Ryan Nicol – Page 3 – 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.

Progressive PAC to spend $350,000 to take on Carlos Curbelo

Progressive Turnout Project (PTP), a liberal political action committee, is announcing it will spend $350,000 on voter turnout to oust U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo from his congressional seat in November.

“When voter turnout is high, Democrats win elections,” said the group’s executive director, Alex Morgan. “Our team will be pounding the pavement every day between now and November 6 to replace Carlos Curbelo.”

Florida’s 26th Congressional District, which Curbelo represents, is seen as a pickup opportunity for Democrats in 2018. Curbelo won re-election in 2016 by a comfortable margin of nearly 12 percentage points. But with polling showing the national atmosphere tilting toward Democrats, the Cook Political Report has rated Curbelo’s seat as a toss-up.

That has motivated groups such as PTP to flood the race in an effort to turn the seat blue.

The group has an office in Miami and 11 staff members set to canvass the district during the summer and fall in an effort to motivate Democrats, whose enthusiasm and turnout has dropped during recent non-presidential election years.

“Face-to-face conversations are proven to be the most effective way to get out the vote,” said Morgan. “Our team is trained to focus on engaging in quality conversations with likely Democrats to ensure those voters have their voice heard in the next election.”

The campaign is part of an $8 million effort by PTP to flip 18 congressional districts across the country.

Curbelo currently faces a primary challenge from long-shot candidate Souraya Faas. Demetrius Grimes and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell are running on the Democratic side.

The general election will be held November 6.

Matt Willhite still running away with HD 86 fundraising lead

State Rep. Matt Willhite is running laps around his Republican challenger when it comes to fundraising, pulling in nearly $18,000 in May.

That leaves Willhite, a Wellington Democrat, with more than $45,000 cash on hand. His only declared opponent, Laurel Bennett, had not filed any fundraising information with the Florida Division of Elections since February when she declared a $25 loan from herself to her campaign.

Bennett also challenged Willhite in 2016, losing 58 percent to 42 percent.

Willhite began his active re-election campaign with a fundraiser late last month. It seems to have paid off, with Willhite raising more money in May than he has in any other month this election cycle.

Willhite served as a firefighter for 20 years and as a Corpsman in the U.S. Navy. He graduated from Palm Beach State College with an associate degree in EMS, Technical Training for Firefighters.

He’s supported by multiple firefighters’ organizations and police unions, earning several donations from those groups in May.

HD 86 covers a portion of inland Palm Beach County, including Royal Palm Beach and Wellington.

Bob Rommel maintains fundraising lead over Democratic challenger

State Rep. Bob Rommel still holds a fundraising lead over his Democratic opponent, but that gap is closing after the candidates filed their May reports with the Florida Division of Elections.

Rommel brought in nearly $16,000 in outside contributions in May, bringing his fundraising total to more than $122,000. That easily beats out Sara McFadden, who is challenging Rommel for the House District 106 seat. She raised just $810 in outside contributions in May.

However, McFadden also loaned her campaign a whopping $40,000 last month. That’s a change-up from previous filings. McFadden has lent $10,000 to her campaign in each month from November through April.

Including those loans, McFadden has brought in more than $114,000 for her campaign. McFadden’s self-funding makes up $100,000 of that total.

That has earned McFadden a slight cash on hand lead over Rommel, a Naples Republican. She sits at about $110,000 cash on hand, while Rommel holds around $107,000.

McFadden appears committed to wresting the seat from Rommel, whose only opponent in the 2016 election was write-in candidate Connor Maguire. Maguire earned just 14 votes out of more than 71,000 cast in the HD 106 race.

It will be an uphill battle for McFadden. HD 106, which covers parts of Collier and Lee counties, leans Republican. The GOP has a 2-to-1 advantage in voter registration.

A third candidate, Kristopher Knudson, has also filed to run as an unaffiliated candidate. He’s not expected to seriously compete for the seat, as he has declared just $150 raised through April. Knudson’s May numbers are not yet available.

Kubs Lalchandani keeps up money lead over HD 113 opponents

Democrat Kubs Lalchandani still leads the field in fundraising in the race for House District 113.

Lalchandani brought in more than $10,000 in May, crossing the $100,000 mark for money raised so far this campaign. He has more than $70,000 of that remaining.

Lalchandani is one of four candidates running to replace state Rep. David Richardson in HD 113. Richardson is currently competing for the Democratic nomination in Florida’s 27th Congressional District.

Lalchandani graduated from Cornell Law School before clerking under U.S. District Judge Patricia Seitz. He then entered private practice, eventually opening his own law firm.

Not surprisingly, many of the May donations to Lalchandani came from various attorneys and law firms. He also received $1,000 from a local Teamsters union.

Two other Democrats are competing with Lalchandani for the HD 113 nomination. Deede Weithorn has not yet filed fundraising information for May. As of April, she had raised more than $65,000, with just over $28,000 still on hand.

A third Democrat, Michael Grieco, has not declared any fundraising totals since registering as a candidate in May. Neither has Jonathan Parker, the only Republican to file in the HD 113 race.

HD 113 covers North Bay Village and Miami Beach.

Richardson easily won his previous three elections. He defeated his Republican opponent 65-35 percent in 2016 and was unopposed in the general election in both 2014 and 2012.

That’s good news for the winner of the 2018 Democratic primary, which will be held Aug. 28. The general election is set for Nov. 6.

Matt Spritz HD 89 Republican candidate

Matt Spritz ends May with more than $150,000 cash on hand

Attorney Matt Spritz ended May with another round of impressive fundraising reports, finishing with more than $150,000 cash on hand between his campaign and committee.

Spritz, a Boca Raton Republican, pulled in more than $10,000 for his campaign fund, leaving him with more than $120,000 cash on hand in the race for House District 89. His committee, Invest in Florida, didn’t add any funds but after some light spending it finished the month with $30,000 banked.

Spritz is facing off against fellow Republican Michael Caruso in the race for Rep. Bill Hager‘s seat. Hager is unable to run in 2018 due to term limits.

The seat leans Republican, having been held by Hager since it was redrawn 2012. He was unopposed in his most recent run.

Democrats James Bonfiglio and Ryan Rossi are also competing for the seat. They are joined by Deborah Gibson, an unaffiliated candidate.

Caruso has not yet updated his fundraising information for May, so it’s not clear if he’s kept up with the pace set by Spritz. Spritz has also received plenty of GOP support in the form of endorsements. He’s been backed by Republican lawmakers in the state House as well as former U.S. Senator George LeMieux.

As of April 30, Caruso’s fundraising total stood at $166,800, including $110,000 in candidate loans, and he had more than $136,000 on hand.

HD 89 covers parts of the Palm Beach County coast. The primary elections will be held on August 28.

Jason Pizzo

Jason Pizzo now with more than $100,000 cash on hand in SD 38 race

Jason Pizzo continues to power his primary challenge to state Sen. Daphne Campbell, as he now sits on more than $103,000 cash on hand. That’s according to new fundraising information filed with Florida’s Division of Elections.

Pizzo, a former prosecutor, added more than $40,000 in May alone, though $25,000 of that came from a loan by Pizzo to his campaign.

As highlighted last week by Florida Politics, Campbell is working hard to fight off Pizzo’s primary challenge. Campbell spent more money than she raised in May, taking in less than $13,000 while spending just over $15,000. That leaves her with just under $30,000 available.

Pizzo has picked up a large number of endorsements in the race for Senate District 38, including mayors and current state representatives. He also earned the support of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the nation’s largest public employee trade union.

SD 38 covers a piece of eastern Miami-Dade County which includes Miami Beach, Bal Harbour, Golden Beach, Biscayne Park and Miami Shores.

The two also faced off in 2016, along with four other challengers. Campbell came out on top by just over 2,000 votes in that election.

So far, the two are the only candidates filed to run in SD 38. The primary will be held Aug. 28, followed by the general election on Nov. 6.

Robert Asencio outraises opponent Anthony Rodriguez in May

Democratic state Rep. Robert Asencio outraised his Republican opponent last month, notching a victory in what’s expected to be a close November election.

Asencio pulled in more than $11,000 to his campaign. That bests Anthony Rodriguez, who only earned $7,000 in donations. Asencio also brought in just over $20,000 to his committee, Alliance For Prosperity PC.

The two are now almost dead even in cash on hand, with both sitting at just around $70,000 for the House District 118 campaign.

HD 118 covers a portion of Miami-Dade County including Tamiami and Kendall.

Asencio is the Democratic incumbent representing HD 118. He was able to barely squeak out a victory back in 2016, defeating his Republican opponent, David Rivera, 50.04 percent to 49.96 percent.

Now he’ll face off against Rodriguez, who also ran for the HD 118 seat in 2016. Rodriguez lost to Rivera in the primary.

Asencio is a former member of the Miami Police Department. He also founded Florida Public Employees Partnership, a group that advocates on behalf of Florida public employees.

Rodriguez is a Tamiami business owner.

The two are currently running unopposed in their respective primaries. If no one else declares, Asencio and Rodriguez will face off in the general election on November 6.

May biggest fundraising month yet for Gary Farmer

Democrat Gary Farmer just had his best fundraising month yet, earning more than $34,000 in contributions during May. That’s according to the latest information filed with the Florida Division of Elections.

Those impressive totals leave Farmer with more than $65,000 cash on hand. The incumbent senator representing Senate District 34 is running unopposed in his re-election bid.

The majority of donations to Farmer came from various law firms and attorneys throughout the state. Farmer, a longtime attorney himself, recently took a position at heavyweight law firm Morgan & Morgan.

Farmer easily won his first election in 2016, defeating his Republican opponent 63 percent to 37 percent. That earned him the SD 34 seat, which covers parts of Broward County including Fort Lauderdale, Dania Beach and Hollywood.

Without a declared opponent and with a growing campaign chest, Farmer appears to be on his way to winning again in 2018.

He recently courted controversy, however, after comments regarding state Sen. Lauren Book. Farmer reportedly questioned Book’s ability to take on an increased leadership role due to her having two young children.

That comment was denounced by some of Farmer’s fellow Democrats. Farmer eventually apologized for his remarks.

Lauren Book spends big in May, with nearly $800K still on-hand

Incumbent state Sen. Lauren Book had another month of big spending. After shelling out more than $40,000 in April, she followed it up by topping more than $50,000 in May spending.

Book’s impressive fundraising totals made those expenditures possible. She still sits on nearly $800,000 between her campaign and committee accounts.

Most of May’s spending went toward campaign petition mailers. About $40,000 went toward those mailers, with most of the remaining expenditures going to state and local Democratic Party groups.

Still, Book was able to offset those costs, bringing in nearly $75,000 to her committee, Leadership for Florida. Book’s campaign account also raised about $18,000.

The first-term senator is running unopposed in the race for Senate District 32. That would be a repeat of her previous election, as she went unchallenged in 2016 as well.

With Book bringing in big money, it’s not clear anyone will step up to the plate to contest her re-election. Book is also serving on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, established following the shooting that killed 17 people back in February.

SD 32 covers portions of Broward County including Weston, Davie, and Cooper City.

Homestead mayor resigns ahead of Ag. Commissioner race

Jeff Porter, the three-term mayor of Homestead, is stepping down from his post effective early next year after submitting a resignation letter last night.

That’s according to a report from the Miami Herald. Porter declared his intention to run for Florida Agriculture Commissioner back in January. State law requires candidates to resign before running for another office with an overlapping term.

Porter, who has served as Homestead mayor since 2013, is one of two Democrats battling for the Agriculture Commissioner bid. He’s competing with David Walker for the nomination.

Current Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is competing in the Republican primary for Florida governor. Four Republicans are running for his old job and the right to face off against either Walker or Porter in the general election.

Porter has also previously served as vice mayor of Homestead and spent 10 years on the city council. He is owner and president of World Wide Supply Solutions, a supplier of building materials, which is based in Homestead.

In comments made to the Herald, Porter said he’s running in part to “better represent and fund the southeastern tip of the country.”

“The agriculture industry has just been decimated. Over the last 20 or 30 years, farmers have gone out of business and I just don’t understand,” Porter added.

“This area of the country, inside our borders, is the only place where we can grow produce in the winter to feed the nation, yet we’ve become totally reliant on food that comes from foreign countries. It’s almost like a national security issue.”

The primary for the Agriculture Commissioner race will be held Aug. 28.

Win or lose, Porter will be out as mayor on Jan. 7, 2019. Vice Mayor Stephen Shelley will take over on that date.

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