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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 9.6.22


Good Tuesday morning.

How ’bout them Noles?

A close one: ‘It’s determination. It’s heart,’ FSU head coach Mike Norvell said describing the win. ‘It’s a willingness that, even after a disappointing moment, our guys responded.’ Image via AP.

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Longtime federal and state legislative senior staffer Omar Raschid is joining the team at lobbying firm Johnston & Stewart Government Strategies.

Raschid joins Jeff Johnston, Amanda Stewart and Anita Berry at the Tampa-headquartered firm, though he will be based in Tallahassee to expand the firm’s year-round presence in the Capital City.

“Omar’s relationships and understanding of the inner workings of the highest levels of government will be invaluable to our firm. He spent nearly a decade in Washington, D.C. government where he specialized in international affairs, and almost another decade in the Florida Legislature, where his focus was external affairs,” Johnston said. “In the latter, he worked hand in hand with Gov. (Ron) DeSantis’ office, our state agencies, and the U.S. Congress, not to mention his extensive work over the years with our state legislators and staff. He’s got it all.”

Congrats: Omar Raschid moves from longtime legislative staffer to the newest member of Johnson & Stewart.

Raschid comes to the firm from the Office of House Speaker Chris Sprowls, where he served as Deputy Chief of Staff for External Affairs. Before moving to Tallahassee, Raschid worked nine years in Washington, where he served in a variety of roles, including as Legislative Director to U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross and Chief of Staff to U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho.

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The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida has named Tiffani Lennon as the organization’s new Executive Director.

Lennon brings more than 25 years of experience in nonprofit and executive management to the ACLU of Florida. Lennon joins the organization as it continues to challenge recent legislation it claims attacks the rights of free speech, voting, abortion and LGBTQ individuals.

“I am honored to join the ACLU at this pivotal time in our history,” Lennon said in a statement. “We will work to bring about the change that Florida and our country desperately need. My family and I look forward to calling Florida home.”

Welcome to Florida, Tiffani Lennon.

Lennon most recently served as the executive director of the Colorado Center for Law and Policy (CCLP). Her educational background includes a Master of Laws in international finance and economic law from the University of London Birkbeck College of Law, juris doctor from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, and a bachelor’s in education and psychology from Rider University.

Lennon will become Executive Director on Sept. 12. She will replace Amy Turkel, who has served as interim executive director since January.
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The Red Hills Strategies team has expanded to five members with the recent hire of Abigail Mainor as project coordinator.

“Strategic communications requires strong skills, a wide range of capabilities and the capacity to deliver high-quality work in a timely manner. In bringing on Abigail Mainor, we’re adding more talent and greater bandwidth to the Red Hills Strategies team so we can continue to design and deliver effective campaigns,” said Amanda Bevis, who founded the communications firm four years ago.

Congrats also to Abigail Mainor, the latest addition to the expanding Red Hills Strategies.

In her new role as project coordinator, Mainor will write on behalf of clients, track and report media coverage and analyze social content.

Before joining Red Hills Strategies, Mainor interned for elected officials in Florida and in Washington, including former state Rep. Mel Ponder and U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster.

Mainor joins Bevis, along with Brittany Morgan Clark, Julie Fazekas and Madison Dorval.

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🎰 — People bet on everything from horse races to death pools, but elections are a no-go. That may change soon if federal regulators approve a proposal from Kalshi Inc., which already operates prediction markets on things such as climate change and moon landings.

⚠️ — Recent upset elections in Alaska and New York show a red wave isn’t guaranteed. The odds are still in their favor, according to Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight, but the possibility of an “asterisk election” is growing … especially if Donald Trump remains front and center.

👩 — Here’s another reason for Republicans to worry: Women are fired up to vote. It’s been a few months since Roe v. Wade was overturned, and Tom Bonier writes that women are still registering to vote in record numbers nationwide. So much so that he recommends throwing “old political assumptions out of the window.”

🦠 — COVID-19 is still lingering, but another fall surge isn’t likely according to Joel Achenbach and Lena Sun of The Washington Post. Still, a new variant could mix things up and lead to another wave of infections in the ongoing pandemic.

🤪 — There are many crazy conspiracy theories about the 2020 Election. Where are they coming from? A new research paper in the Journal of Online Trust & Safety doesn’t directly answer the question, but it found that users with election doubts were more likely to be directed to conspiratorial content on social networks and on YouTube.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@GovRonDeSantis: This Labor Day, I am glad Florida protected the right of all Floridians to earn a living when many other states did not. Florida has more people employed than prior to the pandemic!

@MarcACaputo: Just got a second source here: DeSantis not only is confirmed for @CBS12’s debate, he did it BEFORE today. So, if you’re trusting any blogger tweeting today about DeSantis ducking debates, you got played

@BrianBeutler: Not a stretch to say history turned on reporters pretending to believe people like (Marco) Rubio when they pretended to be mad about storage of unclassified info. Now, in a full 180, he pretends *not* to care about storage of HIGHLY classified docs, and the sordid past goes unmentioned.

@DaveTrotter101: It’s coming to a point where Blue MAGA (in a sense) is true. It seems as if any form of mild criticism of (Joe) Biden is met with a cult-like rejection. Dems are starting to form a ‘Dear Leader’ syndrome around the man. Independent thought in Democratic politics is dying.

@MichelleObama: Congrats on an amazing career, @SerenaWilliams! How lucky were we to be able to watch a young girl from Compton grow up to become one of the greatest athletes of all time. I’m proud of you, my friend — and I can’t wait to see the lives you continue to transform with your talents.

— DAYS UNTIL —

NFL Opening Night: LA Rams vs. Buffalo Bills — 2; 2022 Emmys — 6; JMI’s 2022 Tech & Innovation Summit begins — 9; final season of ‘Atlanta’ begins — 9; ‘Andor’ premieres on Disney+ — 15; vote-by-mail mailing deadline for General Election — 23; deadline to register for General Election — 35; 22-23 NHL season begins — 35; ‘Before You Vote’ TV debates (Senate) — 42; ‘Before You Vote’ TV debates (Governor) — 44; Taylor Swift’s ‘Midnights’ release — 45; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 48; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 49; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 49; Early voting begins for General Election — 53; 2022 General Election — 63; ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ premieres — 66; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 66; FITCon 2022 begins — 72; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 72; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 76; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 76; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 85; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 85; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 91; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 101; Bruce Springsteen launches his 2023 tour in Tampa — 148; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 164; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 182; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 199; American Association of Political Consultants Pollies’ 23 conference begins — 224; 2023 Session Sine Die — 241; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 241; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 269; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 318; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 423; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 437; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 570; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 689; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 689; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 794; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 972.

— TOP STORY —

How a record cash haul vanished for Senate Republicans” via Shane Goldmacher of The New York Times — It was early 2021, and Sen. Rick Scott, the new chair of the Senate Republican campaign arm had a mind to modernize the place. By the summer of 2021, Scott was boasting about “historic investments in digital fundraising that are already paying dividends.”

By the end of July, the committee had collected a record $181.5 million — but had already spent more than 95% of what it had brought in. The Republican group entered August with just $23.2 million on hand, less than half what the Senate Democratic committee had ahead of the final intense phase of the Midterm Elections.

Now top Republicans are beginning to ask: Where did all the money go?

So, what happened to all that money, Rick Scott? Image via AP.

The answer, chiefly, is that Scott’s enormous gamble on finding new online donors has been a costly financial flop in 2022. Today, the NRSC is raising less than before Scott’s digital splurge.

The committee had squeezed donors with hyperaggressive new tactics. And all the money coming in obscured just how much the committee was spending advertising for donors. Then inflation sapped online giving for Republicans nationwide. And the money that had rolled in came at an ethical price.

One fundraising scheme used by the Senate committee, which has not previously been disclosed, involved sending estimated millions of text messages that asked provocative questions — “Should Biden resign?” — followed by a request for cash: “Reply YES to donate.” Those who replied “YES” had their donation processed immediately, though the text did not reveal in advance where the money was going.

Privately, some Republicans complained the tactic was exploitative.

Tweet, tweet:


— DESANTIS V. CRIST —

Ron DeSantis denounces ‘American Nero’ Joe Biden” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis is responding to Biden‘s speech on the “soul” of the nation, describing the President as “the American Nero” and a “failed leader” in fresh comments this weekend. “I thought it was one of the most disgusting speeches an American President has ever given. He ran as being a unifier, and he’s basically saying to the vast majority of the country that disapproves of him that they’re effectively a threat to the public.” DeSantis made the comments during Fox News Channel’s Ingraham Angle. “He dodders. He lashes out,” DeSantis lamented, before offering descriptions of Biden’s policies that have “left wreckage in his wake.”

Tweet, tweet:

Charlie Crist slams DeSantis for declining invite to ‘Before You Vote’ debate” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Crist is slamming DeSantis for declining to participate in an upcoming debate. The “Before You Vote” debate series is the longest running in Florida history, and this year’s is expected to draw national attention. DeSantis took part in the same debate during the 2018 gubernatorial race. Florida Politics’ Peter Schorsch first reported that DeSantis would not be participating in the Oct. 20 debate in a tweet. Soon after reporting on DeSantis’ decline to take part in the “Before You Vote” debate, news broke that the Governor’s campaign has accepted an Oct. 12 debate against Crist hosted by CBS 12, meaning the two should have at least one debate before the November Election.

On Labor Day, Crist demands DeSantis get to work on Citizens Insurance fix” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Crist contends DeSantis is “unfit to lead” the state’s increasingly wobbly property insurance market, challenging the Governor to reverse price hikes rolled out by Citizens Insurance. Citizens is the state insurer of last resort that has absorbed policies in the wake of private companies abandoning the state of late. “Ron DeSantis is unfit to lead our state during the property insurance crisis he created,” Crist said. “After DeSantis doubled property insurance rates, hundreds of thousands of Floridians have nowhere else to turn but Citizens. Now, he’s raising those rates, too!” An email from Crist’s campaign highlighted a WPTV report that noted an average rate hike for Citizens customers of 6.4%, with yearly hikes scheduled through 2026.

New Crist radio ad: DeSantis wants to bus new Cuban arrivals to Delaware” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Crist’s gubernatorial campaign is sinking six figures into airing a Spanish radio ad with an audio clip of the Governor’s No. 2 saying her boss plans to ship illegal Cuban migrants to Delaware, the home state of Biden. It’s going to air in the Miami market, undoubtedly aimed at shocking the area’s Cuban community, many who arrived in this country when fleeing Cubans were given automatic special consideration ahead of other immigrants. The clip, from 1040 AM Actualidad Radio, is an interview with Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez in which she’s asked about the historic number of Cubans coming to South Florida in recent months and what the state plans to do.

To listen to the ad, please click on the image below:

Assignment editors — Crist, running mate Karla Hernández, and Congressional candidate Maxwell Frost hold a news conference to announce a new campaign initiative: 4:15 p.m., Orlando. Location upon RSVP at [email protected]. This event will also be livestreamed via Facebook and Twitter.

One way DeSantis can attack Crist on his stellar environmental record” via Craig Pittman of Florida Phoenix — Here’s my proposal: The DeSantis campaign makes a major ad buy in all the markets. The ad portrays just how awful Scott was for Florida’s environment. Spell out how he messed up this special place. Even mention how he was behind a push to build golf courses in the state parks. Then comes the punchline. You flash on the screen one of those artificially darkened portraits that make politicians look like they’re on a wanted poster as the announcer says: “This was all Charlie Crist’s fault. If not for him, Rick Scott would NEVER have been in charge. Crist had a job to do. Instead, he went chasing after some other prize. You can’t trust him.”

Crist drops teaser trailer for film and TV incentive plan” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Crist hopes to bring back the entertainment industry to the state after he says Florida has lost out on $1.5 billion in revenue from the film and TV industry under DeSantis. The candidate is calling the plan “Entertainment Florida,” which hopes to diversify and strengthen the state economy. In doing so, he hopes to bring hundreds of thousands of production jobs to the Sunshine State. “Florida’s once iconic film and television production industry has been decimated under Ron DeSantis’s failed leadership,” Crist said. Florida was the No. 3 state for film production more than a decade ago. Now, the Sunshine State isn’t even in the top 20.

Florida GOP spends $481K on DeSantis ads — The Republican Party of Florida has spent $480,975 on a broadcast ad flight supporting DeSantis’ re-election campaign. According to AdImpact, the ads will air in four media markets, with $198,309 heading to Jacksonville, $180,499 to Ft. Myers, $52,740 to Tampa and $49,424 to Panama City. The campaign begins Sept. 27 and lasts through Election Day.

Crist raises over $3M in days since Primary Election” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Crist raised more than $3 million in just over a week since the Democratic Primary, his campaign announced. The fundraising breaks his earlier campaign record. The Democratic nominee’s nine-day haul comes from over 24,000 supporters, with over 95% support from small-dollar donors who gave $250 or less. But he’ll need to keep up the momentum to compete with DeSantis. DeSantis holds more than $10 million in the bank for his candidate account and controls another nearly $120 million with a committee.

— 2022 —

Val Demings, Democrats target Marco Rubio’s anti-abortion stance to knock him out in November” via James Call of the Northwest Florida Daily News — Abortion rights have emerged as a flash point in the U.S. Senate race between Sen. Rubio and U.S. Rep. Demings. Democratic candidates across the nation have seized abortion rights as their banner for the Midterm Elections with the hope that voter anger over the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade will drive angry Democratic voters to the polls in November. In the wake of the high court’s decision, Democrats have pledged to codify abortion rights as federal law if they keep control of Congress and are organizing voter registration drives around the contentious issue, while many Republican-dominated state legislatures across the country are moving to ban the procedure.

Rubio insists it’s Demings whose views on abortion are extreme” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

Abortion moves front and center in the race between Val Demings and Marco Rubio.

Naomi Blemur left with under $1,000 to battle Wilton Simpson’s $1.6M” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Blemur secured the Democratic nomination for Agriculture Commissioner, but that hasn’t delivered her an influx of donations. After winning the Democratic nomination for the statewide office, she raised just under $690 in the days after the Primary vote. As a matter of contrast, Republican nominee Simpson pulled in $15,300 between Aug. 23 and 26, the deadline for the most recent financial reporting. The bottom line, Blemur as of Aug. 26 had just $922 left to spend in her campaign account to Simpson’s $1,634,753.

Jimmy Patronis has massive cash lead over Adam Hattersley in CFO race” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — As the campaign cycle turns to the November General Election after the primaries, Patronis starts out with a large lead in resources over his Democratic opponent, former state Rep. Hattersley. Patronis has nearly $4.5 million cash on hand between his campaign account and his political committee, Treasure Florida, combined. Hattersley didn’t have a Primary opponent and has spent $108,000 as of Aug. 26, state campaign finance records show. He has just $9,000 in his campaign account. The discrepancy in campaign funds is just one obstacle Hattersley must overcome to defeat Patronis.

Maxwell Frost is figuring out how to be Gen Z’s likely first Congressman” via Marianna Sotomayor of The Washington Post — Frost was a relatively unknown name outside of his hometown before last month, when he won a 10-way Democratic Primary against some rivals who had served in office before he was born. He has no political experience and no college degree, but interest in his candidacy, and his personal story, has skyrocketed as pundits openly wonder whether his perspective is a necessary injection of energy for a party that remains largely under the leadership of octogenarians.

Eric Lynn challenges Anna Paulina Luna to series of debates” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Democratic nominee Lynn has challenged opponent Republican Luna to a series of debates as the two race for Florida’s 13th Congressional District. The call for debate comes shortly after Luna won the GOP Primary with 44% of the vote, defeating fellow Republican Kevin Hayslett. According to recent polling, the race is closer than previously expected, as a district that voted for Trump by 7 points in 2020 and for DeSantis by 4 points in 2018. Why so close? The poll sheds some light on why that might be the case, particularly in post-Roe America, which likely will be a topic of interest if the pair debate.

Happening tonight:

Internal poll shows Democrat Alan Cohn within margin of error with Republican Laurel Lee in CD 15” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A poll of Florida’s 15th Congressional District shows Republican Lee with a small lead over Democrat Cohn. Survey results from GQR, a Washington-based research firm, show 47% of voters right now favor Lee, while 44% prefer Cohn. That’s a difference within the poll’s 4.9% margin of error. Moreover, the poll found a number of issues where voters may align with the Democratic candidate. Pollsters found 61% of voters in the district favor abortion rights, for example, including 79% of non-party-affiliated voters.

Assignment editors — The Florida Democratic Party continues its “Radical Ron is Wrong for Florida” tour with U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel and Sens. Lori Berman and Tina Polsky holding an in-person news conference: 1:30 p.m., West Palm Beach. Location upon RSVP at [email protected].

Joy Goff-Marcil demands Jason Brodeur drop out, resign after Joel Greenberg testimony” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Senate District 10 Democratic candidate Rep. Joy GoffMarcil is calling on the Republican incumbent, Sen. Brodeur, to drop his re-election campaign and resign after he was linked to a “ghost candidate” scheme from 2020. That comes after disgraced Seminole County Tax Collector Greenberg told investigators Brodeur “absolutely” knew of the plan to enlist a spoiler candidate to join his 2020 race for the Florida Senate. Brodeur ultimately defeated Democrat Patricia Sigman 50%-48% in Senate District 9, but by a margin greater than the 5,787 votes unaffiliated candidate Jestine Ianotti received in the race.

Peter Vivaldi’s Senate campaign fundraising kickoff draws more than 200” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Republican Senate candidate Vivaldi’s campaign fundraising kickoff in Kissimmee drew almost 250 people, including a few Democratic officeholders, he said. Vivaldi filed to run in a rematch against Democratic Sen. Victor Torres in what is now Senate District 25, covering Osceola County and parts of southern Orange County. Neither Vivaldi nor Torres have been known for fundraising prowess in earlier campaigns. Torres — who has served two terms in the Senate, defeated Vivaldi in the 2016 election, and had served four years in the House before that — has raised about $81,000 for this campaign. Vivaldi had raised just $6,300 by that date, and he will need more to take the district where Democrats have an 18-point advantage.

Daisy Morales files for 2024 grudge match against ouster, Rita Harris” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Freshman Rep. Morales is back in the running for House District 44. But this time, she’s eyeing a 2024 return. The Orlando Democrat lost her first re-election bid last month to Harris, who will represent this district beginning in November after winning the winner-take-all Democratic Primary with 54% of the vote. Morales said donors and voters from across the aisle “expressed their outrage” to the ousted lawmaker that her seat was “being given” to a candidate with no prior legislative experience. Much of the Democratic establishment lined up behind Harris and against Morales, pushing for a more progressive candidate. Morales has been accused of often annoying her party’s leadership with her votes and unreliability on front-line Democratic issues.

Daisy Morales and Rita Harris: A grudge match for 2024?

For your radar — “Raphael Warnock throws to Miami, Fort Lauderdale for help tackling Herschel Walker challenge” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Fresh off a statewide bus tour supporting his re-election bid in Georgia, U.S. Sen. Warnock is hitting South Florida next week for help in tackling Republican former NFL running back Walker in the General Election. Warnock’s Sunshine State sojourn includes two stops. The first, on Sept. 8, will take place at 6:30 p.m. in Miami. The second is at noon on Sept. 9 in Fort Lauderdale. The announced trips to South Florida come days after a new survey showed Walker with a two-point lead over Warnock. The poll by Emerson College, conducted Aug. 28-29, also found Walker had a 50% favorability rating compared to 47% for Warnock.

— STATEWIDE —

First on #FlaPol — “Grand jury report puts four more school districts’ safety procedures under state scrutiny” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — The grand jury report that shook up the Broward County School Board last week also prompted the Florida Department of Education to send letters to four other school districts, warning of failures to follow the state’s school safety requirements. The letters arrived Monday asking superintendents in Broward, Duval, Orange, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties to meet with officials from the FDOE to address items that Tim Hay, director of the Office of Safe Schools said required an in-person meeting due to the “gravity of the issues.” “We have reason to believe that some of the policies and actions the grand jury found are ongoing and require immediate action,” all five letters say.

More school districts are under fire for their lackluster safety protocols.

After a grand jury report blasted Broward schools over campus safety, the state wants answers via Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Flashback >>>The DeSantis drafts: Records reveal DeSantis’ plans to strengthen his grip on state government” via Jason Garcia of Seeking Rents

Florida let them vote. Then DeSantis’s election police arrested them.” via Tim Craig and Lori Rozsa of The Washington Post — Several of those charged said they were led to believe by election officials and voter registration groups that they were eligible to vote as part of Florida’s widely publicized push to restore the voting rights of most felons. Attorneys representing some of those facing prosecution said the state appears to have targeted individuals who made honest mistakes amid a shifting and confusing legal landscape. They are skeptical the cases will hold up in court, noting prosecutors will need to prove those arrested knew they were ineligible.

Voter fraud arrests reveal ‘broken system’ for screening felons, advocates say” via Skyler Swisher of the Orlando Sentinel — Criminal justice advocates are calling out the DeSantis administration for their recent election-fraud arrests of former felons who did not know they were ineligible to vote. Rep. Michael Gottlieb, a Broward County lawyer representing one of the people facing voter fraud charges, argued that rather than pursuing criminal charges, the administration should evaluate its own “shortcomings” that allowed voter registration cards to be issued to ineligible people. DeSantis announced the arrests in mid-August in a display of his new Office of Election Crimes and Security.

Jimmy Patronis draft bill would make banks report IRS interactions” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Phoenix — Florida banks and financial institutions would be required to report to the state all inquiries made to them by the IRS, under a draft bill released by Patronis. He had previously said he would develop legislation to counteract the hiring of 87,000 new IRS agents, part of the new Inflation Reduction Act signed into law by Biden in August. The draft bill is a proposal from Patronis and hasn’t been filed by any lawmaker. If it is filed, lawmakers will likely consider it during the 2023 Legislative Session, which starts March 7.

What Justice Renatha Francis brings to court: unusual backstory, support for DeSantis’ agenda” via Noreen Marcus of FloridaBulldog.org — After Florida Supreme Court Justice Francis is sworn in today, she’s expected to blend into the court’s conservative clique as she embarks on what could become a three-decade career. Francis will have common ground with five of six other justices who collectively pronounce the final word on state law from Florida’s most powerful court. Like her role model U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Francis will probably sign onto opinions others write until she masters arcane statutes and rules, finds her voice, and starts writing opinions of her own.

It’s official: Renatha Francis was sworn in as Florida’s 92nd Supreme Court justice. Image via The Florida Bar.

As house prices rise nationwide, Florida dominates the peak” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Of the top five metro areas across the U.S. that saw single-family house prices skyrocket over the last year, three were in Florida. Of the top 10, Florida accounted for seven. Florida took second, third and fourth place. The area with the second-highest appreciation in July 2021-2022 was the Lakeland-Winter Haven area, where home prices shot up 31.4% year over year. Then comes the Naples-Immokalee-Marco Island area and the North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton market south of Tampa Bay, which had 28.9% and 28.8% upticks, respectively. Other Florida areas topping the NAR’s list included Tampa, which saw a 28% annual increase; Cape Coral and Punta Gorda, whose prices shot up more than 27%; and Ocala, which came close to a 27% uptick.

In Florida, it’s not winter that’s coming. It’s the ocean.” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — Florida’s already in deep with catastrophic weather events likely worsened by the effects of climate change, and with so much coastline and coastal living, Floridians have a large stake in dealing with sea-level rise. High tide-related flooding is recurring on a regular and more frequent basis. Part of addressing nuisance flooding from the effects of climate change is knowing where those spots are. St. Augustine has an online city flood tool, and the same day as the nor’easter that flooded the sea wall, there were 42 flooding incidents reported online around the city. While heavy rains and antiquated stormwater systems are one problem, a lot of coastal flooding comes back to gradual and accelerating sea-level rise. Global mean sea level rose an average of 1.5 millimeters a year from 1900 to 2000, but that’s increased to 3.3 millimeters a year from 2000 to 2021. Similarly, while the global mean sea level rose 6 inches in that century, it’s already increased nearly 3 inches in the last 20 years.

The wait for a Black Florida farmer to obtain a medical marijuana license continues” via Mitch Perry of Spectrum News — John Allen spends most of his time these days working on Black Mule Coffee, a cannabis-infused premium coffee brand that his company recently launched. The state’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use is expected to act on it soon. “You have to secure the land,” he says. “You have to be able to have proof of funds. You have to be able to come up with a ($5 million) performance bond. Audited financials. So, there’s a ton of work that has to go into it and that can easily take you to $500,000 to $1 million just to be in a position to have a winning application.”

— D.C. MATTERS —

Independent voters now tilting toward Democrats in midterm elections” via John McCormick of The Wall Street Journal — Democrats are entering the homestretch before November’s election in better shape than earlier this year, boosted by gains among independent voters, improved views of Biden and higher voting enthusiasm among abortion-rights supporters. Democrats hold a slight edge over Republicans, 47% to 44%, when voters are asked which party they would support in their congressional district if the election were held today, a lead that is within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 2.7 percentage points. Republicans had a five-point advantage in March.

Is the red wave turning blue?

— EPILOGUE TRUMP —

Judge grants Donald Trump bid for special master in document search” via Eric Tucker of The Associated Press — In a legal victory for Trump, a federal judge on Monday granted his request for a special master to review documents seized by the FBI from his Florida home and temporarily halted the Justice Department’s use of the records for investigative purposes. The decision by U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon authorizes an outside legal expert to review the records taken during the Aug. 8 search and to weed out from the rest of the investigation any that might be protected by claims of attorney-client privilege or executive privilege. Some of those records may ultimately be returned to Trump, but the judge put off a ruling on that question.

Donald Trump gets his way, again.

Trump moves to General Election mode with Pennsylvania rally” via Marc Levy and Jill Colvin of The Associated Press — Larry Mitko voted for Trump in 2016. But the Republican from Beaver County in western Pennsylvania says he has no plans to back his party’s nominee for Senate, Dr. Mehmet Oz — “no way, no how.” Mitko’s thinking underscores the political challenges facing Trump and the rest of the Republican Party as the former President shifts to general election mode with a rally Saturday night in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, the first of the fall campaign. While the rally was organized to bolster Oz and Doug Mastriano, the GOP’s hard-line nominee for Governor, it was Trump’s first rally since the FBI’s search of his Mar-a-Lago club, and Trump spent part of the evening railing against it.

Trump is turning Mar-a-Lago raid into cash with endless fundraising emails” via Chris Sommerfeldt and Larry McShane of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A shameless surge of fundraising email appeals from Team Trump, up to a dozen per day, immediately followed the FBI raid on the ex-President’s Mar-a-Lago home, with Trump turning the probe into profit courtesy of his outraged supporters. The first fundraising pitch went out less than two hours after word of the investigation broke on Aug. 8, and the results were instantaneous: More than $1 million was donated on two separate days shortly after the FBI search.

Trump should fill Christians with rage. How come he doesn’t?” via Michael Gerson of The Washington Post — From one perspective, the Christian embrace of populist politics is understandable. The disorienting flux of American ethical norms and the condescension of progressive elites have incited a defensive reaction among many conservative religious people. Leaders in the Republican Party have fed, justified, and exploited conservative Christians’ defensiveness in service to aggressive, reactionary politics. Some religious leaders have fueled the urgency of this agenda with apocalyptic rhetoric.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

Wellness center started after Parkland tragedy gets $600K state funding” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Federal funding has run out for a wellness center opened to heal the trauma from the state’s worst school shooting, but $600,000 from state coffers will ensure Eagles’ Haven stays open as Parkland’s tears continue flowing. Eagles’ Haven Wellness Center opened in 2019, a year after shots rang out in Building 1200 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, leaving 17 dead and 17 others wounded. The center provides workshops and support groups to help support the Coral Springs and Parkland communities. It’s open seven days a week, offering services free of charge.

A wellness center geared toward victims of the Parkland massacre gets state funding.

Miami-Dade aims to turn ‘wasted space’ into vibrant neighborhood via $10B downtown plan” via Andres Viglucci of the Miami Herald — This is the vision: At the western end of downtown Miami, a dense, walkable, transit-centered and family-friendly high-rise district would bloom over eight city blocks. Rents for thousands of apartments would fall within reach of the average Miamian. Children would walk to neighborhood schools, check out books at a new public library and explore Miami’s colorful history at an alluring new museum. Neighbors could gather at a new park, dine and shop nearby, or work out at an up-to-date wellness center.

Red lobster? More like red-handed, FWC says of alleged poachers” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and federal law enforcement investigated two 54-year-old Monroe County men for the better part of a year before arresting both on dozens of charges pertaining to illegally harvesting the spiny lobster, aka the rock lobster. Shane Matthew Sweeting, a commercial lobster diver from Big Pine Key, faces 54 counts of harvesting lobster within 10 yards of artificial habitat, 14 counts each of failure to display air and water identification placards, and three counts of seafood quality control code violations. Key West resident Michael Wayne Kimbler has been charged with 51 counts of harvesting lobster within 10 yards of the artificial habitat.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

DeSantis asks judge to throw out ousted Tampa prosecutor’s bid to get his job back” via Sue Carlton of the Tampa Bay Times — DeSantis is pushing back against ousted Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren’s claim that the Governor violated his free speech rights when he suspended Warren last month. “Mr. Warren had no First Amendment right, as a public official, to declare that he would not perform his duties under Florida law,” DeSantis said in a motion attempting to dismiss Warren’s bid to get his job back. Warren called his suspension a political stunt by a Republican Governor with whom he had clashed and said he had engaged in protected speech under the First Amendment.

Ron DeSantis says the Constitution is not on Andrew Warren’s side.

Nice job, Randy — “Melbourne police call report of sexual assault by transgender student at school ‘unfounded’” via Finch Walker and Bailey Gallion of Florida Today — After a nearly three-week-long investigation, Melbourne Police said in a report finalized on Friday that allegations of a transgender student assaulting a girl in the bathroom at Johnson Middle School were unfounded. Over the course of the investigation, police spoke to administrators at Johnson Middle School, the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, and the Department of Children and Families, all of whom said no reports regarding sexual assaults at the school had been made. Rep. Randy Fine and the parents that police spoke with were unable to give specific information, saying that they had heard the story of the alleged assault from multiple sources, including other parents and an unnamed teacher who did not work at Johnson Middle School.

Pasco schools ban ‘safe space’ stickers that show support for LGBTQ students” via Jeffrey S. Solochek of The Tampa Bay Times — Pasco County Superintendent Kurt Browning instructed employees last week to remove “safe space” stickers from all schools. The rainbow-themed stickers indicate support for LGBTQ students. Teachers often place them on their doors to show they’re LGBTQ-friendly — some of the stickers were paid for by the district with its logo. Browning cited Florida’s recent “parental rights in education” law, which requires school staff to inform parents of any changes to their children’s services or monitoring related to mental, emotional or physical health or well-being. School district spokesperson Steve Hegarty said the “safe space” stickers often carry the perception that children might say things to teachers or other trusted school workers that will not be repeated and didn’t want any “misunderstandings.”

Joel Greenberg told investigators Jason Brodeur knew of spoiler plot, transcript shows” via Jeff Weiner and Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel — Ex-Seminole County Tax Collector Greenberg revealed to state investigators that state Sen. Brodeur “absolutely” knew about a plan to recruit a spoiler candidate for a race he won in 2020. In the jailhouse interview, conducted in June, Greenberg named two other GOP consultants — Eric Foglesong and Ben Paris — who he says also helped conduct the plan meant to siphon votes away from Brodeur’s Democratic opponent. “Brodeur was there, present in the conversation,” he said. A transcript of Greenberg’s interview was released Thursday along with a bevy of other records gathered as part of the state investigation into Jestine Iannotti’s campaign.

Disney rebukes lawsuit over fatal hotel fall” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — Disney is fighting back on a lawsuit filed by the family of a travel agent who died from an alleged fall at a Disney World resort in 2020, calling the case “vague and scattershot.” Disney points to details missing in the lawsuit — including how Jessica Straub died and where the alleged incident took place — as the company recently filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. Straub, of Pennsylvania, died Dec. 22, 2020, from blunt head trauma after falling at a standing height, according to information released earlier by the medical examiner’s office. The medical examiner’s office ruled her death an accident. The lawsuit accused Disney employees of being negligent and the resort of having unsafe conditions.

Disney pushes back on the lawsuit over a woman’s death at its Caribbean Beach Resort. Image via Disney.

I-Drive group launches campaign for Sunshine Corridor passenger rail project” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Orlando and International Drive area businesses are launching a campaign to promote a plan to connect the City Beautiful’s SunRail and Brightline stops with a passenger line. The proposal is to develop the “Sunshine Corridor,” to link SunRail workers’ commuter trains and Brightline’s intercity tourist trains in the corridor and extend train service to some of Orlando’s biggest employment areas. The plan calls to extend rail lines from Orlando International Airport to the International Drive area, with connections to SunRail to tie into other Central Florida counties and to Brightline, to tie into Miami and Tampa.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

Americans for Prosperity brings $2.38 gas to Tallahassee” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — For just one hour, unleaded gas was back below $3 at one Tallahassee gas station last week. Americans for Prosperity (AFP) brought its “True Cost of Washington” campaign to the Marathon gas station on Mahan Drive, with $2.38 displayed on its marquee. More than 100 customers got to pay that price per gallon Wednesday instead of the $3.64 that appeared later in the day. Fiscal conservatives at AFP in April launched the campaign against “wasteful spending” by Congress and the rising costs of many everyday products. This marked the 10th of a dozen total planned stops throughout the state. With the $2.38, AFP wound back time to the third week of January 2021, when that was the average price for a gallon of gas.

AFP-FL takes away a little of the pain at the pump. Image via Twitter.

Wine, women and texts: Bad behavior that got an attorney suspended” via David J. Neal of the Miami Herald — An elected public defender’s alleged drinking and inappropriate behavior in his office with women he shouldn’t have hired, and whom he fired after his own misbehavior, got a Jacksonville attorney suspended by the state Supreme Court. Matt Shirk’s year-long legal timeout begins Sept. 24. Shirk admitted to keeping alcohol in an office decorative globe and providing alcohol to two of the women at the office while it was open, but while they were off work.

— TOP OPINION —

Biden’s ‘American carnage’ speech.” via Byron York of the Washington Examiner — Why did Biden give the speech he gave Thursday night in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia? Was it a 2022 Midterm speech? Was it a 2024 presidential campaign speech? Was he preparing the country for the possible arrest of his predecessor, Trump? What was he doing? The address, called the “Red Setting” speech by some for the weird lighting and iconic photo of Biden speaking with fists raised, appears to have been all the above.

The story behind the speech is the new energy Democrats feel about the coming Midterm Elections. Once resigned to a huge loss, some Democrats now believe the party has a chance to keep control of the House and Senate. For three reasons: 1) a few signs that inflation, while still historically high, might be easing, 2) their belief that they can successfully use the Supreme Court abortion decision against Republicans, and 3) the rising profile of Trump as a factor in congressional races.

No, he did not say the word “inflation.” In fact, he touted his actions, including passing the massive American Rescue Plan, that have actually made inflation worse. But he took credit, lots of credit, for building roads, reducing the price of prescription drugs, promoting green energy, and creating an economy that he said is “stronger than any other advanced nation in the world.”

— OPINIONS —

The media is not ready to defend democracy” via Alex Shephard of The Soapbox — After President Biden delivered a speech Thursday about the threat to democracy posed by Trump and the growing ranks of “MAGA Republicans.” With red lighting illuminating the President, Biden laid out the stakes, saying the upcoming Midterm Elections is nothing less than a “battle for the soul of the nation.” Unsurprisingly, many in the political press were shocked to find such politics in Biden’s speech, with the media characterizing it as an oddly polarizing speech from a President who promotes unity. But, keep in mind, less than two years ago, then-President Trump did everything he could to overturn a lawful and legitimate election — and nearly succeeded. This week, Trump promised those who stormed the Capitol a presidential pardon and an apology from a (presumably GOP-controlled) government.

Washington versus Republican voters” via Rick Scott for The Washington Examiner — In this op-ed, Scott criticizes the Biden administration and Democrat-controlled Congress, blaming the two for inflation and violent crime. In his critique, he promotes Republican candidates running in the Midterms, and slams fellow Republicans who criticize them, calling it “an amazing act of cowardice, and ultimately, it’s treasonous to the conservative cause.” He calls on those who want to “trash-talk” Republican candidates to “pipe down,” saying it’s “not what leaders do.” “Republicans need to be leaders that build up the team and do everything they can to get the entire team over the finish line,” he writes.

DeSantis’ suspension of State Attorney was unconstitutional” via Bob Butterworth and Ellen Freidin of the Sun-Sentinel — The Governor overstepped his authority when he suspended Hillsborough County State Attorney Warren. The pair go on to call the suspension “unconstitutional,” and are confident that Warren’s suspension will be overturned by a federal judge, and he’ll be reinstated as a duly elected official. Butterworth and Freidin, who served on Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission in 1997-1998, go on to write that DeSantis’ action was unprecedented and politically motivated. If what he did was constitutional, then Florida’s elections for state attorney, and potentially all elected officers, would be virtually meaningless.

Abortion isn’t a dirty word in Florida, but DeSantis and the GOP act like it is” via Lizette Alvarez of The Washington Post — “Abortion” is not a dirty word in Florida. Most voters in the state support abortion rights. Florida has one of the highest abortion rates in the country. And clinics here serve as a haven for out-of-state women now barred from getting an abortion by their own state governments. And yet, sometime soon, abortion rights in Florida may face an existential threat. The first battle arrives on Nov. 8 when voters will decide whether to re-elect DeSantis.

We could sell tickets to see Crist vs. Legislature” via Bill Cotterell of the Tallahassee Democrat — If Crist managed to take back the Governor’s mansion in November, how would that shift the relationship between Florida’s executive and its Legislature? With a Democrat taking the role as Governor, and the GOP maintaining its majority in the state Legislature, one could sell tickets to watch the pair go back and forth while managing the state. Gamblers could make bets on how long it will take Crist to veto something sent down from the Capitol, and then start a pool on how long it takes the House and Senate to override his vetoes.

Randi Weingarten flunks the pandemic” via The Wall Street Journal editorial board — The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores for 2022 were released Thursday, and by any standard, they are a calamity. An unprecedented decline in reading and math scores is the first national measure of the damage done by school closures to America’s children. The 2020 NAEP tests were administered shortly before pandemic lockdowns and school closures, so this year’s results provide a snapshot of how students have weathered those two years. It’s not pretty. Average nine-year-old scores declined the most on record in math (seven points) and in reading since 1990 (five points). Two decades of progress have been erased in two years.

— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —

— ALOE —

Orlando’s food scene gets the spotlight during Magical Dining deal” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — For foodies, it’s the season of Magical Dining, the best deal in town as more than 100 restaurants in Central Florida offer $40 three-course prix fixe dinners that support charity. The Visit Orlando-sponsored dining deal runs through Oct. 2 with $1 from every meal going to Able Trust, a Florida organization that helps people with disabilities find employment. Since Magical Dining began, more than $2 million has been raised for good causes.

Orlando offers magical dining for a worthy cause.

Universal puts ‘pedal to the metal’ on Epic Universe project” via Katie Rice of the Orlando Sentinel — Orlando is making progress on its third theme park, Epic Universe. Those passing by can see concrete structures scattered throughout the site, along with steel frames for eventual buildings. The new, 750-acre park may include a Super Nintendo World, or the other, yet-unconfirmed fantasy lands. From the air, drone pilots have captured photos of a roller coaster track. Universal hopes to open the park by summer 2025. This will become Orlando’s first new major theme park since Islands of Adventure opened in 1999. Epic Universe is projected to bring $11 billion in economic impact to Orlando between now and the theme park’s opening.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Celebrating today are former U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, former Rep. Bobby Olszewski, Abel Harding, and Joe Mobley of The Fiorentino Group. Belated happy birthday wishes to Ryan Tyson and Valerie Wickboldt.

___

Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel Dean, Renzo Downey, Jacob Ogles, and Drew Wilson.


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