Winners & Losers

This week’s biggest Winners & Losers

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

With a statue of Mary McLeod Bethune now representing Florida in the U.S. Capitol’s National Statuary Hall, it’s time to remember all those whose likeness could have been there instead. We won’t call them losers – we’ll call them runners-up. And to be fair, some never had a chance. Here’s why: As far back as 2016, the state asked for nominations for a historical figure to replace Confederate Army Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith. To be eligible, nominees had to be a “citizen of the State of Florida, either by birth or residence.” That meant no Ronald Reagan, Charles Darwin or Robert E. Lee, all of whom received nominations from the public. They also had to be “deceased for 10 years or more, as of January 1, 2017.” That knocked out a slew of nominees turned in by the public. To name a few, chocolate chip cookie pioneer Wally Amos, FSU football coach Bobby Bowden (then still alive), Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino, singer Gloria Estefan, adult film performer Riley Reid, and yes, Donald Trump. That would have been interesting. Now on to this week’s Winners & Losers. 


Nilda Comas -

This Fort Lauderdale-based sculptor is the first Hispanic individual to create a piece for the National Statuary Hall, a central room of the U.S. Capitol where every state has two statues. Comas’ statue is of educator and civil rights champion Mary McLeod Bethune, the first Black American to be honored in the space. It’s replacing a statue of a Confederate general who was among the last to surrender after the end of the Civil War. Floridians would be hard pressed to disagree over the change to an inspirational icon.

Tina Descovich & Tiffany Justice -

The Florida-based founders of Moms for Liberty are getting good press and plenty of money from donors ahead of their “Joyful Warriors National Summit,” the group’s big national summit and their first ever. With Florida First Lady Casey DeSantis among the list of expected guest speakers at the Tampa event, it's possible it could overshadow the Florida Democratic Party’s Leadership Blue 2022 summit happening at the same time across the street.

Joshua Holdenried -

This conservative advocate, representing the Council on Public University Reform, somehow got the state to allocate $3 million for a University of Florida civics center that the university didn’t even ask for (and in fact the university already has one). Sen. Keith Perry, the legislator that asked for the funding, said he doesn’t even know who the group is. The outfit, which also has no website and virtually no information about it online, was nonetheless able to press successfully for the millions without help from the university that is benefiting. Odd, but still a winner. 


Stan McDaniels -

The 39-year-old Republican candidate for the Escambia County Commission ran into a little problem as he campaigned on July 4. According to the Pensacola News-Journal, police arrested him after he waved a copy of the U.S. Constitution “at passing cars … with a handgun clearly visible tucked into his front pants.” While there is a move afoot to pass “constitutional carry,” which would allow permitless and open carry of firearms in Florida, current “Florida law requires handguns to be concealed when in public and for the individual to have a permit,” the newspaper explained. Sorry, Stan.

Dr. Mehmet Oz -

Dr. Oz, who is running for a Pennsylvania U.S. Senate seat this year (even though he lives in New Jersey, but that’s another story), has mentioned his love of hunting in the Sunshine State. But Florida Politics this week broke the story that the TV personality has never held a hunting license here. That’s according to the state’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.“It’s legal to do some hunting without a license, but the state limits what and where to hunt game,” the website reported. “Oz’s sporting activities may have run afoul of legal requirements.” 

Omar Smith -

For Florida political consultants, it’s best to stay out of the limelight, especially when there’s been so much bad press. (Looking at you, Frank Artiles.) Omar Smith, however, broke that unspoken rule, pleading guilty to “lying on a loan application for COVID relief funds and fraudulently receiving over $200,000,” according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. In June 2020, Smith applied for a $212,500 Paycheck Protection Program loan for his company, but had no employees or payroll. But Smith isn’t just a consultant – he’s also a Democratic candidate for the state’s 20th Congressional District.