Drew Wilson – Page 5 – Florida Politics

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.

Ed Hooper edges out Amanda Murphy in May fundraising

Clearwater Republican Ed Hooper narrowly outraised New Port Richey Democrat Amanda Murphy in her first month running for Senate District 16.

Hooper raised $43,575 in hard money and tacked on another $24,590 through his committee, Friends of Ed Hooper, for a total of $68,165 raised in May.

After about $12,000 in spending, Hooper’s accounts ended the month with a combined $412,760 in the bank.

As previously reported, Murphy brought in $50,000 last month through a political committee established during her time in the Florida House. She has since reported $11,240 in campaign fundraising and another $5,000 raised through a newly formed political committee, Working Towards Florida’s Future.

Those three reports combined show $66,240 raised in May. None of the accounts reported any spending, so that entire balance was in the bank on June 1.

Both candidates showed several recognizable donors on their reports, including some substantial contributions from current lawmakers.

The Friends of Ed Hooper ledger showed a $10,000 check from a committee tied to Wauchula Republican Rep. Ben Albritton, who is running for SD 26 in the fall. Anheuser-Busch distributor Great Bay Distributors chipped in $5,000, followed by a $2,000 check from red-light camera company American Traffic Solutions.

Hooper’s campaign account received 30 checks for $1,000, the maximum donation for a state legislative race. Disney and its subsidiaries were the sources of four, while Florida East Coast Industries and Great Bay Distributors each gave twice via the main company and an affiliated group. The Sembler family showed up with three checks, one apiece from Brent Sembler, Debbie Sembler and Mel Sembler.

The report for Murphy’s new committee only showed one contribution, a $5,000 check from auto dealer and philanthropist Frank Morsani. He also showed up on the campaign report with a $1,000 contribution, as did political committees tied to newly elected Sen. Lori Berman, Plantation Sen. Lauren Book, Miami Gardens Sen. Oscar Braynon and Ft. Lauderdale Sen. Gary Farmer.

Further down the list was a $250 check from Tampa Democrat Bob Buesing, the 2016 Democratic nominee in neighboring Senate District 18. He recently ended his 2018 bid in that battleground district to clear the way for House Minority Leader Janet Cruz in the primary.

Hooper, who was a member of the Florida House from 2006 through 2014, faces Palm Harbor restaurateur Leo Karruli in the primary. Karruli filed for the seat in February and had pulled in about $18,000 in campaign funds through May 31, including $14,025 in candidate loans. He has $2,660 in the bank.

Murphy, who served in the House from 2013 through 2016, doesn’t have a primary challenger.

SD 16 covers northern Pinellas and southwestern Pasco counties. The seat has a Republican edge — it voted plus-12 for Trump in 2016 — but Florida Democrats are hoping Murphy, who has a history of outperforming expectations in red-leaning seats, can turn it into a “swing seat.”

A recent poll of the November contest backs that up. It found Murphy with a slim lead over Hooper, partly due to nearly a fifth of Republicans saying they would cast a vote for her.

Adam Putnam

Adam Putnam crosses $30M in ‘actual’ fundraising

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is still the champ when it comes to fundraising.

In a Monday email, Putnam’s gubernatorial campaign said it and an affiliated political committee brought in more than $1.73 million in “actual contributions” last month.

“In May, Team Putnam surpassed more than $30 million in contributions from supporters to date. Unlike our opponent, our total doesn’t include transfers and fuzzy math. This significant milestone symbolizes both the financial and grassroots momentum behind Adam Putnam as Florida’s candidate for governor,” said campaign spokesperson Meredith Beatrice.

That jab was aimed at Northeast Florida U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, who is running against Putnam in the Republican primary for Governor.

Last week, DeSantis announced that his campaign and committee accounts “took in more than $3 million” in May. While technically true, more than $1 million of those funds was old money came transferred in from Ron DeSantis for Florida, the principal campaign committee for his now-defunct re-election bid for Florida’s 6th Congressional District.

Putnam’s May reports contain no such surprises — the campaign said it will show $441,674 in contributions in its report, while the already viewable report for the Florida Grown committee shows nearly $1.29 million raised, none of it from transfers.

The committee effort netted four six-figure checks, including $250,000 from the Florida Chamber of Commerce, $200,000 from a committee tied to the Associated Industries of Florida, and $100,000 apiece from the Florida Retail Federation and an Arcadia-based land management company.

To date, Putnam has raised $30.61 million between the two accounts. That’s nearly triple the $10.8 million DeSantis has raised or transferred in.

When it comes to cash on hand, Florida Grown finished May with nearly $11.7 million on hand. The new campaign report is not yet viewable on the Florida Division of Elections website, though it had more than $4 million banked on April 30

The primary election is Aug. 28.

Jeff Brandes adds $187K for re-election, Carrie Pilon sputters

St. Petersburg Republican Jeff Brandes recorded another six-figure haul in his Senate District 24 re-election bid, while Democratic challenger Carrie Pilon saw a massive drop-off in fundraising in only her second month on the trail.

In a Monday press release, the Brandes campaign celebrated raising nearly $187,000 in May, the third month in a row recording a six-figure haul.

“I am truly grateful for the amount of support our campaign continues to receive each and every day,” Brandes said in a press release. “It’s a testament to the level of excitement for our message and what we want to accomplish for our community and our state. I look forward to continuing to take our message to the voters.”

The Pilon campaign stayed quiet about their comparatively meager haul, a stark change from a month ago when the first-time candidate and her team were loud and proud about their slim April fundraising win.

The trial lawyer indeed outraised Brandes by a few thousand dollars in her inaugurals, but her May reports measure in at a quarter the size of her April ones — $26,680 for her campaign and zilch for her committee, Moving Pinellas Forward.

That brings Pilon to about $131,000 raised and $124,000 on hand 60 days into her campaign.

Brandes’ campaign report wasn’t viewable via the Florida Division of Elections Monday afternoon, though his committee, Liberty Florida, reported receiving $143,000 in its new report.

Heritage Property & Casualty Insurance Company topped the committee report with a $25,000 check. The Florida Chamber of Commerce showed up with a $15,000 check, followed by Duke Energy and Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson’s Jobs for Florida political committee at $10,000 apiece.

Brandes’ release didn’t mention his overall on hand total. However, Liberty Florida entered June with $237,743 in the bank. By the end of April, the campaign account had $457,782 on hand.

On April 30, Brandes had $568,000 on hand compared to $102,000 for Pilon. Depending on how much his campaign spent, that $450,000-plus cash advantage could balloon well past $600,000.

Janet Cruz and Dana Young, SD 18

Dana Young more than doubles Janet Cruz in May fundraising

House Minority Leader Janet Cruz boasted a $78,975 haul in her second set of fundraising reports since entering the Senate District 18 race but was again overshadowed by Republican Sen. Dana Young, whose reports show $203,550 raised.

“I’m so energized by the outpouring of support and investment in the most flippable seat in the state. We are going to win this so we can pay teachers what they deserve, invest in our schools, expand access to healthcare, and stand up to the gun lobby in Tallahassee,” Cruz said Monday.

Her tally included $48,000 raised via her committee, Building the Bay PC, and $30,975 raised for campaign account. She has now raised $364,670 between the two accounts, including committee funds she raised before filing for SD 18 April 10.

Cruz’s fundraising reports are not yet viewable on the Florida Division of Elections website, though the campaign press release said the two accounts had a combined $341,113 at the ready heading into June.

Young’s haul included $179,500 in fundraising for her affiliated committee, Friends of Dana Young, and another in hard money fundraising 24,050.

OD-EYEPAC sat atop the committee report with a $25,000 contribution. Following at the $15,000 level was Comcast Corporation, Realtors Political Advocacy Committee, Eli Global CEO Greg Lindberg, the Florida Medical Association, Disney Worldwide Services and Floridians for a Stronger Democracy, a political committee linked to the Associated Industries of Florida.

The campaign report included nearly two dozen checks for $1,000, the maximum allowable contribution for state legislative races. It also showed more than $50,000 worth of “in-kind” contributions from the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, most of it paying for campaign staff.

After $82,720 in combined spending, Young had $933,000 on hand in her committee account and another $288,000 banked for the campaign, giving her well over triple the cash on hand of Cruz.

Neither Young nor Cruz faces a primary challenger in the race. The election is Nov. 6.

Polk County delegation piles on the campaign cash in May

The five lawmakers representing a piece of Polk County in the Florida House continued cruising toward Election Day with more than $90,000 in combined campaign fundraising.

Winter Haven Republican Rep. Sam Killebrew had the strongest May fundraising report of the five members of the Polk delegation, all of whom are Republicans.

The House District 41 lawmaker added $35,525 in contributions and spent just $2,395, leaving him with $80,790 in the bank as he runs for a second term against Democratic challengers Carmelo Garcia and Alex Perkins.

Garcia, who filed May 26, posted a waiver for the brief period he was a candidate last month, while Perkins hasn’t reported raising a dime since filing for the Republican stronghold in February.

Over in House District 56, term-limited Wauchula Rep. Ben Albritton showed $24,450 in new money for his campaign to succeed exiting Republican Sen. Denise Grimsley, who is running for Agriculture Commissioner in the fall.

The report, his best since October, brings his fundraising total to $172,050 with $105,646 banked. His opponent in the Senate District 26 race, Democrat Catherine Price, had raised just under $17,000 for her campaign through the end of April and had $14,263 on hand.

The gulf in fundraising between Albritton in Price is even wider when committee money is included in the tally —Albritton has another $175,000 on hand in Advancing Florida Agriculture, including $11,000 raised in May.

Taking the No. 3 spot on the Polk delegation list was Lakeland Republican Rep. Colleen Burton, who received $19,150 in campaign contributions for her House District 40 re-election bid.

Burton, currently in her second term, has now raised nearly $135,000 for the 2018 election cycle. After $7,666 in May spending, she has $88,080 banked.

Her lone opponent is Democrat Shandale Terrell, who showed $250 raised in May. Since filing for the seat in November 2016, Terrell has raised about $3,200 and had $2,330 in the bank heading into June.

St. Cloud Rep. Mike La Rosa, who represents a piece of western Polk, was $50 shy of the $10,000 mark in his May report. The third-term HD 42 lawmaker’s $9,950 in fundraising was almost completely wiped out by $9,843 in spending, leaving him with $66,765 in his campaign account on May 31.

His main opponent, Democrat Barbary Cady, hasn’t posted her May numbers yet, though she had raised a not insignificant $32,000 through the end of April with $20,175 on hand.

Also running are Republican Bienvenido Valentin and unaffiliated candidate Lonzell Ivory, neither of whom have gained traction in the money race.

The final member of the Polk delegation is also the newest member of the Florida House: Polk City Rep. Josie Tomkow.

In her first campaign finance report since winning the special election to replace former Rep. Neil Combee in House District 39, Tomkow showed $2,220 in contributions.

The small haul isn’t anything to worry about — no other candidates have filed for the seat and it’s unlikely another Republican files to challenge her before the end of the candidate qualifying period on June 22. If a Democratic candidate were to enter the fray HD 39 already proven to be a safe fortress to ride out “blue wave.”

Melissa Howard HD 73

Melissa Howard raises more than $20K in May

Sarasota Republican Melissa Howard raised more than $20,000 last month for her bid to replace exiting Rep. Joe Gruters in House District 73.

Howard raised $10,550 through her campaign account and raised another $10,000 through her affiliated political committee, Citizens for Transparency in Government.

The campaign haul came in via 26 contributions, including five for the maximum allowable donation of $1,000. Those donors included Johnny Budslick, Lisa Budslick, Mary Gratehouse and Pamela Hughes, all of whom made the host committee for Howard’s upcoming fundraiser in Sarasota.

The committee money came in through two $5,000 contributions, one apiece from Myakka City agribusiness man John Falkner and Sarasota retiree James Frauenberg.

The two accounts spent a combined $14,192 last month, including more than $8,500 in payments to Clearwater-based Direct Mail Systems and $1,325 to the Coates Law Firm for legal services. Howard started June with more than $130,000 at the ready, including $100,000 in loans she used to kickstart her campaign in April.

Howard faces fellow Republican Tommy Gregory in the Aug. 28 Republican Primary.

HD 73 is open due to current Gruters’ decision to run for the Senate seat currently held by Sarasota Republican Sen. Greg Steube, who is running for Congress. Gruters is Howard’s campaign treasurer.

Democrat Liv Coleman is also running for the seat, though Gruters’ replacement is likely to come out of the Republican Primary — GOP voters make up nearly half of the HD 73 electorate compared to a 25 percent share for Democrats.

Gregory had not filed his May reports as of Monday afternoon, though as of April 30 he had $85,000 banked in his political committee, Friends of Tommy Gregory, and another $56,000 in the bank for his campaign account. His campaign total includes $25,000 in self-funding.

Rebekah Bydlak has over $100K on hand for HD 1 bid

Rebekah Bydlak has a bundle of cash on in the bank a couple months out from her primary showdown against former Republican Rep. Mike Hill in House District 1.

The Gonzalez Republican added about $18,500 to her campaign account last month — her best tally since August 2017— and spent just $2,350, leaving her with more than $112,000 at the ready heading into June.

The May finance report listed nearly 50 contributions, including a dozen for the primary campaign maximum of $1,000. A good chunk of those funds came in on May 8, the day current HD 1 Rep. Clay Ingram helped boost Bydlak’s campaign by hosting a fundraiser for her at his Pensacola home.

He has since endorsed Bydlak as his successor in the Northwest Florida district.

Topping the report were lobbying firms Floridian Partners and Floridian Partners, Southern Strategy Group lobbyist Paul Mitchell and a trio of political committees chaired by William S. JonesFight for Florida, Florida Strong and Freedom First Committee.

Spending included a $1,000 check to Gainesville-based Data Targeting Research, $870 in reimbursements for campaign expenses, $350 for accounting work. The rest of the spending was credit card processing fees paid to fundraising platform Anedot.

Hill has not yet posted his May finance report, though he finished April with nearly $37,000 in total fundraising and about $19,000 on hand.

Also running for the seat are Democrats Vikki Garrett and Franscine Cecilia Mathis, though HD 1’s Republican lean will give the winner of the Aug. 28 primary contest between Bydlak and Hill a near insurmountable advantage in November.

Garrett finished last month with about $6,860 in her campaign account while Mathis, who entered the race May 22, has not yet filed her first report.

Ray Pilon hosting ‘evening out with friends’ Tuesday

Sarasota Republican Ray Pilon is holding an event for his House District 72 comeback bid Tuesday night, but it isn’t fundraiser per se.

“June 12th is right around the corner and I firmly believe celebrations are better with friends. Please join us as we mingle and discuss our steps for taking District 72 back,” Pilon said in a campaign email. “The only commitment is your support by showing up. If you want to invest into the campaign, your donation is welcomed but not required. Grab your friends and make it an evening out.”

The “evening out” will be held at the Clark Road location of Gecko’s Grill & Pub starting at 5:30 pm, and proprietor Mike Quillan is marked down as the host on the event invite.

Joining him on the host committee are former Senate President John McKay, St. Petersburg Sen. Jeff Brandes, former Sen. Lisa Carlton, Sarasota Rep. Jeff Gruters and a long list of local business owners and Republican Party of Sarasota officials.

Pilon represented HD 72 until 2014, when he gave up the seat to run for state Senate. The seat is now held by Democratic Rep. Margaret Good, who flipped the seat in a special election earlier this year.

Pilon will have to get by new filer Jason Miller in the Republican primary before he can get a crack at Good, who has built up a hefty re-election fund since filing for re-election.

As of April 30, she had $78,500 banked in her campaign account while Pilon had about $15,000 on hand. Miller has not had to file a fundraising report since entering the race on June 5.

Pilon’s invitation is below.

Ray Pilon Fundraiser 6.12.2018

Former Polk County sheriff backs Neil Combee for CD 15

Auburndale Republican Neil Combee has added another Polk County backer in his campaign to succeed retiring U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross in Florida’s 15th Congressional District.

Former Polk County Sheriff Lawrence Crow on Monday joined a dozen other current and former Polk County officials in endorsing Combee, a former state representative and Polk County commissioner.

“I’ve known and worked with the Combee family for decades having served with Neil’s father in the Lakeland Police force. I can say without a doubt, Neil Combee has the honesty and integrity to represent the values of the hard working people of this Congressional district. As a former Sheriff I trust Neil Combee to uphold the Constitution, respect our sworn law enforcement officers and keep the United States a place where the rule of law matters,” said Crow, who served as Polk Sheriff from 1987 until his retirement in 2005.

Crow’s endorsement is the 21st for the Combee campaign since he announced his CD 15 run in mid-April. In addition to the dozen Polk County nods, Combee has picked up a handful of endorsements from Hillsborough County and Lake County elected officials.

“I’m proud to have this endorsement from Fmr. Sheriff Crow. It is humbling to have the support of several law enforcement leaders in the district, and I will work everyday in Washington to make sure they have the support they need to successfully protect and defend us,” Combee said.

Combee faces Dover state Rep. Ross SpanoSean HarperDanny KushmerCurt Rogers and Ed Shoemaker in the Republican Primary. Also running for the seat are Democrats Kristen CarlsonAndrew Learned and Ray Pena as well as three write-in candidates.

A poll from late last month showed Spano leading Combee in the crowded primary 29-23 with one third undecided. None of the other Republican candidates cracked 5 percent support in that poll.

About half of CD 15’s Republican voters live in Hillsborough County and another two-fifths live in Polk while a small slice lives in Lake County. The district is rated “likely Republican” by Sabato’s Crystal Ball, the prediction newsletter from University of Virginia political science professor Larry Sabato.

Anna Eskamani

Anna Eskamani has more than $200K banked for HD 47 bid

Orlando Democrat Anna Eskamani now has more than $200,000 at the ready for her campaign to flip House District 47 blue.

Eskamani raised $21,850 for her campaign account last month and added another $500 through her political committee, People Power for Florida. Those totals bring her overall fundraising to more than $272,000 with $203,645 of that sum on hand.

The campaign funds came in across more than 300 contributions. More than 250 of those contributions were from small-dollar donors who pitched in $50 or less. However, Eskamani also pulled in 11 checks for $1,000, the maximum allowable contribution for state legislative candidates.

Those donors included CED Companies head Alan Ginsburg, attorney Michael Maher, OCI Consulting Engineers CEO Amir Kazeminia, art dealer Dennis DeVona, and political committees tied to the Florida Justice Association and Planned Parenthood. Eskamani is an executive with Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida.

People Power for Florida’s lone contribution came in from Brian Henties, the director of corporate sponsorships at Valencia College.

May spending totaled $5,650, half of which paid for campaign staff. The report also showed a $1,000 printing job with Orlando-based Print Meisters, $415 to Credo Conduit for rent, $320 to Democratic voter data group NGP VAN and $250 to campaign support platform You Should Run.

In all, Eskamani has raised $244,322 for her campaign account and had $178,493 in the bank heading into June, while the committee has raised $28,251 to date and has $25,151 on hand.

Also running for the north-central Orange County district is a pair of Republicans — Orlando attorney Mikaela Nix and Winter Park businessman Stockton Reeves, though neither had filed their May campaign finance reports as of Monday morning.

As of April 30, Reeves had raised $25,770 and kicked in another $94,700 in candidate loans. He has $105,584 on hand. Through the same date, Nix had raised $39,974 and loaned her campaign $2,600. She has $38,083.

HD 47 is currently held by Republican Rep. Mike Miller, who is running in a three-way Republican primary for Florida’s 7th Congressional District.

The seat has a slim Democratic advantage in voter registrations and it was held by current Democratic Sen. Linda Stuart before Miller edged her out by four points in the 2014 cycle. He followed that up with a 6-point win over Democrat Beth Tuura in 2016, when the seat voted plus-11 for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

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