October 3, 2022
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Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 6.20.22

Read Time:55 Minute, 30 Second


Good Monday morning.

A poll of likely Florida Democratic voters shows Charlie Crist maintaining a solid lead over Nikki Fried in the Governor’s race.

St. Pete Polls’ latest survey, conducted for Florida Politics, shows greater than 49% favor Crist, a Democratic St. Petersburg Congressman and former GOP Governor. About 24% prefer Fried, Florida’s current Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Pollsters surveyed 1,007 registered Democrats and reported a 3.1% margin of error on the results. The poll was conducted June 16 and 17.

Charlie Crist keeps the advantage over Nikki Fried.

The survey shows a slight tightening of the race since St. Pete Polls published its last Primary poll in May. But it still indicates Crist is on the cusp of a 50% majority. It also shows more voters undecided, 26%, than the number committed to Fried.

The polling shows Fried, the only Democrat holding statewide office in Florida, needs to sway the bulk of fence-sitters in the race.

Since the last poll, a third candidate in the race, state Sen. Annette Taddeo, dropped out of the gubernatorial contest and qualified to run for Congress.

The latest poll indicated poll leads with all racial demographics. About 51% of Black voters plan to vote for Crist while 17% want Fried, with that group also showing the greatest number of undecided voters with 32%. Crist wins over 49% of White voters, while Fried holds the support of 27% by comparison. Crist leads with Asian voters 70%-10% and Hispanic voters 49% to 26%.

Almost 50% of male voters prefer Crist while about 24% like Fried. Among female voters, Fried performs better and breaks 25% support, but about 43% still plan to vote for Crist.

Crist boasts the most substantial support among young voters under age 30, with upward of 60% picking him in the survey as over 22% went for Fried. He also wins over voters over 70, with 52% choosing him and 20% going for Fried. He polls in the 40s with voters 30 through 70, but Fried remains stuck in the upper 20s?

Of note, Crist’s 25-percentage-point lead in the poll shows a different state of the race than internal polling recently released by Fried’s campaign, which showed her within striking distance of Crist.

___

First in Sunburn — The Southern Group locks up veteran public safety guru Jared Torres — Torres, a veteran of three Governors’ administrations, is joining top Florida influence firm The Southern Group. He brings expertise in public safety, criminal justice, and health and human services to the firm known for its deep policy expertise and lobbying muscle.

Torres’ comprehensive policy and legislative experience are rooted in his leadership roles at both the Agency for Persons with Disabilities and, for the past seven years, at the Florida Department of Corrections (FDC).

Congrats to Jared Torres, the latest big hire for The Southern Group.

“Jared is a subject-matter expert with a detailed and nuanced understanding of both the executive and legislative branches where he has earned the respect of his peers,” said firm founder and chair Paul Bradshaw. “But even rarer than that, he has demonstrated a determination and work ethic that few people can match, and those traits have quickly propelled him up the ladder of state government. Temperamentally, he’s a great fit for our team.”

Torres’s passion for public service and the government process began long before his tenure in Tallahassee. A school field trip many years ago to the Capital City with a group from Take Stock in Children first sparked his interest in government. Since then, making Florida’s communities safer has been a top priority for Torres. His successes include securing hard-won appropriations and finely tuned policies that improved the safety and security within the prison system itself.

“Jared Torres’s passion for service is at the heart of everything he does. His investment in serving others helps him be an effective communicator and influencer,” said Rep. Sam Garrison. “The Southern Group is lucky to have him on the team.”

Read the full story about Torres’s hiring here.

___

First in Sunburn — Respected regulatory and legislative affairs law firm Meenan announced that Aaron Lunt, Kirsten Matthis and William Anderson are new shareholders at the firm, effective May 1.

Lunt is a Florida and Illinois-licensed attorney and holds the Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) and Associate in Reinsurance designations. He has worked as general counsel for a third-party administrator for automotive service contracts, GAP waivers and related protection products.

“We have worked with Aaron for many years on some of the most challenging issues facing the service contract and insurance industries and saw this as an excellent opportunity to bring our resources together on behalf of the firm’s clients,” managing shareholder Tim Meenan said.

Matthis joined Meenan in 2015 as an associate. Her practice focuses on complex civil and administrative litigation matters, and regulatory law. Anderson joined Meenan in 2017 as an associate. He obtained a degree in risk management/insurance and economics from Florida State University and focuses his practice on licensure and compliance in the service contract, warranty, motor vehicle ancillary product, risk retention groups and insurance industries.

“Kirsten and William are prime examples of the caliber of service Meenan P.A. provides to our clients. We are proud to give deserved recognition to these talented attorneys for this achievement they earned through dedication and hard work,” Tim Meenan said.

Meenan also recently welcomed Rob Henderson and Kelsey Carlton to the firm.

Henderson, formerly an assistant vice president with USAA, has become Of Counsel to the firm. Carlton is a 2021 graduate of the FSU College of Law. She has clerked for the Department of Financial Services and the Florida Bar. She has also worked for the Governor and most recently served as the deputy human resources director for the Republican Party of Florida.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

Tweet, tweet:

@CliffSchecter: Hearings work. Ppl watch compelling TV. It shapes their perceptions. Please add more live hearings

@TheRickWilson: The Dan Crenshaw story should be a lesson for the legacy GOP. Don’t think the alligator won’t eat you.

@GeorgeTakei: Who was grooming and recruiting all those Proud Boys? That’s what I want to know.

@BonillaJL: The institution of a federal holiday celebrating the abolition of the evil that was chattel slavery should not be a controversial matter.

@SonnyBunch: LIGHTYEAR’s soft open is interesting in that it can confirm lots of priors. It’s a.) the natural result of Disney teaching people to watch Pixar movies on D+ or b.) a backlash against “woke” cinema or c.) proof that America remains tragically homophobic or d.) franchise fatigue.

@TomArnold: Being a good father means being there for your kids after you screwed up by promising the roller coaster wouldn’t be scary. Happy Father’s Day

— DAYS UNTIL —

2022 Florida Chamber Learners to Earners Workforce Solution Summit — 8; ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’ premieres — 19; 36th Annual Environmental Permitting School — 29; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 33; Beyoncé rolls-out seventh solo studio album ’Renaissance’ — 39; Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner novel ‘Heat 2’ publishes — 51; FRLA’s Operations and Marketing Summit — 58; ‘House of the Dragon’ premieres on HBO — 62; 2022 Florida Chamber Technology & Innovation Solution Summit — 72; ‘Andor’ premieres on Disney+ — 72; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 74; NFL Opening Night: LA Rams vs. Buffalo Bills — 80; 2022 Emmys — 84; ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ sequel premieres — 109; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 126; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 127; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 127; ‘Black Panther 2’ premieres — 143; FITCon 2022 begins — 150; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 150; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 154; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 154; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 155; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 163; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 163; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 177; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 241; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 259; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 277; 2023 Session Sine Die — 319; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 319; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 347; ‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 403; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 487; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 648; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 767.

—TOP STORY —

Ron DeSantis draws huge cash haul from Donald Trump donorsvia Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida — Though many donors are focused on November, when the Governor is up for re-election, DeSantis’ fundraising signals that he is both a viable 2024 candidate who may not need the former President’s backing and one who is sapping some financial support from Trump.

“I think Ron’s fundraising really speaks for itself,” said Francis Rooney, a former construction company owner, longtime Republican donor, and former Florida Congressman open to impeaching Trump in 2019. “It is possible Trump’s percentage of the Republicans keeps going down, and I think it’s possible people will start looking elsewhere.”

Is Ron DeSantis siphoning campaign cash from Donald Trump donors?

DeSantis has drastically expanded his national footprint and following among conservatives across the country, who were drawn to his anti-shut down COVID-19 policies and staunch opposition to pandemic-related mandates. He has recently started to run neck-and-neck with Trump or even beaten the former President in early 2024 straw polls, leaving some of the GOP’s biggest donors writing huge checks for DeSantis when that could still come with political risk.

“I know a lot of donors who are kind of in wait-and-see mode,” said Shiree Verdone, who served as Trump’s campaign co-chair in Arizona for his presidential campaigns. “They really, really like DeSantis, who is very popular, but you don’t want to upset Trump.”

—“Is DeSantis tough enough for a campaign tussle with Trump?” via David Charter of The Times

— 2022 —

DeSantis rips Joe Biden White House for pushing two false ‘shots for tots’ stories” via Brian Burgess of The Capitolist — Left-leaning newsrooms, eager to slander DeSantis, gleefully reported that Florida was the only state in the nation not to pre-order COVID-19 vaccine supply in advance of the Federal Drug Administration’s expected approval for the use of the vaccine in children between 6 months and 5 years of age. And that much is true. But those media outlets didn’t stop there. The political spin also seeped into their stories to paint a completely false account of the demand — or lack thereof — for sticking toddlers with the vaccine. For example, according to the Miami Herald, Florida’s policy stance guaranteed “a delay in access for parents across the state, according to two U.S. government sources.” The claim seemed to have no basis in reality.

 

Ron DeSantis pushes back on ‘left-leaning’ news coverage.

When it comes to dissing his Black constituents, DeSantis just can’t help himself” via Fabiola Santiago of the Miami Herald — DeSantis reaction to Elon Musk’s apparent endorsement, when `asked about it at a news conference in Florida, could’ve gone many ways. For instance, he could have responded something like: “I’m focused on 2022 … but I’m flattered by the vote of confidence.” But no, what DeSantis came up with was the ugliness we’ve come to associate with the Governor when it comes to minorities: “I’m focused on 2022, but with Elon Musk what I would say is: I welcome support from African Americans. What can I say?” He was putting on a show for the white people consuming what he was dishing at this news conference. They nodded as he spoke and laughed at his point that Musk was born in South Africa, a country once ruled by a system of institutionalized racial oppression where the white minority ruled over the Black majority

—”Bill Maher insists DeSantis would be ‘way better’ than Trump: ‘He’s not certifiably insane’” via Joseph A. Wulfsohn of Fox News

Fraternal Order of Police backs Marco Rubio over Val Demings” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Sen. Rubio landed another blow on Rep. Demings‘ effort to highlight her police background when he announced Friday he’d received the endorsement of the Florida Fraternal Order of Police in their U.S. Senate contest. The endorsement, made in Demings’ backyard in Lake Buena Vista, is yet another that the Miami Republican has landed from law enforcement ranks. It followed endorsements of the usually more conservative Police Benevolent Association, 55 Florida Sheriffs, and the Florida Police Chiefs Association. Demings’ campaign has been running statewide TV ads this week, lauding her 27 years as an Orlando cop, including almost four as Orlando Police Chief.

Who’s tougher on crime in big Senate race?” via Bill Cotterell of the Tallahassee Democrat — In the opening salvos of their campaign, Rubio and Demings zero in on crime as a central issue of this year’s U.S. Senate race. It’s not unusual that candidates try to out-tough each other on law and order. Voters are rightly worried about public safety, their fears amplified by a steady stream of news stories about muggings and murders. And this summer, we’ve seen recall elections waged against liberal district attorneys in San Francisco and Los Angeles whose “reformist” policies were easily translated as soft on crime. Rubio sought to blunt Demings’ law-and-order credentials with endorsements by 55 sheriffs, plus the backing by leaders of the Police Benevolent Association and Florida Police Chiefs Association. Demings last week made the first television ad of her campaign, touting her 27 years as a police officer, including seven years as Orlando police chief.

Assignment editorsCrist is hosting a virtual roundtable discussion on protecting Black history in observance of Juneteenth. The event includes House Democratic Leader Fentrice Driskell, Daytona Beach City Commissioner Paula Reed, and other Black community leaders, 4:30 p.m. RSVP and Zoom link by emailing [email protected]

Wilton Simpson on his way to becoming Ag. Commissioner, but first he must beat a tomato can” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — It looks like Simpson has a fairly clear path to becoming Florida’s next Agriculture Commissioner. With the qualifying period closed, the Trilby Republican faces only token opposition in a Republican Primary and underfunded opposition from Florida Democrats. James Shaw, whose bio mentions he owns a 30-acre composting farm and has owned three Auntie Anne’s pretzel franchises, did pay the qualifying fee to appear on the ballot. But Shaw has assembled around $37,000, with $35,000 of that coming out of pocket. Meanwhile, he’s reported more than $69,000 in expenditures but, to date, garnered little notice as a candidate.

Jimmy Patronis, Adam Hattersley advance directly to General Election in CFO race” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — It looks like there will be no Primary season in the race for CFO. Former state Rep. Hattersley was the only Democrat to qualify for the Cabinet position. Patronis also won’t see a challenge within his own Party. Patronis has served in the Cabinet post since 2017 when then-Gov. Rick Scott first appointed him. The position opened after former CFO Jeff Atwater resigned to take a position at Florida Atlantic University. Hattersley launched his campaign for the job in March. He has focused on Patronis in the months since, hopeful there would be no Primary challenge dividing Democrats ahead of the Midterm Elections this year. Hattersley served in the Florida House and ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2020.

On last day of candidate qualifying, appellate court rules DeSantis’ map will stand for 2022 elections” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — An appellate court formally reversed a lower court decision to block Florida’s new congressional map this year. On the same day the clock ran out on candidates for Congress, the ruling came. The 1st District Court of Appeal ruled Leon Circuit Judge Layne Smith strayed from the law when he ordered a different map for the 2022 Elections. “The temporary injunction on review is unlawful on its face,” reads the appellate court decision. Smith, in May, declared a map signed by DeSantis and designed by his staff violated the Fair Districts amendment to the state constitution by diminishing the ability of Black voters in North Florida to choose a congressional Representative of their choice. He ordered not to use DeSantis’ map and later vacated an automatic stay after the state appealed his decision.

Six candidates qualify for CD 4, with Aaron Bean holding advantage” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — As the qualifying deadline hit Friday, three Republicans, two Democrats, and a repeat candidate in the write-in slot will run to be the next Representative from Florida’s 4th Congressional District. The Republican Primary features state Sen. Bean, who brings his considerable influence and connections from his time in the Legislature to the race. He’s taking on Erick Aguilar, who initially filed to run in the GOP Primary in the old CD 4 against U.S. Rep. John Rutherford, and health insurance contract analyst Jon Chuba. When Aguilar challenged Rutherford in 2020, Aguilar claimed 19.8% of the vote versus Rutherford’s 80.2%. “Our nation is at a crossroads, being ripped apart at the seams by a liberal agenda that stifles economic growth and seeks to silence family values,” Bean said when he announced his campaign.

—“Bean lands endorsements of 20 Clay County officials for CD 4” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics

—”Engineer wages Primary challenge against Byron Donalds” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

Crowded field fills CD 15 race with strong candidates from both sides of the aisle” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The field of candidates in Florida’s newest congressional district is set. Five Democrats and five Republicans ultimately qualified to run in Florida’s 15th Congressional District. The GOP field includes retired Navy Commander Demetries Grimes, former Secretary of State Laurel Lee, Navy veteran Kevin “Mac” McGovern, state Sen. Kelli Stargel, and state Rep. Jackie Toledo. Meanwhile, Democrats qualified include political consultant Gavin Brown, former TV anchor Alan Cohn, video producer Eddie Geller, Army veteran Cesar Ramirez, and aerospace contractor Bill VanHorn. With Florida picking up a congressional seat based on the 2020 Census, Florida had to make room for one more seat.

Vern Buchanan wants powerful congressional post, but first he must win re-election” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Rep. Buchanan appears to be on the precipice of the most power he’s ever held in Congress. But he must deal first with a Primary challenge from a headline-making activist, Martin Hyde. The Congressman qualified to run in Florida’s 16th Congressional District. As of the year’s first quarter, he boasts more than $1.5 million in cash on hand. Meanwhile, the planets appear to be aligning for Buchanan to become one of the most influential members of Congress. With the retirement of Texas Rep. Kevin Brady, Buchanan is in line to be the senior-most Republican on the House Ways & Means Committee. Should Republicans regain control of the House, the Washington press reports Buchanan as the front-runner to take over the committee’s chair.

Vern Buchanan will get a leadership post, but he must win re-election first.

Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick places $30K ad buy — Democratic U.S. Rep. Cherfilus-McCormick has made a $30K ad buy in the race for Florida’s 20th Congressional District. According to AdImpact, the purchase will broadcast ads in the Miami and West Palm Beach media markets from June 6-June 22. The ad buy brings her total for the election to $95K. Cherfilus-McCormick is being challenged by former Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness and Rep. Anika Omphroy in the Democratic Primary. Republican Drew Clark also qualified for the ballot.

Audrey Edmonson doesn’t qualify after announcing challenge to Frederica Wilson in CD 24” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Despite her announcement in March, and papers filed with the Federal Election Commission, Edmonson was not among those who qualified to take on Rep. Wilson for the right to represent Florida’s 24th Congressional District. Instead, Wilson will be facing Democrat Kevin Harris of Miami Gardens in a Primary. Republicans Jesus Navarro and Lavern Spicer also qualified. Edmonson, first elected El Portal Mayor, served on the Miami-Dade County Commission beginning in 2005 and was the Commission Chair for 2019-2020. Term limits ended her tenure in 2020.

Robert Asencio seeks to challenge Carlos Giménez in CD 28” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — In a last-minute move before Friday’s qualifying deadline, former Democratic state Rep. Asencio filed paperwork seeking to challenge U.S. Rep. Giménez in Florida’s 28th Congressional District. The move could give Democrats a serious challenger to oust the first-term incumbent. Asencio served one term in the House, representing the old House District 118 boundaries. He lost a 2-point race in 2018 to now-GOP state Rep. Anthony Rodriguez, who is now leaving the Legislature for a seat on the Miami-Dade County Commission. It remains to be seen how the rest of the CD 28 race will shake out. Only Giménez, Karl K.W. Miller and Carlos Martinez Garin are listed as CD 28 candidates on the FEC website.

— MORE 2022 —

—”Six Central Florida area Senate elections draw contests” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics

—”At least 12 South Florida legislators wrap up races without opposition” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics

—”Clay Yarborough draws Democratic opponent in SD 4 race” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Danny Burgess garners General Election opponent” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — It looks like Sen. Burgess will face a Democratic challenger in the General Election for Senate District 23. His challenger, Mike Harvey, did not appear on the Florida Department of State election registrar until Friday afternoon, following the noon qualification deadline, despite filing to run for the seat in December 2020. Harvey has also not filed a financial disclosure since last October, raking in over a dozen fail to file letters from the Florida Division of Elections, which alert candidates of potential fines for failing to log their campaign finances. Despite Burgess finishing his first term as state Senator, he has already climbed the ranks of Republican leadership.

At the last minute, Danny Burgess gets a challenger.

—”Blaise Ingoglia picks up last-minute Green Party challenger” via Mike Wright of Florida Politics

Joe Gruters draws Senate Primary opponent. Could Dems decide his fate?” via Zac Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Gruters could be in the unusual position of campaigning for support among Democrats after he drew a Primary challenger in his state Senate race, and a write-in candidate may fail to qualify. Michael Johnson qualified Friday to run against Gruters in Senate District 22, which includes all of Sarasota County and part of Manatee County. Whether Johnson can mount much of a campaign remains to be seen. Johnson could be a magnet for voters disgruntled with Gruters, particularly Democrats. Democrats can cast ballots in the August GOP Primary race if no Democrat or write-in candidate qualifies to run in District 22.

—“Seminole County activist challenges Gruters for Sarasota Senate seat” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

Conservative activist Tara Jenner fails to qualify against Jonathan Martin in open SD 33 seat” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Jenner flew to Tallahassee to qualify to challenge Lee County Republican Party Chair Martin for a state Senate seat that recently opened. But later in the evening, the Division of Elections reported she had not qualified in Senate District 33. “I will look into it and double-check a few things and go from there,” she said. “At this point, I can’t panic about it one way or the other.” She hopes any issue with her documentation is curable when the offices open next week.

Ana Maria Rodriguez wins in district recently deemed flippable” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Sen. Rodriguez was first elected to half a Senate term in 2020; now, she’s won another four years as no challenger emerged after the deadline to qualify to run ticked down. The Republican real estate agent, who started her political career winning a seat on the Doral City Council, was effusive with thanks for the support. “I don’t know what I did to deserve this, but I am humbled, grateful, and simply blessed,” she wrote on Facebook Friday. “As a good friend says: Life is good when you live it well.” Rodriguez won in a district renumbered in redistricting, from Senate District 30 to SD 40. The redistricting shaved off some of the northeastern portions of her territory, but it was left largely intact. It covers southern Miami-Dade and Monroe counties.

FOP endorses Griff Griffitts for HD 6 — The Florida Fraternal Order of Police announced Friday that it is backing Bay County Commissioner Griffitts in the race for House District 6. “We believe that Griff will be a strong advocate for the law enforcement community in the Florida House,” said Florida FOP President Steve Zona. “He has a heart for Florida, and we are confident that he will lead District 6 with strength, and we are proud to endorse his campaign for State Representative.” Griffitts faces Brian Clowdus in the Republican Primary for HD 6. No other candidates qualified for the race, so all voters regardless of party affiliation will vote in the Aug. 23 Primary.

Ralph Massullo, two others qualify for HD 23” via Mike Wright of Florida Politics — It’s not the race Rep. Massullo had in mind. Instead of competing against fellow Rep. Blaise Ingoglia for Senate District 11, Massullo instead qualified to seek a fourth and final term in House District 23. Massullo’s opponents: Retired Florida Highway Patrol trooper Tod Cloud and Paul Reinhardt, an unemployed Beverly Hills resident. All three are Republican. The Aug. 23 Primary is open to all voters, where the HD 23 winner will be elected. Massullo was elected without opposition the first time he ran and has had minimal opposition since then, including Reinhardt, who campaigned as a Democrat in 2018. Massullo has far outpaced both Cloud and Reinhardt in fundraising, with about $87,000 available in his campaign account plus another $350,000 cash in Massullo’s campaign committee, Better Lives for Floridians.

Bruce Antone files to rejoin House” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Former six-term Democratic Rep. Antone filed Friday to return to the Legislature in the new House District 41. Antone, who previously served two terms in House District 39, and then, after 2012 redistricting, four terms in House District 46, has represented parts of Orlando’s west side and western Orange County for much of the 21st century. In HD 41, he’s taking on Rep. Travaris McCurdy, who succeeded Antone after the 2020 elections. That district already has a crowded Democratic Primary Election with Pam Powell, who once finished a respectable second to Antone in a Democratic Primary in the old HD 46, and Shan Rose. A Green Party candidate, Robin Harris, also filed to run there, which would force a General Election in the Democratic stronghold should she qualify for the ballot today.

Jason Holloway has launched his campaign’s first television ad as he runs for House District 58.” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Holloway has launched his first television ad as he runs for Florida House District 58. The 30-second clip, titled “Keep Florida Free,” will run on cable and digital throughout the district, covering portions of Pinellas County. The ad centers around DeSantis’ slogan of a “Free Florida.” “We’re blessed to live in the Free State of Florida, under the best Governor in the country, Ron DeSantis,” Holloway says in his ad. “Gov. DeSantis needs more patriots that have his back, which is why I’m running for state House.” Holloway’s alliance to the Governor may be vital to taking the Republican nomination, especially against a former legislator. Holloway faces former Rep. Kim Berfield in the Republican Primary, as well as a third Republican challenger, Jim Vricos.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

Future House Speaker Daniel Perez locks in another term after qualifying ends” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — Rep. Perez, a future House Speaker, has secured another full term in the House. No candidates filed to run in House District 116, giving Perez a clear path to a third full term in office. That’s likely a wise move for anyone pondering a challenge to Perez. As of May 31, he was sitting on more than $2 million to defend his House seat and would have pulled in the overwhelming Party and institutional support. Perez first won the HD 116 seat in a 2017 Special Election to replace former Rep. José Félix Díaz. He added wins in 2018 and 2020 to serve his first two full terms in office. That 2020 contest featured an interesting wrinkle, as a political action committee with ties to outgoing House Speaker José Oliva released attack ads hammering Perez. Perez emerged unscathed, however. And this year, the field cleared for Perez outright.

David Rivera files to run in open HD 119 contest, but fails to qualify” via Ryan Nicol of Florida Politics — For a moment, it looked like former U.S. Rep. Rivera was mounting yet another attempted political comeback, filing to run in the open House District 119 contest on the final day of qualifying for state legislative offices. However, inexplicably, Rivera did not qualify as a candidate. The redesigned HD 119 covers parts of unincorporated west Miami-Dade County, including West Kendall, Country Walk and The Crossings. Gabriel Gonzalez also has qualified to run as a Democrat, the only candidate to do so.

—”Lake Ray picks up more legislative endorsements in HD 16 effort” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics

—”Republican donations propel Juan Fernandez-Barquin well ahead of his three challengers” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics

—”Tampa Bay school board races are set amid high political interest” via Jeffrey Solochek and Marlene Sokol

— STATEWIDE —

DeSantis wants panel to probe trafficking, sanctuary cities” via The Associated Press — DeSantis on Friday asked that a statewide grand jury be set up to examine networks that illegally smuggle people into the state as part of an investigation that also would focus on local governments that he says violate state law by adopting “sanctuary” policies. DeSantis filed a petition with the Florida Supreme Court requesting that the grand jury be impaneled. DeSantis announced the petition at a news conference with law enforcement agents in Pensacola, where he also signed into law a bill that would require county jails to assist federal agents with immigration enforcement and prohibit state and local governments from doing business with contractors who bring into Florida people who are in the U.S. illegally.

DeSantis signs measure cracking down on retail theft” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — DeSantis has signed a measure aimed at cracking down on retail theft, set to take effect this October. The bill (SB 1534) stiffens penalties against thieves who steal multiple items from multiple stores in a short period. Although the Senate passed the proposal unanimously, most House Democrats opposed the bill in an 80-36 vote. Sen. Jim Boyd and Rep. Chuck Clemons sponsored the legislation following a rise in organized retail theft across the country last year. A study from the National Retail Federation shows that 69% of retailers have seen increased organized crime within the previous year. In December, Florida made national news when more than $1 million in goods were stolen from a small business in Palm Beach.

Ron DeSantis signs a bill cracking down on retail theft. Image via AP.

Alimony laws fight goes to DeSantis” via CBS Miami — After years of legislative battles about the issue, DeSantis faces a decision about whether to approve revamping the state’s alimony laws. The Legislature on Friday sent a contentious alimony bill (SB 1796) to DeSantis, along with numerous other bills that passed during the legislative session that ended in March. Former Gov. Scott twice vetoed proposed alimony overhauls. One of the most controversial parts of this year’s bill would change the process for modification of alimony when people who have been paying seek to retire. Critics argued the plan could impoverish ex-spouses who have been homemakers and are dependent on the payments.

DeSantis signs measure returning beach smoking bans back to local govs” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Local governments can now regulate the use of cigarettes on the beach after DeSantis signed the new measure into law Friday. The new rule (HB 105) empowers cities and counties to regulate cigarettes in parks, including beaches. That’s a change from Florida’s previous law, which restricted the right to regulate outdoor smoking only to the state. Many cities and counties have tried to ban smoking on beaches in the past, but a ruling in a 2017 case brought by the ACLU against a Sarasota ban on smoking in parks made clear no local ordinance could regulate outdoor smoking. Sen. Joe Gruters and Rep. Randy Fine sponsored the legislation. It cleared the Senate in a 30-7 vote, and the House in a 105-10 vote.

Whoa — “Judge Renatha Francis lied on her application to join the Florida Supreme Court” via Noreen Marcus of FloridaBulldog.org — Francis, a family court judge in West Palm Beach said to be DeSantis’ favorite for the job, answered “No” when asked: “Has a complaint about you ever been made to the Judicial Qualifications Commission?” If so, the applicant must provide details to the JQC, a state agency investigating allegations of judicial misconduct. Francis signed the application she submitted to the Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Commission, declaring she answered all questions “truthfully, fully and completely.” In fact, at least one — and as many as three — JQC complaints have been filed against Francis. Making a “false official statement in writing with the intent to mislead a public servant in the performance of his or her official duty” is a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 60 days in jail and a fine of up to $500 under Florida Statutes Section 837.06.

‘My child will die.’ These families say Florida’s moves to withhold gender transition care will lead to self-harm” via Cindy Krischer Goodman of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — In Florida, recent state actions threaten medical and psychological care for transgender youth, say more than a dozen families of transgender youth and children. They say that years of gains would be erased if the state makes transition-related care difficult to get or pay for. Families credit transition care and gender-affirming therapy with not only allowing their child to become the sex they feel they are but also with keeping their child alive. DeSantis’ administration moved forward Friday with a proposal that would deny Medicaid coverage for treatments such as puberty-blocking medication and hormone therapy for transgender people. Florida health officials are asking medical professionals to ignore federal guidance and stop assisting children and teens with gender transitions.

Report says new UF policies protect academic freedom — UF’s accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, said that recent changes to university policy have satisfied academic freedom concerns. Andrew Atterbury of POLITICO Florida reported that SACS started looking into UF policies after three professors were blocked from testifying in a lawsuit challenging voting rights legislation. Though the decision was later reversed, the underlying policies were criticized by university faculty and later SACS. According to a report produced by SACS, recent policy changes at UF are “efficient and compliant with state and federal regulations without raising questions regarding academic freedom.” In a Friday statement, UF said the report “affirms the university’s commitment to the academic freedom of its faculty members and the First Amendment’s guarantees of the right of free speech.”

Investor, advocates sue medical marijuana regulator” via Mona Zhang of POLITICO — The Sunshine State has a marijuana transparency problem. A cannabis investor and medical marijuana patient advocates are suing the state after regulators allegedly failed to provide public records and approved a cannabis investment firm’s request to own more licenses than allowed under state law. The lawsuit is the latest development in the legal saga of cannabis investment firm Gotham Greens Partners’ bid to wrest control of multi-state marijuana company iAnthus from investors like Michael Weisser, a plaintiff in the suit. The latest legal dispute comes after the Ontario Superior Court of Justice approved a proposed recapitalization transaction for Gotham Green to take control of iAnthus in 2020 after the latter defaulted on a loan. The proposal requires regulatory approvals from U.S. states, many of which have cross-ownership restrictions to tamp down monopolies in the industry.

Nice scoop, Jordan — “NRA lobbyist Art Thomm to lead lobbying arm in Florida following Marion Hammer’s retirement” via Jordan Kirkland of The Capitolist — The NRA is tapping Thomm to replace longtime lobbyist Hammer after she announced her retirement on Thursday. The NRA told The Capitolist that Thomm, a veteran NRA lobbyist, will take over as the new Florida State Director for the lobbying arm of the gun rights advocacy group. The West Virginia native is no stranger to advocating for pro-gun policies. He helped pass Constitutional Carry in several states across the country, and currently serves as the NRA-ILA State Director for Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, and West Virginia. Before his stint as the State Director of Legislative Affairs at NRA-ILA, Thomm got his start as a state liaison for the NRA. He also served as vice president of the West Virginia Citizens Defense League. Thomm said he is excited to follow in the footsteps of an “absolute icon” and help protect and advance the Second Amendment in the Sunshine State.

Art Thomm: The new face of the NRA in Florida.

COVID-19 vaccination count drops by 60,000; DeSantis administration won’t say why” via Chris Persaud of The Palm Beach Post — Florida removed tens of thousands of people from its COVID-19 vaccination tally in the past two weeks, and DeSantis administration officials refuse to explain why. Florida’s inoculation count dropped by 60,514 people, state Health Department figures released Friday show. The state’s published vaccination total had been dropping by more than 1,000 every two weeks since April 8 in its biweekly COVID-19 reports, but this was the first time it recorded a five-figure decrease. Health Department Press Secretary Jeremy Redfern refused to explain the drop. He has said immunization totals are “preliminary” but has offered no further explanation for the declines. When asked Friday to explain the five-figure decline, he replied, “The same reason as every time.”

— D.C. MATTERS —

Biden sends every signal he is running again” via Tyler Pager and Michael Scherer of The Washington Post — President Biden’s advisers have been studying a spring 2023 re-election announcement that would echo the timetable of former President Barack Obama. They have flooded 2024 battleground states with millions of dollars to build up Democratic operations in advance of the next presidential campaign. And under the Biden team’s leadership, the Democratic National Committee has decided against preparing a debate schedule for a contested nomination fight. The goal of his advisers is to send every possible message that Biden is ready, able and determined to carry the Party banner into another presidential election, especially if the opponent is his nemesis, Trump.

Joe Biden isn’t going anywhere.

Biden’s long deliberations over some key policy decisions frustrate Democrats” via Andrew Restuccia, Catherine Lucey and Natalie Andrews of The Wall Street Journal — Biden’s recent commencement address at the University of Delaware, his alma mater, seemed like the perfect place to announce a long-awaited plan to forgive student debt. The speech came and went without a word about debt reduction. Biden was still deliberating, and they might not announce a decision until later this summer, frustrating some of his allies, who believe the internal discussions have been dragging on too long. Facing politically difficult decisions, the President sometimes pumps the brakes, rejecting calls to deliver a speedy outcome. Instead, according to administration officials, he favors deliberations that can last for months, with policy advisers analyzing the issue from multiple angles in a string of meetings. The President’s tendency to proceed with caution has sometimes annoyed some of his own aides.

Biden hosts climate meeting amid high gas price pressure” via Seth Borenstein Chris Megerian of The Associated Press — Equating the oil and gas industry to Big Tobacco, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Friday that “fossil fuel producers and financiers have humanity by the throat.” But Biden wasn’t quite itching for a fight. With both soaring energy prices and a warming planet weighing on the world at the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, Biden talked about trying to ease the pain of high gas prices while pushing more long-term green policies. Dismissing the idea of boosting gasoline production, the United Nations’ top diplomat threw out traditional diplomatic niceties and bluntly vilified the fossil fuel industry at a virtual session that included oil-rich Saudi Arabia, China, Europe and Egypt, which is hosting the next United Nations summit on climate change. It was the first time Guterres compared the energy industry to tobacco interests.

How political fortunes changed in decade since mocking of Rick Scott, Spanish king meeting” via Antonio Fins of The Palm Beach Post — “Just don’t mention the elephants,” I quipped. My facetious remark was a reporter’s ploy to buy time with a politician heading for the exit. But it unwittingly set the stage for a cross-Atlantic uproar just weeks later. The politician with whom I sought to prolong a conversation was then-Gov. Scott. And the firestorm of ridicule? It blew up weeks later in May 2012 after Scott’s audience with King Juan Carlos of Spain, a meeting in which the Governor went ahead and talked up the elephants. Ten years later, the cringeworthy meeting is largely forgotten, but its reflection in the rearview mirror is a telling juncture in Florida and European politics. Five months after Juan Carlos abdicated, Scott won a second term as Governor. Four years later, he edged out incumbent Bill Nelson in a hard-fought 2018 U.S. Senate race.

Congresswoman tells of her ‘proudest moment’ as COVID-19-aid contracts draw new attention” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — As Cherfilus-McCormick began self-funding her successful 2021 congressional campaign, the company where she was CEO at the time started receiving a new source of income: providing COVID-19 vaccines in underserved communities. Five contracts listed on a state database show Trinity Health Care Services of Miramar was paid almost $8.1 million for its vaccine work. The records don’t show how much it cost Trinity to fulfill its obligations under the contracts, and how much was profit for the family-owned company.

A triumph for Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick may not be as triumphant as it seems.

Happening todayCherfilus-McCormick holds a news conference to discuss housing issues. Joining her are Sen. Bobby Powell and Rep. Jervonte Edmonds, 10:15 a.m., Mangonia Park Town Hall, 1755 East Tiffany Dr., West Palm Beach.

Recession probability soars as inflation worsens” via Harriet Torry and Anthony DeBarros of The Wall Street Journal — Economists have dramatically raised the probability of recession, now putting it at 44% in the next 12 months, a level usually seen only on the brink of or during actual recessions. The likelihood of a recession has increased rapidly this year as inflationary pressures remained strong, and the Federal Reserve took increasingly aggressive action to tame them. Economists, on average, put the probability of the economy being in a recession sometime in the next 12 months at 28% in the Journal’s last survey in April and 18% in January. Since the Journal began asking in mid-2005, a 44% recession probability is seldom seen outside of an actual recession. In December 2007, the month that the 2007-to-2009 recession began, economists assigned a 38% probability. In February 2020, when the last recession began, they assigned a 26% probability.

— JAN. 6 —

Trump lashes out at Jan. 6 committee as he teases 2024 run” via Jill Colvin of The Associated Press — Making his first public appearance since the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection began its hearings, laying bare his desperate attempts to subvert democracy and remain in power, Trump on Friday lashed out at the committee as he continued to tease his plans for a third presidential run. Speaking to religious conservatives at a sprawling resort near the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, Trump blasted the committee’s efforts as a “theatrical production of partisan political fiction” and insisted he had done nothing wrong. “What you’re seeing is a complete and total lie. It’s a complete and total fraud,” he told the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s “Road to Majority” conference. He dismissed the harrowing video footage and searing testimony presented by the committee as having been selectively edited.

Donald Trump doubles down.

Trump hits Mike Pence over Jan. 6 role as possible GOP 2024 hopefuls gather” via Annie Linskey, Isaac Arnsdorf and Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post — Trump used an evangelical conference here to ridicule former Vice President Pence for upholding the Constitution on Jan. 6, 2021, choosing an audience that represents Pence’s political base as a venue to attempt to undermine him. “Mike Pence had a chance to be great. He had a chance to be historic,” Trump said in his first remarks about his onetime governing partner amid Jan. 6 committee hearings revealing the intense pressure Pence withstood in deciding to go forward with his constitutional role certifying the election. The 90-minute speech was the first time Trump delivered an in-person rebuttal to the Jan. 6 committee’s proceedings.

—“Pence considers 2024 bid as Jan. 6 hearings remind voters of his break from Trump” via Alex Leary and John McCormick of The Wall Street Journal

It wasn’t just Proud Boys. Interconnected extremists converged on Jan. 6.” via Michael Jensen of The Washington Post — Super Happy Fun America, the Woodland Wild Dogs and America First Bruins are not household names in the way the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers and QAnon are. But they, too, are groups whose members or associates have been charged with participating in the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol last year. This constellation of groups that in some cases serve as incubators for insurrectionists and bridges to like-minded extremist movements challenges the popular notion that the mob was filled with “everyday Americans” who were “caught up in the moment,” as many of their defense lawyers have argued, or “ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse,” as the Republican National Committee described them in its censure of the two Republican lawmakers serving on the House select committee investigating the attack.

Proud Boys led major breaches of Capitol on Jan. 6, video investigation finds” via Natalie Reneau, Stella Cooper, Alan Feuer and Aaron Byrd of The New York Times

— MORE LOCAL: S. FL —

Miami has one of highest U.S. COVID-19 infection rates. Will the virus hurt summer tourism?” via Anna Jean Kaiser of the Miami Herald — Miami-Dade County is experiencing its largest surge of COVID-19 infections since the omicron variant ripped through the region in January. Yet tourists interviewed last week were undeterred from traveling to South Florida due to the greater risk of contracting the pandemic disease. As of June 13, Miami-Dade’s coronavirus test positivity rate jumped to 21%, up from 5% in early April, causing alarm for local public health officials and making the area a coronavirus hot spot among top U.S. tourist destinations. Tourism operators in the Miami area have rebounded sharply over the winter and are riding strong momentum into summer. The industry remains a cash cow for Miami-Dade, so another pandemic-induced travel standstill would be devastating for airlines, hotels, cruise lines, local restaurants and bars.

Will COVID-19 hurt Miami in the tourism game? Image via AP.

‘Miracle Boy’ survived Surfside building collapse but lost mom. Now he’s on long road to recovery with dad by his side.” via Susannah Bryan of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Jonah Handler, whose dramatic nighttime rescue was captured on camera, plummeted 10 stories to the earth below when the Champlain Towers South condo famously collapsed on June 24 in Surfside last year, killing 98 people. “Please don’t leave me, please don’t leave me,” Jonah, then 15, pleaded. Through the dark, he got an answer that was reassuring and true: “We’re not gonna go anywhere.” Soon rescuers were there, using Air Jacks to free him from the wreckage. Jonah’s mother survived the fall but died later at the hospital. She was 54. Jonah, now 16, lives with his father in Champlain Towers North.

Flood of troubles: Why Miami-Dade’s drainage problems won’t be fixed anytime soon” via Alex Harris of the Miami Herald — In Little Havana, a woman scrambled to store her medicine in a foam cooler after a foot and a half of water in her home zapped her fridge. Her neighbor’s landlord waded through floodwater, but only to collect the rent, offering no promise to help repair damage from the dirty water she spent the day mopping up. In Allapattah, a mother carried her son and his wheelchair through flooding to get to the emergency room. Days after the storm, her street was lined with soggy carpet and furniture, mold already taking hold. In Cutler Bay, residents missed work and school after an “unprecedented” 15 inches of rain left them stranded in their homes. Tow trucks yanked out hundreds of inundated or stalled cars. More than a hundred people called Miami-Dade’s 311 line with flooding complaints during South Florida’s first brush with tropical weather this year, some from spots that flood over and over.

An ‘historic’ election in Coral Springs will reach its full potential” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Joshua Simmons was elected to the Coral Springs City Commission as the first Black person on the dais — and Friday, he learned he would be getting another four years. He’ll reach his full potential for serving on the City Commission, Seat 4. Friday’s qualifying period ended without anyone challenging his second term. Two four-year terms on the City Commission are the maximum allowed per Coral Springs’ city charter. On Twitter, he celebrated. “During my first term, we made history, and I learned how to be a good and responsive elected official,” he wrote. “We have another term, my last term, to continue the great work we started in 2018.”

— MORE LOCAL: C. FL —

Chris Latvala to succeed Karen Seel on Pinellas County Commission” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Rep. Latvala will succeed Seel on the Pinellas County Commission after qualifying for the role without opposition, sending him directly to the District 5 seat. Latvala currently represents House District 67 in the Legislature. But having served in the House since 2014, he is facing term limits. During that time, the Republican lawmaker has enjoyed being a part of chamber leadership, including chairing the Education and Employment Committee. During his short time on the formal campaign trail, Latvala garnered high-profile endorsements from Tampa Bay leaders, including support from outgoing House Speaker Chris Sprowls and Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri. Latvala also made strides in fundraising, collecting $106,110 for his run.

Chris Latvala takes Karen Seel’s seat without a fight.

—“Pinellas County Commission races take shape as qualifying period ends” via Tracey McManus of the Tampa Bay Times

10 years after DACA, Central Florida Dreamers still in limbo” via Kate Santich of the Orlando Sentinel — Melani Candia came to Florida 23 years ago, when she was 6. She went to elementary, middle and high schools here, and she now teaches first grade in Orlando, specializing in helping children with developmental disabilities. But when she enrolled in graduate school at UCF, she was not considered a state resident. Instead, she was charged out-of-state fees, about 3½ times higher than in-state. “It’s close to $4,000 per class, and that’s honestly almost impossible for me — even if I were to have a burst of energy after teaching all day and could take on a second job,” she said. Candia is a recipient of DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, announced 10 years ago this week. Intended to prevent mass deportation of otherwise law-abiding and upstanding young people brought to the United States as minors, it was once hoped that Congress would provide DACA recipients a path to citizenship.

Patient death spurs Orlando Health nurses to sound alarm about staffing” via Caroline Catherman of the Orlando Sentinel — The suicide of a patient at Orlando Regional Medical Center last month has fueled unrest among nurses about what some describe as severe understaffing at the hospital, though a state review found the facility was not at fault for the death. On May 27, a TikTok user known as Nurse Nander posted a video sharing several widely percolating rumors, including that short-staffing contributed to the May 16 suicide, in which a patient broke open the window of his eighth-floor room and jumped to his death. In the following weeks, the video garnered over 1.5 million views. Comments about short staffing and poor working conditions at Orlando Health poured in from dozens of users who claimed to be employees.

Disney’s delayed move to Orlando leaves some staffers confused, analysts say” via Katie Rice of the Orlando Sentinel — The political struggle over the so-called “don’t say gay” law and the reluctance of some Southern California-based employees to move to Florida likely are behind The Walt Disney Co.’s decision to delay setting up its Lake Nona campus by more than three years, theme park industry analysts said Thursday. Disney revealed Wednesday that its plan to move 2,000 high-paying jobs in its Parks, Experiences and Products division to Orlando in late 2022 was not going to happen until 2026. Most jobs relocating are reportedly within Imagineering, Disney’s main creative design division. Spokesperson Jacquee Wahler revealed the new date Wednesday, saying the company’s sole reasons for the change were to give employees more time and to accommodate the construction timeline for the new offices.

For Central Florida theaters, COVID-19 still wreaks havoc, costs money” via Matthew J. Palm of the Orlando Sentinel — Central Florida Community Arts’ high-profile concert staging of “Ragtime,” canceled only days before its scheduled opening this weekend, is just the latest example of how COVID-19 continues to bedevil Central Florida’s theaters. With the elimination of mandatory vaccines and masks, and the return to full-capacity seating, going to the theater might feel like business as usual for audiences. But backstage, the pandemic is still on everyone’s mind as theater officials wade through union rules, testing protocols and worry about higher expenditures when ticket sales haven’t yet rebounded to pre-pandemic levels.

Eligible Tampa Bay voters could help decide presidential election in Colombia” via Myriam Warren of the Tampa Bay Times — With the upcoming presidential elections in Colombia, the coffee-producing South American country is more divided every day, demonstrated by the results of the first electoral round on May 29. That’s when left-wing candidate Gustavo Petro, 62, former Bogotá Mayor and an ex-guerrilla member, got 40% of the vote. Challenging him will be engineer Rodolfo Hernández, former Mayor of Bucaramanga who is not well known in the Colombian political arena. Some Colombians compare Hernandez to Trump, calling him the “Colombian Trump.” On May 29, 3,235 Tampa Bay area Colombians went to the polls. The Consulate of Colombia in Orlando includes 31,200 registered Colombian voters: 8,000 in Tampa, 1,600 in Jacksonville, and 21,600 in Orlando.

Gustavo Petro will become Colombia’s first leftist leader, with the help of Tampa Bay voters.

Volusia County lifeguards rescue 212 during busy Father’s Day weekend” via Skyler Swisher of the Orlando Sentinel — Volusia County lifeguards are warning of dangerous beach conditions with more than 200 people rescued on Saturday. Lifeguards pulled 212 people out of the ocean as visitors flocked to the beach for the Father’s Day weekend and to escape the extreme heat. Dangerous surf is expected to continue into the week. Heavy crowds are expected again on Sunday, and visitors are urged to swim in front of a lifeguard tower and pay attention to traffic signs, said Volusia County Beach Safety Capt. A.J. Miller. Lifeguards are flying a red flag Sunday, meaning that there is a high risk of rip currents.

— MORE LOCAL: SW. FL —

Prominent GOP figure Christian Ziegler isn’t running again for the Sarasota County Commission” via Anne Snabes of The Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Ziegler isn’t running for re-election to his District 2 seat. The noon deadline passed Friday without Ziegler qualifying. Besides serving as a County Commissioner, Ziegler runs a consulting firm, is raising three daughters, and is planning to help with DeSantis‘ re-election campaign and his wife, Bridget Ziegler, in her campaign for re-election to the Sarasota County School Board. With these duties, Ziegler said he doesn’t have the time to dedicate himself to a full-time campaign for the County Commission.

— LOCAL NOTES: N. FL —

And then there were 5: Candidate Mathew Nemeth departs crowded Jacksonville sheriff’s race” via Dan Scanlan of The Florida Times-Union — The race for sheriff in Jacksonville, already wrenched months ahead to an Aug. 23 special election by the resignation of Mike Williams, has changed again. Nemeth, one of six who filed for the top cop slot, has withdrawn from the race. In his announcement Friday, the 34-year law enforcement veteran also endorsed Chief of Investigations T.K. Waters for the job. Nemeth said Waters has “decades of leadership in law enforcement” and the “right experience and integrity to lead the Sheriff’s Office.”

Nemeth out.

No claws came out during Capital Tiger Bay Tallahassee City Commission candidate debate” via Roseanne Dunkelberger of Florida Politics — Progressive Tallahassee City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow entered the lion’s, make that tiger’s, den Friday when he appeared at the Capital Tiger Bay Club to debate David Bellamy, who’s hoping to oust the first-term Commissioner from Seat 3. Populated chiefly by businesspeople and well-connected retirees, the crowd of 125 members and guests heavily favored Bellamy, a fifth-generation Tallahasseean and orthopedic surgeon, who entered the race in October 2021. A straw vote of the membership favored Bellamy 80% to 20%. Those who might have been hoping the claws would come out for this new guard vs. old school matchup left disappointed. When lobbed a question, their answers were often similar, if not identical.

—”Nassau County Commissioner Thomas Ford draws two Primary opponents’” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics

—“Jamie Deonas seeking re-election to Nassau School Board amid opposition” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics

—”Three seek open Nassau School Board seat, Lissa Braddock unopposed” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics

Okaloosa NAACP calls for expansion of Crestview PD’s Critical Incident Review Board” via Tom McLaughlin of the Northwest Florida Daily News — The family of Calvin Wilks gathered with their attorneys Saturday to declare they are unified in the struggle to see three indicted Crestview police officers face justice for his killing. “We stand as one as a family, as one for justice,” Wilks’ sister Linda Maples said. “We’re calling for justice, not calling for pity.” Attorneys Rawsi Williams and Michael Jennings, who have been retained to represent family members, organized and were present for the event. Lewis Jennings, the president of the Okaloosa County Chapter of the NAACP, used the occasion to call upon the city to expand the Crestview Police Department’s Critical Incident Review Board to include members of the public.

— TOP OPINION —

Pence and the Christian conflict on Jan. 6” via David French of The Dispatch — When Pence became the focal point of the mob’s rage, it crystallized a religious conflict between two competing visions of religion in politics. The mob’s focus was on power, and through power, it intended to “save America” from Biden and the Democrats. Trump — and the riot — were a means to an end, and the “strength” they sought was the strength to disrupt the government and defeat their hated enemies. The Christians in the mob weren’t the only believers who focused on power. Evangelicals were engaged at every level of the fight to overturn the election. Trump’s Evangelical chief of staff, Mark Meadows, texted Ginni Thomas, “This is a fight of good versus evil … Evil always looks like the victor until the King of Kings triumphs. Do not grow weary in well-doing. The fight continues. I have staked my career on it.”

— OPINIONS —

Trump voters need a new direction” via Peggy Noonan of The Wall Street Journal — America isn’t going to elect him again. They’re not going to let that guy back in that house. Because everyone knows it: Let Trump back there and he’ll do a 1/6 again. Because while his followers love America, he doesn’t. He likes it as far as it goes, appreciates it as the stage for his greatness, but beyond that … Trump voters: Call an audible again. Look at the field and the facts; be strategic. Trump, in the 2016 primaries, tended to win with about a third of the vote. In a field of 17, that was enough. It’s looking like the GOP field could be larger than expected in 2024, and of course, Trump could run again and win the nomination again. It will be easier for him if past Trump voters fail to think strategically, and if donors big and small don’t move early to winnow the field.

Florida’s flip-flop on COVID-19 vaccines for kids under 5 was the right move — for the wrong reasons” via the Miami Herald editorial board — Florida’s politicians love parental choice, as long as the choice is the one the politicians decree as “right.” The latest example of this GOP-driven hypocrisy was Florida’s refusal to pre-order COVID-19 vaccines for the state’s youngest children, those under 5. For several days, Florida was the only state in the nation not ordering the vaccines. Forty-nine other states made the federal deadline to pre-order vaccines. Florida was the outlier and fast becoming a pariah. On Friday, amid increasing condemnation of our state, the White House announced that DeSantis had relented. Florida would now allow health care providers to order the vaccines.

On guns, Republican Florida Legislature surpasses Democratic Congress” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — Florida did more to stop gun violence after one school shooting than Congress is likely to do after a two-decades-plus string of school shootings and nationwide firearm carnage. The bipartisan framework that emerged from post-Uvalde Senate negotiations would allocate money for more mental health services. It would slightly tighten background checks for those under 21 seeking to buy military-style rifles. It would encourage states, by offering federal money, to pass red-flag laws. It would close the “boyfriend loophole” for firearms purchases, possibly preventing all domestic abusers, not just husbands, from possessing firearms.

FPL’s blockbuster pivot from fossil fuels will protect the planet and grow business” via Rosemary O’Hara of The Invading Sea — FPL plans to transition away from natural gas. To hold itself accountable, FPL and its parent company, NextEra Energy, published solid five-year benchmarks, not squishy “net zero” promises about planting trees or buying off-setting credits. “We’re not late; we’re first,” CEO Eric Silagy said. “This is about how do we actually get to real zero. Nobody in any sector has taken this pledge.” FPL will more than double its zero-carbon power generation in eight years. By 2045, it says it will eliminate the accelerant that is causing our planet to warm and oceans to rise: carbon emissions. FPL’s quickened march toward a carbon-free future is an extraordinary and welcomed commitment from a well-run company that generally does what it says it will do.

— ALOE —

‘Game of Thrones’ Jon Snow sequel series in development at HBO” via James Hibberd of The Hollywood Reporter — You know nothing about HBO’s post-Game of Thrones plans. The network has entered into early development on its first sequel to its blockbuster fantasy drama: A live-action spinoff series centered on the fan-favorite character Snow. Kit Harington is attached to reprise the role should a series move forward. The actor was twice nominated for an Emmy for his portrayal of an action hero who struggles to uphold his family’s noble values in a brutal world. The development signals an intriguing new direction in HBO’s handling of author George R.R. Martin’s fantasy universe, a move not unlike Disney+’s management of its Star Wars and Marvel brands, where the streamer has found success launching character-focused sequel series.

GOT fans rejoice at the return of Jon Snow.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Celebrating today are Matt Harringer, our friend Todd Josko of Ballard Partners, Ed Miyagishima, and the amazing Ieva Smidt.

___

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


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