Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 8.26.22

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Who's up, down, in and out — your morning tipsheet on Florida politics.

Good Friday morning.

Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book defeated Broward County Commissioner Barbara Sharief to win re-election on Tuesday.

And she did so convincingly.

Many outside of Broward assumed Book would win — maybe not by 21 points, but not in a squeaker either.

That’s not the case, according to a newly published internal poll from the early days of the race. The Clearview Research Poll shows that in early April, it was actually Book who was down double digits in the race for Senate District 35.

On Tuesday, Lauren Book showed her mettle and beat the polling. Image via Twitter.

Just three in 10 likely Democratic voters in the district knew enough about Book to have an opinion on her, and though she was seen favorably at 23%-7%, her numbers paled in comparison to Sharief, who was known by more than half those polled and scored 44%-7% on favorability.

The same poll showed that if the head-to-head were held in April, Sharief would have trounced Book 41%-17%.

At face value, it means Book was able to convince every single voter who was on the fence — and some on the other side of it — to give her their vote.

Maybe the SD 35 contest ended up being a distraction from Senate battleground races, but it also proved that the Senate Democratic Leader has mettle and that her campaign team literally gave it 110% effort.


The canvassers and organizers at progressive field organization For Our Future have unionized, joining the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2304.

In a news release, Executive Director Sky Gallegos said FOF “was proud to voluntarily recognize the union and is thrilled that our staff came together with a strong, collective voice calling for representation.”

She added, “We are a stronger and more productive organization with a unionized field staff. As an organization that fights every day for workers, pro-worker candidates, and shared economic prosperity, it is imperative that we live our values within our own organization.”

The genesis for unionization came from FOF’s Wisconsin troupe, which made the decision in the fall of 2021. In the year since, FOF staff and management and the union worked together to expand the bargaining agreement to include the field staff in all FOF states, which include Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania in addition to Florida.

As of now, about 150 For Our Future staff are eligible to be in the union. The organization said that number will increase significantly as the November election approaches. By Election Day in 2020, For Our Future employed more than 1,000 field staff across the country.

“The bargaining unit at For Our Future is extremely excited to stand in solidarity and so proud to be represented by IBEW Local 2304,” said Aislinn Bauer, a digital organizer at For Our Future-Wisconsin and assistant business representative at IBEW Local 2304. “As a supporter of the labor movement in our work, it is important that we stand together and show that we too, are a part of the labor movement.”


Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:

—@GavinNewsom: Time to make Ron DeSantis a one-term Governor. I’m pledging $100k right now to @CharlieCrist. Who will join me in helping Charlie become the next Governor of Florida?

@noahpransky: Morning note: @CharlieCrist tells POLITICO he raised $1M in first day as Fla’s gubernatorial nominee. As we said on @NBCLX, the DeSantis $100+M head start might look like chump change by the time this race is over.

—@KirbyWTweets: Worth noting that @GovRonDeSantis, who went to Yale and Harvard Law, still has north of $21k in student loan debt, per his financial disclosure. However, he doesn’t appear to be eligible for forgiveness: his loans are private, and he makes too much as Gov.

—@ChristinaPushaw: I’m not angry about anyone getting a $10K handout for student debt. I’m angry about WHO’S PAYING for it. Massive transfer of wealth from working class to credentialed professionals in top 3-5% of income. Why not make universities pay from their Diversity Equity Inclusion budgets?

—@NilesGApol: Not saying that (Gwen) Graham is a bad choice, but you would think after 2020 that Crist would want to choose a Hispanic running mate

@Redistrict: Lots of focus on Dems being more engaged/energetic post-Dobbs, which is undeniably true. But to me, the GOP/Trump base appears less engaged than it was last November, which is just as big a part of the story.

Tweet, tweet:

—@ddale8: Laura Loomer, bigot who got more than 44% in a GOP House Primary in Florida this week but lost by more than 6 points, has declared on Telegram that “I actually am the Congresswoman … and everyone knows it,” though you’re not even the Congresswoman when you do win a Primary.

Tweet, tweet:


Launch window opens for NASA to launch the Artemis I — 3; 2022 Florida Chamber Technology & Innovation Solution Summit — 5; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 7; NFL Opening Night: LA Rams vs. Buffalo Bills — 3; 2022 Emmys — 16; JMI’s 2022 Tech & Innovation Summit begins — 20; final season of ‘Atlanta’ begins — 20; ‘Andor’ premieres on Disney+ — 26; vote-by-mail mailing deadline for General Election — 41; deadline to register for General Election — 45; 22-23 NHL season begins — 46; ‘Before You Vote’ TV debates (Senate) — 53; ‘Before You Vote’ TV debates (Governor) — 55; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 60; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 60; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 61; Early voting begins for General Election — 65; 2022 General Election — 74; ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ premieres — 77; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 77; FITCon 2022 begins — 83; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 83; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 87; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 87; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 88; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 96; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 96; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 112; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 175; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 193; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 210; American Association of Political Consultants Pollies’ 23 conference begins — 235; 2023 Session Sine Die — 252; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 252; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 280; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 329; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 434; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 448; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 581; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 700; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 700; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 805; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 980.


‘Ghost’ candidate to testify Seminole GOP chair asked her to run” via Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel — Jestine Iannotti, whose independent candidacy was central to an apparent vote-siphoning scheme in a competitive Central Florida state Senate race in 2020, is expected to testify in court next week that Seminole County GOP Chair Ben Paris asked her to run.

Iannotti will take the witness stand at Paris’ criminal trial, which begins Monday. He is facing a misdemeanor charge that he contributed to Iannotti’s candidacy in his cousin’s name.

Halloween came early: Ben Paris spooked a 2020 Senate race by enlisting a ‘ghost’ candidate.

The scheme apparently was an attempt to aid Republican Sen. Jason Brodeur, who was Paris’ boss at the Seminole County Chamber of Commerce at the time of the race. Brodeur has denied any knowledge of his former employee’s actions.

Paris’ alleged role in recruiting Iannotti settles one of the scandal’s lingering mysteries: how the former substitute teacher with no political experience who was in the process of moving to Sweden came to be one of three “ghost” candidates who helped Republicans win key Florida Senate races in 2020.

Paris allegedly asked Iannotti to run during a five-and-a-half-minute phone call just after 9 a.m. on May 29, 2020, according to the records.

Afterward, he texted political consultant Eric Foglesong, who helped Iannotti become a candidate. Foglesong and Iannotti spoke by phone three times that day, including one call that lasted about 33 minutes, the records show. Iannotti and Foglesong, who are accused of misreporting campaign contributions, also are facing criminal charges in connection with the scheme.

Orlando Sentinel opposes Seminole GOP chair’s request to seal criminal case” via Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel — The Orlando Sentinel is opposing an effort by Seminole County GOP Chair Paris to block public access to records associated with the case until its conclusion. An attorney representing Paris, who is accused of illegally disguising his contribution to the campaign of independent candidate Iannotti, filed a motion on Tuesday to seal court records in the case against his client, who is scheduled to stand trial Monday.


Ron DeSantis rolls eyes at Charlie Crist’s ‘dictator’ charge” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — DeSantis says he’s not an autocrat. He’s a trendsetter. During a news conference in Orlando on Thursday, a reporter asked DeSantis to respond to U.S. Rep. Crist’s accusations that the Governor is a “dictator.” Laughter from the audience of DeSantis’ supporters drowned out the end of the reporter’s question as he smirked and rolled his eyes. Crist, DeSantis’ Democratic challenger, frequently uses the “dictator” and “autocrat” label to criticize the Governor over his policies on abortion and education material, namely restrictions on “woke” instruction and discussions on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Ron DeSantis insists he is not a tyrant. Image via Reuters.

New ‘Watchtower’ website to scrutinize Ron DeSantis’ donor relationships” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — New scrutiny is promised for DeSantis and his cozy ties to some of the richest people in the country, who happen also to be some of his biggest donors. DeSantis Watch, a collaboration between Florida Watch and Progress Florida, is rolling out a new Watchtower website billed as an “aggressive General Election accountability project” aimed at the Governor. “No politician in the country spends more time abandoning the people they were elected to serve in order to advance their own personal ambitions than Ron DeSantis,” said DeSantis Watch Communications Director Anders Croy.

Crist raises $1M in first 24 hours as Democratic nominee” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Crist raised more than $1 million in his first 24 hours as the official Democratic nominee for Governor. The St. Petersburg Democrat’s campaign announced the seven-figure haul to Florida Politics. The burst in funding came a day after Crist won 60% of the vote in the Aug. 23 Democratic Primary against Nikki Fried. “There have been a lot of questions on whether Democrats can compete with Ron DeSantis — today makes it clear we can,” said Austin Durrer, Crist’s Campaign Manager. “Florida will be a marquee battleground state this November. Charlie Crist can and will stop Ron DeSantis right here, right now.” More than 80% of donations came from first-time donors, mostly small donors, with the average donation around $47.

Gavin Newsom pledges $100K to deny DeSantis a second term” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — “Time to make Ron DeSantis a one-term Governor. I’m pledging $100k right now,” Newsom tweeted. “Who will join me in helping Charlie become the next Governor of Florida?” Newsom’s vow seems to be an early sign that after months of Democratic gubernatorial candidates trailing DeSantis badly in the cash races, help may be on the way from blue state Democrats. Newsom’s vow seems to be an early sign that after months of Democratic gubernatorial candidates trailing DeSantis badly in the cash races, help may be on the way from blue state Democrats. Newsom has already messaged against DeSantis once this cycle, where he inverted the DeSantis construct of the Free State of Florida to suggest DeSantis is actually restricting freedoms.

Gavin Newsom ponies up to make Ron DeSantis a one-termer.

Could Crist and Val Demings help each other win in the General Election” via Gail Levy and Matthew Seaver of WINK — Crist faces an uphill battle as he tries to topple DeSantis. Crist says he’ll focus on abortion rights and remind voters about other controversial aspects of DeSantis’ leadership, but the big concern for Crist is money since DeSantis has hundreds of millions of dollars for his campaign. Crist knows the fight ahead won’t be easy, but that doesn’t mean he’s lost his confidence. “I think we’re going to beat this guy. I really do, and you know I know nobody else thinks so, but I know so,” said Crist.

— 2022 —

GOP prospects narrow in House as Democrats overperform in early contests” via Hannah Knowles, David Weigel and Paul Kane of The Washington Post — Republicans are facing dimming prospects for an overwhelming sweep in the House this fall, according to independent analysts and strategists across parties, as Democrats defy a long-predicted red wave in early contests by capitalizing on abortion’s rise as a campaign issue and a renewed focus on Donald Trump. Democratic candidates now have outperformed Joe Biden’s 2020 margins in four special elections held since the Supreme Court overturned the nationwide right to abortion enshrined in Roe v. Wade.

Joe Biden to step back onto the campaign trail in Maryland” via John Wagner and Mariana Alfaro of The Washington Post — Biden is stepping onto the campaign trail with a planned rally in Rockville, Maryland, hosted by the Democratic National Committee. The event comes as once-dreary prospects for Democrats appear to be improving in the upcoming midterm elections. The rally will offer Biden a chance to tout recent legislative successes and frame the choice voters face in November. Meanwhile, Biden had a call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to reaffirm U.S. support a day after announcing a new military aid package. On Wednesday, Biden also made good on a controversial campaign promise to cancel a portion of the education debt held by millions of Americans.

Positive Marco Rubio ad spotlights ways incumbent ‘gets stuff done’” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — As voters turn their attention toward the General Election, U.S. Sen. Rubio released a new ad touting his accomplishments. The 30-second spot runs through a series of nut-and-bolts issues with broad appeal, from stepping in with a Jacksonville slumlord dispute to crafting legislation to help businesses survive the pandemic. “Marco Rubio gets stuff done for Florida,” said Elizabeth Gregory, communications director for his campaign. “He’s a tireless fighter for this state and the only candidate in this race who has delivered result after result for the people of Florida.”

To watch the ad, please click on the image below:

Anti-China group airs ads criticizing Demings” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — An outside group is releasing ads criticizing Demings, tying her to Biden’s record on China. Stand Up to China released a 30-second spot that first aired today in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale media market. The video spot begins suggesting domestic failures by the administration before taking Democratic leaders to task on foreign policy. “Violent crime is on the rise, fueled by waves of deadly drugs from China,” a narrator states.

To watch the ad, please click on the image below:

Democrats fret over low Black and Latino voter turnout in Florida primaries” via Adrian Carrasquillo of Newsweek — Florida Democrats saw a largely positive outcome in Tuesday’s Primary results, with Crist and Demings at the top of the ticket moving on to face DeSantis and Rubio in November, respectively. Turnout was also up slightly in the contested Governor’s race, while DeSantis ran unopposed. But one grassroots group sees troubling signs within the turnout data and worries about what it could mean for the General Election in increasingly red Florida if Democrats don’t take the right lessons from the results.

Surprise squeaker for CD 4 Democrats results in victory for LaShonda Holloway” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — A mandatory recount is on the way, but it appears Holloway defeated former state Sen. Tony Hill in one of the low-key surprises of the Primaries. The surprise to Holloway, though, was that the Democratic Primary in Florida’s 4th Congressional District was so tight. “I did not expect it to be this close,” Holloway said. The latest unofficial numbers show Holloway with 50.18% of the vote, compared to Hill’s 49.82%. She acknowledged Hill had an advantage by being in politics for 26 years, so voters knew him locally.

Ex-U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown finishes 4th in crowded race for Congressional seat from Orlando” via Steve Patterson of The Florida Times-Union — Former U.S. Rep. Brown, a historic figure in Jacksonville politics, fell short Tuesday in her effort to win a 13th term in Congress by running in an open Central Florida district. Brown finished fourth in a 10-person contest among Democrats seeking to represent Congressional District 10 in Orange County. The Primary race was won by Maxwell Alejandro Frost, a 25-year-old community organizer aiming to be among the first Gen-Z members of Congress. He’ll face Republican Calvin Wimbish in the November General Election.

LGBTQ+ candidates win in aftermath of ‘Don’t Say Gay’” via Brooke Migdon of The Hill — Seven openly LGBTQ+ candidates running for state House or Senate seats in Florida have won their Primaries, advancing to November’s General Election where voters will decide whether to triple LGBTQ+ representation in the state Legislature. Florida’s legislature made national headlines in January when state Republicans introduced the Parental Rights in Education bill, known to its critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, to restrict public schoolteachers’ ability to engage in classroom instruction related to sexual orientation and gender identity. Florida Senators in March passed the controversial legislation, rejecting more than a dozen amendments that would have bolstered protections for LGBTQ+ students and their families.

Ileana Garcia adds $24K to commanding money lead over latecomer Raquel Pacheco in SD 36” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Sen. Garcia added more than $24,000 in the first two weeks of August to further lengthen the significant funding lead she holds over a late-coming Democratic challenger in Senate District 36. After spending about $10,000 from Aug. 1-18, Garcia had $727,000 between her campaign account and political committee, No More Socialism. This election cycle alone, she’s raised $829,000 and spent $145,000. She also received $214,000 worth of in-kind aid from the Florida Republican Senatorial Committee, including $33,000 this month for staff and consulting services.

Lindsay Cross, Audrey Henson both head into General Election with $220K cash-on-hand” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Cross and Henson will both start the period before the General Election with roughly $220,000 cash on hand. The pair, who are racing to succeed Democratic Rep. Ben Diamond in the St. Petersburg district, have both raised substantial funds leading up to the Primary. While Democratic candidate Cross leads in total fundraising, Henson has a slight cash-on-hand advantage. Cross, an environmental scientist, started the week with $220,985 cash on hand between her campaign and affiliated political committee, Moving Pinellas Forward. Pinellas County businesswoman Henson, on the other hand, will start the week with $228,984 in available spending money between her campaign and affiliated committee, Friends of Audrey Henson.

Gary Farmer in runoff election for circuit judge” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Primary Election night left former Senate Democratic Leader Farmer in a runoff election with the second finisher in his contest for circuit judge in the 17th Judicial Circuit, which covers Broward County. Farmer received 39% of 237,387 votes cast for circuit judge, Group 23, compared to Tania Marie Williams, who received 32%. The third candidate, Rhoda Sokoloff, trailed with 29%. In nonpartisan elections like this one, rules require that the winning candidate receive at least 51% of the votes.

Did anti-abortion ruling lead to sitting Hillsborough County judge’s defeat?” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — Hillsborough County Democrats are exuberant about Nancy Jacobs’ defeat of Circuit Judge Jared Smith in Tuesday’s Primary, saying it signals that backing reproductive rights will energize voters in November. Jacobs, who practices criminal defense and family law, has run unsuccessfully for judge twice before. She defeated Smith 52-48 percent after a contentious campaign in which a decision by Smith denying a minor permission for an abortion was an issue. Smith, who is active in a conservative evangelical church, was appointed by then-Gov. Rick Scott in 2017 and elected in 2018 to a county judgeship. DeSantis then appointed him to a circuit judgeship in 2019.

Field set for Miami Beach election to fill Mark Samuelian’s seat. Here’s who is running” via Aaron Liebowitz of the Miami Herald — Five candidates will compete in November to fill the late Samuelian’s seat on the Miami Beach City Commission, including his partner, Laura Dominguez. After Thursday’s 5 p.m. deadline passed to qualify as a candidate, the city clerk’s office confirmed Dominguez, disability rights advocate Sabrina Cohen, hotel owner Mitch Novick, investor Stephen Cohen and environmental scientist Isaiah Mosley would be the candidates in the Nov. 8 Special Election.

The race is set to succeed the late Mark Samuelian.

Commission victories show establishment politics still reign in Brevard” via Ralph Chapoco and Eric Rogers of Florida Today — For all the fresh possibilities that first-time political candidates brought to the table, the winners of Tuesday’s Primary Election showed that, for the most part, establishment politics still win the day in Brevard County. Nowhere was that clearer than in the two County Commission races, dominated Tuesday by two well-connected Brevard political insiders: Former State Rep. Tom Goodson in District 2 and Rob Feltner in District 4, a political consultant who has helped elect some of Brevard’s top politicians. Both men will ride the support of party leaders, prominent elected officials, and a deep well of local lobbyists and special interests into the November election.

Can City Commission colleagues put political rancor aside after ‘downright ugly’ election?” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — Tallahassee’s City Commission colleagues will have to reel in their Primary campaign rhetoric and once again work together. All but one sitting official, City Commissioner Curtis Richardson, publicly jumped into the political arena either as a candidate or supporter of someone facing off against a colleague on the dais. The dynamics of the 2022 Primary saw Commissioners Jeremy Matlow and Jack Porter working phone banks, appearing in ads for and vocally supporting candidate Adner Marcelin, who ran and lost to Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox.

Paul Fetsko and Raymond Guillory to go head-to-head in runoff for Escambia County school board seat” via Colin Warren-Hicks of the Pensacola News Journal — Yes, Primary Election night is over, but, no, we’re not done with elections just yet. While two of the three Escambia County School Board races were decided Tuesday night, seeing incumbent Kevin Adams retain his seat representing District 1 and challenger David Williams oust the incumbent for the board’s District 3 seat, one race remains yet undecided. The election for the District 2 seat will be decided in a runoff race between incumbent Fetsko and challenger Guillory on Nov. 8. Florida laws governing School Board elections dictate that there is a runoff in the General Election if no candidate garners more than 50% of the vote in the Primary.

Some spent pennies, others went big. We tallied the price per vote in Leon County races” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — With more than $1.8 million in campaign cash pumped into Leon County’s contested Primary races, big spenders didn’t always come out on top. Broken out into “price per vote,” the expenditures revealed who spent the most per ballot cast, $87.11 for County Commission District 2 candidate Christian Caban, who spent the least, School Board candidate Anthony DeMarco at 39 cents and whether heavy spending on tight races made a difference in the outcome. The total dollar amount spent by political committees or others behind the scenes is tough to pin down, but many who outspent their competitors from their own accounts didn’t come up with the decisive victories they were hoping for.

Local Proud Boy worked Miami-Dade polling station for Aug. 23 Primary” via Alex Deluca of the Miami New Times — Over the past several years, members of the far-right Proud Boys have sought to make their presence felt in many an avenue of civic life. Local School Boards. Police departments. Political committees. And, as of Florida’s Aug. 23 Midterm Primary Elections, the polls. That’s right, it seems at least one applicant to work at an election site in Miami-Dade took the county’s encouraging words to “Be a Proud Poll Worker” literally.


Disturbance entering the Caribbean has potential to develop this weekend, forecasters say” via Chris Perkins of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The National Hurricane Center is monitoring two areas, and one is a disturbance poised to enter the Caribbean. As of 2 p.m. Thursday, the odds of developing further held steady at 20% over the next five days. Conditions could become more favorable for development this weekend or early next week as it moves through the central and western Caribbean. It is producing disorganized thunderstorms as it moves at 15 mph Thursday afternoon. Currently, it is expected to stay well south of South Florida as it moves west.

DeSantis cuts tolls for commuters for six months starting Sept. 1” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — Florida commuters who frequently hit tolls will receive a discount at the end of each month, starting Sept. 1. DeSantis unveiled the SunPass Savings Program at an event in Orlando. He said it would save 400,000 drivers $40 million over the course of the six months it’s in effect. SunPass and other Florida residents with toll transponders who go through 40 tolls in a month will receive a 20% discount, and those with 80 toll interactions will get a 25% cut in their bill at month’s end. DeSantis said commuters don’t have to sign up for anything, but drivers must have their account in good standing, without any unpaid tolls or fines to receive the discount.

Ron DeSantis is giving drivers a break on tolls.

‘We are not being indoctrinated.’ Students, teachers say new education laws stifle schools” via Kerry Sheridan of WUSF — A series of new laws in Florida that bolster parental rights in education, call for curriculum transparency and say no one should be taught to feel guilt for actions in the past by those of the same race or sex, are stifling educators and creating problems in the classroom, according to some teachers and students. “We have drawn a very clear line in the sand that says our school system is for educating kids, not indoctrinating kids,” said DeSantis in July at the Moms for Liberty conference in Tampa. He would repeat that refrain as he campaigned for conservative School Board members across the state ahead of the Aug. 23 Primary Election.

Florida Power & Light pocketed $1 billion in tax cuts for itself. But now it can pass tax increases on to its customers” via Jason Garcia of Seeking Rents — Florida Power & Light’s new record-setting rate increase — which was approved last year by DeSantis’ Public Service Commission — allows the company to raise rates even higher if its corporate tax bill goes up. In other words, FPL’s rate deal lets the company make its customers pay for any tax increase — instead of making FPL’s stockholders pay for it. Florida’s other big power companies — Duke Energy and Tampa Electric — have similar tax pass-through provisions built into their new rate deals, too. But this stands out with Florida Power & Light in particular. Because it comes just three years after DeSantis’ Public Service Commission allowed FPL to pocket more than $1 billion in savings from corporate tax cuts — instead of passing those savings on to customers.

Growing distilleries say ‘cheers’ to serving cocktails under new law” via Austin Fuller of the Orlando Sentinel — The family that owns Maw’s Mountain Moonshine has wanted to open a distillery for a few years now, and their dreams came true after a change in Florida law allowed craft liquor makers to serve cocktails. The business on Alexander Street opened last week with mixed drinks such as the “Once in a Blue Moon” made with blueberry muffin moonshine, pineapple juice and coconut cream. Before the law changed, craft distilleries were allowed to sell only six sealed bottles or other containers of each type of liquor per year to a customer. Now, people can enjoy drinks at the businesses and don’t face that strict limit on how much they can take home.


Biden student loan plan squarely targets the middle class” via Jim Tankersley of The New York Times — According to independent analyses, the people eligible for debt relief are disproportionately young and Black. And they are concentrated in the middle band of Americans by income, defined as households earning between $51,000 and $82,000 a year. In choosing to extend more generous debt relief than even many of his allies had expected, Biden is offering what independent analysts suggest would be his most targeted assistance yet to middle-class workers, while attempting to repair what he casts as a broken bridge to the middle-class for young people across the country. The economic consensus is that both debt forgiveness and a restart next year of loan payments for all borrowers after a nearly three-year pause, will mostly be a wash for consumer prices.

Joe Biden’s student loan plan could help up to 40 million, mostly middle-class, borrowers.

Reconciliation language shores up EPA clean air authority” via David Jordan and Benjamin J. Hulac of Roll Call — Folded into the text of the climate, health care and tax bill that became law last week is the language that may buttress a 2007 Supreme Court precedent underpinning EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act. The measure signed into law by Biden on Aug. 16 included multiple amendments to the foundational environmental law first passed in 1970. Senate Environment and Public Works Chair Thomas Carper said they were “the most significant changes since 1990.” They label six types of greenhouse gases — carbon dioxide, hydrofluorocarbons, methane, nitrous oxide, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride — as air pollutants under the act. While the Supreme Court has ruled the EPA has authority to regulate these gases as air pollutants it has not been reflected in statutes.

U.S., China near deal to allow audit inspection of New York-listed Chinese companies” via Keith Zhai of The Wall Street Journal — The U.S. and China are nearing an agreement that would allow American accounting regulators to travel to Hong Kong to inspect the audit records of Chinese companies listed in New York, according to people familiar with the matter, as the two countries move toward resolving a yearslong standoff. Securities regulators in Beijing are making arrangements for U.S.-listed Chinese companies and their accounting firms to transfer their audit working papers and other data from mainland China to Hong Kong, the people said. Regulators from the U.S. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board would then travel to the semi-autonomous city to perform on-site inspections of the Chinese companies’ auditors and their records, they added.

Senator slams Amazon’s ‘Ring Nation’ as surveillance-state TV” via Gary Baum of The Hollywood Reporter — Amazon’s synergistic plan for a lighthearted show based on footage culled from Ring, its controversial digital doorbell, is being denounced as surveillance-state TV by U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat and member of the Commerce Committee who’s investigated Ring’s privacy policies and civil rights protections. “Let’s be clear, this is no America’s Funniest Home Videos — Amazon appears to be producing an outright advertisement for its own Ring products and masking it as entertainment,” he said. “The Ring platform has too often made over-policing and over-surveillance a real and pressing problem for America’s neighborhoods and attempts to normalize these problems are no laughing matter.

Eight sources say feds are not done with Matt Gaetz” via Jose Pagliery, Roger Sollenberger and Asta Hemenway of The Daily Beast — When Rep. Gaetz beat his Primary challenger Tuesday, he delivered a speech to family and friends predicting an easy repeat victory in November that would allow him to remain with “Republicans with a will to fight and a backbone.” There was, predictably, no mention of the underage sex trafficking investigation that could one day be catastrophic to his political career. That federal probe that generated national attention for a few weeks last year has since quieted down. But it’s not over. Eight people with direct knowledge of the probe confirmed the case is still unfolding, albeit at a methodical pace, as federal prosecutors work their way across a number of spokes of possible criminality.

Matt Gaetz is not quite off the hook. Image via NBC News.

2 Florida residents plead guilty in scheme to sell Ashley Biden’s diary” via Jennifer Peltz of The Associated Press — Two Florida residents have pleaded guilty in a scheme to peddle a diary and other items belonging to Biden’s daughter to the conservative group Project Veritas for $40,000, prosecutors said Thursday. Aimee Harris and Robert Kurlander pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport stolen property across state lines, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Damian Williams’ office said. “Harris and Kurlander sought to profit from their theft of another person’s personal property, and they now stand convicted of a federal felony as a result,” Williams said in a statement. Harris, 40, of Palm Beach, and Kurlander, 58, face the possibility of up to five years in prison when sentenced.


Redacted Mar-a-Lago search affidavit to be released by noon Friday” via Perry Stein of The Washington Post — A redacted version of the affidavit justifying the FBI search of Trump’s Florida residence must be unsealed in federal court by noon Friday. The order arrived hours after Justice Department lawyers submitted proposed redactions they felt were necessary to avoid jeopardizing witnesses or undermining the high-profile investigation into the handling of classified documents, which the Justice Department has characterized as still in the “early stages.” Federal Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart apparently agreed with their proposed redactions and, in response to requests from multiple news organizations, ordered the affidavit to be made available for public view.

We will soon know why Donald Trump’s home was searched.

Donald Trump, without the Presidency’s protections, struggles for a strategy” via Maggie Haberman, Glenn Thrush and Alan Feuer of The New York Times — Trump has projected his usual bravado, and raised millions of dollars online from outraged supporters, since federal agents descended on Mar-a-Lago more than two weeks ago. But something is different this time and the errant court filing offered a glimpse into the confusion and uncertainty the investigation has exposed inside Trump’s camp. The documents investigation represents the greatest legal threat Trump has faced in years, and he is going into the battle shorn of the protective infrastructure and constitutional armor of the presidency. After years of burning through lawyers, he has struggled to hire new ones, and has a small group of lawyers of varying experience.

Trump’s social media app facing financial fallout” via Charlie Gasparino and Eleanor Terrett of Fox News — Trump’s social media outfit, Truth Social, is locked in a bitter battle with one of its vendors claiming that the platform is stiffing the company out of more than $1 million in contractually obligated payments, FOX Business has learned. If the allegations are true, they would suggest that Truth Social’s finances are in significant disarray, people with direct knowledge of the matter say. Internet infrastructure company RightForge is said to be among Truth Social’s largest vendors and creditors, these people say. In October, RightForge announced it entered into an agreement to host Truth Social, which Trump helped create after Twitter banned him following the Jan. 6 riots.

Watchdog: Trump Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke lied in casino case” via Valerie Yurk of Roll Call — Trump’s Interior Secretary Zinke, now a candidate to return to Congress representing Montana’s 1st District, knowingly misled federal investigators when discussing a controversial casino proposal, according to the Interior Department’s inspector general’s office. According to the internal watchdog’s report released Wednesday, investigators found that Zinke and his chief of staff, Scott Hommel, made statements that presented an “inaccurate version of the circumstances in which the DOI made key decisions,” leading the office to determine Zinke “did not comply with their duty of candor.” Investigators noted in the report that they had given their findings to the Justice Department in 2018, but DOJ declined prosecution in this matter in the summer of 2021.

Election denying Primary candidates are crying fraud, win or lose” via Kaleigh Rogers of FiveThirtyEight — At least a dozen Primary candidates have lost their election and then immediately cried fraud. But many election deniers are winning their elections, which presents them with more of a conundrum. When you’ve spent months complaining that the election system is rigged, what do you say when you win? For some candidates, the solution is to go mum. Doug Mastriano, the Republican nominee for Governor in Pennsylvania, had a long history of parroting Trump’s claims of a stolen election, until he won his Primary. When he declared victory on Election Night, he had nothing to say. And he’s not alone — many Republican nominees were all too happy to accept the results of their own races after spending months casting doubts on the 2020 election.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

Our plan might have paid off’: How FPL dollars secretly funded a spoiler against Daniella Levine Cava” via Nicholas Nehamas, Douglas Hanks, Sarah Blaskey and Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — Johnathan Burke needed help. It was the day before an election pitting Burke — a 33-year-old first-time candidate who had turned his life around after a series of arrests — against incumbent Levine Cava for her seat on the Miami-Dade County Commission. “Tomorrow is the day and I’d like to get ppl to the polls to represent me,” Burke texted his high-powered political consultant Jeff Pitts on Aug. 27, 2018. “Please get back to me ASAP.” But Pitts didn’t respond to the message. Burke didn’t need to win. All he had to do was siphon votes away from Levine Cava, a fellow Democrat and progressive environmentalist with mayoral aspirations who had clashed with one of Pitts’ biggest clients — Florida Power & Light.

Jeff Pitts was doing more than consulting in a 2018 Miami-Dade Commission race.

Dr. Mehmet Oz spent years, millions improving Palm Beach mansion. Now he’ll get a tax break” via Alex Roarty of the Miami Herald — Two weeks before he would become one of the year’s most famous and polarizing Republican nominees for office, Oz was approved for a large tax exemption on a house he owns in a community close to his heart. The tax break wasn’t for Oz’s newly purchased home in Pennsylvania, the state he is trying to represent in the U.S. Senate. And it wasn’t for any of his properties in New Jersey, which critics argue is Oz’s true home state. It was for a house in Palm Beach, a playground for the wealthy that Oz has described as “heaven.”

Singer Island beach party, apology and petition to remove Riviera councilwoman stirs anger, confusion” via Wayne Washington of The Palm Beach Post — Confusion and frustration are mounting in the effort to recall Riviera Beach City Council member Julia Botel, whose public comments and actions in advance of a beach party last month infuriated many of the city’s Black residents. On Aug. 8, recall supporters turned in thousands of signed petitions. The number of registered voters in the city in March is key because that determines how many signed petitions recall backers need to move to the next stage of the process. Neither recall supporters nor The Palm Beach Post have been able to get from the city or the county elections office the number of voters who were registered in Riviera Beach during its municipal elections in March.

Singer Island beach party, apology and petition to remove Riviera councilwoman stirs anger, confusion” via Wayne Washington of The Palm Beach Post — Confusion and frustration are mounting in the effort to recall Riviera Beach City Council member Julia Botel, whose public comments and actions in advance of a beach party last month infuriated many of the city’s Black residents. On Aug. 8, recall supporters turned in thousands of signed petitions. The number of registered voters in the city in March is key because that determines how many signed petitions recall backers need to move to the next stage of the process. Neither recall supporters nor The Palm Beach Post have been able to get from the city or the county elections office the number of voters who were registered in Riviera Beach during its Municipal Elections in March.

Sylvester Stallone divorce: Jennifer Flavin files in county, cites ‘waste of marital assets’” via Julius Whigham II of The Palm Beach Post — The wife of Hollywood actor Stallone filed for divorce in Palm Beach County Circuit Court last week, saying the couple’s 25-year marriage is “irretrievably broken.” Entrepreneur and former model Flavin filed a petition for “dissolution of marriage” Aug. 19, court records show. The couple married in May 1997 in London and have three daughters. In December 2020, the couple bought a lakefront Palm Beach estate on the far north end of the island.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

DeSantis, agencies want Reedy Creek taxpayer lawsuit tossed” via Katie Rice of the Orlando Sentinel — DeSantis and the leaders of two state agencies are asking a court to dismiss a lawsuit brought against them by Osceola County residents over the dissolution of Disney World’s Reedy Creek Improvement District. Lawyers for DeSantis, Secretary of State Cord Byrd, and Department of Revenue Executive Director Jim Zingale filed the motion on Aug. 19. Among other allegations, they argued the plaintiffs “have no legal right to prohibit the State of Florida from dissolving governmental entities created by state law.”

Cord Byrd is among the Florida officials calling for an end to the Reedy Creek taxpayer lawsuit.

State buys 16K acres in DeSoto, Hardee for preservation” via Daniel Sutphin of the Arcadian — Around 16,000 acres have been acquired for conservation in DeSoto and Hardee counties. DeSantis announced the state has invested more than $56 million to acquire around 20,000 acres in Florida for conservation. That includes 11,958 acres along Horse Creek on Carlton Horse Creek Ranch in DeSoto and Hardee counties. “Acquiring lands for conservation and recreation is a top priority for my administration,” DeSantis said in a news release. “Conservation of these key properties will forever benefit water quality, rare wildlife habitats and corridor linkages, as well as support Florida’s ever-growing economy.”

Private Florida school that bans LGBTQ students gets $1.6 million in tax dollars” via Leslie Postal and Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel — A Florida private school that made national headlines last week for telling parents that gay or transgender students “will be asked to leave the school immediately” accepted more than $1.6 million in state scholarships last school year. Grace Christian School near Tampa, with about 470 students enrolled in grades in kindergarten through 12th grade, received state scholarships, often called vouchers, to cover tuition for more than 250 of those youngsters during the 2021-22 school year.

Hillsborough to consider incinerator restrictions” via C.T. Bowen of the Tampa Bay Times — Hillsborough County Commissioners don’t want to be burned by another yard waste incinerator proposal. A week after killing a permit application from Louis Geraci LLLP to install two log-burning incinerators on the Geraci property off Crystal Lake Road in Lutz, Commissioners said Thursday they now want to consider restricting where those facilities can locate in the future. Adam Gormly, Hillsborough’s development services director, said the landowner filed a request with the county Wednesday to strike yard waste incinerators as a permissible use on the property.

St. Petersburg City Council committee greenlights smoking ban in parks, beaches” via Colleen Wright of the Tampa Bay Times — Cigarette butts account for 40% of the waste recovered in cities and on beaches in international cleanup campaigns, according to The Ocean Conservancy. They take about 150 years to decompose while releasing carcinogens. The proposed smoking ban in St. Petersburg parks and beaches aims to curb such litter. The draft ordinance approved unanimously Thursday by the committee will go before the full City Council in September. The rule would go immediately into effect, but wouldn’t be enforced until Jan. 1, 2023. “Obviously, the numbers are right in front of me to prove that there is a problem,” DePlasco said. “And it’s unfortunate that smokers can’t put their butts where they belong.”

As Pinellas beaches erode, a long-promised fix slips out of reach” via Chris Kuo and Lauren Peace of the Tampa Bay Times — Bill Queen is desperate for sand. The Mayor of North Redington Beach has seen the shore shrink steadily over the past few years as the Gulf of Mexico creeps closer to lines of blue cabanas. “Our lifeblood is the sand,” he said. In a major break from decades past, the Corps is requiring all beachfront residents who live along the project to give away some of their property rights. For the work to proceed, every owner will need to sign a document known as a perpetual easement that allows public access to a portion of their land next to the beach. The Corps is allowing no exceptions, even though county calculations show a fraction of the new sand, 1.4%, would touch private property.

Bill Queen needs sand, and lots of it.

As UF students return, president and police work to prevent pedestrian deaths” via Gershon Harrell of The Gainesville Sun — It’s a common scene for most Gainesville drivers: University of Florida students running across a busy street. Only this time, as a group of students bolted across University Avenue on Wednesday, a police officer was waiting to correct them on the error of their ways. “When that countdown on the traffic signal begins, you are not supposed to cross the street. Do not try to run it,” Renee Jost, a UF Police Department officer, told the students. UF and the Florida Department of Transportation partnered to educate pedestrians and drivers on unsafe road behavior Wednesday, which marked the first day of UF classes.

Winter Park holds firm on short-term vacation rental rules” via Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel — Winter Park Commissioners decided against loosening the city’s restrictions on vacation rentals, opting to maintain its ban on stays shorter than a month. The city’s rules date back decades and were first designed to prevent homes and apartments from becoming timeshares. But as platforms like Airbnb and VRBO gained in popularity, cities and counties across the state have enacted rules of their own. State law bans local governments from regulating the length and frequency of such stays and doesn’t allow them to be banned altogether. Because Winter Park’s rules were on the books before June 1, 2011, they were grandfathered in.

Sea Life marks Ted the sea turtle’s birthday” via Dewayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel — Sea Life Orlando Aquarium celebrated the 22nd birthday of Ted the sea turtle this week with a “birthday cake” made of fish, krill, pellet, fruit and vegetables inside a colorful block of ice. The International Drive attraction also saluted the shelled millennial with a giveaway of 22 loggerhead turtle plushes to visitors. Ted has been in the aquarium since 2016 and gets his name from the Turtle Excluder Device. He was one of the first creatures to test the product, which is used to keep turtles from being caught in fishing nets. Ted was released into the wild several times but kept returning to shore.


Naples assisted living facility hit with $32K fine for holding former residents’ money” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — A Naples assisted living facility has been hit with an administrative fine of more than $32,000 for failing to return more than $20,000 in prorated refunds within 45 days to nine former residents who had been discharged from the facility. Memory Care of Naples must fork over to the residents or their estates a portion of the fine, $10,346, no later than Aug. 30. The largest payment that will be made to a resident or resident’s estate is $2,131. Conversely, the smallest payment to a resident or a resident’s estate is $176.

Memory Care of Naples must fork over $32K for withholding patient money.

Collier County reports first case of dengue fever by locally infected mosquitoes” via Liz Freeman of the Naples Daily News — A human case of dengue fever that was locally acquired has been confirmed in Collier County and it is causing heightened concern of more infection, according to health officials. “The Florida Department of Health in Collier County has not reported a case of locally acquired dengue fever in over 20 years,” according to Kristine Hollingsworth, spokesperson for the state Department of Health in Collier. The discovery prompted the department to issue an advisory.

Former deputy disciplined after off-duty battery charge in Pinellas County” via Frank DiFiore of the Port Charlotte Sun — A former Charlotte County deputy was disciplined for allegedly engaging in an off-duty battery in St. Petersburg. Skylar Goddard first came under investigation after Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office staff were contacted by its counterparts in Pinellas County; they were told that Goddard had been charged with simple battery in its jurisdiction. As a result of the investigation, Goddard was relieved of her position as a certified deputy and transferred to a civilian position. In her new position, Goddard will be required to complete one year of disciplinary probation, face 86 hours of suspended pay, complete courses related to ethics training and substance abuse, and write an apology letter to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office.

Mayor: City Marketplace meeting was ’embarrassing’” via Daniel Sutphin of the Punta Gorda Sun — A “disruptive” Punta Gorda Planning Commission meeting Monday has the City Council rethinking its process for appointing committee members. “Monday’s meeting was just horrific and embarrassing for the city and I would not want to see that happen again,” Mayor Lynne Matthews said at Wednesday’s City Council meeting. “That whole meeting was completely disruptive.” About 200 residents attended the Planning Commission meeting at the Military Heritage Museum to share their views on a residential and commercial development plan being proposed for the long-vacant City Marketplace property.

City of Naples passes 60-day landlord notice before increase of rent” via Rachel Heimann Mercader of the Naples Daily News — The Naples City Council has passed an ordinance meant to give tenants a fair notice when their rent is about to increase. The ordinance requires landlords give tenants a 60-day written notification before increasing rent by more than 5%. In addition, a 15-day notice must be given if the rent will increase more than 5% for leases with a term of 15 days or more but less than 60 days. Violators would be subject to a fine of not more than $500. The new law passed last week by a 6-1 vote, with council member Terry Hutchison voting no.

Developers back out of Florida panther protection proposal” via Craig Pittman of Florida Phoenix — A consortium of a dozen major landowners in Collier County had been working with some environmental groups and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on something unusual. It was supposed to be a way to ensure panthers wouldn’t lose out when the big machines started tearing up their habitat. So how did this long-running drive go off the rails? Documents I saw show the property owners blamed the feds for causing everything to go ker-flooey. Looks to me like negotiations fell apart over one question: Would the plan really protect our 200 or so endangered cats, or just provide the landowners with window dressing for their rapacious disruption of the habitat? The fact that this whole effort came to naught has some people pretty upset.

A plan to protect Florida panthers was mostly for show. Image via FWC.

Record turtle nesting on Manasota Key” via Steve Reilly of the Englewood Sun — The sea turtle nesting season has slowed to a crawl, but Manasota Key already has seen record loggerhead and green sea turtle nesting. The Coastal Wildlife Club two state primary permit holders, Zoe Bass and Wilma Katz, oversee the volunteer turtle nesting patrols on all of Manasota Key. Sea turtles transformed Manasota Key into a nursery. According to an Aug. 20 post on the club’s social page, volunteers documented 5,094 loggerhead and 342 green sea turtle nests this season, breaking the records for both loggerhead and green sea turtle nesting on Manasota Key. The volunteers also reported the nest of Kemp’s ridley, one of the most endangered sea turtle species.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

Former Fernandina Port operator haunting Port Authority with high legal expenses” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — The four-year tenure of Chris Ragucci at the Port of Fernandina was a time of heartburn and frustration for a lot of people and entities who had to deal with Worldwide Terminals and its subsidiary Nassau Terminals. “We had upward of 40 lawsuits involving the previous (Port) operator last year,” Commissioner Miriam Hill said. “Forty separate lawsuits.” It also costs money to the Ocean Highway and Port Authority (OHPA), the public oversight Board for the Port, and continues to cost OHPA as they pay the Port Attorney Patrick Krechowski to deal with the many ongoing legal issues related to Ragucci’s time before he sold to a partnership of Utah and New York firms.

Chris Ragucci caused more than his share of heartburn.

An environmental win: Florida acts preserving 770 acres of woodlands in Santa Rosa County” via Alex Miller of the Pensacola News Journal — Earlier this week, the state acquired 768 acres for the Wolfe Creek Project in Santa Rosa County as part of a statewide conservation effort. Wolfe Creek Forest buffers Naval Air Station Whiting Field and also includes waterways that act as key tributaries for the Blackwater River. “This acquisition expands public recreational opportunities and provides a corridor between Blackwater River State Forest and other state-owned conservation lands near Whiting Field Naval Air Station,” according to a news release. “This property will be managed by the Florida Forest Service as an addition to Blackwater River State Forest.”

When will beleaguered I-95/295 road construction project finally end?” via Dan Scanlan of The Florida Times-Union — It is a mix-master of new and old pavement winding around Interstates 95 and 295 on Jacksonville’s Northside as contractors reshape one of the city’s busiest interchanges. Florida Department of Transportation traffic figures show an average of 72,000 to 97,000 vehicles a day take I-95 over I-295, which carries 64,500 to 73,000 per day. But since late 2016, those drivers have faced a $176.8 million I-95/I-295 North Interchange Operational Improvements Project, done to “modernize and reconfigure” the roads for better traffic flow, safety and capacity, the FDOT said. FDOT spokesperson Hampton Ray said the completion date has been updated to “spring 2024, weather and schedule permitting.” And yes, he said, harsh weather can impact any project.

Leon superintendent Rocky Hanna slams DeSantis, supports teachers unions in Facebook post” via Ana Goñi-Lessan of the Tallahassee Democrat — Local educators are criticizing DeSantis’ recent attacks on teachers’ unions. In his most recent bid to fix Florida’s teacher shortage, DeSantis blamed the state’s 9,000 teacher deficit on credentials insisted upon by unions. “The Governor’s quest for popularity and political gain knows no bounds,” wrote Leon County Schools Superintendent Hanna in a Facebook post. “This calculated and intentional attack on public schools, centered around complete untruths, has now become part of his legacy.”

In blasting Ron DeSantis, Rocky Hanna holds nothing back.

Tallahassee Civil Rights Memorial, historical marker unveiled at Cascades Historical Plaza” via Alicia Devine of the Tallahassee Democrat — The original Cascades developer, North American Properties (NAP), with the help of city officials and historians, unveiled two historical exhibits at the newly christened Cascades Historical Plaza Thursday morning. The Tallahassee Civil Rights Memorial and Four Corners of History markers were five years in the making and fulfilled NAP’s promise to share the often-hidden history of what once took place in the Cascades area. “This group came together and stuck together for quite a long time,” said McIntyre of the volunteers who brainstormed ways to keep history alive. “Today is the unveiling of their efforts. This is not developer directed. I gave them a blank slate.”


Mac Stipanovich: A political obituary for Fried” via Florida Politics — Among the political class in Tallahassee, where selfishness and self-regard are the rule, Fried stood out. Not for her humility and servant’s heart, but for her unbridled ambition and supersized ego.

Formerly a professional lobbyist, Fried wanted to run for Governor in 2018, but the odds against her were too long given the field of credible Democratic candidates.

So, she decided to go down ballot and run for Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs, an office about which she cared not one whit except as a launchpad for the gubernatorial race that was her heart’s desire.

Finally, after two and a half years of snorting, pawing the ground, and head-butting the starting gate, Fried was ready to formally announce her candidacy.

Then she got unlucky. In May 2021, Crist announced he was running for the Democratic nomination for Governor.

Fried nevertheless entered the race a month later, but she was a dead woman walking from the get-go. The well-known and well-liked Crist dominated the optimum center-left lane and could not be dislodged. In short, Crist pretty much ran the Democratic table in terms of high-profile personal and institutional support.


Florida citrus is disappearing; Why it matters and how we’re fighting back” via Nikki Fried for Florida Grower — While the loss of almost half of Florida’s citrus groves over the past two decades is primarily due to the devastation caused by citrus greening, other diseases and climate change have made matters worse. I am proud of our department’s strong advocacy on behalf of our citrus industry, most recently securing $18.5 million in the 2021-22 state budget to support Florida citrus production, health and research. Additionally, I helped establish a state direct-support organization to manage the Citrus Research and Field Trials (CRAFT) program, responsible for planting 5,000 new acres of citrus groves using experimental techniques. Finally, I am proud to have been fighting against the Trump administration’s decision to allow Chinese citrus imports as well as the USDA’s more recent actions removing standards on imported grapefruit, both of which pose risks to the domestic industry.

Joe Henderson: Crist says he can beat DeSantis, so here’s his chance” via Florida Politics — Is it even reasonable to suggest Crist has a path to victory, even if it’s a rocky, narrow trail on the edge of a high mountain? That depends on whether he can stitch together the groups DeSantis targeted over the last four years. Republicans see DeSantis as a man of action, but others see a bully. There may be more in the latter camp than the Governor’s obedient flock might think. Put it this way: Democrats didn’t like Rick Scott but weren’t fired up enough to beat him. But they loathe DeSantis, and that kind of anger can be motivating.

Rubio says his campaign is ‘a disaster.’ Is he crying wolf or truly scared of Demings?” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — The dust from Florida’s Primary Elections hasn’t yet settled. But to hear Rubio tell it, his November campaign is already in trouble. On Monday, the eve of the Primary Elections, Florida’s senior GOP U.S. Senator sent supporters an email saying his current campaign situation was “a disaster.” Rubio said his opponent, Demings, had raised more money last month than he’d raised in the past three months combined and cited a recent poll that showed Demings beating him.

IRS isn’t hiring 87,000 agents willing ‘to kill’ fellow Americans. Sen. Rick Scott, stop trying to scare people” via the Miami Herald editorial board — Florida’s junior U.S. Senator, known for his “Let’s get to work” slogan and for depicting unemployed Americans on welfare as living off the backs of hardworking people, now is urging Americans to not apply for thousands for jobs at the Internal Revenue Service. The irony is not lost on us that the wealthy, anti-IRS Sen. Scott recently released a plan to “rescue America” in which he lamented that too many Americans are exempt from paying the same federal income taxes the IRS is in charge of collecting. Scott posted a manifesto-like “open letter” on LinkedIn brimming with inflammatory misrepresentations.

Biden’s half-trillion-dollar student-loan forgiveness coup” via The Wall Street Journal editorial board — The President who never says no to the left did their bidding again with this act of executive lawmaking, er, breaking. Democrats said these plans would reduce defaults. They haven’t. Federal student debt has ballooned because many borrowers don’t make enough to cover interest and principal payments, so their balances expand. Student debt has nearly doubled since 2011 to $1.6 trillion, though the number of borrowers has increased by only 18%. Now the government will also cover unpaid monthly interest for borrowers, so their balances won’t grow even if they aren’t paying a penny. This will mask the cost to taxpayers of the administration’s rolling loan write-off. Student-loan debt won’t appear to swell even as it does. What a fabulous accounting trick.

Actually, canceling student debt will cut inflation” via Joseph E. Stiglitz for The Atlantic — We want to fight inflation and we want to keep the labor market strong. One of the most. Yet critics are attacking the measure, even at its modest level and with its targeted exclusions and benefits, as inflationary and unfair. Whatever your view of student-debt cancellation, the inflation argument is a red herring and should not influence policy. Taking that logic to the extreme, canceling food stamps would do far more to reduce inflation — but that would be cruel and inhumane, and fortunately, no one has suggested doing so. A closer look at the student-debt-cancellation program suggests that the new student-loan policy may even reduce inflation; at most, its inflationary impact will be minuscule, and the long-term benefits to the economy are likely to be significant.

DeSantis and Cabinet badly botched FDLE appointment” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — In what seemed like the blink of an eye — 58 seconds, to be exact — DeSantis nominated Mark Glass to be permanent executive director of the state’s flagship police agency, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. This critical state job also requires Cabinet approval. At a meeting Tuesday, all three elected Cabinet members rubber-stamped this questionable move with no discussion or public job interview, and not even a polite thank you from the appointee in the back of the room. The Cabinet spent more time on a Fire Prevention Week resolution. This public-be-damned charade is one more disturbing lack of transparency, even by the lax standards of the DeSantis administration. It also might be illegal.

Independent voters, the 2024 Primaries can be different” via Lyra Martin for the Orlando Sentinel — According to Gallup, approximately 42% of U.S. voters are registered as Independents or NPA. Of those, an estimated 76% lean more toward one party than another. This means that one-third of U.S. voters choose to abstain from formal affiliation despite having a clear political leaning. It’s understandable why you would register without party affiliation. You tend to be a little more open-minded and a little less dogmatic than those that are unwavering in their party lines. You’re disillusioned with the polarization and uncompromising nature of American politics. You don’t want to be affiliated with the extremes of either side. However, if we allow only the die-hard affiliates to choose which candidates make it to the General Election, we all but guarantee that our options will become increasingly polarized.


ABC Action News Full Circle with Paul LaGrone on Channel 10 WFTS: A one-on-one with Demings on gun violence, abortion, inflation and immigration.

Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at politics in South Florida, along with other issues affecting the region.

In Focus with Allison Walker on Bay News 9/CF 13: A discussion about the legislation and efforts designed to improve water quality in Florida, both for recreation and consumption. Joining Walker are Sen. Ben Albritton; Evan Bennett, associate professor, Department of History, Florida Atlantic University; and Elise Bennett, Florida director and senior attorney, Center for Biological Diversity.

Political Connections on Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: A recap of Florida Primary election results; and a discussion on school board races with Christian Ziegler, Vice Chair of the Florida Republican Party; and Hillsborough County School Board member Karen Perez.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: A recap of Tuesday night’s Primary Election with political analysts Democrat Wes Hodge and Republican Eddie Fernandez, and a look ahead to what voters will have on their ballots in November.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Gary Yordon and attorney Sean Pittman.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Government law attorney Chris Hand.


— ALOE —

How ‘Predator’ prequel ‘Prey’ could teach a lesson to the ‘Alien’ franchise” via Carson Burton of Variety — The two film series, which actually share the same universe, have been associated with each other for decades. Even though a film like “Prey” may have the same basic DNA as its original film, it works because it still feels wholly fresh and full of ideas. It doesn’t feel like “Prey” is heavily connected to an intricate web of deep thoughts, but it also doesn’t feel like a soulless piece of corporate IP. The timelessness of “Prey” is what “Alien” is currently lacking. When re-watching “Predator” or “Prey,” one can sit back and marvel at the well-executed genre filmmaking. It’s a fun, rewarding experience akin to “Alien” and “Aliens.” Re-watching any of the “Alien” movies outside of the first two, though, may instead feel like homework.

‘Prey’ can teach movie franchises a thing or two.

Jack Russell terrier saves owner from bear attack thanks to ‘ninja moves’” via Scott Stump of NBC News — A 61-year-old Vermont woman was saved from a black bear that was biting her leg when her Jack Russell terrier started barking and drew the bear’s attention, according to a news release by the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. Susan Lee was walking on a trail on her property when she heard a “loud noise” and a black bear charged her, causing her to trip over a stone wall. She then felt “pain on her upper left leg” and realized the bear had bitten her. The attack was halted when her Jack Russell terrier started barking at the bear. The barking distracted the bear and she and her dogs were able to retreat further down the trail, where she called 911.

Most cruise lines open up to unvaccinated while Disney dips its toes” via Richard Tribou of the Orlando Sentinel — As more cruise lines begin to see an increase in demand, COVID-19 restrictions are opening with Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Norwegian soon to no longer limit cruises based on vaccination status. The lines announced this week that nearly all U.S.-based cruises will be bookable to unvaccinated guests in early September. Disney Cruise Line and MSC Cruises, though, remain mostly tied to previous vaccine standards. Disney Cruise Line is loosening its vaccine age limit starting Sept. 2 for sailings from U.S. and Canadian ports. It had required those 5 and older to have been vaccinated but is raising that age requirement to 12 and up. All guests must still submit proof of negative COVID-19 tests taken two days or less before sailing or take a test before boarding at the cruise terminal.


Celebrating today is Sen. George Gainer, our friend Joy Friedman, as well as Doug Adkins, Christian Camara, Jonathan Rees, Kayleigh Sagonowsky, and Jared Willis.


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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