Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 5.22.24

Sunburn Orange Tally (5)
Don't miss your first look at stories driving today's agenda in Florida politics.

Good Wednesday morning.

Breaking overnight — “Shan Rose, Travaris McCurdy advance to runoff in Orlando City Council race” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Unofficial results from the Orange County Supervisor of Elections showed the two candidates leading a seven-candidate field to decide who fills a seat previously held by suspended City Commissioner Regina Hill. Rose received 527 votes, or 24.8% of all votes cast, while McCurdy had 495 votes, or 23.29%. That puts both well short of a majority, so they will advance to a June 18 runoff. Public relations strategist Ericka Dunlap received 459 votes, civil rights activist Lawanna Gelzer earned 403 votes, community organizer Miles Mulrain had 121 votes, tax adviser Cameron Hope won 87 votes, and business coach Tiakeysha Ellison had 33 votes. McCurdy is a well-known quantity in Tallahassee, where he served a term as a Democratic Representative, but is looking to return to public office closer to home. He has promoted affordable housing, infrastructure investment, and safer neighborhoods as chief campaign issues.

Shan Rose and Travaris McCurdy passed the Special Election and will face each other in June’s runoff.


Red Hills Strategies is expanding with the addition of communications professionals Brooke Murray and Maggie Gahan.

Murray and Gahan join the firm as project coordinators and will support Red Hills Strategies’ communications initiatives in health care, energy and agriculture.

Brooke Murray and Maggie Gahan are the latest blockbuster hires at Red Hills Strategies.

“Brooke Murray and Maggie Gahan embody the values of the Red Hills team: hard work, strategic thinking and creative solutions,” said Amanda Bevis, firm founder and principal. “They also bring additional skills and new energy to our growing team, allowing us to expand our capabilities and the range of services we offer.”

Murray graduated in 2023 from Florida State University’s School of Communication and spent the 2024 Session working with The Southern Group. While a student at FSU, Murray worked at a local public relations firm as a junior account coordinator, where she conducted media outreach and tracked coverage on behalf of clients. She also served three terms as Student Senator for the Student Government Association at FSU.

Gahan raced from FSU’s graduation ceremonies earlier this month to begin her career at Red Hills, but she’s hardly new. Gahan joined the firm as a full-time intern in 2023 and quickly proved to be an integral part of the team. While a student at FSU studying political science, she gained experience in public relations working for two local firms and in fundraising at the FSU Foundation. Gahan was Chair of FowardFSU and founder of the End It Movement at the university.

Murray and Gahan mark eight members of the Red Hills team. The pair will work alongside Bevis, Brittany Morgan Clark, Leigh McGowan, Jessie Werner, Julie Rogers and Madison Dorval.


@RealDonaldTrump: WOW! I just came out of the Biden Witch Hunt Trial in Manhattan, the “Icebox,” and was shown Reports that Crooked Joe Biden’s DOJ, in their Illegal and UnConstitutional Raid of Mar-a-Lago, AUTHORIZED THE FBI TO USE DEADLY (LETHAL) FORCE. NOW WE KNOW, FOR SURE, THAT JOE BIDEN IS A SERIOUS THREAT TO DEMOCRACY. HE IS MENTALLY UNFIT TO HOLD OFFICE — 25TH AMENDMENT!

@CongBillPosey: Pleased to learn that the U.S. Air Force selected Patrick Space Force Base as the permanent headquarters for STARCOM! Proud to have worked alongside @SenRickScott @SenMarcoRubio & FL Delegation to champion this effort.

@ChadPergram: Dem FL Rep Moskowitz & GOP OR Rep Chavez-DeRemer announce the “Second Annual Sneaker Day: for June 12. They co-Chair the Congressional Sneaker Caucus

Tweet, tweet:

@BryanAvilaFL: Did @iflymia executives know that Cuban officials would be observing our airport’s security screening process and allowed access to restricted areas by @TSA? In either case, it shows a lack of effective oversight and leadership.

@SkylarZander: Great to be with Senator @jonmartinesq in Ft. Myers! Thankful for his leadership in Tallahassee and can’t wait to see what he’ll accomplish not only next Session but many Sessions to come.

Tweet, tweet:


72nd annual three-day Florida Folk Festival begins — 2; French Open begins — 3; Monaco Grand Prix — 5; Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday begins — 11; the 2024 World Cup begins — 21; DreamWorks Land officially opens at Universal Orlando — 24; season two of ‘House of the Dragon’ returns to Max — 26; CNN Presidential Debate — 36; Tiana’s Bayou Adventure opens at Disney World — 37; ‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ premieres — 38; Freedom Month Sales Tax Holiday begins — 41; Universal Mega Movie Parade debuts — 42; Republican National Convention begins — 53; the 2024 World Cup ends — 57; 2024 MLS All-Star Game — 62; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games on NBC/Peacock — 65; ‘Deadpool & Wolverine’ premieres — 66; Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday begins — 69; ‘Alien: Romulus’ premieres — 87; Florida Primary Election — 91; Democratic National Convention begins — 91; second Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday begins — 95; Georgia Tech to face Florida State in 2024 opener in Dublin — 95; Tool Time Sales Tax Holiday begins — 103; 2024 NFL season kicks off — 108; Packers will face Eagles in Brazil — 108; first of three Presidential Debates — 118; Vice Presidential Debate — 127; second Presidential Debate — 131; third Presidential Debate — 141; Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour stops in Miami — 150; 2024 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 157; Florida TaxWatch’s 45th Annual Meeting — 166; 2024 Presidential Election — 167; Legislature’s 2025 Organizational Session — 181; Las Vegas Grand Prix — 181; ‘Mufasa: The Lion King’ premieres — 198; MLS Cup 2024 — 199; ‘Captain America: Brave New World’ premieres — 266; the 2025 Oscars — 285; Florida’s 2025 Legislative Session begins — 287; 2025 Session ends — 347; ‘Moana’ premieres — 397; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 428; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 428; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 535; ‘Avatar 3’ premieres — 577; ‘Avengers 5’ premieres — 713; Untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 730; Another untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 941; ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,081; ‘Avatar 4’ premieres — 2,040; ‘Avatar 5’ premieres — 2,762.


“‘Who’s visiting next? North Koreans?’ South Florida GOP officials decry Cuban tour of Miami airport security” via Jessee Scheckner of Florida Politics — All agree the episode should never have happened. Several said those responsible should face punishment.

“Only under the Biden administration would they allow a terrorist regime into our secure facilities at one of the busiest airports in America. I have asked the U.S. Department of Homeland Security why they would be so oblivious,” said U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

The condemnation from Rubio and others came less than 24 hours after Diario Las Américas first reported that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) gave representatives of Miguel Díaz-Canel’s Cuban regime access to secure areas at the hub.

The visit was part of an information exchange between the TSA and its Cuban counterparts, the outlet said.

Marco Rubio is flummoxed that Cuban officials got a tour of security at MIA.

Ricardo Herrero, Executive Director of Cuba Study Group, said there are at least nine daily round-trip flights between Miami and Havana. He called the tour “standard security protocol” but acknowledged that holding it Monday on Cuban Independence Day was a “tone-deaf” move compounded by not “providing political air cover for local officials bound for the inquisition.”

Others were less charitable in their assessment of the incident.

U.S. Rep. Carlos Giménez, the immediate past Mayor of Miami-Dade County whose responsibilities included MIA, said it represents “another example of where the Biden administration is completely wrong.”

Giménez noted that Cuba is one of four countries listed by the U.S. Department of State as sponsors of terrorism and allowing its officials to see some of MIA’s most sensitive spaces is “putting Americans at risk.”

“Imagine, we are allowing agents of a nation that is a sponsor of state terrorism to … access our most secure areas of TSA,” he said. “That is incredibly dumb.”

—2024 — FLORIDA —

Casey DeSantis says it’s ‘humbling’ to be talked about as a 2026 candidate” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — While she acknowledges the speculation is “humbling,” the First Lady is also maintaining that the seeming enthusiasm for her running is due to her “rock star” husband Gov. Ron DeSantis and the job he’s done as the state’s Chief Executive. “I will tell you this, when people talk about me running for Governor, I think it speaks highly about the Governor himself,” Casey DeSantis said. “I think when people see me, it is because they are so happy about everything that this Governor has done for the state of Florida.” “And so, when people start talking about, ‘Oh, you know, you should run,’ that’s because Gov. DeSantis is a rock star and that’s because people are so proud of everything that he’s done for this state,” she added.

Casey DeSantis says she is humbled by the talk of a run for Governor in 2026.

Florida meteorologist goes after Ron DeSantis over climate change rollback” via Miranda Nazzaro of The Hill — A television meteorologist in Florida slammed DeSantis for signing a bill that will remove the requirement for the state to consider climate change when creating energy policy and roll back nearly all references to climate change in state law. “Don’t say Climate Change! As Florida is on fire, underwater and unaffordable, our state government is rolling back climate change legislation and language,” Steve MacLaughlin, a meteorologist for NBC 6 News in Miami, wrote. Florida experienced its warmest year on record since 1895 in 2023, with a statewide annual average of 73.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

Coco Gauff blasts DeSantis; urges young people to get out and vote” via Marc Berman of The Palm Beach Post — Gauff, who once gave a speech at a Black Lives Matter rally in Delray Beach when she was 16, spoke out again in a recent interview in Rome blasting DeSantis before she takes center stage at the French Open. The reigning U.S. Open champion and Delray Beach resident told The Associated Press that it is “a crazy time to be a Floridian, especially a Black one at that.’’ Gauff, who is now 20, told AP that she is preparing to vote for the first time in a U.S. presidential election later this year and is urging other young people to vote.

‘Shortsighted’: Florida election officials blast state ballot rule” via Gary Fineout of POLITICO — Florida election officials are warning that an obscure new ballot rule being put in place by the DeSantis administration could force them to break state law or face removal from office. A wave of exasperated election supervisors — meeting at their Summer conference — vented to top officials from the Department of State about a recently rolled-out proposal that they contend would violate the right to a secret ballot. They also said they worried it would put them in the crosshairs of activists who continually question the validity of elections. Under Florida law, if a person makes a mistake on their ballot when they are voting at a polling place, they can ask for a new one. The new rule — which is part of a recently revised procedures manual — then calls on poll workers to cut off the four corners of the “spoiled” ballot and to place it in a sealed envelope.

—2024 — DOWN-BALLOT —

Alex Sink backs ‘strong, principled leader’ Whitney Fox for CD 13” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — Sink, who also founded the pro-reproductive freedom, pro-women candidate group Ruth’s List Florida, is backing Fox in Florida’s 13th Congressional District. “Whitney Fox is a strong, principled leader who understands the needs and concerns of Floridians,” Sink said. “Her commitment to women’s reproductive rights, increasing economic opportunity, and affordable health care aligns with the values I have championed throughout my career. Whitney’s dedication to serving her community and her vision for a better Florida make her the right choice for Congress.” Sink served as Florida CFO from 2006-2010, and narrowly lost a bid for Governor in 2010 to now-U.S. Sen. Rick Scott.

Alex Sink gives Whitney Fox a huge thumbs-up.

Ben Albritton, FRSCC have Tom Leek’s back in SD 7 contest” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee (FRSCC) is officially supporting Senate candidate Leek. Florida Senate President-designate Albritton, a Wauchula Republican, announced that the political arm for Senate Republicans wants Leek as the GOP nominee in Senate District 7. “Tom Leek has stood with our men and women in blue to make Florida the most pro-law enforcement state in the nation,” Albritton said. “He’s worked to empower our first responders and emergency managers and fought against vaccine passports and unconstitutional mandates. I am proud to endorse Tom Leek for Florida Senate because I know that Tom will deliver on the access to opportunity that all Floridians deserve.”

—“Health care union backs ‘dedicated advocate’ David Richardson for Miami-Dade Tax Collector” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics

Happening tonight:



A hidden variable in the presidential race: Fears of ‘Trump forever’” via Joshua Green of Bloomberg — As the rematch between Biden and Donald Trump draws nearer, political professionals are detecting an unusual concern among some undecided voters: that if Trump returns to the White House, he’ll refuse to step down when his term is up. Seiji Carpenter, vice president at David Binder Research, noticed this fear in early April while conducting focus groups of people who had voted for Biden in 2020 but became disillusioned and were considering switching sides. “We were talking to Latino men and Asian American-Pacific Islander women in battleground states,” Carpenter recalls, “and they went straight to the issue of, what if Trump won’t give up power?”

Undecided voters are worried that Donald Trump will never cede power if he gets another term. Image via AP.

—“Donald Trump tied with Joe Biden in blue New Hampshire” via Michael Graham of NH Journal

Trump campaign bringing on Corey Lewandowski for GOP convention” via Audrey Fahlberg of The National Review — Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign has hired Lewandowski, the presumptive GOP nominee’s 2016 Campaign Manager, to advise the national party’s 2024 delegate and convention process, National Review has exclusively learned, adding another loyal Trump ally to the mix ahead of the GOP’s convention this Summer in Milwaukee. “He’s very helpful to me, and he’s helpful to the RNC, and he’s helpful to the President,” Trump’s 2024 campaign adviser Chris LaCivita said. Lewandowski is a longtime ally of Trump.


Florida Secretary of State, lawmakers go on island mission to free Orlando woman, four others” via Skyler Swisher of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida Secretary of State Cord Byrd and several U.S. lawmakers tried but failed this week to get Turks and Caicos Islands authorities to free an Orlando woman and four other Americans facing 12 years in prison for allegedly possessing ammunition. Despite their efforts, the delegation was “not able to find a path forward,” U.S. Sen. Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma said. Sharitta Shinise Grier, 45, was arrested after ammunition was found during a May 13 search at the island’s international airport, according to the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force. In an interview with NBC Boston, Grier said two rounds of ammunition fell under the flap of her carry-on bag. She told the television station she was a store manager who had used the bag to carry a gun for self-protection.

Cord Byrd heads to the Caribbean to rescue Floridians in legal trouble.

Bill facilitating safe exchange of minor children ready for DeSantis’ signature” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — State law soon could address how divorced parents hand their children off to each other during split custody scenarios. DeSantis has received HB 385, bipartisan legislation introduced by Rep. Joel Rudman and Rep. Hillary Cassel. The Senate companion bill was introduced by Sen. Clay Yarborough. The bill honors someone who perished due to a custody exchange gone horribly wrong. The bill is referred to as the Cassie Carli Law to honor Cassie Carli, a 37-year-old Navarre woman who vanished in March 2022 following the scheduled exchange of her preschool-aged daughter, only to be found in a grave in Alabama weeks later.

Appeals court judges hammer lawyer representing Everglades Foundation” via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO — State appeals court judges on Tuesday challenged an Everglades Foundation lawyer for his role in the contempt of court trial for the group’s former chief scientist. Former Everglades scientist Tom Van Lent was sentenced to 10 days in jail for contempt by state Circuit Judge Carlos Lopez in Miami in December. The conviction came in a lawsuit filed by the Everglades Foundation, which accused Van Lent of violating a settlement agreement by deleting Foundation data on his laptop computer after he left the group in 2022. The Foundation is a close ally of DeSantis on Everglades issues.

Your driver’s license might not work. Florida DMV admits problem but hides details” via Scott Maxwell of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida rolled out a new driver’s license system a few years ago that had a big problem — printing licenses that don’t work. The issue involves the bar codes on the backside of licenses. Some aren’t being printed clearly, which means the scanners used by TSA and some businesses can’t read them. The oddest part of the story, however, wasn’t that Florida was running a flawed system. This is Florida, after all. It was that the state didn’t seem to care — and was suspiciously secretive about what went wrong and who was responsible.

Tampa General’s John Couris appointed to Florida’s Healthcare Innovation Council” via Florida Politics — Senate President Kathleen Passidomo appointed Tampa General Hospital President and CEO Couris to the newly established Florida Healthcare Innovation Council last month. The Council was recently created to address issues facing the health care industry with fresh perspectives from leaders and innovators across the industry. “John Couris was instrumental in the development of the Live Healthy initiative. His transformational vision for our health care system is increasing access, improving care and reducing costs for patients,” Passidomo said. “I am pleased to appoint him to the Live Healthy Innovation Council.”


Biden releasing 1 million barrels of gasoline from Northeast reserve in bid to lower prices at pump” via Matthew Daly of The Associated Press — The Biden administration said it is releasing 1 million barrels of gasoline from a Northeast reserve established after Superstorm Sandy in a bid to lower prices at the pump this Summer. The sale, from storage sites in New Jersey and Maine, will be allocated in increments of 100,000 barrels at a time. The approach will create a competitive bidding process that ensures gasoline can flow into local retailers ahead of the July Fourth holiday and sell at competitive prices, the Energy Department said. The move, which the Department said is intended to help “lower costs for American families and consumers,″ follows a mandate from Congress to sell off the 10-year-old Northeast Reserve and then close it. The language was included in a spending deal Congress approved in March to avert a partial government shutdown.

Joe Biden is doing what he can to lower high gas prices. Image via AP.

Space Force STARCOM to locate permanently at Patrick SFB in Cape Canaveral” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Patrick Space Force Base will serve as the permanent headquarters for the U.S. Space Force Training and Readiness Command (STARCOM). The Space Force last year moved its Space Training and Readiness Center to the Cape Canaveral military base. Before the location could be considered as a permanent home to the operations, the U.S. Air Force had to conduct an environmental review for the base to make sure it was suitable. That review has been completed, and the Space Force has decided to leave STARCOM headquartered at the Cape Canaveral base. The permanent location cements the Space Coast as a key locale for the newest branch of the military. U.S. Rep. Bill Posey first broke news in a social media post. The base, previously Patrick Air Force Base, is located in his district, Florida’s 8th Congressional District.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

Accused of fibbing on driver’s license applications, Gregory Tony faces reprimand” via Grethel Aguila of the Miami Herald — Broward Sheriff Tony should be given a written reprimand, placed on an 18-month probationary period and ordered to complete ethics training after the Florida Department of Law Enforcement accused him of lying on at least seven occasions about previously having a suspended driver’s license, a Judge ruled. Administrative Judge Robert Kilbride found that Tony failed to “maintain good moral character” because he knowingly provided incorrect and false answers when renewing his driver’s license in 2019, court documents reveal. “There can be no doubt that (Tony’s) position as a law enforcement officer and Sheriff is also one of great public trust,” Kilbride said in the recommended order. ”(Tony’s) action on Feb. 1, 2019, regrettably, has damaged that trust.”

Gregory Tony faces a reprimand for not being truthful about a suspended driver’s license.

Images give us sneak peek at ‘people mover’ and ‘light rail’ projects planned in Broward” via Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A fleet of automated shuttles, known as “people movers,” are seen in one rendering taking South Florida travelers to their destinations. They would move across elevated tracks near the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, offering one more convenient transit method. In another rendering, a transit project is seen similarly moving people across elevated tracks near Port Everglades. High in the air, commuters needing to zip from one spot to another — to get from their hotel to their cruise, or elsewhere — will be transported much faster. Sure, other communities began using such “people mover” or rail services long ago. But these transit projects planned for Broward would now be more modern, county officials say.

Palm Beach County Commission moves to rein in hate speech following antisemitic rant” via Mike Diamond of the Palm Beach Post — Neo-Nazis and other purveyors of hate speech may find it more difficult to spew their hate at future County Commission meetings. The county’s lawyer, Denise Coffman, was called on to determine what, if anything, could be done to prevent a reoccurrence of the racist and antisemitic remarks uttered by three speakers at an April 2 Commission meeting. Two of the speakers ended their comments with “Hitler Salutes.” In response, the County Commission, at Coffman’s request, amended its “rules of procedure” earlier this month to make it clear that the County Mayor may cut off anyone who speaks about something over which the Commission has no control.

Could the School Board remove its Chair and Vice Chair? IRC School Board discusses the idea” via Colleen Wixon of Treasure Coast Newspapers — The School Board could consider changing its rules to allow the Board majority to remove the Chair and Vice Chair. The Board, as with other government agencies, follows state law regarding an annual reorganization meeting in November to install newly elected members and to select someone to lead the meetings. School Board member Gene Posca suggested that policy be amended to allow the Board to remove their leaders if the majority believes they “no longer represent the Board’s interest or carry out their duty appropriately.” The Board elects the Chair and the Vice Chair, he said. “It would make sense (the Board) would have the power to remove them,” Posca said.

A watchdog revealed a Broward town’s spending-oversight ‘failures.’ Here’s how it’s being fixed” via Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Pembroke Park has reigned in questionable spending, months after a government watchdog’s critical report that the town allowed its elected officials to use town credit cards “without proper controls and oversight.” Among the changes: spending limits for elected officials, a written promise not to use town money on themselves, and reimbursement for some purchases, including for ride-hailing services, such as Uber. In September, the Broward Office of the Inspector General blasted the town for its failures to oversee its spending, which left them open to “risk for abuse.”

— LOCAL: C. FL —

Denying Eatonville, task force votes 5-4 to put Florida Black History Museum in St. Augustine” via Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — On a 5-4 vote, a state task force chose St. Augustine as its recommended site for a Florida Black History Museum, denying Eatonville’s bid and slighting Central Florida’s distinction as the country’s tourism capital. The vote came unexpectedly in the task force’s next-to-last meeting, after supporters of St. Augustine pushed the issue. St. Augustine stood slightly ahead of Eatonville in the panel’s earlier rankings, but its lead was due in part to a Jacksonville-area legislator on the panel who gave her neighboring city a perfect score while downgrading Eatonville in many categories.

Daytona Speedway out of the running as Jacksonville Jaguars’ temporary home. Here’s why” via Clayton Park of the Daytona Beach News-Journal — It’s official: Daytona International Speedway is out of the running to become a temporary home for the Jacksonville Jaguars when the NFL team renovates its stadium in 2027. “Once our need for a temporary stadium changed from two seasons to one, we chose to focus exclusively on existing NFL-ready stadiums,” said Jaguars representative Lyndsay Rossman in an email to The Daytona Beach News-Journal. “The Daytona (International) Speedway represented a very intriguing option for the Jaguars had we been looking for a temporary home for two seasons during the construction.”

Daytona Speedway is out as a temporary home for the Jaguars.

Osceola warns residents to prepare now for expected active hurricane season” via Natalia Jaramillo of the Orlando Sentinel — After the devastation from Hurricane Ian in 2022, Osceola County is preparing for a hurricane season unlike any other and warning residents to do the same. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration expects a very active season that brings 23 named storms and 11 hurricanes — five of which could develop into major storms. The agency noted that “record warm” temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean will provide more fuel for storms this season. “Don’t get caught up in the numbers; it only takes one, as we saw with Ian … to have a major impact on us,” Emergency Management Director Bill Litton said. “We all need to be prepared and keep our eyes out.”

Suspended Sumter County Commissioner reinstatedOren Miller was reinstated to his post on the Sumter County Commission by Gov. DeSantis on Friday. Miller was suspended from the Commission in November over a perjury charge related to an alleged Sunshine Law violation. Miller sued to regain his job in January, and Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper issued an order on April 4 giving the County and Governor a time frame to either reinstate Miller or respond to his suit.

Woman hurt on Disney World waterslide without lifeguards there, suit says” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — A new lawsuit accuses Disney World of not having lifeguards at the end of a waterslide to quickly respond after a woman was knocked unconscious on the ride. Laura Reyes-Merino suffered a brain injury after riding at Typhoon Lagoon’s Humunga Kowabunga slide this month. “Had Defendant had lifeguards at the end of the ride to watch and help guests coming off the ride, Plaintiff’s brain injury would not have occurred as she wouldn’t have been drowning in the water coughing up blood,” the lawsuit said. The lawsuit describes the harrowing May 11 incident when Reyes-Merino was knocked out after getting banged up going down the water park’s fastest and steepest waterslide.


Huh? —Local GOP group calls for Florida to outlaw ‘weather modification projects’” via Owen Girard of Florida’s Voice — The Tampa Bay Young Republicans issued a statement urging the Legislature to introduce a bill banning “weather modification projects” in the state. Along with banning the practice in Florida, it argued the legislation should include provisions holding private companies and government bodies legally liable for adverse health effects of weather modification projects, as well as public transparency for any federal or military weather modification projects taking place within the state or off i’s shores before they occur. “We call for the prohibition of hazardous activities related to weather modification,” the group said. “Including, but not limited to, cloud seeding, solar radiation modification, stratospheric aerosol injection, Hurricane and tropical cyclone alteration, electromagnetic weather modification, Ionospheric heating, and mosquito control intended aerial insecticides.”

Tampa Bay Young Republicans take a stand against cloud seeding, among other weather modifications.

Darryl Rouson endorses Charlie Justice for re-election to keep ‘taxes low and services high’” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — State Sen. Rouson is endorsing Pinellas County Commissioner Justice for re-election. Rouson is a Democrat known for reaching across the aisle when needed to serve constituents. He praised the longtime Commissioner for a positive “record of service to the citizens of Pinellas County that has kept our taxes low and services high, adding that when “hyperbole and dishonesty are common, Charlie Justice demonstrates true leadership.” “In the 15 years I have served with Charlie Justice, the words that come to mind to describe his leadership in office are steady, drama-free, thoughtful, and honest,” Rouson said, adding that “this is an endorsement I am proud to make.”

— LOCAL: N. FL —

Builders back ‘law and order’ NE Florida Sheriffs for re-election” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — The Northeast Florida Builders Association (NEFBA) gave nods to Clay County Sheriff Michelle Cook, St. Johns County Sheriff Rob Hardwick and Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper. “These no-nonsense, law and order Sheriffs have proven themselves as staunch defenders of Northeast Florida’s citizens and businesses,” said Meagan Perkins, 2024 president of NEFBA and vice president of Hart Resources. “NEFBA supports these exceptional Sheriffs and their deputies as they continue to valiantly serve and protect our communities.” Cook looks certain to face a November rematch against a former Clay County Sheriff, Darryl Daniels, who is running as a no-party candidate. Fundraising is lopsided in this return bout. Cook has raised more than $186,000 while Daniels has raised less than $14,000.

NE Florida Builders line up behind Michelle Cook for re-election.

Save the Date — The Capital Tiger Bay Club is hosting a 2024 Leon County ‘State of Public Safety’ panel at a lunch program at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center. Capital Tiger Bay Club member and attorney will moderate the panel Liz Desloge Ellis: Wednesday, May 29, 11:30 a.m., Donald L. Tucker Civic Center, 505 West Pensacola Street, Tallahassee.


Weekend drownings have officials pleading with public” via Jess Orlando of the Venice Gondolier — Public agencies are pleading with people to follow safety guidelines while swimming after six people drowned in the region over the weekend. Memorial Day weekend could prove deadly if advice is not heeded, experts said. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Florida is ranked fifth in the United States for drownings in 2020. The state ranks third in adolescent drownings. Vjatselav Belts, 66, drowned over the weekend at Venice Beach after scheduled hours for beach lifeguards. Jose Daniel Venta Ciro, 23, went missing off Turtle Beach in Siesta Key and was found dead after swimming in red flag conditions. A 75-year-old man drowned at Holmes Beach near Bradenton after swimming in red-flag conditions, too.

Memorial Day weekend could prove deadly if advice is not heeded to prevent drownings.


The real meaning of Trump’s ‘unified Reich’ post” via David Graham of The Atlantic — At this point, Americans will believe almost any story about Trump. On the one hand, it means that nearly nothing he says, including, for example, that he wants to be a dictator, penetrates too deeply. On the other, it means people rarely extend him the benefit of the doubt, even when it’s warranted.

That’s what happened yesterday when Trump’s Truth Social account posted a video featuring fake newspapers with celebratory imagined headlines about Trump (it’s a landslide! Trump wins!!). Below, a sub-headline referred to “the creation of a unified Reich.” Naturally, the combination of Trump and a “unified Reich” was combustible.

Trump’s account has removed the video, and his campaign said it did not create it but reposted it from another user. It also said the post was made not by Trump but by a staffer who hadn’t noticed the “Reich” reference.

Although Trump has a long history of blaming staffers for foolish posts, the excuse here is plausible.

The video appears to have been made using a stock video template available online. And the text that appears in the video — about the “unified Reich” — comes, as The Associated Press notes, from a Wikipedia entry about World War I (“German industrial strength and production had significantly increased after 1871, driven by the creation of a unified Reich”) rather than anything about Nazis. It’s a safe bet that the gospel singer Candi Staton wasn’t aiming to boost Hitler when she used the same template for a video of a song about the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing.

This election cycle has seen a slew of stories about how the Trump campaign is far more professionally run and regimented than in 2016 and 2020. That appears to be true, but only in a limited sense.


It isn’t a crime if MAGA does it” via Francis Wilkinson of Bloomberg — Two news stories last week confirmed that Trump’s appeal for legal dispensation is not merely another narcissistic flight of fancy. His special pleading no longer even qualifies as idiosyncratic. Immunity from public censure, including the strictures of the law itself, is an operational goal of the anti-democratic movement that Trump leads. Its functional creed is it’s not a crime if MAGA does it. Thus, a famously partisan Supreme Court justice rationalizes his household flying an upside-down distress flag in the aftermath of the violent Jan. 6 assault on the nation’s constitutional integrity, in seeming solidarity with insurrectionists (and with the spouse of another Supreme Court justice, who vigorously cheered the insurrection). Except it’s not corrupt if a MAGA judge does it, and it’s not criminal if a MAGA mob does it.



— ALOE —

Florida sees three cities in Top 15 list of largest population growth in U.S.” via Drew Dixon of Florida Politics — Three Florida cities are now in the top 15 U.S. metropolises that gained raw population between July 2022 and July 2023, new census data shows. Two other Florida cities are among the top 15 fastest-growing cities in terms of percentage of growth in the country. Jacksonville, Port St. Lucie and Cape Coral all made the Top 15 list of cities that gained the most new residents in that one-year time frame. Jacksonville had an increase of 14,066 residents in that yearly span.

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure opens soon at Disney World: Here’s what we know” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — Tiana’s Bayou Adventure — the re-imagined Splash Mountain water ride that features Disney’s first Black princess — is opening June 28. When the ride first opens, there will be no standby line, so it will be more complicated to be among the first to ride it. Disney said it will use a virtual queue with two different opportunities to sign up at 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. each day. Visitors at the earlier time don’t need to be inside the park to join the virtual line but will need to be physically at the park for the later time. The ride’s central story takes place in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, and Tiana is throwing a party. Certainly, a party is incomplete without food and music.

Tiana’s Bayou Adventure offers a new system — without lines.


Best wishes to our friends, former Rep. Dane Eagle, who is now at Ballard Partners, and Eileen Stuart of The Vogel Group, as well as Sam Ard and Jordan Raynor.


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

Peter Schorsch

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


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

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

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

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704