Winners & Losers

This week’s biggest Winners & Losers

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

Gov. Ron DeSantis was a winner and a loser – depending on the pundit – during the GOP presidential candidate debate. Let’s head to Substack! Radio talk show host Erick Erickson said the governor gave “a strong performance. … Everyone chose to go after Vivek (Ramaswamy),” adding “he kept his answers coming back to the future and against Biden.” Commentator Chris Cillizza called him “deeply formulaic and robotic … (with) canned answers taken directly from his stump speech … And there was that weird smile.” Olivia Reingold of the right-leaning Free Press said he “barely made a mark last night … (and) slipped into the shadows.” The candidate himself summed it up Thursday morning before heading back to Iowa: “Look, we're auditioning to be the president of the United States. I'm not here to get into a food fight.”


Joe Harding -

“For the second time in less than a year,” the News Service reported, “a Central Florida federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging a 2022 state law that restricts instruction about gender identity and sexual orientation in schools.” GOP former state Rep. Joe Harding sponsored that law, so he gets a win. Unfortunately for him, he went on to plead guilty to swindling $150,000 in COVID-19 relief fraud and faces sentencing in federal court.

Kimberly Richey -

Hey, pushing back against critical race theory in schools could net you a $183,000-a-year job in the DeSantis administration. That’s what happened to Kimberly Richey, a Trump administration education official and most recently deputy superintendent with the Virginia Department of Education, the USA TODAY Network-Florida reported. Richey, also an attorney, is now a senior chancellor with the Florida Department of Education under Commissioner Manny Diaz Jr. Welcome to Florida!

Susie Wiles -

The Trump campaign manager kept the former president out of the first debate to avoid any unnecessary risk. Yet Donald Trump kept himself in the spotlight with a competing interview with Tucker Carlson (and then by turning himself in the morning after on those pesky charges in Georgia). The campaign trolled Gov. Ron DeSantis with bingo cards and pudding gags. It seems Susie Wiles can do no wrong – as long her candidate keeps crushing in the polls.


Kalautie S. JangDhari -

Fix the dang air conditioning. That’s what both of Florida’s U.S. senators – Republicans Marco Rubio and Rick Scott – told the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs about the Miami VA. In fact, they said they were “alarmed.” Unfortunately, they wrote in a letter, “this is not a one-off event as similar issues have previously occurred that led to the relocation of veteran patients due to dangerous heat.” Miami VA Director Kalautie S. JangDhari is taking a big public “L” on this one.

Francis Suarez -

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez not only didn’t qualify to participate in the first GOP presidential candidates debate, but he also claimed he qualified when in fact he did not. That was after he “raffled off tickets to see Lionel Messi’s MLS debut and offered $20 gift cards in exchange for $1 campaign contributions,” the Herald reported. He previously said anyone who didn’t qualify for the debate should drop out of the race. Will he follow his own advice? Stay tuned.

T.K. Waters -

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office runs the county’s jail, which has seen inmate death rates triple since switching to a private health care provider. Now, two state lawmakers from the area – Rep. Angie Nixon and Sen. Tracie Davis, both Democrats – are calling on the feds to investigate “potential violations of federal law,” according to The Tributary, which has bird dogged this story. Now Sheriff T.K. Waters has a PR – and human rights – nightmare on his hands.