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Retired Winter Park Police Chief Brett Railey endorses Stockton Reeves in HD 47

Republican Florida House candidate Stockton Reeves has received the endorsement of retired Winter Park Police Chief Brett Railey, who recently served as president of the Florida Police Chiefs Association, Reeves announced.

Reeves, a Winter Park businessman, is running for Florida House District 47, being vacated by Republican state Sen. Mike Miller, who is running for Congress rather than seeking re-election. Democrat Anna Eskamani also is running for that seat.

Railey retired last year from the Winter Park Police Department after 39 years in law enforcement. He was president of the Florida Police Chiefs Association in 2015-’16.

“I have known Stockton for many years and with his experience working with law enforcement, fire and emergency service departments, I believe he will stand out in Tallahassee, working to keep our communities prepared and safe,” Railey stated in a post Reeves published on Facebook.

Reeves business, The Center for Public Safety, works with public safety agencies to plan, seek financing for, develop, design, and build facilities ranging from fire stations to police training centers to headquarters.

“I am humbled and proud to be endorsed and supported by one of Florida’s top law enforcement professionals, Chief Brett Railey,” Reeves stated. “A career public safety official, Chief Railey served our community with distinction and honor for 35 years during which he coordinated multiple agencies in response to Hurricanes Dennis and Katrina in Florida and Mississippi.”

Pat Schroeder endorses Anna Eskamani in HD 47 race

Former Colorado Democratic U.S. Rep. and Central Florida  women’s rights activist Patricia Schroeder has endorsed Anna Eskamani in the Florida House District 47 race in Orlando, Eskamani’s campaign announced Thursday.

“Anna Eskamani is smart as a whip, as energetic as they come, and has a heart the size of a washtub. She wins, WE WIN!” Schroeder stated in a news release issued by Eskamani’s campaign.

Schroeder represented Colorado in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1973 through 1997, and has retired in Central Florida. She continues to be active in progressive Democratic politics, particularly for women’s rights issues. She first met Eskamani when the latter was vice president of the College Democrats at the University of Central Florida in 2011.

Eskamani, an Orlando executive with Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, faces Republican Winter Park businessman Stockton Reeves in the race to replace Republican state Rep. Mike Miller, who is running for Congress. HD 47 covers north-central Orange County, including Winter Park and downtown Orlando.

“Patricia Schroeder is a force to be reckoned with. I am truly the sum of those around me, and having the support of a trailblazer like Congresswoman Schroeder is a reminder of our campaign’s strength and purpose,” Eskamani stated in the release.

Linda Stewart, Victor Torres, Randolph Bracy urging U.S. senators to help Puerto Rico

Three state senators from Orlando, Linda Stewart, Victor Torres and Randolph Bracy have sent a letter to Florida’s U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson to do all they can to help the people of Puerto Rico.

Both Rubio, a Republican, and Nelson, a Democrat, have been highly active on that front.

Rubio is sending his own staff to the island and pledged a second visit soon after touring the Hurricane Maria devastation on Monday.

Nelson took to the Senate floor Tuesday to urge his colleagues to quickly take up and pass an aid package to help those affected by the recent hurricanes in Florida, Texas, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“We need to act with urgency and purpose to aid Puerto Rico in their time of need,” Nelson said. “In a crisis, all that matters is saving lives and giving people the resources they need to get back on their feet.”

Rubio just visited the island devastated by Hurricane Maria and took to Facebook Live Tuesday to urge help for Puerto Rico, where he said the situation, especially outside San Juan, “is catastrophic.” Later he met with Vice President Mike Pence and Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González and said he would take to the floor of the Senate Tuesday night to “rethink how we can respond” and accelerate aid. He said he would send four members of his staff to San Juan and hoped to return himself in a few days.

Also Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, an Orlando Democrat, took to the floor of the House of Representatives to describe what he called a “humanitarian crisis happening in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.” He called on President Donald Trump  to take immediate action and mobilize all resources possible, and urged Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to promptly bring forth a FEMA Supplemental Package to include Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Stewart, Torres and Bracy, all Democrats, urged a “swift federal response that uses every available tool at the disposal of the federal government.”

The request continued, “it is the sole responsibility of America’s federal government to provide the necessities of life for millions of its citizens in the hour of their greatest need.”

“We request that you use the full weight of your office to ensure the federal government, by utilizing its disaster relief agencies and military logistical capabilities, to swiftly secure the island of Puerto Rico so emergencies supplies and volunteer relief organizations can begin sending much needed supplies and volunteers to support the residents,” the trio wrote.

“We further request the federal government prioritize restoring essential services needed for the full operation of all airports, seaports and ground transportation infrastructure, as well as public utility services such as potable water systems, sewer service and electric power generation in Puerto Rico to facilitate the delivery relief supplies.”

Bobby Olszewski raises $55K in latest HD 44 report, has $27K for special election

Republican nominee Bobby Olszewski raised $55,000 including about $24,000 in in-kind services from the state party after winning an Aug. 15 primary and had about $27,500 left for his contest with replacement Democratic nominee Eddy Dominguez, at the time of the latest campaign finance reports.

Those reports, through Sept. 7, showed the Republican Party of Florida jumped in with polling and campaign staff for Olszewski after he defeated John Newstreet, Bruno Portigliatti and Usha Jain in the GOP primary to fill the vacant seat for Florida’s House District 44, covering southwest Orange County.

Olszewski, a businessman from Winter Garden, also received 21 $1,000 checks from business interests since that primary, including from various political committees representing the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Walt Disney World, the Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association, and Rosen Hotels. Several of those groups supporting Olszewski had backed Newstreet in the primary.

That money helps Olszewski to prepare for an Oct. 10 special election that initially was to be against Democrat Paul Chandler.  Chandler withdrew two weeks ago and last week the Orange County Democratic Party selected Dominguez, a businessman from the Dr. Phillips community, to be a replacement candidate. Chandler’s name remains on the ballots, but Dominguez will collect those votes.

Because Dominguez only just entered the race, he has not filed any campaign finance reports yet with the Florida Division of Elections.

Olszewski has raised a total of $106,000 since entering the race in early April, but spent most of that for the primary.


Stephanie Murphy joins Climate Solutions Caucus

Winter Park’s U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy has joined the bipartisan Congressional Climate Solutions Caucus that was founded by and is led by Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Kendall and Democratic U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch of Boca Raton.

Murphy is one of six new members added – three Democrats and three Republicans – to a caucus that now numbers 29 Republicans and 29 Democrats, and includes six of Florida’s 27 members of Congress.

The caucus’s stated goal is to push common-sense solutions that address the root causes of climate change and mitigate its threats.

“Climate change poses a threat to Florida’s economy and our way of life, but it also presents an opportunity for the state to step up and lead on this issue,” Murphy stated in a news release issued by her office. “Clean air and water shouldn’t be a partisan issue, which is why I’m proud to join the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus. By working together across party lines, we’re leading the fight to reduce our carbon footprint, create well-paying clean energy jobs, and support research that addresses the threat to our communities. Florida must continue to lead the way in the development of alternative and renewable energies, and I’m working to ensure our beautiful state lives up to its full potential.”

From the start, the caucus has carefully walked the bipartisan line, bringing Republicans to a forum to acknowledge and address climate change, and Democrats to a forum where they can share the discourse with Republicans. In addition to Curbelo, the caucus includes Florida Republicans Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami and Brian Mast of Palm City. In addition to Deutch and Murphy, the caucus includes Florida Democrat Charlie Crist of St. Petersburg.

Deutch and Curbelo spoke out about the recent devastating hurricanes as evidence that climate change needs bipartisan attention.

“These new members are joining the caucus amid a devastating hurricane season, where major storms are gaining strength from the warmer waters in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico,” Deutch stated in a news release from his office. “We are witnessing the serious impacts of climate change right in front of our eyes. More and more members of Congress believe we need to respond to climate change right now, and I’m thrilled that they turn to the Climate Solutions Caucus as a forum for open and constructive dialogue.”

Added Curbelo, “The real-world implications of sea level rise have been on display for all to see in Texas, Florida and the Caribbean following Hurricanes, Harvey, Irma and Maria. I’m grateful these members are willing to step up and turn their concern into action by joining the Climate Solutions Caucus. This growing bipartisan coalition will be critical to ensuring Congress makes finding solutions to this issue a priority.”

In addition to Murphy, the new members are Democratic U.S. Reps. John Larson of Connecticut and Nydia Velázquez of New York; and Republican U.S. Reps. Pat Tiberi of Ohio, Chris Collins  of New York, and Jack Bergman of Michigan.

Marco Rubio, Mel Martinez, Connie Mack III headline Mike Miller fundraiser

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, former U.S. Sens. Mel Martinez and Connie Mack III, and former Lt Gov. Toni Jennings headline a long host list for a congressional campaign fundraiser for state Rep. Mike Miller of Winter Park this week.

The Thursday evening, $500 per person fundraiser at the Country Club of Orlando aims to boost Miller’s campaign to first defeat fellow Republican candidate Scott Sturgill, a Sanford businessman, and then to take on Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy in the 2018 election.

The list of dozens of hosts, featuring Jennings and Martinez, two popular and once-powerful figures in Central Florida politics, also includes numerous current and former local Republican power brokers such as timeshare magnate David Siegel, airports board chairman Frank Kruppenbacher, attorney Marcos Marchena, financier Phil Handy, and former Walt Disney World President Dick Nunis.

Former U.S. Reps. Ric Keller and Connie Mack IV, and former Florida House Speakers Dean Cannon and Steve Crisafulli. also are among the listed hosts.

Miller, of Winter Park, hopes to re-flip Florida’s 7th Congressional District seat that Murphy won from Republican former U.S. Rep. John Mica of Winter Park, who had served the district for 24 years before Murphy came along. The district covers Seminole County and north and central Orange County.

Darren Soto signs call to suspend Jones Act, ease FEMA rules for Puerto Rico

U.S. Rep. Darren Soto has signed on to a letter urging the federal government to suspend the 1920 Jones Act governing shipping and ease FEMA cost-sharing rules during Puerto Rico’s recovery process from Hurricane Maria.

The Jones Act requires all ships moving supplies to Puerto Rico from American ports be American and American-crewed.

The letter initiated by U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez, a Democrat from New York, asks Homeland Security Acting Secretary Elaine Duke, asks that the federal government suspend, for one year, the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, also known as the Jones Act, for shipping into Puerto Rico so that the island can more easily receive oil, power grid equipment and other critical supplies.

Soto, an Orlando Democrat, was one of seven cosigners.

“The island is now facing an unprecedented uphill battle to rebuild its homes, businesses and communities. Temporarily loosening these requirements – for the express purpose of disaster recovery – will allow Puerto Rico to have more access to the oil needed for its power plants, food, medicines, clothing, and building supplies,” the letter argues.

The letter also requests that a FEMA requirement for local cost-sharing on relief efforts be waived for Puerto Rico because the island and its government already were in deep economic trouble before Maria hit.

“Puerto Rico’s current economic conditions have already pushed the local government’s financial resources to the breaking point. Requiring cost-sharing during this critical time could take local resources away from providing the essential services many citizens need,” the letter states.

“Hurricane Maria has taken a significant toll on the Island, its infrastructure and its residents. The Federal Government has the duty to ensure these American citizens are provided the relief they need. By granting these temporary waivers, DHS can ensure we are doing everything we can to help American families in need,” the letter concludes.

Bipartisan Florida for Puerto Rico legislative effort assembled

State Reps. Rene Plasencia and Bob Cortes announced the creation of a bipartisan legislative team starting with two dozen Florida lawmakers seeking ways to assist Puerto Rico in its recovery from Hurricane Maria.

Besides Cortes and Plasencia, Central Florida Republicans who both have Puerto Rico heritage, the “FL2PR Response Team” also includes Republican David Santiago of Deltona and Orlando Democratic state Sen. Victor Torres and Democratic state Rep. Amy Mercado, whose families also trace to Puerto Rico.

Much of the Central Florida delegation signed on, also including Republican state Reps. Mike Miller, Mike LaRosa and Scott Plakon, and Democratic state Reps. Carlos Guillermo Smith and John Cortes.

Outside of Central Florida, state Sens. Oscar Braynon, Anitere Flores and Jose Javier Rodriguez, and state Reps. Jose Oliva, Robert Asencio, Jose Felix Diaz, Jackie Toledo, Paul Renner, Julio Gonzalez, Matt Caldwell, Manny Diaz, Danny Burgess, Janet Cruz, and Daisy Baez.

The group is making connections with public and private entities from Florida to provide materials needed to achieve both short- and long-term infrastructure reconstruction, a press release from Plasencia and Cortes announced. The team will coordinate assistance for the delivery of disaster supplies to help speed up infrastructure repair and will help Puerto Ricans evacuating the island with issues like education, healthcare, documents and job placement.

FL2PR Response Team also will be assisting evacuees from Puerto Rico who are relocating to Florida by connecting citizens with agencies and private sector. This will include job placement opportunities with partners like NBC Universal, Disney, Sea World, and Walmart, as well as other organizations that will be joining the effort soon the release stated.

“All Americans, especially those of us with roots in Puerto Rico, are watching the devastation with broken hearts,” Cortes stated in the release. “If you have lost all your material possessions and your livelihood, political affiliation makes no difference to you. I’m honored to work with my colleagues from both sides of the aisle and these great corporate partners to help with this effort.”

“Since many Puerto Ricans already have family members in Florida, it makes sense that many will be looking to relocate here to rebuild their lives while the island’s infrastructure is literally being rebuilt,” Plasencia stated. “This effort represents an opportunity for Floridians to reach out in a very real way to offer a helping hand to our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico who are facing such huge challenges from Maria’s impact.”

Four Seminole County mayors endorse David Smith for HD 28

Republican David Smith announced Monday that he had landed endorsements from the mayors of four Seminole County cities for his House District 28 campaign.

Smith, who qualified for the ballot via petition last week, earned the support of Oviedo Mayor Dominic Persampiere, Winter Springs Mayor Charles Lacey, Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplett and Longwood Mayor Joe Durso.

“David has a reputation for honesty and integrity,” Persampiere said. “He has a proven track record of leadership and service from his 30-year career in the U.S. Marine Corps. I’m confident he will represent all the people of Seminole County to the very best of his ability.”

The other mayors also saluted Smith for his leadership, while Lacey and Triplett cited his conservative values in their statements of support. Durso hit the same notes, but also pointed to Smith’s community service as a deciding factor in his endorsement.

“David has worked hard to make our community a better place to live. His work with local Veterans has been especially noteworthy,” Durso said. “He has my full support.”

The four mayors join Seminole County Commissioner Bob Dallari, who announced he was backing Smith in March, shortly after he filed.

Smith said he was “humbled and proud” to get the mayors’ backing.

“Each of these gentlemen has a tremendous record of public service in Seminole County,” he said. “I look forward to working with all of them on key issues to make Central Florida a better place to live, work, get an education and raise a family.”

Smith is one of three candidates running for the seat, currently held by termed-out Republican Rep. Jason Brodeur. Casselberry Democrat Lee Mangold was the second-in, followed by Republican Christopher Anderson, who filed his paperwork in June.

Smith is far out front in fundraising. Through August, he had raised more than $120,000 and had about $105,000 on hand, though about half of that was his own money.

Mangold has raised about $13,000 since April, with $10,000 coming in through loans, while Anderson has brought in about $9,500.

Anna Eskamani adds two more influential endorsements

Democratic candidate for Florida House District 47 Anna Eskamani received the endorsements of two longtime Orange County School Board Members, just days before launching a door-to-door campaign to garner votes.

The political novice, who has raised more than $100,000 from 700 plus donors, added the endorsements of school board members, Daryl Flynn of District 2 and Kat Gordon of District 5. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, U.S. Rep. Darren Soto and State Sen. Victor Torres also endorsed Eskamani, senior director for Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida.

“I’ve always been impressed with Anna’s professionalism, strength of character and strong leadership ability,” Flynn said. “I’m confident she will listen closely to the constituents of District 47 and work hard to address their concerns in Tallahassee.”

A product of Orange County Public Schools, Eskamani attended Bonneville Elementary School, Corner Lake Middle School, and University High School. She has challenged HB 7069, an education bill that she claims gives charter schools an unfair advantage over traditional public schools.

“I am who I am today because of Orange County Public Schools,” Eskamani said. “I believe that all students have a right to a high-quality education that prepares them to succeed in a global economy. The endorsement and trust of school board members Daryl Flynn and Kat Gordon speaks volumes, and voters can count on me to protect our public schools while pushing back against a dangerous agenda designed to privatize our educational system while benefiting politicians.”

The 27-year-old candidate will host a Canvass Kickoff at 10 a.m. Saturday by knocking on doors throughout District 47.  The canvassing begins at CREDO Conduit, 1001 N. Orange Ave., Orlando.

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