Ryan Nicol – Page 2 – Florida Politics

Ryan Nicol

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to ryan.t.nicol@gmail.com.

‘Warrior’ Matt Gaetz gets official thumbs-up from Donald Trump

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz has long been aboard the Trump train, and now Donald Trump is returning the favor with an endorsement of the congressman’s re-election campaign.

“Congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida is one of the finest and most talented people in Congress,” Trump wrote on Twitter.

“Strong on crime, the border, illegal immigration, the Second Amendment, our great military and vets, Matt worked tirelessly on helping to get our massive tax cuts. He has my full endorsement!”

Gaetz, who serves on the House Judiciary Committee, has been a loyal backer of Trump’s. That’s especially true regarding the Special Counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

In April, Trump referred to Gaetz as one of the “absolute warriors” of the Republican Party.

Gaetz has repeatedly pushed claims of a “deep state” conspiracy out to get Trump, even roping in fellow Republicans as part of the alleged plan.

Those accusations about a “deep state” have expanded recently, with Gaetz arguing the mysterious group is also out to smear U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan. Jordan faces accusations he covered up abuse while he was a wrestling coach at Ohio State University, though some wrestlers have also come to Jordan’s defense.

“I am deeply honored to receive President Trump’s endorsement today, and am thrilled to have the opportunity to continue working alongside him,” said Gaetz in response to the endorsement.

“Since November 2016, the President has been working to make America great again, and I have gladly joined him in his efforts to drain the swamp, lower taxes, and expose the deep-seated corruption hidden in the centralized bureaucracy of Washington.

“President Trump’s support today has given me a renewed sense of confidence and vigor to continue my fight for the hard-working men and women of Northwest Florida.”

Gaetz currently represents Florida’s 1st Congressional District. He faces four other challengers as he fights for re-election.

Both Florida Right to Life and the Humane Society Legislative Fund have also endorsed the first-term congressman.

Florida police union backs Matt Spritz in HD 89

Florida’s Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), a union that represents thousands of law enforcement officers statewide, is endorsing Attorney Matt Spritz for House District 89.

Spritz, a Boca Raton Republican, is competing with accountant Mike Caruso for the GOP nomination for the seat that covers much of Palm Beach County.

“Matt Spritz has shown an understanding of the needs of his community, and we feel that he is the best choice of candidate to serve the citizens of Florida,” Florida FOP President Robert Jenkins said.

“I’m proud to receive the endorsement of the Fraternal Order of Police,” Spritz added.

“Our local law enforcement officers are some of the hardest working men and women in our community. I am inspired every day by their commitment to service and public safety, and I look forward to working closely with police organizations to help them keep our neighborhoods safe.”

Spritz and Caruso are competing for the Republican nomination to replace Republican state Rep. Bill Hager, who is term-limited.

Ocean Ridge politician Jim Bonfiglio and real estate businessman Ryan Rossi filed to run on the Democratic side. Delray Beach business owner Deborah Gibson elected to run as a non-party affiliated candidate.

HD 89 leans slightly Republican. The primary elections will be held Aug. 28.

Baxter Troutman endorsed by Miami-Dade officials

Baxter Troutman, one of four Republicans running in the race for Agriculture Commissioner, is adding three more endorsements from South Florida officials.

Hialeah Mayor Carlos Hernandez, Miami Lakes Mayor Manny Cid and Miami-Dade County Property Appraiser Pedro Garcia all say they’re supporting Troutman, who spent the week meeting voters in Miami-Dade County.

“Today I’m proud to announce my support for Baxter Troutman in the Republican Primary for Agriculture Commissioner,” Hernandez said in a statement Thursday.

“He’s a true conservative who’s spent a lifetime farming and ranching in Central Florida. His experience in agriculture, and business, make him the most qualified candidate in this race.”

Troutman is a fourth generation Florida farmer who’s worked in citrus and cattle. He has also worked as the chief executive officer of Labor Solutions, a personnel services company with five locations in Central Florida.

“Baxter has spent 21 years helping people find jobs,” Cid added.

“That perspective is what we need in public servants: someone who understands that government doesn’t produce anything. Entrepreneurship is what fuels Florida’s economy. His private sector success coupled with his experience in Agriculture, make him the best choice for Florida’s next Ag. Commissioner.”

Garcia, elected as the county’s property appraiser with nearly 60 percent of the vote, echoed those sentiments by the mayors.

“Baxter is exactly what the state of Florida needs. He will arrive in Tallahassee and do what’s right for Florida’s consumers, not its special interests.”

“Having spent time with these influential leaders in Miami-Dade County, I’m grateful of their willingness to join our team,” Troutman said in response.

“They recognize the importance of production agriculture experience from our elected Ag. Commissioner, and I’m the only candidate in this race, Republican or Democrat, who’s spent a lifetime farming.”

Pair of Miami Beach pols back Jason Pizzo

Jason Pizzo continues to add support for his campaign against incumbent state Sen. Daphne Campbell, as he earned the endorsements of two Miami Beach politicians Thursday.

Mayor Dan Gelber and Commissioner Micky Steinberg of Miami Beach both say they’re backing Pizzo in his race for the Senate District 38 seat. Pizzo, a Miami attorney, is challenging Campbell in the Democratic primary.

“I am proud to endorse Jason Pizzo,” said Mayor Gelber. “Jason has a pronounced sense of social justice and the background and training of a prosecutor to allow him to effectively advocate for so many of the critical issues important to our residents.”

Gelber previously served in the Florida Senate, representing District 35 from 2008-10. Prior to that, he represented House District 106 in 2000-08. In 2010, Gelber ran for Attorney General, losing to current AG Pam Bondi.

Added Steinberg: “Jason knows that education is the single best investment we can make in our future, which is why I’m proud to endorse his campaign.

“As our next state senator, he’ll fight for every resident in District 38 to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to get ahead. I look forward to tackling our community’s challenges together.”

The two add to a long list of South Florida officials supporting Pizzo in his primary challenge. SD 38 covers parts of Miami-Dade County including Miami Beach, North Miami and Bal Harbour.

“I am proud and humbled to have the support of Mayor Gelber and Commissioner Steinberg,” said Pizzo.

“Together, we will work to bring needed reforms to Tallahassee and ensure that communities like Miami Beach are well represented.”

No Republicans filed to run in SD 38, leaving Pizzo and Campbell to battle it out on their own. The primary election will be held Aug. 28.

Florida Medical Association PAC backing Kristin Jacobs

Democratic Rep. Kristin Jacobs has pulled in the endorsement of the Florida Medical Association PAC (FMA PAC), as Jacobs tries to hold off a primary challenge from Saima Farooqui in House District 96.

The PAC is the political arm of the Florida Medical Association, which represents the state’s medical and osteopathic physicians. District 96 is in Broward County.

“The FMA PAC is honored to stand with Kristin Jacobs in her re-election campaign,” said FMA PAC President Dr. Mike Patete.

“She has served as a great advocate for her constituents and been a friend of the FMA’s and we look forward to further working with her in the House.”

Jacobs, of Coconut Creek, has served in the state House since 2014. She was Broward County Mayor in 2004-05 and again in 2012-13, while serving on the county commission 1998-2014.

“I’m thrilled to have the endorsement of FMA,” she said. “I am proud of the work they do every day to promote public health and to advance the highest standard of care for Florida’s families.”

This is the latest in a line of endorsements given our by FMA PAC, as Tina Polsky, state Sen. Aaron Bean and state Sen. Dana Young also received the group’s support.

Jacobs has a sizable lead in the money race, with nearly $30,000 on hand. Farooqui’s filings show just under $2,000 still available.

Farooqui is aiming to become Florida’s first Muslim legislator. No Republicans are running for the seat.

HD 96 includes Parkland, where 17 were killed in a mass shooting Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Jacobs and Farooqui will face off in the primary election Aug. 28.

New Senate Majority PAC ad targets Rick Scott’s health care record

A new ad by Senate Majority PAC (SMP) is hammering Gov. Rick Scott‘s record on health care, while claiming incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson is the right choice in the 2018 race for U.S. Senate.

SMP is a partisan group that aims to elect Democrats to the Senate. Its 30-second ad features Dr. David Woolsey, identified in the ad as a Florida ER doctor. Online records show he’s an internist affiliated with Miami Veterans Affairs Healthcare System.

“We’ve got an opioid crisis, a doctor shortage, seniors struggling to pay for care,” Woolsey says.

“But even with all that, Rick Scott vetoed millions in healthcare funds and refused federal funds that would’ve covered 750,000 Floridians.”

Woolsey then praises Nelson’s efforts, advocating for the Democrat to hold his Senate seat.

“Bill Nelson took on insurance companies, forcing them to cover people with pre-existing conditions. And he’s working to lower costs and get more people covered – not less.”

Woolsey adds, “That’s the difference. Scott puts insurance companies first. Bill Nelson puts Florida first.”

The Rick Scott campaign hit back at the ad in a statement. “Outside democratic groups can keep trying to paint a picture of Bill Nelson as a champion for healthcare in Florida, but ultimately, Nelson’s actions speak louder than words,” said Scott campaign Press Secretary Lauren Schenone.

“Bill Nelson continues to talk a lot about the issues without taking real action to fix anything. This misleading ad is only the latest disappointing example of Bill Nelson caring more about what he says than what he actually does for our state.”

The ad will be aired statewide. Chris Hayden, spokesperson for SMP, also added a statement criticizing Scott’s record.

“A governor who badly managed Florida’s health care system cannot be trusted to represent Florida in the United States Senate,” said Hayden.

“The only candidate in this race who has continuously stood up to the insurance companies and fought for coverage for all Floridians is Bill Nelson, and he is the only candidate that will always put Florida first.”

It’s no surprise a PAC designed to support Democrats is supporting the Democrat in this race. Voters have been more conflicted, with polls showing the two candidates switching spots in the lead.

RealClearPolitics, a site which aggregates available polling, gives Scott a two-point edge in the race overall.

Gwen Graham accepts NARAL endorsement

“As with every election year, all eyes are on Florida.”

That was the message regarding a potential future fight for abortion rights at Wednesday’s Gwen Graham event in Miami.

Graham gathered with supporters to accept the endorsement of NARAL, one of the nation’s largest pro-choice political action committees.

NARAL National Political Director Nicole Brener-Schmitz spoke at the event, emphasizing the group’s focus on Florida. She called the gubernatorial race “one of the most important elections in the 2018 cycle.”

That’s due in part to the recent retirement announcement of Justice Anthony Kennedy.

His decision to retire led some to fear a justice appointed by President Donald Trump would join the court’s other four conservative justices in overturning Roe v. Wade. Indeed, Graham spoke out about that concern in the days following his announcement.

On Monday, Trump announced Judge Brett Kavanaugh as his selection to replace Kennedy.

Graham responded to that selection on Twitter, writing “Florida: this is not a drill. has nominated another Supreme Court justice who does not believe women have the right to make our own health care decisions. If Brett Kavanaugh is appointed to the court, Roe v. Wade is gravely at risk of being overturned.”

She followed up at Monday’s event, saying, “So where does the fight turn to after that? It turns to the states. And I as governor, the first woman governor of Florida, will make sure that we do not return to the days of backroom abortions.”

Brener-Schmitz also explained why NARAL chose to endorse Graham over her Democratic primary opponents.

“Gwen has been a tireless and a passionate advocate for women’s rights to choose from the start.” Brener-Schmitz referenced Graham’s support in Congress for the Equal Rights Amendment and opposition to defunding Planned Parenthood.

She also attacked state Republicans for passing laws attempting to restrict abortion access in the past. Brener-Schmitz accused Republicans of “making attacking our rights their priority over helping hardworking women get ahead.”

Graham also had strong words for the leading Republican candidates for governor, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. “I’m going to put a stop to both of you,” she said.

Graham added, “A woman’s right to have control over her own reproductive decisions is on the line.”

She promised to block any efforts to reduce abortion access for women. “Any bill that limits the right to choose that comes across my desk, I will veto it immediately.”

Graham is competing with Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Palm Beach real estate billionaire Jeff Greene, Winter Park entrepreneur Chris King, and former Miami Beach mayor Philip Levine for the Democratic nomination for governor.

Recent polling has showed Levine and Graham at the head of the field but with large numbers of undecided voters.

Ashley Moody

Ross Spano backs former opponent Ashley Moody for attorney general

Former Attorney General candidate Ross Spano says he’s throwing his support behind Ashley Moody as she continues to pursue the Republican nomination in that race.

Spano exited the contest back in April to run for Congress in Florida’s 15th Congressional District. He currently represents House District 59.

Now, he says he’s backing Moody over her only remaining primary opponent, Pensacola state Rep. Frank White.

“Ashley Moody is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and will always stand up for the rights of law-abiding gun owners and against the liberal gun control agenda,” said Spano of his endorsement.

“Ashley has the experience to defend the Second Amendment rights of Floridians and that’s why I’m endorsing and standing with her conservative campaign for a stronger, safer Florida.”

Moody, a former Hillsborough Circuit Court judge, responded to Spano’s endorsement: “Throughout the campaign, it was evident Rep. Spano and I shared conservative values and goals for the State of Florida, including putting an end to human trafficking, defending Second Amendment rights, and protecting our seniors.

“Thank you to Rep. Spano for his endorsement of my candidacy to be Florida’s next Attorney General. It is an honor I will work hard to deserve.”

Moody was endorsed early on by current Attorney General Pam Bondi, who is term-limited this year.

Democrats Sean Shaw, a House member from Tampa, and Tampa attorney Ryan Torrens are also running to be Florida’s next attorney general. Non-party affiliated candidate Jeffrey Siskind rounds out the list of candidates.

The primary is Aug. 28.

Former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham

Gwen Graham: Republican governor streak must end

The last time a Democrat served as governor of Florida, Bill Clinton was still president.

In a new campaign ad, Democratic candidate for governor Gwen Graham says it’s time for that to change.

Titled “Twenty” (see below), Graham critiques Republican leadership of the state for the past two decades, and argues she is the candidate best equipped to flip control over to the Democrats.

“It has been really bad for Florida that, for twenty years, the Republican Party has been in total control,” says Graham in the new 30-second ad.

“It’s these high-paid lobbyists that are in charge in Tallahassee. They have not taken Medicaid expansion. They have hurt education. It’s going to take bringing it back to, ‘How do I serve the people?’ “

That echoes the pitch Graham has made recently, telling Florida Politics the 2018 election “is so important for the future of the state.”

“Graham says stand up to the corporate special interests,” explains the ad’s narrator. “Put health care, schools and people first again.”

The Graham campaign has also been focused on the future of abortion rights, after the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy and Monday night’s announcement of his replacement, Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Graham, a former Tallahassee congresswoman, has been near the top of the Democratic gubernatorial field in recent polling, along with former Miami Beach mayor Philip Levine.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Palm Beach real estate billionaire Jeff Greene and Winter Park businessman Chris King are also competing for the Democratic nomination.

Graham’s new ad is set to air on Orlando and Tampa TV markets. You can watch it below, via YouTube.

Another statewide candidate blasts Bullsugar over questionnaire

Yet another statewide Republican candidate — attorney general hopeful Frank White — is hammering environmental advocacy group Bullsugar over its questionnaire regarding Florida’s algae bloom problem.

The questionnaire is highly critical of the sugar industry, including questions such as “Do you agree that your campaign will be sugar-free, accepting no contributions from any source with ties to the sugarcane industry?”

Bullsugar has faced criticism for previous false claims about the blooms and a failure to disclose its donor list.

That history resulted in a scathing response from GOP Agriculture Commissioner candidate Matt Caldwell, who called Bullsugar “one of the most obscene groups in Florida” that pushes a “constant stream of twisted misinformation spread to the public.”

Now, White is following up with his own statement bashing the group.

“I, and other like-minded conservatives, will not be held hostage by binary environmental advocacy which threatens jobs in agriculture and seeks to erode property rights,” said White, a state representative from Pensacola.

“I believe you can care about the health and well being of our state without launching aggressive attacks on the hardworking people of the Glades.”

White says this isn’t a critique of environmental groups generally, but rather Bullsugar’s tactics in particular.

“There are a variety of environmental organizations across the state who seek to truly address our water quality challenges without taking aim at hardworking Floridians, and I will continue to work with those organizations as I believe our values are more closely aligned.”

White is competing with former Hillsborough Circuit Judge Ashley Moody for the Republican nomination. Democrats Sean Shaw, another House member, and attorney Ryan Torrens are also running for A.G., along with non-party affiliated candidate Jeffrey Siskind.

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