Jacob Ogles, Author at Florida Politics - Page 2 of 22

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at jacobogles@hotmail.com.

David Shapiro narrows cash gap with Vern Buchanan

Freshly published reports show Democratic challenger David Shapiro had a strong quarter and raised more in individual contributions than Republican incumbent Rep. Vern Buchanan.

But heading into the final stretch of the campaign, Buchanan holds a cash advantage of almost $1 million in the race for Florida’s 16th Congressional District.

Buchanan pulled in $503,886 in contributions, including a $250,000 candidate loan, according to third-quarter financial reports.

Meanwhile, Shapiro raked in $863,335 in contributions, including a $150,000 candidate loan, since the end of the August Democratic primary. He’d also raised $160,550 this quarter before the primary. That adds up to $1,023,885.

The bottom line, Shapiro as of the end of September held $434,554 in cash on hand, and Buchanan has $1,484,572.

The news comes as Shapiro’s campaign pushes back on news that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee canceled an ad buy in the market.

At the same time, Democrats suggest that Buchanan’s choice to kick in a quarter million to the campaign shows he still takes a challenge from Shapiro seriously.

“These are incredibly strong numbers from David when compared to Vern Buchanan’s anemic support,” said Shapiro spokeswoman Lauren French. “We’ve been saying this for weeks, but this is a real race.”

But Republicans cite a bevy of polls showing Shapiro still losing this race by 7 to 10 percentage points. A St. Pete Polls showed Shapiro down by 7, but more importantly had Buchanan just over 50 percent.

The financial reports show Buchanan raked in $49,027 from individuals and $132,500 from PACs.

Shapiro since winning the nomination pulled in $613,087 from individual donors, about $5,000 from the party and another $70,281 from PACs.

And another sign of how seriously the incumbent takes the race? Buchanan reported $1,145,608 in spending this quarter; Shapiro spent $868,826 since winning the Democratic nomination.

The race has been among the hotter Congressional races in the state this cycle, though it’s never quite attained “toss-up” status among most prognosticators.

RealClearPolitics, Cook Political Report and Sabato’s Crystal Ball all have consistently kept the race in the “Leans Republican” column. And FiveThirtyEight gives Buchanan an 85 percent chance at re-election.

DCCC cancels ad buy in CD 16, all but writing off David Shapiro

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee just cancelled extensive TV ad buys in the Sarasota market, seemingly abandoning David Shapiro’s effort to unseat Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan.

“The DCCC decision to pull the plug on financial aid for David Shapiro confirms what independent polls have shown over the past two weeks—Vern Buchanan is going to win re-election,” said Max Goodman, Buchanan’s campaign manager.

Of course, the news comes the same day Shapiro told the Herald-Tribune that he’s enjoyed a successful fundraising quarter raking in $873,883 while chipping in $150,000 of his own coin. That means he added more than $1 million to his account in a time Buchanan says he raised $500,000 (with Democrats noting half of that came from his own pocket).

New Shapiro spokeswoman Lauren French insisted the strong quarter should be the news of the day.

But whatever fight Shapiro has in him to flip Florida’s 16th Congressional District likely will be fought without the help of national Democrats.

With the clocking winding down, the DCCC yanked $99,950 worth of ad buys from Sarasota-based WWSB ABC-7 alone.

The Twitter account Medium Buying noted the sudden move, and a review of Federal Communications Commission filings confirmed it.

The competing campaigns offer different reads on the significance of this exodus. French noted the DCCC invested more than $500,000 into the race, and still has $114,000 in buys planned in the next two weeks (before the canceled buy).

“This is textbook political spin from the Buchanan camp to hide the fact that they had an embarrassingly low third-quarter fundraising haul,” French said.

But Goodman said this move means the more than $500,000 in planned spending by the DCCC in essence just evaporated. That number seems to include Tampa market cancellations, where multiple races at some point were targeted by the DCCC.

And DCCC officials say Goodman is not being honest and is conflating the ongoing hybrid spending with the campaign, which is continuing, with hard ad buys. They say they haven’t given up on Shapiro.

“Investments change on a weekly basis and we’re not going to reveal our playbook,” said Cole Leiter, DCCC Southern spokesman, “but David Shapiro out-raised Buchanan 2-to-1 and has put himself in a strong position to win this race.”

The decision by national Democrats to move on follows a spate of bad polling for Shapiro, including a St. Pete Polls survey released Oct. 2 that found Buchanan with a 50-43 lead.

A Pubic Opinion Strategies poll, meanwhile, puts the race at Buchanan 52, Shapiro 42. And a University of North Florida poll has Buchanan up 49-40.

Political forecasting site FiveThirtyEightmeanwhile, now gives Buchanan a 6 out of 7 shot at re-election

Perhaps more important than the seven-percentage-point spread between the candidates, that put the incumbent above 50 percent, which if accurate means Shapiro could win all undecided voters over and still lose.

Moving forward, Shapiro won’t be completely alone in his fight. Floridians for a Fair Shake just this weekend held a rally in Bradenton hitting the incumbent on health care issues, flying a “Where’s Vern” banner over Coquina Beach by plane and having the colorful Captain character continue to ding Buchanan for buying a yacht after voting for a hefty tax cut package.

But Buchanan may be relaxing on the deck of that boat, basking in news the airwaves won’t have an extra half million in ads playing while he seeks re-election.

Mel Martin considers new SD 14 opponent ‘a business decision’

Democratic candidate Mel Martin has yet to meet her new Republican opponent in the Senate District 14 race, Tommy Wright.

But so far, she doesn’t like what she’s hearing.

When Martin heard Wright pitched to Republican Executive Committee leaders that he would “carry the Republican seat,” that’s all she needed to know.

“To me, that’s indicative of the intent to continue a statewide mentality of you only care for your voters and your campaign donors,” Martin said Monday. “Our care for all of our constituents already speaks for itself.”

Party leaders in Volusia and Brevard counties last week selected Wright as the replacement nominee for state Sen. Dorothy Hukill in SD 14.

Hukill withdrew from the election in September, announcing an aggressive return of cervical cancer. She died days later.

Since his selection, Wright paid his candidate qualifying fee and officially appears in the Division of Elections database, but has yet to report any campaign finance activity.

Party leaders indicated a willingness for Wright to self-finance his campaign. “It may have been a business decision,” Martin surmises.

Martin, a lawyer and Marine veteran, now holds an odd position in local politics.

She’s running in a district Hukill won in 2016 with 68 percent of the vote. Republican President Donald Trump that year won 56 percent of the vote to Democrat Hillary Clinton’s 39 percent, according to MCI Maps.

But Martin entered the race in August 2017 and through Oct. 5, she collected $41,850 in monetary contributions. Her new opponent jumped in just last week, with no money raised and will not have his name on the ballot.

Elections officials have already printed ballots, and expect to inform voters through letters enclosed in mail-in ballots and through notices at polling locations that a vote for Hukill will count for Wright.

So far, Martin feels frustrated by how little effort she’s seen so far to promote Wright as an individual. She pointed to political mailers encouraging voters to “support Dorothy Hukill’s legacy” through casting a Republican ballot.

Wright also stressed the legacy message in an interview with the Daytona Beach News-Journal, where Republican leaders said he would clean up the Indian River Lagoon.

Martin, though, said she has a more detailed idea of what it takes to address that environmental project, including funding to get residents off septic tanks and onto sewer service in the region while fighting to upgrade wastewater treatment facilities.

“This is a paramount and urgent situation,” she said.

Martin herself only met Hukill a couple of times. Initially, she thought the Republican, like many incumbents, had been actively avoiding forums and debates with a challenger, but then she started hearing Hukill became hard to reach for everybody. At the last candidate event that both attended, Martin said Hukill sought her out for a friendly conversation. And a few weeks later, she announced her illness.

Now, Martin runs in an unusual political climate against a political newcomer in a district that still tilts right. But all in all, she feels optimistic about her chances.

“I’m feeling pretty good,” she said.

Educator uprising: FEA delegates opt for new leadership

Teachers overthrew sitting leadership for the Florida Education Association this weekend, electing new president Fedrick C. Ingram and a slate of new officers.

Ingram previously served as vice president under Joanne McCall, but in May made clear he would run against the sitting president. At the organization’s annual Delegate Assembly in Orlando, the 1,000 assembled voting members elevated him to power.

“Be assured that we go forward today as a united union dedicated to the students we serve and committed to be the strongest of advocates for the remarkable education professionals we represent,” Ingram said after his election.

“We will stand up every day for our students, our communities and for our members, who devote their lives to the success of public education.”

The organization also elected Ingram’s running mates, Andrew Spar as vice president and Carole Gauronskas as secretary-treasurer.

The moment was also history-making, as Ingram became the first African-American president of the FEA ever. He’d previously been elected as the first black president of the United Teachers of Dade.

Spar serves as president of the Volusia Educators Association and as secretary of the Florida AFL-CIO, Florida’s largest union.

Gauronskas, who succeeds McCall’s secretary-treasurer Luke Flynt, is president of the St. Johns Educational Support Professional Association.

When Ingram first announced he would run for president, long-standing doubts about whether the FEA had successfully challenged moves by the Florida Legislature to underfund and undermine public education.

“There comes a moment in one’s life when matters become so serious and challenges so steep that hard decisions must be made,” he wrote in a Facebook post in May. “The circumstances at FEA are just that serious.”

In his acceptance speech on Saturday, Ingram took a combative posture toward the Florida Legislature.

“To Florida elected officials, get ready,” he said. “We shall be mobilized, day in and day out, in Tallahassee and all across Florida. Our present funding for public schools and higher education is insufficient—and funneling millions of dollars to charter schools with no accountability is unacceptable.

“The pay scale for Florida teachers, education staff professionals, adjunct professors and the others who serve our students is among the lowest in the nation, so it’s no wonder it’s difficult to attract quality education professionals. The stakes for our students are too high to stick with the status quo.”

He also gestured thanks to McCall, and he stressed an “ironclad” commitment to working with all members.

“FEA is a united union, fighting for real change in Florida,” he said.

Kathleen Passidomo: To stop algae problem, get serious on septic tanks

If Florida wants to fight blue-green algae and red tide, it means getting serious about septic tanks, says state Sen. Kathleen Passidomo.

“Anyone of us who has a bathroom is at fault,” the Naples Republican said.

Passidomo spoke on South Florida’s ongoing water woes at a Naples luncheon organized by the Women’s Republican Club of Naples Federated.

There, she went over the history of waterway manipulation in Florida, from the expansion of farming around Lake Okeechobee to the creation of the Herbert Hoover Dike to stop flooding in the region and the manipulation of the Kissimmee River to more rapidly direct water from Central Florida into the lake.

Over the past century or so, humanity connected the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers to Lake Okeechobee artificially while altering the natural filtration of nitrogen and phosphates in the land.

These efforts started when 30,000 people lived in South Florida, she said, and now millions of residents face the consequences.

But to address the issue means more than focusing on a few large polluters, she said. As Big Sugar gets demonized by BullSugar and other groups, Passidomo noted its importance to guarantee compliance with environmental rules but also essential to see the big picture.

“We don’t have a statewide initiative or study that looks to form a global perspective,” she told Florida Politics. That needs to change, and it will require statewide support,

“This cannot be a South Florida thing or a Southwest Florida thing,” she said. North Florida, which looks to protect its own springs, and Central Florida, where many South Florida leaders point as the source of nutrients in Lake Okeechobee itself, need to focus on eliminating septic use as well.

Passidomo also referenced an attack by Annisa Karim, her Democratic challenger in state Senate District 28, noting the incumbent, in fact, voted to lift requirements that property owners regularly have septic tank inspections.

“If I could go back would I have voted to repeal it? Probably not,” Passidomo acknowledged.

But she noted that vote came at the early stages of the Great Recession when people feared a government inspection forcing them to pay for $25,000 or $30,000 worth of repairs or replacements at their own homes.

Now, Passidomo wants to take a fresh look at septic tank requirements. She noted communities like Key West addressed the matter at the local level.

Indeed, Melba Wagner, a former member of the Key West utility board, attended the luncheon today and said the decision to put septic requirements on homeowners created an uproar on the island but resulted in drastically improved water quality.

Passidomo says there must be septic improvements statewide, but it can’t be forced on communities.

“We can’t do what we usually do, which is to tell local government to just eat it,” she said. “What we need to do is say, this is a framework, and you have to decide on a community level how to get there.

“The issue is funding, and for all of those of us who live here we have to participate in the funding.”

As for Karim’s suggestion that lawmakers need more scientists in the Legislature and that Passidomo doesn’t follow the research, the incumbent pushed back hard on the notion.

“If you’re a scientist, go and do your job,” Passidomo said. “Don’t just talk about it. Come up with solutions. Standing up and saying the Legislature isn’t doing the right thing isn’t solving the problem. Go to Mote Marine and help. Then you can come to me and say this and this are the cause of that.”

“I can then take your science say let’s make sure this doesn’t happen and this doesn’t happen so that doesn’t happen. That’s what I can do. That’s what I’m good at doing.”

Rick Scott says transitional shelter assistance available in Bay County

Gov. Rick Scott on Sunday said a request for transitional sheltering assistance has been approved for Bay County.

The news means the Federal Emergency Management Agency will provide more options for places for families to stay, including hotel rooms, for individuals displaced by Hurricane Michael.

“They’ll begin accepting applications tomorrow,” Scott said on social media.

FEMA may provide such assistance to state governments in areas where disaster survivors cannot return to their residence because their home remains uninhabitable or sits in an area that’s inaccessible due to a Presidential-declared disaster.

TSA funding will be subject to cost-sharing with state government, according to FEMA guidelines. Those eligible will have hotel and motel lodging covered for a limited period, minus incidental costs such as phone calls, room service, and food.

FEMA most recently offered such assistance to areas struckb by Hurricane Florence in September.

To be eligible, individuals or households must register with FEMA, pass an identity verification, prove they live in the affected area (in this case Bay County) and that they have been displaced from their pre-disaster residence.

FEMA will fund the short-term accommodations through a vendor-managed payment system to shelter providers.

This assistance won’t count toward an applicant’s amount of assistance available under the Individuals and Households Program.

FEMA maintains a database online of evacuee hotels for TSA-eligible individuals.

Sen. Marco Rubio today stressed that in Bay County, a high concentration of residents remain isolated.

The assistance becomes available after major storms, but state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, who has been working in Bay County since the storm struck, credited Scott’s relationship to President Donald Trump for the fast approval of TSA service.

State officials continue rescue and recovery efforts in storm-struck areas and will work with individuals impacted by the hurricane to learn of available services and assistance.

Bill Nelson: Tyndall won’t close over Hurricane Michael damage

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson says Tyndall Air Force Base won’t close despite tremendous damage caused by Hurricane Michael.

Tyndall officials this week briefed the Florida Democrat, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, on the impact of the storm.

“Tyndall is totally devastated,” Nelson said. “The older buildings will have to be razed and rebuilt The newer structures on the base that have survived the monster storm will need substantial repairs.”

But he said the base remains a “vital component of our national defense.”

The proclamation comes despite a New York Times article this week stating the base was “a total loss.”

Base leadership meanwhile continues to tell service members and families stationed there that progress continues.

“Today is a better day than yesterday, and things are going to keep getting better,” wrote Col. Brian S. Laidlaw, 325th Fighter Wing Commander, in an open letter Saturday.

“Each day we recover more of Tyndall Air Force Base. Teams from around the country have arrived with the people and equipment we need to recover from Hurricane Michael.”

The letter does allude to continued evacuation of the base, as well as the arrival of recovery teams there. Laidlaw said minimum evacuation distance requirements have been reduced.

Anxiety about the significance of the base economically for the Panhandle ratcheted up, especially when it became clear Michael brought storm strength on par or greater than Hurricane Andrew.

In 1992, that infamous storm struck Homestead Air Force Base and largely leveled the facilities.

The following year, the Base Closure and Realignment Commission recommended to President Bill Clinton that the base be shuttered. It remains in use as the Homestead Air Reserve Base but no longer houses the same level of activity.

But Nelson said Tyndall won’t suffer the same fate. One of the world’s largest testing and training grounds for the military remains in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. He said that greatly reduced the chance of closure.

Nelson’s office thinks the senator was the first federal official to tour the storm-impacted area of the state. He said he also continues to work with Republican Sen. Marco Rubio on bipartisan efforts to bring federal resources to the coast for assistance with recovery and rebuilding.

Andrew Gillum off campaign trail through Wednesday, debate likely canceled

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, the Democratic nominee for Florida Governor, will remain off the campaign trail until at least Wednesday while his community recovers from Hurricane Michael. That means the first gubernatorial debate will likely be canceled.

“I’m as eager to get back out there talking to folks,” Gillum said in a Facebook message to supporters. “I still believe in the possibilities that lie ahead to transform our state.… But we’ve got to get this job done here first.”

Gillum was set to appear at a Telemundo debate with Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis on Tuesday in Orlando.

“Over the past several days I have been unable to participate in dozens of campaign events, and this week that will include our participation in the debate sponsored by Telemundo 31 Orlando,” Gillum later said in a statement.

“I deeply appreciate the organizers’ understanding of the situation in Tallahassee. We will work diligently to ensure Telemundo and its audience are represented in the two scheduled debates and other possible forums.”

Gillum noted the Tallahassee City Commission will hold a meeting on Wednesday evening. By that point, Gillum said, officials hope to restore power for 90 percent of city residents. But, right now, the city remains heavily impacted by the storm.

“My first priority, my first job,” Gillum said, “is to be the Mayor and to do that job as effectively as I can. To that end, we’re still here in Tallahassee and not able to get back on the trail yet.”

Gillum spokesman Geoff Burgan announced the news on Saturday afternoon.

That prompted political analyst Steve Schale to note Gillum’s electoral success will rely on the candidate succeeding at the job he already holds.

“As the old saying goes, you do well by doing good,” Schale said. “He’s done a great job this week.”

Gillum left the campaign trail on Sunday when the storm, still a tropical storm, threatened the coast. Ultimately, the storm grew to greater strength than Hurricane Andrew, recalibrating schedules for a number of candidates.

But Gillum also noted Tallahassee didn’t bear the brunt of the storm. “We are extremely thankful that our community was able to, frankly, dodge what could have been a significantly more impactful storm,” he said.

Still, some 110,000 Tallahassee residents lost power at some point.

But because areas like Bay County and Mexico City suffered worse harm, Gillum said, and regional response remains important for Panhandle leaders.

He apologized to supporters who looked forward to seeing Gillum speak at campaign events, but asked they continue to represent his vision on the trail.

He hoped by week’s end, he could “get ourselves back on the trail with the rest of you working to flip Florida.”

Walt Disney Company donates $1 million to Florida Disaster Fund

The Walt Disney Company announced $1 million in support for communities impacted by Hurricane Michael. The money will go to the Florida Disaster Fund.

Gov. Rick Scott and Volunteer Florida thanked the corporation for the philanthropic gesture.

“We are extremely thankful for Walt Disney Company’s support of the Florida Disaster Fund,” Scott said.

“This funding will support disaster response and recovery efforts and help Floridians affected by Hurricane Michael. This funding will go directly toward relief efforts in areas impacted by Hurricane Michael.”

Disney CEO Robert Iger said the strong connection to the state of Florida inspired the donation.

“All of us here at Disney have the families and communities impacted by this powerful storm in our hearts,” Iger said.

“Florida has been our home for almost 50 years, and our contribution will support our neighbors as they rebuild their communities in the wake of this powerful storm.”

In addition to monetary support, the company announced any donations made by Disney employees to eligible relief and recovery efforts will be met dollar-for-dollar by the Walt Disney Company Foundation’s Disney Employee Matching Gifts program.

David Mica Jr., CEO for Volunteer Florida, hopes the generous contribution will inspire individuals who want to make a difference right now.

“So many people are watching the news, seeing the devastation caused by Hurricane Michael and asking what they can do,” Mica said. “This is what they can do — donate to the Florida Disaster Fund and provide both immediate relief and long-term recovery for their friends, neighbors and affected Floridians.”

The Florida Disaster Fund, a private fund established by the state government, helps communities responding to and recovering from emergencies and natural disasters.

Credit card donations can be made online to the Florida Disaster Fund at volunteerflorida.org/donatefdf and checks can be made to the Volunteer Florida Foundation and sent by mail, attention Florida Disaster Fund, to 3800 Esplanade Way, Suite 180, Tallahassee, FL, 32311.

Trulieve launches relief drive to help Panhandle neighbors

Trulieve, one of the leading licensed medical marijuana providers in Florida, announced it would launch a statewide donation drive to help areas affected by Hurricane Michael.

The Gadsden County-based company in a press release stressed the connection between the business and the Panhandle and Big Bend communities affected by the storm.

“We’re fortunate enough to call Quincy our home and recognize that as the largest employer in the area, we have a responsibility to give back as much as we can,” said Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers.

“Our statewide distribution system is in place and will be collecting supplies twice per week from each store and delivering back to Quincy. We aim to help as many residents in need as possible and will continue this effort until our community has sufficiently recovered.”

The community of Quincy, already dealing with poverty conditions before the hurricane hit the region, has counted on job growth from Trulieve headquartering in the region, according to the Tallahassee Democrat.

Right now, all Trulieve locations remain fully operational and will be open seven days a week.

The company, which just opened its 20th store, will have supply drop-offs at all properties including in Tallahassee, Pensacola, Jacksonville, Lady Lake, Gainesville, Orlando, Edgewater, Palm Coast, Vero Beach, New Port Richey, Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Bradenton, Sarasota, North Fort Myers, Boynton Beach, Dania Beach, Miami and Kendall.

Requested items for the supply drive include, but are not limited to, water, non-perishable foods, first aid items, batteries, baby food and formula, diapers, cleaning supplies, toiletries and pet food.

The medical marijuana industry remains fairly new, largely launching after voter approval in 2016 of a constitutional amendment authorizing medical cannabus for debilitation medical conditions.

In that time, Trulieve has expanded the most aggressively, and already opened two thirds of an allotted 30 locations for each license holder in the state of Florida. The company plans to open all of its location before the end of January.

Trulieve today sits on 68 percent of the medical marijuana market share in Florida.

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