Winner and Loser of the Week in Florida politics — Week of 3.20.22

The Supreme Court may soon have a new justice from Miami, but what's up with Florida Dems?

The game’s afoot in Tallahassee.

The news broke late in the week that there may be some potholes in Senate President Wilton Simpson’s once smooth path to becoming Florida’s next Agriculture Commissioner.

POLITICO Florida reported that 32-year-old Afghanistan war veteran and Black Hawk pilot Chuck Nadd may challenge Simpson in the Republican Primary. If Nadd sounds familiar, it could be that you remember the Budweiser commercial about him during the Super Bowl.

There’s a bigger story, though.

Nadd told POLITICO in a statement that — get this — Simpson isn’t a strong enough supporter of Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“Unfortunately, corrupt career politicians like Wilton Simpson have done nothing but stand in his way,” Nadd said. “My wife Shannon and I refuse to let the Tallahassee establishment reverse the Governor’s hard-fought victories.

“Floridians deserve a battle-tested leader in the Florida Cabinet who will serve alongside the Governor and fight for our shared priorities over the next two or four years, not roadblock them.”

This ought to be good.

Simpson already has Donald Trump’s endorsement. And it would appear that Nadd’s entry, which has been rumored for a few weeks, seemed to have some of the Governor’s fingerprints on the decision. The DeSantis camp said they had no involvement in this.

Before we get too far into that, the Agriculture Commissioner job is supposed to be about, you know, agriculture. Simpson is a successful farmer. Nadd fought terrorists — we thank him for his service — but that’s not the same thing as eradicating citrus greening.

And, to suggest that Simpson was a great roadblock to DeSantis’ agenda this year is a huge stretch. The Governor has been on a victory lap since the Session ended.

True, Simpson and DeSantis don’t see eye to eye on the Governor’s proposed congressional maps. That’s probably what sent this over the top.

Nadd also said he plans to attack Simpson on guns, which is another major stretch.

Simpson was endorsed by the NRA, whose Grand Dame, Marion Hammer, said, “A lot of people talk about defending the Second Amendment, but Wilton Simpson has actually defended our right to bear arms.”

Given all that, Nadd’s entry seems like the longest of shots.

But isn’t that what everyone said four years ago when DeSantis was a little-known congressman from Jacksonville? Remember how Adam Putnam was rolling toward the Governor’s mansion until he wasn’t?

Stay tuned.

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


Honorable mention: The Palm Beach Post. Here is the latest example of why newspapers matter. A Post analysis concluded the state overcounted COVID-19 vaccinations by 600,000 people.

The Post said that more than 100 Florida ZIP codes each reported that more than 100% of their residents had at least one vaccine shot. And in some cases, the Post said, “the number of vaccine recipients recorded by the state Health Department exceeded U.S. Census population estimates by more than 1,000%.

Added together, the ZIP codes in question counted 622,000 more vaccinations than the number of permanent residents.

Some of the numbers could be driven by seasonal visitors from out of state, but we don’t know for sure. Florida doesn’t report those numbers.

The state also has no plans to look into what the Post reported.

Almost (but not quite) biggest winner: The University of South Florida. It’s a great time to be a USF Bull.

House Speaker Chris Sprowls and Senate President Simpson made it rain for USF in the recent Legislative Session.

USF is slated to get $75 million for a new ocean science building on its St. Petersburg campus, but that’s not all. It is also receiving millions more for cyber security and nursing. It’s record funding for USF.

Oh, and the university completed its search for a new president by naming Rhea Law to the post. She served as interim president while USF conducted a national search.

Law is a long-time civic and business leader in the Tampa Bay area. She’s also a USF alum, which helped. She thanked Sprowls, also a USF grad, Simpson, and the Tampa Bay delegation for their work.

“The investments proposed for USF will help us continue our tremendous momentum and have a lasting impact on the Tampa Bay region for generations to come,” Law said.

Let’s not forget former House Speaker Will Weatherford, who serves as head of the USF trustees. Weatherford and Law are huge advocates for an on-campus football stadium, and guess what? The school recently announced it has chosen a site for that.

The biggest winner: Ketanji Brown Jackson. The nominee from Miami to fill the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy when Justice Stephen Breyer retires showed grace under fire during her interrogation — uh, confirmation hearing — by some Republicans in the U.S. Senate.

Her record as a judge is fair game when one is considered for the highest court in the land. However, the direction Sen. Josh Hawley took in bringing up why Jackson gave a lenient sentence to an 18-year-old in a child pornography case seemed directly aimed at the QAnon crowd.

Federal guidelines recommended a minimum of 97 months in prison for the offender, but even the prosecution said that was too much. Prosecutors recommended two years in prison, but Jackson gave him three months of incarceration plus 73 months of supervised release.

Hawley, plus Sens. Marsha Blackburn, Tom Cotton, Ted Cruz, and Mike Lee all implied Jackson was soft on sexual predators.

Why would they do that?

Because the Q crowd, remember, says Democrats engage in sex trafficking of children. Worse, according to one poll, 59% of Trump supporters believe that’s true.

These dog whistles do have potential ramifications. Remember Pizzagate? That happened in 2016, when a guy starting shooting at a pizza parlor in Washington where he believed Hillary Clinton and John Podesta, her former campaign chair, ran a child sex ring.

Jackson held up well, though, and the Senate likely will confirm her appointment.

Dishonorable mention: Taylor Walls. A second baseman for the Tampa Bay Rays, Walls became an unwitting center of attention on social media. That’s because he expressed his opinion on the transgender sports issue, which public figures — and he is one — do at their own risk these days.

As we know, DeSantis has issues with transgender women competing with cisgender women in sports events. Never one to miss a campaign moment, DeSantis quickly weighed in after transgender woman Lia Thomas won an event at the national NCAA swim meet.

DeSantis blasted the NCAA for “destroying opportunities for women, making a mockery of its championships and perpetuating a fraud.”

Enter Taylor Walls.

He retweeted DeSantis’ tweet, adding, “Couldn’t agree more.”

Release the hounds!

Social media may be the most ironically named platform of all time, since, as Walls quickly learned, it’s anything but social.

As Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times wrote, “By the end of the afternoon, Walls found everything from his political beliefs to his hairstyle being debated by commenters on both sides of the issue.”

Rays Manager Kevin Cash punctuated the second-year player’s day with a lecture about what can happen when one ventures into social media.

“In my opinion, I don’t think I did anything wrong,” Walls told the Times. “I think I just gave my opinion. Some people may have taken that out of context. And I’m very sorry to them. I respect them. I don’t mean any disrespect to anybody at all.”

He didn’t do anything wrong.

However, pssst, kid? As someone known for giving my opinion, often the best key to use before sending a tweet is the delete key. Just sayin’.

Almost (but not quite) biggest loser: DeSantis campaign. The campaign signed up UFC star Jorge Masvidal to join the Governor at a campaign rally in Miami.

The problem is that the announcement of Masvidal’s appearance for the March 30 event came as police investigated — then arrested — Masvidal on felony charges of aggravated battery and criminal mischief. The charges stem from a fight with UFC rival Colby Covington outside of Papi Steak restaurant in Miami Beach last Monday night.

Covington suffered a fractured tooth in the altercation.

Covington recently defeated Masvidal in the featured bout of a PPV event.

The biggest loser: Florida Democrats. Speaking of clueless, ever wonder why many people believe they could mess up a one-car parade? It’s because Democrats keep doing just that.

They have a knack for appearing clueless at the oddest times, such as when they scheduled a major Leadership Blue conference for June 17-19 at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort.

Let’s see, hmm….what else was going on at that time?

A): Pride Month (strike one);  B) Juneteenth (strike two); and Father’s Day (strike three, yer OUT!).

On top of that, holding the event at a Disney property exhibited a disconnect because — I don’t know if you’ve heard this — the LGBTQ+ community has issues with Disney’s initial silence on Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

“Scheduling Leadership Blue at Disney during Pride Month this year is nothing but tone-deaf. To put it another way: FDP — read the room,” LGBTQ+ Caucus President Stephen Gaskill said in a news release following the announcement of the party’s “save the date” for the event.

Democrats got the message, although it came after the pie hit them squarely in the face. They will reschedule the conference.

“We have heard the feedback regarding our Leadership Blue weekend, including conflicts with Pride Month, Juneteenth, and Father’s Day events, all of which we intended to honor,” Party Chair Manny Diaz said in a news release.

“Our timing was not ideal. We also acknowledge that in our fight for freedom and fairness, we can always do more. In that spirit, the Florida Democratic Party will choose new dates and venues to hold Leadership Blue. We will share information about new arrangements once we have explored available options.”

Friendly suggestion: Don’t go for the Fourth of July.

Joe Henderson

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


  • Tom

    March 27, 2022 at 6:38 am

    Biggest winner:

    People’s of Florida, Florida’s economy and unemployment continue to grow under America’s Governor. Florida’s unemployment dropped this past Friday to pre pandemic job rate of 3.3%. Due to Gov Ron, shepherding the states growth during Covid pandemic, Florida is the hot economy. Small Business owners, Corp businesses, small business investors, working families, middle class, blue collar, working class, young people, minorities, and college graduates have all benefited from Governor Ron, America’s Governor as he has ensured Floridians prosper. As Florida grows, so does America’s economy.

    JFk, “A rising tide lifts all boats”, Governor DeSantis ensured Florida’s dramatic example when he kept Florida open. He kept education and schools open, ensuring students and parents didn’t unduly suffer. Florida is leading the USA in recovery due to America’s Governor.
    Due for America, What he’s done for Florida.

    People are working, earning and benefiting in Florida. Thanks to Gov Ron the quality of life in
    Florida is second to none. Bless him!

    • Alex

      March 27, 2022 at 7:07 am

      America’s Governor is a Vote where the Economy is greater importance than The DEAD from COVID-19.

      There’s a platform to be proud of!!! Going to win Bigly on the backs of the DEAD! DemDums going getting a shalacking! (because we condone killing people for the sake of the almighty dollar).

      Terrorist Tom says so. 34% IN FL for Biden and Giggles, RED STORM COMING.

      GTFO old man. You sound like a terrorist.

      • Tom

        March 27, 2022 at 9:14 am

        Alex you are back!
        Released in full form. Bring it on.
        So you label opponents as terrorist, if they don’t drink and sing Manchurian Dums camp song!

        You are nuts, people’s have never been more happier in Florida. School voucher choice, education reforms, economic growth jobs opportunity, environmental policy, Covid relief- more seniors inoculated in the country, per Biden HHS. I can go on.

        You Manchurian 5% are hanging on, no hope,no chance, no future.

        America’s Governor is the conservative Repub. leader. Camillion crispy critters, nikki bong a thong fraud, no chance, dum dum demings. No chance. Wait til the demings political machine is investigated in Orlando. LMAO.

        Btw, CDC being investigated for repeated fake accounting and reporting of deaths in Florida.

        Cuomo and Michigan’s whitmer reported more deaths in ordered nursing homes.

        You got nothing, you are a false flag operative like peter h. Call JD, you can’t play with me. Your dealing with a legend. Thanks for attacking me as the FP legend grows.

        Civiqs poll you Manchurian, says Potus at 34 in Florida. I am a poly scientist, student of Congress and Presidency. Any historic objective standard tells us, 40% approval is disastrous. Facts, RCP avg. has him at 41%, on specific issues he’s in the 30’s. 65% find Biden not capable. Biden is toast. 20 to 60 seats flipping. 6 senate seats.

        America’s Gov is 10%to 15% ahead of his opponents. He will go on and defeat Biden or Harris!

        You got nothing Alex. Btw, did they let you leave with straight jacket on or off. Bring it on Manchurians, go ahead make my day! I suffer you all happily.

        • Inmates are Running the Asylum

          March 27, 2022 at 10:05 am

          You realize you’re being a FREE shill for FP to sell more advertising right?

          Every comment you write that someone writes back on generates more traffic. That traffic records as “pageviews”, and the greater time to write a comment on the page helps the “bounce rate”.

          These are some of the metrics they sell web advertising from. Ask for lengendary royalities.

  • Tom

    March 27, 2022 at 10:01 am

    New NBC poll spells disaster for you Biden Manchurians Released today. It’s before the disastrous trip to NATO and Poland. Getting your ass kicked Alex, really going to be a long day for u. What a incompetent WH and POTUS.

    • Sister Gentle Blossom, Tallahassee School for Budding Boys

      March 27, 2022 at 10:22 am

      NBC? My goodness, Tommy, the last time you mentioned NBC it was to condemn it for being fake news. You really must strive to be more consistent in your proclamations. And your language regarding Alex’s derrière is shameful, especially coming from a man whose words here express a desire to spread his cheeks and get some loving from the governor you so desire to please. Hopefully he will fulfill your dream someday, bless your heart.

      • Tom

        March 27, 2022 at 10:50 am

        Laugh my ass off Sista!
        Bless you, you know so much bout spreading cheeks when you kneel. You are known as the Sista spreader kneeler. You are also known as automatic Sista kneeler. How you do both from that position is legendary.

        Yes, correct Sista NBC is corrupt but it’s the WSJ, NBC poll. It’s known as a gold standard poll, even “chick” todd has to report it, without Dum Manchurian spin. His corrupt Dum operative wife has to accept it. As does Savannah, whose husband is corrupt Dum operative. Just like ABC’s Georgie boy.

        Sista, judge jackson can’t tell us if your a woman. We know as the queen Sista kneeler, you are a kneeler woman.

        Defending Alex makes me laugh. America’s Gov kicks your ass and the rest of your Manchurian haters. DeSantis is the real deal, you haters can’t stand it. Who you got, giggles Harris, alzie Joe, bong a thong fraud, Camillion crispy?

        You can’t play with me sista, but you do kneel. Thanks for making me laugh.

        Bring it on Manchurian nation. I suffer you all heartedly. I am FP legend. As Clint says, and Reagan made famous, “come on make my day!”

  • Diane

    March 27, 2022 at 10:37 am

    Wow! Move over Parler, right-wing hate has found a new home.

    • Tom

      March 27, 2022 at 10:53 am

      Yes, left ring racism, hate and stupidity. It’s quite a trifecta.
      Go help Sista.

  • Ken Willey

    March 28, 2022 at 6:54 am

    Of course Nadd can hit Simpson on guns. Gun owners won’t forget that Simpson ran for reelection on being the author of the Parkland gun control bill. Gun owners will remind Marion Hammer that she correctly called Simpson, and every other Republican who voted for SB7026, a betrayer. I’m sure more gun owners will be interested to learn how insiders said Simpson told Republican senators to not introduce a constitutional carry bill, or else.

    Wilton Simpson isn’t weak on guns, he’s bad on guns.

Comments are closed.


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