Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 10.15.18 – Florida Politics

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

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

Good Monday morning. This is a 9,000 word edition of Sunburn (our apologies to Gary Fineout, who lovingly chides us for how long this email can sometimes be) — there’s just that much going on in Florida politics. And there’s so much riveting journalism about Hurricane Michael that it’s a challenge to choose which stories to highlight.

Still, this is a political email, so we’re starting the day with an exclusive look at polling from what may end up being the most expensive campaign this November — even more expensive than the U.S. Senate race!

First in Sunburn —Gambling amendment will pass, AIF poll suggests” via Florida Politics — The constitutional amendment to limit gambling expansion in the Sunshine State has the support of a supermajority of voters, according to a new poll released by the Associated Industries of Florida … 70 percent of likely general election voters were in favor of Amendment 3, also known as the “Voter Control of Gambling in Florida” amendment. Only 15 percent of voters said they were planning to vote against the amendment on Election Day, with the other 15 percent of voters presumably undecided. The new measure shows the anti-gambling expansion amendment has the same level of support as it did at the first of the month. The new results also continue a streak of positive results for Amendment 3, which would give Florida voters the “exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling” in the state.


@SenatorGainer: It’s unbelievable. Hard to wrap your mind around it even when you see it in person. I think we are all kinda trying to come to terms. My hearts hurts for our district, and it’s people. Lots of work to be done. Thank God we are workers!

@KarlEtters: Franklin County Property Appraiser told me nearly ALL ground level houses from Carrabelle to Lanark are demolished. On Alligator Point, about 50 percent of the homes to the east of the road washout are severely damaged. Bc of erosion, people are not going to be able to rebuild

@HatterLynn: Update: Liberty County. Schools canceled until further notice. Also note, Gadsden and Jackson as well. Jackson says schools might be able to open no earlier than November 1st.

@MarcACaputo: Gadsden County Public Schools wins the award for Most Heartless District in Florida County is 83% W/OUT POWER, but teachers (among the lowest paid in low-paying FL) must go to work tomorrow. Teachers have kids. There’s no daycare. Some have home damage

@FLMolly: The bitching I’m seeing on Facebook from people who haven’t had power for a whole 3 days is astounding. This from the same crowd that’s always accusing people of being weak & wanting a handout & lecturing folks on pulling themselves up by their bootstraps. Self-reliance my ass.

@FLCourts: The Florida Supreme Court this week will begin issuing retroactive orders extending legal deadlines missed because of #HurricaneMichael. It is not necessary for litigants or attorneys to file motions for extensions for these time periods.

@MCIMaps: For record. Because people won’t stop asking me. Scott did NOT get a notable #FLSEN polling bump from Irma. He got a bigger bump when he dominated the airwaves, which he no longer does. This is also a much more regional of a hurricane. We don’t have any new polls yet #flapol

@ElectionSmith: Nearly 1,000 Floridians have returned VBM ballots without a signature. Nearly 900 more had another error with their returned VBM. These voters *should* be notified by their SOE to complete and return a “Vote-by-Mail Ballot Cure” Affidavit.



MLB World Series begins — 8; ‘Before You Vote’ Florida Governor debate — 9; Early voting begins — 12; Halloween — 16; General Election Day — 22; Florida Blue Florida Classic: FAMU vs. BCU — 33; 2019 Legislature Organization Session meetings — 36; Thanksgiving — 38; Black Friday — 39; Florida Chamber Insurance Summit — 43; 2019 Session Interim Committee Meetings begin — 57; ‘Hamilton’ comes to the Straz Center — 120; 2019 Legislative Session starts — 141; ‘Captain Marvel’ release — 144; 2020 General Election — 750.


Hurricane Michael could play role in Senate, Governor’s races” via John Kennedy of the GateHouse Capital Bureau — The name Hurricane Michael won’t be on the ballot, but one of the most powerful storms ever to hit Florida could play a pivotal role in the state’s biggest election contests. … Rick Scott, who is looking to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, dominated the airwaves before the hurricane’s Wednesday landfall … Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum is mayor of Tallahassee, a city sideswiped by Michael and still reeling from downed trees and power outages. Like Scott, Gillum got plenty of TV face time before the storm, sounding warnings and looking on top of preparations — lately even wielding a chainsaw to help with neighborhood cleanup. Both men now, though, stare into an unknown — the storm’s aftermath — as the Nov. 6 election approaches.

It may not be on the ballot, but Michael will certainly be in the race.

Citing Hurricane Michael, Andrew Gillum says he will return to campaign trail Thursday, missing first debate” via Elizabeth Koh of the Tampa Bay Times — Gillum will remain off the campaign trail until Thursday and miss the first scheduled debate against Ron DeSantis, he announced Saturday night. … The Tallahassee mayor … said that he would remain focused on his city duties through Wednesday’s city commission meeting, meaning he would not participate in the debate scheduled Tuesday in Orlando. … “Over the past several days I have been unable to participate in dozens of campaign events, and this week that will include our participation in the debate sponsored by Telemundo 31 Orlando” … “We will work diligently to ensure Telemundo and its audience are represented in the two scheduled debates and other possible forums.”

Andrew Gillum, busy cleaning up debris left from Michael, helps with downed trees in Tallahassee.


Officials fear Michael’s death toll will rise” via Russ Bynum and Brendan Farrington of The Associated Press — So far, one body has been found in Mexico Beach, but authorities say there is little doubt the death toll will rise. Crews with dogs went door-to-door Saturday in Mexico Beach, pushing aside debris to get inside badly damaged structures in a second wave of searches following what they described as an initial, “hasty” search of the area. About 1,700 search and rescue personnel have checked 25,000 homes, Gov. Scott said. “Everything is time-consuming,” said Capt. Ignatius Carroll, of the South Florida Urban Search and Rescue task force. “You don’t want to put a rush on a thorough rescue.” More roads were passable along the storm-ravaged coast as crews cleared downed trees and power lines, but traffic lights remained out, and there were long lines at the few open gas stations.

’It’s all gone’: Tiny beach town nearly swept away by Michael” via Patricia Sullivan, Emily Wax-Thibodeaux and Annie Gowen of the Tampa Bay Times — Mexico Beach — population 1,072 — the devastation was nearly unfathomable. The public pier had washed away. Entire blocks of houses were wiped clear off their foundations. The town’s landmark El Governor Motel was gutted, its heated pool and Tiki Bar a pile of detritus, colorful beach umbrellas shredded and upended. The popular RV park looked like a junkyard. Beach houses were pulled off their pilings. Toucan’s, a favorite seafood restaurant, lay in ruin. As the National Guard arrived, Thomas Jett was out surveying the town after he weathered the storm there with this dog. He had waited too long to evacuate and then had to turn back when his van was nearly blown off the road. “There’s not a word in the dictionary to explain how bad it was,” Jett said. “It’s like the end of the world … it’s amazing anybody’s still alive, still standing … In the blink of an eye, it’s all gone. It’s horrible.”

‘It’s all gone’: Mexico Beach nearly swept away by Hurricane Michael. (Image via Washington Post)

For a struggling oyster town, Michael may be one misery too many” via Patricia Mazzei of The New York Times — Calamity is familiar to Florida’s dwindling colony of oystermen, a rugged crew that has defiantly remained on Apalachicola Bay as its estuary has suffered the decimating effects of overharvesting, an oil spill, the loss of fresh water and, at times, stubborn drought. But the new ruin brought by Hurricane Michael felt like one misfortune too many in this postcard-perfect town where locals have only just begun to grapple with the extent of the storm’s damage to the industry that once drove the local economy, which had already been struggling to survive. “First you couldn’t get oysters,” said Kevin Ward, 40, whose family’s wholesale seafood facility 13 miles out of town was partly destroyed by the storm. “Now we get hit by this.”

Hurricane leaves children dealing with trauma, parents struggling to restore stability” via Jake Allen of the Naples Daily News — Louisiana State University pediatrics and psychiatry professor Joy Osofsky was on a team of mental health professionals that embedded into school districts to support students who were impacted by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. “Children experience trauma depending on the impact of the hurricane and depending on their situation and how the family is able to deal with it as well,” Osofsky said. Parents should use terms appropriate for their children’s age to explain the situation, and why they may have to leave home, Osofsky said. “For the younger children the families should explain to them in a developmentally appropriate way so they can understand what’s happened and that everything will eventually will be all right,” Osofsky said. For older children, such as high school students, the impact of being disconnected from their friends during or after a hurricane can be large, Osofsky said.

Officials confirm nearly 3,000 inmates evacuated because of prison damages” via Ben Conarck of the Florida Times-Union — Some 2,600 inmates were evacuated from Gulf Correctional Institution and Annex in Wewahitchka. An additional 305 inmates were evacuated from parts of Calhoun Correctional Institution in Blountstown. The department said the facilities “sustained significant damage to roofs and security infrastructure” but reiterated that “staff and inmates were not injured during the storm” and “all inmates … had access to food and drinking water through the duration of the storm.” Those assurances, particularly of food and water access, were contested throughout the aftermath of Hurricane Michael by the loved ones of incarcerated people who were hearing information to the contrary from their husbands, sons and significant others. Of particular concern was the quality of drinking water at multiple facilities recovering from the storm, where inmates told loved ones they were instructed to drink the tap water “at their own risk.”

Just take him out and shoot ’em — “Sheriff: Man molested 6-year-old girl at hurricane shelter” via The Associated Press — News outlets report 60-year-old John Stapleton was arrested Thursday on charges including lewd and lascivious molestation of a victim under 12. Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office deputies say the attack happened at a Crestview middle school that was turned into temporary housing for shelter from Hurricane Michael. Deputies say a witness reported seeing a video of the homeless man touching a child in inappropriately underneath her clothing. They say authorities found the video and Stapleton admitted to touching the girl, though says it was “not in a lewd manner.”


Donald Trump to visit Panhandle” via The Associated Press — Trump plans to visit Florida and Georgia on Monday to survey the damage caused by Hurricane Michael. First lady Melania Trump will accompany Trump. The White House isn’t identifying areas the president will visit. At a campaign rally Saturday in Kentucky, Trump praised individuals involved in the massive recovery effort and pledged that “we will not rest until the job is done.”

FEMA focused on ‘sustaining life’ in short-term after Michael” via Kevin Robinson of the Pensacola News-Journal — The nation’s storm recovery system is working well after Hurricane Michael, said Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but because of the scope of the devastation, it will be a long time before impacted communities find a new normal. Long and Gov. Scott stopped at St. Andrew Baptist Church in Panama City for Sunday service, and Long gave a brief update on what FEMA was doing to help residents affected by one of the most devastating storms in the nation’s history. “FEMA is rapidly trying to meet the demands the governor puts forward when it comes to sustaining life, but in some cases, because of the (severity of the) hit, we’re still focusing on search and rescue in some of the areas like Mexico Beach to make sure we leave no stones unturned and we’re getting to anybody that may be trapped,” Long said.

Donald Trump meets with Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and FEMA Administrator Brock Long in the Oval Office for a briefing on Hurricane Michael.

Gulf Power eyes Oct. 24 for power restoration to Panama City, Youngstown, Lynn Haven, Parker and Callaway” via the Panama City News-Herald — Gulf Power is hoping to have power restored to Downtown Panama City, Lynn Haven Parker, Callaway and Youngstown by midnight on Wednesday, Oct. 24. Panama City Beach west of Highway 79 is estimated to be restored by midnight, Oct. 14. Panama City Beach east of Highway 79 to the Hathaway Bridge is estimated to be restored by midnight, Oct. 15. Areas north of I-10 in Bonifay and Chipley, and all Caryville and Campbellton are estimated to be restored by midnight, Oct. 17. Vernon, Sunny Hills and the surrounding areas south of I-10 are estimated to be restored by midnight, Oct. 18. Customers who live in the Cypress and Apalachee areas with a mailing address of Sneads, Florida, served by Gulf Power, are estimated to be restored by midnight, Oct. 19.

Bill Nelson: Tyndall Air Force Base to be rebuilt” via The Associated Press — Nelson visited the military base just days after Hurricane Michael tore across the region. The Florida Democrat said that older buildings on the base were demolished, while newer structures need substantial repair. He also said that some of the hangars were damaged severely. Nelson, who sits on the Senate Armed Forces Committee, said that fears that Tyndall will close are in his opinion “unfounded.” He said that Tyndall is in a strategic location for its training missions. The base was home to some of the nation’s most advanced fighter jets, but Nelson said he could not comment on how many planes were on the base during the storm or how many were damaged.

Tyndall Air Force Base sustains ‘catastrophic’ damage from Michael.

Tired, hopeful neighbors gather for Sunday mass in Quincy” via Marina Brown of the Tallahassee Democrat — There was no soaring organ music at St. Thomas Catholic Church in Quincy four days after deadly Hurricane Michael raked the small town. And if truth be told, the parishioners’ voices raised in an a capella hymn sounded a little tired. Yet they were there. Nearly 100 worshippers reflecting the town’s diversity — Hispanic, white and black, joined together in the sanctuary, which like most other buildings in Quincy, was still without power. Father Paschal Chester and Father Michael Somer were there as well, sharing with others their own stories of surviving the storm. “I am here only three months from Ghana,” said Chester. “We don’t have hurricanes in my country. But here neighbors suddenly felt like old friends as we began the cleanup.”

Back to school: FSU reopens Monday” via Florida Politics — Get ready to crack those books again, kids: Florida State University says it will reopen its main Tallahassee campus Monday morning. Classes will resume, and the main campus is expected to be fully operational, a statement said: “All faculty and staff should expect to return to normal schedules at 8 a.m.” While there are no power outages on the main campus, the administration “is aware that some students living off campus, as well as faculty and staff, may not yet have power in their homes.”

FSU’s football facilities suffered minor damage from Hurricane Michael. (Image via

State freezes insurance rates after Michael” via Jim Saunders of the News Service of Florida — Gov. Scott directed the state’s top insurance regulator to freeze any potential property-insurance rate increases for 90 days as homeowners and businesspeople grapple with massive damage from Hurricane Michael. Scott also directed Insurance Commissioner David Altmaier to require rescinding for 90 days all policy non-renewals or cancellations that had been issued in the days leading up to Michael to give policyholders more time to find coverage. In another move, insurance policyholders will be given an extra 90 days to provide the required information to insurers. It remains too early to pinpoint the amount of damage caused by Michael. But as an indication, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America issued a preliminary estimate said insured losses could total $2 billion to $4.5 billion.

Florida’s building code is tough, but Michael was tougher. Is it time for a rewrite?” via Andres Viglucci, David Ovalle, Caitlin Ostroff and Nicholas Nehamas of the Miami Herald — The devastation wrought by Hurricane Michael may have exposed a weak spot in Florida’s lauded statewide building code, among the strongest anywhere when it comes to windstorms: Across much of the Panhandle, the rules may not be tough enough. That’s because the code’s requirements for wind resistance vary widely by location. And while they’re most rigorous in famously hurricane-prone South Florida, they taper down the farther north you move along the peninsula. To illustrate the differences: Under the statewide code, most new structures in Miami-Dade County, including homes and office buildings, must be designed to withstand winds around 175 miles an hour … Along the stretch of the Panhandle hit hardest by Michael, the design standard drops to as low as 120 miles an hour before rising gradually to 150 mph around Pensacola at the state’s far western edge.

Walt Disney Company donates $1 million to Florida Disaster Fund” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Gov. Scott and Volunteer Florida thanked the corporation for the timely corporate philanthropic gesture. “We are extremely thankful for Walt Disney Company’s support of the Florida Disaster Fund,” Scott said. “This funding will support disaster response and recovery efforts and help Floridians affected by Hurricane Michael. This funding will go directly toward relief efforts in areas impacted by Hurricane Michael.” Disney CEO Robert Iger said the strong connection to the state of Florida inspired the donation. “All of us here at Disney have the families and communities impacted by this powerful storm in our hearts,” Iger said.

Trulieve launches relief drive to help Panhandle neighbors” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The Gadsden County-based company in a news release stressed the connection between the business and the Panhandle and Big Bend communities affected by the storm. “We’re fortunate enough to call Quincy our home and recognize that as the largest employer in the area, we have a responsibility to give back as much as we can,” said Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers. “Our statewide distribution system is in place and will be collecting supplies twice per week from each store and delivering back to Quincy. We aim to help as many residents in need as possible and will continue this effort until our community has sufficiently recovered.”

37 dogs, 9 puppies rescued from the path of Hurricane Michael by Humane Society Naples” via Jake Allen of the Naples Daily News — All of the puppies and 19 of the dogs are sheltered with the Humane Society Naples, where they will eventually be put up for adoption. The remaining animals went to the Animal Welfare League of Charlotte County.   The Humane Society Naples sent four people to Tallahassee in two cargo vans “filled to the brim” with crates for the rescue animals, the Humane Society’s community affairs director Jonathan Foerster said. Tallahassee’s Animal Service Center, where the dogs had been sheltered, did not have the ability to care for animals during the storm, Foerster said.


Voters say they are more likely to cast ballots in this year’s midterm elections” via Scott Clement and Dan Balz of The Washington Post — Three weeks before critical midterm elections, voters are expressing significantly more interest in turning out than they were four years ago, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll. Enthusiasm is up across almost all demographic groups, but the increases are greater among younger adults, nonwhite voters and those who say they favor Democrats for the House. Four years ago, midterm voter turnout fell to its lowest level in more than half a century. Republicans were able to capitalize by expanding their House majority and taking control of the Senate. Today, with that GOP House majority at risk and some close Senate races that will determine who has control of that chamber in January, a 77 percent majority of registered voters say they are certain to vote next month or have already voted, up from a 65 percent majority in Post-ABC polls in October 2014.


Ron DeSantis, Ashley Moody, Matt Caldwell run supplies to Panama City” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Gubernatorial candidate DeSantis, his running mate Jeannette Nunez, Attorney General candidate Moody and Agriculture Commissioner candidate Caldwell shared pictures and video today as they gathered supplies in Live Oak and ran them up to Bay County. DeSantis shared a video on Twitter explaining the need to help individuals struck by the storm. He said two U-Haul trucks filled with water, food and other supplies now accompany his campaign team up north. “Michael was really a devastating storm,” he said. “It walloped those areas, so people need assistance now.”

To view the video, click on the image below:

Anti-Andrew Gillum ads continued during hurricane, even as Democrats pulled spots” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Republican ads hitting Gillum ran hundreds of times this week in a market in the path of Hurricane Michael, even amid calls to avoid negative campaigning as the Panhandle was battered by the storm. Florida Democratic Party-funded ads, on the other hand, were paused by the party in media markets facing potential impact from Michael. The RPOF made similar requests but waited until later in the week — including one case where it called for ads to cease roughly 30 minutes before the storm made landfall. It’s considered traditional in hurricane-rich Florida for campaigns to cease overt political activity during major storms. Former Gov. Jeb Bush called for a cease-fire on MSNBC’s Morning Joe as the storm approached: “My only hope is that in the midst of a campaign season, people need to put their arms down and stop the advertising, stop the campaigning, at least in the affected areas, and help their fellow man.”

>>>You can do better than this, Brian —“Gillum caught using hurricane as campaign prop after promising to ‘suspend’ campaign during storm” via Brian Burgess of The Capitolist

Chicago billionaire fuels $8M week for DeSantis” via Florida Politics — … which goes down as his most prolific fundraising week of the election cycle. DeSantis raised nearly $1.2 million in hard money, including 125 contributions for the maximum campaign donation of $3,000. In all, his report showed more than 7,500 contributions with two-thirds of those donors chipping in $50 or less. The rest of the monster haul came in through DeSantis’ affiliated PAC, Friends of Ron DeSantis, which posted more than $7 million in receipts during the reporting period covering Sept. 29 through Oct. 5. Kenneth C. Griffin was responsible for the vast majority of that haul. Griffin is a Chicago-based investor, hedge fund manager and philanthropist who is also serving as the national finance chair for New Republican PAC, the political committee fueling Gov. Scott‘s campaign to unseat U.S. Sen. Nelson. Griffin cut DeSantis a check for $5 million on Oct. 3.

Hedge fund manager Ken Griffin cuts Ron DeSantis a big check.

On the number one issue on Floridians’ minds DeSantis still is mostly mute” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times — For starters, Gillum has a health care plan. DeSantis does not. At least none he is ready to talk much about three weeks before Election Day. This is striking for several reasons. One, DeSantis and his running mate Nunez have been saying for more than a month they were just about to release their health care plan. Two, Gillum is making health care a central part of his agenda, even if his expanding Medicaid and “Medicare-for-all” proposals have a snowball’s chance in Boca. Democrats are attacking DeSantis as a threat to voters’ access to health care, and the Republican nominee is barely pushing back. Three, health care is about the most important policy issue on the minds of Floridians. Google’s analysis of the most searched political topics in Florida over the past week: In more than 60 of 67 counties, health care was number one.

Police union backs DeSantis, bashes Gillum as anti-cop over Dream Defenders ties” via Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida — The union representing sheriff’s deputies in Florida’s second-largest county endorsed DeSantis and bashed Gillum as “hostile toward law enforcement” for signing a pledge from a leftist group that calls police officers racists. Called “The Freedom Pledge,” the document was created by the Dream Defenders organization and specifically targets the National Rifle Association and the Florida-based GEO Group, the nation’s second-largest private prison company. But the pledge also singles out police in calling for less criminal justice spending and more money for schools and social services. Jeff Bell, president of the Republican-leaning Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association, said the Dream Defenders’ pledge and its broader platform disqualified Gillum. “This is a blatant attack on our law enforcement community, an insult to the citizens we work to protect, and dishonors the memory of our fallen officers,” Bell said in a statement.

DeSantis now refers to reporters as Gillum’s ‘fake News allies’” via Colin Wolf of Orlando Weekly — In a fundraising email, the Republican stated that Gillum and his “Fake News allies” are “pouring over our end-of-quarter report for the last 12 days looking for any weakness they can exploit in the final days of the election.” (Ed. note: that’s spelled “poring,” Ron.) Well, yeah. Poring over how a candidate spends money and who gives them money is a big part of the job description of a politics reporter.

Gillum couldn’t campaign due to Hurricane Michael. So Bill de Blasio stepped in” via Jimena Tavel and David Smiley of the Miami Herald — New York City Mayor de Blasio walked into the Miami Gardens campaign office of Gillum, pumping his fist into the air and hailing Gillum’s rallying cry — “bring it home.” Gillum couldn’t visit South Florida this weekend. The candidate, who’s also the mayor of Tallahassee, was dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in North Florida. So a prominent Democrat whose name constantly pops up in discussions about 2020 presidential contenders would have to do instead. “It’s nothing like having Andrew here, obviously, but if other people can step in, it helps,” De Blasio said. “I think anytime a candidate has other responsibilities it’s important for surrogates to step up.”

Bill de Blasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray visit a Democratic office in West Palm Beach to campaign for Andrew Gillum. (Image via Palm Beach Post)

—“DeSantis, Gillum working overtime to court Jewish voters” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

DeSantis surrogate suggests Gillum would veto security funds for Jewish day schools” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald — While introducing DeSantis to a crowd at Temple Kol Ami Emanu-El in Plantation, Randy Fine, the only Republican Jewish lawmaker in the Florida Legislature, suggested Gillum might ignore a relatively new law banning the state government from doing business with companies that support a boycott of the nation of Israel. And then Fine mentioned that, over the past two years, the state of Florida has allocated $2.65 million to fund security at Jewish day schools. “Here’s what I want you to know: When we pass a law it has to be overturned for it to go away. But when it comes to funding, the governor every single year has the ability to line-item veto that funding,” Fine said. “So, if we have $2 million in the budget next year to make sure Jewish children who go to Jewish schools are safe even though they are Jewish, which one of the candidates running for governor do we believe would sign that into law and which one do we believe might veto that? That is a decision that is at stake.”

Assignment editors — Democratic Lt. Gov. candidate Chris King joins Congresswoman Kathy Castor and local community members to highlight DeSantis’ lack of a health care plan, 11 a.m., outside of the Hillsborough County Center, 601 E. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa.


Giant ad buy rips Rick Scott and his Navy cap” via Adam Smith the Tampa Bay Times — VoteVets, a Democratic-leaning veterans’ advocacy group backing Nelson, is spending $4 million for a tough ad accusing Scott of ripping off the military’s health care company when he led a health care conglomerate. The ad will run 10 days in every media market. It features Navy veteran Alan Madison of Vero Beach sporting his own blue Navy cap suggesting that Scott does not deserve to wear the cap he so frequently does. Scott enlisted in the Navy in 1979 and served 29 months, finishing as a radar technician. “Governor, this hat represents what the Navy stands for; honor, integrity,” Madison says to the camera. “My question for you, sir? Where’s yours?”

To view the ad, click on the image below:

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Scott campaign demands TV stations pull ad critical of education record” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — Scott’s campaign issued a letter criticizing a Senate Majority PAC ad critical of Scott’s education record, claiming its contention that Scott cut state general revenue funds for education is “a blatant manipulation of the facts.” The ad, “Cuts,” says Scott cut $1.3 billion from K-12 education, which did happen in 2011, according to PolitiFact. But the Scott campaign says that is different from cuts to general revenue funds and was due to federal decline in education funding in 2011 and 2012. PolitiFact also called the cause and effect of corporations receiving tax breaks and the education cuts, “murkier than the ad lets on.”

To view the ad, click on the image below:

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Florida’s U.S. Senate showdown is slimy.

The red and blue-green algae outbreaks could compel Floridians to the polls on Election Day, POLITICO Magazine’s Michael Grunwald writes, and could swing the outcome of one of the closest-watched races in 2018.

Gov. Scott can’t help but get “tagged” with responsibility for the worsening algae problems. “Scott has argued that the saltwater red tides are a natural occurrence, which is true but somewhat beside the point, because pollution makes them much worse.”

Don’t meme me: #RedTideRick is the digital expression of how some Floridians feel. A Miami filmmaker has gone as far as tweeting out spoofs of VISIT FLORIDA ads, mocking the Governor and the state’s tourism industry.

Who’s to blame?: When he took office in 2011, “Scott was gutting the budgets and staffs of state environmental agencies and water management districts.” He’s been faulted in part because the worst of the outbreaks have occurred under his tenure. But Scott’s campaign team suggests Nelson should share the blame by the same standard.

We’re different: “In surveys, Americans rarely cite the environment as a top priority, even though most voters support strict environmental regulations,” writes Grunwald. “But nature is so intimately connected to Florida’s economy and culture that green issues can tilt elections here.”


We asked Florida candidates if they’ve smoked marijuana. Here’s what they said.” via Steve Contorno of the Tampa Bay Times — Asked if she has ever used marijuana, Nikki Fried wasn’t coy about it. “Of course, I have,” the agriculture commissioner candidate and marijuana lobbyist said. Four of the 12 candidates acknowledged prior marijuana use, including Gillum. “Many years ago,” his spokeswoman Johanna Cervone said. Gillum has advocated for legalizing marijuana and taxing it. Five candidates said they have never smoked. Three wouldn’t respond, all Republicans: DeSantis, his running mate Núñez and Moody, the candidate for Attorney General. Fried’s Republican opponent in the race for Agriculture Commissioner, Caldwell acknowledged past usage as well: “I have tried cannabis, however, it’s not for me.” Rep. Sean Shaw, the Democratic nominee for Attorney General said he has smoked too but added: “It does not shape my views at all.” Nelson said he has never smoked but said if a doctor believes that’s the best way to treat a patient, the state shouldn’t stand in the way. Of the Florida cabinet positions, only the race for Chief Financial Officer featured two candidates who said they have never used marijuana.


Nancy Soderberg raises more than $1M in Q3 — Soderberg enters the final stretch of the race for Florida’s 6th Congressional District with over $2.5 million total raised and over 8,500 contributions this cycle, the majority of which are $100 or under. Soderberg’s campaign says her fundraising numbers reflect multiple polls showing the race is a dead heat, including a poll from last week showing Soderberg and Republican opponent Mike Waltz statistically tied, with data projecting undecided voters are moving toward Soderberg.

Brian Mast ad hits Lauren Baer over response to 9/11via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Republican U.S. Rep. Mast is going after Baer over an article Baer wrote while attending Harvard which criticized American foreign policy in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. The pair is currently competing in Florida’s 18th Congressional District. Mast’s new minute-long ad, titled “Sacrifice,” features former New York City police officer John Napolitano discussing the death of his son, a New York City firefighter with FDNY Rescue 2. Napolitano then hammers Baer, assailing her criticism. “On Sept. 11, 2001, my son John was one of the heroes never recovered,” Napolitano begins. “When I got to the Trade Center, I wrote a big message in the ash to my son. I wrote, ‘Rescue 2, John Napolitano. I’m here and I love you. Dad.’ I thought to myself, that if he was looking down on me, I was telling him that I loved him,” Napolitano says through tears.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

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Baer the ‘clear’ choice in CD 18, says new ad” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Baer is out with a new campaign ad arguing she’s the best candidate to address environmental issues in Florida’s 18th Congressional District. The ad, titled “Clear,” tackles the recent algae blooms in particular. Baer argues Mast hasn’t done enough to stop the spread of those blooms throughout the coast. “In this election, we have a clear choice to protect our water and economy,” the ad’s narrator begins. “Since Brian Mast has been in Congress, he’s taken over $80,000 from polluters, and consistently voted to eliminate protections for our water. The algae crisis has gotten worse. Our water and economy can’t take another two years of Brian Mast.”

To view the ad, click on the image below:

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Donna Shalala in trouble in CD 27, new poll shows” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — A new survey from Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy shows Shalala trailing in the race for Florida’s 27th Congressional District. That’s according to a report from POLITICO. The poll was conducted Oct. 1 to 6 among 625 likely voters on behalf of Telemundo 51. It showed 44 percent of voters behind Republican nominee Maria Elvira Salazar, while 42 percent supported Shalala. Mayra Joli, the Trump-supporting third-party candidate, polled at just 1 percent. The Democrat’s deficit was well within the poll’s margin of error of 4 percentage points. But it’s another sign that Shalala’s position in the race is not as strong as Democrats had hoped.

New Maria Elvira Salazar ad: ‘Our environment’ depends on this electionvia Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Salazar, the Republican candidate in Florida’s 27th Congressional District, is out with a new ad touting her “vow” to fight for environmental protection in Congress. Salazar has attempted to cast herself as a moderate on the environment. She recently told the Miami Herald she would be open to a carbon tax proposal put forward by U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida’s 26th Congressional District. His own party swiftly rejected his efforts. The Republican’s new 30-second ad echoes those comments, as she competes against Democratic nominee Donna Shalala.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

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Tom Wright’s wealth was plus for GOP choosing him as candidate to replace Dorothy Hukill in Senate race” via Dave Berman of FLORIDA TODAY — The selection of Wright, a New Smyrna Beach business owner, as the new Republican candidate is the latest twist in an unusual Florida Senate race in District 14. The incumbent Republican in Senate District 14, Hukill of Port Orange, announced on Sept. 28 that she was pulling out of the race because of an “aggressive recurrence” of cervical cancer. Four days later, she died. That set up a process that rarely comes into play under which six party leaders from the two counties that are part of the district — Brevard and Volusia — met to pick a replacement. In an interview after his selection, Wright told FLORIDA TODAY: “I hope to do right by Dorothy Hukill and take what she did and build upon it.” Wright oversees his two Minnesota-based businesses from New Smyrna Beach. One makes air-supplied respiratory protection equipment and the other makes compressed air filter products.

Happening Tuesday:

Dana Young Fundraiser 10.16.2018

Margaret Good-Ray Pilon Sarasota state House race is a key bellwether contest” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Before Good’s victory in HD 72, Democrats hadn’t won a legislative race in Sarasota or Manatee counties — other than for an overwhelmingly-Democratic district that stretches down from St. Petersburg — since 2008. Whether the freshman state representative can continue to generate support will say something about whether Democrats have found a message that resonates locally. Trump carried HD 72 by more than four percentage points, but Good won it by seven percentage points in the February special election, a major shift that marked the district as a key swing seat and a bellwether for the broader political climate.

In this House race, Republican challenger hopes to become #TheRealJavier” via Rene Rodriguez and David Smiley of the Miami Herald — In the race for HD 114, as some voters in the district head to the polls for the fourth time in the last six months to elect their state representative, they may be asking themselves: Will the real Javier please stand up? Newly minted state Rep. Javier Enrique Fernandez faces a challenge from rookie candidate Javier Enriquez. Only five months after beating a well-connected and better-funded opponent, Fernandez now faces a more amicable challenge from an opponent armed with a unique strength — a name so similar voters might not know one from the other beyond the “D” and “R” placed next to their names on the ballot. And yet, both candidates have taken to using the hashtag #TheRealJavier on social media.

Miami commissioner moves $100K from aborted bid for Congress to re-election PAC” via David Smiley of the Miami Herald — Miami Commissioner Ken Russell’s got a brand-new bag … of campaign cash. This summer, months after aborting his bid to replace U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Russell moved $100,000 from his congressional campaign committee into a state-registered PAC supporting his reelection to the city commission. The six-figure move is perfectly legal, if not common. Russell said he contacted all his donors after withdrawing from the Democratic primary for Florida’s 27th Congressional District in order to ask whether they wanted their money returned, donated to a charity or were comfortable leaving it in his hands to use in his political endeavors. “Every dollar that’s in that state PAC has expressly been stated by the donor that I can use it for any of those purposes,” he said.


Florida tourism industry sees resiliency tested in Michael, water quality crises” via Laura Ruane of the Fort Myers News-Press — Devastating hurricanes, dead fish on the beaches and green slime in canals and rivers: Florida’s No. 1 industry just can’t catch a break. Now Hurricane Michael — a near-Cat 5 storm that pounded Panama City and reduced Mexico Beach to rubble — is again testing the state’s tourism industry. Can it recover? “I’m not sure if it’s because there have been more crises, but VISIT FLORIDA’s crisis response has stepped up,” said Nerissa Okiye, Martin County’s tourism marketing manager. “The industry comes together when things like hurricanes happen, so experienced people from around the state help each other.” State tourism leaders are grieving with residents and businesses over the losses in human life and property. But they’re convinced the industry has the right stuff to rebound stronger than ever.

Interviews scheduled for state Supreme Court vacancies” via Florida Politics — A review panel announced Friday it had decided to interview all 59 applicants for three upcoming Florida Supreme Court vacancies. The Florida Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission (JNC) will meet Nov. 3 and Nov. 4 in Miami, and again Nov. 8 and Nov. 9 in Tampa. “This schedule will position the Florida Supreme Court JNC to certify nominations at the earliest on Nov. 10 or sometime thereafter to give the Governor and Governor-elect ample time to do their vetting and minimize the time that these three judicial vacancies remain unfilled,” a news release said. The South Florida interviews will take place at the Miami International Airport Hotel; the Tampa interviews will be held at the Airport Executive Center.

Happening today — The 1st District Court of Appeal will hear arguments in a public-records lawsuit about whether Gov. Scott should be required to turn over his calendar to the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, which has been locked in a battle with the state about Medicaid contracts, 2 p.m., 1st District Court of Appeal, 2000 Drayton Dr., Tallahassee.

Mini riot at Taylor Correctional Institution; staff and inmates injured” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat — The melee is at least the fourth time since August in which inmates reportedly attacked officers and staff at the prison in Perry, 60 miles southeast of Tallahassee. Thursday’s riot resulted in some officers receiving medical treatment for non-life-threatening injuries. Several inmates were also treated — one was sent to an outside facility for medical attention. One inmate involved in the disturbance had been transferred to Florida State Prison Friday, the morning after the inmates allegedly launched the attack. The Taylor medium-security facility houses 1,400 adults and opened in 1994. In recent years, the tension between staff and inmates have simmered and occasionally boiled into violence.

Gambling divides the politics of the family behind the Fontainebleau and Aventura Mall” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — The senior partners in the Turnberry real estate empire have carved out their own lucrative fiefdoms within the family business: Jeff Soffer running Miami Beach’s largest resort, the Fontainebleau, an oceanfront hotel with its own casino ambitions; and Jackie Soffer running the county’s largest shopping destination, the Aventura Mall. During the last decade, the Fontainebleau has paid Tallahassee lobbyists to try and expand gambling in Florida and bring a casino to its oceanfront location. In January, news broke that Jeff Soffer was purchasing the Mardi Gras Casino in Hallandale Beach. At the time, Soffer emphasized his purchase of the casino and racetrack was made on his own, separate from his family’s holdings under the Turnberry umbrella. That distinction would become notable in the coming months, when his sister and other developers bid on the Miami Beach hotel project, under rules the city inserted into the deal contract that bans any bidder from also owning a casino in Miami-Dade.


Marco Rubio: No ‘business as usual’ with Saudi Arabia” via Kelsey Tamborrino of POLITICO — Rubio said the U.S. should not continue with “business as usual” in response to Saudi Arabia following the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Rubio did not think Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin should attend an upcoming economic summit in Saudi Arabia. “I don’t think he should go,” the Florida Republican said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I don’t think any of our government officials should be going and pretending as it’s business as usual until we know exactly what’s happened here.” Khashoggi, a Washington Post journalist, has not been seen since entering a Saudi consulate in Turkey earlier this month. Turkey claims Khashoggi was murdered there. Rubio told host Jake Tapper the United States’ response to Khashoggi’s disappearance should be strong, and “not just symbolic.”


Changing the trajectory of tragedy after Hurricane Michael” via the Tallahassee Democrat editorial board — Hurricanes can destroy our literal tents — our homes and businesses. And even our physical lives. But the underlying terror is that they destroy our normalcy, our foundations, our true selves. And compounding the fear is the totally random nature of where these storms strike. Wednesday’s historic hurricane brought awe — of nature’s power and fury, of the destruction that was caused. It also brought an arc of ruin — from the most severe at the storm’s epicenter, Mexico Beach, through areas impacted by storm surge, such as Apalachicola and St. Marks, to inland areas hit with tree-induced power outages. Even in that last category, there were levels of destruction — from the horrible inconvenience of a 95-percent power outage in Tallahassee to the epic destruction of infrastructure in areas to the west, such as Liberty and western Gadsden counties. How do we reconcile this trajectory of tragedy? We don’t.

John Romano: Why is Florida risking future hurricane misery?” via the Tampa Bay Times — No matter what we do, that type of hurricane will leave devastation in its wake. The problem is our leaders get lax. We allow them to be forgetful. It might have begun in 2011 when the Legislature began chipping away at growth management laws. Gov. Scott obliterated the state’s growth management agency and cut funding to Regional Planning Councils. In the name of jobs and development, Florida was rolling back reforms that had been in place since the 1980s and were meant to manage and control the state’s building boom. After that, the Legislature began taking aim at those building codes that supposedly caused housing prices to rise and resulted in too much red tape. That effort culminated in a law passed last year that essentially made Florida a disinterested participant in international building standards. “Florida does have this kind of disaster amnesia,’’ said Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a Washington, D.C., watchdog group.


Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Chris Sprowls selected for fellowships” via Florida Politics — Lt. Gov. Lopez-Cantera and state Rep. Sprowls have been selected for The Aspen Institute-Rodel Fellowships in Public Leadership. The program is “designed to bring together elected officials who have demonstrated an outstanding ability to work responsibly across partisan divisions and bring greater civility to public discourse,” its website says. Lopez-Cantera and Sprowls are both Republicans. “These men and women represent the very best among the new generation of America’s political leadership,” former Congressman Mickey Edwards, the program’s director, said in announcing the new class.

Educator uprising: FEA delegates opt for new leadership” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Teachers overthrew sitting leadership for the Florida Education Association this weekend, electing new president Fedrick C. Ingram and a slate of new officers. Ingram previously served as vice president under Joanne McCall, but in May made clear he would run against the sitting president. At the organization’s annual Delegate Assembly in Orlando, the 1,000 assembled voting members elevated him to power. “Be assured that we go forward today as a united union dedicated to the students we serve, and committed to be the strongest of advocates for the remarkable education professionals we represent,” Ingram said after his election. “We will stand up every day for our students, our communities and for our members, who devote their lives to the success of public education.” The moment was also history-making, as Ingram became the first African-American president of the FEA ever.

Florida Education Association elected new leadership, starting with president Fedrick C. Ingram.

Ruth’s List Florida adds to executive committee — The group, which supports pro-abortion rights Democratic women candidates, took on two E.C. members with wide-ranging legal backgrounds: Longtime Orlando resident Brian Anderson, who spent many years as a patent lawyer in Washington, D.C.; and Danielle Cohen Higgins, a native of Miami, who has extensive experience in complex commercial civil litigation, and provides legal services to small businesses and the seriously injured. CEO/President Pamela Goodman said: “Our organization is growing at an unprecedented rate, and it’s not just women who are supporting our mission. Men who are feminists also support our mission. They talk the talk and walk the walk, and they deserve a seat at the leadership table of an organization they support.” Ruth’s List Florida recruits and helps pro-abortion rights Democratic women to run for public office in Tallahassee, in county commission and city council races, and for other key positions around the state.

New and renewed lobbying registrations:

Brian Ballard, Brad Burleson, Ballard Partners: 3M Company

Yolanda Jackson, Becker & Poliakoff: The Toney Watkins Company

Tracy Mayernick, The Mayernick Group: Kalkomey Enterprises

— ALOE —

What Frank Tsamoutales is reading — “Harris to merge with L3 in all-stock deal, creating U.S. defense giant with $34 billion market value” via Reuters — The deal is the latest example of how increased defense spending under Trump and the Republican-led Congress is driving contractors to pursue mergers so they have more scale to bid on bigger projects, spanning everything from upgrading outdated computer systems to space exploration. The all-stock deal values L3 at $15.7 billion, slightly above its market capitalization as of the end of trading Friday of $15.3 billion. The deal creates a military communications and defense electronics conglomerate with a market value of about $34 billion. The combined company, L3 Harris Technologies, Inc., will be the sixth largest defense company in the United States and a top 10 defense company globally, with approximately 48,000 employees and customers in over 100 countries, the companies said.

Plans filed for two more hotels at Flamingo Crossings near Disney World” via John Gregory of Orlando Rising — According to plans filed with Orange County on Oct. 10, a new project would build a pair of hotels on 18 acres of land south of the current development in Winter Garden. These hotels — an eight-story, 173-room Holiday Inn and a 148-room Hyatt House — would be in addition to the two hotels already open on the property and the four announced earlier this year. Orange Lake Country Club Inc., which controls the Holiday Inn Club Vacations brand, is listed as the owner of the property. Orlando-based Metro Architecture Partnership will be the architect on the project.

As many as seven hotels are planned at Disney’s new Flamingo Crossing development.

What Paul Bradshaw is reading — “Cherry Street Pier debuts this weekend” via — The Cherry Street Pier in Philadelphia is reopening as the city’s newest park. The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation spent $5 million to transform the dilapidated shipping dock into a partially-covered public space with art installations, food vendors, a beer garden, and a performance space … The park has permanently installed 14 stacked shipping containers that have been converted into artist studios. Each has a large, plate-glass window, allowing passers-by to peer in on the resident artists at work.

Carlos Guillermo Smith gets engaged at Orlando Pride” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — State Rep. Smith, an Orlando Democrat, accepted an onstage engagement proposal from longtime partner Jerick Mediavilla at Orlando Come Out With Pride. Smith, Florida’s first gay Latino member of the Florida Legislature, was on stage for the annual Pride Rally at Lake Eola Park on Saturday evening when Mediavilla surprised him by getting on one knee and popping the question. The proposal took place in the Walt Disney Amphitheater, a landmark painted in the colors of the Rainbow Flag.

State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith accepts an onstage engagement proposal Saturday from longtime partner Jerick Mediavilla at Orlando Come Out With Pride.

Happy birthday belatedly to Slater’s much-better-half, Sara Bayliss, Stephanie Rosendorf, state Sen. Lauren Book, state Rep. Shevrin Jones, and former Rep. Jimmie Smith. Celebrating today is our friend Adam Corey, as well as the world-is-his-oyster-he’s-that-good Cesar Fernandez.



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