Politics

Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 7.12.22

Good Tuesday morning.

Capital City Consulting and Prodigy Public Affairs of Miami are merging, with the latter rebranding as Capital City Consulting Miami.

The merger will see Prodigy owners Rodney Barreto and Brian May become new partners at CCC, providing local government, public affairs, and business-to-business consulting services to clients in South Florida as they have done together for the past 25 years while helping CCC further its statewide presence.

“For nearly two decades, Capital City Consulting has been committed to delivering winning results for our clients at the state level and in select local markets, and we are excited to add a strong and established Miami presence,” said Nick Iarossi, co-founder of CCC.

The powerhouse team at the newly rebranded Capital City Consulting Miami.

“With this merger, we will add the biggest local market in the state to our portfolio; and with Brian, one of Florida’s top local government consultants, and Rodney’s reputation and experience as a business leader, there is no doubt they will take our service offering to a new level.”

In addition to Barreto and May, CCC Miami’s team will include Tim Gomez and Felipe Angulo as directors. Gomez and Angulo previously served roles with Miami-Dade County, both for the County Commission and the Mayor’s office.

“The two firms fit very well together,” May said. “The Capital City Consulting team has had tremendous success for their clients at the state level, and we look forward to continuing that same success in Miami as Capital City partners. We believe we can help Capital City deliver results for many of their statewide clients in the Miami market, as well as expand to other major markets in Florida.”

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This quote is a century old, but it’s as accurate today as it ever was: “When a dog bites a man, that is not news, because it happens so often. But if a man bites a dog, that is news.”

It may be trite, but so are many of the endorsement emails that campaigns have been blasting out in the lead-up to the Primary.

Does it matter if U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is endorsing Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis? Or if Sen. Lauren Book endorses Sen. Janet Cruz?

Call us when the man bites back.

It might if either were facing a challenger in August. But they aren’t. It would matter if Rubio and Patronis weren’t both Republicans, or if Book and Cruz weren’t both Democrats. But they are.

The same goes for Charlie Crist endorsing Joy Goff-Marcil. It would barely matter the other way around, but it would still be a snoozer of a news release.

But if, in some strange turn of events, Rubio endorsed Adam Hattersley … Well, that’s what we in the industry call news.

So, to all the campaign comms directors, you don’t need to send an email with an all-caps subject line every time a dog bites. It’s going straight into the trash folder.

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Primaries are six weeks away, and ad buy alerts pop up left and right. In short, your TV — or YouTube playlist and Facebook feed — is about to be inundated with 30-second campaign spots from dozens of campaigns and political committees.

The most active markets, of course, will be those with high-profile Primary races. For congressional races, the hot zone is the I-4 corridor.

This week, Laurel Lee is debuting her first ad In Florida’s 15th Congressional District, where she faces Rep. Jackie Toledo, Sen. Kelli Stargel, and two others in the Republican Primary for the Tampa Bay-area seat.

The video pitches her as the only candidate “trusted by Gov. (Ron) DeSantis to secure our elections” — not a big stretch considering she served as Secretary of State for the past three years. It also highlights her career as a prosecutor and judge and claims she will “battle (Joe) Biden’s leftist agenda, build (Donald) Trump’s border wall, and defend gun rights.”

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

A little east, in Florida’s 7th Congressional District, one of the Republicans vying to succeed Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy is hitting the airwaves for the first time. According to AdImpact, Rusty Roberts anted up $61,000 to run ads on Fox News starting Tuesday and running through Aug. 28. Meanwhile, Primary rival Cory Mills topped off his recent cable buy with another $2,600. Another half-dozen candidates compete for the GOP nomination for the seats covering Seminole County and southern Volusia County.

And in Florida’s 13th Congressional District, the political committee Club for Growth Action bought a $139,000 flight to air ads on Fox News Aug. 3-23. The committee last month endorsed Anna Paulina Luna in the Republican Primary. Luna, who won the GOP nomination in 2020, is seen as the leading candidate in a field that includes Kevin Hayslett, Amanda Makki and Christine Quinn.

In South Florida, Broward County Commissioner and former “Master of Disaster” Jared Moskowitz is airing his first ad in the Democratic Primary to succeed Ted Deutch in Florida’s 23rd Congressional District. The spot, unveiled last week, spotlights his commitment to reforming the nation’s gun laws and features Fred Guttenberg, the father of Jaime Guttenberg, one of the 17 killed during a 2018 shooting rampage through Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The campaign has backed the ad with an initial buy of $22,490, which will place it on cable and in the Miami and West Palm Beach media markets Tuesday through Monday.

To watch the ad, click on the image below:

Senate Democratic Leader Book is also beaming her third broadcast ad to Broward TVs, backed by a six-figure buy. The ad, titled “Champion,” features her 5-year-old twins Kennedy and Hudson doing three-peat star turns as the Senator explains what she stands for. Book is in the Democratic Primary, facing her first challenge on the ballot since she first won her Senate seat in 2016.

Tallahassee is getting some love, too, courtesy of The Lincoln Project. The anti-Trump organization has made a $12,573 buy for Fox News ads. We’ll let you guess who they’re targeting — hint: It’s an audience of one.

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According to a new poll, Book holds a double-digit lead over former Broward County Commissioner Barbara Sharief in the Democratic Primary for Senate District 35.

SEA Polling and Strategic Design asked 400 voters in the district which of the two candidates they preferred, finding Book up 14 points, 39%-25%. Among “Primary super-voters” — those who voted in the last three Primary Elections — Book leads 47%-25%.

The poll had more good news for Book: After providing voters a brief bio of each candidate, her support jumped to 56%, while Sharief’s fell to 20%.

“Carrying such strong leads with those almost certain to vote and those likeliest to vote in this open Primary, Book is in prime position to secure re-election this August,” the polling memo reads. “With almost half of the respondents reporting having seen or received campaign communications, the time is now for either Sharief to close the gap; or, more likely given the data, Book makes her closing run at 50% and victory.

Book and Sharief are the only two candidates seeking the Broward-based Senate seat. With no Republicans, write-ins, or third-party candidates set for the November ballot, the Democratic Primary is open to all voters in the district, and the winner of the Aug. 23 contest will win the seat outright.

The SEA poll was conducted June 29-July 1 by live phone operators in English and Spanish with a text-to-web component. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9%.

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Smells like Rivera — “Democrats caught helping Rhonda Redman Lopez attack Jim Mooney” via Peter Schorsch of Florida Politics — Campaign finance records indicate that a recent direct-mail ad attacking Rep. Mooney is connected to a Democratic operative who served as treasurer for Andrew Gillum’s political committee. The disclosure statements printed at the bottom of the mailers say they were paid for by a political committee called “Floridians for Truth Now,” which lists Yolanda Brown as its treasurer. Brown is a Democratic activist who works for dozens of Democratic candidates and political committees. Notably, she was listed as treasurer for “Forward Florida,” a political committee chaired by Gillum that served as his primary fundraising vehicle in the 2018 Governor race.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:

@SLThomas: Mainstream? Biden could double his approval rating, and he still wouldn’t be as popular as abortion rights.

@ChadWilbanks: Harris/Harvard natl poll shows abt 1/2 US supports ban on most abortions after 6 wks (TX), while a super-majority supports 15 wk ban (FL). Women are more likely than men to support abortion limitations. 10% of Dems support abortion up to birth.

@LeaderBook: A 10-year-old rape victim in Ohio was denied an abortion. Let that sink in. Thanks to dangerous & extreme GOP policies, this is the world we now live in. The 15-week FL ban signed by DeSantis also contains NO exceptions for sexual assault. Shameful!

@MarcACaputo: As a political reporter based in Florida, I can tell you the din condemning DeSantis as a child murderer for opening schools in fall 2020 didn’t match the outcome. None who leveled the claims — & basically accused those who didn’t amply them as accessories — admit they were wrong

@SenMannyDiaz: The Department of Education has NEVER paid MGT for any work related to Critical Race Theory during the @govrondesantis Administration. Full stop. Implying otherwise is dishonest reporting.

@MDixon55: What isn’t said enough about the troll tornados is that they vastly amplify the stories they profess to hate far beyond what they were doing on their own

Tweet, tweet:

@WesWolfeFP: We really don’t need 10,000 weather bots tweeting the same radar image. Every time a storm goes through an area I’m paying attention to, I have to scroll through three dozen weather bot tweets of the same exact thing. Good job, good effort. We’re aware of the weather.

@YvetteWrites: I was today years old when I found out that the word nifty is short for magnificent.

— DAYS UNTIL —

36th Annual Environmental Permitting School — 7; San Diego Comic-Con 2022 — 8; Vote-by-mail mailing deadline for 2022 Primary — 9; 2022 Sunshine Summit begins — 10; Deadline to register for 2022 Primary — 13; Beyoncé rolls-out seventh solo studio album ’Renaissance’ — 17; MLB trade deadline — 21; The 10-day Florida Python Challenge kicks off — 24; Michael Mann and Meg Gardiner novel ‘Heat 2’ publishes — 28; Early voting begins for Primaries — 32; FBHA’s annual conference, BHCon2022, begins — 36; FRLA’s Operations and Marketing Summit — 37; ‘House of the Dragon’ premieres on HBO — 40; 2022 Florida Primary — 42; 2022 Florida Chamber Technology & Innovation Solution Summit — 50; ‘Andor’ premieres on Disney+ — 50; ‘The Lord of the Rings’ premieres on Amazon Prime — 52; NFL Opening Night: LA Rams vs. Buffalo Bills — 58; 2022 Emmys — 62; JMI’s 2022 Tech & Innovation Summit begins — 65; Vote-by-mail mailing deadline for General Election — 86; Deadline to register for General Election — 91; 22-23 NHL season begins — 91; Florida Chamber Annual Meeting & Future of Florida Forum — 105; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Passenger’ releases — 105; Jon Meacham’s ‘And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle’ releases — 105; Early voting begins for General Election — 109; 2022 General Election — 119; ‘Black Panther 2′ premieres — 122; ‘Captain Marvel 2’ premieres — 124; FITCon 2022 begins — 128; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 128; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 132; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 132; McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 133; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 141; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 141; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 157; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 220; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 238; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 255; 2023 Session Sine Die — 297; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 297; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 325; ‘Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 493; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 626; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 745.

—TOP STORY —

‘You have to do more’: Parkland father interrupts Joe Biden’s gun control speech” via Ari Hawkins of POLITICO — Manuel Oliver interrupted Biden on Friday during a White House speech marking the passage of the first major gun legislation in more than a decade.

“You have to do more,” Oliver could be heard shouting from the audience during Biden’s remarks celebrating the passage of the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which provides funding for crisis intervention and mandates due process procedures for states with red flag laws.

Manuel Oliver interrupts Joe Biden to push for more action on gun violence.

Manuel, who lost his 17-year-old son Joaquin Oliver in 2018, called the President to open a White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention and appoint a gun czar. “You have to open an office in the White House. Name a director,” he can be heard saying. The President responded to Oliver’s demands, responding that “we have one” in response to the call for a federal office dedicated to gun violence. But the President acknowledged that more needs to be done to prevent mass shootings and said, “let him talk,” before Oliver was escorted out by White House security.

“This legislation is real progress, but more has to be done. The provision of this new legislation is going to save lives, and it’s proof that today’s politics, we can come together on a bipartisan basis and get important things done. Even on an issue as tough as guns.”

—”‘It matters, but it’s not enough,’ Biden says of new gun law” via John Wagner and Mariana Alfaro of The Washington Post

Happening today — A three-judge panel of the 4th District Court of Appeals will hear arguments in a dispute to determine if Fred and Jennifer Guttenberg, whose 14-year-old daughter Jaime was killed in the 2018 Parkland school massacre, can pursue a lawsuit against gun maker Smith & Wesson and a store that sold a semi-automatic rifle used in the shooting, 10 a.m., Broward County Courthouse, 201 S.E. Sixth St., Fort Lauderdale.

— 2022 —

—”Ron DeSantis positioned well for 2024 as Biden’s approval plummets” via Katherine Fung of Newsweek

—“PolitiFact’s failed attack on DeSantis, over civics education” via Stanley Krutz of the National Review

Tweet, tweet:

Florida LGBTQ caucus lineup includes Charlie Crist, Val Demings, Nikki Fried” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The Florida LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus will host the major candidates for Governor and Senate at a gathering this month. Organizers aim to activate voters as Florida sees a bevy of controversial laws involving LGBTQ equality passed. “We are ready to fight,” said Stephen Gaskill, president of the Florida LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus. “The young people who fought the Don’t Say Gay bill in school walkouts, those impacted by the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, the vulnerable Black, Brown and LGBTQ+ communities being targeted by Florida Republicans in legislative attacks, verbal slurs, and physical assaults — we all need to be inspired, uplifted, and motivated to vote for change. That’s what we’ll accomplish this weekend.”

Fried lands Environmental Caucus endorsement — The Democratic Environmental Caucus of Florida is endorsing Agriculture Commissioner Fried in the Democratic Primary for Governor. The caucus “supports Florida lawmakers, candidates, legislation and businesses that preserve, protect and enhance Florida’s natural resources.” The endorsement comes after Fried won the organization’s straw poll last month. “I want to thank the Democratic Environmental Caucus for this incredible honor,” Fried said. “For too long, Florida Governors have failed to honor the sacred pact every Floridian has with our salt air, our sandy beaches, the river of grass, and our precious waterways. The health of our environment and our response to climate change is directly connected to the health of our economy. This is the No. 1 generational challenge we face, and one we can’t afford to ignore any longer.”

Daniel Uhlfelder secures matching funds, only Democrat in AG race to do so” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — “I am thrilled that our grassroots supporters have powered our campaign across this critical threshold,” the Santa Rosa Beach lawyer said. Noting that he was the only Democrat to qualify for the funds, Uhlfelder’s campaign contends that should “either of Uhlfelder’s Primary opponents receive the nomination, leaving this money on the table while Ashley Moody receives it would be an electoral liability for Democrats.” Indeed, the Republican incumbent will receive these funds for what is already a well-funded re-election campaign. Though Uhlfelder is winning the Democratic money race, he faces an uphill battle against Moody, a former judge who has made no missteps with the GOP base in her first term.

Annette Taddeo endorses Naomi Blemur for Agriculture Commissioner — Sen. Taddeo supports Blemur’s long shot campaign to deny Senate President Wilton Simpson’s bid for Agriculture Commissioner. “As a prominent member of our South Florida community and businesswoman, I know that Dr. Naomi Blemur not only has the vision and the drive necessary to win this race but to also lead our state forward,” Taddeo said in a news release. Blemur is running against cannabis activist Ryan Morales in the Democratic Primary. After one month in the race, she has surpassed him in fundraising with $21,000 raised and $20,000 cash on hand.

More on Taddeo — “This Florida U.S. House race is giving Democrats hope in a brutal year” via Max Greenwood of The Hill — A congressional race in a hotly contested House South Florida district is providing Democrats with a rare glimmer of hope in an otherwise brutal election year in the Sunshine State. When Florida Democrats are already reeling from a tough redistricting outcome, and a growing voter registration disadvantage, Florida’s 27th Congressional District offers the party its clearest opportunity to flip a GOP-held seat in the state. Not only is it perhaps the most closely divided district in Florida, but one of the most competitive in the country. “If there’s any district in Florida that’s going to swing, it’s going to be this one,” said Thomas Kennedy, a Democratic National Committee member who lives in the 27th District.

—“Taddeo campaign reports $460K raised in first 24 days of CD 27 bid” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics

Annette Taddeo heats the campaign trail.

Americans for Prosperity backs Laurel Lee in CD 15 — Americans for Prosperity Action-Florida has endorsed Laurel Lee in the competitive Republican Primary for Florida’s 15th Congressional District. “Laurel Lee will be an ally in Washington to address our nation’s most pressing issues. Lee will fight inflation and roll back our country’s deficit to make America affordable again,” said Skylar Zander, senior adviser for AFP Action. He added that AFP-Action’s “grassroots army” will be helping build support for Lee throughout the district. The political committee said Lee earned its endorsement “due to her support for fiscally responsible policies, increased educational freedom, and a free-market approach to trade, just to name a few.” Lee is running against four other Republicans, including Rep. Jackie Toledo and Sen. Kelli Stargel.

For your radarHouse GOP marches into deeper blue terrain as Dem prospects fade” via Ally Mutnick and Sarah Ferris of POLITICO — Rep. Kim Schrier called it an “honor” to welcome Biden to suburban Seattle for a health care speech in April. Then, nearly three months later, the Washington Democrat used a TV ad to boast about “taking on” the Biden administration over gas prices. This kind of pivot in a House battleground — which Biden won by 7 points just two years ago — isn’t an anomaly. Recent GOP polling in roughly a dozen swing districts offers a bleak portrait of how President Biden’s anemic approval ratings are threatening to doom battle-tested swing-seat incumbents — and nudge once-safe districts into the middle of the danger zone.

— MORE 2022 —

Jay Trumbull trounces newcomer Regina Piazza in June fundraising” via Aimee Sachs of Florida Politics — Large contributions have been pouring in for outgoing Rep. Trumbull since he entered the race for Senate District 2 in June. The Panama City Republican decided to run when Sen. George Gainer announced he wouldn’t seek re-election. Since filing to run in early June, Trumbull has raised $292,826 — $217,501 in the last two weeks of June alone.

Jay Trumbull bigfoots the money race in SD 2.

Corey Simon raises $67K in SD 3, but Loranne Ausley grows money lead” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Former football star Simon is quickly raising money in his bid to flip Tallahassee’s Senate seat red in November, but not as fast as Sen. Ausley. Through his first three weeks of campaigning, the Republican nominee for Senate District 3 raised $67,000 in his bid to deny Ausley a second term in the Florida Senate. However, the Democratic incumbent remained one of the strongest fundraisers running for the state office and grew her cash on hand by six digits in that period. While Ausley leads the money game, Senate District 3 is even more competitive for Republicans than in 2020, when Ausley won by seven percentage points.

Parties pouring it on for Jason Brodeur, Joy Goff-Marcil in battleground state Senate seat” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Anticipating a marquee battle this fall, the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) and the Florida Democratic Party (FDP) are flooding the campaigns of Republican Sen. Brodeur and Democratic Rep. Goff-Marcil with support. Brodeur’s campaign picked up $35,037 in in-kind staff, consulting, advertising and polling from the RPOF in late June. Goff-Marcil’s campaign was aided by $44,064 in staff and consulting from the FDP. In both cases, the party campaign support far exceeded what the campaigns were able to draw in direct financial contributions during the two-week campaign finance reporting period that ended July 1. The $200,000 in support the parties now have invested in the SD 10 race is by far the most for any contest for the Senate or House this year.

Jay Collins, Janet Cruz both see cash surge from incumbent Senators in big-time race” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Sen. Cruz and her Republican opponent, Collins, both received hefty donations from state legislative leadership this past fundraising period, showing the competitiveness of Senate District 14. Cruz’s political committee, Building The Bay PC, received a $50,000 boost from Sen. Jason Pizzo via his affiliated political committee, New Opportunity Florida. Pizzo recently pledged $500,000 to support “real Democrats” in their races after qualifying for his seat unopposed.

Griff Griffitts drops $20K, opponent Brian Clowdus just $200 in HD 6 GOP Primary in June” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — Griffitts spent $20,700 on his GOP Primary campaign for the House District 6 seat. His opponent, Clowdus, spent less than $200, state campaign finance records show. Griffitts raised more than $26,000 in June, including $1,000 each from Anheuser Busch and Associated Builders and Contractors. He spent about $15,000 on consulting. Griffitts is expected to start making his large cash advantage count. Griffitts has $225,000 in his campaign account, about $191,000 more than Clowdus’ campaign haul at the start of July.

Dean Black posts more than $200K on hand for HD 15” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — Black picked up more than $6,000 in the last couple of weeks of June, most of which went to the campaign’s consulting firm. Black, the Duval County Republican Party chair, is running for the GOP nomination in House District 15. He had $200,788 in the bank as of the beginning of July. He has a significant fundraising lead over military veteran and retirement planner Emily Nunez, who was a couple of hundred short of $30,000.

—“Chet Stokes secures JAXBIZ endorsement for HD 16 bid” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics

Webster Barnaby starts spending in HD 29 GOP race against Elizabeth Fetterhoff” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — With little more than a month until Election Day and just a few days until mail ballots go to voters, Rep. Barnaby is starting to spend down his campaign war chest in a closely watched GOP Primary against fellow Rep. Fetterhoff. Campaign finance records show Barnaby spent $25,300 in June, more than half the $55,000 he’s spent during his whole re-election campaign. Of that, more than $20,000 went to advertising. Barnaby raised just $9,400 last month, giving him a negative burn rate, but he still has more than $87,000 left in his campaign account, $12,500 more than Fetterhoff as of July 1.

Mike Haridopolos endorses Chase Tramont for HD 30” via Drew Wilson of Florida Politics — Former Senate President Haridopolos is endorsing Tramont in the Republican Primary for House District 30. “Chase Tramont is a natural-born leader. He’s a tested conservative that stands strong for what he believes in. The voters of Brevard and Volusia counties can trust Chase to be their voice in Tallahassee because he has proven he can push back on Socialism advocates and woke ideology to put his conservative principles to work as an elected leader. I’m proud to support him for the open House District 30 seat,” Haridopolos said. Haridopolos, now a lobbyist, was first elected to the House in 2000 and moved up to the Senate in 2003, serving as Senate President for the 2010-12 term. He represented Brevard County, part of which is also included in the new HD 30.

Charles Hart swamps opponents in latest HD 39 fundraising” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Hart has continued to dominate campaign fundraising since he filed in late May to run for the open seat for House District 39. Hart’s campaign picked up $17,050 in the two-week reporting period ending July 1. That gave him about $27,000 picked up in June after collecting $32,000 in May. The newly drawn HD 39 covers northwestern Orange County and part of southwestern Seminole. There is no incumbent.

Vennia Francois draws endorsements from AFP, LIBRE Initiative Action” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Americans for Prosperity Florida and The LIBRE Initiative Action are backing Francois in one of the most hotly-contested Republican Primary Elections in Central Florida, for House District 45. Francois’ campaign announced the endorsements for the contest for the open seat representing The Walt Disney World area in southwestern Orange County and Northwestern Osceola County. There she faces four other Republicans in a high-stakes Republican Primary Election battle in which several candidates have more than $100,000 in campaign money.

Mike Zhao’s California fundraiser continues out-of-state support in HD 45 race” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Zhao, who has a high national profile as an Asian American civil rights activist, added nearly $10,000 to his House District 45 campaign in late June with a fundraiser in San Jose, California. Zhao is running in a high-stakes Republican Primary Election battle with four other candidates for the open seat representing The Walt Disney World area. A leader in the national effort to oppose college and university affirmative action programs that work against Asian American students, Zhao has now collected more than three-quarters of his $118,000 in contributed money from outside Florida, according to campaign finance reports through July 1. California, where Zhao now has drawn $32,000 in donations, is his campaign’s top go-to state for cash.

Mike Zhao gets out-of-state support in his bid for the Florida House.

Lauren Book joins slate of Democratic lawmakers endorsing Michele Rayner” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — State Rep. Rayner has announced endorsements from a slate of Democratic colleagues from both the House and Senate, including Senate Democratic Leader Book and House Leader Designate Fentrice Driskell. Rayner currently represents House District 70, which covers parts of Hillsborough, Pinellas and Manatee counties. With the new maps, she’ll be running in House District 62.

Hazelle Rogers paying big bucks to mysterious Delaware corporation based at her campaign office” via Red Broward — Rogers paid more than $25,000 to a newly-formed Delaware corporation with the same address as her campaign office, records show. Rogers, currently serving as the Mayor of Lauderdale Lakes, is running for the District 9 Commission seat against fellow Democrat Guithele Ruiz-Nicolas. The August Primary is open to all voters. According to official Delaware corporation records, Purple Bird Communications LLC was formed on May 31, 2022. Delaware does not require corporations to list managing members/officers. The corporation was created using a Delaware registered agent company. State of Florida records do not show any corporation or foreign-based corporation named Purple Bird Communications.

— STATEWIDE —

State asks federal judge to shield Richard Corcoran from testimony in ‘intellectual survey’ lawsuit — The Florida University System’s Board of Governors, and the state Board of Education are calling on a federal judge to shield former Education Commissioner Corcoran from giving testimony in a challenge to the 2021 law mandating “intellectual freedom and viewpoint diversity” surveys for college and university campuses. Attorneys for the state filed a motion seeking a protective order to prevent Corcoran’s deposition during the discovery phase of the trial. The action rests on the “apex doctrine,” which prevents top-level officials from testifying when other sources for the information exist. Last year, the United Faculty of Florida and others filed a federal lawsuit, claiming the law violates the First Amendment.

Florida is running interference for Richard Corcoran.

—“Fact check: Liberal website changes headline that falsely said DeSantis signed a bill that forces students to register their political views” via Daniel Dale of CNN

Abortion clinics work overtime as women arrive from nearby states” via Cindy Krischer Goodman of the Orlando Sentinel — Florida abortion clinics are operating longer hours, opening on the weekends and training new doctors as they treat double the number of patients now that nearby states have made abortions illegal. “This is a dangerous and scary time for women but also for the doctors who are trying to provide care and do what’s best for their patients,” said Christina Noce, communications director for Planned Parenthood of Southeast and North Florida, which operates 10 health centers across the state.

ACLU cautions against ‘leapfrogging’ in abortion fight — Lawyers for the ACLU on Monday responded to a request from Attorney General Ashley Moody’s office to send a case regarding the state’s 15-week abortion ban directly to the Florida Supreme Court. As reported by Arek Sarkissian of POLITICO Florida, ACLU lawyers asked the 1st District Court of Appeal to deny Moody’s request, arguing that nothing in the lower court ruling “Changes that settled law, creates uncertainty, or justifies leapfrogging over this Court to seek immediate Florida Supreme Court review of the trial court’s nonfinal injunction order.”

Happening today — The state university system’s Board of Governors will hold the first meeting of its Chancellor Search Committee after Chancellor Marshall Criser announced he is stepping down, 8:30 a.m. Zoom link here.

Bill that would ban hair discrimination set to be introduced again next year” via Erica Van Buren of the Fort Myers News-Press — The CROWN Act bill, which would prohibit hair discrimination, will be re-introduced during the Florida Legislature next year. CROWN is an acronym for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair. The bill failed for the third time during the 2022 session. The bill died in the community affairs committee. It was sponsored this year in the House by Rep. Kamia L. Brown. Sen. Randolph Bracy, also a Democrat representing Orlando, was the Senate sponsor for the bill, SB 1608. Brown said she would re-introduce it in 2023.

What John Lux is readingWorld-class locations and facilities elevate filmmaking potential” via Amanda Kondolojy of the Orlando Sentinel — “There’s no doubt about it, locations are Florida’s calling card,” said Lux, executive director at Film Florida, who added that the state is “a bit of a one-stop-shop” when it comes to unique environments for shooting. Though the state has plenty of exterior locations recently showcased in “The Father of the Bride” reboot, which went on to become HBO Max’s most-watched original film, Florida also has world-class soundstages and technical facilities that make it a natural destination for filmmakers.

Activist plans appeal to ‘rights of nature’ ruling — Speak Up Wekiva President Chuck O’Neal intends to appeal a 2021 ruling that overturned a charter amendment that would provide rights to natural features such as water bodies and forests. As Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida reported, O’Neal said the appeal would be based on whether the state’s water quality laws are sufficient, among other issues. The charter amendment was overturned after the Legislature passed a water quality bill that barred local governments from granting rights to environmental features. Orange County voters approved the amendment by 89% in 2020.

Gov. DeSantis appoints Craig McCarthy to the 9th Judicial Circuit CourtMcCarthy, of Orlando, served as a General Magistrate in the 9th Circuit since his appointment by Chief Judge Donald A. Myers in 2021. Previously, he worked in private practice for 16 years. He received his bachelor’s degree from the United States Military Academy (West Point) and his law degree from Florida State University. McCarthy fills the judicial vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Bob LeBlanc.

— D.C. MATTERS —

Biden says he’s mulling health emergency for abortion access” via Hannah Fingerhut of The Associated Press — Biden said Sunday he is considering declaring a public health emergency to free up federal resources to promote abortion access even though the White House has said it doesn’t seem like “a great option.” He also offered a message to people enraged by the Supreme Court’s ruling last month that ended a constitutional right to abortion and who have been demonstrating across the country: “Keep protesting. Keep making your point. It’s critically important.” In remarks to reporters during a stop on a bike ride near his family’s Delaware beach house, the President said he lacks the power to force the dozen-plus states with strict restrictions or outright bans on abortion to allow the procedure.

Joe Biden considers executive action on abortion access.

Biden extends Temporary Protected Status for eligible Venezuelans to March 2024” via Syra Ortiz-Blanes and Antonio Maria Delgado of the Miami Herald — Eligible Venezuelans will be able to live in the United States with Temporary Protected Status for another 18 months, the Biden administration announced Monday, although Venezuelans who have arrived in the country after March 8, 2021, will not be eligible for the immigration relief. “This action is one of many ways the Biden administration is providing humanitarian support to Venezuelans at home and abroad, together with our regional partners,” said Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. South Florida Venezuelans celebrated the Biden administration’s decision to renew TPS, humanitarian protection for which about 343,000 Venezuelans in the United States are eligible, which allows them to live and work in the United States temporarily.

Rick Scott among most prolific stock traders in Senate so far in 2022” via WFLA — Combined, Sen. Scott and his wife Ann made 10 separate purchases of municipal bonds so far in 2022. Other than two bonds for the San Diego County Regional Airport and Washington state, the remaining eight bonds covered counties and facilities in Scott’s home state of Florida, including hospital revenue bonds for Miami Beach, transportation revenue bonds for Jacksonville, and airport system revenue bonds for Broward County.

Val Demings announces $50 million in FAA funds for the Orlando International Airport” via Florida Daily — Last week, U.S. Rep. Demings announced that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will award $50 million to Orlando International Airport (MCO) from the $1 trillion federal infrastructure package that Biden signed in November. The funding will be used for the Terminal C expansion. The funding will be used for four gates capable of serving either four widebody or eight narrow-body aircraft. This airport funding is from the Airport Terminal Program, one of three aviation programs created by the law. The law provides $1 billion annually for five years for Airport Terminal grants.

‘Closing argument’: Jan. 6 panel makes final hearings push” via Scott Wong of NBC News — The Jan. 6 committee is hitting the home stretch of the public hearings phase of its historic, yearlong investigation into the attack on the Capitol and American democracy. After a half-dozen hearings, committee members are looking to build on the momentum with a pair of back-to-back panel meetings this week. They will mark a final push for a special House panel that set out not only to establish an official record for the history books but also to demonstrate Trump’s role in the plot to overturn the 2020 election and to warn the public about ongoing threats to the election system.

Steve Bannon’s request to delay contempt trial denied after he offered to testify before Jan. 6 panel” via Kevin Johnson and Bart Jansen of USA Today — A federal judge Monday refused to delay the criminal contempt trial of Bannon after the Trump adviser’s weekend agreement to testify before the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack. “I see no reason for extending this case any further,” said U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols, paving the way for the case to open next week. The judge also severely restricted Bannon’s possible lines of defense. Nichols ruled that Bannon cannot offer evidence that he relied on the advice of his counsel in refusing to cooperate with the committee’s subpoena, saying that such an assertion does not shield him from deliberate and intentional conduct.

The RNC is promoting Donald Trump and his business, raising fresh concerns about its neutrality” via Meridith McGraw of POLITICO — The day Trump announces a 2024 bid for President, the Republican National Committee will be in a bind. It may already be there. Trump is the party’s biggest moneymaker, and as an ex-President, his name and record are natural components for the committee to tout in emails and fundraising pleas. But that’s come at a cost. The party and its leaders have committed to staying neutral in the upcoming presidential election. And as the RNC continues to tout Trump and even push his private business ventures through its official channels, the fear grows that it is dispensing with even the veneer of neutrality.

— MORE LOCAL: S. FL —

Miami’s gold rush: Finance firms and crypto move in, bringing strains” via Deborah Acosta of The Wall Street Journal — From his new office in Miami Beach, real estate investor Barry Sternlicht is only steps from the ocean. Cold winters and state income taxes are a thing of the past now that he has relocated here from Connecticut. Sternlicht, known for launching the trendsetting W Hotel brand, moved his Starwood Capital Group to the city in 2018. He’s part of a booming migration of financial firms, technology companies and venture capitalists that has gained momentum since then. Led by Mayor Francis Suarez, Miami is attempting something so ambitious it has rarely succeeded anywhere before — transforming a city identified with glitzy beaches and nightlife into a world-class business and financial center.

Francis Suarez leads the way in making Miami a fintech hub.

North Lauderdale suspends its opening invocation as opening prayer to ‘Satan’ proposed” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — The North Lauderdale City Commission suspended its customary invocation as a South Florida free speech activist requested equal time for his way of opening a government meeting: “Hail Satan.” Chaz Stevens’ project, which he calls “Satan or Silence,” is aimed at stamping religion out of all government proceedings, even as reports say state trainers are telling teachers the nation’s founders were not for a strict separation of church and state. North Lauderdale city leaders, however, do not appear eager to argue the point. Stevens, a Deerfield Beach resident, sent his request to lead the invocation on June 28 and City Manager Michael Sargis responded Monday.

$36M athletic training complex at Wellington Community Park wins village’s initial approval” via Valentina Palm of the Palm Beach Post — The village has tentatively approved a deal with a private company, led by two professional athletes who grew up nearby, to build a $36 million athletic training facility at Wellington Community Park. Suppose the Village Council approves the plan in October. In that case, Wellington will fund $33 million of the project through bonds to bring the first multipurpose athletic academy and gym of its kind in Palm Beach County to the site of a once-popular park that has fallen into disrepair. Once the council grants its final consent and all required building permits are filed, the construction of the complex will take two years.

— MORE LOCAL: N. FL —

From roads to parks, Lenny Curry eyes $500M in spending next year for Jacksonville projects” via Steve Patterson of The Florida Times-Union — Jacksonville Mayor Curry plans to propose spending about $500 million on brick-and-mortar projects during his final year in office, matching surging local tax revenues with big-dollar outlays. “This is a good time,” Chief Administrative Officer Brian Hughes said Thursday, when members of the Mayor’s Budget Review Committee walked through pieces of the capital-improvement budget they’re preparing for Curry to recommend to the City Council on July 21 along with a 2022-23 operating budget expected to be about $1.5 billion. Hughes called the $485 million project list a “95 to 98% complete draft” of the capital plan administrators have been preparing to match Curry’s priorities in areas ranging from public safety to arts and entertainment.

‘The most incredible June’: Donna Deegan trumpets fundraising, internal poll in Jax mayoral race” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — In a Twitter video, Deegan effusively thanked those who “continue to power this ‘change for good’ campaign.” “We had the most incredible June,” Deegan said, citing a “six-figure month” of fundraising, the building of a “grassroots army,” and an internal poll showing her up over the rest of the still-coalescing mayoral field. “That’s a trend we’ve seen over and over again since the start of this campaign,” Deegan said, urging supporters to “keep going” and maintain their “eyes on the prize.” Deegan’s fundraising has been slow and steady. Still, she remains well behind Republican LeAnna Cumber, the leading fundraiser among filed candidates, and the political committee of Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce CEO Daniel Davis.

To watch the video, click on the image below:

City could ban convicted criminals from lobbying as Commissioners implement more changes to ordinance” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — The city is poised to make two changes to its lobbyist regulations that could eliminate registration fees and bar convicted criminals from advocating on behalf of clients. Commissioners will decide whether to repeal the $25, per client lobbyist registration fee, a cost unique to Tallahassee but used sparingly at the county level across the state, at Wednesday’s next meeting. At an earlier meeting, City Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox said she would like to see the fee amount increased. Commissioners will also discuss whether to introduce an ordinance that would enact a permanent ban on lobbying for anyone convicted of a corruption-related crime, including bribery, theft and honest services fraud.

A Florida personal injury lawyer who owes clients $396,000 is, essentially, disbarred” via David J. Neal of the Miami Herald — A Tallahassee personal injury attorney already under emergency suspension for not turning over records of his trust account as the Florida Bar investigated client grievances decided, officially, to give up. The Soto Injury Law Firm’s Gus Soto, a 65-year-old admitted to the Bar in 1984, gave up his career by applying for disciplinary revocation without leave to seek readmission. Soto’s application, which the state Supreme Court accepted, also says he’ll give up $396,931 in restitution to five clients who allege Soto misappropriated their settlement funds. The state Supreme Court states that “disciplinary revocation is tantamount to disbarment.”

Highlights, concerns and ‘watch lists’: Where FSU and FAMU stand in Florida’s metrics” via Tarah Jean of the Tallahassee Democrat — Eleven of the state’s 12 public universities continue to struggle with increasing the numbers of low-income students they admit, a trend that the Board of Governors says it wants to see reversed. The performance-based funding metric, which recognizes a commitment to access for undergraduate students eligible for a Pell Grant, is one of the key metrics in the State University System (SUS). New College of Florida was the only university to improve in the metric, according to data presented to the board last week at the University of Central Florida.

Substantial Amelia Island beach infrastructure upgrade pegged as decadeslong project” via Wes Wolfe of Florida Politics — Amelia Island’s beach harmonization project is no small feat, just explaining the basics took about an hour for a consultant to do for the island’s Tourist Development Council. The planners at EDSA, in conjunction with the TDC and Nassau County, are pushing four aspects for each of the beaches, environmental protection, parking, “looking at the program of each park and making sure they complement each other, as well as making sure the community comments are addressed for what program at what park,” according to EDSA urban planner Katie Poppel. They’re also looking at the general aesthetics, cohesion and harmonization of the parks.

— MORE LOCAL: C. FL —

Hillsborough candidates differ on proposed property tax for schools” via Marlene Sokol of the Tampa Bay Times — The proposed special property tax to support Hillsborough County Public Schools is turning out to be a litmus test for the eight candidates seeking election this summer to the School Board. “It’s obviously the No. 1 thing on people’s minds,” said Stacy Hahn, an incumbent in South Tampa who faces opponent Damaris Allen, a longtime PTA leader and education advocate, to represent District 2. The tax, similar to those existing in Pinellas and other Florida districts, would levy an additional $1 on every $1,000 in assessed property value to enhance teacher pay and courses that include art and music. It will be on the same Aug. 23 ballot as the School Board races.

Will property taxes for schools be the third rail for Stacy Hahn?

With inflation high, some Orange district teachers urge a ‘no’ vote on $3,325 raise” via Leslie Postal of the Orlando Sentinel — Some Orange County teachers plan to vote against a proposed pay raise, saying the salary hike is too small to offset rising prices, won’t help solve an ongoing teacher shortage and still leaves veteran teachers without the compensation they deserve. “This isn’t as good of a deal as it looks like,” said Drue Pautz, a fifth grade teacher who has taught for 16 years and has been urging colleagues to vote “no” when the ballots arrive at their homes. The tentative pay plan for Orange County Public Schools teachers, reached in late June, would give most teachers raises of $3,325, the most significant increase in a decade.

Omicron BA.5 variant dominates as COVID-19 rises in Central Florida wastewater” via Caroline Catherman of the Orlando Sentinel — As COVID-19 cases continue their monthslong climb, wastewater testing suggests many Central Floridians may lack protection from the most common type of COVID-19 in the region. On Thursday, BA.5 was the most common COVID-19 mutation detected in multiple wastewater systems across Orange and Seminole counties. BA.5 is one of several types of omicron and, along with BA.4, seems to be the most infectious strain to date. Sewer service areas managed by Altamonte Springs, Casselberry, and Orange County began testing for omicron subvariants BA.2.12.1, BA.4 and BA.5 in June, Orange County Utilities spokesperson Sarah Lux said in an email.

Orlando Health plans new hospital in Pasco County” via Ashley Gurbal Kritzer of the Orlando Business Journal — Orlando Health has revealed its next step in its quest to gain market share in the Tampa Bay region: a 300-unit hospital in Wiregrass Ranch, a master-planned community in Wesley Chapel. The health system on Monday announced plans for the new hospital in the northeast quadrant of State Road 56 and Wiregrass Ranch Boulevard. It is under contract to purchase the site and expects to close on the property later this year. Orlando Health Wiregrass Ranch will offer emergency and specialty services as well as inpatient care. The health system said it had filed a site plan with Pasco County and that the new hospital would be multiple stories.

What Michelle Schorsch is reading — “UCFAA agrees to 13-year, $125M multimedia rights deal with Playfly” via Jason Beede of the Orlando Sentinel — The UCF Athletics Association is looking to enter into a 13-year multimedia rights agreement worth $125 million in guaranteed rights revenue with Playfly. The trustees are scheduled to meet at 2 p.m. Tuesday. They are suggested to approve the outline of the multimedia rights deal and authorize the UCFAA to execute the necessary final agreements. If approved, the agreement term starts this year and runs through 2035. During the first three years of the agreement, Playfly has agreed to invest $3.75 million for capital improvements within UCFAA’s competition facilities, according to the agenda.

— MORE LOCAL: SW. FL —

Sarasota Herald-Tribune deletes op-ed by Proud Boy wife after backlash — but doesn’t address major conflict” via Sarah Rumpf of Mediaite — Publishing online means media outlets can edit or even delete articles that ruffle feathers, but screenshots and internet archives mean there’s a trail of evidence. The Sarasota Herald-Tribune attempted to memory hole an op-ed published Sunday that defended the Proud Boys as simply “caring fathers” without disclosing that the author was married to a group member. The original op-ed was titled “Attacking Proud Boys does a disservice to caring school parents” and written by Melissa Radovich. The article was deleted at some point Monday morning and is no longer available at the original link but was captured in its entirety by the Wayback Machine’s archives.

Melissa Radovich’s pro-Proud Boy op-ed mysteriously vanishes.

Cape Coral 10-year-old perp-walked by Lee Sheriff pleads not guilty in school threat case” via Dan Blaun of the Fort Myers News-Press — Ten-year-old Cape Coral resident Daniel Marquez pleaded not guilty Monday morning in Lee County juvenile court to a charge of making a written threat to commit a mass shooting. Daniel, whose case became international news after Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno posted a video of his arrest on Facebook, is accused of threatening an event at his school, Patriot Elementary in Cape Coral. Those charges are “bogus,” said Letitia Kim, managing director of the legal network at the nonprofit Foundation Against Intolerance & Racism. After his arrest, FAIR took up Daniel’s case and launched a legal-defense fund.

— TOP OPINION —

DeSantis would kill democracy slowly and methodically. Whether he’s as bad as Trump isn’t the question.” via Jonathan Chait of New York magazine — As Trump eventually fades from the scene — perhaps overtaken by DeSantis — the democracy question, far from disappearing, might instead sharpen.

A glimpse into this future came recently when I proposed on Twitter that DeSantis is “a deeply authoritarian figure.” The incredulity and rage of the conservative response this summoned was captured by a Fox News story headlined “NY Mag writer wrecked for calling DeSantis ‘a more competent authoritarian’ than Trump: ‘Hysterical.’”

What’s revealing about this episode is how it has put on display the belief on the right that to call DeSantis a threat to democracy is not only wrong but self-evidently absurd. Conservatives are defining out of existence the idea that the party itself, rather than one man, could be a threat to democracy.

While Trump’s almost feral contempt for democracy and the rule of law represented a unique threat, the longer-term danger to the Republic was the institutional power of a movement that had never truly made peace with democratic principles.

DeSantis is a flawless sample of this belief system.

In my DeSantis profile, I wrote that his candidacy reflects the calculation that “any former Republican voter who opposed Trump on moral rather than aesthetic grounds is gone and not worth trying to bring back.”

— OPINIONS —

If Tucker Carlson runs in 2024, here’s who the Democrats need” via Juleanna Glover of POLITICO — Biden should run for President in 2024. But if he decides against it for whatever reason, and the Democrats want a serious shot at retaining the White House, Jon Stewart should run on the Democratic ticket instead. Yes, that’s right: Stewart, the TV personality, podcaster, comedian. The 5’ 7” former host of The Daily Show. He’s clearly engaged enough for the job. But the bigger reason is that he’s a better fit than most politicians for what modern politics has become.

Court’s ruling on school prayer is supremely questionable” via the Chicago Tribune editorial board — After 60 years of precedent-setting battles to maintain a separation of church and state, that question has been thrown into confusion by the Supreme Court’s decision to side with a former high school football coach who held postgame prayer circles on his then-employer’s 50-yard line. Coach Joseph Kennedy lost his job at Bremerton High School near Seattle and claimed his First Amendment rights were violated when he was told by school officials to stop offering prayers on the 50-yard-line after football games. What began as a solo and personal moment of devotion for him became a lot more public after he allowed his players to join him in prayer.

Democrats are overreacting about the Supreme Court” via Curt Levey of The Washington Post — With the end of the Supreme Court’s term, Democrats are denouncing the court as ideologically motivated, extreme, undemocratic, even destabilizing. Their angst is understandable, but it’s misguided. First, this court is not ideologically motivated, that is, committed to conservative outcomes. It is committed to a textualist approach that sometimes will produce outcomes that political conservatives cheer for and sometimes will infuriate them. Any impression that conservatives could rely on this court for conservative outcomes was dispelled on the final day of the term.

Jason Pizzo is right about the abortion issue — let the people decide” via Joe Henderson of Florida Politics — State Sen. Pizzo just gave a perfect exit ramp for those lawmakers who’d rather not deal with the abortion question. His idea to give Florida voters the final say about abortions in this state makes considerable sense. Yes, it would get some lawmakers off the hook for dealing with an explosive issue, but that’s not the biggest reason to do this. It’s just the right way to decide something deeply personal to those on both sides of this issue. The U.S. Supreme Court, by gutting Roe v. Wade, ruled that it’s up to the states to decide the fate of abortion within their boundaries. Florida is more than just Tallahassee legislators. About 21 million people live here, and they should have a say about this.

Voters need to know school board candidates’ position” via Sen. Ben Albritton for the Port Charlotte Sun — When it comes to the education of our children, there is too much at stake. We only have one chance to get it right. There are no do-overs. Parents send their kids to school to learn and grow and become great citizens of our nation. The Treasure Coast Newspapers editorial board was right when it said, “Schools should be places where children obtain objective information and learn critical-thinking skills they’ll need to know and have throughout their lives, free from the spin of any political party.” The Florida Legislature has taken actions to remove liberal activism from our schools, but the real power is on the local level. Parents know what’s best for their children, and parents, and all voters, have the opportunity to make their voice heard in school board elections this fall.

Have Democrats lost the Jax mayoral race already?” via A.G. Gancarski of Jacksonville Today — For the first time in many years, two serious Democratic candidates are running for Jacksonville Mayor. And for backers of one of those candidates, two Democrats in the field was one too many even before a third Democrat, Theresa Ann Richardson, filed for the race last week. Some have suggested that Donna Deegan could have gotten a clear majority in March if Sen. Audrey Gibson had. Deegan supporters who want to see a Democratic Mayor would be well advised to train their fire on Republican opponents, given the realities of consolidating support for a general election.

— ALOE —

Florida man gives $13K to strangers at Waffle House, elsewhere with touching note” via Athina Morris of WFLA — A Florida man’s story about a stranger’s act of kindness is warming hearts around the country and restoring faith in humankind. In a series of posts on Twitter, Kevin Cate recounted his experience with a man he met at a Waffle House restaurant in Midway last week. Cate, a former Barack Obama campaign spokesman and the son of WFLA anchor Keith Cate, said he saw the man sitting alone in a booth, attaching money to some notes. When asked what he was up to, the man told Cate he had been handing out $1 and $5 bills to people he meets at Waffle House, his favorite restaurant, and elsewhere. The man did not share his name. Each note says “Love Every Body” in bold text. The man told Cate those were the last three words his mother said to him before she passed away.

Spreading love (in the form of cash). Image via Kevin Cate.

What Michelle Schorsch is readingFormer UCF QB McKenzie Milton embraces fatherhood, giving back to community” via Matt Murschel of the Orlando Sentinel — The 20 participants quickly gathered at midfield around Milton, footballs tightly tucked into their arms. They came this Saturday morning to learn from one of the best, some as young as seven and others as old as 21. Many of these campers grew up idolizing Milton when he was the quarterback at UCF. Milton, along with current Knights quarterback Mikey Keene and former UCF and current Old Dominion quarterback D.J. Mack Jr., offers instruction as campers participate in passing drills. Parents, many decked out in UCF gear, watch while snapping the occasional photo or taking a video.

Gas prices continue to drop, though not exactly to bargain levels” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Florida gasoline prices dropped an average of 15 cents per gallon last week, continuing the steady downhill pace from the record high set in June. At $4.42 per gallon, Florida’s average gas price now is 42 cents lower than the peak, and lower than it has been since mid-May. The forecast shows prices could dip even lower. The prices across Florida are spread across a broad scale, and at least some of the trends in global markets are downward, suggesting there still is plenty of room for more decline in price. A statewide average of $4.30 may be seen this time next week.

Miami Beach filmmakers Rakontur build on fame after breakout Netflix hit Cocaine Cowboys: The Kings of Miami” via Mike Vogel of Florida Trend — As the setting for a coming-of-age story, it would be hard to top Miami of the 1980s and ’90s. Drug wars. Race riots. America’s murder capital. The Mariel boatlift. Miami Vice. Alfred Spellman remembers being a 9-year-old pedaling his bike to school, passing upscale Indian Creek Island, and seeing a battalion of law enforcement officers, two police boats, and lots of bales. “Witnessing your first drug bust is something that certainly came with the territory of being an ’80s Miami child,” he says. For a time in 2021, their Cocaine Cowboys: The Kings of Miami, chronicling the rise and fall of kingpins Willy Falcon and Sal Magluta, was the No. 2 show in the world for Netflix. Their stature in the industry is unquestioned.

Marvel takes on big restaurant duties on Disney Wish amid growing cruise presence” via Richard Tribou of the Orlando Sentinel — Disney Cruise Line’s embrace of Marvel has expanded to its biggest level yet on the new Disney Wish cruise ship, handing over the dinner menu to a nontraditional Disney theme for the first time at sea. Taking over the role Animator’s Palate plays on the other ships, the new Worlds of Marvel restaurant takes cruisers into a dining experience titled “Avengers: Quantum Encounter” that really caters to the deep-dive Marvel fans, although casual fans should enjoy it as well. Disney Wish is the fifth ship in the DCL fleet, set to begin sailing with paying customers starting July 14.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Belated best wishes to Ali Schmitz, former Florida-based reporter and now a producer with PBS NewsHour. Happy birthday to ace fundraiser Jon Adrabi, Erin Gaetz, founder of Southpaw Content, former Sen. John Grant, former AG Bill McCollum, and Bob Rackleff.

___

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


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