Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 10.24.22

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Your morning review of the issues and players behind Florida politics.

Good Monday morning.

Florida Chamber of Commerce’s 2022 Future of Florida Forum kicks off today in Orlando with an agenda packed with dozens of business and thought leaders.

Florida Chamber President and CEO Mark Wilson will open the event with a presentation on where the state currently stands in terms of the Florida 2030 Blueprint — the organization’s cornerstone project focused on growing Florida into one of the top 10 economies worldwide.

It’s that time again — to look into Florida’s future.

He’ll be followed by some of the Chamber’s top researchers, who will give an overview of how the state’s demographics and political leanings have shifted in recent years, and where the trendlines point for the future. Florida Chamber Foundation research director Dave Sobush will also unveil an updated version of the Florida Gap Map.

But Day One won’t be all about data and tools. After the Chamber sets the scene, renowned concert artist Jade Simmons will deliver a keynote titled “The Smell of Breakthrough” after which attendees will be treated to a slate of informative presentations and panel discussions.

Talent is a top focus in Monday’s programming, and there are segments scheduled for all aspects of developing the workforce of tomorrow — kindergarten readiness, vocational education, degree attainment, and more.

Among the first panels is “Talent Reimagined: Reclaiming the American Dream,” which will feature Cottage Four founder and second chance hiring expert John Koufos and Fifth Third Bank Chief Investment Strategist Jeff Korzenik.

Later, Lockheed Martin production operations head Pat Sunderlin, UCF President Alexander Cartwright and Valencia College President Kathleen Plinske will take part in a panel titled “Talent Street: On the Corner of Education and Innovation.”

Later portions of Monday’s agenda delve into infrastructure issues, including presentations on how Florida can capitalize off seismic shifts in global trade and logistics.


Lincoln Project ad labels Ron DeSantis’ ‘intimidation’ vs. ‘favoritism’ as ‘tyranny’” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — The Lincoln Project is accusing DeSantis of favoritism with Florida’s election process, summing up his actions as “tyranny.” Bearing that word as its title, a new ad released Monday from the Lincoln Project pillories DeSantis for creating the state election police unit and providing flexibility to three Republican stronghold counties directly hit by Hurricane Ian. It’s part of a dichotomy the Republican “Never-Trump” PAC tries to paint between voter intimidation and favoritism. “DeSantis uses fear and intimidation against voters he doesn’t like and favoritism for those he does,” according to the ad. “That’s not democracy. That’s not voter integrity. Florida knows what to call it: tyranny.”

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


A couple of other notes:

🐯 — Gov. DeSantis growls like a tiger, governs like a kitten: That’s the takeaway from Jason Garcia’s latest “Seeking Rents” podcast in which he disputes the notion that DeSantis is waging a “war on corporate America.” The episode, an easily consumed 22 minutes, looks at DeSantis’ governing record as it relates to big business, including cutting taxes on corporate profits and handing out favors to some of Florida’s biggest players. The insider’s look at DeSantis’ record on policy builds up to one simple solution which hasn’t been addressed: close corporate tax loopholes. Listen here.

👀 — Polls to watch: The latest public polling shows Republicans pulling ahead on the generic ballot, according to FiveThirtyEight. An aggregate of polls shows voters preferring Republicans in Congress by a half percentage point. Meanwhile, A Monmouth survey showed the GOP with a six-point advantage among registered voters (50%-44%), with more Republicans “extremely motivated” to vote (64%) than Democrats (59%).

👁️ — “DEP air quality data shows emissions in Florida are the lowest on record” via Florida Politics — Emissions in the state of Florida are the lowest on record, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), despite seasonal impacts from Saharan dust and wildfires. On Oct. 13, for example, the DEP website noted good air quality in every region it monitors, from the Panhandle to South Florida. Throughout the year, air quality in the state has consistently met hourly air quality standards and only occasionally exceeded daily standards, according to monthly monitoring reports. Sugar-cane farmers in South Florida burn their crops before harvest from October to late May, which has prompted concerns from some in South Florida. However, data from the DEP shows above-average air quality year-round in the Glades.


@KyLamb8: Lower row among the elites, no masks. Everyone else … masked. There is no better evidence of masking being no more than control than CCP summit.

@MMurrayPolitics: Headlines from new national NBC News poll. 1. Election interest is at an all-time for a midterm, with 70% of reg. voters expressing high interest (was 65% in October 2018) But Republicans have regained the enthusiasm edge — with 78% of GOPers having high interest vs. 69% of Dems … 2. Political polarization is off the charts. 81% of Democratic voters and 79% of Republican voters believe the political opposition poses a threat that, if not stopped, will destroy America as we know it.

Tweet, tweet:

@GovRonDeSantis: In September, our unemployment rate decreased to 2.5%, a full point lower than the national unemployment rate — for 22 consecutive months Florida’s unemployment rate has been lower than the nation’s. This is the second lowest in Florida’s history.

@Jason_Garcia: Ron DeSantis is “leading the vanguard of Republicans who are no longer going to snap to big business,” said … *checks notes* a dude at a giant lobbying firm that represents Amazon, Google and Big Sugar.

@Fineout: Fundraising email from @marcorubio campaign: “Marco’s race is currently tied …” Most recent polls have Rubio up by six points

@DaneEagle: SWFL is resilient. I’ve heard countless stories of people rising up against all odds to not let Ian get the final say. @DocFords FMB has been devastated, yet they are working overtime to rebuild in hopes to serve their community & employees again by Thanksgiving. Incredible.

Tweet, tweet:


Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 1; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 1; City & State Florida Digital Summit — 3; 2022 General Election — 15; ‘The Crown’ Season 5 returns — 16; ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ premieres — 18; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 18; FITCon 2022 begins — 24; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 24; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 28; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 31; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 40; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 40; 2022 Florida Chamber Annual Insurance Summit — 42; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 43; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 53; final Broadway performance of ‘The Music Man’ with Hugh Jackman — 69; Bruce Springsteen launches his 2023 tour in Tampa — 100; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 116; final performance of ‘Phantom of the Opera’ on Broadway — 117; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 134; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 152; American Association of Political Consultants Pollies ’23 conference begins — 176; 2023 Session Sine Die — 193; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 193; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 221; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 270; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 375; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 522; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 578; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 641; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 641; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 683; ‘Deadpool 3’ premieres — 746; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 844; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 921. ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,110.


In his bid for re-election, DeSantis has courted a majority of Hispanic voters, according to a new survey of the Latino electorate.

DeSantis leads Democratic challenger Charlie Crist 51%-44% among Hispanics with just over two weeks left in his re-election race, according to the Telemundo/LX News: FL Hispanic Voter Poll. The poll, conducted Monday through Thursday last week by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy, is more evidence Florida Republicans are consolidating the Hispanic vote.

The poll results show flipped fortunes for Republicans among Hispanics from just four years ago. According to CNN exit polling from 2018, former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum took 54% of the Latino vote against DeSantis’ 44% that year.

Charlie Crist’s running mate Karla Hernández visits Key West Sunday to speak with voters at Cornish Memorial AME Zion Church.

Per the Telemundo/LX News poll, which surveyed voters who said they were likely to vote in the Midterm, DeSantis’ strength among Latinos comes almost entirely from those with Cuban backgrounds, winning that electorate 72%-22%. Crist leads Puerto Ricans 59%-37% and other Hispanic voters 53%-43%.

DeSantis also has the support of 56% of Hispanics who were born in another country and a plurality, 48%, of Hispanics born in the United States.

DeSantis also leads male voters 54%-40% and voters 50 and older 54%-42%. The candidates split female voters (48% each) and voters 49 and younger (47% each).

Among Hispanic independents, DeSantis enjoys a 56%-34% lead.

The poll also found DeSantis with a positive 15% net approval rating among Hispanic voters and surveyed voters on various current events.

DeSantis’ worst performance on the issues came on his decision to fly Venezuelan migrants from San Antonio, Texas, to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. Hispanic voters approve of the flights by 50%-43%.

Voters gave DeSantis a positive 30% net approval on his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, a 17% positive on housing and property insurance, and 56% positive on his response to Hurricane Ian.

— 2022 —

Last call for truth in race for Governor” via Steve Bousquet of the South Florida Sun Sentinel — This Monday will be the day of the only statewide debate between Republican Gov. DeSantis and Democratic challenger Crist — a time when already one in 14 Florida voters have cast their ballot via mail-in. Crist will have one hour to make the case for why DeSantis should not be re-elected. While there’s no shortage of points, he has so little time. Crist should focus on abortion though, as a subject DeSantis does not like to talk about publicly, which is why Crist needs to hammer at it relentlessly. Ultimately, it’s not about who’s watching, but whether a key moment is amplified in the national media in a way that could shift public perceptions about this election.

On the debate stage, Charlie Crist gets one shot at Ron DeSantis.

Assignment editorsKarla Hernández holds get-out-the-vote events, before joining Andrew Warren and “Women for Crist” for a “Choice is the Choice” rally ahead of the gubernatorial debate: 8 a.m., early voting kickoff event, Coral Gables; 11 a.m., early voting kickoff event, North Miami; 5:15 p.m. pre-debate rally, Fort Pierce. Locations upon RSVP at [email protected]

ICYMICharlie Crist Campaign Manager arrested in domestic incident before resignation” via Alex Roarty of The Miami Herald — The manager for Crist’s gubernatorial campaign was arrested shortly before he resigned from the campaign this week in a domestic violence case. Austin Durrer was charged with second-degree assault Tuesday in Maryland, according to court records. Durrer announced his resignation Thursday, citing a family matter as his reason for moving.

—“3 reasons DeSantis is going to win in November, and 3 reasons he’ll lose” via Kirby Wilson and Emily L. Mahoney of the Tampa Bay Times

Val Demings earns Orlando firefighters union endorsement” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — An Orlando firefighters union is endorsing U.S. Rep. Demings in her bid to unseat U.S. Sen. Rubio. The Orlando Professional Fire Fighters, the local branch of the International Association of Firefighters, gave their support to the Orlando Democrat and former city Police Chief during a Friday news conference at Union Hall. “Chief Demings has always been a champion for first responders here in Florida, and we’re proud to endorse her for the United States Senate,” Local 1365 President Ron Glass said.

On Sunday, Val Demings began the day by rallying fired-up voters in Pensacola.

Assignment editors — Demings continues her Panhandle-to-the-Keys tour: 11 a.m., voter meet-and-greet with Mayor Enid Weisman, Aventura; 12:45 p.m., early vote press availability with Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Miramar; 2 p.m., early vote meet-and-greet, Miami Gardens. Locations upon RSVP at [email protected].

Happening today — Early voting begins in Alachua, Bay, Bradford, Brevard, Broward, Calhoun, Charlotte, DeSoto, Duval, Escambia, Flagler, Franklin, Gadsden, Hendry, Hillsborough, Indian River, Jefferson, Lake, Lee, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Manatee, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Okaloosa, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Santa Rosa, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Lucie and Taylor counties. All counties are required to offer early voting from Oct. 29 to Nov. 5 but have the option to begin as soon as today.

Shot — “GOP voters told to hold on to mail ballots until Election Day” via The Associated Press — Republican activists who believe the 2020 Election was stolen have crafted a plan that, in their telling, will prevent cheating in this year’s Midterms. The plan: wait till Election Day to cast a ballot. The reasoning: based on unfounded conspiracy theories, which deduce that fraudsters will manipulate voting systems to rig results for Democrats once they have seen how many Republican votes have been returned early. There has been no evidence of any such widespread fraud. And it could impact Election Day with long lines and processing if enough voters are dissuaded from casting ballots early.

Chaser — “Florida Republicans voting by mail at higher clip than Democrats ahead of early voting” via Sheridan Wall of The Miami Herald — As Florida prepares for early voting to begin Monday, vote-by-mail turnout so far shows a higher ballot return rate for Republicans, though more Democrats have requested absentee ballots. As of Friday, more than 1 million Floridians had voted by mail. That’s just shy of a quarter of the roughly 4.2 million voters who requested a vote-by-mail ballot. Nearly 29% of Republicans who requested to vote by mail in the upcoming General Election have returned their ballots, compared to about 24% of Democrats. While those mail ballot numbers could indicate more enthusiasm among Republicans, it’s still too soon to draw conclusions about overall turnout.


Florida to play big role in battle for Congress, even if races are drama-free” via Alex Roarty of the Miami Herald — In a departure from previous elections, Florida features only a handful of competitive federal races in next month’s midterm election, with most seats solidly within either party’s control. Gone are expectations of down-to-the-wire finishes, surges in the national interest and deep-pocketed spending from super PACs that once marked the state every two years. Even the state’s U.S. Senate race between Rubio and Demings has failed to generate the usual involvement from the country’s biggest political groups.

Matt Gaetz, Rebekah Jones debate over health care for veterans” via Fresh Take Florida — U.S. Rep. Gaetz and Jones argued over the best health care for service members and veterans in the military-heavy, deeply conservative 1st Congressional District in Florida’s Panhandle during the campaign’s only debate. Jones, a Democrat and political newcomer, promised construction of a new Veterans Affairs hospital in northwest Florida during her first term if she were elected — an extraordinarily tall order for a first-term lawmaker. Jones also falsely exaggerated her campaign’s fundraising prowess. “If I do nothing else in my first term, it will be to get that hospital built,” she said.

To watch highlights of the debate, please click on the image below:

DeSantis endorses Anna Paulina Luna in CD 13” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — DeSantis is choosing Luna as his preferred future Pinellas County Congressperson. In a statement released Saturday by the Republican Party of Pinellas County, DeSantis named her as a fighter against President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Luna, an Air Force veteran turned conservative activist, is locked in a dogfight with Eric Lynn, a former national security adviser in the Barack Obama administration, as they race for Florida’s 13th Congressional District. “Anna Paulina Luna is a principled fighter that Pinellas County can count on to fight the Pelosi/Biden spending spree that’s driving 40-year high inflation,” DeSantis said in a statement.

Vern Buchanan’s humble beginnings, American Dream success story featured in new television ad” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — “His was an unlikely success story.” Those are the first words you hear in a new sixty-second commercial by Congressman Buchanan’s campaign for Florida’s 16th Congressional District, which tells the story of Buchanan’s rags-to-riches success story and his present-day fight to keep the American Dream alive. The ad features footage from Washington D.C., Florida and Inkster, Michigan where Buchanan and his five siblings were raised in a 900-square-foot home. It tells the story of how Buchanan’s father drove a school bus and worked in the factory to support his family. “A lot of politicians can talk about the American Dream, but few can say they’ve actually lived it,” said Max Goodman, Buchanan’s consultant who produced the ad.

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

Wilfredo Allen, JC Planas star in new Annette Taddeo ad — A new ad for Taddeo’s CD 27 campaign features immigration attorney Allen and GOP former Rep. Planas saying that even though they voted for incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar in the past, they’ll be casting their ballots for Taddeo in 2022. The two men cite Salazar’s support for abortion restrictions and higher taxes on the middle class. Planas also said Salazar “has not done a good job standing up to socialism” but that Taddeo, a Democrat, “has always been an independent voice, making sure that everyone has an opportunity to live the American dream.”

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


Assignment editors — Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book, incumbent Sen. Loranne Ausley, Rep. Joy Goff-Marcil, and candidates Janelle Perez and Raquel Pacheco will make an announcement in a virtual news conference: 10 a.m. Zoom link here.

Allie Braswell touts endorsements from longtime Orange County leaders” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Much of Orange County’s Democratic establishment has come out in force for Braswell, a former Central Florida Urban League president. State Attorney Monique Worrell just backed the Winter Garden Democrat, joining former Orange County Mayor Linda Chapin. Stan Van Gundy, a former coach for the Orlando Magic, held a fundraiser this week for the candidate. Democratic Leader-Designate Fentrice Driskell is also set to come to town and fight for the candidate. Braswell faces Windermere Republican Carolina Amesty, who enjoys better financial resources but just won a divisive GOP Primary.

Allie Braswell gets the backing of powerful Orange County leaders.

Hispanic GOP leaders rally around Carolina Amesty” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Hispanic conservative leaders in Central Florida have started rallying around Republican Amesty’s HD 45 campaign. “Carolina Amesty makes our Hispanic community proud,” said E.J. Otero, a retired colonel and former congressional candidate. The support comes as Amesty faces Democrat Braswell. The Central Christian University executive vice president won a bitter Republican primary in August, and since then has started to consolidate Republican support behind her campaign. That has included some groups who backed opponents in the primary but support her now, like Americans for Prosperity.

‘Brazilian butt lift’ group biggest among Juan Fernandez-Barquin’s post-Primary donors’ list” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Republican Rep. Juan FernandezBarquin raised close to $33,000 in the 50 days following the Primary Election. That fundraising was largely thanks to a strong showing from doctors and medical organizations — particularly a group focused on posterior enhancements. Miami-based plastic surgeons coalition Surgeons for Safety, which in June launched a campaign to combat Florida Board of Medicine-approved restrictions on “Brazilian butt lifts,” gave Fernandez-Barquin $10,000. He also spent more than $81,000 to hold on to the HD 118 sea, which covers a narrow strip of West Miami-Dade County. Less than one month until Election Day, the incumbent held $123,000 between his campaign account and political committee, Floridians United.

Juan Fernandez-Barquin gets a lift from plastic surgeons.

State Republicans investing in self-funded reality TV star’s HD 106 bid” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — A self-funded, reality TV star making his first bid for public office is drawing state Republican support in his race to represent House District 106, as he competes with a Democrat who’s been a fixture in local government. Republican Fabian Basabe, dubbed the “male Paris Hilton” in the 2000s by New York tabloids, is now looking to represent one of the wealthiest House districts in the state. But he’s going to have to defeat Democrat Jordan Leonard, who was elected to the Bay Harbor Islands Town Council four times. Basabe put $250,000 of his own money into his campaign and has raised a negligible amount of outside money. Leonard has received much more outside support than the Republican, raising $8,000 more in the latest period.


DeSantis cracked down on migrant labor. Then one helped coordinate his migrant flights” via Ana Ceballos and Sarah Blasket of the Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau — A 27-year-old Venezuelan migrant, unable to legally work in the U.S., was paid to help coordinate DeSantis’ controversial migrant flight program. The individual, named Emmanuel, helped find passengers to fill planes that DeSantis sent from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard. He was recruited by an agent for Vertol Systems Company, which was paid more than $1.5 million by the DeSantis administration to execute the operation. Emmanuel ended up receiving three cash payments totaling $700 from the agent for his work. Notably, this puts the Republican Governor’s high-profile stunt in conflict with his long-standing push to crack down on undocumented labor.

DeSantis seems to take Saudi side in oil beef with Joe Biden” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis waded into petroleum geopolitics Friday, offering rhetorical cover for Saudi Arabia’s recent clash with Biden. DeSantis said that the Biden administration “playing footsie” with Iran created the situation that led to OPEC production cuts. “(P)eople will say, ‘Well, the Saudis are doing this for political reasons … to go at Biden.’ And you know what, they probably are doing that. But here’s the thing: because Biden’s playing footsie with Iran, (who is) their arch enemy,” DeSantis said. “So, I don’t think the Saudis like Biden.” The Saudis aren’t the only adversarial regime being courted by The White House, DeSantis contends.

Is Ron DeSantis siding with the Saudis in the dust-up with Joe Biden?

Election fraud case against South Florida defendant dismissed” via The Associated Press — Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Milton Hirsch has dismissed the case of one of the 20 people arrested under DeSantis’ election fraud program because it did not involve multiple jurisdictions in Florida. The 20 arrested had voted in the 2020 elections after a state constitutional amendment allowed felons to have voting rights restored, except for those convicted of murder and felony sexual assault or those who still owe fines or restitution. The arrests, announced in August, were people who had been convicted on those charges and therefore ineligible under the new rules. But voting advocates say the fact that the defendants were able to successfully register with their local election officials gave them a false sense of eligibility, so the cases were unfair.

—“DeSantis admin. plans to appeal after Judge dismisses election fraud case” via Lydia Nusbaum of Florida Voice News

Lobbying group asks DeSantis to add more abortion restrictions to upcoming Special Session” via Mitch Perry of Florida Phoenix — The lobbying group Florida Voice for the Unborn has asked DeSantis to include “comprehensive legislation protecting all Florida’s unborn children” in an upcoming Special Session of the Legislature — a step further from Florida’s current 15-week abortion ban. The group’s founder Andrew Shirvell described the state as “an abortion destination state,” since the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Earlier this year, DeSantis signed legislation banning a woman’s right to an abortion after 15 weeks without exceptions. It was the first time that the state has imposed restrictions on a woman’s right to abortion since 1973.

Ex-chief justice: Florida’s broad constitutional right to privacy should block abortion ban” via Noreen Marcus of — As the Florida Supreme Court waits for draconian abortion restrictions to reach its docket, lawyers are road-testing their arguments for and against the deeply divisive law. The law’s survival depends on the elephant in the courtroom, Florida’s free-standing right to privacy. Voters amended the state constitution to add this right in 1980. The Florida Supreme Court’s interpretation of the privacy provision, laid out in a 1989 ruling that protects abortion, is at the heart of any serious discussion of state abortion law, according to former Chief Justice Harry Lee Anstead.

AG Ashley Moody crushes Big Pharma in lawsuits, wins $3.2 billion to fight opioid abuse” via Josh Miller of The Florida Standard — Moody announced historic litigation and settlements with big pharma totaling more than $3.2 Billion. A statewide settlement agreement with Walmart has also been signed and the big box giant will dispense naloxone to first responders across Florida. Moody has worked for years on litigation and negotiations to hold major opioid distributors, manufacturers, and pharmaceutical companies accountable for their role in fueling the opioid crisis.

Ashley Moody gets litigious with Big Pharma.

Planners looking to turn Florida sprawl into a development advantage” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — Florida’s need for sustainable development is at a high — and a way toward that, says Galina Tachieva of DPZ CoDESIGN, is to grab the bull of Florida sprawl by the horns and use it to our advantage. Almost 300,000 people move here every year, and it’s not expected to stop anytime soon. Lower taxes — including no state income tax — is a big draw, as are the state’s miles of coastline and warm weather. In past decades, development spread far and wide, but sprawl leaves a lot of unused space, leading planners in new directions, like redeveloping the single-use development of yesterday into the compact communities of tomorrow.


Florida Disaster Fund donates $2 million between five nonprofits” via Melissa Pérez-Carrillo of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis said during a press briefing in Sarasota that she will be partnering with Home Depot to provide funding and supplies for nonprofits aiding in Ian’s recovery efforts. DeSantis announced on Friday that $2 million from the Florida Disaster Fund will go to five nonprofits, with each receiving $400,000. The money will primarily go toward building supplies to support organizations like Better Together, Samaritan’s Purse, Southern Baptist Relief Fund, Lee BIA Builders Care, and Team Rubicon, which are assisting in rebuilding areas devastated by Ian’s impact. Since launching the Florida Disaster Fund, $50 million has been raised.

Casey DeSantis collects big checks for the Florida Disaster Fund.

Students in areas hardest hit by Hurricane Ian head to new school” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — Students at Fort Myers Beach Elementary School and Sanibel Elementary School, which remain shut down after getting swamped by Hurricane Ian last month, will now attend San Carlos Park Elementary School in inland Lee County north of Estero. DeSantis made the announcement Friday. San Carlos Park Elementary had 660 students and 62 teachers before the storm hit, DeSantis said. Now, it will have more than 1,000 students and more than 100 teachers. The school is 24 miles away from Sanibel Elementary and 16 miles from Fort Myers Beach Elementary. Many of the families who sent children to those schools are displaced from their homes, living in hotels, motels, with family nearby or in temporary shelters.

Stories of Sanibel: Residents, business owners share their experience returning after Hurricane Ian” via Samantha Neely of the Fort Myers News-Press — Mountains of debris line every street, the same heartbreaking combination of drenched furniture, battered appliances and well-loved keepsakes piled up. Sheets of metal hanging in the barren trees like garlands. Restaurants, shops and resorts that were teeming with patrons just a month ago now sit empty. Sanibel Island now looks borderline apocalyptic as residents and businesses returned home, many for the first time since Hurricane Ian’s landfall. The temporarily restored causeway was reopened Wednesday morning, giving Sanibel its lifeline back to the mainland and allowing more crews to come onto the island to continue restoration efforts.

Officials get close-up look at damaged Seminole Gulf Railway bridge in Fort Myers” via Mark H. Bickel of the Fort Myers News-Press — Broken bridges in Southwest Florida have been one of the big stories around the damage caused by Hurricane Ian. The Sanibel Island causeway and the Matlacha bridge that connects Pine Island to the mainland have gotten the most attention. And after some quick temporary repair work, those two bridges are functional again and traffic has resumed flowing back and forth to the islands. Other bridges not to be overlooked are the ones that are used by the Seminole Gulf Railway in Fort Myers and other locations in Southwest Florida.

Three weeks after Ian, hard-hit Floridians are still searching for lost pets” via Lori Rozsa of The Washington Post — Hurricane Ian killed more than 100 people in Florida, and it also impacted pets, leaving many missing and dead. Three weeks after Ian made landfall, animal rescue workers are still finding pets that disappeared and trying to connect them to their owners. The same factors that led to human deaths — late warnings, reluctance to evacuate, immense storm surge — likely caused hundreds of pets to perish, too. And it’s not just family pets. Hundreds of large farm animals were killed by high winds and floods that tore through agricultural fields. Many of the animals that survived are now dealing with unexpected side effects like skin irritations and parasitic infections, forcing owners to turn to emergency mobile units for help. UF vets say they treated more than 400 pets, including cats, dogs, goats, pigs and bearded dragons, from a parking lot in the days after Ian.


Inside the successes, missteps and failures of Biden’s early presidency” via Ashley Parker, Tyler Pager and Michael Scherer of The Washington Post — Biden gathered his advisers, with mounting frustration, as televised images and classified cables tracked in real time the unraveling of his long-planned withdrawal from Afghanistan. Even fellow Democrats, friends he had known for years, had begun to criticize the chaotic withdrawal. Just months earlier, Biden had been riding high, predicting “a summer of freedom, a summer of joy.” His approval ratings hovered in the mid-50s, the coronavirus was in retreat and economic expectations were rising. The story of Biden’s first term so far is a roller coaster — complicated and contradictory, with remarkable achievements and enormous disappointment.

Biden juggling long list of issues to please Dem coalition” via Josh Boak of The Associated Press — Biden wants to tame inflation. He wants Congress to protect access to abortions. He wants to tackle voting rights. And he’s taking on China, promoting the construction of new factories, addressing climate change, forgiving student debt, pardoning federal marijuana convictions, cutting the deficit, working to lower prescription drug prices and funneling aid to Ukraine. Biden is trying to be everything to everyone. “There’s no one thing,” Biden said Wednesday when questioned about his top priority. “There’s multiple, multiple, multiple issues, and they’re all important. … We ought to be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. You know, that old expression.”

Joe Biden should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time.

Student loan relief to move ahead despite hold, education secretary says” via Bryan Pietsch of The Washington Post — The Biden administration is moving “full speed ahead” in preparing for the implementation of its plans for widespread student debt forgiveness, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said Saturday, a day after a federal appeals court temporarily blocked the loans from being immediately canceled. Cardona called lawsuits seeking to block Biden’s debt relief program “baseless,” saying in a video posted on Twitter that the administration was “not deterred.” Biden’s plan faced its first substantive hurdle Friday evening when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit granted an administrative stay for one of the lawsuits, brought by six Republican-led states.

Biden aims to spur drilling with plan to refill oil reserves, but producers are skeptical” via Benoît Morenne of The Wall Street Journal — After releasing the most oil ever from the U.S. emergency petroleum reserve, the Biden administration is signaling it will refill soon, a multibillion-dollar undertaking that it hopes will rouse sluggish domestic drilling activity. The pitch is likely to be a hard sell for many domestic producers, say industry executives and analysts. “It’s a little bit more [complex] than this,” said Olivier Le Peuch, chief executive of oil-field services company Schlumberger Ltd.

Where are the Democratic stars? Few party leaders hit the trail.” via Tyler Pager, Annie Linskey and Cleve R. Wootson Jr. of The Washington Post — Although Biden declared Saturday that the upcoming midterms are “the most important off-year election,” he has hardly kept campaign momentum, having not held a campaign rally since before Labor Day. He has largely shied away from appearing with candidates in the most competitive races, amid worries he will drag them down with his low approval ratings. Other top Dems are following in his steps. Why? It seems few Democratic heavyweights — like Bill Clinton and VP Harris — are in demand in the political climate today. In contrast, some lower-profile Democrats, like progressive favorite Sen. Elizabeth Warren, have been better able to successfully target specific constituencies.


Donald Trump plans to challenge the 2022 Elections — starting in Philly” via Asawin Suebsaeng and Adam Rawnsley of Rolling Stone — In early September, Trump welcomed a handful of Republican allies to Trump Tower with an urgent message: He saw a “scam” happening with midterm election voting in Philadelphia and elsewhere in Pennsylvania, and he wanted conservatives to do something about it. “During our briefing, he was concerned that 2020 is going to happen again in 2022,” says former senior Trump administration official Michael Caputo, referencing Trump’s debunked assertion that voter fraud in Philadelphia helped win Pennsylvania for Biden.

Donald Trump is already prepping to contest the 2022 Midterms.

Trump’s rally schedule slows as GOP sees narrowing demand for his help” via Isaac Arnsdorf, Michael Scherer, Amy Gardner and Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post — While some Trump fans reveled in excitement when news broke of him visiting the state to campaign for Senate candidate Herschel Walker, it also set off alarm among Republican leadership in a state that Trump lost in 2020. Many are wary of reopening the old feud between Trump and Republican Gov. Brian Kemp, who is also on the ballot. Others were concerned that Trump’s continued talk of rigged elections could depress turnout. The lack of a rally last weekend broke Trump’s streak of five rallies in the preceding four weeks, part of an aggressive push to boost candidates in the midterm. Now his advisers are asking Republican campaigns if they want rallies in the final stretch to Election Day.

Trump’s Boeing 757 rehabbed and back in West Palm Beach” via Kate Bennett of CNN —Trump’s Boeing 757 is back in West Palm Beach after repairs, sitting just 15 minutes away from Mar-a-Lago. Why is that important? The 31-year-old jumbo jet was idle for the four years of Trump’s presidency and many months afterward, but now, it may be getting prepped to assume its former life as Trump’s biggest campaign prop. In July, Eric Trump posted on Instagram, showing the former President teasing the rebirth of his beloved private plane, saying the sparkly new exterior tuneup done so “Trump Force One” — the plane’s nickname — could be “back to the skies in the Fall of 2022, or maybe sooner.”


Miami Hispanic community tells State Senate candidate Janelle Perez they reject her socialism” via Brendon Leslie of Florida Voice News — Several Miami Hispanics outright reject the socialism of State Senate District 38 Democrat candidate Perez. She faces Republican candidate Alexis Calatayud in November’s election.

To watch the full report, please click on the image below:

Assignment editors — Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber will host a community event: 5:30 p.m., Miami Beach Bandshell, 7275 Collins Ave, Miami Beach. RSVP at [email protected].

— LOCAL: C. FL —

Chinese faculty express concerns over selection of Ben Sasse as the next UF president” via Gershon Harrell of The Gainesville Sun — Chinese faculty are raising concerns about the choice of U.S. Sen. Sasse as the next University of Florida president, given his past comments and positions on China. “These are things the university has been trying to work on for the last 10 to 20 years … and from the commencement speech and many other things that he said, it just doesn’t appear that he’s reflecting all those values,” said Jiangeng Xue, a professor of materials science and engineering at UF.

Does she support QAnon? That and other questions as Pinellas races get rough.” via Jeffrey S. Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — Dawn Peters has made no secret of her strong support for the Republican education agenda in her bid for an at-large seat on the Pinellas County School Board. “I signed the pledge, pledging to the parents of the state of Florida that I will follow everything that Gov. DeSantis has put in place,” Peters said. Her critics contend Peters has a more extreme set of views than her campaign reveals. They have begun passing around screenshots from Peters’ social media accounts in which she is shown appearing to take the QAnon oath, refers to the 2020 Presidential Election as Trump 2Q2Q, and retweets a post about the “three major hoaxes of the modern world.’

Is Dawn Peters a QAnon follower?


Tears, frustration and anger at first Fort Myers Beach Council meeting since Hurricane Ian” via Phil Fernandez of the Fort Myers News-Press — The turbulent waters for Fort Myers Beach didn’t end with Hurricane Ian after one of the most powerful storm strikes in history. Waves of frustration, anger and crying drenched the Town Council’s first meeting since the violence that crushed the coast 22 days ago. Close to 200 crowded an air-conditioned makeshift board room Thursday created inside the former SkipOne Seafood restaurant off Estero Island. In place of smashed Town Hall. Even though the invocation produced some sobs, it didn’t completely soothe frayed nerves from the sleepless nights that beach leaders and residents are enduring.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

Jacksonville mayoral candidates cry foul over lack of interviews ahead of industry endorsements” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Key endorsements in the 2023 race for Jacksonville Mayor are being conferred without all candidates getting to make their case. The Northeast Florida Association of Realtors and the Northeast Florida Builders Association both endorsed Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce CEO Daniel Davis in October, a strong show of confidence given a field of nine candidates and both a March and May election ahead. The process was streamlined by eliminating interviews, multiple candidates told Florida Politics Friday, though at least one organization said that option is allowed by its bylaws.

Rory Diamond to step down from K9s for Warriors, focus on Jacksonville City Council, military” via Beth Reese Cravey of the Florida Times-Union — Jacksonville City Councilman Rory Diamond will step down as CEO of K9s for Warriors, the Ponte Vedra Beach nonprofit that trains service dogs for veterans. His last day is Nov. 10. His successor will be Carl Cricco, who is currently the organization’s chief marketing and development officer. Diamond is stepping down to focus on his re-election campaign for a second term on the Jacksonville City Council, he wrote in a Facebook post.

Florida Commission on Ethics recommends Doug Underhill be removed from office” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — In a 6-1 vote, the Florida Commission on Ethics approved a request to ask DeSantis to remove Escambia County Commissioner Doug Underhill from office and impose a fine of $35,000. The Commission recommended that Underhill be removed from office for disclosing a county “shade meeting” transcript before the litigation was officially concluded. Three complaints were filed against him in 2020 by three Escambia County residents, including Pensacola businessperson David Bear.

An ethics committee asks Ron DeSantis to remove Doug Underhill.

Former Panama City administrator arrested on charge of embezzling $470,000 from charity” via Nathan Cobb of the Panama City News Herald — Michael Johnson, the former community development director for Panama City, was arrested Thursday on charges of embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from a local charity. He is accused of embezzling more than $470,000 from the Friends of After School Assistance Program, a nonprofit organization that supports the city’s After School Assistance Program. Johnson, who has directed the program since 2012, now faces one count of grand theft over $100,000, which is a second-degree felony.

FEMA sending $300K for Fernandina Beach city marina repair” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — Not every city has a collectively owned marina, but Fernandina Beach is one of them, and repairs to the marina have been top of mind since Hurricane Ian passed east of Amelia Island. Ian’s storm surge and wave action took their toll, with the city marina catching a lot of that. Money for the repairs should be on the way as City Manager Dale Martin advised interested parties late this week that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released dollars earmarked for the effort. That money, $300,000, is first going through the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) before city officials can dole it out. The money’s meant to cover interest costs incurred by the city for reconstruction loans.


Against the demolition of the American spirit” via David French of The Dispatch — I’m going to start with a “both sides” trigger warning. This newsletter is going to describe a profound problem that is emanating from both left and right — the demolition of the American spirit.

I’ll never forget the first time I encountered Americans who hated America. It was in law school, and when I talked to my more radical classmates, I heard their case. America was a racist, colonial power. It began as a slave empire, expanded through conquest and genocide, and then propped up vicious tyrants in the name of liberty.

In December 2019, a group of America’s leading historians wrote The New York Times to lodge a serious complaint. Much of the history was simply wrong. “Raising profound, unsettling questions about slavery and the nation’s past and present,” they wrote, “is a praiseworthy and urgent public service.”

But there were errors. Serious errors.

Share this critique of the 1619 Project in Red America, and people will nod along. In fact, they likely know all about it. The very popularity and prominence of the 1619 Project fueled the fire of the radical right. It’s evidence that American institutions have lost their way.

It’s time to take a step back. Through their combination of truth, exaggeration, and outright falsehood, the far left and far right undermine American confidence and fabricate an existential threat to the American idea.

In 1776, we proclaimed our ideals. In 1865 we experienced a “new birth of freedom.” In 1964, we took a legal sledgehammer to the “badges of incidents of slavery” that still plagued our land. That story is a hard story. It’s a continuing story. But it’s ultimately a good story. Don’t let the new revolutionaries demolish the American spirit.


The three blunders of Biden” via Ross Douthat of The New York Times — The first began when Biden made critical decisions on energy and immigration that his party’s activists demanded: for environmentalists, a moratorium on new oil-and-gas leases on public lands and, for immigration advocates, a partial rollback of key Trump administration border policies. In February 2021, when congressional Democrats were preparing a $1.9 trillion stimulus, Republican Senators counteroffered with a roughly $600 billion proposal. The White House spurned the offer and pushed three times as much money into the economy on a party-line vote. The third failure is to hedge and triangulate, but this time on culture. His presidency has offered multiple opportunities to actually inhabit the moderate persona. His White House has chosen to effectively deny that any real debate exists, positioning the administration to the left of Sweden.

We once called Rubio ‘idealistic.’ Here’s why we can’t back him for Senate anymore” via the Miami Herald editorial board — Despite all the experience under his belt, his intelligence, and innate political talent, he hasn’t lived up to the expectations that this son of Cuban immigrants would usher the GOP into a new era. But today, he appears more comfortable playing the role of apologist for Trump — the newer, dangerously bombastic voice of the GOP — despite being ridiculed by the former President during his 2016 presidential run and more preoccupied with his own political future than representing his constituents. In 2020, for example, Rubio went so far as to praise Trump supporters in Texas who used their vehicles to try to run a busload of Biden backers off the road. Someone could have been killed. Floridians have a better alternative.

Why I’m telling my friends that the Senate is a tossup” via Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight — If a friend asked me to characterize the Senate race, I’d say “it’s pretty fucking close,” and emphasize that neither party has much of an advantage. Here’s why. For one thing, as of Thursday afternoon, Republicans realized a slight lead (of 0.1 percentage points) in the FiveThirtyEight generic ballot average for the first time since Aug. 2. There are three entirely plausible scenarios: A Republican sweep of Congress, a Democratic sweep or a split Congress (which would more likely involve a Democratic Senate and a GOP House). Until recently, a split Congress had the most likely of the three scenarios, though the chances of this outcome were under 50%. Now, however, a GOP sweep (41%) is more likely than a split (38%)

Why Kevin McCarthy could be the next Jeff Sessions” via Jonathan Capehart of The Washington Post — McCarthy sure is confident. Should Republicans retake the U.S. House majority, the California Congressman told Punchbowl News on Monday, “I think I can win [the Speakership] with any seat majority.” What locked my face into a stare of “sure, Jan” skepticism was McCarthy’s statement that should he not get the gavel, it’ll be because it’s “not God’s plan for me to be Speaker.” Sure, Kevin — if by “God” you mean Trump. Trump is a man for whom loyalty is a one-way street. One misstep (however he defines that) and your public humiliation is guaranteed.

The end of the Good Republicans” via Sarah Longwell of The Bulwark — In the Republican Party, political power emanates completely and totally from Trump. A Republican cannot be openly opposed to Trump on any grounds — even on simple matters of fact, such as who won the 2020 Election — and retain political power. Some especially skillful Republicans have managed to advance by being generally positive, but largely silent. But the Republicans who have advanced most are those who broadcast, in the most vehement and submissive modes possible, their total subservience — not just to the MAGA agenda, but to Trump the man. The result of this truth is that it has driven the Good Republican — that rare animal who was supposed to be the post-Trump future of the GOP — to near extinction.

UF’s secret search. DeSantis hides migrant records. Secrecy in Florida is getting worse.” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida’s leadership has been hiding public information from the public more and more lately — a trend Maxwell does not understand why state Republicans are OK with. DeSantis has a long history of concealing public information. The Orlando Sentinel has sued the DeSantis administration twice, successfully, for access to public information. So, as you cast your ballots this election, think about what you want to allow. Think about the words of former U.S. Attorney General William Ramsey Clark, who said: “Nothing so diminishes democracy as secrecy.”

With Crist as Governor, Floridians could face authoritarian COVID-19 measures” via Jonas Vesterberg of The Florida Standard — Crist is trailing DeSantis by double digits in the polls. On Thursday, the campaign posted a video of Crist from September of last year, where Crist states that he would mandate vaccines for state employees. An event attendee asked, “Congressman, thank you for coming. You mentioned the pandemic. Hopefully, it is behind us. But as Florida’s Governor, would you be open to mandating or regulating masks?” “I’m going to Orlando, and I’m going to wear a mask on the plane. You don’t have to anymore, but I’m going to because Florida is experiencing an uptick that began this week. And it’s not even the Omicron B2. It’s a new variant,” Crist said.

Hyperpartisan ‘local news’ sites are dangerous to democracy” via The Washington Post editorial board — Our democracy is engaging in self-sabotage. Sites are disguised as community periodicals, but their “About Us” pages indicate they’re run by a company called Local Report Inc.; which is engaged in an opaque “co-publishing agreement” with the American Independent; which is funded by American Bridge — a Democratic super PAC devoted to opposition research. This media masquerade is not exactly news, nor is it exactly fake. The American Independent argues that its articles are by writers producing real stories under their real names, fact-checked and verified. This, defenders claim, contrasts with efforts on the right where stories are generated by robots and sometimes stuffed full of made-up quotes — a trend known as “pink-slime journalism.”


— ALOE —

It’s not a trick: Your Halloween treats are getting smaller” via Laura Reiley of The Washington Post — It isn’t a nightmare. Your Halloween candy just got smaller. A bag of dark chocolate Hershey’s Kisses is now a couple of ounces smaller than before. A two-pack of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups is a 10th of an ounce lighter. And Cadbury milk chocolate bars are about 10% skimpier. Consumers can partly blame “shrinkflation” — the phenomenon of manufacturers reducing the size of their products rather than increasing the price. But it’s also part of a yearslong plan to make Americans’ treats less caloric.

Boo! Shrinkflation in action.


Celebrating today are Rep. Kamia Brown, the awesome Kelly Cohen of The Southern Group, and Erin Rock, also of The Southern Group (and also pretty awesome).


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, Drew Wilson, Wes Wolfe, and Mike Wright.

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