Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 7.7.23

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All the news that fits, and more: Your first look at Sunshine State politics and policy news.

Good Friday morning.

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott’s re-election campaign collected $1.5 million in the second quarter.

The fundraising haul comes despite no serious opponent announcing a bid to take on the former Governor, who narrowly won the Senate seat five years ago. Scott’s campaign jabbed Democrats for their perceived lack of fight in a news release announcing the Q2 totals.

Despite the lack of a challenger, Rick Scott raises some serious cash.

“Sen. Rick Scott continues to raise money, gain support, and travel the state meeting with Floridians while Florida Democrats can’t even muster a candidate besides disgraced former Congressman Alan Grayson,” said campaign comms director Priscilla Ivasco.

“Every time we think the Florida Democratic Party has hit a new low, they find new ways to surprise us. It seems to be a truly impressive level of incompetence, but maybe it’s intentional. Betting against Sen. Scott is never smart, and Florida Democrats know that better than anyone.”

Heading into July, Scott’s campaign reports $3 million on hand. In the early days of the 2024 race, most prognosticators rate Florida as a likely Republican hold as the GOP attempts to recapture the Senate majority.


The Florida Chamber of Commerce has released a new report outlining the state’s progress toward the organization’s chief goal over the past five years: growing Florida into a top-10 global economy.

According to the 2023 Florida Business & Economic Mid-Year Report, the Sunshine State ranks as the No. 16 economy in the world if measured as an independent country — nestled between Mexico and Indonesia in the current global pecking order.

While the Chamber says the state has plenty of work to do over the next seven years to achieve the goals outlined in the Florida 2030 Blueprint, the report notes several positive trends. One of the most striking: income flow.

The Florida Chamber looks ahead to the Sunshine State becoming a global powerhouse.

According to the Chamber’s research, Florida is the No. 1 state in the country for income migration, with $39.2 billion in wealth flowing into the state over the past year, which is the equivalent of $4.48 million per hour. Texas is a distant No. 2 at $10.9 billion.

Global connections are also on the rise, with seaports at a record in Florida-origin exports last year of $67.5 billion.

Florida’s higher education system continues to hold the top spot nationally though there has been a shift in postsecondary achievement — since 2016, the number of Floridians earning vocational certificates has grown by 28%.

Still, K-12 education is an area of concern. Florida’s third grade reading scores — a key predictor of future success — currently stand at 53% and are decreasing. Meanwhile, the number of Florida students finishing high school with a diploma is sitting at 87%, also with a downward trajectory.

That has led to a significant amount of “untapped potential,” the report states, with about one in eight Floridians between the ages of 16 and 24 neither working nor enrolled in school. The Chamber is encouraging businesses to reach out to youths in this demographic through partnerships with the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice and the Florida Department of Corrections.


‘Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning — Part One’ premieres — 5; 2023 MLB All-Star Game — 7; Florida Chamber 37th Annual Environmental Permitting Summer School — 11; new Steph Curry documentary premieres — 14; Lionel Messi to make his Major League Soccer debut with Inter Miami CF — 14; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 14; Gov. Ron DeSantis to speak in Iowa at Rep. Ashley Hinson’s annual BBQ Bash — 30; ‘Billions’ final season premieres — 35; Beyoncé’s ‘Renaissance’ tour in Tampa — 40; Port Orange, Lake Helen, Ponce Inlet to hold elections — 46; The first GOP Presidential Primary debate — 47; ‘Ahsoka’ premieres on Disney+ — 47; The U.S. Open begins — 52; 2023 Florida Chamber Technology & Innovation Solution Summit — 55; Florida House Fall 2023 Interim Committee Meetings begin — 73; Martin Scorsese’s ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ premieres — 91; 2023 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 108; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 119; Suncoast Tiger Bay Club hosts ‘Evening with the Tigers’ — 123; ’Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 126; Formula 1 will take over the Las Vegas Strip — 132; Ridley Scott’s ‘Napoleon’ premieres — 138; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 145; 2023 Florida Chamber Annual Insurance Summit — 159; Florida’s 2024 Regular Session begins — 186; Florida TaxWatch’s State of the Taxpayer Dinner — 194; South Carolina Democratic Primary — 211; New Hampshire and Nevada Democratic Primaries — 214; Georgia Democratic Primary — 221; South Carolina GOP holds first-in-the-South Primary — 232; Michigan Democratic Primary — 237; ‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ premieres — 247; 2024 Oscars — 249; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 266; ‘Deadpool 3’ premieres — 301; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 321; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 385; ‘Captain America: Brave New World’ premieres — 385; New ‘Alien’ premieres — 406; Georgia Tech to face Florida State in 2024 opener in Dublin — 414; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 532; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 588; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 665; ‘Moana’ premieres — 721; ‘Avatar 3’ premieres — 896; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 1,029; Untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 1,051; Another untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 1,264; ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,403; ‘Avatar 4’ premieres — 2,359; ‘Avatar 5’ premieres — 2,722.


Ron DeSantis super PAC spokesperson basically admits the Governor’s presidential prospects are in the gutter” via Bess Levin of Vanity Fair — How badly are things looking for DeSantis these days? So bad that a person whose job is to literally get the guy elected is out here talking about uphill battles, as in the uphill battle to get DeSantis elected.

During an interview on Twitter Spaces on Sunday — the same forum in which DeSantis formally announced his candidacy in late May — Steve Cortes, a Donald Trump adviser turned national spokesperson for the DeSantis-aligned Never Back Down super PAC, said: “I believe in being really blunt and really honest. It’s an uphill battle.” He added: “Right now, in national polling, we are way behind. I’ll be the first to admit that.” One recent poll revealed just 16% of voters would cast a ballot for DeSantis if the GOP Primary were being held “today” (the survey took place between June 26 and June 29), versus 49% of respondents saying they’d go with Trump.

Steve Cortes says Ron DeSantis faces a long road ahead. Image courtesy Twitter/@CortesSteve.

Perhaps even more alarmingly — if your goal is for DeSantis to become President — is the fact that Vivek Ramaswamy is trailing the Governor by just six points.

Despite apparently understanding how poorly things are going for DeSantis, Cortes nevertheless insisted that his candidate has a shot, albeit a very, very long one. “In the first four states — which matter tremendously — polls are a lot tighter. We’re clearly still down. We’re down in double digits. We have work to do. We have wood to chop,” Cortes said Sunday. He also theorized that prospective voters simply don’t know Ron well enough and will start changing their tunes once he becomes less of a mystery to them.

“I’m of the belief that once we really get his story out there — and thankfully, we have the resources to do that, he’s campaigning with just frenetic pace already — so I think once we get that out there, my view is that we’re going to close this gap. I’m of the firm view that this is a two-man race,” Cortes said.


DeSantis’ campaign brought in $20 million in second quarter, trailing Donald Trump” via Bill Allison and Nancy Cook of Bloomberg — DeSantis raised more than $20 million during the second quarter, a figure lower than Trump’s haul, but a strong showing given that DeSantis jumped into the Republican 2024 presidential field in late May. While DeSantis is short of the $35 million that Trump raised over the three months ended June, it’s more than double the $9.5 million Trump raised in 45 days after launching his comeback run in November. DeSantis formally announced his long-expected presidential bid on May 24.

DeSantis, allied super PAC tout combined haul of $150 million for presidential bid” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — DeSantis raised $20 million for his presidential campaign since joining the race in late May and a federal super PAC supporting his campaign has collected $130 million since March, giving the Governor and his allies plenty of resources to try and gain ground on Trump. The enormous haul for the Never Back Down super PAC appears to be in large part thanks to $82.5 million transferred from DeSantis’ former state political committee, part of the record-breaking fundraising for his re-election campaign. The transfer has drawn legal scrutiny and sparked a formal complaint with the FEC.

DeSantis has 150 million reasons to smile.

Casey DeSantis rolls out ‘Mamas for DeSantis’ hype video” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Florida’s First Lady is kicking off the presidential campaign’s iteration of “Mamas for DeSantis” with a new video highlighting the Governor’s stances against drag queens, masks and Anthony Fauci. “Winning the fight in Florida is just the beginning. We must protect parents’ rights and the innocence of our children. We must restore sanity in our society. We need every mama and every grandmama in every corner of the country to stand up and fight back by electing Ron DeSantis President of the United States,” asserted Casey DeSantis in a video she tweeted out Thursday. The video, which runs slightly more than two minutes, juxtaposes stern narration against a visual backdrop of a parade of horribles for DeSantis and his supporters.

To watch the video, please click the image below:

Joe Biden in red state South Carolina bashes Republicans for voting against his agenda” via Alex Gangitano of The Hill — President Biden went to GOP stronghold South Carolina Thursday to bash Republicans in Congress for voting against his agenda while highlighting legislative victories from his first two years in office. The President’s visit to The Palmetto State, which Trump won by 12 points in the 2020 election, was meant to tout $500 billion in investments that private companies have made in manufacturing and clean energy during Biden’s administration. “Every Republican member of the House from this state voted to repeal the clean energy provisions of the Inflation Reduction Act that attracts all these jobs,” the President said.

Trump really wants to believe White House cocaine belonged to a Biden” via Isabella Ramirez of The Daily Beast — It didn’t take long for Trump to share his two cents on the mysterious white powder discovered in the White House — which was later proven to contain cocaine. “Does anybody really believe that the COCAINE found in the West Wing of the White House, very close to the Oval Office, is for the use of anyone other than Hunter & Joe Biden?” Trump wrote. “Has Deranged Jack Smith, the crazy, Trump-hating Special Prosecutor, been seen in the area of the COCAINE? He looks like a crackhead to me!” The ex-President alleges the “Fake News Media” will make the story “vanish” by saying the powder was actually ground-up aspirin. In a second Truth Social post, Trump went off, as usual, about the supposed unfair treatment he receives in comparison.

DeSantis targets a significant Primary demographic: Insecure men” via Philip Bump of The Washington Post — There are three obvious reasons that DeSantis’ presidential campaign promoted an aggressively anti-LGBTQ+ ad on social media last week. The first is that DeSantis is not making any headway in his efforts to overtake Trump. Then there’s the second reason. The ad is replete with cherry-picked examples of Trump attempting to appeal to LGBTQ voters — ignoring, for example, Trump’s angry effort to block transgender people from serving in the military. There is another sense in which the Bateman character and other similarly self-conscious manifestations of masculinity seen in the video should be understood. It is an appeal not just to memes popular with that online audience, but to the insecurity that leads to the embrace of characters such as Bateman.

DeSantis has just 12% support in Tennessee GOP Presidential Primary” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — A new poll from the Volunteer State shows an uphill climb for DeSantis in the 2024 race for the Republican presidential nomination. Tennessee’s Beacon Poll shows DeSantis with just 12% support in the open Republican Primary. This puts him 49 points behind Trump’s 61%. Meanwhile, former Vice President Mike Pence’s 8%, while no threat to Trump, puts him just 4 points out of second place. DeSantis has two trips slated to the state this month, meanwhile, with both announced before this survey dropped Thursday.

How DeSantis gained a fan base among some suburban women far from Florida” via Elle Reeve of CNN — Like many Americans, when Vanessa Steinkamp was stuck inside early in the COVID-19 pandemic, she logged in to Twitter to talk to the outside world. The teacher and mother of three schoolchildren in Dallas was worried that closed classrooms would hurt kids, particularly the most vulnerable students who needed the special resources that schools provide. Calling for children to go back to in-person learning earned her a lot of backlash but she also befriended like-minded moms. When DeSantis pressed public schools to reopen in the Summer of 2020, he became their hero.

New ad bashes DeSantis for ‘attacks on our freedoms’ — A new video from DeSantis Watch is warning voters that DeSantis is a “threat coming for all of us.” The two-and-a-half-minute ad begins with a narrator saying, “Throughout his political career, Ronald Dion DeSantis has relentlessly attacked our freedoms.” A litany of attacks follows, including his membership among the initial crop of “Freedom Caucus” Republicans in Congress and his “attacks” on voting rights and legislation targeting LGBTQ people. “Whether it is supporting a near-total abortion ban, attacking the LGBTQ+ community, indoctrinating students in his own preferred worldview, or creating an affordability crisis that benefits his campaign donors with higher profits while everyday Floridians struggle to pay the bills, there is no personal freedom that will be safe under a Ron DeSantis presidency,” DeSantis Watch Communications Director Anders Croy said in a news release.

To watch the ad, please click on the image below:

Mike Pence defends actions to pro-Trump voter who confronts him over Jan. 6” via Jared Gans of The Hill — Pence defended his actions presiding over Congress’ certification of the 2020 Electoral College results to a pro-Trump voter during a campaign stop in Iowa on Wednesday. Pence was holding a campaign event in Sioux City, where a participant told him that Biden should not be the President and asked if he has ever doubted himself that he had the power to reject the certification of certain states’ results on Jan. 6, 2021, and send them back for further review.

— MORE 2024 —

Florida GOP will require DeSantis, Trump to sign loyalty pledge to make Primary ballot” via Gary Fineout of POLITICO — DeSantis and Trump are finding that the price to make the 2024 Florida Primary ballot is going up. All GOP candidates will have to pledge their loyalty to the eventual Republican nominee to make the March 19 Primary, a contest that could tip the balance of the crowded race since Florida’s contest is a winner-take-all Primary. This is a notable change from 2015, when multiple candidates, including two from Florida, were running for President. The Republican Party of Florida approved the change at its executive board meeting held in mid-May and included the new provisions in an updated version of its bylaws that it filed with state election officials but have not been widely distributed.

Florida GOP is requiring Donald Trump and DeSantis to sign a ‘loyalty pledge.’

DeSantis accuses DEA, DOJ, FBI of using ‘kid gloves’ in White House cocaine probe” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis is continuing to speak out about cocaine recently found in the White House, saying that a Republican administration would face a stronger investigation than the current Democratic incumbent. “Isn’t it interesting how you have this cocaine there? I don’t see the FBI and the Department of Justice mobilizing and doing a real serious litigation of this. I kind of feel like if they’re a Republican White House you’d have swarms of (Drug Enforcement Administration) and FBI agents trying to get to the bottom of who brought that into the White House. I think with this, they’re just treating the Joe Biden administration with kid gloves,” DeSantis said. “And unfortunately, that’s what we’ve come to expect out of this federal government, that they just have two standards of how they pursue the law.”

Kristi Noem casts doubt on DeSantis donors” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — One red state Governor is skeptical about whether another GOP leader’s big donors matter in the 2024 Republican presidential race. During an appearance on “Fox & Friends,” South Dakota’s Noem shrugged off a question about how much it mattered that DeSantis might match Trump’s draw with donors, redirecting it from a question specific to the Florida Governor to a more general rumination on the larger field. “You know, I’ve run probably 11 campaigns now,” Noem told Brian Kilmeade. “And what mattered to me was the small donors, the people who cared enough to send you five or $10.”

AI version of Francis Suarez hits digital campaign trail but doesn’t have all the answers” via Joey Flechas of the Miami Herald — A super PAC backing Miami Mayor Suarez’s bid for the Republican presidential nomination has released an artificial intelligence chatbot to answer questions about his candidacy. SOS America PAC released “AI Francis Suarez,” a chatbot featuring an avatar that looks and sounds like the Mayor as it talks about his campaign for President. “Hi, I’m AI Francis Suarez,” the bot says. “You’ve probably heard that my namesake, conservative Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, is running for President. I’m here to answer questions you may have about Mayor Suarez’s proven agenda for economic prosperity, cutting spending and supporting our police. So how can I help?”


This Palm Beach County Florida House seat held by a Republican may be a ‘coin toss’ in 2024” via Stephany Matat of the Palm Beach Post — The legislative supermajority that allowed Florida Republicans to steamroll Democrats in Tallahassee was partly achieved by flipping districts from blue to red last year. One of those was House District 91, which includes Boca Raton and Highland Beach. But is this district now a lock for the GOP, or will a Democratic candidate who has entered the race be able to win it back? A Palm Beach County Republican, incumbent Rep. Peggy Gossett-Seidman currently holds the longtime Democratic seat she won in a GOP red wave in November that also claimed County Commission seats. Gossett-Seidman has said she will be running for re-election. But a Democratic challenger, consumer protection lawyer Jay Shooster, has said he will run as well.

Can Jay Shooster claw back HD 91 into the blue column? Image via Jay Shooster.

Jay Shooster says he’s raised nearly $300K in bid for Palm Beach County’s HD 91” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Shooster says he’s added nearly $300,000 in his bid to represent Palm Beach County’s House District 91 ahead of his first personal campaign account report due next week. Shooster, an artificial intelligence policy fellow at the Center for Future Mind at Florida Atlantic University, says he’s thankful that his opening message in this race has attracted so much support. The first-time candidate collected more than $220,000 through his political committee, Future Leaders Florida, and nearly $70,000 through his personal campaign account, his campaign said.

‘The right person for the job’: Joe Saunders lands endorsements from Senate and House Democratic leadership” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Former Rep. Saunders, who is running to again serve in the Legislature, now has the open backing of Democratic leaders in both of its chambers. Senate Democratic Leader-designate Jason Pizzo and House Democratic Leader Fentrice Driskell threw their vocal support behind Saunders in the race for House District 106, which covers a coastal strip of Miami-Dade County between Miami Beach and Aventura. Both said they are “proud to endorse” him. “Joe Saunders’ unwavering commitment to public service and dedication to his community make him the clear choice for (HD 106),” Driskell said.

Chris Scherer exceeds $100K for Pinellas County Commission bid” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — Scherer has now raised $103,490 for his bid for Pinellas County Commission, District 1, according to his campaign. June fundraising numbers are not yet publicly available, but the campaign said it raised $13,175 in June for the official campaign. Florida Division of Elections data shows Scherer raised another $6,150 in June for his political committee, Friends of Chris Scherer. Scherer, a Republican, is running to replace Commissioner Janet Long, a Democrat who is not seeking re-election. He faces Democrat JoanneCookieKennedy. Republicans are expected to fight hard and spend big to nab another seat on the Commission, which flipped red last year during what turned out to be a red tsunami in Florida, despite disappointing results for the GOP nationwide in the Midterms.

Chris Scherer is posting a six-figure haul for his Pinellas County Commission race.

St. Pete watchdog Vincent Nowicki to run for Pinellas County Commission” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — Nowicki, a former St. Petersburg mayoral candidate and local government watchdog, announced he is running for Pinellas County Commission, District 3. Nowicki, a Republican, is the first to file in the race for the seat, which is currently held by Democrat Charlie Justice. Justice is expected to seek re-election. “I am a conservative outsider who has seen what liberal policies can do to a city. I will not allow Pinellas County to become like St. Petersburg filled with crime and overdevelopment,” Nowicki wrote in his campaign announcement. He filed paperwork to run Wednesday. While Nowicki ran for St. Pete Mayor in 2021, the conservative activist is perhaps best known for his efforts to hold local elected officials accountable. His personal investigation into former St. Pete City Council member Lisa Wheeler-Bowman led to her resignation in September. Nowicki hired a private investigator, who uncovered Wheeler-Bowman was residing outside her district.


DeSantis’ Florida crime claims based on incomplete data, records show” via Weihua Li in the Tampa Bay Times — When DeSantis announced his bid for the presidency on Twitter Spaces last month, he touted Florida’s low crime rate as a proud accomplishment. “Claiming that Florida is unsafe is a total farce,” DeSantis said. “I mean, are you kidding me? You look at cities around this country, they are awash in crime. In Florida, our crime rate is at a 50-year low.” But his statement rests on patchy, incomplete crime data. About half the agencies that police more than 40% of the state’s population are missing from figures the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) used for a statewide estimation. Participation in national data collection is even lower.

In touting Florida’s record-low crime figures, DeSantis leans into some fuzzy math.

‘Run out of Florida’: How DeSantis’ anti-trans laws are pushing families out” via Talib Visram of Fast Company — Palm Beach County, Florida, is dotted with beautiful coastal towns, stretching from Jupiter in the north to Boca Raton in the south. Families living there can go to the beach every day, engage in activities like birding and cave-diving, and be near natural wonders like the Everglades and the Keys. But what was once an idyllic life is no longer “a nice little surf town bubble” for one family. The mother, who requested to be known as Jesse, became so concerned for the safety of her transgender daughter in the community that she and her husband sent her to a boarding school in Canada. Their life is now in limbo as their family stays separated. They feel like they’re being run out of Florida, the home they once loved.

Gavin Newson demands federal investigation of DeSantis-ordered migrant flights” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Newsom is formally calling on the Department of Justice to investigate migrant flights ordered by DeSantis. Newsom, along with California Attorney General Rob Bonta and Texas Sheriff Javier Salazar, sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland demanding federal action. “Over the last nine months, individuals seeking asylum in the United States were transported from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, and to Sacramento, California, under a program funded by the State of Florida,” the letter reads. The letter acknowledges many local governments and nonprofit organizations fund the transport of migrants to desired locales once federal immigration officials release them.

Ethics complaint filed against DeSantis over private jet travel” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — A nonprofit government watchdog group is asking the Florida Commission on Ethics to investigate whether DeSantis failed to properly disclose air travel on private jets as personal gifts. The complaint filed by the nonpartisan, Washington, D.C.-based Campaign Legal Center is based on a New York Times article from May that reported a newly-formed nonprofit, And To The Republic, arranged to fly DeSantis to nearly a dozen speaking events in at least eight states as the Governor laid the groundwork for a Presidential bid. And To the Republic Executive Director Tori Sachs “would not say how much was spent on the flights or who paid for them,” according to the Times article.

DeSantis, who touts blue-collar roots, more than triples net worth” via Jack Gillum and Alex Leary of The Wall Street Journal — On the presidential campaign trail, DeSantis touts his blue-collar roots and how he joined the Navy instead of taking lucrative opportunities available to a graduate of Yale and Harvard. But as DeSantis’ political power has grown, so has his financial status, too. State financial disclosures for 2022 released Friday show that DeSantis earned $1.25 million for a book timed to the launch of his presidential campaign, part of what a person familiar with the deal said was a $2 million advance. Now, his net worth is more than three times the $319,000 that he reported for 2021. The assets put DeSantis, 44 years old, on par with some of his Republican rivals, but they remain paltry compared with those of billionaire Trump.

DeSantis is a man of the people, and a millionaire.

New Florida immigration law makes these out-of-state driver’s licenses invalid” via C.A. Bridges of USA Today Network — As part of Florida’s sweeping new immigration bill signed by DeSantis in May, out-of-state driver’s licenses issued exclusively to ‘unauthorized immigrants’ are no longer valid. The restriction, part of SB 1718, which imposes some of the toughest penalties and restrictions in the country by strengthening employment requirements, requiring hospitals that accept Medicaid to ask patients about their citizenship and appropriating $12 million from the General Revenue Fund for DeSantis’ “unauthorized alien transport program,” went into effect July 1. “Someone who is in our country illegally and has violated our laws should not possess a government-issued ID which allows them access to state-funded services and other privileges afforded to lawful residents,” DeSantis said.

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Record-crushing heat is blasting Florida, with no clear end” via Ian Livingston of The Washington Post — Florida is in the midst of its hottest year in modern history, and there’s little sign of meaningful relief. Even in a state known for its warm weather, the prolonged siege of heat and humidity is extreme. Day after day, records for heat and humidity are being broken, particularly in the central and southern parts of the state. And there’s no clear end to this pattern. Additional heat records are predicted across South Florida over the coming days, while the entire state will remain hotter than normal from Key West to Pensacola. So far this year, temperatures have averaged 3 to 5 degrees above normal in the Sunshine State.

Sure, Florida is always hot, but this year is something else.

Latest prediction calls for ‘above-normal’ hurricane season. See what that means for Florida” via Cheryl McCloud of the Fort Myers News-Press — Colorado State University has updated its 2023 hurricane season forecast and is now predicting an “above-normal” season. The July forecast differs sharply from forecasters’ earlier prediction in April, which predicted a slightly below-normal season. What led to the sharp increase in the number of predicted storms? While a robust El Nino is still in the forecast during the peak of the Atlantic hurricane, record warm water temperatures are expected to offset El Nino’s effect and lead to the formation of more storms.

Over 3 in 4 Americans contracted COVID by end of 2022, a CDC review of blood data shows” via Isabelle Butera of USA Today — More than three in four Americans over the age of 16 had contracted COVID-19 by the end of 2022. New federal data from testing roughly 143,000 blood donors nationwide found that 77.5% of surveyed individuals had seroprevalence, or COVID-19 antibodies, from infection before the start of 2023. This number varies sharply from the number of reported COVID-19 cases, which stood at 30 cases for every 100 people at the end of 2022, per the CDC. Seroprevalence grew significantly in 2022, with an estimated 48.8% of blood donors that have infection-induced antibodies as of Feb. 15, 2022, per the CDC. That number increased to an estimated 58.7% by May and 70.2% by August, before eclipsing 75% by the end of the year.

Supreme Court decision changes the rules for medical malpractice lawsuits” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — The Florida Supreme Court is making it easier for medical providers to short-circuit medical malpractice lawsuits by altering the procedural rules regarding when medical malpractice cases can be appealed. The court rejected a motion by the University of Florida Board of Trustees to dismiss a medical malpractice lawsuit filed against the school. But at the same time, the court issued a related ruling that changes court rules to give appellate courts the ability to review non-final orders that deny a motion to dismiss a medical malpractice claim based on the qualifications of corroborating witnesses. The rule change takes effect immediately. Because the Supreme Court amended the rule on its own the changes were not available for the public to review in advance of it taking effect.

Citing ‘hostile actions,’ education group is the latest to pull its convention from Florida” via Mitch Perry of the Florida Phoenix — Noting the “escalating waves of hostile actions and legislation coming out of Florida,” the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) is ditching its scheduled annual conference at the Hyatt Regency Miami later this year and instead will hold it in Chicago. In a letter sent to ACSP educators, researchers, and students, Laxmi Ramasubramanian, the ACSP president, said the group had made “this difficult decision” to move their convention to stay in alignment with the ACSP’s values statement. The organization is a consortium of more than 100 university departments and programs offering planning degrees. “Despite myriad assurances from the Florida hospitality industry, members of all ACSP interest groups expressed significant concerns regarding travel to Florida,” Ramasubramanian wrote.


Biden’s pick for U.S. health-research chief stalled by drug-costs fight” via Liz Essley Whyte of The Wall Street Journal — Biden’s choice to run the U.S. government’s medical research is at a standstill because of an impasse with Sen. Bernie Sanders over high drug costs. Sanders, the Vermont independent who caucuses with Democrats and chairs the Senate’s Health Committee, is refusing to hold a key hearing on Dr. Monica Bertagnolli’s nomination as National Institutes of Health director until the White House spelled out a plan to cut drug prices. “We’re sick and tired of hearing all kinds of rhetoric about the high cost of prescription drugs,” Sanders said in an interview in May. “We’ve got to do something.”

Drug prices seem to be a sticking point in Monica Bertagnolli’s nomination. Image via YouTube.

Biden to appeal Big Tech collusion ruling banning admin officials meeting with social media firms” via Brandon Gillespie of Fox News — The Biden administration is reportedly preparing to appeal a Tuesday federal court ruling that found it likely violated the First Amendment by meeting with tech companies about social media censorship. The Department of Justice said it will appeal the ruling, which bans certain federal officials and agencies from contacting social media companies in efforts to suppress speech and filed a notice of appeal with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans earlier in the day. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre reacted to the ruling by telling reporters the administration disagreed with it but wouldn’t directly respond to a question about the censorship of conservative speech.

Biden touts Enphase Energy investments as ‘Bidenomics in action’” via Jordan Fabian and Elizabeth Kim of Bloomberg — Biden highlighted a $60 million investment from Enphase Energy Inc. as proof his economic agenda is creating jobs for American workers, taking his “Bidenomics” pitch to South Carolina. “Our plan is working. And one of the things I’m proudest of is it’s working everywhere,” Biden said Thursday in West Columbia, his latest trip outside Washington to highlight his efforts on the economy to skeptical voters as he seeks re-election. “It’s no accident. It’s Bidenomics in action.”

Election rulings temper Supreme Court’s conservative streak” via Michael Macagnone of Roll Call — The Supreme Court shrugged off partisan criticism this term and again delivered conservative decisions in major cases about race and religious rights, but the justices declined a chance to do the same in some key election cases that could end up benefiting Democrats. The conservative majority, over sharp criticism from the court’s liberal justices, upended decades of precedent to restrict how colleges can use race in admissions decisions and sided with the owner of a company who refused to build websites for same-sex weddings because of her religious beliefs. The decisions drew praise from Republicans for backing individual constitutional rights and limited government and condemnations from Biden and Democrats over concerns that the rulings could harm minority educational opportunities and weaken anti-discrimination laws nationwide.

Senate Judiciary Chair blasts John Roberts for inaction on Supreme Court reform” via Alexander Bolton of The Hill — Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin criticized Chief Justice Roberts for failing to enact ethics reform before the court wrapped up its term this month and pledged to advance a Democratic ethics reform bill soon. “Many questions remain at the end of the court’s latest term regarding its reputation, credibility, and ‘honorable’ status. I’m sorry to see Chief Justice Roberts end the term without taking action on the ethical issues plaguing the court,” Durbin said.

Marco Rubio warns China may try to establish a military force in Cuba” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The prospect of China establishing a spy facility in Cuba has generated angst and alarm within Florida’s congressional delegation for weeks. But U.S. Sen. Rubio, ranking Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, says the foreign power has grown its presence in Havana for years. He’s worried about what might happen when military forces also arrive on the island nation. The Miami Republican spoke to Fox News host Trey Gowdy about hostile powers conducting spying operations 90 miles off Florida’s coast. “China and Russia have had an intelligence presence in Cuba for a while. I think there’s concern now, as it’s been reported in the media, that they’re expanding their ability to collect electronically on us,” Rubio said.

Marco Rubio warns that China and Cuba are getting a little too chummy.

John Kerry to visit China in bid for progress in climate crisis talks” via Jennifer A. Dlouhy and Alfred Cang of Bloomberg — U.S. Climate Envoy Kerry is heading to China for talks on global warming as tensions simmer between Washington and Beijing. Kerry is set to travel to the country later this month, following this week’s visit by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and a June trip by Secretary of State Antony Blinken. A meeting could help build a foundation for more progress at a U.N. climate conference in the United Arab Emirates starting in November. Inter-country bickering and concern about ambition from the host country are already provoking concerns ahead of the pivotal negotiations.

Florida lawmakers want USDA to issue grants for farmers immediately after disasters” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Support is growing for giving Florida farmers greater access to block grants after hurricanes or other disasters that devastate crops. Florida lawmakers from both sides of the aisle this week introduced the Restore Agricultural Investment, Stability and Expansion (RAISE) Act. The legislation could give the U.S. Department of Agriculture standing authority to issue grants to farmers and growers in the wake of natural disasters. U.S. Reps. Kat Cammack, Scott Franklin, Darren Soto and Debbie Wasserman Schultz introduced the measure together.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

2 employees accuse Fabian Basabe of sexual harassment in lawsuit” via Aaron Leibowitz of the Miami Herald — Two staffers for Rep. Basabe filed a lawsuit detailing allegations of sexual harassment and unwanted touching by the freshman Republican lawmaker. The lawsuit says Basabe made repeated lewd sexual comments and advances toward a legislative aide and an intern, slapped the aide’s butt without his consent while they attended an elementary school career day, and groped and tried to kiss a Florida State University graduate student in a car before hiring him as an intern. The suit filed in Leon County Circuit Court also repeats a claim by Basabe’s legislative aide in Tallahassee, Nicolas Frevola, that Basabe slapped Frevola across the face and told him to stand in a corner at a private event in January.

Fabian Basabe is facing accusations of sexual harassment. Image via AP.

Parents visit site of Parkland mass shooting: ‘Do not turn away’” via Rafael Olmeda of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — What Linda Schulman saw in the 1200 building at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, while devastating, was borne with painful necessity. “Do not turn away,” she said. Schulman is the mother of Scott Beigel, the teacher who held his door open for terrified students to race into his classroom knowing that a shooter was headed their way. The children who made their way into his classroom were spared. Beigel was not. “I never got to say goodbye to Scott,” his mother said. “I needed to stand there, where he taught his last class.” The Broward State Attorney’s Office escorted the parents of the victims of the Parkland mass shooting through the crime scene, at their request.

Congress members will host roundtable with pro-democracy Cuban activists in Miami” via Henry Jost of the Miami Herald — Two years after islandwide pro-democracy street protests erupted in Cuba, members of Florida’s congressional delegation will host a roundtable discussion on human rights and hear from leading Cuban activists Rose Maria Payá and Orlando Gutiérrez-Boronat. The roundtable will be held Monday morning in Hialeah Gardens at the Assault Brigade 2506 Museum and will include Republican U.S. Reps. Brian Mast, Mario Díaz-Balart and María Elvira Salazar, Chair of the House Western Hemisphere Subcommittee. Democrats scheduled to attend include Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Jared Moskowitz. “Two years ago, we witnessed the ultimate act of patriotism, as the Cuban people risked their lives to demand respect for their fundamental rights,” Wasserman Schultz said.

On third try, Trump aide arraigned in Miami. He pleads not guilty in documents case” via Jay Weaver of the Miami Herald — An aide to Trump pleaded not guilty to a charge of conspiring with the former President to obstruct the U.S. government’s efforts to retrieve classified documents during a brief hearing in Miami federal court. Walt Nauta, a Navy veteran who served as a Trump aide in the White House and now works for him as his personal valet, uttered only three words during the arraignment. When asked by Magistrate Judge Edwin Torres if he had reviewed the indictment, he replied, “Yes, your honor.” It was Nauta’s third scheduled hearing for what is typically a simple proceeding.

Third time’s the charm for Walt Nauta. Image via AP.

New details released from Trump search warrant: Security footage ‘core’ of the case” via Jay Weaver of the Miami Herald — A newly released version of an FBI affidavit for a search warrant of Trump’s Palm Beach estate adds a few key details of how and when investigators discovered and obtained security camera footage that shows boxes allegedly filled with classified documents being moved around the grounds of Mar-a-Lago. The information in the affidavit was sought by media organizations after the former president was charged last month with deliberately retaining classified materials from the U.S. government. Justice Department prosecutors agreed to disclose some additional portions of the 39-page affidavit for the search warrant dated Aug. 5, 2022, though many parts are still redacted, according to an order issued by Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart in West Palm Beach federal court.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

Orange County tourist tax tumbles again” via Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — Orange County tourist-tax collections fell again in May, the first time in more than two years the lucrative revenue stream has posted consecutive monthly drops, Comptroller Phil Diamond said. The back-to-back decreases, the first since January and February 2021, followed a historic run of 14 straight record months. “I think there was a lot of pent-up demand after the pandemic,” Diamond said, explaining the reversals in convention attendance and tourist-tax collections. “I think demand may be normalizing.” Casandra Matej, president and CEO of Visit Orlando, the marketing arm for the region’s tourism industry, said hotel demand from the convention business declined in May despite an increase in total events.

Lieutenant who jailed toddler under investigation for violating 6 department policies” via Mark Harper of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — The Daytona Beach Shores police lieutenant who said he handcuffed and jailed his 3½-year-old son last October for a potty-training lesson, is facing another professional standards investigation, The News-Journal has learned. Michael Schoenbrod is under investigation for violating six department policies according to an April 13 memo written by Michael Fowler, Daytona Beach Shores’ director of public safety. Two former Daytona Beach Shores public safety workers who spoke to The News-Journal on the condition that their names not be used said the investigation stems, at least in part, from Schoenbrod’s appearance at a 6 a.m. shift briefing on April 7.

Michael Schoenbrod isn’t likely to win any Father of the Year awards. Image via Daytona Beach Shores.

My trip into Verse Orlando’s beautiful (and scary) world of augmented reality” via Matthew J. Palm of the Orlando Sentinel — You would think a grown man wouldn’t be quite so pleased with himself for having fed an imaginary carrot to an imaginary rabbit. But at Verse Orlando, I just did that. And, grinning like an idiot, I concluded that’s what augmented reality can do to a person. Verse Orlando is a pop-up attraction at Lake Nona’s Boxi Park that mixes art and storytelling with video game-type scoring in an immersive environment complete with 3D holograms. In fact, the proprietors call the tent that houses these strange other worlds a “holographic theater.” Patrons don Microsoft HoloLens 2 headgear (comfortable with easy flip-up lenses for a quick return to reality) and select one of several experiences.


Hillsborough Tax Collector warns taxpayers of potential scam” via Florida Politics — Hillsborough County Tax Collector Nancy Millan warning the public of a recent tax scam that targets property taxpayers in the county. Over the last two weeks, the Tax Collector’s Office has been notified of a scam where taxpayers received a fraudulent “notice of tax lien” claiming they owed taxes and demanding immediate payment. These communications are deceptive and mimic an official document. Unsuspecting individuals can easily be misled into making payments to unauthorized entities. Milan is asking residents to exercise caution when responding to what appears to be a property tax-related bill or notice. An official notice from the Hillsborough County Tax Collector will always include the office’s logo and contact information. Taxpayers who receive a questionable “notice of tax lien” should contact the Hillsborough County Tax Collector’s Office at (813) 635-5200 or email [email protected] to verify the document’s authenticity.

Nancy Millan is raising red flags over tax scams. Image via Nancy Millan.

Pinellas School District’s review of 87 books gets pushback from anti-censorship groups” via Meghan Bowman of WFSU — The Library Media Review Team for Pinellas County Schools is scheduled to review 87 books. Over 50 of the book’s authors are joining with three anti-censorship groups to request it be canceled — but the county said it will go on as scheduled. The authors joined PEN America, Florida Freedom to Read, and We Need Diverse Books in sending a joint letter to the district opposing the review. The letter expressed understanding of the pressure placed on schools but said targeting these specific titles “sets a terrible precedent and message that diverse books need to be further scrutinized and censored, just because they are by and about marginalized creators.”

Ashley Moody bans Tampa Bay area pool company” via Devonta Davis of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — Attorney General Moody announced the permanent shutdown of Lutz-based pool company Olympus Pools Inc. The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division took legal action against James Staten Jr., owner of Olympus Pools, for failing to complete residential swimming pools for Florida consumers. In 2021, the Florida Attorney General’s Office received over 200 complaints about Olympus Pools for losses totaling $8 million. The company misrepresented the timeline of projects, accepted upfront payments, and left jobs incomplete, according to Moody’s office. Additionally, it admits that it violated Florida’s Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. The Attorney General’s civil action permanently enjoins the company from conducting any business in Florida.

Bern’s Steak House in Tampa is temporarily closed for renovations” via Maggie Duffy of the Tampa Bay Times — Tampa institution Bern’s Steak House temporarily closed on July 3 for renovations on the lounge and kitchen. Renovations are expected to take about two weeks, with a reopening date of July 25. In the meantime, folks can still enjoy Bern’s fare at its sister restaurant, Haven (2208 W Morrison Ave., Tampa). Now through July 8 and July 11-15, A Taste of Bern’s at Haven offers selections inspired by Bern’s menu, including select cuts from its aging room, steak sauces, wines from its cellar and sweets from its famous dessert room. In the lounge — which was last refreshed in 1998 — seating in the bar has been expanded and a new back bar display is being added. BDG Architects is overseeing architectural design, with Richard Zingale leading the interior design. For the kitchen, new Jade Range stoves are being custom-built for the team working under executive chef Chad Johnson. The construction company overseeing both projects is David Nelson Construction.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

Jacksonville Mayor Donna Deegan appointee says he will correct campaign contributions reprimand” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — Former City Council member Garrett Dennis, who will serve as Deegan’s director of boards and commissions, made two prohibited campaign contributions totaling nearly $1,658 last year from the campaign account he used during his run for the state House of Representatives. Dennis said Wednesday he was not aware the state Division of Elections had flagged the two contributions in an audit. He said he would immediately work with his campaign treasurer and state election officials to resolve the matter.

Garrett Dennis needs to fix a mess over some campaign contributions. Image via WJCT.

Prosecutors say former JEA execs want ‘get out of jail free card’” via Nate Monroe of The Florida Times-Union — The government, in scorching language, accused former JEA CEO Aaron Zahn and CFO Ryan Wannemacher of outright lying as city officials began scrutinizing turbulence within the city-owned utility in 2019, a time during which Zahn and Wannemacher headed an effort to sell the agency to a private utility. Both men have questioned whether prosecutors may have violated their constitutional rights by using protected statements they provided city attorneys amid that controversy. Assistant U.S. Attorney A. Tysen Duva, who is leading the prosecution of the former JEA executives, told the court the defense team has meticulously avoided discussing the substance of what either man told city officials because, often, “the nature of the statements are obvious — they were self-serving and useless.”

Former Wakulla County Property Appraiser Brad Harvey pleads no contest to fraud charges” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — Former Wakulla County Property Appraiser Harvey pleaded no contest Wednesday to charges that he illegally padded his salary to a six-figure tune and spent thousands more in office funds on personal expenses. Harvey, elected in 2016, was arrested in April 2020 on fraud charges after a lengthy investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. He was suspended from office by DeSantis and opted not to seek re-election in 2020 amid the scandal. Allegations against Harvey began to surface in 2019 after employees in the office discovered he had been writing checks to himself and misusing funds.

Long security lines at Pensacola International Airport will return after Blues week” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — While a security upgrade project at the Pensacola International Airport has been paused during the busy Fourth of July holiday week, the project will resume on Monday and with it, long security wait times that are more common at larger airports. Pensacola Mayor D.C. Reeves announced last week that the Transportation Security Administration had agreed to delay its security upgrade project during the holiday. “No, it’s not the city’s first choice to do equipment upgrades during the middle of the Summer in our busiest tourist season,” Reeves said.

Large student housing project proposed for former Chubby’s Chicken Fingers site” via TaMaryn Waters of the Tallahassee Democrat — The former Chubby’s Chicken Fingers and More restaurant site and several other parcels along West Tennessee Street will be redeveloped into a large-scale student housing project. While early in the permit process, Peerless Development, also known as “HUB Tallahassee,” is proposing a seven-story, 500,000-square-foot redevelopment project on a visible corner of Frenchtown. West Tennessee, North Macomb and West Virginia streets would border the 3.83-acre project site. The project site consists of 11 different parcels owned by three different entities, which include W. Tennessee St. Owner LLC., the City of Tallahassee and Norman Thomas Mark.


Health department reports 2 more cases of locally acquired malaria in Sarasota County” via Anne Snabes of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The Department of Health reported an additional two cases of locally acquired malaria in Sarasota County, bringing the county’s total to six cases. Sarasota and Manatee counties have been under a mosquito-borne illness alert since June 19. County and health officials are encouraging residents to protect themselves from mosquitoes, including by applying bug spray, avoiding areas with large mosquito populations, and wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants at nighttime. The two additional cases were reported the week of June 25-July 1, according to a report. Sarasota County has been experiencing an outbreak of locally acquired malaria, which means that the individuals contracted malaria from mosquitoes in the Sarasota area — not from insects in another country.

Malaria is starting to spread in Sarasota County.

Records dump shows major spending on travel, lodging and conferences by Manatee officials” via Jesse Mendoza of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Since early 2021, Manatee County officials spent thousands of taxpayer dollars on travel, lodging, and conferences. Audit records released to the Herald-Tribune reveal major spending on travel by Manatee County leadership between March 2021 and November 2022. The audit was published in May by Clerk of Circuit Court and Comptroller Angelina Colonneso, who raised questions about the transactions in an audit of purchase card expenses. Manatee County Chair Kevin Van Ostenbridge is the only person identified by the Clerk’s Office in the 134-page audit by name. Former County Administrator Scott Hopes and former Deputy Administrator Robert Reinshuttle were also identified by their previous titles.

New College ramps up search for President, approves salary range ahead of trustees meeting” via Samantha Gholar of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Leaders at New College of Florida (NCF) have ramped up the fast-paced search for a permanent president this week, reviewing a third-party market report laying out the salary range for the leader who will oversee the continuing conservative transformation of the liberal arts college. Search Committee members met and unanimously approved the projected salary and compensation range for the position, now filled by Interim President Richard Corcoran. They also discussed the search timeline. Ahead of the Friday Board of Trustees meeting, Search Committee members reviewed a list of Florida universities and college compensation packages as a gauge of where the New College of Florida president’s salary should be, noting NCF’s smaller enrollment.

Mote Marine establishes voluntary protection zone for sea turtles in Sarasota County” via Earle Kimel of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium has established a voluntary Sea Turtle Protection Zone in waters off Sarasota County, with the hope that increased publicity will help raise public awareness and protect sea turtles from unintended boat strikes. The zone stretches from Longboat Key to Siesta Key, including Sarasota Bay, and extends from the shore to 1.5 miles in the Gulf of Mexico. It makes Sarasota only the second county, along with Palm Beach, where the protection zones have been established. The push for the creation of a Sea Turtle Protection Zone started in 2021 through a partnership with the Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach and the Archie Carr Center for Sea Turtle Research at the University of Florida.

Sarasota dolphin researchers dig deep to find family ties. ‘Not just anonymous gray bodies’” via Catherin Hicks in the Bradenton Herald — Sarasota Bay regularly attracts its share of visitors in the form of weekend boaters, fishing enthusiasts and sightseers. But it’s also a multigenerational sanctuary for bottlenose dolphins, many of which exhibit humanlike tendencies that form the basis of scientific study by the Sarasota Dolphin Research Program, the longest continuously running examination of a dolphin population in the United States. More than just animals to fleetingly admire from a causeway or pleasure boat, dolphins have gotten to know the researchers (and vice versa) over the decades. Together, they are each learning what makes the other tick. “They’re not just anonymous gray bodies out there,’’ said Dr. Randall Wells, who founded the project in 1989.


DeSantis is running one freaky campaign” via Frank Bruni of The New York Times — The version of most politicians that we need to worry about is the one that they don’t want us to see. That’s why campaign reporters dog them; they’re waiting for the veil to slip.

But the version of DeSantis that we need to worry about is the one that he proudly shows us. He embraces his meanness. He luxuriates in his darkness. Let other politicians peddle the pablum of inspiration. He prefers to ooze the toxin of contempt.

That’s one of the morals of a provocative anti-gay, anti-trans video that the DeSantis campaign shared late last week. The campaign’s promotion of it prompted accusations of homophobia even from some Republicans, and justly so: In an attempt to smear Trump, the video doesn’t just accuse him of coddling LGBTQ Americans. It revels in DeSantis’ vilification of them.

The Florida Governor is running one freaky and unsettling presidential campaign. He’s more focused on putting certain Americans in their places than on lifting others to new heights. He’s defined by the scores he pledges to settle instead of the victories he promises to achieve. He casts himself as someone to fear rather than revere. That video actually flashes an image of Christian Bale in “American Psycho” as a flattering DeSantis analogue.

Vote DeSantis: He’s a monster, but he’s your monster.

How does someone with that pitch possibly bring together and lead an entire diverse country, if he gets that chance, and what does it say about the United States today that he has come this far? Have we put tolerance, grand ideals and optimism so fully to rest? I remember “Morning in America.” I guess it’s now midnight.

To read deeply and widely about DeSantis is to learn that his cruel politics match a cold personality.


The rage and joy of MAGA America” via David French of The New York Times — Everything is normal until, suddenly, it’s not. And unless we can understand what’s normal and what’s not, we can’t truly understand why Trumpism endures. DeSantis, for example, channels all the rage of Trumpism and none of the joy. With relentless, grim determination he fights the left with every tool of government at his disposal. Trump’s opponents miss the joy because they experience only the rage. In fact, they often don’t even know about the excesses of the Trump movement. Many of them will never know that their progressive neighbors have faced threats and intimidation. And even when they do see the movement at its worst, they can’t quite believe it.

How far can government go to suppress speech on social media?” via The Washington Post — A federal judge this week issued an injunction barring many executive branch agencies and officials from communicating with social media services about protected speech. The decision is unreasonably sweeping, and so is the suing state attorneys general’s central allegation: that the government’s actions amount to “the most egregious violations of the First Amendment in the history of the United States.” Yet the case raises questions worth asking. The top prosecutors in Louisiana and Missouri contend that Biden’s administration crossed a line in its attempts to persuade platforms to take down posts the White House feared would deter citizens from getting vaccinated during the coronavirus crisis or pose a threat to the integrity of U.S. elections.

U.S. institutions are polling about as well as King George III did in 1776” via Charles Lane of The Washington Post — As the Declaration of Independence tells it, Britain’s King George III, having committed a “long train of abuses and usurpations,” forfeited “the consent of the governed,” and with it, his right to rule the 13 colonies. As this country wrapped up its birthday party on July 4, polls were confirming a continued, and, in some respects, increasing, lack of public confidence in its political, economic and social institutions. The share of the public that expresses a “great deal,” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the presidency (26%), Congress (8%) and the Supreme Court (27%) ticked up slightly since 2022 but still registers at or near all-time lows.




ABC Action News Full Circle with Paul LaGrone on Channel 10 WFTS: Former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman of Shumaker Advisors Florida; political scientist and Public Agenda President Andrew Seligsohn; and Scripps News Tallahassee reporter Forrest Saunders.

Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at politics in South Florida and other issues affecting the region.

In Focus with Allison Walker on Bay News 9/CF 13: A discussion of the costs potential incoming citizens incur as they move through the system toward full U.S. citizenship status. Joining Walker are Congressman Darren Soto; Sal Picataggio, senior associate attorney; and Colombo Hurd, immigration and business attorney.

Political Connections on Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: A look at the 2024 campaigns and where candidates stand in the polls.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis discusses state issues at a recent Tiger Bay Club of Central Florida luncheon with host Ybeth Bruzual.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Gary Yordon and Steve Vancore.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Congressman Michael Waltz, Jacksonville City Council member Mike Gay; and Florida Politics’ Jacksonville reporter A.G. Gancarski.

— ALOE —

Legoland Florida: Monster bash returning for Halloween event” via Dewayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel — Legoland Florida has unwrapped some facts about its 2023 Brick or Treat Halloween event, which will again have a Monster Party theme. Visitors to the Winter Haven theme park can expect all-new fireworks show for the event, which will be held on Saturdays from Sept. 16 through Oct. 29, and then Saturdays and Sundays from Oct. 7 through Oct. 29. Live entertainment will include the V.I.M. Dance Party, which is hosted by Lord Vampyre; the Jammin’ Jacks trio with “spooky kooky tunes;” and “The UnbeLEAFable Halloween Night,” which features singing, dancing, a mystery and the Lego Plant Monster character.”

Start preparing now for the Legoland Brick or Treat event. Image via Legoland.


Happy birthday to former Sen. Janet Cruz, former Rep. MaryLynn Magar, Rep. Stan McClain, Amy Bisceglia, Tim Stapleton, Brad Herold, and NFIB’s Tim Nungesser.


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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