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Jeff Brandes is sitting on a gold mine compared to challenger, Lindsay Cross

State Senator Jeff Brandes continues to grow his fundraising lead over his Democratic challenger Lindsay Cross, making the already steep climb even more treacherous. Between his campaign and an affiliated political committee, Brandes has raised more than $2 million to keep his seat.

Cross has raised just $156,000 and does not have a political committee.

Brandes’ political might and well-connected stature in political circles are clear in his continued campaign hauls.

Brandes’ political committee raised $13,500 this report including $5,000 from the medical marijuana company Surterra, $5,000 from the Florida Association of Insurance Agents, $2500 from Florida Right Solutions, a political action committee chaired by conservative strategist Marc Reichelderfer and $1000 from the skin care practice Dermazone Solutions.

Brandes raised more than $40,000 for his campaign fund from Sept. 29 through Oct. 5, the most recent campaign reports available. That includes a $27,000 in-kind contribution from the Florida Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Major donors included Surterra, Realtor’s Political Advocacy Committee, the People’s Trust PAC, Johnson & Blanton, Johnson & Associates, Florida Right Solutions, Florida Home Builders Association ION PAC, Duke Energy PAC, Covanta Energy, and American Fire Sprinkler Association.

Brandes brought in just five contributions from donors in the Tampa Bay region.

Not including in-kind contributions, Brandes brought in 17 individual contributions averaging $824 each. The maximum contribution allowable is $1,000.

Cross raised $17,000 during the latest reporting period from 101 individual contributions averaging $168 each. She received five out-of-state contributions from Elizabeth Williams in New Mexico, Elizabeth Lyman in Maine, Jill Cranberry in Colorado, Megan Caroll in California and Joy Bartholomew in Maryland.

Brandes’ spending slowed down this month. He doled out $4,800 including $3,500 to Political Capital for consulting services and $1,100 to Extensive Enterprises for advertising. Extensive Enterprises publishes this website.

Meanwhile, Cross hasn’t spent anything recently. Since the inception of her campaign, Cross paid $20,000 to Washington D.C.-based 76 Words for media buys and $6,300 to Resonance Campaigns, a Democratic digital media firm.

She’s spent a total of $36,000 to date.

Cross entered the race at a disadvantage. She replaced Carrie Pilon after the former candidate bowed out due to sudden health issues arose with a family member. That gave Cross a late start in the campaign.

Despite being the fundraising underdog, the Cross campaign is hitting the campaign trail with ferocity. The team is spreading a message based on environmental policy, education reform that does not prioritize school choice programs, transportation and health care, among others. She said her message is resonating with voters thirst for a change in Tallahassee.

Kathleen Peters endorses Ray Blacklidge as her successor

State Rep. Kathleen Peters is endorsing Ray Blacklidge as her successor in House District 69, Blacklidge announced Monday.

Peters and Blacklidge are both Republicans. Blacklidge is running against Democrat Jennifer Webb for the seat covering west St. Petersburg and parts of mid-west Pinellas County.

Peters is not seeking re-election because she’s running for Pinellas County Commission to replace the late John Morroni who lost a long battle with cancer earlier this year.

“Ray Blacklidge is a solid leader I’m proud to endorse,” said Peters. “His background in the private sector and strong history of service to our community make him perfectly poised to be an effective voice for Pinellas County in Tallahassee. I am confident that he will serve us well, carry on my political agenda, and I urge all District 69 voters to support him.”

Blacklidge is an insurance industry executive and attorney who is running on a conservative platform that aligns with much of what Peters championed in her six years serving in the Florida Legislature.

Peters pushed a pro-business agenda in the house and supported school choice programs in K-12 education — both platforms Blacklidge supports.

However, Peters also brought some bipartisan priorities to the House including her stalwart efforts to increase mental health access to residents. Blacklidge says he supports mental health reform, particularly as it related to school safety.

During a recent campaign forum, Blacklidge said the answer to thwarting rampant school shootings was to increase mental health access, not by increasing gun regulation.

“I’m honored to have Representative Peters’s support,” Blacklidge said. “She has been an effective legislator for our area, and I look forward to continuing to work with her to provide our communities with effective and responsive representation.”

Peters’ district is a mostly even split between Democrats and Republicans. Republicans make up 36 percent of the district while Democrats account for 35 percent. Independents and other minor parties account for 29 percent of the district.

The district voted plus-3 for Donald Trump in 2016.

A recent poll has Webb leading Blacklidge by 15 points.

David Straz comes out with four early endorsements for Tampa Mayor

Tampa philanthropist David Straz nabbed four endorsements from a business group and three workers unions, the Tampa Mayoral candidate announced Monday.

The Northwest Florida Chapter of Black Women in Construction, United Food and Commercial Workers 1625, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 487, District 925 and Plumbers and Pipefitters Local Union 123 have all offered their nod to Straz, whose name graces downtown Tampa’s performing arts center.

“I’ve been meeting with groups across the city, and I’m humbled to receive the early endorsements of these organizations,” Straz said. “When I meet with these groups, I speak from the heart about my desire to make Tampa a better, stronger place to live, start and run a business and raise a family.”

The four groups cited Straz’s work ethic and character as two of the defining reasons they chose to back him in the crowded mayor’s race.

“David Straz has a commitment to the people of Tampa that is unsurpassed and inspiring. Job creation and growth along with citywide improvements in areas where the residents need it most are a few of the priorities David communicated to us. We feel that David Straz has the experience, work ethic and vision needed to move Tampa forward,” said Todd Vega, business manager of Plumbers & Pipefitters Local Union 123.

Straz has poured more than $1.5 million into his own campaign coffers and has spent a decent chunk of that on television ad buys introducing himself to voters as more than just a philanthropist.

The introduction to voters on issues will be a crucial endeavor for Straz who admittedly voted for Donald Trump in 2016.

The city of Tampa has historically favored Democratic mayoral candidates. Straz joined the Democratic Party in late April after announcing he was running to succeed incumbent Mayor Bob Buckhorn. He’s also since said he regrets voting for Trump and would not do so again.

Former Hillsborough Democratic Party Executive Director Mark Hanisee is running Straz’s campaign. Hanisee left his post with the local party to take the job with Straz.

Though Hanisee is a well known skilled fundraiser — he started with the Hillsborough party to raise funds after being voted out of office in Pinellas County — Straz has said he won’t accept contributions more than $500. As of the most recent campaign finance filings, Straz has held true to that promise.

Straz prides himself as a “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” sort of candidate having built his fortune in the banking industry.

“We know David Straz will be a tremendous leader and steward of the working class. We offer our full endorsement and support to David Straz because of his honest character and incredible vision for the City of Tampa,” said Jim Junecko, business agent for IUOE Local 487.

At age 75, Straz also lacks the future political ambition other younger candidates in the race might have.

“We were very impressed with David Straz because he loves the City of Tampa and is not using the mayor’s office as a steppingstone to higher office,” Ed Chambers, president of UFCW Local 1625 said.

Straz will take on former Tampa Chief of Police Jane Castor, Tampa City Council members Harry Cohen and Mike Suarez, former Hillsborough County Commissioner Ed Turanchik, small business coach Topher Morrison and community activist LaVaughn King.

Dana Young bets on personal touch to keep swing seat

A steep staircase leads to Dana Young’s quaint Hyde Park campaign office. The space isn’t striking, but it doesn’t need to be.

She points out that call station cubicles had been installed by the previous tenant, an added bonus for the temporary investment.

Young, a Republican state Senator seeking re-election in 2018, says she wasn’t expecting a challenge from Janet Cruz, her Democratic opponent who’s helmed nearby state House districts for the past eight years.

It’s a surprising but familiar political trial for Young. She says she’s well-equipped to do the same thing she did two years ago, when she carried the swing seat by nearly seven points while Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton finished plus-five in the same area.

How’s that? By walking and talking to voters, one door at a time.

After crowding around a conference table, volunteers and campaign staffers split ways to canvass different parts of Senate District 18, which reaches from South Tampa’s peninsula to the northern border of Hillsborough County.

It’s Saturday morning, and the cool October weather is a reprieve for the team that’s been knocking on doors since May. Young — who grew up hunting and fishing and displays a tournament-winning tarpon in her Capitol office — leads a small convoy in a doorless Jeep Wrangler to Davis Islands. 

As its name suggests, the affluent neighborhood is surrounded by Bay waters, bordered on one side by the mouth of the Hillsborough River. A sea green shine is visible through some of the large-paned homes lining the water.

Young is joined by her political director, Nick Alvarez, and fellow state Sen. Travis Hutson, the latest cameo from the Republican-controlled upper chamber. Last week, retiring state Sen. René García accompanied Young on the trail. Incoming Senate President Bill Galvano is a frequent companion. The list goes on. 

“They do it on their own time,” Young says of her Senate colleagues. “We’re all very close.”

Alvarez, who’s fluent in Spanish, is using an app called CampaignSidekick. Fueled by Census and voter registration information, the tool allows campaigns to record information on voters at different addresses. They’ve already canvassed the area, but now Young is circling back to remind some voters to return their mail-in, or absentee, ballots. She calls it the “A-B chase.”

“It’s very targeted,” Alvarez says of the technology, but there’s room for “soft” Democrats. “If we have information that someone is an older Hispanic Democrat that may have just registered Democrat — just because, which happens — we might target them.”

Young and company are keenly aware of the district’s demographics. Twenty-eight percent of the voting age is Hispanic, and registered Democrats outnumber Republicans. There’s a Spanish-speaking team, and plenty of bilingual volunteers and staffers to help convey the campaign’s platform, Young says.

Alvarez points out that the Spanish speakers on staff have been invited in homes to share cafecito with voters. Young admits she isn’t fluent but knows enough to introduce herself.

Alvarez suggests Young should hit the houses with more cars in the driveway. Her average time spent at the door is much higher than the typical two-minute-long interaction shared by volunteers and staffers.

“People take a lot of time to research candidates,” Young says. “They vote for the person more than the party, and so I’ve spent a lot of time getting to know my voters.”

Roughly 20 percent of doors knocked results in an answer, she notes, but it adds up in the long run. The campaign has knocked on north of 110,000 doors. By the day’s end another 1370 would be recorded, with Young personally clocking seven miles.

Those who do answer typically recognize Young immediately, sharing words of encouragement for her campaign. When a small group canvassing for Republicans at the top of the ticket stops to say hello, Young poses for a quick selfie. It’s important to run your own race, Young says, though she’s firmly backing the party’s choices for statewide offices and the U.S. Senate.

Soon afterward, two men operating a car-detailing service beckon Young over. One says he’s seen her commericals and thinks she’s the “right woman for the job.” He’s from the Bahamas and lives in Ybor. Unfortunately, that’s outside my district, Young tells him. Still, they swap business cards as he offers her good luck in the race. 

Almost every interaction is a warm welcome in Davis Islands in part because of the targeting technology, but there are outliers.

One man answers and immediately asks Young why she left the Senate chamber ahead of a vote on an assault weapons ban amendment during a rare Saturday session earlier this year. He’s referencing deliberation over the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Act, spawned after the Parkland school shooting in February. Young’s brief absence has served as fodder for Cruz’ campaign. 

Young, who holds a law degree from the University of Virginia, embraces the conflict. She explains to her adversary that she had a legitimate reason to leave the floor and was gone for longer than 45 minutes. She tells him she voted in favor of the complete bill — which resulted in significant changes to the state’s gun laws — and that Cruz hadn’t because the bill didn’t provide enough gun control.

Young, who during college had interned for a Democratic congressman, opts to continue to talk to the man, who identified himself as a registered Democrat, for nearly 15 minutes. It wasn’t until she attended one of former President Ronald Reagan‘s State of the Union addresses that she made the switch to Republican.

She describes the transition as “the first exercise of true political free will,” especially after growing up in Leon County in a Democratic household. (She attended high school with former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham and was close friends then with Graham’s younger sister, Cissy.)

The Democrat at the door eventually warms up to Young and they begin sharing their thoughts on the issues the day. The conversation ranges from the environment to education to local tax initiatives, while the tone shifts from hostile to friendly. The exchange ends with a promise to reconsider the candidates — even an offer of water to help fend off the impending afternoon heat.

“That’s a vote that I’ll probably get,” reflects Young, smiling, as she makes her way to the next house.

Poll: Hillsborough transportation initiative poised to pass

Good news for All For Transportation: Hillsborough County’s transportation initiative should pass if the latest polling holds true.

In a St. Pete Polls survey, 48 percent of respondents said they would or have already voted yes on the All For Transportation referendum. Only 43 percent indicated they would or have already voted no.

The transportation initiative is Hillsborough County Referendum No. 2 on the Nov. 6 ballot. Mail-in ballots have already gone out to voters. The initiative would raise sales tax 1 percent to fund both transit and transportation improvements, county-wide.

Of those survey respondents who said they had already voted, 55 percent voted ‘yes’ on the transportation referendum while nearly 42 percent voted no.

Among those who still plan to vote, 45 percent said they would vote yes while 44 percent would vote no.

The issue is perhaps unsurprisingly enjoying more support from Democrats than Republicans. Of the 447 Democrats, 57 percent support the transportation referendum. Among the 388 Republican respondents, that number plummets to 38 percent.

The survey results come as the Tampa firefighters union endorsed the referendum because they say it would increase public safety.

The St. Pete Polls survey included 1,095 responses from likely voters in Hillsborough County. Respondents were selected at random. Those who said they weren’t planning to vote were not included in results. The survey has a 3 percentage point margin of error.

The survey also included another sales tax issue on the November ballot. The one half percent sales tax increase for the Hillsborough County Schools District shows overwhelming support.

Overall, 55 percent said they would vote in favor of the referendum, which would authorize the additional tax for ten years. Only 40 percent said they would or already had voted no.

The margin is even wider among those who already voted by mail. Of those, 61 percent voted yes and just 37 percent voted no.

Like the transportation referendum, support is more widespread among Democrats than Republicans with 66 percent of Democrats approving and 29 percent disapproving. Republicans favor the plan 40 percent while 53 percent reject the plan.

Harry Barkett, Jeff Vinik hosting Dana Young fundraiser Tuesday

Amalie Oil Co. exec Harry Barkett and Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik will help boost Republican state Sen. Dana Young’s re-election bid with a fundraising reception in Tampa this week.

The Tuesday evening event will be held at the home of Barkett and his wife, Carmen, while Vinik’s wife, Penny, is also listed on the host committee. Supporters interested in attending the event, slated to run from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., can RSVP with Kristin Lamb by emailing Kristin@FLFStrategies.com or calling 850-339-5354.

Young was elected to Senate District 18 in 2016, but due to Florida courts approving new maps for the Florida Senate she and other Senators in even-numbered districts were only elected to two-year terms.

She is facing a tough challenge from House Minority Leader Janet Cruz, who shelved her Hillsborough County Commission bid to enter the Senate race in mid-April. The most recent poll of the race shows Cruz with a slim advantage in the northwestern Hillsborough district, which covers much of Tampa. Prior polls have shown the two women jockeying in the purple district.

The Florida Democratic Party sees SD 18 as one of its top targets for a flip. Other than South Florida’s SD 36, where David Perez won the Democratic primary to challenge Republican state Rep. Manny Diaz, SD 18 is the only district Democrats are after that voted for Hillary Clinton two years ago.

Young has vastly outraised Cruz, however, and the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, the PAC chaired by incoming Senate President Bill Galvano, has much deeper pockets than the equivalent fundraising arm supporting Democratic state Senate campaigns.

As of Oct. 5, Cruz had raised about $934,000 between her campaign account and affiliated political committee, Building the Bay PC, with about $115,000 of that cash banked due to a spree of media buys and contributions to the Florida Democratic Party, which has provided her campaign with a large amount of “in-kind” support.

Young has amassed $870,000 in hard money and still has $600,000 of that money in the bank. Young formed her PAC, Friends of Dana Young, well before the 2018 election cycle, but had another $600,000 in that account at the end of the early October reporting period. Like her opponent, much of her committee cash has been funneled to the FRSCC.

The fundraiser invitation is below.

Dana Young Fundraiser 10.16.2018

Businesses band together against offshore drilling

The Florida Gulf Coast Business Coalition is officially launching an alliance of coastal business owners and leaders opposed to offshore drilling off Florida’s Gulf Coast. The group of businesses is formally announcing its partnership on October 16 at 10:30 a.m. at the Tradewinds Island Grand Resort on St. Pete Beach.

The Coalition represents more than 2,000 businesses, chambers of commerce and other associations. The group hopes to create a unified voice against any new drilling in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico and works to ensure no existing drilling moves any further inland.

U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist is expected to speak at the group’s announcement. Robin Miller, president and CEO of the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce, and Clearwater Marine Aquarium CEO David Yates will also speak.

Efforts under the Trump administration to expand offshore drilling threaten more than 300,000 jobs and $17.5 billion in gross domestic product associated with Florida’s Gulf Coast Fishing, tourism and recreation, according to the Coalition.

The Trump administration announced earlier this year its plans to open almost all U.S. waters to offshore drilling. The Department of the Interior’s a draft five-year program for oil and gas development on the Outer Continental Shelf, the agency proposed the largest number of potential offshore lease sales ever, the Coalition said.

The group’s members include businesses and advocacy groups from the entire Gulf Coast.

The announcement comes as Gulf Coast businesses battle a different problem — red tide. Statewide efforts are ongoing to mitigate the effects of this year’s algae bloom, which has been one of the worst in recent history. Fish kills and toxins in the air are keeping visitors away from beaches and nearby businesses.

The state of Florida allocated $3 million for businesses affected by red tide and the federal government made small business loans available to help them recover. Researchers are also continuing work trying to understand why red tide occurs and how to prevent or mitigate it.

Shadowy group attacking Jennifer Webb in HD 69 race

A mysterious political committee has released an attack ad condemning Jennifer Webb, the Democratic candidate for Florida House District 69, for taking contributions from special interest groups, political insiders and lobbyists.

The Venice-based Citizens for Florida Prosperity Political Committee paid for the ad — not Webb’s opponent, Ray Blacklidge. It’s chaired by a Katie Morris of Quincy, who couldn’t be reached. 

Webb and Blacklidge are running to replace Republican Kathleen Peters, who is leaving state office to run for the Pinellas County Commission. She leads Blacklidge by double digits, according to a recent poll. 

The ad is absent specifics, but an on-screen visual, while a narrator talks about Webb accepting special interest funding, shows a figure growing to $100,000.

That number is not correct, according to the most up-to-date data in the Florida Division of Elections’ campaign finance database.

Webb’s political action committee, Putting Community First, has raised less than $30,000. Of that, about $9,000 is from lobbyists, outside groups or special interests.

Webb’s campaign has raised $267,000 through more than 1,400 contributions. The average amount of those contributions is less than $200 and the majority come from local donors.

Lobbyists, political interest group and political committees accounted for less than $60,000 in Webb’s campaign fund. Altogether, that’s less than $70,000. (Those figures were also calculated liberally by including local companies that many might not consider special interest groups.)

Blacklidge is filling his campaign and political committee coffers with generous donations from the insurance industry and Tallahassee insiders.

Of the $60,000 in Blacklidge’s political committee, more than $45,000 came from insurance-related businesses and groups. No surprise there, as Blacklidge is an insurance executive and lawyer who has an ownership stake and is a board member in one of his campaign’s largest donors, the Jerger family of companies, according to his own campaign bio on Facebook.

Blacklidge’s campaign fund has raised $275,685 with an average donation of $726 from less than 400 donors. Of that, more than $50,000 is from the insurance industry.

During a recent campaign forum moderated by this reporter, Blacklidge said he would not participate in any negative campaigning. Though he did not approve the ad’s content, he also declined to comment on it.

In fact, Blacklidge was initially unaware of the ad. Florida Politics provided him with a recording of the ad as well as campaign finance documents showing that the fundraising figures represented in it were inaccurate.

In an email after reviewing those items, Blacklidge said, “I really can’t say anything about something I have not approved or have any control over.”

The ad goes on to accuse Webb of accepting donations from groups that “tried to stop pay increases for teachers, pushed policies that would enrich health care corporations at the expense of consumers and supported job-killing regulations for small businesses.”

It added, “not to mention the fat government contracts at taxpayers’ expense.” The ad did not offer references for those claims.

Florida Politics tried to reach the Citizens for Florida Prosperity group at the only number listed in public documents. That number went to the CPA firm that the committee’s registered agent, Eric Robinson, works for.

Robinson is a Sarasota County School Board member and prominent member of the GOP who frequently runs or serves as treasurer for GOP political committees.

He came under fire earlier this year after investigators discovered Robinson had fallen victim to Nigerian scammers who talked him out of about $120,000 from Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry’s PAC, which he ran.

The Webb attack ad ends by cautioning voters not “to get caught in the Jennifer web,” a play on words based on the candidate’s last name.

Ready for business: Charlie Crist opening campaign HQ

Congressman Charlie Crist is launching his official re-election campaign Saturday, and he’s opening a new campaign headquarters at 10 a.m. 

The office is located at 5100 First Avenue North, St. Petersburg.

After the opening, the campaign is hosting a canvassing event with volunteers to knock on doors to help get out the vote in Pinellas County.

At 2 p.m. Crist will host his 2nd Annual Community Block Party and BBQ at Dell Holmes Park with food and games for families.

The campaign will also collect canned goods for Feeding Tampa Bay to help Floridians affected by Hurricane Michael.

Crist is a Democrat representing Florida’s Congressional District 13 covering parts of St. Pete, Seminole and mid-Pinellas. He’s running against Republican George Buck, a retired academic and firefighter.

Buck is facing a tough climb against Crist who is a seasoned campaigner and skilled fundraiser. Crist has raised more than $3 million and has more than $2 million on hand. Buck has raised less than $20,000 and has less than $2,000 on hand.

The district leans slightly Democratic after redistricting shifted boundaries to include downtown St. Pete. Crist defeated former Congressman David Jolly, then a Republican, by just three points in 2014.

Crist and his predecessor have something in common — they both dumped the GOP. Jolly announced earlier this month he had changed his party affiliation from Republican to no party affiliation.

Crist formerly served as Governor as a Republican but switched to a Democrat after leaving office. He wrote a book about his transition called “The Party’s Over.”

The congressman has been spending a lot of his time before officially launching his campaign attending events supporting Andrew Gillum for Florida Governor and Tampa Bay area Democratic state candidates.

There hasn’t been any polling on the Crist-Buck matchup, but long before campaigning for the midterms began a poll showed Crist beating Jolly in a rematch and Jolly has much broader name recognition and fundraising prowess than Buck.

Jeff Vinik personally endorses Hillsborough transportation initiative

Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik took a rare step into the public and political spotlight Friday.

He penned an op-ed in the Tampa Bay Times urging voters to approve Hillsborough County Referendum No. 2, the county’s transportation and transit initiative on the Nov. 6 ballot.

“Having studied this issue for over three years alongside fellow business and community leaders, I realized this might be our best shot,” Vinik wrote.

“Our best shot to reduce traffic and give people more time with their families. Our best shot to prevent tragic bike and pedestrian fatalities. Our best shot to expand our transit network. Our best shot to invest in ourselves and our future.”

The All For Transit Referendum would increase Hillsborough County sales tax 1 percent from 7 to 8 percent. It would raise $230 million a year — $9 billion over 30 years — for both transit and transportation projects.

“It was balanced and pragmatic: road improvements, congestion reduction, pedestrian and bike safety, transit options and technology upgrades like traffic-light timing,” he wrote. “All of this to serve the entirety of Hillsborough County, so every single citizen in every single neighborhood will benefit.”

The citizen-led group that authored the referendum and gathered more than 50,000 voter signatures to put it on the ballot, made sure this effort differed from failed referendum attempts.

The 2010 Moving Hillsborough Forward measure failed and suffered criticism from detractors that it lacked detail and was too transit heavy.

The similar was true for Pinellas County’s 2014 Greenlight Pinellas initiative. That plan focused on a light rail route connecting St. Petersburg, mid-Pinellas and Clearwater. It would have also funded enhanced bus service and new buses.

But voters in parts of the county that don’t tend to use transit didn’t see the value in using their tax dollars to fund service in other areas.

The latest effort tackles all of those problems. It includes a detailed framework for how the money can be spent. A little less than 55 percent would go to the cities of Tampa, Temple Terrace and Plant City as well as Hillsborough County to fund much-needed road resurfacing, pothole repair, traffic congestion relief and other road projects.

The rest, 45 percent, would go to the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit authority for transit enhancements.

But the language is vague enough that individual communities can use the revenue in ways that best suit their needs.

Vinik also weighed in on the potential return on investment that comes when a community has a quality transportation and transit network.

“This dividend comes in the form of shorter commute times, filled potholes, greater access to jobs, wider mobility options including transit, and safer streets for everyone. This plan would deliver all that in addition to helping grow our economy and preparing Hillsborough for the 700,000 new neighbors we will meet in the coming years. It is a local investment that can only be spent within Hillsborough County, yet every visitor to our county will help pay for it.”

Vinik joins a growing list of groups and individuals endorsing the All for Transportation plan. The list includes The Tampa Bay Times, La Gaceta, Visit Tampa Bay, Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, South Tampa Chamber of Commerce and Upper Tampa Bay Chamber of Commerce.

His support is not a surprise: Vinik has personally, and through his companies, given hundreds of thousands of dollars to the initiative since it launched.

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