A.G. Gancarski, Author at Florida Politics - Page 4 of 534

A.G. Gancarski

Randy DeFoor pads coffers in Jacksonville City Council bid

In the race to succeed Republican Jim Love on the Jacksonville City Council, Love’s fellow Republican Randy DeFoor expanded her cash on hand lead after September receipts.

But in what could be a preview of a runoff election, Democrat Sunny Gettinger is keeping pace.

As of the end of September, DeFoor had roughly $157,000 on hand between her campaign account and her Safe and Prosperous Jacksonville political committee.

DeFoor brought in $10,050 of new money to the campaign account, and an additional $5,000 to her political committee.

First Coast Energy was the big donor this cycle; its CEO Aubrey Edge is a supporter of Mayor Lenny Curry, and DeFoor is aligned with that political operation.

Gettinger, meanwhile, saw declining receipts for the fourth straight month. Her September haul of $4,245 was the slowest month of her campaign, giving her over $96,000 on hand.

Her key donors last month included connected local businessman Walt Bussells and Jon Heymann, the longtime leader of the Jacksonville Children’s Commission.

DeFoor and Gettinger are better positioned financially than the two male candidates in the race, who have yet to report September numbers.

Republican Henry Mooneyhan had roughly $12,000 on hand at the end of August. Democrat Jimmy Peluso had roughly $36,000 at his disposal.

Jacksonville municipal races see a first election in March. If no one wins that blanket primary with a majority, the top two finishers move on, regardless of party, to the May general election.

Bring hurricane relief items to campaign stops, Ron DeSantis asks

Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis isn’t leaving the campaign trail despite Hurricane Michael approaching the Panhandle.

However, he will be using his upcoming events on the peninsula to marshal supplies from supporters for the storm-impacted, as the barometer drops and the October Surprise of this campaign becomes ever more imminent.

At events in Tampa on Tuesday, as well as Jacksonville and Orlando Wednesday, DeSantis will be collecting supplies at what are being billed as “regional veterans’ events” by the campaign.

“The DeSantis Regional Veterans Events will be refocused to also collect supplies, including toiletries, food, batteries, and more, in order to assist those Floridians impacted by the storm,” the campaign asserted Tuesday.

The DeSantis campaign/hurricane relief swing comes at a time when his opponent, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, will be under scrutiny for management of the city during the storm and its aftermath.

Hurricane Hermine of 2016 has proven fateful for Gillum. Ads on the air have spotlighted Tallahassee’s delay in using non-union power restoration resources, as part of a portfolio of attacks on Gillum’s mayoralty.

In 2016, as power restoration delays mounted, the candidate admitted that “I know we made mistakes — I can’t name them all right now — but we’re working really, really hard.”

Gillum will be under a national spotlight. And Ron DeSantis will be waiting in the wings to establish contrast.

Jacksonville fulfills terms of DOJ disability rights settlement

After over five years of work by the City of Jacksonville to meet Americans with Disabilities Act goals, the city got the all-clear from the Department of Justice on Friday.

The DOJ Civil Rights division wrote city officials, noting that the city had fulfilled the terms of its voluntary, pre-litigative Project Civic Access agreement.

The agreement, per a 2013 post by the Justice Department, was wide-ranging:

“During the compliance review, the Department reviewed 64 of the city’s facilities. The agreement requires the city to correct deficiencies identified at the 64 facilities and requires Jacksonville to review and correct identified deficiencies at hundreds of additional facilities.”

Those facilities had all been built or modified since 1992, and included libraries, community and senior centers, a boat ramp, fire stations, athletic fields and sports complexes, City Hall, parks, the Jacksonville Zoo, detention and corrections facilities, parking garages, and polling places.

The city had to improve accessibility, ranging from parking to drinking fountains.

Efforts for Braille and sign-language translations and translators likewise were mandated. Barriers at polling places and to emergency services likewise had to be removed, and sidewalks and other public infrastructure required work also.

There could be other issues not addressed in the 2013 agreement, per the Justice Department, which stresses that closing the agreement does not mean the city is perfectly compliant.

Florida TaxWatch on Amendments: No on 1, Yes on 2

A simple message emerged from Florida TaxWatch on a Monday media call regarding two amendments backed by the Florida Legislature.

No on 1. Yes on 2.

The watchdog group opposes Amendment 1, which would increase the homestead exemption by $25,000 to $125,000, asserting that the proposal penalizes everyone and benefits a few people.

Amendment 2, which would permanently extend a cap of 10 percent on yearly increases of property taxes on parcels and structures without a homestead exemption, is more agreeable, however. TaxWatch supports Amendment 2, which would extend a ten-year-old cap approved by voters by referendum in 2008.

TaxWatch President and CEO Dominic M. Calabro said Amendment 1 was not “real tax reform,” but a “tax shift.”

“Many municipalities and counties are already increasing their millage rates to offset if this amendment should pass,” Calabro warned.

“Homes valued $100,000,” Calabro noted, could even feel a “tax bite.”

Regarding Amendment 2, Calabro noted that if the amendment fails, renters and property owners alike could feel the impact.

“Non-homesteaded property will suddenly be assessed at full market value,” Calabro warned, noting that that Florida League of Cities and Association of Counties also support this measure.

“The only way to avoid a massive property tax increase is to vote Yes on Amendment 2,” Calabro said, affirming that the amendment would maintain the status quo.

Amendments require 60 percent support to pass. These both appear to be on track.

Per a Florida Chamber of Commerce poll released earlier this month, Amendment 1 is poised to pass, polling at 60 percent, with the rest opposed or unsure. Amendment 2 has the support of 50 percent of voters surveyed, while another 25 percent plan to vote against the measure and 24 percent remain unsure.

Pharma concerns power Clay Yarborough fundraising

Freshmen Jacksonville-area Republican state Rep. Clay Yarborough continued to maintain a strong cash lead over his Democratic challenger as September ended.

Yarborough, running in Southside Jacksonville’s Republican-plurality House District 12, brought in $6,000 between Sept. 15 and 28.

Of that haul, $4,000 came from the biggest companies in Big Pharma: Eli LillyBristol Myers SquibbPfizer and Astrazeneca all cut the Arlington Republican checks.

All told, he has raised $171,225 and has $103,918 of that on hand.

Yarborough faces Democrat Tim Yost, who raised $610 in the same period. All told, Yost has $11,225 on hand of the $17,558 he has raised.

Yarborough made news last week for becoming the regional head of the Yes on 3 campaign, designed to make expansions of casino gambling contingent on citizen referendums.

Aaron Bean beefs up cash lead in re-election bid

Republican state Sen. Aaron Bean, whose Senate District 4 encompasses all of Nassau and part of Duval County, continued to pad his campaign account during the last full week of September receipts.

From Sept. 15-28, Bean raised $22,200 between his campaign account and that of his political committee, Florida Conservative Alliance.

Among the donors on the committee side: Florida Blue and the Florida Pharmacist Political Committee.

The campaign account donors included Southern Gardens Citrus, U.S. Sugar, and Comcast.

Bean has $89,908 in the committee account and $107,567 in the campaign account, giving him $197,475 to work with during the campaign stretch run.

Bean maintains comfortable leads over his opponents. Democrat Billee Bussard has $6,558 on hand after raising $5,760 in the same two week period. Libertarian Joanna Tavares does not fundraise and has roughly $40 on hand.

The district is nearly half Republican. With just over 360,381 registered voters, 174,580 Republicans and 100,307 Democrats call SD 4 home. The remaining voters are either NPA or third party, including 1,466 registered Libertarians.

Bean last faced a competitive general election in 2012, when he defeated former Ambassador Nancy Soderberg 62 percent to 38 percent.

Cord Byrd expands cash lead in HD 11 re-election bid

Freshman Jacksonville-area Republican state Rep. Cord Byrd continued to maintain strong cash leads over his Democratic challenger as September closed.

Byrd, whose majority-Republican House District 11 includes coastal Duval and all of Nassau County, brought in $8,100 of new money between Sept. 15 and 28, pushing his campaign account over $49,000 on hand. Comcast and Duke Energy PAC were among the $1,000 donors.

Byrd also has over $10,000 in his 1845 political committee.

His general election opponent, Nathcelly Rohrbaugh, mostly kept pace with Byrd when it came to late September receipts, bringing in $4,442 of new money, pushing his campaign account over $16,000 on hand.

Labor money, including from a Sheet Metal Workers local and the North Florida Central Labor Council, added to Rohrbaugh’s haul.

Money momentum for Jim Overton in Duval Tax Collector bid

As September ended, a familiar narrative continued.

Republican Jim Overton maintained his lead in the money race with Democrat Mia Jones for Duval County Tax Collector — even though she was the choice of almost 47 percent of voters in the August blanket primary.

The latest filings to the Duval County Supervisor of Elections run through Sept. 28.

Overton (a former City Councilman and Property Appraiser) now has over $43,000 on hand after raising $16,034 in the two weeks leading up to the 28th.

Among the latest donors: Peter Rummell, the Jacksonville developer closely aligned with Jacksonville Mayor Lenny CurryHans Tanzler; and a couple of entities associated with Jacksonville Landing developer Toney Sleiman, currently feuding with Mayor Curry.

Jones was less productive during the Sept. 15 to 28 timeframe, raising just $3,835 and giving her nearly $20,000 on hand. Prominent backers include the AFSCME union and local trial lawyer Wayne Hogan.

Democrats enjoy a registration advantage in Duval County. Of the just over 600,000 registered voters, 244,542 are Democrats, compared to 219,850 Republicans.

However, that advantage doesn’t translate to wins in citywide races. All constitutional officers in Duval County are currently Republicans.

Despite being new to HD 15, Tracye Polson says she knows what drives voters

The general election race to replace outgoing state Rep. Jay Fant in Jacksonville’s House District 15 is beginning to heat up, with a pattern established last week.

Democrat Tracye Polson is determined to push back against what she sees as narrative distortions and distractions from the campaign of Republican opponent Wyman Duggan.

One such example: challenging Duggan to a debate, in the wake of a pyrotechnic attack ad that linked Polson to Resistance protesters, with stock footage of a flag burner catching the Democrat’s ire.

The ad said Polson is “with them, not with us.”

In that context, Florida Politics has learned of the second line of attack being mulled by the Duggan campaign, one focusing on Polson being a recent arrival to House District 15, a group of deep-rooted communities ranging from Riverside, Avondale, and Ortega to the more bucolic stretches of Jacksonville’s Westside.

The contrast would be implicit, between the deeply rooted Duggan and Polson, a candidate who moved to the district much more recently, according to voter registration records.

Polson registered in HD 15 in November 2016, records show. Before that, she was a registered voter in St. Johns County.

We asked Polson about this potential issue, and she framed it as yet another distraction put forth by the Republican campaign to distract from his career as a lobbyist.

“My opponent, career lobbyist Wyman Duggan is running a negative campaign — full of distortions, and without substance or proper attention to the issues that matter most to the voters I’ve been speaking with since Veterans Day of 2017,” Polson asserted.

“I have lived in the Jacksonville area for over eight years and I was thrilled to buy my home in District 15 in 2014. After first living in Atlantic Beach and then Ponte Vedra Beach, I chose my home in Avondale with care and love living here,” Polson added.

We asked Polson straight up: Should voters care about this issue, which seems likely to be part of a future mailpiece?

“I don’t tell voters what they should care about. I’ve been listening to them tell me what keeps them up at night as I started knocking on the doors of Republicans, Democrats, and NPA voters,” Polson asserted.

“More than one teacher told me that they care about public education and how they have to work more than one job and spend their own money on classroom materials and food for their students. They care about health care — one woman told me she had been diagnosed with cancer, and then after losing her health insurance, she told herself it was probably nothing. They care about gun violence in schools, opioid overdoses, and taking care of our veterans,” Polson said.

“More than one man told me they care about good jobs that pay a living wage and the flooding that has occurred in their streets,” Polson related.

“I promise to be their State Representative who will fully represent them and their families and keep in communication with them about what is happening in Tallahassee. I think they have a right to know that my opponent is a career lobbyist who has worked against the people of District 15, not for them,” Polson asserted.

“I don’t claim to be an expert on all issues. But I’ve had lengthy conversations with Jacksonville community leaders, attending meetings, visiting churches, reading and studying and most of all listening to people all across District 15. My team and I have knocked on more than 15,000 doors to learn what matters most to moms, dads, active military and veterans, teachers, factory workers, and retired voters,” Polson said.

“Several of my key endorsers have stated clearly that my diligence in studying the issues — and my openness to learn still more, including perspectives from all parties, was critical to earning their support,” Polson added.

Indeed, Polson has scored key endorsements, including from former mayoral candidate Audrey Moran (a Republican), as well as from the nonpartisan Fraternal Order of Police and Jacksonville Association of Fire Fighters locals.

Duggan, meanwhile, is starting to rebuild his campaign war chest, raising more than$56,000 between Sept. 15 and 28 between his campaign account and that of his political committee.

All told, he has roughly $82,000 on hand, a number that is still behind the Polson campaign, which had as of its most recent campaign account and committee filings roughly $123,036 on hand after having raised and self-financed about $125,000 during the same period.

Polson is spending big on television, and her ability to finance her own campaign has gotten her into the game. The next four weeks will show if her campaign can go toe to toe with a Republican machine with deep tentacles into GOP power structures in Jacksonville and Tallahassee both.

Race to replace Ron DeSantis in Congress a sprint to the center

The race to replace Ron DeSantis in Congress is on, and it’s looking more like a race to the center between two former White House staffers as the 30-day mark before the primary approaches.

“Let’s bring the warring parties together and get things done,” asserted Democrat Nancy Soderberg early in a debate televised last week on WESH TV.

Soderberg, who won her primary in August with more than 55 percent of the vote, worked in former President Bill Clinton’s administration on the National Security Council and as Ambassador to the United Nations.

Those roles brought her high-profile endorsements, including from former colleagues like Paul Begala and from former President Barack Obama.

The latter endorsement, a boon in the sense of national visibility, became a talking point for Republican Mike Waltz (who won his own primary with 42 percent of the vote) during their debate.

“This choice is about America moving forward,” between “individual liberty” and a “government that piles on regulation and taxes,” Waltz (a former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney) said, framing the debate before at least once conflating the name Nancy Soderberg with Nancy Pelosi and reminding CD 6 voters that Obama endorsed his fellow Democrat.

“In the [Obama] administration, the military really floundered … their funding was cut year over year … incredibly restrictive rules of engagement,” Waltz chided.

“This President and this Administration have reasserted American leadership,” Waltz said, framing that as necessary given the problems established by the Obama and Clinton administrations. “It may be unconventional what he’s trying to do, but heck, what [was done] for the last 35 years didn’t work.”

Soderberg identified foreign policy affinities with the Trump administration, including moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, advocating the “two-state solution,” and the “new NAFTA accord.”

“I believe the President is fighting for American interests abroad in a way that is unconventional for sure, but I wish him well in that,” Soderberg said, trying to pivot the debate midway through to a major campaign talking point for her: a Republican health care plan that would be bad for people with pre-existing conditions.

Waltz said he opposed any plan to limit coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, before saying “Obamacare has been a failure.”

“You need to stop distorting my positions,” the Democrat protested.

Just as Soderberg didn’t want to get identified with the Washington left (including going so far as to say she wouldn’t vote for Pelosi for party leader), Waltz (despite the historic GOP lean in the district, which went with President Trump in 2016), realizes that post-primary base appeals come with diminishing returns.

As POLITICO Florida reported Thursday night, Waltz rebuffed an invitation from President Donald Trump to rally for him in his district. A Trump fundraiser was more agreeable to the candidate, but that fell through also.

For Waltz, a candidate pilloried during the primary for being #NeverTrump, the chance to hit the reset button wasn’t worth the optics of the rally. A fundraiser closed to the press was worth the risk, in no small part because Soderberg has already raised more than $2 million, a number Waltz’s team realizes it can’t match.

A rally though, with potentially pyrotechnic quotes? Not worth it given the dynamics of this contest, very much a swing race at this point.

CD 6 is a Republican-leaning seat, a Daytona-centric district that hugs the Atlantic Coast, including territory in St. Johns, Flagler, Volusia, and Lake counties.

The 2016 race between DeSantis and Democrat Bill McCullough was not competitive, with DeSantis winning by 17 percentage points.

This one should be closer.

A survey from St. Pete Polls released Sept. 20 revealed just a five-point lead for Waltz.

Both candidates are consolidating support within their respective parties. Soderberg is the choice of 74 percent of Democrats, Waltz of 76 percent of Republicans. Independents skew slightly to Soderberg (46-43).

However, with the district showing a strong GOP plurality (205,633 Republicans, compared to 177,345 Democrats and 152,330 independents), these results suggest Soderberg will need to further strengthen her appeal to independents to make up for the realities of party loyalty.

She has the resources to do so. DeSantis, according to Soderberg polling, was underwater in his district when he resigned. And yet, despite running a textbook centrist campaign, Soderberg may find the lean of the district proves prohibitive.

Consultants on both sides bring the spin. Those close to the Waltz campaign paint a picture of Soderberg burning through hundreds of thousands of dollars on TV yet not moving polls. Those close to Team Soderberg counter that Waltz isn’t communicating with voters and use phrases like “campaign in crisis” to describe the Republican effort.

New polls and Q3 fundraising reports will soon enough paint a picture of the race that is less impressionistic and more realistic.

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