Winners & Losers

This week’s biggest Winners & Losers

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

It wasn’t a good look for state Sen. Tom Wright this week. The News-Journal reported that Daytona Beach police issued Wright a “warning for trespassing at a domestic violence shelter,” the Beacon Center, “where he got into an angry confrontation with a worker.” Of all the state lawmakers likely to get into a public row (and no, we’re not naming names), Wright isn’t one of them. The New Smyrna Republican “alleged that the Beacon Center is a haven for human trafficking, prostitution and drugs.” But the state’s inspector general found the allegations “baseless.” With the latest face-off, but we’re keeping an eye on this one.


Tina Descovich -

We’ve said it before, we say it again now: It’s good to be a “Friend of Ron.” Gov. Ron DeSantis just tapped Tina Descovich, best known as a co-founder of the Moms for Liberty parental rights group, to fill a vacancy on the Florida Commission on Ethics. This will only help to increase her standing in the state and nationally. On cue, the appointment spurred on cheers from supporters – and paroxysms of disbelief and even hatred online. (No seriously, our X feed is still recovering.)

Jorge Labarga -

Winners & Losers is going a little rogue with this one, but hear us out. We’re giving Florida Supreme Court Jorge Labarga a win this week for getting a glowing write-up from Bloomberg Law because, honestly, how often do our justices get those? Ahead of what is expected to be fractious oral arguments today in a pivotal abortion law case, Labarga “stands out … His allies describe him as a throwback to a bygone era of centrism and compromise.”

Rick Scott -

DeSantis wouldn’t meet with President Joe Biden for his post-storm appearance in the state, but that didn’t keep another (former) governor away. U.S. Sen. Rick Scott took the photo ops and gave praise to the commander-in-chief he otherwise roundly criticizes. The real reason Scott, who famously hasn’t gotten along with DeSantis, gets the “W” is this Marc Caputo post on X: “For those of us who know Scott … this is a total troll of DeSantis who skipped appearing with POTUS today.” Burn.


Joe Harding -

Well, he was one of our Winners last month, but former state Rep. Joe Harding is back in the “L” column. Federal prosecutors asked a judge to give him prison time “after he pleaded guilty to fraudulently collecting about $150,000 in COVID-19 relief funds,” Click Orlando reported. We’d usually hold back until the actual sentencing, but his brother-in-law also was sentenced to more than five years for a similar scheme. Not looking good.

Alex Kelly -

We’ve met him and can attest he is a nice guy. But sorry, the governor’s acting chief of staff Alex Kelly (and still FloridaCommerce head) is taking one for the team this week. This past weekend, a state judge ruled that the most recent congressional redistricting plan was unconstitutional and needed to be redrawn, the News Service reported. And it was Kelly who drew the DeSantis-submitted congressional redistricting maps during the 2022 legislative session. Whoops!

James Reyes -

WLRN summed it up: “A full decade after the federal government ordered Miami-Dade County to take better care of jail inmates,” the county corrections department “still seen record high deaths and suicides in its facilities.” The silver lining, if you can call it that, is that James Reyes, director of the county’s Corrections Department, has until the “end of October to prove to a federal judge that its jails are meeting the minimum standards for inmate health and safety.”