Drew Wilson, Author at Florida Politics - Page 2 of 65

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.

Ben Albritton adds endorsement from former DeSoto County Sheriff

Republican Rep. Ben Albritton picked up an endorsement from former DeSoto County Sheriff Will Wise Monday for his campaign to take over the Senate District 26 seat currently held by Denise Grimsley, who is running for agriculture commissioner in 2018.

“Ben Albritton’s time in the Florida House has cemented his reputation as a fine public servant,” Wise said in a press release. “I spent my entire career working to keep our communities safe, and I know Ben understands how important it is to put resources behind law enforcement. I’m proud to support Ben because I know he will keep working hard in Tallahassee, but he won’t forget where he came from. He is a true conservative and a true servant leader.”

Wise was in law enforcement for more than 40 years, first as a deputy in the Highlands County Sheriff’s Office before joining the DeSoto County Sheriff’s Office in 1987. He retired as sheriff after the 2016 elections and was replaced by James Potter.

“I’m honored to have the support of a respected leader like Sheriff Wise,” said Albritton. “He worked hard for the citizens of DeSoto County, and that’s exactly what I intend to do in the Florida Senate. It means a lot to have folks like him on our team.”

Wise’s endorsement is the latest in a string of high-profile backers for Albritton’s senate campaign, including DeSoto County Commissioners Elton Langford, Buddy Mansfield and James Selph. U.S. Reps. Tom Rooney and Dennis Ross have also thrown their support behind the Wauchula Republican, who is currently serving his fourth term in the Florida House.

Albritton holds the District 56 seat in the House, which covers all of DeSoto and Hardee counties, as well as western Polk County, including Bartow.

Senate District 26 covers much of the same area, but tacks on all of Glades, Highlands and Okeechobee counties as well as a chunk of Charlotte County, including Punta Gorda, and a small strip of northeastern Lee County up to the outskirts of Fort Myers.

Grimsley is eligible for another term in the senate, but her run for Ag Commissioner gave Albritton the opportunity to make a Senate run without sitting out of the Legislature until Grimsley termed out.

Albritton is so far the only candidate running for the safe Republican seat and since filing in February he has raised about $54,000 for his campaign, with about $24,000 of that money on hand.

Hot on the trail: Fundraising notes from the St. Pete municipal races

Much has been made of the race between incumbent Rick Kriseman and Rick Baker for St. Petersburg mayor, but three St. Pete City Council seats will also be on the ballot when voters head to the polls Nov. 7.

Here’s where the six candidates running for those three slots stand as of their most recent campaign finance reports, which cover the week beginning Sept. 30.

In the District 2 race between Barclay Harless and Brandi Gabbard, Gabbard won the week with $5,875 in contributions compared to $1,375 for Harless.

Gabbard still lags behind Harless in total fundraising and, with $17,051 in spending compared to Harless’ $4,756, she also lost her cash-on-hand advantage for the final stretch of the campaign.

All but about $90 of Gabbard’s outflow last week went to Tampa-based Politicus, for advertising, while nearly half of Harless’ spending went toward mailers from Tampa-based Sonic Printing.

As of Oct. 6, Gabbard had raised a total of $46,188 for her campaign and had about $11,200 in the bank. Harless fundraising total was $60,155 through the same date, with $14,532 on hand.

In the Disitrict 6 race, Gina Driscoll outraised Justin Bean for the week and maintained her advantage in total fundraising and cash on hand, though Bean was able to take the most votes in the primary election for the seat despite his lower fundraising numbers.

Driscoll added $10,525 during the reporting period and spent nothing, bringing her campaigns total up to $51,836 and putter her with $21,373 on hand a month out from Election Day.

Bean added $5,375 for the week, and also kept spending very low with only $12 leaving the campaign. He sits with about $11,000 on hand on total fundraising of $37,125.

Darden Rice, the only incumbent council member on the ballot next month, continued dominating her opponent in the District 4 contest, 21-year old USF-St. Petersburg student Jerick Johnston.

Rice showed another $17,175 in contributions in her new report, and also showed spending $67,706. Nearly $57,000 of that outflow went to Mack-Sumner Communications for campaign mailers, while Snyder-Pickerill Media Group picked up more than $10,000 for a media buy.

The report shows Rice with a fundraising total of $130,388 through Oct. 6, though she had only had $2,775 on hand when the report was filed.

Johnston, for his part, showed no contributions and only spent $10 on a bank fee during the week. He had just shy of $2,000 on hand on total fundraising of $4,331 when the reporting period closed.

HD 66 hopeful Berny Jacques hosting campaign kickoff Wednesday

Berny Jaques, one of the two Republicans running for HD 66 next year, is holding a campaign kickoff event Wednesday at the Salt Rick Grill in Indian Shores and all are invited, including members of the press.

Jacques filed to run for HD 66 back in March, but with the entry of fellow Republican and Pinellas County GOP chair Nick DiCeglie last month, the campaign has begun in earnest.

The pair, along with Reform Party candidate Paul Bachmann, are running to take over for termed-out Republican Rep. Larry Ahern for the coastal Pinellas County seat which covers the communities of Clearwater, Indian Rocks Beach, Indian Shores and Belleair, among others.

Through the end of September, Jacques led in total fundraising with $67,344 taised and more than $52,000 on hand. DiCeglie posted $30,751 in his first month and had nearly all of that money on hand, while Bachmann has so far shown no contributions or expenditures since filing for the seat in early August.

The host committee for Jacques’ kickoff fundraiser includes Jallo Oil owner Paul Jallo, real estate developer Jim Holton, Sembler Company vice chairman Brent Sembler, and Bay area businessman and former Castle Supply Company owner Joe White and his wife JoAnn White.

Also included on the invite are ten major supporters, including Republican Rep. Rene Plasencia, City of Seminole City Council members Chris Burke, Roger Edelman and Trish Springer, Largo City Commissioner Jamie Robinson, and others.

The kickoff event will start at 5:30 p.m. at the restaurant, located at 19325 Gulf Blvd. in Indian Shores.

The invitation is below.

Denise Grimsley top fundraiser last month in Ag Commissioner race

September campaign finance numbers show Republican state Sen. Denise Grimsley continuing to outpace her competition in the race to take over for Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam in 2018.

Grimsley added $51,869 to her campaign account last month, and tacked on another $27,500 through her committee, Saving Florida’s Heartland.

The Sebring Republican has now passed the $1.8 million mark in total fundraising – $690,000 through the campaign and $1.1 million through the committee – and she has about $872,000 of that money on hand.

Spending clocked in at $34,092 for the campaign, leaving it with around $433,000 available, while her committee spent nearly all it brought in and finished out the month with about $439,000 in the bank.

Topping the donor roll last month was Ft. Lauderdale-based MCNA Health Care Holdings, which chipped in $25,000 to the committee. Johnson & Johnson gave the other $2,500 to Saving Florida’s Heartland, while another 94 contributions came in through the campaign.

Five of those campaign checks were for $3,000, the maximum campaign contribution for governor and Cabinet seats.

The expense reports for last month include $14,000 paid to Tallahassee-based Empire Strategies, which took home $7,000 from each account for management consulting. Florida Finance Strategies, also based in the capital, picked up $7,500 for consulting work, followed by Ryan Smith, who banked $5,821 for data services, printing, postage and shipping costs.

The District 26 senator is still eligible for another term, but decided to forego a 2018 re-election bid and run for the Cabinet seat instead. Republican Rep. Ben Albritton is the so far the only filer and the odds-on favorite to take over Grimsley’s Senate seat.

Though she couldn’t fathom running for Agriculture Commissioner a year ago, Grimsley’s solid fundraising has positioned her well among her competition for the seat, which includes Rep. Matt Caldwell, former Rep. Baxter Troutman and Paul Paulson in the Republican Primary, as well as Democrat David Walker.

With $2.5 million in his campaign account, Troutman is still in first place when it comes to cash on hand. He’s raised $34,590 for his bid, including $8,950 in September. He has another $51,000 on hand in his committee, iGrow PC, which showed no contributions last month.

Caldwell, who is terms out in HD 79 in 2018, comes in third with total fundraising measuring in at $1.25 million through his campaign and committee, Friends of Matt Caldwell. September saw the accounts take in $10,275 and $5,000, respectively.

Paulson, an Orlando businessman and former lawyer, has also seeded his campaign with plenty of his own cash – nearly $393,000 to date – but brought in the least of the GOP candidates last month with $123.

He is also in last place among the four Republican candidates in both total fundraising and cash on hand. Through September he had raised $652,000 total and has $436,000 in the bank, loans included.

Walker, who filed in mid-August, raised $750 last month. He has about $5,000 on hand after factoring in the $9,500 he put into his campaign in August.

Rick Scott’s political committee added $75K in September

Gov. Rick Scott’s Let’s Get to Work committee added $75,000 in contributions last month after showing just $1,000 raised in August.

The committee supported Scott’s successful re-election campaign for governor and could be back in action soon as a pot of money backing his probable campaign to challenge incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson next year.

The September money came in through just two contributions, one for $50,000 from the Florida Retail Federation’s political committee, and another from $25,000 from Tampa-based check cashing company Amscot Financial.

Both donors have a bit of a history supporting Scott’s committee.

FRF Political Committee gave Let’s Get to Work $25,000 in August 2016, while Amscot had given the committee $125,000 across four major contributions since 2014 before chipping in last month.

Let’s Get to Work’s income was offset by $66,873 in spending, with a good deal of the money heading to Maryland-based political consulting and advertising firm On Message.

The group, which took in about $21,000 last month for media production and consulting, has been Scott’s favored shop for such services for a while and has received millions of dollars from the Let’s Get to Work committee and well as the ECO of the same name that preceded it.

Grassroots Targeting picked up $15,000 for data services and Tallahassee-based ContributionLink picked up $8,000 for database services. Most of the rest of the September spending went toward various political and fundraising consultants.

With September in the books, Scott’s committee has nearly $2.8 million on hand.

Chris King to roll out jobs and economic policy this month

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King said he plans spend the next month rolling out policy proposals detailing how his administration would improve Florida’s job market and economy if elected next year.

“Too many people are stuck in low-paying jobs, and they’re not moving up the ladder,” King said in a video. “So we’ve got to move fast to create a more fair and homegrown economy that creates the type of jobs that support Florida families.”

King highlighted that half the jobs in the state pay less than $15 an hour, a figure many state and national Democrats have said is the minimum living wage for employees.

“Our number one priority as a state – my number one priority as your next governor – is to do something about this,” he said.

King added that the Sunshine State was at the “back of the pack in almost every economic and quality of life measurement” and said Florida is in last place among the 10 most populous states when it comes to wages, incomes and per-capita GDP.

The would-be governor’s policies include “investing in and lifting up and caring for” small businesses. King said he is confident helping grow small business will bring living wage jobs to the state due to his experience with his own business, Elevation, which provides affordable housing options to seniors in the southeastern United States.

The Orlando businessman also pitched better skills training programs to help Florida workers compete in the modern job market.

“This can be a front-of-the-pack state,” King said. “Our prized climate, our beautiful state, our hardworking people. We can be first in class, but we need fresh vision for Florida’s future and I intend to work with you to get us there.”

King is one of the three major Democrats to announce campaigns for governor. His primary opponents are former congresswoman Gwen Graham and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.

Ed Hooper lands endorsement from Bill Galvano

Former Rep. Ed Hooper picked up an endorsement for his 2018 Senate campaign Friday from fellow Republican Bill Galvano, who is set to become Senate President after next year’s elections.

“Having served the community most of his life, Ed Hooper understands the issues that face Senate District 16. Ed is known for being a champion of economic development, job creation, and quality education for our kids,” Galvano said in a press release. “The election of Ed Hooper to the Florida Senate will be beneficial to not just his constituents, but all residents of the great state of Florida.”

Hooper is running for the seat currently held by Clearwater Republican Sen. Jack Latvala, who is termed out of the senate and running for Florida governor in 2018.

Hooper has called the Clearwater area home for 45 years, including 24 years working for the city’s fire department. He served in the House from 2006 through 2014, when term limits forced him to retire, and has spent his three years out of the Legislature working as a consultant.

Currently, Hooper is the only Republican candidate in the race. Since filing in January 2016, he has racked up endorsements and raised about $144,000 for his campaign.

Also running is Democrat Bernie Fensterwald, who filed for the race in June. He has raised $12,400 for his campaign and has about $7,000 in the bank.

Senate District 16 has a similar makeup to the pre-redistricting Senate District 20. It covers the northern half of Pinellas County and a strip of coastal Pasco County that includes New Port Richey.

The district favors GOP candidates, with about 20,000 more registered Republicans than registered Democrats, and voted for Donald Trump last year over Hillary Clinton 56-39.

Nancy Soderberg touts raising $336K in Q3 for CD 6 bid

Democrat Nancy Soderberg announced Thursday that her campaign in Florida’s 6th Congressional District brought in $336,000 in the first quarter since she entered the race.

“I’m honored by the outpouring of support our campaign has received. That energy is a vivid testament to how ready people are for a change from Washington’s broken politics and toward real results from their representative in Congress,” Soderberg said.

“We’re going to continue to build on the enthusiasm and energy of donors, volunteers, and voters in Florida’s Sixth. That’s how we win on Election Day.”

Soderberg was an ambassador to the United Nations during the Clinton Administration, and is the founder and director of the University of North Florida‘s Public Service Leadership Program. She filed to run in CD 6 in July.

The seat covers St. Johns, Flagler, and Volusia counties and is a solidly Republican district, producing a double-digit win for President Donald Trump in July.

Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis currently holds the seat, and likely will after the 2018 elections if he opts to stay in Congress rather than run for governor. If not, Soderberg could have a small window.

Either way, Soderberg is running her campaign as if DeSantis will be up against her on the ballot next year.

“We are giving voters a real choice in this election: business as usual, or a new voice. I’ll fight to ensure Congressional Republicans won’t throw a million Floridians off health care, raise premiums on those over 50 or eliminate protections for pre-existing conditions,” she said.

Soderberg’s complete campaign finance report has not been posted to the Federal Elections Commission, and her campaign did not mention how much of the money raised from July through September she had on hand.

DeSantis’ campaign hasn’t show any third quarter numbers yet, but through the end of June it had about $1.6 million on hand.

As he weighs CFO bid, Tom Lee raised $253K in September

Republican Sen. Tom Lee has been somewhat open about his intent to run for Chief Financial Officer next year and his committee, The Conservative, just posted its first big fundraising report since the end of the 2017 Legislative Session.

The new report, covering September, saw the former Senate President bring in $253,250 in committee cash while only spending $8,500.

The Conservative opened up in 2013 and through the end of the month had raised more than $3 million in its lifetime. It currently has about $2.1 million on hand.

By far the biggest donor in September was Pepin Distributing Company, a Tampa-based Anheuser-Busch-Inbev distributor, which chipped in an even $100,000.

Next on the list were Miami auto dealer and former Philadelphia Eagles owner Norman Braman who gave $25,000, followed by Winter Haven-based Cassidy Holdings Group with a $15,000 check.6

The Conservative brought in another 20 contributions last month, including six at the $10,000 level and nine for $5,000.

Former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker, who is running for his old job again this year, received $6,000 from Lee’s committee last month – $1,000 to his campaign account, and another $5,000 to his own political committee, Seamless Florida.

The only other expense was a $2,500 payment to the Archmann Group for consulting work.

The renewed fundraising push points toward Lee arming up for a CFO bid. Back in August, Lee said he would be running for CFO next year, and that his campaign announcement would drop sometime this fall.

Former Democratic Sen. Jeremy Ring is currently the only major candidate running for the Cabinet seat. Hollywood Republican Antoanet Iotova, who lost to Democrat Gary Farmer in SD 34 last year, did file paperwork on Sept. 5, but doesn’t have the firepower to compete with Lee or the other Republicans mulling a run, such as sitting CFO Jimmy Patronis.

Patronis was appointed to the Cabinet seat by Gov. Rick Scott after former CFO Jeff Atwater stepped down earlier this year to become Florida Atlantic University’s CFO. Scott has been clear that Patronis, a Panama City Republican, is his preferred pick in the race.

Stephanie Murphy hits $1M-raised milestone in CD 7

Freshman U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy has passed the $1 million mark in fundraising for her re-election campaign in Florida’s 7th Congressional District.

Her campaign touted the fundraising milestone, as well as Murphy’s $310,000 effort in the third quarter in a Thursday email, where spokesman Zachary Poe said the Orlando Democrat is gearing up to counter “partisan attacks” hitting her from the right.

“Stephanie Murphy has a strong record of bipartisan cooperation and delivering results for central Florida, which is why she has strong support from Democrats, Republicans, and independents,” he said. “National Republicans have already started launching negative attacks against Stephanie Murphy after only months in office, so we are raising the resources we need to fight back.”

Murphy’s new report has not been processed yet by the Federal Elections Commission, but at the end of the second quarter she had raised a total of $699,000 and had about $519,000 on hand.

Murphy beat out longtime Republican U.S. Rep. John Mica for the seat, 52-48, last year. Florida courts ordered new district lines ahead of the 2016 elections, making the Central Florida seat much friendlier to Democratic candidates.

At least one of the opponents looking to flip the seat back next year will be Winter Park Republican state Rep. Mike Miller, who announced he would leave HD 47 to run for Murphy’s seat over the summer.

His campaign was barely off the ground before the end of the second quarter, and hasn’t touted Q3 numbers yet, but he’s had a number of big-name Republicans show up to help him on the fundraising trail.

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