Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 8.30.22

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Good Tuesday morning.

One week after the Primary Election, the plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging Gov. Ron DeSantis’ congressional map, which erased two Black-performing districts in Florida, are launching a statewide tour to mobilize minority voters in key counties.

Starting Tuesday, Equal Ground is teaming with fellow plaintiffs Florida Rising, League of Women Voters, and Black Votes Matter for the ‘We Draw the Lines’ tour. The tour will include stops in six counties the new map impacts over the next month.

The tour’s kickoff event will be at the Sanford Civic Center Annex in Seminole County, followed by a stop at the Smith Center in Orlando on Sept. 7. Both events begin at 6:30 p.m.

Other stops at to-be-announced locations include Osceola County on Sept. 12, Hillsborough County from Sept. 13-14, Miami-Dade County on Sept. 15, and Jacksonville in Duval County on Oct. 6.

During the stops, the groups will speak with voters about the map and provide updates on the history of each district, its current composition and how that compares to its earlier makeup.

The groups will also use each stop to motivate potential voters to cast ballots on or before the Nov. 8 General Election and educate them about critical legal changes, including vote-by-mail strictures and voter registration deadlines.

The districts in contention include Florida’s 5th and 10th Congressional Districts — whose redrawing, critics argue, discriminated against Black voters — and Florida’s 7th, 9th, 13th, 14th, 26th and 27th Congressional Districts.

“It is incredibly important that we talk directly to people, residents and voters because they’re the ones being targeted and because voter data is what determines the makeup of these maps and whether districts will remain whole or move,” said Jasmine Burney-Clark, founder of Equal Ground, a Black-led civic engagement nonprofit.

“The people we’re working with are residents. They’re voters. They’re people who our state is saying aren’t participants in the process but are also the ones most deeply impacted by voter suppression laws that have been passed in this state that almost prohibit their access to the ballot box.”

___

Sad news out of Naples, where Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame member Joe Marlin Hilliard passed away at the age of 79.

Hilliard grew up in Hendry County and began working on his family ranch, Hilliard Brothers Cattle Ranch, in the early 1960s after graduating high school. Hilliard was a pioneer in the farming industry, specifically in the areas of cattle, citrus and sugar farming.

He was one of the first to use sandy soil to grow sugar cane and pushed for the adoption of mechanical harvesting as well. Both practices led to a significant expansion in the industry, according to Robert H. Buker Jr., president and CEO of U.S. Sugar.

RIP: Pioneer rancher, businessperson, and South Florida agricultural icon Joe Marlin Hilliard.

“Joe Marlin was an innovator in Florida sugar cane farming, an entrepreneur, a rancher who greatly improved his family’s holdings, a shrewd business partner and a close personal friend,” Buker said.

“Joe Marlin Hilliard was an industry pioneer who made great strides for area agriculture — particularly in beef cattle ranching, sugar cane harvesting and citrus production. More importantly, he was a great friend who leaves an amazing legacy in Hilliard Ranch.”

Hilliard is survived by his wife, Barbara; his children, Joe Marlin Hilliard II, Mary E. Hilliard Carroll and Bryan Reed Hilliard; stepson Richard Parker and stepdaughter Alicia Snyder; and grandchildren Rana Hilliard, Joe A. “Jack” Hilliard II, Madeline Carroll, Lily Carroll, Isabelle Hilliard, Bryan Reed Hilliard II, Isla Hilliard and Jessica Snyder.

Services will be this Friday, Sept. 2 at Hodges Funeral Home. The family is asking for contributions to Shriners Hospitals for Children in lieu of flowers or other gifts.

___

Here are a few other items:

📰 — Want to know how DeSantis turned those nothingburger election fraud arrests into headline material? A new deep dive by Popular Information’s Judd Legum looks at the Governor’s playbook and spells it out.

🗳 — The James Madison Institute’s 2022 Florida Amendment Guide dropped this week and with only three proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot, it’s mercifully brief. JMI doesn’t weigh in on ballot questions, so the guide gives each proposal a fair shake. Check it out in English and Spanish.

💨 — Move over, tobacco; cannabis is now the king of smokable plants. For the first time ever, a new Gallup Poll found that more Americans say they’ve smoked marijuana (16%) than a cigarette (11%) in the past week. Check out CNN’s rundown of the changing of the guard — and its possible political implications.

___

She’s having a baby — Best of luck to Jess and Alex Andrade, who are expecting a daughter in February (smart baby to come right before Session.)

Congratulations to the father-to-be — with impeccable timing, to boot.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

Tweet, tweet:

@BryanDGriffin: Florida ranks FIRST in the nation in economic freedom thanks to low taxes, sound fiscal policies, and a low regulatory burden. Live free in Sunshine State!

@ScotttWagnerFL: @GovRonDeSantis is a WAR HORSE who saved Florida. Without his leadership, we wouldn’t even have a state to compare to the rest of these failures. Gov’s opponent teamed up with Newsom and is a regime surrogate, looking to infect Florida with these destructive crippling policies.

@JeffreyBrandes: The more that comes out on the arrests the more I believe the individuals involved had no knowledge or intent to violate the law.

@MDixon55: So, I’m not going to get my apology?

Tweet, tweet:

— DAYS UNTIL —

2022 Florida Chamber Technology & Innovation Solution Summit — 1; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 3; NFL Opening Night: LA Rams vs. Buffalo Bills — 9; 2022 Emmys — 12; JMI’s 2022 Tech & Innovation Summit begins — 16; final season of ‘Atlanta’ begins — 16; ‘Andor’ premieres on Disney+ — 22; vote-by-mail mailing deadline for General Election — 37; deadline to register for General Election — 41; 22-23 NHL season begins — 42; ‘Before You Vote’ TV debates (Senate) — 49; ‘Before You Vote’ TV debates (Governor) — 51; Taylor Swift’s ‘Midnights’ release — 52; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 56; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 56; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 57; Early voting begins for General Election — 61; 2022 General Election — 70; ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ premieres — 73; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 73; FITCon 2022 begins — 79; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 79; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 83; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 83; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 84; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 92; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 92; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 108; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 171; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 189; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 206; American Association of Political Consultants Pollies’ 23 conference begins — 231; 2023 Session Sine Die — 248; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 248; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 276; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 325; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 430; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 444; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 577; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 696; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 696; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 801; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 976.

— TOP STORY —

Voter registration numbers suggest six congressional districts could be in play” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The voter registration book closing for the Aug. 23 Primary Election showed Florida had 14.3 million eligible voters registered for that contest, with between 407,000 and 588,000 voters registered in all of Florida’s 28 congressional districts. Statewide, Republicans held the upper hand, with 5.2 million voters, compared with just under 5 million registered Democrats in the latest count.

Heading into the fall campaign for the General Election, the latest official voter registration counts show that Republicans have what likely would be an insurmountable edge in voter registrations — an advantage of more than 15 percentage points over Democrats — in eight congressional districts, under the new map. Democrats have such an advantage in six districts.

Alan Cohn and Laurel Lee face off in CD 15, one of the most competitive seats in 2022.

Republicans have advantages that are strong but not outside the prospect of an upset — more than 5 percentage points yet fewer than 15 points — in seven more districts. Democrats have that sort of advantage in two districts.

The remaining six districts are close in voter registration counts between Republicans and Democrats, though Republicans have slight advantages in all of them:

Republicans have nearly insurmountable advantages in voter registrations, more than 15 points, in Florida’s 1st, 6th, 8th, 12th, 17th and 19th Congressional Districts, and already have won Florida’s 5th Congressional District, which re-elected Republican U.S. Rep. John Rutherford in the Primary Election.

Democrats have nearly insurmountable advantages in voter registrations in Florida’s 9th, 10th, 20th, 22nd, 24th and 25th Congressional Districts.

— DESANTIS V. CRIST —

Ron DeSantis skips Lee Zeldin fundraiser to attend service for fallen officer” via Matt Dixon and Anna Gronewold of POLITICO — DeSantis canceled a political fundraiser for Rep. Zeldin Sunday night to attend services for a Florida Department of Law Enforcement agent killed in the line of duty. DeSantis’ office confirmed he would be attending the Monday morning service for Special Agent Jose Perez, who died 18 days after sustaining injuries during an Aug. 2 traffic crash. Authorities arrested another driver allegedly involved in the crash and charged him with DUI manslaughter, among other violations. Two people familiar with the decision said DeSantis canceled his appearance at Zeldin’s event so he could attend the service, which is taking place in Miami.

Ron DeSantis bows out from a fundraiser to attend the funeral of Jose Perez, a member of his security detail.

RPOF drops $142K on DeSantis ads — The Republican Party of Florida 3 PAC promoting the campaigns of DeSantis, Attorney General Ashley Moody and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis has placed a new broadcast buy that will air ads today through Monday in the Tampa, Miami and Orlando media markets. Orlando gets the biggest share at $71,434, with an added $36,340 directed to Miami and $34,545 to Tampa.

— 2022 —

Running against Donald Trump is more of a risk for DeSantis than peaking too soon, said a GOP strategist who was betting big on the Florida Governor” via Kimberly Leonard of Business Insider — On the one hand, running against Trump comes with a lot of risk. Trump will get vicious and will get loads of media attention, and in the end, GOP competitors might only have a Trump-branded nickname to show for it all. On the other hand, politicians know that sometimes the difference between winning and losing is all about timing. And if anyone is having a moment right now, it’s DeSantis. But at least one GOP operative — John Thomas, founder and president of Thomas Partners Strategies — thinks it’s better for DeSantis to wait than to try to challenge Trump in 2024. “I wouldn’t advise him to go head-to-head with Trump,” Thomas told Insider. “It’s not gonna go well for DeSantis.”

Ron DeSantis is having a moment. Is it enough to supplant Donald Trump?

Val Demings says, ‘I am the police.’ Sheriffs say that’s ridiculous.” via the Washington Free Beacon — As a former Orlando police chief, Demings says she’s inherently immune to attacks from Florida’s law enforcement community: “I don’t just support the police. I am the police,” the Democrat said during an Aug. 17 interview. Roughly a week later, active Florida sheriffs are ridiculing that comment. Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods said Demings “uses her title as chief to further her political agenda” but “certainly doesn’t use it to back law enforcement when she votes,” a move Woods called “shameful.”

Demings books $659K in broadcast ads — Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Demings has placed a $659,305 broadcast buy in media markets across the state. The biggest chunk is directed toward the Orlando media market, where Demings has booked $246,200 in ad time. An added $191,349 heads to the Miami media market, $93,905 to West Palm Beach, $61,044 to Jacksonville, $58,020 to Tampa, $5,440 to Tallahassee and $3,345 to Ft. Myers.

With voter registration tightening, is CD 15 in play?” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Almost as soon as Florida was awarded a new congressional district, an assumption became conventional wisdom: Republicans would win it. That DeSantis insisted on a new congressional map that made sure the new district was one Trump carried 3 points in 2020, on top of what could be a strong year for Republicans, only strengthened expectations. The release of voter registration numbers shows the district could be trending from pink to purple. Some regional political observers also pointed out after last week’s Primary that there were signs a Republican stranglehold on Polk County may be loosening.

CLF puts $102K into CD 14 ads — The Congressional Leadership Fund, a Republican super PAC, has added $102,174 to its advertising buy in the Tampa media market. According to AdImpact, the new spending will be used for broadcast ads in the race for Florida’s 14th Congressional District, where Republican James Judge is going up against Democratic U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor. The ad buy now totals $1.38 million.

Jay Collins slams Karla Hernández-Mats over veteran remarks, demands Janet Cruz condemn words” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Are past comments by Charlie Crist’s running mate causing problems for other Democrats on the ballot? Republican state Senate candidate Collins slammed comments made by Hernández-Mats criticizing a plan to allow veterans to teach without full accreditation. Crist, the Democratic nominee for Governor, named Hernández-Mats as his pick for Lieutenant Governor on Saturday. Furthermore, he’s demanding state Sen. Cruz, the Tampa Democrat he aims to unseat, speak out on the remarks. “This is unacceptable, and I call on Janet to join me in immediately condemning these arrogant statements.”

Karla Hernández-Mats is already ruffling feathers in other races.

Firefighters endorse Lindsay Cross for HD 60 — The St. Petersburg Association of Firefighters Local 747 has endorsed Democratic candidate Cross in the race for Pinellas County-based House District 60. “We believe you will honorably serve the citizens of House District 60 and the interests of the men and women in the Fire and Emergency Medical Services, who have made the protection of life and property their life’s work,” Local 747 President Rick Pauley said in a statement. “The relationships you have built around the state and understanding of the legislative process will serve you well as you represent the citizens of House District 60.” Cross is running against Republican Audrey Henson for the seat, which is expected to lean toward Democrats in November.

Republicans invest big in Chip LaMarca’s third-term bid under new map” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — The only Republican Representative running in a district entirely contained within blue Broward County had one of his most active spending and fundraising stretches this election cycle from July 2 to Aug. 18. Between his personal account and his political committee, Citizens Helping Improve Policy, two-term Rep. LaMarca raised just shy of $73,000 and spent $24,229 as he faces down an opponent he bested in 2020 by 10 points. He’s running in House District 100, which turned a light shade of blue following redistricting. Despite LaMarca’s dominating performance in that 2020 contest under the old district lines, state Republicans see a need to invest in LaMarca’s re-election.

— STATEWIDE —

DeSantis election investigation chief told local officials they face ‘no fault’ for felons voting” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO — DeSantis’ office last week tried to blame local election supervisors for mistakes that could have allowed 20 people convicted of felonies to illegally vote. But the state’s election investigations chief previously absolved those local officials of any wrongdoing. Pete Antonacci, who runs DeSantis’ elections investigation office, sent a letter on Aug. 18 to the state’s elections supervisors saying they did nothing wrong when individuals convicted of murder and sex offenses voted in the 2020 election cycle. Those defendants, who were ineligible to vote, were part of a news conference DeSantis used to highlight voter fraud.

Pete Antonacci isn’t blaming supervisors of elections for cases of ‘voter fraud.’

North Florida is the latest front in DeSantis’ war on voter fraud” via Tristan Wood of City & State Florida — The head of Gov. DeSantis’ new statewide elections police is opening a new front in the war on voter fraud. Antonacci, head of the Office of Election Crimes and Security, recently sent State Attorney Jack Campbell — the Tallahassee region’s top prosecutor — a list of 22 convicted sex offenders, saying all of them voted illegally in the November 2020 general election. The Aug. 15 email and list — shared with City & State by anti-fraud activist Mark Glaeser — suggest they reside in the counties of the 2nd Judicial Circuit, which includes Franklin, Gadsden, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty and Wakulla counties.

DeSantis announces $68M electric bus buy; activists ask what’s next” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — DeSantis’ Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is setting aside $68 million to purchase 227 electric buses in 13 of Florida’s most urban counties. But at least one activist group wants to know his next steps to advance green tech. The project is Florida’s latest measure to electrify its transportation grid and reduce the air pollutants that go with diesel emissions. The buses will replace existing diesel buses in several counties. DEP expects the buses to be on the road within 12 months.

Jurors chosen for Seminole GOP chair’s trial, but they won’t hear about ‘ghost’ candidates” via Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel — Prosecutors won’t be able to use the terms “ghost” or “straw” candidate or discuss Seminole County GOP Chair Ben Paris’ connections to Republican state Sen. Jason Brodeur when Paris’ trial starts on Wednesday, a judge ruled. Though Assistant State Attorney Stacey Straub Salmons said Paris’ possible motive for asking his cousin to use his name on independent candidate Jestine Iannotti’s reports was important, Judge Wayne Culver on Monday granted a request from the defense to avoid characterizing her as a stooge during the trial or discuss why Paris’ assistance may have ultimately helped Brodeur. The state also won’t be able to say Paris was the former Mayor of Longwood or that he was running for Seminole County Commission at the same time he is accused of helping consultant Eric Foglesong launch Iannotti’s candidacy.

Ben Paris’ trial will not use the g-word.

Florida residents set to pay for insurance failures throughout 2023” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — All insurance policies in the state, except for auto insurance, will have a 0.7% assessment tacked onto them starting in 2023 as a result of a series of liquidations among insurance companies this year. The Florida Insurance Guaranty Association, which administers claims of failed insurers ordered into receivership, recommended the assessment earlier this month, and the Office of Insurance Regulation approved it Friday when it issued an official order. The assessment of 0.7% of the premium will be placed on non-auto policies starting Jan. 1, and will last throughout 2023. The assessment is on top of a 1.3% assessment FIGA recommended and OIR ordered in March that will last from July 1 to June 30, 2023.

Judge rejects Ronald Rubin lawsuit — Former Office of Financial Regulation Commissioner Rubin has lost in his lawsuit against lobbyist Paul Mitchell. Rubin, who was fired from the Commissioner post three years ago, had sued Mitchell for his role in the termination, which came after an OFR employee filed a sexual harassment complaint against Rubin. Rubin’s lawsuit accused Mitchell of tortious interference and defamation, including an allegation that Mitchell fabricated the sexual harassment claim. Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper rejected the accusations in a 17-page summary judgment, writing that “the record does not support the contention.”

— D.C. MATTERS —

Team Joe Biden’s dour mood eases as gas prices fall” via Ben White of POLITICO — After a brutal six months of soaring inflation and sinking consumer confidence, the Biden administration is seeing signs of hope on the economy. Inflation may finally have peaked. Gas prices have fallen for more than two months. The job market remains hot, and unemployment is near historic lows. Issues other than epic price spikes and Biden’s dismal poll numbers now regularly dominate headlines. None of these trends is a lock to continue. Prices remain highly elevated. Russia’s war on Ukraine could send oil prices soaring again. And Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell vowed Friday that the central bank will do whatever it takes to kill high inflation, triggering a stock market rout.

Joe Biden lightens up. Image via Reuters.

Supreme Court fences come down two months after Dobbs decision” via Ariane de Vogue of CNN — The massive security fences that had been guarding the perimeter of the Supreme Court were removed over the weekend, even though the building is still closed to the public. Security around the building was fortified last spring after the unprecedented leak to the press of a draft opinion striking down Roe v. Wade. The court’s press office would not say if the courtroom would be open to the public when arguments are set to resume on October 3. As things currently stand, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the courtroom is closed to the general public, although it is open for official business.

VP Kamala Harris tours space center but misses out on Artemis launch” via Roger Simmons of the Orlando Sentinel — Vice President Harris met with U.S. and European space officials, talked with astronauts, inspected future moon spaceships and encouraged children to consider space exploration careers during a busy Monday at Kennedy Space Center. About the only thing Harris didn’t do was watch Artemis I blast off, as its first launch attempt was scrubbed due to an engine issue shortly after the Vice President arrived. “While we hoped to see the launch of Artemis I today, the attempt provided valuable data as we test the most powerful rocket in history,” Harris said.

— EPILOGUE TRUMP —

Justice Dept. has reviewed documents seized in Mar-a-Lago search” via Glenn Thrush and Alan Feuer of The New York Times — The Justice Department has set aside documents seized from Trump’s Florida estate potentially covered by attorney-client privilege, a maneuver that might make his efforts to have an independent arbiter review the materials unnecessary. The disclosure is based on the government’s initial analysis of the materials. In the filing, lawyers at the department disclosed that its privilege review team had finished its assessment of the documents and set aside “a limited set of materials that potentially contain attorney-client information,” a requirement that was mandated by the original search warrant.

Will attorney/client privilege give Donald Trump an out?

Accounts of Trump angrily demanding to go to Capitol on Jan. 6 circulated in Secret Service over past year” via Noah Gray and Zachary Cohen of CNN — Then-President Trump angrily demanded to go to the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and berated his protective detail when he didn’t get his way. While the details from those who heard the accounts differ, the Secret Service sources say they were told an angry confrontation did occur. And their accounts align with significant parts of Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony. One source, a longtime Secret Service employee, said the agents relaying the story described Trump as “demanding” and Trump said something similar to: “I’m the f**king President of the United States, you can’t tell me what to do.”

Trump family dunks on DeSantis: You’re ‘stealing’ our bit!” via Asawin Suebsaeng of Rolling Stone — Trump repeatedly ridiculed the Governor for ripping off the ex-President’s style. “There was this time, maybe a year ago that I remember him making fun of [DeSantis] for doing similar hand gestures and motions,” one individual said. “He called it ‘stealing’ from him and described it as a lame impression.” The alleged rip-offs raised eyebrows with other members of “America First” royalty. Donald Trump Jr. has noticed an uncanny pattern: Often he will tweet something — a culture-war grievance or a burgeoning trend among the online right — and soon see those specific topics incorporated into the Florida Governor’s talking points.

Lindsey Graham’s vile ‘riots’ threat gives away Trump’s game” via Greg Sargent of The Washington Post — “If there’s a prosecution of Donald Trump for mishandling classified information,” said Sen. Graham on Fox News, there will be “riots in the streets.” The South Carolina Republican’s quote has been relentlessly skewered as a blatant threat of retaliatory political violence ever since he offered it Sunday night. And it is that: Everyone knows the old mob-speak trick of cloaking threats in the guise of faux-innocent “predictions.” Underlying Graham’s threat is another attack on the rule of law, one that more Trump propagandists will resort to when their man’s legal perils deepen. It’s an effort to discredit the idea that the law can be applied to Trump at all.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

Lawyers in Surfside condo collapse case sought $100 million. Here’s what judge decided” via Jay Weaver of the Miami Herald — Dozens of attorneys who attained a landmark $1.1 billion wrongful-death settlement in the Surfside condominium calamity learned their cut of the class-action case on Monday. It won’t be as much as they had hoped to receive. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman awarded attorneys’ fees of $65 million, about two-thirds of the $100 million lawyers had requested before the settlement was approved in June. In addition, Hanzman granted an extra $6.5 million in fees to lawyers who participated in his recent review of victims’ damage claims in the collapse of Champlain Towers South.

DeSantis looking to oust Sheriff Gregory Tony? He gets to replace him if he waits til after Sept. 5” via Florida Bulldog — There’s an interesting date on next month’s calendar that’s making the rounds in Broward and Tallahassee. Sept. 5 is supposedly the big day. It marks the date when Broward Sheriff Tony will have exactly 28 months remaining in his four-year term. Why is that interesting or even noteworthy? Because of the confluence of speculation that DeSantis, lately in a “remove and replace” mode, wants to oust the embattled Tony from office and is waiting until after that date to use his executive authority to do it.

Gregory Tony’s days may be numbered.

Broward County School Board candidate warns against voting for runoff rival, suspended incumbent” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — In the wake of DeSantis’ suspension of four sitting Broward County School Board members last week, the runoff rival of a suspended Board member urged voters to support the certainty that he represents. School Board candidate Allen Zeman is facing a runoff election in November against Donna Korn, one of the four Board members that DeSantis’ suspended from their offices Friday. DeSantis was acting on the recommendation of a grand jury report that found the Board members failed to hold then-Superintendent Robert Runcie accountable for delaying school facilities.

‘A breath of fresh air’: Kevin Marino Cabrera vows less politics, more voter fulfillment ahead of Miami-Dade Commission runoff” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — For someone who’s only held elected office once, government relations specialist Cabrera boasts a sturdy political résumé. Aside from an elected stint on a Miami-Dade County zoning board, Cabrera until this year appeared content to work largely behind the scenes. “For too long, we’ve seen the county do whatever it is they want,” he said. “Our campaign always been about one thing, which is to put the residents and small businesses of Miami-Dade County first,” he said.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

Seminole County book fairs on hold following state ‘Parental Rights’ law” via Jeff Allen of Spectrum News 13 — School book fairs are on hold in one Central Florida school district as administrators continue to determine how best to adhere to new legislation passed this year, including the Parental Rights in Education law. Seminole County Public School administrators say the legislation, dubbed “Don’t Say Gay” by its critics, prompted the district to prioritize guidance related to instructional materials, classroom libraries and media centers before determining what impacts, if any, the legislation would have on book fairs. Without that guidance, district officials said they had to put those book fairs on hold. Spectrum News asked DeSantis if his administration would issue further guidance about what’s allowed, and what’s not, when it comes to book fairs.

Vandals attack Seminole GOP office” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Vandals sprayed a hateful, vulgar message on a window and damaged door locks at the Seminole County Republican Party headquarters. Seminole County Republican officials and others condemned the vandalism and vowed not to be intimidated. They were joined by state and national Republican officials who did likewise. Some, including Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel, U.S. Sen. Rick Scott, and the re-election campaign of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, sought to reflect blame toward Democratic leaders, including Biden and Crist.

Stay classy Seminole County.

Poll: Brian Scott within margin to flip Pat Gerard’s Commission seat” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — The District 2 seat on the Pinellas County Commission is well within reach for Republican Scott. The only person in his way, the incumbent, Gerard. Scott, who works as President of Escot Bus Lines, took the Republican nomination for the seat in last week’s Primary, collecting 66% of the vote compared to opponent Debbie Buschman’s 33%. Now, he’s off to the General Election against Gerard, who has held the District 2 seat since 2014. Although Gerard has kept a solid hold on the seat since her initial election, a recent survey found that the incumbent is in for a competitive, tight race.

Lakeland Commissioner Phillip Walker seeks reappointment to seat he resigned to run for House” via Sara-Megan Walsh of The Lakeland Ledger — After losing his campaign for House District 50 to Jennifer Canady, Walker is seeking to become his own replacement. Walker sent an email less than 18 minutes before Friday’s noon filing deadline asking Lakeland City Attorney Palmer Davis and City Clerk Kelly Koos that he be considered a candidate for interim Commissioner for the Northwest District seat. “If that is the will of the Commission to allow me to complete what I call the term for this particular seat I would be more than gracious to accept,” Walker said.

Wildlife director loses arm in alligator attack — his second attack in 10 years” via Mark Price of the Miami Herald — A Florida wildlife expert just survived his second alligator attack in a decade, but he did not come out of it in one piece. An X-ray shared by Florida Gator Gardens shows the alligator crushed the lower arm of Greg Graziani, the park’s director of wildlife. The park is in Venus, 125 miles southeast of Tampa. Graziani was rushed to a hospital, where doctors found his hand dangling from one “tendon and some muscle that the surgeon had to untwist 6 times,” the park wrote on Facebook.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

COVID-19 in Leon: Cases, hospitalizations keep falling; CDC puts county at ‘medium’ risk” via Christopher Cann of the Tallahassee Democrat — New COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations continue to dwindle in Leon County. Between Aug. 19-25, there were 762 new infections in Leon County and the positivity rate was 19.3%. Two weeks prior, there were 973 new infections recorded throughout the county. A month ago, there were 1,779 new infections. Since March 2020, Leon County has had 104,149 COVID-19 infections. The county’s 2022 population, according to DOH, is approximately 305,147.

Leon County Commission candidate Christian Caban edges Lynda Bell after recount, will face Hannah Crow in runoff” via Aimee Sachs of Florida Politics — Almost a week after the Primary Election, the candidate going up against Crow in a Nov. 8 runoff for Leon County Commission District 2 has been determined, with Caban edging out Bell by just 13 votes. A recount became necessary in the seven-candidate race as Caban and Bell both garnered 15.9% of the vote, trailing Crow, who had 26%. Caban held a 13-vote lead over Bell, leading to the machine and manual recount.

Christian Cabal squeaks by on his way to the General Election.

Pensacola faces ‘tough choices’ as construction costs rise. What’s on the chopping block?” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — Rising prices are taking a toll on city projects, and the Pensacola City Council is looking to prioritize what projects will be implemented in the coming years. The city’s local option sales tax is taking in more revenue than ever; however, the rising cost of construction means that many of the cost estimates in the city’s LOST budget are out of date. Last week, the Pensacola City Council discussed potential changes to projects in the city’s LOST budget and considered the implications of a potential referendum in 2024 for another 10 years of LOST.

With 12 weeks left in office, what’s on Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson’s ‘to-do’ list?” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — Robinson is looking to complete his “to-do” list before leaving office in November. Over the next 12 weeks, Robinson will shepherd the approval of the 2023 city budget, look to land a final lease deal for parcels No. 4 and 5 at Community Maritime Park and submit a new Triumph Gulf Coast application for the Port of Pensacola. Robinson said during a news conference Monday he believes those will be three major items he works on during his final days as Mayor of Pensacola. “These are things we’ve been working on for a long time, and it’d be good to try to get those finished before we leave,” Robinson said. “So that’s what we’re going to be focused on at this point.”

— TOP OPINION —

It’s over: Trump will be indicted” via Brad Moss of the Daily Beast — You heard me right: I believe Trump will actually be indicted for a criminal offense. Even with all its redactions, the probable cause affidavit published today by the magistrate judge in Florida makes clear to me three essential points:

(1) Trump was in unauthorized possession of national defense information, namely properly marked classified documents.

(2) He was put on notice by the U.S. Government that he was not permitted to retain those documents at Mar-a-Lago.

(3) He continued to maintain possession of the documents (and allegedly undertook efforts to conceal them in different places throughout the property) up until the FBI finally executed a search warrant earlier this month.

That is the ballgame, folks. Absent some unforeseen change in factual or legal circumstances, I believe there is little left for the Justice Department to do but decide whether to wait until after the midterms to formally seek the indictment from the grand jury.

The cruelest irony for Trump is that it never needed to be this way. But Trump just could not bring himself to play by the rules.

— OPINIONS —

Loving Florida, losing Florida: The balance between increased tourism and the harm it’s causing” via Marlena Carrillo of WFSU — When Jeff Bowman first explored Key West in 1968, an expansive coral reef dominated the glimmering waters. There’s a heartbreaking difference between today’s Key West and the one Bowman first visited as an 11-year-old boy: The beautiful branching corals are disappearing. Since then, half of Florida’s corals have died off. Pristine waters draw tourism. But too much tourism, in turn, can harm pristine waters. Over-tourism is a phenomenon when so many visitors descend on a destination that it harms that destination.

Floridians should get to vote for ranked choice voting” via the Tampa Bay Times editorial board — Right now, Florida voters cast a ballot for one candidate in each race. Ranked choice voting, sometimes called instant runoff voting, comes in many forms. The basic idea is that voters don’t have to select only their top candidate, they can rank some or all of the candidates if they want. The candidate with the lowest number of votes is eliminated. When a voter’s first choice vote is eliminated, then their second-choice vote is counted. This keeps happening until a candidate gets a majority of the votes and wins the election.

— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —

— ALOE —

Artemis spectators left rain-soaked, disappointed with mission scrub” via Joe Mario Pedersen and Patrick Connolly of the Orlando Sentinel — After flying in from Seattle, 25-year-old Adrian Vasu was sitting in a beach chair Monday morning overlooking Port Canaveral in Jetty Park with his eyes glued to his phone displaying the live NASA feed for the Artemis I launch. “Launch director has called a scrub for the day,” an announcer on the live feed declared shortly after the 8:33 a.m. launch window opened. Vasu, a former NASA intern, stared for a moment in disbelief at his phone, and then lifted his head in the direction of Launch Pad 39-B where the 321-foot-tall rocket was experiencing an engine bleed. The next launch window for Artemis would be Friday, but Vasu’s flight home was Tuesday.

Wash out: Artemis 1 is scrubbed, leaving thousands disappointed.

Why more companies are putting Lego bricks in the office” via Daryl Austin of The Wall Street Journal — Last year, Lego posted nearly $7 billion in sales, up from about $2.2 billion in 2010. It is once again the top toy maker in the world. The latest driver of growth for Lego is those adults who were using the product at home are also bringing it into their workplace. Those companies and individuals bringing Lego products into the office say it helps with creativity, anxiety and communication. One driver of such growth is a program called Lego Serious Play. LSP is a training tool where employees are asked to address company concerns or aspirations by first building a small Lego model from a handful of bricks, then describing what they constructed and why.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Belated best wishes to Jeff Ivey, Legislative Affairs Director at the Florida Lottery. Celebrating today is Rep. Lauren Melo.

___

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

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