Danny McAuliffe, Author at Florida Politics

Danny McAuliffe

Bernie Sanders to join Andrew Gillum for Tampa, Orlando rallies

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders is coming to Florida to campaign for Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Andrew Gillum.

The Gillum campaign announced late Tuesday that the Senator from Vermont will join Gillum at two rallies on Friday — less than two weeks away from the Aug. 28 primary.

The first of the rallies is set to take place in Tampa, where Sanders and Gillum will speak to voters at 11 a.m. in Armature Works — Gathering Room. In the afternoon, the two will head to Orlando for a 2 p.m. rally at the CFE Arena at UCF.

Sanders endorsed Gillum at the beginning of the month, christening him as the progressive option for Florida voters.

“As governor, Andrew Gillum will work to provide health care for all through a Medicare-for-All program, raise the minimum wage to a living wage, invest in sustainable energy, improve education, make sure the wealthiest corporations pay their fair share of taxes, and be welcoming to immigrants,” Sanders said then.

With respect to the Democratic field, Gillum faces former Congresswoman Gwen Graham, billionaire investor Jeff Greene, former Mayor of Miami Beach Philip Levine and Orlando businessman Chris King. Most recent polls have shown Gillum trailing Graham, Levine, and Greene, though a large swath of likely Democratic voters still haven’t picked their candidate yet, according to the same polls.

Whether a rally could give the Tallahassee Mayor the much-needed boost is unknown.

On the Republican side, candidates Adam Putnam, the Agriculture Commissioner, and Ron DeSantis, the Congressman from Ponte Vedra, were “virtually tied,” according to a Florida Chamber poll in July.

But that was before President Donald Trump endorsed DeSantis on Twitter (for the second time) and came to Tampa to rally on the Congressman’s behalf. Now DeSantis appears to be firmly in the lead in the Republican primary.

Trump, however, is battle-tested against Florida’s electorate. He captured 45 percent of the party’s vote in the Republican primary in 2016. Sanders, in the same primary, lost to Hillary Clinton, who captured more than 64 percent of Democratic votes.

Cabinet approves latest conservation easement

The Florida Cabinet is moving forward with the purchase of a large parcel of land in Highlands County to ensure its preservation.

On Tuesday, Gov. Rick Scott and Cabinet members Attorney General Pam Bondi, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam authorized the $5,528,250 buy of the specified 2,457 acres of ranchland, known as the Sandy Gully property. 

Funding from the state Rural and Family Lands Protection program will be used to cover the cost of the purchase. Known as a conservation easement, the buy allows agricultural operations to continue on the Sandy Gully property but restricts future development. A potential federal grant totaling $3,312,500 could help offset that cost.

Sandy Gully is a cow/calf operation. Hay and timber production are secondary operations. A former dairy farm, it shifted focus to cattle in 2002, and now run anywhere from 650 to 700 heads of cattle, according to documents from the Department of Environmental Protection.

Species of black bear and gopher tortoise — both considered rare — have been present on the property. In the past, the owners of the land also have identified sightings of sandhill cranes, bald eagles, Sherman’s fox squirrels, eastern indigo snakes, gopher tortoises and Florida panthers.

Justifying the purchase, the state believes the property could serve as a pathway for animals in between two nearby parks.

“What’s really key about [Sandy Gully] is it’s sandwiched between the Highlands County Sun N Lake Preserve and the Highlands Hammock State Park,” DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein noted to the Cabinet. “[The land] will be a pretty good corridor for the wildlife that moves along the ranch.”

As well, the Sandy Gully property is integral to some of the area’s wetland systems, according to DEP documents.

Valenstein noted to the Cabinet that the state has purchased 46 conservation easements with the addition of Sandy Gully. In total, 53,121 acres have now been preserved under the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program since its creation in 2001. 

Red tide prompts state of emergency

Florida is now in a state of emergency over the impacts of red tide, a colloquialism used to describe the harmful algal blooms plaguing Florida’s Gulf Coast.

Gov. Rick Scott issued the executive order declaring the state of emergency on Monday.

“As Southwest Florida and the Tampa Bay area continues to feel the devastating impacts of red tide, we will continue taking an aggressive approach by using all available resources to help our local communities,” Scott said in a prepared statement. “Today, I am issuing an emergency declaration to provide significant funding and resources to the communities experiencing red tide so we can combat its terrible impacts.”

The order extends to Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota, Manatee, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

Accompanying the emergency declaration is a “significant amount of funding” and “resources,” according to Scott’s office. Part of the order provides for additional biologists with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to “assist in clean-up and animal rescue efforts.”

As well, Scott is directing more than $100,000 to Mote Marine Laboratory, which on Monday conducted a dolphin-rescue mission.

The state’s tourism-marketing agency, VISIT Florida, also is getting $500,000 to administer an emergency grant program to help small businesses in local communities that depend at least in some part on business from visitors.

This year’s red tide crisis has attracted national attention.

Lee County, home to Fort Myers and Cape Coral, also will receive $900,000 in grant funding for cleanup projects related to red tide, Scott announced.

“While we fight to learn more about this naturally-occurring phenomenon, we will continue to deploy all state resources and do everything possible to make sure that Gulf Coast residents are safe and area businesses can recover,” added Scott.

A series of other changes in agencies are in effect.

FWC, now operating under the emergency declaration, has waived rules — like bag sizes and limits —  “to expedite the removal of dead fish,” according to Scott’s office.

The Department of Environmental Protection will continue “to perform enhanced water testing, beach cleanup and public outreach, as well as the deployment of additional biologists to assist communities dealing with naturally occurring red tide.”

County health departments, according to Scott’s office, are actively posting signage warning beachgoers and boaters of red tide-affected areas.

Rick Wilson to come home for book signing at Tallahassee’s Midtown Reader

He’s untamed, intelligent and ferociously critical of President Donald Trump.

And, if you’re in the capital city, he’s coming to a bookstore near you.

GOP strategist Rick Wilson from 6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. on Thursday will be at Midtown Reader in Tallahassee to read from, discuss details and sign copies of his new non-fiction work, “Everything Trump Touches Dies.”

Wilson, a regular guest for cable news and radio broadcast networks who is known for his fiery rhetoric, could attract a large crowd. 

Sally Bradshaw, owner and operator of the Midtown Reader, told us, “based on feedback, we’re expecting it to be a crowded event.”

Calling Wilson “bright, clever and provocative,” Bradshaw said his popularity transcends the political spectrum because he’s a “truth teller.” An unusual number of calls have come into the store to hold copies of the book ahead of the August 16 signing event, she added. As of publishing, nearly 50 people already have RSVPd to the free event on Facebook, with more than 150 others indicating interest.

Midtown Reader, a quaint Thomasville Road locale that’s just a short drive from the Capitol, is an independent general subject bookstore that boasts a wide variety of political books, along with works from other genres, on its shelves. 

It’s accustomed to holding political guests, too. Sen. George Lemieux, former Gov. Jeb Bush and former Gov. Bob Graham (also a former Senator) all have stopped by to speak in the past 18 months. 

A Tallahassee resident, the event could be a homecoming of sorts for Wilson, as he’s been busy racking up national media appearances.

Released Tuesday, “Everything Trump Touches Dies: A Republican Strategist Gets Real About the Worst President Ever” is a comprehensive and disparaging dissection of American politics in the age of Trump as told by a lifelong conservative, prolific Republican ad man and early leader of the ‘Never Trump’ movement. 

A very transparent critic of the President and his fans, Wilson’s prose unloads on the alt-right activists who emerged from the woodwork to support the President, as well as fellow conservatives who Wilson believes turned a blind eye as Trump rose to power.

In reviewing the book for Chicago Tribune, Rex Huppke writes, “At a time when honesty and integrity were as gone as the dodo in politics, Rick demonstrated both.

“And he and his band of Never Trumpers fought mightily to remind Americans what it actually means to be a conservative.”

Just a day after the release, the book shot to #5 on Amazon’s Best Seller list and is currently holding strong around the #10 spot.

Final votes recorded for failed ‘Stand Your Ground’ session

A Democratic push to reconvene state legislators for a special session on the state’s controversial ‘Stand Your Ground’ law is dead.

Although doomed Thursday night, when it became clear that the three-fifths support threshold could not be met, lawmakers had until noon Friday to go on record with their support or opposition to the special session.

Between the state House and Senate, 77 members voted against the idea, with 48 voting in support. Thirty-one members did not respond to the poll, nor confirm receipt, according to data recorded by the Florida Department of State. 

To spawn a special session, 70 members in the House and 24 members in Senate would have needed to vote favorably. In the House, just 33 members voted ‘yes,’ with 15 doing the same in the Senate.

The special session request follows the shooting death of Markeis McGlockton in the parking lot of a Clearwater convenience store. Pinellas County law enforcement did not pursue charges against the shooter, saying he acted within the state’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law.

Outraged, Democratic members called for lawmakers to be polled on whether they should return to Tallahassee during the lawmaking offseason to revisit the law.

In the Senate, results split across party lines, with all ‘yes’ votes belonging to Democrats and all ‘no’ votes belonging to Republicans. In total, 19 senators voted against a special session and 14 voted in support.

Results tracked along party lines, with a few notable exceptions — and absences.

Republican Sens. Keith Perry, Tom Lee, Rene Garcia and Anitere Flores did not vote, nor did they acknowledge receipt of the poll. Garcia and Flores, of South Florida, have diverted from Republican leadership on gun issues in the past. In March, the two senators voted alongside Democrats in favor of an assault weapons ban.

Orlando Democratic Sen. Linda Stewart also did not cast a vote on the session nor confirm receipt of the poll.

Democratic Reps. Bruce Antone and Katie EdwardsWalpole sided with Republicans in opting not to return to Tallahassee, and Republican Rep. Shawn Harrison cast the single ‘yes’ vote from his party in the chamber.

Among Republicans in the House who did not vote nor confirm receipt of the poll: Republican Reps. Bryan Avila, Michael Bileca, Colleen Burton, Manny Diaz, Byron Donalds, Dane Eagle, Jay Fant, Tom Leek, Amber Mariano, Larry Metz, Mike Miller, Jose Oliva, Cary Pigman, Holly Raschein, Rick Roth, Ross Spano, Cyndi Stevenson and Jackie Toledo.

On the Democratic side, Reps. Matt Willhite, Emily Slosberg, Barrington Russell, Jared Moskowitz, Larry Lee, Jr., and Al Jacquet did not vote nor confirm receipt.

Florida NOW calls on Jeff Greene to drop out

Just hours after a five-year-old police report surfaced describing Jeff Greene smacking a waitress on the arm to get her attention, the Florida chapter of the National Organization for Women is calling on the Palm Beach billionaire to drop his bid for the Governor’s Mansion.

“This type of assault is rooted in power imbalance, and so it’s unfortunately not surprising that a billionaire like Jeff Greene victimized a female employee,” Terry Sanders, Florida NOW president, said in a prepared statement late Thursday evening. “It was incredibly brave of her to report the assault, and we stand with her.”

“Jeff Greene should immediately drop out of the race,” reads an accompanying news release.

The incident described, first reported by CBS Miami, relates to a December 2012 encounter between Greene and then-24-year-old cocktail waitress Lisa Ann Thomas.

Thomas worked at Greene’s Omphoy Beach Resort in West Palm Beach and filed a police report, telling authorities then that Greene “smacked her on the arm” and told her to “turn down the music,” according to the report.

Thomas told the officer filling out the report that she did not suffer injuries and did not feel Greene intended to hurt her. She did not pursue charges against Greene, according to the report.

Citing the #MeToo movement and recent related efforts that exposed a number of high-profile men who have abused their power to undermine and sexually exploit women, Sanders charged that the report is an example of “assault.”

“Now, more than ever, we need to listen to survivors, respond quickly and decisively to reports of abuse, and hold abusers accountable,” Sanders said. “Women in Florida have had enough of men taking advantage of us.”

Greene’s campaign provided the following statement to CBS before the outlet published the story:

“It’s unfortunate that the Republicans are bringing such a non-story into the political bloodstream in an attempt to weaken Jeff’s campaign. As can be read in the police report, this is simply a case of an employee having a bad day.

“Jeff was having dinner with his wife and children three days after Christmas. The music was loud and the guests at the next table were having a hard time getting the staff’s attention to ask them to turn down the volume.

“As the owner of the hotel, Jeff walked up to the former employee, tapped her on the arm, and asked her to turn down the volume. As you can read in the report, the former employee was ‘offended’ by Jeff’s actions – but did not have any injuries, did not think he intended to physically hurt her, and confirmed that no fighting words were spoken.

“Jeff wishes this former employee all the best.”

Greene campaign spokeswoman Claire VanSusteren told CBS that Thomas did not obtain a related legal settlement. Thomas quit her job after the incident.

VanSusteren, via Twitter, also responded to news of Sanders calling on Greene to drop out of the race. VanSusteren claims Sanders told her Florida NOW is acting in retaliation to Greene attacking Democratic opponent Gwen Graham‘s “record.” Sanders denied VanSusteren’s claim.

Graham is the only woman in the race. Florida NOW has not endorsed in the Democratic primary for Governor. But Sanders, according to campaign finance records, donated $100 to Graham in June.

“Just spoke with Terry & expressed my disappointment that she is politicizing this report – which the employee wanted to be kept private,” VanSusteren tweeted. “She essentially expressed this was a tit for tat because she was upset about Jeff’s ads on Graham’s record. Welcome to politics, folks.”

According to Sanders, that “totally did not happen.”

“This is about women being silenced,” added Sanders. “This woman [Thomas] quit her job over the attack … women are being silenced and told “‘don’t make a fuss, he’s the boss.’”

Also criticizing Greene is Unite Here, a union for service industry workers that has endorsed Democratic candidate for Governor Philip Levine.

“It would be a shame if that’s how [Greene] thinks about people he wants [to] vote for him,” tweeted the Unite Here account.

Rick Scott staffer takes impromptu meeting with Andrew Gillum, clergymen on ‘Stand Your Ground’

What began as an intimate protest at a church in Tallahassee over the state’s controversial ‘Stand Your Ground’ law turned into a small march to the capitol and a subsequent meeting between a senior member of Gov. Rick Scott’s staff and some of the state’s high profile critics of race relations and gun violence, including Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Andrew Gillum.

At Bethel Baptist Church, just blocks from the Capitol, Gillum, Congressman Al Lawson, local clergymen and Attorney Ben Crump criticized the state’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law, charging, among other things, that the law is unjust and unfairly applied against minorities.

Shortly afterward, Gillum, Crump and Reverends Dr. R.B. Holmes, Julius Harrison McAllister, Jr., and George Proctor, Jr. led a residual group from the church to Gov. Scott’s Capitol office.

A staffer at the entrance informed the group that Scott is in Colombia. This was later confirmed by Scott’s spokesman.

In Scott’s absence, the group requested a representative from Scott’s staff. At one point, Holmes reminded the receptionist that he served as vice chair of the Governor’s Task Force on Citizen Safety and Protection, launched after the death of Trayvon Martin. Gillum, eager to meet with a member of Scott’s staff, called the Governor’s cell phone number, eventually speaking with an unnamed spokesman. No promises were made and as media left, Gillum and the clergymen sat in the entrance.

McKinley Lewis, Scott’s deputy communications director, told Florida Politics later that Jack Heekin, the Governor’s deputy chief of staff, took a meeting with Gillum, Holmes and two others. 

According to a news release that followed the Wednesday afternoon meeting, Gillum demanded that Scott contact the McGlockton family and Jacobs, consider declaring a State of Emergency over the ‘Stand Your Ground’ provision and convene a statewide clergy to “discuss the dangerous racial implications” of the controversial law.

The rally and march were some of a few to follow in the wake of the fatal shooting of Markeis McGlockton last month in Clearwater and local Sheriff Bob Gualtieri’s decision to not pursue charges because he believes the shooter acted within the boundaries of the state’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ self-defense law.

Joining the faith and government leaders at the church were members of the McGlockton family, as well as Britany Jacobs, McGlockton’s girlfriend. Together they had three young children.

“I’m still going to stand up and I’m still going to fight for what is right,” Jacobs told the small group of people gathered in the church. “My man was right. Markeis was right — he was just protecting us.”

Crump, joined by Clearwater Attorney Michele Rayner, spoke disparagingly of the defense used to justify shooting McGlockton. The two are representing Jacobs and seeking criminal punishment of Michael Drejka, who shot McGlockton. Crump related the case to the 2012 shooting of Trayvon Martin. He likened Drejka to Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman, by dubbing both “self-appointed, wannabe cops.” Crump also represented Martin.

In both cases, Crump charged, “if they just called the police, this never would’ve happened.” Much of the discussion at the church highlighted that Drejka is white and McGlockton is black.

“Can you imagine if the dynamics were reversed,” Crump asked rhetorically, “and there was a white woman sitting in her car with her two children and a black man like Markeis McGlockton came up to some stranger yelling, screaming and cursing at that white mother?

“And the white father came out to defend his family, to defend his property,” Crump continued, “And the black, strange man shot the father who was defending his family …  Does anybody believe the police would not have arrested him on the spot?

He added: That’s “if he had not been executed in that convenience store parking lot.”

Gillum, while at the church, renewed his call for Gov. Scott to declare a State of Emergency over the law, and reminded the audience that if he were elected to Governor, he’d suspend the law immediately.

The ‘Stand Your Ground’ provision “allows vigilantes under the cover of the law to become judge jury and executioner all in their own right,” charged Gillum.

Referencing the shooting of McGlockton, Gillum added, “No action taken on that day that should’ve resulted in a death penalty.”

Darren Soto: Rick Scott is ‘blatantly lying’ in newest ad

Gov. Rick Scott‘s latest attack on Sen. Bill Nelson is a sham, according to one member of the Florida Congressional Delegation.

Orlando-area U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, a Democrat facing a tough primary challenge, called Scott’s Medicare-focused ad bogus and ironic just a few hours after news of the ad spread on Tuesday. The 30-second TV and digital spot accuses Nelson, who Scott hopes to unseat in November, of agreeing to cut Medicare when he voted for the Affordable Care Act.

“Rick Scott is blatantly lying to Floridians,” Soto said in a prepared statement Tuesday evening. “This ad is nothing more than a false attack aimed to divert attention from two key facts: Rick Scott has previously backed a plan to end the Medicare guarantee, and Scott himself made millions of dollars overseeing one of the largest cases of Medicare fraud in history.”

Scott’s ad, titled “Unfair,” claims Nelson’s vote led to a cut of $716 billion from Medicare, but as Scott Powers previously noted for Florida Politics, “PolitiFact sought to check the claim and rated it ‘Mostly False.'”

In alleging the governor is “distracting” voters from his record on health care, Soto references Scott’s tenure as CEO of Columbia/HCA ahead of his transition to elected office. The magnitude of the Medicare fraud mentioned has been rated as ‘Mostly True‘ by PolitiFact.

In alleging the governor “previously backed a plan to end the Medicare guarantee,” Soto cites Scott’s 2015 support of the U.S. GOP budget. A news release accompanying Soto’s statement claims the plan would have turned Medicare “into a voucher program.”

“The irony of Scott claiming ‘stealing from Medicare is unfair’ will not be lost on Floridians, who are keenly familiar of Scott’s prolific history of defrauding Medicare of hundreds of millions of dollars,” Soto said. “The reality is Senator Nelson has worked his entire career to protect Floridian’s Medicare and social security.”

Scott’s ad is below.

#FlaPol in Review: A weekend roundup

Some Florida politicians found themselves speaking to voters at the 49th annual Wausau County Possum Festival.

Meanwhile, others continued criticism of the state’s gun-defense laws in the wake of the death of Markeis McGlockton, who was gunned down in Pinellas in July.

It’s clear that as campaigns enter the primary home stretch, they aren’t taking any time off. The following recaps political activity online from Saturday and Sunday.

Gov. Rick Scott, via his Senate account, is continuing his assault on the man he hopes to unseat in November, incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson:

Nelson, meanwhile, went to South Florida to speak to Haitian Floridians:

Republican candidate for Governor Adam Putnam and daughter Emma indulged in the annual possum festival:

Ron DeSantis, Republican candidate for Governor, spent time with the Florida Medical Association, which endorsed him last week:

Democratic candidate for Governor Chris King delivered a fiery address to the family of Markeis McGlockton and fellow worshippers:

As noted by Philip Levine, Democratic candidate for Governor, each of the five candidates attended the service for McGlockton:

A post-service photo from Democratic candidate for Governor Andrew Gillum:

Jeff Greene, Democratic candidate for Governor, is touting the endorsement of the South Florida Sun Sentinel:

Democratic candidate for Governor Gwen Graham‘s perspective on the McGlockton matter:

Denise Grimsley, Republican candidate for Agriculture Commissioner, took her campaign to the Volusia County Lincoln Day Dinner:

In this photo, Republican Agriculture Commissioner candidate Matt Caldwell appears alongside conservative activist and Parkland survivor Kyle Kashuv:

Nikki Fried, Democrat for Agriculture Commissioner, is taking her campaign to Democratic clubs:

Sean Shaw, Democratic candidate for Attorney General, also joined worshippers and the family of McGlockton:

Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz suggested the ‘stand your ground’ attacks are ill-founded in the wake of McGlockton’s death:

Here’s one of many ‘Happy Birthday’ tweets to former President Barack Obama from Democratic Congresswoman Frederica Wilson:

Incoming state House Democratic Leader Kionne McGhee is banking on a blue wave:

State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, who’s backed Gillum for Governor, doesn’t agree with the Sentinel’s endorsement of Greene:

State Senate hopeful Manny Diaz, Jr., stood in solidarity with Nicaragua:

State Sen. Dana Young is keeping apace in her campaign for re-election:

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons