Winner and Loser of the Week in Florida politics — Week of 2.6.22

Dr. Anthony Fauci had some winning news for a change, but state Rep. Randy Fine did not.

An amazing thing happened the other day.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell smacked his own Republican Party around. He had good reason to do that because many in the GOP are trying to rewrite history. Those simpletons say the Jan. 6 insurrection was basically a garden party that got a little wild.

They are wrong.

“We saw it happen,” McConnell said.

He called it “a violent insurrection” to “prevent the peaceful transfer of power.”

“That’s what it was,” he concluded.

McConnell is correct.

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel orchestrated censures of GOP Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. Their crime? They called B.S. on their party’s version of the Capitol attack. They also serve on the January 6 committee investigating the riot.

The censure resolution includes an astonishing statement.

“Representatives Cheney and Kinzinger are participating in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse,” it says.

Legitimate. Political. Discourse.

Try not to throw up in your mouth.

Donald Trump urged the attack and his supporters took it from there. If it had instead been antifa, McDaniel would have demanded public executions.

This brings us back to McConnell. He said the RNC shouldn’t be “singling out members … who may have different views from the majority.”

McConnell is one of the craftiest politicians in the last century. He thought this out before opening his mouth. I suspect he senses the Trump influence waning.

McConnell wants to make sure he’s at the forefront of a rebuilt Republican Party if that read is correct.

Now, on to our weekly game of winners and losers.


Honorable mention: Gov. Ron DeSantis. His goliath-sized money machine continues to operate at full steam.

The Friends of Ron DeSantis political committee brought in $7.7 million in January, leaving DeSantis with $77.8 million cash on hand for his re-election campaign.

Putting this in perspective, Democratic challenger Charlie Crist — who polls show leads for his party’s nomination — entered January with $3.8 million in the bank.

Almost (but not quite) biggest winner: Disney theme parks. The Mouse roared during the entertainment giant’s first fiscal quarter of 2022, bringing in a near-record $7.2 billion.

The Orlando Sentinel reported that it’s more than double the amount Disney made in the same period in 2021. It nearly matched the $7.4 billion the company made in the pre-pandemic first quarter of 2020.

Disney’s parks division reported higher operating costs. But increased spending by visitors on hotels, merchandise, food and beverages offset those expenses.

The biggest winner: All of us. Finally, Dr. Anthony Fauci said something upbeat.

He told the Financial Times there are increasing signs the pandemic could be nearing its end.

“As we get out of the full-blown pandemic phase of COVID-19, which we are certainly heading out of, these decisions will increasingly be made on a local level rather than centrally decided or mandated,” Fauci told the Times. “There will also be more people making their own decisions on how they want to deal with the virus.”

That doesn’t mean the coronavirus will vanish, never to return. But as more states ease virus mitigation steps, it’s a sign the lethal bug loosened its grip on us.

“There is no way we are going to eradicate this virus,” Fauci said. “But I hope we are looking at a time when we have enough people vaccinated and enough people with protection from previous infection that the COVID restrictions will soon be a thing of the past.”


Dishonorable mention: Constitutional carry. The push by gun-rights advocates for the right to openly carry firearms with no restrictions appears doomed. HB 103 remains stuck in the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, with no sign it will even get a hearing.

That’s a big defeat for gun nut — er, Second Amendment proponent — state Rep. Anthony Sabatini, who should be used to this by now. Sabatini offered the bill, but it’s going to the same place nearly all of his proposals go — the dumper.

This turn of events sparked an entertaining back-and-forth after Sabatini lashed out at House Speaker Chris Sprowls, a fellow Republican, on Twitter.

“RINO Cowards like Chris Sprowls are once again BLOCKING Constitutional Carry! When will people wake up and vote these TRASH establishment ‘Republicans’ out?!” he tweeted. “FYI — if your Representative and/or Senator is silent on Constitutional Carry, that means they are working AGAINST you!!!”

Republican state Sen. Chris Latvala then joined the fray.

“Hey moron, who is your Senate sponsor? Surely you know how to pass a bill by now,” Latvala posted.

There’s no companion bill filed in the upper chamber on this issue.

“The ineffective ‘Rep’ who has to claim victories through co-sponsorship requests wants to trash genuinely good human beings to be relevant to his followers,” posted Rep. Kaylee Tuck, a Lake Placid Republican. “I guess Session gets boring when none of your bills move. Do we have office space available on the 23rd floor?”

Sprowls earlier banished Sabatini to an office in the Capitol basement, only because he couldn’t find anything lower.

Almost (but not quite) biggest loser: Sen. Ileana Garcia. The Miami Republican went off the rails during a Senate committee hearing. Hallandale Beach City Commissioner Sabrina Javellana spoke about the trauma she experienced when she was the victim of deepfake images.

In Javellana’s case, images were hijacked from her social media accounts and doctored to look pornographic. The creep then posted them on anonymous websites.

Garcia started OK, saying, “It had never dawned on me how bad the situation is …”

She should have stopped right there but continued, “… but sometimes it’s caused by, I don’t know, I guess, our journey for validation.”

She added, “I think that the responsibility starts with us, with you, and the content that you put out there. We expose too much of ourselves sometimes.”

Sen. Lauren Book, also a victim of a deepfake, quickly put things in their proper perspective.

“I didn’t put my images out there. I didn’t parade them on social media,” Book said. “They were stolen from me and my family, put out there, created, disseminated, and are being sold. I’ll never get them back.”

Javellana called Garcia’s comments “victim shaming.”

Garcia said that’s not what she intended, but that’s how it came across.

The biggest loser: Randy Fine. The Republican state Representative from Palm Bay took a mean-spirited jab at public schools. Not all public schools, mind you. Just the ones in districts that didn’t pay homage to the Governor’s prohibition of mask mandates.

Fine proposed shifting $200 million in school funding from the 12 districts that prioritized protection over DeSantis’ naked political ploy.

Fine, who called those districts the dirty dozen, said the state would share the money with the 55 districts that complied with the order.

Here’s the problem with that.

First, the “dirty dozen” includes some of the largest districts in the state. Fine’s idea would directly harm thousands of students, the group at the center of the mask/no-mask debate.

“I don’t think it’s punitive; I think it’s holding people accountable,” Fine said, with his nose growing larger by the second.

That’s baloney because it is punitive, and everyone knows that.

Democratic state Rep. Fentrice Driskell said it perfectly.

“It is unfortunate and disingenuous to punish school districts for attempting to stay above politics and keep children safe,” she tweeted.

Fine argued that all Florida districts would see overall increases in the proposed $105.3 billion state budget. By that twisted logic, the “accountable” penalty won’t hurt that much.

He is wrong.

It’s just the latest example of what happens when one party believes it is not accountable (that word again) to the half of the state that didn’t vote for them.

It’s a bullying tactic and unworthy of a serious lawmaker.

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.


  • zhombre

    February 13, 2022 at 8:25 am

    The Losers of the Week are, as always, the pretentious media hacks who delude themselves and their dwindling audiences into thinking they have any insight into picking the winners and loser.

  • politics

    February 13, 2022 at 8:30 am

    It is the day you all figure out the internet is spyware and hacking is a bonus

  • Antonio

    February 13, 2022 at 10:21 am

    Florida Politics, can you please hire writers that at least pretend to be unbiased and professional? This is a joke. How can you expect to trust you to accurately report on Florida politics (the name of your own website) when you publish them from a clearly leftist perspective? You are actively contributing to the distrust in media.

  • diane

    February 13, 2022 at 12:40 pm

    Mr. Henderson, thanks for your cut-to-the-chase rundown of political shenanigans. I’m recommending Florida Politics to my critically-thinking Friends!

  • Tom

    February 13, 2022 at 3:23 pm

    Diane LMAO. Critically thinking friends, such as Dem, Dum Manchurian hacks.

    Joe, How bout this critical thinking for Losers:
    Dum Dem tyrannical blue state Govs, finally following America’s Govs lead on relinquishing tyrannical extremist policies.

    Gov Ron proving again why he is America’s Governor! Governor U S A. Blue stare Govs are running away from Biden, Fauci. Fauci ism is a failed state.

    Florida freedom, number 1 across the board.
    Gov Ron, First to Open Schools, education expanded Scholarships, jobs businesses, employment opportunity, pro environment. Florida leads in all above areas and quality quality of life, happy people and families.
    Florida future the best with Gov Ron.
    Wins big in 11/22 W H after 24.

Comments are closed.


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