Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 4.22.24

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Want to know everything about Florida politics? Let Sunburn fill the gaps.

Good Monday morning.

It’s getting significantly harder to put food on the table, according to a new poll commissioned by No Kid Hungry Florida. In fact, 72% of Floridians said it’s harder to afford food for their families than it was just a year ago.

The key driver: incomes are not keeping pace with the rising cost of food.

A significant majority of survey respondents (78%) said the cost of food is rising faster than their income. Parents (83%) and Floridians living in rural communities (82%) are feeling the impact most acutely. Middle-income households are no exception, with more than two-thirds of those with an annual income between $50k — $99k reporting it’s gotten harder to afford groceries in the past year.

It’s getting more difficult to keep the kids fed.

The impact is real: Floridians are sacrificing their time and being forced to purchase less healthy food options in an attempt to stretch their grocery budgets. Respondents reported shopping at multiple grocery stores (58%), shopping at less convenient locations for cheaper prices (48%), buying less protein (45%), or buying less or no fresh produce (40%) to extend their budget.

“Families are facing a real crisis when it comes to affording food, and it’s forcing many households to make difficult decisions that compromise their time and their health,” said No Kid Hungry Florida Director Sky Beard. “Even before they reach that checkout line, Floridians are passing by the produce aisle, putting food back on the shelves, skipping meals and even borrowing money to afford groceries — all because their wages simply aren’t keeping up with the cost.”

The impact of this affordability crisis is palpable, with more than a third (35%) of respondents reporting experiencing food insecurity in the past year. This is a staggering proportion of Floridians who are skipping meals entirely or not eating enough nutritious food because they can’t afford to buy enough groceries for their families.

Many respondents shared the healthy choices they could make were they not facing a constant struggle to stretch their grocery budgets

“I would buy the healthiest food available for my family, cook at home more frequently, and model healthy food habits more consistently,” said one dad from Polk County.

These healthier choices significantly impact health and academic performance: “My kids and I would definitely eat healthier! Better food equals better performance — better performance in every department,” a Walton County mom shared.

The overwhelming majority want action.

Nearly all respondents (95%) agreed that child hunger should not exist in Florida. Beyond this, there was near unanimous agreement (95%) that ending childhood hunger should be a bipartisan effort, with many (92%) calling on elected officials to do more to end child hunger across the state.

You can read a summary of the poll here, including anecdotes from Floridians struggling to afford food for their families, the full questionnaire, methodology and results.


@JaredEMoskowitz: I will be coming to Columbia University to walk with the Jewish students. If the University won’t protect them, Congress will!

@MarcACaputo: With its top journalism school and journalism review, Columbia holds an esteemed place in media So how did @CJR, Columbia profs & the reporters it produces miss the formation of so much anti-Israel or ant-Semitic bias fostered at & around the school? How did NY media miss it?

@NateSilver538: Just go to a state school. The premium you’re paying for elite private colleges vs. the better public schools is for social clout and not the quality of the education. And that’s worth a lot less now that people have figured out that elite higher ed is cringe.

@Kat_Cammack: Watching American representatives pass out & wave Ukrainian flags in the United States House of Representatives chamber infuriated me. As we speak, my team is drafting legislation that will prohibit the display of foreign nations’ flags on the House floor. If there is one room in our country that should only have the American flag present, it is this room.

@JacobOgles: If all the people complaining about Ukraine flags flying in Congress had ever complained the same way about Cuban, Christian, or Israeli flags, I might take a word they say seriously.

Tweet, tweet:

@JayCollinsFL: Almost everywhere I go, I hear from parents that they worry about the country they are leaving to their children. And I get it. I got into politics as a battle-tested veteran and concerned parent myself. But it is going to take a lot more people like us to stand up and fight for the next generation if we want to save it.

@SenRickScott: Jackie Robinson’s legacy on and off the field will never be forgotten. I’m proud to introduce the bipartisan Jackie Robinson Ballpark Commemorative Site Act, which ensures we honor him for years to come.


Florida Housing Summit ‘Blueprint for Better Outcomes’ begins — 9; Kentucky Derby — 14; 2024 Leadership Conference on Safety, Health & Sustainability — 18; ‘The Blue Angels,’ a feature documentary from J.J. Abrams opens in IMAX theaters — 25; ‘Bridgerton’ new season (part one) premieres on Netflix — 26; French Open begins — 28; Special Election to replace Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill — 29; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 30; Dave Matthews Band 2024 Summer Tour begins in Tampa — 30; Monaco Grand Prix — 34; the 2024 World Cup begins — 50; season two of ‘House of the Dragon’ returns to Max — 55; ‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ premieres — 68; Republican National Convention begins — 84; the 2024 World Cup ends — 87; 2024 MLS All-Star Game — 92; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games on NBC/Peacock — 94; ‘Alien: Romulus’ premieres — 113; Florida Primary Election — 120; Democratic National Convention begins — 120; Georgia Tech to face Florida State in 2024 opener in Dublin — 124; 2024 NFL season kicks off — 137; Packers will face Eagles in Brazil — 137; Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour stops in Miami — 179; 2024 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 182; 2024 Presidential Election — 197; Las Vegas Grand Prix — 210; MLS Cup 2024 — 225; ‘Captain America: Brave New World’ premieres — 295; the 2025 Oscars — 314; Florida’s 2025 Legislative Session begins — 316; 2025 Session ends — 376; ‘Moana’ premieres — 426; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 457; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 459; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 564; ‘Avatar 3’ premieres — 606; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 743; Untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 759; Another untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 970; ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,110; ‘Avatar 4’ premieres — 2,069; ‘Avatar 5’ premieres — 2,791.


Joe Biden preps event tying Florida’s six-week abortion ban to the 2024 campaign” via Yamiche Alcindor of NBC News — The event is significant for Biden: While voicing full support for abortion access, he has often looked to Vice President Kamala Harris to be the administration’s most prominent voice on the issue. Since the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision overturned the federal right to abortion in June 2022, Harris has held more than 80 events across 20 states focused on reproductive freedom, including delivering a speech last week in Arizona criticizing the ban in that state and tying in former President Donald Trump’s role in allowing abortion restrictions to take place.

On Tuesday, Biden will take center stage on the issue.

Joe Biden heads to Tampa to put the abortion issue front and center.

The President is expected to attack Trump for saying he is proud of appointing the Supreme Court justices who made overturning Roe v. Wade possible, as well as for other comments related to recently enacted state abortion bans. Biden is also expected to say that if re-elected, Trump and his allies will enact a federal abortion ban, though Trump has recently claimed that he would not do so, saying instead that he wanted the issue left to the states.

Biden’s trip to Tampa is part of the campaign’s broader effort to nationalize the fallout and the conversation around state abortion bans. The campaign sees Florida’s abortion ban as especially salient because, once in effect, the six-week ban will affect the entire Southeast, given that many women in states with stricter abortion bans have traveled to Florida to get abortions.


Bill Maher says Ron DeSantis was right about Disney sexualizing kids” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — On Friday night’s “Real Time with Bill Maher,” he made the case that DeSantis was right about Disney but was pilloried simply because he was from the wrong political party. The Florida Governor “was dismissed as a hick and a bigot” for pointing out issues at Disney, Maher said, posing the question “Why would a kids content factory like Disney be all that different than the one at Nickelodeon” that was highlighted in the recent “Quiet on Set” documentary. “And the reason we find pedophiles in the Boy Scouts and the rectory and kids TV is that’s where the kids are. DeSantis wasn’t wrong but we’re so tribal. Now the left will overlook child (expletive deleted) if the guy from the wrong party calls it out,” Maher added.

Bill Maher says Ron DeSantis was right about ‘grooming.’

DeSantis doles out more money for Florida’s environment” via Tom Bayles of WUSF — DeSantis has directed $750 million a year to the state’s environmental needs, the latest addition to the billions in taxpayer dollars he has earmarked to repair various ecosystems, to combat invasive species, and to plan for sea-level rise. “Among Florida’s greatest assets are its natural resources,” DeSantis said in Fort Lauderdale when signing the measure from the legislature. “This revenue stream will further enhance our efforts to conserve our natural resources, protect our waterways, and make our ecological infrastructure more resilient.” Directing the money to continued ecosystem restoration is a politically shrewd move in a state where the health of the environment ranks high with voters. At the same time, many of Florida’s nonprofit environmental groups have been gobsmacked by DeSantis’ dithering climate change rhetoric ever since his days as a candidate for Governor.

Florida’s jobless rate ticks up in March to 3.2%, still lower than national number” via Drew Dixon of Florida Politics — The Sunshine State’s jobless rate ticked up slightly in March, according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (FDEO). The unemployment rate was 3.2% across the state last month. That’s a 0.1% increase over February. March’s figure is up even more in the year-over-year comparison, meaning a 0.4% jump over March 2024. In total, there were about 353,000 Floridians on the unemployment roll last month out of some 11 million people in the state’s workforce. Florida’s unemployment rate was still lower than the national figure of 3.8% last month.

New database sorts Florida public and charter schools by grad rates, student absenteeism” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — An overhauled school safety database has made it easier than ever for parents, educators, and other stakeholders to understand the characteristics of public and charter schools that could affect school safety. A collaboration between the University of Florida and the nonprofit Safe Schools for Alex — funded with a nearly $2 million grant from the U.S. Justice Department — recently went live on The way it puts reams of data at stakeholders’ fingertips is being called the most comprehensive school safety dashboard in the country. It allows users to enter up to three schools’ names or school districts at once and see how they compare regarding each school or district’s student population according to racial and ethnic makeup, level of economic disadvantage, and suspension rate for both in-school and out-of-school. Eventually, incident data for Florida schools will also be part of the dashboard.

Marsy’s Law group flicks purple lights on Florida landmarks amid National Crime Victims’ Rights week” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — A half dozen landmarks throughout Florida will be lit with a purple glow this week, as Marsy’s Law for Florida celebrates National Crime Victims’ Rights week. The effort began Sunday and will last through Saturday. Marsy’s Law for Florida, the group that helped pass a constitutional amendment in 2018 installing new requirements for the criminal justice system to provide updates and receive input from victims of crimes, is sponsoring the violet hues to raise awareness of crime victims’ rights. In Tampa, Raymond James Stadium was lit up Sunday night. In Daytona Beach, the Bandshell amphitheater will have a purple glow Sunday through Tuesday evening and the Daytona International Speedway will be lit up the whole week.

Raymond James Stadium will be one of the Florida landmarks illuminated in violet.

In reversal, more areas allow high-speed police chases, including Florida” via Amanda Hernández, — During several years of efforts to refine policing tactics — ranging from mandating body-worn cameras to limiting or banning excessive use of force — many states and law enforcement agencies nationwide imposed more restrictive car chase policies to protect civilians and officers. Now, state legislators and some local and state agencies are turning back the dial, moving to relax the rules on high-speed vehicular pursuits largely because of concerns about crime. A handful of jurisdictions have rolled back restrictions over the past year, including Florida.


Election interest hits new low in tight Biden-Trump race” via Mark Murray and Sarah Dean of NBC News — The share of voters who say they have high interest in the 2024 Election has hit a nearly 20-year low at this point in a presidential race, according to the latest national NBC News poll, with majorities holding negative views of both Biden and Trump. The poll also shows Biden trimming Trump’s previous lead to just 2 points in a head-to-head contest, an improvement within the margin of error compared to the previous survey, as the President bests Trump on the issues of abortion and uniting the country, while the former Republican President is ahead on competency and dealing with inflation. And it finds inflation and immigration topping the list of most important issues facing the country, as just one-third of voters give Biden credit for an improving economy.

The 2024 race hits a new low in voter interest.

Biden sees a $35 price cap for insulin as a pivotal campaign issue. It’s not that clear-cut” via The Associated Press — Rarely a day goes without Biden mentioning insulin prices. He promotes a $35 price cap for the medication for Americans on Medicare — in White House speeches, campaign stops and even at non-health-care events around the country. His re-election team has flooded swing-state airwaves with ads mentioning it, in English and Spanish. All that would seemingly add up to a sweeping political and economic impact. The reality is more complicated. As his campaign tries to emphasize what it sees as an advantage over Trump, Biden often overstates what those people who are eligible for the price cap once paid for insulin. It’s also not clear whether the number of Americans being helped will be enough to help sway November’s election, even in the most closely contested states that could come down to a few thousand votes.

Legal fees costing Donald Trump millions as criminal trial begins” via Jack Gillum and Anthony DeBarros of The Wall Street Journal — Trump’s political money operation spent more than $4 million on legal-related expenses in March, new data show, contributing to the tens of millions in attorney’s fees and related costs he has spent so far as his first criminal trial begins in New York. All told, Trump’s campaign and outside political groups have paid more than $66 million in legal-related costs since early 2023. That translates to about $145,000 a day.


Kristen Arrington has Dem money lead in SD 25, while Jon Arguello leads in GOP donations” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Candidates on both sides of a Senate District 25 contest raised thousands for the open seat during the first quarter of 2024. Arrington, a Kissimmee Democrat, is battling Carmen Torres, wife of outgoing Sen. Vic Torres, for the Democratic nomination. Arrington has now raised more than $133,000, while Torres has added nearly $86,000. Arrington also spent more and closed March with $75,260 in cash on hand, a little closer in line with Torres’ $67,318. The Representative collected nearly $9,100 during the first three months of 2024. That covered the Legislative Session when lawmakers faced a fundraising prohibition.

The race to succeed Vic Torres is heating up.

—”Democratic candidates for open Broward Senate seat collect a combined $170K in Q1” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics

Alyssa Gay jumps into race for HD 72” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Bradenton Republican Gay became the third candidate to file for a suddenly open Manatee House seat. The AG Creative founder filed to succeed state Rep. Tommy Gregory in House District 72. “As a Manatee County native and small-business owner, I understand the issues that my neighbors and I face on a daily basis,” Gay said. “Skyrocketing prices at the grocery store and at the gas pump are forcing hardworking Floridians to make difficult choices. “I’m running for Florida House District 72, to give you a voice in Tallahassee that will ask the tough questions and hold special interests accountable. I will be attacking out-of-control cost-of-living increases and the housing and insurance affordability crisis issue by issue to ensure that Florida remains the No. 1 place where people not only want to live but will thrive.”

Contest for open HD 115 seat draws $300K in Q1 for candidates with political, firefighter union support” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — A contest for the open seat representing House District 115 in Miami-Dade County attracted more than $307,000 in just a month and a half. The money went to two candidates: a GOP-backed Pinellas County transplant and a Republican former firefighters union head. Both benefited greatly, fundraising-wise, from their respective affiliations. Cuban Freedom March Executive Director Alian Collazo, a longtime Tampa Bay Area resident, amassed $196,000 in just 20 days before the first quarter’s closure March 31. About a quarter of that sum went into his campaign account. The rest went into his political committee, Protecting the American Dream PC. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Capt. Omar Blanco, who previously served as President of Metro-Dade Firefighters Local 1403, collected $111,000 through his campaign account and political committee, Let’s Get Back to Basics.

Happening tonight:

— LOCAL: S. FL —

Miami-Dade Mayor is sued by Miami Wilds — for listening to her constituents?” via Ron Magill for the Miami Herald — I was not surprised to see that the developers of Miami Wilds have filed a lawsuit to protest the rescinding of the lease to build a water park on critical habitat at Zoo Miami. What did surprise me was the reason they feel their lawsuit is justified. They claim that Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava “made a political decision to kill the Development Agreement and appease some of the political activists who make up her base.” Putting aside the fact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has recently officially declared the entire Zoo Miami footprint as critical habitat — validating all of the claims being made by the conservationists fighting to protect it — am I to understand the Mayor is being sued because she listened to her constituents, those who voted her into office?

Daniella Levine Cava is accused of pandering to her base.

Palm Beach County GOP touts $1.1M haul in Q1. It all happened at Mar-a-Lago” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — The Republican Party of Palm Beach County is celebrating a massive fundraising haul from the first quarter of 2024 when it amassed well over $1 million. Most of it came during a single event at Trump’s “Winter White House.” Between Jan. 1 and March 31, the Palm Beach County GOP collected $1,156,538 in donations and received $16,500 worth of in-kind aid for direct mail advertising. That intake is more than any county Republican Party has ever raised in a single quarter, Palm Beach County GOP Chair Kevin Neal said. It’s also close to double what the Florida Democratic Party (FDP) raised through its state account in the same period, according to state records. The FDP said it raised $1.3 million altogether in Q1, including funds collected through its federal account, for which official figures are due Saturday.

Virtual reality. Zip line. Translucent tubes. A lot of firsts for Great Wolf Lodge in Florida.” via Phil Fernandez of the Naples Daily News — If you thought the $250 million Great Wolf Lodge was just about a 500-room resort and a 92,000-square-foot water park, think again when it comes to its Florida debut slated for September. For the first time ever, Great Wolf Lodge will be featuring numerous new highflying and futuristic attractions in its upcoming next-generation Florida location that hasn’t previously been offered at its 20 other properties. “We’re really excited to be able to debut some of these new attractions, only here in South Florida,” said Jason Bays, the local general manager. “It’s really built on the experience of our 27 years in the indoor water park space. Every time we build a new lodge, we put new additions. We make some changes. We add new features and attractions, just more ways to bring a bit more joy to families.”

— LOCAL: C. FL —

Brevard Sheriff to speak at controversial “Street Cop Training” conference in Orlando” via Tristram Korten of the Florida Trident — Sheriff Wayne Ivey, best known for his “Wheel of Fugitive” videos to publicize suspects at large, will be a featured speaker at a conference this month in Orlando held by a group that was banned from training law enforcement agencies in at least nine states last year. The group, Street Cop Training, is a private for-profit company that provides in-person and online seminars for law enforcement officers. The company’s promotional material states, “We are changing the world of law enforcement by properly educating police officers on what they CAN do.” However, an uproar ensued when details from a previous conference the group held revealed how it promoted unprofessional and allegedly unconstitutional tactics that could result in wrongful arrests and lawsuits.

Wayne Ivey is the featured guest at a controversial conference in Orlando.

Lake Alfred Commissioner charged with possessing 300 images and videos of child porn” via Sara-Megan Walsh of the Lakeland Ledger — A Lake Alfred Commissioner was arrested and faces charges of possessing roughly 300 images of child pornography. Charles Oswald Lake, 90, was arrested by Polk County Sheriff’s Office and faces one second-degree felony enhanced charge of possession of child pornography. Lake is being held in jail without bond until his first court appearance. “I do not know how much child porn I possess, but I have been looking at it since I lived in New Jersey (prior to 2008),” Lake told detectives, according to a police affidavit.

Florida Poly trustee resigns after casting losing vote on choice of next President” via Gary White of the Lakeland Ledger — The contentious vote on the next leader of Florida Polytechnic University has already produced fallout. Hours after the Board of Trustees voted 7-6 to hire G. Devin Stephenson as the school’s next President, one of the dissenting trustees resigned. David B. Williams, who strongly advocated for the trustees’ second choice, H. Keith Moo-Young, submitted his resignation in a terse email. “It is no longer an honor to serve on the Board of Trustees of Florida Polytechnic University, so I resign, effective immediately,” Williams wrote.

UCF faculty members cry foul over lack of raises this year” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — Faculty at the University of Central Florida wanted raises this school year and, upset they’re not getting them, some held a rally this week to demand more pay. The protesters held signs in front of UCF’s administration building that read, “0% Can’t Pay Rent” and “Students Can’t Succeed When Faculty Leave!” UCF this year spent state money that might have gone to increasing salaries on efforts to boost its four-year graduation rate, which is below 55%. Increasing UCF’s graduation rate to 60% could mean “preeminent” status from the state, a designation that comes with more state money that, in turn, would mean more funds available for raises in coming years, school officials said.


St. Petersburg, Pinellas County look to rein in short-term rentals” via Jack Evans and Colleen Wright of the Tampa Bay Times — Officials in both Pinellas County and St. Petersburg have been watching a boom in short-term vacation rentals driven by growing corporate interest, and they’ve come to a similar conclusion: They need to keep a closer watch on the industry. In separate meetings Thursday, County Commissioners and City Council members talked about ways to improve oversight of the short-term rental market.

Jabil CEO placed on paid leave amid investigation” via Christina Georgacopoulos of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — Jabil Inc. CEO Kenny Wilson has been placed on paid leave until a pending investigation related to corporate policies is complete, the company disclosed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. Few details were disclosed about the circumstances of the investigation or when it is expected to conclude, but a representative said the conduct that prompted the review does not relate to or impact the St. Petersburg company’s financial reporting. “Trust, accountability and integrity are core to our company culture, and we are committed to upholding these principles,” they said in a statement.

Kenny Wilson is forced to take a paid vacation.

Tampa General passes $120M in contributions to transform health care through innovation” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — Expected to open in 2027, the Taneja Surgical, Neuroscience & Transplant Tower will provide patients with access to best-in-class providers, the latest research therapies and state-of-the-art technologies. The tower bears the Taneja name in honor of the Taneja Family Foundation’s $25 million contribution to the TGH Foundation. This generous donation helped TGH surpass $120 million in contributions over the past two years toward Tampa General’s mission to transform health care. John Couris, president and CEO of Tampa General Hospital, said: “The Taneja family shares our vision that through innovation, we can transform health care and improve patient outcomes. The new Taneja Surgical, Neuroscience & Transplant Tower will be an intersection of academics, research and clinical care that will elevate how we are able to treat patients with complex conditions.”

— LOCAL: N. FL —

New federal charges against JSO officer reveal inappropriate text messages, alleged sexual coercion” via Nichole Manna of The Tributary — A Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office gang-unit officer who has found himself at the center of repeated controversy, including two fatal shootings, was arrested by federal agents for allegedly coercing an underage teenager into sending nude photographs and performing sexual acts. This is the second time Josue Garriga III was arrested for what he was accused of doing to a girl he met at church. He was first arrested in March by Clay County deputies and charged with unlawful sexual activity with certain minors, lewd touching of certain minors, travel to meet a minor for unlawful sexual activity, transmission of harmful material to a minor and use of a two-way communication device to facilitate a felony. Garriga bonded out of jail.

Josue Garriga III is hit with new federal charges.


On Earth Day, a reminder of what makes Florida’s waterways so special” via Bill Walker for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Undoing the consequences of past environmental damage is a daunting task but not an impossible one. Among its many facets are improving our navigable water quality, creating infrastructure pathways for eco-friendly boating, protecting the marine life that co-exists with us, and taking steps to clean up and prevent marine debris.

We can all do our part for the environment, but because of their sheer scale, businesses often have more responsibility than individuals. For example, all Water Taxi boats have been equipped with stringent EPA Tier 3 engines that use ultralow sulfur diesel to lower emissions. We regularly clean fuel, oil and air filters, as well as sea strainers, to ensure efficient engine operation. We maintain the bottoms of our boats to reduce fuel usage and strictly comply with Coast Guard bilge water discharge standards on sewage handling. Sewage discharge is not allowed in our waterways, and all Water Taxis are pumped out.

Someone obsessed with the short-term bottom line might see that as a major cost, but the return on our sustainability commitments is priceless and makes sound business sense. We measure their value to our business in terms of our reputation, customer loyalty, access to capital, risk mitigation, employee engagement, cost savings and other benefits that enhance our brand, support our bottom line and protect the waterways.

There is something magical about experiencing Fort Lauderdale from the water that can’t be duplicated on land. It is up to us to preserve the joy it brings us — today and for generations to come.


A rotten week for MAGA Republicans’ feeble stunts” via Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post — MAGA House Republicans would rather do anything but their jobs. They would rather indulge right-wing media consumers with baseless impeachments, motions to vacate the Speaker’s Chair (again!), fruitless hearings and parroting Russian propaganda. None of these activities serves the interests of the voters; none improves U.S. national security. For these minions of Trump, chaos and paralysis appear to be the goal. Fortunately for the country, Democrats have figured out how to short-circuit the antics and humiliate Republicans. Problems started in the House. The Republicans’ star legal witness and an even smattering of House and Senate Republicans conceded that there was no constitutional basis for impeaching Alejandro Mayorkas. In the Senate on Wednesday, few expected the impeachment to go anywhere. Several Republicans openly disparaged the effort. Sen. Mitt Romney affirmed there was no constitutional basis for Mayorkas’ impeachment.

Mike Pence: Trump has betrayed the pro-life movement” via The New York Times — It was so disheartening for me to see Trump’s recent retreat from the pro-life cause. Like so many other advocates for life, I was deeply disappointed when Trump stated that he considered abortion to be a state-only issue and would not sign a bill prohibiting late-term abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, even if it came to his desk. In 2018, ahead of a Senate vote on a 20-week national ban that was passed earlier by the House, the President publicly stated that he “strongly supported” efforts to end late-term abortions nationwide with exceptions for rape, incest or the life of the mother. Now, not only is Trump retreating from that position; he is leading other Republicans astray.

Kevin McCarthy: Matt Gaetz broke the Republican majority” via Fox News — While referring to the current GOP infighting taking the form of attempting to oust Speaker Mike Johnson mere months following McCarthy’s own ousting, the former Speaker warned that what Gaetz started has broken the Republican majority. “I think they’re in disarray, but it stems from those eight [Republicans] working with all the Democrats. If there’s no consequence … The Gaetz eight. But they work with all the Democrats to decide who could be Speaker; and since then, what has transpired? So, the conference is broken because they never dealt with those eight, and until they do, it would stay broken. Look, being Speaker is not easy. Otherwise, maybe I’d still be there.”

Steve Schale on Bob Graham: An appreciation of a 20-year friendship” via the Tallahassee Democrat — Spend enough time with him, and you learned his superpower: His ability to listen. He may have a degree from Harvard, but his real education came from the people of Florida, one workday, one meeting, one person at a time. He wanted to learn, and he believed everyone he came in contact with was someone he could learn from. People wrote to him or even stopped him in public to tell them their hopes, their fears, and their ideas. He jotted down those interactions in his notebooks, and not only did he write everyone back, every one of those letters, at some level, was personalized, a genuine acknowledgment that he heard them. He took something from every one of those interactions and each one molded how he saw his state, his country, and his place in it. History will no doubt remember him as one of the most consequential Floridians our state has ever seen. But as any of us know who were blessed to know him personally, his real legacy was that he was an even better human.

—“The greatest book a politician ever wrote” via Michael Grunwold of POLITICO

You can’t get everything you want. It’s not possible. But vote anyway” via R. Bruce Anderson of The Lakeland Ledger — Lately, I’m given to understand that not many folks are all that happy with the choice of candidates: not just the big show at the top, but all the way down the ballot, down to the County Commission seats and School Boards. And it’s not just here, but across the great, dysfunctional polity that is the USA. The dissatisfaction ranges from mild displeasure to rabid road rage. We’re divided, I understand, but a lot of what I hear sounds as if we are divided between those who care enough to vote and those who regard it as a pointless chore, or a target for protest, or worse, as a waste of time. Pericles of Athens said (and I’m paraphrasing here) something along these lines: “What separates democracies from tyrannies is that in democracies, the citizen takes it upon themselves, in their own interest, to be a part of the community of decision-makers.”

The courage to follow the evidence on transgender care” via David Brooks of The New York Times — Hilary Cass is the kind of hero the world needs today. She has entered one of the most toxic debates in our culture: how the medical community should respond to the growing numbers of young people who seek gender transition through medical treatments, including puberty blockers and hormone therapies. This month, after more than three years of research, Cass, a pediatrician, produced a report commissioned by the National Health Service in England that is remarkable for its empathy for people on all sides of this issue, for its humility in the face of complex social trends we don’t understand and for its intellectual integrity as we try to figure out which treatments actually work to serve those patients who are in distress.


— ALOE —

Latest results show 56.3% of Florida law students who took bar exam passed” via Drew Dixon of Florida Politics — Just over half the Florida law students who took the most recent bar examination this year passed the test. The Florida Board of Bar Examiners this month released the results of some 593 people who took the exam for the first time on Feb. 27 and 28 in Tampa. The Bar Exam is a tough test as only 56.3% — or 334 people — passed. There were a dozen Florida law schools that had students who took the bar exam in February. Barry University School of Law in Miami Shores had the most students represented during the test. A total of 45 Barry Law School students underwent the examination, but only 22 — or 48.9% — passed it. Florida International University College of Law in Miami had the highest percentage of students taking the exam who passed. FIU saw 82.6% of its students clear the exam, amounting to 19 out of 23 of the people who passed the test.

Just over half those taking Florida’s bar exam pass it.

Searching for Knightro: A ‘phenomenal’ and ‘rock star’ life awaits next UCF mascot” via Matt Murschel of the Orlando Sentinel — A solitary voice counts off, the only sound is sneakers squeaking on the gymnasium floor at The Venue on UCF‘s campus. More than 50 students, ranging from high school seniors to graduate students, pair up to work on dance moves they’ve just been taught by two instructors. The only other noise is music from a nearby speaker paired with a smartphone. Michael Callahan wanders between the groups, intently watching the footwork and occasionally scribbling notes onto a clipboard. He stops to check a name on a nametag one of the participants wears and notes it before moving on. It’s just after 9:30 on a Saturday and the start of what could be a long day.


Belated best wishes to the wonderful Rachel Cone, managing partner of Southern Strategy Group, as well as James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat, state Rep. Randy Fine, former Rep. Jake Farmer, Hessy Fernandez, Lloyd Dunkelberger, our old friend Andrew Hall, former U.S. Rep. Trey Radel, Bill Rufty, Kelly Schmidt, Justin Thames of TECO. Celebrating today is Florida Politics’ Janelle Irwin Taylor, St. Pete City Council Member Brandi Gabbard Kunard, Bert Ralston, World Partnerships’ Mary Ellen Upton, and Florida Ports Council CEO Doug Wheeler.

It’s also former Sen. Frank Artiles‘ birthday.


Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel Dean, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, and Drew Wilson.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.


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

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

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

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Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
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