Phil Ammann, Author at Florida Politics

Phil Ammann

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist, editor and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing, reporting and management experience, Phil produced content for both print and online, in addition to founding several specialty websites, including His broad range included covering news, local government and entertainment reviews for, technical articles, and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine as well as advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as editor and production manager for Extensive Enterprises Media since 2013 and lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul. He can be reached at

Latest on the legislative staffing merry-go-round (House version)

With a tip of the hat to LobbyTools, here are the latest movements — both on and off — of the legislative merry-go-round in the Florida House.

On: Alexis Calatayud became a legislative assistant, and Ryan Fernandez became district secretary, for Miami Republican Rep. Vance Aloupis.

Off and on: Gloria Perez became district secretary for Lithia Republican Rep. Mike Beltran. Perez previously worked for former Rep. Jake Raburn.

Off and on: Beth Lerner became a legislative assistant and Nicholas Cannon is district secretary for Delray Beach Republican Rep. Mike Caruso. Lerner served as legislative assistant for former Rep. Bill Hager.

On: Johnny McMahon is a legislative assistant and Clint Streicher is district secretary for Boynton Beach Democratic Rep. Joseph Casello.

On: Brendan Burke is a legislative assistant for Indian Rocks Beach Republican Rep. Nick DiCeglie.

On: Ingrid Felforn became district secretary for Tampa Democratic Rep. Fentrice Driskell.

On: Jaylin Matir became district secretary for Miami-Dade Republican Rep. Juan Alfonso Fernandez-Barquin.

On: Vance Coley became a legislative assistant for DeLand Republican Rep. Elizabeth Fetterhoff.

On: Derick Tabertshofer became a legislative assistant for Fort Myers Republican Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen.

Off and on: Dawn Faherty is a legislative assistant and Nancy Bowers is district secretary for Oxford Republican Rep. Brett Hage. Both previously served late Rep. Don Hahnfeldt.

On: Miles Davis is a legislative assistant and Paulette Smith is district secretary for Tampa Democrat Rep. Dianne Hart.

Off and on: MaryAlice Bennett became a legislative assistant and Tangie Jennings is district secretary for Fort Pierce Democratic Rep. Dolores Hogan Johnson. Both previously worked for former Rep. Larry Lee.

On: Anika Hamilforn is district secretary for Coconut Creek Democratic Rep. Kristin Jacobs.

On: Samantha Verner became district secretary for Lighthouse Point Republican Rep. Chip LaMarca.

On: Kyle Langan returned as a legislative assistant for Dover Republican Rep. Lawrence McClure.

Off and on: Alexis Mansolo became a legislative assistant, and Teri Mitze became district secretary, for Boca Raton Democratic Rep. Tina Polsky. Mansolo previously worked for Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, and Mitze came from former Rep. Joseph Abruzzo‘s office.

Off and on: Pam Nickell became district secretary for Bradenton Republican Rep. Will Robinson. Nickell worked in former Rep. Julio Gonzalez‘s office.

On: Damien Jane is a legislative assistant for Miami Republican Rep. Anthony Rodriguez.

Off and on: Angelique Rinaldi became a legislative assistant, and Rochelle Rego became district secretary, for Cocoa Republican Rep. Tyler Sirois. Rinaldi previously served late Sen. Dorothy Hukill.

On: Kristellys Estanga is a legislative assistant for Orlando Democratic Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith.

Off and on: Kathy Johnson became a legislative assistant for Winter Springs Republican Rep. David Smith. Johnson previously served as legislative assistant for former Rep. Bobby Olszewski.

On: Nick Carper is a legislative assistant for test the Democratic Rep. Susan Valdes.

Off and on: Margie Ramirez became district secretary for Gulfport Democratic Rep. Jennifer Webb. Ramirez was district secretary for Janet Cruz when she served in the House.

Off and on: Becky Zizzo became district secretary for Land O’Lakes Republican Rep. Ardian Zika. Zizzo served as district secretary for former Speaker Richard Corcoran.

Latest on the legislative staffing merry-go-round (Senate version)

With a tip of the hat to LobbyTools, here are the latest movements — both on and off — of the legislative merry-go-round in the Florida Senate.

Off and on: Andrew Liebert and Jae Williams became legislative assistants, and Karen Whaley became district secretary for Republican Sen. Ben Albritton of Bartow. Williams previously worked for former Sen. Denise Grimsley. Whaley worked with Albritton during his time in the House.

Off and on: Taylor Ferguson became a legislative assistant for Republican Sen. Rob Bradley of Orange Park. Ferguson previously served as a legislative assistant for former Rep. Jake Raburn.

On: Jena Kingery and Sebastian Belloni are legislative assistants for Democratic Sen. Janet Cruz of Tampa.

Off and on: Mauricio Montiel and Judith Ruiz became legislative assistants for Republican Sen. Manny Diaz of Hialeah Gardens. Montiel worked for Diaz in the House and former Rep. Carlos Trujillo before that.

Off: Kathy Galea is no longer chief legislative assistant for Senate President Bill Galvano of Bradenton.

On: Darlene VanRiper became a legislative assistant for Republican Sen. Gayle Harrell of Stuart.

On: Brian Flaherty and Mari Riba became legislative assistants for Republican Sen. Ed Hooper of Clearwater.

On and off: Melonie Hoyt replaced David Ballard as a legislative assistant for Republican Sen. Tom Lee of Brandon. Hoyt previously worked for former Sen. Dana Young of Tampa. Ballard is now legislative assistant got freshman Republican Rep. Tommy Gregory of Sarasota.

On: Teri Cariota is a legislative assistant for Democratic Sen. Jason Pizzo of Miami. She’s also listed as a legislative assistant for Democratic Rep. Dotie Joseph of North Miami. Cariota previously served as a legislative assistant for former Rep. Roy Hardemon.

On: Laura Jimenez returned as a legislative assistant for Democratic Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez of Miami.

Personnel note: Chris Hudson moves up to AFP national post

A veteran of one of Florida’s most influential policy groups is going national.

Chris Hudson, state director for Americans For Prosperity-Florida, will now become AFP’s vice president of State Government Affairs. Hudson has been the group’s top Florida operative since 2014.

Skylar Zander, AFP-FL’s deputy director and chief legislative architect will become interim state director.

Hudson’s new role will be to drive national policy priorities “across the 36 states where AFP has had a permanent presence” according to a statement released Wednesday. Americans For Prosperity is the key political arm of the Koch Network; AFP-FL is its signature grassroots organization.

In Florida, Hudson played a significant part in developing a “permanent grassroots infrastructure” that included mobilizing thousands of Floridians to take action on a number of AFP issues: slowing down Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, enacting health care and education reforms (like the newly enacted Schools of Hope scholarships), as well as putting a check on government programs tagged as “corporate welfare.”

AFP-FL pressure on Florida lawmakers led to significant cuts and reforms of several incentive programs in Florida, such as film industry subsidies and taxpayer money for sports stadiums.

“I’ve learned a lot over my four years with the Florida Chapter,” Hudson says. “I’m looking forward to sharing those lessons with our teams across the country to help drive significant policy victories that promote the principles of a free and open society by reducing barriers, so all Americans can achieve their highest potential.”

Hudson also credits supporters, both locally and in Tallahassee, for “cementing AFP in their communities as a trusted resource to lawmakers and community groups.”

With such a foundation, Hudson says he is confident AFP-FL will reach “even greater heights.”

“I look forward to seeing firsthand our new and current leaders step up to lead the charge,” Hudson says.

Before his time at AFP-FL, Hudson spent three years leading government relations for public relations firm Strategic Advocacy and the Foundation for Government Accountability, a nonpartisan free-market think tank. In 2010, Hudson served as Central Florida field director for the House majority’s campaign effort, working with 20 legislative campaigns along the I-4 Corridor.

Hudson is based in Naples, where he lives with his wife and daughter.

Mosaic gets legal win; class action blocked in Hurricane Frances spill

In a case stemming from wastewater spilling into Tampa Bay during a 2004 hurricane, a state appeals court Friday said commercial fishermen cannot pursue a lawsuit against Mosaic Fertilizer, LLC as a class action.

Fishermen filed the lawsuit against Mosaic because a dike at company holding pond in Hillsborough County was breached during Hurricane Frances, sending wastewater into the bay.

The fishermen argue in the lawsuit that the spill caused the loss of underwater plants, fish and other types of marine life and sought to pursue the case as a class action.

But a panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal on Friday overturned a lower-court ruling that would have granted class “certification.”

The appeals court, in an 11-page decision, said in part that the request for class certification was based on testimony from two fishermen.

“In this case, the fishermen failed to carry their burden of positing any reasonable methodology for proving classwide claims,” said the decision, written by Judge Stevan Northcutt and joined by judges Patricia Kelly and Samuel Salario. “The circuit court … amended the putative class to include any holders of commercial fishing licenses who claim to have been damaged by the Mosaic spill. The fishermen, therefore, had the burden of proving — beyond mere ‘supposition’ — some methodology for generalized proof by which the class representative would necessarily prove the cases of all other commercial fishing license holders who claim to have been damaged by the spill.”


Republished with permission of the News Service of Florida.

It’s not the party … it’s the after party! A rundown of where Florida candidates will be on election night

On Election Day, as polls close, the after-parties begin.

Candidates — along with nearly everyone else in America — will be glued to their screens Tuesday night for election results. In the end, win or lose, there will be a party.

Some will celebrate a hard-fought victory, while others will be a bit more somber, drowning their sorrows.

Want to party like a politician? Here’s a rundown of where candidates will be as the polls close.

If your favorite candidate isn’t listed, check the Party or venue websites for more information.

U.S. Senate

Gov. Rick Scott is hosting his election night party at 7 p.m., Naples. The address will be provided upon RSVP. Press credentials required; media access begins 3:30 p.m. Hotel rooms are available in the Scott for Florida room block; email for details. RSVP must be submitted by Friday, November 2, to


The Ron DeSantis for Governor campaign election night party begins 6 p.m., Rosen Centre Executive Ballroom, 9840 International Dr., Orlando. The event is open to members of the media with credentials; press preset begins 4 p.m. Please apply for credentials here.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, wife R. Jai Gillum will join running mate and Orlando businessman Chris King and his wife Kristen will hold an election night celebration starting 7 p.m., Florida A&M University Lee Hall, 1601 South Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, Tallahassee. While it is a public event, those planning to attend should RSVP to secure a ticket. Tickets are required for entrance in the area. Parking will be limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Shuttle service will be available from Bragg Memorial Stadium to the election night celebration starting at 6 p.m. and ending at midnight. Attendees should prepare to go through an airport security-style entry — please do not bring large bags/backpacks, laptops, large camera equipment, signage or weapons. Additionally, there will be a “clear bag” policy in effect for the event. Clear bags must adhere to the dimensions of no larger than 12” x 6” x 12;” small non-clear shoulder bags or clutch purses must be no larger than 4.5” x 6.5.” All bags will be checked upon entrance to the event. The public entrance for this event will be on Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd, south of Lee Hall and adjacent to the FAMU Student Union Building.

Reform Party gubernatorial candidate Darcy Richardson will be hosting a private event to monitor results in Jacksonville with campaign staff and family. The Reform Party of Florida is hosting its watch party at the Holiday Inn on 8310 Galbraith Road in Tampa.

Florida Cabinet

The Ashley Moody for Attorney General campaign party will be at the Renaissance Tampa International Plaza Hotel, Costa Del Sol Ballroom, 4200 Jim Walter Blvd., Tampa. Doors open at 7 p.m. Media will be allowed access at 4:30 p.m. and must be set up by 6 p.m. Media contact is Christina Johnson. Contact her at

Democratic candidate for Attorney General Sean Shaw will hold his general election night event at 6 p.m., LeMéridien Tampa, 601 N Florida Ave, Tampa. RSVP or get more details on Facebook.

State Sen. Jeremy Ring, who is running for Florida Chief Financial Officer, will join The Nikki Fried for Agriculture Commissioner campaign for an election night watch party at Good Spirits, 476 N Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale. There will be parking available in the corresponding lot and garage as well as workspace set aside for the press. Doors open for guests at 7 p.m. and 4:20 p.m. for members of the press. RSVP to

Agriculture Commissioner candidate Matt Caldwell will cast ballots with his family at 5:30 p.m., House of Worship Church of God, 940 Pondella Road, North Fort Myers.

U.S. House

CD 2 — Democrat Bob Rackleff will hold an election-night party, 7 p.m., Waterworks, 1133 Thomasville Road, Tallahassee.

CD 6 — The Nancy Soderberg campaign and state Rep. Patrick Henry invites voters, supporters, and volunteers for a watch party, 7 p.m., Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery, 1864 Victory Circle, Bldg K, Daytona Beach. Press contact: Wellesley Daniels (917) 751-4782 or

CD 9 — Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto will be at the Ramada Gateway Hotel Ballroom, 7470 Irlo Bronson Memorial HWY 192 in Kissimmee. Republican nominee Wayne Liebnitzky hasn’t announced an election night activity, possibly because Florida’s 9th is a Dem lock.

CD 12 — Republican U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis is hosting a results-watching party 7 p.m. at the St. Nicholas Community Center, 348 N. Pinellas Avenue, Tarpon Springs. For more details contact either Summer Robertson (727) 237-6811 or Towson Fraser (850) 443-1444.

CD 13

CD 15 — Democrat Kristen Carlson will hold her election night watch party at 7 p.m., The Lakeland Room, Historic Lake Mirror Tower Building, 130 S. Massachusetts Ave., Lakeland. RSVP to Robert Walters at for press credentials.

CD 18 — Democratic challenger Lauren Baer hosts a watch party with friends and supporters from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., Palm Beach Gardens Embassy Suites, 4350 PGA Blvd, Palm Beach Gardens. Those looking to attend can RSVP by using this link.

CD 19 — Democrat David Holden hosts a watch party with friends and supporters starting 6:30 p.m., Holiday Inn Fort Myers Airport at Town Center, 9931 Interstate Commerce Drive, Fort Myers. Venue information at Open to media but limited to the public (due to space). Advanced notice appreciated. Contact David Silverberg at (239) 451-1253.

CD 25 — The Mary Barzee Flores for Congress election night party begins 7 p.m., The Bend, 6844 NW 169th St, Hialeah. The event is open to the public and press. Press are welcome to arrive after 6:30 p.m.; doors will open to the public at 7 p.m. Day-of, on-site contact for logistics will be Jade Tacka, (817) 880-5423 or For all other media inquiries, contact Sam Miller at (703) 408-1447 or

CD 26 — The Carlos Curbelo campaign is inviting voters to an 8 p.m. watch party at his campaign headquarters, 12877 SW 42nd St, Miami. Contact

CD 26 — Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell will hold her party starting 7:30 p.m., Black Point Ocean Grill, 24775 SW 87th Ave., Cutler Bay.

CD 27 — Democrat Donna Shalala will hold her election night watch party beginning 7 p.m. at the Coral Gables Woman’s Club, 1001 E Ponce De Leon Blvd, Coral Gables.

State Senate

SD 18 — State Rep. Janet Cruz will hold her watch party 7 p.m., Grillsmith Restaurant, 14303 N Dale Mabry Hwy, Tampa.

SD 24 — Lindsay Cross will be at The Getaway, 13090 Gandy Blvd N in St. Pete, 6 p.m. More information is on her campaign Facebook page.

State House

HD 1 — Vikki Garrett will join the Escambia Democratic Party for a watch party beginning 6 p.m., O’Charley’s 6233 N. Davis Hwy., Pensacola.

HD 11 — Nathcelly Rohrbaugh and AFL-CIO will be watching returns beginning 7 p.m., Chem Cell Club Inc., 2951 Riverside Dr., Fernandina Beach.

HD 11 — Nathcelly Rohrbaugh will be at 2951 Riverside Dr., Fernandina Beach.

HD 15 — Tracye Polson will be at Two Dudes Seafood Restaurant Riverside, 2665 Park St., Jacksonville (Corner of Park and King).

HD 28 — Lee Mangold will be with the Seminole County Democrats at an event starting 6 p.m., Miller’s Ale House, 477 East Altamonte Drive, Altamonte Springs.

HD 36 — State Rep. Amber Mariano’s watch party will be 7 p.m., Kickin Wingz, 8702 SR-52, Hudson.

HD 36 — Democrat David Perez will hold his party starting 7:30 p.m., La Carreta Restaurant, 5350 W 16th Ave., Hialeah. RSVP on Facebook.

HD 42 — Republican state Rep. Mike La Rosa will be at Gator’s Dockside in Saint Cloud. Democratic nominee Barbara Cady will be at Soto’s party at the Ramada Gateway in Kissimmee.

HD 47, 48, 49, 50 — Anna Eskamani, state Rep. Amy Mercado, state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith and Pam Dirschka will watch returns starting 7 p.m., Embassy Suites by Hilton Orlando Downtown, 191 East Pine Street, Orlando.

HD 48 — GOP challenger George Chandler will join the Orange County Republican Executive Committee will be at the Westgate Lakes Resort & Spa, 9055 Turkey Lake Rd., in Orlando. Many of the Florida House candidates from Orange County will be there.

HD 57 — Mike Beltran and the Hillsborough County Republican Party are inviting friends and supporters to watch election returns at 6 p.m., Due Amici Restaurant, Amici a famiglia, 1724 E. 7th Ave., Ybor City.

HD 57, 58, 59 — Democrats Debbie Katt, Phil Hornback and Adam Hattersley will be watching returns starting 6:30 p.m., 11135 Winthrop Market St, Riverview.

HD 59 — Republican Joe Wicker, who is running for an open seat in Hillsborough County’s House District 59, will hold an election-night party, 6 p.m., El Rico Frappé Latino, 122 Pierce Christie Dr., Valrico.

HD 63, 61 — Democrats Fentrice Driskell and state Rep.-elect Dianne Hart will be celebrating starting 6:30 p.m. at the Vizcaya Restaurante & Tapas Bar, 10905 N Dale Mabry Hwy, Tampa.

HD 66

HD 66 — Alex Heeren will be at the West Bay Tap House, 80 Clearwater Largo Rd S, 6 p.m. More information is on his campaign Facebook page.

HD 69 — Jennifer Webb will begin her party at 7 p.m., Peninsula Inn Gulfport, 2937 Beach Blvd. S. in Gulfport.

HD 69 — Ray Blacklidge — Gator’s Cafe, 12754 Kingfish Dr., Treasure Island, beginning 5:30 p.m. More information is on his campaign Facebook page.

HD 71 — Republican Will Robinson is hosting a campaign victory party, 6:30 p.m. The campaign will provide location upon RSVP with Allie at If you wish to stop by, include the names of all of those attending to ensure your name is on the guest list. Food and beverages will be provided.

HD 72 — State Rep. Margaret Good will be watching returns starting 7 p.m., Michael’s on East, 1212 S East Ave., Sarasota.

HD 73 — Democrat Liv Coleman in the Manatee Democratic Party will hold an event beginning 7 p.m., Manatee County Democratic Party, 435 Cortez Rd W, Bradenton.

HD 74 — Democrat Tony Mowry will join Englewood Indivisible for a watch party beginning 7:30 p.m., Stefano’s Family Restaurant, 401 S Indiana Ave., Englewood.

HD 78

HD 83 — Emma Collum holds her watch party at 7 p.m., 26 Degrees Brewing Company, 2600 E Atlantic Boulevard, Pompano Beach.

HD 84 — Democrat Delores Johnson will be watching returns starting 7 p.m. at the St. Lucie County Democratic DEC Office, 910 N. 25th Street, Fort Pierce.

HD 89 — Democrat Jim Bonfiglio is the host of the Palm Beach County Democratic Party election night watch party at 7 p.m., Embassy Suites, 1601 Belvedere Road, West Palm Beach.

HD 93 — Democrat Emma Collum will hold an election watch party starting 7 p.m., 26 Degree Brewing Company, 2600 E Atlantic Blvd, Pompano Beach.

HD 103 — Democrat Cindy Polo will join the NW Dade Democratic Club for a watch party starting 7 p.m., 5inco Indoor & Colombian Flavor, 8081 W 28th Ave., Hialeah.

HD 105 — Democrat Javier Estevez will hold an election night watch party at 7 p.m., 8502 SW 146th Court, Miami. RSVP on Facebook.

HD 113 — Democrat Michael Grieco will hold his election night watch event beginning 7 p.m., Hôtel Gaythering, 1409 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach. RSVP on Facebook.

HD 114 — Democrat Javier Fernandez is holding his event beginning 7 p.m., Pub 52, 5829 SW. 73rd St., South Miami. RSVP On Facebook.

HD 115 — Democrat Jeff Solomon will join state Sen. Annette Taddeo and Leader-Designate Kionne McGhee at an event hosted by the by Miami-Dade Democrats beginning 7 p.m., The Brick, American Kitchen & Bar, 8955 SW 72nd PL, South Miami.

HD 118 — State Rep. Robert Asencio will be holding his party starting 7 p.m., Isla del Encanto 2, 11236 SW 137th Ave., Miami.

HD 120 — Democrat Captain Steve Friedman will hold his election watch party starting 7 p.m., Angler House Marina, 80500 Overseas Hwy, Islamadora.

Down-ballot races

Pinellas County Commission District 6 — Amy Kedron is not making her event public, saying it was due to “security concerns” raised against Tampa Bay Times reporter Mark Puente.

Palm Beach County Commission — Robert Weinroth will be celebrating at 7:30 p.m., Delray Beach Marriott, 10 N Ocean Boulevard, Delray Beach.

Duval County Tax Collector — Mia Jones will be watching election returns at about 7 p.m., 645 Oak St, Jacksonville.

Candidates aren’t the only ones hosting election night parties.

The Orange County REC Victory party is at 7 p.m., Westgate Lakes Resort & Spa, 9055 Turkey Lake Rd., 7th Floor.

The United Teachers of Dade watch party begins 7:30 p.m., UTD Headquarters, 2200 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. RSVP Required.

New Florida Majority, a progressive coalition working to engage “marginalized and excluded constituencies,” will be hosting several watch parties throughout the state.

— New Florida Majority, Dream Defenders, FLIC Votes, and FANM in Action will hold a joint Amendment 4 watch party beginning 6 p.m., Little Haiti Cultural Center, 212 NE 59th Terrace, Miami.

— Also beginning 7 p.m., La Perla Escondida Restaurant, 717 N. Dixie Hwy., Palm Beach.

— Also beginning at 7 p.m., Austin’s Soul Food Restaurant, 4807 N. Main St., Jacksonville.

The Duval Democratic Party will be watching returns beginning 7 p.m., Cuba Libra Ultra Lounge, 2578 Atlantic Blvd., Jacksonville.

Duval County Republicans will be watching results at 7 p.m., Whisky Jax, 10915 Baymeadows Road, #135, Jacksonville.

The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, the group behind Amendment 4, the proposal to restore voting rights to former felons who paid their debt to society, will be holding an election watch party at 6 p.m., DoubleTree at SeaWorld, 10100 International Drive, Orlando. RSVP with kimberly@safeandjust.

Act Now for Children’s Services is hosting its Children’s Trust election night watch party starts 5:30 p.m., 1310 Southwest 13th Street, Gainesville. Online registration is here.

Jacksonville Bold for 11.2.18 — Can Jax afford Andrew Gillum?

Election Day is in sight, in Northeast Florida and everywhere else, and we preview the competitive races, as well as the ones decided shortly after 7 p.m. Tuesday.

For Jacksonville, a lot is riding on this.

If Andrew Gillum brings it home, is Jacksonville thrown under the bus?

Mayor Lenny Curry and Sheriff Mike Williams invested real political capital in the gubernatorial campaign of Ron DeSantis.

Win, and we’re in like Flynn. A defeat, however, would be a sticky wicket.

Curry has played the partisan card for over four years, both as a candidate and as an almost full-term Jacksonville Mayor. He’s been unapologetic about it. And in the Rick Scott era, that buoyed the Bold New City of the South.

As the slogan says, #ItsEasierHere. Or was, maybe.

An Andrew Gillum era would see some changes.

Would Gillum have an incentive to cater to Jacksonville, or to cities with Democratic Mayors and Sheriffs, people who didn’t actively work against him in one of the nastiest campaigns anywhere this cycle?

The question answers itself.

Though Sen. Audrey Gibson’s Democratic Party may not take the Senate, she will be the caucus leader. Which would be great, if Gibson and the Mayor’s Office had a better working relationship.

Former Mayor Alvin Brown, a Democrat, did not put his thumb on the scale against Gov. Scott, for the pragmatic reason that the city had to work with him.

If Gillum wins, will Curry be able to mend the relationship, especially with city elections just ramping up?

Democrats are animated. Curry nemesis, Gibson ally, and Jacksonville City Councilman Garrett Dennis may run for Mayor. Or Supervisor of Elections, some say. In either case, Dennis will have institutional support.

Community activists are animated. Curry may face intraparty fragging from Councilwoman Anna Brosche in the mayoral derby.

While Curry has the best political operation and the most money, he’s not going to get to March’s first election without a serious challenge.

Tuesday will shed light on where that challenge comes from and how it looks.

Likewise, another interesting question to ponder: How do things change for the city should the U.S. Congress flip?

The sole resident of Jacksonville in Congress, Rep. John Rutherford, is a Republican. Thus, Rep. Al Lawson of Tallahassee would have to carry the ball more.

Big crowds for Gillum

This week saw Democratic gubernatorial nominee Gillum bring his campaign bus tour through Northeast Florida.

The model since Gillum’s launch last year was to engage unlikely voters, and that he did with campaign stops in deeply red areas.

Andrew Gillum draws big crowds in deep red regions.

In Green Cove Springs, where Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels had been heckling him for a week prior, Gillum drew a crowd comparable to that drawn by Vice President Mike Pence days before in Jacksonville.

The St. Augustine Record caught the candidate’s act in St. Johns County: “Appearing before a crowd of hundreds, Democratic state gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum seemed to be preaching to the choir … The majority of those attending the last-minute rally waved signs of support and loudly cheered on the large blue bus that arrived at the Plaza de la Constitucion to deliver Gillum, many saying they had already voted for him or planned to before Election Day.”

Gillum started the day visiting eight churches in Jacksonville. By the end of the day, Democrats had taken the lead in turnout in Duval County for the first time in the 2018 general election.

Women for DeSantis

It’s never too late to start a women’s coalition as DeSantis launched one earlier this week in Jacksonville.

Joining DeSantis was his wife, former Jacksonville broadcast journalist Casey DeSantis, his running mate Rep. Jeanette Núñez, and Núñez’s legislative colleague, Rep. Cyndi Stevenson.

On the campaign trail, the DeSantis duo is a package deal.

Núñez dished up some red meat, contrasting her running mate with Mayor Gillum.

“I know the difference between a man of principle, a man who has served our country, and a man who has a vision for Florida,” Núñez said, “as opposed to what our opponent has to offer, which is radical left wing ideology that has never worked and never will.”

In a hard-hitting campaign, one full of negative attacks on both sides, an event like this is designed with optics intended to humanize the candidate.

The other side of the story: DeSantis stops short of calling Gillum a ‘thief’ at raucous rally presser.

Jinko uh-oh

Gov. Scott may have profited from a Chinese solar panel company entering the Jacksonville market, GateHouse reported this week.

The de rigueur Rick Scott investment story.

JinkoSolar’s soon-to-debut facility also could pad Scott’s vast, personal bottom line. He’s an investor in a subsidiary of NextEra Energy, the parent of utility giant Florida Power & Light,” GateHouse’s John Kennedy reported.

“In the case of JinkoSolar, the governor played a very public role in bringing the company to Jacksonville. According to the Senate disclosure of his investments, Scott owns as much as $250,000 in NextEra Partners stock, and his wife has holdings up to $500,000.”

Scott didn’t mention this when welcoming the c0mpany to Jacksonville, surprisingly.

The company you keep

Gov. Scott is slated for a Jacksonville return Friday afternoon. Down in some polls, it is by no means certain he will get to the Senate.

Rick Scott pivots right in the Senate race’s closing days.

Thus, he’s making a base play: a souls to the polls event, aided by controversial political consultant Raymond Johnson.

Scott’s not a live-quote, typically, but Johnson is, and it would be interesting to know how many of his positions Scott hews to.

On World AIDS Day, Johnson accused the government of “coddling” those who suffer from the disease.

“By their admission their [sic] is a problem in Jacksonville with Aides [sic?] and STDs from in their own words ‘Men who have sex with men.’ Yet we hate because we want to love these people enough to help them and save them from these deadly diseases? Why is [sic] our city leaders hating these people enough to coddle sick people in their illness [sic?] by giving them the special rights [sic?]?”

Scott: A Chamber conservative. Johnson is … not.

“While it is natural to expect the flooding along the river notice also the flooding was downtown Jacksonville, San Marco and Riverside. The area representing the LGBT HRO agenda. The Downtown establishment/ chamber group pushing the HRO. You have probably seen the picture of the Chamber of Commerce sign flooded. So seven months after passing the HRO, (7 is God’s number of completion) and on 9/11 our city floods with historic flooding? Our city had given God no reason to spare us with the wicked disobedience it committed. Gods love and mercy comes with these types of judgment signs as they are calls to repentance before the final judgment, [SIC]” Johnson remarked.

The Duval GOP continues to be interesting.

Congressional race to watch

The most competitive Congressional race in the region is Florida’s 6th Congressional District due south of Jacksonville, where Democrat Nancy Soderberg attempts to flip the Republican seat currently held by Republican Michael Waltz.

Nancy Soderberg hopes for a flip in CD 6.

Soderberg has led the money race consistently and will have raised roughly $3,000,000 once all the receipts are tallied. That might not be enough to take the seat previously held by gubernatorial nominee DeSantis, however.

Waltz, meanwhile, will be around the $2 million mark. Consultant Tim Baker is confident, however, that the district’s historic Republican lean (Trump and DeSantis both won by over 15 points in 2016) will prevail.

The other races in the region are laughers.

Republican Congressmen Rutherford and Ted Yoho will vanquish cash-poor Democratic competition in their heavy-Republican districts, and Democrat Lawson likewise will breeze to victory in his Dem-plurality district. Money and registration statistics will prove prohibitive for challengers.

Million-dollar House seat

The race to succeed Jay Fant in Westside Jacksonville’s House District 15 remains hotly contested between Republican Wyman Duggan and Democrat Tracye Polson.

An expensive race for an open seat on Jacksonville’s Westside.

Money has flowed in this race, as shown by the latest campaign finance reports (through Oct. 19).

Between her campaign account and political committee, Polson raised $19,673 and loaned her campaign an additional $55,000 in the week between Oct. 13 and 19.

Since launching the campaign, Polson has amassed $626,617. Roughly $50,000 of that is still available.

Duggan likewise was active during the same time frame, raising $27,150 between his campaign account and political committee, with another $7,000 of in-kind from the Republican Party of Florida for polling.

The most interesting donor: incumbent Rep. Jay Fant, who had not gone out of his way to embrace the Duggan candidacy in the primary.

Duggan raised $354,743 from the beginning of his campaign through Oct. 19. He had roughly $59,000 available as of that date.

Between them, Polson and Duggan have raised almost $982,000. When combining that of two other Republicans in the primary (who raised $100,000 between them), total receipts top $1 million.

The rest of the story …

The Polson race is the only potential flip for Duval Democrats, given a combination of Republican plurality/majority districts and fundraising edges for GOP incumbents.

In HD 11, Rep. Cord Byrd has raised almost $188,000 between his campaign account and his political committee. As of Oct. 31, he had over $70,000 on hand. Democratic opponent Nathcelly Rohrbaugh raised just over $30,000 in the same period, with just over $7,000 on hand.

Cord Byrd should be able to thank his supporters early Tuesday evening.

HD 12 incumbent Republican Clay Yarborough raised nearly $190,000 through Oct. 31, with $63,000 on hand. Democrat Tim Yost raised just over $20,000 and retained just over $8,000 for the home stretch.

HD 13 and 14 were decided in August: Democrats Tracie Davis and Kim Daniels will return to Tallahassee.

HD 16, meanwhile, continues the trend of Republican fundraising advantage: Republican Jason Fischer, between his campaign account and his political committee, raised over $368,000 in this cycle through Oct. 31. He has nearly $85,000 on hand.

Fischer’s Democratic opponent, Ken Organes, has raised nearly $49,000, yet retained under $13,000.

The landscape is similarly bleak in the Senate race next week. Democratic challenger Billee Bussard raised just over $41,000 and had just over $11,000 to deploy. Republican incumbent Aaron Bean, between his campaign account and his political committee, has over $200,000 on hand, having raised close to $600,000 this cycle.

One positive on the Senate side: caucus leader Audrey Gibson was re-elected in August, with no Republican opposition.

Bean lists busy schedule

State Sen. Aaron Bean is up for re-election Tuesday, but thanks to Senate District 4’s hefty GOP advantage and the incumbent’s beefy campaign account, he’s got a full slate of events planned over the next two weeks.

Aaron Bean is a busy guy.

On Saturday morning, the Fernandina Beach Republican will address attendees at the opening ceremony of the Jacksonville Walk to End Alzheimer’s held at the Times-Union Center for Performing Arts, and Thursday he’s got a doubleheader on the docket: An 11 a.m. talk in Balis Park for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign Kickoff and a 12:30 p.m. keynote at the Florida Life Care Residents Association’s 2018 Annual Conference.

A week after Election Day, Bean will keep it local with a Nov. 13 talk at Fernandina Beach Christian Academy starting at 9:50 a.m. before heading to attending Leadership Nassau’s Youth Government Day at Hilliard Town Hall from 11 a.m. on.

The rest of Bean’s schedule for the week: The Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center’s Annual See the Girl Luncheon, to be held at the Jessie Ball duPont Center at noon Nov. 14; and an 11 a.m. stop at the FOP and the Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation’s joint event dedicating 53 defibrillators to local police departments Nov. 15.

GOP to Jones?

Both candidates in the November election for Duval County Tax Collector are attempting political comebacks.

Democrat Mia Jones, CEO of Agape Health Services, was formerly on the Jacksonville City Council and the Florida House. Republican Jim Overton, a Realtor by trade, was the former Duval County Property Appraiser and a Councilman in his own right.

Jones and Overton were the top two finishers in August’s blanket primary. Jones, the sole Democrat in the field, got 47 percent of the vote. Overton, who split GOP loyalty with two other candidates, garnered 21 percent of the vote in a heated primary with former state Rep. Lake Ray and former Councilman Doyle Carter.

With just over a week left in the campaign, Jones has to some degree closed the fundraising gap with Overton in recent weeks (as of receipts through Oct. 19). She has more cash on hand than the well-heeled Republican.

The return of Mia Jones is garnering Republican support, too.

And also notable: Republican support finding its way to Jones.

Local establishment pillars John Baker and Gary Chartrand ponied up, as did Kathryn Peyton (whose husband John Peyton was Jacksonville Mayor).

Prominent Democrats, including political allies like former Mayor Alvin Brown (a consultant currently), also gave.

Jones, who did not self-finance, has raised $100,195 during the campaign, and as of Oct. 19, she had just over $30,000 on hand.

Overton has $22,000 on hand of the over $176,000 he raised and self-financed during the campaign.

Reduced quality?

The Jax Lookout website spotlights declines in quality of life spending. If Anna Brosche were to run for mayor, expect talking points along these lines, which could force Mayor Curry to play defense.

Quality of life in Jacksonville is quickly becoming a campaign talking point.

“City of Jacksonville funding for libraries, children’s services, arts and culture, and vulnerable persons has remained flat at $73 million in nominal dollars for a decade. In FY ’09, funding for these “quality of life” categories totaled $72.8 million. Mayor Lenny Curry’s proposed FY ’19 budget totals $73.4 million for these categories, an increase of less than 1 percent when not accounting for inflation,” the Lookout asserts.

“When adjusted for inflation, current funding for these categories is worth some $14 million or 18.5 percent less than in 2009. This despite an 8.5 percent increase in population, a 27 percent increase in the general fund, and a 37 percent increase in the combined Sheriff’s Office and Fire and Rescue department budgets (all nominal dollars). When adjusted for inflation, the general fund has increased almost 8 percent, JSO 8.5 percent, and Fire and Rescue 20 percent over the decade.”

The City invests $6 less per capita into the quality of life than a decade ago, the Lookout claims.

JTA grabs gold

The Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) has been recognized for bus safety excellence by the Florida Public Transportation Association (FPTA).

JTA Chief Transportation Officer, Lisa Darnall, accepted the Gold Bus Award during the awards ceremony at the FPTA Annual Conference last month in Daytona Beach.

JTA Chief Executive Officer Nathaniel Ford said: “Our top priority is the safety and security of our passengers and staff. The JTA See & Say app reinforces a safety culture that is embedded in the behavior of every employee and in everything we do.”

The Gold Bus Award recognizes transportation systems that have implemented programs or projects to address specific safety issues successfully. JTA received the Gold Safety Award for its comprehensive safety program, including the new JTA See & Say mobile app. The app allows employees and customers to quickly send alerts, photos and other messages of concern directly to JTA’s safety office for investigation. Since its inception earlier this year, nearly 700 users have downloaded the app.

Also, the Authority took home three marketing awards from the FPTA for its ad campaign in J Magazine, featuring the new regional transportation center and its plan for autonomous vehicles. JTA also picked up awards for its Making Moves TV show series “Why I Ride” and the Choice Rider Campaign based on the “Why I Ride” series.

To view the latest in the award-winning “Why I Ride” series, click on the image below:

JAXPORT sets another record

For the third consecutive year, JAXPORT has notched record double-digit growth in container volume.

In the 2018 fiscal year, the port authority moved nearly 1.3 million containers in its public seaport, a 23 percent increase over 2017. JAXPORT has set container volume records over the past three years.

The growth in general cargo volumes fueled another record for the port: nearly 10.5 million tons of cargo moved through JAXPORT last year.

When combined with the containers handled through private terminals, the Port of Jacksonville is Florida’s largest container port complex.

Asian container trade continues to show significant growth, with a 12 percent increase over the past year, with nearly 429,000 Asian containers moved. JAXPORT’s Asian trade grew an average of 14 percent annually over the past five years. With new service and capacity, as well as the federal project to deepen the Jacksonville shipping channel to 47 feet, a push to handle even more cargo aboard the largest ships is now well underway.

JAXPORT remains one of the nation’s busiest vehicle handling ports, moving more than 665,000 units in the 2018 fiscal year.

Brew at the Zoo

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens goes wild next week with Brew at the Zoo.

The 12th annual food and drink festival is Friday, Nov. 9, beginning 7 p.m., featuring vendors from around Jacksonville, live music, games and more. Proceeds from the event benefit the care and feeding of more than 2,000 animals and over 1,000 plants at the Zoo.

As the wildest food and drink festival in Jacksonville, Brew at the Zoo gives guests a chance to enjoy unlimited tastes of over 150 craft and import beers, spirits, wine, and nonalcoholic beverages, as well as sample food from local restaurants. VIPs have access to an exclusive full bar.

Go wild at the Zoo … for a good cause.

All guests will enjoy listening to live music, playing fun games and more!

Admission to the event is for 21 and up with valid ID. Arrival by boat is not permitted.

Sponsorship opportunities for Brew at the Zoo are available; more information is available online.

Brew at the Zoo Hotel packages are also available, thanks to sponsors at DoubleTree by Hilton Jacksonville Airport and Aloft Jacksonville Airport. Hotel packages do not include Brew at the Zoo admission but do include round-trip shuttle transportation to and from the event.

Click here to reserve a hotel package at the DoubleTree by Hilton Jacksonville Airport; to reserve a room at the Aloft Jacksonville Airport click here.

Jags bye week, time to get back on track

The Jaguars head into the bye week searching for answers on ways to turn around a season that began with the highest of expectations. Poor offense has all too often combined with poor defense to create a 3-5 record and a four-game losing streak.

“We’re happy to have a bye week,” Pro Bowl defensive tackle Malik Jackson said. “There’s a lot going on around here and things haven’t been going our way. I think the guys are focused on getting out of here mentally and rebooting.”

DT Malik Jackson is grateful for the bye week. (Image via USA TODAY Sports)

Personalities could explain some of Jaguars problems. That is likely one reason Jacksonville traded Donte Fowler, Jr. to the Los Angeles Rams.

Fowler’s time with the team became limited after a training camp fight with a teammate. The talented defensive end was also set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

Those factors led to the trade, which netted Jacksonville future draft picks for what was a top-five draft selection four years ago. If any locker room tensions were relieved by the move, there is a new concern.

Quarterback Blake Bortles has been inconsistent, but now his health is of concern. With a left (non-throwing) shoulder injury, Bortles could easily miss time should he receive a hit on that shoulder.

With that in mind, the team signed former Steelers’ backup quarterback Landry Jones to s similar role. Jones would be third on the depth chart behind backup QB Cody Kessler, who many believe should be the starter immediately.

Whether cutting ties with Fowler was meant to send a message, or to improve the atmosphere, Jaguars’ fans will have to wait a week to find out if the move bears any fruit. They head to Indianapolis to face the 3-5 Colts in an AFC South Division game.

Jacksonville Bold for 10.26.18 — It’s go time

Duval County is now a few days into early in-person voting, with the first of two Souls to the Polls weekends about to commence.

Do Democrats feel lucky? It depends on who you ask.

The Blue Wave that offered so much potential early on may or may not be a tsunami at this point. The Republican noise machine (a device with many components) has been on offense against “socialist” Andrew Gillum.

In Duval County, it’s Souls to the Polls time.

And while we may not be seeing as many Ron DeSantis signs as we are for the Democrat, polls and other indicators suggest that we are headed for some variation of “too close to call” results in polls.

The questions, every election: when does Duval become Blu-Val. They won’t go away this year, no matter how Gillum does, in part because of the paradigmatic differences between the two top-of-the-ticket candidates.

Both campaigns brought surrogates this week. Gillum had VP Joe Biden. During that rally, DeSantis announced VP Mike Pence would be in Jacksonville Thursday afternoon.

In this campaign, we see the future. But in classic Florida fashion, the past is casting a long shadow.

Biden time

As early in-person voting kicked off Monday for the first time at Jacksonville’s University of North Florida, Democratic chances were jolted by a tested commodity at the podium: former Vice President Biden.

Joe Biden firing up Photo courtesy of Daniel Henry.

Biden, leading many polls of 2020 hopefuls for the party’s nomination for President, isn’t the only potential top-of-the-ticket presence to hit the state. U.S. Sen. Cory Booker was here last weekend.

Just as with Booker, who is barnstorming battleground states ahead of Nov. 6, Biden’s two-day, three-stop Florida swing is intended to boost candidates and remind Florida voters that despite his age, the Delaware Democrat is a major player.

The language: familiar.

“This election is bigger than politics,” Biden said, as he has said in battlegrounds coast to coast.

“We used to be the shining city on the hill,” Biden said, driven “by the power of our example.”

Biden, as he said early on, has been traveling the country giving the same speech with regional variations: a textbook anti-Trump message designed to drive the vote out.

And in Jacksonville, it spurred some enthusiasm, with a brief “Run Joe Run” change breaking out at one point. Though as the speech bled past 30 minutes, the crowd started to trickle out.

Don’t forget Cory

U.S. Senator Cory Booker, New Jersey’s best hope for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, was in Jacksonville Saturday.

Democrat surrogates are all the rage this month.

His first stop of the day found him at Edward Waters College in New Town, where he was part of the HBCU’s Homecoming Parade, along with supporters of Florida’s top Democratic candidates: Sen. Bill Nelson and gubernatorial candidate Gillum.

We spoke to Booker between meetings in Jacksonville via phone.

Booker noted he was “excited to support” Nelson and Gillum, two “inspiring leaders.”

Nelson, said Booker, is a “titan in the Senate,” and “to not have him return would be an outrageous injury.”

Gillum, meanwhile, is “one of the most exciting leaders in the country,” promising a “dramatic change” in Tallahassee, with a policy vision on health care and other matters that aligns with Booker.

When asked, Booker noted that 2020 concerns did not drive this trip.

“My focus is Nov. 6,” the Senator said, even as he is traveling “almost coast-to-coast” right now to “help as many people as I can” in the “most important midterm of my lifetime.”

Regional sheriffs tee off on Gillum

Republican gubernatorial nominee DeSantis took a page from the book of his dispatched primary rival Tuesday, with an early morning Jacksonville presser designed to highlight support from law enforcement.

GOP sheriffs, Ron DeSantis cement their bond.

Worth noting: Jacksonville is dealing with a continued multiyear upward trend in its murder rate, a similar phenomenon to the depictions of crime-ridden Tallahassee in Republican ads. High-profile mass shootings are becoming the norm here, including recent gunplay at a high school football game, a video game competition, and the shooting of six people within walking distance of the Jaguars’ game Sunday.

Included at the event: Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams, who attended DeSantis’ Sunday night debate in Tampa (Gillum “didn’t do anything tonight to calm the nerves of people rightfully concerned about public safety under his failed leadership,” Williams chided); and Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels, who questioned Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum “as a man” for signing the Dream Defenders pledge earlier this year.

The DeSantis campaign has sought to capitalize on Gillum’s signing of the Dream Defenders pledge (which Gillum claimed not to have signed in Sunday’s debate), and Tuesday was probably the most prominent push, with ad-ready footage from Republican sheriffs delineating what they see as stark differences between the candidates.

Sheriff Mike Prendergast of Citrus County noted that DeSantis “will not tolerate … racist hate groups who don’t support law enforcement officers.”

Sheriff Bobby Schultz of Gilchrist County echoed those thoughts, saying DeSantis “will not slap the face of law enforcement by supporting hate groups that do nothing but demonize law enforcement.”

Perhaps the bluntest Sheriff to speak, Gordon Smith of Bradford County, noted “you can’t make chicken salad out of chicken pocky,” referring to Gillum, who has “made a mess out of Tallahassee.”

While Daniels and Williams weren’t the hottest quotes, it’s clear that the two former JSO colleagues turned lead lawmen are essential to DeSantis’ electoral strategy.

Which, if DeSantis wins, will work out really well for them.

Lawson, Rutherford breezing to wins

Q3 continued the trend for Jacksonville’s Congressmen, as they dominated their long-shot challengers in the cash race.

First-term Reps. John Rutherford, a Republican and Al Lawson, a Democrat, each of whom in districts that are favorable regarding voter profile, also connected with donors in the period leading up to Sept. 30.

John Rutherford, Al Lawson seem to have clear sailing to victory.

Rutherford, who represents Northeast Florida’s 4th Congressional District, ended Q3 with $430,130 on hand (of $730,000 raised), well above the $4,444 Democratic challenger Ges Selmont had.

The political action committees of corporations such as Boeing and Google ponied up, as did local power brokers like Gary Chartrand and Peter Rummell, and old friends like former State Attorney Angela Corey.

Rutherford, who said he wouldn’t bother debating Selmont because there was no point in giving him a platform, raised $132,930 on the quarter, spending just $20,123 of it.

Republicans comprise 281,000, or 49.8 percent of the district’s voters. There are now 150,237 Democratic voters, or 26.6 percent of district voters. NPAs and third-party voters comprise the balance.

The money race in the majority-Democrat Jacksonville-to-Tallahassee Congressional District 5 likewise seems to reflect where voters will go, with Lawson holding a strong lead over Republican Virginia Fuller.

Lawson exited September with $60,303 on hand (he spent heavily in a competitive primary against Jacksonville’s Alvin Brown). Fuller, who had previously said that she wasn’t fundraising, had just $1,864 at her disposal.

The quarter reflected an active August: receipts of $80,522 were exceeded by $151,379 of spending.

Yoho’s last ride

U.S. Congressman Ted Yoho, a quintessential Freedom Caucus Republican, looks poised for re-election to a fourth term from Florida’s 3rd Congressional District.

Ted Yoho is in his last campaign, so he says.

There won’t be a fifth.

“You can bank on that,” he told us Friday afternoon in Orange Park, after a campaign town hall.

But he’s likely not done this year if metrics are predictive.

As of the most recent fundraising report, Yoho had $328,257 of his $752,614 nest egg on hand. This compared favorably to Democratic opponent Yvonne Hayes Hinson, a former Gainesville city commissioner who had just $2,478 of $34,726 on hand.

The party split of the north-central Florida district, which includes portions of Alachua, Bradford, Clay, Marion, Putnam and Union counties, is likewise favorable for the incumbent. CD 3 has 200,504 Republicans, compared to 175,561 Democrats, with NPAs and third parties comprising the rest of the district’s 487,002 voters.

Yoho packed a backroom at a restaurant in Clay County’s biggest city, and he made no bones about where he stood: With Ron DeSantis and against Andrew Gillum, and with movement conservatives like Rep. Jim Jordan over the Paul Ryan wing of the party.

Yoho is confident that Republicans will retain the House, and if that’s the case, he may be positioned to play an important role on issues in the next two years no one would have predicted would be the case when he first ran in 2012.

One such issue: the failed U.S. War on Drugs.

Read more here.

Duggan levels up

As early in-person voting begins in Duval County, money is rapidly being spent in the expensive race for an open seat in House District 15.

Republican Wyman Duggan, per receipts that extend through Oct. 12, holds cash on hand lead over Democrat Tracye Polson.

Polson has aggressively fundraised, self-financed and has led the money race for most of the campaign, but the most recent finance report represents an outlier to that trend.

Aggressive fundraising appears to be paying off for Wyman Duggan.

Duggan’s campaign account had just over $46,000 in it as of Oct. 12, with $9,549 raised the week before compared to $32,540 spent ($30,000 of that on television).

Duggan’s political committee still had resources as of Oct. 12, with $20,000 of new money the week before (and no spend) boosting that tally north of $37,000.

In addition to having roughly $83,000 for the home stretch, Duggan has also been the beneficiary of over $100,000 in television buys from the Republican Party of Florida, helping him to amplify his message that Polson, a social worker, is out of step with the Westside Jacksonville district.

Polson outraised and outspent Duggan regarding her campaign account during the week, bringing in $13,776 compared to $41,376 in expenditures (with $38,606 on television). The campaign account has just over $7,000 on hand.

Polson’s political committee likewise spent bigger than it raised: $400 brought in during the week, compared to $24,651 in expenditures (moved to the Florida Democratic Party). It has nearly $40,000 on hand.

Public safety narrative

The Jacksonville Jaguars were losing at home when news broke of six people shot just blocks from the stadium.

Shootings are nothing new to Jacksonville, often called the murder capital of the state. However, this one had a particular political weight, right down to the investigating sheriff, who was apparently in Tampa offering support to gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis.

Mike Williams called Andrew Gillum weak on public safety from Tampa, even as bullets fly in Jacksonville.

Jacksonville’s shootings would find a global platform Sunday evening, as Democrat Andrew Gillum debated Republican Ron DeSantis on CNN.

Gillum, defending himself against DeSantis’ assertaion that Tallahassee is a hotbed of violent crime, noted the shooting in Jacksonville. That is, unfortunately, an undercount, as shootings happened elsewhere in the city.

Jacksonville, which has both a Republican Mayor and Sheriff who each endorsed DeSantis in the primary, has struggled for decades with its own murder rate.

That Sheriff, Mike Williams, pilloried Gillum on public safety on behalf of the DeSantis campaign, in a statement that dropped just minutes after the debate.

“Andrew Gillum hasn’t supported law enforcement, he signed an anti-police pledge, and he didn’t do anything tonight to calm the nerves of people rightfully concerned about public safety under his failed leadership,” Williams said.

Questions that Williams’ quote may have been pre-provided abounded, but per a picture from Attorney General Pam Bondi, Williams was at the CNN debate with sheriffs and the AG.

Mayor and the monster

St. Augustine Mayor Nancy Shaver faced a harrowing experience at a college symposium, per the St. Augustine Record.

“Authorities arrested a West Augustine man at a college symposium Thursday afternoon after he told the mayor to kill herself and then refused to leave … Cyrus Joseph Bowie, 41, went to an event at St. Johns River State College featuring Mayor Nancy Shaver, according to the report. Witnesses said he told Shaver several times things such as ‘kill yourself’ and ‘why don’t you kill yourself?’,” the Record reports.

Bowie also had a note conveying similar sentiments.

Shaver won her election in August, a three-way race in which she garnered 57 percent of the vote.

JEA Extended Play

Legislation is imminent for the city of Jacksonville to extend its agreement with municipal utility JEA, a contribution/funding formula that makes up roughly 10 percent of the city’s general fund budget.

Aaron Zahn: The Mayor’s man in the JEA C-Suite.

The Interagency Agreement, last ratified in 2016 to extend through September 2021, would have two more years added if the City Council passes the legislation.

The timing is of greatest interest here. The renewed agreement comes at a time when the financial commitments of the utility and city are earning harder looks from rating agencies, which looked askance at moves to privatize the utility, leadership changes and most critically, attempts to shirk jointly-held obligations in 2008’s ill-fated Plant Vogtle nuclear plant deal.

The city issued a tough news release defending its moves after the Moody’s downgrade, but in reality, seems aware that it overplayed its hand, leading to the renewed agreement.

“Stable contribution policy through 2023 is viewed as a positive by rating agencies,” asserted an agenda item from an October JEA Board meeting.

Will it be enough of a positive, though?

Hyde says ‘thanks, but no thanks’

Former Jacksonville City Council President Kevin Hyde may be the interim president of Florida State College Jacksonville. But per the Jacksonville Daily Record, Hyde doesn’t want the permanent gig.

Kevin Hyde doesn’t seek the full-time gig.

“It gets us to the next president, to serve as a bridge,” Hyde said when taking the interim gig.

Hyde, a partner with Foley and Lardner, will stay on through the transition. However, he apparently has no interest in a John Delaney/UNF style extended run at Jacksonville’s four-year college.

UNF recognized for energy, environmental leadership

The University of North Florida’s Skinner-Jones Hall, Building 4 has received Silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

As first reported by the Jacksonville Daily Record, the $30 million project involved the renovation of the former Skinner-Jones North and Skinner-Jones South with a four-story addition and lobby.

UNF’s Skinner-Jones Hall has been recognized for its sustainability efforts. (Image via Jacksonville Daily Record)

“This is another example of UNF’s commitment to constructing sustainable buildings,” Paul Stewart, campus planning, design and construction director, told the Record.

JAXPORT boasts record cruise numbers

Jaxport saw a record number of cruise passengers — nearly 200,000 people — in the last fiscal year, according to the Jacksonville Business Journal.

This number (199,899 to be exact) is good news for the multi-year agreement between JAXPORT and Carnival Cruise Lines signed earlier this year, the first for the Jacksonville Port Authority.

The Carnival Elation has been a boon for JAXPORT.

While the Carnival Elation sails year-round from Jaxport to the Bahamas, it will be replaced by the Carnival Ecstasy in May. Carnival has committed to providing service out of Jaxport through 2021 with possible extensions through 2027, writes the Journal.

With the continuation of cruise launches, JAXPORT will be upgrading both parking and its terminal, including a remodeled VIP Lounge and better boarding facilities.

“We continue to grow our reputation with vacationers throughout the Southeast U.S. and beyond,” Jaxport CEO Eric Green said in a statement released last week. “Cruise is a benefit to all of Jacksonville as visitors get a taste of what our region offers and then choose to return again and again.”

Crowley takes lead with ‘cornerstone’ liquid natural gas vessels

Jacksonville-based Crowley Maritime Corp. is taking the lead with liquefied natural gas-powered vessels, christening the El Coqui this week at the JAXPORT cruise terminal.

The newly christened 720-ft. vessel is now making its fully loaded maiden voyage to Puerto Rico.

Crowley Maritime Corp.’s El Coqui is launched in Pascagoula, Mississippi, on its way to JAXPORT.

As per the Jacksonville Business Journal, El Coqui and its sister ship, the Taino, are the world’s first LNG-powered ships capable of carrying containers as well as roll-on/roll-off cargo. The pair have become the “cornerstone” of Crowley’s $3 billion, multi-year investment into LNG and Puerto Rico trading lanes.

“It’s a culmination of many, many years of hard work, many years of transition and change for our company,” CEO Tom Crowley told the Journal. “This is by far the biggest challenge we’ve taken on.”

To handle the new vessels, Crowley made a series of infrastructure changes to its terminals in Jacksonville and San Juan, Puerto Rico, working with regulators on safety and training protocols as well as partnering with Eagle LNG to build an LNG supply chain in Jacksonville.

“We have really set the stage for the globe of how to do it,” Crowley added. “There will be plenty of folks coming through Jacksonville, touring the ship, touring the facility to see how it’s done … There’s no question in my mind that long-term, liquefied natural gas will be the preferred fuel.”

Heading to London, Jaguars in free fall

What a difference a month makes. After the Jaguars’ home opening win against the Patriots on September 16, they stood 2-0 and meeting the expectations of a fan base feeling it was “Super Bowl or bust.”

Fast forward to October 25 and the season is approaching “bust” status. They have lost four of five games and, in those losses, the Jaguars never held the lead.

Jacksonville was able to put only 34 points on the scoreboard during those offensive-challenged contests. Thankfully, the New York Jets were on the schedule, allowing the Jags to break up the points drought with a 31-12 romp on September 30.

A trip to London sees the Jaguars in freefall this season.

In Sunday’s 20-7 home loss to Houston, quarterback Blake Bortles was benched in favor of Cody Kessler. That and the overall poor play on both sides of the ball put some over the top leading to a locker room altercation.

“You all see how it is. It is no secret what’s going on here right now,” said cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who is never at a loss for words. “Ain’t nobody going to say it because we can’t, but it ain’t no secret what’s going on and it ain’t right, right now.”

This week is the team’s annual trip to London, this time to take on the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles, who are also a disappointing 3-4. The plane carrying the team over the pond carried a lot of baggage; the team’s luggage and equipment as well as the baggage currently in the heads of the players and coaches.

Coach Doug Marrone is trying to put the focus of the team’s troubles on himself and away from the players on the field.

“When people say, ‘What’s going on? Why does this team look different? What’s the situation?’ I always say the first thing that comes to mind, which is, ‘I have to do a better job and it comes to me,’” Marrone said. “For me, that’s what I have to do. I have to do a better job with this team in all areas — coaching all-around.”

Kickoff Sunday is 9:30 a.m. Eastern time.

New GOP website blasts Andrew Gillum for ‘lobbyist slush fund’

Referring to a dubious bank deposit from 2016, Republicans are blasting Democrat Andrew Gillum with a new website calling out his “lobbyist-fueled slush fund.”

On Friday, the Republican Party of Florida launched, a website that calls on the gubernatorial candidate — and front-runner in several polls — to “tell the truth about his luxury Costa Rica vacation in 2016,” as well as a “suspicious” $15,000 deposit.

“Ask yourself this question … would you trust an elected official that has a suspicious $15,000 deposit made into his personal account?” RPOF Chair Blaise Ingoglia asked in a statement Friday. “A deposit that large should have an easily explainable answer, but unfortunately we’re not getting receipts or answers these days out of Andrew Gillum.”

Earlier this month, Gillum’s campaign unintentionally released personal bank statements — part of what POLITICO called a “public relations transparency effort” — which shows Gillum receiving a $15,000 deposit during a period under investigation by the Florida Commission on Ethics.

The bank statement in question covers April 21 to May 23, 2016, during which Gillum took a questionable May 2016 trip to Costa Rica. While Gillum is not personally under investigation, the trip is being watched in an FBI probe looking into corruption at Tallahassee’s Community Rehabilitation Agency.

“Andrew Gillum refuses to come clean about the $15,000 deposit in his bank account and who really paid for his luxury vacation to Costa Rica,” said the RPOF’s Meredith Beatrice. “Gillum’s botched attempt to cover up the truth and hide his connection to the ongoing FBI investigation only resulted in a poorly-redacted bank statement. Does Andrew Gillum have a lobbyist-fueled slush fund? The voters of Florida deserve answers.”

Most recent polling from Reuters — Ipsos — UVA Center for Politics gives Gillum a 6-point lead over Republican Ron DeSantis in the increasingly combative Florida gubernatorial campaign. The survey found 50 percent of voters surveyed support Gillum, while only 44 percent back DeSantis.

Senate President-designate Bill Galvano congratulates Ed Hooper on big SD16 win

Senate President-designate Bill Galvano is cheering Ed Hooper on his victory in Senate District 16, which consists of parts of Pasco and Pinellas counties.

Hooper, a former state legislator from Clearwater, handily defeated Palm Harbor restaurateur Leo Karruli in the Republican primary, 79 to 21 percent.

“I would like to extend my congratulations to Ed Hooper tonight for his victory in Senate District 16,” Galvano, a Bradenton Republican, said in a statement. “Ed is a proven, dedicated public servant and community leader, and the Florida Senate will welcome his commitment.”

Galvano continued: “In addition to being an advocate fighting for lower taxes and responsible spending, Ed is committed to stronger measures against criminals, ensuring Floridians have access to more affordable health care, encouraging the presence of law enforcement at schools to protect our students and protecting the financial security of seniors.”

Hooper next faces former Democratic Rep. Amanda Murphy, who currently enjoys a slight two-point advantage in a recent poll of SD 16 voters.

It’s not the party, it’s the after party: Where to find Tampa Bay candidates on Election Night

On Tuesday, election night parties will be held all over Florida.

For some, it’s a chance to pop some champagne corks, celebrate and gear up for the general election. For others, it will be a somewhat more somber affair, the last hurrah of a long, hard-fought primary campaign.

Want to party like a politician? Here’s a rundown of where some candidates will be as the polls close.


Republican Adam Putnam will celebrate election night at the Terrace Hotel, 329 East Main Street, Lakeland. Media Set Up: 6 p.m.; doors open: 6:30 p.m. Media must RSVP by August 28 at noon to Visit for more information.

Democrat Gwen Graham and Team Graham will host their election night party starting 8 p.m., The Social, 54 N Orange Ave. in Orlando. Those able to attend can RSVP to Casey at Please include: “Election Night” in the subject line.

Democrat Philip Levine will hold an election night watch party at his campaign headquarters, 7:30 p.m., 2215 NW 1st Place, Miami. There will be parking accommodations and a workspace for members of the media. Media can RSVP to

Democrat Andrew Gillum is hosting his watch party at the Hotel Duval, 415 N. Monroe Street, Tallahassee. Risers, multi-box, and filing station will all be available on a first come, first served basis to RSVP’d media. Media load in begins at 5:30 p.m.

Democrat Chris King and his campaign will join supporters for an election night party at the Alfond Inn, 300 E New England Ave, in Winter Park. Doors open at 6:30 p.m., registered media will have access at 5 p.m.

Democrat Jeff Greene hosts his party beginning 7:30 p.m. at Tideline Ocean Resort — Malcom Ballroom (Upstairs), 2842 S Ocean Blvd, Palm Beach. Malt box, media riser will be available for broadcast journalists — all inquiries on logistics for media — please contact Kraig Pomrenke at (870) 351-1165. Parking available for media trucks; RSVP at will be watching returns from his home, with family.

Attorney General

Republican Attorney General candidate Ashley Moody will hold her election night festivities at the Floridan Palace Hotel Grand Ballroom Florida, 905 N. Florida Ave. in Tampa. Doors open at 6 p.m. Registered media will have access at 4 p.m. and must be set up by 5:30 p.m.

Democratic candidate Ryan Torrens will host the “People’s Lawyer Primary election night Watch Party” at Sociedad La Union Marti Maceo Club, Ybor City’s historic Afro-Cuban club. That’s at 6 p.m.. 1226 E 7th Ave., Tampa.

Agriculture Commissioner

Republican state Sen. Denise Grimsley holds her watch party event at the Best Western Heritage Inn & Suites, 2727 US Highway 17 N, Bowling Green. Doors open at 7 p.m.

U.S. House

CD 19

Democrat David Holden invites supporters and friends to watch returns beginning 6 p.m., Lansdowne Street Pub, 24851 S Tamiami Trail, Bonita Springs.

Florida Senate

SD 16

Florida House

HD 64

Incumbent Republican James Grant will be holding a “Primary Election Victory Party” at 6:30 p.m., Catch Twenty Three, 10103 Montague St, Tampa.

HD 66

HD 70

Incumbent Democrat Wengay “Newt” Newton will hold his celebration at 6 p.m., 400 Beach Seafood & Tap House, 400 Beach Drive NE, St. Petersburg.

County races

Pinellas County Commission

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