Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 5.20.24

Sunburn Orange Tally (8)
Good morning. ‘Sunburn’ has been waiting for you.

Good Monday morning.

Continental Strategy founder and former Donald Trump Amb. Carlos Trujillo is joining Marcman Solutions as a Senior Advisor. The move adds to Trujillo’s growing résumé as he continues run Continental Strategy offices in Washington, D.C., and Florida.

A lawyer and former state Representative, Trujillo brings knowledge on U.S. and Latin American politics and business and has strong ties to the Hispanic community, as well as to state and national leadership across the Americas.

In his role at Marcman Solutions, Ambassador Trujillo will work hand-in-hand with the company’s executive leadership in addressing critical public and private sector challenges.

Continental, the lobby firm Trujillo founded just a few years ago, is now the No. 12 firm in executive branch lobbying compensation in Florida.

Carlos Trujillo is bringing his extensive knowledge to Marcman Solutions.

“We are honored that Ambassador Trujillo will deliver his experience and talents alongside the senior leadership of Marcman Solutions. Our clients in the public and private sectors will benefit from his extensive understanding of how to solve problems in the public and private sectors by leveraging relationships and subject matter expertise across the Americas,” said Marcman Solutions CEO Russell Marcus.

Trujillo added, “Working alongside Russell and the Marcman Solutions senior team embodies a commitment to effecting meaningful growth and success for our clients. I look forward to leveraging my background and relationships to navigate the intricate landscape of public and private sector challenges.”

In 2017, Trujillo was appointed by former President Trump to serve as the U.S. Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States and was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate.


Republican Sam Greco picked up an endorsement from the man he hopes to replace in Northeast Florida’s House District 19.

“I am proud to endorse Sam Greco in his campaign to succeed me in House District 19,” House Speaker Paul Renner said in a news release.

“Sam’s time as a Naval Officer, commitment to public service, and steadfast support for our shared conservative values make him the right choice to represent the district. Sam has the vision and determination to deliver real solutions for the people of HD 19, and I have no doubt that Sam will be an outstanding Representative for our community here in Northeast Florida.”

Sam Greco gets the thumbs-up from the man he wishes to replace.

Greco said, “I am incredibly honored to receive the endorsement of House Speaker Paul Renner. Speaker Renner is responsible for passing the most consequential conservative agenda in Florida’s history and every Floridian is better off because of his leadership.

“His dedication to public service and our conservative principles has been an inspiration to me and so many others. I am committed to upholding these values and continuing his incredible work of delivering for the people of our district and state.”

Greco, a Navy JAG Officer, is one of four Republicans running for the seat, which covers Flagler and part of St. Johns counties. He faces Darryl Boyer, Matthew Nellans and James St. George in the Primary. Democrat Thomas Morley is also running.

However, HD 19 is reliably Republican.


Lance Watson is taking over as the Florida Farm Bureau Federation’s Director of National Legislative Affairs, effective June 1.

Watson comes to the Bureau with experience as the Capital Area Regional Director for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. He also has experience with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Public Service Commission.

Lance Watson will serve as Director of National Legislative Affairs for the Florida Farm Bureau Federation.

A Florida native, Watson grew up on his family’s farm in Gadsden County. He is a two-time graduate of Florida State University, obtaining a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in public policy.

Watson resides in Quincy with his wife, Kelsey, and their 11-month-old son, Sterling Lance Watson III.


Personnel note: Taniel Koushakjian starting chief comms role at SFWMD” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Koushakjian is joining the South Florida Water Management District to serve as Chief Communications & Public Policy Officer at the district’s Office of Communications and Public Engagement. Koushakjian joins the SFWMD after just over a year and a half as Senior Vice President at Potomac International Partners. Koushakjian has been involved in political and legislative affairs for years before joining the SFWMD. He worked for some Armenian advocacy organizations early in his career, the bulk spent with the Armenian Assembly of America. He ran an unsuccessful campaign for the Palm Beach County Commission in 2016 before founding his own government affairs and public relations firm in 2017 called BreakThru Strategies.


@BarackOBama: Today marks 70 years since the Supreme Court handed down its landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education, outlawing racial segregation in America’s schools. Let’s honor the memory of the civil rights leaders, families, and children who took extraordinary risks in order to make our schools — and ultimately our country — more fair and more free. And at a time when our public schools are growing more segregated, let’s remember that our work isn’t done until every child can get an education worthy of their promise.

@MarcACaputo: Re: (Joe) Biden’s speech & enthusiasm problem with Black males voters: Biden is meeting them where they are He’s trying If Biden wins, it will be because he’s trying to fix his various demo problems Trump isn’t doing that as much (in part because Trump is marginally ahead)

Tweet, tweet:

@Fineout: R.I.P. (Alice) Stewart worked on the first Rick Scott campaign in 2010 when he had difficulty hiring Fla people. She helped him in debate prep for Primary

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@Paul_Renner: The lifelong friendships made in this process are perhaps the part of it I’m most thankful for. Today, we join her precious family and all who love her in celebrating the birthday of one of those treasured friends. Happy birthday, @Kathleen4SWFL.

Tweet, tweet:

@BMcNoldy: The 106°F heat index in Miami at 11 a.m. breaks the old daily record by 5°. The heat index never exceeded 105° from Oct. 8 through May 26 … until now.


Special Election to replace Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill — 1; Dave Matthews Band 2024 Summer Tour begins in Tampa — 2; 72nd annual three-day Florida Folk Festival begins — 4; French Open begins — 5; Monaco Grand Prix — 7; Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday begins — 13; the 2024 World Cup begins — 23; DreamWorks Land officially opens at Universal Orlando — 26; season two of ‘House of the Dragon’ returns to Max — 28; CNN Presidential Debate — 38; Tiana’s Bayou Adventure opens at Disney World — 39; ‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ premieres — 40; Freedom Month Sales Tax Holiday begins — 43; Universal Mega Movie Parade debuts — 44; Republican National Convention begins — 55; the 2024 World Cup ends — 59; 2024 MLS All-Star Game — 64; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games on NBC/Peacock — 67; ‘Deadpool & Wolverine’ premieres — 68; Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday begins — 71; ‘Alien: Romulus’ premieres — 89; Florida Primary Election — 93; Democratic National Convention begins — 93; second Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday begins — 97; Georgia Tech to face Florida State in 2024 opener in Dublin — 97; Tool Time Sales Tax Holiday begins — 105; 2024 NFL season kicks off — 110; Packers will face Eagles in Brazil — 110; first of three Presidential Debates — 120; Vice Presidential Debate — 129; second Presidential Debate — 133; third Presidential Debate — 143; Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour stops in Miami — 152; 2024 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 159; Florida TaxWatch’s 45th Annual Meeting — 168; 2024 Presidential Election — 169; Legislature’s 2025 Organizational Session — 183; Las Vegas Grand Prix — 183; ‘Mufasa: The Lion King’ premieres — 200; MLS Cup 2024 — 201; ‘Captain America: Brave New World’ premieres — 268; the 2025 Oscars — 287; Florida’s 2025 Legislative Session begins — 289; 2025 Session ends — 349; ‘Moana’ premieres — 399; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 430; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 430; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 537; ‘Avatar 3’ premieres — 579; ‘Avengers 5’ premieres — 715; Untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 732; Another untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 943; ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,083; ‘Avatar 4’ premieres — 2,042; ‘Avatar 5’ premieres — 2,764.


Donald Trump is eager to prove Florida is his kingdom — by anointing Ron DeSantis’ successor” via Kimberly Leonard and Mia McCarthy of POLITICO — During a high-dollar fundraiser at the Pierre in Manhattan Tuesday night, Trump pointedly asked Rep. Byron Donalds if he planned on running for Governor.

A smiling Donalds told POLITICO he answered Trump: “That’s what I hear.”

Trump, apparently toying with the hopeful pol, then noted that he had a lot of friends who were likely to enter the race.

Donald Trump has something to prove in Florida. Image via AP.

Trump’s exchange with Donalds — which was in front of other people — quickly came out. It was a stark reminder that, even amid a public peace treaty with ex-Primary rival DeSantis, Trump is eager to show he has every intention of dominating the state they both call home well past the 2024 Election. It also amped up suspense about when, how and whether Trump would endorse and spilled the already active jockeying for 2026 into public view.

Trump’s hyper-early comments suggest he’s eager to reprise his role as kingmaker. It’s one he relishes all over the U.S. — but probably nowhere more famously than in Florida, where he helped DeSantis, once a little-known member of Congress, rocket to the GOP nomination and then the Governor’s Mansion in 2018. It was a decision Trump would later grow to regret.

The quick succession of Floridians to Manhattan shows that they, too, are acutely aware that Trump is keeping score of who showed up to support him in 2024 — and that it could all pay dividends in 2026.

— 2024 — FLORIDA —

Most Americans support abortion rights nationally, Pew poll finds” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — A majority of Americans support abortion being legal two years after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. About 63% — which is “a model uptick” — believe abortion should be legal nationwide, the Pew study found. “About six-in-ten (63%) say abortion should be legal in all or most cases. This share has grown 4 percentage points since 2021 — the year before the 2022 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that overturned Roe,” Pew said this week. The study comes as Florida voters are set to decide Amendment 4 to preserve abortion rights in the November election.

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— 2024 — DOWN-BALLOT —

Entire House GOP leadership team endorses Mike Haridopolos” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The entire Republican leadership team in the U.S. House is endorsing former Florida Senate President Haridopolos for Congress. Majority Leader Steve Scalise, Majority Whip Tom Emmer and Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik all announced their support. Haridopolos, an Indian Harbour Beach Republican, filed to succeed U.S. Rep. Bill Posey, a retiring Republican in Florida’s 8th Congressional District. “Families can’t afford more of Joe Biden and the Democrats’ failed leadership,” said Scalise. “That’s why I’m proud to support Mike Haridopolos for Congress. Mike will help us roll back the damage done to our country by (President Joe) Biden’s radical policies and secure our border once again. Mike’s a proven conservative and he’ll fight for our America First agenda.” The support from the No. 2, 3 and 4 Republicans in the House came days after Speaker Mike Johnson endorsed Haridopolos.

Happening tonight:

—“South Miami Mayor endorses Lucia Báez-Geller for Congress” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics

Ebo Entsuah drops out of race to succeed Dennis Baxley” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Former Clermont City Council member Entsuah dropped out of the race to succeed state Sen. Baxley. The Republican instead endorsed state Rep. Keith Truenow, who recently won the support of the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee. “Thank you to everyone who supported my campaign throughout this race,” Entsuah posted. “After prayerful consideration, I am withdrawing from the race and extending my support to Keith Truenow and I encourage all my supporters to as well. Thank you again for your support.” Entsuah announced he would seek the open seat in Senate District 13 in April 2023, more than a year ago. Twice elected in Clermont, he boasted one strong political connection to Tallahassee as a former congressional aide to DeSantis.

Ebo Entsuah steps aside. Image via Facebook.

20 current, former lawmakers endorse David Silvers for Senate via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — The endorsements are pouring in for Lake Clarke Shores Democratic Rep. David Silvers’ bid to take the seat representing Senate District 26 in two years. Silvers’ campaign over the weekend announced the endorsements of 20 current and former Democratic state lawmakers. Among them: Jacksonville Sen. Tracie Davis, who will be Senate Minority Leader in 2026; Miami Gardens Sen. Shevrin Jones, who serves as Chair of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party; and St. Petersburg Sen. Darryl Rouson. In a statement Monday, Silvers said the flood of support speaks to his “ability to bring forward real solutions to improve the lives of Florida’s youth, families, and seniors.”

Fabián Basabe to launch House re-election campaign in Miami Beach” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Rep. Basabe is officially kicking off his re-election bid for House District 106. Basabe will hold a launch event May 30 at a to-be-disclosed Miami Beach venue. He’s hosting the event with support from House Speaker-designate Daniel Perez, Rep. Jennifer Canady, Rep. Sam Garrison and others, his campaign said. “I believe that when people work together to solve big problems, amazing things are possible,” Basabe said in a statement. “Whether you live on Miami Beach, in Sunny Isles, Aventura, or North Miami, you know that District 106 is a diverse and iconic corner of our state that needs leaders willing to bring people together and bring ideas to life.” A wealthy socialite and former reality TV personality, Basabe narrowly won his HD 106 seat in November 2022, flipping the long-blue district red for the first time in decades through a mostly self-funded campaign.

Mario Diaz-Balart backs Tom Fabricio for HD 110 — U.S. Rep. Diaz-Balart is endorsing Rep. Fabricio in his bid for re-election in state House District 110. “State Rep. Tom Fabricio has been a strong Republican champion for the people in his district,” he said. “In the Legislature, he has fought hard to create more economic opportunities for Floridians and support smart growth throughout Miami. It has been a pleasure working alongside Tom to strengthen our South Florida communities, and I look forward to continuing to work with him to preserve the American Dream and keep our state the Free State of Florida. I fully support Rep. Tom Fabricio for re-election in state House District 110.”

Jenny Lee Molina files, withdraws from challenge to Vicki Lopez in HD 113” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — For a moment there, it appeared Rep. Lopez might not be running unopposed after all. Molina, a Democratic publicity specialist who has worked since April 2023 as Daniella Levine Cava’s senior digital strategist, filed paperwork Friday to challenge Lopez in House District 113. She pulled out hours later. “I believe in ‘small d’ democracy. With no Democratic candidate running in this seat and the filing deadline looming, I stepped up because voters deserve a choice, but I have since decided to withdraw my candidacy,” she said. “I have the skills to be an effective state Representative for this beautiful and diverse district and had every intention to serve the residents of HD113, listen to their concerns, and deliver on their needs, not my own. Unfortunately, I feel that to do so effectively I would need to leave my current employment. I personally hope another Democratic candidate enters this uncontested race.”


Joe Biden and Trump hunt for breakthrough moment in stagnant election” via Catherine Lucey and Aaron Zitner of The Wall Street Journal — Tens of millions of dollars in TV ads has failed to lift Biden’s historically weak approval ratings. Trump, currently a criminal defendant stuck in a New York courtroom, last week turned to lower-wattage allies such as the North Dakota Governor and the House Speaker to talk to voters on his behalf. Democrats and Republicans have been eager to shake up a stagnant race in which neither man, thus far, has a clear-cut edge. That goal burst into public view last week when Biden and Trump, in a surprise development, agreed to roll the dice and appear next month in the earliest-ever televised Presidential Debate. They want to use the high-profile event to draw contrasts in their messages — and between themselves as messengers.

Both sides are hoping for a breakthrough.

Accepting NRA endorsement, Trump pledges to be gun owners’ ardent ally” via The New York Times — Trump, accepting the endorsement of the National Rifle Association on Saturday, cast himself as a powerful ally for gun owners and gun businesses, contending that under Biden the right to bear arms was “under siege.” “If the Biden regime gets four more years, they are coming for your guns,” Trump said in Dallas, where he headlined the NRA’s annual meeting. Trump addressed the group as he is on trial in New York on criminal charges that he falsified business records related to a hush-money payment to a porn actor. Onstage in Dallas, he contended that he knew “better than anybody” what it was like to have rights taken away. “In my second term, we will roll back every Biden attack on the Second Amendment,” he said to loud applause.

‘Team of felons’: Pardoned criminals, conspiracy theorists backing Trump’s 2024 run” via Zac Anderson of USA Today — Michael Flynn and Roger Stone are spending time with Trump at Mar-a-Lago, Mike Lindell is warming up the Trump rally crowd and Steve Bannon is plotting election strategy with Donald Trump Jr. on his show. Paul Manafort and Corey Lewandowski may be back in the fold too, and far-right firebrand Laura Loomer nearly joined Trump’s campaign as some of the most controversial figures in his orbit over the last few years rally around the Republicans’ presumptive 2024 presidential nominee for another election cycle. Trump is embracing his crew of convicted criminals, conspiracy theorists and the most outlandish of his high-profile backers. They played key roles in some of the most infamous aspects of his past campaigns and his presidency.

Um, good looking? — “Rich, loyal and good looking: Why little-known Doug Burgum is in Trump’s VP mix” via Vivian Salama and Alex Leary of The Wall Street Journal — As court adjourned for lunch Tuesday in his hush-money trial, Trump’s lawyers, family and friends poured into the court’s holding room for some of New York City’s finest pizza. North Dakota Gov. Burgum, among them, popped in and out to defend Trump in front of news cameras. Last weekend, Burgum was a warmup act at Trump’s rally in New Jersey — far from his home state on the Plains. And earlier this month, Burgum and his wife, Kathryn, mingled with party officials and megadonors at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida and again Tuesday at a hotel overlooking New York’s Central Park.

‘Politically calculated’: Trump confronts his Robert F. Kennedy Jr. problem on vaccines” via Lisa Kashinsky, Kimberly Leonard, and Brittany Gibson of POLITICO — Trump’s long-fraught relationship with the COVID-19 vaccine is again becoming a political liability for the former President as he tries to stop his voters from potentially defecting to Kennedy. Trump is threatening to “not give one penny” to schools or colleges that mandate the COVID-19 vaccine. He is accusing Kennedy of being a “fake” anti-vaxxer. And he is rarely mentioning what he once touted as “one of the greatest miracles” of his presidency — his program to speed development of the vaccine.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. uses major cash infusion from his running mate to fund ballot access efforts” via Jessica Piper of POLITICO — A major cash infusion from his running mate helped Kennedy Jr.’s long shot presidential campaign substantially ramp up spending on ballot access in April. An $8 million donation from Silicon Valley lawyer Nicole Shanahan helped the Kennedy campaign spend $6.5 million in the month of April, up nearly 50% from March. A firm that works on ballot access accounted for more than one-third of the monthly expenditures. Other major expense categories for Kennedy’s campaign in April included $404,000 paid to the firm of Gavin de Becker for security services and $398,000 spent on online advertising.


More ethics turmoil as Ashley Moody’s chief ethics prosecutor quits amid probe she misused job to query state database” via Dan Christensen of the Florida Bulldog — The head of the Attorney General’s Ethics Bureau, which prosecutes cases before the Ethics Commission, quit abruptly last month after being confronted with evidence she misused her position to improperly query Florida’s Highway Safety and Motor Vehicle database. Elizabeth “Buff” Miller, now a former Chief Assistant Attorney General, was looking to obtain information about a defendant in a 2011 civil lawsuit in which Miller was the plaintiff’s attorney, according to a report of an investigation by the Attorney General’s Office of Inspector General. The 11-page report cites a half-dozen violations of various “laws, rules, regulations or policies” by Miller for what it says was a “non-business-related query.”

Elizabeth “Buff” Miller steps down.

Unemployment rate ticks up to 3.3% in April” via Drew Dixon of Florida Politics — Florida’s unemployment rate saw an uptick in April compared to March. The Sunshine State’s April jobless rate came in at 3.3%, an increase of 0.1 percentage points compared to March. It’s the same increase seen in March when compared to the February unemployment rate. While there was a slight increase in Florida’s unemployment rate, the state’s jobless figure remains well below the national rate. The U.S. Department of Labor reported that the April unemployment rate across America was 3.9%, which was an increase compared to the March mark of 3.8%. Florida Secretary of Commerce J. Alex Kelly seized on the upbeat unemployment news. “Thanks to Gov. DeSantis’ investments in workforce education, infrastructure and Florida’s overall financial readiness, Florida is now a state with significant growth in high wage, high demand, high-tech and manufacturing jobs, even compared to just five years ago,” Kelly said.

Florida child welfare agency wages legal battle, seeks felony charge for ex-watchdog” via Carol Marbin Miller — As the state’s long-time child welfare ombudsman, it was Heather Cox Rosenberg’s job to fight for Florida’s foster children and their parents – an assignment her former employer accused her of sometimes doing too well. She even sued her bosses in an effort to get help for her own adoptive children. On Friday, the agency where Rosenberg used to work went to court to strip her of custody of one of her three children, telling a Tallahassee judge she had effectively abandoned him by refusing to take the boy home following a protracted psychiatric hospitalization.

Farmworkers brace for tragedy after state fails to protect them and scorching summer looms” via Noreen Marcus of Florida Bulldog — DeSantis made news last week by enshrining climate change denial in state law, just as 2024 is shaping up to be the hottest year on record with a predictably hyperactive hurricane season. The state’s 2 million outdoor workers can only brace for more senseless tragedy. An extensive  effort to protect them from heat-related conditions that cause illness and death failed spectacularly this year when legislators stepped up instead to pass a law that bars municipalities from creating their own safeguards.


Marco Rubio won’t commit to accepting 2024 Election results” via Alexandra Marquez of NBC News — Rubio refused to say whether he would accept the results of the 2024 Presidential Election, instead blaming Democrats for sowing doubts about the election. Rubio said, “I think you’re asking the wrong person. The Democrats are the ones that have opposed every Republican victory since 2000. Every single one.” He added, “And you have Democrats now saying they won’t certify 2024 because Trump is an insurrectionist and ineligible to hold office. So you need to ask them.” Rubio’s refusal to say if he would accept the results of the 2024 Election is notable because he did vote to certify the presidential election for Biden.

—”Rubio once called Trump’s mass-deportation plans ‘unrealistic.’ Now, he’s changed his mind.” via NBC News

Marco Rubio gets heated on ‘Meet The Press.’

— LOCAL: S. FL —

Despite filing appeal, Miami says it could still settle racial gerrymandering lawsuit” via Tess Riski of the Miami Herald — The city of Miami still thinks it could reach a settlement with voting rights activists represented by the American Civil Liberties Union in a racial gerrymandering case, despite filing an appeal late last week. In a joint status report, the parties said they “anticipate that the settlement will be approved” at the next City Commission meeting on May 23. At last week’s meeting, where Commissioners were set to vote on a settlement agreement, Commissioner Joe Carollo led the charge to delay the vote, citing the absence of Commissioner Damian Pardo, who is a supporter of the settlement. However, if the parties can’t reach an agreement by the next meeting, the plaintiffs are requesting to file a brief outlining the legal justification for holding Special Elections and an explanation of how Special Elections would be implemented.

Good for them! — “Miami-Dade politicians quietly proclaimed a ‘Formula 1 Day’ — and headed to a VIP suite” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — Ahead of the Grand Prix race on Sunday, May 5, four County Commissioners joined Mayor Cava in one of the most exclusive corners of the racing complex built around the home field of the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. Gathered outside the VIP suite belonging to stadium and team owner Stephen Ross, they presented the billionaire with a framed proclamation declaring a “Formula 1 Day” in Miami-Dade County. Levine Cava’s office confirmed she mingled inside the Ross suite in the exclusive Paddock Club complex after the presentation but said she left before the race started.

Daniella Levine Cava proclaimed ‘Formula 1 Day.’ Image via Miami-Dade County.

‘I’ve been harassed.’ Broward police chief vows to sue town for discrimination” via Devoun Cetoute of the Miami Herald — The former police chief of a small Broward town who was terminated earlier this year over mismanagement allegations defended her actions on Thursday in front of the Commission that fired her. Despite testimony from her and her legal counsel, it did little to dissuade them. In early April, former Pembroke Park Police Chief Ra Shana Dabney-Donovan was accused of officer misconduct and mishandling grants. The Pembroke Park Commission terminated her in a 3-2 vote. By state law, Dabney-Donovan can respond to her termination during a Commission meeting following the firing in a trial of sorts. Commissioners would have the choice to reverse their decision and rehire her or let the termination stand.

Governor appoints 3, sends 5 back to Lower Florida Keys Hospital District Board” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Gov. Ron DeSantis is sending three new members to the Lower Florida Keys Hospital District (LFKHD) Board of Commissioners, where they’ll serve alongside five current members he just reappointed. Their appointments come in the wake of a packed meeting this month at which residents of the 26,000 City of Key West shared concerns that many of their health needs — including cancer care — aren’t being met locally now and conditions may worsen. One new Commissioner and two returning members donated to the Governor’s election and re-election campaigns, state records show. That includes newcomer Richard Toppino, a construction executive who currently serves on the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority and previously sat on the Monroe County Housing Authority.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

Is Eatonville or St. Augustine the right spot for a Florida Black History Museum?” via Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — After months of lobbying and debate, the choice has come down between Eatonville and St. Augustine, the clear front-runners to be home to the first Florida Museum of Black History. The two appear to be neck-and-neck in the view of a splintered task force that must recommend a site by the end of next month. The communities each make a spirited claim to be the best spot for the museum, proposed by Orlando Rep. Bruce Antone, approved by the Legislature last year. But their bids have sharply different strengths and appeals. Backers of Eatonville’s bid, ranked tops by five of the nine task force members, insist the museum would be more successful in the small Black town because of its proximity to Orlando, the nation’s tourism capital, while St. Augustine supporters say their location is more appropriate because of its tapestry of African American history dating back centuries to the continent’s first free Black settlement.

St. Augustine is in the running for a Black History Museum.

Influencers owe $100K after Disney lawsuit, records show” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — Christopher Martin seems like he is having a carefree Disney adventure abroad at Tokyo DisneySea. He recently posted about Disney characters, nighttime entertainment and eating theme park snacks. Martin’s Disney love apparently wasn’t hampered by the fact he owes $100,000 to Disney after the Mouse sued him and his wife in late 2022 for copyright and trademark infringement in federal court, according to court records. The Kissimmee couple had been selling knockoff Mickey Mouse ears and fake theme park merchandise to their thousands of followers on social media. Christopher and Hannah Martin’s online store, Facebook groups and social media posts caught the attention and anger of the multibillion-dollar company.

Florida tourists arrested after alleged brawl over Disney World tickets” via Dani Medina of Fox 35 — Katherine Northrup, 31, and Gina Danforth, 28, of Missouri, are accused of getting into a physical altercation that stemmed from a disagreement over a golf cart and tickets to Disney. The two women were on vacation in Florida, and the incident happened inside a home in Wildwood with several people inside. When police arrived at the home in the 5900 block of Roundell Way just before 11:20 a.m., the two women had to be physically separated while Northrup allegedly got “belligerent,” the affidavit said. Police said they weren’t able to determine who started the argument “due to the lack of credible witnesses,” the affidavit said.


Lights on Skyway Bridge won’t show rainbow colors for Pride Month. Why?” via Sharon Kennedy Wynne of the Tampa Bay Times — For the past three years, the Sunshine Skyway bridge has had a vibrant rainbow light display for one week in June to honor Pride Month. But that won’t be the case this year due to a single Manatee County Commissioner who has expressed disapproval of requests for light displays honoring Pride and Gun Violence Awareness Day. The FDOT made no public announcement about the Manatee County objection, which came from Commission Chair Mike Rahn. Instead, the agency announced that for 2024 it will have a display of red, white and blue lights on bridges that will run all Summer, from Memorial Day to Labor Day. And it’s not just the Skyway. All Florida bridges will be draped in patriotic colors for the Summer, so no Pride bridge lighting elsewhere either in June. That will not only wipe out the Pride rainbow lights, but other special days like Juneteenth and Mental Health Awareness Day will also go unrecognized because of the new lighting plan.

Manatee County looks to turn off Pride lights.

St. Petersburg Mayor: City Council members’ concerns on Rays deal ‘valid’” via Colleen Wright of the Tampa Bay Times — St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch, the architect of a plan that would keep the Tampa Bay Rays in town and let the club develop the land around a new stadium, said this week that City Council members have raised valid, legitimate and important concerns about the deal’s terms. On May 9, during their second workshop on the proposed deal, Council members called for firmer guarantees that the team and development partner Hines would build the affordable homes promised.

Tampa Downtown Partnership names Kenyetta Bridges its new CEO” via Ashley Gurbal Kritzer of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — The Tampa Downtown Partnership has a CEO for the first time in over a year. Bridges has been named President and CEO of the partnership, which provides marketing, public affairs, cleaning and other services to properties within the boundaries of its special services district in downtown Tampa. The partnership announced former CEO Lynda Remund’s retirement in April 2023; Shaun Drinkard has served as interim President while a nationwide CEO search was conducted. Drinkard will remain with the partnership, the organization said. Bridges will officially take the CEO role on July 1.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

JAX Chamber will actively advocate City Council approval of Jaguars agreement” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — JAX Chamber announced it will urge the City Council support for the $1.4 billion stadium renovation deal and accompanying $300 million community benefits agreement negotiated by Mayor Donna Deegan and the Jaguars. The chamber’s advocacy will give Deegan strong backing from the business community as she seeks City Council approval of the stadium deal. Chamber President and CEO Daniel Davis said Chamber leaders “will be active” in speaking with the City Council and urging them to approve the agreement. “This is an incredibly important deal for the future of our city,” Davis said in a statement.

JAX Chamber gives its seal of approval.

Federal court to decide if Jacksonville can enforce panhandling ban as lawsuit argues it’s unconstitutional” via Charlie McGee of The Tributary — A federal judge is set to decide if he will temporarily pause Jacksonville’s enforcement of a local ban on panhandling while the city fights a lawsuit arguing its ordinance violates free-speech rights. U.S. District Judge Tim Corrigan didn’t indicate how he planned to rule on the requested pause, but he did needle city attorneys with some pointed questions about the panhandling ban’s scope during a hearing on Friday. Corrigan heard arguments for and against a preliminary injunction that would halt enforcement of the ordinance, which the City Council enacted last year. The injunction is one action sought in a federal lawsuit filed against the city on Feb. 26.

Frustration grows in Okaloosa County following 2 questionable officer-involved shootings” via Tom McLaughlin of the Pensacola News Journal — Okaloosa County community activist Debra Riley has had enough of aggressive and what she sees as racially biased policing in the place she calls home. “I’m so tired of being tired of this,” said the one-time Fort Walton Beach City Council candidate. “I can tell you the community is very frustrated. They feel it.” Riley said she and others who live in predominantly Black areas of the county, places in and around the city of Fort Walton Beach, communities known as Lovejoy, Sylvania Heights and Combs, can’t help but see a racial component in the May 3 officer-involved shooting death of Roger Fortson, a 23-year-old senior airman stationed at Hurlburt Field.

Mystery visitor meets undercover with Muslim professors at UF, invites criticism of Israel — turns out to be Jewish activist” via Fresh Take Florida — A Messianic Jewish activist who pretended to be Muslim and said he was concerned about Islamophobia met undercover over the last four weeks with Muslim professors at the University of Florida (UF) — including its new Teacher of the Year — in an apparent scheme to goad them into making remarks that would expose their bias against Israel and conservatives. The man turned out to be a stridently pro-Israel, Messianic Jewish hip-hop rapper from Florida’s East Coast. His group’s social media accounts include anti-Muslim memes and comments. “We are zealous for Israel,” one post said. Another showed photos of Israelis killed by Hamas at a music festival on Oct. 7 under the caption, “They will not be forgotten, and they will be avenged.” Others said Muslims were “waiting for Allah to destroy Israel” and equated pro-Palestinian protesters against Israel’s war in Gaza with supporting Hamas.

Anthony Damon Wray is part of a Messianic Jewish hip-hop group called Hazakim. Image via Fresh Take Florida.

FSU petitions NCAA to reduce NIL penalties, Alex Atkins suspension” via Peter Holland Jr. of the Tallahassee Democrat — Florida State is looking to petition the NCAA to rescind penalties after NIL-related recruiting violations. The incident happened in 2022 when a booster and a NIL representative for FSU offered a prospect to play for the school. FSU negotiated with the NCAA to resolve this issue in January. The three-page letter was sent to the Chair and Directors of the NCAA Division I Committee. The letter gave its plea on penalties that included imposed fines, scholarship reductions, recruiting restrictions, and the disassociation of a booster. In a similar case, Tennessee was the first to file against the NCAA after the university violated its NIL rule. The states of Tennessee and Virginia filed an antitrust suit, which resulted in the NCAA pausing its NIL case.

Gregory Gerami stands behind controversial stock donation, says FAMU has gone radio silent” via TaMaryn Waters of the Tallahassee Democrat — Gerami still insists the value of his purported donation to Florida A&M University is worth an estimated $237 million. Yet, there’s mounting evidence that the donation and donor are not what they seemed when the gift was hailed as the largest act of philanthropy in HBCU history. On May 4, when he addressed the audience of graduates, their families, friends and alumni, he proclaimed to applause: “The money is in the bank.” But it wasn’t. Instead, he transferred 14 million shares of stock of indeterminate value that could be worth $300 million or zero dollars, according to one FAMU Foundation Board member.


Fentanyl crisis: Overdoses stop rising in Lee County, but challenges remain” via Dan Glaun of the Fort Myers News-Press — The number of fatal overdoses in Lee County appears to have plateaued, even as death rates remain near historical peaks. Overdose fatalities peaked with 296 deaths in 2020. Those numbers declined to 295 in 2021 and 293 in 2022. “Many have cited this as sort of a glimmer of positive news,” said Dr. Denise Torres, an addiction medicine specialist with Lee Physician Group. “The curve has sort of flattened.” But Torres also warned against complacency. In 2015, before fentanyl had saturated the Lee County drug market, there were 86 opioid overdose deaths — less than a third of recent totals. Opioids remain by far the most lethal class of drugs in Lee County, accounting for 90% of overdose deaths in 2022.

Lee County sees a little hope in the fight against the fentanyl crisis.

Collier County planners raise environmental, noise concerns around proposed Naples dump” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Collier County Growth Management in April sent a third rejection letter regarding a Naples Disposal/Naples Excavating permit application. The trash disposal company wants permission to convert a 2.5-acre property on Taylor Road into an industrial waste storage and recycling facility near the Autumn Woods neighborhood. But before disposing of garbage on the land, the companies must dispense with a litany of environmental and legal concerns. An application letter submitted for the proposed project last year describes the site as well-suited for a dump. But the latest rejection comments from county officials say the project as proposed will generate enough noise and pollution to hurt the value of homes in surrounding neighborhoods.

New College of Florida graduation: Boos for Joe Ricketts, cheers for student president” via Steven Walker of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — New College of Florida graduated its senior class Friday at a ceremony with scattered boos and jeers directed at the evening’s commencement speaker: Conservative billionaire Ricketts. In a technical difficulty-filled speech cut off early by New College President Richard Corcoran, Ricketts talked about how he earned his wealth and warned the graduates about the challenges of artificial intelligence. As the billionaire founder of TD Ameritrade spoke, the student section would erupt in boos, chant “free Palestine” and expletives. Students also wore stoles bearing the flag of Palestine, following a national trend of higher education protests against the war in Gaza. “They don’t care,” Ricketts said to Corcoran. “I hate it, but they really don’t care what I have to say.”


A new centrism is rising in Washington” via David Leonhardt of The New York Times —The country is deeply polarized. The Republican Party has moved to the right by many measures, and the Democratic Party has moved to the left. Each party sees the other as an existential threat. One consequence of this polarization, politicians and pundits often say, is gridlock in Washington.

But in a country that is supposed to have a gridlocked federal government, the past four years are hard to explain. These years have been arguably the most productive period of Washington bipartisanship in decades.

This flurry of bipartisanship may be surprising, but it is not an accident. It has depended on the emergence of a new form of American centrism.

The very notion of centrism is anathema to many progressives and conservatives, conjuring a mushy moderation. But the new centrism is not always so moderate. Forcing the sale of a popular social app is not exactly timid, nor is confronting China and Russia. The bills to rebuild American infrastructure and strengthen the domestic semiconductor industry are ambitious economic policies.

In the U.S., incomes and wealth have grown slowly, except for the affluent, while life expectancy is lower today than in any other high-income country. Although China, along with other once-poor countries, has become richer, it is less free — and increasingly assertive.

The new centrism is a response to these developments. It is a recognition that neoliberalism failed to deliver. The notion that the old approach would bring prosperity, as Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, has said, “was a promise made but not kept.” In its place has risen a new worldview. Call it neo-populism.


Time is up for neoliberals” via Joseph Stiglitz for The Washington Post — We’ve now had four decades of the neoliberal “experiment,” beginning with Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. The results are clear. Neoliberalism expanded the freedom of corporations and billionaires to do as they will and amass huge fortunes, but it also exacted a steep price: the well-being and freedom of the rest of society. Neoliberals’ political analysis was even worse than their economics, with perhaps even graver consequences. There is an alternative. A 21st-century economy can be managed only through decentralization, entailing a rich set of institutions — from profit-making firms to cooperatives, unions, an engaged civil society, nonprofits and public institutions. I call this new set of economic arrangements “progressive capitalism.”

How Biden’s debate performance could blow open the race” via Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post — Trump has done Biden a favor over the past few months by painting the President as an infirm, doddering old man. If Biden appears even remotely sane, alert and engaged at the debates, he will have defied expectations. Moreover, Biden already accomplished an important component of a successful debate. In getting out in front to reach quick agreements with CNN and ABC, the President might have snagged, for the CNN-hosted June 27 debate in Atlanta, two of the most competent moderators available. Jake Tapper and Dana Bash have been blunt in calling out Trump’s lies and grilling Republicans about Trump’s 2022 sit-down with a racist Holocaust denier, Trump’s bigoted language and his derogatory comments about Jews. They are more than capable of pinning Trump down.

The audacity of Ron DeSantis and ‘executive privilege’” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — A few former Florida Governors cared no more for open government than DeSantis does, but he’s the first one to claim an “executive privilege” to conceal public records that the Constitution and the laws say he should disclose. The pure audacity at work here is the issue in an enormously consequential case, J. Doe v. Ron DeSantis, which was recently argued before a three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal. The case will reverberate long after the end of DeSantis’ reign, 20 months from now. So will the bad precedent that Attorney General Ashley Moody is setting by representing the Governor in this case rather than the people of Florida. She has a legal duty to defend challenged Florida laws and to represent state agencies in court, but this is not that sort of case.

Florida voters win a few victories against the assault on rights” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — Many Floridians believe the dark days of voter suppression are over. But the tactics of the Jim Crow era are resilient things: They keep creeping back, dressed in the new garb of “election security” but clearly intended to make people anxious to vote — or even unable to do so. This past week saw progress against two of those modern-day threats. The most promising, but nebulous, victory is a promise by the state to develop clear guidelines for ex-felons who want to restore their voting rights, a pledge that put the brakes on a Miami lawsuit. Meanwhile, a North Florida judge has permanently disabled a 2023 law that barred noncitizens from helping qualified voters register, sign petitions and vote. Both are welcome developments, benefiting people who very much want to participate in our democracy.

Exploiting kids isn’t the way to fix the labor shortage” via Mary Ellen Klas of Bloomberg — School will be out soon, and for many teenagers that means it’s time to get a job. But there’s a new hitch: More teens will be recruited for adult jobs and work longer hours and in more dangerous conditions because several states have weakened their child labor laws. It’s a brutal and shortsighted attempt to deal with one of the tightest labor markets on record, and it offers an ugly window into the inherent prejudices in the labor market. Rather than seek ways to encourage adults to take these jobs, legislators in mostly red states are loosening protections for workers easiest to exploit — young people. It’s one thing to suggest that a Summer job will help kids develop a work ethic. But allowing sleep-deprived teenagers to work late during the school week is a sure way to get them on the low-wage, high-school-dropout track.

It’s crystal clear: The ‘Crystal Palace’ has to go” via Steve Bousquet of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The name conjures up images of luxury, glitz and extravagance — everything the Broward County school district should not be. “Crystal Palace” has been the unofficial name for the district’s headquarters for as long as anyone can remember (in fact, for three decades). It’s also the name of a haven for high rollers — a casino and resort hotel in the Bahamas — which is more like it. The 14-story blue-glass building in Fort Lauderdale began its life as a Capital Bank. The district headquarters is one of the most desirable real estate locations in Broward County, south of the New River and just east of the county courthouse. It’s a hot real estate market at the moment, and a big new federal courthouse is being built just a few blocks south. Come to think of it, Fort Lauderdale needs a new City Hall. At a workshop on school closings this week, School Board member Allen Zeman floated the idea of selling the building. Zeman said selling the building could fetch as much as $100 million.

A good deal with a big asterisk — by today’s stadium deal standards” via Mark Woods of The Florida Times-Union — Ever since the Jaguars unveiled plans last June for what the team called “the stadium of the future,” I’ve written basically the same thing again and again. I grew up going to stadiums of the past, some actually revered for just how old they were and how little they had changed. I don’t like that in recent decades, sports venues have gotten more and more opulent, with the cost to taxpayers going up and up (and sports economists producing study after study saying public subsidies for stadiums inevitably have a lousy return on investment). But, like it or not, it is the reality. If you want to have a major professional sports team in your town, there is a price tag. I don’t buy that a $1.4 billion renovation will lead to $26 billion in economic benefits. I do buy there are benefits, sometimes hard to measure, to having one of the 32 franchises in the most-watched sports league in America.


— ALOE —

U.S. Sugar partners with FAMU, Tuskegee University to study impact of sugarcane farming in the Glades” via Rayn Nicol of Florida Politics — U.S. Sugar is joining with two universities to study the impact of sugarcane farming in the Glades area and analyze more sustainable farming techniques. Florida A&M University (FAMU) and Tuskegee University will partner with U.S. Sugar on the project. “I am proud to join hands with Tuskegee University and U.S. Sugar in this transformative partnership,” said Garlen D. Weston, FAMU’s Interim Dean of Agriculture. According to a project release, the effort “will launch a comprehensive environmental study to assess the impacts of sustainable farming practices, including sugarcane-burning practices, throughout the region” to “assess the industry’s economic and ecological impacts and explore sustainable practices aligning with our shared commitment to environmental stewardship.”

U.S. Sugar is supporting research into best practices in sugarcane farming.

Tallahassee marketing firm launches book drive for kindergarten/first grade ‘tweeners” via Tom Flanigan of WFSU — A Tallahassee public relations firm is collecting children’s books for kids who’ll be moving from kindergarten to first grade this fall. The effort is a project of the Radley marketing firm, owned by Jamie Van Pelt. “We’re very fortunate to be partnered with some Title One elementary schools to help send some kindergartners home with some books this Summer that they can read and continue on their reading and learning journey so that there’s no brain drain between kindergarten and first grade and they go to first grade ready to learn in the fall.” Van Pelt said the books will let kids without ready access to appropriate reading materials sharpen their literacy skills over the Summer.


Happy birthday to Sen. Jason Pizzo, William Arnold of American Integrity Insurance Group, Matt Brockelman, Ashley Chambers, Director of Communications at the FRLA, Tim Heberlein, and Matt Mitchell. It’s also Rep. Anna Eskamani‘s birthday.


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

Peter Schorsch

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


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

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

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