Last Call for 2.16.21 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

A digest of the day's politics and policy while the bartender refreshes your drink.

Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.

First Shot

In what could be a 2022 preview, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried released a video Tuesday that took a direct shot at Gov. Ron DeSantis.

In the minute-long video, posted to Twitter, Fried casts DeSantis as oblivious to the struggles of everyday Floridians.

“You won’t hear this from Gov. DeSantis, but you need to hear it. This pandemic has been painful. While he lashes out at everyone else like he’s the victim, we all know who the real victims are: every Floridian who has lost a loved one, lost a job, lost a way of life,” Fried said.

The video didn’t include an announcement of her future plans but combined with a fundraising push, it makes a gubernatorial bid seem like an inevitability.

That’s how The Republican Governor’s Association took it, at least.

The organization responded, blasting the video for “inaccuracies and empty platitudes” and praising DeSantis’ leadership — and launching a campaign to raise $500,000 to stamp out Fried’s campaign before it starts.

While the RGA handles defense, DeSantis’ campaign is made its own fundraising pitch Tuesday by touting his efforts to “crackdown on Big Tech” and pass E-Verify legislation.


Michael Williams has joined the Department of Children and Families as a senior management analyst supervisor.

In his new role, Williams will be leading the team administering the Emergency Rental Assistance Program being run through DCF.

Williams previously worked as the director of the Florida Prosperity Initiative, which aims to cut the number of Florida children living in poverty by half over the next decade.

He was also the communications director for House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, as well as a managing director at CoreMessage PR.

Throughout his career, Williams has worked to improve the lives of children. After graduating from Florida State University with a degree in communications, the Tallahassee native spent 3 years as a missionary with N.E.T. Ministries, leading retreats for middle- and high school-aged youth around the country.

Williams joins DCF during a transition — Chad Poppell recently announced he would resign as DCF Secretary effective Feb. 19. Gov. DeSantis has since appointed Shevaun Harris to succeed him.

Coronavirus Numbers

Positive cases:

— 1,803,893 FL residents (+6,165 since Monday)

— 33,392 Non-FL residents (+132 since Monday)


— 14,448 Travel related

— 687,249 Contact with a confirmed case

— 19,719 Both

— 1,082,477 Under investigation


— 76,525 in FL


— 29,659 in FL


— 3,566,600 Doses administered

— 2,430,637 Total people vaccinated

— 1,294,674 First dose

— 1,135,963 Series completed (+32,665 since Monday)

Evening Reads

Nikki Fried blasts Ron DeSantis for ‘blind allegiance to an insurrectionist’” via Janelle Irwin of Florida Politics

COVID wars launch Ron DeSantis into GOP ‘top tier,’via Marc Caputo of POLITICO

What if  Andrew Gillum won? Florida GOP eyes DeSantis’ emergency powers” via Gary Fineout of POLITICO Florida

Storm delays COVID-19 vaccine delivery” via Christine Sexton of The News Service of Florida

Everglades Foundation offers nod to Wilton Simpson’s push for more restoration work north of Lake O” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

Abortion clinics are health care providers, Florida liability bill says” via Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times

Bills target social media platforms that support child sexual exploitation” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

Alcohol ‘to go’ proposal motors ahead” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

No deadline set to complete long-delayed medical marijuana tracking system” via Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO Florida

The battle over redistricting — and control of Congress — will be fought in Central Florida” via Steven Lemongello, Gray Rohrer and Adelaide Chen of the Orlando Sentinel

Florida’s leaders must fight for the ‘For the People Act’” via Anna Eskamani for Florida Politics

Florida passes 29,000 resident coronavirus deaths with 220 new fatalities” via Richard Tribou of the Orlando Sentinel

Class of COVID-19: The pandemic and public higher education” via Jessica Bakeman and Tom Hudson of WLRN

Florida tourism numbers lowest since 2010” via The News Service of Florida

Quote of the Day

“I’m not sure if I should start running for the hills, or running for a dispensary to relieve my anxiety around so much of what’s been presented.” — Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, responding to a presentation condemning medical cannabis.

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Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Jason Delgado, Renzo Downey, Daniel Figueroa, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Kelly Hayes, Joe Henderson, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Andrew Wilson, Mike Wright, and Tristan Wood.

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