Winner and Loser of the Week in Florida politics — Week of 9.11.22

The people of Martha's Vineyard rise to meet the challenge from Ron DeSantis.

The Midterm Elections, less than two months away, could be the most consequential ones in years, maybe decades.

They are always significant, of course, but this time the outcome could either persuade Republicans to make a course correction or send them further to the lunatic fringe of their party.

It’s a coin flip now, but polls show a discernable tilt by independent voters away from culture wars that target everyone outside the GOP base.

The latest stunt by Gov. Ron DeSantis could have been the last straw. Sending two planeloads of undocumented migrants to Martha’s Vineyard made his political point in an oafish way.

Not everyone agrees, however, that sending human beings to a faraway state that wasn’t expecting them was a civil thing.

That led POLITICO writer Jack Shafer to pen a savage column that asked an important question.

“Daring to exploit exhausted and traumatized immigrants — children among them — as human pawns in a political game would terrify a normal politician. No matter your views on immigration policy, imagine being treated as political refuse that’s dumped to own the libs. Pulling a stunt like this required the heart of a reptile and the ambition of a Genghis Khan, although the comparison might be unfair to skinks and geckos, which feed primarily on insects, fruit, and the occasional mouse,” he wrote.

“That DeSantis performed his cruelty on migrants not even residing in his state tells you all you need to gauge his status as a scoundrel. It’s hard to decide which horrifies most, that DeSantis, Yale undergraduate, Harvard law, U.S. Navy, would squat this low or that he thought it would charm his followers.”


I’m sure he did believe his followers — many of them evangelical Christians — would not only approve but would also stand and applaud. Holy scripture tells believers that what they do to the least of people, they also do to Jesus.

Maybe they need a refresher course on that.

But Florida is more than just the GOP base. Many people reside in the middle, taking a little from both major parties. And if they turn on DeSantis after this, it could flip the election.

If they don’t, though, it will green light Republicans to push the envelope farther.

Now, it’s on to our weekly game of winners and losers.


Honorable mention: Ray Rodrigues. Say hello to the new Chancellor of Florida’s university system.

He received unanimous approval from the Board of Governors to succeed Marshall Criser. Rodrigues, a Republican state Senator from Estero, will oversee the state’s system of 12 universities.

“Our Board is fortunate to have Ray become our next chancellor, bringing his passion about higher education in Florida to build upon the exceptional foundation Marshall Criser has established and to lead the System to the next level,” Board Chair Brian Lamb said.

“Ray is an experienced and dedicated leader in our state. The Board of Governors and State University System is excited to work with him in this new role.”

Rodrigues announced in June that he wouldn’t seek another term in the Senate. There was immediate speculation that he wanted the job as Chancellor.

“I firmly believe the success of our students is the heartbeat of Florida’s higher education system, and I applaud the excellent work Marshall and the Board of Governors has done over the years to get us here,” he said.

“I look forward to the challenge of leading this team to even greater heights of success.”

Almost (but not quite) biggest winner: Florida’s first responders. DeSantis made it rain for some of Florida’s finest, handing out $1,000 bonus checks at an event in Jacksonville.

About 100,000 people — including law enforcement, fire rescue and emergency medical technicians — will receive the money.

Hey, wait a minute, where did the Governor find that kind of money?

Why it came from Florida’s share of the COVID-19 relief package championed by President Joe Biden, DeSantis repeatedly blamed the more than $1 trillion package for increasing inflation and has called it “Washington at its worst.”

In passing out the bonus checks, DeSantis doesn’t mention the money came from the feds.

The good news is that none of the recipients would care anyway.

The biggest winner: Martha’s Vineyard. Sure, DeSantis trolled residents of the affluent island when he sent 50 undocumented migrant men, women and children there on two chartered planes.

However, the joke could be on him.

While some Republicans were having a knee-slapping good time at the stunt, officials and residents of nearby Cape Cod sprang into action. Rather than embrace DeSantis’ attitude that the migrants aren’t welcome in Florida, residents treated the visitors as human beings, not nuisances.

The Cape Cod Times reported, “Community members had come to help, as did students from an advanced placement Spanish class from the high school. The students came with their teacher, Justine DeOliviera, to help with translation.”

A local parish opened its doors to give the migrants a safe place to stay while the issue sorts itself out.

“On behalf of the Commonwealth, I thank everyone on the ground who quickly came together to provide assistance on the Vineyard,” Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said in a statement.

Baker said his staff is working with state and relief agencies to help the newcomers get settled.

“These people need immigration services, immigration attorneys, and resources,” Rep. Dylan Fernandes said. “These people were sent here on a lie. They were told people would meet them with jobs, housing, and resources. We got no heads up. Gov. (Greg) Abbott and Ron DeSantis wanted to create as much chaos as possible.”

It might have been chaotic at first, but it also was compassionate.


Dishonorable mention: Lee County Republicans. These folks need to cut down on the caffeine.

They passed a series of wackadoodle resolutions, including a demand that DeSantis use his executive power to ban the use of electronic voting machines.

They also want DeSantis to call a Special Session to ban any federal agent from operating in Florida. That’s a reaction to the FBI search at Mar-a-Lago, where Dear Leader had boxes of classified documents.

The ban would also include IRS agents.

Good luck with that one.

But wait, there’s more.

They wanted the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the World Health Organization (WHO) labeled as “terrorist organizations and a national security threat.”

The final language of that resolution eliminated the terrorist reference, but still passed.

C’mon, folks, how about a resolution to consider a time of yoga before your meetings? It lowers blood pressure.

Almost (but not quite) biggest loser: Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony. The Florida Commission on Ethics blasted Tony for lies and omissions on his official background forms.

DeSantis relied on those forms in 2019 when appointing Tony to Broward’s top cop job.

Last year, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported on Tony’s lies that fueled his rise to the job he now holds (for the moment).

“Tony landed his first job as a police officer in 2005 with the Coral Springs Police Department. He was 26,” the paper wrote.

“The city job application asked many questions seeking to discover if he’d been in any trouble with the law, even as a juvenile. Tony answered that he’d never been a suspect in a criminal investigation, never been arrested, never been charged. They were all lies.”

There were several documented examples. The most egregious one was that Tony didn’t disclose he shot a man to death when he was 14.

That led to the ethics hearing, where members found probable cause to pursue a case against Tony. It could lead to his removal.

If Tony had disclosed his past details, the Coral Springs Police Department would not have hired him.

One board member called Tony’s behavior “despicable.”

The biggest loser: Florida hate groups. The Anti-Defamation League published a report that should concern everyone.

It said, “The past two years have seen a significant increase in extremist-related incidents both nationwide and in the state of Florida.”

It also noted, “Florida is home to an extensive, interconnected network of White supremacists and other far-right extremists.”

In the last two years, the ADL Center on Extremism detailed more than 400 instances of White supremacist propaganda distribution in Florida.

In 2021, there were 190 reported antisemitic incidents, a 50% increase over 2020.

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.


  • Ocean Joe

    September 18, 2022 at 7:31 am

    “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” Maya Angelou.
    Toying with human lives doesn’t seem all that Christian.

    • Tom

      September 18, 2022 at 8:17 am

      You will know them Ocean by the hypocrisy. Amazing.

  • Tom

    September 18, 2022 at 8:00 am

    Where is the fake outrage related to the 750 deaths at the border this year.

    The 75 illegals dying crossing the river illegally. How bout the 50 plus dying, that were smuggled and packed in the trailer truck. And the hundreds in the dessert from heat. 750 later, whose responsible for that? POTUS, V POTUS.

    What about the residents who have had local communities in Arizona and Texas destroyed, there land destroyed. Safety has been violated.

    It’s ridiculous that the false outrage only comes when Florida and Texas Govs confront the VP residence and the elite mansion communities of the left. Typical leftist fake outrage.

    Loser: Hair gel Governor, Gavin Newsom, CA. Mental melt down with letter to Feds and later his request for a meaningless debate with America’s Governor. Newsom is afraid of DeSantis and has DeSantis on the brain.

    Biggest Loser: Charlie chameleon continues to prostitute self on one liberal cause after another.

    Winner always: America’s Governor demonstrates that he, unlike any one else can impact the liberal establishment with his direct action.

  • tom palmer

    September 18, 2022 at 9:31 am

    Lee County GOP vote was pretty odd, even by modern-day GOP standards

  • Hope

    September 18, 2022 at 9:55 am

    If you have a soul and it is in check then you have to wonder why Biden and Kamala are so derelict in their duty of protecting the Border.
    Among all the other things they have managed to put into chaos such as inflation, National Security, supply chain interruptions, baby formula shortage, the missteps withdrawing from Afghanistan causing the deaths of 12 of our service people, the war in Ukraine, Hunter Biden’s treason, the January 6th kangaroo court, election fraud, and it goes on and on.

    One governor in a matter of two chartered jets showed the world his humanity… that it was in check; and for all the years of Democrats pretending to be their true colors exposed.

    The Democrats attempt at gas lighting the Best Governor in America over the Martha’s Vineyard Airlift only exposes the Democrats tone deafness and failure to lead. Checkmate for DeSantis!

    • Minnie and Mickey

      September 18, 2022 at 10:44 am

      Inflation supply chain interruptions are worldwide problems dating back to before the Biden administration, so it is illogical to suggest that Biden is the cause. Baby formula shortages are a direct result of supply chain issues and too much stock coming from one company whose factory went kaput. The withdrawal from Afgansitan did cost the lives of 12 service members that week, and two and a half thousand in the years before that week. If you have proof that Hunter Biden committed treason it is your duty as an American to provide that proof to the authorities — any authorities, you pick’m, federal, state, or local. The war in Ukraine was started by a dude named Putin, a good friend of your false god Trump but no friend of Biden’s. Election fraud — again, if you have the proof, hand it over to the authorities. You don’t, so you can’t. There is no January 6th kangaroo court, and if you are so sure the January 6th insurrection was an act of honor then send money to the defendants — no, wait, send money to Steve Bannon, he’ll take care of everything for you, just as he’s taken care of doing all your thinking for you. Open up that checkbook, sucker, that’s what you’re there for. Be sure to send your rent money to “the Best Governor” while you’re at it, he’ll take care of you too. Like your said, he took good Christian care of those Venezuelans who were escaping a socialist regime, right? Trust him. Send money.

      • Hope

        September 18, 2022 at 3:44 pm

        M & M,

        That was a Mickey Mouse answer if I ever heard one.

        Failure to take accountability, lame excuses, unable to list any accomplishments, deflection, blame the victims, and Trump Derangement Syndrome. So predictable…

        Biden has no strength in dealing with the economy and never has and that alone is his Achilles Heel and his demise. Democrats and Independents will vote against him or won’t show up at the polls to vote for him.

        All the spin in the world can’t turn the tide; the Red Wave will be the big correction and not a moment too soon.

      • Tom

        September 18, 2022 at 4:19 pm

        Total mental breakdown on false facts, false events and false merging of ideology.

        Baby formula only was caused by Biden OSHA’s insistence on closing the Michigan factory, they knew this would happen. Period.

        The supply chain woes were magnified by mayor Pete’s/Transport. Incompetence.

        Afghanistan is all on pOTUS, totally incompetent.

        The Stalin show trial speaks for self.
        You just wait when the knew House majority comes in.

        Joey corsin, it’s pathetic in how many ways and aliases you crawl to justify pathetic ideology.

        Feel free to justify Kamala Harris’s open lies last week about the non secured border. Just awful. 750 deaths this year of illegals crossings.

        DeSantis is the winner again.
        He unlike anyone disrupts liberal narratives.

        You corsin need to be banned! Pathetic.

  • Christopher

    September 18, 2022 at 11:04 am

    The people of Martha’s Vinyard showed their true colors. The state called on the National Guard in reaction to 50 immigrants. The people of Martha’s Vinyard had the immigrants removed within 48 hours. How is that the true winner of the week? What politically biased nonsense is that?

  • Tom

    September 18, 2022 at 11:22 am

    Proves the political intolerance from left.
    Busts your liberal bubble.

  • Donna Parker

    September 18, 2022 at 2:44 pm

    Maybe if this current administration had a plan to handle this massive invasion of illegal aliens, these tactics would not have to be put forth to prove a point. Instead, this administration denies there is a problem & keeps saying the border is closed, when they know it clearly isn’t. They provide no solution, but expect the few border states to absorb this huge invasion. Too bad so many of these people are dying on their way in by horrible situations & also causing the deaths of so many of our young citizens with the drugs that are coming over the border. This border needs to be controlled by this administration in an evenly distributed manner so every state contributes to help out. But they are so desperate to legalize these people to vote in their favor that they do not care about these aliens. The tactics of Governors Abbott & DeSantis are only an extension of what President Biden was already doing.

    • Tom

      September 18, 2022 at 10:10 pm

      The plan is to let them all in.
      That’s the plan. They have destroyed legal immigration. It’s the highest of crimes and misdemeanors.
      The VPOTUS too.

      DeSantis blew them up. Media has purposefully ignored it til Gov Ron did the flights. VPOTUS house, per her lies bout the border.

  • Stephanie Kienzle

    September 18, 2022 at 10:24 pm

    While you were applauding Martha’s Vineyard residents for welcoming the migrants with open arms and treating “the visitors as human beings, not nuisances,” you neglected to mention that the very next day, the 50 migrants were escorted off the island, or deported if you will, by 125 National Guardsman.

    You also neglected to mention that the residents said they didn’t have anywhere to house the migrants, yet there are literally hundreds of guest rooms available.

    I get that you hate DeSantis, but you’re not doing yourselves any favors by spinning the truth. And you wonder why no one trusts the media?

Comments are closed.


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