Nothing Is Scarier This Halloween Than Florida's Nightmarish Politics
Illustration by Alvaro Diaz-Rubio

Nothing Is Scarier This Halloween Than Florida's Nightmarish Politics

Florida might not seem like a natural setting for bone-chilling horror. Gothic mansions on dark hillsides are tough to come by in the Sunshine State. Dracula would wilt in ten seconds flat in the tropical sun, and Michael Myers would probably require hospitalization for heatstroke before he could knock anyone off.

But that doesn't mean this state isn't stocked with horrifying monsters. It's just that our ghouls all make their bones in politics rather than serial killing.

Behold, the most spine-tingling roundup of Halloween terror that Florida has to offer:

Nothing Is Scarier This Halloween Than Florida's Nightmarish Politics
Illustration by Alvaro Diaz-Rubio

Carlos Blobmenez. Seven years ago, he emerged from the depths of the county commission looking like just another milquetoast, moderate Republican. But Carlos Gimenez had a dark secret: Beneath the bureaucratic suits was a hideous freak of nature — an insatiable, ever-growing blob fueled by cash poured directly down its gullet by developers and construction magnates. Residents could only watch in horror as Blobmenez, pulsating with greed, expanded with terrifying speed, slapping down asphalt on an ever-widening suburban sprawl and leaving new highways in his wake where previously endangered birds and precious Everglades waterways had existed for centuries. Can anything stop this abomination? Not as long as campaign money continues streaming into his glistening, horrid mouth.

Nothing Is Scarier This Halloween Than Florida's Nightmarish Politics
Illustration by Alvaro Diaz-Rubio

Bill "The Invisible Man" Nelson. On January 16, 1986, the Space Shuttle Columbia was hit with a random burst of gamma radiation. When the stunned crew awoke, one man was missing: payload specialist Bill Nelson. Except, they soon realized, he wasn't gone at all: The cosmic accident had left him completely invisible. Nelson learned to control his new power and won a U.S. Senate seat in 2001. But lately, his mutant ability is instantly triggered by any controversial issue. When constituents wanted a strong voice to push back at Donald Trump, Nelson vanished. When progressives suggested abolishing Trump's Gestapo, ICE, he went transparent. Universal healthcare? He's gone. A $15 minimum wage? You'll never find the Invisible Man!

Nothing Is Scarier This Halloween Than Florida's Nightmarish Politics
Illustration by Alvaro Diaz-Rubio

Rick Scotthulu. Once we opened that wretched Necronomicon, we were never able to stop the howling again. At first, we did not know from whence the squeals of terror came. That infernal noise cutting through our thoughts! That curdling, nonstop scream slicing through our brains and running down our spines and buckling our knees! At first we thought someone, somewhere was screaming nearby. But after days of searching, it became clear that it was all in our heads — that we were hearing the screaming telepathically as a group. At night, we would toss and turn and dream of the monster's grotesque, bald, pale skin reflecting moon beams in the dim night. Then there was that fetid, deplorable odor! The seas, we swear they turned green with thick algae and brownish muck, and we watched and wept as the fish washed ashore, choked dead from asphyxiation. Then we saw it. We spied that horrific beast of ancient lore, the evil Old One that the dark priests predicted. We saw the monster, with its dead-chicken skin, its hairless body, its bat wings spread as it lurched in the air over us. It was that infernal Scotthulu, risen from the depths of its inky, mildewy cavern in Tallahassee, creeping its way toward Washington.

Nothing Is Scarier This Halloween Than Florida's Nightmarish Politics
Illustration by Alvaro Diaz-Rubio

Marioclops Diaz-Balart. Maybe it was all the sugar that did it, or the cigar smoke. Maybe it happened when a bullet went astray while Mario Diaz-Balart was stuffing his pockets with NRA cash months after the Parkland massacre. Nobody really knows what turned the Republican congressman into a Cyclops. But the longtime Florida rep's tunnel vision has left him unable to stop voting exactly in line with Trump's position on almost every issue since the groper-in-chief was elected, and even posing for photos with the far-right hate group the Proud Boys. Even with his one good eye, Marioclops is blind to climate change and has been heard referring to global warming as a scheme to make money while clutching fistfuls of Big Sugar cash and ignoring the toxic algae blooms and red tides that floated along his district.

Nothing Is Scarier This Halloween Than Florida's Nightmarish Politics
Illustration by Alvaro Diaz-Rubio

Marion Hammerbal Lecter. In 1987, pistol-packing National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer almost single-handedly pushed state legislators to pass Florida's concealed-carry law. That first taste of power was sweet, and soon the 4-foot-11 grandma grew hungry for more. By the time she was named the NRA's first female president in 1995, the transformation was complete: Hammerbal Lecter's appetite for politicians was insatiable. With an unassuming AOL email address, she hounded lawmakers with exclamation-filled tirades, insulted her political opponents, and campaigned against conservatives who betrayed her. She crafted Stand Your Ground in 2005 and then methodically chewed out the gun-control advocates who stood in her way. Even after 17 students and faculty were shot dead in Parkland, Hammer fought the state Legislature's moderate gun-reform proposals, calling it "political eyewash." At last check, she was spotted in Tallahassee having an old friend for dinner.

Nothing Is Scarier This Halloween Than Florida's Nightmarish Politics
Illustration by Alvaro Diaz-Rubio

The Ghost of Michael Grieco. After the Miami Herald began asking questions about some sketchy campaign donations, Miami Beach commissioner and mayoral candidate Michael Grieco assured reporters nothing was amiss. "You can look right into my soul," he promised. As it turned out, the populist politician was just a supernatural liar: The contributions were illegal, and Grieco was busted for campaign violations. For a minute, it seemed his political aspirations were all but dead, but the Ghost of Michael Grieco wasn't done haunting Miami Beach. After finishing six months of probation, he announced he was running for higher office, this time in the state House. His stunning victory in the primary leaves voters with a spooky choice this November: Do they cast a ballot for this opportunistic poltergeist or — gasp! — a Republican? Don't be surprised if Grieco's lingering apparition turns the Florida Legislature into a haunted House.

Nothing Is Scarier This Halloween Than Florida's Nightmarish Politics
Illustration by Alvaro Diaz-Rubio

Donna Zombielala. When Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen announced her retirement, Democrats drooled over one of the easiest seats in the nation to flip. Hillary Clinton had trounced Donald Trump in the Miami Beach district, which Ros-Lehtinen had hung onto as a socially liberal GOP member. But the Dems didn't count on Donna Shalala, a 77-year-old Clinton administration relic, arising from the deepest depths of '90s-era politics. Reanimated as Zombielala, she scared off every other candidate and ravaged the rest while staggering her way to a primary victory, Walking Dead-style. Her sudden return among the living has meant revisiting a phase of the Democratic Party everyone thought was dead and buried, with her past life of working closely for the Clintons and spreading reefer madness while embracing the War on Drugs. Progressives have shuddered in terror as Zombielala, pulseless and unseeing, stumbles down the campaign trail, struggling to take a bite out of her Republican opponent. Now, as she lags in polls, she might just devour Democrats' dreams of a November sweep as well.

Nothing Is Scarier This Halloween Than Florida's Nightmarish Politics
Illustration by Alvaro Diaz-Rubio

Frankenmarco Rubio. The scientist's stained lab coat twirled in the breeze as she turned to face us all.

"It's not ready!" the woman cried. "We can't possibly unleash him on the public like this. Not now. I must have more time!"

My rotund partner pulled his monocle from his eye and stomped one of his boots.

"Time? We're out of time," he shot back with a sneer. "It's been months. We've spent fortunes. The beast must be ready. Tonight."

I can't say I agreed with the man. We'd funded all sorts of political schemes before — voter suppression, fraudulently written ballot amendments, pure fascists — but nothing like this. You see, we'd paid a doctor to make us a monster. The shoulders of a football player. A few pieces of Ronald Reagan's corpse. Some mediocre hair. We'd given the woman months to piece the thing together. As we conversed in her lab, the wretched thing lay there, just breathing in and out with that vacant stare.

"But I haven't given it a brain yet!" she cried. "What good could it do you without a brain?"

"Dammit, I said tonight!" my inconsolable partner bellowed. The scientist nodded and turned to her machine. She hit a series of colored buttons, and an awful whirring noise permeated the room. I could barely watch as the monster lurched its awkward body off the table. It took a few steps forward; the dead face attached to the exoskeleton barely flinched. I took its cold, clammy hand and helped it into the back of the car. We soon arrived outside the TV studio.

"Mmmm!" the beast bellowed. "Thirsty!"

"No time!" my funding partner yelled. "Go!"

The beast lumbered out of the car and in front of the camera. We needed someone to respond to the State of the Union, after all.

Nothing Is Scarier This Halloween Than Florida's Nightmarish Politics
Illustration by Alvaro Diaz-Rubio

Count Ron DeSantis. Bitten by MAGA fever, Count DeSantis sprang from a cursed coffin somewhere in D.C. last year and returned to his native Florida, hoping to charm voters with his hatred of taxes and passion for small businesses. He hoped no one would notice the glistening, knife-sharp teeth behind his politician's smile or that he got his strength from sucking the life out of every woman and minority who had the misfortune of crossing his path. If he was sneaky enough, he knew, he could move his coffin into the Governor's Mansion. Then he could achieve what he most desired: draining every last, delicious bit of light out of the Sunshine State.

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