Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.
Editor’s note: Sunburn is taking Friday off so Phil Ammann, AKA the man who makes the trains run on time, and his wife, Margaret, can properly celebrate their anniversary. The morning read of what’s hot in Florida Politics will be back in your inbox Monday morning.
Political drama isn’t going on holiday break just yet.
It was already presumed to be a big day in Sunshine State politics, given that Gov. Ron DeSantis and his California counterpart, Gavin Newsom, are set to go mano a mano in a nationally televised debate.
The DeSantis 2024 team has likely been banking on the airtime to give the Governor’s seemingly foundering campaign a shot in the arm.
Alas, he’s finding himself splitting headlines with another Florida Republican. The only upshot, if you can call it that, is that it’s not Donald Trump this time. Instead its Republican Party of Florida Chair Christian Ziegler.
Political junkies outside of Florida had to learn how to pronounce his last name under unideal circumstances. Namely, that he is facing accusations of sexual battery.
First reported by The Trident, a news section for the the Florida Center for Government Accountability, Ziegler’s accuser had reportedly been in a longtime, consensual polyamorous relationship with Christian Ziegler and his wife, Bridget Ziegler.
Few details on the alleged sexual battery have been disclosed to the public and the police report based on the accuser’s complaint is almost entirely redacted. Still, the words “rape” and “sexual assault complaint” were among the few Sarasota police didn’t mask with a digital Sharpie.
Though Christian Ziegler denies the allegations and his attorney expects him to be “completely exonerated,” his high station in GOP politics and his wife’s status as a Sarasota School Board member and co-founder of Moms For Liberty — an organization that has worked to ban books with “inappropriate” content, such as ménage à trois scenes, from schools — elicited cries of hypocrisy from across the aisle.
It likely also spurred some anxiety during the final few hours of DeSantis’ debate prep.
Political onlookers will see whether the California Governor tries to use the latest Florida Man story to weigh down the presidential aspirant when the debate kicks off at 9 p.m. on Fox News (6 if you’re tuning in from Cali).
—”‘A brilliant move’: How the Newsom-DeSantis debate offers major upsides for the governors” via Taryn Luna of the Los Angeles Times
—”Debating Ron DeSantis could benefit Gavin Newsom’s political ambitions” via Marisa Lagos of NPR
—”Now it’s Nikki Haley” via John Hendrickson of The Atlantic
—”U.S. stops helping Big Tech spot foreign meddling amid GOP legal threats” via Naomi Nix and Cat Zakrzewski of The Washington Post
—”Florida Supreme Court rules that police can’t hide identity behind Marsy’s Law” via Romy Ellenbogen of the Tampa Bay Times
—“What Henry Kissinger wrought” via Dylan Matthews of Vox
—”Henry Kissinger always tended to his image, even when it came to his obituary” via David E. Sanger of The New York Times
Quote of the Day
“There were two years worth of legislative victories marked up or put on the scoreboard in one particular Session.”
—House Speaker Pro Tempore Chuck Clemens, speaking on the 2023 Session during Florida TaxWatch’s annual meeting.
Put It on the Tab
Look to your left, then look to your right. If you see one of these people at your happy hour haunt, flag down the bartender and put one of these on your tab. Recipes included, just in case the Cocktail Codex fell into the well.
Pour DeSantis a corpse reviver or an upside down margarita after a UNF PORL shows him underwater 47%-48% disapproval among voters. At least DeSantis can rest easy about his popularity among Republicans.
Florida Democratic Party Chair Nkki Fried may want to sip on a Sloe Gin Fizz when she watches the DeSantis-Neswom debate tonight given that she predicted it will be the next step in the Governor’s “slow humiliation” on the national stage.
Raise a glass of St. Ide’s Ice Tea (Georgia Peach or Wild Raspberry) after a new poll found two-thirds support for a proposed constitutional amendment legalizing recreational marijuana. The 28% who are opposed? Well, they can drink some tap water.
6 p.m. — NCAAM: Liberty Flames @ Florida Atlantic Owls
7 p.m. — NCAAW: Arkansas Razorbacks @ Florida State Seminoles
7 p.m. — Florida Panthers @ Montreal Canadiens
7 p.m. — Seattle Kraken @ Tampa Bay Lightning
7:30 p.m. — Indiana Pacers @ Miami Heat
Last Call is published by Peter Schorsch, assembled and edited by Phil Ammann and Drew Wilson, with contributions from the staff of Florida Politics.