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The Daystarter: Joe Biden rallies Democrats in Tampa; WWE reacts to Roman Reigns' leukemia diagnosis; postcard creates confusion for mail-in voters

Check for the latest breaking news and developments.
Check for the latest breaking news and developments.
Published Oct. 23, 2018

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.

• Mail ballots have already gone out for the 2018 election and early voting starts this month. Find out everything you wanted to know about local, state and federal candidates, where they stand on issues such as gun rights, opioids and education using the Tampa Bay Times handy-dandy "Know Your Candidate" voter guide. Remember: Election day is Nov. 6.

• Treasure days likes these. The high temperature will peak in the low 80s, and humidity values will be comfortable at 50 to 60 percent, according to the National Weather Service. And no need to plan for rain.

• Check out our weekend rewind for five stories you may have missed over the weekend.

• Here are the top things to do today in Tampa Bay including Twilight returning to theaters to make a 10-year milestone, and St. Petersburg Opera performs Don Giovanni.

• Before you head out to see the Mozart creation, read performing arts critic Andrew Meacham's review of Don Giovanni, where he found a committed villain and a sterling cast.

• We got our first fall chill in the air, so our food editor has a recipe for a fall-inspired shepherd's pie, made with sweet potato and ground turkey.

• Halloween by the numbers. Our retail reporter takes a deep dive and finds out which candy Floridians will spend the most on this year, as well as track the rise of spending, costumes for pets and the most popular costumes to buy.

• Former Vice President Joe Biden came to the University of South Florida's Tampa campus to rally Democrats and boost the campaigns of U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum. Steven Contorno writes how the Democrats brought in one of their most recognizable figures on the first day of early voting. And check out the Tampa Bay Times photo gallery from the rally.

• You may have received a mailing that says "IMPORTANT ELECTION NOTICE," and then, smaller, "ACCORDING TO OUR RECORDS, YOU RECEIVED A VOTE-BY-MAIL BALLOT, BUT HAVE NOT YET RETURNED IT." Not to worry, Zachary T. Sampson clarifies what it means.

• For the latest in Florida politics, make sure to check The Buzz.

• As Hurricane Michael approached, 79-year-old Agnes Vicari told her niece over the phone that she should have evacuated from Mexico Beach. "I made a mistake. I won't make a mistake again," she told her niece that morning. Elizabeth Koh tells the story of Vicari, who became one of the first of Michael's victims to be identified from Bay County.

• For the latest on the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, make sure to check

• "My real name is Joe, and I've been living with leukemia for 11 years. And unfortunately it's back." With that, WWE star and Tampa-area resident Roman Reigns opened Monday night's telecast of "Raw" to announce his diagnosis and decision to relinquish his Universal title. Check out video from the announcement, and the warm reaction he got backstage.

• Once more, a snippet of cell phone video is raising questions about the conduct of a police officer. As usual, the police say the video doesn't tell the whole story. So columnist John Romano wants to know: If they want the whole story, then why doesn't every law enforcement officer not have a body camera? Why do most of Tampa Bay's law enforcement agencies continue to resist the idea?

• Read about the end of the murder case against Jason Rios. In 2015 the Pasco County man killed his mother and niece and tried to kill his other niece. But the case came to an end in a courtroom, reports Josh Solomon, as Rios agreed to hyper linked words here" target="_blank">spend half a century in prison

• There's a stunning new development in the criminal case against a former Bloomingdale High School teacher who was arrested last month on a video voyeurism charge. Anastasia Dawson reports that investigators say they have found an extensive amount of videos and images of under-age students secretly filmed by Mark Ackett while they undressed at the school. Now Ackett faces an additional 353 charges and is being held jail in lieu of $2 million bail.

• As the ninth-ranked Florida Gators prepare to face the No. 7 Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday, Matt Baker asked some Gators to look back at the weirdness of what turned out to be former coach Jim McElwain's final games last season.

• The Bucs snapped a three-game win streak in defeating the Browns 26-23 in overtime on Sunday. But Thomas Bassinger explains how in victory, coach Dirk Koetter had to make an impossible choice — trusting his inconsistent kicker over his inconsistent quarterback — as Tampa Bay avoided what could have been a calamitous defeat.

• The latest Bucs news is just one click away. Check out the Tampa Bay Times coverage all season long.

• Meet the Tampa Bay Times new hockey beat writer, Diana Nearhos, and how she got hooked on the game at age 10. Keep up with her coverage of the Tampa Bay Lightning's quest for the Stanley Cup all season long and follow her on Twitter at @dianacnearhos for updates.

• To keep up with the Lightning's quest for a Stanley Cup, make sure to click here throughout the season.

• To get the latest Rays' news this offseason, click here.

• Before the Jukebox comes to Clearwater's Capitol Theatre on Saturday, Max Weinberg — drummer for Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band — their odd early venues, his Late Night days and his son Jay, who plays drums in a little band called Slipknot. Read the interview with Jay Cridlin.

• Listen to our new podcast, Life of the Party, that keeps you caught up just enough to get by in small talk. Times staffers Stephanie Hayes and Brittany Volk will discuss what's going on, from celebrity news to movies and music, plus offbeat info that will make you the most interesting person in the room.

• The Tampa Bay Times has teamed up with ProPublica to track anything that goes wrong at the polls this year: Voting abnormalities? Election misinformation? Unusually long lines? Malfunctioning voting machines? Robocalls? Social media rumors? Here's how to reach out to us:

Text message: Send the word VOTE or VOTA (for Spanish) to 81380 (standard text message rates apply).

WhatsApp: Send the word VOTE or VOTA (for Spanish) to 1-850-909-8683.

Facebook Messenger: Go to

Twitter: Tag @Electionland.


  1. Check for the latest breaking news and updates.
  2. Democratic presidential candidate, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg talks with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., during a break at a Democratic presidential primary debate Wednesday, in Las Vegas, hosted by NBC News and MSNBC. (AP Photo/John Locher)
  3. A wrong-way driver headed south in the northbound lanes of Interstate 75 in Pasco County caused a crash that resulted in the death of a 45-year-old motorcyclist, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.  Over a three-year period ending in 2018, the county averaged 97 traffic fatalities annually. [Florida Highway Patrol]
  4. New Port Richey City Hall
  5. The candidates running for Clearwater City Council Seat 3 are (left to right) Kathleen Beckman, Robert "Dr. Bob" Cundiff, Bud Elias and Scott Thomas.
  6. Lynn Cristina is a Wesley Chapel momma with two girls and works full time as a marketing manager.
  7. A fire engulfed a Tampa home at 1011 E 23rd Ave. on Wednesday, according to Tampa Fire Rescue.
  8. Harriett Tubman.
  9. Hillsborough County Commissioner Les Miller
  10. A slurry of dead fish, the result of Red Tide, moved out of Clearwater Harbor on the north side of Sand Key Park during a 16-month-long algae bloom. So many fish were killed that the state is limiting anglers to catch-and-release when it comes to snook, redfish and sea trout.  [Times photo (2018) by Douglas R. Clifford]
  11. Some have noted the similarities between President Donald Trump and presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg, even if they're in two different political parties.
  12. A pair of wood storks, left, and a large group of white ibis rest and feed in a wetland area off Loop Road in the Big Cypress National Preserve. Florida is home to more wetlands than any other state except Alaska. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times (2008)]