Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 11.15.22

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Your early morning analysis of the key people and topics in Florida politics.

Good Tuesday morning.

It is becoming increasingly clear that Republicans will take back the House of Representatives, albeit by an extremely thin margin. The rumor mill is abuzz with hot takes on how Kevin McCarthy can corral enough votes for Speaker to lead a conference of certain extremists who would love nothing more than to make his life a living hell. Nobody is better at covering this soap opera than Jake Sherman and our friends at Punchbowl News, who have reported that the so-called Freedom Caucus is already preparing a list of demands to essentially hold McCarthy hostage in the days ahead.

But there is a group beyond the far-right Freedom Caucus and the run-of-the-mill moderates who the D.C. media is ignoring and could play a pivotal role in deciding the direction of the Republican Party in the years to come: Florida’s 20-member congressional delegation who essentially delivered the majority for Republicans.

It has never been a secret that Florida’s GOP congressional delegation lacked the clout in Washington compared to their Republican colleagues at the state level. However, all that changed earlier this year when Gov. Ron DeSantis insisted on redrawing the Legislature’s map to give Republicans a chance at expanding their majority. Fast forward, and that’s precisely what happened with Florida’s red tsunami delivering four pickups for Republicans, making Florida’s GOP delegation the second largest in the country behind Texas.

So, I ask: What will Florida do with its newfound political power?

Prior to Tuesday’s election, U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, the dean of the delegation, was already hinting that Florida would be looking to gain influence for the state — and that was BEFORE the Red Wave turned into a Red Fizzle.

Are Mario Diaz-Balart and Vern Buchanan looking to flex some Florida muscle?

One potential line in the sand for Diaz-Balart and Florida Republicans would be to insist they have representation at the helm of committees or leadership positions.

How is it possible that the state with such Republican muscle does not have a Chair leading any committee in Washington? In fact, Florida has not had a Committee Chair since Rep. Jeff Miller chaired the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

That argument could be laid to rest if Congressman Vern Buchanan takes the gavel of the powerful Ways & Means Committee. Buchanan, the co-Chair of the entire delegation, is extremely well-respected by his colleagues and spent the final weeks of the election traveling the state raising money for Florida’s four new representatives. Diaz-Balart has previously said the Committee Chair for Buchanan “is extremely important to us.”

Regarding leadership positions, Congressman Byron Donalds is pursuing his candidacy for GOP Conference Chair, the No. 3 position in the House. While his bid is viewed as a long shot, with Congresswoman Elise Stefanik the heavy front-runner, could congressional leaders still find a place for Donalds, who is viewed as a rising star in some GOP circles?

And what about Florida’s new Fab-Four? Newly elected representatives Cory Mills, Laurel Lee, Aaron Bean and Anna Paulina Luna all possess impressive backgrounds and may rebuff the idea of not having a seat at the table to begin their congressional careers.

This is all to say Florida may never have the political muscle that they have at this very moment.

Will they use it?

___

Veteran lobbyist Cynthia Henderson has joined Converge Public Strategies as a partner and Co-Chair of the firm’s Tallahassee-based Florida state government relations practice.

Henderson brings over 20 years of advocacy experience to Converge’s Florida team. Before joining Converge, she maintained a boutique government relations firm after serving as Secretary of Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation and Secretary of Florida’s Department of Management Services.

“Cynthia’s joining Converge is a great merging of interests. She is highly respected, has done it all, and will immediately add value to our firm’s clients. Our firm’s diverse experience and relationships will also serve Cynthia’s clients well,” said Jonathan Kilman, chair and CEO of Converge Public Strategies.

Congratulations: Veteran lobbyist Cynthia Henderson is taking her considerable experience to Converge Public Strategies.

Henderson, an attorney, began her career assisting clients in land development, land use contracts, real estate development, environmental permitting and administrative approvals. While working in state government, she was credited with successful strategic planning, design and procurement of the MyFlorida.com website, the People First online HR system and the MyFloridaMarketplace e-procurement system.

Since leaving public service, she has continued to work on real estate and land matters while lobbying on a broad range of policy and regulatory issues before Florida’s legislative and executive branches. She represents clients on issues relating to health care, technology, environment, water, infrastructure, engineering, entertainment and hospitality.

“I am excited to join a firm that can benefit from my deep lobbying and leadership experience. This collaboration will create an opportunity for me to work with an incredibly strong team of experts in our business, resulting in opportunities for both our clients,” Henderson said. “Converge has taken off quickly in Florida and major markets like New York City and Chicago. As Co-Chair of the state lobbying practice in Florida, I will help lead client growth and service here, while also leveraging the entire Converge platform.”

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@POTUS: The recent elections made an emphatic statement that in America, the will of the people prevails.

Tweet, tweet:

@ClayTravis: Republicans received millions more votes — so far — in Midterms. I think we’re underrating how many red voters moved from purple/blue states to red states because of COVID policies. Red got redder & blue got bluer. Net benefit in short term — until redistricting — is for Dems.

@CesarConda: GOP should be disappointed but not depressed. The GOP future looks bright. We will control the gavels in the House. The Senate Democrats are defending 2/3rds of the seats up in ’24. We made big gains among Hispanics. We need to focus on appealing to independents.

@MarcoRubio: We should not have a Senate GOP leadership vote until we have a clear explanation for why our 2022 campaign efforts failed AND until we have a clear understanding of the political & policy direction for the GOP Senate moving forward

@JulieGraceB: Rep.-elect Cory Mills is criticizing Ukraine aid and said he won’t support further spending, one source said.

Tweet, tweet:

— DAYS UNTIL —

FITCon 2022 begins — 2; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 3; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 7; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 10; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 19; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 19; Georgia U.S. Senate runoff — 21; 2022 Florida Chamber Annual Insurance Summit — 21; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 22; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 32; final Broadway performance of ‘The Music Man’ with Hugh Jackman — 48; Bruce Springsteen launches his 2023 tour in Tampa — 78; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 94; final performance of ‘Phantom of the Opera’ on Broadway — 95; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 112; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 129; Taylor Swift ‘Eras’ Tour in Tampa — 149; American Association of Political Consultants Pollies ’23 conference begins — 154; 2023 Session Sine Die — 171; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 171; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 199; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 248; ‘‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 255; Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 353; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 500; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 556; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 619; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 619; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 661; ‘Deadpool 3’ premieres — 724; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 822; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 899. ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,088.

— TOP STORY —

Allies of Mitch McConnell and Rick Scott trade blame for GOP not winning Senate” via Lindsay Wise of The Wall Street Journal — Josh Holmes, a Republican strategist who previously served as chief of staff to McConnell, said Scott made errors in strategy and fundraising in running the campaign arm and accused Scott of falling short in communicating and consulting with fellow Senators.

“It was run basically as a Rick Scott super PAC, where they didn’t want or need to input any Republican senators whatsoever,” Holmes said of the NRSC. “That’s a huge break from recent history where members have been pretty intimately involved.”

Holmes said particularly problematic was an agenda released earlier this year in which Scott proposed requiring all federal legislation to be reauthorized every five years — including Social Security and Medicare — and making low-income Americans pay at least some federal income tax. He later walked back the tax proposal.

Rick Scott and Mitch McConnell play the blame game.

Democrats cast the agenda as a potential blow to working Americans, and McConnell disavowed the plan publicly as concern spread among Republican lawmakers. Privately, according to Holmes, McConnell warned Scott, “When you are in leadership you don’t have the ability to do something like this without other people carrying your water.”

Curt Anderson, a political adviser to Scott, said that Republicans’ failure to retake the majority belongs to everyone: SLF, the NRSC, the Republican leader, the candidates and the party.

“But insecure small people never accept responsibility for failure,” Anderson said.

Marco Rubio renews call to delay Senate GOP leadership vote” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — The weekend did not temper U.S. Sen. Rubio’s belief that Senate Republicans need to delay their leadership vote. “We should not have a Senate GOP leadership vote until we have a clear explanation for why our 2022 campaign efforts failed AND until we have a clear understanding of the political & policy direction for the GOP Senate moving forward,” Rubio tweeted Monday, offering his latest call for dialogue after the GOP failed to flip the Senate last week. On Friday he tweeted that the “Senate GOP leadership vote next week should be postponed.”



—DESANTISY LAND —

Texas Republicans siding with Ron DeSantis over Donald Trump in poll of 2024 prospects” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — In a field including Trump and a number of other candidates, DeSantis holds a double-digit lead, with 43% support being good for an 11-point lead over Trump. Aside from DeSantis and Trump, no other contender polled above 5%. With Trump excluded, DeSantis drew 68% support. Former Vice President Mike Pence was a weak second place with 8% backing. Former Ambassador Nikki Haley garnered third place with a 5% showing. The latest Texas poll shows gains for DeSantis and attrition for Trump compared to those earlier in 2022. As recently as July, Trump held a 19-point lead over DeSantis with the same pollster. The results suggest a 30-point shift toward the Florida Governor in recent months in Texas.

Ron DeSantis is big in Texas.

Non-MAGA conservatives might have found the leader they were looking for in DeSantis” via Matt Lewis of The Daily Beast — Is DeSantis the Republican leader of the future? That’s the question on a lot of minds after Republicans suffered a disappointing night Tuesday. Going into the Midterms, I assumed Republicans would perform well enough to prevent them from having to do any soul-searching or make any changes. Tuesday night’s Midterm results make it much harder for Republicans to pretend that they are on the right track. Republicans will now be forced to grapple with how to interpret the results. What they come up with will matter greatly, because the stories we tell ourselves inform our worldview.

DeSantis sticking with Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo during second term” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — DeSantis will keep Ladapo around for a second term. Ladapo, who had been on the faculty of the University of California at Los Angeles, has been a key partner with DeSantis since coming on board more than a year ago. He has been skeptical of COVID-19 vaccines and recently led the charge to convince state medical regulators to draft new rules that prevent doctors from prescribing gender-affirming care for minors. In a tweet Monday, DeSantis said Ladapo “has done a great job” in his role as Surgeon General and Secretary of the Department of Health.

— STATEWIDE —

Kathleen Passidomo names Senate leadership team” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Passidomo will lead a Republican supermajority in the Senate for the next two years. Now, she’s announcing the half dozen Republicans, out of 28 total in the chamber, who will make up her leadership team. The Naples Republican tapped Sen. Dennis Baxley to serve as Senate Pro Tempore for the 2022-24 term. “Sen. Baxley is a man of great personal faith, deeply committed to his family and community,” Passidomo wrote in a memo to Senators.

Kathleen Passidomo taps Dennis Baxley for Senate Pro Tempore.

Clock starts ticking on final passage of medical boards’ gender-affirming rules” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — Members of the public have until Dec. 5 to request that the Board of Medicine, the Board of Osteopathic Medicine, or both Boards hold a public hearing on rules regarding the treatment of gender dysphoria in minors. The Board of Osteopathic Medicine Monday published the rule it agreed to develop in Orlando that bans surgeons from performing gender-confirming surgeries on minors. The Board of Osteopathic Medicine’s rule allows doctors to treat minors with puberty-blocking hormones so long as the patients agree to take part in an Institutional Review Board study at a Florida medical school. The Board of Medicine also on Monday published the rule it agreed to in Orlando that bans surgeons from performing minors’ sex reassignment surgeries.

Initiative launches to ‘fix the cracks’ in auto glass claims” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — A new initiative launched by insurance and tort reform groups is taking aim at assignment of benefits agreements for windshield repairs. Assignment of benefits, or AOB, is a legal process that allows policyholders to sign over their insurance benefits to a third party in exchange for a quick repair. Companies on the other end of AOB agreements often sue insurance companies to collect fees. Insurers say those lawsuits are often for inflated claims. Insurers say that AOBs, coupled with the one-way attorney fees statute requiring insurance companies to pay the cost of litigation if they lose, are driving up auto insurance premiums.

Carlos Guillermo Smith blames Democratic demoralization for Florida’s Midterm losses” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — For the first time in six years, Smith doesn’t have pressing business in Tallahassee. That’s not by choice, of course. The Orlando Democrat was one of four Democratic lawmakers ousted during the Midterms, beaten by Republican Susan Plasencia. But as he takes off his Representative pin, Smith promises he isn’t leaving the political scene. “Anything is possible, and I want to stay in this fight,” Smith said. “I don’t know what that’s going to look like, but I imagine a lot of opportunities in the wake of all this.” He just gave a speech to Orange County Democrats stating that even on the roughest of election nights, he found hope in the results.

Carlos Guillermo Smith says ‘demoralized’ Democrats led to his electoral loss. But he’s not done yet.

Anthony Sabatini can’t vote for a new Speaker. But he wants your money anyway.” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Sabatini doesn’t want House Minority Leader McCarthy ascending to House Speaker. And while the Howey-in-the-Hills Republican has no say whatsoever after losing his own race for Congress, he’s still raising money off the controversy. In a move called out on social media as a potential scam, the former state lawmaker blasted emails to supporters asking for donations to stop McCarthy. He just lays out no plan as to how to do it. An email promises his new PAC, Florida Freedom Action, will stop McCarthy. “We need 7 members of Congress to vote AGAINST McCarthy, and we need your help spreading the word and making sure that your Representative votes ‘NO,’” reads an email blast sent by Florida Freedom Action.

Space Florida moves forward on jobs, landing facility projects” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — The board of Space Florida has approved nearly $60 million for improvements to the Launch Landing Facility (LLF) and agreed to move forward with solicitations for vendors on two other mystery projects designed to bring dozens of jobs. The $58.8 million was an expansion of a previous agreement to put $41.4 million toward the development of the LLF, which NASA awarded to Space Florida to manage and operate in 2013. The money will go to The Middlesex Corporation, BRPH Engineers Architects, Inc., Michael Baker International, Inc., RUSH Construction, Inc., and Neoverde Holdings, LLC. The Board moved ahead with two other projects in which unnamed companies are poised to invest millions and create jobs in exchange for tax incentives.

— D.C. MATTERS —

An emboldened Joe Biden now faces a tough choice about his own future” via Peter Baker of The New York Times — These are heady days for Biden. The Midterm Elections offered long-sought validation. Democrats held on to the Senate, and even if they lose the House, it will be by a narrow margin. But even as the history-defying Midterms went a long way toward solving some of the President’s immediate political problems, they did not miraculously make him any younger. A week from Sunday, Biden, the oldest President in American history, will turn 80, a milestone the White House has no plans to celebrate with fireworks or splashy parties. And so, Biden confronts a choice that still leaves many in his party quietly uncomfortable: Should he run for a second term?

Joe Biden has a tough choice: Should he stay, or should he go?

Appeals court blocks Biden’s student-loan forgiveness program” via Gabriel T. Rubin and Jacob Gershman of The Wall Street Journal — A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted a preliminary injunction against Biden’s plan to erase hundreds of billions of dollars in student loans, at the request of six states that sued to challenge the debt relief. The six-page ruling wasn’t a decision on the legal merits of the Biden plan and turned for now to the preliminary issue of whether any of the six states had legal standing to challenge it. The court said that at least the state of Missouri likely had a proper basis for bringing the case. In blocking the administration from the debt cancellation during ongoing litigation, the appeals court cited the potential “irreversible impact” of allowing debt forgiveness to proceed now “as compared to the lack of harm an injunction would presently impose.”

Still not enough votes to codify abortion rights in Congress, Biden says” via The Associated Press — Biden said Monday that Democrats still lack the power to codify abortion rights into law despite his party’s stronger-than-expected performance in the Midterm Elections. “I don’t think there’s enough votes,” he said at a news conference during the Group of 20 summit in Indonesia. Biden’s blunt comments reflected how Democrats’ euphoria over their strength in the Midterms will soon collide with the likely reality of divided government in Washington. During the campaign, Biden said that if Democrats picked up seats, the first piece of legislation that he would send to Congress would be to enact a nationwide right to abortion.

GOP angling for choice Ways and Means seats already underway” via Laura Weiss of Roll Call — Between departing members and new spots that would be added in the case of a Republican majority, somewhere around 10 or 11 seats could be up for grabs on the powerful panel that oversees taxes, trade, health care, Social Security and social services programs. Even if Democrats ultimately keep the House, a scenario that is still in play, though less likely, the GOP will have a handful of panel openings that could be competitive. GOP Reps. Mike Carey of Ohio, Blake D. Moore of Utah, Greg Steube of Florida, Beth Van Duyne of Texas and Claudia Tenney of New York are aiming to get seats on Ways and Means, aides to the lawmakers confirmed.

— EPILOGUE TRUMP —

Mike Pence’s new book details Trump’s lengthy Jan. 6 pressure campaign” via Brett Samuels of The Hill — In his new memoir, “So Help Me God,” Pence wrote about how Trump told him during that call that he should decline to participate in Congress’s certification of that vote if he wanted to be “popular.” For much of the book, Pence wrote extensively about the Trump administration’s policy achievements, its controversies, and his role as an “active” and loyal sidekick to Trump. But in the book’s final chapters, which revolve around the aftermath of the 2020 election, Pence described weeks of persistent pressure from Trump and his allies who insisted he had the authority to intervene in the electoral certification on Jan. 6, 2021.

Mike Pence’s book is the harshest criticism of Donald Trump yet.

Investigators see ego, not money, as Trump’s motive on classified papers” via Devlin Barrett and Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post — As part of the investigation, federal authorities reviewed the classified documents that were recovered from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home and private club, looking to see if the types of information pointed to any kind of pattern or similarities. That review has not found any apparent business advantage to the types of classified information in Trump’s possession. FBI interviews with witnesses so far also do not point to any nefarious effort by Trump to leverage, sell, or use government secrets. Instead, he seemed motivated by a more basic desire not to give up what he believed was his property. Several Trump advisers said that each time he was asked to give documents or materials back, his stance hardened and that he gravitated toward lawyers and advisers who indulged his more pugilistic desires.

Nikki Fried seeks federal probe of Trump’s election fraud claim” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — Fried wants U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to address an assertion made by Trump that he sent federal authorities to halt ballot counting in Broward County during the 2018 election. “Last week, former President Donald Trump made allegations that, with the help of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and United States Attorneys, he assisted in ending ‘ballot theft’ in the 2018 election for Florida’s Governor and prevented that ‘Election from being stolen,’” Fried wrote to Garland on Monday. “It is imperative you address these allegations immediately.”

Ex-Trump Chief of Staff tells reporter that former President’s claim about 2018 Broward voting isn’t true” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Trump did not ask the FBI or Justice Department to get involved in vote counting in Broward County during the 2018 Midterm Election, his then-Chief of Staff told The New York Times. The former President last week claimed he came to Gov. DeSantis’ aid in the aftermath of the 2018 election, asserting he acted because votes were being “stolen” as part of the “corrupt Election process in Broward County.” People in Broward County and in Washington said on Friday that what Trump described never happened. On Sunday, the New York Times reported that John Kelly, who was White House Chief of Staff during the 2018 Midterms, also said it never happened.

Documents detail foreign government spending at Trump hotel” via Luke Broadwater and Eric Lipton of The New York Times — Officials from six nations spent more than $750,000 at Trump’s hotel in Washington when they were seeking to influence his administration, renting rooms for more than $10,000 per night, according to documents that his former accounting firm turned over to Congress. The governments of Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and China spent more money than previously known at the Trump International Hotel at crucial times in 2017 and 2018 for those countries’ relations with the United States, according to the documents, which were obtained by the House Oversight Committee and released on Monday. The officials spent freely at the hotel, the records show.

Fox News faces post-Midterm choice between Trump, DeSantis” via Dominick Mastranbelo of The Hill — Top talent on Fox News and leading figures in conservative media more generally have a choice to make in the coming months: Who would be the best Republican to support in a potential clash for the 2024 GOP nomination for President — former President Trump or Gov. DeSantis? Trump is expected to announce a third run for President on Tuesday, while DeSantis this week delivered Republicans one of the most sweeping statewide victories in Florida in recent memory. During his time in the White House, Trump could count on Fox and its top hosts for near-constant coverage and partisan approval. But there have been signs of a shift away from Trump at Fox for months.

Where will Fox News fall?

Trump filing in suit against Twitter compares former President to Galileo” via Kelly Garrity and Josh Gerstein of POLITICO — The 96-page filing submitted to the San Francisco-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday contends that Twitter and the federal government are working to “suppress opinions and information about matters that Americans consider of vital interest.” Those matters include the source of the virus that caused the pandemic, the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, the validity of the 2020 Election results, and the legitimacy of documents from a hard drive allegedly belonging to Biden’s son. The brief likens Trump to Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei, who was persecuted by the Catholic Church for promulgating the belief that the Earth revolved around the sun.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

Broward School Board members appointed by Gov.DeSantis fire superintendent a week before they leave” via Jimena Tavel of the Miami Herald — In a shocking move, the Broward School Board voted 5-4 to fire Superintendent Vickie Cartwright at 10 p.m. Monday, with the five members appointed to the board by DeSantis ousting her — four of whom will leave their posts in a week. Board member Daniel Foganholi, appointed in April, proposed the motion to terminate Cartwright after the board heard audit reports critical of the school district. Chair Torey Alston, selected by DeSantis in August, seconded the motion.

After months of turmoil, new Broward School Board looks for stability” via Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A tumultuous 19-month period in Broward Schools — marked by the removal and replacement of four School Board members, the indictment of a former Superintendent and an effort to fire the new Superintendent — could be nearing its end. Maybe. Four new Board members are scheduled to be sworn in on Nov. 22 after winning elections Tuesday: property manager Rod Velez, tutoring business owner Jeff Holness, lawyer and flight attendant Brenda Fam and business CEO Allen Zeman. This will be the School Board’s second major shake-up in three months. In late August, DeSantis suspended and replaced four longtime School Board members after the release of a grand jury report that found widespread mismanagement in the district.

A political shift in blue Palm Beach County? A historic reddening is taking place” via Stephany Matat of the Palm Beach Post — On paper, Democrats appeared to have a lock on Palm Beach County. But the statistics proved deceiving in Tuesday’s unprecedented election when the top Republicans on the ballot won the county. The stunning, seismic shift was a major reason Republicans running statewide races crushed their Democratic rivals with double-digit percentage margins. DeSantis beat rival Democrat Charlie Crist in Palm Beach County, 51.2% to 48.3%. And GOP candidates for the three other Cabinet positions, Attorney General, Chief Financial Officer and Agriculture Commissioner, also carried the county. Democratic candidate Val Demings did win in Palm Beach County, but only by 2,085 votes.

Palm Beach County is decidedly redder now.

A win by just 49 votes: Warren Sturman elected as Fort Lauderdale Commissioner” via Susannah Bryan of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Nearly one week after Election Day, it’s official: Cardiologist Sturman won the crowded District 4 Commission race by 49 votes. A machine recount on Monday confirmed his win. Here’s the breakdown: Sturman had 3,214 votes; software executive Kevin Cochrane had 3,165 votes; real estate agent Jacquelyn “Jackie” Scott had 2,932 votes; financial adviser Mike Lambrechts had 2,218; retired business executive Ed Rebholz had 1,169; marine industry advocate Kitty McGowan had 1,738, and retired chef Ted Inserra had 743. Sturman and two other newly elected Commissioners — former City Auditor John Herbst and community activist Pamela Beasley-Pittman — will be sworn in at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Fort Lauderdale City Hall.

St. Lucie County updates flooding: 1 home reports water inside as ‘whole county got lucky’” via Mauricio La Plante of Treasure Coast Newspapers — Although floodwaters from Hurricane Nicole rose to some residents’ doorsteps, county officials said most homes made it through the storm with no water on the inside. As of Monday, the hurricane did no major damage to homes or infrastructure, said Erick Gill, a spokesperson for St. Lucie County. After initial reports from the county during the storm indicated 15 homes in St. Lucie Village were flooded, county officials days later updated that count to one home in that neighborhood had water inside. While the hurricane ripped apart docks and submerged neighborhood streets, county building officials found much of the reported flooding did not damage the inside of homes, Gill said.

Businesses face the brunt of a housing market slowdown in South Florida” via Amber Bonefront of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Businesses tied to the real estate industry say they’ve started to feel the effects of the housing market slowing down in South Florida. Feeling the brunt of a declining market are mortgage lenders, inspectors, appraisers, real estate agents and remodeling companies, among the list of businesses. “It’s a ghost town,” says Bruce Gubnitsky, the owner of BG Appraising and Consulting, of the “steady decline” in business. Gubnitsky says he has noticed a steep decrease in the number of requests he’s been getting for new jobs. During the height of the housing market, he was getting about 15 requests for appraisals a week — and now it’s down to about five a month, he said.

Nora: New York-style hotel coming to emerging West Palm Beach district” via Alexandra Clough of the Palm Beach Post — Three top New York hoteliers are bringing a chic hotel to the planned Nora District in West Palm Beach. Nora, short for North Railroad Avenue, is slated to become a lively mixed-use district in a neglected part of the city now dominated by aged warehouses and empty lots. Those warehouses from Seventh to 10th streets along North Railroad are being converted into a cluster of restaurants and bars. And a unique hotel soon will sit among this emerging entertainment corridor north of the downtown, said Ned Grace, co-founder and managing partner of NDT Development in West Palm Beach and a Nora co-developer. “A hotel is a lifeblood to a neighborhood like this,” Grace said.

Big things are afoot for West Palm Beach’s Nora District.

Miami-area nonprofits need your help. How to donate on Give Miami Day 2022” via Michelle Marchante of the Miami Herald — Give Miami Day, one of the country’s largest annual giving events, is back with a record number of nonprofits this year. With more than 1,000 nonprofit organizations asking for donations this year, Give Miami Day 2022 needs to raise at least $20 million within 24 hours on Thursday, Nov. 17, to reach its goal, a figure it surpassed last year by a landslide. “I hope Give Miami Day creates an undeniable sense of unity that only comes when an entire community joins boldly together to lift up those who fight for a stronger, more equitable Miami,” said Rebecca Fishman Lipsey, president and CEO of The Miami Foundation, which created Give Miami Day.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

‘It was more depressing than anything’: Daytona’s Beach Street shops clean up after Nicole” via Jesse Mendoza of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — Local business owners returned this weekend to clean up the mess standing floodwaters from Tropical Storm Nicole left inside their downtown Daytona Beach shops. Net Works owner Jason Ionno, 45, was among many shop owners who cleaned the mud off their floors and walls, sifted and reorganized their merchandise, repaired storm damage and power washed their storefronts on Saturday morning. “It was gross; it was like a film of mud that was just coated everywhere,” Ionno said. “I came in and I was slipping and sliding everywhere. I called all my buddies and all the employees to try to figure out a plan, come down, and start cleaning. The faster you get to it, the better it is.”

Recovery begins on Daytona’s Beach Street. Image via The Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Former women County Council members say all-male class doesn’t reflect Volusia’s diversity” via Mark Harper of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — After the 2016 election, the Volusia County Council reached a milestone when women comprised the majority gender. The elections of Heather Post and Billie Wheeler meant four of the seven members would be female, as they joined Joyce Cusack and Deb Denys. Yet in six years, things have changed dramatically. For the first time since 1986, the Council will be without any women members. Just one — Barbara Girtman — made it to Tuesday’s General Election, and in an upset, she lost to Don Dempsey. Additionally, the six-member Volusia delegation to Tallahassee will include no women for the first time in this century. In 2006, four of the 10 members of the delegation were women.

Family of 10-year-old accused of groping school employee wants apology, counselor fired” via Danielle Johnson of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — A family is demanding action from Volusia County Schools after a district mental health counselor at Holly Hill School pressed charges against a 10-year-old student whom she accused of groping her. The incident has made national headlines — and even provided material for Saturday Night Live — but the family says the boy did not grab the employee’s breast during a hug as she reported to the Holly Hill Police Department. They have hired an attorney to defend the boy, who served a 10-day suspension from school and is still facing simple battery charges. In addition to clearing the boy’s record, the family is demanding the school district fire the employee and discipline others involved.

Bunnell Police seize 6 pit bulls, find video of dogs fighting on man’s cellphone” via Frank Fernandez of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — A Palm Coast man has been prohibited from owning animals for five years and is facing charges after police said they found wounded pit bulls at an abandoned home in Bunnell. The dogs were tethered in the backyard and only one had any food or water within reach, according to Bunnell Police. Willie L. Gardner III, 28, of Palm Coast, was charged with four counts of aggravated animal cruelty. Gardner turned himself in at the Flagler County jail on Nov. 8 and was released later that day on $40,000 bail. Gardner was already facing a misdemeanor animal cruelty charge on a separate case involving dogs.

Frank Gummey, former attorney for New Smyrna Beach, Volusia County and Daytona Beach, dies” via Mark Harper of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — Gummey, a government lawyer who was in the middle of several consequential court fights over a 44-year career, died Friday. Gummey served in Daytona Beach, Volusia County, and, finally, New Smyrna Beach before retiring in early 2018. When he left, he was the highest-paid municipal government employee in the county. He graduated from Sewanee: The University of the South, where he later served as a trustee and a regent, his widow, Susan Gummey said. He was drafted and served in the Army in Taiwan before he moved to Gainesville to earn his law degree at the University of Florida. From there, he went to work as an assistant city attorney in Daytona Beach.

Frank Gummey was a fighter, and the highest-paid government employee in Volusia County. Image via The Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Central Florida toll authority fights vulnerable community over ‘Great Wall of Poinciana’” via Kevin Spear of the Orlando Sentinel — Central Florida’s powerful toll road authority has provoked a fight with a distant, underdog community where residents decry a proposed expressway along their main street as the Great Wall of Poinciana. The conflict centers in Poinciana, an unincorporated community an hour south of Orlando’s city hall and miles south of Kissimmee. Its population of more than 70,000, many drawn to affordable homes, ranks with the region’s largest cities. Poinciana straddles two counties, Osceola and Polk, rendering it politically splintered and feeble. There is nobody like a Mayor and no elected politician lives there. The vast majority of residents are retired, working poor, Hispanic or Black.

— LOCAL: TB —

Hillsborough transit employee also secretly worked for a New Orleans agency” via Olivia George of the Tampa Bay Times — Teri Wright was hired by the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority as chief customer experience officer on Feb. 1 last year, with an annual starting salary of $200,271.75. She had previously worked at the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority as director of customer experience from August 2017 until leaving Feb. 5, 2021. But, records show, Wright began working for the New Orleans agency again 14 months after her start date with HART, as the agency’s senior director of communications. Her starting salary was $155,000, according to Darwyn B. Anderson, the agency’s chief human resources officer. The agency is “addressing this matter according to policy,” he said.

Sea turtle caught in Hurricane Nicole treated at Clearwater Marine Aquarium” via Sharon Kennedy Wynne of the Tampa Bay Times — A juvenile sea turtle caught up in Hurricane Nicole in Holiday was brought to Clearwater Marine Aquarium on Friday for rehabilitation, but the little guy has some big challenges. The veterinarians found fibropapilloma tumors, which are cauliflower-like tumors found in sea turtles. He has a “significant amount” of tumors on his body, including in his eyes, said aquarium spokesperson Kelsy Long. The team named the turtle Badlands, after the rugged South Dakota national park, and started him on fluid therapy. They are scanning him to see if the tumors are internal as well. Internal tumors are terminal, Long said. It is common for the aquarium to receive many calls about lethargic or deceased animals after a storm like Nicole, Long said, since the rough waters tend to bring weak animals to shore.

— LOCAL: SW. FL —

Thousands of calls, and no way to send help: How 911 dispatchers handled Hurricane Ian” via Dan Glaun of the Naples Daily News — The caller said it was the fourth time she had dialed 911. It was seven minutes before Hurricane Ian’s landfall. The waters were rising. She was desperate. And the storm’s 150-mph winds had cut off any source of help. “I’m sorry but we cannot go out there,” a dispatcher told her. “You’re going to need to stack things up inside your house. Stack chairs up; get on top of counters. Stack your bed on top of each other. You’re going to have to try to get some leverage against the water.” The caller responded with violent sobs. Then, her voice steadied. “I will be dead. I will be dead,” the caller said in a redacted recording.

Help was not on the way during Hurricane Ian.

Sarasota School Board poised to approve additional school days due to Hurricane Ian” via Steven Walker of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — There will likely be two more days of school this year for Sarasota County students. The Sarasota County School Board is set to approve an agenda item at Tuesday’s meeting that would add two days of school to the 2022-23 school year, according to the district’s posted agenda. The days, previously marked as professional days for teachers and staff, would be Jan. 9 and March 20. Both days are the Mondays after Winter and Spring Break, respectively, and the days were selected because the district staff felt they would be more productive for students, said Allison Foster, the district’s executive director of human resources, at a Nov. 8 School Board work session.

Collier County faces bumps on its road to recovery from Hurricane Ian” via Laura Layden of the Naples Daily News — Collier County faces challenges and frustrations as it works to rebound from Hurricane Ian. Among them: A lack of temporary housing, a shortage of workforce, and insufficient funding for nonprofits. The Federal Emergency Management has promised to provide temporary housing for displaced residents, but it hasn’t shared the details — including when travel trailers or mobile homes might start arriving. In a briefing to Collier Commissioners Tuesday, Dan Summers, the county’s emergency management director, said he didn’t have much information to offer on the housing front.

Hurricane Ian volunteers go from making sandwiches to cleaning wrecked homes” via Erica Van Buren of the Orlando Sentinel — Recovery efforts after Hurricane Ian have kept Kathryn Kelly, founder and executive director of The Heights Foundation, and her staff on their toes, switching from serving peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to cleaning and rebuilding their community. “I have a really great staff,” Kelly said. “The hurricane hit on a Wednesday and on Saturday we got together and said, ‘What can we do?’ We’re not trained for this. We thought, ‘Well, we can make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.’” “We logged 260 cases of homes needing assistance in the form of debris removal, tarps, muck out and mold remediation,” Kelly said.

Want to share your views on growth, housing, traffic and more in Collier? Now’s your chance” via Liz Freeman of the Naples Daily News — Get ready for an in-depth examination of how Collier County residents are faring. A community assessment is launching Monday. Your input is needed. Residents can speak their minds on housing costs, growth, traffic congestion, health care access, water quality, education, the local economy, and much more through surveys and in-person focus groups. Everyone is encouraged to share what has been going right and what has been going wrong for the Collier Community Assessment of 2023. It is the second time an in-depth analysis is being done, with the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation as the lead underwriter. The project is in concert with the Collier Community Foundation.

Bradenton area voters extend property tax perks for new businesses. Here’s how it works” via Ryan Callihan of the Bradenton Herald — Voters approved a referendum on Tuesday’s ballot that extended a pre-existing incentive for businesses seeking to expand in Manatee County. The Economic Development Referendum narrowly passed with 51% of the vote. That vote authorized county officials to continue providing property tax discounts to large corporations that create high-paying jobs in the Bradenton area. Manatee County voters first approved the incentive in a 2013 special election, but the perk was set to expire in June 2023. “We use it as part of a whole economic package,” said County Administrator Scott Hopes.

Why a long wait to vote in Lee County? It was a mix of hurricane hangover, laws and tradition” via Bill Smith of the Fort Myers News-Press — For Lee County poll workers, it took a lot longer than expected on Election Day 2022 to get people into a polling place to cast ballots, even though many residents opted to avoid the Election Day lines and voted in advance through vote-by-mail and early balloting. It was hours after the polls closed at 7 p.m. that the Election Supervisor released the last workers after a day that started in the early morning. It took so long because there were fewer places to cast ballots in the county. Hurricane Ian damaged several of them, and damage done by the storm to the homes of election workers reduced the number of people available to work at them.

Lee County voting took much longer than expected. Image via KATV.

Vote in precinct that includes Wellen Park may reveal residents stance on North Port contraction” via Earle Kimel of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Two races on the Nov. 8 ballot involving Precinct 541 in the city of North Port may provide insight into how city residents living west of the Myakka River might ultimately vote if given an opportunity to decide whether the city limits should contract. In both races, proponents of the push for North Port to de-annex land west of the river did well among voters who would be allowed to weigh in on that issue. Last month, the North Port City Commission reaffirmed its denial of a resident-led push to contract the city — or at least put the question to residents west of the Myakka River through a referendum.

First of two public meetings is Tuesday for Fishermen’s Village expansion” via Elaine Allen-Emrich of the Port Charlotte Sun — Fishermen’s Village is having two community development meetings regarding its expansion plans. The first is 6-8 p.m. on Tuesday and the second is 1-3 p.m. on Nov. 22. Both are at the Military Heritage Museum, 900 West Marion Ave., Punta Gorda. There will be a presentation on the project and a discussion with guests, along with a question-and-answer session. “We are excited to share our plan with the Punta Gorda community,” Fisherman’s Village owner Jon Larmore said in a statement. “Our ongoing dialogue with residents will help guide how the final project is refined and executed.” According to Larmore, Fishermen’s Village proposes a “variety” of housing and professional housing, employment, commercial and recreational opportunities.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

Financial company Paysafe to open North American HQ in Jacksonville, bring 600 jobs” via Alexandria Mansfield of The Florida Times-Union — Paysafe, a 25-year-old London-based specialized payments platform, is looking into available office spaces for a move that will be announced in more detail in the coming weeks. The new location, which is still being finalized, will need to offer “quite a bit of space” for Paysafe and is expected to bring about 600 jobs to the area over the next three years. Some employees are in Jacksonville already, said Paysafe CEO Bruce Lowthers. Paysafe employs approximately 3,300 people, according to Lowthers, and is in more than 12 spots globally across 100 payment types in over 40 currencies across the world.

Paysafe crosses the pond for a new home in Jacksonville.

FSU CARE gets $1.4M to expand program focused on students from low-income families” via Tarah Jean of the Tallahassee Democrat — Florida State University’s Center for Academic Retention and Enhancement (CARE) received $1.4 million to expand its Upward Bound program to Suwannee and Hamilton counties — adding on to its current presence in Gadsden and Jackson counties. The program, which will serve 60 high school students from low-income families in the two counties, is funded by the U.S. Department of Education over a five-year cycle. Student recruitment for the program begins this November. CARE Director DeOnte Brown, who began his role in 2021, was an Upward Bound student himself from 2003 to 2006 when he attended Gadsden County High School, formerly known as East Gadsden High. He believes that the eastward expansion will expose more students to the opportunity of going to college.

New legislation has caused confusion among school officials on rules for bathrooms” via Gershon Harrell of The Gainesville Sun — The Alachua County school district is amid reviewing its LGBTQ critical support guide to fall in line with new state regulations that took effect last month. The move comes after the Florida State Board of Education unanimously approved a new rule that says parents must be fully informed of how bathrooms, locker rooms, and dressing rooms are designated and supervised. The Alachua County school district doesn’t currently notify parents whether their children use bathrooms associated with their gender identity. Students are allowed access to restrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identity, or they must be given appropriate accommodations. Under the new state guidelines, spokeswoman Jackie Johnson said Alachua County Public Schools is technically in violation, but unsure how.

Why Panama City rejected bids to redevelop Hurricane Michael-damaged Daffin Park” via Nathan Cobb of the Panama City News Herald — Panama City Commissioners last week reviewed four proposals from contractors to redevelop Daffin Park, which sits along Kraft Avenue and was damaged more than four years ago by Category 5 Hurricane Michael. All were rejected because they cost about double what the city expected to pay. “It’s astronomically more than what we estimated,” Mayor Greg Brudnicki said. “It wasn’t $100,000 or $200,000 more; it was (about) $2 million more.” According to the meeting’s agenda, the four companies that submitted proposals for the project were BGN Contractors, Inland Construction & Engineering, Marshall Brothers Construction & Engineering and Royal American Construction. Their bids ranged between $4.835 million and $5.319 million. City engineers estimated the project to cost about $2.448 million.

— TOP OPINION —

DeSantis would pave the way for a post-Trump GOP return to normal” via Jim Geraghty of The Washington Post —

If DeSantis runs for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination — as many expect, after his staggering re-election victory last Tuesday — plenty of Americans across the partisan divide would have good reason to root for him to win the nomination.

That might sound counterintuitive to Democrats who have been fed for the past couple of years on tales of DeSantis’ perfidy, but the fact remains: Given the bizarre state of American politics during the Trump era, DeSantis would represent a return to normality.

Not that DeSantis, as either a presidential nominee or as the 47th President, would always be right, wise or admired. You might vehemently disagree with much of what he says and does. You might even hate the guy.

But DeSantis would be a Republican nominee without Trump’s worst and most destructive impulses and habits. The Governor certainly doesn’t shy from a scrap, but he fights for policies, not to prosecute vendettas. Having a normal-range Republican leader on the national stage would be a beneficial reset for the entire country.

Trump sees the threat.

— OPINIONS —

Trump obsession clouds Midterm analysis” via Byron York of the Washington Examiner — It is now common to hear or read someone blaming Trump for everything that went wrong for Republicans in the Midterm Elections. So, what happened to abortion? In many post-election analyses, it has been entirely trumped by Trump. First, it did, in fact, play a significant role, a greater role than some Republicans had predicted. The Kaiser Family Foundation concluded that the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision “disproportionately motivated Democratic voters, first-time and younger voters, and women under age 50, both nationally and in key states.”

DeSantis lays out GOP path to 2024 victory” via Gabriel Llanes for Florida Politics — Days from the 2022 Midterms, the lesson all Americans can take away is this: The people of Florida overwhelmingly supported DeSantis. Indeed, freedom is the creed in Florida, with DeSantis routinely limiting the scope of Big Government as our leader — before, during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. DeSantis’ dominance in Florida cannot be overstated, especially among Hispanics like me. In the 2022 Midterms, America’s top Governor laid the path to victory with the Hispanic vote, focusing on pocketbook issues, rejecting identity politics, and continuing to govern his state. Even as political headlines dominated, DeSantis never turned his attention from the job at hand — continuing the recovery from devastating Hurricane Ian and preparing Floridians for Hurricane Nicole. People have taken note of that leadership.

— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —

— ALOE —

Myra Daniels, Artis—Naples founding mother, gets a heartfelt farewell” via Harriet Howard Heithaus of the Naples Daily News — Between reminiscences and music, friends, patrons and co-workers recalled the redoubtable Daniels, founder of Artis—Naples, at a Saturday evening performance and reception there. More than 1,100 people filled Hayes Hall to pay tribute to the woman who transformed Naples into an arts destination. It was a heartfelt, sometimes emotional, concert starring the Naples Philharmonic that Daniels championed, and two of her favorite guest vocalists, Brian Stokes Mitchell and Harolyn Blackwell. Daniels died in Naples on June 22, at age 96. But the legacy she left lives on in Artis — Napes, which opened in 1989 as the Philharmonic Center for the Arts. Eleven years later Daniels christened the adjacent Baker Museum, which she also spearheaded.

Myra Donalds gets a fond farewell.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Celebrating today are state Reps. Michael Gottlieb and Will Robinson; Rodney Barreto of Capital City Consulting; Wayne Bertsch, Trimmel Gomes, Evan Power, Angela Rouson, and Max Steele.

___

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 FloridaPolitics.com, 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.



#FlaPol

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, Kelly Hayes, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Andrew Wilson, Wes Wolfe, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
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