Winners & Losers

This week’s biggest Winners & Losers

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

With less than a month till the state’s primary election, Gov. Ron DeSantis didn’t even get token Republican opposition as then-Gov. Rick Scott did when he was reelected in 2014. DeSantis is the only GOP candidate to qualify for the governor’s race this year, state records show. Scott, however, was challenged by Republicans Elizabeth Cuevas-Neunder and Yinka Abosede Adeshina. After losing to Scott, Cuevas-Neunder went back to running the Sarasota-based Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce of Florida. But Adeshina was later charged with “elections fraud for submitting false financial statements to the Department of State,” the Tallahassee Democrat reported in 2014. The disposition of that case wasn’t available online. Now here’s this week’s Winners & Losers.

WINNERS:

Larry Arnn -

In longtime Florida columnist Joe Henderson’s view, Larry Arnn – the president of the conservative Hillsdale College in Michigan – has DeSantis’ ear on education. Arnn raised hackles with his recent comment that “teachers are trained in the dumbest parts of the dumbest colleges in the country.” Regardless, as Henderson explained, “Arnn has become the education whisperer to governors across multiple states,” including DeSantis, with the columnist even dubbing them “besties.” If influence is a factor, call him a winner in Florida.

Olivia Julianna -

The 19-year-old abortion-rights activist with the group Gen-Z for Change ended up raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for her organization’s abortion access fund after U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz boorishly body-shamed her on Twitter. “I didn’t think you cared about us abortion rights activists, but your spotlight on me has helped raise $50K for abortion funds in the last 24 hours!” Olivia Julianna tweeted on Tuesday, following up with another tweet Thursday afternoon noting that her fundraising had hit $700,000. Talk about backfiring for the anti-abortion congressman.

Barbara Sharief -

The former Broward County commissioner and the first Black woman and Muslim to serve as the county’s mayor is causing fits for Lauren Book. Sharief is challenging Book, now state Senate Democratic leader – the first time in Book’s relatively short electoral career that she has actually faced an opponent. And while Sharief is lagging in fundraising and publicly available polling, she is getting a bump in earned media, including from clapping back against a PAC mailer dinging her record on guns.

LOSERS:

Brian Burgess & Eric Silagy -

Brian Burgess just went from hero to zero in our Winners & Losers list in the span of a week. Bombshell investigations from the Miami Herald and Orlando Sentinel suggest Burgess was a paid shill for Florida Power & Light, spinning the news in favor of the powerful utility through The Capitolist website and plotting to buy newspapers and recruit journalists to boost the utility’s image and attack political rivals. FPL’s Eric Silagy was powerless to control the media narrative on these stories – as well as another investigation detailing how the utility used the political consulting firm Matrix to influence elections and the political process in Florida. If the bad news keeps coming, FPL may be soon facing its own political power outage.

Jack Latvala -

The former state senator probably thought his troubles were over. He’d struck a deal to finally put behind him a yearslong ethics case that involved alleged sexual misconduct. But the Florida Commission on Ethics scrapped the proposed settlement in the case. Latvala now must go before an administrative law judge in “a hearing that resembles a trial,” as Politico reported. But the Pinellas County Republican has a card up his sleeve, suggesting he knows of other sexual relationships between lawmakers and lobbyists.

Marta Pérez -

Legal representation for Gov. Ron DeSantis warned a political committee supporting Marta Pérez, a Miami-Dade School Board member, to stop using his image in campaign mailers. The committee was running a mailer with images of Pérez next to DeSantis and him giving a thumbs up – but the governor has actually endorsed rival Monica Colluci in the race. The backfiring of political messaging like this less than a month before Election Day spells trouble for the incumbent.

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