Winners & Losers

This week’s biggest Winners & Losers

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

Florida Supreme Court Justice Charles Canady is in a lose-lose bind. His former colleague, retired Justice Barbara Pariente, said publicly that he should recuse himself from a case challenging the state law outlawing abortion before 15 weeks of pregnancy. In part, that’s because his wife – GOP state Rep. Jennifer Canady – co-sponsored the bill. “I know Justice Canady to be of the highest ethics. I cannot imagine himself not recusing himself,” said Pariente, who retired from the court in 2019. If Canady does recuse, does it look like he gave in? If he doesn’t, does he look unethical? Stay tuned. 


Sarah Leonardi -

Broward School Board Member Sarah Leonardi gets to say “I told you so” after opposing a recent clear-backpack requirement in the county’s public schools. “The initiative was fraught from the start,” the Sun Sentinel reported, after questions over whether the decision ran afoul of the state’s open meetings law and parents and others complained that clear backpacks would compromise student privacy. The district backtracked, putting the kibosh on the whole plan.

Tina Polsky -

State Sen. Tina Polsky, a Boca Raton Democrat, got a win when Gov. Ron DeSantis signed her bill decriminalizing fentanyl test strips in Florida, joining a majority of other states that have already done so. “Fentanyl strips were previously considered ‘drug paraphernalia,’ making it a crime to possess or distribute the testing kits,” the Tallahassee Democrat explained. The fact that DeSantis has been on a tough-on-drugs kick of late makes it even more impressive.

Peter Schorsch -

The Florida Politics publisher was trolled by none other than the super PAC behind Ron DeSantis’ presidential bid. After Peter Schorsch, a Disney Cruise aficionado, tweeted a picture of his cabin door and questioned DeSantis’ fight with Disney, the Never Back Down account replied, “We get it, you’re bought and paid for by the groomers and Trump.” The dig backfired as the tweet got ratioed and online commentators came to Schorsch’s defense. Somebody forgot the rule: “You come at the king, you best not miss.”


Grady Douglas Owens -

Add this former student of Winter Park's Full Sail University to the list of Florida-connected individuals getting punished for the Jan. 6 insurrection. Owens struck a police officer with a skateboard during the U.S. Capitol takeover, and has subsequently been sentenced to more than three years in federal prison. He won’t be alone, as his Texas-based father Jason Owens was also sentenced for actions during the insurrection on the same day. It’s a family affair.

Kim Rivers -

The CEO of Florida medical marijuana titan Trulieve is one of the big players pushing for a constitutional amendment to legalize recreational marijuana in the state, but it’s opposed by two of Florida’s top officials. Gov. Ron DeSantis even went so far as to call medical marijuana programs “very controversial.” And Attorney General Ashley Moody is angling hard to stop the ballot initiative in the courts. If it does get on the ballot, it’ll be up to Floridians, but having both statewide electeds signaling against it isn’t good for PR.

Francis Suarez -

Miami’s mayor and one of the most recent entrants into the 2024 GOP presidential field committed a significant foreign policy flub during a Fox News interview. He appeared to not know about the Uyghur ethnic minority in response to a China foreign policy question. Then he claimed he didn’t recognize the interviewer’s pronunciation after the fact. Isn’t that what they all say? Whatever the reason, it's unlikely to help his long-shot candidacy.