Winners & Losers

This week’s biggest Winners & Losers

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

We normally hew to the unofficial City & State rule of naming only specific people in our Winners & Losers roundup. If we were to break it, one candidate would be the lonely gopher tortoise, which came up a loser this week. Federal wildlife officials concluded the reptiles, officially “Gopherus polyphemus,” weren’t in danger in the state, though they’ll still be considered “threatened” in other Southern states. That’s despite, as was reported this week, “issues such as development moving into the animals’ habitats.” As the University of Florida explained, they “support more than 300 other organisms by building large underground burrows” that provide protection from predators and heat. For that, they are winners to us. Now here’s this week’s Winners & Losers.


Marco Rubio -

The state's senior senator notched political victory after political victory this week heading towards Election Day. He’s championing $33 billion in disaster relief to help with Hurricane Ian recovery in Florida, netting him good press ahead of November. Gov. Ron DeSantis’ executive order helping voting efforts in the (mostly red) counties hit the worst by Ian will make sure as many Republicans as possible cast a ballot. And he’s leading in recent polling against Val Demings by four points. Life is grand.

Isaiah Rumlin -

The head of Jacksonville’s NAACP chapter notched a big court victory as a federal judge approved his organization’s request for a court order throwing out the new city council district map and requiring new ones for the 2023 election. The NAACP and others argued that the city used “racial gerrymandering” to pack Black residents into four districts in order to weaken the political influence of Black voters in three neighboring districts. The spirit of Thurgood Marshall persists.

Ben Sasse -

University of Florida student protesters’ calls to “keep your Sasse out of our swamp” are going to fall on deaf ears as the U.S. senator from Nebraska will certainly become UF’s next president. While some students certainly won’t roll out the welcome mat amid his past opposition to same-sex marriage, for instance, the Republican politician can now step out of electoral politics to helm Florida’s flagship university. We’d call that an upgrade.


Alex Díaz de la Portilla -

This Miami commissioner might want to download the Uber app. Miami-Dade’s ethics commission found probable cause that he abused his power by allowing a friend to use a city-owned car to run personal errands for him. That included picking up alcohol, dropping off his dry cleaning, and driving him around for personal business. He could be fined $1,000, which may have DLP wishing he used Instacart instead.

Joe “Big Joe” Ellicott -

Looks like “Big Joe” is going to the Big House. The Florida collectibles dealer connected to a federal investigation once tied to Matt Gaetz has been sentenced to 15 months in prison. The various charges stemming from the investigation include paying thousands of dollars on behalf of a company as part of a bribery scheme and selling more than $5,000 worth of Adderall out of his former business. No wonder there’s a shortage. (We kid.)

Alvaro Hernandez -

A circuit judge found the Humana executive was not eligible for a Pasco County school board race because he didn’t live in the district he was seeking to represent by the end of the qualifying period. His removal from the race is a small blow to the GOP’s goal of gaining footholds in school boards across the state. Hernandez was backed by Republicans and endorsed by Gov. Ron DeSantis. Guess we need to add another “R”: reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic and residency.