Good Monday morning.
Dan McFaul has been named the managing partner of Ballard Partners’ Washington, D.C. office.
“Dan’s extraordinary reputation in D.C. makes him the ideal choice to lead our firm in Washington and continue our growth in the coming years,” said Brian Ballard, the firm’s founder and president. “Our firm and its clients will be well-served by Dan’s vast experience in government affairs and on Capitol Hill.”
McFaul has been a partner in the firm’s Washington office since 2017. He has been involved with more than 30 federal, state, and local campaigns in the last two decades, including races for U.S. House, U.S. Senate, Governor and President.
He served as campaign manager to former U.S. Rep. Joe Scarborough in 1996 and 2000. In 1998, he worked as a Senior Field Analyst for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) and consulted on eight congressional campaigns in the Southeast and Ohio River Valley.
McFaul also served on Scarborough’s staff from 1997-2001, rising to the position of Legislative Director. He became the Chief of Staff and Communications Director for former U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller on Oct. 16, 2001, when Miller was sworn into office. Before Miller’s election, McFaul was Miller’s campaign manager during the 2001 special election cycle.
McFaul was a member of the Presidential Transition Team for then-President-elect Donald Trump. In this capacity, he worked on the Appointments Team responsible for recruiting and vetting potential appointees to the incoming Administration, specifically for the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Armed Services and the Intelligence community.
“I want to thank Brian for this opportunity. It has been an honor to work with him and the exceptionally talented professionals at Ballard Partners. I am humbled by this new responsibility,” McFaul said.
Charlie Crist’s campaign is tying up loose ends and zeroing out its accounts.
Crist and his fiancée, Chelsea Grimes, have decided to donate the money left over in Crist’s campaign account to a group of 20 organizations working on issues ranging from reproductive rights to health care to gun reform.
A spokesperson for his campaign said Crist “was proud to work with them during his campaign and he believes they are on the frontlines of the fight for true freedom and democracy in Florida.”
Florida campaign finance laws require candidates to dispose of any leftover campaign funds within 90 days after an election. Candidates may either provide prorated refunds to contributors, donate the funds to charity, or transfer them to an affiliated party committee or political party.
The list of organizations the Crist campaign will support:
—Planned Parenthood Action Fund Florida
—Ruth’s List Florida
—Florida Immigrant Coalition
—Florida Insulin 4 All
—Florida State Conference NAACP
—Ban Assault Weapons NOW (BAWN)
—Coalition of Immokalee Workers
—Mothers Fighting for Justice
—Florida Freedom to Read Project
—Equal Ground Florida
—Florida Black Girls
—People Power for Florida
—Women’s March Florida
—Guatemalan Mayan Center
—Floridians for Reproductive Freedom
—Senate Victory Fund
—House Victory Fund
—Municipal Victory Fund
One other thought:
🔀 — Explaining the different directions state went in the Midterms: Historically, the party in power in Washington gets pummeled in Midterms, but that didn’t happen this year. Republicans, the party out of favor, cleaned up in states like Florida and New York, but Democrats over-performed in others, such as Michigan and Pennsylvania. New York Times Chief Political Analyst Nate Cohn explains the phenomenon in his newsletter, The Tilt: Democracy and abortion, issues Democrats ran on that were driven by actions not within their own party, but from the party out of power. The abortion issue explains Democrats’ failures in New York, where those concerned about abortion were less likely to put that top-of-mind in a blue state where protections will likely remain. In other states, Democrats were able to “defy political gravity” in places “where Mr. Trump tried to overturn the last Presidential Election.” Read more here.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@MrBenWexler: Joe Biden beat Trump, got vaccines into tens of millions of arms, helped Ukraine beat back (Vladimir) Putin, invested billions in green energy, got us back to full employment, cut the deficit, and just pulled off a huge Midterm upset. Not a bad two years
—@DavidJollyFL: Biden needs to act like a straight-up boss coming out of this. Voters didn’t vote for bipartisanship. They voted for Dems.
Another US election, another "Land doesn't vote, people do" style map showing the election results. pic.twitter.com/XmMTSUKJof
— Simon Kuestenmacher (@simongerman600) November 11, 2022
—@SenSchumer: Your Senate Democratic Majority!
—@MarcoRubio: The Senate GOP leadership vote next week should be postponed. First, we need to make sure that those who want to lead us are genuinely committed to fighting for the priorities & values of the working Americans (of every background) who gave us big wins in states like #Florida
—@ReDistrict: Between #AZ01, #AZ06 and #CA41, Dems’ dreams of holding the House majority probably died tonight.
—@JonCooperTweets: The top two Democratic-run states (CA and NY) used independent or court-drawn maps, while the top GOP-run states (FL and TX) used partisan maps gerrymandered by the GOP. Plus, Ohio used a GOP map ruled unconstitutional. If it wasn’t for this, Democrats would hold the House easily.
What an atmosphere. Thank you Germany 🙏 pic.twitter.com/hPZFZjxu3e
— Tom Brady (@TomBrady) November 13, 2022
— DAYS UNTIL —
FITCon 2022 begins — 3; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 4; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 8; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 11; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 20; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 20; Georgia U.S. Senate runoff — 22; 2022 Florida Chamber Annual Insurance Summit — 22; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 23; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 33; final Broadway performance of ‘The Music Man’ with Hugh Jackman — 49; Bruce Springsteen launches his 2023 tour in Tampa — 79; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 95; final performance of ‘Phantom of the Opera’ on Broadway — 96; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 113; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 130; Taylor Swift ‘Eras’ Tour in Tampa — 150; American Association of Political Consultants Pollies ’23 conference begins — 155; 2023 Session Sine Die — 172; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 172; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 200; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 249; ‘‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 256; Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 354; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 501; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 557; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 620; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 620; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 662; ‘Deadpool 3’ premieres — 725; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 823; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 900. ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,089.
— TOP STORY —
“As Donald Trump takes heat, Ron DeSantis rises in GOP ahead of 2024” via Hannah Knowles and Tim Craig of The Washington Post — Should he decide to run for President, DeSantis could face numerous challenges. He is still relatively untested on the national stage. He hails from a one-time swing state that has moved right and, in some ways, does not mirror the rest of the country.
And he has already attracted the ire of Trump, who has leveled devastating attacks against rivals who have yet to fully recover politically from his broadsides and demeaning nicknames years after he launched them.
Some think DeSantis’ decisive victory has bought him time to ponder his next move.
“I have always thought after Nov. 8, if he secured 55 to 60% of the vote, that would be a potential launching pad for his presidential ambitions,” said Anthony Verdugo, the executive director of Christian Family Coalition Florida. “And certainly, the stars are aligning, and everything seems to be falling into place.”
DeSantis carried Miami-Dade County by 11 points, becoming the first Republican candidate for Governor in 20 years to win a county where Latinos make up 69% of the population. In a bigger shock for beleaguered Democrats, DeSantis narrowly carried Palm Beach County, which had been a key pillar of support for Democrats, and he flipped the counties that include both Jacksonville and Tampa.
Still, some Democrats said they are not fearful of facing DeSantis in a national campaign. Joshua Karp, a Washington-based Democratic strategist, predicted DeSantis would “get eaten alive” in a competitive GOP Primary.
“Presidential politics is littered with Governors who got lucky in their home state politics, ran a few smart plays, but weren’t prepared when they got hit with other talent from out of state,” said Karp.
“As DeSantis considers Presidential campaign, super PAC emerges to help him” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — DeSantis may be playing coy about his presidential intentions, but a new super PAC has been formed to give oxygen to the idea and serve as his surrogate campaign until the Florida Governor makes it official. “Ron to the Rescue,” is the name of the independent political action committee being organized by California political strategist John Thomas, a Trump supporter who is shifting his backing to DeSantis because he says he is “the future of the party.” “As much as people in the party still like Trump, they like winning more,’’ said Thomas, the founder and president of the political advertising and consulting firm Thomas Partners Strategies.
“Republicans control Florida. DeSantis will use them to build his 2024 resume.” via Gary Fineout of POLITICO — Here’s one big thing that DeSantis has that Trump doesn’t: A supercharged Republican-controlled Florida Legislature prepared to do whatever he wants. DeSantis’ nearly 20-point victory on Tuesday will only increase his sway with Republican legislators who have already shown a willingness to bend to the Governor, especially after the GOP swept races up and down the ballot in Florida, including winning supermajorities in the state House and Senate. DeSantis will now be able to turn to state lawmakers to give him legislative and policy victories that he can use in a highly competitive Republican Primary against Trump if both men run for President in 2024.
“DeSantis rewrote the political map in Florida. Will the changes be permanent?” via Ben Weider of the Miami Herald — In his victory speech Tuesday, DeSantis said that his victory over Democrat Crist had “rewritten the political map.” It wasn’t hyperbole. The Republican Governor managed to flip eight of the 13 counties he had lost in his first election in 2018 and improved his performance in each of Florida’s 67 counties. Those gains propelled DeSantis to the most lopsided victory by a Florida Governor since 1982 when Democrat Bob Graham won re-election with more than 64% of the vote in Florida. DeSantis was 4 at the time.
“‘A butter knife into a machine-gun fight’: Democrats blame Florida blowout on cash woes” via Alex Roarty of the Miami Herald — A Florida Democratic Party bracing for a difficult Election Day was still shocked and embarrassed by Tuesday’s historic blowout defeat. Leading party operatives say there’s at least one simple explanation for the drubbing: The party didn’t have nearly enough money. “What people were expecting folks in Florida to do is to take a butter knife into a machine-gun fight,” said Raymond Paultre, executive director of Florida Alliance, a network of progressive donors. “And it will never work.” Paultre said a preliminary estimate from his group found that, when including state legislative races, independent groups and statewide contests, Republicans spent $350 million this election cycle, led by DeSantis.
“Florida Latinos catapulted Republicans in the 2022 election. Are they the outliers?” via Bianca Padró Ocasio and Shirsho Dasgupta of the Miami Herald — Inside a packed section of La Carreta, the iconic Cuban restaurant in Little Havana, trays were packed with croquetas and guava pastelitos, while a DJ blasted music for people wearing María Elvira Salazar T-shirts. The election night party was for the first-term Miami Congresswoman of Florida’s Congressional District 27, a district with the largest share of Hispanic residents anywhere in the state, who danced her way past the treats, onto the makeshift stage to declare victory for a second term. “This election proves what Ronald Reagan famously said, that Latinos are Republicans; they just don’t know it,” Salazar said Tuesday at her victory party, declaring an early night win over her Colombian American opponent, Democrat Annette Taddeo.
— STATEWIDE —
Happening today — Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper will hear arguments on a lawsuit brought by Sen. Jason Pizzo and others that claims state-funded flights of migrants to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts violated the Florida Constitution: 9 a.m., Leon County Courthouse 301 South Monroe St., Tallahassee.
“DeSantis tours Wilbur-by-the-Sea homes destroyed by Tropical Storm Nicole” via Jesse Mendoza of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — On Friday afternoon dozens of residents, law enforcement, public safety officials, and a smattering of curious onlookers roamed local beaches to assess the damage left in the wake of the storm. Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said law enforcement will maintain a significant presence in the area to prevent looting from damaged homes. DeSantis and high-ranking officials, such as Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie, visited neighboring homes and spoke to residents who lived in the neighborhood Friday afternoon as they assessed damage left by the storm.
“Florida Republicans eye further abortion restrictions after big gains in the Legislature” via Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO — Just days after Republicans won supermajorities in the Florida Legislature, the state Senate is considering stricter abortion limits during the upcoming Legislative Session. Incoming Florida Senate President Kathleen Passidomo on Friday said she would support restricting abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy as long as there are exceptions for victims of rape and incest. Florida currently bans the procedure at 15 weeks but allows no exceptions except to save a mother’s life, prevent serious injury, or if the fetus has an irregularity that is fatal.
“Corey Simon says GOP could learn a thing or two from Florida” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Simon is part of a new class of Republicans who swept into offices across the state while nationwide the GOP didn’t claim the red wave many had predicted. Speaking on Fox News’ “Lawrence Jones Cross Country,” Simon suggested Republicans take a look at what their Floridian counterparts and DeSantis are doing. Simon agreed voters want strong, decisive leadership, something he said DeSantis has brought. “That’s what folks are looking for. I think the weak-kneed approach is not working,” Simon said. To achieve electoral success, Simon said he focused on economic issues and technical education. “I think what our great Governor has done is kept the state open during COVID, really focused on family, having the say-so that they need over their kids’ lives and really focused on freedom.”
“Perspective PAC launches to promote minority conservative voices” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A new political group is looking to promote minority leaders within the conservative movement. Organizers announced the launch Friday of the Perspective PAC, based out of Tallahassee. “The conservative movement is greatly strengthened when including the perspective of many viewpoints,” said Board Chair Darryl L. Boyer. “Where a person is headed and how big their heart (is) truly encompasses their perspective.” Boyer notably worked as part of the campaign for Sen. Corey Simon, who unseated now-former Democratic Sen. Loranne Ausley. The Senate District 3 race was one of Florida’s most-watched legislative contests in the state. Simon became the first Black Republican elected to the Florida Senate since Reconstruction.
“Florida just banned transgender treatment for minors. What now?” via Sam Ogozalek and Christopher O’Donnell of the Tampa Bay Times — New rules approved by the Florida Board of Medicine and the Florida Board of Osteopathic Medicine last week will ban medical treatment for transgender children with gender dysphoria. It’s a move that puts Florida at odds with existing treatment standards that have been endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, among other medical organizations. After the ban takes effect, doctors in the state who continue to prescribe puberty blockers, hormone therapy or surgeries to treat gender dysphoria among new patients younger than 18 could lose their licenses.
“Florida COVID-19 cases rising again as BQ subvariants of omicron spread” via Chris Persaud of The Palm Beach Post — COVID-19 appears to be on a slight upswing once again in Florida as health officials log increasing numbers of cases each week, but few infections are severe. The state’s case count grew by more than 12,000 this week, the CDC said Friday. That’s the highest weekly sum since the last week of September when new omicron sub-variants started spreading nationwide, but much lower than the summer surge fueled by previous versions of omicron. An alphabet soup of new omicron strains now forms most COVID-19 infections across the southeastern United States. These sub-variants have been circulating in Florida since late summer.
“There’s a war on democracy in Florida. It’s being waged by Big Business.” via Jason Garcia of Seeking Rents — Val Demings got more votes in Orange County than any other politician on the ballot. She didn’t get as many votes as rent control. That’s how much Orange County voters want this. But they’re not going to get it. That’s because the Florida Legislature has passed a law that makes it nearly impossible for cities and counties to enact local rent control. The advocates who got the Orange County referendum onto the ballot tried to walk a legal tightrope across that law. But several judges have already ruled that the ordinance will likely be struck down. And on the miraculous chance that it somehow survives court scrutiny, you can bet the Legislature will step in to help the landlords again.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Biden says he’s going into Xi Jinping meeting ‘stronger’ after Senate victory” via Yasmeen Abutaleb and Matt Viser of The Washington Post — Biden was triumphant on Sunday after Democrats cemented control of the Senate and said the result meant he was going into his meeting with Chinese President Jinping in Bali on Monday “stronger.” “I know I’m coming in stronger, but I don’t need that,” Biden said Sunday of his meeting with Xi, which is scheduled to take place one day before the beginning of the Group of 20 summit. “I know him well. He knows me. There’s no — we have very little misunderstanding. We just got to figure out where the red lines are and what we — what are the most important things to each of us going into the next two years. And his circumstance has changed, to state the obvious, at home.”
“Biden, turning 80, faces renewed age questions as he weighs re-election” via Toluse Olorunnipa and Yasmeen Abutaleb of The Washington Post — As Biden careened between economic and global crises last year, his aides began to grapple privately with a more personal issue. In internal polls, voters kept bringing up a specific concern: the President’s age. And word clouds created by outside pollsters were showing terms like “age” and “Is he with it?” in large letters, an indication that such worries were among the most commonly voiced by Americans. The Democrats’ better-than-expected performance in the Midterms has eased Biden’s path to a re-election run, though aides say no final decision has been made.
“Democrats keep control of the Senate with win in Nevada” via Hannah Knowles and Liz Goodwin of The Washington Post — Democrats were projected to retain control of the Senate on Saturday, clinching a narrow majority as they showed strength in battleground races in a daunting Midterm year that handed Biden a major victory as he looks to his next two years in office. The final blow to Republican hopes of retaking the chamber came in Nevada, where on Saturday Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto was projected to win re-election, edging past Adam Laxalt, a former state Attorney General. Cortez Masto’s projected win ensures Democrats a 50th seat, with a runoff election still to come in Georgia on Dec. 6 that could pad their slim majority. With 97% of the vote in, Cortez Masto led by half a percentage point.
“Marco Rubio calls for delay in Senate GOP leadership elections, in apparent swipe at Mitch McConnell” via Tyler Olson and Kelly Phares of Fox News — Rubio is calling for Senate Republicans to delay their leadership elections, as more members of the party’s conference in the Senate appear to be bucking McConnell. “The Senate GOP leadership vote next week should be postponed,” Rubio tweeted Friday. “First we need to make sure that those who want to lead us are genuinely committed to fighting for the priorities & values of the working Americans (of every background) who gave us big wins in states like #Florida.”
“Rick Scott calls 2022 election a ‘complete disappointment’” via Chloe Folmar of The Hill — Sen. Scott said on Friday that the 2022 Midterm Elections were a “complete disappointment” for Republicans, lamenting low voter turnout on Election Day. “Here’s what happened to us. Election Day, our voters didn’t show up. We didn’t get enough voters. It was a complete disappointment,” Scott told Fox News host Sean Hannity. The Senator, who also heads the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said “I think we didn’t have enough of a positive message. We said everything about how bad the Biden agenda was. It’s bad, the Democrats are radical, but we have to have a plan of what we stand for.”
“After Midterm Election disappointment, GOP faces leadership choices” via Alex Leary and John McCormick of The Wall Street Journal — Republicans face a week that will be crucial in deciding the future direction and leadership of the party in the wake of disappointing Midterm Elections. House Republicans are scheduled to vote the same day on whether to choose House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy as their candidate for Speaker. Some Senate Republicans are pushing to delay beyond this week a decision on whether to hand Sen. Mitch McConnell another term as their leader. Some Republicans contend that Trump’s influence and endorsement choices cost the party winnable races in key states, partly by repelling some independent voters.
“U.S. coughs up 9/11 Commission report on 2004 private meeting with George Bush/Dick Cheney; Bush saw no reason to pursue accountability for failures” via Dan Christensen of Florida Bulldog — Nearly two decades after President Bush and Vice President Cheney answered questions for the 9/11 Commission in a closed gathering in the Oval Office, a 31-page “summary” of what they had to say finally has been made public. Neither Bush nor Cheney was under oath during the three-hour meeting on April 29, 2004. And the summary shows it was a generally relaxed, non-adversarial — and largely superficial — get-together during which no significant new insights were gleaned. Yet the summary does yield Bush’s forceful, nonpublic opinion that he “didn’t see much point in assigning personal blame for 9/11.”
Happening today — MSNBC host and former U.S. Rep. Scarborough will give a speech at the Forum Club of the Palm Beaches: noon, Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach.
— EPILOGUE TRUMP —
“In Election 2022, the party of Trump pays for being the party of Trump” via Dan Balz of The Washington Post — Election Day has come and gone, and the counting continues without a definitive answer to the question of what the balance of power will look like in the coming two years. But a clear message has come through from the voters: a desire for stability at a time of unrest, a call for seriousness at a time it is needed. Whatever the final numbers show, 2022 will be remembered as an election that produced an incremental earthquake. Election 2022 was a dual referendum: on Biden and the Democrats but also on former Trump and the Republicans.
“Trump team urges court to leave Mar-a-Lago arbiter in place” via Eric Tucker of the Tampa Bay Times — Lawyers for Trump urged a federal appeals court Thursday to leave in place an independent arbiter who was assigned to review documents seized by the FBI in an August search of the former President’s Florida estate. The Trump team said in a filing that veteran Brooklyn judge Raymond Dearie should continue in his role as a so-called special master to ensure public confidence in an investigation involving a “political rival” of the Biden administration. “Given the significance of this investigation, it must be conducted in a manner that gives the public confidence in its outcome,” Trump’s lawyers wrote. “The Court should simply not allow the Government to cloak these proceedings from public view based on its unverified assertions.”
“Bipartisan group of Broward pols shoots down Trump’s claims of feds’ involvement” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Neither Democratic nor Republican politicians on the scene at the vote-counting for DeSantis’ 2018 victory are buying the former President’s claims that the feds got DeSantis over the finish line in Broward County. And the Supervisor of Elections Office is also shooting down Trump’s claims. President Trump lit up social media with his rambling diatribe against DeSantis, “Ron DeSanctimonious,” Thursday night, triggered likely by the widespread speculation that the Governor’s historic margin of victory this week positions him to claim the Republican presidential nomination. But his allegations about how DeSantis became Governor in 2018, has heads shaking in Broward County.
“Tiffany Trump weds at Mar-a-Lago” via Tammy La Gorce of The New York Times — The arrival of Hurricane Nicole at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach on Thursday may have paused preparations for the wedding of Tiffany Trump and Michael Boulos, but the ceremony, which took place at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday at the club and private residence of Donald Trump, went ahead as planned despite the severe weather days before. Toni Breiss, a Lebanese wedding and event planner known for his over-the-top productions, was brought on to realize the couple’s dream wedding. Tiffany Trump was escorted down the aisle before 250 guests by her father, Donald Trump. The bride wore a custom dress designed by Elie Saab.
— LOCAL: S. FL —
“‘What a miracle.’ Miami Beach voters approve $159 million investment in arts and culture” via Amanda Rosa of the Miami Herald — Miami Beach’s arts and culture institutions won big this election season. On Tuesday, Miami Beach residents voted to green light $159 million in bonds to fund several local cultural institutions’ repairs, renovations and projects along with the reconstruction of the dilapidated Byron Carlyle Theater. The referendum, which benefits organizations like the Holocaust Memorial, Miami Beach Botanical Garden and The Fillmore, was approved with about 65% of the votes. “That is a resounding ‘yes,’” said Silvia Karman Cubiñá, The Bass Museum executive director. “It wasn’t a sort of, ‘We kind of like the idea, so let’s vote.’ It was a testament to the type of city that we that we’re working and living in.”
“DeSantis-ousted Broward School Board member loses; four new faces join board” via Jimena Tavel of the Miami Herald — With nearly all votes tallied in Broward County, Donna Korn, the longtime Broward School Board member suspended by DeSantis in August, lost her race, vanquishing the possibility that DeSantis could suspend Korn a second time and install another ally on the board. Korn fell short with about 49% of the vote, while Allen Zeman prevailed with about 51%. Zeman and Korn ran in a runoff after the Aug. 23 Primary, when each garnered about 30% of the vote in a four-person race. In total, four new board members were elected to the nine-person Board. The four new members replaced four DeSantis appointees.
“Term limits win overwhelmingly in two Broward County cities” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — While Deerfield Beach voters on Election Day rejected a ballot question that would have loosened City Commission term limits, Wilton Manors voters agreed to add term limits to their city charter. Term limits came into fashion in the 1990s, according to Aubrey Jewett, a professor of Political Science at the University of Central Florida. Voters usually approve them, but are often reluctant to repeal them, he said. That certainly played out on Election Day. Changing Deerfield Beach’s term limits from two consecutive, four-year terms to three consecutive, four-year terms was rejected 73%-27%. Wilton Manors’ voters, meanwhile, approved adding term limits for their Mayor and City Commissioners. The vote in favor was 66%-34%.
— LOCAL: C. FL —
“‘Astounding damage’ from Nicole reported in Volusia; DeSantis pledges aid to help beaches” via Sheldon Gardner of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — The scale of Tropical Storm Nicole’s destruction became clearer in recent days as Volusia County officials shared that damage totals exceeded $481 million countywide. And the damage assessment isn’t finished, according to a county news release. “The Volusia County property appraiser has submitted the initial damage assessment report for Hurricane Nicole and the numbers are astounding.” “The dollar figure is over $481 million, already eclipsing Hurricane Ian’s damage of $377 million.” Condominiums make up the largest share of that damage at over $276.8 million, according to a Friday update from the property appraiser.
“Disney plans targeted hiring freeze, staff reductions and ‘cost structure task force’” via Alex Weprin of The Hollywood Reporter — The Walt Disney Co. is looking to cut costs. In a memo to senior executives Friday afternoon obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Disney CEO Bob Chapek outlined new efforts to save on expenses, including a targeted hiring freeze, likely staff reductions, a “cost structure task force” and a “rigorous review of the company’s content and marketing spending.” Chapek’s memo comes as Disney, like all major media, entertainment and technology players, look to slim down or otherwise save cash amid a difficult macroeconomic environment, with advertising hit particularly hard.
— LOCAL: TB —
“Blue to Red: Behind the GOP victory in Pinellas, Hillsborough County races” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — In 2018 and 2020, Democrats won easily in Hillsborough County up and down the ballot, and political insiders proclaimed it had become a solidly blue county. Democrats exulted in 2018 on their first majority in years on the county Board of Commissioners, then expanded it in 2020. “A countywide race,” longtime GOP political activist and donor Sam Rashid said at the time, “is a nightmare for us.” That was then. On Tuesday, what had looked for four years like a deep-blue county flipped bright red, electing two Republican political newcomers to replace popular Democrats as County Commissioners, flipping the majority back to Republican, and voted comfortably for Republicans for Governor, Senator, all statewide offices and in every seriously contested state legislative race.
“As Florida Democrats confront losses, Tampa organizers are undeterred” via Lauren Peace of the Tampa Bay Times — As key races were called for DeSantis, for representative-elect Anna Paulina Luna, for Rubio, the party died down. They took the personal belongings that had accumulated at the office this election season. And as was the case for many field offices post-Election Day, the lights were turned off and the space transformed into a ghost town. The morning after, Hispanic organizers began to think about the future. “This was a wave election; it’s hard to swim against the wave,” said Victor Rudy DiMaio, the Hillsborough Democratic Hispanic Caucus president. “But the pendulum swings back and forth. There’s always another day.” DiMaio’s tone was matter-of-fact. Worn, not beaten, as he reflected on the results from 24 hours earlier.
— LOCAL: SW. FL —
Wait, what? — “Collier school board’s Jerry Rutherford says he wants to bring back corporal punishment” via Kate Cimini of the Naples Daily News — Newly elected Collier County School Board member Rutherford wants to bring corporal punishment back to district classrooms, he said the morning after Tuesday’s election. He added that disabled students’ behavior in particular is “out of control.” Additionally, he said he’d like to see fewer “rights” for LGBTQ students or the same extended to religious students who want to practice religion in school. Jory Westberry, who lost her school board seat to Rutherford, said his views on corporal punishment, LGBTQ students and religion in schools would “put something so pervasively wrong in schools.” Florida allows corporal punishment in public schools as long as the district allows it.
— LOCAL: N. FL —
“Election takeaways: Republicans find relevance in blue Tallahassee; progressives struggle” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — The Republican tide that swept across Florida in Tuesday’s General Election also managed to top Democratic floodgates in deep-blue Leon County, helping to lift Mayor John Dailey and others to victory. In a battle between two Democrats, Dailey, who defeated County Commissioner Kristin Dozier 53% to 47%, had his best showing in the conservative northeast where he won by an astounding 26 points. Laurie Lawson Cox, whose School Board win puts a Republican back in local office for the first time in two years, and County Commissioner Nick Maddox also prevailed with GOP backing.
“Andrew Gillum corruption case: Former Mayor says feds targeted him because of race” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — Lawyers for Gillum asked for a hearing on whether the former Tallahassee Mayor and Democratic nominee for Governor was targeted by the federal government because of his race. The request was among a flurry of motions filed in federal court on Election Day, exactly four years after Gillum narrowly lost his gubernatorial bid to DeSantis, who was just re-elected in a landslide. Gillum’s Miami lawyers also asked the court to dismiss charges in the indictment because of a nearly five-year delay in prosecuting him and other grounds, including that he didn’t lie to the FBI during a 2017 interview.
“One vote separates Marilynn Farrow, Wesley Meiss in Milton City Council; proves again every vote matters” via Benjamin Johnson of the Pensacola News Journal — There’s a reason people say, “every vote matters.” The adage has been proven true many times throughout history, most recently during Tuesday’s Midterm Elections, when a single vote separated two candidates for Milton City Council. Farrow and former Milton Mayor Meiss squared off for the council’s Ward 2 seat in Tuesday’s General Election. Unofficial results Wednesday morning indicated Farrow had beaten Meiss by a single vote, 1,408 to 1,407, which triggers an automatic machine recount under Florida law. Santa Rosa County Supervisor of Elections Tappie Villane said a machine recount will commence if the candidates are still within the 0.05% range after the Canvassing Board resolves any provisional ballots and cure affidavits Thursday afternoon.
— TOP OPINION —
“DeSantis’ God complex” via Frank Bruni of The New York Times — After decades of closely observing and writing about American politics, I’m accustomed to the runaway religiosity of many political campaigns and to a whiff of theocracy in our democracy.
But an ad that DeSantis released in the final days of his successful re-election bid nonetheless took my breath away.
In little more than 90 seconds, its unseen narrator mentions “God” 10 times, beginning with the assertion that “on the eighth day” God gazed at a newly created world and decided that it needed a protector.
“So, God made a fighter,” the narrator says — sonorously, somberly. It makes clear, for starters, just how nuttily grand DeSantis’ sense of himself and his destiny is, an evaluation that the size and nature of his victory in the Midterms is sure to cement.
To me, DeSantis doesn’t seem quite so levelheaded. He picks and hypes battles designed to cast him as some conservative superhero. In that regard, he’s histrionic and hyperbolic, and I could easily see him overplaying his hand, especially about religion.
The “God” ad signals that any presidential bid by DeSantis, who is clearly plotting one, will aggressively court Christian nationalists and, in the process, empower them. That was already becoming clear from his penchant for foregrounding biblical references in his oratory.
During an appearance last February at Hillsdale College in Michigan — which is, of course, a pivotal presidential battleground state — he exhorted the audience: “Put on the full armor of God. Stand firm against the left’s schemes. You will face flaming arrows, but if you have the shield of faith, you will overcome them.”
DeSantis may need to use whatever shield he carries against Trump first.
— OPINIONS —
“Why voters so often steer government toward gridlock” via David Von Drehle of The Washington Post — Landslides are a thing of the past. Houses of Congress flip and flop from one slippery grip to the other. This must be what the voters intend. Too often for coincidence, they produce unclear results, weeks of recounts, high-stakes Runoff Elections. The Pundits Club must admit: These aren’t obstructions of our view into the will of the voters. They are the will itself. The gridlock is the message. Through the magical mechanism of mass voting, Americans express a persistent impulse toward divided government. Could it be that the most important polarization today is not between parties, but between Governors and governed?
“Trump’s DeSantis-induced meltdown the act of a jealous, deluded narcissist. This is your leader, GOP?” via the Miami Herald editorial board — Trump’s meltdown on Thursday proved, once again, he’s got no interest in supporting the party that, at every turn, has allowed itself to be co-opted by his lies and temper tantrums. What more proof do GOP leaders who have chosen the easy route of sycophancy, we’re talking to you, Rubio, and others, need to drop the guy who’s looking more like an anchor rather than a life raft for Republicans? Trump had no interest in helping a “red wave” materialize this Midterm Election. His priority was ensuring election deniers won Republican Primaries with his endorsement.
“Political pivot needed as DeSantis seeks bigger stage” via The Palm Beach Post editorial board — The Governor may be seeking a bigger stage, but Florida isn’t exactly a backwater spot. It’s the nation’s third-largest state with many of the laundry list of challenges facing the country as a whole. Any Governor seeking higher office couldn’t ask for a better platform. The challenge for DeSantis is to show he can appeal to a broader audience. The idea of a prospective presidential candidate crossing the political aisle to resolve problems may sound absurd to those who believe there’s a big bloc of center-right voters waiting for the right Republican to capture their imagination and rid the nation of their “leftist” opposition. Nov. 8 showed the folly of such thinking. Again, the big “Red Wave” never materialized, and voters seemed to reject candidates deemed too “authoritarian” or a threat to democracy.
“The rapidly diverging political fortunes of Florida’s GOP ‘Big Four’” via Brian Burgess of The Capitolist —Trump is a Floridian, and his looming announcement for a third run at the White House is already dominating the hive-minds of American newsrooms across the country. His protégé, DeSantis, just pulled off the most lopsided Florida gubernatorial victory in 50 years. But Rubio‘s already been there. He went toe-to-toe with The Donald in 2016 and though he came up short, he still went ahead to rattle off a pair of impressive, successive U.S. Senate victories. Might Rubio consider another presidential run of his own? Then there is Scott, now responsible for raising and doling out tens of millions in campaign cash to help flip the U.S. into Republican control.
“In praise of competence” via Jonah Goldberg of The Dispatch — Floridians had two years to watch what their Governor was doing, and they re-elected him by gobsmacking, historic margins. It gives you a sense of how voters who actually like and recognize competence respond. The same goes for Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine. Admittedly, it’s a more Republican state, but he won by 26 points. New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu won by 16 points. The most interesting front in this battle is the effort to spin the reason for DeSantis’ massive victory. Rod Dreher scorns the “normie” Republicans as a themeless pudding. “The future of American political conservatism,” Rod writes, “is Ron DeSantis, J.D. Vance, and National Conservative-style Republicans like them. Not MAGA. Not the Bulwark sad remnants of the pre-Trump GOP establishment.”
“‘Victims of Communism Day’ in Florida schools steeped in propaganda, not education” via Frank Cerabino of The Palm Beach Post — With the past week’s distractions of the Midterm Elections and another hurricane, you may have missed Florida’s inaugural Victims of Communism Day. You probably thought Nov. 7 was already fully committed — with National Bittersweet Chocolate with Almonds Day, National Cancer Awareness Day, and National Hug a Bear Day. (All true.) But in Florida, we’ve squeezed in Victims of Communism Day, the product of a state law passed this year that requires public high school students in Florida to be educated every November about evil political regimes. The timing of the first observance for the day before Election Day was probably just a coincidence.
“Judge’s actions at Parkland sentencing need scrutiny” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — Given human nature, it is understandable that some of those who lost loved ones in the Parkland massacre would want to vent their anger at the killer’s public defenders for saving him from death row. But it’s neither understandable nor acceptable that Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer allowed them to do it during a recent two-day sentencing hearing. Worse, she was abusive herself, berating and humiliating Public Defender Gordon Weekes and his chief assistant David Wheeler for trying to defend their people from attacks in the courtroom.
“Florida ranked 32nd among states plus D.C. for the rate at which the state was graduating bachelor’s degrees in science and engineering in 2021” via Paul Cottle of the Bridge to Tomorrow — In 2021, Florida continued to be below average in producing new bachelor’s degree graduates in science and engineering. The state ranked 32nd among states plus DC in the number of bachelor’s degrees in science and engineering conferred per 1,000 individuals 18-24 years old. The science and engineering degree count includes, in addition to engineering, the physical, mathematical, computing and social sciences. The rate of bachelor’s degree awards in science and engineering has been growing steadily during the last decade, both nationally and in Florida. The national rate grew by 45% from 2011 to 2021, and the Florida rate grew by 59% during the same period.
— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —
— ALOE —
“Swipe and buy: Social media is now a destination for holiday shopping” via Jaclyn Peiser of The Washington Post — Research shows 60% of Gen Z (born from 1997 to 2012) and 56% of millennials (1981 to 1996) will do at least some holiday shopping on TikTok, Instagram, YouTube and similar apps, according to the consulting firm Deloitte. That’s a significant leap from the 49 and 46%, respectively, recorded in 2021. Even Gen X and boomers have warmed up to the trend, the study found. What’s more, social media is a key starting point: 6 in 10 shoppers say they get “inspiration and ideas” from the sites.
“Blue Angels Homecoming Air Show draws thousands to NAS Pensacola in a true homecoming” via Brittany Misencik of the Pensacola News Journal — In a sense, the Blue Angels Homecoming Air Show at Naval Air Station Pensacola on Friday and Saturday marked a return to normalcy. But it sure didn’t feel like it. The air show marked the first show hosted on the base since 2019, a homecoming in the truest sense of the word, and the excitement was palpable in the fans, in the pilots and in the atmosphere. Before gates could even open at 8 a.m. Friday, cars, and buses were already forming lines. About 72,000 people came out to the Blue Angels Homecoming Air Show Friday, marking a noticeably high turnout for a Friday performance, according to NAS Pensacola Public Affairs Officer Jason Bortz. Even so, the day went on without a major hitch.
“After rough start, Virgin Voyages finishes first year of adult cruising with new ship in Miami” via Anna Jean Kaiser of the Miami Herald — Minneapolis-area couple Bob Lehr and Michael Clabaugh stood among the crowd on Oct. 30 waiting to board the first sailing of Virgin Voyages’ new ship at PortMiami, the Valiant Lady, which holds 2,770 passengers. “No kids,” they said in unison. It’s their third cruise on Virgin since the Richard Branson-owned company first welcomed passengers aboard in October 2021, a year and a half behind schedule. Virgin nears completion of its first full year of adults-only cruising, quite optimistic about its future in South Florida. Its second ship Valiant Lady will sail from Miami, during the winter season.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Belated best wishes to Speaker-to-be Sam Garrison, Mark Delegal and top lobbyist David Ramba. Celebrating today are former Speaker Will Weatherford, our brilliant friend Karen Cyphers, Brittney Metzger, Debbie Millner, and Victoria Elliott York.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel Dean, Renzo Downey, Jacob Ogles, and Drew Wilson.