Hello and welcome to Tuesday.
The D-word— With roughly three months to go until the August primary, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried has decided that one of her main strategies in defeating frontrunner Charlie Crist is to question his loyalty to the Democratic Party at every turn.
Repeat it— She did it this past weekend during a forum held by the Miami-Dade Democratic Party. She does it interviews with the media where she says Democrats can’t “trust” Crist. And it’s an organizing principle of her social media and even her campaign fundraising pitches.
Past is prologue?— Fried has jumped on Crist’s convoluted answers on abortion and — in the aftermath of last week’s school shooting in Texas — pointing out that Crist was once widely praised by the National Rifle Association. “I’m Nikki Fried and I’m the only leading candidate for governor of Florida who has never accepted a damn dime from the NRA,” she has pinned at the top of her Twitter feed. Fried over the weekend circulated a campaign piece when the NRA backed Crist ahead of his 2006 run for governor.
Past is past? — It’s an interesting strategy given that Florida Democrats have already shrugged off Crist’s evolution from Republican (one who literally hugged President Barack Obama) to independent to Democrat. Crist won the Democratic nomination for governor back in 2014 and narrowly lost to then-Gov. Rick Scott. Now he’s a Democratic member of Congress endorsed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Reminder— Fried’s decision to question Crist’s loyalty also occurs as Fried herself has had to withstand criticism for her decision to sue the Biden administration as well as her past support of GOP candidates both financially — a $2,000 check to Ashley Moody when she first ran for attorney general — and by helping campaign for them.
Sticking to the point— When asked about this potential disconnect, Keith Edwards, a spokesperson for the Fried campaign, said that there’s a “huge difference” between Crist’s past support for gun rights, chain gangs, “anti-gay rights laws and Nikki Fried working with some Republicans to pass laws about foster care children and medical marijuana. Everybody, especially Ron DeSantis, knows how easy it is to beat Charlie by calling him a politician floating in the wind and being for whatever he thinks will get him votes. He’s not going to lose the primary because he’s changed his mind on literally everything, he’s going to lose the primary because nobody actually believes him.”
— WHERE’S RON? — Nothing official announced for Gov. DeSantis.
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TAKING AIM — “Florida Democrat Nikki Fried embraces underdog status in race to take on Gov. DeSantis,” by Washington Times’ Mica Soellner: “Ms. [Nikki] Fried said Mr. [Charlie] Crist is a ‘Republican at heart,’ calling him untrustworthy for changing positions on issues like health care and abortion. On the Affordable Care Act, for example, she said Mr. Crist has modified his stance several times, going from opposing it to supporting it, to saying he wanted to tweak it. Mr. Crist, a member of the centrist Blue Dog Coalition, is considered one of the more moderate members of the House Democratic caucus. ‘I don’t think Charlie knows who he is,’ Ms. Fried said. ‘The Democratic Party does not trust him.’”
FACE TO FACE — “Crist, Fried, Taddeo trade jabs but hit ‘autocrat’ DeSantis during public forum,” by Miami Herald’s Bianca Padro Ocasio and Anna Wilder: “Trading zingers on their connections to the Republican Party and the National Rifle Association, the three leading Democrats running for Florida governor pitched their case for why they’re most likely to beat Gov. Ron DeSantis during a Saturday night forum in South Florida. But in a state where Republicans have made historic gains on voter registration and incumbent DeSantis has topped a staggering $100 million in campaign contributions for his reelection bid, the candidates focused most of their time on drawing contrasts to DeSantis’ record.”
WAITING IN THE WINGS? — “Trump’s primary losses puncture his invincibility,” by The New York Times’ Shane Goldmacher and Maggie Haberman: “Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida has amassed a $100 million re-election war chest and is the talk of many donors, activists and voters interested in the future of Trumpism without Trump. ‘Donald Trump had four good years,’ said Cole Muzio, president of the Frontline Policy Council, a conservative Christian group based in Georgia, who voted twice for Mr. Trump but is now looking for someone more ‘forward-looking.’ ‘DeSantis is great about seeing where the left is going and playing on the field that they’re going to be on, rather than reacting to what happened a couple of years ago,’ Mr. Muzio said, echoing the frustration that Mr. Trump continues to obsess about denying his 2020 election loss.”
FALLOUT — “Chair’s charge in ‘ghost’ candidate probe shines harsh spotlight on Seminole GOP,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Annie Martin: “So far, [Ben] Paris is remaining in his role as the county’s GOP chief. However, at least two elected Seminole County Republicans feel he should step aside. County Commissioner Amy Lockhart said she was ‘very disappointed’ upon hearing that Paris planned to stay in his position after the charge against him was filed this week.”
STANDS BY GOVERNOR’S MAP— “Florida appeals court blasts redistricting injunction,” by News Service of Florida’s Jim Saunders: “An appeals court Friday said a circuit judge issued a “patently unlawful” temporary injunction against a congressional redistricting plan pushed through the Legislature by Gov. Ron DeSantis, giving another sign that the controversial plan likely will be used in this year’s elections. A three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal issued a 20-page ruling that explained its reasons last week for putting a stay on the temporary injunction.
AUTHOR OF RULING 1 OF THE APPLICANTS— “17 hopefuls vie for Florida Supreme Court opening,” by News Service of Florida’s Dara Kam: “Diversity on the court has become a closely watched issue, as it has lacked a Black justice since [Justice Peggy] Quince’s retirement more than three years ago. [Gov. Ron] DeSantis is widely expected to tap [Circuit Judge Renatha] Francis to succeed [Justice Alan] Lawson. The governor’s appointment of Francis, who would have been the Florida court’s first Jamaican-American justice, was embroiled in a racially charged legal and political battle.”
— “‘God’s gift to lawyers.’ DeSantis’ culture war laws get him sued a lot,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Skyler Swisher
— “Corcoran appointed to state university system Board of Governors,” by POLITICO’ s Andrew Atterbury
— “Florida Supreme Court tells Public Service Commission it erred on solar energy ruling,” by News Service of Florida Jim Saunders
WHAT HAPPENS IN FLORIDA… — “Florida Republicans beat the gun lobby. Congress hasn’t followed,” by Washington Post’s Mike DeBonis: “[Sen. Rick] Scott himself — who went on to narrowly defeat Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) in 2018, even after his NRA rating was downgraded from an A-plus to a C — said this week that he does not favor passing a federal version of the Florida law. ‘It ought to be done at the state level,’ he said. ‘Every state’s going to be a little bit different. … It worked in Florida, and so they ought to look at that and say, could that work in their states?’”
STAYING PUT — “Ex-Proud Boys leader to stay jailed until Capitol riot trial,” by The Associated Press: “The former top leader of the Proud Boys will remain jailed while awaiting trial on charges that he conspired with other members of the far-right extremist group to attack the U.S. Capitol and stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s presidential victory, a federal judge has ruled. Henry ‘Enrique’ Tarrio poses a danger to the public that cannot be mitigated by home detention and banning him from using social media, U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly said in an order issued late Friday. Tarrio, a South Florida resident, has been jailed since his arrest on March 8, a day after his indictment on charges including conspiracy.”
‘SICK JOKE’ — “Deputies arrest Florida man who threatened a school shooting,” by The Associated Press: “Detectives have arrested an 18-year-old Florida man after receiving a tip that he threatened a mass shooting at a school in a social media post. Corey Anderson’s post showed him with a handgun, a rifle and a tactical-style vest along with a caption that said, ‘Hey Siri, directions to the nearest school,’ Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a news release. Anderson was arrested at his home near Tampa on Sunday, and charged with a written or electronic threat to conduct a mass shooting or act of terrorism.”
‘REAL CONSEQUENCES’ — “Florida 5th grader accused of making school shooting threat,” by The Associated Press: “A 10-year-old Florida fifth grade student has been arrested after making a school threat, sheriff’s officials said. Investigators learned of the threats made by the boy on Saturday and arrested him, Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno said in a social media post. ‘This student’s behavior is sickening, especially after the recent tragedy in Uvalde, Texas,’ the sheriff said.”
TAKING A CLOSER LOOK — “Most COVID deaths in Florida came after the vaccine was widely available. Why?” by Palm Beach Post’s Chris Persaud: “Though COVID vaccines have been available across Florida for more than a year, the majority of the more than 74,000 people who have died statewide of the disease succumbed in the past 12 months. Most chose not to get the free shots. More than half of Florida fatalities came after June 1, 2021, months after adults ages 18 or older could get the shots, figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show. Nationwide, it was just the opposite. The majority of the 1 million-plus deaths across the country came before March 1, 2021, when shots were in shorter supply.”
— “COVID: CDC recommends indoor masking in two major Florida metro areas,” by Palm Beach Post’s Chris Persaud
HERE IT COMES — “La Niña, Loop Current and other weather factors put Florida in crosshairs of another active hurricane season,” by South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Chris Perkins: “The six-month hurricane season begins Wednesday, and outlooks from three respected entities — NOAA (the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration), Colorado State University and AccuWeather, the independent forecasting service — predict above-average activity for the third consecutive year. Forecasters with the National Hurricane Center said Monday that an area of low pressure left over from the Pacific’s Hurricane Agatha had a 40% chance of developing in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico over the next five days. It could drift into the northwest Caribbean, nearer to Florida, by midweek.”
‘HEAVILY NEGOTIATED’ — “Judge gives initial OK to $1B deal in Florida condo collapse,” by The Associated Press’ Curt Anderson: “A Florida judge on Saturday gave initial approval to a settlement of more than $1 billion to families who lost loved ones in the collapse last year of a Florida beachfront condominium building in which 98 people died. The quick settlement of the unprecedented collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers South building in the early morning hours of June 24, 2021, means that potentially years of court battles will be avoided.”
HMM — “FBI investigates Basquiat paintings shown at Orlando Museum of Art,” by The New York Times’ Brett Sokol: The F.B.I.’s Art Crime Team is investigating the authenticity of 25 paintings that the Orlando Museum of Art says were created by Basquiat and are on exhibit there, according to a federal subpoena and several people with knowledge about the situation. The paintings in the ‘Heroes & Monsters: Jean-Michel Basquiat’ exhibition were said by the museum and their owners to have been recovered from a Los Angeles storage unit in 2012. The works were largely unseen before the show’s February opening.”
— “Orlando Museum of Art: We’ll ‘cooperate’ with FBI in Basquiat probe,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Matthew J. Palm
— “Palm Beach art dealer charged with selling Basquiat, Warhol,” by Bloomberg’s Nathan Crooks
BOOKED — “A Florida library’s LGBTQ Pride display started a yearlong battle,” by Tampa Bay Times’ Romy Ellenbogen: “Last month, the library’s advisory board was inundated with candidates trying to replace five of the nine sitting board members. It was the first time the board had seen such massive interest, with some candidates applying under the incorrect presumption that the board controls the content on the library shelves. While none of the more than three dozen challengers were appointed, the surge of interest echoes a nationwide trend of previously uncontroversial boards becoming targets for conservative activists. They have directed focus on nonpartisan school boards, government advisory boards and other small elected offices amid concerns over ‘gender ideology’ and the rights of parents.”
FOR YOUR RADAR— “America’s next wind powerhouse: The Gulf of Mexico?” by POLITICO Kelsey Tamborrino: A home base of the oil and gas industry wants in on offshore wind. The Gulf of Mexico has spent eight decades as one of the nation’s prime petroleum hubs, home to thousands of rigs, platforms and other structures that drill, store and ship fossil fuels. Now the Biden administration is reviewing 30 million acres of Gulf waters near Texas and Louisiana for potential wind turbines — a development that could dovetail with proposals to generate other clean energy sources, such as hydrogen.
— “Despite dangers, more migrants attempt sea crossings to U.S.,” by Wall Street Journal’s Alicia A. Caldwell and Arian Campo-Flores
— “Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams won’t resign, awaits opinion on his move to Nassau County,” by Florida Times-Union’s David Bauerlein and Nate Monroe
— “15 Northeast Florida church officials on Southern Baptist list of accused sexual abusers,” by News4Jax’s Joe McLean
— “Several from South Florida are on newly released Southern Baptist sex offender list,” by Miami Herald’s Aaron Leibowitz
— “Former Central Florida church leaders appear on list of Southern Baptist sex abusers,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Desiree Stennett
— “‘Van Zant House’: Jacksonville home where Lynyrd Skynyrd, .38 Special singers grew up for sale,” by Florida Times-Union’s Tom Szaroleta: “Looking for the ultimate piece of Lynyrd Skynyrd memorabilia? The Westside Jacksonville house where Ronnie, Donnie and Johnny Van Zant grew up just went on the market, complete with a historical marker in the front yard. The house, at 5419 Woodcrest Road off Lake Shore Boulevard, is listed for $629,000. That includes the eight lots the house sits on, plus a fourplex and a manufactured home on the property. Tax records show that the property is owned by Blue Horizon Property Solutions of Jacksonville Beach, which purchased it in 2015 for $67,500.”
— “Florida snipers cover rescue divers in alligator-filled Miami pond,” by New York Post’s Selim Algar: “Florida snipers gave cover for divers who jumped into an alligator-infested pond to search for a missing mother and son, according to reports. Nieves Matos, 80, and her son, Mario Laza, 56, were traveling along the Florida Turnpike in Miami Friday when they lost control of their vehicle and careened into a retention pond off the highway. Witnesses dove into the water, and police rescue teams followed behind them, according to WSVN. But cops realized that the waters were teeming with alligators — and had snipers surround the rescuers to halt any potential attacks.”
BIRTHDAYS:Julie Moos, of the National Press Club Journalism Institute … Elizabeth Dos Santos of Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart’s office.