Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 6.14.22

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Coffee is for closers. So is Sunburn, your morning rundown of Florida politics.

Good Tuesday morning.

I’ve been back stateside for 48 hours and, man, it’s good to be home. Thank you to each and all of you who reached out to check on me and, more importantly, to see if there was anything needed to help Michelle and Ella Joyce.

If there was an upside to being sick, it gave me more time to write, a situation I took advantage of the past few days. Here are four items that I recently wrote about:

🚨🗳🚨 — There’s a new chapter in the Amendment 4 saga. One of the 10 Alachua County felons arrested for “voter fraud” was sentenced to three years in prison for registering to vote, likely without knowing he did anything wrong. Meanwhile, The Villages residents who double-dipped at the ballot box got off with community service. Sounds about right.

👻🏚👻 — Someone call Zack Bagans because it looks like SD 5 is haunted. Or it seems like it has a ghost candidate, at least. Republican Binod Kumar has signed up to run in the solid blue seat, where Rep. Tracie Davis and Jacksonville City Council Member Reggie Gaffney are barreling toward a winner-take-all Democratic Primary. Kumar can’t win, of course, but if he qualifies, he could disenfranchise half the district.

🤦👬🤦 — The new election police force might need to make a trip to Manatee County, where it seems Republican County Commission candidate Jason Bearden has recruited two of his buddies to enter the same race, essentially closing the primary against his Republican incumbent opponent. The kicker: He’s a QAnon supporting Big Lie peddler. The cherry on top: He’s posing for photos with the shill candidates, White-guy-thumbs-up pose and all.

🙉💵🙊 — The Tampa Bay Times ran a glowing profile of wealthy investor Darryl Shaw last week, covering everything from his role in building a successful veterinary emergency and specialty hospital chain to his upbringing in apartheid-era South Africa … but not the $1.5 million check he cut to keep the Times afloat. Hopefully, the piece counts as their June payment.

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Here are some first-in-Sunburn personnel notes:

AARP Florida announced Tuesday that it has promoted Zayne Smith to Director of Advocacy and added Karen Murillo to its advocacy team.

Smith is an experienced policy advocate with roots in Texas and policy experience at the state and national levels. She leads AARP Florida’s work on long-term care, prescription drugs, health care, utilities, guardianship, state budget and transportation issues.

In her new role, Smith will oversee a team of five staff throughout the state and is charged with directing AARP advocacy efforts and strategy on a wide range of issues, including long-term care.

Congratulations to Zayne Smith for moving up the ladder at AARP-FL.

Murillo is a former Assistant Statewide Prosecutor and Senior Protection Team Coordinator for the Florida Attorney General’s Office, which recruited her due to her expertise and passion for prosecuting and preventing crimes targeting vulnerable adults and seniors across the state.

She will serve as Advocacy Manager in AARP Florida’s Tallahassee office.

“Floridians 50+ are facing some of the most critical challenges in life, including affording retirement, finding quality care, access to affordable housing, caregiving, remaining independent as they age, and much more,” AARP Florida State Director Jeff Johnson said.

“The experience that Zayne and Karen bring to the table will ensure AARP Florida is well-positioned to advocate for Floridians who are facing these challenges and beyond.”

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Meanwhile, the Florida Retail Federation this week announced Jessica Hunter will join the team as director of Governmental Affairs.

“We are thrilled to have Jessica join the FRF team,” said Scott Shalley, president and CEO of FRF. “With her expertise in state policy and keen understanding of the legislative process, Jessica will play a key role in advocating on behalf of our diverse membership of retailers.”

Congrats to Jessica Hunter, the new big hire at FRF.

In her new role, Hunter will work alongside Grace Lovett, FRF’s vice president of Government Affairs, and Lorena Holley, FRF’s vice president and General Counsel, representing Florida retailers at the state Capitol.

Hunter previously served in the Florida Senate Majority Office under Majority Leader Debbie Mayfield. In this role, she analyzed policy, developed strategies to pass legislation, and briefed Senators and staff. Before that, Hunter worked as deputy legislative and cabinet affairs director at the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

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Americans for Prosperity-Florida has launched a direct mail campaign to thank lawmakers for passing property insurance reform during the recent Special Session.

The mailers are heading out to voters in the districts of lawmakers who voted in favor of the legislation, which AFP-FL described as a “top-priority insurance bill.”

“Property insurance reform is one of the most complex issues for Florida. We thank legislative leadership, bill sponsors Sen. Jim Boyd and Rep. Jay Trumbull, and the legislative body for their hard work,” said AFP-FL State Director Skylar Zander.

AFP-FL gives props where it’s due.

“We all understand these changes will help begin to tackle much-needed reforms within the property insurance market; however, it is a tremendous start for improvement. We look forward to continuing working with lawmakers to further benefit the Floridians of this great state.”

Example mail for Boyd and Trumbull say they championed legislation to “reform and improve insurance marketplace,” lower insurance costs, and “protect consumers from fraudulent actors in the insurance market.”

The reverse states the highlighted lawmaker is “fighting to reform and improve Florida’s insurance market” and urges voters to contact their lawmakers to thank them “for fighting for Floridians” and to ask them “to keep supporting these policies.”

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U.S. Sugar’s sustainable South Florida operations got the spotlight in last night’s episode of “How America Works with Mike Rowe.”

The episode featured five U.S. Sugar employees: production supervisor Jay Baez Jr., mill worker Leonard Sampson, roll welder Phillip Ford, assistant refinery manager of operations Billy Dyess and team leader Orlando Martinez.

Each has worked for U.S. Sugar for a decade or more — and some are members of families that have worked at the Clewiston-based company for generations.

Mike Rowe goes behind the scenes at U.S. Sugar.

Dyess, for instance, began his time at U.S. Sugar with his father, Fred Dyess Sr., who helped commission the refinery. And Sampson has been joined by his son during his time at U.S. Sugar.

Ahead of the episode’s Monday evening debut on Fox Business, some employees featured in the program were invited to a special advanced screening at the Clewiston Museum.

“While these five may be just a small representation of the people of U.S. Sugar, they show the dedication, enthusiasm, and stewardship our employees have for the communities where we live, work and raise our families,” the company said in a news release.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@Baseballot: For the first time in his presidency, Joe Biden’s average @FiveThirtyEight approval rating has fallen below 40%.

@ElieNYC: If I’m not mistaken, in 2 days of hearings, the Committee has only used REPUBLICAN or nonpartisan witnesses to make the case that: * (Donald) Trump lost the election * And launched a coup * Based on lies he told to the American people.

@HugoLowell: Jan. 6 committee establishes the Trump campaign was a complete grift — they raised $250 million after the election for the “Official Election Defense Fund,” which did not exist and the money instead went to Trump hotels and his own Save America PAC

@MickMulvaney: Trump’s inner circle at the end was … (Rudy) Giuliani, Sidney Powell, Lin Wood, Peter Navarro … Garbage in. Garbage out.

@ChrisCillizza: Rep. Zoe Lofgren makes a key point: Of the 62 cases Trump’s campaign brought following the 2020 election, they lost 61 of them. (And the one they won had no material effect on the outcome.)

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:

@HipHopLobbyist: This is quietly the most exciting week in politics (outside budget/veto week)

Tweet, tweet:

— DAYS UNTIL —

Pixar’s ‘Lightyear’ premieres — 3; ‘Civil: Ben Crump’ premieres on Netflix — 5; 2022 Florida Chamber Learners to Earners Workforce Solution Summit — 14; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 23; 36th Annual Environmental Permitting School — 35; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 39; Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner novel ‘Heat 2’ publishes — 57; FRLA’s Operations and Marketing Summit — 65; ‘House of the Dragon’ premieres on HBO — 68; 2022 Florida Chamber Technology & Innovation Solution Summit — 78; ‘Andor’ premieres on Disney+ — 78; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 80; NFL Opening Night: LA Rams vs. Buffalo Bills — 86; 2022 Emmys — 90; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 115; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 132; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 133; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 133; ‘Black Panther 2’ premieres — 149; FITCon 2022 begins — 156; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 156; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 160; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 160; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 161; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 169; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 169; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 183; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 247; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 265; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 283; 2023 Session Sine Die — 325; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 325; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 353; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 409; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 493; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 654; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 773.

—TOP STORY —

One-quarter of Legislature poised for election without opposition as qualifying starts” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — On Monday afternoon, there were 10 Senate candidates and 30 House candidates without opposition. If they don’t attract an opponent by the end of the week, they assume office after the November elections without having to campaign.

That list could grow (or shrink) by the end of the qualifying week — if last-minute candidates jump in races or if candidates who previously filed their intention to run drop out.

Will Kathleen Passidomo be re-elected by default? We will know by Friday.

There could be other complications as well. For instance, the only candidate who has filed an intent to run in House District 97 is Sunrise Democrat Lisa Ann-Marie Dunkley. Although she filed an intention to qualify by petition, the Division of Elections shows her as returning 437 petitions as of May 23, 162 short of the 599 needed to qualify by petition. She’ll have to pay the $1,781.82 fee by Friday to qualify in place of the petition method.

Future legislative leaders such as Senate President-Designate Kathleen Passidomo, a Naples Republican, Rep. Danny Perez, slated to become House Speaker in 2024, and Rep. Sam Garrison, poised to succeed Perez as Speaker in 2026, do not have opponents so far. Just as in the Legislature at large, Republicans significantly outnumber Democrats in running unopposed.

— STATEWIDE —

Gov. Ron DeSantis warns of SCOTUS ‘insurrection’ amid pro-choice protests” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — “They’re trying to change the outcome of decisions that they are concerned that they don’t like and that is totally antithetical to the rule of law” — referring to ShutDownDC protesters planning a “blockade” of the Supreme Court, ahead of a possible decision that could overturn Roe v. Wade. “That would be considered an insurrection: to stop a court from functioning, and yet they seem to be able to get away with a lot more than if the shoe were on the other foot,” DeSantis said. “I think that we have a rule of law in this country, and you don’t just get to have a mob descend on a Supreme Court Justice’s house or try to impede the operations of government because there may be a decision you don’t like.”

‘I am not going to let them cancel me’: DeSantis defiant against ‘parental rights’ backlash” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Dozens of pro-LGBTQ protesters picketed DeSantis’ speech in New York City Sunday, but DeSantis says he won’t be silenced. New York Democratic lawmakers and protesters unsuccessfully demanded organizers strip DeSantis’ speech from the agenda of this year’s Jewish Leadership Conference for recent actions and comments critics deem hateful to the LGBTQ community. “I am not going to let them cancel me, and so we spoke, and we were happy to do that,” DeSantis said. “After all, as the Governor of Florida, me of anyone should be able to speak in front of all these future Florida voters that are moving down to my state, so we weren’t going to let that deter us.” The Governor also joked that he was disappointed that there weren’t more protesters.

Ron DeSantis gets a not-so-warm New York welcome. He didn’t care. Image via New York Post.

Pride groups vow to sustain events after mass shooting, DeSantis’ drag show threats” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Palm Beach County pro-LGBTQ organizations are committing to continue hosting events despite a mass shooting threat and DeSantis exploring a crackdown on drag shows for kids. West Palm Beach’s “Pride on the Block” event was forced to change its plans last weekend after police say a 17-year-old in Canada threatened to commit a mass shooting at the event. Although the block party event canceled its planned drag show aimed at children because of the shooting threat, a drag show in Dallas the same weekend sparked an outcry over such drag shows, including from DeSantis. DeSantis wants to let “kids be kids” and grow up in a “normal environment” without having political agendas “shoved down their throats,” he continued.

Attention, Florida Girl Scouts: This is no time to be kind, considerate of others” via Frank Cerabino of The Palm Beach Post — The Girl Scouts in Florida have no idea what danger they’re in. “June is Pride Month and that means more than just a rainbow,” the Girl Scouts of Southeast Florida Facebook page announced. “It’s a celebration of the history, culture, and contributions of LGBTQIA+ people and their communities.” Oh, the poor innocents. “Your troop can learn about inclusivity, share what pride means to them, and read stories from people within the community.” I guess they haven’t been paying attention to DeSantis’ relentless effort to legislate hate and misinformation while silencing reason and compassion whenever they make an unauthorized appearance.

List of Florida Supreme Court nominees includes previous DeSantis pick” via Chris Hippensteel of the Tampa Bay Times — The panel responsible for nominating Florida’s Supreme Court justices submitted a list of six candidates to DeSantis for review on Monday, including a former DeSantis nominee widely viewed as a favorite for the appointment. The list, submitted by the Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission, winnowed down a field of 17 applicants competing for the seat Justice Alan Lawson plans to vacate on Aug. 31. Among the contenders is Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Renatha Francis, whom DeSantis planned to appoint in 2020 before the state Supreme Court ordered him to pick another candidate, as Francis had failed to meet a 10-year Bar membership requirement.

Happening today — Florida Department of Juvenile Justice Secretary Eric Hall, joined by Department of Economic Opportunity Secretary Dane Eagle and state Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo, will hold a news conference to announce a new mentoring and outreach initiative in support of Florida’s fathers, 11 a.m., Tallahassee.

Application period opens for lawmakers’ offseason project requests” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Not every lawmaker got the projects they wanted through the budget process and past DeSantis’ veto pen. But beginning Monday, lawmakers this summer will be able to leverage federal dollars to fund local needs that sprung up late in the budget cycle. Within the budget DeSantis approved earlier this month, the Legislature approved a Local Support Grants Program, effectively extending the appropriations project request period into the summer months. In a memo to House members on Monday, Speaker Chris Sprowls briefed members on how they can seek funding for the initiatives of local governments, education entities, and privately operated programs in their districts.

Assignment editors — Sen. Janet Cruz will hold a news conference to discuss SB 654, Protective Injunctions, allowing clerks of court across the state to transmit protective orders electronically to the Sheriff’s office securely, 10 a.m., State Attorney’s Office Auditorium, Third Floor, 419 N. Pierce St., Tampa. RSVP at [email protected].

Disturbance over Caribbean has 40% chance of development, National Hurricane Center says” via Robin Webb and Brett Clarkson of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Forecasters with the National Hurricane Center are monitoring an area of low pressure for potential development over the southwestern Caribbean Sea. According to an outlook issued Monday by the NHC, the low-pressure area could develop by midweek, and further development is possible. It is expected to move northwesterly off the coasts of Nicaragua and Honduras. NHC forecasters have given it a 40% chance of developing within the next five days.

— 2022 —

DeSantis swats away 2024 speculation yet again” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — The Governor was on the set of Fox and Friends, the morning after a high-profile speech in the Big Apple, where he again was asked if he would make his run for the White House in two years. As has become customary, DeSantis was coy about his intent, even after several attempts to get an answer. Asked where the idea sits in his mind, DeSantis quipped, “it just sits when people bring up my name,” pivoting quickly to 2022 races down-ballot in the state and the “huge opportunity” for a “really big red wave” that could make Florida a “red state.” DeSantis again was cheerily dismissive when the question recurred, referring to the redirected questions as “futile opportunities.” “The interesting thing about me is people will always inject my name into it, just based off what I’m doing in Florida.”

Annette Taddeo backs Charlie Crist in Democrats’ gubernatorial bid” via Bianca Padró Ocasio of the Miami Herald — “It should not be a surprise,” Taddeo said on her endorsement. “I really believe that us, as Democrats, we need to come together.” Before winning her Senate seat in a special election in 2016, she was Crist’s running mate in his bid for Governor in 2014 against Rick Scott, who was then the Republican incumbent. “I don’t think it’s so much about the issues; I think we all agree on the issues. I think it’s about who we can trust to do this best,” Taddeo said. “It’s not an easy race, we all know that. It’s going to take everything we’ve got.”

Carlos Guillermo Smith endorses Crist — Democratic Rep. Smith has endorsed Crist for Governor. “I trust Charlie Crist to lead our state forward and bring back decency to the Governor’s office. At Team Carlos, we put people over politics, are champions of equality and working people, and we stand up to special interests and corporations — and that’s exactly what Charlie stands for,” Smith said. “We need the best candidate on the ballot to unseat Gov. DeSantis and move Florida in the right direction. That’s why I’m urging all of my supporters to get behind Charlie, and why I’m proud to endorse him to be Florida’s next Governor.” Smith’s is the latest in a wave of endorsements for Crist, who recently announced support from Sen. Taddeo, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, state Rep. Anna Eskamani, Sierra Club Florida, and the Florida Education Association.

To watch the endorsement video, click on the image below:

Val Demings ad: ‘Defunding the police: That’s just crazy’” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Rep. Demings’ U.S. Senate campaign is launching a statewide TV commercial pushing her law enforcement background and seeking to defuse attempts to tie her to the 2020 “defund the police” messages pushed by some liberal Democrats. “In the Senate, I’ll protect Florida from bad ideas,” Demings says in the new 30-second TV spot. “Defunding the police: That’s just crazy.” Demings’ 27 years as an Orlando police officer, culminating as the department’s first woman Police Chief, and her support for police have made up a cornerstone of her Senate campaign, which often refers to her as “Chief Demings” instead of “Rep. Demings.”

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

Marco Rubio embraces his low-key side” via Burgess Everett of POLITICO — As he pursues a third term in a Senate that he nearly quit altogether in 2016, Rubio’s staying away from the chamber’s bipartisan gangs and the front lines of the 2024 presidential race. Instead, Rubio is quietly focused on lower-profile issues that range from slave labor in China to stopping the United States from changing its clocks twice a year, even as he remains a foil for the left and maintains a generally conservative voting record. “If I were a news entity and all I did is report on how Republicans and Democrats work together to pass something that makes sense, you wouldn’t survive very long,” the Senator said. “Not a lot of people will read that stuff.”

A Tallahassee showdown is set: Congressmen Al Lawson and Neal Dunn qualify for fall campaign” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat — Congressman Lawson smiled and waved to reporters as he walked into the Division of Elections office Monday and filed the paperwork to pit Tallahassee’s two congressmen against each other for a November showdown. Both Lawson, and Congressman Dunn have represented congressional districts that intersect in Tallahassee since 2016. District voters went for Trump by 11 points in 2020. A surrogate submitted Dunn’s paperwork earlier in the day. Dunn said he respects Lawson and his lengthy record of service but the two “have dramatically different policy views on how to solve America’s problems.”

Martin Hyde qualifies to challenge Vern Buchanan in CD 16” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Hyde qualified to challenge U.S. Rep. Buchanan in an August Primary. Hyde paid a qualifying fee to run in Florida’s 16th Congressional District, settling speculation on whether he would follow through with a run. Monday marked the first day when candidates for Congress in Florida could qualify. “For me, it’s really simple,” Hyde said. “It’s finishing what you started. He’s doing so despite signaling in February he might end his candidacy after a bodycam video of a traffic stop went viral of Hyde threatening a police officer’s job if she wrote him a ticket.

Just off embargo — Annette Taddeo added to DCCC ‘Red to Blue’ program — The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has added Taddeo to its “Red to Blue” program following her entry into the race for Florida’s 27th Congressional District. Her inclusion signals that DCCC sees CD 27 as a potential flip opportunity in the fall and that it will direct cash and campaign support to the district in hopes of ousting Republican U.S. Rep. María Elvira Salazar. “Rep. Salazar has delivered nothing but out-of-touch representation to keep her extreme Washington bosses happy at the expense of hard-working Floridians. Taddeo is ready to bring her effective and common-sense leadership to Congress when she flips this seat from red to blue this November,” said DCCC Spokesperson Nebeyatt Betre. While still a swing district, the new CD 27 is expected to be more friendly to Republicans than the current one, which produced a 2.5-point win for Salazar in 2020.

— MORE 2022 —

Former NFL, FSU star Corey Simon challenges Loranne Ausley for state Senate” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Simon is challenging Sen. Ausley in Senate District 3. The former All-American defensive tackle and National Football League pro-bowler will run as a Republican against the incumbent Democrat as she hopes to win her first Senate re-election bid, his campaign announced Monday. Simon brings name recognition and political ties, as DeSantis’ CEO of Volunteer Florida, to a race that is within reach for Republicans. At the very least, the race could bring heartache to Democrats, who hope to stave off a red wave in November. Senate President Wilton Simpson immediately endorsed Simon’s candidacy.

Parties continue to push Jason Brodeur, Joy Goff-Marcil in SD 10” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Both Sen. Brodeur and Rep. Goff-Marcil continue to receive strong Party support for their likely General Election showdown in Senate District 10. Brodeur, seeking a second term in the new district, pulled in more than $30,800 in in-kind campaign support from the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee in May. That’s on top of the $32,937 in donations he raised for his campaign. Goff-Marcil, seeking to move up to the Senate after two terms in the House, drew $19,350 in campaign support from the Florida Democratic Party in May. That’s in addition to the $12,289 she raised for her campaign.

Lauren Book spending big to fend off rare challenge to Democratic caucus leader” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Florida Senate Minority Leader Book is flexing her financial muscle in an expensive Broward County primary fight that surprised — and angered — much of Florida’s Democratic establishment. It’s exceedingly rare for the leader of a legislative caucus to get a challenge from within their own party, but that’s exactly what happened when former Broward County Commissioner Barbara Sharief in March announced she was running for the newly drawn Senate District 35. That move upended Senate Democrats’ midterm plans because Book now has to focus on her re-election bid rather than helping raise money for Democrats in other key races. … Early polling showed Sharief with an advantage, in large part due to better name recognition, but Book has since flooded the airwaves with more than $400,000 in television ads compared to just $40,000 from Sharief, whose campaign is almost exclusively funded by a $500,000 personal loan.

The race between Lauren Book and Barbara Sharief is heating up.

—”Book spends $603K in May, raises $200K as her first ballot challenge approaches” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics

Sybrina Fulton backs Shevrin Jones for re-election — Anti-gun violence activist and nonprofit leader Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, on Monday endorsed Sen. Jones in the race for the new SD 34. “ … For years, he has shone a light on this crisis as he has called for the repeal of ‘Stand Your Ground,’ convened leaders from across the ideological spectrum around treating gun violence like the epidemic it is, and led the charge for public safety rooted in transparency and accountability to keep all of our neighbors safe. This moment calls for bold leaders who lead with heart and take action, and Sen. Jones walks the walk. He’s a proven fighter at every turn for our families and communities — I’m proud to endorse him for re-election.”

Charles Hart picks up Wilton Simpson’s backing in HD 39” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Orange County Republican Chair Hart has won the endorsement of outgoing Senate President Simpson for election in the new House District 39. Hart, a lawyer, also established his financial credibility in May, raising $32,045 in his first two weeks on the campaign trail, easily outperforming his Republican and Democratic opponents in the district. “Charles Hart doesn’t back down from a fight when our conservative principles are on the line,” Simpson, now a candidate for Agriculture Commissioner, said in a news release issued by Hart’s campaign.

Andrew Learned crosses $300K raised for re-election bid — Democratic Rep. Learned raised more than $50,000 last month, bringing his to-date total to $309,344. May reports show the Brandon lawmaker brought in $22,827 through his campaign account and $27,500 through his political Committee. The haul is Learned’s highest so far this cycle. By contrast, Republican HD 59 candidate Danny Alvarez recorded his lowest monthly fundraising total in May, raising just $5,525. Learned’s campaign noted that most of its small-dollar donors live within House District 59 while Alvarez’s contributions have come mainly from fellow lawyers in Tampa and Miami.

Jane Castor, Andrew Warren back Michele Rayner in HD 62” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — A slate of Hillsborough County elected officials have announced their endorsement of Rep. Rayner for re-election in the state House. Included in the list of endorsers is Castor, who has led the city since 2019. Both Castor and Rayner have broken barriers for the LGBTQ community. Castor became Tampa’s first openly gay Mayor upon her election, and Rayner is the first openly gay Black woman to serve in the Legislature. Warren, a State Attorney, joined Castor in endorsing Rayner. Warren, who has served as State Attorney since 2016, is a progressive leader in Tampa Bay.

Andy Thomson outpaces chief competitor to represent Palm Beach County’s HD 91” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Thomson has passed the $200,000 mark in cash collected for his bid to represent a reshuffled House District 91 in Palm Beach County. Overall, the Democrat is winning the money race in raising funds from donors. But he’s slightly behind his chief competitor in overall money added because of a $200,000 loan Peggy Gossett-Seidman made to her campaign. Between his personal account and his political Committee, Running with Andy Thomson, the lawyer who’s been on Boca Raton City Council since 2018, raised $22,854 in May for his House bid. Overall, Thomson has $195,045 to fight for the seat representing House District 91, including a $30,000 loan he gave to his campaign.

Andy Thomson hits a milestone in his bid for the Florida House.

Michael Etienne buys $60K in radio ads on first day running to unseat Dotie Joseph in HD 108” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Former North Miami City Clerk Etienne bought about $60,000 worth of radio ads on his first day running to unseat North Miami Rep. Joseph, a fellow Democrat now seeking her third straight term in House District 108. Etienne, a Democrat, filed for the HD 108 race on May 31. That same day, he poured more than $63,000 of his own money into his campaign and bought radio spots on Hollywood-based WLQY-AM and Miami Springs-based WJCC-AM. Radio hosts from both Haitian Creole-language stations provided Etienne’s campaign with $3,000 worth of in-kind contributions

—”Jones raises $20K, spends $40K in May toward second SD 34 term” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics

—”Tracie Davis gains ground on Reggie Gaffney in May SD 5 money race” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

—”Lindsay Cross raises $21K in May for HD 60 bid” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics

—”Tiffany Esposito raises most outside money, but Ford O’Connell holds HD 77 cash advantage” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

—“Alexis Calatayud stacks $112K with broad GOP support for SD 38 bid” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics

Happening tonight:

Happening tonight:

Christian Caban aims to succeed Jimbo Jackson on Leon County Commission” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The entrepreneur behind the redevelopment of The Governor’s Inn now wants to help plan Tallahassee’s future. On Monday, Caban entered a crowded field for Leon County Commission District 2. Caban is running to fill the seat held by Jackson, who died last month after suffering long-term effects from COVID-19. Caban is sensitive to the reason for the vacancy. “This office opened up with a tragedy. It is not a blessing this happened,” he said, praising Jackson as a leader in the schools and the community.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Inside Joe Biden’s frustration with soaring prices” via Tyler Pager of The Washington Post — Biden seemed upbeat when he visited an Iowa biofuels plant in April to talk about bringing down gas prices, standing before a large tractor as he declared that “biofuels have a role to play right now” and announced a plan to expand the use of ethanol over the summer. But privately, Biden dismissed the policy as ineffective and questioned the value of the trip. After returning to the White House, he hauled his senior staff, including Chief of Staff Ron Klain, into the Oval Office, badgering them with questions about the event’s purpose. The episode illustrates the White House’s monthslong challenge to dampen rising prices and the President’s increasing frustration with his administration’s inability to do so.

Rick Scott launches new TV ad touting ’11-point plan’ — Sen. Scott announced another TV ad promoting his “11-point plan to rescue America” on Monday. The 30-second video, titled “Unfit,” aims at Biden, asserting that his economic policies are “forcing America into a recession.” The video also sees Scott repeat his call for Biden to resign before directing viewers to RescueAmerica.com for details on Scott’s policy plan. A news release announcing the ad claims more than 250,000 people have visited the site, and more than 3,000 have sent in ideas or suggestions on how to “rescue” America.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

—“White House fires back at Scott ads, says he is ‘exploiting inflation to rip off working families’” via Brooke Singman of Fox News

Rubio asks for an Interpol red alert notice to arrest Nicolás Maduro” via Antonio Maria Delgado of the Miami Herald — U.S. Sen. Rubio has asked U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to request an Interpol red alert notice for the arrest of Venezuelan strongman Maduro so he can be brought to the United States to face drug trafficking charges. Maduro is currently outside his country in the middle of an international tour claiming to represent Venezuela even though the United States and many countries accuse him of stealing the 2019 Presidential Election, the Senator said in a letter also addressed to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. “As you know, Maduro is a criminal accused of partnering with terrorist organizations to use illegal drugs as weapons against the United States. In the interest of U.S. national security and regional stability, Maduro must stand trial for his crimes against the Venezuelan people,” Rubio said.

Will it be ‘every state for themselves’ as the federal COVID-19 cash dries up?” via Jennifer Shutt of Florida Phoenix — The Biden administration has raised alarm bells about the risk of inaction after sending Congress a request for $22.5 billion in early March. But lawmakers have been unable to pass two bipartisan agreements, and no negotiations are underway, even as cases increase nationwide, and the potential remains for a big wave of infections this winter. That has left state and local health departments wondering if they’ll need to try to bid against each other and even compete with other nations to buy tests, treatments and vaccines — a costly endeavor. If Congress can’t reach an agreement in the coming weeks, the federal government is unlikely to continue programs past the fall, according to White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Ashish Jha.

Taking aim at DeSantis, spooked Donald Trump considers launching 2024 bid in Florida” via Asawain Suebaeng of Rolling Stone — Trump has kicked around staging a large, flashy launch rally (with fireworks, of course) that would announce his White House bid before the 2022 Midterm Elections, according to sources. One reason he’s eying the Sunshine State is to assert his dominance over an ascendant DeSantis, who — if they both run in 2024 — would likely be the former President’s most formidable competitor in a Primary fight for the GOP nomination. One of the sources said Trump’s motivation is to show the Governor “who the boss is” in the modern-day GOP. Trump, the sources say, has even asked some associates if they had opinions on any good venues or event spaces — located close to Florida’s Governor’s Mansion.

‘Untrue’ claim leveled at video of Naples man arrested in Jan. 6 attack, played at hearing” via Michael Braun of the Naples Daily News — A video showing Christopher Worrell, a Collier County member of the Proud Boys, played before a Congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 attacks on the Capitol is cropped and untrue, several sources close to Worrell claim. Additionally, a second superseding federal indictment has been filed against the East Naples resident accused of attacking police officers with pepper spray gel during the Jan. 6 riots. A superseding indictment can include different charges, new charges, or add defendants, replacing the original indictment. In March 2021, FBI agents took Worrell into federal custody after agents executed a search and arrest warrant at his Collier County home. He was released in November to await court action.

— MORE LOCAL: S. FL —

$100 million legal bill in Surfside condo suit. Court filing argues it’s a bargain” via Jay Weaver of the Miami Herald — The attorneys in the massive Surfside condo case have filed a legal bill of just over $100 million. That’s a lot of money, but they argue it’s a “significant savings on fees” compared with what lawyers typically make in such catastrophic class actions. Dozens of attorneys representing the 98 people who died and others who suffered injuries in the collapse of Champlain Towers South submitted their total tab for legal fees on Sunday. Their tab, which must be reviewed and approved by a Miami-Dade judge, represents 10% of the $1 billion settlement the victims’ lawyers reached last month with various defendants and other parties in the Champlain Towers South class-action case.

Disgraced ex-BSO deputy Jonathan Bleiweiss, founder of a legal aid center, hustles to prevent his own return trip to prison” via Noreen Marcus of FloridaBulldog.org — His office is in the district he once patrolled, where he misused his badge and gun to arrest, without lawful cause, young male illegal immigrants. Prosecutors wanted Bleiweiss to answer for the crimes: He stalked, terrorized and coerced these men into demeaning sexual acts. Now, in a sense, Bleiweiss has returned to the alleged crime scene — five blocks from the Florida Justice Center that Bleiweiss founded and runs. Asked for his comments, Bleiweiss referred a Florida Bulldog reporter to Alex Saiz, legal director of the Florida Justice Center. “I believe in second chances,” Saiz wrote about his association with Bleiweiss. “He is genuine in his desire to help the community, and all of his actions at the FLJC show this.”

Jonathan Bleiweiss is working hard to keep himself out of prison.

Free COVID-19 testing ends at Miami-Dade sites as federal funds dry up. Here’s what to expect” via Michelle Marchante of the Miami Herald — Starting in July, COVID-19 tests will no longer be free for people without insurance at more than a dozen sites across Miami-Dade due to a lack of federal funding, as South Florida continues to see a rise in cases. Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced the move Monday afternoon to County Commissioners in a memo, which the Miami Herald obtained. In it, she said that without federal support for COVID-19 services, the county would incur “unbudgeted expenditures” that would “adversely” affect the county’s ability to provide other essential government services.

— MORE LOCAL: C. FL —

Taxing the Mouse: Disney renews legal fight over property assessments for resorts” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — Disney is fighting over the tax bills for several hotels and administrative buildings nearly a year after Disney was refunded millions of dollars in tax refunds for the theme parks. The company filed 10 lawsuits against Property Appraiser Amy Mercado late last week in Orange County Circuit Court. Disney wants the property assessments to be declared “excessive” and to get a new tax bill and have its legal fees covered. The tax dispute is over multiple resorts, from Disney’s Pop Century Resort to the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and several in between as well as Disney administrative properties, including the Team Disney Building across from Disney Springs.

Is Disney being overtaxed?

Hillsborough County high schools may change Native American mascots” via Olivia Steen of News Channel 8 WFLA — Chamberlain High School may not be “home to the Chiefs” much longer. The Tampa school’s mascot, along with East Bay High, is under fire. The Hillsborough County school board will discuss changing the mascots next Tuesday. Some people believe the mascot represents strength and honor but others say it’s appropriation. “You don’t have the Chamberlain Jews,” Sheridan Murphy with the Florida Indigenous Alliance said. “You don’t have the East Bay Mexicans and the resulting stereotypes that come with that.”

— MORE LOCAL: SW. FL —

Write-in candidates close high-profile Manatee County Commission primary elections” via Jesse Mendoza of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — A write-in candidate for Manatee County Commission says he signed up for the race at the request of one of the Republican challengers for the seat, a move that will exclude more than 150,000 Democratic and independent voters from casting ballots in an election they otherwise could have voted in. Robert Lesher said he was asked to run as a write-in candidate in the at-large District 6 race by Jason Bearden, who is challenging incumbent Carol Whitmore as a Republican in the August primary.

Fort Myers issuing permits for water mains but can’t promise anything will flow through them” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Fort Myers officials informed developers last week that while they can obtain permits for new water hookups, there won’t be water flowing for the foreseeable future. After the Florida Department of Environmental Protection told the city it could no longer issue general permits on water mains, the city explained in a letter it would have to be judicious with water until new wells start producing. After years of poor planning, Mayor Kevin Anderson said the city must be careful. “It’s going to sting a little bit,” Anderson said, “but we will get over that hump and get back to business as usual.”

— LOCAL NOTES: N. FL —

Pro-DeSantis signage on the USS Orleck prompts questions” via Jacksonville Today — Duval County Republicans booked the retired Navy destroyer-turned-museum for their pro-DeSantis flotilla Downtown, and they unfurled flags on its railings, including a Blue Lives Matter flag, Gadsden flags and one with an image of DeSantis and the words “Keep Florida Free.” At issue is whether the Jacksonville Historic Naval Ship Association, a 501(c)(3) organization, violated an IRS regulation saying those groups are “absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign.” Violations can result in organizations’ losing their tax-exempt status. Daniel Bean, president of the association, says the group did nothing wrong. In an interview with Jacksonville Today, Bean said that while the IRS bars organizations from endorsing candidates, it allows political activities that are not shows of support for political campaigns. Bean says the event Saturday was to honor DeSantis for his accomplishments as governor and was “not an event to support or endorse Gov. DeSantis as a candidate.”

The flag on the Springfield Park monument? Also Confederate, according to Council member Matt Carlucci’s drone photos” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — The intense dispute over a Confederate monument in Springfield Park has often referred to the large statue inside it depicting a woman reading to two children, but Carlucci is spotlighting the other figure on top of the monument as he presses for moving it from city-owned land. Carlucci used close-up photos taken by an aerial drone to show that while the woman inside the monument is holding a book, the weathered statue of a robe-draped woman on top of the roof is holding a Confederate flag. He intends to use the photos as part of his closing argument at the Tuesday meeting of the City Council when he seeks support for a resolution calling for moving the monument out of Springfield Park.

Matt Carlucci’s drone photos show Jacksonville’s Confederate monument to be even more … Confederate. Image via Matt Carlucci.

Organizer of Tallahassee neo-Nazi drills arrested in Idaho, planned to start riot at Pride parade” via Our Tallahassee — Wesley Evan Van Horn, a key organizer in Tallahassee’s Patriot Front drills, has been arrested as part of a significant arrest against the group in Idaho. Intervening just moments before the group planned to disrupt and cause chaos at the Idaho Pride parade, police pulled over a U-Haul containing more than 20 Patriot Front members, including Van Horn. He was present in Tallahassee during their spring drills. Thirty-one members of Patriot Front were arrested in total. Patriot Front used Tallahassee as a regional meeting place, hosting “combat drills” in Lafayette Park and William’s Landing, two local parks.

Former Alachua County Commissioner Mary Alford files to run for office after resigning” via Andrew Caplan of The Gainesville Sun — Alford has filed to seek re-election for the very seat she resigned from last month. Alford resigned from office after the Gainesville Sun reported that she didn’t live in the district she represented at the time of her election as required by state law. On Thursday, DeSantis appointed Gainesville attorney and GOP advocate Raemi Eagle-Glenn to fill the vacated seat. Eagle-Glenn, who previously lost to Alford in 2020, has not filed yet to run in the midterm election. Alford, however, said she has closed on a new home within District 1, which takes in much of southwest Alachua County and Micanopy, making her now eligible for the position she formerly held.

Love ’em or hate ’em, e-scooters could be sticking around downtown Pensacola a bit longer” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson wants to extend the city’s pilot program for electric scooters until at least the end of the summer to evaluate new parking rules for the scooter program. Robinson said the city will be rolling out parking “corrals” for e-scooters in the downtown area. Users will be required to return the scooters to the corrals so they will not block sidewalks. Pensacola started its one-year pilot program with e-scooters last July and the clock on the program is winding down. Bird, one of the two companies in the pilot program, has a permit that expires on July 18, but Robinson’s proposed extension won’t be ready for council until its July 21 meeting.

— TOP OPINION —

Our blinding, blaring world” via Ed Yong of The Atlantic — Echolocation is the primary means most bats navigate and hunt. Only two animal groups are known to have perfected the ability: toothed whales (such as dolphins, orcas, and sperm whales) and bats. Echolocation differs from human senses because it involves putting energy into the environment. Echolocation is a way of tricking your surroundings into revealing themselves. A bat says “Marco,” and its surroundings can’t help but say “Polo.”

These creatures have evolved senses that allow them to thrive in the dark. But the dark is disappearing.

Many flying insects are fatally attracted to streetlights, mistaking them for celestial lights and hovering below them until they succumb to exhaustion. Some bats exploit their confusion, feasting on the disoriented swarms. Other slower-moving species stay clear of the light, perhaps because it makes them easier prey for owls. Lights reshape animal communities, drawing some in and pushing others away, with hard-to-predict consequences.

The idea of light as a pollutant is jarring to us, but it becomes one when it creeps into places where it doesn’t belong. Widespread light at night is a uniquely anthropogenic force. The daily and seasonal rhythms of bright and dark remained largely inviolate throughout evolutionary time — a 4-billion-year streak that began to falter in the 19th century.

— OPINIONS —

DeSantis’s drag show comments foretell a vile trend” via Alyssa Rosenberg of The Washington Post — Last week, DeSantis projected distress after video emerged of children attending a “Drag the Kids to Pride” show in Texas. “That is totally inappropriate,” he said. “That is not something children should be exposed to.” He added: “We have child protective statutes on the books,” and “we may have the ability to deal with something like that.” … We should name this vile trend for what it is: child exploitation for political gain. A CPS investigation is one of the most invasive, disruptive experiences that families can live through. And the consequences of turning an important, high-stakes tool for ensuring child welfare into a culture-war instrument are almost too awful to contemplate.

A slap on the wrist for a homophobic crime is hopefully a lesson learned” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — “What you did was a bad thing, but you’re not a bad guy.” Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Scott Suskauer spoke those words to Alexander Jerich last Tuesday. Jerich faced sentencing on two charges related to his defacement last year of Delray Beach’s LGBTQ Pride streetscape. Apparently, Suskauer reached this conclusion after reading something Jerich submitted at Suskauer’s demand. Sentencing had been set for April, but Suskauer delayed it until receiving Jerich’s 25-page essay on the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting. Because the assignment was very unusual, Suskauer’s meaning seemed clear: Persuade me that you now understand the hate that LGBTQ people face, and you’ll get a break.

New tools can make our COVID-19 immunity even stronger” via Deepta Bhattacharya for The New York Times — Beyond the vaccines, antiviral medications have been developed that are of particular benefit to those who are unvaccinated or immunocompromised. Many tools now make COVID-19 less of a threat than it was in 2020. The COVID-19 situation, in terms of hospitalizations and deaths, is in a much better place now, but it is not the best science can do, and we must continue to advance against it. There are several ways to improve the state of immunity. One component of durable immunity is made of memory cells that patrol the body, looking for any signs of the virus. If such evidence is found, memory T cells can kill the infected cells while memory B cells rapidly produce antibodies, proteins that can stick to viruses and prevent them from infecting more cells.

‘Free’ speech? Ignorance just cost Jack Del Rio $100,000. He’s lucky to still have a job” via Greg Cote of the Miami Herald — We all know freedom of speech is not an absolute without limits, right? We were taught that in civics class. A typical example was how you couldn’t yell “fire!” in a crowded theater and cause a panicked stampede that gets folks trampled. The lesson: Say what you will — but understand there might be consequences. Del Rio did, and there were. And the NFL’s Washington franchise has its latest controversy. This would be the same club that changed its nickname from a racist one (Redskins) to a just plain bad one (Commanders). Del Rio is lucky he still has a job. Some, including the president of the NAACP, have called for him to resign or be fired. The fine is just. A company or business (or sports league or team) has the right to insist its employees represent it in a way that does not bring shame or cause embarrassment.

— ALOE —

A strawberry supermoon will rise on Tuesday. Here’s how to watch” via Rachel Treisman of NPR — Attention, amateur astronomers: The moon will look unusually full and bright on Tuesday night, and you won’t need a high-tech telescope or fancy binoculars to admire it. June’s full moon is commonly known as the strawberry moon, a name that comes from the Algonquin Native American tribe in the northeastern U.S. and eastern Canada and refers to the region’s strawberry harvesting season (not the moon’s actual hue). And this June, it happens to be at its closest distance to Earth in its orbit, making it a supermoon by most standards.

Not just any old moon — it’s a strawberry supermoon.

One man caught 62 out-of-season lobsters. Another tried to hide some in his shorts, cops say” via David Goodhue of the Miami Herald — Florida spiny lobster season is about two months away, but the draw of the tasty crustaceans was simply too hard to resist for two men who were arrested in separate state fish and wildlife police busts over the weekend in the Keys. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers were watching one of the men, Rafael Larduet Carrion, as the 43-year-old snorkeled just offshore from Duck Key on Saturday. The eight-month recreational and commercial spiny lobster season doesn’t start until Aug. 6, but FWC investigators say they saw Carrion catching them in addition to separating the tails from the carapace in the water, which is illegal. All harvested lobsters must be brought to shore whole, per Florida law.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Best wishes to Josh Aubuchon of Delegal Aubuchon Consulting, Alex Castellanos of Purple Strategies, Courtney DeSisto, Annette Hansford, Drew Piers of Sachs Media, Foyt Ralston, and Hillsborough County Commissioner Mariella Smith. It’s also former President Donald Trump’s birthday

___

Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel Dean, Renzo Downey, Jacob Ogles, and Drew Wilson.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of FloridaPolitics.com, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.



#FlaPol

Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Kelly Hayes, Joe Henderson, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Gray Rohrer, Aimee Sachs, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Andrew Wilson, Wes Wolfe, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
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