Drew Wilson, Author at Florida Politics - Page 7 of 174

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.

Amanda Murphy holds slim lead over Ed Hooper in new SD 16 poll

Former Republican Rep. Ed Hooper may hold a considerable lead in fundraising, but a new poll shows former Democratic Rep. Amanda Murphy with the advantage among Senate District 16 voters.

The new poll, conducted July 29 through Aug. 2 by SEA Polling & Strategic Design, found Murphy with 41 percent support among likely voters with Hooper coming in 2 points behind at 39 percent.

As with past polls of SD 16, the small difference between Murphy and Hooper falls within the poll’s margin of error.

As the polling memo notes: “Amanda Murphy holds a two-point lead despite significant spending on Hooper’s behalf throughout July and early August. Two public polls conducted by St. Pete Polls showed Murphy leading or in a dead-heat with Ed Hooper which set off fire alarms in the Senate Majority office and likely led to Hooper’s midsummer panic spending.”

Indeed, Hooper has spent a considerable amount of cash in the past several weeks, though he certainly has the campaign funds to do so.

As of July 27, his campaign and committee accounts have brought in nearly $660,000 and had $492,647 at the ready. Murphy, meanwhile, has raised $103,625 between her campaign and committee accounts, with a combined $86,763 on hand at the end of the reporting period.

Murphy is the lone Democratic candidate running for SD 16, while Hooper faces a light challenge from Palm Harbor restaurateur Leo Karruli in the Aug. 28 Republican primary.

SD 16 covers northern Pinellas and southwestern Pasco counties. The seat has a Republican edge — it voted plus-12 for Donald Trump in 2016 and was held by Clearwater Republican Jack Latvala until he resigned the seat in early January.

The SEA poll took responses from 350 registered voters living in SD 16. It was conducted by live operators, with 40 percent of the responses coming in from cellphones. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.23 percentage points.

Steve Cona

Carlos López-Cantera backs Steve Cona for Hillsborough School Board

Steve Cona’s campaign for a seat on the Hillsborough County School board got a boost Monday by way of an endorsement from Lt. Gov. Carlos López-Cantera.

“Steve’s passion for education and the students of Hillsborough County is known statewide, and I’m proud to endorse him for the school board, District 1 seat,” López-Cantera said. “I’ve been impressed with his work to popularize both college and career tracks for students through the creation of Build Tampa Bay, and look forward to seeing him bring his expertise and know-how to improve Hillsborough County Public Schools for the next generation.”

Cona, the president and CEO of the Associated Builders and Contractors Florida Gulf Coast Chapter, is also an executive officer at Build Tampa Bay, a foundation established to encourage high school students to explore careers in the construction industry.

“I’m humbled to receive an endorsement from one of Florida’s most esteemed leaders,” Cona said. “As a father of two kids, both in the public school system, I have seen the work that needs to be done in our school district. We can always do more to ensure our students go from learners to earners and look forward to working with leaders like the Lieutenant Governor to improve our local public schools.”

Though School Board races are nonpartisan, Cona is a Republican who once ran for Hillsborough County Commission. His two major endorsements so far, however, have shown an ability to draw support from both sides of the political spectrum — López-Cantera, a Republican, follows Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, a Democrat, in backing the businessman’s bid.

Cona faces Gil Machin and William Person in the race for District 1, which will be on the 2018 ballot due to current School Board member Susan Valdes opting to run for House District 62 rather than finish out her term.

Person, a retired school district administrator, moved his campaign over from the District 6 race. He ran for the District 1 seat two years ago and came within 267 votes of defeating Valdes. Machin, a retired county social services administrator, appears to be a first-time candidate.

Thus far, Cona is the best-funded of the three candidates with more than $61,000 in receipts and $52,573 in the bank on July 27. Person has the second-best tally, with nearly $46,000 raised and $13,598 in his account, followed by Machin with $13,750 raised and $10,246 at the ready.

District 1 covers northwestern Hillsborough, including part of Tampa and the communities of Egypt Lake, Keystone, Leto, Town ‘n’ Country and Westchase. The winner of the nonpartisan election will serve out the remainder of Valdes’ term, which runs through 2020.

‘Tide-to-table’ concept joins slate of restaurants coming to Sparkman Wharf

Downtown Tampa’s upcoming Sparkman Wharf development unveiled another restaurant Monday that’s sure to hit all the right notes with the crowd who capped off their weekend by celebrating National Oyster Day.

Boat Run Oyster Company, billed as a “tide-to-table concept,” has joined Foundation Coffee, Whatever Pops and Gallito on the slate of restaurants opening in the in-development dining garden along the Garrison Channel in downtown Tampa.

“Sparkman Wharf offered a unique opportunity to take part in the exciting redevelopment of Tampa’s downtown urban landscape. We are also thrilled to collaborate with SPP and work alongside such creative and talented restauranteurs,” said Ryan Conigliaro, co-founder of Boat Run Oyster Company.

The new restaurant, developed by local firm SaltBlock Hospitality, will feature a menu stocked with sustainably raised, diverse and delicious oysters from around the world, as well as locally-grown oysters from Cedar Key. For those who don’t feel like eating off the half shell, Boat Run Oyster Company plans to plate plenty of other Florida favorites, from shrimp rolls to stone crab.

The Sparkman Wharf development is currently being built by Tampa-based contractor EWI. The dining garden, biergarten, and recreational lawn are slated to open in October 2018.

Upon completion, Sparkman Wharf will feature 180,000 square feet of loft-style office space, with another 65,000 square feet of street-level retail and a one-acre park-like location. The development is a piece of the much-hyped Water Street Tampa project backed by Strategic Property Partners, a partnership between Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Bill Gates’ Cascade Investment, is behind the Sparkman Wharf development.

SPP recently revealed its plans for Water Street Tampa’s public spaces as well as some of the buildings that will anchor the 50-acre development, including a pair of top-tier Marriott hotels under the “EDITION” and “JW Marriott” labels. Construction is already underway on the latter, which is expected to open in 2020.

All told, the $3 billion development will feature nearly 9 million square feet of indoor space and will bring downtown Tampa its first new condominiums in nearly a decade as well as its first office towers in a quarter century.

Frank White

Frank White surges to double-digit lead in Republican primary for Attorney General

A new poll of the Republican primary for Attorney General shows Pensacola Republican Rep. Frank White an 11-point lead over former circuit court judge Ashley Moody.

The St. Pete Polls survey, conducted Friday and Saturday, found White with 39 percent support among likely Republican primary voters while Moody scored a 28 percent share. A third of respondents said they were unsure which candidate they would support come Aug. 28.

Compared to the previous measure from the same pollster, released in mid-July, both candidates have seen their level of support grow significantly. That poll, the first since the contest became a two-way race, found White with a 26-19 lead over Moody with more than half of Republicans undecided.

Among white Republicans, White’s lead grows to 12 points. The same was true for Republicans over 70. However, his edge dips into the single digits among young and middle-aged Republicans. His lead also carries across all Florida media markets barring West Palm Beach and Miami, where Moody holds slim leads. The former prosecutor also led among voters self-identifying as Hispanic, a comparatively small subset, by a 28-26 margin.

White’s overall lead is well outside the poll’s margin of error. St. Pete Polls contacted 1,387 registered Republicans who said they planned to cast a vote in the primary race. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.4 percent with a 95 percent confidence level.

Just as impressive as the top-line results are the favorability scores.

More than half of those polled knew enough about White to offer their opinion, possibly due to his aggressive plan to hit TV early on in the primary race. Among those that answered the question, White scored a plus-31 in favorability.

By contrast, Moody’s score was middling. Though she edged out her opponent by fractions of a point in name ID, she only ended up 4 points above water, 29-25.

The tepid response may be attributable to primary season mudslinging. Though Moody has the support of dozens of county sheriffs and current Attorney General Pam Bondi, she didn’t start hitting the airwaves until mid-July — more than a month after Team White announced their first ad.

White also got some digs in over Moody’s decision to accept public funding for her campaign. That decision is not an uncommon one — both Republicans running for Governor, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, did the same — and Moody hit back by saying the funding program was made to help candidates compete against self-funders such as White, though her message wasn’t backed up by a direct mail campaign.

Through July 27, White had amassed more than $4.5 million for his campaign and committee accounts, including $2.77 million in self-funding and at least $400,000 in contributions linked to his father-in-law and employer, car dealership magnate Sandy Sansing. He has $1.65 million on hand.

Through the same date, Moody had raised more than $3.6 million across her accounts and had $1.83 million banked.

The winner of the head-to-head between Moody and White will likely face Tampa Democratic Rep. Sean Shaw in November. A pair of polls, now somewhat stale, showed Shaw with an edge no matter which Republican he faces on Election Day.

Janet Cruz and Dana Young, SD 18

Dana Young maintains threefold cash lead over Janet Cruz in SD 18

Republican Sen. Dana Young reported another $93,745 in fundraising last week, helping her hold on to a threefold cash lead over in her Senate District 18 re-election bid against House Minority Leader Janet Cruz.

Young’s new reports, covering July 21 through July 27, show $32,650 in hard money and another $61,095 in receipts for her affiliated political committee, Friends of Dana Young.

The campaign tally included more than two dozen checks for $1,000, the maximum allowable contribution for state legislative campaigns, with another slate of checks coming in at $500 or less.

The committee report was topped by a $15,000 contribution from tobacco company Reynolds American, followed by $10,000 checks from the political arm of the Florida Transportation Builders Association and Citizens for Fiscal Leadership, a political committee associated with fellow Republican Sens. Denise Grimsley and David Simmons.

At the end of the reporting period, Young had $1.5 million in the bank.

Young was elected to the northwestern Hillsborough County district in 2016, but due to the shake-up caused by redistricting she and other state Senators in even-numbered districts must run for re-election after only two years. She and Cruz, who is wrapping up her fourth term representing House District 62, are the only candidates running for the seat.

Cruz’ new reports showed $10,682 in hard money and another $9,900 raised for her political committee, Building the Bay PC, for a combined haul of $20,582 last week.

The campaign cash came in across 49 checks, including five max checks and another 29 contributions from small-dollar donors chipping in $100 or less.

On the committee side, the bulk of her haul came in through a $7,500 check from the Alliance for Progressive Representation, a political committee chaired by Mark Herron, a Tallahassee election-law attorney who works with Democrats. Floridians for Common Sense, a committee tied to St. Petersburg Democratic Sen. Darryl Rouson, chipped in $2,000.

Through July 27, Cruz had raised a combined $464,590 between the two accounts with $415,538 at the ready.

SD 18 is one of two districts on FDP’s wish list that was carried by Hillary Clinton two years ago, and a recent poll shows a tight race between Young and Cruz, with Cruz holding a slim advantage.

Young recently challenged Cruz to two debates ahead of their general election showdown. After poking Young for being down in the polls, spokesperson Kevin Cate said the Cruz campaign would reach out to the debate organizers and that the campaign was “eager to debate expanding access to affordable care, more funding for schools, and common-sense gun reform.”

Election Day is Nov. 6.

Ed Hooper clears $650K raised, Amanda Murphy cracks $100K in SD 16 battle

Former state Rep. Ed Hooper continued piling on to his fundraising lead in the race for Senate District 16, adding $37,156 to his war chest last week.

Hooper, a Clearwater Republican, is running against former state Rep. Amanda Murphy, a New Port Richey Democrat, for the Pinellas and Pasco-based state Senate seat that was held by Sen. Jack Latvala before his resignation late last year.

Between July 21 and July 27, Hooper raised $21,156.00 in hard money and tacked on another $16,000 via his political committee, Friends of Ed Hooper. That haul included a $15,000 check from Working Together For Florida PAC, the main fundraising vehicle of Naples Republican Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, a candidate for the 2022-2024 Senate presidency.

Hooper’s accounts only shelled out $5,575 during the weeklong reporting period, including $2,086 for email and social media marketing and a host of charges for canvassing work. All told, Hooper has raised nearly $660,000 between the two accounts since entering the race in early 2016. He had $492,647 banked at the end of the reporting period.

Murphy, meanwhile, showed $4,615 in contributions for her campaign account last week while her two political committees — Working Towards Florida’s Future and Taxpayers for Responsible Government — haven’t shown signs of life since shortly after she entered the race in mid-May.

Her new report included a check from personal injury law firm Disparti Law Group for $1,000, the maximum allowable contribution for state legislative races, as well as 22 smaller contributions, most of them from individuals. The report also showed $20,000 worth of “in-kind” support from the Florida Democratic Party to cover research and campaign consulting costs.

After spending just $225 for the week, Murphy had $28,293 left in her campaign account. Including committee cash, Murphy has raised $103,625 between her three accounts and had a combined $86,763 on hand on July 27.

Murphy is the lone Democratic candidate running for SD 16, while Hooper faces some nominal opposition in the Aug. 28 Republican primary. Hooper’s opponent, Palm Harbor restaurateur Leo Karruli, has raised $5,446 and kicked in another $30,025 in candidate loans. His new report shows him with a negative balance in his campaign account.

SD 16 has a Republican edge — it voted plus-12 for Donald Trump in 2016. However, polling has consistently shown the seat is winnable for a Democrat. A June survey from St. Pete Polls shows Hooper and Murphy in a competitive race, with Hooper holding a 45-43 advantage. That edge falls within the poll’s margin error.

Rebekah Bydlak increases fundraising lead in HD 1 Republican primary

Gonzalez Republican Rebekah Bydlak turned in another $10,000 finance report Friday, adding to her already immense lead over former Republican Rep. Mike Hill in the race for House District 1.

After tacking on another $10,300 in contributions, Bydlak has now raised $168,300 for her state House run, more than triple the tally of Hill, who has brought in just over $50,000 since entering the race in September 2017. A third Republican, Lisa Doss of Milton, is in a distant third with $2,542 in receipts since signing up for the contest just ahead of the candidate qualifying deadline.

Bydlak’s new report includes eight checks for $1,000, the maximum allowable contribution for a state legislative race. Those max donors include personal checks from Lewis Bear and his wife, Belle, who run an Anheuser Busch distributorship. The beverage industry also showed up with a pair of max checks from the Florida Beer Wholesalers Political Committee and the Florida Beer Wholesalers Good Government Committee, while the political arm of the Florida Automobile Dealers Association also chipped in $1,000.

The new report, which covered July 21 through July 27, also showed more than $30,000 in spending with the majority of that cash paying for advertising — Bydlak started hitting TV early last month with an ad touting her as the “fresh conservative voice” in the race. Gainesville-based GOP data firm Data Targeting also picked up $3,725 for a direct mail campaign.

Bydlak had about $96,000 on hand at the close of the reporting period.

Hill, meanwhile, showed $1,450 in new money as well as $11,641 in spending in his new finance report. The inflow came in across a half-dozen contribs, the largest of which were $300 checks from fellow insurance agents Debbie Dell and Michael Lovchuk.

Spending included a $5,758 direct mail campaign through Pensacola-based Evergreen Marketing Solutions as well as another $3,840 in advertising, possibly for more mailers, through Sanford-based firms Creative Printing & Publishing and Central Florida Publishing.

The former lawmaker, who served in the House from 2013 through 2016, has raised $50,170 for his comeback bid thus far, and had $8,805 at the ready on July 27.

The winner of the Aug. 28 Republican primary will face either Vikki Garrett or Franscine Mathis, both Pensacola Democrats, in the Nov. 6 general election, though HD 1’s strong Republican lean virtually assures the Republican nominee will succeed term-limited Rep. Clay Ingram come Election Day.

HD 1 covers the bulk of Escambia County, including the communities of Century, Molino, Gonzalez, Ensley, Ferry Pass, Belleview and Brent. Ingram has held the seat since it was redrawn in 2012. Before that, he held the old HD 2.

Sean McCoy outpaces Mike Beltran in HD 57 fundraising

Businessman and U.S. Army veteran Sean McCoy added another $7,150 to his campaign account last week, building his edge in outside fundraising in ahead of his Aug. 28 showdown with attorney Mike Beltran.

McCoy and Beltran, both of Lithia, are vying for the Republican nomination in House District 57, a southeastern Hillsborough County district that’s currently represented by Republican Rep. Jake Raburn, who announced in June that he would not run for a fourth term in the Florida House.

McCoy, a West Point graduate, filed for the seat one day after Raburn’s announcement and has now raised nearly $49,000 for his campaign account, including a $2,000 candidate loan. His new report, covering July 21 through July 27, shows $1,000 checks from lobbying firm Southern Strategy Group and Sunshine Gasoline Distributors as well as ag industry political committees Florida Cow PAC and Florida Farm PAC.

After spending $16,846 for the week, most of it on printing and mailing services via Strategic Image Management, McCoy had $28,566 left in his campaign account.

Beltran, a gubernatorial appointee to the Judicial Nominating Commission, showed $1,705 in fundraising in his new report, with $1,000 of those funds coming from New Jersey resident Avadhoot Nadkami. His $425 in spending included a $250 check to the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce for an event booth.

Beltran has now raised $26,912 for his state House bid, however he holds a large cash lead thanks to a $100,000 candidate loan he used to kickstart his campaign. The Lithia Republican hasn’t started dipping into those funds, however — as of July 27, he had $108,597 in the bank.

The winner of the Republican nomination will be the heavy favorite in the Nov. 6 general election against Valrico Democrat Debbie Katt, who has raised $11,045 for her campaign and has $5,240 on hand.

The GOP has a 7-point lead in voter registrations within the district, and Raburn had no trouble holding the seat for three terms — he beat Democrat Bruce Barnett by 17 points to win his first term in 2012 and went unopposed in the 2014 and 2016 election cycles. The district also voted plus-12 for Donald Trump two years ago.

Ashey Moody

Matching funds fuel fundraising win for Ashley Moody

Former circuit court judge Ashley Moody topped the field of candidates running for Attorney General last week thanks in large part to cashing her first six-figure matching funds check.

Moody, a Republican backed by term-limited AG Pam Bondi, brought in nearly $374,000 between her campaign and political committee, Friends of Ashley Moody, for the reporting period covering July 21 through July 27. That haul included a $283,748 check from the state matching funds program.

The program, open only to candidates for Governor and Cabinet positions, matches contributions of $250 or less from individuals who were state residents at the time of making the contribution.

Moody’s primary opponent, Pensacola Rep. Frank White, has roasted her for accepting those funds. The Moody campaign hit back by saying the matching funds program is meant to prevent self-funding candidates, including White, from spending their way into public office.

Also included in Moody’s reports were eight campaign contribs for $3,000, the maximum allowable donation for statewide races, as well as several dozen more from small-dollar donors. The committee ledger showed a $25,000 check from Floridian’s United for Our Children’s Future, a political committee chaired by Ryan Tyson, the VP of political operations for Associated Industries of Florida.

Spending for the two accounts combined to $40,682, with nearly all of those funds paying for printing and design work done by Jensen Beach consulting group Strategic Image Management. The light spending comes one week after Moody’s campaign account shelled out $423,620 for a media buy.

Moody has now raised more than $3.6 million for statewide bid. She had $1.83 million in the bank on July 27.

White’s finance reports showed $165,260 in new money. His political committee, United Conservatives, pulled in $132,500 of that cash, while the balance headed to his campaign coffers.

Included in the committee report were two $50,000 checks, one from political committee Liberty Foundation of Florida and another from Pelopidas LLC, a St. Louis-based conservative consulting group. The campaign account received two-dozen contributions, including a quartet of max checks.

White’s spending cracked $525,000 for the week, with $416,000 of that sum paying for another round of campaign advertising. White was the first AG candidate to hit the airwaves, putting $1 million behind an early June media buy well before the “lowest unit rate” rule kicked in 45 days out from Aug. 28 primary election.

In all, White has amassed more than $4.5 million between his two accounts and had $1.65 million banked on July 27. His tally includes $2.77 million in self-funding and at least $400,000 in contributions linked to his father-in-law, car dealership magnate Sandy Sansing.

A recent survey from St. Pete Polls showed White with a 7-point lead over Moody in the primary race, though more than half of likely Republican voters said they were undecided. When it comes to the general election, polls have shown Tampa Rep. Sean Shaw, the likely Democratic nominee, with a lead over either Republican.

Shaw trails both GOP contenders in fundraising, though he also got his first matching funds boost last week.

His first payout clocked in a $139,000 and made up the bulk of the $198,400 he raised last week between his campaign and political committee, Sean Shaw for Florida.

The new reports pushed him just over the $1 million mark in total fundraising since he entered the race in January. He has $493,240 at the ready.

Shaw’s primary opponent, Odessa attorney Ryan Torrens, is lagging considerably. Through more than a year in the race, he’s raised $130,400 and kicked in $8,450 in loans. As of July 27, his campaign was barely above water with just $10,450 on hand.

Shaw has filed a lawsuit against Torrens alleging that he improperly qualified for the ballot. A court hearing for that lawsuit has been set for Aug. 22, just six days ahead of their head-to-head showdown at the polls.

Kathleen Peters

Kathleen Peters gets police union support in Pinellas Commission race

State Rep. Kathleen Peters picked up a nod from the Fraternal Order of Police in her bid for the District 6 seat on the Pinellas County Commission.

“The members of the Fraternal Order of Police have confidence in Kathleen Peters to protect the public and support first responders,” said Tom Porter, the director of FOP’s District 3 Lodge, which includes 15 west central Florida branches of the police union.

The endorsement, announced Friday, comes a couple weeks after Peters locked up a recommendation from the St. Petersburg Association of Fire Fighters. She has also been endorsed by the Sun Coast Police Benevolent Association.

“Having the support of the Fraternal Order of Police is an incredible privilege—these are the men and women who protect our communities every day. Their confidence in my candidacy is a great honor that I will carry with me in service to Pinellas County,” Peters said.

Peters faces state Rep. Larry Ahern and businesswoman Barb Haselden in the Aug. 28 Republican primary for County Commission District 6, the seat that was held by longtime Commissioner John Morroni, who died in May at the age of 63. The seat is currently held by Jay Beyrouti, who was appointed to the vacant seat by Gov. Rick Scott last month.

Recent polling shows Peters with nearly 36 percent support among likely Republican primary voters, giving her a double-digit lead over Ahern, who took second place in the St. Pete Polls survey.

The winner of the Republican primary will move on to a head-to-head against Democrat Amy Kedron in the Nov. 6 general election. Kedron is a political newcomer and the only non-GOP candidate to qualify for the race.

District 6 is the only Pinellas County Commission seat that will be on the ballot this fall as no candidates qualified to challenge incumbent Commissioners Dave Eggers or Pat Gerard. They were both re-elected without opposition on June 22.

The district covers Pinellas Park, Seminole and the bulk of the county’s southwestern shoreline, including Madeira Beach, Treasure Island and St. Pete Beach.

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