Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 9.20.22

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Good Tuesday morning.

Lobbying firm Ballard Partners has launched a new podcast co-hosted by firm partners Adam Goodman and Justin Sayfie.

The podcast name, “13th and Park,” refers to the two street names where Ballard Partners has offices in Washington and Tallahassee.

The first four episodes of the podcast were recorded at the newly opened Ballard Partners Studios in Washington and are now available for streaming on all major podcast platforms including Apple, Spotify and Amazon.

Justin Sayfie and Adam Goodman are entering the podcast world.

The first episode features Larry Sabato, a University of Virginia professor and renowned political prognosticator behind “Sabato’s Crystal Ball.” In his appearance, Sabato looks into his crystal ball and forecasts the results of the 2022 Midterm Elections.

The second episode features Marc Caputo, NBC Digital reporter, formerly of POLITICO. Caputo discusses a day in the life of an NBC Digital reporter and provides an unusually candid assessment of the current state of the news media in the U.S.

The third episode features John McLaughlin, a strategic consultant and GOP pollster for over 35 years. During the podcast, McLaughlin provides a behind-the-curtain look at the Republicans’ strategy for the 2022 Midterm Elections, and he also dishes some advice to GOP campaigns.

The fourth episode features Ballard partner Courtney Coppola. Coppola is the Co-Chair of the firm’s Cannabis Practice Group and a former cannabis regulator for the state of Florida. In her appearance, she provides a crash course on cannabis legislation at the federal level and opines on the future of the cannabis industry and licensing in the State of Florida.

“13th and Park listeners will feel like they are eavesdropping on a private conversation between the savviest minds in the country,” said Brian Ballard, the firm’s president and founder. “Adam and Justin are the perfect co-hosts for the podcast’s insightful conversations on a broad range of topics including politics, government, economics, technology and culture.”


Sen. Annette Taddeo has made the first major ad buy in her campaign for Florida’s 27th Congressional District.

The announcement of a six-figure buy came alongside a new 30-second ad that attacks incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar for “failing to defend our freedoms and liberties” in Congress.

“My family came to this country seeking freedom. Freedom from government control. Freedom from violence. This election will determine if we remain a beacon of freedom, or we become a socialist dictatorship. MAGA Republican María Salazar supports government control over women’s health care decisions even in cases of rape or incest,” Taddeo says in the ad, closing with “freedom is worth fighting for.”

Taddeo’s ad buy makes her the first candidate to hit the airwaves in the General Election for CD 27, which is expected to be one of the closest congressional contests not only in Florida but nationwide, according to multiple election prognosticators.

“Our ad highlights the biggest difference between myself and Maria Elvira, only one of us believes in actually defending freedom. I came to this country fleeing a Marxist terrorist group in Colombia funded by the Cuban regime, and I know firsthand how important it is that we fight for our freedom,” Taddeo said in a news release announcing the ad buy.

“Freedom from government control over women’s bodies, freedom from violence. My MAGA Republican opponent María Elvira only pretends to care about freedom but has remained silent as those seeking freedom from Communist regimes have been shipped off and used as political pawns by Florida’s Governor.”

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


Here are some other thoughts:

⏱ — You might as well get a good night’s sleep on Election Day because there’s a good chance we won’t know which party will control the U.S. Senate until Wednesday — or even longer. As POLITICO’s Zach Montellaro writes, it took five days before enough votes were counted to call the 2020 Presidential Election for Joe Biden, and many of the states that were up in the air will have a U.S. Senate seat on the ballot in November.

🍽 — The New York Times’ 2022 edition of The Restaurant List is out, and two Florida establishments made the cut. You can check out both Sunshine State mentions without crisscrossing the state since they’re both in Coral Gables. Zitz Sum, run by Pablo Zitzmann, is known for its dumplings, and Mamey is known for chef Niven Patel’s “intelligent takes on unpretentious dishes.”


@BexarCoSheriff: The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office has opened an investigation into the migrants that were lured from the Migrant Resource Center, located in Bexar County, TX, and flown to Florida, where they were ultimately left to fend for themselves in Martha’s Vineyard, MA.

@GovRonDeSantis: Biden declared the pandemic is over. So, when will he let those discharged from the military due to vax mandates return to protecting our country?

@LtGovNunez: Adrian and I are praying for the people of Puerto Rico as they recover from the damaging impacts of Hurricane Fiona. Adrian y yo estamos orando por la gente de Puerto Rico mientras se recuperan de los impactos del huracán Fiona.

@AaronBlake: In October 2020, 54% of registered Republicans said they were more supporters of (Donald) Trump than supporters of the GOP. Today it’s 33% — a new low. 58% now say they are party-first.

Tweet, tweet:

@ChrisMZiegler: The biggest number in Florida politics that no one is talking about: 17,197 While Florida has added 1,037,685 net new voters since @RonDeSantisFL 2018 Victory, the Democrat Party (@FlaDems) only managed to convince 17,197 of them to register as a Democrat.

@AoDespair: How is Charlie Crist not at the pulpit of a Cuban American church in Miami every Sunday until Election Day asking congregants to vote for the man who does misuse refugees from communism as political props? The man who seems them as valued citizens of a shared American future?

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:


‘Andor’ premieres on Disney+ — 1; Biden to speak at a DNC rally in Orlando — 7; vote-by-mail mailing deadline for General Election — 12; 22-23 NHL season begins — 17; WPEC televised debate in Florida Governor’s race — 22; deadline to register for General Election — 24; ‘Before You Vote’ TV debates (Senate) — 28; Taylor Swift’s ‘Midnights’ release — 31; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 34; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 35; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 35; Early voting begins for General Election — 39; 2022 General Election — 49; ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ premieres — 52; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 52; FITCon 2022 begins — 58; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 58; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 62; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 62; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 71; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 71; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 77; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 87; final Broadway performance of ‘The Music Man’ with Hugh Jackman — 103; Bruce Springsteen launches his 2023 tour in Tampa — 134; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 150; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 168; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 185; American Association of Political Consultants Pollies’ 23 conference begins — 210; 2023 Session Sine Die — 227; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 227; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 255; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 304; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 409; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 423; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 556; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 675; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 675; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 780; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 958.


Florida second only to Texas in banning schoolbooks as number of bans rises, report finds” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — PEN America counted 566 Florida book bans spread over 21 of the state’s 67 school districts from July 2021 to June 2022. That compares to the 801 bans in effect in 22 Texas school districts. Pennsylvania clocked in at third place with 457 bans in 11 school districts.

The report, issued Monday in recognition of Banned Books Week, raises the alarm from critics that this new momentum for banning books could impair the free exchange of ideas that makes American democracy work.

Florida gets aggressive in banning books from school libraries.

In the vast majority of cases, the new wave is much more than a parent objecting to a book found in their child’s backpack, officials from PEN America said. It’s coming from organized and coordinated groups such as the national Moms for Liberty and Florida Citizens Alliance.

“Today’s wave of bans represents a coordinated campaign to banish books being waged by sophisticated, ideological and well-resourced advocacy organizations,” said Suzanne Nossel, chief executive officer of PEN America.

The banned material most often concerns LGBTQ issues and/or features a protagonist or secondary character who is not White. Out of the 1,648 titles banned, 674, or 41%, addressed LGBTQ themes. And 659, or 41%, had main characters or secondary characters who were not White.


Texas sheriff will investigate Florida flying Venezuelan migrants to Martha’s Vineyard” via Sarah Blaskey and Nicholas Nehamas of the Miami Herald — Authorities in Texas have opened a criminal investigation into Gov. Ron DeSantis’ operation to fly roughly 50 Venezuela migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard last week. Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said in a news release Monday that his office is investigating whether the migrants were the victims of a crime. “The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office has opened an investigation into the migrants that were lured from the Migrant Resource Center, located in Bexar County, Texas, and flown to Florida, where they were ultimately left to fend for themselves in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts,” said Salazar, referring to an aid center for migrants in San Antonio, which is in Bexar County.

To watch Salazar’s announcement, please click on the image below:

—“Charlamagne tha God praised Ron DeSantis as a ‘genius’ for flying migrants to Martha’s Vineyard while calling out ‘hypocrisy’ of Democrats” via Natalie Musumeci of Business Insider

Sinclair Broadcasting’s West Palm Beach CBS affiliate to host single DeSantis-Charlie Crist TV debate Oct. 12 — The only televised debate in the Florida gubernatorial race will be Oct. 12 at Fort Pierce’s Sunrise Theater. WPEC, the West Palm Beach CBS affiliate will serve as host, and anchor Liz Quirantes will moderate. The debate will broadcast on WEAR in Pensacola, WMBB in Panama City, WTWC in Tallahassee, WGFL in Gainesville, and WFLA in Tampa. It will also be livestreamed on the Sinclair-owned The National Desk YouTube Page.

DeSantis holds a 23-to-1 cash advantage on Crist” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — DeSantis continues to hold a dominating lead in fundraising over Crist. Even as his campaign shipped millions to the Republican Party of Florida, the Republican incumbent sits ready to deploy $115 million in cash on hand. Crist, a former Democratic Congressman and Republican Governor, has grown his war chest back to more than $5 million in available cash following a costly Primary. DeSantis’ official re-election campaign account raised $934,942 in the first full week of September, bringing the total raised this cycle to $23,032,660. He already spent most of that, but still holds $10,015,983 in cash.

—”Email insights: DeSantis warns donors he ‘fell short’ of fundraising goal” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

DeSantis gets standing ovation from GOP voters after flying migrants to Martha’s Vineyard” via Steve Contorno of CNN — DeSantis, speaking in Kansas, gave every indication he intends to capitalize on the latest wave of attention that has followed him sending migrants to Massachusetts last week. “This is a crisis. It’s now getting a little bit more attention,” DeSantis said, earning a standing ovation as he talked about the southern border and nodding to the headlines he instigated when he flew 50 migrants from the border to Martha’s Vineyard. The reception DeSantis received in Kansas enforced the perception that last week’s ploy accomplished more than raising awareness of the border crisis or diverting migrants who may have eventually ended up in Florida.

Venezuelans’ reaction to DeSantis’ migrant flights reflects diverse immigration views” via Veronica Egui Brito of the Miami Herald — Venezuelans in South Florida are experiencing a duality of political positions regarding the measure taken by DeSantis to unexpectedly fly some 50 migrants, mostly from Venezuela, from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard. Some rushed to condemn the flights last week, calling them “a new low.” Others, including the Republican Venezuelans who admire DeSantis for his conservative policies, believe that his decision was necessary in the face of pressure to increase immigration controls. There are about 273,216 Venezuelans living in Florida, making it the state with the largest number of Venezuelans in the United States.

DeSantis ad spotlights mother whose son was killed in auto accident with illegal immigrant driver” via Paul Steinhauser of Fox News — The issue of illegal immigration is front and center in the latest ad by DeSantis’ re-election campaign. The spot, which is running statewide in Florida on TV and digital starting Monday, comes as DeSantis has grabbed national headlines over the past week by flying Venezuelan migrants to the progressive bastion of Martha’s Vineyard. “My child was killed by someone who should not have been here. This is what happens when we have open borders,” Jacksonville resident Kiyan Michael says at the top of the 60-second ad, which was shared first with Fox News.

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

Crist slams appearance of ‘antisemite’ pastor in DeSantis ad” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Crist slammed an appearance by an “antisemite” pastor in an ad for DeSantis. The attack came two weeks after Larry Jinks, a pastor at First Baptist Church on St. James City, appeared in a widely praised ad entitled “Results” that included a number of Floridians praising DeSantis’ leadership, particularly during the pandemic. “You protected our right to worship together — in person,” Jinks says in the ad, standing in front of his church. But the appearance prompted a look at other things Jinks has said on social media, where his Facebook feed frequently leans on apocalyptic rhetoric.

Assignment editors — Crist will take part in the following events: 10:15 a.m., “Cafecito con Crist — Choice is the Choice” Lee County meet and greet, Ft. Myers; 11:45 a.m., Charlotte County meet and greet, Punta Gorda. Locations upon RSVP at [email protected].

‘Ron’s housing state of emergency’: Video highlights skyrocketing costs under DeSantis” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Skyrocketing housing prices in Florida have made it one of the least affordable states for renters and homebuyers in America. Now, a group of DeSantis’ fiercest critics is airing a new ad blaming the Governor for not acting to address the issue. DeSantis Watch, a partnership between Florida Watch and Progress Florida, has been bashing DeSantis for months on issues like education and campaign finance. In its latest video, the group targets Florida’s housing unaffordability, which prompted local and state leaders to declare states of emergency and urge the Governor to do the same and take steps to slow the trend.

— 2022 —

Migrants who landed in Martha’s Vineyard were tricked by misleading brochure, lawyers say” via Marc Caputo of NBC News — When roughly 50 migrants were flown from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, they were given a brochure about housing, cash assistance and jobs for refugees. One problem with what the brochure was promoting: the migrants aren’t anywhere close to being classified as refugees, a specific term under U.S. immigration law. The implicit promises of help were misleading and potentially criminal, according to the Lawyers for Civil Rights, a nonprofit legal aid group representing 30 of the people who landed on the Massachusetts island last week. Under immigration law, asylum-seekers have to go through a process before they can be granted asylum and then apply for refugee status to receive benefits, such as those promised in the brochure given to the Martha’s Vineyard migrants.

Refugee benefits do not apply to the migrants sent to Martha’s Vineyard.

DeSantis’ heartless migrant stunt provides a preview of 2024” via John Cassidy of The New Yorker — In discussing the recent escalation in tensions between red America and blue America, The Economist noted “echoes here of the tussles between southern and northern states” in the final years of the antebellum era. But the magazine also stated flatly, “America is not going to have another civil war, as some feverish pundits speculate.” But what is abundantly clear is that the migrant stunt has provided a preview of the 2024 presidential campaign, in which DeSantis is likely to feature prominently. In trying to position himself as a viable conservative alternative to Trump, DeSantis is using emotive issues such as immigration and abortion and school curricula to raise his national profile as a culture warrior. His strategy reflects the makeup of today’s Republican Party.

Val Demings puts another $637K into TV ads — U.S. Rep. Demings has spent another $637,234 on broadcast ads in her campaign for U.S. Senate. According to AdImpact, the buy will cover ads airing today through Monday in seven media markets. The Miami market accounts for $203,719 of the buy, followed by $162,900 in Orlando, $119,944 in West Palm Beach, $75,850 in Tampa, $65,400 in Jacksonville, $8,164 in Tallahassee and $1,255 in Ft. Myers. Demings has now spent $18.7 million on ads this cycle. Incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and the political committees supporting his re-election campaign have spent $13.6 million to date.

Ashley Moody on Democrats outraged over migrant transports: ‘Take the border to them’” via Amber Jo Cooper of Florida’s Voice — Moody spoke during a Fox & Friends appearance saying the DeSantis Administration is sending migrants to Martha’s Vineyard to force Democrat leaders to acknowledge the harm caused by the crisis at the border. “How badly did your Gov. Ron DeSantis just expose the absolute hypocrisy of the left on this?” host Todd Piro asked. “These leaders, their preferred way to address this is to sit on high, issue edicts and opinions, deny there’s a crisis, deny Americans are dying at record rates every single day because the border is open and there’s fentanyl. We can tell you there’s a crisis,” said Moody.

—”‘Ready to fight for change’: Jane Fonda Climate PAC backs Aramis Ayala for Attorney General” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics

Loranne Ausley versus Corey Simon: Democrats at 5 to 1 cash disadvantage; GOP Senate supermajority on the line” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat — The Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee in August launched an estimated $500,000 television advertising buy through the end of September on behalf of Simon’s bid to unseat incumbent Sen. Ausley, a Tallahassee Democrat. Simon is a Florida State University football legend, having played on the 1999 National Championship team and later won a Super Bowl ring as a member of the 2006 Indianapolis Colts. Already pumping mailboxes with mailers, the Simon campaign begins blanketing the airwaves with commercials this week.

Republican candidate in Broward’s solidly blue HD 101 pulls ahead in cash-on-hand” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Guy Silla has staked $24,000 on his campaign to flip Broward County’s House District 101 red. Undoubtedly, he’ll have an uphill battle against the numbers. Election data shows Biden won the south Broward County legislative district by 14 percentage points. Technically, though, Silla’s ahead in cash-on-hand. His Democratic rival, Hillary Cassel, burned through $523,978, including $65,000 of her own money, during a three-way Democratic Primary in HD 101. Between her personal account and her political committee, Friends of Hillary Cassel, the Hollywood lawyer has $7,779 to spend on her campaign.

Guy Silla faces Hillary Cassel to turn a blue Broward district red.

Vicki Lopez raises $74K for HD 113 bid with big GOP boost” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Lopez, a public affairs consultant and GOP political insider, amassed $79,000 for her bid to take House District 113 this fall. Nearly two-thirds of that came from the Republican Party of Florida. Lopez’s campaign account received a $49,000 cash infusion from the Florida GOP, her largest single contribution between Aug. 1 and Sept. 9, plus another $20,000 from various donors. Her political committee, Common Sense Government, took $10,000 from the Law Offices of Fernando Pomares, a Miami-based firm specializing in real estate, personal injury and medical malpractice.


Florida House Dems urge GOP leaders to block using taxpayer funds for transporting migrants” via Issac Morgan of Florida Phoenix — Florida Democrats in the state House on Monday questioned the legality of DeSantis’ recent move that transported about 50 asylum-seekers from Florida to Martha’s Vineyard and urged GOP leaders to stop using “inappropriate use of taxpayer dollars” for the operation that has sparked nationwide outrage. Following the controversy, the Democratic House members sent a letter to Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls and House Appropriations Chair Jay Trumbull “to object to Gov. DeSantis and Florida Department of Transportation’s unlawful actions …”

Democrats urge Chris Sprowls to take a closer look at the money spent to fly Texas migrants to Massachusetts.

Civil rights group offers cash reward for info on ‘Perla,’ who lured migrants onto Martha’s Vineyard flights” via Sanford Nowlin of Creative Loafing — A leading Latinx civil-rights organization is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the identification of a woman who allegedly lured 50 migrants in San Antonio onto flights last week that dumped them in Martha’s Vineyard. Officials with the League of United Latin American Citizens said asylum-seekers stranded in the East Coast resort community said a woman who identified herself as “Perla” falsely promised them three months of work. She also lied about the destination of the flights, claiming they were going to Boston, LULAC maintains.

Massachusetts lawmakers join calls for federal investigation after migrants flown to Martha’s Vineyard” via WCVB — Massachusetts state lawmakers who represent Cape Cod and the islands are joining calls for a federal investigation after dozens of migrants were flown from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard on flights paid for by Florida’s state government. State Rep. Dylan Fernandes, who represents Falmouth, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, and Gosnold, said in a statement he is requesting an investigation by the Department of Justice.

Judge prefers a trial for DeSantis’ removal of Tampa prosecutor” via Lawrence Mower and Sue Carlton of the Tampa Bay Times — A federal judge hearing the case of Hillsborough County’s ousted state attorney appears to favor a speedy trial over immediately reinstating Andrew Warren to decide the issue “once and for all.” During a nearly two-hour hearing in Tallahassee, Senior U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle indicated he’d like to avoid the possible back-and-forth effect of reinstating Warren, only to have it potentially overturned by an appeals court. “The public isn’t served by yo-yo-ing this office,” Hinkle said. “It’s everyone’s intent to get this done just as quickly as possible.”

Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. to unvaccinated, fired New York teachers: Come to Florida” via Lydia Nusbaum of Florida’s Voice — New York City reportedly fired 850 educators because they were not vaccinated, prompting Florida Education Commissioner Diaz Jr. to invite them to teach in Florida Monday. The New York Post reports that the city Department of Education fired 850 teachers and classroom aides in New York City. The recent cut brought the total number of those fired because did not follow a vaccine mandate to nearly 2,000 school employees. “Come on down to the free state of Florida!” Diaz said. “We are proud to offer reciprocity to New York teachers.”

Florida Chief Justice Carlos Muñiz’s tour for abortion opponents provokes concerns about court bias at critical moment via Noreen Marcus of the Florida Bulldog — As the raging national debate over abortion was starting to engulf the Florida Supreme Court last January, now-Chief Justice Muñiz personally led a private courthouse tour for an anti-abortion crusader and his supporters. The tour taken by John Stemberger and members of his Florida Family Policy Council (FFPC) is attracting much behind-the-scenes attention at the state’s most powerful court. Lawyers and others have flooded the court’s communication office with public record requests for information about the Jan. 25 tour, according to a court employee who spoke with Florida Bulldog on condition of anonymity. “There’s a lot of scrambling going on upstairs,” said the employee, who fears getting fired if identified. “It feels spooky around here right now. Everyone is tense.”

A private tour by Carlos Muñiz could cause legal headaches.

Happening today — Committees of the Citizens Property Insurance Corp. Board of Governors meet before a full board meeting Wednesday: Committee meetings begin at 1 p.m., World Golf Village Renaissance, 500 South Legacy Trail, St. Augustine. Zoom link here. Call-in number: 1-786-635-1003. Code: 89801242389.

Happening today — The Florida Gaming Control Commission meets: 10 a.m. Meeting link here. Call-in number: 1-866-899-4679. Code: 426005725.

Florida infant recovers after catching monkeypox, CDC says” via Caroline Catherman of the Orlando Sentinel — A Florida infant has recovered after catching monkeypox in August, a new CDC report said. The infant was admitted to an unnamed Florida hospital with a rash and cellulitis, according to the report. Rashes and lesions spread throughout their body, including their arms, legs, soles of their feet, face, and eyelids. The infected infant was less than 2 months old.


Joe Biden tries once again to suggest victory over the coronavirus” via Philip Bump of The Washington Post — The political end of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States appears to have come not from a formal White House statement but, instead, in response to a reporter’s question. “Is the pandemic over?” CBS News’s Scott Pelley asked Biden in an interview conducted last week for “60 Minutes.” “The pandemic is over,” Biden replied flatly. Biden’s new declaration about the state of the pandemic is curious for several reasons. One is the timing. The government recently approved an updated booster aimed at better containing the spread of the highly contagious omicron variant of the virus.

Joe Biden says the pandemic is over. Is it?

Hunter Biden probe: Senate Republicans demand special counsel authority for prosecutor as inquiry heats up” via Tyler Olson of Fox News — Over 30 Senate Republicans are calling on Attorney General Merrick Garland to give the prosecutor investigating Biden special counsel authority as the investigation into the President’s son heats up. In a letter led by Sen. John Cornyn, Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Chuck Grassley, and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Senators warn of potential political interference in the high-profile probe being conducted by Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss, a prosecutor appointed by Trump. The Senators plan to send the letter later Monday.

Marco Rubio sees ‘massive disconnect’ between elites, ‘real world’” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — “So you have this massive disconnect, frankly in both parties between the people who live in New York and control media, the people who live in LA and control entertainment, the people who live in northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. and control politics, between them and what’s important to them, and what matters to millions and millions of people in the real world. That’s the disconnect that’s playing out,” Rubio told CBS 12 in West Palm Beach. Rubio said the “disconnect” was specifically “between everyday working Americans who govern themselves by common sense and a small group of elites in both parties who are completely insulated and isolated from all of this. That’s the real disconnect that’s driving this anger.”

Two senior Democrats, Dick Durbin and Elizabeth Warren, want more federal oversight after DeSantis sent migrants to Martha’s Vineyard.” via Marianne LeVine of POLITICO — Two senior Democrats, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Durbin and Sen. Warren said Monday that more federal oversight over government funds was needed after reports that DeSantis may have used interest earned from federal COVID-19 aid to pay to send migrants to Martha’s Vineyard. The senior Senator from the state where DeSantis flew the group of migrants called for an investigation beyond Congress. “The Department of Justice should be exploring whether any laws were broken,” Warren said.


Donald Trump’s unhinged rage in Ohio shows the danger of a GOP Congress” via Greg Sargent of The Washington Post — Trump’s weekend rally in Ohio had no shortage of dark and disturbing moments: He mocked GOP Senate nominee J.D. Vance for “kissing my ass,” called for Singapore-style executions of drug dealers and enjoyed a moment of ritualistic crowd adulation set to what sounded like a QAnon song. Trump also delivered a deeply serious message with real-world implications. He fully expects a GOP Congress to use its power to place him outside the reach of any and all investigations and prosecutions, now and into the future.

Donald Trump goes ballistic in Ohio.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

Judge won’t step down from Stoneman Douglas mass shooting case” via Rafael Olmeda of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer refused to step down from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting case Monday, dismissing a defense demand filed Friday as “legally insufficient.” It’s the only comment a judge is allowed to make when asked to recuse oneself, and Scherer did it in writing, handing copies of her ruling to attorneys on both sides without addressing it in open court.

Elizabeth Scherer is not backing down.

Former Primary opponent endorses Kevin Marino Cabrera for Miami-Dade Commission” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Cabrera’s campaign for the Miami-Dade Commission just received an endorsement from one of his former Primary Election opponents. On Monday, entrepreneur Dariel Fernandez announced he is backing Cabrera in what is now a two-way race for the District 6 seat on the County Commission. Fernandez, a fellow Republican who owns and operates a software company in Coral Gables, was one of three other candidates who ran in the Primary last month. Now that he’s out of the race, he said he wants to see Cabrera win the seat on Nov. 8.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

New Orlando terminal is $2.8 billion bet on Florida tourism” via Mike Schneider of The Associated Press — Visitors to the new terminal at Orlando International Airport may want to wear sunscreen, shades and a floppy hat. Sun rays beaming through the windows of its soaring ceilings don’t just peck at the passing passengers; they practically smooch them as if they were spending a day at the beach. Accompanied by realistic-looking fake indoor palm trees, gigantic LED screens depicting underwater springs and skylight views of blue skies and billowing clouds, Terminal C lets passengers know they have arrived in Florida. And that’s the point, as the world’s seventh-busiest airport makes a $2.8 billion bet when the 1.8 million-square-foot terminal opens to the public this week that Florida’s tourism is moving well beyond the pandemic slowdown and has a bright future.

Orlando International’s newest terminal is a billion-dollar bet on Florida tourism. Image via AP.

‘I’ve never had to struggle like this’: Residents raise alarm about growing need for food help” via Britt Kennerly and J.D. Gallop of Florida Today — Hunger is a pervasive and persistent issue across Brevard County. It affects the homeless and those out of work but also residents with jobs and a roof over their heads, those left with very little money for food after paying rent, gas, utilities, student loans, medical bills and more. When Stacy Higginbotham, a mother of four, wheels her grocery cart through the aisles at a Palm Bay Walmart, she’s looking for foods that can last, rice and cereal, while doing a version of survival math in her head, mentally dividing $40 worth of ground beef into 11 meals for five people.

St. Petersburg City Council resignation may affect city’s redistricting process” via Colleen Wright of the Tampa Bay Times — A City Council’s member resignation over accusations that she does not live in the district she represents may affect the ongoing decennial process to redraw Council district boundaries. Lisa Wheeler-Bowman resigned from the Council Thursday following accusations that she did not live in District 7, the southern St. Petersburg district she represented since 2015. Some are now accusing local pastor and Suncoast Tiger Bay Club President J.C. Pritchett II, her appointee on the Commission tasked with drawing new district boundaries, of expanding Wheeler-Bowman’s district to include her new home.


Tension boil between Byron Donalds, Collier School Board candidate in public outbursts” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Tension between U.S. Rep. Donalds and a Collier County School Board candidate continues to play out in court. Now, video of heated exchanges between the Congressman and Kelly Lichter, and between Lichter’s husband and a member of Donalds’ staff, has generated new attention. One video published by NBC-2 shows Donalds at Seed to Table in Naples erupting at Lichter on Aug. 23, the night both enjoyed successes in local Primary Elections. The conversation references a lawsuit brought by Lichter and other board members of Mason Classical Academy against, among other entities.

No love was lost between Kelly Lichter and Byron Donalds.

Collier Commissioners put off hearings on land use change to allow medical marijuana dispensaries” via Laura Layden of Naples Daily News — Collier County Commissioners have pushed off a decision on whether to reconsider opening the door for medical marijuana dispensaries. At a board meeting Sept. 13, Commissioners voted not to take up the hotbed issue again until next year. So, the county won’t hold public hearings on a proposed land code change as expected in October. Currently, the dispensaries are not allowed anywhere in the unincorporated area, essentially anywhere outside of city limits in Collier, because they’re not an approved use.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

What internal emails reveal about controversial TPD training with ex-Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher” via Christopher Cann of the Tallahassee Democrat — More than a month after the Tallahassee Police Department conducted training at a facility linked to an ex-Navy SEAL and accused war criminal, internal communications are revealing more details about the incident that prompted outrage among some residents and officials. Emails show that members of TPD’s Tactical Apprehension and Control Team (TAC) were aware of Gallagher’s ties with Stronghold SOF Solutions, the nonprofit that hosted the Aug. 4 training session, as early as February.

Accused war criminal Eddie Gallagher was in deep with the TPD.

Following parent outrage, Escambia schools drops controversial student handbook test” via the Pensacola News Journal — Escambia County Public Schools has discontinued its Student Rights and Responsibilities Handbook test after parent outrage over one of the questions. The district added the test for the first time this year as a way to show proof that students read and understood the handbook. The middle and high school test questions that angered parents discussed students’ exchange of nude photos, revenge and suicide. The test question prompt outlined a scenario in which fictional 17-year-old Suzi was talked into sending her boyfriend, 18-year-old Roger, naked photos. When Roger broke up with Suzie, she went to a homecoming dance with a football player, and Roger circulated Suzie’s naked photos all around the school.

Nassau firefighter union prez leads money race for Fernandina Beach Commission seat” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — Darron Ayscue wasn’t the first candidate in the race for the Fernandina Beach City Commission seat vacated by Vice Mayor Len Kreger, but he does lead the money race, if only slightly. Ayscue has raised $10,000 so far for the Seat 5 campaign, narrowly outpacing Genece Minshew, who started her campaign last year and raised around $9,950 as of the end of August. Staci McMonagle, the third candidate in the race, is at a decided disadvantage financially, at least so far, with a little more than $1,800 raised at the end of August and around $1,220 spent.


A sadistic immigration stunt” via Tom Nichols of The Atlantic — The Florida Governor’s cartoonish assumption, apparently, was that liberal Bay Staters are just as racist as the Republican MAGA-base voters he’s trying to woo and that they would prove it by reacting with outrage when a bunch of Latin Americans showed up on their doorstep. (He even sent a videographer, in the hopes of capturing the Vineyarders getting the vapors.)

This bizarre miscalculation probably won’t help DeSantis much. As journalist Josh Marshall said this morning, in politics, “weird can sometimes be worse than wrong.”

In any case, the show was a fizzle: The locals provided the migrants with food and shelter and sent students from an AP Spanish class at the local high school as translators.

I’m still pretty vehement about border security: In 2019, I was yelling at the television during the Democratic Presidential Primary debates when Julián Castro talked about decriminalizing unauthorized border crossings, apoplectic at the idea that nations can’t make laws about their own borders.

But DeSantis and Trump have talked me out of supporting tougher policies. Why? Because intentions matter. A policy implemented by sadists is not a policy. It is cheap political gratification masquerading as policy, and it will always do more harm than good.

I am against illegal immigration. But I am against the intentional tormenting of other human beings — especially children — even more.


Martha’s Vineyard freakout: Ignoring the real problem.” via Byron York of the Washington Examiner — During the 24-hour period from Saturday to Sunday, according to reporting by Fox News correspondent Bill Melugin, Border Patrol officers encountered 4,431 illegal crossings in just three of the nine sectors of the U.S.-Mexico border. Everyone is talking about how to accommodate illegal border crossers once they are in the country and not about how to prevent people from crossing illegally into the U.S. Isn’t the real problem the enormous numbers of people crossing into the U.S.? And how to reduce that number? And how to deal with those who do manage to sneak across to make sure that only the relatively small number who have legitimate asylum claims are allowed to stay? Isn’t that the real problem?

How Democrats can turn the tables on DeSantis” via Ross Barkan of The Atlantic — The idea is simple: Make the Democrats deal with the border crisis and prove they’re all hypocrites, human rights be damned. As a matter of optics, it’s not yet clear who has emerged ahead. Martha’s Vineyard, rather than the large cities, captured the public imagination in the past week. But the Democrats have an opportunity here. Rather than lament yet another disingenuous culture war that Republicans are thirsty to wage, Democrats of all ideological stripes should use this moment to celebrate the very places that could become permanent homes for migrants fleeing violence and economic calamity.

Florida’s top court telegraphs its intent on abortion” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — The Florida of days gone by would not need a Nikki Fried to promise a statewide ballot initiative campaign to protect abortion rights after she recently lost a Democratic Primary for Governor. Voters amended the Constitution in 1980 to guarantee personal privacy, and nine years later, the state Supreme Court agreed unanimously that it protected reproductive choice. As one justice said then, the ruling was intended to protect women no matter what might happen eventually if the precedent in Roe v. Wade was overturned, which it was in June.


— ALOE —

FIU edges UF for highest Bar Exam passage rate among law grads” via Florida Politics — Just over half of those taking both portions of the General Bar Examination in Florida passed, according to results released by the Supreme Court of Florida Monday. The General Bar Examination has two parts. Part A includes the Florida portion of the exam, while Part B includes the Multi-state Bar Examination (MBE). Completion of both parts comprises the Overall Method. Of the 2,794 applicants in the Overall Method, 51% passed. Of the 186 applicants who took only Part A, 55% passed, while only 36% of the 102 applicants who took only Part B passed.


Celebrating today is Rep. Jason Shoaf, former Reps. James Grant and Frank White, Chloe Barr of Allison Aubuchon Communications, Kevin Derby, Ken Detzner, our former colleague Drew Dixon, Jeff Sadosky, and the Governors Club GM Barry Shields. Belated birthday wishes to Brian May of Capital City Consulting.


Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel Dean, Renzo Downey, Jacob Ogles, and Drew Wilson.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Andrew Wilson, Wes Wolfe, and Mike Wright.

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