Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 6.3.21

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

Good Thursday morning.

A top-of-Sunburn birthday shoutout to my brother from another mother, Reggie Cardozo. Florida and D.C. politics know Reggie as a former Obama White House staffer and a top-flight political strategist, but I know him as a dedicated husband to Stephanie, father to Madison, Fallon, and Sutton James, and a trusted friend to many. He’s also my boat buddy, a fellow connoisseur of Bloody Marys and dirty martinis, and just funny as hell.

Happy birthday, brother.


Now, let me give you updates about two good dudes.

Converge Government Affairs has added top Jacksonville lobbyist Deno Hicks as a partner in the firm.

Hicks will lead the firm’s Jacksonville office as a managing partner, overseeing the firm’s growth and client service across Northeast Florida.

Hicks comes to Converge from government affairs firm River North Strategies, where he represented a diverse mix of clients, including real estate developers, transportation and maritime companies, technology companies, and government procurement clients.

Deno Hicks’ new gig is with Converge Government Affairs, leading its Jacksonville office. 

He brings with him nearly two decades of experience in government advocacy and advising in the region. He also has deep roots in state and local political affairs.

“Deno’s reputation, relationships, and deep knowledge of the Greater Jacksonville market are as good as they get. We were seeking a partner who is an A-player in the region and who has the ambition to build a top-tier presence for our firm. Deno will deliver tremendous value to our firm’s clients,” said Converge Chairman Jonathan Kilman.

Hicks added, “I could not be more excited about joining the team at Converge. Their innovative approach to advocacy for clients goes beyond just lobbying — they provide 360-degree problem-solving. I look forward to building on the firm’s incredible brand and capabilities for clients.”

Hicks has gained deep knowledge of Florida and Jacksonville government and politics through service in a wide variety of appointed government and political posts. He was also elected Republican State Committeeman in Duval County and Chairman of Congressional District 4, where he served a four-year term.

Converge Government Affairs provides state, local, and multistate government affairs services, communications services, and digital services to private and public sector clients.


Trent Phillips has joined Consensus Communications, where he will help develop client strategy and communications.

Phillips comes to the firm from the Florida Senate Majority Office, where he served as a Legislative Analyst, advising members of the Republican caucus on policy, strategy, and communications. In 2018, he served as Deputy State Director with the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, where he managed political operations in battleground districts. 

“Trent brings a unique blend of communications, legislative and political experience to our team,” said Ryan Houck, a partner with Consensus. “His work for the Senate Majority Office and noted GOP lawmakers will help our clients shape message, develop content, and pair new tactics with time-tested strategies.”

Phillips joins Consensus on the heels of the firm’s hardware-heavy awards season, which included five Pollies, four Reed Awards and 11 Tellies.

“No one does creative or communications better than Consensus,” said Phillips, who joins the firm as a Director. “I’m excited to join this exceptional team, work in this collaborative climate, and create communications that help our clients succeed.”

Before joining Consensus, Trent also served as Legislative Assistant to Sen. Jeff Brandes and Rep. James Grant, helping advance policy proposals that embraced innovation and technology.


@DLeonhardt: When the CDC loosened its mask guidelines three weeks ago, many people were anxious: Would it lead unvaccinated people to take off their masks and cause a surge of new cases? So far, the answer is no. Cases keep falling. And vaccinations of 16+ have stopped falling.

@CWarzel: RIP (Donald) Trump‘s blog 5/4/21 — 6/2/21

Tweet, tweet:

@AnnaforFlorida: Yesterday, @GovRonDeSantis signed into law a bill attacking trans-kids. Now on the 2nd day of #Pride month, he VETOES two #LGBTQ programs, one for homeless youth and the other for Pulse survivors’ mental health. He’s a homophobic & transphobic man who should not be in office.

@RepDottieJoseph: What is wrong with our AG? So let me get this straight: a guy on death row wants a DNA test, the attorneys on both sides prosecuting and defending the case agree; so why exactly is this woman involved and blocking a reasonable request?

Tweet, tweet:

@AP_Planner: A month away: World UFO Day (2 Jul)


‘Loki’ premieres on Disney+ — 6; Father’s Day — 17; Microsoft reveals major Windows update — 21; F9 premieres in the U.S. — 22; ‘Tax Freedom Holiday’ begins — 28; Fourth of July — 31; ‘Black Widow’ rescheduled premiere — 36; MLB All-Star Game — 40; new start date for 2021 Olympics — 50; second season of ‘Ted Lasso’ premieres on Apple+ — 54; the NBA Draft — 60; ‘Jungle Cruise’ premieres — 62; ‘The Suicide Squad’ premieres — 68; St. Petersburg Primary Election — 82; Disney’s ‘Shang Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings’ premieres — 92; NFL regular season begins — 98; Broadway’s full-capacity reopening — 103; 2022 Legislative Session interim committee meetings begin — 109; ‘The Many Saints of Newark’ premieres (rescheduled) — 113; ‘Dune’ premieres — 120; MLB regular season ends — 122; ‘No Time to Die’ premieres (rescheduled) — 127; World Series Game 1 — 145; Florida’s 20th Congressional District primary — 152; St. Petersburg Municipal Elections — 152; Disney’s ‘Eternals’ premieres — 155; ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ rescheduled premiere — 169; San Diego Comic-Con begins — 176; Steven Spielberg’s ‘West Side Story’ premieres — 190; ‘Spider-Man Far From Home’ sequel premieres — 197; NFL season ends — 220; 2022 Legislative Session starts — 222; Florida’s 20th Congressional District election — 222; NFL playoffs begin — 226; Super Bowl LVI — 255; ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 295; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 337; “Black Panther 2” premieres — 400; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 491; “Captain Marvel 2” premieres — 526.


Ron DeSantis signs $101.5 billion state budget, helped by federal cash” via John Kennedy of the Tallahassee Democrat — The spending plan is by far the largest in state history — 10% bigger than the current budget — propped up with billions in federal aid, much of it opposed by Republicans in Congress. Even though the federal cash staved off what had been projected to be a dire budget year, DeSantis credited much of the state’s financial solvency to his own decision-making and his opposition to broader lockdowns. Every Republican in the U.S. House and Senate voted against the American Rescue Plan, but Florida’s Legislature found ample ways to spend the state’s share. “I know it pains Gov. DeSantis to admit it, but President (Joe) Biden saved the day by providing billions of dollars … and allow us to do things like provide teacher bonuses,” said Rep. Fentrice Driskell.

Ron DeSantis signs another record-breaking state budget, with an assist from the feds.

My favorite budget decision — Florida’s judicial branch and Pinellas County legislators scored a victory in securing $50 million in funding for a new home for the Second District Court of Appeals. A great show of leadership by the Pinellas Delegation led by Speaker Sprowls and Sen. Jeff Brandes, the new DCA will continue to raise the profile of downtown St Petersburg. The courthouse will deservedly be named for Bernie McCabe, who served the people of Florida for nearly three decades as the top prosecutor for Pinellas and Pasco Counties and made an immense difference in both counties during his tenure. The St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership was an early and pivotal advocate for locating the courthouse in downtown St. Pete. The Courthouse was identified as one of the top funding priorities for the judiciary, who needed a new home for the 2nd District Court of Appeals after the current space in Lakeland became unusable.


DeSantis vetoes $1B emergency fund due to ‘federal guidance’” via Haley Brown of Florida Politics — DeSantis is blaming the federal government for his biggest veto, a $1 billion emergency fund that was his idea. At the signing of the $101.5 billion budget Wednesday, DeSantis said the fund’s creation, which was to be paid for using federal funds from the American Rescue Plan (ARP), would have caused a “fight” with the federal government. “We were going to run into the risk of having the feds come after us for it,” DeSantis said. While nothing in the ARP statute directly prohibits the fund, DeSantis said “subsequent administrative guidance” from the federal government indicated the emergency fund, the creation of which was his idea, was something they would “fight over.”

With a megabudget comes a lot of vetoes.

‘The bill’s going to come due’: DeSantis expects rising unemployment, inflation” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Loose monetary policy and ample stimulus spending from the federal government allowed DeSantis to sign the biggest budget in state history, but he expects dire consequences down the road nationally. “The bill’s going to come due somehow.” After signing the $101.5 billion budget, DeSantis expressed concerns about deficit spending and the larger macroeconomic consequences, which a Governor can’t really control. “One of the things I’m concerned about if you look at what’s going on with the overall macroeconomy across the country, is inflation,” DeSantis said. However, the Governor said there wasn’t much he could do.

Education projects get hit with vetoes” via News Service of Florida — Among the education vetoes was a $600,000 proposal to create a “Music Education For All” program in partnership with the Florida Orchestra to provide music education through online streaming video to public schools and anyone “beyond the confines of the concert hall.” A $1 million proposal to create a coding and math instruction program for students of color, called “Coding In Color,” was rejected. DeSantis also vetoed $100,000 for a program called “Tech Sassy Girlz.” House Education and Employment Chairman Chris Latvala had a proposal vetoed to create a scholarship program for recent high school graduates from “rural, low-income, and disadvantaged communities” to intern in Congress.

Gov nixes Southwest Florida projects, but will environmental trust bring some back?” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Several Southwest Florida projects fell to DeSantis’ veto pen. But there’s still hope state grants can fill in those losses, lawmakers believe. Sarasota County saw quite a few water-related projects slashed. The most notable included $750,000 for a water booster station in Venice and $500,000 for the Dona Bay Watershed Restoration Project’s third phase. But Sen. Joe Gruters said the vetoes were “somewhat expected.” He references a new structuring of trust funds this year that should make available significant environmental funding.

DeSantis funds last year’s judgeships, approves five more” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — DeSantis approved funding for 10 judgeships and authorized five new ones. The Legislature approved 10 new judgeships last year, but the money that would have funded them was among the $1 billion in vetoes made necessary by the early pandemic budget crunch. This year, funding earmarked to pay for them survived DeSantis’ veto pen. That set of judgeships are as follows: one in the 1st Judicial Circuit, two in the 9th Judicial Circuit, one in the 14th Judicial Circuit, four in Hillsborough County Court, one in Orange County Court, and one in Lee County court. In December, the Florida Supreme Court reaffirmed the need for the positions and asked for three more judgeships.

New police radio system survives veto pen” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — The budget will send $165 million in nonrecurring funding this year to radio company L3Harris to upgrade the Statewide Law Enforcement Radio System. It also authorizes $31.5 million a year in funding for the system for the next 15 years, $19 million will head to the Melbourne-based company to oversee the system, and $12.5 million will pay to leads radio towers. 

DeSantis OKs $37 million for cybersecurity” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — DeSantis approved more than $37 million in the state budget to fortify Florida’s defenses against cybersecurity threats. The money will be used to enhance cybersecurity at various state agencies and protect Floridians from “cyber threats that can compromise critical state resources and sensitive information.” The new funding comes as private, and public entities work to prevent infamous cybersecurity breaches such as the ones that stunned Twitter in 2020 and the shutdown of a major fuel pipeline in May, creating a panic that led to fuel shortages in north Florida and elsewhere. In October of 2020, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation fell victim to “malicious activity” orchestrated against the department’s data and systems.

DeSantis approves National Guard expansion in new budget” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — DeSantis signed millions into the state budget on Wednesday to construct two new National Guard armories and recruit hundreds of new troops. In all, DeSantis OK’d $50 million to enlist roughly 450 additional service members and build new armories in Immokalee and Zephyrhills. “As Florida’s population continues to grow and emergency response needs become more frequent, it is essential to continue to grow the number of service members available for response,” explained the Governor’s budget highlight sheet. The increased funding comes after the Florida National Guard (FLNG) tested the limits of its operational capacity last year.

—”State budget includes $9.5M for free clinics” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics 

DeSantis vetoes $1.5M appropriation to TBARTA” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — DeSantis has slashed the $1.5 million appropriation to the Tampa Bay Regional Transit Authority as part of his $1.5 billion veto list released Wednesday. The cut is the latest development for the agency, which was a disputed topic among Tampa Bay lawmakers in the 2021 Legislative Session. The Governor vetoed a similar appropriation for the agency was vetoed last year, too. The $1.5 million appropriation request (HB 2037, SF 2127), filed by Tampa Bay Republicans Sen. Jim Boyd and Rep. Jackie Toledo, was approved in the final Legislative budget proposal. The appropriation would have provided additional funds to the agency, which oversees regional transportation projects across the area.

A veto of Jim Boyd’s transit appropriation could be the death knell for TBARTA. Image via Colin Hackley.

—“Maybe it’s time to pull the plug on TBARTA” via Joe Henderson of Florida Politics

—“Here are the Tampa Bay area programs DeSantis just vetoed” via Kirby Wilson, Barbara Behrendt and C.T. Bowen of the Tampa Bay Times

DeSantis vetoes $2.7M for South Florida projects. Dozens of local items go unscathed.” via Ana Ceballos of the Miami Herald — DeSantis vetoed $2.7 million that would have supported 14 South Florida projects, including a Miami-Dade mosquito control project, a pedestrian bridge in Sunny Isles Beach, and a youth crime prevention program in West Park. The Governor did not explain why he cut state funding from those projects. His office also did not immediately respond to requests for comment. That same budget still includes more than $80 million for dozens of other South Florida local projects, including funding for a new Opa-locka police station, the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis and Broward County cold case solving.

—”Governor chops $4.2 million from Broward County funding as he signs 2021-22 budget” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

—”Miami-Dade County loses $3M in funding after DeSantis makes final vetoes” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

—”DeSantis vetoes $3M for stormwater runoff improvements in Palm Beach County” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics

Tallahassee’s Temple Israel praises security upgrades in budget, protecting freedom of religion” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — A tragic truth is that we live in an era in which brutal and targeted attacks on Jewish places of worship, education, culture, and business are seemingly ticking up. This trend was made painfully clear as recently as last week when the Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg was vandalized with the spray-painting of a nauseating swastika and the words “Jews are Guilty.” That’s why it’s heartening to know that the mammoth state budget … includes a significant $500,000 appropriation to improve total security at Tallahassee’s 80-year-old Temple Israel.

—“DeSantis vetoes Leon County student training money, funds Temple Israel security” via Christopher Cann of the Tallahassee Democrat

—“DeSantis vetoes $2 million in NE Florida spending” via Travis Gibson of

DeSantis criticized for LGBTQ vetoes” via Christine Sexton of News Service of Florida — DeSantis slashed $900,000 in funding for programs that serve LGBTQ people in Central Florida, including a program that provides mental health services to survivors and family members of victims of the Pulse nightclub mass shooting. DeSantis’s vetoes came a day after he signed a controversial measure that bans transgender females from participating on girls’ and women’s high school and college sports teams. The vetoes also came shortly before the fifth anniversary of the June 12, 2016, mass shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, that left 49 people dead. “Timing matters. What message are LGBT people meant to receive from Gov. DeSantis other than that this is an insult to them?” said state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, an Orlando Democrat who is gay.

—“Mental health group praises DeSantis for funding behavioral health” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics

DeSantis signs affordable housing, Lawton Chiles bills” via News Service of Florida — DeSantis’ office announced bill signings Wednesday evening without comment. One of the bills (SB 2512) will change the way the state divvies up more than $400 million in documentary-stamp tax dollars that in the past have been targeted toward what is known as the Sadowski Trust Fund for affordable housing. The bill will direct $200 million to affordable housing, with the remaining money split between sewage-treatment projects and efforts to combat sea-level rise. He also signed a bill (HB 5011) to terminate an endowment fund named after former Gov. Lawton Chiles. The fund included proceeds from a landmark legal settlement between the state and tobacco companies. The fund was aimed at providing perpetual support for health care programs and biomedical research.

What Kamia Brown is reading — “DeSantis approves Medicaid extension for new moms” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — DeSantis has signed a bill extending Medicaid coverage to pregnant women until one year after they deliver their babies. The measure (SB 2518) was a priority of House Speaker Chris Sprowls that received early bipartisan praise across both chambers during the recent Legislative Session. DeSantis signed the measure Wednesday, the same day he signed a series of budget bills, including the $101.5 billion budget for the coming fiscal year. DeSantis credited the Legislature with taking the lead on the postpartum health care effort. Without the extension, federal rules only guarantee mothers two months of insurance. Extending postpartum care will be a $240 million endeavor. However, Florida is only on the hook for $89 million of that bill. The rest will come from federal Medicaid matching dollars.

DeSantis OKs bill moving forward with reservoir construction north of Lake Okeechobee” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — DeSantis has signed legislation to advance construction of the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Restoration Project (LOWRP) north of Lake Okeechobee. DeSantis signed the legislation just one day after the bill hit his desk. Senate President Wilton Simpson prioritized the bill (SB 2516) last Session. The Legislature tacked on the measure as a conforming bill linked to the larger budget bill (SB 2500). The state will now set aside $50 million annually for the project using money in the Land Acquisition Trust Fund. The bill also directs the South Florida Water Management District to work with the Army Corps to make progress on LOWRP. DeSantis has prioritized reservoir projects around Lake O and the Everglades since taking office in 2019.

Nice profilePolk native Fentrice Driskell prepares to lead Florida House Democratic Caucus” via Gary White of The Lakeland Ledger — State Rep. Driskell first debated in the Florida House chamber when she was 17 and a student at Lake Gibson High School in Lakeland. Driskell went to Tallahassee the summer before her senior year to participate in Florida Girls State, an educational program for selected rising seniors that simulates the functions of state government. During the weeklong session, Driskell met Florida’s Governor, the late Lawton Chiles, a Lakeland native. In an indication of what lay ahead, fellow participants elected Driskell Governor of the student delegation. Twenty-five years later, Driskell is serving in her second term as the Democratic representative for District 63, which covers part of Tampa and northern Hillsborough County.

Fentrice Driskell is preparing to lead the House Democrats.
Image via Florida House.

Happening today — Sen. Joe Gruters and Reps. Will Robinson, Fiona McFarland, Tommy Gregory and James Buchanan will hold a 2021 Legislative Session wrap-up, hosted by the Sarasota Tiger Bay Club, noon, Michael’s on East, 1212 East Ave. South, Sarasota.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Jim Horne, Tara Reid-Cherry, Jared Willis, Strategos Public Affairs: MetaMetrics

Toni Large, Large Strategies: Sunfest Herbs

Mary Kim McDougal, GrayRobinson: Beacon College

G.A. Reiston III, Vox Populi Communications: Guardian RFID

— 2022 —

DeSantis fundraises off transgender athlete ban” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — The Friends of Ron DeSantis political committee issued a red-meat appeal entitled “DeSantis stands strong against woke corporations.” Similar two-fisted rhetoric filled out the body of the email. “Gov. DeSantis is doing what is right and has continued to prove that he won’t be cowed by corporate and media pressure. Yet again, DeSantis has established he will hold the line. He will NEVER allow woke corporations to dictate the policies in Florida — not now, not ever,” asserts the appeal for funds. The fundraising appeal referred specifically to an appearance on Fox News Tuesday night, in which DeSantis delineated his beef with the NCAA, notably opposed to banning trans athletes from competition.

—“Activists rally for transgender rights after DeSantis signs trans sports ban” via Katie Rice of the Orlando Sentinel

‘He can’t tell the truth’: Charlie Crist blasts DeSantis’ budget signing” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Crist is blasting DeSantis’ budget signing, which sealed a $101.5 billion state budget for the coming fiscal year. The Congressman is joining other state Democrats in scrutinizing his opponent’s silence on the aid brought by Biden’s American Rescue Plan incorporated into the state budget. “Here’s a fact check for Gov. DeSantis: the funding that made this budget possible was delivered by the American Rescue Plan I fought for in Congress alongside President Joe Biden,” Crist said in a statement. A Biden priority, the Governor lamented the deal since its inception. The Governor instead credited lawmakers with spending conservatively and responsibly when signing the budget. He also cited resisting lockdowns and prioritizing vaccinations to the 65 and older population with keeping the state’s economy afloat.

Charlie Crist reminds Ron DeSantis that the budget wouldn’t happen without federal relief funds.

Crist raises $1.35 million in first month of campaign” via Max Greenwood of The Hill — Crist raised more than $1.3 million in the first month of his bid for Florida governor, his campaign said Wednesday. Combined with a $185,000 transfer from his congressional campaign account, Crist pulled in more than $1.5 million over the past month, his campaign said. The announcement comes a day after Nikki Fried jumped into the race for Florida governor, giving Crist a top-tier primary challenger and marking the beginning of a potentially long and expensive fight for the Democratic nomination. The eventual nominee will go on to face DeSantis in the 2022 general election.

DeSantis slams Nikki Fried, saying she ‘has done nothing’ in office” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — DeSantis used an official budget signing on Wednesday to rail against Fried in his quest for reelection next year. “Nikki Fried has done nothing in office; she does nothing,” DeSantis said when asked about Fried at the event in New Smyrna Beach. DeSantis also echoed the state Republican Party’s anti-Fried slogan that she is a “lockdown lobbyist.” Since his own monthlong shutdown in April 2020, DeSantis has made opposition to anti-COVID-19 measures the cornerstone of his reelection campaign, including overruling local mask mandates.

Fried amended financial disclosure ahead of campaign announcement” via Steve Stewart of Tallahassee Reports — For the second time in less than two years, Fried has amended her 2018 financial disclosure form filed with the Florida Commission on Ethics. The latest amendment, filed on May 28, 2021, comes just days before she officially announced she would be running for Governor. The amendment relates to her gross income in part D of the form. Fried changed the amount of income she received from Igniting Florida to $351,480. Initially, Fried’s 2018 form 6 had no reference to Igniting Florida. Then Fried filed an amendment on January 30, 2020, adding Igniting Florida as a source of $72,000 in 2018 income. Fried also listed Igniting Florida as a consulting business with her as the sole owner.

Fried gives silent treatment to Rebekah Jones “endorsement” and dubious campaign claim” via Jordan Kirkland of The Capitolist — Jones, a former Florida Department of Health (DOH) employee who was fired for repeatedly violating the agency’s policy about communicating with the media, announced on Twitter she was “endorsing” Fried for governor in 2022. In a subsequent Tweet, Jones implied she was actively campaigning with Fried. It’s not clear what, if anything, Fried intends to do with the endorsement. Max Flugrath, a spokesman for Fried’s campaign, did not respond to questions seeking comment on the matter. The campaign declined to confirm Jones’ claims and also declined to confirm Fried had actively sought support from Jones.

Assignment editorsFried attends the “Unite Against Hate” community rally to show solidarity with the Florida Holocaust Museum, 6 p.m., 55 5th Street South, St. Petersburg. For media questions, contact the Florida Holocaust Museum at (727) 820-0100.

To beat Marco Rubio, Val Deming’s inner circle says she must ‘double down’ on Latinos, rebut socialism” via Adrian Carrasquillo of Newsweek — The time a Democrat lost a Florida Senate race was in 2018 when Rick Scott beat former Sen. Bill Nelson, who was doomed by tepid Latino support and the belief within the party that he took Hispanics for granted. Rep. Demings will have to avoid that mistake, and other political land mines with Latinos, after announcing that she is “seriously considering” running against incumbent Sen. Rubio in a state that has only become more unfriendly terrain for Democrats since then.

Kanika Tomalin mulls CD 13 bid after Rick Kriseman passes” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — The race for Florida’s 13th Congressional District could soon draw another Democrat. St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin is mulling a run. Tomalin’s decision is by no means final, but she is giving the run a close look after her boss, Mayor Rick Kriseman, announced Tuesday he would not run for the office. Before that, she had been supportive of his potential bid and was surprised when he announced he was passing on the opportunity. The news got her, and her family thinking. As someone with an eye for public service, the move would fit Tomalin well, though it would challenge her desire demonstrated so far in public office to stay largely out of the limelight.

Lori Hershey launches campaign in HD 16” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — The race to succeed Rep. Jason Fischer in Jacksonville’s House District 16 is officially on, with a second Republican entering the Primary Wednesday. Hershey, who represents much of the Duval County School Board district, is in the race officially, filing paperwork with the state to open a campaign account. “I want to take my record of common-sense conservative leadership to Tallahassee to help Gov. Ron DeSantis keep moving Florida forward,” Hershey said in a media release Wednesday. Hershey told us in a call she was a supporter of DeSantis from the 2018 campaign and is a “big fan” of the Governor and what he’s done to keep schools open and protect school choice. She has been elected twice to the School Board, most recently in 2020 when she defeated two challengers.

Happening tonight:


DeSantis says conservatives must gain ground, not just lose it more slowly” via Elle Reynolds of The Federalist — DeSantis challenged the right to take a proactive stance on cultural issues, not just a defensive one. “D.C. Republicans … they’re like lovable losers,” he said. “They let the corporate media define the narrative, and it’s like trying to fight your way out of a wet paper bag. You have to reject these narratives.” As someone many Republicans have looked to for leadership in the absence of national power, DeSantis emphasized the gravity of cultural threats the country is facing, and the necessity of engaging them. “As much as I’m a fiscal conservative, some of these battles with what the left is doing are effectively cultural Marxism,” he said. DeSantis encouraged (Americans) to fight back.

DeSantis, Ashley Moody seek dismissal of protest law challenge” via The News Service of Florida — DeSantis and Moody are asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit challenging a controversial new law aimed at cracking down on violent protests. DeSantis and Moody filed motions Tuesday in federal court in Orlando seeking dismissal of the lawsuit filed last month by plaintiffs including the Lawyers Matter Task Force, and Black Lives Matter Tampa. It is one of two lawsuits challenging the law’s constitutionality (HB 1), which was one of the most heavily debated issues of the 2021 legislative session. DeSantis and Moody contend they are not proper defendants and that the plaintiffs do not have legal standing, along with arguing against the underlying allegations in the lawsuit.

Laurel Lee seeks to scuttle elections lawsuit” via The News Service of Florida — Lee, Florida’s Secretary of State, is asking a federal judge to toss out a challenge to a controversial new elections law that includes additional restrictions on voting by mail. Lee last week filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed in May by the Florida State Conference of the NAACP, Disability Rights Florida and Common Cause, one of three challenges to the elections law, which has drawn national attention. The motion describes the lawsuit as a “shotgun” complaint that does not properly spell out allegations and contends that Lee should not be a defendant. Unlike the other two challenges, Lee is the only defendant in the lawsuit filed by the NAACP, Disability Rights Florida and Common Cause.

Laurel Lee hopes an elections lawsuit will simply go away.

Study to define hazardous walking conditions for Florida kids to get funding after all” via Madison Arnold of the Pensacola News Journal — The research arm of the Legislature will study what exactly creates hazardous walking conditions for children across the state after a bill requiring a similar study failed to pass in the latest session. State Rep. Michelle Salzman advocated for the study to be funded after the bill she sponsored, House Bill 229, passed two House subcommittees but failed to be heard by the whole House and Senate. Salzman told the News Journal on Tuesday that the speaker’s office has agreed to fund the study, which is scheduled to be complete by September 2022. Once finished, the study will determine what conditions constitute a hazardous walkway for children of all ages.

You can finally use SunPass to pay tolls out of state. But you’ll need a new transponder.” via Wells Dusenbury of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — It took years, but drivers can now use their SunPass account to pay tolls in over a dozen states outside Florida. But it’ll cost you $15 to buy a new transponder for your windshield. SunPass was already compatible in Georgia and North Carolina, but the new SunPass Pro will allow drivers to pay tolls in 15 additional states in the eastern U.S., eliminating the need to use cash plazas or buy additional transponders, the box that communicates with the toll plaza. In addition to Florida, drivers can use SunPass Pro in Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and West Virginia.


Florida reports 1,234 new COVID-19 cases and 55 more deaths” via Cindy Krischer Goodman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — New COVID-19 cases in Florida are declining as summer approaches. Florida reported 1,234 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday and another 55 new resident deaths linked to COVID-19. The state has now reported 2,327,989 cases since the pandemic began. The seven-day average for new cases reached as high as 17,991 on Jan. 8. On Wednesday, the seven-day average was 1,692 new cases. Public health experts say the virus is under control when the COVID-19 test positivity rate is under 5%. The state reported a daily positivity rate of 3.33% on Wednesday, down from 3.89% the day before.


Daytona International Speedway to lift all COVID-19 restrictions for Coke Zero Sugar 400” via Edgar Thompson of the Orlando Sentinel — Daytona International Speedway will soon be back to its old self, allowing full capacity and the freedom to roam at the iconic track. Track officials on Wednesday lifted remaining COVID-19 restrictions for the Aug. 27-28 Coke Zero Sugar 400 weekend. The speedway decided in early May to fully open the grandstands to fans but now will allow them access to the infield and pit-road areas. A capacity crowd of 101,500 turned out for the 2020 Daytona 500. In August 2020, the Daytona Cup Series Go Bowling 235 welcomed an estimated crowd of 10,000 and the Coke Zero Sugar 400 allowed around 25,000 people to attend the regular-season finale before the NASCAR Cup playoffs.

Daytona’s Coke Zero 400 is going back to full capacity this year. Image via AP.


Actually, getting the vaccine *is* a partisan act, even if it shouldn’t be” via Philip Bump of The Washington Post — Biden renewed his calls for Americans to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. In doing so, he directly addressed a key divide on willingness to get vaccinated: partisanship. While 9 in 10 Democrats say they have either gotten a shot or will one as soon as possible, only half of Republicans said the same. In fact, a review of data on election results, vaccination rates, and case totals at the county level show that the results of the 2020 presidential election in a county are as good a predictor of the per capita change in new coronavirus cases over the past month as is the density of the vaccinated population.

Vaccination has become — like almost everything now — a highly partisan issue.

Offering beer, babysitting and barbershop outreach, the White House launches new initiatives to boost vaccinations” via Tyler Pager, Lena H. Sun and John Wagner of The Washington Post — Biden announced a raft of new private-sector initiatives on Wednesday to encourage Americans to get vaccinated, as his administration increasingly looks to outside partners to help meet its goal of 70 percent of adult Americans with at least one shot of a coronavirus vaccine by the Fourth of July. Declaring June a “national month of action,” the administration wants to incentivize Americans who are hesitant about getting vaccinated with a range of perks, including free food delivery, baseball tickets, Xboxes and chances to win cruise tickets, groceries for a year and free airline flights.

What Jon Rees is reading — “Anheuser-Busch says it will give away free beer if 70% of U.S. adults get at least partially vaccinated by July 4” via Brett Molina of USA Today — Anheuser-Busch says that if the White House reaches its goal of getting 70% of Americans at least partially vaccinated by July 4, it will give away a complimentary brew to adults over 21. People can enter to receive a free beer on the website by uploading a picture of themselves at their favorite place to grab a beer. Participants will receive a $5 virtual debit card they can use to purchase one Anheuser-Busch product. According to the contest’s rules, the giveaway starts once the CDC confirms 70% of U.S. adults have been at least partially vaccinated. It will end seven days after the CDC’s confirmation.

Immunocompromised people turn to COVID-19 vaccine booster shots” via Joe Barrett of The Wall Street Journal — Millions of people with compromised immune systems and their doctors are scrambling to figure out what to do in an evolving science project playing out in real-time. Some take a third shot to try to jar their immune systems into generating the antibodies that protect them from the virus. Others are considering modifying their immunosuppressants in consultation with their doctors in hopes another shot will be effective. And a few are jumping through bureaucratic hoops to get access to monoclonal antibodies, which could provide protection until more people in the general population are vaccinated. 46% of transplant recipients had no antibodies after two vaccination shots. Of the 54% who did develop antibodies, their levels were generally lower than people with normal immune systems.


 Stimulus checks substantially reduced hardship, study shows” via Jason DeParle of The New York Times — In offering most Americans two more rounds of stimulus checks in the past six months, totaling $2,000 a person, the federal government effectively conducted a huge experiment in safety net policy. Supporters said a quick, broad outpouring of cash would ease the economic hardships caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Skeptics called the policy wasteful and expensive. An analysis argues that the two latest rounds of aid significantly improved Americans’ ability to buy food and pay household bills and reduced anxiety and depression, with the largest benefits going to the poorest households and those with children. The analysis offers the fullest look at hardship reduction under the stimulus aid.

Florida faces dire shortages of restaurant workers: ‘They don’t think we are worth the money’” via Issac Morgan of Florida Phoenix — Restaurant workers have been fed up with low wages, resulting in a shortage of workers in that industry amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, a survey from the National Restaurant Association in mid-May found that staffing levels at restaurants are below the industry standard, “with 84% of operators saying their current staffing level is lower than it was in the absence of COVID-19.” Several restaurants and other Florida hospitality industry businesses face an extreme shortage of workers and are eager to gain more employees. The group had praised DeSantis for withdrawing from the supplementary federal unemployment assistance program set to end on June 26, which offers jobless workers in Florida an additional $300 in weekly benefits.

Florida restaurants are desperate for workers. Image via AP.

One way companies are concealing higher prices: Smaller packages” via Abha Bhattarai of The Washington Post — Consumers are paying more for a growing range of household staples in ways that don’t show up on receipts — thinner rolls, lighter bags, smaller cans — as companies look to offset rising labor and materials costs without scaring off customers. It’s a form of retail camouflage known as “shrinkflation,” and economists and consumer advocates who track packaging expect it to become more pronounced as inflation ratchets up, taking hold of such everyday items like paper towels, potato chips and diapers. “Consumers check the price every time they buy, but they don’t check the net weight,” said Edgar Dworsky, a consumer advocate and former assistant attorney general in Massachusetts.


The pandemic is getting worse, even when it seems like it’s getting better” via Ishaan Tharoor of The Washington Post — In the United States, life is returning to normal. Restaurants and bars are filling up again, vacations are being booked, and flights are selling out. That’s all for a good reason: A majority of Americans have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, and daily new infections and deaths are at their lowest levels in almost a year. But the pandemic is hardly in retreat elsewhere. The emergence of more virulent variants of the virus in countries like Brazil and India and the slowness of vaccination efforts in many places outside the West have contributed to deadly new waves.

Life is returning to normal, so the pandemic is getting better? Not quite. Image via AP.

We will forever be changed by the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s just too soon to tell how.” via Rebecca King of — Folks are grappling with what the future looks like in a time when things are returning to normal and will simultaneously never be the same again. We call it refreshing, albeit challenging. Historians call it the end of a “mass disruptive event.” The COVID-19 pandemic is most certainly, historian Gary Darden said, a mass disruptive event as well. And after nearly every “MDE,” we can see a cultural shift. Spanish flu and World War I, for example, are the reasons your bathroom is tiled. Darden believes that masks are here to stay — not for everyday use, but during flu seasons or while sick.

The awkward playdate negotiations when your kids aren’t vaccinated yet” via Alina Dizik of The Wall Street Journal — Many adults are now vaccinated and venturing out, but a vaccine for children under 12 isn’t expected to arrive until later this year at the earliest. For many families, navigating social situations is even more confusing than it was early in the pandemic. Some parents are still taking full precautions to keep youngsters safe, while others see fewer risks for their young children and are no longer interested in taking additional safety measures. The CDC recommends that unvaccinated people, including children older than 2 years old, wear masks indoors and in crowded outdoor settings. But while children can and do get sick from COVID-19, they are less likely than adults to be hospitalized or die from the virus.


Joe Biden prioritizes voting rights law as restrictions mount” via Alexandra Jaffe and Lisa Mascaro of The Associated Press — Biden used the 100th anniversary of Tulsa’s race massacre to make a plea for sweeping legislation in Congress to protect the right to vote as Republican-led governments in states pass new restrictions making it tougher to cast ballots. Biden, marking the centennial in Oklahoma, called out lawmakers in Congress — including two senators in his own party — for holding up action on voting bills. Invoking the words of the late Rep. John Lewis, Biden said the right to vote is “precious” and must be protected.

Joe Biden used the centennial of the Tulsa race massacre to call for voting rights. Image via AP.

Biden suspends drilling leases in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge” via The New York Times — The Biden administration suspended oil drilling leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, unspooling a signature achievement of the Trump presidency and delivering on a promise by Biden to protect the fragile Alaskan tundra from fossil fuel extraction. The decision sets up a process that could halt drilling in one of the largest tracts of untouched wilderness in the United States, home to migrating waterfowl, caribou and polar bears. But it also lies over as much as 11 billion barrels of oil.


Donald Trump blog page shuts down for good” via Kevin Breuninger of CNBC — Trump’s blog, a webpage where he shared statements after larger social media companies banned him from their platforms, has been permanently shut down, his spokesman said Wednesday. The page “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump” has been scrubbed from Trump’s website after going live less than a month earlier. It “will not be returning,” his senior aide Jason Miller told CNBC. “It was just auxiliary to the broader efforts we have and are working on,” Miller said via email.

Donald Trump’s blog goes ‘404 Not Found.’

Trump’s company puts D.C. hotel lease up for sale, again” via Jonathan O’Connell and Shayna Jacobs of The Washington Post — Trump’s company has again hired a broker to sell the lease to its D.C. hotel, according to two people familiar with the discussions, a second attempt to unload the property after the pandemic thwarted a previous effort. The Trump Organization previously listed the Pennsylvania Avenue hotel, in the federally owned Old Post Office Pavilion, in the fall of 2019. When COVID-19 struck, many hotels closed either completely or partially due to government shutdowns, and the company pulled the property off the market.


The organized far-right threat on Jan. 6 comes into sharper focus” via Philip Bump of The Washington Post — Rep. Louie Gohmert was more than 30 minutes into his speech at a QAnon-centered event over the weekend when he began riffing on the attack at the Capitol on Jan. 6. His comments on the meatloaf at Mar-a-Lago and the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine landed well with the conspiracy-theory-friendly crowd. So did his revision of history. “It wasn’t just right-wing extremists in there,” Gohmert said of the attack at one point. Gohmert’s specific claim was eroded significantly a day later as the government unveiled a new superseding indictment targeting members of the Oath Keepers, a right-wing group that had a heavy presence that day.

An Oath Keepers indictment makes Louis Gohmert look a little foolish. Image via Bloomberg.

Tampa Bay singer arrested in Capitol riot” via Dan Sullivan of the Tampa Bay Times — Federal authorities arrested Audrey Ann Southard on charges related to her alleged participation in the Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol. Southard, a vocal coach and piano teacher from Spring Hill, entered a Tampa federal courtroom Wednesday afternoon with arms crossed. She sat quietly at a defense table, gazing through reading glasses at court paperwork. A judge read a list of nine crimes that had been alleged in a complaint against her. They include assault on a federal officer, obstruction of law enforcement during a civil disorder, obstruction of justice or Congress, disorderly conduct in a restricted building or grounds, and engaging in a physical act of violence on Capitol grounds.

‘Up is down and down is up.’ Report examines misinformation on Miami Spanish talk radio” via Lautaro Grinspan of the Miami Herald — Scrutinizing a week’s worth of early to mid-January prerecorded programming, the report shows how a group of radio hosts across two popular local AM stations, Radio Mambi and Actualidad Radio, mischaracterized the events of Jan. 6 and continued amplifying baseless claims of voter fraud, sometimes with the tacit endorsement of high-ranking guests, including U.S. Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar of Miami-Dade. In the afternoon show he co-hosts on Actualidad Radio, Miami’s most popular AM radio station, Agustin Acosta unspooled several false statements when he said that “thousands of dead people voted, thousands of people in jail voted, thousands of people who were not U.S. citizens voted.”


Bill Nelson makes 1st State of NASA address after nearly $25 billion budget ask; announces 2 new Venus missions” via Richard Tribou of the Orlando Sentinel — Nelson gave his first State of NASA address on Wednesday plotting out the agency’s plans to continue the Artemis program to return humans to the moon as well as new Earth-centric missions as part of the largest science budget ask ever for the agency. At the end of the 45-minute presentation, Nelson announced two new missions to Venus as part of NASA’s Discovery program, which allows for smaller planetary missions that aren’t part of NASA’s flagship missions. Named Veritas and DaVinci+, the two missions aim to analyze the second planet from the sun’s atmosphere and geologic history.

Bill Nelson says America is going to Venus. Image via AP.

Deep in the Matt Gaetz-Joel Greenberg web: A tangled tale of money, sex and Florida Republicans” via Zachary Petrizzo of Salon — Leslie Anne Key is a fervent Trump supporter and also a confidant of Roger Stone and an associate to right-wing activist Jacob Engels. She served as Trump campaign co-chair for Seminole County — where the tax collector until recently was Greenberg. Key appears to be the principal figure in an entity called MAGA Advisory Group, LLC, which received contracts from Seminole County, ordered by Greenberg, for $2,500 per month, beginning in 2017. Engels is widely considered to be a member of the far-right Proud Boys. He has claimed to be an “embedded journalist” and has been described as Stone’s “mini-me.” Engels has been involved in the campaigns of several Florida Republican candidates: Jason Brodeur, Paul Paulson and former Rep. John Mica.

Greg Steube says officials calling to lower Lake O water levels are ‘politicizing the process’” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — U.S. Rep. Steube is pushing back against calls to lower Lake Okeechobee’s water levels as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continues formulating new guidelines for the lake. In a letter to Army Corps leadership, which also cc’s DeSantis, Steube aims at officials pushing to drop the lake’s baseline water levels. “I write to you concerned about politicizing the process that puts at risk proper management of Lake Okeechobee,” Steube said in the letter obtained by Florida Politics. Some officials, even members of Steube’s own party, have asked the Army Corps to lower those baseline water levels as the organization updates its Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM).


Prayers for the departedSon of former Florida state senator Daphne Campbell shot dead outside Miami-Dade apartment” via Charles Rabin and David Ovalle of the Miami Herald — Jason Dwayne Campbell, the 23-year-old son of former state Sen. Campbell, was found shot to death early Tuesday morning in the parking lot of an apartment complex in North Miami-Dade County. By Wednesday afternoon, police had released little information on the shooting, only issuing a flier saying Campbell was killed near the Monte Carlo Apartment complex at 494 NW 165th St., and asking for the public’s help in solving the crime. Police are seeking to arrest a 24-year-old Miramar woman who is the ex-girlfriend of Campbell’s current girlfriend. The woman was seen on video surveillance entering the apartment complex and was also identified by a witness entering his apartment. She is expected to be charged with murder.

RIP: Jason Dwayne Campbell, son of Daphne Campbell, was found dead in Miami-Dade County.

Judge to decide whether to dismiss Superintendent Robert Runcie’s perjury case” via Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — An indictment accusing Broward Schools Superintendent Runcie of perjury is too vague to be valid, his lawyer said in court Wednesday, and a judge suggested that could be a strong argument. But Circuit Judge Martin Fein didn’t say whether this concern is enough to dismiss the entire case, as Runcie’s lawyers have requested. He said he would issue a written ruling but didn’t provide a time frame for when that may happen. Runcie was indicted on April 21 on one count of perjury regarding his testimony to the grand jury. But the indictment doesn’t say specifically what the grand jury believes Runcie lied about.

Former Broward Health executive pleads guilty in kickback scheme” via Brooke Baitinger and Victoria Ballard of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A former executive pleaded guilty to accepting $427,000 in kickbacks. Brian Bravo of Pembroke Pines admitted he took the money, $150,000 of it in cash, from two vendors and a consultant for other vendors in exchange for awarding them contracts for Broward Health goods and services, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release. He pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge on Tuesday in federal court in Fort Lauderdale. For 15 years, Bravo worked as the procurement officer for the hospital district.

Republican Governor could be blocked from seizing control in Democratic Broward” via Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A proposal to let voters decide whether to elect the mayor now includes a provision dictating that if the seat is empty, whether the mayor dies or leaves office, the Governor could not appoint a replacement. That power would rest with the vice mayor, and voters would choose a new mayor in the next general election. The provision is important because the Democratic Party controls most offices in Broward County. Without the restriction, a Republican Governor could take over one of the county’s highest offices. The mayor currently is appointed rotated among commissioners, and it’s largely a ceremonial position.

Florida boating is deadlier and holiday waters were packed. Cops were ready for the worst” via David Goodhue of FLKeysNews — Police were out on the water in full force across South Florida over the long Memorial Day weekend. They were looking for safety violations, hazards, impaired boaters, anything that could get people hurt or killed. But with a few exceptions, the seafaring public was well-behaved, and there were no serious boating accidents. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the state police agency with the biggest presence on the water, reported a few boating accidents with no serious injuries and a vessel fire in the Lower Florida Keys.

More people than ever have been taking to the water on Memorial Day. Image via WFC.

Girl, 14, shot after firing at deputies during burglary, Volusia County sheriff says” via Patricio G. Balona of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — A 14-year-old girl, who ran away with a 12-year-old boy from a juvenile group home in Enterprise, was shot Tuesday night by deputies when she pointed a pump-action shotgun at them, Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said. The teen was shot after she and the boy fired multiple times at deputies with firearms taken from a home they had broken into. She came out of the garage and pointed a pump-action shotgun at deputies, the sheriff said. No deputies were injured in the incident and Chitwood said late Tuesday night the girl was fighting for her life. Deputies did not return fire until the girl came out of the garage and leveled a shotgun at the deputies a second time, Chitwood said.

Former Naples Mayor Bill Barnett files ethics complaint on Mayor Teresa Heitmann” via Omar Rodríguez Ortiz of Naples Daily News — Barnett said he filed a complaint Tuesday with the Naples Ethics Commission about the abuse of power allegations made against Mayor Teresa Heitmann last month. Heitmann has denied the accusations. During a City Council meeting on Tuesday morning, Barnett also petitioned City Council to request the Naples Ethics Commission investigate the allegations. Barnett would not share his complaint, saying in a text he believed it “is now confidential.” Brian Dye, director of technology services, wrote in an ethics complaint dated May 17 that Heitmann and a friend of hers accused Barnett, city staff, and two law firms of hacking their personal phones and computers.


On DeSantis, Confederates, cruelty and kindness in Jacksonville” via Nate Monroe of the Florida Times-Union — It took an entire community to get behind the effort to wipe away the names of Confederate generals on six Jacksonville public schools. Even then, the decision by the Duval County School Board was not unanimous: The measures, after hours of contentious public comment and weeks of protests, passed 5-2. It was a simple act of kindness and progress and an unusually feel-good way to end an hourslong school board meeting. It was also a moment DeSantis tried his hardest to overshadow earlier in the day. His actions, like those of his Southern political forefathers, will one day need redemption as well.


Republicans are winning Latinos in Florida. Can they do it nationwide?” via James Hohmann of The Washington Post — Demography is not always destiny. Many Democrats incorrectly assumed their coalition would dominate national politics once Hispanics became a large enough share of the electorate, just as the party has in California over the past generation. But what if America’s future looks more like Florida than California? Twice as many Floridians voted in 2020 than 2000 — and the increase in numbers was accompanied by an unexpected shift in the composition of the voters. “The electorate in that time became substantially less white and more Republican,” said GOP strategist Curt Anderson. The stakes are high: An estimated 16.6 million Latinos cast ballots last November, a 31% increase from four years before.

The Republican Party is trying a new kind of politics” via Philip Bump of The Washington Post — Last month, I noted the increasing frequency of candidates who don’t articulate any actual platform besides “the left is bad,” a central tenet of Trumpism. On Tuesday, Sen. John Neely Kennedy announced his reelection bid, offering only the rationale of having another six years in office. This shift away from defining policies and defending them to voters in favor of triggering more visceral concerns has happened as Trump and his Party rejected the idea that voters can be trusted in the first place. Perhaps worse, the party has also embraced changes to state laws that give partisan actors more say over evaluating the outcomes of elections. This is a toxic combination.


Florida’s $101.5 billion budget approved by state lawmakers gets the Governor’s blessing. 

Also on today’s Sunrise:

DeSantis held a news conference in New Smyrna Beach to sign the budget, doing it again a couple of hours later in Zephyrhills. The Governor also vetoed more than 140 spending projects, including his own pet project: a billion-dollar fund using federal COVID-19 bucks to respond to future disasters and emergencies.

— We also heard the Governor’s first official reaction to Agriculture Commissioner Fried‘s announcement that she will run for Governor.

— Despite DeSantis saying she “does nothing,” Fried does plenty, especially when she uses her Cabinet position to serve as the official burr under the Governor’s butt. She’s gotten under his skin on many occasions.

— Former Florida Senator and current NASA Administrator Nelson delivers a “State of Space Agency” speech with a little help from William Shatner.

— In the aftermath of the 2020 election and the GOP campaign to limit voting, there’s a new campaign in Florida to add the Fair Elections for Democracy Amendments to the state constitution that will make it easier to vote.

Sean Shaw, founder of the group “People Over Profits,” talks about those three amendments on the Sunrise Interview.

— And finally, a Florida Man tried to avoid animal cruelty charges for killing an iguana by claiming he was standing his ground.

To listen, click on the image below:

— ALOE —

‘A natural energy’: After 25 years, Kool Beanz restaurant bubbles with creative flavor” via Rochelle Koff of the Tallahassee Democrat — On June 4, it will be 25 years since Keith Baxter opened the doors to Kool Beanz Cafe on a stretch of Thomasville Road that would later become the heart of Midtown. In a fickle hospitality world, Kool Beanz has not only managed to survive for more than two decades. The eclectic restaurant has kept its place among the most beloved dining destinations in the city, overcoming two fires and the pandemic along the way. “Restaurant hospitality is much like conducting an orchestra,” said Baxter. “You don’t have to master each instrument but only how to make music with all of the instruments together.”

After a quarter-century, Kool Beanz Cafe had become a Tallahassee tradition. Image via Facebook.

SpaceX and NASA are ‘go’ for Cargo Dragon launch from Florida to International Space Station” via Emre Kelly of Florida Today — NASA and SpaceX teams are “go” for the next launch of a Dragon spacecraft with thousands of pounds of cargo destined for the International Space Station, mission managers said Wednesday. Four officials gathered at Kennedy Space Center to discuss the 1:29 p.m. Thursday liftoff from pad 39A, the 22nd resupply mission for SpaceX since 2012. The autonomous Cargo Dragon is packed with 7,300 pounds of science experiments, supplies and hardware upgrades. Conditions are expected to stand at 60% “go” due to the potential for rain and cumulus clouds hovering around the pad. If the mission dubbed CRS-22 flies on time as planned, Cargo Dragon should autonomously dock with the International Space Station around 5 a.m. Eastern time Saturday.

What Cari Roth is reading — ‘Tomato Feastival’ returns this weekend — The Red Hills Small Farm Alliance annual “Tomato Feastival” is back in person on Sunday from 2 to 6 p.m. at Goodwood Museum and Gardens in Tallahassee. The family-friendly event is a fundraiser for the nonprofit Red Hills Small Farm Alliance, which supports local food producers to feed the community. The Feastival includes food, beverages and craft beer, lawn games, live music, a farmers’ market with locally-grown seasonal fruits and veggies, a raffle and tomato contests. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children (each includes one raffle ticket), and a family ticket package for $25. Raffle tickets can be purchased for $5 each. Food is a separate purchase. Info and tickets are available at

‘Ring of fire’: Solar eclipse will be visible next week” via Jocelina Joiner of WFLA — If you thought May’s “super flower blood moon” lunar eclipse was a sight to behold, just wait until next week’s “ring of fire” solar eclipse. On June 10, when a new moon occurs, sky-gazers across the globe will be able to view this year’s first solar eclipse. Unlike a total solar eclipse, which occurs when the moon passes directly between the Earth and the sun, causing the sun to be completely blocked, next week’s eclipse will be annular, which only occurs when the moon is in its first phase. The new moon will eclipse the sun at 6:53 a.m. ET. on June 10. Look east to see it, but remember it’s unsafe to look directly at the sun unless you wear special eclipse glasses to protect your eyes.


Celebrating today are Robert Agrusa, president and CEO of the Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association, former journalist George Bennett (now with Florida Power & Light), and political consultant Mark Proctor. Belated birthday wishes to Rep. Marie Woodson.


Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter SchorschPhil AmmannRenzo 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 Orlando Rising and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also 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

  • Tom

    June 3, 2021 at 7:07 am

    Good going Governor Ron. You are right to call out the empty desk of the freak Fried. Nothing to run on with no accomplishment except revising earnings and wasting taxpayers money. She earned Rebecca Jones conspiracy endorsement, aren’t we shocked.
    Just keep on doing/serving as you have. Best Governor in country. Floridians know it.

Comments are closed.


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