Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 10.5.22

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

Good Wednesday morning.

For 10 years, this little girl, now a young woman, has grown up before your eyes. Ella Joyce doesn’t know it, but she is part of The Process.

She met the President of the United States when she was three weeks old. We changed her diaper in the office of the Senate Majority Leader. Her godfather is one of the most feared political consultants in Florida politics (Anthony Pedicini); her-best-friend-who-is-Mommy’s-best-friend is one of the most beloved political players in the state (Stephanie Smith). She had her own whiteboard to track the Electoral College for the 2020 presidential election.

Ella Joyce Schorsch, aboard the Disney Wish, September 2022.

Of course, if you asked Ella, she would tell you she really doesn’t like politics, even though she is enthralled by history. That’s OK. She knows it’s Daddy’s business (and that it was also Mommy’s business before Mommy became Mommy.)

I say it each year, but Michelle and I could not be prouder of Ella Joyce. Not because of how she scores on tests or rides her ponies. Like all parents, I’m sure, we love her for the moments no one else gets to see. For moments not broadcast on Instagram.

I also and especially love Ella Joyce for the man she has made me become. If my Mother raised me and Michelle elevated me into genuine adulthood, the presence of Ella Joyce made me become a real man, whatever and everything that entails. I know this for sure: I would not be on this journey to better health if the main motivation were not so I could be present in Ella’s life for as many years as possible.

Happy birthday, Ella Joyce.


Gov. Ron DeSantis is leading U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist by double digits, according to the latest survey from Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy.

The pollster asked 800 likely General Election voters whom they planned to vote for in November and found the incumbent Republican with 52% support compared to 41% who said they would cast their ballot for Crist. The margin is well outside the poll’s 3.5-percentage-point margin of error.

Fence-sitters account for another 6% while 1% of those polled said they planned to vote for one of the minor candidates in the race.

DeSantis’ advantage is clear in all regions except for South Florida, where Crist leads 53%-39%. The former Governor, now Congressman, also holds a narrow 48%-45% lead among women.

The Governor is mopping up with most other demos, though — he has sizable leads among men (60%-34%), white voters (62%-31%), and voters over 50 (56%-39%). The gap is smaller among younger voters, though DeSantis still holds a 47%-43% edge among those under 50.

DeSantis also tops Crist 52%-39% among third- and no-party voters, a crucial bloc, while fewer Republicans than Democrats say they plan to defect and vote across the aisle.

The Governor’s lead in the horserace was accompanied by high job approval numbers — 55% of respondents said they were pleased with DeSantis’ performance while 42% found him lacking. The plus-13 rating goes down as his highest since March 2019, two months after his inauguration.

However, the poll was conducted Sept. 26-28, mostly before Hurricane Ian decimated Southwest Florida and caused severe damage in other areas of the state.

“It will be important to see if (DeSantis) can maintain or improve (his approval rating) in the coming weeks, as his leadership will be tested by state attempts to repair and recover from the damage inflicted by Hurricane Ian,” Mason-Dixon said.


A few other thoughts:

⚖️ — A new pandemic trend: balance in who is dying from COVID-19. As David Leonhardt writes for The New York Times, Black and Hispanic Americans are no longer dying at a higher rate than White Americans. One possible explanation is that vaccine hesitancy is an affliction that affects mostly Republican, who are, in turn, mostly White.

📤 — Most people discuss their problems with family, friends or even therapists. Not Adam Dalva. In a piece published by The Atlantic, the writer details how — and why — he began writing to Jeb Bush about the adversities in his personal and professional life. After many years and many emails, the former Governor wrote back.

🎯 — After mailers went out to Panhandle voters depicting a Black Republican candidate for Senate as a shooting target, Democrats should waste no time condemning the incumbent the mailer was meant to support — Loranne Ausley. The mailer was racist at worst, tone-deaf at best. Read more here.


@TheLiamNissan: The fact that Herschel Walker is being defended by every opponent of abortion in America right now means it was never about abortion and it was always about controlling women.

Tweet, tweet:

@ChrisLatvala: Democrats are losing it over DeSantis wearing rain boots. The same Governor who hours earlier sat in church paying respects to a LEO who was killed in the line of duty. No fanfare ab his attendance. Absent from the funeral? The Rep who represented Pinellas Co who wants to be Gov

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:

@DaveTrotter101: Again with your friendly daily reminder: The Florida Constitution says in Article VI, Section 5: A General Election may be suspended or delayed due to a state of emergency or impending emergency pursuant to general law. So yeah, keep that in mind.


Supervisors of Elections vote-by-mail mailing deadline for General Election — 1; 22-23 NHL season begins — 2; deadline to register for General Election — 7; WPEC televised debate in Florida Governor’s race — 7; ‘Before You Vote’ TV debates (Senate) — 13; NBA season tips off — 13; Taylor Swift’s ‘Midnights’ release — 16; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 19; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 20; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 20; City & State Florida Digital Summit — 22; Early voting begins for General Election — 24; 2022 General Election — 34; ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ premieres — 37; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 37; FITCon 2022 begins — 43; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 43; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 47; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 50; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 59; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 59; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 62; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 72; final Broadway performance of ‘The Music Man’ with Hugh Jackman — 88; Bruce Springsteen launches his 2023 tour in Tampa — 119; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 135; final performance of ‘Phantom of the Opera’ on Broadway — 136; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 153; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 170; American Association of Political Consultants Pollies ’23 conference begins — 195; 2023 Session Sine Die — 212; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 212; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 240; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 289; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 394; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 408; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 541; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 660; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 660; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 765; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 943.


Florida leaders rejected major climate laws. Now they’re seeking storm aid.” via Christopher Flavelle and Jonathan Weisman of The New York Times — Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott voted against last year’s bipartisan infrastructure law, which devotes some $50 billion to help states better prepare for events like Ian because they said it was wasteful. And in August, they joined every fellow Republican in the Senate to oppose a new climate law that invests $369 billion in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the largest such effort in the country’s history.

At the same time, DeSantis has blocked the state’s pension fund from taking climate change into account when making investment decisions, saying that politics should be absent from financial calculations.

In the aftermath of Ian, those leaders want federal help to rebuild their state — but don’t want to discuss the underlying problem that is making hurricanes more powerful and destructive. None of the top Republicans in the state have supported legislation to curb the greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change.

Hurricane Ian is far from the first time Florida has felt the impacts of climate change. Yet the state’s leaders have long resisted what scientists say is needed to stave off a catastrophic future: an aggressive pivot away from gas, oil and coal, and toward solar, wind and other renewable energy sources.

Was Florida warned?

Joe Biden to meet Ron DeSantis as he visits Florida after Ian. Migrant flights not on the agenda” via Alex Roarty of the Miami Herald — Biden will meet with DeSantis when he travels to Florida on Wednesday to survey the damage done by Hurricane Ian, the White House said Tuesday. Biden will receive an “operational briefing” from the Governor and FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, along with other state and local officials. The meeting will be the culmination of a political detente between Biden and DeSantis, who over the last week have put aside their political rivalry to help coordinate federal and state recovery efforts. The President and Governor have spoken by phone several times since the storm’s approach last week.


DeSantis: Three Hurricane Ian looters were ‘illegal aliens’” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Three of four suspects arrested in Lee County on looting charges were in the country illegally, according to DeSantis. He made the announcement Tuesday during a news conference in Fort Myers about the response to Hurricane Ian. “These are people that are foreigners, they’re illegally in our country, but not only that, they try to loot and ransack in the aftermath of a natural disaster,” DeSantis told reporters.

You loot, they shoot.

As Ian death toll rises, officials in Lee County, home to 45 deaths, are put on defensive” via Jane Musgrave of The Palm Beach Post — While Scott said the delayed decision-making should be reviewed, state disaster officials and academics who study evacuations said officials in the Fort Myers area shouldn’t be blamed. Of the confirmed deaths, 45 were in Lee County. Florida’s emergency manager said evacuation orders are issued by local, not state officials, and rejected the notion that Lee County officials put lives at risk by waiting until 7 a.m. Tuesday to order people to leave vulnerable coastal areas. Other southwest counties ordered evacuations on Monday. Scott, who and dealt with several major hurricanes as Governor, told CNN’s “State of the Union” that Florida and Lee County emergency management officials should review their decision to see what could have been done differently to minimize the loss of life.

Hurricane Ian’s death toll rises as crews in Florida go door to door in search for survivors in decimated neighborhoods” via Nouran Salahieh of CNN — Rescue crews going door to door in search of survivors are reporting more deaths, and residents grappling with loss are facing a long, daunting recovery. As of Tuesday, at least 109 people have been reported killed by the hurricane in the United States, with 105 of those deaths in Florida and 55 of them in Lee County. The Florida Medical Examiners Commission reported a death in Martin County, an additional death in Manatee County, and an added death in Sarasota County attributed to Hurricane Ian, according to a news release from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Ian also claimed the lives of four people in North Carolina.

Floridians injured from Hurricane Ian pour into urgent care” via Caroline Catherman of the Orlando Sentinel — As recovery from Hurricane Ian continues, local hospitals and clinics are seeing more people come in with injuries. Dr. Tim Hendrix, senior medical director of AdventHealth Centra Care, said injuries have increased in the days after the hurricane. He estimated clinics have seen a 20% increase in sprains, wounds, eye injuries and animal bites since the week before the hurricane. “I think it’s just a matter of people getting out there, doing their cleanup — not wearing gloves, not wearing shoes, you know, protective devices, wearing eye protection,” Hendrix said.

In Naples, Hurricane Ian brings dramatic rescues and staggering loss” via Hannah Critchfield of the Tampa Bay Times — The stunned residents of Naples surveyed Hurricane Ian’s wreckage after the storm struck Southwest Florida. They clamored to get back to Naples in clotted traffic. Outside Port Charlotte, people parked on the highway and climbed into kayaks, using the shoulder’s floodwaters to assess the damage of their homes. Sons helped fathers throw away years of possessions. Friends helped friends clean out condos on Gulfshore Boulevard, where water from the beach and bay rose to second-floor balconies.

On the Tamiami Trail, surveying Hurricane Ian’s wrath of old Florida” via Lane DeGregory and Leonora LaPeter Anton of the Tampa Bay Times — Florida’s original north-south highway shadows the gulf coastline, a bygone road through beach communities that last week bore the brunt of Hurricane Ian. The route is rimmed with old strip malls and new subdivisions. Pieces of the past, promises of future growth. A borderland of sorts. No one takes this to fly through, not like the interstate. This is Grandma and Grandpa’s road. Here, you have to stop at countless lights, but you can take in attractions where visitors from around the world have flocked for a century.

In Ian’s wake, Florida residents brave a slow wait for power” via The Associated Press — Nearly a week after Hurricane Ian smashed into Florida and carved a path of destruction that reached into the Carolinas, hundreds of thousands of Florida residents faced another day without electricity Tuesday as rescuers continued their search for those trapped inside homes inundated with lingering floodwaters. At least 78 people have been confirmed dead from the storm: 71 in Florida, four in North Carolina and three in Cuba since Ian made landfall on the Caribbean island on Sept. 27, and in Florida a day later.

Power will be restored but will it be fast enough?

Wilton Simpson details agriculture industry woes post-Ian — Senate President Simpson, the front-runner to win the November election for Agriculture Commissioner, went on Fox Business to detail the current struggles of the state’s agriculture industry following Hurricane Ian. “The agriculture industry is suffering. A lot of floods, a lot of our roads have been cut off, a lot of the planting season that would be happening last week had to be delayed a week or two,” Simpson said. “As farmers know, it’s very important to get your crop in the ground at the right time to hit the window of opportunity to sell your product.” Simpson said the “rugged individualism” of Florida farmers will allow them to deliver the vegetables they typically ship to northern states during winter months, but that exterior factors such as inflation and rising logistics costs are causing them additional strain.

Cone of confusion: Why some say iconic hurricane map misled Floridians” via Scott Dance and Amudalat Ajasa of The Washington Post — The forecast cone is perhaps misunderstood as widely as it is broadcast. It simply shows the likely future locations of a storm’s center, that is, the path weather-forecasting models suggest its eye will take over the next three to five days. But many view the cone as indicating that danger is limited to areas within a shaded wedge of the map. Some meteorologists and social scientists are saying the disaster is only the latest evidence that the Hurricane Center should revamp the way it depicts forecasts.


First Lady helps National Guard on Pine Island, feeds first responders in Fort Myers” via Josh Miller of The Florida Standard — On Monday, First Lady Casey DeSantis toured the hardest-hit areas of southwest Florida. She joined Florida National Guardsmen to deliver food and water to Floridians on Pine Island, distributed meals to first responders, provided resources to the public at Murdock Baptist Church, and visited with Veterans in Port Charlotte. Assisting National Guardsmen, DeSantis loaded supplies onto a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter and accompanied them to Pine Island to distribute the supplies to residents who are locked on the island due to collapsed bridges.

Casey DeSantis goes all-out to support Florida first responders.

Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno addresses recovery nearly one week after Hurricane Ian” of the Fort Myers News-Press — Six days after Hurricane Ian pounded Lee County, Sheriff Marceno says his deputies are tiring, with no end in sight. His crew has helped with 842 rescues and recovered 55 bodies, he said Tuesday at Getaway Marina, near Matanzas Bridge on Fort Myers Beach. Marceno said deputies aren’t able to return home with their families. “We worry about burnout … We worry about a relief factor,” Marceno said. “We’re going to utilize our local, state and federal partners to make sure that we have the sufficient manpower to relieve those that have pushed it beyond the limits and working straight around the clock.”

Carmine Marceno says rescue crews are facing exhaustion.

Broward County hotels welcome families of the tiniest storm refugees” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — The ravages of Hurricane Ian forced 23 babies out of Lee County’s neonatal intensive care to Broward County’s, so the state’s tourism marketing agency sprang into action. Soon 19 hoteliers signed on to accommodate families free of charge so they could stay close to the tiniest refugees of the storm. The Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida reported issues with the building’s infrastructure and a lack of potable water on Thursday. Hospitals losing power, losing water supply, and experiencing structural damage affected some 900 patients in Southwest Florida.

FPL declares Northeast Florida electricity restored ahead of schedule” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — Florida Power & Light (FPL) is announcing that its work reconnecting Northeast Florida customers is all but over, with electricity restoration through nearly the entire region except for Volusia County. “Thanks to our restoration team’s dedication to customers, we are now concentrating all of our resources in Southwest Florida where the storm hit hardest,” Eric Silagy, FPL chair and CEO, said in a statement. FPL restored power to 1.9 million of its more than 2.1 million affected customers by Tuesday morning, and the company expects to complete the job by the end of Friday.

Nearly all TECO customers have power restored after Hurricane Ian” via Florida Politics — Tampa Electric, which supplies power to 810,000 customers in West Central Florida, has restored service to essentially all customers following Hurricane Ian. The storm made landfall south of its service area, but West Central Florida received significant rainfall and endured sustained tropical-storm-force winds most of last Wednesday and into Thursday. Since then, TECO has restored power to customers able to receive it. In all, the company has turned the lights back on for 295,000 customers.

Boat captains, volunteers help barrier island residents with ferry service, supplies” via David Goodhue and Ana Ceballos of the Miami Herald — Six days after Hurricane Ian ravaged the area, boat captains and volunteers were offering free boat rides to people who wanted to go to Pine Island, a remote island of roughly 9,000 people that has been cut off from the mainland. “It’s not about the money. It’s about mainly getting people away from the island and get needed supplies back there,” said Gary Cullen, a boat dealer from Cape Coral who made dozens of trips back and forth from the mainland Tuesday, ferrying people and supplies.

Initial Payment Center opens in Port Charlotte for insurance claims” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — A new resource has opened for Floridians interested in making insurance claims in response to damage caused by Hurricane Ian. The Department of Financial Services (DFS) has deployed an Initial Payment Center in Port Charlotte, where insurance carriers will be on hand to assist residents with the insurance claims process. The Charlotte County Initial Payment Center started operations Tuesday and will remain open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily at the Port Charlotte Town Center parking lot at 1441 Tamiami Trail.

Gas for Pine Island: Nonprofits help bring fuel to residents, water treatment facility” via Ashley White of the Fort Myers News-Press — The island has been cut off since Hurricane Ian damaged the bridges that lead onto the island. The fuel was rolled onto a small ferryboat in Matlacha near the Gulf Coast Kayak launch. On board were the blue plastic vats of diesel and gasoline, along with first responders and residents returning to the island to check their homes. It was offloaded at what was left of the Yucatan Waterfront Bar & Grill, and put on a flatbed by a front-end loader. Joe Lee, a volunteer with the Fuel Relief Fund, said the organization was helping to get diesel fuel to the water treatment facility on Pine Island. With the fuel it had, Lee said the facility could only run about two hours a day.

‘Operation BBQ’ helping southwest Florida get back on its feet” via NBC News — A Kansas-City-based charity is helping those in southwest Florida get back on their feet. “Operation BBQ Relief” provided food during its first round of meals for Floridians in the southwest region affected by Hurricane Ian, accessible by a drive-thru service line. At least 2,000 people waited in line for a serving of hot pulled pork and vegetables outside of Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte Sunday morning. Thousands more will be served. Crews have worked nonstop to cook for those crowded into parking lots, looking for a hot meal. Many are without power or running water in their homes.

Operation BBQ helps make sure SW Florida gets a hot meal.

Sarasota restaurant partners with José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen for Hurricane Ian aid” via Jimmy Geurts of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — One of Sarasota’s best-known restaurants has teamed up with an internationally renowned nonprofit founded by a celebrity chef to help feed those in need in Southwest Florida following Hurricane Ian’s devastation. Michael’s on East has partnered with World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit that provides meals in the wake of disasters founded by José Andrés, a chef and owner of restaurants across the country, including Jaleo in Orlando and The Bazaar in Miami Beach. Michael Klauber said they had made a little more than 10,000 meals as of Sunday, with plans to prepare another 5,000 meals Monday.

After Ian slammed into Port Charlotte, Scooby’s food truck sprung to action” via Colleen Wright of the Tampa Bay Times — Scooby’s BBQ & Grub Shack, pulled into the Port Charlotte lot two hours before sundown Thursday evening. He usually roves around Brooksville, Spring Hill, New Port Richey and Port Richey in Pasco and Hernando counties, but on Thursday, he packed up his blue pickup truck and trailer with a pizza oven in tow and drove 3½ hours south. Cars peeled into the lot. Folks who have seen better days asked around if the food truck took debit cards, or if there was any food left. “It would just be nice to have some warm food,” said Garfield Scarlett who waited in line for over an hour to take meals home to his family of three. “There’s no convenience stores, nothing.”


Amid Ian’s wounds, Jews see healing, renewal in Yom Kippur” via The Associated Press — Even though a destructive hurricane tore through his community just days earlier, nothing was going to stop Rabbi Yitzchok Minkowicz from holding prayer services Tuesday night for the start of the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. Throughout a southwest Florida devastated by Hurricane Ian, Jews planned to hold worship services for Yom Kippur, a day in which they fast for 24 hours and ask forgiveness for the wrongs they have committed during the year, although many were doing so with plans drastically modified by the storm. Some buildings on the 5-acre campus were flooded. But the main building, where 50 or so people sheltered during the hurricane, was comparatively unscathed because of its higher elevation.

Not even a hurricane will disrupt Yom Kippur, one of the holiest days on the Hebrew calendar.

Have you seen my boat? SW Florida Facebook group helps find missing vessels after Ian” via Omar Rodríguez-Ortiz of the Miami Herald — Hundreds if not thousands of boats have been spotted in unusual places across Southwest Florida after Hurricane Ian’s historic storm surge swept them away last week. In the middle of the street, in the parking lot of an apartment complex and in people’s backyards are some of the sites where these vessels have been found. While some people are looking for their missing yacht or Jet Ski, others have random boats sitting on their lawns, a potential hazard if they tilt or leak fuel.

Indialantic Mayor accused of striking man with rake during Hurricane Ian cleanup” via Andrew Krietz of WTSP — The Mayor of Indialantic was arrested for allegedly shoving a leaf rake into the face of another man while cleaning up after Hurricane Ian. David Berkman was taken into custody Friday, Sept. 30, and charged with battery, records show. Berkman and another man were in Orlando Park, and, at some point, the Mayor made comments about “kicking his ass,” the arrest report reads. Soon after, the other man reportedly began recording him.

Strange scenes of Ian: From a doorbell camera” via Rebecca Halleck and Audra D.S. Burch of The New York Times — Hurricane Ian’s menace sent homeowners around Florida scurrying to safer parts while their technology stood sentry. Home camera security systems served as the unflinching eyes and ears for anxious people whose homes were in the storm’s wide and teetering path. The combination of sights and sounds captured by the popular systems forged the strangest feeling, both destabilizing and reassuring at the same time: From other parts of Florida or other states altogether homeowners watched one of the most powerful storms to ever strike Florida as a kind of ominous theater.

— 2022 —

Hurricane Ian’s toll poses another hurdle for election officials in Florida” via Neil Vigdor of The New York Times — Officials said that they still expected that counties would meet a Thursday deadline to mail absentee ballots. Election officials nationwide have been grappling with threats, misinformation and the pressure of handling higher numbers of mail-in ballots during the pandemic. Now, some in Florida also have to function with hurricane damage. “For many voters, their regular polling location will not be available,” Tommy Doyle, supervisor of elections in Lee County, said. Election officials in Lee County said that the loss of power and disruptions to cellphone service were hampering their damage assessments.

‘Politics are going to get injected’: Days after Ian, campaigns roar back to life” via Alex Roarty and Bianca Padró Ocasio of the Miami Herald — Even one of the state’s worst natural disasters couldn’t keep politics at bay for long in Florida. Many campaigns are roaring back to life this week, eager to resume politicking just days after many candidates were more focused on helping affected residents survive and recover from the storm. And increasingly, they’re comfortable using the hurricane, and public officials’ response to it, as part of their effort, with little more than a month to go before Election Day and mail-ballot voting already underway. “Gov. DeSantis would rather play politics than do the job he was elected to do,” Crist said in a statement Monday.

DeSantis takes over the national conversation” via Amie Parnes of The Hill — DeSantis, seen as a top contender for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, is firmly at the center of the national news cycle. He made headlines initially by choice when he had dozens of migrants flown from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard. As that controversy continued to unfold, DeSantis found himself at the center over his state’s preparations — and then the response — to Hurricane Ian, which hit Florida hard. Since then, DeSantis has remained in the national consciousness with daily news conferences carried live on national news networks. “In politics, you want visibility almost more than anything else,” one Democratic strategist acknowledged of the Governor’s constant presence on the political stage recently. “And it’s safe to say he’s gotten that visibility more than almost any national figure these days.”

Ron DeSantis is turning up everywhere … and on the national stage.

DeSantis has banked more than $100M. Why is GOP Governors group giving him even more?” via Ben Wieder of the Miami Herald — The Republican Governors Association touts the return on investment it offers donors by spending smartly on races. So far this year, though, the group has given the most money to an incumbent candidate sitting on the biggest pile of cash of any Governor in the country: DeSantis. According to the group’s most recent financial filing, which covers the first half of 2022, Friends of Ron DeSantis was the single biggest recipient of cash from the RGA, raking in $8.75 million in the first six months of 2022.

Florida GOP puts $313K into DeSantis, Cabinet ads — The Republican Party of Florida has spent another $313,345 on ads supporting the re-election campaigns of DeSantis, Attorney General Ashley Moody and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis. The 3 PAC buy covers cable ads airing today through Monday in nine Florida media markets. The largest portion — $77,764 — is being directed to the Tampa media market, followed by Orlando at $73,036. Networks in the buy include CNN, ESPN, Food Network, Fox News, Hallmark, HGTV, The History Channel and Investigation Discovery.

Crist ad targets high insurance costs under DeSantis — Crist’s gubernatorial campaign has released a new ad criticizing DeSantis for rising homeowners insurance rates and for “raising taxes on Floridians by a billion dollars.” The former Governor then juxtaposes DeSantis’ record with his own. “When I was your Governor, we reduced insurance rates by 10% and cut property taxes by over a billion dollars,” he says in the ad. Crist also highlights his support for abortion rights. “I trust the women of Florida and you can trust me to defend your freedom to choose, to take on the big insurance companies, and lower costs for you.”

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

Naomi Blemur suspends Ag Commish campaign, cites Ian relief effort” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Blemur has suspended her campaign, citing her decision to commit to Hurricane Ian recovery efforts. Blemur, whose campaign was limping through the General Election after enduring a scandal-filled Primary Election, said she is offering her service to DeSantis in regions affected by the Category 4 hurricane. She first announced the suspension via tweet Monday evening but followed up with a news release Tuesday morning. “In light of the destruction caused by Hurricane Ian, we need to put aside politics and focus on what is important — recovering our communities and bringing immediate help to everyone who is in need right now,” Blemur said.

NRCC drops $103K on Anna Paulina Luna ads — The National Republican Congressional Committee has booked $102,600 in ad time supporting Luna’s campaign in Florida’s 13th Congressional District. According to AdImpact, the buy will place ads on broadcast networks in the Tampa market starting Thursday and running through Monday. Luna is running against Democratic nominee Eric Lynn for the Pinellas-based seat, which is open this year due to Crist running for Governor rather than re-election. The redrawn district has a Republican advantage, though the seat is expected to be competitive in November.

Republicans, community leaders denounce ad depicting Corey Simon on shooting target” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Blowback is continuing against Florida Democratic Party officials for a mailer that showed a picture of Republican Senate candidate Simon on a shooting target, a depiction deemed racist by some. Senate President-designate Kathleen Passidomo asked Minority Leader Lauren Book to denounce the mailer and remove a spokesperson who defended the advertisement. The Florida Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee paid for and distributed the advertisement targeting Simon, the challenger to Democratic Sen. Ausley in Northwest Florida’s Senate District 3. Simon is a Black man, and critics have called the mailer insensitive at best and racist at worst.

Property insurance, Disney district dissolution dominate HD 45 debate” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Questions about homeowners insurance opened a Tiger Bay of Central Florida event, with Republican Carolina Amesty and Democrat Allie Braswell taking significantly different approaches to the crisis. The matter held particular weight as thousands in the district make claims over damage caused by wind and storm flooding from Hurricane Ian. Amesty said false claims created an environment where insurers continue to pull out of the state. Braswell expressed frustration that the Legislature hasn’t been able to find any resolution even after insurance loomed large the last two Sessions and during a Special Session this year.


Democratic legislators demand feds probe DeSantis’ migrant flights” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — A coalition of Democratic legislators is demanding that the Biden administration investigate DeSantis for his administration’s migrant transport program. DeSantis’ decision last month to send two planes with about 50 migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard (with a Florida stopover on the itinerary) spurred letters urging action from Reps. Dotie Joseph and Anna V. Eskamani, undersigned by two state Senators, House Democratic leadership, and 23 other House Democrats.

DeSantis could have made lawmakers reduce insurance rates by $150 a year. He was attacking immigrants instead.” via Jason Garcia of Seeking Rents — On Jan. 27 of this year, partway through the 2022 Session, lawmakers had the chance to save Florida homeowners an estimated $150 a year on the price of their property insurance. The plan came from a Republican member of the Florida Senate. But lobbyists for big insurance front groups fought it. What had the Governor’s attention that day? His office was working with lawmakers on a different DeSantis priority — a blustery anti-immigration bill attacking private companies that transport migrant children seeking asylum. DeSantis spends a lot of time picking fights over divisive policy issues like immigration, racism and gender identity. But DeSantis doesn’t seem to spend nearly as much time trying to solve Florida’s tougher economic problems — like homeowner’s insurance rates that are now the highest in the country and nearly triple the national average.

Ron DeSantis could have lowered property insurance, but he had culture wars to fight.

PSC approves utility storm hardening plans — The Florida Public Service Commission on Tuesday gave its approval to storm-hardening plans submitted by Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy, Tampa Electric and Florida Public Utilities. The plans include measures, such as undergrounding power lines, which are aimed at preventing outages caused by storms or other natural disasters. The project costs are ultimately passed onto ratepayers. PSC will hold meetings Oct. 25-28 to determine how much implementing the plan will cost utility customers on their monthly bills.

State, abortion providers set to square off in court over fines from 24-hour waiting period violations” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — Florida health care regulators will go to court in the coming weeks to defend their move to hit three abortion clinics with a cumulative $237,000 in fines. Those penalties were levied after the regulators were accused of violating a state law that requires women to wait 24 hours before obtaining an abortion and mandating clinics obtain informed written consent from a patient before providing the procedure. The Agency for Health Care Administration is fining the Center of Orlando for Women $193,000 for the alleged violations, a move that will likely bankrupt the abortion provider.

DeSantis administration’s proposed new autism rules challenged in state court” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — A proposed rule pushed by DeSantis’ administration that would require poor children with autism to undergo comprehensive diagnostic evaluations twice a year to receive applied behavioral analysis (ABA) services has been challenged in state administrative court. Florida Association of Behavior Analysis (FABA) challenged the proposed rule in state administrative court, arguing that it violates federal Medicaid law because it will slow down access to care and it will increase providers’ operating costs. The group is also arguing that the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) overstepped its authority.


Conservative Supreme Court justices consider making it easier to defend against racial gerrymandering claims” via Lawrence Hurley of NBC News — Conservative Supreme Court justices on Tuesday probed whether to weaken the landmark Voting Rights Act, enacted to protect minority voters, as the high court considered a dispute over Alabama’s congressional district map. Alabama’s Republican Attorney General, Steve Marshall, is asking the court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority, to unravel decades of precedent on how to remedy concerns that the power of Black voters is being diluted by dividing voters into districts where white voters dominate. Liberal justices led by the new member, Ketanji Brown Jackson, were outspoken in defending the current law.

The Supreme Court seeks to weigh in on racial gerrymandering.

Inside the GOP’s heated, leaky race to lead a powerful House panel” via Olivia Beavers of POLITICO — Vern Buchanan‘s GOP colleagues have an anonymous warning for his campaign to lead a powerful House panel: It’s not locked up yet. While early reports indicated the Floridian had the votes for the top GOP spot on the Ways and Means Committee shored up, there are signs Rep. Jason Smith, a Missouri Republican, has gained ground. He’s aggressively working members of the House Steering Committee — who will decide who gets the plum position — and touting higher fundraising numbers.

CCC to host fundraiser for Todd Young — Lobbying firm Capital City Consulting is hosting a fundraiser to support the re-election campaign of GOP U.S. Sen. Todd Young of Indiana later this month. The event will be held Oct. 24 at 6 p.m. and the invitation lists the venue as Portosole in Coral Gables and bills the event as an Executive Roundtable & Dinner. The host committee includes CCC co-founder Nick Iarossi as well as Miami-Dade Commissioner Rene Garcia, Emily and Eric Hargan, Lee Hughes, Ashley Keller and Carlos Zaffirini. RSVPs can be made through Sydney Groves by emailing [email protected] or calling (317) 442-4207.


In Donald Trump White House, classified records routinely mishandled, aides say” via Shane Harris, Josh Dawsey, Ellen Nakashima and Jacqueline Alemany of The Washington Post — Aides who had worked in Trump’s White House were not surprised this summer when the FBI found highly classified material in boxes at Mar-a-Lago, mixed with news clippings and other items. They’d seen such haphazard collections before. During his four years in office, Trump never strictly followed the rules and customs for handling sensitive government documents. He took transcripts of his calls with foreign leaders as well as photos and charts used in his intelligence briefings to his private residence with no explanation.

The Donald Trump White House was a little loose with records.

Trump files $475 million defamation lawsuit against CNN” via The Associated Press — Trump on Monday sued CNN, seeking $475 million in damages, saying the network had defamed him in an effort to short-circuit any future political campaign. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, focuses primarily on the term “The Big Lie” about Trump’s false claims of widespread fraud that he says cost him the 2020 presidential election to Biden. Trump repeatedly attacked CNN as President, which resonated with his conservative followers. He has similarly filed lawsuits against big tech companies with little success.


‘He will stand up’: Transit workers union backs Jorge Fors Jr. for Miami-Dade Commission” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Miami-Dade County’s largest labor union representing transit workers is backing Coral Gables Commissioner Fors Jr.’s bid for County Hall. On Tuesday, Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 291 announced it is supporting Fors, who is running for the District 6 seat on the Miami-Dade County Commission. “TWU Local 291 is an organization built on trust and we support County Commission candidates who have demonstrated integrity and a commitment to the community and its labor force,” President Jeffrey Mitchell said in a statement.

Transit workers are all aboard with Jorge Fors.

UM wins major legal battle over Shalala’s firing of No. 2 executive at medical school” via Jay Weaver of the Miami Herald — The University of Miami won a major legal battle Tuesday against a former top medical school official who accused ex-President Donna Shalala of firing him a decade ago in retaliation for ordering an independent investigation of excessive billing in an organ-testing lab at the school’s renowned transplant institute. Former Chief Operating Officer Jonathan “Jack” Lord was hoping a federal jury would award him millions of dollars in back pay and other damages dating back to his firing.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

St. Petersburg extended its state of emergency after Hurricane Ian. Here’s why” via Colleen Wright of the Tampa Bay Times — The worst of Hurricane Ian may have dodged St. Petersburg, but Mayor Ken Welch on Saturday night extended the city’s state of emergency. The emergency order now runs through Sunday to give the city enough time to review debris removal contracts and Federal Emergency Management Agency regulations to ensure that the city qualifies for reimbursement, said interim city spokesperson Ashley Bauman. Some public facilities, including Tropicana Field, Albert Whitted Airport, the Municipal Service Center and the South Core and Mid Core garages, suffered minor damage. Officials counted 79 traffic lights that went out, which were remedied through a combination of generators, temporary four-way stops and police traffic control, Bauman said.

Tampa man accused of breaking into Hurricane Ian relief trucks, stealing tools” via Amy Ghert of the Tampa Bay Times — A 35-year-old Tampa man was arrested after police say he broke into two disaster relief vehicles and stole power tools early Tuesday morning. Officers were called to a hurricane relief staging area at 701 E. Bird St. around 4:30 a.m. after security workers reported catching a man trying to break into vehicles and detained him. Investigators determined the man, identified as Bryan Antonio Cirino Ortiz, had stolen power tools from a Ford F-250 Super Duty pickup truck and a bucket truck.


Democrats tout agenda at Tiger Bay absent Republican opponents” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Some of the closest General Election campaigns will take place in Central Florida this year. But in three of four races with debates scheduled at Tiger Bay this week, only Democrats showed up. Democrats Joy Goff-Marcil, Carlos Guillermo Smith and Rishi Bagga ended up instead doing a panel together. Smith, the incumbent Representative running in House District 37, took issue with his Republican opponent, Susan Plasencia, refusing to attend. “Just finished a Tiger Bay debate where my GOP opponent, again did not show up to defend her extreme anti-abortion agenda,” he tweeted.

You can’t call it a debate when only one party shows up. Photo by Jacob Ogles.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor endorses Pinellas County Commissioner Pat Gerard for re-election — “Pat Gerard works hard every day with community leaders, elected officials, and businesses across the Tampa Bay region to deliver for the people of Pinellas County,” Castor said. “Her dedication to practical problem-solving and building bridges between communities is exactly what we need from our leaders.” Six other Tampa Bay area leaders joined Castor: Former Education Commissioner Betty Castor, former CFO Alex Sink, Rep. Michele Rayner and Hillsborough County Commissioners Harry Cohen, Pat Kemp, and Kimberly Overman. Gerard, who has never lost an election, has garnered 30 endorsements from officials like Crist and St Petersburg Mayor Welch.

Brian Scott announces ‘Stuff the Bus’ drive to aid Hurricane Ian survivors” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Scott has announced a “Stuff the Bus” event to provide aid to those impacted by Hurricane Ian. The supply drive will provide needed aid and resources to individuals displaced by the storm as well as first responders. “We are working with community partners to supply necessary supplies like water, first aid kits, and personal hygiene supplies to those who are displaced as a result of Hurricane Ian. Now is the time to focus on rebuilding and recovering together, and I am proud we have the resources to help with that. Please join us this week, and let’s stuff that bus.”


Did Anna Maria Island’s beaches survive Hurricane Ian? ‘Zero loss,’ county says” via Ryan Ballogg of the Bradenton Herald — In good news for beach lovers and sea turtles, it appears that the postcard-famous beaches of Anna Maria Island survived Hurricane Ian’s wrath very much intact. The storm’s path through Southwest Florida was at one point anticipated to bring extreme wind and surge conditions to the barrier islands of Manatee and Sarasota counties. Ian’s shift south brought a major reprieve for Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key, though the islands still saw some significant damage from the storm. On Sunday, Manatee County parks staff said that the terrain of the county’s beaches was virtually untouched by Ian. The county government reports that measurements from 25 different sites along the coastline revealed there was “essentially zero loss” of sandy beach areas, both in width and depth.

One SW Florida town made it relatively unscathed. Image via Leslie Lake of the Anna Maria Island Sun.

Bradenton, Sarasota businesses off I-75 are busier as Hurricane Ian victims head north” via James A. Jones Jr. of the Bradenton Herald — Workers at Bradenton area gas stations, and along University Parkway near Interstate 75, were seeing more customers Monday from hard-hit Lee, Charlotte, and southern Sarasota counties. More than 266,000 FPL customers from those three counties were still without electricity on Monday. On the south side of State Road 70, across from RaceTrac, a 7-Eleven was still temporarily closed Monday morning, and all of its gas pumps were covered in what looked like shrink wrap. At the Wawa, 5208 University Parkway, next to Whole Foods, every pump was taken, and cars and trucks jockeyed for position to fill up next.

Lee Schools gives update on reopening plans after Hurricane Ian, no decisions made” via Nikki Ross of the Fort Myers News-Press — The Lee County School District has started to formulate potential plans for the reopening of schools following Hurricane Ian, but dates are not yet determined. On Tuesday afternoon, Superintendent Christopher Bernier gave an update to the school board during its meeting on the state of the district’s schools. “Last Wednesday we were ground zero for Hurricane Ian,” Bernier said. “We are doing everything possible to make sure staff and students are safe.” While inspecting Fort Myers Beach Elementary and the Sanibel School this week, Bernier said the water had risen above the roofs of the buildings. These are two of three schools he said he anticipates won’t reopen. The third is Hector A. Cafferatta, Jr. Elementary School in Cape Coral.

Lee County deputy rescues Galapagos tortoises on Fort Myers Beach” via Daisy Ruth of WFLA — A deputy in Lee County rescued Galapagos tortoises on Fort Myers Beach following Hurricane Ian’s devastation. The Lee County Sheriff’s Office posted a photo of deputy Jim Vanpelt with the turtles in the back of a pickup truck on Facebook Tuesday. Hurricane Ian rocked the southwest portion of the state as a Category 4 hurricane, making landfall last Wednesday. Those in the area, including in Lee County, are still recovering.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

Nassau County adds support to rural broadband push in Legislature” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — Before Hurricane Ian showed up last week, Nassau County officials looked ahead to the 2023 Legislative Session and what assistance the county would ask of its new legislators. In a growing county and region, infrastructure leads the list. The Commissioners’ recommendations are going to the Northeast Florida Regional Council, where Nassau County and other local governments in the region can pool their collective needs and influence. Commissioner John Martin is the county’s representative on the Council.

Nassau County joins the battle for rural broadband.

Likely next Santa Rosa Commissioner files defamation suit against political consultant over domestic violence accusation” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Smith is suing Tallahassee consultant Mark Zubaly over a campaign mailer accusing Smith of a history of domestic violence. The advertisement, which falsely claims Smith has been found guilty of domestic violence multiple times, compared Smith to a high-profile investigation into the death of a Navarre Beach mother whose ex-boyfriend is still in jail over the case. “Mr. Smith has never been found guilty of domestic violence and has never been found guilty of violating probation,” according to the lawsuit. “Most importantly, Mr. Smith has never been found guilty of harming or battering a woman.”


Why didn’t Lee County evacuate sooner — and 6 other questions after Hurricane Ian” via the Miami Herald editorial board — Though it’s still too early to know exactly what happened there are far-reaching questions that need to be answered, and quickly, so we can learn from this horrific storm for the next time.

Did Lee County violate its own protocols and delay issuing mandatory evacuation orders until it was too late for some? County officials waited until Tuesday, a day later than other coastal communities, to announce evacuation orders. Some residents have complained that gave them little time to plan.

Someone needs to look into whether Lee County ignored its own protocols and what, if anything, could have prevented so many deaths.

Fort Myers was in the “cone” set by forecasters, but the storm was predicted to hit the Tampa Bay area most strongly. We’ve been told for years not to focus on the skinny black line in the middle but to take precautions if we’re in the cone. But we may need to consider a revision in the way we communicate the forecast — even beyond the cone.

Did the Governor and state emergency managers convey enough of a sense of urgency about evacuating? Personal responsibility must play a role. But which message did people listen to?

As the state shifts from shock-and-rescue mode into reconstruction and assessment of its response to this historic storm, we have to learn the terrible lessons of Ian. The best way to do that is an unflinching and transparent examination of exactly what did — and didn’t — happen.


Time to reinvent Florida once again” via Cynthia Barnett of POLITICO Magazine — Only a century ago, Sanibel Island — now famed for pristine beaches and seashells — was best known for its fruit and vegetable crops. Sanibel grapefruits won state fair prizes. Its castor beans were sold as a cure for yellow fever. Tomatoes grew so plump in the calcified soils; they fetched $1.50 a piece in New York City hotels. Then, in October 1921 and again in September 1926, deadly hurricanes churned into Sanibel, one of a string of islands ringing Charlotte Harbor where Ian, and Charley 18 years before, also charged the coast.

The identity of ‘Perla’ is revealed, creating new woes for DeSantis” via Greg Sargent of The Washington Post — The political mystique of Florida Gov. DeSantis rests partly on the illusion that he wields absolute “own the libs” mastery over the various assorted enemies the right has decided to hate these days. But new revelations about DeSantis’s flying of migrants to Martha’s Vineyard — including the unmasking of “Perla,” who allegedly scammed them into getting onto planes — show why this illusion will be increasingly difficult to pull off. The New York Times has now identified that person as Perla Huerta, describing her as a “former combat medic and counterintelligence agent.” This opens the door to a host of new inquiries that could implicate DeSantis more deeply in the scheme’s sordid aspects.

Reject four Florida Supreme Court justices” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — Of the five justices seeking merit retention, we strongly recommend a “yes” vote only for Jorge Labarga, the court’s lone moderate, whose principled but lonely dissents in high-profile cases have exposed the majority’s radical activism. The justices whose retention we oppose are DeSantis appointees John Couriel and Jamie Grosshans and the more senior Charles Canady and Ricky Polston, the nucleus of the harsh new majority. The four sitting justices he appointed won’t say if they were vetted by an entity other than the official Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission, which recommended them to DeSantis.


— ALOE —

Feels so good in South Florida and the Keys. Will the good weather last to Columbus Day?” via Howard Cohen of the Miami Herald — There are some areas of concern in terms of weather for South Florida through the week and much of it is marine-related. Coastal flooding could persist through the week into the weekend, according to forecasters at the National Weather Service in Miami. The potential flooding is related to high tides and would affect mostly low-lying and “vulnerable” spots on the Atlantic coast. The Keys could also see some minor saltwater flooding of low elevation streets and lots, especially on Tuesday.

The weather is nice. How long will that last?

Witches top list of Floridians’ favorite Halloween décor — A new report from Lombardo Homes reveals the top Halloween decorations in every state. In Florida, the most beloved symbol of the holiday is one of the classics — a witch. Florida shares the favorite with seven other states, including fellow southern states Mississippi and Louisiana. Other popular decorations included carved pumpkins, skeletons, tombstones, and witch cauldrons, which are apparently categorized separately from their owners. Curiously, a clown is the top décor option in two states, Nebraska and South Dakota. The Lombardo Homes report also included other fun Halloween stats, including that 39% of Americans start putting up their decorations in the first week of October and the average celebrant spends $61 on decorations.


Celebrating today are Chris Hart, Trey Price, my friend Gregory Wilson, and Joe York, INFLUENCE 100’er and one of the best in The Process.


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, Renzo Downey, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Kelly Hayes, Joe Henderson, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Andrew Wilson, Wes Wolfe, and Mike Wright.

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