Winner and Loser of the Week in Florida politics — Week of 5.8.22

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Two Democrats are this week's biggest winner and loser. Eric Lynn had a good week. Ramon Alexander did not.

Secretary of State Laurel Lee sure knows how to make an entrance.

Her announcement late last week that she is stepping down as Florida’s Secretary of State came amid speculation she will run for Congress in Florida’s 15th Congressional District. That district covers parts of Hillsborough, Pasco and Polk counties, including Lee’s home in Thonotosassa.

A district that already promises a whopper of a Republican Primary just got more interesting. Former U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross and state Rep. Jackie Toledo are already in the field. There’s speculation state Sen. Kelli Stargel of Lakeland might jump in too.

If that happens, stock up on popcorn because that race will be no-holds-barred. Republican Scott Franklin technically represents CD 15, but the boundary lines changed after the 2020 U.S. Census. Franklin decided to run in Florida’s 18th Congressional District and, well, we’ll get to that later.

The immediate impact, though, is on the office Lee is departing.

Election security is among Lee’s Secretary of State responsibilities, and that hasn’t been easy in this hyperpartisan climate.

Florida won widespread praise for running the 2020 election, but Gov. Ron DeSantis wasn’t satisfied. He pushed through several initiatives he said would guard against fraud. Critics grumped it was about suppressing minority voters.

Lee also found herself battling far-right cries for an audit of that election, even though Republicans ran up the score statewide. It was all for show, of course. Florida’s government can’t seem to operate these days without equal measures of fear and loathing.

DeSantis also created the Office of Election Crimes and Security and made Lee’s office responsible for putting it together.

She remained a loyal soldier to the Governor’s policies. However, it’s not a stretch that she might see running for Congress as a more attractive alternative.

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It’s also safe to assume she isn’t doing this on a whim. Her husband, former state lawmaker Tom Lee, is a savvy tea-leaf reader. She wouldn’t do this so late in the game without a good sense she could win.

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

Winners

Honorable mention: Disney+. You may have heard that relations between the Mouse and Tallahassee are complicated.

But lest anyone believe the feud leaves woke Disney broke, the answer is nope.

The Hollywood Reporter had a story that the company beat Wall Street expectations for its hugely successful streaming business. Disney+ added 7.9 million subscribers in the last quarter. That blitzed the 4.5 million to 5 million investors expected.

Disney reported revenue of $19.2 billion and income of $3.7 billion. That’ll pay for a few fire stations — if you get my drift.

Two other Disney companies reported big gains.

The Hulu streaming service added 300,000 subscribers to reach 45.6 million. ESPN+ added 1 million subscribers to reach 22.3 million.

Also, Axios reported Disney is moving ESPN inexorably toward direct-to-consumer (DTC) streaming. The plan is to eventually bypass cable and traditional streaming platforms.

“What we’re doing is sort of putting one foot on the dock, if you will, and one foot on the boat right now,” Disney CEO Bob Chapek said. “But we know that at some point, when it’s going to be good for our shareholders, we’ll be able to fully go into an ESPN DTC offering.”

Almost (but not quite) biggest winner: Journalism. Good journalism still matters and deserves respect. That’s why it’s noteworthy that the Miami Herald and Tampa Bay Times received Pulitzer Prizes for breaking news and investigative reporting, respectively.

The Herald’s newsroom received the honor for detailed and vital coverage of the Surfside condo disaster.

The Pulitzer board praised the Herald “for its urgent yet sweeping coverage of the collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium complex, merging clear and compassionate writing with comprehensive news and accountability reporting.”

Times Reporters Corey G. Johnson, Rebecca Woolington and Eli Murray won for the series “Poisoned.”

The Pulitzer board recognized the paper’s “compelling exposé of highly toxic hazards inside Florida’s only battery recycling plant that forced the implementation of safety measures to adequately protect workers and nearby residents.”

And let’s not forget reporter Lulu Ramadan of the Palm Beach Post, who joined with three reporters from ProPublica for a finalist package in local reporting. They revealed dangerous air quality during Florida’s sugar cane harvest season. The report prompted significant reforms.

The biggest winner: Eric Lynn. The Pinellas County Democrat saw his path to winning his party’s Primary Election in Florida’s 13th Congressional District get a lot easier.

A tough three-way battle was looming between Lynn and state Reps. Ben Diamond and Michele Rayner, but that changed. Diamond suspended his campaign (not the same as dropping out, but close). There also is speculation Rayner could follow.

Diamond blamed the congressional map drawn by DeSantis. CD 13 had been a relatively safe Democratic district, but DeSantis redrew it to give Republicans the advantage.

“Unfortunately, the Governor and the Legislature did not create fair districts for Florida and did not follow our constitution,” Diamond told Florida Politics.

Diamond did open the possibility of jumping back in the race if the courts overturn the district map. That seems unlikely.

This allows Lynn, who served as Senior Advisor to President Barack Obama, to avoid spending heavily on the Primary. That could leave more cash for the General Election.

He’ll need it.

Losers

Dishonorable mention: DeSantis congressional map. The Governor drew a stinging rebuke when Leon Circuit Judge Layne Smith ruled the map he submitted was unconstitutional, specifically regarding North Florida and Florida’s 5th Congressional District.

Before DeSantis’ supporters scream about ACTIVIST JUDGES, remember that the Governor appointed Smith to that post.

Ouch!

For now, however, it conserves the district represented by Democrat U.S. Rep. Al Lawson.

The district stretched from Jacksonville to Tallahassee and was drawn under the Fair Districts amendment to give Black voters a better chance at representation in Congress. DeSantis maintains it’s an illegal gerrymander (see Diamond, Ben, above).

The ruling is subject to appeal, and the Florida Supreme Court could overturn it.

Almost (but not quite) biggest loser: Rick Scott. His diatribe that President Joe Biden should resign because of inflation smacks of hyperpartisanship, even by today’s exaggerated standards.

“We’re in horrible shape. He doesn’t even know what state I’m from. And you said he was supposed to give his ideas on inflation yesterday,” Scott said on Fox & Friends.

“What were his ideas? Oh, it’s everybody else’s fault but his. So we know he can’t do it. Let’s be honest. We know that Joe Biden cannot fix this economy. Alright, get out of the way, let somebody else do it. That’s what you do in business life.”

Well, we know one of Sen. Scott’s ideas is to raise taxes on the poorest Americans to, in his words, give them “skin in the game.”

We also know he proposes all federal programs sunset after five years. That could include Social Security and Medicare, although Scott said that’s not his intent.

Instead, he wants to “review” those programs — probably the same way he “reviewed” Medicaid while Governor of Florida and said expanding the program would cost too much.

It’s political theatrics because none of that will ever happen, but it gives us an idea about the inner workings of Scott’s mind.

It’s not pretty.

The biggest loser: Ramon Alexander. He was set to become leader of the House Democratic Caucus next term, but he announced he would not seek re-election.

His political career imploded after accusations of sexting and groping a Florida A&M University athletics employee.

In January, that employee, Michael Johnson Jr., a former assistant athletic director, left the school. The Tallahassee Democrat reported the departure happened after “an ugly staff shakeup.”

Johnson filed a complaint in February with the Florida Commission on Human Relations, alleging harassment and retaliation by high-ranking FAMU employees.

Alexander, a married father of two, told the Democrat he had an “adult consensual” relationship with Johnson.

In a statement, Alexander said, “After thoughtful consideration and personal self-reflection, I will not seek re-election for my final term in the Florida House of Representatives.”

Good move.

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.


7 comments

  • Tom

    May 15, 2022 at 8:06 am

    Loser : Rep Lawson apparently has not voted in person all year Joe. 100% proxy vote. How’s that for accountability. In corrupt Nancy Pelosi’s house you can be anywhere but on the House floor, appalling. That will change with new GOP Congress.

    Leon county Judge order is so narrow, it’s thinner than the old C D drawn from Jacksonville to Tallahassee, like a pencil. For the judge to state in his order that a district is to be allowed to drawn to keep someone in power is outrageous. A district is for representation not political hacks, party or racial, ethnic groups.
    Oh yeah he finds a Harvard professor to satisfy his drawn concerns. What a crock of Adam Schiff on a 4×4 pole.

    Holder and Elias are corrupt advocates on behalf plaintiffs. Holders contempt of Congress, selling guns to Mexican cartels, and pardoning of Marc Rich are a few of Holders golden oldies. Elias is associated with the Mueller probe, Steel fake dossier, Clinton campaign, and other Dem Clinton dirty tricks.

    This new map is stayed”and will continue, very strong likelihood that it will survive with appeals and or state Sup ct., which badly erred in allowing the previous dist to stand. Even if it survives under the state review, very good chance the U S Supreme Court reviews this and strikes the previous district on race. Similar rulings have been issued in recent past years.

    America’s Governor always the winner Joe.
    Floridas people’s win when Gov wins.
    Rising tide for all, not a few with America’s Gov in Florida. Economy, jobs, schools, minority and poor public school scholarships, environmental protection, Covid vindication, $20 billion in reserves, and more.

    Chameleon Crisp and Nikki Fraud no chance vs America’s Gov, Gov wins bigly in Nov. Tallahassee Govs mansion to WH oval for America’s Gov. Do for America, what you have done for Florida.

  • Daniel Rousseau

    May 15, 2022 at 9:25 am

    Senator Rick “Fifth Amendment” Scott is jumping on Biden because Scott wants to position himself for a VP spot on either Trump’s or DeSantis’ Republican Presidential ticket in 2024. He knows his only chance at winning the White House is by latching onto coattails of one of those two frontrunners before launching his own future bid for the presidency.

    • Tom

      May 15, 2022 at 9:59 am

      Dan, not happening.
      When two candidates from same State, head the ticket for Presidency they negate their electoral votes. Florida is vital for Repub.
      America’s Gov will not select Scott.
      I doubt Trump would as well. Scott’s his own guy. He will likely run if 45 bows out.

      America’s Gov, DeSantis popularity had skyrocketed in GOP. Excluding 45, he’s the leader.

  • Tom

    May 15, 2022 at 9:44 am

    America’s Governor wins Joe:
    He’s brought proper attention to the awfully, racially drawn 5th district. Judges ruling is atrocious, when he claims district is right for “control” just horrible ruling. Appeals or state Sup court likely to concur with Governor, if not U S Supreme Court will very likely do so. Similar recent rulings by Supremes find conflict with race based Lawson type mandered districts.
    This district will not stand!

    Btw, Lawsons voted 100% proxy, appalling. How’s that for accountability Joe ? Is he in the district? Where is he?

    Holder and Elias are corrupt. Contempt of Congress, IRS attacks, Mexican cartels, Holders pedigree. Elias involvement with fake Steele dossier, other Clinton hack man , dirty trickster.
    Record is long for both.

    America’s Governor always winner!

    • Donald Duck

      May 15, 2022 at 10:14 am

      “Holder and Elias are corrupt. Contempt of Congress, IRS attacks, Mexican cartels, Holders pedigree…fake Steele dossier, other Clinton hack man , dirty trickster.”
      Now, there’s a string of phrases that make no sense at all in relation to Mr Henderson’s column above. You were doing just fine (as far as sticking to the subject) up until that nonsense. Do you just blurt things out as a way to let off steam? Who does that?

      • Tom

        May 15, 2022 at 10:44 am

        Donald Duck, Amazingly ignorants like you who reside in Manchurian bubble are clueless. I educate all the facts. These two are the people that the Dems rely upon to wage their scurrilous battles. Wiki any of those outlines, you should be offended as all Americans should. AG John Mitchell went to jail, deservingly in watergate hush money and corruption. Really, you want to defend these hucksters. It all matters, these are the people crying wolf.

        You don’t decide what I say or state pal. Joe leaves a lot on the table and brushed under the rug. Btw, I am the FP legend. I’ve brought it back to the center, where constant left wing diatribes and regular left wing outlines. I speak truth period!

        America’s Gov is the un official leader of the GOP and conservative movement! His example and more importantly Florida’s economic vitality and prosperity is the beacon of freedom and liberty! Gov Ron has demonstrated great example and leadership on all key topics.

        Gov Ron, Sen Rubio win bigly!

      • Tom

        May 18, 2022 at 8:49 pm

        Hey moron, that pathetic corrupt fraudster Marc Elias was on the stand today for the conspiracy fake Steele dossier, Hillary campaign. Just a hack. Hillary coming soon.

Comments are closed.


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