Winners & Losers

This week’s biggest Winners & Losers

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

A leadership fight always produces winners and losers, including the recent and drawn-out struggle over the U.S. House speakership. Take Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz. Florida Politics’ Peter Schorsch put it best: “Gaetz’s hard-line tactics to stall … earned him the title of most-hated in his party.” Vern Buchanan, a steady Kevin McCarthy backer, still was passed over for the prized role of chair of the influential Ways and Means Committee. But Democrat Jared Moskowitz became a vice chair of a gun violence prevention task force. It’s like the political version of “the upside down.” Now here’s this week’s list of Winners & Losers.


Michael Barnett -

When Democrat Dave Kerner was appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis as the next head of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, the move opened Kerner’s spot on the Palm Beach County Commission. DeSantis then appointed Michael Barnett, chair of that county’s Republican Party, to fill the vacancy. That also swung the commission in the historically blue county to majority-GOP. Politically at least, it’s another solid hit for Team Elephant.

Chris Rufo -

The architect of the national conservative push against Critical Race Theory and what he’s dubbed “Radical Gender Theory” now is in position to make the education policy changes he wants at one of Florida’s most left-leaning schools. Appointed to the board of New College of Florida, Chris Rufo says he wants to turn the school into a public version of the conservative Hillsdale College in Michigan. Now he just has to weather what will likely be strong pushback from students and faculty.

Donald Trump -

Yes, there are differences between how the current president and his predecessor wound up with classified documents in their possession, how they were discovered and how the men responded. But on another level, President Joe Biden and his team have egg on their faces, and Donald Trump can point a finger away from himself. We frequently bring up the “unforced error” in politics, and this is another example. Look before you pack, folks.


Jair Bolsonaro -

The ex-Brazilian president’s supporters mounted a failed coup, cringeworthy but at least less violent than the infamous Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol here in the states. They were, however, prompted by election fraud conspiracy theories that Jair Bolsonaro promoted. Sound familiar? While that was taking place, Bolsonaro himself was hiding out in Orlando, not too far from Disney World. Now pressure to extradite him is causing him to cut his Florida visit short. Do they make postcards for stays in suburban cul-de-sacs?

Manny Diaz -

The deposed Democratic Party chair was the sacrificial lamb for the slaughter that Democrats suffered on Election Day 2022 as he finally resigned his post amid pressure. While the losses can’t be completely placed at Manny Diaz’s feet, he took blame for failing to organize effectively at the local level and for failing to generate voter enthusiasm. Best wishes to the next person who takes the job. She or he will need it.

Alicia Farrant -

A new member of the Orange County School Board and a member of Moms for Liberty, Alicia Farrant failed in her attempt to ban transgender students from using the restroom of the gender they identify with. While she expressed disgust, none of her fellow board members got on board. She’ll likely be a vocal opponent to many things in Orange County, but without the votes, her concerns related to trans students will likely fall on deaf ears.