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Stockton Reeves files reports on challenged campaign mailers

Republican House of Representatives candidate Stockton Reeves VI has filed new campaign finance reports showing expenses for campaign mailers that his primary opponent claimed he had not accounted for in the state House District 47 battle.

The filing, for Friday’s campaign finance reporting deadline, shows Reeves paying $66,952 to Strategic Image Management to cover consulting and mailers.

The report appears to negate the ethics complaint Republican candidate Mikaela Nix filed against Reeves earlier this week with the Florida Commission on Ethics, charging that Reeves was trying to hide expenses for at least 13 mailers that have gone out in the past couple of weeks, many of which attacked her directly.

Reeves maintained he did not get the invoices from the mailers until after the previous filing deadline, Aug. 10, and the expenses would show up in his next report. The filing Reeves sent in Friday shows the expenses being paid on Aug. 18.

The two are in a heated battle for Tuesday’s Republican primary nomination to run in HD 47. The winner takes on Democratic nominee Anna Eskamani.

Mikaela Nix gets Carlos López-Cantera’s backing in HD 47 primary

Republican Florida House candidate Mikaela Nix has been endorsed by Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos López-Cantera for House District 47, her campaign announced Thursday.

“I admire Mikaela because she has a passion for helping people and a love for the law,” said López-Cantera in a prepared statement. “There’s no doubt that she would be an effective leader for the citizens of District 47.”

Nix, a lawyer from Orlando, is battling with Winter Park businessman Stockton Reeves VI for next Tuesday’s Republican primary nomination. The winner takes on Democratic nominee Anna Eskamani to represent HD 47, covering north and central Orange County, including downtown Orlando. Incumbent state Rep. Mike Miller, a Winter Park Republican, is running for Congress.

“I am honored that the lieutenant governor reached out to me and volunteered his support,” Nix said. “I have worked hard to get to where I am today, and I am proud that it is recognized by leaders of our state.”

Chris King calls for ‘universal condemnation’ of Joel Greenberg remarks

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King called Thursday for his election rivals to join him in denouncing Islamaphobia and Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg for promoting it in social media.

King, the Winter Park businessman running, in most polls, fifth among five Democratic candidates heading toward Tuesday’s primary election, has turned his attention toward Greenberg this week while pushing his campaign theme of racial and ethnic equality.

Greenberg’s comments, King declared Thursday, “deserve our universal condemnation.”

Greenberg entered the sights of King’s themed campaign stretch-run message Saturday when he posted a comment on Facebook that many took as anti-Muslim, sarcastically contending that Muslims had contributed nothing to civilized societies. Greenberg then engaged in a Twitter storm Monday night defending it, while threatening and insulting others.

Greenberg, a Republican, has declined to comment about the matter to Florida Politics.

On Tuesday King and fellow Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum denounced Greenberg. On Wednesday King joined a protest rally outside Greenberg’s Lake Mary office.

The other Democratic candidates, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, and Palm Beach businessman Jeff Greene had not released any statements on Greenberg’s comments or Islamaphobia since the the matter broke.

Until now. Greene quickly joined King’s call Thursday.

“As we end one of the holiest weeks for Muslims across Florida, this moment demands more than just conventional politics – an apology isn’t enough. The Seminole County Tax Collector needs to resign and today I’m calling on my fellow #FLGov candidates to join my call,” King tweeted Thursday afternoon.

“I agree with @ChrisKingFL, and I’m joining him in calling for Joel Greenberg to resign,” Greene tweeted back a few minutes after King’s tweet.

King, who vowed Wednesday to complete his gubernatorial primary campaign by campaigning on racial justice issues, declared in a news release: “This moment demands more than just conventional politics from the political establishment, and I’m calling on my fellow candidates for governor to condemn these hateful comments and demand the Seminole County Tax Collector resign his office.”

Mikaela Nix files new ethics complaint against Stockton Reeves in HD 47 primary

Republican Mikaela Nix has filed an ethics complaint against Stockton Reeves VI, charging that he is hiding expenses in his campaign finance reports.

The two will face off in next Tuesday’s Republican primary for House District 47.

The complaint is the second filed against Reeves on Nix’ behalf. Earlier, it was from an Orange County Republican, who questioned where Reeves’ money was coming from, noting that he lent his campaign $90,000 last year but his personal financial disclosures did not show he had that much available in liquid assets.

Reeves has maintained he would clear that up with addendums, which he has not yet filed. He has until the end of the month.

The winner of Tuesday’s combustive primary battle will face Democratic nominee Anna Eskamani in the November election.

The new complaint charges that there appears to be no record in Reeves’ campaign finance filings to cover at least 13 campaign mailers Nix’ campaign says Reeves has sent in recent weeks to voters in Florida House District 47.

Reeves said all the appropriate invoices came in after the most recent filing deadline, and he has paid them, and they will be itemized in the next campaign finance report.

Reeves campaign expense reports through Aug. 10 show some small expenses for printing and postage but nothing that could cover wide distribution of mailers to Republican voters throughout HD 47, which covers north and central Orange County.

“It does not appear that the reported expenses include any amounts for any mailers — let alone 13,” Nix wrote in her ethics complaint.

Reeves replied by email that the mailers’ expenses will be appearing soon, because they were only just paid last Saturday, after the Aug. 10 campaign finance filings, the latest available through the Florida Division of Elections.

“Last Friday, I received 14 invoices from Strategic Image Management. On Saturday, I went down to my office, printed them out and took a check totaling almost $67,000 to the FedEx office on Fairbanks and sent that check to their office in Tampa for 2-day delivery,” Reeves wrote in a reply to Florida Politics. “They received it Tuesday.”

The mailers have themselves been an issue, in a campaign in which both Nix and Reeves have complained about the fairness and accuracy of content in mailers attacking them. Reeves’ mailers have included information about Nix’ voting record and about old criminal cases — which had been dropped, never litigated, and expunged — involving Nix as a young woman, stopped for shoplifting and driving offenses.

Attack mailers about Reeves were sent by the third-party political action committee Floridians for Fiscal Responsibility, which is run by Nix’ campaign consultant, John Dowless. They raised questions about his financial reports, and a previous ethics complaint sustained against him in a campaign in the 1990s.

Chris King still pushing ideas as campaign end appears to loom

Democrat Chris King started his run for Governor in his own back yard — literally — declaring he would run a race based on ideas and detailed plans for a progressive governorship.

On Wednesday, he came home where it started, back to the Hillcrest Hampton House Senior Center he owns in Orlando, still pushing those ideas.

“I promised that before this election was ended, I would come back around, and come back here,” King told a gathering of mostly senior citizen residents of the Hillcrest Hampton House. “We are just days away from a historic election, and I’m in a tough race. We’ve got, I’d say, billionaires and bazillionaires down south, we’ve got people with famous families.”

And they’ve got commanding leads over him.

All recent polls of the five-person Democratic primary race show that King’s campaign is the political equivalent of being at least two touchdowns behind with 20 seconds left on the clock. And though everyone knows it, there’s no acknowledgment that victory isn’t possible — because there’s always hope for a Hail Mary, an onside kick recovery, and another Hail Mary.

Still, there’s already talk of a game played right.

“But what I think has set us apart in this race and has made us special if you’ve followed it closely, is we are trying to bring the best ideas,” King told the seniors, ticking off a few, including his detailed plans for affordable housing, justice reform, free community college and trade schools, and environmental protection.

All recent polls have the Winter Park businessman, once seen as a viable candidate, running a distant fifth out of five Democrats, typically pulling only single-digit support, sometimes as high as 10, sometimes as low as 2. That, after 17 months of campaigning.

The race now appears to be either former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine‘s or former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham‘s to lose; with Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum making a late charge from well back, and Palm Beach businessman Jeff Greene is falling out of contention, but still staying ahead of King.

King said Wednesday he’s trying to close on ideas, specifically on his ideas for justice reform, civil rights and fairness, “and so I’m ending with taking on what I call institutional racism in the state of Florida, taking on laws and policies that are not fair for people based on the color of their skin or where they’re from.”

That has focused much of his activities over the past couple of weeks and into the next six days. Meeting with the family of slain “Stand Your Ground” victim Markeis McGlockton in Clearwater. Speaking before a Muslim conference in Orlando. Calling for removal of a Confederate monument in Walton County. Talking about the history of lynchings with the NAACP at “the hanging tree” in Hernando County. And joining a protest Wednesday outside the office of Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg, after his anti-Muslim social media comments.

“And it’s been so gratifying,” King added.

King also laid out some of the things he said made him an unusual candidate, and one elderly woman in the group called out: “You’re better looking!”

There’s always that.

Jason Brodeur and David Johnson declare, ‘I like Mike’ in CD 7 race

State Rep. Jason Brodeur and Seminole County Property Appraiser David Johnson both endorsed state Rep. Mike Miller in the bruising Republican primary for Florida’s 7th Congressional District, Miller’s campaign announced Wednesday.

The battle between Miller, Sanford businessman Scott Sturgill and a third Republican, Vennia Francois, is for the chance to flip the district back to red, most likely against the incumbent, Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park. Murphy, though, has her own primary challenge Tuesday from Chardo Richardson.

Most Republican lawmakers whose districts overlap into CD 7 have not picked a favorite in the primary. State Rep. Rene Plasencia, now in House District 50, but previously in House District 49 which overlaps heavily with CD 7, endorsed Miller early on.

The district covers Seminole County and north and central Orange County, including downtown Orlando.

“This seat is so important to Seminole County,” Brodeur stated. “We need a congressman who will represent our values. We need the candidate with the best shot of beating Stephanie Murphy in November, and Republicans need to know that is Mike Miller.”

Johnson’s endorsement joins those of Seminole County Commissioners Bob Dallari, Carlton Henley, and John Horan, among Seminole officials backing Miller [who is actually from Orange County, in Winter Park].

“Mike Miller is the best choice to represent Seminole County in Congress,” Johnson stated. “Securing our borders, fighting for a balanced budget, and protecting our tax cuts, should be our top priorities. I know Mike and trust he will represent Seminole County well.”

Bikers for Trump back Scott Sturgill

Scott Sturgill has picked up support from the group Boots on the Ground Bikers for Trump in his quest to be elected to Congress in Florida’s 7th Congressional District.

The endorsement, announced Tuesday morning by Sturgill’s campaign, comes a week out from a contentious Republican primary battle with state Rep. Mike Miller of Winter Park, which the latest poll shows going Miller’s way.

Sturgill, of Sanford, and a third Republican candidate, Vennia Francois of Orlando, are facing an Aug. 28 showdown to see who will be the Republican nominee, presumably to challenge Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy.

The bikers group and the Trump focus give Sturgill a couple more advantages heading into a primary where support for President Donald  Trump is expected to be on the minds of many Republican voters, especially with the ballot topped by a contest between Trump’s chosen one, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. Plus, the appeal of bikers in a society seeking rebellion.

President of Boots on the Ground Bikers for Trump George Colella applauded Sturgill, saying he received the endorsement because he is “a strong supporter of the president, our Constitution and especially the 2nd Amendment.”

In tweet storm, Joel Greenberg goes after critics with threats, insults

In a late-night tweet storm Monday, controversial Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg threatened and insulted critics who were taking issue with an Islamaphobic comment he made in a social media post over the weekend.

Specifically, Greenberg, a Republican, went after Florida House District 47 Democratic candidate Anna Eskamani, who is an Iranian-American, and Ben Friedman, the director of community relations for the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando, among others.

Greenberg declined Tuesday morning to comment about the tweets.

Meanwhile, the chorus of people — Democrats so far — calling for Greenberg to resign continues to increase, with Democratic gubernatorial candidates Chris King of Winter Park and Andrew Gillum of Tallahassee adding their calls Tuesday to those of the Seminole and Orange County Democratic parties and others.

Eskamani called for Greenberg to resign after his posts over the weekend.

Friedman criticized Greenberg in an op-ed he wrote for the Orlando Sentinel, published over the weekend online and Tuesday morning in the newspaper.

“When are you going to resign?” Eskamani asked Greenberg Monday evening in a tweet.

“Never. As a matter of fact, I will be donating $200,000 to your opponent. #maga @FloridaGOP #sayfie,” Greenberg replied

Then Eskamani asked, “Is that before or after you resign?”

“You truly are a novice,” Greenberg tweeted back. “You mistake excitement for intelligence. Now it’s $250,000. Each time you talk it goes up another $25,000.”

“The only person who made a mistake here is you, Joel & you can’t bully anyone into silence, especially not me. I have a lot of empathy, even for folks I disagree with. I have to hope that there is “some” reason you feel the way you do, & maybe w/time we can figure that out,” Eskamani replied.

“Welcome to the jungle,” Greenberg tweeted back. “You swung and missed. There are political ramifications for that. You realize I’m sitting on $50,000,000. Big mistake.”

That was an apparent reference to his or his family’s wealth through the family company’s chain of dental clinics, Greenberg Dental.

Those exchanges were among many that went into a long thread of tweets last night, during which Greenberg also told another critic, “Bite me.”

When Friedman weighed in, about Greenberg’s claim to be “sitting on” $50 million, and asked, in a tweet, “You made a chair out of money?”, Greenberg replied:

“You know exactly what the deal is, you traitor. You are a slob and I’ll get to you eventually.”

Friedman’s reply in a statement to Florida Politics: “Maybe he feels entitled to our support because he’s from a wealthy Jewish family, but our values are not for sale.”

It all began Saturday when Greenberg put on Facebook: “Very simple question … name just ONE society in the civilized world that has benefitted in any way from the introduction of more Muslims. Just one. Asking for a friend.”

That post was taken down. Monday night someone said Greenberg took it down and he replied:

“I didn’t delete it, moron. FB took it down.”

Commercial real estate developers back Jerry Demings in mayor’s race

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings, the only Democrat running in the Orange County mayor’s race, has the backing of commercial real estate developers’ trade organization, his campaign announced.

The NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association, has endorsed Demings in the three-way race for Orange County mayor.

The group, with 19,000 members, is the leading organization for developers, owners, and investors of office, industrial, retiall, and mixed-use real-estate, Demings campaign noted

Though the mayor’s office and election are non-partisan, Demings took the developers’ backing from his two opponents who both are Republican, Winter Park businessman Rob Panepinto and Orange County Commissioner Pete Clarke. All three have been running on a pro-smart growth platform, promoting in-fill development over sprawl.

“We are honored to add NAIOP to the many organizations that believe Jerry Demings is the right person to be the next mayor,” Demings campaign stated in a news release issued by his campaign.

Poll: Mike Miller with strong lead in CD 7 Republican primary

State Rep. Mike Miller has a solid lead over rival Scott Sturgill and another Republican heading into the Aug. 28 primary to run in Florida’s 7th Congressional District, a new poll shows.

The St. Pete Polls survey shows Miller atop that field with 42 percent support, compared with 26 percent for Sturgill and 8 percent for Vennia Francois. Another 24 percent said they were undecided.

The survey, the first publicly released poll in the race, shows that Miller is coasting overall.

Among the 36 percent of Republicans who said they already voted, Miller’s lead over Sturgill expands to 50-30 percent with 12 percent favoring Francois. Among the 64 percent of voters who said they planned to vote but haven’t yet, Miller leads with 39 percent to Sturgill’s 25 percent, while Francois’ share is halved to 6 percent.

Three in ten Republicans who haven’t voted said they were undecided.

Broken down by gender, Miller leads among men with 46 percent support and among women with 41 percent support. Sturgill placed second with 26 percent and 27 percent, respectively, while Francois remained in the high single digits among both genders.

MIller, of Winter Park, and Sturgill, a Sanford businessman, have been battling in a vicious primary campaign that has seen much of Seminole County leaning Sturgill’s way and much of Orange County siding with Miller in straw polls.

Sturgill may be able to take a bite out of his deficit in the final days of the race thanks to an endorsement from Bikers for Trump that his campaign rolled out Tuesday. Bikers for Trump president George Colella the group picked Sturgill in the three-way race because he is “a strong supporter of the President, our Constitution and especially the Second Amendment.”

Last month, Miller called into question Sturgill’s Second Amendment bona fides with a website attacking him for backing gun control measures as well as his support for expanding Obamacare and his stance on immigration.

Whomever emerges from the Republican nominating contest is expecting to take on Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy in November, though she has a Democratic primary challenge first from Chardo Richardson.

CD 7 covers all of Seminole plus north and central Orange County, including downtown Orlando and the neighborhood surrounding it, then stretching down to the south suburbs of Edgewood and Belle Isle.

The automated telephone poll was taken Monday of 321 registered Republicans who did not say they were not voting in the primary. The poll reports a margin of error of 5.5 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.

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