Florida Backroom Briefing: Coalition Builders?

TALLAHASSEE — Florida Democrats are looking beyond a growing deficit in voter-registration numbers as they try to create alliances this year with Republicans and independents who support abortion rights.

In a conference call Tuesday with reporters, Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Nikki Fried disputed Gov. Ron DeSantis’ assertions that Florida has become Republican territory and that voters will reject a ballot proposal in November that would enshrine abortion rights in the state Constitution.

“We have to build coalitions in order to get these amendments passed,” Fried said. “You’ve seen that time and time again, whether it is the restoration of civil rights (a 2018 amendment to restore felons’ voting rights), whether it is the (minimum wage amendment) fight for $15, the 2016 medical marijuana (amendment), all of these received more than 60 percent because it was a broad coalition.”

DeSantis last week lashed out at the abortion amendment and another ballot proposal that would allow recreational marijuana for people ages 21 and older. Both would need approval from 60 percent of voters to pass.

“Once voters figure out how radical both of those are, they’re going to fail. They are very, very extreme,” DeSantis said.

On Sunday, DeSantis declared Florida safely Republican, as the number of registered Republicans topped registered Democrats by 892,000 as of March 31.

Fried in the conference call stressed that voter registration remains a top focus for Democrats.

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“It is one of the reasons that we have to spend time reorganizing our county organizations, making sure that the party structure is strong and secure,” Fried said.

The party on Wednesday announced a “Take Back Florida Coordinated Campaign” to register voters and re-enroll Floridians to vote by mail.

The Democratic conference call was primarily directed at statements by former President Donald Trump about his stance on abortion.

Trump, a Florida resident, asserted in a video that abortion issues should be left to the states but didn’t mention the Florida proposal. In the same video, Trump said he was “responsible” for the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2022 tossing out the Roe v. Wade ruling that had ensured abortion rights for decades.


State Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis sent out an “in case you missed it” news release on Monday that said he told the Jewish News Syndicate that Florida intends to cut ties with the investment research firm Morningstar until the firm can show it doesn’t have anti-Israel bias in its rating platforms.

“We’re not renewing our services with Morningstar. We’re cutting them loose,” Patronis told the Jewish News Syndicate. “There are other ways we can do this and we don’t need Morningstar helping manage our ratings here in the state’s treasury.”

Morningstar, which has had a contract for about eight years to provide ratings for the state’s employee deferred-compensation program, is on a Florida list of “scrutinized companies.” That list includes companies that the state contends have ties to the boycott, divestment and sanctions, or BDS, movement against Israel.

Lamar Taylor, interim executive director of the State Board of Administration, said at a March 26 Cabinet meeting that Morningstar must provide written confirmation that it has ceased using occupied-territories ratings tags that in any way “convey” an anti-Israel bias and provide monthly reports on carrying out recommendations from experts on Israeli-Palestinian issues. The State Board of Administration oversees state investments.

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The Chicago-based Morningstar objected in October when it was added to the list. The Jewish News Syndicate reported Morningstar and a subsidiary, Sustainalytics, have been altering their environmental, social and governance ratings systems, which a coalition of U.S. Jewish and pro-Israel organizations have alleged were inherently biased against Israel.


Visitor access to the Florida Capitol has shifted from the east side fronting the courtyard to the west side, looking out toward the Florida Supreme Court.

A $45 million redesign of the multi-tiered Waller Park plaza on the west side continues, while a $61 million effort to add energy-efficient, bullet-proof windows across the Capitol complex is now focused on the House Office Building.

The lower deck of Waller Park will continue to be closed off until early- to mid-spring 2025, according to Department of Management Services spokesman Dan Barrow.

Meanwhile, the windows replacement project, being phased in to minimize disruptions, is expected to continue until late 2028, Barrow said.

SOCIAL MEDIA POST OF THE WEEK: “Today, I visited the Baltimore bridge collapse site. As Florida’s former Emergency Management Director, I thank those who have worked non-stop responding to this incident. I urge my colleagues to see it in person, and I’m ready to ensure Congress fully funds this reconstruction.” — Florida Democratic Congressman Jared Moskowitz (@RepMoskowitz) on Tuesday.

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