Winner and Loser of the Week in Florida politics — Week of January 24, 2021

Education is a winner in the proposed state budget. However, it wasn't a good week for Jason Shoaf or Gary Farmer.

Just when we thought it was safe to watch the morning news shows without first taking a blood-pressure pill, along came Marjorie Taylor Greene. Her presence in the U.S. House of Representatives reminds us that even though Donald Trump has left the building, crazy still thrives in Washington.

She makes Matt Gaetz look like a Rhodes Scholar.

Greene is the loon who advocates for executing Democrats. She believes 9/11 was an inside job. The mass murders at Sandy Hook, Parkland, and Las Vegas? Staged. A video also shows Greene calling Parkland survivor David Hogg a coward.

In a since-deleted Facebook post, she promoted the wacko QAnon ruse that the catastrophic Camp Fire in California was triggered by a space laser to clear land for high-speed rail.

This first-term Congresswoman from Georgia’s 14th District won the Republican primary last year with 57% of the vote. She received nearly 75% of the vote in the General Election after her Democratic opponent “unofficially withdrew.”

She pushes the lie that the presidential election was stolen and filed articles of impeachment against Joe Biden.

Greene’s mere presence in the People’s House lowers the combined I.Q. of the House by 20 points. Normally, we’d just laugh and shake our heads and maybe find something humorous in the fact that she has a degree from the University of Georgia. She clearly is a few peaches short of a bushel basket.

However, the scariest part is how many people believe and unabashedly support her with body, mind, and bank account.

Georgia Public Broadcasting reported on the generosity to the cause of crazy by the Howalt family, owners of the Textile Rubber & Chemical Co. in Dalton, Ga. That is a multinational company based in Greene’s district.

“We are not re-thinking our support of [Greene] one bit. If anything, we’ll find a legal way to increase it,” Frederick “Chip” Howalt said.

They’re out there, folks.

Oh, and Congresswoman Greene?

She received an appointment to the House education committee.

Think about that for a second. She believes that the murder of 20 elementary school students and six teachers at Sandy Hook was a “false flag” (her words. The slaughter of 14 students and three students at Parkland, same thing.


OK, on with the weekly game of Winners and Losers.


Honorable mention: Jimmy Patronis. Florida’s CFO took a lot of ribbing for suggesting the 2021 (maybe) Summer Olympics should move from Tokyo to Florida. The idea drew considerable derision and, honestly, moving the Games at this late date would be a logistical nightmare.

But, the Washington Post reported that Japan’s leaders face considerable pressure to cancel the Games because of the pandemic.

So, why not take a shot and move to the head of the line, just in case.

“As Japan’s leaders quietly work behind the scenes to ditch the sporting event, we’ll continue beating the drum for Florida,” Patronis said in a news release. “With the Super Bowl coming to Tampa Bay in the next few weeks, Florida will put on full display its ability to safely and successfully host global events.”



Look at it this way, though. A year ago, would anyone believe Tom Brady would lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the Super Bowl?

Almost (but not quite) biggest winner: Lauren Book and Jackie Toledo. These two lawmakers deserve applause for filing legislation in the House and Senate to combat human trafficking.

“Human traffickers have no regard for human life, they think they can get away with it because our system is broken,” Toledo said. “I’m happy to say that we are here to change that.”

Toledo’s bill would also allow victims to file for expungement of crimes committed while they were trafficked.

“Imagine being on the streets as a young teenager, and the only way you can survive is to steal food from a convenience store,” she said. “Fast-forward, and you’re trying to get your life back on track, get a degree, or buy a home, and the only thing left on your record is a charge for robbery — you can’t move on with your life.”

Book wants to increase convictions for traffickers while providing extra support for victims.

“Florida is a hotbed for human trafficking, but despite being the third highest trafficking destination in the country – with half of all victims being children – our conviction rate for these crimes is woefully low,” Book said.

“To stop traffickers in their tracks, we must give prosecutors the tools they need to bring these predators to justice – and that’s exactly what this bill aims to do.”

The biggest winner: Public education. The pandemic has lawmakers searching the couch cushions for extra nickels, but don’t tell that to Gov. Ron DeSantis. His proposed budget is $4.3 billion larger than the current budget he approved in June.

Education got $550 million – an increase of $50 million – to continue raising the minimum K-12 teacher salary to $47,500.

The K-12 per-student funding increases to $8,019, or $233 more per student. It also includes $110 million for mental health programs in Florida’s schools, an increase of $10 million over current year funding.

The budget also holds the line on college tuition. Some lawmakers had talked about raising tuition to combat budget pressures, but DeSantis said no.

“It is imperative for students and families to not face any additional burdens during these times,” he said.


Dishonorable mention: Rick Scott. The Florida U.S. Senator is miffed. He complained the other day that President Joe Biden hasn’t called him yet.

“He’s not called me to say ‘Oh, how can I be helpful in the things that are important to your state,’” Scott said on the Fox News Rundown podcast released Thursday morning.

“He doesn’t care one iota. He just has this radical left agenda he’s fulfilling, but it’s not good for American families.”

This is the same Rick Scott who perpetrated the myth of a stolen election. He voted against certifying Biden’s Pennsylvania electors because, oh, who cares what his reasoning was. The whole “election fraud” move was fake news at its fakeist.

That led to a stinging rebuke by the Tampa Bay Times editorial board – not that Scott would care.

The Times called Scott’s Pennsylvania vote “a craven, self-serving exercise by Republican extremists. Coming only hours after an armed, pro-Trump mob stormed and ransacked the Capitol, it showed how far out of whack Scott is with mainstream America and its democratic ideals.”

But hey, while fighting the pandemic and undoing many of the disastrous Trump moves of the last four years, Biden should prioritize a chat with Scott.

Almost (but not quite) biggest loser: Jason Shoaf. The Republican state Rep. from Port St. Joe announced he tested positive for COVID-19.

That’s bad.

What’s worse is that Democrat state Rep. Loranne Ausley believes Shoaf may have passed the virus on to her.

She told the Tallahassee Democrat that, “There’s no way to know with absolute certainty. However, I was at two delegation meetings Friday night, in enclosed rooms with a member of my delegation who was not wearing a mask.”

Shoaf told Florida Politics in a text message, “I’m not interested in exchanging guesses or allegations with her. I hope she heals quickly.”

He also said he does not have severe symptoms.

Let’s go over this one more time.

Wear. A. Damn. MASK!

Biggest loser: Gary Farmer. It’s tough enough being the Senate Democratic Leader in a town controlled by Republicans.

And it’s especially tough when the Leader’s election fumbles left Democrats even more weakened in the Senate when they believed they would pick up seats.

It gets worse when you contract the virus and have to miss critical planning meetings for the upcoming Session because you are in quarantine.

But it’s downright pathetic that Farmer is in this situation because a woman he brought to the Senate Office Building in violation of chamber rules tested positive.

Oh, the committee meeting he missed because of that rules violation?

The Senate Health Policy Committee.

You can’t make this up. It’s so, oh … what’s the word?


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.


  • Tom

    January 31, 2021 at 2:16 pm

    Rick Scott thinks President Biden should call him? Because what, he’s a really important guy with lots to offer this administration, such as his unyielding fealty to Donald Trump? Yeah, that’s super helpful to the new President. Rick Scott is delusional.

  • Dan Lanske

    January 31, 2021 at 6:47 pm

    You should want the President to call our Senator. Senator Scott want to do things that will benefit our state. What happened to unity? Oh yeah, forgot, more lies from the Democrats.

  • Tjb

    January 31, 2021 at 7:29 pm

    Scott was not promoting unity with his frivolous attacks on Biden on a major cable channel.

    I am sure talking to Scott is not a high priority for Biden in the first weeks durning the Covid 19 crisis. Covid support for Floridians is beneficial to our state. Finally, I have not heard Scott denounce Marjorie Taylor Greene’s statement calling the Stoneman Douglas 17 murders in Parkland as a hoax. Has Scott call her to condemn her hoax statement?

  • Derek W. Logue of

    February 1, 2021 at 5:33 pm

    Does the staff at this site ever get chapped lips from kissing Lauren Book’s @$$ so much?

    Lauren Book is the female Donald Trump.

    By the way, she also lost another bogus attempt at silencing me, as the Florida Supreme Court declined to hear her case after she lost to me in the Court of Appeals twice. But this site wont admit they were wrong about me.

Comments are closed.


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