Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 4.24.24

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Good Wednesday morning.

Breaking overnight — “Congress passes bill that could ban TikTok after years of false starts” via Cristiano Lima-Strong of The Washington Post — The Senate approved the measure 79 to 18 as part of a sprawling package offering aid to Israel, Ukraine and Taiwan, sending the proposal to President Joe Biden’s desk — with the House having passed it Saturday. Biden issued a statement minutes after the Senate vote saying he plans to sign the bill into law on Wednesday. Once signed, the provision will give TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, roughly nine months to sell the wildly popular app or face a national ban, a deadline the President could extend by 90 days. The measure — which has broad bipartisan support — poses the most significant threat yet to the app’s operations in the United States, where it has more than 170 million users and has become an economic and cultural powerhouse.


Mercury, a global bipartisan public strategy firm, is adding a new member to its Florida and D.C. offices and promoting a member of the current roster to senior vice president.

New addition Jim Anderson brings more than two decades of experience in communications, branding, marketing, politics and advocacy campaigns.

Jim Anderson is bringing over two decades of experience in political campaigns to Mercury.

He is the former Executive Director of the Republican Party of Iowa and former Deputy National Political Director at the RNC. He worked on George W. Bush’s presidential campaign and served in the Treasury Department and U.S. Department of Commerce during Bush 43’s administration. He is also the founder and CEO of the digital marketing company Wholecrowd.

Anderson graduated from James Madison University and lives in Alexandria, Virginia. Outside of work, he serves on the Boards of Directors for Volunteers of America, Chesapeake and Carolinas and the Disaster Services Corporation.

“We are thrilled to welcome Jim to the Mercury team. He has earned a national reputation for his expert ability to develop and execute innovative, successful marketing and public affairs campaigns,” said Mercury Partner Ashley Walker. “Jim’s insights, from serving in top national and state-level roles as well as his experience servicing Fortune 100 companies and national nonprofits, will prove invaluable to our clients.”

Anderson added, “I am eager to begin providing innovative strategies and delivering successful results on behalf of our clients. It is an honor to join the talented team of experts here at Mercury.”

Meanwhile, Mercury announced that Lisa Kauffman, who joined the firm three years ago as a vice president, has been promoted to senior vice president. Under the new title, she will continue day-to-day client management and focus on driving growth for Mercury in the region.


@ScottforFlorida: Any day that Joe Biden visits Florida is a great day for Florida Republicans. Like the millions of Americans who retire to Florida to escape poorly run blue states, we hope Joe Biden considers Florida when he’s retired in November.

Tweet, tweet:

@USRepKCastor: Thank you for the lift, Mr. President! More importantly, thank you for standing up for women and our reproductive freedom

@ShevrinJones: Welcome back to Florida, @POTUS

@JayCollinsFL: Seriously, This is not the show of force you think it is. Florida is not in play @JoeBiden! Go sniff out votes somewhere else!

@fineout: @JoeBiden at start of his campaign appearance in Tampa calls out @DebbieforFL & mentions @SenRickScott as someone who wants to “sunset” Social Security. “I think the voters are going to sunset Rick Scott,” Biden said.

@cassswhit: @POTUS in Tampa in the final week before Florida’s 6-week abortion ban goes into effect talking about the future of women’s reproductive freedom. Everything is on the line for women in America (and Florida!) this November and @JoeBiden is our only choice.

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:


Florida Housing Summit ‘Blueprint for Better Outcomes’ begins — 7; Kentucky Derby — 10; 2024 Leadership Conference on Safety, Health & Sustainability — 16; ‘The Blue Angels,’ a feature documentary from J.J. Abrams opens in IMAX theaters — 23; ‘Bridgerton’ new season (part one) premieres on Netflix — 24; French Open begins — 26; Special Election to replace Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill — 27; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 28; Dave Matthews Band 2024 Summer Tour begins in Tampa — 28; Monaco Grand Prix — 32; the 2024 World Cup begins — 48; season two of ‘House of the Dragon’ returns to Max — 53; ‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ premieres — 65; Republican National Convention begins — 81; the 2024 World Cup ends — 85; 2024 MLS All-Star Game — 90; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games on NBC/Peacock — 92; ‘Deadpool & Wolverine’ premieres — 93; ‘Alien: Romulus’ premieres — 114; Florida Primary Election — 118; Democratic National Convention begins — 118; Georgia Tech to face Florida State in 2024 opener in Dublin — 122; 2024 NFL season kicks off — 135; Packers will face Eagles in Brazil — 135; Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour stops in Miami — 177; 2024 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 180; 2024 Presidential Election — 195; Las Vegas Grand Prix — 208; MLS Cup 2024 — 223; ‘Captain America: Brave New World’ premieres — 293; the 2025 Oscars — 312; Florida’s 2025 Legislative Session begins — 314; 2025 Session ends — 374; ‘Moana’ premieres — 424; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 455; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 457; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 562; ‘Avatar 3’ premieres — 604; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 741; Untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 757; Another untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 968; ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,108; ‘Avatar 4’ premieres — 2,067; ‘Avatar 5’ premieres — 2,789.


Joe Biden campaigns on abortion rights in Florida, tying state ban to Donald Trump” via Nicholas Nehamas and Patricia Mazzei of The New York Times — Biden on Tuesday strongly condemned a six-week abortion ban that will soon take effect in Florida, saying it would force women to endure “unbearable pain and cruelty” and blaming Trump for their suffering.

“Let’s be clear. There’s one person responsible for this nightmare,” Biden said in a speech to roughly 200 supporters at a community college gymnasium in Tampa. “And he’s acknowledged it and he brags about it: Donald Trump.”

Joe Biden in Tampa making the case for protecting abortion access.

The Biden campaign has made abortion a top issue, as polling shows it is one of the few subjects in which voters place more trust in Biden than Trump. Democrats have sought to tie Trump to laws like the one in Florida, labeling them “Trump abortion bans” and arguing that the former President will seek to curtail reproductive rights if he regains the White House.

Throughout his brief remarks, Biden signaled his intention to make the election a referendum on Trump’s first term as much as his own.

“Now in America today in 2024, women have fewer rights than their mothers and grandmothers had — because of Donald Trump,” he said.

His speech in Florida was an attempt to sharpen his national message on a crucial issue for his re-election campaign even in a state that he may not win. Although Florida has voted reliably for Republicans in recent elections, Biden’s team has expressed optimism that the state could be in play this year. They point to the fact that in November, Floridians will vote on a ballot initiative that would guarantee access to abortion “before viability,” or at about 24 weeks, and overturn the six-week ban.


Ron DeSantis rips Biden, Congress on abortion, Mexican border security” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis told an audience in Naples that Congress had been derelict in its duty to protect the Mexican-U.S. border, suggesting that “nothing” would happen to increase enforcement actions this year in the wake of the House’s failure to pass a fast-tracked border security bill by the necessary 2/3 supermajority vote. “They basically capitulated entirely,” DeSantis said. “They had an opportunity to insist that Biden accept the border. He wanted all the foreign aid and they decided to capitulate. And so, he got everything he wants and Republican voters did not get anything with respect to stopping this problem at the southern border,” DeSantis said. He also had some choice words for Biden over Tuesday’s campaign stop in Tampa, where the Democrat is addressing reproductive rights and Florida’s recent renunciation thereof.

Ron DeSantis rips into Biden during a bill signing to protect the Florida Wildlife Corridor.

DeSantis announces investments in Wildlife Corridor, red tide mitigation” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — DeSantis has signed legislation to boost red tide research and direct funding toward expanding Florida’s Wildlife Corridor. “With the investments we’re getting, we’re on our way to linking these areas so that we can promote safe and stabilized species movements,” DeSantis said. The Governor signed the legislation in Naples, a region Senate President Kathleen Passidomo represents. Environmental investments had been chief priorities for Passidomo during the past two Legislative Sessions. DeSantis, at the event, stressed the need to preserve Florida’s environment for future generations to enjoy. The announcements Tuesday came a day after DeSantis also promised a $1.5 billion investment in Everglades restoration and other water improvement projects.

Move, cut back or go bare: Florida seniors juggle skyrocketing costs, impossible choices” via Kate Cimini of the Fort Myers News-Press — Across the Sunshine State, long known for a laid-back atmosphere, affordable living, palms, sand and the ever-salty surf, older adults are facing a tough decision: pay five figures or more annually for the privilege of homeowner’s insurance, or go without. Others have cut wind from their homeowner’s policy, which means nearly all damage from a hurricane would go uncovered. Still more have left, or are planning to leave, the state for cheaper pastures. The Florida Insurance Commissioner’s Office recently predicted a sunnier future for the industry in a news release, welcoming eight new policy carriers to the state a year after the GOP-led state Senate passed a bill curtailing what industry advocates and legislative sponsors called “frivolous lawsuits” against insurance carriers.

Schools won’t rush to shift start times, bus schedules” via Jeffrey S. Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — Citing student health needs, Florida lawmakers have mandated that school districts ensure that middle school classes start no earlier than 8 a.m., and high schools by 8:30 a.m. They have until Fall 2026 to make it happen. So far, only a handful of districts have changed their schedules, most of which have high schools beginning their days much earlier in the morning.

Washington is coming after TikTok — so where are all the angry users?” via Christine Mui of POLITICO — When a bill that could ban TikTok raced through the House of Representatives six weeks ago, the company tried to sic its 170 million American users on Congress — pushing them to flood phones on Capitol Hill. That pressure effort largely backfired. Congress responded with a fast-moving new bill that the Senate could send to Biden’s desk. This time, lawmakers in the House and Senate report receiving few calls from the platform’s users. And though the company sent some push notifications to users urging them to lobby their Senators, it added a note: “Please be respectful.” The relative silence from the app’s massive user base — a mostly young, often fiercely loyal audience — reflects more than a change of tactics on the part of the company. It’s also because the app itself makes it hard to catalyze action, or even conversation, around breaking news topics.

Despite a call for angry users to contact elected officials, TikTok still faces a national ban.

Want to start a business? 5 Florida cities deemed the best for entrepreneurs, says WalletHub” via Samantha Neely of The Florida Times-Union — Sunday, April 28, kicks off National Small Business Week, with no shortages of businesses to support in the Sunshine State. WalletHub released a new report on 2024’s Best Large Cities to Start a Business, with five Florida cities taking up the Top 10 slots. “Starting a business can be very scary, considering one in every five startups doesn’t make it past the first year,” Cassandra Happe, WalletHub analyst, said. “That’s why it’s especially important to live in a city that provides an environment where new businesses can thrive, with enough capital, workers and customers to keep it going long-term.”

— 2024 — FLORIDA —

Trump shows ‘formidable lead’ over Biden among Florida voters, FAU poll says” via Nathaniel Rodriguez of WFLA — Trump continues to hold a strong lead over Biden in the state of Florida, according to a poll published Thursday by Florida Atlantic University. The poll showed that 50% of Florida’s registered voters supported Trump while Biden had 42% of the vote. The remaining 8% preferred alternate candidates. Even though this was still a strong lead for the former President, Biden appeared to have closed the gap from a previous poll by two percentage points. In a November 2023 poll, Trump had 49% of voter support while Biden had 39%.

A new FAU poll gives Trump an advantage over Biden in Florida.

Biden backs Debbie Mucarsel-Powell during Tampa visit” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Biden threw his support to former U.S. Rep. Mucarsel-Powell’s campaign for Senate. During a stop in Tampa, he called out the Miami Democrat by name in the crowd and said she must defeat incumbent U.S. Sen. Scott. “I want to thank Debbie, our next U.S. Senator. Debbie, stand up,” Biden said. “This is a critical race. Rick Scott wants to sunset Social Security. I think the voters are going to sunset Rick Scott.” The remarks came as Biden campaigned in Tampa for re-election himself. The Florida visit signaled a belief Florida that will be a battleground, especially with a Florida law going into effect next week banning most abortions six weeks into pregnancy.


Biden condemns ‘antisemitic protests’ and ‘those who don’t understand what’s going on with the Palestinians’” via Alex Gangitano of The Hill — Biden said he condemns antisemitic protests amid escalating pro-Palestine demonstrations at Columbia University and on other U.S. college campuses. “I condemn the antisemitic protests, that’s why I set up a program to deal with that. I also condemn those who don’t understand what’s going on with the Palestinians and their, how they’re being —,” the President said before getting cut off. He was then asked if the Columbia University president should resign and replied, “I don’t know that.” Just before taking questions from reporters, Biden was talking with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has been an outspoken voice during the Israel-Hamas war and last month claimed that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza.

Gaza protests could become an albatross around Biden’s neck.

Biden: I almost wanted to buy Trump Bible ‘just to see what the hell’s in it’” via Brett Samuels of The Hill — Biden mocked Trump on Tuesday for hawking Bibles last month and eviscerated the presumptive GOP nominee over his abortion record. Biden, visiting Trump’s home state of Florida, delivered remarks in which he squarely blamed Trump for the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and the subsequent state-level abortion restrictions put in place by GOP-led legislatures. “Maybe it’s coming from that Bible he’s trying to sell. I almost wanted to buy one just to see what the hell’s in it,” Biden added, drawing laughter from the crowd. “Folks, it was no miracle. It was a political deal … he made with the evangelical base of the Republican Party to look past his moral and character flaws in exchange for his commitment to appoint justices to the Supreme Court who would overturn Roe.”

Biden’s problem with younger voters isn’t only about Gaza” via Philip Bump of The Washington Post — Let’s stipulate at the outset that Biden’s ongoing difficulties with younger voters — stark when measured overall, less so when considered through the lens of party — are probably not heavily driven by enthusiasm for Trump. To some degree, sure. But if we accept that Biden is having trouble figuring out what message resonates with voters under 30, we should probably also accept that clunky, dishonest, obviously pandering appeals from Trump (like Monday’s “Crooked Joe Biden is responsible for banning TikTok” riff) aren’t a major driver. Often, analyses of Biden’s relatively poor performance among young voters center on his support for Israel’s response to the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks by Hamas. Younger voters are demonstrably more sympathetic to the Palestinians in Gaza than are older Americans, and many see Biden’s loyalty to Israel as a moral failure. Democratic concerns about how Arab Americans would view Biden in November have expanded to younger Americans more broadly.

‘Abandon Biden’ rallies Pennsylvania voters on Primary day” via Filip Timotija of The Hill — The “Abandon Biden” group is rallying Pennsylvania voters ahead of the state’s Primary contest to protest Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war. Biden has secured the Democratic nomination and has visited the Keystone State in recent weeks. Pennsylvania, a swing state in the 2024 General Election, carries 19 Electoral College votes and stands as an important battleground in Biden’s re-election path against Trump. The “Abandon Biden” effort is spearheaded by Muslim and Arab American voters around the country. Biden has dealt with similar efforts in other battleground states, including Wisconsin, Arizona, and North Carolina. The push won more than 13% of the vote in Michigan, representing more than 100,000 people in the state.

Could Trump go to prison? If he does, the Secret Service goes, too” via William K. Rashbaum of The New York Times — The U.S. Secret Service is in the business of protecting the President, whether he’s inside the Oval Office or visiting a foreign war zone. But protecting a former Pesident in prison? The prospect is unprecedented. That would be the challenge if Trump — whom the agency is required by law to protect around the clock — is convicted at his criminal trial in Manhattan and sentenced to serve time. Even before the trial’s opening statements, the Secret Service was, in some measure, planning for the extraordinary possibility of a former President behind bars. Prosecutors had asked the judge in the case to remind Trump that attacks on witnesses and jurors could land him in jail even before a verdict is rendered.

A secret pact at Trump Tower helped kill bad stories in 2016” via Shayna Jacobs, Tom Jackman, Devlin Barrett and Hannah Knowles of The Washington Post — Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign was repeatedly aided by the National Enquirer, which squelched potentially damaging stories about him and pumped out articles pummeling his rivals, the former boss of the supermarket tabloid testified Tuesday during the ex-president’s trial on charges of falsifying business records. Trump, the first former U.S. President to face a criminal trial, spent his day in the Manhattan courtroom fighting two pitched battles — one against the testimony of former tabloid executive David Pecker, his longtime friend, and another against the increasingly likely prospect that he will be punished by the trial judge for allegedly violating a gag order.

David Pecker tells the court about how he agreed to keep an eye out for Trump.

Trump is furious he got caught sleeping in court” via Margaret Hartmann of New York Magazine — If a normal person fell asleep during a high-profile trial over hush-money payments they made to cover up an affair with a porn star, how would they react? It seems likely they’d be embarrassed or angry at themselves. Instead, Trump has “privately raged” at the journalists who informed the public that he’s been unable to keep his eyes open in court, according to three sources who spoke to Rolling Stone. The magazine reported that Trump has been particularly focused on Maggie Haberman of The New York Times, with whom he’s had a long, complicated relationship. Last Monday, on the trial’s first day, she reported, “Trump appears to be sleeping. His head keeps dropping down and his mouth goes slack.”

Trump called this visa ‘very bad’ for Americans. Truth Social applied for one” via Adriana Gomez Licon of The Associated Press — The social media company founded by Trump applied for a business visa program that he sought to restrict during his administration and which many of his allies want him to curtail in a potential second term. Trump Media & Technology Group, the company behind Truth Social, filed an application in June 2022 for an H-1B visa for a worker at a $65,000 annual salary, the lowest wage category allowed under the program. Federal immigration data shows the company was approved for a visa a few months later. The company says it did not hire the worker. Filing for the visa sets the image of Trump the candidate, who has proposed a protectionist agenda for companies to “hire American,” in conflict with Trump the business owner, who has said his companies will use every tool at their disposal.

RFK Jr.’s quintessential campaign position: The blockchain budget” via Philip Bump of The Washington Post — Speaking at a rally over the weekend, though, independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. had a different idea. “We’re going to put the entire U.S. budget on the blockchain,” he said in Michigan, “so that every American can look at every budget item in the entire budget any time they want, 24 hours a day.” “We’re going to have 300 million eyeballs on our budget,” he continued, “and if someone is spending $16,000 for a toilet seat, everybody’s going to know about it.” This is a bad idea. It is also one that aligns so perfectly with Kennedy’s approach to politics that it’s hard to believe no one predicted this is where he would end up. Does Kennedy want to take budget information that’s already publicly available and put it on a blockchain? If so: OK? Feel free.


‘Grit and passion’: Latino Victory backs Sabrina Bousbar in CD 13” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Latino Victory Fund, an organization that supports Latino representation in politics, is backing Bousbar in her race for Florida’s 13th Congressional District. Bousbar is one of seven Democrats running for the party’s nomination to challenge incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Anna Paulina Luna. The organization cited her experience working with the federal government. Bousbar served as a senior adviser in the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR) in Biden’s administration. “Sabrina has a storied, proven track record of public service and community leadership. She was one of the countless government officials working tirelessly to help Americans survive the COVID-19 pandemic, proving her resourcefulness and steady hand in moments of crisis,” Latino Victory Fund President and CEO Sindy Benavides said.

Sabrina Bousbar shows ‘grit and passion,’ according to Latino Victory.

Carlos Giménez adds $178K to CD 28 defense war chest with boost from Majority Whip committee” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — U.S. Rep. Giménez raised more than $178,000 last quarter through a blend of personal checks, corporate contributions and a sizable infusion from a joint fundraising committee helmed by House Majority Whip Tom Emmer. Emmer Majority Builders, a committee the Minnesota Republican launched last year to support 31 GOP incumbents and candidates, transferred $27,000 into Giménez’s coffers in late March. It accounted for 15% of the sophomore lawmaker’s gains in the quarter. His Democratic challenger, retired Navy Commander Phil Ehr, amassed $125,000 in the same stretch while eschewing any donations from businesses or political organizations. But as was the case in the fourth quarter of 2023, when he outpaced the incumbent in fundraising, Ehr continues to lag far behind in cash on hand.

3 Conservative Manatee County Republicans enter race for Tommy Gregory’s House seat” via James A. Jones Jr. of the Bradenton Herald — Three conservative Republicans have announced plans to run for the House District 72 seat being vacated by Gregory. Gregory, who was in his second term, was recently selected to serve as the seventh president of State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota. Announcing their plans to seek the House seat are Richard Tatem, a first-term member of the Manatee County School Board; Bill Conerly, a former Manatee County Planning Commission member; and Alyssa Gay, a small-business owner. Pending the finalization of Gregory’s contract, he would start leading the college as of July 1, replacing longtime leader Carol F. Probstfeld. Gregory has not announced when he plans to step down from his seat in the Legislature.

Shlomo Danzinger, Surfside’s recently supplanted Mayor, seeks Miami-Dade’s top elected job” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Just over a month after Surfside voters ousted him from the town’s most prominent elected office, business owner Danzinger is running to unseat Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. He’s the fourth Republican and seventh person to enter the technically nonpartisan race for the county’s top government post. Levine Cava, a Democrat whom Danzinger endorsed for re-election in September, is the first woman to hold the job. She’s also the first Jewish person to serve as Miami-Dade Mayor. Danzinger made history in March 2022 by becoming Surfside’s first Orthodox Jewish Mayor.

Dave Eggers sticks with GOP, backs Chris Scherer for Pinellas County Commission” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Pinellas County Commissioner Eggers has weighed in on who he wants to succeed his colleague, Janet Long, on the dais in District 1. The Republican, who occasionally sides with Democrats on the dais, is backing Republican Scherer over the Democrat in the race, Cookie Kennedy. Eggers, who is known for his moderate approach to governance, cited a common GOP mantra in his endorsement, noting Scherer’s willingness to limit government. “As a business owner, Scherer understands that in order to make Pinellas County affordable again, we need less government, not more,” Eggers said. “Conservative fiscal policies, enacting term limits, eliminating red tape, and preserving opportunities for our local businesses are the keys to economic prosperity for Pinellas County.” Eggers said he looks forward to serving with Scherer, “to cut spending, roll back our taxes, and make Pinellas County affordable.”

Dave Eggers gives the big thumbs-up to Chris Scherer. Image via Chris Scherer campaign.

Bruce Rector, other Pinellas GOP leaders to host fundraiser for Scherer” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — New Clearwater Mayor Rector hasn’t officially endorsed Scherer for Pinellas County Commission, but it’s clear he’s a supporter. Rector is hosting a fundraiser supporting Scherer’s campaign for District 1, and an affiliated political committee backing his campaign. Other notable hosts for the fundraiser include Pinellas GOP Chair and Pinellas County Tax Collector candidate Adam Ross, Commissioner Brian Scott, and Pinellas/Pasco Public Defender Sara Mollo.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

Miami will consider this City Hall veteran to be the next City Attorney” via Joey Flechas and Tess Riski of the Miami Herald — A hiring panel’s choice for Miami’s next City Attorney is a 30-year veteran of the local government’s legal team, with a career that included years as the top legal adviser for the Miami Police Department during a time that it was monitored by federal authorities following a string of deadly police shootings of Black suspects. A Selection Committee appointed by Commissioners has recommended Deputy City Attorney George Wysong to succeed Victoria Méndez, who was removed from her position on April 11. Facing controversy over allegations of misusing her office and criticism from some Commissioners, Méndez was demoted to Assistant City Attorney for the remainder of her contract, which expires in June.

George Wysong is the leading candidate to be Miami’s next City Attorney.

‘Atrocious cruelty’: Haitian community leaders condemn Biden administration’s resumption of deportations to Haiti” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Haitian community leaders in South Florida are sharply criticizing the U.S. government’s resumption of deportations to Haiti even as the nation’s capital is wracked with gang-fueled violence. One high-profile critic of the Biden administration policy is U.S. Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, a Broward-Palm Beach county Democrat and the only Haitian American in Congress. She called it “atrocious cruelty” and a “misguided decision.” Community leaders and elected officials gathered in Little Haiti in Miami to condemn the policy. “This decision by the Biden administration is repulsive. It is heartless. It is indefensible. And it is unconscionable,” Marleine Bastien, Executive Director of the Family Action Network Movement, said in a video posted by WTVJ-Ch. 6.

What’s Broward’s new Superintendent’s plan for school closures? For now, hold meetings” via Jimena Tavel of the Miami Herald — Broward County Public School’s new Superintendent, Howard Hepburn, announced he would hold at least five more town hall meetings to discuss school closures, but School Board members questioned his idea, citing a lack of rationale and detailed plan. “I can’t clearly tell anybody what the plan is, because I still haven’t heard a clear plan,” said Daniel Foganholi, a Board member. “It’s almost like a mystery game. I don’t know what’s going on.” “I want to hear a clear plan. And I believe our community wants to hear the same,” he added.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

Ponte Vedra Beach lawyer appointed as new circuit Judge in Volusia County” via Frank Fernandez of the Daytona Beach News-Journal — Meet the new judicial finalists: the same (almost) as the previous judicial finalists. Gov. DeSantis will appoint a new circuit Judge from the six finalists to fill an opening in the 7th Circuit created by the April 1 retirement of former Circuit Judge James Clayton. Except for one additional finalist, five of the six finalists whose names have been forwarded to DeSantis for Clayton’s former seat are the same as were sent to DeSantis earlier this year for the open seat created by former Circuit Judge Raul Zambrano’s retirement in December. The one finalist for Clayton’s seat that wasn’t on that list was David Wainer III.

David Wainer III is a surprising pick to be a Volusia County judge. Image via the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Lawmakers must live in their districts; this Democratic Rep. hasn’t always reported living there” via Fresh Take Florida — A Democratic lawmaker in Orlando elected seven times to the state House in Florida has listed his home addresses on official paperwork outside the legislative districts where he has been elected. The discovery raises questions about whether Rep. Bruce Hadley Antone was legally eligible to hold office. When a reporter presented Antone recently with evidence that the address he provided to state officials may make him ineligible for office for House District 41 in Orlando and could make him ineligible to serve again if he wins the November election, Antone changed his residential address the following day from his house in House District 40.

Facing leaks, water damage, Supervisor of Elections will get new space for about $8.8M” via Sheldon Gardner of the Daytona Beach News-Journal — Volusia County Supervisor of Elections Lisa Lewis said her ceiling leaks often, especially after a big rain, leaving her and her staff to put out tarps to cover critical equipment when bad weather is on the way. But those days will be over soon. Lewis received approval this month for the county to buy the Gateway Village Shopping Center at the northwest corner of International Speedway Boulevard and North Woodland Boulevard in DeLand for new office and warehouse space. Current tenants in the shopping center include Spin City Laundry. The cost is over $8.8 million with another $2.5 million to prepare and fix some elements of the new building including its roof.

$5M Brevard tourism grant proposed for Brightline train station in north Cocoa” via Dave Berman of Florida Today — Brevard County’s Tourism Advisory Board on Wednesday will consider recommending a $5 million allocation toward construction of a Brightline train station in north Cocoa. Any support for that allocation also would have to be approved by the Brevard County Commission. Brevard County Commission Chair Jason Steele ― who also chairs the Brevard County Tourist Development Council ― said he will recommend that $5 million be designated for the train station from revenue generated by the county’s 5% tourist development tax on hotel and motel rooms, vacation rentals and other short-term rentals. Brightline has said it wants to have a station and a train stop on a site it owns in north Cocoa.

Orange County Commissioners spurn settlement to license strip club” via Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — Orange County Commissioners spurned a proposed settlement that could restore an adult entertainment license for an Orange Blossom Trail venue where a 15-year-old girl performed sexually explicit dances. But the decision exposes the county to other risks. Among them was an unfavorable court ruling invalidating the adult entertainment ordinance that could open up more sites for strip clubs in Orange County. The Board voted 5-2 against a negotiated agreement with a land trust that owns the property which has been a strip club for over 40 years under various names — most recently as Flash Dancer Topless Go-Go until a Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation shut it.

Before it was shut down, Flash Dancer Topless Go-Go had been around (under several names) for over 40 years.

Buchholz High’s renowned math team earns 16th state win in nearly two decades” via Lillian Lawson of The Gainesville Sun — The math team at Buchholz High School was once again named reigning champion at the statewide Mu Alpha Theta Competition this weekend. Come next school year, however, the team will lose an integral part: its coach. Over the past 19 years, Buchholz’s team has won the statewide competition 16 times under coach Will Frazer. This year, the team won first place in all four divisions of the competition: Calculus, Pre-calculus, Algebra 2/Geometry and Statistics. “The work ethic and seriousness with which they approached this year’s championship was amazing,” said Frazer. “This win is on my shortlist of all-time best victories.”


304-unit apartment development filed under Florida’s Live Local Act proposed for 22nd Avenue North in St. Pete” via St. Pete Rising — The City of St. Petersburg has received its first development application filed under Florida’s Live Local Act. The proposed development currently consists of a retail plaza that houses JB Factory Flooring and Studio Physique, a fitness studio. The 7.27-acre site is owned by ZSPR PROPCO of Tampa, LLC, and is under contract for purchase and development by Houston-based The Hanover Company, a private real estate developer. The purchase price was not disclosed.

New development is planned for St. Petersburg, part of the Live Local Act. Image via Google Maps.

Alligator on runway at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida captured, released into nearby river” via The Associated Press — A large alligator made its way onto the runway at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida where it had to be captured and taken away for release in a nearby river, officials said. The toothy reptile was spotted Monday morning beside the landing gear of a KC-135 aerial refueling aircraft, officials at the base in Tampa posted on Facebook. Officers with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission were summoned. They captured the animal and then released it into the nearby Hillsborough River. Alligators become more likely to wander into unfamiliar territory in April as they search for mates.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

Should Florida Attorney General get involved in FSU vs. ACC lawsuits?” via Matt Baker of the Tampa Bay Times — The state of Florida is weighing more involvement in Florida State University’s ongoing lawsuits with the Atlantic Coast Conference. In a letter from Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody to her peers in six other states, she wrote that Florida is “considering taking action” in the ACC’s suit against FSU in North Carolina. “In an attempt to pull a fast one and avoid Florida courts, the ACC rushed a suit against FSU in a North Carolina court without thinking through the legal consequences to its schools or their states,” Moody said.

Will Ashley Moody dive into the FSU/ACC fight?

Judge orders Florida State, ACC to mediation to settle suit” via The Associated Press — A Tallahassee judge has ordered Florida State and the Atlantic Coast Conference to enter mediation in hopes of settling a high-profile lawsuit that could dramatically impact the future of the league. Judge John C. Cooper technically approved the ACC’s motion to dismiss Monday but gave FSU seven days to amend its complaint because the university needs more specificity regarding key facts in a case he said, “is worth up to half a billion dollars.” The conference would have 20 days to respond afterward, and another hearing would be set. “The case is not over,” Cooper said. “The case will continue.” Cooper ordered the sides to begin mediation within 120 days. But a mediator cannot force an agreement, so the case could end up back in court. “I send every case to mediation except mortgage foreclosures,” Cooper said. “This is not being done any differently.”

Duval School Board picks 6 semifinalists in superintendent search; finalists picked May 7” via Steve Patterson of The Florida Times-Union — Duval County’s School Board narrowed its candidates for the next superintendent to six semifinalists Tuesday, planning to choose finalists after those six send written and videotaped answers to Board questions. The candidates will be asked to answer some questions in writing — 500 words or less per answer — while others must be videotaped to help the Board get a more human sense of the people who want to lead the school district.

Hate crime fines, jail time could triple under new City Council bill” via Hannah Holthaus of The Florida Times-Union — Two-hundred forty days after a racially motivated shooting at a Dollar General rocked the Jacksonville community, City Council members stood in front of the victims’ memorial supporting legislation to strengthen local hate crime penalties. A bill introduced to the Council Tuesday night could triple the fines or jail time for certain ordinance violations in the city if they relate to hatred or violence toward others. “I had members of the community telling me that we expect something, especially when three lives were taken away by someone who had a hate in their heart,” Jimmy Peluso, a City Council member who introduced the legislation, said Monday. “What are we going to do about it? At the very least, we can do this.”

Pensacola Council set to OK port’s first 8 pickleball courts” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — Pickleball at the Port of Pensacola is set to move forward with eight tournament-size outdoor pickleball courts under an updated lease with the city. The Pensacola City Council is set to approve a lease amendment that changes the property lines that will allow phase one of the Warehouse 4 Sports pickleball courts, announced in February, to move forward. The plans included eight tournament-size outdoor pickleball courts, a space for outdoor games like cornhole or giant checkers, and a waterfront concessions area with seating and views of Pensacola Bay. Under the updated lease terms, Warehouse 4 Sports will extend the public sidewalk along the water’s edge of the Commendencia Slip more than 150 feet to allow for public access to the restaurant and concession area of the project.


Third Democrat files to run for seat on Sarasota Public Hospital Board” via Earle Kimel of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — A retired hospital administrator from Chicago filed to run as a Democrat for at large Seat 1 on the Sarasota County Public Hospital Board, which governs the Sarasota Memorial Health Care System. The decision by Alan Jerome Sprintz, who served in senior administrative positions at Olympia Fields Osteopathic Medical Center, Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council, and South Suburban Hospital, brings the number of Democrat candidates to three and ensures a closed Primary among Republicans for three of the four open seats on the Hospital Board. “I have chosen to become a candidate for the Hospital Board because I saw a challenge to the goal of the community hospital to provide medical care to the community vs. profits for shareholders,” Sprintz said.

Another Democrat hopes to be elected to the Sarasota Public Hospital Board.

Sarasota County cuts all funds to United Way, including employee payroll deduction” via Christian Casale of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The Sarasota County Commission voted unanimously to cut ties with United Way due to its 211 helpline listing Planned Parenthood as a resource. The first resolution removed a payroll deduction program for county employees which would allow participants to have their money go directly to United Way or to other charities and nonprofits in the area, which United Way would facilitate. The program’s termination affects not only United Way Suncoast but also the United Way of South Sarasota. Chris Johnson, United Way of South Sarasota’s vice president of Community Impact, said that stopping the payroll deduction program will affect not just the United Way organizations but also the groups they facilitate donations to.

Manatee County activists call for new mental health program after Palmetto man’s death” via Michael Moore Jr. of the Bradenton Herald — Around a dozen protesters gathered in front of the Manatee County Commission building to demand mental health services as part of a campaign to seek justice for a Palmetto man who died in police custody. Supporters of 36-year-old Breonte Johnson-Davis, who died shortly after an encounter with the Palmetto Police Department in November, called on Manatee County Commissioners to implement a service that would connect callers with mental health professionals instead of police officers when appropriate. The Community Assistance and Life Liaison program, known as CALL, has emergency dispatchers send social workers to calls they may be better equipped to handle, such as mental health crises, suicide interventions, or even neighborhood disputes or homeless complaints.


Either you think these Florida kids deserve help, or you don’t” via Scott Maxwell for the Tampa Bay Times — The Orlando Sentinel recently shared a gut-wrenching story about the parents of some of this state’s sickest children either losing Medicaid coverage or bracing for losses.

Keep in mind: We’re not talking about kids with sniffles and headaches, but toddlers with traumatic brain injuries who need feeding tubes, wheelchairs and round-the-clock care. They are Florida’s most vulnerable residents.

The story was depressing, yet merely the latest in a long string of stories about various vulnerable populations. Now, we’re one of only 10 states rejecting billions of federal dollars meant to help struggling families. When you see a paralyzed or terminally ill child or an impoverished family, you either believe we have a collective, societal obligation to help them … or you don’t.

I submit this state has too many of the latter in charge. And too many people who just breeze past the dire headlines because they have the luxury of doing so. Because they aren’t personally affected.


Stinky Florida? DeSantis paints scary picture of weed amendment but misses key point” via the Miami Herald editorial board — DeSantis is appealing to voters’ fears of streets and businesses being overcome by the stench of pot smoke if a proposed Florida constitutional amendment is approved this Fall. It’s classical DeSantis: Amp up mental images of children under threat, choking on secondhand smoke — except he fails to mention that he and lawmakers have the power to pass laws to prevent that, even if the measure passes. DeSantis has, on more than one occasion, claimed that if voters pass Amendment 3 to legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 and over, the state will turn into some kind of stoner’s paradise where people would be allowed to smoke anywhere they want, including in public. Speaking of other states that have legalized weed, he said last month, “I’ve gone to some of these cities that have had this everywhere. It smells, there’s all these things.”


— ALOE —

‘Tortured Poets Department’ breaks record for weekly vinyl sales in just three days, as Taylor Swift sells 700,000 LPs over a weekend” via Chris Willman of Variety — It feels potentially unlucky to talk about “breaking records” when the subject is actual LPs, but there’s no way around combining these terms when we’re talking Swift, the modern queen of vinyl. She has broken her own record for the most sales of a vinyl album in a week, and did it in just three days, with 700,000 LP copies sold of “The Tortured Poets Department” over the weekend. The previous weekly record belonged to Swift’s release from last October, “1989 (Taylor’s Version),” which sold 693,000 copies in a seven-day period. Billboard reported the info on Swift besting her own recent high-water mark.

Taylor Swift breaks her own record for vinyl sales of ‘Tortured Poets Department.’

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame announces 2024 inductees: Cher, Jimmy Buffett, Mary J. Blige, Dave Matthews, Peter Frampton, Foreigner and more” via Chris Willman of Variety — The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame has revealed the names of 16 artists or other musical figures who will be inducted in 2024. It’s a diverse list. Surprisingly, Buffett pops up among the inductees — unexpected because not only was the late singer/songwriter not on the ballot this year but he had never even been nominated before. But the Rock Hall’s Committee was clearly in a sentimental mood after his death seven months ago and took the liberty of ushering Buffett in via a separate, non-voted category for “musical excellence.” That honorary category is also the side door through which the Committee installed two other performers who had been nominated before without ever being selected by voters: Dionne Warwick and MC5.

Disney sets August start date for Epcot Food & Wine Fest” via Dewayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel — Walt Disney World has announced the dates for the 2024 edition of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. The event will be held daily from Aug. 29 — the Thursday before Labor Day — through Nov. 23. This marks a return to the pre-pandemic scheduling of Epcot Fest. Last year, Food & Wine began in late July, a quick turnaround from the end of the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival on July 5. This year’s Flower & Garden, currently underway, ends on Memorial Day, May 27. The festival calendar became skewed in 2020 as a result of the pandemic and the four-month shutdown of Walt Disney World. When Epcot reopened in July of that year, the park presented a sort of mashup festival.


Happy birthday to state Rep. Berny Jacques, Josiah Johnson, Ed Montanari, Samantha Pollara, Matt Spritz, and Amanda Stewart of Johnston & Stewart Government Strategies.


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.

One comment

  • Dont Say FLA

    April 24, 2024 at 8:39 am

    Whoever MAGA/Russia pays to promote fake newzzzzzz, it’ll get done with or without TikTok. It’s not the platform. It’s the fake newzzzz from MAGAland.

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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.

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