The Perfect Enemy | Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 6.30.22
October 27, 2023

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 6.30.22

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 6.30.22  Florida Politics

Good Thursday morning.

Welcome to the worldHudson James Heffley arrived last night at 8:01 p.m. to parents Brooke and Drew Heffley (who works for Jim Rimes‘ 30/30). At 8 lbs. 1 oz., Hudson is beautiful and doing great, as is mom, dad and big sister Hayes. “Our hearts have never been so full!” Drew said.

Happy birthday Hudson James Heffley!


Following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, Michelle and I had an in-depth conversation with Sen. Janet Cruz about the wide-ranging impact of the decision in the latest edition of He Said, She Said. We also discuss Cruz’s successes during the 2022 Legislative Session and her re-election campaign in one of Florida’s battleground districts.

Click here to listen.

Another great must-listen podcast episode.


According to an internal poll from Charlie Crist’s campaign, the Aug. 23 Democratic Primary will be less competitive than FSU football’s season opener against the Duquesne Dukes four days later.

The poll from GBAO Strategies shows 55% of likely Primary voters prefer the Democratic Congressman and former Republican Governor, while 34% plan to vote for Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.

Crist’s three-touchdown lead is well outside the pollster’s 4% margin of error. It also shows Crist winning more than a majority of the votes, leaving Fried with no path to victory even if she shuts him out among the 11% of Democrats who remain undecided.

The FSU Football season opener will have more drama than the Democratic Gubernatorial Primary.

Team Fried said the poll was “delusional” and pointed to its own internal poll, released last week, which showed her earning the same 34% share of the vote compared to 38% for Crist.

Though her measure exposed a potential game plan to overtake Crist — namely, raising her name ID and skewering Crist for his past political positions — her campaign and political committee accounts have less in the tank than Duquesne’s booster fund.

With mail ballots shipping out in a few weeks, the campaign also has a month less to prepare.

The new poll shows no wobble, either. Crist’s 20-point-plus lead carries across women, men, liberals, moderates and conservatives. Self-described highly motivated voters are also backing him 58%-34%. In a cruel twist, Fried fares best among lackadaisical voters. And even among them, she trails by nine points.

While Crist appears to have Fried outgunned in every respect, whether the same squad can win a night game in Death Valley is a question for another poll.

—“Fried challenges Crist’s abortion rights stance, but he maintains lead in Democratic primary” via John Kennedy of USA Today-Florida

Assignment editorsCrist will hold a news conference on protecting reproductive freedom in Florida ahead of-the-new-15week abortion ban law set to go into effect, 9:15 a.m., livestreamed on Crist’s Facebook page (@CharlieCrist). RSVP at [email protected].


@vtg2: How is 2022 already halfway through???

Tweet, tweet:

@mjs_DC: It seems the next wave of anti-abortion legislation will focus on gagging reproductive rights advocates by subjecting them to felony charges when they “give information to a pregnant woman … regarding self-administered abortions or the means to obtain an illegal abortion.”

@AGAshleyMoody: Pleased the FSC granted the Gov’s petition to impanel a statewide grand jury. I look forward to our Statewide Prosecutor working w/jurors to investigate matters related to human smuggling, trafficking & the unlawful release of criminals here illegally.

@SenMannyDiazJr: Today @MiamiHerald published a critique of slides that accompany our civics training without rebutting a single fact listed on any of them. The Herald is attacking Florida civics education because they would prefer it to be a vehicle to push their partisan ideology on students.

Tweet, tweet:

@GeorgeHahn: Rough couple of days for sex traffickers. Matt Gaetz next?

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‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 8; 36th Annual Environmental Permitting School — 19; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 20; 2022 Sunshine Summit begins — 22; Beyoncé rolls-out seventh solo studio album ’Renaissance’ — 29; The 10-day Florida Python Challenge kicks off — 36; Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner novel ‘Heat 2’ publishes — 40; FBHA’s annual conference, BHCon2022, begins — 48; FRLA’s Operations and Marketing Summit — 49; ‘House of the Dragon’ premieres on HBO — 52; 2022 Florida Chamber Technology & Innovation Solution Summit — 62; ‘Andor’ premieres on Disney+ — 62; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 64; NFL Opening Night: LA Rams vs. Buffalo Bills — 70; 2022 Emmys — 74; JMI’s 2022 Tech & Innovation Summit begins — 77; 22-23 NHL season begins — 103; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 116; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 117; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 117; ‘Black Panther 2′ premieres — 134; ‘Captain Marvel 2’ premieres — 135; FITCon 2022 begins — 140; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 140; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 144; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 144; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 145; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 153; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 153; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 169; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 232; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 250; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 267; 2023 Session Sine Die — 309; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 309; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 337; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 477; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 638; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 757.


The political strategy of Ron DeSantis’ “Don’t Say Gay’ Bill” via Benjamin Wallace-Wells of The New Yorker — Writing in the Times recently, Nate Hochman of National Review argued that figures like DeSantis, Christopher Rufo, and Tucker Carlson were building a new brand of social conservatism, one that has risen from the ashes of, and materially departed from, the religious themes of a generation ago.

“Instead of an explicitly biblical focus on issues like school prayer, no-fault divorce, and homosexuality, the new coalition is focused on questions of national identity, social integrity, and political alienation,” Hochman wrote. “We are just beginning to see its impact. The anti-critical-race-theory laws, anti-transgender laws and parental rights bills that have swept the country in recent years are the movement’s opening shots.”

Ron DeSantis’ ‘Don’t Say Gall’ law is shrewd politics for a possible 2024 bid.

In American politics, ideology is often a smoke screen for individual ambition. We have movements, but really, we have movers. The situation is especially pronounced in the right-wing of the Republican Party, where the post-Donald Trump chaos has left few permanent factions, and allegiances are being constantly remade. Even the most basic questions were foggy in Florida, including whether this sort of campaign against indoctrination struck most voters, as necessary.

Since there is no evidence to support claims of a widespread surge in sexual abuse in the schools, and since DeSantis and his allies described the problem in such general terms, there wasn’t really anything specific for Democrats to refute. To even argue that claims of grooming were baseless seemed, in some ways, to raise their profile.


After the overturning of Roe, many Republicans want to change the subject” via Michael Scherer of The Washington Post — One day after the Supreme Court ended the American right to abortion, Nevada Senate candidate Adam Laxalt posted a textbook example of how Republicans hope to respond. The digital video showed his opponent, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, speaking to protesters Friday through a bullhorn outside the court. Her voice was muted as words flashed across the screen over a droning wail. “Where was Cortez Masto and her bullhorn when you couldn’t find formula for your baby?” they read. “When gas prices soared past $5/gallon? When Bidenflation hit a 40-year high?” His ad sent the message Republicans in tight races have been trumpeting ever since Friday’s ruling: This election will be decided by other stuff.

To watch the ad, click on the image here:

National Democrats target Florida voters with abortion-themed ad buy” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is launching a new ad targeting Florida voters regarding abortion access. The ad focuses on the prospect of a nationwide abortion ban, kicking off with grainy footage of former Vice President Mike Pence. “We may well be on the verge of an era when the Supreme Court sends Roe v. Wade to the ash heap of history where it belongs,” Pence says. Standing in front of a backdrop with the words “Advancing American Freedom,” he made the statement at a gathering for the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life group.

Rabbi’s suit over Florida abortion law tests bounds of religious objections after Roe” via Michael Wilner of the Miami Herald — “Judaism is in conflict with this law,” Rabbi Barry Silver of Congregation L’Dor Va-Dor said in an interview, explaining that Judaism supports abortions if necessary to protect the health and well-being of the mother. “We’d have to choose between practicing Judaism and this law — and if we go with Judaism, we risk criminal prosecution. I, as a rabbi, if I counsel someone to have an abortion, can be tossed into jail.” Now, having seen the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Silver said he is pursuing the lawsuit that was filed June 10, also in Leon County, with an expanded goal not just of scrapping the Florida law but of serving as a template for others challenging state abortion bans nationwide.

Planned Parenthood is rushing to perform abortions before Florida’s 15-week ban” via Caroline Catherman of the Orlando Sentinel — With less than a week until Florida’s 15-week abortion cutoff is set to take effect, Planned Parenthood clinics are scrambling to provide abortions to desperate women at or past 15 weeks of pregnancy while also fielding calls from patients who are concerned about what the fall of Roe v. Wade means for their future. “The sound of panic in a patient’s voice on the phone right now, it’s just, it’s heartbreaking. And then they ask us why, and I’m like, ‘I don’t know why they’re doing this,’” said Stephanie Fraim, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida.

South Florida clinics seeing influx of women as Florida’s 15-week abortion ban looms” via Alyssa Johnson, Ana Claudia Chacin and Bianca Padró Ocasio of the Miami Herald — The new state law (HB 5), which would go into effect Friday (barring an injunction), bans abortions after 15 weeks and would replace the old law that allowed the procedure until 24. It does allow a person to terminate if the procedure would save their life or prevent serious injury. Most women who seek termination after 15 weeks don’t simply do it because they waited until then … Some women have irregular menstrual cycles, and just did not know they were pregnant until then. Others are minors who were too scared to tell their parents until later in their pregnancies. Some have come from nearby states where the laws are more restrictive and didn’t have the funds to travel earlier.

—“Where do Tampa Bay employers stand on Roe v. Wade? Most won’t say.” via Jay Cridlin of the Tampa Bay Times

Abortion is no longer constitutional right. Americans are afraid Plan B is next.” via Bailey Schulz of USA Today — Right after the draft opinion’s leak, the online prescription company Nurx saw an “unprecedented” 300% spike in requests for emergency contraception, according to CEO Varsha Rao. According to Rao, Friday sales were more than 10 times higher than a typical sales day and remain “quite high.” Nurx lowered the price of its generic Plan B to $14.99 from $20 in response to the Supreme Court’s decision. “That’s a really strong signal for how important patients feel” emergency contraception is, Rao told USA Today. “Patients (are) having concerns about whether access to emergency contraception, contraception in general, are still going to be available to them.”

— 2022 —

Remember him? — “Rudy Giuliani associate Lev Parnas sentenced to 20 months in prison” via Larry Neumeister of The Associated Press — Parnas, an associate of Giuliani who was a figure in President Trump’s first impeachment investigation, was sentenced to a year and eight months in prison for fraud and campaign finance crimes. Parnas, who had helped Giuliani connect with Ukrainian figures as part of a campaign to dig up dirt on President Joe Biden’s son, had sought leniency on the grounds that he’d helped the Congressional probe. But prosecutors said the Soviet-born businessman’s aid was in response to a subpoena and deserved little credit.

Joe Rogan claims DeSantis would be a ‘good President,’ refers to Joe Biden as ‘dead man as President’” via Gabriel Hays of Fox News — During the latest episode of “The Joe Rogan Experience,” host Rogan claimed that DeSantis “would work as a good President.” Rogan spoke with former female UFC fighter and “Star Wars: The Mandalorian” star Gina Carano for his latest interview. Rogan indicated he was thinking similarly to Elon Musk, stating, “Yeah, I think Ron DeSantis would work as a good President. I think, I mean, what he’s done for Florida has been admirable.” Rogan continued, praising the Governor for handling COVID-19 with the media breathing down his neck. “I feel like what he did for Florida, a lot of people gave him a lot of grief, but ultimately he was correct,” he said.

Joe Rogan weighs in on Ron DeSantis compared to ‘dead man’ Joe Biden.

Val Demings is on a mission” via Rita Omokha of Vanity Fair — Demings has been guided by that same earnest self-checking she’s exerted at campaign stops since entering Congress five years ago. She went from upholding the law as a police officer at every rank for 27 years to crafting it, first taking the oath on Jan. 3, 2017—17 days before Trump was sworn in. “I went to his inauguration,” Demings told me. “Even though I didn’t vote for him, he was still our President.” As he governed, she found one of Trump’s shortcomings was that he never understood the oath he took, “our democracy, the Constitution, the rule of law, and therefore, he didn’t protect it, and it showed.” Demings was part of the team responsible for gathering intel for the first Trump trial. While several colleagues submitted their names to Pelosi for an impeachment manager role, Demings didn’t. It wasn’t that she doubted herself or her abilities, far from it. Her “ego is healthy,” she told me.

Demings pumps another $1.3M into TV adsDemings has made another seven-figure ad buy for her U.S. Senate campaign. The flight, placed through AL Media, will pay for ads to air on broadcast and cable June-28-July 4. Of the $1.32 million in new spending, $1.18 million will cover broadcast ads in the Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando, Tallahassee, Tampa, and West Palm Beach markets. The remainder will pay for ads on CNN, ESPN, Hallmark, HGTV, History, MSNBC, TLC, TNT and other networks. To date, Demings has spent $10.5 million on TV ads.

Poll: Race for CD 2 remains close with signs pointing to slight GOP edge” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Of 400 registered and likely voters within the district Sachs Media polled over three days this month, 43% said they support Republican U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn compared to 40% who are backing Democratic U.S. Rep. Al Lawson. The remaining 17% of voters were undecided. The gap is well within the margin of error of plus or minus 5%. Among those who have already decided whom they’ll vote for, 52% sided with Dunn compared to 48% for Lawson. Dunn and Lawson share roughly the same level of name recognition. Sachs found that two-thirds of voters are familiar with Dunn, particularly those in Bay County, where he has lived since 1990. Meanwhile, 62% know of Lawson, especially those in Democratic-heavy Leon County, which includes his hometown of Tallahassee.

Ashley Moody, Jimmy Patronis endorse Aaron Bean for CD 4 — Attorney General Moody and Chief Financial Officer Patronis both backed Bean in the Republican Primary for Florida’s 4th Congressional District. Moody said, “I am proud to stand with Aaron Bean and encourage all Republicans in CD 4 to support sending Aaron to Washington as your next congressman.” Patronis added, “Aaron Bean is a proven leader who has Floridian’s best interests at heart, and I know he will bring our shared strong conservative principles to Washington.” Bean, a term-limited state Senator, is one of three Republicans running for CD 4, which covers portions of Nassau, Clay and Duval counties. However, the district is expected to perform Republican in the General Election.

Aaron Bean gets solid backing.

Disqualified GOP candidate for Central Florida congressional seat sues to get on ballot” via Ryan Gillespie of the Orlando Sentinel — Republican Scotty Moore filed a lawsuit in Leon County Circuit Court this week against Florida Secretary of State Cord Byrd, as well as the supervisors of elections in Orange, Osceola and Polk counties: Bill Cowles, Mary Jane Arrington and Lori Edwards respectively. Moore was disqualified from the CD 9 race after the Florida Department of State said he filed the incorrect “Candidate Oath” form, according to the complaint filed Monday. Moore filed a “Candidate Oath for State and Local Partisan Offices” instead of the similar form for federal candidates. He’s seeking a spot in the race to take on incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto. Other Republicans who qualified are Jose Castillo, Adianis Morales and Sergio Ortiz.

James Judge’s name restored on CD 14 ballot for now” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Judge sued the state last week shortly after the Division of Elections tossed the Tampa Republican from the race to represent Florida’s 14th Congressional District. Elections officials said Judge could not run because he signed a partisan candidate oath for state and local candidates rather than the proper paperwork for federal candidates. Judge had been the apparent front-runner for the Republican nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor in CD 14. But Leon Circuit Judge Angela Dempsey ruled the state’s rules were ambiguous for candidates. She issued an injunction of the Division of Elections decision and ordered Judge’s name to appear on ballots in the CD 14 GOP Primary.

Jerry Torres makes first ad buy in CD 14 — Republican candidate Torres has made an $8,000 ad buy in the race for Florida’s 14th Congressional District. The buy, placed through Political Communications Advertising, will cover radio ads airing June 29-July17 in the Tampa media market. According to AdImpact, the ad buy is Torres’ first of the cycle. He is one of two candidates running for the nomination to challenge U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor in November.

Alan Cohn more confident than ever in chances to win CD 15 for Democrats” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Cohn didn’t win a congressional race in 2020. But he did manage to turn the contest in Florida’s 15th Congressional District into a top-tier contest. After a once-a-decade redistricting process concluded, he feels better than ever about running again. “I wasn’t going to do this unless I believed this is a district that can be won,” he said. Cohn filed last week for the reconfigured CD 15. The district’s westward shift means U.S. Rep. Scott Franklin, who beat Cohn in 2020, will actually run for re-election in Florida’s 18th Congressional District. Notably, parts of the district where Franklin performed the best followed the Republican into CD 18, while many parts of Hillsborough County where Cohn did well remain in the new CD 15.

Pro-Jared Moskowitz PAC drops $70K on CD 23 ad buy — Political committee Moving Broward Forward has made a $70,000 cable buy in Florida’s 23rd Congressional District. The PAC, which is backing Broward County Commissioner Moskowitz, made the buy through AIDEM and will cover a flight running June 29-July 17 across various channels, including BET, Bravo, CNN, ESPN, Fox Sports 1, HGTV, MSNBC and others. According to AdImpact, this is the organization’s first buy of the cycle. Moskowitz is one of six Democrats competing for the nomination in the heavily Democratic Broward-based seat.

Donald Trump endorses Joe Gruters” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Trump is endorsing Sen. Gruters’ re-election in the Florida Senate. “Joe Gruters is delivering tremendous results for the incredible people of Florida!” Trump said in a statement released by his Save America PAC. “A proud fourth generation Sarasotan and small-business owner, Joe is fighting hard to Grow Florida’s Economy, Create Great Jobs, Lower Taxes, Slash Regulations, and Ensure Free, Fair, and Honest Elections. Joe did a wonderful job as Florida State Chair of my 2016 Campaign — he is a MAGA Champion. Joe Gruters has my Complete and Total Endorsement for Florida’s State Senate District 23!” The backing is no surprise as Gruters, one of the earlier backers of Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016.

‘MAGA Champion’ Joe Gruters gets a nod from the big guy himself.

‘A proven, effective leader we can count on’: Fraternal Order of Police backs Lauren Book for re-election” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Book’s re-election campaign in Senate District 35 now has support from a local chapter of the world’s largest police union. The Florida Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), District 5, announced it is backing Book. The district spans Broward, Collier and Hendry counties. “Law enforcement officers look to elected officials for their support and Sen. Book is a proven, effective leader we can count on,” Florida FOP District 5 Director Paul Kempinksi said in a statement. “We are confident she will advocate on behalf of the 24,000 active and retired law enforcement officers across the state.”

—“PBA endorses Elizabeth Fetterhoff over Webster Barnaby” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

—“Fraternal Order of Police backs Webster Barnaby in HD 29” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

—“Rich Santos touts endorsements in HD 36 Republican Primary” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

Carolina Amesty hits airwaves in HD 45 — Republican Amesty released her first TV ad in the GOP Primary for House District 45. The spot asserts the 2022 election is a choice between “Socialism or Free Markets? Illegal Immigration or Secure the Border? Higher taxes or tax cuts? Joe Biden or Ron DeSantis?” It pitches Amesty as the candidate who will “make America Florida.” Amesty is one of five Republicans running for the Central Florida district that covers Walt Disney World, Windermere, part of Winter Garden, Champions Gate, Reunion, and part of the Four Corners area. The district is expected to be competitive in November.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:


SCOFLA grants Gov. DeSantis’ request for grand jury on immigration” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — The Florida Supreme Court has granted DeSantis‘ request to impanel a grand jury on crimes stemming from illegal immigration. The Court ruled Wednesday that there is good and sufficient reason to establish a statewide grand jury to investigate crimes like human and drug trafficking and gang activity. The order comes nearly two weeks after the Republican Governor petitioned for a grand jury to investigate such crimes as he criticized Biden’s “sanctuary federal government.” While the panel will investigate crimes across Florida, the grand jury will draw jurors from the 10th Judicial Circuit, which covers Hardee, Highlands and Polk counties. The grand jury shall meet for 12 months. The grand jury will target a broad swath of crimes. Among those listed are burglary, robbery, kidnapping, prostitution, drug crimes and organized crime.

In briefing Congress, Joseph Ladapo admits state decision could limit vaccine access to kids” via Mary Ellen Klas and Daniel Chang of the Miami Herald/Tampa Bay Times — Florida Surgeon General Ladapo, whose guidance on COVID-19 vaccines and face masks has frequently conflicted with the recommendations of public health agencies and medical academies, presented a defiant defense of his controversial advice while testifying before the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis. Ladapo doubled down on the Florida Department of Health’s official guidance that healthy children younger than 16 are “at little to no risk of severe illness complications from COVID-19” — contrary to recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and advice from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Ladapo repeated his claim that adolescents are at “low risk” from the coronavirus and testified that there is “little data” on whether children benefit from the COVID-19 vaccines.

Tweet, tweet:

—”DeSantis admin fires back at Clyburn after top Dem claims Florida gov ‘made it harder’ to vaccinate kids” via Fox News

Feds will work to supply Florida doctors with COVID-19 vaccines for infants, toddlers” via Daniel Chang of the Miami Herald — As Florida hospitals and doctors roll out the latest FDA-authorized vaccines for children as young as 6 months old, the Biden administration said it will work to supply pediatricians and family physicians in the state who cannot access small quantities of the shots due to DeSantis decision not to provide the vaccines for infants and toddlers through county health departments. In Miami to visit Borinquen Health Care Center, a federally funded clinic, Admiral Rachel Levine, the assistant secretary for health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said Tuesday that as of last week, Florida medical providers had ordered 20,000 doses of the new vaccine for children younger than 5.

UF Health Jacksonville not offering COVID-19 vaccines to children under 5 years old” via Katie Delk of The Gainesville Sun — The University of Florida Health Jacksonville location says it will not be offering vaccines to children under 5 years old, despite being given the green light from the Food and Drug Administration. In an email, UF Health Jacksonville notified parents: “Due to many factors, UF Health Family Medicine and Pediatric locations will not be administering the vaccine.” Officials say that’s because the Jacksonville location isn’t designated a children’s program and doesn’t have the same demand for vaccines as the Gainesville location. Therefore, the branch cannot order and administer the vaccines as easily, said Dan Leveton, UF Health Jacksonville’s media center manager.

Doctor ousted from Florida children’s health board over vaccine views” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis is pushing out a pediatrician from a board in charge of running the state’s Healthy Kids program because of her viewpoints on vaccines for children under five. Patronis’ office notified Dr. Lisa Gwynn, also serving as president of the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, in an email sent on Wednesday. The brief email did not go into great detail but said that Patronis — a Republican running for re-election this year — was removing Gwynn from the Florida Healthy Kids Board because she had made “some very political statements that do not reflect the CFO’s point of view, even going so far as to as to say that the state is ‘obstruct(ing)’ access to vaccines.”

Some teachers alarmed by Florida civics training approach on religion, slavery” via Ana Ceballos and Sommer Brugal — Several South Florida high school educators are alarmed that a new state civics initiative designed to prepare students to be “virtuous citizens” is infused with a Christian and conservative ideology after a three-day training session in Broward County last week. Teachers said they don’t object to the state’s new standards for civics, but they do take issue with how the state wants them to be taught. The civics training, part of DeSantis’ Civics Literacy Excellence Initiative, underscores the tension that has been building around education and how classrooms have become battlegrounds for politically contentious issues.

—“More South Florida students passed FSA math assessment in its final year, data shows” via Angie to DiMichele of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Florida universities consider legal action against accrediting body — Members of the State University System Board of Governors are considering legal action against the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges over a recent academic freedom review at the University of Florida. As Andrew Atterbury of POLITICO Florida reported, BOG members floated asking for a legal opinion on the review, which BOG member Richard Corcoran described as a “reputational attack” on the university. SACS, which accredits UF, launched the review after the university blocked three professors from testifying in a lawsuit challenging a state voting rights law. BOG members have also taken issue with SACS weighing in during the search for a new FSU President, a job sought by Corcoran, who was then the state’s Education Commissioner.

Happening today — The State University System Board of Governors meets, 9 a.m. Zoom link here.

Pedro Allende to lead Department of Management Services” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — The Department of Management Services, which serves as the business arm of the Florida government, has a new lead administrator: Allende, a Miami-based lawyer and former infrastructure bigwig within the United States Department of Homeland Security. DeSantis’ office announced Allende’s appointment in a Tuesday press note. In an accompanying statement, DeSantis touted Allende’s extensive background in government work. “His knowledge and experience protecting critical infrastructure against cybersecurity threats will bolster our efforts to protect Floridians’ data and keep our communities safe,” DeSantis said.

Critics blast state inaction as Florida home insurance rates soar” via Jeff Schweers of the Orlando Sentinel — Ten property and casualty companies are in liquidation, four of which filed for bankruptcy this year, leaving thousands of Floridians scrambling to find new insurance. Some insurance companies are jacking up rates by 100% or more. “All of a sudden they started raising rates and dropping clients, creating a crisis requiring a Special Session to bail them out,” said John Tolley, a Brooklyn-based lawyer for homeowners who grew up in Orlando and does extensive work in Florida. “Every Session they get favorable legislation … yet every Session we hear about the insurance crisis. Where’s the money going?” Industry representatives and their allies in the Legislature argue that it’s largely a problem caused by greedy policyholders who want free roofs, egged on by contractors and lawyers looking for a payday.

Patronis: New homestead exemption will help military, teachers, first responders” via Florida Daily — Patronis weighed in after DeSantis signed legislation (HB 1563) providing a new homestead exemption for classroom teachers, law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, paramedics, child welfare professionals, and active-duty military. “As Florida’s CFO and State Fire Marshal, one of my top priorities is making Florida the friendliest state in the nation for our first responders, military, teachers, and dedicated civil servants. With rising inflation and high gas prices squeezing the wallets of folks across the country, this legislation will provide a much-needed tax cut for our front-line workers who dedicate themselves every day to serving and protecting Florida communities,” he said.

Happening today — The Enterprise Florida Board of Directors holds its quarterly meeting to discuss ways to shape Florida’s economy, 9 a.m., Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables.

Happening today — The Florida Association of Counties begins its annual conference, 10:30 a.m., Hyatt Regency Orlando, 9801 International Dr., Orlando.


Biden irked by Democrats who won’t take ‘yes’ for an answer on 2024” via Jonathan Martin and Zolan Kanno-Youngs of The New York Times — Earlier this month, when Sen. Bernie Sanders said he would not challenge Biden in 2024, Biden was so relieved he invited his former rival to dinner at the White House the next night. Biden has been eager for signs of loyalty, and they have been few and far between. Facing intensifying skepticism about his capacity to run for re-election when he will be nearly 82, the president and his top aides have been stung by the questions about his plans, irritated at what they see as a lack of respect from their party and the press, and determined to tamp down suggestions that he’s effectively a lame duck a year and a half into his administration.

Justice Stephen Breyer to retire Thursday from Supreme Court, clearing way for Ketanji Brown Jackson swearing-in” via John Wagner and Mariana Alfaro of The Washington Post — Today, Justice Breyer told the White House that he will retire from the Supreme Court at noon Thursday, clearing the way for Judge Jackson to be sworn in. Jackson will become the first Black woman to serve on the high court and its fourth current female justice, joining Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Amy Coney Barrett.

Breyer out; Jackson in.

HHS launches website in wake of Supreme Court abortion decision” via Sarah Owermohle and Lauren Gardner of POLITICO — The Department of Health and Human Services launched a website to help people find contraceptives and abortion services, amid complaints from progressive Democrats in Congress that the administration was caught flat-footed by the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade. The website,, lays out patients’ rights to contraception and shares links to abortion options. HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said that he is directing his department’s Office for Civil Rights to ensure patient privacy for those seeking reproductive health care, and that he is taking steps to increase access to FDA-approved abortifacients though he did not provide many specifics on how that would be achieved.

— JAN. 6 —

Trump wanted loyalty above all. He got just the opposite.” via Paul Waldman of The Washington Post — In the final minutes of Tuesday’s extraordinary hearing of the Jan. 6 select committee, U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney teased a revelation of possible crimes that had been committed — not on that awful day or leading up to it, but after. Namely, potential witness tampering. Cheney revealed that witnesses coming before the committee had been contacted by people close to Trump. One unnamed witness said something that could have come right from a mafia movie: “What they said to me is, as long as I continue to be a team player, they know that I’m on the team, I’m doing the right thing, I’m protecting who I need to protect, you know, I’ll continue to stay in good graces in Trump world.”

Liz Cheney cites the law, chapter and verse. Image via AP.

Seffner man pleads guilty to role in 2021 U.S. Capitol riot” via The Associated Press — A Florida man has pleaded guilty to three felony charges related to the insurrection and storming of the U.S. Capitol in January 2021. According to court records, Mitchell Todd Gardner II pleaded guilty in federal court in the District of Columbia to civil disorder, obstruction of an official proceeding and assaulting, resisting, or impeding officers with a dangerous weapon. He faces up to 45 years in prison in his Oct. 21 sentencing. Gardner was arrested in Tampa in June 2021. According to the criminal complaint, Gardner was part of a mob just outside the lower west terrace tunnel of Congress and used a pepper spray device against officers within the tunnel area. Officials said that the contents hit one officer directly in the face shield and splattered onto two other officers.


Jury sworn: Marjory Stoneman Douglas mass shooting trial to open July 18” via Rafael Olmeda of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer has been repeatedly stymied in her effort to bring the case of Nikolas Cruz to trial. But Scherer, prosecutors and defense lawyers finished jury selection Wednesday morning, and all that’s left is a final round of pretrial hearings scheduled over the next two weeks. The case, which is solely about whether the shooter deserves execution for the 17 Parkland murders, has seen no shortage of anticipated and unanticipated delays, and hours before the beginning of those hearings, lawyers on both sides warned Scherer that pretrial scheduling issues remain a challenge. But the judge held firm, determined to be ready to start on July 18.

Nikolas Cruz gets his day in court. Image via AP.

Gun battles at sea: Cuba says it was in shootouts with boats heading to pick up migrants” via Nora Gámez Torres of the Miami Herald — The Cuban Coast Guard was recently involved in two shootouts at sea with speedboats coming from the United States to pick up Cuban migrants, resulting in the death of one of the smugglers. Cuban authorities said they have intercepted 13 speedboats and detained 23 people from the U.S. involved in migrant smuggling operations this year. The most recent incident happened around 3 a.m. on Monday. It involved a Dakota speedboat with a Florida registration number, the ministry said in a statement on state television. The ministry, which oversees state security in Cuba, said it gave the U.S. Coast Guard the identification details of the boat, the person who died, and “other people detained.”


‘Bush league stuff:’ Orlando museum missed Jean-Michel Basquiat ‘red flags,’ ex-FBI agent says” via Skyler Swisher of the Orlando Sentinel — The Orlando Museum of Art overlooked “plenty of red flags” that a collection of purportedly lost Basquiat paintings showcased in a blockbuster exhibition might not be genuine, a former FBI agent who specializes in art crime said Wednesday. Dealers and others in the art world have viewed the 25 paintings attributed to the acclaimed artist Basquiat with suspicion for several years, Bob Wittman said. Wittman said everything from other fake Basquiat works to the art world’s skepticism should have set off warnings. To him, the most glaring problem was one of the cardboard pieces the artist painted on features a FedEx typeface said to not have been used until 1994, six years after Basquiat’s death.

Osceola Schools’ lawsuit against insurance consultant can go on, judge rules” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — U.S. District Judge Anne Conway denied the consultant’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit last week. For seven years, Gallagher Benefit Services helped the Osceola School District navigate through the insurance industry by analyzing and making recommendations about which carrier the district should hire. In exchange, Gallagher was paid annual fees from the insurance companies but the School District set a cap at Gallagher’s Commissions at $195,650 “to avoid the self-serving incentives that could accompany this financial arrangement,” the judge wrote in her order. In a lawsuit filed last year, the district accused Gallagher of breaking that agreement and in paid more than $2 million in “secret Commissions from insurance carriers it recommended to the board,” the order said.

Happening today — The Daytona Regional Chamber will host an event featuring Volusia County legislative candidates, 4:30 p.m., Museum of Art and Sciences, 352 S. Nova Rd., Daytona Beach.

St. Petersburg Mayor Ken Welch restarts bidding process for Tropicana Field” via Colleen Wright of the Tampa Bay Times — Welch announced he is scrapping the bid process initiated by his predecessor that resulted in two groups competing for the rights to redevelop the 86-acre stadium site. He will seek new bids to select a redevelopment group by the end of the year. Bidders will be asked to include plans for a new baseball stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays, though the team continues to evaluate its options for where to play after 2027. “I am impressed with the efforts of the two finalists,” Welch said in a statement. However, Welch pointed to unprecedented circumstances that call for reevaluating priorities, including an ongoing pandemic, skyrocketing housing costs and fast-rising inflation on everything that would go into rebuilding the property.

Ken Welch gets the ball rolling on the Tropicana Field development.

He’s the Treasure Island Mayor, he’s gay and finally his ‘authentic self’” via Chris Kuo of the Tampa Bay Times — The past three years have brought a series of firsts for 32-year-old Tyler Payne. In 2019, for the first time, he told someone he was gay. In 2021, Payne ran for Mayor of Treasure Island and won, becoming the city’s first out Mayor and the only out Mayor in Pinellas County. And this past month, in response to requests from residents, he issued the city’s first Pride proclamation — declaring June to be Pride month in Treasure Island. “I have a lot of people that tell me that I’m the happiest they’ve ever seen me, and I definitely would agree with that,” Payne said.

Citrus County pushes no-build option for turnpike extension” via Mike Wright of Florida Politics — Citrus County Commissioners are solidly opposed to extending Florida’s Turnpike, even for a possible route that skirts the county altogether. Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution to the Florida Department of Transportation for the no-build option, saying all four proposed routes are damaging to the region’s rural nature. Commissioners also agreed with turnpike opponents, including Audubon Florida, that the state should first look at expanding capacity on Interstate 75 before building new roads. Just last month, Commissioners said they would support a no-build option, but only for the three routes that either went through Citrus or near Dunnellon, just across the Withlacoochee River in Marion County.


North Port’s Myakkahatchee Creek Greenway Trail Project OK’d” via Craig Garrett of the North Port Sun — North Port will spend nearly $2 million for the Myakkahatchee Creek Greenway Trail Project. The 1-mile trail — a boardwalk and paved sections — will run along the Myakkahatchee Creek between Appomattox and West Price boulevards. North Port has other linear trails, but this is the first under a canopy in a park setting. It’s “something the community was looking forward to for a long time,” Commissioner Jill Luke said Tuesday before she and her colleagues voted on the package. An Illinois firm, Gale Construction, was the low bidder. Commissioners approved the spending package Tuesday that includes park impact fees, North Port’s share of a countywide surtax and a developer contribution from Heron Creek, or $141,646, according to a spokesperson with the city’s Parks & Recreation division.


Aaron Bell steps aside as Nassau Commission Chair as Hupp Huppmann launches campaign” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — People who showed up and tuned in this week seeking further explanation from Nassau County Commissioner Bell on his DUI arrest didn’t get much, but the Commission underwent some changes, at least temporarily. “I feel that any discussion of this matter during the current meeting or other subsequent meetings, would only serve to distract from the important work of this Board,” he said before announcing he would step down as Chair. He recommended Commissioner Jeff Gray replace him but deferred to County Attorney Denise May on the policy and the procedure to do so. He also reaffirmed his commitment to representing the people of District 2, and the larger county, on the Commission.

Aaron Bell is stepping aside.

‘All of us hurt’: Commissioner’s cousin killed in Quincy home invasion amid surge of violence” via Christopher Cann of the Tallahassee Democrat — The 19-year-old home invasion suspect, DeMario McCall, who was killed by a homeowner over the weekend is the cousin of Gadsden County Commissioner Ronterious Green. Green announced his relation to McCall at the Monday news conference: ” … it’s not because he came from a bad home; I’ve watched his grandmother, I’ve watched how she has raised him to the best of her ability,” Green said. “I’ve watched the barber … try to coach him and mentor him.” … “If you hear something, make sure that you’re reporting it, even if it’s your grandchild or your child,” McCall said at the podium. “It could be your child’s life that you’re saving.”


Throwing away kids’ COVID-19 vaccines is criminal. Blame Florida’s anti-vaxx messaging” via the Miami Herald editorial board — Florida doctors are wasting potentially lifesaving COVID-19 shots for young children, throwing away vials that have been opened but not fully used because there’s not enough demand for the vaccine.

That should be criminal.

But don’t blame doctors. No, this debacle should be laid directly at the feet of DeSantis and his hand-picked Surgeon General, Joseph Ladapo. They’ve cast doubt and sowed suspicion about the shots. They’ve inserted the state into a discussion that should be between parents and their children’s doctors. They’ve decreed that Florida is opposed to COVID-19 vaccines for young children, dismissing the risk to children as minimal.

Easy to say when it’s not your kids, not your risk. But what about kids who get it more than once? Or develop long COVID-19? Or even die from the virus? There have been 442 deaths of children under 4, nationally, as of last month. That’s a small number unless your child is one of those 442. Then, the callousness of Florida’s Republican leaders must be devastating.


Why I’m talking about my abortion” via Jemele Hill of The Atlantic — More than ever before, women who want an abortion or have had an abortion need to know that they aren’t alone; a large number of women have been in the same position. So much of the conversation about this issue is entirely too fixated on who deserves the right to have an abortion. But every woman should have a right to an abortion — not just those who are facing grim and horrific circumstances. Women should not have to justify why they want the power over whether and when they give birth. The government shouldn’t force them to have a child any more than it should force them to be sterilized. They just need access to safe care.

Abortion activists are wrong to criticize Biden. Here’s why.” via Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post — Democrats never fail to amaze me with their ability to turn on allies. Too many are indulging in this habit in the wake of the Supreme Court’s reversal of abortion rights. The outrage is not that the White House is doing too little to rectify the forced-birth crowd’s barbaric assault on women, as some on the left contend. The real issue is the barbaric assault itself. The truth is the federal government’s options currently are very constrained. This battle must be waged in Congress, state legislatures, state courts and in public referendums. Some on the left will take issue with the suggestion that they must “vote harder;” in reality, their marching orders are to organize with the same effectiveness as forced-birth advocates.

The case for prosecuting Trump just got much stronger” via David French of The Dispatch — Before today, I’ve been open to the possibility that Donald Trump’s speech and conduct on and before Jan. 6 criminally incited the mob. I was open, but unconvinced. Yes, Trump urged the mob to “fight like hell” and march on the Capitol, but he also said they should “peacefully and patriotically” make their voices heard. That caveat was likely enough to spare him from prosecution. That was yesterday’s analysis. Today’s is different. Because of a courageous woman named Cassidy Hutchinson. Hutchinson claims she overheard Trump say about the crowd, “You know, I don’t f-ing care that they have weapons. They’re not here to hurt me. Take the effing mags away. Let my people in. They can march to the Capitol from here. Let the people in. Take the effing mags away.”

DeSantis is done kissing Trump’s ring, and spotlight-hungry Republicans take notice” via the Miami Herald editorial board — DeSantis appears to be feeling so confident he has no plans of asking Trump for a formal endorsement in his re-election this fall, POLITICO reported. Trump’s endorsement in 2018 helped DeSantis steamroll the GOP’s hand-picked candidate for Governor. (His name is Adam Putnam, in case you’ve forgotten.) If anyone should be happy with the work of the Jan. 6 committee in depicting Trump’s disregard for the republic, it should be DeSantis. He beats every Republican at being a more controlled and less morally crippled version of the former President. At the same time, 2024 is a long way off. We’ve seen a Republican savior or two rise and crash into oblivion. (Remember Scott Walker? Right, that’s what we thought.)

—“DeSantis’s snub of Trump is a 2024 challenge” via David Von Drehle of The Washington Post

DeSantis vetoed another bad idea and showed Florida lawmakers who’s boss” via the Miami Herald editorial board — In his latest round of vetoes last week, DeSantis sounded the death knell for another priority of legislative leaders. It was a win for a Governor establishing himself as the omnipresent figure in state politics. It was also a win for taxpayers and local governments at risk of paying for expensive litigation. Senate Bill 620 would’ve neutered the ability of cities and counties to govern themselves. The legislation allowed some businesses to sue local governments to recover lost profits for up to seven years if the loss was a result of a local ordinance or citizen initiative. Some may rightly see the irony in DeSantis vetoing SB 620 after spending the past year attacking and curtailing local governments’ ability to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. As principled as DeSantis may be, he’s also calculating. This is the fourth time DeSantis spurned Senate President Wilton Simpson by killing part of his legislative agenda.

Everglades Foundation CEO’s racist comments hurt Glades communities” via Janet Taylor of the Westside Gazette — Sadly, this isn’t even the first time Eikenberg has slung the highly insulting term “knuckle draggers” when disagreeing with residents of the Glades. In 2016, he was quoted by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel when criticizing our very real concerns over taking more farmland out of production and losing jobs by saying, it “is “the knuckle dragger’s argument to not tackle the issue.” Surely an educated and frequent public speaker like Eikenberg could have chosen a less racially charged phrase. But he decided to use a term that at best means “unintelligent” and “backward” and at worst, is a racist description in the ugliest of ways. Name-calling and dividing us will not solve water issues or any other social problems.

From privatization to private eyes, players in Florida power games lose trust” via Mark Woods of the Florida Times-Union — America’s largest power company didn’t like Nate Monroe’s commentaries about the potential sale of Jacksonville’s city-owned utility, particularly the questions raised in a column about FPL’s plans to donate to charities tied to Jacksonville City Council members. Even more broadly than that, FPL didn’t like what the Times-Union was reporting about the potentially massive sale — which fell apart amid a scandal that led to federal indictments for two top JEA executives. So now we have the largest utility in America saying it is the victim — and making a not-even-thinly-veiled threat. And while there certainly were the usual concerns about monthly bills and hurricane response, there were a couple of other things JEA customers and employees craved from their utility after that fiasco. Transparency and trust.

— ALOE —

Disney Cruise Line christens Disney Wish at Port Canaveral” via Richard Tribou of the Orlando Sentinel — Disney Cruise Line managed to tug on some heartstrings while christening its new ship Disney Wish, inviting three children from the Make-A-Wish foundation to perform the traditional role given to the ship’s godmother during a ceremony at Port Canaveral on Wednesday. Acting as representative godchildren of all past, present and future recipients of the Make-A-Wish charity, 13-year-old Jenna from Sacramento, California, 16-year-old Megan from Brookfield, Wisconsin, and 10-year-old Colby from Lexington, Massachusetts, all survivors of life-threatening illnesses, declared in unison, “I christen thee Disney Wish. May God bless this ship and all who sail on her.” The event soldiered through the threat of light rain featured speeches by The Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Chapek and Disney Parks, Experiences and Product Chair Josh D’Amaro.

Disney Wish is ready for the open seas.

Magic Kingdom’s Bibbidi Bobbidi boutique is reopening this summer” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — The Boutique that does Disney character-themed makeovers for children is opening its doors again on Aug. 25 at the Magic Kingdom. “Located in the heart of Magic Kingdom and Disneyland Park, the reopening of these two iconic locations will join the slate of Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutiques aboard Disney Cruise Line, including the newest addition at sea on the Disney Wish.” The boutique styles children into princesses and knights, offering hair styling, costumes and accessories geared toward children ages 3 to 12. Starting prices for makeover packages range from about $20 to $230. Guests can start making reservations in early August, Disney said.


Celebrating today are Rep. Erin Grall, former Rep. Travis Cummings; Adam’s better half, Beth Babington; Kelly Mallette, and Carrie DiMuzio Madden.


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

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