Last Call — A prime-time read of what’s going down in Florida politics.

First Shot

Ron DeSantis’ presidential campaign may not be focusing on New Hampshire, but the Governor still made time Thursday to make an appearance on The Hugh Hewitt Show and a local radio program in the Granite State.

During his segment on Good Morning New Hampshire with Jack Heath, the Governor asserted that he’s the only person in the race who’s actually campaigning.

“I’m the only candidate at this point that’s not running effectively a basement campaign because (Joe) Biden obviously is nowhere to be found as expected, Trump doesn’t debate or take questions, and now Nikki Haley won’t debate or take questions from voters,” he said.

The comments come after Haley announced that she would not participate in any debate unless Trump showed up. The former President, of course, has refused to participate in any of the GOP debates held this cycle, instead opting to hold a series of rallies and town halls that run concurrently with challengers’ sparring contests.

Still, if DeSantis had a basement, the New Hampshire arm of his campaign would be holed up in it.

Following his distant No. 2 finish in Iowa, DeSantis 2024 effectively conceded New Hampshire’s 22 delegates — he’s polling in the single digits there in most polls while Trump leads followed closely by Haley. Trump also jabbed DeSantis this afternoon by claiming he’s “dropped out” of the Nevada caucuses, which are set for Feb. 8.

Team DeSantis hasn’t announced anything to that effect, though the Florida Governor is polling about as well there as he is in New Hampshire.

A recent Emerson College Poll of Nevada Republicans found the Florida Governor 65 points behind Donald Trump’s 73%. DeSantis’ 8% tied him with “undecided” for second place, and puts him 2 points ahead of Vivek Ramaswamy and 4 points ahead of Chris Christie. Both of them are out of the 2024 race.

DeSantis has similarly weak numbers in South Carolina, which also votes next month. But Haley, who served eight years as Governor there, isn’t doing so hot either. Recounting one of his recent campaign rallies in South Carolina, DeSantis dinged her for flagging behind Trump on her home turf.

“I said, ‘Hey, can you tell me what were the major accomplishments of Nikki Haley when she was governor?’ I did not have anyone raise their hand. That is not going to be a state that is conducive,” he said during the Hewitt interview.

It’s a curious line of attack from DeSantis, who is doing comparatively worse in his own home state than Haley is in hers. Granted, DeSantis has more time to close the gap in Florida, but the FiveThirtyEight polling average gives Trump a 42-point edge in the Sunshine State. Haley, meanwhile, is about 30 points back in South Carolina. 

Bill Day’s Latest

Evening Reads

—”The ruin that a Donald Trump presidency would mean” via David Frum of The Atlantic

—”Ron DeSantis regrets anti-media strategy: ‘I should have gone on everything’” via Kimberly Leonard of POLITICO

—”Where does DeSantis go from here?” via Sarah Larson and Tyler Foggatt of The New Yorker

—“John Roberts and Amy Coney Barrett are unsure if they should be in charge of everything” via Ian Millhiser of Vox

—”Trump warns campaigns: Do not hire ex-DeSantis operative Jeff Roe” via Daniel Lippman of POLITICO

—”State opposes Andrew Warren’s request for speedy end to his fight for reinstatement as prosecutor” via Michael Moline of the Florida Phoenix

—”Florida’s Senate passed a sweeping health care bill. What would it do?” via Romy Ellenbogen of the Tampa Bay Times

—”How Tom Keen won HD 35 and why it’s all DeSantis’ fault” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics

Quote of the Day

 “This is not the deadbeat dad bill. This is the good dad bill.”

— Miami Gardens Democratic Rep. Christopher Benjamin, on his bill (HB 663) that presumes a man to be the legal father of a child if he is married to the child’s biological mother at the time of birth.

Put It on the Tab

Look to your left, then look to your right. If you see one of these people at your happy hour haunt, flag down the bartender and put one of these on your tab. Recipes included, just in case the Cocktail Codex fell into the well.

Gov. DeSantis’ presidential ambitions are arguably to blame for House District 35 flipping blue this week. Why not serve him a High & Dry for bringing a flood of Florida Republicans to Iowa rather than letting them seal the deal in Central Florida?

Senate President Kathleen Passidomo’s due for a drink now that her Live Healthy priority has officially cleared the Senate. A Doctor’s Orders would be a fitting choice.

It’s still a contentious bill, but go ahead and serve Sen. Corey Simon gets a 2×4 for softening his child labor measure to block teens from working on roofs in residential and commercial construction sites.

The House Ethics, Elections & Open Government Committee advanced a bill that would put a disclaimer on AI-generated political ads. If you’re not sure what to order bill sponsor Rep. Alex Rizo, perhaps BarGPT could help.

Breakthrough Insights

Tune In

Bucs continue improbable run

One Florida team (the Jacksonville Jaguars) didn’t make the NFL playoffs, and another (the Miami Dolphins) lost in the first round. Only one team from the Sunshine State won a playoff game this year: the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Tampa Bay travels to Detroit to face the Lions on Sunday in a divisional-round game (3 p.m. ET, NBC). The Lions won a playoff game for the first time in 32 years in a 24-23 win over the Los Angeles Rams.

Can the Buccaneers keep it going? The oddsmakers don’t think so. Detroit has been installed as a six-point favorite.

But the Bucs think they can pull it off. Tampa Bay won seven of their last nine regular season games to earn the NFC South championship thanks largely to the play of quarterback Baker Mayfield. In Tampa Bay’s victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, Mayfield threw for 339 yards and three touchdowns, spreading the ball around to nine receivers in the process.

Also of note, the game will feature a matchup of two #1 overall picks at quarterback: Mayfield and Detroit’s Jared Goff. Neither quarterback was drafted by the team they currently play for.

If the Bucs can pull off the upset, they will advance to the NFC Championship Game to face the winner of the Green Bay Packers-San Francisco 49ers playoff game.


6 p.m. — NCAAW: NC State Wolfpack @ Miami Hurricanes

7 p.m. — Minnesota Wild @ Tampa Bay Lightning

7 p.m. — NCAAM: South Florida Bulls @ Memphis Tigers

7 p.m. — NCAAM: Florida International Panthers @ Liberty Flames

7 p.m. — NCAAM: Kennesaw State Owls @ North Florida Ospreys

7 p.m. — NCAAW: Florida State Seminoles @ Syracuse Orange

7 p.m. — NCAAW: Kennesaw State Owls @ Stetson Hatters

7 p.m. — NCAAW: Queens University Royals @ Florida Gulf Coast Eagles


Last Call is published by Peter Schorsch, assembled and edited by Phil Ammann and Drew Wilson, with contributions from the staff of Florida Politics.

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