Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 7.20.23

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Your morning review of the issues and players behind Florida politics.

Good Thursday morning.

Rep. Kaylee Tuck has joined GrayRobinson’s Real Estate and Land Use Section as of counsel, the firm announced.

Tuck, a Lake Placid Republican, was elected to the House in 2020 and last year cruised to a second term representing the new House District 83, which covers all of Glades, Hardee, Highlands and Okeechobee counties.

Tuck will work out of GrayRobinson’s Fort Myers office and will focus her practice on commercial and residential sales and leases, development, land use and survey matters.

Congrats to Kaylee Tuck, the new of counsel at GrayRobinson’s Real Estate and Land Use Section.

“Tuck is highly experienced in providing land use counsel and representation to private-sector commercial developers and members of the telecommunications and broadband industries,” the firm said in a hiring announcement.

Before her election, Tuck worked in the Florida Department of Financial Services Office of Fiscal Integrity and in the Florida State University Social Entrepreneurship Program, where she was a policy analyst evaluating the sustainability of converting dilapidated buildings into high-quality and affordable migrant farmworker housing.

During her time in the House, Tuck has been the lead sponsor on several bills related to agricultural and land use matters. In the 2023 Legislative Session, Tuck sponsored bills that would prohibit local governments from eliminating agricultural land-use regulations and improving fertilizer quality.

She also ushered the universal school choice bill — House Speaker Paul Renner’s top priority — through the Legislature. It has since been signed into law.

Tuck earned her bachelor’s degree in economics from Florida State University and her law degree from Stetson University. She is admitted to practice in Florida and is an active member in multiple sections of The Florida Bar, including the City, County & Local Government Law; Environmental & Land Use Law; Real Property, Probate & Trust; and Young Lawyers Sections.

Spectrum News is airing a special exploring the next giant leap for NASA to return to the moon for the first time in more than 50 years.

“Destination Space: Return to the Moon” airs Thursday, July 20 at 8 p.m. on Spectrum News 13 and Spectrum Bay News 9.

Hosted by Spectrum News 13 anchor Ybeth Bruzual, alongside Spectrum News 13’s in-house space experts, reporters Greg Pallone and Will Robinson-Smith, the half-hour special will feature conversations with Apollo program veterans and Artemis mission experts about the challenges and opportunities with returning to the moon and beyond.

Spectrum News looks at the next giant leap for space travel.

Spectrum News 13 is available to Spectrum customers on channel 13 in Central Florida and Spectrum Bay News 9 on channel 9 in Tampa Bay. Additionally, all Spectrum residential customers can access Spectrum News 13 and Spectrum Bay News 9 on the Spectrum News App.

The special is set to air as NASA ramps up for its first manned trip to the moon since the Apollo 17 crew touched down in December 1972.

Earlier this year, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson announced the moon crew, which will include Americans Reid Wiseman, the mission commander, as well as naval aviators Victor Glover and Christina Koch. They will be joined by Canada’s Jeremy Hansen, a former fighter pilot.

The crew is planned to launch in late 2024. They will fly around the moon without landing. NASA is tentatively planning to send a crew to the lunar surface in late 2025.

To date, just a dozen people have walked on the Moon, all of them Americans: Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Pete Conrad, Alan Bean, Alan Shepard, Edgar Mitchell, David Scott, James Irwin, John Young, Charles Duke, Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt.


New Steph Curry documentary premieres — 1; Lionel Messi to make his Major League Soccer debut with Inter Miami CF — 1; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 1; Gov. Ron DeSantis to speak in Iowa at Rep. Ashley Hinson’s annual BBQ Bash — 16; ‘Billions’ final season premieres — 22; Beyoncé’s ‘Renaissance’ tour in Tampa — 27; Port Orange, Lake Helen, Ponce Inlet to hold elections — 33; The first GOP Presidential Primary debate — 34; ‘Ahsoka’ premieres on Disney+ — 34; The U.S. Open begins — 39; 2023 Florida Chamber Technology & Innovation Solution Summit — 42; Florida House Fall 2023 Interim Committee Meetings begin — 60; Martin Scorsese’s ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ premieres — 78; 2023 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 95; Britney Spears memoir ‘The Woman in Me’ drops — 96; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 106; Suncoast Tiger Bay Club hosts ‘Evening with the Tigers’ — 110; ’Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 113; Formula 1 will take over the Las Vegas Strip — 119; Ridley Scott’s ‘Napoleon’ premieres — 125; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 132; 2023 Florida Chamber Annual Insurance Summit — 146; Matt Dixon’s ‘Swamp Monsters: (Donald) Trump vs. DeSantis ― the Greatest Show on Earth (or at Least in Florida)’ released — 173; Florida’s 2024 Regular Session begins — 173; Florida TaxWatch’s State of the Taxpayer Dinner — 181; South Carolina Democratic Primary — 198; New Hampshire and Nevada Democratic Primaries — 201; Georgia Democratic Primary — 207; South Carolina GOP holds first-in-the-South Primary — 218; Michigan Democratic Primary — 224; ‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ premieres — 234; 2024 Oscars — 236; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 253; ‘Deadpool 3’ premieres — 288; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 308; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 372; ‘Captain America: Brave New World’ premieres — 372; New ‘Alien’ premieres — 393; Georgia Tech to face Florida State in 2024 opener in Dublin — 401; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 519; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 575; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 652; ‘Moana’ premieres — 708; ‘Avatar 3’ premieres — 883; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 1,016; Untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 1,038; Another untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 1,251; ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,390; ‘Avatar 4’ premieres — 2,346; ‘Avatar 5’ premieres — 2,709.


Florida Board OKs Black history standards, rejects concerns about omitting history” via Ana Goñi-Lessan of the Tallahassee Democrat — The Florida Board of Education approved a new curriculum for African American history, but not without pushback.

After more than an hour of public comment, with a majority of speakers opposed, the Board voted unanimously to approve the social studies standards for African American history for kindergarten through 12th grades.

Opponents say the curriculum leaves out Florida’s role in slavery and the oppression of African Americans, victim blames Black communities and uses outdated language.

In a letter to Board member Ben Gibson, a group of 11 organizations, including the NAACP and the Florida Education Association, criticized the state for omitting or rewriting “key historical facts about the Black experience.”

Ben Gibson is fielding concerns over new rules for Florida in teaching African American history.

At the Board’s meeting in Orlando, members defended the curriculum and said a factual representation of history was included according to state standards. In 1994, the Legislature passed FS 1003.42 which created the African American History Task Force and requires instruction of history, culture, experiences and contributions of African Americans in the state’s K-12 curriculum.

“Everything is there,” said MaryLynn Magar, who was appointed to the board by DeSantis this Spring. “The darkest parts of our history are addressed, and I’m very proud of the task force. I can confidently say that the DOE and the task force believe that African American history is American history, and that’s represented in those standards.”

Dianne Hart pans new African American history standards — Florida Legislative Black Caucus Chair and Democratic state Rep. Hart blasted new standards approved by the Florida Board of Education regulating how African American history is taught in K-12 schools. “The curriculum passed today does not fully take into the recommendations of the African American History Task Force, which include examining the ‘contemporary issues impacting Africans and African Americans,’” Hart said. “Other examples include the fact that many of the other social studies topics voted on today require as a standard that Elementary students be able to explain or describe various parts of history. The African American curriculum simply has elementary students identifying various famous African Americans. … when you chose to build a foundation on falsehoods, lies, or by simply erasing history, you’ve laid a foundation that will ultimately fail.”


What reset? Republicans cast doubt on the idea that DeSantis is rebooting his campaign” via Max Greenwood of the Miami Herald — A series of moves undertaken by DeSantis’ political team in recent days is stirring speculation of a campaign reboot. Yet some Republicans aren’t convinced that a campaign reset is afoot, noting that DeSantis has a propensity to double down in challenging situations rather than change course. “I don’t see him reconfiguring anything,” Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist, said. “You’re not going to change Ron DeSantis’ DNA and all of sudden he’s going to become something new. He’s got to find a way to change his message without changing who he is because that’s not going to happen.” Jason Miller, a senior adviser to Trump’s campaign, suggested that DeSantis wouldn’t be able to correct course, even if he wanted to.

There is no Ron DeSantis 2.0” via Jack Schafer of POLITICO

—“Scott Walker urges DeSantis to start ‘going lean and going bold’ before it’s too late” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics 

—”The humiliation of DeSantis” via Helen Lewis of The Atlantic

Poll: Gender gap continues to hurt DeSantis in GOP presidential race” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Yet another poll shows DeSantis’ biggest problem in the GOP presidential race might be the opposite sex. A Quinnipiac survey of 727 registered voters who intend to vote in GOP Primaries shows DeSantis is doing almost twice as well with men than women in the 2024 field. Among men, DeSantis has 30% support, just 20 points behind Trump. Ramaswamy has 4% support with voters who identify as male, and every other candidate is at or below 3%. Among women, however, it’s a different story. Trump leads DeSantis, 58% to 17%, with former Vice President Mike Pence at 6%, former United Nations envoy Nikki Haley at 5%, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina at 3%, and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie at 2%.

Joe Biden campaign admonishes DeSantis’ culture war fights as a ‘contrived political stunt’” via Fritz Farrow of ABC News — Biden’s campaign slammed DeSantis’ culture war platform as a “contrived political stunt,” in its first on-the-record comments on the Republican presidential candidate. DeSantis rolled out a proposal to “rip the woke out of the military” by, in part, ridding it of any groups that focus on diversity, equity and inclusion programs, banning race and gender quotas and prohibiting drag shows on bases. However, later in the day, DeSantis said during an interview on CNN that many people are unfamiliar with the term “woke” and do not know how to define it. The Biden campaign seized on his remarks. “Ron DeSantis himself just told CNN ‘not everyone really knows what wokeness is’ — admitting his hallmark campaign issue is a contrived political stunt,” Biden campaign spokesperson Kevin Munoz said.

DNC accuses DeSantis of ‘whitewashing’ his Jan. 6 position” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — The Democratic National Committee is taking issue with what they call “whitewashing” from DeSantis regarding his position on the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot. “Ron DeSantis can’t rewrite history — he still won’t admit that the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6 was an insurrection and hasn’t wavered in his flagrant support of insurrectionists who assaulted police officers and continue to spread baseless and dangerous conspiracy theories,” asserted spokesperson Ammar Moussa. The comments come after DeSantis spent much of Tuesday offering commentary on the siege of the Capitol by Trump supporters seeking to stop the certification of Biden’s election. During a CNN interview, DeSantis said it was time to move on past the 2020 Election and the aftermath.

DeSantis Watch tackles the Governor’s ‘taxpayer-funded’ travel” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis Watch’s new ad, called “Taxpayer-Funded,” depicts Floridians struggling in the Sunshine State while DeSantis jets from one early Primary state to the next. The group says the spot “calls on him to stop using his constituents’ tax dollars to campaign for President and solve the real problems facing Floridians.” The 30-second video asserts that while “Floridians struggle with an affordability crisis created by our Governor, Ron DeSantis collects his $141,000 taxpayer-funded salary, and uses the state’s taxpayer-funded private jet to travel the country to campaign for President instead of focusing on the real issues impacting the people he was elected to serve.” … “It’s time that the Governor showed up for his job just like the rest of us,” the narration continues.

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

DeSantis will return to Utah Friday” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis will be back in Utah Friday afternoon for a news conference at the state Capitol and for other private events. DeSantis has enthused about Utah like no other Florida Governor in history, perhaps a function of needing their votes next year in the Republican Presidential Primary. At the Utah Republican Convention in April, the Florida Governor contended his home state is the “Utah of the Southeast.” “Utah is one of the best governed, best-performing states in the United States. You have a sound economy, you promote a good business environment, you stress the importance of education, you have fiscal and budgetary stability, and you have safe communities,” DeSantis contended. Polling shows the Governor connecting with Utah voters in a way that isn’t happening elsewhere.

Why experts aren’t all that concerned about Biden’s and Donald Trump’s ages” via Michael Scherer and Lenny Bernstein of The Washington Post — Biden, 80, and Trump, 77, are among the luckier ones. Biden has already outlived about 59% of American-born men in his age cohort, while Trump has outlived 47% of his cohort, according to an analysis of Social Security Administration data for people born in the 1940s by University of Pennsylvania professor Samuel Preston. As the oldest major party front-runners in American history — even with demanding schedules — they both remain physically capable. Both candidates have recent passing reports from their physicians and partake in healthy living habits. Actuarial tables suggest they are far more likely than not to live through a second term if elected, and experts in aging say there is little reason to doubt their continued health during that time, given the enormous benefits of their socioeconomic status.

— “DeSantis would be the third-youngest President ever” via Hannah Dormido of The Washington Post 

DeSantis says Trump is too old for prison” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis, during an interview on Newsmax with Eric Bolling, contended that Trump is simply too old to go to prison, assuming he’s convicted in any of his indictments that have happened or may happen this year. “I’ve said from the beginning to have a former President that’s almost 80 years old go to prison, that is not good for this country,” DeSantis said. The Governor suggested he would pardon Trump if elected President and somehow Trump was sentenced to prison, for the “good of this country.” “You got to look at the facts at the time that it happens, and it is all a case-by-case determination and there’s different reasons why you would pardon. But one of the reasons is, is this something that’s in the best interests of society?”

DeSantis says George Patton would be stuck as a Colonel in today’s military” via AG Gancarski of Florida Politics — “The things that are rewarded in the military is more about whether you’re following the social agenda that the civilian elites want you to follow. I don’t think George Patton could get beyond colonel in today’s military because of what they’re looking for,” DeSantis said. Patton, arguably the best field commander on the American side in World War II, was not without controversy. Dwight Eisenhower reprimanded him for striking a hospitalized soldier, then brooked further controversy when he took issue with “denazification” after the German defeat, after which he was removed from command in Bavaria. Also, DeSantis addressed the Pentagon, saying that “somebody from outside” was needed to be Secretary of Defense.

Christie pokes at DeSantis: ‘We don’t make our country better by continuing to rumormonger things” via Kelly Garrity of POLITICO — Chris Christie criticized DeSantis on Wednesday for claiming it is ‘possible’ the FBI or Justice Department could interfere with his campaign. “I don’t know what basis he has to draw that conclusion,” the former New Jersey governor said during an interview on CNN on Wednesday evening. “We don’t make our country better by continuing to rumormonger things.”

— MORE 2024 —

Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ 2024 neutrality frustrates Trump” via Alex Thompson and Worth Sparkman of Axios — Tensions between Trump and his former Press Secretary, Arkansas Gov. Huckabee Sanders, have grown over her neutrality in the 2024 presidential race. Trump’s frustration has risen recently because Sanders’ team had told his campaign she wouldn’t make an endorsement until after her first Legislative Session in Arkansas. That Session ended in May, and still, no endorsement. Sanders is among several Republicans with national ambitions who are staying neutral in the Presidential Primary despite the former President’s large lead in early polls.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders gets heat from Donald Trump over her decision not to endorse just yet.

Trump’s team seeks to learn whether special counsel has evidence, witnesses they don’t know” via Jeremy Herb and Kristen Holmes of CNN — Trump’s lawyers and advisers are trying to figure out if there is evidence and witnesses they are unaware of that are bolstering special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 Election. The potential charges listed in the target letter suggest the special counsel will prosecute a bigger case against Trump than the former President’s team was expecting, given the evidence of which they are aware. That has led to questions if there is evidence or testimony they don’t know about, the sources said. Trump’s team of lawyers and advisers have tried to keep close tabs on the investigation. The former President’s political action committee has underwritten legal costs for multiple witnesses, which has given them some insight into what has been shared with Smith’s team.

Republicans shrug at latest possible Trump indictment” via Shane Goldmacher and Maggie Haberman of The New York Times — The indictments of Trump — past and pending — are becoming the background music of the 2024 presidential campaign: always there, shaping the mood, yet not fully the focus. Like so much of the Trump presidency itself, the extraordinary has become so flattened that Trump’s warning on Tuesday that he was facing a possible third indictment this year, this time over his involvement in the events that led to the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol, drew shrugs from some quarters of his party and a muddled response from his rivals. At one Republican congressional fundraising lunch on Tuesday in Washington, the news went entirely unmentioned, an attendee said. Some opposing campaigns’ strategists all but ignored the development. And on Capitol Hill, Trump’s allies quickly resumed their now-customary defensive positions.

Why a third indictment of Trump could be such a profound stain on his legacy” via Stephen Collinson of CNN — Few citizens face the kind of perfect storm of legal threats engulfing Trump. And given that he is a past and possibly future President running for a new term, the entire country could share in his historic ordeal. Strong indications Tuesday that Trump could soon be indicted in a third case — this one in special counsel Smith’s probe into efforts to overturn the 2020 Election, deepened the legal and political tension surrounding the 2024 Election. Trump said that Smith sent him a letter on Sunday informing him he was a target of the investigation, a step that usually precedes charges.

Amid Elon Musk’s Twitter changes, why 2024 Presidential Election threats now pose bigger risk” via Josh Meyer of USA Today — Before there was the MuskMark Zuckerberg cage match, there was a Musk-Ed Markey blue check mark dust-up. Sen. Markey was trying to prove a point. A fake Markey had popped up on Twitter, and someone had paid for the once-coveted blue check mark on the account to indicate to social media users that it was authentic. It was not, of course, and the public spat that ensued over the fake account, which Markey later revealed he knew about all along, foreshadowed a drama that is unfolding over the role Twitter will play in the 2024 Election. Twitter is more vulnerable than ever to the spread of misinformation, the amplification of divisive content and coordinated disinformation campaigns that could influence the outcome of the race.


Republican contender seeking to challenge Lois Frankel adds $300K to campaign” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Andrew Gutmann’s first congressional campaign report shows he’s added more than $300,000 in his bid to unseat U.S. Rep. Frankel, outpacing the six-term Congresswoman’s donations for the same period by $73,000. That’s even though Frankel had a 25-day head start on Gutmann, a self-described “anti-woke education activist” who filed to run for the seat representing Florida’s 22nd Congressional District on April 25. He wasn’t officially a candidate until two weeks into the second quarter, for which fundraising reports were due last week. A news release Gutmann sent highlighting his haul argues his message is resonating. Campaign reports also show he also lent his campaign $110,000.

Andrew Gutmann hit the ground running in his first congressional campaign. Image via Andrew Gutmann.

Mario Díaz-Balart raises, spends $142K toward winning 12th term in Congress” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — U.S. Rep. Díaz-Balart amassed more than $142,000 in the second quarter of 2023 toward securing a 12th term in Congress. Much of the money came from a pro-Israel organization, aviation businesses and government contractors. By June 30, he held about $1.3 million in reserves — roughly the same sum he had going into Q2, after spending almost as much as he raised over the three-month period. Díaz-Balart’s largest contributor was the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a self-described “bipartisan, pro-Israel” group that was also among his top givers during the 2022 cycle.

Carlos Giménez raises $192K in Q2 to again defend CD 28 seat” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — U.S. Rep. Giménez increased his war chest holdings to $900,000 in the second quarter of 2023 after raising about $192,000 and spending far less. Since overwhelmingly winning re-election to a second term in November, the Republican former Miami-Dade County Mayor has raised more than $341,000 to keep his seat representing Florida’s 28th Congressional District. So far, no one has filed to run against him in this cycle. While Giménez collected healthy sums from corporations and political groups, a significant share of his Q2 gains came through the personal checks of nearly 50 wealthy individuals.

DeSantis sets date for HD 35 Special Election — The Governor has set the dates for a Special Election to replace former Rep. Hawkins. Per DeSantis’ executive order, issued Wednesday evening, the Special Primary Election will be held on Nov. 7. A Special General Election will follow on Jan. 16. As of Wednesday, five candidates have entered the race for HD 35. They include Democrats Bagga and Keen and Republicans Booth, Davenport and Moore. HD 35 is roughly defined by the Seminole County line to the north, the Brevard County line to the east, and the Osceola County line to the south. It voted for Biden in 2020 but Hawkins, a Republican, won the seat by 10 points last year.

Another Democrat joins the Primary fight for still-unscheduled HD 35 Special Election” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — A nonprofit leader is now the third Democrat entering a Primary contest to replace Republican state Rep. Fred Hawkins, in a Special Election for which a date has not been set for House District 35. Marucci Guzmán, executive director of Latino Leadership, has joined the Democratic field. Rishi Bagga, the Democrat Hawkins defeated in November, has filed for the seat in east Orange County, as has Tom Keen, who narrowly lost in the 2022 Democratic Primary. Apparently, Democrats see a pickup opportunity after Hawkins was named as president of South Florida State College. Multiple Republicans are also running, including Erika Booth, Ken Davenport and Scotty Moore.

Josie Tomkow draws Democratic challenger in HD 51” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Polk City Republican Rep. Tomkow will face a challenger in her bid for a fourth full term in the House. Division of Elections records show Davenport Democrat Octavio Eduardo Hernandez opened a campaign account to run for House District 51, becoming the first candidate to challenge the incumbent in the 2024 cycle. Tomkow also has a fundraising advantage. As of June 30, the incumbent had collected $24,300 for her campaign and had $19,305 in the bank.

Josie Tomkow draws a Democratic challenger.

Anne Gerwig bets $60K on moving from Wellington Mayor’s seat to Tallahassee” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — As Wellington Mayor Gerwig competes for a promotion to represent Palm Beach County in the House, she added more than $80,000 to her campaign in its first 25 days — $60,000 of it coming from her own pocket. Gerwig became the third Republican to get into the Primary fight last month, vying to represent House District 93. She is up against a real estate developer and a mortgage company vice president for the right to face incumbent Democratic Rep. Katherine Waldron in the November 2024 General Election. Real estate developer Brandon Cabrera is second to Gerwig in the overall money race in this contest, but Waldron raised more money in June. Meanwhile, Chris Mitchell, whose LinkedIn profile shows he’s a vice president and Norcom Mortgage branch manager, is a distant fourth in the money chase.


Judge refuses to limit drag show ruling to just Hamburger Mary’s” via Austin Fuller of the Orlando Sentinel — A federal judge won’t limit his previous ruling that temporarily blocked a Florida law he has determined violated the constitutional rights of drag performers. U.S. District Judge Gregory Presnell on Wednesday denied a motion asking that his injunction blocking the law apply only to the plaintiff in the case, the Hamburger Mary’s restaurant in downtown Orlando. “This injunction protects Plaintiff’s interests, but because the statute is facially unconstitutional, the injunction necessarily must extend to protect all Floridians,” Presnell wrote in his order. At issue is a new Florida law that contains penalties for any venue allowing children into a sexually explicit “adult live performance.” The law includes potential first-degree misdemeanor charges for violators.

The drag law ruling is for all Floridians, not just Hamburger Mary’s.

Advertisement— STATEWIDE —

National Hurricane Center tracking Tropical Storm Don. New tropical wave appears on map” via Cheryl McCloud and Dan Rorabaugh of The Palm Beach Post — Tropical Storm Don picked up some speed and power, but it’s still not expected to impact land, according to the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center. As Don turns more toward the west over the next couple of days, it should move over warmer waters, allowing some gradual strengthening. Also in the Atlantic basin are three tropical waves, including one in the eastern Atlantic with a 20% chance of developing over the next seven days.

A labor shortage is holding back Florida’s growth. Here’s why it could stay that way.” via Clayton Park of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — For years, economic boosters have claimed that “1,000 people per day” move to the Sunshine State. Last year, Florida lived up to that claim and then some, drawing over 1,140 residents a day to become the nation’s fastest-growing state for the first time since 1957. That growth has translated into a greater need for new homes, apartments, restaurants, stores, hospitals and public works projects. And that greater need is translating into a growing headache: Florida’s construction industry is reeling from a severe labor shortage that has no end in sight, builders and economists say. “Just because you see a lot of construction projects going up, it doesn’t mean they don’t have a labor shortage problem. I guarantee you that they do,” said Anthony Viscomi, co-owner of Viscomi Construction in Ormond Beach.

Florida’s labor shortage could be a drain on the state’s economy.

‘Do not, for the love of God, tell kids that slavery was beneficial’” via Jackie Llanos of Florida Phoenix — Students at Florida public schools will now learn that Black people benefited from slavery because it taught them skills. This change is part of the African American history standards the State Board of Education approved at a Wednesday meeting. The description of slavery as beneficial is not the only grievance parents, teachers, education advocates and politicians had with the new standards. People speaking at the Wednesday meeting generally called out the diluting and omissions of history. For example, instruction at the elementary school level is largely limited to identifying famous Black people, and high school teachers will talk about the “acts of violence perpetrated by African Americans” at the 1920 Ocoee Massacre, in which a White mob killed at least 30 Black people.



Biden targets food prices, housing in latest ‘junk fees’ action” via Jennifer Jacobs, Akayla Gardner, and Ryan Teague Beckwith of Bloomberg — Biden announced new actions to target so-called junk fees, efforts he said would lower costs and help curb inflation that has damaged him politically ahead of the 2024 election. “Folks are tired of being played for suckers,” Biden said at a White House meeting of his Competition Council Wednesday, detailing a partnership to fight price-gouging on agricultural goods and an initiative compelling companies to disclose rental housing fees. Biden said the U.S. Department of Agriculture would cooperate with attorneys general in 31 states and the District of Columbia to ramp up enforcement of antitrust and consumer-protection laws in food and agriculture. Biden said the effort would help stop large companies from “artificially” raising prices.

Joe Biden is taking further steps to eliminate ‘junk fees.’ Image via AP.

China’s Xi Jinping rebuffs John Kerry’s call for faster climate action” via Lisa Friedman, Chris Buckley and Keith Bradsher of The New York Times — Chinese leaders rebuffed attempts by Kerry, Biden’s climate envoy, to persuade them to commit to tougher climate action during three days of talks in Beijing, a response that suggested that tensions between the countries are making it difficult to work together on a crisis that threatens the planet. Kerry emerged late Wednesday from the lengthy negotiations in Beijing with no new agreements. In fact, Jinping insisted in a speech that China would pursue its goals to phase out carbon dioxide pollution at its own pace and in its own way. Still, Kerry appeared buoyed that the world’s two biggest polluters had restarted discussions, which had been frozen for a year because of strained relations over Taiwan, trade and other issues. He insisted he was not disappointed in the outcome, noting that just talking marked progress.

Child care funds sought as Congress looks to fall supplemental” via Aidan Quigley of Roll Call — Child care advocates are pushing for $16 billion supplemental funding as members of Congress push for a variety of priorities to be included in an emergency package expected later this year. Both Democratic appropriations leaders, Senate Chair Patty Murray and the House panel’s ranking member Rosa DeLauro, are longtime supporters of child care subsidies. DeLauro in a statement Wednesday called for more money and criticized House Republicans for proposing to cut the Department of Health and Human Services’ early childhood education program Head Start.

Senators to propose ban on U.S. lawmakers, executive branch members owning stock” via Brody Mullins of The Wall Street Journal — Two U.S. Senators are set this week to introduce bipartisan legislation to bar members of the federal executive branch and lawmakers from owning stock in individual companies, as new polling shows broad public support for such a measure. The bill from Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Josh Hawley would permit the President, Vice President, lawmakers, Capitol Hill aides and employees of the executive branch to own mutual funds and broad industry and index funds. But it would prohibit them from owning stocks in individual companies, even in blind trusts.

Debt relief: About 57,000 Floridians qualify for student loan forgiveness under Biden plan” via Diane Rado of Florida Phoenix — Following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling upsetting thousands of student loan borrowers, the U.S. Department of Education has released state data on the number of borrowers eligible for automatic loan forgiveness, with Florida showing 56,930 borrowers and more than $3 billion in discharges. Only Texas, with 63,730 borrowers, and California, at 61,890, had more borrowers than Florida. The debt relief relates to what’s called an Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) plan. Overall, the department has already started to notify 804,000 borrowers about the relief totaling $39 billion.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

Biting, berating, racist language: Fabian Basabe has faced many claims of bad behavior” via Aaron Liebowitz of the Miami Herald — Basabe had a bone to pick. At an event at the Standard Spa in Miami Beach, he had been seated next to people unfamiliar to him, prompting the former reality TV star and socialite who would later become a Republican state Representative to send a scathing email to hotel employees. “Please don’t ever sit me next to people I don’t know again!” Basabe said. “You must understand I do not expect to entertain randoms! … I will keep this to myself right now but do not disrespect me again!” In response, one of the employees reminded Basabe of what he says took place that night: Basabe bit him, he claimed, saying he had a “massive bloody welt and bruise” on his shoulder. “It was not the first time I got wasted,” Basabe wrote back. “But it was the first time you didn’t treat me as a friend.”

Fabian Basabe brings with him a history of bad behavior. Image via AP.

Could Broward teachers earn $100K? School Board wants to discuss the idea” via Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Broward teachers could be among the highest paid in the state, earning $80,000 by 2025, or $100,000 with benefits, under a proposal the School Board is reviewing. The proposal comes from School Board member Allen Zeman, who first outlined it in an opinion piece Sunday in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. The idea has created excitement among some teachers but also skepticism among some school district administrations and Board members about whether the district can actually afford this. Still, the majority of the School Board decided the idea had enough merit to continue discussions at a meeting next week.

Port St. Lucie police seize $300K worth of fentanyl, some cocaine in big drug bust” via Will Greenlee of Treasure Coast Newspapers — Port St. Lucie Police made what they said was the largest fentanyl bust in city history, seizing 10,000 pills weighing more than 2 pounds, and arresting an individual known as “Candy Man.” Along with the fentanyl, valued at $300,000, police reported seizing 1.3 pounds of cocaine, 4.5 pounds of marijuana, THC wax and nine firearms. THC is the substance primarily responsible for the effects of marijuana on a person’s mental state. Arrested in the case on more than a dozen drug and other charges was Radames Guzman, 43, of Port St. Lucie.

From ‘holiday’ to ‘accountability’: Mayor suspends Budget Director after gas-tax lapse” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — After touting a coming “gas tax holiday” for residents at a news conference this week, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said she was suspending her Budget Director for causing it by failing to realize a fuel tax was up for a 30-year renewal in 2023. In a memo to County Commissioners, Levine Cava said David Clodfelter would serve a 10-day suspension without pay over Miami-Dade having to stop charging the 6-cent tax for the final four months of the year after missing a July 1 state deadline to reauthorize it. The pause on collections is forecast to cost the 2024 county budget about $17 million.

Miami really is hotter this Summer than last Summer. And any other year on record” via Alex Harris of the Miami Herald — Yes, Miami Summers are always hot. But this one is already off the charts. This brutal stretch of extreme heat in South Florida is obliterating records left and right. So far, we’ve broken more than a dozen daily peak temperature records, the ocean is hotter, earlier than it’s ever been, and the combination of heat and humidity — tracked by the heat index — has reached new heights more than 20 times in the last 35 days. All of that is tracked with data from the National Weather Service’s Miami office and compiled by Brian McNoldy, a senior research associate at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Research.

Pinecrest’s peacock problem meets a vet with a vasectomy plan and a legal loophole” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — Shielded by county law for decades, peacocks in Pinecrest are no longer off limits to trappers, and Don Harris is eager to get his hands on the birds. Pinecrest lined up Harris to perform hundreds of rapid peafowl vasectomies after the village secured an exemption this week from Miami-Dade County’s strict rules against trapping the large birds. Trappers hired by the village will respond to resident requests for peafowl sterilizations, then ship the birds to a Harris facility for vasectomies under sedation before returning the fowl to the neighborhoods where they were taken. The hope is to slow the growth of a population that’s both beloved by some for its plumage and detested by many for its daily habits.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

Flagler Schools’ Superintendent search: Board discusses what it wants from new leadership” via Brenno Carillo of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — The Flagler County School Board gathered for a special meeting with members of the Florida School Board Association (FSBA) to discuss what it’s looking for in a new Superintendent. The Board in April chose not to renew former Superintendent Cathy Mittelstadt’s contract in a contentious 3-2 vote. Since then, the Board has partnered with the FSBA to begin its search for the vacant position. LaShakia Moore, who was Mittelstadt’s assistant superintendent, was appointed Interim Superintendent until January 2024, when the Board expects the new Superintendent to start.

LaShakia Moore is serving as a placeholder for former Superintendent Cathy Mittelstadt’s soon-to-be-named replacement.

Father and son, both pastors at Melbourne church, and church member guilty in Jan. 6 riot” via J.D. Gallop of Florida Today — A father and his son, both pastors at a Melbourne church, and an Indian Harbour Beach repairman were found guilty by a federal jury in connection with their roles in the failed Jan. 6 insurrection. The convictions of James Varnell Cusick Jr. and his son Casey Cusick — leaders of the Melbourne-based Global Outreach Ministries Church — and David John Lesperance came at the end of a five-day jury trial before District of Columbia Circuit Judge John D. Bates. The jury found the three men guilty of knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building or on grounds without lawful authority; disorderly or disruptive conduct in a restricted building; and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, court records show.

‘I never thought it would happen to me’: Surfer recounts shark bite in New Smyrna Beach” via Frank Fernandez of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — Chris Pospisil, a member of the University of Central Florida surfing team, said he was familiar with sharks while surfing at New Smyrna Beach. “That’s the shark bite capital of the world, so you see the sharks there, like every time you go surfing, you see them all the time,” Pospisil, 21, said. “I’m always seeing them, but never really gave it too much thought that it could actually be me getting attacked and I never really thought this would happen to me. And sure enough, it did.” A shark took aim at Pospisil Friday as he rode his surfboard at New Smyrna Beach.


Pinellas says parents, staff to decide book challenges — not school board” via Jeffrey Solocheck of the Tampa Bay Times — The Pinellas County School Board won’t have the final say on whether challenged books should remain on district shelves. A majority of members say they want to leave those decisions to a committee of parents and staff who stand to be affected by the outcomes. The district Superintendent would appoint the panel. Further cementing that point, the Board also agreed at a meeting Tuesday to add language to its policy on book challenges. The changes clarify that the Superintendent and designated staff are authorized to remove books from schools regardless of whether any formal objections are filed. The Superintendent has had that power for years, but only recently has it become a point of contention. Some community members cried foul when Superintendent Kevin Hendrick and his team pulled Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye” out of courses and libraries in January after one parent complained about its content but refused to formally challenge it. Hendrick later returned the book to the schools after a public outcry, at the recommendation of a committee of media specialists.

Kevin Hendrick says parents should be the deciders on what books are pulled from school libraries.

Report says St. Pete has a homicide problem” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — The city of St. Petersburg has one of the worst homicide rate problems in the nation, according to a recent study from WalletHub. The study, which evaluated 40 of the largest cities in the U.S. based on per capita homicides in the second quarter of 2021, 2022 and 2023, ranked St. Pete seventh worst in the nation of cities evaluated. It was ranked the worst city in Florida and came in behind Memphis, Tennessee; St. Louis, Missouri; Kansas City, Missouri; Washington, D.C.; Detroit and Richmond, Virginia. Changes in St. Pete’s homicide rate from the second quarter of 2022 to the second quarter of 2023 was 1.16, the second worst of cities evaluated. From the second quarter of 2021 to the second quarter of 2023 though, homicides actually went down, with a -0.39 change. That ranked St. Pete at No. 22 on the list (the higher the ranking, the better the homicide rate outcome). That shows that while the city’s data indicates a problem, good news is on the horizon. Its homicide rate in Q2 2023 was 4.65, putting the Sunshine City at No. 15 on the list.

Clearwater OKs first condo in $1B North Marina plan, but questions remain” via Tracey McManus of the Tampa Bay Times — The city’s Community Development Board has approved a 64-unit luxury condo on Osceola Avenue, the first of roughly 15 projects that developer Rodney Riley is planning for the North Marina Area near downtown. The Board’s approval on Tuesday was the only vote needed for the 66-foot-tall condo on vacant land just south of the entrance to the city’s popular Seminole Boat Ramp. But the remaining projects in what Riley recently described as his $1 billion Clearwater Marina District depend on a more complicated process to change the downtown plan and code to allow for more density and increased heights. And it’s increasingly unclear whether city officials would approve those changes.

Could Florida politics drag down Tampa Bay tourism?” via Shauna Muckle of the Tampa Bay Times — Some business and lifestyle conventions hosted in Florida face a new challenge this year: convincing attendees they’re safe in the state. Conventions attracting vulnerable groups — LGBTQ+ people, educators of color, abortion providers — are responding to concerns from attendees and vendors who perceive Florida as hostile to their identities, or the state’s policies as anathema to the convention’s purpose. Take MetroCon, Tampa’s annual animé convention, which took place at Tampa’s convention center last weekend. President Alex Craddock’s biggest headache? The passage of Florida laws restricting bathroom access for transgender individuals and limiting drag performances. Many animé fans in the convention’s targeted age range, 16 to 22, are members of the LGBTQ+ community, Craddock said. Fans worried Florida’s drag law — which has since been held up in the courts — would limit their ability to cosplay as their favorite characters, particularly if it could be perceived as drag.

FWC approves new fishing regulations for Sunshine Skyway Pier” via Jason Lanning and Julia Hazel of Bay News 9 — The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) has voted to approve staff recommendations for new rules for anglers on the Skyway Fishing Pier. The rules come after hundreds of bird injuries, and a monthslong process of public input. FWC proposed the following new regulations: establish an annual education requirement for anglers; prohibit the use of hook and line gear with more than one hook; limit anglers to using no more than two sets of hook and line fishing gear; and review regulations again after two years of implementation. In addition, FWC provides grant funding for safety equipment to be installed along the Skyway fishing pier that anglers can use in the event they hook or entangle a bird in the fishing line.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

‘I am Billie Jean King’ challenge: Hearing officer makes recommendation on book’s fate” via Alaijah Brown and Douglas Soule of the Tallahassee Democrat — A hearing officer picked by the Leon County School District to make a recommendation on how to proceed with a challenge to the book “I am Billie Jean King” is telling School Board members they should keep it on elementary school shelves. “It is my opinion that removing ‘I am Billie Jean King’ from elementary schools infringes on the rights of parents who want their children to learn about Ms. King and the many contributions she has made to our country,” wrote that official, retired principal D.J. Wright, in her recommendation. The decision now goes to the School Board, which will discuss the book challenge at its Monday meeting agenda and vote on a decision on Tuesday.

Taking ‘I am Billie Jean King’ off school library shelves does a disservice to children and families, says a hearing officer.

Black mold and busted balconies: Pensacola City Hall needs $536K in emergency repairs” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — Pensacola City Hall is in need of emergency repairs after 37 years of deferred maintenance. Earlier this year, the city conducted a structural survey of City Hall, perhaps the first, and learned it needed $536,000 worth of repairs within the next 12 months. The city had already earmarked $1 million in federal funds for improvements to City Hall through the American Rescue Plan Act. The planned improvements are to update the City Hall lobby, the City Council meeting chambers and the Hagler-Mason Conference room, where most of the city’s public meetings take place. Those updates are estimated to cost $796,865.

Okaloosa County approves $1.4M from surtax funds for upgraded law enforcement data systems” via Collin Bestor of the Northwest Florida Daily News — The Okaloosa County Commission on Tuesday approved a budget transfer of $1.4 million from the county surtax to be used for a new data-management system for all public safety and judicial services within Okaloosa County. The measure passed on a 4-1 vote. Issues with the system will not allow the OCSO to effectively communicate with other law enforcement entities within the county. With all board members agreeing that the system was needed, the debate was whether the service would be paid for by using the general fund or transferring funds from the county surtax.

Leon County declares Florida PACE Funding Agency a ‘public danger’ over home improvement loans” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — “County Commissioners voted unanimously July 11 to declare FPFA “a danger to the public’s health, safety or welfare” and repeal a resolution allowing the entity to operate its financing program locally. Last month, they voted to give County Attorney Chasity O’Steen the authority to take all steps up to and including litigation against the agency. The votes were in response to a letter from FPFA earlier this year saying it wasn’t bound by county restrictions because of a Leon Circuit Court ruling in a bond validation proceeding. That assertion prompted Palm Beach and Pinellas counties to sue FPFA in April. Alachua County signaled last month it may file a lawsuit as well.

Tweet, tweet:

Sheriff’s office suspends captain following court win, reinstatement” via Nora O’Neill of The Gainesville Sun — An employee of the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office has been suspended less than two months after her employment was reinstated following a lawsuit against the sheriff. Capt. Rebecca Butscher has been suspended with pay as of July 13, a spokesperson for ACSO confirmed. They declined to give any further comment or offer an explanation as to why. Butscher’s attorney, Bobi Frank, said she looks forward to addressing the issue but said she couldn’t speak about the suspension at this time. Just a week earlier, ACSO made a Facebook post commemorating 30 years of service by Butscher.

Wakulla County Commissioners facing backlash over the county’s springs protection ordinance” via Adrian Andrews of WFSU — Wakulla County Commissioners are under fire for ignoring a proposal that would put tighter restrictions on Wakulla Springs. The draft was drawn up by residents who say the county’s current ordinance does little to protect the Springs from pollution. Dozens of residents were in attendance to present their amendment to a 1994 Springs Protection Ordinance. But when the moment came to consider the community-crafted plan, no Commissioner would second a motion by Commissioner Chuck Hess to even discuss the proposal. This means the regulation will remain untouched. The move infuriated the crowd and sparked a protest and led to three citizens being escorted out of the meeting by law enforcement.

‘Disappointingly low T from Ken’: Matt, Ginger Gaetz ‘Barbie’ film comments spark blowback” via Brandon Girod of the Pensacola News Journal — Matt Gaetz and his wife, Ginger, have received social media blowback from conservatives and progressives alike after the duo posted photos of themselves clad in pink at the premiere of the new Barbie film along with some controversial statements. “Thinking about watching the Barbie movie? I’d recommend sticking to getting outfit inspiration and skipping the theater,” Ginger tweeted before listing her thoughts on the movie. “The Barbie I grew up with was a representation of limitless possibilities, embracing diverse careers and feminine empowerment. The 2023 Barbie movie, unfortunately, neglects to address any notion of faith or family, and tries to normalize the idea that men and women can’t collaborate positively (yuck).”


New College of Florida student pleads not guilty to battery charge against trustee Christopher Rufo” via Steven Walker of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — A New College of Florida student who was charged with misdemeanor battery by the state for an alleged spitting incident involving conservative activist and college Trustee Rufo has pleaded not guilty. Catherine “Libby” Harrity, a 20-year-old New College student, was named in a charging document from the state accusing them of first-degree battery against Rufo for allegedly spitting at him after a May 15 state bill signing by DeSantis on New College’s campus. DeSantis’ visit drew vocal protest from students, who have organized against his reshaping of the college since January. The Governor has said he wants to turn New College into a “classical liberal” college akin to the Christian, conservative Hillsdale College in Michigan.

A New College student pleads not guilty for spitting on Trustee Christopher Rufo.

Manatee County assures earthy tasting drinking water is safe to consume, despite concern” via Jesse Mendoza of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Manatee County is assuring local residents that an earthy, musty, taste in drinking water caused by an algal bloom in Lake Manatee is safe to consume, despite ongoing concern by environmental advocates. The county announced last week that a blue-green algal bloom in Lake Manatee has caused residents to receive odd-tasting drinking water, although Manatee officials say the water is safe to drink. Environmental advocates called the situation “yet another blue-green algal bloom in an ongoing series of ecological hits to local water quality.” In a news release issued last week, they contend that the drinking water could still be harmful, despite reassurances by Manatee County.

Collier Commissioner proposes using tourist tax dollars to help workers with housing” via Laura Layden of the Naples Daily News — Collier Commissioner Bill McDaniel has floated an idea that could make housing more affordable for tourism workers in the county. His idea? To use tourist tax dollars to fund housing grants. The grants could go to hotels, restaurants and other tourism-related businesses to help offset the high cost of housing for their workers. In the case of hotels, they could provide rooms at a discount to employees, then receive reimbursement for the difference in the market rate. The county continues to face an affordable housing crisis, exacerbated by Hurricane Ian. Rents and home prices have soared, making it more difficult for businesses to recruit and retain workers, especially service workers, with lower-paying jobs.

Bill McDaniel has a plan to make housing more affordable in Collier County.

Who are the Grenons? Bradenton family on trial, charged with selling bleach as COVID-19 cure” via Melissa Pérez-Carrillo of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The Grenons, a Bradenton family who sold bleach as an alleged COVID-19 cure, are on trial this week for fraudulent marketing and selling the product. Mark Grenon, 65, and his three sons — Jonathan Grenon, 37, Joseph Grenon, 35, and Jordan Grenon, 29, sold the “Miracle Mineral Solution” (MMS) as a cure for dozens of serious diseases and disorders. They received more than $1 million from selling MMS as a treatment for ailments such as COVID-19, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, autism, Parkinson’s disease, and other serious medical conditions, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice. The trial began with the Grenons representing themselves.


Kill the constitution? A rewrite is Florida’s latest nutty idea” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida politicians hatch so many harebrained ideas that it’s sometimes hard to keep track. Seriously, this state cultivates quackery the way Idaho does potatoes.

So, you may have missed the latest head-shaker to come out of the Florida Legislature — a proposal to do away with Florida’s current constitution.

No, I’m not kidding. If I were kidding, I’d say: I’m so bad at math that if I got 50 cents for every math test I failed, I’d have $1.63 by now.

This, my friends, is serious. State Rep. Spencer Roach — the same GOP House member who helped hatch the government plan to take over Disney World — recently said he was launching a crusade to scrap the current state constitution and replace it with a new one.

Because who needs things like due process and freedom of speech? Clunky and outdated ideals like that can get in the way of an authoritarian agenda.

Yeah, forget old-fashioned ideals like the right to assemble. Florida politicians will define “freedom” for you.

Think about it: Can you even count how many times these guys have passed laws that were blatantly unconstitutional? Laws that courts have repeatedly blocked or thrown out because they violated the very documents these politicians swore to uphold.

Now you’re starting to understand why some Florida politicians want to rewrite the state constitution. Judges won’t be able to rule their political schemes unconstitutional if the schemers are the ones who write the constitution in the first place. How brilliant.


DeSantis unironically frets about ‘criminalizing political differences’” via Eric Boehm of Reason — Leave aside, for now, the bigger questions about whether another Trump indictment would be good for the country — or, for that matter, good for DeSantis’ own presidential aspirations. Focus on the first part of DeSantis’ answer — the part about how criminalizing political differences is wrong. Tapper didn’t seize on that moment, but it would have been interesting to see him follow up by asking DeSantis how that position fits with the Florida Governor’s extensive track record of wielding the power of the state against those with whom he has political disagreements. Indeed, the weaponization of the state against those on the political left is the central theme of DeSantis’ entire campaign. He proudly boasts that Florida is “where woke goes to die.”

—“OK, DeSantis. Here are unpolitical things to say about the weather.” via Alexandra Petri of The Washington Post

It was supposed to be DeSantis’ moment. Instead, it was Trump, Trump and more Trump” via the Miami Herald editorial board — Was Tuesday supposed to be a turning point for DeSantis’ presidential campaign, the moment when he emerged from behind Trump to lead the Republican Party toward a triumphant return to the White House? If so, yikes. Instead of a statesmanlike moment for DeSantis on Tuesday, it was Trump, Trump and more Trump — even on CNN. Once again, DeSantis found himself being defined by The Former Guy. This, after DeSantis’ polling numbers have barely budged and amid reports that some campaign funders are getting nervous. DeSantis was supposed to be Trump without the liabilities. But as the baggage piles up, DeSantis — like us — has to be wondering when, if ever, it will finally be too much.

A fast one in Hillsborough?” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — Republican Commissioners used their new Board majority last week to move toward a redistricting plan that could give the GOP a long-term advantage in Commission races. Under a measure that moved forward last week, the Board’s makeup could expand from seven members, including three elected countywide, to nine members. And all would represent geographically distinct districts. Democratic Commissioner Harry Cohen is right that any change in governance this sweeping should go to a General Election. Voters need time to dissect what this overhaul might bring. Fast-tracking such a fundamental change in how the county operates doesn’t serve democracy, bolster public faith in elections or advance transparency in government. It only would breed suspicion about the Republicans’ partisan intent. It’s also totally unnecessary.


— ALOE —

A ‘she-cession’ no more: After COVID dip, women’s employment hits all-time high” via Tim Henderson of Stateline — After fears of a “she-cession” during the pandemic, women have returned to the workforce at unprecedented rates. In June, the national share of employed women ages 25-54, considered prime working age, hit 75.3%, the highest recorded since the U.S. Census Bureau started reporting the numbers in 1948. The share of prime-age women working or looking for work also hit a new high of 77.8% in June. In Florida, 71.7% of prime-age women are working compared to 84.1% of men. “This generation of women ages 25-54 have more college degrees than any other generation of women, and having college degrees is a very strong predictor of labor force attachment,” said Beth Almeida, a senior fellow at the progressive Center for American Progress.

Women are returning to the post-pandemic workforce in record numbers.

SeaWorld Orlando unleashes more Howl-O-Scream details” via Ashley Carter of Spectrum News — SeaWorld Orlando has unleashed more details about its upcoming Howl-O-Scream event, which returns for its third year on Sept. 8. The after-hours, horror-themed event will feature new and returning haunted houses, scare zones, themed bars, and the Monster Stomp stage show. A new scare zone called “Blood Light District” will join the lineup. “Those who walk in the streets of this borough will tempt your deepest desires,” reads a description on the SeaWorld website. “You can fight their beckoning, but you will not win.” Blood Beckoning, a house from last year that centered around a siren who was “out for blood,” will return for this year’s event.


Celebrating today are state Sen. Darryl Rouson, 2nd Judicial Circuit Judge Angela C. Dempsey, and William Large of the Florida Justice Reform Institute.


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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