A.G. Gancarski, Author at Florida Politics - Page 2 of 535

A.G. Gancarski

Catholic Bishops back felons’ rights restoration Amendment 4

The Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops announced support this week for Amendment 4, which offers rights restoration for reformed felons.

The Amendment would automatically restore felons’ voting rights after they complete their sentences, with murderers and felony sexual offenders exempted.

 “Our belief in the transformative power of redemption is core to our faith. Amendment 4 provides the promise of redemption to folks who have paid their debts in full, and are ready to reintegrate themselves to society. It is time our state’s laws reflect this belief in second chances; it is simply the right thing to do,” the nine-man panel asserted.

If Amendment 4 were to pass, 1.4 million reformed Florida felons (one in ten potential voters) would have their rights restored.

Multiple polls in recent weeks suggest that the Amendment is on track to pass, with consistent expressions of support by over 70 percent of those surveyed.

Florida’s clemency process has come under national scrutiny. The clemency board (Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet) meets four times a year to consider appeals.

Dueling Jacksonville events for Andrew Gillum, Ron DeSantis Thursday evening

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum will give his first major speech since returning to the campaign trail Thursday evening in Jacksonville.

The Tallahassee Mayor, who took time off the trail as Tallahassee completed most of its power restoration after Hurricane Michael, is back.

Gillum will address the 53rd Jacksonville NAACP Freedom Fund Dinner, a commitment he had made before Hurricane Michael’s approach.

This ticketed event will be held at the Downtown Hyatt Regency, with doors at 7 and Gillum expected to speak at 7:30.

Just a short drive away, Republican Ron DeSantis will address the GOP faithful at the Duval County Republican Party‘s 2018 Lincoln/Douglass Banquet.

The Duval Republicans are holding this event, which kicks off at 8 p.m., at the Jacksonville Veteran’s Memorial Arena, and Judge Jeanine Pirro and U.S. Rep. John Rutherford also will be speaking.

The most recent survey of the race from St. Pete Polls shows Gillum up one point (47-46), but down four (45-49) with people who have already voted.

The fundraising race is similarly competitive, though DeSantis seems to be hitting a stride, with an $8 million haul between Sept. 29 and Oct. 5.

There and back again: The return of Doyle Carter to Jacksonville City Hall

Former Jacksonville City Council member Doyle Carter resigned his seat earlier this year to run for Duval County Tax Collector. While he was eliminated in August, he didn’t have to wait very long for his next move in public service.

Carter has taken a role with the city, as Parks Athletic Project Manager. The job, in the $75,000 a year range, accords with Carter’s interest on the Council in youth athletic programs and facilities.

Carter has been an athletic director and coach for local high school softball teams at varying points in his career.

Carter, a Republican, is just the latest former City Council member to move into a city government role.

Upon being elected in 2015, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, a Republican, hired three different former members of the legislative body.

Republican Robin Lumb took a policy director role. Democrats Johnny Gaffney and Denise Lee, each of whom was helpful in kneecapping former Mayor Alvin Brown, likewise moved into senior roles.

One observer asserted that Carter’s hire was timed to help with Curry’s re-election. However, Carter got just 12 percent of the vote for tax collector in August, suggesting that help may be of limited usefulness.

Meanwhile, there are strong expectations that Carter may not be the last Councilor to be hired on by the city for an administrative role.

Former Council President Lori Boyer, a Republican who has an encyclopedic knowledge of city functions, seems like a likely addition in a senior role next year when she is termed out.

‘Disqualifying’: Sean Shaw slams Ashley Moody for dubious donations

Democratic Attorney General candidate Sean Shaw excoriated Republican opponent Ashley Moody Wednesday, saying she should be disqualified from the race over donations he believes are dubious.

At issue: Moody accepting money from private prison contractor GEO Group.

In a news release Tuesday, Shaw deemed taking the money as “disqualifying,” vowing to take steps as Attorney General to investigate abuse that resulted from Trump-era immigration policies.

At high noon Wednesday, under a merciless mid-October Jacksonville sun, Shaw hammered home similar points.

Shaw charged Moody with allowing GEO Group — “one of Ashley’s biggest donors,” to “bankroll her campaign.”

The company, per Shaw, “houses thousands of immigrant detainees in private prisons all around this country,” with allegations of forced unpaid labor and sexual assault in those facilities.

“Ashley likes to say she has experience. If decision making like this is proof of her experience,” Shaw said, “it’s no wonder our criminal justice system is broken.”

“A prison firm funding the state’s top law enforcement officer’s campaign should raise all kinds of questions,” Shaw said, including her ability to investigate alleged GEO Group misdeeds.

GEO Group, unsurprisingly, disputes Shaw’s read as “misguided and unfounded.”

“GEO does not manage, and has never managed, facilities that house unaccompanied minors, nor has our company ever provided transportation or any other services for that purpose. GEO also does not take a position on nor have we ever advocated for or against immigration enforcement or detention policies,” asserts Pablo Paez, executive vice president of corporate relations.

“We strongly dispute allegations related to the care provided at the ICE Processing Centers we manage. On a daily basis, our dedicated employees deliver high-quality services, including around-the-clock medical care, that comply with performance-based standards set by the federal government and adhere to guidelines set by leading third-party accreditation agencies. Our employees are proud of our record in managing ICE Processing Centers with high-quality, culturally responsive services in safe, secure and humane environments,” Paez added.

GEO Group was an early Moody backer, donating $3,000 in Oct. 2017. GEO gave $25,000 to the Friends of Ashley Moody political committee this month.

Florida Politics asked Shaw if that $28,000 was a big deal given the scale of campaign finance. He deemed it “significant money.”

Shaw would like to see an end to privatized prisons in the state entirely, even as he allows that the state prison system is underfunded and has issues of its own.

“The solution is not to outsource to a group that has the kind of history GEO Group has. The solution is to fund [the state prison system] adequately,” Shaw contended.

“Ashley has no experience when it comes to the budget process,” said Shaw, a state legislator from the Tampa area. “None.”

“She’s never protected a consumer before. She’s never helped someone that’s been price-gouged before. She’s never helped someone with a BP claim get the money they deserved. She’s never passed a bill, or gone before the Legislature to advocate for somebody before,” Shaw said.

“She sounds like she’d make a great State Attorney,” Shaw said.

Al Lawson bonds with Rick Scott over hurricane response

Gov. Rick Scott has messaged heavily in the Senate race, including an ad released Tuesday spotlighting his post-Michael storm recovery efforts.

However, a more effective testimonial came Tuesday evening, when Scott spotlighted a ringing endorsement of his storm management skills from Democratic U.S. Rep. Al Lawson.

Lawson, a first-term Democrat representing Florida’s 5th Congressional District, eschewed the rhetoric of partisan division and gave the Republican Governor high marks for his response to Hurricane Michael, continuing a trend of reliability.

“Every time there’s a threat of a natural disaster, a hurricane, the Governor’s been on top of it,” Lawson said.

“We will never know how many lives that he’s been responsible for saving,” Lawson added.

“The first thing you hear about is somebody dying in a hurricane. But just think: if it hadn’t been for his leadership, how many other people would be in the same situation,” Lawson asserted.

“When you’ve been around as long as I have, it’s very easy for you to understand people who take a proactive role in trying to preserve life,” Lawson added. “He’s done an excellent job … for many, many years.”

“It’s not about how much we get out of life, but how much we give, and he’s given a whole lot,” Lawson said.

Just as the Scott campaign’s ad Tuesday used news footage of storm recovery, it is very easy to imagine this footage circulating in the commercial sphere.

The Governor has a narrow lead in the most recent St. Pete Poll of the race, with respondents giving Scott’s storm response a net +40 favorability rating.

In contrast to recent weeks, where Scott’s official schedule would often be a void, the Governor is exhaustively documenting his days of storm recovery work, including frequent conversations with the Democrat who would replace him as Governor: Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.

Bill Nelson campaign charges Rick Scott with dodging voters

Since Hurricane Michael became an imminent threat and then made a catastrophic landfall last week, Gov. Rick Scott has been in emergency management mode.

That role, familiar for the two-term Republican governor, has insulated Scott from  campaign events and inconvenient questions from media about issues ranging from Donald Trump to his blind trust.

The Scott campaign has already teased the possibility of Scott no longer appearing on the trail at all, with his wife Ann Scott serving as a surrogate — of the sort who can’t be expected to answer policy questions.

However, contends Dan McLaughlin (an adviser and former spokesperson for Nelson), Scott leaving the trail is simply a “cynical attempt to avoid facing voters.”

“We’re not going to let Rick Scott hide from voters in the last three weeks of a major election — especially while he’s significantly increasing his negative TV attack ads,” McLaughlin vowed.

McLaughlin charges Scott with wiring $18 million of his own money for these ads, though it should be added that Scott has been adding positive messaging to the mix.

Piggybacking off an item in POLITICO Florida, McLaughlin noted that Scott “can’t campaign around the state without protesters; he can’t risk having to answer people’s questions directly; he can’t campaign across a state that’s plagued with red tide and green algae; he can’t campaign and answer questions on how he’s enriched himself in public office.”

McLaughlin bemoaned the rescheduling of a CNN debate from Oct. 16 to Oct. 30, describing it as “very late in the election,” and suggested a town hall … a format that the Governor likely wouldn’t prefer.

Nelson soon enough took to Twitter himself to slam Scott for a contrast/attack ad in which the Governor compared his storm relief work to Nelson’s negative campaigning. Below, just a few of the tweets from the afternoon.

Republicans were quick to pounce on what one op called a “bizarre Twitter rant.”

Camille Gallo, NRSC Regional Press Secretary: “Meanwhile, nobody seems to know where Senator Nelson even is today….  So, we have to ask, is everything ok over there?”

Gallo spotlighted “laughably claiming the Governor is hiding from voters” and “having ranted about the CNN debate being cancelled because of the storm, claiming he’d debate on October 22nd before voting starts…but Floridians have been able to vote by mail for weeks.”

Additionally, Gallo notes “Nelson doubled down on the ad his liberal pals are running for him that shamelessly mocks Governor Rick Scott’s military service.”

Sweet deal: Everglades Trust vouches for Ron DeSantis’ environmental record

Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis burnished his environmental credentials Tuesday, scoring an endorsement from the Everglades Trust.

At the same time, another enviro group accused him of trying to “greenwash himself.”

The Trust already had endorsed him in the primary over Adam Putnam, who they characterized as a pay-to-play agent of the sugar industry.

In contrast, DeSantis voted against sugar subsidies in Congress, and was targeted by millions of dollars of negative ads funded by the industry.

Everglades Trust Executive Director Kimberly Mitchell offered an extended statement of support for DeSantis, whom she characterized as a “hero” in the fight against “Big Sugar.”

“The tragic symptoms of a fatally-flawed water management system, kept broken to appease the sugar industry, are on full display for the world to see. Dead sea life and closed beaches on both coasts of Florida cannot be Florida’s new normal. And the days of the Everglades serving as a mere bullet point in an environmental platform should be over.

“The Everglades and coastal estuaries couldn’t care less about partisan politics, so the Trust doesn’t. They are in desperate need of a hero – and they found one in Ron DeSantis,” Mitchell said.

According to Mitchell, DeSantis “has a track record of standing up to an industry that is physically and politically blocking the reconnection of Lake Okeechobee to the Everglades – Big Sugar.

“Floridians have had enough of rhetoric and broken promises from our politicians. ‘I will stand up to the special interests,’ is what we’re told in an election year. Well, we now have a politician who has actually walked the walk and for the millions who depend on a healthy Everglades, and all the critters who call them home, it could not come soon enough,” Mitchell said.

The Everglades Trust endorsed Gwen Graham in the Democratic primary.

What’s clear: Gillum couldn’t make the sale once he got the nomination. And DeSantis had already closed the deal.

The Ponte Vedra Beach Republican doesn’t have unanimous environmentalist support, however.

Florida Conservation Voters noted that “DeSantis has a lifetime environmental score of 2 percent from the League of Conservation Voters (and) that number speaks for itself.”

“On every environmental issue, from protecting our waters and wetlands to acting on climate, he sides with polluters over people every time. Floridians shouldn’t be fooled by these recent attempts to greenwash himself. He can’t run away from his votes.”

New Rick Scott ad spotlights storm relief efforts

Gov. Rick Scott is dedicated largely to post-Michael recovery these days, and a new ad from his campaign is designed to remind voters of that fact.

“With the campaign nearly over, let’s take a behind the scenes peek at both candidates,” the narrator observes.

Scott is “leading hurricane recovery, directing relief efforts, and even housing state troopers in his own home.”

The aforementioned home is the Governor’s Mansion.

“And Sen. Nelson? Running false attack ads mocking Gov. Scott’s service in the Navy,” the narrator chides, calling it a “new low” and “dirty politics” from Nelson.

One tripwire for this spot: a third-party group (VoteVets) accusing Scott of using his familiar Navy ball cap for political optics while he “cheated” veterans, in an ad that got national coverage in outlets like Fox News.

Another tripwire: a senior Nelson campaign hand charging Scott with using storm recovery as a way to dodge voters and media on the campaign trail, while spending $18 million on ad buys … including negative ads targeted against the Democratic incumbent.

The Scott campaign decried all of this, somehow invoking the Senate Minority Leader in the process.

“Sen. Nelson and his Democratic Party boss Chuck Schumer have truly reached a new low by mocking the Governor’s military service. Considering that Schumer controls Nelson’s vote and is funding his campaign, it hardly comes as a surprise that Democrats have gotten this desperate. Regardless, while Nelson continues to play dirty politics, Governor Scott will continue to focus on leading hurricane recovery,” asserted Chris Hartline, Scott for Florida Spokesman.

To view the ad, click on the image below:

Central Florida Sheriffs slam ‘anti-police’ Andrew Gillum, back Ron DeSantis

A group of Republican Sheriffs from Central Florida endorsed Republican Ron DeSantis for Governor on Tuesday, spotlighting the alleged “anti-police” radicalism of Democrat Andrew Gillum in the bargain.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd distilled the pro-DeSantis case neatly: “When I looked at this election, I asked myself a simple question that every voter should ask themselves: Do you want a governor who is a decorated veteran and former prosecutor, or a governor who ignored pleas from police for more support and more officers while crime skyrocketed in his city?”

Seminole Sheriff Dennis Lemma echoed these themes: “Andrew Gillum’s Tallahassee has become the most dangerous city in Florida four-years in a row, that’s not the kind of record that deserves a promotion. His anti-law enforcement way of thinking has made it more dangerous for the people of Tallahassee.”

The Gillum camp disputes that characterization, a Republican staple. Leon County Sheriff Walt McNeil, a Democrat, noted that “violent crime is down 24 percent, and overall crime is down 10 percent with crime at a five-year low in Tallahassee.”

Brevard’s head lawman, Sheriff Wayne Ivey, said, “When I found out that Andrew Gillum pledged his allegiance to the ‘Freedom Papers,’ an anti-police manifesto from the Dream Defenders organization, I was appalled.

“I am tired of this rhetoric that demonizes our law enforcement officers. It makes the jobs of our deputies harder and more dangerous,” Ivey lamented.

(Worth noting: The Freedom Papers case extends beyond the police, with such insights as “billionaires use Florida as a playground because 20 million of us live on little to nothing.” The DeSantis campaign has already spotlighted the Dream Defenders in advertising.)

The other Sheriffs endorsing the candidate include: Carmine Marceno (Lee), Sheriff Al Nienhuis (Hernando), Sheriff Bill Farmer (Sumter), Sheriff Arnold Lanier (Hardee), Sheriff Steve Whidden (Hendry), Sheriff Wayne Padgett (Taylor), Sheriff Rick Staly (Flagler), and Sheriff Billy Woods (Marion).

Ahead of the primary, Adam Putnam was the runaway choice of most Sheriffs and police unions. Since late August, however, their support has largely (with the exception of a handful of Democratic Sheriffs) fallen in behind DeSantis.

For his part, DeSantis sounded like Gov. Rick Scott when accepting the lawman backing.

 “I am proud to have the support of this group of Florida’s finest here today, along with the support of law enforcement officers from across this state. There is nothing more fundamental to the job of the next governor than ensuring safety for our residents and our visitors. And as I stand here today, I stand where I will as governor, next to our law enforcement and in support of them,” DeSantis vowed.

“Crime is currently at a 47-year low thanks to these Sheriffs and the work of law enforcement officers from across the state who are on the front lines. However, they don’t just need our praise, they need support, they need resources, and they need a governor who will stand alongside them at every turn. So, while I am honored to have their support, I want to take this opportunity to restate my commitment to them and to ensuring Florida has the safest, most well-enforced communities in the country,” DeSantis added.

Marco Rubio, Puerto Rican legislator pitch for Ron DeSantis in Spanish-language ads

Florida Republicans released a trio of Spanish-language ads Tuesday on behalf of Gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis.

These spots will air in the Tampa, Orlando, and Miami markets.

Making the pitches, produced by the Republican Party of Florida, are two prominent Hispanic leaders: U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and Puerto Rican Congresswoman Jenniffer González-Colón.

Rubio actually cut two spots, with the Congresswoman picking up the third.

One Rubio pitch was soft-focus and positive, with Rubio maintaining DeSantis “understands the importance of the state helping your family prosper.”

“DeSantis is a veteran of the Iraq War with a clear vision, and I know he will be a great governor. Do not let others decide the well-being (or welfare) of our families,” Rubio said.

In his second spot, Rubio made a more express appeal to the base, warning of “special interests from the extreme left, that are not from our state, spending millions of dollars in the governor’s campaign race.”

“They are looking to force their agenda which goes against the interest of our families here. Ron DeSantis is standing up to them. As a veteran,” Rubio maintains, “DeSantis understands the importance of families having an opportunity to prosper. But he can’t accomplish this alone. That’s why it’s important that you vote. Don’t let others decide for you!”

González-Colón, meanwhile, affirmed DeSantis’ credentials.

“Elections are to choose who will work for you. That is, Ron DeSantis. A War Veteran. An Effective legislator. A Believer in equality. He looks out for our community. I know this first hand. Because in Congress he has been one of our best allies. Giving support and efforts for our recovery. DeSantis is approved, I know him. We have worked together for Puerto Rico. That’s why today, I am asking you to vote Ron DeSantis for Governor,” the Congresswoman said.

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