Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 6.14.23

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Good morning. ‘Sunburn’ has been waiting for you.

Good Wednesday morning.

A top of ‘burn birthday shoutout to our friend Josh Aubuchon of Aubuchon Delegal.

Josh Aubuchon celebrates another trip around the sun.


Former President Donald Trump, still aggrieved from his 2020 loss and reeling from the “witch hunt” Democrats have launched against him, really wants his old job back.

He won’t be deterred by something so silly as a first-ever federal indictment of a former U.S. President.

Or that he’s now been indicted twice.

Or that he’s probably going to get indicted again.

Donald Trump becomes ringmaster of the Crazy Town circus. Image via AP.

Instead, he was in Miami to be arraigned on 37 counts, all felonies and most (31!) related to violations of the Espionage Act. But don’t expect a forlorn Trump, at least not publicly. Expect Trump to take a somber, serious matter, and turn it into a circus rife with fundraising pleas, outrage at the fake news media and calls for his supporters to own the libs by continuing their unwavering support.

As ringmaster of this circus, Trump should feel right at home. It’s Crazy Town, and Trump is on the way to serving as its President.

While there are countless jokes to be made about the South Florida shenanigans, Trump’s arraignment is no laughing matter.

It was a big deal when Trump was impeached, making him only the third President in American history to carry that distinction. Then he was impeached again, becoming the only U.S. President to be impeached twice.

The world should have been shocked when Trump faced his first formal accusation, from the Manhattan District Attorney on 34 felony charges related to hush money payments to (no kidding) a porn star.

But in the same way that South Floridians are nonplused when a local political official does something stupid here, Americans — those in the apolitical middle who aren’t either ferociously anti-Trump or unabashedly pro-Trump — just muttered a discouraged “of course he was” under their breath and moved on.

So, what is it going to take for the GOP to stop defending, normalizing, or otherwise kowtowing to a man who is turning American politics into a South Florida-level circus?


@BeschlossDC: This was the never-before-seen arrest of an ex-President on grave federal criminal charges and because we and our free press have been barred from watching and hearing in real time, the accused man managed to make it look like a triumphant motorcade arrival.

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:

@TheRickWilson: Other than that, Mr. Trump, how did you enjoy your arraignment?

@oneunderscore__: Disappointment among Trump fans seeping in that pretty much nobody showed up at the courthouse.

@markmobility: Miami prepared for 50,000 Trump supporters to demonstrate against his indictment. CNN is reporting 20 have shown up so far. 20.

@AnnaJKaiser: The national media in town is so confused (and annoyed but also charmed?) by the downtown Miami roosters, who are completely unfazed by the media circus and going about their rooster things 🐓🐓🐓🐓💛💛

@JoshCeb: Seeing live streamers from other parts of the country eating at the *Miami-Dade Wolfson Campus Cafe* is so … uncanny to me? It’s so weird when a national story comes to your hometown.

@StephenKing: Cormac McCarthy, maybe the greatest American novelist of my time, has passed away at 89. He was full of years and created a fine body of work, but I still mourn his passing.

Tweet, tweet:


Disney and Pixar’s ‘Elemental’ premieres — 2; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 2; Gov. Ron DeSantis to headline Nevada PAC’s annual basque fry — 3; ‘Secret Invasion’ premieres on Disney+ — 7; ‘The Bear’ returns to Hulu — 7; ‘And Just Like That’ Season 2 premieres — 8; Florida Chamber 2023 Florida Learners to Earners Workforce Solution Summit — 13; Jacksonville Mayor-elect Donna Deegan’s inauguration — 16; ‘Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny’ premieres — 16; Wimbledon begins — 19; 2023 MLB All-Star Game — 27; ‘Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning — Part One’ premieres — 28; Florida Chamber 37th Annual Environmental Permitting Summer School — 35; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 37; Beyoncé’s ‘Renaissance’ tour in Tampa — 63; The first GOP Presidential Primary debate — 70; ‘Ahsoka’ premieres on Disney+ — 70; The U.S. Open begins — 75; Florida House Fall 2023 Interim Committee Meetings begin — 96; Martin Scorsese’s ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ premieres — 114; 2023 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 131; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 142; ’Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 149; Ridley Scott’s ‘Napoleon’ premieres — 161; Florida’s 2024 Regular Session begins — 209; South Carolina Democratic Primary — 234; New Hampshire and Nevada Democratic Primaries — 237; Georgia Democratic Primary — 244; Michigan Democratic Primary — 258; ‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ premieres — 268; 2024 Oscars — 270; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 289; ‘Deadpool 3’ premieres — 324; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 345; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 408; ‘Captain America: Brave New World’ premieres — 408; New ‘Alien’ premieres — 429; Georgia Tech to face Florida State in 2024 opener in Dublin — 437; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 555; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 611; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 688; ‘Moana’ premieres — 744; ‘Avatar 3’ premieres — 919; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 1,052; Untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 1,073; Another untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 1,283; ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,423; ‘Avatar 4’ premieres — 2,382; ‘Avatar 5’ premieres — 2,745.


Donald Trump pleads not guilty to federal charges” via The Associated Press — Trump appeared before a judge in Miami’s federal courthouse Tuesday in a stunning moment in American history. Authorities say Trump schemed and lied to block the government from recovering the documents concerning nuclear programs and other sensitive military secrets stored at his Mar-a-Lago estate. It’s the second criminal case Trump is facing as he seeks to reclaim the White House in 2024. He’s also accused in a New York State Court of falsifying business records related to hush-money payments made during the 2016 campaign. Trump has denied wrongdoing in both cases and slammed the prosecutions as politically motivated. He’s expected to return to New Jersey, where he scheduled a news event to publicly respond to the charges.

Trump is downplaying the historic indictment as business as usual. Image via AP.

MAGA hats, convict stripes and a dead pig: Trump fans, foes protest at Miami courthouse” via Douglas Hanks, Carla Santiago, Ana Claudia Chacin, Tess Riski and Alex Harris of the Miami Herald — On the morning of the 45th President’s court appearance for his second indictment, there were more media than MAGA hats mulling around Miami’s federal courthouse. Reporters and TV crews outnumbered supporters of Trump outside the courthouse, where he is appearing to respond to a 37-count indictment accusing him of keeping classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach.

Who was among Trump crowd at courthouse? Jan. 6 protester, ‘Islamophobe’ and MAGA rapper” via Omar Rodríguez Ortiz and Alyssa Johnson of the Miami Herald — A crowd of supporters of Trump gathered outside the federal courthouse in downtown Miami to back the former President ahead of his first court appearance. A convicted Jan. 6 protester was one of the people seen outside the courthouse supporting Trump. Anthime Joseph Gionet, 35, also known as Baked Alaska, pleaded guilty last year to illegally protesting in the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C., after he was seen livestreaming inside on Jan. 6, 2021. Laura Loomer, 30, once described herself on Twitter as a “proud Islamophobe” after a terror attack that killed eight people in Manhattan. Loomer, who was seen outside the courthouse holding a megaphone, has lost two congressional elections in recent years.

—”Only-in-Florida moments unfold on historic day as Trump appears in court in Miami” via Anthony Man, Susannah Bryan, Angie Dimichele, Abigail Hasebroock and Jack Lemnus of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

In Miami, Trump’s ardent backers are a sign of the city’s rightward shift” via The Associated Press — Florida’s shift to the right is perhaps nowhere more notable than in this vibrant swath of the state’s southeast coast where the latest Trump drama is unfolding. Republicans have made steady inroads in this former Democratic stronghold in recent years, culminating in the GOP carrying Miami-Dade County in last year’s Midterm Elections. The party’s broader future could now hinge on what happens next in South Florida — but for a very different reason. Trump’s charges have propelled Miami into the center of a storyline that, until recently, was largely thought to be unfolding in a grand jury room in Washington.

The crowd in Miami reflects the city’s new lean to the right. Image via AP.

‘Food for everyone.’ Trump detours to Versailles to court Hispanic voters after arraignment” via Michelle Marchante, Ana Ceballos, Linda Robertson and Jimena Tavel of the Miami Herald — Trump supporters gathered at Versailles to get a glimpse of the former President as he pulled up to the famed Cuban restaurant and bakery, walked in and immediately cried out: “Are you ready? Food for everyone!” Trump, traveling in a motorcade from the Miami federal courthouse, made a strategic detour on his way back to New Jersey to court his ardent supporters at the Little Havana bakery that adjoins the restaurant, a GOP stronghold for Hispanic voters. They returned the love by taking photos, blowing kisses and singing “Happy birthday,” a day before Trump’s 77th birthday Wednesday. They were thrilled Trump stopped in their neighborhood spot following his arraignment in Miami federal court.

Marco Rubio snaps at Jake Tapper framing of Trump ‘spectacle’” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — After Trump’s court appearance, the former President was at Versailles when reporter Tapper tapped out on the laudatory footage of the man who just pleaded not guilty to 38 counts. “The folks in the control room, I don’t need to see any more of that. He’s trying to turn it into a spectacle, into a campaign ad. That’s enough of that; we’ve seen it already,” he said. “Let’s go over, again, the 37 charges that Donald Trump is facing.” On Fox News Tuesday, Rubio took issue with Tapper’s irritation with the “spectacle.” “I agree with Jake Tapper; this is a spectacle,” Rubio said. “But the spectacle wasn’t Trump going to Versailles in Little Havana. The spectacle is this prosecution. This prosecution was a choice.”


‘Awkward’ Ron DeSantis ‘has to be told when to SMILE by advisers,’ who are now desperate to get him talking with more voters after gaffes derailed his 2024 launch” via James Franey for the Daily Mail — Now, three DeSantis staffers have said they have concerns about the Navy veteran’s presentational style after being overshadowed by his wife Casey at rallies. They are now figuring out ways to overcome his rigid appearance as he makes trips to more diners and meets with smaller groups of voters in his bid to nail down the Republican nomination. “He just needs to chill out a bit and be less stiff,” one source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said. “He always looks awkward and needs to get out and meet more people.” Another senior member of Team DeSantis fumed: “If his wife is a former TV reporter and she can’t teach him, who can?” A third source said that they even had to coach the Governor on “when to smile” when trying to interact with ordinary Americans.

Ron DeSantis gets advice on being more personable with voters. Image via AP.

The DeSantis plan to wage war on ‘weaponized’ DOJ” via Philip Wegmann of RealClear Politics — The Governor has privately told advisers that he will hire and fire plenty of federal personnel, reorganize entire agencies and execute a “disciplined” and “relentless” strategy to restore the Justice Department to a mission more in line with what the “Founding Fathers envisioned.” But his ambitions go beyond bureaucratic restructuring. He wants to physically remove large swathes of the DOJ from the District of Columbia, including FBI headquarters. “We’re not going to let all this power accumulate in Washington, we’re going to break up these agencies,” DeSantis said during a private strategy session over the weekend, excerpts of which were obtained exclusively by RCP. He vowed in that call to order “some of the problematic components of the DOJ” be uprooted, reorganized, and then promptly “shipped to other parts of the country.”

DeSantis nears ‘all-time low’ in Morning Consult poll” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — The Governor faces a 40-point deficit against Trump in the survey conducted after the former President’s second indictment, a federal rap regarding the retention of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. “Nearly three in five potential Republican Primary (59%) voters back Trump for the party’s 2024 presidential nomination, up from 55% last week before news of his indictment on charges related to his handling of classified documents after leaving the White House. Almost one in five (19%) support DeSantis, nearing an all-time low since tracking began in December,” a polling memo asserts. DeSantis’ previous low was 18% in this survey back in May. The survey has a +/- 2-percentage-point margin of error, which suggests a statistical tie between then and now. DeSantis still has a double-digit lead over the rest of the field.

Nikki Haley is wishy-washy on whether she’d pardon Trump” via Isabella Ramirez of The Daily Beast — When asked if she would pardon fellow 2024 GOP contender Trump if he was convicted of federal crimes, Haley revealed in an interview with “The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show” that she would be “inclined” to do so — but she needs to see how it’s going to play out first. The ex-Governor of South Carolina called his documents case indictment “unfortunate” and claimed the Justice Department has handled it “terribly,” acting unfairly against “Republicans like Donald Trump.” However, she drew a clear line in the case the former President is found guilty. “If the claims in the indictment are true, if they’re true, then Trump was incredibly reckless with our national security, and that’s not OK,” Haley responded.

Gavin Newsom bets on Trump against DeSantis” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — On “Hannity,” California’s Newsom said DeSantis’ run for President was doomed, predicting that Trump would “clean his clock.” Newsom’s prediction that Trump would thump DeSantis came during a spirited exchange with the Fox News Channel host about migrant flights Florida sent to Sacramento from Texas, which Newsom claims were a “stunt,” “embarrassing” and “pathetic.” DeSantis has fought a bicoastal battle between the two Governors who have not faced significant tests in their own states of late. By POLITICO’s reckoning, Newsom and DeSantis are “sworn enemies that need each other.” On “Hannity,” Newsom also claimed he would do a three-hour debate with DeSantis with the Fox News perennial hosting, on “one day’s notice with no notes.”

DeSantis has a risky strategy to beat Trump — and it just might work” via Henry Olsen of The Washington Post — One might think the best strategy would be to counter Trump’s strength by being conservative enough to satisfy the somewhat conservatives and relying on moderate voters in later Primaries after their favorites drop out to pull ahead. That’s probably still the soundest approach for someone such as DeSantis, but it’s complicated by two new developments within the GOP: First, somewhat conservatives want a fighter for conservative values. They might be willing to settle for someone who can compromise in the end, but they want someone who acts and sounds more like a MAGA Republican than someone from the pre-Trump era. Second, moderate Republicans’ distaste for Trump is palpable. This means DeSantis’ gamble has some chance of success.

— MORE 2024 —

Jill Biden finds it ‘shocking’ that Republicans still back Trump” via The Associated Press — First Lady Biden in her first solo outing of the 2024 campaign said Monday it was “a little shocking” that a sizable number of Republicans are still thinking of voting for Trump even after his federal indictment, a subject that her husband has tried to avoid speaking about. She told Democratic donors that the 2024 Election presents a choice between what she described as the “strong, steady leadership” of President Joe Biden and the “chaos and corruption, hatred and division” of “MAGA Republicans.” The First Lady, speaking to a small group of Democrats in an apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, said she was surprised to see a headline before her flight landed that described a majority of Republicans in a poll saying they were still planning to vote for Trump.

Jill Biden is shocked that Trump still has followers. Image via AP.

Trulieve drops another $550K amid push to legalize adult use marijuana” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Florida’s largest medical marijuana company just dropped a chill half million on a campaign to legalize recreational pot. Trulieve, a licensed marijuana dispenser with nearly 140 locations, donated $550,000 in May to the Smart & Safe Florida political committee. The May 20 check marked the only fundraising reported by the committee during the month, but brings the total raised this election cycle by the committee to more than $29 million. Nearly all of that has come from Trulieve. Smart & Safe Florida is the official effort to place an adult-use constitutional amendment on Florida’s statewide ballot next year. If passed, it would require the decriminalization of marijuana for adults and make Florida the 24th state to legalize recreational cannabis use.


New law allows more families to qualify for subsidized children’s health insurance” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — DeSantis on Monday signed HB 121, a top priority of House Speaker Paul Renner’s into law. The new law allows Florida families to earn up to 300% of the federal poverty level, or $83,250 annually for a family of four, and continue to qualify for Florida KidCare. Previously, the program was only available to families earning 200% of the FPL, or $55,500 annually for a family of four. HB 121 takes effect upon becoming law, but the children cannot enroll in the program until Jan. 1, 2024. That gives the Florida Healthy Kids (FHK) Board of Directors time to establish premiums and copayments for newly eligible enrollees.

DeSantis inks an expansion of Florida KidCare.

DeSantis OK’s new protections for adults with disabilities” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — DeSantis has signed legislation (SB 226) that makes it clearer when, and from whom, an adult with disabilities can claim support. Democratic Sen. Lori Berman and Rep. Allison Tant sponsored the legislation, earning unanimous approval in both chambers. Berman, in Committee, said it clarifies a gray area in the law regarding adults with disabilities. The 15-page bill codifies and clarifies existing common law regarding “dependent adult children” — unmarried adults who are incapable of self-support because of a disability present before age 18. Existing statutes are largely silent on who is responsible if the parents of those adult children divorce, Tant said. “It’s been the subject of court battles for a long time,” Tant said.

DeSantis signs car dealership protection bill banning most direct-to-consumer auto sales” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — DeSantis signed a measure (HB 637) banning most direct-to-consumer vehicle sales, solidifying the future viability of car-selling operations across the Sunshine State. The measure, championed and authored by lobbyists representing the Florida Automobile Dealers Association, prohibits automakers from selling vehicles directly to buyers. That restriction, which goes into effect July 1, was considered a direct threat to the business model of Tesla, which sells its electric vehicles online and through retail locations rather than third-party dealers. But lobbyists Taylor Biehl and Jeff Sharkey of Tallahassee-based Capital Alliance Group hammered out a deal adding language to the bill that should keep Tesla galleries open. HB 637 also bars manufacturers from reserving or incentivizing the sale or lease of vehicles, including electric or hybrid cars.

DeSantis’ office tells appeals court it withheld migrant documents because of hurricane” via Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — Nathan Forrester, Florida’s senior deputy solicitor general who is representing the Governor, urged a three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal to reverse a lower court’s decision that concluded the state had violated that law and ordered the state to turn over records, emails, phone logs and contracts related to the flights that garnered national attention. The Governor’s Office received “three, sizable, multifaceted records requests” two days before Hurricane Ian made landfall, Forrester argued. “At the time, EOG [executive office of the Governor] was already handling more than 150 pending records requests, and that number would balloon to more than 260 in the next couple of weeks.”

Catholic GOP lawmakers quiet as bishop criticizes Florida for migrant relocation flights” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat — DeSantis confirmed Florida paid to transport 36 Venezuelan, Colombian, and Mexican migrants from Texas to Sacramento, California. El Paso Bishop Mark Seitz leads the Texas Diocese where Florida officials are said to have targeted the asylum-seekers. He called the incident morally reprehensible. Senate President Kathleen Passidomo was one of 24 Catholic lawmakers in the House and Senate who approved spending the money. She, along with a dozen other Catholic lawmakers who voted to fund the migrant relocation program, did not respond to a request for comment.

DeSantis is wrong. Book bans in Florida schools and in other states aren’t a ‘hoax.’” via Jonathan Friedman of USA Today — It turns out nobody wants to be known as a book banner. So, when news broke last month that Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem, “The Hill We Climb,” was being restricted to middle school shelves in a Miami-Dade County school, the Florida district was quick to insist the book had not been banned. DeSantis dismissed reporting on book bans by the news media as a “hoax.” Was the media mistaken? The Gorman affair is the latest in a string of stories about book bans, in which the use of the term “ban” is being contested.

Advertisement— STATEWIDE —

Tyler Russell joins DBPR as Chief of Staff” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — Russell has joined the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) as Chief of Staff. Russell has extensive experience leading various state agencies. Most recently he served as Chief of Staff for Enterprise Florida. Before that, he was Deputy Chief of Staff for the Florida Department of Management Services. “Tyler Russell brings a wealth of experience to the role, and we are excited to welcome him to the DBPR team,” DBPR Secretary Melanie S. Griffin said. “His leadership in various roles within the administration and for the great State of Florida demonstrate his commitment to the agency’s goals and continuous growth.”

Tyler Russell steps up to become Chief of Staff for the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

Happening today — Associated Industries of Florida hosts a “policy retreat” with an awards dinner. Scheduled to speak are Attorney General Ashley Moody and Sen. Joe Gruters: 9 a.m., TradeWinds Island Resorts, St. Pete Beach.

Happening today — The Florida Citrus Commission meets: 12:30 p.m., Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa, 5001 Coconut Road, Bonita Springs.


Joe Biden, NATO chief meet at turbulent moment for the alliance” via Matt Viser and Missy Ryan of The Washington Post — Biden met with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg as a host of challenges confront the allied group, reiterating America’s commitment to protect NATO countries that neighbor Russia at a time when Moscow’s aggression is on stark display in Ukraine. The meeting, held in the Oval Office, paved the way for a NATO summit in Lithuania next month where the alliance’s 31 member states will face a range of thorny issues. Consensus remains elusive on questions including what security guarantees to offer Ukraine, whether Sweden should be granted membership and who will lead NATO when Stoltenberg steps down later this year. Biden stressed the United States’ commitment to defending any NATO country if any part of it comes under attack, a sentiment increasingly important to the eastern allies from Poland to the Baltics.

Joe Biden meets with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg at a crucial moment for the alliance. Image via AP.

In the Senate, Biden’s spy pitch falls on deaf ears” via John Sakellariadis of POLITICO — The Biden administration’s latest bid to convince lawmakers to renew a soon-to-expire foreign surveillance power without significant new privacy safeguards is off to a rough start. The problem? The administration keeps trying to show lawmakers the value of the spy tool, while Congress is fixated on cleaning up the repeated abuses that have occurred under it. The law allows U.S. spy agencies to collect the text, email and other digital communications of foreigners located abroad. But a series of recently documented abuses involving Americans whose data has been swept up into the program has led both Republicans and Democrats to push for sweeping changes ahead of the statute’s year-end expiration date.

GOP Senator will block Biden’s Justice Department nominees to protest Trump indictment” via Alexander Bolton of The Hill — Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance said he will block all of Biden’s nominees to the Department of Justice to protest a 37-count indictment that Special Counsel Jack Smith has brought against Trump in federal court in Florida. “Donald Trump is merely the latest victim of a Department of Justice that cares more about politics than law enforcement,” Vance said in a statement. Vance’s hold on Justice Department nominees will not apply to individuals nominated to the U.S. Marshals Service. The action will not prevent Senate Democrats from confirming Biden’s nominees to the department if they have enough votes, but it will require Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to schedule votes on individual nominees, which will eat up floor time.

Senators, CFPB’s Rohit Chopra spar over proposed credit card fee limit” via Caitlin Reilly of Roll Call — Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Chopra defended the agency’s proposal to lower credit card late fees against criticism from Republicans at a Senate Banking hearing. Republicans criticized the proposal, saying credit card issuers would find other ways to recoup the cost of late payments that would make loans more expensive or elusive for low- and middle-income borrowers. Credit card late fees are required by law to be “reasonable and proportional” to the cost the companies incur to collect the debt. The Federal Reserve established a threshold at which late fees would be assumed to meet the requirements of the law. The CFPB’s February proposal would lower that threshold from $30 for the first late payment and $41 for subsequent late payments to $8. The agency estimated the change would save consumers $9 billion each year.

Democratic leader accuses Kevin McCarthy of reneging on budget deal with Biden” via Mike Lillis of The Hill — The head of the House Democratic Caucus, U.S. Rep. Pete Aguilar, said McCarthy, by encouraging GOP appropriators to set 2024 spending levels below the caps agreed upon with Biden, has both defied the terms of the deal and increased the likelihood of a government shutdown later in the year. “It’s shocking that it took less than two weeks for Republicans to walk away from an agreement that they made,” Aguilar said during a news briefing in the Capitol. Under the debt ceiling agreement, McCarthy and Biden set caps on federal spending for fiscal 2024 — when outlays are essentially frozen at 2023 levels — and 2025, when a 1% increase would be in place.

Democrats accuse Kevin McCarthy of going back on the debt ceiling deal. Image via AP.

Labor board, reversing Trump-era ruling, widens definition of employee” via Noam Scheiber of The New York Times — Labor regulators issued a ruling that makes it more likely for workers to be considered employees rather than contractors under federal law. Overturning a ruling issued when the board was under Republican control, the decision effectively increases the number of workers — like drivers, construction workers or janitors — who have a federally protected right to unionize or take other collective action, such as protesting unsafe working conditions. The ruling ensures that “workers who seek to organize or exercise their rights under the National Labor Relations Act are not improperly excluded from its protections,” said a statement by Lauren McFerran, the Democratic Chair of the labor board, which voted 3 to 1 along party lines to broaden the standard.

Freedom Caucus adds new members in the wake of House floor rebellion” via Olivia Beavers of POLITICO — The Trump-aligned bloc admitted two new members this week: Republican Reps. Diana Harshbarger and Eric Burlison. Their admittance, confirmed by two Republicans who spoke on condition of anonymity, shows that while some in the Freedom Caucus may be sparking blowback with their rebellion against GOP leaders, the group is also expanding its reach. Both Harshbarger and Burlison joined a group of Republican resisters who opposed advancing debate on the recent debt deal between Biden and McCarthy, a move that escalated intraparty tension and set the stage for last week’s floor protest by conservatives. Most, but not all, of the roughly dozen House Republicans who mounted that protest are members of the Freedom Caucus.

House passes Scott Franklin bill seeking post-hurricane grants for citrus industry” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The U.S. House passed legislation allowing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to issue block grants to farms impacted by last year’s storms. The bill (HR 662) was sponsored by U.S. Rep. Franklin, a Lakeland Republican. “The Florida citrus industry is synonymous with the Sunshine State and the backbone of many of our rural communities,” Franklin said. “Extreme hurricane seasons, ongoing trade disadvantages and invasive diseases have forced citrus growers to navigate significant challenges. I’m pleased the House acted to provide needed support so Americans can continue to enjoy the staples our domestic citrus industry provides.” Franklin rallied support on both sides of the aisle for the citrus assistance. Every member of Florida’s congressional delegation signed on as a co-sponsor of the bill.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

David Silvers launches 2026 campaign to succeed Lori Berman in SD 26” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Democratic Rep. Silvers is running for Senate — though it’ll be a few years before Palm Beach County voters see his name on a ballot again. Silvers, who has served in the House since 2016, filed paperwork to run for Senate District 26 in 2026 when Democratic Sen. Berman terms out. Between when he reaches his own term limits in the Legislature’s lower chamber next year and then, he intends to spend time with his family while preparing for his campaign and contributing to local advocacy efforts. “I am excited to announce my candidacy for (SD 26),” Silvers said in a statement Tuesday, shortly after the Florida Division of Elections listed him as an active candidate.

David Silvers looks toward 2026. Image via David Silvers.

Roger Stone tapped as consultant for group backing Alex Otaola for Miami-Dade Mayor” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Miami-Dade a Communist Free Zone, an electioneering communications organization (ECO) that registered with the county in March, paid more than $12,000 to Stone’s Drake Ventures last month. ECO Chair Luis Leon confirmed Otaola is the only candidate it’s currently backing. “He is the only person whose campaign fits our agenda,” he told Florida Politics. Drake Ventures is technically defunct. It’s not in good standing with either the Division of Corporations in Delaware, where it’s principally located, or in Florida, where its license is listed as “revoked” since September 2022 for failing to file an annual report. Two months earlier, Stone and his wife, Nydia, who co-owns Drake Ventures, settled a $2 million lawsuit with the U.S. Department of Justice over several years of unpaid taxes, penalties and interest.

Stuart to promote Mike Mortell to City Manager after 2½-month trial in interim role” via Lina Ruiz of Treasure Coast Newspapers — Mortell will be the next Manager serving in the interim position for 2½ months. The City Commission unanimously directed Interim City Attorney Paul Nicoletti to negotiate a contract with Mortell. The Commission is to consider the contract on June 26. Mortell served as a public official, including Mayor and City Commissioner, for a decade before becoming City Attorney in 2013. After the Commission votes on his promotion, it will determine how to fill the job of City Attorney. The Commission appointed Mortell interim City Manager on March 9 after David Dyess resigned to become Village Manager of Juno Beach in Palm Beach County. At the same time, Nicoletti, also a former Stuart City Manager, was named Interim City Attorney.

Broward’s county staff asked to save a half-million dollars. The Commission said no. Here’s why.” via Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Broward County Commissioners turned down a request from their own staff to save more than a half-million dollars of taxpayer money: They opted to keep a marketing firm to encourage water conservation, saying it wasn’t fair to pull the plug after just one year. The $565,000 contract with Upscale Events by Mosaic Inc. for “consultant services for water conservation outreach and communications” ran from last July and goes through June 30, 2027. An additional $625,000 in the contract calls for reimbursements for travel, advertising and printing, also for the duration of the five years.

Schools’ plan to require clear backpacks is likely scrapped after a raucous town hall” via Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The sentiment was clear — the backpacks should not be. Broward schools’ controversial decision to require clear backpacks this Fall has likely been quashed after five School Board members said at a town hall at Plantation High that they don’t support making them mandatory. Board members Lori Alhadeff, Debbi Hixon, Nora Rupert, Brenda Fam and Sarah Leonardi all announced they don’t support them, giving it five votes needed to reject it. Alhadeff said the topic is still on the agenda for a June 20 workshop and a July 25 board meeting, but she doesn’t see it passing.

Broward Schools’ administrative shake-up is reluctantly approved” via Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A major administrative shake-up of Broward Schools received approval, even though most School Board members complained the move was unfair to the next Superintendent. The action comes two days before the School Board is expected to vote Thursday to hire a new Superintendent, and most Board members want that person to make major changes. Interim Superintendent Earlean Smiley’s plan included dozens of staff changes, including high-paid promotions, demotions and non-renewals. Most of the promotions were made without advertising the jobs and going through the normal interview process, angering several Board members. “We ought to be attracting national talent, not just promoting internal candidates,” Board member Allen Zeman said.

Earlean Smiley’s plan to shake up the Broward Schools administration was approved — just barely.

‘Where do we need to go?’ Cop testifies he pushed ahead while Parkland deputy stayed still” via Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The bullets were landing everywhere: The hallways, the stairway, striking windows, the teacher’s lounge. Two investigators with the Broward Sheriff’s Office testified about the scores of recovered shell casings found in the 1200 building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after the Feb. 14, 2018, mass shooting. As the bullets flew, former Broward Sheriff’s Deputy Scot Peterson said he didn’t know where the shots were coming from to act. He is now on trial on charges of child neglect, culpable negligence and perjury for his actions — and inactions — during the Parkland massacre.

Miami Dade College and Miami-Dade Schools to tackle teacher shortage together. Here’s how” via Jimena Tavel of the Miami Herald — As a first-of-its-kind coordinated solution to the teacher shortage in South Florida, Miami Dade College and Miami-Dade Public Schools will launch a teaching academy at each high school in the county this Fall to encourage teenagers to pursue a teaching career. Through the Teaching Academy Dual Enrollment Program, high school students will be able to earn college credits oriented around education majors while working toward their high school diploma. Jose Dotres, Miami-Dade Schools’ Superintendent, and Madeline Pumariega, the president of Miami Dade College, broke the news in front of dozens of teachers, principals and administrators at a training event at the college’s Eduardo J. Padrón Campus in Little Havana.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

DeSantis elevates Judge Brandon Rafool to 10th Judicial Circuit Court” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Two years after he was appointed to the bench, Polk County Judge Rafool is headed for higher ground. DeSantis named Rafool, who since 2021 has presided over county civic and election cases, to the 10th Judicial Circuit Court. He will replace Judge Larry Helms, who state law required to retire when he turned 75 in late March. Since taking office in 2015, Helms served in both the civil and felony division of the 10th Judicial Circuit, which covers Polk, Hardee and Highlands counties. He told the Lakeland Ledger he plans to apply to be a senior Judge after he finishes a mandated one-year absence from state employment.

Judge Brandon Rafool takes the bench at the 10th Judicial Circuit.

Brevard County Commissioners will question constitutional officers on spending ahead of budget” via Tyler Vazquez of Florida Today — In an effort to manage and anticipate budget needs, the Brevard Board of County Commissioners voted to submit questions to the county’s various constitutional offices regarding their spending for the next budget year. Constitutional officers are those elected officials who, although funded by the county, are independent of the governing body of the County Commission, which ultimately decides the budget. Because the constitutional offices are independently elected, the County Manager does not set their budget as with other departments in the government. At the special meeting, prompted by District 3 Commissioner John Tobia’s request, the Commission discussed concerns that the independently elected constitutional officers could be asking for more than the county is willing to pay for and without justification.

Seminole County moves step closer toward land conservation program” via Martin E. Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — Seminole Commissioners agreed to move forward with establishing a countywide program that would purchase environmentally sensitive natural lands for conservation and passive recreation, thereby protecting open areas from sprawling developments. “If we do this, we will be the first (county) in the state that has done this,” said Commissioner Lee Constantine in support of the proposed Seminole Forever initiative. “We understand that conservation lands are vitally important to the community. And we’re not asking our citizens to tax themselves more to do it.” According to a county staff presentation and preliminary ordinance, Seminole would annually dedicate 5% — about $3 million under the current budget — of non-ad-valorem revenues collected by the county to fund the land acquisition program.

Happening today — The Florida Polytechnic University Board of Trustees Strategic Planning Committee meets, followed by a full board meeting: 9 a.m., Florida Polytechnic University, Applied Research Center, 4700 Research Way, Lakeland. Call-in number: 1-415-655-0001. Code: 24262547081.

Flagler Sheriff’s Office, Florida State Guard, police to share new $10M training facility” via Frank Fernandez of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — The Florida State Guard, the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office, and local police and fire departments would share a $10 million training facility to be built near the county jail in Bunnell, according to Sheriff Rick Staly. The state would pay the $10 million to build the training facility on land near the Flagler County Jail, Staly said. The Florida State Guard would also base its headquarters in office space now vacant at the old Sheriff’s Office administration building next to the jail, he added. “So, this is truly a regional training complex with the state guard, at least their initial headquarters,” Staly said in a phone interview. “Hopefully, they will stay there.”

‘No’: Footage shows Orlando cop refused to hand over license, fled traffic stop” via Cristóbal Reyes of the Orlando Sentinel — An Orlando police officer is facing charges after fleeing a traffic stop near Oviedo last week while driving in his agency-issued cruiser, according to the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office. A Seminole County deputy sheriff stopped officer Alexander Shaouni last Tuesday for driving about 80 mph in a 45-mph zone while driving east on Florida Avenue without his siren or emergency lights on. The deputy sped to catch up with Shaouni, pulling him over on De Leon Street and angling in front of the police cruiser to make the stop. Body camera video, which blurs Shaouni’s face, shows the officer was upset that he was pulled over, telling the deputy he was driving into work.

Bodycam footage is not favorable for officer Alexander Shaouni.

Disney Cruise Line opens up its new Lighthouse Point to Port Canaveral sailings” via Richard Tribou of the Orlando Sentinel — When Disney Cruise Line’s new private Bahamas destination Lighthouse Point first welcomes customers next Summer, they’ll be sailing from South Florida. But in the fall, the line will finally allow one of its Port Canaveral-based ships to visit as well. The cruise line announced its Fall 2024 itineraries including several visits from Disney Fantasy sailing out of the Orlando-area port while also keeping two ships sailing out of Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale with normal visits to Lighthouse Point. Also announced were special sailings to Hawaii and the South Pacific as well as a return to Puerto Rico and Galveston, Texas.

Another bear spotted in Orlando area, this time on John Young Parkway” via Jeff Weiner of the Orlando Sentinel — For the second time in as many weeks, a young bear has been spotted in an urban tree in the Orlando area, this time on John Young Parkway in Orange County. The Orange County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that the bear had been spotted near Silver Star Road, not far from College Park and Fairview Shores. The agency secured the area and alerted the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, a spokesperson said in an unsigned email. FWC spokesperson Lisa Thompson said agency staff were on the way to the sighting.


USF approves $340 million plan for Bulls’ on-campus football stadium” via Matt Baker of the Tampa Bay Times — USF Board of Trustees Chair Will Weatherford understands the risks of building a $340 million on-campus football stadium. The Bulls could continue to struggle on the field and in the stands, weighing down an athletic department with $200 million in debt. “But I believe the risk is greater to not do it,” Weatherford said. “We run the risk of falling behind.” This is why USF charged ahead Tuesday when the trustees approved a plan to erect a 35,000-seat stadium north of the practice fields in time for the 2026 season. The vote is not the last step; the Board must authorize the final budget when a team led by design firm Populous and building company Barton Malow presents a guaranteed maximum price next Spring/Summer.

A new stadium for the University of South Florida inches closer to reality. Image via USF.

$3 billion funding gap threatens highway projects in Pinellas and Polk counties” via Henry Queen of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — The details surrounding a statewide transportation funding proposal remain unsettled, as DeSantis has yet to take action on the $117 billion budget lawmakers passed in early May. In January, DeSantis requested $7 billion from the Legislature to expedite 20 highway projects, including one in Pinellas County. The general appropriations act passed by legislators only included the $4 billion in general revenue. DOT hasn’t released a final list of projects. The appropriations act awaiting DeSantis’ signature calls for the department to submit a budget amendment request to the Legislative Budget Commission laying out a project list, implementation schedule, finance plan and the budget authority necessary to implement the initiative.

To save Jackson House, Tampa Council member says city might take, dismantle it” via Paul Guzzo of the Tampa Bay Times — Bill Carlson said that in late 2013 he promised Jackson House owner Willie Robinson that he would help save Tampa’s last standing segregation-era boardinghouse. Months later, he was among those who stopped the city from demolishing the century-old downtown structure built by Robinson’s family. Robinson has since died, and the Jackson House is owned by a foundation. Now a Tampa City Council member, Carlson said he intends to live up to his vow. With the building seemingly ready to fall over, Carlson said the Jackson House Foundation should sell it to the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency. If the nonprofit refuses, Carlson said, the city should find a way to take ownership. He is even willing to condemn and temporarily dismantle the historic building.

Piney Point pollution spread farther than first thought, new study shows” via Max Chesnes of the Tampa Bay Times — The plume of polluted water from the 2021 Piney Point wastewater disaster spread farther than previously thought, new research suggests, stretching outside of Tampa Bay and more than 30 miles away to waters near Tarpon Springs. The study sheds new light on the vast environmental toll of the wastewater emergency and adds more weight to the evidence that red tide and other algal blooms flaring in and around Tampa Bay during Summer 2021 were linked to the nutrient-laden discharges from Piney Point, according to the study conducted by the University of Florida’s Department of Environmental Engineering Sciences. The findings also validate the flow of pollution predicted by computer models created by USF’s College of Marine Science in the weeks after the disaster.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

Nick Primrose nears $200K raised in HD 18 run” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Primrose has nearly $200,000 raised for his run to succeed state Rep. Cyndi Stevenson. The Republican announced his campaign has raised $143,604 for his run in House District 18. The former Florida Elections Commission Chair collected $23,800 of that in the month of May, continuing a steady pace in fundraising since entering the race earlier this year. Meanwhile, the Friends of Nick Primrose political committee has also continued to gather funding. The committee reported a total of $54,100 since its launch in March. That includes $9,500 raised last month. In total, that means $197,704 has come in supporting Primrose’s ambitions.

Nick Primrose makes serious bank. Image via JAXPORT.

Assignment editors — Mayor-Elect Deegan will hold a news conference to announce her leadership team in the Mayor’s Office: 10 a.m., City Hall Atrium, 117 W. Duval Street, Jacksonville.

Jacksonville Sheriff puts down marker of 80 more police positions next year” via David Bauerlein of the Florida Times-Union — The campaign for Jacksonville Mayor has ended but the debate over adding more police in the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) could carry over into summer as Mayor-elect Donna Deegan and Sheriff T.K. Waters put their stamps on how Jacksonville should bring down violent crime. Waters wants to add 80 new police officer positions in next year’s budget as the first installment toward putting 200 more positions in the JSO ranks, according to a proposal submitted to the Mayor’s Budget Review Committee that is collecting requests from departments and agencies. Deegan declined to comment on Waters’ proposal until she has reviewed it. Deegan has said she supports putting more officers on the street.

Ninth sentence handed down in cases of felons charged with registering or voting from Alachua County Jail” via the Alachua Chronicle — Christopher Timothy Wiggins, 54, was sentenced to four concurrent sentences of one year and one week in prison, with credit for 327 days served, after entering a plea of nolo contendere to two counts of false swearing on a voter registration application and two counts of willfully voting as an unqualified elector. Wiggins is one of 10 men who were charged with false swearing and/or fraudulent voting after a representative from Supervisor of Elections Kim Barton’s office visited the jail on several occasions in 2020 to register voters.

Jaguars owner Shad Khan brings big bucks and deal-making track record in stadium talks” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — The Jaguars’ proposal for reconstructing TIAA Bank Field and building a cluster of buildings in an entertainment district next to the city-owned stadium could total about $2 billion. The Jaguars have suggested the overall tab could be structured as a 50-50 split between Khan and the city, or a billion dollars apiece at that level of spending. “Well, it’s my money, right? Obviously, I’m going to be involved,” Khan told reporters. In football terms, the Jaguars had a home-field advantage at Strings Sports Brewery where a standing-room-only crowd had lots of fans in Jaguars attire. Khan got cheers after he made brief remarks that said Jacksonville is “on fire” and the stadium will fuel more growth.

Jaguars exploring Daytona International Speedway as possible venue during stadium renovations” via Eric Edholm of — It’s possible that if the Jacksonville Jaguars relocate for home games during proposed renovations to TIAA Bank Field, they could end up playing at Daytona International Speedway. Officials from NASCAR, Daytona, and the Jaguars are expected to meet soon to discuss the possibility of games potentially being relocated to the famed racetrack. Track President Frank Kelleher confirmed that the meeting would be in Jacksonville and that he would be in attendance. “This opportunity is something the France family [which owns NASCAR] and the entire Daytona International Speedway staff is excited to explore,” Kelleher said. “But we need to first sit down with [the Jaguars] and understand what their needs are.”

The Jaguars temporary home could be Daytona Speedway.

Resident questions proposed $1 billion in tax money on Jaguars stadium when nearly half city’s pools are closed” via Anne Maxwell of News4Jax — Some are raising eyebrows at the proposal of a billion in taxpayer dollars for Jaguars stadium improvements while nearly half the city’s pools are closed going into the hot Summer months because of repairs and staffing shortages. Some shuttered city pools are growing algae. The city’s parks and recreation director said Tuesday a big factor behind the pool closures is a shortage of lifeguards, but News4Jax found the 100-plus vacant lifeguard jobs were yet to be posted online as of Tuesday morning. The city budget shows $500,000 has been allocated for repairs and maintenance for its public pools this year, a stark contrast to the funding proposed for the stadium. The budget also shows $677,000 allocated for chemicals for city pools.

PCB prepares for Hwy 98 expansion, OKs $2.582 million more for utility relocation project” via Nathan Cobb of the Panama City New Herald — Panama City Beach City Council members voted for the city to allocate about $2.582 million more for a project to relocate utilities along Back Beach Road (Panama City Beach Parkway). The efforts are to prepare the area for a more than $192 million project to widen the road from four to six lanes. The first project is being funded by the Beach, while the second is being funded by the Florida Department of Transportation. Both are being overseen by FDOT. The city originally budgeted about $12.425 million for the project − an amount based on prior estimates that ended up not being enough. The agenda notes that because of the city’s agreement with FDOT, it is “obligated” to pay the utility project’s remaining balance of about $2.582 million.

Traffic disrupted and 15 cows dead after semi overturns on I-10 in Gadsden County” via Elena Barrera of the Tallahassee Democrat — Interstate traffic was stopped Monday after a tractor-trailer transporting cows toppled over on the roadway. The semi-truck was hauling the cattle in the westbound lane of Interstate 10 near Chattahoochee when it veered into the paved shoulder and struck a guardrail, according to a Florida Highway Patrol news release. The driver tried to get the semi-truck back on the road but overcorrected causing the load to shift. The abrupt change of weight caused the truck to fall on its side launching a cow rescue mission. A cattleman was called to help lead a cow rescue mission. He transferred the cows from the overturned rig into a trailer of his own in order to move them to his ranch, according to an FHP spokesperson.

The first ELO Fest at Depot Park on Sunday to be part of Juneteenth activities in Gainesville” via Voleer Thomas of the Gainesville Sun — The inaugural ELO Fest at Depot Park at 874 SE Fourth St., will be hosted by the Everyone Loves Oneanother Foundation Inc. from 1-5 p.m. Sunday. The purpose behind the free festival open to the public will be to celebrate Father’s Day, Juneteenth and encourage unity in the community, said Eric Lopez, founder of the foundation and a longtime disc jockey who is well-known in Gainesville and surrounding communities. “We might not look alike or have the same beliefs, but we are all fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers,” Lopez said. “We are family-first individuals that only want what’s best.” There will be various people at the festival teaching line dances and self-defense lessons to attendees, Lopez said.


Sarasota Superintendent candidates meet with Public Advisory Committee ahead of board vote” via Steven Walker of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The four finalists for Sarasota County Schools’ Superintendent vacancy took questions from a public panel appointed by the School Board as the search for the district’s next leader neared the end. Terrence Connor, the Board’s early favorite candidate from Hillsborough County, Josiah Phillips from Broward County, current Sarasota Interim Superintendent Allison Foster and Charles Van Zant of Clay County — who carried the endorsement of Trump’s controversial first National Security Adviser — took questions from the 15-member Committee for more than an hour each. The candidates were asked about how they would handle certain situations in the district, their philosophies on improving achievement and specific questions regarding their backgrounds, among other questions.

Terrence Connor is the leading candidate for Superintendent of Sarasota Schools.

North Port to consider budget without tax rate rollback, despite big property value rise” via Earle Kimel of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Despite a 16.9% increase in property values, the North Port City Commission is considering a proposed 2023-24 budget that would keep the current property tax rate, which would produce $30.75 million in revenue. That would be roughly $4.2 million more in property tax revenue than collected this year. The overall proposed city budget — which includes fee-based services such as road and drainage, fire rescue and solid waste — is projected to be roughly $236.4 million, based on anticipated revenues. Once all departmental requests are factored in — including ones Fletcher is not recommending for approval — it could be as much as $245.6 million.

City of Sarasota settles lawsuits for $150K after police crash injures passengers” via Gabriela Szymanowska of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Sarasota city officials will settle two lawsuits for $150,000 after an officer crashed into a car in 2021 with an “excessive rate of speed” causing the passengers to be injured, according to court documents. Sarasota City Commissioners held a special closed meeting on April 17 and in a unanimous vote accepted two settlement proposals, according to recorded video from the end of the session and court documents filed the next day. Assistant City Attorney Joe Mladinich said the settlement proposals were for $110,000 and $40,000. Haley Jay, of Sarasota, and Nicholas Charles Tovar, of Maricopa County, Arizona, each sued the city for damages exceeding $30,000.

After an untimely death, Cape Coral to discuss a new City Attorney” via Luis Zambrano of the Fort Myers News-Press — Cape Coral City Council will meet Wednesday to discuss and vote on hiring a City Attorney to fill a nearly $200,000 position that keeps the city out of legal trouble and insurance premiums down. A new City Attorney will have to contend with the many legal issues and disputes the city has founded itself in, including a lawsuit from Waste Pro, and an incoming suit from former City Manager Rob Hernandez. Cape Coral began searching for a new City Attorney earlier this year as Delores Menendez planned to leave her position in the Summer of 2024. However, Menendez died on May 18 after battling cancer.

Manatee County begins $19 million John H. Marble Park renovation. Here’s a sneak peek” via James A. Jones Jr. of the Bradenton Herald — A new day is coming for John H. Marble Park, where $19 million of improvements are planned. The park closed on May 22 and won’t reopen until late 2024 or early 2025. Demolition crews this week were dismantling the white metal structure with blue awnings that has been a neighborhood fixture since the 1960s. “John Marble facility has deteriorated over the years. The county took ownership of the facility in the mid-1990s. The park requires significant infrastructure upgrades and facility replacement. The upgrade to this facility will enable the county to provide after-school and health and wellness programming that was offered by the YMCA but was discontinued due to the economic downturn,” according to the Manatee County government.


DeSantis extinction theory, revisited” via Peter Hamby of Puck — Despite DeSantis’ charisma deficit, it strikes me that he’s been suffering almost too much bad press lately, given where he actually stands in a still-winnable Republican Primary against Trump.

We just don’t know right now, and despite the ups and downs of these early news cycles, the Republican campaign is really just in a limbo state until three important unknowns shake out in the coming months: How Republican voters respond to Trump’s indictments, the outcome of the first GOP debate in August, and whether DeSantis can grow as a candidate outside of his Florida comfort zone.

Lost in the daily punditry is that DeSantis’ horse race numbers have dropped, but his other poll numbers really haven’t. Trump’s super PAC has already spent $18 million attacking DeSantis — that’s on top of Trump’s personal attacks against Tiny D — and those volleys haven’t affected Republican voters’ opinions about DeSantis in any meaningful way. Trump — beloved in his party — has a 77% favorable rating among Republicans. DeSantis? His favorables are just as high, at 76%. A new CBS News poll found that 53% are either supporting DeSantis or considering him. No other Republican comes close.

So, while Republicans in national polls currently prefer Don over Ron in the nomination fight, they still really, really like DeSantis. That dynamic is evident where it matters most, in Iowa and New Hampshire, where polls show a closer race than national surveys. In interviews on the ground in those early states, voters continue to say that they’re eager to learn more about DeSantis, who is less of a known quantity.


Trump tried to turn dead-serious Miami case into a campaign sideshow. Don’t fall for it” via the Miami Herald editorial board — Trump wants to distract from the enormous weight of the charges against him. He wants to build the case that he’s being unfairly persecuted. But the Trump fervor, no matter how entertaining, scary, or patriotic — depending on your point of view — is nothing but a sideshow at a moment when the attention needs to be on the actual charges against the former President. The 37 charges in the indictment are grave. The 45th President has already become the nightmare that the founders tried so hard to guard against, a tyrant at the top. A conviction would be more terrible proof of his profound betrayal of the United States. Trump wants us to believe that the bright light of this scrutiny is merely the spotlight trained on the ringmaster of the carnival. But it’s not. It’s sunshine, the best disinfectant, and it’s long overdue.

DeSantis finds a new set of laws to ignore” via David Firestone of The New York Times — There once was a Florida fundraising committee called Friends of Ron DeSantis, which was overflowing with the $142 million it had raised. But one day that committee disappeared, just nine days before DeSantis announced he was running for President. In paperwork filed that day, the committee changed its name to Empower Parents PAC and the Governor’s name appears nowhere on the website’s homepage. And just as that filing was made, the super PAC that is supporting Mr. DeSantis’ presidential ambitions said that it would be getting more than $80 million in leftover money transferred from Empower Parents.


— ALOE —

Cormac McCarthy, novelist of a darker America, is dead at 89” via Dwight Garner of The New York Times — McCarthy, the formidable and reclusive writer of Appalachia and the American Southwest, whose raggedly ornate early novels about misfits and grotesques gave way to the lush taciturnity of “All the Pretty Horses” and the apocalyptic minimalism of “The Road,” died on Tuesday at his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He was 89. McCarthy’s fiction took a dark view of the human condition and was often macabre. The mainstream, however, eventually came to him. “All the Pretty Horses,” a reflective Western that cut against the grain of his previous work, won a National Book Award in 1992, and “The Road” won a Pulitzer Prize in 2007. Both were made into films, as was McCarthy’s “No Country for Old Men,” which won the Academy Award for best picture in 2008.

RIP to Cormac McCarthy, one of America’s greatest writers. Image via AP.

The Beatles are releasing their ‘final’ record. AI helped make it possible” via Sylvia Hui of The Associated Press — Artificial intelligence has been used to extract John Lennon’s voice from an old demo to create “the last Beatles record,” decades after the band broke up, Paul McCartney said Tuesday. McCartney, 80, told the BBC that the technology was used to separate the Beatles’ voices from background sounds during the making of director Peter Jackson’s 2021 documentary series, “The Beatles: Get Back.” The “new” song is set to be released later this year, he said. Jackson was “able to extricate John’s voice from a ropey little bit of cassette and a piano,” McCartney told BBC radio. “He could separate them with AI, he’d tell the machine ‘That’s a voice, this is a guitar, lose the guitar.’”

‘Avatar 3’ pushed a year to 2025, 2 ‘Star Wars’ movies head for 2026 and ‘Avengers’ films delayed” via Pamela McClintock and Aaron Couch of The Hollywood Reporter — Disney’s film empire has re-imagined its theatrical release calendar in a major way. The studio announced a slew of changes, led by the news that it is setting two “Star Wars” movies for 2026 and pushing back “Avatar 3” by a year, from December 2024 to December 2025. Additionally, “Avatar 4” will now hit theaters in December 2029, followed by “Avatar 5” in December 2031 — meaning 4 and 5 will now open three years later than previously announced. Other highlights: Ryan Reynolds fans will be happy to learn that his untitled “Deadpool 3” will now open in theaters on May 3, 2024, instead of Nov. 8, 2024.


Happy birthday to Alex Castellanos of Purple Strategies, Courtney DeSisto, Annette Hansford, Drew Piers of Sachs Media, Foyt Ralston, and former Hillsborough County Commissioner Mariella Smith. It’s also former President Trump’s birthday.


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

Peter Schorsch

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


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

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