Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 11.7.23

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Coffee’s brewing — but ‘Sunburn’ is already made and ready to go.

Good Tuesday morning.

Breaking overnightCharlie Adelson trial: Jury returns guilty verdict in 2014 murder-for-hire killing of Dan Markel” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — Adelson, the Fort Lauderdale dentist long suspected in the plot to kill Florida State law professor Markel nearly a decade ago, has been found guilty in his murder. The 12-person jury just returned a guilty verdict in Adelson’s trial at the Leon County Courthouse. He could spend the rest of his life behind bars. Adelson was charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy and solicitation in Markel’s grisly demise on the morning of July 18, 2014. After taking his kids to preschool and going to the gym, Markel was shot twice in the head at point-blank range in the garage of his Trescott Drive home. He died 14 hours later.

Charlie Adelson’s trial ends — guilty, guilty, guilty.


It may be an odd-numbered year, but if it’s the first Tuesday in November, it’s Election Day in Florida.

All eyes in Tallahassee will likely be on House District 35, where Democrats and Republicans will decide on nominees in a Primary. On the Democratic side, attorney Rishi Bagga, Latino Leadership Director Marucci Guzmán and businessperson Tom Keen all have made their case to voters. Meanwhile, the Republican Primary pits Osceola School Board member Erika Booth, former Congressional candidate Scotty Moore and real estate agent Ken Davenport.

Erika Booth, Ken Davenport and Scotty Moore face off in the GOP Primary for HD 35.

Hundreds of thousands have already been spent on both the Republican and Democratic Primaries. Expect that to step up leading into a Jan. 16 Special Election. The contest winner will succeed former state Rep. Fred Hawkins, now the president of South Florida State College.

The stakes are high.

While Hawkins, a St. Cloud Republican won the seat in November by 10 percentage points, voters here favored Joe Biden in the 2020 Presidential Election and Andrew Gillum in the 2018 race for Governor.

The race could ultimately set the tone for 2024 in Florida, as Democrats aim to prove Florida remains a swing state while Republicans seek to defend every seat in their statehouse supermajority.

But that’s not the only race going on. Municipalities throughout the state will hold elections for local office. Check out Florida Politics tonight, when we will cover as many races as we reasonably can.

Here’s a few standout races to watch:

In Orlando, three incumbents face challengers on the ballot.

— Mayor: Buddy Dyer hopes to secure a seventh (and perhaps final) term leading The City Beautiful. He faces former City Commissioner Samuel Ings, former state Senate candidate Steve Dixon and gym owner Tony Vargas

— District 4: Incumbent Commissioner Patty Sheehan will appear against two challengers, local Republican consultant Randy Ross and IFCO Systems executive Katie Koch

— District 4: Commissioner Bakari Burns stands for re-election against challenger Rufus Hawkins

In Lakeland, two City Commission seats will be on the ballot

— At-large: Commissioner Chad McLeod faces two challengers, construction executive Dennis Odisho and nurse practitioner Kay Klymko.

— Northwest District: Interim City Commissioner Sam Simmons faces neighborhood leader Lolita Berrien, Lakeland Moonwalk CEO Guy LaLonde Jr.

In Seminole County, Lake Mary has one incumbent tested while the Mayor of Oviedo defends her seat.

— Lake Mary Seat 2: Commissioner George Buryea faces a challenge from Kristina Renteria.

— Oviedo Mayor: Mayor Megan Sladek has two opponents, including former congressional candidate Brady Duke and former City Council member Judith Smith.

In Southwest Florida, Venice will have two City Council seats up for grabs.

— Seat 1: Council member Mitzie Fiedler faces a challenge from Joan Farrell.

— Seat 2: Dusty Dean Feller and Ron Smith compete for an open seat.

Charlotte County’s only municipality, Punta Gorda, has one race.

— District 3: Mark Kuharski and Deborah Lux will face one another.


It’s also Election Day for five Miami-Dade County municipalities. Here’s who’s running and what’s at stake.

In Miami, voters will choose between three incumbent Commissioners and 12 challengers:

— District 1: Suspended Commissioner Alex Díaz de la Portilla, former Zoning Board member Miguel Gabela, Miami-Dade administrator Mercedes “Merci” Rodriguez, Miami-Dade Hispanic Advisory Board Chair Marvin Tapia, and private investigator Francisco “Frank” Pichel.

Marvin Tapia, Francisco ‘Frank’ Pichel and Mercedes ‘Merci’ Rodriguez are coming down to the wire for Miami-Dade County District 1.

— District 2: Commissioner Sabina Covo, home restorer Michael Castro, real estate agent Gabriela Chirinos, retailer Alicia Kossick, lawyer Eddy Leal, banker and LGBTQ activist Damián Pardo, designer and consultant Christi Tasker, and telecommunications business management director James Torres.

— District 4: Commissioner Manolo Reyes and technology executive Andres Vallina.

For all elections (except where noted), candidates must receive more than 50% of the vote to win outright. If no one does so, the two biggest vote-getters will compete in a runoff.

Miami Beach will elect successors for term-limited Mayor Dan Gelber and three outgoing Commissioners.

— Mayor: Vice Mayor Steven Meiner, former Rep. Mike Grieco, former Commissioner Michael Góngora and former MTV executive Bill Roedy.

— Group 4: real estate broker Andres Asion and marketer Tanya Katzoff Bhatt.

— Group 5: hotelier Mitch Novick and marketer David Suarez.

— Group 6: finance professional Joe Magazine and art consultant Marcella Novela.

Four City Council seats are up for grabs in Homestead, one month after voters re-elected Mayor Steven Losner to a third term.

— Seat 1: veteran and private school government teacher Thomas Davis, activist and animal rights advocate Amy Spadaro, and Miami-Dade Parks marina manager James “Jim” Wyatt. This race is a Special Election. The person with the most votes will win the seat without a runoff.

— Seat 2: incumbent Council member Sean Fletcher and former Homestead City Administrator Ana San Roman.

— Seat 3: Council member Larry Roth and former Homestead Police Capt. William “Bobby” Rea.

— Seat 6: physician-turned-entrepreneur Clemente Canabal and education professional Toshiba Mitchell.

Two City Council incumbents in Hialeah are trying to fend off challenges.

— Group 1: Council President Monica Perez and first-time political candidate Elia Montes de Oca.

— Group 4: Council member Vivian Casáls-Muñoz and nurse/small-business owner Angelica Pacheco.

In Surfside, there are no candidates on the ballot. But voters will decide on five proposed charter amendments. Three would change how residents can win and remain in public office. Two others would extend to the Town Clerk the same appeals process afforded to other Surfside employees and remove spending restrictions from small-scale infrastructure projects.


It’s Election Day in Virginia, Kentucky, Mississippi and elsewhere, where outcomes will serve as bellwethers for 2024. Conservatives are making off-year elections a referendum on President Biden, while liberal candidates are running to protect abortion access and castigate those who attack it. Outcomes tonight will tell a lot. Read more here.


Another poll, another win for Donald Trump.

The University of North Florida’s Public Opinion Research Lab asked likely Republican Primary voters across the Sunshine State who they planned to vote for next year and the former President was the No. 1 pick at 60%.

Gov. Ron DeSantis, who cruised to re-election with nearly 60% of the vote last year, came in a distant second place with 21% support. He doesn’t fare much better in a head-to-head — voters still lean toward Trump 59%-29% with 12% still on the Board.

A Florida poll offers no good news for Ron DeSantis.

“Despite historically high approval in the polls, Gov. DeSantis losing steam in his home state doesn’t bode well for his national campaign,” said Dr. Michael Binder, PORL faculty director and professor of political science. “Even if you wipe out the rest of the competition in a head-to-head, Trump leads DeSantis by 20 points.”

If there’s a bright spot for DeSantis in this poll, it’s that he hasn’t lost his grip on the No. 2 spot in his home state. Despite surging elsewhere, former Amb. Nikki Haley came in at just 6% in the UNF PORL poll.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was third with 2% support followed by Vivek Ramaswamy at 1%. The fifth candidate who will be on the debate stage Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, is polling at less than 1% in Florida. About one in 12 likely Primary voters said they’re undecided.

UNF also found voters are unfazed by Trump’s ongoing legal imbroglios. More than seven in 10 voters said “he was just exercising his right to contest the election” when asked about his interference in the 2020 Election. Just 16% agree that “he went so far that he threatened American democracy.”


First in Sunburn — Equality Florida is giving DeSantis some extra TV time on Wednesday.

As the Governor prepares for the third Republican Primary Debate, the LGBTQ rights organization is launching a new ad blasting him for his policies on gay rights, higher education, abortion and more.

“Hurricanes are a part of life. But now there’s an even more destructive force,” an ad narrator says amid news clips on the six-week abortion ban he signed into law earlier this year.

“Ignoring Florida’s real problems while ripping books from school libraries, emboldening racism, targeting LGBTQ kids, censoring history. As DeSantis continues to wreak havoc, it’s time to come together and build a future that includes us all. Join us.”

Equality Florida Action said the 30-second ad, titled “DeSantis Failed Us,” will be backed by a five-figure media buy and noted that it’s dropping shortly after a Morning Consult poll found he was among the 10 least liked Governors in the U.S.

“Gov. DeSantis launched an all-out assault on the core values of freedom, equality and democracy,” Equality Florida Executive Director Nadine Smith said in a news release announcing the ad.

To watch the ad, please click the image below:


Stop by if you want to beat Anthony Sabatini:


Tweet, tweet:

@TravisAkers: My favorite line so far from the Trump trial today: NY attorney: Did you get copies of statements in 2021? Donald Trump: I was so busy in the White House with China, Russia and keeping the country … NY attorney: You were not the President in 2021.

@CostaReports: “Mr. Kise, can you control your client?” Judge to Trump’s lawyer

@NewYorkStateAG: This morning, Donald Trump resorted to bullying and name-calling; he gave rambling answers and hurled insults from the witness stand to distract from the truth. But make no mistake, he committed fraud. Numbers and facts don’t lie.

@LemieuxLGM: It’s worth remembering that many of the pundits who are supremely confident that a replacement candidate for Biden would be more popular in the heat of the campaign were also supremely confident that Ron DeSantis would present a formidable challenge to Trump


2023 Florida Chamber Mental Health Innovation Summit — 1; ‘The Marvels′ premieres — 3; Formula 1 will take over the Las Vegas Strip — 9; Ridley Scott’s ‘Napoleon’ premieres — 15; 2023 Florida Transportation, Growth & Infrastructure Solution Summit — 15; ‘Squid Game: The Challenge’ premieres — 15; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 22; Florida TaxWatch’s 2023 Government Productivity Awards Ceremony — 29; in-person sports betting begins at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa — 31; 2023 Florida Chamber Annual Insurance Summit — 37; Zack Snyder’s ‘Rebel Moon’ premieres — 45; Michael Mann’s ‘Ferrari’ premieres — 48; Matt Dixon’s ‘Swamp Monsters: Trump vs. DeSantis ― the Greatest Show on Earth (or at Least in Florida)’ released — 63; 2024 Florida Chamber Legislative Fly-In and reception — 63; Florida’s 2024 Regular Session begins — 63; 2024 Primetime Emmy Awards — 69; Florida TaxWatch’s State of the Taxpayer Dinner — 70; South Carolina Democratic Primary — 88; New Hampshire and Nevada Democratic Primaries — 91; South Carolina GOP holds first-in-the-South Primary — 109; Michigan Democratic Primary — 111; Trump’s D.C. trial on charges related to trying to reverse his 2020 Election loss — 117; Super Tuesday — 118; ‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ premieres — 121; 2024 Oscars — 125; Georgia Democratic Primary — 126; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 130; 2024 Leadership Conference on Safety, Health & Sustainability — 185; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 194; Republican National Convention begins — 248; New ‘Alien’ premieres — 252; ‘Captain America: Brave New World’ premieres — 261; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 262; Georgia Tech to face Florida State in 2024 opener in Dublin — 292; Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour stops in Miami — 336; 2024 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 348; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 409; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 465; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 544; ‘Moana’ premieres — 600; ‘Avatar 3’ premieres — 774; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 905; Untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 928; Another untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 1,141; ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,280; ‘Avatar 4’ premieres — 2,236; ‘Avatar 5’ premieres — 2,599.


GOP-controlled Legislature heeds Ron DeSantis call for Iran sanctions” via John Kennedy of USA Today Network — Florida — Florida’s Republican-controlled Legislature raced ahead to meet DeSantis’ pitch for expanding state sanctions against Iran in response to its support of Hamas, the Islamist militant and political organization behind the brutal invasion of Israel.

The move Monday opened a four-day Special Session called by legislative leaders in cooperation with DeSantis, who is seeking to highlight the state’s backing of Israel the same week as the third Republican presidential debate from Miami.

DeSantis puts out the call for more Iran Sanctions. Lawmakers are listening.

A proclamation declaring state support for Israel and money for enhanced security at Jewish day schools also advanced Monday.

The measures aimed at Iran investments cleared House and Senate Committees and broadened restrictions in place since 2007. These bar Florida from investing or doing business with companies linked to Iran in petroleum and energy, mining, power production and military support.

Under the new legislation, these “scrutinized companies” would be broadened to other areas, including finance, construction, manufacturing and ports, under the legislation.

But the sponsor of the House proposal, Rep. John Snyder, couldn’t predict what effect the sanction expansion would have on the state’s $241 billion in assets under management with the State Board of Administration, mainly in the Florida Retirement System, the state’s pension fund.


Kim Reynolds delivers much-anticipated DeSantis endorsement” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Iowa Gov. Reynolds boosted the campaign of DeSantis on Monday, delivering a coveted endorsement for DeSantis during a rally in Des Moines. The endorsement represents the culmination of a DeSantis effort months in the making and a potential lifeline for a campaign that suddenly finds itself in mortal combat with that of Haley, who is tied with DeSantis in that same poll. “If we don’t choose right, we are not going to get this country back,” Reynolds said, adding that America needs a President who “puts this country first and not himself.” “That leader is Ron DeSantis,” Reynolds said.

Kim Reynolds throws Ron DeSantis a lifeline.

Looking at the voter impacts of Reynolds’ endorsement of DeSantis” via Emma’le Maas of KWWL — Political Analyst Dr. Chris Larimer says this move is historic — for many different reasons. “We do not typically see our Governors or even really our U.S. Senators reach out and make an endorsement in the race, in part because they want to keep it open, they want candidates to feel welcome to the state,” he said, adding, “they want candidates to visit the state early and often — so an endorsement would potentially take away from some of that activity — it may not, but that’s typically been why we haven’t seen Governors or even U.S. Senators do this.”

Reynolds says Donald Trump can’t win in 2024 as she endorses DeSantis” via Alex Tabet, Alec Hernández, Dasha Burns and Bianca Seward of NBC News — “I believe he can’t win,” Reynolds said of Trump, “and I believe that Ron can. “And that’s a big reason I got behind him,” Reynolds said in a joint interview with DeSantis. Reynolds, who is in her second term, had said she would stay neutral in the Republican Primary, though she appeared with DeSantis at least eight times since he announced his candidacy in late May. But she is breaking with local tradition to throw her support behind DeSantis as he tries to consolidate non-Trump Republicans and close the polling gap with the former President in Iowa and other states.

Trump ridicules ‘disloyal’ Reynolds” via Brianne Pfannenstiel of the Des Moines Register — Trump lashed out at Reynolds on social media Sunday, saying her pending endorsement of DeSantis will be “the end of her political career.” “If and when Kim Reynolds of Iowa endorses Ron DeSanctimonious, who is absolutely dying in the polls both in Iowa and Nationwide, it will be the end of her political career in that MAGA would never support her again, just as MAGA will never support DeSanctimonious again,” Trump said, unleashing a string of vituperative Truth Social posts. “Two extremely disloyal people getting together is, however, a very beautiful thing to watch. They can now remain loyal to each other because nobody else wants them!!!” Reynolds is set to formally endorse DeSantis at a Monday rally in Des Moines.

Another Iowa poll shows DeSantis nearly 30 points behind Trump” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — A fresh poll of 1,084 likely Iowa caucus participants shows Trump with more support than the next three candidates combined. In the Trafalgar Group survey conducted between Nov. 3-5, Trump’s 44% support is more than the aggregate backing for DeSantis (18%), Haley (15%) and Scott (9%). The survey began before news leaked that Reynolds would endorse DeSantis, who has long sought her support, during a rally in the Hawkeye State Monday night. But the final day the poll was in the field overlapped with that news breaking. The new survey effectively corroborates the read from recent previous polls of the state.

Nikki Haley says DeSantis ‘has no end game’ to be GOP’s 2024 candidate” via Rachel Schilke of The Washington Examiner — Haley believes there is no path for DeSantis to become the Republican nominee for President in 2024, as she is beating the Governor in key battleground states and is neck-and-neck with him in others. Haley’s strategy to defeat DeSantis on the Primary debate stage on Wednesday focuses heavily on his inability to win the necessary votes in states such as South Carolina or New Hampshire where, behind Trump, Haley is steadily in second place. Haley’s campaign manager, Betsy Ankney, argued that her candidate was the only “viable” Trump alternative.

What DeSantis doesn’t seem to understand about Ronald Reagan” via Henry Olsen of The Washington Post — DeSantis tells Republican voters that “the 2024 Election is a time for choosing.” Yet, DeSantis has not asked them to make the only choice that matters: the one between him and Trump. The phrase “a time for choosing” has a hallowed history. It was the name of a televised 1964 speech Reagan gave on behalf of Barry Goldwater, and it catapulted the future President to political stardom. Reagan thrilled millions with his clear delineation between the paths America could take: “There’s only an up or down: up to man’s age-old dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order — or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism.”

Tim Scott campaign attacks Haley and DeSantis for ties to Trump in new memo” via Mabinty Quarshie of The Washington Examiner — Scott’s campaign released a new memo just two days before the third GOP primary debate on Wednesday denouncing two of his 2024 rivals for their lack of conservative principles and ability to defeat Trump for the nomination. Jennifer DeCasper, Scott’s campaign manager, predicted Haley and DeSantis “will devolve into a slugfest” during the Wednesday night debate in the memo released on Monday.

Tim Scott blasts both Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis for their ties to Donald Trump.

Haley and DeSantis potent challengers to Joe Biden in swing states, poll shows — as it happened” via Chris Stein of The Guardian — Democrats are grappling with a New York Times/Siena College poll released over the weekend that showed Biden trailing Trump in five of the six swing states that will be crucial to deciding next year’s election. Worse still, it showed DeSantis and Haley, two Republicans whom polls show are less popular with the party’s voters than Trump, also beating the President in a General Election matchup. David Axelrod, an ex-Barack Obama adviser, said the survey should give the President pause, while Dan Pfeiffer, also formerly of the Obama White House, believes the Democrats still have a path to victory.

DeSantis qualifies to be on the GOP presidential ballot in Alabama” via Mike Cason of — Alabama now has three presidential candidates on the ballot for the Republican Primary on March 5. On Monday, former Alabama Republican Party Chair Terry Lathan turned in the signed petition needed to put DeSantis on the ballot. Lathan is Chair of the DeSantis campaign in Alabama. “Although our party has some really great folks that are running for President, we need someone who is a statesman in the Oval Office but is also a warrior that runs toward problems and doesn’t wait until they happen and try to put fires out,” Lathan said. “And Ron DeSantis has truly done that. We’ve seen that in his own actions.”

— MORE 2024 —

—“Bettors back Trump as favorite to win White House for first time this cycle” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics

The third Republican debate could be brutal” via Ed Kilgore of New York Magazine — The third Republican debate in Miami on Nov. 8 probably won’t draw as many eyeballs as the last, and the stage will be less crowded. But what it lacks in quantity of speakers and listeners it may make up for in drama and conflict. As the voting phase of the GOP Primary approaches, candidates other than Trump are hanging onto viability by their fingernails and really need to do something to help themselves and damage the others. This is a group of candidates with little or nothing to lose, each of them desperately trying to become the one that challenges the front-runner. Once again, the RNC’s refusal to tell the world which polls it considers kosher creates confusion and anger. But clearly, the Miami stage needs Scott present to achieve its dysfunctional potential.

The Miami debate will be brutal.

Traffic, tickets and more: What to know about the Republican Miami debate, Trump rally” via Alyssa Johnson of the Miami Herald — Miami-Dade County will be the center of Republican politics on Wednesday, with the third Republican debate of the 2024 Presidential Election season and a rally put on by Trump happening within an hour of each other on opposite sides of the county. The debate will be held near downtown Miami. Trump, the front-runner for the Republican nomination, has not appeared at any of the Republican debates thus far and once again will be missing from the debate stage. This time, he’s decided to host a rally in Hialeah.

Is the battle for Florida lawmakers’ support swinging from DeSantis to Trump?” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The hope from DeSantis’ team for months has been that as the campaign progressed, DeSantis would pick off endorsements from Trump. But the story looming over the candidates’ Saturday appearance in Florida was the host of DeSantis supporters transferring allegiance to Trump. Several state lawmakers joined Trump as he spoke at the Freedom Summit. Some had previously backed the President, like Sen. Ileana Garcia and Rep. Juan Porras. Rep. Randy Fine drew national attention last month when he blamed DeSantis’ inaction for rising antisemitism in the state and switched his support from the Governor to the former President. But the bulk of lawmakers onstage had announced their support for Trump the day of the event, the first time both men appeared on the same day since each declared candidacy for the Republican nomination for President.

Haley offers an alternate reality” via Elaine Godfrey of The Atlantic — Haley’s support has been ticking up steadily for weeks. New polling shows her at nearly 20% support in New Hampshire, up more than a dozen points since August, knocking DeSantis out of second place. She also leads DeSantis in her home state of South Carolina. In Iowa, Haley’s support has grown to double digits, putting her in third. Haley is not exactly gaining on Trump. In all three states, he’s leading the pack by roughly 30 points. She’s seeking to build a coalition of Never Trump Republicans who’d really rather not pull the lever for Biden and onetime Trump voters who now find him tiresome. She also seems to appeal to the types of Americans the GOP needs to win in a General Election: the college-educated, women, suburbanites.

Meanwhile … Chief Financial Officer says state should provide public funding to Trump amid legal battles” via Eva Surovell and Marc Caputo of The Messenger — Jimmy Patronis on Monday suggested Florida provide state funding to Trump as he faces legal battles in several states, including Florida. Patronis claimed the Justice Department is “after” Trump in a post on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. “Are we really going to deny one of our own a fair shot against a witch hunt?” Patronis wrote. “We didn’t start this.” Melissa Stone, a Patronis adviser, said the call isn’t limited to Trump because Democrats want to gun for DeSantis as well. “It’s for any Florida presidential candidate. Even DeSantis has said the federal government may come for him next,” she said.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders to endorse Trump in debate counterprogramming” via Alex Isenstadt of POLITICO — Sanders is set to endorse her one-time boss, Trump, later this week, Sanders’ office confirmed. Sanders’ endorsement will come at a rally in Hialeah on Wednesday night meant to serve as a counterprogramming event for the GOP Primary Debate taking place that same evening. Trump, for the third time, is skipping participation in the debate. There had been angst in Trumpworld over the fact that Sanders had declined to endorse in the Primary up until this point. People close to the ex-President felt that he had helped catapult her politically by tapping her to be his White House press secretary and then endorsing her 2022 run for Governor. Her ongoing neutrality has rankled Trump, who in the months since has racked up endorsements from a handful of other sitting Governors.

Inside the courtroom at Trump’s fraud trial” via Nicole Hong and Jonah E. Bromwich of The New York Times — Trump began his testimony Monday before a packed Manhattan courtroom filled with onlookers. They had come to witness the spectacle of a former U.S. President taking the witness stand at trial to defend his family business and his reputation as a real estate mogul. Before the civil trial even began, the judge in the case, Justice Arthur Engoron, ruled that Trump had fraudulently misvalued his properties for years and revoked his licenses to operate those in New York — a ruling that has been appealed. New York’s attorney general is asking that the judge impose a $250 million penalty and that the former President be permanently barred from running a business in the state.

Donald Trump testifies; chaos ensues.

Trump assails Judge and concedes a role in valuing his empire’s property” via Jonah E. Bromwich and Ben Protess of The New York Times — He was belligerent and brash, unrepentant and verbose — regardless of the courtroom setting, he was the quintessential Trump. Within minutes of Trump’s taking the witness stand on Monday, his civil fraud trial in Manhattan devolved into a chaotic spectacle before a packed house. Trump lashed out at his accusers and denied their claims, even while conceding involvement in some of the conduct at the case’s heart. Ranting and rambling as the courtroom pulsed with tension, Trump attacked New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, as a “political hack.” He derided the proceeding as “a very unfair trial.” And he scolded the judge overseeing the case, Engoron, for having decided before the trial that he had committed fraud. “He called me a fraud, and he didn’t know anything about me!” Trump exclaimed from the stand, pointing at the judge, who flashed a grin.

Trump tangles with judge, complains of treatment at New York fraud trial” via Luc Cohen and Jack Queen of Reuters — Under questioning about his company’s accounting practices, the former U.S. President clearly aggravated Engoron, who is weighing whether to impose hundreds of millions of dollars in fines and other penalties that could hobble the real estate empire that vaulted Trump to prominence. Engoron warned Trump that he might remove him from the witness stand if he did not answer questions directly. “Can you control your client?” Engoron asked Trump’s lawyer, Christopher Kise. “This is not a political rally. This is a courtroom.” Trump’s testimony wrapped up in midafternoon. His daughter Ivanka is due to testify on Wednesday, though she is not a defendant in the case.

‘I’m not a windmill person’: Trump takes the witness stand and doesn’t break character” via Erica Orden of POLITICO — Testimony by Trump in a civil fraud trial Monday quickly descended into bitter sniping as Trump’s discursive answers and outbursts prompted the judge to repeatedly admonish him. During his four hours on the witness stand, Trump lost his temper and attacked the judge, railing against the person who will decide the fate of his business empire and suggesting one of his pretrial rulings was “very stupid.” Trump continually flouted the judge’s instructions to provide succinct and direct answers to questions, instead offering much of the political animus Trump typically deploys on the campaign trail.


Morale down, cronyism up after DeSantis takeover of Disney World government, ex-employees say” via Mike Schneider of The Associated Press — More than 40 out of about 370 employees have left the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District since it was taken over in February, raising concerns that decades of institutional knowledge is departing with them, along with a reputation for a well-run government. With the departure of so many district employees in such a short period of time, the district is “no longer functional,” a facilities director who left last month wrote in her exit survey. An environmental biologist who departed the district in September after 35 years said the DeSantis allies on the Board had “negatively changed my experience with top leadership, the work culture, trust, and given me a good reason to retire.”

The new Disney district is struggling with poor management.


Senate moves on bills to expand special needs students’ vouchers, hurricane recovery grants” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — Hours after convening a Special Session, a Senate panel approved two measures aimed at addressing a waitlist for private school vouchers for special needs students and to boost hurricane recovery programs in Panhandle areas affected by Hurricane Idalia. The Senate Fiscal Policy Committee unanimously approved the bills (SB 4C and SB 2C), but not completely without controversy. SB 4C removes the cap on vouchers for special needs students in the Family Empowerment Scholarship for Students with Unique Abilities program, which currently stands at 40,930. The move is an attempt to accommodate the 8,839 students on the waitlist who can’t access the vouchers.

Senate Committee resolves to support Israel and ‘not to remain silent’” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — A resolution that Florida stands with Israel and legislation that discourages Florida companies from business dealings with Iranian companies will head to the Senate floor after getting unanimous approval in Committee. Sen. Lori Berman’s resolution (SR 8-C) that Florida stands with Israel in the face of the Oct. 7 Hamas massacre won unanimous approval — and bipartisan praise — at Monday’s Senate Rules Committee hearing as a Special Session opened. “We all stand behind you,” said Sen. Debbie Mayfield, thanking Berman for her swift action in drafting the resolution.

Lori Berman refuses to stay silent on Israel.

Holocaust survivor recounts horrors of his childhood as Senate Committee approves security grants” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — A Senate Committee unanimously approved $45 million to boost security for the Jewish community after hearing from a Holocaust survivor who recalled watching Nazis gun down his mother and two sisters. Miami-area Republican Sen. Alexis Calatayud’s bill (SB 6-C) would dedicate the money to Jewish schools’ security, along with museums, community centers and other institutions that face the threat of violent attack. It now heads to the full Senate floor. Brevard County Rep. Fine has filed identical legislation (HB 7-C) that goes before the House Appropriations Committee later today. Holocaust survivor David Schaecter of Miami, who was imprisoned at the concentration camps Auschwitz and Buchenwald, said he was there to make sure the phrase “Never Again” really does have meaning.

—“House Committee tees up Special Session bills for passage” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics

Lawmakers add $45M to boost security at Jewish facilities, organizations at ‘high risk for violent attack’” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — A House Committee added $10 million to a $35 million bill that will bolster security for the Jewish community and add resources for organizations under an elevated risk of attack, such as Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The approval of the legislation (HB 7-C) followed testimony about threats and harassment the Jewish community has endured. They’ve been seeing them with increased frequency since the outbreak of violence that began in Israel with a surprise Hamas attack on Oct. 7. “We live in the scariest time in the history of most Jews who live in Florida today,” said Fine. The bill now heads to the full House floor.

GOP-controlled Legislature rejects bills on affordable housing, property insurance, Medicaid expansion” via Jeffrey Schweers of the Orlando Sentinel — The Republican-controlled House rejected one last time an attempt by Democrats to expand this week’s Special Session to include bills addressing rising housing costs, the property insurance crisis, expanding Medicare for children and curbing gun violence. At the request of DeSantis, the Legislature called a Special Session to address support for Israel, provide money to boost security at Jewish day schools in Florida and take further punitive measures against companies doing business with Iran. Tacked onto his requests are property tax breaks and other measures to aid the rural farm communities struck by Hurricane Idalia, increasing the amount of funding for the My Florida Safe Home program, and expanding the state voucher program to include more children with disabilities.

Legislative sked

— 8:30 a.m. The Senate Military and Veterans Affairs, Space and Domestic Security Committee meets for an update from Veterans Florida and the Florida Veterans Foundation. Room 301, Senate Office Building.

— 9:30 a.m. The Senate Ethics and Elections Committee will hold confirmation hearings for appointees to numerous Boards, including Trustees of Florida SouthWestern State College, The College of the Florida Keys, Florida Gateway College, Pasco-Hernando State College and Polk State College. Room 110, Senate Office Building.

— 10 a.m. The House convenes for a floor Session as part of a Special Legislative Session on a series of issues, including bolstering state sanctions against Iran and providing additional assistance to people affected by Hurricane Idalia. House Chamber.

— 10:45 a.m. The Senate Community Affairs Committee meets for an update on the Florida Housing Finance Corp. “Live Local Act,” a law passed this year to try to boost workforce housing. Room 401, Senate Office Building.

— 1:30 p.m. Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson gives a speech to the Senate Agriculture Committee. Room 301, Senate Office Building.

1:30 p.m. The Senate Special Order Calendar Group meets to set the special-order calendar, which lists bills that will be heard on the Senate floor. Room 401, Senate Office Building.

— 3:30 p.m. The House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee meets for an update from the Department of Education about a series of programs. Room 314, House Office Building.

— 3:30 p.m. The House Justice Appropriations Subcommittee meets for an update on budget requests, including for the state courts system, the attorney general’s office, state attorneys and public defenders. Morris Hall, House Office Building.

— 3:45 p.m. The Senate Education Pre-K-12 Committee meets for an update on recommendations to reduce regulations on public schools. Room 412, Knott Building.


Biden admin notified Congress of plan to transfer $320M worth of precision bombs to Israel” via Kyle Morris, Jacqui Heinrich, and Aishah Hasnie of Fox News — Biden’s administration has informed Congress that it’s planning a $320 million transfer of precision bombs for Israel. Following reports on the effort, two sources confirmed to Fox News that a formal notification was sent from the Biden administration to congressional leaders about the planned transfer of Spice Family Gliding Bomb Assemblies — a type of precision-guided weapons fired by warplanes — to Israel. A Senate source familiar with the initiative confirmed that the notification from the Biden administration had been received, with another source confirming that the notification was sent on Oct. 31.

Joe Biden gives Congress a heads up on a deal to provide hardware to Israel.

In Israeli-Palestinian battle to sway Congress, only one side wins” via Abigail Hauslohner of The Washington Post — The Congressman was more sympathetic, more supportive of Israel than either lobbyist had expected. He affirmed every point they made that Hamas is the personification of evil, that the release of hostages must be prioritized, and that the United States must not be distracted by rising Palestinian civilian casualties. “You can count on Congress to be a friend,” Rep. Ritchie Torres, a 35-year-old Democrat from the Bronx, told his guests. “You can count on me to be a friend.” Dona Raz Levy had flown from Tel Aviv to Washington to petition lawmakers on behalf of the more than 200 people who remain captives in Gaza. It was a mission with urgency, and she was pleased by Torres’s commitment. “That’s exactly it,” she responded. “You understood everything.”

Debbie Wasserman Schultz condemns congressional colleague’s ‘river to the sea’ comment about Israel and Jews” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Wasserman Schultz condemned U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s use of a “phrase (that) means eradicating Israel and Jews.” Wasserman Schultz, of Weston, is the first Jewish woman from Florida elected to Congress. Tlaib, from Michigan, is the first Palestinian American woman to serve in Congress. Both are Democrats. Tlaib has a history of comments about Israel that have been widely condemned by many of her colleagues, including Jewish Democrats from South Florida, over the years. She is a member of the Squad, a small group of outspoken progressive Democrats in Congress who espouse far-left policies. Her latest missive was launched Friday on social media.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz slams Rashida Tlaib’s use of a well-known colloquialism.

Democrats in Congress weigh calls for cease-fire amid pressure from the left” via Karoun Demirjian of The New York Times — Few have embraced progressive Democrats’ demands for a complete and lasting cease-fire, even as pro-Palestinian protesters took to the streets over the weekend to demand a total cessation of hostilities. Most Democrats, including some of Congress’s most influential liberal leaders, have argued that a full cease-fire would give Hamas time to regroup and launch another assault on Israel. You’ve got to have a pause in the bombing. You’ve got to take care of the immediate disaster. Israel’s got to change its strategy,” Sen. Bernie Sanders said. I don’t know how you can have a cease-fire — permanent cease-fire — with an organization like Hamas, which is dedicated to turmoil and chaos and destroying the state of Israel.”

U.S. Congress is on track to be the most polarized ever, data shows” via Jason Lange of Reuters — The current U.S. Congress is on track to be the most polarized ever, according to a running analysis at, a tool widely used by political scientists that sorts lawmakers based on how their voting records overlap with their peers. The complicated math behind the analysis transforms a lawmaker’s entire voting record into one number, with negative numbers for liberals and positive readings for conservatives. The most liberal have the least in common with the most conservative, while moderates from each party have more overlap and are given scores in between.

Shutdown deadline poses test for Congress: Is compromise possible?” via David Morgan and Jason Lange of Reuters — As the U.S. Congress eyes another looming partial government shutdown deadline in less than two weeks, it also faces a question: Whether lawmakers and particularly a small but powerful band of hard-line Republicans, are capable of compromise. House of Representatives Republicans say their slim 221-212 majority will spend the coming week trying to pass full-year spending bills that have no chance of clearing the Democratic-majority Senate, even as jitters about the Nov. 17 shutdown deadline spread among their own members.

Loophole in U.S. customs law contributing to fentanyl deaths” via Michael Stumo of The Hill — Last year, more than 73,000 Americans died from an overdose of the synthetic opioid fentanyl. The drug itself is cheap and readily available, with thousands of pounds flowing into the United States from Mexico every month. In fact, fentanyl seizures at the U.S.-Mexico border increased 164% between 2020 and 2022 alone. Even more disturbing is that Americans can now have high-potency fentanyl shipped straight to their front door. That’s because a loophole in U.S. customs law known as “de minimis” enables literally millions of small international mail packages to reach U.S. consumers each day. Included in this flood of shipments are fentanyl packages that completely bypass federal scrutiny.


Rishi Bagga, Marucci Guzmán, Tom Keen compete for Dem nod in HD 35” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Democrats in Central Florida on Tuesday decide who will serve as the party’s nominee in a critical Special Election. Bagga, Guzmán and Keen have spent months debating who deserves the nomination of the party in House District 35 — and who does not. Bagga won the nomination in 2022 by a mere 57 votes over Keen and went on to lose the General Election to incumbent Rep. Hawkins, a St. Cloud Republican. Both jumped at the chance to run again when Hawkins resigned his seat to become President of South Florida State College.

Rishi Bagga, Tom Keen and Marucci Guzman are the Democrats seeking the HD 35 seat.

Erika Booth, Ken Davenport, Scotty Moore duke it out in HD 35 GOP Primary” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Heading into next year, Republicans want to keep every seat in their historic legislative supermajorities. That means holding House District 35, where Booth, Davenport and Moore vie Tuesday for the Republican nomination in a Special Election. All are running to succeed Rep. Hawkins. The fight to choose a nominee, though, has been a messy affair involving unusual political committee activity and a fight on ballot access in the courts. Booth, an Osceola County School Board member, enjoys support in Tallahassee. The St. Cloud Republican announced her candidacy with the backing of the Florida House Republican Campaign Committee and Speaker-designate Daniel Perez.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

5 Miami-Dade cities have elections Tuesday. See if yours is one, and how to vote” via Tess Riski of the Miami Herald — Tuesday is Election Day for five Miami-Dade cities. If you’re unsure who’s on the ballot, where to vote or when, this guide is for you. Three incumbents face challengers in Miami City Commission races. Díaz de la Portilla, who is vying for a second term on the Commission, was arrested in September on corruption charges. Days later, DeSantis suspended him from office. The suspension remains in effect. Sabina Covo was elected to a shortened term in a Special Election earlier this year to replace Commissioner Ken Russell, who resigned to run for Congress last year.

After an abbreviated term, Sabina Covo is again on the ballot in Miami.

Miami Commissioner Manolo Reyes has been diagnosed with cancer, runs for re-election” via Joey Flechas of the Miami Herald — Reyes has been diagnosed with leukemia and is undergoing treatment. Reyes, 79, confirmed his diagnosis with the Miami Herald. He said he told his staff, other City Commissioners, and the City Manager in recent days. He has been working from home while handling city business and participating in Commission meetings through video calls while running for re-election to represent District 4. In an interview, he said he is responding very well to the treatment, his levels are improving, and he is “feeling much better.” “I feel strong,” he said. “I’m feeling good.” Reyes has been working from home since September after falling ill and being advised by his doctor.

This county could create the strictest workplace heat rules in the U.S.” via Nicolás Rivero of The Washington Post — Miami-Dade County Commissioners will decide whether to establish the first county-level workplace heat protections in the United States, a test of whether local governments can protect workers from increasingly dangerous temperatures in the absence of federal rules. As climate change ratchets up global temperatures, most of the roughly 32 million people who work outdoors in the U.S. are not protected by any workplace heat safety regulations. OSHA has published voluntary guidelines on heat safety, but these are not enforceable. Only three states — California, Washington and Oregon — require companies to give outdoor workers breaks to cool down on hot days. No states in the South, where workplace heat deaths are most common, have created their own heat safety rules.

2 Palm Beach County school employees did armed ‘guardian’ training. Will there be more?” via Katherine Kokal of the Palm Beach Post — Palm Beach County’s school district may have sent two employees through the training to become armed “guardians” on campus, but they’re no closer to giving teachers or administrators guns, according to Superintendent Mike Burke. Burke said the district sent two employees through the 180-hour training program this Summer. One was an unnamed assistant principal, and the other was Ed Tierney, deputy superintendent and chief of schools. Burke said while he was “impressed” by the firearms training, the School Board hasn’t endorsed arming teachers or school staff. “We don’t have a plan to expand and start adding guardians to our schools,” Burke said at a workshop with Palm Beach County’s legislative delegation.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

Mayors are on the ballot in Orlando, Oviedo in Tuesday’s elections” via Martin E. Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — Voters in the tri-county area will head to the polls Tuesday to elect Mayors, Council and Commission members. In Seminole County, Oviedo’s rapid growth, along with the ensuing traffic congestion, are among the top issues in the campaigns of the three candidates vying for the Mayor’s seat. Oviedo Mayor Megan Sladek, who is seeking a third term, faces opposition from former Council member Judith Dolores Smith and former congressional candidate Brady Duke. In Lake Mary, voters will cast ballots for either current Commissioner George Duryea — one of the longest-serving elected officials in Florida — or his challenger Kristina Renteria, an accountant for a seat on the five-member Commission.

Megan Sladek seeks a third term as Oviedo Mayor.


Tampa Bay area voters to weigh in on municipal elections Tuesday” via Rachel Tucker of WFLA — There are no federal or Florida statewide races this Election Day, but voters in several Tampa Bay area cities have the opportunity to weigh in on local races. Those who live within the city limits of Tarpon Springs will vote on a referendum concerning the purchase of property near the Sponge Docks. Voters will respond “yes” or “no” to the following: “The City proposes to purchase vacant undeveloped parcels of land totaling 1.91 acres fronting Roosevelt Boulevard, Hill Street, and Cross Street from Santorini Developers LLC for $1.8 million for the purpose of preservation, parkland, event space, parking, and civic uses. Shall this purchase be approved?” The City of Seminole election was canceled due to all candidates running unopposed.

Hundreds gather in St. Petersburg for pro-Israel rally” via Melissa Eichman of Bay News 9 — As demonstrations for both Israel and Palestine continue across the U.S., hundreds of people filled North Straub Park in St. Petersburg on Sunday for a Stand with Israel rally. Members of the Bless Israel USA organization say it’s important to present a positive message to pray for peace. “When missiles keep coming into your city and your town just with no aim, just hitting whatever it hits it’s very difficult to feel that is the way people should live,” said Rabbi Steve Weiler, who serves on the Board of Directors for Bless Israel USA. People prayed together in the park, standing with Israel through songs about unity. “We want peace but not at the cost of being subject to terrorism,” said Rabbi Weiler.

St. Petersburg takes a firm stand behind Israel.

Albert Whitted Airport group amplifies impact, support” via Veronica Brezina of the St. Pete Catalyst — St. Petersburg’s Albert Whitted Airport, located along the edge of downtown overlooking the waterfront, is recognized as the birthplace of scheduled commercial aviation and once served as a military air base — a rich history tied to the site that advocates don’t want to see erased with the rise of new development. “We believe St. Pete is a better city because of Albert Whitted Airport. It’s been part of our waterfront and used for aviation since 1917 — it’s in our city’s DNA. People move here because of the airport,” AWA Advisory Committee member Walt Driggers said during a Nov. 1 Friends of Albert Whitted Airport meeting. Seven St. Petersburg City Council members, charter pilots, and flight school instructors gathered inside a hangar to hear the latest updates on how the public airport benefits the community after Mayor Ken Welch’s proposal to evaluate potential non-aviation uses at the 100-acre-plus site. To further educate the general public about the airport’s role as an economic engine, the advocacy group is creating a documentary featuring the city’s past Mayors, including Bill Foster and Rick Kriseman, who support Albert Whitted’s future. Driggers said the FOAWP team is collaborating with the St. Petersburg Museum of History for the project.

St. Pete City to offer new affordable housing tax exemptions” via Veronica Brezina of the St. Pete Catalyst — The City of St. Petersburg will be the first in the county to leverage a new tax abatement program to promote the construction and longevity of affordable housing developments. The newly passed Live Local Act, Senate Bill 102 allows affordable housing in otherwise impermissible areas. It also grants several local tax exemptions, including nonprofit-owned land used for affordable housing with a 99-year ground lease and the “missing middle” property. Amy Foster, the City’s housing and community development administrator, and her team crafted an ordinance focusing on the local tax exemptions, which will be available for properties with 50 or more housing units that have at least 20% earmarked for residents earning at or below 60% of the area median income. The City of Jacksonville, she noted, implemented a similar exemption process. If all units are affordable in a St. Pete housing project, the developer can receive a 100% tax exemption. If there are less than 100 affordable units, the developer may still benefit from a tax exemption capped at 75%.

HART Board votes on interim CEO’s permanent contract” via Pam Huff of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — The Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority Board has unanimously approved a full-time contract for Interim CEO Scott Drainville, making him the new permanent leader. His base salary will be $245,000. Drainville has been interim CEO for over seven months; he previously was chief of maintenance and transportation. During the public comment portion of the meeting on Monday, Latisha Jones, a HART operator and the president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1593, voiced her support of Drainville’s performance in the interim position. “ATU and the employees of HART believe this Board now listens to the community, the patrons we drive, and the employees we look over,” Jones said. “If we give our scheduling and Mr. Drainville some time, I think we will be called what everybody’s been looking for us to be called: mass transit.”

HART is all-in on Scott Drainville as its new permanent CEO. Image via Facebook.

Real estate attorney Ron Weaver to retire” via Ashley Gurbal Kritzer of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — Weaver’s legal work has shaped the growth of Tampa Bay at a level few others can claim: Over the last 50 years, he’s been at the table for the development and acquisition of more than $6 billion in Florida properties. Regardless of the deal, though, Weaver always comes back to one thing: people. When he worked on developing a mixed-use community like Heritage Springs in Trinity, he thought about the people who would eventually live there. He’s been a longtime advocate for affordable housing and mass transit, thinking of disabled people or those who can’t afford cars and how they navigate the region. At the end of 2023, Weaver will retire from Stearns Weaver Miller, but he’ll still be a community fixture. He plans to teach courses on Vladimir Putin, Robert Oppenheimer and Samuel Adams at the University of South Florida’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. He’ll still be a mainstay at business networking events — at least when he’s not traveling with his wife, Jackie.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

Former Jacksonville mayoral candidate ready for City Council vote to become CFO” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — In the latest illustration of political recurrence in Jacksonville, a former City Council President and 2019 mayoral candidate is just one vote and eight days away from confirmation as the city’s Chief Financial Officer. Anna Lopez Brosche, who lost her mayoral challenge to Lenny Curry four years ago, cleared the Rules Committee on Monday by 5-0 vote, setting the stage for a vote by the full Council on Nov. 14. If the nomination of Brosche clears the full Council, she will have succeeded where previous nominations of former Republican City Council members to major posts by Democratic Mayor Donna Deegan have failed.

Anna Lopez Brosche inches closer to becoming Jacksonville’s CFO.

Plans for UF graduate campus moving forward, possibly getting bigger, Mayor Donna Deegan says” via Hanna Holthaus of The Florida Times-Union — Plans for the University of Florida Jacksonville graduate campus is moving forward — and possibly expanding. Mayor Deegan met with UF President Ben Sasse over the Florida-Georgia football weekend and came away with a positive impression. “They’re very excited about the campus,” Deegan said. “In fact, it sounds like plans for that campus are actually getting bigger. So, I’m excited to move forward with it.” UF announced their intent for a Jacksonville campus focused on medicine, technology and engineering in February before Deegan entered office. In the months since the City Council approved $20 million in spending for the campus — part of a $50 million allotment over three years.

Panic in the plaza: New videos show chaos of stampede at UF peace vigil, reveal police secretly investigating suicide-bomb threat” via Fresh Take Florida — The first substantial videos to emerge from a panicked stampede at the University of Florida during a nighttime vigil for Israelis killed in the Hamas attacks show waves of terrified students sprinting out of their shoes, discarding phones and water bottles and colliding with startled and confused police officers who had drawn their pistols searching for a possible gunman through the melee. Lt. Scott J. Silver and Capt. Kristy Sasser raced downstairs from a balcony overlooking the scene last month where they had been watching. Silver shouted into his radio: “Get me traffic right now!” As he reached the plaza, advancing with his pistol drawn, he yelled, “Down, everyone down, get out of the way!” Some students continued running past; others crouched behind landscaping walls or brick tablelike structures in the university’s Turlington Plaza.

To watch the video, please click the image below:

Koch Industries is laying off hundreds in a hurricane-stricken community. Florida might give the company a tax break anyway.” via Jason Garcia of Seeking Rents — It’s a devastating blow to Taylor County, a timber-dependent community with a shrinking population of fewer than 22,000 people where one in five families live in poverty. A report by the University of Florida estimates the Foley mill closure will lead to the loss of approximately 2,000 jobs in total, including the truckers and loggers who supply the mill with slash pine. And now Florida might hand a farewell tax break to the fleeing company — which is part of Koch Industries, the global conglomerate led by billionaire Republican donor Charles Koch. The potential tax break for Koch Industries is included in a roughly $420 million hurricane aid package that Florida’s Republican-controlled state Legislature is expected to approve this week during a four-day Special Session in Tallahassee.

North Florida TPO seeks opinions on long-range transportation plans” via Wes Wolfe of the Jacksonville Business Journal — The future of transportation in Northeast Florida is partially up to what local residents provide the North Florida Transportation Planning Organization in a five-minute survey that’s presently active and available online. Local leaders will use those answers to develop the latest five-year update to the TPO’s long-range plan called the 2050 Path Forward. “Do residents want more roads, transit, bicycle and/or pedestrian facilities, freight, safety or technology projects?” said Marci Larson, public affairs manager for the TPO and co-director of the North Florida Clean Fuels Initiative. The TPO is reaching out to its partners, its three committees, the news media, and directly to local residents to drive engagement and generate opinions on how to best improve transportation in Duval, Clay, Nassau and St. Johns counties.

Planned 607-home East Milton subdivision offers creative solution for Santa Rosa sewage woes” via Tom McLaughlin of the Pensacola News Journal — A development company looking to build a large subdivision off Baxley Road in East Milton has offered to install and maintain a sewage system of its own as an alternative to putting hundreds more septic tanks into the ground in a county already inundated with septic tanks. The offer was rare enough that County Commissioner Kerry Smith commended Chloe Kelly, a representative of Alabama-based 68 Ventures, for making the proposal. “If we’re going to get away from these septics, we need to start being creative, and this is a step in that direction,” Smith said. “I think it’s a great precedent you’re willing to set here.” Becky Cato, representing the developer before the Board at a September zoning meeting, told members that 68 Ventures had proposed two methods for treating sewage as alternatives to septic tanks.


Mayor Teresa Heitmann announces re-election campaign in Naples in race that’s heating up” via Laura Layden of the Naples Daily News — As Mayor of Naples, Heitmann has faced more than the usual challenges that come with such a high-profile job. Among them are the COVID-19 pandemic and Hurricane Ian. While it’s been tough, she’s ready for more, with intentions of rolling up her sleeves and serving out a second term. Heitmann, 60, officially announced her re-election campaign for 2024 at City Hall with a group of more than 50 supporters by her side. Her goals remain much the same: To focus on environmental initiatives, budgets aligned with resident priorities, managed growth, and preservation of Naples’ small-town character. The city will hold a General Election on Tuesday, March 19 (the same day as the Florida Presidential Primary).

Incumbent Teresa Heitmann is ready to jump into a heated race for re-election.

North Port Commission moves forward on moratorium on Live Local Act housing approvals” via Earle Kimel of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The city of North Port plans to pursue a 12-month moratorium on approval of affordable housing proposals submitted under Florida’s new Live Local Act, in part because Commissioners fear that would further hamper efforts to grow the city’s commercial tax base. On a 3-2 vote, the City Commission directed the City Manager and his staff to develop a moratorium ordinance. In July, the Commission opted against offering financial support to two potential affordable developments proposed to be built under terms of the Live Local Act, which allow them to exceed normal limits on the number of housing units allowed if a specified share of them are more affordable.

Punta Gorda City Council tackles short-term rentals” via Elaine Allen-Emrich of the Punta Gorda Sun — Punta Gorda City Council members initially agreed not to do anything about an 11-page proposed short-term vacation rental ordinance. But, after a 10-minute break, they changed their minds. At their recent meeting, David Levin, attorney for the city, told the Board, after they didn’t want to proceed, that he could create a revised version of the short-term rental ordinance. The Council had just returned after a short break. They listened to Levin’s suggestion and readdressed the “no” vote on the short-term rentals. Levin said the state doesn’t allow local municipalities to ban short-term rentals. Some City Council members had Levin research what other cities did to enhance state regulations.


Three reasons Trump is leading Biden” via Byron York of the Washington Examiner — Why is Trump leading Biden? Look at three big reasons. 1) Things have gone to hell since Biden became President. The economy, the border, crime, war in Ukraine, war in Israel — a lot has gone terribly wrong since Biden entered the White House. The month-old Israel-Hamas war just further underscores the sense of things going wrong under Biden. 2) Biden’s age. There’s not much more to say about that. People see the 80-year-old Biden every day. They hear him speak. And every time they do, it reinforces their conclusion that he is too old for the job. 3) The Trump prosecutions. Four indictments, plus a lawsuit in New York designed to destroy him financially, plus lawsuits across the country intended to remove his name from the 2024 ballot have significantly hardened the determination of some Trump supporters to keep supporting him.


An ominous poll for Democrats, and what it says about a Biden alternative” via Aaron Blake of The Washington Post — Biden and Democrats were greeted this weekend with perhaps their most ominous poll of the 2024 election cycle. And it has injected new urgency into a question that has long loomed: Would their party be better off with someone else at the top of the ticket? The poll suggests that might well be the case, though it’s not quite as simple as some panicky Biden backers are wagering. The survey shows Trump leading Biden in five of six swing states polled. In addition to showing Trump ahead by an average of four percentage points, the poll asked voters about a race without Biden. An unnamed “Democratic candidate” shifts the race by 12 points on the margins, turning a four-point Democratic deficit against Trump into an eight-point lead, 48% to 40%.

Floridians love DeSantis’ leadership. So why does the press hate him so much?” via the Sarasota Herald-Tribune editorial board — It seems every week I read another opinion piece in the Herald-Tribune about how terrible our Governor is. Last November, DeSantis won re-election by nearly 20 percentage points. I have been a resident of Florida since June 2022. I moved from California for personal reasons and not because of politics. However, I have seen California dramatically change negatively in so many ways during 32 years of subpar leadership in Sacramento. There is a reason so many Democrats and independents voted to re-elect the Governor and it would be worthy of your paper to balance things out.



— ALOE —

‘The Bear’ renewed for season 3” via Lesley Goldberg of The Hollywood Reporter — FX is firing up the burners. The Disney-owned cable network has handed out a third-season renewal for its critically acclaimed comedy series “The Bear.” The behind-the-scenes story on a restaurant and its staff, from creator Christopher Storer, will return in 2024. “The Bear, which wowed audiences in its first season only to achieve even greater heights in season two, has become a cultural phenomenon,” said FX entertainment President Nick Grad. “We’re so proud to partner with Christopher Storer, Joanna Calo, Josh Senior, and the rest of the creative team, as well as the brilliant cast led by Jeremy Allen White, Ayo Edebiri and Ebon Moss-Bachrach. What they and the crew have done is truly remarkable, and we and our partners at Hulu join fans in looking forward to the next chapter in the story of The Bear.”

’The Bear’ will serve up a third season in 2024.

Are ‘Elf’ and ‘Love Actually’ the last holiday classics we’ll ever get?” via Esther Zuckerman of The New York Times — On Nov. 7, 2003, American audiences had the opportunity to see either “Elf” or “Love Actually” for the very first time in theaters. They could find themselves humming “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” along with Will Ferrell or sobbing to “Both Sides Now” with Emma Thompson. Both now seem like relics of a different time, an era when movies received the kind of dedicated theatrical releases that allowed them to win over viewers and give them that hard-to-define classic status, putting them in a pantheon that includes the likes of “Miracle on 34th Street” and “Home Alone.” These days, it’s rare to find movies like “Love Actually” or “Elf” in theaters. The holiday-themed titles that land on the big screen tend to be violent.

Florida gas prices at 2023 low” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Gas prices in Florida are at their lowest level this year. The state average for a gallon of gasoline in the Sunshine State fell to $3.16 Monday. That’s 6 cents less than the previous low set in March. “Florida drivers are now finding some of the lowest pump prices since December 2022,” AAA spokesperson Mark Jenkins said in a statement. “Drivers are even finding pump prices below $3 a gallon in some cities. In fact, about 20% of Florida gas stations now have gasoline priced below $3. Even more are likely to follow this week.” Fewer people on the road, coupled with gains in gasoline supply and falling oil prices have all contributed to savings on fuel for motorists, Jenkins said.

Theme-park ticket prices go up at Universal” via Dewayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel — The price of one-day, one-park admission tickets to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure theme parks has gone up, Universal Orlando confirms. The cost of going to one of those parks for a day — without hopping over to the other one — ranges between $119 and $179, depending on the date. Previously, Universal’s going rate for this ticket was between $109 and $159. A one-day ticket good for both parks on the same day now falls between $174 and $234, depending on the date. That’s up from the previous $164-$214 range.

$25M-$30M Naples theater would boast Pavarotti name, 900 seats, lush garden” via Charles Runnells of the Naples Daily News — If all goes well, a new $25-$30 million performing-arts center could open within two years in Naples. The 900-seat Theater in the Garden would be the second-biggest venue in Collier County after Artis-Naples. “This project is born out of the proven need for another venue to perform in Collier County,” said Livio Ferrari, Director of Theater in the Garden Inc., a not-for-profit corporation. Elevating the proposed venue’s profile is its connection to one of the most famous opera singers of all time: the late Luciano Pavarotti. Pavarotti’s widow, Nicoletta Pavarotti, is involved with the project and plans to make it the American headquarters for Italy’s Luciano Pavarotti Foundation.


Happy birthday to our friend, Jenn Meale Poggie, president & CEO of Pinnacle Media. Also celebrating today are Richard Swartz and Rafael Yaniz.


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.

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