Good Tuesday morning.
I’m still in London, praying for a miracle. I’m drawing to an inside straight today with a doctor’s appointment scheduled for 12:30 p.m. If that doesn’t go right, I may be here for a while.
For those following British politics, you know Boris Johnson won a vote of confidence, but boy, the numbers are difficult for him: 211 to 148.
No, I do not know who is behind the WhodunitFL text messages that are spamming so many of us in The Process. Are they really that intriguing? I mean, targeting Steve Bousquet? How ten years ago is that?
Miami Sen. Annette Taddeo has dropped out of the Governor’s race and will instead run to unseat incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. María Elvira Salazar in Florida’s 27th Congressional District.
Taddeo confirmed the decision Monday, telling Florida Politics that recent mass shootings across the country prompted her to reevaluate her political priorities.
“After the tragedies in Buffalo and Uvalde and a conversation with my daughter about the realities our kids face daily, I knew what I needed to do,” she said.
Taddeo’s announcement comes after lengthy speculation that she would switch to a run at the U.S. House.
It also follows months of disappointing fundraising and polling for Taddeo, who entered the Governor’s race in October, long after Democratic front-runners Charlie Crist and Nikki Fried filed to run.
She’ll face Miami Commissioner Ken Russell and Angel Montalvo, who is running a 100% grassroots campaign, in the Democratic Primary.
Speaking about Taddeo’s potential CD 27 run last month, Russell said he had no intention of dropping out of the race but stressed a need for unity among Democrats.
“We need to support each other as a party, and we need to build a slate statewide that is effective in holding onto and winning back as many seats as possible,” he said.
First in Sunburn — Charlie Crist on a roll with another $1M+ fundraising month — The Crist campaign is announcing a May fundraising haul of over $1 million raised — for the third consecutive month — in the race to unseat Gov. Ron DeSantis. The new haul brings the campaign to more than $10 million raised this cycle, with over $6.3 million cash on hand. “Now more than ever, Floridians are ready to put an end to the division and hurt Gov. DeSantis has brought to our communities,” Crist said. “We are building a hopeful and optimistic movement that will work tirelessly to bring Florida together and win this election for the people in November.”
Corcoran Partners announced Tuesday that it is adding Bethany Swonson McAlister to the team.
“We are excited and honored to have Bethany join the Corcoran Partners team. Her experiences have equipped her with the knowledge and ability to navigate countless areas of policy and bring people and entities together to form successful partnerships. Bethany’s expertise and character are second to none, and we know that she will play an integral role in serving the interests of our clients,” said Mike Corcoran, CEO and founding partner of Corcoran Partners.
McAlister brings more than a decade of experience in the private, nonprofit, and government sectors to the firm. She most recently worked as Chief of Staff at the Florida Department of Education after serving the agency as Deputy Chief of Staff and Legislative Affairs Director and as the Executive Director for the Florida Education Foundation.
Former Education Secretary Richard Corcoran, who is McAlister’s former boss and the brother of Mike Corcoran, praised the hire.
“I appreciate Bethany and her time at the Florida Department of Education, her advocacy for important policy issues and her staunch support for ensuring that Florida’s education system continues to be the driving force that provides well-rounded citizens that give back to the State of Florida,” he said. “She is a fierce advocate and focused leader that has made it clear she will not stop working until all aspirations to empower families and create conditions that support improved community outcomes are reached.”
In addition to her work at DOE, McAlister has managed global hospitality accounts in the communication field and has developed an extensive network of leaders across the state. Among those offering their seal of approval on the new gig are Reps. Alex Rizo and Dana Trabulsy.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@TheRickWilson: Squeal, Enrique (Tarrio). I suspect federal custody would not go well for you.
—@timkephart33: (Donald) Trump may have to make his 2024 plans known soon as DeSantis is likely to start eating into his fundraising at some point. The Florida Governor could likely knock off Trump in a head-to-head race, but neither will go down that road.
—@BenDiamondFL: You just have to ask yourself, what does the Governor have against St. Pete?
—@D_Russ: The #Rays are not tweeting about gun violence or having a Pride Night so that it’s easier for them to relocate. They’re doing it because it’s the right thing to do.
Instead of focusing on $5 gas,6000 illegal immigrants a day,record fentanyl deaths,or the violent criminals terrorizing America democrats use taxpayer money on a TV producer for the prime time political infomercial from the Jan 6th circushttps://t.co/A6G9ZlMdIf #axiosam pic.twitter.com/RXOUr7RHFg
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) June 6, 2022
—@MDixon55:.@ campaign calling @, who has endorsed @, “off-brand AOC” is not what I expected today. All primaries have an element of this, but Fried’s campaign has gotten really shape elbowed in recent weeks
—@MiamiAbel: I’m not sure what Nikki Fried’s CD expected or what the strategy is supposed to be going after one of the most respected reps in the Florida Democratic Party and calling her “off-brand AOC” Tell me you’re not from Florida without telling me you’re not from Florida
—@KeithEdwards: Earlier, I tweeted at @ in a way that was disrespectful. For that, I am sorry. It’s worrying to see her support a self-described pro-life Republican, but this wasn’t the way to do it. I’ve deleted the tweet. The focus should be on exposing Charlie and beating DeSantis.
—@Fineout: Hmm. So, at 9 a.m. tomorrow, @ is holding a news conference in Tampa to highlight the “home hardening tax exemption.” At 11 a.m. — and at a location that is 2.7 miles away from where Patronis will be — @ PAC will announce its endorsement in CFO race
—@JimmyMidyette: I’ll hate 90% of (Aaron) Bean’s votes in Congress, but at least I’ll know he’s a man of principle. His opponents for the GOP nomination are lesser men. They’re lesser people; jokes really. I would be embarrassed to have them represent me in Congress.
— DAYS UNTIL —
‘Jurassic World Dominion’ premieres — 3; Pixar’s ‘Lightyear’ premieres — 10; 2022 Florida Chamber Learners to Earners Workforce Solution Summit — 21; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 30; 36th Annual Environmental Permitting School — 42; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 46; Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner novel ‘Heat 2’ publishes — 64; FRLA’s Operations and Marketing Summit — 72; ‘House of the Dragon’ premieres on HBO — 75; 2022 Florida Chamber Technology & Innovation Solution Summit — 85; ‘Andor’ premieres on Disney+ — 85; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 87; NFL Opening Night: LA Rams vs. Buffalo Bills — 93; 2022 Emmys — 97; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 121; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 139; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 140; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 140; ‘Black Panther 2’ premieres — 157; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 163; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 167; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 167; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 168; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 176; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 176; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 190; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 254; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 272; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 290; 2023 Session Sine Die — 332; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 332; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 360; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 416; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 500; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 661; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 780.
—TOP STORY —
“Appeals court denies USF ‘sovereign immunity’ motion to dismiss COVID-19 fees lawsuit” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — 2nd District Court of Appeals Judge Darryl Casanueva ruled to continue hearing a class-action lawsuit filed by a University of South Florida (USF) student against the school for failing to offer partial tuition refunds to students after canceling in-person classes because of COVID-19.
Casanueva declined the state’s motion to dismiss the suit on the grounds of sovereign immunity, allowing the lawsuit to continue.
“When the state enters into a contract authorized by general law, the defense of sovereign immunity will not shield it from litigation,” the ruling states.
Casanueva noted that the “terms and conditions” of the student registration agreement contained “a promise by USF to provide any specific services in exchange for the fees it charged students.” And, when the Legislature authorizes a state entity to enter into a contract, “it clearly intends that the contract be valid and binding on both parties.”
While the decision does not supply a verdict on the case itself, it could lead the state to use a different defense.
— STATEWIDE —
What Rebekah Jones is reading — “Florida undercounted COVID cases and deaths, failed to get test results, state audit says” via Ian Hodgson of the Times/Herald —Florida’s COVID-19 data was so inaccurate, incomplete and delayed during the first months of the pandemic that government officials and the public may not have had necessary information to determine the effectiveness of the state’s COVID-19 precautions and the best plan to fight the virus, according to a state report released Monday. Covering the state’s pandemic response from March to October 2020, the yearlong analysis by the Florida Auditor General found missing case and death data, unreported ethnic and racial details, and incomplete contact tracing as the coronavirus spread across the state. In addition, the report concluded that state health officials did not perform routine checks on the data to ensure accuracy and did not follow up on discrepancies.
>>>Yet one top state health official, Department of Health spokesperson Jeremy Redfern, said the Auditor General’s report was flawed. Redfern said “some of the conclusions come from (the auditors’) misunderstanding of the purpose of different datasets,” adding that “the report does not address the huge advancements we’ve made in modernizing our reporting systems.”
“Ron DeSantis predicts Joe Biden could play politics during hurricane season” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Florida won’t only have inflation to worry about as the state gears up for hurricane season. DeSantis says the Sunshine State will also have to contend with the politics of Biden. The high inflation levels will make it more expensive for residents to buy gas and canned goods this Hurricane Season, which runs from June to November. On Monday, Florida’s Republican Governor told reporters federal aid wouldn’t come as easy as it did in his first two years in office. DeSantis said that the Biden administration had slow-walked Florida’s receipt of other federal programs before, while California and New York received quick approvals.
“DeSantis trumpets increased funding for Urban Search and Rescue” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis started his week in a fire station in eastern Duval County, where he highlighted a “great announcement” regarding the state’s disaster response. The Governor was on hand with Chief Financial Officer Patronis and Florida Department of Emergency Management (FDEM) head Kevin Guthrie. “We do have situations where we have (a) need for disaster response,” DeSantis said, citing the Surfside tragedy of 2021 as an occasion for these rescue efforts, requiring reinforcements from around the state. “We’ve decided with our budget this year we want to make an impact on the state level,” DeSantis said, “to really show our support.”
Honored to stand with @GovRonDeSantis, @KevinGuthrieFL and US&R Task Force 5 today in Jacksonville. I made it my top priority this year to fight for $10M for these heroes. This is an historic amount of funding in support of our first responders & their life-saving missions. pic.twitter.com/LllXwQ3p5G
— Jimmy Patronis (@JimmyPatronis) June 6, 2022
“Bill cracking down on deadly stunt driving, street takeovers rolls to DeSantis’ desk” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — A bill allowing police to hand out fines and make arrests based on video evidence of on-street stunt driving during dangerous “street takeover” events is on DeSantis’ desk. DeSantis’ office announced Monday that he had received the measure (HB 399), which would make several changes to state statutes to more efficiently crack down on stunt driving activities that have grown in popularity across the country. Florida already prohibits such behavior, but current regulations require police to be on the scene to enforce the law.
“Jeff Brandes on insurance bill: ‘Too little, too late’” via Mark Parker of St. Pete Catalyst — Sen. Brandes believes the recently signed property insurance bill could mitigate many of Florida’s problems — if the Legislature passed it in 2019. Brandes, long a vocal proponent of property insurance reform, led the calls for a Special Session to address the issue in April after lawmakers failed to agree on a bill during the Regular Session in March. The term-limited state Senator got his wish as DeSantis reconvened the Legislature and signed a new bill May 26. The Governor called the bill “the most significant reforms to Florida’s homeowner’s insurance market in a generation” following the signing. However, many lawmakers from both sides of the aisle feel the legislation did not do enough to protect companies or lower premium costs.
“Report: 1 in 5 Florida corporations paid no income tax on 2020 revenue” via Jason Delgado of the USA Today Network — One in five of the wealthiest corporations in Florida paid zero corporate income tax in 2020, according to a report published Thursday by the Florida Policy Institute. The report is a damning indictment of Florida’s corporate income tax law and was released hours after DeSantis signed off on Florida’s “Freedom First Budget,” which Democratic lawmakers decried as a favor to corporations. The institute reported that 475 corporations — that earned over $50 million in 2020 — paid no corporate income tax, according to data acquired via a public record request from the state Department of Revenue.
“500,000 Floridians could lose health coverage without tax credits, study warns” via Christopher O’Donnell of the Tampa Bay Times — More than 500,000 Floridians could lose their health insurance if Congress fails to extend tax credits passed through the American Rescue Plan Act, a new report warns. The tax credits dramatically lowered premiums for millions of Florida families who obtained their health insurance through the Affordable Care Act this year. But those subsidies will expire at the end of this year as attempts by Congress to extend them have stalled. If lawmakers cannot reach an agreement, premiums could rise by 53% in 2023, forcing millions of Americans to go without health insurance. Florida would be one of the states hardest hit.
“SCOTUS decision lets Florida recover future Medicaid costs from injured patient’s settlement” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — Florida can recover money from a settlement award won by an injured Medicaid patient, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday. The 7-2 decision written by Justice Clarence Thomas ruled the federal Medicaid Act allows states to recover settlement awards for future medical expenses. Although the federal law prohibits states from placing a lien on a patient’s “property,” there is an exemption for settlements involving awards for medical expenses. Thomas refuted arguments that the exemption only applies to damages for past medical expenses, not future medical expenses.
“Student absences jump up this school year, prompting fears of further learning losses” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — Just after spring break, Lake County’s school superintendent used her weekly video message to issue a plea to parents: “It’s time for students to come back to school on time and on a regular basis,” Diane Kornegay said. At that point, 31% of her school district’s students had missed 10% or more of the school year, she said, a level of absenteeism that experts say puts children at risk academically. By February, district data showed that about 66,800 students in Orange County Public Schools, or nearly 34% of the district’s enrollment, had missed 18 days or more. About 20% of OCPS students missed 10% of the 2018-19 school year, the last full year before the pandemic. With absences high, hope dwindled that the 2021-22 school year would be a year of recovering from the “learning loss” wrought by the first year of the pandemic. Teachers and administrators focused on helping children catch up, but worried high absentee rates blunted the impact of that work.
— 2022 —
“‘Better than President Trump’: DeSantis’ clout swells in the West” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO — DeSantis is building momentum in the West, a region that’s home to a series of upcoming GOP primaries that will test Donald Trump’s hold on Republicans there. Over the weekend, DeSantis topped Trump in the annual Western Conservative Summit’s straw poll, with 71 percent of participants wanting the Florida governor to run for president in 2024 compared to 67 percent for Trump. The next closest was 28 percent for Sen. Ted Cruz. … It was the second year in a row DeSantis bested the former president at the summit, an annual gathering of around 2,000 party activities just outside of Denver.
“Crist asks federal government to safeguard Florida’s voting rights” via Romy Ellenbogen of the Tampa Bay Times — U.S. Rep. Crist on Friday sent a letter to the U.S. Attorney General asking for the resources of the Department of Justice to help ensure Floridians’ voting rights are protected in the upcoming elections. In the letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland, Crist wrote that Florida’s laws have disenfranchised citizens and created a “hostility” around the constitutional right to vote. “America has come a long way from poll taxes, literacy tests, and open intimidation and suppression of minority groups,” Crist said. “But in the Sunshine State, what were whispers of Jim Crow-era voter suppression have become a foreboding roar.”
“Nikki Fried asks feds to monitor Florida election activities” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Charging DeSantis and Republican leaders are attempting to “circumvent or override democratic norms,” Fried is asking the federal government to watch Florida’s election activities. In a letter she sent Monday to Kristen Clarke, Assistant U.S. Attorney General for Civil Rights, Fried called for the Department of Justice to closely monitor election-related actions of Florida officials and “take appropriate federal action if necessary.” In doing so, Fried voiced a preemptive concern for the integrity of the General Election, which may have her contesting DeSantis.
“Pro-Marco Rubio Super PAC makes Tampa ad buy” via Gary Fineout of POLITICO — The first major ad in the U.S. Senate race starts airing Tuesday in the Tampa Bay market. Florida First Project, a super PAC that backed Sen. Marco Rubio in 2016 and had been relatively quiet since, is spending $1.5 million to slam his opponent with a broadcast and cable buy, according to data assembled by AdImpact, a media tracking firm. The ad hammers Democratic Rep. Val Demings as an acolyte of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who votes for bills backed by House Democratic leaders.
“Val Demings has a strong law enforcement background, but Marco Rubio’s getting law-and-order endorsements” via Issac Morgan of Florida Phoenix — As U.S. Sen. Rubio seeks re-election in November, the Florida Republican has been racking up endorsements from dozens of sheriffs and law enforcement groups. Yet U.S. Rep. Demings has an extensive background in the law-and-order field but, as of yet, no official endorsements. Whether Demings can capture law enforcement support will be pivotal, requiring endorsements from Sheriffs and law enforcement personnel in heavily Democratic counties, including Broward and Orange, where Demings was appointed the first female Orlando police chief in 2007. Meanwhile, Rubio’s endorsements are primarily from Republican sheriffs across the state, from big counties such as Duval to Pinellas and Hillsborough, albeit many of the Republican sheriffs endorsed also are from smaller counties with small voter registration figures, elections data show.
“Maxwell Frost’s CD 10 campaign picks up nods from Carlos Guillermo Smith, Amy Mercado” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The endorsements from two of Orlando’s leading progressive Democrats continues momentum for Frost’s campaign, which started 10 months ago as an apparent longshot by a young activist in a district that had drawn higher-profile, establishment Democrats. Smith is a three-term Democratic state Representative from Orlando Mercado is in her first term as Property Appraiser after serving two terms as a Democratic state Representative from Orlando. Both are former chairs of the Orange County Democratic Party, and they cofounded the Legislative Progressive Caucus.
“Ted Yoho endorses James Judge’s CD 14 campaign” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Former U.S. Rep. Yoho endorsed Judge’s campaign to unseat Democratic U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor. He cited professional connections with Judge in the medical field. “Being a veterinarian by trade, I had the opportunity to meet James in 2016 when his company was unveiling a new, lifelike, detailed surgical trainer developed through a private sector partnership with the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine,” Yoho said. Judge filed in January to challenge Castor and quickly established himself as a solid fundraiser.
First on #FlaPol — “Dennis Ross drops out of CD 15 race” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Former U.S. Rep. Ross bowed out of a race to return to Congress. “After much thought, deliberation and prayer, I have decided to withdraw my candidacy,” Ross said. “I firmly believe that I am the most qualified candidate in this eight-person race, and I had been looking forward to running a very positive, issue-oriented campaign. However, with limited resources and a crowded field of candidates, I have decided to discontinue my efforts.” The move came months after Ross said he wanted to return to Washington. A new congressional map designed by DeSantis appeared to spur on his determination, with an open Florida’s 15th Congressional District covering a significant portion of land Ross represented during his last stint in Congress.
For your radar — “Why Georgia’s turnout numbers don’t tell us enough about the effect of restrictive voting laws” via Alex Samuels of FiveThirtyEight — Early turnout in Georgia’s primary election set a record in the state for a midterm election. As a result, some election observers and Republican officials are now dismissing the idea that restrictive voting laws will curtail voting, as Georgia has one of the most stringent laws on the books. But higher turnout doesn’t mean Georgia’s law didn’t have an effect. We know that research has found strict voting laws can backfire and make people more determined to cast a ballot. In other words, it’s possible that depressed turnout was avoided in Georgia only because campaigns and voting-rights groups spent a ton of resources to help people navigate the restrictions. But if Georgia’s restrictive voting law hadn’t passed, those resources could have been used elsewhere.
— MORE 2022 —
“George Gainer to forgo Senate re-election in SD 2” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — After six years in the Florida Senate, Sen. Gainer won’t seek re-election to Senate District 2. The Panama City Republican, who was first elected to the Senate in 2016, plans to announce his decision on Panama City’s WMBB TV station, partially citing health reasons. His retirement will bring to a close a public service career that spanned seven decades. Gainer will turn 80 in August, three days ahead of his would-be Primary Election date. He also missed much of the first part of the 2022 Legislative Session for back surgery. He said that four more years would’ve been too much for him physically.
>>>It’s widely expected that House Appropriations Chairman Jay Trumbull will announce as early as today that he’s running for Gainer’s seat.
— Jimmy Patronis (@JimmyPatronis) June 6, 2022
This helps in a tough primary — “Florida Planned Parenthood endorses Lauren Book in SD 35” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The Florida Planned Parenthood PAC is endorsing Senate Democratic Leader Book as she faces a Primary challenge in the SD 35 contest. The endorsement by Florida Planned Parenthood follows a March endorsement from Ruth’s List Florida, an organization that backs Democratic women candidates who support abortion rights. “In her efforts to stop Florida’s abortion ban from passing, Sen. Book displayed courage and commitment rarely seen in the political process,” said Laura Goodhue, director of the Florida Planned Parenthood PAC, announcing the group’s endorsement. Former Broward County Commissioner Barbara Sharief has decided to mount a Primary challenge against Book, despite Book’s position as the leader of the Senate Democrats.
“Reports show Alex Newman illegally started fundraising weeks before filing in HD 28” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — According to a campaign finance report from Newman’s campaign, the Ormond Beach Republican collected his first check on March 18. It violates state elections law for individuals to raise money for a campaign before filing forms with the Division of Elections. In total, Newman reported raising $10,610 across 65 checks. Of that, 24 checks totaling $3,875 were deposited before he filed paperwork with the Division of Elections. The report also shows a single expenditure on May 4 — one day before he filed for office. According to state law, spending money before filing the necessary paperwork to run for office is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
“Daisy Morales, Rita Harris roll out competing endorsements in HD 44” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Rep. Morales and challenger Harris rolled out several more endorsements each in their battle for the Democratic Primary Election in the new House District 44 in Orange County. Seeking a second term, Morales announced endorsements from Democratic Rep. Kristen Arrington from neighboring House District 46 and Democratic Rep. Susan Valdés of Tampa. Harris countered with her endorsements from Orange County School Board member Karen Castor Dentel and a former state Representative; Democratic congressional candidate Maxwell Frost, among others.
“Paul Renner endorses Josie Tomkow for HD 51” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — House Speaker-designate Renner on Monday endorsed Rep. Tomkow in the Republican Primary for HD 51. “Josie Tomkow is a strong defender of freedom that understands that our small businesses, agriculture, and family values are the fabric of freedom and opportunity in Florida,” Renner said. “Josie has fought to empower her community with access to 21st-century infrastructure and rural broadband to open new worlds of opportunity. She is a dynamic voice for Central Florida and Polk County, and I am proud to stand with her. I look forward to welcoming her back to Tallahassee and continuing the work she is doing for Florida.” Renner’s endorsement comes shortly after Davenport Republican Bill Olson ended his campaign in Florida’s 9th Congressional District and filed to run in HD 51, setting up a one-on-one Republican Primary.
Renner backs Peggy Gossett-Seidman in HD 91 — Renner on Monday endorsed Gossett-Seidman in the Republican Primary for House District 91. “Peggy Gossett-Seidman will bring strong leadership to represent South Palm Beach County,” Renner said. “Her experience as a Town of Highland Beach Commissioner and civic leader will bring a unique perspective to Tallahassee. I look forward to working alongside Peggy in the Florida House.” HD 91 covers part of Palm Beach County. Gossett-Seidman faces Christina DuCasse in the Republican Primary. Andy Thompson is currently unopposed for the Democratic nomination.
“Audrey Gibson to enter Jax mayoral race Tuesday” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Sen. Gibson told Florida Politics Monday evening that she will enter the Jacksonville mayoral race Tuesday, a decision she has telegraphed for months. A former leader of Senate Democrats, Gibson will be the second Democrat in the race, joining former newscaster Donna Deegan. Gibson will enter the race at a cash disadvantage to Deegan, who had roughly $400,000 on hand at the end of April. May numbers are due this week for Deegan and all other candidates. The real money in the race is on the GOP side of the ledger. City Council member LeAnna Gutierrez Cumber raised over $200,000 in April between her campaign account and her JAX First political committee. Cumber has raised more than $2.5 million between the two accounts.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Inflation, political division put U.S. in a pessimistic mood, poll finds” via Janet Adamy of The Wall Street Journal — Americans are deeply pessimistic about the U.S. economy and view the nation as sharply divided over its most important values. The findings are from a Journal survey that found Americans in a sour mood and registering some of the highest levels of economic dissatisfaction in years. The pessimism extended beyond the current economy to include doubts about the nation’s political system, its role as a global leader, and its ability to help most people achieve the American dream. Some 83% of respondents described the state of the economy as poor or not so good. More than one-third, or 35%, said they aren’t satisfied with their financial situation.
“Biden wants to get out more, seething that his standing is now worse than Donald Trump’s” via Jonathan Lemire of POLITICO — Biden and his aides have grown increasingly frustrated by their inability to turn the tide against a cascade of challenges threatening to overwhelm the administration. Soaring global inflation. Rising fuel prices. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. A Supreme Court poised to take away a constitutional right. A potentially resurgent pandemic. A Congress too deadlocked to tackle sweeping gun safety legislation even amid an onslaught of mass shootings.
“Biden taps brakes on solar tariffs, moves to boost clean energy” via Ellyn Ferguson of Roll Call — The White House announced a two-prong approach to clean energy Monday that senior administration officials said will keep the President’s “Made in America” agenda moving forward and delay for 24 months any new tariffs on imported solar components under scrutiny by the Commerce Department. The White House said it isn’t compromising the integrity of the Commerce Department’s case but is seeking to provide “stability and savings” to energy markets while the investigation continues. The two actions will keep the solar industry on track to have generating capacity of 22.5 gigawatts of electricity by 2024, up from 7.5 gigawatts at the start of the Biden administration.
“Biden decision on student-loan forgiveness unlikely until later in summer, officials say” via Andrew Restuccia and Gabriel T. Rubin of The Wall Street Journal — Officials said Biden is likely to announce his plans in July or August, closer to when the pandemic-related pause in federal student loan payments is scheduled to lapse, as the President and his senior advisers continue to weigh the political and economic fallout of any such move. The Biden administration earlier this year extended the pause, which has been in effect since March 2020, until Sept. 1. Biden has long been skeptical of using his executive authority to wipe away student loan debt. Officials said he remains concerned about the possible effects of the move on record inflation, cautious about doing anything that could be perceived as contributing to high prices.
“The Biden administration excludes Cuba from the Summit of the Americas” via Nora Gámez Torres of the Miami Herald — The Biden administration finally confirmed it did not invite the authoritarian governments of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua to participate at the Ninth Summit of the Americas that starts Monday in Los Angeles over concerns about human rights in those countries. “The U.S. continues to maintain reservations regarding the lack of democratic space and the human rights situations in Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela,” a senior administration official said. “As a result, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela will not be invited to participate in this Summit.” As the host of the Summit, the U.S. had broad discretion over the invites. But the administration engaged “in broad and candid” discussions over the guest list with other countries because it values “the diversity of views of our regional neighbors,” the official said.
“Trump on the brink?” via Jonathan Allen of NBC News — Trump is bored at Mar-a-Lago and anxious to get back in the political arena, as a candidate, not a kingmaker, according to his advisers. While many Trump confidants believe he should wait until after November’s midterm elections and caution that he has not yet made a final decision about running, some say he could move more quickly to harness supporters and deny fuel to the busload of GOP hopefuls in his rearview mirror. One adviser, who believes Trump should pause until the more traditional post-midterm period, said the former President, famous for his lack of impulse control, is likely to jump in “sooner rather than later.”
“Proud Boys charged with sedition in Capitol attack” via Alan Feuer and Adam Goldman of The New York Times — Tarrio, the former chair of the Proud Boys, and four other members of the far-right group were indicted on Monday for seditious conspiracy in connection with the storming of the Capitol in January 2021, the most serious criminal charges to be brought in the Justice Department’s sprawling investigation of the assault. The sedition charges against Tarrio and his co-defendants — Joseph Biggs, Ethan Nordean, Zachary Rehl and Dominic Pezzola — came in an amended indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court in Washington. The men had already been charged in an earlier indictment filed in March with conspiring to obstruct certification of the 2020 Presidential Election. It was not immediately clear what evidence led to the new charges.
— MORE LOCAL: S. FL —
“Defense asks judge to withdraw from Parkland case. Judge denies the motion” via Rafael Olmeda of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — The Parkland mass shooting trial became the scene of a tense standoff Monday, pitting the defense, missing a critical team member due to COVID-19, against a Broward judge who has grown openly tired of delays that have pushed jury selection into its third month. On Monday, defense lawyers asked Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer to disqualify herself from the case against confessed school shooter Nikolas Cruz after the judge ordered jury selection to resume even though the defense is missing one of its attorneys. The attorney, Casey Secor, was brought in specifically to assist the team at this stage of the proceedings. Scherer denied the motion, but that came after the defense threatened to withdraw from the case.
“‘A doer’: Anthony Rodriguez endorses Kevin Marino Cabrera for Miami-Dade County Commission” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Rep. Rodriguez just endorsed government relations specialist Cabrera for the Miami-Dade County Commission. Rodriguez, a two-term state Representative, is now running for the District 10 seat on County Commission. On Monday, he said he’d ideally like to serve alongside Cabrera, a fellow Republican running for the seat representing District 6. “Kevin is a doer and will get things done for District 6 residents,” he said. “His unique blend of public and private sector experience will serve our community well. I look forward to working with Kevin on the critical issues facing residents — housing affordability, the cost of living, and strengthening our local economy.”
“Did South Florida really see 15 inches of rain? Here’s how much fell in your community” via Michelle Marchante of the Miami Herald — If you live in Miami, your social media over the weekend was likely inundated with pictures and videos of a flooded South Florida. Cars stuck, and drivers stranded in downtown Miami and Brickell. Paddleboarders and kayakers taking to the streets for some water fun. And a surfing dog having a “Cowabunga” moment in Fort Lauderdale. All of this is thanks to a disturbance that is now soon-to-be-gone Tropical Storm Alex. But how much rain did Miami-Dade and Broward actually see this weekend? In Miami, the National Weather Service says the two counties saw 8 to 10 inches of rain, with some isolated areas seeing 11 to 15 inches.
“Wilson Scholars vow to go to college and shatter stereotypes at ’5000 Role Model’ ceremony” via Omar Rodríguez Ortiz of the Miami Herald — Over 100 young men of color from South Florida pledged Sunday afternoon at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts that they will transcend disadvantaged circumstances growing up by going to college — using higher education as a vehicle to greater social mobility and attaining economic prosperity. The teens donned black suits, white shirts and bright red ties, making their vows on stage as family members and community leaders cheered. Among the people present were U.S. Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Vice Chair Oliver Gilbert, and Miami-Dade County Public Schools Board Vice Chair Steve Gallon. The pledge is the last step of the 5,000 Role Models of Excellence Project.
— MORE LOCAL: C. FL —
“As Orlando-area COVID-19 hospitalizations climb, CDC urges masks to preserve resources” via Caroline Catherman of the Orlando Sentinel — The CDC has sounded the alarm about potential hospital strain in Central Florida. COVID-19 cases have increased throughout the state and region for months — and now, hospitalization rates are high enough that the current COVID-19 wave could threaten resources in most Central Florida counties if efforts to curb the spread aren’t taken, the CDC says. According to University of South Florida epidemiologist Jason Salemi, the increase may be due to waning immunity against reinfection, new highly infectious omicron subvariants, relaxed mitigation measures, and more indoor gatherings. Salemi said that hospitalizations likely wouldn’t return to their omicron or delta surge peaks because immunity against severe infection doesn’t fade as quickly as immunity against reinfection. But hospitalizations will still rise more if people don’t start taking precautions.
“Wilton Simpson gives John Legg stamp of approval for Pasco County Superintendent” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Florida Senate President Simpson has joined Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano in endorsing former Sen. Legg for Pasco County Superintendent. The pair announced their respective endorsements Monday, shortly after Legg announced his campaign Friday. “I’m proud to endorse John Legg because he has a servant’s heart and has spent his life committed to improving outcomes in the classroom. I know he will bring his knowledge of our education system to the position of Superintendent to make Pasco County school system the best in the state,” Simpson said in a statement. Both Simpson and Fasano carry weight in Pasco County, each with deep ties to the area, Fasano served for a long time as a lawmaker before running for Tax Collector, and Simpson has worked in the state Senate for a decade.
“2-year-old fatally shot dad after finding ‘easily accessible’ gun, Orange Sheriff says” via Lisa Maria Garza of the Orlando Sentinel — A 2-year-old boy shot and killed his father with an improperly stored gun at their east Orange County home last month, Sheriff John Mina said Monday, leading to manslaughter and other charges against the child’s mother. “I can’t emphasize strongly enough that our guns need to be secure and kept out of the hands and away from children at all times,” Mina said at a news conference. “Gun owners that do not properly secure their firearms are just one split second away from one of these tragedies happening in their homes.” Mina said the boy’s 26-year-old father, Reggie Mabry, was found wounded about noon on May 26.
“Brevard Public Schools and teachers’ union pay talks snag over health insurance hikes” via Bailey Gallion of Florida Today — Contract negotiations between the Brevard Federation of Teachers and Brevard Public Schools advanced little last week as pay raises continued to be a point of contention between both sides. Karyle Green, a chief negotiator for BPS, said the district had $12.9 million to distribute in recurring funds, but only a little over $2.5 million was available, she said, to distribute in permanent raises. The majority of the money, he said, was needed elsewhere but offered no specifics. The union has insisted that its members will not accept a contract without substantial recurring pay raises. “We’re in the position where the boss needs us more than we need the boss,” Brevard Federation of Teachers President Anthony Colucci said as negotiations resumed Thursday morning.
“United Way Suncoast aims to tackle poverty with new $18 million commitment” via Lauren Peace of the Tampa Bay Times — The United Way Suncoast announced a new way of funding local nonprofit programs to help its partners create more sustainable programs. Over three years, the organization will distribute $18 million to more than 100 nonprofit programs that work to clear educational and financial barriers for low-income families. The multiyear grants differ from the United Way’s past distribution model, which required nonprofits to apply annually to receive program funding. Multiyear funding aims to reduce the strain on time and resources for both United Way staff and community partners who previously had to go through the rigorous application process each year.
“NASA’s moon rocket is back on its launchpad for another wet dress rehearsal attempt” via Jamie Groh of Florida Today — NASA teams at Kennedy Space Center worked through the night Sunday into Monday morning to deliver the agency’s massive Space Launch System rocket to its launchpad. The moon rocket has spent the last month undergoing repairs inside the Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center after a problem-plagued monthlong testing campaign and three attempts to fill the 322-foot rocket’s core stage with liquid propellants during its critical “wet dress rehearsal.” It took teams about eight hours to move the rocket about 4 miles from the VAB to Launch Complex 39B arriving at 8:20 a.m. Monday.
“Disney, Brand USA launch campaign to lure overseas visitors” via Katie Rice of the Orlando Sentinel — Seeking to draw more international tourists, Walt Disney World is partnering with a national travel organization to be featured in its global marketing campaign. Brand USA, a national public-private partnership that markets U.S. travel destinations abroad, is spotlighting Disney World in the most recent installment of its United Stories campaign. United Stories, which started in 2019, highlights national landmarks and smaller destinations. Christopher Thompson, Brand USA president and CEO, announced the campaign Monday at the U.S. Travel Association’s IPW conference in Orlando, premiering a commercial that would be used to advertise the resort overseas.
— MORE LOCAL: SW. FL —
“Front that became TS Alex sets new June 4 rain record for Naples, drenches Lee” via Chad Gillis of the Fort Myers News-Press — A tropical disturbance flooded some areas of Southwest Florida over the weekend, bringing record rains to Naples and double-digit totals to other communities. The disturbance that became Tropical Storm Alex began to pound this coast with rain on Friday, dropping a foot or more in isolated areas. Coastal beach communities in Lee County posted the highest precipitation tallies. “Captiva, Sanibel and Pine Island received the most rain at about 8 inches,” said Dan Noah, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Ruskin, covering the Cape Coral-Fort Myers area. “There was definitely potential for record rain somewhere, but not at the climate observation station in Fort Myers.”
— LOCAL NOTES: N. FL —
“DeSantis appoints Undersheriff Pat Ivey as Jacksonville Sheriff, endorses T.K. Waters” via Katherine Lewin of The Florida Times-Union — DeSantis said Monday morning that he would appoint Undersheriff Ivey as Sheriff of Jacksonville on Friday after Sheriff Mike Williams retires. DeSantis also announced his endorsement for Waters, chief of investigations for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, at a news conference in Jacksonville. Williams said he would retire after reporting from The Tributary revealed that the Sheriff had moved out of Duval County to Nassau County last year, violating the city charter, which requires a sheriff to live within county lines. Williams stepping down before the end of his term as Sheriff now means that City Council will schedule a Special Election for Aug. 23 and, if needed, a runoff election on Nov. 8.
“Special election dates set for August and November to pick next Jacksonville sheriff” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — Duval County voters will elect a replacement sheriff in the upcoming August and November elections in a highly unusual contest forced by the early departure of Sheriff Mike Williams because he moved his residency to Nassau County. Jacksonville City Council voted Monday to set the election dates during a whirlwind day that also saw DeSantis tap Ivey as his pick to serve as acting Sheriff until voters decide. Ivey is not among the candidates running for Sheriff.
“Department of Corrections to pay out $1M in wrongful termination case” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — The Department of Corrections (DOC) will have to pay a former employee $1 million in a wrongful termination case, a federal judge ruled last week. Tallahassee woman Celena Grant, a near-10-year veteran of DOC who worked as a human resources manager, was fired in 2018 after she reported what she called a pattern of race-based pay discrimination at DOC. A federal jury in the Northern District of Florida found that DOC terminated her in retaliation for filing the complaint last year. The jury found the state owed her $1 million for wrongful termination. More than eight months later, on Tuesday, Judge Mark Walker in the Northern District of Florida detailed the award: $300,000 for lost wages and $700,000 for emotional pain, as the jury had ruled, and nearly $53,000 in front pay.
“DeSantis vetoed $10.2M in Escambia and Santa Rosa projects.” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — Escambia and Santa Rosa counties weren’t spared from DeSantis’ veto pen Thursday when the Governor signed the $109.9 billion state budget and vetoed $3.1 billion in projects. DeSantis’ veto pen struck $10.2 million from projects in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties, with both counties losing five projects each and one project that would’ve gone to both counties. “We’re making sure we’re protecting your money,” DeSantis said during a news conference Thursday.
“Baker Fire Chief Brian Easterling charged with murder of Pensacola shop owner” via Benjamin Johnson of the Pensacola News Journal — A 63-year-old business owner was found dead Sunday after Escambia County Sheriff’s Office deputies were called to the shop on Creighton Road. According to ECSO, the shop’s surveillance video shows Baker Fire Chief Easterling entering the business and shooting the 63-year-old over a “dispute about prior business deals.” The victim allegedly owed Easterling money. Easterling is charged with first-degree premeditated murder. Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office deputies located Easterling in his home in Holt, and he is awaiting extradition to Escambia County.
“Campus tragedy: New details in UF student’s hit-and-run death as driver to be sentenced to prison this week” via Fresh Take Florida — In the chill December night, in the earliest moments into the criminal investigation of a hit-and-run of a young University of Florida student who died crossing one of the busiest streets bordering campus, officers seemed perplexed trying to reconstruct the tragedy. How could this possibly have happened? As the investigation unfolded, witnesses and the detritus from the last night of Maggie Paxton’s life in college proved insightful. Her phone and wallet, including a fake ID and a slice of pizza she was carrying on a paper plate, were in the middle of the intersection at what police concluded was the point of impact. It was too far from any crosswalks and steps away from the most popular bars and restaurants near campus.
Happening today — The Florida Public Service Commission meets to discuss electric, water and wastewater utilities, 9:30 a.m., Betty Easley Conference Center, 4075 Esplanade Way, Tallahassee.
“Army Corps blocks mine near Okefenokee, cites failure to consult Muscogee Creek Nation” via Marisa Mecke of the Savannah Morning News — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Friday it has reversed its decision to allow mining near the Okefenokee. The decision came after a request from Georgia Sen. Jon Ossoff to restore federal protections of the wetlands in the country’s largest blackwater swamp due to its cultural and historical importance to the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. Alabama-based Twin Pines Minerals submitted applications in late 2020 for multiple permits from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division to mine titanium dioxide, often used in whitening products, as well as other heavy minerals on more than 500 acres of ancient beach dunes called Trail Ridge in Charlton County. The dunes, which border the swamp and help contain it, are within 3 miles of the Okefenokee National Refuge, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service property.
— TOP OPINION —
“I’m a Republican who represented Uvalde in Congress. I want more than thoughts and prayers.” via Will Hurd for The New York Times — There is not one piece of legislation that can prevent all mass shootings, but there are many things that we can do to save lives.
I believe in the plain language of the Second Amendment. In Congress, I had an A rating with the National Rifle Association, and they supported my re-election campaigns. But while in Congress, I also met and learned from organizations like Everytown and Moms Demand Action, and was one of just eight Republicans to vote in favor of H.R. 8 — a bill requiring universal background checks. I also believe it’s ridiculous that any attempt to reform laws to keep lethal firearms out of irresponsible hands is met with outrage and stonewalling.
Removing access to guns won’t stop this epidemic, but as the tragedy in Uvalde proved, neither would a myopic and unyielding obsession with putting more guns into our schools. Any effective solution for mass shootings will require a multifaceted approach.
We also must be prepared if our attempts are unsuccessful — and that means preventing potential mass shooters from getting access to weapons and victims. There is no single, simple policy fix. But there are multiple partial solutions that, together, can save lives.
— OPINIONS —
“With budget vetoes, DeSantis bites the hand that feeds him” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — The Villages was where Gov. DeSantis went to sign the new $110 billion Florida budget, and he didn’t disappoint the many retired Trump acolytes there who applauded every time he bashed Biden. This wasn’t a budget signing. It was a presidential campaign speech. The Governor spoke without interruption for more than a half-hour. But he didn’t have time to mention Biden’s role in providing billions in federal money that makes possible the largest budget in state history as he displayed his trademark flair for expediency over explication.
“A veto and DeSantis’ naked betrayal of Tampa Bay” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — DeSantis’ veto of a new marine science hub at the University of South Florida in St. Petersburg is a betrayal to Tampa Bay and a travesty for all Floridians. It’s bad enough DeSantis put his presidential ambitions ahead of his obligation to protect 22 million people in this coastal state. But watching him gloat Thursday over this foolish, self-serving move was simply grotesque. The Legislature budgeted $75 million this year to enable USF to build its planned Center of Excellence in Environmental and Oceanographic Sciences. The $80 million facility would have been located on USF’s St. Petersburg campus and built on the world-class reputation of its College of Marine Science to serve as a research and education hub on issues related to the environment, oceanography and sustainability.
“New condo safety law reflects well on lawmakers” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — It was the rarest of moments in Florida: The Legislature did something that almost certainly will improve life in this state. We refer to the condominium safety bill (SB 4D) that lawmakers passed unanimously and was signed into law by DeSantis. Property insurance got top billing, but legislative leaders added this late as unfinished business from the Regular Session. Sheer numbers explain why this bill is so important — and how broad its reach will be. According to the Senate staff analysis, Florida has 1.53 million condo units. Roughly 2 million people live in condos at least 30 years old. Nearly 600,000 units are at least 40 years old. It’s not just better than nothing; it’s something good for a change.
“Will new ownership change the conservative bent of Miami’s famed ‘Cuban radio’ market? Maybe” via the Miami Herald editorial board — Radio Mambi is one of the 18 AM and FM stations being sold by the TelevisaUnivision network and the media group, purchasing the stations in Miami, New York, Los Angeles and Las Vegas, is the newly formed Latino Media Network. It’s commendable that the investors say they want to keep the stations in Latino hands, but there’s something different this time. The long list of investors is mainly made up of Democrats. In this current political atmosphere, many Spanish-language stations are being called out for their lack of accountability, accused of spreading disinformation that plays right into conservative ideology, largely by Democrats. And therein lies the challenge to the new owners, finding their audience. That, and keeping their side of the story fact-based and credible themselves.
— ALOE —
“Florida unveils 12 new specialty license plates to benefit HBCUs, environment and veterans” via Jason Delgado of the USA Today Network — Florida announced the addition of 12 new specialty license plates, including some recognizing a collective of historically Black sororities and fraternities known as the Divine Nine. The majority of the newly released plates celebrate the collective of historically Black Greek organizations. The new additions are among the more than 100 specialty license plates available to Florida motorists. Revenue generated by specialty plate sales provides millions of dollars each year toward special causes and organizations.
“Crestview bugler performs Taps in ‘Top Gun: Maverick,’ recounts experience on set” via Tony Judnich of the Northwest Florida Daily News — About one hour and 17 minutes into the new blockbuster movie “Top Gun: Maverick,” Crestview High School alum and Marine Corps trumpeter Sgt. Jake Anderson is shown playing the mournful military bugle call, Taps. Filmed in 2019 at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery near San Diego, Anderson’s brief but memorable appearance in the action-drama movie is shown after the character named “Maverick,” played by Tom Cruise, pounds a naval wings pin into the casket during a military funeral.
“Florida State softball coach Lonni Alameda agrees to new contract extension” via Curt Weiler of The Tallahassee Democrat — Despite receiving heavy interest from Texas A&M, Florida State softball coach Alameda will be staying with the Seminoles. Alameda has agreed to a new contract extension after signing a seven-year extension last July, FSU announced in a news release Monday. Last year, Alameda signed a seven-year extension that promised $4.55 million in guaranteed money over the length of the contract plus potential performance bonuses. This next extension announced Monday tacks one more year onto the deal, making it an eight-year deal that extends through the 2029 season. That eighth year is tacked on at $460,000 in base salary plus $150,000 in retention and longevity bonuses.
“Fact or fiction? Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom kitty cast members” via Amanda Kondolojy of the Orlando Sentinel — If you’ve seen a cat dashing across your path at Walt Disney World, you’re certainly not alone. After all, the Pet Alliance of Central Florida estimates there are nearly 87,000 feral (or community) cats in Central Florida, and with such big numbers, it’s no surprise a few guests have seen feline intruders crawling around Mission: Space and hanging out at Disney Springs. With so many sightings, some people have wondered if any of these cats could be permanent residents at Walt Disney World’s flagship Magic Kingdom park as part of a roving troop of feline cast members tasked with keeping the resort free of rodents and other pests.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Celebrating today are Sen. Jason Brodeur, Thomas Grigsby, and Nancy Stephens.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel Dean, Renzo Downey, Jacob Ogles, and Drew Wilson.