Drew Wilson, Author at Florida Politics - Page 7 of 192

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.
Jennifer Webb

Jennifer Webb leads Ray Blacklidge by double digits in new HD 69 poll

St. Petersburg Democrat Jennifer Webb holds a 15-point lead over Madeira Beach Republican Ray Blacklidge according to a fresh poll of the race to succeed exiting state Rep. Kathleen Peters in Pinellas County’s House District 69.

The SEA Polling & Strategic Design survey found Webb with a 48-33 percent lead over Blacklidge with 19 percent of voters unsure of their choice six weeks out from Election Day. When it came down to the issues, Webb’s positions were seen in a substantially more favorable light than those of her opponent.

Once informed of each candidate’s platform, Webb surged to a 58-36 percent lead.

On health insurance, 69 percent of voters were firmly or somewhat convinced that Webb would stand up to insurance companies to ensure those with pre-existing conditions are covered; 70 percent felt the same when it came to championing substance abuse and mental health solutions; and sizable majorities favored her background in the environmental and tech industries as well as her stances on combatting the toxic algal blooms in Lake Okeechobee.

Blacklidge scored well for his support of the school safety package passed in the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas massacre and his experience in the insurance industry was seen as a plus for voters concerned about rising premiums for homeowners and small businesses.

Those issues do rank high among HD 69 voters, who said property insurance premiums were their No. 3 priority this cycle, with lowering utility rates taking the top spot — “other” or “don’t know” tied for No. 1, with reducing traffic congestion and cutting taxes each registering as the fourth most urgent priority.

Though the survey was commissioned by the Florida Democratic Party, Republicans made up 40 percent of the poll’s sample compared to a 36 percent share for registered Democrats with the remaining quarter being unaffiliated or third-party voters.

Other positives unearthed for Webb include President Donald Trump’s wildly unpopular standing in HD 69. He posted a minus-15 favorability rating among the St. Pete-based district’s electorate while former Vice President Joe Biden, a potential 2020 presidential contender, came in at plus-16.

Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis’ was also seen as substantially less favorable than his Democratic opponent, Andrew Gillum, while current Gov. Rick Scott fared the same against U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, who Scott is looking to oust in the fall. Ditto for the National Rifle Association, which came in underwater, while Planned Parenthood was seen positively by a 52-26 percent margin.

When it comes Election Day plans, Nelson is sitting pretty in the district with a 55-41 percent lead over Scott while Gillum leads DeSantis 52-40 percent.

Webb currently leads Blacklidge in cash on hand, largely because Blacklidge spent the bulk of his funds defeating Jeremy Bailie in last month’s primary election.

HD 69 includes part of St. Petersburg and the communities of Redington Beach, Madeira Beach, Treasure Island, South Pasadena and Gulfport. Republicans have a slim lead in voter registrations in the district, which voted plus-3 for Donald Trump in 2016.

Webb was also the Democratic nominee two years ago but lost to Peters by 13 percentage points on Election Day.

Florida Democrats are targeting the seat now that Peters has given up the job to seek a seat on the Pinellas County Commission, and the hope is the so-called “blue wave” and Webb’s strong fundraising will lead to the Pinellas County district going blue for the first time since it was redrawn in 2012.

Shawn Harrison

Shawn Harrison leads in HD 63 battleground, but tuned-in voters favor Fentrice Driskell

Tampa Republican Rep. Shawn Harrison leads in a fresh poll of the race for Hillsborough County’s House District 63, but Democratic challenger Fentrice Driskell holds the edge among voters who say they have a “high interest” in the 2018 election.

The SEA Polling & Strategic Design survey, commissioned by the Florida Democratic Party, found Harrison with a 45-39 percent edge, but among voters who rated their attention and interest in the Nov. 6 general election as high his standing slips.

“Smart poll readers know to ask if a poll is of registered voters or likely voters, but there’s more than just that. That’s just who gets polled. That’s a question of habit that’s largely already been answered by their presence in the polling universe,” the SEA memo reads.

“Good pollsters will ask how closely you are paying attention to politics or how interested you are in the upcoming elections. Especially in lower turnout, midterm elections, this is critical to knowing who is going to show up and vote.”

To that end, voters with the highest level of interest — measured from one to five — favored Driskell by a 58-31 percent margin. Lumping in the four-out-of-five crowd sees Harrison’s share slip to 29 percent while Driskell’s position holds firm.

Florida Democrats have seen HD 63 as a swing district since its inception and have had some success there in the past. In 2012, former Democratic Rep. Mark Danish pulled off an upset by defeating Harrison by 728 votes on Election Day. He fell five points short two years later.

In 2016 Harrison held on with a 2-point win against Lisa Montelione despite Hillary Clinton carrying the seat by double digits at the top of the ticket.

This year, Driskell is looking to ride the so-called “blue wave” into office and has thus far remained semi-competitive on the fundraising front. When it comes to hard money, she and Harrison are close with $185,000 raised and $109,000 banked for the incumbent compared to $158,000 raised and $110,000 banked for the challenger.

But Harrison also has another $133,000 ready to deploy in his PAC, Committee for an Innovative Florida, giving him a six-figure advantage

Though negative on its face, the new poll isn’t all doom and gloom for Harrison. It was conducted via live interviews and featured a substantial cell phone component, but the sample size is just 300 voters and its margin of error is listed as plus or minus 5.61 percentage points.

HD 61 covers part of Hillsborough County, including portions of northern Tampa and the communities of Lutz, Pebble Creek, Lake Magdalene, and Carrollwood. Democrats make up about 39 percent of the swing seat’s electorate, while Republicans hold a 32 percent share.

Sean Shaw

Personnel note: Sean Shaw for AG brings on Julia Gill Woodward, Shellie Levin

Democratic state Rep. Sean Shaw has brought on longtime Gwen Graham staffer Julia Gill Woodward and Alex Sink for Governor alumna Shellie Levin as senior finance consultants for his statewide bid for Attorney General.

Woodward, a graduate of Florida State University, was Graham’s campaign manager during her 2018 bid to become Florida Governor, which fell short by a couple points in last month’s primary election.

Prior to the 2018 run, Woodward worked on Graham’s successful 2014 campaign to oust of former U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland from the old 2nd Congressional District. Following that victory, she followed Graham to Washington DC to serve as her chief of staff during her single term in Congress.

Before her work for Graham, Woodward spent a year as the deputy campaign manager and the finance director for Keith Fitzgerald’s 2012 congressional bid. She also served stints as the statewide political director for Loranne Ausley’s CFO bid and the deputy finance director for the Florida Democratic Party.

Also joining Team Shaw’s is Levin, an attorney whose political beginnings date back to 1997, when she began working for EMILY’s List, a national group that helps elect pro-choice Democratic to public office.

In 2010 she joined former CFO Alex Sink’s gubernatorial campaign, serving as deputy campaign manager where she was tasked with restructuring the finance team that ended up raising more than $40 million for the statewide campaign.

In the years since, the Nova Southeastern law school alumna has worked under the banner of Shellie Levin Solutions, with a client roster that has included EMILY’s List, America Votes and Floridians for Solar Choice, which was unable to get its own preferred ballot imitative before Florida voters two years ago but was a staunch opponent of the failed amendment pushed by Consumers for Smart Solar.

The new hires come about a week after Shaw announced his general election finance committee, which includes more than 20 members, including Sink, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy and St. Petersburg state Rep. Ben Diamond as well as numerous Florida attorneys.

Shaw, who served as insurance consumer advocate under Sink, easily won the Democratic nomination for Attorney General in the Aug. 28 primary election and now moves on to face Republican nominee Ashley Moody, a former prosecutor and circuit court judge.

As of Sept. 14, Shaw held a cash lead in the statewide race with a combined $637,000 in campaign and committee dollars at the ready, though he trails in overall fundraising. Moody expended most of her funds in her bruising primary against Pensacola Rep. Frank White and had about $156,000 between her two accounts on Sept. 14.

The general election is Nov. 6.

Jennifer Sullivan nears $100K raised in HD 31 re-election bout

State Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, a Mount Dora Republican, added $13,550 in new contributions during the first half of September, putting her near the $100,000 mark in total fundraising.

Sullivan, first elected in 2014, faces Democratic challenger Debra Kaplan in her bid for a third term in Lake and Orange county-based House District 31.

Her Sept. 1 through Sept. 14 finance report showed 16 contributions, with a dozen measuring in at the campaign maximum of $1,000. Among the top donors were a political committee tied to the Associated Industries of Florida, the Florida Retail Federation, two branches of hospital company HCA, Duke Energy, U.S. Sugar and telecom giant Comcast Corporation.

Spending measured in at a light $500, with that cash heading out in a single transaction for accounting fees through Venice-based Robinson, Hanks, Young and Roberts.

All told, Sullivan has raised $98,595 for her re-election bid and had $66,853 on hand on Sept. 14.

Kaplan, meanwhile, posted $4,058 in receipts for the two-week reporting period and collected a pair of max checks, including one from the Lake County Democrats. Her spending outstripped her contributions, however, with more than $5,000 heading.

The major items on the ledger this reporting cycle were a $3,800 payment to Clearchannel for billboards, with an additional $750 paid out to TFC Marketing for video production work.

Since entering the race in March 2017, Kaplan has raised a total of $18,761. She had about $5,500 left to spend on Sept. 14.

HD 31 covers northeast Lake County and northwest Orange County and has a strong Republican base. GOP voters make up 44 percent of the electorate compared to a 31 percent share for Democrats, who haven’t fielded a candidate since the seat was redrawn ahead of the 2012 elections.

Sullivan was elected to the seat without an Election Day challenger in 2014 after taking nearly 35 percent of the vote in a five-way Republican primary. Her only opposition in 2016 came from unaffiliated candidate Robert Rightmyer, whom she beat 73-27. The seat voted 59-36 for Donald Trump.

2018 elections, 2018 legislative races, fundraising, campaign fundraising, 2018 state House races, Jennifer Sullivan, Debra Kaplan, HD 31, House District 31

Hillsborough Co. Commissioners up big in re-election fundraising

Incumbent Hillsborough County Commissioner Stacy White has continued piling on cash in his District 4 re-election bid, while fellow Commissioners Victor Crist and Ken Hagan are each far ahead as they look to swap seats on the seven-member panel.

White, first elected in 2014, added a couple thousand dollars to his war chest during the first couple weeks of the month, bringing his overall fundraising total to $187,261, with just shy of $100,000 of that money still left to spend seven weeks out from the Nov. 6 general election.

White, whose District 4 seat includes much of south and western Hillsborough County, faces Democratic challenger Andrew Davis in the general election. To date, Davis has raised $7,879 for his campaign, though he only has about $850 left in the tank.

Crist, the current District 2 commissioner, is running for the countywide District 5 seat held by Hagan. His new report showed a healthy $16,550 in receipts alongside less than $1,000 in spending, bringing his campaign’s overall total to $147,630 with just shy of $56,000 on hand last Friday.

Crist’s overall fundraising beats the combined records of his two challengers, Democratic nominee Mariella Smith and unaffiliated candidate Joe Kotvas. Smith has raised just over $99,000 so far and has $44,000 in the bank, while Kotvas has raised $10,125 and has and has $575 left to spend.

Hagan, who is looking to move from his countywide seat into Crist’s northern Hillsborough one, only showed $1,500 in new money collected during the two-week reporting period, though his overall fundraising efforts dwarf those of his lone challenger, Democratic nominee Angela Birdsong.

Through Sept. 14, Hagan had raised more than $487,000 in hard money and had more than $350,000 of that cash ready to deploy. Birdsong, meanwhile, has raised $27,817 and has $6,260 on hand.

The fourth seat on the 2018 ballot, the countywide District 7, won’t feature any incumbents. Todd Marks, who overcame a major fundraising gap to defeat Aakash Patel in the Republican primary election, currently leads in overall fundraising in the three-way race between him, Democratic nominee Kimberly Overman, and Green Party candidate Kim O’Connor.

Marks, an attorney, received $16,575 in contributions in his new report, which accounts for most of his on-hand cash after the bruising primary battle. He’s now raised nearly $176,000 overall and has a little less than $18,000 in his campaign account.

Overman, meanwhile, has raised $77,321 thus far and had $13,300 banked, while O’Connor is currently the cash leader with $26,000 raised and all but $50 of that money still in her campaign account.

The District 2, 4, 5 and 7 seats will all be on the Nov. 6 general election ballot, alongside other county government seats including sheriff and four school board districts.

Bob Cortes

Florida GOP antes up for Bob Cortes’ re-election bid

Altamonte Springs Republican Rep. Bob Cortes posted his best campaign finance report of the 2018 cycle, increasing his already significant cash edge over Democratic challenger Joy Goff-Marcil.

The new report, which covers the first two weeks of September, shows $70,025 in receipts for the second-term lawmaker and nearly quadruples his heretofore record for a single fundraising report — $18,050 raised for the entire month of May.

Goff-Marcil, meanwhile, added $2,830 to her campaign account between Sept. 1 and Sept. 14. That sum represents a backslide from the $5,100 she raked in for the reporting period for the three days at the end of August following her victory in a three-way Democratic primary against Clark Anderson and Brandon Ramirez.

Her resounding primary win came in spite of national players such as George Soros making a strong, public push for Ramirez in the final days ahead of the election.

The bulk of Cortes’ new money was a $46,000 check from the Republican party of Florida, which has thrown tens of thousands of dollars into several Orlando-area state House seats, including a $50,000 check for Ben Griffin, an Orlando Republican who is challenging incumbent Democratic Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith in House District 49.

Cortes also reeled in a score of checks for the maximum campaign donation of $1,000, including contributions from telecom giant Comcast, Koch Industries, lobby firm The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners and lobbyist Ron Book.

Also sending in a max contribution was BusinessForce PC, an offshoot of the Orlando Chamber of Commerce that recently issued a bulk endorsement of a dozen state House candidates including Cortes.

Only $2,580 went out the door during the two-week stretch, leaving Cortes with nearly $205,000 left to spend out of the $236,800 he’s raised thus far. Goff-Marcil’s to-date fundraising total reached nearly $34,500 at the end of the reporting period, with around $10,850 banked.

HD 30 straddles the border of Seminole and Orange counties and includes the communities of Altamonte Springs, Casselberry, Eatonville, Fern Park, Forest City, Goldenrod, Lockhart and Maitland. About two-thirds of HD 30 voters live on the Seminole side.

The district is home to slightly more Democratic voters than Republican ones, and it was one of only a handful of seats in 2016 to elect a Republican representative while voting in favor of Hillary Clinton at the top of the ticket.

Scott Plakon adds $16K, Tracey Kagan adds $4K in HD 29 battle

Sanford Republican Rep. Scott Plakon added an even $16,000 to his campaign fund during the first half of last month, bringing his overall fundraising total past the $125,000 mark.

The Sept. 1 through Sept. 14 reporting period saw House District 29’s second-term lawmaker cash more than a dozen checks for the maximum campaign donation of $1,000, including contributions from lobbyist Ron Book and lobby firm Akerman LLP as well as hospital corporation HCA.

BusinessForce, a group connected to the Orlando Chamber of Commerce, also showed up with a $1,000 check shortly before the group publicly endorsed Plakon’s re-election bid.

Plakon also spent and even $10,000 during the two-week reporting period, with all of that cash heading to Tallahassee-based Southern Campaign Resources for consulting work.

He finished the reporting period with $129,065 in hard money raised thus far with $104,420 left to spend.

Challenging Plakon in the Seminole County seat is Democratic nominee Tracey Kagan, who last month defeated fellow Democrat Darryl Block after earning more than two-thirds of the vote in the primary.

Her new report showed $3,926 in new money, with all 16 receipts listed coming in from individual donors. Topping the list was a $1,000 check from Craig Wilding of Lake Mary. Kagan also spent a little over $2,000 during the reporting period, with $1,000 paying for financial services and $450 covering credit card processing fees via the NationBuilder platform.

Kagan’s haul brings her total fundraising to nearly $50,000, including $15,000 in candidate loans. She had about $11,000 in the bank on Sept. 14.

HD 29 covers part of western Seminole County, including Heathrow, Lake Mary, Longwood, Wekiwa Springs and part of Sanford. According to the most recent bookclosing report released by the Florida Division of Elections, there are about 7,500 more registered Republican voters than Democrats within its borders.

The seat is not a total reach for Democrats, however. In 2012, Democrat Mike Clelland pulled off a shocker by defeating former Republican Rep. Chris Dorworth by fewer than 150 votes. Dorworth was in line to be House Speaker after the 2014 elections.

Plakon put the seat back in the GOP column in 2014 with a 57-43 win over Clelland. Plakon won re-election in 2016 without an Election Day opponent, though the district went plus-4 for Donald Trump at the top of the ticket.

Kathleen Peters

Kathleen Peters far out front in Pinellas Co. Commission fundraising

State Rep. Kathleen Peters has raised nearly $34,000 for her Pinellas County Commission campaign during the first two weeks of the month, putting her far ahead of Democratic challenger Amy Kedron.

Peters emerged from the three-way Republican primary battle for the District 6 seat with 48 percent of the vote compared to 36 percent for fellow state Rep. Larry Ahern and 16 percent for St. Petersburg activist and businesswoman Barbara Haselden.

Despite the double-digit victory, the primary campaign drained much of Peters’ war chest, leaving her with about the start of her general election sprint. Her campaign funds and her affiliated political committee, Florida Speaks, have received some replenishment in the weeks since, however.

Between Sept. 1 and Sept. 14, Peters added another $8,670 in hard money and an even $25,000 in committee cash. At the close of the reporting period, she had $86,800 banked between the two accounts.

That leaves Peters with a nearly eightfold advantage over Kedron, who has raised $31,340 since she entered the race in May and reported $10,940 on hand as of Sept. 14. Kedron did not face a primary opponent.

Peters announced her campaign for County Commission District 6 in May 2017, citing an “assault on home rule” from Tallahassee. She has been a member of the state House since 2012, and was eligible for another two-year term representing Pinellas County’s House District 69.

Peters and Kedron are vying for the seat that is currently held by Jay Beyrouti, who was appointed to the position two months ago by Gov. Rick Scott following the death of longtime County Commissioner John Morroni.

District 6 is the only Pinellas County Commission seat that will be on the ballot this fall as no candidates qualified to challenge Republican Commissioner Dave Eggers in District 4 or Democratic Commissioner Pat Gerard in District 2. 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.

David Smith nears $250K raised for HD 28 bid

Winter Springs Republican David Smith added another $15,845 to his campaign account during the first half of September, bringing his overall fundraising to $248,000.

Smith is up against Casselberry Democrat Lee Mangold in the race to replace term-limited Republican Rep. Jason Brodeur in the Seminole County state House seat.

Among the 33 checks Smith cashed between Sept. 1 and Sept. 14 were a dozen checks for the maximum campaign donation of $1,000, including contributions from several entities tied to the House of Mouse. Showing up alongside a handful of political committees and a check from lobbyist Ron Book were contributions from Disney Photo Imaging, Magical Cruise Company and the Magic Kingdom.

Business Force PC also showed up with a $1,000 contribution. The group, a spinoff of the Orlando area Chamber of Commerce, endorsed Smith and 11 other state House candidates two weeks ago.

Spending measured in at about $9,400, with a $2,700 payment to McShane LLC for advertising topping the ledger. Another $2,000 was spent on video production with the remainder heading to several individuals for contract labor.

Smith’s overall total includes $85,000 in candidate loans. He finished the reporting period with $135,700 at the ready.

Mangold’s new report showed about $3,250 raised, with all but a handful of his rake coming in from individual donors. Other entities on his donor roll included the Seminole County Democratic Executive Committee and Booth’s Cobblestones. He also received $991 worth of “in-kind” support from New York-based political committee The People PAC for video production work.

The report brings him up to $40,358 in total fundraising, including $10,000 in candidate loans. He finished the reporting period with $18,560 on hand.

Smith and Mangold were the only two candidates who qualified to succeed term-limited Brodeur in HD 28, which covers part of northeastern Seminole County including Sanford, Winter Springs, Casselberry and Oviedo. They will go head-to-head in the Nov. 6 general election.

HD 28 has a GOP lean.

According to the most recent bookclosing report from the Florida Division of Elections, Republican voters make up nearly 40 percent of the electorate compared to a 33 percent share for Democrats, and Brodeur has not faced a Democratic opponent on Election Day in his three re-election campaigns since the seat was redrawn in 2012.

The seat is not out of reach for Democrats, however, especially if the so-called “blue wave” hits Florida. It only voted plus-4 for Donald Trump two years ago.

David Santiago

David Santiago maintains major cash lead in HD 27

State Rep. David Santiago, a Deltona Republican, brought in another healthy haul for his re-election effort in Volusia County’s House District 27, hanging on to his massive money advantage over Democratic challenger Carol Lawrence.

Santiago’s haul included $1,000 checks from Committee for Fair Competition in Telecommunications, Duke Energy Florida, Florida ACRE and My Community Pharmacy of Boynton Beach. The report also included $4,500 worth of “in-kind” support from the Republican Party of Florida for consulting and research expenses.

Spending measured in at a modest $3,800, most of which was marked down as a reimbursement to Santiago for campaign expenses, with $1,000 heading to Virginia-based Grassroots Political Consulting and $500 heading to Robinson, Hanks, Young and Roberts for accounting work.

As of Sept. 14, Santiago had raised more than $198,000 in hard dollars for his campaign, with more than $112,000 of that cash in the bank. That alone gives him a six-figure edge over Lawrence, though he also has an affiliated political committee, Economic Growth PAC, with an additional $135,500 on hand.

For her part, Lawrence tacked on $580 from a handful of individual donors while spending more than $14,000 of her reserves, the vast majority of which were marked down as reimbursements, though she also paid for a storage unit and a $75 “candidate fee” to the Volusia County Supervisor of Elections.

Lawrence has brought in a little over $3,500 for her campaign since entering the race in March, though she juiced her account with $38,000 in candidate loans during her primary battle against Neil Henrichsen, whom she defeated 70-30 percent last month.

As of Sept. 14, Lawrence had about $19,000 left to spend in her campaign account.

HD 27 covers southern Volusia County, including Deltona, DeBary and Orange City and has a Republican edge. In 2016, Santiago was elected for a third term in the state House with 59 percent of the vote while Donald Trump carried the district by a 54-42 percent margin.

Election Day is Nov. 6.

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