Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics — 11.8.22

Good Tuesday morning.

Take a moment to look at The County Election by George Bingham.

George Caleb Bingham painted a series of canvasses celebrating elections in newly created states along the western frontier.

The County Election by George Bingham.

Here, gathered around the polling place is a crowd of characters, including the happy drunk whose vote has been bought with liquor and the downcast loyalist whose candidate has lost and who bows his head with more than a hangover. The sole African American, excluded from the voting process, stands at the left edge of the canvas serving hard cider. Women are notably absent from the scene.

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Election Night parties are a rite of passage for candidates, whether seasoned political veterans or running for the first time.

Some will celebrate victory. Others will bid farewell to a hard-fought, but ultimately unsuccessful effort, looking to supporters for solace in defeat.

From breweries and swank restaurants to hotels and event space, candidates across Florida will gather tonight to watch results come in, thank supporters, and raise a glass to the end of the 2022 Midterm campaign.

Florida Politics compiled its traditional list of Election Night parties, drawing from invitations, publicly available social media posts, and a shoutout to campaigns asking for their deets. Not all are hosting public celebrations, and some chose not to make their whereabouts public.

Find a list of available information on Election Night parties for candidates statewide here, and for those in the Tampa Bay area here.

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Energy and utility expert Kaley Slattery is joining The Southern Group’s Orlando team.

Slattery, a Central Florida native, brings with her extensive experience in campaigns and government administration including in the areas of health and human services policy, environmental and energy regulation as well as infrastructure sustainability and resiliency.

“Kaley possesses that rare set of skills that allows her to lobby seamlessly between the local and state levels of government,” said Paul Bradshaw, founder and Chair of The Southern Group. “She grew up in the Orlando area steeped in local politics, and she quickly rose to fill one of the most important lobbying positions in state government in Tallahassee as the head of legislative affairs for the Public Service Commission. Her rapid rise is a testament to her skills as an advocate, and our clients and our lobbying team are lucky to have her in our Orlando office.”

Congrats to Kaley Slattery, who brings her extensive utilities experience to The Southern Group.

Before joining The Southern Group, Slattery worked as the legislative director at the PSC, where she oversaw the state’s regulatory authority over investor-owned utility companies, managed the legislative agenda, and coordinated the Commission’s appropriations requests before the Legislature and Cabinet.

She was instrumental in improving communication and collaboration between state and federal regulators, with specific success in realigning the PSC’s statutory jurisdiction over the federal Lifeline program.

“The Southern Group has made a significant hire by adding Ms. Kaley Slattery to their team,” said Rep. David Smith, a Winter Springs Republican. “Her ability to understand complex issues impacting public policy decisions combined with a deep knowledge of Florida’s government operations will make her an immediate asset to her clients.”

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Here are some other items on my radar:

🗳 — When to expect voting results: Each state’s polls close at different times, and time zone differences mean ballots on the East Coast are tallied far before those on the West Coast. Kentucky and Indiana are expected to report some of the first results Tuesday, according to The Washington Post. The Associated Press created a state-by-state rundown of expectations, based on vote count procedures and historic precedent. Florida, they note, “counts votes faster than most states,” and in 2020 about 90% of all votes had been counted by 9 p.m. Eastern time. That’s largely due to the popularity of vote-by-mail in the Sunshine State.

🐘Sabato’s Crystal Ball is predicting that Democrats are going to lose not only the U.S. House but the U.S. Senate as well. The final prediction is that Republicans will gain 24 seats in the lower chamber for a 237-198 split, and one seat in the Senate for a 51-49 GOP majority — the new Republican Senators would be Herschel Walker in Georgia and Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania. To top it off, Republicans are expected to gain a governorship, bringing their advantage to 29-21.

🥇 — Congressional race outcomes in 4 scenarios: Will Democrats hold on to the Senate and defend their majority in the House? Will Republicans deliver a rout on Election Day? Maybe something in between? Anything is possible, notes New York Times Chief Political Analyst Nate Cohn. He lists four possible scenarios after Tuesday’s election: Republicans dominate by successfully winning control of the Senate and winning big gains in the House; feels like a win for Democrats by keeping control of the Senate and performing competitively in House races; A Republican landslide; or a Democratic surprise. The last scenario would be a surprise for a reason — Republicans have momentum according to polls and historic trends in Midterm Elections. But the rundown shows it’s not over. Read more here.

🧟 — ‘I voted’ sticker goes dark: Sporting the iconic “I voted” sticker is a rite of passage each election meant to showcase your commitment to civic duty and, for some, encourage others to do the same. Ulster County, New York added a different option to the array of typical red, white and blue stickers this year with what Bloomberg describes as a “demon spider-crab,” a creature with bright blue legs and a zombie-like, multicolored head. The design was the product of a local teenager who was a finalist in the county’s voting sticker design contest. But the viral sticker design is indicative of a broader trend, the enduring appeal of voting stickers since as far back as perhaps the 1950s. As Bloomberg notes, there is no evidence to suggest the stickers increase turnout to a significant degree, but in the age of social media, they do provide a visual medium for which to encourage the practice and, with creative designs like the creepy sticker in New York, perhaps it couldn’t hurt. Read more here.

— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —

@ElonMusk: To independent-minded voters: Shared power curbs the worst excesses of both parties; therefore, I recommend voting for a Republican Congress, given that the presidency is Democratic.

@KevinCate: If only @elonmusk cared about @Tesla service as much as he does shitposting on here. Best cars in the world, worst customer service. $tsla

Tweet, tweet:

@MaggieNYT: A striking thing about the anger from some R quarters about (Donald) Trump calling (Ron) DeSantis, who released an ad describing himself as created by God as a fighter, “DeSanctimonious”: some of those same folks were fairly quiet when Trump’s supporters were chanting “Hang Mike Pence.” … but “DeSanctimonious” was seen as a bridge too far

Tweet, tweet:

@alissajean: FL utilities have officially spent nearly $17 MIL on FL campaigns for ’22 cycle. In a late surge, Duke passed NextEra in total contribs. ’18 total was just over $13 MIL. This cash is to secure political influence, & it doesn’t include $$ shuffled around via llcs, charities, etc

Tweet, tweet:

Tweet, tweet:

@jacobogles: A tropical storm approaching on Election Day seems just perfect this year.

Tweet, tweet:

— DAYS UNTIL —

‘The Crown’ Season 5 returns — 1; ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ premieres — 3; FITCon 2022 begins — 8; ‘The Flash’ premieres — 9; The World Cup kicks off in Qatar — 13; The U.S. World Cup Soccer Team begins play — 16; Florida TaxWatch’s Annual Meeting begins — 25; ‘Willow’ premieres on Disney+ — 25; 2022 Florida Chamber Annual Insurance Summit — 27; Cormac McCarthy’s ‘Stella Maris’ releases — 28; ‘Avatar 2’ premieres — 38; final Broadway performance of ‘The Music Man’ with Hugh Jackman — 54; Bruce Springsteen launches his 2023 tour in Tampa — 85; ‘Ant Man and the Wasp: Quantumania’ premieres — 101; final performance of ‘Phantom of the Opera’ on Broadway — 102; 2023 Legislative Session convenes — 119; ‘John Wick: Chapter 4′ premieres — 137; Taylor Swift ‘Eras’ Tour in Tampa — 158; American Association of Political Consultants Pollies ’23 conference begins — 161; 2023 Session Sine Die — 178; ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3’ premieres — 178; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ premieres — 206; Christopher Nolan’s ‘Oppenheimer’ premieres — 255; ‘‘Captain Marvel 2′ premieres — 262; Dune: Part Two’ premieres — 360; ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ Part 2 premieres — 507; ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ premieres — 563; Opening Ceremony of the 2024 Olympic Games — 626; ‘Thunderbolts’ premieres — 626; ‘Blade’ reboot premieres — 668; ‘Deadpool 3’ premieres — 731; ‘Fantastic Four’ reboot premieres — 829; ‘Avengers: The Kang Dynasty’ premieres — 906. ‘Avengers: Secret Wars’ premieres — 1,095.

— TOP STORY —

Ron DeSantis’ voter fraud suspect was issued new voter ID” via Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — DeSantis publicly touted the arrests of about 20 people he said registered and voted illegally in 2020. But months later, at least two of the people arrested are still on Florida’s voter rolls.

Nathaniel Singleton, who is ineligible to vote because of a second-degree murder conviction, was issued a new voter ID card by Broward County’s elections supervisor on Sept. 13, nearly a month after DeSantis held a high-profile news conference touting his arrest.

And Romona Oliver, also ineligible because of a second-degree murder conviction, is still on the rolls, a fact that went unnoticed by DeSantis’ administration even though it arrested her nearly three months after she registered.

Ron DeSantis’ arrest of 20 people accused of voter fraud opened a can of worms.

On the eve of Election Day, both are still registered voters — further evidence, observers say, of dysfunction within DeSantis’ Department of State, which is responsible under state law for finding and removing ineligible voters from the rolls.

“The left hand isn’t talking to the right hand,” said Sen. Jeff Brandes. “This has become par for the course for the Secretary of State’s office.”

About a week after the August arrests, the Department of Corrections issued an updated form for everyone on probation to sign attesting “that you must solely determine if you are lawfully qualified to vote.”

“There seems to be a persistent and complete misunderstanding of the Department’s verification process and the statutory procedures for adding voters to the registration rolls,” department spokesperson Mark Ard said.


— NAT’L MOOD —

Democrats look to centrists in final hours while GOP amps up its base” via Annie Linskey, Cara McGoogan and Colby Itkowitz of The Washington Post — As Republican candidates make their final appeal in key states, they’re tapping some of the most polarizing figures in their party and turning to messages centered on cultural division and at times pushing racial discord. The events included dueling campaign rallies Sunday night in Florida featuring Trump and DeSantis. And some featured harsh rhetoric, including former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley suggesting during a Georgia campaign stop on Sunday that Sen. Raphael G. Warnock, who is an American citizen, should be deported.

Fears and suspicion hang over voting on cusp of Election Day” via Nick Corasaniti and Charles Homans of The New York Times — While early voting has been largely uneventful — 40 million Americans have already cast their ballots — the signs of strain are everywhere. A court ordered armed activists to stop patrolling drop boxes in Arizona. Tens of thousands of voter registrations are being challenged in Georgia. Voting rights groups have trained volunteers in de-escalation methods. Voters have been videotaped by groups hunting for fraud as they drop off their ballots. Election officials are increasingly on edge, and even Republican ones say they are bracing for a renewed onslaught after Election Day, one most likely to be fueled by their own party. More than 100 lawsuits have already been filed — compared with 70 at this point two years ago — a surge of litigation from both parties and their allies.

Florida nervously braces for Election Day.

—“Who will win the battle for Congress? Here are four scenarios.” via Nate Cohn of The New York Times

GOP gaining support among Black and Latino voters” via Joshua Jamerson and Aaron Zitner of The Wall Street Journal — About 17% of Black voters said they would pick a Republican candidate for Congress over a Democrat in polls both in late October and in August. That is a substantially larger share than the 8% of Black voters who voted for Trump in 2020 and the 8% who backed GOP candidates in 2018 House races. Among Latino voters, Democrats held a lead of 5 percentage points over Republicans in the choice of a congressional candidate in the Journal’s October survey, a narrower advantage than the Democrats’ 11-point lead in August.

Democrats are getting help in tight Senate races from split-ticket voting” via Gregory Korte and Mark Niquette of Bloomberg — Voters are picking and choosing between candidates on their state ballots, recent polling suggests, splitting their tickets between Democrats and Republicans in a way that’s helping struggling Democratic Senate candidates. In most battleground states, Democratic Senate candidates who make conspicuous appeals to independent and Republican voters are outperforming their party’s candidate for Governor. Polling in Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin suggests voters could elect a Senator from one party and a Governor from the other. In at least four of those states, the Democratic candidate for Senate gained more support than the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, sometimes by an average of 16 percentage points, according to RealClearPolitics polling averages.

— 2022 —

Election Day impact minimal as Subtropical Storm Nicole eyes Florida, Bahamas” via The Associated Press — Subtropical Storm Nicole is now expected to become a hurricane over the Bahamas before hitting Florida’s east coast on Wednesday, well enough after polls close to avoid disrupting voting on Election Day, forecasters said. “We won’t really start to see any significant impacts from Nicole until really Tuesday night to Wednesday, so really it shouldn’t have a huge impact on voting operations tomorrow,” hurricane specialist Phillippe Papin said.” Unfortunately, this is going to be a very large storm, with a very large wind field on the north side.” Hurricane watches are in effect for the northwestern Bahamas and Florida’s Atlantic coast from Hallandale Beach, north of Miami, to just north of Daytona Beach, as well as inland to Lake Okeechobee, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said in its latest advisory.

Tropical Storm Nicole couldn’t come at a worse time, politically.

Donald Trump firms date for 2024 launch, drags DeSantis again for bad poll” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — The former President, widely rumored to announce his intentions in Ohio, did not do so. But he again made it clear it was imminent, assigning a date formally. “I’m going to be making a very big announcement Tuesday, Nov. 15, at Mar-a-Lago,” Trump said to cheers. Before Trump pre-announced, he also continued a recent history of referencing DeSantis, which has seen favorable comments (a re-election endorsement Sunday) juxtaposed with a jab at the Governor as “Ron DeSanctimonious.” Before reiterating his endorsement of DeSantis to cheers, Trump presented the same poll he did Saturday when he coined that nickname for DeSantis, as a “four more years” chant began in the crowd.

Betting market bullish on Marco Rubio, DeSantis victories” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — What are the chances of an upset on Election Day in Florida’s big races? The betting markets show few people willing to bet on a Val Demings or Charlie Crist upset. A glance at PredictIt, where people place real money on election outcomes, shows little confidence Florida will deliver any Election Day surprises this Midterm cycle. The price of a “yes” share on Sen. Rubio winning re-election sat at 96 cents. That’s as high as the price has been over the 90 days leading into the Midterms. Meanwhile, Demings “Yes” shares were priced at a low 3 cents. “Yes” shares for Crist dipped to a new all-time low of 3 cents.

GOP wins war of early voting as Election Day arrives” via Steven Lemongello of the Orlando Sentinel — With Florida’s Election Day finally here on Tuesday, Republicans have outpaced Democrats with early voting and were keeping close with the mail-in vote, an ominous sign for the blue party. Voting advocates also were concerned about DeSantis’ administration pushing elections supervisors to challenge hundreds of voters across the state as potentially ineligible. The campaigns continued their last-minute swings around the state Monday, with DeSantis and Rubio appearing at an event in Orlando.

Assignment editors — Secretary of State Cord Byrd will hold a media availability to discuss Florida’s 2022 General Election: 9:30 a.m., Eastern time, Gallery for Innovation and the Arts, R.A. Gray Building, 500 South Bronough Street, Tallahassee.

Charlie Crist, DeSantis square off in a transformed political environment” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The last time Crist won statewide office, he led by 6 percentage points and secured a term as Governor. DeSantis, by comparison, won his term leading Florida’s state government by 0.4 percentage points after a machine recount. But when the two face one another on Nov. 8, most pollsters and analysts expect a blowout as DeSantis seeks a second term. With the caveat that anything could happen, the gubernatorial contest in Florida vividly shows the dramatic changes in Florida politics over a decade and a half, including a transformation DeSantis has largely led in the past four years.

More than $50M spent on DeSantis ads over campaign, with Crist stepping up spending in final weeks” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The 2022 Governor’s race saw more than $72.5 spent on advertising this election cycle. That’s according to the latest reports released by Ad Impact, which show $54.6 million of that went to support DeSantis. That funding either came from DeSantis’ campaign or the Republican Party of Florida. That’s a hefty chunk of the $447 million in political advertisements in the entire state of Florida this year. Far less went to support Democrat Crist’s efforts to unseat the Governor. But the Democrat notably stepped-up spending on media in the last two weeks of the campaign.

DeSantis Watch launches new video bashing Governor — Political committee DeSantis Watch has released a new video slamming DeSantis for “attacking our freedoms” and spending the past four years “focused on his own political ambitions.” The video then urges voters to “end Ron DeSantis’ political career and vote for a free and prosperous future for all.” DeSantis Watch communications director Anders Croy added in a news release, “While Ron DeSantis has been running for President by stoking division, the people of our state are still struggling to pay the bills as the powerful special interests funding his campaign rake in record profits. For every Floridian who wants a brighter future where everyone has the opportunity to live their version of the American Dream, Election Day is our time to make it happen.”

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

[embedded content]

‘Nobody wants Kamala’: DeSantis continues Kamala Harris attacks” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — The closing day of campaigning is just another day for DeSantis when it comes to attacking Vice President Harris and what he called the “dumb decision” to put her on the 2020 ticket “No matter how bad old Joe is, nobody wants Kamala! Nobody wants Kamala,” an exuberant DeSantis told a crowd in Palm Beach County Monday, the latest example of how critiques of the VP are an enduring part of his pitch right until the end of the campaign. DeSantis predicted Monday that “regime media would start knifing” Joe Biden after Tuesday’s election result.

Crist urges people to vote, criticizes incumbent in St. Lucie County” via Will Greenlee of Treasure Coast Newspapers — Supporters packed Swift Grill Monday as gubernatorial candidate Crist made a brief campaign stop before the election Tuesday, urging people to vote, and taking a few jabs at the incumbent. Several dozen people jammed inside the eatery on U.S. 1 north of downtown Fort Pierce as Crist, accompanied by his fiancee, spoke for less than 10 minutes. “St. Lucie means the light,” he said. “Well, I’ve seen the light and it’s victory tomorrow (Tuesday) night.” A Democrat, Crist appeared two days after DeSantis spoke with other Republican leaders at a rally in the Tradition community in Port St. Lucie.

Wilton Simpson hopes to turn Cabinet fully red in Ag Commish race vs. Naomi Blemur” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Senate President Simpson is looking for a promotion and will likely get one Tuesday in his race for Agriculture Commissioner against Blemur. Simpson, who cruised his way through the Republican Primary and is sitting on millions, is facing a bruised Blemur. She decisively won her Primary, but not without bleeding support from prominent South Florida Democrats over her social media history. Simpson is moving on from the Senate after being term-limited there. The egg farmer and businessman served west Central Florida in the Senate for 10 years, including as Senate President for the last two.

— 2022: CONGRESSIONAL —

PAC backs Eric Lynn with last-minute buy — Political committee Progress Pinellas spent $8,018 on a new ad buy backing Lynn in the race for Florida’s 13th Congressional District. According to AdImpact, the flight started running on Nov. 5 and ended Monday. It ran on cable in the Tampa media market, on networks including CNN, HGTV and MSNBC. Lynn, a Democrat, is running against Republican Anna Paulina Luna for the Pinellas-based seat, which slightly favors Republicans.

The ad wars continue to the bitter end.

María Elvira Salazar, Annette Taddeo battle for South Florida’s most flippable congressional seat” via Jesse Scheckner of Florida Politics — Florida’s 27th Congressional District is home to the costliest and most competitive U.S. House race in South Florida, pitting a Republican with two years of federal lawmaking experience against a Democratic state Senator with five years of legislating under her belt. U.S. Rep. Salazar, a decorated former TV journalist, is defending against state Sen. Taddeo, a small-business owner who made history in 2017 as the first Latina Democrat to win a seat in the chamber. The two share some commonalities. Both have roots in Latin American countries overrun by Marxist oppressors. Both have long lived in Miami-Dade County.

— 2022: LEGISLATIVE —

Florida GOP has legislative supermajorities within sight in this year’s elections” via Michael Moline of the Florida Phoenix — The Republican Party is within a handful of election victories of achieving supermajorities in the Legislature on Nov. 8 — that is, control two-thirds of the vote in both the House and the Senate. Theoretically, that would allow the party’s members to override a Governor’s veto and ignore the rules that govern the lawmaking process, making it even more difficult for Democrats to pursue policy initiatives and pass legislation. That said, Floridians might be hard-pressed to notice a difference because the GOP caucuses are already very conservative and frequently vote down Democratic attempts to alter legislation. Democrats had led in voter registration for most of Florida’s history, but the GOP took the lead last year for the first time.

The GOP is poised to gain even tighter control of the Legislature.

Fate of the Senate runs through Loranne Ausley, Corey Simon race in SD 3” via Renzo Downey of Florida Politics — Republicans are on the verge of grasping a supermajority in the Senate, and the road to that near-total control runs through North Florida’s Senate District 3. Voters from across the state’s most expansive Senate district will choose between Sen. Ausley and Simon, in what has been a battle of the incumbent’s political life. It’s been one of the most expensive and hardest-fought races for the Florida Senate, with state Democratic and Republican efforts cutting ad after ad in the race. Ausley, who is wrapping up her first two years in the Senate, originally won the seat by less than 7 percentage points.

— 2022: MORE LEGISLATIVE —

Rachel Plakon, Deborah Poulalion bring different economic outlooks in open HD 36 race” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — A north Seminole County district puts a familiar name on the ballot but with a different candidate. Plakon runs in northern Seminole County in the redrawn House District 36, about half of which falls in a district previously won by husband and retiring Rep. Scott Plakon. But it’s also a seat where Democrats hold a numeric edge, giving hope to Deborah Poulalion. Plakon won a Republican Primary earlier this year in the open seat, beating Rich Santos and Angel Perry after taking 65% of the vote. Poulalion, meanwhile, won a Democratic contest against Rod Joseph, who ended up endorsing Plakon shortly after the Primary.

Rachel Plakon and Deborah Poulalion each hold a different view of the state’s economy.

Will David Smith win a third term running against Sarah Henry in a light blue district?” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Redistricting put Rep. Smith in a Democrat-leaning district where the bulk of voters had never seen his name on the ballot. Can he beat Henry in House District 38? The Winter Springs Republican was first elected in 2018 and has built a reservoir of respect within the Legislature, where he serves as Vice Chair of the Public Integrity & Elections Committee. In the buildup to the Nov. 8 General Election, he has seen Attorney General Ashley Moody and Jimmy Patronis campaign for him. But the combat veteran has been blasted in the campaign over particular votes taken during his first two terms in the House.

Doug Bankson, Tiffany Hughes fight to represent divided HD 39” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — An Apopka City Commissioner and an NAACP leader face off in one of Florida’s most closely divided state House districts. The contest between Bankson and Hughes will be decided in the Nov. 8 General Election by voters in House District 39. That’s a jurisdiction which, as of the closing of voter rolls for the election, served as home to 41,711 Democrats and 41,680 Republicans, a margin of just 31 voters. Another 34,231 no-party voters live in the district as well, along with 2,162 voters registered with third parties.

Carolina Amesty, Allie Braswell attack political positions, business backgrounds in HD 45” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — House District 45 may be home to the happiest place on earth, but the political discourse hardly leaves that impression. The race to represent the purple Magic Kingdom district has seen allegations fly about business history, unpopular political opinions and other less-than-happy thoughts. Republican Amesty faces Democrat Braswell in the open contest. Redistricting so shook up districts in Central Florida that it’s hard to compare this closely divided seat to any district in place for the last decade. But it contains substantial parts of a jurisdiction represented by Democratic Rep. Geraldine Thompson, now a Senator-elect for Senate District 15. Vehicles wrapped with political signage promoting Amesty line the roadsides throughout the district, which covers portions of Orange and Osceola counties.

Fentrice Driskell heads into re-election with confidence” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Driskell can likely head into her re-election bid with confidence, as she faces Republican newcomer Lisette Bonano for North Tampa House District 67, an overwhelmingly blue seat. In May, Driskell was unanimously elected to lead House Democrats for the 2022-24 term. Driskell, a lawyer, will be the first Black woman to lead the Caucus if she is re-elected. Driskell was first elected to the House in 2018, defeating then-incumbent Republican Shawn Harrison by 7 points. She has since held on to the seat with ease, running unopposed in 2020.

Linda Chaney faces challenger Janet Varnell Warwick for Treasure Island district” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — First-term state Rep. Chaney almost glided into re-election in June. But after spending most of the pre-qualifying period unopposed, the incumbent Republican picked up a General Election opponent, lawyer Janet Varnell Warwick. The two are facing off in House District 61, which covers the southwestern Pinellas County communities of Gulfport, Treasure Island and St. Pete Beach. The district mirrors that of former House District 69, which Chaney took in 2020 from then-incumbent Democrat Jennifer Webb. Webb secured just 48% of the vote to Chaney‘s 52%. Now, Warwick is trying to take the seat back for Democrats.

Can Linda Chaney keep HD 61 in the red?

Tiffany Esposito brings business experience in HD 77 race against Eric Engelhart” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — The once-in-a-decade redistricting process gives east Lee County a dedicated state Representative for the first time. Voters will decide whether the new House District 77 will be led by Esposito, a local Chamber of Commerce executive, or Engelhart, a community activist. The General Election contest has been low-key, as expected in a district where 56.01% of voters went for Trump in the last Presidential Election and just 43.09% supported Biden. Esposito in August came out on top in a Republican Primary with Fox Business pundit Ford O’Connell. Now, the president of SWFL Inc. brings her message to a general electorate.

— STATEWIDE —

Hurricane, storm surge watches issued as Subtropical Storm Nicole targets Florida” via Cheryl McCloud of The Palm Beach Post — The National Hurricane Center has issued hurricane and storm surge watches for most of Florida’s East Coast. Subtropical Storm Nicole is still moving northwest at 9 mph. The storm, which formed northeast of the Bahamas early Monday morning, is now expected to be at or near hurricane strength by Wednesday evening before making landfall somewhere along Florida’s East Coast. Current estimates put Nicole’s winds at 75 mph within 60 hours, making it a Category 1 hurricane. A storm becomes a hurricane when sustained winds hit 74 mph.

Black voters in Florida express fear, confusion as DeSantis election laws kick in” via Lori Rozsa of The Washington Post — Tuesday will mark the first major election in Florida since the legislature pushed through changes impacting voting in the Sunshine State. Voter advocates say the laws disproportionately impact Black voters, making it harder for many to vote and have created an environment of confusion and fear. Voters can deliver ballots for immediate family members, but there are new forms to fill out and some worry that even a small mistake could result in a fine or an arrest. It is now illegal to turn in more than two ballots that don’t belong to a close relative. There are new restrictions for organizations that help register voters.

Black voters in Florida don’t know what to make of the new rules.

Eight Florida School Board races to watch on Election Day” via Kathryn Varn of the Tallahassee Democrat — School Board races, usually sleepy and with marginal turnout, might be the most hotly contested elections in Florida this year. DeSantis is far outpolling his competitor, Crist. Races for Congress, as well as the state Legislature, are similarly noncompetitive, thanks in large part to a politicized redistricting process that tilted control toward Republicans. That, coupled with a conservative effort to focus on education policy that began during the COVID-19 pandemic, have placed nonpartisan School Boards at the center of controversy.

‘Don’t Say Gay’ lawsuit refiled — A federal lawsuit challenging the state’s parental rights law restricting classroom instruction on gender and sexuality has been refiled. As reported by Andrew Atterbury of POLITICO Florida, the renewed challenge comes after the courts last month dismissed the suit on the grounds that the plaintiffs — a consortium of parents, students and advocacy organizations — had not established standing to challenge the law. The refiled lawsuit contends that the law, which critics call ‘Don’t Say Gay,’ violates the group’s freedom of speech, due process and equal protection rights.

State orders average 8.4% reduction in workers’ compensation rates” via Christine Jordan Sexton of Florida Politics — David Altmaier, the state’s top insurance regulator, announced he issued a final order approving the proposed 8.4% average reduction in rates requested by the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) this Summer. “For the sixth consecutive year, Florida businesses will see a reduction in workers’ compensation rates — which also means lower insurance costs for employers,” Altmaier said, referring to the final order he issued on Nov. 4. “We look forward to another year of rate relief for Florida businesses.” The rate decrease applies to both new and renewed workers’ compensation insurance policies effective in Florida as of Jan. 1, 2023. The move was heralded by business interests on Monday.

‘Tripledemic’ of COVID-19, RSV and flu in Florida this winter? ‘Do not panic,’ doctors say” via Chris Persauh of the Palm Beach Post — A respiratory virus is on the rise in Florida as winter flu season looms, and at least one major urban area in the state is seeing signs of a steady rise in COVID-19, but doctors say not to panic yet. Hospitals across the state are seeing a growing number of patients with RSV, a respiratory illness that most often causes mild cold-like symptoms and spreads mostly among children in the fall or winter each year. It can be serious, however, for some older adults and infants, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Headlines from national news outlets have warned of a “tripledemic” of COVID-19, RSV and flu.

Gas prices jump by double digits as tax holiday ends” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — Florida’s average gas prices increased by 17 cents in the last week, landing at $3.46 a gallon on Sunday. In the AAA weekly briefing on Monday, industry experts linked the sharp increases to the end of Florida’s monthlong gas tax holiday ending on November 1. “With the reinstatement of Florida’s gas tax, the state average gas price has rebounded to its highest level since Sept. 10,” said AAA spokesperson Mark Jenkins.

— D.C. MATTERS —

As Midterms near, Joe Biden faces a nation as polarized as ever” via Peter Baker of The New York Times — Before heading into a community center for a campaign rally the other day, President Biden stopped to speak to the overflow crowd that could not squeeze into the small facility. As often happens whenever Biden finds a microphone and a willing audience, his family made a cameo appearance. This time it was his long-dead grandparents. “Every time I’d walk out of my grandpop’s house, he’d yell, ‘Joey, keep the faith,’” the President recounted. “My grandmother would yell, ‘No, Joey, spread it.’ Go spread the faith.” Biden has been spreading the faith across the country in recent days, undaunted by the polls and prognosticators forecasting a devastating defeat for his party in Tuesday’s Midterm Elections.

Joe Biden’s America is as divided as ever.

Biden closes the election with a big roll of the dice” via Jonathan Lemire of POLITICO — Biden has dramatically raised the stakes of the Midterm Elections, declaring, as part of the campaign’s close, that democracy itself is on the ballot. Come January, he may find himself needing to govern with those he’s cast as democracy’s threats. Tuesday’s Midterm Elections will likely dramatically shape Biden’s next two years in office. Republican victories would almost certainly ensnarl the President’s agenda, trigger a slew of investigations and impact Biden’s 2024 re-election decision. But Biden himself has made the case that the stakes on Tuesday are not just about his party’s ability to maintain power and further his agenda. He has argued that U.S. governance itself is at risk.

High-ranking Biden administration officials traveling to Havana amid migration crisis” via Nora Gámez Torres of the Miami Herald — Two high-ranking Biden administration officials will travel to Havana this week to discuss migration issues, just days after survivors of a speedboat with Cuban migrants heading to the United States said the Cuban Coast Guard rammed their vessel, killing seven passengers. The trip of the State Department’s Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs Rena Bitter and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ur Mendoza Jaddou to Havana is the highest-level visit of U.S. officials to the island since Biden took office, a State Department spokesperson said. The State Department said both officials would discuss with their Cuban counterparts the full resumption of immigrant visa processing in early 2023.

Rick Scott sides with candidates complaining about voting irregularities” via A.G. Gancarski of Florida Politics — “If a candidate believes that something is wrong, they have got to be able to tell people that somebody ought to look at that. I think it’s very important. We’re going to make sure that happens,” Scott, the Chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said on the Fox News Channel Monday. “The Republican National Committee’s going to make that happen. The National Republican Congressional Committee’s going to make sure that happens.” Host Harris Faulkner noted regarding so-called “election deniers” that in 48 states, Republicans who doubt the legitimacy of the 2020 Presidential Election are on the ballot this year. Scott did not dispute that point.

DOJ to monitor voting sites in these Florida counties” via Chloe Folmar of The Hill — The Justice Department announced on Monday that it would monitor election sites in 24 different states around the country on Tuesday to ensure compliance with voting rights laws. “Since the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Civil Rights Division has regularly monitored elections in the field in jurisdictions around the country to protect the rights of voters,” wrote the DOJ in a statement. The department will monitor voting sites in 64 jurisdictions across 24 states. The Civil Rights Division of the DOJ also announced that it will accept public complaints through its call center concerning possible violations of voting rights laws.

— EPILOGUE TRUMP —

Trump spooks GOP with talk of presidential launch on eve of vote” via Isaac Arnsdorf and Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post — Trump told people close to him Monday that he might announce his candidacy at a rally scheduled for Monday night in Ohio, according to three people familiar with the discussions who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe confidential conversations, prompting a chain of phone calls from party leaders who have tried for months to keep him from announcing until after the Midterms. Some of his advisers began communicating to others Monday that efforts needed to be made to talk him out of announcing, two of these people said, while other advisers were egging him on to jump in.

Donald Trump gives the GOP a post-Halloween scare.

Expected Trump indictment looms over Midterm Election” via Alexander Bolton of The Hill — Republican lawmakers in both the Senate and the House are warning they will put up a staunch defense of Trump if the Department of Justice announces an indictment, which some GOP aides and strategists expect to come in the first 60 to 90 days after Election Day. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is already warning that GOP lawmakers could use their power of the purse to reign in the Justice Department if prosecutors indict Trump, which he says would be using law enforcement authority as a political weapon. If an indictment of Trump does come before mid-December, Justice Department funding likely would become a political football as congressional leaders work to pass legislation to fund the government for the next year.

Trump appeals order appointing monitor to oversee his company” via Chris Dolmetsch of Bloomberg — Trump appealed a judge’s decision to have an independent monitor review many of his company’s business activities until New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit alleging fraudulent asset valuations is resolved. New York state Judge Arthur Engoron last week granted James’ request for such a monitor as part of an order blocking the Trump Organization from issuing financial statements that don’t disclose the “assumptions and techniques” used to value its assets or from transferring or disposing of assets without court approval.

— LOCAL: S. FL —

‘Threat is increasing for South Florida’: Counties under state of emergency ahead of potential Hurricane Nicole” via Robin Webb, Lois K. Solomon and Angie DiMichele of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Just weeks before the end of the 2022 hurricane season, South Florida could feel the impacts of potential Hurricane Nicole, and experts said that the threat to the region is increasing. DeSantis issued a state of emergency in 34 Florida counties, including Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach, on Monday out of an abundance of caution as Nicole, a subtropical storm, is forecast to strengthen and potentially make landfall as a Category 1 hurricane by midweek. Coastal flood statements and hurricane, tropical storm and storm surge watches went up along Florida’s east coast Monday morning, and officials are urging Floridians to prepare now and stay vigilant.

Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin school districts closing Wednesday, Thursday for storm” via Colleen Wixon of Treasure Coast Newspapers — All three Treasure Coast school districts have canceled classes two days before Subtropical Storm Nicole could potentially threaten the Treasure Coast. Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin County school districts all will close Wednesday and Thursday, the districts said in statements Monday afternoon. All district operations, athletics and activities also are canceled. Schools and offices in all three counties were already scheduled to be closed Friday for Veterans Day. School districts plan to begin storm preparation Tuesday by installing shutters on facilities and removing debris that could become projectiles during the storm.

Republicans cast more ballots than Democrats in Miami-Dade County as early voting ends” via Bianca Padró Ocasio of the Miami Herald — Republican voters cast more ballots than Democrats in Miami-Dade County during the early-voting period that ended Sunday evening, yet another sign that the GOP may claim Florida’s most populous county for the first time in two decades during Tuesday’s Midterm Elections. As of Sunday evening, about 180,000 Republicans and 174,000 Democrats had voted either by mail or in person in Miami-Dade. Another 112,000 ballots were cast by voters who either have no party affiliation or are registered to minor parties.

An ominous sign for Democrats: The GOP snags the lead in Miami-Dade early voting.

Four runoffs for Broward School Board in wake of grand jury suspensions” via Anne Geggis of Florida Politics — The balance of power on the Broward County School Board is on the line and who wins the at large seat up for grabs Tuesday might not be the person who takes the seat. No other elected Board in the state has experienced quite the level of tumult this past year as the one that governs the sixth-largest school district in the country. One of the candidates that voters will consider Tuesday has been suspended from current service on the Board, and it’s unclear whether she would be suspended again if she wins Tuesday’s runoff.

Retired Miami Beach police officer is arrested on domestic violence charges” via Aaron Leibowitz of the Miami Herald — A Miami Beach police sergeant who retired earlier this year and was serving as a reserve officer was arrested Thursday on domestic violence charges. Jeffrey Motola, 49, was arrested by Miami police and charged with domestic battery by strangulation, a third-degree felony, as well as misdemeanor charges of battery and assault. Miami Beach police spokesperson Ernesto Rodriguez told the Miami Herald that Motola has been removed from the department’s reserve officer program because of his arrest. The charges relate to an alleged incident in October 2021, in which Motola’s ex-girlfriend says Motola grabbed her by the neck and dragged her across their apartment during an argument.

Conflicts of interest, cronyism at SFRTA, Tri-Rail’s operator, amid furtive renewal of costly lobbying contract” via Dan Christensen of Florida Bulldog — The governing board of the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, operator of Tri-Rail commuter service, ditched staff plans to seek bids for lobbying services and instead rehired its longtime lobbyist amid apparent cronyism, conflicts of interest and possibly wasteful spending. Among the SFRTA board members who voted to derail seeking bids and renew lobbyist Candice Ericks’s expiring $246,000-a-year contract was Ericks’s own boss, Tripp Scott co-founder, fellow TSE lobbyist, and SFRTA Vice Chair James (Jim) Scott. The 16-month renewal is worth $328,000.

Is it time Jupiter creates a fire department? Town ponders switch from Palm Beach County Fire Rescue” via Julius Whigham II of The Palm Beach Post — Citing concerns over the potential costs of a new contract for fire-rescue services, Jupiter officials are considering whether to remain with Palm Beach County Fire Rescue or create the town’s own fire department. Jupiter is among the largest municipalities in the county without its own fire department. It has used Palm Beach County Fire Rescue since 1984, when that agency was formed through the consolidation of existing fire districts. Fire Rescue serves more than half the county, including most of the western communities.

— LOCAL: C. FL —

Threat of flooding from Subtropical Storm Nicole forces local emergency officials to prepare” via Martin E. Comas, Ryan Gillespie and Natalia Jaramillo of the Orlando Sentinel — Central Florida emergency officials on Monday said they are preparing for Subtropical Storm Nicole to dump several inches of rain this week, particularly in areas where floodwaters from Hurricane Ian just recently began to recede. “No one wants to hear that, but that is what it looks like as of today,” said Alan Harris, director of Seminole’s Office of Emergency Management. “Each forecast has gotten a little worse for us here.” Seminole and the rest of Central Florida counties as of Monday afternoon are under a tropical storm watch. In Orange County, forecasts show estimates of between four and six inches of rain.

Subtropical Storm Nicole not expected to impact Brevard elections, official says” via Eric Rogers of Florida Today — Brevard County voters will have a lot to concern themselves with at the polls on Tuesday, but the approaching Subtropical Storm Nicole is not one of them, the Brevard Supervisor of Elections office said Monday. While elections officials encouraged people to vote early last week in advance of the potential forecast, a spokesperson said the storm is not expected to have any impact on Election Day. “Other than encouraging people to bring an umbrella or a raincoat, we aren’t worried about the storm at this point,” said Kimberly Boelzner, communications director for the supervisor’s office.

Port Canaveral evacuation order issued because of Subtropical Storm Nicole” via Dave Berman of Florida Today — Port Canaveral on Monday afternoon ordered an evacuation of ships in port that are less than 500 tons, because of the approach of Subtropical Storm Nicole. The National Hurricane Center has issued a hurricane watch affecting the waters of Port Canaveral. The storm is projected to make landfall late Wednesday or early Thursday morning along Florida’s east coast. In a statement, the port said: “Port Canaveral is not suitable for refuge during a hurricane. All vessels under 500 gross tons may not remain in the waters of Port Canaveral.” Meanwhile, the U.S. Coast Guard captain of the port has set “Port Condition Whiskey” for Port Canaveral.

Port Canaveral does not offer a safe harbor for ships in Tropical Storm Nicole.

Potential Hurricane Nicole could threaten Artemis I rocket on launchpad” via Richard Tribou of the Orlando Sentinel — NASA made the decision to roll out its Artemis I rocket to the launchpad at Kennedy Space Center aiming for liftoff as early as next Monday, but what is now Subtropical Storm Nicole is predicted to transform and grow into Hurricane Nicole by Wednesday, and that could affect launch plans. While currently subtropical, meaning it’s getting its energy, not from warm tropical waters, but from the difference in pressure and temperature from an approaching high-pressure system to the north of Florida, the National Hurricane Center predicts it will transition to a tropical system and become a Category 1 hurricane by Wednesday as it approaches Florida’s coast.

Harry Cohen braces for 2020 rematch in Hillsborough Commission race” via Kelly Hayes of Florida Politics — Cohen is facing a familiar challenger this Election Day. The Democratic incumbent is seeking re-election for the District 1 seat after wrapping up his first term on the Commission. And, just like his first run, he faces Scott Levinson for what’s a rematch of 2020. In that prior race, Cohen only beat Levinson by 1.4 percentage points. But Cohen has a slight advantage this time around. Redistricting has changed the partisan makeup of Hillsborough County Commission District 1. Now, the district leans blue, with Democrats outnumbering Republicans by about 12,500 voters.

Volusia GOP, split over Jeff Brower’s slate, take fight to Florida Elections Commission” via Mark Harper of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — A top party official filed a complaint with the Florida Elections Commission, putting on full display a chasm among Volusia County Republicans. Volusia GOP State Committeeman Vic Baker said he mailed the complaint to Tallahassee on Saturday, alleging that a political action committee associated with County Council Chair Jeff Brower’s “Volusia Values” slate of candidates “has violated numerous sections” of state election law. The complaint is made against Russ Moulton, an Ormond Beach businessman who’s been outspoken against Volusia County property-tax increases. Moulton set up Floridians for Affordability in Real Estate and Sales Tax, or the “Fairest PAC,” in July 2021.

Rent-control advocates, foes keep up campaigns despite court ruling nullifying measure” via Stephen Hudak of the Orlando Sentinel — Though Orange County’s proposed rent-cap ordinance appears doomed by recent court rulings, advocates spent the weekend campaigning for the hotly disputed ballot measure, singing songs and encouraging tenants to go to the polls and vote for it anyway. “No matter what happens in court, our votes will show how urgent the problem is and create pressure on politicians and employers to take action,” Ella Wood of labor union UNITE HERE said in a text. Landlord groups, who won the latest round in court, also haven’t stopped campaigning. “The Florida Apartment Association’s members are multifamily housing experts and keenly aware of the disastrous impacts and dangers of rent control,” spokesperson Chip Tatum said in an email Monday.

Political campaign-sign recycling project grows from Volusia to Seminole, Orange counties” via Mark Harper of The Daytona Beach News-Journal — The next time you drive past a patch of political yard signs, in a matter of weeks, many of them will be reduced to a recyclable resin. A sign reuse project that started in Volusia County in 2018 has now expanded to Seminole and Orange counties, and this year will involve an Orlando-based company that claims to clean and transform signs into material that can then be used to make new signs or food containers, carpet, auto parts, anything made of polypropylene (plastic No. 5).

Recycling yard signs are growing in popularity.

Brevard County religious institutions walk fine line when it comes to politics” via Tyler Vazquez and Dave Berman of Florida Today — In church common areas across the Space Coast over the last several months, it was not unusual to see tables and nooks festooned with flyers brandishing the smiling faces of Republican Party candidates, placed next to postcards celebrating the “Ivey League,” Sheriff Wayne Ivey’s picks for local offices in the 2022 election. Among the local churches with political flyers in their lobby is the Church on the Rock in Melbourne. Tony Hauck, senior pastor with the church, said he is aware the flyers in the foyer of his church can be skewed, depending on who compiles them, but congregants are ultimately going to make their own choices.

— LOCAL: SW. FL —

Nicole could bring tropical storm force winds to Sarasota-Manatee after Atlantic landfall” via Earle Kimel of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — Subtropical Storm Nicole, the center of which was still more than 800 miles east-southeast of Tampa late Monday morning, is projected to make landfall on the Atlantic coast of Florida near Palm Beach County Wednesday night as a Category 1 Hurricane. The National Hurricane Center has issued hurricane and storm surge watches for most of Florida’s East Coast. Gov. DeSantis on Monday declared a state of emergency for 34 counties in the storm’s potential path, including Charlotte, Manatee and Sarasota. “While this storm does not, at this time, appear that it will become much stronger, I urge all Floridians to be prepared and to listen to announcements from local emergency management officials,” DeSantis said.

Cape Coral debris pickup from Ian continues as Subtropical Storm Nicole approaches” via Luis Zambrano of the Fort Myers News-Press — After hurricane Ian’s landfall in late September, Cape Coral suffered massively, with almost every structure experiencing some damage. The city also experienced water and power restoration issues with the latter taking more time to get completely restored. Now as Subtropical Storm Nicole approaches Florida’s east coast its possible impacts on Cape Coral are being closely monitored. On the city’s Facebook page, the fire department said the city is monitoring the situation with Nicole. “While this storm isn’t expected to have a large impact on Cape Coral and the SWFL region, it is likely we will see heavy rainfall mid-late week,” the post said.

As Hurricane Ian’s cleanup continues, here comes Nicole.

Lee County monitoring possible approach of Nicole” via Bill Smith of the Fort Myers News-Press — Lee County officials are keeping an eye on the development of Subtropical Storm Nicole on its expected trek across Florida and will keep the county’s Emergency Operations Center operating as it has since Hurricane Ian hit the county in late September. In the wake of Ian, contractors have been removing piles of debris left curbside throughout the county and bringing them to designated dumping facilities. That work will continue to minimize the amount of material that may be blown about if Nicole brings strong winds and heavy rain to Southwest Florida. The Emergency Operations Center on Ortiz Boulevard has been in operation since Hurricane Ian began taking the course that became a direct and destructive hit on the county.

Lee County voters weigh whether to elect or appoint Superintendent” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Lee County voters on Tuesday will decide whether to have another school district official elected in the future. A referendum will decide if Lee County voters in the future will elect Superintendents or leave the hiring and firing to the School Board. The Lee County legislative delegation voted unanimously more than a year ago for a local bill putting the issue to vote, and the Legislature later approved the measure. Rep. Spencer Roach said the push to do so came as much as anything from a decision last year to put a mask mandate in place despite an executive order announced by DeSantis in Lee County forbidding such restrictions.

Hurricane fraud wave expected in Southwest Florida as insurance, assistance starts to arrive” via Derrick Gilliam of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — FEMA has approved more than $45.4 million in aid to Sarasota County alone. Another $55.5 million is approved in Charlotte County and $11 million in Manatee. The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation estimates the value of insured losses in the state from Hurricane Ian at $8.4 billion as of Nov. 2. The last thing these people need is to fall victim to hurricane-related fraud. Experts say that with so much work to be done on so many properties in the area, some people are likely to believe a stranger promising impossible timelines at impossible prices who will then disappear right after accepting payment.

School Board charges Manatee County $120,000 over Hurricane Ian storm debris ballyhoo” via Jesse Mendoza of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune — The School Board of Manatee County has sent a $120,000 bill to Manatee County for using a future high school site in Lakewood Ranch to dispose of Hurricane Ian storm debris without permission. County officials refuse to pay it. The property is not scheduled to be used in the next several years, and County Commissioners say they had verbal agreements with school district leadership during rapid response actions taken during Hurricane Ian to use the school property as a temporary disposal site for storm debris.

Venice High School coach on leave over conduct with students” via Bob Mudge of the Venice Gondolier — A Venice High School assistant football coach is on leave pending the results of an internal investigation into allegations he inappropriately touched two students. The students, who are siblings, have since graduated. Brian Ryals is in his fourth year with VHS, coaching quarterbacks this season. He holds a “supplemental” position with the district, according to Athletic Director Pete Dombroski. Dombroski referred additional inquiries to district officials. Ryals receives a coaching stipend but is not a district employee, spokesperson Kelsey Whealy said via email. He is not currently coaching, she said. Venice Police Capt. Eric Hill said the department received a referral from the Sarasota County Schools Police Department that Ryals had allegedly engaged in inappropriate conduct with two students.

Bob Rommel says Bayfront Bistro is back in business” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — When Hurricane Ian devastated Fort Myers Beach, it closed a restaurant owned by a prominent Southwest Florida lawmaker. But more than a month after the storm, state Rep. Rommel said Bayfront Bistro is back in business. The Naples Republican announced the reopening. The restaurant reopened its doors on Nov. 7, the day before the Midterm Election. “This is a challenging time for the Fort Myers community, but we continue to work tirelessly to repair damages so that people can get back on their feet,” Rommel said. “It is encouraging to see Floridians join together at a time like this, and I am proud of the progress we have made.”

Bayfront Bistro is back!

— LOCAL: N. FL —

Walton County referendum would levy one-cent sales tax for traffic infrastructure” via Devon Ravine of the Northwest Florida Daily News — If it’s one thing most people can agree on, it’s that driving in South Walton County can be an unpleasant experience, especially during tourist season. But it seems that that’s where the consensus ends. Voters in Walton County are being asked in Tuesday’s election if they want to approve a one-cent sales surtax in order to pay for improving transportation infrastructure throughout the county.

John Dailey-Kristin Dozier showdown in Tallahassee Mayor race splits Democrats” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — The Tallahassee Mayor’s race between Dailey and Dozier is a local election that will hinge on local issues, but the result could have implications for the Democratic Party at the state level. Dailey was elected in 2018 after serving on the Leon County Commission for the previous 12 years. Dozier is a sitting Leon County Commissioner and has served on that panel since 2010, overlapping Dailey’s tenure. Dailey’s support for new developments has gained him support from builders and local business groups, and Florida Democratic Party Chair Manny Diaz announced his endorsement of Dailey last month.

The mayoral race splits Democrats in Tallahassee — and statewide.

Nick Maddox looks to fend off challenger Josh Johnson, retain Leon Commission seat for fourth term” via Gray Rohrer of Florida Politics — Maddox’s bid for a fourth consecutive term on the Leon County Commission took a hit when sexual harassment allegations at the Boys and Girls Club where he was executive director surfaced. But despite the allegations from a former employee, first reported by the Tallahassee Democrat, Maddox was the top vote-getter in the Primary, winning 43% of the vote. However, because he failed to get 50% in a four-way contest, he was forced into a runoff with Josh Johnson, the second-place finisher in the Primary with 31%. Rudy Ferguson Sr. received 16% and Dominique Zumbo received 10%.

Federal appeals court denies Jacksonville’s motion for stay in redistricting case” via David Bauerlein and Hanna Holthaus of the Florida Times-Union — A federal appeals court denied Jacksonville’s motion for a stay late Monday afternoon on its battle over redistricting. The stay would have potentially allowed the city to use the voting lines decided last March in upcoming elections while the city continues to fight a federal judge’s ruling that those lines were racially gerrymandered. The city asked the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to clamp a stay on an order U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard issued Oct. 12 that tossed a redistricting map City Council approved in March.

Former JEA executives ask federal judge to toss conspiracy, wire fraud indictment” via Nate Monroe of the Florida Times-Union — Defense lawyers for former JEA CEO Aaron Zahn and finance chief Ryan Wannemacher asked U.S. District Judge Brian Davis on Monday to dismiss the grand jury indictment against them on conspiracy and wire fraud, arguing that federal prosecutors may have a flimsy case of good-government-gone-bad but no evidence of any actual crimes. The pair was indicted in March, accused of concocting a scheme to enrich themselves by skimming millions of dollars off the top of a potential sale of JEA to a private operator, a plan the two were leading throughout 2019.

Impact 100 Pensacola Bay Area is world’s largest chapter, with an impact to match” via Kamal Morgan of the Pensacola News Journal — For roughly 20 years, Impact 100 groups all over the globe have been pooling their money together and donating it to worthy nonprofits. And arguably, no one chapter has had a greater impact on their local nonprofits than Impact 100 Pensacola Bay Area, which has awarded 142 grants totaling over $15 million to charitable organizations in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. To celebrate the achievements of Pensacola and other Impact 100 organizations around the world, Impact 100 founder Wendy Steel visited Pensacola to celebrate the organization’s 2022 Global Day of Impact.

UWF’s Pensacola campus is a unique ecosystem. This professor works to protect and study it” via Tom McLaughlin of the Pensacola News Journal — It was a simple walk across the University of West Florida’s manicured campus that brought Professor Frank Gilliam to what might be considered a professional epiphany. “I was amazed, especially by the trees. And most especially by the longleaf pines,” he said. “The campus had me at ‘longleaf.’” Working with approximately 11 students, Gilliam has, since 2020, published four studies centered on the UWF ecosystem. They have thus far focused primarily on the habitat of the longleaf pine and the gopher tortoise, two species that play a unique and vital role in shaping and maintaining a uniquely southern ecosystem.

UWF offers some fascinating foliage.

A ‘big party’: Sneak peek inside the Tallahassee REI Co-Op as the grand opening draws near” via TaMaryn Waters of the Tallahassee Democrat — REI Co-Op will soon open its first store in Tallahassee. Buzz has been building for months. Located at the Market Square Shopping Plaza on Timberlane Road, curious onlookers could be seen creeping past the store’s tall glass door in search of progress inside. On Nov. 11, the wait is over. REI is hosting a festive grand opening to welcome members familiar with the specialty outdoor retailer and introduce itself to potential customers who love nature at any level. The grand opening rollout takes place with doors opening at 9 a.m. Nov. 11 and Nov. 12 and 11 a.m. Nov. 13. REI will have giveaways each day while supplies last. An outdoor social is scheduled every afternoon from 1 to 5 p.m. with music, nonprofits and outdoor brands.

— TOP OPINION —

The Trump-DeSantis feud just got worse. A hidden factor is driving it.” via Greg Sargent of The Washington Post — With the two men holding competing rallies in Florida over the weekend, The New York Times reports that Trump is irritated with DeSantis’ challenge to his dominance.

In a bizarre turn, the Times also reports that Trump’s “DeSanctimonious” barb was an angry reaction to a new ad from DeSantis, which presents the Florida Governor as a divinely anointed figure.

“On the eighth day,” DeSantis’s ad intones, “God looked down on his planned paradise and said: ‘I need a protector.’ So God made a fighter.”

It’s amusing that this is what triggered Trump’s anger — only he can be the anointed one, of course — but this has more significance than it appears. It shows Trump grasps the religiously inspired nature of large swathes of his support, and why DeSantis might pose a real threat to him.

DeSantis seems to be speaking to the Christian nationalist or evangelical base’s craving for a divinely infused candidate who promises to use the power of the presidency to block the nation’s slide into demographic, moral, cultural and secular ruin.

DeSantis is definitely setting himself up to be Trump’s most viable rival by positioning himself as the next anointed leader who will take on the left by using state power to fight these battles. This could give him a real chance of cutting into Trump’s support.

— OPINIONS —

This is not a normal election. Voters should keep that in mind.” via The Washington Post editorial board — As Tuesday’s Midterm Elections approach, Americans seemingly cannot agree on anything, except that they cannot agree. A new poll shows that Americans are virtually unanimous in their worry that severe political divisions have increased the risk of politically motivated violence. Nearly 9 in 10 reported they are somewhat or very concerned. There is no need to overstate the threat; widespread early voting has so far proceeded mostly without incident, and it is imperative that Americans are not scared away from the polls. That requires leaders at all levels of government to assure that voting and vote-counting proceed smoothly.

Stretching the truth for political gain” via the South Sun-Sentinel editorial board — Some candidates for public office are so eager to have the Sun-Sentinel’s editorial endorsement, they suggest to voters that they have it when they don’t. Thanks for the compliment. But we’re going to set the record straight. In Pompano Beach, two-term District 3 Commissioner Tom McMahon has a fight on his hands from first-time candidate Alison Fournier. We endorsed McMahon two years ago against weak opposition, but times have changed. McMahon has cast controversial votes and Fournier is an energetic and well-prepared alternative to more of the same.

Elon Musk’s Twitter is a safe space for bros who think they’re funny” via Monica Hesse of The Washington Post — As the new owner of Twitter, Musk seems to view himself as not just a fan of comedy but also as a liberator of oppressed comedians. Earlier this year, when Twitter suspended the satirical Babylon Bee after it named a transgender woman from the Biden administration as its “Man of the Year,” Musk reached out to the Bee and “mused on that call that he might need to buy Twitter,” according to Seth Dillon, CEO of the Bee. After the sale finally happened, Musk posted: “Comedy is now legal on Twitter.” But if you spend several days scrolling through the thousands of responses to Musk’s promise of newly legal humor, what you find isn’t a lot of revolutionary jokes, but rather a lot of tired jokes.

— INSTAGRAM OF THE DAY —

— ALOE —

A total lunar eclipse is happening Tuesday — and it won’t happen again for three years” via Ayana Archie of NPR — A total lunar eclipse is happening Tuesday, and it might be a good time to catch a peek because the next one isn’t for three years. The initial phase of the eclipse begins at 3:02 a.m. ET. The partial eclipse then begins at 4:09 a.m. ET, when to the naked eye, it looks like a bite is being taken out of the moon. The lunar disk enters totality at 5:17 a.m. ET and will last for about an hour and a half. People in North America, Central America, Colombia, and western Venezuela and Peru will be able to see the eclipse in totality. Those in Alaska and Hawaii will be able to see all stages of the eclipse. For the best view, it is best to be in a dark area with little light pollution.

Florida State women’s soccer claims No. 1 overall seed in 2022 NCAA Tournament” via the Tallahassee Democrat — After finishing the season 13-2-3 and earning their ninth ACC Tournament Championship and third in a row, the Florida State soccer team was selected as the No. 1 overall seed in the 2022 NCAA Tournament. This is the 11th time in school history the Seminoles have been named a No. 1 seed and the fifth straight season. It is also the 18th straight season and 19th time overall that Florida State received a national seed in the NCAA Tournament. In addition to FSU’s 11 No. 1 seeds, the Seminoles have been a No. 2 seed four times, a No. 3 seed in both 2007 and 2016 and a No. 4 seed in 2017. The only other time the Seminoles received a national seed was in 2003 (11th).

FSU women’s soccer is seeded for a record.

American crocodiles are rare and one just showed up on a Florida beach, video shows” via Mark Price of the Bradenton Herald — A rarely seen American crocodile found its way ashore along Florida’s Treasure Coast, 160 miles north of Miami. It happened the first week of November in Indian River County, and video shows beachgoers were shaken when the 8-foot reptile decided to stick around. Only 1,500 to 2,000 adult crocodiles survive in southern Florida’s brackish swamps, so seeing one on a public beach is highly unusual.

— HAPPY BIRTHDAY —

Happy birthday to Leah Bickley, Frank Jimenez, General Counsel for GE Health Care, and Emily Sitzberger.

___

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

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