Winner and Loser of the Week in Florida politics — Week of 6.26.22

As we celebrate the Fourth, remember that 'all' people were created equal, not just some.

We need a reminder of what the Fourth of July means every now and then.

Sure, it must have been exhilarating and terrifying for the people of our fledgling nation when the Founding Fathers declared independence from Great Britain.

Why did they do it? Why rock the boat and invite the wrath of the planet’s reigning superpower at the time?

Here’s why.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Thomas Jefferson wrote those 35 words in the Declaration of Independence. They form the cornerstone of what America is supposed to be about.

He said “all” men — not just those with whom we agree. While we’re at it, Jefferson would expand that statement to include women if he were here today.

Jefferson defined those no-compromise rights as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That sounds like something an entire nation can rally around, but do we?

Of course not.

Blacks probably have a different spin on Jefferson’s words, as would the LGBTQ+ community. Our political system is a train wreck of partisanship that shows no signs of improving.

One side wants to build walls to keep people out, while the other struggles to help those already here. Both sides seem to believe they have the copyright for how people ought to live.

Now, as in 1776, people don’t like to be told what to do or how to think.

America in 2022 is not really into the “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” thing inscribed on Lady Liberty at the mouth of New York Harbor.

Those words challenge who we are. Politicians love to trot them out on the Fourth and then forget them on the Fifth.

So, enjoy your cookout on Monday if you’re so inclined. Watch a fireworks show and display the flag. All those things are good.

Don’t forget about what we’re supposed to be celebrating, though.

Now, it’s on to our weekly game of winners and losers.


Honorable mention: Ron DeSantis. Note to self: do not play poker with the Governor. He continues to let others make a case for him to run for President in 2024 while Donald Trump takes a beating over his actions during the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Trump keeps saying silly things too — probably thinking he’s clever.

He’s not.

Dan Eberhart, a major Republican donor, told Reuters that many big-bucks Republicans are moving away from Trump toward DeSantis.

“The donor class is ready for something new,” Eberhart said. “And DeSantis feels more fresh and more calibrated than Trump. He’s easier to defend, he’s less likely to embarrass, and he’s got the momentum.”

Then there was the laughable suggestion from Trump that he’d consider DeSantis as his running mate. That assumes that Trump runs and that he’s not fighting to stay out of jail.

DeSantis has been careful not to turn Trump into an enemy, but the time is coming when the Governor will have to show his cards. He is probably holding a handful of aces.

Almost (but not quite) biggest winner: The First Amendment. As we celebrate the virtues of America this weekend, let’s tip a cap to the founding fathers who knew the value of a free press.

Let’s also salute Jacksonville Times-Union columnist Nate Monroe.

He shined a light on utility giant Florida Power & Light’s attempt to buy JEA — Jacksonville’s publicly owned power company.

Monroe asked tough questions and repeatedly informed readers that the sale would be a bad deal for them. Then it got weird.

The Times-Union, Orlando Sentinel, and the nonprofit climate-change newsgroup Floodlight used records to show how far someone was willing to go to make Monroe’s life miserable.

A consulting company for the utility began trailing Monroe and compiling specifics about his behavior, complete with photos. The undercover goons even trailed him on vacation and compiled a treasure trove of his private information, including his Social Security number.

FP&L execs said they never authorized any spy mission on Monroe. Even if that’s true, someone had the bright idea to try and mine deep into his personal life for anything that could silence him.

This just in: it didn’t work.

The biggest winner: Ketanji Brown Jackson. Make that “Justice” Jackson, please. She was sworn in as the 116th U.S. Supreme Court Justice and broke barriers in the process.

She becomes just the eighth non-White male and the first Black woman to join the Nation’s highest court. She grew up in Miami and graduated from Miami Palmetto High School.

“On behalf of all the members of the court, I’m pleased to welcome Justice Jackson to the court and to our common calling,” Chief Justice John Roberts said after the ceremony.

Roberts and retiring Justice Stephen Breyer administered the two oaths each incoming Justice must take.

“With a full heart, I accept the solemn responsibility of supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States and administering justice without fear or favor, so help me God,” Jackson said in a statement.

“I am truly grateful to be part of the promise of our great Nation. I extend my sincerest thanks to all of my new colleagues for their warm and gracious welcome.”


Dishonorable mention: Florida Division of Elections. The folks who certify that candidates can be on a ballot have had better weeks.

Elections officials kicked Republican candidates for congressional seats off the ballot, only to see them reinstated by Leon Circuit Court Judge Angela Dempsey.

In both cases, the candidates messed up their paperwork when filing for the accreditation of their candidacy.

The ruling is a temporary injunction pending a review, so there may be more drama.

CD 14 candidate James Judge won his argument to stay on the ballot after turning in a state form to the elections office, even though he was running for a federal office. Judge successfully argued that the two forms said essentially the same thing.

Dempsey scolded the elections office in granting Judge’s appeal.

“Florida courts have repeatedly recognized that a candidate who has substantially complied with qualification requirements for an election should be placed on the ballot,” Dempsey wrote.

Dempsey later extended her order to include CD 9 candidate Republican Scotty Moore.

Moore blamed the problem on a staff error but said that disqualifying him was an overreaction by the elections office.

Almost (but not quite) biggest loser: Andrew Gillum. The hits keep coming to Gillum, the man who narrowly lost the 2018 gubernatorial race to DeSantis.

As the Tallahassee Democrat reported, Gillum “allegedly turned his 2018 bid for Florida Governor into his own personal ATM, shaking down big donors and undercover FBI agents for campaign contributions and using the money to keep himself financially afloat. That’s the portrait a federal grand jury painted of the former Tallahassee Mayor in its 21-count indictment of Gillum and his co-defendant, Sharon Lettman-Hicks.”

The indictment alleges multiple shaky financial deals to which Gillum was a party in the months leading to the 2018 election. It includes details of alleged campaign finance violations by Gillum.

In one instance, the Democrat reported the indictment alleges Gillum and Lettman-Hicks rerouted more than half of a $250,000 campaign donation into their personal accounts.

The biggest loser: Trump. If DeSantis is a winner this week (which he is) because of the Jan. 6 congressional investigation, then that victory came at Trump’s considerable expense.

The testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson about Trump’s behavior leading up to the insurrection was jaw-dropping. She served as a senior aide to then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

We’ll concede that she might not have convinced anyone still mesmerized by the Mar-a-Lago Menace. They’re trotting out the usual “fake news” counters to her testimony.

Those folks, however, don’t represent the total electorate. They’re just louder and sometimes more delusional than other people.

On the other hand, Hutchinson spoke softly, but her words packed a wallop.

She told of Trump’s reaction when told some of the rioters had guns.

“I don’t f***ing care that they have weapons,” Trump apparently fumed. “They’re not here to hurt me.”

Way to have empathy for the safety of your fellow humans, big guy.

Trump reportedly was also ok with rioters who wanted to hang Vice President Mike Pence.

Hutchinson told committee members of Trump’s reaction after former Attorney General Bill Barr explained there was no widespread voter fraud.

Trump threw his lunch against a White House wall, splattering ketchup in the process. Hutchinson said she helped clean up the mess.

Some messes, like the Trump presidency, are harder to clean, though. The stain just won’t go away.

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.

One comment

  • Tom

    July 3, 2022 at 10:49 am

    Continued Winner:
    Grade A”

    Gov Ron, America’s Governor continues to dominate the state and national agenda.
    His hybrid policy governing, from Reagan to Trump has found a willing audience in Repub. and Independent voters. He is seen as the solution compared to the problem of the incompetent Biden, Harris extremists. Independents rightly see him as an answer. Rising tide for all, not a few.

    His record in Florida is astonishing. Across the board he’s made a difference in Floridians lives.
    Florida is a Mecca of freedom, growth, jobs, education, quality of life, and environmental policy. Freedom, Liberty, opportunity reign in DeSantis’s Florida.

    We are looking at a blow out Govs race with Biden’s Florida approval now at 30%, nationally Biden’s below 50% in 45% states.

    Marco, America’s Gov win big, super majorities with legislature and 3 to 4 net seat house pick up, Florida leading way to new Repub majority in Congress, 25 to 40 seat pick up nationally.

    DeSantis’s expansion on vouchers for poor, minorities allows him to win blue leaning districts. Job growth and his environmental efforts are an A.

    America’s Gov, do what you’ve done for America, like you’ve done for Florida.

Comments are closed.


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