Drew Wilson, Author at Florida Politics - Page 2 of 57

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.

Tampa Bay-area lawmakers, Lawrence McClure buddy up for joint fundraiser Sept. 20

Three Republican lawmakers and the leading GOP candidate in HD 58 will hold a joint fundraiser Sept. 20 in San Antonio, Fla.

Sen. Wilton Simpson, set to be Senate President for the 2020-22 term, will be joined by Tampa Bay-area Reps. Danny Burgess and Shawn Harrison, as well as HD 58 candidate Lawrence McClure for the event.

The reception will be held at the home of Marlene Sumner, the wife of deceased Pasco County lawyer Robert Sumner, and is joined on the host committee by her daughter Lorraine Nicolette and son-in-law John Nicolette.

For more information, or to RSVP for the fundraiser, send an email to anthony@simwins.com.

McClure is one of two Republicans running to replace Republican Rep. Dan Raulerson, who is leaving his seat Aug. 15 due to health problems.

The Republican-leaning seat has a qualifying deadline of Aug. 16 and has yet to draw a credible Democratic candidate, giving the winner of the Oct. 10 GOP primary race between McClure and Yvonne Fry heavy odds to win in the special general election on Dec. 19.

Simpson, Harrison and Burgess are currently unopposed in their re-election campaigns.

The invitation is below:


Second Democrat files for Ag Commissioner race

Another Democrat has thrown his hat in the ring for Agriculture Commissioner, according to papers filed with the Florida Division of Elections. 

Broward County resident David Walker filed for the seat Friday and joins Michael Christine in the Democratic Primary to take over for term-limited Ag Commissioner Adam Putnam, who is running for governor.

Though Walker shares his name with the Sunshine State’s eighth governor, he appears to be a political newcomer.

He doesn’t have a lot of catching up to do with Christine as far as fundraising goes, though he’ll need a sizable campaign fund to compete with the Republican candidates in the race, especially current leader Sen. Denise Grimsley.

The Sebring Republican announced Thursday that she had added another $152,000 between her campaign and committee accounts last month, and has so far raised about $1.1 million for her quest to replace Putnam.

Fort Myers Republican Rep. Matt Caldwell isn’t far behind with more than $1 million raised since January, including $108,000 last month. Between his campaign and committee accounts, he has $878,000 on hand.

The third major GOP candidate in the race is citrus grower and former four-term Winter Haven Rep. Baxter Troutman.

Businessman Paul Paulson, a homebuilder who mounted an unsuccessful bid to be Orlando mayor in 2015, is also running.

Christine, who entered the race in April, reported no contributions for both June and July.

Committee backing felon voting rights amendment adds $500K in July

The political committee backing a ballot initiative to automatically restore voting rights to nonviolent felons brought in over $500,000 last month.

Floridians for a Fair Democracy” received $250,000 of the July haul from the American Civil Liberties Union, with another $150,000 coming from the The Advocacy Fund, a San Francisco-based group that funds a variety of progressive causes across the country.

The remaining $100,000 in contributions came in from Robert Wolthius, a San Francisco software engineer

Spending clocked in at about $662,000 last month, with the vast majority of the money going toward collecting and verifying petition signatures.

The bulk of expenses were paid out by the Clearwater-based committee went to Calabasas, Calif.-based petition management firm PCI Consultants, which took in $583,183.

Also on the payroll was Miami-based Accurate Business Systems, which received $36,429, and Columbus, OH-based EMC Research, which was paid $23,318.

In all, Floridians for a Fair Democracy has raised just shy of $1.1 million and had about $93,000 of that money on hand on Aug. 1.

In order to make the ballot, initiatives need signatures equal to 8 percent of the voter turnout in the most recent presidential election. That equals 766,200 signatures for initiatives aiming for the 2018 ballot, which is a significant jump from the 683,149 needed to make the cut in 2016.

As of Monday, the voting rights amendment had 54,700 confirmed signatures. Initiatives must get 76,632 signatures before they are reviewed by the state Attorney General.

Metz Husband & Daughton brings Pierce Schuessler aboard

Metz Husband & Daughton will announce today that it added a new lobbyist for its Tallahassee office.

Pierce Schuessler joins MHD from Brandon Republican Sen. Tom Lee’s office, where he worked as the former Senate President’s chief of staff.

“With nearly a decade of experience in state government, we have no doubt Pierce’s background will give our clients a key advantage that will enhance their success,” MHD President Jim Daughton said. “Pierce’s relationships, skills and knowledge are a welcomed addition to the team.”

Schuessler’s résumé also includes stints with former Sen. Ken Browning, Secretary of State Ken Detzner and in the Governor’s Office of Policy and Budget. He was also the one-time Director of Legislative Affairs for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, where he was instrumental in the department’s 2013 effort to secure $880 million in funding for the Everglades Restoration Plan, one of Gov. Rick Scott’s priorities.

“The MHD team has earned their reputation as leaders in legislative and executive branch advocacy, consistently delivering winning results for their clients,” the FSU poli sci alumnus said. “I’m excited to have the opportunity to contribute to such a well-established firm.”

MHD is a full-service lobby and law firm based in Tallahassee. In the first quarter of 2017 the group brought in $882,000 through lobbying, earning it a spot among the top 10 grossing firms.

Disney donates another $500K to initiative to limit gambling expansion

Disney doubled down on its support for a proposed ballot initiative that would limit gambling expansion in the Sunshine State.

Disney cut a $500,000 check to the committee backing the amendment, “Voters in Charge,” last month. Since April the company has given $1.15 million for the cause, which accounts for more than 80 percent of the committee’s total contributions.

If it makes it onto the 2018 general election ballot and passes, the amendment would force any future gambling expansions to be decided on by Florida voters

Anti-gambling expansion group No Casinos Inc. has given most of the rest of the money raised by the committee, as well as thousands of dollars worth of in-kind contributions.

Disney has long contended that casino-style gambling would damage Florida’s image in the eyes of tourists, especially the variety that visit the company’s four Orlando theme parks.

No Casinos’ asserts expansion would increase gambling addiction and ratchet up crime rates while shutting down local business due to what casino proponents call the “substitution effect,” where gambling as well as a casino’s on-site restaurants, amenities and services leech business away from non-casino businesses.

The initiative cleared its first hurdle in April, when the Florida Supreme Court signed off on the proposal’s ballot wording. Voters in Charge must now collect 766,200 petition signatures to get on the ballot.

Collecting those signatures is the major expense of most ballot initiatives.

So far, the nearly all of the committee’s $943,858 in expenditures have gone toward petition gathering and petition verification.

As of Friday, the initiative had 151,476 valid signatures.

Rick Scott committee adds $164K in July

Governor and likely 2018 U.S. Senate candidate Rick Scott brought in $164,150 last month for his political committee, “Let’s Get to Work.”

The haul was balanced out by $133,645 in spending, mainly on consultants, leaving the second-term Republican governor with about $2.9 million on hand.

The July donor roll included Amscot Financial, JM Family Enterprises and Charter Communications, each of which chipped in $25,000. Healthcare groups Ameriteam Services and Pediatric Dental Anesthesia Associates gave $15,000 and $12,500, respectively, while lobbying firm Greenberg Traurig gave $10,000.

The bulk of Scott’s spending headed to Annapolis-based On Message, Inc., which has been retained by the governor for consulting and media work for several years. The company picked up $79,000 in July, while Contribution Link got $16,000 for database services and Deborah Aleksander got nearly $15,000 for fundraising consulting and travel expenses.

Other consulting companies getting a paycheck last month were Cavalry Strategies, JTKE, Traction Capital and Robert Manders. Law firm GrayRobinson PA also picked up a $1,000 check for legal services.

Scott’s second term is entering its twilight and term limits prevent him from running again. Though he hasn’t announced his plans for 2018, most believe he will make a run for the senate against incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson.

Gwen Graham spends ‘workday’ at camp for sick children

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham spent a campaign “workday” this week helping out at a Eustis summer camp for children with serious illnesses.

“The children of our state are so fortunate to have Camp Boggy Creek. Every child deserves to experience the love, joy and growth I saw here, today.” Graham said. “I am thankful for the amazing staff and volunteers who dedicate their time giving back to our community. Camp Boggy Creek is a great example of all we can achieve when we work together to serve others.”

Graham’s workdays were a staple of her successful ouster of former Republican Rep. Steve Southerland when she ran for congress in 2014. Her father, former governor and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, also held workdays during his many successful campaigns.

Graham spent the day helping out the counselors and volunteers at the camp, which was founded by actor Paul Newman and Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf in 1996 based on a premise “that every child, no matter their illness, could experience the transformational spirit and friendships that go hand in hand with camp.”

One of the counselors Graham worked with, Leia Schwartz, first went to Camp Boggy Creek as a camper after severe asthma caused her lungs to collapse and severely limited the physical activities she could participate in.

“Camp Boggy Creek gave me the opportunity to experience the same fun other children had. For the first time, I felt like I wasn’t so different, after all. Now, I give back to help other children laugh, play and grow,” said Schwartz, now a student at Stetson University.

Camp CEO June Clark said she was grateful Graham spent one of her workdays at the camp.

“She learned firsthand about the fulfilling experiences we provide to seriously ill children in Florida. I encourage everyone learn more about Camp Boggy Creek and our mission to help children and families,” Clark said.

Ben Albritton earns endorsement from Bartow officials

Republican Rep. Ben Albritton’s 2018 Senate campaign touted endorsements from a pair of Bartow elected officials Thursday.

Bartow Mayor James Clements and City Commissioner Trish Pfeiffer said they are backing the HD 56 lawmaker for the SD 26 seat currently held by Republican Sen. Denise Grimsley, who is running for Ag. Commissioner.

“Ben Albritton has served in the Florida House with vision and integrity,” Clements said. “He’s been there for Bartow when we truly needed his support. I’m confident he’ll continue to deliver for us in the Florida Senate.”

Pfeiffer said it was important for voters to put their “faith in someone that has the moral and ethical heart that will represent us and not forget about our interests here at home.”

“I may not always agree with the eventual outcomes of the tough decisions that political leaders are charged with making, but a well informed, educated leader and a candidate that remembers where he came from and who he represents makes it an easy choice. That is why I am endorsing Ben Albritton for the Florida State Senate,” she said.

Albritton said he was “grateful for the support” from the local officials and added that he is looking forward to “working with them and other local leaders across District 26 to make sure issues of importance in their communities receive the attention they need and deserve in Tallahassee.”

Albritton would have faced term limits in the Florida House in the 2018 cycle, which makes Grimsley’s planned early exit from the Senate quite fortuitous for the Wauchula citrus grower. So far, he is the only candidate to declare for 2018.

SD 26 includes the area currently represented by Albritton in the House – DeSoto, Hardee and part of Polk – as well as the whole of Glades, Highlands and Okeechobee counties and a small section northwestern Lee County.

There are about 27,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats in the district and much like the pre-redistricting SD 21 seat it replaced, Republicans dominate the district at the polls.

HD 58 candidate Lawrence McClure says he’s raised $90K in a week

HD 58 candidate Lawrence McClure says he’s already raised $90,000 for his campaign to take over for Republican Rep. Dan Raulerson, who is stepping down from his seat next week due to health problems.

McClure, a Plant City Republican, filed for the seat on the first of the month and said he already has enough petition signatures to qualify for the special election ballot. He also said his campaign was “very proud” of their fundraising effort one week into the race.

“In our first week we’ve raised over $90,000, which will help us spread our positive, conservative message to every corner of District 58,” he said in a campaign email. “With just over 60 days left before the Primary we are working hard to meet with each and every Republican voter and share with them our conservative principles.”

The Hillsborough County native works with local companies on environmental mitigation, oil spill cleanup and petroleum tank removal. He has been a member of the Hillsborough County Farm Bureau for the past two years and is currently serving as the bureau’s Building Committee chairman.

McClure will face Yvonne Fry in the Republican primary for the seat, which covers northwestern Hillsborough County from the borders of Pasco and Polk counties includes Temple Terrace, Thonotosassa and Plant City.

The special primary election will be held Oct. 10, with the special general election to follow on Dec. 19.

Fry, who filed at the tail end of July, has also announced she will qualify via petitions signatures, though she hasn’t touted any August fundraising numbers. Her first report, which covered the last four days of July, showed $7,250 in contributions, nearly all of which she had on hand at the end of the month.

Also running are Democrat Jose Vazquez and Libertarian Bryan Zemina, neither of whom have reported any campaign contributions. The qualifying deadline for the race is Aug. 16 at noon.

HD 58 has about 3,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans, though is has been firmly in Republican control since districts were redrawn in 2012. Vazquez is the only Democrat to make the general election ballot since then, and he lost handily to Raulerson in both 2012 and 2016.

Florida adds 18,100 private-sector jobs in July, ADP survey shows

Florida added 18,100 private sector jobs last month according to new employment data released by payroll company ADP.

July’s ADP Regional Employment Report showed the most of the new jobs heading to the service industry, which saw a gain of 16,500 jobs, including 2,300 new positions in the trade, transportation and utilities sector and 5,300 in the professional and business services industry.

The massive service industry gains were coupled with modest job growth in manufacturing, which added 700 jobs last month, as well as mining and construction jobs, which produced 1,000 new jobs.

The July report showed more new positions than June, when Florida added 13,500 jobs, and are a slight improvement over July 2016, when Florida businesses added 16,400 jobs.

The Sunshine State’s total was good enough for second place among the individual states tracked in the report. Texas took the top spot with a gain of 22,200 new private-sector jobs, with fellow large states California and New York coming in at 14,700 jobs and 6,000 jobs, respectively.

Illinois typically lags behind the four most populous states in job growth, but managed to take the No. 4 spot with 6,800 new jobs added last month.

The South, which includes Florida, Texas and 14 other states, was once again the top region in the report with 84,000 new positions. Western states added 38,000, followed by the Midwest with 36,000 and the Northeast with 19,000.

The Regional Employment Report is produced by ADP and Moody’s Analytics and is based on data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics as well as ADP’s in-house payroll data. The next report is scheduled for release Sept. 7.

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