Gary Fineout's must-read briefing on what's hot, crazy or shady about politics in the Sunshine State
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By GARY FINEOUT
10/04/2021 06:58 AM EDT
Hello and welcome to Monday.
Trump speaks — The Florida man who helped Gov. Ron DeSantis make it into the governor’s mansion made it clear that he will take him out. But it won’t come to that, right?
Assertion — Former President Donald Trump gave an interview with Yahoo Finance (which is scheduled to be released in full today) where he said that if he ran for another term in 2024 that he would beat anyone in his path, including DeSantis. “If I faced him, I’d beat him like I would everyone else,” said Trump, although he added he thought DeSantis would “drop out” if Trump does run again.
Looking for clues — So was that a slight dig? Or a reminder that DeSantis owes his political success to the crucial endorsement Trump made in the GOP primary for governor? Or, more importantly, is it a sign of a frostiness between Trump and DeSantis that could cause problems for the governor in the weeks and months ahead? Will Trump turn on DeSantis at some point?
The road ahead — DeSantis has recently been trying to downplay any notion that he’s considering a 2024 run for president. But let’s be clear: Just because he’s running for re-election doesn’t mean it’s not a possibility. Some media coverage has framed it as an either/or proposition. It isn’t.
Past is prologue — More importantly, however, just look at what he’s doing. After narrowly winning in 2018, DeSantis moved slightly to the middle in his first year of office as he pushed for teacher salary hikes and talked about the need for more spending on environmental programs. This tentative move to the center was jettisoned last year during the pandemic as DeSantis embraced culture war issues, GOP grievances, and bashing the Biden administration with gusto.
Bottom line — In other words, he’s governing like someone who cares about a Republican primary — not a 2022 general election. (And there are plenty of Republicans in Tallahassee who will tell you that privately.) Yes, his recent bid to get rid of some of the state’s high-stakes testing is a respite from the usual messaging to the GOP base. A Trump bid in 2024, however, could undercut all the efforts of recent months and leave DeSantis… where?
— WHERE’S RON? — Nothing official announced for Gov. DeSantis.
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LAYING IT DOWN — “Trump on prospect of facing DeSantis in 2024: ‘I’d beat him,’" by POLITICO’s Jesse Naranjo: Former President Donald Trump asserted in an interview excerpt published Sunday that should he formally enter the 2024 presidential race, he does not expect to face Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — and if he does, he expects to beat him. In an interview with Yahoo Finance set to be published Monday, Trump said he believed that “most people would drop out” if he entered the race, including DeSantis, an ally of the former president who has been considered a potential candidate in the Republican presidential primary.
President Donald Trump speaks at a rally endorsing the Republican ticket, Friday, Oct. 12, 2018, in Lebanon, Ohio. (AP Photo/John Minchillo) | John Minchillo/AP Photo
CONNECTED — “Candidates exploit their ties to late congressman Alcee Hastings,” by Sun Sentinel’s Anthony Man: “Candidates hoping to replace the late Alcee Hastings in Congress are trumpeting their connections with the venerable congressman, all angling for an edge in a tight race. The most notable might be Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness, who claims — without proof — that Hastings endorsed him. But ‘everyone is trying to figure out a tangential connection to Congressman Hastings,’ said Mitch Ceasar, former Broward Democratic Party chairman.”
RALLYING THE BASE — “DeSantis visits Ocala," by Andy Fillmore for the Ocala Star-Banner: “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis took a jab at the President Joe Biden’s administration as he opened his keynote address at the Marion County Republican Executive Committee’s inaugural Sequins and Saddles Gala held at the World Equestrian Center Friday night. ‘If President Joe Biden would spend less time attacking Florida and more time doing his job as commander-in-chief, we may have 13 service members that would still be alive today,’ DeSantis said, referring to those who died as the U.S. pulled out of Afghanistan in August.”
MURPHY CALLS OUT PELOSI — The news that a vote on the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill was being put on hold in order to try to hash out a deal on a separate social spending bill drew the ire of Rep. Stephanie Murphy, a moderate Democrat of central Florida. Murphy late Friday put out a statement where said she was “profoundly disappointed and disillusioned by this process.” She said she has “great respect” for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi but said the decision to delay the vote is “wrong” and that the push by progressive Democrats to link the fate of the infrastructure measure to the larger spending bill is a “misguided effort.”
Progressives lash out — Some Florida progressives snapped back at Murphy. State Rep. Omari Hardy, who is running for the congressional seat opened by the death of Rep. Alcee Hastings, ripped into Murphy for not trying to help get the separate spending bill passed. “It’s politically smart to help working-class families. It’s politically suicidal to oppose President Joe Biden and your fellow Democrats in their effort to help these families.”
LEGACY — “Remember when Trump wanted to kill Obamacare? It’s growing like crazy now," by Sun Sentinel’s Ron Hurtibise: “What a difference five years makes. Donald Trump failed to kill Obamacare, and now it’s growing by leaps and bounds. South Florida consumers who buy health insurance on the federal exchange created by the Affordable Care Act will find significantly expanded options when Open Enrollment for 2022 begins on Nov. 1. In Broward and Palm Beach counties, 11 health insurance companies are now offering plans eligible for federal subsidies. In Palm Beach County. 10 companies are now competing, according to a list of companies approved by the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation to sell health insurance next year.”
PRETTY PLEASE — “Trump asks judge to force Twitter to restore his account,” by The Associated Press: “Former President Donald Trump has asked a federal judge in Florida to force Twitter to restore his account, which the company suspended in January following the deadly storming of the U.S. Capitol. Trump’s attorneys on Friday filed a motion in U.S. District Court in Miami seeking a preliminary injunction against Twitter and its CEO, Jack Dorsey. They argue that Twitter is censoring Trump in violation of his First Amendment rights, according to the motion. Twitter declined to comment Saturday on Trump’s filing.”
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The daily rundown — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that there were 4,446 Covid-19 infections on Friday. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that 4,979 beds were being used in the state for Covid-19 patients. The Florida Hospital Association reported Friday that 22 percent of adult patients in intensive care units are infected with Covid-19.
The toll — The Florida Department of Health reported on Friday that 55,299 people have died from Covid-19 since the start of the pandemic. The department said 233 fatalities were reported between Sept. 24 and Sept. 30. But the overall total increased by 1,719 since the previous weekly report issued by the department. The number of deaths in Florida has increased by 41.5 percent since July 30.
MANDATE ENFORCED — “After DOH threat and termination of 14 employees, Leon County vows to defend vaccine mandate,” by Tallahassee Democrat’s William Hatfield: “Leon County Administrator Vince Long is vowing to defend the capital county’s vaccine mandate at the same time that 14 employees were terminated for non-compliance. All told 700 county employees chose to be vaccinated, 30 received an accommodation and 14 did not submit proof of their vaccination status and were terminated at the end of the day Friday.”
Response expected — “Ron DeSantis has become one of the nation’s leading critics of so-called vaccine passports and mandates. On Friday, hours before the deadline, the Florida Department of Health wrote county officials demanding they ‘immediately rescind’ its policy and ‘refrain from terminating any employees who decline to produce proof of vaccination.’”
MEANWHILE — “Orange firefighters sue county over COVID-19 mandate,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Monivette Cordeiro: “Nearly four dozen Orange County Fire Rescue employees sued the county Friday over its COVID-19 vaccine mandate, calling it ‘unlawful, unconstitutional and highly invasive.’ The lawsuit was filed a day after a Sept. 30 deadline imposed by Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings requiring all county employees to show proof they have received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or the first dose of the double-shot Moderna or Pfizer vaccine.”
OH — “Florida COVID vaccinations fall plummet as delta variant toll wanes," by Tampa Bay Times Ian Hodgson and Christopher O’Donnell: “Florida’s delta surge is waning as deaths and infections continue falling, but any relief is tempered by a troubling trend: Vaccinations have taken a nose-dive. There were 278,891 vaccinations administered in the past week, new state data shows. But more than 108,000 of those were either Pfizer booster shots or third doses given to those already vaccinated.”
— “Emergency petition filed in district court to end Alachua school mask mandate,” by Gainesville Sun’s Cindy Swirko
SPEAKING OUT — “Physicians across Florida sign onto letter questioning Ladapo as next surgeon general,” by The Gainesville Sun’s Douglas Ray: “More than 100 physicians across Florida have posted a letter addressed to the Florida Senate questioning the opposition by the state’s new surgeon general to COVID-19 precautions such as mask mandates and his advocacy for alternatives to vaccination against the disease. The physicians, writing as the Committee to Protect Health Care, include six Gainesville doctors. Among them are three faculty members in the College of Medicine at the University of Florida that has voted in favor of offering a tenured faculty post to Dr. Joseph Ladapo, who was nominated to become Florida’s surgeon general by Gov. Ron DeSantis last week.”
WHAT’S IN YOUR WALLET? — “Trulieve completes $2.2B purchase of pot company that Nikki Fried has invested in,” by POLITICO’s Arek Sarkissian: Trulieve on Friday announced the completion of its $2.2 billion dollar purchase of Harvest Health & Recreation, a company in which gubernatorial candidate and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried has a stake. The deal includes the $55 million sale of Harvest’s Florida license to sell and grow medical marijuana. The company, in a Friday morning news release, goes on to say the deal creates the largest cannabis company in the U.S. across a combined retail and cultivation footprint.
— “Jamal Sowell gets calls for Navy Reserve training, will step down as Enterprise Florida leader,” by Florida Politics’ Renzo Downey
‘IT MATTERS TO EVERYONE’— “Women’s marches in Florida: In cities, across the state, demonstrators push for reproductive rights,” by USA Today Florida Network: “They gathered in the tens of thousands Saturday across Florida, driven by urgency over a constitutional right they see being threatened in the Legislature, which is set to copy a restrictive Texas abortion law, and the U.S. Supreme Court, where the landmark Roe v. Wade decision is on the line after nearly 50 years. ‘The fact of the matter is this is about women, and it matters to everyone,’ said Cherie Crim, who hosted a demonstration of about 100 people in Panama City, in the state’s northern Panhandle.”
— “More than a thousand shut down Downtown Orlando streets in Women’s March against anti-abortion bills,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Cristóbal Reyes:
— “‘It’s serious.’ Thousands rally for reproductive rights across Tampa Bay,” by Tampa Bay Times’ Michaela Mulligan and Bernadette Berdychowski
— “Gender justice and women’s rights march attracts hundreds to Florida Capitol,” by Tallahassee Democrat’s Alicia Devine
— “Over 1,000 demonstrators fill Bradenton’s Riverwalk in Women’s March for reproductive rights,” by Sarasota Herald-Tribune’s Samantha Gholar Weires
‘FACES OF AMERICA’ — “NASA’s Nelson: Astronauts no longer exclusive to white men,” by Associated Press’ Brendan Farrington: “Being an astronaut is no longer an exclusive club of white men, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said Friday while telling students that the first woman and first person of color will be landing on the moon soon. Nelson told a group of middle school students and Florida A&M-Florida State College of Engineering students that unlike the Apollo missions to the moon, the return under the Artemis Program will be lead by a diverse group of astronauts. ‘The astronaut corps looks a lot different. They’re not all white male test pilots, Now they’re women and they’re people of color and they’re PhDs and they’re medical doctors and they’re scientists,’ Nelson said. ‘It’s faces just like your faces. The faces of America.’”
SOLD — “Once home to Jeffrey Epstein mansion, lot sells for $25.8 million in Palm Beach: deed,” by Palm Beach Daily News’ Darrell Hofheinz: “A Palm Beach vacant lot that was once home to the infamous mansion of the late disgraced financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein has sold for $25.845 million, the price recorded with the deed. Seasonal Palm Beach residents David and Mally Skok are linked to the trust that was on the buyer’s side of the property at 360 El Brillo Way, the Palm Bach Daily News has confirmed. David Skok is a venture capitalist and a partner with Matrix Partners in Boston. His wife is a Boston-based interior decorator and designer of wallpapers and fabrics.”
— “How Julio Iglesias used shell companies to build, cloak his real estate empire,” by El Nuevo Herald’s Antonio Maria Delgado, McClatchy D.C.’s Kevin Hall and Sean McGoey
— “‘Our lives have now changed forever,’ says family of Miya Marcano, teen murdered at 19,” by Sun Sentinel’s Susannah Bryan
UPDATE — “Florida school shooting suspect faces trial for jail brawl,” by The Associated Press’ Terry Spencer: “The suspect in the 2018 killing of 17 people at a Florida high school is finally going on trial — but not for the slayings. Jury selection begins Monday on charges Nikolas Cruz attacked a Broward County jail guard nine months after the Feb. 14, 2018, shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.”
— “Let battle commence: Preservation group fights to protect mini-castle in Fort Lauderdale,” by Sun Sentinel’s Lisa J. Huriash: “A last-ditch effort has been launched to save a miniature castle in Fort Lauderdale from any threat of being torn down and redeveloped. On Monday a Fort Lauderdale advisory board will decide whether the land is worthy of being labeled historic. Built over several years between 1924 and 1928, with coral rock and complete with two towers and unrestricted riverside access, it was originally used for tourists during the winter season.”
BIRTHDAYS: Katie Miller, former communications director for former Vice President Mike Pence … Maria Carrillo, senior deputy editor enterprise for Tampa Bay Times … (Was Sunday) State Sen. Travis Hutson … POLITICO’s Ursula Perano … Donna Blanton with the Radey law firm.
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