Drew Wilson, Author at Florida Politics - Page 3 of 76

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.

Ashley Moody gets Maggie’s List backing in Attorney General race

Republican Attorney General candidate Ashley Moody announced Thursday that she earned the backing of a political committee dedicated to getting conservative women into elected office.

Maggie’s List, which has a founders list including current Republican state Sens. Dana Young, Denise Grimsley and Kathleen Passidomo, said Moody – the only woman running for either major party’s nomination – “is a proven leader who brings so much to the State of Florida.”

“Her service in Florida, coupled with her relentless leadership and desire to work on issues that directly impact citizens and businesses in the Sunshine State, make her the right choice. We know she is the right candidate to serve as Florida Attorney General because she respects the need for increased personal responsibility, fiscal conservatism, and fairly upholding law and order for the citizens of Florida,” said committee chair and former Florida Secretary of State Sandra Mortham.

“Ashley Moody upholds the values and leadership that Maggie’s List looks for in effective and principled leaders. As a fiscal conservative, Ashley will work tirelessly to make sure Florida’s future is protected and constitutional rights are upheld.”

The Hillsborough County native and former circuit court judge is running in a four-way Republican Primary against state Reps. Jay Fant, Ross Spano and Frank White.

“Maggie’s List is leading the charge to advance conservatism across every level of government. Their members are champions for our conservative priorities and I’m extremely humbled to receive their endorsement for Attorney General of Florida,” Moody said.

Maggie’s List joins dozens of backers – including more than two dozen sitting county sheriffs – lined up behind Moody in what is shaping up to be an expensive and hotly contested primary to replace termed-out Pam Bondi.

Moody and Fant were the only two candidates in the primary race for a few months until White announced his run in October, followed by Spano in November.

Moody has maintained a solid fundraising effort throughout her campaign, but lost her lead after White put $1.5 million of his own money on the line to take the top spot. The Pensacola Republican has also given Moody a run for her money when it comes to endorsements.

Spano’s entry could threaten her home turf advantage in Hillsborough where she and Spano are both well-liked in Republican circles.

Jack Latvala’s fundraising slows to a halt in November

Gubernatorial candidate and Clearwater Republican Sen. Jack Latvala has been fighting back against sexual harassment allegations for more than a month, and the press reports haven’t helped in pull in money for his campaign.

Latvala entered the GOP Primary for governor back in August and after a hot start, his contributions slowed to halt in November after six women told POLITICO the longtime lawmaker had sexually harassed them during his time in office.

Latvala denies the allegations and vowed to clear his name, calling the report ‘fake news.’

Latvala’s fundraising arm, Florida Leadership Committee, finished October with $234,000 in contributions and more than $4.1 million in the bank, much of it left over from his battle to become Senate President.

In November, however, FLC took in just one check for $5,000 from the Florida Association of Health Plans PAC, with another $347 coming by way of interest, but that didn’t keep the committee from spending some of its reserves.

FLC spent nearly $160,000 last month, and had spent another $36,000 through the first week of December.

According to documents on the committee website, $50,000 of that money went to the Republican Party of Florida, more than $37,000 was spent on printing and mailers, $10,000 went to Champion Digital Media for advertising alongside several research, strategy, fundraising and political consulting contracts clocking in at a few thousand a piece.

Latvala is currently one of two major Republicans running for Florida governor. If his campaign weathers the storm, he faces termed-out Ag Commissioner Adam Putnam and likely a couple more contenders, such as House Speaker Richard Corcoran and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis.

Associated Builders and Contractors endorses Matt Caldwell for Ag Commissioner

North Fort Myers Republican Rep. Matt Caldwell announced Thursday that Associated Builders and Contractors of Florida has endorsed him in the Republican Primary to replace termed-out Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

“We are thrilled to announce that we are endorsing Matt Caldwell for Commissioner of Agriculture,” ABC board chair Mary Tappouni said. “Matt is a principled conservative who will fight to ensure that every Florida resident and business has the opportunity to succeed in the Sunshine State and grow our economy.”

Caldwell is running in a three-way GOP primary for the post alongside state Sen. Denise Grimsley and former Rep. Baxter Troutman. Democrat David Walker is also running for the Cabinet seat.

The endorsement from the construction trade group follows several “waves” of endorsements for the fourth-term HD 79 representative which have included several of his Republican colleagues in the Florida House from the Panhandle, Northeast Florida, Southwest Florida and South Florida delegations, a handful of county constitutional officers and a nod from U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz.

Paul Paulson, a one-time primary rival, also announced he would step aside and support Caldwell in the race.

“I am proud to receive the support of ABC Florida, a true champion of conservative values and free market principles. This exceptional group of individuals have fought to ensure that government does not get in the way of business in Florida and I too will continue fighting for economic prosperity in our great state,” Caldwell said in a press release.

The Caldwell campaign went on to tout October fundraising numbers which showed the Lee County Republican had raised about $1.37 million and has about $934,000 on hand between his campaign account and political committee, iGrow PC.

Through the same date, Grimsley had raised a total of $1.91 million and had about $884,000 on hand, while Troutman had raised $2.61 million and had $2.56 million on hand. His total is buoyed by $2.5 million of his own money.

Lantana Democrat Lori Berman

Lori Berman adds 31 local endorsements for SD 31 campaign

Democratic Rep. Lori Berman announced 31 endorsements for Senate District 31 special election bid Thursday, all of whom are current or former elected officials within the boundaries of the Palm Beach County district.

County level officials announced in the bulk endorsement included Mayor Melissa McKinlay, Vice Mayor Mack Bernard and County Commissioners Mary Lou Berger and Paulette Burdick, Tax Collector Anne Gannon, State Attorney Dave Aronberg, Clerk & Comptroller Sharon Bock, and School Board Members Marcia Andrews, Karen Brill, and Erica Whitfield.

“Lori is a tireless advocate for her constituents and a leader on behalf of Palm Beach County in the legislature,” Bernard said. “That is why I am endorsing Lori and look forward to working with her when she is in the Senate on behalf of Palm Beach County.”

Berman also picked up support from city officials in Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Lake Worth, Greenacres, West Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Palm Beach Gardens, Jupiter, South Palm Beach, Wellington and – of course – Lantana, where she lives.

“I am excited by the outpouring of support from so many of Palm Beach County’s mayors, commissioners, and councilmembers. In the legislature I have always fought for Palm Beach County, from successfully sponsoring legislation to build the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches for spring training for the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros to helping secure funding for Palm Beach State College’s 5th campus,” Berman said.

“As a member of the Senate, I will work hand in hand with our local leaders so that Palm Beach County is a place where our kids can raise a family with exceptional public schools, good paying jobs, access to quality healthcare, and a pristine local environment.”

Berman faces Arthur Morrison in a Jan. 30 special primary for the seat, and the winner will move on to an April 10 special general election against Republican Tami Donnally. The winner of the special election will serve until Election Day 2020.

SD 31 opened up back in October when Lake Worth Democrat Jeff Clemens abruptly resigned after admitting to an extramarital affair with a lobbyist.

Berman’s Thursday release marks her second wave of endorsements. In late November she announced more than two dozen endorsements from other Democratic state lawmakers as well as U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch and former congressman Patrick Murphy.

She also picked up an endorsement from former Boca Raton Democratic Rep. Irv Slosberg this week. Slosberg lost to Clemens in the 2016 primary for SD 31 and was briefly a candidate in the special election before he stepped aside in favor of Berman.

“You know, Lori and I were always good friends; she was always on the side of road safety,” he said. “She was right by my side. I think she’s going to make a great senator.”

The SD 31 and HD 114 special elections are currently the subject of a lawsuit filed by Florida Democrats pushing for earlier election dates in order for lawmakers representing the districts to be in place for at least part of the 2018 Legislative Session, which begins Jan. 9 and ends March 9.

A motion filed in that suit to move up the special election dates will be heard in Leon County circuit court Thursday.

​​Philip Levine tops $1 million in November for campaign and political committee

Gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine maintained his huge fundraising lead in the Democratic Primary with another $1 million raised last month between his campaign and committee accounts.

“In a big state like Florida, with over 20 million residents and ten media markets, resources are a key benchmark for running a successful statewide campaign. In his first month as a declared candidate for Governor, Philip Levine has shown he will aggressively meet those benchmarks,” senior adviser Christian Ulvert said in a press release.

“With this level of support, in the months ahead, we are confident that we will have ample resources to take Philip’s progressive vision for Florida’s future directly to voters in all 67 counties, from the Panhandle down to the Keys. Florida Democrats need a candidate with a vision and mission to do the right thing by getting things done, and Philip Levine is well-positioned to earn the support of Democratic voters in the coming months.”

Levine hadn’t uploaded his November finance report to the Florida Division of Elections as of Thursday afternoon, nor had his political committee, All About Florida, though the campaign said the two accounts “brought in over $1 million in November, with over $800,000 raised by the campaign and political committee.”

The difference could be made up through checks from Levine himself, who through October had already dumped $2.8 million of his personal fortune into his committee account.

November marks Levine’s second million-dollar month in a row, and he has now raised somewhere in the ballpark of $7 million for his gubernatorial bid. The October haul came in before he officially declared his candidacy.

That level of funding puts him far ahead of his closest primary competitor, former congresswoman Gwen Graham, who had raised a total of $4 million by the end of October. Through the same date Winter Park businessman Chris King had raised $2.7 million and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum had $1.6 million in total fundraising.

One of the few who could have financially overshadowed him in the primary race, Orlando attorney John Morgan, announced the day after Thanksgiving that he wouldn’t run for governor as a Democrat.

Still, Levine is far behind Republican front runner Adam Putnam, who had raised more than $20 million by the end of October with nearly $14.7 million in the bank.

Jason Fischer adds $25K for his HD 16 re-election bid

Jacksonville Republican Rep. Jason Fischer is currently unopposed for re-election to House District 16 but that didn’t stop him from adding another $25,000 last month to push his campaign past $100,000 mark in total fundraising.

Fischer, currently in his first term, raised $24,850 and spent $7,648 during November, bringing his to-date total to $113,902 raised with $80,217 cash on hand.

The former Duval County School Board member brought in $1,000 checks from lobby firms Becker & Poliakoff, Foley & Lardner, Ericks Consultants, The Rubin Group, as well as a pair from Ron Book – one through his firm and another from his personal account.

In all, Fischer added 18 contributions for the election max of $1,000, though one from the Florida Pharmacist Political Committee was refunded. Another 18 donors chipped in under the max, mostly at the $500 level.

Last month’s expenditures report shows a $6,000 payment to Gainesville-based Data Targeting Research for consulting work, with a handful of milage and meal reimbursements making up the rest of the outflow.

Fischer’s committee, Conservative Solutions for Jacksonville, also showed a net gain in November with $8,000 raised and $936 spent. Its donor list included Florida Blue with a $5,000 check, Teco Energy with a $2,000 contribution and AT&T at $1,000.

At month’s end the committee had $37,386 on hand, giving Fischer a combined total of $117,603 between his two accounts.

Rumors Fischer could face a primary challenger have ebbed in recent months, and with his current fundraising streak he looks good for re-election to the Republican-leaning district.

Three qualify for Senate District 31 special election

The qualifying deadline for candidates looking to replace Fort Worth Democrat Jeff Clemens passed at noon, and two Democrats and one Republican have made the cut according to the Florida Division of Elections.

Democrats Lori Berman, currently in the Florida House, and Arthur Morrison will face off in a primary race, while Republican Tami Donnally will face the victor in the general election for Senate District 31.

Berman and Morrison were originally slated for a three-way Democratic Primary with former state Rep. Irv Slosberg, but he announced earlier this week he would step aside and support Berman in the special election.

“You know, Lori and I were always good friends; she was always on the side of road safety. She was right by my side. I think she’s going to make a great senator,” Slosberg said.

Last month, Gov. Rick Scott set the special primary election for Jan. 30, 2018, with a special general election to follow on April 10.

So far Berman is the only candidate to file a campaign finance report for the race. Her first report, which only covered the last day of October, shows $177,504 in contributions, including $100,000 in loans. After $6,218 spent, she has $171,286 on hand.

With a special election comes special filing deadlines. Berman’s next report, and the first for Donnally and Morrison, is due Dec. 19 and will cover from their filing date through Dec. 14.

SD 31 opened up when Clemens resigned in late October after admitting to an affair with a lobbyist.

“I have made mistakes I ashamed of, and for the past six months I have been focused on becoming a better person,” he said in a statement at the time. “But it is clear to me that task is impossible to finish while in elected office. The process won’t allow it, and the people of Florida deserve better.”

Since his exit, House District 114 Rep. Daisy Baez has also stepped down and pleaded guilty to perjury in a case related to her residency.

The SD 31 and HD 114 special elections are currently the subject of a lawsuit filed by Florida Democrats pushing for earlier election dates in order for lawmakers representing the districts to be in place for at least part of the 2018 Legislative Session, which begins Jan. 9 and ends March 9.

A motion filed in that suit to move up the special election dates will be heard in Leon County circuit court Thursday.

Dane Eagle announces bills to change concealed carry rules, TANF benefits

Cape Coral Republican Rep. Dane Eagle announced a pair of bills Tuesday that would relax rules on conceal carry weapons permitholders whose firearms are seen, and another to “eliminate fraud” among Temporary Assistance for Needy Families recipients.

HB 39 would make a brief sighting of a firearm held by a person with a CCW permit a noncriminal violation with a $25 fine for a first offense and a $500 fine for a second offense. A third offense would go down as a second-degree misdemeanor.

Current law sticks CCW permit holders whose weapons are seen by others with a misdemeanor on the first offense.

“I am always committed to removing burdensome and unnecessary government intrusion, and in this particular case, this legislation will prevent law abiding citizens from being prosecuted as a criminal,” Eagle said. “A firearm becoming temporarily and openly displayed to the ordinary sight of another person by a license holder is not a criminal act and therefore should not be treated as a crime.”

The bill was filed in August by former Rep. Neil Combee, but was taken over by Eagle and Pensacola Republican Rep. Frank White now that Combee is no longer in the House. HB 39 would not apply in cases where a concealed weapon was intentionally displayed in an angry or threatening manner outside of the realm of necessary self-defense.

Eagle also filed HB 751, which would make several changes to TANF, including boosting the penalties for recipients who don’t comply with work requirements and barring them from spending the benefits money in certain locations, including a medical marijuana treatment center or dispensary.

Under the bill, the first noncompliance would result in benefits being stripped from families for 30 days rather than 10 days; a second violation would see recipients stripped of benefits for three months instead of one; a third violation boosts the penalty period from 3 months to 6 months; and a fourth violation bumps it from 6 months to a year.

“This bill will help eliminate fraud and ensure that tax dollars are only being spent on the truly needy – not those trying to manipulate the system or who are able to support themselves. We need to bridge the gap to self-sufficiency instead of perpetuating government dependence,” Eagle said.

The bill would set the reinstatement date for TANF benefits to the date when the recipient began to comply with work requirements or the first day of the month after the penalty period, whichever is later.

HD 59 candidate Joe Wicker adds endorsement from Stacy White

Republican Joe Wicker picked up another elected official endorsement Tuesday, this time from Hillsborough County Commissioner Stacy White.

“We have the chance to elect a common sense, conservative leader with real-world experience growing a business and protecting our country. Joe is passionate about serving our community and finding solutions to the challenges facing our county, region, and state. I wholeheartedly support him to be our next State Representative and I know without a doubt he will make an excellent Representative,” White said in a news release.

Wicker is running for Hillsborough County-based House District 59, currently held by Republican Rep. Ross Spano, who is running for Attorney General in 2018. Spano already gave Wicker his endorsement last month.

“Commissioner White is a dedicated public servant who is not just a good steward of Hillsborough County taxpayers’ dollars, but constantly seeks to find efficiencies in government and reduce the waste in our local budget.  His service to our county sets a standard by which all public servants should hope to meet and I will work with Commissioner White to continue to seek out and eliminate waste in government,” Wicker said.

In 2012 the Atlanta native and Army veteran was the second-place finisher behind Spano in the Republican Primary race for the newly redrawn seat.

With Spano trying his hand at higher office, the path to the Legislature is likely easier for Wicker, who proved in that election that he knows how to raise a little money — he brought in $79,234 for his primary effort — and that he was likable enough on the trail to get some votes. He received 3,222 in that bid, just 175 fewer than Spano.

Wicker is currently the only candidate running for the seat, but that could change as Democrats have eyed the seat for a flip despite limited success in past elections.

Last year, Spano defeated Democrat Rena Frazier by eight points, 54-46 percent, much to the disappointment of officials with the Florida Democratic Party, who thought they had a legitimate chance of capturing the seat and dumped financial resources into that campaign.

HD 59 encompasses most of Brandon, as well as Valrico, Dover, Seffner, Riverview, Palm River and Clair-Mel City.

HD 39 candidate Josie Tomkow raises $50K in first three weeks on campaign trail

Republican Josie Tomkow is currently running solo in the special election for House District 39, but that hasn’t stopped her from raising plenty of money for her campaign.

Though Tomkow has not yet filed her November campaign finance report, her campaign announced the first-time politician brought in more than $50,000 last month. The campaign news release did not mention how much money Tomkow’s campaign spent during her first few weeks in the race.

“We have a remarkable team.  The outpouring of support from my friends and family humbles me.  No one will work harder than I will to earn the trust and support of the people who live and work in District 39,” Tomkow said in a news release.

Tomkow is running to replace former Rep. Neil Combee, who left the seat on Nov. 24 to start a new job as Florida’s State Director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency.

Combee endorsed Tomkow before exiting the House, even over another potential Republican candidate, Polk County Commissioner John Hall, who expressed interest in running.

“Josie is ready and prepared for this next step in her public service.  She will represent our area well and continue the fight for conservative values in the halls of the Florida capitol,” he said shortly after she filed.

The Auburndale Republican reiterated his support of Tomkow, 22, after some reports questioned whether she was too young for the job.

“Although I am aware she is young by time’s standard, I don’t think age should ever preclude someone from entering public service,” he wrote. “You can never be too old, or too young to want to give back to your community and help your neighbors.”

Gov. Rick Scott last week set the special primary election, which may not be needed, for Feb. 20, while the special general election is May 1.

On Tuesday, a second Republican candidate opened a campaign account to run in the special election. Bartow Republican Jennifer Higley Spath opened an account Tuesday in House District 39.

HD 39 covers parts of Osceola and Polk counties, including Polk City, Auburndale, and the outskirts of Kissimmee at its eastern border and northern Lakeland along the district’s southwestern edge. It has a strong Republican lean.

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