Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 11.16.22

Sunburn Orange Tally (5)
Links and commentary about Florida politics that are as crisp as morning bacon.

Good Wednesday morning.

Karis Lockhart is joining The Southern Group’s advocacy team after an extensive career in state and local campaigns. She brings with her expertise in policy and appropriations on issues ranging from economic growth and development to infrastructure, sustainability, resiliency and disaster response.

“Karis literally grew up in the political process and those early experiences have positioned her for untold success in Florida’s political arena,” Southern Group founder and Chair Paul Bradshaw said. “The depth of her contacts and the sophistication of her political strategies translate to wins, whether she’s on the campaign trail or in the halls of the Capitol. I’m confident our Southern clients are going to benefit from her addition to our advocacy team.”

Congratulations: Karis Lockhart brings her experience in policy and appropriations to The Southern Group.

Lockhart previously served as the Deputy Director of legislative and cabinet affairs for the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO), where she brought various agency priority issues to successful conclusions. There, she helped secure funding and establish policies supporting the state’s workforce, and successfully championed the state’s rural economic development grants programs. Other successes include the implementation of the Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) program and the establishment of the Florida Office of Broadband.

Lockhart’s campaign experience includes work for Gov. Ron DeSantis’ 2018 campaign where she cultivated relationships throughout Florida’s political landscape, including with city, county and regional contacts in Central Florida, where she is from.


@TheRickWilson: It’s amazing to see how @RonDeSantisFL is disrespecting the man he once worshipped. Sad! Weak! Low energy! He owes (Donald) Trump so much he should be in Mar-a-Lago parking cars for the big event tonight.

@maggieNYT: Trump says we went decades without a war during his four years in office

@SenRickScott: The status quo is broken and big change is needed. It’s time for new leadership in the Senate that unites Republicans to advance a bold conservative agenda. That’s why I’m running to be the Senate Republican Leader.

@Paul_Renner: The 85-member @FLGOPMajority is now complete! Floridians have elected the largest supermajority ever to lead with a conservative vision.

@RalstonReports: I am genuinely puzzled by the notion that supposed leaders who have undermined faith in democracy by echoing Trump’s phony claims of voter fraud (and never relented) — this is a disqualifying offense in my view — should be given a pat on the back for conceding races this year.

@CEvangelista413: Fun day on Twitter where the two main topics are Taylor Swift tickets and World War III


FITCon 2022 begins — 1; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 2; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 6; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 9; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 18; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 18; Georgia U.S. Senate runoff — 20; 2022 Florida Chamber Annual Insurance Summit — 20; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 21; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 31; final Broadway performance of ‘The Music Man’ with Hugh Jackman — 47; The James Madison Institute’s Annual Dinner — 70; Bruce Springsteen launches his 2023 tour in Tampa — 77; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 93; final performance of ‘Phantom of the Opera’ on Broadway — 94; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 111; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 128; Swift’s ‘Eras’ Tour in Tampa — 148; American Association of Political Consultants Pollies ’23 conference begins — 153; 2023 Session Sine Die — 170; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 170; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 198; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 247; ‘‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 254; Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 352; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 499; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 555; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 618; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 618; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 660; ‘Deadpool 3’ premieres — 723; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 821; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 898. ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,087.


Donald Trump files for another run at the presidency” via Christopher Cadelago, Meridith Mcgraw and Alex Isenstadt of POLITICO — Trump, who lost the 2020 election and left the White House under the cloud of impeachment for his role in the Jan. 6 riots on Capitol Hill, is running for President again. It is an extraordinary — although long-anticipated — move for Trump, one certain to reshape his party’s trajectory, raise complicated legal questions and alter the presidency for the man who defeated him, Joe Biden.

Donald Trump makes it official. Image via AP.

For months, Trump and his team have been planning his announcement and sketching out a campaign operation. There will be no formal campaign manager for the upcoming run.

Brian Jack, who served as White House political director for then-President Trump and currently runs Kevin McCarthy’s national political operation, is expected to also play a key role in the campaign and will focus on the nuts and bolts of Presidential Primary politics for Trump. In addition, Justin Caporale, a former top aide to first lady Melania Trump who also served on the Trump 2020 campaign, will have a senior managerial role. Two former Trump White House officials — Clayton Henson and Alex Latcham — will be in senior political roles on the campaign.

Taylor Budowich, Trump’s current spokesman, will not be part of the campaign but instead will oversee the principal pro-Trump super PAC, MAGA Inc. Tony Fabrizio, Trump’s longtime pollster, will do polling for the super PAC.

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

Trump campaign operation takes shape ahead of 2024 announcement” via Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey and Michael Scherer of The Washington Post — Compared with 2020, the 2024 bid is expected to have a smaller staff and budget, advisers say, as Trump has complained that his failed 2020 campaign had too many people and spent too much money. He often told people that he did not even know what some of the people on his last campaign did. The new campaign is expected to be based in South Florida, advisers say, instead of having a Washington presence. Trump has told others he wants to re-create the underdog vibe of the 2016 campaign. The top advisers include Chris LaCivita, a longtime Republican strategist who is directing a super PAC tied to Trump, and Susie Wiles, who helped Trump win Florida in his previous two presidential bids and has led his political operation for the past 18 months.

The campaign is shaping up to be quite different from 2020. Image via AP.

‘Fairly irrelevant’: Trump’s bid doesn’t change Ron DeSantis’ 2024 ambitions” via Gary Fineout and Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — All signs point to DeSantis likely running for President in 2024, setting up a rivalry with Trump over the Republican nomination and, more broadly, the heart of the GOP. But those close to the Governor say he has not made a final decision yet — and that Trump’s expected White House bid won’t change DeSantis’ trajectory, at least for the next few months.

DeSantis will likely focus on being Governor for the time being, with one Republican consultant in DeSantis’ orbit saying Trump’s announcement is “fairly irrelevant for DeSantis.”

“He has the opportunity to spend the next several months governing while Trump has to try and convince people he still has the ability and faculties to govern effectively,” said the consultant. “DeSantis controls his time frame right now, so it’s almost like he gets to watch Trump punch himself out.”

Stephen Lawson, a Georgia-based strategist who was communications director for DeSantis’ successful 2018 run for Governor, contended that the “normal average Republican” is ready to back DeSantis over Trump, especially after two impeachments, the violence of Jan. 6, the recent Mar-a-Lago FBI search, ongoing legal battles over classified documents found at Trump’s Florida residence and the GOP Midterm results.

Lawson added that Trump’s attacks on fellow Republicans — including DeSantis — aren’t helping the former President.

“Each decision [Trump’s] made is chipping away a small portion of his base support — and when there is a well-liked alternative waiting in the wings, it speeds up that process,” he said.

Trump confronts changed GOP ahead of presidential announcement” via Alex Roarty of the Miami Herald — Trump has traded a Manhattan skyscraper for a Florida resort, golden escalators for palm trees, and an overlooked midday rollout for a closely watched prime-time spectacle. A lot has changed for Trump since he last launched a presidential bid from outside the White House in 2015 and not just the scenery. The former President is widely expected Tuesday to say that he will again seek the Republican Party’s Presidential nomination, declaring his intentions during a 9 p.m. speech from his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach. The announcement marks the start of a new chapter for Trump, one in which a politician who began his 2016 bid from Trump Tower in New York City to little fanfare will try to become the first person in more than 125 years to retake control of the White House after losing an election.

Facebook reminds fact-checkers Trump is off limits if he says he’s running again for President” via Donie O’Sullivan of CNN — Facebook’s fact-checkers will need to stop fact-checking Trump if he announces that he is running for President, according to a company memo obtained by CNN. While Trump is currently banned from Facebook, the fact-check ban applies to anything Trump says and false statements made by Trump can be posted to the platform by others. Despite Trump’s ban, “Team Trump,” a page run by Trump’s political group, is still active and has 2.3 million followers. Tuesday’s memo from Meta underscores the challenges social media platforms face in deciding how to handle another potential Trump campaign.


DeSantis on Trump criticism: ‘Check out the scoreboard’” via Alex Leary of The Wall Street Journal — DeSantis has a response to the criticism coming from Trump: Check the scoreboard. DeSantis was asked during a news conference Tuesday about the former President’s expected announcement tonight of another White House bid and the sharp words Trump has directed at him. The Governor didn’t directly address that — and didn’t mention Trump by name. Rather, DeSantis turned the question into a complaint about the news media, while pointing to his huge re-election win last week. “One of the things I’ve learned in this job is when you’re leading, when you’re getting things done, you take incoming fire. That’s just the nature of it,” DeSantis said in Fort Walton Beach during an event about a program to support military families.

Ron DeSantis has a quick response to Donald Trump’s taunts.

What texts messages show about DeSantis’ plan to lure migrants away from Texas” via Mary Ellen Klas and Nicholas Nehamas of the Tampa Bay Times — Weeks before the state signed a contract with a Destin-based aviation company to ship migrants from San Antonio to Democratic-leaning states at Florida taxpayer expense, executives with the politically connected firm were already in Texas with Florida officials planning the secret mission, text messages released by the Governor’s office late Monday show. The records, 87 pages in all, fill in new details on the program, showing how a recruiter scoured San Antonio churches and a bus depot in search of migrants willing to relocate and how the administration of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott helped in guiding that effort.


Fabían Basabe wins close contest for HD 106 after recount” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — One week after Election Day, the closest House race in South Florida has a winner after a recount that stretched to Tuesday. Republican former reality TV star turned stay-at-home dad Basabe will be the next person to represent voters in House District 106, a historically Democratic-leaning coastal area in Miami-Dade County. Basabe won by a 0.46-percentage-point margin, with just 242 votes more than former Bay Harbor Islands Mayor Jordan Leonard. Basabe took 26,415 of 52,588 votes cast for 50.23% of the vote. Robert Rodriguez, the assistant deputy supervisor at the Miami-Dade Elections Department, confirmed the result.

Fabían Basabe ekes out a tight win in Miami-Dade.

Senate President-designate Kathleen Passidomo picks a new Senate Secretary” via Florida Politics — Passidomo wants Tracy Cantella to be the next Secretary of the Senate and sent a memo to members asking them to elect Cantella to the post. Passidomo sent correspondence to all newly elected and returning Senators explaining why Cantella is the right person for the post, which she called an “important constitutional role.” The Senate Secretary is the Parliamentarian of the Senate and is charged with keeping all Senate records, authenticating each act and resolution passed by the Senate, publishing the journal and calendar, distributing public documents and providing bill drafting services. For the last decade, Cantella has served as professional staff to the Senate Committee on Rules, training under John Phelps, the former Clerk for the House of Representatives, and the Rules Committee Staff Director.

Protected or public? Court asks SCOFLA to again weigh in on privacy of adverse incident reports” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — A three-member panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal (1DCA) is reversing a Leon County circuit court ruling that would have required Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare (TMH) to make discoverable an internally prepared document known as “patient Safety Report No. 67593.” The appeals court also agreed Monday to ask the Florida Supreme Court whether the TMH-produced report is privileged and confidential under a federal law known as the Patient Safety Act of 2005 and, if so, whether the federal law preempts a state constitutional guarantee that residents have rights to adverse medical incident reports.

Moms for Liberty slams national teachers union for claiming it knows child needs best” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A Florida-based parental rights group is slamming the nation’s largest teacher’s union over messaging that teachers know better what kids should learn. Moms for Liberty, headquartered in Melbourne, is taking issue with a National Education Association (NEA) tweet. The teacher’s union posted, “Teachers love their students and know better than anyone what they need to learn and to thrive.” Moms For Liberty, though, said parents know their own children’s needs best. “Let’s see if we can help the NEA Today out a little bit here,” the group clapped back.


Kevin McCarthy wins nomination for House Speaker, but grind ahead” via The Associated Press — McCarthy cleared the first major step Tuesday toward becoming House speaker, winning the nomination on a vote by his GOP colleagues, but he now faces a weekslong slog to quell objections from his right flank before a final vote. McCarthy has led House Republicans this far, and with them now on the cusp of majority control, he has a chance to seize the gavel from Nancy Pelosi if Democrats are defeated. The vote was 188-31, with ballots cast by newly elected and returning GOP lawmakers, and some whose races have not yet been called. The formal vote for House speaker will come when the new Congress convenes in January, and McCarthy will need to shore up support from no fewer than 218 lawmakers with potentially just a few votes to spare.

Kevin McCarthy gets the nod, but does he have the votes to become Speaker? Image via AP.

Rick Scott challenges Mitch McConnell for GOP Senate leadership” via the Orlando Sentinel — Sen. Scott, who oversaw the Senate Republican campaign arm during the Midterm Election last week, said Tuesday he will challenge Sen. McConnell in a long shot bid for minority leader. “I’m writing to you today because I believe it’s time for the Senate Republican Conference to be far more bold and resolute than we have been in the past,” Scott said in a letter to his colleagues. “I understand that I won’t gain the support of every member of our Conference, but we all have a clear choice to make. If you simply want to stick with the status quo, don’t vote for me.”

Byron Donalds loses GOP Conference Chair bid to Elise Stefanik” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — U.S. Rep. Donalds has lost a long shot bid to become the House GOP Conference Chair. The Naples Republican challenged sitting Conference Chair Stefanik to become the No. 3 Republican in the House. Stefanik won with overwhelming support from the Republican Conference in a 144-74 vote. “As the House Republican Conference Chair, I will continue to work to; keep our message disciplined, unified and on offense every single day, support our agenda, execute an effective rapid response strategy to push back on the biased mainstream media in real time, elevate all voices of our Conference to highlight the extraordinary background and talents of every Member in order to communicate, legislate, and WIN!” Stefanik said in a statement.

U.S., Cubans will meet again in Havana: State Department” via Matthew Lee and Megan Janetsky of The Associated Press — U.S. and Cuban officials plan to meet in Havana to discuss migration policy, the latest in a series of sessions between two governments with a historically icy relationship and amid one of the biggest migratory flights from the island in decades. While the department did not offer specifics on what would be discussed, it said the talks were routine and represented a continuation of a nearly 30-year engagement with Cuba on migration matters as neighboring states. The talks were limited to migration, the State Department said. U.S. authorities stopped Cubans nearly 221,000 times in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, a 471% increase from the year before.


We can now quantify Trump’s sabotage of the GOP’s House dreams” via Philip Wallach of The Washington Post — Republicans’ disappointing performance can be attributed, at least in part, to Trump’s influence on candidate selection. But just how much? We can put a number on it by seeing how Trump-supported candidates did compared to those Republicans he did not endorse. If we look at all 401 contests in which a single Democrat faced a single Republican, there is not much difference. Relative to baseline expectations derived from their districts’ recent voting patterns, 144 Trump-endorsed candidates exceeded their baselines by an average of 1.52 points. In 257 races where Trump did not endorse a General Election candidate, Republicans exceeded their baseline by 1.46 points.

We can now put a number to the damage Donald Trump has inflicted on the GOP.

Chris Christie applauded after bashing Trump at GOP Governor meeting” via Jonathan Swan and Zachary Basu of the Miami Herald — Christie received huge applause at an annual meeting of Republican Governors Tuesday morning after blaming Trump for GOP failures in the last three elections. The chorus of Republican officeholders calling for the GOP to move on from Trump is growing louder, driving the party to the brink of civil war just as the former President prepares to announce his 2024 comeback bid.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

Florida Latinos catapulted Republicans in the 2022 election. Are they the outliers?” via Bianca Padró Ocasio and Shirsho Dasgupta of the Miami Herald — “This election proves what Ronald Reagan famously said, that Latinos are Republicans, they just don’t know it,” U.S. Rep. María Elvira Salazar said Tuesday at her victory party. “Until tonight, because 2022 has been the year of the Hispanic Republicans,” she added. Salazar’s statement is true for Florida, where Hispanic support for Republicans in the 2022 election — and for Gov. DeSantis in particular — was crucial to a decisive and crushing victory over Democrats, according to a Miami Herald analysis of precinct-level results. The margin of victory for DeSantis — a nearly 20-percentage-point difference — has catapulted him onto the national political stage and into a potential 2024 presidential run. But nationwide, the story of Hispanic voters is more nuanced.

One week after election, Fort Lauderdale in turmoil. Voters picked 3 winners but none can be sworn in. Not yet anyway.” via Susannah Bryan of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Call it news of the weird. Fort Lauderdale might have chosen three new Commissioners on Election Day last week, but don’t expect any of them to be sworn in Tuesday as originally planned. Here’s why: Winner John Herbst’s qualifications are being challenged by two losing candidates; winner Warren Sturman won by just 49 votes and the results won’t be certified until Friday; and winner Pamela Beasley-Pittman doesn’t want to be sworn in until the official results are in. That means Fort Lauderdale only has two people left on the Commission: Mayor Dean Trantalis and Commissioner Steve Glassman.

Dean Trantalis and Steve Glassman are the last two standing on the Fort Lauderdale Commission.

‘Shocked and surprised’: Superintendent Vickie Cartwright talks about being fired” via Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Broward Superintendent Cartwright on Tuesday acknowledged being “shocked and surprised” by the School Board’s late-night decision to fire her. But she says she’ll continue to “act with integrity and a students’ first mindset” in the time she’ll remain on the job. In a brief exchange with reporters, she shared her thoughts about the School Board’s sudden move to fire her with a 5-4 vote on Monday night. When a reporter asked her Tuesday if her firing was politically driven, Cartwright said she is “not prepared to say what is driving this.” She said she “will continue to go forward, under my direction that will not change” for the next 60 days.

Did Broward Superintendent’s firing violate ‘Sunshine Law’? Attorney weighs in.” via Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A day after the School Board fired the Broward Schools Superintendent, the school district’s attorney faced tough questions Tuesday over whether the late-night decision violated Florida’s public meetings law. In a last-minute vote late Monday night, the School District voted 5-4 to terminate Broward Schools Superintendent Cartwright after Board members expressed anger over scathing audits related to two district vendors. At issue is whether the Board’s decision to fire the Superintendent was done in compliance with Florida’s “Sunshine Law,” or whether the public received proper notice so that it could have a chance to participate. In response to the School Board’s questions Tuesday, school district attorney Marylin Batista explained the law to the Board members.

Two DeSantis-backed Miami school board members unofficially sworn in by Lt. Gov.” via Sommer Brugal of the Miami Herald — The Miami-Dade County School Board Tuesday welcomed two new board members, Roberto Alonso and Monica Colucci, in an unofficial swearing-in ceremony that featured Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez administering the oaths of office and a priest that asked the “Heavenly Father” to ensure “our children, our community and the nation will always have the priority on you.” The unofficial ceremony was scheduled after the members-elect requested it “to facilitate sharing their swearing-in with friends and family and felt that it would be difficult to get people to attend so close to Thanksgiving.”

County Commission overrides veto, clears project outside urban boundary near Biscayne Bay” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — Developers thwarted Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava on Tuesday when Commissioners voted to overturn a veto and allow construction of a new warehouse complex outside the current Urban Development Boundary. Only three of the 12 Commissioners sided with Levine Cava in the vote allowing the first UDB expansion since 2013 and the conversion of farmland into a commercial complex in an area the federal government may want for a major Everglades restoration project. “It opens the floodgates for sprawl and unsustainable development that threatens our economy and our health,” Levine Cava said before the override vote. It was the second veto since she took office in 2020, and the first one overridden by the County Commission.

Leaders of Florida’s largest homeowners association charged in $2M fraud scheme” via David Ovalle, Linda Robertson and Charles Rabin of the Miami Herald — Current and former board members of the largest homeowners association in Florida were charged with plundering millions of dollars from the organization’s finances. Investigators arrested five members and vendors of the Hammocks Community Association, which oversees 40 communities and over 6,500 units in West Kendall. They are being accused of engaging in a complicated fraud, racketeering and money-laundering scheme that netted over $2 million in stolen funds. The Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office said on Tuesday it will detail the charges at an afternoon news conference. The arrested members and vendors were also expected to appear in Miami-Dade bond court.

50-year, $2.8B Royal Caribbean deal sets sail at PortMiami” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — In one of the biggest deals ever for “the cruise capital of the world,” Miami-Dade Commissioners have approved a development and lease agreement with Royal Caribbean Cruises that over half a century will net the county an estimated $2.8 billion. Commissioners approved the deal, sponsored by Rebeca Sosa, without discussion Tuesday. The arrangement includes the construction of a new Terminal G for exclusive use by Royal Caribbean and its subsidiary companies, including Celebrity Cruises, and its lease there for 36 years. It also involves the continued redevelopment of Royal Caribbean’s global headquarters at the seaport that began before the pandemic and an extension to its lease there through at least 2072.

Royal Caribbean has a home — with some new perks — through 2072. Image via Jesse Scheckner.

Feds fine Frontier, 5 foreign airlines $7.25M over refunds for passenger cancellations, travel changes” via David Lyons of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Frontier Airlines, which serves all three of South Florida’s international airports, has been fined $2.2 million by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) over delays in compensating passengers for flight cancellations or significant changes in their travel plans. The ultra-low-cost carrier, which is based in Denver, was the only U.S. airline disciplined in a case that also resulted in five foreign carriers being assessed fines and ordered to pay refunds. Overall, more than $600 million in refunds were returned to passengers by the six airlines under rules backed by enforcement actions, the DOT said. Frontier paid out $222 million. Between Frontier and the foreign airlines, the agency assessed $7.25 million in fines.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

Flooding along St. Johns River persists post-Tropical Storm Nicole; Volusia boat ramps closed” via Katie Kustura of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — Boat ramps remained closed Tuesday in Volusia County as flooding along the St. Johns River continued to make conditions hazardous, officials said. Volusia County government and Sheriff’s officials in a joint statement asked residents and visitors to stay off the St. Johns River. The post states violators will be subject to arrest for trespassing and their vehicles subject to towing. The St. Johns River in DeLand “is forecast to remain within moderate flood stage for the foreseeable future,” Kole Fehling, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, wrote in Tuesday’s hazardous weather outlook.

The St. Johns River continues to flood Volusia County thanks to Nicole.

Orlando housing market flattens as interest rates hit 20-year high” via Trevor Fraser of the Orlando Sentinel — As the holidays near, Orlando’s housing market has slowed to a crawl with home prices and sales essentially flat in October and inventory continuing to inch up, according to a new report. Metro Orlando’s median home price was $365,000 in October, unchanged from September, while the 2,716 home sales were down by exactly one sale from the previous month, according to the survey by the Orlando Regional Realtor Association. The association looks at sales from Orange, Osceola, Seminole and Lake counties. Average mortgage interest rates hit 7%, the highest in the region since May 2002, according to the association. That is a 10% jump from September.

Hotel tax revenue helps Orlando pay to host LSU-FSU to kick off 2023 college football season” via Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — Orange County Commissioners Tuesday agreed to provide $500,000 in hotel-tax revenue to back Florida Citrus Sports’ winning bid for Camping World Stadium to host a Florida State University and Louisiana State University rematch to open the 2023 college football season. The Tourist Development Tax Sports Incentive Committee endorsed paying the required “bid/host” fee for the event, expected to draw 65,000 spectators and generate an economic impact of $31.5 million for the nationally televised game between the two Top 25 powers.

Texts show Disney objected to Venice ‘Indians’ name, as well as logo” via Steven Walker of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Texts between Venice High School’s principal and a representative from Disney show that Disney objected to both the school’s use of the word Indians on its school marching band uniforms as well as its logo depicting a Native American in discussing the band’s scheduled performance at Walt Disney World earlier this month. The band wouldn’t have been able to play at its planned Nov. 12 performance at Disney World even with only the word “Indians” and the Native American depiction obscured on their uniforms, the texts show. The image on the Venice High marching band uniforms normally contains a depiction of a Native American face in front of the letter V.

Deltona’s new Mayor, Santiago Avila Jr., and newly-elected Commissioners sworn in” via Katie Kustura of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — Residents packed the Commission chambers for the swearing-in of the fourth Mayor in this city’s 27-year history. Avila Jr., who won the Mayor’s race with nearly 53% of the vote on Nov. 8, took the oath while holding his 10-month-old daughter, Eliana; his wife, Maria, held the Bible on which he swore. Also sworn in were City Commissioners Tom Burbank, for District 1; Maritza Avila-Vazquez, for District 3; and Stephen Colwell, for District 5. The newly elected District 6 Commissioner, Jody Lee Storozuk, was out of town and will be sworn in when he returns. Residents also bid farewell to the outgoing Commissioners — Loren King, Victor Ramos, Heidi Herzberg and David Sosa — who received plaques from the city for their service.

Deltona makes it official, Santiago Avila, Jr. is its new Mayor.

Seminole County to get $1.3M in restitution from Joel Greenberg, Seminole attorney says” via Jeff Weiner of the Orlando Sentinel — Seminole County will receive more than $1.3 million in restitution from Greenberg after extensive negotiations with the disgraced former tax collector, County Attorney Bryant Applegate told Commissioners. Applegate described the upcoming payments — a wire transfer for $1.25 million to the county’s general fund, facilitated by Greenberg’s lawyer, followed by an expected $109,000 from the federal court registry — as “only the start of the restitution process” for the county. Applegate, who’s also the acting County Manager, said he planned to turn over Seminole’s full files on Greenberg’s misuse of county funds and resources to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for a review to figure out if anyone else should be criminally charged.


Hillsborough rethinks naming courthouse auditorium for Andrew Warren” via C.T. Bowen of the Tampa Bay Times — A portion of a downtown courthouse won’t be named for ousted Hillsborough County prosecutor Warren. Hillsborough Commissioner Mariella Smith, who proposed naming an auditorium after Warren two weeks ago, has withdrawn the plan. It had been scheduled to be considered and voted upon by the County Commission Wednesday during what will be the final meeting with the Board under Democratic control. Smith and fellow Democratic Commissioner Kimberly Overman lost their re-election bids last week. After the Nov. 22 swearing-in ceremony, the new Board will be a 4-3 Republican majority for at least the next two years. “It’s just not the right time to proceed,” Smith said Tuesday.

Mariella Smith walks back a proposal to honor Andrew Warren.

Port Tampa Bay CEO gets $250K bonus, salary raised above $550K” via Jay Cridlin of the Tampa Bay Times — Port Tampa Bay’s CEO is getting a bonus worth nearly half his salary. Paul Anderson was awarded the one-time $250,000 bonus by the port’s board on Tuesday, along with a 9% annual raise that will bump his salary from $507,000 to nearly $553,000. The raise is retroactive to Oct. 1; it includes a 6% cost-of-living raise available to other port employees, as well as a 3% merit raise based on performance evaluations. About 90% of port employees also received this raise. The bonus, which Commissioners said can be taken in cash or deferred compensation or cash, will be paid on Jan. 1. Anderson’s $250,000 bonus dwarfs the one he got last year worth $160,000.

Tampa taps new convention center director” via C.T. Bowen of the Tampa Bay Times — The Tampa Convention Center has a new Executive Director — David Ingram who had been general manager of the convention center in Orange County. “This is a home run hire for Tampa residents and the Tampa Convention Center. Few people on the planet are as well prepared to take our convention center to the next level as David Ingram,” Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said in a news release. Ingram started at Orange County Convention Center in 2003 and has served as its acting executive director, assistant director, event operations division manager, event setup supervisor, and event manager. He also worked for The Walt Disney World Co. and Gaylord Palms Resort. He was hired after a nationwide search, following the retirement of the former director, Una Garvey, in May.

Downtown Clearwater transit center can move ahead after Pinellas Commission vote” via Jack Evans of the Tampa Bay Times — Plans for a new public transit center downtown will move forward after the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority secured its final piece of funding Tuesday, with County Commissioners voting to put up to $8 million toward the project. Commissioners voted 4-2 in favor of the funding, which they had lowered from an initial $10 million request from the transit agency. The county’s portion adds to nearly $30 million in federal funding, as well as commitments from the Florida Department of Transportation, county planning organization Forward Pinellas and the city of Clearwater. The collaboration is “sort of historic,” said Brad Miller, the transit authority’s CEO.

A new Clearwater transit center clears a major financial hurdle.

Phillies buy 13 acres next to Clearwater stadium for $22.5M” via Jay Cridlin of the Tampa Bay Times — The Philadelphia Phillies have picked up a potential puzzle piece in a planned redevelopment of their Clearwater spring training headquarters. A group tied to the team has purchased a distressed 13-acre retail property immediately south of BayCare Ballpark for $22.5 million, according to Pinellas County records. The site at 21688 U.S. 19 N includes a Floor & Decor store, which has five years remaining on its lease, and a recently shuttered Buffalo Wild Wings. The seller, a limited liability company based in Denver, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Colorado in April. At that time, the Phillies were already well into negotiations to buy the parcel, said John Timberlake, the Phillies’ director of Florida operations.


Sarasota City Commissioners select Kyle Battie as new Mayor” via Anne Snabes of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — City Commissioner Battie is Sarasota’s new Mayor. Battie, a former television host, represents District 1, which encompasses many of the city’s northern neighborhoods. Outgoing Mayor Erik Arroyo nominated Battie as Mayor during a meeting Monday afternoon, and the Commission voted unanimously for him to assume the one-year post. As Mayor, Battie will fill a ceremonial role and handle running the Commission meetings. The Mayor is also often treated as a spokesperson for the city. In an address to those assembled at City Hall, Battie thanked God, his family members, fellow Commissioners, city charter officials and other city staff. He also expressed his appreciation for Sarasota’s citizens and their input.

Kyle Battie gets his shot as Sarasota Mayor.

Sarasota Republicans freak out at what’s for sale at Venice Pride” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Republican officials in Sarasota are expressing outrage that sex toys were publicly sold at Venice Pride. Jack Brill, acting Chair of the Republican Party of Sarasota County, said if the Pride celebration claims to be a family-friendly event, there shouldn’t be booths with thong-wearing drag queens hocking such merchandise. “An outrageous and unacceptable display went on Sunday at the Venice Pride Festival that requires a full investigation. A display of rainbow-colored dildos were for sale at a sidewalk booth with children walking by, while a pair of drag queens in thongs, tutus and spike heels danced lasciviously in front of the gazebo in Centennial Park,” Brill said.

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 (FEMA) has promised to supply 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.

North Port police arrest 6 in undercover crackdown on unlicensed contractors after Ian” via Derek Gilliam of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The North Port Police Department announced it has arrested six people as the department cracks down on unlicensed contractors as property owners rebuild following Hurricane Ian. In November, North Port police opened about three dozen investigations as part of “Operation Con-Tractor” with the aid of the Florida Department of Professional Regulation. The police investigation into the six people arrested began with detectives calling “advertised business numbers from the plethora of roadside signs and advertisements made on various social media sites across the city of North Port,” according to a news release.

Fire Chief: Hurricane Ian evacuees left in parking garage to save more lives” via Kate Cimini of the Naples Daily News — The Fire Chief for North Collier Fire Rescue freely admitted that his first responders left Black Hurricane Ian evacuees in a mall parking garage in Naples while the storm raged around them. However, Chief Eloy Ricardo said that is standard protocol in an emergency: first responders must prioritize saving as many lives as possible, which can mean simply moving evacuees out of danger. “During the storm, we had multiple calls that had to be triaged and put into hold,” Ricardo said. “We had people going into their attics, people on top of their cars. … We had people that the water was rushing in, and we got saturated (with) calls.

Sarasota-Bradenton airport opens new Thanksgiving holiday parking option for $5 a day” via James A. Jones Jr. of the Bradenton Herald — Whether traveling by air or car for the Thanksgiving holiday, you can expect lots of company out there, and your travel will be more expensive, too. Sarasota Bradenton International Airport, one of the nation’s fastest-growing airports, is adding parking to handle the expected overflow. SRQ will be offering holiday discount parking at 8101 North Tamiami Trail from Monday, Nov. 21, through Wednesday, Nov. 23, with a shuttle service taking passengers directly to the terminal. The cost is $5 per day with limited availability. SRQ has also leased space from Circle K on former dog track property south of University Parkway to help with any overflow.

Crowd gets an extra surprise at ceremony for Bradenton area Agriculturist of the Year” via James A. Jones Jr. of the Bradenton Herald — The recipient of the Manatee County Agriculturist of the Year Award is always a closely guarded secret. It comes as a surprise to the honoree and to the audience. Tuesday, Kiwanis President Neil Unruh had a bonus surprise. In memory of the late comedian Gallagher, who gained fame smashing watermelons and other fruits and vegetables, Unruh smashed a watermelon from the dais at Kiwanis Hall. In true Gallagher style, Unruh handed out yellow raincoats to those in the front row to protect them against the splatter. Saying that he had been encouraged to have fun at the meeting, Unruh hit the watermelon with two quick blows of a rubber mallet.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

Chamber says Jacksonville’s fintech growth, London trip secured Paysafe deal” via the Jacksonville Daily Record — JAX Chamber CEO Daniel Davis said the decision by global mobile and online payment provider Paysafe Ltd. to open its North American headquarters in Northeast Florida will “bridge the London/Jacksonville divide.” London-based Paysafe announced Nov. 14 at JAX Chamber that it intends to bring 600 jobs to Jacksonville over the next three years. Davis said the city’s growing footprint in financial technology and the chamber’s October trip to London were pivotal to the deal. He said fintech and financial services companies were not looking at Northeast Florida until City Council negotiated in 2003 to bring Fidelity National Financial Inc.’s headquarters to Jacksonville from California.

Paysafe bridges the London/Jacksonville divide.


DeSantis has reached a perilous point: Inevitability” via Dan Zak of The Washington Post — DeSantis is an Inevitable. In 2018 he squeaked into the governorship of Florida by about 32,400 votes but was re-elected last week by a margin of about 1.5 million.

He reddened traditional Democratic counties, drafted large shares of the youth, independent and Hispanic votes, and built on his handling (however debatable) of the coronavirus pandemic and Hurricane Ian. Over the course of this year, in some polls, DeSantis pulled ahead of Donald Trump as Republican voters’ preferred presidential nominee for 2024; Trump in turn bestowed him with a trademark childish nickname (“Ron DeSanctimonious”), a sure sign of the Governor’s rise in popularity.

Four days before the Midterms, his wife, Casey DeSantis, a former TV anchor, tweeted a campaign video that implied God Himself not only endorses Ron but molded him into “a fighter” who will save America from “hysteria,” among other perils.

Jeb Bush was also an Inevitable. Hillary Clinton was an Inevitable (twice!). Neither’s inevitability yielded the presidency. That’s the tricky thing about being an Inevitable.

“What voters will be looking for a year from now, or two years, is very unpredictable,” says Alex Conant, who was communications director for the presidential campaigns of Marco Rubio (once an Inevitable) and Tim Pawlenty (never an Inevitable). “So that candidate who looks perfect for the current moment might not be what they want later. Jeb and Trump are the perfect examples.”

Sometimes inevitability swirls among multiple candidates in a single cycle. Remember Howard Dean?

Hindsight, foresight. Inevitability springs from both. Trump never seemed inevitable before his election and yet, since his defeat, he’s retained a kind of boomerang inevitability. Until last week.


The enduring power of Trumpism” via Jelani Cobb of The New Yorker — Few are the demagogues noted for their superior emotional-regulation abilities, but even by that standard, the reports that former President Trump is alternately enraged and defensive over the results of the Midterm Elections are noteworthy. Not since his grudging exit from the White House in January 2021 has he inspired such levels of schadenfreude among his critics. Even those Trump-affiliated candidates who prevailed — is being read as a referendum on the dwindling viability of MAGA-style Republicanism, as well as on the former President’s prospects in 2024. But the path the MAGA movement takes toward irrelevance is likely not so simple — if, in fact, it is headed in that direction.


— ALOE —

AAA: Thanksgiving travel in Florida to exceed pre-pandemic levels” via CBS Miami — Thanksgiving travel in Florida is forecast to be the busiest in nearly two decades, since 2005. AAA forecasts more than 2.9 million Floridians will travel 50 miles or more for Thanksgiving. That’s 50,000 (2%) more Florida travelers than last year’s holiday and nearly 22,000 (0.74%) more than in 2019. Nationally, 54.6 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home, slightly below pre-pandemic levels. “Travel is still roaring back from the pandemic,” said AAA Vice President of Travel Debbie Haas. “While gas prices and other inflationary pressures weigh on budgets, travel remains a top priority for Americans, particularly during the holidays.”

Orlando bids to host LSU-FSU to kick off 2023 college football season” via Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — Orange County Commissioners Tuesday agreed to use $500,000 in hotel-tax revenue to aid Florida Citrus Sports’ bid for Camping World Stadium to host a Florida State University and Louisiana State University rematch to open the 2023 college football season. The Tourist Development Tax Sports Incentive Committee recommended bidding for the event, expected to draw 65,000 spectators and generate an economic impact of $31.5 million for the nationally televised game between the two Top 25 powers. The Seminoles and Tigers opened the 2022 college season in New Orleans with FSU stunning LSU, 24-23.

SeaWorld unveils Pipeline coaster car at IAAPA” via Dewayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel — SeaWorld Orlando has shared its first in-person look at the ride vehicles for its upcoming Pipeline roller coaster. The surf-themed ride was the subject of the first news conference of this year’s IAAPA Expo at Orange County Convention Center on Tuesday. “It is a gnarly, gigantic surfboard,” said Jonathan Smith, vice president of rides and engineering for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, who helped pull off the tarp concealing the Pipeline vehicle on the exhibit floor. The vehicle on display is the front segment of the train, with a surfboard nose and deep orange markings. Its accents, including the harness for riders, are aqua.

To watch the demo reel, please click on the image below:

‘Demon fish’ found dead in Florida ignites social media: Is it too ugly to be real?” via Mark Price of the Bradenton Herald — A dead fish found in Florida is at the center of a strange debate on social media, with some insisting it’s too horrific to be real. It began on Nov. 10 when a series of photos appeared on the Florida Photography Facebook page, showing a bizarre creature with hollow eyes, leathery black skin, and lips pulled back to reveal rows of nail-like teeth. Tammy Jenkins of Kissimmee reports she took the photos while kayaking along the Ocklawaha River in Putnam County, east of Gainesville. She even wondered if it was real. Then she saw the flies. “It got my attention because it was ugly as dirt and looked like it came straight from hell,” she told McClatchy News.

Oddly colored rattlesnake photographed in Florida wilderness. What caused bizarre look?” via Mark Price of the Bradenton Herald — Rattlesnakes don’t get much sympathy, but one seen in the Panhandle has a growing social media fan base due to its abnormal appearance. A photo shows the “baby” diamondback was born without the striking colors rattlesnakes need to camouflage themselves. The result is a venomous snake that is a beautiful but unnerving buttery yellow. “The snake is amelanistic, meaning it lacks black pigment,” the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission explained in a Nov. 12 Facebook post. “Because of its light coloration, it is less camouflaged and more susceptible to predation.” In other words, it likely won’t survive long.


Happy birthday to Johnson & Blanton’s Darrick McGhee.


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

Peter Schorsch

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

One comment

  • Joe Corsin

    November 16, 2022 at 7:37 am

    Hot: Senate retention by Dems
    Not: 👹 FAKE TOM!!!👹

Comments are closed.


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