Delegation for 11.15.22: Orientation — musical Chair — Leader scrap — Speaker’s choice

Imprint of the U.S. Capitol building on a dollar bill banknote
Election Day is past — time to get oriented.

Orientation

New members of Congress will not take office until Jan. 2023, but on Monday, all six of Florida’s recently elected delegation newbies could be spotted in Washington.

With New Member Orientation in full swing, the first-term lawmakers visited banquets, benefits meetings and political functions.

The energy leaned somewhere between starting-a-cool-new-job and look-mom-they-let-me-on-the-special-elevator.

Fernandina Beach Republican Aaron Bean found a picturesque spot outside the Capitol to thank constituents with a backdrop of the famous dome.

To watch Bean’s video, please click on the image below:

“Thank you so much for the privilege of serving you,” Bean said. “I’m at Washington D.C. I’m at our nation’s Capitol. Orientation is about to begin for the 80-plus freshman members of the 118th Congress. It’s kind of ironic that the Capitol is under construction, sort of like our country. Work needs to be done to make it better. I am here because you sent me. I’m forever grateful. I am looking forward to serving. Let’s go get ‘em.”

At a Democratic event in the evening, Orlando Democrat Maxwell Alejandro Frost could be seen sharing a table with (likely outgoing) Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Earlier in the day, Coral Springs Democrat Jared Moskowitz could be seen taking a turn in the Speaker’s Chair. Meanwhile, St. Petersburg Republican Anna Paulina Luna could be spotted streaming images of the Capitol rotunda.

Thonotosassa Republican Laurel Lee was snapped by The Hill carting briefing booklets and donning a Representative-elect name badge through the halls of Congress.

Meanwhile, Winter Park Republican Cory Mills, a military veteran and defense contractor, knows Washington but voiced excitement over the chance to step into members-only areas of the Hill.

“An amazing experience being on the U.S. House Floor for the first time,” Mills tweeted. “I look forward to fighting for Florida’s 7th District and all Americans to protect our great nation.”

Conference fight

While many consider Rep. Byron Donalds to be a long shot for GOP Conference Chair, there is visible momentum behind his candidacy. As Donalds gave out swag bags filled with cigars rolled in a campaign logo and a matching steel tumbler, at least a few members of the caucus started rallying around him.

Ohio Republican Warren Davidson, a member of the Freedom Caucus, publicly endorsed Donalds. Previously, Colorado Republican Lauren Boebert had as well.

He may be a long shot, but Byron Donalds has some momentum to be Conference Chair.

Meanwhile, there were voices increasingly interested in Donalds’ vision for the party, specifically about who should lead it politically.

With the potential of a Sunshine State Conference Chair and two high-profile Floridians likely in the running for President in 2024, there have been a number of questions as to who Donalds would support. But he pushed back on Fox News reports that he told members he wants Gov. Ron DeSantis over former President Donald Trump as the 2024 nominee.

“Am I supporting one over the other right now? No, that is not true,” Donalds told Fox Business.

A vote is planned today to decide the Conference Chair. Donalds faces sitting GOP Chair Elise Stefanik of New York.

Leadership leap

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell may yet face a challenge from a Florida man for the top spot in the GOP caucus, as Sen. Rick Scott is not ruling out a run.

“A lot of people have called me to see if I would run,” Scott told Fox News Channel’s Sunday Morning Futures.

He noted that while his “focus” is the runoff election in Georgia, he’s open to taking McConnell’s job if it comes down to it.

At every turn, Rick Scott and Mitch McConnell are at odds.

“I’m not going to take anything off the table,” Scott told host Maria Bartiromo. “But my job right now is to do everything I can do to help Herschel Walker. I’m going to be there today helping Herschel. That’s what my focus is. We shouldn’t be having these elections.”

With Democratic incumbent Catherine Cortez-Masto prevailing in Nevada, Democrats are assured of at least 50 seats. Since Democrats control the vice presidency, they control the Senate no matter what happens in the Georgia runoff next month.

But despite Republicans staying in the minority, and Senators like Marco Rubio calling for a postponement, a vote nonetheless appears imminent.

That irks Scott.

“I’ve been up here four years. What is our plan? What are we running on? What do we stand for? What are we hellbent to get done?”

If the vote happens this week, expect blame thrown around about Republicans spending another two years in the Senate minority. Scott won’t be exempt, as shown by a recent piece in POLITICO, which outlined Scott’s intentions to mount a wild-card challenge to McConnell.

Uncertainties abound as this process continues to take shape, but there is a real chance Florida is crossways with caucus leadership if the coup attempt against McConnell fizzles. And there is little indication that more than a majority of Senators want change.

Marco NIMBY?

Florida’s senior Senator weighed in on a distinctly local issue this week, pointing toward federal budget consequences that could result if development gets approved in his figurative backyard. Rubio spoke out against a proposed industrial park in his home county of Miami-Dade.

“If the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners approves a proposed industrial park in South Dade on Tuesday, they will kill any chance of completing the Biscayne Bay Southeast Everglades Restoration Project,” he tweeted.

Marco Rubio bristles at development in his own backyard.

That may put the Republican Senator in line with the county’s Democratic Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, who earlier this month vetoed an expansion of the urban services boundary that would have allowed more industrial park development near the Bay.

But two-thirds of the Miami-Dade Commission previously voted in favor of the proposal, and if that majority holds, the veto could be overwritten tonight. Notably, developers argue the proposal follows through a plan the city approved while another delegation member, Republican Rep. Carlos Giménez, served as Miami-Dade County’s Mayor.

Speaker alternative

Panhandle Republican Matt Gaetz made clear he will not support California Republican Kevin McCarthy becoming the next House Speaker. Indeed, Gaetz said the Minority Leader isn’t among his top 100 choices for the post.

With projections showing a historically narrow majority for Republicans in the House, Gaetz said on his Firebrand podcast that elevating McCarthy would betray those GOP voters who did come out in the Midterms.

Matt Gaetz is no fan of Kevin McCarthy.

“I am certain that Americans didn’t hand Republicans this majority in the House, just to watch the Speaker’s gavel get handed from one member of the California delegation to another,” Gaetz said, noting Democratic Speaker Pelosi comes from the same state delegation as the top House Republican.

He said McCarthy at the moment doesn’t have 218 votes for Speaker. That has fueled rumors about whether McCarthy will be brushed aside.

For Gaetz’s part, he voiced support for Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican and perhaps Gaetz’s closest ally in the House.

“Jim Jordan is the hardest working, most ethical, most talented member of the House of Representatives,” Gaetz said. “He is the true leader of our caucus, no matter who has the fancy titles or big offices. So with such a slim majority, we shouldn’t be starting the ‘C team.’ We need to put our star players in a position to shine brightest so that we can attract more people to our policies.”

Before serving in Congress, Jordan notably worked as a wrestling coach, making the sports metaphors apropos if one wants to Google that.

Clinical

The lame-duck session offered a chance for Gainesville Republican Kat Cammack to pass legislation important to Middleburg. The chamber approved a bill renaming a Veterans Affairs Clinic in Clay County after Antisubmarine Warfare Chief Andrew Kenneth Baker.

The bill now heads to President Joe Biden’s desk. Rubio and Scott carried the Senate version, which already passed in the upper chamber.

Kat Cammack gets results for her district.

“It is so special to see this bill across the finish line during the 117th Congress,” Cammack said. “I worked on this project during my time as Deputy Chief of Staff for the district, and to see it finally pass both chambers and head to the President’s desk is an honor. I’ve come to know Ms. Tina Baker, Andrew’s widow, over the last decade, and it’s surreal to soon see her husband’s name in huge letters on the front of the building in Middleburg. His distinguished legacy will live on in the community that was such a huge part of who he was. Thank you to Senators Rubio and Scott and all of my Florida colleagues for your support of this effort.”

Cammack previously worked for Ocala Republican Ted Yoho, who she succeeded last election cycle after his retirement from the House.

Baker, whose name will now adorn the building, died in 1997 during a Navy SEAL training exercise. He died when the Trident 615, an H-60 Seahawk, crashed at sea. Baker during his lifetime served on the USS Carl Vinson, USS Coral Sea and USS Nimitz. The Middleburg man trained in Jacksonville and Pensacola during his service career.

“Honoring U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer Andrew Kenneth Baker’s legacy of bravery and service to our country is the right thing to do,” Rubio said. “The new VA clinic in Clay County provides quality care to our veterans who have dedicated their lives to serve, just like Chief Petty Officer Baker.”

Military equalizer

Michael Waltz made a pitch to Fox Nation watchers for more individuals to sign up for service to their nation. The St. Augustine Republican called the military an equalizing force in the country, during a “Modern Warriors” roundtable discussion hosted by Pete Hegseth.

“Whether you are a farm boy from Indiana or from inner-city Detroit or wherever, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, you are all forced together,” Waltz said. “It really came home to me with a World War II veteran that I became close to in North Florida, he came from the segregated South, and he told me ‘I never really had any real relationship with a person of color my entire youth. We were in the segregated South.’ And then he rounds the corner on his first ship in the Navy, and his bunkmate is Black. They’re literally sleeping on top of each other, and they become lifelong friends.”

Mike Waltz is looking for a few good men (and women).

The roundtable included Wesley Hunt, a Texas Republican just elected to the House, along with Veterans on Duty Chair Jason Church and Stuart Scheller, a Marine drummed out of service for criticizing the administration’s Afghanistan withdrawal.

Throughout the event, Waltz spoke on the military’s increasing politicization. The Congressman often fields calls from those upset about materials on “White rage” and other matters being distributed to troops.

“They are incredibly uncomfortable because they are afraid they will be canceled within the military organization,” Waltz said.

Cash burn

As more cash totals come into public view, Val Demings appears to have earned a dubious distinction.

Federal Election Commission records show the Orlando Democrat burned through more than $69 million in her Senate campaign. According to Newsweek, the Congresswoman spent more money than any candidate in the country on a losing federal campaign.

Demings spent upward of $68 million trying to unseat incumbent Rubio, who just won a third term in the Senate. Rubio spent just under $43 million. All the more frustrating, all that money resulted in a double-digit loss, with Rubio winning 58% of the vote to Demings’ 41%.

Val Demings sets a record for burning through her campaign cash. Image via @FlaDems/Twitter.

Only two candidates spent more on Senate races than Demings. The second biggest spender, Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona, burned through more than $75.9 million to secure his re-election over Republican Blake Masters.

The title for most expenditures goes to Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock of Georgia, who poured in a massive $135.8 million. He could actually take the title from Demings, though, as he was forced into a runoff with Republican challenger Herschel Walker. That December contest will determine if Demings remains the most expensive loss of the cycle.

Not forgotten

Veterans Day prompted a bipartisan House resolution championed by Palm Harbor Republican Gus Bilirakis and West Palm Beach Democrat Lois Frankel, one that specifically honored those who served in the Korean War.

Lois Frankel and Gus Bilirakis put away partisanship to honor Korean War veterans.

“Veterans of the Korean War fought hard for freedom and democracy, and it’s our honor to introduce this resolution today — on Veterans Day — recognizing their brave service,” read a joint statement from the two Florida Representatives. “It’s time veterans of the ‘Forgotten War,’ and those who have been stationed on the Korean Peninsula in the years since, get the acknowledgment they’ve earned. This Veterans Day, we are recommitting ourselves to remembering their bravery and dedication.”

Mail order

From coast to coast, voting by mail was without a doubt the star in the past week’s Midterms no matter who was on the ballot.

With that — and because hundreds of mailed-in votes did not make it to the Broward Supervisor of Elections Office in time for last November’s Special Primary, which could have changed the outcome in a five-vote margin of victory — expect to hear Debbie Wasserman Schultz speaking up at a House Committee on Oversight and Reform subcommittee hearing on the Postal Service slated for Wednesday.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz puts voting-by-mail front and center.

Ostensibly, the hearing’s focus is peak season holiday mail deliveries, but the Weston Democrat has some concerns about how the Postal Service is ensuring voters can take part in democracy.

Wasserman Schultz, who serves on the larger Oversight Committee, was denied entry to tour a U.S. Postal Service Royal Palm facility in Opa-locka in the weeks before Election Day, despite its problematic role in last November’s Special Primary Election.

She plans to discuss the results of the ballot delivery inspection efforts at Royal Palm, and her broader transparency concerns at postal facilities, her office says.

New management

Dan McFaul has been named the managing partner of Ballard Partners’ Washington office.

“Dan’s extraordinary reputation in D.C. makes him the ideal choice to lead our firm in Washington and continue our growth in the coming years,” said Brian Ballard, the firm’s founder and president. “Our firm and its clients will be well-served by Dan’s vast experience in government affairs and on Capitol Hill.”

McFaul has been a partner in the firm’s Washington office since 2017. He has been involved with more than 30 federal, state, and local campaigns in the last two decades, including races for U.S. House, U.S. Senate, Governor and President.

Dan McFaul takes a big leap forward at Ballard Partners.

He served as campaign manager to former Rep. Joe Scarborough in 1996 and 2000. In 1998, he worked as a Senior Field Analyst for the National Republican Congressional Committee and consulted on eight congressional campaigns in the Southeast and Ohio River Valley.

McFaul also served on Scarborough’s staff from 1997-2001, rising to the position of Legislative Director. He became the Chief of Staff and Communications Director for former Rep. Jeff Miller on Oct. 16, 2001, when Miller was sworn into office. Before Miller’s election, McFaul was Miller’s campaign manager during the 2001 special election cycle.

On this day

Nov. 15, 1993 — “Cuban crop-duster loaded with people lands in U.S.” via The Associated Press — A small plane loaded with 13 people fled Cuba today and landed in the United States. After it was detected by radar, the biplane, believed to be a crop-duster, was intercepted by a U.S. Customs plane and escorted to the airport in this Miami suburb, said Customs spokesperson Tom Bowers. The Cubans were interviewed by immigration officials, then received political asylum, said Mario Miranda, a Cuban American National Foundation official. The nine adults and four children aboard included the plane’s pilot, co-pilot, mechanic and several family members.

Nov. 15, 1939 — “Franklin Roosevelt lays block 208 at Thomas Jefferson Memorial” via the Library of Congress — President Roosevelt laid the cornerstone at the unfinished $3 million memorial. To the stonecutter who made the stone, it was better identified as simply ‘No. 208.’ A photo shows the President as he wielded a trowel handed down through generations since George Washington. “It has been reserved to two of those leaders (Washington and Abraham Lincoln) to receive special tribute in the nation’s capital by the erection of national shrines perpetuating their memories,” he said. “Today we lay the cornerstone of a third great shrine.”

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Delegation is published by Peter Schorsch and compiled by Jacob Ogles and edited and assembled by Phil Ammann and Ryan Nicol, with contributions by A.G. Gancarski and Anne Geggis.

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