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‘The primary is behind us’: Richard Corcoran now backing Ron DeSantis

It was only a few months ago that House Speaker Richard Corcoran was one of the most prominent backers of Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam‘s bid for Governor.

After Corcoran decided that there was no path to victory for him against Putnam and Ron DeSantis, he endorsed Putnam.

After opting not to run for the Governor’s Mansion, it took him “2.2 seconds” to make his decision.

Though Putnam did not use Corcoran as a surrogate the way DeSantis did U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, Corcoran was not without his quotable moments.

“He’s got a bulldog mouth, a chihuahua a —, and he doesn’t even know what the heck is going on in this state,” the Tampa Bay Times reported Corcoran saying.

“Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump, that’s the only thing he can say,” Corcoran added. “At some point, you’ve got to come out and give people a Florida vision.”

DeSantis spox Dave Vasquez had long before that dismissed the Corcoran endorsement of Putnam as a “corrupt bargain.”

“Insiders only know how to play one game, and that’s making deals to save their own skin,” Vasquez stated in a news release.

“After a year of campaigning and millions of dollars of special interest money spent, career insider Adam Putnam’s campaign has flatlined. So, he’s turning to deal-making in the Tallahassee swamp. Today he’ll stand in the shadow of the state capital in the middle of the Tallahassee swamp and receive the endorsement of a fellow career insider, one that will only matter to his fellow swamp dwellers,” Vasquez added.

The Corcoran endorsement did not help Putnam in the primary. However, despite the rhetoric of the summer, Corcoran found his way toward backing DeSantis (“chihuahua a**” notwithstanding).

On Sept. 12, Corcoran’s Watchdog PAC ponied up a relatively modest $22,625 to Friends of Ron DeSantis. That’s technically more than the $20,000 the PAC gave to Putnam’s Florida Grown committee earlier this year.

That $22,625 number pales in comparison to another recent convert to the DeSantis cause (the Florida Chamber of Commerce PAC) giving $100,000 just days before, and reflects the reality of Republicans coming home even after their groomed candidate got bounced in the primary.

As of Aug. 31, the last date for which Watchdog PAC has provided financials, the committee had roughly $760,000 on hand.

Vasquez gave us a quote late Friday on DeSantis’ behalf.

“The primary election is long behind us. Speaker Corcoran has been a champion for Conservatives across our state and we’re proud to have his support as we work to build a stronger economy, empower parents to make the best educational decisions for their children and protect our environment by electing Ron DeSantis the next Governor of Florida,” Vasquez said.

Candidates campaign, canvass across Sunshine State

Campaign season stops for no weekend. Candidates for the state’s biggest offices continue to greet voters around Florida. Will one be near you today?

Gov. Rick Scott, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, will ride his statewide “Make Washington Work” bus tour into Hialeah today and will hold a rally at Gus Machado Ford Dealership at 1:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, supporters in Miami will canvas for incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. The canvass kicks off in Orange Grove and runs from 9 a.m. to noon. Supporters will push for Nelson’s re-election and for other Democrats appearing on the ballot in November.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis launches a heavy day of campaigning today with stops in Casselberry, Orlando and Vero Beach, attending numerous county events and also benefits for veterans and first responders.

Democrat Andrew Gillum’s campaign is promoting about three dozen canvassing events throughout the state, from his home base in Tallahassee to his home region of South Florida.

Republican Agriculture Commission candidate Matt Caldwell will swing through Jacksonville today on a search for votes. He’ll stop by the Republican Party of Florida headquarters on San Jose Boulevard for a candidate meet-and-greet at 10 a.m.

Check back on this post as more candidates announce events this weekend.

Interim leader remains at OFR helm

Florida appears likely to end the year with an interim commissioner at the Office of Financial Regulation, leaving the future leadership of the agency to the next governor and state Cabinet. Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet in June appointed Deputy Commissioner Pam Epting to serve as interim commissioner.

That move came after former Commissioner Drew Breakspear resigned under pressure from state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis. The Cabinet drew 58 applications for the commissioner’s job, and interviews were conducted with five applicants.

But Scott and the Cabinet have not named a commissioner.

Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam will leave office in January, with Patronis the only Cabinet member who could remain if he wins in the November election.

A web page advertising the commissioner position indicates the search is over.

“Sorry, this position has been filled,” the site says.

Scott and the Cabinet have only one scheduled meeting the rest of the year, with it slated to occur Dec. 4.

When asked about filling the position, Scott spokeswoman Ashley Cook on Friday replied with an email that said, “Pam Epting is still the interim commissioner. As you know, the Cabinet must vote to appoint a commissioner of OFR.”

Lauren Book TV ad

Lauren Book says ‘it’s time for equal rights’ in new Marsy’s Law ad

The committee backing Amendment 6, which would add a “crime victim bill of rights” to the Florida Constitution, released a new ad Friday featuring Plantation Democratic Sen. Lauren Book.

In the 30-second ad, Book describes the court system from her perspective as a sexual assault survivor and asks viewers to vote for the measure, also known as “Marsy’s Law.”

“I’m a survivor of childhood sexual assault from the time I was 10 until I was 16. Every. Single. Day,” Book says in the ad. “The court process was difficult and painful. It can completely destroy a victim. You’re not informed of court dates, denied the chance to tell your story, and the person that did this to you has stronger rights than you.

“The scales of justice in Florida are not balanced. It’s time for equal rights. Please, vote yes on Amendment 6,” she concludes.

The ad was paid for by Marsy’s Law for Florida, the main political committee backing the amendment. Recent filings posted on the Federal Communications Commission website show the committee has made multiple TV buys in Florida this week and the committee said the ad is part of its statewide advertising campaign.

Though it was implicit by her appearance in the ad, Marsy’s Law for Florida included an official endorsement from Book in its announcement.

“I am proud to support victims’ rights and that’s why I support Amendment 6/Marsy’s Law for Florida. As a survivor of sexual abuse, I know how difficult and painful the court process can be,” Book said. “Victims of crime want the opportunity to be present and for their voices to be heard, without revictimization. They want their rights to be the same as the person who harmed them. Most of all, victims of crime want to be treated with dignity and respect. We must pass Amendment 6/Marsy’s Law for Florida to provide protection for generations to come.”

Marsy’s Law takes its name from Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas of California who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. After a successful push for measure bearing Nicholas’ name in her home state, victim rights advocates have expanded their push nationwide.

As of 2018, all but 15 states, including Florida, enumerate victims’ rights in their constitutions.

Among the provisions are requirements that crime victims be informed of their rights and the services available to them, an entitlement to updates on criminal proceedings, a right to know about meetings between the accused and state attorneys before plea deals agreed to, and the option to attend and speak during court proceedings.

The proposed constitutional amendment faced a legal challenge from critics who argued that its wording would be misleading to voters. But the Florida Supreme Court last week rejected the challenge, reversing an earlier court order that would have stricken the measure from the ballot.

In addition to Book, Marsy’s law has earned the support of numerous county court clerks, sheriffs, and state attorneys.

Marsy’s Law was placed on the ballot by the Constitution Revision Commission and is slated to go before Florida voters during the Nov. 6 general election. Amendments need at least 60 percent support from voters to pass.

The ad is below.

Independent voters push Andrew Gillum up six points over Ron DeSantis, says new Rasmussen poll

Per Rasmussen Reports, Democrat Andrew Gillum has a six point lead over Republican Ron DeSantis in the gubernatorial race.

The Rasmussen poll of 800 likely voters was conducted Monday and Tuesday.

Gillum was buoyed by female and NPA voters, and held his own with men and white voters, while DeSantis continues to show difficulty reaching out beyond his base.

DeSantis had just a one point lead (48 to 47 percent) with men, but was 13 points down (50-37) with female voters.

DeSantis likewise was up just one point with white voters (46-45), and down 75-24 with African-American voters. Hispanics, however, favored DeSantis 48-37.

Gillum was up with two of three age cohorts. Though those aged 45-64 favored DeSantis 51-38, Gillum was the favorite of voters 65+ (60-38), and 18-39 (56-32).

Likely voters are already polarized with these candidates. DeSantis had a “very unfavorable” rating of 32 percent, 4 points above his “very favorable” rating; Gillum had a “very favorable” rating of 28 percent and a “very unfavorable” rating of 26 percent.

Both Gillum and DeSantis can count on the votes of at least 80 percent of their own party, if the survey is accurate. NPAs break in this survey toward Gillum by a 54-29 percent margin.

This is the second Republican-leaning poll to show Gillum strong this week.

According to a recent poll from the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Democrat Andrew Gillum is four points up on Republican Ron DeSantis.

The spread there is 47-43, with Gillum ahead in every major media market but Jacksonville.

Rays tickets could lead to disbarment of former Bradenton judge

The Florida Bar now is seeking to disbar a former judge who accepted baseball tickets from a law firm representing a woman whose personal injury case he was presiding over.

Circuit Judge John F. Lakin, elected in 2012, quit the bench in March 2016. He served on the 12th Judicial Circuit, which serves DeSoto, Manatee and Sarasota counties. He’s also a former legal analyst for Court TV and MSNBC and a past “Florida Super Lawyer.”

Lakin’s resignation ended a judicial conduct inquiry, but The Bar – which regulates the state’s roughly 105,000 licensed attorneys – filed its own discipline case against him last year.

Lakin

A referee has since recommended a 90-day suspension, followed by one year of probation, but The Bar called that “too lenient.” In a Friday filing, it said he should be stripped of his license to practice law.

Lakin “committed serious misconduct, which undermined the integrity of the judicial system,” its initial brief said. The “recommended sanction … does not reflect the seriousness of the misconduct. The appropriate sanction … is disbarment.”

In a filing in the judicial conduct case, Lakin admitted what he did, but apologized and said he “had no wrongful intent.”

After a trial in the personal injury case, “the jury returned a defense verdict,” finding Walmart not responsible for the plaintiff’s injuries, the Bar’s brief explains.

“The next day, (Lakin’s) judicial assistant received a call from plaintiff’s counsel (Kallins, Little, Delgado), offering the use of the firm’s season tickets for that evening’s Tampa Bay Rays game,” it adds.

Lakin “instructed his judicial assistant to call and accept the offer. (He) received five tickets to the game; he used two and discarded the remainder.”

A previous filing by the state’s Judicial Qualifications Commission (JQC) told Lakin that “despite the fact that the case was not yet final, and you expected that there would be post-trial motions requiring your (action), you failed to advise Walmart’s counsel of your contact with the plaintiff’s law firm.”

He later asked for and got more baseball tickets from the firm, that report added. Afterward, Lakin set aside the jury’s verdict and granted a new trial. “Your extraordinary action allowed the plaintiff a second opportunity to seek damages from Walmart,” the JQC said.

In all, he asked for and got five tickets to four separate Major League Baseball games, “all while the case was pending, and without ever disclosing this fact to the counsel for Walmart,” the JQC said. “The tickets you received were excellent seats, located seven to eight rows back, between home plate and first base.”

Records show Lakin is represented by Tallahassee attorney Jack Weiss, of counsel with Rumberger Kirk & Caldwell. A written request for comment is pending.

Deja vu all over again: Rick Scott says Bill Nelson has done ‘nothing’ for ‘Lake O’

Another day, another ad buy from the Rick Scott Senate campaign.

Friday’s iteration drove home a message that is increasingly familiar; namely, that Sen. Bill Nelson has done “nothing” for “for Lake O in Washington.”

The Scott spot throws back to a 1990 Nelson ad, in which the Senator vowed to “fight to stop the poisoning of lakes and streams across this state. Lake Okeechobee is dying because of the massive dumping of pollutants.”

Alas, contends the ad, Nelson “failed … couldn’t get anything done” and is “all talk, no action.”

The Scott campaign has been messaging on Nelson’s lack of efficacy on this issue for the better part of the summer.

Early August saw an ad buy where the Scott campaign contended “Washington politician Bill Nelson made a pledge 30 years ago to solve this problem, but Nelson’s a talker, not a doer. With Bill Nelson, we get more waiting, more talk, and more algae.”

Like the current spot, the August buy hearkened back to Nelson’s now-fateful 1990 pledge.

Nelson’s campaign pushed back in August against these claims.

“Experts and scientists agree, Rick Scott’s almost eight-year assault on the environment has exacerbated the toxic algae outbreak plaguing much of Florida,” Sebastian Kitchen, a spokesperson for the Nelson for Senate campaign, stated in a written response.

“And now once again — he’s lying about Bill Nelson’s record to hide from his own record of hurting Florida’s environment. Rick Scott has done a poor job as governor because he’s slashed budgets for environmental and water management agencies, cut enforcement of environmental regulations, allowed more toxins in the waterways and stopped efforts to monitor leaking septic tanks, which altogether have helped create the algae crisis we’re facing today,” Kitchen contended.

Days after the Scott ad dropped, Nelson responded with his own buy, pinning the blame on the “manmade crisis” on Gov. Scott.

Scott’s campaign asserted that the Governor “invested record amounts in Florida’s environment and has stepped up time and time again when Washington politicians like Bill Nelson failed to meet their commitment to our state.”

“It was Governor Scott who secured state funding for repairing the Herbert Hoover Dike at Lake Okeechobee, supported legislation to accelerate the EAA reservoir, received a commitment from the president’s administration to speed up dike repairs and secured funding through the Army Corps of Engineers to complete dike repairs by the Governor’s goal of 2022,” the Scott campaign said.

The new Scott ad is below, seemingly released to double down on its own messaging, as if daring the relatively resource-poor Nelson to commit more of his campaign’s money to litigating an argument rehearsed well over a month ago.

Material from FP’s Scott Powers was used in this post. 

Koch-backed Freedom Partners endorses voting restoration amendment

The Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, chaired by Koch Industries VP Mark Holden, said Thursday that it was behind a 2018 ballot amendment that would restore voting rights to non-violent felons who have completed their sentences.

“We believe that when individuals have served their sentences and paid their debts as ordered by a judge, they should be eligible to vote,” Holden said in a press release. “In the Sunshine State, Floridians are permanently excluded from voting because of a prior felony conviction – one of only four states with a lifetime ban.

“If we want people returning to society to be productive, law-abiding citizens, we need to treat them like full-fledged citizens. We support the Florida Second Chances campaign, which would return the eligibility to vote to Floridians who have done their time and paid their debts in full. This will make our society safer, our system more just, and provide for real second chances for returning citizens,” he concluded.

In announcing its support, Freedom Partners said the measure was consistent with its mission of “protecting freedom and expanding opportunity for every American—no matter where they live, what they do or how much money they have.”

Amendment 4 was sponsored by Floridians for a Fair Democracy, and has since earned some tangible support from numerous groups. Second Chances Florida has released a series of ads promoting the amendment, and the Alliance for Safety and Justice (ASJ) in partnership with the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC) have also stepped up a joint ad campaign.

Desmond Meade, the chair of Floridians for a Fair Democracy and a spokesperson for Second Chances Florida, was enthused to have the backing of the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce.

“We are grateful for the endorsement of the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce. There is a simple reason why this measure has strong, broad support across the ideological spectrum: because Americans believe that when a debt is paid, it’s paid,” Meade said.

“Amendment 4 restores a person’s eligibility to vote only after they have completed all terms of their sentence as ordered by a judge. It fixes a broken system for our family members, friends, and neighbors that have paid their debt in full and have earned the opportunity to participate in and give back to their communities,” he concluded.

If passed, the voting restoration amendment would automatically restore voting rights for all nonviolent felons who have served their sentences. There are an estimated 1.4 million Floridians who have a felony conviction and have completed all of the terms of their sentences, be it prison time, probation, parole or restitution.

Those convicted of murder or sexual offenses would be ineligible for restoration.

The current system requires felony offenders to wait up to 7 years before applying for restoration at which point their fate is decided with a vote by the Governor and Cabinet. There are thousands of applications waiting in the queue, according to the Florida Commission on Offender Review.

Amendment 4 will be on the Nov. 6 general election ballot and requires 60 percent support to pass. A poll released in May showed the voting restoration amendment had the support of 74 percent of Florida voters, with Democrats, Republicans and unaffiliated voters each surpassing the 60 percent threshold.

Florida GOP launches pro-Ron DeSantis ads

The Republican Party of Florida is launching English and Spanish commercials essentially introducing Republican gubernatorial nominee, telling of his participation in the 1991 Little League World Series team from Dunedin to his basic platform on Florida issues.

The 30-second spots, “Go To Bat” and “Ir Al Bate”, feature U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis discussing what he learned as a 12-year-old Little League baseball player and then moves to his promises to “grow high-paying jobs, restore Florida’s water quality, and improve education for every child.”

“From Dunedin to Tallahassee, I’ll always go to bat for Florida,” he concludes.

The ads provide no more detail. The Republican Party of Florida did not provide details on the media buy.

DeSantis is facing Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum in the Nov. 6 election.

SEIU to put $5 million toward Florida elections

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is pledging $5 million to help elect candidates throughout Florida this November.

In a statement obtained by Florida Politics, the group says the money will go toward “advertising, communications and get-out-the-vote efforts in Florida to support candidates dedicated to lifting up the middle class.”

“Having to work two full-time jobs to barely feed your children or pay your rent is not freedom,” said SEIU Florida President Monica Russo.

“Living in fear of getting sick because you can’t afford a doctor is not freedom,” she added. “Having no voice in the workplace because you could get fired on a whim is not freedom. Instead, we’re uniting for the freedom Florida families need to achieve better, more secure lives.”

SEIU Florida has also recruited hundreds of members to volunteer through the election cycle. Their efforts will include canvassing neighborhoods and working phone banks.

The organization says it will assist candidates who support a $15 per hour minimum wage, protection of Medicare and expansion of Medicaid, along with the rights of employees to join a union.

News of the monetary contribution comes on the same day the group announced it was backing Andrew Gillum, the Democratic nominee in the race for Governor.

“Andrew Gillum is going to bring working-class values back to the governor’s office so that all Floridians have the freedom to pursue their dreams and support their families,” Russo said.

“Andrew has been fighting his entire life to ensure that every Floridian can earn a good wage, have a safe roof over their head and access quality, affordable health care to give working people the freedom they deserve.”

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