Winner and Loser of the Week in Florida politics — Week of 10.24.21

Senate President Wilton Simpson showed good leadership by criticizing Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo.

People could spend every waking hour trying to debunk the lies that too many accept as truth today in our political discourse. It’s exhausting work for fact-checkers, but they soldier on.

Getting caught in a lie used to mean the death of a political career, but “He Who Shall Not Be Named” from Mar-a-Lago ended that.

And of all the poison he has spread in the last five years, nothing is more corrosive and dangerous than the fantasy that the 2020 election was stolen. You would think that there are enough reasonable people left to squash that lie in a nanosecond in a society as advanced as ours.

As we see, though, that’s just not so.

That’s why the elections supervisors from Florida’s 67 counties sent a letter to voters last week pleading with them to use their brains. Well, it didn’t exactly say that, but it was their basic intent.

“During and after the 2020 Presidential Election, the integrity of our democracy has been challenged by misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation that sows discord and undermines trust in America’s electoral process,” they wrote.

They also noted that Florida election laws “make it easy to vote and hard to cheat.”

That is true.

Yet, we have clowns like Rep. Anthony Sabatini demanding a post-election audit, but only of those cities where voters chose Joe Biden. Sabatini, a lawyer, surely must know that audits happen automatically in Florida.

Secretary of State Laurel Lee said, “that audit demonstrated an exceedingly high level of election integrity and, again, demonstrated that our results were accurate, reliable.”

Similar audits in other states showed the same thing: There was no widespread election fraud!

People believe what they want to, though, and facts be damned. Often, these are folks who consider themselves superior patriots to anyone who supported another candidate.

What they fail to understand, though, is that by undermining confidence in America’s pillars—and free elections are at that core—they make the country they claim to love weaker.

I would add one more snippet to the letter sent by the supervisors.

Sometimes, your candidate loses. Get over it.

Now, it’s on to our weekly game of winners and losers. We begin with an appropriate blurb, considering what we just discussed.


Honorable mention — South Florida elections: Admittedly this is a hollow victory and probably is more of a win for Gov. Ron DeSantis.

But at least the Republican Governor finally scheduled special elections in Democratic strongholds to replace three Democratic lawmakers who resigned their seats in the Legislature to seek the Congressional seat held by the late Alcee Hastings.

Sen. Perry Thurston and Reps. Bobby DuBose and Omari Hardy resigned their seats in July, effective in January.

DeSantis waited 87 days before scheduling primaries for SD 33, HD 88, AND HD 94 for Jan. 11, 2022. The General Election is on March 8.

The Legislative Session next year runs from Jan. 11 through March 11.

Translation: Democrats, already at a huge disadvantage in Tallahassee, will have three fewer seats to fight against expected anti-abortion laws and other GOP election-year pitches to its base.

A lawsuit on this matter examined 65 vacancies from 1999 through 2020 and found that governors waited an average of only 7.6 days to call special elections.

So how is this even an honorable mention win in those districts?

It offers more proof that DeSantis is ruthless and only cares to govern the half of the state that votes for him. These days, Democrats take what they can get.

Almost (but not quite) biggest winner — Jimmy Patronis: We’re not sure if President Biden was listening, but Florida’s CFO raised a good point in the ongoing supply chain struggle.

“I don’t know why the President doesn’t just flex some muscles, offer up some other ports to do the jobs, and not take a chance of ruining Christmas,” Patronis said on Fox and Friends First.

DeSantis also made the point about a week ago, saying Florida ports are open for business. But Patronis gets the nod here for playing the “don’t ruin Christmas” card as the situation gets uncomfortably tight.

Kids (maybe) go to sleep on Christmas Eve with visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads. Santa can’t leave a note saying sorry, kid, but that toy you asked for is stuck on a cargo ship in Long Beach.

On such things, elections turn.

Well-played, sir.

The biggest winner — Wilton Simpson: He is as Republican as can be, and Joseph Ladapo is the hand-picked choice of DeSantis to serve as Florida’s Surgeon General.

But that didn’t matter when Ladapo made headlines for refusing to wear a mask in the office of Democratic Sen. Tina Polsky, a breast cancer patient. She told him and two aides to leave, which they did, and it hit the fan once news of the encounter went public.

And Simpson, the Senate President, was at the forefront of those condemning Ladapo — no matter that the Governor is a powerful member of his party.

Simpson sent a memo to the members and staff of the Senate chamber, decrying Ladapo’s actions.

“What occurred in Senator Polsky’s office was unprofessional and will not be tolerated in the Senate,” he wrote.

“While there is no mask mandate in the Senate, Senators and staff can request social distancing and masking within their own offices. If visitors to the Senate fail to respect these requests, they will be asked to leave.”

Simpson doubled down on that while attending a conference in Orlando.

“I thought some of the comments were disrespectful, whether Sen. Polsky had cancer or not. But the fact she has cancer that clearly would lead to a compromised immune system. And the good doctor knows that. He should have some manners,” Simpson said.


Dishonorable mention — Florida Attorney General’s Office: More election stuff. The Tampa Bay Times reported that lawyers on A.G. Ashley Moody’s staff smirked when Texas A.G. Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit last December to overturn results in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

Reporter Lawrence Mower reviewed emails from Moody’s office and wrote the following:

One lawyer called it “bats–t insane.”

Another called it “weird.”

Yet, Moody signed on to the doomed lawsuit, which asked the U.S. Supreme Court to get involved.

The Court declined.

It’s unclear whether Moody consulted with the other attorneys.

“Clearly this was water cooler conversation by a few employees in response to breaking news and prior to any request to join a jurisdictional brief,” Moody spokesperson Lauren Cassedy wrote. “There was strong legal analysis to support the Supreme Court hearing and deciding this case on such a novel issue.”

No, there wasn’t.

Getting Florida involved in such a stupid spat is beneath the dignity of the office. Put more colloquially; it was bats–t insane.

Almost (but not quite) biggest loser — Tom Grady: The Chairman of Florida’s Board of Education turned himself in to federal authorities over a charge that he illegally dredged oceanfront property in the Village of Islamorada.

He posted a $50,000 bond.

Grady’s attorney told Craig Pittman of the Florida Phoenix his client “obtained numerous approvals for this project from the local, state, and federal government. Unfortunately, the federal government’s position is that any existing federal permits were insufficient.”

As Pittman noted, though, “I talked to folks in and around Islamorada, (and) they told me Grady couldn’t have gotten a permit that allowed dredging a boat channel. Nobody can.”

That’s because the land is part of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, protected by a law passed by Congress in 1990.

The biggest loser — Ladapo: It’s not even close.

The guy DeSantis chose as Florida’s top doc was already in enough hot water over his no-mask stance in Polsky’s office. We’ve been through that incident repeatedly.

He probably could have diffused the situation afterward by apologizing and promising never to ignore a request like that again. As Simpson said above, “he should have some manners.”

Instead, Ladapo — a person trained in medicine — issued one of the flat-out lamest statements ever to explain his inexplicable behavior.

“Having a conversation with someone while wearing a mask is not something I find productive, especially when other options exist,” Ladapo wrote. “It is important to me to communicate clearly and effectively with people. I can’t do that when half of my face is covered.”

DeSantis later tried to give his embattled Surgeon General nominee some cover, pointing out there were pictures of Polsky maskless on the same day as the episode with Ladapo.

“There’s pictures, very close with no mask, in other instances,” DeSantis said. “I don’t see people talking about that, so I think they’re trying to politicize this.”

There are two problems with this approach.

No. 1, Ladapo was on Polsky’s turf, a guest in her office. She made a reasonable request, and a reasonable person would have — oh, how did Simpson put it — had some manners.

Ladapo did not.

No. 2, Ladapo, as we’ve noted, is a doctor, educated at Harvard. Surely, he knows that surgical teams performing delicate operations speak to each other throughout the procedure WHILE WEARING MASKS!

I don’t believe for a second that Ladapo can’t communicate “clearly and effectively with people” while covering his face. He’s just another frat-house guy who loves to make outrageous statements and do headline-grabbing things so that his fellow frat-housers will laugh about he owns the libs.

What Ladapo really owns is his own wretched behavior.

Deal with it, man.

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

    October 31, 2021 at 7:31 am

    Biggest winner:

    Governor DeSantis, 85,000 new jobs and Florida’s reduced 4.9% unemployment.
    Floridians earn, work and thrive due to Gov Ron.

    Florida ports benefit due to America’s Gov.
    India, European countries sign onto port access in Florida. Gov Ron positions Florida as a solution in supply chain mismanagement by Biden/Harris/Butteigeg. Florida offers access to over 100 million consumers through south.

    Covid drops over 90% in Florida.

    Win, Win, Win.
    Compared to whine, whine and whine.

    • Evan

      October 31, 2021 at 9:36 am

      Nothing is ever good enough for liberals except redistribution of wealth.

  • Charles

    October 31, 2021 at 11:01 am

    wow, jackassery joe henderson (purveyor of yellow journalism) attempting to sound reasonable is like claiming dogshit doesn’t smell.
    No matter – trying to put lipstick on henderson doesn’t work you still even up with a decrepit old pig

Comments are closed.


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