Winners & Losers

This week’s biggest Winners & Losers

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

Lawmakers love to repeat variations of the old saw that they don’t come to Tallahassee to “pick winners and losers.” Except, well, of course they do, and they do every year. Take legislation getting teed up for the 2023 session, which kicks off March 7. A bill to make it easier to win defamation lawsuits, pushed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, would doubtlessly put media outlets in the “L” column. Meantime, the Legislature gifted itself with a provision in a ‘permitless gun carry’ bill to exempt legislative meetings from places where you’d be allowed to bring a weapon.


Tina Descovich & Tiffany Justice -

The two leaders of Moms for Liberty got a seat at the table with DeSantis and others as the state’s chief executive announced plans to target a dozen school board members across the state in 2024 who “do not protect parental rights and have failed to protect students from woke ideologies.” That means there will be nearly a dozen seats that Moms for Liberty will be looking to recruit candidates for, building on a dominant 2022 election cycle in Florida for the organization.

Desmond Meade -

OK, it’s not a “win.” Yet. But it’s enough of a win just to get nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. That’s what happened to the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, the Orlando group that “spearheaded the campaign to restore voting rights to felons in Florida,” the Orlando Sentinel reported. Desmond Meade, its executive director, called it “the highest recognition that any individual organization could receive.” Whether you agree with their mission, ya gotta give ‘em props.

Christian Ziegler -

Christian Ziegler was just named captain of a team coming off an undefeated season. Last weekend he was voted chair of the Republican Party of Florida, and will be tasked with continuing his party’s peak performance that included securing the governorship, all three state Cabinet positions, and ⅔-plus supermajorities in the Legislature this last election. Talk about being chosen for a job that's nearly impossible to lose.


Janet Cruz -

Damn, Janet. At a recent candidate forum, the Democratic former state senator asked her opponent in the Tampa City Council race, District 3 incumbent Lynn Hurtak, whether she had “a problem with gay people.” Janet Cruz’s daughter is Mayor Jane Castor’s partner, and Hurtak questioned whether Cruz could be an effective check and balance against Castor. A forum organizer later said “people were completely shocked that it took a turn like that.” Ya think?

Jason Pizzo -

The next Senate Democratic leader was just handed an “L” in the courtroom thanks to his GOP colleagues. A judge dismissed Sen. Jason Pizzo’s lawsuit against DeSantis’ migrant flights last year after a special session law passed that made it so the flights didn’t violate the state budget. That’s what happens when your party is up against a supermajority in both chambers – and a likely 2024 presidential candidate.

Rick Scott -

Finally, after shellackings from GOP colleagues and Joe Biden in his State of the Union speech, Sen. Rick Scott walked back part of his Rescue America plan. He revised it to make clear Social Security and Medicare wouldn’t be subject to possible “sunsetting,” or repeal, every five years. He said he never intended that anyway. Somehow, we’re reminded of a certain scene in “Pee-wee's Big Adventure.”