Jacksonville Mayor-elect Donna Deegan got the spotlight, but there were plenty of other electoral victories in the Sunshine State this week. The Times reported that the Tampa City Council, “including new members Gwen Henderson and Alan Clendenin, elected Guido Maniscalco unanimously” as chair. The Tributary reported, “Jacksonville City Councilwoman Joyce Morgan beat former state representative Jason Fischer to become Jacksonville’s newest property appraiser, the constitutional office with the most control over the city’s budget.” And Panama City elected its first Republican mayor, Dr. Michael “Doc” Rohan, who defeated a 12-year incumbent, according to Florida’s Voice. We’re just getting started …
Donna Deegan -
Jacksonville now has a fresh-faced player with long, blonde locks – and no, it’s not Trevor Lawrence. Democrat Donna Deegan bested JAX Chamber CEO Daniel Davis to become Jacksonville’s next mayor, flipping the seat to become the first woman to hold the office. She beat back superior GOP turnout, capturing the support of NPAs and giving the dismal Dems a shot of hope for the future. As Marc Caputo put it, she “had great name ID & ran a centrist & polite campaign w/message discipline.”
Fred Hawkins -
Take a state representative who’s a DeSantis ally with no higher education experience and what do you get? The “sole finalist to lead a Central Florida state college after three other candidates abruptly withdrew,” as the Miami Herald put it. He could be appointed to South Florida State College (which is actually in Avon Park) next month. Did we mention Fred Hawkins is a former rodeo cowboy once charged with impersonating a cop? Yeehaw!
Corey Simon -
The Florida State standout and Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle (#GoBirds) now is a rookie GOP North Florida state senator. His hometown newspaper, the Tallahassee Democrat, recently pointed out that Corey Simon brought home $62 million more in local funding than his immediate Democratic predecessor, Loranne Ausley. With a Republican supermajority in the Legislature, it’s good to be on the winning team.
Jenna Barbee -
Some news stories are like goulash, making you wonder if they could have any more ingredients in them. Jenna Barbee, a classroom teacher at a K-8 school in Hernando County, is now “under investigation” by the state Education Department for showing her 5th-grade students a 2022 Disney animated movie, “Strange World,” that has an openly gay teenage character. She said the movie tied into her students' Earth science lesson. The state wants to talk to her students. Will this end well?
Tim Smith -
The former Escambia County superintendent was fired by his school board amid criticism that included that he didn’t ban “inappropriate books.” While Tim Smith is out of a job, it may have been a blessing in disguise. The largest book publisher in the country filed a lawsuit against the district for – you guessed it – banning books. In that climate, candidates will surely be lining up to fill the opening left by his ouster.
Francis Suarez -
Miami’s mayor has been floating not-so-subtle trial balloons as he considers entering the 2024 race for president. Those balloons may not fly too high, though, now that he’s been hit with two financial related scandals, one related to not disclosing who paid for his Formula One weekend worth $30,000, and the other working as a consultant for one of the city’s largest developers while in office. The missteps surely don’t help his odds against two, ahem, better known Florida Men.