Good Tuesday morning.
In a night filled with insults, a jeering crowd, and two candidates who found little common ground, Gov. Ron DeSantis and Democratic challenger Charlie Crist shared the stage for the first and only time of the 2022 gubernatorial campaign Monday.
Although both candidates shook hands at the debate’s conclusion, the barbs jabbed at each other are set to linger for the next two weeks until Election Day on Nov. 8.
DeSantis is the front-runner in the race and eyes a ticket to four more years in the Governor’s Mansion, running on a record of Florida’s economic strength and furthering conservative values. For Crist, a former Congressman and Republican Governor, Monday night’s debate was an opportunity to tell voters DeSantis lacks the demeanor to lead Florida and the willingness to commit to another full four years as Governor.
In the opening third of the debate, Crist directly asked DeSantis whether he would commit to four years as Governor, playing up widespread speculation that DeSantis intends to challenge President Joe Biden in 2024 for the White House. The Governor did not answer the question — and debate moderator Liz Quirantes of WPEC noted that the candidates agreed to not ask each other questions — but DeSantis hung a pregnant pause before delivering an answer in his own way.
“The only worn-out, old donkey I’m looking to put out to pasture is Charlie Crist,” DeSantis said.
On numerous culture war issues, like immigration, schools’ handling of LGBTQ issues and gender-affirming care, Crist took aim at DeSantis’ ability to lead.
“I don’t know if you ever knew the golden rule, but clearly you have forgotten it,” Crist said. “You don’t have the temperament to be kind and decent to other people who don’t look like you, who don’t act like you, and don’t contribute to you.”
While abortion surged as a top issue for voters this Summer after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the economy has retaken center stage as a priority, swinging polls back in Republicans’ favor.
On the economy, citing a letter to the Governor that Crist co-signed at the height of the pandemic, DeSantis said Crist would have shut down businesses and schools had he been in charge.
“I took a lot of flak in the process, but through it all, I was always more concerned about protecting your job than I was about saving my own,” DeSantis said. “I took the arrows so you wouldn’t have to.”
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio holds a touchdown lead among Hispanic voters two weeks out from Election Day.
According to a new poll from Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy, the incumbent Republican is polling at 49% among Hispanic voters statewide while Democratic U.S. Rep. Val Demings is sitting at 42%.
Another 7% are undecided, while 2% are eyeing one of the also-rans.
Rubio, who hails from Miami and is the son of Cuban immigrants, ran up the score among Hispanic voters living in South Florida and those of Cuban heritage, leading by 50 points in the latter bloc. Hispanic voters in the Tampa Bay region also prefer him 56%-38%.
He is likewise crushing Demings 55%-36% with voters who were born outside of the United States. The Democrat holds a statistically insignificant lead (46%-45%) among U.S.-born Hispanic voters.
Demings does perform well with certain slices of the broad demographic. Puerto Rican voters back her 59%-32%, and Hispanic voters in Central Florida — her home turf — break toward her by seven points, 48%-41%. She also leads by eight points among a catchall of Hispanic voters who are neither Cuban nor Puerto Rican.
But other cross tabs spell trouble for the challenger. About one in seven Hispanic Democrats say she has not earned her vote, while Rubio has 93% of Hispanic Republicans in his corner.
The Mason-Dixon poll was conducted Oct. 17-20. It has a sample size of 625 Hispanic voters who said they planned to cast a ballot in the Nov. 8 General Election. The margin of error on the top-line result is plus or minus 4%.
Off embargo — “Telemundo/LX News poll: Marco Rubio commands 7-point lead among Hispanic voters” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Matching DeSantis’ strength, Rubio also holds a 7-point lead over his Democratic challenger. Rubio leads Demings 49%-42% among Hispanic likely voters with two weeks left in his re-election race. Rubio, the son of Cuban exiles, found support equivalent to DeSantis among Latinos with Cuban backgrounds, winning that electorate 72%-22%. Along with Tuesday’s Rubio-Demings results, the Telemundo/LX News poll also surveyed voters on certain issues and their media habits.
The Florida Chamber of Commerce’s 2022 Future of Florida Forum continues today in Orlando with another batch of presentations and panels featuring some of the top business and policy leaders in the state.
After a Monday agenda focused on education and workforce issues, Tuesday will see the programming turn toward health care, affordable housing, infrastructure and more.
The first half of the schedule will highlight an issue that has drawn a slew of attention and a couple of Special Session calls this year: Property insurance.
After an intro from Shutts & Bowen managing partner Jason Gonzalez, American Tort Reform Association President Sherman “Tiger” Joyce will detail how frivolous litigation has contributed to the market’s tailspin and what the state can do to course correct.
Housing issues will take center stage next with a presentation from ANF Group VP Arthur “AJ” Meyer on the root causes of the current crisis.
Several forward-looking segments follow, including discussions of what Florida’s transportation system might look like — and how it can get there — come 2030.
Florida Transportation Builders’ Association President Ananth Prasad, a former FDOT Secretary, will moderate that panel, which will include Florida Ports Chair and Port Tampa Bay CEO Paul Anderson, former FDOT Secretary and Greater Orlando Aviation Authority CEO Kevin Thibault and Brightline Trains SVP of Corporate Development Christine Kefauver.
The Forum will wrap with a few segments more relevant to the short-term, including slot on the 2020 Midterm Election featuring Cornerstone Solutions founder and President Rick Asnani, political and media strategist Max Goodman of The Max Goodman Agency, and Florida Politics’ own Peter Schorsch.
The full Day Two agenda is available on the Florida Chamber’s website.
The Southern Group is opening a regional office in Broward County.
The Broward office marks the seventh location for the firm, which ranks among Florida’s top firms in terms of size and revenue. Additionally, TSG announced that government veteran and campaign strategist Heidi Richards is coming aboard to lead the new office.
Richards is a former Chief of Staff to former Broward County Commissioner and Mayor Dale V.C. Holness. Her hire brings years of experience in transportation, housing, infrastructure and economic development issues to the firm.
“Heidi is the perfect choice to launch The Southern Group’s Broward presence,” said Paul Bradshaw, the founder and chair of The Southern Group. “Her amazing work ethic and intellect propelled her to the top ranks of Broward County government, and those same traits will serve our clients well when she represents them before government. She understands the process, policies, and personalities that drive government in Broward County, and that depth of understanding will be invaluable to our clients.”
Over the course of her career, Richards has helped marshal several high-profile projects across the finish line including a $1 billion convention center and hotel project, a $30 million port project, a $95 million runway reconstruction project, and a $122 million transportation surtax initiative.
“Heidi is a relationship builder,” said Broward County Mayor Michael Udine. “Her understanding of policy and strong connections in Broward County and South Florida enable her to navigate the private and the public sectors effectively while doing both with great professionalism. Those qualities will make her a strong asset to The Southern Group team.”
A couple of other notes:
🧐 — Pollsters look for lessons in 2016, 2020 elections: It’s no secret that polls largely underestimated support for Donald Trump in the past two Presidential Elections. Now, they’re taking a variety of steps to improve accuracy. A Wall Street Journal analysis takes a look at what those steps are, and whether they’ll work as more and more strategists, and Americans at large, question the veracity of polling numbers. Read more here.
💭 — Top issues are benefiting Republicans: Momentum is on the GOP’s side as surveys increasingly suggest the Republican Party may retake one or both chambers of Congress. Nate Cohn’s latest New York Times newsletter suggests every Senate race, except for Georgia’s, is trending toward the GOP, with warning signs for Democrats in House races that aren’t typically competitive, such as in Oregon and Rhode Island. The explanation, Cohn describes, is pretty straightforward: it’s all about what is top of mind for voters. Earlier in the election cycle, Democrats were surging on issues related to abortion, gun violence and threats to democracy. But that roar has quieted, morphing instead into concerns over the economy, crime and immigration, all topics on which Republicans thrive.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@JimmyPatronis: “The only old donkey I’m looking to put out to pasture is Charlie Crist.” — @GovRonDeSantis Best line of the night. 🤣🤣 #VoteDeSantis
—@Scott_Maxwell: And there it is. Question is specific: After what week of pregnancy should abortion be banned? DeSantis refuses to answer. Moderator doesn’t follow up. That’s precisely what he wanted.
—@bruceritchie: “We’re going to leave it there,” the moderator says. Drink!
—@MaryEllenKlas: Debate takeaway: There is a reason why groups like the Florida Press Association and Leadership Florida have been allowed to host Florida gubernatorial debates in the past. They have experience knowing what works, how to manage crowds, and egocentric candidates.
—@TamaraLush: Seriously. I want a journalist to tally up the debate minutes based on trans issues vs. insurance
—@jacobogles: Just noting that @CharlieCrist is already flooding social with video clips, and I have yet to see one with @RonDeSantisFL’s voice. I’m sure that will change. But those clips are being retweeted as we speak.
—@WajahatAliL: DeSantis is not a national player based on tonight’s debate. I know MAGA donors think he is, but he is going to wilt under those bright lights in 2024. Can’t wait for him to be exposed to actual pressure.
—@MattOrtega: DeSantis looks ready to be 2024’s Ted Cruz.
—@JesseScheckner: One big takeaway from this debate is that DeSantis is FAR better when there isn’t someone onstage to argue with him. The opposite is true for (Donald) Trump.
— DAYS UNTIL —
City & State Florida Digital Summit — 2; 2022 General Election — 14; ‘The Crown’ Season 5 returns — 15; ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ premieres — 17; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 17; FITCon 2022 begins — 23; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 23; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 27; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 30; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 39; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 39; 2022 Florida Chamber Annual Insurance Summit — 41; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 42; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 52; final Broadway performance of ‘The Music Man’ with Hugh Jackman — 68; Bruce Springsteen launches his 2023 tour in Tampa — 99; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 115; final performance of ‘Phantom of the Opera’ on Broadway — 116; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 133; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 151; American Association of Political Consultants Pollies ’23 conference begins — 175; 2023 Session Sine Die — 192; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 192; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 220; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 269; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 374; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 521; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 577; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 640; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 640; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 682; ‘Deadpool 3’ premieres — 745; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 843; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 920. ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,109.
— TOP STORY —
“A swing state no more? GOP confidence grows in Florida” via Steve Peoples, Adriana Gomez Licon and Brendan Farrington of The Associated Press — Democrats are increasingly concerned that Florida, once the nation’s premier swing state, may slip away this fall and beyond as emboldened Republicans capitalize on divisive cultural issues and population shifts in crucial contests for Governor and the U.S. Senate.
The anxiety was apparent last week during a golf cart parade of Democrats featuring Senate candidate Demings at The Villages. It was once a politically mixed part of the state where elections were often decided but now some Democrats now say they feel increasingly isolated.
“I am terrified,” said 77-year-old Sue Sullivan, lamenting the state’s rightward shift. “There are very few Democrats around here.”
Demings, who is challenging Rubio, conceded that her party’s Midterm message isn’t resonating as she had hoped.
The frustration is the culmination of nearly a decade of Republican inroads in Florida, where candidates have honed deeply conservative social and economic messages to build something of a coalition that includes rural voters and Latinos, particularly Cuban Americans. Trump’s win here in 2016 signaled the evolution after the state twice backed Barack Obama.
Trump carried Florida by more than 3 percentage points, a remarkable margin in a state where elections were regularly decided by less than a percentage point.
To the horror of many Democrats, DeSantis could become the first Floridian to win a Governor’s race by more than 1 point since 2006. That kind of showing might lift Rubio in the U.S. Senate election while helping the GOP win as many as 20 of the state’s 28 U.S. House seats.
“We’re no longer a swing state. We’re actually annihilating the Democrats,” said Florida GOP Chair Joe Gruters.
— 2022 —
“Joe Biden predicts Democrats will turn the tide, despite polls” via Kelly Garrity of POLITICO — Biden said he was optimistic about an eleventh-hour swing in Democrats’ favor, despite polls showing Republican candidates gaining momentum in a number of tight Midterm races. “You know whether we maintain control of the Senate and the House is a big deal, and so far, we’re running against the tide, and we’re beating the tide,” Biden said at an event at the Democratic National Committee headquarters. In recent weeks, polls have shown Republicans gaining in key Senate races.
“Ron DeSantis won’t say he intends to serve full second term” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — On Monday night, DeSantis refused to answer a direct question from Crist in the sole debate of the 2022 gubernatorial campaign. “Aren’t you supposed to be helping us the entire four years instead of just the last year? And Ron, you talk about Joe Biden a lot. I understand. You think you’re going to be running against him. I can see where you might get confused.” “But you’re running for Governor. You’re running for Governor. I have a question for you: If you’re running for Governor, why don’t you look in the eyes of the people of the state of Florida and say to them that if you’re re-elected, you will serve a full four-year term as Governor.” DeSantis stayed silent.
Crist campaign announces $200K raised post-debate, 3.5M Twitter impressions — The money came from nearly 7,000 donors, half are first-time donors. “Charlie Crist delivered a game-changing debate performance,” said Campaign Manager Sydney Throop. “He held Ron DeSantis accountable for his disgusting attacks on a woman’s right to choose and exposed Ron for the coward he is for dodging multiple questions on how long he even would stay in office if re-elected. Charlie proved DeSantis can’t answer for his record of making Florida the most unaffordable state, and thousands across Florida and our nation agree.”
“DeSantis breaks with Donald Trump on early voting: ‘Can’t be complacent’” via Miles Cohen of ABC News — DeSantis is urging supporters to cast their ballots sooner rather than later, despite calls from Trump and some other Republicans to wait until Nov. 8. DeSantis has made election integrity a key issue since Trump began trumpeting false claims of a stolen 2020 election and has supported various measures to that end, including the creation of an election police force which made controversial fraud arrests in August. But the Governor has also repeatedly noted that Florida voters should feel confident in their own elections and feel confident voting early or by mail, two methods that Trump has baselessly criticized as allowing fraud.
“Mail voting tops 1.2 million in Florida with more than two weeks to Midterm Elections” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — More than 1.2 million Florida voters have already cast their Midterm Election ballots, before the candidates for Governor face off in their only debate. It reflects a continuing desire by many to vote from the comfort of their homes, rather than lining up at an early voting center or Election Day polling place. Democrats, as of Sunday, were ahead of Republicans. But that doesn’t foreshadow the results and doesn’t give the Democrats reason to cheer or Republicans cause to panic. “We’re still far enough away from the turn-in deadline that it’s a little too early to tell,” said Richard DeNapoli, the elected state Republican Committeeman from Broward and a former county Republican Party Chair.
“Thousands head to the polls for early voting in South Florida” via Lisa J. Huriash of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Thousands of voters across South Florida headed to the polls on Monday, deciding not to wait until the last minute. In-person early voting runs through Nov. 6, letting eager voters cast their ballot ahead of the Nov. 8 General Election. The polls are open each day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. “Everyone seems happy,” declared Joe Scott, Broward’s Elections Supervisor. “So far so good.”
“As early voting begins, Florida Democrats hold slight lead in mail ballots” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — Florida Democrats have turned in 46,754 more mail ballots than Republicans as of Monday morning. But that slender advantage, which they also held in the last two election cycles, still ended in defeat on Election Day in 2020 and 2018. Early voting began Monday, and with little more than two weeks before the Nov. 8 General Election, the initial data show voters are likely to vote by mail at higher levels than in 2018 before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, but not as much as during the peak of the pandemic in 2020.
Happening today — Early voting expands to Sumter County, adding to the 37 counties which began Monday. All counties must open early voting from Oct. 29 to Nov. 5 but can start earlier.
“Polling place changes, bus rides and start of early voting in Collier for Election 2022” via Bill Smith of the Naples Daily News — Voters in Collier County will see some things that are a bit different at the polls this year. Besides casting ballots in elections for Florida Governor, Cabinet and U.S. House and U.S. Senate, voters also will make choices for state House and Senate, School Board, County Commission and Marco Island City Council. Election Day is Nov. 8. Early in-person voting begins Oct. 27 and ends Nov. 5.
“Five things to know about Lee County changes in Election 2022” via Bill Smith of the Fort Myers News-Press — The impact of Hurricane Ian will be felt at polling places this year since the state has changed voting rules in Lee to make it easier for people displaced during Hurricane Ian. The rules mean extended early voting hours so voters’ choices will count in their home precinct, even if their home is uninhabitable or has been destroyed. Lee will have ballot-on-demand. “We can extend early voting all the way through Election Day. Our plan is to open 12 sites — it will be just like early voting all the way through election day,” said Lee County Election Supervisor Tommy Doyle.
“Tom Brady and DeSantis are said to be on texting terms” via Reid J. Epstein of The New York Times — Brady, the seven-time Super Bowl champion, has for years been the subject of public affection from Trump. But according to Tim Michels, the Republican nominee for Wisconsin Governor, Brady is now on texting terms with another Republican seen as a White House contender: DeSantis of Florida. DeSantis attended a Green Bay Packers football game last month and spent part of the game texting with Brady. Brady first expressed support for Trump in 2015, when he was the quarterback of the New England Patriots. He signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020.
“Charlie Crist surrogates preach GOTV gospel at ‘Revive the Vote’ events” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Crist’s campaign held a series of events intended to drive turnout ahead as early voting starts. The “Revive the Vote” gatherings, held in church settings, served as a chance for campaign surrogates in minority communities to proselytize on the importance of defeating DeSantis. Karla Hernández, Crist’s running mate, said the events marked a chance to speak to voters in important settings. She gathered in Key West with voters at Cornish Memorial AME Zion Church. “As a woman of faith, speaking with the attendees was extremely meaningful,” Hernández tweeted. “Thank you to Pastor Rochelle Pearson-McEntyre for the warm welcome.”
Assignment editors — Hernández will join elected officials, Democratic candidates, local activists, and community members for an early voting news conference: 5:15 p.m., Kissimmee. Location upon RSVP at [email protected].
Florida Democrats put $303K into Crist ads — The Florida Democratic Party made a $203,475 broadcast buy backing Crist’s campaign. The ad spend, through a 3PAC that also supports state Reps. Anna Eskamani and Carlos Guillermo Smith, will place ads on broadcast today through Monday. According to AdImpact, the flight includes bookings in the Ft. Meyers, Jacksonville, Orlando, Tallahassee, Tampa and West Palm Beach markets. The 3PAC also dropped $100,083 on cable ads airing on the same dates and in the same six markets. Meanwhile, Crist’s campaign made a $155,505 broadcast buy, which will also run today through Monday. It directs $133,755 to the Miami market with smaller reservations in the Tampa and Orlando markets.
“‘It’s over’: New Miami-Dade poll foreshadows commanding Ron DeSantis win” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — New polling data that shows DeSantis enjoying much more support there than his progressive challenger. Public Communications Group surveyed 6,656 registered Miami-Dade voters online in English and Spanish Oct. 12-21. The survey had a 2-percentage-point margin of error. Its finding: DeSantis may finally break through and win as a Republican gubernatorial candidate in Miami-Dade for the first time in two decades. And even if he doesn’t, Crist doesn’t carry the support necessary to re-establish the county as a Democratic stronghold. “(The) data tells a clear story — with Miami-Dade trending heavily toward Ron DeSantis, the only thing that might give Charlie Crist a chance of becoming Governor would be DeSantis aggressively campaigning for him over the next two weeks. Translation: It’s over. And it’s going to be ugly,” said Democratic consultant Evan Ross.
“Forget the polls, left-leaning grassroots organization looking to turn out unlikely voters” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — A Miami-based LGBTQ advocacy group is looking to harness Broward County’s demographic and Democratic might this election, focusing its ground game on a county that has typically lagged in voter turnout. Safeguarding American Values for Everyone (SAVE) has been mostly focused on Miami-Dade County since it began in 1993, but its leaders see recent legislation as an urgent reason to shift its focus. Among Broward County’s nearly 1.3 million voters, 48%, or nearly 600,000 of them, are registered Democrats. In raw votes, that’s enough Democrats to outvote Sumter County five times over.
— 2022: CONGRESSIONAL —
“Man wearing Marco Rubio shirt and DeSantis hat ‘brutally attacked’ in Hialeah, Senator says” via Michelle Marchante, Bianca Padró Ocasio and Charles Rabin of the Miami Herald — A canvasser wearing a Rubio T-shirt and a DeSantis hat was “brutally attacked” in Hialeah Sunday night. Rubio alleged on social media that four attackers, whom he described as “animals,” told the canvasser that “Republicans weren’t allowed in their neighborhood.” Hialeah Police confirmed a man handing out fliers had been beaten and that an arrest had been made. But they made no mention of the canvasser’s party affiliation or his possible links to the Senator or Governor’s campaigns and provided an account of the incident that involved only one attacker.
Val Demings places another $94K on TV — Demings has made a $93,834 broadcast buy. According to AdImpact, the flight will cover ads airing today through Monday in the Tampa, West Palm Beach, Tallahassee and Miami media markets. More than two-thirds of the money ($67,429) will be deployed in Tampa.
Aaron Bean adds $16K to broadcast buy — Republican Aaron Bean has booked $15,825 in broadcast time for his campaign in Florida’s 4th Congressional District. The state Senator’s buy covers ads airing today through Monday in the Jacksonville media market. The spend is an expansion of a prior buy that now totals $53,895. Bean faces Democrat L.J. Holloway in the General Election. The district covers a portion of Northeast Florida and has a sizable Republican advantage.
Anna Paulina Luna drops $42K on cable — Republican Luna has placed a $41,692 cable buy in the race for Florida’s 13th Congressional District. According to AdImpact, the buy will place her ads on the air Wednesday through Nov. 1 in the Tampa media market. Luna is running against Democrat Eric Lynn in the Pinellas-based district, which carries a Republican lean but is expected to be competitive in the General Election.
“In Florida’s most Hispanic district, Latina politicians spar over immigration and socialism” via Bianca Padró Ocasio of the Miami Herald — The battle for Florida’s 27th Congressional District — where now 73% of the voting age population is Hispanic, the highest in the state — is pitting two Latinas against each other in what has become a nationally-watched race and an indicator of where Hispanic voters stand on immigration and democratic systems at home and abroad. While Republican U.S. Rep. María Elvira Salazar, a former TV journalist, has made speaking against communist regimes in Latin America her political brand, Democratic state Sen. Annette Taddeo has tried to cast Salazar as a Republican extremist akin to deniers of the 2020 election results as proof Salazar does not defend democracy in the U.S.
Annette Taddeo drops new ad as early voting begins — Taddeo is releasing a new ad for her campaign in Florida’s 27th Congressional District. The state Senator’s ad features two Cuban American leaders — immigration attorney Wilfredo Allen and former Rep. JC Planas — explaining why they are crossing party lines to support her over incumbent Republican Salazar. “Our new ad highlights the many cases of buyers’ remorse that voters across the spectrum living in all parts of Florida’s 27th Congressional District are feeling. In 15 days, Miamians will get back the real representation and leadership that they deserve in Washington,” Taddeo said in a news release.
To watch the ad, please click on the image below:
— 2022: LEGISLATIVE —
“Senate Democrats announce bus tour through front-line districts” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Florida Senate Democrats will hold a bus tour in five front-line districts. In announcing the call, the mission was clear: stopping a GOP supermajority from happening. “This is a critical time because if Republicans get to a supermajority, there are so many things in the rules and the procedure in the Legislature that don’t allow us to even engage procedurally,” said Sen. Jason Pizzo. Democrats made clear that efforts will go toward five races, in a year when all 40 were up for election. Senate Democrats intend to defend two seats held now by Sen. Loranne Ausley and Sen. Janet Cruz.
“Democrats hit Corey Simon for community no-shows, defend controversial mailer” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Ahead of a bus tour of pivotal districts across Florida, Senate Democrats say Simon doesn’t appear enough in the North Florida community. Simon, a former Florida State University football star who served as CEO of Volunteer Florida under DeSantis, has a decent chance at unseating Sen. Ausley in what is one of the most contentious races of the Florida Senate. Ausley was already considered a vulnerable incumbent, but redistricting and current political momentum across the nation and Florida have led some observers to say Simon holds the advantage in SD 3, which is centered on Tallahassee.
“Democrat Derek Reich challenges incumbent Republican Fiona McFarland in HD 73 race” via Derek Gilliam of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The race to represent the coastal area of Sarasota County from Longboat Key to Venice in the House should be one of the most competitive races in the state this election cycle — at least on paper. Trump won House District 73 with 49.7% of the vote in 2020, compared to Biden’s 49.3%, according to MCI Maps. Republican McFarland currently represents the area, but as recently as 2018, Democrat Margaret Good won the seat, and it has historically been one of the few tossup districts along the southwest coast of Florida. Still, McFarland holds a lopsided advantage in fundraising going into the last weeks of the election.
Assignment editors — Sen. Audrey Gibson and Rep. Tracie Davis will join local leaders for a news conference on the start of early voting: 1 p.m., Jacksonville. Location upon RSVP at [email protected].
— STATEWIDE —
“DeSantis poised to send more migrants north in border-policy protest” via Jon Kamp and Arian Campo-Flores of The Wall Street Journal — Florida officials plan to continue transporting migrants to Northern states to protest federal border policies and might restart flights by December. Florida hasn’t flown more migrants since it chartered two planes to send 49 people from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts on Sept. 14, a surprise move that generated controversy, a criminal investigation and lawsuits. DeSantis, a Republican, has said the flights were intended to spread the burden of caring for migrants who enter the U.S. illegally to places where more officials support Biden administration immigration policies.
“Student scores are down due to COVID-19, but Florida schools see silver lining” via Marlene Sokol and Jeffrey S. Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times — While educators across the U.S. lamented students’ historically poor performance on the first national tests since the pandemic, Florida officials found a silver lining — even as the state’s reading and math scores declined. They noted that Florida students outpaced their peers in other states on average scores reported Monday from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, known as “the nation’s report card.” The Florida Department of Education used the scores to tout the state’s decision to reopen schools for in-person learning during the pandemic, well before any other state. The department noted that Florida ranked third among all states in fourth grade reading and fourth in fourth grade math, marking the state’s best outcome when compared to other states.
“Florida gas prices dip slightly; spike possible as state gas tax holiday ends” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — Gas prices in Florida dropped by 6 cents in the last week, a small decline that could continue until the end of the month. The average price per gallon landed at $3.36 on Sunday, according to the weekly briefing from AAA —The Auto Club Group. AAA spokesperson Mark Jenkins said there could be increases as November begins when the state’s gasoline tax holiday ends. “Oil prices dropped 8% two weeks ago, then hung relatively steady last week, enabling pump prices to decline,” Jenkins said in his weekly briefing. “Drivers should see pump prices drift even lower this week. But a sudden jump at the pump is likely on Nov. 1, when the state’s gasoline tax holiday ends.”
— AFTERMATH —
“Florida needs workers to rebuild after Ian. Undocumented migrants are stepping in.” via Maria Sacchetti of The Washington Post — DeSantis upended the national debate over the record number of arrests on the southern border by flying newly arrived migrants last month to liberal-leaning Massachusetts, ostensibly to prevent them from burdening his state with the cost of their education and health care. But after Hurricane Ian inflicted billions of dollars in damage, undocumented workers came to the Sunshine State to rebuild, joining tens of thousands of others who were already here — and who construction managers say are sorely needed.
“Blue Roofs installing its 12,000th temporary roof” via the Port Charlotte Sun — Operation Blue Roof continues its efforts with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Operation program, installing Blue Roof No. 12,000. The new blue roof will be the first one on Sanibel Island, which had been cut off from vehicle traffic after its bridge leading to it was destroyed by Hurricane Ian. “The last day residents can apply for Operation Blue Roof has been extended through Nov. 1 for homeowners in Lee, Sarasota, DeSoto, Charlotte and Collier counties effected by Hurricane Ian,” it said in a news release. “The Operation Blue Roof program is a no-cost, free service for homeowners, providing a temporary solution that protects their property and allows them to remain in their home.”
“Renters without rentals: Some residents face an uncertain future post-Hurricane Ian” via Kate Cimini of the Fort Myers News-Press — Jake Lincoln drove home, shaking. Two days after spending all night mopping up water, making emergency repairs to windows, walls and a roof that kept the home Lincoln had rented for about five years standing, he had learned that father-daughter owners Milan Ponjevic and Jelena Ciancetta did not want to renew his lease. In the aftermath of Hurricane Ian, some Southwest Florida residents have lost their homes — not to the storm, but to their landlords, leaving them with nowhere to go in a rental market that’s getting tighter by the day. “From a business standpoint, I get the need to upgrade, raise rent, sell a home,” Lincoln said. “(But) why, after this major catastrophe, we’re now out the door?”
“Lee Schools staff, students struggling with lost homes, possessions after Hurricane Ian” via Nikki Ross of the Fort Myers News-Press — Half of Brianna Ross’ house in Fort Myers Shores is gone. The neighbor’s roof came off during Hurricane Ian and crashed into the Alva Elementary food services worker’s home. Now, she spends her days scrubbing mold off the same spots on her walls with a mop and bucket of bleach. No matter how hard she scrubs, by the next day, the mold has grown back. “I still do it because the mold just drives me insane,” she said. “I can’t look at it.” The Lee County School District has identified about 200 staff members who have lost their homes due to Hurricane Ian.
“Lee County officials announce they have collected 1 million cubic yards of Hurricane Ian debris” via Samantha Neely of the Fort Myers News-Press — Nearly a month after Hurricane Ian’s disastrous hit to the county, Lee County officials announced they have reached a major milestone of collecting 1 million cubic yards of debris. As of Monday morning, 734,136 cubic yards of vegetation and 285,282 cubic yards of construction and demolition debris have been cleaned up. Officials compared this quick pace to their previous efforts during other storms, such as Irma in 2017 where they removed 1.95 million cubic yards of debris in about four and a half months. “With the current pace, Lee County expects to have removed the same amount of Hurricane Ian debris by the week of Nov. 7,” officials said in a news release.
“Seminole health officials: Test drinking wells; get tetanus shots if handling hurricane debris” via Martin E. Comas of the Orlando Sentinel — Seminole health officials on Monday continued encouraging homeowners with private wells to test their drinking water following local flooding from Hurricane Ian. Of the total 216 water samples collected from private wells at 109 Seminole homes through this past weekend, 22% of those, about 48, have tested positive for some form of harmful organisms, including the E. coli bacteria, said Donna Walsh, health officer for the Florida Department of Health in Seminole County.
“South Sarasota County businesses begin long recovery from Hurricane Ian” via Laura Finaldi of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Days after Hurricane Ian struck, Manthan Patel returned to the inn he manages to find the roof in shambles. At America’s Best Value Inn & Suites, the 46-room Tamiami Trail hotel near the banks of North Port’s Myakkahatchee Creek, water had leaked into the lobby through a decimated roof. Nearly three weeks after the storm, buckets of water were arranged in the foyer near the front door, to collect rainwater that a tarp couldn’t keep out. Since Ian knocked out power at the hotel and in most of the surrounding area, cameras couldn’t capture what the storm actually did, Patel said. But whatever it was, he’s looking at close to $500,000 in damage for a building that’s not insured.
“Third phase of disaster SNAP benefits extends to six more counties impacted by Ian” via Leo Santos of WTSP — Weeks after Hurricane Ian made landfall, people in hard-hit areas are now becoming eligible for Disaster SNAP benefits for a limited registration time. As the Florida Department of Children and Families is set to open the third phase of D-SNAP on Monday, Oct. 24, people in Hillsborough, Lake, Osceola, Putnam, Seminole and Volusia counties will be eligible to apply. The program provides food assistance for individuals and families impacted by the storm who are not currently receiving any benefits through the regular SNAP, DCF said.
“St. Pete Girl Bosses help Hurricane Ian survivors” via Josh Rojas of Spectrum News — A new organization called St. Pete Girl Boss has been taking Hurricane Ian recovery efforts into its own hands with more than a dozen trips to southwest Florida this month. “Let’s get the food down there; let’s get the water down there,” said member Cara Keelin. “We spent the last two weeks kind of really doing that. Now, we’re moving into the second phase of things.” About 72 hours after Hurricane Ian made landfall, the group established a mid-county headquarters drop-off site, designed a donation website, and had 50 volunteers signed up, according to member Ursula Mae.
“Is that an alligator at my beach and a snake in my yard? Hurricane Ian may be to blame” via Robyn Murrell of the Bradenton Herald — Hurricane Ian displaced thousands of people in Florida. It also displaced reptiles. Floodwater pushed alligators and snakes from their usual homes to places they are usually not seen. That’s led to a rise in human-reptile encounters, authorities say. One of those encounters was a seven-foot, nine-inch alligator spotted on an Anna Maria Island beach days after the late September hurricane. The gator was trapped and later euthanized. Another unusual reptile sighting in Manatee County happened on Oct. 15. Jack Kern, 67, from Ellenton told the Bradenton Herald that his 95-year-old mother-in-law was less than a foot from rolling over a 24-inch rattlesnake with her walker.
— D.C. MATTERS —
“Biden’s lonely foreign policy” via Ryan Cooper of The American Prospect — Foreign policy is probably not the first thing most Americans think about in the morning. To be sure, Russia’s war of aggression on Ukraine is the first cross-border land war in Europe since 1945, but the Donbas is many thousands of miles away and its effects on American interests are indirect and complex. Anyway, we’ve got inflation, a dysfunctional health care system, and no end of other grinding crises to worry about. Biden, by contrast, clearly cares about foreign affairs a great deal. Problem is that Biden’s low approval ratings and the dearth of popular interest in his reorientation and rehabilitation of America’s role in the world combine to make his foreign and military policies politically fragile.
“Liberals urge Biden to rethink Ukraine strategy” via Yasmeen Abutaleb of The Washington Post — A group of 30 House liberals is urging Biden to dramatically shift his strategy on the Ukraine war and pursue direct negotiations with Russia, the first time prominent members of his own party have pushed him to change his approach to Ukraine. The letter could create more pressure on Biden as he tries to sustain domestic support for the war effort, at a time when the region is heading into a potentially difficult winter. Democrats are specifically concerned that the United States is not engaging in regular dialogue with Russia as part of its effort to end a protracted war that has caused thousands of deaths and displaced 13 million people. Russia experts say Moscow will only negotiate with the United States, a fellow superpower.
“White House fires back in court against block on student loan debt forgiveness” via Chris Quintana of USA Today — The Biden administration rebuked a group of six states hoping to undo its plans to forgive student loan debt. It’s the latest salvo in the ongoing legal bickering between conservative groups trying to derail the debt relief plan and the administration’s hope of erasing millions of borrowers’ debt, in keeping with a campaign promise, before the year’s end. The federal government said the states had failed to prove they would be injured by the administration’s debt relief initiative. It also said any limitation the court handed down should be restricted to the states bringing the challenge, where about 2.8 million people are eligible for debt forgiveness.
“With speeches, stars and a blow-up joint, protesters press Biden on pot” via Ellie Silverman and Karina Elwood of The Washington Post — Carrying a 50-foot inflatable joint with the words “quit Biden our time” printed along the side and donning green pot leaves on hats, flags and suits, protesters gathered outside the White House, demanding that Biden use his executive authority to release people incarcerated on nonviolent marijuana-related convictions. Outside the White House, protesters blasted the audio from a clip of Biden during a 2020 debate with Cory Booker saying that “everyone, anyone who has a record should be let out of jail, their records expunged.” “Keep your promise, Joe; let our people go,” the crowd chanted.
“One hug and one selfie at a time, Biden’s mission to connect” via Zeke Miller of The Associated Press — One handshake, one hug and one selfie at a time. If Biden could greet every American this way, longtime allies say, his approval ratings would soar. It’s the end of his speech that often marks the beginning of Biden’s favorite part of an event, the rope line, in the parlance of political operatives. He whirls around, scans the crowd and zeros in on his first target for a one-on-one connection. Aides say Biden has perfected his selfie arm, the products of which are widely shared on social media. At an August event for Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wes Moore, Biden spent more than 75 minutes across three different rooms greeting people after the speechmaking had ended.
“Bidens plant tree honoring 50th anniversary of White House grounds superintendent’s tenure” via Kate Bennett of CNN — Joe Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden planted a ceremonial elm tree Monday afternoon at the White House South Lawn in honor of Dale Haney, superintendent of the White House grounds, who earlier this month celebrated 50 years working at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. After walking down from the south side of the White House, the Bidens each made brief remarks about Haney, who expressed his gratitude for the planting. Jill Biden said Haney is “one of the most beloved people here … taking such loving care of the grass and flowers.”
— EPILOGUE TRUMP —
“Criminal trial against Trump Organization begins as jurors are screened” via Shayna Jacobs of The Washington Post — Jury selection in the Trump Organization’s criminal tax fraud trial began Monday morning with the screening of about 130 juror prospects, some of whom could serve on the panel that will decide whether the former President’s namesake company committed crimes. New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan told the potential jurors that the case would last as long as six weeks. He gave them an overview of the charges and began speaking to dozens of people individually in a backroom, where those would-be panelists who alerted him to potential issues offered reasons they might not be able to serve.
“Trump ally Tom Barrack takes stand in own defense in foreign lobbying case” via Dareh Gregorian of NBC News — Barrack, a friend of Trump’s who was chair of his inaugural committee, took the witness stand in his own defense in New York’s Brooklyn federal court Monday to push back against allegations that he sought to cash in on his ties to Trump by acting as an unregistered foreign agent for the United Arab Emirates. Barrack, a billionaire from California, testified that his private equity fund, Colony Capital, did big business with other Middle East countries besides the UAE, including Qatar and Kuwait.
“Their America is vanishing. Like Trump, they insist they were cheated.” via Michael H. Keller and David D. Kirkpatrick of The New York Times — When Rep. Troy Nehls voted last year to reject Trump’s electoral defeat, many of his constituents back home in Fort Bend County were thrilled. Like Trump, they have been unhappy with the changes unfolding around them. Crime and sprawl from Houston, the big city next door, have been spilling over into their once-bucolic towns. The county in recent years has become one of the nation’s most diverse, where the former white majority has fallen to just 30% of the population. A shrinking white share of the population is a hallmark of the congressional districts held by the House Republicans who voted to challenge Trump’s defeat.
“Brady texting DeSantis is Trump’s nightmare come true” via Margaret Hartmann of New York Magazine — Brady is now on “texting terms” with DeSantis. Tim Michels, the Republican gubernatorial nominee in Wisconsin who recently hosted DeSantis in his home state, recently gossiped about Brady’s new pal to some far-right supporters. DeSantis, who on the day of the Packers game had appeared at a rally for Michels and Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, “had never been to Lambeau Field before and he wanted to go,” Michels said. “We’re sitting there, you know, we’re watching the game, and all of a sudden, I look over and he’s texting, and he says: ‘How do you spell Lambeau?’”
— LOCAL: S. FL —
“Poll: Miami-Dade voters overwhelmingly oppose full abortion ban, deporting Dreamers” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — When it comes to women’s reproductive rights and whether to deport so-called Dreamers, Miami-Dade County voters hold nuanced opinions regardless of political affiliation. GOP respondents in Miami-Dade held the most hard-line views on both issues. But they still expressed some flexibility. Just over half, 50.02%, said they support the Supreme Court’s decision in June to overturn Roe v. Wade. Democrats overwhelmingly opposed the SCOTUS ruling on Roe, with 87.5% saying they believed the decision was wrong. Nearly 40% of Republicans said Dreamers shouldn’t be permitted to become citizens but should have an opportunity to obtain legal status.
“A South Florida police department says one of its social media accounts got hijacked” via David J. Neal of the Miami Herald — The modern annoyance of a hacked social media account becomes a potential modern danger when the account belongs to a law enforcement agency. So, the North Miami Beach Police Department wants you to know it doesn’t have control of its Instagram account, @northmiamibeachpd. In a video posted to the department’s Twitter and substitute Instagram account (@mynmbpolice), Crime Scene Technician Maria Aguilera said: “Our Instagram has been hacked. And, despite all efforts at regaining control, Facebook and Meta have not been responsive.” Officer Darren Jenkins said, “This is not only embarrassing for us, but presents a security risk if the hacker tries to pass himself off as a member of our department.”
“Florida Keys man faked forms to steal a private jet, feds say. He just got prison time” via David Goodhue of the Miami Herald — A Florida Keys man with a history of pulling off elaborate cybercrimes, forgeries and counterfeit schemes 10 years ago was sentenced this week to three years in federal prison, after pleading guilty to faking documents used to create a bogus pilot’s license to steal a private jet. Cole Peacock, 30, has a storied criminal career of clever crimes straight out of a Hollywood script. These include defrauding a Tennessee tech company out of $3 million in computer equipment in 2016, impersonating a Monroe County Fire Rescue lieutenant in 2019, and sending a bomb threat to the sheriff’s office after hacking into the agency’s computer system, making it appear as if the threat came from within the department back in 2013.
— LOCAL: C. FL —
“Pat Gerard, Brian Scott nearly equal in spending with two weeks until election” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Democratic Pinellas County Commissioner Gerard and her Republican opponent Scott are only separated by $14,000 in total spending, with Gerard having the slight upper hand. Such close expenditure numbers only two weeks out from the General Election shows just how tight the race is leading up to Election Day. The incumbent Gerard has so far dished out $284,639 to maintain her District 2 seat on the Commission, while Scott has spent $270,505 in hopes of unseating the incumbent. As for Scott, during the first two weeks of October, the newcomer spent $51,504 between his campaign and affiliated committee, Friends of Brian Scott.
“Renee Torpy, Kimberly Musselman highlight experience in judge race dominated by Sheriff’s endorsement” via Eric Rogers of Florida Today — Judicial elections tend to be low-key affairs. This year’s race for County Court Group 4 between Musselman and Torpy, however, has drawn a bit more attention thanks to the involvement of Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey. Musselman, an Assistant State Attorney in the office of State Attorney Phil Archer, came forward in August with claims that Ivey tried to get her drop out of the race earlier this year, in return for his help getting elected or appointed State Attorney, the office currently held by Archer, she said. The allegations were reported by Florida Today. Ivey has since thrown his effort behind stumping for Torpy.
“The Orange County Mayor’s office isn’t telling the truth as it tries to sell voters on a higher sales tax” via Jason Garcia of Seeking Rents — Florida currently forces counties to spend most of the money they raise from hotel taxes on public subsidies for tourism. And Orange County, which collects roughly $300 million a year, dumps most of that money into tourism advertising and a money-losing convention center. But Mayor Jerry Demings said counties already have flexibility with the hotel tax, also called the tourist development tax. “In terms of roads, we can use the TDT dollars currently for roads within the tourist corridor to support that area.” It was a startling comment. County Administrator Byron Brooks told Commissioners during an April 26 meeting: “No, we currently cannot use tourist development tax based upon the definition in the statutes.” Somebody’s lying.
“Developer reveals the company bringing a new hospital, health complex to Parrish” via James A. Jones Jr. of the Bradenton Herald — HCA Florida Healthcare has purchased nearly 22 acres in the village center of Parrish’s North River Ranch for a 150-bed hospital with emergency room services and an intensive care unit as well as an acute treatment center. The Bradenton Herald exclusively reported the plans for a Parrish hospital in February, but the name of the company was not revealed until today. Neal Land & Neighborhoods, the developer of North River Ranch, the largest master-planned community in Parrish, announced the land sale Monday and that HCA Florida Healthcare is the brand. Nashville-based HCA Healthcare, one of the nation’s largest health care companies, is also the parent company of Bradenton’s HCA Florida Blake Hospital, which until March was known as Blake Medical Center.
“UCF, Universal debut Creative Lab for theme park designers” via Katie Rice of the Orlando Sentinel — Next semester, select master’s students at the University of Central Florida (UCF) will call Universal Orlando their classroom. Through a partnership with Universal Creative, UCF’s Themed Experience program is offering a Creative Lab course where students will learn about entertainment design and development in the classroom and at Universal’s creative headquarters in Orlando while developing their own projects. The program will help students make professional connections as they gain “hands-on, real-world experience” in the project development process, Universal Creative President Mike Hightower said in a statement. Other program leaders said it also helps the theme park company mentor emerging designers, including those from underrepresented backgrounds.
— LOCAL: SW. FL —
“Sarasota County District 4 candidates talk Siesta Key incorporation, Lakewood Ranch plan” via Anne Snabes of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Former Venice City Council member Joe Neunder and Democratic leader Daniel Kuether are competing for the Sarasota County Commission District 4 seat. The winner of the Nov. 8 contest will have a seat at the table when the Commission makes decisions about the expansion of development eastward in Sarasota County, future hotel projects on Siesta Key and other important issues. Neunder, a local chiropractor who served on the Venice City Council for two and a half years, defeated Mark Hawkins in the Aug. 23 Republican Primary. Kuether, a web designer who has served as vice chair of the Sarasota County Democratic Party, was the only Democrat to file for District 4.
“Possible red tide in Gulf of Mexico” via Paul Dolan of WINK News — On Sunday, about 12 to 15 miles Southwest of Sanibel, a team of researchers found reddish water. The researchers are finishing up a weeklong study of water conditions after Hurricane Ian. Researchers went all around the Eastern Gulf of Mexico, starting in Tampa and working their way all the way down to Marco Island. On Sunday one of the researchers noticed that the water appeared different in color. A researcher explained to WINK News the color of the filter paper was nothing like he had ever seen so far on the trip, which was greenish orange in appearance. They won’t be able to precisely identify what was collected from the water samples until they get to see it under a microscope.
“Charlotte Technical College aviation program receives certification” via the Port Charlotte Sun — Charlotte Technical College Director Deelynn Bennett announced the school’s aviation maintenance program has received a power plant certification. Bennett noted the achievement in a news release. Aviation Airframe Technology is a 1,350-hour program that began in August 2021 with its first student due to complete it in November, according to the news release. The power plant program will let its students complete another 900 hours of instruction, she said.
— LOCAL: N. FL —
“Leon County Sheriff’s Office opens investigation after second inmate death in October” via Christopher Cann of the Tallahassee Democrat — The LCSO is investigating the death of an inmate who was transferred from the detention facility to a hospital Monday morning. The 39-year-old male inmate was taken to the hospital “after being seen by the medical services provider at the Leon County Detention Facility,” according to a news alert. Around 6 a.m., the inmate died at the hospital. “Based on the preliminary investigation, there are no signs of foul play,” read the LCSO news alert. Exactly two weeks prior, LCSO began a death investigation after Christopher James, 45, was found “unresponsive” in his cell by a corrections officer during a routine cell check.
“UF Faculty Senate holding emergency meeting on Ben Sasse, students warned about protests” via Gershon Harrell of The Gainesville Sun — The UF Faculty Senate is expected to meet Thursday for a vote of no confidence on U.S. Sen. Sasse being chosen as the sole finalist for the university president and the search process that led to his selection. An emergency meeting will take place on Oct. 27 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. where faculty members will debate on adopting a resolution of no confidence. The meeting comes before Sasse is expected to be interviewed on Nov. 1 by the board of trustees. A resolution being considered at the Faculty Senate meeting states that the next president should already come “equipped” to lead an institution like UF “rather than aiming to learn on the job.”
“Increased passenger traffic taking toll on Pensacola airport, expansion plans moved up” via Jim Little of the Pensacola News Journal — A continued increase in travelers is taking a toll on the Pensacola International Airport’s infrastructure, and officials are eyeing next year to begin the final design of an airport expansion. Pensacola’s airport director, Matt Coughlin, said Monday that the airport hopes to get the design and engineering completed next year and break ground on the expansion either in 2024 or 2025. “We’re looking at design this coming year, and then construction following that in the next probably year or two years after that,” Coughlin said.
“Florida, Georgia officials release statement on future of rivalry football game” via Garry Smits of The Florida Times-Union — The University of Florida and the University of Georgia issued a joint statement that highlights the issue of whether their annual football game will be played in Jacksonville beyond the current contracted cycle. “The annual game between our two universities is an important tradition,” the statement began. “At this time, both programs are focused on our current seasons. Typically, both schools begin conversations about future games in the series as the last contracted game nears. We anticipate following that timeline [for 2023].” However, the statement then went on to lay out other possibilities that considered conference expansion and the debate on whether to increase the number of SEC games from eight per year to nine. Georgia-Florida is the only SEC game played at a neutral site.
— TOP OPINION —
“Has the Trump-DeSantis feud finally broken the surface?” via Philip Bump of The Washington Post —Trump and DeSantis cannot both be the Republican Party’s nominee for the 2024 Presidential Election.
That’s not how it works. Should both of them seek that role — as seems likely — they will necessarily at some point have to abandon the two-guys-who-don’t-particularly-like-each-other-being-forced-to-intermingle-at-an-office-party vibe that they’ve adopted since Trump left office.
DeSantis could wait for Trump’s support to collapse, the strategy that proved so effective for Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, John Kasich, Rubio, Carly Fiorina, Lindsey O. Graham, and Cruz in 2016.
Otherwise, he’ll need to try to eat into Trump’s advantage.
In other words, he’ll need to make a case to Republican voters not only for himself but against Trump. So far, DeSantis hasn’t been eager to do so.
DeSantis continued down the path he’s been walking since he first sought the nomination in 2018: planting each shoe carefully into a footprint Trump had already left.
At least until this weekend.
By endorsing Joe O’Dea, the Republican challenger to Sen. Michael Bennet in Colorado, DeSantis is planting his own flag. How often do Senate candidates in the Mountain West seek the endorsement of a Florida Governor anyway? That DeSantis’s endorsement is seen as valuable at all is a measure of his own hold on the Republican electorate.
It’s also important to recognize that part of what O’Dea wants to do is reinforce his bona fides to Trump-supporting Coloradans, a group that overlaps with DeSantis-supporting ones. There’s an advantage in serving as someone’s shadow: You can be mistaken for the real thing.
— OPINIONS —
“Both gubernatorial candidates made their points, but did it matter?” via Joe Henderson of Florida Politics — Despite what I might personally agree with, I thought both men made their points persuasively. However, we often lost both candidates’ points when supporters on both sides cheered over their words, which must stop. This isn’t a TV show, folks. It’s a serious exchange of ideas between two opposing sides that, for a change, actually seemed to have some substance as these things go. Crist questioned several times whether DeSantis would commit to serving a full four-year term if elected, but never got a direct answer. The inference was clear: the 2022 gubernatorial race, Crist implied, is merely a staging ground for DeSantis to mount a campaign for President in two years. That could well be the headline of this debate.
“The school lockdown catastrophe” via The Wall Street Journal editorial board — The pandemic lockdowns were a policy blunder for the ages, and the economic, social and health consequences are still playing out. But the worst catastrophe was visited on America’s children, as Monday’s release of the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress shows. More often students in districts that struggled before the pandemic and had some of the most stringent lockdowns had some of the worst learning losses. In Detroit, the average fourth-grade math scores fell 12 points to 194 — 20 points below basic mastery of fundamentals. Compare that to three Florida districts, which offered in-person instruction 90% or more of the time in 2020-2021. Fourth-grade math skills declined by seven points in Duval County, one point in Hillsborough County, and five points in Miami-Dade. Yet in all three districts, the average fourth grader remained above the basic mastery of math fundamentals in 2022.
“Herschel Walker and the plight of the true conservative voter” via David French of The Atlantic — If ever there were a time and place for a thoughtful, patriotic conservative to vote third party or perhaps even vote for a reasonable Democrat, it’s the 2022 Election in Georgia. Walker’s past is, if possible, even more checkered than Trump’s. Recent evidence that Walker paid for an abortion is just one more revelation about his thoroughly debauched past. He has a long record of election denial and false claims of mass election fraud. Every voter should presume that Walker, if he wins, will do exactly what Trump demands. Right now, the Democratic Party making an unsustainable demand of Republican voters: You sacrifice the policies that you believe are best for our nation and its people; we sacrifice nothing.
“Biden wants to codify Roe v. Wade. A bipartisan bill would do just that.” via The Washington Post editorial board — The Reproductive Freedom for All Act — co-sponsored by Sens. Tim Kaine, Kyrsten Sinema, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski — would bar states from imposing an “undue burden” on abortion before fetal viability. To appeal across the aisle, it would also allow health care workers to refuse to provide abortions on religious grounds. The bill has stalled amid intense criticism from abortion rights advocates and some progressive lawmakers, who believe it doesn’t go far enough. These figures prefer another bill, the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would not only uphold the right to abortion but also bar the kinds of cynical restrictions on access enacted during the Roe era. The bill does not have to be the last word: Congress could propose more comprehensive legislation in the future. But here, lawmakers should not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —
— ALOE —
“‘Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania’ trailer shows off new villain Kang” via Aaron Couch of The Hollywood Reporter — Scott Lang and crew are transported to the Quantum Realm in the first trailer for Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania, where they come face to face with Marvel’s next chief villain. The trailer brings back Loki actor Jonathan Majors, who appeared as a character called He-Who-Remains-in-the-Disney+-series. In the new Ant-Man, he plays Kang, an alternate version of that villain who will go on to become the big bad of Marvel’s Multiverse Saga, including the upcoming Avengers: The Kang Dynasty.
To watch the trailer, please click on the image below:
“‘Star Wars’ movie in the works from Damon Lindelof, ‘Ms. Marvel’ Director Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy” via Aaron Couch of The Hollywood Reporter — A new Star Wars film is in the works, with prolific scribe Lindelof co-writing the script and Obaid-Chinoy directing, sources confirm to The Hollywood Reporter. Lindelof’s involvement in a Star Wars feature has long been rumored, with Ms. Marvel director Obaid-Chinoy’s involvement being a new development that was first reported Sunday night by Deadline. Lindelof rose to prominence as the co-creator of Lost and is a noteworthy force in the world of TV with credits such as The Leftovers and Watchmen.
— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —
Celebrating today are Holly Bell, Eric Conrad, Mara Frazier, and Chuck Urban.
Sunburn is authored and assembled by Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel Dean, Renzo Downey, Jacob Ogles, and Drew Wilson.