13 big questions facing Florida politics heading into Summer
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question mark sign in sand beach
If you thought Summer was a break from politics, think again.

For those of us who work in The Process, Legislative Session is basically a 60-day holiday — more drinking than usual and less sleep, but without the beach cabanas and poolside service.

Now that Legislative Session is over, it’s time to trade in suits and heels for swim trunks and Mai Thais (or anything with a festive umbrella, really). But that doesn’t mean the work is over. The next Session is always just around the corner, and election season is heating up almost as much as the Florida sun.

With that in mind, grab a frozen cocktail, dip your toes in the sand and take a gander at these big questions about Florida Politics heading into the Summer.

Does Donald Trump pick Marco Rubio as his VP?

Democrats hope the answer is no, according to Vanity Fair’s look into how Rubio on a Trump ticket would shake out in November.

First, there’s a major logistical hurdle. A presidential candidate’s running mate cannot live in the same state and both collect electoral votes. And, as any Floridian knows, both Trump and Rubio are Florida men. Not one to care terribly much about rules, Trump could just have Rubio move to another state, potential lawsuits be damned. So it’s still a possibility.

Nevertheless, Rubio would bring to the ticket a telegenic (water-drinking fumbles notwithstanding) presence to the campaign trail, complete with bilingual authority and street cred among the nation’s Hispanic and Latino communities, particularly Cubans. It’s a demographic that has been shifting more and more toward the right, after generations of reliable support for Democrats. But with claims of socialism against Democrats — regardless of whether they actually support socialist policies — the demographic is getting redder.

Rubio would be the first Latino nominated for VP, providing a historic accolade the campaign could tout. And Rubio, a well-spoken orator (again, water-drinking notwithstanding), could provide some level of normalcy to a Trump campaign that is otherwise in a state of constant chaos (looking at you, four indictments).

It’s damn near impossible to predict anything Trump will do, so whether Rubio survives the shortlist is anyone’s guess. But for those of us in the Sunshine State, it’s a salient question.

Can Joe Biden really put Florida back in play?

The Biden campaign saw a glimmer of hope in Florida this Spring, after several years of a consistent shift from purple state to red state. The silver lining: abortion.

It was a perfect storm, of sorts. On the same exact day, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that a proposed abortion amendment — which would enshrine abortion access into the state constitution — could appear on the 2024 ballot, and that the state’s 15-week abortion ban could take effect, triggering the even more restrictive six-week ban.

So a good news/bad news scenario provides an opening to the Biden campaign, and Democrats up and down the ballot, by giving voters who might lean more toward Biden (or at the very least, away from Trump) incentive to hit the ballot box.

The abortion issue has been successful for Democrats recently, with surprising victories in red states such as Kentucky, and through the overperformance Democrats enjoyed in the 2022 Midterms.

What makes this an open-ended question though is simple — That overperformance happened just about everywhere in the nation, largely on the abortion issue, EXCEPT for Florida.

And there’s this: The abortion amendment may get people to the polls, but even if they vote for it, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll vote blue, and it doesn’t guarantee they won’t cast down-ballot votes, meaning they skip some of the races.

How deep does the Trump/DeSantis reconciliation go?

It’s hard to fathom that just a few short months ago the former President was referring to Gov. Ron DeSantis as “Meatball Ron,” yet DeSantis is now campaigning for the guy.

It’s certainly not uncommon for presidential candidates to back their once-rivals once a presumptive nominee is chosen, but it’s out of character for both DeSantis and Trump to let bygones be bygones. Trump is widely known for his propensity to act on grudges, sometimes actively seeking Primary candidates to oppose those he perceives as having wronged him. Ask Laurel Lee about that.

And DeSantis is largely cut from the same cloth. You’re either with him or you’re against him.

Yet DeSantis has gotten behind Trump, even pledging to raise funds for the former President in Florida and Texas.

But you have to wonder what goes on behind closed doors. Does Trump still call DeSantis “Meatball Ron” or “Ron DeSanctimonious?” And what do you suppose DeSantis calls Trump behind closed doors, or late at night to wife Casey DeSantis.

Saving face in GOP Politics — something that now seems to require Trump loyalty — is one thing. Actually meaning it is another.

Speaking of, will DeSantis get to speak at the RNC?

Speaking at a presidential nominating convention is the sort of thing that can raise a politician’s profile to new heights. It was then-U.S. Sen. Barack Obama’s speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention that catapulted him from the relatively obscure into an overnight sensation which, as recent history reminds us, led to back-to-back terms as President.

So DeSantis’ decision to actively campaign for Trump despite months of harsh attacks is probably quite self-serving.

The answer to the previous question likely will be answered at least in part when speakers for the Republican National Convention are announced. If DeSantis gets snubbed, it’s a fair bet that his efforts to help the former President will have been too little, too late.

What does Rick Scott do to raise his profile?

Florida’s junior Senator really wants to be Republican’s Senate Leader. He embarked upon what POLITICO described as a “suicide mission” when he challenged Mitch McConnell for the job, and now he’s taking another go at it, this time with McConnell stepping down.

And Scott is facing a re-election this year against likely Democratic challenger Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, who is definitely the underdog but is a reasonably viable candidate if the stars align for Dems in November.

So a little profile boosting is in order for the former Florida Governor. That’s especially true after his stint as head of Republicans’ U.S. Senate campaign arm, which didn’t deliver the historic victories the party not in power in the White House often enjoys during Midterms. Scott shouldered much of the blame.

He also lost a plumb committee assignment, the Commerce Committee, which further erodes Scott’s grip on the highest rungs of power.

For now, most of what we see from Scott are flashy (read expensive) campaign ads calling Democrats socialists and accusing teachers of trying to turn kids trans. Surely there has to be more up his sleeve.

What are the ’26 contenders doing now to position themselves for the Governor’s race?

DeSantis’ term in Tallahassee is winding down, and not because he’s packing his bags for the White House. As he heads toward the end of his term in 2026, the field of potential successors is already taking shape, including from his wife (more on that in a moment).

U.S. Reps. Byron Donalds, Matt Gaetz and Michael Waltz are potential contenders, and they’re doing their best to get the boss (Trump) on board by attending his criminal trial in New York. A Trump endorsement, as DeSantis learned in 2018, can mean the difference between winning and losing in a GOP Primary.

There’s also Ashley Moody, who, as the state’s Attorney General, has taken on several of DeSantis and Trump’s culture wars and other conservative battle cries. That includes endorsing a lawsuit in 2020 seeking to overturn the results of that year’s Presidential Election, which Trump lost. For real. Not fake news.

Jimmy Patronis, another in DeSantis’ Cabinet as Chief Financial Officer, is another obvious possibility. He backed a bill that would have provided taxpayer dollars to assist in Trump’s legal defense.

There’s also a less Trumpy potential contender in Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson. While Simpson and DeSantis haven’t always seen eye to eye, Simpson’s fortune earned as an egg farmer couldn’t hurt his chances. Scott knows a thing or two about how much personal wealth can help a campaign.

The Republican field is an easy one to contemplate, especially as political observers more and more agree that Florida is officially a red state. But that means Democrats might be hungrier. Fentrice Driskell, the current Florida House Democratic Leader, is a rising star in Florida politics and seems an easy choice for the top of the ticket. She’s Harvard-educated and recently told the Tampa Bay Times she’s giving it some thought.

Nikki Fried could also take another stab at the job after losing the Democratic Primary to Charlie Crist in 2022, and as head of the Democratic Party in Florida, she might be in a better position for a second bite at the apple.

Other names, such as Shevrin Jones, Jared Moskowitz and Jason Pizzo, have also been bandied about. But the question for Dems might be less about who and more about how. Any of the names on this list surely must be thinking about how to shift Florida back into the blue column, which for them should mean more about voters’ pocket books than their reproductive options.

So, about Casey DeSantis?

When her husband was on the presidential campaign trail one could be forgiven for thinking Casey DeSantis was the one running. Where her husband is socially awkward, she exudes poise and grace. And her “Mamas for DeSantis” schtick tapped into a growing trend for education issues to affect ballot outcomes. The issue of parental choice — the precursor to the controversial Moms for Liberty — helped Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin score victory.

So it would surprise exactly no one if the current First Lady, who is often described in political circles as the brains behind the DeSantis governorship, decided to go after the job herself, setting up potentially 16-years of the DeSantis family in the Governor’s mansion.

It’s worth noting that Ron DeSantis has said she’s not interested, but you’ll forgive us for taking that with a grain of salt. Let’s hear from her, Ron.

The GOP opposes the pot amendment, but is this just DeSantis shouting from the pulpit or is there actually money behind an opposition campaign?

It didn’t take long for the Florida GOP to come out against the amendment to legalize adult-use recreational cannabis, Amendment 3 on the ballot, and they only did so after DeSantis came out against it. He said he’d use his bully pulpit to convince voters to agree that recreational pot isn’t good for Florida, and that it will make the state stink.

What the state GOP didn’t say was whether they’d be putting their money where their mouth is. Two polls so far have shown support for Amendment 3 failing to reach the 60% threshold for passage. Where the GOP may want to focus though is on the 35-49 age demographic, which supported the amendment well-above 60%, at 68%.

It would be a win-win for the party considering that demographic is also more likely to support Democrats. A Pew Research study found that millennials are far more likely to support Democrats, while Gen X voters are slightly more likely to support Democrats.

Will the abortion amendment really affect voter turnout?

No. That’s it. That’s the answer.

But obtuse observations aside, here’s why.

It could affect turnout, and likely would, if this wasn’t a Presidential Election year. But as it is, Presidential Election years already enjoy robust voter turnout and it leaves little room for upward mobility.

Voter turnout in Presidential Elections has hovered around 75% in every presidential election since at least 1956, according to records from the Division of Elections. In non-Presidential Election years, turnout historically has been around 50%, give or take. It’s a lot easier to drive turnout when you’ve got half the electorate to woo than just a quarter.

Are we ready for hurricane season? Is the insurance industry ready? How about homeowners? Or the Governor and Legislature, are they ready for the fallout from not truly addressing the crisis?

Whether they like it or not, the Special Session convened to address Florida’s crippling insurance crisis, particularly homeowners insurance, has done little to help Floridians who in some cases are being priced out of homes solely because of soaring premiums.

The problem is so bad, many Floridians have decided to sell their homes and move out of state. Nearly 12% of Florida homeowners told Redfin the reason they were ditching the Sunshine State was because of high insurance costs, according to Newsweek.

Naples Daily News reported in February that Florida’s homeowner’s insurance rates are four times the national average. Worse, rates are expected to increase at least 6% this year, and as much as 23%, according to USA Today Florida.

While there is some good news on the horizon — 10 insurers said they weren’t raising rates this year and nine others are actually lowering rates — ratepayers are still feeling the pain.

The three-day Special Session held at the end of 2023 meant to address the crisis ended with a series of lawsuit regulations making it harder to sue insurers and offering up $1 billion in reinsurance money for the industry. Many — though certainly not all — see the efforts as giveaways to the insurance industry rather than real progress for ratepayers.

With hurricane season just days away, lawmakers may soon find out just how much — or how little — their efforts paid off.

Can Democrats turnaround the voter registration gap?

There are nearly 1 million more registered Republican voters in Florida than Democrats, according to Division of Elections data. Republicans first grabbed the registration advantage after 2020, edging Democrats out by about 43,000 voters. That advantage has grown every year since. But not necessarily because the GOP has registered more voters.

In 2020, when Democrats had more voters, the GOP had a little over 5.2 million voters. This year they’re still at 5.2 million, about 25,000 more voters than four years ago. Democrats, instead, have been bleeding voters, going from 5.3 million in 2020 to less than 4.4 million this year. They’ve lost almost exactly 1 million voters over that span.

Depending on who you ask, the problem could be any of a number of things, or a combination thereof. Some believe Dems haven’t put enough effort into voter registration. Others blame an influx of conservative voters who came to Florida seeking reprieve from restrictive COVID-19 policies (a theory turned on its head when considering Republicans haven’t really gained any voters). Some, largely Republicans, argue simply that Democrats are just changing their allegiance.

But it’s worth noting that while Dems have lost about 1 million voters, overall voter registration from 2020 through the present has dropped by more than 1 million voters.

It’s probably also worth speculating that the drop may be a result of Republican-backed voter purges that disproportionately affect Democratic voters, which would suggest Dems might not have a registration problem, but a turning out problem.

In any case, a 1 million-voter advantage for the GOP is a self-fulfilling prophecy for Democrats in that the state is attracting far less outside cash for Democratic candidates, which results in the state continuing its red trajectory.

However you analyze it, it’s clear the party needs to do something.

Which CD 13 Democrat will emerge to challenge Anna Paulina Luna in the state’s only competitive congressional race?

Five Democrats are running for their party’s nomination in Florida’s 13th Congressional District, based in Pinellas County and anchored by the city of St. Petersburg. Of those, four are competitive — Sabrina Bousbar, Liz Dahan, Whitney Fox and Mark Weinkrantz.

All have exceeded six figures for their bids. All have decent résumés on which to run, better than decent depending on who you ask. So anything could happen, really.

But there are early signs pointing to a Fox victory. For starters, she has raised far more money than the rest of the pack, more than $420,000 as of the most recent reports available covering activity through March. Weinkrantz is closest with more than $188,000, though most of it ($140,000) came from his own wallet. Bousbar follows with just under $127,000, followed by Dahan with $119,000. All of the candidates have no doubt since increased those numbers, but that’s what’s publicly available.

Money doesn’t mean everything though and each candidate offers value to Democrats — Fox as a former Comms Director for the local transit agency; Bousbar as a former advisor in the Biden administration; Dahan as PR pro with experience working with Madeleine Albright; and Weinkrantz as a U.S. Air Force veteran and activist for the working class.

Still though, Fox is also dominating the race in terms of establishment support, with endorsements from several members of Congress and a host of local elected officials.

Whoever emerges will have their work cut out for them though. Under new district boundaries — the boundaries that made Luna successful in her second bid for the seat — Republicans now enjoy a voter registration advantage.

Who will replace Chris Spencer?

Spencer has been in DeSantis’ Office longer than anyone, and during his tenure he’s kept order (as much as one can) in an otherwise hyper political Plaza Level.

But Spencer has one foot out of the door and the other one will quickly follow. The Cabinet unanimously approved his nomination be Executive Director at the State Board of Administration, but DeSantis said Spencer won’t officially take over until his office is done scrutinizing the budget passed by the Legislature, and we’re officially in “any day now” territory on that front.

It’s unclear who the Governor could turn to for a replacement. Spencer’s expertise is valuable — few people can match his policy or budget chops, and fewer still can match him on both fronts. It’s simply unclear which weighs heavier on the scale in DeSantis’ eyes.

Maybe there’s someone who would ace it on both fronts, but no obvious candidate springs to mind. Perhaps that’s why we’re hearing rumors that Spencer won’t get a replacement, he’ll get two — one will focus on policy and the other on the budget.

There are a few names floating around, but the two with the most chatter are Daniel Pardo and Brandi Gunter. We’ll know soon enough who gets the job.

What happens with the Rays and Jags stadium sagas?

It’s a question that spans generations — should local governments offer big public subsidies to major league sports franchises for new stadiums. And it’s a question people are grappling with in both Jacksonville with the Jaguars in the NFL and in St. Petersburg with MLB’s Tampa Bay Rays.

Both cities are in the midst of asks for stadium renovations (Jax) or an entirely new stadium (St. Pete).

St. Pete’s saga appears to be winding down. St. Pete City Council has not yet greenlit the plan for a massive redevelopment that would include not only a new baseball stadium, but new park space, offices, retail, hotels, a convention center, an African American history museum and affordable housing. But the board appears to have to votes to move the plan onto its next step at the County Commission, which also appears poised to OK the ask for bed tax dollars to help fund the $600 billion project.

The Jacksonville project would include stadium renovations and various community development to address affordable housing, homelessness and parks, according to News 4 Jax.

The fate of that deal is still up in the air, but a recent poll found that 72% of respondents believed the funding should be put to voters to decide, not City Council.

Finally, there’s one question we always have to ask: What do we not know about Florida politics that we don’t know?

Those of you who know me probably know I’m about to drop a famous movie quote. Here goes: “Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown.” In other words, the above questions addressed are about known-knowns. The wonder of Florida politics is that anyone could come out of the woodwork to shake things up. Or there could be a hurricane or an oil spill — hell, if three tornadoes can wallop Tallahassee in the middle of May, anything is possible.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of FloridaPolitics.com, 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.


  • Ocean Joe

    May 29, 2024 at 9:00 am

    Would Marco, with his extensive grasp of foreign policy, turn his back on everything he believes just to be part of Donald Trump’s isolationist, Russia loving government as VP?

    In a hearbeat.

  • Carpetbagger

    May 29, 2024 at 10:09 am

    #14: Will the tripartisan voter coalition that scored multiple wins for single-member districts in Sarasota County flex its muscles again by beating back pro-development county commissioners and their wealthy backers?

    • Dont Say FLA

      May 29, 2024 at 10:56 am

      “tripartisan voter coalition”

      A Zieglers joke?


      • Carpetbagger

        May 29, 2024 at 3:44 pm

        Wish I’d thought of that. 😉
        But no, just Dems, Repubs and NPAs.

  • Dont Say FLA

    May 29, 2024 at 10:55 am

    Ah shoot I done plagiarized you before i even read this post.

    I guess that makes two of stuff “com[ing] out of the woodwork,” with the other one being Trump endorsements of total losers this week while everyone else waits to get some Trump’s Guilty Felony Count Insights.

    Trump’s GFCI might be 0. Trump’s GFCI might be 34. Where’s that brain reader guy who never assumes? I wonder if he can guess the number. I assume NOT

    Whatever Trump’s GFCI turns out to be, sadly it ain’t gonna cut off the power.

  • Fourteen Questions

    May 29, 2024 at 11:50 am


    How many dineros did the Rhonda campaign cost the State of Florida Treasury?

    • Cheesy Floridian

      May 29, 2024 at 12:07 pm

      I’m not sure, the records are under lock and key and DeSantis won’t hand them over

      • Dont Say FLA

        May 29, 2024 at 1:12 pm

        There are folks who know, and they yank Rhonda’s string whenever they want to. Because they offered Rhonda the Shade scheme to grab some of Dee’z power and Rhonda fell for it.

        I bet Rhonda never threw a base stealer out not even once at either of Yarvard or Hale during their glory baseball days.

        The catcher might have caught some base stealers, but never Rhonda, I bet, not even one.

        Rhonda is just too darn gullible.

  • Cheesy Floridian

    May 29, 2024 at 12:07 pm

    I think that the 2022 election in Florida is a weird one for many reasons. DeSantis was extreme popular in Florida and across the country. He did open the state up to make things “normal” again after COVID. MANY people were unhappy with lock downs, kids being home and learning from a computer. The 15 week ban on abortion wasn’t as crazy as other states and he never said if he would go further but we all knew he would if he was reelected. But the person DeSantis ran against, Charlie Crist, was not a strong candidate and didn’t have a lot of money to spend on his campaign, was a known flipflopper and he didn’t get help from the DNC. I think whoever ran against DeSantis in 2022 would have lost. Also, many many democrats and independents stayed home and didn’t vote? Why? Because of Charlie and the fact that a lot of people felt that DeSantis pretty much won and he did. I really do think that the election in Nov. will be different because the laws that have passed with the supermajority and DeSantis and the hate will have changed minds. I don’t think a lot of people in Florida like the direction the state is going in.

  • 🌞

    May 29, 2024 at 2:41 pm

    That is why disability was created..you can’t make normal out of it

  • Starryeyed

    May 30, 2024 at 1:04 pm

    What everyone’s political view is.
    Please don’t wake the dead up

Comments are closed.


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

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

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