Winner and Loser of the Week in Florida politics — Week of 5.30.22

Charlie Crist keeps on winning endorsements, but a tropical storm this early? That's not winning.

Kids and teenagers sometimes do stupid things.

Most of the time, adults can make the punishment fit the crime. Maybe the kid gets grounded for a week or, in the case of a teen, loses his car privileges. Maybe Mom and Dad decide their child will miss a friend’s birthday party.

There must be consequences.

But what happens when a child’s still-developing brain blows a circuit and crosses over into the land of serious consequences?

That’s what police in two Florida counties had to deal with recently following the mass murders in Buffalo and Uvalde.

Hillsborough County Sheriff’s deputies arrested 18-year-old Corey Anderson of Lutz, just north of Tampa. He posted images online that appeared to show him with a handgun, a rifle, and a tactical-style vest.

His caption: “Hey Siri, directions to the nearest school.”

A few days later, police in Lee County arrested a 10-year-old accused of threatening a mass shooting at Patriot Elementary in Cape Coral.

Sheriff Carmine Marceno told News Nation, “In light of what’s happened, but even before this, it would have been treated the same exact way. I have 100,000 kids that go to school in my county, and that’s 100,000 parents that want and trust in their Sheriff and the Sheriff’s Office, that they want to kiss their son or daughter goodbye, that they’re going to return safely. That’s my top priority.

“So when someone makes that threat, it’s going to be consistent, zero tolerance. And anyone that does, we are going to show exactly who they are. There are the red flags that we will not ignore, and we’re going to be consistent with that message. We’re not playing games.”

Yes, the 10-year-old’s threat was fake.

And in Anderson’s case, the guns in his online photo were airsoft ones.

The threat wasn’t serious, but the consequences were.

“This man intentionally instilled fear into our community as a sick joke, but be warned, this is no laughing matter,” Hillsborough Sheriff Chad Chronister said. “We will do everything within our power to apprehend and pursue charges on those who make school-based threats.”

In the days since the Uvalde massacre, school districts all over the country reported similar threats. Most were bogus, but police are obligated to treat each one seriously.

It’s the world we live in, as Chronister said, it’s not funny.

Now, let’s get on with our weekly game of winners and losers.


Honorable mention: Richard Corcoran. Gov. Ron DeSantis tabbed the state’s former Education Commissioner to join the state university system’s Board of Governors.

It’s a win for Corcoran because it gives him the influence to reshape Florida’s 12 public universities. Whether it’s a win for the universities … we’ll get back to you on that.

We know Corcoran can be ruthless when he wants to accomplish something, and this appointment signals there’s a bad moon rising for the university status quo.

Jason Garcia of the newsletter “Seeking Rents” used public records to piece together what could be about to happen. You can read the lengthy details here.

Garcia wrote, “Records obtained through a series of public records requests show that DeSantis’ Office recently developed a sweeping plan to overhaul higher-education oversight in Florida. The Governor’s proposal would have centralized more power in boards run by the Governor’s political appointees, made colleges and universities more dependent on money controlled by politicians in Tallahassee, and imposed more restrictions on what schools can teach.

“The DeSantis plan would have even stripped university presidents of the ability to hire professors.”

It’s important to note many of the Governor’s ideas didn’t become law — yet. But it’s equally important to understand Corcoran’s role in pushing DeSantis’ agenda as we advance.

Almost (but not quite) biggest winner: Lawyers. DeSantis’s culture wars resulted in a blizzard of lawsuits against the Governor.

That led the Orlando Sentinel to report how much the state is spending on lawyers to defend laws that courts — including judges appointed by DeSantis — either completely overturn or rule that key parts of the bills are unconstitutional.

“DeSantis is God’s gift to lawyers,” Bob Jarvis, a law professor at Nova Southeastern University, told reporter Skyler Swisher.

State contracts show Florida has paid as much as $675 an hour to outside lawyers to defend the laws. The state paid more than $677,000 to the Washington law firm Cooper & Kirk. That was just to assist in the social media litigation, according to state financial records.

Whether the Governor wins or loses the culture battles in court, he likely wins big with his base.

“It is the initial messaging of the passage of the bill that will stick with the voter and not the after-action court decisions,” University of South Florida political scientist Joshua Scacco said.

“He’s not going to run on the actions of independent courts. The courts can block his efforts, but the Governor can claim he is standing up for particular values and issues as he is running for re-election.”

The biggest winner: Charlie Crist. His campaign to win the Democratic nomination for Governor is taking on an air of inevitability.

Crist received the backing of the Florida Education Association, but we expected that. But then he also picked up the endorsement of progressive state Rep. Anna Eskamani, which raised eyebrows.

Eskamani is a leading progressive voice in the state, and Crist is known for moderate positions. The news had to make Nikki Fried grind her teeth because she has stressed her progressive chops throughout much of the campaign, especially lately.

To have a kindred spirit like Eskamani throw her support behind Crist says everything about the perception of Fried’s campaign.

“At Team Anna, we’re ‘working for you, and fighting for us’ — and that’s exactly who Charlie Crist is and what he does,” Eskamani said.

“When he was Governor of Florida, he pushed back against the Republican-dominated Legislature by championing the needs of everyday people. He’s fought for consumer rights and has taken on some of the most influential corporations in the state, like investor-owned utilities and insurance companies. He even vetoed bad education bills and an anti-abortion bill, while at the same time expanded the right to vote and access to the polls.”

Eskamani has more than 76,000 Twitter followers, a microphone that could help drive younger progressives to the polls for the August Primary.


Dishonorable mention: Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams. He announced his retirement, effective June 10, after a controversy over his place of residence.

In 2021, Williams moved from Duval County to his retirement home in Nassau County. The problem was he hadn’t retired, which violated Jacksonville’s city charter.

“Listen, I think at the end of the day that inconsistency with the charter is something that was always there,” he told News4Jax when asked why he didn’t inform the city of his move.

“Since 2010, I don’t think it was something that just appeared out of the blue, so as we move through the next couple of days, we will come to a resolution.”

Williams said he chose retirement instead of what could have been a prolonged court battle.

It leaves Jacksonville without a Sheriff, possibly until the November elections.

Almost (but not quite) biggest loser: Rick Scott. Florida’s junior U.S. Senator offered one of the dumbest takes yet on the mind-blowing cost of gasoline.

He told Fox News that Democrats “are all-in … they’re with President Biden. They’re looking for an incredible transition with higher and higher prices and poorer American families.”

Yeah, right.

Let’s think this through. Scott says Democrats figure that the more it costs to fill up your car, the better their chances of staying in power.

So, sure, it figures they’d be “all-in” with that idea. They want to do everything they can to give Republicans control of the U.S. House and Senate.

It’s odd that Scott would express such sympathy for the poorer American families after proposing they should pay increased income taxes to give them “skin in the game.”


The biggest loser: Those impacted by hurricane season. Hurricanes don’t differentiate between red and blue, conservative or liberal. We know they bring disaster, but we usually don’t have to sweat it until August and September.

However, that’s not true this year.

The first tropical system of the season brought heavy rain to South Florida over the weekend. And forecasters at Colorado State University revised their prediction for hurricane season.

They initially thought it would be bad, but they now believe it could be worse than they expected. There could be 20 named storms, 10 hurricanes, and five major hurricanes.

This comes as Florida homeowners face skyrocketing property insurance bills. Alas, at the recent Special Session to address the big price increases, GOP lawmakers did little to address costs.

Insurance companies agreed not to deny coverage to roofs less than 15 years old.

However, outgoing state Sen. Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg, who has sounded the alarm about property insurance for years, said that move could backfire on homeowners.

He told WFTS-Tampa Bay he believes it could force some insurance companies out of the Florida market.

“You could see a million to potentially two million policies being dropped just as hurricane season starts,” Brandes said.

Fewer companies mean less competition and possibly higher costs.

“What we are … doing here is going to help the insurance industry and it’s not going to give anything to regular people,” Democratic Rep. Susan Valdes of Tampa said. “I believe that what we are going to do here is going to be just a little Band-Aid.”

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.


  • Modern Mumbling Moderate

    June 5, 2022 at 6:26 am

    “. . . and Crist is known for moderate positions.”
    “Crist” and “moderate” in one phrase is like “Benedict Arnold” and “loyalty” in another.

  • Tom

    June 5, 2022 at 7:18 am

    Joe, really chameleon crisp as winner?
    Rep Eskimo? Eskimo is even more shrill and extreme than N Fraud. Boy Joe, you and Peter are so in on chameleon crisp, it’s overwhelming. I guess one more chance for the by gone era.

    How bout all the hate that was espoused by chameleon, fraud, liar Rebekah Jones and yes the Eskimo, a few days ago in Orlando. The NEA Joe, that extremist Org that sued America’s Gov and lost over opening schools. Do you realize how many kids lives our Gov saved with reopening schools Joe. Chameleon is always the loser. His 5 positions on abortion is hypocritical. The Bible says, if you are luke warm, you will be spat” out. Floridians know chameleons hypocrisy.

    Winner: America’s Governor, wins again Joe.
    Gov Signs new record budget. Restates his “Veto” Gov Corleone status, record in $21 billion in financial reserves, record 3% unemployment, record wage growth, new congressional maps adopted by courts, successful new home insurance program with special session, and per IRS some $41 billion in new earned wealth to Florida. Number one in country.

    The hits keep on coming. America’s Gov is the leader nationally and Republican Party conservative conscience of ideas and initiative.
    America’s Governor is always the winner.
    Happy Sunday.

  • Charlotte Greenbarg

    June 5, 2022 at 7:56 am

    Eskamani is a far left revolutionary. In the Fidel mode. She even posted a photo of herself holding a sign “revolution” on Twitter

  • Tom

    June 5, 2022 at 9:29 am

    Senator Scott is correct Joe. This is the AOC -Sanders green no deal anti carbon campaign. . It’s not by accident from Biden. Biden sold out America for this extremist policy! How you like AOC now. Destroying our country, economy and society. Hope you Manchurians are happy.

Comments are closed.


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