Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 8.22.22

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Here's your AM rundown of people, politics and policy in the Sunshine State.

Good Monday morning.

⏫ — Democrats may not be doomed in the Midterms. According to Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report, there has been a “vibe shift” — and maybe even real movement — toward Democrats. Joe Biden’s numbers are still weak, and the economic confidence is still down year-over-year, but both are starting to pull up from all-time lows.

🗳 — By the time you read this, the Primary Election will have about 36 hours left. How many people will have voted? At least 1.8 million — that’s the number of Florida voters who had already cast their ballots early as of Friday. Check out the full breakdown at WUSF.

🤪 — If you want some off-the-wall election predictions, head on over to The Capitolist, where every day is opposite day, apparently. Publisher Brian Burgess thinks Nikki Fried will defeat Charlie Crist by a point in the Democratic Primary for Governor … and that’s not the craziest prediction in this listicle.

There’s the finish line; all that’s left is to cross it.


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@browardpolitics: @CharlieCrist and fiancee Chelsea Grimes at early voting site at African American Research Library and Cultural Center in Fort Lauderdale. It’s hot. But no electric fan.

@tomaskenn: Ron DeSantis did not allow members of the Broward Democrats to attend his publicly funded press event touting his partisan election police. Broward County is the most Democratic county in Florida and DeSantis went there to intimidate Democrats from voting.

@CharlieCrist: Today, we mourn the loss of Rev. Watson Haynes — a humble public servant, who fought every day for justice & equality in Pinellas County. He was a brother to me & will forever be remembered & missed. Please keep him, his loved ones, & the Pinellas Urban League in our prayers.

@AGAshleyMoody: Sad to learn of the passing of Rev. Watson Haynes. Our office worked closely w/the reverend on several initiatives to help improve the lives of those living in Pinellas County. The Tampa Bay area is better because of his service. He will be greatly missed.

@Kriseman: The beloved Rev. Watson L. Haynes II has now completed his work here on Earth. He meant so much to so many – and never stopped making our community better. Rest well, our friend. Thank you for everything.

@Manny_A_Diaz: As a Cuban, I am disgusted by @jeanettenunezfl statement calling for members of our communities – including Cubans, Venezuelans and Haitians – to be bused away from their families in Florida, immigrants who came to the United States escaping dictatorial and communist regimes.

@EunicOrtiz: The “feels like” temperature in Pinellas County is 109° right now. If you’re door-knocking for GOTV, please hydrate and stay cool! These temps are nothing to mess around with.

@MarcACaputo: (Matt) Gaetz is expected to win his GOP Primary by double digits. The (Donald) Trump endorsement doesn’t therefore ensure his win as much as it helps with margin — and serves as a rebuke to those who say he didn’t have the former President’s support

@DJMia00: Sure, it’s hot out there but a good GOTV effort increases the likelihood a voter will turn out by 7%. GOTV interventions are additive in their effectiveness — knock on a voter’s door a second time, turnout increases another 7%.

@NLVWarren: I’ve been @DrNealDunnFL2’s constituent for 5+ years. What made him decide to send his first official text (with headshot) to me *now*? Could it be his first competitive election in a couple months?? 🤔

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@AGGancarski: Did not realize @davematthewsbnd was backing @NikkiFried but DMB will be playing at her event in WPB this evening.

@WesWolfeFP: My best-performing tweet is a one-off about a local mullet competition participant. Such is life in North Florida.

@AlissaJean: It’s that time of year folks. Ask your dating app matches who they voted for in the Primary. If they say “Primary?” don’t waste your time.

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2022 Florida Primary — 1; launch window opens for NASA to launch the Artemis I — 6; 2022 Florida Chamber Technology & Innovation Solution Summit — 9; ‘Andor’ premieres on Disney+ — 9; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 11; NFL Opening Night: LA Rams vs. Buffalo Bills — 17; 2022 Emmys — 20; JMI’s 2022 Tech & Innovation Summit begins — 24; final season of ‘Atlanta’ begins — 24; vote-by-mail mailing deadline for General Election — 45; deadline to register for General Election — 49; 22-23 NHL season begins — 50; Everglades Foundation ‘Before You Vote’ TV debates (Senate) — 57; Everglades Foundation ‘Before You Vote’ TV debates (Governor) — 59; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 64; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 64; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 65; Early voting begins for General Election — 69; 2022 General Election — 78; ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ premieres — 81; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 81; FITCon 2022 begins — 87; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 87; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 91; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 91; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 92; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 100; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 100; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 116; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 179; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 197; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 214; American Association of Political Consultants Pollies’ 23 conference begins — 239; 2023 Session Sine Die — 256; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 256; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 284; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 333; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 438; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 452; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 585; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 704; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 704; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 809; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 984.


‘We don’t want DeSantis to just walk into the White House’” via Patricia Mazzei of The New York Times — Anger at Republicans in general — for appointing conservative judges, redirecting money from public schools and governing in a way that struck him as “authoritarian” — and anger at one Republican in particular: DeSantis, whose polarizing persona has come to suck up all of the state’s political oxygen.

Going into Tuesday’s Primary Election, Florida Democrats are angry, especially at the ascendant DeSantis and the way he seems to them to act like someone who already has his eye on the White House. But it is not clear that in the choices they have to challenge him — Rep. Crist, who served as Governor from 2007 to 2011, and Fried, the state’s Agriculture Commissioner — they have someone who can beat him.

For Democrats, stopping Ron DeSantis is Job One.

“DeSantis is running for President,” said Ann Ralston, 69, as she prepared for a long, sweaty day volunteering for no fewer than seven down-ballot Democratic candidates, whose logos she had pinned on her clothes, turning herself into a human billboard. “It’s a foregone conclusion,” she said.

Whether Democrats nominate the more disciplined happy warrior Crist or the more unpredictable, feisty Fried might matter less than the state party’s long-standing problems. The failings have been clear for years — a thin candidate bench, weak party infrastructure, undisciplined messaging, mounting losses with Latinos — but leaders have struggled with how to address them. Last year, the number of active voters registered as Republicans surpassed Democrats for the first time in history, and the GOP edge has only continued to grow.

Charlie Crist, Nikki Fried campaign across South Florida in final push toward primary” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun Sentinel — A major focus for both candidates: Black voters, a critically important Democratic constituency. Each attended services at Black churches, and both campaigned at an NAACP rally at the African American Research Library and Cultural Center in Fort Lauderdale. Before the candidates hit the campaign trail on Sunday morning — Crist in Miami and Fried in Fort Lauderdale — the state Division of Elections reported 923,128 Democrats had voted by mail or at regional early-voting centers.

—“In Orlando rally, Crist says he’s ready for DeSantis” via Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel

Assignment editors — Crist wraps up his “Hope for Florida” tour with a get-out-the-vote rally in his hometown of St. Petersburg, joining local leaders and elected officials, including St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch and CD 13 candidate Eric Lynn: 5:45 p.m. Location upon RSVP at [email protected].

Happening today:

Assignment editors — Fried closes out her Primary campaign with several stops: 8 a.m., Versailles; 3555 SW 8th St., Miami; 1 p.m., Tampa media availability, location TBD; 3:30 p.m., Fried and congressional candidate Cindy Banyai, Orlando location TBD; 6 p.m., Jacksonville media availability, location TBD. Info provided upon RSVP at [email protected] or Caroline Korba at (908) 752-1795.

Assignment editors — On Tuesday, Fried’s campaign will hold an Election Night party: Revolution Live, 100 SW 3rd Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Details upon RSVP at [email protected].

—“8 things at stake in Florida’s Primary Elections” via Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times

— 2022 —

Nikki Fried slams Jeanette Nuñez, DeSantis for plan to move Cuban migrants to Delaware” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Fried is castigating Lt. Gov. Nuñez for suggesting the state government should relocate Cuban migrants from South Florida to Biden’s home state of Delaware. Fried called the comments by Nuñez, the daughter of Cuban exiles, “wildly inappropriate … cruel and wrong.” In a clip of a recent appearance on Miami Spanish-language radio station WURN that circulated online Saturday, Nuñez can be heard discussing her outlook on undocumented immigrants in Florida and a plan DeSantis’ administration has for them.

3 big takeaways from DeSantis’ Pennsylvania rally for Doug Mastriano” via Chris Brennan and Max Marin of POLITICO — Mastriano’s campaign for Governor in Pennsylvania landed Friday on its biggest stage so far, a Pittsburgh rally with DeSantis, a rising star in Republican politics and potential contender for President in 2024. Mastriano spoke for about 15 minutes, including three minutes when he handed the microphone to his wife, Rebbie, to speak about how conservatives approach women’s rights. DeSantis, by contrast, spoke for about 42 minutes. And while it was clear he was there to support Mastriano; the bulk of that time was all about DeSantis.

Doug Mastriano shares the stage with rising GOP star Ron DeSantis. Image via Philadelphia Inquirer.

DeSantis calls on Republicans to unite around Mastriano in visit to Pittsburgh” via Julian Routh of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Doug Mastriano says DeSantis courted him for Pennsylvania rally” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis is again traveling far away from Florida, visiting Ohio and Pennsylvania for campaign stops for out-of-state candidates, under the aegis of the pro-Trump Turning Point USA organization. If one of those candidates is to be believed, DeSantis’ team actually solicited him for a rally in Pittsburgh Friday evening. This mattered to him, he said, “because my goal as Governor of Pennsylvania is to make the Florida of the North because he set the gold standard for the good a Governor can do — leading a state as opposed to what we have in Pennsylvania.”

DeSantis uses cash and clout to reshape Florida school races” via Andrew Atterbury of POLITICO — Jacqueline Rosario, a school board member in Indian River County in Florida, was recently chatting with a cashier at an ice cream shop when she mentioned she was running for re-election. A staunch supporter of school choice and parental rights, Rosario earned the backing of DeSantis for her upcoming race in part because she voted against masking students during the pandemic. And, as it turns out, that endorsement was enough to score a potential new voter. “She said because I’ve been endorsed by him, ‘you have my vote,’” Rosario said in an interview. “She didn’t even ask my stance on issues or why I’m running.”

See how party affiliation has changed in Florida since the 2018 Primary Elections” via Ana Claudia Chacin of the Miami Herald — For years Republicans have been making gains in voter registration numbers in Florida as compared to Democrats. But it wasn’t until November 2021 that active registered Republicans outnumbered Democrats for the first time. DeSantis and Florida Republicans have celebrated the milestone ever since. The margin is thin. Registered Republicans lead Democrats by less than one percentage point, as of August 2022. In all, Republicans outnumber Democrats in 51 of 67 Florida counties even though the overall statewide margin remains small.

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There’s a huge divide among Democrats over how hard to campaign for democracy” via David Siders of POLITICO Magazine — Of the more than $300 million spent by Democrats on broadcast advertisements this year throughout the country, ads that mentioned Jan. 6, the insurrection, democracy or stolen elections accounted for less than 4% of all spending. That’s less than Democrats spent on subjects ranging from energy and the environment to education, roads and infrastructure, abortion, health care, Trump and guns. And the problem was even worse than that. In some cases, Democrats were themselves taking anti-democratic positions, spending millions of dollars in Republican Primaries to elevate hard-right candidates they viewed as more beatable opponents in the fall. It didn’t seem to matter that some of those candidates were election conspiracy theorists — or that Democrats, if their own candidates faltered in November, could be helping them win.

Activists in Florida say Black voters have seen their political power curtailed” via Ashley Lopez of NPR — A combination of new election laws and congressional redistricting has made it harder for Black communities in Florida to organize and vote, activists say. Florida is among various Republican-led states that have passed laws since the 2020 election that place new restrictions on voters — as well as on third-party groups that play a big role in registering racial minorities in Florida. Ben Frazier and his small civil rights organization, the Northside Coalition of Jacksonville, recently spent an afternoon in the city helping a group of older Black voters update their voter registration.

— 2022: CONG —

Marco Rubio visits Miami-Dade Schools police unionRubio met with members of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 133 in Miami, which includes the Miami-Dade School Police Department. Rubio thanked the group for their service to the community and for keeping Florida’s communities safe. The Florida FOP endorsed Rubio’s re-election campaign in June.

Marco Rubio backs the blue, and vice versa.

Matt Gaetz nets Donald Trump endorsement” via Aimee Sachs of Florida Politics — Trump has endorsed Congressman Gaetz as the incumbent’s opponent has released ads suggesting Gaetz was “the informant” who led the FBI to raid Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. Trump announced his endorsement on his Truth Social app. “(Gaetz) is a relentless Fighter for the incredible people of Florida’s 1st Congressional District!” Trump posted.

Assignment editors — Gaetz will hold the “Liberty Tour” with Donald Trump Jr. and Congressman Thomas Massie of Kentucky: noon, Central time, Amos Studio at Pensacola State College: 1000 College Blvd., Pensacola; 5 p.m. Central time, Wyndham Garden Hotel: 573 Santa Rosa Blvd., Fort Walton Beach. RSVP here.

—”CD 1 Republican Primary a referendum on Gaetz” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics

—“Rebekah Jones, Peggy Schiller face off in CD 1 Democratic Primary” via Aimee Sachs of Florida Politics

Aaron Bean maintains GOP Primary favorite status in CD 4” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — He wasn’t the first candidate announced for Florida’s 4th Congressional District, but when Sen. Bean decided to pull that trigger, the campaign arguably became his to lose. A St. Pete Polls survey of likely Republican voters in the district showed more than 59% favor Bean for the Republican nomination, while 16% chose Erick Aguilar and around 6% went with Jon Chuba to win the Primary. Among the 16% of respondents who already cast their vote-by-mail ballots by Aug. 4, nearly 62% say they voted for Bean. Just over 15% already put in their vote for Aguilar and around 6% have voted for Chuba.

Democrats scrambling for open seat in Dem-friendly CD 10” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Florida’s 10th Congressional District has become a generational battleground between Democrats touting the security of the present, the hope of the future, and the experience of the past. In a crowded field of 10 vying in Tuesday’s Democratic Primary Election, state Sen. Randolph Bracy, progressive organizer Maxwell Alejandro Frost, and former three-term U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson have all but broken from the pack. CD 10 is much different from the district Democratic U.S. Rep. Val Demings has represented for the past six years. Thanks to redistricting, CD 10 is far more diverse.

‘Exactly who we need’: Katherine Clark, Ayanna Pressley endorse Maxwell Frost for CD 10” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Frost’s campaign to succeed U.S. Rep. Val Demings in Florida’s 10th Congressional District now has support from two Congresswomen from Massachusetts, including the fourth highest-ranking Democrat in the U.S. House. On Thursday, Frost’s campaign announced the endorsements of Assistant U.S. House Speaker Katherine Clark and U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley. Clark, who has represented parts of Greater Boston in Congress since late 2013, said she is proud to endorse Frost, who “has dedicated his life to organizing and advocating on behalf of women, children and families to give every American a fair shot at success.”

CD 14 GOP candidates James Judge, Jerry Torres overcame court rulings, now face voters” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Around $600,000 has already been spent in combined disbursements by Republicans Judge, Sam Nashagh and Torres, much of that in court. Two of the three Republicans in the race have been kicked off the ballot. Each was later restored and just hopes voters know that as they fill out ballots for the Aug. 23 GOP Primary. First off, shortly after qualification week, the Division of Elections disqualified Judge for signing the wrong partisan candidate oath.

Candidate for Tampa Bay congressional seat shall remain on the ballot” via Bill Varian of the Tampa Bay Times — Torres can remain in the congressional race for Florida’s District 14 seat representing parts of Tampa Bay, an appellate court has ruled. The Florida Democratic Party had argued that Torres should be removed from the ballot over questions about his qualifying paperwork, specifically whether he was present when his oath of office was notarized. A circuit court initially ruled him ineligible. But earlier this month, Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee stayed that order until it could reconsider Torres’ challenge of it. On Friday, the appellate court ruled that the Democratic Party and two voters lacked standing to challenge whether he qualified properly, saying that determination rests with Florida’s Department of State, which oversees elections.

Alan Cohn, Eddie Geller stake out different areas on the left in CD 15” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Cohn, who has run twice prior in different configurations of an east Hillsborough seat, jumped back into the running this year. Familiar to voters both from the 2020 campaign and as an investigative reporter in the region, he hopes voters entrust him with the Democratic nomination once again. Meanwhile, comedian and former MoveOn video producer Geller immediately captured attention with humor-infused videos introducing himself to voters and has followed that up by garnering the support of progressive groups.

Before taking over Ways and Means, Vern Buchanan must first beat Martin Hyde” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — U.S. Rep. Buchanan could enter his next term with greater power than he, or any Florida Congressman, ever enjoyed. But first, he must make it through one more election season and face a challenge from his Right. Martin Hyde, a two-time Sarasota City Commission candidate, entered the race in Florida’s 16th Congressional District as an existential threat. Endorsed by Trump associates Michael Flynn and Roger Stone, the brash and outspoken activist in many ways represented the conservative id incarnate that led to many an election night upset.

Before he goes back to D.C., Vern Buchanan must get by Martin Hyde first.

‘In a body bag’: Sarasota candidate says he’d kill FBI agents if they tried to search home” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — A Sarasota candidate for Congress says he would have killed the FBI agents who searched Trump’s property if they tried to do the same thing to his home. “I wish they’d turn up at my home ’cause they’d have gone home in a body bag,” Sarasota businessman Martin Hyde says in a new video. He has been a magnet for controversy, with his campaign imploding after he was caught on camera in February berating a Sarasota police officer and threatening her job during a traffic stop.

South Florida’s CD 20 contest features rematch and a new contender” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — U.S. Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick won her Primary by only five votes, besting her closest competitor, former Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness. The two were among an 11-candidate field in an election splitting just 49,000 voters among them. The rivals are back on the ballot just nine months later. This time, fewer candidates will be competing for far more votes. Cherfilus-McCormick and Holness are on the Democratic Primary ballot with just one other rival, state Rep. Anika Omphroy.

Jared Moskowitz dominates competitors in fundraising, endorsements to fill open CD 23 seatvia Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — The South Florida political world was turned on its head — and the names of potential successors flew fast and furious — when U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch announced in February he would retire from Congress after more than 10 years representing the area. Some of those names bandied about as potential successors to Deutch are now endorsing the candidate who has acquired an air of inevitability since he became the first major name to announce his candidacy — Broward County Commissioner Moskowitz. He’s raised the most money and secured the most high-profile endorsements in the race to represent the district stretching from Boca Raton to Fort Lauderdale.

Annette Taddeo, Ken Russell battle atop three-way Democratic Primary for CD 27” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — On the GOP side, the odds-on favorite is incumbent U.S. Rep. María Elvira Salazar, a decorated broadcast journalist turned politician who flipped the CD 27 seat red two years ago. She faces Frank Polo, a local community leader and Trump loyalist who contends Salazar is a “Republican in name only” because she has occasionally voted with Democrats in Congress, including approving the Jan. 6 Commission. The Democratic field, meanwhile, includes state Sen. Taddeo, who switched over from an earlier bid for Governor; Miami City Commissioner Russell, who has leveraged social media platforms like TikTok to stir interest among younger, more digitally inclined voters; and Angel Montalvo, a self-professed Democratic socialist who is running a “100% grassroots” campaign.

— 2022: LEG. —

Panhandle Senate races see veteran lawmakers facing right-wing challenge on guns” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — The two state Senate GOP Primary races in Florida’s western Panhandle offer up two veteran lawmakers looking to fend off challenges from two new candidates running to their right. In Senate District 2, term-limited Rep. Jay Trumbull is seeking to make the leap to the upper chamber. But he’ll have to overcome the hurdle of Destin resident Regina Piazza. Trumbull served in the House since 2014, most recently as Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, in charge of piecing together the state’s budget. Piazza is a former Air Force member and now works for Classical Conversations, a Christian home schooling program.

Reggie Gaffney Jr. registered to vote at his dad’s nonprofit. He didn’t live there.” via Andrew Pantazi of The Tributary — A candidate for Jacksonville’s City Council District 7 Special Election may have voted illegally at least four times in the last two years, according to voting records. From 2020, Gaffney, Jr. the son of Jacksonville Council member Reggie Gaffney, voted four times while registered at a nonprofit where he works, even though both he and his dad said the two Gaffneys live together somewhere else. On July 15, while The Tributary was reporting this story, Gaffney Jr. changed his registration to his dad’s address, where he and his dad now say he has lived for years. While both his dad’s address and his workplace are in Council District 7, it is illegal to use a different address other than your residence on your voter registration.

Residence issues are dogging the Gaffneys.

Tracie Davis drags ‘tired politicians’ after Al Lawson backs Reggie Gaffney” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Lawson endorsed Gaffney over state Rep. Davis, a move announced on a mail piece from Gaffney’s campaign. Gaffney, asserted the mailer, “will stand against radical MAGA Republicans and defend the rights of all people.” Davis depicted the Lawson endorsement as yet another example of Gaffney’s transactional approach to politics. “Did I expect Reggie Gaffney to be backed by the same tired politicians he has suckled from his entire career? Yes, I did,” Davis texted. “Nothing about this is surprising in the least. Nor does it matter one bit.”

—”Former pro wrestler makes Travis Hutson work in Primary” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Open Primary Election will see voters select SD 15 Senator” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Northwestern Orange County will be voting for Senate District 15 Tuesday in a contest between veteran Democratic Reps. Kamia Brown and Geraldine Thompson. Since 2016, Brown has served House District 45, which is fully included in the new SD 15. Since 2018, Thompson has served in HD 44, which overlaps SD 15. She also previously served in a Senate District that once covered much of the same area, and in another House District, with a legislative career dating to 2006. While they agree on issues and Democratic policy, they differ widely on legislative style and strategy.

Lauren Book and Barbara Sharief locked in ‘ugly’ Primary contest” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — The most-watched Primary Senate race is in southwest Broward County, pitting the Senate Democratic Leader against a local politician who’s served the area for 13 years. Sen. Book, who’s broken fundraising records for boosting other Democrats, is facing her first-ever ballot challenge in former Broward County Commissioner Sharief in Senate District 35. Book moved to the district to avoid a Primary with Sen. Rosalind Osgood, who had just won election to Senate District 32 in a March Special Election. The campaign, which pits one of the Legislature’s best-known pols against a veteran City and County Commissioner, has unleashed beaucoup negative TV ads and mailers, one of them resulting in Sharief filing a lawsuit against Book.

Three-way race for SD 34 pits incumbent Shevrin Jones against one old foe, one newcomer” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Jones beat five other Democrats and a write-in candidate to win his Senate seat two years ago. He now faces just two opponents, both from within his party’s ranks, including one who has drawn rebukes for comments critics labeled homophobic. Jones has been campaigning and fundraising to stave off challenges from corrections officer turned consultant and entrepreneur Pitchie “Peachy” Escarment and Erhabor Ighodaro, a former Miami Gardens City Councilman.

— 2020: LEG — PART 2 —

—“Michelle Salzman, Mike Hill face rematch in HD 1” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics

—”Gaetz-backed Alex Andrade faces vax mandate victim, retired MLB infielder in HD 2” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics

—”‘MAGA’ conservative Mariya Calkins takes on Chamber-backed Joel Rudman in HD 3 GOP Primary” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics

HD 6 GOP Primary pits establishment favorite Griff Griffitts against newcomer Brian Clowdus” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — With Rep. Jay Trumbull term-limited, it opened a House seat in deep-red Bay County. After the qualifying dust settled, the only two contestants were Griffitts, a Bay County Commissioner with public service pedigree in the area, and Clowdus, a newcomer to Florida bringing a self-described “MAGA” challenge to the establishment. Griffitts has served on numerous local boards and has the backing of nearly every major Republican official in the county, including Trumbull and the Sheriff.

Can Griff Griffitts hold off a MAGA challenge?

Write-in candidates close three state House races in districts where they don’t actually live” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — Half the state House of Representative races in Duval County will be decided solely by voters from one party this year because write-in candidates qualified for those contests, locking out thousands of other voters from having a voice in who will represent them in Tallahassee. The write-in candidates in those three House contests don’t actually live in the districts and cannot vote themselves in those races. But because of state election law, they prevent a large number of residents who do live in the districts from casting votes in those House races.

—”Dean Black holds all the cards heading into HD 15 Primary” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics

—”In HD 16, Ron DeSantis’ candidate takes on the Jacksonville establishment” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

—”Family ties take center stage in contentious HD 17 Primary” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

—”Ralph Massullo leads three-person field in HD 23 race” via Mike Wright of Florida Politics

HD 30 to be decided in Republican Primary between Robyn Hattaway and Chase Tramont” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The new House District 30 straddling the Volusia-Brevard County line will go to the winner re-elections Primary Election, which provides Republican voters with a distinct choice between Hattaway and Tramont. Tramont is a Port Orange City Council Member and Hattaway is a Port Canaveral Commissioner. On the surface, the race shapes up as one between Volusia County’s favorite son, Tramont, and Brevard County’s favorite daughter, Hattaway, because both started their campaigns with well-established bases in their respective home counties.

—“Three Republicans vying for shot in new Apopka-based HD 39” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

For Travaris McCurdy, keeping his seat is tougher than first winning it” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — First-term Democratic Rep. McCurdy won his seat in 2020 without opposition, but his re-election bid this year has been just the opposite experience. McCurdy has drawn three Democratic Primary Election challengers, including former Rep. Bruce Antone and community activists Pam Powell and Shan Rose, who each have more election campaign experience than he does. For all practical purposes, House District 41 Democratic Primary Election voters will decide Tuesday night whether to return McCurdy or send Antone, Powell or Rose.

In seeking second term, Daisy Morales faces Primary challenge from Rita Harris in HD 44” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — All voters in House District 44 across much of south-central Orange County will pick their next state Representative in a contest between first-term Democratic state Rep. Morales and Harris. Tuesday’s HD 44 Primary Election is open to all voters because there are no Republicans or other candidates running. In a highly unusual situation, much of the Democratic establishment has lined up behind Harris and against their own. They are pushing a candidate with a more traditional platform of progressive positions on issues from abortion access to gun violence.

HD 45 rumble to show which Republican might represent Disney” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The hottest Legislature election battle in Central Florida is taking place among Republicans wanting to represent the newly formed House District 45, covering the Walt Disney World region. The race has led to hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of TV ads targeted on cable and streaming services, radio ads, mailers, digital ads, signs and billboards. The rhetoric in the race has at times gotten personal and muddy. The contest features five viable candidates. The winner Tuesday gets a shot in the November General Election against Allie Braswell of Winter Garden.

Morales amends financial disclosure, hits Harris over debt” via Skyler Swisher of the Orlando Sentinel — State Rep. Daisy Morales is amending her financial disclosure statements after criticism from fellow Democrats for her ability to loan her campaign $50,000, given that she only put her net worth at $49,800 on a financial disclosure statement. She said she made an “error,” and her revised net worth is $428,753 with the addition of a home she previously had not disclosed owning. During the process, she has also slammed her opponent Rita Harris’ federal tax debt.

HD 58 GOP Primary pits former legislator against rising newcomer” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — The Republican Primary for House District 58 pits a former legislator against a GOP newcomer, both of whom have earned support from key Republican figures, making for a competitive race. The ballot features former Rep. Kim Berfield, who served in the House from 2000-2006, as well as business owner and tech entrepreneur Jason Holloway. Although Berfield and Holloway have established themselves as front-runners, a third candidate, Jim Vricos, is also competing. Berfield and Holloway have gone head-to-head throughout the race. While Berfield has trailed Holloway’s substantial fundraising numbers, her name recognition in the area may prove valuable.

Three Republicans battle it out in hopes of succeeding Nick DiCeglie” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Three Republicans will battle it out Tuesday in hopes of succeeding state Rep. DiCeglie in House District 59. The ballot will feature former prosecutor Berny Jacques, lawyer Jennifer Wilson and Navy physician Dipak Dinanath Nadkarni. The three candidates are running to replace DiCeglie , who is giving up his seat to run for Senate. The newly drawn House District 59 is located in Pinellas County and includes Largo, Seminole, parts of Pinellas Park and some unincorporated areas of the county. The race has so far been a competitive one, with large fundraising hauls, prominent endorsers and even a defamation suit.

Kathy Castor endorses Michele Rayner ahead of HD 62 Primary” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Castor is backing state Rep. Rayner as she approaches the Democratic Primary against former state Rep. Wengay Newton. Castor, who became the first woman to represent Hillsborough and Pinellas counties in Congress upon her initial election in 2006, is a well-known Democratic leader in Tampa Bay. She is also running for re-election this election cycle. Rayner has earned endorsements from a slew of fellow Democratic legislators, including Senate Democratic Leader Book.

Michele Rayner gets another high-profile endorsement ahead of the Primaries.

Three Republicans fight for chance at open HD 65 seat” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Three Tampa-based Republicans will face off Tuesday for a chance at the GOP nomination for House District 65. The roster features former education administrator Karen Gonzalez Pittman, business owner Jake Hoffman and lawyer Michael Minardi. The candidates are racing to take the competitive Hillsborough County seat, which closely resembles the current House District 60 represented by Rep. Jackie Toledo. Toledo has endorsed Pittman as her preferred successor. While the contest for HD 65 has been on the tamer side compared to some Tampa Bay races, it has not been without controversy.

It’s Chamber Republicans against Fox Business viewers in the GOP race in HD 77” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A state House race in Lee County pits a prominent business community leader against a Fox News pundit. Tiffany Esposito, the president and CEO of SWFL Inc. since 2016, will square off with Ford O’Connell, a Fox Business regular and Trump surrogate, for the Republican nomination in House District 77. While a fairly low-key race, the contest offers an opportunity to expand the Lee County legislative delegation. This year’s decennial redistricting process drew a Lehigh Acres-centered district and created an opening in the House in an area where most seats are held by incumbents.

Mike Caruso faces a challenge from the Right in third-term bid” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Republican voters living along Palm Beach County’s northern coast will consider two Republicans brought to a Primary battle because of the decennial redistricting process. Two-term Rep. Caruso decided to go north to House District 87 after his Delray Beach home became part of a district that includes more of Palm Beach County’s western suburbs. Staying there would have also meant a contest with incumbent Democrat Rep. Joe Casello, who was also drawn into the new district. Jane Justice, a real estate agent, has also filed for the HD 87 seat, a coastal district stretching from Juno Beach to Lake Worth Beach.

Two Republicans battle it out in left-leaning Palm Beach House districtvia Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — A Republican Primary contest in a Democratic-leaning Palm Beach County House District is pitting a Highland Town Commission member against a political novice. The redistricting process shuffled the boundaries of House District 91 slightly, so it encompasses Boca Raton, along with parts of Highland Beach and West Boca. Election data analysis shows the district became more conservative. Matt Isbell of MCI Maps shows that the district went for Biden by 4.5 points in 2020. Now, Republicans Christina DuCasse and Peggy Gossett-Seidman are hoping to ride a red wave this cycle to overcome that slight blue advantage. The winner of the Primary will face Democrat and Boca Raton City Councilman Andy Thomson in November.

Democratic Primary voters to decide between quartet of candidates in HD 93via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — An open seat representing inland Palm Beach County has drawn four Democrats into a Primary fray. Katherine Waldron is the only one out of the four candidates that have been elected before. She won two, four-year terms for the Port of Palm Beach Commission in 2016 and 2020. Among the candidates in this field, Waldron, a businesswoman, has raised the most and staked the most cash in her effort to go to Tallahassee to represent the district that covers parts of Wellington, Greenacres, Lake Worth and unincorporated Boynton Beach.

Three Democrats hunt for first election win in HD 97 open Primaryvia Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — The three-way Primary race between Democrats to represent central Broward County’s House District 97 will most certainly be a first in at least one way. The seat came open when Rep. Omphroy opted to run to represent Florida’s 20th Congressional District. Now, all three candidates — Lisa Dunkley, an entrepreneur; Saima Farooqui, an IT specialist, and Kelly Scurry, a lawyer — are on the hunt for their first election win. The three represent a wide range of experiences.

Patricia Hawkins-Williams fundraising almost even with challenger in bid for fourth term” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Rep. Hawkins-Williams is needing to work this cycle as she pursues a fourth House term. Her rival, Democrat Carmen Jones, raised a whisper more money than the incumbent for this campaign, $66 more than the $4,150 Hawkins-Williams has raised since June. And Hawkins-Williams has yet to tap much of the $28,253 in her campaign account to get re-elected in renumbered House District 98. But Hawkins-Williams earned free media that’s arguably priceless in a Primary likely to have low turnout: the endorsement from the Sun-Sentinel. The editorial lauded her longtime experience that’s likely to be in short supply in the Democratic House Caucus for the upcoming Session.

Daryl Campbell and Elijah Manley go for a rematch in Broward’s HD 99” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — State Rep. Campbell and candidate Manley competed in a three-way Special Democratic Primary contest earlier this year and now they are meeting again to determine who will represent central Broward County’s House District 99. This time, the incumbent looks to be in a stronger position than the challenger, raising more money and winning the endorsement of the Sun-Sentinel, which gave it to Manley for the last contest. The district that Campbell and Manley are competing to represent has been renumbered and slightly reconfigured.

Three Democrats vie for first elected office in southwest Broward’s HD 101” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Three Democrats with varied experience on the political stage are vying to score elected office for the first time, representing House District 101 in southwest Broward County. The seat came open because Rep. Evan Jenne is term-limited. The vacancy has drawn Hillary Cassel, a former assistant district attorney and the front-runner in the money race; Todd Delmay, an LGBTQ activist who was part of a major lawsuit years ago over the right to marry his same-sex partner; and Clay Miller, an aide to Broward County Commissioner Beam Furr and president of the Broward Young Democrats.

Primary clashes near for coastal HD 106 in Miami-Dade County” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — The race to replace term-limited Rep. Joe Geller in remapped House District 106 is approaching a two-way bottleneck, with two Democrats and three Republicans vying to represent their party in the General Election. On the blue team are former Bay Harbor Islands Councilman and Mayor Jordan Leonard and special education teacher Gustavo Ortega, a first-time candidate. Competing on the opposite side of the aisle are reality TV star turned stay-at-home dad Fabían Basabe, financial services professional Wena “Lynn Su” Sutjapojnukul and Douglas John Ross, a small-business owner and U.S. Navy veteran.

Dotie Joseph in strong position to defend HD 108 seat against old foe, new challenger” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Roy Hardemon was running his first re-election bid when Rep. Joseph soundly defeated him and one other candidate in the 2018 Democratic Primary to all but secure for herself the seat representing House District 108. He’s now running his second consecutive campaign to win it back. Also running this year is Michael Etienne, a former Democratic elected North Miami City Clerk who in June dove headfirst into the HD 108 contest with more than $60,000 in radio ad purchases on his first day of running. Based on multiple factors, Joseph is in a strong position to defend her seat and win a third term in the Legislature’s lower chamber.

Dotie Joseph is in a pretty safe position.

After drawing progressive ire, James Bush III seeks to repel strong challenge from his leftvia Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Democratic Rep. Bush of Opa-locka is among Florida’s most enduring politicians. First elected to the House in 1992, the now-retired teacher is serving in his third stint as a state lawmaker. Over his three decades in Tallahassee, Bush, 67, has fostered strong ties both within his party and across the aisle. That’s proven an asset over the years in bringing back millions to his district. But his support of so-called “red meat” legislation has placed him on the outs with progressive Democrats. This month, Bush faces his first election challenge in years in 37-year-old Ashley Gantt, an educator-turned-lawyer whose campaign for the House District 109 seat marks her first run at elected office.

—“Democratic and Republican duos duel in Primary contests for HD 113” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Four candidates are competing to succeed Rep. Nick Duran in House District 113, which covers a central portion of Miami-Dade County, including the cities of Coral Gables, Key Biscayne and Miami. In the Democratic Primary, Biscayne Neighbors Association (BNA) President Andrés Althabe is taking on lawyer A.J. D’Amico. On the Republican side, public affairs consultant and longtime political insider Vicki Lopez is facing entrepreneur and Venezuelan American Republican Alliance member Alberto Perosch.

Juan Fernandez-Barquin safely poised to repel Primary challengers in HD 118” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Rep. Fernandez-Barquin faces two Primary challengers this year in his second bid for re-election to the House. One is something of a perennial candidate who has yet to win an election. The other is running for the first time. Neither has much of a chance of beating him. Fernandez-Barquin is running in newly mapped House District 118, which covers a narrow strip of Miami-Dade County west of the Florida Turnpike that includes portions of the unincorporated Kendall, Perrine, Sunset and Westchester neighborhoods. Fernandez-Barquin has established himself as one of DeSantis’ most loyal legislative allies.

Seven candidates vie for open House seat representing West Miami-Dade County” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Seven candidates are vying to succeed outgoing state Rep. Anthony Rodriguez in a newly mapped House District 119, which covers a strip of unincorporated Miami-Dade County encompassing West Kendall, Country Walk and The Crossings. Five are Republican. They include West Kendall Community Council Vice Chair Ashley Alvarez, West Kendall Community Council at-large member Jose Soto, lawyer Rob Gonzalez, former GOP operative Juan Carlos Porras and hotelier Ricky Tsay. The winner of that contest will face either attorney James Cueva or activist Gabriel Gonzalez, both Democrats, in the General Election.

Familiar faces, newcomers compete to unseat Jim Mooney in HD 120via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Florida’s southernmost House district is battleground Tuesday to two Primary contests to represent the Keys in Monroe County and lower Miami-Dade County. On the Republican side, incumbent Rep. Jim Mooney again faces Key Largo businesswoman Rhonda Rebman Lopez in a rematch of their 2020 showdown for House District 120, in which Mooney won fewer than 150 votes. Housepainter Robert Allen of Big Pine Key also is running in the race, which marks the first time in eight years a Republican state Representative from the area has received Primary challenges. In the Democratic Primary, lawyer Adam Gentle and former congressional Chief of Staff Dan Horton-Diaz, who also ran for the district in 2016, are competing.

— 2022: D-BALLOT —

Aaron Bell’s Nassau County Commission bid complicated by DUI charge” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — Bell went into his re-election campaign with momentum. He stuck his neck out opposing the Riverstone Properties 85-foot towers proposal, which opened up the county to likely continued Bert Harris Act litigation. “This is in my Commission district,” Bell said at the time. “I do understand the concerns of the folks who live here. I live there. I cannot and will not support the settlement, and my vote will be for option three, where the county tells Riverstone to pound sand and see you in court.” The vote carried 3-2 and was the first salient issue of the campaign.

Aaron Bell’s campaign gets complicated.

Primary battle in PBC Commission nears $1M before final stretchvia Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Three Democrats are running to represent the agricultural section of Palm Beach County on the Commission, but it’s the contest between outgoing Rep. Matt Willhite and hospital administrator Michelle Oyola McGovern that’s propelled spending to stratospheric levels. The two have been neck-and-neck in the money race, trading the leading position a few times. As the last leg of the campaign runs out, the latest reports show as of Aug. 5, McGovern and Willhite have collectively spent just shy of $1 million — $920,000. That makes it one of the most expensive Palm Beach County Commission races in history, according to The Palm Beach Post.

Beam Furr well positioned to win third term on Broward Commissionvia Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Incumbent Broward County Commissioner Furr is in a strong position to continue his eight-year run representing District 6 even though he’s drawn opposition from Jeffrey Jones. Furr has decisively outraised and outspent his opponent. Donors propelled the fundraising for his campaign to nearly $190,000 for his campaign and, as of Aug. 5, has spent $81,945. Jones, a business owner and cargo handler for a maritime association, raised $10,500 and spent the same. Furr, a retired Broward County schoolteacher and librarian who also served on the Hollywood City Commission, is well-known for spearheading efforts to address trash, transportation and children’s education, serving on numerous committees and boards.

Two former friends are now rivals for open Broward County Commission seatvia Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — When Bobby DuBose got elected state Representative in 2014, he recruited a three-time County Commission candidate to run for his seat on the Fort Lauderdale City Commission. Now, that candidate, Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Robert McKinzie, has outraised DuBose and outspent him as the two battle for an open seat on the Broward County Commission. And DuBose told the Sun-Sentinel editorial board he wishes he’d never backed McKinzie 12 years ago. “When you make a mistake, the best thing to do is to be man enough to say, ‘You know what? I made a mistake,’” DuBose told the board.

Lauderdale Lakes Mayor meets political newcomer in Broward Commission racevia Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — A veteran state lawmaker and Lauderdale Lakes Mayor is going up against a newcomer to the political game to represent the Broward County Commission’s District 9. Mayor Hazelle Rogers, a native of Jamaica who represented House District 95 for an eight-year stint until 2016, is up against Guithele Ruiz-Nicholas, a native of Haiti. Ruiz-Nicholas currently works as a case manager at Broward College. She’s also worked in county government and been a city staffer in Opa-locka and North Miami. The two are competing to fill the open seat now held by a gubernatorial appointee, Torey Alston. Alston was tapped to temporarily fill the position left open when Dale Holness resigned to run for Congress.

Six candidates vie for District 2 seat on Miami-Dade County Commissionvia Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Six candidates this year are competing to represent Miami-Dade County Commission District 2, which spans portions of Miami, North Miami, North Miami Beach, Opa-locka, Hialeah and the unincorporated neighborhoods of Liberty City, North Dade Central and Biscayne Gardens. The district’s current Commissioner, Jean Monestime, must leave office in November due to term limits voters approved in 2012. By that time, he’ll have represented the district for a decade. Monestime is not endorsing any of his potential successors, who include North Miami Mayor Philippe Bien-Aime, high school principal Wallace Aristide, nonprofit executive Marleine Bastien, former North Miami Mayor Joe Celestin, retired paramedic William “D.C.” Clark and business consultant Monique Barley-Mayo.

Two Republicans clash atop four-way melee for Miami-Dade Commission District 6via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — After more than two decades on the Miami-Dade County Commission, Rebeca Sosa must leave in November due to term limits. Four men are running to replace her in District 6 in a race that has attracted more than $2 million in donations. They include three Republicans — government relations specialist Kevin Marino Cabrera, Coral Gables Commissioner Jorge Fors Jr. and entrepreneur Dariel Fernandez — and Democratic Miami Springs Councilman Victor Vazquez. The race is technically nonpartisan. In terms of money and heavyweight GOP backing, Cabrera is at a strong advantage with more than $1.2 million raised and an endorsement from his former boss, Trump.

In Miami-Dade Commission race for District 8, incumbent Danielle Cohen Higgins holds the advantagesvia Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Cohen Higgins is facing two challengers Tuesday in her bid to keep her District 8 seat on the Miami-Dade County Commission. Fortunately for her, she holds the edge in experience, fundraising, name recognition, community support and the backing of her peers on the dais. A lawyer by trade, Cohen Higgins is running to hold on to the seat she took by appointment in early December 2020, when the County Commission selected her over six other candidates to replace Daniella Levine Cava, who won the county mayoralty. Among those candidates was Realtor and community activist Alicia Arellano, who is challenging Cohen Higgins this cycle. Former nursing director Karen Baez-Wallis is also running in the technically nonpartisan contest.

Four candidates face off to be first new Miami-Dade District 10 Commissioner in three decadesvia Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — For the first time in almost 30 years, voters in Miami-Dade County’s District 10 will go to the polls Tuesday and not be able to cast a vote for Commissioner Javier Souto. A longtime County Commissioner who previously served in both chambers of the Legislature, Souto has been a staple of local and state politics since before the American launch of the original Nintendo Entertainment System. But due to term limits voters approved in 2012, he and several others on the dais have to go by November. Four candidates are vying to succeed Souto: state Rep. Anthony Rodriguez, West Kendall Community Council Chair Martha Bueno, former federal agent Susan Khoury and small-business owner Julio Sanchez.

Miami-Dade Commission District 12 race pits experienced pol against better funded, problematic foevia Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — For voters casting ballots Tuesday for the District 12 seat on the Miami-Dade Commission, the choice is between a longtime civic leader known for his measured stance on local issues and a convicted perjurer whose campaign is riddled with red flags. In one corner, there’s Juan Carlos “J.C.” Bermudez, the founding and current Mayor of Doral, one of several municipalities — including Hialeah, Hialeah Gardens, Medley, Sweetwater and Virginia Gardens — and a large portion of the county’s unincorporated area encompassed by District 12. In the other, there’s Sophia Lacayo, a tax preparer, real estate investor and Spanish-language talk radio host who was forced to resign from the Sweetwater Commission in 2020 after pleading guilty to perjury.

Sophia Lacayo looks to return to elected office after a somewhat undignified exit.

Can someone be charged for knowingly having COVID-19 and spreading the virus to others?” via Andrew Caplan of The Gainesville Sun — After a Gainesville City Commission candidate attended a voting event while knowingly having COVID-19, some voters are on edge. Santa Fe College Police Chief Ed Book attended the Souls to the Polls event last week with hundreds to kick off early voting in Alachua County. At the event, he was seen shaking hands and mingling with constituents, even holding signs with campaign volunteers, without a mask. That raised the question of whether someone can face consequences for knowingly transmitting the virus. Paul Myers, the administrator for the Alachua County Health Department, said there’s nothing in Florida law that says anyone can be charged for spreading coronavirus, especially since it’d be hard to prove transmission.

Records show Alachua County candidate falsified documents, retaliated against employees” via Katie Delk for the Gainesville Sun — A history of complaints and investigations against a former county employee paints a different tale than the one he has shared along the campaign trail. Charlie Jackson, the Democratic Primary challenger to incumbent Merihelen Wheeler, has shared with voters since February that county officials discriminated against him and that he was “unjustly” fired. A trove of documents shows mounting evidence and grievances lodged by employees he oversaw. Over the past five years, Jackson has been accused of creating a hostile work environment, racial discrimination, falsifying documents, showing favoritism toward some employees and a pattern of making untrue statements.

Claim of partisan campaigning emerges in Polk County judge election” via Gary White of The Lakeland Ledger — Accusations of partisan campaigning have emerged in the nonpartisan race for county judge, leading to a police call at a political meeting. Tara Wheat, one of five candidates, alleges that fellow candidate John Flynn has crossed into inappropriate partisan activity in the election for Group 8 County Judge in the 10th Judicial Circuit. The Polk County Republican Party has endorsed Flynn, a lawyer with a private practice in Bartow. The other candidates in the county judge race are Ruth Moracen Knight, Carmalita Lall and Adam Patton. The election will take place Tuesday. If no candidate gains a majority of the vote, the top two will meet in the November election.

Right-wing extremist on payroll of Miami-Dade candidate looking to oust Circuit Judge” via Francisco Alvarado of Florida Bulldog — Teressa Maria Cervera, a Miami-Dade judicial candidate who’s been the subject of two recent Florida Bar complaints alleging deceitful behavior, has added a controversial right-wing provocateur on her campaign’s payroll. Anthony Verdugo Jr., the founder of Miami-based Christian Family Coalition Florida, has had a history of bigoted remarks, especially targeting the LGBTQ community. Cervera’s campaign has paid over $6,500 to Verdugo’s political consulting company Winning Strategies since July. Cervera is running against incumbent Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Lody Jean, a DeSantis appointee.

Manatee County Primaries will close bitter, personal campaign season” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Two bitter contests to see who serves on the Manatee County Commission for the next four years will soon reach a conclusion. Longtime County Commissioner Carol Whitmore faces a spirited challenge from Republican Primary opponent Jason Bearden. That has played out in a heated countywide election for her at-large seat where Carol Ann Felts also had made a run. Meanwhile, incumbent County Commissioner Misty Servia must deal with a Republican challenger of her own in Mike Rahn. The two vie for her District 4 seat. In both elections, the Aug. 23 Republican Primary will effectively determine the race.


‘To kill a snake, you cut off its head’: Fried says GOP lawmakers will relent without DeSantis” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Without DeSantis to guide and encourage them, Republican lawmakers in Florida won’t be so emboldened to push controversial laws, according to Fried. “We take Ron DeSantis out of the conversation and out of the equation here, and the Republicans can go back to just being conservative, not this radicalization that we’ve seen here in the state of Florida,” she said. “When you want to kill a snake, you cut off its head.” Fried’s comments came near the end of a Friday interview with Chuck Todd in which she pitched herself as the only viable challenger to DeSantis.

With Ron DeSantis out of the picture, Democrats say more important things can get done.

‘How did I commit fraud?’ Ex-felon voters confused by arrests, DeSantis’ announcement” via Romy Ellenbogen and Bianca Padró Ocasio of the Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau — Romona Oliver registered to vote in early 2020 at the Hillsborough Tax Collector’s office. When asked if she ever had a felony conviction, she said yes, having recently been released after 20 years in prison for second-degree murder. But no one told her she didn’t qualify under Amendment 4, so she cast her ballot for the first time in 2020. On Thursday morning, she was arrested for voter fraud. DeSantis has touted the arrests of 20 people, including Oliver, on voter fraud charges related to Amendment 4, even though some say they faced no issue registering, and would not have voted if they knew they were ineligible.

Jeff Brandes questions DeSantis’ voter fraud announcement” via Tim Kephart of The Associated Press — After DeSantis announced 20 felons would be facing charges for illegally voting in 2020, outgoing state Sen. Brandes, who authored a bill that implemented Amendment 4, pushed back. Those charged were convicted of murder or felony sexual offenses, therefore exempt from the constitutional amendment that restores voting rights to some felons. Brandes, however, argued against the decision, saying the intent of the bill was to help voters and that some of those arrested followed the law. “It was our intent that those ineligible would be granted some grace by the state if they registered without intent to commit voter fraud,” Brandes tweeted. “Some of the individuals did check with SOEs and believed they could register. #Intentmatters”

Transgender Floridians scrambling as Medicaid coverage ban on gender-affirming care begins” via Kathryn Varn of USA Today Network — In hindsight, August Dekker’s surgery came just in time. Dekker came out as a transgender man in 2015 and started hormone replacement therapy two years later. In April, he underwent a bilateral mastectomy. The procedure is a treatment option for people who experience gender dysphoria, or the distress one feels when their gender identity doesn’t align with their sex assigned at birth. Beginning Sunday, Florida Medicaid is set to end coverage of gender dysphoria treatment, leaving Floridians like Dekker in limbo about how they’ll afford treatment on their own.

Personnel noteJoey Planz is taking over as the Southeast U.S. Public Policy associate for Airbnb. He has served as a district legislative aide for Rep. Toby Overdorf since 2018.


Joe Biden’s imprint on economy emerges, although inflation threatens wins” via Jeff Stein of The Washington Post — The recent wins have sharpened the Biden administration’s imprint on the U.S. economy. His presidency combines some traditional features of Democratic policymaking — such as pursuing higher taxes and expanded access to health care — with a new focus on reviving domestic industry through targeted investment, supporting American labor, and cracking down on monopolistic firms through a heavier emphasis on antitrust enforcement. Still, Biden’s economic reputation has been overwhelmingly defined by one weakness: inflation. Biden’s first major bill, the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, supercharged economic demand, which many economists have said led to the fastest price increases in America in decades. The dangers to the present economy threaten to upend the Biden administration’s claims of progress and long-term transformation.

What does Joe Biden have to do to get some credit?

Gas prices are down, but Biden’s problem at the pump isn’t going away” via Shannon Pettypiece of NBC News — Oil traders, industry executives and former administration officials warn that prices could easily rise again as many of the issues that contributed to the spike in early summer are still a factor, like limited refinery capacity and uncertainty around Russia’s war in Ukraine. Industry experts said the White House has had a limited impact on the recent decline in prices, pointing instead to fears of a recession as the Federal Reserve raises interest rates, a slight pullback in consumer demand due to earlier high prices, and an uptick in global production. There is no indication that Biden’s other efforts, like publicly shaming oil and gas companies over their record profits, calling an emergency meeting with CEOs and threatening to pull unused drilling permits, have had any effect on price or production, according to industry experts.

‘It’s a rip-off’: GOP spending under fire as Senate hopefuls seek rescue” via Isaac Arnsdorf of The Washington Post — The National Republican Senatorial Committee is running low on cash, and NRSC chair Sen. Rick Scott is at the brunt of the criticism. Scott already took heat from Republicans for running ads featuring him and launching his own policy agenda, in a bid to promote his own potential presidential ambitions. This week, the committee canceled about $10 million worth of ad bookings in core battleground states — and now, some campaign advisers are asking where all the money went, and some are even demanding an audit of the committee’s finances.

Rick Scott overstates potential hiring surge at the IRS” via Maria Ramirez Uribe and Sara Swann of the Tampa Bay Times — Biden signed into law a major legislative package that includes many of his policy priorities. One particular provision is drawing ire from Republicans, funding IRS hiring. Scott discouraged job seekers from applying to IRS positions in an “open letter” posted on his LinkedIn account. Scott, who called himself the “jobs Governor” over two terms in Florida, said those IRS jobs would not survive a Republican takeover of Congress. Scott claimed funding from Congress would make the IRS larger than several other prominent government agencies.

Mike Waltz ads hammer Biden on Afghanistan withdrawal” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — U.S. Rep. Waltz has released a pair of ads blasting the Biden administration for its handling of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan. The minute-long clips come a year after the hurried exit in which Kabul was overrun and captured by Taliban forces, which resulted in the deaths of 13 U.S. service members as well as dozens of Afghan soldiers. In both videos, Waltz, a Republican running for re-election in CD 6, vows to hold Biden accountable. Waltz’s campaign said the ads are part of a six-figure digital ad buy in the Washington D.C. and Florida media markets.

To watch the ads, please click on the images below:


New claims against ex-Miami congressman David Rivera” via Joshua Goodman of The Associated Press — A former Miami Congressman who signed a $50 million consulting contract with Venezuela’s socialist government not only did no apparent work, but also channeled a large chunk of the money to a yacht company on behalf of a fugitive billionaire. The accusations against former Congressman David Rivera come in a new filing Friday in New York federal court by opponents of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro who now control the U.S.-based affiliates of the South American nation’s state oil company. A new court filing is based on evidence only recently uncovered by PDV USA’s attorneys, including 18,000 text and WhatsApp messages from Rivera’s phone and statements he made during a two-day deposition in July.


NBC News poll: 57% of voters say investigations into Trump should continue” via Mark Murray of NBC News — The poll also shows a dissatisfied public, with three-quarters of voters saying the county is headed in the wrong direction, a record 58% who say that America’s best years are behind it and 61% who say they’re willing to carry a protest sign for a day because they’re so upset. And it paints a mixed picture of the 2022 Midterm landscape, with Biden’s job rating mired in the low 40s, and with Republicans narrowly leading on congressional preference — but with Democrats nearly tying Republicans on voter enthusiasm — and with “threats to democracy” overtaking the cost of living as the top issue facing the country for voters.

More than half of Americans do not want to let Donald Trump off the hook.

Court orders release of DOJ memo on Trump obstruction in Robert Mueller probe” via Rachel Weiner of The Washington Post — A federal appeals court has ordered the release of a secret Justice Department memo discussing whether Trump obstructed the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The unanimous panel decision issued Friday echoes that of a lower court judge, Amy Berman Jackson, who last year accused the Justice Department of dishonesty in its justifications for keeping the memo hidden. The panel of three judges, led by Chief Judge Sri Srinivasan, said that whether there was “bad faith,” the government “created a misimpression” and could not stop release under the Freedom of Information Act.

As the FBI comes under threat, its leader tries to stay out of fray” via Perry Stein, Ellen Nakashima, Hannah Allam and Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post — FBI agents who carried out the search were doxxed in posts on Trump’s social media network. Violent rhetoric swirled online. As he absorbed all this, FBI Director Christopher Wray stayed largely out of the national spotlight, in keeping with a norm for the nation’s top law enforcement agency. Then, on Wednesday, Wray confided in a weekly video call that he was “pissed” about the attacks and threats of violence, according to one law enforcement official. Wray is no stranger to Trump’s tirades, and his playbook has been to ride out controversies with quiet professionalism. In the video call, Wray stuck to that approach. “As I have said over and over and over again these last few years, our best response — and that’s one that can never be questioned or torn apart or taken out of context — is to demonstrate our determination to doing our work the right way.”

Appeals court temporarily blocks subpoena to Lindsey Graham in Georgia election-fraud probe” via Josh Gerstein and Kyle Cheney of POLITICO — The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the subpoena at Graham’s request after a federal-district court judge in Atlanta turned down the South Carolina Republican’s bid to avoid testifying on the grounds that the local grand jury is intruding on legal protections he enjoys as a federal lawmaker. The appeals court said in a two-page order that Graham’s attorneys and prosecutors for Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis needed to flesh out arguments about whether Graham is entitled to have the federal courts place legal guardrails on the questioning Graham could face.

‘I don’t say his name, ever’: Vulnerable Republicans seek to avoid Trump in 2022 midterms” via Melanie Zanona of CNN — The man in charge of the House GOP’s campaign strategy has been doling out advice to Republican candidates and incumbents in key battleground races as they prepare for the general election: Don’t be distracted by Trump on the campaign trail, and instead focus on the issues Republicans believe will be most salient to voters in the midterms. The guidance from Rep. Tom Emmer, relayed by three GOP sources familiar with the internal conversations, reflects a tacit acknowledgment among Republican leaders that the former President could knock the GOP’s Midterm messaging off course as they seek to recapture the House majority this fall.

The final days of the Trump White House: Chaos and scattered papers” via Maggie Haberman, Katie Benner and Glenn Thrush of The New York Times — Many questions about the mishandling of the documents lead to Trump, who often treated the presidency as a private business. But people in his orbit also highlight the role of Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who oversaw what there was of a presidential transition. Meadows assured aides that the harried packing up of the White House would follow requirements about the preservation of documents, and he said he would make efforts to ensure that the administration complied with the Presidential Records Act, according to people familiar with those conversations. But as the clock ticked down, Trump focused on pushing through last-minute pardons and largely ignored the transition he had tried to forestall.


Miami-Dade Mayor: ‘No coincidence’ DeSantis announced voter arrests during election” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — Miami-Dade County’s senior Democrat, Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, cited voter intimidation in DeSantis announcing arrests of 20 people who voted in 2020 but were convicted of crimes that made them ineligible to cast ballots under Florida law. “This moment was chosen, even though, probably, the state knew about it for a while,” Levine Cava said at a news conference with three Democrats she endorsed: gubernatorial hopeful Crist, Miami-Dade Commissioner Danielle Cohen Higgins, and congressional District 27 contender Taddeo. “I think it’s no coincidence we’re facing an election right now. We don’t want people to feel intimidated.”

Daniella Levine Cava says Ron DeSantis’ announcement was suspiciously timed.

Four candidates face off to be first new Miami-Dade District 10 Commissioner in three decades” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — For the first time in almost 30 years, voters in Miami-Dade County’s District 10 will go to the polls Tuesday and not be able to cast a vote for Commissioner Javier Souto. A longtime County Commissioner who previously served in both chambers of the Legislature, Souto has been a staple of local and state politics. But due to term limits, he must go by November. Four candidates are vying to succeed Souto in the technically nonpartisan contest: state Rep. Anthony Rodriguez, West Kendall Community Council Chair Martha Bueno, former federal agent Susan Khoury and small-business owner Julio Sanchez. Rodriguez has raised $1.65 million since announcing in June 2021 that he would forgo seeking a third term in the House for a run at the County Commission.

—”Miami-Dade Commission District 12 race pits experienced pol against better funded, problematic foe” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics

Primary battle in PBC Commission nears $1M before final stretch” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Three Democrats are running to represent the agricultural section of Palm Beach County on the Commission, but the contest between outgoing Rep. Matt Willhite and hospital administrator Michelle Oyola McGovern propelled spending to stratospheric levels. The two have been neck-and-neck in the money race, trading the leading position a few times. As of Aug. 5, McGovern and Willhite have collectively spent just shy of $1 million. That makes it one of the most expensive Palm Beach County Commission races in history. And it’s been nasty — the two candidates have traded accusations about where they are getting their funding.

Preservation key to Ag Reserve future” via The Palm Beach Post — Palm Beach County Commissioners will cast votes that will change the Ag Reserve, a 22,000-plus-acre site west of Boca Raton that voters sanctioned in 1999 with a $150 million bond for preservation. A lot has changed since then, as the demands of new housing and businesses encroach on the Ag Reserve. Any changes affecting the Ag Reserve shouldn’t lead to incompatible projects that hasten its end. Commissioners should keep that in mind when considering proposals to allow new commerce and residences within the area. The goal should be preservation over development. Ideally, the proposed “essential” housing designation could open the door for denser development and affordable housing.

Lauderdale Lakes Mayor meets political newcomer in Broward Commission race” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — A veteran state lawmaker and Lauderdale Lakes Mayor is going up against a newcomer to the political game to represent the Broward County Commission’s District 9. Mayor Hazelle Rogers, a native of Jamaica who represented House District 95 for an eight-year stint until 2016, is up against Guithele Ruiz-Nicolas, a native of Haiti. Ruiz-Nicholas currently works as a case manager at Broward College. She’s also worked in county government and been a city staffer in Opa-locka and North Miami. The two are competing to fill the open seat now held by a gubernatorial appointee, Torey Alston. Alston was tapped to temporarily fill the position left open when Dale Holness resigned to run for Congress.

New Aventura Mayor, two Commissioners elected unopposed” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Qualifying for the Aventura municipal election closed Friday afternoon, and without opposition, Howard Weinberg won the city mayoralty. Paul Kruss and Michael Stern also secured seats on the City Commission. For many versed in Aventura politics, Weinberg and Stern are familiar faces. Weinberg served on the Aventura Commission for two terms from 2010 until he reached term limits in 2018. Stern similarly served two consecutive terms through 2014. The Aventura City Charter requires a four-year break in service before a person who has served eight consecutive years is eligible for the same office. Kruss, who co-owns Mo’s Bagels and Deli, a three-minute drive from the Aventura Government Center, is a new addition to the City Commission.

Howard Weinberg wins by default.

‘Incompetence and neglect of duty’: Grand jury wants 4 current Broward School Board members removed” via Scott Travis and Susannah Bryan of the Orlando Sentinel — A long-awaited grand jury report that focused on mismanagement within Broward schools recommended DeSantis remove five School Board members, four of whom still are on the board. One of those, Rosalind Osgood, has already left the School Board and is now serving as a state Senator. The others recommended for removal are Patricia Good, Donna Korn, Laurie Rich Levinson and Ann Murray. The 122-page report, commissioned as a result of the tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, said the five School Board members “have engaged in acts of incompetence and neglect of duty.”


Orange County voters consider second term for Jerry Demings” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Orange County Mayor Demings faces three challengers in Tuesday’s Primary Election, where he’ll likely either be re-elected to a second term or enter a run-off in the November General Election. The ballot features conservatives Chris Messina and Tony Sabb, and progressive Kelly Semrad. Although the Orange County mayoral contest is nonpartisan, Demings is a popular Democrat in a county that has 150,000 more Democratic registered voters than Republicans.

Will voters give Jerry Demings another term?

Orange County GOP challenges mail ballots under new election law” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — Using a controversial new law, Orange County Republicans have created an Elections Integrity Task Force to dispute mail-in ballots before they’re opened, resulting in at least 36 challenges and 20 rejections so far for Tuesday’s Primary. Voters whose ballots are rejected over signature mismatches or other issues would need to complete a “curing” process by Thursday to prove their identity and have their votes count. More ballots could be rejected next week, giving voters little time to fix any issues.

The Villages continues to attract candidates both liberal and conservative” via Rebecca Turco of Spectrum News — The Villages, a largely Republican retirement community in Central Florida, has become a hotspot for political campaigning over the years. Political candidates on both sides of the aisle come through during election season, and it doesn’t hurt that the retirees living there have the time and are more likely to vote. “It’s interesting to be a part of that,” said Dale Smith, a Republican Villager. “Luckily, I guess I could say that I’m on the side that usually wins because most people are Republican.” Fried took her campaign bus and a caravan of supporters through The Villages on Friday morning.

Transgender sexual assault claims at Brevard Public Schools could bring new state rules” via Bailey Gallion of Florida Today — Amid hotly disputed claims that a transgender student sexually assaulted a girl in the women’s restroom at Johnson Middle School, and an investigation of another incident, Brevard Public Schools is braced for new potential regulations of bathroom access by transgender students. In response to allegations at Brevard Public Schools, the Florida Department of Education is weighing rules that would require districts to publish on their websites if their policy “allows for separation of bathrooms or locker rooms according to some criteria other than biological sex at birth,” according to a draft of the rule published to the Department of Education website. The districts would have to specify how locker rooms are supervised and which locker rooms and bathrooms are open to the opposite sex.

TECO gets $500,000 fine, probation in 2017 explosion that killed 5 in Tampa Bay” via Matt Cohen of the Tampa Bay Times — A federal judge sentenced Tampa Electric Co. to a $500,000 fine and three years of probation for a 2017 explosion that killed five people at its Apollo Beach power plant. The sentence from Judge Charlene Honeywell of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, announced in a news release Friday from the Department of Justice, follows a plea agreement filed in the Tampa-based court in May in which TECO pleaded guilty to violating Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards. The fine is the maximum allowed under law for a violation such as this, according to the release. TECO also must follow a safety compliance plan.


Three Republicans vie to finish out Frank Mann’s term on Lee Co. Commission” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The death of Lee County Commissioner Mann in June briefly slowed local politics to mourn for a moment. Then it sparked one of the most important countywide contests in the region. Now, a former County Commissioner, a retired Red Sox left fielder and a community activist vie to fill out the rest of Mann’s term. Mike Greenwell enjoys the title of incumbency thanks to an appointment by DeSantis to serve through November.


Election elephant in the room: How politics plays out at the Tallahassee Chamber conference” via Tamaryn Waters of the Tallahassee Democrat — Politics isn’t on the official Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce agenda during the) weekend’s sold-out annual conference. But the approaching election will be omnipresent. Efforts to set the capital city’s future course through weighty policy discussions will hang in the balance of the ballots. There will be hushed conversations on golf greens and over cocktails. Dinners will be served with a side of speculation on who’s going to claim victory or get washed out come Tuesday night.

Tallahassee mayoral race features bad blood between John Dailey, Kristin Dozier” via Aimee Sachs of the Miami Herald — When Dailey first ran for Mayor of Tallahassee four years ago, he campaigned on “cleaning up” City Hall and creating jobs. Now, he is being challenged by Leon County Commissioner Dozier, business owner Michael Ibrahim, and entrepreneur Whitfield Leland III as he seeks a second term. Though the Aug. 23 Primary Election for Mayor is a four-candidate race, Dailey and Dozier have focused on each other, trading barbs and even filing an election violation complaint over mailers. Despite filing the election complaint, Dailey said he has run a “consistently positive” campaign.

The Tallahassee Mayor’s race becomes a nasty affair.

—“Jeremy Matlow faces David Bellamy in Tallahassee City Commission re-election bid” via Aimee Sachs of Florida Politics

‘Absolutely criminal’: Duval Schools police chief underreported crimes, grand jury finds” via Emily Bloch and Nate Monroe of the Florida Times-Union — A statewide grand jury accused the former chief of the Duval County Schools Police Department, Micheal Edwards, of criminal misconduct. The jury made the accusation in an unsealed report Friday, which alleges he deliberately manipulated and underreported criminal activity on school grounds for years. In at least one case, his orders to let a student remain on campus resulted in a death. A legal quirk prevented the jury from directly indicting Edwards on two felonies and one misdemeanor.

JEA insurer earmarked nearly $3 million for defense lawyers for two former executives, records show” via Nate Monroe of The Florida Times-Union — Records from a JEA insurance firm indicate it has advanced nearly $3 million to defense lawyers representing former CEO Aaron Zahn and CFO Ryan Wannemacher as they fight federal fraud and conspiracy charges, an arrangement the utility objected to years ago and that, unbeknown to some officials, appears to still be in effect. A financial ledger the Times-Union obtained in a public-records request describes more than 100 separate payments of varying amounts from the insurance carrier, AEGIS, to seven different law firms, including four that have taken the lead on the defense efforts for Zahn and Wannemacher in federal court.

Jacksonville Beach voters might decide fate of volunteer lifeguards after all” via Matt Soergel of The Florida Times-Union — A judge’s ruling this week means Jacksonville Beach voters still might have a chance to decide the fate of the Volunteer Life Saving Corps. Volunteers had patrolled the city’s beaches part-time since 1912 until recent legal concerns arose. The Jacksonville Beach City Council turned down a proposed ballot referendum that would have left it up to voters in November to decide if volunteer lifeguards could go back on duty alongside paid Jacksonville Beach Ocean Rescue guards. Council members praised the work of the volunteer corps over the decades but said they were concerned the referendum was not legally valid for several reasons.

Development, campaign tactics dominate Nassau County Commission District 4 Primary” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — Sleepy western Nassau County became home to one of the most heated County Commission races in Northeast Florida as newcomer Alyson McCullough and former Commissioner George Spicer try to unseat incumbent District 4 Commissioner Thomas Ford. Like in the District 2 race, debate over development represented by the Riverstone Properties tower proposal became the first big issue. McCullough took out an ad before the Commission vote, indicating Ford’s previous vote on tower restrictions shows he would vote with the developer again, which he did.

A trio of candidates shakes up sleepy western Nassau County.

Nassau County School Board races flying under the radar” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — In a year of highly politicized School Board campaigns across Florida, along with DeSantis putting the significant strength of his organization behind more than two dozen candidates, the Nassau County School Board races managed to fly under the radar. In Nassau, there are two contested races, one that’s a matter of old faces, new places, and the other that’s an open seat. Jamie Deonas lent his campaign $15,000 in January in his re-election effort to the Nassau County School Board, but the prospect of competing against that money didn’t deter Shannon Hogue or Rick Pavelock from putting up a challenge.


The case for Trump is getting more radical every year” via David French of The Atlantic — While Trump was not the normal politician, the reasons I heard for supporting him were (mostly) conventional, and unsurprising. There’s a long history of different American constituencies feeling disregarded and disrespected. There’s a long history of populist movements in American politics.

Here’s the new narrative — and I have no doubt that a number of readers have heard all or much of it from their MAGA friends and family members — goes something like this:

The Trump presidency exposed the true evil of the left. They persecuted Trump more than any other President in history. First, there was the Russia hoax, then the impeachment hoax, then they shut down the economy and schools to destroy Trump; they shut down churches to destroy the Church. Why do I stand with Trump? Because God has appointed him for this moment. And the hatred of the Democrats is proof.

Where do you go after you’ve declared the election stolen or after you’ve declared that your opponents are pure evil?

While there’s evidence that Republican radicalism might hurt the party in November, especially in the Senate, no one should presume that radicalism will doom the GOP. If a voter is dissatisfied with the status quo, they may well vote for the opposition even if the opposition is radicalized. They may see that vote as their only concrete way to register their discontent.


With Trump, Merrick Garland can’t afford to miss” via Ross Douthat of The New York Times — Garland’s choices turn on facts that the public can see only through a glass darkly. But I sincerely hope that the Attorney General had the Russiagate experience in mind when he signed off on the search of Mar-a-Lago and that he considers how Mueller’s investigation finished as he considers his next move. It needs to be clear, crystal clear, what separates any crimes he might be charged with from the breach of intelligence protocols that Hillary Clinton wasn’t charged with. You don’t just need a plausible legal case that tests interesting questions about presidential declassification powers; you need an easy-to-explain slam-dunk.

No, Trump voters aren’t incapable of changing their minds about him” via Eve Fairbanks of The Washington Post — Investigating and discussing his acts does matter, even if it’s in ways we can’t immediately see. It would be too bad if the narrative that Trump’s voters are unreachable hardened completely. Looking back at the polls that supported arguments about Trump’s invulnerability is an odd experience, because many of them just aren’t that dispiriting. If 6 out of 10 Trump voters said they’d never lose confidence in him, 4 out of 10 thought they might. There’s a lot of uncertainty and ambiguity in what Trump’s supporters think, even room for persuasion.


— ALOE —

John Rhys Plumlee named UCF football’s starting quarterback” via Jason Beede of the Orlando Sentinel — UCF coach Gus Malzahn has named Plumlee the team’s starting quarterback. Plumlee beat out sophomore Mikey Keene and true freshman Thomas Castellanos to earn the job. “All the way back to spring, I’ve watched every scrimmage, the ones that were live and the other ones that weren’t, just trying to put [together] all of the information to make the best decision,” Malzahn said before the announcement.

UCF taps John Rhys Plumlee to lead the Knights to glory. Image via UCF.


Happy birthday to Sen. Dennis Baxley, former Sen. Bill Montford, former Secretary of State Kurt Browning, former Clearwater City Commissioner Doreen Caudell, and scribe Mark Hinson.


Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel Dean, Renzo Downey, Jacob Ogles, and Drew Wilson.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.


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, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

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