Winner and Loser of the Week in Florida politics — Week of 5.15.22

President Joe Biden leaves Florida Democrats dangling in the wind.

Republicans aren’t the only ones who think President Joe Biden is doing a lousy job. After the events of the last several days, Florida Democrats aren’t happy with their party’s leader either.

Biden threw a one-two punch that could essentially ensure Florida will go deep red this fall.

He lifted restrictions that former President Donald Trump imposed on Cuba. That’s a move back to the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and the island nation in 2015 by former President Barack Obama.

Biden also eased sanctions on Venezuela, provided dictator Nicolás Maduro commits to talks with U.S.-backed opposition leader Juan Guaidó. The U.S. is among about 60 nations recognizing him as the Venezuelan leader.

Two words: Melt. Down.

Criticism flew rapidly at Biden from all corners of Florida, particularly the southern part. Republicans and Democrats agree: This is bad.

“Allowing investments in the Cuban private sector and easing travel restrictions will only serve to fund the corrupt dictatorship,” Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Val Demings said.

But it’s a tacit admission by the President that Florida will stay red no matter what he does. Biden’s gamble is that no state outside of Florida will care one way or the other. And if the Venezuela move eventually leads to more oil and lower prices, the vast majority of Americans will care even less about where it came from.

The win for Biden on Cuba would be scenes of happy families reuniting, freed from Trump’s restrictions that separated them.

That almost certainly doesn’t come in time to help with the November election, but Biden is playing the long game here. Florida Democrats, however, get the short end of that stick.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Annette Taddeo is exasperated.

“To remove sanctions and allow oil companies to go in there, are we doing that with Russia next?” she asked.


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


Honorable mention: Joseph Woodrow Hatchett. The U.S. House voted to name the U.S. Courthouse of Northern Florida in Tallahassee the Judge Joseph Woodrow Hatchett U.S. Courthouse. Hatchett was Florida’s first Black state Supreme Court Justice.

The measure now goes to the Senate.

Hatchett died in April 2021.

In March, the House voted down the first attempt to rename the building. Republicans objected after learning that in 1999 Hatchett, as an appeal court judge, ruled against allowing prayer at a public school district’s graduation in Duval County.

“Judge Hatchett was a trailblazing American judge and veteran,” Democratic Rep. Al Lawson said. “He was a champion for social justice reform and a dedicated public servant. Despite experiencing racial discrimination, that never deterred his desire to serve in the justice system. He had a long career of prestigious judgeships, military service, and civil rights advocacy that broke barriers for the Black community.”

Florida Rep. Neal Dunn, a Republican, noted, “He is a great Floridian and American and should be recognized as such. I take issue with his decision regarding student-approved prayers at high school graduations; however, that one decision must not overshadow all his achievements. Now that I’ve had time to learn more about Judge Hatchett, I am proud to support the renaming of this courthouse.”

Almost (but not quite) biggest winner: Florida’s first couple. We can all get behind this culture war — the war on the drug culture.

First Lady Casey DeSantis and her husband, the Governor, stepped up front and center in Florida’s never-ending battle against street drugs, especially fentanyl.

Casey appeared at Tohopekaliga High School in Kissimmee to speak to students about the dangers of those substances.

“These drugs that these officers are seeing on the streets, they’re really scary,” the First Lady said. “The drug fentanyl, which only has to be the size of a grain of sand to be deadly, is pouring into our country and winding up in all different types of drugs. You might think you’re taking one thing, but if it’s laced with fentanyl, it could instantaneously kill you on the spot.”

Later the same day, the Governor traveled to Lakeland to sign legislation (HB 95) increasing penalties for trafficking in controlled substances, particularly fentanyl.

“You go to look at like certain street drugs that are considered, quote, not as lethal — if this fentanyl is in it, then all of a sudden, you’re looking at something that could take your life,” DeSantis said.

The biggest winner: Fentrice Driskell. Barring something completely unexpected, House Democrats will elect her to lead their caucus.

It’s an oft-frustrating task for whoever is in that position because Republicans control Tallahassee and aren’t eager to share power.

However, as one of the state’s most prominent Democrats, Driskell will be in a position to steer the party back to relevancy.

The only way to do that is at the ballot box, and the only way that works is if voters hear a consistent message that they believe will improve their lives.

Too often, Democrats resemble a cacophony of voices, each singing different tunes simultaneously. Folks tune out that stuff because, for the most part, they don’t care about the minutiae of politics.

Simplify and then amplify.

Driskell’s first job in her new role is to get her fellow Democrats to buy into that.


Dishonorable mention: Rick Scott. If Scott falls in the forest, does he make a sound?

For many people, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, the answer is “no.”

Not surprisingly, only 16% had a favorable view, while 27% turned thumbs-down. I wonder why? Could it be a reaction to Scott’s “Rescue America” plan, which, translated, is to slap a tax on the poorest Americans?

However, 36% of respondents said they had never heard of Florida’s junior Senator. Another 21% had no opinion. Combined, 57% of those polled either don’t know him or don’t care.

He shouldn’t feel too bad though. The poll showed that people generally have bad opinions about virtually all the top Washington politicians.

And if you’re wondering about the squire of Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s numbers showed 56% unfavorable compared to 41% favorable.

Almost (but not quite) biggest loser(s): GOP reps who voted against funding for baby formula. We have disdain for the 192 House Republicans who voted against $28 million in emergency funding to help in the ongoing baby formula shortage.

We reserve special scorn for the 15 who “represent” Florida.

Remember the names: Gus Bilirakis, Vern Buchanan, Kat Cammack, Mario Diaz-Balart, Byron Donalds, Neal Dunn, Scott C. Franklin, Carlos Gimenez, Matt Gaetz, Brian Mast, Bill Posey, Maria Elvira Salazar, Greg Steube, Michael Waltz and Daniel Webster.

These dedicated public servants responded to the call of House Minority Whip Steve Scalise to vote “no.”

He said Speaker Nancy Pelosi proposed the legislation “in hopes of covering up the administration’s ineptitude by throwing additional money at the FDA with no plan to actually fix the problem, all while failing to hold the FDA accountable.”

We’re still waiting for Rep. Scalise’s plan to “actually fix the problem.”

Meanwhile, babies are hungry, mothers are desperate and these people play politics. What if their kid was hungry? No wonder people hate politicians.

The Infant Formula Supplemental Appropriations Act passed 231-192. It provides funding to help increase inspectors at the Food and Drug Administration. That could help get formula on shelves faster.

It now goes to the Senate.

The nation’s supply of baby formula fell by 40% after Abbott Nutrition, the nation’s largest manufacturer, voluntarily recalled baby formula after discovering several infants suffering from bacterial infections.

The biggest loser: Florida’s congressional count. Oops.

Florida may have been robbed of an extra seat in Congress for the next decade because the U.S. Census undercounted the state’s population by more than 700,000 people.

That’s the conclusion of a post-enumeration survey released Thursday by the Census Bureau. Florida was one of six states affected by low counts, joining Arkansas, Illinois, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas.

They blamed the error on low self-response rates to Census surveys.

Florida did pick up an extra seat after the Census, giving the state 28 representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives. However, it should have been 29.

With control of the House hanging in the balance every two years, losing that extra seat could have large ramifications.

Florida Democrats may actually take heart in that news, figuring that DeSantis would have figured out a way to turn the extra seat red.

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.


  • Basking in the Glow, Joe?

    May 22, 2022 at 7:44 am

    “Republicans aren’t the only ones who think President Joe Biden is doing a lousy job. After the events of the last several days, Florida Democrats aren’t happy with their party’s leader either.”

    Given this lead, it is apparent that local Joe, shockingly, is beginning to get a clear picture of Wilmington Joe, the geriatric bumbler the Dems have foisted on America. It’s starting to look like the word has gone out from the DNC to the MSM that Biden is not going to be allowed to continue past 2024 (may not politically survive the tender, Trump-minded ministries of a Republican Congress next year either), so the time is now to begin to persuade readers that, perhaps we CAN do without Biden. Say Henderson, when the light bulb over your head turns on, it gives you a warm feeling, doesn’t it?

    • Sister Sunburner, Saint Hedman's Academy for the Swift

      May 22, 2022 at 2:24 pm

      Dear Mister or Miss Basking, your wishful observation reveals much about you: unable to see the world in any terms other than those dictated to you by the likes of Rick Scott (“geriatric bumbler” is how he has told you to see the President), you mistake Mister Henderson’s inherent honesty for a conversion to your way of seeing things. Mister Henderson is simply “telling it like it is,” as we used to say in the old days. That by no means implies sudden revelation.
      You, on the other hand, holding a burned out incandescent light bulb over your own head, describe a “warm feeling” you apparently experience when contemplating matters of partisan politics, and that, my dear, means you have once again not made it to the potty on time, bless your heart.

      • Basking in the Glow, Joe?

        May 22, 2022 at 3:29 pm

        I’m flattered by your attention, Sister Sunburnt, and amused.

  • Tom

    May 22, 2022 at 8:25 am

    Biggest Loser:

    Joe, POTUS Biden’s Florida approval is 36%, Civiqs poll all year. The most recent decisions only ensure his approval to decrease. I have stated for months that Biden is a 1000 Pd weight on the necks of the Dems across the board. Chameleon crisp, n fraud and Dumings will feel that weight heavily. It will impact down ticket. The inflation, gas and economy will only make things worse. If we have a regretful recession, it will be only worse. We are looking at a GOP route. New Repub. majorities in Congress coming.

    Biggest Winner:

    It’s Sunday Joe, so of course it’s America’s Gov and First Lady. Gov signed with recovering First Lady more monies towards cancer research, increasing to $100 million. And yes drugs fentanyl was signed into law as you stated.

    Governor announced 3.0% Florida unemployment, jobs down from 3.2%. 57,000 new jobs for Floridians. Florida’s economy, manufacturing, Sevices, tourism on rocket jet fuel from the cape. 8.7% wage growth in Florida. Furthermore, $21 billion in reserves on State financial revenues. I repeat $21 billion in financial reserves! Florida collecting over $650 million a month in across the board revenues.

    Florida is the Mecca for freedom, faith, family, happy life, jobs, education and opportunity. James Carville said, it’s the “economy stupid” and Floridians know America’s Governor is the only choice for them! Earthquake re-Election coming for Gov.

  • ScienceBLVR

    May 22, 2022 at 12:55 pm

    As usual, Tom gives an inane and totally inaccurate response, ie. Florida is the Mecca for freedom, faith, family, happy life, jobs, education and opportunity.
    Let’s correct that colossal misstatement.. Florida is the Mecca for white supremacy, idiocy, fraudulent politicians like Scott, Rubio, and DeSantis, freedom only for those DeSantis deems worthy- not teachers to teach, not university professors to speak, not Disney, not folks who don’t want to be exposed to COVID, not WOMEN, who would like to decide themselves if they carry an unwanted pregnancy rather than the govt doing it for them, not the LGBTQ community who would like to exist without being discriminated against, gosh, i could go on and on about the freedoms this state’s leadership wants to erode. And let’s not forget, DeSantis barely scrapped out a win against a less than stellar opponent- America’s governor? Ha! Only if America is now a banana republic. The people who live in Florida are truly the biggest losers and will continue to be as long as DeSantis and his authoritarian thugs are in charge. Vote these dictators out and give us back our freedom.

    • Sister Sunburner

      May 22, 2022 at 2:25 pm

      Amen to that, Mister ScienceBLVR.

      • Tom

        May 22, 2022 at 4:49 pm

        You moronic idiots actually believe the Manchurian soros talking points provided to you. Foolish.

        Of course I am correct. Florida is the Mecca due to Gov. You have lost no freedoms. none. Get over it. Be thankful, you both should be kissing Govs posterior. DeSantis saved Florida, blue print for America. That’s why he’s in the lead nationally and in State. New generation leader. Do for America, what he’s done for Florida.
        Rising tide for all.

  • Teddy Turner

    May 22, 2022 at 3:09 pm

    Gus Bilirakis, Vern Buchanan, Kat Cammack, Mario Diaz-Balart, Byron Donalds, Neal Dunn, Scott C. Franklin, Carlos Gimenez, Matt Gaetz, Brian Mast, Bill Posey, Maria Elvira Salazar, Greg Steube, Michael Waltz and Daniel Webster.

    Pathetic they all need spine implants…very SAD They are all power drunk on the Porky’s J6 Freedom Koolaide…

    • Tom

      May 22, 2022 at 8:54 pm

      Go suck Jane Fonda’s toe, dumb ass.

  • Tom

    May 22, 2022 at 5:13 pm

    Disbeliever and Sista:

    You morons give us incompetence with Joe, a Great Depression and you dare to criticize America’s Gov. They close down Abbott and don’t care about the babies. Biden has destroyed America. Period Kiss Desantis ass, you incompetents.

    Biden is worse than Hoover Depression in 1920’s

    • ScienceBLVR

      May 22, 2022 at 8:28 pm

      Sorry Tom..I’ve taught a little history as well as science, and I believe the general consensus is the “Hoover Depression” was the 1930’s not the “Roaring Twenties” but no matter. DeSantis is still a rhubarb con man and not anywhere even close to what we would call America’s anything, let alone governor.

  • Tom

    May 22, 2022 at 8:53 pm

    It stared under Hoover moron.
    You have taught nothing but corrupt methods.
    By the time FDR was elected in 1932, it had been raging under Hoover in the late 1920’s,
    Into the early 30’s. Regardless, this Potus is the worst since the depression and ocean Joe honored me, by saying I skipped Jinny Carter.
    Biden and Harris are hopeless. They have purposefully ruined America’s economy. They have brought economic chaos.

    America’s Governor is the vert best.
    Florida is the beacon of economic renaissance and prosperity. The peeps know it, they know Desantis is on their side.
    Rising tide for all, not a few and he will
    Do for America what he’s done for Florida.
    Read and weep!

  • Maven

    May 24, 2022 at 12:38 am

    This site gives Casey DeSantis credit for just about anything she does — making the occasional public appearance, eating, breathing, farting. Amazing how much valorizing this former yacht girl gets.

  • Tom

    May 25, 2022 at 9:20 am

    Recovering from cancer.
    How despicable can you be.
    She’s advocating for better cancer care, better child , youth mental care. Despicable you are.
    God bless First Lady, this great Gov, America’s Gov. and his young family. You are gross.

Comments are closed.


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