Trump needs Florida in 2020. He obviously knows that.

Trump needs Florida in 2020. He obviously knows that.

By David Smiley (Tampa Bay Times) – Donald Trump must win Florida in 2020 if he wants to remain president. And he knows it. The part-time Florida resident has spent more time here than any location outside of Washington since becoming president, and not just because he likes golf. His campaign is dedicating resources to the state and its 29 electoral college votes as if it were an entire region. And this month alone, the president has made repeated overtures to different segments of Florida’s complex electorate through the power of the purse and international policy. So as Democrats divide their attention among the largest field of candidates in modern history, the president’s reelection campaign is already kicking into gear around a massive voter-data operation and a high-profile stable of surrogates. In a complete reversal from 2016, Trump’s team is in sync from the White House down to the local parties, giving him a vast arsenal with which to target a specific number of voters that strategists believe will send him to four more years in office. Read...
Further investigation into Matt Gaetz is needed for tweet at Michael Cohen, Florida Bar determines

Further investigation into Matt Gaetz is needed for tweet at Michael Cohen, Florida Bar determines

By Steve Contorno (Tampa Bay Times) – An investigation into U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz will proceed, the Florida Bar said Wednesday, meaning the Panhandle Republican could face discipline for allegedly intimidating President Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen. A grand jury-like panel called the Grievance Committee will next decide whether there is probable cause that Gaetz’s tweet violated Florida rules for lawyers. Gaetz, one of Trump’s top allies in Congress, is licensed to practice law in Florida. Read...
Who gives a hoot about who gets to scoot? Florida lawmakers do.

Who gives a hoot about who gets to scoot? Florida lawmakers do.

By Tampa Bay Times – With the industry described by one lobbyist as being in its “infancy,” the full House could take up controversial bill that would limit the ability of cities and counties to regulate scooter sharing services. The House State Affairs Committee on Wednesday approved a bill (HB 453), sponsored by Rep. Jackie Toledo, R-Tampa, that would set up a statewide regulatory framework for the industry, which involves riders using apps to hop on motorized scooters that can be left in various areas. Read...
Trump vowed to ‘defeat AIDS’ in his State of the Union. Florida is ground zero.

Trump vowed to ‘defeat AIDS’ in his State of the Union. Florida is ground zero.

By Steve Contorno (Tampa Bay Times) – President Donald Trump on Tuesday vowed to “eliminate the HIV epidemic in the United States within 10 years” during his State of the Union address. “Scientific breakthroughs have brought a once-distant dream within reach,” Trump said. “Together, we will defeat AIDS in America.” It’s a surprising declaration for a president who has proposed cutting tens of millions of dollars from federal HIV and AIDS programs in his previous budget. And a day after the unexpected announcement, officials couldn’t say how much Trump’s 2020 budget would dedicate to tackling this public health crisis. Read...
DeSantis touts African-American appointees following heated campaign

DeSantis touts African-American appointees following heated campaign

By David Smiley (Tampa Bay Times) – Ron DeSantis was accused on the campaign trail of courting bigots. Now, as Florida’s governor, he’s courting African Americans. Coming off a contentious campaign dominated by allegations of racism, DeSantis touted the diversity of his administration Monday during a Martin Luther King Jr. Day speech at a historically black church in South Florida. In an event intended to promote his plan to expand school vouchers, he also highlighted his minority hires for top posts. Read...