Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 8.4.22

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Your day is better when you start it with a first read on what's happening in Florida politics.

Good Thursday morning.

Six years ago, the very first sale of medical marijuana in Tallahassee was to a customer who had to be medically transported for two hours to the nearest ordering physician.

Fast forward to today and there are more than 735,000 registered patients, over 2,400 physicians, and 454 total dispensaries in the state. The medical marijuana industry in Florida has continued to evolve and expand to meet the changing needs of its patients; approved products have expanded from low-THC oil to include flower, edibles, concentrates, and more innovative and creative offerings.

The Florida Department of Health deserves immense credit for overseeing this program and playing a critical role in improving the lives of Floridians; it has not been an easy feat.

While there are now 22 licensed Medical Marijuana Treatment Centers (MMTCs), the undisputed market leader is Trulieve — and has been since Day One.

Trulieve started big — and keeps getting bigger.

The word “trailblazer” is an understatement regarding the nation’s largest cannabis company. Trulieve was one of the first licensees in the state, the first to open a dispensary, the first to sell, and the first to make home delivery.

Then, last October, Trulieve acquired Harvest and became not only the largest MMTC in Florida but one of the leading multistate operators nationwide. Headquartered in Tallahassee with over 65% of its dispensaries in its home state, Trulieve has made it its mission to invest back into the communities where they operate.

In 2016, Trulieve employed less than 75 people companywide. In 2022, the cannabis leader employs over 10 times that many in Gadsden County alone, where the company has its cultivation and processing facilities — a location chosen to bring reliable, well-paying jobs to a community often overlooked. As a majority-minority county, the economic impact that Trulieve has had by operating out of Gadsden County cannot be understated.

Since November 2021, an added 1,312 employees have been hired in the northern Florida market alone. During that time, the Gadsden County unemployment rate decreased from 4.1% to 3.3%, and the Jefferson County employment rate (where Trulieve recently opened a grow facility) decreased from 3.3% to 2.6%.

Apart from the economic impact, Trulieve has remained a model corporate citizen and made it clear that they are dedicated to giving back in ways that truly matter. Nonprofit partners across the state include Second Harvest of the Big Bend, Lutheran Social Services Pantry, Florida Justice Center Expungement Clinics, Epilepsy Alliance of Florida, Parkinson’s Foundation, and Boys and Girls Club of the Big Bend.

More recently, when many companies were closing their doors and laying people off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Trulieve expanded its statewide delivery fleet, continued hiring in large numbers, and made keeping patients and employees safe and protected a priority in their dispensaries and facilities.

Still, Trulieve continues to grow, bringing high-paying jobs to Florida at a steady pace. They know patients rely on high-quality medical cannabis products for relief, providing that is still their primary focus.

The growth seen in only six years has had a monumental impact on the state’s economic landscape and the lives of hundreds of thousands of patients. The future of the medical marijuana industry is truly anyone’s guess, but the future looks as bright as the Florida sun.

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Gov. Ron DeSantis has more backers than any potential Republican presidential candidate not named Donald Trump — and while the former President is still No. 1 in most GOP Primary polls, the momentum has been tilting toward DeSantis for a while.

Sportsbooks have noticed the trend and started shifting the line in DeSantis’ direction.

According to OddsChecker, sportsbooks now list the Governor as the favorite to win the 2024 Presidential election, not just the Republican nomination.

Oddsmakers give Ron DeSantis the benefit of momentum.

His current odds of becoming the next President are +350 — the equivalent of a 22.2% chance. Trump is a hair behind at +360 (21.7%). Oddsmakers aren’t big on a second term for President Joe Biden, currently sitting at +780 (11.4%).

While sportsbooks are high on DeSantis, bettors have yet to follow suit. Just under half (49.9%) of bets in the past week are that Trump will return to the White House. DeSantis is in a distant No. 2 at 12.3%.

Biden, meanwhile, isn’t even the top among Democrats. That title belongs to California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who recently signaled he’s considering a bid by running anti-DeSantis TV ads in Florida.

Of course, DeSantis’ 2024 odds are contingent on him winning re-election in the fall, which OddsChecker spokesperson Kyle Newman said is far from guaranteed.

“If he can’t fend off either Charlie Crist or Nikki Fried in November, then it’s going to be difficult to win the Republican nomination, let alone the Presidential election,” Newman said.

“The polls say that’s a very real possibility, especially if Crist wins the Democratic nomination. Still, sportsbooks are giving DeSantis -1100 odds or an implied 91.7% chance to win re-election. Are they overestimating DeSantis or are the polls underestimating him?”

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💸💸💸 Gov. DeSantis’ campaign and committee coffers are overflowing with cash and he’s on pace to break many state-level fundraising records. His donor sheet not only includes prominent Trump donors who have cut six- or even seven-figure checks, it features hundreds of pages worth of small-dollar donors. Why? There are many reasons, and POLITICO Florida’s Matt Dixon has a video explaining a half-dozen of them.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@BrianSchatz: It is time to re-evaluate the conventional wisdom about the midterms after this vote in Kansas. People are mad as hell at having their rights taken away.

@ClaireMC: Thing I never thought I would say …. thank God for Kansas.

@RexChapman: Pay attention to all of the right-wingers tonight who aren’t coming to Alex Jones’ rescue on social media because they know they’ve communicated with Alex Jones via email and/or text in the past three years.

Tweet, tweet:

@FSWisen: The DeSantis ad reminds me of TPaw’s 2012 ads. Slick. Well produced. But ineffective as a political ad.

@LtGovNunez: As a result of Biden’s dangerous open border policies, drug trafficking and overdoses linked to fentanyl and other opioids have reached a record high. @GovRonDeSantis’ new recovery program will help Floridians suffering from addiction recover from substance abuse.

@SierraClubFL: Let’s be clear: @CharlieCrist created a climate change task force as Governor, has advocated against offshore drilling as a congressman, and has been a vocal advocate for clean water. This is an easy choice for environmentalists.

@DrNealDunn2: Today, we lost my colleague, @RepWalorski & two of her dedicated staffers. Jackie was a kind soul & a real team player. I know how difficult this must be for her family, her team, & their families. They all will truly be missed.

@BadDebutante: The wonderful Trevor Noah on the Kabul drone strike: “America never forgets — unless it’s slavery.”

Tweet, tweet:

— DAYS UNTIL —

The 10-day Florida Python Challenge kicks off — 1; Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner novel ‘Heat 2’ publishes — 5; Early voting begins for Primaries — 9; FBHA’s annual conference, BHCon2022, begins — 13; FRLA’s Operations and Marketing Summit — 14; ‘House of the Dragon’ premieres on HBO — 17; 2022 Florida Primary — 19; launch window opens for NASA to launch the Artemis I — 24; 2022 Florida Chamber Technology & Innovation Solution Summit — 27; ‘Andor’ premieres on Disney+ — 27; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 29; NFL Opening Night: LA Rams vs. Buffalo Bills — 35; 2022 Emmys — 39; JMI’s 2022 Tech & Innovation Summit begins — 42; final season of ‘Atlanta’ begins — 42; vote-by-mail mailing deadline for General Election — 63; deadline to register for General Election — 67; 22-23 NHL season begins — 68; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 82; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 82; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 83; Early voting begins for General Election — 86; 2022 General Election — 96; ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ premieres — 99; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 99; FITCon 2022 begins — 105; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 105; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 109; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 109; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 110; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 118; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 118; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 134; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 197; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 215; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 232; 2023 Session Sine Die — 274; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 274; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 302; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 351; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 456; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 470; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 603; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 722; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 722; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 827; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 1,002.

— TOP STORIES —

After 16 Florida elections, Charlie Crist gears up for one more” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — Supporters think Crist has a better chance of beating DeSantis than his opponent in the Democratic Primary, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Fried. “He’s like a comfortable pair of boots that will potentially get the job done,” said Fernand Amandi, a Democratic consultant uninvolved in the race.

Whichever candidate wins, the chances in the General are slim, observers say.

Crist is backed by labor unions and key state lawmakers who point to his recent history as a Democrat. They draw comparisons between Crist’s playbook and Biden’s winning strategy in 2020 as examples of moderation and civility.

No one serving in public office in Florida has a record like Crist’s: On the ballot in 16 elections over 34 years, receiving more than 16.5 million votes and elected to five different positions, as state Senator, Education Commissioner, Attorney General, Governor and Congressman.

There’s one reason he keeps doing it, those who know him say: He genuinely likes running for office and being in office. His ability to connect with voters is legendary. His political opponents have remarked on what a nice guy he is.

As ballots start rolling in, a refresher course on Charlie Crist. Image via @CharlieCrist/Twitter.

Nikki Fried is running for Governor. Is she an insider or an outsider?” via Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times — Examine Fried’s life closely enough, and it’s hard to see her as an outsider. Fried, a lifelong striver and meticulous planner, wants to be on the inside. And she believes the way to get there is by consensus. “I like to break the system from the inside out and make a difference once I get in there,” Fried said.

Lawton Chiles, the former Governor and a UF alum, once called his races for state Legislature “minor league” compared to the “hardball” campaigns that consumed student government in Gainesville.

Fried was attracted to politics because it gave her a chance to bridge divides. But she wasn’t prepared for the environment Chiles described: She remembers wearing Birkenstocks and a Grateful Dead T-shirt to her first student senate meeting. Others wore blue blazers and bow ties.

In interviews, Fried and her contemporaries described the scene as cutthroat, an old boys’ network with a direct pipeline into the upper echelons of Florida politics. A woman hadn’t been elected student body president in more than a decade. It was the kind of arena that taught a budding political junkie to build the right kind of connections and anticipate the moves of opponents.

Crist, Fried slam Ron DeSantis, lay out priorities at Florida media forum” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — Crist and Fried each made their case Wednesday for why Florida Democrats should choose them in the Aug. 23 Primary to take on DeSantis in November. Fried got into more detail on some of her policy proposals while getting in a dig or two at Crist, though fewer than usual, while Crist kept things simple and didn’t mention her at all. Fried and Crist were interviewed separately by a panel of journalists. Fried and Crist both called for the return of moviemaking to the state, while Fried cited Colorado as a state with a booming legal marijuana industry that Florida could emulate.

— 2022 —

DeSantis highlights COVID-19 response in opening campaign ad” via Gary Fineout of POLITICO Florida — DeSantis is launching the first campaign ad for his re-election with a minute-long commercial designed to reinforce his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, including his push to reopen schools and resist business lockdowns.

The ad is notable because it strikes a positive tone, which is a bit of departure from the Governor’s usually combative persona and his campaign rallying cry that he will not “back down” from fights with Democrats, the media and others he has decried as the liberal elite.

The ad includes images of DeSantis reading letters from several people who praise him for his decisions during the pandemic, although one writer also praises him for standing up to the “woke liberal media.” Off-screen voices say: “Without your leadership, we wouldn’t have been able to stay open. Because of you, my child has thrived through this pandemic. The monoclonal antibodies saved my mother’s life. I’m 11 years old and I’m glad I could go to school.”

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

DeSantis accuses Joe Biden White House of ‘taking lunch money from poor kids’ due to LGBTQ policy” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis, at a news conference Wednesday, spotlighted the 2021 ban of transgender athletes in amateur female sports and federal opposition: “We did that. I think most people agree it’s the proper thing to do. Biden is now threatening to penalize states that have taken basic commonsense actions like just recognizing the importance of women’s sports.” DeSantis then pointed to a policy from the U.S. Department of Agriculture tying its programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), to compliance with Title IX protections that extend to matters of sexual orientation and gender identity. So far, however, the USDA has not explicitly threatened to revoke any funding. “They’re threatening to take away lunch money from poor kids as punishment from us protecting women’s sports. Think about how deranged that is,” DeSantis asserted.

—“DeSantis Press Secretary Christina Pushaw talks Florida, freedom, and fighting back” via Chris Queen of PJ Media

Jeanette Nuñez calls allegations made against her ‘completely false’” via Jacqueline Quynh of CBS Miami — CBS4 first reported Friday, that longtime Miami-Dade School Board Member Dr. Marta Perez is accusing Lt. Gov. Nuñez of intimidating her staff and supporters, insisting they do not support her re-election campaign. “I don’t know what staffer she’s referring to. I have never sat down with anyone and told them that if they don’t support our preferred candidate in this race or any other race. As you know, we’re involved in 29 races across the state,” Nuñez said. Nuñez called the allegations coming from Perez completely false.

Marco Rubio celebrates passage of landmark burn pit legislation with new campaign video” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — U.S. Sen. Rubio is taking a digital victory lap following the passage of landmark legislation expanding health care benefits for veterans suffering from illnesses due to their in-service exposure to burn pits. On Wednesday, less than 24 hours after the Senate overwhelmingly approved the bipartisan bill by an 86-11 vote, Rubio’s re-election campaign released a new 30-second video describing him as “a driving force” behind passing the bill. Known as the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxins Act (PACT Act), the bill includes key provisions from legislation Rubio and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand introduced in early 2021, including removing a requirement that veterans must prove a direct connection between their military service and a health condition for more than 20 categories of diseases.

To watch the video, click on the image below:

Matt Gaetz and the ‘R’ word: Florida’s Democratic Primary takes bitter detour” via Gary Fineout of POLITICO — Democratic U.S. Rep. Crist is pausing his usual campaign stance as a “happy warrior.” In a sign that the Democratic Primary for Governor has entered a bitter new phase, the Florida Congressman has hit rival Fried with a blistering new mailer that calls her a “Republican lobbyist for big tobacco and insurance companies” and notes her previous friendship with Republican U.S. Rep. Gaetz. The mailer is hitting the mailboxes of Democratic voters this week — about three weeks before the Aug. 23 Primary to decide who will take on DeSantis in an election where the incumbent is a heavy favorite to win.

Direct mail round-up: Fried targets tech-savvy Democrats doubting Crist” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Forget low-information voters; the Fried campaign is targeting Democratic voters who do more than glance at their campaign mailers before pitching them in the recycle bin. A new set of mailers from Fried has no Photoshop or evil-looking lighting on her Gubernatorial Primary opponent Crist. On most of the four examples hitting Democratic mailboxes over the last two weeks, reading is required to realize these mailers are a burn on Crist.

Fried, Crist pour more cash into TV adsFried’s gubernatorial campaign has dropped another $85,720 on TV ads. The buy, brokered through Canal Partners Media, will place ads on broadcast Thursday through Monday. It directs $34,950 to the Miami media market, $30,330 to the Orlando media market and $20,440 to the Jacksonville media market. Meanwhile, Crist’s gubernatorial campaign dropped $47,941 on ads that will air Friday through Tuesday on cable channels including AMC, BET, Bravo, CNN, Discovery, Food Network, HGTV, MSNBC, TLC, TNT and USA, among others. Crist’s new buy includes $30,149 in airtime in the Orlando market and $17,792 in the Miami market.

—”Florida Home Builders Association endorses Jimmy Patronis in re-election bid” via Aimee Sachs of Florida Politics

Florida Chamber endorses Ashley Moody for re-election” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — The Florida Chamber of Commerce is backing Attorney General Moody in her re-election bid. In announcing its endorsement, the Chamber highlighted the incumbent’s dedication to the rule of law and work to combat human trafficking. “As Attorney General, Ashley has continued making Florida stronger, safer, and more secure by being a tireless advocate for law enforcement and leading the fight to combat human trafficking, all while upholding the rule of law in our judicial system and fighting back against federal overreach to protect Florida’s future,” Florida Chamber President and CEO Mark Wilson said in a statement. Although the incumbent faces no opponents in the upcoming Republican Primary, three Democrats are vying for the chance to face her in November.

Daniel Uhlfelder dons ‘Grim Reaper’ gear again as Attorney General race grinds on” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — Uhlfelder, the Walton County lawyer who gained a modicum of fame dressing as the Grim Reaper to bash DeSantis’ COVID-19 policies, is donning the black hooded cape and grabbing his sickle again. At least, he did for five minutes Wednesday outside a Circle K on Thomasville Road in Tallahassee before a pair of police officers politely requested the Democratic candidate for Attorney General and the handful of assembled reporters to leave the property. Uhlfelder said he wanted to bring attention to high gas prices, insurance premiums and shady tactics of Florida Power & Light, and the lack of action by Moody.

— 2022: CONG —

Democrats might avoid a Midterm wipeout” via Ronald Brownstein of The Atlantic — The more realistic route for Democrats in key races may be to defend, as much as possible, the inroads they made into the white-collar suburbs of virtually every major metropolitan area during the past three elections. Although compared with 2020, the party will likely lose ground with all groups; Democrats are positioned to hold much more of their previous support among college-educated than noncollege voters, according to Ethan Winter, a Democratic pollster. Calculations by Catalist, a Democratic-voter-targeting firm, and Michael McDonald, a University of Florida political scientist who specializes in voter turnout, have found that voters with a college degree consistently make up about three to four percentage points more of the electorate in a midterm than in a presidential election.

Brady Duke drops $13K on ads — Republican candidate Duke spent $13,602 on ads in his bid for Florida’s 7th Congressional District. The buy, placed through Strategic Media Services. covers cable ads that will air Monday through Sunday in the Orlando media market. Cable networks in the buy include CNBC, Fox Business and Fox News, among others. Duke’s new ad buy follows up on $13,400 in airtime purchased by his campaign for ads this week. Duke is one of several Republicans running for CD 7, which covers Seminole County and southern Volusia County and is likely to perform Republican in the fall. The seat is open due to incumbent Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy deciding not to run for re-election.

Republican Scotty Moore launches CD 9 TV commercial to ‘save America’” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Moore, a self-described “America first candidate,” is launching his first TV commercial in the Orlando market, vowing to help “save America.” Moore is in a four-way Republican Primary Election battle for Florida’s 9th Congressional District. Moore, Jose Castillo, Adianis Morales and Sergio Ortiz all seek a shot at three-term Democratic U.S. Darren Soto in the November General Election. His 30-second spot, “Scotty with a Y,” is introductory. It is not aimed at Castillo, Morales or Ortiz. Instead, it’s aimed at contrasting Moore with a Democratic House of Representatives run by Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Soto.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

CD 10 Democratic debate focuses on who can be most effective” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — A debate among six Democrats battling for Florida’s 10th Congressional District often brought out cordial, even friendly moments, shared memories, compliments, respectful deferrals, joviality — even a high-five. On the surface, it looked as if some were having fun. But that was only among candidates who arguably are in the second tier of election prospects. And some of it came at the expense of the presumed front-runners. During a debate held by the Tiger Bay Club of Central Florida, state Sen. Randolph Bracy, the clear leader in the only poll officially released, and Gen-Z organizer Maxwell Alejandro Frost, the clear leader in campaign money and endorsements, took shots at each other. Former U.S. Reps. Corrine Brown and Alan Grayson and the Rev. Terence Gray appeared as if they were enjoying it and as if they were playing a little with Bracy and Frost.

Pro-Kelli Stargel Super PAC grasps at straws in CD 15 attack ads” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — A political committee backing Stargel in her campaign for Florida’s 15th Congressional District has begun launching attack ads against the Lakeland Republican’s Primary rivals. The Florida Senate’s budget chief is up against former Secretary of State Laurel Lee, Rep. Jackie Toledo, and two others in the Republican Primary. The Conservative Warriors PAC is trying to help Stargel regain momentum — or slow her opponent’s — by peppering Hillsborough and Polk mailboxes with misleading ads slamming Lee and Toledo. One mailer claims Lee “caved on election integrity” by refusing to do a “forensic audit” of the 2020 election results. The wording conceals that the 2020 results were audited and the state, by law, audits all election results.

— MORE 2022 —

Big fundraising, big buys in southwest Broward’s SD 35 Democratic Primary” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — As the days tick down until a rare Primary of one of the state’s Democratic leaders, Lauren Book’s Senate re-election campaign has raised six figures and spent as much in 20 days. Reports for campaign finance activity between July 2 and July 22 show that between her personal account and her two committees, Leadership for Broward and Leadership for Florida, the Senate Democratic Leader still has $2.2 million to drop in her contest, her first ballot challenge since her first 2016 election. Meanwhile, her challenger, Barbara Sharief, has gone through more than half the $538,000 she added to her campaign accounts.

Lauren Book launches closing ad in SD 35 Primary — Senate Democratic Leader Book has released her closing broadcast ad in the Democratic Primary for Senate District 35. Titled “Our Choice,” the spot features resident testimonials on why they’re proud to support the incumbent Democratic leader and working mom — from protecting access to health care to passing laws to keep our neighborhoods and kids safe and cutting costs for Florida families. “For me, the choice is clear: I’m voting for Lauren Book. She’s always fought for access to health care and safer neighborhoods,” says a voter named Tiffany. Another voter, Thelma, continues: “She fights for our children, so she’s earned our vote.”

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

2 Republicans seek to take on Anna Eskamani in GOP House District 42 Primary via Abigail Hasebroock of the Orlando Sentinel — Two Republicans are vying for a seat in the Florida Legislature for HD 42, with the winner of the GOP Primary taking on Democrat state Rep. Eskamani. Competing for a spot in the General Election are Bonnie Jackson, an international law attorney, and David Dwyer, a public insurance adjuster. The candidates’ platforms largely overlap, meaning their primary differences manifest in their backgrounds and priorities. Both said they believe in stricter abortion laws, expanding gun rights and granting autonomy to parents regarding their children’s public education experience, especially in the form of DeSantis’ Parental Rights in Education bill, which critics call “don’t say gay.”

—”Reject Republican who won’t disavow Proud Boys in House Primary 106” via the Miami Herald editorial board

—”Freshman Florida lawmaker brought home some wins for District 107” via the Miami Herald editorial board

—”Hardworking lawmaker earns chance to represent new House District 108” via the Miami Herald editorial board

Daniella Levine Cava threatens to sue over misleading photo with HD 113 candidate” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — A lawyer representing Miami-Dade County Mayor Levine Cava is warning a Democratic candidate for state office to stop using her photo in advertisements or face legal recourse. A recent mailer sent to voters includes a picture of Levine Cava with Biscayne Neighborhood Association President Andres Althabe, who is running for the open seat representing House District 113. The ad says Althabe campaigned for the Mayor, but it does not say she endorsed him. On Tuesday, lawyer and former state Rep. Juan-Carlos Planas sent Althabe a cease-and-desist letter. Planas said that using Levine Cava’s picture, Althabe may still mislead voters into thinking she supports him over lawyer A.J. D’Amico in this month’s Democratic Primary.

—“Planning to vote in the Miami-Dade and Broward elections? How to cast your ballot early” via Michelle Marchante of the Miami Herald

Brevard County Commission puts on ballot third-time tax for environmental lands” via Jim Waymer of Florida Today — Conservationists twice persuaded Brevard County voters to tax themselves to protect green space, with taxes that ultimately expire. Now, they’ll ask voters to pay again, for another two decades, to save the threatened Florida scrub jay, gopher tortoises, and opportunities for hiking, biking and experiencing nature in less intrusive ways. By a 3-1 vote, Brevard County Commission decided Tuesday to put a renewal of the Environmentally Endangered Lands or EEL tax on the Nov. 8 ballot. Commissioner John Tobia dissented, citing lost tax revenue, inflation, increased borrowing costs and failure to maintain current EEL lands.

— STATEWIDE —

>>>Gov. DeSantis will hold a press conference in Tampa at the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. AG Ashley Moody will also be there. 10:00 a.m.

Send in the Marines: DeSantis defends ex-military teachers over education majors” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis is vowing to “keep plowing forward” with plans to allow military veterans to teach in Florida classrooms, suggesting Wednesday that vets may be better suited to teaching than an education major. “You give me somebody who has four years of experience as a Devil Dog over somebody who has four years of experience at Shoehorn U, and I will take the Marine every day of the week and twice on Sunday,” DeSantis said during a news conference in Brevard County. DeSantis made the comments defending a Senate bill last year that allowed for an alternative pathway to teaching certification for military veterans, a measure that cleared the House and Senate unanimously.

Who would be better teachers — veterans or education majors? Ron DeSantis has an opinion.

DeSantis had to go back 75 years to justify his war on drag queens” via Michael Daly of the Daily Beast — When DeSantis made it known he wants to revoke the liquor license of a Miami restaurant that welcomes children to a weekend “drag brunch,” the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) went back 75 years and dusted off a Florida Supreme Court case involving what was variously called the Ha Ha Club and the Club Ha Ha. The Ha Ha of Hallandale featured female impersonators and its very name signaled that, unlike strip clubs, it was not about seedy sex, but campy fun. It had less to do with a leer than a laugh, and it drew enough prominent people that the County Commissioners overruled the city officials who initially refused to issue it a liquor license.

Florida will not declare a state of emergency over monkeypox, DeSantis says” via Cindy Krischer Goodman of the Orlando Sentinel — DeSantis said Wednesday he will not declare a public health emergency over the monkeypox outbreak despite more than 500 cases in the state. At the same time, DeSantis’ Surgeon General Joe Lapado reminded the public that the efficacy of the Jynneos vaccine now given as protection from monkeypox is still uncertain. California, New York and Illinois have declared a state of emergency over the rapidly spreading monkeypox outbreak. The declaration often helps with the logistics and coordination between state and local departments working to respond to the crisis.

Florida fights soaring rate of fentanyl overdoses with new statewide program” via Cindy Krischer Goodman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — DeSantis announced Wednesday a new statewide program aimed at suppressing the state’s soaring death rate from fentanyl overdoses. At a news briefing in Brevard County, DeSantis said fentanyl “ruins lives” and has become laced in other substances leading to deaths. “Fentanyl overdoses make up 70% of all overdoses in the state of Florida,” he said. The state will take a model successfully used to curb addiction in Palm Beach County and expand it to 12 more Florida counties.

DeSantis says doctors who operate on minors with gender dysphoria ‘need to get sued’” via Selim Algar of the New York Post — DeSantis called for doctors who perform sex reassignment surgeries on minors to be sued. “They talk about these very young kids getting gender-affirming care,” DeSantis said, who used air quotes while using the phrase. “What they don’t tell you what that is that they are giving very young girls double mastectomies; they want to castrate these young boys — that’s wrong.” Several of DeSantis’ press reps have questioned the “gender-affirming care” phrase in recent months, arguing that it doesn’t specify the procedures in some cases.

Jimmy Patronis: Don’t let ‘pig butchering’ cryptocurrency scam make you squeal” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — Scammers are aiming to “fatten up” unwary cryptocurrency investors before making off with their dough as part of a “pig butchering” scheme, Patronis warns. “In Florida, we embrace emerging technology and innovation, but consumers must always stay on guard for scams, especially as new financial products like Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies become increasingly popular,” Patronis said. The scheme is a form of “romance scam” where ostensible online dating paramours convince their partner to invest more and more sums into a fake cryptocurrency investment.

Jimmy Patronis warns about ‘pig butchering’ crypto scams. Image via @JimmyPatronis/Twitter.

Take it from a clown reporter, some funny business on The Capitolist website” via Mark Woods of The Florida Times-Union — Brian Burgess, the publisher and editor-in-chief of The Capitolist, sent an email to the consulting firm, floating an idea for how they also could have control over what appears in Florida newspapers. Buy them. Purchase papers owned by Gannett and, as if newspapers haven’t been gutted enough in recent years, turn them into what he called “ghost” operations. While Burgess did specifically mention the Times-Union as one of the Gannett papers in Florida, he didn’t specify whom he considers to be clown reporters.

More days with more coastal flooding coming, NOAA says” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — Coastal living is baked into Florida culture, but multimillion-dollar second homes along beaches and new developments along estuaries are going to be an endangered species if sea levels rise with the expected quickness to their expected levels over the next decades. The scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) produced reports referencing data showing record-breaking high-tide flooding caused by sea-level rise over the past year, and which is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.

Spotted — At the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) Conference in Denver: Sens. Jennifer Bradley (with former Sen. Rob Bradley), Jeff Brandes, Danny Burgess and Audrey Gibson; Reps. Christine Hunschofsky, Spencer Roach, Felicia Robinson and Marie Woodson; Amy Bisceglia, Sarah Clements, Cristal Cole, Gus Corbella, Hayden Dempsey, Maggie Gerson, Devron Gibbons, Joe Gibbons, Zach Hubbard, Marva Johnson, Fred Karlinsky, Natalie Kato, Stephanie Kunkel, RJ Meyer, Vanessa Thompson Meyer, Caitlyn Murray, Casey Reed, Tara Reid, Bill Rubin, Stephanie Smith, Tim Stanfield, Brooke Tiner, Nicole Washington, Alan Williams and Joe York.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Leader of Bridges of Love denies U.S. Sen. Rubio’s accusations that the group works for Cuba” via Nora Gámez Torres of the Miami Herald — The leader of the anti-embargo group Bridges of Love denied the organization has ties to the Cuban government, following accusations made by Rubio that its members are acting as unregistered foreign agents of Cuba. In a letter Monday, Rubio asked the FBI to open an investigation into the organization’s activities. In a phone call from Havana, Carlos Lazo, the high school teacher who founded the group, said he was not aware of any work he or other members have carried out that would be considered a breach of the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which requires people and entities working as “agents” acting under the direction of foreign governments or organizations to register with the U.S. Department of Justice.

Cuban leader Miguel Díaz-Canel greets Cuban American activist Carlos Lazo during a meeting at the Palace of the Revolution in Havana. Image via ESTUDIOS REVOLUCIÓN/Twitter.

— JAN. 6 —

Well, the cover-up sure isn’t making Jan. 6 look any better” via David A. Graham of The Atlantic — Last month, the public learned that the Secret Service had deleted, or negligently allowed the deletion of, texts surrounding the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Last week, The Washington Post reported that texts for top officials in the Department of Homeland Security are also missing. And yesterday, CNN reported that the Pentagon wiped the phones of top defense officials, including messages from that day. The old cliché goes that the cover-up, not the crime, gets people in trouble. Usually, this means that whatever the initial misconduct is, the attempt to hide it provides the proof of a guilty mind or else the “process crime,” obstruction, tampering, etc., which ends up actually snaring the culprits in the legal system.

Missing texts are not a good look for the Secret Service.

Jan. 6 Committee prepares to subpoena Alex Jones’ texts, emails” via Adam Rawnsley and Asawin Suebsaeng of Rolling Stone — The Jan. 6 House committee is preparing to request the trove of Jones’ text messages and emails revealed Wednesday in a defamation lawsuit filed by victims of the Sandy Hook massacre. Sandy Hook victims’ attorney Mark Bankston told Jones that his attorney had mistakenly sent Bankston three years’ worth of the conspiracy theorist’s emails and text messages copied from his phone.

— EPILOGUE TRUMP —

Donald Trump meets with Viktor Orbán after immigration tirade” via Mario Parker of Bloomberg — Trump welcomed Hungarian Prime Minister Orbán to one of his luxury golf resorts barely a week after the Central European leader made remarks that have been compared to Nazi rhetoric. Trump released a statement saying it was “great spending time with my friend” and that the two were also celebrating Orbán’s April electoral victory, in which Trump endorsed him. Orbán’s presence however invited criticism and dismay following a July 23 speech in Romania in which he said that he wanted to prevent Hungary from becoming a “mixed-race” country and railed against a “flood” of migrants being “forced” on the country. Zsuzsanna Hegedus, who is Jewish and a longtime Orbán ally and adviser, resigned after the speech.

Donald Trump meets with Viktor Orbán, another far-right authoritarian. Image via CNN.

— MORE LOCAL: S. FL —

‘I wanna kill people.’ Jurors see Parkland shooter’s online comments, web searches” via David Ovalle of the Miami Herald — Nikolas Cruz promised online he would become a “professional school shooter” and scoured the internet for information about some of the nation’s deadliest mass killings. Cruz’s online history is a key point for prosecutors seeking to prove Cruz acted in a deliberate and calculated fashion in storming Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in February 2018, using an AR-15 rifle to shoot 14 students and three staff members fatally. The alarming comments on YouTube pages promising bloodshed and the dozens of online searches came in the months leading up to the massacre. The YouTube comments, posted in 2017 and early 2018, displayed Cruz’s seething rage and self-pity, professing “my life sucks,” “I hate everyone,” and wanting to kill “a ton of people and murder children.”

Nikolas Cruz’s online activity gives prosecutors a proverbial smoking gun.

Jurors to visit Parkland school shooting scene. Building still has blood stains, bullet holes” via David Ovalle of the Miami Herald — Jurors on Thursday morning will visit the freshman building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, where 14 students and three staff members were shot to death in Florida’s deadliest school shooting. The visit will take place as the state wraps up its case against former MSD student Cruz, who is facing the death penalty for 17 counts of first-degree murder. He pleaded guilty last fall, and the 12-person jury will only consider whether to sentence him to death or life in prison. The bloodstained and bullet-riddled three-story building has been locked but mainly kept intact since the massacre on Valentine’s Day of 2018. The jury visit will eventually clear the way for the 1200 building to be demolished by the school district.

— MORE LOCAL: C. FL —

‘We’re fighting against greed’: Hillsborough Commission approves protections for tenants” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Hillsborough County Commissioners have approved a measure to provide renters with more time to review their options if their landlords plan to increase rent by more than 5%. The provision, approved in a 6-0 vote, is an attempt to help tenants amid Tampa Bay’s housing crisis. The new rule requires landlords to give tenants 60 days’ notice of pending rent increases greater than 5% and at least 30 days’ notice if a lease is not being renewed. “We have had a real issue associated with housing and availability of housing, and it is critically important that individuals have enough time to adjust to their circumstance,” said Hillsborough County Commission Chair Kim Overman.

Hillsborough County makes headway in protecting renters. Image via Daniel Figueroa IV.

Central Florida ‘ghost’ candidate consultant pleads not guilty” via Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel — The political consultant who helped put a “ghost” candidate on the ballot in a 2020 Central Florida state Senate race pleaded not guilty to campaign finance-related charges Tuesday, during his first court appearance in the case. Eric Foglesong, 45, faces five charges, including three felonies, in connection with the scheme, which helped clear Republican Sen. Jason Brodeur’s path to victory in the competitive race. Foglesong helped independent candidate Jestine Iannotti, who was also charged, get her name on the ballot. Iannotti did not campaign for the position but was promoted in an advertising blitz as a progressive alternative in a clear attempt to siphon votes from Brodeur’s main opponent, Democrat Patricia Sigman.

Curt Smith wants Brevard County Commissioners to be able to serve three terms” via Ralph Chapoco of Florida Today — Brevard County Commissioners are looking into the possibility of not only extending their time on the dais but also trying to find a way of giving themselves a raise. At the end of Tuesday’s meeting, Commission Vice Chair Smith announced those two proposals, asking whether his colleagues would extend the limit that Commissioners can serve for another four-year term. “I am a big, big term limit guy,” Smith said. “But it wouldn’t be a bad idea if we had three terms available for Commissioners. I have not said anything prior to this because I thought our Charter Review (Commission) guys would bring it up.”

Judge candidate says Wayne Ivey offered to help secure appointment if she dropped out of race” via Eric Rogers and Bobby Block of Florida Today — Now, another candidate has come forward, saying that Sheriff Ivey also tried to interfere in her race for county judge — and offered to help secure her a spot as the county’s next State Attorney if she agreed to drop out of the contest. Like County Commission candidate Chris Hattaway and School Board candidate Shawn Overdorf, both current or former police officers, the source of the most recent allegations is a veteran of the criminal justice system and longtime public servant with a distinguished record. Kimberly Musselman, an assistant state attorney in Brevard County for nearly 20 years, said Ivey pursued her in May to bow out of the County Judge Group 4 race. Ivey has endorsed one of Musselman’s opponents, injunction for protection attorney Renee Torpy.

More reports of election meddling are dogging Wayne Ivey.

Officials: Thousands of Lake County residents emailed false voter information” via Katie Streit of Spectrum News — Lake County election officials told Spectrum News that thousands of residents have received emails containing false voter information. In response, Supervisor of Elections Alan Hays addressed the public Tuesday to set the record straight about mail-in ballot integrity. Officials said that misinformation and voter distrust are at an all-time high. In Lake County, Hays said that after a decade-long career in politics, those issues are new challenges his office is facing. “You can tell by the look of me — I’ve lived a long time,” Hays told Spectrum News. “And I have never seen it this bad; I’ve never heard of it being this bad. I think it’s disgraceful that political parties behave this way.”

Orlando airport’s contract workers seek better pay to afford living here” via Katie Rice of the Orlando Sentinel — Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union, which represents over 18,000 workers at the East Coast’s major airports, released Wednesday a survey that found contract workers at Florida’s largest airports overwhelmingly lack a livable wage and benefits. The situation poses a safety and security threat to passengers and other employees at Florida’s airports, according to the union. Exhausted and sick employees are poorly equipped to recognize and address threats, and high turnover means fewer workers have the experience to respond to hazards, it argued. The union wants airlines to require their contractors to pay employees more and offer better benefits, and it is pushing for national, state and local legislation to that end.

— MORE LOCAL: N. FLORIDA —

John Dailey complaint accuses opponent Kristin Dozier of coordinating with ‘dark money’ groups” via Aimee Sachs of Florida Politics — With less than three weeks before the Primary Election, Tallahassee Mayor Dailey filed complaints with the Florida Elections Commission accusing his opponent, Leon County Commissioner Dozier, of “shady and improper tactics” in coordination with “dark money” political committees. Dailey raised an issue with mailers sent out by a Jacksonville-based group called “Save Our City,” which he says doesn’t exist. However, a political committee called “Saving Our City PC” was formed on July 12 but has not disclosed contributions and expenditures.

Kristin Dozier landed on the wrong side of John Dailey.

—“Alachua County School Board District 1: Incumbent Tina Certain challenged by Daniel Fisher” via Gershon Harrell of The Gainesville Sun

Vision Northeast Florida drops mail backing Alyson McCullough” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — One mystery cleared when a new political mail piece hit Nassau County mailboxes, a new Fernandina Beach political action committee is definitely supporting District 4 County Commission candidate Alyson McCullough. The mailer, which includes the disclaimer “paid for by Vision Northeast Florida,” portrays McCullough as a family-first person, with a photo of her with her family and the text, “Alyson McCullough: She’s a mom, not a politician.” That line is reiterated on the opposite side of the piece, along with bullet points of policy philosophies, “responsible spending,” “efficient and transparent government,” and protecting “our freedoms and liberties.”

‘The entire county is ready for this to be heard’: Walton customary use trial set for 2023” via Tom McLaughlin of the Northwest Florida Daily News — A hearing date has been set for Walton County’s groundbreaking customary use lawsuit. At a hearing County Judge David Green set May 16, 2023, as the start date for a trial that is expected to run eight weeks on a four-day per week schedule. “It’s certainly going to be the longest trial I’ve ever attended,” Borowski said. A schedule has been created with dates as deadlines for discovery, exhibit lists and depositions. The first deadline is this month.

— TOP OPINION —

When it rains on Trump, it pours. And the deluge is just beginning.” via Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post — If you’ve paid attention to much of the mainstream media coverage of the House Jan. 6 committee hearings, you might think the proceedings wouldn’t change anybody’s mind. In fact, public opinion does shift when the media covers an alarming story for weeks on end. And with The Post’s bombshell report that the Justice Department is investigating Trump’s coup attempt, Trump’s loss of support and legal troubles will likely intensify. A poll shows the percentage of Republicans who want Trump to run for President in 2024 has fallen six points from February to 44%. Those who think Biden legitimately won rose from 62% in February to 69%. The percentage who didn’t think Biden legitimately won dropped six points.

— OPINIONS —

DeSantis sinks lower and lower. What a drag” via Randy Schultz of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Despite DeSantis’ criticism, Biden and Democrats, with occasional help from some Republicans, are the adults in the room. They’re the ones trying to solve real problems. Meanwhile, as housing and insurance costs soar in Florida, the Governor continues to focus on imagined problems. Such as drag shows with children present. DeSantis’ response to the entertainment at R House Restaurant in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood was a typical mix of low-grade farce and hypocrisy from the state’s petty tyrant.

‘History is repeating itself.’ Are DeSantis policies stoking racial divisions?” via C. Isaiah Smalls II of the Miami Herald — As DeSantis campaigns for re-election, Rev. R.B. Holmes, the pastor of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Tallahassee’s historically Black neighborhood of Frenchtown, and some other Black Floridians say their home state has regressed under the Republican Governor whose policies appear more geared toward capturing a national audience. They point to laws signed by DeSantis, from the “Stop Woke Act” to the anti-riot bill, and his unprecedented control over the redrawing of Florida’s congressional maps as evidence that he’s more concerned about White House aspirations than issues affecting Black communities.

The idea of turning to former military members as teachers has merit” via Joe Henderson of Florida Politics — DeSantis’ idea to allow military veterans who lack a four-year teaching degree a pathway to the classroom has merit. Yes, I said that. Of course, DeSantis can’t say good morning without throwing a sharp elbow, which is what he did on Wednesday with his trademark snark. Florida schools welcome back students over the next week, and administrators are scrambling to fill thousands of teaching jobs. A military veteran, in theory, has the discipline and demeanor to be successful in the classroom. However, that veteran also would have to complete certain subject area tests and other requirements to receive final certification. Under a pending Senate bill, they would have five years to do that.

— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —

— ALOE —

TV show visits Florida, following the journey your food takes getting to your kitchen” via Rod Stafford Hagwood of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — We’ve all heard the phrase farm-to-table, those hot buzzwords in the food/dining industry. But have you seen it in action? Now you can, says Chip Carter, the host/producer of “Where the Food Comes From,” a television series airing on the RFD-TV cable channel at 9:30 p.m. Thursdays. The first season launched in January and covered farming and processing of food, mostly throughout the southeastern United States. The second season, which is currently airing, includes shows about Florida and its wild-caught seafood industry; farming of broccoli, cabbage and eggplant as well as food banks.

To watch a preview of “Where the Food Comes From,” click on the image below:

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Happy birthday to Reps. Andrew Learned and Tom Leek and our friends, Ryan Anderson, Patrick Baskette, Marty Fiorentino, and Herbie Thiele.

___

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.


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#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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