hire only the best people, only to fire most of them. The textbook said he tried to turn the Department of Justice into his personal enforcement agency.”

“That’s true. His supporters didn’t seem to care, though.”

“Right. But didn’t they chant ‘lock her up’ about Hillary Clinton, even though she committed no crime?”

“That’s correct. Mr. Trump encouraged that same theme against all of his political opponents.”

“But isn’t that what totalitarian leaders from other countries did?”

“Yes, but Trump admired their so-called strength.”

“Why didn’t members of his party speak out against him?”

“They were, um … timid. They worried Trump might tweet something about them.”

“Tweet? They were afraid of a little bird?”

“You’ll have to look that one up.”

“Hundreds of thousands of Americans died because he mishandled the pandemic. He mocked prominent medical professionals of the day and his followers believed him. How could they be so dumb?”

“Well, a lot of them didn’t like wearing face masks to control the virus spread. They said it was an attack on their personal freedom.”

“They wanted the freedom to spread a deadly virus? Seriously?”

“Ridiculous, isn’t it?”

“Even with all that, can you explain why more than 70 million people voted for him when he ran for reelection? I know he lost to Joe Biden, but that’s still a lot of support.”

“Those people still believed American institutions were part of what they called the Deep State. Trump and conservative commentators told them the Deep State was trying to destroy America.”

“Wow. But when Trump lost the election decisively, he argued the outcome was rigged.”

“Deep state.”


“You’re not wrong.”

“How did America survive that era?”

“Because America may occasionally veer off course, but it always regains its senses. They realize it’s not about one political party or the other. It’s about preserving the greatest nation in the history of humankind, and we all have a role.”

“Are we going to be tested on this stuff?”

A voice from 2020 interjects. Nah. We already were tested.

America passed.

On to our weekly game of winners and losers.


Honorable mention: Wilton Simpson. The Senate President is practicing what he preaches about inclusivity.

He named women to a pair of vital posts for the 2020-2022 term. Kelli Stargell is the Senate budget chief and Kathleen Passidomo is the Chair of the Rules committee.

Simpson also, gasp, named three Democrats to key positions.

Jason Pizzo of North Miami Beach will lead the Criminal Justice Committee. St. Petersburg’s Darryl Rouson will lead the Agriculture Committee and Plantation’s Lauren Book heads the Children, Families, and Elder Affairs Committee.

Almost (but not quite) biggest winner: COVID-19 vaccine on its way to Florida hospitals. Praise the Lord and roll up your sleeve. Front-line health care workers in our state could soon be the first people in the state to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood and Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami could receive the vaccine within days. Other state hospitals expected to receive supplies include Tampa General Hospital, AdventHealth Orlando, and UF Health Jacksonville.

According to the Sun-Sentinel, Broward mayors were told that CVS and Walgreens will begin giving vaccinations at long-term-care facilities once the drugs are approved.

Mass vaccinations are not expected until at least March 2021.

The biggest winner: Pasco Supervisor of Elections Brian Corley. Corley, a Republican in a deep red county, chose the law and integrity over party and deception in breaking from the Trump pack.


In a powerful statement where he seemed to unleash pent-up emotion, Corley let it rip.

“In the days since the election, I have stood by as political pundits and some government officials have politicized the electoral process with baseless claims and misinformation intent upon undermining the election results,” he wrote.

“I realized (Thursday) I could no longer stay silent. As I watched Georgia’s Gabriel Sterling make an impassioned statement against actions which have resulted in threats against elections’ officials, his words, ‘it has to stop’ compelled me to speak out not only in a professional capacity but also as an American citizen.”

He wasn’t finished.

“As the world looks on, the greatest democracy in the world dares to risk the peaceful and orderly transition of power in favor of propagating unfounded claims of ‘rigged elections,’ he wrote.

He still wasn’t finished.

“In just this past week, we listened to campaign attorney Joe DiGenova suggest that Chris Krebs, formerly with Homeland Security, should be ‘taken out at dawn and shot,’ he wrote.

“And Attorney General William Barr confirmed the Department of Justice found no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election. I believe that history will not be kind to those who are cognizant of the truth and yet choose silence for political expediency.”

Well done, sir.


Dishonorable mention: Debbie Wasserman Schultz. The Florida Democrat from U.S. HD 23 lost her bid to chair the powerful House Appropriations Committee. That went instead to Democratic Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut.

The margin wasn’t close. DeLauro defeated Wasserman Schultz 148-79 in a vote held by the Democratic caucus.

Wasserman Schultz was classy in defeat.

“We ran hard as underdogs and fell short this time to our new Chairwoman, Rosa DeLauro, whom I heartily congratulate,” she said.

Almost (but not quite) biggest loser: Terrie Rizzo. To no one’s surprise, she will not run for another term as the leader of the Florida Democratic Party.

In her letter announcing the move, Rizzo highlighted fundraising efforts, increased voter registration, and the election of Nikki Fried as Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner. She is the first Democrat to win a state Cabinet position since Alex Sink in 2006.

“Even with all of this progress we still made mistakes — but we can learn from them. And although we didn’t get everything right, I believe that we can still celebrate our progress while acknowledging and improving upon our shortcomings,” Rizzo wrote.

One of those, um, “mistakes” was taking $780,000 in Personal Paycheck Protection loans, for which political parties are ineligible. Rizzo was less than forthcoming about that affair, and her fate was sealed after the thumping Democrats took in November.

It was generally conceded that Democrats were asleep at the wheel, especially in South Florida. They lost two prominent congressional races, and Trump cleaned up with Cuban-American voters there.

 The biggest loser: Florida attorney Bill Price. To borrow the words Joseph Welch said to Sen. Joseph McCarthy, “Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?

That might be a matter for a judge to decide after this jaw-dropping report from Atlanta TV station WSB.

It seems Price, speaking via Facebook Live to an audience of Bay County GOP members, tried to coach the group into a dubious attempt to intervene in the Georgia senatorial elections next month.

“We absolutely have to hold the Senate and we have to start fighting back, and we have to do whatever it takes,” Price said in the video. “And if that means changing your address for the next two months, so be it. I’m doing that. I’m moving to Georgia and I’m gonna fight and I want you all to fight with me.”

Price said his plan was to use his brother’s address in Hiram, Georgia. Then, WSB reported, he repeated and spelled his brother’s address so watchers could jot down the information.

“We can truly register at that address?” one woman asked, the video showed.

“Sure,” Price said, and suggested they have mail sent there to make it look good.

Reached by the station, Price said basically, aw-shucks, just kidding.

“Thanks for reaching out. I did not change my voter registration and I don’t have 2 million roommates,” Price wrote, referring to a “joke” he told about having millions join him in Georgia.

“But if my humorous comments bring attention to the massive and widespread voter fraud in Georgia, I would submit to you that it’s a good thing.”

Ah, but the station confirmed Price registered to vote the day after he made the speech. He used his brother’s address and swore that he was a Georgia resident and eligible to vote.

Oops. The joke might be on Price now.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said an investigation is underway, adding “those who move to Georgia just to vote in the Senate runoffs with no intention of staying are committing a felony that is punishable with jail time and hefty fines. They will be found, they will be investigated, and they will be punished.”

It sounds like the lawyer may need a lawyer.

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.

One comment

  • michael l. Hammond

    December 7, 2020 at 2:01 pm

    i was sorely mistaken to believe this was a non-partisan review of Florida politics. Shame…
    i am not a conspiracy theorist, but when it walks and talks like a duck, journalist used to investigate and determine if it is a duck, no matter what the experts say. Now i’m just a redneck from the panhandle of Florida, but i find the media’s hatred of Trump, has trumped their ability to be impartial even if the democrats in certain liberal cities stole this election. Get Trump out at any cost. It isn’t plausible the Donald Trump won Ohio by more than 8 points, Iowa by more than 8.5 points, and still lost Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin….can’t happen. Also, Trump won Florida by the greatest margin since 1988, but loses Georgia by a wisp….not possible or probable.
    Florida tallied more votes than any of these states and we knew Trump had won by 8:45 Eastern. Trump is up by more than massively in Pennsylvania and Michigan, and then they stop counting….then resume hours later with massive numbers of votes that were at or nearly 100% for Biden….Something is rotten in Denmark. For that sake of Democracy, we must hold folks who steal elections accountable…Unions, Radical left groups, Billionaires of all stripes were out to take Trump out whatever it took… America, as a 50 state union, will not survive a stolen election.
    Trump got a staggering vote count and most likely “won” the electoral college….his voters represent well over 80% of the Counties in America ie, 93 of 99 in Iowa, and his voters work and are mad as hell…they don’t loot and pillage, they don’t burn down businesses and destroy private property, but they also will never forget or forgive the “establishment and the corrupt press”. And when it come to the worst, they can shoot straight!

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