Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 11.7.22

Gun Rights

Good Monday morning.

A new poll of Florida Republicans shows Gov. Ron DeSantis would beat Donald Trump in the 2024 Primary for the GOP nomination.

Data for Progress surveyed 777 likely Republican Primary and found the Governor leading the former President 44%-42%.

This wasn’t a head-to-head — the poll included 10 other potential candidates, such as U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and former Vice President Mike Pence. The only other candidate to garner more than 1% support was U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, whose anti-Trump views doomed her re-election to Congress.

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When the field is narrowed to DeSantis and Trump, DeSantis rockets out to a double-digit lead, 52%-41%. The only other candidates that Data for Progress put in a one-on-one with Trump were Pence and U.S. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina. Trump beats his former VP 76%-18%, and Scott 75%-16%.

In a hypothetical matchup in Florida, Ron DeSantis gets good news.

More good news for DeSantis 2024: His favorability rating is through the roof at plus-81, which is 19 points higher than Trump’s plus-62 rating in Florida.

More than three-quarters of those polled said they “strongly approve” of the job Trump did as President, and 80% said they “strongly like” Trump’s positions on policy issues. The drop among those who said they would support DeSantis in the Primary is negligible.

The main hang-up appears to be Trump’s “tone or how he talks about people and the issues.” That’s something only about half Florida Republicans like — either strongly or somewhat — while 46% said they strongly or somewhat dislike the former President’s tone.

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Eric Lynn is getting an eleventh-hour endorsement from former President Barack Obama.

Lynn, the Democratic nominee in Florida’s 13th Congressional District, served as a Senior Adviser to Secretaries of Defense from both parties during the Obama administration, from 2008-15.

“We need more leaders like Eric who have a track record of making common sense decisions that put people first,” Obama says in a new radio ad.

That’s what Eric has done throughout his career — working with our military to keep America secure and stand up for our values here at home and around the world. In Congress, I know Eric will do the same for the people of Pinellas. He’ll work to fight inflation, lower costs and protect a woman’s right to choose.”

Also over the weekend, former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta recorded a video reiterating his support for Lynn, who served under him.

Lynn said he was honored to have earned endorsements from his former bosses.

“Serving my country at the Pentagon and in his administration was the honor of a lifetime and in Congress, I will always stand up for our veterans and work tirelessly to keep our community and our country safe and secure.”

Lynn faces Republican Anna Paulina Luna in the General Election for CD 13, an open seat that slightly favors the GOP. The race has been one of the most expensive congressional contests in the state, with more than $8.4 million in ad spending backing Lynn and $5.2 million backing Luna.

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

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⛈ — Bad weather is on the way to Florida’s east coast, just in time for Election Day. On Sunday, the National Hurricane Center said the tropical disturbance out in the Atlantic has a high chance of becoming a cyclone in the next day or so. High winds aren’t expected to show up to the polls, but there will be lots of water, so pack a poncho and an umbrella.

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Congratulations to Rep. Josie Tomkow and top GOP consultant Tom Piccolo on their engagement!

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There were a lot of great reads this weekend:

🫥 — A disappearing warning sign: Earlier in September, New York Times Chief Political Analyst Nate Cohn noticed a warning sign in the polls. Democrats were showing strength in the same places where polls overestimated their chances in 2020. That suggested their leads might not be real. Now though, the warning signs are gone. “There is no longer any material relationship between relative Democratic or Republican strength in the key Senate races and the polling error from 2020.” While it looks like polls have righted themselves, Cohn cautions that it doesn’t mean there won’t still be polling errors this time around. Read more here.

🎲 — Elections gambling > sports betting? The American government doesn’t allow organized betting on elections. The founders of a company that believes anything can turn into a wager, Kalshi, wants to change that by convincing regulators that gambling on elections isn’t a threat to American democracy. To do so, one of their primary arguments, according to a feature in theinformation.com, is that it’s not actually betting. The Kalshi model instead serves as an opinion market, or a decision market, and allows customers to purchase contracts worth a dollar. Wagers can combine up to $25,000 worth of contracts for a single event. It’s an investment in the event, they argue, not a bet. Supporters believe adding politics to the company’s contract offerings is a way to provide relief from a volatile process, not to mention a massive business opportunity.

🗳 — Follow the election trail IRL: The ABC News series “Power Trip: Those who seek power and those who chase them,” is now streaming on Hulu. The series follows seven reporters following campaigns as they capture all the events and stories leading up to Nov. 8. It follows Democrats and their big-name surrogates fighting to preserve their congressional majority, and GOP figures fighting to take it. It feels like requisite pre-election watching. Catch it on Hulu.

🎗 — Victims of Communism Day: For the first time since its passage in the Legislature, the state will formally recognize Victims of Communism Day. Lawmakers passed this year and the Governor signed into law a bill that requires observation each year on Nov. 7, including in public schools. Under the new observed day, high school students will receive specified instruction on communism and its effects.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@Jack: Folks at Twitter past and present are strong and resilient. They will always find a way no matter how difficult the moment. I realize many are angry with me. I own the responsibility for why everyone is in this situation: I grew the company size too quickly. I apologize for that.

@CostaReports: Spoke to several close Trump allies early this eve who say the reality is Trump can’t stand being ignored, wants to claim part of GOP gains as his own, resents attn on DeSantis and on Pence’s book, and, as several put it, wants “revenge.” And he believes RNC will fall in line.

Tweet, tweet:

@MaggieNYT: And most likely not a total coincidence but Roger Stone, who’s been most aggressively attacking DeSantis in public, wrote in a Truth Social post several days ago, “@realDonaldTrump’s endorsement MADE Ron DeSanctimonius Governor #ingrate.”

@RadioFreeTom: Imagine being DeSantis and going to all the trouble of hiding your Ivy degree and learning to imitate Trump — the Mob goon pinky finger, the accordion hands, the drunken centaur posture — and your reward is to get a ten-cent, six-syllable nickname and told to get out of the way.

@DaveReaboi: Re “Ron DeSanctimonious”— not only is it a lame put-down, the word choice reveals insecurity: what could DeSantis be accused of being “sanctimonious” about? Being right on COVID before anyone else, making Florida a free state while everyone else was scared and listening to (Anthony) Fauci.

@BryanDGriffin: Those from Cuba, South America, or Eastern Europe have plenty of criticisms to offer on communism — and since November 7th is now ‘Victims of Communism Day’ in Florida, the willfully ignorant will have a harder time keeping up this ruse.

@StrandJunker: I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it a thousand times: The economy will come back, your rights may not. — Vote.

@MattYGlesias: The only poll that matters is the highly inaccurate exit poll they take on Election Day that becomes fodder for everyone’s analytic takes that are then never revisited even as the data is reweighted months or even years later based on better samples.

Tweet, tweet:

— DAYS UNTIL —

2022 General Election — 1; ‘The Crown’ Season 5 returns — 2; ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ premieres — 4; FITCon 2022 begins — 9; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 10; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 14; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 17; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 26; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 26; 2022 Florida Chamber Annual Insurance Summit — 28; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 29; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 39; final Broadway performance of ‘The Music Man’ with Hugh Jackman — 55; Bruce Springsteen launches his 2023 tour in Tampa — 86; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 102; final performance of ‘Phantom of the Opera’ on Broadway — 103; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 120; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 138; Taylor Swift ‘Eras’ Tour in Tampa — 159; American Association of Political Consultants Pollies ’23 conference begins — 162; 2023 Session Sine Die — 179; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 179; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 207; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 256; ‘‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 263; Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 361; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 508; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 564; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 627; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 627; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 669; ‘Deadpool 3’ premieres — 732; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 830; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 907. ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,096.

— TOP STORY —

Right-wingers turn on Donald Trump for mocking Ron DeSantis” via Zachary Petrizzo of Daily Beast — Trump mocked DeSantis at his Saturday night rally — calling the Governor “Ron DeSanctimonious.”

And hours later, Trump found himself in hot water with fellow conservatives who weren’t pleased that he’d taken aim at the increasingly popular DeSantis.

The reactions to the Trump name-calling weren’t favorable in conservative circles.

Donald Trump’s latest dis didn’t go over well. Image via AP.

“Calling it now, DeSantis is going to run, and he’s going to beat Trump badly,” Will Chamberlain, the publisher of Human Events and a right-wing lawyer, said in response to the Trump jab. “This is just weak.”

Right-wing Daily Wire pundit Matt Walsh also expressed frustration at Trump over the “dumb nickname.”

“Trump isn’t going to be able to take this one [DeSantis] down with a dumb nickname. He better have more than that up his sleeve,” he wrote. “Also, nice job launching your public attack against the most popular conservative Governor in America three days before the Midterms when we’re all supposed to be showing a united front.”

Even vigorous Trump defender and former Federalist co-founder Ben Domenech said the new Trump nickname needed some workshopping.

Tweet, tweet:

Mike Pompeo runs to DeSantis’ defense after Trump lands first blow with new nickname” via Emma Colton of Fox News — Former Secretary of State Pompeo rushed to defend DeSantis after Trump dubbed the “Ron DeSanctimonious” at a rally Saturday evening. “Not tired of winning. @GovRonDeSantis you’ve proven conservative policies work. Florida is better for it. Vote for @GovRonDeSantis,” Pompeo tweeted Saturday evening. The comment came as Trump held a rally in Latrobe, Pennsylvania on Saturday ahead of Tuesday’s Election Day. “We’re winning big in the Republican Party for the nomination like nobody’s ever seen before,” Trump told the crowd before listing other Republicans who could potentially challenge him in 2024.

GOP megadonor: I’m ready to back DeSantis for President in ’24” via Shia Kapos of POLITICO — Hedge fund CEO and philanthropist Ken Griffin has given nearly $60 million to federal Republican candidates and campaigns this election cycle. Politically, he’s tired of Trump. Griffin liked his fiscal policies while in the White House, but his only financial support to Trump came in donating $100,000 to his inaugural committee. “He did a lot of things really well and missed the mark on some important areas,” Griffin said. “And for a litany of reasons, I think it’s time to move on to the next generation.” While he’s supporting one of this cycle’s biggest culture warriors in DeSantis, Griffin said most hot-button issues — abortion rights, battles over sex education and LGBTQ rights — don’t define his interests. He wants to improve the diversity of the GOP and blunt the vein of populism that has complicated the party’s relationship with the corporate world — two things he’s consulted with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy about.



— NAT’L MOOD —

Joe Biden stumps on job growth, as voters dread inflation” via The Associated Press — President Biden has notched an envious record on jobs, with 10.3 million gained during his tenure. But voters in Tuesday’s Midterm Elections are far more focused on inflation hovering near 40-year highs. That’s left the president trying to convince the public that the job gains mean better days are ahead, even as fears of a recession build. Economic anxieties have compounded as the Federal Reserve has repeatedly hiked its benchmark interest rates to lower inflation and possibly raise unemployment. Biden is asking voters to look beyond the current financial pain, saying that what matters are the job gains. The government reported Friday that employers added 261,000 jobs in October as the unemployment rate bumped up to 3.7%.

Joe Biden talks about jobs; voters worry about inflation. Image via AP.

GOP predicts Midterm wins; Biden warns of democracy threats” via Will Weissert of The Associated Press — Republicans are eyeing major gains in Tuesday’s elections and appealing to supporters over the final weekend of the 2022 campaign to punish Democrats for high inflation and crime rates that have risen in some places. Biden said the prospect of GOP victories could undermine the very future of American democracy. More than 39 million people have already voted in an election that will decide control of Congress and key governorships. Biden was set to campaign in suburban New York on Sunday. Sen. Rick Scott, who heads the Republicans’ Senate campaign arm, countered, “We have great candidates. People are showing up to vote.”

House vote nearly split, GOP has edge on economy and turnout” via Dan Balz, Scott Clement and Emily Guskin of The Washington Post — Voters’ intentions for the House are split about evenly, with 49% of registered voters saying they will vote for the Republican candidate in their district and 48% saying they will vote for the Democrat. Likely voters split 50% Republican and 48% Democratic. If recent history is a guide, Democrats need a clear lead in this measure to hold off Republican gains. Many more Democratic seats are considered toss-ups. When Republicans had big victories in 2010 and 2014, they had somewhat bigger pre-election advantages than the current poll shows.

Polling averages can be useful, but what’s underneath has changed” via Nate Cohn of The New York Times — The pollsters who have surveyed a state most recently is a big factor in determining whether the numbers look better for Republicans or Democrats. And this year, the polls driving the average are quite different. A wave of polls from Republican-leaning firms is driving the averages, showing Republicans gaining into the final stretch. They’ve pulled ahead on the generic ballot in the race for the House, and they’ve fought into a closely contested race for Senate control.

Suburban women, no longer ‘soccer moms,’ hold key to Midterms” via Dana Goldstein, Robert Gebeloff, Allison McCann and Brent McDonald of The New York Times — More than a dozen women interviewed in swing regions think of themselves as apolitical. But they could not avoid the sense that politics were intruding on their lives. The suburban-based women each shared a sense of pessimism about the direction of the country. They were strained by the cost of housing and groceries, they said, and fearful of crime. Many felt freedom itself was under threat, whether the freedom they sought was the right to abortion or the right to shield their children from what they considered objectionable ideas on gender and race.

Gen Z voter turnout will show just how influential influencers really are” via Samantha Cherry of The Washington Post — As Gen Z’s voting-eligible population grows, its members’ views and votes are taking on increasing importance. Now, many young people are turning to well-liked content creators to figure out how to vote and who to vote for in this week’s Midterms. They turn to creators whose interests, identities or beliefs align with theirs, and more than ever before, Gen Z voter turnout will reflect how good political influencers are at their jobs.

Will Gen Z be an electoral force in 2022?

Conspiracy theorists urge voting as late as possible on Election Day to ‘stop the steal’” via Kira Lerner of Florida Phoenix — For weeks, election deniers have spewed an unfounded conspiracy theory urging Republican voters to wait and cast their ballots on Election Day. Now the effort has gone even further, with some telling Republicans to vote as late in the day as possible to thwart plans by Democrats to commit fraud. There is no legitimate evidence to support their claims that Democrats have in the past or could rig an election based on Republican early vote totals. But if large numbers of voters show up to vote late on Election Day, it could overwhelm already overworked election offices and create long lines, forcing polling places to stay open late into the night to accommodate everyone waiting to vote.

Media preps for 2022 election with focus on democracy issues” via The Associated Press — A television reporter assigned to “democracy issues” would usually have a quiet time on election nights, occasionally popping up to talk about broken voting machines at a polling place or two. That’s not the case in 2022. Election deniers and threats to voting rights have changed coverage of elections, with many news organizations centering on democracy. CBS News will have its first-ever “Democracy Desk” to look at those issues and how law enforcement is dealing with threats. NBC News’ “Vote Watch Unit” is looking at election security and disinformation. ABC News has assigned the team of Dan Abrams, Pierre Thomas, Terry Moran and Kate Shaw to the topic. News teams also promise transparency in their own operations.

— 2022 —

Florida election crimes unit sends out last-minute felons-removal list, causes confusion” via James Call and John Kennedy of USA Today Network — Lists containing the names of hundreds of voters have been sent to county elections supervisors around Florida by DeSantis’ new Office of Election Crimes and Security, which is urging they be screened and possibly prevented from voting because of felony convictions. The lists were sent to supervisors in late October, just weeks before Election Day. “We’re extremely uncomfortable with suddenly lodging a whole bunch of challenges to voters when it’s outside of procedures and statutes that have been in place for a long time,” said Mark Earley, who is the Leon County Supervisor.

DeSantis, Charlie Crist rally supporters in Central Florida as Election Day nears” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — The two campaigns for Florida Governor crossed paths in Central Florida on Saturday, with DeSantis rallying in Oviedo and Crist holding an event in Orlando. A raspy-voiced DeSantis made the Oviedo Amphitheatre & Cultural Center his third stop out of four this weekend, as he made his way from Volusia to Pinellas counties. The Governor hit all the familiar notes from the last two years. The mood for this Central Florida rally was different from one he held in Orlando just before the 2018 election when he was down in the polls to Andrew Gillum and could only promise he would “fight the good fight [and] finish the race.”

Charlie Crist makes his closing pitch.

Assignment editors — DeSantis has one more stop on the “Don’t Tread on Florida” Tour planned in Palm Beach County: 2:30 p.m., Everglades Equipment Group, 1335 Neptune Drive, Boynton Beach.

Assignment editors — Crist will take part in the following events as he brings his “Choose Freedom” Tour to a close: 11:45 p.m., Melbourne; 1:15 p.m., St. Lucie; 6:30 p.m., GOTV rally with Val Demings; 8:15 p.m., election eve news conference, Tampa. Locations upon RSVP at [email protected].

FSU poll: DeSantis, Marco Rubio cruising to re-election” via Caden DeLisa of The Capitolist — A newly published poll of Florida voters shows that DeSantis and Sen. Rubio appear poised to secure re-election. If the election were held today, 53% of respondents stated that they would vote for DeSantis over Crist, who received 43% support. In the U.S. Senate election, Rubio leads Congresswoman Demings by 7 percentage points, 51% to 44%. “Florida is an important bellwether state,” said Dr. Hans Hassel, Institute of Politics at FSU Director. “The results from the IOP poll show favorable winds for Republican candidates.”

DeSantis is so popular with Florida Latinos he may turn dem strongholds red” via Jake Lahut of the Daily Beast — DeSantis is on the verge of becoming the first Republican to win the Latino vote statewide since Jeb Bush back in 2002. DeSantis’s ability to make inroads with other Latino demographics, including the growing Colombian American vote, could bode well for any 2024 presidential ambitions. Recent polling also shows DeSantis performing better than Rubio among Latinos in the Sunshine State, both in the latest Telemundo poll and another conducted by Trump pollster Tony Fabrizio for Americano media. The Telemundo poll also found 50% of Latino respondents were in favor of the Governor’s decision to send Venezuelan migrants to Martha’s Vineyard, with 43% opposed.

‘Things change’: Rubio, once Trump’s adversary, embraces former President” via Alex Roarty and Bianca Padró Ocasio of the Miami Herald — When Rubio last sought re-election, in 2016, he seemed more likely to insult Trump than campaign with him. The situation is very different six years later. On Sunday, Trump will headline a rally for the Republican Senator just 48 hours before Election Day, appearing with him in Miami in what will be his campaign’s largest and most high-profile public event this year. For Rubio, the appearance with Trump is the culmination of a deeply changed relationship with the former President, a shift that has seen him go from calling his former presidential rival a dangerous menace to embracing him as a political ally.

My, how things have changed for Marco Rubio since 2016.

—“Advantages abound for Ashley Moody in re-election bid” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

—”Democratic challenger Adam Hattersley takes on GOP incumbent Jimmy Patronis in CFO race” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics

How private prisons backdoor big donations to DeSantis” via Jason Garcia of Seeking Rents — The nation’s largest private prison contractor, The GEO Group, has given more than $740,000 to the Republican Governors Association so far in 2022. Now, there’s no way to know much of the money from GEO was passed on to DeSantis. But it’s a good bet that some of it was. That’s because Florida is the most important state in the country for GEO, which is based in Boca Raton and made more than $110 million last year from Florida contracts. GEO’s donations to the RGA included $150,000 given in mid-August — less than two weeks before the DeSantis administration renewed the company’s contract to run the 1,948-bed South Bay Correctional and Rehabilitation Facility in Palm Beach County.

A power company wants to take $1 billion from Florida customers. It just gave $3 million to Florida politicians.” via Jason Garcia of Seeking Rents — Filings suggest that Duke Energy wants to make its customers pay an extra $1.1 billion just for this year — and even more for 2023. Records show that the giant power company plowed $2.9 million into Florida elections in the closing weeks of this year’s campaigns. Duke appears be the largest corporate contributor this fall to state races for Governor, Cabinet and Legislature. The company’s last-minute largesse included $1 million to the Republican Party of Florida, which is helping to pay for DeSantis’ re-election campaign. It also included $500,000 each to funds controlled by Republican leaders in the state House and Senate, which are paying for advertisements in close legislative races across Florida.

— 2022: CONGRESSIONAL —

Two outsized characters, two legal battles in Matt Gaetz, Rebekah Jones CD 1 race” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — No matter who wins the race for Florida’s 1st Congressional District, the Northwest Florida seat will be represented by a lawmaker dogged by legal challenges. Incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Gaetz is eyeing a fourth term in Congress and hopes to move past an ongoing criminal investigation into sex trafficking allegations. Meanwhile, Democratic challenger Jones faces an uphill battle to unseat him in the heavily Republican seat while preparing for a trial about whether she hacked an FDOS messaging system. Gaetz has dug his heels further into the fringes of his party since he was accused of paying for a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl. He denies the allegations — and reports suggest prosecutors won’t charge him — but he has fallen out of favor with the Republican establishment, providing Democrats a possible window to unseat him.

Matt Gaetz and Rebekah Jones: Two outsized characters face off.

Neal Dunn, Al Lawson square off in district shaped by Gov. DeSantis” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — The contest is only one of two races nationwide featuring two incumbents vying to retain their spot in Congress. Dunn and Lawson are both fighting for the North Florida district, and Lawson, the underdog Democrat, believes DeSantis wants to reduce Black representation in rural North Florida. The race for CD 2 is the embodiment of the legal controversy surrounding Florida’s new congressional maps drawn by the Governor’s Office, unprecedented in recent Florida history. With 2022 redistricting, DeSantis opposed efforts from the Legislature’s mapmakers to preserve CD 5 as a “minority access” seat, calling the scraggly district an unconstitutional racial gerrymander. FiveThirtyEight gives Dunn a 99% chance of winning and, as of Saturday afternoon, predicts the final vote to be 58%-42%.

Incumbent v. incumbent: Al Lawson and Neal Dunn fight in a controversial district.

Aaron Bean expected to cruise to win in CD 4” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — Fernandina Beach state Sen. Aaron Bean is all but assured to be the next First Coast Congressman, having pulled 68.1% in the GOP Primary. But standing in his way is Democratic nominee LaShondaL.J.” Holloway. Nassau, Clay and Duval County areas north and west of the St. Johns River are included in the district, which Donald Trump carried by 7 points in 2020. DeSantis won it by 5 points in 2018. In an October poll, Bean came in with 50% among respondents, while 38% chose Holloway and 12% said they didn’t know or refused to answer. Bean has been dominant in fundraising, raising more than $1 million toward his congressional effort, while Holloway raised and spent less than $10,000 for the duration of her campaign.

Newt Gingrich, Kevin McCarthy fire up the faithful for CD 4 nominee Bean” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — “It’s really up to us — it’s up to us what decisions we make, who we elect, the leaders we elect to make the right decisions,” Bean said. “Because that light (at the end of the tunnel) could be the dawn of a new era in our country. I do know this — when we do the right thing, the best days are still ahead of us.” Former House Speaker Gingrich and current GOP House Leader McCarthy joined Bean on the podium. A poll by the Public Opinion Research Lab (PORL) at the University of North Florida (UNF) showed Bean with a 12-point lead over Democrat Holloway, mostly to 20-point-plus leads in three older-age demographics — 45-54-year-olds, 55-64-year-olds and people aged 65-plus.

Cory Mills strolling toward Congress in CD 7 race against Karen Green” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The possibility of flipping a Democrat-held seat in Central Florida cast Florida’s 7th Congressional District as a major battleground. But as Election Day draws near, it feels more like one of the biggest Democratic concessions in a red wave year. Mills, who came out on top in an expensive, crowded and bitter GOP Primary, looks toward November as a clear favorite. The defense contractor has touted his record as an Army combat veteran. “We’re taking nothing for granted. We know we’ve got to get our message out to voters and to remind their neighbors and friends to vote too for a better America,” Mills said.

Duh —Val Demings endorses Maxwell Alejandro Frost in CD 10” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Days out from the General Election, Orlando Democrat Demings endorsed Frost in Florida’s 10th Congressional District. Frost’s campaign announced the support of Demings, along with endorsements from Orange County Major Jerry Demings, the Congresswoman’s husband, and from Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, as well as U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, a close Demings ally representing Florida’s 9th Congressional District. Frost faces Republican Calvin Wimbish in the Nov. 8 General election.

James Judge faces uphill battle against incumbent Kathy Castor” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — In Florida’s 14th Congressional District, Republican newcomer Judge is campaigning to unseat Democratic U.S. Rep. Castor. But despite a successful Primary, Judge faces an enormous uphill climb against the incumbent as she seeks her ninth term representing the deep-blue Tampa district. Judge took the Republican nomination after winning the Primary with 53% of votes. Castor is favored to win re-election. To take the district, Judge would need to have strong appeal across party lines. The district has a heavy Democratic lean after redistricting.

Jared Moskowitz dominates in fundraising, endorsements for race to represent South Florida in Congress” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Democrat Moskowitz appears poised to head to Congress and succeed Democratic U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch in representing South Florida in Washington. Not only does Moskowitz’s election to the seat for Florida’s 23rd Congressional District have the full-throated endorsement of both the Sun-Sentinel and the Palm Beach Post, his 16 years of public service have made him well-known to many and he’s outraised his Republican challenger 10-to-1. Added to all that, CD 23 is in the habit of electing Democrats. Biden defeated Trump among the district’s voters by 13 percentage points. Two no-party candidates, former CIA agent and military veteran Mark Napier and businesswoman Christine Scott, are also in the race for this open congressional seat. But they’ve raised a negligible amount of money.

Robert Asencio aims to defy odds, upset consistent winner Carlos Giménez in CD 28” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — For nearly two straight decades, U.S. Rep. Giménez has enjoyed unmitigated success in politics, rising from an appointed role as manager of his adoptive city of Miami to the halls of Congress. This year, former Democratic state Rep. Asencio hopes to defy the odds and marked deficits in governing experience, funding and name recognition to derail that upward trajectory.

—2022: LEGISLATIVE —

Ghost of 2020 hangs over Jason Brodeur, Joy Goff-Marcil contest in SD 10” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The race for Senate District 10 in Central Florida has remained one of the most closely watched in Florida throughout 2022. Sen. Brodeur, a Sanford Republican, faces a challenge from Democratic state Rep. GoffMarcil. The competition marks a rare occasion when Democrats invested heavily in the offense this cycle. Brodeur and Miami Republican Sen. Ileana Garcia are the only GOP incumbents Senate Victory directed major resources toward unseating. That includes making the district, which covers parts of Orange and Seminole, a chief stop on a bus tour of the state. Both Brodeur and Garcia won election in the same class, in 2020 — under similarly scrutinized circumstances. Republican operatives in both their districts allegedly recruited candidates to run with no party affiliation, dubbed “ghost candidates,” in an apparent effort to siphon off votes from Democrats. Both won close contests. Under the new lines, about 51.5% of voters sided with Biden in the 2020 Presidential Election, compared to 47.06% who backed Trump.

Janet Cruz fights to keep Senate seat against Jay Collins” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Cruz is fighting to keep her seat in one of the most competitive legislative races in the state: the battle for Senate District 14. Her challenger: veteran Collins. The Green Beret quickly gained momentum after entering the contest in June, bringing with him a congressional war chest and useful GOP support. The seat itself is competitive. Redistricting has painted SD 14 deep purple; Democrats narrowly outnumber Republicans by roughly 5,000 voters. By the numbers, the district is made up of 122,585 registered Democrats (36%), 116,224 registered Republicans (34%), and an additional 105,322 nonpartisan or third-party voters (31%).

Janet Cruz and Jay Collins duke it out in a highly competitive Senate race.

First-time candidates spar for Senate seat representing swath of southeast Miami-Dade” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Two first-time candidates for public office — Republican Alexis Calatayud and Democrat Janelle Perez — are competing for the open Senate District 38 seat representing a sizable swath of southeast Miami-Dade County. Both are women of Cuban descent who previously worked as GOP staffers, and neither faced a Primary challenger. Perez should still hold an advantage in the district, which leaned Democratic in 2020 when voters there chose Biden over Trump by 7 percentage points. But Florida’s GOP-favoring voter registration numbers indicate that edge is likely to be smaller now.

Miami’s most controversial state Senator squares off against grassroots latecomer” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Miami Republican Sen. Garcia’s election victory in 2020 was mired in controversy. She’s since attracted even more negativity thanks to numerous verbal missteps. On Nov. 8, she hopes to decisively secure re-election and prove her doubters wrong. Standing in her way is Democratic candidate Raquel Pacheco, a former Miami Beach Commission candidate who dove into the race headfirst in June after Garcia’s prior opponent abruptly pulled out. The two women are vying for the seat representing Senate District 36, one of five state Senate districts with close enough balances between registered Republicans and Democrats to be competitive this year. The precincts there chose Biden by less than 1 percentage point in 2020.

— 2022: MORE LEGISLATIVE —

Clay Yarborough is the heir apparent to Aaron Bean in SD 4” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — It’s been a long wait for Rep. Yarborough, who’s been the heir apparent in Senate District 4 since Summer 2021. Outgoing Fernandina Beach Sen. Bean previously held the seat and is expected to be the next Representative from Florida’s 4th Congressional District. Yarborough was not opposed in the GOP Primary. He faces Democrat Sharmin Smith, a Jacksonville Beach author who was the only Democrat to file for the seat, which has been described as having a Republican voter registration advantage that’s “insurmountable.”

Colleen Burton campaigns from a position of strength against Veysel Dokur in SD 12” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The race to be Lakeland’s newest state Senator has seemed a lopsided one. Despite Senate District 12 being among the most closely divided by voter registration, state Rep. Burton has dominated fundraising. But could Democrat Dokur still pull an upset? The candidates were the only members of their respective parties to file to succeed term-limited state Sen. Kelli Stargel. Burton Chaired the Health & Human Services Committee in the House in the past Legislature, a culmination of eight years of service in the lower chamber. In that capacity, she oversaw investment in numerous health care and community initiatives.

Colleen Burton and Veysel Dokur are in a lopsided Senate race.

Dennis Baxley highlights ‘legacy’ in new ad — Sen. Baxley released a new ad titled “Legacy” in the final days of his re-election Senate District 13 re-election campaign. The spot highlights the Ocala Republican’s record of voting for tax cuts and his support for gun rights. “The Dennis Baxley legacy: Billions in tax cuts for working families, school choice for thousands of children stuck in failing schools, a champion for life. And in 2005, Baxley sponsored the Castle Doctrine — the right to stand your ground against violent criminals, earning Baxley the NRA National Defender of Freedom Award,” the ad states.

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

Nick DiCeglie, Eunic Ortiz battle for SD 18” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — Republican state Rep. Nick DiCeglie and Democratic first-time candidate Ortiz are battling for the chance to replace Sen. Jeff Brandes, the Republican incumbent who is not seeking re-election due to term limits. Brandes currently represents Senate District 24, which is being renumbered Senate District 18 as part of redistricting. DiCeglie has an advantage in the race. The district’s new configuration, while still purple, maintains a Republican edge. And while the seat is open, DiCeglie has the advantage of being an experienced legislator and Brandes’ endorsed successor. He has also maintained a strong fundraising advantage, with more than $1.4 million raised between his campaign account and the affiliated political committee. Ortiz, meanwhile, had raised just about $340,000 between her campaign and affiliated committee.

Darryl Rouson faces another challenge from Christina Paylan” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — Sen. Rouson is facing a rematch against a familiar face under a new party affiliation. Paylan challenged Rouson in Senate District 19 two years ago as a no-party candidate. She lost by 38 percentage points, drawing fewer than 80,000 votes to Rouson’s more than 174,000. Now, she’s running as a Republican in the district, renumbered through reapportionment as Senate District 16. Rouson is overwhelmingly favored to win again in the deep-blue district.

—2022: MORE LEGISLATIVE —

Chuck Clemons goes head-to-head with Brandon Peters in bid for a fourth term” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — State Rep. Clemons is hoping to return to Tallahassee for a fourth and final term representing the Gainesville area. He just needs to defeat Peters. Clemons is expected to win on Nov. 8, as the newly drawn House District carries a mild GOP advantage, it went for Donald Trump at the top of the ticket in 2020 by a slight margin, and Florida Republicans have a strong tail wind this year. The incumbent’s district under the old maps, House District 21, went for Biden by a narrow margin. But the likely culprit was defection among highly educated Republicans living in the Gainesville suburbs.

Will Fred Hawkins win re-election in Democratic-leaning HD 35 over Rishi Bagga?” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Redistricting left Republican Rep. Hawkins in a light blue district. But could the power of incumbency and a red wave help him overcome a challenge from Bagga? Hawkins seeks a second term, running in House District 35. Hawkins, a former Osceola County Commissioner, has focused on family and education issues during his time in office. As for Bagga, the lawyer hopes to become the first Indian American elected to the Legislature in state history and has offered criticism of the Republican-controlled Legislature for not addressing problems like Florida’s insurance crisis and instead focusing on divisive policies. The HD 35 contest is one of several that could test the strength of a red wave and the power of incumbency. Hawkins also enjoys a substantial cash lead, but Democrats theoretically should hold a demographic edge in the contest. Some 51.8% of voters in the district under the new lines supported Biden in 2020, while just 46.8% backed Trump.

Does Republican Fred Hawkins have enough juice to win a light blue district?

Carlos Guillermo Smith faces party-backed GOP challenger in Susan Plasencia” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Can Rep. Smith cruise to a fourth term in the House? A change in his district and heavy investment by the Republican Party mean he’s facing his most serious opponent in years. Plasencia, sister to former Rep. Rene Plasencia, hits the ballot with a solid family reputation and party support. But she still is trying to unseat a well-financed incumbent beloved by progressives in a Democrat-leaning district. Smith said he feels confident heading toward Election Day in House District 37. One of three openly LGBTQ members of the Legislature and the state’s first gay Latino lawmaker, Smith has maintained a fundraising edge throughout the election cycle.

Audrey Henson faces uphill battle against Lindsay Cross to flip HD 60” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — The race for House District 60 wasn’t expected to be too competitive — after all, the St. Petersburg-based district holds a Democratic advantage of more than 8,000 voters. But Republican businessperson Henson didn’t let that discourage her, fighting an uphill battle for HD 60. That’s when she dropped her congressional campaign in pursuit of flipping the blue St. Petersburg district red — a mission strengthened by a hefty war chest and strong support from the Florida GOP. The self-described Christian conservative faces Democrat Cross, an environmental scientist and community activist who has remained a competitive fundraiser even against Henson’s congressional-sized bank. With both candidates boasting strong party backing and ample reserves, the race has become more contentious than previously expected.

Jen McDonald, Karen Gonzalez Pittman battle for South Tampa House seat” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — McDonald and Pittman are battling it out in one of the most competitive and perhaps unpredictable districts in Tampa Bay: House District 65. The seat closely resembles the current House District 60 represented by Rep. Jackie Toledo, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress. But redistricting has made it a much more competitive district, with only a slight Republican advantage. McDonald will likely need to appeal across party lines to take the seat, especially after Toledo not surprisingly endorsed Pittman as her successor.

Fiona McFarland seeks re-election in swing seat as Derek Reich hammers on Florida’s abortion ban” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — In 2020, Rep. McFarland flipped a Democrat-held seat red with her election in 2020. Now, she seeks a second term in a more divided district. While she maintains a money edge over Democrat Reich, the challenger feels confident that homing in on abortion rights will lead to an upset. Redistricting put McFarland in House District 73, which still covers the city of Sarasota but now also extends south along Sarasota County’s full coastline. The first-term lawmaker has continued to keep a presence in national conservative media, earning speaking spots at CPAC. Her victory in 2020 reclaimed a seat Democrat Margaret Good won in a Special Election in 2018. In 2020, the district was the most divided in Florida, with 49.7% of voters under the new lines supporting Trump and 49.34% backing Biden.

Dana Trabulsy laps Democratic challenger in resources while seeking second House term” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Rep. Trabulsy appears to be on her way to a second term representing the Treasure Coast in Tallahassee if the amount of support she’s received compared to her Democratic rival is any sign. For this election cycle in House District 84, Trabulsy has raised more than $332,096 between her personal campaign account and her two political committees, St. Lucie Strong and Friends of Dana Trabulsy. Her challenger, Democrat Forest Blanton, has raised $7,878 as of Oct. 21. He also lent his campaign $15,000.

Rick Roth draws significant support in fourth-term bid to represent PBC’s most rural House District” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — If the money raised is any gauge, Rep. Roth is about to steamroll the Democratic challenger in his campaign for a fourth term representing Palm Beach County’s western, agricultural swath. Roth has raised $192,213 for his bid for a fourth term, to the four figures his competitor Terence Davis collected. Much of Roth’s haul comes from the Republican Party apparatus. Roth received $49,000 in cash and about $28,500 in in-kind support from the Florida House Republican Campaign Committee. He also received nearly $35,000 in in-kind support from the Republican Party of Florida in campaign staff and polling support.

Can Terence Davis dethrone Rick Roth, despite Ross’ serious support for a fourth term?

State Republicans invest in flipping southern Palm Beach House district” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — The most expensive race in Palm Beach County pits a twice-elected Boca Raton Council member, a Democrat, against a twice-elected Highland Beach Town Commissioner, a Republican, in the newly drawn House District 91. Boca’s Andy Thomson doesn’t even mention his Democratic Party affiliation or his opponent in his campaign materials. But his rival, Peggy Gossett-Seidman, has a video attacking Thomson which ran on local TV stations. She also prominently features a banner saying “Conservative Priorities” under her name on her website homepage.

Broward battle for HD 100 pits longtime pol against Democrat with redistricting on her side” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — Both Republican Rep. Chip LaMarca and his Democratic challenger, Linda Thompson Gonzalez, are hitting new personal fundraising records in the contest to represent Broward County in the Florida House. No General Election legislative race has attracted more money in Broward County than the one for House District 100, which stretches roughly from Port Everglades to the Palm Beach County line. As of Oct. 21, the race was just about $50,000 shy of the $1 million mark in terms of money raised. The money race is a lopsided one, however. LaMarca, who has been in elected office for 17 years, dwarfs Gonzalez in fundraising prowess. Between his personal account and political committee, Citizens Helping Improve Policy, LaMarca raised $165,450 in 14 days. Still, LaMarca could have a tough go at winning a third term in the House if voters stick to party lines.

A.J. D’Amico, Vicki Lopez in close contest for HD 113 spanning Key Biscayne, Miami, Coral Gables” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Democratic lawyer D’Amico and Republican political insider Lopez, a former Lee County Commissioner, are on a collision course to determine who will represent House District 113 after Rep. Nick Duran leaves office next month. Lopez boasts an edge in funding and political experience, but it’s D’Amico who enjoys a lead in recent polling, as well as a nod from Duran as his preferred successor. HD 113, post-redistricting, covers a central portion of Miami-Dade County and has leaned Democratic in recent elections. In 2018, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum secured HD 113 by 20 percentage points. Two years later, Biden won it by 12 points.

Demi Busatta Cabrera can lean on record to defend HD 114 seat against Democratic underdog Adam Benna” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — First-time candidate Benna faces an uphill battle in his attempt to unseat Rep. Busatta Cabrera. The 34-year-old Democratic lawyer and former political staffer heads to Election Day at a marked funding disadvantage. He also received significantly less help from his party, lacks the two years of lawmaking Busatta Cabrera has to lean on, and, consequently, is the lesser known of the two. The two lifelong Floridians are competing for the seat representing House District 114, which covers a largely coastal area in Miami-Dade County that includes parts of Coral Gables, South Miami, Cutler Bay and West Miami.

GOP insider, Democratic outsider compete to succeed moderate Republican in HD 115” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Two first-time state candidates are competing for the seat representing House District 115 in Miami-Dade County. Enter Alina García, whose work history in politics spans three decades. She’s seen and done a lot in The Process. She’s also raised a healthy chunk of change. Her opponent, Democratic Palmetto Bay resident Christie Cantin Davis, has not received congruous support. Cantin Davis, who filed to run just weeks from the qualifying deadline, has recorded no in-kind aid from the Democratic Party.

Gen Z opponents compete for House seat representing unincorporated West Miami-Dade” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Regardless of who wins the seat representing House District 119 on Nov. 8, one thing is certain: the average age of Florida’s lower legislative chamber will drop. Two members of Generation Z are vying for the seat state Rep. Anthony Rodriguez is vacating to join the Miami-Dade County Commission next month. The elder is Juan Carlos Porras, a 25-year-old former GOP operative turned business owner. His opponent, Democratic activist Gabriel Gonzalez, is 22, one year older than is required to serve in the House.

The battle of Gen Z in West Miami-Dade.

Jim Mooney in strong position to defend HD 120 seat from Democratic newcomer Adam Gentle” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — When the dust from a hostile Republican Primary settled back in August, incumbent Rep. Mooney stood with just 90 more votes than his challenger in House District 120. On Nov. 8, voters will decide whether to keep him in office or elect first-time candidate Gentle to replace him. HD 120 spans all of Monroe County, which encompasses the Keys and most of Everglades National Park, and the southernmost part of Miami-Dade County, including portions of Homestead, Homestead Air Reserve Base and Biscayne National Park. The district leans Republican but is still more moderate than its North Florida counterparts.

— KIDS TO THE POLLS —

More than 14,000 children across Leon County will get a real-life voting experience this week as part of Kids Voting Leon County (KVLC).

KVLC is a local chapter of Kids Voting USA, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that helps voter education and provides the voting experience to students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

Make it count. Kids can make their vote count at most Early Voting locations on Election Day. They can also cast a ballot in school, or by voting online at KVLC.org.

Being too young to vote doesn’t mean kids are too young to learn about voting.

Make it fun! Trained KVLC volunteers are in place to manage the Kids Voting precincts, often located inside official Leon County voting precincts, to ensure a positive, realistic voting experience for kids.

Results? The KVLC election results will be published in the Tallahassee Democrat.

Katie Ibarra, Chair of Kids Voting Leon County: “Teaching about American democracy has never been more critical than today, and it’s so important that our next generation learns how and why voting matters.”

— STATEWIDE —

End of days: Snapshots from a decadent democratic republic” via Jonathon V. Last of the Bulwark — The 20 arrests spotlighted by Gov. DeSantis and his election police are not holding up well. DeSantis highlighted the arrest of 20 felons who committed voter fraud by casting a ballot. But, in all 20 cases, the Florida Department of State did not flag the voter as ineligible. Therefore, local supervisors issued voter ID cards. So DeSantis is touting the arrests of people who believed they were eligible to vote because of the DeSantis administration’s failures. The arrests were the result of charges filed by the Office of Election Crimes and Security.

Pranks, parties and politics: DeSantis year as a schoolteacher” via Frances Robles of The New York Times — Twenty years ago, DeSantis, at the time a young graduate, accepted the role as a history teacher in one of Georgia’s oldest and largest boarding schools — Darlington School. The Florida Governor was the talk of the 20-year class reunion last month at Darlington, remembering a teacher that dreamed of being President someday. The episodes that former students describe about DeSantis’ year at Darlington offer a window into his formative years. As a baseball and football coach, he was admired and respected by his team. As a teacher, he was remembered by some as cocky and arrogant. He once publicly embarrassed a student with a prank, hung out at parties with seniors and got into debates about the Civil War with students who questioned the accuracy of his lessons.

Casey DeSantis, Florida’s ‘co-Governor’: Rivals, friends, and former colleagues say she’s the secret behind husband Ron DeSantis’ meteoric rise” via Lyz Lenz and Kimberly Leonard of Business Insider — From the start, Casey was instrumental in shaping Ron’s trajectory. During his bid for the U.S. House seat, she was his primary adviser, one of Ron’s former congressional staffers said. “She was definitely the only person that he trusted. He didn’t listen to anyone else on the campaign,” they said, adding, “Ron and Casey did the strategy — did everything.” “She humanizes Ron, and humanizing Ron is a pretty difficult thing to do,” a former DeSantis congressional aide said. “He is a pretty robotic person. She was the softer touch to everything he did. He can do the buzzwords, but she was the one at fundraisers talking to people and doing the face-to-face interactions much better than he ever could or ever will.”

The secret behind Ron DeSantis’ success.

September revenues beat expectations by $470M” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — Florida brought in more than $470 million more in revenues than expected in September, the largest number since the start of the fiscal year in July. The September revenue report reflects economic activity during the month of August and wasn’t affected by Hurricane Ian, which hit Southwest Florida on Sept. 28. It shows Florida brought in $4.07 billion, or $471.2 million more than economists projected. The large figure is a return to earlier in 2022 when inflation shot up nationwide, pushing up revenues from sales taxes and monthly reports showing the state beating previous forecasts built upon lower inflation figures by hundreds of millions of dollars.

Legal challenges mount over Medicaid $15 minimum wage mandate” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — Legal challenges to the state’s $15 an hour minimum wage for “direct care” employees are mounting. The Florida Ambulance Association, Florida Assisted Living Association (FALA) and Home Care Association of Florida (HCAF) filed challenges in state administrative court this week alleging that the state Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA), which has oversight of the state’s Medicaid program, did not go through rule-making process to define who are “direct care employees.” The cases have been assigned to state administrative Judge Robert S. Cohen. No hearing has been scheduled.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Rick Scott doesn’t rule out run for majority leader if GOP takes Senate” via Summer Concepcion on NBC News — The chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee declined Sunday to say whether he would run for majority leader if Republicans gain control of the Senate in the midterm elections. “I’m not focused on anything except getting a majority Tuesday night,” Scott said on “Meet the Press.” After host Chuck Todd replied, “That’s a non-answer,” Scott repeated his line that he is solely “focused” on Tuesday’s elections. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, has faced intraparty backlash after he declined to support former President Donald Trump’s false claims of a stolen 2020 election.

Sens. Rick Scott, Rubio renew push to open NAS Pensacola to visitors” via Pensacola News Journal — Scott and Rubio have reignited efforts to open NAS Pensacola, sending a letter to U.S. Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro. Pensacola’s National Naval Aviation Museum has operated under restricted access to the public for nearly three years since a terrorist attack at NAS Pensacola in December 2019. Since the attack, access to the base — as well as to the two museums — has been restricted to only Department of Defense cardholders and veterans. One plan suggested would be to create a separate, public access road leading to the base’s historic sites, avoiding the military access point. That plan, however, could ultimately be years in the making.

Florida’s Senators want to reopen NAS Pensacola to the public. It won’t happen overnight.

— EPILOGUE TRUMP —

Trump and other Republicans are already casting doubt on Midterm results” via Daniel Dale of CNN — Trump posted on social media on Tuesday to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the Midterm Election in the critical swing state of Pennsylvania. “Here we go again!” he wrote. “Rigged Election!” Trump’s supposed evidence? An article on a right-wing news site showed no rigging. Rather, the article baselessly raised suspicion about absentee-ballot data the article did not clearly explain. In 2020, Trump and his allies made a prolonged effort to discredit the Presidential election results in advance. Now, in the weeks leading up to Election Day in 2022, some Republicans have been deploying similar, and similarly dishonest, rhetoric.

The gaslighting has begun.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

Republicans cast more ballots than Democrats in Miami-Dade County as early voting ends” via Bianca Padró Ocasio of the Miami Herald — It’s yet another sign the GOP may claim Florida’s most populous county for the first time in two decades during Tuesday’s midterm elections. As of Sunday evening, about 180,000 Republicans and 174,000 Democrats had voted either by mail or in person in Miami-Dade, according to the county elections department. Another 112,000 ballots were cast by voters who either have no party affiliation or are registered to minor parties. Miami-Dade Democrats dominated in mail voting, a trend that tracks with other recent election. Mail ballots will continue to be counted until 7 p.m. on Election Day.

From YouTube to Miami streets: Influencer leads pro-Republican, anti-communism caravan” via Lesley Cosme Torres and David Smiley of the Miami Herald — On the eve of an election that Republicans believe will affirm their growing popularity in Miami-Dade County, Spanish-language social-media influencer Alex Otaola led another of his patented caravans across the county on Saturday, rallying Republicans on behalf of GOP candidates and against Democrats. Otaola, whose Cubanos por el Mundo YouTube channel has 253,000 subscribers, live-streamed the event. He stood halfway through a sunroof at times, shouting “¡Vamos!” through a bullhorn as a parade of cars adorned with American flags and Trump 2024 banners trailed behind him.

Alexander Otaola is one of the factors in turning Miami-Dade a shade redder.

Assailant encouraged GOP canvasser to ‘do your job,’ raising questions about Rubio’s account” via David Ovalle, Sarah Blaskey and Nicholas Nehamas of the Miami Herald — The man accused of a politically motivated attack on a Republican Party canvasser in Hialeah last month actually encouraged the canvasser to keep handing out flyers just moments before the fight started raising more questions about whether the canvasser was attacked for being a Republican, as both he and Rubio have repeatedly stated. “It’s OK, bro, we’re telling you, do your job,” Jonathan Casanova can be heard saying to canvasser Christopher Monzon, who was handing out Rubio flyers in an east Hialeah neighborhood on Oct. 23.

Good news about a great personLiberty City native Yolanda Cash Jackson becomes first Black woman to lead county economic development agency” via Michael Butler of the Miami Herald — In a Fort Lauderdale office adorned with countless awards next to her picture with President Barack Obama, an autographed Dwyane Wade jersey and art by Black artists, attorney Jackson feels at home. Jackson is the newly appointed chair of the board of directors of the Miami-Dade Beacon Council, the county’s public-private economic development partnership. As the first Black woman ever selected for the influential leadership role since the Council was formed in 1985, her perspective is shaped by growing up in Liberty City, the descendant of Bahamian immigrants that came to Miami in the early 20th century.

Runoff for Miami-Dade Commission pits Haitian American leaders, former allies against each other” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — A two-term Mayor and a longtime nonprofit director are squaring off to be the first person in more than a decade not named Jean Monestime to represent District 2 on the Miami-Dade County Commission. The showdown is between North Miami Mayor Philippe Bien-Aime and social worker Marleine Bastien, whose Family Action Network Movement provides social services to low-income and working-class residents. The two are former allies. Bastien endorsed and helped Bien-Aime in prior elections. But she said he’s shown his true colors since becoming his political opponent last year, the first time she’s ever run for public office.

Kevin Marino Cabrera, Jorge Fors Jr. clash for District 6 seat on Miami-Dade Commission” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — After months of campaigning and mounting animosity, the race between lobbyist Cabrera and Coral Gables Commissioner Fors for the Miami-Dade County Commission will conclude Nov. 8. By then, they’ll have spent around $3 million combined in hopes of succeeding term-limited Commissioner Rebeca Sosa, who has served in the District 6 seat since 2001. Sosa has endorsed Fors, while Cabrera carries a lofty endorsement from former Trump, who still is popular in the district. Voters there chose Trump over Biden by a 20-point margin. But Sosa also is quite popular there. She won re-election for a fifth time in 2018 with a whopping 76% of the vote.

Kevin Marino Cabrera and Jorge Fors Jr. face off in a pricy Miami-Dade County Commission race.

Should parents be concerned about flags? Miami-Dade School Board to discuss what’s OK” via Sommer Brugal of the Miami Herald — The Miami-Dade School Board is expected to consider this month a measure that will allow only the American flag and the official motto of the State of Florida, “In God We Trust,” be displayed in classrooms and on school district grounds. The idea, while still up for discussion, could mean that flags from other countries may be banned from hanging year-round in a world history class, for example, or a rainbow flag to celebrate LGBTQ Pride Month would be prohibited. The measure is expected to be on the Nov. 16 School Board agenda, but it could be amended or removed entirely following the board’s workshop meeting on Nov. 9 where members can raise concerns or support or suggest changes.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

Four-term incumbent, deputy face off in Citrus County School Board race” via Mike Wright of Florida Politics — Citrus County’s only School Board race pits an 18-year incumbent against a challenger who is no stranger to schools himself. Incumbent Linda Powers hopes to earn a full fifth term in office by overcoming her second-place finish in the District 5 Primary to Joe Faherty. Faherty finished first with 31% of the vote in August, enough to top the four-person Primary field but far short of the 50%-plus-1 needed to avoid the runoff. Faherty, who retires later this month after 20-plus years as a Citrus County Sheriff’s school resource deputy, is making his first attempt at elected office.

Will Joe Faherty deny Linda Powers another term?

A Florida high school band was performing at Disney. Then there was a mascot controversy” via Grethel Aguila of the Miami Herald — A Florida high school band has pulled out of a Walt Disney World parade this month because the attraction has banned its mascot. The nickname of Venice High, in Sarasota County, is the Indians. And Disney didn’t want any part of that. The school refused to change its identity and the Marching Indians marched away from the Nov. 12 performance. Disney notified principal Zoltan Kerestely of the policy change: The band either had to change its name or cover the school’s mascot because it depicts a Native American.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

Under judicial cloud, Jacksonville City Council tries yet another gerrymander” via Nate Monroe of The Florida Times-Union — Council members of both parties, acting with self-interest, united behind a map that enshrined an unacceptable status quo. They joined hands to protect one another, and in some cases to protect even their preferred successors in public office, because why limit oneself to influencing one future election when it’s possible to influence them for years to come? What was selfish was also lazy: The Council took seven months to merely copy the map it had used the previous decade and had used the decade before that — and the decade before that.

Lenny Curry blamed Jacksonville homicide tally on his predecessor. It’s been higher every year since.” via Mark Woods of The Florida Times-Union — Since Curry became Mayor in 2015, Jacksonville has had more than 1,000 homicides. This isn’t to say the Mayor is responsible for those 1,000 deaths. Our murder rate is a complex issue, one that has plagued this city for decades. But it is worth remembering what Curry did eight years ago when he was first running for public office. He said his predecessor was responsible for a rise in homicides. Alvin Brown, in his first term as Mayor, was to blame. If elected, Curry would make the city safe. One flyer had a headline that said, “Mayor Alvin Brown: How Much Longer Until We’re All Victims?”

Lenny Curry blamed Alvin Brown for Jacksonville’s murder rate. Eight years later, is the Mayor still to blame?

Christian Caban, Hannah Crow battle for vacant Leon County Commission District 2 seat” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — When Leon County Commissioner Jimbo Jackson died in May from complications from COVID-19, it left his District 2 seat open and attracted a crowded field of seven to replace him. That field was narrowed to two after the Primary, in which Crow led the pack with 26% of the vote. Caban received 883 votes, or 15.9%. Each candidate has said they’ll look to expand job creation in the district, bring more investment in infrastructure and parks and curb crime. Much of their debates have centered on their background and ties to the district.

Paula DeBoles-Johnson, David O’Keefe vie for Leon County Commission District 5 seat” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — As Kristin Dozier leaves the Leon County Commission District 5 seat she’s held for 12 years to run for the hotly contested Tallahassee Mayor position, the race to replace her could also be a tight contest. O’Keefe won the most votes in the Primary, taking 27% of the vote in a fairly even four-person race, while DeBoles-Johnson came in second with just 248 fewer votes, good for 26%. Dustin Rivest and Jay Revell received 24% and 23%, respectively, setting up a head-to-head showdown in the General Election between O’Keefe and DeBoles-Johnson.

Zero hour partisan attack aims to shake up Leon County School Board race between Alex Stemle, Laurie Cox” via Ana Goñi-Lessan of the Tallahassee Democrat — DeSantis’ attack on teachers unions has made its way into a local school board race. A mailer sponsored by the Leon County Republican Party advertised Stemle, a candidate for the Leon County School Board District 4 seat, as “working with the Florida Teachers Union.” “Say yes to parental choice and freedom,” the mailer states. As much as the two stress the importance of taking “the high road,” partisan state politics continue to seep into the nonpartisan race, regardless of both candidates’ wishes to remain local. “Neither me nor my campaign had anything to do with that flyer,” wrote Cox in a text message.

Nassau Co. School Board runoffs down to the wire” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — The six candidates for two Nassau County School Board seats dwindled to four after the Primary, and now two runoffs are set for Election Day to decide who will be on the Board in Districts 1 and 3. School Board member Jamie Deonas, the current District 3 member, is running for the District 1 open seat against educator Shannon Hogue. He won election and re-election previously without opposition. Deonas was one of the more vocal members of the Board regarding the need for a 1 mill property tax increase to help deal with the pressure put on the school district and its staff by the county’s extraordinary growth and high standard of living.

After running unopposed, Jamie Deonas gets a race in 2022.

Fernandina Beach’s odd Mayor rule stirs two City Commission campaigns” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — Fernandina Beach City Commissioners Bradley Bean and David Sturges are squaring off on the ballot for Mayor — an oddly young roster in a place where the median resident age is 55. Thus far, the campaign’s been one-sided as the young Bean pursues what amounts to a traditional local campaign, while Sturges hasn’t raised or spent any money toward his effort. One of Fernandina’s stranger governing rules is that the Mayor can only be someone already serving as an elected Commissioner, but whose seat is not up for election that same year. Current Mayor Mike Lednovich is running for re-election to his Commission seat, and therefore is ineligible to run again for Mayor. Both Bean’s and Commissioner Sturges’ terms end in 2024, so the door was open to run for Mayor if they so choose, which they did.

— TOP OPINION —

Democracy is not on the ballot” via Jonah Goldberg of The Dispatch — Here’s what I think will happen if Republicans gain control of Congress. Things will go very badly for Hunter Biden as the GOP dissects his life down to his DNA (and let’s face it, he is a sleazy, corrupt dude, even if he isn’t the boogeyman some want him to be). Alejandro Mayorkas, the DHS secretary, will quit rather than face impeachment, or maybe he’ll stick around and be impeached. Fauci will be put through the wringer. But we’ll also probably get some needed investigations into the origins of COVID-19 and the debacle in Afghanistan. And, yeah, Republicans will waste a lot of time talking about and maybe actually going through with what will likely be a stupid, pointless, and hypocritical effort to impeach Biden.

— OPINIONS —

How the right became the left and the left became the right” via Ross Douthat of The New York Times — One of the master keys to understanding our era is seeing all the ways in which conservatives and progressives have traded attitudes and impulses. The populist right’s attitude toward American institutions has the flavor of the 1970s, skeptical, pessimistic, and paranoid, while the mainstream, MSNBC-watching left has a strange new respect for the FBI and CIA. The online right likes transgression for its own sake, while cultural progressivism dabbles in censorship and worries that the First Amendment goes too far.

Why aren’t the Democrats trouncing these guys?” via David Brooks of The New York Times — After all the campaigning and the money and the shouting, the electoral balance is still on a razor’s edge. What accounts for this? It’s the underlying structure of society. Americans are sorting themselves out by education into two roughly equal camps. As people without a college degree have flocked to the GOP, people with one have flocked to the Democrats. Over the past few years, the Democrats have made heroic efforts to win back working-class voters and white as well as Black and Hispanic voters who have drifted rightward. It doesn’t seem to be working. America has riven itself into two different cultures. It’s very hard for a party based in one culture to reach out and win voters in the other culture — or even to understand what people in the other culture are thinking.

Rubio’s election-year retreat on gun safety” via the South Florida Sun-Sentinel editorial board — It would be unfair to say that Rubio never takes the right side of a controversial issue. Florida’s senior senator does on occasion. The trouble is, he doesn’t hold the high ground for long. Rubio was one of the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” who put together a remarkably good Senate immigration bill. Now Rubio opposes a significant gun reform he strongly supported in 2018 after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Then he supported raising the minimum age for buying shotguns and rifles to 21.

Latino voters won’t save the GOP” via David Byler of The Washington Post — Republicans can’t stop talking about their gains with Latino voters. In 2020, Trump improved on his 2016 margin by 17 percentage points among Hispanic voters, winning almost 40% of the vote. The jury is still out in 2022, but polls suggest that the GOP has retained these gains. Some Republicans believe that these improvements have staved off demographic doom, that Trump’s new Latino voters represent an infusion of life into the party, helping the GOP compete as the country grows browner and increasingly educated. Trump’s gains with Latino voters aren’t large enough to secure future victories.

What Democrats are doing just doesn’t work” via Bill Cotterell of the Tallahassee Democrat — In politics, futility isn’t funny. If election results this week turn out the way polls are indicating, in Florida and nationwide, the Democratic Party appears likely to become the next icon of spectacular failure. In this young century, the Florida Democratic Party has won seven statewide races, while losing 28. Even worse, three of those Democratic victories were U.S. Senate campaigns of former Sen. Bill Nelson, and two were races in which ex-President Obama carried the state. The only Democrats winning state offices were former Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried. And they both lost subsequent bids for Governor.

Florida headed for scary, uncharted territory” via Steve Bousquet of The Orlando Sentinel — If polls and prognosticators are accurate, and voter turnout trends don’t change dramatically, Florida will soon become “Alabama with palm trees.” It appears Republicans are headed for overwhelming victories Tuesday, while Democrats can expect all-time lows. No Democrat will hold statewide office, and Republicans may seal supermajorities in the Legislature (and retake both houses of Congress.) And an autocratic Governor will tighten his grip on the third-largest state. This shift will change how Florida is viewed — it will no longer be taken seriously in national politics except for the presence of Trump and the prospect of a DeSantis. Get ready for: expanded abortion restrictions, a slew of new Federalist Society judges, open carry, and suspension of dissenting elected officials.

Scary season isn’t over — until you vote” via the Orlando Sentinel editorial board — Over the past few years, two clear trends have emerged. First, young people aren’t voting. They just aren’t. NBC News, which is tracking early voting and vote-by-mail in all 50 states, suggests that Gen Z voters, aged 25 and younger, are too apathetic to drag themselves to the polls, or even order a mail ballot on the phones they clutch 24/7. Second, if the wrong people win Tuesday’s election, there’s a good chance that the next Election Day that rolls around will see far more barriers to the fundamental freedom of our democracy.

Jennifer Carroll: Vote ‘yes’ on Amendment 2 to abolish the CRC” via The Florida Times-Union — Florida has a Constitution Revision Commission that, instead of focusing on constitutional matters, proposes statutory language that deals with policy issues thereby creating changes normally within the purview of an elected legislative body. In effect, the normal functions of representative government are being bypassed and statutory policies and appropriations are being proposed by the CRC under the guise of constitutional where these mandates impact the people without their input. This is a major problem. It is not an elected body; therefore, the people have no say so and cannot hold the CRC accountable.

How the media trains journalists to lie” via Leighton Woodhouse of Tablet magazine — Before the internet, a politically unpopular story might trigger a flood of nasty letters to the editor, but the haters could be safely ignored. Now that it was the readers paying the rent, things were different. A revolt by your readers, if you were a newspaper publisher post-2016, was a direct threat to your bottom line. But there was a threat even more perilous than that: a revolt by all the young reporters you hired to cater to the millions of outraged new subscribers you had enlisted in the fight against MAGA authoritarianism. Those young reporters were true believers. So had all the app coders you had enticed away from their overpaid but unfulfilling Facebook jobs with the promise that here, you might take a pay cut but you could also change the world.

— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —

— ALOE —

Closest known black hole to Earth spotted by astronomers” via Marcia Dunn of The Associated Press — Astronomers have discovered the closest known black hole to Earth, just 1,600 light-years away. Scientists reported that this black hole is 10 times larger than the sun. And it’s three times closer than the previous record-holder. The black hole was initially found using the European Space Agency’s Gaia spacecraft. The researchers are uncertain how the system formed in the Milky Way.

This illustration depicts the closest black hole to Earth and its Sun-like companion star. Image via AP.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Happy birthday to the awesome Jen Meale Poggie, Richard Swartz, and Rafael Yaniz.

___

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

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