Steve Contorno
Steve Contorno
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What a Biden presidency means for Florida: 5 things to watch

What a Biden presidency means for Florida: 5 things to watch

/From Cuba and global warming to the space race, the new Democratic president faces decisions that will affect the Sunshine State. The following first appeared in the Buzz newsletter, a weekly dive into the power, politics and influence shaping Florida from Political Editor Steve Contorno and the Tampa Bay Times politics team. To subscribe and receive it in your email inbox each week for free, .The Rundown: Joe Biden is the 46th president of the United States.If you want to read about the Florida reaction, . We have plenty on , too. What about Kamala Harris’ historic day? . Prefer...

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Steve Contorno
5d ago
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Trump’s pardons full of Florida scammers, rappers and well-connected

Trump’s pardons full of Florida scammers, rappers and well-connected

/Stephen Bannon, two rappers and convicted fraudsters to benefit from the presidential power.An eye doctor convicted in the biggest Medicare fraud in the nation’s history. A Miami developer charged in the Varsity Blues college admissions scandal. And five executives accused of defrauding the state of Florida.That’s a sampling of the people with Florida ties who received one of President Donald Trump’s last-minute pardons just before he left the White House. received a pardon or commutation of their sentence early Wednesday morning. Though the final list did not include Trump or his family,...

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Steve Contorno
6d ago
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After Capitol riots, Trump’s Florida supporters huddle online, plan and wait

After Capitol riots, Trump’s Florida supporters huddle online, plan and wait

/They were told their leader would remain in office despite losing the election. He won’t. What now?They descended on the nation’s capital hoping to disrupt a democratic election, then returned to Tampa Bay: a real estate broker, a tech adviser, a singing coach, a coffee shop owner and many more.Some were former tea party members. Others came to politics more recently. They organized in groups, calling themselves “Tampa Bay Trump Club,” “Community Patriots of Pinellas” and “deplorables.” For years, they had listened to one man’s word above all else: President Donald Trump’s.In the days...

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Claire McNeill
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Jan 16
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Florida’s Ashley Moody worked with group linked to Capitol insurrection

Florida’s Ashley Moody worked with group linked to Capitol insurrection

/After Trump supporters rioted at the U.S. Capitol, the Republican attorney general scrubbed the Rule of Law Defense Fund, where Moody served on the board of directors, from her online biography.For more than a year, the official state website for Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said the Republican is “recognized as a national leader” among her peers.Until a few days ago, the website supported this claim by mentioning Moody’s appointment to the board of directors for a conservative organization now facing blow back for its role in the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol last week: The...

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Steve Contorno
Jan 11
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How Matt Gaetz spread a falsehood about antifa infiltrating the mob that attacked Congress

How Matt Gaetz spread a falsehood about antifa infiltrating the mob that attacked Congress

/The episode is emblematic of how misinformation has spread in the Trump eraTo anyone watching television Wednesday, the identity of the violent mob that overtook the U.S. Capitol was unmistakable: Overzealous supporters of President Donald Trump. What with all the Trump flags, MAGA hats and attire carrying the Republican’s campaign insignia, their loyalties were obvious.Yet later that night, as a Congress returned to work, Republican U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz attempted to sow doubt.Citing a loosely sourced report from the Washington Times, a conservative news outlet based in the nation’s...

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Steve Contorno
Jan 7
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Rick Scott says he’s ‘likely’ to reject Pennsylvania electors when Congress votes

Rick Scott says he’s ‘likely’ to reject Pennsylvania electors when Congress votes

/Still no word from Marco Rubio as a Wednesday morningU.S. Sen. Rick Scott said he is “likely” to reject electors from the state of Pennsylvania as Congress votes today to certify the results of Joe Biden’s victory.The Florida Republican accused Pennsylvania’s governor and his administration of taking action leading up to the election that “post a serious threat to the integrity of future elections.” Because of the pandemic and the overwhelming demand for absentee ballots, Pennsylvania allowed for a three-day extension to return mail-in ballots.“This is absurd, and cannot be tolerated,”...

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Steve Contorno
Jan 6
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DeSantis says Florida shipments of vaccines are ‘on hold.’ Pfizer disagrees.

DeSantis says Florida shipments of vaccines are ‘on hold.’ Pfizer disagrees.

/‘No shipments containing the vaccine are on hold or delayed,’ the pharmaceutical giant said in a statement Thursday.TALLAHASSEE — Less than a week into its program to vaccinate millions of residents to protect them from the coronavirus, Florida has hit a potential speed bump.Gov. Ron DeSantis said Tuesday that Florida could receive less than the 452,000 doses of the coronavirus vaccine that the state was expecting because of a “production issue” on the part of a vaccine manufacturer. DeSantis said that two shipments of the vaccine slated to be sent to Florida in the coming weeks are “on...

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Wilson
Dec 17
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Top Florida Democrat steps down after party’s widespread losses in 2020

Top Florida Democrat steps down after party’s widespread losses in 2020

/Terrie Rizzo said she won’t seek another term as chairwoman of the Florida Democratic PartyTerrie Rizzo won’t seek another term as chairwoman of the Florida Democratic Party, she announced Thursday, ending a three-year tenure that saw the party lose a U.S. Senate seat, a narrow race for governor and, most recently, the battle for the state’s 29 Electoral College votes.By stepping down, Rizzo avoided a brewing showdown for her job, where the party’s defeats and financial stewardship under her watch were likely to come under significant scrutiny. In addition to the electoral failures, the...

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Steve Contorno
Dec 4
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DeSantis and Bondi disappear as Trump’s election challenges grow desperate and chaotic

DeSantis and Bondi disappear as Trump’s election challenges grow desperate and chaotic

/The president’s last gasps include conspiracies about Dominion voting machines, used without a problem in Florida, a state he won. President Donald Trump, his progressively desperate legal challenges floundering from a lack of proof, welcomed two high-ranking Michigan Republicans to the White House on Friday as he zeroed in on a new strategy to subvert the election.The latest maneuver would have Republican legislatures in critical states overrule the will of their voters and certify a different slate of electors than the ones chosen by the popular vote.If the move sounds familiar to...

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Steve Contorno
Nov 20
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Florida’s Rick Scott tests positive for coronavirus

Florida’s Rick Scott tests positive for coronavirus

/The Republican senator’s office said he was exposed to someone with COVID-19 on FridayU.S. Sen. Rick Scott has tested positive for coronavirus and is experiencing “very mild symptoms,” the Florida Republican announced Friday morning.Scott’s office believes he contracted the virus last Friday night when he came into contact with someone who later tested positive for COVID-19. After learning about the potential exposure, Scott went into quarantine at his Naples home Saturday morning.Two rapid tests came back negative for COVID-19 but on Tuesday, Scott was administered a more accurate...

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Steve Contorno
Nov 20
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Court packing? Florida Republicans wrote that playbook

Court packing? Florida Republicans wrote that playbook

/Amid all the questions Joe Biden is facing, here’s a history lesson on the GOP power moves to take over Florida’s Supreme Court.The following first appeared in the Buzz political newsletter, a weekly dive into the power, politics and influence shaping Florida from Political Editor Steve Contorno and the Tampa Bay Times politics team. to subscribeThe Rundown: The third and final day of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s testimony ended as the sprint toward her confirmation continues. We’re out of breath just following it. If you missed it, .Like , Biden has dodged questions of whether he’d add more...

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Lawrence Mower
Oct 15
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Will Floridians vote for a $15 minimum wage amid a pandemic?

Will Floridians vote for a $15 minimum wage amid a pandemic?

//At a time when America labor has been redefined and essential employees are celebrated as everyday heroes, Florida voters in November will decide whether the value of work should change, too. When the state locked down nursing homes this summer to block out the coronavirus, NiQwana Church was one of the few people her patients saw most days.For those months, Church, 38, wasn’t only a certified nursing assistant. She was a stand-in for sons and granddaughters and longtime friends. She celebrated birthdays and coached people through lonely hours.“We had to be the ones who were there for...

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Steve Contorno
Oct 15
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Trump returns to Florida’s campaign trail: ‘I feel so powerful’

Trump returns to Florida’s campaign trail: ‘I feel so powerful’

//Many public health experts are worried that Trump is sending a premature message of normalcy with his return to the campaign trail. Trump’s contraction of the virus is emblematic of Americans who have refused to follow federal safety guidelines. SANFORD — President Donald Trump, eager to put his coronavirus hospitalization behind him, returned to the campaign trail Monday night in Seminole County, a critical battleground in the state most important to his reelection chances.Trump emerged on the stage beaming, pointed and then — six days after walking out of Walter Reed as the world’s most...

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Steve Contorno
Oct 12
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In a contested election, this Florida congressional race could decide the next president

In a contested election, this Florida congressional race could decide the next president

//Unlikely but increasingly discussed scenarios have put a spotlight on Florida’s District 15.President Donald Trump’s recent attacks on voting integrity have opened a Pandora’s box of unlikely “what if” scenarios for after the election, the kind that keeps constitutional scholars awake at night. In doing so, Trump has unwittingly elevated a handful of contested congressional races where the outcome could conceivably determine who is the next president.The contest between Democrat Alan Cohn and Republican Scott Franklin for Florida’s 15th Congressional District is one of them.Under the...

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Steve Contorno
Sep 26
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Does Donald Trump own the ocean?

Does Donald Trump own the ocean?

The president’s popularity on the water is second to none. ON THE INTRACOASTAL WATERWAY — On a recent Friday afternoon, Shawn Feeley cruised sun-sparkled Clearwater Harbor alone in his Yamaha center console, a wind-worn Trump flag flapping overhead.When he goes home to Palm Harbor, Feeley, 40, always leaves it flying prominently in the driveway. It’s been there for two years.Trumptillas, or Trump-themed flotillas, have cruised the nation’s waterways in force for months, earning wide attention. But it’s not just the organized parades. There’s a sense in Tampa Bay that Trump owns the ocean....

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Christopher Spata
Sep 17
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In Tampa, Joe Biden vows to military ‘I’ll always have your back'

In Tampa, Joe Biden vows to military ‘I’ll always have your back'

//Biden’s appearance in Tampa marks his first time in the Sunshine State as the Democratic presidential nominee and it comes at a critical juncture in the race.TAMPA — Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden touched down in Tampa at about 1:10 p.m. Tuesday at Tampa International Airport, and it didn’t take long for it to feel like something less than a typical campaign stop.His destination, a gymnasium on the campus of Hillsborough Community College, sat empty, but for some production lights and cameras, a lectern in front of a Biden-Harris backdrop, and tables arranged in a half...

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Steve Contorno
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Sep 15
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Joe Biden is coming to Tampa on Tuesday. Here’s what you need to know.

Joe Biden is coming to Tampa on Tuesday. Here’s what you need to know.

//Biden will speak with veterans during his first appearance in the state as the Democratic presidential nomineeFormer Vice President Joe Biden will hold an event with veterans in Tampa on Tuesday, one of two stops in Florida during his first public appearance in the state as the Democratic nominee for president.The 1:30 p.m. event at Hillsborough Community College is expected to be an intimate round table with veterans, continuing his outreach toward current and ex-military members. Last week, Biden’s campaign released a new 30-second digital ad aimed at voters who live within 50 miles of...

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Steve Contorno
Sep 14
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