The Perfect Enemy | Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 7.22.22
August 17, 2022

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 7.22.22

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 7.22.22  Florida Politics

Read Time:55 Minute

Good Friday morning.

President Joe Biden won’t be coming to Florida after all.

The Biden administration announced that the President has tested positive for COVID-19, which means he will not be able to make the trek to Central Florida on Monday.

It’s Joe Biden’s turn. Image via AP.

Biden had been scheduled to visit Orlando to speak at the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and Tampa for a Democratic National Committee event, so a makeup trip — if there is one — will feature an entirely different agenda.

As President, Biden has only been to Florida once. That visit came shortly after the Champlain Towers collapse in Surfside.

This is the second presidential visit to Florida that has been canceled during the pandemic era. The first came in October 2020, when Donald Trump skipped out on a Florida trip after he tested positive.

___

The first and only debate ahead of the Democratic Primary for Governor was last night.

But really, who cares?

Every election season, campaigns and consultants claim debates are difference-makers. In reality, they’re mostly sideshows. If they’ve ever produced any breakthrough moments for a Governor campaign, it hasn’t been in the past decade.

The most memorable gubernatorial debate moments of the past two election cycles had nothing to do with the issues — and certainly didn’t impact the results.

What was the most memorable moment of the 2014 debate between then-Gov. Rick Scott and Charlie Crist? Probably when Scott threw a fit over Crist having a personal fan under the lectern.

Did that childish display affect the election? Crist would probably be termed out as Governor this year if it had.

The main event. Will there be fireworks? Image via NBC6.

What about 2018. By most accounts, Andrew Gillum won his debate against Ron DeSantis, but if anyone tries to remember why — their only recollection will be some variation of “a hit dog will holler.”

Well, here we are in 2022, and Nikki Fried’s campaign and consultant Kevin Cate are hyping up the Primary debate as if it will shift the race’s momentum. The same goes for the upcoming Sunshine Summit, where Republican congressional candidates think they’ll be able to springboard into the lead with a clever quip or two.

Maybe a few minds will change, but fewer than if their campaigns took the energy they put into debate prep and went door-knocking.

___

White House Infrastructure Coordinator Mitch Landrieu will travel to Orlando today to highlight Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure law.

The spending package, which passed last year, includes funding for roads, bridges, broadband expansion, and other infrastructure improvements across the country.

Landrieu is expected to speak during a 10:45 a.m. appearance at Orlando International Airport, where he will be joined by Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Sen. Vic Torres, unionized airport workers, and Progress Florida to discuss the law’s positive impact on Florida families, mainly how the law will modernize and improve airports and rail infrastructure.

The law includes about $1.2 billion for Florida airports, including $44 million for MCO.

Other Florida items funded by the law include Everglades restoration and the renourishment of Port Tampa Bay. The legislation also established the Affordable Connectivity Program — which provides eligible families $30/month off their internet bills — and much more.

___

Ballard Partners rocketed into the top tier of Washington lobby firms when Trump was President, and it’s still growing 18 months into the Biden administration.

The firm was No. 17 on POLITICO Influence’s list of top-earning firms in the second quarter, based on Lobbying Disclosure Act filings for April through June.

Ballard Partners earned $4.9 million during the three-month reporting period, outpacing their first quarter revenues by $500,000 and revenues from Q2 2021 by $400,000.

Ballard Partners is one of the top firms in Florida as well. It recently earned the No. 1 spot in the Q1 rankings for state-level lobbying. Florida Politics estimated the firm earned $6 million for the quarter — about $1 million more than it pulled in during the final three months of 2021.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

Tweet, tweet:

@BillKristol: The decline and fall of Marco Rubio is a sad spectacle. Maybe it’s time for Florida voters to say NO to Marco, who’s become a “stupid waste of time.”

@DaveTrotter: It’s interesting. @NikkiFried‘s campaign has gone from Biden-suing anti-masker to being a little more serious. Her messaging has been much more professional lately. But is it too late?

@Scott_Maxwell: The debate is underscoring Nikki Fried’s biggest problem: She’s right about Crist’s checkered and flip-flopping record on issues like abortion. But many of Florida’s strongest pro-choice voices know all that, have looked at both candidates — and have still decided to back Crist.

@Sam_RamirezQ: Everyone knew @NikkiFried needed a game-changing debate … this definitely isn’t it. She can’t land a glove.

Tweet, tweet:

@MarcACaputo: 🚨Pen & fan drama at the FL Dem Primary gov pre-taped debate … Crist’s Sharpie marker pen was taken from him when Fried’s camp argued it was a “prop” (resembles his veto 🖊 he used as gov) & his podium fan was so noisy they needed a special mic cover

@SShawFL: I’m unsure why you go out of your way to attack trial lawyers in a Democratic Primary … twice.

@AGGancarski: Are we to the “would you rather be stuck on a desert island w Biden or AOC” part of the Dem debate yet?

@Mdixon55: I seriously have no idea how any of you live tweet debates. I’ve covered a bunch now and never been able to do it. All I can do to make sure my notes are solid for the story

@Mdixon55: If a thing happens and doesn’t have a Twitter Spaces afterward, did it make a sound?

@LeftyLockdowns: The New York Times is having its columnists openly admit to being wrong about something. So far, not one acknowledging being wrong about the most important subject of all: lockdowns, school shutdowns, masks or vaccine mandates.

@MarcACaputo: BTW, one of Florida’s top Republican political consultants, @anthonypedicini, is quite the lepidopterist Unfortunately, his Twitter feed doesn’t have enough butterfly content

— DAYS UNTIL —

Deadline to register for 2022 Primary — 3; Beyoncé rolls-out seventh solo studio album ’Renaissance’ — 7; MLB trade deadline — 11; The 10-day Florida Python Challenge kicks off — 14; Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner novel ‘Heat 2’ publishes — 18; Early voting begins for Primaries — 22; FBHA’s annual conference, BHCon2022, begins — 26; FRLA’s Operations and Marketing Summit — 27; ‘House of the Dragon’ premieres on HBO — 30; 2022 Florida Primary — 32; launch window opens for NASA to launch the Artemis I — 38; 2022 Florida Chamber Technology & Innovation Solution Summit — 40; ‘Andor’ premieres on Disney+ — 40; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 42; NFL Opening Night: LA Rams vs. Buffalo Bills — 48; 2022 Emmys — 52; JMI’s 2022 Tech & Innovation Summit begins — 55; Vote-by-mail mailing deadline for General Election — 76; Deadline to register for General Election — 81; 22-23 NHL season begins — 81; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 95; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 95; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 95; Early voting begins for General Election — 99; 2022 General Election — 109; ‘Black Panther 2′ premieres — 112; ‘Captain Marvel 2’ premieres — 114; FITCon 2022 begins — 118; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 118; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 122; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 122; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 123; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 131; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 131; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 147; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 210; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 228; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 245; 2023 Session Sine Die — 287; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 287; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 315; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 483; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 616; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 735.

— TOP STORY —

Nikki Fried, Charlie Crist clash in heated Florida Democratic gubernatorial debate” via NBC 6 — Fried and Crist clashed on everything from abortion rights to affordable housing in their first and only debate Thursday.

Fried, the only Democrat elected to a statewide office, frequently criticized Crist, who previously served as Florida’s Governor as a Republican but switched parties and is now a Democratic Congressman.

“We need to make sure that we have a true Democrat, someone who will not only be able to beat Ron DeSantis, that I have been doing for four and a half years,” Fried said.

It was cordial. At least initially. Image via NBC6.

“Let’s understand what’s going on here; you’re losing this campaign, it’s time for desperation, and now it’s on full display all over the state of Florida,” Crist said later.

Regarding the economy and inflation, both agreed that housing is the most critical issue the state is facing.

Fried said that on Day One as Governor, she’d declare a housing emergency and go after predatory landlords. Crist said he’d look to boost funding at the state level for those looking at buying and renting.

When it came to abortion rights, Fried accused Crist of being “pro-life his entire life, including today,” and accused him of appointing “radical extremists” to the state Supreme Court and working to ban abortions. Crist denied those claims and spoke about vetoing anti-abortion bills during his career.

“Nikki, you know that’s just not true, and you shouldn’t say those kinds of things because you’re trying to muddy it up,” Crist replied. “I have been pro-choice; every action that I have taken as an elected official has been pro-choice back to when I was a state Senator, I killed an anti-abortion bill in committee, and I voted no, and it was a 3-3 tie vote.”

Both candidates found some common ground on the need to beat DeSantis, with both arguing why they were the right person to do it.

Crist stripped of personal pen, fan before Fried debate faceoff” via Marc Caputo of NBC News — Before the Florida Democratic Gubernatorial Primary debate even started Thursday, Rep. Crist already lost … his pen and personal fan, that is. Crist is known in Florida political circles for having a small personal podium fan — most notably remembered for causing a debate flap with Scott in 2014. And he attempted to have his own fan brought into Thursday’s Telemundo 51 /NBC 6 Miami debate, which was pre-taped and will air in the state Thursday evening. But organizers didn’t allow it. The station’s management had already agreed to install personal fans, and Crist was forced to rely on that. But the noise generated was so loud that there was a special windscreen for the microphone.

Fried wows Broward Democratic audience. Crist appears via video.” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Appearing in person before hundreds of Broward Democrats, while her Primary opponent attended via video, Fried won some converts among active voters who are sure to vote in the Gubernatorial Primary. The event took place Wednesday night at a legendary bastion for voters in Broward County: The Kings Point Democratic Club in Tamarac. Some 300 people attended, predominantly Kings Point residents and activist and political club leaders from all corners of the county. The gathering was on the eve of the only Crist-Fried debate of the Primary season, and the day before the mailing of 300,000 vote-by-mail-ballots to county voters.

—”Insults fly as Crist, Fried clash during Florida Democratic debate” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida

—“Fried slams Crist’s GOP past, and he hits back in Democratic Governor debate” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel

—”Crist, Fried spar over who is better Democrat, better challenger to Ron DeSantis” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics

—”Heated back and forth between Crist and Fried in their one debate before Democratic Governor Primary” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

—“Crist, Fried give enviro issues cursory treatment at Dem debate” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics

—”Crist, Fried claim victory during debate” via Forrest Saunders of WPTV

— 2022 —

The Governor who holds Donald Trump’s fate in his hands” via Michael Kruse, Matt Dixon and Gary Fineout of POLITICO — DeSantis remains something of a cipher, easily caricatured for the way he vaulted to this perch in 2018 — on the strength of a collection of complimentary tweets and an endorsement from Trump. The more accurate picture of DeSantis, revealed through more than 60 interviews with people who’ve watched him and worked with him and for him, strategists, consultants, operatives, lobbyists, friends, and fellow pols, is not of a White House errand boy but of a stubbornly independent player whose personal ambition far exceeds any loyalty to the President. Indeed, DeSantis’ life is in many respects a far truer version of the story Trump always has told falsely about himself: self-made, supersmart, somehow destined for greatness.

Compared to Donald Trump, is Ron DeSantis the real deal?

Independent pro-DeSantis group’s study finds moderate Republicans souring on Trump online” via Alex Roarty of the Miami Herald — The Jan. 6 congressional hearings have damaged former Trump’s standing with a key group of independent and moderate Republican voters, according to a new study commissioned by a group urging DeSantis to run for President. The findings could bolster the view that, far from being a political dud, the recent litany of accusations about Trump’s connection to last year’s attack on the U.S. Capitol has already damaged any future presidential campaign of his at least for the time being. Impact Social, a group that tracks online conversations about political candidates, found a sharply negative turn in what voters were saying about Trump during the first two weeks of July, with a drop in the number of people saying positive things about him and a rise in the number of critical people.

Poll: Joe Biden and Kamala Harris would both beat either Trump or DeSantis in 2024” via Ewan Palmer of Newsweek — An Echelon Insights survey found that if the next election were being held today, voters would narrowly back Biden (46%) over Trump (44%), with the President also the preferred choice when up against the Florida Governor (45% to 41%). When those taking part in the poll said who they would vote for between Harris and the two Republican front-runners, the Vice President also came out on top. A total of 46% of likely voters said that they would vote for Harris, compared to 44% who would back Trump in a hypothetical race. Harris also beat DeSantis by 43% to 42%, albeit within the net margin of error of 1%.

House battleground poll hints at big GOP wave” via Josh Kraushaar of Axios — A new poll of the 56 most competitive battleground House districts found that Republicans hold a four-point advantage — 46% to 42% — on the generic congressional ballot. Despite several recent polls showing incremental gains by Democrats, the reality is that the political environment remains favorable for Republicans. The survey, conducted by Trump pollster Tony Fabrizio and Biden pollster John Anzalone for the AARP, indicates former President Trump is, on average, significantly more popular than President Biden in these swing districts. Biden’s job approval sits at just 37%, with 61% disapproving of his performance; 50% of voters approve of Trump — higher than in other recent polls — while 49% disapprove; the poll also found a gaping disconnect between the priorities of Democratic and Republican voters. This is the latest in a string of surveys showing Democrats losing ground with nonwhite voters, particularly Hispanics and Asian Americans.

Sentinel teams with AARP, News 13 to offer congressional candidate forum” via Roger Simmons of the Orlando Sentinel — As Florida’s Aug. 23 Primary nears, the Orlando Sentinel is joining with AARP Florida and Spectrum News 13 to present a public forum with candidates running for Congress in Central Florida Districts 7, 9 and 10. Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell and News 13 anchor Ybeth Bruzual will moderate the Conversations with the Congressional Candidates, taped before a live audience at the Orlando Science Center on Thursday, July 28, from the Orlando Science Center 6:30 to 9 p.m. News 13 and OrlandoSentinel.com will broadcast the event in two parts. The first with the District 7 and 9 candidates will air on Friday, July 29 at 7 p.m., and the second with the District 10 candidates will air on Saturday, July 30 at 7 p.m.

Matt Gaetz campaign gets $17K from Rockefeller heir who had contact with Russian agent” via Aimee Sachs of Florida Politics — U.S. Rep. Gaetz’s campaign reported raising $547,150 in the second quarter. In that pot are donations from an heir to the Rockefeller fortune who had contact with a Russian agent. George O’Neill Jr. and his wife, Erica O’Neill, donated $17,400 to the controversial Congressman’s campaign on April 14. O’Neill is the great-grandson of John D. Rockefeller Jr. The Lake Wales resident was revealed as one of the contacts of Maria Butina, who was convicted in 2018 of acting as a secret Russian foreign agent. He was named “U.S. Person 2” in court documents.

Aaron Bean triples Erick Aguilar’s second quarter fundraising in CD 4” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — Sen. Bean, the presumptive front-runner in Florida’s 4th Congressional District, more than tripled Aguilar’s second quarter haul in the Republican Primary, despite Bean only raising money for one month of the quarter. Bean raised more than $346,800 during that span and spent more than $191,800. That leaves the campaign with $154,500 on hand at the beginning of July. Aguilar’s cash-on-hand advantage may not matter in the end, as he deals with the fallout from accusations he deliberately misled seniors and others in campaign fundraising solicitations. The pitch made it look like the money would go to Trump or DeSantis but instead went to Aguilar.

Ted Cruz backs Scotty Moore for CD 9 — U.S. Sen. Cruz is endorsing Republican Moore in the race for Florida’s 9th Congressional District. “We need more leaders in Washington like Scotty who will fight for school choice, defend religious freedom, and protect our Constitution. I hope my fellow Conservatives will join me in supporting Scotty’s campaign,” Cruz said. Moore thanked Cruz, saying Cruz is a “true Constitutional Conservative and loves our country very much.” Moore is one of four Republicans running for CD 9. The winner of the Aug. 23 Primary will face Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto in November.

Randolph Bracy flyer catches heat in Orange County race for Congress” via Greg Fox of WESH — A new campaign flyer arriving in voter mailboxes is catching heat from other candidates in a local race for Congress. “I won’t send that mailer out again. So, we have new mailers coming out,” said Bracy, Orlando, a candidate for Florida’s 10th Congressional District. Bracy appeared to struggle to explain why one of his campaign mailers incorrectly states the following: “I am the only one running in this race with any legislative experience.” Two of his Democratic rivals in the CD 10 race for Congress in Orange County, Corrine Brown and Alan Grayson, are both former members of Congress. Brown spent 10 years as a state lawmaker.

Far-right activist Laura Loomer seeks to unseat GOP Rep. Daniel Webster” via Skyler Swisher of the Orlando Sentinel — Loomer, whose anti-Muslim comments got her banned from social media, is making her second run for Congress. This time she is challenging U.S. Rep. Webster, one of Central Florida’s longest-serving elected officials. Loomer said she is running against Webster “because he is an absentee Congressman who has failed his constituency. … He is the definition of a RINO (Republican in name only).” Webster, 73, highlighted his age and experience. He’s served in Congress since 2011, representing a district with one of the highest proportion of seniors in the country. Webster has a long political resume. He was first elected to the Florida Legislature in 1980, serving two years as Florida House speaker. He was first elected to the U.S. House in 2010.

Congresswoman sues opponent for message claiming she ‘embezzled’ funds” via Bianca Padró Ocasio and Aaron Liebowitz of the Miami Herald — U.S. Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick is suing campaign opponent Dale Holness for more than $1 million, accusing his campaign of sending a defamatory text message that refers to allegations the congresswoman used taxpayer money to fund her race against Holness last year. In a lawsuit filed Wednesday night in Broward County Circuit Court, Cherfilus-McCormick said Holness and one of his campaign staffers made “maliciously false statements” about her in a fundraising message sent to voters by text. “I am disappointed that Dale can simply make up lies that are hurting my family, friends, and supporters with mailers, text messages, and signs, all in hopes of winning an election,” Cherfilus-McCormick said in a statement Thursday.

Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick is taking Dale Holness to court over his rhetoric.

María Elvira Salazar posts cycle-best $835K in Q2, ramps up advertising amid Democratic onrushes” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — U.S. Rep. Salazar enjoyed a flood of support to raise $835,000 in the second quarter of 2022, her greatest three-month round of gains this election cycle, to defend her seat representing Florida’s 27th Congressional District. She also spent nearly $500,000, mostly on print-based campaign marketing and various consulting services. As of June 30, the Miami Republican had $1.4 million remaining. That’s more than the combined holdings of her lone Primary opponent and three Democrats vying to challenge her.

— MORE 2022 —

Florida Medical Association endorses Shane Abbott in HD 5 — FMA’s political committee endorsed Republican candidate Abbott in his bid for House District 5. “As a valuable member of the health care team, Shane has a unique understanding of the health care system and the complexities of the issues we face as physicians. We look forward to working with him to address these issues and help take care of the patients of our state,” FMA PAC President Jason Goldman said of Abbott, who owns a pharmacy. Abbot is running against Clint Pate and Vance Coley in the Republican Primary. All voters in the Northwest Florida district can cast a ballot in the Aug. 23 Primary Election because no Democrats, third-party, or no-party candidates qualified for the race.

The FMA gives Shane Abbott the all-clear.

Voter suppression, redistricting fears cited by candidates for House District 41” via Lisa Maria Garza of the Orlando Sentinel — Voters will choose between Democrats Rep. Travaris McCurdy, longtime state lawmaker Bruce Antone, motivational speaker Pam Powell and Shaniqua “Shan” Rose, who runs a local nonprofit organization, in the Aug. 23 Primary for the new State House District 41. McCurdy and Powell said they’re worried about voter suppression under new state election laws that placed restrictions on the use of “drop boxes” for vote-by-mail ballots and imposed strict regulations on voter rights organizations, including a ban on providing items such as food and water to voters waiting in line at polling sites. “We have to be very concerned that our voters are going to get their votes counted,” said Powell. “A lot of the Black and Brown members of our community have been really disenfranchised.”

Jason Holloway combats questions of GOP loyalty” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Holloway is battling recent criticisms questioning his loyalty to the Republican Party, highlighting his former ties to the Pinellas County Democratic Party. State Rep. Chris Latvala, who is vacating the seat being sought by Holloway, has shared several posts slamming Holloway’s previous associations with Florida Democrats. The Suncoast Better Government Committee, affiliated with Latvala, paid for the ads which were subsequently posted to “Clearwater Conservatives.” “Former Democratic Party Elected Official Jason Holloway signed a loyalty oath to the Democratic Party in 2016 to not oppose any democratic candidate including Hillary Clinton,” the ad reads. “Jason Holloway is no Conservative. He is an opportunist.”

RLC endorses Holloway for HD 58 — The Republican Liberty Caucus of Florida is endorsing Holloway in the Republican Primary for House District 58. “I’m honored to be endorsed by the Republican Liberty Caucus. They share my vision for limited government, less taxes and constitutional liberty for all Floridians, and I look forward to fighting for those values in the Florida House,” Holloway said. Holloway faces Kim Berfield and Jim Vricos in the Republican Primary. Previously, Sens. Joe Gruters, Jeff Brandes, and Rep. Nick DiCeglie endorsed him.

Despite questions about his Party fidelity, Jason Halloway gets thumbs-up from a state GOP group.

Daryl Campbell hits personal best in fundraising in bid to retain central Broward’s HD 99 seat” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — A South Florida lawmaker elected earlier this year logged his personal best fundraising last month for this election cycle. Democratic Rep. Campbell faces a repeat of his Primary contest from earlier this year. In January, he was elected in an open Special Primary Election to represent a central Broward County district, recently renumbered House District 99. Campbell raised $14,195 in June as he faces Democratic challenger Elijah Manley in the Aug. 23 Primary. Campbell bested Manley by 15 percentage points in that January Primary, and it looks like so far, he’s lapping him in the money race for their rematch. While Campbell’s campaign funds are at $14,058, Manley’s holdings are just shy of $2,000.

Must-readA government official helped them register. Now they’ve been charged with voter fraud.” via Bianca Fortis of ProPublica — In 2020, a representative of the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections conducted a series of outreach efforts at the local county jail to let inmates know of their new rights and offer to help them add their names to the voter rolls. During three visits to the jail, the official helped sign up at least 10 inmates. In all, 10 of the men who the official helped register to vote have been charged with voter fraud on the grounds they were ineligible. State investigators found that some jail employees remembered the elections official giving clear directions to inmates about having to pay off financial obligations, while others did not. The investigation concluded that the jail visits were “lacking in both quality and longevity” and “showed a haphazard registration of inmates.” But the state prosecutor nevertheless proceeded with charges, although not against county officials.

— STATEWIDE —

Appeals court won’t fast track Florida abortion lawsuit” via Anthony Izaguirre and Curt Anderson of The Associated Press —The 1st District Court of Appeal decided Thursday that it will consider the case rather than forwarding it immediately to the state’s highest court. The court also rejected a bid from abortion providers to temporarily block the law, meaning that the 15-week ban remains in effect in Florida for now. The ban on abortions after 15 weeks — down from 24 weeks under long-standing past law — took effect July 1. DeSantis has expressed confidence the state will prevail on appeal, particularly before a Supreme Court with a conservative majority. If so, that would mean the justices would have to reverse years of precedent ensuring a woman’s abortion rights in Florida, much as the U.S. Supreme Court did in overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

Daniel Uhlfelder joins synagogue lawsuit challenging Florida’s new abortion ban” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Uhlfelder has come on as co-counsel to a South Florida synagogue’s lawsuit challenging Florida’s 15-week abortion ban. The lawsuit, filed last month by Rabbi Barry Silver and Congregation L’Dor Va-Dor in Boynton Beach, contends that the new law banning most abortions after 15 weeks violates the state constitution’s right to privacy and freedom of religion. Silver’s complaint, which runs parallel to another the American Civil Liberties Union filed on June 1, says Jewish law provides that “abortion is required if necessary to protect the health, mental or physical well-being of the woman.”

Daniel Uhlfelder joins the abortion ban scrum.

—“Ten special-interest tax breaks from DeSantis’ first term” via Jason Garcia of Seeking Rents

Monkeypox cases soar as criticism mounts over slow response” via Cindy Krischer Goodman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — As outrage rises over the country’s sluggish monkeypox response, Florida exemplifies how the virus is spreading at a worrisome speed. With more than 208 confirmed and probable cases in the state, the Florida Department of Health is only now getting Jynneos monkeypox vaccines out to the communities most affected and education on transmission and treatment is sorely lacking. In Washington, politicians are lambasting the delayed and overly complicated U.S. rollout of monkeypox vaccines and tests, as well as the lack of resources given to states.

Ratings agency to downgrade 17 Florida insurers, sparking backlash from CFO Jimmy Patronis, regulators” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — Demotech, a ratings agency for insurance companies, is set to downgrade 17 Florida property insurers, a move that could deliver another blow to an already fragile market. It also spurred a swift response from Chief Financial Officer Patronis and the Office of Insurance Regulation, which blasted the decisions. Patronis called Demotech a “rogue ratings agency” that is playing “havoc with the financial lives of millions of Floridians” in a letter to the leaders of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, government-backed groups that guarantee mortgages.

Veterans can now teach in Florida with no degree. School leaders say it ‘lowers the bar’” via Gershon Harrell of The Gainesville Sun — A potential solution to a statewide teacher shortage issue has education leaders feeling as if DeSantis’ administration is undermining the qualifications of classroom instructors. Last week, the Florida Department of Education announced that military veterans and their spouses would receive a five-year voucher to teach in the classroom despite not receiving a degree. It’s a move tied to the $8.6 million the state announced would be used to expand career and workforce training opportunities for military veterans and their spouses.

Happening today — The Florida Commission on Ethics meets; agenda includes a settlement involving former state Sen. Jack Latvala, 8:30 a.m., 1st District Court of Appeal, 2000 Drayton Dr., Tallahassee.

Happening today — The Economic Estimating Conference meets to consider interest rates in calculating appropriations, 8:30 a.m., Room 117 of the Knott Building.

Happening today — The Economic Estimating Conference meets to discuss the state economy, 9 a.m., Room 117 of the Knott Building.

Happening today — The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity releases June unemployment numbers, 10 a.m.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Biden’s bout with COVID-19 tests his return-to-normal strategy” via Dan Diamond of The Washington Post — If Biden emerges quickly from his bout with COVID-19, it will be a high-profile demonstration of his broader vow: A return to normalcy is possible thanks to vaccines and treatments, despite surging cases and the ongoing pandemic. But if the President should be sick for an extended period, or worse, fall gravely ill, he’ll join many other Americans who have struggled to remain healthy in a world with scant mask-wearing and social distancing and fuel further criticism that his virus strategy falls short, especially for the most vulnerable. “I think the President’s case says more about COVID than about the White House strategy — it’s astonishingly infectious,” said Tom Frieden, a former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Joe Biden’s return-to-normal stance is put to the test. Image via Reuters.

The House passed a bill codifying the right to contraceptives into federal law, with eight Republicans backing the measure.” via Anthony Adragna and Jordain Carney of POLITICO — Eight Republicans joined all House Democrats in passing a measure that would ensure a federal right to contraception, moving swiftly after Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas suggested revisiting the right in a concurrence to the decision overturning Roe v. Wade. The legislation faces uphill odds in the Senate, where 10 Republican votes would be needed to overcome a filibuster and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has not promised to take up the legislation. The vote comes just days after 47 House Republicans joined the chamber’s Democrats in voting to enshrine same-sex marriage into federal law.

Fried hails Senate cannabis bill” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Fried offered support Thursday for new federal cannabis reform legislation from Senate Democrats. “It is great to see this long-awaited and much-needed cannabis reform package introduced in the Senate, but it’s unfortunate that in the year 2022, the federal government has yet to end its unjust cannabis prohibition,” Fried said, regarding the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act. “While Congress has been debating and dragging its feet at every opportunity for reform, tens of thousands of people — the majority of whom are people of color — are unjustly incarcerated due to nonviolent minor drug charges. At the same time, patients have been prevented from accessing necessary treatments and economic opportunities have been stifled,” added Fried.

Congress could shut down county plan for private planes at Homestead air base” via Alex Harris of the Miami Herald — Miami-Dade’s plans to bring civil aviation to the Homestead Air Reserve Base may be on the way to being grounded by Congress. U.S. Sen. Rubio, a longtime opponent of the idea of expanding private access to the base, also has picked up support from a critical Miami Republican colleague U.S. Rep. Carlos Giménez, who as mayor of Miami-Dade County had supported opening the base to private planes. Gimenez appears to have changed his mind on the proposal, sponsoring legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives that mirrors language from Rubio and Sen. Scott that would outlaw private air traffic at the base.

Ted Deutch, Matt Gaetz trade barbs during assault weapon ban debate” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — A House debate over a bill banning assault weapons, triggered a verbal exchange between two members of the Florida delegation Wednesday, with both invoking a trial happening 1,000 miles away. Rep. Deutch aimed Rep. Gaetz’s contention that gun-free zones were to blame for attacks on soft targets like the one that left 17 people dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018. A jury is considering whether the shooter should face life imprisonment or execution for the carnage. “That this defense could possibly be used on this day — when the families of murdered children in my district are sitting in court — makes my blood boil,” Deutch said Wednesday, captured in a clip he shared on his YouTube channel.

Matt Gaetz and Ted Deutch have words.

Cuba to allow foreigners to invest in private businesses, will restart dollar exchanges” via Nora Gámez Torres of the Miami Herald — Facing a humanitarian crisis that threatens to set off new protests on the island, the Cuban government is taking the unprecedented step of authorizing foreign investment in its emerging private sector and will resume an official exchange market for the dollar, among 75 measures authorities said Thursday are meant to boost the country’s economic recovery. Authorities will also cut custom fees and lift restrictions on some goods travelers can bring to the island, Economy Minister and Vice President Alejandro Gil said in a National Assembly meeting on Thursday.



— JAN. 6 —

Jan. 6 hearing probes Trump actions as Capitol was attacked” via Lisa Mascaro, Mary Clare Jalonick and Farnoush Amiri of The Associated Press — The House Jan. 6 committee plunged into its second prime-time hearing on the Capitol attack Thursday night, vowing close scrutiny of Trump’s actions during the deadly riot, which the panel says he did nothing to stop but instead “gleefully” watched on television at the White House. The hearing room was packed for what could be the last hearing this summer. The panel is diving into the 187 minutes that Trump failed to act on Jan. 6, 2021, despite pleas from aides, allies, and even his family. The panel argues that the defeated President’s lies about a stolen election and attempts to overturn Biden’s election victory fueled the attack.

The Jan. 6 committee does a deeper dive into Donald Trump’s actions. Image via AP.

Top Trump lawyers briefed in detail on alternate elector plot on Dec. 13, 2020” via Betsy Woodruff Swan of POLITICO — As Trump struggled to remain in power in late 2020, an anchor for a far-right TV network briefed a group of the President’s lawyers in detail on a plot to mobilize so-called alternate pro-Trump electors. On Dec. 13, 2020, the day before electors gathered to cast their states’ presidential votes as required by law, Christina Bobb of One America News emailed several Trump campaign aides and allies to discuss arrangements for the false electors. Teeing up those pro-Trump electors to represent states that Biden won in 2020 was a linchpin of Trump’s efforts to challenge his loss.

Trump questions Mike Pence’s Jan. 6 actions, electoral count reform bill ahead of dueling Arizona rallies” via Jared Gans of The Hill — Former President Trump reiterated his view that former Vice President Pence could have refused to certify the results of the 2020 Presidential Election as the pair are set to hold events backing opposing candidates in a contested GOP Arizona Gubernatorial Primary. Trump said in a statement from his Save America PAC that Pence told him he did not have the power to reject votes from the Electoral College. The former President questioned why, if that were the case, “Democrats and RINOs,” meaning Republicans in name only, are working to pass a bill to make clear that the Vice President only has a ceremonial role in counting the results of a Presidential Election.

Melania Trump says she was ‘unaware’ of the Jan. 6 insurrection as it was happening” via Kate Bennett of CNN — Former First Lady Trump said in a new interview with Fox that she was “unaware” of the ongoing riot on Jan. 6, 2021, because she was too busy photographing a rug in the White House. “On Jan. 6, 2021, I was fulfilling one of my duties as First Lady of the United States of America, and accordingly, I was unaware of what was simultaneously transpiring at the U.S. Capitol Building,” she said. Trump said it was her “duty” as the First Lady to archive the contents of the White House, which is not exactly true. The White House curator and the White House Historical Association are predominantly responsible for keeping a record of the contents of the official White House collection.

— MORE LOCAL: S. FL —

Parkland school shooter acted casually after fleeing” via The Associated Press — Nikolas Cruz walked casually into a sandwich shop minutes after he murdered 14 students and three staff members at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School four years ago, showing no signs of stress or nervousness. After the shooting, Cruz fled the building, dressed in a burgundy shirt from the Stoneman Douglas Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps — he had been a member when he attended the school — and a New York City Police Department cap.

Parkland shooter slipped away in panic and chaos at high school, calmly went into fast-food places, videos in court show” via Natalia Galicza of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — For three days, survivors of the Parkland mass shooting provided graphic witness accounts of the chaos and uncertainty at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, 2018. Students and teachers displayed their scars and braces, their firsthand accounts of the murders, and their confusion at whether the alarm that blared that Wednesday afternoon signified a drill or a real threat. But on the fourth day of the trial, the jury was offered something else: A look at the confessed gunman and his composure after he fled. Surveillance videos shared in the courtroom showed Cruz ordering an ICEE at a Subway inside a Coral Springs Walmart and slipping into a booth at a nearby McDonald’s.

Monster: After murdering 17 people, Nikolas Cruz was … chill. Image via AP.

Palm Beach County’s official COVID-19 case counts are dropping, but sewage reveals a surge” via Chris Persaud of the Palm Beach Post — As Palm Beach County’s coronavirus case count falls, sewage shows infections are surging. Viral levels reached their third highest level of the year, wastewater data released by the Loxahatchee River District shows. The water treatment facility, which services the Jupiter-Tequesta area, has recorded increasing concentrations of the pathogen since mid-to-late June. COVID-19 infections documented by state health officials have fallen over the past month. The district’s wastewater sample sent Monday to Boston-based Biobot Analytics had 2,500 viral particles per milliliter. That’s the most detected since June 6, the second-highest date this year. The highest level detected came on Jan. 3.

Sunrise Police sergeant in throat-grabbing video arrested on battery, assault charges” via Angie DiMichele of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A police sergeant with more than two decades on the force is now facing battery and assault charges months after he grabbed a female officer by the throat and wielded pepper spray during a heated arrest in Sunrise. A Sunrise Police Department spokesperson confirmed in an email that an arrest warrant was issued for Sgt. Christopher Pullease. He is facing charges of battery on an officer, tampering with evidence, assault on an officer and assault on a civilian male, the Broward State Attorney’s Office said in a news release. Pullease, 47, was booked into the Broward Main Jail on Thursday afternoon, jail records show. The 21-year veteran was placed on paid administrative leave in January.

More than 150 migrants on an overloaded sailboat grounded off Miami-Dade, Coast Guard says” via David Goodhue, Gwen Filosa and Jacqueline Charles of the Miami Herald — An overloaded sailboat carrying more than 150 migrants was stopped by the U.S. Coast Guard and other agencies Thursday morning off Boca Chita Key, a small Upper Florida Keys island located in south Miami-Dade County. By late afternoon, the Coast Guard said in a statement that it had begun loading the people onto cutters to be returned to their “country of origin,” which is believed to be Haiti. Petty Officer Nicole Groll, Coast Guard District 7 spokesperson, said that after the boat grounded off Boca Chita, situated within Biscayne National Park, all its passengers remained on the vessel.

These judicial candidates have earned a seat in Miami-Dade County Court” via the Miami Herald editorial board — Group 5: Fred Seraphin made history in 2001 when he became the first Haitian American judge in the county, appointed by then-Gov. Jeb Bush. He said being a judge is a calling spurred by personal experiences with injustice. Seraphin brings institutional knowledge to this race. Group 19: Incumbent Jeffrey Kolokoff, appointed to the post in 2020 by DeSantis, will face election for the first time this year. Though he has only been on the bench for a little over two years, we believe Kolokoff’s experience makes him the best qualified in this race. Group 42: Alicia Garcia Priovolos has been a prosecutor for 17 years, working on homicide cases and, as of 2018, as the director of the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s human trafficking unit. Garcia Priovolos’ resume and engagement in the community tip the scale in her favor.

‘All we are doing is enforcing the law’: County’s code-enforcement efforts draw ire at forum” via Mike Diamond of The Palm Beach Post — Overzealous code-enforcement agents? Or public servants protecting the quality of life for law-abiding residents? State Rep. Rick Roth clearly came down on the side of overzealousness during a three-hour meeting this week. He called it to hear complaints from business owners who alleged that Palm Beach County’s Division of Code Enforcement has been overly aggressive in recent years, forcing some of them to relocate or close due to what some called “harassment.”

Pompano Beach gun buyback event could fetch participants up to $150” via Chris Perkins of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — A Broward Sheriff’s Office drive-thru gun buyback program scheduled for Saturday in Pompano Beach has the potential to earn $150 in gift cards for those who bring in weapons, officials said. The Broward Sheriff’s Office, in partnership with the city of Pompano Beach, said the event is designed to collect and keep unwanted firearms off the street. Assault rifles or weapons (magazine or belt fed) are worth $150, semi-automatic pistols (.45 caliber, .50 caliber and above, and FN 5.7) and shotguns or long rifles (bolt action operated FN 5.7 and .50 caliber) are worth $100, revolvers and semi-automatic pistols are worth $75, and small-caliber pistols and rifles are worth $25.

— MORE LOCAL: C. FL —

DeSantis awards $430,000 to Manatee Technical College through the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund for workforce development” via Office of Ron DeSantis — Today, Gov. DeSantis awarded $430,000 to Manatee Technical College through the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund. The award funds a Diesel Systems Technology course to prepare a highly skilled workforce for in-demand occupations in the transportation, distribution, and logistics industries. “Advancing Florida’s workforce continues to be a top priority for my administration and this program will further expand opportunities for Floridians to gain skills as diesel technicians — one of the state’s most in-demand industries,” said DeSantis.

Manatee Technical College gets a nice six-figure boost.

Hillsborough budget plan tops $8.5 billion” via C.T. Bowen of the Tampa Bay Times — Hillsborough County Commissioners will consider a nearly $8.56 billion budget for the coming fiscal year, a 14.4% spending increase financed by rising property values, new construction joining the tax rolls and proceeds from the community investment sales tax. County Administrator Bonnie Wise’s budget proposal, released Wednesday, is heavy on public safety spending. It includes nearly $40 million more for Sheriff Chad Chronister’s office, $10 million to renovate the county jail, more than $4 million for a new fire station in Sun City Center and 21 firefighters to staff it, upgrades to other fire-rescue units and $29 million for construction of a new warehouse for the emergency management and fire departments.

Pinellas teachers ask for major raise. ‘Be realistic,’ district says.” via Jeffrey S. Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — Citing inflationary pressures among the highest in the nation, Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association leaders asked the school district for an 11.3% raise. The request matches the county’s cost of living index increase over the past year, union President Nancy Velardi said. It would show teachers the district’s commitment to them when living here has become more difficult to afford. Officials representing the school district acknowledged the need to remain competitive for a shrinking number of job candidates while retaining the existing faculty. Laurie Dart, the district’s lawyer, said the union’s request would cost close to $53 million. The district’s finance team calculated that the budget has about $18.4 million available for raises for all employees, not just teachers.

Central Florida construction firm: Ex-employee snatched personal records in data breach” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — A construction company says an employee who quit his job downloaded and stole a trove of confidential information before he left. On his way out the door, the ex-employee obtained documents such as the company’s bank account statements and tax returns as well as 401K information containing employees’ names, Social Security numbers, birthdates and their compensation, according to federal court documents. Williams Company Management Group – which has offices in Maitland and Tampa – notified law enforcement, the company said in a federal lawsuit filed this week against its former employee, Paul Comazzi.

— MORE LOCAL: SW. FL —

National Hurricane Center watching three tropical waves. Nothing expected over next five days” via Cheryl McCloud of the Naples Daily News — The Atlantic basin remains quiet, with no areas of concern appearing on National Hurricane Center maps. Forecasters are keeping an eye on three tropical waves, including one in the Caribbean. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 through Nov. 30. The peak of the season is Sept. 10, with the most activity happening between mid-August and mid-October, according to the Hurricane Center. The next named storm in the Atlantic basin will be Danielle.

Water quality update: Bonita Beach bacteria advisory removed” via Amy Bennett Williams of the Fort Myers News-Press — The water at Bonita Beach is now within the safety threshold for fecal bacteria and the health department has lifted a warning issued earlier this month. After several rounds of testing starting July 11 showed unsafe levels of enterococci bacteria, found in the digestive tracts of humans and animals, the Florida Department of Health in Lee County posted signs advising people not to swim or wade at the popular Hickory Boulevard Beach.

The signs come down — for now.

Sarasota County Schools: Meal prices are up this year” via Sue Erwin of the North Port Sun — After two years of free lunches and breakfasts for Sarasota County Schools students, there will be a cost to meals again. Charlotte County students won’t feel that impact, though. Their meals remain free. But when school starts on Aug. 10, students in Sarasota County public schools who aren’t eligible for free meals will have to start paying again. And they’ll pay more than they did before. The Sarasota County School Board unanimously approved meal price increases for the 2022-23 school year.

More development approved for Englewood’s north end” via Barb Richardson of the Port Charlotte Sun — Sarasota County Commissioners approved two rezoning petitions recently to bring more houses to a fast-growing area on the north end of Englewood. Described as cluster subdivisions, both petitions requested a zoning change from open-use estates to residential designations. MBR South is a 20-acre parcel north of the improved portion of Stoner Road and east and south of the first phase of Beachwalk at Manasota Key, which is under development. Beachwalk, in the northern part of Englewood near Manasota Key, is in the midst of development. Now developers want to build on property that will link up with Beachwalk’s entrance on State Road 776. The developer plans to build 39 units on the property, which would be connected to the Beachwalk development, thus providing access to S.R. 776.

— MORE LOCAL: N. FLORIDA —

Casey DeSantis hands $5K checks to five nonprofits as part of ‘Hope Florida’ initiative” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — As part of her Hope Florida initiative connecting nonprofit charities doing social work with public and private funding, First Lady DeSantis handed out $5,000 each to five groups in Northwest Florida on Thursday. The groups help those with autism and other special needs, shelter domestic violence victims, and feed and clothe low-income children and families in need. DeSantis noted part of her initiative is a portal, along with ‘care navigators’ within the Department of Children and Families, allowing single moms with a specific need — bunk beds and mattresses, in her example — to connect with local charities. The charities typically take over from there, she said.

It’s Casey DeSantis’ turn to hand out the big checks.

DBPR Secretary to deliver FSU commencement speeches” via Aimee Sachs of Florida Politics — Melanie Griffin, the Secretary of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, will be the commencement speaker at Florida State University’s upcoming summer graduation ceremonies. Griffin was appointed to her post by DeSantis in December 2021. The Tampa lawyer is a triple graduate of FSU. After earning her bachelor’s degree in finance from the FSU College of Business, she went on to get a master’s degree in business administration and a juris doctor. Griffin is a lawyer for Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick and senior adviser for business-to-business relationships with Shumaker Advisors Florida, as well as president of the executive board of the Hillsborough Association for Women Lawyers.

All five together for first time: Jacksonville’s sheriff candidates address transparency, school shootings” via Dan Scanlan of The Florida Times-Union — It was a massacre of innocents 1,100 miles away, leaving 19 students and two teachers dead on May 24 at a school in Uvalde, Texas. But what if it was happening in Jacksonville? If a gunman forced his way into a school and began firing, what would the four men and one woman running for Jacksonville Sheriff in the Aug. 23 Special Election do as the city’s top cop? That was one of the final questions directed at them during Wednesday evening’s “Meet the Candidates” event. T.K. Waters, who just retired as the Sheriff’s Office’s chief of investigations, said he would make sure his officers are there to support the school police.

Lettman-Hicks asks to delay trial with Andrew Gillum on corruption charges” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — Gillum’s longtime adviser and co-defendant, Sharon Lettman-Hicks, has asked for a continuance in her public-corruption trial with the former Tallahassee mayor and candidate for governor. In a motion filed Thursday in federal court, Lettman-Hicks’ lawyers, Robert Morris and Mutaqee Akbar of Tallahassee, asked that the trial be rescheduled to a later date. “The defense is not prepared for trial,” the lawyers wrote. “The case involves voluminous discovery which is ongoing. The government and the defense have been working diligently in the discovery process. A trial is believed to require two weeks.”

Waste Management won’t add fines for overstuffing trash cans in Destin” via Tom McLaughlin of the Northwest Florida Daily News — Issues raised at a recent City Council meeting have convinced Waste Management to back off its plan to fine Destin residents for overstuffing their garbage cans or contaminating their recyclables. By using advanced truck technology and enlisting the help of the city’s code compliance team, the sanitation company has determined it can address issues it has been facing in Destin without relying on threats to fine customers. A memo from Waste Management Public Sector Solutions agent Doug Rainer said language addressing fees for overage and contamination would be removed from a contract the company is negotiating for renewal with the city.

Waste Management is giving Destin residents a break.

Walton approves $200K for Tri-State Christian Camp construction. Is grant constitutional?” via Tom McLaughlin of the Northwest Florida Daily News — The Walton County Commission’s meeting agenda for July 12 said nothing about allocating nearly $200,000 to the Tri-State Christian Camp for construction of a stand-alone shelter, but the board voted unanimously to do just that. With the same vote, Commissioners also entered into a memorandum of understanding with camp officials that will allow the county to use the shelter and the rest of the 47-acre Tri-State Christian Camp property in the event of a disaster. It’s one of those arrangements most folks would call a win-win. Except that it might also violate the No Aid Clause of the Florida Constitution.

Bankrupt Black News Channel bought by media group for $11 million with plans to grow” via Christopher Cann of the Tallahassee Democrat — The Black News Channel has been purchased by Allen Media Group, a cluster of media companies that includes the Weather Channel and HBCU GO. The sale comes more than three months after the channel suddenly shut down and laid off 233 workers with less than a 24-hour notice. The sale of substantially all of BNC’s assets for $11 million was approved by the Northern District of Florida, Tallahassee Division of the United States Bankruptcy Court, on Wednesday.

Fort Pickens’ ‘disappearing guns’ of Battery Cooper are now open for all to see” via Kamal Morgan of the Pensacola News Journal — After a COVID-related hiatus, people can once again get up close and personal with Fort Pickens’ “disappearing guns.” The Gulf Islands National Seashore has announced that the interior of Battery Cooper in Fort Pickens is now open to the public. Battery Cooper is a coastal gun battery on Fort Pickens that initially held two guns on disappearing carriages. Although the exterior of the battery has remained viewable by visitors, the interior of the bunker was closed off during the pandemic due to COVID-19 restrictions and staffing limitations. However, since many restrictions have been lifted, park officials have added staff and implemented operational changes allowing the installation to be opened up to the public again.

— TOP OPINION —

I was wrong about Trump voters” via Bret Stephens of The New York Times — What were they seeing that I wasn’t?

That ought to have been the first question to ask myself. When I looked at Trump, I saw a bigoted blowhard making one ignorant argument after another. What Trump’s supporters saw was a candidate whose entire being was a proudly raised middle finger at a self-satisfied elite that had produced a failing status quo.

I was blind to this. I could have thought a little harder about the fact that, in my dripping condescension toward his supporters, I was also confirming their suspicions about people like me — people who talked a good game about the virtues of empathy but practice it only selectively; people unscathed by the country’s problems yet unembarrassed to propound solutions.

I also could have given Trump voters more credit for nuance.

For every in-your-face MAGA warrior there were plenty of ambivalent Trump supporters, doubtful of his ability and dismayed by his manner, who were willing to take their chances on him because he had the nerve to defy deeply flawed conventional pieties.

Nor were they impressed by Trump critics who had their own penchant for hypocrisy and outright slander. To this day, precious few anti-Trumpers have been honest with themselves about the elaborate hoax — there’s just no other word for it — that was the Steele dossier and all the bogus allegations, credulously parroted in the mainstream media, that flowed from it.

— OPINIONS —

No wonder Biden is angry” via John F. Harris of POLITICO — Biden lately has been ill-tempered about two intertwined storylines. Lots of Democrats do not wish him to seek a second term, and long-standing speculation about whether he is showing age-related decline is increasingly at the center of his coverage. “Read the polls, Jack. You guys are all the same,” Biden lectured a reporter who asked about his weakening support among Democrats. In some accounts, that snappish response was itself cited as possible evidence of diminished faculties. That seems distinctly unfair.

Joe Henderson: Was Fried’s ‘A’ game enough in only Dem Governor’s race debate?” via Florida Politics — It was her big chance, and Fried fought to make the most of it, but she had a few things working against her. Fried’s chance to make a big splash probably evaporated in the decision of local programmers, such as the NBC affiliate in Tampa, choosing to shift the debate to a “sister satellite” little followed TV station. I don’t think Fried’s points are all that desperate at all. It’s what she has been saying all along. DeSantis is a divider who appeals by attacking those who disagree with him. The Governor froze Fried out of her Cabinet-level roles, mostly because she dared disagree with him. She was frustrated and fought back, but I’m not sure how many people were paying attention. Fried faces that problem now.

Miami-Dade School Board embraces book banning. Is this what ‘parental rights’ look like?” via the Miami Herald editorial board — Florida’s book-banning movement has found friendly ears on the Miami-Dade County School Board. After a marathon meeting on Wednesday, the Board showed that when DeSantis and his allies flex their muscles, the largest school district in the state will fold. In a 5-4 vote, the Board reversed an earlier decision to adopt a new sex-education textbook for the 2022-23 school year. Banning books is slowly becoming standard practice in Florida education. The Department of Education recently rejected 54 math textbooks, claiming they contained prohibited content such as critical race theory.

Think you can’t fight City Hall? Remember the Red Shirts” via Rob Bradley for Jacksonville Today — There is a lot of frustration with government these days. Inflation and the lingering effects of the pandemic have many folks in a sour mood and feeling powerless. “You can’t fight City Hall” is a mantra I occasionally hear. It’s the idea that one person or a small group can’t make a difference. Well, don’t tell that to the “Save Our Lakes” organization in the Keystone Heights region. This group, which advocates while wearing their familiar red shirts, has fought for decades to restore the Keystone lakes. And now, they have achieved a historic victory. The Red Shirts had a right to demand action. The Keystone lakes have slowly faded away over the years. Some lakefront property owners can no longer see water from their back porch.

— WEEKEND TV —

Battleground Florida with Evan Donovan on News Channel 8 WFLA (NBC): Pre-empted by the Tour de France on NBC.

ABC Action News Full Circle with Paul LaGrone on Channel 10 WFTS: Former Congressman Jim Davis, USF political science professor Dr. Susan MacManus, reporter Michael Paluska on the Florida Primary and Capitol Correspondent Forrest Saunders on the Crist vs. Fried debate.

Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at South Florida’s politics and other issues affecting the region.

In Focus with Allison Walker on Bay News 9/CF 13: A discussion about the 2022 hurricane season and preparations that residents can do right now to help mitigate the effects of any potential storm. Joining Walker are U.S. Rep. Darren Soto; Alan Harris, Chief Administrator, Seminole County Office of Emergency Management; and Mallory Nicholls, Spectrum News 13 certified meteorologist.

Political Connections on Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: A look at the Turning Point USA Student Action Summit in Tampa, the LGBTQ Democratic Caucus in Fort Lauderdale, and a recap of the Democratic Gubernatorial Debate.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: Candidates Chris Messina and Tony Sabb will discuss their campaigns for Orange County Mayor.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Pollster Steve Vancore and Molly Clore, director of Foster Family Support, NWF Health.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Senate President Wilton Simpson, Jacksonville Sheriff candidates Wayne Clark and T.K. Waters.

— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —

— ALOE —

Company plans 6,000+ electric vehicle chargers in Florida” via The Associated Press — A New Zealand-based company announced Thursday it plans to install more than 6,000 electric vehicle chargers in Florida over the coming months, mainly at commercial sites, parking lots and other developments. Invisible Urban Charging, based in Auckland, New Zealand, is partnering with Dallas-based Lincoln Property Co. to make chargers available for all models of electric vehicles. The first ones are being installed at the new Truist Plaza, a Lincoln Property building in downtown Orlando. The goal is to encourage more people to switch to electric vehicles while at the same time providing local jobs, improving air quality, reducing oil dependence, and contributing to the fight against climate change.

Comic-Con returns in full force with costumes, crowds” of The Associated Press — The pop culture extravaganza that is Comic-Con International is back to its old extravagance. Stars, cosplayers, and hordes of fans are filling the San Diego Convention Center in full force for the first time since 2019. Here’s a look at this year’s version of the four-day festival. The pandemic necessitated virtual versions of Comic-Con in the summers of 2020 and 2021 and a scaled-back in-person version in November, but none were anything like the usual spectacle, with lovers of all things geeky descending from around the globe and arena-sized panels on films and TV shows that resemble sporting events.

Cosplay has returned!

Old campaigns live again at the Old Capitol” via Bill Cotterell of the Tallahassee Democrat — The Firestone Blimp is a campaign gimmick, a little plastic thank-you given to top political supporters by former Florida legislator George Firestone in his successful 1978 race for secretary of state. It’s on display at the entrance of an exhibit dubbed “Vote For Me! Historic Campaigning in Florida” at the Historic Capitol, opening on Thursday and running through Election Day, Nov. 8. The main feature is bumper stickers — dozens of them, all from past campaigns. There’s no partisan favoritism, no current candidates or pending ballot initiatives — just a lot of memories, names and faces of the once-powerful.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Best wishes to Sen. Vic Torres, Rep. Alex Andrade, House candidate Jen Canady, Chris Cantens, Eric Draper, the great Vic DiMaio, Kasey Lewis, Desmond Meade, Tim Meenan, Megan Ramba, Missy Timmins, and David Warner. Belated wishes to Kelly Reichelderfer.

___

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


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