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.
Happy birthday to Meredith Brock Stanfield of the Florida Professional Firefighters and Wilton Simpson, Jr.
The latest out of Mar-a-Lago via Maggie Haberman of The New York Times: A Trump lawyer told the Justice Department in June that all files marked classified in storage at Mar-a-Lago had been returned.
Today is the final day to shop tax-free on children’s books. It will mark the end of Florida’s special sales tax “holiday,” which started May 14.
Today is also the final day of the state’s 10-day competition to remove invasive Burmese pythons from the Everglades. Florida’s Python Challenge started Aug. 5.
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.
If you’re looking for something to listen to while on your Pelton, download the latest episode of “Hunkering Down” as POLITICO’s Gary Fineout joins me to discuss Ron DeSantis, Charlie Crist vs. Nikki Fried, and what goes into building his Playbook newsletter. Listen here.
I’m still amazed at this 82-yard punt from the Bills’ Matt Araiza.
Now, please enjoy Brunch.
— FLOTUS does Disney —
First Lady Jill Biden is visiting the Sunshine State this week to spotlight the White House’s Joining Forces initiative to support military families.
— Orlando bound: Biden is slated to arrive in Orlando Thursday at 4 p.m. At 4 p.m. she will speak at Disney’s Magic Kingdom as part of a welcome event for the Warrior Games.
— Honoring those who serve: That event, hosted by the U.S. Army, runs Aug. 19-28 and honors wounded, ill and injured active duty and veteran U.S. military service members. The event has run since 2010.
— Friday summit: The First Lady will remain in Orlando on Friday, Aug. 19. At 10:45, she’ll also speak at Disney’s Veterans Institute Summit at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort. “The summit aims to help companies build effective military spouse and veteran hiring, training, and support programs of their own,” according to a release on the event.
— Demings-Rubio cash clash —
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio may be leading in the polls, but he just notched another L in fundraising.
— The latest: Rubio’s Pre-Primary filings show about $2 million in new contributions and $1.6 million in spending for a net gain of $466,000 during the reporting covering July 1 through Aug. 3. He closed out with about $15 million banked.
— The competition: During the same stretch, Democratic U.S. Rep. Val Demings reeled in $4.7 million. She also spent quite a bit more — $7.6 million — but recent polling shows that cash has gone a long way toward closing the name ID gap between her and the second-term incumbent. She has about $8.8 million on hand and unlike Rubio, she has Primary challengers, which will allow her to double dip on donors.
— Hail to the (Police) Chief: Though it’s become the norm in the U.S. Senate race, the Florida Democratic Party didn’t waste the chance to claim a rare fundraising win over an incumbent Republican.
— The jab: FDP spokesperson Grant Fox said, “Not only is Marco Rubio failing to show up for his job in the Senate, but he’s also failing to show up on the campaign trail. After getting outraised every quarter for over a year, Rubio’s campaign is still struggling. It’s clear that Floridians are fed up with Marco Rubio’s record of caving to special interests and refusing to do his job.”
— Rubbing it in: FDP couldn’t help but mention Rubio’s failed 2016 presidential run, which is still holding on to $800,000 in debt six years after it folded.
— DeSantis stumping in New Mexico —
Gov. Ron DeSantis will stop in New Mexico later today to stump for Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Ronchetti.
— DeSantis dropping in: The Sunday event will take place at 4 p.m. Mountain time in Carlsbad. The Walter Gerrells Performing Arts and Exhibition Center will host the event.
— Ronchetti’s run: Ronchetti is looking to unseat incumbent Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in a cycle expected to favor the GOP.
— “Premier Leader”: Ronchetti was effusive in his praise of DeSantis ahead of the event. “I’m honored to have Gov. DeSantis help us fire up our Ronchetti team in New Mexico,” Ronchetti said. “Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has failed New Mexico. Whether it’s crime, where we’re now the second most violent state in the country, or on the economy, with high prices killing family budgets, New Mexicans are ready for change. Gov. DeSantis is a premier leader on the national stage, and I’m honored by his support and his interest in visiting our beautiful land of enchantment.”
DeSantis is seen as a 2024 presidential contender, making it unsurprising he’s looking to spread his influence outside of the Sunshine State. That also means he could give a significant boost to Ronchetti’s bid. U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell of New Mexico will also attend Sunday’s event.
— Crist heads to N. FL —
Crist is heading to North Florida as he continues his pre-Primary “Hope for Florida” Tour.
— Sunday: The gubernatorial candidate will visit Gainesville at 2 p.m. for Souls to the Polls, and then will attend a Jacksonville Early Voting Event at 5:30 p.m.
— The “Hope for Florida” Tour kicked off Saturday in South Florida, where Crist visited Aventura and Miami Gardens. The tour will last 10 days, leading up to the Aug. 23 Primaries.
— The statewide tour will be the candidate’s final effort to share his platforms and mobilize vital communities before the vote.
— On the road —
With a week to go before the Aug. 23 Democratic Primary, gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried will hit the road for a bus trip across the state. The “Something New” tour will stop in the following locales.
—Tuesday, Aug. 16: Panama City and Tallahassee.
—Wednesday, Aug. 17: Jacksonville.
—Thursday, Aug. 18: Gainesville and Orange County.
—Friday, Aug. 19: The Villages and Tampa.
—Saturday, Aug. 20: Tampa/St. Petersburg/Ft. Myers/Palm Beach.
—Sunday, Aug. 21: Broward Co./Palm Beach.
—Monday, Aug. 22: Miami-Dade County.
—Tuesday, Aug. 23: Leon, Miami-Dade, Broward.
— Algo Nuevo —
Fried will also step-up outreach to Hispanic voters. She just launched a wave of print and radio ads in Spanish language outlets.
— New voters: “Along with Cuban, Venezuelan, and Puerto Rican accents, some of the voices come from the Colombian, Mexican and Dominican communities that are usually not highlighted in election and non-election season,” said Evelyn Pérez-Verdía, Nikki Fried for Governor adviser.
— Print prize: Ads will appear in print media targeting these voters, with text in Spanish reading: “Let’s vote for a better future. Let’s vote for Something New.”
— On the air: Similar ads will run on radio ads in the Orlando, South Florida and Tampa markets. There, leaders from within Hispanic communities will speak up for Fried, including Venezuelan American leader Luis Atencio, Columbian American retired teacher Maria Eugenia Arbelaez and Dominican American Dr. Leonarda Duran.
— Another close poll? —
Is it possible an expected red wave recedes back like a weak tide? Fox News this week released a generic ballot poll with some surprising findings.
— Running even: Asked for a preference with no particular candidates in mind, about 41% of respondents said they would go for the Republican while 41% planned to vote for the Democrat.
— Drifting left: What’s especially striking is the shift from recent months in the ballot test. In June and July, Republicans held a 3-point edge in the poll. In May, Republicans led 46% to 39%.
— Margin of error: Of note, pollsters report a 3-percentage point margin of error, which could make the difference from May to now less significant. And of course, none of this speaks to the quality of candidates running in any congressional race.
Not unprecedented: But then this poll may not be an outlier. Monmouth recently gave the Democrats an edge, and more prognosticators are softening predictions of a blowout.
— Media buys —
Here, have some more ads. With one week to go until the Primary Election, candidate ad spending is accelerating, and a handful of candidates who have been absent from the airwaves are dropping cash in a last-ditch effort to win over voters. Here’s a rundown of whose ads you’ll be seeing as you click through the channels this week:
— Governor: Fried’s political committee, Florida Consumers First, has booked a $55K flight for cable ads running Monday through Wednesday in the Tampa and Orlando media markets. The networks included in the buy are CNN, MSNBC and Spectrum Sports. Meanwhile, DeSantis’ campaign is ramping up with a $163K buy for cable ads running Monday through Friday on Fox Business and Fox News. The flight includes 10 media markets.
— U.S. Senate: Democratic U.S. Rep. Demings has spent another $31K on broadcast ads that will run Tuesday through Aug. 28. The ad buy directs $26K to the West Palm Beach media market and smaller amounts toward the Tallahassee and Miami markets.
— CD 1: U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz booked a single-day, $46K flight that ran Saturday as he barrels toward a head-to-head Republican Primary against Marc Lombardo. Gaetz’s ads aired in the Mobile media market. Meanwhile, Lombardo threw another $25K toward broadcast aids that will air Tuesday through Monday in the Mobile market.
— CD 7: Republican Brady Duke tossed another $15K into cable ads that will run Monday through Sunday in the Orlando market. The buy includes CNBC, Fox Business, Fox News and a handful of other networks. Cory Mills, one of a half-dozen other Republicans running for the seat, dropped $78K on a broadcast flight that started Saturday and continues through Friday.
— CD 9: Republican Scotty Moore has booked a $14K run for cable ads that will air on Fox News. The buy started Saturday and runs through Aug. 23 in the Orlando market. Moore is one of four Republicans challenging incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto in CD 9, which is not expected to flip in November.
— CD 10: Former Democratic U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson has put $10K into broadcast ads that began running on Friday and will continue through Thursday in the Orlando media market. He is one of 10 Democrats vying for the Central Florida district currently represented by Demings.
— CD 13: Republican Amanda Makki is making a final push with a $37K cable flight that begins Monday and carries on through the end of the Primary. The ads will air on Fox News and other channels in the Tampa market. Meanwhile, a political committee supporting fellow Republican Anna Paulina Luna is flooding the airwaves with another $223K. Conservative Outsider PAC’s new buy covers broadcast ads airing today through the end of the Primary.
— CD 23: Broward County Commissioner Jared Moskowitz has added $20K to his ongoing broadcast buy in the Miami market. The front-runner to succeed U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch has now spent $61K on the flight, which runs through the end of the Primary Election.
— Luna hosts Lauren Boebert —
— What? U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert will be joining Anna Paulina Luna this Sunday at 6 p.m. at an event for Pinellas County residents.
— Known as an outspoken, far-right Trump-ally, Boebert is supporting Luna’s run for CD 13, even recording a robocall promoting the Air Force veteran.
Congressman Byron Donalds, who also recently endorsed Luna, will also be at the event on Sunday.
— Working the weekend —
Miami Sen. Annette Taddeo called in big names this weekend to help her final push to mobilize voters in support of her Congressional District 27 bid.
— Saturday kickoff: Taddeo and Latino Victory Fund will host an Aug. 13 canvassing kickoff celebration with special guest Luis Miranda, a political strategist, philanthropist and activist. No word on whether his son, “Hamilton” playwright and star Lin Manuel Miranda, will be in attendance.
— Sunday funday: The following day at noon, Taddeo will lead a “Get Out the Vote” rally alongside Golden Globe- and SAG-nominated actor, producer and director Eva Longoria, a co-founder of Latino Victory Fund. The group’s president and CEO, Nathalie Rayes, will also take part in the festivities, as will many union members from United Teachers of Dade.
— Counting down: The events come just over a week before the Aug. 23 Primary, which will see Taddeo take on Miami City Commissioner Ken Russell and “100% grassroots” candidate Angel Montalvo for a ticket to the Nov. 8 General Election. The winner will face either incumbent Republican Congresswoman María Elvira Salazar or Donald Trump-inspired candidate Frank Polo.
— Where and when: The Saturday kickoff event goes down at 3 p.m. at the Cubaocho Museum & Performing Arts Center in Miami, 1465 SW Eighth St. On Sunday, Taddeo, Longoria, Rayes and United Teachers of Dade members welcome rallygoers to the UTD headquarters at 5553 NW 36th St. in Miami Springs.
— EMILY’s List on legislative races —
— Senate selections: The organization is backing Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book in Senate District 35, as well as Sens. Loranne Ausley in Senate District 3 and Janet Cruz in Senate District 14. Democratic candidates Tracie Davis in Senate District 5, Joy Goff-Marcil in Senate District 10, Eunic Ortiz in Senate District 18, Raquel Pacheco in Senate District 36 and Janelle Perez in Senate District 38 also got nods.
— Another term: EMILY’s List is supporting Reps. Angie Nixon in House District 13, Anna Eskamani in House District 42, Michele Rayner in House District 62, Fentrice Driskell in House District 67, Kelly Skidmore in House District 92 and Dotie Joseph in House District 108.
— House newcomers: The group is also throwing support behind Democratic candidates Tiffany Hughes in House District 39, Johanna López in House District 43, Lindsay Cross in House District 60, Jen McDonald in House District 65, Linda Thompson Gonzalez in House District 100, Hillary Cassel in House District 101 and Ashley Gantt in House District 109.
— Speaking out: “The anti-choice extremist Republican majority in the state Legislature continues to vote to push abortion out of reach for Floridians, and they will not stop until no one can access necessary reproductive health care,” EMILY’s List President Laphonza Butler said in a released statement. “We know that these women are on the front lines of the fight for our reproductive freedom and will advocate tirelessly until that right is restored. We are proud to stand with these candidates as they advance equity and justice across Florida.”
— Delivering the vote —
Building on the launch last month of its “Vote for Black Lives” campaign, the Black-led nonprofit group Equal Ground is rolling out an initiative Sunday to bring voters in Orlando directly to the polls.
— Catching a lift: Equal Ground will run an “early voting caravan.” Its goal: to pick up hundreds of voters from a local church and transport them to the Supervisor of Elections office, where they can drop off their vote-by-mail ballots.
— Have some faith: The group is teaming up on its effort to mobilize voters with members of the Orlando clergy, including Bishop Derrick L. McRae. They’re calling the initiative “Get Out to Vote.”
— Turning up the turnout: More than 1.9 million Black Floridians are registered to vote, according to Florida Division of Elections data, but just 47% took part in the 2018 Midterms, a 3-point increase over the rate in 2014.
For the GPS: The event begins at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, with pickups at The Experience Christian Center, 5230 Indian Hill Road.
— “We Decide” —
Several Democrat-aligned groups are launching a new initiative looking to boost voter engagement this cycle.
— Who’s in? The multistate “We Decide” campaign features involvement from Mi Familia Vota, CASA in Action, the Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC), SEIU-United Service Workers West (SEIU-USWW) and SEIU Nevada Local 1107. It will target voters in Florida, as well as Arizona, California, Georgia, Nevada and Texas.
— Florida targets: The collective will specifically home in on Florida’s U.S. Senate race and the contest in Florida’s 27th Congressional District. Republican Rubio is defending his seat, while Demings is the favorite to secure the Democratic nomination to challenge Rubio. In CD 27, U.S. Rep. María Elvira Salazar is on the ballot, while state Sen. Annette Taddeo, former Miami Commissioner Ken Russell and grassroots candidate Angel Montalvo are battling for the Democratic nod. Salazar too faces a Primary challenge from Frank Polo.
— It matters: “Our campaign will speak to voters of color who don’t vote regularly that are traditionally ignored by voter engagement efforts,” said David Metellus, Director of Policy and Politics for FLIC Votes. “There is broad sentiment that we need an urgent change in statewide leadership in Florida and our efforts will focus on mobilizing these people. Florida has been under unified Republican control for 30 years; they have used this power to vilify and target our communities in effort to score political points and not solve problems. We say no more! Our campaign will drive home a point: Our Votes matter and Our Communities matter!”
— Spectrum Primary —
Spectrum News is offering viewers special coverage leading up to Primary Election night.
— Set your schedule: Starting Monday, Spectrum News 13 and Spectrum Bay News 9 will air special half-hour programs beginning at 7 p.m. to inform voters on relevant races before they head to the polls. Those specials will run from Monday, Aug. 15 through Friday, Aug. 19.
— Who’s hosting? Spectrum News 13 political anchor Ybeth Bruzual and Spectrum Bay News 9 political anchor Holly Gregory will anchor the special coverage.
— That’s not all: On the eve of Election Night, Spectrum News 13 and Spectrum Bay News 9 will be back with hour-long specials, again starting at 7 p.m. Bruzual, Tammie Fields and Greg Angel will host on News 13, while Gregory, Roy de Jesus and Rick Elmhorst will oversee coverage on Spectrum Bay News 9.
Decision 2022 programming will also air on channel 13 and on the Spectrum News App.
— Back-to-school survey —
Floridians support by wide margins new — and at times, controversial — measures giving parents more involvement in discussions around sexuality and gender identity in schools, according to a new survey from Sachs Media.
— Parental rights response: Sixty-four percent of respondents support the new “Parental Rights in Education” measure — dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law by critics. The law bans classroom “instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity” for students in kindergarten through third grade, or “in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”
— Parental boost: Notably, only 33% of Democrats without children who are returning students back the law. But 60% of Democrats with kids in schools support the measure. For Republicans, 95% of those with students back the law, while support sits at 84% for those without students in school.
— Significant support: In addition, eight in 10 Floridians support a recently passed law requiring schools to include parents in decisions regarding a student’s gender identity, name, or pronoun. Just 63% of Democrats who don’t have kids in school support that measure. But 78% of Democrats with children in school back the law. GOP support is consistent regardless of whether respondents were parents — at 94% support among respondents with kids in school and 93% among those without.
— Chase the Bears —
Former U.S. Rep. Ric Keller is out with a new book next month aiming to motivate people to pursue their lifelong dreams.
— Never give up: “We are all born with a gift — a unique skill or talent that brings us joy and serves the greater good,” reads a summary pitching the book. “At some point, we come to a crossroads: should we take a risk and chase our dreams or play it safe? Should we ‘chase the bears,’ a metaphor for chasing our dreams, or are we fearful?”
— “Never too late”: Keller then recommends that readers not give up on those dreams, no matter where they are in life. Later in the book, Keller also offers advice on connecting with people and forming long-term relationships.
— Ric’s résumé: Keller served eight years in the House representing parts of Central Florida. He’s also worked as a lawyer, speaker and TV commentator, in addition to his writing. He gave a highly watched TEDx Talk, “The Power of Self- Deprecating Humor,” earlier this year.
— Wasted? —
Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is no joke and restricting the spread of the dreaded disease among the state deer populations is a priority for a lot of Florida hunters and also the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC).
— Keep it out: Both creatures and diseases find it easier to thrive in warm, moist environments like what most Floridians encounter most of the year. However, while CWDs in 30 states and a few Canadian provinces, it hasn’t been detected in Florida yet. The hope is to keep that streak going as long as possible.
— Win prizes! Should you hunt in the Big Bend or Southwest Florida, you’re in luck. A sweepstakes run by FWC and Woods ‘N Water has five prize packages, worth up to $1,000 in gear each, for those taking part in the 2022-2023 season. Hunters need to log and report their harvested whitetail deer through the FWC’s reporting system and donate the head for CWD testing at a specified location.
— Limited range: FWC’s only looking for deer harvested from Taylor, Dixie, Lafayette, Gilchrist, DeSoto, Lee, Hendry and Collier counties.
— Leave ‘em: Should you hunt in other states, it’s against the law to bring back to Florida whole deer carcasses and high-risk parts of all members of the deer family. You can, for deer, elk, moose and caribou, bring back into Florida de-boned meat, finished taxidermy mounts, clean hides and antlers, and skulls, skull caps and teeth if cleaned of all soft tissue.
— We still love college football —
Sure, college football has changed so much in just the last couple of years that it can be almost impossible to keep up. College football fans adjust, though. And with schools throughout the land staring at the start of a new season in less than three weeks, all fans want to know is this: Will my team be any good? Here at Brunch, we supply those answers.
— Dreaming big: The Miami Hurricanes believe they are ready to return to their days of conquest under new head coach Mario Cristobal. He wasted no time rebuilding a program that had fallen from its perch, recruiting well and energizing a fan that had grown restless. Atlantic Coast Conference media picked the ‘Canes to win their division and play against Clemson for the overall championship. Who are we to argue with that?
— Dreaming of the way we were: Neither Florida nor Florida State is ranked in the AP’s Top 25 preseason poll, indicative of the skepticism surrounding both programs. Well, that’s deserved. Both are coming off losing records, and the Gators have a new coach — Billy Napier. FSU’s Mike Norvell, just 8-13 in two seasons at the helm, needs to step it up. Pundits aren’t expecting much. Florida is picked to finish fourth in its division, while FSU is projected to finish fifth. Bleh.
— On the upswing? —
That would be UCF, which is about to embark on its likely last season in the American Athletic Conference.
— Movin’ on up: Next year, the Knights move to the Big 12 Conference, but they’d love to make a splash before they go. They just might. The Knights have a lot of returning talent and worked the transfer portal well.
— Bullish on USF? South Florida might be the biggest unknown in the state. It’s the third year of head coach Jeff Scott’s desperately needed overhaul of the program, and the Bulls believe they’re ready to win. That’s great, except three of their first four games are against BYU, Florida, and Louisville. The AAC is no stroll in the park, either. USF is about to open a new indoor practice facility, and plans are moving full speed ahead for an on-campus stadium. The infrastructure is there, and the wins need to come. If the Bulls beat ranked BYU in the Sept. 3 opener at home, this bunch could be a major surprise.
— Hey, what about us? Florida Atlantic was a disappointment last year, finishing 5-7 under Willie Taggart, who starts his third year as the Owls’ head coach. He is 10-11 overall. The Owls are headed to the AAC after this season. Will Taggart go with them? FAMU was an impressive 9-3 last season and advanced to the FCS playoffs. We’ll know soon enough if the Rattlers have the stuff to repeat that this season. They open on Aug. 27 at North Carolina and return home against Jackson State, who gave FAMU one of only two regular-season losses a year ago. FIU and Bethune-Cookman won a combined three games between them last season. The last two years have been particularly tough for the Wildcats, who saw their 2020 season canceled because of COVID-19 and then won only two games last year. Things have to get better for FIU, don’t they? The Panthers lost their last 10 games a year and enter this season under new coach Mike MacIntyre.
— Brunching out —
Azu Lucy Ho’s closed its Sunday buffet, regarded as a pan-Asian alternative to a traditional brunch, as a response to the pandemic in 2020. Fans will be happy to know that the feast has returned.
— Backstory: Lucy Ho opened the first Chinese restaurant in Tallahassee. In 1970, the local legend launched Lucy Ho’s Bamboo Garden on Sixth Avenue in what has become Midtown. She later opened Masa and Azu.
— The menu: Our server offered us a choice of soups at the outset then we headed to the buffet tables. I counted 16 meat and vegetable dishes including crispy pork, Mongolian beef, soy ginger tilapia and pork with green beans. A few of our favorite dishes were the chicken curry, bok choy and salt & pepper shrimp. The buffet also includes a row of sushi, a few dim sum items (we liked the sweet Chinese biscuits and sesame balls), salad, sides such as fried and white rice, egg rolls, dumplings and crab rangoon and fruit and baked goods. Be sure to arrive starved.
— Details: Azu Lucy Ho’s, 3220 Apalachee Pkwy., Suite #13; 850-893-4112. Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday to Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday. The Sunday buffet is from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., the restaurant stays open until 9 p.m. The cost is $19.95, $9.95 for ages 8 and younger.