By Marc Caputo (; @MarcACaputo) with Emily Goldberg (; @ejgold94), Sergio Bustos (; @sbustosFL) and the staff of POLITICO Florida

Good Monday morning. A race to watch for before we get to the tempests.

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MAST ATTACK – First-term GOP Rep. Brian Mast has a potentially well-funded Democratic opponent in Florida’s 18th Congressional District: Lauren Baer, an heir to the Baer’s Furniture fortune. She filed her candidacy Sept. 12 and has raised over $250,000 from donors, according to a press release. More from the announcement: “Between 2011 and 2017, Baer served as a senior advisor to Secretaries of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, and to U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power … Baer currently works as a consultant for Albright Stonebridge Group, the global strategy firm founded by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. She and her wife, Emily, have an 11-month-old daughter, Serena.” Press release is here


POLITICS AMID THE RUINS – Florida Gov. Rick Scott kicks off his Latin American summit in Miami today amid questions about Puerto Rico’s reconstruction and American resolve in the region. If the United States doesn’t do more to fix its regional U.S. territory, how will the nation be easily seen as an effective partner or leader in Latin America? A goal of the summit: “new relationships that will better serve the interests of Florida families, generate economic prosperity and enhance democracy and human rights throughout Latin America.” The summit agenda, packed with Republicans, indicates they’ll talk more about Cuba (those weird “sonic attacks”) and Venezuela, which have many incentives to see the U.S. fail in Puerto Rico. Meanwhile, Scott et al. also have Irma to worry about.

HURRICANE IRMA made landfall 22 days ago, on Sept. 10, in the Florida Keys. And Key West is open for business; the Old Town tourist spots look good. But the drive down is trash. The Overseas Highway is a garbage strip of Irmascape: salt-browned seawrack, foliage, trunks, appliances, bedding, furniture. The Marathon-to-Summerland stretch (about milemarkers 53-23) are really rough. An electrical line crew or two are still at work. Lacking tourists, service-sector workers are struggling. And not just there. There’s still damage from Everglades City in the Southwest all the way to the St. Mary’s River in the Northeast.

HURRICANE MARIA made landfall 12 days ago, on Sept. 20. Its recovery will take decades longer than Florida from Irma. Puerto Rico’s in a ‘death spiral’ and might not get what it needs to thrive. Folks feel forgotten. Hope fades (the pre-storm poverty rate was 43.5 percent, worse than any U.S. state or territory). Trump hate-tweets, gets hate from a Katrina general. And some Republicans are both repelled by the substance of what Trump says and fret about the political effect in Florida in swing state, a Puerto Rican haven.

RHETORIC V. REALITY — “Trump’s upbeat Puerto Rico rhetoric clashes with reality on the ground,” by POLITICO’s Matt Nussbaum and Marc Caputo: Read more

— “Trump faces growing backlash over Puerto Rico response,” by POLITICO’s Louis Nelson: Read more

— “Officials admit Trump was slow on Puerto Rico,” on NBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews: Read more

— “Scott defends Trump’s Puerto Rico response to Hurricane Maria,” by POLITICO Florida’s Bruce Ritchie: On Friday, Scott told reporters outside the White House that Trump, in regards to the response in Puerto Rico, “is focused — he talks about it, he cares about it.” Read more

RECONSTRUCTION KARMA? — Trump picks risky Puerto Rico fight: ‘They want everything to be done for them,’ the president tweets amid mounting criticism of his administration’s disaster response,” by POLITICO’s Marc Caputo and Matt Nussbaum: “He is definitely not helping,” said Republican state Rep. Bob Cortes, a Puerto Rico native who lives in Central Florida, which has seen a huge influx of Puerto Rican families in recent years. Cortes added that the controversy “gives [Democrats] a platform to register new voters.” … The past four top-of-the-ticket races in Florida were decided by 1.2 percentage points or less. Puerto Rican voters already tend to favor Democrats. “It is a political nightmare for both Trump and Scott,” a consultant associated with the [RNC] said in a text message. He said the disaster and Trump’s “asinine response to criticism” have given Democrats “a way to 1) energize Puerto Rican voters in Florida and 2) motivate Puerto Rican residents who will be Florida residents after this disaster.” Read more

— “Puerto Rican migration could impact Orlando jobs, economy,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Paul Brinkmann: Read more

COLONIAL READER by Jean Vidal via Facebook: “Many on the Island have been warped by centuries of colonialism to be wary of biting the hand that feeds (and beats). Speak, but not too loud. Complain, but be careful that we don’t get carried away. It took a dead soldier to mobilize the government against decades of bombing and military occupation in Vieques (credit which goes to Rosselló’s father, Pedro “don’t push it” Rosselló). Right now, this colonialist reaction is in full force. This reaction is not unique to a political party, it is shared through the spectrum (just as the opposite reaction also is).”

GREAT — “After Hurricane Irma: Florida is vulnerable to October storms,” by Palm Beach Post’s Kimberly Miller:Florida remains vulnerable – a sore thumb surrounded by warm waters, and a target for anything that spins up in the Gulf of Mexico or Caribbean Sea. ‘Unfortunately, on the heels of Irma, the riskiest time of year is still ahead of us,’ said Michael Brennan, acting branch chief of the hurricane specialists unit at the National Hurricane Center in Miami. ‘If you are going to get a major hurricane landfall in October, it’s likely going to be in South Florida.’” Read more


— “Costs of Climate Change: Early Estimate for Hurricanes, Fires Reaches $300 Billion,” by Inside Climate News’ Sabrina Shankman: Read more

— “‘We’re not leaving the Keys, no matter what’” by FL Keys News’ Katie Atkins: Read more

— “‘It’s not the same place.’ Florida Keys reopen but still need to rebuild: by the Tampa Bay Times’ Steve Contorno: Read more

— “New law requiring autism training for police officers to take effect,” by Miami Herald’s Elizabeth Koh: Read more

— “Irma washed out about a fifth of area turtle nests,” by Herald-Tribune’s Elizabeth Dijnis: Read more

— “Mobile home residents without insurance in FL flood zones fall through the cracks,” by Naples Daily News’ Brett Murphy: Read more

— “Florida Keys launches $1 million emergency tourism campaign,” by AP: Read more

HURRICANE JOAQUIN — “Coast Guard report: Captain errors led up to El Faro sinking,” by AP: A Coast Guard report released Sunday says the primary cause of the 2015 sinking of the cargo ship El Faro, which killed all 33 aboard, was the captain underestimating the strength of a hurricane and overestimating the ship’s strength. The report said Capt. Michael Davidson should have changed the El Faro’s route between Jacksonville, Florida, and San Juan, Puerto Rico, to avoid Hurricane Joaquin’s 150 mph (240 kph) winds. When the 790-foot (240-meter) vessel got stuck he should have taken more aggressive measures to save it.” Read more

— Read the final El Faro report here


‘TRAGEDY POLITICS — “Democrats continue slamming Scott after police say nursing home death toll reaches 12 victims,” by POLITICO Florida’s Matt Dixon: Democrats are continuing to turn up the political heat on Gov. Rick Scott over the tragedy at a Hollywood nursing home following Hurricane Irma that has now claimed 12 victims. The death toll tied to the storm knocking out air conditioning at a Broward County facility grew to 12 Friday, the same day Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham filed a public records request with Scott’s administration seeking records related to the deaths. She is requesting all communications tied to the private phone number Scott gave to nursing homes and communications between his office, the Agency for Health Care Administration and the Department of Children and Families related to the deaths, which occurred at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills. Scott’s personal cellphone has been the focus of much of the scrutiny after he deleted four messages he received from the facility after the storm. Scott says all the messages were forwarded to appropriate state agencies, and has slammed the facility for not calling 911. Read more

THE JUICE: FLORIDA ORANGE? — “Bondi doesn’t want O.J. Simpson moving to Florida,” by POLITICO Florida’s Matt Dixon: Attorney General Pam Bondi sent a letter Friday objecting to the idea that O.J. Simpson move to Florida when he is released from a Nevada prison next week. “Floridians are well aware of Mr. Simpson’s background, his wanton disregard for the lives of others, and of his scofflaw attitude with respect to the heinous acts for which he has been found civilly liable,” Bondi wrote. … Bondi has called on Floridians to use their smartphones to document anywhere The Juice goes to report wrongdoing. Read more

IN DIXIELAND, THEY TAKE THEIR STAND — “City Council president says all options on the table for Jacksonville’s Confederate monuments,” by Florida Times-Union’s Christopher Hong: “More than a month after calling for the removal of Confederate monuments from public property, the Jacksonville City Council president says she is still researching the issue and that every option remains on the table.” Read more

— “James: Confederate flag burner hopes to educate NASCAR fans,” by USA TODAY Sport’s Brant James: Read more

WHAT COULD GO WRONG? — “Once called too risky, Florida online voter registration finally arrives,” the Tampa Bay Times’ Steve Bousquet: “Florida is now the 35th state in the U.S. where people have the option to register to vote or to update their registration online. The system went live Sunday, more than two years after the Legislature passed a bill requiring online registration to take effect by Oct. 1, 2017. The site, in English and Spanish, is here. Applicants are required to provide information, such as the date their driver’s license was issued and the last four digits of their Social Security number. The 2018 election for U.S. Senate and governor will be the first in Florida to use online registration.” Read more

CUBA BAN? — “Tillerson warns Americans not to travel to Cuba, reduces Havana embassy staff,” by POLITICO Florida’s Sergio Bustos: In response to unexplained attacks against U.S. Embassy staff in Cuba in the past year, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Friday that the State Department will reduce its staff in Havana and is warning Americans not to travel to the island nation. Tillerson, in a short statement issued Friday afternoon, said the action was being taken against the Cuban government in response to “attacks of an unknown nature” against 21 embassy staff, who have suffered from hearing loss, dizziness, headache, fatigue and other cognitive issues. U.S. authorities, he said, have been unable to identify who may be responsible or what is causing the attacks.” Read more

EYE FOR AN EYE — “Rubio: ‘Shameful’ Castro can keep as many staffers as he wants in U.S.,” by POLITICO’s Louis Nelson: Read more

THE SOUND OF MONEY — “Travel industry sticking with trips to Cuba from US,” by AP: “Tour companies, airlines, cruises and others in the travel industry say they will continue taking Americans to Cuba despite a dramatic safety warning issued Friday by the U.S. State Department. ‘We continue to believe that Cuba is a safe destination for our travelers, and we will be running our tours until our assessment changes,’ said Greg Geronemus, CEO of SmarTours … Travel providers point out that there are no reports of American travelers having been harmed by the mysterious sonic attacks against U.S. diplomats and other officials, and that travel to Cuba by Americans remains legal under existing regulations.” Read more

PAGE TURNER — “Ex-Florida House Page Program director convicted of trying to entice 14-yr-old girl,” by the Tallahassee Democrat’s Ashley White:“The former Florida House Page Program director was convicted Friday of attempted enticement of a minor. Michael A. Chmielewski, 38, was found guilty in U.S. District Court in Tallahassee after a three-day trial. He faces a minimum of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison. During ‘Operation Cupid’s Arrow’ in February, undercover investigators interacted with people trying to engage in sexual activity with minors. Chmielewski responded to a Craigslist ad from an investigator posing as a 14-year-old girl named ‘Sara.’ They talked for two days on a messaging app. Chmielewski discussed sexual activity with ‘Sara’ and traveled to meet her in person. He was arrested upon arrival.” Read more

THE STONE ZONE — @kenvogel: “Trump confidant @RogerJStoneJr, fresh off his testimony to House Intel Cmte, dancing to @RapperToneLoc’s Wild Thing.”

THE STONED ZONE — “Matt Gaetz to speak at medical marijuana doctors conference with Trump associate Roger Stone,” by Tampa Bay Times Kirby Wilson: Read more


BEAR! — “Florida bears becoming more active as winter nears,” by AP: “Florida officials are reminding rural residents that bears are becoming more active as they try to add calories in preparation for winter. … The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says bears require about 20,000 calories a day and will forage in trash cans to get the most energy-packed food they can find. The Gainesville Sun reports that bears are most active around dusk and dawn and drivers in heavily wooded areas should be careful.” Read more

— “Protesting racial injustice, hundreds join Florida March for Black Women,” by Miami Herald’s Elizabeth Koh: Read more

— “Viral video shows UCF police officer battling sneaky snake,” by Miami Herald’s Bianca Padró Ocasio: Read more

— “Cuban Doctors Revolt: ‘You Get Tired of Being a Slave,’” by The New York Times’ Ernesto Londoño: Read more

— ”Deputies: Drug dealer’s security cameras help detectives,” by AP: Read more

— “Doctor’s license suspended after he texted female patient ‘You need a sugar daddy,’” by Miami Herald’s Daniel Chang: Read more

— “Body found 33 years ago identified as missing Florida man,” by AP: Read more

WE USE OUR WORDS, NOT OUR FISTS, REPRESENTATIVE — “‘Punch you in the face’ tweet over NFL protests has some wanting to punch this lawmaker,” by Miami Herald’s Howard Cohen: Here’s whay Rep. Julio Gonzalez, a doctor, tweeted: “It’s not about disrespecting you. I just wanted to raise awareness of what happens when I punch you in the face.#BoycotttheNFL.” Let’s boycott violence, too. Read more

— “‘We stand for the Pledge,’ teacher tells 6-year-old who took a knee in class,” by Miami Herald’s Howard Cohen: Read more

WE USE OUR WORDS, NOT OUR GUNS — Volusia Sheriff’s Office: “At a birthday party in Deltaona, 41-year-old Jose Amaro got involved in a discussion “about politics, Trump and the situation in Puerto Rico.” The drunken argument escalated, and “Amaro became angry, shoved his brother-in-law, went inside the house and grabbed a handgun … “Others at the party tried to restrain Amaro, but he fired one shot out into the yard before a witness tackled him. The bullet hit his [17-year-old step-daughter] in the right knee.” The report is here

FOR MORE political and policy news, check out Politico Florida’s home page: And please follow our staff @mdixon55, @sbustosFL, @christinesexton, @dducassi, and @bruceritchie on Twitter.

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