Last Call for 5.17.22 — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics

A digest of the day's politics and policy while the bartender refreshes your drink.

Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.

First Shot

The National Republican Senatorial Committee on Tuesday attacked U.S. Rep. Val Demings, claiming that she “tiptoes” around taking a position on the dictatorial regime in Cuba.

“If talk of negotiations with a murderous dictator in Venezuela and returning to a failed Iran Deal wasn’t bad enough, President Joe Biden’s leaning in even further — easing restrictions on Communist Cuba,” an NRSC news release said. “Just like every other time Biden has kowtowed to dictators, Florida Congresswoman Val Demings tiptoes her way around taking an actual position.”

NRSC, which serves as the primary committee backing GOP U.S. Senate candidates, said Demings has a weak foreign policy record. Demings, a Democrat, is challenging Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio this election cycle.

Following the Biden administration’s announcement, it will resume normalization efforts toward Cuba. In a statement, Demings supported the administration’s decision to lift limits on family remittances but criticized the move to allow non-family remittances, which the White House says will help Cuban entrepreneurs.

“We must maintain a strong economic embargo and make Cuba’s Communist regime pay for its human rights abuses,” she said. “I am encouraged by policies that will reunite families and raise the cap on family remittances but allowing investments in the Cuban private sector and easing travel restrictions will only serve to fund the corrupt dictatorship.

“In the Senate, I will always put the Cuban people and their struggle for freedom and democracy first and hold the corrupt regime accountable for its crimes.”

NRSC said her position on Cuba — as well as the regimes in Venezuela, Colombia and Afghanistan — is weak. The committee also dinged her for a supposedly weak record on “socialism” though it cited no instances of Demings embracing pro-socialist policies.

“Val Demings is too scared to call out the outrageous policy decisions being made by Joe Biden and Washington Democrats, and Floridians see right through it,” NRSC spokesperson Priscilla Ivasco said.

“Sen. Marco Rubio has been an advocate for freedom and democracy across the globe, especially when it comes to protecting our hemisphere from regimes that stand against freedom and human rights. Demings is too weak to take a stand, and that won’t work in Florida.”

Evening Reads

—“Joe Biden pokes South Florida hornet’s nest with announcement on Cuba policies” via Bianca Padró Ocasio of the Miami Herald

—“When Florida’s property insurers fail, few ask why” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times

—“Can Florida schools, workplaces discuss Saturday’s ‘racially motivated’ shooting in Buffalo under HB 7?” via Danielle J. Brown of the Florida Phoenix

—“Charlie Crist gives $100K to Florida Democrats’ Blue Shift effort via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

—“Nikki Fried wants $1B rebate program for Florida seniors” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida

—“Disgraced former CrossFit CEO gives $75,000 to Ron DeSantis committee” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida

—“Laurel Lee running for Congress in CD 15” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

—“Ex-U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, a Jacksonville icon, taking plea deal on federal fraud charges” via Steve Patterson of The Florida Times-Union

—“College student finds possible ‘critical race theory’ in Florida math book, report finds” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel

—“Chris King says he has an answer to the affordable housing crisis; will investors buy?” via Kate Santich of the Orlando Sentinel

—“How Germany is racing to sever dependence on Russian energy” via Bojan Pancevski of The Wall Street Journal

—“With plunging enrollment, a ‘seismic hit’ to public schools” via Shawn Hubler of The New York Times

—“White power, White violence” via Kathleen Belew of The Atlantic

—“UFO hearing features historic testimony from Pentagon officials” via Shane Harris of The Washington Post

Quote of the Day

“Florida Democrats have 99 problems and Joe Biden’s relentless appeasement of communist dictatorships is definitely one of them.”

— RNC spokesperson Julie Friedland, following the Biden administration’s return to normalization efforts in Cuba.

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