Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 11.10.21

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Good morning: Here's your first look at the issues behind today's Florida politics.

Good Wednesday morning.

Redistricting is about to get real.

The Senate Reapportionment Committee staff today will release to the public the first draft maps for congressional and legislative districts. That means a first chance to see the direction lawmakers may take in defining the boundaries governing the 2022 midterms, not to mention the next decade of Florida politics.

Ahead of that, Senate President Wilton Simpson issued a joint statement with Senate President-Designate Kathleen Passidomo and Democratic Leader Lauren Book, a sort of bipartisan clarion call to keep calm and put personal politics aside.

Wilton Simpson and Kathleen Passidomo get real on redistricting.

“As Senators, we are frequently presented with situations where we must set aside our personal views and make decisions in keeping with the oath we each took to defend the constitution and laws of this state,” the memo reads.

“Nowhere is this responsibility more challenging than in redistricting, given that some of us may ultimately decide to vote for a map knowing the realities of that map are such that we will never be reelected. Some of us may choose to defer seeking reelection. Still others may decide to run against a current colleague who we know and respect.”

Indeed, the Senate map could well determine whether Book or Passidomo presides over the Senate next November. Passidomo is in line to succeed Simpson in the big office, but only if Republicans win a majority of seats, all 40 of which go up next year once new lines are signed into law.

Expect a host of watchdog groups to feast on the cartography once it reaches the public. The Fair Districts Coalition already has offered failing grades to Florida lawmakers on the transparency of the process thus far. That assessment spurred Sen. Ray Rodrigues, chair of the Senate Reapportionment Committee, to dismiss the feedback as input from a “Democrat-funded partisan entity.”

“It is no surprise they are unhappy with the process we have designed to guard against partisan influence,” he said. Notably, he made those comments after attending a fundraiser for Senate Republicans in Naples.

For its part, leadership from that group said the seriousness of lawmakers to remain politically neutral will face its first great test today. The maps drafted within the Legislature hold the answer to just how fair a process led by politicians with great stakes in the outcome can be.

“The proof is in the pudding,” said Ellen Freidin, CEO and general counsel of Fair Districts Now. “The proof is in the maps.”


U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist reeled in another $625,000 last month for his bid to return to the Governor’s Mansion.

The new numbers show a steady stream of funds heading to his campaign and committee accounts — he snagged more than $700,000 in August and reported $655,000 raised in September.

“I remain thankful for the outpouring of support I’ve received from Pensacola to Homestead in our mission to make sure every Floridian’s voice is heard in Tallahassee as we build a Florida that works for all,” Crist said.

Charlie Crist has another 625K reasons to smile.

“Our current Governor spends his time promoting his own political interests, not the interests of Floridians. Florida needs a Governor with a heart, who is focused on creating good jobs, a cleaner environment, better schools and a better tomorrow. I’m running to bring an end to this regime and put the people back in charge.”

With the October haul, Crist has about $3.18 million in the bank as he seeks to make a one-term Governor out of Republican Ron DeSantis, who formally launched his reelection campaign on Monday. The incumbent has more than $58 million on hand in his political committee.

But first, Crist will need to earn the Democratic nomination. That may be a skosh more difficult now that Sen. Annette Taddeo has made it a three-way race.

On Tuesday, Taddeo, who was Crist’s running mate in the 2014 Governor race, touted $650,000 raised in her first report since filing for Governor. Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, meanwhile, had about $3 million banked between her campaign and political committee at the end of September. Her October report is due today.


Florida LGBTQ rights advocates met White House staffers last week about anti-transgender legislation and the impacts it has had on communities in Florida.

Among the staffers tuned into the virtual round table was Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs Julie Rodriguez.

She and others heard from Sen. Shevrin Jones, Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, Equality Florida TransAction Director Nikole Parker, LGBTQI+ families and equality advocates about anti-trans laws passed in the 2021 Legislative Session.

Carlos Guillermo Smith and Shevrin Jones give the White House a firsthand account of discriminatory laws in Florida.

“Meeting participants expressed the pain and anguish they have felt in recent months and years and detailed the hurt caused by being targeted by their own state’s elected officials,” a White House spokesperson said.

“They also described the courage that many transgender youth and their families have shown advocating for equal rights and fair treatment. White House staff conveyed to the Floridians gathered that the President is on their side and will continue fighting until we reach full equality for all Americans, including the LGBTQI+ community in Florida.”


Fentrice Driskell named NewDEAL Leader — House Democratic Leader Designate Driskell was one of 20 leaders from across the country selected to join NewDEAL, a national network of state and local elected officials focused on passing progressive policy. Driskel was chosen from a pool of more than 1,750 nominations. The group said she stood out from the pack “because of her approach of bringing common-sense solutions to Florida’s most pressing challenges related to issues like public education, public safety, racial justice, and economic opportunity for all.” Driskell and other NewDEALers will gather for the organization’s annual Leaders Conference Nov. 17-19 to “discuss a forward-looking agenda for state and local Democrats and address simultaneous crises around public health, the economy, racial equity, climate change, and our democracy.”


@DaveWeigel: Can’t really blame Chris Sununu for wanting to be the god-king of a fun state instead of Vote #51 for some circuit court nominee

@LPDonovan: My semi-spicy take is that a GOP Senate majority is probably more likely today w/ no Sununu than was evident a week ago with the possibility of Sununu. Macro factors>>silver bullet. Would NRSC prefer to have both? Obviously. But I’d take the environment over the recruit any day.

@RepJoseOliva: Elected officials, are you advocates of Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau? If you don’t know, you are likely acting Rousseau, which is perpetual revolution. Find a foundational belief, ground yourself, and defend it; all else is a cork floating in a river and a grave danger to civil society.

@ChristinaPushaw: Last week, restaurant in Tallahassee. Drunk man “involved in The Process” tries to explain to me why I need to bribe pay-for-play Florida blogs for positive coverage. Lol have these folks paid any attention to Governor DeSantis at all?

@JoeMobleyJax: I’ve never been a big trash talker, but I must admit that I’m loving seeing my dear Gator fan friends tweeting about college basketball in early November.


Miami at FSU — 3; Special Session on vaccine mandates begins — 5; ExcelinEd National Summit on Education begins — 8; ‘Hawkeye’ premieres — 14; FSU vs. UF — 17; Florida Chamber 2021 Annual Insurance Summit begins — 21; Jacksonville special election to fill seat vacated by Tommy Hazouri’s death — 27; Steven Spielberg’s ’West Side Story’ premieres — 30; ’Spider-Man: No Way Home’ premieres — 30; ’The Matrix: Resurrections’ released — 42; ’The Book of Boba Fett’ premieres on Disney+ — 49; Private sector employees must be fully vaccinated or tested weekly — 55; CES 2022 begins — 56; NFL season ends — 60; 2022 Legislative Session starts — 62; Florida’s 20th Congressional District Election — 62; Special Elections in Senate District 33, House District 88 & 94 — 62; Florida TaxWatch’s 2022 State of the Taxpayer Day — 63; Joel Coen’s ’The Tragedy of Macbeth’ on Apple TV+ — 65; NFL playoffs begin — 66; XXIV Olympic Winter Games begins — 86; Super Bowl LVI — 95; Daytona 500 — 102; St. Pete Grand Prix — 107; ‘The Batman’ premieres — 114; ’Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 177; ’Top Gun: Maverick’ premieres — 198; ’Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 204; ’Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 240; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 252; ’Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 331; ‘Black Panther 2’ premieres — 366; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 369; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 401; ‘Captain Marvel 2’ premieres — 464; ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 625. ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 709; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 989.


Senate leaders issue rare bipartisan call for deliberate, fair redistricting” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Senate leaders issued a rare bipartisan message on the redistricting process Tuesday. In short: Stick to the law. In a joint memo from Simpson, Passidomo and Book, the legislative leaders called on Senators to carefully scrutinize and deliberate on proposed boundaries for congressional and House districts, and the lines determining where Senators themselves will run. The message comes a day before Senate Reapportionment Committee staff plans to release the first draft maps generated within the Legislature for the once-a-decade redistricting process.

Kathleen Passidomo and Lauren Book say redistricting should be a bipartisan affair.


Ron DeSantis announces $481M in water grants, teases ‘strong’ environmental budget” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — DeSantis and top environment officials unveiled $481 million in grants Tuesday to improve water quality and reduce nutrients in Florida waterways. The grants, announced at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park in Spring Hill, cover 103 projects statewide through the Department of Environmental Protection. The Governor told reporters water quality has been one of his top priorities. “We appreciate the fact that from day one of our administration, we’ve really been proactive,” DeSantis said. The vast majority of the spending, $394 million, is through the Wastewater Grant Program for 72 wastewater treatment improvements, including septic to sewer projects and upgrading for “advanced wastewater treatment.”

Ron DeSantis surpasses his expectations for the environment, clean water. Image via CNN.

Florida’s share of infrastructure bill is $19 billion, as DeSantis labels it ‘pork’” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — On Monday, DeSantis said the bill seemed to be “a lot of pork-barrel spending.” By Tuesday, his comments were largely about how Florida should have gotten more money. “It seems a disproportionate amount of money is going to New York and New Jersey and Florida is not getting a really significant share out of over a trillion dollars,” DeSantis said. “They’re saying we’re going to get, what? $20 billion? That’s not a lot compared to how big the state is.” DeSantis spokeswoman Christina Pushaw said the Governor’s office had not determined yet whether it would decline any specific federal funding, as former Republican Gov. Rick Scott did with a multibillion-dollar Orlando-to-Tampa high-speed rail project in 2011.

Will DeSantis give Tampa the transportation money it’s seeking?” via Charlie Frago of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida could receive $13 billion in federal funds to improve the state’s aging highways and $2.6 billion over five years to improve public transportation options, according to the White House. “We talked about mass transit options. We talked about the private CSX rail that we’ve discussed for years. And also the possibility of Brightline coming in,” said Kathy Castor, referring to a private rail operator that has announced plans to expand service to Tampa. Florida will be getting 4% of the infrastructure bill, Castor said, adding that a lot of transportation dollars have been spent in recent years in South Florida and Orlando. “We feel it is Tampa’s time. Right now, to get some funding for our transportation solutions,” Castor said.

Ashley Moody says nearly a half-million dollars was recovered from robocall ‘charity scam’” via Tampa Bay 10 — The state’s attorney general is urging Floridians to look out for scammers posing as charities after nearly half a million dollars was recovered during a deceptive robocall investigation. Attorney General Moody spoke about the alleged scam Tuesday afternoon from her office in Tampa. She explained how she led an effort to redirect funds she says were deceptively taken from generous Floridians. She says the money will now be going to legitimate organizations that will actually help people in need. These robocall scammers promised to give money to causes like helping “cancer patients, homeless veterans, and victims of house fires” when in reality they were keeping $0.90 on the dollar for themselves, the attorney general said.

Moody breaks with DeSantis, won’t say if ‘midnight flight’ led to Jacksonville killing” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Moody would not say Tuesday whether an undocumented immigrant charged with a murder in Jacksonville arrived in Florida on a federal flight, breaking with messaging from the Governor’s Office. DeSantis has said murder suspect Yery Noel Medina Ulloa came to America on a “midnight flight” authorized by the Joe Biden administration. However, Moody would not confirm or deny that position while appearing in a nationally televised interview. Instead, Moody offered a “non-answer.” “This is part of our suit where we are demanding that the federal government share this information with us,” Moody said, an answer that would suggest the state ultimately did not know how the accused murderer came to the state. In a follow-up answer, Moody again tried to deflect.

Is plan to competitively bid HMO coverage in state group health insurance program back in play?” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — The Department of Management Services has floated a proposal that — for purposes of procuring health maintenance organization coverage for state employees — divides the state into nine different regions. The proposed regulation lays the groundwork necessary to move ahead with a 2019 law that allows the state to competitively bid the HMO contracts in the multibillion-dollar state group health insurance program. The 2019 law allows the state to bid the contracts regionally and limit the number of HMOs awarded the contracts in each region. But Sen. Jeff Brandes, who chairs the Senate Governmental Operations Committee, says the state needs to do more than change its contracting practices. “Somebody needs to show me how we would save a bunch of money this way,” he said.

Jeff Brandes wants the state to start showing it can save money.

UF task force to answer 2 questions over professors’ testimony and conflict policies” via the Miami Herald — The University of Florida group tasked to review the university’s conflict-of-interest policies, following a national uproar when the school initially barred three professors from testifying as paid expert witnesses in a voting rights lawsuit against the state, determined Tuesday they will answer two questions: When should UF allow professors to serve as expert witnesses in lawsuits, and what role do faculty have in reviewing these requests? UF President Kent Fuchs appointed the seven members of the task force last week to quell the uproar, which centered on the professors’ First Amendment rights, and examine the school’s policies. He said he needs initial recommendations from the group by Nov. 29. “That’s about 20 days from now, so it’s not a lot of time to work on this, but that’s what it is,” said UF Provost Joe Glover, chair of the task force.


Fair Districts leaders unimpressed with redistricting so far” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The Fair Districts Coalition issued a report card Tuesday on Florida’s handling of the once-a-decade redistricting process underway. By the organization’s assessment, lawmakers earn a ‘D’ on some fronts, but fail on most. From transparency on the mapmaking process to public data collection, the letter ‘F’ besmirches the process the most. “We have yet to see any evidence that it’s going to change, though we are hoping to see that,” said Ellen Freidin, CEO and General Counsel for Fair Districts Now. “We keep calling it to their attention and giving suggestions to be more transparent.” Sen. Rodrigues, chair of the Senate Reapportionment Committee, openly expressed irritation at the poor assessment. He labeled them a “Democrat-funded partisan entity.”

Epic fails: Ellen Freidin gives Florida redistricting a solid “F.”

Former administrator says leaving OSHA would be costly and complicated — Former OSHA administrator David Michaels said ditching the federal workplace safety regulatory agency is essentially doomed from the start. As reported by Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida, Michaels said it would be more expensive, complicated and time-consuming for the state to leave — a move being considered as a way to shirk the Biden administration’s workplace vaccination mandate. “First off, if the Florida Legislature thinks it can do a state plan to avoid the OSHA [temporary emergency standards] around vaccinations and testing, they have not read the OSHA law very carefully,” he said. “This is a waste of taxpayer dollars. It’s a waste of $1 million. OSHA would never approve a plan it thought was developed to get around protecting workers under regulations OSHA has already promulgated.”

Bill would require nursing homes to fork over audited financial reports” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — Days after a joint budget committee agreed to allocate another $100 million to Florida nursing homes, a powerful House Republican filed legislation to require skilled nursing facilities to file audited financial reports with state Medicaid officials. House Appropriations Committee Chair Rep. Jay Trumbull filed a bill Monday that would require nursing facilities to file audited financial statements within 120 days of the end of their fiscal year. While the long-term care industry worried last Session that an audited financial report would drive up costs for nursing homes, this year may be different. In a statement to Florida Politics Tuesday, Florida Health Care Association spokesperson Kristen Knapp said her group supports the bill.

Conservative activists pressure Pinellas Co. Legislative Delegation to support Special Session bills” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Members of the Pinellas County Legislative Delegation faced pressure from the public Tuesday morning to clear bills proposed in the upcoming Special Session addressing mask and vaccine mandates. The speakers, several representing local fringe-conservative groups, urged lawmakers to pass the Special Session legislation without amendment. The proposed bills include measures to limit federal mandates dealing with COVID-19 vaccinations. One proposal also lays the groundwork for the state to withdraw from OSHA and assert state jurisdiction over occupational safety and health issues.

Pinellas lawmakers say Eckerd Connects child welfare issues will be legislative priority” via Daniel Figueroa of Florida Politics — It’s been a rough and uncertain week for at-risk youth in Pinellas County. But the county’s legislative delegation promised Tuesday issues will be addressed. First, the Department of Children and Families fired Eckerd Connects last week. It’s a private organization contracted through the state to offer foster and child care in Pinellas and Pasco counties. DCF notified Eckerd it will not renew its contract at the end of the year. Eckerd responded by saying it was quitting and would not seek a contract renewal. It also said it’s pulling out of pending contract negotiations in Hillsborough County. Eckerd accused the state of underfunding the agency for years despite repeated asks for more money.

Eckerd Connects will be a top priority for Pinellas lawmakers in the 2022 Session. Image via WFLA.

Happening today — The Palm Beach County legislative delegation holds a joint public meeting with the Palm Beach County League of Cities, the Palm Beach County Commission and the Palm Beach County School Board: Sens. Lori Berman, Gayle Harrell, Tina Polsky, Bobby Powell; Reps. Joe Carollo, Mike Caruso, Omari Hardy, Rick Roth, David Silvers, Kelly Skidmore, Emily Slosberg, John Snyder and Matt Willhite, meetings start at 9 a.m., 10:45 a.m., and 1:30 p.m., Palm Beach Gardens City Hall, 10500 North Military Trail, Palm Beach Gardens.

Happening today — The Charlotte County legislative delegation holds a public meeting: Sens. Ben Albritton, Joe Gruters; and Rep. Michael Grant, 9 a.m., Military Heritage Museum, 900 West Marion Ave., Punta Gorda.

Happening today — The Taylor County legislative delegation holds a public meeting: Sen. Loranne Ausley and Rep. Jason Shoaf, noon, Courthouse Annex, 201 East Green St., Perry.

Happening today — The DeSoto County legislative delegation holds a public meeting: Sen. Albritton and Rep. Melony Bell, 1:30 p.m., DeSoto County Administration Center, 201 East Oak St., Arcadia.

Happening today — The Hardee County legislative delegation holds a public meeting: Sen. Albritton and Rep. Bell, 3:30 p.m., Courthouse Annex, 412 West Orange St., Wauchula.

Happening today — The Nassau County legislative delegation holds a public meeting: Sen. Aaron Bean and Rep. Cord Byrd, 4 p.m., James S. Page Governmental Complex, County Commission Chamber, 96135 Nassau Place, Yulee.

Happening today — The Franklin County legislative delegation holds a public meeting: Sen. Loranne Ausley and Rep. Jason Shoaf, 5 p.m., Franklin County Commission Chamber, 34 Forbes St., Apalachicola.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Rebecca Ajhar: Department of Lottery

Sebastian Aleksander, The Aleksander Group: Meta Platforms

Brian Ballard, Jeff Atwater, Mathew Forrest, Ballard Partners: Village of North Palm Beach

Kevin Cabrera, Mercury Public Affairs: Impact Health Biometric Testing

Elizabeth Dudek, Samantha Ferrin, Greenberg Traurig: findhelp

Jennifer Green, Adam Potts, Liberty Partners of Tallahassee: City of Chipley, National Coalition for Public School Options

James Peluso: VyStar Credit Union

Crystal Stickle, Magnolia Advocacy: Florida Solar Energy Industries Association


UCLA sources: Joseph Ladapo did not treat COVID-19 patients” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Ladapo did not treat COVID-19 patients at UCLA as he has asserted, charges a report that aired on MSNBC. The liberal show’s host, Rachel Maddow, said the show’s staff spoke with four UCLA sources, whom she did not identify, who disputed Ladapo’s statements that he was a front-line doctor there treating COVID-19 patients during the coronavirus crisis. The 12-minute segment began with Maddow recapping the controversies surrounding the right-wing “America’s Frontline Doctors” group, of which Ladapo was a member, as well as some of his other controversies, including refusing to wear a mask in the office of Sen. Tina Polsky, a cancer patient.

Joseph Ladapo has no hands-on experience with COVID-19.

These are the COVID-19 signs that Floridians need to watch for this winter” via Cindy Krischer Goodman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The U.S. has dropped the pandemic travel ban, which means international travelers can come to Florida, but they will need to show proof of vaccination and a recent negative COVID-19 test. In previous waves, Florida, which attracts international travelers, saw new mutations before most other states. Zucai Suo, a professor of Biomedical Sciences at FSU College of Medicine, said while there are no variants as infectious as delta, visitors who get sick after arrival will need to be tracked. Suo said Florida health officials will need to be aggressive in sequencing positive test results to catch a new variant or more infectious sublineages of a variant in Florida. Because of Florida’s high volume of visitors, Suo said residents cannot rely on herd immunity.

Leon Schools pulls out of DOAH appeal challenging DeSantis ban on mask mandates” via Ana Goñi-Lessan of the Tallahassee Democrat — In an abrupt about-face, Leon County Schools is withdrawing from an appeal to a judge’s order last week that upheld a Florida Department of Health emergency rule, which banned all mask mandates. Leon County was one of five Florida counties that filed a notice with the 4th District Court of Appeal after Administrative Law Judge Brian Newman with the Division of Administrative Hearings said decisions to opt-out of student mask requirements are at the “sole discretion” of parents or guardians. In a tweet Tuesday morning, before the district sent out the statement, school board member Alva Striplin said she was against the appeal.

Escambia County will offer kids 5 and older Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine starting next week” via the Pensacola News Journal — The Florida Department of Health in Escambia County will begin offering the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine to children 5 years and older beginning Nov. 15. FDOH-Escambia will continue to offer Moderna and Johnson and Johnson for residents ages 18 and up. Vaccines are available through FDOH-Escambia at its COVID-19 vaccine clinic located at 1295 W. Fairfield Drive in Pensacola. Walk-in COVID-19 vaccinations, including boosters, are available Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

‘We lost nine.’ Broward Sheriff’s Office honors employees who fell victim to COVID-19” via Eileen Kelley of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — To date, nine employees of the Sheriff’s Office have died of COVID-19. Everyone, though, has been impacted in some way. Well over half the 5,600-strong workforce has been exposed to the virus and 32%, a staggering 1,800 employees, have contracted it, Sheriff Gregory Tony said as he stood on the stage of a megachurch in Sunrise and told the family members of the nine who died that their loved ones are greatly missed. “We didn’t lose one, two, three — we lost nine,” Tony said. Tuesday’s memorial service for the three sworn law enforcement officers and six civilians who died of COVID-19 drew several hundred Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies, correction workers, firefighters, paramedics, 911 dispatch workers.

Gregory Tony honors Broward deputies who fell to the pandemic.

The cruise line boss who is challenging Florida’s vaccine passport ban” via WLRN — Norwegian sued over the state’s ban on so-called vaccine passports. A law championed by DeSantis prohibits companies from requiring customers to document their vaccine status to receive services. Norwegian is doing just that. Every cruise passenger and crew member on a Norwegian vessel must prove being vaccinated against COVID-19 and be tested for the virus before boarding. In early April, when the vaccines had still only received emergency authorization by the FDA, Norwegian announced its 100% vaccination policy. It would still be months before the company would sail from Florida with paying passengers.

— 2022 —

Rick Scott promises NRSC will fight for ‘election integrity,’ revisits 2018 recount gripes” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Scott promised the National Republican Senatorial Committee will help defend so-called “election integrity” laws in Florida and elsewhere. He also accuses Democratic election officials of trying to illegally count too many ballots in counties favoring his opponent in Florida’s 2018 Senate race. “The RNC and the NRSC are doing a lot. We’re defending lawsuits in Georgia, Florida, Iowa,” Scott said. Scott, this election cycle, chairs the NRSC, which will support Republican Senate campaigns in electoral battlegrounds nationwide. It’s a critical cycle for the GOP as it aims to retake the majority in a chamber evenly split 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris’ tiebreaking vote giving Democrats control.

Rick Scott promises to stick to the classic talking points. Image via AP.

DeSantis committee snags $200K check from DeVos family — Four members of the DeVos family sent DeSantis’ political committee a combined $200,000 last week, bringing its 2022 cycle total to $240,000. Dixon and Andrew Atterbury of POLITICO Florida reported that the Michigan-based GOP megadonors and staunch school choice advocates sent four $50,000 checks to the committee. They came from Amway founder and family patriarch Dick DeVos and his children Doug, Dan and Suzanne DeVos. The committee previously received checks from Doug DeVos’ wife, Pamella, and Dick DeVos Jr., who is married to former U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. DeSantis has raised more than $50 million for his political committee this year and had $58.3 million in the bank as of Sept. 30.

‘Embodiment of the American dream’: Donna Shalala endorses Annette Taddeo for Governor” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Sen. Taddeo’s 2022 run at the Governor’s Mansion gained another endorsement Tuesday, when former Miami Congresswoman Shalala announced her support. “Annette is a lifelong Democrat, community leader, an activist and a state Senator who has always fought for us,” Shalala said in a written statement. “I know she will be a Governor who works to improve the lives of all Floridians, and I am proud to support her.” Shalala, a former president of the University of Miami who served as U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services under former President Bill Clinton, pointed to Taddeo’s background as evidence of her strong, determined spirit.

Poll shows Rebekah Jones within striking distance of Matt Gaetz” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — New survey results show Gaetz’s popularity slipping to its lowest point in two years. Just under 50% of likely voters in Florida’s 1st Congressional District still view Gaetz favorably, marking the first time he’s dropped below 50% on the Pensacola polling outfit’s trendlines in the past two years. Just over 30% view the incumbent unfavorably or very unfavorably. Pollsters found if the election were held today, about 34% of voters would vote for Jones, and fewer than 42% would vote for Gaetz. That puts the Democrat within eight percentage points of unseating the three-term incumbent, with more than 24% of voters still undecided.

Donald Trump endorses Gus Bilirakis for reelection — U.S. Rep. Bilirakis has Trump’s support in his bid for another term in the House. “Congressman Gus Bilirakis has been a tremendously effective lawmaker for the wonderful State of Florida. He is an incredible advocate for Energy Independence, Healthcare, and the American Worker,” the former President said in an email from his political committee. “He will always Protect and Defend our Second Amendment. Gus fights so hard for our brave Military and Veterans, and is very Strong on Border Security. Gus Bilirakis has my Complete and Total Endorsement!” Bilirakis represents Florida’s 12th Congressional District, a solidly Republican seat that covers parts of Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties.

Well, OK — “Teen Vogue spotlights Maxwell Alejandro Frost as a candidate to watch” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Frost is getting some national press, at least within the youth market. Frost, 24, is running for Florida’s 10th Congressional District, being vacated by Democratic U.S. Rep. Val Demings. Initially, the crowded field of Democrats vying for the Democratic stronghold looked topped by three or four others, until Frost pulled off the best fundraising effort of the bunch during the third quarter reporting period last month. Now Teen Vogue is spotlighting Frost as one of seven candidates nationwide to watch in the 2022 elections. In a piece posted on the magazine’s website, “2022 Midterms: Charles Booker and Other Candidates to Watch,” Teen Vogue says it picked them for being “some of the most exciting candidates running for local, state, and federal office.”

Gayle Harrell ramps up fundraising operation with $88K haul in October” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Sen. Harrell posted her highest monthly fundraising total of the 2022 election cycle last month, adding more than $88,000 between her campaign and political committee. Harrell, who first won election to the Senate in 2018, has not yet courted an opponent for her 2022 reelection bid. But she’s been increasingly focused on bringing in cash, adding $18,500 in September as well. In October, Harrell brought in the bulk of her fundraising total through her campaign account, adding nearly $77,000.

Shevrin Jones adds, spends $50K in October for unopposed SD 35 defense” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Jones spent nearly as much as he raised last month in his bid to defend his seat representing Senate District 35. With less than a year to go before Election Day, the Democrat from West Park is rebuilding his war chest while still running unopposed. Since winning his Senate seat in November, Jones has raised more than $290,000 between his campaign and political committee, Florida Strong Finish. Of that, he has about $75,000 remaining. Jones faces a quick turnaround; Florida Senators typically serve four-year terms, but all will be on the ballot in 2022 because of redistricting to reflect the 2020 Census. In October, Jones raised $53,500 and spent about as much.

Happening tonight:


Informers key in enforcing Joe Biden vaccine mandate” via Paul Wiseman of The Associated Press — To enforce Biden’s forthcoming COVID-19 mandate, the U.S. Labor Department is going to need a lot of help. OSHA doesn’t have nearly enough workplace safety inspectors to do the job. So, the government will rely on employees who will presumably be concerned enough to turn in their own employers if their co-workers go unvaccinated or fail to undergo weekly tests. What’s not known is just how many employees will be willing to accept some risk to themselves — or their job security — for blowing the whistle on their employers. Without them, though, experts say the government would find it harder to achieve its goal of requiring tens of millions of workers to be fully vaccinated by Jan. 4 or be tested weekly and wear a mask on the job.

The key to Joe Biden’s vaccine mandates? Whistleblowers. Image via AP.

Pfizer and BioNTech ask federal regulators to authorize their boosters for all adults.” via Sharon LaFraniere of The New York Times — Pfizer and BioNTech asked federal regulators on Tuesday to expand authorization of their coronavirus booster shot to include all adults, a move that could significantly expand the number of recipients who are eligible for booster shots. The FDA is considered likely to grant the request, perhaps before Thanksgiving, according to people familiar with the situation. If it does so, all adults who have been fully vaccinated with shots made by Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson would all be eligible for a Pfizer booster. The federal government intends to broaden the categories of people eligible for additional injections since the first booster shots were authorized for emergency use in late September.

The U.S. is relying on other countries’ data to make its booster shot decisions” via Betsy Ladyzhets of FiveThirtyEight — In the U.S., vaccine research is far more complicated. Rather than one singular, standardized system housing health care data, 50 different states have their own systems, along with hundreds of local health departments and thousands of hospitals. Israel has a universal health care system for all citizens and permanent residents. So does the U.K., another country that the U.S. looks to for COVID-19 data. When every person in the country is plugged into the same health care system, it’s very easy to standardize your data. That’s why one of the first presentations to the FDA featured scientists from Israel’s Ministry of Health and Weizmann Institute. The Israelis shared their findings from the country’s Pfizer booster shot campaign.

No widespread COVID-19 school backlash” via Margaret Talev of Axios — Most Americans, including more than two-thirds of Republicans, give their local schools good marks for balancing public health and safety with other priorities. Other findings from our national survey suggest Americans are less worried about COVID-19 risks and largely feel the Delta variant is behind them. That’s a potential path to redemption for Biden after months of sinking approval numbers. Asked how schools in their community had done in terms of balancing health and safety with other priorities since the start of the pandemic, 71% of U.S. adults, and 75% of parents, said schools had done a good job as opposed to a poor job.

Most Americans think their schools are doing a good job with COVID-19.

COVID-19 hospitalizations rising in parts of California, a potentially ominous sign” via Luke Money and Rong-Gong Lin II of the Los Angeles Times — Health officials have been warning about a potential new rise in COVID-19 in California as seniors who got their shots last winter — and haven’t received a booster shot — may start to see their immunity wane, leaving them exposed to greater risk for infection and hospitalization, and as people gather indoors more as the weather cools and the holidays approach. Demand for booster shots has fallen below expectation in California. And each infected Californian is increasingly spreading the coronavirus to more people; as of Saturday, computer models estimated that every infected Californian was spreading the virus on average to 0.96 other people; if that number rises above 1, that will set the stage for further growth of the pandemic.

—“Texas research: Unvaxxed 20 times more likely to die from COVID-19” via Asher Price of Axios

—“A Vermont college says Halloween parties fueled a COVID-19 outbreak.” via Alyssa Lukpat of The New York Times


The Biden economy is doing pretty well by the measures Donald Trump used to evaluate his own” via Philip Bump of The Washington Post — During his first year in office, Trump repeatedly emphasized two metrics as he touted his success in turning the economy around: jobs and stock prices. By those two metrics, his successor Biden is doing a pretty good job himself, even despite employment numbers being consistently adjusted upward after initial news reports. I will note at the outset that this is not actually a very good way to evaluate a presidency. Presidents have some connection to the health of the economy, certainly, and it’s safe to say that the passage of a major stimulus bill early in Biden’s tenure meant his footprint was slightly larger than normal. Beyond that, though, politicians often like to take more credit for the economy than they deserve.

By Donald Trump’s yardstick, Joe Biden’s economy is pretty good. Image via Reuters.


The bewildering ordeal of getting billed for a coronavirus vaccine” via Ashley Fetters Maloy of The Washington Post — Raising three kids, Heather Christena Schmidt has learned a lot about emergency rooms. “Kids are always, you know, getting into stuff,” she says. So, when the first puzzling bill arrived, she knew it wouldn’t be the last. Still, Schmidt, a 39-year-old stay-at-home parent and blogger, felt especially angry over this one. Schmidt’s daughter, Ava, got her second dose of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine on June 22. After her first dose, administered in May at a CVS, Ava fainted. The reason remains elusive. So, her primary care doctor recommended she get the second dose at an emergency room, where she could be treated immediately if anything went wrong.

In some rare cases, getting a COVID-19 vaccine can be a living terror.


‘Free Biden’: Sean Maloney on how Democrats can get back on track“ via Trip Gabriel of The New York Times — In the days since Democrats were battered in elections across the country last week, criticism of the party’s policies and electoral strategies has rained down, alongside dire forecasts of its prospects in the 2022 midterms. Reasons put forward for the party’s losses included Biden’s slipping approval in polls, impressions of a party that is incompetent at governing after months of infighting in Congress, rising inflation and crime in big cities, and tin-eared Democratic campaigns. One of the least envied jobs in politics at the moment belongs to Rep. Maloney of New York, who as chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee must steer his caucus through the extremely choppy midterm waters. Biden’s approval numbers are lower than President Barack Obama’s were at the same point in his first term.

Sean Maloney has some thoughts on resurrecting the Democratic Party.

Biden denounces efforts to strip Republicans who supported infrastructure of committee standing” via Claire Rafford of POLITICO — Biden on Tuesday condemned House Republicans who are considering retaliation against the 13 members who voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill, speaking to the growing partisan divide in American politics. “I’ve never seen it before. It’s got to stop — for the sake of America,” Biden said in a virtual town hall. Punchbowl News initially reported Tuesday that some “rank-and-file” Republicans were considering stripping the 13 House Republicans who voted for the bipartisan infrastructure bill on Friday of their committee assignments. “The very people who voted for it initially because it looked like the Democrats were going to be given credit on something are being threatened with their chairmanships,“ he said. “It’s just not right. We’re going to change it, though.”

The serendipity of ‘let’s go, Brandon’” via John McWhorter of The Atlantic — The anti-Biden euphemism is of a meaner tone. This is not your grandfather’s darn, heck, shoot, or fudge. Those are polite terms, expressed without the teeth-baring ardor of the words they stand in for, imaginable as things that characters played by Edie McClurg might say in ’80s movies such as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. “Let’s go, Brandon” springs from the mangier, madder place of euphemisms such as SNAFU, which during World War II everyone in the American military knew was an acronym for “situation normal, all fucked up” or right-wingers’ dismissal of conservatives who do not toe the party line as cuckservatives, rooted in the word cuckold.


Billions of dollars coming to Florida once Biden’s infrastructure bill becomes law” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — The White House estimates that $13.1 billion would be spent to rebuild and modernize Florida’s highways with an additional $245 million for bridge replacement and repairs. The White House cited data from the American Society of Civil Engineers that said 3,584 miles of highway and 408 bridges in Florida are in poor condition. The White House also said Florida expects to receive $2.6 billion over five years to improve public transit. And the state would get $198 million over five years to expand an electric vehicle charging network, with an opportunity to apply for $2.5 billion more in grants. Florida would get $100 million to expand broadband internet coverage across the state.

Joe Biden gives Florida plenty to smile about. Image via AP.

Federal dollars coming to Florida for road fixes” via Ashleigh Mills of Spectrum News 9 — The Sunshine State is set to receive money to fix roads and fund several other projects as part of the $1 trillion federal infrastructure plan Congress just passed. A White House memo reflects some of the dollars flowing to Florida, including $13.1 billion for federal-aid highway apportioned programs, $245 million for bridge replacement and repairs, $2.6 billion for public transportation option improvements, and $198 million to support electric vehicle charging. Much of this funding will come over five years. There are 408 bridges and more than 3,564 miles of highway in poor condition across Florida. In its infrastructure bill memo, the White House goes on to say that driver commute times in Florida have risen by 11.6% on average since 2011; also, that each driver pays $425 on average each year for car repairs due to poor roads.

—“Marco Rubio discusses voting no on trillion-dollar infrastructure bill” via Greg Fox of WESH 2

—“What the infrastructure bill means for South Florida” via NBC Miami

Assignment editors — Sen. Scott will join Congressman Carlos Giménez to present the Law Enforcement Congressional Badge of Bravery to a member of the Miami-Dade Police Department, 3:15 p.m., Miami-Dade Police Department, 9105 NW 25th St., Doral. RSVP to [email protected].

Happening today — The Republican National Committee will host an economic roundtable with Chair Ronna McDaniel, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart and local small-business owners to discuss the impact of the Biden administration on Florida small businesses, 10:45 a.m., RNC Hispanic Community Center, 7379 NW 36 St., Doral. RSVP to Julia Friedland at [email protected].

Assignment editors — Rep. Crist will host a news conference announcing the introduction of the Guardians Aren’t Above Prosecution (GAAP) Act, legislation that would fill a gap in the guardianship prosecutorial system by clarifying that those who are designated as a guardian or conservator are still subject to criminal consequences for abusive or fraudulent behavior, noon. Zoom link here. RSVP to [email protected].

A secret tape made after Columbine shows the NRA’s evolution on school shootings” via Tim Mak of NPR — One day after the shootings, the NRA’s top executives, officials, lobbyists and public relations strategists all scrambled on to a conference call to deal with the crisis. Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre is on the line, as is longtime NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer and advertising strategist Angus McQueen, among others. Hammer weighs in with an unyielding view: “You have to go forward. For NRA to scrap this and the amount of money that we have spent …” “We have meeting insurance,” LaPierre replies. “Screw the insurance,” says Hammer. “The message that it will send is that even the NRA was brought to its knees, and the media will have a field day with it.”


The man who made Jan. 6 possible” via Jonathan D. Karl of The Atlantic — The Presidential Personnel Office is a normally under-the-radar group responsible for the hiring and firing of the roughly 4,000 political appointees in the Executive Branch. During the final year of the Trump administration, that office was transformed into an internal police force, obsessively monitoring administration officials for any sign of dissent, purging those who were deemed insufficiently devoted to Trump and frightening others into silence. The office was run by Johnny McEntee. McEntee and his enforcers made the disastrous last weeks of the Trump presidency possible. They backed the President’s manic drive to overturn the election and helped set the stage for the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol.

John McEntee was a key player in the Jan. 6 riot.

Trump makes — and loses — overnight bid to block Jan. 6 investigators” via Kyle Cheney of POLITICO — Trump filed an emergency request to a federal judge late Monday night to prevent the National Archives from sending sensitive records to Jan. 6 committee investigators by Friday. And just after midnight, Judge Tanya Chutkan rejected it, contending the request itself was legally defective and “premature.” The unusual exchange, which happened over two hours, comes as Chutkan is already considering an earlier request by Trump to prevent Congress from peering into his White House’s records about his attempt to overturn the 2020 election.

New Jan. 6 subpoenas increase pressure on Merrick Garland to set an example with Steve Bannon” via Stephen Collinson of CNN — The House select committee probing the Jan. 6 insurrection placed its credibility and legal clout deeper into the hands of Attorney General Garland with a new flurry of subpoenas targeting cronies of Trump. For the committee to retain hopes of compelling testimony from the group, it may need the Justice Department to initiate a prosecution against Bannon, who has already defied a subpoena. The former President’s populist alter ego earned a rare contempt of Congress citation for his intransigence. The department has yet to say whether it will act on that gambit and indict Bannon through the Washington, U.S. Attorney’s office. Without such a move, the committee’s enforcement capacity looks in serious doubt.

Donors threatened to shun the GOP after Jan. 6. Now, Republicans are outraising Democrats.” via Josh Dawsey, Isaac Stanley-Becker and Michael Scherer of The Washington Post — One day after rioters ransacked the Capitol in a bid to overturn the 2020 presidential election, Republican lobbyist Geoff Verhoff sent a searing email to top GOP officials. Verhoff, a bundler who works at the lobbying firm Akin Gump, wrote on Jan. 7 that he was appalled by Trump and the rioters, and he was resigning as co-chair of the Republican National Committee’s finance committee. But when Trump spoke to some of the party’s top donors last month, at a retreat convened at the Breakers resort in Palm Beach, , by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Verhoff was one of the attendees.

Desperate, angry, destructive: How Americans morphed into a mob” via Rachel Weiner, Spencer S. Hsu, Tom Jackman and Sahana Jayaraman of The Washington Post — Thomas Sibick was a star lacrosse player at his military boarding school. While court records show he has struggled with drugs and engaged in reckless and disorderly conduct, he pulled himself together, found a career in elder care and recently got a master’s degree in business administration. During the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, prosecutors allege, he ripped the badge and radio from a D.C. police officer who had been pulled into a frenzied crowd, which assaulted the officer until he passed out.

—“Guns, knives, flagpoles, and a skateboard: A guide to the weapons at the Capitol riot” via Zoe Tillman of BuzzFeed News


Judge tosses D.C. A.G.’s claim that Trump inaugural committee ‘wasted’ $1 million at President’s hotel” via David A. Fahrenthold of The Washington Post — A D.C. judge on Monday threw out part of a lawsuit that the District’s Attorney General filed against Trump’s 2017 Inaugural Committee, ruling that the committee had not wasted its money when it rented ballrooms at Trump’s own hotel. But D.C. Superior Judge José M. López refused to throw out another allegation from D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine that the nonprofit inaugural committee had misused assets for the Trump family’s private gain. Racine filed his lawsuit in early 2020, alleging that the inaugural committee had misused its money by spending about $1 million on ballrooms and meeting spaces at Trump’s D.C. hotel. Racine said that the inaugural committee was offered rented spaces at other venues at lower costs, or even free.

Donald Trump’s D.C. hotel made a nifty windfall, thanks to his inauguration. Image via AP.

At least 13 Trump officials illegally campaigned while in office, federal investigation finds” via Lisa Rein of The Washington Post — At least 13 senior Trump administration officials illegally mixed governing with campaigning before the 2020 election, intentionally ignoring a law that prohibits merging the two and getting approval to break it, a federal investigation released Tuesday found. A report from the office of Special Counsel Henry Kerner describes a “willful disregard for the law” known as the Hatch Act that was “especially pernicious,” given that many officials abused their government roles days before the November election. The report says that Trump allowed them to illegally promote his reelection on the job despite warnings to some from ethics officials.

—“Trump’s taxpayer-funded political machine” via Lachlan Markay of Axios

Reuters unmasks Trump supporters who terrified U.S. election officials” via Linda So and Jason Szep of Reuters — Reuters was able to interview nine people who made threats to election officials. All admitted they were behind the threats or other hostile messages. Eight did so on the record, identifying themselves by name. All nine harassers interviewed by Reuters said they believed they did nothing wrong. Just two expressed regret when told their messages had frightened officials or caused security scares. The seven others were unrepentant, with some saying the election workers deserved the menacing messages. Seven of the nine harassed officials in other states. Some targeted election officials in states where Trump lost by substantial margins, such as Colorado or even Vermont, where Biden won by 35 percentage points.

Trump talks up DeSantis as 2024 running mate: ‘He’s a good man’” via Darragh Roche of Newsweek — Former President Trump has called Gov. DeSantis a “good man” in response to a question about the Governor serving as his running mate in 2024. Trump made the remarks in an interview with Fox News ahead of an annual dinner held by the National Republican Congressional Committee, where the former President was speaking. Trump told Fox News he would “probably” wait until after the 2022 midterm elections before announcing a potential fourth run for the White House. “A lot of great people who are thinking about running are waiting for that decision because they’re not going to run if I run.”


No answers yet at feds’ first public hearing on Champlain Towers collapse probe” via Aaron Leibowitz of the Miami Herald — The federal investigation into the cause of the catastrophic collapse at Champlain Towers South is “well underway,” officials said Monday during their first formal update on the probe. But four-plus months after the tragedy, there is no official word yet on what might have caused it or a timeline of when that answer could come. The deliberate pace is not unusual for the National Institute of Standards and Technology, a sub-agency of the Department of Commerce whose mission includes investigating a select few major building failures. But it’s a source of frustration for some family members of the 98 dead. Initial findings likely won’t be coming at the next hearing, which is tentatively set for next June.

Donna Deegan announces “change for good” bid for Jacksonville Mayor” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — Deegan launched her campaign for Jacksonville Mayor in an announcement Tuesday loaded with calls for a new approach at City Hall that she says will bring “change for good.” “We suffer not so much from a poverty of wealth but from a poverty of will and imagination,” she said in a speech in front of the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum in Springfield. Deegan is seeking to become the first woman elected Mayor in Jacksonville history and only the second Democrat in the past 30 years. Several dozen supporters cheered her speech as she entered the race for Mayor in the spring 2023 election.

Donna Deegan makes it official.

State, Jacksonville lawyers ask judge to dismiss lawsuit targeting Confederate monuments” via Steve Patterson of The Florida Times-Union — A Jacksonville-area civil rights activist’s lawsuit over using tax money to maintain Confederate monuments should be thrown out of court, lawyers for the state and city are telling a federal judge. Earl Johnson Jr., who organized the nonprofit Take It Down Inc. to champion removing the monuments from public land, argued in a suit filed in July that using taxpayer money for tributes to the Confederacy violated the U.S. Constitution’s 13th and 14th Amendments. Johnson sued DeSantis and Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry in their roles as elected leaders, asking for a court order barring the use of public money to maintain or preserve any public tribute to Confederates, from statues to street signs.

Hillsborough County GOP in open revolt against itself” via Daniel Figueroa of Florida Politics — The Hillsborough County Republican Party is in the midst of an identity crisis that is splitting the party’s organizational and fundraising arm. It’s also causing local Republicans to flee leadership. Yet by the latest ruling from statewide Republican leadership, the Hillsborough Republican Executive Committee is likely to remain unchanged. Toledo has been calling for Hillsborough GOP Chair Jim Waurishuk’s removal at least since last year when he made explosive and derogatory comments about the Black Lives Matter movement. He also used the party as a platform to promote Trump’s “stop the steal” efforts. Myriad members have been calling for Waurishuk to step down for well over a year as well.

Citrus Commissioners: Voters off the hook for bigger road resurfacing price tag” via Mike Wright of Florida Politics — Citrus County spends about $4 million a year to resurface residential streets and officials say it needs more than twice that to keep pace with repaving needs. Commissioners don’t know how they’re going to pay for that, but they agreed Tuesday to drop one source: Voters. During a workshop Tuesday morning, Commissioners acknowledged details of a report from County Administrator Randy Oliver that the county has hundreds of miles of crumbling neighborhood roads, and miles more of roads that will become that way if not placed into a regular 20-year repaving cycle. But the idea of asking voters for a penny sales tax increase to cover the cost, as Board Chair Scott Carnahan had predicted in September, was quickly shut down by Commissioners who said the referendum would never garner public support.

Park wars scoop — Former Universal exec claims Disney swiped Rise of Resistance idea” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — Raven Sun Creative sued Walt Disney Parks and Resorts for patent infringement Tuesday in the U.S. District Court’s Orlando Division. Louis Alfieri, the former Universal creative director, is the chief creative officer for Raven Sun Creative. In the lawsuit, Raven Sun says it has a patent for technology that coordinates a vertical-moving rider trolley with videos on a screen. The movement on the tower is synced with the video screen and the seat’s movements, making the theme park ride experience feel more immersive and real. The lawsuit alleges Disney used that same technology in the Rise of Resistance scene when theme park-goers feel like they are jettisoning out of an escape pod during the ride’s controlled-drop finale.

The idea for what makes virtual theme park rides feel so real.

SeaWorld still feels pandemic pain, but making progress” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — SeaWorld Entertainment bought back about $83 million worth of its stock this quarter and spent money on capital projects at its parks, the company’s CEO said Tuesday, as the theme park industry continues to rebound from the costly pandemic crisis. Fueled by 7.2 million visitors for the third quarter, the parks generated about $521 million in total revenue, a 10% jump compared to a pre-pandemic 2019 third quarter. CEO Marc Swanson said that bad weather and no international tourists, who normally make up 10% of the annual attendance, hurt the parks for the quarter. Swanson said that season pass sales are booming, saying the pass base rose by 25% this October compared to October 2019. SeaWorld Entertainment, which operates 12 theme parks across the country, is also opening a slew of new rides next year.


If Thanksgiving costs are up, you can thank Biden’s disastrous economic policies” via Ronna McDaniel for the Miami Herald — As Floridians gather to count their blessings this Thanksgiving, an affordable turkey won’t be on the list. This Thanksgiving is on track to be the most expensive in holiday history. For this, you can thank Biden’s disastrous economic policies. Biden has already spent $1.9 trillion and is on track to spend trillions more on his radical agenda. Americans across the country are feeling it in their paychecks and pocketbooks, with inflation remaining at its highest rate in over a decade. While Americans pay more, they’re getting less. Our supply chain crisis is causing empty shelves in grocery stores across America. Shipping delays may prevent families from receiving Christmas gifts on time. Even more concerning, they’re unable to get the essential medicine and prescriptions they need.


Jan. 6 rioter said her ‘white skin blond hair’ meant no jail. Wrong, but not totally” via Leonard Pitts Jr. of the Miami Herald — Two months after posting a video of herself in the mob of right-wing thugs who stormed the U.S. Capitol, Jenna Ryan tweeted, “Definitely not going to jail. Sorry, I have blonde hair white skin, a great job, a great future, and I’m not going to jail.” Last week, Ryan was sentenced to 60 days in prison. Was Ryan proven wrong? Or did she simply put the court in a position where it had no other choice? Yes, she got 60 days for invading the U.S. Capitol. But Sean Worsley got 60 months for possession of legally-prescribed medical marijuana. Yes, she got 60 days for attempting to overthrow the government. But Fair Wayne Bryant got life for stealing hedge clippers.

After apologies and pardons, give a final exoneration to the Groveland Four” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — From the outset in 1949, the saga of the Groveland Four was a lynching disguised as a criminal case. History has vindicated them. This ugliest chapter in Florida legal history can finally be closed when a judge grants a new prosecutor’s pending motion to set aside their ancient indictments and convictions, restoring their presumption of innocence. State Attorney William Gladson’s motion is more than a formality. It teaches lessons, if we can learn from them. In this case, they show how easily justice can be perverted, especially when race is involved; why it is wrong for some politicians to try to erase such history from the American record; and the importance of electing Governors who will commute death sentences when guilt is in doubt and Cabinet members who will support them.


JT Burnette is sentenced to three years in prison for his role in a corruption probe at Tallahassee City Hall.

Also, on today’s Sunrise:

— Political observers note the probe likely played a big role in helping to elect Gov. DeSantis over then-Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum.

— As the Senate prepares to give a first look at draft redistricting maps, advocates for Fair Districts give the entire process a failing grade.

— Two Sunrise interviews! The first features longtime Tallahassee reporter Mike Vasilinda, who covered the sentencing of Burnette after an expansive corruption at City Hall that might’ve led to tanking Gillum.

Freiden, the CEO and General Counsel for Fair Districts Now, discusses the failing grade to Florida’s redistricting process. She’s here to break down why.

To listen, click on the image below:

— ALOE —

Florida home to 8 ‘of the best Christmas towns in the USA’ — If you need a boost in Christmas spirit, head to Fernandina Beach. Dating reviews website ranked the 152 best Christmas towns in the USA and Nassau’s County Seat is the most Christmassy place in the Sunshine State. The ranking considered metrics such as festive activities, weather, dining, hotels, transport and other key ingredients for a merry Christmas. With a little Christmas magic, condensed reams of data into a ‘Christmas Town Index Score.’ Fernandina Beach earned a 61 by excelling in traditional fare, such as readily available hot cocoa, plenty of shopping, and of course, Christmas lights. Also on the list: St. Augustine at No. 40, Naples at No. 50, Key West at No. 52, Delray Beach at No. 94, Seaside at No. 122, Orlando at No. 126 and Santa Rosa Beach at No. 138.

A+ in beer: FIU students brew for credit and you can try it at this North Miami festival” via Carlos Frías of the Miami Herald — Florida International University’s 2021 North Miami BrewFest is back for its ninth year, its first time since the coronavirus pandemic began, with all of the things that make this unique among beer festivals. Educational seminars are hosted by FIU faculty and industry experts. And FIU students who put on the event are getting college credit by, yes, learning to make beer. It’s even held at the plaza in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art. More than 100 different kinds of beer made by South Florida breweries and local beer brewers will be there, along with food by local restaurants made specifically to pair with the beer. Proceeds of the Nov. 13 event go to the FIU Chaplain School of Hospitality & Tourism Management.

The best way to earn college credit. Image via FIU.

‘I love my job’: Female engineer turns love of math into TECO career” via Fox 13 — Lori Wilson knows she doesn’t exactly fit the engineer mold. “The stereotypical Poindexter, like, I should have glasses or a pocket protector,” she said with a laugh. Lori is a project engineer for Tampa Electric. She improves efficiency within a company serving over 800,000 homes and businesses. In college, she found her accounting courses to be a little mundane, so an adviser suggested a change to engineering. “As soon as I started, I said, ‘This is where I need to be,” she recalled. “I was probably one of two female students. There was not very many,” she explained. But she noticed a shift when she returned to the classroom almost a decade later to get a second engineering degree at the University of South Florida. “It was really awesome to see these females,” she recalled.


Happy birthday to our friend, Samantha Sexton Greer; Mark Herron, an attorney with Messer Caparello, P.A.; Aimee Sachs and Rafael Yaniz. Belated best wishes to Macy Harper.


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. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.


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.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
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