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Staff Reports

Two Republicans, one Democrat qualify for HD 116 race

The race is set.

Three candidates qualified to run in the race to replace Rep. Jose Felix Diaz in House District 116.

State records show two Republicans, Jose Mallea and Daniel Anthony Perez, and one Democrat, Gabriela Mayaudon qualified to run for the seat. Democrat Ross Hancock, who previously filed to run for the seat, has withdrawn from the race, according to state records.

Mallea and Perez will battle it out for their party’s nomination in the July 25 primary. The winner will face Mayaudon in the Sept. 26 general election.

Diaz, a Miami-Dade Republican, resigned his seat effective Sept. 26 to run in the Senate District 40 special election to replace Sen. Frank Artiles. Artiles, a Miami-Dade Republican, resigned in April amid scandal.

The Senate District 40 special primary is also scheduled for July 25, with the general on Sept. 26.

David Mica Jr.

Personnel note: David Mica Jr. named interim head of Florida Lottery

David Mica Jr., the Florida Lottery‘s chief of staff, has been named interim secretary while Gov. Rick Scott searches for a full-time replacement, an agency spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Mica was officially appointed as interim on Friday, according to Lottery spokeswoman Connie Barnes.

The vacancy was created by the departure of former Secretary Tom Delacenserie, now president and CEO of the Kentucky Lottery.

Mica is the son of David Mica, executive director of the Florida Petroleum Council.

Before joining the Lottery last year, Mica Jr. was director of legislative affairs for the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, according to his LinkedIn profile.

He also was a Gubernatorial Fellow under Gov. Rick Scott in 2013-14. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Florida and law degree from Florida State University, according to the profile.

Perry Thurston backs Andrew Gillum for Governor

Sen. Perry Thurston has thrown his support behind Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum in the race to replace Gov. Rick Scott.

Thurston, the chairman of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus, announced Tuesday he was endorsing Gillum in his 2018 gubernatorial bid. In a statement, Thurston said Gillum has led the way on “healthcare, education and climate change, including breaking ground on a new 120-acre solar farm last week.”

“As Governor, we can trust Mayor Gillum to be a fierce advocate for our community on so many issues – from addressing climate change, to ensuring healthcare is accessible to the most medically-needy in our state, to protecting public education from for-profit charter schools and their friends in the Legislature,” he said in a statement. “I look forward to helping him ‘Bring It Home’ for Florida!”

Gillum is one of three Democrats running for governor. Gwen Graham, a former U.S. congresswoman from Tallahassee, and Orlando businessman Chris King are also running.

“It’s an honor to have Senator Thurston’s endorsement in our campaign for Governor,” said Gillum in a statement. “He’s a true public servant who never shies away from a tough fight and who stands up for those who need a voice.

Gwen Graham hits $2.25M mark after first month on campaign trail

Gwen Graham has topped the $2 million mark after just one month on the campaign trail.

Graham’s campaign announced Tuesday that she has already raised more than $2.25 million, surpassing the $2 million raised by Democratic rival Chris King.

According to Graham’s campaign, the former U.S. representative raised $1.5 million in May — $430,000 to her official campaign account and more than $1 million toward Our Florida Political Committee, the political committee backing her 2018 run.

“I’m humbled by the outpouring of support we’ve received from Floridians across our state. Florida families understand that after almost twenty years of Republican rule in Tallahassee, we’re running out of time. Too many families are struggling to get by, too many children are at risk of losing their future, and too much of our land and water is threatened,” said Graham in a statement. “As governor, I will renew our promise to public education, build an economy that works for every Floridian, and fight to protect our environment.”

The campaign said it has raised a combined total of more than $2.25 million thus far.

The King campaign said Monday it had passed the $2 million mark in total contributions in May, and raised $212,000 during the one-month period, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum is also running for the Democratic nomination. May fundraising numbers weren’t immediately available; however, Forward Florida, the political committee supporting Gillum’s 2018 run, did not report raising any money during May, according to campaign finance data posted to its website.

“While Mayor Gillum took time off the trail this month for the birth of his third child, we’re confident that we’ll have the resources to compete all across Florida,” said Geoff Burgan, the communications director for Gillum’s campaign. “We’ve raised more than $1 million from more than 7,000 contributors — by far the most in the Governor’s Race.”

Campaign finance reports covering the month of May are due to the Division of Elections by June 12.


The Florida Bar

Personnel note: Joshua E. Doyle selected as head of Florida Bar

Joshua E. Doyle, a Tallahassee-based special agent for the FBI, will be taking the reins from John F. “Jack” Harkness, Jr. as the next executive director of The Florida Bar, according to a Tuesday press release.

Harkness, who’s been with the Bar for 37 years, will shift to an “ongoing consulting role.” They’ll start a six-month transition in July.

The Bar is charged with regulating the state’s 104,000 licensed attorneys.

Doyle, 37, who has spent seven years with the bureau, previously was a lawyer-lobbyist for Metz, Husband & Daughton in Tallahassee, including serving as an outside legislative consultant to the Bar, the release said.

Leading the Bar “is his dream job,” said name partner Jim Daughton. “It’s the only job he would have left the FBI for.”

“After spending hundreds of hours and reviewing dozens of applications including from appellate judges and senior government officials, we ultimately found what we were looking for, which is embodied in the character and credentials of Josh Doyle,” said Scott Hawkins, past president of The Florida Bar and chair of the Executive Director Search Committee.

Doyle, who grew up in Tallahassee, received his undergraduate and law degrees from Florida State University.

His mother is former Tallahassee Democrat business editor and Capitol bureau reporter Judy Doyle; his father is P.J. Doyle, a law enforcement consultant and retired Florida Department of Law Enforcement official.

Before law school, Joshua Doyle served as a special assistant to Democratic U.S. Sen. Bob Graham. He was also special assistant to Tallahassee attorney Martha Barnett when she was president of the American Bar Association in 2001.

“Josh is one of the most ethical people I have had the fortune to know and treats everyone with respect, whether it is the building maintenance staff or a Supreme Court justice,” Barnett said. “He also has a keen ability to process information quickly and stay one step ahead of what’s necessary to fulfill common goals.”

Matt Caldwell raised more than $100K for Agriculture Commissioner bid in May

Matt Caldwell brought in more than $100,000 in less than a month, his campaign announced this week.

The North Fort Myers Republican raised $101,1575 for his 2018 agriculture commissioner bid during a 20-day period in May. While Caldwell filed to run for the statewide office May 1, he did not begin fundraising until after the 2017 Legislative Session ended.

Caldwell will report ending the month with $100,458 cash on hand, according to his campaign. His political committee, Friends of Matt Caldwell, will report raising $712,825 since January. Caldwell’s one-month fundraising total was first reported by POLITICO Florida.

“I am truly humbled by the outpouring of support we have received and what we have been able to accomplish in our first month. When we announced our campaign, I said this would be a grassroots endeavor,” said Caldwell in a statement. “As I’ve spent the last month traveling from South Florida to the Panhandle, across major highways and two lane roads throughout rural Florida, I’m constantly reminded by the hardworking men and women in our great state of the importance of our conservative message. As the next Commissioner of Agriculture I will continue the legacy of Commissioners (Charles) Bronson and (Adam) Putnam, who have done spectacular jobs in this role.”

First elected to the Florida House in 2011, Caldwell can’t run for re-election again because of term limits. Republicans Sen. Denise Grimsley and Paul Paulson have also filed to run.

Grimsley announced she was running for the statewide office in February. Saving Florida’s Heartland, the political committee backing Grimsley, has raised about $488,500 since January.

Personnel note: Rosanna Catalano joins Capitol Access lobbying firm

Attorney Rosanna “Ro” Manuela Catalano is joining Capitol Access, a government relations firm in Tallahassee.

“We are excited about this new relationship,” said Jerry Paul, founder and managing member of the firm. “Ro’s experience, professionalism, and high-energy personality are a perfect fit for Capitol Access and the clients we serve.”


Catalano has been executive director and chief administrative officer for the Florida Elections Commission, according to a press release.

She also was assistant general counsel at the Department of Health and the Agency for Health Care Administration.

Before that, she was an assistant attorney general, working with professional licensing boards such as the Florida Board of Medicine, Florida Board of Nursing, Florida Board of Dentistry, Florida Electrical Contractors Licensing Board, and Florida Board of Landscape Architects.

“I will be combining my past experience from multiple areas of government and academia in ways that now allow me to guide private stakeholders through the halls of the Legislature and executive branch,” Catalano said.

“This new relationship allows me to provide government relations in conjunction with people like Jerry who have developed a reputation and style that is effective and well-synchronized with people who need help in the Capitol.”

She got her undergraduate degree and law degree from the University of Florida.

Latest on the legislative staffing merry-go-round

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

Off: Hope Holt, formerly calendar coordinator in the House Clerk’s Office, is now serving as a program specialist for the Office of Professional Development.

Off: Tina White stepped down as policy chief for the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee.

Off: Dane Bennett is no longer a legislative assistant for Fort Myers Republican Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto.

Off: Theresa Frederick and Isabela Dorneles are no longer legislative assistants for North Miami Beach Democratic Sen. Daphne Campbell. Frederick has retired.

Off: Whitney Legrand is no longer legislative assistant for Bradenton Republican Sen. Bill Galvano.

On: Adriana Mitchell became a secretary for Gainesville Republican Sen. Keith Perry.

On: Matthew Floyd became a legislative assistant for Tampa Republican Sen. Dana Young.

Off: Lydia Brooks is no longer legislative assistant for Tallahassee Democratic Rep. Loranne Ausley.

Off and on: Karol Molinares is replacing Daniela Fernandez as legislative assistant for Miami-Dade Democrat Rep. Daisy Baez

Off: Kathi Brown is no longer district secretary for Bradenton Republican Rep. Jim Boyd.

On: Robin Steele is now district secretary for Newberry Republican Rep. Chuck Clemons.

Off: Zachary Allen is no longer district secretary for Naples Republican Rep. Byron Donalds.

Off and on: Robert Bogle has replaced Gabriel Sheffield as a legislative assistant for Fort Lauderdale Democratic Rep. Bobby DuBose.

Off: Harrett Mann is no longer district secretary for Jacksonville Republican Rep. Jason Fischer.

Off: Dana Coleman is no longer district secretary for The Villages Republican Rep. Don Hahnfeldt.

Off and on: Among the changes in Beverly Hills Republican Rep. Ralph Massullo’s office: Christopher Melvin is no longer a legislative assistant, Adele Scordato has moved from district secretary to legislative assistant, and Dorothy Dilworth has now become district secretary.

Off: Kelly McClure is no longer legislative assistant for Orlando Democratic Rep. Amy Mercado.

Off: Jeremy Stein is no longer district secretary for Destin Republican Rep. Mel Ponder.

Off and on: Alexis Howard replaced Renay Kinloch as district secretary for Miami Gardens Democratic Rep. Sharon Pritchett.

Off and on: Among the changes in Boca Raton on Democratic Rep. Emily Slosberg’s office, Ed Sol has replaced Paula Rigoli as district secretary and Joshua Winograd has stepped down as a legislative assistant.

Off: Priscilla Johnson is no longer district secretary for Miami Gardens Democratic Rep. Barbara Watson.


Report: Alex Diaz de la Portilla sole source of income was a firm he founded, paid $900K for work on brother’s campaign

Alex Diaz de la Portilla made all of his income last year through a political consulting firm he founded, which POLITICO Florida reported was paid nearly $900,000 for work on his brother’s failed state Senate bid.

POLITICO Florida reported that Diaz de la Portilla, who is vying to replace Sen. Frank Artiles in Senate District 40, started the firm, First Stone Management, in January 2016. The company was paid $897,578 for campaign-related work during the 2016 election cycle. Of that, POLITICO Florida reported $400,000 of it came directly from his brother, former state Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla or a political committee he controls.

His firm was also paid $353,000 from the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, and $65,000 from Innovate Florida, the political committee controlled by Sen. Bill Galvano.

Diaz de la Portilla told POLITICO Florida he earned income from other sources besides his brother’s campaign. However, he declined to go into detail, saying it was from private sources and said it was proprietary and confidential.

Diaz de la Portilla is one of two Republicans vying to replace Artiles, who resigned earlier this year amid scandal, in the Florida Senate. Rep. Jose Felix Diaz is also running for his party’s nomination.

Democrats Annette Taddeo, Ana Rivas Logan, and Steve Smith have also filed to run.

Regulators reject Duke request to make customers pay more

State utility regulators on Monday refused to let Duke Energy Florida add $4.70 to customers’ bills effective on July 1 to cover rising fuel costs.

The Florida Public Service Commission, which regulates investor-owned utilities, voted instead to make the utility wait until this fall to propose a fuel-cost adjustment. Any increase would begin to take effect July 1 next year.

That could mean a steeper increase next July 1, when a separate $4.25 rate increase, tied to the coming online of a new natural gas-fired generating plant in Citrus County, takes effect. The utility plans to retire one of its coal-burning generators.

The delay would allow a truer picture of Duke’s actual fuel costs for the year, the commissioners reasoned.

“(Duke) wanted to smooth it out, and the commission said, No, we’d rather just look at it all in the upcoming hearing in the fall, and see it there are offsets. And maybe we can look at your projections and see whether you are projecting something wrong,” Deputy Public Counsel Charles Rehwinkel said.

The commission’s staff had recommended approval of the “mid-course correction,” calling it “reasonable.”

Duke’s “most current” projection of its fuel costs for 2017 was projected to be $1.3 billion, an “under-recovery” of nearly 13.6 percent, its filing says.

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