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Tampa’s Joe Redner wins ‘home grow’ marijuana suit

A Tallahassee judge has ruled in favor of Tampa strip club mogul Joe Redner in his fight against the state to grow and make juice out of his own medical marijuana.

Circuit Judge Karen Gievers‘ order was released Wednesday. The state immediately filed a notice of appeal to the 1st District Court of Appeal. The notice said it would “automatically operate as a stay (that is, a delay of the effect of the order,) pending appellate review.”

Gievers had ruled last year that Redner, a lung cancer survivor, has a constitutional right as a “qualifying patient” to possess a live cannabis plant.

In Wednesday’s ruling, she wrote that her decision was supported by the “clear language” of the state constitutional amendment OK’d by voters in 2016, and the “lack of any credible evidence” to the contrary.

Her order allows Redner to “possess, grow and use marijuana,” but only for “juicing,” the form that Redner’s doctors have told him will work best to keep his cancer in remission. He can’t use more than eight ounces daily, she added.

Further, it’s not clear from the order whether her holding is limited to Redner, or applies to all medical marijuana patients in the state.

“The constitution says what it says, and the judge recognized that,” Redner said in a statement. “I’ve been saying all along: The Department of Health and the Legislature can’t take away the rights that the constitution gives you.”

Gievers wrote that the amendment gives the state’s medical marijuana regulators “no authority by which it may limit routes of administration for a qualifying patients to administer medical marijuana,” and said the Department of Health “has no authority to modify the rights of patients that Floridians have chosen to place” in the state’s governing document.

That’s the crux of another suit in Leon County, brought by Orlando attorney and entrepreneur John Morgan, who financially backed the marijuana amendment’s passage. He wants medical marijuana patients to be allowed to smoke the drug; the state now prohibits the smoking of medicinal cannabis. Gievers is also the judge on that case.

The judge also slammed the Florida Department of Health, which regulates medicinal pot through its Office of Medical Marijuana Use, for being “non-compliant” with the requirements of the amendment.

“We have appealed the judge’s ruling. Her order has been stayed. We will continue to work to implement the law so Florida patients can have safe access to this medicine,” said Devin Galetta, a spokesman for the department, in an email.

“I filed this lawsuit because I couldn’t have survived cancer without medical marijuana. It’s not just a miracle drug—it’s a miracle plant, and the State keeps standing in the way of patients getting their medicine,” Redner said Wednesday.

“…A mom who’s using low THC cannabis to control her child’s seizures can stick a plant in the ground and make her baby’s medicine for around 30 bucks a month if she can grow her own,” he added. “And 71 percent of us voted for an amendment that clearly gives her that right. This ruling is a victory for the patients of Florida.”

Redner is a stage 4 lung cancer patient, initially diagnosed in 2011. He became of one of the first people in Florida to challenge the state’s medical marijuana laws in June after state lawmakers implemented the 2016 constitutional amendment into law.

Redner, a multimillionaire, has said that he filed the lawsuit because “many patients don’t have enough money to pay for their medicine, let alone a lawsuit.”

“I filed this lawsuit because I couldn’t have survived cancer without medical marijuana,” he said in a statement last year. “I am a raw vegan, and I want to juice my own raw cannabis to protect my health. The only way to do that is to grow my own cannabis.”

In a separate statement Wednesday, CEO Kim Rivers of medical marijuana provider Trulieve said the company is prepared for the new business.

“Trulieve is committed to expanding patient access across Florida and, in anticipation of this court decision, we sought state approval to provide this patient — and others like him — with the medical marijuana his doctor prescribed. (We) stand ready to dispense it once authorized,” Rivers said.

Dennis Ross to retire in 2018

Congressman Dennis Ross will not seek re-election in 2018.

The Lakeland Republican will not seek another term in Florida’s 15th Congressional District, which covers parts of Central Florida, ending a 16-year career in elective offices.

“But I got up Sunday morning and I’m reading my emails and the news and seeing what I need to do looked outside and said ‘My God, it’s beautiful today,’” Ross told POLITICO. “’I gotta go out there and see that.’ And I thought to myself, it’s time. It’s time. It’s time to move on.”

Ross, 58, was elected to Congress in 2010 after eight years in the Florida Legislature.

He told Florida Politics Wednesday: “It’s time. Cindy [Ross’ wife] and I have talked about this for some time. I planned on ten years, but after eight with both my sons getting married within the year and having accomplished what I had hoped, it’s time,”

Ross, a senior deputy whip in the House, said he plans to work hard to see other goals of the GOP House leadership accomplished before he leaves.

“Polk County has a significant role in this district, and I intend to campaign for my successor,” he added.

He said his decision was a personal one. It comes on the same day Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan announced his decision to retire at the end of the term this year.

Both men cited family as one of the key reasons.

Close supporter Dena DeCamp, president of the Florida Federation of Republican Women was quick to point out that Ross’ retirement had nothing to do with President Donald Trump.

“Dennis kind of hinted to me last year he was thinking about it,” she said. Again, he is not leaving because of Trump.

(In fact, Ross told this reporter in 2016 he had no intention of making it “a lifetime career.”)

DeCamp said she is not worried about Republicans losing the seat.

‘“There are a lot of Democrats running, but that won’t make a difference,” she said. “This is a solid Republican district, and there have always been a lot of Democrats who voted for Dennis.”

But is it still a Polk County seat?

Over the years Ross has been in the seat, the district has changed from the commanding position Polk County voters held in the early years of his congressional terms. His incumbency and voter satisfaction continued to ensure his re-election.

But Polk voters now only make up 40 percent of the district, with the bulk now in eastern Hillsborough and a small amount stretching to Clermont.

“I don’t believe in the Blue Wave,” DeCamp said. “ That was just made up by the media. Dennis has done a great job for us representing the people of this district. He has supported conservative issues, the Second Amendment, and tax cuts.”

Ross said he plans to return to practicing law when his term expires in January. And he said he plans to pursue his passion for promoting civics education in high schools and colleges. He said he is concerned about the lack of teaching on the topic.

“It is so important that kids understand the process and that we are all a part of it,” Ross said.

Ross told POLITICO Florida he doesn’t have a favorite candidate to follow him. Possible successors include state Sen. Kelli Stargel, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd (who, through a spokesperson, said he “will never run for a different public office, and that includes Congress.”) state Rep. Ben Albritton, former state Rep. Neil Combee and state Sen. Tom Lee.

Republican leaders reached Tuesday also mentioned former state Rep. Seth McKeel of Lakeland as a potential candidate from Polk County for the GOP primary in CD 15.

McKeel, 42, was a Republican member of the Florida House of Representatives from 2006 to 2014,  and had served on the Lakeland City Commission for six years prior to the Legislature.

He earned the respect of Republican leaders in Polk and Hillsborough counties when he stepped in to heal the rift between University of South Florida President Judy Genshaft and the Hillsborough delegation between Senate Appropriations Chairman JD Alexander, a Lake Wales Republican, and the members of the Polk legislative delegation.

The negotiation gave birth to Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland and the elimination of the USF Lakeland campus.

In making the announcement, Ross joined Republicans Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Tom Rooney and Ron DeSantis in deciding against seeking re-election to congressional seats this fall. Like Ross, Ros-Lehtinen and Rooney have not disclosed any other political plans, while DeSantis is running for governor.

Ross was elected to the Florida House in 2000 and served four terms in Tallahassee. Ross’ congressional website recounts how he was stripped of a state House committee chairmanship in 2007 for voting against a bill that made the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp. “the largest property insurer in Florida. For voting against his party and with his free-market principles, Dennis was stripped of his chairmanship and many said his career was over.”

Ross won his first congressional election by 7 percentage points over Democrat Lori Edwards, but he never faced a close race in getting re-elected three times.

Material from the News Service of Florida was used in this post.

Dana Young holding April 24 fundraiser for Senate re-election

Tampa Republican Sen. Dana Young is holding a campaign kick-off fundraiser later this month for her re-election to Senate District 18.

Young’s event is set for 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on April 24 at the Tampa Yacht & Country Club, 5320 Interbay Boulevard. Those looking to attend are encouraged to send an email to Kristin Lamb at Kristin@FLFSStrategies.com for more information or to RSVP.

The host committee for the event lists dozens of names, including several of Young’s colleagues in the Legislature. At the top of the invite are Senate President Designate Bill Galvano, Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson, St. Pete Sen. Jeff Brandes and Thonotosassa Sen. Tom Lee. Republican Reps. Jamie GrantShawn HarrisonJake Raburn and Jackie Toledo will also be in attendance.

Young spent three terms in the Florida House before she was elected to SD 18 in 2016. She won her first term with about 48 percent of the vote in a four-way race against Democrat Bob Buesing, who received 41 percent of the vote, and no-party candidates Joe Redner and Sheldon Upthegrove, who received 9.5 percent and 1 percent, respectively.

Buesing filed for the seat again ahead of the 2018 contest, but now it looks like Young’s main challenge will come from House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz, who filed for the seat Tuesday after weeks of speculation.

If Buesing were to back out, which he may, the Young v. Cruz head-to-head would be nearly guaranteed — Redner has said he’ll stay out of the contest this year and so far no other candidates have entered the race.

On the fundraising front, Young is the clear frontrunner.

On Tuesday, her campaign announced that she had raised nearly $1.3 million for her re-election bid so far, with $950,000 in the bank. That sum includes $231,000 of hard money in her campaign account, with the rest of the in her supporting political committee, Friends of Dana Young.

Through the same date, Buesing had raised about $116,000 and had about $105,000 in the bank. Cruz had raised about $65,000 for a Hillsborough County Commission campaign before announcing she would run for SD 18.

The fundraiser invitation is below.

Dana Young Fundraiser 4.24.2018

Florida Democrats lining up challenger for Chris Latvala

Clearwater Republican Rep. Chris Latvala could soon have a challenger in his House District 67 re-election campaign

Sources close to House Victory and incoming Democratic leader Kionne McGhee confirmed Tuesday that the party is actively recruiting Becca Teider to run against Latvala in the fall.

Tieder is part of a duo who travel to college campuses to speak about sexual assault awareness, prevention and sexual empowerment.

As a speaker, Tieder has visited more than 400 college campuses, some military installations, and even the White House as part of a roundtable on college sexual assault held by former Vice President Joe Biden.

In an interview with Florida Politics, the Clearwater native said she hasn’t decided whether she will enter the race, but that she’s “definitely giving it some serious consideration.” She said she’ll make the call within the next few weeks.

“If I run, it’s because I’m the best candidate for the seat. I’m not doing this for me – I have a great life,” she said. “But if I feel like I can make a difference, I will run and I will win.”

One of the obstacles remaining for the mother of two is whether being in Tallahassee for long stretches would put too much of a strain on her children, family and business.

As a legislator, it’s possible she’d travel less than she does now – some years she has spent up to 150 days travelling and this week alone she’s already crossed the country to give talks at Penn State University and the University of Southern California.

Running for the state Legislature wasn’t always part of Tieder’s plans. Until recently, she was considering a run for Pinellas County School Board in 2020, but after attending several board meetings she felt like the current crop of elected officials were well suited for their jobs.

What did resonate with her were members’ complaints of overreach from Tallahassee, including a shift toward increased funding for charter schools.

“Charter schools serve a purpose, but not as a replacement for public schools,” she said, adding that she saw it as wrong to “give away so much of what feels like our – the public’s – responsibility.”

Tieder’s possible candidacy also seems to telegraph that Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican who recently resigned from the Senate due to allegations of sexual harassment, will be at the forefront of a campaign between her and Chris Latvala, Jack’s son.

Her view of the longtime state Senator has some nuance, but she didn’t deny the topic would be part of her run if she enters the race.

“Jack Latvala has – as a legislator – done some very good things for Pinellas County, but unfortunately his legacy is forever changed,” she said. “Given my background, I always side with the survivors.”

Tieder said she didn’t see District 67’s Republican advantage – the seat voted plus-4 for Donald Trump – as particularly daunting. If anything, she said Trump’s election could be “a good thing, in the long run” if enough Democrats are motivated to turn out in 2018.

“Either that, or the world could implode,” she said.

Latvala has held the District 67 seat for two terms. He won election in 2014 with a 6-point win over Democrat Steve Sarnoff, and in 2016 he defeated Democrat David Vogel by 17 points.

Asked about the prospect of facing a challenger in the 2018 cycle, Latvala issued the following statement:

“It is a great honor to serve House District 67. Pinellas County has a long history of independent thinking Republicans. I am a proud Conservative who is an independent thinker and votes in line with the district on things like guns, environmental issues, and matters of equality. I am taking this election cycle very seriously and since session has ended my team has knocked on over 3,000 doors and we have ramped up our fundraising efforts. We will not be outworked.”

Latvala has not yet posted his March campaign finance report, though through the end of February he had raised $43,250 for his re-election campaign and had about $19,000 on hand.

Ed Turanchik kicks off campaign for Tampa Mayor with $155K, big crowds

Ed Turanchik launched his bid for Tampa Mayor in style.

The Tampa attorney/developer/transit activist raised more than $155,000 through the end of March, as well as drawing more than 500 people to a campaign kickoff event held last week.

“I am thrilled and humbled by the support our campaign has received,” Turanchik said Tuesday. “We have raised more campaign contributions in two months than we raised during my entire 2011 bid for mayor.”

Turanchik’s entry is among the earliest in the recent history of Tampa mayoral politics; nevertheless, several other candidates are expected to announce, giving incentive for a quick start. Former Police Chief Jane Castor, philanthropist David Straz and City Council members Mike Suarez and Harry Cohen are also expected to enter the race, which won’t take place for another year. Businessman Topher Morrison has already announced his candidacy.

At the April 2 kickoff, held in Tampa’s historic Armature Works, Turanchik was surrounded by an audience of hundreds of family, friends and supporters.

Among those listed on the host committee included Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp and School Board Member Tammy Shamburger, along with former public officials like County Commissioner Joe Chillura, state Senator Jim Hargrett, state Rep. Elvin Martinez Sr. and Tampa City Council member Linda Saul Sena.

At the event, Turanchik told the crowd he was “reaching as far, as high as we can to aspire to become a great 21st Century American city that provides prosperity for all of us.”

“This is a campaign of unity, a campaign of Democrats and Republicans, conservatives and liberals, people from all walks of life, incomes and orientations,” Turanchik added. “We want to be the city we can be.”

Turanchik’s platform is based on three key local issues: housing, innovation and transit.

“They’re already a ‘HIT’ with people,” Turanchik said at the kickoff. In order for everyone to succeed, Turanchik said, Tampa needs a strong public education system, pledging to work with the School Board and other major educational institutions to improve schools.

A clip of Turanchik’s remarks is on the campaign’s Facebook page.

The $155K total includes money raised through both Turanchik’s campaign and political action committee.

“Tampa is blessed with a long history of leaders who have worked to get us where we are today,” Turanchik said. “I look forward to the coming month as we discuss how we can build on this legacy and make Tampa an even better place to live, work and play.”

Dana Young has $950K on hand for SD 18 re-election

Tampa Republican Sen. Dana Young said Tuesday that she’s raised nearly $1.3 million for her Senate District 18 re-election bid and has $950,000 in the bank.

“I am truly honored by the overwhelming support I have received for my re-election campaign for State Senate District 18,” Young said in a press release. “I look forward to continuing to meet with voters throughout our community and share my message of ensuring that Florida remains a great place to live, work and play by keeping taxes low, making education affordable and accessible, and by preserving and protecting our environmental resources.”

“We have a long road ahead of us, but we could not be starting off on a better foot, and I thank our supporters for this strong step forward.”

Young’s March haul measured in at $46,000 for the campaign and $36,000 for her affiliated political committee, Friends of Dana Young, for a total of $82,000 raised last month.

Topping the donor roll was Floridians for a Stronger Democracy, a political committee chaired by Ryan Tyson. It gave $20,000 to Young’s committee, followed by Teco Energy with a $10,000 check. A committee tied to Ocala Republican Rep. Dennis Baxley chipped in $4,000.

The campaign account took in 52 contributions, including 41 for the campaign maximum of $1,000. It also received $25,000 worth of “in-kind” support from the Republican Party of Florida, which provided polling and research.

Young’s announcement came shortly after Tampa Democratic Rep. Janet Cruz announced she would challenge Young for the Hillsborough County-based seat in the fall.

Tampa attorney Bob Buesing, the 2016 Democratic nominee, is also in the race, though he may opt to step aside in order to give Cruz a clear path to the general election.

CL sale, rising costs forcing tbt* to ‘return to roots’ as a weekly

One day after news broke of the alternative weekly Creative Loafing Tampa sale, the Tampa Bay Times is making some changes to its own free newspaper.

Beginning June 7, tbt* – the Times’ free daily tabloid – will “return to its roots” as a weekly publication. According to a statement Tuesday, the change will help the daily general-interest newspaper become the “weekly go-to news and lifestyle guide for busy Millennials and Gen Xers in the Tampa Bay area.”

Another reason for the cutback is rising costs from new tariffs on Canadian newsprint, as explained Tuesday by tbt* editor Ellen Clarke:

Dear readers,

Back in 2004, tbt* launched in the Tampa Bay area as a free, weekly entertainment and general interest newspaper. We became a daily newspaper delivered to offices and newsstands in 2006.

And wow, it’s been fun. The tbt* staff prides itself in more than 12 years of fast news you can use Monday through Friday. And we love how our readers have embraced a different kind of newspaper.

Now, tariffs placed on Canadian newsprint have caused our paper costs to skyrocket — you can read a message about this from Paul Tash, the CEO and chairman of Times Publishing Co., at bit.ly/Tash-note.

One of the fallouts of that tariff burden is that in June, tbt* will become a weekly newspaper again.

We’ll publish each Thursday with everything you need to know to plan your weekend and into the next week. The (still free) weekly tbt* will have interesting new content, like an expanded focus on LGBTQ issues and a sports planner and commentary. We also plan to send out a daily email for our devoted news junkies — you can sign up now at bit.ly/tbt-top5.

For now, the daily tbt* will be with you until June 1. We’ll update you on our exciting plans for the weekly tbt* as that date draws closer.

Thank you, readers.

“As industry trends evolve, we need to continually reimagine and inject new life into our publications,” said Tampa Bay Times vice president Joe DeLuca. “tbt* has been an incredible success story for the Times over the past 14 years. We are excited about the changes we are making and have no doubt that it will continue to be an important part of our readers’ lives as a vibrant and informative weekly publication.”

The revamped tbt* will go out Thursdays, featuring a mix of abbreviated news, entertainment and business articles, along with cartoons, photos and lifestyle features. Readers can also expect expanded coverage of the LGBTQ community, fitness, sports analysis and pop culture. There will also be an associated daily email digest.

To meet the added demand, the Times will produce 10,000 more copies of tbt* a week, bringing the total to 100,000 copies available through about 2,000 locations across the Tampa Bay Area.

This week, Cleveland-based Euclid Media Group – which also owns Orlando Weekly and several other similar publications – completed the purchase of Creative Loafing Tampa, the award-winning weekly previously owned by SouthComm Inc. With a focus on online growth, the new owners laid off several employees including Editor-in-Chief David Warner, political editor Kate Bradshaw, creative director Julio Ramos, operations director Kelly Knaggs, photographer James Ostrand and account executive Claire Sayetta.

Janet Cruz

Janet Cruz makes it official: She’s running for Florida Senate

It’s official: House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz will challenge Tampa Republican Sen. Dana Young in Senate District 18.

The Tampa native announced her bid Tuesday. She joins, for now at least, Tampa attorney Bob Buesing in the Democratic Primary.

“I’m running because Tampa Bay families deserve a leader who will fight for them in Tallahassee — not sell them out to big donors. Our teachers, nurses, moms, dads, small business owners and working families are the backbone of our community and they deserve a State Senator who will always put them first,” Cruz said in a news release.

“I love our community and I am fed up with lawmakers who put the interests of the NRA, the for-profit school industry, and insurance companies before the people they represent. Under Republican leadership, this Legislature has continuously underfunded our public schools, focused on creating low wage jobs that leave working families in a cycle of poverty, and given away millions of taxpayer dollars to insurance companies while health insurance costs for working families skyrocket.”

The announcement, particularly the bit on the NRA, confirms one line of attack on Young will be her vote against an assault weapons ban — added after roll call — in the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

Young’s no vote on the ban has already been used against her by Buesing, and those close to the Cruz camp have said over the past few weeks that the vote, and the shooting itself, were pivotal in convincing Cruz to challenge the incumbent lawmaker.

“Florida deserves better. I’m proud of my record of standing against disastrous policies that have led to our children feeling unsafe in their schools and an economy that only works for the very wealthy — leaving more and more Floridians behind. I have voted again and again to fully fund public education, keep housing costs low, and protect our access to clean air and water,” Cruz continued.

“The Floridians who have been making their voices heard across our state, from the Women’s March to the incredible students from Parkland, deserve true allies in their elected officials and I will proudly carry their fight with me back to Tallahassee.”

Cruz has been linked to a possible Senate District 18 campaign for weeks — Minority Leader Oscar Braynon not only acknowledged her aspirations last month but said he’d been encouraging her to file. Sources close Cruz and the Senate Democratic leadership gave the rumor a signal boost on Monday when they said her announcement was imminent.

Since news of Cruz’ interest broke, there’s been a lot of chatter surrounding the future of Buesing’s campaign. Some close to the Florida Democratic Party’s senate campaign arm said he would exit the race to give Cruz a clear path to the general election ballot.

Buesing issued a statement addressing the rumor but didn’t deny it.

“My goal has always been electing a Democrat to this seat who will serve the people of Hillsborough County well in Tallahassee,” he said last week. “To that end, I announced my candidacy last January and have run a campaign based on the values and ideas that I believe represent the will of the people in this District. Should Janet Cruz decide to file then I will make the best decision for my friends, family, and the constituents of Senate District 18.”

Now that Cruz has filed, Buesing has a decision to make.

A Senate bid wasn’t always the path for Cruz’ political future.

Instead of looking to extend her career as a lawmaker, she set up a campaign for the District 1 seat on the Hillsborough County Commission.

Now that she’s made her decision, she’ll have to hit the ground running to catch up to Young on the fundraising front.

Through the end of February, Young had $189,000 in her campaign account and $711,000 in her political committee, Friends of Dana Young. March brought the two accounts another $82,000 and she now has a combined $964,000 in the bank.

Cruz has about $61,000 on hand in her County Commission campaign account. Buesing, by the same date, had about $79,000 in the bank.

If the fundraising comes, SD 18 isn’t altogether unfavorable for Democrats. The district has 11,000 more registered Democratic voters than Republican, and it voted plus-5 for Hillary Clinton in 2018 and

Aakash Patel

Gus Bilirakis endorses Aakash Patel for Hillsborough Commission

Hillsborough County Commission candidate Aakash Patel announced Monday that he’d picked up an endorsement from Republican U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis.

The pair got to know each other when Patel, 33, served as VP of the Indo-US Chamber of Commerce and worked with Bilirakis on outreach initiatives.

“I am pleased to offer my support and endorsement of Aakash Patel as he seeks to become the next Hillsborough County Commissioner from District 1. Aakash has been very active working with me on multiple outreach initiatives, and I am certain his enthusiasm for our community, his conservative principals, and his business acumen will be put to great use for the good of the people,” the Tarpon Springs Republican said.

Patel, who now runs his own business consulting firm, accepted Bilirakis’ endorsement and said it meant a great deal to him.

“I am so very honored to have him endorse my campaign for Hillsborough County Commission. I work daily to bring more conservative involvement in our community and will continue to do so when elected to the County Commission from District 1,” he said.

“It has been my privilege to work with Congressman Bilirakis for the betterment of Hillsborough County, and I look forward to continuing our efforts while serving in a greater capacity on the County Commission.”

Patel is running against fellow Republican C. Todd Marks to replace Commissioner Sandy Murman, who is expected to leave her District 1 seat to run for the countywide District 7 post in 2018.

Tampa state Rep. Janet Cruz is also filed to run for the seat, though she is thought to be eyeing a run for state Senate instead.

Patel is leading the pack in fundraising, with more than $400,000 raised as of his March campaign finance report.

Vern Buchanan announces TV ad buy for CD 16 re-election

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan’s re-election campaign announced a new TV ad Monday that will be hitting airwaves within the Sarasota Republican’s district.

The campaign said it placed an ad buy in excess of $200,000 to air the commercial, entitled “Independent Leader Fighting for You,” on local TV stations. The ad is Buchanan’s second of the 2018 cycle.

“Vern has a long and consistent record of independent leadership important to his district,” said Max Goodman, Buchanan’s campaign manager.  “Whether it’s working across the aisle to protect our shorelines, making sure kids in low-income households have access to affordable healthcare, or leading the fight to stop animal cruelty, Vern has always put the interests of his community before all others.”

The 30-second features the sixth-term congressman walking through town stopping to talk with constituents.

“From businessman to your congressman, Vern Buchanan,” the ad narrator states. “Taking on the Washington establishment to produce real results for the community, fighting to keep our coastlines pristine, ensuring kids have access to affordable healthcare, and leading the charge to stop animal cruelty.”

“Vern Buchanan, an independent leader fighting for you,” the narrator says in closing.

Buchanan is likely to face Democrat David Shapiro in the November general election.

Shapiro, a Siesta Key attorney, announced Monday that he’d raised more than $400,000 during the first three months of the year. Buchanan’s re-election campaign said last week that its first campaign finance report of 2018 will show $470,000 raised during the first three months of the year.

CD 16 has been a safe GOP seat in past elections. Donald Trump won the district by 11 points in 2016, though some onlookers expect those margins could be much closer this year.

Last month, Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball changed its assessment of the seat from “Safe Republican” to “Likely Republican,” and called it a “deep sleeper Democratic target.”

Buchanan’s ad is below.

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