Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 4.15.24

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Good Monday morning.

The Southern Group, the largest lobbying team in the Southeast, is expanding its operations to include North Carolina.

The lobby shop has tapped North Carolina lobbying veteran Kevin Wilkinson to lead its expansion in the Tar Heel State.

Kevin Wilkinson is TSG’s point person in North Carolina.

Wilkinson often appears on lists naming the most powerful lobbyists in North Carolina and has extensive experience working in and around Raleigh politics. Southern Group leadership described Wilkinson as someone who has chops not just on politics or policy but both. He has worked in government roles and as a lobbyist for various top-performing private-sector clients.

“The Southern Group team is all about winning for clients and are simply the best at what we do,” said Rachel Cone, managing partner of The Southern Group’s Tallahassee Office and head of the firm’s expansion efforts. “We believe Kevin embodies that same ethos, which is why we are thrilled to set up shop with him in a very critical state.”

The Southern Group identified an opportunity in North Carolina, particularly through its access to the booming Research Triangle in the Raleigh/Durham and Chapel Hill area. It’s home to three major universities, including North Carolina State, Duke, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Here, the Southern Group has access to any number of clients in the higher education, college sports, tech, startup, automotive and communication spaces, among others.

“I’m thrilled to plant The Southern Group flag in Raleigh and look forward to building the top lobbying firm in our state. It’s my goal to create a new kind of lobbying shop in Raleigh; one that offers a one-stop turnkey solution for any client that has broad needs throughout the executive and legislative branches of government,” Wilkinson said.

“The Southern Group pioneered this approach in other states, and now we’ll have that same capability in North Carolina.”

North Carolina has the third-largest economy in the Southeast, about half the size of Florida’s and only slightly smaller than neighboring Georgia.

The firm plans to aggressively grow its new team in North Carolina and expects to have more announcements in the coming months.


@MarcoRubio: The next time you hear the “cease-fire now” crowd described as “peace activists” remember how many of them cheered the launch of hundreds of drones and missiles at Israel. They don’t want a cease-fire, they want #Israel destroyed.

@GovRonDeSantis: Israel has every right to defend itself and respond with any force necessary to neutralize the threat posed by Iran’s terrorism. Florida stands with Israel.

@AlyssaFarah: Marco Rubio rightly states on @CNNSOTU that so-called Ceasefire proponents who were cheering the attacks on Israel yesterday are NOT peace activists, they are antisemites.

@VoteRandyFine: I’m incredibly proud to be Jewish today.

@Daniel_PerezFL: The aggression of the Iranian regime toward Israel cannot be tolerated. The United States must stand shoulder to shoulder with our friends in Israel as they beat back this Iranian attempt to inflict grave harm to our nation’s greatest ally in the region.

@AnnaforFlorida: This is incredibly scary. Praying for the safety of innocent people and advocating for immediate de-escalation and cease-fire. We do not need more wars. Period.

@hitsmaty: I briefly dated a girl in LA — Eastern European glamazon type — who moved to Miami during the pandemic and now regularly goes to Mar A Lago in cocktail gowns to have tropical coconut shrimp, befriended Standard Miami Beach members so she can use that spa, does some paid c*ypto evangelism and hits the full moon meditations. A near-perfect archetype of one of the “move to Miami” characters.

@SteveSchale: No idea Ludvig Aberg lives in Tallahassee. Surely he understood that Hilaman National is the greatest training grounds for ANGC.

Tweet, tweet:



Florida Housing Summit ‘Blueprint for Better Outcomes’ begins — 16; Kentucky Derby — 19; 2024 Leadership Conference on Safety, Health & Sustainability — 25; ‘The Blue Angels,’ a feature documentary from J.J. Abrams opens in IMAX theaters — 32; ‘Bridgerton’ new season (part one) premieres on Netflix — 33; French Open begins — 35; Special Election to replace Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill — 36; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 37; Dave Matthews Band 2024 Summer Tour begins in Tampa — 37; Monaco Grand Prix — 41; the 2024 World Cup begins — 57; season two of ‘House of the Dragon’ returns to Max — 62; ‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ premieres — 75; Republican National Convention begins — 91; the 2024 World Cup ends — 94; 2024 MLS All-Star Game — 99; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games on NBC/Peacock — 101; ‘Alien: Romulus’ premieres — 120; Florida Primary Election — 127; Democratic National Convention begins — 127; Georgia Tech to face Florida State in 2024 opener in Dublin — 131; 2024 NFL season kicks off — 144; Packers will face Eagles in Brazil — 144; Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour stops in Miami — 186; 2024 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 189; 2024 Presidential Election — 204; Las Vegas Grand Prix — 217; MLS Cup 2024 — 232; ‘Captain America: Brave New World’ premieres — 302; the 2025 Oscars — 321; Florida’s 2025 Legislative Session begins — 323; 2025 Session ends — 383; ‘Moana’ premieres — 433; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 464; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 466; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 571; ‘Avatar 3’ premieres — 613; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 750; Untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 766; Another untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 977; ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,117; ‘Avatar 4’ premieres — 2,076; ‘Avatar 5’ premieres — 2,798.


Florida GOP names interim executive director as George Riley seeks help” via Justin Garcia of the Tampa Bay Times — Party Chair Evan Power is naming William “Bill” Helmich to take over as interim, according to a draft email. In the draft email, Power wrote that Riley “is getting the help he needs so that he can return to helping us move the party forward.”

Power wrote that he had consulted with several stakeholders and that Helmich is “prepared to hit the ground running.”

William “Bill” Helmich is ready to hit the ground running.

According to the draft, Helmich began his career with the Republican Party of Florida in 1997 and, in the 2000s, was chief of staff for the Florida House Majority Office for two Legislative Sessions and director of House campaigns in 2006. He founded Helmich Consulting Inc., a legislative consulting firm, 20 years ago.

On April 2, Riley’s family members notified Osceola sheriff’s deputies that they couldn’t reach Riley over a period of four days beginning that previous Friday. The sheriff’s office found him days later, after he had left a Hampton Inn in Kissimmee. Employees of the hotel told sheriff’s deputies that Riley had appeared to be “under the influence” and had damaged a hotel room. Employees noticed he had purchased so much alcohol they had to order more and asked him to check out of the hotel.

In an interview Tuesday, Riley apologized and said he was seeking help, saying he had been dealing with “alcoholism and mental health issues.”


Ron DeSantis signs bill to defang police oversight panels like the one Miami voters created” via Alexandra Glorioso and Olivia George of the Miami Herald — DeSantis signed a bill limiting civilian investigations by government-affiliated Boards into the behavior of local law enforcement officers, including in Miami, St. Petersburg and Tampa. The law, which takes effect in July, has consequences for civilian oversight panels that in more than 20 Florida counties and cities look into citizen complaints against officers by using public records and witness interviews and by auditing police investigations. Some Boards, which make recommendations about discipline, were created by voters, others by government officials following policing controversies. Under the bill, HB 601, these organizations will now largely be prohibited from receiving and following up on complaints. Members and employees of agencies in Miami and Tampa said they’re trying to determine exactly what the legislation means for their future.

Ron DeSantis signs the bill scaling back Citizen Review Boards for law enforcement.

At TaxWatch confab, Rachel Plakon, David Smith acknowledge work remains on insurance rates” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — State Rep. Smith voiced regret the Florida House spent too much time this year on controversial bills that had little chance of becoming law. “We wasted a lot of time in the House hearing bills that had no Senate sponsor … that we’re not going to ever go anywhere,” Smith said. But he and state Rep. Rachel Plakon told Florida TaxWatch members there’s already work underway on critical issues to Floridians like property insurance rates. The lawmakers spoke at the organization’s Spring meeting in Winter Park and covered prospects of allowing policyholders to switch carriers if they find a better rate and looking at changes to how Florida charges property taxes, including doing away with them altogether.

Storms bring down Florida Department of Revenue online tax bill payment portal” via Jeffrey Schweers of the Orlando Sentinel — A Florida Department of Revenue website that allows small businesses to pay their sales and re-employment taxes online was down for two days because of stormy weather early this week. Monday is the deadline for federal taxes, but state taxpayers have until next Friday, the 19th, to file. It’s an anxiety-inducing time of year, especially when technical problems get in the way. Business owners trying to access the site Tuesday and Wednesday were greeted with a big yellow box and a red exclamation mark with a warning that some of its electronic applications were down due to technical difficulties. The department didn’t provide details. The two-day outage was weather-related, a representative for the department said Friday. Severe storms across North and Central Florida caused power and internet outages, communications director Bethany Wester said Friday.

—2024 — FLORIDA —

Abortion rally draws over 1,000 to Orlando for Yes On 4 kickoff” via Caroline Catherman of the Orlando Sentinel — Danielle Tallafuss spoke through tears Saturday afternoon as she recounted to hundreds of people the difficult decision to have an abortion. As she spoke, coordinated chants of “Abortion is murder” were heard from counterprotesters behind a nearby barricade. The event marked the official kickoff of the Yes On 4 campaign — an effort to enshrine the right to abortion in Florida’s Constitution and undo current restrictions if 60% of voters approve in November’s election. The changes would then go into effect in January. Around 1,000 people supporting the amendment gathered at Lake Eola to hear speeches from patients, providers and leaders of abortion groups. Attendees were asked not to bring partisan signs, coat hangers or violent imagery and instead focus on the message of removing government interference from abortion.

Abortion rights advocates launch an all-out effort to pass Amendment 4.

Spotted — Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers talking with CBS News Miami’s Jim DeFede about the $40 million her company spent to gather signatures for the proposed adult-use marijuana constitutional amendment.

—”Sen. Rick Scott stops by the County Fair on opening day” via Jack Randall of Clay Today

—“Shevrin Jones, Lori Berman, Bobby Powell among names involved in Dems’ ‘Weekend of Action’” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics


—”Four years out, some voters look back at Donald Trump’s presidency more positively” via Lisa Lerer and Ruth Igielnik of The New York Times

Poll: More Florida Republicans view DeSantis favorably than Trump” via Zac Anderson of USA Today — The contentious 2024 Presidential Primary contest between DeSantis and Trump didn’t sour Republicans on the Governor in the state both men call home. In fact, more Florida Republicans view DeSantis favorably than Trump, and the Governor also has a higher overall favorability rating. The poll found that 90% of Florida Republicans view DeSantis favorably, compared with 80% for Trump. Among all Floridians 18 and older, DeSantis is viewed favorably by 47% and Trump 42%. Both Republicans fared better than President Joe Biden, who is viewed favorably by 34% of Floridians.

Florida Republicans have a much more favorable view of DeSantis than Trump.

As Trump ponders VP contenders, he asks: Can they help me raise cash?” via Michael Bender of The New York Times — Trump’s selection process, which is still in its early stages, has largely revolved around conventional questions like who could step in as President if needed, political calculations including contenders’ position on abortion rights, and more Trumpian curiosities like whether a politician physically resembles his idea of a Vice President. But Trump has asked several people about the fundraising prowess of possible running mates, signaling a fresh angle in his search for a running mate. The initial feedback has pointed him toward a handful of members of Congress with strong donor connections and at least one deep-pocketed Governor.


Debbie who? Poll reveals Democrat facing Scott is starting with a big hurdle.” via Karissa Waddick of USA Today — Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell may face even tougher odds than previously thought in her bid to unseat Scott. A new USA TODAY/Ipsos poll finds that 74% of Florida voters have never heard of Mucarsel-Powell. That includes an overwhelming 61% of the state’s Democratic voters and 78% of the independents the Democratic candidate is relying on to narrow her opponent’s lead in the race. Scott edged Mucarsel-Powell 36%-26% in the poll, fielded between April 5 through April 7. The results may dampen Democrats’ hopes that the Florida Supreme Court’s recent abortion ruling would boost Mucarsel-Powell’s chances in the conservative-leaning state. In early April, the court upheld Florida’s 15-week abortion ban and OK’d a ballot measure that, if passed, would protect access to the procedure in the state.

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell faces an uphill climb to defeat Rick Scott.

Trump ally DC_Draino will not run for Congress, focuses on social media business” via Liv Caputo of The Floridian — Top Trump surrogate and political influencer Rogan O’Handley, aka DC Draino, who publicly contemplated the former President’s call for a MAGA loyalist to unseat Florida’s lone Team DeSantis congresswoman, will not run for the Tampa area seat held by Rep. Laurel Lee. “After careful consideration and speaking to family, I have decided not to run for Congress,” said Draino during a conversation with The Floridian at the Florida Young Republicans State Convention in Tampa Bay Saturday. O’Handley thought about answering Trump’s call to unseat Rep. Laurel Lee, the lone Congressperson from Florida to endorse DeSantis over Trump for President.

John Rutherford raises more than $500K for 2024 cycle so far” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Rutherford is reporting having raised $507,011 for the 2024 cycle so far, on the strength of $143,080 brought in Q1. Despite having spent $78,443 this quarter and $293,307 thus far this cycle, he still has $504,113 on hand, putting him in a strong position for a looming August Primary in Florida’s 5th Congressional District, which includes Duval and part of St. Johns County.

—“Stanley Campbell trumpets endorsements for underdog Senate campaign” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Chad Chronister backs pro-cop Vern Buchanan as he faces threats from the left and the right” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Chronister is endorsing U.S. Rep. Buchanan for re-election in Florida’s 16th Congressional District, citing his pro-cop tenure on the Hill. “There are few members of Congress who have a stronger track record supporting law enforcement than Vern Buchanan,” Chronister said. “Whether it is sponsoring the Thin Blue Line Act or leading efforts to crack down on gang activity, Vern understands what it takes to keep our communities safe. I appreciate the work he puts in for the people of Hillsborough County and he has my support.” Buchanan has served in Congress since 2007 and has proven a difficult incumbent to unseat. Buchanan last year fended off a Primary challenge from Martin Hyde, winning a massive 86% of the vote before cruising to re-election over Democrat Jan Schneider, who is again running this cycle.

‘The honor of my life’: Spencer Roach won’t seek re-election, has ‘no idea’ what’s next” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Rep. Roach, a North Fort Myers Republican known for his devout faith and thoughtful approach to policymaking, will not run for a fourth term in the House. “After deep self-reflection and prayer, I have decided not to seek re-election to the Florida House of Representatives,” he said. “The book of Ecclesiastes tells us that for everything, there is a season, but so often in life, the challenge is recognizing when the season changes. I have learned to listen to my gut when I experience restlessness or a sense that it’s time for a change. And now — as in the past — I’m going to trust my instincts. It’s time for me to step away and I will leave the political office the same way I entered it: with my integrity intact, my conscience clear, and my heart full.

Bill Conerly files to succeed Tommy Gregory in HD 72” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A Lakewood Ranch business owner became the latest to jump into the race to succeed Rep. Gregory. Bill Conerly has filed to run in House District 72. A shareholder with engineering consulting firm Kimley-Horn, the professional engineer plans to run on an “America First” agenda. And he promised to bring change to the House. “Florida is at a crossroads. We can continue to kick the can down the road, year after year, on issues like immigration, insurance and our quality of life or we can act. I am running to take quick action, just like President Trump,” Conerly said. “The politicians in Tallahassee should be on notice: I won’t be making excuses or empty promises on insurance rates; I will be lowering them come hell or high water. Floridians can’t and shouldn’t be struggling to pay insurance premiums. That must change, starting now.”

Vanessa Oliver launches bid for open HD 76 seat, vows to uphold ‘conservative principles’” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Oliver is launching a bid to serve residents of Charlotte, DeSoto and Lee counties in House District 76. She’s running to succeed outgoing North Fort Myers Rep. Roach, a fellow Republican who announced that he will not seek re-election this November. It won’t be the first time Oliver has sought public office. She successfully ran for the Charlotte Airport Authority in 2021 and still serves on the body today. “As someone who has spent nearly their entire life growing up in this district, raising a family here and managing a business, I know how important it is we have leaders who believe in the conservative principles that make Florida the envy of the nation,” she said in a statement Friday.

Vanessa Oliver promises to support conservative values in HD 76.

Destinie Baker Sutton raises $42K in first quarter running open House seat in central PBC” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Sutton has charged to the front of the fundraising race for an open seat representing central Palm Beach County with a more than $42,000 haul in two months. Between when she filed in January to vie for the soon-to-be-open seat representing House District 89 and March 31, she stacked more than the combined holdings of two other candidates who have been running since last year. In total, 125 people gave to her campaign last quarter through checks of $10 to $1,000. Her average donation was $339. Democratic nonprofit executive Deborah Tendrich, who previously ran for the Delray Beach City Commission, raised nearly $6,000 and spent close to $8,000 in the first quarter. She’s collected about $21,000 since entering the race in July.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

Coral Gables says there is a ‘criminal investigation’ into recall canvassing effort” via Tess Riski of the Miami Herald — Law enforcement is investigating the canvassing effort for the recall of the Coral Gables Mayor. In response to a media outlet’s request for body-camera footage of police interacting with canvassers collecting signatures in an effort to recall Mayor Vince Lago, city spokesperson Martha Pantin said the city is unable to turn over the records because “there is currently a criminal investigation.” She said the city has provided the records to the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE). Pantin did not provide more details. Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office spokesperson Lissette Valdes-Valle confirmed in an email Friday evening that the office has received the records and is “looking at it with FDLE.”

The canvassing effort to remove Vince Lago is now under FDLE review.

‘We need to come up with a plan:’ Fort Lauderdale bracing for state’s new homeless camp law” via Susannah Bryan of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A new state law that bans overnight sleeping in public places has Fort Lauderdale leaders nervous — particularly since the law paves the way for critics to sue cities that fail to enforce the ban. Fort Lauderdale Vice Mayor Steve Glassman says he wants to come up with a plan before the ban takes effect in October. “I never want to see us get to the point of a Los Angeles. Or a San Francisco. Or a San Diego,” Glassman said. “We have got to come up with a plan.” A key component of the law gives local governments the option to set up homeless camps that can remain in place for up to one year. The camps will be required to have security, running water and working bathrooms. Under the law, counties can designate an area in a specific city for the camp but will need approval from that city’s governing body.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

Ericka Dunlap, former Miss America, joins race for Orlando Council seat” via Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel — Former Miss America Dunlap is the latest candidate to join the crowded District 5 race, bringing the field to 10 candidates with still a few days more to enter. Dunlap was crowned Miss America in 2004 and previously was the first African American to be named Miss Florida. She also previously ran for City Council against Regina Hill in 2017 — pulling in about 25% of ballots cast that year. The seat is open after DeSantis suspended Hill was last week following her felony indictment on seven charges related to fraud and elder exploitation. “I believe that we’re in need of healing,” Dunlap said at a campaign kickoff event. “We have to find ways to speak to and deal with a variety of issues and a variety of people, and we need a leader who can lead with love and compassion.”

Ericka Dunlap, the first African American Miss Florida, is gunning for Regina Hill’s open City Council seat.

The threat in Disney’s backyard” via Jacob Passy and Robbie Whelan of The Wall Street Journal — A common vacation itinerary includes three or four days at Disney World and one or two days at Universal. If Universal can now persuade families to spend one more day at its parks instead of at Disney, it could nab hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue. Universal’s timing couldn’t be better. It’s been five years since Disney opened a major expansion — or new land, in the company’s parlance — in Florida. Those years have coincided with multiple rounds of ticket-price increases, irking even some die-hard Disney fans. If Universal flips enough families, it could be a big blow to Disney’s most profitable division at a time when the company is struggling to juggle other priorities, including finding its next chief executive, reinvigorating its movie studios and making money in streaming.

Disney and ex-contractor for Saratoga Springs Resort ready for showdown” via Gabriell Russon of Florida Politics — Disney and its former general contractor for a Walt Disney World hotel renovation are ready to go to a head-to-head trial this month in what’s been a nasty, drawn-out legal fight. The battle pits a multibillion-dollar entertainment company versus a small, locally and female-owned business. A trial date is tentatively scheduled for April 22 over the ill-fated construction at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort after the two sides attended a recent hearing in Orange Circuit Court. Winter Haven-based Validus Construction Services sued Disney first in 2020 then Disney countersued six weeks later with about a half-dozen subcontractors who didn’t get paid also suing Validus. The heart of the case is a contract dispute with both sides accusing the other of breach of contract.

Could Kennedy Space Center host 300 rocket launches a year?” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — As private space flight expands in new ways, Florida remains home to America’s most prominent spaceport. So how many humans heading into orbit will launch from Kennedy Space Center? Tom Engler, KSC’s director of Center Planning and Development spoke last week in Winter Park at the Florida TaxWatch Spring meeting. He discussed how the federal government and a host of private companies with interstellar ambitions are shooting beyond the horizon. “We have created an environment together, between us and the Space Force, that has enabled commercial space business to come to Florida,” Engler said. The Space Force decided last year to locate the Space Force Training and Readiness Command (STARCOM) at Patrick Space Force Base in Cape Canaveral.


Washington man charged with Tim Burke in Fox News leaks conspiracy case” via Dan Sullivan of the Tampa Bay Times — The person federal investigators say worked with Tampa media consultant Burke to obtain Fox News footage now has a name. Federal prosecutors filed a new criminal case Friday against a Washington state man, accusing him of conspiring with Burke to obtain unauthorized access to unaired TV footage. Marco Gaudino faces a single charge of conspiracy. Gaudino appears to be the unnamed co-conspirator referenced in the federal indictment issued in February against Burke. The charging document describes social media and email messages he exchanged with Burke in which the pair discussed using compromised computer credentials to access videos.

A colleague of Tim Burke is facing charges of conspiracy.

AppointedJohn Allocco Jr., Ryan Brady, and Gino Collura to the Pasco-Hernando State College District Board of Trustees.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

DeSantis endorses Mark Sheldon for Panama City Beach Mayor re-election” via Eric Daughtery of Florida’s Voice — DeSantis endorsed Republican Panama City Beach Mayor Sheldon for re-election Saturday, bucking the local Bay County GOP’s preferred candidate. “Mayor Mark Sheldon has been a good partner with the State of Florida as we work to promote freedom, public safety and small business,” DeSantis said. “I support his re-election as Panama City Beach Mayor and look forward to working with him in the future!” The election takes place Tuesday, April 16. The Bay County GOP, headed by Tho Bishop, has pushed former Democrat Stuart Tettemer for the position. Tettemer previously supported Bernie Sanders for President and voted at least three times as a Democrat.

Mark Sheldon gets a big thumbs-up from DeSantis.


DeSantis picks Manatee County Commissioner to fill Supervisor of Elections vacancy” via Ryan Callihan and Victoria Villaneuva-Marquez of the Miami Herald — DeSantis chose Commissioner James Satcher to lead Manatee County’s Supervisor of Elections office, which has been vacant since the beginning of March. Satcher fills the position that former Supervisor of Elections Michael Bennett held for over a decade, the Governor’s office announced in a news release. First elected to the Manatee Board of County Commissioners in 2020, Satcher had already filed to seek re-election to the District 1 seat, which represents parts of Parrish, Palmetto and Myakka City. His four-year term as a Commissioner is set to expire in November.

DeSantis appoints James Satcher to lead the Manatee County Supervisor of Elections office.


Florida’s Medicaid downsizing is a moral failure” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Despite news stories, warnings from nonprofit groups and messages from state officials, many Florida residents whose coverage and that of their children was being dropped said they had no warning until the ax fell.

While the state claims that 93% of those families whose kids were being dropped had been contacted, that doesn’t square with statistics posted during earlier phases of the state’s downsizing of its COVID-swollen Medicaid ranks.

It also doesn’t explain the large numbers of people who were previously shoved off the Medicaid rolls despite the state’s failure to prove them ineligible.

There’s an easy answer to this growing desperation: Florida should expand Medicaid eligibility to cover more hardworking and low-income residents.

The state is one of only 10 that haven’t taken advantage of Medicaid expansion, which reaches people who make too little to participate in “Obamacare” marketplaces but too much to remain on Medicaid.

We have a hard time understanding why Florida didn’t expand Medicaid a long time ago — or why it has failed to take advantage of federal offers of additional time and help for those being cast off Medicaid rolls during the “unwinding” process.

State officials keep insisting they’re doing the best they can, but that assertion is proven false every time new statistics are released or stories appear about parents of very sick children or disabled adults who have lost the care that could be keeping them alive.

Florida can do better. It should do better. It’s a moral failure that it has not.


Why can’t Joe Biden triangulate like Trump?” via Ross Douthat of The New York Times — Trump’s cynicism is also one of his political strengths. What he does crudely, with naked calculation and comic transparency, is what successful politicians used to do more normally: triangulate between your base and the general public, make showy moves to reassure swing voters that you’re not just an ideologue, suggest that you’re willing to negotiate when public opinion is against you. In part, Biden is unlucky in the challenges confronting him: The place where he is clearly trying to triangulate, the Israel-Gaza war, divides his own coalition in a way that makes every possible balancing act anger more people than it pleases. One explanation for this pattern is that Biden’s White House is staffed by progressive ideologues who don’t have an instinct for moderation and don’t give their aged boss enough freedom to maneuver. Another explanation is that Biden’s team is just deathly afraid of the progressive impulse toward self-sabotage, the willingness of left-wing factions to sit the election out or cast a protest vote.

Maya Brown — The Purge: Florida’s threat to democracy and communities of color” via Florida Politics — The attack on voting rights, from Florida’s Capitol to the Governor’s Mansion and the 7-person Supreme Court isn’t new. Recent changes in state law have led to a surge in inactive registered voters and a disproportionate purge of names from vote-by-mail rolls, with communities of color bearing the brunt of the impact. It’s not just about who wins elections, this alarming trend threatens the very foundation of democracy and needs our attention — like six months ago. Our civic duty to participate in our elections should be as convenient as it is to carry a concealed weapon without a permit. This isn’t a partisan issue — everyone should be concerned about the residual impacts of these blatant voter suppression tactics on registration and turnout.

Chaos by design in Broward schools is DeSantis’ doing” via Steve Bousquet of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Broward County School Board member Daniel Foganholi, a DeSantis appointee, wants the Board to immediately remove its chief attorney at its meeting Tuesday. He claims general counsel Marylin Batista took “unauthorized actions” in an unresolved legal fight over how much money the district owes charter schools from a 2018 voter-approved bond issue. School Board member Torey Alston, who also was appointed by DeSantis and not elected by Broward voters, wants to rescind a binding negotiated contract, approved in February, between the district and its teachers. Welcome to the home of the nation’s sixth-largest school district, as “repurposed” by DeSantis, to borrow a popular term these days.

Duval Republican Party Chair: Sheriff T.K. Waters’ endorsement of Trump is a non-issue” via Dean Black for The Florida Times-Union — The Sheriff’s endorsement reflects Trump’s support — not only of a vast majority of Florida’s elected sheriffs — but also of the rank-and-file officers who trust him to have their backs. Their endorsements reflect their commitment to law and order and their oath of office to keep their constituents safe. Sheriff Waters, along with every one of us, is entitled to his opinion and free speech. Those who say the sheriff shouldn’t weigh in on these critical issues are merely engaging in typical partisanship. 

Autism awareness isn’t ‘demonic,’ despite what this Christian school pastor says” via Frank Cerabino of The Palm Beach Post — I’d like to extend a personal note of thanks to the pastor of Trinity Christian Academy in Lake Worth for raising autism awareness to new heights at his school, the rest of Palm Beach County and beyond. Pastor Matt Baker may be an accidental hero but as some people like to say, “God works in mysterious ways.” So, I look at Pastor Matt as an unwitting vessel of enlightenment who was touched by divine provenance when he took a cruel stand against recognizing Autism Awareness Week at his school. “If Jesus Christ led Trinity, would HE have an Autism Awareness Week? Of course not!” Pastor Matt wrote in an email to parents. “Why? Because anything that exalts itself above the name of Christ should be brought down,” he continued. “Also, anything that teaches our children to have their identity in anything other than Christ is idolatry and demonic.”



— ALOE —

Heat closes regular-season with win over Raptors, with play-in matchup vs. 76ers up next” via Anthony Chiang of the Miami Herald — The Miami Heat needed a win and some help on the final day of the regular season to avoid the NBA’s Play-In Tournament. The Heat got the win, cruising to a 118-103 victory over the Toronto Raptors (25-57) on Sunday afternoon at Kaseya Center to close the regular season at 46-36. But the Heat didn’t get the help it needed, as the Philadelphia 76ers, Orlando Magic and Indiana Pacers also won on Sunday to keep the Heat in eighth place in the Eastern Conference and play-in tournament-bound for the second straight season. The Heat now has to travel to Philadelphia to take on Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey and the scorching 76ers in the East’s No. 7 vs. No. 8 play-in game on Wednesday at Wells Fargo Center (7 p.m., ESPN). The winner of that game will secure the East’s No. 7 playoff seed and face the second-seeded New York Knicks in the first round of the playoffs, while the loser will host a win-or-go-home play-in game on Friday for the East’s No. 8 playoff seed.

The Heat end the regular season with a solid win over the Raptors. Image via AP.

Magic clinch No. 5 seed in NBA playoffs with win vs. Bucks” via Jason Beede of the Orlando Sentinel — From the end of last season and all through training camp, the Magic made it clear what their goal was entering this year. Orlando had its sights set on the playoffs. Not the NBA Play-In Tournament that Jamahl Mosley‘s squad just missed out on last season. The playoffs. The Magic accomplished their goal Sunday by capturing a 113-88 victory over the Bucks in front of an electric crowd at Kia Center. With the win, the Magic (47-35) avoid the Play-In, clinch the No. 5 seed in the East and will face the No. 4 Cavaliers (48-34) in the first round.

Scottie Scheffler wins Masters for the second time in three years” via The Associated Press — Scheffler won the 2024 Masters Tournament, his second Masters title in three years, after shooting an impressive 4-under 68 to pull away from a trio of challengers on the back nine and finish 11 under. “It’s a very special time for both of us. I can’t put into words what it means to win this tournament again,” Scheffler said. “I really can’t put into words what it’s going to be like to be a father for the first time. I’m looking forward to getting home and celebrating with Meredith,” he added.

—”Swedish golfer and Masters contender Ludvig Aberg calls Tallahassee his home these days” via Jim Henry of the Tallahassee Democrat

Tiger Woods finishes Masters with his highest score as a pro, sets sights on upcoming majors” via Steve Reed of The Associated Press — Woods finished the Masters on Sunday with a record he could do without, walking off the course with a 16-over 304, his highest 72-hole score in a career that spans three decades. Woods’ previous high was 302 at the Memorial in 2015. He has only failed to break 300 one other time at the Masters two years ago when he shot 78-78 on the weekend and finished at 301. Despite the score, Woods called it a “good week” and said he’s going to begin preparing for the other three majors, including the PGA Championship in May, the U.S. Open in June, and the British Open in July. “This is a golf course I knew going into it, so I’m going to do my homework going forward at Pinehurst, Valhalla and Troon,” Woods said. “But that’s kind of the game plan.” Overall, he wasn’t unhappy with how he played.


Best wishes to numbers guru Donna Arduin, former Senate President Bill Galvano, and former U.S. Rep. Cliff Stearns.


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.


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