The Capitolist’s Champ and Chump of the Week – 2/14/20: Michael Waltz and Mary Ellen Klas

by | Feb 14, 2020

At the end of every week, we praise a political playmaker, “swipe left” on the week’s biggest political loser, and explain what it all means for Florida’s political arena. 


👍🏆 CHAMP: U.S. Representative Michael Waltz

Champ of the Week

For most lawmakers in Florida, any press is good press. But when it comes to re-election, Trump press is the best press.

This weekend, U.S. Rep. Michael Waltz will attend the 62nd annual NASCAR Daytona 500 race in Daytona Beach. This year’s “Super Bowl of Stock Car Racing,” however, will be one to remember, with President Donald Trump attending the event alongside Waltz.

Waltz, who represents Florida’s 6th congressional district that includes the Daytona Beach area, personally invited Trump to the event.

“The Daytona 500 is a family-friendly, patriotic, All-American event,” Waltz said. “This year, our district is especially lucky not only to host the Daytona 500 but also to welcome our President to join in on the fun and excitement.”

Trump will serve as the Grand Marshal for the Great American Race, marking the first time in history a sitting or former U.S. President has held the role. The only other time a President has attended the race was when George W. Bush attended the race in 2004.

“I’m thrilled and race fans should also be excited to welcome President Trump to Daytona this weekend,” Waltz continued.

Waltz, a Republican who now represents the district once held by Governor Ron DeSantis, is seeking re-election in 2020.

The Army Veteran has amassed an impressive war chest thus far, raising close to $1 million thanks to strong fourth-quarter fundraising. Rubbing elbows will Trump this weekend should only strengthen his coffers and may lead to additional “opportunities” in the near future.

👎❌ CHUMP: Miami Herald Bureau Chief Mary Ellen Klas

Chump of the Week

It’s been a rough week for the Miami Herald and their Capital Bureau Chief Mary Ellen Klas.

In a story released this week by The Capitolist, McClatchy Company, the parent company of the Herald, and staffed by a labor union that represents reporters, photographers and other journalists, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in New York on Thursday. The union, One Herald Guild, was formed by Klas and other colleagues and promises to “advocate for better conditions in their workplace and fight to protect their ability to produce award-winning journalism for years to come.”

NewsGuild, the union that represents journalists at six McClatchy newspapers, including the reporter members of One Herald Guild, issued a statement through their president, Jon Schleuss, that appeared to be at odds with the real-world economics of the news business.

“Continued financialization of local news will destroy our democracy. It’s time for communities across America to stand up and fight to save local news.”

To save face, One Herald Guild issued a statement, reassuring the Chapter 11 bankruptcy — which allows McClatchy to restructure its debts — has a silver lining.

“Chapter 11 restructuring does not release the company — regardless of ownership — from their legal obligations to bargain with our union in good faith,” the press release stated. “Chapter 11 does not undermine the fundamental rights of unionized employees. Nor should the uncertain future prevent any other non-unionized newsrooms from organizing. We stand with all our colleagues across the McClatchy Company.”

While legacy newspapers continue to struggle, news outlets with a digital focus have found ways to thrive. There are currently at least six digital-only media outlets covering Florida politics and policy that didn’t exist ten years earlier.

McClatchy publishes 30 newspapers across the country, including the Miami Herald, the Bradenton Herald, and the Spanish-language El Nuevo Herald.

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