Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 5.31.24

Gun Rights

Good Thursday morning.

In non-Trump news:

Americans for Prosperity-Florida has released its 2024 Scorecard grading how closely Florida lawmakers hewed to the libertarian-conservative group’s agenda during the 2024 Legislative Session.

“Our score card is a useful tool for voters statewide, determining how well their elected officials represented them in office,” AFP-FL State Director Skylar Zander said in a news release. “It’s also a time for AFP-FL to highlight some incredible work accomplished by leaders who have stood for pro-growth and common-sense policies in the state Legislature, continuing to make Florida a free and thriving state.”

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Americans for Prosperity-Florida is passing out grades for lawmakers, a helpful tool for Florida voters.

Alongside the score card, AFP-FL announced a slew of superlatives for Republican lawmakers who supported pro-business legislation in Session.

Sens. Jay Collins of Tampa and Blaise Ingoglia of Spring Hill, along with Reps. Stan McClain of Ocala and Mike Giallombardo of Cape Coral were in the top category as “Legislative Champions,” with a score more lawmakers earning recognition in categories ranging from “Regulatory Freedom” to “Fiscal Responsibility.”

Individual shout-outs aside, the score card grades all lawmakers on how they voted on several AFP-FL priorities.

Notably, both Senate President Kathleen Passidomo and House Speaker Paul Renner earned a “B,” as did Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book — the highest score among all Democrats, and a full letter grade above Senate President-designate Ben Albritton. Book’s House counterpart, Rep. Fentrice Driskell, earned a “D.”

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Nemours Children’s Health is bringing on Katherin “Katie” Flury as its Director of External affairs.

In her new role, Flury will lead the Jacksonville-headquartered pediatric health system’s local and state government relations and community engagement efforts across Florida for the pediatric health system.

Flury comes to Nemours after eight years on the lobbying team at GrayRobinson, one of the top law and lobbying firms in Florida. During her time there, she gained extensive health care lobbying experience, representing major clients in the industry, such as the UF Shands Health System.

Nemours Children’s Health makes a big hire: Katherine “Katie” Flury is its new Director of External Affairs.

“We congratulate Katie on her new position with Nemours Children’s Health, where she will have the opportunity to further her tremendous passion for health care policy. She will be a superb addition to their team as their Director of External Affairs, Florida, and we wish her all the best,” said Dean Cannon, President/CEO of GrayRobinson and a former House Speaker.

Before joining GrayRobinson, Flury spent four years as the chief legislative aide for former state Representative and current state Sen. Jason Brodeur.

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When good things happen to good people: Congrats to Carol Dover, who added another accolade to her list on Thursday. The Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association chief became the Florida Tourism Hall of Fame’s newest inductee during VISIT FLORIDA’s Board Meeting, where she received the most nominations and earned unanimous support from the Board. A formal induction ceremony will be held in Tampa later this Summer.

Carol Dover is the newest Hall of Famer for Florida Tourism.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@GovLarryHogan: Regardless of the result, I urge all Americans to respect the verdict and the legal process. At this dangerously divided moment in our history, all leaders — regardless of party — must not pour fuel on the fire with more toxic partisanship. We must reaffirm what has made this nation great: the rule of law.

@AsaHutchingson: It is not easy to see a former President and the presumptive GOP nominee convicted of felony crimes, but the jury verdict should be respected. An appeal is in order but let’s not diminish the significance of this verdict.

@MarcoRubio: The verdict in New York is a complete travesty that makes a mockery of our system of justice A political show trial conducted by an openly pro-Biden judge whose daughter makes money off the case, a jury from the most liberal county in America, absurd and ridiculous charges and outrageous jury instructions that guaranteed guilty verdicts Biden and the Trump deranged left will stop at nothing to remain in power

@JaredEMoskowitz: A former President being convicted is nothing to be celebrated, but it is an affirmation that nobody is above the law. This verdict was reached by a jury of Trump’s peers, by citizens of the American justice system, not by a judge or by a political opponent.

@MarcACaputo: Another Trump milestone: first major party presidential candidate to be convicted of a felony The big question no one has an answer to: Will this damage Trump & cause him to sink in the polls below Prez Biden, whom the former Prez leads by an inside-the-error amount

@ForecasterEnten: After all the testimony in Trump’s hush money case, the effect on the public has been zero. Voters simply just don’t care that much. They are far more tuned into news about inflation, immigration, etc. than Trump’s trials. Unsurprisingly, Trump’s small lead over Biden is holding.

@TBonier: Across the country, GOP pollsters are scrambling to field a methodologically unsound survey, likely fielded over just one night, hoping to shape a media narrative claiming that Americans just don’t care about Trump’s conviction. I beg of the media — don’t fall for it.

@ReeseJGorman: WinRed, the Republican fundraising platform, has crashed following the Trump verdict, per GOP source

@MaryEllenKlas: Under Florida law, a convicted felon is not disqualified from voting during the pendency of appeal.

@StephenGutkowski: Under federal law, Trump’s felony convictions mean he can no longer possess guns.

@JimmyPatronis: Trump should be granted clemency immediately. This is outrageous.

Tweet, tweet:

@DougJBalloon: The real winner in the Trump guilty verdict? Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

@AndrewPollackFL: The greatest accomplishment of Donald Trump’s political run is the mass awakening to the corruption in the American government and media.

@Tim_Bays: But what effect will the Trump conviction have on the Summer box office

Tweet, tweet:

— DAYS UNTIL —

Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday begins — 1; the 2024 World Cup begins — 12; DreamWorks Land officially opens at Universal Orlando — 14; season two of ‘House of the Dragon’ returns to Max — 16; CNN Presidential Debate — 27; Tiana’s Bayou Adventure opens at Disney World — 28; ‘A Quiet Place: Day One’ premieres — 29; Freedom Month Sales Tax Holiday begins — 33; Universal Mega Movie Parade debuts — 34; Trump sentencing — 41; Republican National Convention begins — 44; the 2024 World Cup ends — 48; 2024 MLS All-Star Game — 53; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games on NBC/Peacock — 56; ‘Deadpool & Wolverine’ premieres — 57; Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday begins — 60; ‘Alien: Romulus’ premieres — 78; Florida Primary Election — 82; Democratic National Convention begins — 82; FBHA’s annual conference, BHCon, begins — 82; second Disaster Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday begins — 86; Georgia Tech to face Florida State in 2024 opener in Dublin — 86; Tool Time Sales Tax Holiday begins — 94; 2024 NFL season kicks off — 99; Packers will face Eagles in Brazil — 99; Vice Presidential Debate — 118; Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour stops in Miami — 141; 2024 Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 148; Florida TaxWatch’s 45th Annual Meeting — 157; 2024 Presidential Election — 158; Legislature’s 2025 Organizational Session — 172; Las Vegas Grand Prix — 172; ‘Mufasa: The Lion King’ premieres — 189; MLS Cup 2024 — 190; ‘Captain America: Brave New World’ premieres — 258; the 2025 Oscars — 276; Florida’s 2025 Legislative Session begins — 278; 2025 Session ends — 338; ‘Moana’ premieres — 388; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 419; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 419; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 526; ‘Avatar 3’ premieres — 568; ‘Avengers 5’ premieres — 704; Untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 721; Another untitled ‘Star Wars’ movie premieres — 932; ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,072; ‘Avatar 4’ premieres — 2,031; ‘Avatar 5’ premieres — 2,753.

— TOP STORY —

In case you were sleeping under a rock on Thursday — “Donald Trump guilty on all counts in hush-money case” via Jonah E. Bromwich and Ben Protess of The New York Times — Trump was convicted on Thursday of falsifying records to cover up a sex scandal that threatened to derail his 2016 presidential campaign, capping an extraordinary trial that tested the resilience of the American justice system and will reverberate into November’s election.

Trump was convicted on all 34 counts of falsifying business records by a jury of 12 New Yorkers, who deliberated over two days to reach a decision in a case rife with descriptions of secret deals, tabloid scandal, and an Oval Office pact with echoes of Watergate. The former President sat largely expressionless, a glum look on his face after the jury issued its verdict.

Guilty times 34.

Trump allies are already demanding retribution and calling on Republican prosecutors to go after Democrats. One of Trump’s close allies, the influential activist Charlie Kirk, wondered aloud on X how many Republican Attorneys General and district attorneys “have stones.” “We aren’t a serious political movement until we are ready to fight fire with fire,” Kirk wrote. “Indict the left or lose America.”

GOP elected officials too. Here’s Rep. Mike Collins of Georgia: “Time for Red State AGs and DAs to get busy.”

Alvin Bragg is declining again to comment on any potential prison sentence, saying that the Trump case is an active, ongoing matter. The lack of visible emotion and the legalistic language makes this a signature Bragg news conference — but we can see him holding back emotion in the room.

“I did my job,” he says. “Our job is to follow the facts without fear or favor, and that’s what we did here.” He takes a moment. “I did my job, we did our jobs.” He says that there are many voices out there, “but the only voice that matters is the voice of the jury, and the jury has spoken.”

—“If Trump’s conviction lands him in prison, the Secret Service goes, too” via William K. Rashbaum of The New York Times

A SHAM and a HOAX’: Trump’s Florida campaign chief condemns NY verdict” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — The man in charge of Trump’s campaign operation in Florida is condemning Trump’s guilty verdict on 34 counts, and suggesting that the ultimate verdict will be in November. “This case and the trial itself has always been a rigged political operation designed to interfere in the election on behalf of Crooked Joe Biden’s campaign. Tried in the media capital of the world by elected Democrats, with a Democrat judge and an overwhelming Democrat jury pool, this case was and remains a SHAM and a HOAX,” Brian Hughes said. As expected, this trial court ruling won’t be the end, Hughes said. “President Trump will appeal the rigged verdict quickly and anticipate an immediate stay of any penalties or sanctions of the sentence pending the outcome of President Trump’s appeal.”

—“Trump campaign immediately fundraises: ‘I’m a political prisoner!’” via Jessica Piper of POLITICO

—“Trump is still a threat to democracy, Joe Biden’s campaign says” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics

Trump could still vote for himself after New York conviction if he’s not in prison on Election Day” via Nicholas Riccardi of The Associated Press — Because Florida defers to other states’ disenfranchisement rules for residents convicted of out-of-state felonies. In Trump’s case, New York law only removes the right to vote for people convicted of felonies when they’re incarcerated. Once they’re out of prison, their rights are automatically restored, even if they’re on parole, per a 2021 law passed by the state’s Democratic legislature. “If a Floridian’s voting rights are restored in the state of conviction, they are restored under Florida law,” Blair Bowie of the Campaign Legal Center wrote in a post, noting that people without Trump’s legal resources are often confused by Florida’s complex rules. So as long as Trump isn’t sent to prison, he can vote for himself in Florida in November’s election.

—”Lincoln Project celebrates felony conviction of Trump” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

To watch the ad, please click the image below:

—“Hollywood reacts to Trump’s guilty verdict in hush money case” via Carly Thomas of The Hollywood Reporter

—”Ron DeSantis once joked about Trump trial. Now he’s condemning guilty verdict” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Happening today — Trump will deliver remarks in New York City: 11 a.m. EDT, Trump Tower, 725 5th Avenue, New York.

— 2024 — FLORIDA —

After Florida left voting system, tips about illegal voters plummeted” via Lawrence Mower and Ivy Nyayieka of the Tampa Bay Times — When DeSantis opted last year to remove Florida from a multistate voter data-sharing agreement, advocates and elections officials feared it would become harder to detect illegal voting. New data shows they might be right. DeSantis’ voter fraud unit last year received 93% fewer referrals from other states about double-voters than it did the year before. The voter fraud unit received 72 tips from other states about people suspected of casting ballots in Florida and another state in the same election, a third-degree felony under Florida law.

Florida leaves the multi-state voting system, while reports of illegal voting take a nose-dive.

Majority of Asian voters oppose Florida’s six-week abortion ban, survey says” via Gabrielle Russon of Florida Politics — About 61% of Florida Asian and Pacific Islander registered voters opposed the state’s new six-week abortion ban. About 29% of those surveyed said they support the state’s abortion ban. Nearly 1 in 4 said abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, while 66% said abortion should be legal in all or most cases, according to the Florida Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders for Progress (FLAAPP)-commissioned survey. “What this survey makes clear is that reproductive freedom in our health care decisions is a non-negotiable issue for AAPI Floridians,” said May Thach, Senior Florida Organizing Manager for the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, a progressive community organizing and policy advocacy group.

— 2024 — DOWN-BALLOT —

Tom Leek ad says ‘billboard lawyers’ are behind attacks on him; John Morgan disputes that” via Mark Harper of the Daytona Beach News-Journal — Orlando lawyer Morgan ― who this week agreed to publicly support an amendment legalizing recreational marijuana in Florida and again hinted at a possible run for Governor ― says he is also now interested in a Senate race involving the powerful House Appropriations Chair Leek. Morgan had attacked Leek, an Ormond Beach Republican, in January, naming him and DeSantis as culprits in the Florida homeowners’ insurance crisis. Then this week, Friends of Tom Leek, a political committee headed by Leek, posted an ad that starts with a voice-over: “Who’s behind the false attacks on Tom Leek? Democrat lovin,’ personal injury billboard lawyers.”

Why does John Morgan have a beef with Tom Leek?

Jimmy Patronis endorses Greg Folley for HD 81 — Chief Financial Officer Patronis is endorsing Folley in the Republican Primary for House District 81. “Greg Folley has proven himself to have great ambition matched with the experience and skill to be able to be a vital part of Florida’s Legislature,” Patronis said in a news release. “He is a successful businessman with knowledge on how to build and establish businesses here in Florida’s economy. That is why I am endorsing him for Florida House of Representatives, District 81. He will be a great advocate for the residents in his district. I look forward to working with him in the Legislature.” Folley is running to succeed term-limited Rep. Bob Rommel. He faces Gladyvette Benarroch in the August Primary Election.

— 2024 — PRESIDENTIAL —

Guilty verdict fuels Trump’s campaign: ‘Our whole country is being rigged’” via Natalie Allison of POLITICO — That act of campaigning on his criminal conviction began the moment Trump exited the courtroom in Manhattan, turning to the scrum of reporters and speaking of the verdict in terms of a larger war he is engaged in. “I’m a very innocent man, and it’s OK; I’m fighting for our country. I’m fighting for our constitution. Our whole country is being rigged now,” Trump said after stepping out of the courtroom, calling the proceedings a “rigged, disgraceful trial.” “We’ll fight to the end and we’ll win,” he continued. “Because our country has gone to hell. We don’t have the same country anymore.” Depending on his sentence, which has yet to be determined, a conviction may change little about Trump’s existing, grievance-filled campaign strategy.

Some celebrate, while others decry the verdict.

RNC holds post-verdict call with state GOP Chairsvia Matt Dixon of NBC News — Republican National Committee Political Director James Blair had a call with all 50 GOP State Chairs today after the verdict, according to two sources who were on the call. The sources said Blair basically gave them their marching orders as far as post-verdict talking points and messaging: This is unjust, this will be good for us, we will win. “James Blair just did a call with every state Chairman,” one of the sources said. “There is a clear message [the RNC] wants us to convey: It is an unjust witch hunt. We will appeal, and we will win the appeal. Guys, we just elected the next President of the United States.”

Marco Rubio drives Trump fundraising after trial ‘travesty’” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — “Don’t just get angry about this travesty, get even,” urged Rubio from his account on X. The post linked to a fundraising page for Trump, with the former President turned “political prisoners” pumping his fist and a “Never Surrender” graphic. Just minutes before, Rubio crowed about the fundraising in the wake of Trump’s 34-count verdict. “The good news is Americans have sent Trump over $50 million since this travesty and his deranged enemies just elected Trump for President again!” Rubio, meanwhile, has been coy when asked if he’d be Trump’s running mate, even as he attempts to demonstrate his utility to the first former President to be convicted of any felony counts. “I’ll do whatever the campaign asks me to do,” the Senator said on Meet the Press earlier this month, adding that speculation would be “presumptuous” given those conversations haven’t happened yet.

The Trump trial, the ticking clock, and Biden’s rush to recover” via Byron York of the Washington Examiner — It would be hard to find anyone, Democrat or Republican, who would honestly say that Biden’s re-election campaign is well-run. But does that explain some of the unusual developments we’ve seen from the campaign lately? The idea was, apparently, for the President to discuss the trial after the verdict. But the campaign couldn’t wait. It sent out a notice that Biden representatives and supporters would make a statement outside the courthouse when closing arguments were underway. Wouldn’t it have been better for the President to remain quiet while the trial was underway and then, if Trump were convicted, make a statement affirming the importance of the rule of law, done in a more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger voice (even if he was jumping up and down in celebration inside)? Instead, Biden jumped the gun, not even waiting for jury deliberations, much less a verdict.

Big stars come out for Biden — but much of Hollywood wrestles with 2024 endorsements in a polarized world” via Priscilla Alvarez and Elizabeth Wagmeister of CNN — The Biden campaign is trotting out big names to deliver their message to voters, but leading up to the 2024 Election, many in Hollywood are wary of jumping into the fray amid a hyper-divisive political landscape. CNN spoke with a dozen publicists, agents and political strategists who are advising celebrities this upcoming election cycle. All of these individuals described the high risk involved for public figures to make an endorsement in today’s polarized world, explaining that many celebrities might instead align themselves with specific issues rather than a candidate this year. More endorsements are expected in the months to come and will kick into high gear between the Democratic National Convention in August and Election Day, multiple sources told CNN. In the meantime, Biden campaign officials are in discussions behind the scenes to prepare for those rollouts, stressing that they carry more influence closer to Election Day.

GOP megadonor Miriam Adelson to fund colossal super PAC for Trump” via Alex Isenstadt of POLITICO — Republican megadonor and casino billionaire Adelson plans to help bankroll a massive super PAC for Trump as he seeks to close his financial gap with Biden. Adelson is planning to play a major role in funding Preserve America, a pro-Trump super PAC founded during the former President’s 2020 re-election campaign. The group is now being reconstituted for the purpose of helping Trump’s 2024 bid, according to a person with direct knowledge of her plans who was granted anonymity to speak freely.

— STATEWIDE —

WhoaDeSantis moving toward vetoing bill that would regulate sale of cannabis products in Florida” via Jim DeFede of CBS News — At the same time DeSantis has come out against a constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana in Florida, he is likely to throw an unexpected lifeline to the hemp industry by vetoing a bill that would regulate and limit the sale of cannabis products such as Delta 9. If signed into law, Senate Bill 1698 would restrict the sale of THC products, such as Delta 9. By vetoing the bill, and thereby keeping the hemp industry alive in Florida, DeSantis would be adopting a strategy akin to “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” According to those familiar with his thinking, DeSantis is counting on the hemp industry to finance the campaign against Amendment 3, which would legalize recreational marijuana for anyone 21 and older. “It’s been flying under the radar, but he’s going to veto,” said one official, who, like others interviewed for this story, requested that their name not be used for fear of angering the Governor. “The marijuana people are furious, and they are scrambling.”

Ron DeSantis could use his red veto pen on hemp regulation.

DeSantis signs bill increasing time parents have to voluntarily surrender their infants” via Michael Costeines of Florida’s Voice — DeSantis signed a bill Wednesday that would increase the maximum age of an infant that can be voluntarily surrendered by his or her parents. Among its provisions, the law will allow infants to be surrendered to hospitals, fire stations, and emergency medical stations for up to 30 days. Past law set the time range at seven days. Reps. Jennifer Canady and Mike Beltran filed the legislation, HB 775. It was spearheaded in the Senate by Sen. Clay Yarborough. The bill is an expansion of current Florida law, known as the “Safe Haven Law,” which requires specific surrender to the emergency room.

Woman who traveled to Texas with DeSantis’ State Guard says she was sexually harassed” via Ana Ceballos and Lawrence Mower of the Miami Herald — The leader of a small unit sent to the Texas-Mexico border by DeSantis’ Florida State Guard repeatedly made unwanted sexual advances toward a woman he supervised, according to the woman’s attorney, who says the organization responded to complaints by retaliating against the victim and a witness who reported the behavior. Michael DiGiacomo, a high-ranking member in the State Guard, is accused of making crude remarks about the woman’s genitalia and body and uttering other demeaning comments in front of other State Guard members. “Daddy gets what daddy wants,” DiGiacomo told the woman in the presence of another State Guard member during the ride to Texas. Later, on a call played on a vehicle’s Bluetooth, he allegedly asked her, “Are you going to make daddy a sandwich?” while another State Guard member laughed in the background.

Florida’s Citizens Property Insurance sees large customer decrease” via James Tutten of WFTV — Citizens Property Insurance recorded a nearly 13,000 customer decrease last week. It comes after three private insurers assumed some of the corporation’s policies. Citizens became Florida’s largest carrier in recent years as private companies dropped policies and raised rates. The change comes as several homeowners insurance companies are reducing rates in Florida. The state’s Office of Insurance Regulation reports that 19 insurance companies are seeking a rate decrease or no increase this year. However, experts say this does not mean you may pay less because inflation can add 3% to 8% percent to your premium.

Disaster preparedness sales tax holiday starts Saturday” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — A sales tax holiday for disaster preparedness items, such as generators, batteries and tarps, starts on Saturday and runs for two weeks. Officials with the Florida Retail Federation (FRF) and local Tallahassee politicians — Sen. Corey Simon, a Republican, and Rep. Allison Tant, a Democrat — held a news conference to raise awareness. “We know it’s critical to get our supplies ready, to get our plan ready before the storm,” Tant said. The start of the sales tax holiday coincides with the start of hurricane season, which lasts until Nov. 30. But the Apalachee Ridge Estates neighborhood, where the event was held, knows all too well the need to be prepared for dangerous storms.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Supreme Court clears way for NRA to pursue First Amendment challenge” via Abby VanSickle of The New York Times — The Supreme Court sided with the National Rifle Association on Thursday, finding that the group could pursue a First Amendment claim against a New York state official who had encouraged companies to stop doing business with it after the 2018 school shooting in Parkland. The dispute centers on whether Maria T. Vullo, who was a superintendent of the New York Department of Financial Services, had infringed on the free speech rights of the NRA. After a young man killed 17 people in a shooting at a school in Parkland, Vullo told insurance companies and banks that they should consider whether to provide services to the group. Although Vullo was “free to criticize the NRA and pursue the conceded violations of New York insurance law,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote, she was not allowed to “wield her power” to “threaten enforcement actions” against companies regulated by her department in a way that would “punish or suppress the NRA’s gun-promotion advocacy.”

The Supreme Court opens the door for a 1A suit from the NRA.

Rubio: Defund U.N. human rights office with no ‘credibility’” via Owen Girard of Florida’s Voice — Rubio called for a controversial special adviser office with the United Nations to be defunded, arguing that it was pushed for by Chinese propaganda. The office of concern focused on the negative impacts of unilateral coercive measures pushed against countries with human rights violations. “This absurd narrative from a so-called ‘special U.N. adviser’ is dangerous Chinese Communist Party propaganda & is further evidence the U.N. has lost any credibility on human rights,” Rubio said. “This office should be defunded & taxpayer $ shouldn’t support any attempt to cover up a genocide,” he added. Professor Alena Douhan of Belarus holds the position of special rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

Why mail ballot requests have dropped off a cliff in Miami-Dade (and why it matters)” via Max Greenwood of the Miami Herald — A recent change in state law has led to a drastic drop in the number of Miami-Dade voters requesting mail-in ballots, leading county officials and political organizations to scramble to try and make up the difference. As of Tuesday, roughly 194,000 voters in Miami-Dade County had requested vote-by-mail ballots, Supervisor of Elections Christina White told the Miami Herald. Compare that to 2022, when nearly 440,000 voters were registered to receive mail ballots. While White’s office is trying to remind voters interested in casting their ballots by mail to put in their requests sooner rather than later, she said the decrease has made it difficult to plan for this year’s elections.

Plummeting mail-in ballot requests leave county officials and political organizations scrambling. Image via AP.

Internal poll shows Daniella Levine Cava with dominant lead in Miami-Dade Mayor’s race” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Miami-Dade voters like Mayor Levine Cava more than any other popular candidate on the 2024 ballot, and an overwhelming share of them will vote for her re-election, new polling from her campaign suggests. A survey this month by Levine Cava’s senior campaign adviser, Christian Ulvert, shows her with a 42-percentage-point lead over her closest competitor in the race, Miami Lakes Mayor Manny Cid. That finding conflicts with the results of a poll Cid’s campaign also conducted this month. Fifty-three percent of respondents to Ulvert’s poll say they’re voting for Levine Cava, a Democrat and Miami-Dade’s first woman and Jewish Mayor. Eleven percent support Cid, while 10% back social media influencer Alex Otaola and 2% prefer ex-Surfside Mayor Shlomo Danzinger — all Republicans.

Internal poll shows Democratic candidates leading in 3 key Miami-Dade races” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — The offices of Miami-Dade Clerk, Supervisor of Elections, and Tax Collector are up for grabs in November, and more county voters are lining up behind Democratic candidates than their GOP counterparts, new polling shows. A survey this month by political consultant Christian Ulvert shows the three candidates he’s working for in each race are leading all opponents in their respective races, despite the involvement of Trump and DeSantis. Democrats hold a 6.5-point lead over Republicans in the county; however, he modeled the poll with +5 Democratic voter participation to reflect “turnout trends in presidential election cycles.” That augmentation could be negated — or doubled — by the poll’s 4.8-percentage-points margin of error.

James Reyes leads Sheriff’s race, Trump endorsement not enough to sway GOP Primary” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Democratic Public Safety Chief Reyes is the most popular of 17 candidates running for Miami-Dade Sheriff, according to polling from his campaign that shows his Trump-endorsed opponent isn’t likely to win her Primary. A survey this month by Reyes’ senior campaign adviser Ulvert found that 38.5% of likely voters in the county plan to cast ballots for him. Another 29.5% say they’re backing Assistant Miami-Dade Police Director Rosie Cordero-Stutz, who received a Trump nod last month. The problem for Cordero-Stutz, Ulvert found, is that she doesn’t appear to have the support to emerge victorious from the Republican Primary. Most decided GOP voters prefer Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Joe Sanchez, who scored similarly in a theoretical head-to-head matchup against Reyes in polling Ulvert conducted in March.

Court says lawsuit against former Miami City Attorney Victoria Méndez can move forward” via Tess Riski of the Miami Herald — A Florida appeals court said a lawsuit accusing former Miami City Attorney Méndez of conspiring with her husband to defraud a Little Havana homeowner out of his home can move forward. On Wednesday, a panel of judges from Florida’s 3rd District Court of Appeal denied Méndez’s motion to dismiss the complaint filed against her in 2023 by Jose Alvarez, a Sumter County resident. The lawsuit also names Méndez’s husband and his company, Express Homes, as well as the city of Miami, as defendants in the alleged house-flipping scheme. Méndez had argued that, as the city attorney, she was entitled to “sovereign immunity,” which generally protects government entities from lawsuits. But the appeals court on Wednesday said Alvarez’s complaint “contains sufficient allegations to survive a motion to dismiss” on those grounds, effectively moving the lawsuit one step closer to a potential trial.

The Parkland tragedy lives on in court as building demolition approaches” via Rafael Olmeda of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — One last lawsuit. At least for now. The families of the slain and injured at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have waited six years to close out all the unfinished business that came after a gunman turned the hallways of the freshman building into his personal killing field. The last lawsuit stemming from the 2018 mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas has no scheduled start date. There are 52 plaintiffs, representing the families of the 17 students and staff who were killed, the 17 injured, and 18 families of students who were terrorized and psychologically traumatized but not physically wounded.

Ethics watchdog: Fort Lauderdale’s top boss did not live in city as required by charter” via Susannah Bryan of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Greg Chavarria stunned the Fort Lauderdale Commission when he announced plans to resign from his $291,000-a-year job as City Manager on June 1 for personal reasons. The more stunning news came on Thursday, two days before Chavarria’s official exit when the Broward County Inspector General released a report saying Chavarria did not live in Fort Lauderdale for the first 14 months of his tenure as required by the city charter. Investigators used SunPass records to substantiate an allegation that Chavarria did not live in Fort Lauderdale when he took over as City Manager, the report says. Chavarria did not live within city limits until September 2023, 14 months after taking the job. The Inspector General accused Chavarria of engaging in criminal misconduct when he changed his address with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to that of a La Cancha condo unit that was not his legal residence.

Greg Chavarria’s resignation sent shock waves through Fort Lauderdale.

Fort Lauderdale tunnel to fully reopen Friday after nearly three years of construction” via Raisa Habersham of the Miami Herald — Three years after upgrades began, the Henry E. Kinney Tunnel in Fort Lauderdale will reopen all four lanes of traffic on Friday, Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) officials confirmed. “Our crews are working diligently to complete the project,” FDOT representative Grace Ducanis told the Miami Herald in an email. “As tunnel construction is nearing completion, much of the work has been ‘out of sight’ from the public.” The project is anticipated to be completed in late Summer, she said. The $28.4 million tunnel upgrades began in Summer 2021 and were expected to be complete late last year, but weather delays and supply shortages pushed back the timeline.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

Candidates accuse Glen Gilzean’s Office of ‘radio silence’ on petitions” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — Several candidates say the Orange County Elections Office run by Interim Supervisor Gilzean kept them in the dark about petitions that would allow them to qualify to run without paying a filing fee. The candidates say the office didn’t inform them how many of their signatures were valid until well past the submission deadline. A candidate can file for free using a petition or pay a fee that can run into the thousands of dollars. The Elections Office is required to certify the signatures as valid. Their experiences have raised concerns about Gilzean, appointed by DeSantis in March after longtime supervisor Bill Cowles retired.

Glen Gilzean is less than responsive, candidates say.

—“Orange County Dems raise more than $100K in a single night” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

Deposition alleges withholding of public records in lawsuit involving School Board members” via Finch Walker and Dave Berman of Florida Today — More than a year ago, Brevard School Board member Jennifer Jenkins launched a lawsuit against then-School Board Chair Matt Susin and the School Board. The suit accused Susin of illegally withholding public records about a redistricting effort that pushed her out of her district — thus making her unable to seek re-election this year in District 3. Fourteen months into the suit, a former staffer of a County Commissioner alleged during a deposition that Susin and Brevard County Commissioner John Tobia, who helped provide funds to carry out the redistricting, withheld records before responding to the records requests that Jenkins filed last June and August ― which Susin and Tobia deny.

Sheriff’s Office: Second Orange deputy arrested, accused of falsifying timesheets” via Cristóbal Reyes of the Orlando Sentinel — A longtime Orange County deputy sheriff was arrested after he was accused of falsifying his timesheets, the second charged with that crime in two weeks. Sgt. Jeffrey Bogen is the latest of half a dozen among the Sheriff’s Office’s ranks to face criminal charges in 2024. Bogen, hired in October 2001, faces a charge of grand theft of at least $10,000 in a scheme to rip off taxpayer dollars for hours he didn’t work, the Sheriff’s Office announced. Records detailing accusations against Bogen were not immediately available, but his arrest follows that of Cpl. Oxilise Jeannot on May 16.

— LOCAL: TB —

Complaints about law enforcement motivate candidate for Polk County Sheriff” via Gary White of The Lakeland Ledger — A Frostproof man has filed to challenge Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, citing what he says are examples of mistreatment by law enforcement as his motivation. Theodore “Pink Tie” Murray filed to run in the November election as a nonpartisan candidate against Judd, a Republican. Judd, seeking a sixth four-year term, did not face any opponent in the past two elections. Murray, 46, ran for the U.S. House in District 17 in the past two elections, receiving less than 2% of the vote each time. In discussing his reasons for running, Murray described three episodes — two from Polk County — in which he claims law enforcement either wrongly arrested him or failed to properly investigate crimes of which he was a victim.

Grady Judd draws a challenge in his bid for a sixth term.

— LOCAL: N. FL —

‘Total garbage’: Council member not swayed by poll showing broad support for city, Jags community benefits stadium agreement” via Anne Maxwell of News4Jax — On Thursday, the last community meeting where people can learn more about the proposal to spend hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on a new Jaguars stadium and ask questions was held at Westside High School. Adjacent to the proposal is a $300 million Community Benefits Agreement that would be split between the team and the city for community development in areas such as housing, homelessness and parks. However, that proposal has been controversial, even though a recent UNF poll found broad public support for it. One vocal critic of the Community Benefits Agreement, Jacksonville Council member Rory Diamond, said the poll isn’t changing his mind.

Rory Diamond is skeptical of polls saying the new Jaguars’ stadium plan is popular in Jacksonville.

New draft agreements show closer look at non-relocation clauses, cost of stadium renovations” via David Bauerlein and Hanna Holthaus of The Jacksonville Florida Times-Union — A draft non-relocation agreement would require the Jaguars to play their home games in Jacksonville for the full-length of a new 30-year lease, and if the team left town before then, it would pay a sliding amount to the city in financial damages. Those damages would total several hundred million dollars for most of the 30-year period if the Jaguars broke away from Jacksonville. The Jaguars would have to pay an amount equal to 100% of taxpayer spending on the stadium if the team left in the first 14 years of the lease and starting in the 15th year, the amount would drop by 6.25% each year.

The ‘rat’s’ take on what we should do with Railroad Square” via Terry Galloway of the Tallahassee Democrat — Parts of Railroad Square will be sold if the city does not step in. We all know what that means — ever more cheap, unneeded student housing. It makes better economic and common sense for an arts district to be owned by all of us (after all, we are the city) rather than just one family. And the family is offering the city the option to buy that property. All of it. For all of us to own. Why ever would the city say “no” to that. “No” to a property that is unique not only for being beautifully situated between our two major universities but for being on the south side of the train tracks, tracks that traditionally divided our city along racial lines?

— LOCAL: SW. FL —

Sarasota backs down after trying to stop New College of Florida’s tree removal” via Mark J. Rochester of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — New College of Florida doesn’t need permission from the city of Sarasota to remove trees for its new athletics facilities, city officials announced. In a letter to college President Richard Corcoran, city officials admitted they didn’t have the authority to restrict construction activities at the school. The city had posted a stop order at New College’s Uplands property — which the college initially did not comply with. Attorneys for both New College and the City of Sarasota met to discuss interpretations of legislation that dictate who has authority over tree removal on the property.

Sarasota steps back from compelling New College of Florida to stop removing trees.

Fred Thomas will long be remembered as Immokalee’s ‘Mayor’” via Laura Layden of the Naples Daily News — Although Immokalee isn’t a city, Thomas became its “Mayor.” He worked for the betterment of its residents and businesses for decades, earning him the unofficial title of its leader. For that, he’ll long be remembered. Thomas, 84, died on May 22. In 1986, he moved from Tampa to Immokalee — an unincorporated area of Collier County. He relocated to head up the Collier County Housing Authority, leaving behind a job as an assistant director at a similar, but less challenging agency. The Collier County Housing Authority, created by the state Legislature in 1966, oversees public housing developments geared toward farmworkers, in Immokalee.

— TOP OPINION —

Florida might not care, but Trump’s ‘witch hunt’ claim falls flat after guilty verdict” via the Miami Herald editorial board — Trump is now a convicted felon. For years, Trump and his allies have claimed that any effort to hold him legally accountable for his actions equated to a “witch hunt.” An important premise of this nation’s justice system is that defendants are presumed innocent until found guilty — and Americans have the constitutional right to an impartial jury and legal defense. Before their selection, jurors in Trump’s case were asked about their opinions on Trump, their social media history and their backgrounds. Several potential jurors were dismissed because of their impartiality toward the former President. Unless his lawyers can prove misconduct by any jurors or other issues in the trial, Trump had a fair shake. Where’s the witch hunt now?

— OPINIONS —

Does ‘guilty’ verdict change the race?” via Byron York of the Washington Examiner — The bigger question is what will happen in the minds of the voters who might be inclined to vote for him but are disturbed by the conviction. Nearly all Republicans believe Trump was unfairly pursued and unfairly prosecuted. They have said for a long time that it doesn’t matter what the verdict is — they will still support Trump. They put the Manhattan prosecution in the long line of what they see as unfair treatment of Trump, beginning with the Russia investigation. For them, this really isn’t anything new, and it certainly won’t change their determination to vote for Trump. Indeed, it might energize them to support Trump even more fervently. But a number of polls have shown that a small number of potential numbers — it’s not clear how many — say they would not vote for Trump if he were a convicted felon. Will they carry through on that now?

Trump lost on 34 felony counts — and a lot more” via Dana Milbank of The Washington Post — It’s not as if Trump didn’t have an inkling that this would happen. Given the huge volume of evidence in the case, an acquittal seemed out of the question. And though a hung jury was a real possibility, the Trump campaign on Wednesday blasted out a news release with a “CONFIDENTIAL MEMORANDUM” from its pollsters saying, “a conviction will not significantly change the advantage President Trump currently enjoys over President Biden in our target states, nor will an acquittal increase his lead.” They may not be wrong about that. Polls and focus groups showed that few Americans paid attention to the trial and that few people said the verdict was likely to change their votes one way or the other. But there’s no telling how the verdict will alter the presidential race, for there has never before been a convicted felon at the top of a major party’s ticket.

Pharmacy benefits are critical for Florida businesses” via Rick Van Warner of Florida’s Voice — As someone deeply passionate about the success of Florida hospitality businesses and the well-being of their employees, I’ve witnessed firsthand the critical role that comprehensive health care benefits play in ensuring individual well-being and organizational success. Given the skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs nationwide, it’s abundantly clear that pharmacy benefit companies are a vital resource in helping employees and families more affordably access the medications they desperately need. Pharmacy benefit companies consistently help provide plan sponsors and their employees with critical savings and flexibility to better access essential prescriptions.

— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —

— WEEKEND TV —

ABC Action News Full Circle with Paul LaGrone on Channel 10 WFTS: Auto insurance expert Mike Johnson, Tallahassee reporter Forrest Saunders and ABCNews Political Director Rick Klein.

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

In Focus with Allison Walker on Bay News 9/CF 13: Rep. Danny Perez, the incoming Florida House Speaker on his day-to-day as he gets ready to take the leadership gavel.

Political Connections on Bay News 9 in Tampa/St. Pete and Political Connections on CF 13 in Orlando: The weekly Sunday show is launching as a joint weeknight show airing Monday through Friday at 7 p.m.

The Usual Suspects on WCTV-Tallahassee/Thomasville (CBS) and WJHG-Panama City (NBC): Pollster Steve Vancore speaks with FEA President Andrew Spar.

This Week in Jacksonville with Kent Justice on Channel 4 WJXT: Tom Wills, News4Jax anchor since 1975, is retiring after 49 years at the station and 55 years at the company.

— ALOE —

Registration is open for the 2024 Florida Python Challenge” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Florida’s yearly competition to help rid the Everglades of invasive Burmese pythons is here again, and registration for the 10-day event is now open. More than $25,000 in prizes are at stake. Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez announced at a news conference in Homestead that the state is now accepting registrants for the 2024 Florida Python Challenge. The event runs Aug. 9-18. Joining her were Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) Executive Director Roger Young and Ron Bergeron, who serves on the South Florida Water Management District Board.

It’s python season again.

The only story that matters — “Chris Hemsworth in talks to lead G.I. Joe-Transformers crossover movie for Paramount and Hasbro” via Aaron Couch of The Hollywood Reporter — Hemsworth is doubling down on Transformers. The actor is in talks to lead an untitled crossover film for Paramount and Hasbro Entertainment that unites the Transformers and G.I. Joe franchises. This marks a second Transformers project for Hemsworth, who voice stars in the upcoming Transformers One animated movie, which arrives in theaters Sept. 20. The proposed film follows the events of last year’s Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, which ended with Anthony Ramos’ Noah Diaz getting a job offer from the Joes. Director Steven Caple Jr. put the ending in the script at the encouragement of producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura, with the filmmakers knowing it could take some maneuvering to make it happen.

Disney shows fresh looks at Tiana’s Bayou Adventure ride” via DeWayne Bevil of the Orlando Sentinel — Disney is providing more peeks — inside and outside, virtually and literally — of Tiana’s Bayou Adventure, the “Princess and the Frog”-themed ride opening at Magic Kingdom next month. Scenes from inside the new attraction, a replacement for Splash Mountain, can be seen in the latest installment of “We Call It Imagineering,” a video series on YouTube. A day after the episode’s debut, construction walls were removed from around the Tiana ride. It’s an obvious milestone to parkgoers, giving improved visual access to the attraction, which has been given a makeover since Splash Mountain permanently closed in January 2023. Tiana’s Bayou Adventure opens to the public on June 28. In the Imagineering video, viewers can see glimpses of the attraction queue and assorted animatronics, including one of Tiana as passengers go up a lift hill in the log ride. There are other hints of murals and artwork from Tiana’s Foods, the business started by the hero in the attraction’s storyline, which is set in the year after the events of the 2009 “Frog” film.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Celebrating today are Keith Fernandez and Elizabeth Dos Santos. Happy early birthday to the great Andrea Gainey.

___

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

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