Influence Archives - Page 3 of 492 - Florida Politics

Final votes recorded for failed ‘Stand Your Ground’ session

A Democratic push to reconvene state legislators for a special session on the state’s controversial ‘Stand Your Ground’ law is dead.

Although doomed Thursday night, when it became clear that the three-fifths support threshold could not be met, lawmakers had until noon Friday to go on record with their support or opposition to the special session.

Between the state House and Senate, 77 members voted against the idea, with 48 voting in support. Thirty-one members did not respond to the poll, nor confirm receipt, according to data recorded by the Florida Department of State. 

To spawn a special session, 70 members in the House and 24 members in Senate would have needed to vote favorably. In the House, just 33 members voted ‘yes,’ with 15 doing the same in the Senate.

The special session request follows the shooting death of Markeis McGlockton in the parking lot of a Clearwater convenience store. Pinellas County law enforcement did not pursue charges against the shooter, saying he acted within the state’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law.

Outraged, Democratic members called for lawmakers to be polled on whether they should return to Tallahassee during the lawmaking offseason to revisit the law.

In the Senate, results split across party lines, with all ‘yes’ votes belonging to Democrats and all ‘no’ votes belonging to Republicans. In total, 19 senators voted against a special session and 14 voted in support.

Results tracked along party lines, with a few notable exceptions — and absences.

Republican Sens. Keith Perry, Tom Lee, Rene Garcia and Anitere Flores did not vote, nor did they acknowledge receipt of the poll. Garcia and Flores, of South Florida, have diverted from Republican leadership on gun issues in the past. In March, the two senators voted alongside Democrats in favor of an assault weapons ban.

Orlando Democratic Sen. Linda Stewart also did not cast a vote on the session nor confirm receipt of the poll.

Democratic Reps. Bruce Antone and Katie EdwardsWalpole sided with Republicans in opting not to return to Tallahassee, and Republican Rep. Shawn Harrison cast the single ‘yes’ vote from his party in the chamber.

Among Republicans in the House who did not vote nor confirm receipt of the poll: Republican Reps. Bryan Avila, Michael Bileca, Colleen Burton, Manny Diaz, Byron Donalds, Dane Eagle, Jay Fant, Tom Leek, Amber Mariano, Larry Metz, Mike Miller, Jose Oliva, Cary Pigman, Holly Raschein, Rick Roth, Ross Spano, Cyndi Stevenson and Jackie Toledo.

On the Democratic side, Reps. Matt Willhite, Emily Slosberg, Barrington Russell, Jared Moskowitz, Larry Lee, Jr., and Al Jacquet did not vote nor confirm receipt.

Kayser Enneking pitches health care experience in first TV ad

Gainesville physician Kayser Enneking, a Democrat, started hitting TV Friday with a new ad backing up her campaign to oust incumbent Republican Sen. Keith Perry in Senate District 8.

The 30-second spot, titled “Caring For North Central Florida,” features footage of the anesthesiologist in operating rooms, waiting rooms and living rooms while pitching her as a candidate who can bring health care solutions to Tallahassee. If elected, the campaign notes, Enneking would be the only medical doctor serving in the state Senate.

“Health care in Florida is in crisis. Politicians had years to fix this, but nothing’s gotten better. It’s time to try something different. Meet Dr. Kayser Enneking. Doctor at UF, wife and mother, avid runner and biker,” the ad narrator says.

Enneking, outfitted in scrubs, takes over after the intro.

“I never thought I would get into politics. I’ve spent my whole life taking care of people,” Enneking says. “I’ve decided to run for the state Senate because we need someone who can fix our health care system, defend our environment and protect our public schools.”

Enneking’s campaign said the TV ad will begin airing in the Gainesville area on Friday. Federal Communications Commission filings show the initial media buys measured in at $2,920 and will keep the ad on NBC affiliate WNBW and CBS affiliate WGFL through Aug. 19.

Enneking faces fellow Gainesville Democrat Olysha Magruder in the Aug. 28 primary election, though she’s several steps ahead when it comes to fundraising and endorsements.

As of July 27, Enneking’s campaign account and political committee, Florida Knows Excellence, had brought in more than $450,000 and had $333,500 at the ready. In addition to endorsements from local politicians and groups such as Equality Florida and the AFL-CIO, Enneking’s campaign was recently singled out for some backup from progressive advocacy group For Our Future Florida.

Magruder, meanwhile, has brought in $34,300 for her bid and has about $8,500 banked less than three weeks out from the primary election. Perry, who doesn’t face a primary challenger, has raised more than $671,000 for his re-election efforts and had $505,700 on hand as of Aug. 3.

SD 8 covers all of Alachua and Putnam counties as well as the northern half of Marion County. It is one of a handful of districts that became more favorable to Democrats after the Senate map was redrawn ahead of the 2016 elections.

Despite Democrats holding an 8-point lead in voter registrations in the redrawn district, Perry defeated former FDP chair and state Sen. Rod Smith by 5 points two years ago. The seat was also carried by President Donald Trump, though only by 2 tenths of a point.

Enneking’s ad is below.

Medical marijuana advocates start their own PAC

Gary Stein, a medical marijuana historian and advocate, has opened his own Florida fundraising panel — the first of its kind — to support pro-marijuana candidates and influence legislation.

Clarity PAC was officially registered Wednesday as a non-profit corporation and political committee, state records show.

Its mission: “To advocate for full legal access to medicinal cannabis and the responsible adult use of cannabis, and to help create and pass legislation supporting that topic.” It hasn’t yet posted any contributions or expenses.

Its official launch will be this Sunday, with a noon rally in St. Petersburg at Cage Brewing, 2001 1st Ave. South.

“Clarity PAC will be presenting all candidates’ and elected officials’ views to Florida voters to help them make an informed choice at the polls in the form of spreadsheets … that include answers to specific questions, publicly issued statements and letter grades on reliability on cannabis issues,” Stein said in a statement.

That “information will be coming from more than just the traditional surveys sent to candidate’s offices or calls from phone banking,” he added.

“Advocates across the states, dubbed ‘canna-warriors,’ will be tasked with connecting with candidates … Canna-warriors will be paid for audio and video recordings that can be posted on the internet, and quotes from the candidates will be documented for the media.”

Among the committee’s backers: Tampa strip club mogul, free speech fighter and medical marijuana patient Joe Redner.

Redner is suing the state to be allowed to grow his own marijuana and make juice of it; his doctor recommended fresh juice as the best way to keep his lung cancer in remission. Redner won at trial, but the state is appealing.

Also on Stein’s board is Bill Monroe, a Navy veteran who’s director of facilities for 3 Boys Farm, a medical marijuana treatment center based in Ruskin.

Cannabis Cures Investments, or CannCure, recently agreed to buy a 60 percent interest in 3 Boys, with the closing expected in mid-August. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

‘Stand Your Ground’ session likely doomed

Florida lawmakers have until noon Friday to respond to a proposal by Democrats to call a special session to revisit the state’s “stand your ground” self-defense law.

As of Wednesday evening, responses have largely fallen along party lines. House Republicans, expected to reject the idea of holding a session, made up 43 of the 44 recorded ‘no’ responses. Retiring Democrat Katie EdwardsWalpole also rejected the idea.

House Democrats, expected to back the idea of holding a session, made up 24 of the 25 ‘yes’ responses thus far. Rep. Shawn Harrison, a Tampa Republican, also supported the idea.

A total of 48 responses are still pending from the state House. House Speaker Richard Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican, responded ‘no.’

In the Senate, 12 Democrats have responded ‘yes’ while 11 Republicans have said ‘no’ as of Wednesday evening. Responses from 16 senators are pending.

All 16 Senate Democrats and 23 of the 41 House Democrats signed a request by Sen. Darryl Rouson, a St. Petersburg Democrat, that triggered the state Department of State to poll the entire Legislature on holding a special session.

The proposal needs three-fifths support in each of the GOP-dominated legislative chambers, which would equate to 70 members of the House and 24 members of the Senate, according to the state department.

The request to revisit the self-defense law came in response to the July 23 shooting death of Markeis McGlockton in the parking lot of a Clearwater convenience store. No charges have been filed against the shooter, with Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri saying the gunman is protected under the long-controversial law.

Material from the News Service of Florida is used in this post with permission.

OFR Commissioner pick pushed back

Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet are moving back a decision on hiring a new top financial regulator.

Scott and the Cabinet had been expected to make a pick during a meeting next week, but Kristin Olson, Scott’s Cabinet aide, said Wednesday the governor’s office continues to review applicants for the job of commissioner of the Office of Financial Regulation and another position as inspector general of the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp.

“Our office needed more time to review those candidates, so they’ll be on the next Cabinet agenda,” Olson said.

The Cabinet meets only two more times this year after next Tuesday’s meeting: Sept. 11 and Dec. 4. Scott and the Cabinet — Attorney General Pam Bondi, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis — in June agreed to name Pam Epting as acting commissioner of the Office of Financial Regulation and to reopen the application process after interviewing five applicants.

An additional 20 applications were submitted following the June meeting.

Epting was the deputy commissioner of the office — her pay was raised by $10,000 to $135,000 with the acting title — and is not among the applicants to replace former Commissioner Drew Breakspear, who resigned under pressure from Patronis. Patronis claimed there was a “lack of cooperation, responsiveness and communication” from the office.

Scott, Bondi and Putnam will leave their current offices in January, while Patronis is running in the November election to remain as CFO. Putnam is running for governor, while Scott is running for U.S. Senate.  Bondi can’t seek re-election due to term limits and isn’t seeking another office.

Progressive group sending backup to state Senate battlegrounds

Progressive advocacy group For Our Future Florida announced Wednesday that it will pitch in on the effort to flip the state Senate, starting with the seats held by Republican Sens. Keith Perry and Dana Young.

Senate District 8, the Gainesville-based seat held by Perry, and Senate District 18, the Tampa-based seat held by Young, sit atop the Florida Democratic Party’s wish list for 2018.

Young was elected to SD 18 with a plurality of the vote two years ago as the district voted for Hillary Clinton at the top of the ticket, while Perry won his seat by 4 points as Donald Trump claimed a narrow victory despite Democrats holding an 8-point lead in voter registrations.

In 2018, both seats have drawn competitive challengers. House Minority Leader Janet Cruz currently leads the polls in her quest to unseat Young, while Gainesville physician Kayser Enneking, a first-time candidate, has posted impressive fundraising numbers in her bid to knock off Perry.

“All Florida has to show for Keith Perry and Dana Young’s time in Tallahassee is millions funneled out of our public schools leaving our state one of the worst for K-12 education in the country and nearly one million low-income residents blocked from accessing healthcare through Medicaid,” said For Our Future spox Blake Williams. “Working Floridians deserve representatives like Kayser Enneking and Janet Cruz who will look out for their best interests, advocate for the middle class, and fight for affordable healthcare.”

For Our Future Florida added that the “State Senate program will be a comprehensive field effort focused on both persuasion and mobilization universes and will include a vote-by-mail program layered into the field campaign.”

The same group, a branch of For Our Future Action Fund, recently held a “Statewide Canvass Day of Action” that consisted of 72 separate events in all corners of the state to make the case Democrats running for the state Legislature and U.S. House as well as for re-electing U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson to a fourth term and sending a Democrat to the Governor’s Mansion for the first time this century.

For Our Future Florida pushes for progressive-backed plans to expand Social Security and Medicare, boost investments in green energy production, increase education funding and end the “school to prison pipeline.”

Poll: Bob Doyel slightly edges incumbent Kelli Stargel in Senate District 22

A poll released by the state Senate campaign of retired Circuit Judge Robert Doyel, a Winter Haven Democrat, shows him edging Republican incumbent Sen. Kelli Stargel of Lakeland in the November general election for the Republican-leaning District 22.

The poll shows a preference of 45 percent for Doyel to 40 percent for Stargel with 15 percent undecided if the election were held today. With a margin of error of 4.9 percent, however, the results are just barely out of a statistical tie.

Asked if they wanted to re-elect Stargel or someone else, the poll said 33 percent of the voters want Stargel re-elected, 39 percent said they they’d vote for someone else, and 28 percent said they didn’t know.

The district breakdown is 42 percent Republican to 38 percent Democrats.

The poll results do not show a Democratic primary matchup versus Ricardo Rangel, who lists his address as Auburndale, but who served a term in Florida House from Osceola County.

Doyel and Stargel are each well known by 54 percent of the voters who were surveyed.

Asked if they had a favorable or unfavorable view of each candidate, 37 percent of the voters surveyed said that they had a favorable view of Doyel while 17 percent said unfavorable with the remainder as undecided or no answer.

While voters were not asked their reasons for their favorable or unfavorable views, Stargel has taken hits recently by school board members and teachers for the Republican legislators’ actions on school policies and funding,

The race has been identified as a priority by the Florida Democratic Party of Florida and has brought funding and advice from the state party, not seen in the area in many years. It is still the only race in Senate or House districts anchored in Polk County in which the state party has taken a direct interest.

The random telephone poll of 402 likely voters in the November General Election in Senate District 22, was conducted July 23-26. It was conducted by Kevin Akins of Anzalone Liszt Grove Research.

The poll included an oversample of 50 voters in the Lake County portion of the district to bring the results up to a measurable proportion. It also included a party breakdown in proportion to the voters in the district, 43 percent Republican, 36 percent Democrat 21 percent No Party Affiliation or Other.

Polling included the use of both landline and cellphone numbers. Pollsters said the poll results were weighted to reflect the traditional 7 percent GOP turnout advantage.

Cabinet decision on top financial regulator postponed

Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet are moving back a decision on hiring a new top financial regulator.

Scott and the Cabinet had been expected to make a pick during a meeting next week, but Kristin Olson, Scott’s Cabinet aide, said Wednesday that the Governor’s Office continues to review applicants for the job of commissioner of the Office of Financial Regulation — and another position as inspector general of the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp.

“Our office needed more time to review those candidates, so they’ll be on the next Cabinet agenda,” Olson said.

The Cabinet meets only two more times this year after next Tuesday’s meeting: Sept. 11 and Dec. 4.

Scott and the Cabinet — Attorney General Pam Bondi, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis — in June agreed to name Pam Epting as acting commissioner of the Office of Financial Regulation and to reopen the application process after interviewing five applicants.

An additional 20 applications were submitted following the June meeting. Epting, who was deputy commissioner of the office, had her pay raised by $10,000 to $135,000 with the acting title.

She is not among the applicants to replace former Commissioner Drew Breakspear, who resigned under pressure from Patronis. He claimed there was a “lack of cooperation, responsiveness and communication” from the office under Breakspear.

Scott, Bondi and Putnam will leave their current offices in January, while Patronis is running in the November election to remain as CFO.

Putnam is running for governor, while Scott is running for U.S. Senate.  Bondi can’t seek re-election due to term limits and isn’t seeking another office.

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Republished with permission of The News Service of Florida

Internal polling puts Democrats ahead in GOP-held state House seats

There’s been a lot of talk about whether Gov. Rick Scott will topple U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in the fall. Ditto for the race to replace him Governor’s mansion. Lost in the shuffle, however, are the dozens of down-ballot races only a small amount of voter outreach and an even smaller amount of public polling has taken place.

A new series of polls for state House races in the Orlando and Miami metros could change that conversation tout suite. The surveys, commissioned by the Florida Democratic Party’s state House campaign arm, show the party is well positioned to flip four Republican-held seats, two of them open and two of them held by GOP lawmakers running for re-election.

The most shocking of the polls, conducted by Change Research, was the measure for HD 30, which straddles the border of Orange and Seminole counties and is currently held by Altamonte Springs Republican Rep. Bob Cortes.

If the election were held today and voters had to choose, they’d ditch the incumbent and vote in Orlando Democrat Brendan Ramirez by 7 points. More than a third of voters were undecided in that poll, but the 36-29 margin comes despite Ramirez facing two Democratic primary challengers and having spent only $5,250 getting his message out to the voters.

Cortes, on the other hand, has brought in nearly $150,000 for his campaign and spent nearly $30,000, but his showing puts him 5 points behind a generic Republican, who would trail 37-34.

The same situation is playing out down in South Florida, where in three GOP-held districts voters said they preferred a generic Democratic candidate over an unnamed Republican.

In HD 93, a rare Republican oasis in deep-blue Broward County, Democratic nominee Emma Collum holds a 2-point lead over Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca. That edge is not as eyebrow raising as the other measures, considering HD 93 is an open seat where Collum has been fundraising and campaigning hard for months.

In HD 103, the seat currently held by term-limited Hialeah Republican Rep. Manny Diaz, Miramar Democrat Cindy Polo leads Republican nominee Frank Mingo outright, 32-28 percent. Polo has raised just $17,345 and spent $5,579 since filing for the seat in late March compared to $108,378 raised and $44,338 spent for Mingo.

In HD 120, third-term Republican Rep. Holly Raschein holds a 7-point lead over Democratic nominee Steve Friedman, 36-29 percent. That beats the 4-point margin that won her another term two years ago, but that lead dissipates entirely when voters were asked which way they’d lean if the election were today.

In that measure, she trailed 24-17. And that’s with Friedman not even actively campaigning in the district since entering the race in mid-May.

If those internal polls are indicative of Election Day turnout, the so-called “blue wave” could see Floridians sending a lot more than a new Governor to Tallahassee.

The Change Research surveys were conducted July 3 through July 6. The pollster took responses from 546 registered voters in HD 30, 903 in HD 93, 446 in HD 103 and 513 in HD 120.

Rick Scott, Cabinet eye protecting ranch land

Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet will be asked next week to spend $5.5 million to help limit future development on nearly 2,500 acres of ranch land in Highlands County.

The proposal, which will go to the Cabinet on Aug. 14, seeks to add the Sandy Gully property to the Rural and Family Lands Protection Program, which through the use of “conservation easements” restricts future development but allows owners to continue using land for such things as agricultural operations.

The program, favored by Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, has been used 38 times in the past eight years, accounting for more than 47,000 acres across the state being put into conservation easements.

The family-owned Sandy Gully land, originally a dairy operation, transitioned to a cattle operation in 2002. The purchase could help protect wetlands and surface waters that flow toward the Peace River.

The state anticipates that the federal government will eventually cover $3.3 million of the cost through an Agricultural Conservation Easement Program grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service.

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