Even though classic costumes such as witches, vampires and Frankenstein’s monster may have gone out of style and been replaced by superheroes and Star Wars characters, the Halloween spirit is alive and well.
The Florida Department of Health said this week that the average American will eat 3.4 pounds of candy this weekend, and many kids will eat more than 70,000 calories during their post trick-or-treating binge. It’ll take more than a couple loops around the block to work that off.
There’s no such thing as Halloween without candy, and when it comes to sweet treats, always go for the real stuff. The United States Sugar Corp. remains one of the top principals in the state, paying out nearly $550,000 to its 27-member lobbying roster in the first two quarters of the year. The Corn Refiners Association, purveyor of sweet, sweet high-fructose corn syrup, also spent $10,000 on its pair of lobbyists, Mark Anderson and Travis Moore.
Topping the list for U.S. Sugar were Tallahassee heavyweights Ballard Partners and Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney.
Florida Crystals, U.S. Sugar’s West Palm Beach-based competitor, according to state lobbying employs no fewer than 35 registered influence professionals, including from Corcoran & Johnston, Kevin Cleary, David Custin, and Anfield Consulting.
Americans are expected to spend $6.9 billion on costumes, candy and other Halloween supplies this year, and big box retailers Target, represented by folks such as GrayRobinson, and Wal-Mart, which retains Corcoran & Johnston, will get in on both sides of that action. Team blue might be the better choice if you don’t want to wait in line on that last-minute candy run – the company recently rolled out its online grocery ordering system in a handful of Florida markets.
If the costume section looks a little picked through, though, it’s not too late to hop on Amazon and order a thing or two from the business launched by former first lady Carole Crist‘s family: Franco American Novelty Co.
A few hours into Halloween night, when the elementary school-age kids are in bed and more and more non-costumed teens knock on the door expecting candy, it might be time for a few libations. Thanks to the beer lobby – including Holland & Knight’s Josh Aubuchon, Southern Strategy Group, and Corcoran and Johnston – beer aficionados can now grab a 64-ounce growler from their favorite brewery without any hassle.
Rhett O’Doski of the Tampa Bay Brewers Guild pitched in significantly as well, taking on an issue of particular importance in the region represented by Majority Leader Dana Young and Rep. Chris Sprowls. O’Doski took home up to $9,999 for his efforts on that front, as well as between $10,000 and $19,999 for his aforementioned work for Florida Crystals.
Steve Schale provided some across-the-aisle assistance as well on behalf of Intuition Ale Works and the home-brewed Brewing Liberty Caucus, which was able to claim victory at long last in 2015.
A bottle of the hard stuff will still take a trip to the liquor store, though. Maybe next Halloween Floridians can get their Halloween and liquor shopping out of the way with one stop at the grocery store, depending on how “whiskey and Wheaties” fares this session.
Sipping a drink and waiting for knocks on the door doesn’t do it for everyone. If that’s the case, putting a bowl of candy on the front step and taking a trip to Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights could make for a fun and festive evening. The event is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, so maybe some of the lobbyists from Timmins Consulting – Lisa Henning, Keri Rayborn Silver, or perhaps Missy Timmins herself – and Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney – Mac Stipanovich on a roller coaster, anyone? – will make make it to the park.
Speaking of Steve Schale, a longtime lobbyist for Walt Disney World Resort, Disney always makes sure to provide a spooky diversion or two each year too – see this year’s Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.
It also makes sure to get in on the action in Tallahassee in a big way.
Disney compensated lobbyists during the first reporting period of 2015 – ahead of this year’s Session – to the tune of about $80,000, including to Stephen Metz, James Daughton, and Patricia Greene of Metz, Husband & Daughton (about $25,000), Schale ($15,000), and Southern Strategy Group ($5,000).
And that’s not including it’s in-house team.
Whether you see Halloween as a time for wholesome family fun or a full-on pagan celebration, be sure to call up your dentist Monday morning: He or she is due for a scare.
The Florida Dental Association retains the able services of Travis Blanton, Jon Johnson, Darrick McGhee and the rest of the team at Johnson & Blanton to handle its business in Tallahassee, and around this time of year, business is booming.
Among those who will enjoy part of the annual windfall are MCNA Dental Plans – repped in the statehouse by Leath Consulting and Southern Strategy Group – as well as Liberty Dental Plan, who keep Brian Ballard & Co. in its employ.
While it’s highly unlikely a plan to expand Medicaid will emerge from the dead in the Legislature, there’s no shortage of principals both on the left and with hospital groups who will likely try to give it another go when Session starts in January.
Among them: Florida CHAIN, represented by Ron Watson and even more recently, the Florida Chamber led by Mark Wilson and represented by 42 different legislative influencers.
With things divided as they are in Tallahassee, it’s unlikely the guys and ghouls in Florida government will be throwing a unified Halloween party at the Governor’s Club anytime soon. But wherever you are, have a happy holiday.