Drew Wilson, Author at Florida Politics - Page 3 of 174

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.

Greg Steube hits Julio Gonzalez for touting non-existent Rick Scott endorsement

Venice state Rep. Julio Gonzalez has been pushing an online ad backing up his campaign for Florida’s 17th Congressional District that features Gov. Rick Scott praising the Republican lawmaker and insinuating Gonzalez is his pick in the primary race to fill the seat being vacated by retiring U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney.

According to an article by Brenden Farrington the Associated Press, the 30-second spot features the term-limited Governor making some effusive remarks about Gonzalez, and ends with an announcer saying Scott “stands with” Gonzalez, and asks voters to “Join Governor Scott in support of pro-Trump, tax-cutting conservative Dr. Julio Gonzalez.”

Short of a nod from President Donald Trump, the official backing of Scott would be the biggest coup a Republican congressional candidate could hope for. The problem: It’s not true.

Those clips were from a fundraiser benefitting Scott’s U.S. Senate campaign, and while Scott is likely appreciative of Gonzalez’ support in his quest to oust Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, he hasn’t weighed in on the Republican primary for CD 17.

If it weren’t clear enough by the lack of endorsement-style language, the bottom of that AP article puts to rest any lingering doubts: “Scott’s campaign manager, Jackie Schultz, said Scott hasn’t endorsed in the race.”

Gonzalez’ chief rival in the Republican primary for CD 17, Sarasota state Sen. Greg Steube, seized on the misrepresentation in a Tuesday campaign email hammering Gonzalez

“Julio Gonzalez, candidate for Congress, has been falsely touting the support of Governor Rick Scott in an effort to boost his failing campaign,” the email read, citing the AP report.

“Last week, Gonzalez sent an email to supporters calling on them to ‘Join Governor Rick Scott in supporting Dr. Julio Gonzalez.’ His campaign then released a short video with footage from a recent rally for Scott’s U.S. Senate campaign. As of August 13, the video is being promoted online by the Gonzalez campaign.”

Similar to the recent drama in the race for House District 62, Gonzalez may be violating state elections laws depending on the language and images he used. In the HD 62 case, U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor chastised School Board member Susan Valdes for using her picture in a campaign mailer that insinuated the congresswoman had endorsed Valdes, and went even further by alleging the act was a violation of Chapter 106.143(4) of the Florida Statutes.

Team Steube is doing the same in regards to Gonzalez’ ad.

The statute reads as follows: “It is unlawful for any candidate or person on behalf of a candidate to represent that any person or organization supports such candidate, unless the person or organization so represented has given specific approval in writing to the candidate to make such representation.”

A violation of that rule can result in civil fees.

“This is the latest attempt to mislead the voters from a campaign that is desperately trying to revive itself,” said Alex Blair, Steube’s campaign manager. “First, they tried to dismiss Gonzalez’s Never Trump past, and now they are trying to mislead voters about Governor Scott’s support. I think the voters will see past the deceit and will support Greg Steube’s positive, pro-Trump, conservative vision for Congress.”

Gonzalez and Steube will be on the Aug. 28 primary ballot alongside little-known Republican Greg Akins. The winner of the GOP nomination will go up against the Democratic nominee — either April Freeman or Bill Pollard — in the Nov. 6 general election, though the Republican candidate will be the odds on favorite come Election Day.

CD 17 is a safe Republican seat that sprawls across parts of Sarasota, Lee and Polk counties as well as the whole of Charlotte, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Highlands and Okeechobee counties. Rooney has held the seat since it was redrawn ahead of the 2012 elections.

In 2016, Rooney won re-election over his Democratic challenger with 62 percent of the vote and Trump earned the same share of the vote at the top of the ticket.

Gwen Graham raising campaign cash Thursday with past Dem. Gov. nominee

Former Congresswoman Gwen Graham will be in Tampa on Thursday to raise some cash to help her finish strong in the closing days of Democratic primary for Governor.

The fundraiser will be held at The Italian Club in Historic Ybor City, 1731 E. 7th St., from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. According to the invite, the suggested contribution is a relatively light $25. For those looking to attend, RSVP’s can be sent to Lark@GwenGraham.com.

Tampa businessman Charlie Brink, whose current project is a medical cannabis company, is serving as chair of the host committee, with a couple of high-profile Democrats listed as “Gwen’s Friends” on the invite.

Top on that list is former U.S. Rep. Jim Davis, who was the Democratic nominee for Florida Governor in 2006. He and Lt. Gov. nominee, former state Sen. Daryl Jones, lost 52-45 percent in the general election to then-Republican Charlie Crist.

Also showing up are St. Petersburg state Rep. Ben Diamond, former state Rep. and state Sen. Pat Frank, former U.S. Undersecretary of Commerce Francisco Sanchez, financial adviser John Few, developer and St. Pete for Good co-founder Jared Meyers, major philanthropists Frank and Carol Morsani, and Tampa attorney Crystal Whitescarver.

Graham is fresh off the release of fundraising reports that showed her campaign and political committee, Gwen Graham for Florida, reeling in nearly $1.5 million for the week of July 28 through Aug. 3. She also recently landed endorsements from musician and environmentalist Jimmy Buffett as well as former state Sen. Arthenia Joyner.

Graham faces Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene, Central Florida businessman Chris King and former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine in the Aug. 28 primary election.

After months of polls showing Levine leading the race, the past several weeks have seen Graham rocket to the top in polls of the five-way race, with her lead sometimes hitting double digits. Her late momentum has brought attacks from her rivals, notably Greene, who has hit the airwaves with attacks on her environmental record, the Graham campaign and its surrogates have harshly rebutted.

The winner of the Democratic nomination will move on to face one of two Republicans on the November ballot — U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, who leads most polls on that side of the aisle, or Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

The fundraiser invitation is below.

New poll: Nick DiCeglie trouncing Berny Jacques in HD 66

Two weeks out from the House District 66 primary election and Belleair Bluffs businessman Nick DiCeglie holds an outside-the-margins lead over his Republican primary opponent, Seminole attorney Berny Jacques.

The new survey out of St. Pete Polls found and DiCeglie, also the chair of the Republican Party of Pinellas County, with 44-30 percent lead over Jacques, the first-in candidate in the race to replace term-limited Rep. Larry Ahern.

Of course, mail ballots have already gone out to many voters in the coastal Pinellas district, and quite a few of those polled, 42 percent, say they’ve already sent theirs in. Among that crowd, DiCeglie’s lead inches up to 51-34, with the balance undecided.

The remaining 58 percent of voters — those who plan to vote but haven’t done so yet — still favor DiCeglie, though by a tighter margin. DiCeglie was the pick of 39 percent of the yet-to-vote crowd, compared to a 29 percent share for Jacques, who came a few points behind “undecided” at 32 percent.

The DiCeglie v. Jacques primary has been one of the most contentious contests that managed to steer clear of turning nasty.

Both men hit the airwaves with TV ads touting their experience, without dinging their rival.

DiCeglie, the owner of waste management company Solar Sanitation, said he was ready to “clean things up in Tallahassee” in his TV spot. Jacques, a former prosecutor, touted his record of putting criminals behind bars in his ad.

Both men have also raised well into the six-figures for their campaigns.

DiCeglie has raised more than $140,000 from donors and chipped in $30,000 of his own money, with about $41,000 left over as of Aug. 3. Jacques has raised more than $127,000 in hard dollars and another $81,100 through his affiliated political committee, Protect Pinellas. He had more than $58,000 banked on Aug. 3.

The winner of the Aug. 28 Republican primary will go up against schoolteacher Alex Heeren, who locked up the Democratic nomination without opposition.

HD 66 is a coastal Pinellas seat that covers part of Clearwater and numerous other communities, including Belleair Bluffs, Indian Rocks Beach, Indian Shores and Seminole.

The district has a Republican lean — Ahern has held the seat since it was redrawn in 2012, when he won re-election by 6 points. His next two re-election bids ended in double-digit wins, and President Donald Trump had similar success in 2016, when he carried the district 55-41.

The automated phone poll was conducted Aug. 13 and took responses from 347 registered Republicans who indicated they planned to vote in the primary election for HD 66. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.3 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.

Personnel note: Amanda Gorman joins Adams St. Advocates

Adams St. Advocates, the two-person lobbying shop run by Claudia Davant and Rebecca Roman, said Tuesday that it’s bringing on a third: Amanda Gorman.

“We are delighted to welcome Amanda to our team,” said Davant, president of the firm. “Amanda’s impressive background and experience in both the government and private sectors will tie in nicely with the forward-thinking advocacy services we offer our clients at Adams St. Advocates.”

Gorman joins the firm with more than five years of political, legislative, and executive experience in both the government and private sectors.

“I’m excited to join Adams St. Advocates,” Gorman said.  “My last five years spent working in various capacities from legislative to campaigns to executive experience in both government and private sectors has prepared me well for my new role at Adams St. Advocates.  I am looking forward to my future here and working with such a passionate team.”

Most recently, Gorman served the Department of Management Services in their Legislative Affairs office, where she assisted in developing and implementing strategy to successfully pass the department’s legislative and budget priorities. From this position, she brings extensive knowledge in health care, telecommunication, and technology policy, as well as state term contract and procurement experience.

Before that, Gorman was a campaign fundraiser for Gov. Rick Scott’s re-election campaign, and subsequently served two and a half years on his administration, where she was responsible for ensuring the appropriate handling of high-level and sensitive information and providing guidance and training on matters relating to records requests and public documents.

While earning her bachelor’s degree in political science and her master’s in applied American politics and policy at Florida State University, the Tallahassee native interned with the private lobbying firm of Corcoran & Johnson and the private law firm of Jansen & Davis.

Adams St. Advocates is a small but successful lobbying firm. According to their reports from the first quarter of the year, which included the 2018 Legislative Session, Davant and Roman handled the needs of 19 clients and brought in an estimated $185,000 in fees during the three-month stretch.

Arthenia Joyner backs Gwen Graham for Governor

Former Congresswoman Gwen Graham keeps picking up steam in the final stretch of the Democratic primary for Governor.

Fresh off a nod from Jimmy Buffett, the campaign followed up with an endorsement that’s more traditional, though no less impressive: former Senate Democratic Leader Arthenia Joyner.

“For too long, too many Floridians have been left behind by their governor and the politicians in Tallahassee. Our communities have been forgotten, our voting rights have been attacked and our civil rights weakened,” Joyner said. “Enough is enough. In 2018, we are going to reverse the trend and elect a Democrat who will fight for all Floridians — and that governor will be Gwen Graham.

“In Congress, Gwen cosponsored legislation to restore the Voting Rights Act. She has been a leading supporter of Amendment 4 to restore voting rights to returning citizens, and she has proposed comprehensive plans to expand voting rights and reform Florida’s criminal justice system,” Joyner said.

Joyner served in the state Legislature for 16 years beginning in 2000, though her impressive CV includes becoming the first black attorney in Polk County, the first black female attorney in Hillsborough County and the longest practicing black female lawyer in Florida history.

She is also a past president of the National Bar Association, holding that position from 1984-1995 and facing arrest during her tenure for protesting apartheid.

Additionally, Joyner also served on the 2017-18 Constitution Revision Commission.

“As a woman, Gwen understands the issues we face because she has lived them — but more than that, on Workdays and at roundtables, she has taken the time to get to know Floridians from all walks of life, to understand their challenges and present innovative solutions to help them,” Joyner said. “Gwen will work with leaders from every community to restore our public schools, protect our environment and expand health care.”

Joyner’s endorsement comes as Graham’s campaign for governor seems to have hit its stride — she showed nearly $1.5 million in new money in her most recent fundraising report, and in nearly every recent poll, the North Florida Democrat has posted a solid lead in the five-way race.

“Senator Arthenia Joyner is a living legend and trailblazer. She has dedicated her life to fighting for Florida families — and it is an honor to have her support,” Graham said. “As governor, I will work hand in hand with Senator Joyner to expand voting rights, invest more in every public school, ban oil drilling off our beaches, and finally expand health care for almost 1 million Floridians. Together, we will bring decency, respect and progress back to our state’s capital.

Graham faces Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene, Orlando area businessman Chris King and former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine in the Aug. 28 primary race.

The winner of the Democratic nomination will face either U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis or Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam on the November ballot.

Personnel note: Veteran communications pro Stephen Lawson joins Ron DeSantis campaign

From “rapid response director” on Gov. Rick Scott’s 2014 campaign, to Enterprise Florida, to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, to VISIT FLORIDA, Stephen Lawson has worked in several positions over the last four years.

On Monday, he made another jump: Communications Director for the Ron DeSantis for Governor campaign.

DeSantis campaign manager Brad Herold made the announcement Monday afternoon, saying that the campaign would be making a load of hires ahead of the Aug. 28 Republican primary contest, where DeSantis holds a major polling advantage and is eating away at the cash advantage of his lone opponent, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

“I’m proud to have a seasoned communications professional like Stephen join our team as our campaign continues to build momentum,” Herold said. “Stephen’s experience helping reelect Governor Scott shows he knows how to communicate a strong, conservative, winning message to voters across Florida. We look forward to continuing to share Ron’s vision for making Florida the best state in the country as its next Governor.”

Prior to getting his foot in the door of the Scott administration, Lawson attended the University of Florida, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and later attended Florida State University, where he earned a master’s degree in applied politics and policy.

The DeSantis campaign said Lawson will lead the communications efforts for the campaign and will work to build out a robust communications team ahead of the primary. The campaign said details on the new comms hires would be released in the coming weeks.

Dana Young

Dana Young announces Aug. 22 fundraiser for SD 18 re-election bid

Tampa Republican Sen. Dana Young is holding a fundraiser for her re-election campaign next week alongside former House Speaker Will Weatherford, his brother and former FSU quarterback Drew Weatherford and attorney Ron Christaldi.

The Aug. 22 event will run from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at 1601 S. MacDill Ave. in Tampa. Those looking to attend can direct their RSVPs to Kristin Lamb via Kristin@FLFStrategies.com or 850-339-5354.

Young was elected to Senate District 18 in 2016, but due to the shakeup caused by redistricting she and other state Senators in even-numbered districts must run for re-election after only two years.

She is facing a tough challenge from House Minority Leader Janet Cruz, who entered the race in mid-April. The most recent poll of the race shows Cruz with a slim advantage in the northwestern Hillsborough district, which covers much of Tampa.

SD 18 sits atop the Florida Democratic Party’s wish list this fall. Other than South Florida’s SD 36, where the party wasn’t able to recruit their first pick to challenge Republican Rep. Manny Diaz, SD 18 is the only district Democrats are after that voted for Hillary Clinton two years ago.

Young has landed several endorsements, most recently from the Florida Professional Firefighters, and she’s started revving up her ground game with canvassing drives. But her biggest advantage this cycle is in the money race.

As of Aug. 3, Young had more than $334,000 banked in her campaign account at the last reporting checkpoint. Her political committee, Friends of Dana Young, has nearly $1.18 million at the ready.

By comparison, Cruz had $169,500 in hard money and another $273,200 in her political committee, Building the Bay PC, as of July 20.

Neither Cruz nor Young faces a primary opponent. The pair will go head-to-head in the Nov. 6 general election.

The fundraiser invitation is below.

 

Karen Skyers

LGBTA group endorses Karen Skyers for HD 61

The Hillsborough County LGBTA Democratic Caucus announced over the weekend that it was endorsing attorney Karen Skyers in the crowded Democratic primary to fill Tampa-based House District 61, which is open due to current Rep. Sean Shaw’s Attorney General bid.

“We are proud to support your efforts toward full equality for LGBTA Floridians and look forward to working with you toward that goal,” the caucus said.

The caucus’ mission is to “foster good will between gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and allied members of the Democratic Party and the community at large; continue to work with other GLBT and like-minded organizations united with a common purpose; seek individual freedom in the framework of a just society; and seek political freedom in the framework of meaningful participation by all citizens.”

The endorsement sees Skyers join some elite company — so far this cycle, only incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Valrico Democrat Andrew Learned, who is running for Florida’s 15th Congressional District have earned the caucus’ endorsement. The new backer adds to a list that already includes Shaw and Ruth’s List Florida, a Democratic Party-aligned group that supports female candidates for public office.

“I am thankful to the Hillsborough County LGBTA Caucus for their endorsement. Once again, we are reminded that #lovewins. I will champion for equality and laws that protect all of the people, not some of the people,” Skyers said.

Skyers is up against Dianne HartNorman Harris and Sharon Carter in the Democratic primary. The winner of that contest will be Shaw’s de facto replacement in the Tampa-based Democratic stronghold, though they will be nominally opposed by write-in candidate Valion Joyce in November.

Florida law allows all voters to participate in primary elections if all candidates are members of the same party, however Joyce’s entry into the race nullifies that rule. HD 61 is one of five state legislative districts this cycle that had its primary locked down by a write-in candidate.

As of Aug. 3, Skyers led in overall fundraising with more than $70,000 raised, though her $13,290 cash on hand puts her behind Hart, who was the second-place finisher in the 2016 Democratic primary for the seat, losing to Shaw by 101 votes.

She’s raised about $33,000 and kicked in $15,000 in candidate loans for an on-hand tally of nearly $31,000 on Aug. 3. Through the same date, Harris had raised $20,435 and had $3,067 at the ready while Carter had raised $5,345, half of it loans, and had $439 in her campaign account.

HD 61 covers downtown Tampa, Ybor City, and Seminole Heights. Democrats hold an overwhelming advantage at the polls.

Florida politicians react to Clearwater ‘Stand Your Ground’ arrest

Nearly a month after he fatally shot Markeis McGlocktonMichael Drejka was arrested and booked into the Pinellas County Jail on Monday afternoon on charges of manslaughter.

Drejka, 47, last month started an argument with the 28-year-old McGlockton’s girlfriend, Britany Jacobs, over her use of a handicapped spot in a convenience store parking lot. Upon exiting the store and noticing the argument, McGlockton rushed over and pushed Drejka to the ground.

Still on the ground, Dreika pulled a gun, fired, and killed McGlockton. Security camera footage from the convenience store appears to show McGlockton backing away from Drejka after he drew his weapon, but Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri chose not to arrest Drejka.

The sheriff, a law school grad, cited a 2017 change to the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law that required law enforcement to prove a shooter didn’t feel threatened before filing criminal charges.

That decision was met with uproar:

— McGlockton’s family demanded charges be filed,

— State Rep. Shevrin Jones, a Democrat, and Senate Democratic Leader Oscar Braynon urged State Attorney Bernie McCabe to pursue the case,

— Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson called on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the shooting, as did the Clearwater/Upper Pinellas NAACP,

— Democratic candidate for Governor Andrew Gillum called on Gov. Rick Scott to suspend the law by executive order,

— Tampa Councilman Harry Cohen renewed his call for an outright repeal,

— National racial justice group Color of Change started a campaign to “Stop ‘Stand Your Ground’,”

— Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King delivered a fiery speech on the racial disparity in the use of “Stand Your Ground,” and

— Democratic lawmakers called for a Special Legislative Session, though the request failed along party lines.

Now that Drejka has been arrested and charged with manslaughter, numerous politicians — mostly Democrats — have released statements commenting on the length of time after the shooting, which took place July 19, whether the charges were strong enough, and reiterating their calls for a “Stand Your Ground” repeal.

Democratic Attorney General candidate Sean Shaw:

“This day is too long coming. Justice delayed is justice denied and we continue to seek justice for the McGlockton family and so many other families across this state. Stand Your Ground laws are wrong and have no place in a civilized society. Starting on day one as Attorney General, I will do everything in my power to force the legislature to repeal this terrible law. We look forward to Mr. Drejka receiving his day in court.”

King, an Orlando area businessman:

“The state attorney’s office is doing what Sheriff Gualtieri has failed to do thus far –– seeking justice for the death of Markeis McGlockton. This community is crying out for action and the McGlockton family deserves justice, and that’s why I’ve been calling for leaders to act since this tragedy occurred. Today’s decision is another example why Florida’s broken ‘stand your ground’ law must be repealed so that justice in this case and every other tragedy can never be delayed or denied.”

Fellow Democratic candidate for Governor, former Congresswoman Gwen Graham:

Gillum, currently the mayor of Tallahassee, repeated his call for Gov. Scott to suspend SYG:

Former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, also a Democratic candidate for Governor, said the family “deserves justice”:

The fifth Democratic candidate for Governor, Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene, said the following:

Neither of the two major Republicans running to replace Scott, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, commented on the arrest, nor did current Attorney General Pam Bondi or the two Republican candidates vying to succeed her, Pensacola state Rep. Frank White and former Hillsborough Circuit Judge Ashley Moody.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said it supported the decision.

Jones, who represents Broward County’s HD 101, acknowledged the arrest via twitter:

Tampa Attorney Karen Skyers, a Democratic candidate for House District 61:

“I applaud the decision by the State Attorney’s Office to charge Michael Drejka in the shooting death of Markeis McGlockton,” Skyers said.

“As an attorney and an advocate, failure to prosecute would have been yet another rubber stamp on the use of “Stand Your Ground” as a license to kill, a situation that tragically occurs far too often in Florida.

“And while I’m encouraged by today’s news, it could have just as easily gone the other way. So long as this terrible law remains on the books, the people of Florida – especially people of color – remain especially at risk whenever an aggressor is spoiling for a fight and the last man standing is the only living witness.

“This is why change is needed. And this is why I continue to pledge that the very first bill I will file as the Representative for House District 61 is a repeal of this dangerous law.”

Denise Grimsley scores 32 endorsements from current and former lawmakers

Agriculture Commissioner candidate Denise Grimsley got the nod from a large contingency of her colleagues in the Florida Legislature Monday, adding another 32 backers just days after she announced three dozen endorsements from local elected officials from all corners of the Sunshine State.

Grimsley, a Sebring Republican, has been a member of the state Legislature since 2004, first as a member of the Florida House and, since 2012, as a member of the Florida Senate. She currently represents District 26, which covers all of DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Highlands and Okeechobee counties as well as parts of Charlotte, Lee and Polk counties.

The bulk nod included a baker’s dozen of backers who are currently serving alongside Grimsley: Sens. Dennis Baxley, Aaron Bean, Anitere Flores, George Gainer, Rene Garcia, Dorothy Hukill, Debbie Mayfield, David Simmons, Kelli Stargel and Reps. Sam Killebrew, Cary Pigman, Elizabeth Porter and Charlie Stone

The nine current senators announced today join incoming Senate President Bill Galvano and Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson, making for half of the Republican Senators not named “Grimsley” backing her campaign. Grimsley’s chief rival in the Republican primary, Lehigh Acres Rep. Matt Caldwell, has landed loads of support from his House colleagues, but has only earned one endorsement from a sitting Republican Senator: St. Pete Sen. Jeff Brandes.

Also adding their names to the pile were 19 former lawmakers, all but five of whom served alongside Grimsley for at least a couple years of her tenure in Tallahassee, including former House Speakers Allan Bense, Dean Cannon, Larry Cretul, H. Lee Moffitt; former Sens. Ellyn Bogdanoff, Charlie Dean, Pat Neal and Miguel Diaz de la Portilla; as well as former Reps. Kim Berfield, Marti Coley, Faye Culp, Frank Farkas, Mark Flanagan, James Frishe, Kurt Kelly, Dick Kravitz, Dave Murzin, Mark Ogles and Joseph Spratt.

“During my time in the Florida Senate and Florida House of Representatives, I have met or worked with many of these Senators and Representatives while serving our Sunshine State,” Grimsley said. “We have worked together to make this the best state in the nation to live, work and play; and, I am grateful for their support of my campaign.

“With my diverse background raising cattle, growing citrus, helping people, running a business and managing a budget, paired with my dedication to solving problems that face Florida, I know I am the most qualified and best candidate in this race; and, I look forward to the opportunity to continue my work serving Floridians as their Commissioner of Agriculture,” she said.

Grimsley has surged in endorsements over the past several weeks. Outside of the 66 endorsements she’s announced since Friday, she has the support of 36 current county sheriffs — seven Democratic and 29 Republican — as well as numerous statewide organizations, including the Fraternal Order of Police, Florida Professional Firefighter, Florida Realtors and the Florida Medical Association, among many others.

Caldwell and Grimsley are running alongside retired U.S. Army Col. Mike McCalister and former Winter Haven Rep. Baxter Troutman in the Republican primary.

Through Aug. 3, Grimsley leads in true fundraising with $2.65 million in outside cash raised since she entered the race in February 2017. She also currently holds the cash lead with more than $1.1 million in the bank between her campaign account and two political committees, Saving Florida’s Heartland and Let’s Grow Florida.

Caldwell, meanwhile, has also broken the $2 million mark since entering the race in April 2017 and had a little over $1 million in the bank at last check-in.

Troutman, however, has pumped $3 million into his campaign fund and raised about $500,000, though his high burn rate has left him with just $322,500 on hand as of Aug. 3. McCalister, for his part, has raised just $22,604, including nearly $19,000 in candidate loans.

The winner of the Aug. 28 Republican primary will move on to November when they’ll face one of three Democrats: Nikki FriedJeffrey Porter or Roy David Walker.

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