Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 4.29.22

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Up and at 'em: Here's your scoops and other stories driving the day in Florida politics.

Good Friday morning.

As global supply chains change, Florida can be the big winner, according to a new report from the Florida Chamber Foundation.

The Florida Trade & Logistics 2030 Study shows Florida has the ability to move and make more goods, and the positive impacts of doing so would boost the state economy by bringing new jobs, income and investment into the state.

The study covers one pillar of the Chamber’s roadmap to growing Florida’s economy to the 10th largest in the world, if measured as a country.

“Purposely expanding manufacturing, logistics, trade, and rural economic growth aligns with Governor DeSantis’ continued leadership in this space and will help grow Florida to the 10th largest global economy by 2030,” said Florida Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mark Wilson. “We have a generational opportunity to get this right.”

Global supply chains and trade flows are transforming rapidly and their vulnerabilities have been on display over the past two years due to the pandemic, extreme weather events and geopolitical instability. According to the report, that makes maintaining strong manufacturing and logistics sectors in-state all the more important for Florida consumers and businesses as well as the state’s economic growth.

“Many of Florida’s peer states are focusing on these opportunities, but the competition in these sectors increasingly is global,” said Doug Davidson, a market executive with Bank of America and the chair of the study.

Trade, logistics and manufacturing are already essential elements of Florida’s economy, even in rural and inland regions of the state. In 2020, they accounted for more than 1 million jobs statewide — the fourth-highest total in the country.

The Florida Trade & Logistics 2030 Study outlines several strategies and recommendations geared toward growing these sectors, such as establishing a statewide, focused manufacturing initiative; closing essential workforce gaps and building a talent pipeline; strengthening trade gateways and corridors; creating a comprehensive site development program emphasizing rural areas; redesigning Florida’s economic development toolkit; and leveraging rural economic development tools to double the GDP in those regions.

Branch Insurance Company announced Friday that it’s bringing on Grant Phillips as its Associate Manager of Regulatory Affairs.

“We are thrilled to have Grant join the Branch team during this time of growth and expansion,” said Branch Manager of Regulatory Affairs Austin Bailey. “Grant’s experience leading the OIR’s legislative agenda and navigating the Florida Legislature during these challenging times for the industry makes him a great fit as the Associate Manager of Regulatory Affairs at Branch.”

Phillips brings years of insurance experience in the legislative process and has established relationships with legislative leadership, members and staff.

He most recently led the government affairs team for the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. During his nearly four years with OIR, Phillips worked on key legislation including assignment of benefits and property insurance reform. He also collaborated with national partners such as the National Association of Insurance Commissioners to craft effective regulations.

“I am thrilled to join the team at Branch,” said Phillips, who was named one of INFLUENCE Magazine’s Rising Stars of Florida Politics. “I am looking forward to the opportunity to leverage my skills to continue Branch’s mission to make insurance a force for communal good.”

Branch, launched in 2019 by insurance veteran Steve Lekas and tech entrepreneur Joe Emison, offers home and auto insurance that prioritizes making insurance simple to buy and cost less. It offers instant-bind capability, which removes the friction associated with getting covered and helps consumers bundle their home and auto with ease.


@WHCOS: Seize yachts, fund the war.

@ElonMusk: For Twitter to deserve public trust, it must be politically neutral, which effectively means upsetting the far right and the far left equally

@Normative: The American right is engaged in a pretty ingenious campaign to persuade teens that libraries & reading books are awesome.

@Jason_Garcia: A reminder that most (though not all!) Republicans in the Florida Legislature voted for the Florida Power & Light bill that Ron DeSantis just vetoed. And so did a bunch of Democrats.

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:


2nd half of ‘Ozark’ final season begins — 0; White House Correspondents’ Dinner — 1; ‘Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ premieres — 7; Florida TaxWatch’s Spring Meeting — 13; property insurance Special Session begins — 24; ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ starts on Disney+ — 27; ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ premieres — 28; ‘Platinum Jubilee’ for Queen Elizabeth II — 34; California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota hold midterm Primaries — 39; ‘Jurassic World Dominion’ premieres — 42; Pixar’s ‘Lightyear’ premieres — 49; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 70; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 83; Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner novel ‘Heat 2’ publishes — 102; ‘House of the Dragon’ premieres on HBO — 114; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 126; 2022 Emmys — 126; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 160; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 179; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 179; ‘Black Panther 2′ premieres — 196; ‘Captain Marvel 2’ premieres — 196; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 202; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 206; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 206; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 207; ‘Avatar 2′ premieres — 231; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 312; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 329; 2023 Session Sine Die — 371; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 399; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 455; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 539; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 700; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 819.

The New York Times is taking a dive into Gov. DeSantis’ grip on the Florida political scene, with a new piece titled, “How DeSantis transformed Florida’s political identity.”

Patricia Mazzei highlights the Governor’s legislative wins this year, including a measure restricting discussion of LGBTQ issues in school, the Stop W.O.K.E. Act and, of course, signature measures during the recent Special Session targeting Disney and setting up a DeSantis-approved congressional redistricting map.

“Once the biggest traditional presidential battleground, it has suddenly turned into a laboratory of possibility for the political right,” is how Mazzei describes the political mood of the state.

“Florida has transformed over the past two years as Gov. Ron DeSantis has increased and flexed his power to remarkable effect, embracing policies that once seemed unthinkable. That has made the Republican governor a favorite of the party’s Fox News-viewing base and turned him into a possible presidential contender.”

Describing DeSantis as “politically attuned” and in control, Mazzei says Florida could be headed toward “a sustained campaign toward a new, more rigid conservative orthodoxy, one that voters could very well ratify this fall.” Read the full piece here.

What Christina Pushaw wants you to readDeSantis is Viktor Orbán’s true American disciple” via Zack Beauchamp of Vox — In June of last year, Hungary’s far-right government passed a law cracking down on LGBTQ rights, including a provision prohibiting instruction on LGBTQ topics in sex education classes. About nine months later, DeSantis signed the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill banning “classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity” up through third grade. According to some knowledgeable observers on the right, these two bills were closely connected. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán described his country’s anti-LGBTQ law as an effort to prevent gay people from preying on children; Christina Pushaw described Florida’s law as an “anti-grooming bill” on Twitter.

—2022 —

Plaintiffs drop federal case against redistricting plan” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Plaintiffs have dropped a federal lawsuit regarding Florida’s redistricting process. But litigation remains ongoing in Florida’s circuit courts. The complaint against the state, filed by Common Cause of Florida, Fair Districts Now and individuals in the state, had alleged Gov. DeSantis and the Legislature would not be able to usher a congressional map into law and asked judges to step in. But the Legislature in a Special Session this month took up and passed cartography crafted by DeSantis’ staff, and the Governor on Friday signed that map (P 0109). “The specific relief from malapportionment sought by Intervenor-Plaintiffs in their Complaint is no longer required,” reads a brief filed in U.S. District Court.

Val Demings, Marco Rubio each top $30M raised in Senate battle” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Rep. Demings’ Senate campaign raised more than $10 million in the first quarter of 2022, and Sen. Rubio grabbed $5.8 million. That put both of them over $30 million raised in the 2022 U.S. Senate money chase. Both candidates have also been spending furiously on their campaigns. As a result, on April 1, both were sitting on about $13 million. The $30 million apiece raised by the leading Senate candidates in Florida makes the Rubio-Demings contest the only Senate battle in the country where both candidates are anywhere near that stratosphere of fundraising.

Happening tomorrow Charlie Crist, Nikki Fried and Annette Taddeo are the featured guests at a forum by the Democratic Women’s Clubs of Florida Political Committee, 8:30 p.m., Rosen Centre Hotel, 9840 International Dr., Orlando.

Kevin McCarthy-aligned Super PAC just booked $1.4M in Tampa Bay ad buys” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A super PAC linked to McCarthy just announced $1.4 million in TV ad buys in the Tampa Bay market. The Congressional Leadership Fund, a PAC aligned with Republican House leadership, announced the reservations as part of a $125 million buy across 48 markets. Part of the first round of airtime reservations across the country, the move shows a GOP path to majority status could run through the region. “There is palpable energy for retiring Speaker (Nancy) Pelosi and winning a House Majority behind Leader Kevin McCarthy, and this is a testament to that,” CLF President Dan Conston said. “Our reserves are a significant down payment on the firepower we’ll need to win and elect tremendous GOP candidates across the country. We’re pressing deep into Democrat territory to elect the largest possible majority this fall.”

Democrat Gavin Brown is running in CD 15” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Brown has filed to run in Florida’s 15th Congressional District. The veteran political consultant hopes to bring a moderate message to one of the state’s most competitive seats. He plans to hold a kickoff event on Mother’s Day weekend in Hillsborough County, but for now remains in the process of gathering petitions to qualify for the ballot. “District 15 is a competitive race and we can flip it,” Brown said. Brown started the election cycle planning to challenge freshman U.S. Rep. Scott Franklin. But a map (P 0109) drawn by Gov. DeSantis’ staff and just signed by the Governor significantly reconfigures Central Florida’s districts. Franklin’s campaign said the incumbent Congressman intends to seek re-election in Florida’s 18th Congressional District, which spans from east Lakeland south to Hendry County.

María Elvira Salazar posts best fundraising quarter this cycle for CD 27 defense” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — U.S. Rep. Salazar had her best fundraising quarter since she assumed office last year, raking in $690,000 between New Year’s Day and March 31 while still spending heavily on her re-election campaign. By the end of last month, Salazar, who represents Florida’s 27th Congressional District, held about $1.96 million of the almost $3 million she’s raised while running for and holding office. Meanwhile, her lone Democratic opponent had just over $6,000. Salazar’s first-quarter contributions came through a blend of individual, corporate and political committee donations, including a strong showing from professional associations and unions.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz passes $1M in campaign cash” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Wasserman Schultz’s campaign kitty passed the $1 million threshold in the first quarter of 2022 as her fundraising showed an uptick compared to the previous quarter. Wasserman Schultz raised nearly $300,000 between Jan. 1 to March 31. That’s about a 30% increase from the previous quarter’s haul. Her chief opponent, Republican Carla Spalding, whose website shows her standing with President Donald Trump, raised only about $20,000 less than Wasserman Schultz in the first quarter. Compared to the $1 million Wasserman Schultz has, Spalding has nearly $81,000 in cash on hand.

Nick DiCeglie endorses Jennifer Wilson as his preferred successor” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — State Rep. DiCeglie is endorsing lawyer Jennifer Wilson as his preferred successor as she runs for the House District 59 seat. DiCeglie said Wilson’s public service attracted his endorsement. As a lawyer, Wilson focuses on civil litigation. She also provides pro bono work for Bridging Freedom Tampa Bay, a nonprofit that offers safe houses for victims of child trafficking. DiCeglie previously endorsed Alen Tomczak as his successor, but Tomczak withdrew from the race after being called to active duty with the Florida National Guard.


March tax revenues land $626M above estimate” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — Florida’s sunny economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic appears to have continued in March, as a report from state economists released Thursday shows revenues collected that month were $626 million above the estimate. Total collections for March were $3.53 billion, or 21.5% above the state’s official projection of $2.91 billion. Sales taxes accounted for 78% of the gain, coming in $488.5 million above the estimate. As with other monthly reports this year showing revenues beating projections, the report sounds a note of caution about the numbers. Inflation is at levels not seen in 40 years, pushing the cost of goods, and therefore sales tax amounts, higher. If high inflation persists, many residents will likely cut back on their purchases.

Florida TaxWatch finds $281M in “budget turkeys” in 2022-23 budget” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Budget bird dogs have flushed out a record-high $281 million in “budget turkeys” passed by legislators in this year’s proposed budget. Lawmakers are expected to deliver the record $112.1 billion spending plan to Gov. DeSantis sometime in the next two months. Florida TaxWatch’s research team has flushed out 166 appropriations projects in the 2022-23 budget that don’t meet their standards for a “thoughtful and thorough budget process.” TaxWatch is asking that the Republican Governor apply additional scrutiny to the 166 projects when he pulls out his markup pen. As a nonpartisan organization, TaxWatch is generally popular with lawmakers, Executive Vice President Tony Carvajal told reporters Thursday.

Ron DeSantis’ education nominee Manny Diaz backs school choice, comes from public and charter schools” via Ana Ceballos of the Miami Herald — When DeSantis was looking for the next person to run Florida’s education department, he turned to one of the state’s loudest school choice supporters: Manny Diaz Jr. The 49-year-old Republican, a state senator from Hialeah and former teacher, had been the long-rumored pick to replace Richard Corcoran, a firebrand former House speaker who reshaped the job of Florida education commissioner during his four-year term. Corcoran, with a take-no-prisoners attitude, carried out many aspects of DeSantis’ education agenda. He fought to expand the charter school sector and school vouchers, which pay for students to attend private schools.

—“Manny Diaz says he wants to change the tone around what it means to be a teacher amid statewide shortages” via Lynn Hatter of WLRN — Soon-to-be Education Commissioner Manny Diaz has worn many hats in his career, starting with teaching geography, history, social studies and psychology at public high schools in Miami. Today, he’s a Republican state Senator from Hialeah and works as the Vice President of Finance for Doral College. Diaz is also a staunch supporter of school choice which he says is falsely equated as being against public schools. Republican Sen. Diaz of Hialeah, says he remains a certified teacher in the state of Florida even though his career has taken him far from the public high school classrooms where he started. Diaz says while he’s no longer in the classroom, the experiences stick with him.

Democrats want Special Session expanded to consider protections for renters” via Michael Moline of Florida Phoenix — A group of legislative Democrats have asked Ron DeSantis to expand the call of his Special Session on property insurance to consider protections for renters beleaguered by skyrocketing rents. “In the interest of saving taxpayer dollars, we are calling on you today to expand the call for this Special Session to include legislation that will provide real relief to renters throughout Florida,” says the letter, circulated by Anna Eskamani and signed by 27 other House members and Senators. Eskamani provided a list of 11 bills proposed by Democrats during the recent regular Session of the Legislature to protect tenants, but which died in committee.

Transportation Commission reports ‘less eventful’ Legislative Session for FDOT policy bills” via Daniel Figueroa of Florida Politics — Florida’s 2022 Legislative Session grabbed national headlines with its focus on issues dubbed “culture wars,” like tightening election restrictions and regulating the discussion of gender identity in public schools. But when it came to moving one of the union’s fastest growing states forward, there was a bit less action on the policy side. That’s what Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) Deputy Legislative Affairs Director John Kotyk told the Florida Transportation Commission in a conference call Thursday. “While it was a busy Session for most, in the transportation realm it was slightly less eventful,” he said. “We did not have an extraordinary number of bills related to the Department pass.”


Will Walt Disney World leave Florida if Reedy Creek is dissolved? There are offers” via Howard Cohen and Michelle Marchante of the Miami Herald — Gov. DeSantis signed legislation in reaction to Disney’s opposition to the state’s recently enacted Parental Rights in Education bill. The potential dismantling, which, if it happens, would take effect June 1, 2023, also has people wondering if Mickey Mouse might simply give the state a gloved finger and open a new mouse house elsewhere. The short answer to whether Disney pulls up stakes and bolts the state: The company could. But it is considerably highly unlikely. There’s way too much invested in the Sunshine State.

Petition drive seeks to give Florida residents a fundamental right to clean water” via Craig Pittman of Florida Phoenix — Some people have accused me of being down on Florida because of all the bad stuff I write about, the shady politicians, greedy developers, and rapacious road-builders. You know, the usual suspects. Nothing could be further from the truth! I revel in opportunities to highlight the many ways Florida leads the nation. If I had a big foam finger with “Florida No. 1” written on it, I’d be shaking it like a Polaroid picture every chance I got. We’ve got the only state park system that’s won national awards four times. Our beaches frequently top the list of the best in the U.S. And everyone knows we’ve got the world’s funniest police blotter items, such as “Florida woman pulls gator from yoga pants during stop.”

Statewide demonstrations for affordable housing, labor rights planned for May Day” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Community organizations and progressive protesters across Florida will unite this May Day to demand reform addressing the state’s mounting need for reform around housing affordability, immigration and labor. On Sunday, May 1, Miami-based nonprofit Florida Rising and its partners are planning events in major cities throughout the state, beginning in Tampa and concluding in Hollywood. Related events that day will occur in Miami, St. Petersburg, Sanford, Orlando, Hollywood and Jacksonville. All will run under the banner, “Justice on Every Block.” Then, on Saturday, May 7, the group and several other organizations will host a community celebration in West Palm Beach.


White House correspondents’ dinner presses on, after COVID-19 delays and Donald Trump” via Roxanne Roberts of The Washington Post — For the first time in six years, the black-tie extravaganza that Washington loves and hates features both a big-name comedian and the President. The organizers hope this return to business-as-usual will help highlight the traditional purpose of the night: a celebration of the role of reporters in a democracy and the mutual respect between those reporters and Washington’s power brokers, after years of Trump’s attacks on “fake news.” Saturday’s dinner is the first held post-Trump, who boycotted the event during his White House years. Some White House officials and experts worry that coronavirus measures for the weekend are insufficient and that it could become a superspreader event.

Lincoln Project blasts Kevin McCarthy over Donald Trump lies in Palm Beach County TV ad” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — The Lincoln Project released a new TV ad Thursday directed at Trump supporters, asserting that McCarthy believes they’re stupid and laughs at them and the former President behind their backs. “Kevin McCarthy doesn’t think Trump’s supporters and MAGA Republicans are stupid; he knows it,” the ad says. “He’s been fooling them all, laughing at them. Kevin tells rich liberal RINO (Republicans in name only) mega-donors he needs their money so he can block Donald Trump’s candidates. But this week, he was caught promising (Wyoming Republican U.S. Rep.) Liz Cheney he’d tell Donald Trump to resign.”

Watch the video:


Gulf Breeze man gets 10 years, must repay $182.5M for interstate health care fraud” via Lici Beveridge of the Pensacola News Journal — A Gulf Breeze man was sentenced to a decade in prison for his role in a massive fraud scheme involving high-priced pain creams and other medications. Mitchell “Chad” Barrett pleaded guilty in August to conspiracy to commit money laundering in a $182.5 million health care fraud, from which he personally profited more than $25 million. Barrett was ordered by U.S. Senior Judge Keith Starrett to repay the fraudulently obtained money, including more than $25 million outlined in a forfeiture order. The 10-year sentence was the maximum the judge could issue.

See inside HCA Florida Capital Hospital’s new $5M neonatal intensive care unit” via Christopher Cann of the Tallahassee Democrat — HCA Capital Florida Hospital, formerly known as Capital Regional Medical Center, has added what its staff calls an essential addition to the newly named health care facility, a state of the art, neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). The $5 million, 10-bed unit will expand the hospital’s ability to provide intensive care for sick and premature infants born at HCA Florida Capital Hospital. The facility will care for infants that are born as much as 10 weeks early. Some of the babies, who can weigh as little as 2 pounds, 7 ounces, may need to gain weight, others may be jaundiced or require respiratory and low blood sugar support.


Ex-Tampa City Council member seeks county hearing officer post” via C.T. Bowen of the Tampa Bay Times — Seven weeks after resigning his Tampa City Council seat to end a public records lawsuit, John Dingfelder is seeking another job in local government: land use hearing officer for Hillsborough County. The March 12 settlement of the lawsuit filed by development consultant Stephen Michelini prohibits Dingfelder from running for Council, Mayor or seeking an appointed position dealing with city zoning or land-use issues for five years. However, the settlement doesn’t mention overseeing land-uses cases in unincorporated Hillsborough. “I talked to my attorney before I applied and we reread the agreement and the settlement agreement expressly says ‘city’ not county,” Dingfelder said.

That wasn’t the first COVID-19 ruling out of Tampa’s federal courthouse” via Sue Carlton of the Tampa Bay Times — In a blockbuster ruling last week, federal judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle struck down a requirement that people wear masks on public transportation including planes to limit the spread of COVID-19. But that wasn’t the first time decisions in the fierce debate over pandemic safety regulations have come out of Tampa’s federal courthouse. In three separate cases, veteran U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday, who was nominated by President George H.W. Bush and has been on the bench since 1992, weighed in on cruise ship regulations and vaccine mandates, ruling each time against the COVID-19 requirements.

Rays’ Stuart Sternberg seeks to consolidate minority owners’ lawsuits against him” via Jay Cridlin of the Tampa Bay Times — Sternberg has asked a circuit court judge to combine two lawsuits brought by the team’s minority owners against his businesses into one. Attorneys for Sternberg filed the motion to consolidate Wednesday in Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Court, arguing that since both cases involve the same plaintiffs and “questions of fact,” consolidation would save time, money and resources, and “eliminate the risk of inconsistent judicial determinations of fact.” At issue are two suits alleging Sternberg and his companies hid information from five minority partners as he sought to expand his stake in and control of the team. Those partners collectively own about 9.6 percent of the club.

Universal parks return to pre-pandemic attendance levels” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — Universal’s theme parks continue to be a comeback story two years after the pandemic shut them down. Universal’s parks in Orlando and California are back to the same attendance levels pre-pandemic, Comcast executives said Thursday as the cable giant released its first-quarter earnings that showed theme parks’ revenue jumping by $941 million to $1.6 billion. The company, which didn’t stop building new rides during the pandemic, touted its major investments to keep bringing visitors back and generating more big returns. Comcast is ramping up its Epic Universe construction with costs up $1 billion year-over-year.


SEIU makes a set of early endorsements for South Florida elections” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — One of the state’s largest unions rolled out a slew of endorsements for politicians facing re-election in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties Thursday. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Florida chapter lays claim to representing 80,000 workers in the state. The union released what it called an early set of endorsements in honor of International Workers Memorial Day. SEIU support is going solely to Democratic candidates, except for endorsements in the School Board contests, which are nonpartisan races. “We need elected officials who will honestly address the real issues affecting everyday Floridians, such as affordable housing, fair wages, and access to quality, affordable health care,” said Roxey Nelson, Vice President of SEIU Florida’s State Council.

Premier of British Virgin Islands, port director charged in Miami in cocaine smuggling scheme” via Jay Weaver of the Miami Herald — The Premier of the British Virgin Islands and the director of the small Caribbean territory’s ports were arrested at a Miami-area airport by federal agents on charges of conspiring to import cocaine into the United States and money laundering. Andrew Alturo Fahie, BVI’s premier, and Oleanvine Maynard, manager director of the port authority, were taken into custody by Drug Enforcement Administration agents at Miami-Opa-locka Executive Airport. The foreign officials were arrested after they met with undercover DEA agents posing as cocaine traffickers to check out an alleged shipment of $700,000 in cash on an airplane that they believed was destined for the British Virgin Islands.


So, Ron DeSantis, how much of Florida’s racist past do I have to hide from my students?” via Marvin Dunn of the Miami Herald — I taught for 35 years in the Department of Psychology at Florida International University, with a focus on race and ethnic relations. I plan to offer a course again, but now require some guidance from DeSantis as to what I may or not may not be able to say in the classroom: When I attended school in Volusia County, I was one of the students they sent to the white school to collect their used books because they were getting new ones. This was institutional racism. Am I allowed to share that with students? When I was a little boy growing up in Florida I had to drink from the “colored” fountain at the Volusia County Courthouse. The “White“ water was cool, but ours was warm. This made me feel bad. May I share this with students?


Just call Donald Trump a loser” via Mark Leibovich of The Atlantic — Trump’s bizarre and enduring hold over his party has made it verboten for many Republicans to even utter publicly the unpleasant fact of his defeat — something they will readily acknowledge in private. The best way for a Republican to depose Trump in 2024, they said, will be to call Trump a loser, as early and as brutally as possible and keep pointing out the absurdity of treating a one-term, twice-impeached, 75-year-old former President like a kingmaker and heir apparent. In other words, don’t worry about hurting Special Boy’s feelings.

VAMOS vs. Woke” via Rick Scott for Town Hall — There is an old Spanish saying: “Camarón que se duerme se lo lleva la corriente.” Basically, it means if you snooze, you lose. This pretty accurately describes what’s occurred to the Democrat Party with Hispanic voters.  Recent public polling regarding Hispanic voters disapproving of Biden and rejecting the liberal agenda confirms what many of us have seen building over several election cycles. The Democrat Party has lost its way and still believes that simply running ads meant to elicit fear would be enough to capture Hispanic voters. You add to the tired playbook new extremist policies that have led to growing inflation, rising gas prices, and demoralizing law enforcement, and the end result is a 26% job approval for Biden among Hispanic voters, lowest of any demographic.

Ron DeSantis took his MAGA hat off and put Floridians first. Finally” via the Miami Herald editorial board — DeSantis demonstrated in the past week that there are two ways to stand up to corporate power in Florida. There’s the petty, anti-democratic way, punishing Disney for speaking out against the bill critics have labeled “Don’t Say Gay.” Then there’s the pro-consumer way. DeSantis vetoed a bill pushed by Florida Power & Light that would have undermined solar-power expansion in the Sunshine State. It was a good move.

Florida House should censure Randy Fine” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — Serving in the Legislature is one of the state’s highest honors and a solemn public trust. And when that honor is sullied and that trust shattered, there must be consequences. Many Floridians familiar with state Rep. Fine believe he hit that point a long time ago. The Palm Bay Republican has long been known for his outrageous, and often vengeful, behavior. But last week, he reached a new low. Most news stories about the series of events start with the fact that he called a Brevard County School Board member a whore. But it wasn’t the first time he’d insulted Board member Jennifer Jenkins in that inexcusable fashion. The two have a long-running feud.

Many questions and few answers on math textbook ban” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — Last Thursday, DeSantis recommended that state Sen. Diaz succeed Richard Corcoran as Education Commissioner. Approval by the Board of Education will be a formality. Diaz’s appointment has long been an open secret. Corcoran announced his resignation nearly two months ago. So did DeSantis just happen to pick last Thursday to make it official? Or did the Governor wait until Diaz had voted to approve DeSantis’ gerrymandered congressional map and to abolish Disney World’s self-governing district? With DeSantis, there are no coincidences.

Elon Musk got Twitter because he gets Twitter” via Ezra Klein of The New York Times — Twitter can’t be a place to hold healthy conversation because that’s not what it’s built to do. So what is Twitter built to do? It’s built to gamify conversation. Twitter offers us points for discourse; it scores our communication. And these gamelike features are responsible for much of Twitter’s psychological wallop. Twitter is addictive, in part, because it feels so good to watch those numbers go up and up.”


ABC Action News Full Circle with Paul LaGrone on Channel 10 WFTS: Sen. Janet Cruz; Florida Politics Publisher Peter Schorsch; reporters Anthony Hill and Michael Paluska of ABC Action News

Battleground Florida with Evan Donovan on News Channel 8 WFLA (NBC): Reps. Jackie Toledo and Fentrice Driskell.

Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at politics in South Florida, along with other issues affecting the region.

In Focus with Allison Walker on Bay News 9/CF 13: A discussion of education testing methods and evaluations of educational progress for both students and schools. Joining Walker are Rep. Susan Valdes; Rep. Rene Plasencia; and Patricia Levesque, President/CEO, Foundation for Excellence in Education.

Political Connections  Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: Sen. Diaz will discuss being tapped to be the next Education Commissioner of Florida and will discuss his plans for education in the state.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: A one-on-one with U.S. Sen. Rubio who will discuss inflation, gas prices, China, and his re-election bid; and an interview with Rep. Geraldine Thompson who will discuss the protests at the end of the Special Session.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Rep. Allison Tant.

— ALOE —

Disney announces full return of Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — The headless horseman. The Sanderson Sisters. And loads of candy. Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is back. Disney announced the full celebration was returning this year to Disney World following two years of cutbacks from the pandemic. “As a part of this limited-capacity event, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party attendees will encounter event-exclusive entertainment, notorious Disney villains, frightfully delicious menu items and more,” Disney said on its parks blog. In 2020, Disney World canceled the Halloween party completely while the parks significantly limited attendance in the height of the pandemic. The Disney After Hours Boo Bash, a scaled-down version, returned last year but it was missing some of the fan favorites.

‘A people with a history’: Members of Seminole Tribe create newest downtown mural” via the Tallahassee Democrat — For the first time in Tallahassee, images of the Seminole Tribe of Florida have been created by members of the Seminole Tribe. An official “unveiling” of the mural at 728 S. Macomb St. was held at 10 a.m. Wednesday, April 27. The idea to work with the Seminole Tribe of Florida came from Elizabeth Emmanuel’s desire to increase cultural representation through art. “We’d found success in public art projects in 2020, and had a wonderfully diverse set of artists creating content that spoke to them. Here in Tallahassee we have art work about Seminoles, but none of it was created by Tribal members,” Emmanuel said.


Happy 68th birthday to ace photographer Mark Wallheiser, Sen. Gary Farmer, and former State Rep. Renier Diaz de la Portilla. Happy early birthday to the great Lori Killinger.


Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter SchorschPhil Ammann, Daniel Dean, Renzo Downey, Ryan Nicol, 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.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704