Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 9.7.22

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Good Wednesday morning.

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The Florida Chamber of Commerce is announcing General Election endorsements in over 100 state legislative races.

The endorsements come two weeks after the Chamber celebrated a successful Primary Election, with 37 out of 40 endorsed candidates winning a contested nominating contest.

Many of the General Election approvals are carried forward from the Primary Election or otherwise previously declared. There are some additions, however, with 10 new endorsements heading to state House candidates.

The list: Kim Daniels for HD 14, Kiyan Michael for HD 16, Doug Bankson for HD 39, Carolina Amesty for HD 45, Kim Berfield for HD 58, Berny Jacques for HD 59, Karen Gonzalez Pittman for HD 65, Andy Thomson for HD 91 and Jordan Leonard for HD 106.

Among 100 candidates receiving Chamber General Election endorsements — Carolina Amesty in HD 45.

The Chamber also endorsed Rep. Webster Barnaby, who narrowly defeated Rep. Elizabeth Fetterhoff in the HD 29 Republican Primary, the only member-on-member contest last month.

“Florida continues its growth at a rapid pace — with nearly 1,000 net new residents relocating to Florida every single day. While Florida continues its growth, we need strong leadership with bold and fresh ideas to continue championing economic freedom and a vibrant quality of life,” said Florida Chamber President and CEO Mark Wilson.

“The Florida Chamber has put forth a strategic plan to make Florida a top 10 global economy by 2030, and we trust that these candidates will keep us on a pathway to get there. This year, we’re proud to stand alongside these candidates for the Florida House and Senate, putting our experience behind getting them elected.”

The Chamber is endorsing 85 candidates running for state House and 27 who are running state for Senate. The list includes 53 incumbent Representatives and 17 incumbent Senators.

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Jessica Love has been promoted to senior government affairs adviser at GrayRobinson, the firm announced Wednesday.

Love has worked at the lobbying firm for over a decade, having previously been at a boutique firm representing construction and telecommunication industry interests at the state and local levels.

At GrayRobinson, Love represents a wide variety of clients, from professional associations to multinational corporations. She is also familiar with the state appropriations process and has worked to secure millions of dollars for state colleges and local government projects, and to help clients seeking allocations from the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund and Rebuild Florida Infrastructure Repair Program.

Congrats: Jessica Love gets a major boost at GrayRobinson.

“We are incredibly proud of all Jessica has accomplished as a lobbyist, especially her work on appropriations for our clients,” said Dean Cannon, president and CEO of GrayRobinson. “Her promotion to senior government affairs adviser is a testament to her continued excellence and professionalism as a government relations advocate.”

Love added: “Having been a part of the GrayRobinson family for the past 16 years, I couldn’t be more honored and grateful to receive this promotion. I’m excited to have the opportunity to partner with our talented senior team, whose valuable mentorship and guidance helped contribute to this achievement. I look forward to continuing to service our great clients and expand our brand as one of the largest legal-lobbying firms in the state.”

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The Associated Builders and Contractors Florida East Coast Chapter (ABC-FEC) is bringing on Jaylin Martir as its government and political affairs director.

Martir comes to ABC-FEC from the office of Rep. Anthony Rodriguez, where he worked as a legislative aide. He previously worked as the political affairs liaison for the Office of the Majority Leader of the Florida House and managed several political campaigns, including Rep. Juan Fernandez-Barquin’s.

More congrats: Jaylin Martir moves from legislative staffer to a director at ABC-FEC.

He graduated from Florida International University, earning his undergraduate degree and master’s degree in global affairs.

In his new role, Martir will coordinate the ABC-FEC’s government and political affairs efforts at the federal and local levels. He will also manage the organization’s educational outreach efforts.

“One of the cornerstones of ABC-FEC is its advocacy work on behalf of South Florida’s construction industry,” said Peter Dyga, president and CEO of ABC-FEC. “We are excited to have Jaylin join our team and work to make sure the construction industry’s voice is heard on a political level.”

___Welcome to the worldMelody Arnold of RSA Consulting and her husband, William, welcomed their new baby boy, Elliott Jordan Arnold, on Sept. 3. Here is a pic of them with their daughter, Frannie, and the new baby:

Even more congrats: Happy birthday to Elliott Jordan Arnold.

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A couple of other thoughts:

🪙 — Will an election denier be on your ballot in November? FiveThirtyEight reached out to 529 GOP nominees for House, Senate, Governor, Secretary of State, and Attorney General and found that, well, it’s pretty much a coin flip.

🤿 — The latest episode of “Deeper Dive with Dara Kam” features a conversation with suspended State Attorney Andrew Warren on a topic he’s become intimately familiar with — “the dangers of using political clout to oust opponents.”

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@JayRosen_NYU: In the spirit of, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth …” Everyone is non-partisan until one of the two political parties turns anti-democratic. Then you have to decide what to do, and all your soggy middle-isms won’t help you.

@BurgessEv: Sen. Rick Scott said he was not referring to Sen. (Mitch) McConnell as “treasonous” in his op-ed last week about people trash-talking GOP candidates

@ALevine014: There is nothing more powerful than when real people give their testimonial. @RonDeSantisFL has only just begun. @CharlieCrist can attack him all day long, but he can’t overcome the real experiences of real people.

@AnaCeballos_: DeSantis’ plan to bus unauthorized immigrants out of Florida was fully funded by GOP-led Legislature ($12 million), but the Governor said its implementation is on standby. His affiliated PAC, however, is paying for YouTube ads and asking supporters where to send them:

— DAYS UNTIL —

NFL Opening Night: LA Rams vs. Buffalo Bills — 1; 2022 Emmys — 5; JMI’s 2022 Tech & Innovation Summit begins — 8; final season of ‘Atlanta’ begins — 8; ‘Andor’ premieres on Disney+ — 14; vote-by-mail mailing deadline for General Election — 22; deadline to register for General Election — 34; 22-23 NHL season begins — 34; ‘Before You Vote’ TV debates (Senate) — 41; ‘Before You Vote’ TV debates (Governor) — 43; Taylor Swift’s ‘Midnights’ release — 44; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 47; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 48; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 48; Early voting begins for General Election — 52; 2022 General Election — 62; ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ premieres — 65; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 65; FITCon 2022 begins — 71; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 71; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 75; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 75; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 84; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 84; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 90; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 100; Bruce Springsteen launches his 2023 tour in Tampa — 147; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 163; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 181; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 198; American Association of Political Consultants Pollies’ 23 conference begins — 223; 2023 Session Sine Die — 240; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 240; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 268; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 317; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 422; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 436; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 569; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 688; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 688; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 793; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 971.

— TOP STORY —

According to a new survey from top-notch pollster Fabrizio Ward, the races for Governor and U.S. Senate are close.

According to the poll, DeSantis leads Democratic nominee Crist by three points, 50%-47%, while U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio holds just a two-point edge over U.S. Rep. Val Demings. In both races, the gap falls within the poll’s margin of error.

The tight margins can’t be pinned on small sample sizes or unrealistic turnout expectations. The poll, commissioned by AARP Florida, received responses from 1,626 likely General Election voters, and Republicans made up 40% of the sample compared to a 37% share for Democrats.

New polling shows Charlie Crist within a single-digit striking range of Ron DeSantis.

And their responses on issues questions don’t aberrate from similar measures or the current political vibe — pocketbook issues are front of mind; President Joe Biden’s job approval rating is underwater; DeSantis’ approval rating is above water, and abortion rights are a motivator for many women and Democratic voters.

Crosstabs abound. DeSantis is polling firmly with 50-plus voters (52%-45%), especially White voters over 50 (57%-40%). He also holds a 4-point edge among independents. Meanwhile, Crist has a 51%-46% lead among voters under 50 and a 56%-41% advantage among voters with a college degree.

A potential sign of concern for Rubio is his favorability rating. The poll found that 44% of likely voters see the second-term Senator in a positive light while 52% find him unfavorable. Though Demings is unknown to many voters, she still scored a plus-14, 42%-28%.

Fabrizio Ward conducted the poll Aug. 24-31. Responses were gathered via landline (30%), cellphone (35%), and text-to-web (35%). The top-line results have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points.

Poll: Economy is top priority for older voters in Governor, U.S. Senate races, but abortion, immigration rank high — A near supermajority of likely voters in Florida this year are concerned about the government’s impact on their personal finances, a new survey from AARP Florida found. The issue is on track to be the top factor driving the choices of voters aged 50-plus at the polls in both the Governor’s race and an intensifying contest for the U.S. Senate. But while economic issues have been consistent priorities for older Floridians — the state’s most active voting population — relatively recent developments concerning abortion, immigration, Social Security, and Medicare have pushed other mainstay matters to the wayside.

— DESANTIS V CRIST —

So far, Ron DeSantis has agreed to just one debate with Charlie Crist” via Jeffrey Schweers of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida’s political world erupted over the weekend on Twitter and other social media with rumors, confirmations, and cancellations of debate appearances by DeSantis against his Democratic opponent, U.S. Rep. Crist. When the dust settled, it was confirmed that DeSantis had agreed to a debate on a West Palm Beach station Oct. 12 but not to the larger, more widely broadcast, and long-running “Before You Vote” Oct. 20 debate.

Charlie Crist gets just one shot to debate Ron DeSantis.

Everglades Trust endorses DeSantis” via Lydia Nusbaum of Florida’s Voice — DeSantis received the endorsement of Everglades Trust on Tuesday. DeSantis touted the endorsement by noting the state’s $1.7 billion investment in Everglades restoration over four years. “I promised to make this a priority, and we’ve honored that commitment with record funding in record time,” DeSantis said. “In just four years, we have dedicated $1.7 billion to Everglades restoration, nearly the same amount spent over the 12 years prior to my administration.” The group tweeted their endorsement and praised the Governor for exceeding his pledge of $2.5 billion over the four years.

‘You had our backs:’ Floridians thank DeSantis in re-election ad for standing against lockdowns, keeping schools open” via Lydia Nusbaum of Florida’s Voice — The DeSantis campaign’s latest re-election television and digital advertisement showcases Floridians who are thankful for the Governor’s policies. The 60-second ad spotlights different Floridians talking about DeSantis’ accomplishments, including policies related to public safety, veterans, the economy, education, and the COVID-19 response.

To watch the ad, please click on the image below:

DeSantis targeted LGBTQ Floridians like no previous Governor. Now they’re working to defeat him.” via Zac Anderson of the USA Today Network — Zander Moricz started his freshman year at Harvard last month, but he’s still keeping an eye on Florida after clashing with Gov. DeSantis throughout the previous year. The first gay student body president at Pine View School in Sarasota County, Moricz led a student walkout at the school to protest HB 1557, which critics derided as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill. He later sued to overturn the law signed by DeSantis. Now Moricz is working to derail DeSantis’ re-election bid from his Harvard dormitory room in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He plans to rally the 2,000 members of an activist group he organized in Florida and nationwide in opposition to DeSantis’ re-election campaign.

Nonprofit funded with FPL cash backed DeSantis’ 2018 campaign” via Nicholas Nehamas and Mary Ellen Klas of the Miami Herald — In the run-up to the 2018 election, Broken Promises, a mysterious nonprofit group registered to a UPS box in the nation’s capital, gave $25,000 to a political committee called Consumer for Energy Fairness. It was the first donation the committee received that year. The next day, Consumers for Energy Fairness passed $25,000 to DeSantis’ political committee. The donation raised no eyebrows. The sum was a fraction of the nearly $59 million DeSantis collected in his successful bid for Governor. And there is no ban on DeSantis or any other candidate receiving money funneled from nonprofits like Broken Promises, which don’t have to disclose their donors.

Crist hires Nikki Fried’s political director to post-primary team” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Cramer Verde, president of the ACLU of Sarasota County, announced he has joined Crist’s team as Deputy Political Director. “Florida needs to unify and do everything it can to defeat DeSantis,” Verde tweeted. “Let’s get Charlie Crist and Karla Hernández elected!!!” Verde served as Fried’s political director until the Aug. 23 Democratic Primary. Crist won the Democratic nomination with 60% of the vote. That means Crist advances to take on the GOP incumbent, DeSantis, in the Nov. 8 General Election.

Assignment editors — Crist will hold events in northeast Florida: 10:45 a.m., news conference on property insurance, Jacksonville; 7 p.m., virtual Unidos con Crist meet and greet. Location and Zoom link upon RSVP at [email protected].

— 2022 —

Val Demings doubles down on dismissing voters’ concerns on inflation: ‘What my opponent says are important’” via Rebecca Downs of Townhall — Demings let her extremism on the issues really come out. This has consistently been on abortion, even when dismissing key issues like inflation. Demings is doubling down on the subject, in this instance, during a Hillsborough County Young Democrats Happy Hour. “We can talk about a woman’s right to choose. When we think about the headlines of today, you know, we hear about inflation, and yeah, we need to work to bring the costs down, right? We hear about the prices of gas. Yeah, we need to work to bring the price of gas down. We need to care about price gouging and market manipulation and all of those things. All those things are important.”

Val Demings doubles down. Image via A.G. Gancarski.

Jimmy Patronis bashes Big Tech in first re-election campaign ad” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — Patronis slammed large tech firms in the first advertisement of his re-election campaign, criticizing them for turning consumer data into a commodity. “Big Tech is too powerful. They know where you are, they know what you’re reading, they know what you ate for lunch,” Patronis says in the ad. “I want to stop them. These tech liberals in California think they can cancel us on social media; they can sell our data to big corporations and get rich off our backs.” The ad will run on television statewide starting Tuesday. The Patronis campaign released it in an email to the media with a link to the ad on YouTube.

To watch the ad, please click on the image below:

Loranne Ausley forges ‘Iron Will’ message, focuses on helping kids, in latest TV ad” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Sen. Ausley is highlighting her personal stake in the fight for North Florida kids in her latest re-election ad. Ausley, perhaps the most vulnerable incumbent Democrat seeking another term, faces a challenge in SD 3 from Republican Corey Simon, a former professional and Florida State football star. The 30-second TV ad, her second in as many months, focuses on her son, Will, and how he formed her fight for children. “Iron Will,” also the ad’s namesake, was born “way too early” and has special needs. In the ad, Ausley says he is a big reason she has fought for North Florida children, including for early childhood education, access to child care, and affordable health care.

To watch the ad, please click on the image below:

VoteVets endorses Raquel Pacheco for SD 36 — VoteVets PAC, which advocates on behalf of military veterans and their families, has endorsed Democrat Pacheco in the race for Senate District 36. “We at VoteVets are always so proud to see veterans committed to continuing their service after the uniform,” says Jon Soltz, an Iraq War veteran and chair of the VoteVets PAC. “In these turbulent political times, our veterans, communities and country need leaders like Raquel who will continue to serve the nation and put the country first.” Pacheco, a veteran and the first female “Soldier of the Year,” faces Republican Sen. Ileana Garcia in the General Election.

Doug Bankson gets $49K boost from Republican committee” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Bankson has a firm commitment from state Republicans to support his quest to take the new House District 39 seat in Central Florida. Bankson, an Apopka City Commissioner and church pastor, defeated Orange County Republican Chair Charles Hart and activist Randy Ross in the Aug. 23 Primary Election. A few days later, he picked up $49,000 from the Florida House Republican Campaign Committee and another $4,200 worth of in-kind research from the Republican Party of Florida. The House Republicans’ committee cash instantly replenished a campaign fund that Bankson’s campaign had spent nearly dry to defeat Hart and Ross.

Andrew Learned starts September with $196K cash-on-hand advantage against Danny Alvarez” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Rep. Learned entered the first week of September with double the cash-on-hand held by Republican challenger Alvarez, as the two face off for the newly drawn House District 69 seat. Learned, first elected to the state House in 2020, has $329,200 available between the campaign and affiliated committee, Serve Florida. That’s according to the most recent campaign finance reports, which span the week of the Primary Election from Aug. 19-26. On the other hand, Alvarez will start the General Election cycle with $132,499 cash.

Danny Alvarez starts the General Election campaign at a huge cash disadvantage against Andrew Learned.

— STATEWIDE —

Fried demands inquiry into election police over voter fraud arrests” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Fried is calling on investigators to probe the decision by the state election police to prosecute 20 felons accused of illegally voting in 2020, a decision she calls a publicity stunt. Fried, the lone Democratic member of the Florida Cabinet, wrote a letter Tuesday to the Department of State’s Inspector General requesting the office investigate the decision to charge the 20 individuals and how election personnel incorrectly registered the individuals to vote. “While under current law, these individuals were not eligible to vote, the persecution of this predominantly Black group of Floridians who broke the law without intent is not only disproportionate punishment but cruel,” Fried wrote.

DeSantis removed Tampa’s top prosecutor for ‘defiance’ on abortion law, but not Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony for outspoken opposition to anti-riot law” via Dan Christensen of the Florida Bulldog — When DeSantis removed and replaced Tampa-area State Attorney Andrew Warren, he said he acted because Warren had essentially gone rogue — declaring publicly he would not waste resources to prosecute abortion providers or doctors who provide gender-affirming care to transsexual youth or their parents. Yet DeSantis did not act last year after the Broward Sheriff showed similar public defiance about enforcing the anti-riot law enacted in the wake of nationwide protests demanding justice following the 2020 deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police.

What does Gregory Tony have that Andrew Warren doesn’t?

DeSantis names nine to 1st DCA nominating panel, including three Federalist Society members” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — DeSantis appointed nine individuals to the Judicial Nominating Commission for the 1st District Court of Appeal, including four reappointments. On Friday, DeSantis named Nathan Adams IV, Hayden Dempsey, Erik “Rick” Figlio, Amber Nunnally and James Percival II to the nominating panel. He also extended Edward Fleming, Benjamin Gibson, Gary Hunter Jr. and Peter Penrod for additional terms. At least three of DeSantis’ appointees are members of the Federalist Society.

DeSantis says ‘newcomers’ to Florida are often bad boaters” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — DeSantis suggests so, and that those lessons should happen sooner than later for recent transplants. The Governor said Tuesday that one difference between longtime Floridians and those new to the Sunshine State could be found in how they operate boats. “Newcomers,” per the Governor, have a bit of a learning curve before they navigate the state’s waterways with the aplomb of longtime residents, who apparently are more skilled navigators. “What are you going to learn to do? Like some, you can learn to golf,” DeSantis quipped. “But a lot of them learn to boat and fish.”

Florida begins rule making for transgender care restrictions — The Florida Board of Medicine and the Florida Board of Osteopathic Medicine have started the rule making process to “clarify” practice standards for gender dysphoria treatment in minors, Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO Florida reports. The boards officially began the process by issuing rule-development notices. The action came after Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo sent a letter to each board claiming that specific nonsurgical gender-affirming treatments carried an elevated risk for minors. Ladapo’s position runs counter to that of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association.

Budget panel to approve $175M in local projects” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — The Florida Legislative Budget Commission (LBC) is poised to sign off on $175 million in local spending projects as part of a fund set up in the budget allowing the 14-member panel to finance special projects after DeSantis made his vetoes. Some of the projects are similar to projects vetoed by DeSantis, including the largest, which sends $15 million to the University of South Florida’s St. Petersburg campus for a flood hub and applied research facility. DeSantis vetoed $75 million in the budget for USF’s Environmental and Oceanographic Sciences Research and Training facility.

Poll: 70% of Florida Hispanics oppose making abortion illegal, but it’s not biggest issue” via Stephany Matat of The Palm Beach Post — A large majority of Florida’s diverse Hispanic voters believe it’s wrong to make abortion illegal, even if it goes against their personal beliefs. But the contentious issue ranks far below other topics, mainly inflation, gun violence and jobs, as top priorities heading into the midterm elections. When asked what “the most important issues that elected officials should address,” respondents ranked inflation/rising cost of living (53%) as one of their top three. Coming second was crime/gun violence (38%), followed by jobs/economy (36%), health care (21%) and climate/environment (16%). Abortion, at 15%, was tied with a lack of affordable housing/high rents and Social Security and Medicare.

Hispanics want to keep abortion legal, but it isn’t a top priority. Image via The Associated Press.

Amid BayCare’s threat to leave Florida Blue, thousands of Floridians could be forced to pay out-of-pocket for health care” via Caden DeLisa of The Capitolist — Florida Blue and BayCare are locked into a stalemate over contract negotiations. If the two parties cannot reach an agreement, all BayCare hospitals, physicians, and facilities will be classified out-of-network for anybody covered by Florida Blue beginning Oct. 1. BayCare began discussions, demanding a double-digit percent increase for hospital services and a two-to-three-fold increase for its doctors, imaging, and accessory services. It would result in increased service and premium expenses. More than 85,000 Florida Blue customers will receive notes in the mail this week advising them that BayCare may opt-out of Florida Blue’s networks.

Two decades of citrus greening has pressured Florida’s famed citrus industry into decline” via Jesse Mendoza of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Idyllic advertisements showcasing Florida’s picturesque citrus groves once pushed consumers across the country to drink orange juice made in the Sunshine State. But for nearly two decades, a disease with no known cure has caused those groves to bear less and less fruit. This year, Florida produced the lowest number of oranges since World War II. Florida orange juice became an iconic breakfast staple across the country in the late 1940s after demand from the U.S. Army led to the development of orange juice concentrate, and a boom in Florida’s citrus industry ensued.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Joe Biden administration has admitted 1 million migrants to await hearings” via Eileen Sullivan of The New York Times — While immigration is among the country’s most hotly debated political issues, the focus is almost always on the surging numbers of people seeking to cross the southwestern border. Less attention has been paid to what happens to those who get released from government custody to lawfully await immigration court hearings and who end up scattered around the country. Some disappear into the shadows, never showing up for their court dates or required check-ins with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Others struggle to follow reporting requirements in a system that is ever more overloaded and unorganized.

What happens to the immigrants who lawfully wait for hearings?

Rick Scott amps up feud with Mitch McConnell about GOP Senate candidates” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — Scott, head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, offered his latest volley at the Kentucky Republican during interviews Tuesday. “A lot of the Washington crowd, what they want to do is pick the candidates,” Scott said on the Charlie Kirk show, regarding ongoing doubts on McConnell’s part that Republicans can retake the Senate this year. He offered similar takes on Fox Business Network. Countering McConnell’s worries about “candidate quality,” Scott offered a ringing endorsement of the “great candidates” running as Republicans this year. “Take J.D. Vance as an example,” Scott said. “They did a movie about his life. He understands the problems of drug addiction.”

—“Scott predicts a ‘hard time’ for Nancy Pelosi in Senate confirmation hearing” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

GOP still has inside track to House majority despite Dem gains” via Ally Mutnick, Sarah Ferris and Elena Schneider of POLITICO — Democrats had a summer they never thought possible. It still may not be enough to keep the House. A month of Special Election upsets and improved standing in generic ballot polling have narrowed a House battlefield that seemed to be expanding for the GOP into some heavily blue districts. The shift has lifted some Democratic incumbents out of immediate peril and made some Republican members squirm after feeling safe earlier this year. Republicans need to net only five seats to win the gavel.

— EPILOGUE TRUMP —

Material on foreign nation’s nuclear capabilities seized at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago” via Devlin Barrett and Carol D. Leonnig of The Washington Post — A document describing a foreign government’s military defenses, including its nuclear capabilities, was found by FBI agents who searched former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and private club last month, underscoring concerns among U.S. intelligence officials about classified material stashed in the Florida property. Some of the seized documents detail top-secret U.S. operations so closely guarded that many senior national security officials are kept in the dark about them.

Newly obtained surveillance video shows fake Donald Trump elector escorted operatives into Georgia county’s elections office before voting machine breach” via Zachary Cohen and Jason Morris of CNN — A Republican county official in Georgia escorted two operatives working with an attorney for Trump into the county’s election offices on the same day a voting system there was breached. The breach is now under investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and is of interest to the Fulton County District Attorney, who is conducting a wider criminal probe of interference in the 2020 election. The video sheds more light on how an effort spearheaded by lawyers and others around Trump to seek evidence of voter fraud was executed on the ground.

Election deniers in Georgia get a suspiciously timed escort.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

Miami-Dade said no to coastal wall. Feds agree to look at new hurricane protection options” via Alex Harris of the Miami Herald — Miami-Dade has another shot at a government-funded solution to its storm surge flooding problem. After the county rejected the plan last year, the federal government has agreed to look at its $6 billion proposal to address Miami-Dade’s risk of hurricane-driven flooding. The original plan involved elevating thousands of homes, flood-proofing important buildings like fire stations and hospitals, and even planting more mangroves in South Dade. Miami-Dade residents and politicians were mostly on board, especially with the promise of the feds footing most of the bill.

This former Commissioner’s pension is now the largest for a Miami elected official” via Joey Flechas of the Miami Herald — Miami taxpayers have just started paying for the largest pension of any elected official in the city’s retirement system, $127,210.66 a year for former City Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones. Spence-Jones, suspended and reinstated a decade ago after being acquitted of bribery and grand theft charges, recently received her first $10,600 monthly pension payment after turning 55 in August. She will get the same monthly amount for the rest of her life. Spence-Jones is the last former elected official to reach retirement age in the city’s pension program, which closed in 2009 during the financial crisis. Commissioners and Mayors elected after October 2009 are not eligible for a pension.

Michelle Spence-Jones is the final Miami Commission pensioner. Image via El Nuevo Herald.

Florida elected official still serves although she lives in Georgia” via David Volz of City & State Florida — A South Florida elected official’s family situation raises the question: Should a sitting City Commissioner still represent an area in which she no longer lives? Hollywood City Commissioner Linda Sherwood, who first took office in 2008, announced she would step down early from her current term ending in 2024 to care for a daughter in Georgia who suffers from a rare blood disease. Since then, she has continued to serve almost entirely remotely. But her March 16 vote in favor of a controversial 30-story condominium spurred opponents of the project to question her residency requirements to serve.

Broward’s elementary schools will start publishing their list of books. Some deemed ‘objectionable’ might get tossed.” via Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Every book at Broward’s elementary school libraries will be cataloged and posted online so parents can review content for anything they find objectionable. The School District is expected to formally vote on the new policy as early as next week to comply with the new state law. School district officials said Tuesday it has always cataloged its books for grades K-12, but what will be new is making that list easy to find on each elementary school’s website. Also new: teachers for grades pre-K through the third grade must be sure no content is about sexual orientation or gender identity.

Dr. Mehmet Oz bought Palm Beach mega-mansion with help of man embroiled in immigration fraud scheme” via Graham Kates of CBS News — Among Pennsylvania U.S. Senate candidate Oz’s 18 known real estate investments, none is larger or more valuable than Louwana, a 10-bedroom historic beachfront mansion in Palm Beach. The 18,559-square-foot estate has been valued at more than $36 million. Oz bought the mansion in 2015 with the help of Florida attorney Leslie Evans, whom the deed describes as a trustee for the property. The year before, Evans was involved in purchasing a foreclosed Connecticut mansion. It was a transaction that became central to federal fraud cases filed in 2018 that saw four other people plead guilty to bilking investors out of millions.

—LOCAL: C. FL —

Assignment editors — Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, and local business, elected, community and labor leaders will announce the start of the campaign to support Orange County’s transportation sales tax initiative: 11 a.m., Orlando International Airport, Terminal C, Intermodal Transportation Facility (Train Station), 1 Jeff Fuqua Blvd, Orlando. RSVP with Rachael Kobb at [email protected] or (610) 639-0183.

Teresa Jacobs reports to ethics panel accidental use of email list” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — Jacobs, newly re-elected as chair of the Orange County School Board, said her campaign accidentally used a part of a school district database for election messages. Jacobs reported the incident to the Florida Commission on Ethics, telling the agency she did not think what happened amounted to an ethics violation. But she wanted to report the mistake so the Commission could decide and, if there was a violation, she could pay any required fines and “rectify this unfortunate and inadvertent error.”

Teresa Jacobs slips up, asks for forgiveness.

Hernando County embarks on its own transportation surtax” via Henry Queen of the Tampa Bay Business Journal — Hillsborough County isn’t the only local municipality looking to fund transportation improvements through a surtax this fall. Hernando County, directly north of Pasco, will ask voters on Nov. 8 to approve a 0.5% increase in sales taxes to fund road widening and renovations to recreational parks. The move has been endorsed by the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce and the city of Brooksville. “The traffic in the county continues to get more congested all the time as we have grown at a very high rate in the last couple of years,” County Administrator Jeff Rogers said in an interview.

Booz Allen plans to add 100 to 150 employees to its high-tech Melbourne staff” via Dave Berman of Florida Today — After technology and consulting company Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. acquired Liberty IT Solutions LLC in June 2021, it expanded the company’s 200-employee Melbourne operations to more than 300. And it now could be hiring 100 to 150 more people within a year for the Melbourne operation. Booz Allen’s Melbourne “Agile Center of Excellence” is primarily involved in software development for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The Melbourne operation also does work for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, as well as flight safety software applications for the Federal Aviation Administration.

— LOCAL: SW. FL —

No charges over sign scuttle for Carol Whitmore” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Prosecutors will not pursue any charges against Manatee County Commissioner Whitmore over allegations she stole her opponents’ signs. State Attorney Susan Lopez informed DeSantis in writing that no charges will be filed against the Republican, who last month lost in a GOP Primary to newcomer Jason Bearden. “The State cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant possessed the criminal intent to steal the signs,” read a memo from Lopez.

Carol Whitmore gets a pass in the sign kerfuffle.

Collier planning board votes against land use change to allow medical marijuana dispensaries” via Laura Layden of the Naples Daily News — The Collier County Planning Commission has sided against opening the door to medical marijuana dispensaries. In a unanimous decision Thursday night, Commissioners agreed to recommend keeping the status quo. Currently, dispensaries are not allowed anywhere in the unincorporated area, essentially anywhere outside of city limits in Collier. Cities make their own rules. Collier County Commissioners are expected to vote on whether to reverse course next month. Two hearings are scheduled for Oct. 11 and 25. Allowing the dispensaries would require an amendment to the county’s land development code.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

Kristin Dozier gets donor boost after narrow primary win in Tallahassee Mayor’s race” via Jeff Burlew of the Tallahassee Democrat — Leon County Commissioner Dozier raised more than three times the amount of Mayor John Dailey, her rival in the Tallahassee mayoral race, in the three days immediately following the Aug. 23 primary. Dozier, who scored a narrow lead in the primary over Dailey, raised $12,210 from Aug. 24 through Aug. 26. Dozier’s campaign touted the haul in an Aug. 31 email blast to supporters, saying voters were ready “for an end to the status quo.” In an interview, Dozier noted she got a mix of small and large donations.

Will Tallahassee and the capital region be ground zero in Florida voter fraud crackdown?” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat — Scores of voters in Leon and Gadsden counties may become the next targets in DeSantis’ war on voter fraud, according to a crime and fraud researcher who last year first notified local authorities of ineligible voters participating in the 2020 election. The names of 22 convicted sex offenders Peter Antonacci, head of the Office of Election Crimes and Security, has forwarded to state attorney Jack Campbell to investigate were on a list of 35 suspected ineligible voters, sex offenders, and other felons, researcher Mark Glaeser sent to the Leon and Gadsden elections supervisors’ offices in December.

In Ron DeSantis’ war on voter fraud, Tallahassee may be ground zero.

— TOP OPINION —

DeSantis attack on ESG repudiates its superior returns” via Matthew Winkler of Bloomberg — The latest salvo from DeSantis assails the giants of money management for opposing fossil fuel, voter suppression, and the criminalizing of reproductive rights (policies the Governor champions) while embracing investment strategies furthering sustainability or meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

Asset allocation based on environmental, social and governance — ESG — criteria is at least a $35 trillion industry, a figure 53% greater than the U.S. economy in 2021, according to the Global Sustainable Investment Alliance.

DeSantis would have us believe that the third-most-populous state will have no part of ESG in Florida’s $240 billion portfolio of more than 30 pension and disaster funds.

“From Wall Street banks to massive asset managers and big tech companies, we have seen the corporate elite use their economic power to impose policies on the country that they could not achieve at the ballot box,” the Governor said in his July 27 “Initiatives to Protect Floridians from ESG Financial Fraud,” approved by the State Board of Administration last month. DeSantis said his “actions” prohibiting the SBA “from considering ESG factors when investing” state money “are protecting” more than 21 million Floridians “from woke capital.”

But DeSantis is less than meets the eye in the newfangled investment web he created. By excluding ESG, Florida violates its own initiatives, which “require SBA fund managers to only consider maximizing the return on investment on behalf of Florida’s retirees.”

— OPINIONS —

Why (and how) Biden should decline to run again” via A.B. Stoddard of The Bulwark — Biden’s approval rating is on the rise. He has now signed more consequential legislation, with slimmer margins and in less time, than any President in recent history. Inflation is down, gas prices are way down, and Democratic voter enthusiasm is up. Meanwhile, Biden’s most likely 2024 opponent is the focus of multiple criminal investigations. This potential challenger is a defeated U.S. President who chose to steal top secret documents and threaten our national security, after inspiring a deadly insurrection and trying to steal an election. So, it’s time for Biden to hang it up. Really.

Election cops turn confusion into hyped-up voter fraud” via Fred Grimm of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The 18 woeful ex-felons busted last month, the first arrests by Florida’s Office of Election Crimes and Security, hardly seemed the stuff of a crime-busting governor’s big show. Not to mention the inconvenient likelihood that the charges won’t stick. DeSantis announced the arrests in Fort Lauderdale on Aug. 18 with a ballyhoo one might expect after the roundup of international arms smugglers. Reporters discovered that most, perhaps all, of the 20 election fraud cases lack a necessary element for criminal conviction: willful intent.

Laura Loomer lost, but naturally, she claims she won” via the Sun Sentinel editorial board — Loomer’s tearful insistence that she won Florida’s Aug. 23 Republican Primary despite losing to U.S. Rep. Dan Webster by nearly 6,000 votes in a suburban Orlando district. Loomer accused party leaders of “participating in the voter-fraud machine,” claimed to “actually” be the representative from District 11, demanded that Webster resign, and called on her supporters to not vote for him in November. Naturally, Loomer has no evidence. Like her inspirational model Trump, she’s either clinically delusional, cunningly cynical or both. No one tampered with the election.

St. Pete Mayor Ken Welch has a real credibility problem now” via Joe Henderson of Florida Politics — Mayor Welch should understand that Janelle Irwin Taylor, his former Communications Director, now has much more credibility than he does. You can bet your last dollar that when Irwin Taylor said that if there was a “toxic work environment” in the Mayor’s office, it was the truth. She pointed the accusing finger at Deputy Mayor Stephanie Owens for creating that mess, along with a “culture of bullying.” Owens quickly resigned, but the story didn’t end there. It’s just beginning. If Welch knew that Owens was toxic and bullying but did nothing about it, that would be either neglect or cowardice. He could pay a steep political price for that.

Madeline Pumariega: Florida’s colleges lead the way in affordability” via Florida Politics — Florida’s Governor, Legislature, education leaders and trustees have had the vision and courage to freeze the cost of tuition for more than a decade, passing legislation to make college and textbooks more affordable. They have also enacted programs such as the Open Door Grant and Last Mile to expedite the completion of short-term, high-demand programs at Florida College System (FCS) institutions. Students attending the Sunshine State’s colleges have enjoyed high-quality educational pathways to the workforce without the burden of student loan debt. So before taking on any debt, enroll at one of our great colleges and receive a first-rate, affordable education that will fast-track your career success. Our state’s elected and education leaders deserve our appreciation for their foresight.

— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —

— ALOE —

Gas prices turn back downward through Labor Day weekend” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The average price of a gallon of gasoline declined 9 cents in the past eight days, providing some relief to Labor Day travelers and setting a new summer of 2022 low. Drivers across Florida are finding gas prices averaging $3.52 statewide, down from the $3.61 shown in AAA’s previous weekly report on Aug. 29. The $3.52 also falls below the earlier low for the summer of $3.53 that AAA recorded in late August. A brief rise followed that prior mark in gas prices during the last week in August.

There’s just a little less pain at the pump lately.

Pasco school buses become science lesson on CNG to cut greenhouse gas emissions” via Florida Politics — As Pasco County students board the bus to school each morning, many are stepping aboard a science lesson on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Pasco County Schools will soon open its sixth transportation compound that will feature a fast-fill compressed natural gas (CNG) station, housing up to 90 CNG buses. These buses produce 13% less greenhouse gas, 95% less nitrogen oxide, and 80% less hydrocarbon. “CNG is fast becoming a safe and viable transportation fuel alternative. When companies choose to convert their fleets to CNG, it reflects their commitment to the environment,” said Dale Calhoun, executive director of the Florida Natural Gas Association.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Celebrating today are Sen. Bobby Powell, Chris Cate, Mike’s much-better half, Melanie Griffin, journalist Chris Hong, and Jenna Sarkissian.

___

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

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