Ryan Nicol, Author at Florida Politics - Page 5 of 28

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.
Jason Pizzo

Jason Pizzo adds another $125k in loans to his campaign

Jason Pizzo has added another $125,000 in loans to his campaign in an effort to unseat state Sen. Daphne Campbell in Senate District 38.

The newest self-funding spree came during the period of July 7 to July 20, according to a recent report filed with the Florida Division of Elections. He also added more than $5,000 in outside donations during that period.

Pizzo, a Miami attorney, has now poured in $275,000 in self-loans, on top of more than $110,000 in donations.

He’s also spent more than $260,000 of that money, including more than $60,000 last period. Much of his recent expenditures have gone toward direct mail and door hangers (more than $31,000), canvassing ($4,335) and voter outreach ($4,000).

During the same period, Campbell raised just over $7,000 in donations while spending more than $11,000. That’s yet another financial period where Campbell has spent more than she’s taken in.

The majority of Campbell’s expenditures from last period were used to pay consultants ($4,350) and work on advertisements (more than $3,200).

Pizzo is challenging Campbell in the SD 38 Democratic primary after losing a similar bid in 2016. However, that field featured six challengers, whereas this year’s election in a one-on-one contest between he and Campbell.

No Republican filed to run in the race.

SD 38 covers parts of Miami-Dade County including Miami Beach, North Miami and Bal Harbour. The primary election will be held Aug. 28.

Bernie Sanders backs Andrew Gillum for Governor

Andrew Gillum has earned a big-time endorsement in the Florida Governor’s race, as U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont announced he is supporting Gillum’s bid for the Democratic nomination.

Sanders was seen as an icon of the progressive movement during his run against Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential campaign. Now, he says Gillum is the best person to carry that progressive mantle forward in Florida.

“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,” said Sanders.

“Andrew has never backed down from a fight, including beating the NRA and standing up against xenophobic politicians. Andrew Gillum will set a new course for Florida — a governor who represents all the people and not just powerful special interests.”

Though Sanders ran in the Democratic Party primary in 2016, he officially identifies as an independent. He describes himself as a “democratic socialist.”

It’s an honor to have Senator Bernie Sanders’ endorsement in this campaign,” said Gillum.

“He has been an unapologetic fighter for everyday working people standing up to the special interests. From Medicare-for-all, to a $15 minimum wage, his ideas and platform have become the Democratic Party’s north star on economic justice for those who need it most.”

Sanders was recently named the most popular senator in America, according to Morning Consult.

Whether that popularity will translate into a boost for the Gillum campaign remains to be seen. But he needs a jolt, if polls are any indication. Recent surveys show Gillum near the bottom of the five-candidate Democratic field.

Sanders’ endorsement, however, is energizing those already supporting Gillum. Several spoke out after hearing the news.

In 2018, we need to nominate a Democrat for Governor who has the progressive vision, energy and record to motivate voters who sat out previous elections,” said state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, who founded and leads the state Legislative Progressive caucus. He’s also endorsed Gillum in the primary battle.

“Like Bernie, Mayor Gillum has never shied away from his progressive values, and he is the candidate who can unite this party and consolidate a winning coalition this November,” added Smith.

“Senator Sanders called for a political revolution, and that’s exactly what we will get by nominating Mayor Andrew Gillum,” added state Rep. Shevrin Jones. “We need candidates across this country to improve the lives of marginalized people. With Andrew Gillum primed to win in August and November, we will finally have a governor who would invest in our communities and put our people first.”

Gillum says he is ready to lead, should voters make him the state’s first Democratic Governor in 20 years.

As Governor, I promise to get up every single day ready to fight for a state that puts working people first; that makes affordable health care a right for every Floridian; and a state that is powered by its people.”

Lauren Book endorses Andrew Dolberg in crowded HD 98 primary

Small business owner Andrew Dolberg has earned a high-profile endorsement in the packed primary for House District 98, as state Sen. Lauren Book announced her support for the Dolberg campaign Wednesday.

“Andrew is exactly the kind of bold and fresh-faced leader we need in Tallahassee,” said Book on her decision to back Dolberg.

“In the Florida House, I know that he will be a strong ally on women’s issues, a champion for children, and a fierce advocate for Florida’s public schools. I look forward to working with him to deliver results for the residents of Broward County.”

Dolberg, a Plantation Democrat, is one of five Democrats competing for the nomination in HD 98, making it one of the most competitive Florida House races this election cycle. The district covers parts of Davie, Plantation and Sunrise.

Meanwhile, Book has positioned herself as one of the leaders of the state Democratic party, winning re-election to the Senate unopposed. Book also serves on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, established after February’s attack in Parkland to prevent further school shootings in the state.

“Sen. Book’s record speaks for itself,” remarked Dolberg.

“She is one of the most widely respected individuals in the legislature. I look forward to serving with her and I count myself lucky to have her as both a friend and a mentor.”

In the HD 98 primary, Dolberg is up against finance veteran Elaine Geller, attorney Michael Gottlieb, comic book shop owner Stephen Korka and former code enforcement officer Daniel Stallone.

The candidates are running to replace outgoing state Rep. Katie Edwards-Walpole, who is not seeking re-election.

New Tommy Gregory ad highlights Air Force service, NRA endorsement

Republican attorney Tommy Gregory is out with a new ad touting his service in the U.S. Air Force, as well as endorsements by law enforcement and the National Rifle Association.

The 30-second TV spot, titled “Patriot,” was released Tuesday. Gregory is running in House District 73 to replace state Rep. Joe Gruters, who is running for the Florida Senate.

“Lieutenant Colonel Tommy Gregory: serving America since he first took the oath at the Air Force Academy, defending our Constitution, and keeping us safe,” says the ad’s narrator.

“A former prosecutor, Tommy has the drive and experience to help President Trump stop illegal immigration. Tommy’s the only candidate endorsed by three sheriffs, the Fraternal Order of Police, and the NRA. Tommy Gregory: American patriot, conservative outsider, the right choice.”

Gregory is competing against Sarasota business owner Melissa Howard in the Republican primary. Teacher Liv Coleman is running on the Democratic side, though she faces an uphill battle in the general, as HD 73 leans strongly Republican.

“It was a great honor to serve our country in the Air Force,” said Gregory.

“Everything I’ve had the opportunity to do in my career up to now has prepared me well to tackle the big issues facing Florida. I’m up for the challenge and would consider it a huge honor to serve my friends and neighbors in District 73 in Tallahassee.”

HD 73 covers parts of Sarasota and Manatee counties. The Republican primary will be held on Aug. 28.

In new ad, Floridians for a Fair Shake doubles down on criticism of Vern Buchanan

Floridians for a Fair Shake, a left-leaning advocacy group focused on the economy and health care issues, seems to be playing tricks with the numbers in a new ad hitting U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan over last year’s GOP tax cuts.

The ad is titled “Same Day,” and highlights the fact that Buchanan bought a yacht on the day the House of Representatives voted on the first draft of the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.”

That much is not in dispute, though it’s unclear whether Buchanan needed any sort of tax cut to drop more than a million dollars on a new yacht. According to an analysis by Roll Call, Buchanan is one of the wealthiest members of Congress, with a net worth of more than $70 million.

Whatever one thinks of the optics of such a purchase, it’s a claim later in the group’s ad that doesn’t quite stand up to scrutiny.

“Most Americans will pay more in taxes,” warns the ad’s narrator. “Vern Buchanan gets a new yacht.” Is it true that a bill which aimed to cut taxes actually did the opposite for the majority of Americans?

The ad cites a Dec. 2017 report from the Tax Policy Center to support the claim. And sure enough, the report does say 53 percent of Americans will pay more in taxes.

The problem? That doesn’t happen until 2027, “largely because almost all individual income tax provisions would sunset after 2025,” according to the report.

The sunset on tax breaks for individuals was an issue that was raised at the time the bill was passed, and would certainly spark outrage if it occurs. But 2025 is a long way away, and one has to think a provision that would hit more than half of Americans will be dealt with by Congress by then.

The immediate forecast of the law’s effects are much less dire. “Compared to current law, 5 percent of taxpayers would pay more tax in 2018.” That number goes to 9 percent in 2025, just prior to the lapsing of the individual income tax provisions.

That is to say, unless Congress wants to get railroaded at the polls, it is highly unlikely we will live in a world where “most Americans will pay more in taxes” due to this bill.

Does the law give more of a break to wealthy Americans? It does, according to analyses of the law. And one can certainly debate whether buying a yacht on the same day that bill was passed will play well with voters.

But the claim that “most Americans will pay more in taxes” doesn’t quite hold up.

We reached out to the Buchanan campaign to comment on the ad. While they didn’t address the controversy over the yacht purchase, they did have this to say about one of their Democratic opponents in the 16th Congressional District, David Shapiro.

“Every dollar that Shapiro’s dark money group spends attacking Vern, we will match and exceed holding Shapiro accountable,” said Max Goodman, campaign manager for the Buchanan campaign.

“Shapiro is going to pay a steep price for these dishonest attack ads. Let’s see who blinks first.”

Floridians for a Fair Shake has denied any connection between their group and the Shapiro campaign.

You can watch the ad from Floridians for a Fair Shake below.

Javier Fernandez

Javier Fernandez says he’s willing to debate HD 114 opponent

State Rep. Javier Fernandez says he’s willing to debate his Republican opponent, Javier Enriquez, after Enriquez publicly called for debates prior to November’s election.

Fernandez, who won a special election in May 2018, says the issue of gun safety and public school funding should be at the top of the list of debate topics, should the two candidates meet.

He also listed “affordable housing, transportation and environmental resiliency” among concerns he hears from voters in the district.

“As I walk and knock on the doors of every home in District 114, I am awed by the hope constituents voice in what we can accomplish together,” Fernandez said.

“Their thoughtful solutions and support have fueled the confidence I have that we are on the threshold of real and sustainable change on fixing lax gun laws, and fairly funding Miami-Dade’s public schools including paying teachers a responsible wage.”

Fernandez, a Miami Democrat, has worked as an attorney for years and is the son of a teacher in the Miami-Dade Public Schools system. He is running uncontested in the Democratic primary, as is Enriquez on the Republican side.

HD 114 covers parts of Miami-Dade County including West Miami and Cutler Bay. The race between Fernandez and Enriquez could be a close one, as three of the last four elections in this district have been decided by less than five percentage points.

Broward law enforcement groups back Chip LaMarca in HD 93

Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca has pulled in endorsements from a trio of Broward County law enforcement organizations in his run for House District 93.

The Broward County Police Benevolent AssociationFraternal Order of Police District 5, and Broward Sheriff’s Office Deputies Association are all backing LaMarca’s bid to replace term-limited Rep. George Moraitis.

“Our law enforcement professionals put their lives on the line every day to protect our families,” LaMarca said.

“As a county commissioner, I have always made it my priority to support law enforcement, and I will continue to do this in Tallahassee. We must give them the resources they need to do their jobs and we must always thank these brave men and women for their service to our community.”

LaMarca, a Lighthouse Point Republican, represents District 4 on the Broward County Commission and is the former chairman of the Broward Republican Party.

Both he and Democrat Emma Collum are uncontested in their primaries for HD 93. Attorney Kelly Milam has also filed to run as a non-party affiliated candidate.

HD 93 covers eastern Broward County including Lighthouse Point, Pompano Beach and Fort Lauderdale. Republicans have done well in the district, though voter registrations skew slightly toward the GOP.

Sore knuckles much? Florida GOP knocks on 1 million doors

While Democrats continue to hope for a “blue wave” come November, the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) is hoping its ground game can hold off the rising tide.

The party announced it has knocked on its 1 millionth door of the 2018 midterm cycle, as campaign workers try to make the case to voters that Republican majorities at the state and federal level should stay put.

The announcement comes as the GOP participates in a “National Week of Action,” aimed at getting voters off the sideline and involved in local, state and federal elections.

“As a grassroots chairman, I have always stressed the importance of the ground game,” RPOF Chairman Blaise Ingoglia said.

And the ground game will be especially crucial this year, as Democrats have appeared especially energized this cycle, as seen in both special elections and polling data.

That has prompted Republicans to make every effort to get their voters to the polls.

Florida has some of the most competitive congressional races in the country this year, as well as a Senate race between incumbent Bill Nelson and Gov. Rick Scott that looks as if it could go either way.

That’s on top of the numerous state races that look to be contested, including the election for the next governor.

Ingoglia says the party’s 1 million door knocks are “not even counting the hundreds of thousands of doors knocked by other candidates’ campaigns. While Democrats are busy protesting and complaining, we are pounding the pavement with enthusiasm for Republican candidates up and down the ballot.

“And with every phone call and door knocked, we are building our big red wall a little higher for November.”

Javier Manjarres plays loose with the facts in new campaign mailer

Conservative blogger Javier Manjarres seems to be playing tricks with the truth on a recent campaign mailer for his candidacy in Florida’s 22nd Congressional District.

Manjarres, who runs the right-wing blog The Shark Tank, recently sent the mailer to voters as he tries to unseat incumbent U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch.

Next to a picture of Manjarres are the words, “U.S. Air Force,” presumably touting his service in the military. That’s despite a lack of easily searchable records tying Manjarres to the Air Force.

Florida Politics reached out to Manjarres to discuss his time in the Air Force, but he repeatedly refused to answer our questions.

Instead, we contacted the Air Force directly, speaking with Mike Dickerson at the Air Force Personnel Center.

He indicated there is a record of a “Javier Manjarres,” with the same date of birth as the candidate, joining the U.S. Air Force. Those records show Manjarres listed with the rank of “Airman Basic” before being separated from the Air Force in September 1990 before completion of his basic military training.

Dickerson could not comment on the reason for the separation, citing privacy laws.

While it may be technically accurate that Manjarres did sign up for the Air Force, readers and voters can decide for themselves whether his attempt to associate himself with the Air Force is proper given that he did not even complete basic training, according to records.

That’s not the ad’s only problem, however. The mailer also shows a picture of President Donald Trump next to the statement, in quotation marks, “Javier embodies #MAGA.”

A plain reading of that mailer makes it appear Trump said those words.

Only, he didn’t. Instead, those are the words of U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida’s 1st Congressional District. When Gaetz endorsed Manjarres in the CD 22 Republican primary, Gaetz reportedly said, “Very few people supported President Trump as early on as Javier. Javier embodies #MAGA.” That’s according to the site Red Broward.

That’s also according to the other side of Manjarres’ own mailer, which attributes the quote correctly to Gaetz.

Again, we asked Manjarres about the possibility some voters could be confused into thinking Trump made that statement.

His response to our questions was as follows: “Florida Politics is a hack website published by someone accused of pay for play, and has a political agenda, and use[d] to write for the liberal website [D]aily Kos.”

Manjarres is one of three Republicans competing in the CD 22 race, along with entrepreneur Nicolas Kimaz and finance industry veteran Eddison Walters. The primary is Aug. 28.

Tributes pour in from across Florida after passing of activist Stephen Gately

Politicos from across the state are paying tribute after the unexpected passing of activist Stephen Gately.

Originally born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Gately made his mark on the Florida political scene. He spent several years as a field representative for U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, who is set to retire this year after serving Florida’s 15th Congressional District.

Gately also worked as a district assistant to state Rep. Mike La Rosa of House District 42. In 2011, Gately was listed as a Pinellas County co-chair for the Mitt Romney presidential campaign in Florida.

Former U.S. Rep. David Jolly offered up a heartfelt message after news of Gately’s passing was confirmed. “Florida politics has lost an impassioned voice and public servant,” said Jolly in a statement.

“Stephen Gately fought hard for his convictions, believed in service, & endeared himself to many, including this former Congressman. We often agreed, often sparred, but were always friends. God bless you brother.”

Jolly was just one of several throughout the state to share their memory of Gately and his work. He was remembered as “honorable,” a “true friend” and a “patriot.”

Others reached out to Florida Politics directly to offer their remembrances of Gately’s life and impact.

“Stephen was one of the first people who believed in me as a high school student looking to get involved with campaigns and local politics,” Nicholas Bique, who now works for the Republican Party of Florida and was mentored by Gately.

“He treated everyone with warmth and kindness. Every time I talked to him, he made me feel important, even walking through the halls of Congress and he made you feel your worth. You could sense his genuine care and interest. He’s been a role model of mine for a long time.”

Edward Briggs of RSA Consulting Group added a statement on behalf of the organization. “Stephen Gately was not only a civic leader and patriot, but a true friend to everyone at RSA. Words cannot express how saddened we are to see him go. Stephen always brightened the room with his sincere candor, wisdom, and true passion for politics. His loss has left a huge hole in all our hearts.”

Kyle Glenn, who works as chief of staff for Rep. Ross, called Gately a “tremendous friend and all-around great guy.”

“Stephen Gately lived and breathed politics,” added state Rep. Chris Latvala.

“He was like no one I have ever known in that regard. He never got sick or cynical of it and was steadfast in his beliefs and convictions. He really was everywhere at once. Other than fighting for his principles and party, he never had any personal ambitions that I knew of. He leaves behind many friends on both sides of the aisle and I am going to miss him. Rest easy my friend.”

“I got to know Stephen over the years as someone who was not only passionate about politics, but also compassionate for constituents of all political parties,” said WTSP’s Noah Pransky.

“He was principled, but also had the ability to see beyond party. We could use more Stephen Gately’s in politics.”

A memorial service will be held at the Blount & Curry Funeral Home Carrollwood Chapel in Tampa on August 3 at 5:30 p.m. Gately was 37 years old.

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