Drew Wilson, Author at 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.

Yard signs: Florida Realtors announce November election endorsements

Florida Realtors PAC, the political arm of the state’s largest professional association, issued endorsements in statewide races and a bundle of legislative districts Wednesday.

The group released three waves of endorsements ahead of the Aug. 28 primary election. Now that the title cards are set, their list of preferred candidates received a few adjustments.

Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis has been subbed in for the Florida Realtors’ primary season pick, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, at the top of the ticket. The GOP nominee to replace Putnam, state Rep. Matt Caldwell, has tagged in Sebring Sen. Denise Grimsley.

Sitting CFO Jimmy Patronis, the only incumbent Cabinet member, remains the Realtor-backed pick for the general election, as does Republican Attorney General nominee Ashley Moody, who defeated Pensacola state Rep. Frank White by double digits three weeks ago.

“As Realtors, we pride ourselves on our long-standing efforts to defend private property rights, promote community prosperity and preserve a professional climate that ensures the economic growth of Florida,” said Florida Realtors PAC chair Ann DeFries.

“Our continued success in these efforts involves elected officials who share these beliefs and will work with our 180,000-plus members to help Floridians and their communities thrive.”

Other than the CFO race, where Democratic challenger Jeremy Ring has trailed in both the polls and in fundraising, Florida’s statewide contests are shaping up to be competitive.

DeSantis currently trails Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum by a hair in most polls, while Nikki Fried and Sean Shaw, the Democratic nominees for Ag Commish and Attorney General, scored comfortable wins in the primary and have shown solid fundraising thus far.

Further down the ballot, the Republican nominees in the most competitive state Senate districts — Sen. Keith Perry in SD 8, former state Rep. Ed Hooper in SD 16, Sen. Dana Young in SD 18, Sen. Kelli Stargel in SD 22 and state Rep. Manny Diaz in SD 36 — all retained their endorsements from July.

Perry, Hooper, Young and Stargel each held a lead in over their Democratic challengers in public polls conducted this week by St. Pete Polls.

A full list of endorsed candidates is available on the Florida Realtors PAC website. The general election is Nov. 6.

Ardian Zika

Richard Corcoran backs Ardian Zika as his successor in HD 37

House Speaker Richard Corcoran weighed on the race for seat he’s vacating in the fall, offering his endorsement to Land O’ Lakes businessman Ardian Zika.

“I’ve long admired Ardian Zika’s service and commitment to Pasco County and Florida,” Corcoran said Wednesday. “Ardian and I share the priorities of faith and family and I am grateful for his commitment to our community.

“Ardian is a true conservative leader that understands the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead for Florida. I am confident Ardian Zika will represent the people of House District 37 well and he has my strong support and my vote this election.”

Corcoran cannot run for re-election in the fall due to term limits. His endorsement comes after Zika received more than 57 percent of the vote in the three-way Republican primary for Pasco County-based state House district. He faces Democratic nominee Tammy Garcia, also of Land O’Lakes, in the general election.

“I am honored and humbled to receive the endorsement of Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives Richard Corcoran,” Zika said. “Speaker Corcoran has been a principled leader fighting for all Florida and has well represented the people of House District 37 over the past eight years. I am grateful for Speaker Corcoran’s service to the people of Pasco County and the State of Florida.”

HD 37 covers the majority of inland Pasco County, including the communities of Land O’ Lakes, Odessa, Heritage Pines, Shady Hills, Meadow Oaks and Moon Lake.

Though Corcoran never faced an Election Day challenger in his three campaign since the seat was redrawn ahead of the 2012 cycle, the district has voted overwhelmingly for Republicans in statewide elections. Donald Trump carried the HD 37 by a 61-34 percent margin in 2016.

Prior to earning the nod from Corcoran, Zika had picked up endorsements from St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes, Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson, former House Speaker Will Weatherford, Pasco Tax Collector Mike Fasano and Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco.

Election Day is Nov. 6.

Florida Democrats say their state Senate map is still expanding

Despite recent public polls showing Democratic candidates down by a hair in some of the Florida Democratic Party’s major state Senate targets, the party is pointing to new measures that show another three more chances to overtake Republican-held districts.

“While the focus has been on the State Senate Districts most affected by the Fair Districts Amendments, new polling from Change Research shows that a Blue Wave is forming across Florida that could propel Democrats to the majority in 2018,” a Wednesday FDP email reads. “Change Research holds the distinction of being the only organization to correctly predict the results of the Florida Democratic Gubernatorial Primary.”

Change Research conducts online polls of registered voters and has produced some favorable results for Florida Democrats as of late. Earlier Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney’s Democratic challenger in Florida’s 19th Congressional District, David Holden, touted a poll from the same outfit that show showed him within striking distance in the crimson district.

The state Senate polls show Melissa “Mel” Martin leading incumbent Sen. Dorothy Hukill by a couple points in SD 14; Faith Olivia Babis leading Republican state Rep. Joe Gruters in the race for SD 23 by 3 percentage points; and Robert Levy only trailing state Rep. Gayle Harrell by a few points in SD 25.

Those leads grew once voters read candidate bios and position statements.

President Donald Trump carried each of those districts by a double-digit margin two years ago — the closest among them was SD 25 which went plus-11 for Trump and plus-30 for Senate President Joe Negron, the seat’s current occupant. Hukill won her 2016 bid by 37 points and in SD 23, which is open due to Greg Steube’s congressional bid, Democratic candidate Frank Alcock was trampled by 30 percent.

But FDP says voters have soured on Trump, whose brief tenure has been “continually defined by his pettiness, inability to govern, rampant sexism, and general air of incompetence.” When it comes to the Republican stranglehold on the state government, FDP is betting voters are just as weary.

“After 20 years of Republican rule in Florida, it is clear that absolute power has corrupted absolutely,” said FDP spox Caroline Rowland. “Across our state, red tide and algae blooms are causing environmental and economic devastation, our public schools continue to suffer as Republican leaders reallocate public school funds to their donors in the for-profit education industry, an epidemic of gun violence continues to traumatize our communities, and healthcare costs continue to soar as the GOP tries to take away coverage from eight million Floridians with pre-existing conditions. It is clear Floridians are ready for a change.”

“This year, there are qualified Democrats running across our state motivated to put an end to the culture of cronyism and corruption in Tallahassee and act as a check on the increasingly unhinged administration of the President and his allies in Congress,” she continued. “… This November 6th, there’s not just going to be a Blue Wave in Florida. There’s going to be a Blue Tsunami.”

The FDP email didn’t list sample sizes of the margin of error for the Change Research polls. Republicans currently hold a 23-16 majority in the state Senate.

David Holden

Francis Rooney’s opponent says he’s within striking distance in deep-red CD 19

U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney’s re-election campaign hasn’t garnered too much attention this year, despite the narrative that a ‘blue wave’ on the national level could lead to Democrats retaking control of the House.

Maybe that’s because he was re-elected in Florida’s 19th Congressional District with nearly two-thirds of the vote two years ago, or maybe it’s because the Republican candidate in every statewide race in the past decade has carried the district by double digits.

None of that is surprising for the Lee and Collier-based seat. After all, there are nearly 100,000 more Republican voters than Democratic ones in CD 19.

But the long odds haven’t crushed Democratic nominee David Holden’s hopes of flipping the district.

In a Wednesday press release, his campaign touted a new online poll conducted by Change Research showing him trailing Rooney by a single point and calling on the incumbent to join him in a public debate.

“We have the strongest grassroots movement Southwest Florida’s seen in decades,” Holden said. “We’re going to close that 1-percent gap and then some. We’re less than 50 days out from Election Day and with the momentum we’ve built up to this point, we’re going to flip Southwest Florida and implement the solutions our community needs.”

When it comes to that debate, Holden said “We’re ready anytime, anywhere.”

Holden’s campaign didn’t include the full results of the Change Research poll, though they noted that it had a sample size of 468 registered voters in the district with a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.

The campaign also noted that Change Research was the only pollster to show Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum in the lead ahead of the Aug. 28 primary election. That much is true — an Aug. 20 poll from the outfit showed the Tallahassee Mayor with 33 percent support among primary voters, not far off from the 34 percent vote share he received three weeks ago.

As of Aug. 8, Rooney had about $208,000 in his re-election account compared to $49,000 banked for Holden.

If the race is truly close, however, Rooney could whip out his checkbook and rocket into the lead. Many estimate his net worth to be in the hundreds of millions if not over $1 billion, and he dumped $3.6 million into his 2016 campaign to succeed former U.S. Rep. Curt Clawson.

Retailers back Ashley Moody for Attorney General

FRF PAC, the political arm of the Florida Retail Federation, announced Wednesday that it was backing Republican nominee Ashley Moody in the Attorney General race.

“As a former federal prosecutor and circuit court judge, Ashley Moody is uniquely qualified to serve as our next Attorney General,” said FRF president and CEO R. Scott Shalley. “The Florida Retail Federation looks forward to working with Ashley in combating the plague of organized retail crime and keeping our state and communities safe for our members and their customers.”

Moody, a former prosecutor and circuit court judge, has earned a plethora of endorsements during her campaign to be the state’s top cop. Among the GOP pols backing her bid are term-limited Attorney General Pam Bondi, a lifelong friend, and all but a handful of the state’s Republican county sheriffs.

Though most polling showed her behind Pensacola state Rep. Frank White in the lead up to last month’s primary election, she scored a double-digit win and is now set to face off against Democratic nominee Sean Shaw, also a Tampa Bay area native, in the general election.

Her primary campaign was bruising and expensive. Though she raised more than $4.7 million since entering the race, she only had about $83,000 banked between her campaign and committee accounts on Sept. 7.

Shaw had $525,000 banked through the same date, though in total he’s only raised about a third of what Moody has since he declared for the Cabinet race at the beginning of the year. He announced the formation of a new finance committee earlier Wednesday.

Moody and Shaw will be joined on the ballot by unaffiliated candidate Jeffrey Siskind of Wellington. The general election is Nov. 6.

Sean Shaw

Sean Shaw announces general election finance team

Democratic Rep. Sean Shaw on Wednesday announced he had formed a “General Election Finance Committee” for his Attorney General campaign against Republican nominee Ashley Moody.

The list features more than a score names, with Capital City Consulting lobbyist Justin Day, Merlin Law Group founder William Merlin and former Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink are listed as co-chairs of the committee. Sink selected Shaw to be the state’s insurance consumer advocate during her term as CFO.

Other names on the list include former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy and St. Petersburg state Rep. Ben Diamond and a host of attorneys from all corners of the state.

“I am thrilled to have this impressive list of Floridians supporting my campaign and helping to push us towards a historic victory,” Shaw said in a press release. “The state of Florida needs a strong Attorney General that will fight to protect our citizens. With the help of this committee, I know that we will be successful come election day.”

The campaign’s senior adviser, Dan Newman, will lead the finance committee efforts.

“We are all proud of Sean and the team that he has put together. Our goal is to ensure that after this election, the state of Florida will have an Attorney General whose judgment they can trust and decision making they can have faith in,” Newman said. “As members of the finance committee, it’s our job to help raise the resources for Sean to be successful. We’re excited to get to work.”

Shaw entered the AG race at the beginning of the year and easily defeated Odessa attorney Ryan Torrens in last month’s primary election.

Shaw has so far raised more than $1 million in hard money with another $538,000 raised for his political committee, Sean Shaw for Florida. As of Sept. 7, the two accounts had a combined $525,700 on hand.

Though he vastly outraised his primary opponent, Moody has had much more success on the fundraising trail thus far. Her primary campaign against Pensacola state Rep. Frank White drained her campaign and committee coffers, however.

Moody, a former circuit court judge who also hails from the Tampa area, has raised $4.7 million between her two accounts, but her donations have slowed since the primary. On Sept. 7, she had a combined $83,000 in the bank.

Shaw and Moody will be on the general election ballot alongside unaffiliated candidate Jeffrey Siskind of Wellington.

The remaining members of Shaw’s finance committee are below:

Mitchell Berger

Richard Chait

Fred Cunningham

Tiffany Faddis

Alex Heckler

Wayne Hogan

Andrew Korge

Chris Korge

Harold Mills

Eric Pintaluga

Tarra Pressey

Neal Roth

Robert Rubenstein

Andrew Smulian

Dale Swope

Hendrik Uiterwyk

Keith Perry

Keith Perry has double-digit lead over Kayser Enneking in SD 8

Incumbent Republican Sen. Keith Perry has a big lead over Democratic challenger Kayser Enneking in the race for Gainesville-based Senate District 8.

According to a new survey from St. Pete Polls, Perry currently has 49 percent support compared to just 38 percent support for Enneking. Former Gainesville City Commissioner Charles Goston, who lost his re-election bid earlier this year in a landslide, was the pick for 5 percent of SD 8 voters with the remaining 8 percent undecided.

The 11-point gap between Perry and Enneking stems from the latter’s comparatively week support among registered Democrats, only 63 percent of whom said they planned to vote for the Democratic nominee in November. Perry, who moved up to the Senate two years ago, pulls nearly a fifth of Democratic votes while Goston claims 6 percent with 11 percent undecided.

Among Republicans, Perry dominates with more than 85 percent backing the longtime lawmaker while Enneking and Goston, who made a late-entry as an unaffiliated candidate, combine to 10 percent support among registered Republicans.

By race, Perry leads Enneking 58-32 among white voters, who make up more than 70 percent of the district’s voting age population. Enneking holds a 54-18 lead among black voters, with Goston, who is black, breaking into double digits. Black voters make up about 17 percent of the SD 8 electorate.

Perry also holds a lead among men and women, with the former preferring him 54-35 percent and the latter by a 9-point margin. The Gainesville roofer also leads among all age groups, with a 7-point lead among Millennials, a 5-point edge among Gen Xers and double digit leads among Baby Boomers and voters over 70.

SD 8 is one of a handful of districts that became more favorable to Democrats after the Senate map was redrawn ahead of the 2016 elections. According to the most recent bookclosing report from the Florida Division of Elections, about 55 percent of the district’s population lives in Alachua County, while 30 percent live in northern Marion County and the remaining 15 percent live in Putnam County.

Despite nearly Democrats holding a nearly 24,000-person advantage in voter registrations, Perry defeated Rod Smith, a former Florida Democratic Party chair and state Senator, by about 5 points two years ago. Also in 2016, President Donald Trump carried the district by about two-tenths of a percentage point.

This cycle, Enneking has posted impressive fundraising numbers but she faced an expensive primary election against Olysha Magruder that saw her spend more than $116,000 in hard money in the closing weeks of the race. That spending was brought about after a “dark money” campaign connected to Republican operatives spent well into the six figures bashing Enneking and boosting Magruder through mailers, TV ads and text message outreach.

At the beginning of September, Enneking had raised more than $575,000 between her campaign and committee, Florida Knows Excellence, but she only had about $225,000 left in the bank. Perry, meanwhile, has raised about $738,000 between his campaign and committee, Building a Prosperous Florida, and has about $525,000 banked.

Perry has also received more than $427,000 in “in-kind” support, mostly from the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, while Enneking has received about $145,000 in backup from Democratic Party accounts thus far. Goston, for his part, has raised little and does not appear to be actively campaigning for the job.

The St. Pete Polls survey was conducted by an automated phone call polling system on Sept. 17. It received 981 responses from registered voters who said they planned to vote in the general election. Democrats made up 45 sample, while Republicans made up 38 percent and independents made up 17 percent.

The topline results have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.

Jason Pizzo

Senate Democrats holding Tallahassee fundraisers Wednesday, Thursday

Those spending next week in Tallahassee can fill their calendar with a pair of fundraisers for Senate Democrats on Wednesday and Thursday.

The first event will benefit a political committee tied to soon-to-be state Sen. Jason Pizzo, who last month unseated incumbent Sen. Daphne Campbell from Miami-Dade’s Senate District 38 after a 54-46 percent victory in an open Democratic primary.

Pizzo, a former prosecutor, will hold the reception benefitting his Protecting Coastal Communities PAC from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Library of the Governors Club, located at 202 S Adams St. Those looking to attend can send an RSVP to Kay Cook via KCook@EdgeCommFL.com or 571-235-0318.

The second fundraiser will benefit the re-election campaign of Miami Sen. Annette Taddeo, who faces Republican challenger Marili Cancio in the Nov. 6 general election for Senate District 40.

Her event, billed as the “1st Annual Parrot Heat Frozen Concoction Celebration,” will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Florida Professional Firefighters headquarters, 343 W Madison St. Like Pizzo’s event, those planning to swing by can send a note or drop a line to Kay Cook.

Taddeo flipped SD 40 in a special election just under a year ago, but Cancio has been able to raise $273,700 between her campaign and political committee, Friends of Marili Cancio, and has about $260,500 of that cash in the bank.

Still, Taddeo has the fundraising advantage in the swing seat with a combined $478,275 banked between her campaign account and political committee, Fight Back Florida.

The invitations to both events are below.

Pizzo fundraiser 9.19.2018

Adam Shapiro Kickoff Event

David Shapiro’s son has long rap sheet and a history of racist comments

The adult son of David Shapiro, the Democratic nominee in Florida’s 16th congressional district, has made several overtly racist, sexist, and xenophobic comments on his social media accounts — including using the “n” word and expressing hatred for non-English speakers.

Since his father launched his campaign to challenge Republican U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, 28-year-old Adam Shapiro has been on the front lines, with his involvement ranging from introducing his old man at the campaign’s Manatee County kickoff to blasting off campaign fundraising emails under his own name.

Florida Politics reached out to the Shapiro campaign to discuss Adam Shapiro’s involvement but did not receive a response.

Professionally, Adam works as an attorney in the firm his father co-founded, Shapiro Goldman Babboni Fernandez & Walsh. Though his specialties include numerous types of motor vehicle cases — everything from representing drunken driving victims to those injured in trucking accidents — he has a robust rap sheet of reckless rides.

His register of moving violations ranges from the mundane, such as not having his driver license or proof of insurance on hand during traffic stops, to the troubling. In 2012, Shapiro was cited for driving with an open container and in 2014 he crashed his car while fumbling with his cell phone, causing property damage and injury.

For someone who makes his living representing clients in court, the most recent time he ran afoul of the law is the most maladroit of them all: Just last year he was ticketed for driving on a suspended license and went as far as requesting a trial before wasting the officer’s and the court’s time by pulling a no-call-no-show at his own hearing.

A lawyer who can’t be trusted behind the wheel is one thing. Shapiro’s social media history, however, is simply sickening.

Among the veritable flotilla of Facebook faux pas are posts where he uses the term “wigger” — a malapropos portmanteau to describe white people who “act black” — as well as other words that require far less linguistic analysis. Take this 2010 post where he fittingly exhibits the caricatured behavior attributed to the derogatory word referenced above:

Adam Shapiro n-word

Adam, whose level of white privilege would seemingly register on a Geiger counter, would probably point out that he didn’t use a “hard R” in that post — a critical distinction for the truly unremorseful. For the few who would buy that, there’s also a post where he showcases an alarming insensitivity to sexual assault.

Adam Shapiro sexual assault

Having a blasé attitude toward rape was cringe worthy before it was beaten to death by tween video gamers. It was vicariously embarrassing when hack comedian Dane Cook resorted to it after failing to evolve from his best tight five a decade ago.

But the hits keep coming. There’s a diatribe where Shapiro expresses hatred for non-English speakers and another where it’s unclear whether his intent was to belittle the LGBTQ community or to broadcast an earnest proposition via an entirely inappropriate medium.

Adam Shapiro xenophobia

Adam Shapiro LGBTQ

Brush all those aside. That’s a tall order, to be sure, but there’s one scrawl by Adam Shapiro that when viewed without the distraction of his juvenile foibles could perhaps cause the most strife between him and his would-be Congressman father. And it’s only two words long.

Adam Shapiro F--- Sarasota

Gee, Adam. Tell us how you really feel.

After the publication of this story, Adam Shapiro released a statement apologizing for his past remarks and said he would no longer play a role in his father’s campaign.

“I offer my sincere apologies for the offensive comments I made. Clearly, I had a lot of maturing to do and these thoughtless Facebook posts do not reflect who I truly am, or the lessons of discipline, respect, and kindness that my parents worked to instill in me,” he said. “To ensure that the things I wrote are not a distraction from my father’s campaign, I am stepping away and will no longer play a role in this race.”

David Shapiro also sent a statement condemning his son’s past behavior and calling for Buchanan to debate him on the issues facing CD 16 rather than focusing on family issues.

“As a parent, I’ve never accepted that kind of language in my home and I’m disappointed that Adam, in his youth, would make such offensive comments online. I know that those comments do not reflect the man he is today. But let me be clear, Vern Buchanan’s personal attacks on my family are disgusting. Vern has shown he will do absolutely anything to stay in power but this is a new low,” Shapiro said.

“He would rather capitalize on a serious matter that should remain between my kids, my wife and me, than to answer for his own lack of ethics and horrible voting record in Congress. Vern should debate me on the issues affecting our community instead of stooping to the shameful tactics he and his party are known for,” he concluded.

Kelli Stargel leads Bob Doyel by a touchdown in SD 22

Despite Democratic challenger Bob Doyel touting internal poll numbers showing him leading Republican state Sen. Kelli Stargel, the first public poll of the SD 22 general election shows Stargel with an outside-the-margin lead in her re-election bid.

A new St. Pete Polls survey, conducted Sunday, found Stargel up by 7 percentage points among registered voters who said they planned to vote in the general election. The 48-41 percent lead for Stargel comes about a month after Doyel, a retired circuit court judge, circulated an internal poll showing him with a 45-40 lead as well as decent name ID within the district.

Stargel received more than 80 percent support from registered Republicans and held a 45-39 percent lead among unaffiliated and third-party voters. Doyel’s support among SD 22 Democrats was less robust, with 71 percent backing him, 17 percent supporting Stargel and 12 percent undecided.

Stargel’s lead reached 20 points among white voters, who make up about two-thirds of SD 22’s voting age population. Doyel was far ahead among black and Hispanic voters. The sample size for those demographics, however, was small.

By age, Stargel holds 9-point edge among 18- to 29-year-olds and leads by 8 percentage points among the 50- to 69-year-old bracket. The race was tighter among Gen Xers and the over 70 crowd, the former of which preferred Stargel by a 44-40 percent margin and the latter of which broke toward her 46-41 percent.

Doyel trailed by double digits among men, though the race is much tighter among women, who only are only leaning toward Stargel by 2 points, 45-43 percent.

SD 22 covers southern Lake County and northern Polk County and has trended toward GOP candidates in the past despite registered Democrats outnumbering registered Republicans by a couple points.

Florida Democrats are hoping the ‘blue wave’ can put it and other Republican-held Senate seats in play come November, though like in most other FDP-targeted districts, there’s a large fundraising disparity between the GOP and Democratic nominees.

Doyel was challenged by former state Rep. Ricardo Rangel in the Aug. 28 primary and spent a large amount of cash ahead of the 66-34 percent rout. Heading into September, he had about $92,500 in hard money $31,350 in his political committee, Bring Back Democracy.

Through the same date, Stargel had just shy of $240,000 in her campaign account with another $215,250 banked in her affiliated political committee, Limited Govt for a Stronger Florida.

In the 2016 cycle, Stargel scored a 7-point win over underfunded and overmatched Democrat Debra Wright. President Donald Trump also carried the district by nearly the same margin.

The St. Pete Polls survey was conducted by an automated phone call polling system on Sept. 16. It received responses from 569 registered voters and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.

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