First Read for Friday, Jan. 20, 2023

The must-read morning roundup of Florida politics and government.

Good morning. It’s National DJ Day. Florida is home to Miami’s Ultra Music festival, the second largest electronic music festival in the United States, which brought in 165,000 attendees from around the world last year.


U.S. Rep. Greg Steube’s staff broke the silence on his official Twitter account about the accident this week that landed him in the hospital. According to news reports, he fell about 25 feet from a ladder while cutting tree limbs on his Sarasota property. A neighbor saw him tumble and immediately called 911.

The Sarasota Republican was seriously hurt but his injuries are not life threatening, his staff said. On Thursday night, they tweeted that he “was moved out of the ICU (but) remains hospitalized under the care of a great team. Other GOP lawmakers took to social media to send Steube their best wishes. 

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz wrote in Steube’s replies, “Greg Steube is as tough as they come. (His wife) Ginger and I are praying for your full and speedy recovery, my friend.” U.S. Rep. Jim Baird and state Sen. Jim Boyd also wrote words of support.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy tweeted to his followers that he had spoken with Steube, wished him a speedy recovery and let him know about his committee assignments. “He is in good spirits, and our entire conference prays for a swift recovery,” he said. “I informed him he will serve on the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, and he is eager to get back to work!”

– Tristan Wood


* WHO’S UP? WHO’S DOWN? Find out in this week’s Winners & Losers.

* GUN LAW UPHELD: In a case stemming from the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the Florida Supreme Court rejected a challenge to a state law that threatens stiff penalties if local officials pass gun-related regulations.


The Florida Women Power 100

* Who are the most influential women in Florida politics and government? City & State Florida's Women Power 100 identifies the most important government officials, high-powered lobbyists, leaders of the worlds of business, nonprofits, strategic messaging and social justice in the arena of Sunshine State politics and policy.

 ▶ Read This Month's Issue


* It's official: Vice President Kamala Harris is visiting Tallahassee on Sunday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the now overturned Roe v. Wade, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.

* Parents of a K-12 student in public school in Florida would be eligible to receive a voucher to send their student to a private school under a priority bill (HB 1) filed in the Florida House, Florida Politics reports

* Gov. Ron DeSantis announced more funding for Hurricane Ian recovery during a press conference in Fort Myers, specifically highlighting the state's own travel trailer program and desire to get more placed in Southwest Florida, the Fort Myers News-Press reports.

* The DeSantis administration has rejected a new Advanced Placement course on African American studies for high school students, claiming it violates state law and that it “lacks educational value,” the Tampa Bay Times reports

* Former state Sen. Annette Taddeo has thrown her name into the running to become the Florida Democratic Party’s next chair, following ex-Miami Mayor Manny Diaz’s resignation earlier this month, the Miami Herald reports.

More news below …


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* Some 400 people not employed by the city have been granted access to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office over the past decade, including nine who were classified as part of the “sheriff’s circle,” Jacksonville Today reports.

* After Medicaid enrollment soared during the first three years of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 1 million Floridians likely will drop off the health-care program in 2023, the News Service of Florida reports

* Republican state Rep. Randy Fine, first elected in 2016, announced his plans to seek to climb to the next rung of the ladder in Florida politics and run for Florida Senate in 2024, Florida Today reports

* Florida health officials have been warning medical providers not to recommend abortion medication recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration or they will face criminal penalties, WUSF reports

* Two acts of antisemitism that officials say are related tainted a celebratory Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. weekend in Palm Beach County, the Palm Beach Post reports.


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The governor on Thursday had a call with Chief of Staff James Uthmeier, held a press conference on hurricane relief in Fort Myers, took lunch with his senior staff, then met individually with Education Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr., Secretary of State Cord Byrd and Policy Coordinator Laurie Grasel, according to his official schedule. 


* DeSantis and Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom of California both are building recognizable national brands, Fast Company reports

* A group of prominent Michigan Republicans are encouraging DeSantis to jump into the 2024 presidential race – a significant and thinly veiled shot at Donald Trump, the only announced Republican candidate, Politico reports.

* Despite a field of candidates who regularly bash the news media and a continuing tussle with the Commission on Presidential Debates, Republican leaders sat down with television executives to discuss their party’s 2024 debates, the New York Times reports


* DeSantis is pushing education in Florida, both K-12 and higher education, much further to the right, the Washington Post’s Philip Bump writes

* The governor seems intent on making Florida a sanctuary state for quack doctors, the Miami Herald editorial board writes

* Going in the direction of freedom is the difference between ‘the Florida Way’ and ‘the California Way,’ Florida House Speaker Paul Renner writes in the Tallahassee Democrat.

* Tallahassee’s Jeremy Matlow can't effectively be Democratic Party chair and a city commissioner, Jon Ausman writes in the Tallahassee Democrat.


HAPPY BIRTHDAY: To former state Rep. Al Jacquet … to Tampa Bay Times reporter Chris O'Donnell … to retired public relations guru Rick Oppenheim

On SATURDAY, to Jon Costello, president of Capitol Strategy Group … to Will Holley, partner at Firehouse Strategies … to former Florida Senate President Tom Lee. 

On SUNDAY, to Francine Andía Walker, retired communications director for The Florida Bar … to Tim Center, chief executive officer of the Capital Area Community Action Agency … to former Florida Senate President Don Gaetz to Dr. Jeffrey Sharkey, owner and managing partner of Capitol Alliance Group. 

ON THE MOVE: Christopher Mills, Market President for Truist Bank, announced he was made a member of the Board of Directors at the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce. 

Amaia Errecalde announced that she will be continuing to work part time on the Public Affairs team at The Moore Agency as an account coordinator. She previously was an intern at the Florida PR firm. 

Maureen Wagner, who was Chief of Staff to Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez, is now Deputy Secretary for Professional Regulation at the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, the agency announced. Brian McManus, who had been Deputy Secretary for Professional Regulation, now is Deputy Secretary for Business Regulation. 

CONGRATULATIONS: Skip Foster, formerly the publisher of the Tallahassee Democrat, marks one year at the new firm he founded, Hammerhead Communications.

LeRoy Pernell, a professor at the Florida A&M University College of Law in Orlando, marks 15 years teaching there. He also has served as dean and interim dean of the school. 

SAVE THE DATE: Authors Melissa Korn and Jennifer Levitz are the featured speakers for “A Supreme Evening 2023,” the annual fundraiser for the Florida Supreme Court Historical Society. They wrote “Unacceptable: Privilege, Deceit & the Making of the College Admissions Scandal,” covering what became known as “Operation Varsity Blues.” The event is next Thursday, Jan. 26, in Tallahassee. For more information, go to

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YOUR MESSAGE HERE: City & State First Read is the must-read morning roundup of Florida politics and government. Reaching thousands of subscribers each morning, it's the most effective and targeted digital ad venue to get your message in front of city and state elected officials, agency and industry leaders, and the staff, advocates, media and operatives who drive the issues of the day – all by 7 a.m. each weekday. For advertising information, please email:



“I’m ready to completely rebuild and reimagine our party from the bottom up.”

– Former State Sen. Annette Taddeo, in her announcement that she is running for chair of the Florida Democratic Party.