Easter Weekend is brought to you by these lobbyists and political associations
Beautiful colorful easter eggs on blue wooden background. Easter holiday concept.

Beautiful colorful easter eggs on blue wooden
These are the people who move stones in the capital city.

Easter 2024 will be a big one.

Not because it’s a five or zero — for believers, the 2,000th Easter is about a decade away — but because shoppers are expected to shell out more than $22 billion celebrating the defeat of death and the hope of salvation.

A recent survey conducted by the National Retail Federation estimates 81% of consumers will celebrate Easter in some fashion this year that at least tangentially involves putting money into a shopkeeper’s till.

That will result in an estimated $22.4 billion spent across the U.S. on Easter retail merchandise, which equates to about $177 per person spent on candy, gifts, food and clothing this Easter holiday — a slight dip from last year, but impressive nonetheless.

More than half of those surveyed said they planned to do their shopping at discount stores. That’s good news for Target and Walmart, both of which have shelves overflowing with baskets, plastic eggs, chocolate bunnies and the weird plastic grass nobody wants but everybody gets.

With customers checking out in droves, Target and Walmart have little time to focus on the goings-on in Tallahassee — they have teams for that.

Target’s contract lobbyists include Carlecia CollinsJoseph Salzverg and Jason Unger of GrayRobinson as well as in-house advocate Molly Cagle. Walmart is represented by Mike CorcoranJacqueline CorcoranMatt BlairSamantha Sexton GreerBethany McAlisterWill Rodriguez and Andrea Tovar of Corcoran Partners.

For the past seven years, Easter has been in April, but it slipped in on the last day of March this year thanks to the complex rules governing its spot on the calendar — it’s pegged to the first Sunday following the paschal full moon, which is the full moon that falls on or after the spring equinox.

If you don’t know what that means, well, you don’t need to. That’s what calendar apps are for. Google is behind the most commonly used calendar in the world. At the end of 2021, it was estimated that more than 500 million people relied on the service to schedule meetings, remember birthdays, and presumably figure out the approximate date Jesus Christ and/or his associates moved a rock.

Many of those Google Calendar users live in Tallahassee, including the tech giant’s lobbying team, which features Brian BallardBradley BurlesonJustin Sayfie of Ballard Partners; Bill RubinHeather Turnbull and Erica Chanti of Rubin Turnbull & Associates; and Carlos Trujillo and James Card of Continental Strategy.

Of course, there are alternatives. The biggest is produced by Apple, a company named after the fruit that, according to 17th Century poet John Milton, is responsible for mankind needing a savior in the first place. Before you smash your iPhone to smithereens, remember that Milton knew about as much you do about divinely influenced xeriscaping. Odds are the forbidden fruit was actually a fig, which is worse, because who would give up an immortal existance in ignorant bliss to eat fig that teaches you about evil?

(Although, it should be noted that prior to 1893, apples tasted at best like a raw potato and at worst like dirt— that’s why the French call potatoes “pommes de terre,” or “apples of the earth.”)

Alas, Apple has a presence in the capital city as well. Its lobbying team: Paul MitchellGeorge AndersonBrian BautistaEdgar CastroRachel Cone, Nelson DiazChris DudleyMercer FearingtonDavid HaganNicole KellyKaris LockhartJames McFaddin, Erin Rock Clark SmithMonte Stevens and Sheela VanHoose of The Southern Group.

According to NRF, 89% of shoppers plan to purchase candy on Easter. Obviously, candy is packed with sugar. Less obvious, U.S. Sugar probably has a hand in the healthy stuff you pile into your shopping cart — the company grows enough fruit and vegetables to feed millions of Americans each year.

Dozens of lobbyists represent the agricultural powerhouse, including the teams at Ballard Partners, The Southern Group, Floridian Partners, The Mayernick Group and GrayRobinson, among others.

The mutilation of chocolate bunnies typically follows an actual meal. According to Delish, lamb is the most traditional of Easter eats, though ham comes in a close second. No matter which you prefer, it will likely be purchased at Publix — the grocery store of choice for true Floridians.

Though it’s one of the largest corporations in the Sunshine State, Publix’s lobbying team is what the Bard would describe as “small but mighty.” It consists of just six members: in-house lobbyists Thomas Culligan and Tara Chilton as well as contract lobbyists Matt BryanTeye CarmichaelJeff Hartley and Jonathan Rees of Smith Bryan & Myers.

For those who don’t feel like spending Sunday in the kitchen, there are plenty of restaurants that will be happy to seat you. The Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association could give you a list of options — the trade group represents every facet of the industry, from diners to fine dining.

Who represents them? Quite a few lobbyists, including Jim DaughtonWarren HusbandDoug Bell, Leslie Dughi, Anna Lewis, Allison Liby-SchoonoverAimee Diaz LyonAndy Palmer and Karl Rasmussen of Metz Husband & Daughton. There’s also an in-house team headed up by FRLA President and CEO Carol Dover.

Egg hunts and hearty meals may be on the agenda for Sunday, but Friday, Saturday and Monday are reserved for travel. Those within a couple of hours of their family’s gathering place will pump some gas and buckle up.

When you head to the pump, there’s a decent chance it’ll be a RaceTrac. The Atlanta-based company operates 581 gas stations nationwide, and nearly half of them are in the Sunshine State. With a vested interest in Florida, they’ve tasked Lori Killinger and Chris Lyon of Lewis Longman & Walker to keep an eye on things in the Legislature.

If the drive is a little long, it might be better to snag a last-minute plane ticket (good luck with that). And many of those who choose to take off rather than roll out will find themselves aboard an American Airlines or Delta flight.

Repping American Airlines has Jeff Johnston, Amanda Stewart and Anita Berry of Johnston & Stewart Government Strategies in the jump seat, while Delta Air Lines’ Tallahassee flight crew includes Nick Iarossi, Ron LaFace, Maicel GreenJared Rosenstein and Chris Schoonover of Capital City Consulting.

While Delta and American are the icons of commercial air travel, they aren’t the only ones with a presence in the Capitol complex — a fleet of other companies are just as concerned with getting travelers to their destination ahead of the Easter Bunny’s arrival.

Southwest Airlines has Rubin Turnbull & Associates in its corner. The JetBlue crew is staffed by Slater BaylissChristopher ChaneySteve ShaleStephen Shiver and Sarah Busk Suskey of The Advocacy Partners.

However you plan to celebrate, take a moment to enjoy the long weekend. Happy Easter!

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to 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.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

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

Sign up for Sunburn