Winner and Loser of the Week in Florida politics — Week of 9.4.22

When it comes to Florida elections, senior citizens could hold the key.

To borrow from Notre Dame’s famous fight song, Florida’s one-time powerhouses woke up the echoes last week as college football season ramped up.

The Florida Gators knocked off No. 7-ranked Utah before a raucous crowd in Gainesville.

Then, Florida State went to Death Valley in Baton Rouge and stunned LSU in Brian Kelly’s debut as the Tigers’ head coach.

Meanwhile, the University of Miami capped an offseason filled with hope and promise by obliterating Bethune-Cookman University 73-10 in Coach Mario Cristobol’s debut. University of Central Florida (UCF) continues to show it belongs with the elites, and even though the University of South Florida (USF) got rolled by BYU, there was a reason for hope at the sprawling Tampa campus.

By now, you’re saying, um, isn’t this a political site?

Indeed it is, but we’re never far from the intersection of sports — particularly college football — and the state’s universities. When a Florida football team is good, the competition for admission to that university spikes. Alums become more generous with their contributions.

When multiple teams are good, it leads to great exposure for the state with more prime-time games. That translates to better recruiting opportunities, which means more wins, and so it goes.

Take UCF’s ascension, for instance. The Knights have been consistently good for several years, earning a promotion to the Big 12 Conference starting next season. That means a lot more money for the school, along with vital exposure.

Eventually, the schools turn out graduates who want to make a difference in their state, including politics.

That’s how it was when icons like Bobby Bowden, Steve Spurrier, Howard Schnellenberger, and Jimmy Johnson prowled the sidelines. Their successes helped make Florida the college football capital of the United States for nearly two decades.

Well, we know what happened after that. Florida’s Big Three lost their mojo, which brings us to the present.

What makes this season different is that it was unexpected. Miami was ranked. But for the first time since 1974, Florida and Florida State were left out of the preseason rankings.

That changed quickly, and, yes, it could go south just as fast.

We mentioned USF above, and even in last week’s gloom, there was reason to believe better days were coming. Former Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford is the Chair of USF’s trustees and pushed for the school to build an on-campus stadium.

See, we told you that sports and politics run close together.

At a recent trustee meeting, members signaled their determination to break ground on a stadium within two years.

Believe it.

Weatherford told the Tampa Bay Times, “failure is not an option here.”

OK, let’s get on with our weekly game of winners and losers.


Honorable mention: Gov. Ron DeSantis. You’ve probably noticed those TV ads painting the Governor as the champion of the oppressed parents, teachers, workers and just about everyone.

The brilliantly produced ads aim to counteract the prickly side of DeSantis’ demeanor. And the best thing about it from his side is that the spots are running with little to no response from Charlie Crist.

It’s a money thing.

DeSantis has truckloads of cash, while Crist might as well have a tin cup by an interstate off-ramp with a sign that says “Will Govern for Food.”

While Crist is trying to find enough cash to compete, DeSantis’ message of how wonderful he is has gone unchallenged.

None of the ads mentions woke, critical race theory, bad teachers or Disney. They are a master class in image crafting.

Almost (but not quite) biggest winner: Crist and Val Demings. Hey, wait a second, didn’t we just say Crist is getting crushed in the money game?

Yes, we did.

But he and Demings have reason for optimism after a pair of recent polls indicate their races are much tighter than Republicans might have expected.

An AARP poll put Crist on DeSantis’ heels, with the Governor holding a tight 50% to 47% lead. That was within the poll’s 4.4 percentage point margin of error.

The poll also showed Demings down by only 2 points to Marco Rubio in their U.S. Senate race. It included some nuggets that should concern the Rubio camp.

As Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics wrote, “(Demings) holds a solid net favorability rating, with 42% of respondents liking her and just 28% disliking her. But that leaves a full 30% with no opinion, a sign that the Central Florida Congresswoman has room to grow in recognition.”

Demings also has the money to compete with Rubio, who lately has sounded the alarm that he needs more cash for the weeks ahead.

The biggest winner: Florida senior citizens. The aforementioned polls highlighted the power Florida seniors still hold regarding elections.

“Florida voters 50 and older are a critical voting demographic that all candidates are competing for in this midterm election,” Florida AARP state director Jeff Johnson said.

They tend to vote more regularly than their younger counterparts, meaning candidates must pay close attention to issues important to seniors.

It’s probably a good thing for the GOP that Rubio is running for re-election instead of Rick Scott. Seniors would receive reminders about every 10 seconds that Scott proposed sunsetting all federal programs—including Social Security and Medicare — after five years.

The first commandment of Florida politics: Thou shalt not mess with Social Security or Medicare.

“Seniors are going to be a critical deciding factor in the Demings race,” Democratic pollster Matt Hogan said.

That’s because they pay attention, especially this close to an election. Given that, you can be sure the recent Inflation Reduction Act will get a lot of play. Hogan said the issue tests well with seniors because it allows Medicare to negotiate drug costs.

The Demings camp will remind seniors that she voted for the bill in the U.S. House, while Rubio voted “no.”


Dishonorable mention: Ken Welch. St. Petersburg’s Mayor pushed a bad position when he said he didn’t believe allegations that his office had a hostile work environment under former Deputy Mayor Stephanie Owens.

The issue came to light when Janelle Irwin Taylor abruptly quit her $127,000-a-year job over how Owens treated her. Owens resigned a day later.

“First, I do not believe that there is a pervasive, hostile work environment,” Welch said. “In the case of the statement of our former Comms Director and her resignation letter, there were no complaints filed, nor was I informed of a problem until the day before that letter was sent to the city.”

That’s not true.

Florida Politics Publisher Peter Schorsch reported that Welch was hand-delivered a letter on the day after the August 2021 Primary Election that raised the issues he claimed he didn’t know about.

It said there was a “toxic work environment” under Owens’ leadership. There were “instances of aggression, rudeness, deception, deep unprofessionalism, and a general negativity to people inside and outside the campaign.”

Multiple members of the campaign team signed the letter.

Almost (but not quite) biggest loser: Rubio. Oh, Marco.

Florida’s senior Senator pooh-poohed the federal investigation into Donald Trump’s handling of classified documents after leaving the presidency.

Rubio called it “a storage argument.”

“This is really at its core a storage argument that they’re making,” Rubio told NBC 6. “They’re arguing there are documents there, they don’t deny that he should have access to those documents, but they deny they were properly stored.”

It’s a bit more than that, Senator.

The Washington Post reported that some documents detail a foreign government’s military defenses, including its nuclear capabilities.

Others, the Post said, “detail top-secret U.S. operations so closely guarded that many senior national security officials are kept in the dark about them.”

And no, despite Rubio’s assertion, Trump lost all claim to have those documents the moment he left office.

It begs the question of what Trump had to gain by having them. It’s worth remembering that he refused to work with Joe Biden to ensure a smooth transition of power. Losing access to the information that Trump kept at Mar-a-Lago could have endangered national security. Trump, however, probably would have been OK with that because Biden would have looked bad.

To dismiss it as a “storage issue” is ridiculous.

The biggest loser: Jason Brodeur. The Republican state Senator from District 10 faces calls for his resignation.

That might be the least of his problems.

The Orlando Sentinel reported that former Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg said Brodeur “absolutely” knew about a plan to recruit a “ghost” candidate for Brodeur’s 2020 Senate race.

Greenberg is in jail, awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to sex trafficking charges.

In a June 23 interview, Greenberg said Brodeur was present during discussions about finding a spoiler candidate that would take votes from his Democratic rival. That spoiler turned out to be independent candidate Jestine Iannotti, who was marketed as a progressive but didn’t campaign.

Brodeur won by 2 percentage points.

Following reports linking Brodeur to the scheme, Democrats are calling for Brodeur to drop out of the race.

They also want a state investigation.

“Why isn’t Gov. Ron DeSantis and his election police looking into this?” Orlando Democratic state Rep. Carlos Guillermo-Smith said via WESH-TV.

Also, the Seminole County Chamber, where Brodeur is the President and CEO, said it would conduct an “extensive review” of Brodeur’s time with the organization.

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.


  • Joe Corsin

    September 11, 2022 at 8:27 am

    Losers: Trump and Trump supporters
    Winners: Humanity if they lock his fat ass up..

    • Tom

      September 11, 2022 at 9:51 am

      Corsin, President of Trump Derangement Syndrome Assoc.

    • Trevor Morris

      September 13, 2022 at 2:14 am

      Yeah, but Trump has always been a loser and a liar. FL Politics can’t have Trump and his brain-dead supporters dominating the loser list forever. It is a given, that they will always be the biggest and dumbest losers in the country.

  • Larry Gillis, Libertarian (Cape Coral)

    September 11, 2022 at 8:49 am

    Please include Libertarians in the mix when you analyze the races for US Senate and for the governorship. We offer a solid alternative to the “push me pull you” choices offered by the “legacy” parties. Live Free or Die.

  • Tom

    September 11, 2022 at 10:05 am

    Biggest Loser:
    Chameleon Crisp, fact-checker.Org calls out Chameleon for his lies, misleading adds on Gov Ron. Appalling, Gov does not support ban “background” checks of all firearms. Another lie, Crisp says Gov supports, ban on all abortions. Not true!

    Fact-checker.Org rightfully calls out the chameleon on both. Once a chameleon, always a chameleon.

    Runner Up Loser:

    California, Governor Newsom, pledged to give chameleon $100,000. His in laws have contributed to Gov Ron, and fled California to buy estate and live in Naples. Fleeing blue state tyrant.

    Florida Freedom, Florida Liberty, and Florida family, thanks to Gov Ron.

    Winner : Governor Ron, America’s Gov.
    The People’s Governor, rising tide for all.

    • TJC

      September 11, 2022 at 1:37 pm

      There is no Fact-checker.Org anywhere online. Did you misspell it by any chance?
      Or is it all inside your tightly zipped head?

      • Tom

        September 11, 2022 at 2:22 pm

        TJC, you are small potatoes and not in
        My league.

        Regardless, I hadn’t sipped enough coffee this AM and had a typo.

        Note: the correct website post is,
        my error. Not fact “checker”

        It’s very clear chameleon is a pathetic liar. Flip flopper, 3 faced, speaking out of his rear! He will lose.

      • Tom

        September 11, 2022 at 2:26 pm

        It’s Factcheck.Org

        My typo! The truth hurts, facts are funny things!

        TJC, you are not in my league! Period

    • Mother Superior Slapshot, Bishop Hedman Academy

      September 11, 2022 at 1:48 pm

      Thank goodness gracious, Mister Tom, so good to hear you warn us once again about the “rising tide” problem. Undoubtedly you refer to global warming and the Republicans’ failure to do anything about it. And you are absolutely right, it is indeed a rising tide for all, regardless of race, creed, color, political affiliation, or I.Q. So good of you to remind us again and again — your inclination to repeat yourself has real merit sometimes. Bless your heart.

      • Tom

        September 11, 2022 at 2:12 pm

        Sista, Saints be praised. I’ve been concerned bout you. Your lack of review, critique of my homilies of life!

        The rising tide sista is from our saintly Gov, who has been committed in Bountiful acts, see sista he had fed needy, clothed those in need and provided helping hand to down trodden. We had a pandemic and cause he stayed strong, he helped the weak get stronger. Working, school, business owners, people’s. See the rising tide rewards all sista! It’s not partisan like the dummycrats.

        Say a prayer for this good man sista, and his wife, young lads kids!

        Blessings sista!

  • michael l. Hammond

    September 12, 2022 at 7:12 am

    FSU and LSU played in New Orleans…never get your facts straight

Comments are closed.


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