Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 4.12.22

Sunburn Orange Tally (8)
‘Sunburn’ tells you what you need to know — now.

Good Tuesday morning.

A top-of-Sunburn birthday shoutout to one of our besties, Stephanie Cardozo, External Affairs Director to Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.


The state’s congressional districts are still a question mark, but the Florida Chamber of Commerce has heaps of data on the new state House and Senate district maps approved by lawmakers in the 2022 Legislative Session.

The Florida Chamber’s political operations subdivision on Monday provided an overview of that data and how it could potentially impact the makeup of the Florida Legislature. The short version: Things are looking good for Florida Republicans.

Chamber research shows the new map is a match for the old one with 45 solid Republican seats. However, the number of seats that are competitive but lean toward Republicans has increased. With President Joe Biden, and by extension Democrats, struggling in the polls, a handful of districts that typically lean toward Democrats are also in play.

One example is HD 91, which is currently held by Democratic Rep. Emily Slosberg-King, who announced earlier this year that she would not run for re-election. Data shows Democrats have a four-point advantage in the Boca Raton-based district, but if Democrats continue slipping in the polls it will be very much in play.

Emily Slosberg-King is retiring from a district that will likely be less blue.

Democratic Rep. Allison Tant, who is running in the new HD 10, could also face a tough re-election battle since the district has added Republican-leaning portions of Jefferson and Madison counties. Her fate will likely be decided based on turnout among younger and minority voters in the Tallahassee portion of the district.

Meanwhile, the Senate map will see Republicans on defense in two districts. The first is SD 10, where incumbent Republican Sen. Jason Brodeur is likely to face Democratic Rep. Joy Goff-Marcil. The other is SD 36, where incumbent Republican Sen. Ileana Garcia is competing against Democratic Rep. Michael Grieco. Garcia’s seat, in particular, has become more favorable for Republicans, data shows.


Here are a few other things I’m reading:

😴 — The President’s party typically underperforms in the midterms, and the trend will likely continue in 2022. In fact, it might even be worse than expected. According to Slow Boring, Democrats are currently expected to capture 48.7% of the vote nationwide, which is about 1.2 points above average. But once polling bias and the potential for a further decline in the polls over the next seven months are factored in, it looks like Democrats are sleepwalking into a disaster.

🐘 — Big-city Republicans are increasingly outliers within their party, according to Alex Samuels of FiveThirtyEight. Only a few bother to vote in primary elections — just 6% turned out for a recent one in Austin, Tex., for example. Even fewer are willing to wear their party affiliation on their sleeve. As one Texas voter recalled: “This primary cycle, I didn’t see any Republican signs in my area, but in 2020 I saw a lot of signs for (Republican) Rep. Chip Roy.”



@ElectProject: Florida’s Legislature has punted congressional redistricting to (Ron) DeSantis. The moves put the state legislative districts in jeopardy. If the Legislature doesn’t think the 5th CD is protected by Florida’s constitution, there are many state legislative districts that aren’t

@ChristinaPushaw: I don’t have a problem with people who do rain-dances every morning. Just don’t demand that the government mandate rain-dances as a mitigation against wildfires.

@fineout: There’s more: Another new filing from today show that Disney also gave $65k on Jan. 10 to the Fla. Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee led by @Kathleen4SWFL

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:

@JacobPerryFL: I know that no one really cares about this, but the Governor of Florida is basically demanding that the Legislature draw Congressional maps to his own liking, which is blatantly and embarrassingly unconstitutional. But let’s ignore it all, I guess.

@KKFla737: In 49 states, either legislators, independent commissions or courts draw congressional districts. In Florida, one man, the Governor draws them. Anyone care to continue (wrongly) claiming (random GOPer) is more autocratic or dangerous than DeSantis?!? He’s one-of-a-kind.

Tweet, tweet:

@BrittanyWallman: Quite a few people in this new jury pool say they can’t afford to serve on this long jury to decide whether Nikolas Cruz should be executed. Many are self-employed or work for an entity that won’t pay while they’re serving.

@ArekSarkissian: Live from downtown — @TallyPD is pursuing a car traveling the wrong way on Duval. Went whizzing by the College Road intersection.


‘Better Call Saul’ final season begins — 6; Magic Johnson’s Apple TV+ docuseries ‘They Call Me Magic’ begins — 10; 2022 Florida Chamber Transportation, Growth & Infrastructure Solution Summit — 16; ‘The Godfather’ TV series ‘The Offer’ premieres — 16; 2nd half of ‘Ozark’ final season begins — 17; ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 24; Florida TaxWatch’s Spring Meeting — 30; ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ starts on Disney+ — 44; ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ premieres — 45; ‘Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 51; California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota hold midterm Primaries — 56; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 87; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 100; Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner novel ‘Heat 2’ publishes — 119; ‘House of the Dragon’ premieres on HBO — 131; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 143; 2022 Emmys — 153; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 178; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 196; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 196; ‘Black Panther 2′ premieres — 213; ‘Captain Marvel 2’ premieres — 213; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 218; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 223; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 223; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 224; ‘Avatar 2′ premieres — 248; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 329; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4’ premieres — 346; 2023 Session Sine Die — 388; ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 472; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 556; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 836.


Ron DeSantis will map Florida’s congressional districts, legislative leaders announce” via Ana Ceballos of the Miami Herald — Florida’s Republican legislative leaders announced on Monday that they are not crafting a new congressional map but will instead defer to DeSantis to draft new maps that will be to his liking.

The unusual move comes a week before lawmakers are scheduled to head back to Tallahassee to address the state’s redistricting maps after DeSantis vetoed a congressional map approved by the GOP-dominated Legislature last month. Historically, the Legislature had led the redistricting process.

The change to the status quo shows just how much influence and power DeSantis wields over legislators and the once-in-a-decade process of redrawing lines for congressional districts.

Lawmakers are conceding congressional redistricting to Ron DeSantis. Image via AP.

— 2022 —

School reopening mess drives frustrated parents toward GOP” via Michael C. Bender of The Wall Street Journal — The defection of once-loyal voters — along with disapproval from independents — is among the challenges Democrats face in their bid to retain control of Congress and win state-level races in this November’s midterm elections. These voters say Democratic officials left pandemic restrictions in place too long and mishandled the health crisis, with devastating consequences for their children, while Republicans have generally pushed to minimize school closures and keep the economy open. The party out of power usually wins midterm elections during a president’s first term. Public-opinion surveys signal that the trend is holding firm. A Wall Street Journal poll taken in March showed that 46% of U.S. voters plan to back Republican candidates for Congress, while 41% would support Democrats.

Donald Trump would ‘destroy’ a DeSantis presidential run with a single tweet, says Nikki Fried” via Kimberly Leonard of Business Insider — “If, in fact, President Trump decides to run again, it will be his No. 1 mission to take down Ron DeSantis,” Fried told Insider. “At the end of the day, Trump made DeSantis with one tweet, and if Trump gets back onto Twitter thanks to Elon Musk, then I say one tweet created him, and one tweet can destroy him.” Fried isn’t the first to wonder whether Musk could let Trump back onto the platform, given that the entrepreneur became Twitter’s lead shareholder last week. However, Twitter announced that Musk would no longer be joining Twitter’s board.

Donald Trump may have made Ron DeSantis Governor, but can he break him as a presidential candidate?

Fried supports housing state of emergency, task force in campaign policy plan” via Bianca Padró Ocasio of the Miami Herald — If elected Governor, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Fried wants to declare a housing state of emergency, promises to veto bills that divert money from the state’s Sadowski funds for affordable housing and would create a planning task force to address affordability. The proposals are part of a new affordable housing policy plan that Fried, a Democrat running for Governor, is announcing on Monday in Miami, as she launches a statewide tour focusing on Florida’s affordability and housing crisis. It is her first policy plan rollout as she campaigns for Governor, and she is expected to make campaign stops in six Florida cities over the next two weeks. The proposal calls for expanding homestead exemptions up to $100,000.

Fried launches ‘Lower Costs, Higher Standards’ policy tour in Little Havana — Fried announced a policy plan that includes declaring a housing state of emergency, expanding the Homestead Exemption from $50,000 to $100,000, and a commitment to veto of any attempts to raid Florida’s Affordable Housing funds. “For more than a year, I’ve been campaigning for Governor by listening to Floridians, not talking at them. And it’s very clear to me what Floridians need in their next Governor. We need a Governor who is working every day to lower our cost of living and raise our standard of living. And that’s exactly what I’m going to do. And it starts with housing.”

—”Fried promises Broward County faithful she will fight to win” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics

Fried says she’s not dropping out of Governor’s race to run for Congress” via Anthony Man of the Sun Sentinel — Asked in a telephone interview about the chatter among some in Broward political circles, she burst out laughing, and emphatically said it’s not true. Fried … was living in Broward before she ran for Agriculture Commissioner, the job she currently holds, in 2018. The congressional district — mostly in Broward plus part of Palm Beach County — is represented by U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch will open up this year because the incumbent announced on Feb. 28 he isn’t running for re-election. … Fried said she’s never considered it, and said supporters of one of the other Democratic gubernatorial candidates are responsible for spreading the notion. ‘That is an absolute, made-up rumor by the Charlie Crist campaign because that’s what they were hoping for,’ she said. Some Crist supporters have been open in their desire for Fried to bow out of the primary, but the congressional rumor had circulated recently beyond his camp.

Charlie Crist on Vanity Fair podcast talks campaign of hope and ‘Golden Rule’” via Vanity Fair — Vanity Fair’s Joe Hagan hosted Crist on his “Inside the Hive” podcast to discuss the hope Crist’s “golden rule” campaign to restore decency, respect and kindness to Tallahassee. “I think we have a great opportunity to get Florida back and let the nation know [DeSantis] won the governorship by the smallest margin in the history of our state,” Crist said. “[DeSantis] is terribly vulnerable. His support is a mile wide and an inch deep. He’s a paper tiger.” Listen here.

Crist slams Gov. DeSantis’ ‘interference’ in redistricting process — Democratic U.S. Re. Crist blasted DeSantis after legislative leaders announced they would defer to his office rather than craft their own congressional maps. “Gov. DeSantis has chosen time and again to put his national ambitions ahead of the people of Florida. The Governor’s intention to gerrymander Florida’s congressional maps has always been about silencing the voices of Black, Hispanic, and minority voters for political gain, wiping out some of the only seats currently held by Black elected officials on both sides of the aisle,” he said. “Florida’s Republican legislators know better, having already passed a reasonable, bipartisan map. Shame on them for kowtowing to the Governor’s partisan agenda.”

Crist joins Democratic state lawmakers in condemning corporate tax refunds” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Crist joined Democratic state Reps. Anna Eskamani and Carlos Guillermo Smith of Orlando and Angie Nixon of Jacksonville in a Zoom news conference calling for an end to the tax rebates to Florida’s large, international corporations — offered as a state response to provisions in the 2017 federal tax reform act that shifted some tax burden to states. It’s an issue that Eskamani, Nixon and Smith have trumpeted many times before, starting with the first round of $524 million in refunds in 2020 that the Democrats contend went to only the largest 1% of private companies operating in Florida. Crist blasted DeSantis over the issue. “The Governor has gotten a lot of news lately for his tough-on-big-business rhetoric. Well, that couldn’t be further from the truth,” Crist said.

Assignment editorsCrist will campaign at two events: 11 a.m., West Palm Beach Seniors for Crist, West Palm Beach; 3 p.m., Boca Raton Women for Crist, Boca Raton. Location with RSVP at [email protected].

Disney cut $125K check to Florida Republicans ahead of 2022 Session — Though Disney has since paused political donations over its opposition to the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law, it donated $125,000 to the Republican Party of Florida earlier this year ahead of the 2022 Legislative Session. Gary Fineout of POLITICO Florida reported that the contribution was made across two checks that landed in RPOF’s account in January. Disney also gave $25,000 to a political committee that funds Democratic state Senate campaigns. In the weeks since Disney announced its opposition to the law, many Republicans who had received contributions from the company announced they would return them. However, Sen. Joe Gruters, who leads RPOF, did not respond to a request for comment on the contribution.

Ashley Moody raises nearly $625K in March for re-election campaign” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Attorney General Moody officially entered re-election mode in March, raising almost $625,000 for her campaign during the month. The money raised represents the strongest single month for the Republican AG since September 2021, which was the month she opened her campaign account for her re-election bid. The majority of the March haul went to an associated political committee, Friends of Ashley Moody. The $417,050 raised represented the best month for the committee since June of last year and the second-best month since the end of the 2018 campaign. Moody added $206,870 to her campaign account in March as well, with $24,000 coming in eight $3,000 checks associated with The Villages senior community in Central Florida.

Florida Bail Agents Association endorses Jimmy Patronis for re-election — The Florida Bail Agents Association on Monday endorsed CFO Patronis for re-election in November. FBAA praised the incumbent Republican, saying his “actions have continued to demonstrate steadfast governance and a dedication to the public trust. We are blessed to have the caliber of individual that we have holding the office of Florida’s Chief Financial Officer.” Patronis thanked them, saying, “The Florida Bail Agents Association President Mike Harrison and all the members come together to make sure our criminal justice system in Florida continues to serve its purpose in reducing crime and recidivism. I am grateful for their endorsement and the efforts they make in keeping our communities safe.”

Americans for Prosperity announces list of Florida congressional endorsements — Political committee Americans for Prosperity Action on Monday announced endorsements for incumbent Republican U.S. Reps. Kat Cammack, Scott Franklin and Maria Elvira Salazar. “Florida is leading the country in many ways during the difficult challenges our country faces,” AFP Action Florida senior adviser Skylar Zander said. “As the challenges continue to grow, we need strong leaders in Congress who will stand up for Florida voters who want more opportunities in the labor force and the education system, and more personal health care options. The candidates that AFP Action Florida is endorsing today will be those leaders, championing policies that help Floridians reach their full potential and succeed.” AFP Action said it would use its grassroots outreach and mobilization arms to support the candidates.

Kat Cammack, Scott Franklin and Maria Elvira Salazar get the big nod from Americans for Prosperity.

CD 22 candidate Curtis Calabrese illegally running as a Democrat, experts say” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Calabrese only recently entered the crowded race to succeed U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch in Florida’s 22nd Congressional District as a Democrat, but he may have to refile as a no party-affiliated candidate to comply with state election rules. Calabrese, a U.S. Navy air combat veteran and former Federal Aviation Administration inspector, filed his statement of candidacy for the contest on April 1. However, according to the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections records, Calabrese has only been a Democrat in Florida since March 14, just over two weeks before he filed to run in CD 22. Florida law requires candidates to be a registered member of their chosen political party at least 365 days before the beginning of the qualifying period of a General Election.

Happening tonight:

Anika Omphroy hasn’t filed a campaign finance report since November” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Democratic Rep. Omphroy, who represents central Broward County’s House District 95, has not filed a campaign finance report since November despite being required to every month. According to campaign records, she’s facing several fines for failing to file timely reports. These notices are not entirely unusual among her Broward County legislative colleagues. But her case stands out among them not only in the number of “fail to file” notices. No one else has failed to file a report since November, as she has. A final notice dated March 25 concerning her January report said that if Omphroy does not file within seven days of receiving the letter, her case will be referred to the state Elections Commission.

First in Sunburn — “Facing a competitive primary, Jim Mooney secures nod from Paul Renner” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — House Speaker-designate Renner is backing Republican Rep. Mooney for another term in the state House. “Jim is a common-sense conservative with the proven ability to serve employees and job creators in tourism and agriculture that make the Southernmost district’s economy strong,” said Renner, a Palm Coast Republican who chairs the primary fundraising arm to support GOP House campaigns. Mooney is one of five candidates running for HD 120. He faces Robert Allen and Rhonda Rebman Lopez in the Republican Primary. Mooney faced Rebman Lopez in the 2020 Primary, securing a narrow victory. Earlier this month, she launched her 2022 campaign by attacking the incumbent. Renner’s endorsement serves as a counter to the attack and indicates Mooney could receive financial backup from the well-funded political committee Renner chairs.

Big get: Jim Mooney finds election support from Paul Renner.

Kristin Dozier raises nearly $53K in first fundraising month of Tallahassee Mayor campaign” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — Leon County Commissioner Dozier collected $52,944 in her first fundraising outing as a candidate for Tallahassee mayor. Dozier, who plans to retire from her county post later this year, filed on March 3 to run for Mayor. So far, three others have filed for the race: Mayor John Dailey, who’s seeking a second term, and Whitfield Leland III and Michael Ibrahim. According to the latest campaign finance reports, her haul was the highest amount taken in by any of the local candidates during their first month of fundraising. However, it was off from the highest monthly total of the current cycle, a record Dailey currently holds.

Riviera Beach Councilman again sues city, saying it has not redrawn district lines” via Wayne Washington of the Palm Beach Post — City Councilman Tradrick McCoy has filed suit against Riviera Beach, alleging it has ignored a requirement to redraw district lines despite decades of population growth. It is an extraordinary move for an elected official to sue the city they represent; cities often hire outside legal counsel — at taxpayer’s expense — to defend against lawsuits. But McCoy’s suit is the second he has filed against Riviera Beach in 18 months. McCoy is also accusing City Manager Jonathan Evans of using the COVID-19 pandemic to pad his salary. In October 2020, McCoy sued the city’s water utility for approving a 30% rate increase over five years during the coronavirus pandemic.


Fathers’ Day comes early as DeSantis signs bill to support Florida’s dads” via Romy Ellenbogen and Rick Stroud of the Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times — DeSantis signed a wide-ranging bill on Monday aimed at supporting fathers and children by connecting men with career services and boys with mentorship. The bill was a priority for outgoing House Speaker Chris Sprowls, who earlier in the year declared that Florida had a “fatherhood crisis.” The bill, HB 7065, directs millions of dollars to initiatives meant to support men in being parents, such as having case managers help fathers find jobs and transition from prison. Money will also go toward distributing information about effective parenting, including a media campaign that hopes to use public figures and influencers as spokespeople.

Ron DeSantis signs a major fatherhood initiative.

Is autism a covered insurance benefit? New Jimmy Patronis website provides insights” via Florida Politics — CFO Patronis on Monday launched a new one-stop resource for parents of children with autism spectrum disorder and issued a proclamation recognizing April as World Autism Month. The new website aims to improve interactions between insurance companies and their policyholders impacted by autism spectrum disorder with a one-stop-shop of insurance information. People can peruse the site to discover whether their health insurance policy is required by state law to provide coverage for autism spectrum disorder. The site also explains federal mental health parity laws and how the Affordable Care Act impacts coverage for autism spectrum disorder.

Jeff Brandes says he has support for property insurance Special Session poll” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — After telling legislative leaders last week he’s seeking support for a Special Session on stabilizing Florida’s property insurance market, Sen. Brandes says he has the backing from fellow lawmakers to trigger an official poll of the Legislature. “As of 1 p.m., within one business day of the sending out our letter, we have received more than enough responses from legislators calling for a Special Session on property insurance,” Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican, posted on Twitter Monday. “We will be submitting our final count to the (Florida Department of State) at 5 p.m. today.” Special Sessions requested by rank-and-file members of the Legislature are rare.

—“DeSantis backs Brandes’ call for property insurance Special Session” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics

Broward schools may fight back after the state punished mask-mandating districts” via Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — South Florida schools may be ready for another fight with the state related to masks. No, there are no plans to bring back mandates that students wear facial coverings on campus, but at least one school district — Broward County’s — is discussing a legal challenge to a state-funding decision related to mask mandates. The three South Florida school districts — Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade — could be out more than $100 million combined, money that goes directly to schools for employee bonuses. The Legislature decided this Session to set aside $200 million for a program that rewards schools that get “A” grades or improve a letter grade, up from about $130 million in the past. But they put a catch.


DeSantis leaves room for heavily political speeches during his state-paid trips” via Michael Moline of the Florida Phoenix — Gov. DeSantis traveled to the Florida Panhandle on Friday to dispense $23 million in infrastructure grants but spent the bulk of his time complaining about the Biden administration and culture war sore spots. For example, during his 35-minute event in Port St. Joe, the Governor spent about seven minutes discussing the grants and handing out checks; the rest was politics. Later, in Apalachicola, he spent about the same amount of time in total but just four minutes dispensing grants. “There’s never been a Governor that’s been in the Panhandle communities more than me, and we’re proud about that,” DeSantis claimed. The rest was the standard stump speech DeSantis has devised since announcing for re-election in October.

Ron DeSantis mixes big checks and stump speeches.

Sheena Meade pushing ‘clean slate’ initiative around country” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Desmond Meade likes to say he doesn’t consider himself the best rights campaign organizer in his own family. That would be his wife, Sheena, he insists. A one-time Democratic candidate for the Florida House in Orlando, Sheena Meade is leading a national effort, state by state, to set up automatic expungement systems for people eligible to have old, low-level criminal records cleared from their lives. Meade’s group, The Clean Slate Initiative, is funneling support, research and money — millions of dollars — to local and state groups pushing for changes in the law. Several states have adopted “clean slate” laws, and several more are pursuing them, though not yet in Florida.


Power player: Ashish Jha takes over as Joe Biden’s new coronavirus czar” via Dan Diamond of The Washington Post — Jha, who took over Monday as Biden’s coronavirus czar, made his presence felt immediately. He started the job with a round of morning TV shows. It was a familiar setting for Jha, who has served as dean of Brown University’s public health school and been a ubiquitous presence on television during the pandemic. Now, the amiable academic faces a real-world test of his pithy TV advice: If the government fails to secure enough vaccines and tests, forcing Americans into long waits, it’s his problem. If a new variant causes a sixth pandemic wave, or besieged hospitals cannot handle an avalanche of cases, those are his problems, too, and ones that can’t be explained away in a cable-news segment.

Ashish Jha has been promoted to the full-time czar.

The new White House rule: Do not talk about Joe Manchin” via Adam Cancryn and Eugene Daniels of POLITICO — The fate of Biden’s domestic agenda may hinge on his administration’s ability to do one simple thing: Shut up. Four months after Biden’s Build Back Better plan collapsed amid a bitter back-and-forth with Sen. Manchin, the White House is taking a final shot at resuscitating its social spending bill — and this time, it’s vowing a sharply different approach to the negotiations. Top Biden officials are keeping their ambitions vague. They’re steering clear of firm deadlines. Most importantly, they’re trying as hard as possible not to talk about it at all. The administration-wide gag order imposed over the last several weeks is a marked shift from earlier efforts to hype Biden’s expansive policy vision — and a tacit acknowledgment that the White House has learned its lesson.

Stephanie Murphy ‘heartbroken’ by Ukrainian refugees at border with Poland” via Chloe Folmar of The Hill — Rep. Stephanie Murphy said she was ‘heartbroken’ by the scene of Ukrainian refugees flowing across the Polish border, during a bipartisan trip to visit allies in the region. ‘As a refugee, and a mother of two young kids, I’m just heartbroken by what I’ve witnessed,’ Murphy said in a video. ‘I’m also amazed by the resilience of the Ukrainian people and inspired by their strength.’ The congressional delegation is at the Poland-Ukraine border meeting with American and European officials responding to the Ukrainian refugee crisis.”

Parkland father visits White House weeks after being detained by police for protest” via Bryan Lowry of the Miami Herald — Parkland father and activist Manuel Oliver will wear the shoes his son Joaquin Oliver had planned to wear to prom to the White House as he attends Biden’s speech on gun violence. Oliver, an artist, was detained by police in February after staging a dramatic protest near the White House on the anniversary of the Parkland shooting. He scaled a construction crane and hung a banner with a picture of his son, one of the 17 people killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018. The banner offered a critical message to Biden that “45k people died from gun violence on your watch.”


‘Writing on the wall’: Some Black News Channel employees foresaw close, but not so soon” via Christopher Cann of the Tallahassee Democrat — Rebecca Kavanagh, who has been a senior writer for the Black News Channel (BNC) since March 2021, was working for the Tallahassee-based network under a sponsored visa. The network’s March 25 shutdown effectively expired her work visa, giving Kavanagh just 60 days to find another work sponsor or be forced to leave the country. “As a condition of this Business Closure, we have notified (the) United States Office of Immigration and Naturalization Service that you are no longer employed with BNC and are no longer responsible for the status of your work Visa,” read an email from Nicole Collins, the former vice president of human resources for BNC, to Kavanagh, which she shared on Twitter.


Exclusive — “Company files $250M suit over land Universal acquired to build new theme park” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — A deal to buy some of the hottest lands in Orlando’s tourist district was reneged on, according to accusations lobbed in a new lawsuit. Some of the land called into question is where Universal, now the landowner, is building its new theme park Epic Universe. Fourth Watch Acquisitions, a Georgia real estate entertainment development company, is suing Universal and Universal City Property Management in the lawsuit filed Friday in Orange County Circuit Court. Fourth Watch says its damage exceeds $250 million. Fourth Watch says it was under contract to buy about 135 acres for $125 million from Universal City Property Management, or UCPM. The two sides made an agreement in September 2017.

Is Epic Universe amid a land war?

COVID-19 and BA.2 omicron variant rising in Central Florida wastewater” via Caroline Catherman and Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — After over a month of decline, COVID-19 seems to be increasing in Central Florida and across the nation. “Altamonte Springs is seeing a substantial increase in the amount of COVID-19 in its sewage since the beginning of March,” said Frank Martz, Altamonte Springs City Manager, in an email. The Altamonte Springs sewer service areas — covering north Orange and south Seminole counties — saw a 1,661% increase in COVID-19 virus concentration from March 10 to April 7, from 27,729 gene copies of COVID-19 per liter of wastewater — one of the lowest concentrations ever recorded — to 488,307 gene copies per liter. Casselberry’s sewer service areas saw a 4,323% increase from March 10.

HCA Florida South Tampa Hospital unveils new $50M center for endocrine surgery” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — HCA Florida South Tampa Hospital unveiled its new $50 million hospital designed for endocrine surgery on Friday, showcasing the new program dedicated to the treatment of endocrine tumors. Tampa Democratic Rep. Susan Valdes joined Friday’s unveiling celebration and tour, delivering a proclamation to congratulate the hospital’s opening. The new facility includes 15 private inpatient rooms and eight operating rooms supported by 33 individual surgery bays for treatment, before and after surgery. The new hospital also employs radiology, nuclear medicine, laboratory, and pathology services, which all focus on endocrine tumor diagnosis and treatment. Advanced therapies, such as radio-frequency ablation (RFA) of thyroid tumors and minimally invasive scarless robotic thyroid surgery, are also available.

Electric avenue: Tesla to take over Kane’s store in Lealman” via Veronica Brezina of the St. Pete Catalyst — Electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla plans to transform the Kane’s Furniture liquidation center in Lealman — one of the most poverty-stricken neighborhoods in the county — into a state-of-the-art delivery and repair center. The 102,410-square-foot facility would be converted into an automotive store where customers can become familiar with the different Tesla models, test drive cars, purchase or lease cars in-store or online, and have their vehicles repaired, according to county records obtained by the St. Pete Catalyst. Last week, the Pinellas County Board of Adjustment and Appeals approved a conditional request for Tesla to redevelop the dilapidated building at 4601 34th St. N. Tesla is expected to purchase the property this month.


Entire panel of jurors released when eight distraught people balk at deciding fate of confessed Parkland killer” via Brittany Wallman and Rafael Olmeda of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A judge dismissed an entire panel of 60 jurors Monday afternoon after too many became visibly upset at the prospect of deciding the fate of the Parkland mass shooter. Eight potential jurors — seven women and one man — were escorted from the courtroom when they could not contain their emotional reaction to learning they might be picked to serve on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting case. With confessed killer Nikolas Cruz in the same courtroom, just a few yards away, one prospective juror after another left in tears —.the first woman to leave could be heard loudly crying as soon as she left the courtroom. Subsequent jurors held back tears, or sniffled, their faces distraught.

Southwest Florida emergency medical workers head to Ukraine as part of humanitarian relief” via Liz Freeman of the Naples Daily News — Three Southwest Florida residents have gone to Ukraine on behalf of a Florida humanitarian organization that provides emergency medical aid in regions of the world facing conflict or disaster. A nurse practitioner from Collier County, Andrea Leiner, 43, is overseeing efforts on behalf of Global Response Management, based in Yulee, Florida, to provide emergency medical personnel and supplies in Ukraine. As director of strategic planning for Global Response, Leiner spent 18 days in Lviv, Ukraine, and Poland from March 9 until March 26, doing initial assessment work for how the organization could help. Leiner said she is returning to Ukraine on Thursday, adding that Global Response has committed to providing emergency medical aid in Ukraine through June.

South Florida health care workers go to Ukraine to join the war effort.

A horrific high-speed deadly crash results in no criminal charges and accusations of racial bias” via Wayne Washington of the Palm Beach Post — The sister of a woman killed when her car was slammed by a driver going 31 mph over the speed limit said she believes race is the reason why no charges have been filed in the case. Andreline Silus, a 24-year-old Black immigrant from Haiti, was killed on Jan. 16 when Ryan J. Dolan slammed his Nissan 370Z into Silus’ Toyota Corolla at Hypoluxo Road and Kingston Drive in Boynton Beach. Boynton Beach Police Department documents said Dolan, then 20 and described in court documents as White, had been driving as fast as 93 mph and struck Silus’ car when he was going 76 mph. The posted speed limit in that area is 45 mph.

How Brightline work on Loxahatchee, St. Lucie railroad drawbridges will affect boaters” via Ed Killer of Treasure Coast Newspapers — For thousands of boaters in the Jupiter area, the railroad crossing over the Loxahatchee River will be a bridge too far over the next two months. Brightline, the high-speed passenger rail service that’s expanding between West Palm Beach and Orlando, is replacing the drawbridge over the Intracoastal Waterway channel. That will create chaos, confusion and generate frustration from boaters who find their routes completely blocked at times between the April 10 start of the project and the May 31 projected completion. Stuart boaters should keep an eye on this project and how it is managed.

Jupiter aerospace company announces deal to build 116 rocket engines for new satellite program” via Antonio Fins of the Palm Beach Post — A Jupiter aerospace company announced Monday that it has been contracted to build more than 100 rocket engines to launch satellites into orbit. Aerojet Rocketdyne said the deal with the United Launch Alliance, or ULA, calls for the delivery of 116 RL10C-X rocket engines that will be used in the Vulcan Centaur rocket. Aerojet Rocketdyne said the need for the engines stems from a deal between ULA and Amazon “as part of the largest commercial launch contract in history to support the launch” of the Kuiper satellite constellation. The RL10s will also be used in the Artemis rocket to resurrect a moon exploration program this year.


Free speech for me but not for thee” via David French of The Atlantic — As the Republican Party evolves from a party focused on individual liberty and limits on government power to a Party that more fully embraces government control of the economy and morality, it is reversing many of its previous stances on free speech in public universities, in public education, and in private corporations. Driven by a combination of partisan animosity and public fear, it is embracing the tactics that it once opposed. To understand the transformation, one need not turn back the clock very far. For more than 20 years, the dominant conservative mantra in education could be summed up in two words: free speech. The reason for the emphasis on free speech was crystal clear — college campuses had enacted speech codes at a breathtaking rate.


Florida teacher’s trans-friendly T-shirt reminder of ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law’s true aim” via Frank Cerabino of the Palm Beach Post — A Florida public high school teacher was told to remove a T-shirt that read “Protect Trans Kids” last week. The principal of Tocoi Creek High School in St. Augustine got the teacher to stop wearing the shirt at the school following the complaint of a school parent “expressing concern,” the school district’s spokesperson told the St. Augustine Record. The teacher was simply acknowledging the existence of trans kids and the need to protect them on the day when that concern is widely expressed. Any way you slice it, being asked to remove the shirt is about as close as you get to the admonition, “Don’t Say Gay.”

Stronger condo inspections cannot wait another year” via the Orlando Sentinel and South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial boards — The Legislature bears so little resemblance to a democratic institution that the majority Party’s leaders can always make it do what they want. If a bill fails to pass, it usually means that the Senate President and House Speaker opposed it, couldn’t agree, or simply didn’t care. This spring, they cared enough about Republican Party culture wars to enact highly controversial bills restricting abortion and suppressing teaching about racism and LGBTQ issues. They cared enough about the victims of the collapse of the Champlain Towers South condo in Surfside to rename part of Collins Avenue “98 Points of Light Way.” But they didn’t care enough to protect millions of living Floridians from dying in the same ghastly manner.

Joe Henderson: There’s a method to Crist’s visit to The Villages” via Florida Politics — Why, you may ask, would Crist waste precious campaign time there. Skeptics would chuckle that he’ll be lucky to win maybe one Villages vote out of every 10. DeSantis owes his 2018 victory to The Villages, which he won by 180,942 votes. He won the Governor’s mansion by 32,463 votes. Do the math. Crist probably won’t get a lot of votes out of there, but it won’t be for lack of trying against the seemingly unbeatable DeSantis juggernaut. “Going to Republican places in our state is probably even more important,” Crist said at the rally. “Because we have to make sure that they’re heard. That we listen to them and that we want them to be part of this Florida for all too.”

To score cheap points, Congress shuns a great Floridian” via the Orlando Sentinel and South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial boards — When it seemed that Republicans in Congress couldn’t stoop any lower, they did. The opposition to Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson had already become notorious for the transparent racism and misogyny on the part of some senators. Now, their House counterparts have taken an opportunity to vent venom and spite against a second Black judge — in this case, a Floridian — even though it meant dishonoring the dead. Their excuse: a single long-ago decision involving school prayer. Opening a posthumous front in the social wars, House Republicans thwarted passage of a bill naming the federal courthouse in Tallahassee for the late Joseph W. Hatchett, who served on the Florida Supreme Court and the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

David Rivera has made fools of Miami voters long enough. Time for him to pay the price” via the Miami Herald editorial board — If there were a scale of one to 10 for ridiculousness, Rivera’s decadelong battle to dodge the consequences of his unlawful campaign finance actions would be an 11. It has been an unbelievable 10 years since the election that got Rivera, a former Florida legislator and ex-South Florida Congressman, into trouble. But perhaps the end of this long-running farce is in sight. A federal judge is ordering him to pay a $456,000 fine for “knowingly and willfully” making campaign contributions under someone else’s name. Years of wrangling later, Rivera, now 56, still hasn’t paid.

— ALOE —

More than 400 admitted to Florida Bar after February examinations” via Tristan Wood of Florida Politics — The Supreme Court of Florida approved 443 candidates for admission to the Florida Bar Monday following February’s General Bar Examination in Tampa. Of the 1,348 applicants who took both the Florida and multistate bar examination from February 22-23, 599 passed, about 44% of the total. The number of current bar admissions for that class could grow higher in the future, as character and fitness investigations for some applicants who passed are still ongoing. With the announcement, the Florida Board of Bar Examiners included a statistical breakdown of the pass and fail rates for those who took the bar examination in Florida for the first time. Overall, 58.3% of Florida first-time takers passed, compared to 39.8% of out-of-state students.

Florida welcomes a new crop of lawyers.

‘Better Call Saul’: Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul will guest star in final season” via Ethan Shanfeld of Variety — We haven’t seen the last of Walter White and Jesse Pinkman. “Better Call Saul” co-creator Peter Gould has officially confirmed that Cranston and Paul will guest star in the final season of the “Breaking Bad” spinoff. Gould announced the news Saturday at PaleyFest LA on a “Better Call Saul” panel moderated by Variety television editor Michael Schneider, though Gould was tight-lipped on exactly when Cranston and Paul will show up or in what capacity. “I don’t want to spoil things for the audience, but I will say the first question we had when we started the show was, ‘Are we gonna see Walt and Jesse on the show?’ Instead of evading, I’ll just say yeah,” Gould said.


Best wishes to our dear friend, Fred Piccolo, as well as Chris Chaney of The Advocacy Group at Cardenas PartnersCapital City Consulting’s Jared Rosenstein, Equality Florida’s Joe Saunders, Joe Sprowls, and Trey Stapleton.


Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel Dean, Renzo Downey, Jacob Ogles, 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.

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