Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 11.3.21

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Florida politics and Sunburn — perfect together.

Good Wednesday morning

INFLUENCE Magazine’s recognition of the Rising Stars of Florida politics will be unveiled in the January issue.

Right now, we are taking nominations for who belongs on this prestigious list. (How prestigious? Well, consider the fact Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ former Chief of Staff, Adrian Lukis, and current Communications Director, Taryn Fenske, were both spotted early on in their careers on the list.

We are looking for bright shiny faces from the campaign, lobbying, fundraising, and public affairs arena. This will be a tight list of about 25 individuals, so make your nominations count.

Email your nominations to .


Spotted — At the Celebration of Life Ceremony for Greg Turbeville at the Ballard Partners office in Tallahassee. Turbeville died June 30, 2020, at age 49: Mike Abrams, Ellen Anderson, Jeff Atwater, Brian Ballard, Brady Benford, Rebecca Benn, Thad Beshears, Amy Bisceglia, Pam Bondi, Carol Bracy, Christy Daly Brodeur, Jason Brodeur, Steve and Brandi Brown, Bob Burleson, Brad Burleson, Georgia Cappleman, Oscar Chemerinski, Tony Crapp, Steve Crisafulli, Ana Cruz, Jose Felix Diaz, Tom DiGiacomo, Tom Feeney, Mathew Forrest, Adam Goodman, Jan Gorrie, Alexander Gray, Chris Hansen, David Johnson, John Johnston, Todd Josko, Sylvester Lukis, Adrian Lukis, Jim Magill, Joe McCann, Dan McFaul, Gene McGee, Steve McNamara, Holly Miller, Carlos Munoz, Eugene O’Flaherty, John O’Hanlon, Stephen Passacantilli, FSU College of Music Dean Todd Queen, Monica Rodriguez, Pat Rooney, Katherine San Pedro, Justin Sayfie, Cheryl Seinfeld, Mac Stipanovich, Frank Terraferma, Tola Thompson, Todd Thomson, John Thrasher, Heather Turnbull, Abby Vail, Wansley Walters, Robert Wexler, Courtney Whitney, Amy Young and Stephanie Grutman Zauder.


I’m talking here — The Florida League of Cities holds its 2021 Legislative Conference today through Friday, led by League President Phillip Walker, Commissioner for Lakeland. The event features the latest on the state’s top issues and an update of the League’s legislative priorities and ways to promote Home Rule. At 3:45 p.m. Thursday, join me, Matt Dixon from POLITICO and Dara Kam from the News Service of Florida for a discussion (moderated by consultant Steve Vancore) on how the media landscape has changed and big issues that will dominate the 2022 Legislative Session. Registration desk opens today at 2 p.m.; events start at 3 p.m., Embassy Suites Orlando — Lake Buena Vista South, 4955 Kyngs Heath Road, Kissimmee.

View schedule and agenda here.


@Robillard: the move is to tweet about the early exits to get those sweet, sweet RTs but also apologize for doing so to show how savvy you are

@MaggieNYT: What if the takeaway from this race is both that these voters rejected (Joe) Biden * and * they don’t want a return of (Donald) Trump?

@DaveWeigel: Crucial mistake by Virginia Dems: Hit “update” on their election-stealing software too late, and the patch wasn’t installed yet when polls closed.

@DouthatNYT: I’ll just say it: Glenn Youngkin should seriously consider running for President in 2024.

@KyLamb: In my opinion, blue-collar Virginians are speaking for Americans this evening. They’re showing that they appreciate leaders that stand up for parents’ rights, education, mandates and bullying. There is a reason what Florida is doing is so popular both in Florida and the U.S.

@Fineout: So … maybe resigning from the Legislature was …

Tweet, tweet:

@RyanEGorman: @ashleybauman is the political version of #ChampaBay. Her candidates keep winning it all.

@KentStermon: Any company Adrian Lukis joins is a much better place than it was the day before

Tweet, tweet:

@ByJasonDelgado: .@MagicJohnson is speaking to student-athletes inside the state Capitol and he closes with a hot take: “LeBron is not as good as Michael.”

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:


The Blue Angels 75th anniversary show — 2; Disney’s ’Eternals’ premieres — 2; ’Yellowstone’ Season 4 begins — 3; ’Disney Very Merriest After Hours’ will debut — 5; U.S. to lift restrictions for fully vaccinated international travelers — 5; Miami at FSU — 7; ‘Hawkeye’ premieres — 11; Special Session on vaccine mandates begins — 12; ExcelinEd National Summit on Education begins — 15; FSU vs. UF — 24; Florida Chamber 2021 Annual Insurance Summit begins — 28; Jacksonville special election to fill seat vacated by Tommy Hazouri’s death — 34; Steven Spielberg’s ’West Side Story’ premieres — 37; ’Spider-Man: No Way Home’ premieres — 44; ’The Matrix: Resurrections’ released — 49; ’The Book of Boba Fett’ premieres on Disney+ — 56; CES 2022 begins — 63; NFL season ends — 67; 2022 Legislative Session starts — 69; Florida’s 20th Congressional District Election — 69; Special Elections in Senate District 33, House District 88 & 94 — 69; Florida TaxWatch’s 2022 State of the Taxpayer Day — 70; Joel Coen’s ’The Tragedy of Macbeth’ on Apple TV+ — 72; NFL playoffs begin — 73; XXIV Olympic Winter Games begins — 93; Super Bowl LVI — 102; Daytona 500 — 109; St. Pete Grand Prix — 116; ‘The Batman’ premieres — 122; ’Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 185; ’Top Gun: Maverick’ premieres — 205; ’Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 211; ’Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 247; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 259; ’Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 338; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 366; ‘Black Panther 2’ premieres — 373; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 408; ‘Captain Marvel 2’ premieres — 471; ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 625. ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 716; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 996.


Dale Holness or Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick will replace Alcee Hastings in Congress” via Anthony Man and Angie DiMichele of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Holness and Cherfilus-McCormick were effectively tied in a Primary that may not have a definitive result for another week or more. Cherfilus-McCormick and Holness had just under 24% of the vote at 9:45 p.m. Holness won Broward County, where most of the primary voters live, and Cherfilus-McCormick was far ahead in Palm Beach County. Mathematically, none of the other nine candidates had a path to victory. An ultra-close race could take some time to sort out. Overseas and military ballots have an extra 10 days to arrive at elections offices. Florida law provides for recounts if the races are closer than 0.5%. After the initial recount by machine, if there is less than 0.25% difference, ballots that couldn’t be accurately read by machine are counted by hand.

Ken Welch is victorious in St. Petersburg mayoral race” via Colleen Wright of the Tampa Bay Times — Welch will be the city’s first Black Mayor. His campaign declared victory at 7:16 p.m. In a statement, Welch gave his thanks. “First and foremost, thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Welch said. “Because of each and every one of you here today, we have made history. But this election is not about me, it’s because of the giants that came before me — it’s because of the inclusive progress we are working toward, and that’s why we’re all here today.” With 84 of 92 precincts reporting by about 7:35, Welch had about 60% of the vote against opponent Robert Blackmon. Welch’s four-year term will start when he is inaugurated at the first City Council meeting in 2022 on Jan. 6.

Ken Welch makes St. Pete history. Image via @eunicortiz/Twitter.

Lisset Hanewicz wins in District 4 race, becomes first Hispanic on St. Pete City Council” via Romy Ellenbogen of the Tampa Bay Times — Becoming the first Hispanic person to serve on the St. Petersburg City Council, Hanewicz defeated Raymond James investment banker Tom Mullins in the District 4 race, 54% to 46%. Hanewicz, 50, will replace Council member Darden Rice in District 4. Hanewicz also got the most votes in the primary election that involved four other candidates. A former state prosecutor and president of the Crescent Lake Neighborhood Association, Hanewicz said she wants to ensure every neighborhood is a safe location and to support vulnerable populations. She also wants to ensure St. Petersburg retains its character while allowing for affordable housing. Changing zoning laws to allow for more density can assist with that, she said.

—”Copley Gerdes bests Bobbie Shay Lee, will replace Robert Blackmon on City Council” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics

—”Richie Floyd takes District 8 seat on St. Pete City Council in a squeaker over Jeff Danner” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics

—“Voters say no to closed-district voting, as only 2 of 7 amendments OK’d in St. Pete” via Daniel Figueroa of Florida Politics

Orlando Commissioners Jim Gray, Regina Hill reelected” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Gray and Hill cruised to new terms in the city election Tuesday, again demonstrating that Orlando’s voters apparently like how the city and its government are running. Gray, an executive in commercial real estate investment, won a third full term representing District 1, a large region on the city’s southeast side. He soundly defeated activist Sunshine Grund and retired Orlando police officer Bill Moore. In unofficial results with all votes accounted for except provisional ballots, Gray had 62%, compared with 23% for Grund, and 15% for Moore. Hill, a nurse, won a third term representing District 5, which covers much of the city’s east side. She defeated nonprofit executive Shaniqua “Shan” Rose. In unofficial results, Hill had 73%, compared with 27% for Rose.

Commissioner Robert Stuart survives challenge in Orlando” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Stuart won a fifth term in a close election Tuesday to represent Orlando’s north side on City Council. Stuart, a retired social services executive and longtime player in Orlando politics, managed to stay above 50% of the total votes in a three-way election Tuesday, defeating Nicolette Springer and Samuel Chambers, who both challenged him from the left. In unofficial returns Tuesday with all votes except for provisional ballots counted, Stuart received 51% of the vote; Springer, 44%; and Chambers, 5% of the vote. It was the second close election in a row that Stuart won.

Bill Mutz secures second term as Lakeland Mayor” via Daniel Figueroa of Florida Politics — Mutz defeated far-right political newcomer Saga Stevin to lock in his second four-year term as Lakeland’s Mayor. Early results from the Polk County Supervisor of Elections Office show Mutz took 67% of the vote, while Stevin scored 33%, with all precincts reporting. Turnout was low in Polk County, with only 20% of voters casting ballots. Lakeland’s mayoral race was unexpectedly contentious. It became more about ideological differences and right-wing talking points than the real issues facing the city, including the fact that it’s experienced the second-highest population growth in the country.

Bill Mutz takes a solid win in Lakeland. Image via Facebook.

Lake Mary voters return Commissioner Justin York to office” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Lake Mary voters showed overwhelming approval Tuesday for City Commissioner York, handing him resounding reelection over challenger Kristina Renteria, 73% to 27%. York’s victory endorsed his record and pledges to continue working to redevelop the downtown area into a live-work-play community, using some of the $8 million the city is receiving in federal grants. Unlike much of Seminole County, Lake Mary is now primarily built out and developed a sound mix of residential and commercial. But there are older neighborhoods in need of redevelopment, and there are limited opportunities for new housing. York sees opportunities in the older central city where federal dollars could go toward septic-to-sewer conversions, and money could be used to improve the center’s infrastructure.

Megan Sladek reelected Mayor of Oviedo” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Sladek has been reelected in a three-way battle in which both of her opponents had primarily agreed on her agenda but tried to create doubts about her ability to work with the City Council. Voters did not share that concern. Sladek easily won a second full term as Mayor after serving a term on the City Council. Challenger Kevin Hipes is a real estate redeveloped who served as a Sanford City Commissioner before moving to Oviedo. Challenger Abe López is a teacher and small-business owner with a public service past in New Jersey. In an Oviedo City Council race, challenger Natalie Teuchert, a mechanical engineer, ousted incumbent Council member Judith Dolores Smith.

In Manatee County, voters approve schools tax extension that helps back teacher pay” via Ryan McKinnon of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Manatee County voters agreed to renew the School District’s one-mill property tax on Tuesday, maintaining a $46 million revenue stream for schools and showing support for the district’s academic progress since the tax was enacted in 2018. The referendum passed 70% to 30%, with roughly 66,000 registered voters casting a ballot … If the vote had gone the other way, school officials said they “were not bluffing” in saying that they had no backup pot of money to fund millions of dollars in staff salary supplements, meaning all employees would have seen pay cut, with teachers’ salaries reduced by more than $5,000. The added tax costs will cost the average homeowner $175 annually.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez reelected in a landslide victory” via Joey Flechas of the Miami Herald — Suarez won reelection Tuesday night, handily defeating lesser-known opponents to earn his second four-year term as the figurehead of South Florida’s most populous city. Before Election Day, Suarez captured about 79% of the mail ballots and early votes, building a giant lead before polls opened Tuesday. Suarez’s reelection was so anticipated that fans and supporters barely noticed when a big screen projecting results at his election party showed the Mayor ahead of his second-place opponent by more than 13,000 votes. With such a significant lead, and a low Election Day turnout, by 7:30 p.m. Suarez had locked in a second term as Miami’s 34th mayor, the first to be born in the Magic City and son of the city’s first Cuban-born Mayor, Xavier Suarez.

Frances Suarez takes it in a landslide. Image via AP.

—“Christine King unseats Jeffrey Watson on Miami Commission, Joe Carollo holds onto office” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics

—”Two Miami Beach Commission races set for Nov. 16 runoff” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics

Miami Beach voters approve push to move up last call to 2 a.m.” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Miami Beach voters are supporting a change to the city’s liquor regulations, forcing bars to now stop selling alcohol at 2 a.m., a full three hours earlier than the current 5 a.m. last call. More than 56% of residents backed moving last call to 2 a.m., while 44% opposed the change. The debate over that last call time has persisted throughout the year. Tuesday’s referendum was a nonbinding straw ballot item meant to gauge resident support for making last call three hours earlier. But multiple members of the City Commission said they would honor the voters’ decision and approve an ordinance if voters endorsed the change. This wasn’t the first time the city took action. In May, The Commission agreed via a 4-3 vote to immediately move the last call time to 2 a.m., subject to giving voters the final say in November.

‘What our residents want’: Miami Beach voters pass 2 a.m. alcohol sales referendum” via Martin Vassolo of the Miami Herald — Mayor Dan Gelber, who ran parallel campaigns for reelection and to pass the 2 a.m. referendum, declared victory in both efforts just before 8 p.m. Tuesday. “This is what our residents want,” Gelber told reporters while surrounded by supporters and his family at a campaign watch party at The Carlyle hotel. Gelber said he expects city staff to develop legislation to codify the referendum. He also expects his colleagues on the Commission to support any measure to restrict alcohol sales after 2 a.m. after seeing that most voters support such a move.

Esteban “Steve” Bovo wins Hialeah Mayor race” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Bovo emerged victorious from Tuesday’s election to become Hialeah’s new Mayor, marking a new chapter for Miami-Dade County’s second-most populous city. Bovo captured 59% of the vote at 7:50 p.m., with 45 of 48 precincts reporting. Of 21,648 votes cast, 12,776 were in his favor. His closest competitor, former Hialeah Council member Isis Garcia-Martinez, received 21.5% of the vote. Former Hialeah Mayor Julio Martínez nabbed just 1.9% of the vote, outpacing Hialeah resident Juan Santana but falling far behind third-place candidate Fernando Godo, who more than 16% of city voters supported on the ballot. The five-way race to replace term-limited Mayor Carlos Hernández included several notable names, though Bovo and Garcia-Martinez had positioned themselves as the presumptive front-runners in the lead-up to Election Day.

—”Bovo rides political experience, Donald Trump endorsement to become Mayor of Hialeah” via Aaron Leibowitz of the Miami Herald

Homestead Mayor Steve Losner wins reelection in close race” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — With all precincts reporting at 8:30 p.m., Losner received 51% of the vote, represented by 1,693 ballots cast in his favor. Former Council member Elvis Maldonado got 1,635 votes. Losner, 60, is a fourth-generation Homestead resident and a past City Council member. He returned to politics to run for Mayor in 2019 after more than a decade away — he’s a lawyer with a private practice in the city — to address what he called Homestead’s “untapped potential,” including bringing more dining, retail and entertainment options and building more quality housing. Since he took office, the city opened Homestead Station, a massive downtown shopping and entertainment complex. There’s also been ample residential development, with the median sales price of a single-family home rising by $150,000 since 2016.

John Chappie reelected as Mayor of Bradenton Beach” via Tampa Bay 10 — Chappie has been reelected as Mayor of Bradenton Beach. His victory comes as early results show he won 69.4-30.5% over challenger David Galuszka. Chappie first took office in 2001 as Mayor of Bradenton Beach. Before that, he served in the Commission in 1997. When Chappie reached his mayoral term limit in 2007, he was elected County Commissioner in 2008. Three years later, he would resign and later win a Commission seat in 2011. Spending the years in between on the County Commission, Chappie has most recently served as Mayor of Bradenton Beach since 2017. He ran uncontested to be reelected in 2019.

John Chappie gets another term in Bradenton Beach. Image via Facebook.

Sunny Isles Beach voters send mayoral candidates to runoff” via Samantha J. Gross of the Miami Herald — Voters in Sunny Isles Beach sent two mayoral candidates to a runoff election — where they will decide who should serve the remainder of the term vacated by George “Bud” Scholl. Current Commissioner Dana Goldman and Mayor Larisa “Laura” Svechin who assumed mayoral duties on Sept. 1 pending Tuesday’s special election, will compete again on Nov. 16 to determine who will serve the rest of the term, ending in November 2022. With all precincts reporting, unofficial results from the Miami-Dade County Elections Department show that Goldman captured 41% of the vote and Svechin captured 37%. Since neither candidate received more than 50% of the vote, a runoff election will be held. Just 2,273 out of 12,155 registered voters participated in the election.

Helen Moore, Jim Boldt win Venice Council races” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Venice City Councilmember Moore defeated challenger Sandy Sibley with 54.81% of the vote. Boldt, meanwhile, came out on top in a three-person field for the open Seat 4, with 50.15% to Jennifer Lewis’ 40.02% and Chris Simmons’ 9.82%. The election had become a partisan affair, with the Republican Party of Sarasota backing Moore and Boldt while the Sarasota Democratic Party supported Sibley and Lewis. Boldt touted his business background as a chief qualification. In the coming years, he said, Venice needs its infrastructure to keep up with continued growth. The city must remain financially healthy, so there’s no lapse in city services. Moore defended her seat, and with it, the planning process that’s been underway several years in the city.


>>>Gov. DeSantis will hold a press conference at the Hilton Palm Beach Airport at 10:15 a.m.

As Special Session approaches, Florida lawmakers have no specific language to chew on” via Mike Vasilinda of WCTV — The Special Session of the Florida Legislature called by DeSantis is less than two weeks away. It was called to deal with mask policies, vaccine requirements, and other COVID-19-related issues, but there was still no specific language for lawmakers to chew on as of Tuesday. With lobbyists in the hallways, Florida’s Capitol resembled pre-pandemic days this week, but vaccines and mask mandates are very much on the agenda in the coming Special Session. “To add protections for people in the state of Florida,” said DeSantis when he announced the Session in late October.

Ron DeSantis calls a Special Session, but there is no substance yet.

Erin Grall: PIP is coming back in 2022, but not ‘phantom medical bills’” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — As the Florida Legislature considers bills to limit civil actions, a leading House Republican said the House will once again consider repealing personal injury protection law, but is not likely to advance a proposal to eliminate so-called “phantom medical bills,” Grall said she will continue to work on repealing Florida’s no-fault automobile insurance law known as personal injury protection. She passed a bill to repeal PIP last year, but it was vetoed by DeSantis. Grall said she has been trying to understand what DeSantis’s primary concerns with her bill were and that she has not yet had detailed conversations with the administration.

Free book delivery program, a Chris Sprowls priority, rolls out to 30,000 students next month” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Free books are getting shipped on time to 30,000 students who are currently below reading level. Deliveries are on pace to begin Dec. 15 in the New Worlds Reading Initiative, a Sprowls priority signed by DeSantis this summer. The program provides free book home delivery to elementary students who read below grade level. Recipients will get one free book every month for nine months throughout the school year. Multiple students per household can receive books. However, students must opt-in to the program. More than 500,000 students are eligible, administrators told the House Education and Employment Committee on Tuesday.

After Ron DeSantis’ veto, juvenile expungement bill clears first legislative hurdle” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — A Senate panel gave the first approval to an altered juvenile arrest expungement proposal after DeSantis vetoed a version passed unanimously this spring. Sen. Keith Perry is carrying the bill (SB 342) that would expand opportunities to expunge first-time arrests from juvenile records to felony charges. But this time, Perry and the Representative carrying the House counterpart (HB 195), Rep. David Smith, removed forcible felonies from the list after DeSantis’ concerns. “Otherwise, the bill’s the same as last year,” Perry told the Senate Criminal Justice Committee Tuesday. Florida currently allows minors to expunge first-time misdemeanors if they complete a diversion program. The bill would expand juvenile expunction laws to include most felonies and other arrests beyond the first offense.

Senate panel OKs retroactive reduced sentencing for some felonies” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Lawmakers took the first step Tuesday to allowing reduced sentences for some felony charges to apply retroactively beginning next year. In the last decade, the Legislature has lowered sentences and removed some minimum mandatory sentences. A bill filed by Sen. Darryl Rouson (SB 276) would allow those serving the previous mandatory time for some charges to be resentenced under the new standards. The Senate Criminal Justice Committee approved the St. Petersburg Democrat’s bill unanimously Tuesday. “In sum, this bill is about hindsight. It’s about equity and fairness in sentencing,” Rouson told the panel.

Proposal to rename Criminal Punishment Code clears first committee stop” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — Florida may soon rename its Criminal Punishment Code under a bill OK’d Tuesday by a Senate committee. Sponsored by Sen. Jason Pizzo, the measure (SB 260) would change the name to the Criminal Public Safety Code. The Senate Committee on Criminal Justice voted unanimously to approve the bill without debate or amendments. “I think we invite all Floridians to get involved in the work that we do by simply beginning with the ethos of changing from punishment to public safety,” said Pizzo, a former prosecutor. According to a staff analysis, the primary purpose of the current code is to “punish the offender.”

Bill to stiffen penalties for firefighter killers clears first committee” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — A Senate committee passed a bill Tuesday that would stiffen criminal penalties against those who murder an on-duty firefighter. Under the proposal (SB 370), the convicted murderer of a firefighter would face the same consequences as a person who killed a police or correctional officer, life in prison without the possibility of parole. Sen. Ed Hooper, a former firefighter himself, is the bill sponsor. “Those that serve and protect us need to have the same protection when they are attacked and killed,” Hooper said. The Senate Criminal Justice Committee voted unanimously in favor of the bill. Lawmakers heard testimony from Randy Wise, a representative of the Florida Professional Firefighters Association.

VISIT FLORIDA extension clears first Senate panel” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — A Senate proposal to extend the life of VISIT FLORIDA to at least 2031 cleared its first panel Tuesday, with unanimous approval from the Committee on Commerce and Tourism. Republican Sen. Hooper‘s bill (SB 434) would postpone the sunset date for Florida’s tourism marketing agency from the current 2023 to 2031. “VISIT FLORIDA is as important to the economy and economic wealth of our state as any other endeavor that I can possibly think of,” said Hooper, who chairs the committee but handed the gavel to Republican Sen. Tom Wright for the SB 434 hearing. The Legislature has been keeping VISIT FLORIDA on a rolling, two-year life span, grudgingly moving the sunset clause forward every year.

‘Victims of Communism Day’ bill requiring public school lesson advances” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Legislation that would require the government and public schools to declare a “Victims of Communism Day” and include a lesson on the perils that form of government presents is now one step closer to becoming law. Members of the Senate Education Committee voted to advance a bill (SB 268) by Sen. Manny Diaz Jr. If enacted, the bill would require the state to recognize Nov. 7 as “Victims of Communism Day” and hold unspecified public demonstrations at the Capitol and elsewhere honoring “the 100 million people who fell victim to communist regimes across the world.” Beginning on Nov. 7, 2023, and continuing every Nov. 7 after that, U.S. government classes in public school under the proposal “must receive at least 45 minutes of instruction on Victims of Communism Day.

Manny Diaz makes headway with his ‘Victims of Communism Day.’

Senate school bus service expansion advances despite driver dearth — A Senate Education Committee advanced a bill (SB 270) Tuesday that would require school districts to bus students who live more than 1 mile away from their school, rather than the current two-mile radius. Andrew Atterbury of POLITICO Florida reported that the bill would require pickups for an estimated 193,000 more schoolchildren and comes amid a labor crunch in school bus depots across the state. The plan will also cost school districts an extra $184.5 million if the Legislature doesn’t help cover the tab. Currently, school bus service already costs districts more than what the state provides. Though it didn’t support or oppose it, the Florida Association of District School Superintendents said the bill could worsen an already difficult situation.

Gabriella Passidomo nomination passes first Senate panel” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — A Senate panel gave the first OK Tuesday for Passidomo to serve on the Public Service Commission. Among those casting yea-votes was Passidomo’s mother. Passidomo is the daughter of Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, a Naples Republican who is the Senate President-designate and who sits on the Senate Regulated Industries Committee, the panel that heard Gabriella Passidomo’s confirmation on Tuesday. DeSantis appointed Gabriella Passidomo to be a commissioner in May, selecting her from a pool of nine applicants. The position pays nearly $136,000 per year.

Senate Democrats change rules on booting members — Senate Democrats adopted new rules that would allow the caucus to expel members for “violating a caucus position or impugning the integrity of the caucus.” As reported by Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida, the changes come after Sens. Gary Farmer and Lauren Book engaged in a bitter feud last Session that resulted in the caucus removing Farmer and installing Book as Democratic Leader. The old rules, in place since 2016, allowed removal for “good cause” but lacked details. Sen. Lori Berman, the caucus rules chair, said the rewrite was overdue. Farmer claims he was the only member to vote against the change. Book wouldn’t say if the overhaul was a direct result of the feud, but said it was a “really smart and insightful thing” for the caucus to reexamine the rules.

Personnel note: Michael Wickersheim moves to Department of Elder Affairs Wickersheim is leaving his post as the Florida Department of Children and Families’ legislative affairs director for the Chief of Staff job at the Department of Elder Affairs. Wickersheim is a veteran government affairs professional with a broad portfolio of experience in state government. Before DCF, he spent three years working at the Florida Department of Transportation, most of it as its deputy legislative affairs director. He also served as now-Sen. Jeff Brandes’ campaign manager when he first ran for the House. He then worked as a legislative assistant to the St. Petersburg Republican. Wickersheim earned his bachelor’s degree from Troy University.

— TALLY 2 —

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Susan Anderson: Florida Health Care Association

Taylor Biehl, Capitol Alliance Group: Florida Agencies Serving the Blind

Andrea Gheen, PinPoint Results: SEIU 1199 United Health Care Workers

Elizabeth Guzzo: Office of the Attorney General

Neisha-Rose Hines: ACLU of Florida

Scott Jenkins, Delegal Aubuchon Consulting: Teaching Hospital Council of Florida

Lori Killinger, Kasey Lewis, Chris Lyon, Lewis Longman & Walker: Florida Osteopathic Medical Association

Brittanie Lee: Broward County

Joseph Salzverg, GrayRobinson: Atlantic Housing Partners

Rhoda Washington: Information Technology Industry Council

Legislative committee meeting schedule:

— The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee meets to consider SB 156, from Sen. Doug Broxson, to change to “loss run statements” related to insurance claims, paid losses and other issues, 8:30 a.m., Room 412 of the Knott Building.

— The Senate Community Affairs Committee meets to consider SB 224, from Sen. Joe Gruters, to permit local governments to restrict smoking at public parks and beaches, 8:30 a.m., Room 37 of the Senate Office Building.

— The Senate Transportation Committee meets for an update about legislative priorities of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, 8:30 a.m., Room 110 of the Senate Office Building.

— The House Infrastructure and Tourism Appropriations Subcommittee meets for an update from the Department of State about Help America Vote Act grants, 9 a.m., Reed Hall of the House Office Building.

— The House Secondary Education and Career Development Subcommittee meets for an update from the Department of Education about truancy, 9 a.m., Room 212 of the Knott Building.

— The House Agriculture & Natural Resources Appropriations Subcommittee meets for an update from the Department of Environmental Protection on the Florida Forever land conservation program, 11 a.m., Morris Hall of the House Office Building.

— The House Early Learning and Elementary Education Subcommittee meets for an update from the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability about transparency in school curricula and instruction, 11 a.m., Reed Hall of the House Office Building.

— The House Professions and Public Health Subcommittee meets for an update on medical marijuana research, 11 a.m., Room 212 of the Knott Building.

— The Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee meets for an update on state fleet-management issues, 11:30 a.m., Room 37 of the Senate Office Building.

— The Senate Health Policy Committee meets to consider SB 312, from Chair Diaz Jr., to make changes in state telehealth laws, including rules on prescribing controlled substances through telehealth, 11:30 a.m., Room 412 of the Knott Building.

— The House Finance & Facilities Subcommittee meets for an update from the Agency for Health Care Administration on medical quality issues, 2 p.m., Morris Hall of the House Office Building.

— The House Government Operations Subcommittee meets for an update about the role of the chief inspector general and agency inspectors general, 2 p.m., Room 404 of the House Office Building.

— The House PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee meets for an update on school choice programs, 2 p.m., Reed Hall of the House Office Building.

— The Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee will receive a report about increases in mental-health and substance-abuse funding, 2:30 p.m., Room 412 of the Knott Building.

— The Senate Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee meets for an update about the Department of Transportation’s five-year work program, 2:30 p.m., Room 110 of the Senate Office Building.

— The House Congressional Redistricting Subcommittee meets for an update about redistricting law, 4 p.m., Morris Hall of the House Office Building.

— The House State Legislative Redistricting Subcommittee meets for an update about redistricting law, 4 p.m., Room 404 of the House Office Building.


UF restricted five other professors’ participation in legal cases against the state” via Ana Ceballos and Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — Last year, four University of Florida law professors who wanted to sign a “friend of the court” brief in a lawsuit challenging a new felons’ voting law were told that they could not identify themselves as university faculty members in the filing because it involved “an action against the state.” In August, university officials told a UF professor of pediatrics that he couldn’t work on two cases challenging the state’s ban on mask mandates because participating in lawsuits against DeSantis’ administration would “create a conflict” for the university. And on Monday, UF announced that three political science professors can only provide expert testimony in a voting access case against the state if they do it without pay.

The current UF dust-up with professors is nothing new.

DeSantis and allies want credit for his boom-to-bust coronavirus numbers. But the drop is hardly unusual.” via Aaron Blake of The Washington Post — Supporters of DeSantis are still waiting for his apology. Weeks after Florida endured one of the worst pandemic outbreaks, the state has seen cases decline substantially, so much so that it currently ranks 50th in the country in per capita cases. DeSantis has greeted it by playing to vaccination-mandate critics and, quite arguably, to vaccine skeptics writ large. That has included elevating vaccine-skeptic Joseph Ladapo, who allied with a fringe group of doctors and recently questioned the vaccines’ safety and efficacy at a news conference, to be Florida’s surgeon general. If anything, doing that would seem to jeopardize future attempts to claim Florida as a coronavirus-combating success story.

Nikki Fried: DeSantis ‘manufactured’ vax mandate fight for ‘extremist base’” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Fried is labeling the Special Session on vaccine mandates an “extremist proxy war” for DeSantis. After beginning a news conference Tuesday with a moment of silence, Fried told reporters the Governor couldn’t even honor the nearly 60,000 Floridians who died from COVID-19 with a 60-second recognition. “It’s a disgrace for the Governor to (be) taking a victory lap when so many preventable deaths happened on his watch,” she said. Fried, the lone Democrat elected statewide and a gubernatorial candidate, denounced the Governor’s proclamation for a Special Session as his latest in a series of “taxpayer-funded stunts” to “score political points for his future presidential run.” Democrats say the Special Session could cost the state nearly $1 million.

Judge orders ‘informal remediation’ between Health Department, plaintiffs of COVID-19 data lawsuit” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — The Florida Department of Health and plaintiffs in a lawsuit seeking daily COVID-19 data that the state once published online must meet this week to clarify their wishes and potentially reach a resolution, the judge overseeing the case ordered. Judge John Cooper of the 2nd Judicial Circuit ordered Rick Figlio of law firm Ausley McMullen, representing the state, and Andrea Mogensen of the Florida Center for Government Accountability (FLCGA) to engage in “informal remediation” no later than noon Friday. Cooper did not stipulate that the two parties must reach a resolution, only that they explain to each other what their respective positions and wants are in advance of a final hearing scheduled Nov. 9-10.

Florida COVID-19 update: Where the death toll stands in your county as 2,000 new cases added” via Devoun Cetoute of the Miami Herald — Florida reported 2,000 COVID-19 cases and two new deaths on Monday. In all, Florida has recorded at least 3,652,637 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 59,499 deaths. On average, the state has added 81 deaths and 1,619 cases per day in the past seven days. Florida had a death rate of 277 cumulative deaths per 100,000 people since the start of the pandemic. Two weeks ago, the state had a death rate of 269 deaths per 100,000 people.

The cost of the pandemic: How Tampa Bay lost billions from COVID-19” via Jay Cridlin and Ian Hodgson of the Tampa Bay Times — What did the coronavirus cost Tampa Bay? Can you put a financial price on what we lost? Tampa Bay Times reporters surveyed eight counties: Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando, Citrus, Polk, Manatee and Sarasota, home to 5 million people, about 23% of Florida’s population. It’s rough math. No formula can calculate the economic impact on a scale this severe, mainly because the numbers are still changing. But crunching the bigger numbers — using $5 trillion in government aid as a guidestar — got in the ballpark.

‘Mistaken determination’: Leon County files challenge to state fine over COVID-19 vaccine mandate” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — Leon County has challenged a multimillion dollar fine leveled by the state over its vaccine mandate on county employees. The 23-page filing by attorneys with Tallahassee firm Greenberg Traurig was filed with the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings. It disputes the $3.57 million fine issued by the state’s Department of Health last month. Before that, DeSantis said he would begin fining local governments $5,000 per employee for any vaccination requirements implemented. In all, 14 county employees were fired for not being vaccinated by the Oct. 1 deadline.

Miami-Dade school district relaxes masks for high school, middle school students” via David Goodhue of the Miami Herald — After more than a year of masking their children so they could attend school amid COVID-19, parents of Miami-Dade public high school and middle school students can opt-out of the district’s mask mandate, effective immediately, district officials said Monday. “We have improved significantly. We have listened to our health experts. That is why we are relaxing these protocols,” Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said at a news conference Monday afternoon. Elementary school students and students in the district’s 54 kindergarten through eighth grade schools will still have to wear masks, but that may change within weeks if COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths continue to plummet in South Florida, Carvalho said.

Miami-Dade Schools are taking masks down a notch.

Palm Beach County close to ditching mask requirements as COVID-19 cases decline” via Wells Dusenbury of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Amid a steady decline in COVID-19 cases, masks may soon become optional if you’re visiting the DMV, the tax collector’s office, or any other Palm Beach County government building. County Commissioners agreed on Tuesday to rescind their required mask-wearing inside county-operated buildings. The county, however, has yet to specify a date for when that will occur. According to CDC guidelines, that happens when the cases per 100,000 people fall below 50. Palm Beach County currently has a 59.1 weekly average, down from 96.2 a month ago. That means the order could go into effect within a few weeks if the weekly cases in Palm Beach County fall below that threshold.

— 2022 —

By the numbers: A look at Dems, GOP drops in Florida voter registration rolls” via Logan Dragone of the Orlando Sentinel — Active registered voters have dropped off from last year because of Florida’s voter roll removal rules. There were 286,721 fewer active registered voters on August 31, 2021, compared to Dec. 31, 2020, eight months. Statewide, Republican and Democrat active voters saw average decreases, and voters with no party affiliation saw a small increase of 0.35%. Democrats fared the worst from this list maintenance, losing 4.21% of their registered voters from 2020, while Republicans only lost 1.34%. One interesting outlier among all of the state’s counties is Gilchrist, which saw 17.68% less active Democrats in 2021, and 15.71% fewer voters with no party affiliation. All other counties showed less than 10% change among any party affiliation.

Florida’s redistricting process can’t intentionally favor one party, only by accident” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Much of a Tuesday meeting of the House Redistricting Committee centered around the question of what, exactly, constitutes partisan mapmaking. “It all comes back to intent,” said Andy Bardos, outside counsel from GrayRobinson, in a presentation to the Redistricting Committee. So, what can lawmakers consider? Existing boundaries like city limits and county lines have been viewed by courts as a legitimate guide for political cartographers. The same goes for rivers, roads, and railroad tracks. If a voter can easily tell what district they live in based on a landmark, that’s easier to defend in court than an arbitrary divide. The district cannot take into account the address of incumbent lawmakers, and the Legislature may end up drawing sitting members into the same jurisdictions, committee leaders warned.

If Florida redistricting favors a Party, that is completely by accident. Image via Colin Hackley.

Garrett Dennis joins race for Florida House District 13” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Dennis has joined the race for the House District 13 seat to be vacated by Rep. Tracie Davis. Dennis, who is in his second term on the Council representing the sprawling District 9, filed Monday. He joins Iris Hinton in the Democratic Primary. Hinton, a 71-year-old newcomer to elected politics, has been in the race since August but has yet to raise any money. Davis has filed to succeed term-limited Sen. Audrey Gibson in Senate District 6. Dennis won his first term in District 9, which is north and west of the St. Johns River, in 2015 and his reelection in 2019 with 60% of the vote. No Republicans ran either time in what is a strong majority Democratic district.

Lake Elections Supervisor Alan Hays to GOP election-fraud claims: ‘PUT UP OR SHUT UP!!’” via Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — Irritated by Lake County Republican leaders who want a forensic audit of the 2020 vote and who allege the “entire election system is fraught with flaws,” Elections Supervisor Alan Hays, a longtime member of the GOP, posted a rebuttal on his official website Tuesday, demanding they “PUT UP OR SHUT UP!!” ”As an election professional, I find it disturbing that some of our citizenry continues to promote a narrative that is unsubstantiated in fact or example,” he wrote. Hays, a former state legislator, defended the elections in Florida and Lake, where he has served as supervisor since January 2017. He posted the lengthy “News Bulletin” on as citizens in five Lake cities went to the polls to choose municipal leaders, including a Mayor in Mount Dora.

Now hiring — Progress Florida is seeking candidates for two upper-level roles: Digital Director and Digital Organizer. The Organizer will work closely with the Florida Communications and Research Hub, Floridians for Reproductive Freedom Coalition, and the state’s leading progressive organizations. The Director is a senior leadership position to help promote progressive values through organizing, media outreach, new and traditional communications strategies and tactics, and working with progressive groups across the state. Think you have what it takes? Get more information on responsibilities and necessary qualifications by visiting Progress Florida Digital Organizer or Digital Director.


U.S. gives final clearance to COVID-19 shots for kids 5 to 11” via Lauran Neergard and Mike Stobbe of The Associated Press — U.S. health officials on Tuesday gave the final signoff to Pfizer’s kid-size COVID-19 shot, a milestone that opens a major expansion of the nation’s vaccination campaign to children as young as 5. The FDA already authorized the shots for children ages 5 to 11, doses just a third of the amount given to teens and adults. But the CDC formally recommends who should receive FDA-cleared vaccines. The announcement by CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky came only hours after an advisory panel unanimously decided Pfizer’s shots should be opened to the 28 million youngsters in that age group.

Military vaccine deadline: Clash begins with troops who refuse shots” via Paul D. Shinkman of U.S. News and World Report — The Air Force had discharged 40 service members and is now preparing to address the thousands of others who failed to get a coronavirus vaccination before the Nov. 1 deadline officials imposed, becoming the first branch to execute what military leaders consider an essential protective measure but one that critics believe will undermine America’s ability to defend itself. “Now that the deadline has passed, there’s a clear line to begin holding people accountable,” Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said. The population of discharged airmen and “guardians” from the Space Force has been relatively new trainees. Almost two dozen of them were in basic training when they refused to take the vaccine, and the remaining 17 were undergoing technical training where new enlistees learn their military specialties.

Some troops are willing to battle over vaccines. Image via U.S. Army.

As U.S. reopening approaches, travelers take their marks” via Concepción de León of The New York Times — When the Biden administration announced that vaccinated foreign travelers would be allowed to enter the United States starting Nov. 8, it was as if a starting gun had been fired. Skyscanner, a travel booking site, saw an 800% spike in bookings the day after the announcement. In the week after the administration confirmed the date travelers could arrive, Expedia, the online booking site, saw a 28% increase in searches for U.S. hotels from the United Kingdom and a 24% increase from France. Experts said that the U.S. reopening signaled to American travelers that they could leave their homes this coming holiday season, too. Searches for outbound international travel on the booking application Hopper, for instance, have increased by 24% since the announcement.


From Boeing to Mercedes, a U.S. worker rebellion swells over vaccine mandates” via Tina Bellon and Eric M. Johnson of Reuters — The clock is ticking for companies that want to continue gaining federal contracts under an executive order by Biden, which requires all contractor employees be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 8. The mandate has stirred protests from workers in industries across the country, as well as from Republican state officials. Opposition to the mandate could potentially lead to thousands of U.S. workers losing their jobs and imperil an already sluggish economic recovery, union leaders, workers and company executives said. More legal clashes are likely over how companies decide requests for vaccination exemptions. For the companies, time is getting tight, though the Biden administration has signaled federal contractors will not have to immediately lay off unvaccinated workers who miss the Dec. 8 deadline.

U.S. workers are poised for rebellion. Image via Reuters.


The big question this Thanksgiving: Are you vaccinated?“ via Christina Morales of The New York Times — Many Americans thinking about hosting or attending a bigger Thanksgiving celebration this year are considering a question that has become sensitive and often polarizing: Will they and other guests be vaccinated? In interviews, many vaccinated and unvaccinated people said they were planning to tiptoe around the subject, in some cases avoiding a meal with those they might disagree with. Others, who are immunocompromised or have children too young to be vaccinated, are grappling with how to decline invitations from unvaccinated relatives. And some hosts, worried about safety, are drawing a line.

Oh great, another thing to fight over on Thanksgiving. Image via Flickr.

Newsmax defends vaccines in rebuke of its own reporter’s ‘false claims’” via Dominick Mastrangelo of The Hill — Conservative news network Newsmax issued a pair of statements Tuesday distancing itself from “false claims” about coronavirus vaccines made by one of its correspondents. Emerald Robinson, a White House correspondent for the outlet, sent out a tweet Monday that erroneously claimed the vaccines “contain a bioluminescent marker called LUCIFERASE so that you can be tracked.” Elliot Jacobson, executive vice president and chief content officer at Newsmax, said in a statement that the network is “a strong proponent that COVID-19 vaccines are overarchingly safe and effective.” In a separate statement to The Hill on Tuesday, Newsmax reiterated that it does not believe “the vaccines contain any toxic materials or tracking markers” and noted that “such false claims have never been reported on Newsmax.”


As Joe Biden leaves Glasgow with progress on climate change, the most important goals remain elusive.” via Dan Bilefsky of The New York Times — Biden and other world leaders left the United Nations climate change summit on Tuesday with agreements to curb emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and to end deforestation by 2030. But while the progress was notable, it still fell well short of the big prize: securing aggressive commitments to reach net-zero carbon emissions globally, to slow the rising temperatures that have led to lethal fires, floods, droughts and heat waves around the world. It also remains to be seen whether richer, polluting countries will follow through on their promises to provide $100 billion a year to help developing countries to fight global warming — a goal that John Kerry, the U.S. special climate envoy, said on Tuesday was within reach.

Joe Biden gets some gains on climate change, but the big prize is still out of reach.


House vote on Biden’s agenda imperiled by moderate Democrats” via Billy House and Erik Wasson of Bloomberg — A handful of fiscally conservative House Democrats threaten to torpedo Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s plans to vote on Biden’s $1.75 trillion economic agenda this week even as the fractious Party coalesces around deals on drug pricing and the state and local tax deduction. But with the narrowest of majorities and only three votes to spare, Pelosi’s plans for a swift vote could be scuttled by at least five Blue Dog Democrats who said they wouldn’t support the legislation without more deficit information from the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation. The Blue Dogs, which includes U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, also said they want the final text of the bill “posted at least 72 hours before its consideration” so they can review the bill.

Stephanie Murphy’s defiant long game to keep Dems in power” via Sarah Ferris of POLITICO — Rep. Stephanie Murphy wasn’t always the kind of centrist Democrat willing to publicly take on the leaders of her own party. That’s changed in the narrowest House majority in decades. Murphy has emerged as one of the most vocal critics of President Joe Biden’s chaotic attempts to clear both his infrastructure and social spending plans through Congress, embracing a blunt manner that’s made her a spokesperson of sorts for her party’s small but feisty moderate wing.

Moderates like Stephanie Murphy need more time to consider the Build Back Better plan. Image via Facebook.

Democrats add drug cost curbs to social policy plan, pushing for vote” via Jonathan Weisman and Emily Cochrane of The New York Times — House Democrats reached a deal on Tuesday to add a measure to curb prescription drug costs to Biden’s $1.85 trillion social safety net plan, agreeing to allow the government for the first time to negotiate prices for medications covered by Medicare as they pushed for a quick vote on the bill. The prescription drug deal is limited. Most drugs would still be granted patent exclusivity for nine years before negotiations could start, and more complex drugs, called biologics, would be protected for 12 years. But for the first time, Medicare would be able to step in after those periods, even if drug companies acquire patent extensions or otherwise game the patent system.

Congress hits ‘standstill’ as December shutdown, debt cliff near” via Jennifer Scholtes and Caitlin Emma of POLITICO — Government funding expires in one month, and bickering top lawmakers are already forecasting another autopilot spending bill to prevent a December shutdown. Democrats and Republicans can’t even agree on how to begin negotiations. “We’re at a standstill,” Sen. Richard Shelby said as he exited a meeting Tuesday between the two Senate appropriations leaders and their two House counterparts. It was the first “four corners” meeting of the fiscal year. “Then make an offer!” Senate Appropriations Chair Patrick Leahy retorted about his Republican counterpart’s grievances with the funding plans Democrats have offered. The next shutdown threat hits at midnight on Dec. 3, when federal cash stops flowing from the temporary spending patch Congress enacted to keep the government funded after the new fiscal year started on Oct. 1.


Tweet, tweet:

Sanford firefighter pleads guilty in Capitol riot case” via Desiree Stennett of the Orlando Sentinel — Sanford firefighter Andrew Williams has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge for his role in the U.S. Capitol riot, as part of a plea deal that could put him behind bars for up to six months. Williams changed his plea at a Tuesday morning hearing. According to court documents detailing the plea agreement’s terms, the charge he pleaded to, parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building, also carries a fine of up to $5,000. His sentencing is scheduled for Jan. 27, 2022. Williams was arrested on Jan. 12, less than a week after the attempted insurrection. He was also placed on unpaid leave by the Sanford Fire Department, where he has worked since 2016.


Brad Raffensperger book details Trump’s pressure to alter Georgia election” via Mark Niesse of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution — Raffensperger, Georgia’s Secretary of State, was sitting at his kitchen table with his wife when Trump called with an urgent demand: Change the election results. Details of that famous call in January are the centerpiece of Raffensperger’s book published Tuesday, “Integrity Counts.” Raffensperger’s account of the call could be used as part of ongoing criminal investigations and congressional hearings. Trump’s phone call is now being reviewed by a Fulton County grand jury to consider whether to bring charges against him that could include criminal solicitation.

Donald Trump was threatening Brad Raffensperger when he asked him to help ‘find’ enough votes to win in Georgia. Image via AP.

Trump: Until recently Israel ‘literally owned Congress’ and that was a good thing” via Ron Kampeas of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency — Trump told a conservative Jewish radio host that Israel until recently “literally owned Congress,” a claim similar to those that have triggered accusations of antisemitism against other politicians. As he discussed U.S. policy in the region, Trump pivoted to what he believed was the “biggest change” he had seen recently. He blamed the influence of a group of Democratic Congress members on the Party’s left, who have been harshly critical of Israel and have called for a reduction in U.S. defense assistance to the country. He named Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.

Trump’s PAC offers ‘iconic’ Christmas wrapping paper bearing his likeness for $35+ donations” via David Caplan of 1010 WINS — With just 54 days until Christmas, Trump’s political action committee, Save America, is enticing supporters of the former President to donate more than $35 in exchange for “Official Trump Wrapping Paper.” “President Trump asked us to personally reach out to you because he wants to make sure you get our NEW Trump Gift Wrapping Paper in time for Christmas,” an email sent to supporters Monday reads. The wrapping paper is apparently an exclusive item, as well: “We haven’t released this to the general public yet, so for today ONLY you can get our iconic Trump Gift Wrapping Paper before ANYONE ELSE,” continues the plea for donations. Among those who took to the Twittersphere was retiring Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger. “A fool and his money,” he tweeted.

Ho, ho, ho.


UF, seeking status in academia, is blasted by its own faculty leaders” via Divya Kumar of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida’s flagship university had attained a long-coveted spot among the nation’s academic elite, tied with two other schools for No. 5 in U.S. News & World Report’s annual ranking of public universities. Fuchs credited state leaders for the university’s ascent. But another big factor, accounting for 20% of its score, was UF’s “academic reputation” based on surveys sent to more than 4,700 academics around the nation over the previous two years. Now, leaders of the university’s own faculty, joined by other academic voices, are questioning that reputation after the school barred three of its professors from testifying for the plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging Florida’s new voting laws.

Fried urges DEP, feds to block drilling permit — Fried sent a letter to Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Shawn Hamilton and National Park Service deputy director Shawn Benge urging them to reject an oil drilling permit application submitted by Trend Exploration. Ritchie of POLITICO Florida reported that the letter asked the U.S. Department of the Interior to flex its authority in the Big Cypress watershed to block the permit. “For decades, it has been clear that oil drilling, fossil fuel exploration, hydraulic fracturing, and related processes are highly detrimental to their surrounding environments,” the letter reads. The application, submitted in March, is currently being reviewed by DEP. The department must act on the application by Nov. 7.

Oil drilling in Big Cypress? Nikki Fried says no way.

Nursing shortage hits a crisis point in Florida, and it is taking a toll, leaders say” via Cindy Krischer Goodman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — In an unusual collaboration, leaders from Florida nursing homes and hospitals joined forces on Monday to report nurse staffing is at crisis levels and affecting patient care. These employers say their staff has been decimated from a combination of burnout, early retirement, and staffing agencies who recruit their workers to travel, and the result is a negative toll on the care of millions of Floridians. Employers such as nursing homes, hospitals, home health care agencies and assisted living facilities spoke out about the “crisis” during Monday’s news conference. They focused much of the blame on staffing agencies that offer nurses higher salaries and an increase in the minimum wage that caused workers to leave for other jobs.

The Magic touch: Basketball legend Magic Johnson advocates for mental health in Tallahassee” via Rory Sharrock of the Tallahassee Democrat — Johnson has lent his voice to multiple positive platforms across the globe. On Tuesday at the Historic Capitol inside the Senate Chamber, he spoke openly about the stigma of mental health during the panel event “A Discussion with Student-Athletes on Mental Health.” “Young people need us to guide them and help them,” Johnson said. Johnson spoke for over an hour, engaging with high school and college athletes about the pandemic, social media, and building strong communication bonds to counter mental health concerns.

Magic Johnson talks about mental health in Tallahassee. Image via The Workmans.


City Council, choosing ignorance, moves to keep Confederate monument on display” via Nate Monroe of The Florida Times-Union — Jacksonville has come a long way in 50 years, only to end up back where it started. There is something for every kind of voter, from the most engaged to the least aware, to be hopping mad about. Three Jacksonville City Council committees this week voted against the removal of a Confederate monument in Springfield Park, virtually assuring the effort to wipe such dedications from public property, which Mayor Lenny Curry began last year, will remain a stained half-measure, abetted by a toxic mix of ignorance and indifference.

The Confederate monument in Springfield Park stays. Image via News4Jax.

Personnel note: Leeann Krieg to succeed Jordan Elsbury as Lenny Curry’s Chief of Staff Elsbury will exit city government after seven years working in the Mayor’s office. “As Mayor, it has been an honor to have Jordan as part of my administration. His leadership ability is second to none, and his willingness to conquer any task, no matter how complex, is steadfast,” Curry said in a news release. The Mayor also announced that he had tapped Krieg, the current Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, to succeed Elsbury as Chief of Staff. Krieg has worked in City Hall for nine years, the past three of which were in the Curry administration. “Leeann has been a port in the storm during her tenure in my administration and it is with great pleasure I announce that we will continue to be working together as her role within my office expands,” Curry said.

Longtime St. Johns County Commissioner Jeb Smith resigns to serve as Farm Bureau president” via Sheldon Gardner of the St. Augustine Record — Smith resigned at Tuesday’s County Commission meeting to serve as the Florida Farm Bureau president. Smith was first elected in 2014 and served in the District 2 seat, which includes much of rural St. Johns County. DeSantis will appoint someone to serve out the remainder of Smith’s term, and the seat is up for election in 2022. So far, one person has filed to run for the spot: LaShawnda Pinkney, a West Augustine resident and human resources generalist with the City of St. Augustine. Delegates at the 2021 Florida Farm Bureau Annual Meeting elected Smith to serve a two-year term as president of the organization.

Medley Councilwoman charged with stealing food donated to local football legend’s charity” via David Ovalle and Charles Rabin of the Miami Herald — For years, Medley councilwoman Ana Lilia Stefano ran the Santana Moss Foundation, a charity established by the former University of Miami and NFL star. But prosecutors say that unbeknown to Moss, she used the foundation as her own piggy bank, accepting food donations before turning around and selling them. And that’s not all; investigators believe she used a sizable chunk of money from the foundation’s bank account to gamble at the Miccosukee and Seminole casinos. Stefano surrendered to police on Tuesday, charged with an organized scheme to defraud and felony grand theft. She was jailed at the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center and posted bond to await trial.

‘Let’s go Brandon’: Second banner joins ‘Trump Won’ banner on Seagrove Beach house” via Jim Thompson of Northwest Florida Daily News — Just as he said he would, Marvin Peavy has installed a second massive politically conservative-themed banner on his House along Walton County Road 30A. The latest banner, reading “Let’s go, Brandon,” went up Saturday, and like the “Trump Won” banner that preceded it, stretches down three stories of the Georgia businessman’s House, where he lives four days each week. Also, like the “Trump Won” banner, the “Let’s go Brandon” banner — the phrase is a euphemism for “F*** Joe Biden” — could get Peavy another citation and potentially more daily $50 fines for violating Walton County land development code provisions prohibiting certain types of signage on properties immediately adjacent to CR 30A under its local designation as a scenic corridor.

Marvin Peavy doubles down.

Disney’s Lake Nona move means big gains for company but likely staff losses, too” via Katie Rice of the Orlando Sentinel — Disney’s move cements Central Florida’s status as the center of the theme park world, industry professionals say, and the local economy is already seeing signs of growth because of the relocation fueled in part by $570 million in state tax breaks. But it also signals a huge transition for Disney’s operations, and some workers will likely stay behind in California. Disney is providing support and relocation assistance to employees whose jobs are moving. Those who choose not to relocate might not necessarily lose their employment with the company, as Disney is working with people on an individual basis to look for other internal opportunities. The company has not stated the specific number of positions moving to Lake Nona, but the jobs make up less than 5% of The Walt Disney Co.’s California staffing.

Video platform Rumble announces HQ move to Sarasota County” via Jay Cridlin of the Tampa Bay Times — Rumble, an online video hosting service that has become a major platform for conservatives and right-wing media figures, including Trump, is coming to Tampa Bay. The company announced Thursday that it’s relocating its U.S. headquarters from New York to Longboat Key, near Sarasota, and plans to invest $50 million in the state in the coming years. Founded in Toronto in 2013, the platform has exploded in popularity of late among online conservatives. Rumble hosts channels run by popular right-wing figures like Sean Hannity and Charlie Kirk, as well as pop-culture figures like Dr. Drew Pinsky.

County slams door on island incorporation” via David Adlerstein of The Apalachicola Times — By a unanimous vote, Franklin County Commissioners rejected a request from a member of the working group that advocates for incorporation to place a nonbinding referendum on the August 2022 Primary ballot, for a vote open to all residents of the island. Shannon Bothwell, one of the members of the St. George Island Citizen Working Group, said that while such a “straw poll” vote is not mandated by the statutory requirement for incorporation, it would come at no cost to voters. Rep. Jason Shoaf had asked for such a vote before he would back a bill in the Florida Legislature in spring 2023 that would allow for a formal, binding referendum on incorporation by island voters sometime after that.

‘Can’t choose your landlord’: Commissioner Jeremy Matlow, J.T. Burnette share contractual ties” via TaMaryn Waters of the Tallahassee Democrat — Tallahassee City Commissioner Matlow is a sharp critic of convicted businessman Burnette — although they have a contractual connection. Burnette is Matlow’s landlord.  Matlow’s two businesses — Gaines Street Pies and the Warhorse Whiskey Bar — occupy units at the complex known as “The Garages on Gaines Street,” owned by the 603 West Gaines Partnership. The company’s property is owned by Dean Minardi and Burnette, whose home address in the Bobbin Trace subdivision is listed as the entity’s address, according to property records.


Joe Henderson: OK, Welch, you won, so whaddya got?” via Florida Politics — Congratulations are in order for Welch, the man St. Petersburg voters resoundingly selected as their city’s next Mayor. OK, enough with the congratulations. It’s showtime, Mr. Mayor-to-be. Whaddya got? Got a plan to keep the Rays at least in the Bay area? Let’s hear it. What’s your answer about what to do with Tropicana Field? What will you do about the skyrocketing rental rates? Sure, you’ll have plenty of problems to solve, and it’s different when it’s your call. Not everything you have to do will be popular, but that’s how they play the game. Don’t forget that the people picked you. You won because they trust you to make things better. Do your best to prove them right.


A Special Session for DeSantis to run against Biden” via Randy Schultz of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Perhaps Florida’s new surgeon general wrote the proclamation for the Legislature’s Special Session on vaccine mandates. Ladapo, who (at least on paper) has a medical degree, is a COVID-19 vaccine skeptic who also claims that masks don’t reduce virus spread. One paragraph in the proclamation, which came from the Governor’s office, lies about masks and attempts to rewrite history. Florida did offer in-person learning when schools reopened in August 2020. But most students were taking classes remotely. DeSantis and Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran could have worked with school districts on reopening safely. Instead, they just badgered them. There was no great “success.”

UF’s attack on academic freedom exposes a partisan agenda” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — The University of Florida has put the interests of DeSantis and the chairman of its board of trustees above the values of an institution dedicated to free inquiry, and it has been desperately trying to cram toothpaste back into a tube ever since. Three UF political science professors, all experts on voting, especially in Florida, had been hired by voting rights organizations suing the DeSantis administration over a new state law (SB 90) that includes new restrictions on drop boxes, voting by mail and other Republican-sponsored measures designed to make it harder to vote in Florida.

Silenced Florida professors must be allowed to testify” via James Fahey for the Orlando Sentinel — In response to the new elections law, a coalition of voting-rights groups sued the state in May — and to make their case, they sought the expert testimony of three professors in my department. UF denied their request to testify. In a statement explaining their decision, UF said they simply denied them the ability to “ … undertake paid work that is adverse to the university’s interests as a state of Florida institution.” Yet this is a distinction without a difference. UF and the Governor’s office are independent entities — the university is not a spoil to be won by whoever’s Party controls the levers in Tallahassee. What is best for DeSantis is not necessarily what is best for UF.

Redrawing Florida’s legislative districts should be done in public” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — There are few things voters have a greater vested interest in than legislative districts. Those lines and boundaries have a profound impact on political parties gaining and keeping power, candidates at all levels getting a fair shot and overall election fairness. So, there’s ample reason the maps and documents related to the once-in-a-decade process of redrawing legislative boundaries should be open under Florida’s public records law. Lawmakers should kill the current exemption that shields those records from public scrutiny. Democrats controlled the Legislature way back in 1993 when the public records exemption was carved out. Voters had recently approved a state constitutional amendment expanding Florida’s public records law. But lawmakers also got to write their own rules and exemptions to that law.

Alix Miller: This ain’t your grandaddy’s truck — time to redefine image of trucking” via Florida Politics — We have all heard about the truck driver shortage. Today, we need 80,000 drivers to fuel the current supply chain. In 10 years, we will need 1.1 million new drivers to replace retiring workers and meet consumer demands. We’ve got companies at the forefront of automated and electric vehicles battling to be the market leaders. Every year, trucking companies invest billions in advanced safety technologies in trucks to keep the driver and all motorists safe on our roads. These innovations won’t make truck drivers obsolete — but it does make it easier and safer to be a professional driver. The trucking industry is adapting to a rapidly changing business landscape, which means great opportunities for the next generation entering the field.

The job facing St. Petersburg Mayor-elect Welch” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — Welch’s election Tuesday as St. Petersburg’s next Mayor marks a new era for the Tampa Bay region. Welch needs to use his historic victory as a springboard to act, on housing, transportation, downtown development, and other major issues that define the metro area. He has the experience, local ties and connections to succeed. But voters also want to see a greater sense of urgency at City Hall and a more open governing style. The St. Petersburg native and five-term Pinellas County Commissioner handily defeated City Council member Robert Blackmon. With his victory, the son of the first Black man on St. Petersburg’s City Council has become St. Petersburg’s first Black Mayor, creating history himself in a city with a beleaguered history on race.

We have high hopes for Christine King on Miami Commission; Joe Carollo, not so much” via the Miami Herald editorial board — Carollo is back on the dais, bombast, bullying and all. Predictably, he bested three opponents to regain the seat. He didn’t want the Editorial Board’s recommendation, and we didn’t give it to him. And it’s a waste of time to give him any of our advice now. It’s no surprise King beat six other candidates, including incumbent Jeffrey Watson. King is backed by County Commissioner and previous District 5 Commissioner Keon Hardemon, whose family has dominated local politics for years. That connection seems to have paid off, with her raising a whopping $325,000, more than all the other candidates combined.


Agriculture Commissioner Fried is calling Gov. DeSantis’ Special Session a taxpayer-funded political stunt.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— VISIT FLORIDA funding requests sails through their first committee stop.

— And NBA legend Johnson made a return visit to Florida’s Capitol to tackle the topic of mental health.

To listen, click on the image below:

— ALOE —

Expressway Authority seeks 300 drivers to test crash-avoiding technology in Tampa” via C.T. Bowen of the Tampa Bay Times — The Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority is seeking volunteers as part of a $21 million research project intended to help reduce traffic crashes in the vicinity of downtown Tampa and elsewhere. Motorists who drive vehicles manufactured by Honda, Acura, Hyundai, Kia, or Toyota are being sought to test so-called connected vehicle technology. The equipped autos will use wireless communications to “talk” to other connected vehicles and roadside detectors to help avoid traffic crashes. The research is intended to document the safety, mobility, and environmental effects of connected vehicle technology. Tampa is one of three sites deploying the technology as part of a U.S. Department of Transportation program.


Happy birthday to Rep. Susan Valdes, former Rep. Delores Hogan Johnson, Clay Barker, UF president Ken Fuchs, Nicole Kelly of The Southern Group, Capital City Consulting’s Kenny Granger, and former Sen. Jack Latvala.


Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey and Drew Wilson.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as 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.


  • Tom

    November 3, 2021 at 7:27 am

    Big win for DeSantis and Florida, National GOP.
    Dems in Florida in disarray. Bad night for Crisp and Fraud.

    Florida GOP in strong position to sweep Florida state wide and down ballot. Re elect America’s Gov, Marco Senator, Florida GOP will add congressional House seats, St House and school boards. Total repudiation of Dems in Congress, Virginia and New Jersey, Dem strongholds.

    Nov/22 bigly.

  • Tom

    November 3, 2021 at 7:53 am

    Biggest loser:

    The so called scoundrel organization, “Lincoln” org. was dwelt a terrible blow with Virginia’s loss. Racist scoundrel tactics clearly back fired.

    Just a pathetic organization full of cons, liars and scoundrels.

    Just a joke org, big loser peter h.

    Florida GOP, America’s Gov and positioned to have a big year!

  • Lee M

    November 3, 2021 at 8:32 pm

    If they’ve been in office longer than four years vote him out! Look at politicians like David Smith he steals from the poor and gives to the rich!

  • Vinny Tooth

    November 3, 2021 at 8:33 pm

    Ms Hart only cares about destroying the prisons, vote her out!

  • Uncle Sam

    November 4, 2021 at 11:30 am

    David Smith will loose and loose big! He is a rino! Democrats hate him and so does the trump loving Americans of Geneva!

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

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