Good Thursday morning.
Republican Laurel Lee is leading Democrat Alan Cohn by 7 points in the race for Florida’s 15th Congressional District, according to a new poll shared exclusively with Florida Politics.
Floridians for Economic Advancement surveyed 352 likely General Election voters in the district, finding Lee with 41% support to Cohn’s 34%, with about a quarter of voters unsure who they will vote for in November. The lead falls outside the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 5.2 percentage points.
Other poll questions show the upside for Lee — President Joe Biden’s job approval rating is underwater by 10 points, 40%-50%. Additionally, CD 15 voters generally believe the state is heading in the “right direction,” saying so by an 8-point margin, 47%-39%, while 70% of voters say the country is on the “wrong track.”
Lee, a former Florida Secretary of State, also benefits from a slight GOP lean in the district. Statewide Republican candidates have carried the Hillsborough- and Polk-based seat in the past three elections, the closest being in 2018, when Gov. Ron DeSantis edged out Andrew Gillum by a point.
In 2020, former President Donald Trump won the district by 3% and in 2018, U.S. Marco Rubio swamped former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy by 9 points, 52%-43%.
Looking ahead to Election Day, a plurality of voters (40%) said they plan to cast their ballots Nov. 8, while 36% said they would vote by mail and 24% plan to take advantage of early voting days.
Floridians for Economic Advancement conducted the poll online Sept. 19-20. Of all voters surveyed, 35% were Republican, 34% were Democrats and 31% were no-party voters. Women made up 53% of those polled.
Lobbying firm Johnson & Blanton is adding Marnie George to the team.
George brings more than 30 years of experience to the firm, including lobbying the Legislature, state agencies and the executive branch on behalf of state and national organizations.
“I am thrilled to be joining this team of passionate and dedicated professionals at Johnson & Blanton,” said Marnie George. “I am greatly looking forward to working with Team JB to continue the incredible work they have done to the betterment of both their clients and the people of Florida.”
Before joining Johnson & Blanton, George founded the public affairs consulting firm The George Group, where she represented state and national clients. She previously served as legislative affairs director for the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and started the agency’s public information office serving as agency spokesperson while heading up the legislative office.
The Executive Office of the Governor selected George to join the startup team of the Florida Lottery as legislative affairs manager. Later, the Lottery Secretary tapped her to manage the affairs of the first-ever Florida Lottery Commission; George was also named top employee with superior service for her work.
“At Johnson and Blanton, we place high value on integrity and quality work ethic and Marnie embodies those qualities and many more. Having known her for over 20-plus years we knew immediately she would be a perfect fit for our team as we always look for ways to better serve our clients,” said J&B founder and managing partner Jon Johnson.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@BurgessEv: More House Rs (10) voted to impeach Trump than supported Electoral Count Act reform (9)
—@MarcoRubio: America is apparently the only nation on earth where you can enter by violating our laws and then a week later sue the government whose laws you violated
—@RepDWSTweets: The outrageous progressive litmus test on Israel by @ is nothing short of antisemitic. Proud progressives do support Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish and democratic state. Suggesting otherwise is shameful and dangerous. Divisive rhetoric does not lead to peace.
— Republican State Leadership Committee (@RSLC) September 21, 2022
— DAYS UNTIL —
Biden to speak at a DNC rally in Orlando — 5; vote-by-mail mailing deadline for General Election — 10; 22-23 NHL season begins — 15; WPEC televised debate in Florida Governor’s race — 20; deadline to register for General Election — 22; ‘Before You Vote’ TV debates (Senate) — 26; Taylor Swift’s ‘Midnights’ release — 29; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 32; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 33; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 33; Early voting begins for General Election — 37; 2022 General Election — 47; ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ premieres — 50; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 50; FITCon 2022 begins — 56; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 56; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 60; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 60; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 69; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 69; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 75; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 85; final Broadway performance of ‘The Music Man’ with Hugh Jackman — 101; Bruce Springsteen launches his 2023 tour in Tampa — 132; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 148; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 166; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 183; American Association of Political Consultants Pollies ’23 conference begins — 208; 2023 Session Sine Die — 225; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 225; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 253; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 302; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 407; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 421; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 554; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 673; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 673; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 778; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 956.
— TOP STORY —
“GOP’s hard-line tactics on migrants refocus midterm debate” via The Associated Press — A defiant DeSantis blasted the Biden administration’s inaction on the Southern border and celebrated his own policies for making illegal immigration “a front-burner issue” ahead of the midterms.
“It will be a big issue in the elections, I can tell you that,” DeSantis said. “It’s already made more of an impact than anyone thought it could possibly make. But we’re going to continue to make more of an impact.”
Indeed, DeSantis and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott are pressing forward with — and even expanding on — controversial campaigns to ship thousands of immigrants from Texas to Democratic-led states and cities. Beyond shifting the national debate, their divisive moves could also serve to strengthen their national brands — and help legitimize their controversial policies — as they consider 2024 presidential bids.
“I personally thought it was a good idea,” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday.
“What they’re doing is raising the salience and relevance of the immigration issue, which is important to Republican voters and can help drive turnout,” said veteran Republican pollster Neil Newhouse. “For the voters we’re appealing to, for the most part, the benefits outweigh the risks by a considerable margin.”
A lawsuit was filed Tuesday against DeSantis and his transportation secretary on behalf of several of the migrants flown to Martha’s Vineyard, alleging the two politicians engaged in a “fraudulent and discriminatory scheme” to relocate them. DeSantis’ office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
“Ron DeSantis, Greg Abbott have long, personal histories with immigration” via Christopher Maag of NorthJersey.com — When Luigia Colucci left Italy aboard a steamship called the Patria, in February 1917, her homeland was a place of starvation and death. The battles of World War I destroyed most of Italy’s farmland. Armies had claimed its men. It was dangerous to stay; it was even more dangerous to go. The year that Luigia — DeSantis’ great-great-grandmother — boarded the Patria with her two daughters, only 18,000 Italians dared to make the trip. Luigia landed on Ellis Island on Feb. 21. She gave birth 17 days later to a boy who would become DeSantis’ great-uncle. Many people who voted for DeSantis say they support immigration that’s legal. Luigia’s story demonstrates a problem with that logic.
— DESANTIS V. CRIST —
“DeSantis chartered planes from GOP-allied donor to fly migrants to Martha’s Vineyard” via Ken Klippenstein of The Intercept — When Gov. DeSantis set out on his stunt to highlight liberal hypocrisy last week, he contracted with Vertol Systems, Inc., to pull it off. For $615,000, the aviation firm founded in Oregon agreed to fly 48 Venezuelan migrants from the San Antonio, Texas, area to the chic Massachusetts vacation destination of Martha’s Vineyard, where they were left to fend for themselves. It was a political win-win for DeSantis: In Florida, Vertol and its president have contributed exclusively to Republican causes, including to the Legislature’s appropriations chief, his DeSantis transportation-appointee father, and the state Republican Party, according to campaign finance records reviewed by The Intercept.
“‘Vile political stunt’: Charlie Crist joins Annette Taddeo, Hispanic leaders to slam migrant flights” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Crist joined Sen. Taddeo and a handful of Hispanic community leaders Wednesday to discuss DeSantis’ move to fly 50 undocumented immigrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard. Crist slammed the Governor over the controversial flights, calling the action a “vile political stunt.” Crist said the political stunt helped serve as a distraction from recent anti-abortion rights legislation brought by U.S. Senate Republicans. “He spent the last few months trying to avoid talking about his ban. So instead, he decided to change the subject. He didn’t care; the Florida taxpayers and refugees fleeing socialist dictatorships will pay the price,” Crist said.
— 2022 —
“Changing fundamentals boost Democrats” via Mark Mellman of The Hill — Democrats’ electoral prospects improved in recent months as a function of several developments, including the Supreme Court’s abortion decision and Democratic legislative successes. Some have taken the improvement as a sign that “fundamentals” no longer count. A careful sifting of the evidence suggests, on the contrary, that Democrats’ fortunes improved in part because the fundamentals have shifted in our direction. The movement isn’t huge, and we can’t be certain it will continue, but the rules of politics are being reinforced, not rewritten. In July (the most recent data available) real disposable income was up. That’s just the tiniest smidgen of data and we can’t be certain it’s a trend, but we have at least some evidence Americans are feeling better about their economic circumstances.
“Florida doesn’t gain many new women voters after Roe ruling, but abortion issue remains” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — A New York Times analysis showed that Kansas registered an almost 16 percentage point jump in new women voters following the Dobbs v. Jackson ruling, while key swing states Ohio and Pennsylvania saw gains of more than 6 points. Florida, however, saw just a 2-point increase in new women signing up to vote. Matt Isbell, a Democratic elections analyst who runs the MCIMaps website, confirmed that in the first month after Dobbs, there were about 43,000 new women voters in Florida compared with about 39,000 new men who registered. But Isbell was cautious about assigning major significance to the numbers, saying that it only measures the enthusiasm of people who weren’t already politically engaged.
“After abortion ruling, Val Demings tries to paint Republicans as anti-freedom” via Alex Roarty of the Miami Herald — Republicans have long claimed the mantle of the party of freedom. Demings is trying to flip that dynamic on its head — and using the loss of abortion rights to do so. In the three months since the Supreme Court’s landmark Dobbs ruling revoked the right to an abortion, the Democrats’ nominee for Senate has argued that Republicans — led by her opponent Rubio — are attempting to limit or altogether end the freedom once afforded to women, replacing personal decisions with ones mandated by state or federal government. In statements, campaign-trail speeches, and widely broadcast ads, the Congresswoman repeatedly leaned into the message, hoping it can win over not just core Democrats but also the valuable swing voters her campaign needs to attract in droves ahead of November’s election.
“Marco Rubio pulls two ads off broadcast TV” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Rubio’s re-election campaign pulled two ads from broadcast television after questions about content were raised. Both were the subject of reporting by Florida Politics for offering incomplete presentations of facts. One ad, “100%,” attacked Demings for voting for pandemic relief checks that went to inmates and undocumented workers but failed to mention that Rubio co-sponsored and voted for the legislation as well. The other, “Diego’s,” spotlighted a Panama City Beach business that benefited from the Paycheck Protection Program, which Rubio helped craft. But it turned out the business was owned by a man who pleaded no contest to a charge he solicited and procured a prostitute in 2001.
“Nikki Fried launches new political committee to codify abortion rights by 2024” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Agriculture Commissioner Fried may be leaving office in November after losing the Democratic Primary for Governor last month, but don’t expect to stop hearing from her. On Wednesday, Fried announced the launch of Won’t Back Down, a new political committee focused on getting a constitutional amendment protecting abortion rights on the ballot in 2024. “Florida is in trouble. I’m the only Democrat to win statewide here since 2012, and it shows,” Fried said. “The last four years, while I have been doing everything in my power to stop Ron DeSantis, Trump-obsessed Republicans have done everything in their power to enable him, taking away freedom and opportunity from anyone who doesn’t look and act like them.”
To watch Fried’s announcement, please click on the image below:
Eric Lynn puts $40K into broadcast ads in CD 13 — Democrat Lynn has placed a new broadcast flight in the race for Florida’s 13th Congressional District. According to AdImpact, the buy will place his ads on the air today through Wednesday in the Tampa media market. The new buy comes a day after Lynn’s campaign spent $37,404 on ads that will run on cable in the Tampa market. Lynn is running against Republican Anna Paulina Luna in the newly drawn Pinellas-based district, which went for Trump by 7 points in 2020 and DeSantis by 4 points in 2018.
“New EMILY’s List endorsements spotlight female politicians and their push for abortion rights” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Declaring the coming Midterm Elections critical for the future of women’s rights, the largest national political committee supporting female politicians endorsed five more Florida candidates Wednesday, including Crist’s running mate, Karla Hernández. Which way these races go could decide whether abortion remains a legal procedure in Florida, the leader of EMILY’s List said. “Republicans have enacted an extreme abortion ban and will go further in their efforts to strip people of their right to choose, making the results of this upcoming election critical for the future of reproductive freedom in Florida,” said EMILY’s List President Laphonza Butler. “We know these pro-choice candidates will work hard to secure access to reproductive health care for Floridians across the state.”
“House Republicans give Carolina Amesty cash lift as she faces Allie Braswell” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — In the last two-week reporting period, she collected more than Democrat Braswell has reported the entire cycle. But the Republican is still drowning in campaign debt. She may need to consider out-of-pocket costs to win in a district where most voters supported Biden in 2020. Amesty reported $59,500 in new contributions between Aug. 27 and Sept. 9. Most of that comes courtesy of the Florida House Republican Campaign Committee. The group wrote out a $49,000 check for hard cash supporting Amesty. Over the same period, Braswell collected $10,657. The new money brings Amesty’s total contributions for the election cycle to $146,706 compared to Braswell’s $63,508.
— STATEWIDE —
“Gov. DeSantis names six, including an Assistant Attorney General, to judicial commissions” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — DeSantis has reappointed one member and named five new members to judicial commissions across the state. One appointee is Assistant Attorney General Natalie Christmas, who oversees legal policy matters in the office of Ashley Moody. Shelley Reynolds, a former Assistant State Attorney in Pensacola; Charles “Chas” Reynolds II, managing partner of Tampa law firm Tyson & Mendes; Hunter Norton, a partner at Shumaker Loop & Kendrick. DeSantis also appointed two new members to the Judicial Qualifying Commission: Jonathan Bronitsky of Delray Beach, is the co-founder and CEO of Athos Media Strategies; Michelle Montanaro, is a paralegal at the Tallahassee branch of Miami-headquartered law firm Shutts & Bowen.
“Florida brings battle over social media regulation to Supreme Court” via Will Oremus and Cat Zakrzewski of The Washington Post — Attorney General Moody asked the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether states have the right to regulate how social media companies moderate content on their services. The move sends one of the most controversial debates of the internet age to the country’s highest court. At stake is the constitutionality of state laws in Florida and Texas that would bar social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube from blocking or limiting certain types of political speech. Federal appeals courts have issued conflicting rulings on the two similar laws, with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit striking down much of Florida’s law while the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit last week upheld Texas’s law.
“In the shadows of poverty: Florida’s persistently low-performing schools often go unnoticed by DeSantis” via Danielle J. Brown of the Florida Phoenix — On his re-election campaign trail, DeSantis touts Florida’s public education system, boasting about higher starting teacher salaries, restricting certain conversations on race and gender in classrooms and siding with parents instead of local districts in disagreements. What’s rarely discussed is a sad reality involving poverty and race in the state’s most troubled schools. Year after year, dozens of schools are identified as “persistently low-performing,” meaning that state test results, graduation rates, and other key measures are dismal enough for a school to be considered on the brink of failure. Many of the students, including minority children, live in poverty. But on the campaign trail, it’s rare to hear DeSantis discuss these schools or how the state is assisting them.
“DeSantis administration’s proposed rule will delay access to care for poor, autistic children, providers say” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — Providers are warning that poor children with autism won’t be able to timely receive important applied behavior analysis (ABA) services under a proposed regulation being pushed by the DeSantis administration. The proposed rule requires children to have what’s called a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation service before qualifying for ABA services and a follow-up evaluation every six months to continue to qualify for the care. Providers say the requirement violates federal Medicaid law because it will slow down access to care. Moreover, the providers say it will unnecessarily increase their operating costs by more than $1 million in the first year alone if not altered.
“Nearly 400 veterans have applied to become teachers in Florida under DeSantis-backed program” via Travis Gibson of News4Jax — DeSantis has touted the program in recent months that looks to military veterans to help address the ongoing statewide teacher shortage. According to Florida Department of Education data, 383 veterans have applied through the program in Florida since July 1. For perspective, there were 494 teacher vacancies in Clay, St. Johns and Duval counties combined as of two weeks ago, and hundreds more across the state. The FDOE did not provide a breakdown by the school district, so News4Jax reached out to some local districts and found that there have been no veterans hired through the program in Duval or St. Johns counties and just one hire made in Clay County.
“Jimmy Patronis drafts incentive for businesses to take IRS to court” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Chief Financial Officer Patronis is capping off his trickle of draft bills targeting the IRS with a proposal to incentivize small businesses to resist IRS audits. Patronis has unveiled the final draft legislation from his four-part plan announced in response to Biden and congressional Democrats’ plan to hire 87,000 IRS employees over the next decade. Patronis released his legislative agenda ahead of the 2023 Legislative Session. The legislation will incentivize small businesses to fight back against the IRS by covering attorney’s fees if a business defeats the IRS in court and its attorneys affirm the IRS targeted a taxpayer for their political affiliation, ideology or beliefs.
“Declined: Patronis plans to void credit companies curtailing gun sales” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — If credit card companies say they won’t front suspicious firearm purchases, they can just stop doing business in Florida. At least, that’s the message Chief Financial Officer Patronis wants the state to send. The Cabinet member said Florida’s government will act against any credit card companies targeting the right to bear arms. “The Second Amendment is foundational to our American way of life. The idea that law-abiding Americans would be put on some kind of corporate watchlist is disturbing,” Patronis said. “Our rights come from our Creator, not the government, and especially not big corporations. It is clear that the actions by these credit card companies are part of a larger effort to curtail God-given constitutional rights of Americans.”
“Citizens board, officials cite lawsuits as ‘root problem’ of insurance crisis” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — Lawsuits are the primary driver of Florida’s property insurance crisis, board members and staffers of Citizens Property Insurance Corporation said during their board meeting. Florida accounts for 8% of property insurance claims but 70% of lawsuits. That has increased costs for insurers, who have lost more than $1 billion per year in the last two years and are on track to lose another $1 billion this year, according to estimates cited by Citizens President and CEO Barry Gilway. Gilway also cited the rampant lawsuits — Citizens has seen their total lawsuits rise from 9,834 in August 2021 to 12,761 in August 2022 — as the main cause of rate increases, dropped coverage and insolvencies by five carriers this year.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Rick Scott joins GOP push to open up baby formula market” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Scott joined a letter led by Sen. Roger Marshall of Kansas pushing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to allow more vendors to operate in the American baby formula sphere. “American families need permanent long-term solutions, and that includes increasing capacity and competition in the U.S. market,” the letter to Commissioner Robert Califf contends. A slow approval process is also to blame, the Senators remark. “Under the enforcement discretion authorized by President Biden’s May Executive Orders to address the formula crisis, the FDA approved only 23 infant formula products, or base powder, from 10 unique manufacturers out of dozens of ex-U.S. based formula and milk companies that have applied for short-term FDA approval to provide infant formula to the U.S. marketplace.”
“Crypto Council names Darren Soto among top supporters of digital currency in Congress” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — A global alliance for advancing innovation and inclusion of cryptocurrency is recognizing U.S. Rep. Soto as one of nearly 30 members of Congress working to lead America into a “vibrant digital future.” The Crypto Council for Innovation, which launched in April 2021 to advocate for crypto-inclusive policies across the globe, held its inaugural Digital Future Award event Tuesday in Washington. Twenty-nine members of Congress from both sides of the political aisle received awards. Soto was the lone member from Florida to be recognized. “The Crypto Council is recognizing members of Congress who are first movers, leading the way on a complex and nuanced set of issues,” Crypto Council CEO Sheila Warren said in a statement.
“Vern Buchanan unveils GOP plan to make Donald Trump-era tax cuts permanent” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Billed as a direct extension and expansion of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017, the legislation offers an economic vision as Republicans make a case to voters in a crucial Midterm Election. “In 2017, Republicans delivered the most comprehensive overhaul of the U.S. tax code in more than three decades and achieved historic economic growth,” Buchanan said. “Under the leadership of Leader (Kevin) Brady, we delivered historic tax relief to low and middle-income families and small businesses across all income levels. With Americans continuing to suffer under the weight of record-high inflation and an uncertain economic future, we need to provide some much-needed relief and certainty to hardworking families and ensure these tax cuts do not expire.”
“Extensive ‘Blueprint’ to preserve, restore Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — Big plans are in the works to preserve and restore critical areas of the Florida Keys. Plans to combat threats to the Keys’ marine resources are contained in what the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries calls the Restoration Blueprint, presented this week to members of the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC) in a special meeting specifically about the Blueprint and ideas for comprehensive management of the sanctuary. “The Restoration Blueprint, we think, is a really important activity because the marine environment in the Florida Keys is critical to this community in so many ways,” said Sarah Fangman, Superintendent of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. “It is where we live, obviously, it’s part of every bit of our lives, but it’s also important economically.”
— EPILOGUE TRUMP —
“Trump, 3 of his children accused of business fraud by New York AG” via Shayna Jacobs and Jonathan O’Connell of The Washington Post — New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit Wednesday accusing Trump, three of his grown children and executives at his company of flagrantly manipulating property valuations to deceive lenders, insurance brokers and tax authorities into giving them better rates on bank loans and insurance policies and to reduce their tax liability. The 222-page civil complaint asks the New York Supreme Court to bar Trump, as well as Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump, from serving as executives at any company in New York, and to bar the Trump Organization from acquiring any commercial real estate or receiving loans from any New York-registered financial institution for five years.
—“Trump Organization inflated values of three Florida properties, New York attorney general alleges” via Ron Hurtibise and David Lyons of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel
“Appeals panel says judge erred in blocking DOJ probe of Mar-a-Lago documents” via Kyle Cheney of POLITICO — A three-judge appeals court panel has granted the Justice Department’s request to block aspects of U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon’s ruling that enjoined a criminal investigation into highly sensitive documents seized from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. The panel ruled that Cannon erred when she prevented federal prosecutors from using the 100 documents — marked as classified — recovered from Trump’s estate as part of a criminal inquiry. “[Trump] has not even attempted to show that he has a need to know the information contained in the classified documents,” the panel ruled. “Nor has he established that the current administration has waived that requirement for these documents.” Two of the three judges on the panel, Andrew Brasher and Britt Grant, were appointed to the court by Trump.
“GOP raises Mar-a-Lago search at Archives nominee’s hearing” via The Associated Press — Biden’s nominee to lead the National Archives faced unusual scrutiny at her confirmation hearing Wednesday over the agency’s role in the investigation into sensitive documents seized at Trump’s Florida home, and Republicans were quick to bring up the matter. “One of the questions we’ll have is what was the process leading up to this search and are those records going to be publicly available like every other record is publicly available through the National Archives,” Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Lankford told nominee Colleen Shogan. The 46-year-old historian and political scientist’s path to confirmation could turn rocky while Republicans continue to demand more information about the FBI search last month of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.
“Trump vs. DeSantis in 2024? USA Today/Suffolk poll shows Florida Republicans prefer their Governor” via Susan Page of USA Today — Trump’s support among Republican voters in Florida for another presidential bid has significantly eroded this year, as DeSantis has scored gains in the home state they now share. In a hypothetical 2024 Presidential Primary in the Sunshine State, DeSantis now leads Trump 48%-40%. That’s a reversal from a USA Today/Suffolk Poll of Florida in January, when Trump led DeSantis 47%-40%. “This doesn’t necessarily mean DeSantis would lead in any other GOP Primary state,” said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center.
— LOCAL: S. FL —
“Joe Biden coming to Fort Lauderdale on Tuesday. Focus is health care costs, Medicare, Social Security.” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Biden plans to visit Fort Lauderdale next week. The White House said the President would speak about his plan to lower health care costs and protect and strengthen Medicare and Social Security. His visit is Tuesday, but the White House didn’t provide details about timing or location. Later the same day, Biden is holding a Democratic Party political rally in Orlando. Biden visited South Florida on July 1, 2021, a week after the collapse of the Champlain Towers South Condominium in Surfside. He met with local officials coordinating the response, spoke with first responders and consoled families of the dead and missing.
“Miami-Dade Commissioners vote to double their pay, but ‘ambassador’ plan dies in budget” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — Miami-Dade County Commissioners narrowly voted to more than double their compensation early Wednesday morning but killed a plan to pay former members $25,000 a year to serve as ceremonial “county ambassadors” at public events. In a 7-5 vote, Commissioners approved increasing their yearly compensation from $60,000 to $138,000, the first time the board’s pay has been adjusted in nearly 20 years, according to the Commission’s budget office. Oliver Gilbert, a first-term Commissioner, said the vote fixes years of past boards refusing to make small increases to Commission pay out of fear of backlash from residents, even while routinely boosting wages in the rest of the county payroll that now tops 30,000 positions.
“Hialeah cops fired 122 times in killing motorist. City to pay $500,000 to settle lawsuit” via David Ovalle of the Miami Herald — Five years after Hialeah police officers fired 122 bullets at a motorist after a dangerous car chase, the city has agreed to pay $500,000 to his family to settle a wrongful-death lawsuit. The city, in a settlement agreement released on Wednesday, did not admit liability for the Oct. 1, 2017, death of Lester Machado. The federal lawsuit had accused Hialeah police officers of improperly chasing Machado, forcing his car to crash and opening fire when he was not a threat. The lawsuit was filed by Yolaisy Perez, Machado’s mother. The family’s lawyers declined to comment, citing a confidentiality agreement that is part of the settlement. The incident happened on Oct. 1, 2017.
“Teacher was suspended for hitting kids with yardsticks. Now he may be fired for chokeholds.” via Katherine Kokal of the Palm Beach Post — In February, a Boca Raton math teacher was suspended after a video showed him striking a student with a yardstick. Seven months later, he’s up for termination by the Palm Beach County School Board. But not for the yardstick incidents. Victor Lopez of Boynton Beach could be fired Wednesday after students at his new school reported he put them in chokeholds, threw markers toward them in class and called them mean-spirited nicknames such as “Oompa Loompa,” “dipsticks” and “Beavis” just months after he served his suspension. If the board decides to terminate him, Lopez will be placed on a 15-day unpaid suspension starting Thursday. During that time, he can appeal his termination.
“FIU’s only candidate for president: Interim president who had vowed not to stay on for long” via Jimena Tavel of the Miami Herald — After months of searching, Florida International University announced Wednesday it has only one candidate for its presidency: Kenneth Jessell, who has been serving as interim president since late January and had previously said he wouldn’t become the university’s sixth president. Roger Tovar, the Chair of the university’s presidential search committee and the Vice Chair of the FIU board of trustees, said in an email to the FIU community that the committee interviewed about 70 candidates and selected a few names to advance to the board of trustees, although he didn’t say how many. Ultimately, however, it wasn’t up to the committee: Only one candidate chose to enter the final round — Jessell.
“Donna Shalala, UHealth exec she fired square off in trial over bitter academic ‘soap opera’” via Jay Weaver of the Miami Herald — An academic “soap opera” is unfolding in Miami federal court this week with a plot revolving around turf wars and a blame game between University of Miami (UM) President Shalala and a top medical school executive who was hired and then quickly fired nearly a decade ago. The UM medical school’s former chief operating officer, Jack Lord, who is seeking millions in damages, testified Tuesday at a wrongful termination trial that Shalala treated him in a “crappy way” when she fired him. Shalala, the prominent former university leader and ex-Miami Congresswoman, countered in her testimony Wednesday that Lord was a “destructive” force akin to a “bull in a china shop.”
“Former Holy Cross Catholic Church official arrested in embezzlement case in Vero Beach” via Will Greenlee of Treasure Coast Newspapers — A former parish administrator at Holy Cross Catholic Church was arrested Monday after police accused her of using nearly $550,000 of church donations over several years to pay off her personal lines of credit, according to records obtained Tuesday. Deborah Lynn True, 69, who has a listed address in Frederick, Colorado, was arrested on a charge of organized fraud over $50,000 after a Vero Beach police investigation that began in December 2021. The church is at 500 Iris Lane on Orchid Island. The chief financial officer of the Diocese of Palm Beach told investigators True and the Rev. Richard Murphy were suspected “of embezzling over $1 million in funds,” court records show.
— LOCAL: C. FL —
“He’s a Jan. 6 defendant, a racist livestreamer and a new Tampa Bay resident” via Tracey McManus of the Tampa Bay Times — The show has been streaming live from a small rental home near Clearwater. Anthime Gionet appears behind the microphone with his signature Pit Viper glasses and the same bleached hair that was on display when he livestreamed the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection from inside the U.S. Capitol. Fans know him as Baked Alaska, a nickname referring to his home state, and follow along in the chat box as he shouts out each one by their usernames. Gionet has made Pinellas County home for the past year as he awaits sentencing for his role in the insurrection, his arrival overlapping with a stark rise in extremism in Florida over the last few years.
“Construction slowdown will worsen Orlando’s housing pain” via Trevor Fraser of the Orlando Sentinel — For the first three months of 2022, construction in metro Orlando was booming, fueled by unprecedented demand in the region and skyrocketing home prices. But permits have been trending downward since April when 30-year mortgage interest rates hit 5% for the first time in more than a decade. Rates have since risen above 6%, according to Freddie Mac. Single-family permits from April through July were down 10% from the previous year. Multifamily permitting dropped 80% in July year-over-year, RCLCO reported. Mortgage rates are almost certain to go even higher. Higher interest rates are a double whammy on the market. They increase the cost of capital for builders and drive down demand for homes, said Ken Johnson, real estate economist at Florida Atlantic University.
“Book review committee to begin discussing challenged BPS library books in November” via Bailey Gallion of Florida Today — On Sept. 28 at 9 a.m., committee members will meet to discuss A House of Earth and Blood, the first novel in the young adult fantasy Crescent City series by Sarah J. Maas. The book is one of 39 flagged by the Brevard chapter of Moms for Liberty for containing what they regard as sexually explicit material. The 10-member committee includes Cocoa Beach Jr./Sr. High School media specialist Shelley Colburn, BPS curriculum specialist Nancy Gray, Jefferson Middle School assistant principal Barbara Kelly, SpaceX technician Michael Howell, Satellite Beach software engineer Paul Roub, military veteran and BPS substitute teacher Scott Rooke, BPS content specialist for library media Missy Slack, Suntree Elementary Parent-Teacher organization President Sheri-Lynn Diskin, Cocoa Beach resident Terry Heagy, and Hoover Middle School media specialist Ana Woodbrey.
“Metal detectors to be installed at Volusia County high schools, officials say” via Claire Metz of WESH — The Volusia County school district is ordering metal detectors, 30 of them with three at each area high school. The decision is in part after false claims of a shooter at Mainland High School in Daytona Beach earlier this month. “They will be used as part of our new safety protocol,” Angel Gomez, a district spokesperson said. School district officials, parents, students and even members of the community were upset after law enforcement descended on the Mainland High School campus on Sept. 7 when reports of gunshots fired went out. School district leaders are also looking harder at the current code of conduct — possibly strengthening consequences for certain infractions — and, beginning Thursday this week, starting a campaign with #WeStandForSafety.
—LOCAL: SW. FL —
“Bridget Ziegler upset by social media reaction to Queencon post” via Sue Erwin of The Sun — A flyer promoting an LGBTQ+ event for teens posted at a school became a focal point at Tuesday night’s Sarasota County Schools Board meeting. Over the weekend, board member Ziegler blasted the flyer and the organization that brought it to the school, saying it violated school district policy. While Ziegler’s social media posts spurred hundreds of comments she clarified her position Tuesday. At the School Board meeting, she said every child deserves to be respected. “Regardless of what categories you put yourselves in … every person deserves to be cared for across the board,” Ziegler said. “I will be the first to tell every person in the LGBTQ+ community — I care about you just as much as I care about every other person in our community.”
“In Collier County, students need permission to check out some books” via Rachel Cox-Rosen of WINK News — Three books known for their sexual content are sparking outrage at one Collier County school. The books “19 Minutes,” “Sloppy Firsts,” and “The Bluest Eye” will remain in the high school library, but students will need their parents’ permission to check out the books. Alethea Shapiro and her daughter are close. Shapiro thinks books like these three will help her daughter cope with coming of age. But the Collier County School Board voted on Tuesday to have librarians remove the books from the shelves and leave the book jacket covers in the stacks, but the actual books will remain with the librarians. This happened after a few people complained about the books’ crude language and graphic descriptions of sex and rape.
“Fort Myers City Council balks at talks with Bruno’s owners about plans for vacant downtown site” via Bill Smith of the Fort Myers News-Press — The Fort Myers city council has rejected negotiating with the owners of a popular downtown restaurant who want to buy the city’s former fire headquarters and grow its restaurant business. White Rose LLC, the owner of Bruno’s of Brooklyn, a popular but small Italian restaurant on Second Street downtown, wants to buy part of the city-owned property at the site of the former News-Press building to serve larger crowds and expand the company’s business beyond dining. The council voted against moving the proposal forward, refusing to even allow its staff to try to work out an agreement with White Rose for a higher price. The vote by the council means the negotiations won’t happen, at least for now, though the door was left open to further talks.
“Mangrove questions prompt work shutdown at North Naples hotel site” via Amy Bennett Williams of Naples Daily News — Officials stopped work at the Perry Hotel Naples last week because crews broke mangrove protection rules at the north Naples construction site. After Collier County’s waterkeeper K.C. Schulberg reported concerns about heavy equipment working in the mangrove fringe along the Cocohatchee River, an investigation found the clearing had started “without the standard, required pre-construction meeting and staking and roping inspection of the conservation easement line,” South Florida Water Management District spokesman Jason Schulz wrote in an email, so “construction was halted at the site.” The next step is to verify the project’s conservation easement line, checking for “unauthorized wetland impacts before construction resumes on the project,” Schultz wrote.
—LOCAL: N. FL —
“Mayor’s race will have most diverse field of candidates in Jacksonville history” via David Bauerlein and Hanna Holthaus of the Florida Times-Union — Jacksonville voters will choose from the most diverse field of candidates in city history when they cast ballots in 2023 for the person who will move into the Mayor’s Office at City Hall. JAX Chamber President Daniel Davis’ entry into the Mayor’s race filled in the final piece of the puzzle for the crowded field of expected candidates. Four candidates are Republicans, three are Democrats, and two are not affiliated with either party. Five are women, and four are men. The candidates include three Black contenders and a Cuban American. The mix reflects a city that has become more multiracial in its population and more “purple” in its political support for Republican and Democratic candidates.
“Jacksonville hotel rates, revenue up over last year” via Max Marbut of the Jacksonville Daily Record — Duval County hotel properties report continued strong performance in August for room revenue, average daily rate and revenue per room, according to data from STR released Sept. 20 by Visit Jacksonville. Room revenue of $43.7 million was $6 million more than August 2021. The average rate was $107.13, up about $10 over the same month last year. Revenue per room was $76.75, an increase of $11 over August 2021. Occupancy was 71.6%, with more than 28,000 more rooms sold than last year. Year-to-date, occupancy is 74.5%. The average room rate is $112.97 and revenue per room is $84.16.
“Rocky Hanna takes statewide megaphone to blast GOP for ‘diverting’ tax dollars to religious schools” via Douglas Soule and Ana Goñi-Lessan of the Tallahassee Democrat — Leon County Schools’ superintendent Hanna accused state Republican lawmakers and DeSantis of intentionally defunding Florida’s public schools by expanding voucher programs and school choice. “They will not stop until every family and every student has an educational savings plan to do what they please with,” Hanna said. His remarks came during a livestreamed news conference held by the Florida Policy Institute and the Education Law Center. The two organizations jointly released a report that estimates the amount redirected from public schools for private schooling this year will reach $1.3 billion, $1 billion more than the 2019-20 school year. The money represents 10% of the $13.2 billion in state money for public schools.
“School board votes not to discuss possible termination of Escambia County superintendent” via Colin Warren-Hicks of the Pensacola News Journal — The Escambia County School Board meeting Tuesday evening was packed. A large section of the crowd was there for one reason — a possible school board discussion on whether to fire superintendent Tim Smith. So, when it was announced that no such discussion would take place, the room filled with groans. Last week, multiple Escambia County residents publicly questioned Smith’s professional competency when eight speakers at a board meeting expressed their disapproval of a test question issued to all of the district’s middle and high school students as part of a Student Rights and Responsibilities handbook. The middle and high school test question that angered parents discussed issues including a student exchange of nude photos, revenge and suicide.
“Former Nassau Co. School Board candidate knocks teachers union, endorses Jamie Deonas” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — After claiming nearly one of every five ballots cast in a three-way open Primary for the Nassau County School Board, former candidate Rick Pavelock announced his endorsement of one of his two former opponents who is currently sitting on the Board, Jamie Deonas. Deonas, who presently represents District 3, is running for District 1. He faces educator Shannon Hogue in the runoff in November. Hogue took 46.6% of the vote in the first round of voting, followed by Deonas’ 33.7% and Pavelock’s 19.6%. One of Pavelock’s concerns about Hogue is that the Nassau Teachers Association endorsed her, though in his endorsement he refers to FEA, the Florida Education Association.
“Top UF officials among those backing 4,000-acre development of ‘Lee property’” via Alan Festo of The Gainesville Sun — While most private citizens spoke against the plan, UF officials expressed their eagerness for the development to move forward, citing the potential educational opportunities for students with the area’s unique ecosystem and a proposed golf course. The “Lee family property,” as the development site is known, sits along both sides of Parker Road, west of Haile Plantation and south of Oakmont and Town of Tioga. Current plans for the proposed mixed-use development call for home densities similar to Haile Plantation — a 2,600-household community on 1,700 acres — and include a bustling town center with offices, stores and recreational opportunities. About 50 acres would be dedicated to affordable housing.
“Former congressional candidate threatens to ‘knock out’ Gainesville coffee shop employee” via Andrew Caplan of The Gainesville Sun — Former Republican candidate for Congress Manuel Asensio was caught on video last week threatening to knock out an employee in a downtown Gainesville coffee shop. On Sept. 16, he was spotted at Kavagator Coffee Shop, found directly next to the Alachua County Courthouse. The video from the incident starts when Asensio spots a man recording him and then soon confronts him, directly speaking to the camera and introducing himself as a candidate for Congress. Last month, Asensio dropped out of the Republican Primary race the day before the election, claiming that his opponents were sabotaging his campaign by engaging in an illegal racketeering conspiracy to keep him off the ballot. He will not be on the November ballot.
— TOP OPINION —
“DeSantis’ cruel stunt highlights the GOP’s hunger to change the subject” via E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post — The fact that this messaging struggle is happening at all is a strategic victory for Democrats, even if they still have a lot of defending left to do. Midterm elections are typically about the party that controls the White House.
This gives the opposition a big offensive advantage.
But even with inflation as a cudgel, it hasn’t been that easy for the GOP. Thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision on abortion, Trump’s high profile in the news and the right-wing radicalism of many of the party’s candidates, Republicans are having to scramble far more than they expected to. The anti-Biden, anti-inflation message of so much of the GOP’s advertising is no longer enough. Democrats have found ways to be aggressive, even when they’re on defense.
So DeSantis’s cynical move was, as much as anything, an effort to push aside abortion rights, an issue central to the underdog campaign Crist is waging against him.
What matters most to voters is, of course, the point, and the GOP hopes they can paint Democrats as soft on criminality and insufficiently supportive of police officers. In fighting back, Democrats are playing offense even as they try to protect themselves.
— OPINIONS —
“The performative sadism of DeSantis” via David R. Lurie of Daily Beast — DeSantis has shown himself to be a supremely non-creative politician. He has systematically copied whatever happens to be the extreme right-wing trolling strategy of the moment, and then amped it up. And at every point during his tenure, the Governor has anxiously looked backward to see if any rival had out-extremed him. What has differentiated DeSantis from others has not been so much his policy positions, but, rather, the extent to which cruelty and humiliation have been central to his governance and political activities. But it is also notable that many other GOP “leaders” have refused to criticize DeSantis’ performative sadism, apparently believing that, in the GOP’s ongoing Trump era, forthrightly taking joy in the suffering of the weak is actually a winning political strategy.
“The uneasy timing of DeSantis’ callous ploy” via Xochitl Gonzalez of The Atlantic — Just one day before we kicked off Hispanic Heritage Month, news broke that DeSantis had spent over half a million dollars to send two planes full of Venezuelan migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. DeSantis’ ploy has been likened to the Reverse Freedom Rides employed by southern segregationists during the civil-rights era, and to former Cuban leader Fidel Castro’s forcible relocation of political dissidents to gulags. David Livingstone Smith, a professor of philosophy at the University of New England, told The Guardian this weekend that the incident marked “a mini–ethnic cleansing with genocidal precedence.” Livingstone Smith added: “As soon as you start treating human beings as undesirable problems to dump on others, you are in very dangerous territory.” Indeed.
“Jim Karels: Facts invalidate new study on Florida air quality” via Florida Politics — A recent study from Florida State University’s Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science makes bold, but unfounded declarations about the health of communities in South Florida. The study, which made claims about dangerous particles emitted by sugar-cane burning, neglects data, ignores regulations in place to keep communities safe, and disregards the importance of prescribed burning to our state’s ecosystem. This study contained no actual on-the-ground facts or cause/effect data to back its claims. During my four decades with the Florida Forest Service, including 12 years as Florida’s State Forester, I managed Florida’s prescribed burn program. Prescribed burning is a safe and effective tool for land management. Florida’s prescribed burn program is also highly regulated and closely monitored.
— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —
— ALOE —
Florida near the bottom of ‘Best States to Visit This Fall’ — Florida ranked as the No. 47 state to visit this fall in a new list put out by LawnStarter. The ranking considered 20 factors but placed more weight on four key metrics: projected number of weeks with fall foliage, the share of forest area, corn mazes per 100,000 residents and hurricane risk. Florida ranked in the high 40s for all but the forest area, where it came in at No. 26. According to LawnStarter, the No. 1 state to visit this fall is California, followed by Washington, Vermont, Michigan and Colorado. The only states ranking below Florida were Mississippi, Louisiana and Hawaii.
“Disney’s ‘blue sky’ ideas keep fans guessing on parks’ plans” via Katie Rice of the Orlando Sentinel — Sometime in the next decade, Disney World visitors could venture into Maleficent’s castle or sit down for a meal in the village of Santa Cecilia from Pixar’s 2017 film “Coco” — but Disney could also scrap plans long before the first guest sets foot inside. In an unusual move for the company, Disney executives pitched early-concept, or “blue sky,” prospective additions to Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom theme parks during the D23 fan expo. Industry analysts said the presentation seemed out of character for a company that carefully choreographs what it releases about projects and when and how it delivers that news. “This was the sort of concept stuff that typically is kept in-house for much longer and further refined before it is ever walked out,” said Jim Hill, a theme park historian and writer.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Best wishes to Sen. Jennifer Bradley, Mario Bailey, Chris Clark, Brian Melton, and PR ace William Stander (shhh).
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel Dean, Renzo Downey, Jacob Ogles, and Drew Wilson.