Wednesday, November 30

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 7.8.22

Good Friday morning.

The Lincoln Project says Gov. Ron DeSantis has supplanted Donald Trump as “the standard-bearer for the authoritarian movement formerly known as the GOP,” and it’s rubbing it in with a new ad.

Titled “Star,” the 30-second spot asserts that DeSantis has “betrayed” the former President to become a star and is “raising millions” and “winning straw polls and fans” by stealing Trump’s act — and it’s working.

“You made him, and he betrayed you. He’s laughing at you, running against you; he’s taking everything from you. And by the time you fight back, it will be too late,” the ad narrator says, stoking behind-the-scenes rumors of tension between the two Republicans.

In a news release announcing the ad, Lincoln Project’s Rick Wilson takes it a step further.

”DeSantis has taken everything from Trump but his trophy wife. DeSantis and his team are already picking out curtains in the White House and enjoying the Jan. 6 Commission’s devastating attacks on Trump,” he said.

“DeSantis is taking Donald’s political money, dominating Trump in the headlines, and getting rave reviews from Fox and the conservative media. Trump is impotent, weak, and lost on how to fight back against a younger, thinner, and flashier version of himself.”

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

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FiveThirtyEight recently updated its forecast for the 2022 elections, and it looks like a red wave is coming.

Most of us knew that already — the political climate has been trending toward the GOP for months — but FiveThirtyEight’s model underscores just how big a beating Democrats are expected to take in November.

The broad strokes outlook is backed up by solid statistical modeling and passes the smell test. It’s clear that, as of today, DeSantis and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio are cruising toward re-election. It’s also clear that Florida’s U.S. House delegation will get redder.

But what’s not clear is who, specifically, will be in the delegation that heads to Washington in January. FiveThirtyEight must know something the rest of us don’t because their forecast presumes to know the winners of Florida’s Primary Elections two months before polls close.

Ron DeSantis is not the only one sailing to re-election in Florida. Image via AP.

In some races, they made safe assumptions. They took some big leaps in others.

The most glaring is the race for Florida’s 15th Congressional District, where they anointed Rep. Jackie Toledo as the presumptive Republican nominee.

Toledo has all the ingredients needed to win the GOP nomination: She is running a competent campaign, raising a decent amount of cash, has a solid name ID, and has a political record that will play well among GOP voters. It won’t be a shocker if she ends up becoming a Congresswoman.

But one could say the same about former Secretary of State Laurel Lee or Sen. Kelli Stargel.

Lee launched her campaign less than two months ago, but she has hit the ground running. She has already earned endorsements from Attorney General Ashley Moody and Jay Collins, a DeSantis-backed state Senate candidate, and a recent fundraiser invitation shows several other Republican leaders are backing her bid.

And though Demetries Grimes and Kevin McGovern are long shots, their presence on the Primary ballot means the eventual GOP nominee could win with less than a third of the vote.

FiveThirtyEight gets a lot of things right, but this is the type of assumption their detractors point to when they miss the mark.

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Public affairs firm Firehouse Strategies has brought on Evan Berryhill as a vice president working in its Florida team.

Berryhill was a Deputy Communications Director on DeSantis‘ gubernatorial campaign and has worked in political communications with several other Republican candidates and organizations, including GOPAC and in the office of West Virginia U.S. Rep. David McKinley.

He is a West Virginia native and a graduate of West Virginia University and the West Virginia University College of Law.

The hire comes as Firehouse Strategies continues to expand its footprint in the Sunshine State. The firm opened its first Florida office this year and tapped veteran Florida political operatives Todd Reid and Emily Brown to run the operation.

“We are thrilled to have Evan join our team, expanding our capabilities in Florida and throughout the Southeast and providing our clients services second to none,” Reid said.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

_@HugoLowell: Jan. 6 committee members Jamie Raskin and Stephanie Murphy will lead Tuesday hearing on Trump sending extremist groups to DC and pinpointing the 6th, and Elaine Luria and Adam Kinzinger will lead expected Thursday prime-time hearing on inside the WH during the Capitol attack.

@Mattyglesias: The extent to which Ron DeSantis has emerged as a presidential front-runner without saying anything on really big, banal, incredibly obvious policy questions like “should abortion be legal?” or “what’s up with Social Security?” is remarkable.

@SenPizzo: If women’s reproductive rights are now left up to the states, then it should be left up to the PEOPLE of those states, not the legislature. Let’s put it on the ballot.

@JustinBaragona: 1. Dave Rubin is suspended from Twitter for deliberately deadnaming Elliot Page. 2. Lasts only 48 hours before caving and deleting the tweet, though he “strongly considered” standing by his principles. 3. Gets sympathetic Fox segment about his Twitter ordeal. Grift complete!

Tweet, tweet:

@HughGrant: Dear World, You may be wondering what happens next in terms of the British constitution. The answer is that 3 newspaper owners — all of whom are non-domiciled in the UK for tax purposes — get together and choose our next Prime Minister or “Poodle.” The Queen then anoints them.

@James_Caan: It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Jimmy on the evening of July 6. The family appreciates the outpouring of love and heartfelt condolences and asks that you continue to respect their privacy during this difficult time. End of tweet

— DAYS UNTIL —

36th Annual Environmental Permitting School — 11; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 12; Vote-by-mail mailing deadline for 2022 Primary — 13; 2022 Sunshine Summit begins — 14; Deadline to register for 2022 Primary — 17; Beyoncé rolls-out seventh solo studio album ’Renaissance’ — 21; The 10-day Florida Python Challenge kicks off — 28; Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner novel ‘Heat 2’ publishes — 32; Early voting begins for Primaries — 36; FBHA’s annual conference, BHCon2022, begins — 40; FRLA’s Operations and Marketing Summit — 41; ‘House of the Dragon’ premieres on HBO — 44; 2022 Florida Primary — 46; 2022 Florida Chamber Technology & Innovation Solution Summit — 54; ‘Andor’ premieres on Disney+ — 54; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 56; NFL Opening Night: LA Rams vs. Buffalo Bills — 62; 2022 Emmys — 66; JMI’s 2022 Tech & Innovation Summit begins — 69; Vote-by-mail mailing deadline for General Election — 90; Deadline to register for General Election — 95; 22-23 NHL season begins — 95; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 109; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 109; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 109; Early voting begins for General Election — 113; 2022 General Election — 123; ‘Black Panther 2′ premieres — 126; ‘Captain Marvel 2’ premieres — 128; FITCon 2022 begins — 132; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 132; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 136; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 136; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 137; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 145; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 145; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 161; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 224; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 242; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 259; 2023 Session Sine Die — 301; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 301; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 329; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 497; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 630; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 749.

— TOP STORY —

Florida Democrats pick their battles, but can they pull out of election tailspin?” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — For years, Florida has been the embodiment of a purple swing state, with close races in almost every major election.

This year, Florida Democrats haven’t put much effort into important campaigns such as statewide Cabinet positions and U.S. Rep. Murphy’s congressional seat. Instead, they are narrowly focusing on a few competitive races.

The national Democratic Party insists it’s not writing off Florida — but few are convinced.

The national Party also is repeatedly having to deny that it’s writing off Florida races for Governor and U.S. Senate to focus on defending seats elsewhere in what is expected to be a Republican wave year.

Matt Isbell, a Democratic consultant and elections expert, compared being a Democrat in Florida to “when somebody is stuck in the cold, and they’re going into hypothermia. The body will instinctively restrict blood flow into the body and then basically sacrifice limbs. … Yeah, you want to get out of the cold, but first things first, you need to survive. And it’s a very self-fulfilling cycle.”

The question now is whether Democrats can finally turn things around with one or two big wins or whether Florida is fully becoming a red Republican state in the wake of the shelling the Party took in the 2020 vote.

GOP leaders say that’s already happened.

— 2022 —

Ron DeSantis plans Utah fundraiser with GOP megadonors, signaling possible presidential run” via Brian Schwartz of CNBC — DeSantis is planning a private fundraiser in Utah later this month that is expected to draw some of the country’s wealthiest Republican donors as he signals a possible run for President in 2024. DeSantis is set to head to Utah the week of July 18 for the private gathering, according to people familiar with the matter. Many asked not to be identified because the campaign is trying to keep the private event from getting too much public attention. Though DeSantis is coming to Utah to raise money for his 2022 gubernatorial re-election campaign, fundraisers held in far-flung states like Utah, which is more than 2,000 miles from his home state, often suggest national aspirations.

Ron DeSantis heads to Utah to hobnob with the bigwigs.

Flashback >>>‘Better than Trump’: DeSantis’ clout swells in the West” via Matt Dixon of POLITICO

—“‘Good enough isn’t enough for Wilton’: Richard Corcoran backs Wilton Simpson for Agriculture Commissioner” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics

Mark Lombardo vows to reform Washington in challenge to Matt Gaetz” via Aimee Sachs of Florida Politics — Lombardo, a Republican challenging U.S. Rep. Gaetz in Florida’s 1st Congressional District, laid out a plan he says will reform Washington. Lombardo will go head-to-head with Gaetz in the Aug. 23 Primary Election after Republican Bryan Jones dropped out of the race. He filed to run in June and pledged to spend $1 million of his own money on his campaign. The Marine Corps veteran and former FedEx executive released what he calls “The Lombardo Contract” with Northwest Floridians, laying out five ways to reform the nation’s capital. His top idea is to cut pay for lawmakers who miss votes, taking aim at Gaetz for missing 200 votes since taking office in 2017.

—”Bevy of current, former Jax city leaders endorse Aaron Bean for CD 4” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics

Gus Bilirakis drops $22K on TV ads — U.S. Rep. Bilirakis’ re-election campaign has placed a $21,838 ad buy in Florida’s 12th Congressional District. The cable flight, brokered by SRCP Media, will air the Republican Congressman’s ads from July 8-14 in the Tampa media market. According to AdImpact, the purchase includes ad time on Discovery, ESPN, Fox News, HGTV, History and Spectrum Sports. With reapportionment, CD 12 has shifted northward to include all of Citrus and Hernando counties in addition to portions of Pasco previously included in the district.

Patt Maney endorses Shane Abbott for HD 5 — Rep. Maney is endorsing Abbott in the Republican Primary for House District 5. “Rep. Maney is a conservative leader whose long record of exemplary public service speaks for itself,” Abbott said. “From rising to the rank of Brigadier General in our United States Army to now defending our Northwest Florida values in the state House, Rep. Maney clearly cares about the rights and well-being of our local citizens. I’m so honored to have his support.” Abbot previously announced endorsements from Reps. Michelle Salzman, Alex Andrade and Jayer Williamson, Walton County Sheriff Mike Adkinson, and community leader Bob Campbell. He also has the backing of Rep. Brad Drake, who currently represents HD 5 but cannot run for re-election due to term limits.

Happening today:

and

—”Voter information cards printing error leads to controversy in Marion County” via WFTV

— STATEWIDE —

Casey DeSantis talks fentanyl response following Gadsden County overdoses” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Following a spree of deaths in Gadsden County this Fourth of July weekend, DeSantis traveled to Quincy with a message of caution against illicit drugs. DeSantis hosted a roundtable with law enforcement and public health officials Thursday after a four-day period in which medical personnel in the rural county responded to 19 overdoses of fentanyl, a powerful synthetic drug. Officials there have attributed six deaths last weekend to fentanyl overdoses, and another three deaths are suspected cases.

Casey DeSantis delivers a message of caution on fentanyl overdoses in Gadsden County.

Nikki Fried leads the charge to bust destructive snail spread” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — More than 1,000 snails categorized as the most destructive have been found in Pasco County, and efforts are underway to stop their invasion, starring Fried as the lead snail-buster. Giant African land snails (GALS) are part of the European pet trade, and they are illegal without a permit in the United States. That’s because, in the wild, these 8-inch masters of disaster can quickly wear out their welcome. They consume 500 different plant species, have an appetite for stucco that can damage houses, and pose a health risk to humans. As carriers of the parasite rat lungworm, they can spread meningitis to humans and animals.

Not sure what this is:

Who will enforce Florida’s 15-week abortion ban? And what if they refuse?” via Dan Sullivan, Natalie Weber and Caroline Petrow-Cohen of the Tampa Bay Times — In Florida, lawmakers and DeSantis, anticipating Roe’s downfall, this spring passed a law making abortions in the Sunshine State illegal after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The new law, which went into effect last week, carries with it a promise of a third-degree felony if broken. Doctors could also face the revocation of their medical licenses, among other sanctions, if they conduct abortions beyond the 15-week threshold. “Most abortions in Florida that are reported, are done prior to 15 weeks,” said David Gibbs, a Clearwater attorney and president of the National Center for Life and Liberty, a Christian legal organization.

Come October, 25-cent gas tax ‘holiday’ won’t save Floridians much” via Skyler Swisher of the Orlando Sentinel — For once, DeSantis and President Joe Biden agree on something: drivers need a break on gasoline taxes with high fuel costs and inflation putting a strain on budgets. But how much will Floridians really save during a one-month gas tax holiday that goes into effect Oct. 1? “It won’t be a windfall,” said Ted Kury, director of energy studies at the University of Florida. “Gas tax is a relatively small portion of what consumers pay at the pump,” said Kury, an economist who studies energy policy. “There isn’t a guarantee the tax savings get passed on to the consumers.” You will save about $3.80 if you fill up a 15-gallon tank. That’s a one-month savings of about $15 if you refuel four times in October.

Assignment editors — Sen. Janet Cruz, Rep. Dianne Hart, and community leaders will hold a news conference to discuss Florida’s affordable housing crisis, 2 p.m. Location provided upon RSVP at [email protected].

Amid allegations of abuse, state bans Aventura ALF from accepting new residents” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — State health care regulators have taken emergency steps to prevent an Aventura assisted living facility (ALF) from accepting any new residents after discovering alleged instances of abuse that went unreported. Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) Deputy Secretary Kimberly Smoak said the moratorium on new admissions was the least restrictive action the state could take against the 150-bed facility. The ALF does business as Plaza at Parksquare, but is officially known as Royal Integra Parksquare Lessee, LLC. Royal Senior Care, II, LLC is the controlling interest in the facility.

Kimberly Smoak says Florida is taking the least restrictive action against an abusive ALF.

As BA.5 variant spreads, a look at what’s ahead this summer” via Cindy Krischer Goodman of the Orlando Sentinel — A new omicron subvariant known as BA.5 is quickly gaining ground in Florida, and now represents a majority of COVID-19 cases in the state. Epidemiologists say BA.5 may be the worst strain yet, mainly because it is better at evading prior immunity than previous strains and increasing rapidly. That could explain why many Floridians became infected with the coronavirus, even after being caught up in an earlier wave. As BA.5 spreads from the Florida Keys to the Panhandle, it brings uncertainty to Sunshine State in the summer months ahead.

Happening today — The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration meets to discuss a proposed rule that would deny Medicaid coverage for puberty-blocking medication, hormone therapy, and other treatments for transgender people, 3 p.m., Florida Department of Transportation auditorium, 605 Suwannee St., Tallahassee.

2022 school grades beat expectations, show gains, state says” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida released its first full school report cards since the pandemic and found most “exceeded expectations,” with all those rated an F in 2019 shedding that failing mark, the Department of Education said Thursday. In Central Florida, Seminole County Public Schools remained the top performer, earning a district grade of A. Orange County Public Schools earned a B, as did the school systems for Lake and Osceola counties. The state canceled student testing, the backbone of the grades, in 2020 when the pandemic shuttered schools, so no grades were issued that year, and it made grades optional last year because many students were still studying remotely.

UCF department briefly scraps anti-racism policy amid concerns about new state law” via Annie Martin of the Orlando Sentinel — The University of Central Florida’s English department briefly suspended an anti-racism statement, saying it violated a recently enacted state law, but the message about the suspension disappeared by mid-afternoon Thursday after drawing significant attention on social media. The English department added a note about suspending the statement to the department’s website “without any direction from the university,” UCF spokesperson Chad Binette said in an email late Thursday.

A rental trends study finds 10 Florida markets among the most overvalued in the nation” via Dave Berman of Florida Today — The rental housing market in Florida is among the most overvalued in the country and has among the fastest-rising prices. The study of 107 U.S. rental markets, released June 6 and using data from April, found that 10 of the 14 most-overvalued rental markets in the country are in Florida. The study included 10 Florida markets, and all 10 are overvalued by more than 13%. The largest “premium” paid by renters was found in the Miami market, which for the study includes Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. The study found it was overvalued by 22.07%. The average monthly rent in the South Florida region rose to $2,846, even though historical leasing figures indicate the average should be only $2,331.


— EPILOGUE TRUMP —

Donald Trump left Sarasota media company weeks before federal subpoenas were issued” via Chris Anderson of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Trump removed himself from the board of his Sarasota-based social media company, records show, just weeks before the company was issued federal subpoenas by both the Securities and Exchange Commission and a grand jury in Manhattan. According to a regulatory filing, the SEC served Trump Media and Technology Group with a subpoena June 27. Four days later, on July 1, a grand jury in the Southern District of New York handed the company another federal subpoena, an action that typically means a potential criminal investigation is in progress.

Donald Trump makes a hasty exit from his own media company. Just in time, too.

Twitter geodata shows Trump commands hashtags in 42 states, DeSantis in 8” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — If hashtagged tweets were votes, right now, Trump would beat DeSantis in a landslide in a Republican Primary for the 2024 Presidential Election. Trump would even take Florida. That’s according to an analysis of geotagged Twitter data in the last month, tracking hashtags for possible 2024 Republican candidates, done by the sports betting outfit at BetOnline.ag. The analysis, done of more than 220,000 hashtagged tweets, searching for the origins of such hashtags as #Trump2024, #DeSantis2024, #Cruz2024, #Haley2024, #Pence2024.

— MORE LOCAL: S. FL —

South Florida’s school grades are bouncing back from ‘COVID slide’” via Scott Travis of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — South Florida academic achievement is starting to rebound from the pandemic, school and district grades released Thursday show. The Broward School District overall received a B in the first grades issued since 2019. That’s the same grade it has received for more than a decade. Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties received A’s, the same as before the pandemic. Hurricane season update from Colorado State holds steady, forecasting an above-normal year with 20 named storms.

Proposed tax increase for Miami-Dade County schools heading to voters in November” via Douglas Hanks of the Miami Herald — Miami-Dade County voters will decide whether to increase the countywide property tax that funds schools in November. County Commissioners endorsed the proposed referendum requested by the elected school board, which sets the property taxes that generate local dollars for public and charter schools. The proposal would extend a school tax that voters approved in 2018 at a higher rate. If approved, the higher property tax would automatically expire in 2027 without new authorization from voters.

He was one of the nation’s most revered gay cops. His arrest changed everything.” via Jessica Contrera of The Washington Post — He had cinched cuffs around hundreds of wrists as a D.C. police officer, but now Brett Parson’s own hands were being placed behind his back. “So, I’ll let you know, guys, right now, that until I talk to an attorney, I won’t talk to anybody,” Parson said. The warrant for his arrest listed two counts of unlawful sexual activity. He could face a prison sentence and a lifetime as a registered sex offender if convicted. Under Florida law, claiming to be misled about the age of a victim cannot be used as a legal defense.

Brett Parson is now experiencing law enforcement from the wrong side.

Supervisor ordered to stop hiring Black workers at Florida company, lawsuit says” via Julia Marnin of the Miami Herald — A father and son management duo ordered a supervisor to stop hiring Black workers “because ‘they are lazy’” at a construction company’s Florida location, according to a federal lawsuit. The pair used repeated racial slurs when talking about Black people, particularly about one of the company’s few Black employees who was ultimately fired “based on his race” in 2019 after the supervisor attempted to support him, an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint filed against the company states. Now Lone Wolf Resources, LLC, which has six offices in four states, must pay $50,000 to settle allegations of racial discrimination, including against the Black worker, which took place at the company’s Jacksonville worksite.

— MORE LOCAL: C. FL —

Pinellas grapples with monkeypox outbreak; fifth case reported” via Christopher O’Donnell of the Tampa Bay Times — Health officials are trying to contain the spread of monkeypox in Pinellas County after a fifth case of the viral disease was confirmed Wednesday. The five infected people are isolating, said Ulyee Choe, director of the Florida Department of Health in Pinellas County. An epidemiology team is conducting contract tracing to identify others who may be at risk after close contact with those infected. Monkeypox is considered a mild, viral disease similar to smallpox. But it can cause serious or even deadly health complications in immunocompromised people, pregnant women, newborns, women who are breastfeeding, young children and people with severe skin diseases such as eczema.

St. Pete City Council votes to support $1.47 million in rental assistance for city employees” via Milla Surjadi of the Tampa Bay Times — City employees who are required to live within city limits could receive up to $500 per month in rental assistance starting in October. City Council members on Thursday voted in support of Mayor Ken Welch setting aside $1.47 million for the Employee Rental Assistance program in his upcoming budget. If the Mayor approves the money, the city will provide monthly stipends of up to $500 in eligible employees’ paychecks for two years.

St. Pete taps James Corbett, Amy Foster for city leadership roles” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — The city of St. Petersburg has announced new additions to municipal leadership, naming Corbett as the city’s development administrator and Foster as the community and neighborhood affairs administrator. Corbett will replace interim city development administrator Joe Zeoli, who will assume his former role as managing director of city development. Foster succeeds Corbett in her new position as community and neighborhood affairs administrator.

James Corbett and Amy Foster move into St. Petersburg leadership roles.

Family wants harsher charges, another arrest in attack on Sanford teen’s car” via Cristóbal Reyes of the Orlando Sentinel — Seminole-Brevard State Attorney Phil Archer met Thursday with lawyers for the teen whose car was attacked in a Sanford neighborhood last month, as his family called for harsher charges and the arrest of a possible third suspect. Howard Hughes and Donald Corsi were both jailed on charges of felony property damage, accused of attacking Jermaine Jones’ car in a June 14 incident the 16-year-old partly recorded in a viral video. Hughes is also charged with misdemeanor battery. Corsi was accused of throwing the rock that shattered one of the back seat windows. Attorneys for the two men didn’t respond to requests for comment Thursday.

Disney World sued by 3 workers fired after refusing COVID-19 vaccinations, masks” via Katie Rice of the Orlando Sentinel — Three Walt Disney World workers who refused to wear masks or get vaccinated against COVID-19 have sued the company, saying they were fired for opposing the rules because of their religious beliefs. They allege Disney discriminated against them because it did not accommodate their requests to be exempt from the vaccine mandate and face-covering requirements, according to the lawsuit filed in Osceola Circuit Court last week. The vaccine mandate was suspended in November after Florida lawmakers made it illegal, but Disney’s mask requirements remained in place.

Ruth’s List issues endorsements in Central Florida local races — Ruth’s List Florida, which supports pro-choice Democratic candidates, is endorsing Angela Eady for Kissimmee City Commission Seat 2 and Sandra Fatmi-Hall for Orange County Commission District 2. Barb Girtman for Volusia County Council District 1 and Cheryl Grieb for Osceola County Commission District 4. “Ruth’s List is proud to support these four pro-choice women candidates in their local campaigns,” said Lucy Sedgwick, president and CEO of Ruth’s List Florida. “Barb, Cheryl, Sandra and Angela are all tireless servants for their communities. Now more than ever, we need to elect strong Democratic pro-choice women like them to local office and (continue) to build the bench of women leaders for years to come.”

Personnel note: CFHLA hires J.R. Rupp as comms director — The Central Florida Hotel and Lodging Association has hired Rupp as its new Director of Communications and Marketing. Rupp comes to the association from Celebration Town Hall, a master-planned community in Central Florida, where he served as the communications and events director. “The hospitality industry is truly the heartbeat of our community, and I am thrilled about the opportunity to be able to play a role in aiding its advance,” Rupp said. “It is motivating and rewarding to serve those who, on a daily basis, welcome the world to our backyard. Over the past 40 years, CFHLA has made such a positive impact on our community, and I’m excited to help continue this legacy forward.”

— MORE LOCAL: N. FL —

Mayor Lenny Curry’s final budget to propose $540 million for JSO, a final, stunning increase” via Nate Monroe of The Florida Times-Union — Mayor Curry is planning to unveil a proposed spending plan for the coming year that boosts the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office budget to a staggering $540 million, according to city budget documents, dwarfing every other City Hall priority and representing the apex of the term-limited Mayor’s campaign to pump more money into police every year of his two terms. Curry’s coming proposal is a near $40 million increase, spread over various departments within JSO, over the current year’s $502 million police budget, a figure that rankled community activists and was a topic of debate last year during a failed series of City Council workshops on police reform.

Lenny Curry’s final budget packs a wallop.

—”Duval County Schools maintains B grade from state, sees rise in A, B and C schools” via Emily Bloch of The Florida Times-Union

Meet ‘Booey,’ the restaurant robot hired to deliver meals at Blue Bamboo Canton Bistro in Jacksonville” via Teresa Stepzinski of The Florida Times-Union — Nimbly navigates a crowded dining room while carrying stacked, full trays of food. And he brings a smile to the faces of little children and grown-ups alike. The newest employee at Blue Bamboo Canton Bistro in Mandarin also gets a charge out of serving guests. A compact state-of-the-art robot, “Booey,” is programmed to “run” food from the kitchen to a designated table in the dining room, where a human colleague then serves it to the guests. “The robot could never in our business replace a person,” Chef Dennis Chan, owner of Blue Bamboo, told the Times-Union. “What it will help us do, is it help our servers, our staff, have even more time to interact with our guests to make sure they have what they really want and are happy,” he said.

— TOP OPINION —

The shameless Boris Johnson” via Tom Nichols of The Atlantic — Over the past few days, watching the final meltdown of Johnson’s career, I have been thinking about John Profumo. Who, you say? Exactly my point.

In 1963, “Jack” Profumo was the U.K. secretary of state for war. He was also a married man in his late 40s who had recently had an affair with a 19-year-old woman named Christine Keeler. This would have been bad enough, but it turns out that Keeler was also canoodling with the senior naval attaché at the Soviet embassy in London. And then, to compound all his other sins, Profumo tried to lie when he was caught by the British tabloids.

Profumo resigned in disgrace. But that’s not why I’m thinking about him these days. Rather, I am wistful about what Profumo did next.

After he left government, Profumo made a choice that in 2022 might be unthinkable for today’s generation of political opportunists: He left the public eye, repaired his marriage, and spent the rest of his days doing charitable work for the poor. Profumo was the model of a man who committed a terrible error, resigned, and made amends as a good citizen for the rest of his life.

Which brings us, of course, to Johnson, who refused to budge in the face of multiple mistakes and scandals. Finally, after the exodus of dozens of his ministers and appointees, Johnson called it a day. His resignation speech checked the right boxes (he promised to remain as a caretaker and then help his successor), but like so much else in his career, and like the man himself, his announcement was graceless and self-centered.

This is how much things have changed. Profumo resigned and dedicated his life to good works. Johnson resigned and is throwing himself a wedding party before he goes.

— OPINIONS —

Why Joe Biden can’t make Democrats happy” via Byron York of the Washington Examiner — The short version is that not only has Biden fallen short of delivering on progressive dreams — truth be told, not a surprise to many progressives — but he has also failed to respond to the latest “unprecedented threat” that the right-wing is said to pose to our democracy, or to a woman’s right to choose, or to gun safety, or to whatever. Biden, the thinking goes, is old and slow, overly deliberative, innately cautious, and mired in a barely functioning White House of his own making. “Top Democrats complain the President isn’t acting with — or perhaps even capable of — the urgency the moment demands,” wrote CNN’s Edward-Isaac Dovere recently. “‘Rudderless, aimless and hopeless’ is how one member of Congress described the White House.”

Why Britain’s brush with democratic collapse isn’t comparable to ours” via Philip Bump of The Washington Post — British Prime Minister Johnson’s announcement Thursday morning that he would resign as leader of the Conservative Party concluded days of extraordinary resistance to the idea that he should sacrifice his position. A day or two ago, it wasn’t clear this succession would be so orderly. “Theoretically, he can hang on almost indefinitely until he loses half of his party,” Rory Stewart, a former Conservative member of Parliament, said. Even as top officials in his government began resigning by the dozens, there was no mechanism in place for anyone but Johnson to remove himself from his position.

Ban TikTok now” via Klon Kitchen of The Dispatch — First, we must understand that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) understands its national security and data security laws apply extraterritorially to all Chinese companies, no matter where they operate, and include any foreign subsidiaries like ByteDance’s TikTok operations. Second, TikTok’s promises of routing U.S. user data to Oracle infrastructure offers little comfort for at least two reasons. Oracle’s hands are far from clean when it comes to working with the Chinese government — the company is selling surveillance capabilities to Beijing and even called a Chinese surveillance broker their “partner of the year” for crying out loud. On a more technical point, regardless of where things are “routed” or “stored,” the vast majority of TikTok’s development and maintenance is done by Chinese engineers who must have access to the American platform to keep the app running, build new features, and monetize content.

— WEEKEND TV —

Battleground Florida with Evan Donovan on News Channel 8 WFLA (NBC): Interviews with Fried and Kathy Castor.

ABC Action News Full Circle with Paul LaGrone on Channel 10 WFTS: Political strategist Anthony Pedicini, Dr. Susan MacManus and ABC News Political Director Rick Klein.

Facing South Florida with Jim DeFede on CBS 4 in Miami: The Sunday show provides viewers with an in-depth look at South Florida’s politics and other issues affecting the region.

In Focus with Allison Walker on Bay News 9/CF 13: A discussion about UV safety awareness and the damage the sun can have on the health of Floridians. Joining Walker to discuss are state Rep. and dermatologist Ralph Massullo; Dr. Lisa Nyanda-Manalo of Advanced Dermatology; and Spectrum Bay News 9 Chief Meteorologist Mike Clay.

Political Connections on Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete: A look at the legal battle over the state’s abortion law, and Florida’s 14th Congressional District candidate James Judge will discuss his campaign and the obstacles he’s faced over qualifying.

Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: Lake County Supervisor of Elections Alan Hays will discuss the upcoming August Primary Election and what voters need to know about making sure they’re registered to vote.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Gary Yordon and Leon County Supervisor of Elections Mark Earley.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: U.S. Sen. Rubio, U.S. Rep. Kat Cammack and Jacksonville City Council President Terrence Freeman.

— ALOE —

Sick manatee rescued in the Florida Keys, and now it’s headed to SeaWorld in Orlando” via David Goodhue of the Miami Herald — Marine mammal rescuers in the Florida Keys removed a sick and underweight manatee from a canal Wednesday afternoon. A veterinarian who works for the Dolphin Research Center, one of the organizations that rescued the manatee, said other than being underweight, the nine-foot-long male mammal had a cloudy right eye. During the rescue from the canal in the Middle Keys city of Marathon, the team surrounded the manatee with a long net and pulled him to land, said Mary Stella, director of media and marketing for the Dolphin Research Center in Grassy Key.

SeaWorld Orlando rescues another sick manatee, this time from the Florida Keys. Image via SeaWorld.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Best wishes to Republican super activist Peter Cracchiolo, Sebastian Leon, Doug Mannheimer, Juan Porras, and Kareem Spratling.

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


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