Winner and Loser of the Week in Florida politics — Week of 7.31.22

Marco Rubio had a good week, but Florida Power & Light did not.

C.C. “Doc” Dockery was a successful businessman who wielded considerable political influence, particularly in the Republican Party. He was a staunch advocate for high-speed rail and co-founded the powerhouse Summit Consulting.

He walked comfortably with powerful people, and they sought his wisdom.

At his heart, though, Doc was a Polk County country boy who loved everyday people and listened to their stories. He liked to hunt, fish, travel and enjoy the peace of a day by the lake. Doc never sought the spotlight but never ran from it, either.

He died last week at the age of 89, and the ripples of his well-lived life will continue for countless years.

But this is also a love story, seen through the lens of his wife of 33 years, former GOP state Sen. Paula Dockery.

“He was the last of a kind, I think,” she told me. “He was my role model, my mentor, and my friend. Men loved him because he was a manly man, and women loved him because he was kind and gentle. Women told me he was the best hugger, and, yes, he was.

“He was a very private person, a very humble person, and he had an ethical core about him that you should be in public service to serve the public. He became disillusioned with politics because it had become such a cesspool that ignores the will of the voters.”

Their story began when Paula approached Charles E. Canady about getting into politics. Canady, at the time, was the Chief of Staff for then-U.S. Sen. Lawton Chiles.

“He said, ‘I can get you on Bob Graham’s staff,'” Dockery said. “I said, well, I never told you this, but I’m a Republican. He said, oh, in that case, you need to see Doc Dockery.”

She was going through a divorce at the time, and when she mentioned that to Doc, he replied with his trademark sage wisdom.

“He looked at me and said, ‘As someone who has been through a divorce, I can offer you neither congratulations nor condolences.’ I thought, wow, this guy understands it,” Paula said.

After they were married for about seven years, Paula said she wanted to run for public office. Doc had other plans at the time — travel, mostly. She tried to tell him that being a state lawmaker was just a part-time job and there would be plenty of time for travel.

“He told me that I didn’t understand,” she said. “He told me, ‘I’ve been there. I know what it takes.’ People assume he pushed me to run, but that wasn’t it. But when I decided to, he was behind me 100%.”

He was also a key figure in the decision of Tampa’s Bob Martinez to run for Governor in 1986. They maintained a lifelong friendship.

“One thing about Doc is he knew where he stood, and he put his time and money where he stood,” Martinez told the Ledger newspaper in Lakeland. “I think that is one of the things I remember most about Doc.

“He didn’t just talk the game, he played the game.”

We’ll leave you with the story of the buddy bench.

Doc loved to stop at a bench by Lake Hollingsworth in Lakeland and see who dropped by. It could be anyone — young, old, Black, White, it didn’t matter.

“He just listened to their stories,” Paula said. “Most of them didn’t know who he was, but he just listened to them. He said it was his buddy bench and the people who stopped by were his bench buddies. When we’d go to our summer home in North Carolina, he started a buddy bench there, too. That was just his way.

“I can’t even begin to think of life without Doc. He was my everything — my cheerleader, my strength, and my friend.”

A celebration of his remarkable life begins at 11 a.m. Thursday at First Lakeland United Methodist Church.

And after that, maybe sit down on a park bench and see who stops by. Say hello, and just listen to them. Be a buddy.


Honorable mention: Charlie Crist. The news keeps getting better for Crist in his quest to win the Democratic nomination for Governor.

St. Pete Polls released a survey showing Crist’s overwhelming support over Nikki Fried among registered Democratic voters.

Crist received 64.2% of those who said they had already voted compared to 24.8% for Fried. Only 19.9% were undecided or wouldn’t say. Overall, Crist had nearly 56% compared to 24.3% for Fried.

The poll had only a 2.7 percentage point margin of error.

Almost (but not quite) biggest winner: Laurel Lee. The former Florida Secretary of State entered the Republican CD 15 Primary late, but that doesn’t appear to matter.

St. Pete Polls gave Lee an overwhelming lead in the race for her party’s nomination.

Lee has almost 44% of likely Republican voters in the race, compared to 16% for state Sen. Kelli Stargel, who sits at 16% support, and 11% for Rep. Jackie Toledo.

There’s also this: Nearly a quarter of likely voters already sent in their ballots. Of those, 58% voted for Lee.

Lee didn’t enter the race until mid-May, but her presence appears to have turned an expected close race into a runaway. That’s barring something unforeseen, of course.

The biggest winner: Marco Rubio. Bipartisanship in Washington these days is about as rare as a Bigfoot sighting. But Rubio worked through some frustrating twists and turns and finally helped bring home the Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxins Act — aka the PACT Act.

And he worked with Democrats to accomplish that.

“We are finally doing what we should have done two decades ago,” Rubio said. “Once President (Joe) Biden signs this bill into law, our veterans will finally be able to access the care they desperately need and selflessly earned.”

The bill specifically addresses victims of toxins from burn pits used to destroy medical waste in combat areas. Thousands of soldiers who breathed in the pits’ fumes later developed various severe diseases.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs rejects about 70% of disability claims stemming from burn pit exposure for lack of evidence and data from the Defense Department.

Rubio has been a champion for expanding health care benefits for veterans by removing red tape. He and Democratic U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand introduced this bill in 2021 and enjoyed wide support from both major parties.

Despite a hiccup in late July that threatened its approval and led to a national crusade by comedian and veterans advocate Jon Stewart, the bill’s final version passed the Senate 86-11.

Rubio’s likely General Election Democratic opponent, Val Demings, has hammered him in TV ads for what she called “one of the worst voting records” in the Senate. This bill could help answer that charge.


Dishonorable mention: Lake County Republican Party. Ever since what’s-his-name from Mar-a-Lago began his baseless mantra about a rigged election (it wasn’t rigged), Republicans in many parts of the country see The Big Lie as a preemptive strike in their own races.

The more paranoia, the better.

That’s true in deep red Lake County, where Republicans are locked in mortal combat with County Elections Supervisor Alan Hays, who happens to be … A REPUBLICAN!

The Orlando Sentinel reported that an email showed up in thousands of inboxes with a Lake County GOP letterhead. It read, “Did you receive a vote by mail ballot? Whether you requested this ballot or not, this is one of the BIGGEST sources of election fraud.”

Hays was not amused, calling the email “outright lies.”

“It is completely absurd,” Hays told the newspaper.

He added, “I am not going to allow anybody — I don’t care Republican, Democrat, or anybody else — nobody is going to get away with telling lies about my office and the people who work there and administer elections.”

Hays is up for re-election in 2024 and knows what this could cost him.

He doesn’t care.

“I am not in this game to be elected,” he said. “I am in this game to administer elections the best way I can.”

Almost (but not quite) biggest loser: Andrew Warren. It became national news Thursday after Gov. Ron DeSantis suspended Warren from his job as Hillsborough County’s State Attorney.

That’s tantamount to firing him because Warren said in June that he wouldn’t prosecute women who received an abortion, nor would he prosecute doctors who provided that.

I hesitate to put him in this category because during his six years as Hillsborough’s twice-elected top prosecutor, Warren has been a champion for sense-based justice. He put away plenty of bad people, but he’s also not a lock ’em up and throw away the key person.

You can argue that the real losers are the Hillsborough voters who strongly approve of how Warren conducted his business.

But it’s an election year, and DeSantis wants the GOP base to see him as a head-crackin’, law-and-order leader. And Warren’s nuanced approach to prosecution made him a perfect target for a Governor who actively looks for those things.

Mind you, Warren hadn’t yet dealt with any of those cases, so one could argue that he was using his First Amendment right to free speech.

No matter.

It was chest-beating time for the Governor.

As usual, the decision delighted DeSantis’ supporters and infuriated opponents, which, I suppose, was the idea. That’s how he governs.

The state Senate, which sits up and barks at DeSantis’ command, will decide Warren’s fate. We all know how that will go.

However, there is a new face of opposition to governing by executive action. Warren’s time in the State Attorney’s office might be over, but his leadership role may be just beginning. In the meantime, though, the Governor may have actually elevated Warren’s stature.

The biggest loser: Florida Power & Light. It was bad last week when the word came out of FP&L officials bankrolling the “independent” website The Capitolist to function as an enforcer for things company officials wanted or wanted to stop.

But the drip, drip, drip of revelations paints an even darker picture.

POLITICO reported that FP&L has an exclusive, invitation-only lounge for lobbyists and lawmakers. It’s on the third floor of the company’s $2 million, 13,000 square foot downtown Tallahassee offices.

The utility is the nation’s largest power company, and the company admits it’s a place where lobbyists can make their cases to lawmakers.

“That’s its purpose; it’s the ‘friends of the FP&L program’ that are invited,” a person who has attended the bar multiple times told POLITICO. “If you’re there, you probably are already with them.”

FP&L maintains the arrangement is legal.

Democratic state Rep. Anna Eskamani isn’t so sure, saying she didn’t understand why the company needed something like this.

She told POLITICO, “Not only could this be a serious violation of Sunshine Laws and the legislature gift ban, but it all feeds into our collective concern that FP&L uses corrupt business practices to influence politicians, buy out media outlets, and undermine democracy.”

The Orlando Sentinel reported how the company kneecapped Democratic state Sen. José Javier Rodríguez for proposing a law in 2019 that would allow landlords to sell inexpensive rooftop solar power directly to their tenants.

Hey, wait a minute, that would have bypassed FP&L!

The Sentinel said company CEO Eric Silagy fired off a command two a couple of vice presidents.

He ordered, “I want you to make his life a living hell … seriously.”

Rodriguez lost his re-election bid.

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, a Tampa Democrat, has taken note.

And on Friday, the Miami Herald reported how FP&L manipulated a 2018 state Senate race in Gainesville to ensure a strong Democratic challenger wouldn’t beat a GOP incumbent.

She asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate allegations that the company uses dark money to conceal political funding and sway election outcomes in Florida.

You might want to stay tuned to this story. It sounds like it’s a long way from over.

Joe Henderson

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


  • Ron Ogden

    August 7, 2022 at 6:28 am

    “Warren has been a champion for sense-based justice. ”

    Justice must be based upon the LAW. Don’t you understand why? Then let me explain it to you. Your version of sense and mine could differ. Hell, they almost certainly do! So if decisions about the prosecution of crime depends on who defines “sense”, any prosecution is going to be seen as an “non-sensical” by someone–probably a lot of someones. But when prosecitions are based strictly on the written law upon which all of us have agreed through out legislative process, then there may still be disputes, but they are settled in the courts, not by prosecutors nor by bloggers. If Warren wanted to guarantee abortion, he should have run to be a judge, but he didn’t. He still can. But you can’t be a prosecutor if you don’t prosecute according to the law every time the law is broken, and Warren vowed he would not.
    In case you still don’t get it Joe, Florida and America have had it up to HERE with the kaleidoscope world of progressivism. Thank God the two most popular political leaders in America, Trump and DeSantis, understand that even when all “stuck in the ’70s” bloggers like you don’t.

    • Elliott Offen

      August 7, 2022 at 7:12 am

      Only neo fascists, religious mummies, and cave men have had it with progressives. Authoritarian asshole conservatives are who people are fed up with. And Trump is not popular accept with pro mafia terrorists and idiots. Even the GOP secretly loathes the idiot…and he’s an election criminal. You people lie…you people lie.

      • Ron Ogden

        August 7, 2022 at 7:36 am

        Better get off the computer and go turn on the TV. There’s a new episode of “Happy Days” coming on that you haven’t seen yet.

        • Joe Corsin

          August 7, 2022 at 9:03 am

          Breaking News: Trump was just shot and killed.

    • James

      August 7, 2022 at 10:43 am

      You are so right about everything you said! we the majority of the people in Florida are sick and tired of these radical left-wing lunatics spewing their hatred and their demented agendas. trying to force it down peoples throats. they are the true Nazis of the state of Florida.

  • Tom

    August 7, 2022 at 8:04 am


    Sen. Rubio once again artfully legislating when all other Senators are talking heads.

    Regardless, of Stewart’s irresponsible meltdown Rubio shepherded the veterans bill through, as he sponsored, assisted, and helped millions during Covid, with timely passage relief the first time in the spring of 2020.

    Perennial Winner:

    America’s Governor, with Sup Court appointment of Judge Francis, America’s Governor cements his conservative credentials and legacy with all his Florida Sup court selections. Very likely, Francis will be on his likely future POTUS list for U S Sup court one day.

    Again Winner: America’s greatest Governor demonstrated that Soros Manchurian prosecutors will abide by state law or will be removed under state statute. When Warren wrongly prosecutes a minister, as he did and write and threaten not to abide by state law, you open yourself up to removal. First amendment does not allow for dereliction of duty. You can’t yell fire in a movie theatre, or other things in other public places.

    Winner: it’s the economy stupid! America’s Greatest Govs decision to preserve Florida in keeping State open, 2.8% unemployment. With Feds reporting 525,000 new jobs, Florida’s growth will only continue, likely drop down to 2.6% as Florida has outpaced U S growth by a 1% jobs monthly. Showing rising tide for all. It’s the economy stupid!

    America’s Governor a rising tide for all, for the peeps of Florida.

    • Joe Corsin

      August 7, 2022 at 9:06 am

      DeSantis has nothing to do with anything you mentioned. Just an empty suit propaganda pusher. And you sir, are an antisemitic conspiracy theorist. A real nutter…

      • Tom

        August 7, 2022 at 9:52 am

        Truth hurts ass wipe corsin.
        Can’t deal with facts!
        I am FP legend. Must read click, thank you very much!

        America’s Governor, whiz kid whizzes upon Soros Manchurian nation. Eyes of America upon Florida, America’s greatest Gov makes liberal Soros Manchurian nation heads explode!
        We enjoy, love it. Your stench is dreadful, LMAO.

        Everything under winners is correct! Facts, substantiated unlike you and idiot Elliot. Just curb scum!

        • Joe Corsin

          August 7, 2022 at 10:30 am

          ^ This man is extremely mentally ill. Thinks he’s “a legend” because he makes stupid comments on a piddle fuck website. What a narcissistic loser…also antisemitic conspiracy theorist…neo nazi troll.

          • Tom

            August 7, 2022 at 12:34 pm

            Awe Joey Corsin can’t deal with the FP legend, FP is piddle fuck, LMAO

            FP’s Peter S, Joe H, don’t feel this way. Demented corsin calls you guys “piddle fuck”. LMAO.

            Some of us engage in ideas and Win, develop a strong following and have bipartisan review. I am must read click per J D the Dem. Ocean Joe and JD have had substantive back and forth with me. Idiot Eliot and Alex-Joe Corsin are clown show.

            Stop the incest Dem Dum scum bag. Corsin, Your mind is wasting.

    • Tom

      August 7, 2022 at 1:01 pm

      Addendum Sen Marco Winner again:

      At press time, the great legislator Sen Rubio offered vote on federal pregnancy are for biological women only!

      More liberal soros Manchurian heads exploding. All Senate Dems voting against, Kelly Arizona , Mastros Nevada and the fraud Warnock in Ga, voting to lie about women only pregnancy. All three will lose in denying the science!

      LMAO, come forward you anti science deniers! Dem Dum Soros Manchurians extremism once again.

      Rubio brilliant, Dum Dum
      Demings please defend!

  • Monga Pow

    August 7, 2022 at 9:05 am

    Joe H…get over it. I have decided to not waste any time reading your non-sensical hate-filled rants anymore. This column is the last one. So sad….you are nothing but a “millenial wanna be”…I believe you are not a young angry, racists, brainwashed, radical left, hate-filled, boring and confused young Dmocrat punk. Stop acting like one Joe H.

    • Elliott Offen

      August 7, 2022 at 9:08 am

      ^ Deranged far right terrorist supporter… report to FBI.

    • Ocean Joe

      August 7, 2022 at 9:52 am

      Like the guy who refuses to pay for his meal claiming it was bad, but cleaned the plate anyway.

      • Tom

        August 7, 2022 at 9:58 am

        Soros Manchurians notorious doing that ocean. LMAO.

        Real bad days this week for Dem Dum Manchurian nation.

        DeSantis on rampage! Marco too.
        Gov gets 60% Independents, 55% Hispanics, 40% Dems, 95% plus Repubs. 60% doable in Nov vs either chameleon or fraud!

        • Joe Corsin

          August 7, 2022 at 10:32 am

          ^ Complete gibberish, nonsense, babbling toddler….

  • Mongo Pow

    August 7, 2022 at 9:11 am

    One last thought….prosecutors MUST follow rule of law and enforce all laws….you do not get to pick the ones you like. Joe H wake-up! Really? “Nuanced approach to prosecution”…? What country do you live in? Certainly not the USA.

    • Dan

      August 7, 2022 at 10:17 am

      What case did he refuse to prosecute? Name an actual case where he did this.

      • Lynda

        August 7, 2022 at 11:03 am

        Not only have there been no cases for Warren not to prosecute, deSantis seems unaware there are no laws making what deSantis (and other radical Republicans) oppose a criminal offense to be prosecuted.

  • Monga Pow

    August 7, 2022 at 9:13 am

    Elliot is the deranged punk…TDS is so sad. Report you to FBI you sinister little man.

    • Ocean Joe

      August 7, 2022 at 9:55 am

      Elliot and Joe have livened the comment section up with a dose of ‘wake up’ for old codgers like Tom, “perennial cheerleader” goosestepping along with our exhausting governor.

      • Tom

        August 7, 2022 at 10:02 am

        Facts hurt ocean, curb scum Dems can’t get out the way.

        My Winners is all factual.

        Corsin , idiot Eliot and Manchurian nation along with yourself just crapping pants. Liberal heads exploding. Enjoy!

      • Tom

        August 7, 2022 at 10:20 am

        As usual Joe, you engage in false charges and fake narratives. Your attacks upon age are false as well.
        My political experience and knowledge of Congress, Presidency and electoral politics allows me to be FP legend! I am must read click. Thank you.

        I am the only one who regularly stands up to FP, which is a left of center Dem advocate, I’ve pushed it back to center.

        Save the pathetic “old” lines. I run circles over Soros Manchurian nation and FP. I take incoming all over!
        Legend don’t either, just last in stature. LMAO.

        America’s greatest Gov, the best Florida gov in 50 yrs.

    • Joe Corsin

      August 7, 2022 at 10:33 am

      ^ Neo nazi filth weasel. Not worth the powder it would take to blow his brains out.

      • Tom

        August 7, 2022 at 11:44 am

        Stop banging your sister scum Dem Dum crat corsin.

        You wouldn’t to my face. Threatening murder is chargeable, even for ousted Warren.

        Your inability to engage in substance is well documented. Facts are funny things.

        Science, you know the doc at nih says it’s brain damage.

  • Dan

    August 7, 2022 at 10:16 am

    DeSantis fired Warren for something he MIGHT do, not because he actually did anything. This is not only illegal but its the stuff you see coming from banana republics in south america. So we have a governor who does nothing for local floridians, has a pay to play scheme set up in tallahassee, uses his office to punish political opponents, sparks culture wars resulting in abuse and harassment of vulnerable minorities, banning books from our schools he doesn’t like, banning history from our schools he doesn’t like, accepts the support neo-nazi and white supremacist groups. This guy is a menace and he needs to be not just removed from office but thrown out of the state. He’s a cancer on it.

    • Tom

      August 7, 2022 at 10:23 am

      Warren is done.
      Fait accompli
      It’s over!
      He’s a pud Soros Manchurian.
      I outlined above his flaws!
      Get over it Dan.
      America’s Gov, kicks your ass and your filth daily!

      • Joe Corsin

        August 7, 2022 at 10:35 am

        ^ Neanderthal noise maker, gibberish spewer, manure spreader…list goes on to infinity. Vile ape…

  • Lynda

    August 7, 2022 at 11:26 am

    Hey Ron, Do you remember the First Amendment?

    You can’t bully state employees, school children wearing masks by their choice with their parent’s approval or corporations for simply disagreeing with you. Your out-of-control temperament is one big roadblock for repeating as Governor or running for another office.

    Warren signed a public letter with many other state level prosecutors across the country disagreeing with the restrictive, punishing and life-threatening for women laws which radical right legislatures are imposing on citizens without their votes. Kansas should be a lesson to all you arrogant, anti-women Republicans that you all are overreaching. Your foolish attack on Warren’s employment (twice elected by Hillsborough County voters) for what he said and what he thinks is wrong, unconstitutional and a stupid move by someone hoping to run for president in 2024.

    Politicians who rant and demand no one disagree with their thoughts and ideas are so 2016. Times have changed, Ron. We expect our elected public servants to listen to voters and at least pretend to be sane and reasonable. What you are doing to Warren is beyond belief. Your Republican legislators may fear you, but you don’t work for them, you serve all of the voters in Florida.

  • Tom

    August 7, 2022 at 12:48 pm

    Lynda, I’ve reviewed this.
    You can’t scream fire in a theatre, you can’t make a threat in a plane or airport. First amendment has limits.

    Your ignorance is overwhelming. Are you a midnight pool girl?

    First amendment does not “trump” your oath and state statute of laws.

    Btw, this scum bag Warren prosecuted a minister over the first amendment of religion.
    Denying him and parishioners of there first amendment. So shove your pathetic arguments, you know where Lynda.

    Soros Manchurians being run out of office everywhere. Well deserved!

    Gov Kahones, America’s Gov Ron for the peeps!

  • Jim

    August 7, 2022 at 8:12 pm

    In other news, this whole site is fake news— bought and paid for— did you all forget that or not know it. Peter needs a new pair of shoes? Print fake news. Peter needs vacation dollars? Hire fake polling firm closely associated with, and bought and paid for by the fake news crew. As long as you grease their palms, your fake news gets printed!

  • Diane Oczkowski

    August 8, 2022 at 1:47 pm

    Hi! Democratic Senator Taddeo removed her endorsement for Naomi Blemur for Democratic Fl Agriculture Commissioner. Who does she now support? Also for Fl Atty General?

Comments are closed.


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