Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 9.15.22

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Coffee is for closers. So is Sunburn, your morning rundown of Florida politics.

Good Thursday morning.

Breaking overnight — “Ron DeSantis sends two planes of illegal immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard” via Jessica Chasmer of Fox News — Florida Gov. DeSantis followed through on his promise to drop off illegal immigrants in progressive states, sending two planes full of migrants to Martha’s Vineyard. A video provided to Fox News Digital shows the migrants deboarding the planes at Martha’s Vineyard Airport in Massachusetts. “Yes, Florida can confirm the two planes with illegal immigrants that arrived in Martha’s Vineyard today were part of the state’s relocation program to transport illegal immigrants to sanctuary destinations,” said the governor’s communications director, Taryn Fenske.

Also breaking overnight — “White House says tentative deal reached to avoid rail strike” via Axios — Rail companies and unions struck a tentative agreement to avoid a strike businesses feared would’ve led to severe supply chain disruptions, the White House said. President Biden, in a pre-dawn statement, called the agreement “an important win for our economy.” A strike could have driven up prices at a time when inflation is showing signs of remaining stubbornly high. “These rail workers will get better pay, improved working conditions, and peace of mind around their health care costs: all hard-earned,” Biden said.

Charlie Crist spoke at a news conference yesterday announcing endorsements from several LGBTQ+ organizations. They’re not surprising nods, but they are valuable, especially considering the access to a network of grassroots foot soldiers the support will provide.

But, as so many understand, it’s not enough to like Crist. People also have to like his running mate.

Crist’s choice for Lieutenant Governor was strategic. Karla Hernández, in theory, opens the door for support from women, the Hispanic and Latino communities and South Florida writ large. As the head of the United Teachers of Dade, she also brings education cred.

As intriguing a pick as Hernández may have been, the reality was — there weren’t many available choices. In this political climate, he’d be hard-pressed to find an elected official willing to abandon their post for what may very well become an unsuccessful bid.

Yet, despite Hernández’s resume, I have yet to find a reason to be impressed. Her comments earlier this week in Cape Coral give even more pause.

“I’m a teacher, I’m a sp-ed teacher. So, my major was emotionally handicapped education,” she said before adding that experience “qualifies” her “to deal with the dysfunctional Legislature.”

The comment garnered applause from supporters who, no doubt, agree with the “dysfunctional legislature” quip. But it should be no surprise that critics were quick to pounce, including First Lady Casey DeSantis, whose husband Crist and Hernández are hoping to topple.

Casey DeSantis said she was “sickened by callous words from someone who claims to be an advocate for children.”

Agreed.

It’s one thing to criticize the Legislature as dysfunctional. But to claim that working with special needs children provides the background and experience to deal with them implies, if not explicitly states, that having a special need is akin to being dysfunctional.

Point me to a parent of a special needs student who would not be offended by the comparison. I’ll wait.

To listen to the comment, please click on the image below:

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Scott Ross has been named managing partner at Capital City Consulting, the firm announced this week.

“I’m honored to be selected to help lead such an outstanding group of professionals. We are privileged to work with amazing clients, and I look forward to continuing to help grow the top firm in Florida,” Ross said.

Ross joined CCC in 2015 after serving as a Deputy Secretary at the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. That role, as well as his previous work as director of government relations for Las Vegas Sands, has made him a go-to lobbyist for issues related to gaming and other regulated industries.

“Scott is smart, strategic and trusted by all firm members. He is an obvious choice for managing partner and we are excited to see how his leadership will shape our continued growth,” CCC co-founder Nick Iarossi said.

Scott Ross will use his considerable talents to lead Capital City Consulting.

Co-founder Ron LaFace added, “Scott has always been one of the go-to people for firm members needing help on an issue or developing a client strategy and we are excited he agreed to formally take on the role of managing partner.”

Ross moves up at the firm as Capital City Consulting itself continues to rise — the firm consistently places among the Top-5 firms in terms of lobbying revenues and it recently announced that South Florida-based Prodigy Public Affairs would merge with the firm, becoming Capital City Consulting Miami.

“It’s no surprise Scott has made managing partner at Capital City Consulting. His attention to detail, his relationships, and his fierce advocacy for his clients really stand out,” said Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, a Spring Hill Republican who is headed to the state Senate after the November election.

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Here are a few other thoughts:

👴🏻 — What’s a gerontocracy and how’s it weakening democracy? Welp, America’s leaders are old and getting older, according to a Business Insider series called “Red, White and Gray” exposing how aging Congressional, executive and judicial leaders are leading a much more youthful constituency. The must-read piece evaluates how democracy in the hands of those whose primes have passed may no longer be able to respond to the needs of a more youthful society interested in issues surrounding technology, civil rights, energy, and the environment.

😡 — U.S. Sen. Rick Scott’s standing in the Senate has taken a turn for the worse due to his unconventional approach to running the NRSC. Tara Palmeri of Puck News suggests it’s decent fodder for a “How to Lose Friends & Alienate People” sequel.

💯 — Every other day, a national journalist drops an in-depth profile of Ron DeSantis. Some of them are OK, but many of them are met with eye rolls from readers who know a thing or two about Florida politics. But Matt Flegenheimer of The New York Times? This guy gets it.

🫂 — September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, but Aetna Better Health of Florida exec Patricia Babcock says critical conversations on the topic need to become part of the everyday narrative.

🐘 — Why are working-class Latinos flocking to the GOP? That’s the question the WSJ’s Aaron Zitner and Bryan Mena dive into as they evaluate how the trend is fracturing a group that used to vote mostly Democratic along class lines.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

Tweet, tweet:

@CurtOnMessage: lotta GOP donor money wasted in NH

@JonathanWeisman: Watching Republican senators on violent crime and seeing some of the political ads running, I’m really struck by how far we’ve come from the brief bipartisanship on criminal justice reform. It was once a (Donald) Trump issue.

@Strandjunker: I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it a thousand times: The treatment for an ectopic pregnancy, a septic uterus, or a miscarriage that your body won’t release is abortion. If you can’t get those abortions, you die. You. Die.

@StephHayes: The racists are going to be really mad when they find out that mermaids were not hot redheads, but actually manatees spotted by lonely, vitamin C-deficient sailors with open wounds.

— DAYS UNTIL —

Queen Elizabeth’s funeral, a national day off in Britain — 4; ‘Andor’ premieres on Disney+ — 6; vote-by-mail mailing deadline for General Election — 17; 22-23 NHL season begins — 22; deadline to register for General Election — 29; ‘Before You Vote’ TV debates (Senate) — 33; ‘Before You Vote’ TV debates (Governor) — 35; Taylor Swift’s ‘Midnights’ release — 36; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 39; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 40; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 40; Early voting begins for General Election — 44; 2022 General Election — 74; ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ premieres — 57; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 57; FITCon 2022 begins — 63; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 63; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 67; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 67; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 76; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 76; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 82; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 92; Bruce Springsteen launches his 2023 tour in Tampa — 139; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 155; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 173; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 190; American Association of Political Consultants Pollies’ 23 conference begins — 215; 2023 Session Sine Die — 232; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 232; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 260; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 309; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 414; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 428; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 561; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 680; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 680; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 785; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 963.

— TOP STORY —

Marco Rubio co-sponsors Senator’s bill banning abortions nationally after 15 weeks” via Alex Roarty of the Miami Herald — The bill, unveiled this week by GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina would allow for exceptions after 15 weeks in cases of rape or incest or if the life of the mother is in danger. It is the first attempt to reduce abortion rights federally since the Supreme Court in June revoked the right to abortion in the case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

The legislation, if passed, would likely have little effect on Florida, which already bans abortions after 15 weeks.

Lindsey Graham joins Marco Rubio to drop a bombshell on the issue of abortion.

Graham’s bill surprised Washington and rocked political races across the country this week, with Democrats seizing on it as proof that Republicans, despite their rhetoric, aren’t content to let each state set their own rules and regulations governing the procedure and instead want to impose a national ban.

The measure has also received a cold shoulder from some Republicans: Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell said this week that most of the party’s Senators would “prefer this be dealt with at the state level.”

Rick Scott sidesteps question about Lindsey Graham 15-week abortion ban bill” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) Chair Scott was cagey when answering the question about whether he backed the South Carolina Republican’s bill Wednesday during an interview on Fox News’ America Reports. His answer suggested a federal abortion ban push was not in sync with messaging in General Election campaigns. “Well, if you go around the country, what people are focused on is the economy, their kids’ education, public safety,” Scott said, before suggesting the abortion issue is mobilizing the opposition party more than Republicans in the wake of the Supreme Court Dobbs ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade this year. Scott said the current strategy was working for his NRSC candidates and would prevail if “we stay on our message.”

Contra — “Republicans tried to sidestep the issue of abortion. Now they’re seeking a reset.” via Jonathan Allen, Marc Caputo and Allan Smith of NBC News — Republicans’ first step was admitting they had an abortion problem. Now, GOP candidates are racing to limit self-inflicted damage — and trying to blunt Democrats’ edge on the issue — before November’s Midterm Elections. For some, that has meant walking back support for a total ban, embracing more limited restrictions on abortion and trying to reverse the tide by painting Democrats as radicals. “We’re starting to see that happen, and, for all intents and purposes, I think this is a good thing,” said Mallory Carroll, a spokesperson for the anti-abortion-rights group Susan B. Anthony List, “because pro-life Republicans have to be realistic about what is achievable.”


— DESANTIS V. CRIST —

As 2024 looms, Ron DeSantis has every corner of the conservative media fawning” via Caleb Ecarma of Vanity Fair — DeSantis has embarked on a public relations speed run aimed at boosting his national profile ahead of 2024, embracing red meat social policies and making inroads with conservative power brokers of every stripe. As part of this effort, the notoriously pugnacious Governor has managed to walk a tightrope among right-wing media that few Republicans can. On Fox News, DeSantis has become a favorite guest. DeSantis’s affable relationships with the media aren’t just limited to cable news. In conservative print media, multiple industry leaders are also rooting for a DeSantis presidency.

In new ad, Charlie Crist wants ‘fed up’ voters to punish DeSantis for high gas, food costs” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — As Republicans count on voters punishing Democrats this fall, Crist says there’s a place Florida voters can direct their anger. A new ad suggests they hold DeSantis to account. “Fed Up,” a new statewide ad from the Democratic nominee, lays into the incumbent administration for gas and food price hikes. Most of all, it attacks DeSantis for waging culture wars instead of solving problems. “If you’re fed up every time you fill up, or ticked off every time you pick up groceries,” Crist says, “well maybe it’s time you had a Governor focused on you. That’s not what Floridians have now, Crist said.

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

DeSantis’ campaign ad touts that he let kids ‘go to school’; omits when he closed schools for COVID-19” via Danielle J. Brown of Florida Phoenix — In the early stage of the then-novel COVID-19-pandemic, DeSantis and his administration made an urgent decision at a fearful time: He ordered public schools across the state to shut down, first for an extended spring break in March 2020 and then for the rest of the school year. But viewers watching DeSantis’ new statewide TV-and-digital campaign ad may not know that schools were initially locked down. The political ad simply showed a young school-aged kid looking into the camera to thank DeSantis. “You let me go to school,” the child said, with no other context. The ad also shows other student-aged characters and someone who appears to be a teacher, along with some other DeSantis supporters.

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

RPOF puts another $1.1M into Governor, Cabinet ads — The Republican Party of Florida’s 3PAC supporting DeSantis, Attorney General Ashley Moody and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis has placed a $1.14 million TV buy. According to AdImpact, the flight will cover broadcast ads running today through Wednesday in 10 media markets. About a third of the money will head to the Orlando market, followed by the Miami market at $289K, Tampa at $128K, West Palm Beach at $119K, Ft. Myers at $107K and Jacksonville at $100K. The spend is below $10K in every other media market. The new buy overlaps with another placed by the 3PAC last week. The $794K flight began on Sept. 5 and runs through Monday.

Assignment editors — Crist will take part in the following events: 10:45 a.m., Central time, news conference on Florida Power & Light’s price hikes, Pensacola; 3:15 p.m., Central time, “Choice is the Choice” meet and greet, Panama City. Location upon RSVP at [email protected].

LGBTQ+ groups back Crist, pledge to mobilize voters” via Florida Politics — A coalition of LGBTQ+ advocacy groups is endorsing Crist as he seeks to unseat incumbent DeSantis. The groups, Equality Florida, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Safeguard American Values (SAVE), drew stark distinctions between DeSantis and Crist, painting DeSantis as a “bully” who has relentlessly attacked equality and Crist as the savior who will get the state back on track. “We don’t care if you want to be President,” Equality Florida Senior Director Joe Saunders said at a news conference announcing the endorsements Wednesday, directing his words to DeSantis.

Crist, LGBTQ organizations condemn DeSantis in South Florida as culture war rages” via Devoun Cetoute of the Miami Herald — A host of Florida LGBTQ organizations came together in gay-friendly Wilton Manors Wednesday to endorse and promote Crist in his race against DeSantis, calling Florida’s Governor a “danger” to queer communities. “If you are an LGBTQ Floridian, you do not need us to remind you why the stakes in this [election] are so high,” Joe Saunders, Equality Florida Action PAC’s senior political director, said. Four organizations announced or reaffirmed their support of Crist: Equality Florida Action PAC, Safeguarding American Values for Everyone, Florida LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus and the Human Rights Campaign.

Crist has a history of comparing himself to Jesus Christ, calling opponent ‘DeSatan’” via Aubrie Spady of Fox News — Crist has made several biblical references while speaking to potential voters at recent campaign events, referring to his GOP opponent as “DeSatan” and himself as “Christ.” While speaking in Key West, Crist made a peculiar comparison of DeSantis burning books and the devil being reincarnated. He then asked his supporters whether they knew about DeSantis’ nickname. “You know some people call him DeSatan?” Crist asked.

— 2022 —

Rubio ad calls Val Demings ‘dangerously radical,’ ‘100% wrong’ — U.S. Sen. Rubio’s re-election campaign released two new ads attacking his Democratic challenger, U.S. Rep. Demings. The first ad, titled “Most Liberal,” says Demings “supports amnesty and gave stimulus checks to illegal immigrants” and claims she supports “taxpayer-funded abortion until the moment of birth.” The second ad is titled “100%,” in reference to “how often radical Val Demings votes with Nancy Pelosi.” The ad concludes that Demings is “100% wrong for Florida.” Ad buy disclosures show that Rubio’s campaign placed a $1.53 million statewide broadcast buy to air the incumbent Republican’s ads in six media markets across the state: Tampa, Miami, Ft. Myers, West Palm Beach, Jacksonville and Orlando.

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

Ad says Anna Paulina Luna is ‘too extreme’ for CD 13 — A new ad airing in Florida’s 13th Congressional District highlights Republican nominee Luna’s anti-abortion views, calling them “too extreme.” The ad, run by Progress Pinellas PAC, includes clips of Luna calling herself a “pro-life extremist” and saying, “Abortion is not health care. It will never be health care. It’s wrong.” An FEC disclosure filed Tuesday shows that Progress Pinellas PAC spent $2.18 million on media buys opposing Luna and an additional $11,718 on ad production, presumably for this ad.

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

Save the date:

Florida chapter of world’s largest police union backs Janelle Perez’s Senate bid” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — A statewide police union 24,000 strong is giving Democratic Senate candidate Perez its endorsement over the Republican candidate who’s a favorite of the Tallahassee establishment. Perez, a businesswoman who would be the first openly gay woman elected to the Senate, said the backing of the Florida chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) reflects her campaign’s commitment to safety and security. FOP claims to be the largest organization of law enforcement officers in the world.

Exclusive —House candidate Audrey Henson, founder of College to Congress, departs organization” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Henson has parted company with College to Congress, a program she founded to financially assist congressional interns. The organization no longer lists Henson on its “Leadership” or “Team” webpages. Additionally, the candidate’s campaign has started listing her as the former CEO of the nonprofit. College to Campus provided a statement announcing Henson’s departure from the organization as of last fall.

Happening today — Candidates in House Districts 72 and 73 will speak at the Sarasota Tiger Bay Club. Rep. Tommy Gregory and Democrat Roberts Guy Dameus face each other in HD 72; Rep. Fiona McFarland and Democrat Derek Reich are running in HD 73: noon, Michael’s on East, 1212 South East Ave., Sarasota.

Save the date:

LeAnna Cumber crosses $3M raised for Jax mayoral race” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Cumber raised $47,250 from 67 contributions to her campaign account in August, and JAX First, a political committee supporting her, raised $107,500 between July 30 and Sept. 2. Cumber has raised a total of $384,335 in hard money, and $2,673,638 to her political committee, giving her more than $3 million raised. She has spent more than half a million dollars already, but donors continue to invest in her campaign. The leading Democratic fundraiser is still former newscaster Donna Deegan, though there are signs that inflow is slowing and burn rate is increasing. Her Donna for Duval political committee raised just $1,781 between July 30 and Sept. 2, while spending $8,166. The committee account now has less than $297,000 on hand.

Happening today — A panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will consider the constitutionality of a 2021 Florida elections law restricting the use of ballot drop boxes, among other changes: 9 a.m., James Lawrence King Federal Justice Building, 99 N.E. Fourth St., Miami.

— STATEWIDE —

Fact Check: Is DeSantis’ first responder’s fund paid for by Biden?” via Tom Norton of Newsweek — Twitter and Facebook posts, published in September 2022, claim that $1,000 bonus payments for Florida first responders, announced by DeSantis, were paid for by Biden’s American Rescue Plan. While the Governor has not made this claim explicitly, the bonuses were not paid for through state funding. They were, in fact, paid for through the American Rescue Plan, a federally funded program that DeSantis has previously criticized. DeSantis has not been forthcoming about this fact, and it’s not well noted in Florida’s budget papers either.

Ron DeSantis cuts the checks; who is paying the bill?

Not so deadly DeSantis — law and order Governor has signed fewer death warrants than predecessors” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — It’s been more than three years since Florida has executed someone on death row. That’s the longest period between executions the state has seen in 39 years. That span has come under one of the most conservative Governors in the country, DeSantis, who has burnished his law-and-order bona fides at nearly every opportunity. He has pushed for bonuses and raises for law enforcement, declared he’ll “back the blue” and bashed progressive groups that advocated for “defunding the police” amid the 2020 protests of the murder of George Floyd. DeSantis’ predecessors, both Republican and Democratic, weren’t hesitant about signing death warrants.

Nikki Fried to DeSantis: Schedule more clemency board meetings” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — Fried is asking DeSantis to convene two more meetings of the state clemency board before the end of the year. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, meetings of the Florida Board of Executive Clemency were held four times a year. But since then, the panel has met less often. It last met in March and isn’t set to meet again until Dec. 14. “There are Florida citizens who have paid their debt to society and waited years for the chance to have their rights restored,” Fried wrote.

Board of Governors votes to hire Ray Rodrigues as Chancellor” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The Florida Board of Governors (BOG) voted unanimously to begin negotiations with Sen. Rodrigues to be the next Chancellor of Florida’s State University System. The hiring decision came at the same meeting where governors honored outgoing Chancellor Marshall Criser. Rodrigues, an Estero Republican serving in the Legislature for the last 10 years, expressed gratitude and praised Florida’s higher education system as the best in the country. “Florida has avoided the mistakes other states have made, either in neglect in their budget for higher education, or they offered the wrong incentives and were focused on enrollment instead of the success of the students.”

‘We cut them off’: Christina Pushaw shares her strategy for defeating ‘legacy media activists’” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Pushaw has some advice for conservatives frustrated with “bad faith” coverage from mainstream media: Recognize them for what they are, call them out, sever contact, and help to replace them. Ignoring their behavior does no good, she said. Neither does cooperating. Without counteraction, “legacy media” like the Palm Beach Post and Tampa Bay Times — among others, she said, that have become “the communication shop of the Democratic Party” — will maintain control of “the narrative.” For 17 months, Pushaw has put that ethos to powerful use, bashing reporters and blacklisting outlets she deems dishonest or derisive of Republicans.

Christina Pushaw has fostered antagonism with the legacy media.

Happening today — The State Board of Education meets to discuss a grand jury probe of school-safety issues after the Parkland Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting: 10 a.m. Call-in: 1-800-496-4034. Code: 797680.

Education officials scrutinize field trips, LGBTQ+ policies that protect transgender students” via Danielle J. Brown of Florida Phoenix — School districts will have to notify parents if students rooming together during overnight field trips will be separated according to the sex assigned to them at birth under a new state rule, raising alarm bells for LGBTQ+ advocates worried about transgender students. At issue are concerns about district access to a student’s private information regarding gender identities and even personal medical history. How do school districts know whether they have a transgender student? More so, does the rule infringe on the privacy of Florida’s public-school students, most of whom are minors?

CEO Bob Chapek says Disney held firm over ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law” via Katie Rice of the Orlando Sentinel — Walt Disney CEO Chapek defended the response to the “don’t say gay” controversy, saying company leaders “stood our ground” during an “ultimate barrage of attacks from certain political constituencies” and earned the respect of employees. He spoke to The Hollywood Reporter and the Los Angeles Times about the controversial Florida law during the D23 expo, an annual fan event this past weekend in California. The same weekend, DeSantis kept the pressure on by dismissing “woke corporations” during an address at the National Conservatism Conference near Miami.

Saving sea turtles aim of new ‘Better Call Trawl’ Challenge” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — Dredging is necessary to keep ports open and renourish beaches, but these actions are dangerous for endangered sea turtles that have nested on our beaches for generations. With an eye toward coexistence, HeroX, a crowdsourcing solutions platform, and the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) are teaming up to figure out how to do the job better. It’s called the “Better Call Trawl” Challenge, putting out the call to the public to figure out how effective current relocation trawling methods are at protecting sea turtles from dredging operations.

— D.C. MATTERS —

White House weighs emergency decree to keep vital goods on rails if there’s a strike” via Jenny Leonard and Jordan Fabian of Bloomberg — The White House is considering the use of emergency powers to ensure critical materials, such as chlorine for wastewater treatment plants, can be delivered in the event of a freight-rail worker strike in order to avoid devastating disruptions to services. White House aides and Cabinet officials spent Tuesday reviewing contingency plans for a work stoppage, including outreach to shippers, truckers and air-freight lines to keep goods moving.

Can Joe Biden keep the trains running on time?

—“Amtrak canceling all long-distance trains starting tomorrow” via Zach Schonfeld of The Hill

Scott repeats unfounded claim of 2018 voter fraud” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Scott is again complaining he was the victim of voter fraud without offering a shred of proof. In a 30-minute rant touching on a range of issues at the National Conservatism Convention (NatCon), Scott repeated his allegation that election officials in Florida “illegally counted 95,000 ballots after election night” in 2018 to keep U.S. Bill Nelson in office. “Democrats know they can’t win with their crazy, wacky ideas, so they want to set up a way that they can steal elections, and we’ve had to fight every day to make sure that doesn’t happen,” he said.

Scott still won’t commit to supporting Mitch McConnell as Senate GOP leader” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Scott has not endorsed McConnell. He insists that while he has a “good working relationship” with McConnell, it’s simply too early to commit to supporting his return to the top spot in the GOP caucus should Republicans take back the Senate. “He’ll decide if he’s going to continue to run. I assume he will,” Scott said on Fox News’ America Reports. “I’m focused on the November Senate races,” Scott added. “We have a lot of elections coming up. We have a presidential race coming up. We have a lot of other elections. I’ll focus on those when I get to them.”

Rubio, Scott join bipartisan letter pushing USDA not to ‘weaken U.S. sugar policy’” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — U.S. Sens. Rubio and Scott are part of a bipartisan group of 12 Senators asking Biden’s administration not to push policies that could “weaken” America’s sugar farming industry. The letter, led by U.S. Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota, is asking the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) not to adopt policies that could allow more sugar to be imported into the United States, thereby diluting the U.S. sugar market. The bipartisan group pointed to the sugar industry’s efforts in keeping the nation supplied during the COVID-19 pandemic, along with the industry’s overall economic benefits, in arguing against a potential shift in policy.

Clearance for classified information could become more common among Senate staffers” via Katherine Tully-McManus and Andrew Desiderio of POLITICO — Many more Senate staffers will be able to access classified information, under a change to the Senate’s Security Manual that allows every personal office to have one staffer with Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information (TS/SCI) clearance. The change was announced in an email to Senate chiefs of staff, confirmed by four people who received the email Tuesday. The move is aimed at solving a long-standing issue where members of Congress who serve on key committees that oversee national security issues do not have staff with high enough clearance to support members in their oversight responsibilities.

— EPILOGUE TRUMP —

Did the FBI’s Mar-a-Lago raid change support for Donald Trump? What a new poll found” via Brendan Rascius of the Miami Herald — The FBI raid on Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Florida residence, appears to have not impacted his future election chances with voters. If the 2024 election were held today, 45% of survey respondents said they would vote for Trump; 42% would choose Biden, and 13% said they are unsure. Additionally, when asked if the Republican Presidential Primary were held today, 33% said they would vote for Trump. Meanwhile, 10% said they’d pick DeSantis, widely seen as a rising star within the party. Rounding out some other notable names, 9% of respondents would choose former Vice President Mike Pence.

Did the Mar-a-Lago ‘raid’ give Donald Trump a boost?

Trump and the judicial cannon” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, one of 14 judicial nominees whom the Senate confirmed after Trump’s 2020 defeat but before Biden took office, astounded legal experts with a broad-brush order requiring a special master to review the government documents recovered by the FBI in its search of Mar-a-Lago last month and halting, for now, the agency’s investigation. Cannon was clearly swayed by the odd suggestion that a former head of the executive branch can assert an executive privilege against that same branch of government, even if the present head of the government refuses.

John H. Durham inquiry appears to wind down as grand jury expires” via Katie Benner, Adam Goldman and Charlie Savage of The New York Times — When Durham was assigned by the Justice Department in 2019 to examine the origins of the investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, Trump and his supporters expressed a belief that the inquiry would prove that a “deep state” conspiracy including top Obama-era officials had worked to sabotage him. Now Durham appears to be winding down his three-year inquiry without anything close to the results Trump was seeking. The grand jury that Durham has recently used to hear evidence has expired, and while he could convene another, there are currently no plans to do so.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

Broward Sheriff Greg Tony lied and ‘misused his public position,’ state board finds” via Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The Florida Commission on Ethics said Wednesday it has found probable cause to believe Tony “misused his public position” when he lied to get his first job at the Coral Springs Police Department, among other issues. The end result could be a recommendation that DeSantis remove him. The closed-door meeting was held Friday and details were only announced Wednesday. Tony maintains his innocence in the matter.

An ethics committee says Gregory Tony is a liar.

Miami-Dade superintendent says he’s pained by decision to reject Nilo Cruz’s play. So, reverse it” via Fabiola Santiago of the Miami Herald — Breaking his silence on Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ decision to reject a Pulitzer Prize-honored play by a celebrated Cuban American playwright, Superintendent José L. Dotres said Cruz isn’t being censored for being gay. “We never made a decision based on him as an individual,” Dotres told me in a late Tuesday night conversation. “We made the decision based on content and inappropriateness.” The superintendent also denied that the rejection, communicated in writing to the theater company the same day the School Board denied observing LGBTQ Heritage Month, was related to anti-gay bias.

‘I would never do anything to hurt a child’: R House responds to drag show complaint” via Ana Ceballos of the Miami Herald — The restaurant, the performer and the person who took a video at the center of a legal fight with DeSantis’ administration over the presence of children at a drag show brunch in Miami are rebutting the state’s legal complaint claiming lewd and inappropriate conduct. The performer, who was shown on video leading a young girl during a brunch performance in April, said a parent asked her to take the girl’s hand and walk with her because it was her birthday. The performer accepted, walked with the child “briefly” and then returned her to her parents. “I would never do anything to hurt a child,” the performer, whose stage name is Poison Ivy, said.

Miami Springs Councilwoman Jacky Bravo endorses Kevin Marino Cabrera for Miami-Dade Commission” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Bravo wants to see government relations specialist Cabrera on the Miami-Dade County Commission. Cabrera’s campaign announced Bravo is backing him to be the next Commissioner representing District 6 from the county dais. “Since the beginning of his campaign, Kevin Cabrera has shown vital qualities I look for in a local leader,” Bravo said in a statement. Cabrera said Wednesday he’s grateful for Bravo’s “vote of confidence.”

Jacky Bravo goes all-in for Kevin Marino Cabrera.

Former Florida GOP congressional nominee using illegal drugs again, ex-wife says” via Fresh Take Florida — The felon who lost a congressional Special Election earlier this year as the Republican nominee in South Florida has relapsed into using illegal drugs, and his behavior is threatening the safety of his two young sons, his ex-wife said in a new court pleading. Jason Mariner, an advertising executive and self-described “America First” conservative candidate, voluntarily spent seven days in a drug abuse rehabilitation center last month until he checked himself out Aug. 19, Charlene Mariner said in court documents.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

Seminole set to approve nearly billion dollar budget for next fiscal year” via Martin E. Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — Faced with increasing costs for public safety, keeping roads in good shape and hiring new employees, Seminole Commissioners on Tuesday gave preliminary approval to a larger budget for next fiscal year and opted to keep property taxes at the same rate for the 13th consecutive year. Commissioners are scheduled to give their final votes on the new spending plan at a public meeting on Sept. 27 before it takes effect Oct. 1. At about $992.5 million, Seminole’s proposed overall budget is about 13% larger than the one for the current fiscal year. “The additional revenue is used to fund increases in public safety, road maintenance and new positions,” said Lorie Bailey Brown, Seminole’s chief financial officer and resource management director.

SPLC sues Pasco Sheriff for public records on predictive policing program” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — A coalition of civil rights organizations is suing the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office for its refusal to provide public records relating to its controversial predictive policing program. The lawsuit argues that the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office’s refusal to supply demographic information about its predictive policing program is a violation of the Florida Public Records Act. “Our client, CAIR-Florida, has tried unsuccessfully for more than a year to work with the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office to obtain demographic information linked to the predictive policing program,” SPLC senior staff attorney Sam Boyd said.

Chris Nocco’s office is being sued for ‘predictive’ policing.

Teacher’s aide leaves job as strife over Pasco’s LGBTQ policies continues” via Jeffrey S. Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — Valeria Saldivar couldn’t wait to become a kindergarten teacher’s aide when the school year started last month at Trinity Elementary in Pasco County. “I had heard so many great things about Trinity from people that work there and people in the community,” said Saldivar, who wants a career helping children. As parents often do when they learn someone new will be interacting with their children, some of them looked up Saldivar on social media. They found public-facing pages showing Saldivar identified as nonbinary queer, used “they” and “them” pronouns, and supported movements such as Black Lives Matter. Disapproving chatter quickly spread in private message groups, fueled by Pasco members of the conservative group Moms for Liberty. Prompted by the principal’s concerns for Saldivar’s safety, Saldivar left and didn’t come back.

Tenant groups file last-minute brief in support of Orange rent control ordinance” via Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — Two nonprofit groups representing working-class, rent-burdened tenants in Orange County filed a last-minute brief late Wednesday, hoping to persuade a judge to let voters decide whether to adopt a proposed ordinance limiting rent increases for a year. Lawyers for Florida Rising and Central Florida Jobs with Justice blamed “profiteering” landlords for the county’s housing emergency that has forced many families to choose between paying rent or buying groceries. The filing cited rising evictions and unsworn testimony of residents who lobbied Orange County Commissioners to cap rent. Circuit Judge Jeff Ashton likely will issue a ruling Thursday on a request filed by the Florida Apartment Association and Florida Realtors to pull the proposed ordinance off the Nov. 8 ballot or block its enforcement if approved.

Rebecca Fierle trial: Orlando guardian’s client wanted to live, medical staff testify” via Monivette Cordeiro of the Orlando Sentinel — Medical staff who saw Steven Stryker in the months before he died testified Wednesday that he had cognitive problems with memory and judgment but said the elderly man was clear on his desire to continue treatment. Prosecutors say that went contrary to the desires of his court-appointed caretaker, former Orlando guardian Fierle. Kirtikumar Pandya, a psychiatrist, told jurors during Fierle’s trial at the Hillsborough County Courthouse that he examined Stryker while the 75-year-old was at Tampa’s St. Joseph’s Hospital. “Did you indicate … that he was able to determine that he wanted to live?” Assistant Statewide Prosecutor Cass Castillo asked.

Melbourne leaders dedicate $32 million police headquarters to force’s lone fallen officer” via Rick Neale of Florida Today — Two hours before sunrise on Oct. 17, 1986, Melbourne police officer Joseph Pellicano was directing traffic near a Sarno Road house fire when he was fatally struck by a Ford pickup. He was only 29 years old. To this day, Pellicano is still the only member of the Melbourne Police Department to die in the line of duty. His legacy will be memorialized. Wednesday morning, city officials conducted a groundbreaking ceremony for the $32 million Joseph Pellicano Law Enforcement Center. Crews are scheduled to finish the two-story, 76,390-square-foot structure by summer 2024, Assistant City Manager Jenni Lamb said. The Category 5 hurricane-hardened building on 14 acres will also house Melbourne’s emergency operations center and 911 dispatch center.

Tropicana Field developer hopefuls seek details on new bid request” via Colleen Wright of the Tampa Bay Times — Developers interested in winning the bid to redevelop the 86 acres surrounding Tropicana Field, recently renamed as the Historic Gas Plant District, attended a city meeting Wednesday seeking answers. Many of the city’s responses to developers were open-ended, leaving them to come up with the proposals that best follow 23 guidelines shaped by community feedback and set forth by Mayor Ken Welch. The pre-proposal meeting, held at USF St. Petersburg, aimed to fill in the blanks of the new proposal request issued last month. In June, Welch canceled the original bid request issued by his predecessor Rick Kriseman in 2020, calling for a new round of proposals that account for the economic fallout of the pandemic and an ongoing affordable housing crisis.

Ken Welch cleared the field for developing the Tropicana site.

COVID-19 shot skeptics to host event at Tampa Convention Center” via Sam Ogozalek of the Tampa Bay Times — Free medical, dental and vision care will be offered to an estimated 3,000 people at the Tampa Convention Center this week, according to the religious nonprofit Liberty and Health Alliance. After that, several controversial speakers will be featured, including lawyer Mathew Staver, a founder of the anti-LGBTQ hate group Liberty Counsel. Peter McCullough, a Texas cardiologist who is well known for spreading COVID-19 misinformation, will also speak at the event, which is called “Upside Down to Right Side Up.” The Arizona-based nonprofit was granted tax-exempt status in early April, according to the IRS. The group opposes COVID-19 vaccine mandates and questions the shots’ safety. The vaccines are safe and offer strong protection against hospitalization and death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

— LOCAL: SW. FL —

Sarasota County reduces funding allocation for human services” via Barb Richardson of the Port Charlotte Sun — Maintaining its commitment to fund a mental health special district, Sarasota County Commissioners reduced the funding available for other contracted human services during a meeting Tuesday. Since 2008, Commissioners have provided an annual total allocation of 0.1661 mills for contracted human services with added transfers from the general fund as needed to maintain levels of service or to provide funding for new programs approved by Commissioners. On Tuesday, Commissioners decided to take 0.1 mills from that allocation and dedicate it to mental health and substance abuse. That leaves 0.0661 mills to fund the rest of human service’s needs. That 0.1 millage rate will generate $7.5 million for the mental health special district and almost $5 million from the remaining 0.0661 mills.

Pulling back: Amazon drops plans for massive warehouse and distribution center in Fort Myers” via Laura Layden of the Fort Myers News-Press — Amazon has backed out of “Project Rainforest” in Fort Myers. It’s yet another casualty of the e-retail giant’s decision to pull back on its U.S. expansion plans, in the wake of unexpected losses. The company planned to build a nearly 1.5 million square foot warehouse and distribution center off State Road 82 on the city’s east side, near The Forum and close to Interstate 75. Amazon’s partner Seefried Industrial Properties, however, recently notified the city the contract for the land had been terminated and it “does not intend to purchase the property or proceed with any development thereon.” … “It was very disappointing,” said Fort Myers Mayor Kevin Anderson. “To my knowledge, it was strictly that they decided to pull back on expansion plans.”

— LOCAL: N. FL —

Nassau County Commissioners give initial approval to $425M budget, 3% millage reduction” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — Nassau County Commissioners got a look at next year’s budget this week, which staff completed to be in line with a 3% millage reduction. The reduction, announced in July, is the first time in years there have been consecutive countywide property tax decreases in Nassau County. “I just want to thank my colleagues — we went probably 12 or 13 years without a millage rate decrease, and this is the second year in a row we’ve had one, so thank you so much,” Commissioner Aaron Bell said at the time. “This is fantastic.”

Outrage over progressive rezoning plan leads to critic’s arrest in felony political intimidation case” via Fresh Take Florida — A contractor and director at a real estate firm emailed Gainesville City Commissioners and said he hoped they would be assaulted over a controversial plan to allow construction of multifamily housing in residential neighborhoods, police said. Police arrested Terry Lyle Martin-Back at his home outside the city limits on a felony intimidation complaint of sending a written threat to City Commissioners. The city’s progressive Mayor, Lauren Poe, tweeted Tuesday about Martin-Back’s arrest, saying “how we communicate matters” and blamed far-right conservatives for injecting violent language into public policy debates.

Lauren Poe feels the political discourse is getting out of hand.

Second Pensacola man found guilty for actions during Jan. 6 Capitol breach” via Benjamin Johnson of the Pensacola News Journal — U.S. District Judge Trevor McFadden found 26-year-old Tristan Stevens of Pensacola guilty on nine charges Tuesday for his acts during last year’s Capitol breach, including five felonies. Stevens broke through the police line after 2:30 p.m. Jan. 6, 2021, and scaled the southwest scaffolding and staircase to converge together at the tunnel created by the inaugural platform structure on the Lower West Terrace of the Capitol Building, according to a District of Columbia Department of Justice news release. Another Pensacola man, 38-year-old Jesus Rivera, was found guilty of several Jan. 6-related charges on June 17. According to court records, Rivera’s sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 3. Stevens’ sentencing date has not been decided.

Florida blimp magnate pleads guilty to stealing nearly $8M in U.S. pandemic aid” via Fresh Take Florida — An international blimp magnate in north-central Florida will be sentenced in January in federal court after he pleaded guilty to defrauding the federal government of nearly $8 million in relief aid meant to help average Americans during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Executive Patrick Walsh pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of money laundering at the federal courthouse in Gainesville two weeks ago. The judge allowed him to remain free until he is sentenced at the end of January. Among other expenses, Walsh used some of the money to buy a private two-acre island in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Yankeetown, Florida, prosecutors said.

Ticketed for speeding 116 mph, UF student tells trooper he didn’t want to be late for class” via Fresh Take Florida — Ticketed for speeding 116 mph on a crowded stretch of Interstate 75 in this college town, a University of Florida student told the trooper the reason for his fast driving: He didn’t want to be late for class on the first day of the fall semester. Just his luck, he said he found out later that morning his professor had canceled his physics lecture that day. Joseph D’Andre Melhado of Pembroke Pines in South Florida was ticketed with speeding and reckless driving after a Florida Highway Patrol trooper said he saw his BMW sedan weaving among three lanes of crowded, late-morning traffic on I-75 at triple-digit speeds.

‘A group of future leaders’: FAMU football players are feeling heard by school administration” via Gerald Thomas III — To advocate change, sometimes all it takes is for someone to make a stand. Florida A&M football players recently made such a stand, when they stood in solidarity by writing and signing a five-page public letter to University President Dr. Larry Robinson late last month. The letter disclosed various issues such as financial aid, academic advisement, and family tickets. FAMU coach Willie Simmons said he embraces the player’s advocacy. “This is a group of future leaders — not just in football, but in their respective communities,” Simmons told the Democrat. Players told the Democrat the financial-aid process has been accelerated and as reported earlier, family and friends’ tickets have been restored to four each after being reduced to two per player.

— TOP OPINION —

Democrats finally have the upper hand in the culture wars” via Molly Jong-Fast of The Atlantic — After a messy summer of doctors reportedly postponing or refusing to provide medically necessary abortion care, Republicans face an unfamiliar setback: For the first time since Trump busted onto the scene like a racist Kool-Aid Man, it looks like Democrats might have the upper hand in the culture wars. This jarring shift hasn’t gone unnoticed.

The Dobbs decision’s assault on bodily autonomy is a much bigger deal to voters than the pundit class will admit.

But this tidal shift isn’t just about abortion. There’s something else happening here, something more subtle. I suspect that the GOP has put too many eggs into its culture-wars basket, and it’s turned off non-MAGA conservative voters.

As a case in point, the Florida Governor and noted culture warrior DeSantis has been pushing assorted culture-war bills in the hopes of positioning himself as the heir to MAGA. Most notable of these is the new “Don’t Say Gay” law, which did a better job of painting Florida Republicans as extremely anti-LGBTQ than as child protectors.

As with all pointless culture-war bills, the early effects of “Don’t Say Gay” have not been great. With the new school year underway, Time reported that “LGBTQ educators in Florida describe widespread confusion over how much they need to hide their own identities.”

Sure, “Don’t Say Gay” may have helped DeSantis with the GOP base, which he’s courting for a possible 2024 nomination. But did it help with swing voters? Probably not.

— OPINIONS —

Don’t let DeSantis’ election police intimidate you into not voting” via Charlie Crist for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — It should be clearer than ever to Floridians that the future of democracy is on the November ballot. If there remains any doubt, look at DeSantis’ sham election fraud charges against 20 Floridians. It’s become obvious they did not intend to vote illegally in 2020 and that the DeSantis administration actually let them cast ballots. This is an unconscionable abuse of power. It should send chills through every Floridian about how far DeSantis will go to scare them away from voting. Through threats, intimidation and unnecessary voting restrictions, he is making it harder than ever to vote and trying to make Floridians who oppose him afraid to cast ballots. This is what dictators do to rig their fake elections. It is un-American, and we can’t let that happen in Florida.

Biden’s ‘beyond tone-deaf’ inflation party” via Byron York of the Washington Examiner — Tuesday was a really bad day for the economy. The Commerce Department reported that prices remain persistently high, and what is known as the “core inflation” rate actually rose in August. It was a particularly bad day for Americans who need to eat in order to live. As all this was happening, Biden was throwing a party at the White House. A big outdoor bash with hundreds of guests and happiness all ’round. The purpose was to celebrate the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, the climate and health care spending bill. It will not reduce inflation, but Democrats decided to call it the Inflation Reduction Act to give the impression that they are acting on the public’s No. 1 concern.

Ukraine’s achievement is Biden’s, too” via Brett Stevens of The New York Times — We’ve become not just the arsenal of Ukrainian democracy but also its eyes and ears. What Ukraine initially lacked in overwhelming firepower; the United States made up for in precision. As the war enters a new phase, it will inevitably bring new dangers. No danger is graver than failing to prevail. Full credit to Biden for getting, and acting on, the point.

Lindsey Graham’s 15-week abortion ban gives the endgame away” via Ruth Marcus of The Washington Post — So much for all that talk about the freedom of states to decide on their own abortion rules. Sen. Graham’s proposal puts the lie to the notion that the Supreme Court, in overruling Roe v. Wade, merely returned the contentious issue of abortion to state control. It did that, but it also opened the door to proposals such as Graham’s to be imposed nationwide. Anyone who thinks abortion opponents will be content with a state-by-state patchwork of abortion rules isn’t taking the determination of the anti-abortion movement seriously enough. Graham’s move might be politically boneheaded, coming less than two months before a Midterm Election in which voters already appear angered and energized by the court’s action. But it is just the opening salvo.

Come clean, Miami-Dade Commissioners. Who snuck that huge raise into the budget?” via the Miami Herald editorial board — For a group of people whose careers as elected officials live and die by touting the bacon they bring home to their constituents, the members of the Miami-Dade County Commission have been awfully quiet about who snuck a 130% raise for Commissioners into the proposed budget. Look, there’s no shame in asking for a raise. Employees across South Florida, and far beyond, want and need to earn more, too. No, the only shame here is that somebody, or somebodies, didn’t want us to know that Commissioners stood ready to more than double their compensation. Notice, we are not saying that Commissioners should not earn more. There is a valid case to be made. These public servants, if they’re doing the job right, are putting in more-than-full-time hours.

Dear correctional officers: To fight for real reform, walk out” via Chris Salamone for the Orlando Sentinel — We see you. Droopy eyes and slumping shoulders — the unrelenting overtime, abysmal working conditions, and the constant strain of a morally dubious profession — you are justifiably exhausted. Adding insult to injury, the Legislature decided to call in the National Guard rather than pass real reform to resolve the staffing crisis in our state’s prisons. The solution is simple. Stop coming to work. Stop staying for overtime. Use every available day for sick leave and vacation. Yes, that would be brutal for inmates and other staff members in the short run. But, refusing to work has two enormous benefits which can be realized right away: You will be able to better negotiate your working conditions and you might be able to positively influence the Legislature to adopt real reform.

— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —

— ALOE —

Disney to end Animal Kingdom’s KiteTails this month” via Ashley Carter of Bay News 9 — The end is near for Disney KiteTails, the live daytime show with character-shaped kites at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The show will have its last performances on Sept. 30. “Enjoy Disney KiteTails until its last offering on September 30, 2022,” read the notice on the website. The show debuted in October at the start of Disney World’s 50th-anniversary celebration. Performed on the Discovery River Lagoon, KiteTails feature large balloon-like kites that depict characters from “The Lion King” and “The Jungle Book.” The kites are pulled around the amphitheater by Jet Skis.

Disney KiteTails is nearing its end.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Happy birthday to Rep. Mike Caruso, Brewster Bevis of Associated Industries of Florida, Chris Heath, Chris Hudson, Catherine Crist KennedyScott Kosanovich, Tallahassee City Commissioner Jack Porter, and Chris Wilkerson.

___

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 FloridaPolitics.com, 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.


One comment

  • Lynda

    September 16, 2022 at 1:44 pm

    I will vote for Charlie Crist and Karla Hernandez over any MAGA-Republican.

    I too, have been a teacher for children with special needs. No one, not their close relatives nor their mainstream teachers can deny that communication can be difficult with students who do not speak, who can be violent when angry and who need special care to function independently in a broader society which is often their goal when possible. Other students will need care for their entire lives.

    Ms Hernandez obviously did not mean to insult special needs children when comparing them to FL’s dysfunctional state legislature. Her reputation as an exceptional teacher for exceptional students is one reason she was selected to run for Lt. Governor by former Gov. Crist.

    Our state legislature acts as a rubber stamp for the MAGA-Republican governor deSantis; it does what it is told to do without thinking independently. Often when angry, the members of the state legislature follow their national colleagues with statements that are not welcome in civil society and not true. As a result of severe gerrymandering (despite Fair Districts Amendment) the Republican state legislators are often isolated and do not listen to the majority of their voters.

    This kerfuffle is a distraction to the major issues of the campaign for governor.
    1) Who will support the majority of women who do not want a state legislator and his government to decide their choices for reproductive health?
    2) Who will support Social Security and Medicare, two programs current beneficiaries have paid into for their working lives?
    3)Who will structure state budgets to help all Floridians and not just the wealthy?
    4)Who will allow educational professionals and parents to work together to educate all of Florida’s children for the future, not the past?

    MAGA-Republican’s have control of the Republican party; it is no longer the party of small government: MAGA-Republicans will invade every bedroom in the USA to control abortion, birth control and marriage. This is not freedom. This is fascism, authoritarianism, dictatorships, and Putin-like control over the USA.

    Vote for the candidates of the Democratic Party

    Reply

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