Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 12.4.23

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

Good Monday morning.

A majority of voters think electric vehicle drivers aren’t paying their fair share to maintain state roadways, according to new polling commissioned by the Florida Transportation Builders’ Association.

Road construction and maintenance are partly funded by fuel taxes, which EV drivers do not pay. According to the survey, conducted by Cygnal, nearly three-quarters (73%) of voters say EV drivers should have to pay an annual registration fee to cover lost fuel tax revenues. Nearly the same amount (72%) say it’s unfair that there isn’t a fee in place already.

“Florida builds and maintains its road through a statewide gas tax, so as more and more Floridians choose to drive electric vehicles and purchase less gas, it presents a growing problem for our state,” said Sally Patrenos, president of Floridians for Better Transportation.

Most Floridians feel EV drivers must pay their fair share.

“Without addressing this issue, transportation infrastructure investments in Florida will suffer. Florida voters recognize the unfairness of this current system — with electric vehicle owners benefiting from the use of roads without contributing to their expense — and clearly support Florida’s leaders taking action to ensure all drivers are paying to use and maintain the transportation infrastructure we all share.”

The Cygnal poll also found that 67% of Florida voters support using gas tax revenues to invest in transportation infrastructure, rather than for other purposes.

Further, 86% of those polled said they believe more money needs to be invested in transportation infrastructure improvements to make Florida’s roads safer and easier to use as the state’s population continues to grow and more vehicles travel on its roadways. Additionally, 75% of voters support building new highways to help alleviate traffic, improve commerce and connect regions.

“Floridians see how our state is growing, and they not only understand but strongly support investing in the transportation infrastructure needed to support that growth, ease congestion and maintain the safety of our roadways,” Patrenos said. “Until another method of collecting fees to fund infrastructure development for use of our roads is developed, we support an annual fee on vehicles that currently pay nothing.”

The Cygnal poll was conducted from Oct. 10-12. It has a sample size of 801 likely general election voters in Florida. The margin of error is +/- 3.32%.

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The watchdog group Common Cause is promoting its Florida Program Director Amy Keith to become its state Executive Director.

She is credited with, among other items, leading the effort against a bill (SB 1220/HB 991) that would have lowered the threshold for suing journalists for defamation and set the stage for upending the 59-year-old precedent set in the U.S. Supreme Court ruling New York Times v. Sullivan.

Common Cause is giving a boost to Florida Program Director Amy Keith.

“Amy’s two decades of coalition-building experience will serve the people of Florida well in her new role,” said Common Cause interim Co-President Marilyn Carpinteyro. “Amy has already notched important pro-democracy victories — including protecting the freedom of speech, spearheading statewide voter protection efforts, and challenging gerrymandered voting maps in court.”

Keith took the stand in federal court as part of the lawsuit challenging Gov. Ron DeSantis’ redistricting effort that resulted in the district that elected U.S. Rep. Al Lawson being divided up into conservative districts White Republicans represent.

Keith also led a nonpartisan coalition of more than 40 organizations that protected access to the ballot by training poll monitors and staffing polls to help people during early voting and on Election Day in the Midterm elections.

“I am proud of the organization’s legacy and honored to be selected to help further it as the next Executive Director,” Keith said. “Common Cause has a long and impressive history of fighting for a more inclusive democracy in Florida, from Sunshine Laws to the Fair Districts Amendments, to election protection. Florida faces critical challenges in 2024, and I am ready to lead our Common Cause team as we continue to hold our leaders accountable so all Floridians can make their voices heard.”

Before she joined Common Cause, Keith had a 20-year career in international crisis response and refugee protection. She also worked with leading election protection with the League of Women Voters. A resident of St. Petersburg, she holds a master’s in public administration from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from Bates College.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

Tweet, tweet:

@GovRonDeSantis: What we learned today is that you can go undefeated and win your conference championship game, but the College Football Playoff committee will ignore these results. Congratulations to @FSUFootball on an outstanding season and winning the ACC championship!

@ScottforFlorida: The @CFBPlayoff has robbed the undefeated @FSUFootball from the opportunity of being national champions. This team has given everything they had each week on the field and today’s decision is disgraceful.

@ByronDonalds: The CFP committee is trash! 1. @FSUFootball is undefeated. 2. FSU won the conference championship with a 3rd string QB. 3. Texas was never ranked ahead of FSU all year. 4. FSU didn’t need a hail mary to survive rivalry week, like Alabama did. Plus, we won with the 2nd string QB!

@JaredEMoskowitz: I am circulating a letter and will be doing a resolution condemning @NCAAFootball @NCAA decision to leave @FSUFootball out of the playoffs. This decision is about TV money, a corrupt decision for college athletics.

Tweet, tweet:

@csime90: The corruption of college football rears its ugly head again. ESPN and Disney have a vested interest in the SEC participating in the CFP. Lawsuits should be filed tomorrow

Tweet, tweet:

@jaygalbraith: So, question if “other relevant factors kept FSU out … what about Michigans play stealing scandal that could more than likely require serious coach penalties and forfeiture of games — #CFB2023 #CFBPicks #MichiganFootball #FSUFootball @BianchiWrites

@unclelukereal1: I am a Hurricane fan we are not supposed to root for @FSUFootball but right is right and wrong is wrong. They just robbed these kids. Undefeated conference champions Because they lost one player and played stellar defense, I guess all of a sudden is not a team sport.

@mikemoore2014: Remember when @UCF_Football @UCFKnights finished the regular season 12—0, their second 12-win season, won the @theACC championship and also beat one of the top teams in the Nation? Then got snubbed for the @CFBPlayoff? Hurts a lot doesn’t it @FSUFootball & @GeorgiaFootball fans? Now, everyone’s upset :). #cfbplayoff #UCF #FSU

Tweet, tweet:

— DAYS UNTIL —

Florida TaxWatch’s 2023 Government Productivity Awards Ceremony — 2; in-person sports betting begins at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Tampa — 4; 2023 Florida Chamber Annual Insurance Summit — 10; Zack Snyder’s ‘Rebel Moon’ premieres — 18; Michael Mann’s ‘Ferrari’ premieres — 21; Matt Dixon’s ‘Swamp Monsters: (Donald) Trump vs. DeSantis ― the Greatest Show on Earth (or at Least in Florida)’ released — 36; 2024 Florida Chamber Legislative Fly-In and reception — 36; Florida’s 2024 Regular Session begins — 36; 2024 Primetime Emmy Awards — 42; House District 35 Special Election — 43; Florida TaxWatch’s State of the Taxpayer Dinner — 44; New Hampshire Primary — 50; Red Dog Blue Dog 2024 — 41; South Carolina Democratic Primary — 61; New Hampshire and Nevada Democratic Primaries — 64; South Carolina GOP holds first-in-the-South Primary — 82; Michigan Democratic Primary — 85; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 88; Trump’s D.C. trial on charges related to trying to reverse his 2020 Election loss — 91; Super Tuesday — 92; 2024 Oscars — 97; Georgia Democratic Primary — 99; 2024 Leadership Conference on Safety, Health & Sustainability — 157; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 171; ‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ premieres — 206; Republican National Convention begins — 224; ‘Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 235; Alien: Romulus’ premieres — 256; Georgia Tech to face Florida State in 2024 opener in Dublin — 264; Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour stops in Miami — 319; 2024 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 322; Las Vegas Grand Prix — 353; ‘Captain America: Brave New World’ premieres — 438; ‘Moana’ premieres — 571; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 599; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 704; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 704; ‘Avatar 3’ premieres — 746; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 879; Untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 905; Another untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 1,110; ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,250; ‘Avatar 4’ premieres — 2,209; ‘Avatar 5’ premieres — 2,937.

— TOP STORY —

Kathleen Passidomo leads fresh call for Christian Ziegler’s resignation” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Senate President Passidomo told Florida Politics she agrees with DeSantis that a rape accusation makes it impossible for him to lead the Party and that dealing with his legal troubles will require Zeigler’s full attention.

Her remarks came after DeSantis said Ziegler should step down.

“The Governor is the leader of our Party,” Passidomo said. “I agree with his position. The allegations are serious.”

Kathleen Passidomo adds her voice to the voices condemning the Zieglers.

A woman told Sarasota Police that Ziegler raped her Oct. 2. A search warrant used to obtain digital information from Ziegler’s electronic devices confirms he was at the woman’s home at the time in question. Ziegler and his wife, Sarasota School Board Member Bridget Ziegler, confirmed to police that both had been involved in a prior sexual encounter with the woman on at least one occasion a year before.

Nearly two months after the accusation was filed with police, no charges have been filed, but Ziegler remains under active criminal investigation.

To date, he has rebuffed DeSantis’ call for his resignation.

Passidomo, a Naples Republican, is now the most prominent state lawmaker to date to call for Ziegler to step aside. But other elected officials have also said he needs to resign.

State Sen. Dennis Baxley, an Ocala Republican, agreed Ziegler must go. When asked by Florida Politics if Ziegler should resign, Baxley replied “Yes. Unfortunately. Very sad.”

But not everyone in Florida GOP circles is calling for Ziegler’s head.

State Rep. Alex Andrade, a Pensacola Republican, said such calls are premature, noting Ziegler for the moment only faces an accusation of a crime.

911 tape released in criminal investigation of Florida GOP Chair Ziegler. ‘She told me she was raped yesterday and she’s scared to leave her house.’” via Bob Norman of The Trident — The 911 call, made Oct. 4 at 2:46 p.m., reveals the caller was concerned about the mental health of the woman, who isn’t being identified due to the nature of the investigation. “I was hoping to do a wellness on a friend of mine,” the caller began. “She hasn’t shown up for work the past two days and I just got off the phone with her and she sounds drunk … I know she has pain medication on her, and she told me that she doesn’t think she can do it anymore.” … “She won’t answer anyone else at work except for me but she told me she was raped yesterday and that she’s scared to leave her house,” said the caller. “ … She’s saying she’s scared that — the person that raped her came to her house — that she’s scared to leave.”

To listen to the 911 call (via the Sarasota Herald-Tribune), please click the image below:

Ziegler bucks Ron DeSantis’ call to resign as Florida GOP Chair” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis may want him gone, but the Florida Republican Party Chair isn’t going. In an email Saturday to members of the party, Ziegler communicated no plans to resign in the wake of a police report in which a complainant accuses him of sexual assault. He thanks “all who have reached out in support,” calling it “humbling and frankly surprising to have so many people reach out in support by email, text and phone calls.”

Matt Gaetz says ‘wait for the facts’ amid Ziegler rape accusations” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — U.S. Rep. Gaetz won’t join calls for Ziegler to resign. “Given my experience, I tend to wait for the facts to come out before rendering judgment,” Gaetz said. Of course, Gaetz has a history of surviving embarrassing sex scandals that once bore the threat of criminal prosecution. In 2021, news broke that federal prosecutors were targeting Gaetz in a sex trafficking case.

Fentrice Driskell warns keeping Ziegler as Florida GOP Chair would send ‘chilling message’ to women” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — On Sunday, House Democratic Leader Driskell joined a growing chorus of Sunshine State officials demanding that Ziegler step down amid accusations of rape. To not do so, she said, would be telling roughly half the state’s residents that justice for sexual crimes against them is less important to Republicans than maintaining powerful political positions. “Christian Ziegler must resign,” Driskell said on X. “To not step away would send a chilling message to the women of Florida about how the Republican Party views sexual assault.”

— THE TRAIL —

DeSantis super PAC suffers another big staff loss, this time its Chair” via Jonathan Swan, Shane Goldmacher and Maggie Haberman of The New York Times — Adam Laxalt, a friend and former roommate of the Florida Governor, has stepped down as Chair of the group. Laxalt joined Never Back Down in April, soon after his own campaign ended and before DeSantis officially joined the presidential race, in a move that was widely seen as DeSantis and his wife seeking to have someone they trusted monitoring the activities of the well-funded group. He also suffered the unexpected death of his mother over the Summer, a friend said. “After nearly 26 straight months of being in a full-scale campaign, I need to return my time and attention to my family and law practice,” Laxalt wrote in a letter to the Board on Nov. 26.

Adam Laxalt backs down from Never Back Down.

—“Three officials left the pro-DeSantis super PAC in the group’s latest shake-up” via The Associated Press 

Americans For Prosperity poll finds Nikki Haley leading DeSantis in Iowa, New Hampshire” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Americans for Prosperity Action endorsed Haley over DeSantis recently, and new polling they released seems to corroborate that at least when it comes to Iowa and New Hampshire, the Koch Network group made the right move. “In these states, a clear trend can be seen in terms of growing support for Haley and shrinking support for DeSantis among GOP primary and caucusgoers, with Haley growing from single digits in early August to now being in second place. In contrast, in this same time period, DeSantis has been static or shrinking,” reads a polling memo from Michael Palmer, AFPA senior adviser.

DeSantis finishes his Iowa 99, hoping for a bump against Donald Trump” via Kellen Browning of The New York Times — DeSantis took the stage in Jasper County in Iowa on Saturday, heralding his appearance as the culmination of his tour of the state’s 99 counties, and hoping to inject enthusiasm into his well-funded but struggling presidential campaign. DeSantis said he was fulfilling his campaign’s promise to complete the “Full Grassley,” so named because the state’s long-serving Senator, Chuck Grassley, visits every Iowa county each year, and positioned himself as the candidate of humility, willing to travel the state and meet voters, in contrast to Trump, who has largely eschewed the retail politics of the state.

DeSantis tells Iowans ‘consultants’ advised against ‘The Full Grassley’” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis finished his 99th and final Iowa county Saturday. He was advised that the Pokemon Go-style “Gotta Catch Them All” approach to campaigning may not have been the wisest approach. DeSantis told Iowans Saturday that he saw the loop to “get out of the media fog” and “listen to real Americans,” noting that certain political professionals thought visiting the entire state was not the best investment of time. “A lot of campaign consultants will tell you that you can be in more populated areas, or you can even get into other states and sometimes they will advise you not to do it,” he said, regarding the so-called “full Grassley.”

DeSantis offers to move part of U.S. Ag Department to Iowa as part of relocation policy” via Phillip Sitter of the Des Moines Register — DeSantis said he would offer to at least partially relocate the U.S. Department of Agriculture to Iowa if he is elected President, part of a federal agency relocation policy he shared Saturday while celebrating the completion of his visit to all 99 Iowa counties. DeSantis, his campaign and supporters celebrated in Newton his touted completion of a “Full Grassley” tour to all of Iowa’s counties. “We have to take power out of Washington, D.C., and send it to other parts of the country,” DeSantis said. As President, “I’m going to order all of our cabinet secretaries to reduce their agency’s footprint in Washington, D.C., by at least 50%.”

DeSantis says it would take ‘five minutes’ to ‘flatten’ the Bahamas if they attacked Florida” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis continues to flesh out the seemingly unlikely scenario of a Bahamian attack on the United States, saying it wouldn’t take long to make residents of the island archipelago regret it. DeSantis is telling Iowans that it would, in fact, take just “five minutes” to “flatten” the commonwealth. “If people were firing rockets from the Bahamas into like Fort Lauderdale, we would never allow that. I mean, we would flatten them. Within like five minutes, we would flatten them,” he said. DeSantis continues to use this metaphor to draw a parallel between hypothetical attacks on the U.S. from Nassau and the situation in Israel.

DeSantis says he would pass a bill to ‘supersede’ Obamacare” via Maggie Astor of The New York Times — DeSantis said on Sunday that, if elected President, he would pursue legislation that would “supersede” the Affordable Care Act, echoing Trump’s comments, which Democrats seized upon last week. “What I think they’re going to need to do is have a plan that will supersede Obamacare, that will lower prices for people so that they can afford health care, while also making sure that people with preexisting conditions are protected,” DeSantis said. He went on to say that repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act was a broken promise from Trump’s 2016 campaign.

—“DeSantis’ health care plan remarks spark mockery” via Rachel Dobkin of Newsweek 

DeSantis floats ‘clemency’ for people who didn’t like their jury pool” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis is betting that Iowans will be interested in vacating convictions for people who believe their guilt was determined by the whims of the “ruling elite.” During remarks Sunday in Eldridge, Iowa, DeSantis floated the idea of “clemency” for people on the right who were convicted by judges and juries that don’t share their ideological leans. “There needs to be one standard of justice in this country. And so, if somebody is prosecuted or has been convicted and they can show that they were treated (disfavorably) because they’re in a faction of society that the ruling elites don’t like, then I think they would be eligible to potentially get clemency and get some relief,” DeSantis said.

Haley’s GOP ascent adds to the well-deserved humiliation of desperate DeSantis” via Rex Huppke of USA Today — If current trends hold, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Haley will stand on the GOP Primary debate stage Wednesday and give DeSantis a wedgie before stuffing him in a locker. Such is the state of Haley’s rise in the Republican primary race and DeSantis’ ongoing parade of humiliations. Along with strong poll numbers, Haley received a huge boost last week when the influential and deep-pocketed Koch political network endorsed her, presumably leaving DeSantis — once hailed as the Republican Party’s next big thing — to reckon with the fact that few people actually like him (whomp-whomp).

As Nikki Haley rises, Ron DeSantis seems desperate.

Haley has ‘all of the momentum’ ahead of latest GOP debate, but still faces tough path to toppling Trump” via Victor Reklaitis of Marketwatch — As the Republican presidential Primary’s fourth debate approaches, Haley looks like she’s winning the battle to become the main challenger to front-runner Trump, but that could be as far as she gets. “She’s the one with all of the momentum right now,” said Melissa Miller, a professor of Political Science at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, noting that the Koch network’s endorsement last week is a big help on the funding front. However, Haley’s headaches include the fact that the 2024 primary debates don’t count as “must-see TV” because Trump continues to skip them.

Ohio Republican Party backs Trump despite DeSantis’ ‘Rust Belt’ roots” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Trump has the GOP behind him in the Buckeye State, delivering a blow to DeSantis in a state where he has played up his family ties. The Ohio Republican Party is endorsing Trump, making the unusual decision to do so ahead of the state’s Presidential Primary on March 19, an event when 78 delegates will be allocated to the winner. In a statement, the party Chair said the former President is the “right choice for the moment.” The endorsement of Trump comes after a number of polls have shown he’s the choice of Republicans in the state.

DeSantis predicts Iowa win as political operation backing campaign fractures” via John McCormick, Alex Leary and Kimberly S. Johnson of The Wall Street Journal — DeSantis declined in an interview broadcast Sunday to say whether he will step aside if he fails to secure a win or second place showing in the Jan. 15 Iowa caucuses, as he tries to fight off a strong challenge from Nikki Haley to be the only serious alternative to Trump in the Republican Presidential Primary race. “We’re going to win Iowa,” DeSantis said. “It’s going to help propel us to the nomination. But I think we’ll have a lot of work that we’ll have to do beyond that. I don’t think you take anything for granted.” DeSantis and Haley are set to appear in a debate in Alabama on Wednesday that might feature as few as three candidates.

—”Trump and DeSantis make dueling campaign appearances in Iowa” via NBC Today

DeSantis questions trajectory of Joe Biden impeachment inquiry” via Ramsey Touchberry of The Washington Times — DeSantis on Sunday cautioned House Republicans against formalizing their impeachment inquiry into Biden. DeSantis said the prospect of holding an official vote to authorize an inquiry, which the chamber has not done, has the potential to backfire on Republicans in an election year because voters want them to focus on other issues. “I think that the Biden family, the amount of money that’s flowed into that family, to me, is corrupt. I think that it’s not been explained in ways that make any sense. So, opening an inquiry, based on the facts that we have, I think would be justifiable,” DeSantis said. “However, I think they run the risk of doing an inquiry that doesn’t necessarily lead anywhere while they’ve been ignoring a lot of the problems that our voters are talking about.”

DeSantis ‘joke’ about Colorado GOP Primary falls flat on internet” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — The DeSantis campaign is focused on Iowa Saturday, but they find themselves explaining away a new attempt of humor targeted toward another state. In a surprisingly deadpan twist, the operator of DeSantis’ X account quoted text from the Colorado Republican Party directing candidates qualifying for the state’s Presidential Primary to project enthusiasm on social media. “To qualify for the CO Primary ballot, the state party requires that candidates post something on social media that announces their excitement while encouraging their followers to follow the state party’s social media accounts for updates about the state party primary and events,” the post reads, before offering enthusiasm that accords with the party’s stipulation.

— MORE 2024 —

Florida Democratic Party says Biden is the only candidate, angering rivals” via Azi Paybarah of The Washington Post — With Presidential Primaries looming, there is only one name on the official list of Democratic presidential candidates in Florida, Biden, a move that angered the incumbent’s long shot challengers, who say they’re being unfairly left out. The decision is the latest setback for Rep. Dean Phillips and Marianne Williamson, both of whom trail Biden in public polling and fundraising. Under Florida rules, the state’s party votes on who will appear on primary ballots. Florida’s Democratic Party said in a statement Friday that the executive committee voted unanimously late last month to name Biden and only Biden, to its list of candidates.

Are Democrats brushing off Dean Phillips and Marianne Williamson?

Trump attempts to rebut Biden’s attack that he is a threat to democracy” via Kate Sullivan of CNN — Trump on Saturday offered his most forceful rebuttal to Biden’s argument that a second Trump term would threaten American democracy. Trump argued to a crowd of supporters in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, that Biden was the one who posed a threat to U.S. democracy and that his administration was full of “criminals.” “This campaign is a righteous crusade to liberate our republic from Biden and the criminals in the Biden administration,” Trump, who faces 91 criminal charges across four cases, told the crowd gathered at a community college gymnasium. Trump has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Trump calls Biden the ‘destroyer’ of democracy despite his own efforts to overturn 2020 Election” via Nicholas Riccardi and Michelle L. Price of The Associated Press — Trump on Saturday attempted to turn the tables on his likely rival in November, Biden, arguing that the man whose election victory Trump tried to overturn is “the destroyer of American democracy.” Trump’s allegations about Biden, a Democrat, echo the ones that Biden has been making for years against his predecessor. As Trump has dominated the Republican Presidential Primary and talked about targeting his rivals and the news media if he wins the White House again, Biden has stepped up his own warnings, contending Trump is “determined to destroy American democracy.”

—“Lindsey Graham fires back at Liz Cheney’s warning about Trump presidency” via CNN

‘Moderate’ or Roe v Wade killer: can Trump have it both ways on abortion?” via Carter Sherman of The Guardian — A few months ago, Trump accused the Republican Party of speaking “very inarticulately” on abortion. And yet, for the GOP front-runner, inarticulateness seems to be a feature, not a bug, of his own approach to abortion. Trump thinks he can run in 2024 as a “moderate” on abortion, Rolling Stone reported this week — even though he’s currently running ads in Iowa, a crucial state in the Republican primary, proclaiming himself “the most pro-life President ever.” It’s a title to which Trump has a legitimate claim: his three nominees to the Supreme Court not only handed the nation’s highest court a definitive conservative majority, but all three voted to overturn Roe v Wade in the Summer of 2022.

On abortion, Donald Trump is all over the map.

Trump denied immunity against U.S. election subversion charges” via Zoe Tillman of Bloomberg — Trump is not entitled to absolute presidential immunity against criminal charges over his efforts to overturn the 2020 Presidential Election, a federal judge ruled, saying the office doesn’t come with a “lifelong ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ pass.” U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan on Friday rejected Trump’s early efforts to get the federal indictment against him in Washington tossed out, including his contention that he could not be prosecuted over actions he took after the 2020 Election while he was President. Trump’s “four-year service as Commander in Chief did not bestow on him the divine right of kings to evade the criminal accountability that governs his fellow citizens,” the judge wrote.

Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger calls out Elon Musk, DeSantis” via Daniel Kline of The Street — Walt Disney’s CEO has made clear that he’s not looking to make new enemies or do anything that would limit the company’s potential audience. The two-time Mouse House boss, however, has never been shy about defending his company against attacks. That’s reflected in its long-standing battle with DeSantis. The Disney boss took a similar tone toward Musk, the CEO of Tesla and owner of X (formerly Twitter), during his speech at The New York Times Dealbook Summit. Iger was not being confrontational, but he showed that he also wasn’t backing down and would defend Disney’s right to speak out on politics when it makes business sense.

— DESANTISY LAND —

Florida appeals court sides with DeSantis, reverses ruling on congressional map” via Gary Fineout of POLITICO — A state appeals court on Friday overturned a ruling that declared DeSantis’ congressional map unconstitutional, setting the stage for the legal battle to finally head to the conservative-leaning state Supreme Court. The map pushed by DeSantis dismantled the North Florida seat of former Rep. Al Lawson, a Black Democrat, and resulted in Republicans gaining four seats that helped the GOP flip the U.S. House during the 2022 midterm elections. A circuit court judge back in August said the map violated Florida’s constitution and ordered that legislators redraw it.

DeSantis says ’48 hours’ in Iraq taught him it would never be a democracy” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — The United States invested many years, billions of dollars, and the best years of many military members and lives of many others in its actions in Iraq. But the only military veteran in the presidential race says just a couple of days on the ground should have taught policymakers that the country would never be a Western-style democracy. Citing George W. Bush’s canard that the country had “weapons of mass destruction that didn’t necessarily materialize,” DeSantis noted the mission evolved to a perceived need for “a democracy in Iraq.” “So, these are people that were thinking, you know, you can overthrow somebody and impose an American-style democracy in the Middle East. I can tell you when you’re on the ground there for like 48 hours, you realize that was not in the cards,” DeSantis said.

Two days was enough for Ron DeSantis to make a conclusion about Iraq.

In Florida’s hot political climate, some faculty have had enough” via Stephanie Saul of The New York Times — Many professors are giving up coveted tenured positions and blaming their departures on DeSantis and his effort to reshape the higher education system to fit his conservative principles. At the University of Florida, overall turnover went from 7% in 2021 to 9.3% in 2023. At Florida State University, the vice president for faculty development, Janet Kistner, commented during a faculty senate meeting in September that the “political climate in Florida” had contributed to an upswing in faculty turnover, with 37 professors leaving for reasons other than retirement in the past year compared to an average of 23 during the past five years.

The DeSantis-Gavin Newsom debate had no rules, no metrics and no winner” via Lili Loofbourow of The Washington Post — The moderator, Sean Hannity, began the evening by announcing he’d be putting his conservatism aside to focus on “fact-based perspectives.” Then he framed each question to depict California in the worst possible light and Florida in the best. Repeatedly saying he had no wish to be a hall monitor, Hannity refused to enforce time limits, but tended to let DeSantis talk over Newsom while preventing the latter from responding. While DeSantis hoped to dominate a blue-state Governor to distinguish himself in a crowded field of candidates, Newsom hoped to embarrass DeSantis, but clearly also saw himself as a Biden ambassador to Fox News audiences.

DeSantis’ campaign may have flunked its final test after Newsom debate” via Jake Lahut of the Daily Beast — The DeSantis campaign underwent its own version of a final exam on Thursday night, and it did not go well for DeSantis. Billed as the “Red State vs. Blue State Debate” by Fox News moderator Sean Hannity, DeSantis was thoroughly trounced at various points by Newsom. “By the way, how’s that going for you, Ron?” Newsom deadpanned at one point, reminding DeSantis he’s running more than 40 points behind Trump in his home state of Florida.

Grades are in for DeSantis’ debate and it’s not looking good.

Jordan Travis, DeSantis react as Florida State snubbed by College Football Playoffs” via Ehsan Kassim of the Tallahassee Democrat — Travis was in disbelief at the news. “Devastated. heartbroken,” Travis wrote on his X account. “In so much disbelief rn, I wish my leg broke earlier in the season so y’all could see this team is much more than the quarterback. I thought results matter. 13-0 and this roster matches up across any team in those top 4 rankings. I am so sorry. Go Noles!” DeSantis said, “What we learned today is that you can go undefeated and win your conference championship game, but the College Football Playoff committee will ignore these results. Congratulations to @FSUFootball on an outstanding season and winning the ACC championship.”

DeSantis claims ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ succeeded because it lacked an ‘agenda’” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis continues to extol last year’s blockbuster sequel “Top Gun: Maverick.” DeSantis again lionized the Tom Cruise movie in discussing what he believes the entertainment industry should and shouldn’t be doing. “The reason why it got a billion dollars in revenue or close to that, it was one of the top 10 movies of all time,” DeSantis said, was “because it didn’t have an agenda.” “It was just ‘OK, you know, U.S. military, you know, is patriotic, pro-military, pro-America, good storyline’ and it did phenomenal,” DeSantis recounted.

— D. C. MATTERS —

Despite Washington’s confidence, U.S. war with Iran would be disastrous” via Jordan Cohen of The Hill — Biden’s administration is publicly attempting to avoid a war with Iran, but American officials continue to fan the flames of war with incendiary rhetoric as the war in Gaza risks expanding into a broader regional conflict. For instance, on Nov. 26, Sen. Tom Cotton said the Biden administration needs to take a “massive retaliation” against Iran to end attacks on U.S. assets. Ultimately, congressmembers, the Biden administration, and former defense officials are all sharing sentiments that Washington could escalate its move toward armed conflict in the face of Iranian aggression.

Going to war against Ayatollah Ali Khamenei would not end well for the U.S.

Republicans introduce reckless resolution to stop Biden from helping 43 million Americans with student debt” via The New Republic — While the fates of 43 million people’s financial lives are in limbo as Biden’s student debt relief plan faces a challenge in the Supreme Court, Republicans are proceeding to add another direct challenge. On Monday, 39 Senate Republicans introduced a resolution to overturn Biden’s student loan forgiveness program. The challenge comes after the Government Accountability Office deemed Biden’s relief plan a “rule” and therefore eligible to be overturned through a Congressional Review Act resolution.

Kevin McCarthy limps toward possible exit from Congress after year of bruising speakership” via John Bowden of The Independent — McCarthy endured a grinding nine months as leader of a fractured and bitter Republican caucus, one that may have been destined to cast him aside from the very beginning. Following a last-minute deal with Democrats to avert a government shutdown in October, he was unceremoniously ousted by one of his most polarizing foes: Gaetz, leading a cadre of Republican malcontents with their own varying complaints about McCarthy’s leadership. It was no secret within Washington D.C. circles that McCarthy had long pined for the Speaker’s Chair.

‘To hell with this place’: George Santos sharpens attacks after expulsion” via Sam Levine of The Guardian — Santos told reporters after his expulsion he was done with Congress. “Why would I want to stay here? To hell with this place,” he told reporters outside the U.S. Capitol after the vote. By Friday evening, he was tweeting about his colleagues. He wrote on X that he would file an ethics complaint against three fellow Republicans from New York — Mike Lawler, Nicole Malliotakis and Nick LaLota — who had long pushed to oust him from Congress. He offered no proof of wrongdoing against any of the three.

George Santos has a hissy fit.

Gaetz frets about House GOP’s precarious majority after George Santos exit” via Oliver O’Connell of The Independent — Gaetz is worried. The controversial right-wing lawmaker fears that following the expulsion of disgraced former Congressman Santos, the slim Republican majority in the House of Representatives is in peril Specifically, he believes that other GOP lawmakers may also soon exit the lower chamber of Congress. Gaetz, who in October led the ousting of former Speaker McCarthy, said: “Our willingness to self-mutilate on these things really impairs our ability to get the job done.” He called the expulsion of Santos “tactically stupid” in the context of the narrow majority.

— STATEWIDE —

FDLE Deputy Chief of Staff fired after seeking whistleblower protectionsPatricia Carpenter was fired as FDLE Deputy Chief of Staff on Friday, shortly after she sought whistleblower protections over the way a public records request regarding the Governor’s travel records. Carpenter said an attorney working for FDLE was denied a promotion and raise as retaliation for a disagreement on what records were subject to public disclosure. FDLE spokesperson Gretl Plessinger and Governor’s Office spokesperson Jeremy Redfern both pushed back on Carpenter’s claims. The whistleblower claim was denied.

Lawmakers again try to overturn Florida’s ‘free kill’ law” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Bipartisan efforts are again underway to rectify a unique Florida law that prevents lawsuits in many cases of deadly medical malpractice. Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book, Rep. Mike Beltran, and Rep. Johanna López have refiled twin bills (SB 442, HB 129) to overturn the state’s so-called “free kill” law. In general, the law bars family members of people who died due to medical malpractice from suing doctors or hospitals when the victim is an unmarried adult. The law applies to anyone over the age of 25. Florida is the only state in the nation with such a restriction on its books. The law applies to anyone seeking medical help in the state, including residents and visitors.

Lauren Book, Mike Beltran and Johanna López join forces to save ‘free kill.’

Florida Medicaid, SNAP overhaul may hurt recipients, advocates warn” via Caroline Catherman of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida says it’s about to become easier to apply for and renew government assistance. Advocates say coming changes may do the opposite. The Florida Department of Children and Families on Tuesday is relaunching the website where people apply for and renew government assistance such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — also known as food stamps — and Medicaid. To enter the revamped MyACCESS portal, users need to create a new account, and then use a phone or email to confirm their identity, a process known as two-factor authentication, each time they log in. That will be the case for the over 5 million Floridians now on Medicaid, about one out of every four people in the state. In 2021, over 1 million also used cash public assistance or food stamps.

Powerful lobbying groups wrote new bill that would allow teens to work dangerous jobs” via McKenna Schueler of Orlando Weekly — As Florida’s construction and roofing industries face labor shortages exacerbated by a new state law cracking down on immigrant workers, deep-pocketed industry groups are pushing for a new solution: to add more teenagers into the labor pool. A new bill, filed by Sen. Corey Simon for consideration during the 2024 Legislative Session, would lower age requirements for working in roofing and scaffolding — jobs currently deemed too hazardous for children under existing state law. Carol Bowen, chief lobbyist for the Associated Builders and Contractors, emailed draft “Workforce Education” legislation to an aide for Sen. Simon in late October, copying another ABC lobbyist and a lobbyist for the Florida Home Builders Association.

Can Florida ensure tech advancements better connect patients and health providers?” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Technology could make health care more effective and cheaper. But what policy decisions do Florida lawmakers need to make to ensure evolutions in medical care help consumers? Sen. Jason Brodeur said the Legislature needs to take a multipronged approach to health care policy this year. “We have to continue to embrace the telemedicine that we saw was so successful during COVID,” he said. “I think a lot of the pushback we’d had prior to that was because we didn’t know better. Well, COVID forced us to start using this and nothing bad happened. So, let’s continue to expand that.

Lobbying compensation: Capital City Consulting crosses $6.3M in Q3” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Capital City Consulting earned more than $6.3 million in the third quarter, placing it among the most lucrative firms in the state. New compensation reports covering the three-month period ending Sept. 30 show Capital City Consulting netted about $3.22 million lobbying the Legislature and another $3.12 million lobbying the Governor, Cabinet and state agencies. Using median estimates, Capital City Consulting ranked No. 3 on Florida Politics’ Q3 Lobby Firm Rankings. Founded by Nick Iarossi and Ron LaFace, Capital City Consulting represents clients across a broad swath of industries, from health care and education to utilities and gaming. At the top end, the firm could have earned as much as $8.65 million in the third quarter.

Florida Mosquito Control Association installs new Board, talks disease prevention strategies at annual meeting — At its annual meeting on Nov. 13-16, the Florida Mosquito Control Association (FMCA), reviewed successes in combating invasive mosquitoes and installed new leadership for the new year. The meeting took place with over 250 attendees from mosquito control districts, higher education, young professionals and more. Working with health departments, scientists and the media, FMCA members limited health risks by deploying high-tech tools, ranging from drones in the field to disease detection in the laboratory. “For 100 years, FMCA and locally based, highly trained professionals have been at the heart of ensuring public health safety,” said outgoing President Sandra Fisher-Grainger. “While success is never final when battling the world’s most dangerous animal, Floridians can be proud of the work our tireless public servants perform 24/7.” Fisher-Grainger will also continue to serve and advise the Board as the immediate past president.

— DOWN BALLOT —

Save the date:

Support for term limits gives Anthony Sabatini an edge against CD 11 incumbent, poll shows” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Sabatini may be trailing incumbent U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster in fundraising and favorability, but new polling suggests his support for term limits may help turn the tide. The poll, commissioned by the nonpartisan advocacy group U.S. Term Limits, found Sabatini trailed Webster by 6 percentage points ahead of their clash in the GOP Primary next year for Florida’s 11th Congressional District. After respondents learned Sabatini signed a pledge to back legislation limiting federal lawmakers to three House terms and two Senate terms, however, his support skyrocketed. Upon receiving that information, 55% of respondents said they’d vote for Sabatini if the election were today. Just 18% said the same for Webster, who has served in elected office for all but three years since 1980.

Happening tonight:

and
Housing, insurance costs are high-priority issues as candidates head toward Tuesday clash for vacant HD 118 seat” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Voters on Tuesday will choose between three men, each of a different political persuasion, who are vying for a short-term stint representing House District 118. Two of the candidates, Democrat Johnny Farias and independent Francisco “Frank” De La Paz, are former Community Council members now aiming at a far loftier office. The third, Republican lawyer Mike Redondo, is hoping to succeed in his first time running for an elected post, a prospect bolstered by ample support from his state party. He’s the odds-on favorite to win, based on the district’s voting history, political composition and his sizable funding advantage.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

DeSantis appoints Keith Pearson to replace St. Lucie Sheriff after sudden retirement” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — DeSantis has named veteran cop Pearson to take over the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office following the sudden retirement of longtime Sheriff Ken Mascara. The appointment is effective at the close of business on Friday to “ensure law enforcement operations continue without delay,” DeSantis said. Pearson is a lieutenant with the St. Lucie Sheriff’s Office with more than two decades of experience in law enforcement. Recognition earned during his career include a Distinguished Service Medal from the U.S. Department of Justice and “Law Enforcement Officer of the Year” honors from the U.S. Southern District. He holds an associate degree in criminal justice from Indian River State College, a press note from the Governor’s Office said.

Keith Pearson has a new assignment.

State flags Miami tax rate as invalid, warns $56M at risk” via Florida Politics — The ripple effects of former Miami City Commissioner Alex Díaz de la Portilla’s suspension for corruption charges continue. In a letter this week, the Florida Department of Revenue (DOR) notified City Manager Art Noriega that Díaz de la Portilla’s absence from a Sept. 28 vote on Miami’s property tax rate for the current fiscal year rendered it invalid. An emergency vote must soon take place, state officials said, or the city will have to forfeit more than $56 million in tax revenue. The money at stake comes from a Miami-Dade County surtax known as the “halfpenny,” a 0.5% sales tax that voters approved in 2002 to fund transit improvements. Funds generated by the surtax pay for free Metromover service in the city, upgrades to mass transit solutions like the South Corridor and fleet vehicle replacements, among other things.

Miami faces possible $56M shortfall after state regulators say budget vote was invalid” via Joey Flechas, Tess Riski, and Sarah Blaskey of the Miami Herald — The city of Miami has been operating for two months without a valid budget and tax rate and an emergency vote is necessary to avoid forfeiting more than $56 million in tax revenue. On Monday, the Florida Department of Revenue issued a notice to City Manager Art Noriega advising that the City Commission’s Sept. 28 vote on the property tax rate to fund the $1 billion budget was not valid because only four of five commissioners participated in the vote — a result of the arrest and suspension of former Commissioner Díaz de la Portilla, who was charged with bribery, money laundering and other alleged crimes two weeks before the final budget hearing.

Palm Beach County offers 100 first-time homebuyers up to $100,000 via WPTV — Palm Beach County is offering 100 first-time homebuyers up to $100,000 each toward their new home purchase. The incentive program is being offered by the Palm Beach County Department of Housing and Economic Development. A first-time homebuyer is defined as someone who has not owned a home in the three years before the purchase of the property, according to the notice of funding availability on the county’s website.

West Palm Beach Mayor to attend international climate change conference in Dubai” via Wayne Washington of the Palm Beach Post — West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James is scheduled to participate in an international climate change conference in Dubai, his second international trip in as many years. James traveled to Israel in 2022 as part of a delegation of U.S. Mayors invited to the Middle East by the American Jewish Committee’s Project Interchange. Dubai’s COP28 conference — the 28th “conference of the parties” summit held since 150 governments signed a United Nations climate change agreement in 1992 — is scheduled to run from Nov. 30 through Dec. 12 at Expo City Dubai, an exhibition and trade center in the United Arab Emirates. James left for Dubai and is scheduled to return on Dec. 7.

Keith James heads abroad to learn more about climate change.

Weather for December in South Florida expected to be wetter than normal with El Niño” via Kimberly Miller of The Palm Beach Post — There won’t be a white Christmas for South Florida, but it may be a soggy one as a brawny El Niño digs in, encouraging showers and storminess in the long-range forecast. The Climate Prediction Center is calling for an up to 70% chance of above-normal rainfall for the Sunshine State in the days between Dec. 16 to Dec. 29, which would follow a pattern for the southeast coast of plentiful rain this dry season. The dry season runs Oct. 15 to May 15. West Palm Beach ended November with nearly 5 inches of rain for the month, more than an inch above normal. Fort Lauderdale received 11.2 inches, which was a whopping 7.5 inches more than average. Miami saw 9.35 inches, which was 5.8 inches above normal.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

State attorney says criminal charges against Judge Ashton not supported by evidence” via Amanda Rabines of the Orlando Sentinel — Orange-Osceola Circuit Judge Jeff Ashton will not face charges of child abuse after a review by the state attorney’s office concluded allegations were “unsupported by the facts.” The abuse allegations came to light in an executive order signed by DeSantis in October accusing Ashton of “lewd and lascivious molestation on a child under 16 and failure to report child abuse.” In the order, Orange-Osceola State Attorney Andrew Bain advised the Governor’s office to transfer any investigation and prosecution of Ashton from the Ninth Judicial Circuit to the 10th Judicial Circuit to avoid a potential conflict of interest. Ashton is a circuit judge in the Ninth and former Orange-Osceola state attorney.

Orange teachers can use students’ preferred pronouns with parental OK, Supt. says” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — Public schoolteachers in Orange County will be able to use transgender students’ preferred pronouns if parents provide written permission, despite the state’s refusal to clarify whether such a policy is legal. Orange County Public Schools’ new guidance comes after months of discussion and debate and will be shared with teachers Monday, according to a Friday email from Superintendent Maria Vazquez to the Orange County School Board. The guidance will tell teachers they may use pronouns that correspond to transgender student’s gender identity and not their sex at birth. Teachers will not be required to use those preferred pronouns.

Maria Vazquez says preferred pronouns are fine, as long as parents sign off.

‘We do not have insurance. We have an insurance bill’: Condos hit with 563% rate increase” via Mark Harper of the Daytona Beach News-Journal — Tom Baker lives in a retirement dream building: A spacious three-bedroom beachside condo with unobstructed morning sunrises, waves marking the time and the soft sand of comfort. The retired Marine and Army veteran and his wife, Joan, moved here from the Tampa Bay area. She had a Daytona Beach timeshare they regularly visited. Ten years ago, they moved to their retirement home: a fourth-story condo on the Atlantic Ocean. “I absolutely love Daytona Beach,” he said. “I absolutely love where I live, and I love this building.” So why does he seem so angry? Two words: Property insurance. For Baker and many other Florida condo owners, the very concept of insurance — to ease worries during times of distress — seems lost.

— LOCAL: TB —

Amid cries about UF absenteeism, Joseph Ladapo buys $1.7M home — in Pinellas County” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Ladapo and his wife, Brianna, purchased a home in South Pasadena in South Pinellas County at the end of June for almost $1.7 million. The four-bedroom, four-bath modern home sits in a luxury neighborhood accessible by bridge. A listing promoted 360-degree water views and a luxurious wet bar at a private pool. The mansion may raise eyebrows for the amenities enjoyed by a public servant earning two six-figure salaries on the Florida taxpayer dime. Property records do not indicate that Ladapo has filed for a homestead exemption next year, leaving the prospect the three-story mansion could be used only as a second or vacation home. But it indicates Ladapo plans to spend more time in Pinellas County, when academic colleagues in Alachua County grumble about a scarcity of appearances there.

Joseph Ladapo gave himself a helluva commute … when he does go to work. Photo via Realtor.com.

Ruth Eckerd Hall, Inc. names Kate Samy vice president and CDO Susan M. Crockett, Ruth Eckerd Hall president and CEO, and the Ruth Eckerd Hall, Inc. Board of Directors announced the appointment of Samy as vice president and Chief Development Officer of Ruth Eckerd Hall, Inc. to support its namesake venue, the Marcia P. Hoffman School of the Arts, the Murray Theatre, The Nancy and David Bilheimer Capitol Theatre and The Sound located in downtown Clearwater. In making the announcement, Crockett commented, “We are thrilled to welcome Kate to our executive team. She brings not only solid fundraising experience, her background and zeal for the arts makes her a dynamic fit with our mission and our donors.”

— LOCAL: N. FL —

Ben Graber re-connects with Adelson Family after long hiatus to field test nonsensical new defense theory” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — Let’s set the record straight on the opinion piece authored by Graber in The Tallahassee Democrat and quoted by The Miami Herald. Authorities have named multiple members of the family as involved in the 2014 murder of FSU law professor Dan Markel, including Wendi, the victim’s ex-wife, along with her brother Charlie (who was convicted of the murder in November) and her mother Donna (who was arrested while trying to flee to a non-extradition country about a week later). Graber represented himself as a friend of the Adelson family for 40 years. Not so. Graber never met Dan Markel. He was not invited to Dan and Wendi’s wedding. Graber was not in contact with any Adelson during the duration of Wendi’s marriage.

— LOCAL: SW. FL —

Ringling College starts $175M campaign with plans for 100,000-square-foot building” via Steven Walker of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Ringling College of Art and Design kicked off the public phase of its “Catalyst for Creativity” campaign to raise $175 million for new buildings, scholarships, faculty development and community programs. The campaign has raised $128 million already. One of the key uses of the money will be to build a new “signature academic building” at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Tamiami Trail. The 100,000-square-foot, four-story building will house classrooms, studios, labs, and other academic spaces with construction expected to begin in 2027. Ringling College of Art and Design, which currently has about 1,700 students, sits just south of Sarasota Bradenton International Airport and New College of Florida.

Ringling College of Art and Design looks to expand creatively.

— TOP OPINION —

What the DeSantis and Newsom Debate really revealed” via Ronald Brownstein of The Atlantic — What the debate did reveal was how wide a chasm has opened between red and blue states. The Governors spent the session wrangling over the relative merits of two utterly divergent models for organizing government and society. It was something like watching an argument over whether the liberal government in France or the conservative government in England produces better outcomes for its people.

“The way the debate will be heard is the nationals of each country cheering their guy on,” Michael Podhorzer, a progressive political strategist and a former political director for the AFL-CIO, told me.

The sharp disagreements between the Governors pointed toward a future of widening separation between red and blue blocs whose differences are growing so profound that Podhorzer has argued the sections should be understood as fundamentally different nations.

As Podhorzer and other analysts have noted, this accelerating separation marks a fundamental reversal from the generally centralizing trends in American life through the late 20th century.

Beginning with the New Deal investments under Franklin D. Roosevelt (such as agricultural price supports, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and Social Security), and continuing with massive expenditures on defense, infrastructure, and the social safety net after World War II (including Medicare, Medicaid, and federal aid for K — 12 and higher education), federal spending for decades tended to narrow the income gaps between the southern states at the core of red America and the rest of the country.

But both big unifying trends reshaping the economy and the rules of social life have stalled and are moving in the opposite direction.

The narrow focus on California and Florida made sense in a debate between their two Governors. But those comparisons can obscure the bigger story, which is the expanding divergence between all the states in the red and blue sections.

— OPINIONS —

If Moms for Liberty co-founder had sex with a woman, why is she targeting gays?” via Fabiola Santiago of the Miami Herald — Every corner of the state is abuzz with the Zieglers’ news — and, in particular, with the titillating allegation of the anti-gay wife’s bisexual encounters. Group sex and swinging as a lifestyle might be nonpartisan. But Democrats don’t pretend to hate gays — legislate against them to score political points — while secretly inviting them to join the marital party.

Taylor Swift has it. Elon Musk and George Santos don’t” via Richard Galant of CNN — When someone feels “most deeply and intensely active and alive,” philosopher William James wrote to his wife shortly after they wed in 1878, “At such moments there is a voice inside which speaks and says: ‘This is the real me!’” James was looking to an inner voice to help understand what it means to be “authentic,” a century and a half before Merriam-Webster picked it as the 2023 word of the year. The dictionary publisher called it “the term for something we’re thinking about, writing about, aspiring to, and judging more than ever.” Interest in the word grew this year — Swift and Musk were just two of the celebrities to deploy it, “driven by stories and conversations about AI, celebrity culture, identity, and social media.”

— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —

— ALOE —

‘House of the Dragon’ season 2 teaser trailer shows intense dragon war action” via James Hibberd of The Hollywood Reporter — House of the Dragon is roaring back for season two. The HBO fantasy hit and Game of Thrones prequel series unveiled a teaser trailer (below) during its CCXP23 panel in São Paulo, Brazil, on Saturday. The footage includes some intense dragon war action. “There is no war so hateful to the gods as a war between kin,” intones Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best). “And no war so bloody as a war between dragons.”

To watch the trailer, please click the image below:

Catch the gingerbread man, among other things, in these Disney holiday displays” via Amy Drew Thompson of the Orlando Sentinel — What makes the gingerbread house display at the Four Seasons Orlando special, says executive pastry chef Rabii Saber, is the incorporation of chocolate work and artistry. This should come as no surprise. Saber, a two-time James Beard Award semifinalist in the category of Outstanding Pastry Chef, is a master chocolatier whose sculptures often star at the property’s special events. “I can’t resist the temptation to do so,” Saber told the Sentinel of the creative process. “I decided for this year’s display to have all the ornaments made of chocolate, including the hanging ones — and each large, 20-pound one on the landscape of the display.” And that’s not even the most eye-popping statistic.

Chef José Andrés’ new restaurant just opened in Miami Beach. Here’s what to expect” via Connie Ogle of the Miami Herald — The new era of Andrés has begun in Miami Beach, just in time for Miami Art Week. The Spanish-born chef, who is also known for his humanitarian efforts with World Central Kitchen, has opened Zaytinya, his new Mediterranean restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach in the former space of Fuego y Mar. This is the third location for Zaytinya, which first opened in 2002 in Washington D.C. and then at The Ritz-Carlton, New York, NoMad, in 2022. A partnership between Andrés and Aglaia Kremezi, the restaurant highlights Turkish, Greek and Lebanese flavors via small-plate offerings.

— HOLIDAYS —

HGTV names this Florida town as one of the top places to visit for holiday season. See why” via Samantha Neely of USA Today Network — While it might feel more like beach day weather outside much of the time, you can definitely find places in Florida to get into the holiday spirit. HGTV released their list of the best small “Christmas towns” in every state, standing out for their holiday traditions and vibes that are worth a trip with the family. “Yes, there are the winter wonderlands offering light shows, sleigh rides, holiday performances, caroling, parades and Christmas markets. But there are also small towns that include local traditions, too, like a parade with horses and hounds, lobster boat rides and an elf scavenger hunt,” HGTV wrote on their website.

St. Augustine is one of the most Christmasy places in the nation.

More than 1,000 bikes built for Bay Area children at ‘Santa’s Bike Shop’ inside Amalie Arena” via Layth Mekkaoui of Fox 13 — Volunteers from several companies built more than 1,000 bikes on Friday at Santa’s Bike Shop inside Amalie Arena. Onbikes hosted the event to support local at-risk and foster children. More than 1,200 volunteers came together to build the bikes. Onbikes co-founder Julius Tobin said the project is a big undertaking. “It’s just a community effort. From our sponsors to our volunteers to our partners,” said Tobin. “Everyone comes together to make this happen.” Onbikes buys the bikes directly from manufacturers. The organization aims to deliver quality bicycles that will last. Tobin said the effort is about more than the gift it gives.

How Christmas trees get from Wisconsin to Florida” via Kathryn Varn of Axios Tampa Bay — It’s snowbird season in Florida, and retirees aren’t the only ones escaping the snow. Each November, Christmas trees from thousands of miles away descend on Tampa Bay, popping up in parking lots and empty fields in a cloud of balsamy perfume. The Wisconsin-based Steigerwaldt family Christmas tree farm has sold trees at Countryside High School in Clearwater for 30 years. The harvest starts in November. By that point, the trees are usually covered in snow. Workers cut down about 13,000 and bring about 1,200 to Clearwater. Buyers can make special requests ahead of time, and those trees are hand-picked by the staff.

Christmas traditions you won’t find in other states” via Danielle Scruggs of WPBF — It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and there are plenty of ways Floridians, or those who are in town, can celebrate the holiday season. Have you ever seen a Christmas tree made from 700 tons of sand? If not, you’re in luck. Sandi Tree has returned to downtown West Palm Beach for the 12th year in a row. The city officially marked the start of the holiday season with the Sandi Tree Lighting: Holiday in Paradise ceremony on the waterfront with live music and the Holiday Boutique.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Happy birthday to former U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney and BayCare Health System Director of Government Relations Jason Rodriguez.

___

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 FloridaPolitics.com, 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.



#FlaPol

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
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