Winner and Loser of the Week in Florida politics — Week of 10.17.21

Ron DeSantis' Special Session about mandates will get him what he wants — lots of publicity

We know that Gov. Ron DeSantis hates mandates (unless, as we’ve previously noted, they are his mandates).

He has made that clear about ten thousand times. He wants to protect the freedom of people to potentially spread a deadly virus. As the musical “Hamilton” put it, history has its eyes on you.

Anyway, the Governor just took his obsession to the next level. But why? Isn’t it going a little over the top to call a Special Session of the Legislature to block vaccine mandates from President Joe Biden’s administration?

Maybe. But that’s what DeSantis said he intends to do.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration likely will enact sanctions against federal contractors and hospitals that don’t require employees to become vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to weekly testing.

Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls and Senate President Wilton Simpson issued a joint statement to “respond to this gross overreach by the federal government.”

“In the coming days, we will review the Governor’s specific proposals as well as discuss our own ideas for legislative action, including whether now is the time for Florida to withdraw from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and establish our own state program,” they said.

“We believe that by doing so, Florida will have the ability to alleviate onerous federal regulations placed on employers and employees.”

They added, “During the upcoming Special Session, our goal is to make our laws even more clear that Florida stands as refuge for families and businesses who want to live in freedom.”

Deaths and hospitalizations from the delta variant of COVID-19 have steadily declined in Florida in recent weeks. Medical experts overwhelmingly agree that masks and vaccinations are the primary reason for that.

However, unlike DeSantis, those experts aren’t running for a second term as Governor. Hence, the need for a Special Session that will get DeSantis loads of state and national publicity.

It’s how they play the game.

Now, on to our game of winners and losers.


Honorable mention — The Seminole Tribe of Florida: Along with DeSantis, the Tribe won a big legal victory in the battle over sports betting in the state.

A federal judge threw out a lawsuit from West Flagler Associates that claimed the state’s gambling Compact with the Tribe harmed parimutuels. WFA owns the Magic City Casino in Miami and Bonita Springs Poker Room.

Under the agreement reached earlier this year, the Tribe can operate sports betting in the state. Anyone over 21 can place a bet online or through their cell phones. The servers that handle the wagers will be on tribal land, which satisfies federal law.

The lawsuit argued that provision could be devastating to brick-and-mortar casinos.

Under the 30-year deal, the Seminoles agreed to pay Florida about $20 billion, including $2.5 billion over the first five years.

The agreement still faces two legal challenges, but the issue is trending in the Seminole’s favor. The U.S. Department of the Interior, which oversees tribal gambling, approved the deal earlier this year.

Almost (but not quite) biggest winner — Kathleen Passidomo: It was a foregone conclusion that Republicans would elect Passidomo as the incoming President of the Florida Senate, but that didn’t make her formal selection any less significant.

Republicans officially named her Senate President-Designate, which means she will be the first Florida woman to hold that position.

Passidomo, from Naples, takes over in 2022 — assuming her party continues to hold the majority in the upper chamber.

“Doing what is right and what is in the best interest of our state is not always easy,” Passidomo said. “But no one takes on a job like this because they think it will be easy. It’s hard work to balance the priorities of our state, meet the needs of our residents and preserve and protect what makes Florida so special.”

The biggest winner — Val Demings: The Democratic candidate running to unseat U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio has some eye-popping financial numbers, but that’s not why we’re putting her in this spot.

As POLITICO’s Marc Caputo reported, Demings is raising huge amounts of cash in a way that might change how future campaigns operate. Instead of crisscrossing Florida and meeting with groups here and there, Demings has campaigned almost exclusively on Facebook.

The strategy is working.

Demings hauled in a jaw-dropping $8.5 million in the last quarter, besting Rubio by $2.4 million. Her total is more than any other Senate candidate in the country.

Adviser Joshua Karp declared it the “new winning model.”

That doesn’t mean Demings won’t use the traditional style of face-to-face campaigning as the election draws closer. However, the tactic has stuffed her war chest at minimal expense with more than a year to go.

Democrats believe they can oust Rubio in this race, which will draw national attention. Early polls indicate a close race.


Dishonorable mention — Laura Loomer: Name a conspiracy and Loomer probably promoted it as gospel. But we’ll bet you can’t name anyone from the district she wants to represent in Congress who donated to her campaign in the most recent finance report.

Loomer raised a not-insignificant $106,277 in the third quarter, but nearly all of it came from out of state. She did report 26 donations from Florida, primarily from South Florida.

Loomer is challenging Republican Dan Webster in CD 11, a conservative (but not crazy) district. That would seem like a suicide mission for Loomer, but she has been there before. In 2020, Democrat Lois Frankel routed her by 20 percentage points.

Loomer is a “journalist,” if we expand the definition to include those who make up stuff and pass it off as news. She worked for such disreputable sites as Project Veritas, known for manipulating secret recordings to fit a far-right narrative, and Infowars. That’s the site whose founder, Alex Jones, spread the unholy lie that the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre was a hoax.

Almost (but not quite) biggest loser — Matt Gaetz: The Daily Beast reported the Florida Bar declared him “delinquent” and “not eligible to practice law in Florida.”

The issue is over $265 in dues Gaetz owes the Bar to remain in good standing. Gaetz’s communications director, Joel Valdez, said the lack of payment is not an oversight by the U.S. Representative from Florida’s 1st Congressional District.

“Congressman Gaetz is no longer actively engaged in the practice of law. He is focused on representing his constituents in Congress, not the courtroom,” Valdez said.

Well, OK.

But The Daily Beast spoke to four lawyers who declared it’s highly unusual for Bar members to take this route. Even if he’s not practicing law, Gaetz could pay a $175 fee to remain inactive but still a “member in good standing.”

“He clearly doesn’t take his law license very seriously when he doesn’t take the time to pay the $265 dues,” said Daniel Uhlfelder, a Santa Rosa Beach lawyer who lives in Gaetz’s district. “He’s not a serious lawyer. He’s not a serious Congressman. He’s not a serious person. This is one small but symbolic example of that.”

The biggest loser — Donald Trump: Normally, this space refers to the cretin of Mar-a-Lago as “he who shall not be named.” But the former President(ish) and noted spreader of “the election was stolen” lie needs to have his name attached to his latest affront to decency.

While people on both sides of the political spectrum properly honored the life and service of Gen. Colin Powell upon his death, Trump responded with one of his typically tasteless statements.

Wonderful to see Colin Powell, who made big mistakes on Iraq and famously, so-called weapons of mass destruction, be treated in death so beautifully by the Fake News Media,” Trump wrote.

“Hope that happens to me someday. He was a classic RINO, if even that, always being the first to attack other Republicans. He made plenty of mistakes, but anyway, may he rest in peace.”

Actually, Donald, the first line of your obituary will refer to your two impeachments (you’re the best at being impeached) and the divisive, dangerous, and cynical lie you spread about a stolen election.

The obit might also mention how you received five draft deferments while Gen. Powell (and the late U.S. Sen. John McCain) served their country honorably for decades.

And that’s no fake.

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.


  • Ocean Joe

    October 24, 2021 at 7:40 am

    As completely grotesque as Trump is, the one thing he occasionally does is say out loud what many are thinking. Of course most of what he says out loud is deliberately false and misleading. And Colin Powell was a great American statesman. But our adventure into Iraq the second time, under W, robbed us of any pretense about our justification for invasion, destabilized the middle east, created a power void for the Iranians to fill, and ranks among the worst foreign policy moves in American history. Add to that, the Bush administration’s failure to act on warnings of a pending al-Queda attack that led to 9-11 and our subsequent invasion of Afghanistan as well, and Trump (who now appears eager to finish off our democratic form of government), was right.
    Trump is dangerous, his incompetence killed far more Americans than the adventurism of Bush 2, the civil unrest he will spawn in the near future will cause more American death, but on Mr. Powell’s balance sheet, the willingness to go along with Cheney and Rumsfeld, or use our national resources to avenge a personal slight by Saddam against W’s pop was a horrendous waste of American resources.
    As weak as Democrats are, they never manage to inflict the kind of damage on us that Hoover, W, and Trump have delivered.

    • Tom

      October 24, 2021 at 8:28 am

      Total lies, fake stories and half truths and half conspiracies ocean Joe.

      You still owe apologies for incorrect statements on DeSantis last week. Classic extremist attacks.

    • Tom

      October 24, 2021 at 9:00 am

      What a crock of crap from crap king.
      Are you serious ocean Joe?

      Well documented that Clinton administration in late 90’s literally passed on arresting and or taking Bin Laden out after Kobar towers bombing. The ugly smear you once again used was never proven fact that somehow we knew 9/11 was taking place.

      As for your diatribe vs 45. He administered the greatest economy in U.S. history with 3.5% unemployment. More Americans worked ever. More minorities of all races worked. African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and women worked compared to ever!

      The tax cuts and de regulation brought bottom economic equality, earnings and opportunity to all Americans. The economic recovery based on all fair analysis was a blue collar/middle class renaissance. Bottom up recovery.

      Furthermore, liberal dogma was blown up as U. S. Treasury recently reported that over 4 Trillion dollars was collected in tax revenue, a record in U.S. history. So tell predator peter h, the weasel predator, his liberal lies don’t work . Tax cuts brought record additional revenues into fed treasury. Which once again demonstrates tax cuts pay.

      As President Kennedy said, “a rising tide lifts all boats” and it did in 17, 18, 19 & pre pandemic.

      Lastly, 45 was first POTUS since Carter not to use U S military abroad.
      Another lie from you as you also do about America’s Governor. Standard operations from you, Tjb, weasel peter h, JD, Alex, Frankie, Lorraine, Hoffmann, science disbeliever and others. Spare us.

  • Tom

    October 24, 2021 at 8:22 am

    Win, Place, and Draw Joe:
    Another good week for Florida and America’s Governor:

    Jax/Port: Governor Ron and a whose who of Florida transportation and port officials throughout the state community, collectively demonstrated that Florida is available and ready to address supply chain cluster. With two ship firms already rerouted and several more coming. With major intermodal, rail, truck supply open 24/7, Florida ports reaches up to 100 million consumers throughout south/Sw and Se.
    This effort received national attention.
    Major win as America’s Governor saves Christmas.

    Covid diminishes over 90%in Florida:
    With Biden’s HHS earlier this month complimenting Florida’s senior vaccine campaign, directly advocated by Governor Ron last winter, having had highest seniors vaccinated. With America’s Governor also solely initiating 25 monoclonal centers so as to help treat early Covid infected people, nso as to keep them out of the hospital and help treat them. WH offered no Regeneron option as it was America’s Governor who once again offered solutions. This and vaccines has seen a 90% drop off. What will morning Sunburn do now.

    Florida employment:
    Florida netted over 85,000 new jobs in state. Seeing the unemployment level continue to decrease from 5.0 to 4.9%. A positive direction due to Governor Ron’s decision earlier this summer to remove Florida from federal unemployment program.

    Governor Ron, work horse not a show horse always. Florida wins!

    • Evan S Miller

      October 24, 2021 at 11:32 am

      Compare our fantastic governor in Florida to Pelosi’s liberal bought off commie pinko bleeding heart liberal left wing hack nephew. See the difference?

      • Tom

        October 24, 2021 at 2:46 pm

        There is none.
        You can’t find him to help at all on supply chain. Embarrassing.
        Unlike Gov Ron, America’s Governor.
        Problem solver, solutions.

        Newsom hides like all the Manchurian Dums from Florida politics.

Comments are closed.


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