Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 7.25.22

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Good Monday morning.

In advance of the Primary Elections next month, we’re dropping the latest edition of INFLUENCE Magazine, which previews many of the politicians, operatives, and activists on the hunt for a win.

Click here to read the Summer 2022 edition of INFLUENCE Magazine.

The latest INFLUENCE is waiting — check it out.


The Florida Chamber of Commerce has crossed the century mark in state legislative endorsements.

Two weeks ago, the group approved scores of sitting lawmakers, including 54 Republican Representatives and every Republican Senator. They also endorsed Orlando Democratic Sen. Linda Stewart, making the list technically bipartisan.

This week, the Chamber is adding another 33 endorsements. Of those, two dozen are for state House candidates, and nine are for Senate candidates.

For Republicans Bryan Avila in SD 39 and Adam Anderson in HD 57, the endorsement is purely symbolic, as they have already won their elections without opposition. And the nod may as well be symbolic for the many candidates primed to steamroll what little opposition exists, such as Republican Rep. Jay Trumbull in SD 2.

Still, the Chamber offered endorsements in some potential swing districts. The highest profile, by far, was SD 14. They made the expected pick there, lining up behind Gov. Ron DeSantis-backed Republican Jay Collins’ bid to oust Democratic Sen. Janet Cruz.

Republicans once again made up the bulk of the list, but this wave was a little bluer than the last one. Democrats getting the nod include Gallop Franklin in HD 8, Bruce Antone in HD 41, Dan Marquith in HD 47, Wengay Newton in HD 62, and Todd Delmay in HD 101. All are running in heavily Democratic districts.

“Florida continues its growth at a rapid pace — with nearly 1,000 net new residents relocating to Florida every single day. While Florida continues its growth, we need strong leadership with bold and fresh ideas to continue championing economic freedom and a vibrant quality of life,” said Florida Chamber President and CEO Mark Wilson.

“The Florida Chamber has put forth a strategic plan to make Florida a top 10 global economy by 2030, and we trust that these candidates will keep us on a pathway to get there. This year, we’re proud to stand alongside these candidates for the Florida House and Senate, putting our experience behind getting them elected.”


Rest In Peace — “Longtime political adviser, tax expert David Zachem dies at 79” via Andrew Meacham of Florida Politics — David Zachem, a versatile property appraiser, tax analyst and Republican consultant, died July 19 of a heart ailment, his family said. Zachem chaired the Florida presidential campaign of television evangelist Pat Robertson in 1988. Before that, he worked on Ronald Reagan’s presidential runs and played a leading role in the U.S. Senate campaign of Larry Pressler, part of a burgeoning movement now known by its most visible organization, the Christian Coalition of America. Zachem was also known to lend a hand to select Democrats, including Florida state Sen. Darryl Rouson. “I considered him an adviser extraordinaire,” Rouson said. “We were on different sides of the fence many times, policy-wise, but he never let that get in the way of a friendship or a good relationship. He approached politics with spice and a little humor.”

RIP: David Zachem was an impressive figure for both sides of the aisle.


@WJCarter: Worthwhile again to remember: when these hearings started, there was WIDESPREAD commentary abt how “nothing new” was expected to come out of them; they were likely to be mostly “political grandstanding.” Commentary now? “Eye-popping,” “dramatic,” “devastating,” “historic.”

@GoodyYK: Prediction: “187 Minutes” is going to be the title of the movie they make about the Jan. 6 attack.

@GovRonDeSantis: The Communist Regime in Cuba has cooked up a new scheme — asking U.S. residents for “private-sector” investments. In Cuba, citizens have no property rights, and all businesses are state-run. I’ve instructed @FLDEO and @EnterpriseFL to alert Floridians to not fall for this racket.

@Mattyglesias: I think that letting Ron DeSantis have his national reputation be that he’s the anti-mask guy while he makes all kinds of secret promises to billionaire donors is dangerous and irresponsible and the country is owed some account of his thinking on major policy issues.

@DMAbrams: Democrat activists disguised as journalists aren’t invited to Republican summit. shocking!

@Redistrict: Is the “red wave” ebbing? Probably not much. But as Dems show more signs of life and Rs nominate several problematic candidates, we’re downgrading our @CookPolitical House outlook from a GOP gain of 20-35 seats to 15-30 seats.

@JewishResister: It’s not a coincidence every time there are Nazis, they are in Florida or Texas. BTW, this shit shouldn’t be covered by freedom of speech. Like, we fought a war & they killed 6 million people like me over this bullshit.

Tweet, tweet:

@RPerrinRogers: Take notice, ladies — if you use emojis = you’re clearly asking for it. Also, if you wear certain clothes. Do functions of your job that involve informing people what is in the Senate lunchroom daily. Are seen in public having a glass of wine. Oh, and don’t ever smile. Etc etc etc

Tweet, tweet:


Beyoncé rolls-out seventh solo studio album ’Renaissance’ — 4; MLB trade deadline — 7; The 10-day Florida Python Challenge kicks off — 11; Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner novel ‘Heat 2’ publishes — 15; Early voting begins for Primaries — 19; FBHA’s annual conference, BHCon2022, begins — 23; FRLA’s Operations and Marketing Summit — 24; ‘House of the Dragon’ premieres on HBO — 27; 2022 Florida Primary — 29; launch window opens for NASA to launch the Artemis I — 35; 2022 Florida Chamber Technology & Innovation Solution Summit — 37; ‘Andor’ premieres on Disney+ — 37; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 39; NFL Opening Night: LA Rams vs. Buffalo Bills — 45; 2022 Emmys — 49; JMI’s 2022 Tech & Innovation Summit begins — 52; Vote-by-mail mailing deadline for General Election — 73; Deadline to register for General Election — 78; 22-23 NHL season begins — 78; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 92; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 92; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 92; Early voting begins for General Election — 96; 2022 General Election — 106; Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ premieres — 109; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 111; FITCon 2022 begins — 115; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 115; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 119; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 119; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 120; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 128; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 128; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 144; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 207; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 225; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 242; 2023 Session Sine Die — 284; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 284; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 312; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 361; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 466; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 480; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 613; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 732; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 732; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 837; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 1,012.


Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis fight for the heart of the GOP in Florida” via Matt Dixon and Hannah Farrow of POLITICO — The GOP Florida Governor’s win-at-all-costs brand of politics, increasingly embraced by conservatives across the country, was on display this weekend as Florida hosted two GOP conventions that showcased the state’s national importance in the Republican Party and DeSantis’ role in reshaping it.

A growing legion of conservatives see DeSantis as what’s next in the party. Yet Trump’s popularity was clear Saturday night when he spoke to thousands of young conservatives in Tampa and suggested he’s running for President.

The Donald Trump show continues to entertain the fans. Image via Getty.

“If I announced I was not going to run for office, the persecution of Donald Trump would immediately stop,” Trump said at the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit. “But that’s what they want me to do. And you know what? There’s no chance I do that.”

— 2022 —

DeSantis, Republican leaders tout tough stance against Democrats and avoid Trump” via Zac Anderson of USA Today Network — DeSantis declared: “I am not backing down one inch.” The message was well received among the crowd of 5,000 young conservatives gathered for the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit at the Tampa Convention Center, where Trump will speak Saturday night. DeSantis had the prime speaking slot Friday. He generated the most enthusiastic reception.

Ron DeSantis doubles down on Democrats.

—“DeSantis slams Joe Biden at Florida GOP Gala” via Selim Algar of the New York Post — DeSantis blasted Biden in a fiery address to roughly 1,500 supporters Saturday night at a Republican fundraising event. With Trump holding simultaneous court at an event in Tampa, DeSantis trumpeted his stewardship of the Sunshine State while denouncing “woke” excesses and calling for a red wave in November. The GOP firebrand and potential 2024 presidential candidate repeatedly mocked Biden by using his disparaging “Brandon” moniker, branding his presidency a wide-ranging “disaster” that has weakened the country. During his speech at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, DeSantis reprised his backhanded concern for the President’s COVID-19 diagnosis.

‘Try crying about it’: Liberal reporters blocked from GOP summit” via Mary Margaret Olohan of The Daily Wire — Fed up with the slew of liberal reporters launching partisan questions at DeSantis, Florida Republicans determined ahead of time that the state’s big election year summit would be “invite only” for media. “I’m not going to have a bunch of left-wing media asking our Primary candidates a bunch of gotcha questions,” DeSantis said to a packed crowd in Saturday morning remarks at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Reporters from outlets like The Daily Wire, The Washington Free Beacon, Americano Media, and Florida’s Voice were invited to attend the event.

The guest list: Recognize a pattern?

—”The Republican Party of Florida excluded numerous journalists from covering a fundraising dinner starring DeSantis: ‘This is not normal’” via Kimberly Leonard of Business Insider

DeSantis is convinced Biden’s stimulus caused inflation. His solution: Use Biden’s stimulus to send inflation relief checks to Floridians” via Christine Mui of Fortune — The Governor will use $35.5 million that Florida received from federal COVID-19 relief funds to mail checks to nearly 59,000 foster and adoptive families in the state, First Lady Casey DeSantis announced last week. “The one-time payments ensured that $35.5 million would be received by Florida families. Had these awards not been made, the funding would have otherwise reverted back to the federal government,” said Laura Walthall, a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Children and Families.

DeSantis ignores challengers as he goes after ‘stumbling’ Biden. Democratic candidate calls Governor a ‘monster’” via Anthony Man and David Lyons of the Orlando Sentinel — DeSantis repeatedly hit on two of his favorite themes, extolling the “free state of Florida” and bashing Biden as dangerous and incompetent, to rally Florida Republicans on Saturday, previewing the kind of pitch he might deliver as a presidential candidate. For those who love the way he reshaped Florida, DeSantis promised even more. DeSantis was top of mind for Charlie Crist and Nikki Fried, who spoke Saturday at the Florida LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus summer conference in Fort Lauderdale. “We’ve got to get rid of the guy. He’s an absolute monster,” Crist said about DeSantis. “This guy’s horrible. We all know it,” adding, “He’s dead wrong on everything.”

Nikki Fried falls one vote shy of winning Dem LGBTQ+ Caucus endorsement” via Mitch Perry of Spectrum News 9 — Fried received the majority of votes from the Florida LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus on Saturday in her race against Crist, 25-13, but it was one vote shy of a two-thirds majority required to get the official endorsement from the group. Shortly after the vote was announced, the Crist camp pounced on the non-endorsement, saying it came even though the LGBTQ+ conference was taking place in Fried’s home turf of Broward County and that she had “attempted to pack the room with supporters.”

Farmers push back after Charlie Crist proposes land purchase as Governor” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Florida’s farmers are rebuking a plan floated by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Crist to buy up farmland should he become Governor. Crist threw out the proposal during the lone Democratic Primary debate ahead of the Aug. 23 election as part of a discussion about Florida’s environment and ecosystem. But Gene Adams, Chair of the Florida Ag Coalition, pushed back against that proposal, arguing lands in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) are not for sale.

Crist’s bid earns nods from high-profile progressives” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Miami Sen. Jason Pizzo, Brevard School Board Member Jennifer Jenkins, and Rep. Kevin Chambliss have each announced their endorsement for Charlie Crist as he runs for Governor. Crist called his endorsers “incredible public servants.” whose support he was grateful to receive. These endorsements are notable — Pizzo is one of the few Democratic committee chairs in the Florida Senate. Jenkins became a target of Republican Rep. Randy Fine and the right-leaning group Moms for Liberty after voting in favor of COVID-19 masking policies. Chambliss also garnered attention after attacking DeSantis’ immigration policies as “callous politics.”

Actual tweet:

Neo-fascists’ swastika flags outside Tampa youth summit condemned by Holocaust museum” via Emily L. Mahoney and Divya Kumar of the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald — Calling it “an indefensible act of hatred,” the Florida Holocaust Museum sharply condemned demonstrations at the Tampa Convention Center where a group of neo-fascists waved flags with swastikas outside Turning Point USA’s Student Action Summit. “This isn’t about politics or religion,” museum chair Mike Igel said in a statement. “It’s about humanity. The Florida Holocaust Museum calls upon everyone, Jew and non-Jew, regardless of political affiliation, to condemn this blatant antisemitism in the strongest possible terms. This should matter to everyone.” Groups clashed briefly outside on the convention center steps. Some were there to protest the gathering inside. Others were there to show support.

— “‘Pure hatred’: Florida Holocaust Museum condemns Nazi symbols outside of Turning Point USA convention” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics

Tweet, tweet:

— 2022: CONG —

Matt Gaetz to abortion rights protesters: ‘Nobody wants to impregnate you’” via Zac Anderson of the USA Today Network — Gaetz told a crowd of young people at a Saturday conference that women protesting abortion access are less likely to get pregnant because they aren’t attractive. “Why is it that the women with the least likelihood of getting pregnant are the ones most worried about having abortions?” Gaetz said. “Nobody wants to impregnate you if you look like a thumb.”

It wouldn’t be a Matt Gaetz speech without trolling.

—“DeSantis refuses to answer questions about Gaetz. That silence speaks volumes” via Andy Marlette of the Pensacola News Journal

At Republican conference, Tampa Bay candidates vie to show they’re red enough” via Romy Ellenbogen of the Tampa Bay Times — Saturday’s Republican Party of Florida’s Sunshine Summit conference at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino included debates for candidates in four congressional races, including two contested seats in Tampa Bay that both lean red: Pinellas County’s 13th Congressional District seat and the 15th District seat that represents northeast Hillsborough, southeast Pasco and parts of Polk County. The debates were not streamed live, and most media outlets were barred from attending.

Out of Africa: Jerry Torres accuses Kathy Castor of starting lawsuit” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — Torres has charged in court documents that U.S. Rep. Castor and her husband instigated a lawsuit that seeks to remove him from the ballot for Tampa’s District 14 congressional race. But the judge in the case has ruled against Torres’s attempt to take depositions from Castor’s husband, Bill Lewis, the Congresswoman, and her campaign consultant. And in the court filings, Torres acknowledges he was in Africa at the time; Mississippi-based notaries notarized three versions of his legally required candidate oath, even though two of them say he was physically present and that he signed a blank oath form before leaving. The lawsuit says that means the oath isn’t valid.

The race between Jerry Torres and Kathy Castor gets litigious.

—”Brian Mast’s challengers: Loxahatchee mom, Palm Beach County professor, Jensen Beach ex-cop” via Max Chesnes of The Palm Beach Post

Ted Deutch weighs in, knocks down charge that Jared Moskowitz supports DeSantis or Trump” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — On Friday, Deutch emphatically knocked down the charge that Moskowitz is a supporter of DeSantis or Trump. Deutch didn’t name them, but his Twitter thread was in effect calling out two Moskowitz opponents in the Aug. 23 Congressional Primary in the 23rd Congressional District in Broward and Palm Beach counties. The DeSantis-Trump theme has been central to Ben Sorensen’s campaign, and it has more recently been picked up by Hava Holzhauer.

— MORE 2022 —

Who’s boosting Laurel Lee’s campaign contributions for Congress” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — Lee just got a significant infusion of cash in her campaign for Congress, with more possibly to come — $1 million originally from a political committee tied to the former political ambitions of her husband, former state Sen. Tom Lee. Laurel Lee was already a leader in fundraising in the Republican Primary for the new District 15 U.S. House seat covering northeast Hillsborough County, Zephyrhills and part of Lakeland.

GOP House candidate Chet Stokes confesses he’s not an Auburn grad after all” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Jacksonville Beach City Councilmember Chet Stokes, who is running for the open seat in the new House District 16, has cleared the air on his lack of a college degree after listing it on his candidate biography. Stokes was only seven credit hours away from graduating and said his campaign has “corrected this oversight” and “sincerely apologizes for the error.”

Chet Stokes comes clean about his college days.

GOP House candidate Doug Bankson demands submissive wives, promises ‘stronger orgasms’ in 2011 sex book” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Bankson released his political agenda; he published a book of sex tips for Christians. In “Love Your Woman,” released in 2011, the Apopka City Commissioner and longtime pastor suggests the key to a healthy marriage is a wife who knows her place. Also, lots of foreplay. “When foreplay is longer,” he wrote, “orgasms are stronger.” That’s not a platform plank listed on his campaign website, though his official biography lists him as a “published author.” This book is the only one available on Amazon or Barnes & Noble written by Bankson.

—”Democrat Tom Valeo explains why he should be the nominee for Florida House District 93” via The Palm Beach Post

Happening today — The deadline to register to vote or change party affiliations for the Aug. 23 Primary.

Operatives working with FPL plotted Primary challenge for Miami Senator” via Annie Martin and Mario Alejandro Ariza of the Orlando Sentinel — Operatives working with Florida Power & Light sent the utility a $3-million-plus plan to discreetly recruit a Primary challenger in hopes of ousting one of the utility’s biggest foes from the state Senate in 2020 — in the same race that later became central to Florida’s “ghost” candidate scandal. Dan Newman, who had previously worked for the Florida Democrats’ legislative campaign arm, wrote the proposal, which called for recruiting a Florida House member to run against Sen. José Javier Rodríguez, who then was a prominent Democratic lawmaker from Miami.


DeSantis calls out ‘huge problem’ of Chinese property purchases” via Charles Creitz of Fox News — DeSantis called out China for reportedly buying up massive amounts of property in the Sunshine State, telling “The Ingraham Angle” he signed legislation to curb what he deemed “undue influence from rogue states” like the Chinese Communist Party. Host Laura Ingraham reported on growing concern over China buying up American real estate, especially in the agricultural and residential sectors, the Plains, and places like Florida. “I don’t think they should be able to do it,” DeSantis said. “I think the problem is these companies have ties to the CCP, and it’s not always apparent on the face of whatever a company is doing — but I think it’s a huge problem.”

Andrew Gillum’s lawyers ask for his public corruption trial to move to 2023” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — Lawyers for Gillum are asking to push back his trial on federal public corruption charges until spring 2023. A motion for a continuance filed Friday by Miami attorneys David Markus and Todd Yoder follows a similar request filed earlier this week by lawyers for Gillum’s co-defendant, Sharon Lettman-Hicks. The two defendants were initially scheduled to stand trial on Aug. 16 at the U.S. Courthouse in Tallahassee. Gillum’s lawyers echoed concerns from Lettman-Hicks’ attorneys, Mutaqee Akbar and Robert Morris of Tallahassee, that they are sifting through government evidence and not ready for trial.

Andrew Gillum needs a little more time. Will he get it?

Ethics case against Jack Latvala moves to administrative judge after panel rejects settlement” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — An administrative law judge will review three alleged ethics violations of former Sen. Latvala after the Florida Commission on Ethics rejected a settlement between the Clearwater Republican and the panel’s advocate. Latvala has been accused of groping and making sexually insensitive comments to a Senate staffer and engaging in a consensual affair with a lobbyist. Latvala admitted “poor judgment” but insisted he never traded his actions as a lawmaker for any sexual favors. The ethics panel found probable cause to uphold all three allegations, but only after some Commissioners disagreed. The case now heads to an administrative law judge, and if the charges are upheld there, it could head to the Senate to enact punishment — a public censure, reprimand, or up to a $10,000 fine.

Florida Bar dismisses complaint against Spencer Roach” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A Florida Bar complaint brought against state Rep. Roach has been tossed after the Bar determined it warrants no further attention. The complaint came from former Lee County Republican State Committeeman Chris Crowley, who said a radio endorsement recorded by Roach maligned him when he was running for re-election to his party position. Roach characterized the complaint as “frivolous” and an attempt to “drag my name through the mud.” It’s one of several recent episodes where a local political argument made its way into official channels, with political figures seeking discipline on opponents.

Fun read — “Has Florida Man finally met his match? Meet Florida Sheriff” via The Associated Press — The Sunshine State has become internationally notorious for the oddball miscreants who populate its police blotters and local news reports, known collectively as Florida Man. But an eccentric cast of hard-boiled sheriffs make a career of going after these guys. Florida Man, meet Florida Sheriff. Take Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson in Florida’s Panhandle. Johnson said a homeowner had fired shots but didn’t hit the suspect. Johnson encouraged that homeowner to take a gun safety course offered every other Saturday at the sheriff’s office to take matters into his own hands better. “Learn to shoot a lot better,” Johnson said. “Save the taxpayers’ money.”


Biden improves ‘significantly,’ throat still sore from COVID-19” via Chris Megerian of The Associated Press — Biden continues to “improve significantly” despite a lingering sore throat from his coronavirus infection, according to an update Sunday from his doctor. “The President is responding to therapy as expected,” wrote Dr. Kevin O’Connor in his latest note. Biden has been taking Paxlovid, an antiviral drug that helps reduce the chance of severe illness. O’Connor wrote that Biden still has a sore throat, though other symptoms, including a cough, runny nose and body aches, “have diminished considerably.”

Joe Biden is improving, working remotely. Image via AP.

Pete Buttigieg fires back at Marco Rubio after his same-sex marriage remark” via CNN — Buttigieg tells CNN’s Jake Tapper he doesn’t understand why some Republican senators plan to vote against a bill protecting same-sex marriage and responds to Rubio calling the bill a “stupid waste of time.”

Rick Scott claims media ‘almost hoped’ for Trump COVID-19 decline” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Trump had COVID-19 in late 2020, during a pivotal time in his ultimately failed re-election campaign. Scott claimed that the media wanted Trump to suffer during a radio interview on the Brian Kilmeade Show. “It’s ridiculous. They almost hoped that Trump would get worse,” Scott said. Kilmeade played clips of Democrats critiquing Trump for a “dereliction” that caused him to get COVID-19 last year, with one blasting Trump for getting taxpayer-funded treatment for the virus, goading further comment from the Senator. “Has anybody suggested that Joe Biden shouldn’t get the best care possible? Of course not,” Scott said. “We want the President to. We want everybody to … the Democrats are so mean-spirited. Everything is just messaging: anti-people like Trump.”

‘Who knows?’ Scott stays vague on DeSantis, Mitch McConnell political futures” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — When Scott was asked about the political futures of two fellow Republicans on a Mississippi radio show, both times he offered the same answer: “Who knows?” about the seeming collision course DeSantis and Trump are on ahead of the 2024 Presidential Primary, Scott punted, saying he expected crowded fields on “both the Democratic and Republican sides.” “I have no idea. Who knows? DeSantis has a Governor’s race,” Scott said. “I don’t know who, but I think there’s going to be a lot of people who want to run. Everybody has an idea of how they can run this country better, so I think a lot of people are going to run.” In March, Scott was similarly reluctant to rave about DeSantis’ prospects, telling Fox Business “we’ll see what happens.”

Happening today — Scott, U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds, and former Attorney General Pam Bondi will speak at the America First Policy Institute’s “American First Agenda Summit,” event starts at 11:30 a.m., Washington, D.C.

Mike Waltz joins lawmakers in meeting with Volodymyr Zelenskyy” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Waltz joined several House Armed Services Committee members Saturday to meet with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy and Minister of Defense Oleksiy Reznikov. Waltz met the Ukrainian leaders along with Armed Services Committee chair Adam Smith and U.S. Reps. Elissa Slotkin, Mikie Sherrill and Mike Quigley. “During our visit to Kyiv, we saw firsthand just how deeply Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine has failed to achieve his aims,” the delegation said in a joint statement.

— JAN. 6 —

Jan. 6 hearings traced an arc of ‘carnage’ wrought by Trump” via Calvin Woodward and Eric Tucker of The Associated Press — In a methodical, even mannerly process rarely seen from Congress, the panel exposed behind-the-scenes machinations, showing the lengths Trump and his enablers went to keep him in power, and the extent of which his inner circle knew his case about a stolen election was false. The hearings have made clear Trump was willing to see the legislative branch of government and democratic processes in state after state consumed in the bonfire of his vanities.

Donald Trump warned us of ‘American carnage.’ Who’d have guessed it would come from him?

Hearings test Trump’s clout and GOP’s wish to ‘forget about Jan. 6’” via Isaac Stanley-Becker and Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post — Over eight televised hearings revealing the fullest account yet of Trump’s role in provoking the carnage at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, the House panel examining the attack has made clear its primary target audience: Republicans. The star witnesses have been Republicans. The Democratic committee members have gone out of their way to praise Republicans who stood up to Trump, chiefly Mike Pence. And the committee’s vice chair, Rep. Liz Cheney, has openly appealed to Republican voters. On Thursday night, she beseeched them to drop the man they have long revered, a man who “preyed on their patriotism,” she said, by lying to them about a stolen election.

Secret Service identified potential missing text messages on phones of 10 individuals” via Whitney Wild and Jeremy Herb of CNN — Two sources told CNN that Secret Service investigators were scrutinizing the phones of 10 Secret Service personnel that contained metadata showing text messages were sent and received around Jan. 6, 2021, but were not retained. The scrutiny came after the Department of Homeland Security inspector general asked for the text records last year of 24 Secret Service individuals involved in Jan. 6, but only one text had been produced. After the issue spilled into public view this month, the inspector general launched a criminal investigation into the matter, and lawmakers demanded answers from the Secret Service to go back and find out what happened to the texts that may have been deleted. But the Secret Service’s internal investigation ground to a halt after a July 20 letter from the DHS inspector general informed the agency there was an ongoing criminal investigation, directing the Secret Service to stop its own probe.

Melania Trump says she was ‘unaware’ of the Jan. 6 insurrection as it was happening” via Kate Bennett of CNN — Trump said in a new interview with Fox that she was “unaware” of the ongoing riot on Jan. 6, 2021, because she was too busy photographing a rug in the White House. “On Jan. 6, 2021, I was fulfilling one of my duties as First Lady of the United States of America, and accordingly, I was unaware of what was simultaneously transpiring at the U.S. Capitol Building,” she said. Trump said it was her “duty” as the First Lady to archive the contents of the White House, which is not exactly true. The White House curator and the White House Historical Association are predominantly responsible for keeping a record of the contents of the official White House collection.

The inescapable conclusion from the Jan. 6 hearings” via Russell Berman of The Atlantic — The Jan. 6 committee has accused the former President of being far more than a passive observer who fiddled while the Capitol nearly fell. Again and again, the panel asserted that Trump was an instigator and a would-be participant in the charge, an unhinged leader who lunged for the wheel of the car that would take him to the Capitol. “The mob was accomplishing President Trump’s purpose,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger said. “So, of course, he didn’t intervene.” In the committee’s telling, the President watched his legion of supporters attack the seat of American government not only with glee but also with envy, and it is sheer folly to have expected him to try to stop the riot he had fomented.

What ordinary Republicans think about Jan. 6” via David French of The Atlantic — Here’s one thing I understand: Rank-and-file Republicans are shockingly ignorant of Trump’s misdeeds. It is simply not the case that they understand everything that Trump has done and support him anyway. They have far, far more knowledge of Democratic misconduct and media malfeasance than they have of anything Trump has done. This truth applies to every single one of the worst moments of Trump’s campaigns and presidency. The average Republican has a completely different knowledge base about Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, Ukraine impeachment, the election contest, and Jan. 6, and while there are some people (especially on Twitter) who do know everything and either love Trump anyway or love Trump because of his misdeeds, that is not the dominant mindset.


Army Corps to release LOSOM update as stakeholder concerns remain” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is set to release a new update this week on the new Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM), as some stakeholders are still pressing for changes to the document that will govern Lake O releases for the next several years. The new operating manual will dictate where Lake O’s water resources head and when, leading to predictable battles over the manual’s language. Lawmakers and community stakeholders have voiced their concerns as the LOSOM language has continued to take shape. With a new update expected Friday, some are still concerned about the Corps’ direction, though that updated language could address some of those concerns very well.

Formula One commits $500K to Miami Gardens community partnership benefiting small businesses” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Formula One is investing up to $500,000 to support small-business owners in Miami Gardens, where its racing events will be held for the next decade. The program is administered through the Community Fund of North Miami Dade, an Opa-locka Community Development Corporation subsidiary, which matched the Formula One contribution for a total $1 million grant sum. The money will fund loans to small-business owners and entrepreneurs throughout Miami Gardens. The Truist Foundation committed an added $100,000 to the program to help subsidize interest rates and forgive 10% of some loans. While there are no rules as to how much an applying company will be able to get through the program, they expect each loan to be between $25,000 and $125,000.

Formula One gives back to Miami Gardens. Image via F1.

Miami-Dade Mayor demands candidate for County Commission stop using her photo in mailer” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — Daniella Levine Cava is threatening legal action against a County Commission candidate for a flyer falsely suggesting she won Levine Cava’s endorsement. The flyer by District 12 candidate Sophia Lacayo shows a photo of her posing with Levine Cava and another photo of her with Annette Taddeo, a Florida Senator running for Congress. Both are Democrats, and Lacayo is a Republican seeking a nonpartisan seat on the Commission. But Levine Cava and Taddeo haven’t endorsed Lacayo, a former Sweetwater Commissioner who gave up her seat in 2020 over a perjury charge tied to false information about where she lived ahead of the city elections.

As monkeypox cases surge in South Florida, demand for vaccines intensifies” via Michelle Marchante and Grethel Aguila of the Miami Herald — The surge in monkeypox cases is coming at the same time Florida has been battling an outbreak of meningococcal disease, which is caused by bacteria. The two most common meningococcal infections are meningitis — an infection of the brain and spinal cord lining — and bloodstream infection. The infections quickly can become deadly. Meningococcal disease, too, is spreading among gay and bisexual men. In fact, the CDC has called Florida’s outbreak — with 48 cases since the start of the year, about twice the levels for an entire year — “one of the worst outbreaks of meningococcal disease among gay and bisexual men in U.S. history.”


Orange Co. Property Appraiser settles legal dispute linked to predecessor, Rick Singh” via Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — Three top advisers to former Orange County Property Appraiser Singh, who were promised exit packages totaling over $300,000, settled a dispute over the deals for about $116,000. The payments end a legal saga that began 17 months ago. The exit packages surfaced in the fifth week of Singh’s successor Amy Mercado’s time in office, and she decided not to retain Singh’s inner-circle trio. Rather than pay demands outlined in the separation agreements, Mercado opted to file a lawsuit in 2021 that asked a judge to review the exit packages, which had been kept secret until she let the advisers go, describing the separation agreements as “shockingly exorbitant.”

Rick Singh’s legal troubles lighten up a bit.


Ron’s not gonna like this — “Disney swaps ‘fairy godmother’ role at parks for gender-neutral ‘apprentice’” via Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech of The Hill — Employees at Disney’s famed Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique will get a more gender-neutral title. Boutique cast members, who help children dress up as their favorite Disney characters, will now be called “Fairy God Mother’s Apprentices” instead of “Fairy God Mother’s in Training” to allow workers who do not identify as women to be a part of the magic. “Disney will continue their efforts at being more inclusive with all guests & cast members by renaming the Boutique cast members to ‘Fairy God Mother’s Apprentices’ rather than ‘Fairy Godmothers in training,’” Streaming the Magic said in a statement. “This way cast members that might not identify as female can still be part of the process to dress up & style the children without having to refer to themselves as a female Disney character.”


Southwest Florida climate survey shows divide between political parties as to causes, answers” via Chad Gillis of the Fort Myers News-Press — Most Southwest Floridians believe the climate is changing, and more than two-thirds say it is tied to human events. Sixty-eight percent of the polled people said they believe the climate is changing, 23% said it was not, and the other 9% said they were unsure. The polling work was at the request of Growing Climate Solutions, spearheaded by the Community Foundation of Collier County, the Collaboratory, Florida Gulf Coast University, and the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry, and Glades counties. Results are expected to be released to the public next week.

Former Sarasota officer sues city, ex-supervisors for alleged malicious prosecution, conspiracy” via Gabriela Szymanowska of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — A former Sarasota police officer is suing the city and three former supervisors, alleging he was maliciously targeted by senior management in 2016 when they pursued criminal action against him. Gregory M. Tancibok filed a lawsuit for malicious prosecution and civil conspiracy four years after a criminal case against him was dropped in 2017. Tancibok was charged with stalking a woman officer whom he’d previously dated for several months. The lawsuit alleges that former Sarasota Police Chief Bernadette DiPino, former Police Capt. Corinne Stannish and former Lt. Jonathan Todd wanted to oust Tancibok for making several internal complaints regarding misconduct by fellow officers.


In final budget, Mayor Lenny Curry spends big but reveals scaled-back ambition” via Nate Monroe of the Florida Times-Union — The $1.55 billion budget Curry unveiled Thursday is the largest spending plan he has proposed since taking office in 2015 and his final one before leaving City Hall next year, but the sweeping budget also reveals the scaled-back ambitions of a Mayor who once promised nothing less than to change the face of downtown. In speeches and editorial board meetings throughout his first term, Curry often said, in different variations, that “you won’t recognize downtown when I’m done.” Yet downtown remains notably, agonizingly, recognizable: It still has fewer than 10,000 residents, the paltry goal city officials set years ago; the aging Skyway still screeches overhead; sun-blasted grass lots and too much surface parking remain; vacant storefronts still line Bay Street.

Lenny Curry’s final budget packs a (scaled back) wallop.

Lawyers suing over Jacksonville City Council redistricting want injunction before ’23 vote” via Steve Patterson of The Florida-Times Union — Lawyers have asked a federal judge to block the use of half of Jacksonville City Council’s 14 districts during the spring elections, arguing the new boundaries are unconstitutionally gerrymandered. The lawyers, representing a handful of residents, the Jacksonville NAACP branch, ACLU Northeast Florida, and voting rights groups, made the request as part of a lawsuit filed in May. If approved, the injunction would affect Districts 7, 8, 9 and 10, all majority-Black districts where the advocates argue Black voting power has diminished after being “packed” together artificially. If the judge approves the injunction, new district boundaries must be submitted by Dec. 15.

For decades, Jacksonville City Council redistricted based off ‘misinformation’” via Andrew Pantazi of The Tributary — When a local government task force first proposed Jacksonville consolidate with Duval County in the 1960s, it addressed redistricting and racial gerrymandering directly. “Gerrymandering for purely selfish interests is exactly the kind of ‘politics’ at its worst that the study commission went to great lengths to avoid,” that task force’s executive director, Lex Hester, told journalists at the time. Consolidation, everybody knew, would make the city’s demographics whiter and make it harder for Black voters to gain power in an at-large system. Black people made up 41% of Jacksonville residents but just 23% of Duval County. District elections would allow Black residents to still elect some of the new City Council members. “We’ve been gerrymandered enough,” Alice Conway, a Black politician and activist, told reporters.

Aaron Bell maintains large cash advantage in Nassau Commission race” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — It remains to be seen what effect Bell’s arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence will have on his re-election campaign. However, as the campaign entered July, Bell retained a commanding fundraising lead over challenger Hupp Huppmann. Bell didn’t raise any money in the last part of June, though he had around $18,850 on hand at the end of the reporting period. However, he recently had a fundraiser at Story & Song Bookstore. Huppmann, in comparison, managed to raise $7,000 in June but spent less than $1,000 of it, entering July with around $7,240 in the bank. Bell’s vocal opposition to Riverstone Properties’ attempt to force the county into accepting 11 85-foot towers on the south end of Amelia Island, and the style that opposition took, has been a centerpiece of the campaign.

Dollars rain down in Commissioner race for western Nassau” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — The District 4 Nassau County Commission race is seeing heavy cash flow. Incumbent Commissioner Thomas Ford faces two Republican Primary opponents, including former Commissioner George Spicer and educator Alyson McCullough. Going into July, Ford had $22,429 on hand, compared to $17,922 for Spicer and $8,019 for McCullough. Spicer has led the money race, collecting $43,590 overall — including $26,000 in self-funding. Ford follows, having raised $35,600. McCullough, who has raked in $17,905, has depended more on small-dollar donors, though she gave her campaign $3,500 in May.


What it means to see America in person” via Ross Douthat of The New York Times — I want to venture two general observations about America at scale — maybe banal ones, but I’ll take that risk.

The first is a sense of wonder at the uncrowded availability of sights and spectacles on the Western roads. If you’re accustomed to the crowded spaces on the coasts, you should know that it really does all melt away — and not just into cornfields or pastureland or desert, but into a landscape filled with places that are made for travelers, that offer immediate rewards to even the most casual visitor.

This connects to the second observation, which is just the intense difference between America experienced as a geographic entity, a continental empire, and America experienced as a virtual landscape via the screens and apps through which we increasingly encounter one another.

The comparison does not reflect well on virtual America, which feels crowded and exhausting, a thousand-odd people screaming at one another in a medium-size hotel ballroom. I don’t want to say that crossing physical America exposes the online version as “unreal,” since online life is quite real in its own way, and our national parks and roadside attractions aren’t the places where most Americans live their daily lives.

Seeing America gives you hope for America.


Quit, Joe, Quit! Biden could save the midterms with a one-term pledge.” via Steven L. Isenberg of The Washington Post — Biden should announce now that he will not run for re-election in 2024. He should not ask the Democratic Party, or the nation, to assume the risk of a second four-year term that would begin after he reached the age of 82. The conventional calculus argues that a President would be a fool to reveal such a plan before he has to because it would instantly undercut his ability to get anything of real significance accomplished. The midterm elections this November would become about key issues and the quality of individual House and Senate candidates rather than the merits of Biden’s presidency and whether voters feel he should run again.

As a 76-year-old, let me say: Biden is too old to run again” via Robert Reich of The Guardian — At 79, Biden is the oldest President in American history. Concerns about his age top the list of why Democratic voters want the party to find an alternative for 2024. I don’t think this reflects an “ageist” prejudice. I speak with some authority. I’m now a sprightly 76, light years younger than our President. It’s not death that’s the worrying thing about a second Biden term. It’s the dwindling capacities that go with aging.

The President who stood still on Jan. 6” via The Wall Street Journal editorial board — Trump took an oath to defend the Constitution, and he had a duty as Commander in Chief to protect the Capitol from a mob attacking it in his name. He refused. He didn’t call the military to send help. He didn’t call Pence to check on the safety of his loyal VP. Instead, he fed the mob’s anger and let the riot play out. In the 18 months since, Trump has shown not an iota of regret.

There is no remaining Christian case for Trump” via David French for The Dispatch — One of the most amusing recurring conversations of the last six years is the omnipresent effort to explain to me “why Christians support Trump” — as if I need tweet threads or pointed essays to explain to me my own friends, many members of my family, and my own church and neighborhood. But there is a key difference between then and now. If the early church was admonished to love its enemies, bless those who persecute them, and exhibit the fruit of the spirit even when they’re being persecuted and massacred, it’s just hard for me to believe the threat of Hillary Clinton or Biden was so great that it justified the lies and cruelty inherent in Trumpian political engagement. They’ve absorbed the lessons Trump taught. Fight the left with profane anger. Never apologize.

Why Trump is weakening” via Ross Douthat of The New York Times — Judging by early Primary polling, the DeSantis strategy is working at the Trump strategy’s expense. DeSantis is effectively tied with the former President in recent polls of New Hampshire and Michigan, and leading him easily in Florida, which is DeSantis’s home state, yes, but now Trump’s as well. These early numbers don’t prove that Trump can be beaten. But they strongly suggest that if his case for 2024 is only that he was robbed in 2020, it won’t be enough to achieve a restoration.

What could save Democrats from a midterm catastrophe?” via Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report — At a time when very little, if anything, is “normal” about American politics, we have come to expect the unexpected. While the House looks very, very likely to flip into Republican hands and the Senate more likely than not, what kind of event might keep at least one if not both chambers in Democratic control? Democrats fervently hope that the reversal of Roe v. Wade, gun legislation, and the findings of the Jan. 6 committee might galvanize their voters enough to retain at least one chamber. Should Trump decide, against the advice of nearly every Republican strategist alive, to announce his candidacy before the midterm elections in November, he might energize Democratic voters enough to minimize their losses at the margins.

The real reason Democrats are losing ground on education” via Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic — On many bygone Election Days, voters trusted Democrats more than Republicans on the issue of education — but that may not hold this November if recent polling is to be believed. In one question, likely voters were asked to choose the most important among a list of “different goals that public schools might try to achieve.” Here are the goals that finished last: “Making sure all children can pursue their dreams” and “giving children the freedom to be themselves.” While several questions asked about “critical race theory,” no results suggested that it was among the most important issues to majorities or even large pluralities of likely voters.

DeSantis and his allies in Florida are trampling on our First Amendment rights” via Amy Turkel for the Tampa Bay Times — DeSantis has restricted Floridians’ First Amendment rights and repeatedly pushed for laws that violate basic American freedoms. During this year’s session of the Florida Legislature, these assaults accelerated. The First Amendment guarantees the rights to free speech, a free press, freedom to assemble and protest peacefully, the right to petition the government for change, and freedom from the imposition of religious beliefs by the government. DeSantis championed the anti-protest bill, House Bill 1. You could be charged for an offense committed by people who were total strangers to you, even if you were protesting peacefully. In 2021, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker struck down that provision of the law.

Smoking on the beach and the vagaries of living in the ‘free state of Florida’” via Frank Cerabino of The Palm Beach Post — The town of Palm Beach is about to ban cigarette smoking on its public beaches. It’s not surprising. Palm Beach has always been leery of outsiders using its public beaches, which explains the $5-per-hour parking meters, the padlocking of beach access points, and why the main beach had lacked restrooms for years. What’s helping Palm Beach is a new state law that allows local governments to restrict cigarette smoking at public beaches and parks.


— ALOE —

First ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ trailer arrives” via Aaron Couch and Borys Kit of The Hollywood Reporter — Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is filmmaker Ryan Coogler’s follow-up to his 2018 film that became a cultural touchstone and earned a best picture nomination at the Oscars. He wrote a sequel for Panther star Chadwick Boseman, but the actor died in 2020 after privately battling colon cancer. So, the filmmaker got to work on how to move forward while honoring Boseman’s legacy. At Comic-Con Saturday, Coogler reflected on bringing footage from the first Panther to the convention in 2017 and sitting next to Boseman, who hadn’t seen the footage yet. The actor was excited and grabbed the filmmaker’s shoulder with his left hand.

To watch the trailer, click on the image below:

Marvel’s Kevin Feige unveils phase 5 and 6 plans, new ‘Avengers’ movies at Comic-Con” via Aaron Couch and Borys Kit of The Hollywood Reporter — Marvel Studios boss Feige made a triumphant return to Comic-Con Saturday and got a hero’s welcome. The executive announced a pair of Avengers movies and revealed the official title for the next saga he’s been building. The Infinity Saga, which concluded with Avengers: Endgame, helped make Marvel the biggest brand in Hollywood. The new batch of projects fall under the title Multiverse Saga. “I’m unbelievably excited,” Feige said, noting there were times he wondered if he’d ever get back to the -Con, which was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021.

James Gunn gets cheers for first ‘Guardians of the Galaxy 3’ footage at Comic-Con” via Aaron Couch and Mia Galuppo of The Hollywood Reporter — Gunn has confirmed that the third Guardians of the Galaxy movie is the end of the story for his group of Guardians characters. “This is the end of that story,” said Gunn at Comic-Con to disappointed groans from the Hall H crowd. “I’m sorry. Some stories have an end. It doesn’t mean everybody dies.” Still, even with that news, the first trailer shown at Comic-Con got massive cheers from the crowd. The footage, set to The Flaming Lips’ “Do You Realize,” shows Gamora talking about how she doesn’t remember her time with the Guardians, the first glimpse of Will Poulter as villain Adam Warlock, and Rocket’s origin story.

‘Lord of the Rings’ series trailer debuts at Comic-Con” via Lindsey Bahr of The Associated Press — Amazon Studios unveiled a new trailer for the upcoming “Lord of the Rings” series “The Rings of Power” for Comic-Con audiences Friday. The eight-part series, set to debut on Prime Video on Sept. 2, will be set thousands of years before the events of J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings.” New episodes will be released weekly, with a reported budget of $465 million. Executive producers J.D. Payne and Patrick McKay will focus the show on Tolkien’s Second Age of Middle-earth when kingdoms are forming and falling and evil forces loom and threaten to cover the world in darkness.

To watch the trailer, click on the image below:

Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ teaser debuts in theaters ahead of ‘Nope’: Intense look at atomic bomb drama” via Zack Sharf of Variety — The official first trailer for “Oppenheimer” is debuting exclusively in movie theaters. The brief teaser is attached to showings of Jordan Peele’s “Nope,” which makes sense as Universal Pictures back both movies. “Nope” screenings began as early as 4:30 p.m. ET in New York City on Thursday, July 21. Nolan did a similar theatrical-only release in August 2019 for the “Tenet” teaser, which played in front of “Hobbs & Shaw” screenings. The first “Tenet” teaser was never released online. It’s unclear if Universal will debut this “Oppenheimer” teaser online.


Celebrating today are state Rep. Anika Omphroy, Liz Brown, VP of Federal Affairs for Children’s Hospital Association, Shannon Colavecchio, Melissa Dempsey, Kayla Lott, and Dave Shepp of The Southern Group. Belated best wishes to INFLUENCE 100’er Mike Fernandez.

Never forgotten is the late Steve Madden, whose birthday was today.


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, 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. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.

One comment

  • Tom

    July 25, 2022 at 7:01 am

    Peter, it’s the economy stupid!
    Florida’s 2.8% unemployment level is record breaking. Just 300,000 not working.

    Governor Ron, greatest Gov in America saved Florida. Florida’s economy is the economic example for all states. It’s the economy stupid.

    Rising tide for all, not a few tacos from Jill and Joe.

Comments are closed.


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