Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 11.22.21

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Good morning. ‘Sunburn’ has been waiting for you.

Good Monday morning.

Before it gets too late into the holiday season, we thought it wise to check the temperature on Florida’s 2022 statewide races. So, we commissioned a survey from St. Pete Polls, and here’s what they found.

Both Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Marco Rubio appear in good shape against their likely Democratic opponents.

At this point, both Ron DeSantis and Marco Rubio are on solid footing.

The poll, taken Nov. 18 and 19, shows DeSantis leading the two most prominent Democrats challenging his re-election. If the election were held today between DeSantis and Rep. Charlie Crist, the Governor would take almost 51% to the St. Petersburg Democrat’s nearly 45%. In a head-to-head with Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, DeSantis takes just over 51% to 42%.

Rubio also holds the lead against Rep. Val Demings, his most prominent Democratic challenger. In the federal race, pollsters found 51% would vote for Rubio, while just over 44% would pick the Orlando Democrat.

Perhaps more important is that both Republican incumbents clear the 50% mark with voters in the head-to-head matchups. Pollsters, who included responses from 2,896 active voters, report just a 1.8% margin of error. But that shows challengers most likely will have to peel votes away, not just win over undecideds, to win next fall.

You can read the full story about the poll here.

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The Southern Group continued its streak as Florida’s top-earning lobbying firm with $5.6 million in earnings last quarter.

The firm is now celebrating its third consecutive No. 1 quarter, and the three-peat comes shortly after TSG earned a Golden Rotunda for “Lobbying Firm of the Year.

The Southern Group recently won the title of “Lobbying Firm of the Year.”

“I know at this point I’m supposed to say something high-minded and stilted about professionalism and teamwork that sounds like it was written by a PR professional, but really the reason we’re on top is because we’ve been busting our asses since the pandemic began and now you’re seeing the results,” TSG Chairman Paul Bradshaw said.

Ballard Partners took No. 2 with $5.1 million in receipts last quarter. Though it’s no longer the firm to beat, its revenues grew by an impressive $700,000 compared to Q2.

Capital City Consulting ranked third with a $4.1 million haul, $2.2 million of it earned in the Legislature.

“Capital City Consulting has shown strong continuous growth over the last 10 years, but more recently, our team members are in high demand as companies navigated COVID, an influx of federal dollars to the state, and other unique opportunities,” said CCC co-founder Nick Iarossi, who recently won the Golden Rotunda for “Lobbyist of the Year.”

Meanwhile, Ron Book and longtime lobbying partners Rana Brown and Kelly Mallette reported $2.5 million earned across 101 contracts, including four crossing six figures.

“In this process, being successful is about respecting the process, respecting the people, and finding a way — through hard work and long hours — to be successful on behalf of our clients,” Book said. “This often means very long nights and very early mornings, but in the end, we are not measured by how hard we work but by what we are able to achieve. That is why, Session after Session and year after year, we continue to grow and succeed.”

GrayRobinson was No. 5 with a $2.2 million haul. The new compensation reports make for two quarters in a row where GrayRobinson was indisputably among the Top-5 earning firms in the state.

Firm president Dean Cannon and the lobbying team represented 192 last quarter. The list included several Fortune 500 companies, such as JPMorgan Chase, PepsiCo, Aramark, Sodexo and Deloitte.

—”Mid-major firms fared well during third quarter” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics

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After three years of helping Converge Public Strategies build a state and local government affairs program that’s received international attention within tech circles, Cesar Fernandez is joining another fast-growing tech startup.

Fernandez will join Pacaso’s public affairs team, in which he will oversee several markets in the United States.

Pacaso, founded by Zillow alumni Spencer Rascoff and Austin Allison, aims to create a new category of second-home co-ownership.

Good news about a great guy: Cesar Fernandez moves to the next tech startup.

The company is valued at $1.5 billion and facilitates the co-ownership of second homes by setting up property-specific LLCs for up to 8 people who aspire to own a second home, marketing the homes in partnership with local real estate professionals, and providing property management services after each home’s sale.

“We’re thrilled to have Cesar on the Pacaso team,” said Colin Tooze, Pacaso’s vice president of Public Affairs and Communications. “Cesar’s insights and strategic counsel will be enormously valuable to Pacaso as the company continues to work with government officials across the country to help more people invest in local communities and achieve their dreams of second-home ownership.”

For the past seven years, Fernandez has been advocating for some of the country’s most innovative companies. After spending nearly four years at Uber, he represented tech companies at Converge, such as Zillow, Nuro, Cruise, Blockchain.com, Lilium, REEF, Revel, Spin, and Vivid Seats.

“We are excited for Cesar. He brings world-class talent to Pacaso as the company brings its innovative model into markets around the world. Converge seeks to be a center of talent in the innovation economy, and Cesar is a prime example of what we stand for,” said Jonathan Kilman, Chairman of Converge.

Fernandez, who was named partner at Converge earlier this year, will join the firm’s recently-formed advisory board, made up of high-profile government affairs professionals throughout the country.

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One final request to let us know what you’re grateful for this year.

We will publish the comments in tomorrow’s edition of Sunburn — the last one for the holiday week.

Please send your responses to [email protected].

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@BarackObama: Happy birthday to my friend and my brother, @POTUS! Thanks for giving all of us the gift of better infrastructure. Grateful for all you’re doing to build this country back better.

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:

@ClayTravis: There is zero evidence Kyle Rittenhouse is a White supremacist. Zero. This trial opened many American eyes to how much the left-wing media chooses narrative over fact. The lies overwhelm the truth for many. But the red-pilled tide just keeps growing.

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:

@YvonneHinsonFL: It’s past time for this to end but appointing Ricky Dixson gives us more of the same.

@DannyBurgessFL: It’s time strawberries get their just desserts! Florida recognizes Key Lime pie as the official state pie, but @RepMcClure and I filed legislation to designate the official state dessert: the strawberry shortcake.🍓

@SteveSchale: For everyone freaking out about the Key Lime Pie, that is already enshrined in state law as the “State Pie” … So under @RepMcClure proposal, you can have your pie, and eat your cake too.

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:

— DAYS UNTIL —

‘Hawkeye’ premieres — 2; FSU vs. UF — 5; Florida Chamber 2021 Annual Insurance Summit begins — 9; Jacksonville special election to fill seat vacated by Tommy Hazouri’s death — 15; ‘Sex and the City’ revival premieres — 17; Steven Spielberg’s ’West Side Story’ premieres — 18; ’Spider-Man: No Way Home’ premieres — 18; ’The Matrix: Resurrections’ released — 32; ’The Book of Boba Fett’ premieres on Disney+ — 37; Private sector employees must be fully vaccinated or tested weekly — 43; final season of ‘This Is Us’ begins — 43; CES 2022 begins — 44; NFL season ends — 48; 2022 Legislative Session starts — 50; Florida’s 20th Congressional District Election — 50; Special Elections in Senate District 33, House District 88 & 94 — 50; Florida Chamber’s 2022 Legislative Fly-In and Reception — 50; Florida TaxWatch’s 2022 State of the Taxpayer Day — 51; Joel Coen’s ’The Tragedy of Macbeth’ on Apple TV+ — 53; NFL playoffs begin — 54; XXIV Olympic Winter Games begins — 74; Super Bowl LVI — 83; Daytona 500 — 90; CPAC begins — 94; St. Pete Grand Prix — 95; ‘The Batman’ premieres — 101; ’Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 170; ’Top Gun: Maverick’ premieres — 189; ’Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 193; ’Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 229; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 240; ’Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 319; ‘Black Panther 2’ premieres — 354; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 357; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 389; ‘Captain Marvel 2’ premieres — 452; ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 613. ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 697; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 977.

— TOP STORY —

Donald Trump’s ire grows as Ron DeSantis’ popularity with Republicans takes off” via Gabby Orr and Steve Contorno of CNN — In a matter of months, DeSantis has gone from being a shining example in Trump‘s eyes of a MAGA leader molded in his image to an average politician who forgot his roots as he rose to Republican stardom. People close to both men first noticed the palpable shift in Trump’s posture toward DeSantis earlier this year as enthusiasm for the Florida Governor swelled among donors and GOP operatives who praised his laissez-faire response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The more DeSantis’ popularity soared, the more obsessed Trump became with receiving credit for his political celebrity. In April, Trump had told Fox News that DeSantis would “certainly” be under consideration for the VP slot if he were to launch a third presidential campaign in 2024. By October, the former President demanded that he publicly rule out a White House bid of his own.

Is there a power shift taking place among Republicans? Image via AP.

— STATEWIDE —

>>>Gov. DeSantis will hold a press conference in Daytona Beach. Buc-ee’s, 2330 Gateway North Drive. Joining him in attendance is Transportation Secretary Kevin J. Thibault. 9:00 a.m.

DeSantis opines again on Kyle Rittenhouse verdict, urges lawsuits against ‘defamatory’ media” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis, in an emailed essay from his re-election campaign, urged Rittenhouse “to sue every corporate media outlet and every moronic commentator who smeared him into oblivion.” The email also calls for more restrictions on media — and advertisers — supporting “defamatory material,” specifically allowing civil lawsuits against both: “States need to make sure that those falsely smeared by corporate media have adequate recourse under state law to bring defamation actions.” He added that “entities who advertise on corporate media outlets that routinely lie and defame innocent people should be held accountable for facilitating defamatory material and false narratives.”

Ron DeSantis urges Kyle Rittenhouse to go after the media.

DeSantis appoints four to key administration posts in major reshuffle” via Ana Ceballos and Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — The Governor’s office announced that Ricky Dixon, a longtime official with the Department of Corrections, will soon replace Corrections Secretary Mark Inch, who is retiring. In addition to Dixon, DeSantis named Wesley Brooks as the state’s third chief resilience officer, the person tasked with helping Florida face the impacts of climate change; Eric Hall as the secretary of the state Department of Juvenile Justice, and Michelle L. Branham, as the secretary of the state Department of Elder Affairs.

DeSantis sits down for interview with Ben Shapiro” via Jason Delgado of Florida Politics — The Daily Wire released a one-on-one interview Sunday with DeSantis and Shapiro. Filmed inside the Governor’s Office, DeSantis and Shapiro explored various issues, COVID-19, corporate activism, media bias and immigration, among others. Florida State University hosted Shapiro late Monday for a sold-out speaking event. He was seen touring the Florida Capitol Building before the event. A former California resident, Shapiro relocated to Florida amid the pandemic. He is critical of California’s handling of the pandemic and the state’s left-leaning politics. Shapiro is among the leading conservative voices in the nation. In the interview, he bashed news media as “untethered” to the truth and “highly partisan.”

DeSantis spokesperson acknowledges latest mistake, spurns critics after tweet deemed antisemitic” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — DeSantis‘ press secretary says she now understands why a tweet she sent this week could be perceived as antisemitic. After initially calling the “smears” against her since-deleted tweet “absurd and laughable,” Christina Pushaw tweeted a statement Friday saying the Anti-Defamation League of Florida explained to her what was wrong with her comment. While she said she regrets the initial post, she did not apologize for the tweet, which referenced the Rothschilds, who are sometimes the subject of antisemitic conspiracy theories. On Tuesday, Pushaw, who spent time working in politics in the Republic of Georgia, tweeted her reaction to the country this month announcing it would implement a COVID-19 passport.

Christina Pushaw is not quite apologizing for her latest Twitter gaffe. Image via Colin Hackley.

Assignment editors — Attorney General Ashley Moody will host a news conference with Osceola County Sheriff Marcos Lopez and Vice-Mayor Felix Ortiz to release details on the 2021 Holiday Consumer Protection Guide, 10:45 a.m., Osceola Sheriff’s Office, 2601 E. Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway, Kissimmee.

Happening today — The University of Florida President’s Task Force on Outside Activities holds an online meeting to discuss the three political science professors dissuaded from testifying against the state in an elections law challenge, 1 p.m. Zoom link here.

Spotted — ExcelinEd’s 2021 National Summit on Education in Lake Buena Vista this week: WGU’s Southeast Regional Vice President Dr. Kim Estep and Florida Department of Education Chancellor of Career and Adult Education Henry Mack hosting a roundtable discussion on the value of higher education and ways to increase the return on investment for students.

— DATELINE TALLY —

Conservative Super PAC bashes Anthony Sabatini for Special Session absence” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Rep. Sabatini has drawn the attention of a conservative Super PAC, and they don’t like what they see. The American Heartland PAC has launched an ad targeting Sabatini, a two-term Howey-in-the-Hills self-styled firebrand running for Congress next year. Central to the PAC’s knock against Sabatini is his actions during the recent Special Session. Despite being one of the first people to suggest a Special Session against COVID-19 mandates, Sabatini was absent from the House during the first day of the Special Session on Monday. He instead attended a fundraiser in Washington.

To watch the video, click on the image below:

Jeff Brandes, legislators back crypto bill” via Mark Parker of Catalyst — Fueled by efforts out of Miami and the Tampa Bay area, Florida is quickly becoming a destination for the blockchain and financial technology industries; however, state legislation relating to cryptocurrency is still in its infancy. While much of the recent attention on the state Legislature has focused on the anti-vaccination bills emerging out of the Special Session, Republican lawmakers have also filed legislation to establish a regulatory framework for cryptocurrency in Florida. Sen. Brandes filed a nearly identical bill earlier this year, which unanimously passed through the House before ultimately dying in the Senate. Brandes told said the legislation essentially starts with the basics and seeks to establish fundamental definitions to help create a clear path for further rules and regulations.

Happening today — The Duval County legislative delegation holds a public meeting: Sens. Aaron Bean and Audrey Gibson; Reps. Cord Byrd, Tracie Davis, Wyman Duggan, Jason Fischer, Angie Nixon and Clay Yarborough, 1 p.m., Jacksonville City Council Chamber, 117 West Duval St., Jacksonville.

— CORONA FLORIDA —

Florida sees slight uptick in new COVID-19 cases; testing positivity rate remains low” via Cindy Krischer Goodman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — New COVID-19 cases in Florida picked up slightly from last week, as did the number of additional deaths from the virus. The number of new cases in Florida for the week ending Nov. 18 rose to 10,828 from 10,746 a week ago. The case counts mark a big improvement from August when the count reached as high as 151,675 new cases in a week. The state test positivity stayed stable at 2.5%. There were 385 additional deaths, up from 363 additional COVID-19 deaths a week earlier. One of those deaths was a child younger than 16. That brings the state’s overall death toll to 61,081 people.

COVID-19 testing shows a slight uptick.

—”Improvement in COVID-19 case rates on the Space Coast stalls. Is a new wave coming?” via Amira Sweilem of Florida Today

Florida COVID-19 vaccine first-dose count drops by 1 million; state offers no explanation” via Chris Persaud of The Palm Beach Post — Florida health officials reported on Friday an unexplained drop of more than 1 million residents awaiting their second shots of the coronavirus vaccine, a week after saying that tally had jumped by more than 1.1 million. The state Health Department said Friday that 1,836,172 residents had gotten their first jabs in the past week. On Nov. 12, that number was 2,890,568. On Nov. 5: 1,740,770. Florida has never experienced such large weekly swings in vaccination tallies.

Disney pauses COVID-19 vaccine mandate for workers amid statewide crackdown” via Katie Rice of the Orlando Sentinel — Disney has paused its vaccine mandate for Florida employees in response to restrictions passed by the Legislature on Wednesday limiting employers’ power to require worker vaccination. A memo sent to Disney employees Friday said the company was taking that action immediately because of the state legislation and an appeal court’s temporary delay of federal vaccination guidelines from OSHA. The memo said Disney, Central Florida’s largest single-site employer, will require all employees who had not verified they were fully vaccinated to wear face coverings and observe social distancing, among other safety protocols.

— 2022 —

Florida doesn’t just act Republican — it is a GOP state now” via Bill Cottrell of the Tallahassee Democrat — Well, we went and did it: Florida now has more Republicans than Democrats. It’s been a long time coming, since the Ronald Reagan era. Even as the Democratic majority dwindled, party leaders smiled nervously and said things would turn around any day now. But this month, the numbers actually flipped, though not by much. GOP executive director Helen Aguirre Ferre’ called it “a milestone moment in Florida history.” While the margin is small, it’s the trend that matters most. Since George W. Bush carried Florida in 2000 by a disputed 537 votes, the Democrats have lost about four statewide races for each one they’ve won. DeSantis attributed some of his party’s registration gain to people moving from high-tax, business-regulating states.

Florida is no longer a purple state. Image via Colin Hackley.

Republicans overtook Democrats in voter registration mostly by subtraction” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Unofficial announcements made three weeks ago, at last, were confirmed by public, official counts: There now are more registered Republicans than registered Democrats in Florida, for the first time ever. But the voter registration numbers posted through October don’t show any big voter registration push by the Republican Party of Florida. Instead, they show the RPOF was not hit as hard by voter losses as the Florida Democratic Party. That is, Republicans won the latest count by having their registered voter rolls shrink less since last year. Voter registration rolls tend to stay flat or decline a bit in the year after a presidential election. In the past year, however, Florida’s electorate rolls declined a lot.

Face mask mandates fueled Moms for Liberty’s growth. Now the group reviews books, looks ahead to school board elections” via Skyler Swisher and Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — The fight over face masks made Moms for Liberty a presence at Central Florida school board meetings, turning once staid policy discussions into sometimes tense and raucous affairs. Now, the group’s members are shifting their attention to other priorities. Among them: urging schools to remove “pornographic” library books and criticizing instructional materials they think teach critical race theory or praise communism. Launched on Jan. 1 by a trio of current and former conservative Florida school board members, Moms for Liberty quickly grew into a national network of parents aiming to become a lasting political force.

Here’s how Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick won the primary — and her plans to be Florida’s newest congresswoman” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — During a wide-ranging phone interview Cherfilus-McCormick addressed the scrutiny she faced on the campaign trail, including over not filing a financial disclosure. She also analyzed the factors that led to her recent win — something that many political insiders assumed for months was unlikely. Money matters in any political race, but especially in one as close as this one. Cherfilus-McCormick’s campaign spending overwhelmed the other candidates, allowing her to introduce herself and her policies in TV ads far more than the others. It also allowed her to create a large field operation with offices and staffers knocking on doors throughout the district. For comparison, her competitor Barbara Sharief put in at least $926,000 of her own money.

Cherfilus-McCormick and her mystery money” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — Cherfilus-McCormick, the Democratic nominee in the Jan. 11 special election in Congressional District 20, has not complied with a law requiring candidates to disclose to the clerk of the House of Representatives key aspects of their personal finances. Those financial disclosures are posted online for voters to review, and the law applies once candidates raise or spend $5,000. She passed that financial milestone long ago. Whatever Cherfilus-McCormick is hiding might explain how she was able to lend her campaign a staggering $3.7 million on her way to winning the recent Democratic primary by a scant five votes out of 49,082 votes cast over runner-up Dale Holness.

Congressional candidate Maxwell Frost arrested at Washington protest” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Frost was arrested Thursday while taking part in a voters’ rights march in Washington. Frost, who is running for the seat opening in Florida’s 10th Congressional District in Orange County, was arrested, detained, and cited for incommoding during the rally in Lafayette Square, the Washington park behind the White House, according to his campaign. Frost called it an act of nonviolent resistance. In Washington, incommoding, obstructively crowding parks, streets, or buildings is a misdemeanor after police tell a crowd to disperse. The arrests were made by the U.S. Park Police, an agency of the National Park Service.

—“Frank Hibbard joins slew of Pinellas mayors endorsing Amanda Makki” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics

Happening tonight:


— CORONA NATION —

U.S. COVID-19 deaths in 2021 surpass 2020s” via Jon Kamp, Robbie Whelan and Anthony DeBarros of The Wall Street Journal — The total number of reported deaths linked to the disease topped 770,800 on Saturday. According to the most recent death-certificate data, this puts the pandemic-long total at more than twice the 385,343 COVID-19 deaths recorded last year. The milestone comes as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations move higher again in New England and the upper Midwest. Comparing the two pandemic years is imperfect because the first coronavirus-related deaths in the U.S. weren’t recorded until February 2020, while 2021 began in the grips of a wintertime surge.

COVID-19 is deadlier this year than in 2020. Image via AP.

COVID-19 breakthrough hospitalizations concentrated among most vulnerable” via Jon Kamp and Melanie Evans of The Wall Street Journal — Breakthrough cases of COVID-19 are hitting older people and those with underlying health conditions particularly hard. Unvaccinated people are primarily driving pandemic numbers. Breakthrough infections, however, are making up a growing portion because of rising numbers of vaccinated people and waning immunity among people who got their shots early on. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky said Wednesday that emergency room visits by vaccinated people aged 65 and older were increasing.

— CORONA ECONOMICS —

Shopping online surged during COVID-19. Now the environmental costs are becoming clearer.” via Catherine Boudreau of POLITICO — The pandemic, in effect, hit overdrive on a decadeslong shift toward online shopping. E-commerce sales jumped nearly 32% in 2020 compared to the prior year. So far this year, online sales are on track to outpace that record. To meet the demand, delivery companies such as Amazon, FedEx, UPS and food delivery services wrapped millions of purchases in layers of cardboard and plastic and hired thousands of new drivers to bring them to our doorsteps. Consumers drove fewer miles to and from stores, while delivery companies drove more, so what was the net effect on greenhouse gas emissions? Offices and restaurants generated less waste, but all that food and packaging delivered to homes added to trash pickups from residential neighborhoods. Which is worse for landfills?

We are just now getting a handle on how online shopping affects the environment. Image via AP.

— MORE CORONA —

GOP embraces natural immunity as substitute for vaccines” via Anthony Izaguirrre of The Associated Press — Republicans fighting President Joe Biden’s coronavirus vaccine mandates are wielding a new weapon against the White House rules: natural immunity. They contend that people who have recovered from the virus have enough immunity and antibodies to not need COVID-19 vaccines, and the concept has been invoked by Republicans as a sort of stand-in for vaccines. Florida wrote natural immunity into state law this week as GOP lawmakers elsewhere are pushing similar measures to sidestep vaccine mandates. Lawsuits over the mandates have also begun leaning on the idea. Conservative federal lawmakers have implored regulators to consider it when formulating mandates.

Marine Corps compliance with vaccine mandate on course to be military’s worst” via Alex Horton of The Washington Post — Up to 10,000 active-duty Marines will not be fully vaccinated against the coronavirus when their deadline arrives in coming days. While 94% of Marine Corps personnel have met the vaccination requirement or are on a path to do so, for the remainder it is too late to begin a regimen and complete it by the service’s Nov. 28 deadline. Within an institution built upon the belief that orders are to be obeyed and one that brands itself the nation’s premier crisis-response force, it is a vexing outcome. The holdouts will join approximately 9,600 Air Force personnel who have outright refused the vaccine, did not report their status, or sought an exemption on medical or religious grounds, causing a dilemma for commanders tasked with maintaining combat-ready forces.

Vaccine rates among Marines are the lowest of any branch of the military. Image via AP.

— PRESIDENTIAL —

Joe Biden and aides tell allies he is running in 2024 amid growing Democratic fears” via Michael Scherer, Tyler Pager and Sean Sullivan of The Washington Post — Biden and members of his inner circle have reassured allies in recent days that he plans to run for re-election in 2024, as they take steps to deflect concern about the 79-year-old President’s commitment to another campaign and growing Democratic fears of a coming Republican return to power. The message is aimed in part at tamping down the assumption among many Democrats that Biden may not seek re-election given his age and waning popularity, while also effectively freezing the field for Vice President Kamala Harris and other potential presidential hopefuls.

Joe Biden in 2024? Image via AP.

As Biden agenda advances in Congress, White House weighs new offensive on inflation” via Jeff Stein of MSN — Long stymied by seemingly intractable divisions, Biden in the same week signed into law a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill while also pushing through the House of Representatives a separate, $2 trillion-plus social and climate policy measure that has become the centerpiece of the president’s vision to change the American economy. The burst of progress on Biden’s economic agenda comes amid unresolved strains that the administration in recent months has struggled to confront, with high inflation emerging as a top concern for American voters amid the biggest price hikes in nearly three decades. Republicans have blamed the inflation problems on Biden’s economic agenda, but there are signs that the White House could soon push back more forcefully.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Justices could rule on Texas abortion ban as soon as Monday” via Mark Sherman of The Associated Press — The justices are planning to issue at least one opinion Monday, the first of its new term, the court said on its website. There’s no guarantee the two cases over the Texas law, with its unique enforcement design that has so far evaded judicial review, will be resolved Monday. Those cases were argued on Nov. 1, and the court also is working on decisions in the nine cases the justices heard in October. But the court put the Texas cases on a rarely used fast track, raising expectations that decisions would come sooner than the months the justices usually spend writing and revising their opinions. The law has been in effect since Sept. 1. The justices hear arguments Dec. 1 over whether to reverse nearly 50 years of precedents and hold that the Constitution does not guarantee the right to an abortion. The case is about Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks.

The Texas abortion law gets a speedy trial. Image via AP.

Assignment editors — U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor will join HART representatives for a news conference to celebrate the passage of the Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act and discuss what it will mean for job creation and HART patrons in Tampa, 10 a.m., the pier just southwest of Armature Works, 1910 N Ola Ave., Tampa. RSVP with [email protected].

Assignment editors — U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel will host a news conference with Benjamin Ferencz, the last living prosecutor of the Nuremberg trials. Last week, Frankel introduced a bipartisan bill to award Ferencz the Congressional Gold Medal, 10:30 a.m., Kings Point, 356 Saville O, Delray Beach. RSVP to [email protected].

— CRISIS —

Federal judge blames Trump while sentencing Capitol rioter” via Tommy Christopher of Mediaite — Federal Judge Amit Mehta pointed the finger of blame at Trump during the sentencing of Capitol rioter John Lolos. Mehta did not mince words when sentencing Lolo to 14 days in jail and $500.00 in restitution for his part in the attack. “People like Mr. Lolos were told lies, were told falsehoods, were told the election was stolen when it was not. Regrettably, people like Mr. Lolos, who were told those lies, took it to heart. And they are the ones paying the consequences,” Mehta said. Mehta will be presiding over many Capitol insurrection cases, including a conspiracy case involving the Oath Keepers.

John Lolos gets an earful at his sentencing. Image via U.S. Attorney’s Office.

— EPILOGUE TRUMP —

The complicated truth about Trump 2024” via Peter Nicholas of The Atlantic — If Trump tries to run for President again, one of his former campaign advisers has a plan to dissuade him. Trump might not listen to his former campaign confidant. But the mere fact that someone who worked to elect Trump the first time is rehearsing arguments to stop a comeback suggests that the former President’s tight grip on the Republican Party may be slipping. A few other developments in recent weeks point to the early stirrings of a Republican Party in which Trump is sidelined. He’s behaving like a candidate-in-waiting. Trump’s most potent means of retaining his hold on his party is perpetuating the idea that he’ll be back on the ballot in three years. Whether he goes through with launching a re-election campaign may be beside the point.

A MAGA squad of Trump loyalists sees its influence grow amid demands for political purity among Republicans” via The Washington Post — The show of force from Trump’s staunchest congressional allies began almost immediately after 13 House Republicans voted this month in favor of a massive infrastructure bill that handed President Joe Biden one of the biggest victories of his tenure. “Traitor Republicans,” Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia declared in a series of tweets where she posted their office phone numbers. Rep. Matt Gaetz of Fort Walton Beach told a pro-Trump podcast there was never a situation during the infrastructure debate in which Republicans should work with Democrats: “They were going to win it all, or we were going to win it all.”

Trump’s first post-presidency book will, fittingly, require little reading and cost way too much” via Peter Wade of Rolling Stone — Nearly two hundred and thirty American dollars. That’s how much Trump is charging for a signed copy of his forthcoming picture book, which he is touting as “a must-have for all Patriots.” Leave it to Trump to try to swindle his supporters out of money, and just in time for the holidays. “Our Journey Together,” Trump’s first book since he was President, will be published on Dec. 7 by Winning Team Publishing, a company started by Donald Trump Jr. and Sergio Gor. The book is a coffee table-style publication that will contain more than 300 images, some of which will include captions in Trump’s distinctive all-caps handwriting. To buy the book, Trump is charging $74.99 or, for a signed copy, $229.99.

Donald Trump’s pricy new book: Lots of pictures, not much reading.


— LOCAL NOTES —

A fire alarm could have saved lives at Surfside tower. Residents say it didn’t go off” via Sarah Blaskey and Nicholas Nehamas of the Miami Herald — In that seven-minute span between the pool deck collapsing and the tower failing, no klaxons, sirens or warnings seem to have gone off in the building’s condo units, hallways or lobby — raising questions about a possible failure or malfunction of the system. Had alarms gone off on every floor at 1:15 a.m. — alerting residents and perhaps giving them time to escape — at least some people may have survived, even if others lingered in their condos, thinking it was a false alarm. “Obviously, seven minutes is a long time. If [the alarms] went off and people followed the directions, that could have been crucial,” said William Bryson, former fire chief for the city of Miami and Miami-Dade County.

Rush to appoint foster care agency in Pinellas, Pasco could backfire, child welfare experts warn” via Christopher O’Donnell of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida’s privatized child welfare system is supposed to put control of foster care in the hands of local agencies who know their community. But after terminating Clearwater nonprofit Eckerd Connects, the Florida Department of Children and Families seems set to choose a provider outside of Tampa Bay. The department has not released the names of the agencies that bid for the contract, but none of the three that made presentations Wednesday to Secretary Shevaun Harris and other department officials at a meeting in Largo are local. Roy Miller, President of Tallahassee nonprofit American Children’s Campaign, said it would make sense to take more time for such a critical decision.

One year into office, Miami-Dade Mayor talks UDB, sheriff problems and her 2024 race” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — On her 365th full day in office, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava’s voice caught when she addressed staff at the Lotus House Women’s Shelter in Miami for a volunteer session with county employees. ”It really helps me to get back to my roots, and really motivates me to do the work that I do,” Levine Cava, a former social worker, told the two-dozen people crowded into an office. “Which was always to make sure children and families were safe, and received love and support.” Afterward, the 66-year-old former child-welfare lawyer and foster-care administrator said she got emotional thinking about the connections between her current post and past career. She’s already raising money from lobbyists and county vendors for her 2024 re-election and confirmed this week she’s planning to seek a second term.

Daniella Levine Cava is ready for a second term. Image via Facebook.

Miami Beach ramps up lax sidewalk cafe policy. Business owners fear ‘death sentence.’” via Martin Vassolo of the Miami Herald — In what local leaders say is a step toward taming South Beach’s wild side, City Hall is cracking down on sidewalk cafe operators with a history of rule-breaking. The city administration rejected 13 applications from South Beach restaurant owners seeking to renew their sidewalk cafe permits, which allow them to set up outdoor tables on the public right of way for one year. The 13 businesses make up 9% of the 144 that applied for a renewal. Nine of the denied businesses are on Ocean Drive, where sidewalk cafe tables have been part of the postcard of the world-famous strip for decades. The new system assigns points to different code violations and discretion to consider factors like bad online reviews.

Jacksonville sets summer target of decision on Confederate monuments” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — The future of Confederate monuments and markers in Jacksonville should be decided by City Council in the summer after reviewing options ranging from taking them down to leaving them as they are, council members decided Thursday. City Council members set that goal Thursday in a workshop for updating the council’s five-year strategic plan. “We take control of the monument issue, establish a plan, and put this all behind us,” City Council member Aaron Bowman said. City Council voted 12-6 on Nov. 9 to withdraw legislation introduced by Mayor Lenny Curry that would have set aside $1.3 million to remove a Confederate monument that has stood since 1915 in Springfield Park.

Pinellas school district orders removal of ‘Gender Queer’ book” via Jeffrey S. Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — The Pinellas County school district has instructed two high schools to take the LGBTQ coming-of-age graphic novel “Gender Queer: A Memoir” off their library shelves. The district did not follow its procedure for when a book is challenged for removal. However, the district said in a statement that it learned a Lakewood High School parent had raised concerns about the title, prompting a district-level review led by Associate Superintendent Kevin Hendrick. The district said Gender Queer remains available to teachers and other school staff. Other school systems around the state and nation also have removed the book from circulation amid calls from conservative leaders and some parents over what they say are inappropriate illustrations and sexual content.

Some parents say ‘Gender Queer’ is a little too racy for high school.

School Board member who stayed at vendor’s beach house supports him in contract” via Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — As a vendor criticized for high markups on students’ graduation caps and gowns was about to lose a lucrative contract, just one Broward School Board member came to his defense. School Board member Donna Korn adamantly opposed a proposal on Nov. 9 to reject an exclusive three-year deal for longtime vendor Chuck Puleri, saying it wasn’t fair to seek bids, score them and then decide the process was flawed. What Korn, the sole dissenting vote, didn’t say: that Puleri is a close friend, and that she and her children stayed at least twice with Puleri and his wife, Margot, at their $1.1 million beach home near Naples.

Florida university says it won’t employ professor guilty of sexual misconduct with students” via Tristan Wood of Fresh Take Florida — A Florida university confirmed it will not employ next semester a former Florida State University professor who took a job there teaching after he was found guilty of sexual misconduct with students. It also said it was exploring how to overhaul its hiring practices to avoid similar issues in the future. The University of West Florida in Pensacola said it had been unaware of the investigation at Florida State into Ross May when it hired him part-time to teach two online classes after FSU had fired him. May, the former associate director of FSU’s Family Institute, was among three FSU professors identified earlier this week who FSU had determined committed sexual misconduct in separate incidents with students.

Love in the big house: Former inmate plans unauthorized wedding in Florida federal prison to convicted fiance” via Fresh Take Florida — Chrissy Shorter wants to get married. On Monday, she believes she finally will. But she won’t be able to kiss her fiance as he becomes her husband, and she won’t see him in a suit and tie. Shorter, 43, has tried to wed Noel Arnold, 45, for seven months now. Arnold is incarcerated at Coleman Federal Correctional Institution, a low-security prison. She said her criminal record, reputation within the prison system, and identity as a transgender woman had led the prison warden, Kathy Lang, to deny her marriage request and revoke her visitation privileges. As a last-ditch effort to marry, Shorter and Arnold will hold their wedding ceremony over the phone.

Chrissy Shorter and Noel Arnold just want to get married. Image via Fresh Take Florida.

— TOP OPINION —

Kyle Rittenhouse’s $2 million legal funds won his case. Most defendants can’t afford that quality of aid.” via Paul Butler of The Washington Post — Don’t believe the hype that Rittenhouse was acquitted because self-defense cases are tough for prosecutors to win. More than 90% of people who are prosecuted for any crime, including homicide, plead guilty. The few who dare to go to trial usually lose — including in murder cases. Rittenhouse’s $2 million legal defense funds enabled his lawyers, before his trial, to stage separate “practice” jury trials — one in which Rittenhouse took the stand and one in which he did not. The more favorable reaction from the pretend jurors when Rittenhouse testified informed the decision to let the teenager tell his story to the real jurors. His apparently well-rehearsed testimony was probably the most important factor in the jury ultimately letting Rittenhouse walk.

— OPINIONS —

It’s not ‘polarization.’ We suffer from Republican radicalization.” via Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post — While it’s true that the country is more deeply divided along partisan lines than it has been in the past, it is wrong to suggest a symmetrical devolution into irrational hatred. The polarization argument too often treats both sides as equally worthy of blame, characterizing the problem as a sort of free-floating affliction. The GOP’s willingness to force a default on the debt is likewise indicative of a party that has fallen into nihilism. Only one party conducts fake election audits, habitually relies on conspiracy theories and wants to limit access to the ballot. Only one party overwhelmingly refused to participate in a bipartisan investigation of the Jan. 6 insurrection. Only one party tolerates and defends House members who resort to violent imagery and harass fellow lawmakers.

— ALOE —

Tampa family faces fines for bringing on the Christmas spirit too early” via The Associated Press — A Florida family is in trouble with their homeowners’ association for putting up their Christmas lights too early. The Moffa family hired a company to decorate the yard of their Tampa home on Nov. 6. Days later, they received a letter notifying them that they now face a fine for violating their HOA agreement. If they don’t remove the lights, they could face fines of $100 a day, up to $1,000, the letter said. Michael Moffa said he has no plans to remove the lights. An attorney for the Westchase Community Association said a neighbor complained about the display. Moffa said, however, that the association hasn’t been receptive even after they offered to keep the lights off until Thanksgiving.

What Kevin Sweeny is reading — “‘Tis the season: Celebrate the holidays with St. Augustine’s annual Nights of Lights” via Sheldon Gardner of The St. Augustine Record — Nights of Lights season kicks off Saturday in St. Augustine, and this year will be a little different: Some West King Street businesses will participate in the festivities for the first time. From St. Augustine’s historic public square to the bayfront, City Hall and beyond, downtown will glow with millions of white lights every evening through Jan. 30. Saturday’s festivities kick off with performances in downtown St. Augustine. This year’s lighting honorees are Jennifer Wills, program coordinator for Flagler Health+ Care Connect, and Dr. Javier Aduen, critical care physician at Flagler Health+.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Image via the City of St. Augustine.

What David Johnson is reading — “Braves brace for big Spring Training push in North Port after winning 2021 World Series” via Earle Kimel of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — When the Atlanta Braves clinched the 2021 World Series with a 7-0 Game 6 victory over the Houston Astros on Nov. 2, it was the fourth world title for the 145-year-old franchise and its first since 1995. When pitchers and catchers report to CoolToday Park on Feb. 14 to start 2022 preparing for the next Major League season, it will also mark the first time Sarasota County has hosted a World Series champion for Spring Training. Four times before, Sarasota County hosted a team the spring after its World Series appearance. “That’s quite an honor, considering the heritage and history of Spring Training baseball in Sarasota County,” said Mike Dunn, vice president of Florida Operations for the Atlanta Braves. Technically in their third season at CoolToday Park, the Braves have yet to actually host a full Spring Training schedule in North Port.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Happy birthday to Bettina Inclán-Agen, former Rep. Rich Glorioso, and Lauren Reamy. Belated happy birthday wishes to former U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, Rep. Rick Roth, Cyrus Calhoun, Brooke Heffley, Chris Spencer‘s better half, Gina, and Rick Wilson.

___

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 FloridaPolitics.com, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


One comment

  • Tom

    November 22, 2021 at 7:35 am

    Great report on Florida’s economy Friday and now a another positive report on Gov. Ron’s polling vs crispy & fraud. He’s up 6 to 9 pts vs both.

    Unemployment ticked down to 4.6% from 4.8% last month. Job opportunities galore in Florida. 12 months of continued job growth.

    America’s Governor continues to make a difference in people’s lives, freedom, liberty, justice, faith and opportunity. Not extremism.

    Governor Ron continues to demonstrate leadership.

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