Thursday, 28 October 2021
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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 8.6.18

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

By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.

The Republican primary for Attorney General is starting to look a lot like the gubernatorial contest between Ron DeSantis and Adam Putnam.

No, Donald Trump hasn’t handed down an endorsement. And no, national Republican donors haven’t started throwing six-figure checks into the race. But when it comes to the contest between Frank White and Ashley Moody, the seemingly more “Trumpian” candidate is out front.

That’s according to a new measure of the race from St. Pete Polls, which finds White with a double-digit lead over Moody less than four weeks out from the Aug. 28 primary election.

‘Trumpian’ candidate Frank White is taking the lead in Florida’s Attorney General’s race.

Nearly two-fifths of Republican voters plan to tick the box for White, a first-term state Representative who works as general counsel to his wealthy father-in-law’s chain of car dealerships. Moody, a former circuit court judge and prosecutor who has deep support among law enforcement, comes in 11 points behind him.

White’s lead is across the board. Among white Republicans, it grows to 12 points. He holds at least a high single-digit lead among all age groups — young, middle-aged, boomers and seniors. Regionally, he trounces Moody from Pensacola to the I-4 corridor, with only West Palm Beach and Miami preferring Moody, and only by a slim margin at that.

The Panhandle lawmaker also holds a massive lead in favorability. Among the 53 percent of Republicans who had an opinion on him, he scored a plus-31. Moody, by comparison, posted a middling plus-4 among a larger share of Republicans who were familiar enough with her to answer.

One poll isn’t a coronation by any means, but this is not the first measure to show White with a substantial lead in the statewide race. If trends hold in this race and others, Frank White will be on the ballot alongside Ron DeSantis while Moody and Putnam, both of whom are preferred establishment picks, look on from the sidelines.


@RealDonaldTrumpLeBron James was just interviewed by the dumbest man on television, Don Lemon. He made LeBron look smart, which isn’t easy to do. I like Mike!

@JohnKasich: Rather than criticizing @KingJames, we should be celebrating him for his charity work and efforts to help kids. By the way, all-around he’s better than Michael Jordan. That’s a fact.

@KingJames: The jitters before the first day of school are real right now!!! Tomorrow is going to be one of the greatest moments (if not the greatest) of my life when we open the #IPROMISE School. This skinny kid from Akron who missed 83 days of school in the 4th grade had big dreams …

@AdamDavidson: No fucking way @Newseum You sell “Fake News” shirts and call it part of your commitment to free speech? No. Just no.

—@DeFede: While @realDonaldTrump is a threat to journalism and the First Amendment – a far greater threat is the greed of a news industry that guts their staffs and lose talented reporters like @emdrums. This shameful self-inflicted wound is being repeated in newsrooms across the country.

@JohnMorganEsq: The 2 republicans running for Florida Governor should be asked a very direct question. If elected will you drop @FLGovScott appeal on smokable cannabis, let the will of the voters stand, & quit wasting our money? Why is no one asking that question? It matters.

—@KionneMcGhee: Breaking News: Proud to announce that we’ve gained enough signatures in support of special session on the Stand Your Ground Law. Secretary of State has to begin polling legislators. Please call your legislator and tell them to support the Call.

—@Rob_Bradley: Florida is ranked #1 in higher education by U.S. News & World Report because we have worked year-after-year to ensure students are rewarded for their hard work! The permanent expansion of Bright Futures is a reality!

@MegKMag: today I learned the possum festival “used to be a must-attend for any statewide candidate” in florida

@SpaceX: Dragon returned home yesterday after its second monthlong stay at the @Space_Station. It’s now headed to port for a cargo handover to @NASA.



Republican gubernatorial debate in Jacksonville — 2; School begins in the first 19 Florida districts — 4; Start of the U.S. Open — 21; Primary Election Day — 22; College Football opening weekend — 24; Labor Day — 28; NFL regular season starts — 31; First general election mail ballots go out — 47; Future of Florida Forum — 51; FSU vs. UM football game — 61; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida U.S. Senate debate — 78; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 79; General Election Day — 92; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 106; Black Friday — 109; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 113; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 190; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 211; 2020 General Election — 820.


GOP grumbles as Donald Trump reshapes midterm campaigns” via Lisa Lerer and Ken Thomas of The Associated Press — Republicans worry their statewide candidates may rise or fall based on Trump’s standing, muddling their path to maintain control of Congress. But Trump has no plans to step out of the spotlight. The president is casting himself as the star of the midterms, eagerly inserting himself into hotly contested primaries, headlining rallies in pivotal swing states and increasing his fundraising efforts for Republicans. Last week, Trump agreed to donate a portion of his re-election fund to 100 GOP candidates running in competitive House and Senate races. He’s expected to be even more aggressive in the fall. White House officials say he’s reserving time on his schedule for midterm travel and fundraising likely to surpass that of former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. “This is now about Donald Trump,” said Al Cardenas, a former Florida Republican chairman. “It’s a high-risk, high-stakes proposition.”

Donald Trump is shaping the midterms, to the dismay of many.

Meanwhile … “Crackdown on ‘bots’ sweeps up people who tweet often” via Sara Burnett of The Associated Press — Last week, Facebook said it had removed 32 fake accounts apparently created to manipulate U.S. politics — efforts that may be linked to Russia. Twitter and other sites also have targeted automated or robot-like accounts known as bots, which authorities say were used to cloak efforts by foreign governments and political bad actors in the 2016 elections. But the screening repeatedly, and erroneously, flagged Nina Tomasieski and users like her. Their accounts have been suspended or frozen for “suspicious” behavior — apparently because of the frequency and relentlessness of their messages. “Almost all of us are considered a bot,” says Tomasieski, who lives in Tennessee but is tweeting for GOP candidates across the U.S. The actions have drawn criticism from conservatives, who have accused Twitter, Facebook and other companies of having a liberal bias and censorship. It also raises a question: Can the companies outsmart the ever-evolving tactics of U.S. adversaries if they can’t be sure who’s a robot and who’s Nina?


Spurred by Rick Scott’s algae ad, Bill Nelson says he’ll stop playing ‘nice-nice’” via Tyler Treadway of TCPalm — Several people at a roundtable discussion on the algae problem voiced their ire at a television ad in which Scott blames Nelson for inaction on dealing with the blooms. Scott is “trying to take credit” for the state contributing $100 million to help speed dike repairs, Nelson said. “But the Army Corps of Engineers hasn’t even figured out how to take the money and how to use it.” When told after the meeting the Corps and the state had reached an agreement on using the money, Nelson said, “Still, $100 million is a just a pittance compared to the $2 billion project.” When he saw Scott’s ad, said Mike Conner, a Stuart fishing guide and longtime water activist, “I almost fell off the couch. You need to take off the kid gloves and tear that ad apart.” Grant Gilmore of Vero Beach, a marine biologist who’s studied the Indian River Lagoon for five decades, told Nelson, “You need a commercial saying you’ve always been there, you’ve always been working for the environment.”


We know Ron DeSantis is with Trump. But where is he on Florida issues?” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times — The Republican congressman from northeast Florida wants Florida Republicans to know that A) He has Trump’s endorsement. B) He is conservative. C) He is a veteran. D) He is committed to thwarting a flood of illegal immigrants into Florida. At, there’s no issues tab, let alone any mention of a policy agenda for Florida. “In the general election, voters want to know what you want to do,” campaign manager Brad Herold. “We plan on having a very robust discussion of the issues in the general election.” The policy-free agenda is both by design and necessity for a campaign with far fewer people on the payroll than Putnam’s.

For DeSantis, Trump’s nod also means cash from big GOP donors” via John Kennedy of the GateHouse Capital Bureau — Trump’s early morning tweet June 22 — saying that DeSantis “will be a Great Governor & has my full Endorsement” — swiftly lead to $500,000 in contributions from the GOP’s single biggest spenders, Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson and his wife, Miriam. Another $500,000 also arrived last month from Laura Perlmutter, a Trump inauguration committee member, whose husband, Ike, is chair of Marvel Entertainment. Other big GOP contributors also are getting on board with Trump’s formal backing of the Palm Coast congressman over Republican rival Adam Putnam in the Aug. 28 primary, turning the usual in-state focus of the governor’s contest into a national affair.

Adam Putnam’s political committee begins running a new attack ad against DeSantis” via John Lucas of The Capitolist — The ad hits DeSantis again for supporting a 23 percent national sales tax, but also accuses DeSantis of voting to lower Social Security and Medicare benefits for seniors and siding with President Barack Obama in supporting an increase in the national debt ceiling. “And he wants to cut social security for seniors,” the announcer says. “D.C. DeSantis even voted to raise the debt ceiling for Barack Obama … Why did he sell Florida out? Because the real Ron DeSantis is part of the Washington swamp, working for one of the largest lobbying firms in America … taking a million dollars from Wall Street … and facing massive ethics violations. Hypocrisy. Betrayal. That’s D.C. DeSantis.”

To view the new ad, click on the image below:

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Happening today — DeSantis is the special guest at the Women’s Republican Club of Miami Federated event, 12 p.m., Mojitos Cuban Cuisine, 8000 SW 8th St., Miami.

State candidates, Panhandle residents out in full force at Wausau Funday” via Zach McDonald of the Panama City News-Herald — Each year, hundreds of people flock to the town of Wausau, a population of about 400, for the annual Funday and Possum Festival. This was the 49th year of celebrating the marsupial that saved the town. With a particularly crowded field leading up to the 2018 primary elections and the general elections beyond, several candidates spent valuable time Saturday shaking hands and possums in Wausau. “If you care about the grassroots, if you care about the people of the Panhandle, if you care about anybody outside the big cities — then you’re at the possum festival,” Putnam said, noting that he is from a rural county. “The farmers in our rural communities are the ones that matter.”

Playin’ possum: Adam Putnam took part in the 49th Annual Wausau Possum Festival and Parade this weekend.

—“Matching funds fuel $1M-plus hauls for DeSantis, Putnam” via Florida Politics

Gwen Graham’s Takeaway on Ron DeSantis: ‘He hasn’t been present and focused’” via Skyler Swisher and Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — “My biggest issue with Ron is he hasn’t been present and focused on doing the job I believe he was elected to do,” Graham told the editorial page editors of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Miami Herald and Palm Beach Post … DeSantis, who is endorsed by Trump, was first elected to Congress in 2012. He mulled a run for U.S. Senate in 2016 but withdrew when incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio announced he would run for re-election.

What Graham’s school district job can tell us about her bid for governor” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — Those six years in the school system, where she turned adversaries into allies with a “let’s make everyone happy” approach, provides a glimpse of a management style the current Democratic front-runner could use as governor. “She was ‘that person’ on the other side of the table that we had to negotiate with,” said Shari Gewanter, a member of the teachers’ union bargaining team. By the end of Graham’s time there, Gewanter joked, “I think I fell in love with her.” Yet her alliance at the time with current Leon County School Superintendent Rocky Hanna, a childhood classmate and friend, challenges the Graham persona of someone who’s above politics, particularly as it relates to her handling of a sexual harassment claim that has raised questions about favoritism.

Jeff Greene says he won’t renew Mar-a-Lago membership, touts business experience” via Skyler Swisher and Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The Democrat, a neighbor of Trump’s in Palm Beach, says he joined the club years ago when Trump was giving money to Hillary Clinton. Greene said he didn’t immediately cancel the membership because he wanted the ability to share his views with the president. “I was able to stand up to him right in his own dining room,” Greene told the editorial page editors of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Miami Herald and The Palm Beach Post. Greene says he hasn’t been billed for dues in over a year. He’s faced criticism from his opponents for a comment he made a day after the election calling Trump “a great guy.”

—“Democratic Governor candidates see 2018 as their year” via Anthony Man, Skyler Swisher and Victoria Ballard of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Chris King talks peace, suffering at Clearwater “Stand Your Ground” rally — Gubernatorial candidate King joined other Democrats in the Florida Governor’s race, as well as civil-rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton at a rally Sunday to call for an arrest in the controversial shooting last month in Clearwater. Sunday’s rally was the latest action in three weeks of protests, thousands of online signatures, and town hall discussions since Markeis McGlockton was shot in a convenience store parking lot after an argument over a parking space July 19. Citing a 2017 change in Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said he could not arrest alleged shooter Michael Drejka. The case has been handed over to the state attorney to determine if Drejka will face any charges. “I can’t imagine the suffering you’re going through,” King told members of McGlockton’s family in the audience. “And there’s a lot of politics all wrapped up in this, but I can’t imagine how your hearts are breaking … I know we serve a God that says peace, I leave with you.”

To hear King’s full statement, click on the image below:

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Happening today — King will appear at the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club, noon, Orange Blossom Catering Ballroom, 220 Fourth St. North, St. Petersburg.

Matt Caldwell’s ‘NeverTrump’ past draws fresh criticism” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — As Lehigh Acres Republican Caldwell rallies conservatives around his Agriculture Commissioner bid, critics have raised “NeverTrump” tweets and op-eds undercutting his right-wing bona fides. In March 2016, Caldwell wrote: “I cannot in good conscience support Donald Trump for President … While I will never vote for Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, I also cannot and will not vote for him in the general election.” Caldwell says he has since come to peace with Trump and did support him in the general election because the Supreme Court was in the balance. Caldwell said the appointment of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch and the pending confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh bring jurists to the bench who “recognize the sanctity of life in the Constitution” … “He [Trump] has also taken steps to defund Planned Parenthood and ended Obamacare policies that forced religious employers to provide abortions,” Caldwell said.


’Marsy’s Law’ group seeks to enter ballot lawsuit” via the News Service of Florida — Marsy’s Law for Florida, LLC, affiliated with the Marsy’s Law for All National Foundation, filed a motion in Leon County circuit court asking for approval to become formally involved in the lawsuit filed by Southwest Florida defense attorney Lee Hollander. The lawsuit seeks to block the proposed constitutional amendment from going on the November ballot, with Hollander arguing that the wording of the proposal would mislead voters. The Florida Constitution Revision Commission this year approved putting the proposal, designated as Amendment 6, on the ballot. Supporters of the proposal, which has become commonly known as “Marsy’s Law,” argue it would establish a series of rights for crime victims, including the right to be notified of significant developments in criminal cases and the right to be heard in the legal proceedings. The amendment also would increase the mandatory retirement age for judges from 70 to 75. And it would provide that judges should not necessarily defer to the interpretation of laws and rules by governmental agencies in legal proceedings.

Lara Trump, president’s daughter-in-law, joins fight for dog-racing ban” via Jim Rosica of Florida Politics — President Trump’s daughter-in-law, is joining Attorney General Pam Bondi for a fundraiser to benefit the campaign to pass a proposed constitutional amendment aimed at ending dog racing in Florida. The former television host and producer and animal rights supporter is married to Eric Trump, the president’s second son. Trump and Bondi are listed as “special guests” at the fundraiser set for next Thursday in Greenwich, Connecticut, hosted by Leora and Steven Levy. Leora Levy is a Republican national committeewoman; husband Steven is CEO of his family’s New York real estate firm … The fundraiser benefits the Protect Dogs-Yes on 13 campaign, formed to persuade voters to vote for the amendment. Though a Tallahassee judge this week ordered Amendment 13 off the ballot, the state appealed, which puts an “automatic stay” on the case. That means until a higher court says otherwise, the amendment will be on the 2018 general election ballot.

Lara Trump enters the fight for Amendment 13.

Businesses across Florida endorse dog-racing ban” via Florida Politics — The Protect Dogs-Yes on 13 campaign announced that it received the endorsement of 57 local businesses from across the state. The campaign, which is promoting passage of a proposed constitutional amendment aimed at ending live dog racing in Florida, is pressing ahead despite a judge’s ruling that the measure’s ballot title and summary are defective and can’t go on this year’s ballot. The state also on Thursday filed a notice of appeal to Circuit Judge Karen Gievers‘ decision. “The state dog racing mandate … goes against free-market values, and is causing harm to gentle greyhounds,” said Maurice R. Mizrahi, owner of Temptations Catering and Events in Fort Lauderdale and CaterMasters in Naples.

Committee backing dog racing ban spends $1.8M on media buy” via Florida Politics — A week after it brought in a $1.5 million check from a foundation established by movie star Doris Day, the committee backing a proposed constitutional amendment to ban greyhound racing followed through with a planned $1.85 million a media buy. … The media buy was expected — Committee to Protect Dogs co-chairwoman Kate MacFall said the money received from the Doris Day Animal League would be used on an ad buy that would put commercials on the air in the Tampa, Miami and Orlando media markets starting in October. Not as expected, however, was the recent ruling by a Tallahassee judge that the proposed amendment shouldn’t go on the November ballot. … The state is appealing that ruling, and Amendment 13’s supporters have said they’re still “full steam ahead” despite the setback.

Matt Gaetz’s Republican challenger Cris Dosev wants to debate before primary” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News-Journal — Dosev, a Pensacola businessman, is one of two Republicans challenging Gaetz for Florida’s 1st Congressional District seat. “I’m prepared to debate anywhere, anytime, even in Okaloosa in not-so-Niceville,” Dosev told the News Journal, referring to the location of a campaign rally Gaetz held with an appearance by Donald Trump Jr. Dosev said his campaign had asked the Gaetz campaign to debate at least three times and the Gaetz campaign has declined. Gaetz did not respond to the News Journal’s request for comment on Friday about Dosev’s debate challenges, but Gaetz’s other Republican opponent John Mills, a retired Naval officer in Miramar Beach, said he doubts there will be a debate in the campaign. “From a strategy standpoint, why would he,” Mills said. “He’s just not going to do it. That’s just the way it is.”

Scott Sturgill ad put abortion question into CD 7 contest” via Scott Powers of Orlando Rising — For the first 18 seconds, the new video ad looks like something almost any Democrat would be willing to air: young women praising the candidate for supporting abortion choice rights and Planned Parenthood, and resisting Trump‘s “assault on Roe versus Wade.” “I like Mike,” the two women declare. And then the video screeches to a halt. The angle: the 30-second spot “Thank You Liberal Mike Miller” is not about a Democrat, but rather a mock testimonial to Republican state Rep. Miller. And the ad is not his; it is from his Aug. 28 Republican primary opponent, Sanford businessman Sturgill. “I’m Scott Sturgill,” Sturgill declares after the quick cut when the ad turns to him. “I’m the only candidate who is 100 percent pro-life and endorsed by Florida Right to Life.” Miller’s campaign expressed outrage, calling the positions portrayed about him in the ad “a complete fabrication.”

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

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Is Vern Buchanan meddling in Democratic primary?” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Leading Democrats in Southwest Florida and Washington D.C. have rallied behind Siesta Key attorney David Shapiro as he tries to unseat Republican Buchanan … Buchanan recognizes the threat Shapiro — who has raised more than $1 million for his campaign — poses and is putting money behind a television ad that slams the Democrat as a “hypocrite,” an early attack that some view as trying to influence the primary. Sarasota attorney Jan Schneider is taking on Shapiro from the left, espousing support for a single-payer health care system and $15 minimum wage. Buchanan’s ad also aims at Shapiro’s progressive credentials, accusing him of hypocrisy for making gun control and environmental protection central campaign promises while simultaneously investing in gun and oil companies. It’s an odd one-two combination against Shapiro, raising the question of whether Buchanan hopes to tarnish the Democrat enough with liberals that he fails to get out of the primary, or at least has to spend more money than he’d like.

Javier Manjarres’s ad falsely implies he has Trump’s support” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Manjarres’ mailer to Republicans in the Broward-Palm Beach County 22nd Congressional District has a big picture of Trump wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat and giving a thumbs-up sign. In quotation marks next to the picture of Trump is the quote: “Javier embodies #MAGA.” It leaves the impression that Trump said those words about Manjarres. He didn’t. “It’s definitely misleading,” said Eddison Walters, one of the other two candidates in the primary for the Republican nomination to run against U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch. The third Republican is Nicolas Kimaz. Manjarres said he wasn’t attempting to deceive anyone. “No, it’s not. It’s an endorsement from Matt Gaetz. It’s not an endorsement from the president.”

Anti-carbon tax group launches initiative against Carlos Curbelo — The American Energy Alliance is encouraging citizens to hold their elected officials accountable for supporting energy taxes, which the anti-carbon tax group calls “destructive.” A digital ad campaign will target various congressional districts, starting with Florida’s 26th Congressional District, represented by Curbelo, who recently introduced H.R. 6463 (115) — a regressive carbon tax bill which the group says, “would not help the environment, but would hike prices on American consumers (particularly lower-income citizens) and stunt economic growth.” AEA is sponsoring a $75,000 digital ad campaign discussing the economic destruction of a carbon tax, while putting politicians like Curbelo on notice.

Jack Latvala continues to help fund political allies” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida – Latvala has kept a low public profile since resigning from the Legislature in December after investigators revealed a history of sexual harassment, but he has quietly kept running a pared-down political operation that is, among other things, helping finance his allies’ own political efforts … Some of the contributions from Latvala’s committee went to other committees that in short order made their own contributions to the campaigns of Denise Grimsley, a Republican state senator now running for Agriculture commissioner, and state Rep. Kathleen Peters, a Republican now running for the Pinellas County Commission. … Making contributions to one committee with the direct intent of it flowing to another candidate — a practice known as “earmarking” — is not allowed under Florida election law.

Florida Realtors release third wave of legislative endorsements” via Florida Politics — Making the cut in the new round of endorsements were five state House candidates, three of them Republicans and two of them Democrats. In southeastern Hillsborough County’s HD 57, businessman and U.S. Army veteran Sean McCoy got the nod. In neighboring HD 59, the Florida Realtors picked Dover Republican Joe Wicker in the three-way race. n Tampa-based HD 61, the endorsement went to Democrat Dianne Hart. Florida Realtors said School Board member Susan Valdes was their pick to succeed House Minority Leader Janet Cruz in HD 62. The final endorsement went out to North Fort Myers Republican Spencer Roach.

Ed Hooper clears $650K raised, Amanda Murphy cracks $100K in SD 16 battle” via Florida Politics — Between July 21 and July 27, Hooper raised $21,156.00 in hard money and tacked on another $16,000 via his political committee, Friends of Ed Hooper. That haul included a $15,000 check from Working Together for Florida PAC, the main fundraising vehicle of Naples Republican Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, a candidate for the 2022-2024 Senate presidency. Hooper’s accounts only shelled out $5,575 during the weeklong reporting period, including $2,086 for email and social media marketing and a host of charges for canvassing work. All told, Hooper has raised nearly $660,000 between the two accounts since entering the race in early 2016. He had $492,647 banked at the end of the reporting period.

—“Dana Young maintains threefold cash lead over Cruz in SD 18” via Florida Politics

—“Janet Cruz named a ‘gun sense’ candidate” via the Tampa Bay Reporter

Eileen Higgins gets behind Jason Pizzo in SD 38” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Miami-Dade Commissioner Higgins, who won a shock victory in the District 5 special election back in June, says she’s endorsing Pizzo in the Democratic primary for Senate District 38. Pizzo is facing off against incumbent state Sen. Daphne Campbell in the race. But despite Campbell’s incumbency, Higgins says she’s supporting the challenger in a statement released Friday. “Our community deserves an honest, dedicated state senator fighting for us and Jason Pizzo will be that state senator,” said Higgins. “Over the years, I’ve seen Jason’s passion and unwavering commitment to making our neighborhoods safer. I know he won’t stop when he gets to Tallahassee.”

—“Rebekah Bydlak increases fundraising lead in HD 1 Republican primary” via Florida Politics

—“Sean McCoy outpaces Mike Beltran in HD 57 fundraising” via Florida Politics

Ray Blacklidge feels backlash to ‘Irish slaves’ meme” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Blacklidge, a Madeira Beach Republican, shared a post March 26, 2017, from writer Jerome Palkowski containing a historical cartoon showing a woman “flogging her apprentice in the cellar.” The image accompanied a write-up alleging African slaves were expensive compared to Irish slaves and in turn treated much better in Colonial America. When Blacklidge shared the image, he wrote “A sad American Truth …” with his post. He told Florida Politics he recalled sharing the illustration but believed at the time the message was about the evils of slavery, not an attempt to minimize the plight of black slaves. When Blacklidge shared the image, he wrote “A sad American Truth …” with his post. He told Florida Politics he recalled sharing the illustration but believed at the time the message was about the evils of slavery, not an attempt to minimize the plight of black slaves.

Oversharing: Ray Blacklidge is feeling the heat over an ‘Irish slaves’ Facebook post.

Happening today — Republican Melissa Howard, running for House District 73, will hold a meet-and-greet event, 5 p.m., Evie’s Tavern, 5897 Whitfield Ave., Sarasota. HD 73, which includes parts of Manatee and Sarasota counties, became open when Republican Rep. Joe Gruters launched a Senate run.

He backed the subsidy ban for American Dream megamall. Now he’s targeted for defeat” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — Lily Stefano ran against the mayor of Medley two years ago and lost. This summer a lawyer she didn’t know representing a client he wouldn’t name asked her to try and unseat another incumbent: Miami-Dade Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz. “This is not a joke or anything like that,” Manuel Diner, a Broward County lawyer, said in the voicemail Stefano said she received in June. “I represent a client who is eager to have someone of your quality and experience and professionalism run for office and hopefully take a seat on the County Commission.” In a follow-up phone call, Stefano said Diner named the District 12 incumbent as the target and said: “We need to get that a-hole out.” Diaz is the hometown commissioner for American Dream, a proposed $4 billion retail theme park by Triple Five, the Canada-based developer of Minnesota’s Mall of America. Diaz sponsored legislation Triple Five had sought for several years: final zoning approval for the 175-acre project on undeveloped land in Northwest Miami-Dade, where the Florida Turnpike meets I-75. Diaz also sponsored legislation that Triple Five resisted: a pre-emptive ban on granting county subsidies for the project. American Dream didn’t ask for public dollars. But in the run-up to the May 17 vote on final zoning approvals, rival malls paid for television ads and robocalls pressuring commissioners to approve a ban on public money.


Both the Tampa Bay Times and the Sun-Sentinel editorial boards have backed Putnam in the Republican primary for Governor over the Trump-backed DeSantis. In describing Putnam, the Sentinel editorial team writes, “he would be far more capable than DeSantis of forging a consensus to address the algae blooms.” The Times writes that Putnam “has a deep understanding of Florida, a firm grasp of state issues and a vision for the future that U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis cannot match.”

In the Democratic primary, the Times recommends voters pick Graham, noting Democrats have “several intriguing candidates, but breaking the Republicans’ complete control of state government depends on appealing to centrist voters who have drifted away from the party.”

The Sentinel, however, is backing Jeff Greene, calling him “the game changer, not just because he promises to spend the money needed to ensure he and other Democrats win, but because he has the know-how, confidence and connections to get good things done.” The Times also released endorsements for nearby state House races.

In the District 57 Republican primary, the newspaper is backing Mike Beltran because he “is a solid conservative and accepts that public scrutiny comes with asking for the public’s trust.”

In the Republican primary for District 59, the Times is supporting Joe Wicker, “a small-business advocate who wants to cut government regulations and create a stronger business environment.”

In the Democratic primary for District 61, the Times recommends Dianne Hart, noting that “she would work with local government to improve mass transit and strive at the state level to increase funding for public schools.”

In the District 62 Democratic primary, the Times is backing Susan Valdes, because “she has, on balance, been a strong supporter of her heavily Hispanic district, and her keen attention to her constituents’ needs makes her the best choice in this race.”

In the Republican primary for District 64, the Times recommends Terry Power because he “offers a broader platform and a commitment to service that could benefit the district.”

In the Republican primary for District 66, the newspaper recommends Nick DiCeglie, noting he “has a strong grasp of issues affecting small businesses, from taxes to government regulation to workers compensation costs.”

In the Democratic primary for District 67, the Times recommends Dawn Douglas referencing her education background and how she “is critical of the Republican-led Legislature’s attacks on teacher unions and spending on charter schools, and she says there is too much emphasis on standardized tests.”

For the Republican primary in District 69, the newspaper is backing Blacklidge because he “has more experience inside and outside government” than his opponents.

In the Democratic primary for District 70, the paper recommends incumbent Wengay Newton, saying he has made “positive contributions and was not bashful about speaking up.”


Supreme Court halts Scott judicial appointment” via the News Service of Florida — The 4-3 decision by the Supreme Court effectively blocked a lower court from finalizing a decision that would allow Scott to appoint Duval County Judge Lester Bass to replace retiring Circuit Judge Robert Foster. The Supreme Court imposed a stay that will remain in place until justices decide how to handle an underlying dispute about whether Scott has the authority to appoint a replacement for Foster. Jacksonville attorney David Trotti requested the stay last week after the 1st District Court of Appeal ruled that Scott had the authority to name a replacement for Foster. Shortly after the appeals court ruling, Scott announced he would appoint Bass to replace Foster as soon as the 1st District Court of Appeal ruling becomes final — a process known as the appeals court issuing a “mandate.” Trotti appealed the 1st District Court of Appeal ruling to the Supreme Court and asked to stay the issuance of the mandate. The Supreme Court decision granting Trotti’s request did not explain the majority’s reasoning.

Scott says state will fight red tide” via Florida Politics — Gov. Scott directed state agencies “to mobilize all available resources to address red tide impacts in Southwest Florida’s coastal communities.” The announcement mentioned the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). “FWC and DEP will enhance cleanup efforts, public awareness initiatives and water testing to ensure that Floridians understand the best ways to minimize the impact of red tide,” a news release added.

A red tide ravaging Florida may have killed a whale shark for the first known time” via Kate Furby of The Washington Post — In late July, a whale shark washed up dead at Sanibel Island … The young adult male shark was 26 feet long and floating in the surf zone as soft waves lapped around its body. A biologist from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission sampled the shark’s muscle, liver, intestines and stomach contents. The muscles and organs tested positive for brevetoxin, a neurotoxin created by harmful algae called Karenia brevis. This is the first time the commission has had an opportunity to sample whale shark tissue for this toxin. Scientists cannot be certain about the exact cause of the whale shark’s death, but the timing and location implicate the harmful algal bloom, or “red tide,” as the most likely cause. “This whale shark was definitely exposed to the bloom, and we know brevetoxins” are deadly to fish, said Kelly Richmond, a spokeswoman for the commission.

A whale shark killed by red tide bacteria washed up on Sanibel Island. (Image via Facebook/Matt Devitt)

Tom Lee says he’s looking forward to leadership change in Senate” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics — Lee is psyching himself up for another term in the Florida Senate. “I was pretty much resolved to step away for a little while, and get on with some business and try to help my son get through high school,” the Thonotosassa Republican (and Senate President in 2004-06) said last week. After considering runs for Chief Financial Officer and for Congress, and even leaving politics altogether, he decided last month to seek re-election … Lee, who has served a combined 16 years in the chamber, clashed regularly with leadership under President Joe Negron of Stuart, but expects better days when Bradenton Republican Bill Galvano wields the gavel, as expected next year” “My sense is there are going to be a lot of changes in the Senate, and it’s going to be a more rewarding place in which to serve in the coming years.”

New lawsuit highlights legislative logjam over PIP reform” via Michael Moline of Florida Politics — Florida’s no-fault insurance system continues to generate fraud, judging by allegations in a lawsuit that insurer State Farm filed in federal court. The suit, filed in the Southern District of Florida on Aug. 1, alleges three clinics cheated it out of $4.7 million. Will suits like these help break the policy logjam that has prevented the Legislature from responding to problems with the state law requiring motorists to carry personal-injury protection (PIP) policies? Not necessarily, according to Sen. Lee. The Thonotosassa Republican’s PIP repeal bill died in committee last Session. That was amid wrangling with the House over whether to mandate that drivers carry at least $5,000 in medical coverage. “The problem has to become more painful than the solution for consensus to develop in the Legislature,” Lee said in a telephone interview. “It was clear last year that we just weren’t there yet.”

Here’s what Broward schools knew about Parkland shooter — details revealed by mistake” via Brittany Wallman and Paula McMahon of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — In the year leading up to the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, killer Nikolas Cruz was stripped of the therapeutic services disabled students need, leaving him to navigate his schooling as a regular student despite mounds of evidence that he wasn’t. When he asked to return to a special education campus, school officials fumbled his request. Those conclusions were revealed in a consultant’s report commissioned by the Broward public school system. Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer ordered that the report be released publicly, but with nearly two-thirds of the content blacked out … the method the district used to conceal the text failed. The blacked-out text became visible when pasted into another computer file. What emerged was the first detailed account of Cruz’s years in the school system, what the school district knew about him and what mistakes were made.

In latest ‘stand your ground’ case, a question: who started it?” via Kathryn Varn of the Tampa Bay Times — A popular question has emerged in the weeks since McGlockton was shot and killed in a convenience store parking lot. Didn’t the shooter, Drejka, trigger the whole situation when he took the law into his own hands, confronting McGlockton’s girlfriend about why she had parked in a handicap-reserved spot? “You cannot provoke a fight and then hide behind ‘stand your ground,’” said Michele Rayner, a Clearwater attorney representing McGlockton’s family, referring to the controversial self-defense law that has protected Drejka from arrest. Technically, that’s correct. Florida law does have a provision that says in part that someone cannot assert a “stand your ground” defense if the person “initially provokes the use or threatened use of force against himself or herself.” But whether that part of the law comes into play, in this case, is iffy. According to legal experts, it generally doesn’t apply when the confrontation is just verbal, barring any threats of violence … in the words of Stetson University College of Law professor Charles Rose: “The law is set up to allow you to be as big an ass as you want to be, as long as it’s just with words.”

DCF confirms two unreported assaults at Treasure Coast mental hospital” via Lucas Daprile of TCPalm — The assaults at Treasure Coast Forensic Treatment Center, which the state since has agreed were serious enough to qualify as reportable “critical incidents,” according to the Department of Children and Families spokesman David Frady. The hospital will not be disciplined for failing to report the December 2013 and October 2014 assaults because DCF has implemented new reporting requirements, additional inspections and a new system to track incidents since 2014, Frady said. “We did talk with them about ensuring accurate reporting,” Frady told TCPalm after DCF completed its investigation, prompted by TCPalm’s Jan. 21 story. “There will not be any sanctions as a result of these two events”: Dec. 13, 2013: An employee was taken to the hospital with dizziness, neck pain and a bloody nose and mouth after a patient punched him. Sept. 30, 2014: A patient was taken to the hospital with a broken collarbone and a cut on his face after another patient picked him up, slammed him on his head and repeatedly punched him even after he was unconscious.

A new report found under-staffing, lost medications and financial waste at Florida’s mental hospitals.

High-speed rail firm scouting land for station and development around proposed Rays ballpark site” via Christopher O’Donnell of the Tampa Bay Times — Brightline is already scouting sites for a terminus in downtown Tampa, according to local officials. Among the sites that have caught the interest of Brightline are Tampa Union Station, Tampa Park Apartments and the old jail site on North Morgan Street … That could put a new rail terminus within walking distance of a new Tampa Bay Rays ballpark proposed for Ybor City. And with Brightline subsidizing railroad cost by cashing in on development around stations, it could make the area just north of the Channel District a potential new hub of downtown’s expansion. “They’re real estate developers,” said Bob McDonaugh, Tampa’s administrator for economic opportunity, who recently met with Brightline officials. “If a station is well-sited, it does create real estate opportunities.”

Mosaic won extension of its mining permit. Here’s what it means for Manatee County” via James Jones of the Bradenton Herald — The extension allows Mosaic to continue operations at the Southeast Tract, Wingate East Mine and Wingate Creek Mine … The extension is the final step Mosaic needed to begin mining the 4,441-acre Wingate East property, to continue its existing mining operation at the 4,029-acre Wingate Creek property, and to use the Southeast Tract as a settling area. Mosaic is expected to continue operations at Wingate East until 2034 and at Southeast Tract and Wingate Creek until 2037. Reclamation is projected to be completed for all three sites in 2042. Requiring Mosaic to periodically request extension of its operating permit is one way that the county ensures bonding is in place for reclamation, said Rob Brown, Manatee County’s environmental protection division manager. Beyond its immediate business function, Mosaic also takes an active role in the Manatee community. Benefiting from its financial support are a wide range of organizations, including the 1914 Myakka City School House, State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota, Duette Fire Station and Bunker Hill Community Park, and school bus drivers who received gift cards for length of service and safe driving, among others.

Treasure Coast sees increase in kratom-involved deaths, Medical Examiner’s Office says” via Sara Marino of TCPalm — Dr. Roger Mittleman, the medical examiner for the Treasure Coast and Okeechobee County, said he first noticed kratom as a cause of death in 2017. That year, there were nine local kratom-involved deaths on the Treasure Coast, he said. For the first five months of 2018, the latest data available, there already have been eight deaths linked to it, according to records obtained by TCPalm. “In almost half the year now, we have almost the total amount (of kratom-involved deaths) we did in 2017,” Mittleman said. “We have a lot of pending cases now, and it could be that this number may be even higher.” He said he couldn’t pinpoint a specific reason why he’s noticing an increase in kratom in some of the bodies autopsied. But, he said, overdoses of kratom is an emerging problem. While it is not illegal to use, the FDA has advised people not to take kratom because it can cause severe withdrawal signs and symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, respiratory problems and depression.

Flags at half-staff for Fort Myers officer” via Florida Politics — Gov. Scott ordered flags at half-staff for Officer Adam Jobbers-Miller, late of the Fort Myers Police Department. Jobbers-Miller, a three-year veteran of the force, was killed in the line of duty on Saturday, July 28. Scott directed the U.S. and state flags to be flown at half-staff at the Lee County Courthouse in Fort Myers, Fort Myers City Hall, the Fort Myers Police Department and the Capitol in Tallahassee from sunrise to sunset on Monday. “Police officers like Adam Jobbers-Miller put their lives on the line every day to keep our communities safe,” Scott said in a statement. “My wife Ann and I are praying for his family and everyone in the entire Lee County law enforcement community.”


Florida’s spiny lobster fishery could suffer losses resulting from new U.S. tariffs on seafood.

The season opens Monday, and harvesters had hoped this year would help offset losses caused by Hurricane Irma, reports Jennifer Kay for The Associated Press.

Florida’s spiny lobster industry could feel the bite of tariffs. 

“But the industry has come to depend on Chinese exports over the last decade, and fishermen worry tariffs that could raise prices by 25 percent will send the Chinese market looking for lobster in another country’s waters.”

Backdrop: Ernie Piton, president of the Florida Keys Commercial Fishermen’s Association and a lobster fisherman, tells Kay that Irma wiped out “roughly 90,000 out of 474,000 lobster traps in the Keys” and that each trap costs around $40.

Problem: According to Piton, around 90 percent of Keys lobsters are exported to China. The total harvest floats around 5 million pounds. Piton tells Kay that domestic consumers don’t match what the Chinese are willing to pay.

Policy: Peter Quinter, an international trade expert with GrayRobinson, describes the issue in a nutshell. “If the Chinese consumer is no longer looking at the U.S. for merchandise or products, this is not a one-time or seasonal problem,” Quinter tells Kay. “Long after Trump is gone, they’ll be negatively affected.”


Trump loses appeal to Doral golf resort tenant in room-rate dispute” via Martin Vassolo of the Miami Herald — The Trump-owned company that operates the president’s Trump National Doral Miami golf resort has to pay more than $2 million in legal fees stemming from a dispute over room rates — a 538 percent proposed increase — connected to a spa leasing space at the resort, an appellate court ruled … Attorneys for Pritikin Longevity Center and Spa had argued in Miami-Dade Circuit Court last year that Trump Endeavor 12 attempted to force the resort’s in-house spa out of its lease after Trump purchased the National Doral in 2012 and renovated it. Trump Endeavor is a New York-based limited liability corporation previously run by Trump and now run by his son Donald Trump Jr.

POLITICO reporter apologizes for calling CNN haters at Trump rally ‘garbage people’ with bad teeth” via Kristine Phillips of The Washington Post — Tweets from Marc Caputo fueled criticism from conservatives, who said his mockery of the president’s supporters validates their hatred of the media. The following day, Caputo deleted his tweets and apologized, saying he should not have stirred further anger and division in an already deeply polarized political landscape. “Hate begets hate,” Caputo tweeted, clarifying that he was not mocking a broad swath of Trump supporters but only those screaming at the media at the Tampa rally. “But the fault is mine for causing confusion and feeding anger. In the age of social media, where divisiveness serves no decent purpose, these flippant comments on my part only made things worse and contributed to a cycle of rage that I should not have inflamed further. So, I’m sorry.”

I’m sorry, so sorry: Marc Caputo backtracks on Twitter after criticizing Trump supporters.

Marco Rubio signals changes to election meddling bill” via Martin Matishak of POLITICO Florida — The proposed bill, known as the DETER Act and backed by Rubio and Chris Van Hollen would bar foreign governments from buying ads to influence U.S. elections, and would also give the director of national intelligence the power to deploy “national security tools” such as sanctions if the Kremlin interferes in another American election. However, there is a worry on Capitol Hill about giving the nation’s spy chief, not the president, such power. “That’s part of the bill that we’ll probably have to rework in some way,” Rubio said on “Fox News Sunday. “There’s some concern about it.”

Facing deportation, US Marine’s wife leaves for Mexico” via Mike Schneider of The Associated Press — Alejandra and Temo Juarez, a naturalized citizen who runs a roofing business, quietly raised Pamela and their 9-year-old daughter, Estela, in the central Florida town of Davenport until a 2013 traffic stop exposed her legal status. Temo didn’t figure his vote for Trump would affect them personally. That was before the enforcement of Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy toward illegal immigration. Now, the Juarez family will be divided in two: Estela will join her mother in Mexico after she gets settled, while Temo cares for Pamela and pays the bills. Alejandra, 39, petitioned to become a citizen in 2001 but was rejected because she was accused of making a false statement at the border when she sought asylum in 1998, attorney Richard Maney said. He said she was asked about her citizenship and told authorities she had been a student in Memphis, Tennessee for a short time, so border officials apparently thought she was falsely claiming to be an American citizen. “This is not going to be the last case like this,” Maney said. “This is potentially the first of many. There are many military spouses in the same situation.”

Alejandra Juarez says goodbye to daughters Pamela, 16, and Estella, 8, as U.S. Rep. Darren Soto looks on.


Joe Henderson: Andrew Learned knows about the extra mile” via Florida Politics — Learned, running for Florida’s 15th Congressional District, is personable, just 30 years old, confident; he has a compelling personal story, too. He grew up in Valrico and graduated from the University of Tampa, and later interned for a pair of Hillsborough County Commissioners — Republican Mark Sharpe and Democrat Kevin Beckner. Learned was a Republican as a student majoring in economics and political science, but converted because, he said, “the Republican Party left me a long time ago” by its policies on public education, health care, women’s issues, immigration and tax policies that he says hurts the middle class and makes rich guys richer. He also has the support of several Democratic Party officials, including U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, who has helped him in fundraising. He talks about his army of volunteers, contacting each eligible voter in the primary to tell his story. While we were talking, people were stopping by the outdoor table where we sat to shake his hand and just say hello. Will it be enough? We won’t know that until Aug. 28.


Winners of Sunshine State Awards announced — Among the highest honors, The James Batten Award for Public Service went to Carol Marbin MillerAudra D.S. Burch, and Emily Michot from the Miami Herald for their project “Fight Club: Dark Secrets of Florida Juvenile Justice.” Of “Fight Club,” the judges said: “They identified hundreds of individuals who’d been ousted by adult facilities for sexual misconduct, contraband smuggling, sleeping on the job, lying, unprovoked beatdowns and ‘moral violations’ but were later deemed fit to monitor juvenile delinquents.” POLITICO Florida was a finalist for that award for “Sex scandals stings Florida politics.” The Gene Miller Award for Investigative Reporting went to Mark Puente from the Tampa Bay Times for the project “The failures of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board,” a “terrific example of what happens when a good reporter starts digging into a corrupt agency that has never before been subjected to serious scrutiny. Compelling examples of the misuse of power by the executive director led to significant reforms.” In other honors, Nate Monroe from The Florida Times-Union won the top prize for Journalist of the Year. The full list is here.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Matt BryanDavid DanielThomas GriffinJeff HartleyLisa HurleyJim Naff, Smith Bryan & Myers: Ameresco

Mike Haridopolos: Brevard Family Partnership

Jon JohnsonDarrick McGhee, Johnson & Blanton: United Bridge Partners

Jonathan KilmanPaul Lowell, Converge Government Affairs of Florida: Behavior Analysis Support Services

Monica RodriguezKatherine San Pedro, Ballard Partners: Epilepsy Florida

Lane Stephens, SCG Governmental Affairs: PanCare of Florida

— ALOE —

Daytona Beach vet, 94, honored with medals 74 years later” via T. S. Jarmusz of the Daytona Beach News-Journal — Richard “Dick” Charles sat in clothes resembling his old uniform as Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps honored him for his service as a pilot in the Army Air Corps during World War II. “Hell, I thought I was long gone and forgotten,” Charles said, adding that he was moved that “people cared enough to go through all this trouble just to honor me.” The event almost never happened, if not for son Bill Charles’ quest to learn more about his father. In searching his father’s war records, Bill Charles uncovered a secret: His father was never presented with the four medals he earned for serving in World War II. “I’d sure love to get this to him before he should pass on,” Bill Charles said he thought at the time.

Capt. Pat Everly, U.S. Navy commanding officer for the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps Unit at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University formally presented four medals to Capt. John Richard Charles, 94, of Daytona Beach. (Image via Embry-Riddle/Daryl Labello)

Purple Heart Day to be held — Purple Heart recipients and their family members can participate in an Operation Outdoor Freedom event at Camp Prairie in Polk County. Operation Outdoor Freedom, which has been sponsored by Ag. Commissioner Putnam, provides wounded veterans with such things as guided hunts, fishing trips and canoe tours. It starts Tuesday at 8 a.m., Camp Prairie, Lake Wales.

Unclaimed property auction set — CFO Jimmy Patronis announced that this year’s auction is Saturday, Aug. 18 in Tampa. The auction is open to the public. “More than $321 million in unclaimed property has been returned to Floridians since I took office, breaking the previously held record set in the program’s 57-year history by more than $8 million,” Patronis said in a news release. “It’s been my goal to do everything possible to return unclaimed dollars and property back to Florida residents and businesses.” Proceeds from the auction are deposited into the state’s education fund where they support Florida’s public school system. Visit to see if you or someone you know has unclaimed property.

Happy birthday from this weekend to former Rep. Ed Hooper, HCA’s Ryan AndersonHeather Barker, and Sachs Media Group’s Herbie Thiele. Celebrating today are Rep. Tom LeekArlene DiBenigno, and Southern Strategy Group’s Mercer Fearington.


The Bark Box

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