Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 10.6.23

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Heat up your day with a dose of Sunburn, the premier first read of Florida politics and policy.

Good Friday morning.

Well-known regulatory and administrative law attorney D. Ty Jackson is joining Holland & Knight as a partner in the firm’s Tallahassee office.

Jackson comes to the firm from GrayRobinson, where he was the deputy managing shareholder in the Tallahassee office. During his career, Jackson has provided integrated legal and regulatory strategies for clients facing professional licensing, regulatory compliance and administrative law challenges.

Regulatory expert D. Ty Jackson is moving to Holland & Knight.

He has also assisted business and individual clients in overcoming licensing hurdles, defending against disciplinary complaints and navigating the procurement process. Jackson’s litigation and advocacy experience spans most state agencies, regulatory boards and commissions, as well as administrative hearings in state and federal courts.

“Ty’s reputation is outstanding locally and his arrival immediately gives us a more sizable platform to expand our public policy and regulation practice in Florida to meet our clients’ growing needs,” said Karen Walker, who leads Holland & Knight’s Government Section. “Additionally, Ty’s substantial procurement and bid protest experience will help Holland & Knight grow its state and local procurement practice on a national level.”

Jackson has counseled clients in the health care, construction and financial services sectors, among others, and is adept at helping clients understand the legal implications of legislative issues and advocating for changes that remove barriers to growth.

“I am excited to join Holland & Knight and begin leveraging the firm’s expansive network to serve more of my clients’ needs,” said Jackson, who earned his law degree at FSU. “I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside Holland & Knight lawyers on significant bid protest litigation and look forward to offering more than 15 years’ worth of knowledge, experience and professional connections to assist in the firm’s future client engagements.”


University of Florida President Ben Sasse is doling out more than $9 million to fund a score of initiatives to enhance the student experience and interdisciplinary scholarship at the state’s flagship school.

The money, set aside by the Legislature, will be split across 19 projects, ranging from an expansion of outdoor wireless connectivity on campus to a program using augmented reality for certifying new teachers.

“When we asked campus leadership to come up with their best ideas for how to use this money, they jumped in with both feet. These round-one proposals can do some incredible things. I’m excited to hear from these units as they roll up their sleeves and get moving,” Sasse said.

Ben Sasse is committing $9 million to enhance the UF experience.

He continued, “This was the first round of our strategic funding process and I’m tremendously proud of how UF is putting these dollars to work. These are wins for our students, for our faculty, and for our state. The University of Florida is moving forward.”

The cash was part of a $130 million pot of new money lawmakers allocated for UF in the current budget year. Sasse, currently in his first year as UF President, established that half of the money must be demonstrably used for strategic purposes. UF will use $50 million to fund project proposals and has distributed an additional $24 million directly to college deans to fund projects.

The university has received 163 project submissions thus far and, in addition to those already awarded funding, there are 22 undergoing feasibility studies to determine ROI.


@RepMoskowitz: Donald Trump & his family have argued all week in his fraud trial that Mar-a-Lago is actually worth a billion dollars, even though its taxable value is listed as $18 million. So, I wrote to the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser that it’s time for Trump to pay more in taxes.

@MarcACaputo: GOP lawmaker: “Trump never came to dc to save Kevin (McCarthy). But he’s coming for the post-burial wake.”

@MaeveSheehey: Hill staffer giving a Capitol tour just now: “That’s where the Speaker …. Well, when we have a Speaker, that’s where the Speaker’s office is.”

@scontorno: At a Tampa event, a supporter asks (Ron) DeSantis about Trump: “How are you going to get the votes? He fills stadiums.” DeSantis: “Not anymore.” Talking about 2020 results, DeSantis added, “A voter that goes to 10 rallies, their vote counts the same as someone who is unenthusiastic.”

@Scott_Maxwell: If you’re an unenthusiastic voter, DeSantis is counting on you.

@MitchPerry18: @GovRonDeSantis with another shot at @realDonaldTrump on #Tampa speech. “A lame-duck President can’t get the job done. I’m sorry, that’s just a reality,” referring to how Trump can only serve one more term if elected in 2024.

@LauraLoomer: If @RonDeSantis can’t even handle me on a megaphone, how is he going to handle being President of the United States? #LOOMERED #Trump2024

@JimRosicaFL: Never would have thought that Laura Loomer and Thomas Kennedy would have something in common but here we are.

Tweet, tweet:



Republican Party of Sarasota County honors First Lady Casey DeSantis with the 2023 Stateswoman of the Year Award — 13; Martin Scorsese’s ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’ premieres — 14; 2023 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 17; Britney Spears memoir ‘The Woman in Me’ drops — 18; NBA 2023-24 season tipoff — 18; Taylor Swift’s ‘1989 (Taylor’s Version)’ released — 21; Suncoast Tiger Bay Club hosts ‘Evening with the Tigers’ — 31; ‘The Marvels′ premieres — 33; 2023 Florida Chamber Mental Health Innovation Summit — 34; Formula 1 will take over the Las Vegas Strip — 42; ‘Squid Game: The Challenge’ premieres — 47; Ridley Scott’s ‘Napoleon’ premieres — 48; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 54; 2023 Florida Transportation, Growth & Infrastructure Solution Summit — 56; 2023 Florida Chamber Annual Insurance Summit — 68; Zack Snyder’s ‘Rebel Moon’ premieres — 77; Matt Dixon’s ‘Swamp Monsters: Trump vs. DeSantis ― the Greatest Show on Earth (or at Least in Florida)’ released — 95; 2024 Florida Chamber Legislative Fly-In and reception — 95; Florida’s 2024 Regular Session begins — 95; Florida TaxWatch’s State of the Taxpayer Dinner — 100; 2024 Primetime Emmy Awards — 101; South Carolina Democratic Primary — 120; New Hampshire and Nevada Democratic Primaries — 123; South Carolina GOP holds first-in-the-South Primary — 141; Michigan Democratic Primary — 144; Georgia Democratic Primary — 158; Trump’s D.C. trial on charges related to trying to reverse his 2020 Election loss — 150; Super Tuesday — 151; ‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ premieres — 156; 2024 Oscars — 157; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 162; ‘Deadpool 3’ premieres — 208; 2024 Leadership Conference on Safety, Health & Sustainability — 217; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 227; Republican National Convention begins — 281; New ‘Alien’ premieres — 285; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 294; ‘Captain America: Brave New World’ premieres — 294; Georgia Tech to face Florida State in 2024 opener in Dublin — 324; Swift’s Eras Tour stops in Miami — 368; 2024 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 381; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 441; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 497; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 576; ‘Moana’ premieres — 633; ‘Avatar 3’ premieres — 807; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 938; Untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 960; Another untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 1,173; ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,312; ‘Avatar 4’ premieres — 2,268; ‘Avatar 5’ premieres — 2,631.


DeSantis health agency defying judge to block trans care, plaintiffs say” via Romy Ellenbogen of the Tampa Bay Times — In a motion filed Wednesday in the Northern District of Florida, the plaintiffs say the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration is in “complete defiance” of U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle’s June ruling, which said the state’s Medicaid ban was “invalid” to the extent that it categorically banned Medicaid payment for treatments of gender dysphoria. They are asking Hinkle to enforce or clarify his ruling.

They point to instances where transgender Medicaid recipients were denied coverage for hormone therapy after the June ruling as well as comments from the agency’s secretary warning of possible further action against Medicaid providers for violations of the state’s rule.

Ron DeSantis seeks an end run around the judicial system to block trans-care.

The state has appealed Hinkle’s ruling. The 11th Circuit has not paused the lower court’s judgment, so it remains in effect as the appeal continues.

“Defendants have thus acted as if this Court’s decision is a legal nullity that they can simply ignore on their whim,” the motion says. “That is not how our legal system works, however.”

The motion notes that the agency in August fined five Medicaid providers for covering treatments including a minor’s double mastectomy, hormone therapy and puberty blockers.


Since March, DeSantis has lost 2/3 of his support” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — A new national poll suggests that a six-month decline in DeSantis’ support in the presidential race continues unabated. The survey conducted from Sept. 18 through Sept. 25 shows that DeSantis has fallen from 35% back in March, when he was only 5 points behind Trump in the Republican nomination chase, to just 12% in this poll. Meanwhile, Trump, who was at 40% back in March, now has 56% support. The survey was much more favorable to DeSantis back in March than the national polling average, which showed Trump leading 46% to 27%.

DeSantis talks COVID response, Mexican border during presidential campaign stop in Tampa” via Spectrum News — After months of traveling coast to coast, Gov. DeSantis brought his presidential campaign back to Florida and again defended the state’s response to the COVID pandemic. His Thursday event in Tampa was one of the first he has held in the Sunshine State since he launched his presidential bid back in May. In recent months, he has focused on states like Iowa, South Carolina and other early-voting states. At downtown Tampa’s “The Vault,” DeSantis talked about COVID, suspended Hillsborough County state attorney Andrew Warren and the state’s efforts to recruit police officers to Florida. “This country as a whole is going in the wrong direction,” he said. “This country is in a state of decline.” “We’ve tackled problems here and created a place where people want to come,” he said. He railed against what he called “COVID authoritarianism” when many cities and states were shutting down during the early months of the pandemic.

DeSantis heads to Tampa for a talk about COVID, immigration.

DeSantis endorsed by group of 60 bipartisan law enforcement officers: ‘Will bring back law and order’” via Andrew Mark Miller of Fox News — DeSantis is being endorsed by 60 Florida bipartisan law enforcement officers on Thursday, a larger number than he received during his 2022 gubernatorial race. At an event in Tampa, Florida on Thursday afternoon, the campaign is set to announce that 60 law enforcement officers in Florida, both Republican and Democrat, are backing DeSantis in his race. “The endorsements come as DeSantis has been recognized in early nominating states for his actions as Governor to back the blue and sign strong anti-crime laws, resulting in a 50-year low crime rate in Florida,” the campaign said.

‘We knew the numbers were bad’: Law enforcement staff raised concerns about DeSantis’ top crime talking point” via Matt Dixon of NBC News — Florida’s top law enforcement officials were repeatedly warned by their own staff that DeSantis’ claim that the state’s crime rate is at a 50-year low was based on incomplete data that makes the accuracy of the claim impossible to verify. Despite those warnings, DeSantis continued to promote the numbers on the campaign trail. “The ethics of what we were reporting, we knew the numbers were bad,” a former FDLE employee told NBC News. “We foot-stomped it to leadership over and over again; they did not care. They did not care.”

DeSantis says he has never met a Florida mugging victim” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis was born and raised in Florida and spent much of his adult life in the state. Yet in all his 45 years on the planet, he says he never met someone who was mugged on the street, drawing a dramatic contrast to California. “My wife and I were in Southern California. We’re doing different events while we’re out there and we ran into about six or seven people that had been mugged within the last year. And I’m thinking to myself, I’ve been going to events for how long? I’ve never met anybody in Florida who had been mugged,” DeSantis said. “I’m not saying there’s no crime, but it’s almost like a common occurrence that this is happening. You know why it keeps happening,” he added. “Because the perpetrators aren’t put in jail where they belong.”

DeSantis trails Donald Trump by 35 points in Florida” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — A new Florida survey from a pollster who works with Trump shows him approaching 60% support in the state. And as Trump rises, DeSantis falls. Per a poll conducted Oct. 1 and Oct. 2, Trump has 57% support among 500 likely voters in the Florida Republican Primary, with DeSantis mired at 22%. Compounding the problem for DeSantis is the firm commitment Trump voters have to their candidate, with 81% saying they were “definitely” voting for Trump. DeSantis’ support is much softer; only 2 in 5 of his supporters aren’t considering another option.

DeSantis to meet campaign donors in Miami after announcing $15M Summer cash haul” via Max Greenwood of the Miami Herald — DeSantis is set to attend a high-dollar fundraiser in Miami on Thursday night during a campaign swing through his home state. The Miami fundraiser starts at $3,300 per person, with tickets to a VIP roundtable going for $11,600 a head, according to a copy of the invitation obtained by the Miami Herald. The gathering will be hosted by several Florida Republican luminaries, including Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez, former state House Speaker José Oliva, Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. and DeSantis’ Campaign Manager, James Uthmeier. The roundtable is slated to start at 7 p.m. on Thursday, with the general reception scheduled to begin an hour later. The invitation doesn’t make clear the exact location of the fundraiser.

Trump campaign says he raised more than $45 million in 3rd quarter, far surpassing DeSantis” via Jonathan J. Cooper of The Associated Press — Trump’s campaign said Wednesday it raised more than $45.5 million in the third quarter of the year, a haul that far surpasses DeSantis, the man once seen as his fiercest rival. The Trump campaign says it ended September with over $37.5 million cash on hand, bolstered by fundraising off his legal challenges. DeSantis’ team said Wednesday they intend to report raising $15 million during the third quarter of 2023 — less than his $20 million second quarter fundraising total.

Donald Trump is running rings around DeSantis regarding fundraising.

Nikki Haley surges past DeSantis in New Hampshire as Trump maintains lead” via Susan Page, Sudiksha Kochi, Savannah Kuchar and Rachel Looker of USA Today — Trump has maintained a formidable lead in the influential New Hampshire Primary, an exclusive poll shows, but a new challenger is emerging there as his top competitor: Haley. The USA Today survey of likely voters in the first-in-the-nation Republican Primary finds Trump at 49% and Haley at 19%. Though that gap of 30 percentage points is daunting, she has surged ahead of DeSantis, who has lost the standing he once held as the dominant alternative to Trump. DeSantis has dropped to 10% in the poll.

Half of South Carolina Republicans support Trump; Haley leads DeSantis” via Jared Gans of AOL — Half of South Carolina Republicans support Trump for the GOP presidential nomination, while Haley is ahead of DeSantis for second place. A poll found that just more than 50% of Republicans, as well as 47.5% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, support the former President. Haley received support from 16.6% of Republicans and 18.5% of GOP-leaning independents. Meanwhile, DeSantis, the Governor of Florida, came in third with 12.1% from each group.

DeSantis goes all in on Iowa amid campaign cash crunch” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — DeSantis’ struggling presidential campaign is throwing everything at Iowa amid a cash crunch that became more apparent after third quarter fundraising numbers were released Wednesday. DeSantis reported raising $15 million in the third quarter, a decline from the $20 million he raised in the second quarter. More concerning, most of his money had been spent or must be reserved for the General Election. DeSantis had $13.5 million in cash on hand at the start of October, but just $5 million of that was available to spend on his Primary campaign.

— MORE 2024 —

DeSantis claims Joe Biden 2020 win was because people were ‘voting against Trump’” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis is continuing to disparage his main opponent in the 2024 race. DeSantis claimed that Biden didn’t lose the election, so much as Trump lost it. “I don’t think anyone voted for Biden. They were voting against Trump. That’s why they did it. Let’s be honest,” DeSantis said, noting that even a reanimated John F. Kennedy wouldn’t “energize” Democrats the way Trump did in 2020. He went on to say that if Trump were elected, he’d be a “lame-duck President” and wouldn’t have the two-term runway DeSantis would have. DeSantis also noted that while Trump “won by 3” in 2020, he “won by 20” in his re-election battle.

DeSantis points out that Americans mostly voted against Trump in 2020.

DeSantis energy plan prioritizes U.S. economy over climate advocacy” via Dan Eberhart of Forbes — DeSantis recently unveiled his energy plan, calling for more domestic production of oil, natural gas, and minerals while promising to scrap the Biden administration’s climate policies, which he says are stifling U.S. energy production and benefiting China. The 2024 presidential hopeful, who is polling second behind Trump in the race for the Republican nomination, promises an energy policy to benefit “Midland over Moscow,” “The Marcellus over the Mullahs,” and “the Bakken over Beijing.” An all-of-the-above energy plan makes sense for a country as rich in natural resources as the United States, but there’s always the risk of national campaigns to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

DeSantis uses recent Trump claim to spotlight his broken promise on Mexico: ‘That didn’t happen’” via Andrew Mark Miller of Fox News — DeSantis slammed Trump at an event about a recent comment from Trump suggesting there was never a “legal mechanism” to make Mexico pay for a border wall, a prominent campaign promise of Trump’s “Obviously, that didn’t happen,” DeSantis said about Mexico paying for the wall at a Never Back Down super PAC event in Spartanburg, South Carolina. “We know that didn’t happen. But he said, ‘Look, these people are getting on me about that, but there was never any legal mechanism where I could make Mexico pay for them. It wasn’t possible to make Mexico pay for the wall.’ “He starts saying all this. I’m like, wait a minute, you said that for years, and now you’re saying that you never intended to do it,” DeSantis added.

DeSantis, not Trump, is the GOP’s best bet on immigration” via Eduardo Neret of Newsweek — In a shocking reversal of its own immigration policy, the Biden administration has quietly announced that it will waive nearly 30 federal laws to continue construction of the border wall in southern Texas. During the 2020 campaign, Biden swore his administration would not build “another foot of wall.” Now, nearly four years into his presidency and after millions of illegal immigrants have entered the country, Biden is apparently convinced that the influx of migrants at the southern border is unsustainable. Biden will now build the wall. Republicans will likely cheer this news; many already have. But the fact is, the country would not have needed Biden to build the wall if Trump had not violated the central promise of his 2016 campaign, which was his pledge to build a wall on the United States’ southern border and force Mexico to pay for it.

Trump says he’s willing to serve as House Speaker for up to 90 days — if it’s ‘necessary’ to unite Republicans” via Victor Nava of The New York Post — Trump revealed Thursday that he would accept a short-term role as speaker of the House “if necessary” to unite the Republican Party. Trump said if Republicans struggle to reach a consensus on a replacement for Rep. McCarthy, he’d be willing to fill the role for a “30, 60 or 90-day period.” “I have been asked to speak as a unifier because I have so many friends in Congress,” Trump said. “If they don’t get the vote, they have asked me if I would consider taking the speakership until they get somebody longer-term because I am running for President.”


Jim Jordan appears to be DeSantis’ pick for U.S. House Speaker” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — It appears DeSantis has offered at least a partial endorsement of U.S. Rep. Jordan for House Speaker. DeSantis added the Ohio Republican to his list of people he’d like to see leading the GOP caucus. “But I think you have guys like Chip Roy from Texas who’s excellent, Thomas Massie from Kentucky who’s excellent, Jim Jordan from Ohio. These guys are all good guys and I think they would do a good job.” DeSantis had mentioned Massie and Roy, both of whom have endorsed him for President, before. He had not mentioned former Freedom Caucus colleague Jordan, however, who is running against Rep. Steve Scalise to lead the House and drive GOP priorities.

Jim Jordan is DeSantis’ pick for House Speaker.

DeSantis likens himself to Ronald Reagan while explaining how he gets results from the Legislature” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis says he’s not “twisting the arms” of the Legislature to keep them in line. Indeed, while he considers many in the House and the Senate to be “friends,” DeSantis said Wednesday on “The Tara Show,” that a movement driven by the people keeps legislators in line — and backing his agenda. “It’s bottom up. I mean, you know, we inspire the people of Florida,” DeSantis said. “And so, what it is is these guys are talking to their representatives and their Senators and the voters are telling them: ‘You better be with the Governor on this. The Governor is doing this. Are you supporting him?’”

After campaign donations, DeSantis reappoints old foe to Citizens Insurance Board” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — For a while there, relations between DeSantis and homebuilding executive Carlos Beruff weren’t great. The two men traded barbs during opposing bids for the U.S. Senate in 2016. DeSantis called Beruff a “shady businessman.” Beruff fired back by calling DeSantis, then a Congressman, a “Washington insider” who was “looking for his next promotion.” But if there’s still ill will between the two men, it’s not publicly evident. DeSantis just reappointed Beruff to the Citizens Property Insurance Board of Governors, which steers the state-run insurer for roughly 1.35 million policyholders. He first appointed Beruff to the panel in 2020. The reappointment comes less than three months after Beruff and his wife, Janelle, each made maxed-out individual donations of $6,600 to DeSantis’ presidential campaign.

No hard feelings.

DeSantis says ‘limited resources’ may hamper deporting undocumented migrants despite prior promise” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis admits he may not be able to remove all the people who immigrated illegally to the United States under Biden after all. During an interview with an Iowa radio station, the candidate ameliorated his previous promise to remove “everyone who has come in illegally under Biden.” “Well, here’s the thing. So, I don’t know how many are here,” DeSantis admitted. “We’ve been told for many years, it was like 10, 11 million. But just under Biden, there’s been 6 or 7 million. You can’t say (that) because you’re not going to be able to do 100%, that then you should send none.


Biden administration to resume border wall construction in policy reversal” via Michelle Hackman of The Wall Street Journal — When he was campaigning for President, Biden pledged that “not another foot” of a border wall would be built on his watch. But this week, his administration announced plans to do just that. In a public notice posted Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security outlined its intent to build up to 20 new miles of Trump administration-era border barriers in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, one of the busiest crossing spots for migrants attempting to enter the U.S. The decision comes as Republicans nearly shut down the federal government over new border security measures, including resuming construction of Trump’s wall project.

Joe Biden jumps on the ‘Build the Wall’ bandwagon.

Why Biden claims he has no choice but to build more of Trump’s border wall” via Quinn Owen, Mireya Villarreal, and Selina Wang of ABC News — Biden on Thursday said his administration had no choice but to build about 20 miles more southern border wall, after he’s long dismissed Trump’s wall as a waste of money that doesn’t work to stop illegal immigration. “Money was appropriated for the border wall,” Biden said. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre could not point to instances when Biden attempted to change the funding designation. The White House also could not immediately explain why the project was moving forward now.

Biden administration is resuming deportation flights for Venezuelan migrants as arrivals grow” via Mark Stevenson, Michael Balsamo and Colleen Long — The Biden administration will resume deporting Venezuelan migrants, the largest single group encountered at the U.S.-Mexico border last month, back to their economically troubled country as their arrivals continue to grow. U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, speaking in Mexico City, cited the new measure as one of the “strict consequences” the Biden administration is pairing with the expansion of legal pathways for asylum-seekers. “Our two countries are being challenged by an unprecedented level of migration throughout our hemisphere,” Mayorkas said, referring to Mexico.

Biden plans face-to-face meeting with China’s Xi Jinping in California” via Ellen Nakashima of The Washington Post — The White House has begun making plans for a November meeting in San Francisco between Biden and Jinping, an attempt to stabilize the relationship between the world’s two most powerful countries, according to senior administration officials. “It’s pretty firm” there will be a meeting, said one administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the engagement has not yet been announced formally. “We’re beginning the process” of planning, the official said. A second senior administration official said that Biden looks forward to meeting Xi, but that “nothing has been confirmed yet.”

Biden asks Congress for more Ukraine funding as U.S. military aid is running out” via Nick Schifrin, Laura Barrón-López, Tess Conciatori, and Ian Couzens of PBS News — Biden convened his military and national security leaders for a briefing on the war in Ukraine. The conflict took a devastating turn overnight when Russian airstrikes killed more than 50 civilians. It’s the deadliest attack in months and comes at a moment when assistance from the U.S. is running out. The President plans to give a speech in the coming weeks, Amna, where he is going to lay out the stakes. He’s going to essentially try to send a signal to foreign allies, foreign adversaries, but also domestically, that the U.S. needs to be in this, that the U.S. needs to continue its support of Ukraine.

Migration and Fentanyl take center stage as U.S. and Mexican officials meet” via Eileen Sullivan and Zolan Kanno-Youngs of The New York Times — Biden’s top Cabinet officials and their Mexican counterparts met Thursday as both countries sought a united front on drug and gun trafficking and managing record levels of migration. The U.S. officials, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas and Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, are particularly focused on bolstering efforts with Mexico to curtail the stream of deadly fentanyl wreaking havoc in communities throughout the United States. But officials made a point to elevate the significance of the current global migration movement that has strained resources on both sides of the border.

Steve Scalise and Jordan vie for backing as Trump hangs over Speaker race” via Luke Broadwater of The New York Times — The two leading candidates to become the next Speaker worked the phones and the halls of the Capitol on Thursday, vying for support from within their party’s fractured ranks as the chamber remained in a state of paralysis after the ouster of McCarthy. Scalise, the majority leader, and Jordan, the Judiciary Committee Chair, had each landed more than a dozen endorsements by the afternoon as they raced toward a vote of Republicans tentatively scheduled for Tuesday. An election on the House floor could follow the next day, though the process could stretch much longer if no consensus can be reached. Trump threatened to weigh in himself in what could become an epic struggle.

Vern Buchanan backs Scalise for Speaker, Byron Donalds endorses Jordan” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — As a race for a new Speaker heats up, members of Florida’s congressional delegation are choosing sides. Two candidates have already declared bids for the vacancy. U.S. Rep. Buchanan said he will back Majority Leader Scalise. Scalise said on Wednesday he will seek the Speakership. “Steve Scalise is a proven leader and a battle-tested fighter,” said Buchanan. U.S. Rep. Donalds will back Jordan. “Jim Jordan has my full support to become the next Speaker of the House!” Donalds posted on X. “It’s time to get back to work for the American people.”

Matt Gaetz just positioned himself for Governor” via Kimberly Leonard and Mia McCarthy of POLITICO — When Reps. Gaetz and Donalds staked out opposing positions on shutting down the government, they framed it as a fight over spending. On ousting Speaker McCarthy, the two Florida Republicans disagreed over whether it was a referendum on McCarthy’s leadership or a distraction from urgent House business. What they didn’t say is that divergent views were also likely about the next campaign for Governor. What they didn’t say is that divergent views were also likely about the next campaign for Governor. “We are breaking the fever,” Gaetz declared outside the U.S. Capitol shortly after the vote Tuesday.

Matt Gaetz looks ahead to 2026 and the Governor’s Mansion. Image via AP.

Moderates could unite amid House speaker chaos. Why don’t they?” via Jacqueline Alemany, Marianna Sotomayor and Leigh Ann Caldwell of The Washington Post — Just hours before a vote to oust McCarthy as the House Speaker Tuesday, a group of Democrats and Republicans met in a conference room on the third floor of the Cannon House Office Building to make a last-ditch attempt to avoid the history that was soon to be made. The group was drawn from the 64-member bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, representatives who consider themselves more moderate and more pragmatic than their parties’ firebrands. Some hailed from swing districts where voters might applaud bipartisan action. For over an hour, people familiar with the session said, Republicans in the group begged Democrats to support the stability of the institution by agreeing to save McCarthy. Democrats were bewildered, the people said.

McCarthy’s ouster as House Speaker could cost the GOP its best fundraiser heading into 2024” via The Associated Press — McCarthy spent years raising mountains of cash, flying around the country to recruit top candidates in key districts and painstakingly building political relationships as he worked his way toward becoming speaker of the House. Now that he’s been ousted from the post after less than nine months, some in the GOP are wondering if anyone can take his place as a fundraising dynamo and party builder. The House isn’t scheduled to vote on who could replace McCarthy until at least next week with all legislative work suspended as the chamber navigates a situation never before seen in the nation’s history. In the meantime, House Republicans have no clear leader heading into next year’s election as they cling to a razor-thin majority.

The real-life consequences of a Congress in crisis” via Anthony Zurcher of BBC — Lawmakers have gone into recess until at least next week, as a handful of Republican lawmakers are openly or privately vying for the top job. The consequences of the crisis are becoming clearer. The Biden administration has been warning for weeks that funds allocated by Congress for U.S. aid to the Ukrainian war effort have been nearly exhausted. The most immediate cause of McCarthy’s ousting was his decision to put forward a bill on Saturday, which with Democrat support delayed a government shutdown until 17 November.

Student loan debt forgiveness arrives for some borrowers as payments resume for others” via Alia Wong and Nirvi Shah of USA Today — Another 125,000 student loan borrowers will have $9 billion in student loan debt erased, the Biden administration said Wednesday. Those borrowers were already eligible for cancellation through various programs: Public Service Loan Forgiveness for people working as teachers and health care workers, for instance; income-driven repayment plans that link payments to wages and forgive balances after 20 or 25 years of payments; or discharges for those with disabilities.

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Florida sues Biden administration in new dispute over unions” via Gary Fineout of POLITICO — Ashley Moody kicked off a new legal fight against the Biden administration that centers around a contentious new law regulating unions that the Governor has boasted about on the presidential campaign trail. Attorney General Moody filed a federal lawsuit in Fort Lauderdale that asserts top White House officials, including Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, are violating federal law because they are threatening to withhold hundreds of millions in federal grants unless a state panel grants waivers to Florida’s new union law.

Ashley Moody takes the Biden administration to court over a new union law. Image via AP.

Shevrin Jones renews push to repeal ‘stand your ground’ law” via Danny McAuliffe of Florida Politics — Sen. Jones filed legislation that would alter the self-defense landscape in Florida. The bill targets an oft-criticized state law that came under the national spotlight before and after the failed prosecution of George Zimmerman. It’s not the first time Jones has tried to overhaul Florida’s self-defense laws. His previous attempts haven’t been successful, and that’s unlikely to change this year. The GOP majority makeup of the Legislature remains the same, and Republicans have bolstered, not weakened, the “stand your ground” defense in recent years. It leaves untouched Florida laws justifying the use of deadly force when someone “reasonably” believes it’s necessary to prevent “imminent death or great bodily harm” or “the imminent commission of a forcible felony.”

Shev Jones wants to step back from the state’s Stand Your Guard law.

Happening today — The St. Lucie County legislative delegation meets: 9 a.m., Indian River State College, Pruitt Campus, 500 N.W. California Blvd., Port St. Lucie. The Putnam County legislative delegation meets: 1 p.m., Putnam County Commission board room, 2509 Crill Ave., Palatka. The Wakulla County legislative delegation meets: 2 p.m., Wakulla County Commission chamber, 29 Arran Road, Crawfordville.

Happening Saturday — U.S. Rep. Maxwell Alejandro Frost and former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords will speak at the Palm Beach County Democratic Party’s Truman Kennedy Johnson gala: 7:30 p.m., West Palm Beach Marriott, 1001 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach.

Alabama is ordered to use map with two districts that empower Black voters” via Emily Cochrane of The New York Times — A federal court ordered Alabama to use a new congressional map that could lead the state to elect two Black representatives for the first time in its history, by creating a second district with close to a majority of Black voters. The order, the culmination of a nearly two-year fight over the Republican-dominated state’s illegal dilution of Black voting power, could also see Democrats pick up a seat in the state. A three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama approved a map that increases the percentage of Black voters in one of the state’s six majority-White congressional districts to 48.7%, up from about 30%, while preserving the state’s one existing majority-Black district.

A case study in unethical journalism” via Judd Legum of Popular Information — On Sept. 26, Popular Information reported that librarians in Charlotte County public schools were instructed to remove books with LGBTQ characters from school and classroom libraries. Popular Information then obtained the logs of the books that were removed from Charlotte County high schools after the guidance was issued. But ABC7 and NBC2 in Fort Myers presented a very different story to their audience. Reporter Samantha Serbin published an article that claimed she had “confirmed” that Popular Information’s reporting was “grossly inaccurate.” Viewers were presented with allegations that Popular Information’s story was “wildly inaccurate” and “false.” Serbin never contacted Popular Information. Videos of these broadcasts were posted online along with the articles. The “basis” for these claims was “that books with LGBTQ+ themes are available in high school libraries.” This makes little sense.


Greg Folley passes $500K mark in open HD 81 race” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Folley, a Marco Island Republican, announced his official campaign in House District 81 has raised $398,600. On top of that, his political committee Friends of Greg Folley collected another $102,000. Together, that puts his totals just north of $500,000. “We are very proud of our financial support, and I want to thank our many donors,” Folley said. “But I am just as proud of our endorsements and grassroots support. Voters in every part of the district are supporting our campaign because they are frustrated with the Biden administration and their direct attacks on American strength.”

Greg Folley hits a fundraising milestone. Image via Folley campaign.

Daniella Levine Cava reports $470K raised in Q3 for re-election as Miami-Dade Mayor” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Levine Cava’s re-election campaign turned in a solid round of third quarter fundraising. Between July 1 and Sept. 30, Levine Cava said she amassed close to $470,000 between her campaign account and political committee, Our Democracy. The three-month haul would bring her total gains since launching her bid for re-election in March to about $2.6 million. Levine Cava said in a statement that the monetary support she received represents “a clear endorsement of our shared vision for the future of Miami-Dade.” “Together, we’re fighting to build on our important work delivering solutions for longtime challenges, while making Miami-Dade better, safer and more prosperous for everyone in our community,” she said.

Tweet, tweet:


J.C. Planas reports $50K raised for Miami-Dade Supervisor bid; a supporting PC stacked another $500K” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Planas amassed more than $50,000 between July and September toward his bid to be Miami-Dade County’s first elected Supervisor of Elections in decades. A political committee called Friends of JC Planas, which Planas’ campaign denied being affiliated with, raised $500,000 through a single donation late last month. The sole donor listed is Eduardo Fernandez, a mortgage loan originator from Miami. The PC’s Treasurer and Fernandez’s wife, Adriana Fernandez, who also works in mortgage lending, said Planas and his wife are “dear family friends.” She donated $500 in September to Planas’ campaign, which she said is unconnected to the PC.

Save the date:

Julie Marcus to seek re-election as Pinellas Supervisor of Elections” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — Marcus, the Republican Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections, is officially seeking to keep her job for another four years. “Ensuring the accurate count of every vote is the cornerstone of our constitutional republic,” Marcus said in a statement. “I’ve been committed to safeguarding the credibility of our elections, first as a staff member and since 2020 as the Supervisor. We’ve made significant strides in refining our methods, from heightened audit procedures to fortified cybersecurity and meticulous list maintenance procedures — all aimed at guaranteeing secure elections in Pinellas County.” Marcus announced Wednesday she will seek re-election. Her career spans more than 20 years in the county’s election administration. She has overseen more than 300 local and more than 25 countywide elections and has directed numerous machine and manual recounts. Her résumé also boasts experience with post-election audits and the implementation of new voting systems.

Ruth’s List Florida endorses Max Tuchman for Miami-Dade School Board” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Public school teacher-turned-tech exec Tuchman’s campaign to unseat an appointed member of the Miami-Dade School Board now has support from Ruth’s List Florida. The statewide abortion rights organization, which exclusively backs Democratic women, announced its endorsement of Tuchman in a news release that included invitations to the candidate’s community kickoff and campaign launch events next week. “Ruth’s List helped to recruit Max to run for the open seat currently being held by a DeSantis appointee, and her candidacy is a significant opportunity to secure a Democratic majority on the Miami-Dade School Board,” the group said.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

Francis Suarez praised Ken Griffin’s controversial plan. Billionaire’s aide wrote the quote” via Sarah Blaskey and Tess Riski of the Miami Herald — When a reporter asked Miami Mayor Suarez to comment on billionaire Griffin’s controversial plan to relocate a historic home from his $106 million bayfront estate and turn it into a tourist attraction, the Mayor gushed in full-throated support. “The idea that the public could visit this historic house for the first time and for generations to come is incredible,” Suarez said through a representative. “The citizens of Miami, South Florida and visitors from all over the world would be able to appreciate firsthand its significance and beauty so we hope this project moves forward.” Only the Mayor didn’t actually say that. The sentiments were scripted, word for word, by Griffin’s spokesperson, who gave them to the city, emails indicate.

Francis Suarez let billionaire Ken Griffin write the praise for his controversial plan.

Sebastian septic-to-sewer conversions could cost up to $23K per property” via Nick Slater of Treasure Coast Newspapers — The city is planning to upgrade its waste disposal by 2030. The City Council and the County Commission discussed the local septic-to-sewer conversion project at a joint meeting Sept. 21. One thing is for sure: The work will be pricy. It could cost $5,000 to $23,000 per property, according to the county. A major concern of the elected officials is how to reduce the cost to homeowners. “One of the things we are doing is looking into state grant money,” said Mayor Fred Jones. “The other thing we are going to be doing is working with the county because they are the provider of utilities.” The city has an estimated 11,000-12,000 septic tanks.

Some Palm Beach County teachers get second jobs to pay bills. Now they’re in for a 7% raise” via Katherine Kokal of the Palm Beach Post — Palm Beach County schoolteachers are in for welcome news this year: They’re likely to get double the raise they did last year. A new contract between the School District of Palm Beach County and the Classroom Teachers Association, the union that represents educators, includes a raise of 7% for teachers. The actual amount, however, depends on when their employment began, how they did on performance evaluations and the type of contract they have. But news of higher raises comes at a time when inflation has taken its toll in housing, food and child care costs. While 7% sounds great on paper, union President Gordon Longhofer said, soaring costs of living mean many teachers still have to take on second jobs.

Lead emitted at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport is higher than previously calculated, new study finds” via Shira Moolten of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Lead emissions at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport are estimated to be significantly greater than previous calculations, according to a new study contracted by the airport last month. But the actual amount of lead in the air and in surrounding neighborhoods remains unknown. The study, the results of which were discussed at a City Commission meeting, came after calls from nearby residents who cited a South Florida Sun-Sentinel investigation which found that South Florida’s small general aviation airports top the country in estimated lead emissions. Piston-engine planes at these smaller airports burn leaded fuel and emit toxin into the air, but the actual amount of lead has never been studied.

Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport needs to get the lead out.

South Florida part of federal takedown targeting Chinese fentanyl supply chain producers” via Shira Moolten, Fatima Hussein and Eric Tucker of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Federal officials announced a series of indictments and sanctions against Chinese companies and executives, accusing them of importing chemicals used to make fentanyl and methamphetamine into Florida, including Broward County. The actions have placed the state at the center of the Biden administration’s latest effort to combat the deadliest overdose crisis in U.S. history. Three Chinese companies shipped the chemicals to undercover federal agents based in Broward and Miami-Dade counties, as well as to a known drug trafficker in Deerfield Beach, according to the indictments unsealed in the Southern District of Florida. Five other indictments were unsealed in the Middle District of Florida’s Tampa Division.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

Osceola School Board member charged with battery, serving alcohol to a teenager” via Natalia Jaramillo of the Orlando Sentinel — Osceola County School Board member Julius Melendez was charged with battery and selling or giving alcohol to someone underage. Osceola County Sheriff’s Office charged Melendez with the misdemeanors Friday, after an investigation that began when an 18-year-old female notified them he gave her alcohol. Melendez’s arraignment is set for 8:30 a.m. Nov. 6. The 18-year-old worked at Susana’s Café in Kissimmee alongside Melendez, who was a manager. He helped open the café.

Julius Melendez showed some bad judgment.

Sumter Co. resident charged with voter fraud blames rivalry between Trump and DeSantis supporters” via The Associated Press — A man has been charged with forgery and fraud after authorities say he cast a ballot in Florida for his deceased father in the 2020 Election, though the suspect says the charges were motivated by a local, internal GOP political rivalry between Trump advocates and DeSantis supporters. Elections officials in Sumter County did not count the ballot because it was postmarked four days after the father died in mid-October 2020, according to a criminal complaint brought by William Keen, the Sumter County Elections Supervisor. An examination of the father’s ballot showed the signature on it resembled that of his son’s and not any of the father’s previous ballot signatures, the complaint said.

Volusia Council approves $329M federal relief spending plan with $200M going toward housing” via Sheldon Gardner of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — The Volusia County Council voted 5-2 to approve a spending plan for about $329 million in federal hurricane relief dollars with $200 million of the total going to housing programs. The plan still requires federal approval. About 20 people spoke to the Council. Speakers described a gaping hole to fill in the county’s stock of permanent and rental housing, especially for lower-income workers like those in the restaurant business. Some shared personal stories of struggle. Port Orange resident Frances Owings said she moved to Volusia County in 1990 and raised her two grandsons. A hurricane flooded Owings’ apartment, and she had to be rescued.

Palm Bay appoints new Fire Chief after former leader left amid disciplinary action” via Tyler Vazquez of Florida Today — Palm Bay Fire Rescue this week was appointed its newest Chief, Robert Stover, a career firefighter who has worked as division chief within the department since June and formerly served as an assistant chief in Seminole County. Stover’s appointment comes just months after a somewhat dramatic split between the former Fire Chief, Leslie Hoog, and city leadership earlier this Summer. Stover has held leadership positions and worked as a firefighter at multiple departments around the state of Florida before coming to Palm Bay. Throughout his career he has been an acting battalion chief with Broward County Fire Rescue, assistant chief at Coral Springs Fire Department, Citrus County Fire Rescue chief, and held several other positions.

Foster care contractor billed the state for salaries covered by PPP loans, audit finds” via Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel — The nonprofit that manages foster care throughout Central Florida has been accused of double-billing the state for employee salaries after receiving more than $1 million in federal Paycheck Protection Program loans during the pandemic. An audit ordered by the Department of Children and Families also found that Maitland-based Embrace Families failed to seek competitive bids for high-dollar-value contracts as required by law. Embrace Families could face increasing penalties, including having its contract revoked if it does not remedy the problems identified in the audit, wrote Kathryn Williams, assistant secretary in DCF’s Office of Child & Family Well-Being, in an August letter to the nonprofit’s current interim CEO.

Volusia County Schools unveils its ‘state-of-the-art’ STEM bus” via Mary Ellen Ritter of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — Volusia County Schools unveiled its “state-of-the-art” STEM bus at Beachside Elementary School. The mobile laboratory expands upon science, technology, engineering and math learning in innovative, engaging and hands-on ways. “Our students will be empowered to think critically, solve complex problems and embrace the endless possibilities of STEM,” said David Van Slyke, STEM bus resource teacher and driver. A tour of the bus unveiled drones, microscopes, tesla coils, a Van De Graff generator, 3D printing and six TVs. And third graders in attendance learned about robotics, rocketry, circuits, optics and forms of energy in fun and engaging ways that utilized both augmented and virtual reality.

Volusia wants students to jump on the STEM bus.

Flagler Sheriff: $719,583 stolen from Flagler Schools through electronic fund transfer” via Frank Fernandez of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — A thief stole $719,583 from the Flagler County School District through an electronic funds transfer via a computer, Flagler County Sheriff Rick Staly said at a news conference. The money was intended to pay for an ongoing expansion at Matanzas High School in Palm Coast. Staly also said it was unlikely the money would be recovered due to the time delay in discovering the fraud. The missing money was discovered when the contractor contacted the school to say the expected payment had not been received, Staly said. That prompted the school district to review its accounts and that’s when it discovered the missing funds, Staly said.

Randy Fine says encounter with anti-Jewish extremist left him ‘a little shaken’” via Eric Rogers of Florida Today — Rep. Fine said he had an “unsettling” encounter with a member of an anti-Jewish extremist group outside a speaking engagement in Cocoa, warning it appeared to be an escalation of recent antisemitic incidents in the area. Fine, who is Jewish, said the man aggressively approached him with a camera outside an unrelated meeting of the Brevard Federated Republican Women at the Space Coast Convention Center in Cocoa, where Fine was booked to speak. “He runs up to me and he goes, I’m so-and-so — I don’t remember his name — with the Goyim Defense League,” Fine told Florida Today. “He then proceeds to unleash a stream of invective about Jews and wanted to know why I wouldn’t debate him, or whatever.”


Hillsborough chief judge declines to intervene in Andrew Warren suspension” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — Newly elected Hillsborough County Chief Judge Christopher Sabella has rejected a long shot request from four prominent lawyers to undo DeSantis’ appointment of Suzy Lopez as state attorney replacing the ousted Warren. The lawyers, all Democrats, were former American Bar Association President Martha Barnett of Tallahassee, former state Attorney General Bob Butterworth, former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Peggy Quince of Tampa and well-known Tallahassee lawyer Barry Richard. They argued that because a federal judge has ruled that DeSantis’ removal of Warren from the post was illegal, the office should be considered vacant. In that case, they said, Florida law gives the chief judge of the judicial circuit authority to appoint a replacement. Warren is suing to be returned to his office.

Christopher Sabella takes a hard pass on Andrew Warren.

Hillsborough Children’s Board taps longtime staffer Rebecca Bacon as new Executive Director” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — The Governing Board for the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County has selected Rebecca Bacon as its new Executive Director, effective Oct. 1. Bacon replaces Kelley Parris, who held the role for 10 years. Bacon has more than 30 years of experience in children’s services, particularly in the areas of program and resource development. She joined the Children’s Board 16 years ago as the manager of an administrative services organization and later was promoted to director. In that role, Bacon managed and developed a full-service fiscal intermediary funding individualized services for kids and families. Before joining the Children’s Board, Bacon worked for Public Partnerships, LLC and consulted with other communities on family-directed care.

Tampa approves deal to save historic Jackson House” via Paul Guzzo of the Tampa Bay Times — Tampa City Council on Thursday unanimously approved a land swap deal with 717 Parking that will enable restoration of downtown’s historic Jackson House to begin. To create a city-required 10-foot fire code buffer between property boundaries, the restoration required 717 Parking to provide the Jackson House with 2,100 square feet of their neighboring surface lots. In exchange, 717 Parking will receive a 9,172-square-foot vacant public right of way that runs behind the Jackson House and the parking lots, plus another 3,400-square-foot neighboring lot on the corner of Nebraska Avenue and Twiggs Street that is owned by the city and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). There is still more that must be done before the swap becomes official, such as FDOT agreeing to vacate its piece of the land. FDOT and the city are in negotiations.

Crystal River will look to elevate City Hall after flood damage from Hurricane Idalia” via Mike Wright of Florida Politics — Crystal River’s City Hall may have flooded for the final time. Kicked out of their government home by Hurricane Idalia’s rising water, city workers are now at the Citrus County Chamber of Commerce Welcome Center on U.S. 19 and will be for the foreseeable future. City employees who are used to routine offices now work in a place that screams vacation. The city is looking for sites to lease as a temporary City Hall while the city pursues funding to demolish the current City Hall and rebuild an elevated one on the same site, Mayor Joe Meek said. Meek said the city should not attempt to reopen City Hall, which received damage from water, gasoline and oil.

For Rays’ partner Hines, $6.5B stadium development will be ‘transformative” via Rebecca Liebson and Jay Cridlin of the Tampa Bay Times — The bid to redevelop St. Petersburg’s Tropicana Field site sounded promising: Hundreds of residences and hotel rooms, park space along Booker Creek, and hundreds of thousands of feet of office and retail space. The Rays were out to build a new stadium, and the development firm they’d partnered with on the Trop site was a Houston company called Hines. Everyone knew the Rays-Hines pitch was coming, and some thought the city’s choice was a foregone conclusion. Except it wasn’t. The Mayor and City Council went with another bid, one that promised more homes, more hotels and more jobs. Hines was out of the Tropicana Field redevelopment business. That was 2008. Now Hines is back, working alongside the Rays to lead a monumental 20-year, $6.5 billion plan for a stadium and mixed-use development on the Trop site. The plan is moving forward with support from city and county leaders, putting Hines at the forefront of the biggest redevelopment deal in Pinellas County history.

Season over: Rays fall flat again, lose wild-card series to Rangers” via Spectrum News — A season that included 99 wins and a fifth consecutive playoff appearance came to a screeching end Wednesday at Tropicana Field. The Tampa Bay Rays for a second straight day were beaten by the Texas Rangers, this time 7-1, to lose their best-of-three American League wild-card series. Texas scored four runs off Zach Eflin to break open a scoreless game as the Rays again struggled in the field. Tampa Bay was held scoreless until the seventh inning when they pushed across a run to avoid a second straight shutout. The Rangers move on to play the Baltimore Orioles in the AL Division Series.

A good season ends quickly for the Rays.

TripAdvisor names St. Pete Pier restaurant best in the nation for ‘Everyday Eats’” via Devonta Davis of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — TripAdvisor has released its “Everyday Eats” list, which features one Tampa Bay restaurant as the best in the country to dine. The winners were selected by real diners who left feedback on TripAdvisor within the past year. Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille in St. Petersburg was ranked as the best in the nation to dine. “We are honored to have been named the No. 1 restaurant in the country on the Best of the Best Restaurants for Everyday Eats list,” said a partner with HM Restaurant Group, Joe Harrity, the parent company of Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille and Dixie Fish Company. “We strive daily to bring our guests the best hospitality and experience. Having our staff’s efforts recognized by our patrons is gratifying.” According to TripAdvisor’s website, Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille on the St. Pete Pier has received more than 2,700 reviews, labeling the restaurant “excellent.” This is the second time the restaurant has been ranked as the best in the country, previously holding the spot in 2021 and slightly falling to the second spot in 2022.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

Donna Deegan criticizes ‘City Hall culture’ but doesn’t veto any grant awards” via David Bauerlein of the Florida Times-Union — Mayor Deegan signed the new budget without using her line-item veto power on any of the 22 grants given directly by City Council to nonprofit organizations, even though she had said while running for Mayor that spending for politically connected nonprofits is part of the “culture of corruption” she would root out at City Hall. A news release from the Mayor’s Office said Deegan, who took office July 1, will press for reforms on future spending so it will be a “more consistent, transparent and fair process.” “I campaigned on ending a City Hall culture that too often privileges the few at the expense of the greater good,” Deegan said in a statement.

Donna Deegan goes light on the budgetary veto pen.

Lawsuit forces Duval County to redistribute polling places” via Steven Ponson of JaxToday — Several Jacksonville City Council Committees approved revised voting precincts this week. The next stop will be final approval before the full City Council. The changes would mean fewer precincts countywide on Election Day, but they would guarantee that every City Council district would have between 10 and 12 precincts. The changes result from a lawsuit against the Duval County Supervisor of Elections Office in late June, alleging violations of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. The lawsuit alleged that precincts ranged from nine to 18 per City Council district. Districts with fewer precincts put voters at a disadvantage due to longer travel distances, reduced accessibility, and longer wait times compared with areas that had more, the lawsuit said.

DeSantis fills out controversial new GRU Oversight Board” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — DeSantis filled the remaining seats on the new Board lawmakers approved to oversee the public utility serving Gainesville and much of Alachua County. The final appointees, announced Wednesday, are former Gainesville City Commissioner Craig Carter and dermatologist Tara Ezzell. They join three appointees the Governor’s office announced last week: Phalanx Defense Systems CEO James Coats IV, retired attorney Robert Karow and HCA North Florida Regional Hospital CEO Eric Lawson.

GRU Authority Board member resigns after residency requirements questioned” via Andrew Caplan of The Gainesville Sun — One of the first Board members of the Gainesville Regional Utilities Authority has stepped down after just a day earlier being appointed by DeSantis. Ezzell, who didn’t attend the first GRU Authority meeting Wednesday and wasn’t officially sworn in, will no longer join the Board. Ezzell was the fourth non-city resident appointed to the Board and her electric provider was Clay Electric, putting her at odds with two requirements to be on the Board. A lawsuit was filed Monday against DeSantis by Gainesville residents to contest the appointments.

Tara Ezzell says ‘Thanks, but no thanks.’

City estimates almost a million gallons of sewage was spilled over the weekend” via Elena Barrera of the Tallahassee Democrat — The City of Tallahassee estimates that almost a million gallons of sewage spewed into the streets and neighboring ditches and ponds after a main pipe burst Sunday. While the city hasn’t issued any kind of public update on the spill or its volume, City Commissioners were notified in an email that roughly 970,000 gallons of “wastewater” were released because of the broken force main on Capital Circle Northeast near Mahan Drive. This is the largest spill since June 2016 when 1 million gallons spilled during a power outage, said water quality watchdogs.

Gulf Breeze couple unknowingly bought a landfill. They fear someone will repeat their mistake” via Tom McLaughlin of the Pensacola News Journal — Abbey and Jeff Rodamaker paid $70,000 in 2019 for a 6.51-acre wooded lot at 1481 Ocean Breeze Lane in the Gulf Breeze area, only to discover that the property at which they had envisioned building their dream home sat atop what, upon inspection, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection determined to be a “promiscuous dump.” The term is one DEP uses to define “an unauthorized site where indiscriminate deposits of solid waste are made.” That doesn’t go nearly far enough, the Rodamakers say, toward describing the horrors they uncovered. “It’s 6 acres of trash, 15 feet deep,” said Abbey.

McKinley Climatic Lab returns to Eglin Air Force Base Control after eight years” via Collin Bestor of the Northwest Florida Daily News — After eight years of use from a unit at Arnold Air Force Base in Tennessee, the McKinley Climatic Lab has been returned to the oversight of the 96th Test Wing at Eglin Air Force Base. The change took effect on Oct. 1. “Col. Ashley McKinley’s 1940s test vision, a massive, refrigerated hangar, and its technology remain relevant today, playing a significant role in our national security,” said 96th Test Wing commander Brig. Gen. Jeffery Geraghty. “The realignment of the climatic lab under the test wing allows more streamlined operations and management of resources, ensuring we continue to deliver strategic warfighting capabilities.”


Will Manatee County cut wetland protections? Science and developer interests clash” via Ryan Ballogg of the Bradenton Herald — Environmental experts are pleading with Manatee County leaders to reverse course on their plan to remove local protections for wetlands — a move that favors developer interests. Manatee and other neighboring coastal counties have long had more strict water quality protections in place than the state minimum. While local officials have billed the proposal as a “county-initiated” amendment, the decision to reduce wetland buffers came after homebuilders approached staff with requested changes to the county’s development rules, according to public records obtained by the Bradenton Herald. It’s a 180 for the county, which previously defeated a developer challenge to the regulations in court. The Manatee County Commission signaled its approval of the regulation cuts with a preliminary vote in August.

Protections for Manatee wetlands are on the line.

Bradenton man arrested for storming the Capitol on Jan. 6 with parents, FBI says” via Ryan Ballogg and Michael Moore Jr. of the Bradenton Herald — A Bradenton man has been arrested for taking part in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. John Anthony Schubert III, 47, is charged with “felony offenses of civil disorder and assaulting, resisting or impeding certain officers,” the Department of Justice said in a statement. Schubert was arrested Wednesday in Bradenton. He will stand trial in the Middle District of Florida. In addition to the felonies, prosecutors say Schubert is charged with several misdemeanors, including knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building and engaging in physical violence in a restricted building or grounds.

‘Fugitive’ Christopher Worrell released from Collier County, remanded to DOJ” via Tomas Rodriguez of the Naples Daily News — An East Naples man arrested on a bench warrant, convicted for his part in the Jan. 6, 2021, attacks on the U.S. Capitol, who was found unconscious at his local address, is in federal custody, authorities confirmed. Karie Partington, spokesperson for the Collier County Sheriff’s Office, confirmed Worrell, 52, was no longer in their custody. Worrell was arrested at his longtime girlfriend’s home. The Sheriff’s Office assisted the FBI with the warrant. When it was served, Worrell was found unconscious. Worrell had been missing since mid-August. The FBI said in a news release that he had tried to “covertly” return to his home.


Republican elites are delivering the worst kind of red meat to their base” via David French of The New York Times — Not long ago, my colleague David Brooks kicked up a hornet’s nest online with a column titled “What if We’re the Bad Guys Here?” In the piece, he took aim at the culture of elite American meritocracy and argued that it had a crucial role in creating this toxic American moment.

As David wrote, this class of elite Americans has many, many virtues, but it’s far from perfect. And he’s right. I’ve experienced this. I grew up in a small town in Kentucky. My family wasn’t working class (my father was a college professor, and my mother was a teacher), but I grew up in a working-class community, and when I left the South to attend law school at Harvard, I experienced both sides of the meritocratic elite.

While I met and befriended many people who liked me in spite of our differences, I met many others who viewed me, a white, conservative evangelical, as an enemy to be vanquished rather than a new neighbor to know.

In the tug of war between the angels and devils on our shoulders, too many times the devils prevail. In this toxic moment, much of the American white working class is indulging its worst aspects, enabled and encouraged by a man and a movement that caricatures working-class values, draining them of light until the darkness threatens to overwhelm us all.

Like so many elite members of the Republican Party, they’re standing well outside the white working class while they role-play a dark caricature of its values and interests. And all too many members of the American working class are eager to embrace that caricature. They soak up the pandering and pledge their loyalty in return.


Governors make lousy presidential candidates” via David Catanese of Too Close to Call — It’s past time to dispense with the notion that Governors make good presidential candidates.

There’s far more evidence they’re awful at it: So married to their state’s success they fail to form a broader national vision, so removed from Washington they’re unprepared for the avalanche of sustained media scrutiny, so enamored with their own record as a small fish, they don’t grasp that most of the rest of the big pond isn’t paying attention to their accomplishments or doesn’t give a fuck about them.

Each cycle, Governors are hoisted up as politicians in a league of their own — solving real problems while partisan Washington bickers with nothing to show for it. Political punditry takes the bait, leeching onto a Governorship as a prestigious differentiator between the ambitious Senator, member of Congress or Vice President in their commentary. Said Governors happily regurgitate the recycled trope to debase the work of mere legislating.

In fact, if the arc of history is any guide —— not having run something in government might be a more attractive quality for Americans increasingly attracted to outsiders and table-shakers who don’t look, sound and operate like politicians.

The latest example, of course, is DeSantis, who earned many of the same glowing plaudits as Rick Perry and accrued much of the same hype as Scott Walker.

After four months of a largely floundering campaign — where his support has contracted — the actual governing of the nation’s third-largest state feels … smaller.

But when taking the longer lens, it really isn’t DeSantis’ fault.

His stock was always overpriced.


A broken Congress is what MAGA always wanted” via David Rothkopf of The Daily Beast — There have been MAGA true believers shitting on the floor of the Congress ever since Jan. 6, 2021. But the right wing’s active desecration of the U.S. government extends far beyond ugly recent events on Capitol Hill, and dates back long before the Trumpist insurrection of two and a half years ago. In fact, the origins of the attacks on the government date back at least four decades to the Reagan administration, when Trump popularized the idea within his party that government was actually the enemy. His joke that the scariest words one could hear were, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help,” has metastasized from being a pitch for smaller government into a movement to blow the whole damn thing up.

Jerry Demings, Commissioners vote to keep Orange County low-wage ‘Laborland’” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — For years, Orange County has had the lowest median wages of any major metro in America. This is what happens when you build an economy around ride attendants and hotel housekeepers. You get a workforce full of people who struggle to make ends meet — as the Sentinel detailed a few years ago in its “Laborland” series. Well, this week, Orange County leaders voted to double down on all that — to forever be Laborland. Mayor Demings and most of his peers on the mostly Democratic County Commission voted to spend another half-billion dollars on a convention center that is already 7 million square feet, is rarely fully occupied and usually runs a deficit.

Brian Fay: Community care would have saved me from months of suffering. That’s why I fight for other veterans to have access” via Florida Politics — My story is one of happiness and healing, mainly because of the support I had around me. Unfortunately, many veterans don’t have the same support system and are failing to get the treatment they need from the VA. The VA’s “one-size-fits-all” model of PTSD treatment often leaves veterans feeling like they are beyond fixing when it doesn’t work for them. That of course isn’t true, and the reason veterans need options in their mental health care. We’re able to find care and healing that works for our individual needs and circumstances when we have choices. The Veterans True Choice Act, Veterans’ HEALTH Act, Veterans Health Improvement Act and Veterans Health Care Freedom Act each tackle a different issue plaguing veterans who use VA benefits for health care, but all with the same goal in mind — putting veterans first.




ABC Action News Full Circle with Paul LaGrone on Channel 10 WFTS: Summit Communications President/CEO Janelle Irwin-Taylor, political analyst Dr. Susan MacManus, Tallahassee reporter Forrest Saunders and ABC News Deputy Political Director Averi Harper.

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

In Focus with Allison Walker on Bay News 9/CF 13: A discussion of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and what women and men need to know regarding the fight against breast cancer. Joining Walker are Dr. Michael Hwang, Director of Breast Imaging, Bayfront Health; Dr. Lyndsay Rhodes, associate professor of Biology, Florida Gulf Coast University; and Commissioner Janet Long, District 1/Chair, Pinellas County Commission.

Political Connections on Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: A look at where the search for a new U.S. House Speaker stands; also, Congresswoman Kathy Castor’s take on the situation, as well as on government funding; and a recap of DeSantis’ campaign stop in Tampa.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: Rep. Paula Stark will discuss her bills passed during the Legislative Session, and what’s topping her agenda as lawmakers convene in Tallahassee for Committee Week.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Guest host Steve Vancore speaks with FEA President Andrew Spar.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: JTA CEO Nat Ford; Dr. Diana Greene, former Superintendent Duval Co. Public Schools; and City of Jacksonville Chief Resiliency Officer Anne Coglianese.

— ALOE —

Watch out, Florida. Neighborhoods are about to get spooky.” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — Much of that decorating starts this week, according to the latest iteration of an annual study conducted by Lombardo Homes, which found that 37% of Americans will begin their Halloween decorating process this week. The study found the most common Halloween decorations in Florida are corn stalks, which are also the second most popular Fall decorations overall, behind pumpkins but ahead of skeletons. The study also ranked the most festive cities for Halloween. Only one Florida city made the top-30 cut: Jacksonville, with its Grim Reaper as the most popular decoration. In all, 79% of Americans plan on decorating for Halloween this year with the average expenditure expected at $87, according to the study. That average is up from $61 in 2022.

Things are getting spooky at the Schorsch household.

Disney: 9 new narrators set for Candlelight Processional” via DeWayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel — Walt Disney World has revealed its complete list of celebrity narrators for Epcot’s 2023 Candlelight Processional, and the list includes nine new readers. Among the newbies are Oscar winner Brendan Fraser, Broadway star Audra McDonald, singer Luis Fonsi and “Teen Beach Movie” and “Dear Evan Hansen” alum Jordan Fisher. Candlelight Processional is one of the festivities for the Epcot International Festival of Holidays, which begins Nov. 24, the day after Thanksgiving. The musical event features a 50-piece orchestra, a giant choir and a narrator who reads the Christmas story three times nightly.

St. Pete entrepreneur electrifies retro and classic cars” via Veronica Brezina of the St. Pete Catalyst — Lines of attendees formed outside of the Tampa Convention Center during a recent trade show event, to jump into the seat of a parked DeLorean DMC vehicle, the car model made famous through the 1985 film “Back to the Future.” A local entrepreneur has converted the displayed sports car into an all-electric vehicle. Automotive technology company Ampere EV has replaced the original 130-horsepower PRV six-cylinder engine with a Tesla Small Drive Unit (SDU) and a triple battery setup. The electric powertrain system boosts the vehicle’s ability to reach 60 miles per hour in just over four seconds. “It’s us old guys who have this undying love of retro cars, but the maintenance is horrible, and we wanted to remove that piece of it and still have an amazing vehicle with reliability and performance,” said Matt White, owner of Ampere EV.


Happy birthday to a great guy and good friend, Jim Rimes, as well as Mat Bahl, Chief of Staff for former House Speaker Chris Sprowls; former House Speaker Allan Bense; Joe Follick; former Pinellas Tax Collector Diane Nelson; and former Sen. Kevin Rader. Celebrating Saturday are Mark Logan; Randy Osborne; our friend, the man with perfect diction Jon Peck of Sachs Media Group; Tom Philpot; and our former colleague, Jim Rosica.


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.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704