Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 11.27.23

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Here's your AM rundown of people, politics and policy in the Sunshine State.

Good Monday morning.

Mike Johnson is holding his first fundraiser as U.S. House Speaker, and he’s relying on one of the Florida delegation’s top rainmakers to make it a success.

According to a fundraising invitation, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan will be hosting Johnson for a reception and dinner in his district tonight, with donation tiers ranging from $1,000 to $25,000 per person.

Blockbuster money man Vern Buchanan is hosting Mike Johnson’s first fundraiser as Speaker.

Ahead of the fundraiser, Johnson and Buchanan will receive an update on the $100 million expansion currently underway at the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport. The Speaker and Congressman will hold a news conference at 11 a.m. after touring the construction site.

Johnson’s appearance in Florida comes as the House GOP ramps up its fundraising efforts for 2024. The new House Speaker is seen as a subpar fundraiser in comparison to his predecessor, U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California.

Buchanan, however, is known as one of the most prolific fundraisers not only in Florida, but among House Republicans nationwide.

Ahead of the 2022 elections, when Republicans regained a majority, Buchanan personally raised $4.1 million for the National Republican Congressional Committee, which is more than any member of Congress not already serving in leadership.


Rachael Kobb has joined Central Florida Public Affairs as senior policy adviser to lead the strategic advancement of regional economic, policy and social mobility goals.

Kobb has more than a decade of experience as a government affairs professional, fundraiser and campaigner. She brings deep policy knowledge, strategic communication skills and accomplished leadership engagement abilities to navigate issues and build coalitions that positively impact public, private and community organizations as well as constituents.

Government affairs professional Rachael Kobb is joining Central Florida Public Affairs as a senior policy adviser.

“I am excited to once again work with Sharon Smoley as a member of the Central Florida Public Affairs team,” Kobb said. “I look forward to offering depth and insights to policy, finance, and regulatory issues for clients while implementing community engagement strategies that help public, private and government leaders and the Central Florida community work together to improve the lives and well-being of all who call our great region home.”

She most recently served as Campaign Manager for Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer’s successful re-election where she exceeded fundraising goals. Previously, she served as vice president of Public Affairs and Communications for the Orlando Economic Partnership, where she led the organization’s transportation and semiconductor policy initiatives and was instrumental in driving millions of dollars in federal investments into the Orlando region.

Kobb also touts an extensive background in health care policy and financing, having served on the Orlando Health government relations team for eight years.

“I am thrilled to officially welcome Rachael Kobb to Central Florida Public Affairs,” said Sharon Smoley, founder of CFPA. “Rachael is uniquely positioned to broaden our firm’s areas of expertise. She is well respected for her ability to navigate complex systems while achieving results. Her dedication and strong relationship-building skills will be an asset to the firm.”


Florida House Speaker-designate Daniel Perez has made his pick in House District 60.

Perez, who will take over the gavel following the 2024 elections, is endorsing Ed Montanari in the race for the battleground district currently held by Democratic Rep. Lindsay Cross.

“There is no better candidate for HD 60 than Ed Montanari, and I am pleased to announce that he has the full endorsement and backing of the Florida House Republican Campaign Committee,” Perez said.

Speaker-designate Daniel Perez gives the nod to Ed Montanari.

0“Ed’s track record as a proven leader at the local level, his unwavering dedication to our country while serving in the military, and his commitment to loyally helping his community in St. Petersburg makes him the right choice for this seat. I’m privileged to endorse Ed and throw our support behind him.”

Perez’s endorsement puts the House GOP campaign arm behind the Montanari campaign and will likely stave off potential Primary challengers.

The nod also adds to Montanari’s growing stack of supporters in the HD 60 race — he previously picked up endorsements from state Rep. Linda Cheney, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, Pinellas School Board member Stephanie Meyer and former St. Pete Mayor Rick Baker.

HD 60 is one of a handful of potential 2024 pickups for Republicans, who already hold a supermajority in the House. Democrats carry a slight voter registration advantage in the district with just under 41,000 voters compared to just over 36,000 Republican voters. Cross won the seat in 2022 by just under eight percentage points.


@JaredEMoskowitz: We are gonna punish (President Joe) Biden so bad that we are gonna bring back the guy promising a Muslim ban and deportations. That will show Biden

@ScottFist: I’ve now seen two different, slick, feel-good, PSA-type @Disney commercials, indirectly featuring @WaltDisneyWorld. Campaign to counter any image damage caused by political attacks from @GovRonDeSantis & the Fla Legislature?

@JonathanTurley: Disney acknowledges in recent filings that its controversial political and social agenda is costing the company and shareholders. The company is concerned that “invisible hand” of Adam Smith is effectively giving the “House of Mouse” the middle finger.

@JReidFLa: Incorrect analysis. Adam Smith’s invisible hand is when the market acts independently of government to reward or punish industry. Here, government actors singled out a business and punished it for political speech. That’s the furthest thing from Smith’s invisible hand.

@Chloe_Conboy1: Turning @VernBuchanan into a @taylorswift13 fan one day at a time!

@EricaWerner: Wise words from my 11-yr-old this am: Mommy, if you’re feeling sad just think the world has existed for billions of years and you’re alive at the same time as Taylor Swift

@MattDevittWX: WINTER IS COMING TO FLORIDA! Coldest air of the season (so far) moves in for most of the state this week. 30s in the Panhandle, while Fort Lauderdale, Miami and the Keys feel a much smaller difference. 40s and 50s in Southwest Florida by Wednesday morning along with wind adding to the chill. Bundle up!

Tweet, tweet:

@Corey_Clark: Seminoles finish on a 24-3 run. On the road. In a rivalry game. With a backup quarterback. 12-0. Miss me with all the “style points” nonsense. Please. That was a great win.

@BDanBerger: Hey @CFBPlayoff Selection Committee, a gentle reminder: UGA was -24.5 and beat GT by 8. Wash was -15.5 and beat WSU by 3. Mich was -3 and beat OSU by 6. FSU was -6.5 and won by 9 on the road in an extremely hostile environment. 12-0.

@GrayRohrer; FSU should get in if they win next week, obviously. But the funniest result would be for FSU to get snubbed, Texas to win the playoff and FSU to beat Oklahoma in a bowl. Then we’d see how FSU fans scoffing at UCF’s 2017 natty would react. They’d be hanging banners for sure.


Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 1; Florida TaxWatch’s 2023 Government Productivity Awards Ceremony — 9; in-person sports betting begins at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa — 10; 2023 Florida Chamber Annual Insurance Summit — 16; Zack Snyder’s ‘Rebel Moon’ premieres — 24; Michael Mann’s ‘Ferrari’ premieres — 27; Matt Dixon’s ‘Swamp Monsters: (Donald) Trump vs. DeSantis ― the Greatest Show on Earth (or at Least in Florida)’ released — 42; 2024 Florida Chamber Legislative Fly-In and reception — 42; Florida’s 2024 Regular Session begins — 42; 2024 Primetime Emmy Awards — 48; Florida TaxWatch’s State of the Taxpayer Dinner — 49; House District 35 Special Election — 49; New Hampshire Primary — 56; Red Dog Blue Dog 2024 — 57; South Carolina Democratic Primary — 67; New Hampshire and Nevada Democratic Primaries — 70; South Carolina GOP holds first-in-the-South Primary — 88; Michigan Democratic Primary — 90; Trump’s D.C. trial on charges related to trying to reverse his 2020 Election loss — 96; Super Tuesday — 97; ‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ premieres — 100; 2024 Oscars — 104; Georgia Democratic Primary — 105; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 109; 2024 Leadership Conference on Safety, Health & Sustainability — 164; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 173; Republican National Convention begins — 227; New ‘Alien’ premieres — 231; ‘Captain America: Brave New World’ premieres — 240; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 241; Georgia Tech to face Florida State in 2024 opener in Dublin — 271; Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour stops in Miami — 315; 2024 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 327; Las Vegas Grand Prix — 359; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 388; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 444; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 523; ‘Moana’ premieres — 579; ‘Avatar 3’ premieres — 753; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 884; Untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 907; Another untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 1,120; ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,259; ‘Avatar 4’ premieres — 2,215; ‘Avatar 5’ premieres — 2,578.


Ron DeSantis faces critical decision on cruise ships in Key West” via Francis Robles of The New York Times — Activists flooded City Commission meetings, protested on the dock, collected signatures and managed to pass three ballot measures in 2020 imposing stricter controls to protect the marine environment and limit passengers to 1,500 a day — only to see the state Legislature, with the approval of DeSantis, void the new restrictions the following year.

Now the wealthy hotelier who operates Key West’s cruise ship port is doubling down, asking the state for permission to expand, which would allow bigger ships with more passengers to operate legally out of the port.

Key West’s cruise industry seeks to expand operations to lure larger ships.

The issue will soon land on the desk of DeSantis, who has received nearly $1 million in campaign donations from the pier’s owner. It represents a tough balancing act for the Governor, a 2024 presidential candidate who has touted his environmental record but has also been a booster of Florida’s tourism industry.

Safer Cleaner Ships, the organization behind the move to keep large cruise ships out of Key West, recently fired another salvo: It filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the local port owner, Pier B Development Corp., citing state records it said showed the company had underpaid millions of dollars in state fees and taxes. The Florida attorney general’s office dismissed the suit in part on jurisdictional grounds, a decision that activists said was a sign of continuing state support for a campaign donor, the owner of one of the country’s largest private hotel chains.


Pro-DeSantis super PAC shake-up adds to 2024 Election turmoil ahead of Iowa caucuses” via Max Greenwood and Ana Ceballos of the Miami Herald — Chris Jankowski, the chief executive of the pro-DeSantis super PAC Never Back Down, abruptly resigned on Wednesday amid deep strategic disagreements and infighting within the group. [T]he shake-up at Never Back Down casts a shadow over the strategy and stability of a group that has played an outsized role in DeSantis’ national political efforts since he launched his presidential campaign. Some Republicans said that the upheaval at Never Back Down was indicative of a larger problem within the Governor’s political orbit.

Chris Jankowski is out at Never Back Down.

Iowa evangelical leader Bob Vander Plaats endorses DeSantis, knocks Donald Trump” via Hannah Knowles of The Washington Post — “I just think he’s got the spine to do it, and I think he’s got the experience to win for us,” Vander Plaats said on Fox News’s “Special Report With Bret Baier,” adding later that if Trump wins Iowa it will be hard to wrest the GOP nomination away from him. Vander Plaats has been openly critical of Trump, the runaway Republican polling leader in Iowa and nationally, and had long been expected to back DeSantis. An influential activist with an active Christian conservative following, he has supported the last three winners of contested GOP caucuses — though none of them went on to win the Republican nomination, underscoring the tough path forward for DeSantis even if he does well in the Hawkeye State.

Evangelical leader fires back at Trump” via Khaleda Rahman of Newsweek — Vander Plaats hit back at Trump after the former President accused him of “scamming” candidates. Vander Plaats, the president of the Family Leader Foundation, endorsed DeSantis, telling Fox News that Republicans “need to find somebody who can win” in 2024. DeSantis has been trailing Trump in polls, but Vander Plaats’ backing could give him a boost in Iowa’s Republican caucus, where evangelicals are a crucial voting bloc. The Christian conservative leader’s endorsement triggered Trump’s ire, with the former President taking to his Truth Social platform to criticize Vander Plaats for backing “a candidate who is going nowhere.” “Bob Vander Plaats, the former High School accountant from Iowa, will do anything to win, something which he hasn’t done in many years,” Trump wrote in a post on Saturday.

DeSantis supporters’ ad buy emphasizes high-profile Iowa endorsements” via Florida Phoenix — Super PAC Never Back Down released a pair of ads Wednesday titled “Focused,” and “Fight,” featuring Gov. Kim Reynolds talking about why she endorsed DeSantis. Speaking directly to the camera, the Iowa Republican asked for Iowans to support DeSantis, saying “With your help, he’ll beat Joe Biden.” “If you like what we’re doing in Iowa, then you’ll love what Ron DeSantis will do for this country,” Reynolds said in one of the ads. “He is fighting for our children, cutting taxes and standing up for common sense.” The ads are part of a seven-figure Iowa ad buy by Never Back Down this week. Trump has also been critical of Reynolds for her endorsement of DeSantis.

Top donors increasingly believe Nikki Haley can topple Trump in the GOP Presidential Primaries and they’re telling others to open up their checkbooks” via John L. Dorman of MSN — For months, Haley has been stumping across the country in hopes of convincing GOP Primary voters that her presidential bid is best positioned to put the party back in the White House. With less than two months before the Iowa caucuses, wavering donors, including many who’ve been hesitant to back Trump, are increasingly getting behind Haley’s campaign and pushing others to follow suit despite the tough odds against the ex-commander in chief. Haley has impressed an array of business leaders, including JPMorgan Chase chief executive Jamie Dimon, with her policy knowledge.

Chip Roy makes 2024 endorsement clear: ‘I proudly fight for DeSantis’” via Steff Danielle Thomas of The Hill — Rep. Roy of Texas announced his endorsement of DeSantis for the White House Saturday, saying he stands “100%” with the GOP hopeful. “I stand 100% alongside this wonderful woman & her husband, @RonDeSantis, because they are truly good & decent people,” Roy posted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, in response to a tweet from Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis. “America needs THAT again.” “I proudly fight for @RonDeSantis to be our GOP nominee for President because it’s time to #MeetTheMoment & WIN again. #DeSantis2024,” he added.

Chip Roy doubles down on Ron DeSantis.

Is Gov. Gavin Newsom losing political momentum as debate with Gov. DeSantis nears?” via David Lightman of the Orlando Sentinel — When the idea of a Newsom-DeSantis debate was floated earlier this year, it promised an unfiltered look at two political up-and-comers who may someday compete for the presidency. It still has that potential, but the stars are not as bright. The two Governors will meet for 90 minutes on Nov. 30 on Fox News Channel, with commentator Sean Hannity moderating. Fox is calling it “The Great Red vs. Blue State Debate.” “Gavin Newsom is taking a risk by doing this debate. He is facing questions about if his focus is on Californians or if his focus is on his national ambitions,” said Christian Grose, academic director of the University of Southern California Schwarzenegger Institute.

8 Republicans — including a surprise candidate — make Florida Primary ballot” via Gary Fineout of POLITICO — The Republican Party of Florida announced Wednesday the Primary ballot lineup immediately after the party’s internal qualifying deadline had passed. They include North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, DeSantis, Haley, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and Trump. One surprise candidate who filed to be on the Florida ballot was Ryan Binkley, a Dallas, Texas, CEO and pastor who launched his long shot bid for President earlier this year and has largely financed his campaign by himself. Federal campaign filings show that Binkley had spent more than $7 million on the race by the end of September.

— MORE 2024 —

Haley assembles the ‘Rubio Coalition’ in Iowa” via Marc Caputo and Stephanie Murray of The Messenger — The coalition of Republican voters who propelled Sen. Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign in Iowa are increasingly coalescing around Haley as she slowly climbs in polls of both the GOP Primary and the General Election. “I like the policies she has. I like the fact that she talks about winning the popular vote versus an Election College vote and I think she can do it,” said Tim Beckwith, an Ankeny resident and Republican who saw Haley speak in his Des Moines-area city on Friday. Beckwith caucused for Rubio in 2016 and plans to support Haley in the Jan. 15 caucus.

Nikki Haley hopes to attract Marco Rubio 2016 voters.

Haley’s challenge: Keep anti-Trump GOP vote, add some Trump backers” via John McCormick of The Wall Street Journal — Her effort to straddle the two factions, as she has since entering the race in February as the first major candidate to challenge Trump, is a test of whether anyone can unite a party that remains deeply divided over its central figure. Haley sounds like a pre-Trump Republican when she speaks her “hard truths” on fiscal discipline and entitlement reform, as well as when she calls for support for Ukraine and Israel. More Trump-like tones emerge when she talks about immigration and China. “I came into the Governor’s office as a Tea Party candidate,” she said, seated at the counter of a loose-meat sandwich shop here. “I’m fiscally conservative. I’m a mom. I’m a military spouse. You look at all of these things, I think I’m a conservative Republican.”

Chris Christie turns up the heat on Haley and DeSantis as he tries to be the Trump alternative in GOP 2024 race” via Paul Steinhauser of FOX News — Christie’s amplifying criticism of DeSantis and Haley for not vigorously targeting Trump, who remains the faraway front-runner for the GOP nomination as he makes his third straight White House run. “Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley have not made the case against him. They refuse to make the case against him. They’re scared to make the case against him,” Christie charged in a Fox News Digital interview in New Hampshire. “He’s not afraid of Nikki Haley,” Christie argued. “And he certainly made his feelings about Ron DeSantis known. He doesn’t look like he’s very intimidated by him. But the fact is, you don’t hear him saying that stuff about me. He doesn’t want to be on that stage with me.”

Trump draws cheers, some boos in Nikki Haley’s backyard at Clemson-South Carolina football game” via The Associated Press — Trump walked into Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia on Saturday night to chants of “We want Trump! We want Trump!” from fans gathered for the annual Palmetto Bowl, the state’s biggest sporting event of the year. Haley, a Clemson alum and trustee who was twice elected South Carolina Governor, did not attend. Trump was a guest of Gov. Henry McMaster, Haley’s successor. The entourage, which entered through a veritable tunnel of Trump supporters on its way to a private suite, also included South Carolina’s senior U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, giving a show of local political force at a game featuring Haley’s alma mater.

Republican megadonor Mercer family weighs backing Trump as they maintain massive war chest” via Brian Schwartz of CNBC — Robert Mercer and his daughter, Rebekah, have not yet made a final decision on whether they’ll publicly back Trump, these people said. But the Mercers remain friendly with key players in Trump’s orbit, including former senior counselor Kellyanne Conway. The Mercers gave millions to a super PAC and other efforts to boost Trump in 2016, before very noticeably stepping back around 2018. As they weigh their options on whether to get involved with helping Trump again, the Mercer family has a practically unparalleled private war chest ready to be deployed.

Robert Mercer looks at possibly backing Donald Trump.

Democrats zero in on Florida and Texas Senate races after Joe Manchin’s retirement” via Dan Merica of The Messenger — The new focus on these red states also represents an insurance policy against Biden losing the White House, should there be a tie in the Senate. Florida Democrats are betting that former Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, a Democrat who flipped a Republican-controlled House seat in 2018 but lost two years later, will be their candidate against U.S. Sen. Rick Scott. Even the rosiest Democrats acknowledge that both campaigns are long shots. But there is an expectation that national Democrats will step up their involvement in each contest in the coming months, primarily because U.S. Sens. Scott and Ted Cruz are the unusual incumbents who are less popular in polling than generic Republicans. That offers Democrats an argument in two red states.


Thank you, Governor — The scene inside Gov. DeSantis’s office (h/t Ron Book):

A migrant killed a deputy. A DeSantis agency’s probe was 2 pages.” via Emily L. Mahoney and Justin Garcia of the Tampa Bay Times — A nine-hour search ensued after the death of Pinellas Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Hartwick. Three helicopters hovered above as deputies with bloodhounds searched for the driver of a front-end loader that struck and killed Hartwick as he directed traffic the night of Sept. 22, 2022. Hours later, one of the hounds detected the man they were seeking, hiding in brush: Juan Ariel Molina-Salles, a Honduran immigrant in the U.S. without legal authorization. For DeSantis, the tragedy justified his policies cracking down on illegal immigration. “We just had a sheriff’s deputy from Pinellas County killed by a twice-deported illegal alien who came across the border illegally,” DeSantis said. “I didn’t hear any outrage about that.”

When Peter Antonacci was stricken in Governor’s Office he lay in hallway 24 minutes before anyone noticed” via Dan Christensen of Florida Bulldog — Florida Department of Law Enforcement records released to Florida Bulldog also say Antonacci lay dead or dying on the hallway floor of the Governor’s Office for more than 20 minutes before anyone apparently noticed and came to his aid. More precisely, 24 minutes, in a hallway under real time video-only surveillance. By the time a Capitol police officer arrived a minute or two later and hooked the pulseless Antonacci up to an automated external defibrillator (AED), the machine that can administer a life-saving electrical shock to victims of sudden cardiac arrest assessed Antonacci and advised that “no shock” was needed. The meeting Antonacci attended that day was in a conference room in the Governor’s Office.

DeSantis’ Disney World district fires 2 senior leaders, 2 others” via Skyler Swisher of the Orlando Sentinel — Three days before Thanksgiving, leaders of DeSantis’ Disney World oversight district fired two senior staffers and two other employees. The district on Monday dismissed Eryka Washington Perry, director of communications, and Jason Middleton, chief of human resources, along with an administrative assistant and facilities maintenance specialist. The departures are the latest shake-up at the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, which was put under state control in February and provides fire protection and other government services to Disney World.

Proposed bill, ballot initiative seek to undo DeSantis’ Disney district takeover” via Skyler Swisher of the Orlando Sentinel — State Sen. Linda Stewart is preparing to file a bill that would repeal DeSantis’ takeover of Disney World’s special district, part of a push to sway the Florida Legislature to revisit the issue. Meanwhile, a group called the Disney Defenders is making a long shot effort to get the issue on Florida’s 2024 ballot. The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District has been plagued by cronyism and sagging employee morale since DeSantis took control in February, Stewart said. “I am looking at every avenue possible to get this overturned,” the Orlando Democrat said. “We are going to try to get people to vote and see how many people still believe in how they voted the first time.”

Linda Stewart’s bill would roll back changes in DeSantis’ Disney district.

Final inmate sentenced as part of 2020 voter fraud investigation in Alachua County” via Nora O’Neill of The Gainesville Sun — All 10 inmates charged with voter fraud following a 2020 voter drive held by the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Office have now been adjudicated guilty and sentenced. Kelvin Bolton, the last inmate to be sentenced, pled guilty Tuesday after initially requesting a trial by jury. He was sentenced to 24 months in prison. Nine of the inmates charged after a state investigation reached verdicts through plea agreements while one, John Rivers, was found guilty after a jury trial in May. Sentences ranged from probation to between 12 and 36 months in state prison. The investigation into voter fraud in Alachua County stemmed from a series of complaints filed by Gainesville resident Mark Glaeser, a database researcher and programmer who says he found thousands of people across the state who registered or voted illegally.


White House grapples with internal divisions on Israel-Gaza” via Yasmeen Abutaleb and John Hudson of The Washington Post — Earlier this month, a group of about 20 distressed White House staffers requested a meeting with Biden’s top advisers, as Israel’s war in Gaza entered its sixth week. The previously unreported meeting of officials underscores how Biden’s handling of what is arguably the biggest foreign policy crisis of his presidency is dividing a White House that has prided itself on running a disciplined and united operation.


Hundreds of family farms chosen for land protection program” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — Florida Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson has released the final project acquisition list for the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program (RFLPP), a ranked list of agricultural lands eligible for protection. The list was finalized after the program’s final public meeting in Tallahassee establishing the ranked list. “Today is an important milestone in our pursuit of preserving Florida’s productive agricultural lands. This final list represents hundreds of family farms that produce citrus, cattle, timber, and other vital commodities, and serve as buffers to our natural areas in the Wildlife Corridor,” Simpson said. “I look forward to working with the Governor and Cabinet to receive final approval for this list and the Legislature to ensure these projects are fully funded.”

Wilton Simpson chooses family farms for a new land-protection program.

Insurance Commissioner bullish on new domestic property insurer” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — Florida’s insurance regulators are touting the entry of a new company into the state’s turbulent insurance market as a reassuring sign. The Office of Insurance Regulation has approved Condo Owners Reciprocal Exchange to start selling commercial residential policies in the state. Insurance trade publications say that the company was started by HCI Group, a holding company that already operates a domestic insurer in Florida. “OIR is pleased to see more companies, jobs and capital coming into Florida’s insurance market this year,” said Insurance Commissioner Michael Yaworsky.

‘Don’t say gay’ for nonprofits: Ryan Chamberlin files bill that would restrict LGBTQ nonprofits receiving state funding” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — State Rep. Chamberlin has filed legislation that could impact how Florida nonprofits handle LGBTQ+ individuals. The Belleview Republican filed a bill (HB 599) that would restrict taking into consideration an individual’s gender identity or sexual orientation if they want to compete for state contracts or grants. The legislation would prohibit the termination of employees for refusing to use preferred pronouns that don’t align with an individual’s gender assigned at birth. It would also make clear the state, as an official policy, would only recognize gender as assigned at birth that aligns with individuals’ original internal and external sex organs.

Fabián Basabe withdraws 12-week abortion ban proposal after no Democrat supports it” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Rep. Basabe has aborted a bill. He withdrew a measure Tuesday that would have allowed Florida women to terminate their pregnancies up to 12 weeks after fertilization, rather than the six-week limit GOP lawmakers passed in April. Basabe yanked the measure (HB 93), which he described as a compromise between the state’s current 15-week ban and the six-week one still pending a Florida Supreme Court ruling, seven weeks after he filed it. The reason he canceled the legislation, he said, is because he lacked the necessary support. No Democratic lawmaker would help him bring it to term. “I needed the support of my Democratic colleagues in the Florida House of Representatives to bring this bill to fruition,” he said in a statement. “While 16 out of 35 expressed interest, none were able to officially (sign-on).”

Legislation would bar bank Board directors presiding over bank insolvencies from other bank Boards” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Sen. Blaise Ingoglia and Rep. Dean Black have filed legislation barring service on a bank Board of Directors if an individual had been on the Board of a bank that became insolvent. The identical bills (SB 542/HB 543) would disqualify an individual from serving on another bank’s Board of Directors for five years after he or she had been on the Board of Directors of a bank that had become insolvent. “Floridians deserve to have trust in our financial institutions,” said Ingoglia. “It’s simply not fair that individuals that have contributed to putting deposits at risk be allowed to continue that behavior.”

Bill introduced again to replace mockingbird as state bird” via Linda Chion Kenney of The Observer — Sen. Tina Polsky, a Democrat whose district includes Boca Raton, is moving to give stature to the Florida scrub-jay, which, as Senate Bill 162 reads, is “the only bird species endemic to Florida.” It’s not the first time the mockingbird has been under fire as the state bird in Florida, a designation it has held since 1927. Described as a “year-round Florida resident” that is “helpful to humans because it usually feeds on insects and weed seeds,” the mockingbird is heralded as well for its “fierce defense of the family nest” and superb songbird abilities. The mockingbird is not a state bird designation unique to Florida, as it also is the state bird of Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas. And therein lies a problem for Polsky and others who have pushed to replace the state bird.

On the heels of high-profile wins, a government transparency effort seeks to expand its reach” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — The Florida Center for Government Accountability (FLCGA) can claim its work-inspired legislation, handed a legal defeat to the attempts of DeSantis’ administration to keep information under wraps. The organization’s core mission is to give the Sunshine Law, the state’s open records law, more muscle through suing for public records, commissioning news stories, and acting as a resource for citizens who need help drafting public information requests. The FLCGA is launching a “Defenders of Democracy” campaign to raise $80,000 with an eye on supporting more independent journalism. In 2022, the organization reported about $135,000 in donations, according to its 990 form nonprofits are required to submit.

How the $1.8 billion Realtors lawsuit could reshape Florida’s housing market” via Rebecca Liebson of the Tampa Bay Times — Last month, a federal jury in Missouri found that the National Association of Realtors and several large brokerages had conspired in a price-fixing scheme that inflated the commissions agents earned from each sale. The suit centered around the group’s rules for commission sharing. In order to list a home on the Multiple Listing Service, an online database agents use to find available properties, the national agency requires seller’s agents to offer a nonnegotiable commission, usually between 5%- 6%. That commission is taken from the proceeds of the sale and split between the buyer’s agent and the seller’s agent. The lawsuit could bring an end to commission sharing. Instead, the buyer’s agent would be paid by the buyer and the seller’s agent would be paid by the seller.

Giant Florida marijuana grow house sets stage for recreational pot” via Jeffrey Schweers of the Orlando Sentinel — The pungent, sticky sweet smell of marijuana is the first thing visitors notice when they enter the 750,000-square-foot grow house that Trulieve built east of Tallahassee. This is next-level pot production. Not only is it a technical marvel of climate-controlled, rigorously regulated cannabis production meant to cut down on inefficiencies, but it’s also the first step in a plan to ramp up production if recreational marijuana for adults becomes legal in Florida next year and the federal government eventually downgrades its status as a drug to rival heroin.


House candidate Jamie Watts responds as felony arrest and other accusations emerge” via Michelle Vecerina of Florida’s Voice — Waleka Mayor and House candidate Watts responded after records accused him of stalking and harassment, as well as a felony arrest and Baker Act record. Watts is running to take over Rep. Bobby Payne’s House District 20 seat against Judson Sapp. “I have never been arrested or charged for harassment, stalking, or personal violence. The dumping charge against me was dropped by the state attorney. I’ve never been convicted of any crime in my life,” Watts told Florida’s Voice in a statement. Records obtained by Florida’s Voice revealed Watts’ ex-wife filed a restraining order against him in 2021 after her previous restraining order against him from 2012 expired. His ex-wife also filed an incident report against Watts in 2021 with the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office.

Jamie Watts responds to the myriad red flags that have emerged. Image via City of Weleka, Facebook.

Perez endorses Erika Booth in HD 35 — House Speaker-designate Perez is endorsing Osceola County School Board member Erika Booth in the Special Election for HD 35. “Florida House Republican Campaign Committee is proud to endorse and fully support Erika Booth for the special election in HD 35,” Perez said. “Erika is a proven leader, a dedicated educator, committed to volunteering in her community and has deep roots in Central Florida. I am proud to endorse Erika and have the House Republican Caucus stand behind her.” Perez’s endorsement comes after Booth secured the Republican nomination earlier this month in a costly Special Primary Election for the district, which covers parts of Orange and Osceola counties. Booth faces Democratic nominee Tom Keen in the Jan. 16 General Election. The seat was previously held by GOP Rep. Fred Hawkins, who won it by 10 points, but Democrats see it as a potential pickup since it voted for Biden in the 2020 Elections.

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell endorses Johnny Farias in HD 118 Special Election” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics —“As an Ecuadorian immigrant and veteran who has dedicated his career to serving our country, Johnny Farias is the embodiment of the American Dream,” Mucarsel-Powell said. “Floridians can trust that Johnny will put people before politics and fight to protect the opportunities that extremists in Tallahassee are trying to take away. I know Johnny will stand up for working families, including by tackling the insurance crisis hurting Floridians, and I’m proud to stand with his campaign.” Farias is running to succeed former state Rep. Juan Fernandez-Barquin, who resigned his seat after DeSantis appointed the Republican as Miami-Dade Clerk. The Special Election is scheduled for Dec. 5. He faces Republican Mike Redondo and no-party-affiliation candidate Frank De La Paz.

Hillsborough Judge Nancy Jacobs fights for job as troubles mount” via Dan Sullivan of the Tampa Bay Times — The 2022 judicial race between Jacobs and then-Hillsborough Circuit Judge Jared Smith was an uncharacteristically rough-and-tumble affair, featuring an abortion rights focus, partisan and religious overtones, and allegations of antisemitism. Smith’s defeat, a rarity for a sitting judge, was negated months later by his gubernatorial appointment to an appeals court. A year later, it is Jacobs who is fighting to protect her job and her reputation. A discipline case looming in the Florida Supreme Court alleges she violated judicial rules for allowing partisan statements to proliferate and for attacking Smith personally. In a recent response to the charges against her, Jacobs acknowledged some mistakes.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

Former Miami Beach Commission candidate, her husband locked up after domestic dispute” via Devoun Cetoute and Aaron Liebowitz of the Miami Herald — Marcella Novela, a recent candidate for the Miami Beach City Commission, was arrested Wednesday morning in a domestic dispute alongside her husband, Miami real estate executive Ricardo Dunin Borkowsky. Novela and Dunin Borkowsky were charged with misdemeanor battery. Both were in the Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center on Wednesday night, records show. Earlier this month, Novela narrowly lost to Joe Magazine in the City Commission race. She is an art adviser and curator, chairing the city’s Art in Public Places Committee and previously serving on the Board of Trustees for the Perez Art Museum in Miami. Dunin is the founder and CEO of Miami-based real estate firm Oak Capital.

Marcella Novela has a miserable Thanksgiving.

ICYMISteven Meiner defeats Michael Góngora in runoff to become next Miami Beach mayor” via Aaron Liebowitz of the Miami Herald — Meiner defeated Góngora in the runoff election for Miami Beach mayor on Tuesday, winning by more than 700 votes with all precincts reporting results shortly after 8 p.m. Meiner received 54% of votes with about 10,000 ballots cast. He will be sworn in next week to succeed Dan Gelber, the city’s mayor since 2017 who is term limited. Miami Beach mayors can serve up to three two-year terms. Meiner has been a Miami Beach City Commissioner since 2019. He ran on a tough-on-crime platform, billing himself as the “law and order candidate” for mayor. And he emphasized his political ethics, refusing to take campaign donations from developers and touting his independence on the City Commission.

ICYMIMiguel Gabela, Damián Pardo unseat incumbents on Miami City Commission” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Miami voters opted for change Tuesday, electing a pair of new City Commission members in runoff races. Former Miami Zoning Board member Gabela had 54% of 3,223 votes counted to supplant suspended Commissioner Alex Díaz de la Portilla in a rematch four years in the making. Those figures may shift slightly as additional Election Day ballots are counted and cured. Gabela will take the District 1 seat from which Díaz de la Portilla was removed two months ago after his arrest on felony corruption charges. Meanwhile, financial planner and longtime community activist Damián Pardo received 52.5% of 5,143 votes counted to beat incumbent Commissioner Sabina Covo for the District 2 seat, which Covo won just nine months earlier. Pardo’s victory makes him the first openly gay person elected to the Miami Commission.

Ex-Proud Boy and Miami-Dade GOP Executive Committee member found guilty in Jan. 6 case” via Max Greenwood of the Miami Herald — Gabriel Garcia, a former member of the Proud Boys who once sat on the Miami-Dade Republican Party Executive Committee, was found guilty on Monday of two felonies related to his role in the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol. Garcia was accused of participating in aggressive confrontations with police on Jan. 6 and aiding other rioters to storm the Capitol. Garcia also recorded himself inside the Capitol during the riot, and at one point posted a video in which he can be heard taunting then-U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to “come out and play.” In a bench trial held in Washington, D.C. on Monday, U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson found Garcia guilty of civil disorder and obstruction of an official proceeding.

‘Let Justice Roll!’ How a group of many faiths takes on Miami’s big social problems” via Lauren Costantino of the Miami Herald — The pews of Ebenezer United Methodist Church in Allapattah buzz with chatter from Christians and Jews, Muslims and Protestants. But this is not a worship service or forum to discuss religion. This is a meeting of a little-known but influential group called PACT (People Acting for Community Together) — an interfaith organization that seeks to tackle Miami-Dade County’s most pressing social issues. PACT has a record of real results — pushing a plan to plant more trees to help reduce rising temperatures in urban areas, implementing community IDs to make it easier for people to access services and expanding Miami-Dade’s civil citation program to help reduce jail time for minors.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

Disney World visitors felt the heat as medical calls spiked this Summer” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — In roughly 20 years of warnings, the National Weather Service never issued an excessive heat advisory for Orlando. Until this Summer. Then, suddenly, Orange County had four excessive heat advisories, all in mid-August, as the heat index hit 113 degrees and above. Disney World vacations got dangerously hot. Throughout the entire Summer, Disney World paramedics received 441 calls for guests’ heat-related medical issues — 22% more than last Summer and more than double from five years ago. About 25 people passed out or nearly fainted from the heat in August — the busiest Summer month for the fire department. Out of the 441 calls, about one in every five were transported to the hospital. The rest of the people were treated by Disney World’s first responders and released.

In an aging Central Florida Superfund site, huge machines aim to knock out a toxic mess” via Kevin Spear of the Orlando Sentinel — Enormous cranes are building a structure near Clermont that may seem astonishing not only for its weight, about 250 million pounds, and size, a mass larger than a football field but also for its place and purpose. The behemoth is taking shape entirely underground — a monolithic, rock-like tomb to solve one of the nation’s earliest Superfund challenges, the storied brew of dangerous pesticide ingredients called the Tower Chemical site 20 miles west of Orlando city hall. “It looks like a mess,” said Bill Neimes, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project engineer, of slop suggesting congealing turkey gravy smothering a portion of the work area, “but if you scrape it away, it would be a solid slab.” The Tower Chemical job will last a year, use several contractors and suppliers, have as many as 30 workers on-site at a time and require brute-force tools and techniques.

A Central Florida Superfund site could see a cleanup.

U.S. agency investigating University of Tampa over antisemitism allegation” via Divya Kumar of the Tampa Bay Times — The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has launched an investigation into the University of Tampa over allegations of antisemitism. Though the incident predates the Israel-Hamas war, UT is one of several universities and school systems, including Hillsborough County Public Schools, added to a list of discrimination investigations opened since the conflict started. The Department of Education’s website stated the investigations are “part of the Biden-(Kamala) Harris administration’s continued efforts to take aggressive action to address the alarming nationwide rise in reports of antisemitism, anti-Muslim, anti-Arab, and other forms of discrimination and harassment on college campuses and in K-12 schools since the October 7 Israel-Hamas conflict.”

ICYMISamuel Berrien returns to Fort Meade City Commission with victory in Runoff Election” via Gary White of The Lakeland Ledger — Berrien has returned to the Fort Meade City Commission. Berrien captured 53.1% of the vote in Tuesday’s Runoff Election to defeat Donnie True, who received 46.9%, according to unofficial results from the Polk County Supervisor of Elections Office. Berrien garnered 380 votes, compared to 336 for True. The participation rate was 26.3%, the Supervisor of Elections Office reported. The two candidates for Seat 5 reached the runoff after neither achieved 50% in the Nov. 7 election. Berrien received 42% of the votes, followed by True with 30% and Candice Filyaw Lott with 27%.

Kate’s Place Clubhouse: Integrating behavioral health care, support in communities” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — At the annual meeting of the Florida Hospital Association last month, behavioral health featured prominently among the topics, specifically how to strengthen community-based services and support and integrate services into various community settings. Among the panels of experts were members of Kate’s Place Clubhouse, an Orlando-based program providing a restorative environment for adults living with the effects of a mental illness and co-occurring disorders. Clubhouses operate in more than 30 countries and provide members with opportunities for friendship, training, education, employment, and other community-based support. Clubhouse members also forge meaningful friendships and receive peer support, both of which foster a deep sense of belonging, which is at the heart of the Clubhouse model.

At the annual meeting of the Florida Hospital Association, behavioral health featured prominently.


All Children’s seeks retrial in Maya case, claims juror misconduct” via Christopher O’Donnell of the Tampa Bay Times — Nearly two weeks after a jury awarded $261 million in damages against Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, its attorneys on Wednesday filed for a retrial in a motion that accused the jury foreman of violating strict conduct rules during the trial. In a motion filed in Sarasota County, hospital attorneys claimed that during the trial, juror Paul Lengyel shared information about the case with his wife, who then shared it on social media platforms. Yolanda Lengyel also attended at least one day of the trial in Venice, meaning she could have heard attorney discussions with the judge that were made outside of the jury’s presence, the motion states.

All Children’s is looking for a do-over of the Maya lawsuit. Pool photo by Frank DiFiore.

Tampa General incentivizes innovation with new cancer care challenge” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — Tampa General announced the TGH Innovation Challenge this month. The goal is to address the significant unmet need for cancer care in rural communities and reduce cancer mortality in America. “While we are working to increase access to world-class care across Florida, we recognize there are some challenges we face that require system disruption,” said John Couris, president and CEO of Tampa General. Gamification encourages entrepreneurs to solve our most significant health care challenges. A specific challenge invites groups from different backgrounds and capacities to contribute solutions. One of the most well-known gamification applications was Elon Musk leveraging expertise across sectors to help develop his vision for reducing costs for repeated space travel.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

Chabad UF Jewish Student Center vandalized early Friday morning” via The Gainesville Sun — The Chabad UF Jewish Student Center was vandalized early Friday morning with “anti-Semitic graffiti and hateful slurs,” according to a news release from the organization. The vandalism has been reported to police, and Chabad UF plans to increase its security protocols. “This is an attempt to intimidate us and the proud Jewish Life and learning Chabad UF provides to the students and community,” the release said. “We will not be cowed by hate, but will in fact double our efforts to strengthen Judaism, advocate for Israel and continue to bring light and joy to the UF, SFC and Gainesville communities. Anyone with information about the vandalism is asked to call GPD at 352-955-1818 and notify Rabbi Berl Goldman at 352-336-5877.

Gainesville Jews get harassed again.

Ted Ellis will lead FSU’s new Civil Rights Institute amid political uncertainties” via Tarah Jean of the Tallahassee Democrat — As Ellis takes the helm of Florida State University’s Civil Rights Institute as its inaugural full-time director, he already sees the kind of mark he wishes to leave on the campus community — despite disagreement over diversity, equity and inclusion policies, or DEI. “I get to impact 40,000-plus students at FSU in this space with the institute, and I’m just getting started,” said Ellis, a New Orleans native, renowned artist and former chemist. The Civil Rights Institute, housed within the university’s College of Social Sciences and Public Policy, was founded by siblings Doby and Fred Flowers in 2018. Both are FSU alumni and civil rights advocates.

Lots of diversity jobs at UNF are vacant. Will there be any once new state rules kick in?” via Steve Patterson of The Florida Times-Union — A University of North Florida religious figure’s resignation is highlighting departures happening as the state’s university system prepares to finalize rules against spending to support diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. Matt Hartley, who had been director of UNF’s Interfaith Center, left last week to become director of interfaith programs at OneJax Inc., a pro-diversity nonprofit and former UNF institute that split from the school last Spring, citing “the current political climate in our state.” The OneJax breakup happened as Florida’s Legislature weighed a bill, which DeSantis signed into law, barring state colleges and universities from spending money to promote DEI on campus. In addition to five DEI jobs on campus lost by OneJax’s exit, Hartley’s resignation was among six departures that have occurred in 15 non-academic jobs that UNF told state officials in January represented expenses for DEI.


Ballard Partners enrolls in New College of Florida” via Kevin McCauley for O’Dwyer’s — Ballard Partners is monitoring federal education and infrastructure legislation for the New College Foundation. The Sarasota-based New College of Florida is the poster child of DeSantis’ war on “woke” indoctrination. NCF, which fell 24 places to the No. 100 spot in U.S. News and World Report’s 2024 rankings of national liberal arts schools, is looking to raise $400M in state funding over the next five years to achieve its vision of fostering a “community of free thinkers, risk-takers and trailblazers.” Brian Ballard, who once served as Trump’s chief fundraiser in the Sunshine State, and Daniel McFaul, the ex-chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, works for the New College Foundation.

Ballard Partners is going to bat for New College of Florida.


Why the next seven weeks are so critical in the race for President” via Michelle Cottle of The New York Times — The period between Thanksgiving and the first Presidential Primaries and Caucuses in January and February is typically full of flux and ferment. The contenders sharpen their messages. The campaigns flood Iowa, New Hampshire and other early-going states with additional money and people and ads. So many ads. More voters start paying attention. Watching candidates surge and fizzle, focus and fold, you often can get a sense of how they respond under pressure. And if there’s one thing a President needs to be able to handle, it’s pressure. With Trump, the Republican contest includes a de facto incumbent whose dominance looks all but insurmountable. Some players have already left the field. Others need to leave ASAP. (Looking at you, Asa and Doug.)


Trump’s big advantages as the election year unfolds” via Gerard Seib of The Wall Street Journal — The current structure of U.S. presidential elections helps the leading Republican presidential contender in significant ways. Thanks in part to years of work by the former President’s campaign and allies, the party’s Primary rules and calendar are designed to help a front-runner sew up the nomination quickly.

That would be an advantage in any case, but it may matter even more in a year when Trump’s legal troubles in multiple civil and criminal trials could mount as the Primary calendar unfolds.

In the General Election, the Electoral College also tilts decidedly to the benefit of the Republican nominee. That’s because Democrats gather a lot of their national popular vote totals in just a few heavily populated states, while Republican nominees tend to win in less populous states that deliver winner-take-all electoral votes in return for far fewer actual votes.

In effect, Democrats tend to garner large numbers of votes that give them no gains in the Electoral College.

“Republican votes are simply more efficiently allocated than Democratic votes are,” says nonpartisan election analyst Charlie Cook.

The Republican advantage is so pronounced that Cook estimates that Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, will have to win the national popular vote by four to seven percentage points to win in the Electoral College, much as he did in 2020 when he won the popular vote by 4.5% over Trump.


Can DeSantis’ presidential campaign even survive until Super Tuesday?” via Brian Burgess of The Capitolist — As the 2024 Iowa Caucus looms, the political landscape presents formidable challenges for DeSantis. With Trump appearing nearly unbeatable in virtually every state or national poll, DeSantis’ campaign is fast approaching a critical juncture: a full month of nasty and bitter campaigning in which he finds himself sandwiched between a gloating Trump and a surging Haley, a looming reality check at the Iowa Caucus, and then what looks like a long and painful stretch of unfavorable early states before Super Tuesday. Despite the tough challenges, DeSantis has a path forward, but a lot of things need to go his way: the Iowa Caucus, the upcoming 2024 Legislative Session in Florida, and whatever groundwork and organization his previously well-funded campaign managed to invest in and build out before Super Tuesday.

Infrastructure’s role in fueling Florida’s economic growth” via Ananth Prasad for Florida Politics — Florida 2030 Blueprint emphasizes the need for expanded public transit systems, improved road networks, and upgraded utilities to meet the demands of a rapidly growing population. By expanding and improving transportation networks, such as highways, railways, seaports and airports, Florida can continue to attract businesses and talent, facilitate trade and stimulate economic activity, leading to increased employment opportunities and enhanced productivity. Florida’s tourism industry, a major driver of the state’s economy, heavily relies on efficient infrastructure. Florida’s unique geography also exposes it to natural disasters, making resilient infrastructure necessary. Prioritizing development across Florida ensures both access and opportunity can stimulate economic diversification and enhance overall prosperity in the state.

Florida’s Supreme Court must protect voters from DeSantis’ overreach” via Miriam Aroni Krinsky and Barbara Pariente for the Orlando Sentinel — This case tests the constitutionality of the Governor’s suspension of Monique Worrell, the duly-elected State Attorney from the 9th Judicial Circuit, which includes Orange and Osceola counties. Voters overwhelmingly elected Worrell in 2020 based on her promise to promote public safety, justice and equity by meeting the needs of victims, prioritizing the most serious cases and investing in communities. Yet, the Governor decided that he knew better than the people of Orange and Osceola counties.

Florida’s fortress of secrecy faces new challenges” via Steve Bousquet of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — In just a few years, DeSantis has erected a fortress of secrecy in Tallahassee by persistently stonewalling or denying requests for public information, forcing news organizations and members of the public to file costly and time-consuming lawsuits. And even after all that, the requested information often is still not forthcoming. In an important case, the Washington Post is fighting the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) for records the paper first sought last February. After four months of waiting, the Post lost patience and filed a lawsuit, accusing FDLE of unlawfully refusing to comply with Florida public records laws. The motto on The Washington Post masthead, “Democracy dies in darkness,” has seldom seemed more relevant than in this case. But “Democracy dies under DeSantis” would be more like it.

This holiday season, give the gift of books banned in Florida” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — Collier County has been at the front of Florida’s book-banning movement but is hardly alone. Seminole County has banned or restricted more than 80 books. “We’re at 97 books removed!!!” that county’s laughably named Moms for Liberty group cheered on its Facebook page earlier this month. These folks don’t just want the liberty to keep their kids ignorant, but yours as well. What a warped version of freedom. That’s why this holiday season might be a good time to buy some of the books being censored in Florida as gifts for others.



— ALOE —

Streamsong golf resort ready to open funky little fourth course called The Chain” via Joel Helm of The Lakeland Ledger — It wasn’t particularly long ago, even within the last decade, that the business of golf appeared to be in trouble. Smack in the middle of this slowdown, in what seemed to be a bold commitment to a struggling sport, The Mosaic Co. announced grand plans in 2010 to build one of the largest golf resorts in the state of Florida, 22.4 miles from the nearest Publix grocery store. To make things even more perplexing, Mosaic wasn’t even in the golf business. It’s an international mining outfit, the single largest producer of phosphate and potash in the United States and a Fortune 500 company with billions in revenue.

Streamsong opens a quirky fourth course.

Toughness from Tate Rodemaker symbolizes the strength, identity of FSU football” via Ehsan Kassim of the Tallahassee Democrat — “Florida State is not for everyone.” It’s the phrase FSU football head coach Mike Norvell has said several times over and over the last couple of seasons about his rebuilding program. Quarterback Rodemaker had his head sandwiched between two Gator defenders on a third-down run. For the second straight week, an FSU quarterback lay on the turf with a potentially serious injury. However, after just three snaps, Rodemaker re-emerged into the Seminole huddle. FSU players were “Finishing for 13” and injured star quarterback Jordan Travis, but Rodemaker played with Travis’ mentality, of never being truly out.


‘Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade’ draws its biggest TV audience ever” via James Hibberd of The Hollywood Reporter — Christmas came early for NBC: The network’s annual telecast of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade delivered the biggest ratings ever. The 97th annual parade was seen by 28.5 million viewers and earned a hefty 7.2 rating in the 18-49 age demo. Both numbers are up 6% from last year’s parade. It was also the highest-rated entertainment program of the year in both categories across all broadcast and cable. The record is particularly impressive at a time when even major live events have witnessed ratings erosion in recent years.

Macy’s Parade has a blockbuster year.

The problem with turkey trots” via Taylor Kay Phillips of The Atlantic — This is the turkey trot, typically a 5- to 10-kilometer race, perhaps done for charity, which has become a delightfully contentious holiday tradition much like crack-of-dawn Black Friday lines and marshmallow topping on sweet potatoes. Participants look forward to the goofy costumes and collective endorphin rush; detractors consider the type of person who would voluntarily trade the extra holiday sleep for a cold jog that costs money to be a different species entirely. turkey trots around the country are still sometimes touted as ways to “earn your Thanksgiving dinner,” “burn some pre-feast calories,” or feel “guilt melt away.”


Best wishes to lobbyist Adam Basford, Halsey Beshears, Beth Boyd, Danny Burgess‘ better half, Courtney, ace reporter John Kennedy, Jon Kile, Ben Pollara, Ann Orner, Curtis Stokes, Robert Stuart Sr., and political consultant Mark Zubaly.


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
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