Good Thursday morning.
U.S. Rep. Val Demings had been gaining momentum in her bid to boot U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio from office, but a new poll indicates she may have hit her ceiling.
Center Street PAC’s latest measure of the race shows Rubio with a 52% to 41% advantage among likely voters, with 7% of voters undecided. The gap shrinks to 46%-39% among registered voters, but they’re less reliable by definition.
This is the third poll that Center Street PAC has published on the race, and the prior measures — released in March and July — showed Demings was making significant gains in favorability and among unaffiliated and undecided voters.
That momentum did not carry into the new poll, which found that about one in five voters were unaware of her. Among those who said they were familiar with Demings, the sentiment is trending toward neutrality.
“Based on the data, Demings has more work to do to improve her awareness and image with voters. Right now, her campaign has to focus on the basics: getting Demings established in voters’ minds,” said Center Street Co-Founder Matt O’Brien. “There will be time down the line to get to issues and comparison ads against Rubio.”
Unseating Rubio was always going to be an uphill battle, but Republicans’ advantage in voter enthusiasm and voter registration is only making it tougher, the committee said, especially with Florida Republicans sticking by their guy more so than GOP voters in other states.
“In the Senate races we have seen in Arizona, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Utah, 15% of Republicans or more have crossed the party line to vote for the Democrat. But Florida Republicans are staying loyal to Rubio. Consistently, less than 10% have said they’d cross over to Demings,” said Center Street Chief Analytics Officer Dr. Kurt Jetta.
The Center Street poll was conducted Aug. 12-14, 2022. Its sample included 1,200 adults, including 996 registered voters and 610 likely voters.
Here are some other thoughts:
💣 — Just like in Dr. Strangelove, there are messages written on the bombs the U.S. is sending east to be used against the Russians. But Americans aren’t writing them — according to WaPo’s John Hudson and Kostiantyn Khudov, people from America and elsewhere are paying Ukrainians to scrawl them on as part of a novel fundraising effort.
📚 — The fall semester is here. As college students head back to campus and start filling lecture halls, Florida Politics is highlighting those in The Process who help make Florida’s higher education system one of the nation’s best.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@CharlieCrist: Ron DeSantis bragging about a $22 billion budget surplus in front of a “Recruiting Teachers” sign is a perfect encapsulation of the “leadership” we’ve seen from him these past 4 years. PS, we’re ranked 48th in teacher pay and have 9,000 current vacancies.
—@NateMonroeTU: the thing that really stands out to me is the decidedly pro-DeSantis take woven throughout the gags — almost as if someone is goading him into taking on FPL
—@andrewsparfea: An important reminder from Bay County Superintendent (Bill) Husfelt — teachers without formal education training leave the profession at more quickly than those who are professionally trained — sometimes MUCH quicker, like within the first week of school. @FloridaEA #FundOurFutureFL
—@scontorno: According to the draft, pension fund managers can’t consider “social, political, or ideological interests” when investing, just risk/return of investment. Notably, the policy doesn’t explicitly prohibit environmental considerations, a key pillar of ESG.
— DAYS UNTIL —
‘House of the Dragon’ premieres on HBO — 3; 2022 Florida Primary — 5; launch window opens for NASA to launch the Artemis I — 10; 2022 Florida Chamber Technology & Innovation Solution Summit — 13; ‘Andor’ premieres on Disney+ — 13; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 15; NFL Opening Night: LA Rams vs. Buffalo Bills — 21; 2022 Emmys — 24; JMI’s 2022 Tech & Innovation Summit begins — 28; final season of ‘Atlanta’ begins — 28; vote-by-mail mailing deadline for General Election — 49; deadline to register for General Election — 53; 22-23 NHL season begins — 54; Everglades Foundation ‘Before You Vote’ TV debates (Senate) — 61; Everglades Foundation ‘Before You Vote’ TV debates (Governor) — 63; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 68; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 68; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 69; Early voting begins for General Election — 73; 2022 General Election — 82; ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ premieres — 85; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 85; FITCon 2022 begins — 91; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 91; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 95; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 95; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 96; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 104; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 104; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 120; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 183; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 201; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 218; American Association of Political Consultants Pollies’ 23 conference begins — 243; 2023 Session Sine Die — 260; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 260; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 288; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 337; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 442; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 456; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 589; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 708; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 708; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 813; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 988.
— TOP STORY —
“Democrats face first test in bid to defeat Ron DeSantis” via Tim Craig of The Washington Post — The race has highlighted simmering fissures within the Florida Democratic Party and on the political left more broadly that could carry over into the General Election campaign. Whereas the Nikki Fried camp says a candidate with solid liberal credentials is the best way to energize the base, Charlie Crist’s supporters contend the only way to win against DeSantis is to find someone who will draw voters from the center of the aisle.
If elected, Fried would become Florida’s first female Governor and the first Democrat to hold the office in more than two decades. But in an especially painful blow to Fried, several influential women’s rights organizations have decided to stay neutral in the Primary.
“I have known a lot of these people for a while, and I think that is part of it,” Crist said in an interview. “There is familiarity, and trust and relationships that matter honed over a decent period of time, and that makes a difference.”
But some are worried that Crist’s shift from Republican to Democrat years ago could make him highly vulnerable to attacks from DeSantis — and that the disaffected Republican voters Democrats are hoping to win over would ultimately be more drawn to Fried. In recent days, polls have shown that the gap between Crist and Fried is starting to narrow.
Several Democrats compared the choice to the decision faced in 2020, when they were desperate to defeat Donald Trump.
— 2022 —
“State lawmakers, activists warn that DeSantis plans to ban abortions after November election” via Issac Morgan of Florida Phoenix — A week from the August Primary Election, Democratic lawmakers are warning that DeSantis will further restrict access to abortion care, an issue that Florida voters may consider when casting their ballots. Although the Republican Governor hasn’t publicly stated plans to expand on the current 15-week abortion ban in Florida, state Sen. Randolph Bracy on Tuesday told reporters during a news conference in Orlando that DeSantis will act on a complete ban on abortions in the state. “He (DeSantis) is planning to call a Special Session in November; that is what he has signaled,” said Bracy.
“Charlie Crist releases another internal showing dominating Primary lead” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A new poll released by Crist’s campaign for Governor is showing him with a massive lead in the Democratic Primary. Pollster GBAO Strategies found 52% of likely Democratic voters plan to vote for Crist, compared to 36% who favor Fried. With a majority of voters behind Crist, it would mean the only pathway for Fried would be to win over nearly all undecided voters and peel off substantial support from Crist. The results do show the race tightening somewhat. This survey was taken from July 27-31, and the same polling firm in June found Crist leading Fried 55% to 34%.
Crist adds $12K to broadcast flight — Crist’s campaign added $12,399 to its current statewide broadcast flight. The new spending expands the campaign that began Tuesday and runs through the Primary Election. It covers broadcast ads airing in Ft. Myers, Gainesville, Jacksonville, Mobile, Orlando, Panama City, Tallahassee and Tampa markets.
Assignment editors — Crist continues his “Hope for Florida” tour virtually to connect with Floridians across the state and share his vision of a Florida for All. He will join David Harbeitner, chair of Sierra Club of Florida and environment leaders from across the state for a virtual get-out-the-vote event, where Crist is expected to make a major campaign announcement: Virtual GOTV rally with environmental Leaders, 10 a.m.; virtual special announcement with FLARA, 11 a.m.; virtual Gen Z panel: ‘The Future We Inherit,’ 11 a.m. Zoom links upon RSVP at [email protected].
“Nikki Fried slams DeSantis, Surgeon General for medical cannabis ‘disaster’” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Fried is speaking out with sharp criticisms of the state’s medical cannabis program changes under DeSantis‘ second Surgeon General, Dr. Joseph Ladapo. “He is really hurting patients every single day,” Fried, a medical cannabis patient and former marijuana lobbyist, told Florida Politics during an interview Wednesday in Jacksonville. Fried went on to list a number of issues where the Florida Department of Health’s Office of Medical Marijuana Use has suffered under the current Surgeon General, whom she says is nothing short of a “disaster” for the cannabis program. Many of these complaints converged on increasing access for smaller-capital and minority growers to enter Florida’s surging cannabis space.
“Nikki Fried says she’s frustrated by sexist ‘double standard’ on campaign trail” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — As her speech in Tallahassee showed, Fried’s closing argument is very much targeted at female voters. This is in part because of the uncertainty of the post-Dobbs reproductive health climate, but also illustrates what she perceives as a sexist double standard in how the Primary race has been framed by media, regarding recent tough reporting about a variety of issues, including her former friendship with Matt Gaetz and other negative stories. “Absolutely a double standard,” Fried told Florida Politics. “That’s why it’s also important that a woman gets elected Governor, to break that glass ceiling. Because the sexism that we feel on an everyday basis, asking if I’m qualified, asking if I’m electable. Those are not questions that get asked to male counterparts.”
“Fried hopes ‘blue wave’ can save Dems in Ag Commissioner race” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — The Democratic field includes three candidates, two of which have had issues documented that could be weaponized in the General Election. Naomi Blemur saw endorsements dry up after scabrous social media posts of hers were highlighted. Ryan Morales has attempted to contextualize reports of domestic turmoil he calls “the recent exploitation of a deeply personal family member” by a blog. A third candidate, J.R. Gaillot, has not dealt with oppo dumps, but has never caught on with voters in previous runs over the last decade. There does not appear to be a candidate who can win against Senate President Wilton Simpson, the expected GOP nominee who has more than $4 million in cash on hand.
Assignment editors — Fried will continue her “Something New” Bus Tour: 9 a.m., Alachua County Library District, Millhopper Branch, 3145 NW 43rd St., Gainesville; noon, Alachua County Library District, Tower Road Branch, 3020 SW 75th St., Gainesville; 6 p.m., Alafaya Library, 12000 E. Colonial Dr., Orlando; 7:15 p.m., law offices of Conti Moore 815 N. Magnolia Ave., Suite 100, Orlando.
“Retailers back Jimmy Patronis for re-election” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — The Florida Retail Federation is endorsing Patronis for re-election. In a news release, the industry group said Patronis has protected Florida’s economy and worked with retailers to ensure “the state’s marketplace remains open, fair and free.” “Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis is a champion for businesses throughout Florida, especially Florida’s retailers. Under his leadership, we’ve maintained a fair, free and open marketplace, where businesses can compete and prosper. The Florida Retail Federation is proud to back CFO Patronis for re-election,” said FRF President and CEO R. Scott Shalley.
“J.R. Gaillot accuses Ag Commish opponents’ staff of calling him a ‘slave’ and ‘Nazi’” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Gaillot, one of two leading candidates for the Democratic nomination, is accusing high-ranking staff members on each of his opponents’ campaigns of leveling insensitive personal attacks against him. With less than a week to go until the Primary Election, tensions are running high among Democratic candidates in the already-turbulent campaign for Agriculture Commissioner. Much of the three-way Primary has been fought on Twitter, and that played out again Wednesday, when Gaillot shared posts made by staff of his opponents, Naomi Blemur and Ryan Morales.
“Planned Parenthood Votes kicks off $50M ‘Take Control’ 2022 electoral program” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — Planned Parenthood Votes is launching a $50 million 2022 electoral program, “Take Control,” to help elect champions for sexual and reproductive health care and rights. Planned Parenthood Votes also launched a 2022 electoral website. Take Control/Toma el Control will serve as a hub for information about Planned Parenthood Action Fund-endorsed candidates, key races, and how to get involved with Planned Parenthood advocacy and political organizations this cycle.
— 2022: CONG —
Political committees hit satellite, cable in CD 7 — Two committees have booked new ad flights in the race for Florida’s 7th Congressional District. The first, Fight to Win America PAC, spent $4,000 on ads that will air on satellite TV in the Orlando market today through Monday. FEC filings do not indicate which candidate the buy is intended to support or oppose. A second committee, American Liberty Action PAC, has put $10,708 behind cable ads that will air today through the election on networks including A&E, Discovery, HGTV, Investigation Discovery and TLC. According to FEC filings, the committee is running ads opposing state Rep. Anthony Sabatini.
“Kevin Hayslett touts endorsement from Michael Flynn” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Flynn is endorsing Hayslett. The announcement comes less than a week away from the GOP Primary in Florida’s 13th Congressional District. Flynn served as the former President’s first National Security Adviser. “We need leaders who will stand up against the establishment and those in the Washington D.C. swamp. Kevin is that type of leader. He is a solid, reliable, consistent conservative and the only Trump Republican running for Congress in FL-13,” Flynn said in a statement.
New ad bashes ‘pro-amnesty’ Anna Paulina Luna — A new TV ad produced by political committee Stand for Florida slams says Republican Luna is “pro-amnesty” and highlights a now-deleted blog post where she said she once considered herself a Democrat and was “a two time very avid supporter of (Barack) Obama … ” For those reasons, the ad suggests conservatives look elsewhere for “fighters they can trust.” The ad pivots to extolling Republican Hayslett, who is described as “a tough-on-crime prosecutor who will take the fight to the socialists” and a “pro-Trump law-and-order conservative outsider.” Notably, Trump has endorsed Luna in the race for Florida’s 13th Congressional District.
To watch the ad, please click on the image below:
Jerry Torres spends $12K on ads in CD 14 — Republican candidate Torres has booked a new cable flight in the race for Florida’s 14th Congressional District. According to AdImpact, the media buy was made through Political Communications Advertising and will place Torres’ ads on Fox News within the Tampa media market Friday through the end of the Primary. Torres is one of three Republicans running to unseat incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor.
“Star-studded ¡Vamos Florida! weekend backs Annette Taddeo, primes Miami women for Primary Election” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — This past weekend proved fruitful for progressive, politically minded celebrities with an eye on the Sunshine State, as dozens of celebrated performers, journalists and activists with roots in Latin America united for the “¡Vamos Florida! Weekend of Action.” Led by Latino Victory co-founder Eva Longoria, Chair Luis Miranda and President and CEO Nathalie Rayes, the two-day festivities featured a series of events encouraging women to support climate-minded candidates, most notably state Sen. Taddeo, who is running for Congress.
— 2022: LEG. —
“Do Michael Johnson, Grassroots for America only believe in ‘original’ Bill of Rights?” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A right-wing group striving to take over Seminole County Republican politics and running a Sarasota Senate candidate drew scrutiny over a seemingly exclusionary mission statement. “Our mission is to attract citizens who practice personal responsibility, good citizenship, follow the rule of law, and who support the United States Constitution, as well as the ‘original’ Bill of Rights,” reads the About Us section. The language was found during research on Johnson, an activist who just moved to Sarasota to challenge state Sen. Joe Gruters.
“‘Spews that lie over and over again’: Is there anything positive in showdown between Lauren Book and Barbara Sharief?” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — As Book and Sharief compete ferociously for a seat in the Florida Senate, there’s little, if anything, that’s forward-thinking or positive in Broward’s hottest political contest of the summer. Book and Sharief, along with their allies, have been shredding each other for months as each seeks votes in new state Senate District 35, which is mostly south and west of Florida’s Turnpike. Sharief had this to say about one of her opponent’s comments: “She spews that lie over and over again and, I might ask, if you can spew that, what other things are you lying about?”
“Giffords PAC endorses ‘Gun Safety Champion’ Janelle Perez for SD 38” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Gun safety group Giffords PAC is endorsing Perez in the race for Senate District 38 alongside several candidates for local office in Miami-Dade County. Giffords PAC was founded by former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. “Too many Floridians have lost their lives and so many more survivors face a future that’s been marked by gun violence. Florida’s current leaders are not doing enough. That’s why Giffords is proud to endorse this slate of gun safety champions in Miami-Dade who will prioritize gun violence prevention and support commonsense measures like universal background checks while opposing dangerous proposals like permitless concealed carry,” she said.
“Anna Eskamani committee targets high schoolers in latest voter registration drive” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Rep. Eskamani’s political committee is launching a high school outreach program to register young voters. The program, called Campus Collective, is a peer-to-peer, student-led voter registration program trying to register young Florida voters ahead of the 2022 Midterms. People Power for Florida, Eskamani’s committee and third-party voter registration organization, is working with Gen-Z for Change and “Don’t Say Gay” student activists to register classmates who will be eligible to vote. Eskamani focused her announcement on the role of Gen Z in electing Joe Biden over Trump in 2020. NBC exit polls suggest that 65% of voters between 18 and 24 cast ballots for Biden, 11% more than any other age group, People Power for Florida notes.
“Ben Diamond announces support for Michele Rayner in HD 62 Primary” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Outgoing Rep. Diamond is announcing he’ll support fellow Rep. Rayner as she approaches the Democratic Primary against former Rep. Wengay Newton. The endorsement from Diamond comes after the pair were briefly Primary opponents in Florida’s 13th Congressional District. Both Rayner and Diamond left the race back in May, after a controversial redistricting plan turned CD 13 from purple to a light shade of red. Now, Diamond is backing Rayner’s re-election bid — an interesting endorsement after the legislator served with Newton from 2016-2020.
— 2022: D-BALLOT —
“Donald Trump endorses second candidate in Miami-Dade County Commission races” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — Doral Mayor Juan Carlos “J.C.” Bermudez won an endorsement Wednesday for his County Commission race from a local business owner: Trump. The owner of the Trump National Doral Miami resort announced his backing of Bermudez in Miami-Dade County’s District 12 race over fellow Republican Sophia Lacayo, who has used the former President’s photograph in campaign materials. In his announcement, Trump said Lacayo “used my name and likeness in her campaign without my permission.” … “I don’t know her, but I do know ‘JC’,” Trump said in a statement released by his Save America political committee. “He will never let you down!” Bermudez and Lacayo are running for the seat being vacated by term-limited Jose “Pepe” Diaz.
“David Bellamy files elections complaint against Jeremy Matlow over radio ads” via Aimee Sachs of Florida Politics — Bellamy has filed an election violation complaint against his opponent for Seat 3, incumbent Commissioner Matlow. The filing comes after the Bellamy campaign sent a cease-and-desist letter to Matlow over a radio ad suggesting Bellamy is a Republican running as a Democrat. The original 30-second spot features the voice of pastor Lee Johnson saying Bellamy voted for and donated to Trump and DeSantis. In the complaint, Bellamy contends the ad’s claims are false and that he has been a registered Democrat since 1988. Bellamy said because it is a nonpartisan race, directing voters not to elect someone based on party affiliation is a violation of state election laws.
“UNF poll: T.K. Waters and Lakesha Burton in close race for Sheriff; school tax referendum a cliffhanger” via David Bauerlein of The Florida Times-Union — In another countywide election open to all registered voters, a referendum for a property tax increase to help raise teacher salaries at Duval County public schools garnered 51% support and 45% opposition in the UNF poll. “That is going to be a lot closer than I thought it was going to be,” said Michael Binder, faculty director of the UNF Public Opinion Research Lab. The sheriff’s race also is neck and neck, though the UNF polls predict the outcome Tuesday won’t be the final word. If no candidate clears 50%, the top two will square off in November. The UNF poll found 41% saying they would vote for Waters, who is the only Republican in the race, followed by Burton, a Democrat, at 39% while three other Democrats split the rest of the support.
“The turnout so far: How many Marion County voters, by party, have voted early or by mail?” via Joe Callahan of the Ocala Star-Banner — There is less than a week left to the end of the 2022 Primary Election. Marion County residents are now mailing ballots to the county elections office, while others are heading to several early voting sites around Marion. So, what party is leading the charge in casting votes so far? At the end of the day Tuesday, the actual votes cast by Republicans and Democrats are about even, though a higher percentage of registered Democrats have voted so far.
— STATEWIDE —
“Court says 16-year-old in state care is too immature to choose abortion” via Carol Marbin Miller of the Miami Herald — Jane Doe 22-B, a 16-year-old in the care of Florida child welfare authorities, lacks the maturity to be allowed to terminate her 10-week-pregnancy, an Escambia County judge said. She will have to grow up fast: Under a ruling handed down by an appeals court on Monday, Jane may be forced to become a mother. Acting upon Jane’s written request, a Pensacola judge ruled that Jane, as she’s identified in court papers, was not “sufficiently mature to decide whether to terminate her pregnancy.”
“DeSantis’ proposed new rules for pension investments push Florida into fight against Wall Street” via Steve Contorno of CNN — In new draft rules posted Monday on the website of the agency that oversees Florida’s pension fund, state investment managers can weigh only the risk or return of an investment when directing the state’s $200 billion in assets. The directive is DeSantis’ initial salvo against what he has called “ideological corporate power,” and it follows efforts by other GOP state leaders that are targeting companies that venture into the political arena. DeSantis has criticized financial institutions and corporate executives for considering factors like systemic racism and economic inequality when making business decisions, a practice known as environmental, social and governance, or ESG, investing. The rules are expected to be voted on next Tuesday when DeSantis, Attorney General Ashley Moody and CFO Patronis meet as the State Board of Administration.
“Ousted Hillsborough state attorney sues DeSantis in federal court, citing free speech” via Sue Carlton, Lawrence Mower, and Dan Sullivan of the Miami Herald — Two weeks after he was suspended from office, ousted Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren fired back with a federal lawsuit against DeSantis, citing free speech rights and prosecutorial discretion in his fight to get his job back. The lawsuit says it aims to confirm that the First Amendment still applies even though DeSantis is Governor and that the courts get to say what the state constitution means, “not whatever DeSantis needs it to mean to silence his critics, promote his loyalists, and subvert the will of the voters.”
DOE to review LGBTQ student support guides — Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. said that the Florida Department of Education would examine LGBTQ student support guides being used in county school districts as part of the “Parental Rights in Education” law, which critics have named “Don’t Say Gay.” As reported by Andrew Atterbury of POLITICO Florida, Diaz’s pledge came after Board of Education member Ryan Petty expressed “grave concerns” about such guides potentially recommending that information on a student’s sexual orientation not be shared with their parents. The law requires schools to tell parents if they are being monitored for “mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being,” a policy that can be tied to local LGBTQ student support guides.
Personnel note: Cory Dowd heads to Department of Education — Dowd this month began working as the Florida Department of Education’s Legislative Affairs Director. Dowd comes to DOE from the Florida Division of Emergency Management, where he held the same title. He previously worked in the Governor’s Office as a Deputy LAD and as a policy adviser to the Lt. Governor. Dowd, who earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Florida State University, first entered the political realm as an assistant at lobbying firm Smith Bryan & Myers followed by three years as a staffer in the state House.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Rochelle Walensky, citing botched pandemic response, calls for CDC reorganization” via Sharon LaFraniere of The New York Times — Dr. Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, on Wednesday delivered a sweeping rebuke of her agency’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, saying it had failed to respond quickly enough and needed to be overhauled. In a meeting with senior staff, Dr. Walensky outlined in broad terms a plan to reorganize the agency’s structure to prioritize public health needs and efforts to curb continuing outbreaks and to put less emphasis on the publication of scientific papers about rare diseases.
“‘Women Against Matt Gaetz’ calls on Congress to prohibit Congressman’s contact with minors” via Kai Davis and John Rupolo of WEAR-TV — A group called “Women Against Matt Gaetz” are speaking out against the Northwest Florida Congressman once again. The group is calling on Congress to suspend Gaetz from all congressional duties and prohibit him from dealing with minors while under investigation by the Department of Justice for sex trafficking. Gaetz is hosting Niceville High School’s annual Academy Night. But the group says they are concerned about the Congressman being around children while under federal investigation.
“Byron Donalds optimistic about Lake O water management, less so about reservoir funding” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — U.S. Rep. Donalds met this week with the Army Corps of Engineers on the management of Lake Okeechobee. As plans for regulation of water discharges from the Lake move ahead, he feels confident Southwest Florida will be better off than under a prior plan. But the Naples Republican warns there’s likely not a way to completely block blue-green algae from the lake from being discharged into local waterways. The Army Corps of Engineers in July released an update on the new Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual. “One of the things I’m always trying to explain to everybody here is that we are going to get water,” he said.
— JAN. 6 —
“Mike Pence says he’d consider testifying before Jan. 6 committee if invited” via Athena Jones of CNN — Pence said Wednesday he would give “due consideration” to any formal invitation to testify before the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, while hinting at potential executive privilege issues. Pence made the remarks during a Q&A after a speech here at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics’ “Politics & Eggs” breakfast, a common stop for candidates considering a run for office. “If there was an invitation to participate, I would consider it,” Pence said, after calling Jan. 6 a tragic day for all Americans.
“Secret Service waited to tell Capitol Police of Nancy Pelosi threat until the Jan. 6 riot was underway” via Sophia Bollag of the San Francisco Chronicle — A government watchdog group says it has obtained emails showing the Secret Service identified a social media account threatening Speaker Pelosi two days before the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol but did not notify Capitol Police until the insurrection was underway. The email, which Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington posted online Wednesday, says the Secret Service identified “a social media threat directed toward Speaker Nancy Pelosi” on Jan. 4, 2021. An unidentified “intelligence research specialist” in the Secret Service sent the message to an email address for the U.S. Capitol Police, according to the copy the watchdog group posted on its website.
— EPILOGUE TRUMP —
“Trump rakes in millions off FBI search at Mar-a-Lago” via Josh Dawsey and Isaac Arnsdorf of The Washington Post — Trump bombarded his supporters with more than 100 emails asking for money based on the FBI’s search of the Mar-a-Lago Club for classified materials last week. They paid off. Contributions to Trump’s political action committee topped $1 million for at least two days after the Aug. 8 search of his Palm Beach estate. The daily hauls jumped from a level of $200,000 to $300,000 that had been typical in recent months. The influx comes at a crucial time for Trump as he considers an early announcement for a 2024 presidential campaign and has seen dwindling returns on his online fundraising solicitations earlier this year.
“Pence pushes back against GOP calls to ‘defund the FBI’” via John Wagner of The Washington Post — Pence pushed back Wednesday against those in his party who have called to “defund the FBI” after the bureau’s search of Trump’s residence in Florida last week. Pence, appearing at a Politics & Eggs breakfast in New Hampshire, said he was “deeply troubled” that a search warrant had been issued and called on Attorney General Merrick Garland to release more information about its justification. The Justice Department filed a motion to unseal the search warrant, which was released last Friday. But Pence said the attacks on the FBI are unwarranted.
“Weeks before Mar-a-Lago search, ex-Trump DOD official vowed to publish classified documents from National Archives” via Will Steakin, Alexander Mallin and Katherine Faulders of ABC News — In June, seven weeks before the FBI raided Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in search of classified materials, former Defense Department appointee and outspoken Trump loyalist Kash Patel vowed to retrieve classified documents from the National Archives and publish them on his website. Trump had just issued a letter instructing the National Archives to grant Patel and conservative journalist John Solomon access to nonpublic administration records, according to reporting at the time. Patel claimed in a string of interviews that Trump had declassified a trove of “Russiagate documents” in the final days of his administration. But Patel claimed Trump’s White House counsel had blocked the release of those documents, and instead had them delivered to the National Archives.
“Media lawyers: Revealing affidavit related to Mar-a-Lago search would curb speculation” via Jane Musgrave of The Palm Beach Post — Recognizing the enormous stakes riding on an espionage investigation involving a former President, news organizations said they will continue to push for the release of a document that would reveal why the U.S. Justice Department asked to search Mar-a-Lago, media attorneys said. At a hearing on Thursday, attorneys for more than a dozen media companies are expected to acknowledge the U.S. Justice Department’s concerns that the release of the entire probable cause affidavit could “irreparably harm” its ongoing investigation, said attorney Martin Reeder.
“Trump is rushing to hire seasoned lawyers — but he keeps hearing ‘No’” via The Washington Post — Trump and close aides have spent the eight days since the FBI searched his Florida home rushing to assemble a team of respected defense lawyers. But the answer they keep hearing is “no.” The struggle to find expert legal advice puts Trump in a bind as he faces potential criminal exposure from a records dispute with the National Archives that escalated into a federal investigation into possible violations of the Espionage Act and other statutes.
— MORE LOCAL: S. FL —
“Weapons smuggling to Haiti is on ‘alarming trend.’ Feds crack down, ask for public’s help” via Jacqueline Charles and Jay Weaver of the Miami Herald — A row of federal agents and prosecutors stood behind tables displaying dozens of recently seized military-grade sniper rifles, belt-fed machine guns and semi-automatic pistols, all originally destined for Haiti. Their message: Firearms smuggling from South Florida to Haiti has spun into “an alarming trend” and the feds need the public’s help to plug the pipeline of illegal weapons exports. Anthony Salisbury, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations, said at a news conference that both the number of weapons and the types of firepower have increased to unprecedented levels in a region torn apart by drug traffickers, gang violence and everyday kidnappings.
“Broward recruits teachers from Philippines to address staff shortage” via Shira Moolten of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Broward School District has found one more way to fill many vacant positions going into the school year: hiring from the Philippines. About 102 Filipino teachers have either already arrived in schools, or are on their way to schools, in the coming weeks. “It’s overwhelming,” Artie Marforie, a new science teacher from the Philippines at Westpine Middle School, said to Superintendent Vickie Cartwright when she visited his classroom on Tuesday for the first day of school.
“Miami’s Little Bahamas faces development pressure. One city official wants to fight it” via Joey Flechas and Aaron Liebowitz of the Miami Herald — Miami Commissioner Ken Russell says it is important to fight gentrification in Little Bahamas, the historically Black section of Coconut Grove settled by the city’s pioneers, to keep longtime residents from being displaced and bring back those who have left. Development pressure is making it difficult to preserve one of Miami’s oldest neighborhoods, says Russell, who has made the issue a priority since he was elected to the City Commission in 2015. After several unsuccessful attempts, Russell is still hoping to get a proposal passed by the Commission in the five months he has left in office.
“Startup airline offers new flights to Berlin from Fort Lauderdale in December” via David Lyons of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Norse Atlantic Airways, which recently started trans-Atlantic service to Europe from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, now plans to offer round trips to the capital of Germany starting in early December. The starting one-way fares are as low as $152. Norse Atlantic, whose U.S. headquarters is in Fort Lauderdale, said it launched the Berlin service this week from New York’s JFK International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport.
“A Keys boater spotted a suspicious package. Here’s what 70 pounds of cocaine looks like” via David Goodhue of the Miami Herald — For the second time in four days, a large shipment of cocaine was found floating in the ocean off the Florida Keys. A boater on Tuesday reported to the Coast Guard a suspicious package floating about 19 miles southeast of Long Key in the Middle Keys, said Petty Officer Nicole Groll, a Coast Guard spokesperson. The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office picked up the drugs around 2:30 p.m., said Adam Linhardt, an agency spokesperson.
— MORE LOCAL: C. FL —
“Hillsborough Commission won’t halt disputed Keystone development” via C.T. Bowen of the Tampa Bay Times — Keystone residents are already asking a court to stop a national homebuilder from assembling a 194-home development in their rural hamlet in northwest Hillsborough. On Wednesday, they took their case to the Hillsborough County Commission as well. Eleven people asked the county to issue a stop work order on the project for what they said were repeated permit violations by developer Taylor Morrison. “They have no respect whatsoever for Hillsborough County laws or our community,” said Ward Netscher.
“Landlords sue to stop Orange County’s proposed rent cap” via Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — It took landlords less than a week to sue Orange County over the proposed rent-cap ordinance headed to the Nov. 8 ballot. Filed Monday by Shutts & Bowen lawyers on behalf of the Florida Apartment Association and Florida Realtors, the 105-page lawsuit challenges the “validity” of the proposed county ordinance, which needs voter approval and would cap rent increases on some apartments.
“John Tobia’s move to block Brevard School Board tax increase from ballot fails” via Bailey Gallion of Florida Today — A move by County Commissioner Tobia to block the Brevard County School Board from placing a proposed tax increase on the November ballot failed at Tuesday’s County Commission meeting, but the Commission will move forward with a referendum that could allow School Board members to be recalled. Though Commissioners didn’t like the School Board’s decision to propose a millage increase that, if passed, would cost property owners up to $1 more each year per $1,000 of assessed property value, none of the three other County Commissioners agreed to support Tobia’s proposal to rescind a resolution placing the increase on the ballot.
“Sarasota County Schools: Still searching for teachers” via Sue Erwin of the North Port Sun — Sarasota County Schools Superintendent Brennan Asplen said the district is still looking to hire 80 teachers at the School Board meeting Tuesday at the Landings in Sarasota. “We had 295 teachers resign or retire this year,” Asplen said. “We have 870 new students this year, with more expected in September. We’re still looking to hire 80 teachers. We are continuing to recruit high-quality staff and our substitute pool is very strong.” Asplen said he was pleased with the smooth opening of the school year. “Staff did an amazing job … we had some normal glitches with air conditioning and transportation issues … our district administrators solved the problems very quickly.”
“A cautious victory lap: Opponents of northern turnpike extension celebrate, but fight on” via Austin L. Miller of the Ocala Star-Banner — Although state officials have temporarily slowed down the possible northern extension of Florida’s Turnpike, opponents of the project are still applying pressure on the Florida Department of Transportation to scrap the idea altogether. In the original plan, three of the four proposed routes would pass through Marion County and, according to critics, cause severe hardship to homeowners, businesses and the environment. At a news conference outside the McPherson Governmental Complex, where the Marion County Commission was holding its regularly scheduled meeting, those rallying against the road made their feelings known.
“Dan Loeb’s Disney power play: After a big win in 2020, investor tries once more with Mouse House” via Alex Weprin of The Hollywood Reporter — The last time Loeb went to war with Disney over the company’s streaming strategy, he painted a picture of victory. In October 2020, Loeb called on Disney to go “all-in” on streaming, halt its dividend and “double” its content budget. Weeks after disclosing his 2020 stake in a letter to Disney CEO Bob Chapek, Loeb told investors in his Third Point hedge fund that the investment had proved “constructive.” Just a few months later, he took things a step further, telling Third Point’s investors that Disney’s response to his investment was “commendable” and that his suggestions have been “proven correct so far.”
“Thanks to MLB tech, Disney now has more subscribers than Netflix” via Alyssa Miller of No Film School — How did Disney overcome Netflix in just three years? By combining its great content with technology developed and acquired from Major League Baseball. It’s a wild story, so let’s break it down. On Aug. 26, 2002, the MLB made history with its first streamed game, which was the New York Yankees v. Texas Rangers. For the 2003 season, MLB TV debuted, and 100 thousand fans paid $80 for access to watch livestreamed games. What do companies do when they feel comfortable with what they’ve achieved? They start innovating. In August 2016, Disney made the move to buy a third of MLB Baseball Advanced Media for $1 billion with the option to buy more. The next year, Disney paid $1.6 billion to own 75% of BAMTech.
“Bob Chapek’s funny math on streaming” via Julia Alexander of Puck — Disney CEO Chapek got a real victory lap moment after Disney reported that streaming subscriptions totaled 221.7 million, beating Netflix for the first time, exceeding Wall Street’s expectations, and causing Disney stock to jump nearly 10%. But statistics hide all sorts of complexities about Disney’s numbers, and it’s no secret that the way the public narrative surrounding how the company calculates total subscribers to its “Streaming Services” is more than a little misleading. I’m not suggesting that Disney’s streaming business is in trouble. But how we talk about streaming is important in how we think about streaming success. Yes, Disney’s collection of services totals more subscribers than Netflix. But that’s also not the whole story …
— MORE LOCAL: SW. FL —
“Facebook, Snapchat submitted the tips. Now, Naples man faces child pornography charges” via Tomas Rodriguez of the Naples Daily News — A 42-year-old Naples man faces multiple child pornography charges after a cyber tip led to his arrest Tuesday. Jose Antonio Jaimes Aguilar, of the 5500 block of 26th Avenue Southwest, was arrested following four tips from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The center submitted the tips between December 2021 and April after Snapchat and Facebook documented them. Deputies obtained a search warrant for Aguilar’s accounts. Snapchat and Facebook provided five videos depicting children ages 5 to 16 engaging in sexual activities with each other or with adults.
“Champions for Learning appoints new CEO, Barbara Evans longtime nonprofit leader in SWFL” via Nikki Ross of the Naples Daily News — Champions for Learning has appointed a new chief executive officer. Evans, a longtime nonprofit leader in Southwest Florida, will begin her new role at the education foundation on Sept. 13. She is replacing Susan McManus, who stepped down in May after 29 years. “I am honored to be joining the exceptional team at Champions for Learning,” Evans said in a news release. “As a mother of two school-aged children, I truly value our mission of creating life-changing learning experiences for every student.”
— MORE LOCAL: N. FLORIDA —
“‘What’s taking so long?’: Escambia Children’s Trust still planning uses for $10M in taxes” via Colin Warren-Hicks of the Pensacola News Journal — Voters approved the Escambia Children’s Trust two years ago to make life better for local children. The organization will be entrusted with an estimated $10 million in annual tax revenue for 10 years to do the job, and leaders are eager to begin working in earnest. The Trust’s executive director, Tammy Greer, said she knows people are growing impatient. Greer and members of her small staff get asked all the time about when the Trust plans to kick its spending into high gear.
“Out with diesel, in with CNG: Federal grant fuels new natural gas buses for Jacksonville” via Dan Scanlan of The Florida Times-Union — A federal grant is fueling the Jacksonville Transportation Authority’s efforts to trade up to cleaner compressed natural gas buses and mothball some older diesel units as well. The $15.4 million U.S. Department of Transportation Low or No Emissions Buses and Bus Facilities Grant will lead to 21 new CNG buses, with the federal funds boosted by about $6 million in local match dollars, the authority said. “The JTA will continue to advance sustainability efforts by phasing out more diesel buses with vehicles powered by cleaner compressed natural gas,” Chief Executive Officer Nathaniel Ford said.
“Treading water: Jacksonville Beach turns down ballot item to put volunteer lifeguards back to work” via Matt Soergel of The Florida Times-Union — Voters in Jacksonville Beach will not be voting at the city’s next election to determine the fate of the Volunteer Life Saving Corps, which has patrolled the beach there since 1912. In an emotionally charged meeting Monday, the Jacksonville Beach City Council unanimously turned down a proposed ballot referendum that would have given voters in November the chance to approve having volunteer lifeguards go back on duty alongside paid Jacksonville Beach Ocean Rescue guards. Council members said they were concerned the referendum was not legally valid for several reasons.
“New security system will make screenings faster, more accurate for Duval County high schools” via Emily Bloch of The Florida Times-Union — What’s one thing Disney World, Baptist Medical Center and Duval County Public Schools all have in common? They’ll soon be using the same type of weapons detection technology. Tuesday, the Duval School Board unanimously approved a contract with Evolv Technology to purchase the company’s advanced security screening machines for high schools across the district. Officials say the purchase will make security screenings at schools faster and more accurate.
“JASMYN in Jacksonville to benefit after Ariana Grande raises $3 million for LGBTQ youth” via Emily Bloch of The Florida Times-Union — A fundraiser launched by Grande earlier this year has raised over $3 million. Now, Jacksonville’s local LGBTQ youth center, JASMYN, is set to benefit from some of those funds. Grande, a South Florida native, started her “Protect & Defend Trans Youth Fund” earlier this year for Pride Month. “Right now, there are hundreds of bills pending state legislatures across the United States that target trans youth and aim to curb their rights,” Grande wrote. The “Thank U, Next” artist promised to match up to $1.5 million in donations and said the funds would go to 18 groups across the country focused on LGBTQ+ advocacy.
“‘Less violence, more music’: Rappers Real Boston Richey and Future visit Holton St., donate shoes” via Ana Goñi-Lessan of the Tallahassee Democrat — Richey, who has skyrocketed to fame in 10 short months, returned to his hometown to shoot a music video. At the Holton Apartments on the South side of Tallahassee, after he filmed some scenes for his song “Bulls Eye,” he passed out food, $10,000 in shoes, clothes and a message. “I love Tally,” he said. “We just got to come together and do better. We’re probably the best city in Florida, we just got to come together.” “We got to bring the violence to a minimum,” he said. “This isn’t even my hood, but there’s love over here. That should show a lot of people it ain’t where you come from. It’s where you want to go at.”
“Pensacon HalloweenFest returns at Splash City Adventures in October” via the Pensacola News Journal — Pensacon and Splash City Adventures announced Wednesday that the two groups will team up for Pensacon HalloweenFest. The two-day, family-friendly Halloween event will take place from Oct. 1-2 at Splash City Adventures, located at 6709 Pensacola Blvd. HalloweenFest will feature spooky pop-culture fun in an outdoor, convention-style atmosphere. Celebrity guests, vendors, live entertainment, artists and trick-or-treating will be the main draw for the event.
— TOP OPINION —
“Would the GOP nominate an indicted Trump?” via Charlie Sykes of the Bulwark — In a wholly fictitious Earth 2.0, this uniquely dangerous moment would incline our political/media class to sobriety and restraint. In a rational world, the possibility that the former President might have committed crimes by absconding with sensitive, perhaps supersecret nuclear-related documents, and then lied about it, would have shaken the confidence of even his most devoted followers.
But, alas, Trump’s reptilian instinct continues to serve him well. He knows that he can shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue, extort our allies, fawn on Vladimir Putin, flirt with racists and antisemites, foment an insurrection, and disgorge endless streams of lies, conspiracy theories, and utter bullshit — with complete and utter impunity. He knows that he can project his crimes onto others, insult and attack his critics, and delegitimatize any institution — any investigator or jury — that threatens him.
He has read America’s id. Or at least the GOP’s.
So, the party that claims to Back the Blue has instead rallied around the Orange. As he knew they would.
— OPINIONS —
“For Republicans gone bananas, a new fashion line” via Dana Milbank of The Washington Post — Retail politics ain’t what it used to be. Trump-endorsed congressional candidate Bo Hines weighed in recently on all the talk about the U.S. becoming a banana republic. But Hines spoke as if everybody was referring to Banana Republic, the clothing retailer. But this is the season for retail gaffes. The campaign of Mehmet Oz made a video of the candidate shopping at a Redner’s supermarket and blaming Biden for the high price of “crudités.” Only a man who owns 10 houses would refer to a veggie plate as “crudités.” Leading this confederacy of dunces is Herschel Walker, GOP Senate nominee from Georgia. He took the position that there are 52 states and asserted that the theory of evolution is wrong because, “If that is true, why are there still apes? Think about it.”
“Done wrong by DeSantis, a prosecutor rightly fights back” via the Orlando Sentinel and South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial boards — The twice-elected state attorney in Tampa’s Hillsborough County, Warren, took DeSantis to court Wednesday. It’s a needed step to hold the dictatorial DeSantis accountable and restore some sanity to the Governor’s office. Once again, taxpayers will pay dearly for the costs of defending a legally suspect DeSantis decision. The fatal legal flaw in the suspension order is that Warren was punished not for any action taken or not taken, but because of public statements he has made. DeSantis is Governor, not the thought police. That is not sufficient cause to suspend Warren from office and invalidate the results of two countywide elections in Florida’s fourth-largest county. But the court is the last remaining bulwark, and it will be up to U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle to decide this case.
“Freedom of speech is Andrew Warren’s argument to keep his job” via Joe Henderson of Florida Politics — DeSantis suspended Hillsborough County State Attorney Warren over something he said, not something he did. The move was as divisive as it was decisive, but that’s the field where DeSantis excels. But unlike many others who crossed paths with the Governor, Warren did more than start looking on LinkedIn for a new gig. He likes the job he was elected to twice before the suspension. He wants it back. Warren believes the First Amendment protects his right to speak against the Governor’s abortion and transgender restrictions. He made that case Wednesday, filing a federal lawsuit to overturn the suspension.
“Homeowners keep paying a high price for Florida’s dysfunctional insurance market” via the Miami Herald editorial board — It’s mid-August, deep into the hurricane season and Florida’s insurance market is in trouble. If you feel like you’ve heard that before, well, you have. But in the past couple of years, things have gotten worse. Lawmakers know this. The Florida Legislature held a Special Session on the state’s insurance crisis a few months ago. And still, premiums are up, while insurance companies keep going out of business. It’s up to the Legislature, the Governor and the state’s insurance office to take on the big-picture challenge of how to bring costs down and coverage up — whether that’s with Demotech or not — and not just for one year or one Special Session, but for the long haul.
“I’m a professor and the ‘stop woke’ act creates a climate of fear for Florida educators” via Ryan Need for the Tampa Bay Times — Like many teachers, I was drawn to the profession by the chance to help young people gain the knowledge and critical thinking skills needed to achieve their dreams. Doing this well requires instructors to create a trusting and open environment in the classroom, where viewpoints counter to a student’s existing beliefs can be safely and kindly challenged. However, the new Florida law HB 7, better known as the “stop woke” act, makes this process significantly more difficult by forcing educators to choose between adhering to factual accuracy or facing legal ramifications. As such, HB 7 is tantamount to state-legislated suppression of the First Amendment rights and academic freedom of Florida’s educators.
— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —
— ALOE —
“New Girl Scouts cookie ‘Raspberry Rally’ comes to Orlando next year” via Austin Fuller of the Orlando Sentinel — Girl Scouts will have a new cookie to sell next year that’s similar to their beloved Thin Mints but has raspberry-flavored filling instead of mint. The new Raspberry Rally cookie was revealed Tuesday morning nationally. It will only be available online and will start selling in Central Florida in early January before the popular cookie booths appear. “[Girl Scouts] have a specific link that they can share with their family and friends via email and then they just go on that link and shop for whatever they like,” said Witz Romero, vice president of membership operations for the Girl Scouts of Citrus Council in Central Florida.
“Better Call Saul: Bob Odenkirk imagines what happens next after the series finale” via Jeremy Dick of MovieWeb — The actor, who’s been nominated once again for an Emmy for his performance as Jimmy McGill, likes to believe that Kim continues to visit in the years to come. While some fans have theorized Jimmy will use his legal prowess to find a way out of prison, Odenkirk doesn’t see that happening. Even if Jimmy remains locked up, however, Odenkirk feels that the former lawyer won’t have it so bad in prison. “I think he helps a bunch of guys in prison to get out who are innocent, or he helps shorten their sentences. He gets treated really well. And I don’t think he gets out early … -ish. I don’t think he gets out,” he said.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Happy birthday to John Dowless, Bob Poe, and our friend Noah Pransky.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel Dean, Renzo Downey, Jacob Ogles, and Drew Wilson.