Good Tuesday morning.
It’s Election Day in Jacksonville
The electoral stakes are relatively low in the upcoming Jacksonville City Council Special Election for the seat vacated last year by the death of Tommy Hazouri.
Whether the winner is Republican Nick Howland or Democrat Tracye Polson, Republicans will still have supermajority control of the Council.
Yet for both sides of the aisle, this off-off-year election to fill one of 19 Council seats — for a little more than a year — has drawn significant interest from statewide players.
Gov. Ron DeSantis endorsed Howland, recording an eleventh-hour robocall for his campaign. In it, the Governor warns that Polson would “defund the police,” … an accusation Polson has challenged throughout the campaign. DeSantis weighed in after potential 2022 opponents Rep. Charlie Crist, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, and state Sen. Annette Taddeo came to town to campaign for Polson.
How will these statewide endorsements affect tonight’s outcome? For Democrat Polson, there may have been a boost in Early Voting.
By the end of Sunday — with the traditional “souls to the polls” outreach, which typically sees a Democratic voter push from Black churches — Democrats made up 47% of the turnout; Republicans were at 42%, and NPA and third-party voters made up the balance.
This election offers a unique opportunity for all gubernatorial candidates as the only citywide election between now and the August primary. However, the outcome could be more critical to DeSantis than his Democratic challengers.
Four years ago, DeSantis lost Duval County to Democrat Andrew Gillum, a precursor of the county going blue in 2020 and rejecting Donald Trump‘s re-election. Going into 2022, DeSantis would love to flip Duval; despite it being D+5 in registration down-ballot, Republicans still perform well.
Tuesday’s results in Duval are especially — worth watching as a test of where Republican branding stands with Jacksonville voters ahead of the 2022 General Election. The Governor’s endorsement suggests confidence in a Republican victory, as DeSantis positions himself to take credit for the win.
The 40th day of the 2022 Legislative Session has come and gone. Per the House and Senate rulebooks, which means many bills are, as Miracle Max would put it, mostly dead.
According to Senate rules, a bill (or its House companion) must be heard and approved by at least one committee to be considered by the full chamber. That rule can only be waived by unanimous vote by the full Senate.
Therein lies the significance of the 40th day. Under House Rule 7.15(b), lawmakers are no longer allowed to keep bills on life support via “reconsideration,” which allows committee members to keep a bill around that doesn’t appear to have enough support for passage.
Most House committees have already wrapped up their work for Session, and come Day 50, all Senate committees other than the Rules Committee are prohibited from holding a meeting. That makes for a bundle of mostly dead bills.
Of course, mostly dead doesn’t mean dead — it means slightly alive. That’s because the Senate President is still the ultimate judge. Among his powers: waiving the rule blocking committees from meeting.
Contentious bills setting up a 15-week abortion ban and restricting discussions of gender identity and sexual orientation in schools are expected to clear the Legislature this week, but a new poll shows Florida voters would rather lawmakers ditch both proposals.
The Public Opinion Research Lab at the University of North Florida asked Florida voters whether they supported the abortion ban or the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill and found both underwater — even when using phrasing that painted them in the best light.
Opposition to the abortion ban measured in at 57%. Half those polled were asked about the ban without being told there was no exception for rape or incest. Voters who heard that version of the question were against the bill 55-34%. Opposition climbed to 60% among voters informed of the lack of a carveout.
“Opposition to the abortion ban was five points higher with the ‘no exceptions’ version, but the fact that the responses weren’t terribly different speaks to the highly partisan and emotional nature of the abortion debate,” said Dr. Michael Binder, PORL faculty director and a UNF political science professor. “People tend to know where they stand on the issue and question-wording doesn’t change very many peoples’ minds.”
On the bill regarding school discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity, just under half of the voters (49%) opposed them compared to 40% who said they favored the bill.
“Support for the so-called ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill is only about 40%, despite it being passed in the state Senate last week,” Binder said. “When we break it down by party registration, we see 54% of Republicans supporting the bill, which is more in line with Florida’s Republican-controlled legislature.”
The UNF poll was conducted Feb. 7-20 via a mixture of cellphone and landline numbers. It has a sample size of 685 registered voters and a margin of error of plus or minus 3.74 percentage points.
The Southern Group was once again the top-earning lobbying firm in Florida last quarter, new compensation reports show.
Between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, the firm reported nearly $5.9 million in earnings. The haul includes $3.4 million earned lobbying the Legislature and $2.5 million lobbying the Governor, Cabinet and state agencies.
Established in 2000 by founder and chair Paul Bradshaw, The Southern Group has spent the past few years at or near the top of lobbying revenue rankings. Last year, however, was the first where TSG was the definitive No. 1 in each reporting period.
The new reports, which list nearly 300 clients, also represent an increase of $200,000 over The Southern Group’s estimated earnings for the third quarter.
As in Q3, the No. 2 spot belonged to Ballard Partners last quarter. The firm, founded by Brian Ballard, earned an estimated $5.1 million in Q4, including $3.1 million in legislative pay and $2 million in executive branch pay.
Capital City Consulting repeated as the No. 3 firm in overall earnings, logging an estimated $4.4 million in pay. CCC had a near-even split between its legislative and executive reports, which came in at $2.1 million and $2 million, respectively.
Ron Book and his lobbying partners maintained their No. 4 ranking with $2.7 million in pay. Considering team size, the reports submitted by Book, Rana Brown and Kelly Mallette consistently feature the highest per-lobbyist earnings in the state.
GrayRobinson was close behind, rounding out the Top 5 with a $2.2 million report. Led by firm president Dean Cannon, a former House Speaker, the GrayRobinson team represented 201 clients last quarter, earning an estimated $1.1 million in the Legislature and another $1.1 million in the executive branch.
Two weeks after Anfield Consulting announced its merger with Capitol Access and a new partner, Brett Cyphers, the firm is welcoming another new member.
Rosanna Catalano, who has decades of legal and legislative experience, will join the lobbying firm.
As a lobbyist at Capitol Access, Catalano worked with clients in multiple industries, including energy, health care, criminal justice, technology, aviation, local government, insurance, and transportation.
Previously, she served as the Executive Director of the Florida Elections Commission; an Associate Dean at Florida State University’s College of Law; an Assistant Attorney General in the Administrative Law Division; an Associate General Counsel for the Agency for Health Care Administration and Department of Health; a television news producer and show host for Florida’s News Channel; and an Assistant State Attorney in Florida’s 2nd and 17th Judicial Circuits.
“Rosanna’s diverse background will provide our clients with a unique perspective and skill set for solving problems, storytelling, and creating successful strategies,” Anfield partner Albert Balido said. “Beyond her experience with litigation and state procurement, Rosanna has cultivated an eclectic wealth of understanding on issues such as cryptocurrency, blockchain, virtual real estate, and other emerging technologies.”
Rosanna earned an undergraduate degree in telecommunications from Florida State University and a law degree from the University of Florida.
“We’re excited to welcome Rosanna to the team,” Anfield partner Frank Bernardino said. “She’ll offer continuity to clients previously with Capitol Access and extraordinary depth of knowledge to all of those in our circle.”
Welcome to the world — Jackson Ellis Ligas Ripple was born Feb. 18 to BCW Global’s Franco Ripple and Ashley Ligas, a partner at the Avenir Law Group. Everyone is doing well, and sons Evan and Carson are “beyond excited to be big brothers.”
Spotted — At the wedding reception for Nicole Gomez and Brian Goldmeier at the Loews Hotel in Miami Beach, music provided by DJ Irie: Sen. Shevrin Jones; Mayors Dan Gelber and Francis Suarez; Commissioners Angelo Castillo, Pepe Diaz, Oliver Gilbert; Kionne McGhee and David Richardson; State Attorney Dave Aronberg, Jon Adrabi, Gaby Castillo, Carlos Curbelo, José Félix Díaz, Cesar Fernandez, Greg Goddard, Alex Heckler, Chris Korge, Brian May, Alex Penelas, Stephanie Sass and Justin Sayfie.
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
— @RBReich: How about we nix Presidents Day and make Election Day a national holiday instead?
— @GovRonDeSantis: All Presidents are not created equal, and while we colloquially call today Presidents Day, the holiday is codified in law solely to commemorate (George) Washington’s Birthday. This is appropriate, as Washington is America’s indispensable man. Happy Birthday to the father of our country!
— @marcorubio: #PresidentsDay is a fake holiday, today is #WashingtonsBirthday Many schools no longer teach real history, so make sure your children know #GeorgeWashington was a great man, our greatest President & made life better for every American who ever lived.
— @SenatorGainer: “Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.” — Abraham Lincoln #PresidentsDay
— @CarlosGSmith: Happy Presidents Day! “I never forget that I live in a house owned by all the American people and that I have been given their trust.” — FDR April 14, 1938
— @LeaderBookFL: Today, for the second time, Republicans in the FL Senate rejected my amendment to ensure victims of rape, incest, & human trafficking are not forced to carry pregnancies resulting from their assaults. Taking choice away, revictimizing victims — this is NOT the will of the people.
— @Annette_Taddeo: As if the Don’t Say Gay Bill wasn’t bad enough — Republicans have amended it to further target LGBTQ+ students. Kids need a safe learning environment, not teachers being mandated to out them. This will lead to more LGBTQ+ youth homeless, particularly in Black & brown communities.
— @Mike_Grieco: The U.S. is on the brink of war while I have colleagues pushing bills that force Florida schools to out gay kids and erase Black history. And it’s only Monday …
— Michael Womack (@MichaelPWomack) February 21, 2022