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Lincoln Project eyes Rubio and DeSantis — Florida AG joins other GOP states in battle over Penn. ballots — Record-breaking hurricane season


Hello and welcome to Tuesday.

The daily rundown — Between Sunday and Monday, the number of Florida coronavirus cases increased by 3,924 (nearly 0.5 percent), to 847,821; active hospitalizations went up 119 (nearly 4.3 percent), to 2,902; deaths rose by 58 (0.3 percent), to 17,179.

Homeward Bound — Rick Wilson just returned to Tallahassee after spending months quarantined in Utah with other members of the Lincoln Project, the super PAC made up of Never Trump Republicans that aimed to be a force during this election cycle. Turns out they’re not done yet and there’s a suite of Donald Trump devotees, like Gov. Ron DeSantis, they can’t stand either.

I am a Rock — Wilson, whose fame rose as a GOP media consultant during the age of Trump, told Playbook “I don’t have a lot of friends in my home state of Florida anymore. And that’s ok.” He adds, “as much as they want to pat themselves on the back for winning Florida, Donald Trump still lost… They lost the White House and that’s all that mattered to us.”

The Boxer — Wilson worked on the Lincoln Project ads that went viral and at times were only intended to provoke the president. So the question is what’s next? Well, the group plans to dive into two runoffs for Senate seats in Georgia, do some work overseas, and then… they eventually plan to turn their attention to Florida and Trump allies such as DeSantis and Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott.

At the Zoo — “As we outlined in our first op-ed, our goal was not just to beat Donald Trump, but to beat Trumpism,” Wilson said. Wilson said he thinks about Florida Republicans who backed Trump “all the time.” “We have a phrase inside the Lincoln Project — you buy the ticket, the you take the ride,” he said. “None of those men covered themselves with glory as independent voices for Florida against Trump”

A Hazy Shade of Winter — Wilson said the group’s plan for Florida will come more into focus next year ahead of the 2022 elections and in the run-up to the 2024 elections: “We’ve got a lot of work to do… The idea of people empowering and enabling and supporting Donald Trump without consequence is sort an anathema to all of us.”

— WHERE’S RON? — Gov. DeSantis is expected to be in Tallahassee.

2024? — “With a Republican Senate up for grabs, Florida’s Rubio and Scott head to Georgia,” by Miami Herald’s Alex Daugherty: “Florida’s two Republican U.S. senators are getting involved in the high-stakes Georgia Senate runoff elections, where a GOP victory could elevate Rick Scott and Marco Rubio’s profiles — and their potential long-term presidential aspirations. Rubio will attend a ‘Save Our Majority’ rally with GOP Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in suburban Atlanta on Wednesday, the first joint appearance of the two Georgia Republican Senate candidates since the Nov. 3 election ended with neither incumbent winning a majority. Perdue will face Democrat Jon Ossoff and Loeffler will try to beat Democrat Raphael Warnock in the Jan. 5 runoffs.”

TO COURT — “GOP-led states back Trump’s legal drive to challenge election,” by POLITICO’s Josh Gerstein and Zach Montellaro: Republican-controlled state governments on Monday began throwing their weight behind President Donald Trump’s legal drive to challenge the results of last week’s presidential election. A coalition of Republican attorneys general filed an amicus brief at the U.S. Supreme Court urging the justices to formally take up and resolve a dispute from Pennsylvania over a ruling that the state’s Supreme Court issued in September granting three extra days for the receipt of mail-in ballots cast in last Tuesday’s election.

Florida’s Moody jumps in Florida’s Republican Attorney General Ashley Moody was among those who jumped into the legal battle over Pennsylvania’s ballots. Lauren Cassedy, a spokeswoman for Moody, defended the decision to wade into the election battle being pushed by Trump supporters: “Florida supports the principle that a state’s legislature, not its courts on the eve of an election, should determine a state’s election laws. It is in Florida’s interest to ensure clarity and finality of future elections.” Yes, but Moody also signed onto a legal brief that stated, “Overwhelming public evidence demonstrates that voting by mail presents unique opportunities for fraud and abuse, opportunities which unscrupulous actors have often exploited.” More than 4.85 million Floridians — including 1.5 million Republicans — voted by mail in the 2020 election.

MEANWHILE — “Mike Pence heading to Florida for some time off,” by Associated Press: “One week after Election Day, Vice President Mike Pence appears ready to take some time off. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, Pence is scheduled to travel to Sanibel Tuesday through Saturday. Pence has vacationed on the island along Florida’s Gulf Coast several times previously.”

LETTING IT SPREAD — “Experts wonder and warn: Is Florida the nation’s test case for COVID-19 herd immunity?” by Miami Herald’s Mary Ellen Klas and Ben Conarck: “Can Florida return to life as normal without containing the spread of the novel coronavirus? The answer from Gov. Ron DeSantis is an emphatic yes. And, whether Floridians know it or not, he is pursuing a policy that will allow the virus to spread freely in the state until most of the population becomes infected — or is vaccinated with a yet-to-be obtained vaccine — while attempting to protect those thought to be most vulnerable.”

BY DESIGN? — “As Covid-19 starts to spike, DeSantis’ orders limit South Florida leaders from taking action to curb virus,” by Sun Sentinel’s Skyler Swisher and Mario Ariza: “Despite warnings that the darkest days of the pandemic could be ahead, Florida is plowing forward with a strategy that jettisons the advice of many public health experts in favor of keeping the state’s tourism-based economy fully open for business. As hospitalizations rise, South Florida leaders — representing the hardest-hit region in the state — will have little flexibility to craft a local response that differs from Gov. Ron DeSantis’ approach. ‘It is very concerning, but there is very little local government can do as it relates to business closures or limiting people’s opportunities to work,’ Palm Beach County Commissioner Gregg Weiss said.”

STRANDED — “COVID-19 travel restrictions at the border keep Canadians away from Southwest Florida,” by Naples Daily News’ Laura Layden: “Amanda and Mark Parlee could have a white Christmas this year. They’re not happy about it. The Canadians usually spend the winter holidays at their second home in sunny Southwest Florida with family, who fly in to visit them in Cape Coral. The couple will break their long-standing tradition this year, however, because of COVID-19, which has led to travel restrictions that will keep them and many other would-be visitors from Canada in their home country — at least for now. ‘We are really itching to get back,’ said Amanda Parlee. ‘But we are kind of stranded.’”

IT’S DIFFERENT HERE — “Republican lawmakers in Florida say mask mandate not likely, despite Biden push,” by Fox 35’s Lara Greenberg: “Governor Ron DeSantis never imposed a statewide mandate in Florida. ‘The fact that Joe Biden calls him is not going to make the governor go, “Oh wow, now let’s do a mandate,”‘ Rep. [Randy] Fine said. Brevard County Commissioner Curt Smith agrees. Brevard County also never imposed a mask mandate.”

— “Florida gas prices hit five-month low amid coronavirus surge concerns,” by Tampa Bay Times’ Malena Carollo

— “Orange hotel tax collection inch up as virus continues to spread,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Stephen Hudak and Ryan Gillespie

LEAVING SOON? — “Florida’s Democratic emergency chief eyes FEMA’s top job,” by POLITICO’s Arek Sarkissian: Florida disaster chief Jared Moskowitz said on Monday that the President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team knows he’s interested in becoming administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Moskowitz, a Democrat and former state lawmaker, was appointed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis to lead the state Division of Emergency Management almost two years ago. Since then he has helped the state draw down more than $2 billion in federal recovery funding for Hurricane Irma, and kept four warehouses filled with pandemic-era supplies. Moskowitz said he would look forward to working with an administration that will include the first woman vice president, California Sen. Kamala Harris. “The fact that this administration broke that glass ceiling, it’d be amazing to be a part of it,” Moskowitz said in an interview. “President-elect Biden has a now 40-plus-year record of fighting for all the issues that I care about.”

CHANGE IS COMING — “Use of helipad at Mar-a-Lago ends with Trump’s term on Jan. 20,” by Palm Beach Daily News’ William Kelly: “For nearly four years, Mar-a-Lago has functioned as the “winter White House” of President Donald Trump. One of the perks of that status was a helipad approved by the town so Marine One could whisk the president in and out of the 17.5-acre estate without jamming traffic. But helicopter trips to and from the helipad at Mar-a-Lago will no longer be permitted come Jan. 20 — the day Trump’s chief executive powers transfer to President Elect Joe Biden. When it approved the 50-foot, 8-inch-deep concrete helipad on the west lawn of ocean-to-lake estate, the Town Council stipulated it was ‘for business relating solely to the office of the president.’ It also said the helipad must be removed once the president leaves office.”

SOAKED — “Tropical Storm Eta flooded South Florida overnight, and the rain isn’t stopping,” by Miami Herald’s Alex Harris: “Tropical Storm Eta moved quickly out of South Florida’s hair on Monday but left widespread flooding in its soggy wake. Across South Florida, residents woke up Monday to flooded roads and yards, overflowing canals and the occasional downed tree. The heaviest swath of rain hit north Miami-Dade and south Broward. According to the National Weather Service’s map, some spots have already seen more than 18 inches of rain. Parts of Miami Gardens and Miramar got 15 inches and more is possible in coming days as the storm moves north in the Gulf of Mexico.”

— “Tropical Storm Eta moves away from Florida, but expected to shift and head back by weekend,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Richard Tribou and Garfield Hylton

— “Lost your power in Tropical Storm Eta? You might not get it back so fast, FPL says,” by Miami Herald’s David J. Neal

RECORD TIME — “The 2020 hurricane season just became the most active in history with Theta,” by Sun Sentinel’s Amber Randall and Victoria Ballard: “A new subtropical storm in the Atlantic made history Monday night. Subtropical Storm Theta is the 29th named storm of the year, making the 2020 hurricane season the busiest on record. Subtropical Storm Eta, which brought record rains to South Florida on Sunday and Monday, brought the season total to 28, a tie with 2005, the year of Hurricanes Wilma and Katrina. Theta is spinning up several hundred miles southwest of the Azores, with top winds of 50 mph. It’s named after the eighth letter of the Greek alphabet, which forecasters turn to when they run out of regular-season names.”

THE REACTION — “Some Latin America leaders welcome Biden victory. For others it’s a moment of reckoning,” by Miami Herald’s Nora Gamez Torres and Jacqueline Charles: “As Haitians watched the agonizing vote counting in the United States last week, the country’s daily, Le Nouvelliste, summed up the mood in the nation’s leadership with a cartoon of President Jovenel Moïse watching a television showing Joe Biden ahead of President Donald Trump in the electoral college. In Creole, a depressed-looking Moïse, who has enjoyed the support of the Trump administration during his own embattled presidency says, ‘Darling, come get the champagne and put it back in the refrigerator.’ The cartoon was one of many that ran in Latin American and Caribbean newspapers and websites, and shared on social media as anxiety mounted in the region over who will be in charge of the United States over the next four years.”

BIRTHDAYS: Mark Herron, attorney with Messer Caparello, P.A. … USA Today’s Alan Gomez

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