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Rick Scott tries to lure ‘upset’ Connecticut firms

Florida’s governor says there are “a lot of business people upset” in Connecticut and he’s hoping to persuade them to move to the Sunshine State.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott met Monday with community and business leaders in Norwalk. He made a similar trip in 2015 to lure Connecticut business to Florida as part of an “economic development mission.”

Scott’s visit comes as health insurer Aetna Inc. considers relocating its long-time headquarters from Hartford.

Scott says he would “love every company in Connecticut” to think about moving to Florida, where he says taxes and regulations have been cut since he first took office.

Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy‘s spokeswoman says “it’s no wonder” Scott would look to Connecticut and be “envious” of its’ high quality of life, good schools and skilled workforce.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Personnel note: Dale Swope named president of Florida Justice Association

Tampa attorney Dale Swope has been named the 58th president of the Florida Justice Association, the group announced in a press release Monday.


Swope took the presidency at the Association’s 2017 Annual Conference in St. Pete Beach last week. The group is the only statewide professional association dedicated to trial attorneys and their clients in the state.

“I’m honored my colleagues have placed their trust in me to lead the Florida Justice Association at this consequential time for civil justice in our state and country,” Swope said after being sworn in.

“We are the trusted advocates every day Floridians turn to when they seek justice after they are hurt by rich and powerful insurance companies and corporations,” he added. “We will continue our work from the courthouse to the statehouse to protect access to justice for all.”

Swope, 63, is the managing partner of Swope, Rodante. He succeeds Tallahassee attorney James “Jimmy” Gustafson, a shareholder with Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley as president for a one-year term.

Others elected to leadership positions include Lake H. “Trey” Lytal III, of West Palm Beach, who will serve as President-elect. He practices law with the firm of Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath.

Leslie Mitchell Kroeger, of Palm Beach Gardens, will serve as Treasurer. She is a partner with the law firm Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll.

Eric Romano, of Lake Worth, will serve as Secretary. He is a partner with the Romano Law Group.

DSCC releases new digital ad taking aim at Rick Scott over health care

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee is once again targeting Gov. Rick Scott over his support of the Republican health care agenda.

The committee announced Monday it was launching full-screen, Google takeover ads featuring new versions of a DSCC called “The Price” aimed at Scott’s support of the health care plan and its impact on Florida families.

“Rick Scott cannot escape the toxic impact his health care proposals will have: spiking costs, sabotaging care and stripping coverage for hardworking families in order to give another handout to himself and big insurance companies,” said David Bergstein, a spokesman for the DSCC. “This week the stakes for middle class families could not be higher — if Scott has his way the consequences for Floridians who actually work for a living will be expensive and horrific. We are standing with voters in opposing a plan that is deeply unpopular in Florida, and will hold Gov. Scott accountable for his actions.”

The 30-second spot features images of a man and woman selling their vehicle and jewelry, before appearing at the hospital bed of a child. At the end of the advertisement, the words “What will Rick Scott’s health care plan cost you?” flash across the screen.

The ad, which the national Democratic organization says will reach targeted voters in Florida who make up key elements of the 2018 midterm electorate, is part of an ongoing six-figure digital ad buy.

Scott is believed to be preparing for a run against Sen. Bill Nelson in 2018.

Jacquet, Al (state representative)

Endorsement watch: Al Jacquet supports Andrew Gillum

State Rep. Al Jacquet on Monday announced his support of Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum for governor in 2018.

“Andrew brings a fresh perspective, energetic spirit, and the bold leadership our state desperately needs in order to best address our economic issues,” said Jacquet, a Lantana Democrat. “We are the third-largest state in America, and yet our economy has failed to produce enough good paying jobs.

“It’s time to stand up to special interests whose only concern has been filling their own pockets,” added Jacquet, an attorney who speaks four languages and has served as vice mayor of Delray Beach.

Gillum, also a Democrat, said he was “excited to have” Jacquet’s endorsement.

“Al has been working hard in the legislature to raise wages for workers and ensure equal treatment for all,” Gillum said in a statement. “Palm Beach County and all of Florida cannot afford more of the same in the Governor’s Mansion—we need to increase wages and invest in training workers for the good-paying jobs available today.”

Jacquet’s support adds to recent endorsements from U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro, and state Sen. Jeff Clemens.

Poll: Daniel Perez has 24-point lead over Jose Mallea in HD 116 race

Daniel Perez has a big lead over Jose Mallea, at least according to one poll of House District 116 voters.

But the same survey shows more than half of Republican voters in the South Florida House district remain undecided with about one month to go before the special primary to replace Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, who resigned his seat effective Sept. 26 to run in Senate District 40.

The poll conducted by McLaughlin & Associates from June 13 to June 15 shows Perez with a 24-point lead over Mallea. The survey of 234 likely Republican special election voters was done by phone, and 62 percent of the interviews were conducted in Spanish.

According to a polling memo, 37 percent of respondents said they would vote for Perez, compared to 13 percent who picked Mallea. Fifty-one percent of respondents said they were still undecided.

The survey had a margin of error of 6.4 percent.

According to the memo, voters were “then given various statements about both candidates (positive and negative), which included topics such as personal backgrounds, issue positions, Gov. Jeb Bush’s endorsement of Jose Mallea and the reports about Perez and Mallea in regards to Cuba as published in the Miami Herald and Miami New Times.”

Once voters took that into account, pollsters wrote that Perez’s “24-point margin increases significantly, with voters selecting him with an outright majority of the vote (passes 50%).”

Perez, a political newcomer, has raised $83,450 in his bid to replace Diaz in House District 116. He the first week of June with $35,418 cash on hand.

By comparison, Mallea has raised $140,156 and ended the first week of June with $88,488 cash on hand. A long-time political operative, he’s also racked up a series of big name endorsements, including Bush and former House Speaker Will Weatherford.

The special primary is July 25, with the general election scheduled on Sept. 26.

New round of mailers target Alex Diaz de la Portilla in SD 40

Another round of mailers is hitting Miami voters’ mailboxes, once again taking aim at Alex Diaz de la Portilla in the race to replace former Sen. Frank Artiles in Senate District 40.

Making A Better Tomorrow has released two more mailers in the Senate District 40 race. In one ad, the Venice-based political committee claims Diaz de la Portilla “is completely unfit to hold public office.” The mailer points to his failure to report hundreds of campaign contributions and personal financial strife, among other things, as reasons why the group says he is “unfit to lead.”

A second mailer, which hit mailboxes last week, claims Diaz de la Portilla “has hurt Florida’s seniors.”

“Diaz de la Portilla’s higher taxes have killed jobs and hurt seniors,” reads the ad. “First Alex Diaz de la Portilla cut $2.5 million from programs benefiting Florida seniors, including home car for the elderly, community care and Alzheimer’s disease initiative programs. Then he turned around and cut funding to nursing homes. As if that’s not bad enough, Diaz de la Portilla cut Medicaid payments and imposed higher taxes on facilities that care for seniors.”

Diaz de la Portilla served in the Florida House from 1994 until 2000, when he was elected to serve in the Florida Senate. He served in the Senate until 2010, serving stints as the Majority Leader and Senate President Pro Tempore.

He faces Rep. Jose Felix Diaz and Lorenzo Palomares in the special election to replace Artiles, who resigned earlier this year amid scandal, in Senate District 40. The race for the GOP nomination is expected to be a bitter and expensive battle, with outside groups pouring thousands upon thousands of dollars into the race.

Making a Better Tomorrow has raised more than $289,331 million since 2014, according to state records. The group hasn’t received any donations since February 2017, when it received a single $4,000 contribution. State records show it ended May with $41,923 cash on hand.




Democrat Pam Keith launches her bid against Brian Mast in CD 18

Democrat Pam Keith has made official her bid to run in Florida’s 18th Congressional District, launching her bid against incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Mast.

Keith, a labor lawyer and former U.S. Navy judge advocate general who ran last year for the Democrat’s U.S. Senate nomination, is seeking to make Mast vulnerable on his vote this spring on the American Health Care Act.

“It’s shocking to watch Brian Mast vote to rip healthcare away from 60,000 parents, children and veterans in his district,” Keith said in a news release announcing her candidacy. “That’s essentially every person in Indiantown, Stuart, and Fort Pierce all losing their coverage.”

Keith, of Palm Beach Gardens, cited independent analysts for estimating that the Republican health care bill would remove coverage from 63,300 constituents in CD 18.

She also accused Mast of voting for legislation that could reduce environmental protections, and vowed she would push to protect the Treasure Coast’s drinking water and clean water economy.

“Congressman Mast votes for pollution in our drinking water instead of protecting our rivers and beaches. He’ll do whatever Trump and the Republicans ask even if it’s wrong for our community,” Keith stated “Voters deserve someone with enough experience to understand the system, and enough courage not to be cowed by it.”

Last year Keith ran a low-budget campaign that positioned her largely as an afterthought in what was viewed as a two-person race for the Democrats’ U.S. Senate nomination, between then-U.S. Reps. Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson. Murphy won the primary in landslide fashion. Keith, who said she put 117,000 miles on her car traveling the state, drew 16 percent, just behind Grayson’s 18 percent.

Gwen Graham taps Julia Gill Woodward to serve as campaign manager

Gwen Graham has tapped a longtime aide to run her 2018 gubernatorial campaign.

Julia Gill Woodward is taking over the reins of Graham’s gubernatorial campaign. Woodward has a long history with the former Democratic congresswoman from Tallahassee, serving both on her 2014 congressional campaign and working as her chief of staff.

“As a ninth-generation Floridian, Julia Woodward knows this state as well as anyone,” said Graham in a statement. “In 2014, she guided our team to victory in one of the most competitive races in the entire country. I’m confident, under her leadership, we will be ready to defeat any Republican and turn Florida blue.”

A Florida State University graduate, Woodward served ran Graham’s 2014 congressional campaign. She stayed on with Graham, a Democrat from Tallahassee, once she was elected, serving as her chief of staff. Her husband even gained notoriety for doing a backflip during the biennial office lottery, a good luck charm  since Graham was picked sixth and got her first choice of office.

Before joining the Graham campaign, she spent a year as the deputy campaign manager and the finance director for Keith Fitzgerald’s 2012 congressional bid. She also served stints as the statewide political director for Loranne Ausley’s CFO bid and the deputy finance director for the Florida Democratic Party.

While Woodward has effectively been running the campaign since Graham announced her bid, the announcement that she is taking over formally in the role of campaign manager comes a little over a month after the departure of Beth Matuga. The Democratic operative left the Florida Democratic Party’s Senate Victory arm to work for Graham, but left shortly after Graham’s campaign launched.

Baxter Troutman opens iGrow PC to fund Agriculture Commissioner bid

Baxter Troutman has opened a political committee, allowing him to raise unlimited dollars toward his bid to replace Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in 2018.

State records show Troutman launched iGrow PC, a state political committee. He filed a statement of solicitation with the Division of Elections on June 14, two days after he filed to run for the statewide seat. POLITICO Florida first reported the creation of Troutman’s political committee.

Troutman filed the necessary paperwork to run for Agriculture Commissioner on June 12, and opened his campaign account with a personal contribution of $2.5 million. He is the grandson of late citrus baron and one-time gubernatorial candidate Ben Hill Griffin Jr.

The 50-year-old served in the Florida House 2002 to 2010. Troutman, who proposed to his wife Rebecca on the floor of the House while it was in session, campaigned for her last year in her unsuccessful run for Polk County School Board. She will serve as the co-chair of his campaign, and Troutman said he looks forward to “spending the months ahead traveling the state to talk with Floridians about our future.”

“Every corner of this great state feels the practical and economic impact of agriculture, and we simply cannot afford someone in this important leadership position who doesn’t understand how to make it work for taxpayers,” he said. “For these reasons, I have spent the past few weeks talking to friends, neighbors and my family. The strong encouragement to move forward with this campaign has been humbling. Winning the faith and support of so many is truly a blessing.”

Republicans Denise Grimsley, Matt Caldwell, and Paul Paulson have already filed to run for the seat. Putnam can’t run for re-election again in 2018 because of term limits.

The Florida Bar

Florida Bar holds annual convention this week

The Florida Bar‘s Annual Convention begins Wednesday at the Boca Raton Resort & Club, with “a focus on the future of the legal profession and the challenges lawyers face,” the organization said in a news release.

On Friday, Miami attorney Michael J. Higer will be sworn in as the Bar’s 69th president, and West Palm Beach attorney Michelle Suskauer will become the Bar’s president-elect. She’ll assume the presidency next June.

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

The theme of this year’s convention is “Inspire the Future,” focusing on “the future of the legal profession and the importance of working with colleagues to bring about positive change. Seminars and programs will address the rapid technological changes in legal services,” the release said.

The schedule also includes a judicial luncheon on Thursday, with Supreme Court Chief Justice Jorge Labarga as keynote speaker and a tribute to retiring Executive Director John F. “Jack” Harkness Jr., who’s been the Bar’s head for 37 years.

A President’s Showcase on Thursday will be “Constitution Revision Commission & Florida’s Judiciary” to “ensure that Florida Bar members are informed as to how CRC proposals may affect the judiciary and, in turn, the practice of law in Florida.”

And 254 attorneys who have been practicing for 50 years will be honored during a luncheon sponsored by the Bar’s Young Lawyers Division.

The convention ends Saturday. A full schedule is here.

For more details, click here. Also, “a mobile app provides meeting schedules, exhibitor and sponsor listings with links, a personal schedule tracker and updates throughout the convention,” according to the release.

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