Drew Wilson, Author at Florida Politics - Page 5 of 97

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.

Jennifer Webb adds endorsements for HD 69 campaign

Democrat Jennifer Webb announced Wednesday that a handful of local elected officials had endorsed her campaign for House District 69.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman headlined the block endorsement, which also included Pinellas County Commissioner Pat Gerard, and St. Petersburg City Councilmembers Charlie Gerdes and Brandi Gabbard.

“Jennifer has fought for our community and knows our district well. I know what it’s like to take strong stands in Tallahassee and I know Jennifer is the one for the job,” Kriseman said in a press release. “She’ll stand up to the special interests to protect our environment and quality education. She’s the fighter our district needs.”

Gerard said that Webb “has the skills and the temperament to be an outstanding legislator.”

“Her compassion for people and her thoughtful and intelligent nature will make her someone to be proud of. I am happy to support Jennifer Webb because I know she will make all Floridians a priority/”

Gabbard added that Webb was “excited to see an independent, intelligent woman such as Jennifer running to represent Pinellas County in Tallahassee,” while Gerdes said she was “tireless in her commitment to make our community a better place.”

The endorsements come two weeks after Webb announced a long list of community leaders who were supporting her campaign.

Webb is running for the House seat currently held by Republican Rep. Kathleen Peters, who is running for Pinellas County Commission rather than re-election to the House this year. Webb also ran for the seat in the 2016 cycle, but fell short on Election Day.

Webb faces Javier Centonzio in the Democratic Primary for the seat, which covers part of Pinellas including the communities of Redington Beach, Madeira Beach, Treasure Island, South Pasadena and Gulfport.

Jeremy Bailie and Ray Blacklidge are competing for the Republican nomination.

Through the end of January, Blacklidge led all candidates in the fundraising race with $76,714, followed by Webb at $57,951.

Jeremy Matlow

Jeremy Matlow releases first ad for Tallahassee Commission bid

Tallahassee City Commission candidate Jeremy Matlow put out his first ad of the cycle Wednesday, focusing on the living conditions of the city’s southside.

The ad, titled “Trying Times,” follows the story of Dominque Roberts who describes growing up in the area and at times going without food, power or water.

“My mom, she would starve herself just to make sure we had food in our stomachs so we weren’t going to bed hungry,” Roberts says in the three-minute video.

“You can work every day of your life – 40, 50 hours a week – and still not have enough to pay your bills.”

Near the end of the video, Roberts reveals that Matlow is her brother, and that he went through the same struggles.

“He wants to make Tallahassee better. He wants to help the kids that are going through the same things that we’ve gone through,” Roberts said. “He’s here to support us, he’s here to support you, the people who don’t have a voice.”

Matlow is currently running against William Schack and RickMinor for Seat 3 on the commission.

Commission elections are nonpartisan, though Matlow is a lifelong Democrat. He is also the co-founder of several Tallahassee restaurants, including Gaines Street Pies, Warhorse, The Wilbury, and Midtown Pies.

He filed for race in Dec. 2017 and currently leads the field in fundraising with $72,000 raised.

Matlow also has distance from the current problems plaguing city hall, which can’t be said for Minor.

Minor was the Chief of Staff of former Mayor John Marks, who didn’t seek re-election due to a long list of ethics complaints. He also has ties to Scott Maddox, who is now at the center of the FBI probe at City Hall. In the 2016 election cycle Minor withdrew from running for city commission and backed Maddox.

Matlow’s ad is below.

18th annual Florida Lineman Competition kicks off Friday

Florida electric lineworkers are heading to Kissimmee this weekend to compete in the Florida Lineman Competition, where their mettle will be tested in tasks based on real-world scenarios.

The event, put on by the Florida Municipal Electric Association, will be hosted by the Kissimmee Utility Authority at Osceola Heritage Park, 1875 Silver Spur Lane. The event is open to the public and admission and parking are free.

“After the last two hurricane seasons, there is definitely a much deeper appreciation of the work linemen do. The Florida Lineman Competition is a great opportunity for the public to see these lineworkers in action and develop a better understanding of their craft,” said Amy Zubaly, FMEA Executive Director.

The 2018 competition is the 18th in the series, which began in 2001.

Included in the slate are competitions replacing cross arm beams, relocating transformers, and simulation of rescuing an injured lineman.

More experienced lineworkers, or journeymen, will compete in teams of three, while apprentices will compete individually. Lineman are awarded points for speed, but their tally is docked if they skirt safety standards or proper work practices.

Winners will be recognized at a banquet Saturday evening.

The games are set to start at 8 a.m. Saturday. A complete agenda for the event, and registration information for would-be competitors, is available on FMEA’s website.

Senate keeps national accreditation requirement from House opioid bill

The Senate appears to be lining up behind the sole-source continuing education requirements in the opioid bill passed by the House last week, according to a newly-filed amendment.

HB 21 contains a number of provisions aimed at putting a dent in the opioid epidemic, including limits on prescriptions and new reporting requirements to prevent doctor shopping.

Among those new rules is a requirement that every physician authorized to prescribe controlled substances take a continuing ed course on opioids every two years from “a statewide professional association of physicians in this state.”

Some fuss was made over the provision when the House passed the bill last week.

Avon Park Republican Rep. Cary Pigman, who is also a physician, said at the time that the language would force every physician in Florida to take the course from either the Florida Medical Association or the Florida Osteopathic Medical Association.

That same language is still present in a late-filed amendment to the House bill that attempts to bring it more in line with the Senate version.

Fort Myers Republican Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, who filed the amendment, is also the sponsor of the Senate version of the bill.

SB 8 always required the continuing education course, but never required it to be administered by a “statewide professional association.” The bill only required the course to be “board approved.”

All Florida physicians must take continuing education courses to maintain their licenses, but only a handful of the required hours are mandated to cover specific topics, and none are required to be completed through specific vendors.

The Florida Board of Medicine grants CME credit for courses so long as they are accredited by the American Medical Association or the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education.

Many physicians take such courses at no charge through grand rounds presentations hosted by their employer. Many universities also allow physicians in private practice to attend those presentations, or for out-of-town alumni to check in via videoconferencing.

But FMA and FOMA charge for the courses they offer.

Pigman said last week that courses he’s taken through the associations have carried a $100 charge for members and $200 charge for non-members, meaning HB 21 could lead to a significant windfall for FMA and FOMA.

“What we are saying is [the associations] will get revenue of $4.4 million to $8.8 million every two years, which is probably why they support this bill. So when we vote for it with this piece in it, that’s what we are voting for,” he said.

Anthony Bonna

Anthony Bonna appointed to St. Lucie County Commission

Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday appointed Anthony Bonna to the St. Lucie County Commissionseat vacated by former Commissioner Tod Mowery in January.

Mowery resigned the seat on the first of the year over allegations he had an affair with a firefighter’s wife.

Bonna, a 30-year-old Georgetown University alumnus, was appointed to the District 2 seat for a term ending Nov. 13.

In 2016, he ran to be a Republican state committeeman in 2016, beating out William Weber with about 53 percent of the vote.

Bonna is the director of advertising and digital strategy for direct-mail company The Stoneridge Group and is the founder of The Good Help Group, also a direct-mail company. He is also a board member of Big Brothers Big Sisters of St. Lucie, Indian River, and Okeechobee.

In the lead up to the committeeman election Bonna said Scott, then-South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former U.S. Rep. Allen West had all been clients of his at one time.

Bonna is also one of six candidates who’ve filed for District 2, which will be on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.

His candidate statement says he “is passionate about making St. Lucie the best place to live, work, and raise a family. He knows that while government can’t create jobs, it can certainly get in the way of industry creating jobs. His number one focus will be fostering an environment that welcomes good-paying jobs to St. Lucie County.”

He faces fellow Republicans Mark Godwin, Bobby Hopkins, Daniel Kurek and James Taylor, while Sean Mitchell is so far the only Democrat to enter the race.

Mitchell leads the pack in fundraising with $25,690 raised, while Bonna leads the Republican candidates with $8,309 raised, followed by Hopkins with $7,250, Taylor with $4,200, Kurek with $1,900 and Godwin with $1,000.

Email insights: Donna Shalala ‘elitist, disconnected, and delusional’

Former University of Miami President Donna Shalala made her CD 27 run official Tuesday and the GOP seems about as excited as her Democratic opponents according to an email sent out by the Republican National Committee.

“Donna Shalala represents everything Floridians dislike about the Clinton’s – elitist, disconnected, and delusional about the working class and their needs,” RNC spokesperson Taryn Fenske said in an email. “She proved this by leading the Clinton foundation and covering up scandalous international fundraising activities as well as the Clinton family’s lifetime record of corruption.”

The RNC statement echoes the sentiments of some of Shalala’s Democratic Primary rivals, though their concerns have more to do with the former Health and Human Services secretary’s corporate ties than her Clinton connections.

Mary Barzee Flores said last month that Shalala is “compromised” by her ties to health insurers and homebuilders, as well as her treatment of low-wage employees at UM.

But the RNC’s statement kept beating the Hillary Clinton drum – even rolling out President Donald Trump’s nickname for his former adversary.

“Floridians clearly didn’t want Crooked Hillary or her cronies representing us in D.C., and Donna should know the Clinton’s influence, and reign, is officially over,” Fenske said.

Shalala faces Barzee Flores, Matt Haggman, Michael Hepburn, state Rep. David Richardson, state Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, and Miami Beach City Commissioners Kristen Rosen Gonzalez and Ken Russell in the CD27 Democratic Primary.

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Bruno Barreiro and songwriter Angie Chirino are competing for the Republican nomination.

The seat is opening up in 2018 due to the retirement of longtime Republican U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. CD 27 is one of a handful of districts nationwide to simultaneously vote for Clinton and a Republican member of congress in 2016.

Rick Kriseman endorses René Flowers for Pinellas School Board

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman on Tuesday endorsed Pinellas County School Board Chair René Flowers for re-election.

“I have been honored to call René Flowers a friend for many years and I enthusiastically support her re-election to the Pinellas County School Board,” Kriseman said in a press release. “Nobody will fight harder for St. Petersburg and our kids than René.”

Kriseman’s endorsement follows Flowers’ Monday announcement that Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch, St. Petersburg City Council Chair Lisa Wheeler-Bowman and Mt. Zion Primitive Baptist Church Pastor Dr. G. Gregg Murray had endorsed her for a second full term.

“I am extremely grateful to have the endorsement of Mayor Rick Kriseman. The future is bright for public schools and I look forward to continuing the partnership with the City of St. Petersburg under Mayor Kriseman’s leadership,” Flowers said.

Flowers also announced an upcoming campaign fundraiser in the press release, set for 6 p.m. on March 9 at the Iberian Rooster, 475 Central Avenue.

Flowers was first elected to the District 7 board seat in 2012 to serve out the remainder of deceased School Board Member Lew Williams’ term.

She won that election with 77 percent of the vote over Glenton Gilzean, and in 2014 she took 96 percent of the vote against a write-in opponent.

Flowers is currently running against Bilan Joseph and Nicholas Wright in the 2018 contest. A third challenger, Shyla Sams, filed to run for the seat last summer but has since withdrawn.

School board elections are nonpartisan and will be on the Aug. 28 primary election ballot.

Video: John Boehner backs Scott Sturgill for CD 7

Congressional candidate Scott Sturgill and picked up an endorsement from former U.S. House Speaker John Boehner during a March 1 campaign fundraiser.

The ex-politician promised to keep his endorsement short, telling the crowd at the event “as Elizabeth Taylor told her fifth husband, ‘don’t worry honey, I won’t be here long.’”

The former Ohio congressman then outlined his support for Sturgill, who is running for Florida’s 7th Congressional District. The Central Florida seat is currently held by freshman Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, but Republicans are aiming for a flip in the fall.

“Scotty was a big help to me when I was trying to become speaker of the House back in ’09, ’10, and was there during my time as Speaker helping me do what I needed to do to raise money to re-elect a Republican majority,” Boehner said.

“And so, when Scotty and I ran into each other and he told me he was running for Congress, I went ‘WHAT!’”

“I think you had a few other adjectives,” Sturgill joked.

“I’m here tonight because Scotty’s a great guy, and I just want to say this: Elections are won and lost not based on what the polls say, not based on anything else other than who shows up to vote and how they vote,” Boehner said.

Boehner then recounted his longshot first campaign for Congress, and encouraged the crowd to open up their pocket books to give Sturgill a boost in the CD 7 Republican Primary, where he faces state Rep. Mike Miller as well as Patrick Weingart and Vennia Francois.

“The best way for him to win is to clear out the field,” Boehner said. “If he raises enough money, these other people will just go away. So, I would just urge all of you to step up and write the big check, get on with it, cause you’re going to do it sooner or later.”

Also attending the fundraiser were former U.S. Rep. Sandy Adams, Seminole County Republican State Committeewoman Susie Dolan and businessman and philanthropist David Maus.

Sturgill leads his primary opponents in the money race as of the end of 2017. His year-end report showed about $309,000 raised and $266,000 on hand compared to $220,000 raised and $185,000 on hand for Miller. Weingart and Francois have not yet filed their first campaign finance reports.

Murphy leads the overall field with $1.36 million raised and $973,000 on hand. Her primary challenger, Chardo Richardson had $8,700 in the bank at the start of the year.

Video of Boehner’s endorsement is below.

HD 66 candidate Berny Jacques endorsed by EJ Otero

Republican Berny Jacques announced Tuesday that retired Air Force Col. Evelio “EJ” Otero had endorsed his campaign for coastal Pinellas-based House District 66.

Otero led the establishment of the first ever U.S. Command Headquarters in Qatar and at one time was the Chief of Coalition Intelligence at MacDill Air Force Base. In 2012 he was the Republican nominee for Florida’s 14th Congressional District, losing to Democratic U.S. Rep. Cathy Castor on Election Day.

“I’ve had the pleasure to see Berny’s tremendous leadership skills,” Otero said in a press release. “Berny is a strong conservative thinker who is always in tune with issues affecting the community. It is my privilege to support one of the highest caliber individuals running for the Florida House. I respect Berny and I’m proud to encourage voters to unequivocally vote for him.”

Otero joins Seminole City Councilmember Roger Edelman, former Pinellas County School Board Member Glen Gilzean and Largo Commissioner and former police chief John Carroll, among others, in endorsing the St. Petersburg attorney.

“It is truly an honor to have the support of Col. EJ Otero,” Jacques said. “Col. Otero is someone I’ve always admired for his record of leadership in our military, and for his efforts as a grassroots conservative activist in the Tampa Bay Area. I won’t let him down.”

Jacques is competing with Belleair Bluffs businessman Nick DiCeglie for the GOP nomination to succeed term-limited Republican Rep. Larry Ahern.

Also running for the seat are Democrat Alex Heeren and Reform Party candidate Paul Bachmann, though the winner of the Republican Primary has the best odds to win the seat in November given its GOP tilt.

HD 66 covers part of western Pinellas County, including Clearwater, Belleair, Indian Rocks Beach and Indian Shores.

Through the end of January, Jacques was leading the money race with nearly $108,000 on hand between his campaign account and political committee, Protect Pinellas.

DiCeglie, who entered the race six months after Jacques, had about $64,000 on hand through the same date.

Kubs Lalchandani raises $70K in first month of HD 113 campaign

Democrat Kubs Lalchandani has raised nearly $70,000 since entering the House District 113 race on Feb. 1, his campaign said Monday.

“I’m honored by the tremendous outpouring of support from so many who believe in my path to change Tallahassee. The Republican leadership in the Florida House continue to leave families behind and their efforts to undermine our public schools and environment must be challenged,” Lalchandani said in a press release.

“The future is here in so many other sectors of our society – it’s time our government reflected it with innovative policies that put people first and help them get ahead. Our leaders should be serving their constituents and working towards improving their lives. It’s time to break the mold, and we’re only getting started.”

Lalchandani is an alumnus of Cornell Law School and served as a clerk under Federal District Court Judge Patricia Seitz before entering private practice at international law firm White & Case. He eventually opened his current firm, Lalchandani Simon PL, which specializes in helping businesses use technology to grow their bottom line.

The candidate’s full report is not yet available through the Florida Division of Elections, though his campaign said it received contributions from 220 individual donors, which it said was “a sign of the things to come.”

The campaign also poked at Democratic Primary opponent Deede Weithorn, who had not yet hit the $70,000 milestone despite having a seven-month head start in the race.

Weithorn, a former member of the Miami Beach City Commission, had not filed her February campaign finance report as of Monday evening, though through January she had raised nearly $54,000 and had about $29,000 cash on hand.

Though she possibly lags behind in the fundraising race, Weithorn has pulled down a stack of local endorsements toward the end of 2017, including nods from Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber and commissioners Michael Gongora, Mark Samuelian, and Micky Steinberg.

Lalchandani and Weithorn are currently the only candidates vying for HD 113, a Democratic stronghold that covers southeastern Miami-Dade, including Miami Beach and North Bay Village.

The seat is opening up in 2018 due to Democratic Rep. David Richardson’s decision to run for Florida’s 27th Congressional District, which is currently held by retiring Republican U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

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