Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 5.10.24

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Start the day HOT — with a dose of the best in Florida Politics.

Good Friday morning.

The masthead of Sunburn for next week is available to buy. If you are interested, please email [email protected].


Florida was a deep shade of crimson on Election Night 2022, and a new Florida Chamber poll indicates it’ll be nearly as red this November.

The top bullet point in the polling memo is not a shocker: Former President Donald Trump is leading incumbent Joe Biden at the top of the ticket. But what is shocking is how wide the gap is.

New polling suggests Florida will turn a little redder on Election Day.

Pollster Cherry Communications found Trump ahead by nearly double digits, 51%-42%. In 2020, he won by a mere 3%, which many labeled as a “landslide” by Florida standards.

There’s more good news for Trump 2024 — 53% of Florida likely voters said they approved of the job he did as President, while 63% of those polled disapprove of the current administration. Trump is on solid ground with Hispanic voters, too, with 76% remembering his term fondly.

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott’s chances of getting a second term are looking even stronger than Trump’s. Voters said they preferred the former two-term Governor over the presumptive Democratic nominee, former U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, by 15 percentage points, 54%-39%.

As in the presidential race, Scott’s margin is boosted by a substantial lead among Hispanic voters.

Meanwhile, the poll found this year’s marquee ballot amendments — one legalizing recreational marijuana and the other protecting abortion rights — teetering around the 60% mark needed to pass.

The pot amendment is on the wrong side of the magic number, with 58% of those polled signaling support and 37% saying they are opposed. The abortion rights amendment is sitting at 61%-29%, with 10% of voters still undecided.

The only amendment on the 2024 ballot that appears likely to cruise is the Right to Fish and Hunt, which will appear as Amendment 2. The amendment making School Board elections partisan is floundering at 29%-41%; the public campaign finance repeal is underwater 35%-45%; and the amendment to adjust homestead exemptions based on inflation is 49%-30% with about one in five voters undecided.

As for the top issues driving voters to the polls, the usual customers were near the top: 14% said property insurance, 10% said the economy, 8% said education and 7% said abortion rights.

The overall No. 1, however, was illegal immigration with 16% of voters saying it is the top issue facing Florida. It was the top issue for women voters, regardless of party, as well as Republican. Property insurance remains the top issue for men, Democrats and third- and no-party voters.

The Florida Chamber poll was conducted April 28-May 7 by Cherry Communications using live telephone interviews. It has a margin of error of +/- 4%. The sample included 223 Democrats, 256 Republicans and 130 third- and no-party voters for a total of 609 respondents statewide.

Spotted — At The Southern Group’s Tampa Bay Regional Round Table and 25th Anniversary Reception held last week: Sen. Danny Burgess; Reps. Danny Alvarez, Jennifer Canady, Lindsay Cross, Jeff Holcomb, Randy Maggard, Lawrence McClure, and Kevin Steele; Hillsborough County Commissioners Harry Cohen, Michael Owen and Josh Wostal; Pasco County Commissioners Jack Mariano and Chair Ron Oakley; Pinellas County Commissioners Charlie Justice, Janet Long and Kathleen Peters; Tampa Mayor Jane Castor; Port Richey Mayor John Eric Hoover; St. Pete Mayor Ken Welch; Tampa City Council members Alan Clendenin and Gwen Henderson, St. Pete City Council members Deborah Figgs-Sanders and Copley Gerdes; New Port Richey Council member Peter Altman; TSG’s David Altmaier, Oscar Anderson, Laura Boehmer, Stephanie Cardozo, Kelly Cohen, Rachel Cone, Chris Hagan, Courtney James, Karis Lockhart, James McFaddin, Seth McKeel, Mike Moore, Sydney Ridley, Erin Rock, David Shepp, Kaley Slattery, Jon Stewart, Olivia Vairo and Crystal Wagar. And Michelle Schorsch.

Tweet, tweet:


Americans for Prosperity-Florida’s political committee announced its first batch of endorsements for this year’s slate of state Senate races.

Four candidates are getting the nod from Americans for Prosperity Action: Incumbent Republican Sens. Bryan Avila and Corey Simon, and Republican Reps. Tom Leek and Stan McClain, who are angling to move to the upper chamber in November.

AFP-FL is all-in for Tom Leek and Stan McClain in their quest to move to the upper chamber.

“AFP Action is confident that these proven leaders will continue to serve the interests of their constituents in the Senate while advancing legislation that unleashes freedom and prosperity,” said AFPA-FL Senior Adviser Skylar Zander.

“Local leadership has made our state a strong example across the nation despite reckless policies from Washington. We look forward to delivering results for residents throughout the state and our grassroots activists are ready to connect with voters.”

Of the four, Simon is the only candidate running in a district carried by President Biden four years ago, and his narrow defeat of former Democratic Sen. Loranne Ausley was arguably the biggest legislative flip in 2022.

Avila, meanwhile, is running for re-election in Miami-Dade’s SD 39, which went for Trump 52%-47% in 2020. Leek and McClain are running for the safe red seats currently held by term-limited Sens. Travis Hutson and Keith Perry, respectively.


Tweet, tweet:

@AGAshleyMoody: Didn’t we learn enough from @WHOs failures from the pandemic? There are negotiations on the table to cede more authority to the WHO — measures that would threaten national sovereignty, undermine states’ rights and imperil constitutionally guaranteed freedoms. The federal government cannot delegate public health decisions to an international body, and we will resist any attempts to control our citizens.

@MarcACaputo: Political contributing is often a type of legalized bribery But the way Trump is so explicit about making a “deal” is going to raise eyebrows

@SteveLemongello: Congrats to Florida District 26 for being the only congressional district in the U.S. to vote for the loser of the last 4 presidential elections

@SheCarriesOn: It’s 95 degrees in Orlando. Not only does Florida not have statewide standards to protect outdoor workers from heat — records show lobbyists for construction & agricultural industries prioritized ensuring no city/county could establish any mandates either.

@LeaderBookFL: May is Law Enforcement Appreciation Month! Join me in thanking the brave men and women willing to sacrifice their own safety to protect our residents and keep our communities safe.

@NickDiCeglie: Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! Let’s take a moment to celebrate the incredible educators who inspire, challenge, and shape our future every day. Your dedication does not go unnoticed. Thank you for all that you do!

Tweet, tweet:

@JeffreyBrandes: Part of me feels like the scrub jay is a lateral move and not really an upgrade. Not sure many could tell the difference between a mockingbird. I get its ecological significance but the (flamingo) will still be the bird of postcards and front lawns. That being said, I’m firmly in the anything-but-northern mockingbird camp.


‘The Blue Angels,’ a feature documentary from J.J. Abrams opens in IMAX theaters — 7; ‘Bridgerton’ new season (part one) premieres on Netflix — 8; French Open begins — 10; Special Election to replace Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill — 11; Dave Matthews Band 2024 Summer Tour begins in Tampa — 12; Monaco Grand Prix — 16; Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday begins — 22; the 2024 World Cup begins — 32; DreamWorks Land officially opens at Universal Orlando — 35; season two of ‘House of the Dragon’ returns to Max — 37; ‘The Bear’ Season 3 releases — 48; ‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ premieres — 49; Freedom Month Sales Tax Holiday begins — 52; Universal Mega Movie Parade debuts — 53; Republican National Convention begins — 64; the 2024 World Cup ends — 68; 2024 MLS All-Star Game — 73; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games on NBC/Peacock — 76; ‘Deadpool & Wolverine’ premieres — 77; Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday begins — 80; ‘Alien: Romulus’ premieres — 98; Florida Primary Election — 102; Democratic National Convention begins — 102; second Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday begins — 106; Georgia Tech to face Florida State in 2024 opener in Dublin — 106; Tool Time Sales Tax Holiday begins — 114; 2024 NFL season kicks off — 119; Packers will face Eagles in Brazil — 119; first Presidential Debate — 129; Vice Presidential Debate — 138; second Presidential Debate — 144; third Presidential Debate — 152; Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour stops in Miami — 161; 2024 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 164; Florida TaxWatch’s 45th Annual Meeting — 173; 2024 Presidential Election — 179; Las Vegas Grand Prix — 192; ‘Mufasa: The Lion King’ premieres — 206; MLS Cup 2024 — 207; ‘Captain America: Brave New World’ premieres — 277; the 2025 Oscars — 296; Florida’s 2025 Legislative Session begins — 298; 2025 Session ends — 358; ‘Moana’ premieres — 408; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 439; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 439; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 545; ‘Avatar 3’ premieres — 587; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 724; Untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 741; Another untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 952; ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,092; ‘Avatar 4’ premieres — 2,051; ‘Avatar 5’ premieres — 2,773.


Ron DeSantis clears some ethics cases after two years, but others still languish” via Skyler Swisher of the Orlando Sentinel — DeSantis quietly signed 17 orders in October and November imposing fines and penalties for violations of the state’s ethics code, shortly after an Orlando Sentinel report highlighted dozens of cases awaiting his signature. The orders were only recently posted on the Governor’s website.

On a list of ethics violations, Ron DeSantis has moved at a snail’s pace.

The Governor’s action list included former Orange County Commissioner Betsy VanderLey, ex-Broward County Mayor Dale Holness and two “ghost” candidates in the 2020 state Senate election. Those politicians will now need to pay fines.

The Ethics Commission is responsible for investigating allegations of unethical conduct and recommending penalties, but the Governor plays a crucial last step in the process. His signature is needed for penalties to be imposed on many elected officials, candidates and public employees who violate the state’s code of ethics.

Inaction by the Governor means politicians don’t have to pay fines, even if they admitted wrongdoing and agreed to settle ethics charges.

DeSantis hasn’t acted on 41 other cases, including complaints involving Vanessa Baugh, a former Manatee County Commissioner who created a VIP COVID-19 vaccine list shortly after the shot became available, and Frank Kruppenbacher, a government attorney once considered one of Orlando’s most powerful people.

Advocates of good government said the slowness in imposing penalties, coupled with a bill that could make it much more difficult for the public to file complaints, shows that ethics is taking a back seat to other issues.


Ron DeSantis, First Lady distribute more than $100,000 to faith-based and nonprofits groups” via Mitch Perry of Florida Phoenix — DeSantis and First Lady Casey DeSantis traveled to the Panhandle on Thursday to give $140,000 in checks to social service groups from Hope Florida, a state-run program created in 2021 led by Ms. DeSantis that links people in need with social welfare and faith-based community organizations. “Government is not the solution to society problems, particularly when it comes to means-tested welfare,” Ron DeSantis said. DeSantis acknowledged, however, that there are people in need in this state, which is where Hope Florida comes into play. Since starting as a pilot program in 2020, the Governor said Thursday that 100,000 Floridians have been connected to assistance, and almost 30,000 Hope Florida recipients have either reduced or completely eliminated their reliance on public assistance. “That is a success,” he declared.

Look at this and try to tell me she’s not running:

Florida levies $1M fine to insurer over Hurricane Ian claims” via Gary Fineout of POLITICO — A Florida property insurer that has been a substantial donor to Florida Republicans has agreed to pay a $1 million fine over how it handled claims from Hurricane Ian, the massive storm that ripped into the state nearly two years ago. State regulators found Heritage Property & Casualty Insurance violated Florida’s insurance code, including failing to pay or deny claims within a required 90-day period and failing to acknowledge it received communications about claims. This is the largest fine handed down by state regulators in more than a decade. The last time regulators issued a fine this high was in 2013, when the state fined Universal Property and Casualty Insurance Company for $1.26 million, according to Samantha Bequer, a representative for Insurance Commissioner Michael Yaworsky.

A statement from Heritage CEO Ernie Garateix — “Heritage fully complied with OIR’s market conduct examination into our Hurricane Ian claims from September 2022 to February 2023. We also informed OIR that many of the same concerns they identified were also flagged internally and we have already taken significant action to address those concerns in order to better serve our policyholders. Our message to our policyholders is simple: We are committed to excellence and will never stop striving to improve. Heritage wants to be a valued partner for our policyholders in their time of need and the State of Florida.”

After state judge abdicates, Commission on Ethics to give ‘MAGA Warrior’ rare do-over hearing” via Dan Christensen of Florida Bulldog — In a highly unusual move, Florida’s Commission on Ethics will reconsider charges against controversial Republican State Rep. Randy Fine that it previously found probable cause to believe were true: that he abused and misused his elected office. A state administrative law judge who was scheduled to hold a public hearing/trial in the politically sensitive case starting May 14 instead has relinquished control and shipped it back to the Ethics Commission for a do-over. The judge was assigned to the case last July. The flip-flop came at the request of Fine’s politically connected attorney, Richard Coates. In a motion to the court on April 16, Coates suggested that Fine had been a victim of “potential disparate treatment.” Coates, general counsel to the Republican Party of Florida from 2011-2014 and a member of DeSantis’s Transition Advisory Committee on Government Operations, also told the judge he had “conferred with the [Ethics Commission] Advocate Elizabeth Miller” and was “authorized” by her to say that she did not oppose his request for a new hearing.

Thousands of Florida students scramble as college financial aid flaws mount” via Ian Hodgson of the Tampa Bay Times — Even after she managed to unlock her mother’s account, she still doesn’t know exactly how much she’ll have to pay for school — with less than two months before her first Summer term at Florida International University. More than 50,000 Florida high school seniors have played the same tense waiting game as the federal form’s botched rollout continues. As of late April, federal aid applications remain down about a third from last year. But that number doesn’t tell the whole story. Thousands of applications contained errors that made it impossible for university administrators to make aid offers to prospective students. Thousands more were rejected due to missing or conflicting information, leaving students scrambling to revise applications in time for impending enrollment deadlines. The combination of lagging submissions, rejected applications and miscalculated results means that completed, usable applications are down by at least 35% in Florida compared to last year.

Florida is No. 1 in vape sales, so why aren’t retailers celebrating?” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Disposable vapes are a big business, especially in Florida, but it’s a legally questionable one. Sunshine State vapers spent $410 million on disposables last year — nearly 10 times as much as New York, which has a comparable population of adult smokers. Circana’s figure is based only on tracked channels, with some estimates suggesting the true total could be twice that amount when underground sales are added in. One might think the sales figures would delight Florida retailers, but there’s an asterisk: About 90% of the disposables sold in Florida aren’t legal. Florida Retail Federation President Scott Shalley said that raises concerns about retailer responsibility. “Let’s be clear, there is a place for vapes in the marketplace. This is really an issue of ensuring products have been properly tested, and that they’re not falling into the hands of minors,” Shalley said.

Preserve or develop? The race against time to protect Florida’s Wildlife Corridor” via Jimmy Tobias of Florida Trident — When DeSantis signed the Florida Wildlife Corridor Act into law in the Summer of 2021, the occasion was met with a flurry of glowing headlines and general celebration by conservationists across the state. The “sweeping law,” as National Geographic called it, was meant to conserve millions of acres across Florida, connecting open spaces and key habitats to help safeguard the future of imperiled animals like Florida panthers, black bears and more. The idea behind the law is simple and science-based: The long-term survival of many Florida species is dependent upon their ability to move across the landscape, unimpeded by development, traffic, and other potentially damaging obstacles. Florida’s protected lands — from Everglades National Park to Osceola National Forest — need to be connected to each other by undeveloped corridors if they are to fulfill their true potential as wildlife habitats.

MeanwhileAfter Gainesville pizza problem, Ric Flair endorses Ashley Moody for Governor” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — “Spending Time With My Great Friend Ashley Moody, The Attorney General Of Florida Who I Totally Support Politically. I Think Things Are Okay In Florida. Hoping You Become The Next Governor! Much Respect! WOOOOO,” Flair posted to social media. Moody has not declared interest in being Governor at this point, though her name has been linked with many others in what is an embryonic field with several possibilities surfacing in 2025. Flair has long been a partisan of the Florida Gators and has frequented Gainesville. His most recent trip to Alachua County fell short of stylin’ and profilin,’ however, as Flair bickered with staff at a pizza place in Gainesville, an incident that TMZ reports he has since apologized for.

Ric Flair gives an early (very early) endorsement of Ashley Moody for Governor.

Up, up and not OK: Letting go of balloons could soon be illegal in Florida” via Cara Buckley of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Balloons released in the sky don’t go to heaven. They often end up in oceans and waterways, where they’re 32 times more likely to kill seabirds than other types of plastic debris. Despite this, humans like to release them en masse, be it to celebrate a loved one’s life or a wedding, or to reveal the gender of a baby. The practice is on the verge of becoming illegal in Florida, where the Legislature has joined a growing number of states to ban the intentional release of balloons outdoors. The balloon ban is rare for garnering widespread bipartisan support. It was championed by environmentalists and sponsored by two Republican lawmakers from the Tampa Bay area, state Rep. Linda Chaney and state Sen. Nick DiCeglie.

— 2024 — FLORIDA —

Three Sheriffs back Daniel Webster’s re-election bid — Republican U.S. Rep. Webster’s re-election campaign picked up endorsements from Polk Sheriff Grady Judd, Lake Sheriff Peyton Grinnell and Sumter Sheriff Bill Farmer Jr. “As a common-sense conservative leader and a family man, Congressman Daniel Webster understands the importance of keeping our communities safe,” said Judd, who added that Webster is “a fighter to end the crisis at the border.” Webster faces a primary challenge from former state Representative and current Lake County GOP Chair Anthony Sabatini in the race for Central Florida-based CD 11. The winner of the August Primary will be the heavy favorite in November.

More Central Florida Sheriffs are giving Daniel Webster the thumbs-up for re-election.

Whitney Fox lands major endorsement, with nod from Debbie Wasserman Schultz” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — U.S. Rep. Wasserman Schultz — the most powerful Democrat in Florida’s congressional delegation — is endorsing Fox for election to Florida’s 13th Congressional District. She’s the third member of the delegation to back Fox, following U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor and Lois Frankel in backing the former Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority Communications Director. “I am thrilled to endorse Whitney Fox for Congress. Like me, she believes in protecting women’s reproductive freedoms, safeguarding the environment, and ensuring that our families, seniors and service members receive the support they deserve. Florida needs a leader like Whitney to help fight for our values in Congress,” Wasserman Schultz said. Fox called the endorsement an honor.


What Donald Trump promised oil CEOs as he asked them to steer $1 billion to his campaign” via Josh Dawsey and Maxine Joselow of The Washington Post — As Trump sat with some of the country’s top oil executives at his Mar-a-Lago Club last month, one executive complained about how they continued to face burdensome environmental regulations despite spending $400 million to lobby the Biden administration in the last year. Trump’s response stunned several of the executives in the room overlooking the ocean: You all are wealthy enough, he said, that you should raise $1 billion to return me to the White House. At the dinner, he vowed to immediately reverse dozens of Biden’s environmental rules and policies and stop new ones from being enacted. Giving $1 billion would be a “deal,” Trump said, because of the taxation and regulation they would avoid thanks to him.

Donald Trump is making myriad promises to oil CEOs in exchange for $1 billion in campaign donations.

@Fineout: Here’s a line from new WaPo story that could be of interest to Floridians: “Trump told the executives that he would start auctioning off more leases for oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, a priority that several of the executives raised.”

Sen. Rick Scott bashes prosecutors and judge’s family — some of the very people Trump himself is forbidden from attacking under the gag order” via Kyle Cheney of POLITICO — Justice Juan Merchan’s gag order forbids Trump from verbally attacking the prosecutors working for District Attorney Alvin Bragg. It also bars Trump from commenting on the judge’s family. But that hasn’t stopped some close allies from unleashing rhetoric that Trump himself cannot. Today, that role was filled by Sen. Scott, who attended a portion of the trial proceedings and accompanied Trump into the courtroom. Scott went to a Fox News TV camera to mount the very criticisms that Trump is legally barred from making. He suggested the case against Trump is unfair because one of the prosecutors, Matthew Colangelo, used to work in the Justice Department. And he called Merchan’s adult daughter a “political operative,” noting that she has raised money for Democrats. He also swiped at the “lead prosecutor’s wife,” whom he described as a Democratic donor.

Trump’s VP pick could put a Senate appointment in the hands of a MAGA foe” via Henry Gomes and Matt Dixon of NBC News — If Trump goes with Sen. Marco Rubio, DeSantis would be in line to select his replacement — perhaps immediately if Rubio resigns and relocates to avoid the constitutional hang-up of having both candidates on the ticket residing in the same state. If Sen. JD Vance of Ohio becomes Vice President, Gov. Mike DeWine would pick a new Senator. Both Governors have recent, fractious histories with Trump, raising doubts about whether the people they appoint would meet the often-rigid right-wing standards of his MAGA movement. And while the succession dynamic will not necessarily sink Rubio’s or Vance’s chances of being selected, it is the subject of speculative conversation in both states.

RNC lawyer Charlie Spies was ousted after sustained lobbying from MAGA influencers” via Matt Dixon, Dasha Burns, Olympia Sonnier and Abigail Brooks of NBC News — Spies, a longtime staple of Republican political and legal circles, abruptly resigned as the Republican National Committee’s chief counsel in the middle of a weekend that brought together some of the party’s biggest dignitaries and donors, as well as served as an audition of sorts for potential Trump running mates. Spies was among those in attendance as the RNC-hosted events kicked off Friday at the Four Seasons Resort in Palm Beach, Florida. By Saturday he was gone, fired by Chris LaCivita, a top Trump adviser who is helping run day-to-day RNC operations.

Charlie Spies gets squeezed out from the RNC for not being loyal enough to Trump.

Florida Republican says he will file impeachment articles against Joe Biden” via Kirby Wilson of the Tampa Bay Times — U.S. Rep. Cory Mills says he is going to file articles of impeachment against Biden over the President’s decision to withhold munitions from Israel. Biden said Wednesday that he would not send some weapons to Israel if the country moves forward with an invasion of Rafah, a densely populated city in southern Gaza. The announcement infuriated many supporters of Israel, including congressional Republicans like Mills. “(Biden is) threatening our ally Israel after funding approvals in Congress if they do not stop operations to target Hamas,” Mills said. “These types of actions are what President Trump was accused of and impeached over by Democrats. They called it ‘Quid Pro Quo.’” Mills added that perhaps the phrase should be renamed “Quid Pro Joe.”

Spotted — Ballard Partners on The Chuck Toddcast episode “‘The Wolves of K Street’: Inside the D.C. lobbying industry,” as the one firm who supported Donald Trump when others were reluctant to do so: “Take a guy like Brian Ballard, who was well-wired in Florida Republican policy and then was like ‘no one else wants to be friends with Trump, all right I’ll do it,’” said host Chuck Todd. “He made $100 million in four years and he’s now a bipartisan firm … he has got offices now all over the country and he simply did it because he realized ‘I’m gonna go where many people are afraid to go … right to Donald Trump’s living room.’” To hear the entire episode, please click here.


Happening tonight:

— LOCAL: S. FL —

Jared Moskowitz uses taxpayer-funded mailer to distance himself from unpopular Biden border policies” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — It seems like typical campaign advertising. The mailer describes an elected official as “securing our border” and as someone who has “voted to disapprove” of the Biden administration’s border policies, which are widely unpopular with the public. It is, however, somewhat unusual. The mailer looks as if it could have come from a Republican — which is notable since it was sent out by U.S. Rep. Moskowitz, who, like President Biden, is a Democrat. It also was sent as “official business,” with the cost covered by the taxpayers. In it, the Broward-Palm Beach County Congressman says he has “worked across the aisle and supported policies to stop the flow of illegal immigration.”

Jared Moskowitz is using taxpayer money to show his disdain for Joe Biden’s border policies.

Francis Suarez attended Miami’s Formula 1 Grand Prix with his private equity firm” via Tess Riski and Sarah Blaskey of the Miami Herald — For the third year in a row, Miami Mayor Suarez hobnobbed his way around the Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix VIP scene and celebrity party circuit, chatting up billionaires and rubbing elbows with people who have business in Miami or with the Mayor. Throughout the weekend, Suarez dined at a private party in Surfside with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and a partner at the law firm that has paid Suarez more than $1 million in recent years, sported the city seal on his chest at an invite-only brunch with star athletes and then changed wardrobes to watch the race over two days from a VIP lounge with his political fundraiser and associates from DaGrosa Capital Partners.

Why would Miami bad-boy cop join DeSantis’ new State Guard? The answer seems obvious” via the Miami Herald editorial board — Miami’s notorious bad-boy cop Javier Ortiz — known for using racially-charged language and accused almost 20 times by citizens of using excessive force — could be deployed to aid Floridians in their most distressed moments as a member of the Florida State Guard. Ortiz might fit right in. No one embodies the bravado and chest-thumping the Governor seems to encourage in the state’s force like the Miami police captain. Ortiz agreed to give up his work-issued gun and work a desk job in exchange for getting his job back at the Miami Police Department following his firing in 2022. That was one of many times police chiefs tried to terminate Ortiz but ran into union protections. Ortiz might not have a criminal background, but it’s far from a good idea for the state to allow him to respond to crises when even his own employers at the Police Department recognize he should not interact with citizens.

Miami Commissioners punt vote on new city map, citing incomplete information” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — A legal ordeal over Miami’s district boundaries remains unresolved after Commissioners delayed approving a settlement agreement to replace the city’s existing map and cover hefty court costs of community groups that sued the city. Commissioners Joe Carollo, Miguel Gabela, Christine King and Manolo Reyes voted 4-0 to defer a vote on the agreement until April 23 and request a stay on the unresolved court case in the interim. Commissioner Damián Pardo, who sponsored a unanimously approved measure in January to settle a lawsuit over the map, was absent. The deferral Thursday marked the latest turn in a lengthy court battle to reconfigure Miami’s district lines to ones devoid of racial consideration.

—”83 local officials endorse Daniella Levine Cava for re-election as Miami-Dade Mayor” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics

Judicial races a rarity in Florida, but Broward and Palm Beach counties have some to watch” via Rafael Olmeda of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Incumbent Judges in Broward County are facing one of their safest years in recent memory, with only three drawing a challenge for the August Primary. They’re even safer in Palm Beach County, where 12 Judges are up for re-election and none are opposed. Judicial races are often among the most difficult for voters to weigh, largely because the rules don’t allow candidates to criticize each other, make partisan appeals or talk about how they will decide controversial cases. Candidates are left discussing their personal histories and commitments to civic causes. In recent years, Broward has seen its share of incumbents challenged for a variety of reasons.

One of the most iconic landmarks in Key West may actually belong to the Cuban government” via Nora Gámez Torres of the Miami Herald — One of the most iconic buildings in Key West, built by Cuban exiles in the 19th century as they fought for independence from Spain and now a Cuban heritage center, is in the midst of a legal battle over its ownership. The surprising question at the heart of the litigation: Whether the San Carlos Institute, on Key West’s storied Duval Street, actually belongs to the government of Cuba. A lawsuit in Miami-Dade court, which claims Cuba is the San Carlos’ sole owner, seeks the sale of the institute, and the proceeds turned over as compensation to the family of a man killed by Fidel Castro’s forces in 1959. The San Carlos Institute was founded by Cuban exiles in 1871 as a school and civic center, three decades before Cuba became a republic in 1902 after the Spanish-American War. The institute holds a special place for Cubans because 19th-century writer Jose Martí, Cuba’s national hero, used the institute in 1892 to publicize his intention to create the Cuban Revolutionary Party, which led to independence efforts.

Key West’s San Carlos Institute just might belong to Cuba.

Florida’s major power company prepares for hurricanes by dealing with a fake one” via The Associated Press — Under blue skies, officials at Florida’s largest power company dealt Thursday with the aftermath of a major hurricane that slammed into Miami and Fort Lauderdale — or a pretend one, anyway. Florida Power & Light is conducting its annual mock hurricane drill this week, simulating how it would respond if a hurricane struck the state and devastated the power grid. Hurricane Benito, with 135 mph winds, did not really hit on Wednesday, but it was imagined to be even stronger than real hurricanes Idalia and Ian, which seriously damaged portions of the state over the past two years. Ian was one of the worst disasters ever to strike Florida, killing 150 people as it hit the Gulf Coast near Fort Myers in 2022, leaving millions without power.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

Without sales tax extension, Orange school building plans face $2.7B shortfall, officials say” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — In the coming decade, Orange County Public Schools (OCPS) needs to build 15 new campuses, add classrooms to seven others that are getting crowded, renovate 96 older schools and replace roofs, air conditioning units, fire alarms and technology at campuses across the county. “The capital needs for the eighth largest district in the nation are significant and growing,” said Rory Salimbene, OCPS’ Chief Facilities Officer, during an Orange County School Board meeting this week. But the $2.7 billion worth of the projects OCPS wants to complete by 2033, including six of the new schools, cannot be paid for unless county voters extend a halfpenny sales tax they first approved in 2002, the district says.

Glen Gilzean wants additional $1M for Orange voter outreach, election security” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — Newly appointed Orange County Elections Supervisor Gilzean wants an additional $1 million to boost voter outreach efforts in his office’s next budget. Gilzean said his proposed 2024-25 budget also includes a significant investment in cybersecurity to protect voter data and the election process. “Thanks to local input from the community, we present a budget that honors taxpayers and increases opportunities for more citizens to access their right to vote,” Gilzean said in the statement. “This budget enhances voter engagement while delivering significant savings for Orange County taxpayers.” There was no additional detail released about the proposed 2024-25 budget. The 2023-24 budget for the elections office is $21.9 million. Gilzean did not say whether part of his voter outreach would be boosting vote-by-mail sign-ups. Because of a law signed in 2021 by DeSantis, Florida voters now must request ballots by mail every two years instead of four.

Glen Gilzean comes with a huge ask for Orange County voter outreach.

Treasurer for Winter Park Commissioner accused of paying minors to steal opponent’s signs” via Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel — The Treasurer for a newly elected Winter Park City Commissioner was arrested last month after allegedly soliciting minors to steal campaign signs for payment, court records show. Christopher Hoats was charged with misdemeanor charges of petit theft, and two counts of contributing to the delinquency or dependency of a minor, records show. He served as the Treasurer for Craig Russell, who last month won a seat on the Winter Park City Commission, according to public campaign filings. Neither Hoats nor Russell responded to requests for comment. Little has been revealed publicly about the investigation that led to charges being filed on April 30. A police report related to the situation reveals a few details but is heavily redacted.

Orlando’s LGBTQ community to get more mental health help from new nonprofit” via Caroline Catherman of the Orlando Sentinel — The nonprofit plans to begin offering free trauma-informed therapy to the LGBTQ community in August using volunteer licensed clinical social workers and volunteer interns from the University of Central Florida’s School of Social Work, kicking off with about $7,000 of initial funding from a collection of private donations and fundraising events. That money, plus future fundraising efforts, should support at least a rented therapy space, insurance and a clinical supervisor for the interns for the first year, Joseph Sivoli said. Beacon Health joins several other places in Orlando that offer free or low-cost LGBTQ mental health counseling such as Zebra Youth, The Mental Health Association of Central Florida and The Center Orlando. Even though there are already some mental health treatment options for Orlando’s low-income LGBTQ community, more are needed, said George Wallace, CEO of The Center Orlando.


St. Pete Council members grill Mayor, Rays-Hines on proposed deal” via Breanne Williams of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — St. Petersburg City Council has begun dissecting the deal that would allow the Tampa Bay Rays and Hines to redevelop Tropicana Field into the Historic Gas Plant District. The Council, acting as Committee of the Whole, on Thursday morning began to analyze a proposed development agreement Mayor Welch’s administration struck with the Rays-Hines team. The meeting is solely focused on the development surrounding the new Rays stadium. The Council will be reviewing the stadium deal at a later date. This is the first time St. Pete City Council — or any governing Board — has had the opportunity to publicly discuss the deal in the 15-plus years the team has been looking for a new stadium site. Questioning didn’t begin until after two hours of presentations, and the group took an hour recess for lunch at noon.

Ken Welch is under the microscope on the proposed Tropicana Field redevelopment.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

Lori Boyer wins backing for two more years leading Downtown development” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — While a special City Council Committee will take a hard look at the “future of Downtown” and the city’s redevelopment strategy, the future of the Downtown Investment Authority that oversees development will remain under the leadership of CEO Boyer for up to two more years during which time the agency will launch a search for the next CEO. The DIA Board will vote next week on extending Boyer’s contract against the backdrop of the Special Committee on the Future of Downtown kicking off its first meeting Monday about the effectiveness of DIA since its creation in 2012 as a semi-independent city agency. DIA Board members, who employ the CEO, said Boyer has had a successful run since 2019 in the face of headwinds such as the COVID-19 pandemic, rising interest rates, and hyperinflation that has made development difficult. Eleven new residential developments have opened since 2019 and six more are under construction.

Lori Boyer gets another two years to lead Jacksonville’s Downtown development.

Body camera video shows fatal shooting of Black airman by Florida deputy in apartment doorway” via Stephen A. Smith and Mike Schneider of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A Florida sheriff’s deputy announced himself as law enforcement just before fatally shooting a Black U.S. Air Force airman inside his apartment in the state’s Panhandle. Okaloosa County Sheriff Eric Aden presented the video hours after the family of Senior Airman Roger Fortson and their attorneys held a news conference in which they disputed that the deputy acted in self-defense. Aden rejected assertions made by civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who is representing Fortson’s family, that the deputy had gone to the wrong apartment, covered the door’s peephole and did not announce himself. The video shows the deputy arriving at a Fort Walton Beach apartment building on May 3 and speaking to a woman outside who described hearing an argument. The deputy then went up an elevator and walked down an outdoor hallway.


Cape Coral makes FEMA deadline, potentially saving flood insurance discount” via Luis Zambrano of the Fort Myers News-Press — Cape Coral announced that it reached its goal of providing full documentation to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), potentially keeping its 25% discount on National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) premiums throughout the city. The city was granted an extension till June 10 to provide the information and documentation to the agency, but the city held a news conference to announce it met the original May 9 deadline. “Today, we hand delivered thousands of pages of documents and a comprehensive handbook to FEMA, now we await their decision,” said Cape Coral Mayor John Gunter.

Cape Coral files FEMA paperwork under the wire to keep a 25% flood insurance discount.


Why those student protesters should get off the universities’ lawns” via Diane Roberts for the Tampa Bay Times — Where would the United States of America be if we allowed people to buck authority, say what they like and make a big noise over injustice and inequality? (OK, we might still be a colony of Great Britain, but would that be so bad?)

Just look at what’s going on at these so-called colleges: at UCLA, protesters built a tent city — most unsightly and full of youth wearing those Yasser Arafat scarves.

The Radical Youth say the whole thing was pretty peaceful, at least until a bunch of masked pro-Israel folks began shooting fireworks into their encampment. The pro-Palestinian students claim they called for help, but the cops probably had the evening off. The cops did show up the next morning and arrested 132 pro-Palestinian protesters but left the firework-throwers alone. Surely, they were simply celebrating the end of classes.

But seriously, these demonstrations and occupations and whatnot are getting out of hand. Things got a little nasty at Emory when this uppity woman, Chair of the philosophy department, objected to a cop clubbing a student, pointing out that perhaps he was using excessive force. Well, the cops showed her! They knocked her down and cuffed her — just as she deserved.

Well, university administrations have had enough. They’re shutting down all that free inquiry stuff. Students at the University of Georgia have been arrested for trespassing on their own campus. Other colleges are suspending students, kicking them out of their dorms. Hell, kick them out of school.

That’ll teach these kids to go around expressing opinions contrary to the wisdom of politicians from the President of the United States on down.

U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton rightly calls the campus protests “little Gazas.” (Obviously, those kids are building bombs and taking hostages out there on the quad!) He wants Biden to send in the 101st Airborne or at least the National Guard.

You will remember the National Guard did a bang-up job in 1970 showing those Kent State punks who’s boss.


The biggest way that elections have consequences” via James Surowiecki of The Atlantic — Late last month, the Federal Trade Commission issued what’s called a final rule — a new regulation — banning noncompete clauses in contracts for nearly all American workers.

Once the rule goes into effect, it will have a dramatic impact on the U.S. labor market. Workers will have an easier time starting new companies and bringing new products to market. And businesses that want to keep their employees from leaving to work for a competitor will likely have to pay them more; the FTC estimates that the ban could increase earnings for workers by more than $500 a year on average.

The rule change is a good one. It’ll give workers more power when dealing with employers, and it’ll make labor markets more efficient. And it happened for one reason only: Biden won the 2020 Election and then appointed people friendly to workers’ rights to the FTC’s Board. Presidents typically get blamed for economic problems that, in reality, they can do little about, and they get credit for economic successes that they had little to do with. But in the case of the noncompete rule, Biden really does deserve credit.

That illustrates a rather neglected fact of American politics: The character of the presidential administration that gets to run the regulatory agencies of government can have a tremendous effect on economic policy and on Americans’ everyday lives.

Although tax policy and spending programs are, of course, very important, some of the most potent levers that Presidents can pull to shape the economy these days are administrative and regulatory ones.

If November’s election ushers in a change of administration next year, perhaps the most economically significant difference will be who gets to pull the levers of the regulatory state.



ABC Action News Full Circle with Paul LaGrone on Channel 10 WFTS: ABC Action News political analyst Dr. Susan MacManus; Raymond James financial adviser Bill Dendy; and real estate expert Vincent Arcuri.

Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at politics in South Florida and other issues affecting the region.

In Focus with Allison Walker on Bay News 9/CF 13: A discussion of the National Osteoporosis Awareness and Prevention Month, and steps that can be taken to remain bone healthy. Joining Walker to discuss are U.S. Rep. Kat Cammack; Dr. Christina Jablonksi, Bone Health and Osteoporosis Care, Orlando Health; and Dr. Adam Jester, trauma surgeon, Orthopedic Medical Group of Tampa Bay.

Political Connections on Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete and Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: The weekly Sunday show is launching as a joint weeknight show airing Monday through Friday at 7 p.m.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Steve Vancore speaks with political blogger Brian Burgess.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Jacksonville City Council President Ron Salem; Nick Howland, executive director of The Fire Watch, Florida’s Fight to End Veteran Suicide; and Tucker Stachitas, vice president of Client Services, NLP Logix, a data analytics firm

— ALOE —

Florida’s weekly first-time jobless claims fall again in first week of May” via Drew Dixon of Florida Politics — May started off on a good note for Florida’s job market, with another decrease in first-time unemployment insurance claims. That weekly figure dropped for the seven-day stretch ending May 4. There were 5,680 first-time jobless claims in Florida last week, using seasonally non-adjusted statistics. That’s down from the previous week’s figure of 5,989, a drop of 309 first-time filings in the Sunshine State. The Florida numbers buck the national trends, according to the DOL. Using seasonally unadjusted data, there were 209,324 initial unemployment claims across America for the week ending May 4. That’s an increase over the previous week’s initial unemployment claims by 19,390 filings. That’s a 10.2% increase on the national level for the week.

Florida’s job market is looking a little better in May. Image via AP.


Happy birthday to our friend Ryan Wiggins, Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, reporter Bobby Caina Calvan, and Tom DiGiacomo.


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

  • ScienceBLVR

    May 10, 2024 at 1:34 pm

    Just curious as to what the age range of those surveyed in the poll? Live telephone interviews? Who answers phones from an unknown pollster? Same issues apply to most polls, I guess, but in Florida in particular I wonder..

Comments are closed.


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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