The Dean’s List: A Look at Who Made the Honor Roll in Florida Politics–and Who Didn’t

Those Who Made The Grade

U.S. Sen. Rick Scott. While many industries are looking for a bailout due to the economic threat posed by the coronavirus, this Florida Republican has some objections. Scott is asking why some of these corporations need to be bailed out after they posted good returns over the last several years. If anybody needs financial assistance, Scott implied, it’s small businesses that remain vulnerable. Scott is also one of the few Republicans to note that more federal bailouts will only add to the national debt which stands at $23 trillion. Nice to see the senator stick to his guns and insist on fiscal responsibility.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri. While many cities across Florida have decided to close beaches and hurt the local economy, Gualtieri opposed pushes from county leaders to close down the beach in Clearwater. Gualtieri said the media and elected officials have over hyped the problem.  The sheriff pointed out that his police force simply did not have the manpower to patrol all the beaches. He also insisted there was no need to shut down the beach since, according to his department, the number of beachgoers has dwindled in recent days.  “That attitude…exacerbated the situation and probably influenced some decisions to be made that probably didn’t need to get made,” Gualtieri said.

Congressman Michael Waltz. Two weeks ago, the Democratic-led U.S. House passed a coronavirus relief bill that didn’t have much relief. Waltz was one of only 40 Republicans to vote against the bill. He was also the only member of the Florida delegation to vote against it. While he supported funds to address coronavirus itself, he voted against the measure, insisting it had too much waste without addressing certain areas on how it will be paid for.

Those Who Didn’t Make The Grade

Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Shultz. The South Florida Democrat slammed Gov. Ron DeSantis, claiming his office failed to quickly identify the coronavirus spreading across Florida. At the time of the criticism, Florida had low rates compared to other states–but that didn’t stop the congresswoman. She along with other Democrats in the Florida delegation also went after DeSantis for not ordering a statewide closure of beaches.

Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings. Last Friday, the mayor ordered a curfew for the county from 11 pm to 5 am. Demings said he believes this move will help slow down the growth of the virus in his county. But the curfews endorsed by Demings and other mayors across the state lack consistency. For example, LYNX bus services will remain open while other bus services will be closed. If curfews are needed to stop the spread of the virus, why not shut down the city with an all-day curfew and enforce it where people congregate? That would be more effective than imposing a curfew during early morning hours.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez. This South Florida Republican has said he will close all boat ramps and marinas in order to ensure the safety of “social distancing.” Gimenez fears that people on the water will catch coronavirus. The mayor’s office forced marinas to be closed for all boating activities and police will be out on the water to enforce this ban. Not a good move for the mayor, especially as he continues his challenge to U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, D-Fla.


Reach Ed Dean at

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