The Perfect Enemy | Rick Scott tries to explain what went wrong for the GOP
December 9, 2022

Rick Scott tries to explain what went wrong for the GOP

Rick Scott tries to explain what went wrong for the GOP  POLITICO

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 Hello and welcome to Monday.

Remember this? On the eve of the election, Florida Sen. Rick Scott, who was leading the campaign arm of Senate Republicans, went on Fox News and flatly predicted that the GOP would win control of the Senate and wind up with “at least 52” seats. “I think we’re going to get 52-plus,” Scott said.

Everything is awesome Scott added that Republicans had “great candidates” and that those candidates had a “great message” and the “energy on our side is unbelievable.” He also said that “we defined the Democrats early and it paid off,” an apparent reference to the National Republican Senatorial Committee spending money early on television ads.

Recalibration — What a difference a few days makes. By Friday evening, Scott told Fox’s Sean Hannity that the election was a “complete disappointment.” He was back on Fox on Sunday — right after Democrats won Arizona and Nevada, and held onto the Senate — where he was now throwing jabs at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, contending that Republicans lost “because we didn’t have a plan.”

What he didn’t say Of course, there have been a lot of others pointing fingers at former President Donald Trump as well as at some of the GOP candidates that wound up running. Let’s not forget that Scott refused to take sides in primaries and himself was criticized earlier this year for his stewardship of the NRSC. Scott’s decision to release his own “Rescue America” plan also did not go over well with some of his colleagues, especially after President Joe Biden used it to hammer Republicans.

This merits a promotion? Amid all of this, Scott — who was poised to announce a leadership challenge to McConnell last week, only to pull back amid Tuesday’s disappointing results — is part of a group (including fellow Sen. Marco Rubio, in a move that was a tad surprising) that now wants a delay in this week’s scheduled leadership elections until after the Georgia runoff. Scott himself on Sunday sounded as if he still serious about running by saying “I’m not going to take anything off the table.” Multiple reports suggest McConnell would still win, which could place both of Florida’s senators in a somewhat awkward position the next two years. But away we go.

— WHERE’S RON? — Nothing official announced for Gov. DeSantis.

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CAMPAIGN MODE

BLAME GAME — GOP finger-pointing in every direction as party absorbs election losses, by POLITICO’s Marianne LeVine: Some of the GOP’s key figures took to the news shows to defend their own performances and blame others for their failure to flip control of the Senate despite historical political advantages. Some cited too much focus on past grievances, an implicit jab at former President Donald Trump and GOP candidate quality. Others including Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), who led the GOP campaign arm, suggested it was the fault of Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for pinning GOP hopes on President Joe Biden’s unpopularity, rather than putting forward an affirmative agenda.

— “Rick Scott is still open to taking Mitch McConnell’s job,” by Florida Politics’ A.G. Gancarski

— “Rubio calls for delay in Senate GOP leadership elections, in apparent swipe at McConnell,” by Fox News’ Tyler Olson and Kelly Phares

LINING UP— “Republican rivals start plotting a post-Trump future,” by Washington Post’s Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey and Michael Scherer: “Sarah Longwell, an anti-Trump GOP strategist who has been conducting regular focus groups with Republican voters, said the challenge DeSantis and others face is dispatching a former president who is still popular with huge swaths of the party. When she conducted focus groups of Republicans earlier this year, as House hearings on the Jan. 6 attack dominated the news, she said most would-be voters still didn’t plan to abandon Trump — but did show a newfound willingness to consider other candidates. ‘The tough thing for DeSantis is the voters talk about how DeSantis is like Trump,’ Longwell said.”

— “Fox News faces post-midterm choice between Trump, DeSantis,” by The Hill’s Dominick Mastrangelo

— “Trump blame continues for midterm losses as ex-president readies to announce bid,” by Washington Post’s Patrick Marley, Amy B. Wang and Steven Zeitchik

— “Biden eagerly watches as Trump flails at DeSantis,” by The Hill’s Amie Parnes and Brett Samuels

GETTING IN — “Pro-DeSantis presidential super PAC will launch after all, given Trump-supported midterm losses: ‘Ron vs. the Don. I’m here for it,’” by Insider’s Kimberly Leonard: “Plans for a Super PAC supporting a Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis presidential run are back on after a weak showing for former President Donald Trump’s favored candidates. This is a reversal from just a few months ago. GOP strategist John Thomas, who is leading the soon-to-be unveiled super PAC called Ron to the Rescue, told Insider in August that DeSantis should not run for president against Trump. He’d even paused plans for the super PAC this summer after the primaries, in which Trump’s endorsed candidates did well. Trump, apparently pleased, shared the Insider interview on Truth Social. But Thomas, founder and president of the political advertising and strategy group Thomas Partners Strategies, told Insider on Friday that the midterms have reset the calculus.”

WHAT COULD BE COMING — “Trump vs. DeSantis: A simmering rivalry bursts into view,” by The Associated Press’ Steve People and Jill Colvin: “‘The strategy worked in 2016, no doubt about it. The difference now, and I say this with all respect for Ron DeSantis, he’s never entered the ring with a pugilist like Donald Trump,’ said longtime Trump adviser Corey Lewandowski, who ran his 2016 primary campaign. ‘Mike Tyson has an old saying: Everyone had a plan until you get punched in the face.’ The question is whether the insults will land differently when it comes to DeSantis. Among many of Trump’s most loyal backers, DeSantis is seen as a member of the same team. In interviews over the last year at Trump’s rallies and other conservative gatherings, Trump supporters often said they see DeSantis as Trump’s natural successor.”

— “As Trump takes heat, DeSantis rises in GOP ahead of 2024,” by Washington Post’s Hannah Knowles and Tim Craig

‘CAUTIONARY TALE’ — “Florida Latinos catapulted Republicans in the 2022 election. Are they the outliers?” by Miami Herald’s Bianca Padro Ocasio and McClatchy D.C.’s Shirsho Dasgupta: “‘This election proves what Ronald Reagan famously said, that Latinos are Republicans, they just don’t know it,’ [Rep. María Elvira] Salazar said Tuesday at her victory party, declaring an early night win over her Colombian-American opponent, Democrat Annette Taddeo. ‘Until tonight, because 2022 has been the year of the Hispanic Republicans,’ she added. Salazar’s statement is true for Florida, where Hispanic support for Republicans in the 2022 election — and for Gov. Ron DeSantis in particular — was crucial to a decisive and crushing victory over Democrats, according to a Miami Herald analysis of precinct-level results.”

HANDING OUT THE MONEY— Charlie Crist will distribute leftover campaign money to a list of least 20 organizations, including Planned Parenthood Action Fund Florida, Equality Florida, Florida Immigrant Coalition and Florida Rising, according to Crist’s campaign. The campaign, however, could not say how much money would be turned over. The last round of campaign reports showed Crist’s operation only had about $701,000 in the bank four days before the election.

— “Florida Democrats grapple with uncertain future after midterm wipeout,” by The Hill’s Max Greenwood

— “Abortion was supposed to be a defining issue for Florida Democrats. What happened?” by Tampa Bay Times’ Kirby Wilson

— “DeSantis rewrote the political map in Florida. Will the changes be permanent?” by McClatchy D.C.’s Ben Wieder

— “‘A butter knife into a machine gun fight’: Democrats blame Florida blowout on cash woes,” by McClatchy D.C.’s Alex Roarty

— “Blue to Red: Behind the GOP victory in Pinellas, Hillsborough county races,” by Tampa Bay Times’ William March

DATELINE D.C.

NEW MANAGING PARTNER FOR BALLARD— Dan McFaul, who has been with Ballard Partners for five years, has been named managing partner for the prominent lobbying firm’s Washington, D.C., office. “Dan’s extraordinary reputation in D.C. makes him the ideal choice to lead our firm in Washington and continue our growth in the coming years,” said Brian Ballard, the firm’s president and founder. McFaul, who has worked on more than 30 federal, state and local campaigns in the last 20-plus years, also worked for both former Florida Reps. Joe Scarborough and Jeff Miller. He served as chief as staff for Miller when he was in office. McFaul also worked on the transition team for former President Donald Trump.

… DATELINE TALLAHASSEE …

THE AGENDA — Florida Republicans eye further abortion restrictions after big gains in the Legislature, by POLITICO’s Arek Sarkissian: Just days after Republicans won supermajorities in the Florida Legislature, the state Senate is considering stricter abortion limits during the upcoming legislative session. Incoming Florida Senate President Kathleen Passidomo (R-Naples) on Friday said she would support restricting abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy as long as there are exceptions for victims of rape and incest. Florida currently bans the procedure at 15 weeks but allows no exceptions except to save a mother’s life, prevent serious injury or if the fetus has an irregularity that is fatal.

WELL NOW— “Andrew Gillum legal team demands court hearing, citing Donald Trump rant on Ron DeSantis,” by Tallahassee Democrat’s Jeff Burlew: “David Markus and Katherine Miller, who are representing [Andrew] Gillum on federal public corruption charges involving donations to his gubernatorial campaign, didn’t fire back at insults Trump hurled at Tallahassee’s former mayor.- Instead, they cited Trump’s statement in a motion filed Friday in federal court saying it further supported their request for a hearing on whether the federal government selectively prosecuted Gillum because of his race. His lawyers asked for the hearing on Election Day motions that also sought dismissals on all counts.”

NEW LEADERS— Eric Silagy, president and CEO of Florida Power & Light, was chosen last week as the new chair of the Florida Council of 100 while former Sen. George Lemieux, chairman of the board of Gunster law firm, was selected as vice chair. The Florida Council of 100, which was first created in 1961, is an influential private group of Florida business leaders that provides advice to top government leaders in the state. “The growth Florida is experiencing is exciting and presents many opportunities for Floridians, but it also comes with challenges that will require leadership and innovative public policy solutions,” Silagy said.

…HURRICANE HOLE…

AFTERMATH— “‘Astounding damage’ from Nicole reported in Volusia; DeSantis pledges aid to help beaches,’” by The Daytona Beach News-Journal’s Sheldon Gardner: “Officials are still urging people to stay off the coast because conditions are extremely dangerous, with many structures having partially crumbled into the ocean. Even structures that look safe could collapse. Going to the beach or near the beach could be life-threatening, according to Volusia County government.”

ADDING IT UP— “Volusia County releases initial damage estimate from Hurricane Nicole,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Cristóbal Reyes: “Officials in Volusia County are estimating that Hurricane Nicole caused nearly half a billion dollars in damage after the storm made landfall early Thursday morning. Compared to Ian, which caused $377 million in damage along the Volusia coast late September, Nicole cost $481 million just days after the storm passed. More than $370 million of the initial damage comes from Daytona Beach Shores, where oceanfront condos and hotels were evacuated over erosion fears as some properties began collapsing.”

CORONAVIRUS UPDATES

FOR YOUR RADAR— “Florida COVID cases rising again as BQ subvariants of omicron spread,” by Palm Beach Post’s Chris Persaud: “COVID-19 appears to be on a slight upswing once again in Florida as health officials log increasing numbers of cases each week, but few infections are severe. The state’s case count grew by more than 12,000 this week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday. That’s the highest weekly sum since the last week of September, when new omicron subvariants started spreading nationwide, but much lower than the summer surge fueled by previous versions of omicron.”

PENINSULA AND BEYOND

X-FILES — “Sonic booms heard across Florida as secret Space Force spaceplane returns to KSC,” by Florida Today’s Emre Kelly: “A secretive Space Force spaceplane streaked across Florida early Saturday, generating unmistakable sonic booms en route to a landing at Kennedy Space Center that wrapped up another record-breaking mission. Dozens of sonic boom reports surfaced as X-37B, a robotic military spacecraft that looks like a miniature space shuttle, followed an eastern path across the state and eventually landed at KSC’s Launch and Landing Facility. In a statement, the Space Force confirmed touchdown occurred at 5:22 a.m. EST. All told, the 30-foot spaceplane spent 908 days in low-Earth orbit, shattering the previous record of 780 days.”

GONE — “Miami Beach hotel that hosted JFK, Beatles imploded,” by The Associated Press: “A once-luxurious Miami Beach hotel that hosted the Beatles and President John F. Kennedy during its 1960s heyday was imploded Sunday after falling into disrepair and abandonment in recent years. The 17-story Deauville Hotel fell into itself after a series of explosions were set off, sending up a large cloud of dust. The hotel was built in 1957 and Kennedy spoke there to the Young Democrats Convention in 1961. The Beatles performed there in 1964, recording six songs for ‘The Ed Sullivan Show,’ drawing an estimated television audience of 70 million people.”

— “Coast Guard sends 83 Cubans back home after stopping migrant boats,” by Palm Beach Post

— “Disney details plans for cost cuts, layoffs and hiring freeze in memo,” by Wall Street Journal’s Robbie Whelan

— “Shooting at Jones High School football playoff game leaves one dead, another injured,” by Orlando Sentinel’s David Harris and J.C. Carnahan

— “‘What a miracle.’ Miami Beach voters approve $159 million investment in arts and culture,” by Miami Herald’s Amanda Rosa

ODDS, ENDS AND FLORIDA MEN

— “Tiffany Trump weds at Mar-a-Lago,” by The New York Times’ Tammy La Gorce: “The arrival of Hurricane Nicole at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., on Thursday may have paused preparations for the wedding of Tiffany Trump and Michael Boulos, but the ceremony, which took place at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday at the club and private residence of former President Donald J. Trump, went ahead as planned despite the severe weather days before. Toni Breiss, a Lebanese wedding and event planner known for his over-the-top productions, was brought on to realize the couple’s dream wedding. Ms. Trump, 29, was escorted down the aisle before 250 guests by her father, Mr. Trump. The bride wore a custom dress designed by Elie Saab.”

BIRTHDAYS: Former House Speaker Will Weatherford