Hello and welcome to Friday.
Quite the read — Take time to read POLITICO’s Matt Dixon story on congressional candidate Erick Aguilar’s fundraising efforts. WinRed, the popular platform used by Republicans to process contributions, found the emails misleading and, in an email to POLITICO this week, said Aguilar has been banned from using its service.
Tampa’s split screen — Florida’s political world is descending on downtown Tampa over the weekend in a strange situation where the Florida Democratic Party and the conservative parents group Moms for Liberty are holding dueling events in adjoining hotels.
It was not supposed to happen this way — Democrats had originally planned to hold their Leadership Blue convention last month in Orlando at Disney World. But they scrapped the event after a torrent of criticism and a threatened boycott from the party’s LGBTQ caucus upset that Disney had not take an early stance against the “Parental Rights in Education” law that critics dubbed “don’t say gay.”
In one hotel — The Moms for Liberty “Joyful Warriors” National Summit will go ahead with a packed lineup that includes Gov. Ron DeSantis and first lady Casey DeSantis today, and Sen. Rick Scott, Attorney General Ashley Moody and former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Saturday. Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson is slated to speak Sunday.
And in another hotel— Leadership Blue, meanwhile, runs from Friday to Sunday and it includes the Democrats’ big fundraising annual gala, where the keynote speaker will be Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker. Rep. Val Demings, who is challenging Sen. Marco Rubio, is also scheduled to speak during the gala. And the two Democratic rivals running for governor — Rep. Charlie Crist and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried — are planning to be there on Saturday.
Lesson plans— There is sure to be a lot of bashing of the other side over the next few days as the Democrats and Republicans lay out starkly different visions for education and the state. DeSantis will likely tout his anti-lockdown position for schools during the Covid-19 pandemic as well as note his support for the parents rights measure and another bill that took aim at critical race theory.
Response — Florida Democratic Party chair Manny Diaz has already scheduled a press conference for Friday alongside school board members to draw attention to what they contend is the governor’s “record of failing Florida children and mismanaging our education system.”
Poles apart— In some ways, the nearby presence of Gov. DeSantis and Moms for Liberty may draw more press attention to the state Democratic convention than would have normally occurred. Flashback to last December when hardly any media showed up. The spotlight will definitely be brighter this time around.
— WHERE’S RON? — Gov. DeSantis is scheduled to appear at the Moms for Liberty “Joyful Warriors” National Summit in Tampa.
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‘WE NEED TO CONTINUE TO FIGHT’— “Vice President Kamala Harris slams Florida abortion law in visit to Orlando,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Skyler Swisher: “Vice President Kamala Harris slammed Florida’s 15-week abortion ban and called for action on guns, police reform and voting rights during a visit Thursday to Orlando. Harris criticized ‘so-called leaders’ in Florida and other states who she said are interfering with health care decisions and making it harder to vote.”
Behind closed doors— “Following the speech, Harris discussed abortion with Democratic state lawmakers, including state Rep. Anna Eskamani of Orlando, state Sens. Lauren Book of Plantation and Victor Torres of Kissimmee, and state Rep. Fentrice Driskell, D-Tampa, the recently-elected leader of the House Democrats. Besides introductory remarks, the discussion was closed to the press. Eskamani said after the event she asked Harris and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra to continue their efforts to make the abortion pill available by mail and to consider declaring a national health emergency.”
DeSantis weighs in— While not responding directly to Harris’s criticism, Gov. Ron DeSantis did briefly discuss abortion during a press conference in Palatka where he called the state’s new 15-week abortion ban “some of the best pro-life legislation” that the state had passed in “decades.” DeSantis went on to label as “radical” past Florida Supreme Court decisions that said the state’s privacy clause in its constitution blocked abortion restrictions.
— “Kamala Harris highlights Biden’s Middle East trip, abortion rights battle during Florida visit,” by Tampa Bay Times’ Chris Hippensteel
— “Byron Donalds, Mike Waltz talk ‘failed’ VP as Kamala Harris visits Florida,” by Florida Politics’ A.G. Gancarski
— “Republican fears of an abortion backlash grow,” by POLITICO’s David Siders, Adam Wren and Megan Messerly
WHAT’S GOING ON HERE? — Florida Republican dupes seniors with Trump, DeSantis-themed emails, by POLITICO’s Matt Dixon: Erick Aguilar is not Donald Trump or Ron DeSantis. He just wants you to think he is. In his pursuit of Florida’s 4th Congressional District, Aguilar has used WinRed, a popular platform Republicans employ to process campaign contributions, to send a flurry of fundraising emails. But the solicitations did not mention Aguilar’s campaign or his leading competitor in the Aug. 23 primary, state Sen. Aaron Bean, who has the support of much of the state’s GOP establishment. Instead, the messages were written in a way that suggested donations would actually go toward more prominent GOP politicians, including the former president, the governor or Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan.
‘I don’t know that name’— Some of Aguilar’s WinRed emails, such as the one about DeSantis, went out in November, just before the Jacksonville-based candidate’s campaign saw nearly 16 times as much cash come in in December, campaign finance records show. Yet some of the people who sent contributions had no idea they were giving to Aguilar. “I don’t know that name,” Pat Medford, an 88-year-old from Minnesota, said in an interview when asked about her donations to Aguilar. “I, of course, give to President Trump and DeSantis, but that’s really it. I don’t give to many others, and that name [Aguilar] is not familiar to me.”
CRIST UNPLUGGED — “Charlie Crist regrets some past decisions. He urges voters to boot his appointees to the Supreme Court,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Jeffrey Schweers and South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Anthony Man: “Among [Charlie Crist’s] biggest regrets was appointing Charles Canady and Ricky Polston to the Florida Supreme Court when he was governor from 2007 to 2011. ‘I am disappointed in some of their decisions,’ Crist said, after saying he would not vote for their retention and urged Floridians to also vote against their retention. ‘I would recommend they be voted out.’”
Takeaways — This comment made during an interview with the editorial boards of the two newspapers is noteworthy because Crist had recently said he had “no regrets” over the appointment of Canady, a conservative and former congressman who may soon rule on whether abortion rights are covered by the state constitution. His comments drew an instant reaction from Democratic primary rival Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and her campaign. Another comment of note is that Crist would not say for sure if he would campaign with President Joe Biden if he wins the Democratic nomination.
WINDUP — “Donald Trump looks to fall launch for 2024, potentially upending midterms,” by Washington Post’s Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey: “But [former President Donald] Trump has continued to regularly push for an early announcement in private meetings, as potential 2024 rivals become more aggressive amid signs of weakening support among his base. Now an increasing number of allies are urging him to follow his instincts as a way to shore up his standing in the party and drive turnout to help the GOP take over the House and Senate next year. The former president is now eyeing a September announcement, according to two Trump advisers, who like some others interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations. One confidant put the odds at ‘70-30 he announces before the midterms.’”
— “Donald Trump on 2024: ‘I’ve already made that decision,’” by New York magazine’s Olivia Nuzzi
MEANWHILE — Bidenworld, fellow Dems, dreaming of a Trump pre-midterm announcement, by POLITICO’s Christopher Cadelago: Democrats aren’t just eager for Donald Trump to cannonball into the 2024 presidential race before the fall midterms. Across the country, they are actively plotting ways to immediately capitalize on a pre-November announcement. Campaigns and officials at major Democratic outfits are planning to capture the anticipated cash windfall that would come their way should Trump announce he’s making another run at the White House. Candidates also are exploring ways to exploit Trump’s premature entry to energize despondent base voters and coalesce independents and suburb-dwellers who have soured on the party over stubbornly high inflation.
HMM — “Election issues: Two candidates say Sheriff Ivey tried to get them to drop out, offered jobs in exchange,” by Florida Today’s Eric Rogers and Bobby Block: “In at least two races this election season — one for County Commission and one for the School Board — two candidates said Ivey has been pushing for them to leave the field and throw their support behind his favored candidates. In exchange, they say, Ivey has offered them political jobs worth up to $50,000 a year. Both candidates who said they were targeted by Ivey to get out of the races are Republicans. Both are active or former police officers. Both are military war veterans with distinguished service records.”
CAMPAIGN ROUNDUP— Rev. Jesse JacksonSr. has endorsed Maxwell Alejandro Frost, the progressive Democrat running in a crowded primary for Florida’s 10th Congressional District that includes state Sen. Randolph Bracy, former Rep. Corrine Brown and former Rep. Alan Grayson. “It’s time that we pass the baton to the new generation of Civil rights leaders like Maxwell who are fighting for the future that we all deserve,” Jackson said in a statement.
… Gov. Ron DeSantis continues to make local school board races a point of focus for the 2022 elections. DeSantis on Thursday rolled out endorsements for what he called 16 “pro-parent, pro-student” school board candidates running in a dozen different counties. This the governor’s second round of school board endorsements this cycle.
… Former Secretary of State Laurel Lee announced she raised more than $510,000 during the second quarter for her bid in Florida’s 15th Congressional District. That amount included $65,000 Lee donated to her campaign. Lee has more than $487,000 in cash on hand.
— “Which Florida Democrat hoping to replace DeSantis is raising more money off abortion?” by Tampa Bay Times’ Kirby Wilson and Emily L. Mahoney
— “LePage dodges DeSantis-versus-Trump talk after attending Florida governor’s event,” by Maine Public’s Steve Mistler
— “Donald Trump endorsed Joe Gruters, so why is his opponent under attack as a ‘MAGA clown’?” by Sarasota Herald-Tribune’s Zac Anderson
— “AARP Florida offers voters chance to get to know candidates in four congressional races,” by Florida Politics’ Christine Jordan Sexton
RESPONSE — “Florida report on transgender care flawed, politically motivated, Yale experts say,” by Tampa Bay Times’ Christopher O’Donnell and Kirby Wilson: “A report from Florida’s Medicaid agency is anticipated to be the basis for a state rule banning the use of Medicaid to pay for hormonal therapies to treat transgender people diagnosed with gender dysphoria. It concluded last month that puberty blockers and other hormones are ‘experimental and investigational.’ But a group of seven scientists and a Yale law professor are slamming the state report as unscientific, thoroughly flawed and politically motivated. An analysis published by the group this week highlighted what it says are major deficiencies in the state’s 48-page report, which was released June 2 by Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration.”
‘HOW BUSINESS GETS DONE’— “Lobbyists, including former governor staff, push client for Emergency Management warehouse contract,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Jeffrey Schweers: “Two of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ former top staffers were among the lobbyists that sought to make sure their client was well positioned for a new Emergency Management warehouse and inventory control contract, emails obtained by the Orlando Sentinel show….LifeScience also has a $39 million contract with the state to import and store Canadian prescription drugs and has donated $50,000 to two key Republican leadership committees prior to the legislative session that began in January and ended in March. ‘This sounds like a case study in how business gets done in Florida,’ said Ben Wilcox, research director for Integrity Florida, a Tallahassee-based, nonprofit political watchdog group.”
— “Florida urges appeals court to uphold state elections law,” by News Service of Florida’s Jim Saunders
— “‘Women get pregnant and not men’: Gov. DeSantis picks new anti-woke fight,” by Florida Politics Renzo Downey
— “Tallahassee officials approve 10-year ban on corruption-related felons lobbying,” by Tallahassee Democrat’s Karl Etters
‘WE WANT JUSTICE’ — “Ex-Florida guard who left female inmate paralyzed is convicted – but not for that incident,” by Miami Herald’s Torrence Banks: “One of the two corrections officers accused of brutally attacking an inmate at Lowell Correctional, leaving her paralyzed, went on trial Wednesday, but not for that incident. Keith Mitchell Turner, a lieutenant who had a history of brutality complaints and is no longer employed by the department, was tried and found guilty on two counts of lewd and lascivious acts on a person under 12, a crime unrelated to his former prison system job. Aware that the trial was happening, critics of the Florida Department of Corrections, including former inmates, protested outside the Marion County Courthouse. They were there to ask why he wasn’t charged in connection with the clash that left Cheryl Weimar with devastating injuries.”
PALM BEACH STORY — “State Attorney Dave Aronberg hires top defense lawyers in bid to seal ex-wife’s deposition,” by Palm Beach Post’s Jane Musgrave: “Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg has redoubled efforts to keep information about his short-lived marriage secret by hiring top Fort Lauderdale criminal defense attorneys to represent him. Saying his ex-wife revealed ‘sensitive’ information about him when she was deposed in a criminal case against Wellington developer Glenn Straub, Aronberg is asking a judge to take steps to ensure her statements don’t become public.”
UP AND AWAY— “This airline will restart flights from Miami to more Cuban cities,” by South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s David Lyons: “South Floridians who plan to visit Cuba will have more options to fly there this November — the latest instance of the U.S. loosening travel restrictions to the island. American Airlines will add five cities to the Communist-run island from Miami International Airport. U.S. officials have approved the airline’s request of the U.S. Department of Transportation to resume flights to Santa Clara, Varadero, Holguin, Camaguey and Santiago de Cuba.”
— “Niceville resident Andrew Griswold sentenced to 75 days for role in Jan. 6 Capitol riot,” by Northwest Florida Daily News’ Tom McLaughlin
— “Elite Broward Sheriff’s Advisory Council wrote $10K checks to spouses of murdered FBI agents, Gregory Tony demanded to present them,” by Florida Bulldog’s Dan Christensen
— “Gentrification wiping out Miami’s 130-year-old, historically Black West Coconut Grove,” by Miami Herald’s Andres Viglucci
BIRTHDAYS: Former Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen … state Rep. Michael Grant … Ron Sachs, founder and CEO of Sachs Media … Miami Herald’s Jeff Kleinman … (Saturday) Former Rep. Michael Bilirakis … Alexis Fowler with Moffitt Cancer Center … Former state Sen. J.D. Alexander … Doug Martin, president of Gray Fox Strategies … Former Rep. Ross Spano … (Sunday) Tallahassee Democrat’s Ana Goñi-Lessan