This week, Tallahassee looks like a winner and Washington the loser. Inauguration ceremonies at the Capitol went off without a hitch and committee hearings in preparation for the 2023 legislative session have been quiet affairs, lots of get-to-know-ya’s and “overviews.” Gov. Ron DeSantis gave a red-meat-for-the-Republican-base speech that everyone seemed to like (except Steve Bousquet). Meantime, the GOP’s intraparty battle over electing a new U.S. House speaker is feeling like a bad remake of John Carpenter’s “The Thing” without the cool special effects. Too much “Who will be left standing?” and not enough “Did that head just sprout spider legs?” Now, here’s this week’s list of Winners & Losers, head-spider free.
Byron Donalds -
The second-term GOP congressman from Naples erupted into the national consciousness this week (well, at least among political junkies) as he became a contender for U.S. House speaker. Will he get it? Probably not. But the free media can’t hurt. And as far as retaliation from Kevin McCarthy, the California Republican who’ll probably wind up in the Speaker’s office? As Byron Donalds told a reporter, “Man, I'm 6’2”, 275, I'm not worried about that.”
Dane Eagle -
Dane Eagle recently quit as head of the Department of Economic Opportunity. That was just before a new lobbying ban went into effect, requiring top state officials to wait six, count’ em, six years before becoming a lobbyist. It was no surprise that Eagle, also a former House member, would jump before the ban took hold – and Ballard Partners, second in reported revenue in Florida, apparently made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. A win-win for both.
Tim Forson -
The Superintendent ofSt. Johns County Schools had a big week. His district prevailed in a lawsuit against its policy that requires transgender students to either use a gender-neutral, single-stall bathroom or the bathroom of their gender assigned at birth. A court ruled 7-4 that the policy did not violate federal protections against discrimination based on sex in education programs.
Joseph Ladapo -
Florida’s surgeon general was blasted in a report from members of his own university. A University of Florida medical school faculty task force found he may have violated research integrity rules when he issued guidance last fall discouraging young men from receiving coronavirus vaccines. Although the university does not plan to investigate it because it happened in his work outside of UF, it is still a big rebuke from his colleagues.
Vincent Moretti & Rod Colon -
An investigation by the Florida Center for Government Accountability found that these two overseers of the North Springs Improvement District, which oversees utilities in Coral Springs and Parkland, were awarding contracts to companies owned by themselves to the tune of millions. While technically legal, state Rep. Christine Hunchofsky is planning to draft a bill to close the exemption that allowed it to happen during the upcoming legislative session.
Gregory Tony -
The sheriff of Broward County lost a game of chicken with the Broward County Commission. Gregory Tony had been operating the county’s 911 system for the board, but after some back-and-forth, commissioners peaced out and decided to find another contractor. It’s not a good look for Tony, who is racking up a long line of losses as sheriff, including a finding of probable cause from the state ethics commission that he “misused his public position.”