It’s always a busy week in Florida Politics, and this one brought plenty of fundraising boasts, personal honors and bills, bills, bills signed by the dozen.
Joe Henderson is off this weekend, but that doesn’t mean we missed the stories of inspiration and the self-lampooning that keep Florida’s reputation as America’s greatest paradise and reason for facepalms intact.
Honorable mention: Benjamin Ferencz. The last living prosecutor in the Nuremberg trials received a visit from Gov. Ron DeSantis this week and accepted the Governor’s Medal of Freedom. The 102-year-old used the platform to continue pushing for justice on the international stage.
He demanded the nation not become complacent and cited images coming out of Ukraine today as Russian President Vladimir Putin continues his invasion. “People see the pictures on television, people running with their infant children, hospitals being bombed. And we have not yet learned the lesson from Nuremberg.”
Florida is blessed that we still have Ferencz to teach it to us.
Almost (but not quite) biggest winner: Rick Scott. Say what you will on that 11-point plan — Democrats sure like to talk about it more than Mitch McConnell does — but after the introduction of the midterm platform, the National Republican Senate Committee under the Senator’s leadership enjoyed its best fundraising quarter ever at the start of 2022.
“Senate Republicans have the war chest and the enthusiasm to oust radical Senate Democrats in November,” Scott said.
While that remains to be seen, it’s a mission made a lot easier with another $43 million in the bank. More than $13 million of that came in March alone.
Biggest winner: Ketanji Brown Jackson. It’s hard to argue a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land isn’t the biggest trophy to land on a Florida mantel this week.
The student body president for the Miami Palmetto Senior High Class of 1988 may not have convinced either of Florida’s U.S. Senators to support her confirmation as the first Black woman — and first Floridian — to the U.S. Supreme Court. And yes, Jackson technically was born in Washington, but all of Florida can bask in her ascension on the bench.
Parents Johnny and Ellery Brown both hail from South Florida, and raised their daughter here most of her life. Her father served for years as School Board Attorney for the Miami-Dade School District while her mother was a principal at New World School of the Arts. Another person sharing the win? Rep. Frederica Wilson, who early lobbied President Joe Biden to pick one of Miami’s favorite daughters as his first choice for SCOTUS.
But the 51-year-old Jackson enjoys the greatest spoils as the 116th jurist ever to don the robes, succeeding mentor Stephen Breyer in the Summer. At that point, she holds one of nine voices on the most legally contentious issues of the day, and will keep it until she retires or expires.
Dishonorable mention: Manatees. State-sanctioned feeding is over, but the pollution in Florida’s waters remains. While more than 202,000 pounds of lettuce flowed into waters at an east coast power plant during the winter, that experimental state-sanctioned program stopped with the change of season.
But the sea cows still suffer from malnutrition. After a record 1,101 manatee deaths last year shattered records (824 died in 2018, for comparison), there’s real fear for Florida’s official marine mammal. There have been 479 deaths in 2022 to date, which is off last year’s awful pace but way up from the five-year average of 287 manatee deaths in the time period.
Almost (but not quite) biggest loser: Orlando Gudes. Things continue to look bad for the Tampa City Councilman, who this week stepped down from his role as Council Chair. More details continue to emerge about alleged sexual harassment, including revelations that an initial complaint was leveled more than a year ago. He has issued a statement accepting some responsibility for lewd comments but still won’t resign.
He may be able to run out the clock on the last weeks of his term in office, but legal trouble only seems to be escalating. While he continues to argue the city has no authority to discipline him in any way for his conduct, the best he can hope for this time is to fade into obscurity.
The biggest loser: Matt Gaetz. It’s one thing to vote against lowering the price of insulin. It’s another entirely to blame obese people for the rise in need for the drug.
Between a nonsensical feud with Jimmy Kimmel, national scrutiny around any Joel Greenberg deal-cutting and an insistence on keeping Marjorie Taylor Greene’s number handy when he needs a podcast guest, there’s plenty of reason to slam Gaetz this week.
He accused America’s military of teaching soldiers to “embrace socialism,” called Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin “woke” (very original) and said he felt “embarrassed” by him. Not the best look for the Representative of a military community. Veteran groups responded by labeling Gaetz as a “total clown.”
Then he decided, in concert, with Greene to mock the push for “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” a song penned in Jacksonville by James Weldon Johnson, to become the nation’s national hymn.
But nothing takes the cake like his justification for letting pharma continue to bilk patients for medicine.
“Arbitrary price controls are no substitute for individual weight control,” he wrote in a newsletter on purpose.
Let’s just say this isn’t who anyone needs to give a lecture on impulse control.