Drew Wilson – Florida Politics

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for SaintPetersBlog and FloridaPolitics.com. While at the University of Florida, Wilson was an editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and after graduation, he moved to Los Angeles to cover business deals for The Hollywood Reporter. Before joining Extensive Enterprises, Wilson covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools.
Bean presenting check to STEM2 Hub

Aaron Bean presents big check for STEM education

State Sen. Aaron Bean this week delivered $975,000 to an organization working to train students in 21st century fields, such as robotics and computer programming.

The Fernandina Beach Republican worked during the 2018 Legislative Session to secure the funding for Northeast Florida-based STEM2 Hub, headed by Kathleen Schofield.

Careers in STEM, an acronym of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, are some of the highest-paying jobs available, and some fields under that umbrella face major workforce shortages.

The money will be used to for STEM2 Hub’s Northeast Florida 21st Century Workforce Development project, which aims to prepare students for in-demand career fields in an evolving workforce. The organization will bring mathematics-based curriculum, along with coding and robotics to targeted schools

“It is so important that we give all students the opportunity to grow competent in the skills of problem solving and critical thinking,” Schofield said. “We must make students feel connected to community and business leaders, as well as to their schools, so that they see a pathway to their own success.”

Bean said the funding aligns with his vision of education in the Sunshine State. He wants STEM-based opportunities to be available to students early on so “they can realize their truly unlimited potential.”

“This funding moves us closer to fulfilling this vision and provides Northeast Florida’s students with the opportunities needed to compete and excel in the 21st Century,” Bean said.

“The STEM2 Hub project helps schools to continue offering 21st Century Skills Development programs to students in Northeast Florida, with a focus on robotics, coding and workforce-aligned after-school programs and high-quality math instruction. The goal of schools working with the STEM2 Hub is to increase the number of STEM-capable graduates.

Police union backs Ed Hooper for Senate

Clearwater Republican Ed Hooper announced Friday that the Florida Fraternal Order of Police District 3 Lodges have endorsed his campaign for state Senate.

“Ed Hooper has shown his support for first responders. Now the members of the Fraternal Order of Police, District 3 lodges are glad to support him in his bid for the State Senate,” said John E. Sheffield, the director of FOP District 3.

Hooper is a former first responder – he spent 24 years working for the Clearwater Fire Department before he was elected to the Florida House in 2006.

“My proudest endorsements are having the men and women of public safety supporting my candidacy. The work they do every day keeps our families safe from harm,” Hooper said.

That’s high praise considering the other names who’ve lined up behind the former lawmaker’s 2018 campaign, such as Senate President-designate Bill Galvano, Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson, Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri and former House Speaker Will Weatherford.

Hooper faces Palm Harbor restauranteur Leo Karruli in the Republican Primary for Senate District 16, which is currently vacant due to the resignation of former Republican Sen. Jack Latvala. Also running is Dunedin Democrat Bernie Fensterwald.

Through the end of March, Hooper led the money race with nearly $250,000 on hand in his campaign account and another $95,000 on hand in his political committee, Friends of Ed Hooper.

Fensterwald, through the same date, has brought in nearly $60,000 for his campaign and has about $27,000 on hand. His total includes $44,000 in loans. Karruli, who filed in late Februday, has raised $100 in outside money and has loaned his campaign about $4,000. He has $656 in the bank.

SD 16 encompasses Clearwater, Dunedin, Safety Harbor, Palm Harbor, New Port Richey and Oldsmar. The seat has a heavy Republican lean – it voted plus-12 for Donald Trump in 2016.

Ron DeSantis

Ron DeSantis fundraising in Ft. Myers Saturday

Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis will be in Ft. Myers Saturday to raise money for his gubernatorial bid.

The fundraiser will be held at Veranda, 2122 Second St., and will run from 5 pm to 6 pm. Suggested contributions on the invite are $5,000 to make the host committee and $10,000 to be an event chair.

Listed as event chairs are Anthony and Tia Farhat, Dan Creighton, Carmine and Amy Dell Aquila, Jason and Babs Maughan, Jeff and Veronica Powers and Sawyer Smith.

Listed as members of the host committee are Rocky Farhat, Chauncey and Allison Goss, former Rep. Paige Kreegel, Wayne and Gayle Laufer, Ted Stout and the Jensen family.

Those looking to attend can send an RSVP to McKenzie Sanders at MSanders@RonDeSantis.com or call 612-940-9844.

DeSantis faces Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in the Republican Primary to replace Gov. Rick Scott, who faces term limits in 2018. House Speaker Richard Corcoran is expected to join the primary in the coming weeks.

Through the end of March, Putnam led the money race with $26.77 million in total fundraising and $19.26 million on hand. DeSantis, who filed in January, has raised nearly $7 million and has $6.5 million.

The DeSantis invite is below.

DeSantis Invite 4.21.2018

Jemele Hill - Photo via The Associated Press

ESPN’s Jemele Hill to headline League of Women Voters luncheon

ESPN’s Jemele Hill will be in St. Petersburg Saturday to give a talk and field questions at a League of Women Voters event.

The chief correspondent and senior columnist for ESPN’s The Undefeated will offer her thoughts on the role that celebrity brings to public service and how she has used her platform for that purpose.

The League’s release said Hill will also talk “sports, race, gender, politics and making democracy work.”

“It’s important to reinforce that having a voice in our democracy is a basic right guaranteed to all citizens, regardless of income, race, gender, or profession. I’m thrilled to exchange and share ideas with the thought leaders and activists in St. Pete, who have led the way in having these important conversations about inclusive voices” Hill said in a press release.

Also listed on the event agenda for the “Annual Luncheon and Community Conversation” are the organizers for the St. Pete area March for our Lives, student-athletes from Pinellas County schools and thought leaders from the University of South Florida, the University of Tampa and St. Pete College.

The event will run from noon to 1:30 pm in the ballroom of the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, 11 Central Ave. Tickets are $15 and will be available at the door.

The luncheon follows the St. Pete League’s annual business meeting.

The luncheon flyer is below.

LWV invitation

Red snappers

State extends red snapper season in the Gulf

Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission announced this week that the recreational red snapper season in Gulf waters would be upped to 40 days.

“Florida is a premier fishing destination and saltwater fishing in the Gulf of Mexico has a $7.6 billion economic impact in our state every year. Adding additional opportunities for anglers to enjoy Florida’s world-class fishing not only benefits our visitors but also our Gulf Coast communities,” Scott said in a press release.

“I am pleased to announce this extension today and encourage visitors and residents to start planning their summer fishing trips.”

FWC Chairman Bo Rivard cited the longer seasons set by other Gulf coast states in the announcement, saying it was important for the commission to “find a fair resolution that would provide equal access to red snapper in Florida.”

“FWC worked collaboratively with NOAA Fisheries to come up with a season that would provide access to all of those that choose Florida as their fishing destination. We appreciate the leadership from Gov. Rick Scott and U.S. Congressman Neal Dunn and we are excited to announce that extension today.”

Dunn, a Panama City Republican, has been an outspoken advocate of longer red snapper seasons. In 2017, he helped lead a push to extend the proposed snapper season from three to 39 days.

The red snapper season this year will run from June 11 through July 21. The announcement represents a more than two-week increase from the 24-day season the state initially proposed.

Florida is setting the season dates for 2018 and 2019 in both state and federal waters through a fishery-management pilot program, also referred to as an Exempted Fishing Permit.

The 40-day season would apply to both state and federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico, though it excludes commercial fishermen. For-hire operations that do not have a federal reef fish permit are also included, but they are limited to targeting reef fish in Gulf state waters only.

Red snapper is in season year round for Atlantic state waters, though the 2018 season for federal waters in the Atlantic has not been determined according to FWC. In the Gulf, the red snapper population hit critical lows in the 1990s due to overfishing but has rebounded greatly over the past decade.

In both state and federal Gulf waters, the daily bag limit is 2 red snappers per person and catches need to measure in at least 16 inches to be keepers.

Audrey Gibson

Audrey Gibson raising coin April 25 at Intuition Ale Works

Incoming Senate Minority Leader Audrey Gibson is holding a fundraiser Wednesday to support her re-election to Jacksonville-based Senate District 6.

The event will be held at Intuition Ale Works, 929 East Bay Street, from 11:30 am to 1 pm. Those looking to attend can send a note to Melissa Langley at Melissa@TheFiorentinoGroup.com or call 904-358-2757.

Gibson was voted Senate Democratic Leader Designate in November in the wake of former Sen. Jeff Clemens resignation. She will succeed current Senate Democratic Leader Oscar Braynon II after the 2018 elections.

Gibson was elected in the Senate in 2011 and is running for her final term in the fall. Jacksonville City Councilman Reggie Brown is challenging the longtime lawmaker in the Democratic Primary.

Through March, Gibson was far in the lead fundraising wise with more than $120,000 banked, while Brown’s only fundraising thus is a $2,500 loan.

SD 6 replaced the old Senate District 9 and is a Democratic stronghold covering the majority of the I-295 beltway in Jacksonville. Gibson was re-elected without opposition in 2016.

The invitation is below.

Audrey Gibson Fundraiser Invitation 4.25.2018

Amber Mariano

Amber Mariano holding golf tournament fundraiser in June

Freshman Rep. Amber Mariano is holding a golf tournament in support of her House District 36 re-election campaign in Wesley Chapel on June 9.

The event will be held at the Saddlebrook Resort & Spa, 5700 Saddlebrook Way. Registration is set to begin at 11:30 am on the day of, with a shotgun start scheduled for 1 pm. The entry fee for the tournament is $500.

Those looking for information on accommodations or those ready to dust off their clubs in support of the Hudson Republican can send a not to the campaign via Alexa@AmberMariano.com.

Mariano currently faces Democrat Linda Jack in her re-election campaign. Holiday Republican Joseph Molnar filed for the seat last month, but backed out shortly after, sparing Mariano from a primary campaign for the Pasco-based seat.

Since filing for re-election, Mariano has raised $83,132 for her campaign and had $52,319 on hand at the end of March. Jack, a veterinarian, had raised nearly $30,000 through the same date and has $16,416 in the bank. Her total includes $1,500 in loans.

The District has a Republican advantage – President Donald Trump carried the seat by 21 points in the 2016 election – though Democrats have had some success there in the recent past.

Before Mariano became the youngest person ever elected to the Florida House two years ago, HD 36 was held by Democratic Rep. Amanda Murphy for three years.

The 2016 election came down to just 691 votes, and was considered an upset to some despite the district voting overwhelmingly for Trump.

Prior to Murphy the seat was held by Republican Mike Fasano, who is now Pasco’s Tax Collector.

The tournament invite is below.

Amber Mariano Fundraiser 6.9.2018

Fundraiser for Heather Fitzenhagen set for May 3

Republican Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen will hold a fundraiser benefitting her House District 78 campaign May 3 in Fort Myers.

The fundraiser will be held at the Veranda, 2122 Second St., starting at 5:30 pm. Those interested in attending the event can RSVP by sending a note to Brittney Metzger via BrittneyRMetzger@gmail.com.

The event invitation lists dozens of names on the host committee, including several Republican elected officials.

At the top of the list are CFO Jimmy Patronis, Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott, Property Appraiser Ken Wilkinson, Tax Collector Larry Hart, Clerk of the Court Linda Doggett and Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson.

Fizenhagen was elected to HD 78 in 2012, and the 2018 campaign will be her last before term limits force her to exit the Florida House.

Currently, Democrat Parisima Taeb is the only challenger standing between Fitzenhagen and a fourth term.

The Fort Myers Republican has never faced a major-party challenger on Election Day. After winning the Republican Primary in a landslide six years ago, she beat Independent Kerry Babb in a 67-33 rout. In 2014 she received nearly 100 percent of the vote against write-in candidate Bates Mcleod Haney, and in 2016 she went wholly unopposed.

HD 78 covers part of Lee County. It includes Fort Myers starting from the banks of Caloosahatchee and extending southeast to the border of Collier County.

It carries a massive Republican advantage – Republicans make up 42 percent of the electorate compared to a 30 percent share for Democrats, and the seat voted plus-11 for Donald Trump in 2016.

The invitation is below.

Fitzenhagen invite 5.3.2018

Lake Eola Park

Saturday’s March for Science Orlando releases speaker list

The March for Science is coming back to Central Florida Saturday, and nearly a dozen scientific and medical leaders are slated to speak before marchers get moving.

The science advocacy event will run from 10:00 am to 11:30 am and will start at the Northeast Corner of Lake Eola Park.

During the 10 o’clock hour, 11 speakers will address the crowd and after which advocates will march around Lake Eola and back.

After the March for Science ends, eventgoers are encouraged to drop by the Central Florida Earth Day celebration, which runs from 10 am to 6 pm on the east side of Lake Eola.

The speaker portion of the march will be emceed by Clayton Louis Ferrara, the executive director and CEO of IDEAS for US.

Event organizers said they “focused on building a speaker series that not only reflected the diversity of Central Florida, but one that also spoke to the intersectionality of science policy and the role that science plays in our daily lives.”

The speaker list includes:

— Dr. Daniel Batcheldor, Head of Physics and Space Sciences at Florida Institute of Technology.

— Dr. Shantel Hebert-Magee, an Orlando pathologist and founder of pancreatic cancer awareness group Under the Scope.

Chris Castro, the City of Orlando’s Director of Sustainability and founder of IDEAS for US.

Michelle Suarez, the senior lead organizer and climate justice organizer for for Organize Florida

Elaine Powell, the founder of Tech Sassy Girlz, which encourages school age girls to pursue careers in STEM fields.

— Dr. James Cooney, an associate lecturer in the UCF Physics Department.

— Dr. Sara Safder, a Lakeland radiologist and member of the Muslim Women’s Organization.

— Dr. Nina Orlovskaya of UCF’s Mechanical and Aerospace Department

— Dr. Pedro Quintana-Ascencio of UCF’s Biology Department

— Dr. Fernando J. Uribe-Romo of UCF’s Chemistry Department

The speaker flyer is below.

March for Science speakers

Scott Israel facing no-confidence vote by Broward deputies

The union representing Broward County sheriff’s deputies announced Friday that it will hold a no-confidence vote on Sheriff Scott Israel.

Jeff Bell, a deputy sheriff and president of the Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputy Association, said in a press release that the vote “follows many instances of suspected malfeasance, misfeasance, failure to maintain fiduciary responsibility by the sheriff, failure to properly investigate possible criminal conduct by members of his senior command staff and the lack of leadership that has crushed morale throughout the agency.”

“There is a complete failure at the sheriff’s office and he doesn’t recognize it,” Bell said.

Israel has been under fire in the weeks since the Feb. 14 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, but Bell told CNN Friday that Israel’s response in the wake of the shooting – specifically, his handling of resource officer Scot Petersen – was merely the tipping point.

Israel “didn’t say it’s an open investigation. He blamed it all on Peterson,” Bell said. “You don’t do that to one of your deputies.”

“My members are not poster children. They are not squeaky clean. They make mistakes. What we are saying is, they should be punished fairly,” he added.

Bell also pointed to what he says is mixed messaging from Israel and others in leadership positions in the Broward Sheriff’s Office, such as how their active shooter policy doesn’t square away with the training officers receive.

According to the policy, officers “may” enter a building to confront a shooter, but in training deputies are taught to enter.

The no-confidence vote comes after many Republican elected officials – including House Speaker Richard Corcoran, Jacksonville Rep. Jay Fant and Boca Raton Rep. Bill Hager – called for Israel to resign or for Gov. Rick Scott to suspend him.

The union’s no-confidence vote will begin electronically this evening and conclude on April 26.

The announcement is below.

no confidence vote 2

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