Good morning and happy Friday.
The Donald Trump-supporting political action committee Make America Great Again Inc. is out with a trio of billboards in Tallahassee bashing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on his home turf.
The topic du jour? Blaming DeSantis for expensive home insurance premiums.
One billboard mocks the governor for “flying high” — just like insurance costs — because of his penchant of using private jets for travel. “The only thing worse than your poll numbers is our insurance rates,” reads another ad. The third makes fun of DeSantis for having a golf simulator at the governor’s mansion, lent by wealthy donor Mori Hosseini, as reported in the Washington Post. “Get to work lowering our insurance costs, not your handicap,” reads that billboard.
MAGA Inc. posted one billboard near a road between downtown and the governor’s mansion, and two others along common routes to the airport — meaning DeSantis is likely to see them when he flies in and out of Florida’s capital.
This is the latest onslaught of negative attacks on DeSantis from the MAGA PAC, which has spent more than $23 million on the effort against DeSantis, more than against any other GOP rival or against President Joe Biden.
Still, the property insurance issue is salient for Florida residents, who pay an average of $6,000 a year in case their homes get hit by floods or hurricanes. The issue has gotten worse in the time DeSantis has been in office.
DeSantis is set to be in Tallahassee on Tuesday for his State of the State address, then he’ll fly back to Iowa for a town hall with Fox News in Des Moines (where weather forecasts show snow is coming). His campaign did not respond to a request to comment on the ads.
The billboards will stay up until the end of the month as the GOP-controlled Legislature kicks off its session. Some legislative leaders have been hesitant to address property insurance again, given that they and DeSantis already took aim at the issue at least five different times since 2021. DeSantis’ budget calls for cutting insurance taxes, and several other bills have been introduced to try to lower costs.
Plenty of Florida lawmakers concede that property insurance is the issue they hear about most from their constituents, as rates remain stubbornly high. Trump himself often brings it up on social media and during rallies in Florida, and analysts say they’re not sure when the problem will get better even though a 2023 law that makes it harder to sue insurers was supposed to show results within 18 months.
— WHERE’S RON? Gov. DeSantis is doing an interview with Eben Brown that will air on Fox News Rundown throughout the morning. He’s attending events today and tomorrow with Never Back Down, the super PAC supporting his candidacy, in Iowa alongside congressional GOP allies Reps. Thomas Massie of Kentucky and Chip Roy of Texas.
At 1 p.m. EST on Saturday he’ll join Robin Johnson on Heartland Politics on WVIK. On Sunday, he’ll speak at a meet and greet in Grimes, Iowa.
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— POLITICO’s Gary Fineout is on the ground in Iowa. Follow along on X.
COMING UP — Advocates nearing the impossible: Securing abortion rights in Florida, reports POLITICO’s Arek Sarkissian. Groups seeking a constitutional amendment protecting abortion are on track to have enough state-certified signatures by the Feb. 1 deadline to put a referendum on the 2024 ballot.
If successful, voters in the country’s third most populous state could undo Florida’s abortion bans, keeping access open to thousands of patients throughout the south who travel to Florida from neighboring states — and from as far away as Texas — to avoid more restrictive prohibitions.
ABORTION BAN APPEAL— “Florida appeals court rejects minor’s attempt to get abortion without consent,” reports Jim Sauders of News Service of Florida. “For the second time in less than three weeks, an appeals court Wednesday rejected a minor’s attempt to have an abortion without notifying and getting consent from a parent or guardian. But the ruling by a three-judge panel of the 1st District Court of Appeal could have broader implications for future requests by minors to receive waivers from a parental notification and consent requirement in state law.”
ACCELERATION — “Florida Attorney General wants ACC’s ESPN contracts amidst FSU lawsuit,” reports the Tampa Bay Times’ Matt Baker. Attorney General Ashley Moody “sent a public-records request asking for all ACC ‘financial, business, and membership records’ related to FSU. Those include grant-of-rights agreements and contracts and communications with the conference’s TV partner, ESPN.”
EDUCATION DEREGULATION — Groups like Moms for Liberty oppose a plan to give parents more control over whether their children will repeat third grade if they don’t progress in reading, per Jeffrey S. Solochek of the Tampa Bay Times. The Moms for Liberty Florida Legislative Committee, Florida Citizens Alliance and Citizens Defending Freedom wrote: “While there is an argument that retention needs to be balanced with parental rights, an illiterate child allowed to advance will not only never recover but will have a significant negative impact on the 4th grade class. Standards are in place for a reason. This needs to be removed.”
SCHOOL CURRICULUM BILL — “Lawmakers in Florida this week filed a bill taking aim at Democrat Vice President Kamala Harris, who has visited and spoken out several times in Florida on issues of Black history and slavery,” reports Florida Phoenix’s Diane Rado. “The Republican legislation filed Wednesday in the Florida Senate (SB 1192) is described as: ‘Kamala Harris Truth in Slavery Teaching Act.’ … [It] would require public-school instruction about African American history and “which political parties supported slavery.”
ANDREW GILLUM RE-ENTERS PUBLIC LIFE — The former 2018 gubernatorial candidate who lost to DeSantis is co-hosting a podcast called “Native Land Pod” with iHeartPodcasts, per Essence. The first episode airs Jan. 11.
IMMIGRATION DESTINATION — “South Florida sees bump in migrant landings. Is another seasonal surge coming?” by David Goodhue of Florida Keys News. “For now at least, arrivals in December and the first days of January are down dramatically from the previous holiday season when so many people poured in — often with several landings a day — that it overwhelmed local law enforcement agencies in the Florida Keys and forced both DeSantis and Biden to send in emergency reinforcements. Since that crisis, the latest statistics show that the number of migrants taking to the sea to come to South Florida has sharply declined.”
FOLDING — “onePulse sheds employees, website and social media pages amid surprise Dec. 31 shutdown,” reports the Orlando Sentinel’s Amanda Rabines. “After raising millions but making only halting progress to build a memorial in honor of the victims of the 2016 Pulse nightclub massacre, the onePulse Foundation has quietly folded as it works to redistribute its programs and pay off debts.”
— “Appointed by DeSantis, Suzy Lopez shores up support in bid for Hillsborough state attorney,” reports the Tampa Bay Times’ Dan Sullivan
LEADERSHIP COMMITTEE — “DeSantis PAC makes donations to Iowa lawmakers who endorsed him,” reports The New York Times’ Nicholas Nehamas. “Great American Comeback gave a total of $92,500 to 14 legislators between October and December — all of whom had earlier endorsed DeSantis, the records show. That figure includes $15,000 each to two of DeSantis’s most prominent legislative endorsers, Amy Sinclair, the Iowa State Senate president, and Matt Windschitl, the Iowa House majority leader.”
HALEY HITTING DESANTIS TURF TO FUNDRAISE — Former U.N. Ambassador Niki Haley is holding three fundraisers in Florida on Jan. 31, including two in Miami and one in Palm Beach, reports Teddy Schleifer of Puck News. Hosts include billionaire hedge fund manager Dan Och and Barry Sternlicht, chairperson of Starwood Capital Group.
— DeSantis smacks Trump and other takeaways from 2 CNN town halls, by POLITICO’s Kimberly Leonard and Lisa Kashinsky
LATEST ATTACK — “‘DeSantis calls Haley a ‘phony’ who ‘just doesn’t get Iowa,’” reports the Des Moines Registers’ Katie Akin. “The Florida governor criticized Haley for recent gaffes, like calling Iowa Hawkeyes basketball superstar Caitlin Clark by the wrong name and joking in New Hampshire that its primary would ‘correct’ Iowa’s caucus results.”
BACKSLIDE — DeSantis was the first Republican in 20 years to turn Miami-Dade County red when he won reelection in 2022, but a new straw poll suggests his presidential campaign is having an effect on his popularity in Florida when it comes to grassroots Republicans.
The party held an impromptu paper ballot vote on Wednesday to discover members’ choice for the presidential primary, and Trump was the overwhelming favorite. Of 65 party members who met in Miami Wednesday night, 53 votes went for Trump. Only five voted for DeSantis.
The vote isn’t binding and doesn’t count as a formal endorsement. Over in Broward County, Republicans planned to hold a vote to endorse Trump last night but didn’t have a quorum because too many people were still out of town, so they conducted a nonbinding straw poll instead.
The results? Out of 83 participants, 72 supported Trump. Four supported DeSantis.
ON THE ISSUES — “After Iowa school shooting, DeSantis says gun violence is a ‘local and state issue,’” reports Katie Akin of the Des Moines Register. “Hours after multiple people were shot at a high school in Perry, Iowa, Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis said gun violence should be addressed at the state and local level — without any new federal restrictions on firearms.”
NEVERMIND — “Florida venue cancels Marjorie Taylor Greene event after learning of its Jan. 6 focus,” reports NBC News’ Matt Dixon. “The event was set to be hosted by the Republican Party of Osceola County at the Westgate Resorts in Kissimmee. It was originally pitched to Westgate as a small book-signing event featuring Greene, without mention of Jan. 6 … The cost to attend was $45 to $1,000 to meet Greene and ‘receive a signed copy of her book.’”
IT’S COCONUT FLAVORED — Democrat Phil Ehr’s congressional campaign is delivering a cake today that’s labeled, “Happy Failed Insurrection Anniversary Carlos y Donald” to the Miami district offices of Rep. Carlos Gimenez (R-Fla.) to mark the third anniversary of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Ehr, a retired U.S. Navy commander, is challenging Gimenez for the seat.
“The best thing about this anniversary is that democracy prevailed while Congressman Gimenez and Donald Trump failed,” Ehr said in a statement.
The stunt toward Gimenez, a Cuban-American, comes as Biden is preparing to deliver a speech on Democracy later today. Gimenez, like 138 other House Republicans, voted to overturn the Electoral College results.
The Gimenez campaign responded with: “As a victim of a murderous Communist regime, Congressman Gimenez is proud to stand with President Donald J. Trump and the America First agenda. It’s clear this failed Democrat opportunist is not ready for primetime — everyone knows in Miami we prefer pastelitos de guayaba.”
SENTENCED TO 10 YEARS — Jan. 6 defendant Christopher Worrell tearfully tells judge: ‘You very likely saved my life,’ by POLITICO’s Kyle Cheney. Jan. 6 defendant Christopher Worrell credited U.S. District Court Judge Royce Lamberth with saving his life two years ago, when he freed the Florida Proud Boy from pretrial detention over concerns about his medical treatment.
STINKER — “Lawsuit: Exploding toilet at Dunkin’ store in Winter Park left customer filthy, injured,” per The Associated Press
BIRTHDAYS: Adam Yeomans, regional director at The Associated Press … (Saturday) Former Florida House Speaker Jose Oliva … (Sunday) Diane Roberts, author, columnist and professor at Florida State University … Chris Spencer, director of the Office of Policy and Budget for Gov. Ron DeSantis … former University of South Florida President Judy Genshaft … DeeDee Rasmussen, chapter president/CEO of ABC North Florida … Mark Lane, metro columnist for The Daytona Beach News-Journal
Alice J. Roden started working for Trending Insurance News at the end of 2021. Alice grew up in Salt Lake City, UT. A writer with a vast insurance industry background Alice has help with several of the biggest insurance companies. Before joining Trending Insurance News, Alice briefly worked as a freelance journalist for several radio stations. She covers home, renters and other property insurance stories.