Drew Wilson, Author at Florida Politics - Page 4 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.

Election eve poll gives Lawrence McClure wide lead in HD 58 special election

A barrage of nasty direct mail campaigns in the HD 58 special election may have snookered Yvonne Fry’s chances in the Tuesday Republican Primary, according to a new survey from St. Pete Polls.

An automated phone poll conducted over the weekend surveyed 358 registered HD 58 voters and found the Plant City native trailed Republican businessman Lawrence McClure 54-36 percent, with another 10 percent saying they were unsure which candidate they would choose at the ballot box.

McClure polled 20 points better than Fry among whites, and did similarly well among both men and women. He also dominated among voters over 30 – voters aged 50 to 69 picked McClure over Fry by 32 points, with only 7 percent saying they were unsure.

Fry’s only wins came among the 18-29 crowd, 50-33, and among Hispanics, who preferred her 2-to-1 over McClure.

About 44 percent of those polled also said they had already voted in the special primary,

The prime timers have turned out for the election, too, with more than 55 percent of the 70-and-up crowd having already cast their ballot.

There’s still a day left before the door shuts on the primary, but even Fry’s wins don’t paint a pretty picture in a district where 64 percent of the electorate are non-Hispanic whites, and the median age is hovering around the late-30s.

Fry was the first-in candidate for the special election, which Gov. Rick Scott scheduled after former Rep. Dan Raulerson announced he would leave office due to health issues.

She amassed plenty of support from all levels of GOP leadership, too. In addition to Raulerson coming out in support of her once he became a “private citizen,” she won over all five current Plant City Commissioners as well as neighboring Rep. Ross Spano, Attorney General Pam Bondi and a host of others.

McClure picked up his support, and cash, from allies of House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who found himself at odds with Raulerson more often than not.

With those deep pockets backing him, he has led in fundraising through most of the campaign. And his major foible – having never cast a ballot in a primary election until last year– was outshined by the rash of mailers branding Fry as a liberal in cahoots with “Obama, Clinton and Pelosi” when it came to 2nd Amendment rights.

The winner of the McClure-Fry battle is the odds-on favorite for the seat, but still must face Democrat Jose Vazquez, Libertarian Bryan Zemina and non-party-affiliated Ahmad Saadaldin in a Dec. 19 general election.

AFP-FL lauds House bill to slash occupational license regulations

Conservative group Americans for Prosperity Florida praised a House proposal that would relax regulations and fees levied on some professional licenses and nix certain requirements for registering new ventures with the state.

“People want jobs, not roadblocks. Let’s free entrepreneurs to pursue their dreams and build better lives for themselves and their families by getting government out of the way,” AFP-FL Director Chris Hudson said.

HB 15 by Monticello Republican Rep. Halsey Beshears would free up entrepreneurs who work as hair braiders, hair wrappers, body wrappers, manicurists, pedicurists and makeup artists by allowing them to nearly skip registration altogether, including the $25 fee that’s currently the law of the land.

Those workers would still need to be at least 16 years old and able to prove a certain level of training, but would be allowed to import their license from another state or become qualified through certain public school programs.

Rules for interior design firms get tidied up under the bill, which would also repeal statutes prohibiting felons and those deemed not to be “of good moral character” from serving as registered agents for a business. The removed statutes also required would-be agents to cut a $25 check to the state and have their fingerprints taken by a law enforcement agency.

AFP-FL cited a study from the Institute for Justice that found the Sunshine State’s “occupational licensing regime is in the top tier as one of the most restrictive in the nation.”

“The state enforces burdensome laws that deter entry into 45 of the 102 low- and moderate-income occupations surveyed. On average, breaking into one of these occupations requires $274 in fees, 603 days lost to education and experience – over a year-and-a-half – and one exam,” the report said.

The group said lawmakers’ votes on HB 15 will make up part of their grade on the “Economic Freedom” report cards that head out post session. AFP-FL said the rest of the bills tracked in the scorecard will be announced before the 2018 Legisaltive Session kicks off in January.

HB 15 is set to go before the House Commerce Committee when it meets 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Wilton Simpson’s committee raised $209K in September

Future Senate President Wilton Simpson brought in more than $200,000 through his political committee last month, and forked over half that sum to the committee supporting GOP candidates for state senate.

The Trilby Republican’s committee, Jobs for Florida, raised $209,500 in September, with a good chunk of that money coming in through a handful of large checks.

Heritage Property & Casualty Insurance gave $50,000, while the Florida Medical Association, Mosaic Global Sales and a political committee tied to former House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, Growing Florida’s Future, chipped in $25,000 each. Florida Blue and the Florida Hospital Association also made the donor roll with $20,000 contributions.

The committee’s spending clocked in at $204,700 for September, but $100,000 of that money went directly into the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, chaired by Senate President Joe Negron and used to help Republican senate campaigns statewide.

Citizens Alliance for Florida’s Economy, chaired by uber political consultant Anthony Pedicini, got a $20,000 contribution from Simpson’s committee.

Also on the expense report were Capital Finance Consulting, which received $50,500 for fundraising and consulting work, and Meteoric Media Strategies, which was paid $22,500 for consulting.

With September in the books, Jobs for Florida has about $1.63 million in cash on hand. Simpson, who is almost certain to take over as Senate president in 2020, has another $280,000 on hand for his 2018 re-election bid.

Ashley Moody picks up endorsement from Walton County sheriff

Attorney General candidate Ashley Moody added another Panhandle Republican to her stable of endorsements Friday, just one day after announcing Reps. Clay Ingram and Jay Trumbull are backing her campaign.

Walton County Sheriff Mike Adkinson joins the list which includes U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz,  current A.G. Pam Bondi, as well as the sheriffs of Brevard, Pasco and Pinellas counties.

“Each and every day the brave men and women in law enforcement serve and protect those in our state and do so by putting the safety of citizens before their own. I’m backing Ashley Moody for Attorney General because we need a leader in Tallahassee who understands the sacrifices our law enforcement community makes and who will support us in our mission,” Adkinson said.

Moody was thankful for the nod from the “consummate lawman,” who currently serves as president of the Florida Sheriff’s Association.

“As a former chief of police, and now sheriff of Walton County, Sheriff Adkinson is a proven and effective leader with a track record of aggressively combating crime. I’m honored to have earned his endorsement and pledge to be a strong advocate for those who protect and serve the citizens of Florida,” Moody said.

Moody is one of three candidates who are running to replace Bondi as the state’s top cop. Jacksonville Rep. Jay Fant is running against Moody in the Republican Primary, while Ryan Torrens currently has no competition for the Democratic nomination.

Moody has led the trio in fundraising since shortly after she announced her run in June, and droves of Republicans have lined up to support her campaign. Through August, she had racked up $756,000 in contributions for her campaign account and had about $733,000 on hand.

The fifth-generation Floridian and three-time University of Florida alumna also has a political committee, “Friends of Ashley Moody,” which had pulled in $137,500 through the same date.

Fant got off to a strong start with $150,000 raised in his first two months, but his numbers flatlined after Moody, seen as Bondi’s handpicked successor, entered the race. His committee, “Pledge This Day,” has also struggled and reported goose eggs three months in a row.

Undeterred by the stiff competition, he doubled down with a $750,000 loan to his campaign Friday. In the announcement he took a light jab at Moody, a former circuit court judge, by saying he was “the only conservative and the only candidate who has signed the front of a paycheck.”

“We have over a year until the election and we are just getting started,” he said.

The move may put him at the level with Moody for now, but none of the candidates have posted their full numbers for last month. September campaign finance reports for all Florida candidates are due to the Florida Division of Elections next week.

Mary Barzee Flores touts $300K in Q3, Jose Javier Rodriguez close behind

Two of the major Democrats from the expansive field vying to replace Republican U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in Florida’s 27th Congressional District said they were prepped to release big-time hauls in their third quarter campaign finance reports.

Mary Barzee Flores said Thursday morning her campaign would report about $300,000 raised during the July through September reporting period, while state Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez followed in later in the day touting $280,000.

Both announcements come a day after Miami Beach state Rep. David Richardson said he raised $500,000 for the quarter and would show about $441,000 on hand when the final report is turned in.

But half of Richardson’s money came in through loans, and neither Flores nor Rodriguez indicated they dug into their own pockets Thursday.

Flores, a former circuit court judge, entered the race about five weeks into the reporting period, though her campaign said she was able to connect with “well over 500 individual donors,” more than two thirds of whom hail from with district’s borders in Miami-Dade.

Flores’ campaign also touted the 300-plus small-dollar donors who pitched in, and noted that a third of her contributors were women and that one in ten people who made the donor roll decided to chip in more than once.

“This outpouring of support shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who knows Mary,” said campaign manager Sam Miller. “She’s lived, worked and served in this community her whole life and has a deep well of respect and support as a result. Donors know that Mary will fight for the values of Miami in Congress and have reached in deep to make sure she has the resources to get there.”

Rodriguez’ campaign said their report will show quite a few more names than Flores’ – 1,500 – and will include 1,438 donations of $200 or less, averaging the tally to about $170 per contribution in Q3. Rodriguez said the “immense support” came from “a diverse coalition of local residents who are sick and tired of the political games played in Washington, D.C.”

“Our community’s message is clear; the 27th congressional district is ready to elect a progressive champion with a record of getting things done for South Florida,” he said.

Flores, Rodriguez and Richardson are the top-three contenders for the Democratic nomination in the South Florida seat, and are running in the primary alongside Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, Miami DEC member Michael Hepburn and Mark Anthony Person.

Early on, 2016 Democratic nominee Scott Fuhrman mulled giving the district another go, deciding instead to throw his support behind Richardson, calling him “the kind of Democratic standard-bearer we need in this race right now.”

CD 27 became anyone’s game after Republican U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen announced she would not seek re-election in 2018, which led to a wave of candidate filings.

Republicans in the race include Miami-Dade County Commissioner Bruno Barreiro, former Miami-Dade mayoral candidate and school board member Raquel Regalado and Maria Peiro.

Ashley Moody adds Clay Ingram, Jay Trumbull endorsements

Republican Ashley Moody added a pair of endorsements for her Attorney General campaign Thursday from Panhandle Reps. Clay Ingram and Jay Trumbull.

Moody is a former prosecutor and circuit court judge who stepped down from the bench earlier this year to run for the state’s attorney general post, which is opening up due to Pam Bondi hitting term limits in 2018.

“Northwest Florida has a long history of accomplished leaders in the Florida Legislature and that legacy continues on in the conservative leadership of Representative Ingram and Representative Trumbull,” Moody said. “They’ve led on tough issues and been true advocates for their districts. To have their support means so much to our campaign, and to me personally.”

The endorsements from Ingram and Trumbull add to a long list of GOP backers Moody has amassed since entering the race at the beginning of June, including U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, all five Republicans on the Hillsborough County Commission and the Sheriffs of Brevard, Pasco and Pinellas counties.

Still, the biggest endorsement to date came from Bondi herself.

The second-term attorney general threw her weight behind Moody, a longtime friend, before the ink had a chance to dry on the filing paperwork.

“I’ve known her most of her life,” Bondi told the Tampa Bay Times in June. “I don’t think there could be a more qualified candidate for attorney general in the entire state of Florida. I whole-heartedly support Ashley and I’m proud of her for wanting to sacrifice so much for our state.”

Those early shows of support came despite – or perhaps because of – Jacksonville Rep. Jay Fant’s candidacy.

He and Moody are currently the only two Republicans running to take over for Bondi, and though Fant got off to a strong start with $150,000 raised in his first two months, his numbers flatlined after Moody entered the picture.

He filed a month ahead of Moody and through August had raised almost $180,000 with about $155,000 in the bank. Moody, through the same date, had racked up $756,000 for her campaign and had about $733,000 on hand.

A chunk of that money was even snagged from a fundraiser in Fant’s home turf.

The fifth-generation Floridian and three-time University of Florida alumna also has a political committee, “Friends of Ashley Moody,” which showed $137,500 raised in 10 weeks on its August report.

Third Republican files for open HD 10 seat in 2018

Business owner Marc Vann announced Thursday he would run for the deep-red seat currently held by Republican Rep. Elizabeth Porter, who is termed out of the House.

The Lake City Republican, who co-owns Vann Carpet One, said his campaign will focus on bringing jobs and education reform to the region.

Vann earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Trevecca Nazarene University in 1979 and raised four children with his wife, Sheree. The couple are members of the Lake City Church of the Nazarene, where Vann has served on the board for 35 years.

Sheree has worked as Porter’s district secretary since 2014, and still holds the position according to the Florida House website.

“Giving our children the opportunity to build a future here is one of the greatest family values we can leave as a legacy,” Vann said. “Sheree and I are blessed that our children have been able to make a life here where they grew up, but, unfortunately, for too many families that’s not an option. We have to grow our jobs base here in North Central Florida so our young people aren’t forced to leave this area to find a good job.”

The lifelong Lake City resident also said he would use his office to push back against the court system, which he says pushes a secular agenda that erodes American values.

“We have to constantly keep an eye on government to make sure it doesn’t encroach on our precious freedoms,” he said. “When business owners and families have to spend hours complying with needless paperwork and government regulations, that’s time they could be spending earning a living and enjoying their children.”

Vann joins two other Republicans who are running for the open seat: Chuck Brannan III and Benjamin Leon.

Brannon opened his campaign account in February and kickstarted his bid with a $25,000 loan and $10,000 in fundraising in his first month. Contributions have slowed considerably since then and he sits with about $43,000 on hand, including the loan.

Leon filed a couple days after Brannon, but has filed waivers in lieu of finance reports each month.

House District 10 covers the whole of Baker, Columbia, Hamilton and Suwannee counties as well as a small piece of northwestern Alachua. Outside of the Panhandle, the seat is one of the most reliable strongholds for Republicans in the state House.

The GOP has a four-point advantage over Democrats in voter registrations, but the district has voted much more conservatively on Election Day than the numbers imply. In 2016, President Donald Trump stomped Hillary Clinton in the district with 72 percent of the vote.

Only HD 3 and HD 5 produced more lopsided results.

Matt Caldwell snags endorsement from Matt Gaetz

Republican Rep. Matt Caldwell picked up an endorsement Wednesday for his campaign for agriculture commissioner from former colleague and current U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz.

Gaetz said was backing Caldwell “because he is a consistent conservative.”

The first term congressman represents likely the most conservative U.S. House district in Florida and his endorsement looks to drum up Caldwell’s right-wing bona fides in what is shaping up to be a hard-fought GOP primary in the Cabinet race.

“He has never voted to support things like Obamacare expansion, the Charlie Crist tax increases, and Big Brother-style red light cameras,” Gaetz said. “And, he’s the only candidate in this race who has refused to take public tax dollars to finance his campaign.”

Some of those jabs seem to be directed at Caldwell’s primary opponents: Sen. Denise Grimsley, Paul Paulson and former state Rep. Baxter Troutman — all three of whom are leading him on the fundraising trail.

Caldwell said he was “proud” to get the nod from Gaetz, which his campaign announced Wednesday as a “key endorsement” in the race.

“I worked with Matt in the Florida House and he is not only an exceptional leader but a true, principled conservative. With his support and the support of Floridians across the Sunshine State, I hope to serve the people of the great state of Florida as the next commissioner of agriculture,” Caldwell said.

The four Republicans, as well as Democrat David Walker, are competing to take over for termed-out Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who is running to be Florida governor in 2018.

Keith Perry challenger boasts $73K September haul

One of the two Democrats running for Gainesville-based Senate District 8 showed $73,000 raised in her inaugural campaign finance report, putting her within striking distance of incumbent Republican Sen. Keith Perry’s 10-month total.

Kayser Enneking, MD, filed for SD 8 on Sept. 1 after mulling a run for Florida’s 3rd Congressional District, which is much more favorable to GOP candidates than SD 8.

“I’m honored by the outpouring of support since announcing my candidacy less than a month ago. Voters are ready for a leader who understands the importance of access to health care and public education. We need thoughtful solutions in Tallahassee. The legislature should be working on problems faced by their constituents not the issues of special interests. Our campaign is about giving a voice to every family and making Tallahassee finally work for us,” Enneking said.

Enneking’s first report is not yet available through the Florida Division of Elections, but her campaign touted the $72,900 haul, as well as Enneking’s Gainesville roots in a Wednesday email.

The press release describes Enneking, a physician at UF Health, as a lifelong local and “a product of Gainesville public schools” who decided to launch her first campaign for elected office “because she is concerned with the direction of our current legislators.”

Among her gripes with Perry, who spent six years in the House and was elected to the Senate last year, is his no-vote on Medicaid expansion.

“This important program funds care for pregnant women and children. It supports rural hospitals and nursing homes. It drives job creation in Senate District 8. It is a travesty that Florida missed out on 5.9 billion dollars in funding in 2016 by not expanding Medicaid.”

The press release also made sure to poke at Perry’s fundraising numbers by pointing out Enneking’s haul bests his efforts over the last six months combined.

Perry hasn’t put out his September numbers yet, but through the end of August he had raised about $108,000 since filing for re-election in December, and much of that money came from early in the year. He has about $100,000 of that money on hand.

Perry will also have to pause his fundraising efforts during the 2018 Legislative Session, which will give his challengers another 60 days to catch up.

SD 8 was drawn to be more favorable to Democratic candidates as part of the court-ordered rebalancing of the districts last year.

Despite containing nearly 30,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans, Perry won by 4 points against former Democratic Sen. Rod Smith in one of the more hotly contested – and expensive – races in 2016.

President Donald Trump was also able to take the district, though his win came by only fractions of a point.

Enneking does face a primary opponent in Olysha Magruder, though she has not been able to jump start her fundraising efforts since filing in June. Through the end of August Magruder had raised about $2,900 and had most of that money on hand.

David Richardson’s congressional campaign has $500K third-quarter haul

State Rep. David Richardson announced Wednesday that he will report raising over $500,000 for his bid in Florida’s 27th Congressional District in the third quarter, his first since filing.

More than 90 percent of the 2,400-plus donors who contributed to the Miami Beach Democrat last quarter gave less than $200 dollars. The campaign added small-dollar donors who pitched in $25 or less made up 80 percent of the take from July through September.

“I’m honored to have received such tremendous support from a broad spectrum of Democrats. I’m especially pleased that we have been able to touch grassroots supporters and progressive activists so early in the race,” Richardson said. “In just 82 days our supporters came out when we needed them most in order to help us demonstrate strength in our critical first fundraising quarter.”

The biggest donor in those first 82 days was Richardson himself, who loaned his campaign $250,000. The successful accountant has loaned his past campaigns money and, unlike some other candidates, has demonstrated a willingness to spend those dollars.

Richardson is running to replace longtime Republican U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who announced earlier this year she would not seek re-election in 2018.

Her decision led to a wave of candidates filing for the race, including seven Democrats.

Final reports for the third quarter aren’t due to the Federal Elections Commission until Oct. 15 and none of Richardson’s primary opponents, chief among them state Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, have released information on their fundraising efforts.

While Richardson’s own report is not quite finalized, his campaign estimated he will report about $441,000 cash on hand.

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