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Winner and Loser of the Week in Florida politics — Week of 10.22.23 - Florida Politics

Author: Florida Politics

Source: https://floridapolitics.com/archives/641636-winner-and-loser-of-the-week-in-florida-politics-week-of-10-22-23/

Image of Winner and Loser of the Week in Florida politics — Week of 10.22.23 - Florida Politics

The Seminole Tribe of Florida got a big win at SCOTUS, while Mike DiNapoli is out at the Florida Housing Finance Corp.Breaking news Friday saw House Speaker Paul Renner alert members of the House that new security measures would be forthcoming after someone breached the Capitol Complex.“He did so by impersonating a construction worker.The foreman on site immediately contacted Capitol Police and he was removed from the construction area,” Renner wrote in a letter to members.“He never entered the capitol building.Nevertheless, this individual was subsequently arrested for trespass because he entered a restricted construction zone without authorization.”The incident happened Oct.17 and ended with the man being arrested for trespassing. Renner said increased security measures are coming following the breach, on which staff will receive training.Those improvements will be in place for the upcoming Special Session, scheduled to start Nov.6.We still don’t know much about this man’s intentions, but we feel prompted to warn against any escalation of the ongoing political tensions in this country.This past week saw a horrendous mass shooting in Maine.The international community seems like it’s on fire, with wars raging in Ukraine and Israel.Tensions regarding those conflicts have reached the U.S., with battles over funding in Washington, D.C., and aggressive protests regarding Israel’s response to being attacked.It’s a scary time, and many people are on edge. But the thing is, if anyone thinks intruding on government property and causing trouble, especially violence, is going to help whatever cause they care about, they need to understand it will have the opposite effect.Now, it’s on to our weekly game of winners and losers.WinnersHonorable mention: Byron Donalds.Sure, Donalds lost both of his bids this week to become Speaker.The first came as Republicans scrambled early in the week after multiple previous nominees had fallen short.U.S.Rep.Tom Emmer of Minnesota was the conference choice following those votes. But after some hard-liners raised concern about his record, he stepped away, leading Donalds to give it another shot.That second set of voting saw U.S.Rep.Mike Johnson of Louisiana emerge as the nominee.Eventually, he won enough support to become the next Speaker.So Donalds fell short, just like he did after being nominated earlier this year during a conference fight that saw 15 ballots before U.S.Rep. Kevin McCarthy was able to secure his (now short-lived) Speakership.But just like earlier this year, even though Donalds lost, his name ID rose, giving him more looks as a potential name to watch within the GOP.Donalds is one of several names being floated to run for Florida Governor in 2026 (another being U.S.Rep.Matt Gaetz, who set off all of this Speaker drama to begin with).Having his name bandied about as a potential GOP leader, even if he fell short, could help his case to voters if he hits the trail in what’s expected to be a crowded 2026 GOP Primary.Almost (but not quite) the biggest winner: Randy Fine.Fine gets a qualified spot on our winners list this week for speaking out against Gov. Ron DeSantis and dramatically swapping his endorsement in the 2024 GOP Presidential Primary from DeSantis to Donald Trump.While there’s likely more going on here than Fine claims publicly, he still gets credit for standing up to the leader of his own party in his state, an act seen less and less in the current political climate.At issue — at least publicly from Fine’s perspective — was the Governor’s response following the horrific Oct.7 Hamas attack in Israel.Fine wrote an op-ed in the Washington Times arguing DeSantis isn’t doing enough as Governor to stamp out antisemitism in the state.Fine expounded on that argument on X, saying DeSantis should have moved to ban student university chapters that support Hamas.DeSantis eventually did make such a move, but it came too late for Fine.Of course, there is more going on behind the scenes here.Fine had been floated for months as the potential next President of Florida Atlantic University (FAU). When a search left him off the list of finalists, the state stepped in to raise questions about the search process in an effort to strong-arm FAU to relaunching the search.DeSantis and Fine tell different stories about what happened here.Fine says DeSantis wanted him in the job, then failed to convince FAU’s board to go along with the plan.DeSantis said Fine was pushing for the move, then got upset when he was left off the finalist list and turned on the Governor.So it’s safe to say there’s more at play here than the Governor’s stance on Israel.We’ve praised the Governor’s efforts on Israel before, but Fine argues the Governor’s words are strong while his actions are lacking.House Speaker Paul Renner came to DeSantis’ defense this week regarding that criticism.It’s also unclear whether Trump, whom Fine is endorsing now, is the savior for Israel that Fine thinks. Yes, Trump did a lot for Israel while President.But that was before current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reached out to congratulate Joe Biden for winning the 2020 election.Netanyahu is now persona non grata in Trump’s eyes, and that led to a baffling speech from Trump following the Oct.7 attack.So we’ll see whether this swap ultimately works out for Fine.But that ambiguity is sort of the point. We’ve praised GOP leaders in the past who have pushed back against some loud voices within their camp, including when they may have other agendas at play.Too often parties move in lockstep and we don’t get to see reasonable disagreements hashed out in public.That can lead to more and more of a bunker mentality among the populace.Debating the gray areas openly is healthy for democracy, if only to show they exist.And the reality is that antisemitism has been on the rise in Florida.If Fine’s rebellion against the Governor is able to shine a spotlight on the problem and prompt something more to be done, we would welcome that outcome, regardless of whatever hurt feelings may exist behind the scenes.The biggest winner: Seminole Tribe of Florida.Get your bankroll ready, because the U.S. Supreme Court just OK’d mobile betting in Florida.SCOTUS acted on an emergency application seeking relief from an appeals court ruling which also favored the Seminole Tribe of Florida while ruling on its new Gaming Compact with the state.SCOTUS ruled in favor of the Seminole Tribe once again, permitting them to offer mobile betting throughout Florida.But there remains a catch: a separate challenge in state courts seeking to invalidate the compact, arguing it conflicted with a referendum voters approved which requires a separate referendum to expand gaming within the state.The latest Gaming Compact was negotiated at the state level and was not approved by voters on the ballot.The referendum at issue, however, had an exception for expansions of gaming “on tribal lands.” In other words, if such a change is confined to tribal lands, voters don’t have to sign off on such a move.Because the servers for these mobile bets are on tribal lands, the state and the Seminole Tribe of Florida have argued the exception applies, and voters don’t need to approve the Gaming Compact.That’s all still to be decided by the Florida Supreme Court.The federal challenge dealt with a different issue, as to whether the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act bars gambling off tribal lands. An appellate court found it did not, and that the act merely regulates gaming operations on those lands.SCOTUS rejected a challenge to that interpretation.Sharps will have to wait until the state challenge gets resolved.But for now, the SCOTUS ruling knocks down one major hurdle to losing it all from the comfort of your couch while the Dolphins or Jaguars inevitably disappoint once again.LosersDishonorable mention: Frank Pichel.There is a major election in Miami coming up the first week of November.You know what you shouldn’t do this close to an election like that? Get yourself charged with a crime.Yet that’s precisely what Pichel did, as he’s facing charges for allegedly threatening an opponent’s campaign worker with a weapon over a dispute over yard signs.What’s worse is that Pichel isn’t some random schlub.He’s a former police officer and should know better than to start threatening someone with a gun, as the charges allege.Rather than internalize that responsibility, however, Pichel allegedly used his background as a cudgel during the dispute.A witness said they saw Pichel pulling up yard signs of an opponent.When a campaign worker approached Pichel, he’s accused of saying, “I’ll shoot you and nothing is going to happen to me because I used to be a police officer.”(Narrator: It turns out something is happening to him after all.)Pichel is running for the District 1 seat on the Miami City Commission.That seat is currently empty after Commissioner Alex Díaz de la Portilla was suspended after being hit with corruption charges.Díaz de la Portilla is still running, however. And while the city certainly needs a new face in this seat, moving from one person in legal trouble to another isn’t what voters are looking for.Almost (but not quite) the biggest loser: DeSantis.Losing Fine’s endorsement and having a state-level Republican hammering him wasn’t DeSantis’ only problem this week.After Nikki Haley has had two solid debate performances, it seems the chatter is increasing to play her up as the preferred Trump alternative.And while that talk may or may not be noise, one person’s comments hyping up Haley must be getting the DeSantis camp’s attention.Citadel founder Ken Griffin, who had previously poured millions into DeSantis’ coffers, called Haley a “rock star” while speaking at a closed media event.He also criticized DeSantis’ policy proposals laid out during his 2024 bid.The news comes after Griffin had reportedly soured on DeSantis due in part to the Governor’s policy priorities pushed during his presidential run.If Griffin is ready to line up behind Haley, that could be a boon to her 2024 bid.This week also saw DeSantis hit new lows in poll after poll, as Haley continues to rise.We have repeatedly noted DeSantis’ downslide since declaring his candidacy earlier this year, but have cautioned that he still has a chance to right the ship. With Trump under multiple indictments and continuing to court controversy, we don’t think this race is as wrapped up as others might, despite Trump’s significant lead in the polls.But the thing about narratives is, it can be hard to change them.And these months of bad headlines, campaign shake-ups and donors ditching DeSantis are continuing to add up.Every month he fails to shift the momentum in the right direction makes it harder to do so going forward.Tomorrow’s new Des Moines Register poll of the Iowa GOP Primary will tell a significant story given DeSantis’ shift to going all-in on Iowa.A good showing could be the type of news DeSantis needs to argue he’s righted the ship.A disappointing performance could be yet another in a long list of signs he just doesn’t have the juice nationally that he thought he did.The biggest loser: Mike DiNapoli. The saga of the DeSantis-backed head of the Florida Housing Finance Corp.is over, with DiNapoli resigning following accusations of sexist comments and verbal abuse.To recap: the board of the Florida Housing Finance Corp.put DiNapoli on leave in July following an Inspector General report regarding accusations of workplace abuse.The DeSantis administration rejected that finding and reinstalled DiNapoli as leader.But last month, Lawrence Mower of the Tampa Bay Times — who has been all over this story — released more details about those precise allegations in the Inspector General report, prompting the board once again to place DiNapoli on leave.At the time, DeSantis’ team signaled they were willing to fight on behalf of DiNapoli, whom DeSantis appointed in February.“If anyone wonders what the deep state looks like, this is it,” DeSantis Press Secretary Jeremy Redfern said.“It’s clear to us that at least some members of this Board believe they can wield unchecked power to recklessly disparage a public official and tarnish his reputation without basic fairness and due process.”Well, it looks like Team DeSantis has backed down, with DiNapoli now resigning his post and bringing an end to this saga.DiNapoli’s move came a day before the board was to make a final decision on whether to fire him. It seems he saw the writing on the wall and stepped away.Moral of the story: Don’t be abusive to members of your staff.DiNapoli should have known he can’t get away with acting like this given the important role he was in.After all, this isn’t the corporate world of decades past, or Congress now.Post Views: 0

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