Winners & Losers

This week’s biggest Winners & Losers

Who’s up and who’s down in the Sunshine State?

It’s political qualifying week in Florida, when candidates must submit the necessary paperwork to officially get on the ballot this year. And there have been so many ups and downs, with people getting into and out of races, that the W&L list could have focused on them alone. But the news always is more encompassing: NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer retires! A trailblazing civil rights lawyer gets his due! (We won’t even get into that school board candidate ideology survey.) This week’s Winners & Losers also looks at the late night tweet from a certain billionaire who opined on the 2024 presidential race. 


Ron DeSantis -

It’s not like he needed the support of the world’s richest person, but hey, it couldn’t hurt. Tesla and SpaceX billionaire Elon Musk kicked off Wednesday’s news cycle when he tweeted one word – “DeSantis” – in response to someone who asked him who he was “leaning” toward for president in 2024. He said he had supported Democrat Andrew Yang in 2020, “but DeSantis has a better chance of winning.” The governor is sitting on over $100 million in cash on hand, after all. 

Virgil Hawkins -

Decades after his passing, the attorney and civil rights pioneer is being honored by his hometown of Leesburg. A sidewalk plaque outside his old downtown office memorializes his fight against segregation at the University of Florida’s law school, where he was denied admission because he was Black. He went to law school in Boston instead, returned, then had to fight again to be admitted to the Florida bar. And how cool is it that DC superhero Static’s civilian identity is named after him?

Shannon Watts -

If outlasting your opponent makes you a winner, put a “W” in Watts’ column. The founder of the gun control group Moms Demand Action virtually jumped for joy at the recent news that legendary Florida NRA lobbyist Marion Hammer was retiring after more than four decades. “Florida’s shadow Governor is stepping down,” Watts tweeted. Of course, Watts also seized the opportunity to rally people to join the organization, tweeting a number to text.


Loranne Ausley -

The Democrat representing SD 3 is being challenged by former FSU star and Volunteer Florida CEO Corey Simon. With local celebrity status and the backing of Republican Senate leadership, Simon could have the financial backing and name recognition to win a seat that hasn’t been red in decades. Even some Leon Democrats think the GOP is executing a sound strategy to flip the seat they have pursued aggressively over the past few election cycles. Ausley and Senate Democrats will likely have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to protect it.

Vickie Cartwright -

The new Broward Schools superintendent faced the first controversy of her short tenure after more than 100 school board meeting attendees were split between accusing her of racism for unfairly demoting Black administrators and coming to her defense. Cartwright defended herself, saying at least as many minorities received promotions as demotions, but simply facing such accusations doesn’t help win over united community support now that the office is hers after a year-long interim stint.

Byron Wells -

The Southern Fidelity Insurance Co. executive is watching his company enter receivership to the Florida Department of Financial Services. The department’s petition for the receivership described Southern Fidelity as “insolvent.” The company, which has about 78,000 policies in Florida, is now the fourth insurer declared insolvent since late February. Many of the company’s policies will go to the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp., adding to its explosion of customers over the past year.