Good Sunday morning, and welcome back to “Brunch,” a pop-up newsletter about the 2022 campaign cycle in Florida. Brunch will be delivered each Sunday before the General Election.
⚡ — President Joe Biden tested positive for COVID-19 again Saturday, slightly more than three days after he was cleared to exit coronavirus isolation, the White House said, in a rare case of “rebound” following treatment with an antiviral drug.
Check your tickets — Florida had more Mega Millions “big winners” — defined as those who matched five numbers and those who matched five numbers and played the Megaplier — than any other state, reports the Miami Herald. And Florida had three of the six $2 million winning tickets, which had the five numbers and played the Megaplier, which multiplied the non-jackpot winnings by two.
Happy birthday to our friend Kristen Knapp, the Director of Communications for the Florida Health Care Association. Also celebrating today are Dan McFaul of Ballard Partners and former U.S. Rep and former Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who was recently spotted at the Congressional Baseball Game.
The third season of one of my favorite shows, the gritty “City on a Hill,” premieres tonight at 10 p.m. on Showtime.
— VPOTUS to 305 —
Vice President Kamala Harris is set to visit Miami on Monday, joined by U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell and NOAA administrator Richard Spinrad.
— Climate talks: Harris will receive a briefing and give remarks on climate resiliency at Florida International University.
— Hurricane Season: The Vice President’s visit comes as Florida prepares for hurricane season to intensify — NOAA’s Outlook predicts a 65% chance of an above-normal season. That includes 14-21 named storms, 6-10 hurricanes and 3-6 major hurricanes.
— Rent too high? —
The cost of rent in the state of Florida has grown 40% since Gov. Ron DeSantis took office in 2019, according to Apartment List. That’s a significantly larger bump than the 25% nationwide increase at the same time, but political critics at DeSantis Watch say his donors are more interested in profits than affordability.
— Real estate interest: Between the Friends of Ron DeSantis Committee and the Republican Party of Florida, a reported $18 million in real estate contributions funded DeSantis’ political ambitions. That’s $12,000 a day since the Governor took office.
— Property incline: That’s only stepping up. The entities collected more from real estate in 2022 already than in 2018, ’19 and ’20 combined.
— Development deal: About 28% of donations from the industry come directly from developers, who often made the biggest donations.
— Deed portfolio: A number of the developers also made major investments in the Governor. Developer Pat Neal, for example, gave $365,000. In fact, over a quarter of those who gave $250,000 or more work in the real estate space.
Bottom line: “Rather than taking real action to combat the housing crisis in Florida, the Governor has done nothing but make excuses and divert blame in order to allow his corporate donors to continue to rake in massive profits,” said DeSantis Watch spox Anders Croy. “While your rent continues to skyrocket, make no mistake that Governor Ron DeSantis does not care as long as the campaign contributions keep rolling in.”
— Party forward —
Former U.S. Rep. David Jolly for the past few years looked like a man without a party. Now he’s decided to throw one of his own — and to invite anyone who also feels politically homeless.
— Motley crew: Jolly, former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman and former presidential candidate Andrew Yang announced they would join their independent voices under the Forward party.
— Big tent: Jolly said this isn’t a centrist play in the same cut as, say, the Reform Party. Rather, Forward will welcome anyone seeking common sense policy solutions regardless of meeting any puritan test.
— Neither libertine now green: Jolly doesn’t want any rigid guideposts like those defining third parties like Libertarians or the Green Party. “Both the major and the minor political parties crush independent thought,” he said.
— What White House: Another difference in approach? Too many third parties focus on presidential candidates to define an identity. Jolly wants to build from the ballot bottom up. “You could elect a dozen state legislators for the amount it costs to elect a single member of Congress,” he said.
— A glimmer —
There’s a glimmer of hope for national Democrats in the Midterm Elections, according to an updated election forecast from FiveThirtyEight.
— What’s the word? The red wave isn’t necessarily a myth, but it’s not set in stone, either. FiveThirtyEight says the GOP’s advantage has shrunk considerably since June, when they held a 3-point lead on the generic congressional ballot. Now it’s tied.
— House/Senate split? That’s still a GOP edge when it comes to the House due to the way congressional districts are drawn, but it’s a different story in the Senate. FiveThirtyEight now gives Democrats a 56% chance of maintaining control of the upper chamber, up from 47% on June 30. Republicans still have a five out of six chance of flipping the House.
— Not just a blip: The forecaster said it takes a lot of data to shift the odds in July and that current political issues such as SCOTUS’ decision to overturn Roe v. Wade are starting to show up in polling. Voters say that’s their No. 2 issue after the economy.
— Actually, it may be a blip: No, not statistically, but in reality. The shift toward Democrats has a shaky foundation. If abortion rights zeal doesn’t hold, or the economy gets worse, or if a new deadlier COVID-19 variant rears its head, then all bets are off. Anyone who’s lived through the past couple of years wouldn’t bet against at least one of those scenarios coming to bear.
— What about Florida? Yeah, what about it? The state’s new map is tilted toward the GOP and the few contests that haven’t been decided by cartography are sitting at the outside edge of even the most generous definition of “swing seat.” That’s why Sabato’s Crystal Ball shifted three Florida districts to “safe Republican” last week.
— Head games —
Nikki Fried gets under Ron DeSantis’ skin. Or at least she thinks she does.
— Ticking him off: In a recent interview, the Democratic Agriculture Commissioner and gubernatorial candidate told David Catanese that she knows what makes the Governor tick and how to make him trip.
— As she puts it: “I get under his skin; I’ve been in his head. I know how he operates; I know exactly how he’s going to react to a situation.”
— Her logic: According to Fried, that makes her the ideal candidate to face him in. DeSantis’ popularity numbers are through the roof and his campaign coffers are bursting at the seams. It’s his race to lose, and Fried thinks she can cause a couple of forced errors.
— Not unfounded: She and DeSantis have sparred on many occasions since they both entered statewide office in 2019 and a few times the Governor has pushed policy with the only apparent goal being to spite Fried.
Fried may be right, but whether she’ll get the chance to test her hypothesis is a different question. She’s trailing Primary rival Charlie Crist in fundraising and in most polls of the contest. With three weeks to go until the election, she’ll need to focus on getting under Crist’s skin rather than the Governor’s.
— Bakari boost —
CNN commentator Bakari Sellers, who in 2006 became the youngest Black elected official in history at age 22, joins Democratic gubernatorial candidate Fried for a Day of Action.
— Play for Jax: The progressive pundit will meet with Fried in Jacksonville and rally supporters on Aug. 2. That’s 21 days before the Democratic Primary.
— The right candidate: “This primary sets the stage for one of the most important elections in recent Florida history,” Sellers said. “Nikki is the right person to take on DeSantis, she is the right candidate for this moment.”
— Voting rights: Fried said protecting ballot access will be a focus of the event. “Under the banner of ‘freedom,’ we’ve seen Ron DeSantis strip away our rights, one by one,” she said. “No right has been under attack more than our right to vote. Bakari and I are going to talk about the ways we’re going to expand that right, not limit it.”
>>>Happening today: Crist will start his day Sunday by joining local grassroots supporters in a campaign canvass launch in West Palm Beach, 100 days before the General Election. He’ll follow the canvassing by joining the Boca Delray Democrats for their luncheon in Boca Raton.
>>>Happening today: Luau Luncheon — The Democratic Club of Boca Raton and Delray Beach is hosting a “luau luncheon” this Sunday at Boca Lago Country Club. At the luncheon, the club will honor U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel and state Rep. Kelly Skidmore. Crist is also expected to make an appearance.
>>>Happening tomorrow: Demings in Little Haiti — U.S. Senate candidate Val Demings will tour a Haitian neighborhood center in Miami on Monday afternoon, followed by a meeting with Haitian community leaders.
— Parental advisory —
100 Days: The RNC is hosting a Parents Roundtable on Aug. 1 to mark 100 days until Election Day.
— Pro-parent agenda: The event will feature a roundtable discussion on Florida Republicans’ ‘pro-parent agenda.’
— Who? The discussion will include Rep. Randy Fine, Moms for Liberty National Outreach Director Catalina Stubbe and local leaders.
— The dets: The roundtable will take place at the RNC Jewish American Community Center in Boca Raton at noon.
— Ready to act up —
A poll of Florida’s LGBTQ voters and allies feel energized against persecuting policies. Equality Florida shared findings from its latest survey, including these. Watch for more Monday on Florida Politics.
— Under attack: 71% feel bills — like the so-called “don’t say gay/trans” bill — was designed with attacking LGBTQ people in mind.
— Protecting families: 70% believe legislation signed by Gov. DeSantis will emotionally damage LGBTQ children and parents.
— Done with Ron: 77% hold an unfavorable view of DeSantis, and 67% feel energized to vote in the Midterms.
— CD 13 poll —
Anna Paulina Luna has been seen as the front-runner for the CD 13 Republican nomination for months, but a new poll indicates there may be a close fight after all.
— Luna losing the lead? among likely Republican Primary voters according to an internal poll conducted by the campaign of Primary rival Kevin Hayslett. He was the pick for 34% of those polled, putting him within striking distance.
— Two-person race: According to the poll, Amanda Makki is a distant No. 3 with just 9% support. That’s a third of the 28% of the vote she earned in the 2020 GOP Primary.
— A few steps forward: Though she still holds the lead, Hayslett has gone into high gear in recent weeks. In June, only 37% of voters knew enough about him to have formed an opinion. That number has grown to 72%, with a plus-30 favorability rating.
— Favorables down: It was a backslide for Luna. The new poll pegs her favorability rating at 57-28, a decline from the 57-15 rating she scored in June.
— Don’t count her out: Though Hayslett has gained considerable ground, Luna has some serious firepower backing her campaign. One of her deep pocketed supporters: Club for Growth. The committee has already anted up $139K for an ad buy that launches Wednesday and runs through Aug. 23.
— Winnable? —
A survey from the Floridians for Economic Advancement found state Sen. Annette Taddeo within the margin of error of incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. María Elvira Salazar in what’s expected to be a wave year for the GOP.
— Toplines: The survey of likely General Election voters found 39% supported Salazar, 34% backed Taddeo and 27% were unsure ahead of the November election. The survey’s margin of error of 4.68 percentage points applies to each candidate’s vote share, meaning Taddeo is within striking distance.
— First things first: The newly released survey shows Taddeo has a shot. But first, Taddeo has to get through a Democratic Primary contest. Taddeo is battling former Miami City Commissioner Ken Russell and grassroots candidate Angel Montalvo for the Democratic nomination. Russell and Montalvo were not polled directly against Salazar in the new survey.
— Favorables: The poll did, however, look at favorability ratings for Salazar, Russell and Taddeo. Thirty-nine percent of voters viewed Salazar either strongly favorably or somewhat favorably. A combined 24% viewed her unfavorably, for a net +15 rating. That was the best net rating in the field. Another 20% had no opinion of Salazar, while 17% were unsure.
— Room for improvement? Taddeo had a 25% combined favorable rating and a 20% unfavorable rating, for a net of +5. But she had a lot of room to grow, with 34% of respondents having no opinion and another 22% unsure. Russell earned the same net rating of +5, with 17% favorable and 12% unfavorable. He had even more room for improvement, with 43% of voters having no opinion and 28% unsure.
— Polling details: Floridians for Economic Advancement is a political committee that has supported both Democratic and Republican candidates. The survey sampled 440 likely General Election voters and was conducted online from July 26-29.
— Media buys —
Campaign season is in full swing. Need receipts? AdImpact has them — nearly $1 billion worth. According to the ad buy tracker, candidates and committees nationwide have already booked $985 million in ad time from Aug. 1 through Election Day. As the third-largest state — and one where Republicans are expecting to put a huge dent in the Democratic majority — much of that cash is being spent in the Sunshine State. Here’s a rundown of whose ads you’ll be seeing as you click through the channels this week:
— Duffel bags of cash: Demings has sent plenty of dough to radio stations in the Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, Tallahassee and Tampa media markets. The likely Democratic nominee in the U.S. Senate race spent $159K to blast through speakers tuned to hip-hop and R&B stations starting Monday and continuing through Election Day.
— Taxiing to the runway: Fried is reserving $94K in broadcast time for ads in the Orlando, Tampa, Ft. Myers and Tallahassee media markets. Her ads won’t start hitting TV screens until Aug. 10, but that’s still several days earlier than her previous buys, the most recent of which was set to take off on Aug. 15.
— Hammer time: Republican Mark Lombardo is hammering U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz on TV to make sure Republican voters in CD 1 don’t forget about the sex trafficking allegations levied against the incumbent. The former FedEx exec poured another $22K for broadcast ads that will run this week in the Mobile market.
— Aaron Bean’s ad machine: Bean is chugging along with another $10K in broadcast ads placed in the Republican Primary for CD 4. Ad buy details show the flight will run Tuesday through Sunday in the Jacksonville media market. Meanwhile, the political committee Keep Florida Red has put $25K into cable ads that will run for the same dates on Fox News.
— Hand over fist: TV stations are raking in cash in Central Florida, where CD 7 is one of a couple districts with more than a dozen candidates. Republican Cory Mills gave them their latest payday, dropping $18K to run cable ads in the Orlando market from Saturday through Friday.
— Makki money machine: Amanda Makki pumped $15,000 into cable ads in CD 13, where she’s running in a five-person field to replace exiting U.S. Rep. Crist. Her flight took off Saturday and runs for a week on Fox News and Spectrum Sports.
— Wake me up when August ends —
Gulf anglers may be left wanting in August as the private recreational red snapper season comes to a close today for the time being, while the greater amberjack season gets kicked down the road a month. Meanwhile, hunters have some record-keeping with which to keep up.
— Silver lining: If you want to get out on the Gulf of Mexico for red snapper before the year is out, no worries, as there are weekend seasons set for the weekends of Oct. 8, 15 and 22, along with the three-day weekends beginning Nov. 11, Veterans Day weekend, and Nov. 25, Thanksgiving weekend.
— Jacked up: Amberjack is popular on plates in Gulf restaurants and in Gulf homes, leading to it being overfished and currently undergoing overfishing, according to the latest data from the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council. As a compromise, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) issued an executive order delaying the start of the recreational amberjack season for a month. Instead of Monday, it now starts Sept. 1 and lasts through October.
— New rules: If hunting is more your bag, there’s changes to be aware of there, as well. All wild turkey hunters, even those exempt from licensing, have to log and report to FWC all wild turkeys harvested. That applies to both the fall and spring seasons. The same goes for deer hunters.
— Record-keeping options: After killing the creature in question, the hunter has to log it before moving the carcass and report it within 24 hours. Logging and reporting can be done on the FWC’s Fish|Hunt Florida app, GoOutdoorsFlorida.com or by logging the harvest on paper and calling it in to 888-486-8356.
— Not your father’s training camp —
Teams throughout the National Football League have begun the annual ritual known as training camp. It’s positively civilized today compared to the medieval torture sessions of years gone by.
— New rules: There are strict rules about what coaches can force their players to do. Start with the fact no contact is allowed for the first three days of camp, and after there are two days where players wear helmets and light practice gear. By the sixth day, hey, let’s take a day off! Typically, there are position meetings in the morning followed by a walk-through of plays with little or no contact. Lunch follows, then more meetings, and then an afternoon practice that’s a bit more strenuous. But don’t any of you defensive dare hit the quarterback. He’s the guy with the red jersey and he makes a lot more money than you.
— The way we were: Coaches from 30 or 40 years ago wouldn’t recognize training camp today. When Ray Perkins took over as head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1987, he instituted mandatory three-a-day practices in full pads. Florida gets a little toasty in July and August, but Perkins drove his team relentlessly. They finished that season 4-11-1. The legendary Vince Lombardi put his Green Bay Packers through an exhaustive series of drills the players called up-downs. They would run in place until Lombardi blew a whistle, drop to the grass, then immediately hop back up. They would do that about a hundred times if Lombardi was in a bad mood. What that had to do with football was anyone’s guess, but the Packers won five NFL titles in Lombardi’s nine years in charge.
— You better be there: Today, players shouldn’t even think about skipping out of training camp. The NFL allows a fine of up to $50,000 per day for any player failing to report without an excuse. To put that into perspective, Hall of Fame Packers guard Jerry Kramer made $27,500 for the season when Green Bay won its third consecutive NFL title in 1967.
— What’s going on? Florida’s three NFL teams have been busy. The Bucs are scrambling to replace Pro Bowl center Ryan Jensen, who suffered a serious knee injury. On a positive note, Coach Todd Bowles likes what he sees from receiver Russell Gage, signed as a free agent from Atlanta. “Gage has really been the one to stand out,” Bowles said. “I don’t think we’ve covered him yet.” In Miami, all eyes are on quarterback Tua Tagovaiola. So far, so good. “He knows what he’s talking about when he’s saying it. He’s very knowledgeable of the playbook, and you can definitely tell the intensity once you’re in the huddle,” receiver Cedrick Wilson, Jr. said. “Once you’re lining up, you know he’s going to get his job done, so you better get yours done.” And in Jacksonville, receiver Christian Kirk, signed as a free agent from Arizona, wasted no time in making a positive impact. “He’s a silent leader,” Head Coach Doug Pederson said. “I don’t think he missed a day in the offseason. His attention to detail is unbelievable, his work ethic. How he and (quarterback) Trevor (Lawrence) communicate is something that for a young quarterback and a veteran receiver, you would think these guys have been together for a couple of years.”
— Brunching out —
A Florida State University graduate, Carla Reid opened Black Dog Cafe 25 years ago in Lake Ella, naming the cozy nook after her cocker spaniel Faydris.
— Setting: The geese are honking; the view is of tranquil Lake Ella and the aroma is of fresh-brewed coffee. It’s no wonder regulars have been coming to this spot for years to gather with friends, often with their canine companions at their side. Inside, the shop is small and funky, with a play area for kids, shelves of board games and a board covered with flyers. Outdoor seating had been limited due to the whims of the weather, but the deck has been rebuilt and Reid added a roof, “which has been a dream for a long time,” she said. New landscaping is another improvement.
— The menu: The cafe is primarily a coffee shop, but Reid offers a limited menu that features vegan muffins, vegan curry lentil and sweet potato black bean hand pies and cakes made by the local Three Sons Bakery along with maamouls made with Israeli dates and walnuts made by the Artzis, who own Pita Queen. The cafe serves delectable bagel melts — pesto, tomato and provolone or Canadian bacon and cheese — and croissants. Allow about 15-20 minutes for the melts and croissants. There’s also homemade hummus. For a quick snack to start the day, we paired delicious carrot bran and blueberry muffins with a cup of coffee. You’ll find fresh lemonade and several coffee concoctions, including The Honey Bee latte, made with the cafe’s own honey, and fun combos like The Crazy Cat Lady brew.