Drew Wilson, Author at Florida Politics - Page 4 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.

Scientists blame northern inflows for current Lake O algae bloom

Scientists working for the South Florida Water Management District presented findings Thursday pointing to inflows north of Lake Okeechobee as the source of nutrients causing recent algae blooms in the lake.

The results show runoff from north of the lake, due to high rain levels and the warm temperature, was the principal cause of the bloom.

The nutrient-rich inflows from Taylor Creek, Kissimmee River, Nubbin Slough, Indian Prairie and Fisheating Creek had chlorophyll levels above the 40 micrograms per liter threshold which indicate algae, with one station in the northern section of the lake measuring in at over 100 micrograms per liter.

Everglades Agricultural Area Farmers, a group representing mainly sugar farmers south of the lake, saw the report as vindication for what they have been telling state lawmakers all along: sugar isn’t the problem, and southern storage isn’t the solution.

“We are seeing the result of what we warned about during session: environmental special interest groups and Senate leaders spent all of their time and energy pushing a myopic plan focused solely on southern storage to put a band aid on a symptom rather than addressing the problem at the source,” EAA spokeswoman Danielle Alvarez said. “And now we’re seeing that algae in the lake remains a problem in a year when water volume and estuary discharges aren’t a problem.”

One slide in the presentation even shows a clear north-to-south progression in algal blooms, with pockets starting to form along the northern coast of Lake Okeechobee June 30, and spreading southward through the end of July.

Water storage south of Lake Okeechobee was one of Senate President Joe Negron’s major legislative priorities in 2017, and he managed to push through the controversial $1.5 billion plan in the closing days of Session.

The legislature didn’t manage to pass any bills focusing on other causes of algal blooms, such as a plan backed by Gov. Rick Scott that would have put $40 million toward converting septic tanks to sewer along the Indian River Lagoon and Caloosahatchee River.

South Florida farmers have cut their phosphorus levels by 70 percent in the past year, and EAA said it’s time for lawmakers to do their part by tackling the problem at the source with a northern water storage and treatment plan.

Retailers expect record breaking sales during back-to-school tax holiday

The Florida Retail Federation expects Sunshine State stores to make a bundle during the back-to-school sales tax holiday in August.

A survey conducted by FRF’s parent organization, the National Retail Federation, estimates U.S. retailers will pull in a total of $83.6 billion in revenue during the tax-free holidays in Florida and other states.

NRF also said families with children in K-12 schools will spend nearly $30 billion of that total with the average family shelling out $687.72, an increase of 8 percent over the 2016 average.

“We are looking forward to another successful Back-to-School Sales Tax Holiday, and applaud Governor Scott and the Legislature for recognizing the significance it has on our hardworking families and the 270,000 retailers throughout the State of Florida,” said FRF President and CEO R. Scott Shalley in a news release. “Each year, shoppers show up in record numbers and provide a tremendous economic boost overall to retailers’ sales numbers while they are able to afford more of the supplies they need.”

Florida’s back-to-school tax-free weekend will run from Aug. 4 through Aug. 6 and will include most school supplies $15 or less, clothing, shoes and accessories under $60 and computers and related accessories under $750. More information on qualifying items is available from the Florida Department of Revenue.

NRF expects retailers nationwide to sell $10.2 billion in clothing, $8.8 billion in electronics, $5.6 billion in shoes, and $4.9 billion in school supplies such as pens, pencils, backpacks and lunchboxes.

Overall, school supplies look to be the most popular purchase, with 97 percent of consumers saying they are on their shopping list. More than nine out of 10 shoppers also plan to purchase clothes and shoes, while 60 percent of those polled said they would purchase electronics.

Of those browsing for electronics, nearly half said they were looking to purchase a laptop, while a little over a third said they planned to purchase a tablet or a calculator, and about a quarter said they would pick up accessories such as a mouse or flash drive.

Parents also said they would spread out their purchases across a wide variety of stores. Department stores will get a sale from 57 percent of shoppers, followed by discount stores at 54 percent, and clothing stores and online retailers at 46 percent a piece. About a third of shoppers said they would swing buy office supply stores such as OfficeMax or Office Depot to pick up school supplies.

Political committee attacks Florida Republicans in new ad campaign

A liberal political committee put out digital ads this week painting the GOP as dysfunctional after Senate Republicans failed to pass a “skinny repeal” of the Affordable Care Act.

American Bridge said it would run the ads in four states, including Florida, and will focus on targeting swing voters through social media.

“The Republican Congress isn’t working. It’s time for new leadership in Washington,” the ad reads.

The ads lead to a signup page asking viewers to add their name to a list of people who “demand new leadership in Washington.”

“Every Republican in Washington should be ashamed for spending the better part of 2017 pushing a plan to gut health care for the middle class in order to cut taxes for the rich,” the page reads.

American Bridge Vice President Shripal Shah said in a press release announcing the ads that D.C. Republicans “are mired in dysfunction, unable deliver on their campaign promises and beholden to a toxic legislative agenda. They are offering the country chaos when we need competence.”

“Kicking millions off of their insurance in order to cut taxes for the rich was a recipe for disaster from the start, and in the aftermath of last night’s failure, we’re going to hold Republicans accountable. Their failures underscore the need for new leadership in Washington that will work in a bipartisan fashion to address the country’s challenges,” he continued.

Senate Republicans were primed to pass healthcare legislation Thursday night, but Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain joined 48 Senate Democrats and longtime Republican holdouts Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Sen. Susan Collins in voting down the repeal bill.

An example of the ad running against Florida Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo is below:

Jack Latvala now has $3.84 mil on hand for possible 2018 run

Senate Appropriations Chair Jack Latvala has $3.84 million in the bank two weeks before he plans to announce whether or not he will run for Florida governor.

Latvala’s fundraising arm, “Florida Leadership Committee,” will report it raised $336,000 in July. Contribution records on the committee website run through July 27 and show $255,000 raised, meaning the Clearwater Republican brought in more than $100,000 in the final days of the month.

Latvala is waiting until Aug. 16 to formally announce whether he will run for governor, and hasn’t budged from the planned reveal.

“Everything is coming along according to plan,” he said.

His current cash on hand puts him slightly ahead of House Speaker Richard Corcoran, whose political committee just announced it has raised almost $3 million to date. Corcoran will decide on his 2018 plans after the next legislative session.

Top contributions to FLC in July include $50,000 from Destin-based Sterling Diversified, $25,000 from helicopter training outfit Vestcor Companies and another $25,000 from the FBTA Transportation PAC.

FLC also had at least seven donors at the $10,000 level: The Wilbur C. Smith Law Firm, JM Family Enterprises, Disney Worldwide Services, Jacksonville Kennel Club, the Florida Hospital Association, ChiroPAC and Creating Possibilities, a political committee chaired by longtime Latvala ally and former Republican Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff.

Latvala’s committee also spent about $68,000 in July, with another $50,000 heading out in the first two days of August. Most of that money is going to consultanting researchers, a necessity for any successful statewide campaign.

Palm Harbor-based Tel Opinion Research picked up $20,000 for research, Champion Consulting was paid more than $16,000 to help with political strategy and  Jacksonville-based Whitson Group got a $10,000 check for research.

Matt Spritz HD 89 Republican candidate

Matt Spritz crosses six-figure fundraising mark in HD 89 race

Republican House District 89 candidate Matt Spritz announced his campaign had brought in more than $100,000 since he filed for the seat in late June.

Spritz’s July campaign finance report isn’t available online yet, but he said in a Wednesday news release that 124 donors have contributed over $78,000 to his campaign since he filed on June 26. The Boca Raton Republican also touted $35,000 in money raised through his committee, “Invest in Florida,” over the same span.

Spritz kicked off his campaign with a $40,000 loan and raised an additional $5,300 during the last five days of June, so his July report will likely show $33,000 in contributions.

“I am very excited by the early support we have received,” Spritz said. “Though the primary is over a year away, we are working hard to make sure we have the resources to reach voters with our positive message of economic prosperity and principled conservatism. Our campaign will not be outworked.”

While the primary is indeed a year away, Spritz is not yet facing any Republican opposition for the GOP-friendly pocket in Palm Beach County, and announcements celebrating six-figure campaign hauls may be an attempt to keep it that way.

The Emory University and New York University Law School alumnus is one of two candidates running for the seat, which is currently held by term-limited Republican Rep. Bill Hager. His opponent, Democrat Ryan Rossi, filed back in May and had raised about $3,200 through the end of June.

District statistics from 2016 show about 3,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats, and Hager never had much of a problem holding the seat in the three elections since it was redrawn.

Hager won both his 2012 and 2014 re-election campaigns with 53 percent of the vote, while in 2016 his opponent failed to qualify for the ballot, leaving him unopposed for his final term.

Carlos Curbelo draws Democratic challenger

Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo has picked up a challenger in his 2018 re-election campaign in Florida’s 26th Congressional District.

As reported by the Miami Herald, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell has filed to run for the South Florida seat, which the Cook Partisan Voting Index lists as the most Democratic leaning congressional district currently held by a Republican.

The bilingual Democrat ran against Republican state Sen. Anitere Flores in SD 39 last year, and lost by 10 points in what many Florida Democratic Party officials considered a friendly seat, and one in which Hillary Clinton trounced Donald Trump by double digits.

Democrats have put CD 26 at the top of their list for 2018 pointing to metrics that show it has a 6-point lean in their favor.

In 2016, Hillary Clinton won CD 26 by 16 points, but that may be more due to the district’s distaste for Trump than its Democratic lean. During the same cycle, Curbelo defeated former Democratic U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia by 12 points.

Mucarsel-Powell, a native Ecuadorian, said she doesn’t plan to focus her campaign on the goings on in the Trump administration, but took an early shot across the bow in an interview with the Miami Herald by pointing out Curbelo “has voted more than 86 percent of the time with Trump.”

“It’s shocking that the people in Washington are trying to strip health care from millions of Americans,” Mucarsel-Powell said. “The person that I’m running against voted for Trumpcare.”

Mucarsel-Powell said she plans to officially announce her candidacy in a Wednesday press conference.


Direct mail round-up: John Newstreet branded as ‘Osceola Liberal’

An Orlando-based political committee hammered Republican House candidate John Newstreet with a mailer that headed to HD 44 mailboxes this week.

The direct mail campaign attempts to brand the Kissimmee/Osceola County Chamber of Commerce CEO as an “Osceola Liberal” who supports amnesty for illegal immigrants and backs the DREAM Act.

The mailers, sent out by the Jacob Milich-chaired Central Florida Republicans for Truth, are peppered with quotes by Newstreet seemingly supporting an open-door immigration policy.

“With a megaphone in hand, JOHN NEWSTREET addressed a group of pro-amnesty farm workers fighting for Amnesty and the DREAM Act,” the ad reads, before attributing “we’re supportive,” “we’re firendly to you” and “I wish I could say it’s possible” to Newstreet.

One side of the mailer asserts “conservatives cannot trust” the former aide to U.S. Sens. Mel Martinez and Marco Rubio, while the other says he “betrayed our conservative values” and gives him the Trumpian nickname “Lyin’ John Newstreet.”

Newstreet is one of four Republicans running in the special election for HD 44, which opened up after Windermere Republican Rep. Eric Eisnaugle stepped down to become a judge on the Fifth District Court of Appeal.

The mailer is attached below:


Chris King brings on experienced campaigner Josh Romero as new political director

Veteran Democratic operative Joshua Romero has joined Chris King’s gubernatorial campaign as political director and adviser.

Romero most recently worked as Florida Deputy Political Director for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and as field director for President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. He has also held campaign positions with Democrats Bob Poe, Annette Taddeo, and Kendrick Meek.

“I chose a political newcomer over the established names in this race because I believe Chris’s message is what the Democratic Party needs right now to break the one-party GOP rule in Tallahassee,” Romero said.

The former U.S. Marine echoed those sentiments in his email introduction to King’s supporters Friday. After the usual requests for campaign contributions, he told supporters what drew him into the Orlando entrepreneur’s camp.

“I joined this campaign because I believe in Chris’s vision — supporting a homegrown Florida economy, investing in affordable housing, ending discrimination, and so much more,” he wrote.

The hire was praised by Omar Khan, a senior adviser to King, who said he was “thrilled that Florida’s top political talent are responding to Chris’ vision for better days ahead for Florida.”  

King is one of a handful of Democrats who have already entered the race to take over for term-limited Republican Gov. Rick Scott in 2018. So far, his primary challengers are former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.


Richard Corcoran’s committee picks up $100K from an unlikely donor

House Speaker Richard Corcoran has raised more than $200,000 in July, including a $100,000 check from a West Palm Beach law firm with a long history of backing Democrats.

As first reported by POLITICO Florida, Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley PA cut the check to Corcoran’s committee, “Watchdog PAC,” on Wednesday. The personal injury firm has given similarly large contributions in the past, but never to GOP committee.

The Florida Democratic Party has been on the receiving end of three of the five six-figure checks the law firm has handed out in the past, including one for $118,000 last election cycle. Another went to a political committee for trial lawyers, and the fifth went to a committee backing a trial-lawyer approved medical malpractice reform ballot initiative more than a decade ago.

The firm has a similar Democratic tilt in its past contributions to individual candidates, which are limited to much smaller amounts.

Including the mysterious six-figure contribution Watchdog PAC had raised $208,500 through July 26, according to the unofficial tally on the committee’s website. In June, the committee brought in more than $2 million.

Other donors include a $15,000 check from the “Friends of Matt Gaetz” political committee, $15,000 from helicopter training group Vertol Systems Company Inc. and $25,000 from Southeast QSR, a company that operates several fast food franchises.

Bob Cortes announces Aug. 1 campaign kick-off event

Republican Rep. Bob Cortes will officially rev up his 2018 re-election campaign with an Aug. 1 kick-off event at his Altamonte Springs home.

The event is set to run from 5:30 pm to 7 pm and the guest list will feature some of the biggest names in Florida GOP politics.

Among the names on the host committee are House Speaker Richard Corcoran and his successor, HD 110 Rep. Jose Oliva. Altamonte Springs Sen. David Simmons, and at least a half-dozen other Republican representatives will also be in attendance.

Cortes’ district covers parts of Orange and Seminole counties, including Altamonte Springs and Maitland. The former Longwood city commissioner and  mayor is currently running unopposed for his third term in the House.

To attend, send an email to Ashley Albertson or call her at 850-222-8156.

The invitation is below:

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons