Good Sunday morning, and welcome back to “Brunch,” a pop-up newsletter about the 2022 campaign cycle in Florida. Brunch will be delivered each Sunday before the General Election.
Be sure to check our selections for the Winner and Loser of the Week in Florida Politics. You can read that piece by clicking here.
Congratulations to former Jacksonville Jaguars — and Ballard Partners alum — Tony Boselli, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Florida Times-Union’s Gene Frenette interviewed Boselli before his induction. His column, “For Jaguars legend Tony Boselli, getting into Pro Football Hall of Fame a long time coming,” is worthy of your time.
Happy birthday to Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, David Browning of The Southern Group, Kirsten Borman Dougherty of KB Strategic Group, Jill Puckett, and Nanette Mathey Schimpf of Moore. Belated best wishes to Veronica Gonzalez, a communications staffer in Annette Taddeo’s congressional campaign.
Today is the final day to shop tax-free on back-to-school items like clothes, supplies and computers. It will mark the end of Florida’s back-to-school tax holiday, which started July 25.
Now, enjoy Brunch.
— Sign up —
We have new numbers from a statewide poll conducted by a credible third party who set the survey sample at GOP +4.
This may be the most interesting data I’ve seen this election cycle. There’s something in them for everyone.
I’ll be sharing the first set of numbers tonight at 7:30 exclusively to subscribers to Florida Politics’ text alert system.
You can sign-up for those alerts here:
The second set of numbers will be released in Monday’s edition of Sunburn.
— Crist-Fried fundraising —
With less than a month in the race for the Democratic nomination, gubernatorial candidates Charlie Crist and Nikki Fried must measure what to spend now and what to hold for the fight to come with Gov. Ron DeSantis. What does everyone have in the bank?
— In front: Crist, who leads most polls, also has the most cash on hand. His official campaign has $2,895,935 to spend as of July 30. The Friends of Charlie Crist committee, meanwhile, has $4,265,869 at the ready.
— Seeking an upset: Fried, meanwhile, is up on TV and ready to make her play. She has $2,168,311 available through her official account. Meanwhile, her political committee, Florida Consumers First, still reports $942,957 in the bank.
— Dark horses: Or if everything you know is wrong, there are two other options on the Democratic ballot. Cadance Daniel already picked a running mate but spent $1,035 more than his campaign has raised, which is only about $13,335. That’s better than Robert Willis, who has spent about $10,148 more than he reported in.
Crist will join state Rep. Anna Eskamani this Sunday in Orlando for a grassroots fundraiser ahead of early voting. Crist and Eskamani, who is seeking re-election, will also be joined by supporters and local community leaders, including Osceola Clerk of Courts Kelvin Soto. The event will start at 5 p.m. in Orlando. Early voting kicks off Monday in Florida.
— A must-read —
Head to your local newsstand or, more realistically, head to the New York Magazine website and check out their new profile of Crist.
— Excuse me, what? The title, “The super-high-stakes 2022 race no one is talking about,” obviously isn’t geared toward a Florida audience, since everyone who follows FlaPol is talking about the race. Still, try and forgive them for that and focus on the substance.
— The setup: DeSantis won his first term by a razor-thin margin and, though Florida has reddened over the past few years, it’s still the “crown jewel of battleground states in the presidential election.”
— Enter Crist: Despite DeSantis’ popularity, “nobody in Florida thinks DeSantis is a particularly dynamic campaigner.” Crist, meanwhile, is a “legendary retail pol” who “has the name recognition and goodwill to make it a race.”
— The challenge: There are a lot of them. Money is a big one. Statewide campaigns in Florida are expensive and the Sunshine State’s Republican shift has made it a risky investment for Democrats, especially in an election cycle where the party faces strong headwinds.
— As Gabriel Debenedetti writes: “ … nonpartisan analysts and nationally focused Democrats alike simply no longer believe the party can win statewide in Florida, and they’re tired of getting burned — especially after liberals poured so much hope, money, and energy into gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum’s race against DeSantis four years ago …”
—But the potential payoff is huge: Crist’s message is he’s “running for Governor to defeat Ron DeSantis.” DeSantis’ 2024 ambition is the worst-kept secret in politics, but his future electability hinges on him winning a second term as Governor. As expensive as it would be to defeat him in 2022, it’d be exponentially more expensive to defeat him in two years.
The conclusion, whether you believe it’s on point or scoff-worthy, is that Florida “is no long shot for Democrats if they would just invest in it.”
— Counter-counter-counter punch —
Hardly a day goes by when the U.S. Senate contest between Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and Democratic Rep. Val Demings doesn’t focus on the question of how to characterize Demings’ commitment to law enforcement.
— New ad: Rubio’s campaign just released its second statewide TV commercial and it’s all about challenging the commitment of Demings, a retired Orlando Police Chief, to support police now that she’s a three-term Democratic Congresswoman from Orlando.
— What’s it say? Rubio’s new 30-second ad, “Failed,” begins with video of Demings digging her own hole. The undated, unspecified clip from a Zoom conference shows her saying, “America has failed.” That is followed by several Florida county Sheriffs and other law enforcement officers chastising her for that, and tying her to President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “Congresswoman Demings, America hasn’t failed, you did,” says Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey. “Val Demings went to Washington and became a puppet for Pelosi,” Ivey charges later. He later calls her “Just another radical rubber stamp.”
— Down and dirty: The back-and-forth featuring Sheriffs and FOP President Steve Zona includes Zona repeating Rubio’s false attack on Demings, that, in a June 8, 2020, CBS This Morning interview, she praised the “defund the police” movement that emerged from the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020. The cited statement was taken out of context, and she has consistently stated she opposes the idea.
— Return fire: Demings’ campaign communications director Christian Slater shot back: “Marco Rubio is continuing to tell desperate lies about Chief Demings because he knows that her 27-year law enforcement career is far more impressive to Florida voters than his nearly three decades as a career politician.”
— AG Primary too close to call —
No Democrat has become a runaway favorite to face incumbent Republican Ashley Moody in the General Election. St. Pete Polls surveyed likely Democratic Primary voters for Florida Politics on who they like among the choices.
— Ayala leading: Pollsters found former Orlando State Attorney Aramis Ayala in the lead, and the choice of more than 18% of voters. But Fort Lauderdale lawyer Jim Lewis earned 17%, well within the survey’s 2.7 percentage point margin of error.
— Grim chances?: Fort Walton Beach attorney Dan Uhlfelder, despite a knack for free media, polled at just 9%, though he performed better among those who say they already sent their mail-in ballots in.
— Fence-sitters: Still, uncertainty proved the big winner by far. About 56% of voters remain undecided or would not say who they support. Somehow, that also includes almost 39% of people who already voted, but don’t get us started on that.
— Bean sprouts a new ad —
Sen. Aaron Bean is looking to sow the seeds for a win later this month, releasing a new ad in his bid for the seat in Florida’s 4th Congressional District.
— Family first: Bean’s commercial, titled “Bean Sprouts,” first focuses on raising his three boys. “We called them the Bean sprouts, whether they liked it or not,” Bean says in the spot. “I’m Aaron Bean and those are my three sons, Bradley, Gray and Walker. Today, they’re grown men. But they’re still our boys.”
— The issues: The ad then transitions into his focus on their future. “My children, and yours, count on us to do the right thing — stop reckless spending, end runaway inflation, safeguard our freedom — so that Bean sprouts, and all sprouts, inherit an America that’s safe, strong and free.”
— Ad details: The campaign pitch will begin running Monday on television stations across Jacksonville. Bean is competing against Erick Aguilar and Jon Chuba for the Republican nomination.
— Can Bean be bested? The ad release comes shortly after a survey showed Bean with a commanding lead in the three-way Primary, pulling in nearly 60% of the vote. Bean has also been the fundraising leader in the race. The winner of the GOP Primary will be the favorite in November in the Republican-leaning district.
To watch the ad, click on the image below:
— Media buys —
Sick of ads yet? Too bad, because Florida candidates spent another passel of cash this week to remain on the airwaves in the critical final days before the Primary Election. Here’s a rundown of whose ads you’ll be seeing as you click through the channels this week:
— Governor: Gov. Ron DeSantis is hitting cable with a six-figure statewide ad buy. The $199K flight includes 10 media markets — Orlando got the biggest slice at $22K — and will place ads on Fox News and Fox Business starting today and ending Friday.
— CD 1: GOP candidate Mark Lombardo has put another $55K into TV ads aiding his challenge to Republican U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz. The new flight will air Monday through Sunday within Florida’s 1st Congressional District. The spend includes $22K for broadcast ads and $31K for cable ads in the Mobile media market. The campaign dropped another $2K for cable ads in the Panama City media market.
— CD 4: Political committee Keep Florida Red, which is supporting Republican Aaron Bean, added another $26K to its broadcast flight running Monday through Sunday in the Jacksonville media market. With the addition, the committee has spent $122K on the media buy. Meanwhile, Bean’s campaign account cut a $13K check for broadcast ads running for the same dates.
— CD 7: Republican Cory Mills placed a $77K broadcast buy for ads that started running Saturday and continue through Friday within the Orlando media market. Mills is one of several Republicans running for the Seminole- and Volusia-based seat, which is expected to flip to the GOP due to redistricting.
— CD 10: Democrat Maxwell Alejandro Frost added $36K to his broadcast flight in the Orlando market this week. The additional funds bring the current-week spend up to $88K. Frost is considered a leading Democrat in the Central Florida seat, which is currently held by U.S. Rep. Val Demings and is expected to remain blue in November.
— CD 13: Republican Anna Paulina Luna spent $50K on her first cable buy of the 2022 cycle. The new flight took off Friday and will carry on through the Primary Election. Though AdImpact does not list specific channels for the buy, the entire sum is headed to the Tampa market. Luna was the 2020 nominee in the district, which is expected to flip to the GOP this cycle.
— CD 23: Broward County Commissioner Jared Moskowitz expanded his current broadcast flight by $20K. The flight began Aug. 2 and will continue through Aug. 15. The ad buy now totals $41K, all of it directed to the Miami media market. With more than 100 endorsements and solid fundraising, Moskowitz is seen as the leading Democrat in the race to succeed U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch.
— Progressives favor Frost —
Democratic congressional candidate Maxwell Alejandro Frost is pulling in yet another bushel of endorsements, this time from the Sierra Club, other progressive groups, and Democratic U.S. Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts. Frost is running for the open seat in Florida’s 10th Congressional District in northern Orange County.
— Who’s in? Frost’s campaign just announced the backing of Markey, The Sierra Club, Voter Protection Project, Friends of the Earth Action, Progressive Turnout Project, United for Progress Political Action Committee, and Florida Reading Project.
— Ed’s endorsement: In a news release issued by Frost’s campaign, Markey called Frost “a fearless champion for the Green New Deal, reproductive freedom and gun safety.” “He has a powerful vision for a just, healthy and livable future that is matched only by his powerful voice for the health and safety of our young people. Maxwell Frost is the progressive, energized leader we need in Congress,” Markey said.
— Frost the favorite? That followed Frost’s announcement a day earlier of endorsements from the AFL-CIO, AFSCME, the Florida Education Association and several other labor unions. The new CD 10 covers much of northern Orange County. The seat is open because incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Val Demings is running for Senate.
— Others in the Aug. 23 Democratic Primary: Former U.S. Reps. Corrine Brown and Alan Grayson, state Sen. Randolph Bracy, Jack Achenbach, financial executive Jeff Boone, the Rev. Terence Gray, civil rights lawyer Natalie Jackson, businessman Khalid Muneer and teacher Teresa Tachon.
— Dem colleagues back Book —
Attack ads have been whizzing back and forth in the state’s most hard-fought Democratic Senate Primary, as Barbara Sharief attempts to challenge Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book. Now, the latest radio attack ad against Book has rallied Book’s legislative colleagues to hit back at Sharief’s camp.
— Sharief’s shots: The ad is aimed at angering Republican voters, using audio from Book describing Gov. Ron DeSantis as “a tyrannical dictator.” “Lauren Book wants Republicans to vote for her even though she hates them,” the narrator says as the ad wraps up. Since there’s no Republican running in the district, it’s an open Primary, so Republicans and voters of any political affiliation will get to weigh in on the contest.
— Dem Senators disagree: Using selective audio clips from Book caused pushback from sitting Democratic Senators. “Leader Lauren Book’s record as a proven champion for democratic values, working families, and standing up to Ron DeSantis and his radical Republican-lite cronies is something to be celebrated — not shamefully attacked,” said Democratic Rep. Michele Rayner of St. Petersburg. Democratic Sen. Tina Polsky, who’s running for re-election in a district that straddles Broward and Palm Beach counties called the ad, “a shameful choice.” “Barbara Sharief has chosen to align herself with Ron DeSantis and the Republicans by running against our incumbent Democratic Leader,” she said.
The advertisement was heard on WIOD, which also has the shows of conservative pundits such as Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck on its schedule. The newly drawn Senate District 35 sits in the southwest quarter of Broward County. It’s one of the biggest sources of Democratic voters in the state, according to Matt Isbell, an election data analyst at MCI Maps.
— Leg. races updates —
Republican Rep. Michelle Salzman’s supporters are hosting a reception for the incumbent in Tallahassee on Monday.
— Defending her seat: Salzman is facing a GOP Primary challenge from former Republican Rep. Mike Hill, who lost to Salzman in 2020. Hill lost the seat after a string of controversies. Monday’s fundraiser will aid Salzman’s re-election effort.
— Details: La Florida Coffee & Wine will host the event, which runs from 5:30-7 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 8. The shop is located in Kleman Plaza at 350 S Duval Street.
— Interested in attending? You can RSVP to Ashley Ross at 850-980-0421 or [email protected]. Checks for the event can be made payable to “Michelle Salzman Campaign” or her political committee, “Committee to Protect Northwest Florida.”
House leadership is strongly supporting Salzman in her re-election effort.
— On the air —
Kiyan Michael released her first ad in the Republican Primary for House District 16, where she faces well-funded former Rep. Lake Ray and Chet Stokes. She has something they don’t, however: An endorsement from Gov. Ron DeSantis.
— The flex: The ad wastes no time touting DeSantis’ support. The opening line is, literally, “Endorsed by Governor Ron DeSantis.”
— The backstory: The ad then details touches on Michael’s son, Brandon, who was killed in a car crash. The driver of the car that hit Brandon was an undocumented immigrant who had been deported from the United States.
— Grief to action: The tragedy inspired Michael — an “Angel mom” — to advocate for tighter border security, and to support former President Donald Trump’s border policies and the “America First” platform.
DeSantis’ endorsement dropped late in the race for HD 16, but it came with a $50,000 check to Michael’s committee, which likely covered ad costs. Whether that is enough to counteract months of middling fundraising and inferior name recognition will be clear on Aug. 23.
To watch the ad, click on the image below:
— Got WOKE? —
Businesses are challenging Florida’s new “Stop WOKE Act” in court, with arguments set to be heard Monday. GOP leadership championed the bill this past session as a priority of Gov. DeSantis.
— See you in court: Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker will hear arguments Monday for a preliminary injunction, which would temporarily block the law.
— What’s in it? The “Stop WOKE Act” restricts race-related workplace training and classroom instruction. Specifically, it prohibits lessons and training that tell students and employees they are inherently racist, sexist or oppressive because of their race, color, sex or national origin.
— Who sued? A group of businesses filed the suit back in June, arguing the law violates the First Amendment and their ability to discuss issues such as racism and implicit bias with employees. Primo Tampa, a Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream franchise; Honeyfund.com, Inc., a Clearwater-based tech company; and Collective Concepts, which provides consulting and training to employers about issues such as diversity, equity and inclusion. Educators have also filed a separate suit against the new law.
But state attorneys are pushing back, arguing the law only prohibits businesses from requiring such training courses that include those concepts.
— It’s a trap! —
Your mom told you to pick up after yourself, but that hasn’t stopped the scourge of abandoned fishing gear that damages, pollutes and kills. Getting crab traps out of the water is the goal in two 10-day closed seasons for blue crabs.
— Everyone out of the water: All blue crab traps — both recreational and commercial — have to be out of the water before Aug. 10, the first day of the first closed season. This applies to state Atlantic Coast waters, which extend 3 miles out from the shore.
— Split season: The first closed trap season is limited to Brevard through Palm Beach counties Aug. 10-19, and from the St. Marys River south through Volusia County on Aug. 20-29. It’s noted all waters of the St. Johns River system are excluded from both closures.
— Reason for season: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission staff will go through these areas during the close season to find and retrieve lost and abandoned crab traps. These traps, if left in the water, will continue to trap and kill crabs. Abandoned traps can also be navigational hazards and damage sensitive habitats.
— It’s your year: These closures are limited to even-numbered years in August. The St. Johns River system closure runs Jan. 16-25, while Florida’s west coast gets its blue crab trap closures on odd-numbered years.
— Dolphin tales —
The Miami Dolphins are supposed to be good on the field in the upcoming NFL season, but off the field — yikes!
— The Punisher: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the team will lose its first-round draft pick next year and a third-round pick in 2023 for what he called tampering of “unprecedented scope and severity.” Owner Stephen Ross tried to recruit quarterback Tom Brady to join the organization and possibly play for the Dolphins. Ross also tried to get Saints Coach Sean Payton to come to Miami.
— One problem: both men were under contract to other teams at the time and, thus, were off-limits. As Sun-Sentinel columnist Dave Hyde asked, “How can someone so smart be so dumb?” And Miami Herald caustic wit Greg Cote noted, “This defines Ross: The gumption to cheat on a grand scale, and to do so with such spectacular failure.”
— You get a suspension! And YOU get a suspension! Ross was suspended until mid-October, banned from all NFL meetings through the end of this year, and fined $1.5 million. Owner-in-waiting Bruce Beal was in the shenanigans too and was fined $500,000 and also barred from NFL meetings until next year. The fines won’t matter to either man. They’ll use pocket change to pay for those. Recovering from the damage to the franchise might leave a mark, however. Every free agent the Dolphins sign under the reign of these two men will come with a question mark. Did they follow the rules? Should there be an investigation?
— Some (sort of) good news: The six-month NFL investigation cleared Ross of the most serious charge, one that could have gotten him and Beal immediately tossed from the league. Goodell said there was no evidence that Miami deliberately tried to lose games in 2019 to improve its draft position. LSU quarterback Joe Burrow was the big prize that year, and the Dolphins were in a dead-sprint race with Cincinnati to the bottom so they could take Burrow with the No. 1 draft pick. Cincinnati won and made the Super Bowl last year with Burrow leading the way. Miami wound up with Tua Tagovaiola, and maybe with a tinge of buyer’s regret.
But after Ross stunningly fired Brian Flores after a 9-8 season a year ago, stuff started to fly. Flores claimed Ross offered him an extra $100,000 for each game he lost. The NFL found that the Dolphins “did not intentionally lose games during the 2019 season.” However, the league said Ross believed “the Dolphins’ position in the upcoming 2020 draft should take priority over the team’s win-loss record.” The Dolphins later offered the Bengals a king’s ransom of draft picks to swap positions with them in the first round. Cincinnati said no thanks.
— Brunching out —
Cafe de Martin, a local favorite known for its Peruvian fare at lunch and dinner, is now open for breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays.
— Backstory: Chef Martin Araujo Bohorquez, co-owner with Tallahassee financial adviser Gary Parsons, opened Cafe de Martin in 2021. Originally from Lima, Bohorquez has more than 25 years’ experience in the restaurant industry. The cafe is the only Tallahassee restaurant I know of presenting a full menu of Peruvian fare. These are homey but sophisticated dishes melding the cuisines of several cultures, including the ancient Incas.
— Setting: Despite its storefront setting in a shopping plaza, the cafe is a cozy nook with a lovely outdoor patio.
— The menu: The cafe features classic breakfast selections — a dish of eggs, choice of meat and Tribeca oven Pullman loaf plus omelets and French toast — which all include orange juice and coffee or tea. The breakfast menu also offers a smoked chicken or pork sandwich, Peruvian-style Asado, Butifarra sandwich (a Peruvian specialty with pork and a red onion Creole sauce) and fried fish — plus mimosas. The cafe’s lunch and dinner menu showcase delectable Peruvian specialties such as ají de gallina (chicken in a creamy sauce made with ají amarillo chile peppers), papas en salsa Huancaína (sliced, boiled potatoes topped with a mildly spicy cheese blend), lomo saltado (a Peruvian stir-fry) and the country’s famed ceviche.
— Details: Cafe de Martin, 2743 Capital Circle NE; 850-900-5969. Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Closed Monday.