Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 9.8.22

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Don't miss your first look at stories driving today's agenda in Florida politics.

Good Thursday morning.

Another major pollster is projecting tight races for Governor and U.S. Senate.

New data from Susquehanna Polling and Research shows Gov. Ron DeSantis leading at 47% with U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist pulling in 43%. Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is leading U.S. Rep. Val Demings by three points, 47%-43%.

Both races fall within the margin of error, which stands at 4.3 percentage points.

Another poll shows tight races all-around.

The numbers paint a similar picture to that of a poll conducted by Fabrizio Ward on behalf of AARP-Florida. That measure showed DeSantis ahead of Crist 50%-47% and Rubio leading Demings 49%-47%.

In addition to the toplines, the polls also line up on candidate favorability — DeSantis and Demings are both viewed favorably by voters — albeit with Demings holding a lower name-ID than the other statewide candidates — while Crist and Rubio are both underwater.

Issue questions also jibed between the polls, with economic issues on the top rung with social issues such as abortion rights and gun control close behind. A distant third place issue was immigration followed by the environment, taxes, public safety and health care.

Susquehanna Polling and Research surveyed 500 likely General Election voters between Aug. 29 and Sept. 3, making this the most recently taken poll now publicly available on the race.


First in SunburnBan Assault Weapons NOW (BAWN) is endorsing Crist for Governor, warning that if DeSantis is re-elected, “gun violence will soar.”

BAWN’s endorsement announcement cited Crist’s “impeccable” voting record on gun safety legislation during his time in Congress, which the group said proves he is “the champion our children and families need in Tallahassee to fight for us.”

“I’m proud to earn the support of BAWN in our mission to fight for Florida and work to put an end to the gun violence epidemic destroying our communities,” Crist said. “Enough is enough. How many more innocent children and families need to die before we take real action to keep Floridians safe? I vow to be a fighter for common sense gun reform and a champion for safer communities.”

Ban Assault Weapons NOW (BAWN) touts Charlie Crist’s ‘impeccable’ voting record on gun control. Image via

BAWN also said DeSantis “has done nothing” to prevent gun violence or the proliferation of assault weapons, and that the gun legislation he has proposed would likely increase the number of gun-related deaths in the state.

“In addition to saying he would have vetoed the bipartisan common sense reforms passed after the Parkland massacre, Ron DeSantis has vowed to pass a permitless and untrained carry bill — allowing Floridians to carry a loaded gun in public with no permit, no safety training and no background check,” said Gail Schwartz, the founder of BAWN and the aunt of Parkland shooting victim Alex Schachter.

“At a time when Florida has experienced an average of 2,849 gun deaths annually, this will unquestionably cause more bloodshed and heartache in our communities.”


🔨 — When’s the last time you’ve watched a local government meeting without hearing the smack of a gavel? It’s probably been a while. As Jacob Gershman writes for The Wall Street Journal, recent years have seen gavel banging become an “emblem of civic disorder” in city, county and school board meetings.


@POTUS: Those who love this country must be more committed to saving our democracy than the MAGA agenda is to destroying it.

Tweet, tweet:

@EugeneDaniels2: Something that will mean A LOT to Black people across the country: Former First Lady Michelle Obama wearing braids at the unveiling of her official White House portrait.

@BryanDGriffin: “We’ve been blessed in Florida; our revenues are strong, so we need to return some of that revenue to the taxpayers.” — @GovRonDeSantis at today’s toll savings proposal. These are the words of good governance.

@NikkiFried: Ron DeSantis literally arrested people for his own agency’s failure to follow the law.

@MacyHarperFla: So, let me get this straight … California just banned gas vehicles by 2035, but yesterday they told their residents they can only charge their cars after 9 p.m. to save power …

@NateMonroeTU: The re-routed Gator Bowl Blvd feels like something drawn up on the back of a napkin. Nonsensical. Dangerous. Inefficient. FDOT should be ashamed for fast-tracking this project, and a federal inspector general should scrutinize how it got funded. What a joke. We tore an elevated ramp down and rebuilt part of it. For a developer, who may or may not build something. This town.


2022 Emmys — 4; JMI’s 2022 Tech & Innovation Summit begins — 7; final season of ‘Atlanta’ begins — 7; ‘Andor’ premieres on Disney+ — 13; vote-by-mail mailing deadline for General Election — 21; deadline to register for General Election — 33; 22-23 NHL season begins — 33; ‘Before You Vote’ TV debates (Senate) — 40; ‘Before You Vote’ TV debates (Governor) — 42; Taylor Swift’s ‘Midnights’ release — 43; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 46; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 47; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 47; Early voting begins for General Election — 51; 2022 General Election — 61; ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ premieres — 64; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 64; FITCon 2022 begins — 70; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 70; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 74; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 74; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 83; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 83; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 89; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 99; Bruce Springsteen launches his 2023 tour in Tampa — 146; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 162; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 180; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 197; American Association of Political Consultants Pollies’ 23 conference begins — 222; 2023 Session Sine Die — 239; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 239; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 267; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 316; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 421; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 435; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 568; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 687; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 687; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 792; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 970.


How Ron DeSantis helped Florida Power & Light raise electricity rates by $5 billion” via Jason Garcia of Seeking Rents — No other elected official in Florida did more to help Florida Power & Light land its $5 billion rate increase than DeSantis — who, campaign-finance records show, has raised more than $3 million from FPL and a network of big-business front groups and dark-money nonprofits that the company helps to fund.

Let’s talk about who, exactly, is in charge when FPL or one of the state’s other private power companies wants permission to raise rates.

Technically, the decision is up to an agency in Tallahassee known as the Public Service Commission. Most people call it the “PSC.” You can think of it like a court where power companies, the Office of Public Counsel and other organizations battle it out over proposed rate increases.

Ron DeSantis has been very lucrative for Florida utilities.

Presiding over this court are five PSC Commissioners. They’re the judges who have the ultimate power to approve, reduce or deny a rate hike.

But those five PSC Commissioners are each chosen by the governor.

Now, the Florida Legislature plays a big role here, too. The governor must pick from a pool of nominees submitted by a legislative committee. And the governor’s selection must then be confirmed by the full Florida Senate.

But the governor has enormous leverage over individual lawmakers. So, the Governor has far more power over the PSC appointment process than anyone else.


DeSantis reflects on lockdowns: ‘Kids needed to be in school’” via Amber Cooper of Florida’s Voice — During an interview with The National Desk on Tuesday, DeSantis reflected on the declining nationwide school scores as reported by The Nation’s Report Card. “The data was very clear that they needed to be in school,” DeSantis said. Although state-by-state results have not yet been reported, DeSantis says “I would anticipate that states like Florida who had the kids in school probably faired comparatively better than a state like California which basically let these kids twist in the wind for over a year.”

Survey shows health care isn’t a priority issue in Governor’s race, but is it?” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — A new survey conducted on behalf of AARP shows health care is not the issue that will guide voters to decide whether to vote on Nov. 8 for DeSantis or Crist. Just 4% of likely voters aged 50 and older identified health care as the issue most important to them in the Governor’s race. The only policy provisions to rank lower than health care were state spending and taxes, each of which was identified by 1% of the voters as their top priorities in the race for Governor. Nineteen percent said inflation and rising prices were their most important issues in the upcoming race. But a closer look at the data shows that the increased costs of prescription drugs and health care were cited by 20% of the voters as their top inflationary concerns.

Charlie Crist joins other Democrats in making abortion access rights campaign focus” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — At a Democrats’ rally in Orlando aimed at appealing to younger “Gen-Z” voters, gubernatorial candidate Crist and a host of other candidates made it clear that abortion access rights will be front-and-center in this autumn’s campaign. “In this election, the choice is choice,” Crist said. “That’s what’s on the ballot: freedom to choose. The opportunity for women to be able to express their own point of view about their body, about your health. Who else should have that decision? Nobody. You. It’s your decision. That’s what’s on the ballot. That’s what this election is all about.” Crist followed numerous Central Florida Democratic candidates, including Maxwell Alejandro Frost, who will likely be the first Gen-Z member to be elected to Congress.

Charlie Crist puts abortion front and center in his campaign.

Crist hammers DeSantis amid property insurance ’emergency’” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Crist is taking his case against the DeSantis-era property insurance market on the road. “DeSantis has been the single worst Governor on property insurance the state has ever had,” Crist said Wednesday at a Jacksonville Skyway stop near the local Citizens Insurance headquarters. Just days after a so-far unheeded call to DeSantis to reverse cost increases for the increasingly burdened Citizens Insurance, the state insurer of last resort, the candidate brought the message to Jacksonville Tuesday. “This is an emergency for crying out loud,” Crist said. “It’s ridiculous and just plain wrong.”

Crist confident Karla Hernández could serve as Governor if needed” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Crist is defending his choice of a politically inexperienced running mate, saying that she’s in fact what the state needs. Crist was in Jacksonville Wednesday, when he expressed confidence in his choice for a potential Lieutenant Governor. While Hernández brings experience heading the United Teachers of Dade, she lacks any experience in elected politics, in contrast to Crist, who has spent decades in elected office. But that inexperience doesn’t faze Crist. “That might be to her advantage,” Crist said when asked if she could take over as Governor if needed.

Crist, Hernández defend against Republicans’ ‘Karla Marx’ trolling” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Crist and his running mate Hernández are fighting back against Republicans’ trolling of the teachers union president as “Karla Marx.” “I believe in democracy. I am anti-communism. I actually was out with pots and pans celebrating the death of Fidel Castro when he died,” Hernández said at an Orlando event. “It is a shame that they try to bully a teacher.” Hernández is the daughter of Honduran immigrants. She’s the president of the United Teachers of Dade union in Miami and a former Teacher of the Year at Hialeah Middle School.

Former Pedro Pan kids, Democrats slam Gov. Jeanette Nuñez over Cuban migrant remarks” via Syra Ortiz-Blanes of the Miami Herald — A group of Democrats, former Pedro Pan kids and immigration advocates slammed Lt. Gov. Nuñez over comments she made last month over recently arrived Cuban migrants and DeSantis’ goal to bus undocumented immigrants out of Florida. Gladys Cañizares, a Cuban American woman who came to the United States in the early 1960s as part of Operation Pedro Pan, a program that brought thousands of Cuban children to Miami without their parents following Fidel Castro’s rise to power, directly addressed Nuñez at a bilingual news conference hosted by FLIC Votes at Miami’s Freedom Tower. “What were you thinking when you decided to support such a crazy move by Gov. DeSantis?” Cañizares said.

Pedro Pan kids slam Jeanette Nuñez. Image via AP.

RPOF puts another $246K into Governor, Cabinet ads — The Republican Party of Florida has booked a new broadcast ad flight supporting DeSantis, Attorney General Ashley Moody and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis for re-election. According to AdImpact, the buy totals $245,959 and will run ads today through Wednesday in the Orlando, Tampa, Ft. Myers, Mobile, Panama City, Gainesville and Tallahassee media markets.

— 2022 —

The Val Demings gamble” via Adam Harris of The Atlantic — The Senate race has for some time been considered a long shot for the 65-year-old former Orlando Police Chief; to win she’ll need to make what seems impossible possible in a state where voter rolls flipped from a more-than-100,000-voter Democratic advantage in 2020 to a Republican lead of nearly the same size in less than two years. For months, the polls showed Demings trailing Rubio, but in recent weeks, a new batch of polls has shown Demings pulling into an effective tie, or even a slight lead. If the race does break her way, Democrats will have the convergence of two separate storylines to thank.

Annette Taddeo’s leap of faith” via Matthew Kassel of Jewish Insider — Taddeo vividly remembers the moment she began to express doubts about her Catholic faith as a 12-year-old girl in Colombia. “My dad said to me, ‘Well, go see the priest and ask him those questions.’” His suggestion proved less productive than Taddeo hoped. “The priest says, ‘Oh, honey, you’re not supposed to read the Bible. That’s for us to read and for us to tell you what it means.’” Her father’s response was far more encouraging. “He just said, ‘You keep reading whatever you want to read.” So began a yearslong process of religious discovery that would culminate in Taddeo’s conversion to Judaism about a decade later.

First in SunburnJanet Cruz launches new ad for SD 14 re-election Democratic Sen. Cruz has launched her first TV ad in her campaign for Senate District 14. Titled “That’s What I Do,” the spot will run on broadcast, cable, and on streaming services in both English and Spanish. It features Cruz recounting her life story and how it informs her work in the Senate. I was born and raised here in Tampa. I was a mom at 16. I know what it’s like to struggle to raise a family, so I know what Tampa families deserve from the people they vote for,” she says in the ad. “It’s not politicians fighting each other. It’s fighting to lower our costs. It’s not attacking women’s health care rights. It’s standing up for our freedoms. And always fighting for good-paying jobs. That’s what Tampa deserves. And that’s what I do.”

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

Nick DiCeglie PC donates $100K to Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Rep. DiCeglie’s political committee, The Economic Freedom Committee, gave a whopping $100,000 to support the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee. DiCeglie’s political committee, which has raised $895,700 since its inception, made the donation last Friday at the start of September, according to state finance reports. The money will be used to help elect other Republicans to the Florida Senate. DiCeglie will start this month with $499,885 in available spending money, nearly three times that of his opponent, Democratic candidate Eunic Ortiz, who has $137,901 cash on hand.

Andy Thomson has a $220K+ advantage over Republican rival’s cash on hand” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Democrat Thomson has nearly a quarter of a million-dollar cash-on-hand advantage over his Republican rival, Peggy Gossett-Seidman, as the two vie to represent south Palm Beach County in the House. The Republican Party of Florida is investing in flipping the seat. The party gave Gossett-Seidman, a Highland Beach Town Commissioner, in-kind staff support last month, but it’s no match for Thomson’s support. Between his campaign and his political committee, “Running With Andy Thomson,” the Boca Raton City Council member received $27,475 from Aug. 1 to Aug. 26, the latest reporting deadline. That compares to the $2,000 that Gossett-Seidman received in cold, hard cash and $4,500 she received in staff support from the Republican Party of Florida.

Save the date:


DeSantis admin shakes up top staffers at AHCA, EOGCody Farrill is leaving his position as the Chief of Staff at the Agency for Health Care Administration and will now serve as the Deputy Legislative Affairs Director & Director for Intergovernmental Affairs in the Governor’s office. Jason Weida will be succeeding Farrill at AHCA, moving up from his previous position as Assistant Deputy Secretary for Medicaid Policy & Quality. Brock Juarez is also moving up the ladder at AHCA, going from Communications Director to Deputy Chief of Staff for Communications & Legislative Affairs.

Cody Farrill takes his leave of the AHCA.

Stop-WOKE draws another lawsuit — A controversial bill governing how topics related to race may be taught in schools has drawn a challenge from the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression. As reported by Andrew Atterbury of POLITICO Florida, the free-speech group is not the first to challenge the so-called “Stop-WOKE” law, but it is the first to specifically focus on how it would impact colleges and universities. “Without the freedom to engage in vigorous and robust debate about important issues and contentious concepts, a college education is just an exercise in memorizing facts and repeating government-approved viewpoints,” FIRE attorney Adam Steinbaugh said in a statement. “That’s not freedom or education.”

Florida Sheriffs group supports DeSantis in ousted Tampa prosecutor’s lawsuit” via Dan Sullivan of the Tampa Bay Times —The Florida Sheriffs Association asked a judge’s permission to submit a friend-of-the-court brief supporting DeSantis. The accompanying 25-page court paper argues that the Governor was right to remove Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren from office for what the governor characterized as Warren’s refusal to enforce certain laws. The brief carries the names of 48 current and former law enforcement officials who it says support the Sheriffs Association’s arguments. They include 11 of Florida’s 20 state attorneys, among them Bruce Bartlett, the top prosecutor for Pinellas and Pasco counties; and former Attorneys General Pam Bondi and Bill McCollum.

DeSantis wants tolls cut in half for frequent commuters next year” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — Tolls would be cut in half for frequent drivers next year under a proposal revealed by DeSantis on Wednesday. Under the plan, any driver with a SunPass or E-ZPass that hits 40 tolls in a month will have 50% of those costs refunded to them at the end of that month. “If you are a bona fide commuter, you’re getting a 50% discount in your tolls for the entire year, and that’s going to make a big difference,” DeSantis said at the Florida Department of Transportation’s Miami headquarters.

Florida has a secret ‘black list’ to spy on highway drivers. Officials won’t say how it’s used.” via Dan Glaun of the Fort Myers News-Press — Cameras at toll plazas snap photos of license plates daily across hundreds of miles of Florida’s highways, tracking the movements of residents and visitors. But state officials won’t reveal how the license plate reading data is being used or by whom, which experts say threatens the civil rights and privacy rights of travelers in one of the nation’s biggest states. “Part of the freedom that we think we have come from the fact that we’re not being spied on and watched all the time,” said Lee Tien, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a California-based nonprofit that advocates for digital privacy.

Transgender advocates sue Florida over Medicaid coverage ban of gender-affirming care” via Kathryn Varn of the Tallahassee Democrat — Four transgender Floridians sued the state agency that administers Florida’s Medicaid program, alleging that a new rule excluding coverage of gender-affirming care is discriminatory and illegal. The suit, filed Wednesday in federal court, alleges the rule that went into effect last month effectively deprives the two children and two adult plaintiffs of health care deemed necessary by their doctors. Without insurance coverage, the plaintiffs say, the treatment is cost prohibitive. “This rule affects the most vulnerable members of our community, particularly poor trans people that otherwise would not be covered by insurance,” said August Dekker.

Surgeon on state medical board faces anesthesia complaint” via Sam Ogozalek of the Tampa Bay Times — A political appointee on the Florida Board of Medicine failed to ensure that a surgical office in Ocala complied with state regulation on anesthesia. The Florida Department of Health, of which the medical board is a part, filed the complaint earlier this summer against Ravi Chandra, a vascular surgeon who is a member of the board that regulates and disciplines doctors. DeSantis appointed him to the 15-member group last year. In July 2021, a “routine inspection” found that paramedics were “providing anesthesia care” at a surgical office in Ocala, violating a state rule that says a qualified anesthesia provider, such as an anesthesiologist, must assist a surgeon.

Ravi Chandra is accused of passing bad gas.

Joel Greenberg alleged far-reaching public corruption in jailhouse interview” via Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel — Greenberg alleged far-reaching public corruption, including granting no-work contracts on the public dime, when he spoke with investigators probing the “ghost” candidate scheme that helped Republican state Sen. Jason Brodeur win office in 2020. In the June 23 jailhouse interview with investigators from the 18th Circuit State Attorney’s Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Greenberg said under oath that he and others arranged for allies to receive lucrative contracts in exchange for political favors.

Seminole Chamber to review Jason Brodeur’s work amid ‘ghost’ probe revelations” via Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel — The Seminole County Chamber said it will conduct “an extensive review” of CEO and President Brodeur’s tenure and examine its hiring practices as revelations continue to emerge from an investigation into a “ghost” candidate in Brodeur’s 2020 state Senate race. The Seminole Chamber’s board sent a message to members on Wednesday afternoon, days after the Orlando Sentinel reported that Joel Greenberg had told state investigators that Brodeur “absolutely” knew about the plan to recruit a spoiler candidate to help him win office two years ago.

Kathleen Passidomo to headline October Florida Resilience Conference” via Florida Politics — What happens when you put federal, state, local and private industry leaders together for three days to talk energy, beaches, agriculture, and infrastructure? Hundreds of Floridians will find out when they participate in the upcoming Florida Resilience Conference, set for Oct. 5-7. The conference, which will take place at the Hyatt Regency in Bonita Springs, will be highlighted by a keynote address by Florida Senate President-Designate Passidomo, sharing insights on Florida’s environmental outlook, policy, funding, and what lies ahead.

Happening today — Sen. Jennifer Bradley will speak at a meeting of the Republican Women’s Club of Duval Federated: 11:30 a.m., San Jose Country Club, 7529 San Jose Blvd., Jacksonville.


Joe Biden’s Cabinet hasn’t changed, a sharp break from Donald Trump” via Kevin Liptak of CNN — When Biden met with senior members of his administration on Tuesday, the 24 officials sitting around the table were identical to the ones Biden gathered 17 months ago for his first Cabinet meeting. There has been zero turnover among the secretaries, administrators and directors that form the official Cabinet, a level of consistency representing a sharp departure from Biden’s predecessor Trump, who had already lost three Cabinet officials at this point in his presidency. Biden could still choose to make changes around the two-year mark of his term, a traditional point for Presidents to rethink their teams.

Joe Biden changes his underwear more than he changes Cabinet members. Image via AP.

White House confirms Biden will visit Detroit Auto Show” via Todd Spangler of the Detroit Free Press — The White House on Tuesday afternoon confirmed that Biden will attend the North American International Auto Show, which begins next week. In a statement, the White House said Biden will travel to Detroit next Wednesday, Sept. 14, to visit the show. No further details about when he would be there, whether he would make remarks or whether he would go anywhere else in metro Detroit were immediately available. Last week, Biden mentioned in passing that he intended to visit the auto show when announcing economic development funds to be awarded in southeastern Michigan.

Rick Scott defends early NRSC spending as ‘the right thing’ for candidates” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Scott says he did the “right thing” in front-loading committee spending for GOP Senate candidates. During a Wednesday interview on the Fox News Channel, Scott rebutted a persistent narrative, fueled by a recent New York Times article, that the NRSC squandered money and donor goodwill, saying that the candidates needed the money sooner than later. “We did the right thing. We spent early,” Scott said of spending a reported 95%+ of the $181.5 million raised through July by the NRSC. “Here’s the problem with campaigns. If you wait until the last month, there’s too much static, there’s too much noise out there,” Scott said on “The Story with Martha MacCallum.”

Happening today — U.S. Rep. Mike Waltz will give a speech at the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting: 7:30 a.m., Daytona State College, Mori Hosseini Center, 1200 West International Speedway Blvd., Daytona Beach.


Tweet, tweet:

‘Skeptical’ Marco Rubio doubles down on Trump document defense” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — “Let’s break this down,” Rubio said during Wednesday’s episode of Fox and Friends, when asked if those documents should be in a “post-presidential desk drawer.” “First of all, we really don’t know,” Rubio said. “Let’s go back and understand that all this information is coming from one side and one place. And that is ‘sources with knowledge of the investigation.’ Who are the sources with knowledge of the investigation?” These parties are “strategically leaking information which can’t be rebutted or in any way analyzed,” to “influence the narrative” for the sake of “politics.”

— LOCAL: S. FL —

‘There is going to be a new Commissioner.’ DeSantis comments on Miami-Dade’s Joe Martinez” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — DeSantis said his administration has received a growing list of potential replacements for Martinez, a Miami-Dade Commissioner arrested on corruption charges, and expects to announce a decision soon on suspending him from office. “When you have a situation like that, there is going to be a new Commissioner,” DeSantis said Wednesday at a news conference in Sweetwater, where he announced a proposal for 50% toll rebates for frequent payers. “We’ll probably have a decision in the not-too-distant future.”

Joe Martinez knows his days as a Commissioner are numbered.

Grand jury leads to school scrutiny in Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties” via Scott Travis of the Orlando Sentinel — A grand jury report that rocked Broward schools last month is also leading to scrutiny of neighboring school districts related to underreporting of crimes and other safety issues. Both Palm Beach County and Miami-Dade school districts, as well as those in Duval and Orange counties, received letters from Tim Hay, director of the state Department of Education’s Office of Safe Schools, saying he had “significant concerns” about the grand jury’s findings. The letters, using similar wording as one sent to Broward, said Hay “has reasons to believe some issues “are ongoing and require immediate action.” He scheduled meetings with officials from the districts last week.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

Orange County transportation sales-tax advocates: ‘We need to do better’” via Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer headlined the official launch Wednesday of a million-dollar-plus push to persuade voters in the nation’s tourism capital to pass a penny-per-dollar sales-tax hike to improve transportation options. “We believe we are in pretty good shape at this point in terms of the potential to pass it,” said Demings, who first proposed the tax in 2019, put it on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic then stumped for it this summer while successfully campaigning for reelection.

—“Jerry Demings, Buddy Dyer hit the road for transportation tax” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

Orange County’s transportation tax show hits the pavement.

Vaccine, mask mandates seemed to limit COVID-19 spread at Orlando medical conference, study suggests” via Caroline Catherman of the Orlando Sentinel — Even during COVID-19 surges, medical conferences may safely continue if attendees are willing to take precautions, new survey results suggest. The survey, published Wednesday in JAMA Network Open, compares COVID-19 positivity rates in people who attended the Academic Surgical Congress in Orlando from Feb. 1 to 3 this year in person at the Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista versus virtually. The conference, put on by the National Surgical Society, took place right after the omicron surge’s peak. Despite high transmission levels in Central Florida, there was no meaningful difference in rates of COVID-19 between those who went to the conference and those who stayed home.

Supervisor of Elections Lori Scott denies that DeSantis or illness forced her resignation” via Dave Berman of Florida Today — Brevard County’s outgoing Supervisor of Elections, Scott, took to social media over the weekend to deny rumors that her surprise resignation announcement on Friday was the result of either illness or DeSantis forcing her out of office. In a Facebook post on Friday, Scott said she was resigning, effective Oct. 4. That triggered speculation about the reasons for her resigning in the middle of her four-year term and just before the 2022 midterm elections. DeSantis will get to appoint Scott’s successor.


Steve Bannon faces new charges while Sarasota man awaits sentencing in border wall scam” via Chris Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Bannon, former presidential adviser and longtime acquaintance of a Sarasota County man facing a federal prison sentence for his role in a border wall scam, is expected to be indicted in New York on Thursday. The indictment remains sealed, but the new state charges are reportedly similar to those Bannon faced federally with Andrew Badolato of Sarasota in August 2020. Bannon, Badolato, and two other men were charged with defrauding private donors in a $25 million fundraising effort to construct a wall along the border of the United States and Mexico. Bannon allegedly kept $1 million for personal use, while Badolato pocketed hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Rinse, repeat: Steve Bannon is in deep for the same old thing.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

LeAnna Gutierrez Cumber highlights ‘Daniel Davis Double’ in new ad — Jacksonville City Council member Gutierrez Cumber released a new 15-second digital ad for her mayoral campaign. The ad, titled “Daniel Davis Doubles,” highlights how Cumber fought against Davis’ push to double the gas tax and sponsored legislation to repeal it. “Daniel Davis led the charge to double the gas tax in Jacksonville. LeAnna Gutierrez Cumber fought the gas tax hike and sponsored legislation to repeal it. LeAnna Gutierrez Cumber will keep opposing costly tax hikes and give taxpayers a break,” the ad says.

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

Fernandina Beach Mayor faces four-way race for re-election to Commission” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — Mike Lednovich’s time as Fernandina Beach Mayor is ending — at least for the moment — but his attempt to remain on the City Commission is being tested by three others seeking his seat: James Antun, Chelsey Lemire and Christopher Nickoloff. Fernandina Beach’s city government has a Mayor, but a person can only run for the job if they’re already an elected Commissioner in a seat that isn’t on that year’s ballot. It’s both Lednovich’s re-election year and the next mayoral election, so he’s unable to run for that spot this year. Lednovich picked up a $1,000 contribution in April and a few hundred dollars here and there.

State-defined tax increase likely for Fernandina Beach property owners” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — Costs are going up and jobs need to be done, so despite the anti-tax local political culture, the Fernandina Beach City Commission is continuing on a path toward a millage rate the state defines as a tax increase, but is the same rate Commissioners approved for the current fiscal year. “It’s not the world of politics (that defines it) as a tax increase,” Commissioner Bradley Bean said at the Commission’s latest special city meeting. “It is defined by the state of Florida that it is a tax increase. That’s what we have here. The state of Florida defined — that’s the definition of what a tax increase is. Frankly, to be honest with you, yes, you point out that all of our (Commissioner) tax increases are capped at just 3%.”


In voter fraud, penalties often depend on who’s voting” via Michael Wines of The New York Times — After 15 years of scrapes with the police, the last thing that 33-year-old Therris L. Conney needed was another run-in with the law. He got one anyway two years ago after election officials held a presentation on voting rights for inmates of the county jail in Gainesville.

Apparently satisfied that he could vote, Conney registered after the session, and cast a ballot in 2020. In May, he was arrested for breaking a state law banning voting by people serving felony sentences and he was sentenced to almost another full year in jail.

That show-no-mercy approach to voter fraud is what DeSantis, a Republican, has encouraged this year during his re-election campaign. “That was against the law,” he said last month about charges against 20 other felons who voted in Florida, “and they’re going to pay a price for it.”


The revealing details of DeSantis’ voter fraud crackdown” via The Washington Post editorial board — As Republican activists waved signs saying, “My Vote Counts,” DeSantis stood in a Broward County courtroom last month to tout the first deliverables from the state’s controversial election police squad. “They did not go through any process. They did not get their rights restored, and yet they went ahead and voted anyway. … And now they’re going to pay the price,” he said of the 20 people arrested and charged with voting illegally in the 2020 elections. DeSantis revealed little about the individual cases, and no wonder. Many of those charged had no idea they were unable to vote; some had even received official government notifications that they were eligible. None of that seemed to matter to DeSantis, whose crackdown on voter fraud isn’t about a real threat to election integrity.

In Florida, let’s just ban all the books!” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — Republicans spent much of the past year trying to ban books and history lessons that cover any subject that might upset the Moms for Liberty of the world. Thank goodness! No student should be exposed to any facts or perspectives that their parents dislike. If I wanna keep my kid ignorant, I have every right to do so and to keep your kids ignorant as well. That’s Florida’s version of “freedom.” Now, as you’ve probably read, many school districts are struggling to implement Florida’s new censorship plans. Some local ones have re-evaluated their book fairs. Pinellas and St. Johns counties are reconsidering their summer reading programs.

Running scared: DeSantis avoids statewide TV debate” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — The tough guy in the flight helmet is afraid of Crist. “Never, ever back down from a fight,” DeSantis insists in a campaign ad. Then he runs away from an invitation to debate Crist on statewide television. Considering DeSantis’ obvious vulnerabilities in a format he can’t control — especially on the subjects of abortion and guns — his debate avoidance strategy may be politically savvy. But it cheats Florida voters. It shows how he loathes transparency. It’s bad for democracy. Florida’s “Decision 2022: Before You Vote” debate series looks impressive with its statewide alliance of 10 television stations from Miami to Pensacola, a coalition of prominent sponsors across the political spectrum, statewide public radio hookup, and a national rebroadcast on C-SPAN.

DeSantis is looking like Republicans’ best 2024 option” via Nicole Russell of Newsweek — Whereas Trump exhorted the nation to follow Dr. Anthony Fauci, who advised healthy people to quarantine, schools to close, and “non-essential” businesses to lock down, DeSantis kept Florida open: He refused to lock down the state. Floridians’ descriptions of what it was like to live freely during COVID-19 markedly contrast with the experiences of residents of blue states, such as New York and California.

How reactionary is MAGA? Try the first century B.C.” via Dana Milbank of The Washington Post — MAGA Republican leaders take umbrage at being accused of “semi-fascism,” which is understandable: Twentieth-century dictators such as Mussolini and the German guy with the mustache gave fascism a bad name. But the MAGA crowd isn’t disavowing totalitarianism, per se. It’s just their taste in authoritarian figures skews toward the classics. They’re old-school — first century B.C. old. “Hail, Caesar” goes down so much easier than “Heil Hitler.” J.D. Vance, the Republican Senate nominee in Ohio, spoke approvingly of Curtis Yarvin, a self-proclaimed monarchist who argues for an American Julius Caesar to take power.

Innovative state workers are the unsung heroes of Florida” via Dominic Calabro for the Miami Herald — Ask the average Floridian, “Who conducts the business of state government?” and they will likely respond by naming the Governor, maybe a cabinet member, or perhaps even their state senator or representative. Sure, the media cover these public figures every day, but the real answer is the thousands of government employees, many of whom have served the state for decades, working tirelessly every day on our behalf. Typically, Floridians only hear about a government employee when something has gone awry at a state agency. This is unfortunate given that the vast majority are selfless individuals who often make personal sacrifices to better our state and the lives of its residents, including teachers, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and state park service employees, to name a few.


— ALOE —

Disney flexes its muscles in Disney+ Day subscriber push” via Alex Weprin of The Hollywood Reporter — The Walt Disney Co. doesn’t want to see its streaming subscriber numbers flatline, and it is pulling out all the stops to convince consumers to buy in, using this week’s Disney+ Day as the event to tie its efforts together. On Wednesday, the company announced a wave of Disney+ subscriber perks, spanning its theme parks, merchandise, cruise lines, and even theatrical movies, meant to reinforce the notion that a Disney+ subscription gets you more than just movies and TV shows and to underscore what Disney can offer that most of its competitors cannot.

Happy Disney+ Day!

Female sports executives share tales, advice on Jumbo Shrimp panel” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — Women in male-dominated industries can find it difficult and isolating at times, shut out from the tertiary aspects of a job that are baked into a corporate male culture to facilitate professional advancement. That sort of atmosphere can turn away some of the best minds in the business. Building relationships, sharing lessons learned, and women helping each other were dominant themes in the hour-plus discussion on women in sports hosted by the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp and sponsored by First Citizens Bank, We Matter Too, Inc. and JSK Marketing.


Best wishes to former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley, former Sen. Anitere Flores, Rep. Thad Altman, former Rep. Ed Narain, former St. Petersburg City Council member Jeff Danner, former Rep. Karen Castor Dentel, Ali Pardo, and Sean Phillippi.


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.

One comment

  • Darlene

    September 8, 2022 at 4:32 am

    I am so tired of these racist remarks against white people. – Yes I said racist, in your tampa bay times article
    Analysis of Florida’s future includes only “white dudes opinions” Its okay to have 100 black men of tampa bay Inc., all black colleges, the black power fist statue in the state of Michigan Pro black materials etc… I know of just as many white people that are under privileged, living below poverty level, that are judged today for being white because of how black people were treated as slaves etc its called unforgiveness resent and bitterness. The shoe is on the other foot now a days, and it is obvious to many white people. There are so many more programs from educational to economical status, job opportunities etc. ALL PEOPLE NEED TO BE TREATED EQUAL!!! Racist between any color NEEDS TO GO!!! ITS NOT OKAY FOR THEE BUT NOT FOR ALL!!!! LOOK AROUND. ITS CALL EQUAL OPPORTUNITY!!!!

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