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Welcome! This is just our temporary landing page for our free weekly podcast, The Rotunda, which is all about the people and issues shaping Florida politics. We’re glad that you’re here but you should already be getting episodes downloaded to your devices automatically.



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Episode 26: Talk About Ethics

This episode examines how voters in Tallahassee said no to corruption in city politics by limiting the influence of money in local races. Gomes talks with the city’s Ethics Officer, Julie Meadows-Keefe about what they are doing differently to enforce stronger ethical standards. Plus the city’s first in the nation move to allow voters to get up to a $25 tax rebate for campaign contributions is serving as an example to boost civic engagement. Gomes also talks with retired Tallahassee Democrat reporter Bill Cotterell about Florida’s Commission on Ethics and its history of having little to no enforcement authority.

As former President Jimmy Carter undergoes treatment for brain cancer, Bill Cotterell reflects on his time covering the former governor of Georgia and discusses his legacy as the nation’s 39th President.

And is Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio playing too nice? Donald Trump seems to think they need to get a little more realistic.

Episode 25: When Will It End?

This episode features University of Florida political science professor Michael McDonald, as he explains why Florida’s redistricting problems will not be over anytime soon. This week, several lawmakers turned the spotlight on their alma matter, Florida A&M University, the state’s only historically black university, with a public plea for the schools board of trustees Chairman, Rufus Montgomery, to resign and end his “personal feud” with the university’s president, Elmira Mangum. Florida Times Union Bureau Chief Tia Mitchell has been covering the ongoing issues at FAMU and tells Gomes what’s lead to the latest public conflict at the institution that may result in Gov. Rick Scott getting involved.

Episode 24: Who Are You?

This episode tracks the redistricting special session as U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown argue and files suit against the proposed maps claiming they would disenfranchise black voters. Gomes talks with state Sen. Darren Soto about special session and his run for the U.S. House seat being vacated by Alan Grayson.

Wondering why Donald Trump is leading so much in the polls? Rich Ramos, former executive director of the Republican Party of Broward County and chairman of the Tallahassee based consulting firm Ramous & Spark Group, weights in with a pretty good theory about polling data that’s keeping Trump on top.

Episode 23: GOP Debate

This episode previews the redistricting special session with analysis of the “base” congressional map by Michael McDonald, a political scientist at the University of Florida. As the League of Women Voters and Common Cause Florida take issue with the map being drawn behind closed doors, Sen. Don Gaetz says some people will never be satisfied regardless of the process. Gaetz also talks about the intersection of family and politics while speaking to a group of Florida State University political science students.

Also, Gomes recaps the GOP’s big debate night with a focus on Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio to see who stands out most from the crowd.

Episode 22: Transportation Funding

This week’s roundup of top news includes the latest Quinnipiac poll showing the bombastic Donald Trump in the lead as the rest of the GOP presidential candidates battle to make the stage for their first presidential debate of the season. Gomes looks at what’s ahead at the National Urban League Conference in Fort Lauderdale as Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton address black voters.

Gomes switches gears and turns attention to the nation’s transportation infrastructure as politics gets in the way of a long-term solution to keep vital federal dollars flowing to road and highway projects. The Hill’s Transportation reporter Keith Laing discusses the gridlock in Washington while Floridian’s for Better Transportation president, Mattew Ubben, offers his suggestions on ways to bridge the political divide.

Episode 21: “Mount Tallahassee 

This episode examines how former Florida governor and presidential contender Jeb Bush plans to tackle “Mount Washington” the same way he claims to have tackled “Mount Tallahassee.” Gomes talks with Florida TaxWatch President & CEO Dominic Collabro and Dr. Ed Moore, president & CEO of the Independent Colleges & Universities of Florida, during Bush’s kick off speech on domestic policy in Tallahassee.

Gomes also talks with John Celock, Editor of the Celock Report and author of The Next Generation: Young Elected Officials and their Impact on American Politics about who’s likely to be in and out after Florida’s congressional-district maps are redrawn and why it might be helpful for other presidential campaigns to get into a fight with Donald Trump.

Episode: 20 The Drawing Board

The Rotunda takes a second look at Florida’s No. 2 spot as Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera jumps in the race for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by his friend Marco Rubio, who is running for president. The AP’s Brendan Farrington talks with Gomes about Lopez-Cantera’s entry along with the other candidates scrambling for the seat.

Leave it to the Florida Supreme Court to shake things up and force lawmakers back to Tallahassee this summer. Florida Public Radio’s Lynn Hatter chats with Gomes about the big changes ahead, including potential winners and losers as the court orders new congressional district maps in time for the 2016 election. And Bay News 9’s Troy Kinsey gives another prediction on Charlie Crist.

Episode: 19 Scandal

This episode features a revealing interview with Jennifer Carroll, the first black woman to serve as Florida’s lieutenant governor before stepping down amid an Internet gambling scandal. Carroll tells all including run-ins with the press and behind-the-scenes power struggles with Governor Rick Scott’s former Chiefs of Staff Adam Hollingsworth and Steve MacNamara that forced her to resign.

As Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera prepares to announce whether he plans to ditch the post and run for U.S. Senate, Republican strategist Mac Stipanovich who served as chief of staff under Gov. Bob Martinez, explains the true role of the state’s second in command and why some LGs are busier than others.

Episode: 18 Diplomatic Neighbor

We explore the impact to Florida as President Obama announces the opening of an American Embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961. Gomes talks with Dr. Brian Latell, Senior Research Associate at the Institute for Cuban and Cuban American Studies at the University of Miami. Child sex abuse survivor Lauren Book snags the cover of Newsweek with her amazing story and mission to protect kids from sexual abuse. Gomes interviews Book and Newsweek Senior Writer Abigail Jones about their feature, The Predator Next Door. And the conversation continues with Vice President of the Florida State Conference of the NAACP, Dale Landry, as he explains where he thinks the proper placement of the Confederate battle flag should be.

Episode 17: Vindication 

We’re tracking how Florida politicians are reacting to the U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding Obamacare. Gomes talks with Joan Alker, executive director at the Center for Children and Families at Georgetown University and Damien Filer with Progress Florida about the impact of the ruling. Gov. Rick Scott takes the wind out of Florida TaxWatch’s annual list of budget “turkeys,” however the organization’s Vice President of research, Kurt Wenner says their goal was never about beating the governor over what to veto, but about holding legislators accountable through the budget process.

As debate rages on over the use of the Confederate battle flag, Gomes takes a look back in history at Florida’s removal of the flag from the Capitol with Vice President of the Florida State Conference of the NAACP, Dale Landry. And for all those who participated in #CATEBUDGET, the grand prize winner is state reporter for the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Dan Sweeney, who has earned a spot on this week’s episode of the podcast. The game which played out mostly on Twitter, called for the best guess of when the last chamber passes a budget. Thanks to Kevin Cate of public relations firm CATECOMM for infusing some fun and keeping us entertained during special session. Plus, the Supreme Court rules that gay couples have a right to marry.

Episode 16: All In

A closer look at Jeb Bush’s official entry into the 2016 presidential race. Gomes explores how both Bush and Marco Rubio are being forced to address immigration on their campaign stops. Gary Fineout with Associated Press discusses some of the last-minute maneuvers leading to approval of Florida’s nearly $80 billion dollar budget while Will Abberger with the Trust for Public Land who helped get Amendment One on the ballot, tells Gomes the legislature violated the will of the voters by misusing its funds.

Also, are Millenials disengaged and disillusioned with politics? Democrat Edward James III is proving otherwise as he begins his campaign for a 2016 run in Florida’s House District 72 currently held by Rep. Ray Pilon, R-Sarasota.

Episode 15: Credibility 

We head to Europe as former governor Jeb Bush attempts to bolster his foreign policy credentials. Gomes talks with Michael C. Bender of Bloomberg Politics as he travels with Bush to Germany, Poland and Estonia before Bush’s much anticipated June 15 rally in Miami where he’s expected to make his campaign for president official. Gomes examines the backlash of The New York Times coverage of Marco Rubio, the latest budget news from the Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott’s sprint to sign bills into laws.

As he prepares for retirement, Leon County Supervisor of Elections Ion Sancho reflects on his 27 years in office and says Gov. Rick Scott has done an awful job ensuring all citizens can have their votes counted.

Episode 14: Special FHIX

Special session is in full swing as Rep. Mia Jones receive praise for leading Medicaid expansion talks on the House floor, though she tells Gomes it will take miracle to see passage of the Senate’s Health Insurance Affordability Exchange or FHIX plan. Gomes also chats with E.W. Scripps Tallahassee bureau chief Matt Dixon about his coverage of Governor Rick Scott’s Economic Growth Summit and his big transition to head up POLITICO’s growing team of political and policy writers at the Capitol. Gomes also chats with environmental advocates as they attempt to convince lawmakers to increase funding for Amendment 1 during budget negotiations.

Have a horror story about flying to the Capitol? Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum has heard them all and says the city is working on reforms, which includes convincing the Legislature to ease restrictive rules around air travel for state workers.

Also featured: Rep. Larry Lee (D) Port St. Lucie Tallahassee Network of Young Professionals – Meghan Kelly & Dia Combas

Episode 13: Special Green 

We continue to track the latest in the battle over healthcare coverage featuring Bruce Rueben, president of the Florida Hospital Association.

While health care will be the main focus during the special legislative session, environmental groups make their pitch for a redo of Amendment 1 plans. Gomes hears from Mary Barley, president of the Everglades Trust and Eric Draper with Florida Audubon.

And with a legal delay out of the way, excitement is in the air for supporters of Florida’s medical marijuana law known as “Charlotte’s Web.” Gomes chats with lobbyists Jeff Sharkey and Taylor Patrick Biehl, founders of the Medical Marijuana Business Association of Florida about next steps for the industry.

Episode 12: Let It Soak In

We soak in all that was in Jacksonville’s Mayoral race. Florida Times-Union Government reporter Nate Monroe breaks down the key turning points leading to Lenny Curry’s defeat of Alvin Brown. As the Obama administration proposes big cuts in Florida’s Medicaid fight, Florida Politics reporter Christine Jordan Sexton tells Gomes the move is a “game changer” going into the special session. Since Jeb Bush was in the hot-seat last week, it was Marco Rubio’s turn to flub explaining his position on whether he thinks invading Iraq was a mistake.

And want to know the secret to getting your issues heard in Tallahassee? Ryan Duffy, a rising star in Florida politics shares his insights on the process from his time in the executive branch as press assistant to former Gov. Jeb Bush and communications director to former Speaker Will Weatherford.

Episode 11: Slippery Road 

On this episode we zero in on former Florida governor Jeb Bush’s attempt at damage control after flubbing his response to questions about Iraq and accidentally announcing he’s an official 2016 presidential candidate. While Marco Rubio leads in national polls, will the trend continue with Florida’s fastest growing demographic, the Hispanic vote? Democratic Strategist Steve Schale talks with Gomes about the road to the White House via the Sunshine State and why he’s concerned about Rubio’s influence.

When it comes to Governor Rick Scott’s plan for a “continuation budget,” former Republican Sen. Mike Fasano, whom Scott appointed to be Pasco County’s tax collector, ramps up his criticism by telling Gomes that Scott is out of touch and completely unaware about the basic history of Florida. Also State Rep. Alan Williams and Gretna City Commissioner Clarence Jackson make their appeal to Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeals and the public to proceed with a voter approved county-wide referendum in that would allow slots at the Gretna quarter horse racing facility. Plus Craft Brewers celebrate Gov. Rick Scott signing “growler” bill into law.

Episode 10: El Coercion

This episode tackles lies, lawsuits and latest twists in Florida’s healthcare debate with founder and special correspondent of Health News Florida, Carol Gentry. If you think Rick Scott is bad, Tampa Bay Times Columnist John Romano puts it all in perspective with his list of contenders for the worst governor in Florida history. When it comes to lawmakers pushing bills tied to their outside jobs, Integrity Florida’s Ben Wilcox explains why ethical lines are so blurry for Florida’s legislators. Despite Jeb Bush’s lead over Marco Rubio in latest New Hampshire poll, a discussion on why GOP candidates will have to keep a watchful eye on rise of Rubio. Is there too much “pandering” to Latinos? The Daily Show takes a few jabs at Jeb Bush, or as they call him “El Jebe.”

Episode 9: Surprise Sine Die

Florida Legislature’s ongoing impasse over Medicaid expansion continues with attempts by Senate Democrats to get the Florida Supreme Court to force House lawmakers back into session. Former state senator and political commentator Robert McKnight weighs in on what he calls an embarrassment and lack of leadership in the process. Politico’s Marc Caputo offers up his prediction on how the gridlock will get resolved. As the unrest in Baltimore puts race relations back in the spotlight, Gomes talks with Rep. Ed Narain, leader of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus about the challenges facing black Floridians. Sen. Arthenia Joyner who was once arrested for sitting in at a white-only movie theatre discusses the importance of learning from the past and tackling the issues head-on.

Episode 8: Tense Climate 

We track President Barack Obama’s first visit to the Everglades to press his climate change agenda while making subtle jabs at Republicans like Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Rick Scott. Gomes talks with Bloomberg News Washington Bureau reporter, Toluse Olorunnipa, who traveled with President Obama during his Earth Day trip. The chaos and countdown in Tallahassee continues, as it appears everything including the kitchen sink is up for consideration to end the budget stalemate. At the age of 23, Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, the youngest woman to be elected to the Florida Legislature discusses work-life balance and her controversial bill mandating women seeking an abortion to wait 24 hours. Sen. Don Gaetz talks about his relationship with Rick Scott and his possible run for US Senate in 2016. Then a bipartisan group of legislators pressed pause to blow off some steam during a quick game of basketball for a great cause.

Episode 7: Feeling Presidential 

NPR’s former political editor and host of the Political Junkie radio program, Ken Rudin discusses why Marco Rubio wins in the presidential announcement category over Hillary Clinton and the obstacles in front of Jeb Bush when he makes his bid official. The battle over Medicaid expansion continues as Governor Rick Scott announces plans to sue the federal government putting in jeopardy any plans for the House and Senate to find a budget compromise in the remaining days of session. As the Legislature votes to officially take off the books the state’s ban on gay adoption, Gomes talks with Martin Gill, who won the landmark court decision overturning Florida’s anti-gay adoption law. In the latest version of the Growler bill craft brewers say they are hopeful for a happy ending and explain why all the fighting couldn’t be settled over a pint. Plus we catch all the chaos as a Florida man lands a Gyrocopter on the Capitol grounds to deliver special message about campaign finance reform to Congress.

Episode 6: Revenge

We hear the story of Florida State University student Carly Hellstrom, a victim of revenge porn and how she managed to get lawmakers to advance measures to make the practice a felony if passed. As Governor Rick Scott backs away from his support for Medicaid expansion, Senate President Andy Gardiner denies claims that his chamber is being vengeful by delaying confirmation of Department of Health Secretary John Armstrong. Despite a big pitch by Jimmy Buffett, the power of the Parrot Heads weren’t enough to sway lawmakers to spend Amendment One money to purchase environmentally sensitive land, as they’d hope. Gomes talks with Everglades Coalition CEO Eric Eikenberg, President of the Florida Wildlife Federation Manley Fuller as they react to the lack of momentum. U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy makes a stop in Tallahassee to pick up endorsements from Mayor Andrew Gillum and Rep. Alan Williams in his bid for US Senate when Marco Rubio vacates his seat.

Episode 5: Budget Breakdown
The budget battle in the Legislature gets intense with huge a spending gap between the House and Senate over Obamacare. The showdown over the $2 billion Low Income Pool program causes Joan Alker, executive director at the Center for Children and Families at Georgetown University, to lash out against Florida officials via Twitter. Alker says the federal government did not walk away from negotiations as stated by AHCA Secretary Elizabeth Dudek. Senator Bill Nelson and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz lobby for the issue in Tallahassee. Gomes also talks with Sen. Anitere Flores about her bill mandating a 24-hour waiting period and two doctor visits before women can undergo an abortion. Flores also discusses her stance against President Obama’s decision to open diplomatic relations with Cuba. Environmental reporter Bruce Ritchie talks Amendment 1 and Florida Forever program.

Episode 4: Buckle Up For Uber Wars
Uber takes center stage on both the Florida Legislature and streets of Tallahassee. State Rep. Matt Gaetz and Sen. Jeff Brandes explain why Uber is here to stay, while members of the Florida Taxi Cab Association and Florida Limousine Association say they are being thrown under the bus as they call for a level playing field. Florida Times Union Bureau Chief Tia Mitchell talks about upcoming issues, such as Medicaid expansion and tax cuts. In Jacksonville, special correspondent Thomas Andrew Gustafson covers the race for mayor and gets the scoop on who is getting money and endorsements from far beyond the city limits. Gustafson reports on the faceoff between Democratic Mayor Alvin Brown and Republican Challenger Lenny Curry are Jacksonville political journalist, A.G. Gancaraski and University of North Florida Political Science Professor Michael Binder.

Episode 3: Changing Climate
As controversy grows over Florida’s ban on the terms “climate change” and “global warming,” lawmakers find humor in state agency heads refusing to say the terms. State Rep. Michelle Rehwinkle Vasilinda explains why now is the right time to share her story of using a gun to prevent rape while in college and why she thinks other students should be able to do the same. Gomes also chats with Charlie Crist adviser Kevin Cate about what is ahead for the former governor, now that 2016 is off the table. Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Allison Tant and Florida political analyst Susan MacManus also discuss all the conjecture and possible changes in 2016. Former Florida House Speaker Allan Bense opens up about his health condition as he continues to recovery from Guillan-Barré syndrome, a rare disorder that causes muscle weakness and sometimes paralysis.

Episode 2: Florida’s Political Chess
Florida’s ‘Guns in School’ bills with Richard Martinez, father of Christopher Michaels-Martinez, a 20-year-old killed in a shooting near the campus of UC. Santa Barbra. Martinez is calling on lawmakers to stop and think of people like himself, who have lost loved ones to gun violence. Gomes also chats with some Florida Department of Corrections employees who say the chances of any real reform is “nearly impossible” when those responsible for corruption, are now in charge of cleaning things up. Former Florida Senator and syndicated columnist Paula Dockery gives her take on top issues facing the 2015 Legislative Session, and new media entrepreneur Peter Schorsch debuts his new project, Influence Magazine. Gomes will also attempt to find out why Bay News 9 reporter Troy Kinsey refuses to hang up his Charlie Crist impressions.

Episode 1: The Beginning of Florida’s 2015 Legislative Session
An overview of opening week of the 2015 legislative session. Issues will include those such as the infamous “bar fight” with state Rep. Frank Artiles. Interviews with Marc Caputo and Matt Dixon, and the subject of recreational marijuana with state Sen. Dwight Bullard, who talks about the influence of hip-hop on the movement. In addition, longtime political “agitator” Barbra DeVane will give her take on Rick Scott’s State of the State address.