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Sunburn – The Morning Read Of What’s Hot In Florida Politics – 8.4.21

Ron DeSantis lags behind Charlie Crist in new polling.

 By Peter Schorsch    

Good Wednesday morning.

On Monday, bookies set Gov. Ron DeSantis’ reelection odds at 81%. On Tuesday, St. Pete Polls gave them a reason to hedge their bets.

The pollster surveyed nearly 4,000 Florida voters and found that, if the election were today, the Republican incumbent would lose to U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist by a point-and-a-half, 45.3%-43.8%. DeSantis would win in a head-to-head against Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, but only by a hair.

Faith Based Events

This isn’t a pro-Dem prevarication: St. Pete Polls is one of the most highly respected polling outfits in the Sunshine State and is included in Real Clear Politics and FiveThirtyEight polling aggregations.

The survey delivered a couple of other body blows to DeSantis, who not long ago was described as the most popular Governor in the country. Maybe that’s still the case, but he’s seemingly more popular as an export than at home à la David Hasselhoff in Deutschland.

DeSantis was on the bad side of nearly half those polled (49%), while 44% said they were still in his corner two-and-a-half years into his first term, giving him a minus-5 rating overall. Meanwhile, President Joe Biden — who many believe DeSantis will challenge in 2024 — scored a plus-3 approval rating.

The Governor’s intractability on school mask mandates probably isn’t helping, as the same poll found more than three in five voters think masking up should be a requirement when kids head back to class later this month. Just 32% want a barefaced back-to-school season. Fence-sitters account for the other 6%.

GOP voters still largely support the Governor, both in job approval and the 2022 race, but they are not a monolith. About a fifth of Republicans said they would vote for Crist, and one in six said they’re backing Fried in 2022. In both cases, fewer Democrats say they’d cross the aisle to cast a ballot for DeSantis.

As far as job approval goes, DeSantis has Republicans locked down, 71%-22%, but Independents disapprove by a 12-point margin. Among Democrats, the incumbent remains about as popular as a Zune bricked in a vat of New Coke.

The St. Pete Polls survey was conducted Aug. 2-3. Of the poll’s 3,952 respondents, 39% are registered Republicans, and 37% are registered Democrats. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.6%.


Meredith Brock Stanfield is the new legislative policy director at the Florida Professional Firefighters, the organization announced Tuesday.

Congratulations to Meredith Brock Stanfield on her new gig with the Florida Professional Firefighters Association.

In the new role, Stanfield will lead legislative policy development efforts for the group, which represents more than 27,000 Florida firefighters and emergency medical services personnel.

FPF President and CEO Wayne “Bernie” Bernoska said Stanfield brings the organization “a depth of knowledge” on key FPF issues, such as pensions and collective bargaining.

Stanfield comes to the Florida Professional Firefighters from the office of Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, where she has served as director of legislative and cabinet affairs for the past two years.

“Meredith onboarding with the FPF is a huge win for Florida firefighters. Few are as adept at navigating the legislative process as Meredith, but she does the most important thing in this process: win,” Patronis said.

The University of Georgia alumna previously worked as the legislative affairs director at the Departments of Management Services, Juvenile Justice, and the Office of Financial Regulation. Her resume also includes a stint with the Florida League of Cities, where she worked as a legal and legislative assistant.

“In recent years, I have been proud to support protecting the health and safety of Florida’s firefighters and emergency response personnel through the passage of key legislation, and I am thrilled to be joining the team at the FPF to make that my primary focus,” she said.


Tallahassee attorney and lobbyist Sean Pittman has been named General Counsel of the National Bar Association.

Pittman was selected by the incoming president of the association last week during the NBA’s annual conference. His nomination was met with unanimous approval by the NBA Board of Governors. The selection was the first official act of new NBA President Carlos Moore, a Mississippi attorney.

Sean Pittman takes a top role as General Counsel of the National Bar Association.

“I am humbled by the great honor and responsibility to help lead this prestigious organization by providing reliable legal advice and guidance to President Carlos Moore, the NBA Board of Governors, and my peer attorneys across the country,” Pittman said in a news release.

“The National Bar Association has a proud history of supporting and engaging America’s Black attorneys and significant issues impacting Black people and communities. I am excited to play a larger role with the NBA as the existence and importance of the organization is exacerbated by COVID-19, health care and wealth disparities, police brutality, voter suppression, and the impact these issues have on Black people and our communities in America.”

Founded in 1925, The National Bar Association is the largest network of predominantly Black American attorneys and judges. The Washington-based has historically been a strong voice for the rights of Black people, marginalized communities, and underserved populations across the country.

“Sean Pittman will serve the NBA well, and I look forward to working with him,” Moore said.

Pittman’s selection comes as his firm, Pittman Law Group, celebrates its 20th anniversary and enjoys continued growth with the addition of a new office in Orlando. The firm also has offices in Tallahassee, Miami and Riviera Beach.


It’s back-to-school season, and Simply Healthcare is doing its part to make it a good one for Florida students.

Simply Healthcare is making back-to-school a little easier

Last weekend, the company held an event in Tampa to deck out K-12 kids with new gear ahead of their first day back to class. Attendees had the opportunity to grab a haircut and a hot dog, courtesy of the health care company.

In all, 223 children stopped by to pick up a backpack.

The Back-to-School Backpack Giveaway was hosted on July 31 by Haven Destiny and had NFL Alumni in attendance encouraging kids to study hard this school year. The Sheffield Family Foundation was also a sponsor of the event.

Also, Simply Healthcare on Tuesday announced another effort aimed at getting Florida students ready for school — a partnership with the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The two organizations will work together to create an online tool kit and to help families, teachers and caregivers guide children through the mental health struggles that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

The company said it is just the first resource developed as part of the partnership, with more to come.


The University of Florida chomped at the opportunity to bring on government affairs pro Sara Bremer as its new assistant director of government relations.

Congratulations: Sara Bremer gets to represent the Gators.

Bremer has spent more than a decade helping the Florida Court Clerks & Comptrollers navigate The Process, most recently as its deputy director of legislative services, which saw her take point on legislative policy initiatives benefiting clerks and comptrollers.

When she immigrates to the Gator Nation next week, she’ll handle similar duties — the university said Bremer will help plan and implement state-level legislative and public policy strategies.

“Sara has a stellar reputation for being a skilled professional with a strong work ethic and great relationships,” said Mark Kaplan, UF’s vice president of government and community relations. “With her passion for our university and our state, I know Sara will make a great addition to our team and will help further our success.”

An enthused Samantha Greer, UF’s government relations director, said the team “could not be more excited to begin working with Sara.”

As a Gainesville-born graduate of the state’s flagship university, Bremer has the lingo down pat — in a news release, she said the opportunity to “work toward the Gator Good for all of us is a dream come true.”

Bremer graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Florida with a bachelor’s in English and a minor in French. She also holds a master’s in international affairs from the school out west.


@MarcoRubio: If at this time last year someone had told us there was a medicine that made COVID no worse than the flu we would have been very happy. Well, now we do. Use it.

@StevenTDennis: >1 out of every 1,900 people in Florida is in a hospital bed right now with COVID.

@Dan_Sweeney: As usual, it’s not the higher hospital admissions that are the problem in Florida — it’s the media reporting on the higher hospital admissions.

Tweet, tweet:

@MatthewDowd: Cuomo must be held accountable. Whether that be impeachment or resignation. As I have said for years, we must not tolerate this behavior. I said this for (BillClinton, (DonaldTrump (BillCosby, Justices (ClarenceThomas/(BrettKavanaugh, etc. Those who only want accountability through partisan lens are hypocrites.

@Jenn_BradleyRewatching #TedLasso and reminded of the perfection of the darts scene when Ted shuts down Rupert. “Be curious, not judgmental.”— Walt Whitman

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