Winners & Losers
This week’s biggest Winners & Losers
Who’s up and who’s down in the Sunshine State?
Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis may not have a lot in common, but they did have one thing bringing them together this week: Montana. It started with Newsom picking a fight with DeSantis on the Fourth of July, buying air time in Florida for a new ad. “I urge all of you living in Florida to join the fight or join us in California, where we still believe in freedom,” Newsom says in the ad. “Freedom of speech. Freedom to choose. Freedom from hate. And the freedom to love.” At the time, DeSantis was in Montana meeting with former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who’s running for Congress there. By coincidence, Newsom was also in Big Sky Country, where his in-laws have a ranch. But even if Newsom traveled on his dime, “Montana is one of 22 states where California taxpayer-funded travel is prohibited because of laws that discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender residents,” the Sacramento Bee reports. D’oh! Now on to this week’s Winners & Losers.
Pete Antonacci -
The 73-year-old attorney has been the go-to guy for governors in Florida when they need a turnaround. South Florida Water Management District might be in a bad way? Call Pete. Broward County elections office screwing up? Call Pete. So when the state’s new Office of Election Crimes and Security – which Democrats have knocked as a solution in search of a problem – needed a boss, DeSantis called Pete. He’ll leave his current job as head of the state’s administrative law division. And call him “Mr. Lucky” for winning a drawing for a Pinellas County liquor license last year.
Ron DeSantis -
Donald Trump’s chances for a triumphant return to Washington took a hit when former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson testified about the former president’s questionable actions leading up to and during the Jan. 6 uprising. And that’s good news for DeSantis, another potential presidential contender who has positioned himself as the Republican Party’s most viable alternative to Trump in 2024. Plus, the Florida governor’s 15-week abortion ban will remain in effect, at least for now, while a court battle over the law continues.
Joseph Hatchett -
Joseph Hatchett made history decades ago as the first Black justice to serve on the Florida Supreme Court – but that trailblazing history wasn’t enough to prevent a Republican hatchet job on Hatchett’s legacy. This spring, a bipartisan measure to rename a federal courthouse in Tallahassee in his honor was abruptly derailed, with opponents citing a ruling he made prohibiting prayer at public school graduations. The measure eventually passed, however, and was signed before the July 4 holiday.
Buddy Dyer -
The Orlando mayor and the City Beautiful itself took a bit of a black eye when its PR people issued a July 4 statement beginning, “A lot of people probably don’t want to celebrate our nation right now, and we can’t blame them. When there is so much division, hate and unrest, why on earth would you want to have a party celebrating any of it?" That did not go well, leading to some agreement but also a lot of anger, and a hasty apology.
Lisa Gwynn -
Lisa Gwynn, president of the Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, had been on the board of directors of Florida Healthy Kids, which provides subsidized health insurance to children. Then she came out in support of COVID-19 vaccinations for kids under 5 and criticized the state’s opposite stance. That caught state CFO Jimmy Patronis crosswise, leading to a stern email and Gwynn’s ouster from the board. She told Florida Politics she didn’t want “to engage in this political war.” Too late. Welcome to Tallahassee.
Tom Peachey -
Big Olaf Creamery is grappling with the fallout of a listeria outbreak, which was cited in a lawsuit filed this week by the estate of a woman who fell ill and died after eating ice cream from the Sarasota-based company. Big Olaf Creamery, which is run by Tom Peachey, asserted that there’s no clear connection between its products and the outbreak and noted that it’s cooperating with the feds – but at least half a dozen individuals who were infected with the bacteria said they ate Big Olaf ice cream.
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