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Sunburn — The Morning Read Of What’s Hot In Florida Politics — 12.13.21

Santa arrives in a sweet ride. Image via U.S. Sugar.

By Peter Schorsch    

Good Monday morning.

Happy birthday Commissioner Fried. Image via Jason Delgado.

A top-of-Sunburn happy birthday shoutout to Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.


Gov. Ron DeSantis will spend Monday evening in Palm Beach helping Adam Laxalt raise cash for his bid to become Arizona’s next U.S. Senator.

A fundraiser invite lists Capital City Consulting co-founder Nick Iarossi as the organizer and DeSantis as a “special guest.”

Those looking to rub elbows with America’s Governor and a potential third-generation U.S. Senator should be prepared to cut a check for $5,800 to get in the door. Those looking to be named a “host” are expected to chip in double.

The fundraiser runs from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. The location is available with an RSVP.


Ron DeSantis’ first month of re-election campaign draws $1.5 million” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Starting with a $100,000 opening check from the Republican Party of Florida and including 11,000 other donations, DeSantis’ pulled in $1,490,429 to kick off his campaign. That’s on top of the $4,531,294 collected in November by his independent political committee, Friends of Ron DeSantis, which essentially has been running his re-election campaign until he formally filed to open an official account on Nov. 5. The $6 million month all but made a mockery of fundraising efforts by his Democratic rivals in the 2022 campaign. U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist collected a combined $805,000 for his campaign and political committee in November. Fried collected $216,000.


We are working on the ‘Lobby Up’ stories for the upcoming editions of our Sixty Days email and the legislative preview edition of INFLUENCE Magazine.

A good example of a Lobby Up story can be found by clicking here, where we discuss Smith Bryan and Myers representing Attenti Electronic Monitoring.

Is there a client sign-up you’d like us to mention?

Please email me at Peter@FloridaPolitics.com to discuss.


Google released its “Year in Search” last week, illuminating the top things the world looked for online over the past 12 months.

‘Doomscrolling’ was big in 2021.
‘Doomscrolling’ was big in 2021.

The results mirror the many dualities we’ve come to experience as normal. For example, searches for “doomscrolling” and “affirmations” both reached an all-time high worldwide this year. And national searches for “soulmates” hit an all-time high, but searches regarding “long-distance relationships” were at a five-year low.

Plumbers” have never been searched for more than they were in 2021, and searches for “Asian-owned” businesses were double the rate they were last year. “Body positivity” was also searched more in 2021 than ever before, as were “how to conserve” and “sustainability.”

President Joe Biden’s inauguration led to huge spikes in searches for “mittens” — thanks to Bernie Sanders’ meme-able moment — and in searches for “Amanda Gorman” following her breakout poetry reading.

These searches clearly reflect the mindset of Americans as the many political, cultural, and social phenomena of 2021 shook out.

But what about Florida?

Did residents of the Sunshine State follow these trends or deviate? What were the unique searches generated from within our borders, or curiosities about the state from the outside world?

To do that, we looked at top search terms, and the most trending search terms, generated by Florida internet users in several areas of life, such as entertainment, shopping, economy and finance, food, and travel.

In 2021, in Florida, the most trending search terms related to arts and entertainment were “Friday Night Funkin,’” followed by the film “Godzilla vs. Kong.”

The most trending vehicle in Florida was the “Kia Carnival,” and the most trending book search was for “Wheel of Time,” perhaps due to the November release of an Amazon Prime TV series based on the book. Searches for “Dr. Seuss books” also reached an all-time high in Florida this year, largely surrounding the ‘cancel culture’ controversy that unfolded when the icon’s publisher shelved six of his books, citing hurtful portrayals of race.

Trending economic searches were almost entirely focused on people trying to guess the timing of when “stimulus checks” would drop, while “Ethereum,” “Dogecoin” “cciv stock,” and “gme stock” dominated Floridian’s finance-related trending searches.

For food, Floridians searched more this year than prior for “crumbl cookies” and “White Castle Orlando,” and when it comes to television, searches for Spanish-language reality show “La Casa de los Famosos” rose the most.

Trending searches in Florida related to travel reveal an increased interest in “Disney World Annual Pass,” “Universal Studios,” and “Fort Lauderdale,” while top shopping-related searches fell to a few perennial favorites: “Walmart,” “Amazon,” and “Nike.”

That’s what Floridians were searching for, but what did outsiders search for related to the state?

National searches connected to Florida were dominated by queries on the Florida Lotto, the tragic Surfside condo collapse, and COVID-19 rates. Law and government-related searches about Florida were focused mostly on where to find “statutes” and information relating to the “Florida Bar,” while the most trending query about Florida in 2021 regards the “2022 Florida gubernatorial” election.

Worldwide, internet searcher interest in “Florida” was more vivid in some places than others. In South America, the highest volumes of searches for “Florida” were in Chile, Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, and Columbia. In Africa, people in Nigeria and South Africa had the highest volumes of searches for “Florida” while the greatest volume of “Florida” searches in Europe originated in the UK, Spain, and Italy. Vietnam, India, and the Philippines led Asian countries in “Florida” searches. And, in North America, Canadians searched for Florida at three times the rate as did people living in Mexico.

Finally, because one can’t help but wonder, for the search terms that dominated the nation in 2021, where in Florida did these patterns fall most closely?

Turns out that “doomscrolling” was searched for most in St. Petersburg and Tampa, while “affirmations” was searched for most in West Palm Beach. “Long-distance relationships” were on more people’s minds in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, but “soulmates” caught more attention in Gainesville than anywhere else in the state.

“Plumbers” were searched for the most in Panama City, followed by Pensacola, and max searches for “body positivity” were in St. Pete and Tampa.” Searches for “how to conserve” were highest in Orlando, while Gainesville internet users had the state’s highest interest in “sustainability.”

Back to inauguration-themed searches, the greatest volume of “Amanda Gorman” searches originated in West Palm Beach, while “mitten” searches were the highest in Jacksonville.

Finally, when it comes to COVID-19 related searches, Ft. Myers and Naples led with the greatest volume of searches for various terms, including “vaccine,” “monoclonal antibodies,” “Moderna,” and “booster.” “Pfizer” was searched for most in Miami, “Anthony Fauci” the most in West Palm Beach, “hydroxychloroquine” in Panama City, “ivermectin” the most in Pensacola.

If we’re lucky, no pandemic-related terms will dominate internet searches in 2022. Cheers that the next “Year in Search” be uplifting.


Lina Rojas is returning to her alma mater, but not as a student.

Lina Rojas makes a triumphant return to FSU.

Florida State University announced last week that it hired Rojas as the new legislative affairs manager in the university’s Office of Governmental Relations.

“We could not be more excited to have Lina join our team,” FSU Chief Legislative Officer Clay Ingram said. “Lina’s experience in the legislative and executive branches of state government along with her passion for higher education make her perfectly suited to serve as our Legislative Affairs Manager.”

Rojas comes to FSU from the Senate President’s Office, where she served most recently as a policy adviser to President Wilton Simpson. In her new role, she will work directly under Ingram to support the university’s government relations priorities.

“Lina has been a tremendous asset to the Florida Senate President’s Office, serving as a policy adviser for education and handling all of President Simpson’s appointments to boards and commissions. She has a special passion for higher education, which coupled with her knowledge of the legislative process will serve Florida State University very well,” said Kathy Mears, Simpson’s Chief of Staff and a former Chief Legislative Officer at FSU.

Rojas brings years of experience in the process. Before her time in the Senate President’s Office, she worked in the Florida Senate majority office where she crafted messaging for priority policy and legislative achievements.

Previously, she served five years in the Executive Office of the Governor under Govs. Rick Scott and DeSantis. During her time in the Governor’s Office, Rojas worked in External Affairs and the Office of Policy and Budget as the policy and budget analyst for the State University System.

A Miami native, Rojas was named one of Florida Politics “30 Under 30” rising stars in Florida politics. She earned her bachelor’s degree in international relations from FSU.


What’s the most popular Christmas decoration in Florida? The Christmas tree.

Maybe Florida isn’t scoring any points for originality — a bog-standard fir is the top decoration for a plurality of states. Still, a new survey from Lombardo Homes found the Sunshine State has more Christmas cheer than the average state.

According to the homebuilder, Florida ranked No. 15 in Google search volume for Christmas decorations — be they lights and wreaths or inflatable minions and rose gold feather boas.

The survey of 1,000 Americans found that lights and Nativity scenes were the second- and third-most-popular decorations of the season. And, for those wondering whether they’ve spent too much time on décor, the average non-Griswold spends about three hours decking the halls.

One interesting tidbit from the survey: The Grinch is a more popular decoration than Santa Claus. In Kentucky, the Grinch is the most popular decoration overall … we don’t know what that says about the Bluegrass State, but it probably isn’t good.

That might make Boris Karloff the most represented actor on lawns nationwide. He voiced Seuss’ grumpy green recluse in the animated Grinch specials and portrayed another grumpy green recluse, Frankenstein (or Frankenstein’s monster, for the pedants out there), which Lombardo Homes listed as a top Halloween decoration a couple of months back.

If you’re still calculating your decoration budget, the average American spends about $70 buying decorations. Sound steep? Worry not — if the Grinch taught us anything, it’s this: “Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more.”


Santa was catching some rays in South Florida before his worldwide tour, but, probably to Mrs. Claus’ chagrin, he clocked in for a few hours of work.

At least U.S. Sugar made his South Florida swing an easy one, sparing his bowl full of jelly and pack animals from some tough sledding through sugar country.

In partnership with the U.S. Marine Corps and Toys for Tots, the company fired up the Santa Express and helped Father Christmas fill it up with toys for kids throughout Glades, Highlands, Hendry, Palm Beach and Martin counties.

Santa arrives in a sweet ride. Image via U.S. Sugar.

The Santa Express — powered by historic steam engine No. 148 — made stops in Belle Glade, Clewiston, Moore Haven and Lake Placid. As the train rolled into each station, hundreds of children were able to see Santa up close and mingle with Mr. and Mrs. Claus. Throughout the day, children dropped off letters to Santa to take back to the North Pole.

“This is our second year operating the Santa Express, and we couldn’t be happier delivering these gifts to our friends and neighbors,” said Scott Ogle, operations manager for Sugar Express. “What a joy it was to see the smiles on the faces of so many local children and their parents.”

All told, Santa handed out more than 2,000 toys to children across the region. Better yet, Santa’s elves didn’t have to log any overtime, nor did the supply chain take on further burden — all of the toys provided were collected from local donations to Toys for Tots.

“Thanks to the generosity of the people of U.S. Sugar, hundreds of local children will know the joy of Christmas and receive gifts this year,” said Nardina Johnson, co-chair of Hendry County Toys for Tots. “We are extremely grateful for all of their support and for always being so involved in our community.”


Tweet, tweet:


@kkfla737Brian Williams and Chris Wallace in the same week. Ugh. Everything is changing.

@AnthonySabatini: Chris Wallace was a total hack — he won’t be missed

Tweet, tweet:


Tweet, tweet:


@Jon_E_Johnson: I sit here in a short-sleeve shirt. Unable to “officially” call fire pit season. To be clear. fire pit season means a several-week period where the temperatures permit a fire to be comfortably erected at any part of the day. So far … a no-go. we can hope

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FloridaPolitics, excerpt posted on  SouthFloridaReporter.comDec. 13, 2021

Republished with permission 


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