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Ed Turanchick touts $190K raised for Tampa Mayor bid

Ed Turanchik brought in about $32,000 last month for his bid to succeed Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn in 2019.

“We started our campaign with an amazing kickoff at Tampa Armature Works that drew more than 500 people on April 2nd.” said Ed Turanchik. ” We also have had an enthusiastic and rapid response from donors, raising just under $190,000 in donations in about 100 days.

“We are very excited about the depth and range of our support. Business and civic leaders from across the political spectrum and all areas of the City are rallying to our bold vision for Tampa’s future. They know I have the experience, skill and determination to bring this vision home.”

Turanchik’s exact total works out to $188,385 raised since he announced he would again run for mayor, including $102,110 in campaign funds and another $86,275 raised via his political committee, Tampa 2020. He had about $156,000 in the bank heading into May.

Those fundraising numbers put him in the No. 2 spot in the mayoral race behind former Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor, who earlier this week announced her total fundraising was near the $250,000 mark.

That announcement likely included some early May fundraising, as when her campaign and committee reports became viewable, they showed about $225,000 raised as of April 30. She still leads, however, with $48,790 raised in April and $218,537 in the bank.

Alongside the fundraising update, Turanchik announced a couple campaign fundraisers slated for later in the month. The Leaders of Tampa’s maritime industry will host the first one, to be held aboard the Yacht Starship on May 15. Ybor City and West Tampa business and civic leaders will host the other on May 22 in Ybor city.

Also running for mayor are Tampa City Council members Harry Cohen and Mike Suarez, Michael Hazard, Topher Morrison and David Straz, who filed May 8.

The mayoral election will be held March 5, 2019, when Tampa holds its municipal elections. Also slated for the ballot are the district 1, 3, 4, 5 and 7 city council seats. The new mayor and councilmembers will take office on April 1, 2019.

Turanchik’s fundraiser invites are below.

Neil Combee

Neil Combee announces first wave of Polk County endorsements

A bundle of Polk County officials announced this week that they’re backing former Auburndale Republican Rep. Neil Combee in his bid for Florida’s 15th Congressional District.

The nods came in from current Republican Reps. Ben Albritton, Mike LaRosa and Josie Tomkow, who was recently elected to replace Combee in a special election for House District 39. Also on the list were former Rep. John Wood, Auburndale Mayor Tim Pospichal and Polk City Mayor Joe LaCascia.

Most of the endorsements praised Combee’s conservative bona fides – Albritton called him a “natural born leader,” LaCascia said Combee would never “forget who he is or where he comes from,” and Pospichal said “Main Street America needs Neil Combee.”

Tomkow’s endorsement was the most glowing. Combee was her first backer in the HD 39 contest and his upcoming kickoff fundraiser is set to be hosted at Sunny Acres Lodge, which is owned by the Tomkow family.

“I’ve known Neil and the Combee family my whole life, and there is no one who will fight harder for our area than him. He is fair, honest and humble. He means what he says, and his word is as good as gold. He is the only one in this race who will work to continue making America great again,” she said.

In accepting the endorsements, Combee stated “These folks wake up every day trying to make life better for their neighbors. That’s what service is about. It’s truly humbling to have earned their trust and support. The campaign is picking up momentum. Together we won’t let the liberals destroy our great Country.”

Combee was the first major candidate to declare for CD 15 after U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross’ announcement that he wouldn’t seek re-election in 2018. He is one of six Republicans to qualify for the ballot, alongside Dover Rep. Ross Spano, Sean HarperDanny KushmerCurt Rogers and Ed Shoemaker.

Also running for the safe Republican seat are Democrats Kristen CarlsonAndrew Learned and Ray Pena as well as three write-in candidates.

Spano is likely the best known of Combee’s primary rivals in the primary race.

CD 15 covers parts of Hillsborough, Polk and Lake counties. Spano’s base of support is in the Hillsborough portion, which is home to half of the district’s Republican voters. The Polk portion has about 40 percent of CD 15’s Republicans.

Spano is attempting to make inroads into Polk. He’s holding a campaign event this weekend in Lakeland, and has snagged endorsements from Winter Haven Republican Rep. Sam Killebrew and former Polk County Commissioner George Lindsey.

Combee’s Polk endorsements – the “first of many,” the campaign says – somewhat rebuff those efforts by showing off his strong support on his home turf. Nearly all of Combee’s former state House seat is within the boundaries of CD 15 and the last time he was on the ballot he took 62 percent of the vote.

Margaret Good jumps out to big lead in re-election campaign

Sarasota Democratic Rep. Margaret Good hasn’t let up in fundraising since she turned HD 72 blue with a February special election win over Republican James Buchanan.

Good added $62,605 to her campaign account last month, bringing her total campaign fundraising for the 2018 cycle to $82,700. She has $78,500 in the bank.

“I continue to be humbled by and grateful for the outpouring of support for the campaign. Our campaign is fueled by grassroots support. In our April reporting period, 387 individual donors contributed to our re-election effort; they want to continue the work we began after winning the special election in February,” Good said.

“The foundation of our campaign is grassroots; it’s community members who want our government to reflect our values. Sarasotans want a robust economy, a strong public school system that prepares children for a highly competitive future, and protection for our precious land and Gulf. Sarasotans know they can count on me to fight for them.”

Some notable figures for April: Good received 245 from donations from small-dollar donors giving $100 or less; she took in 31 checks for the campaign max of $1,000; and more than 90 percent of the money raised came from within the Sunshine State.

The April report shows her far ahead of her lone challenger, former Republican Rep. Ray Pilon.

Pilon held the Sarasota County seat for three terms before he abandoned it to mount an unsuccessful state Senate bid in 2016. He filed for a return trip to Tallahassee via HD 72 back in March and through two campaign reports – the same number as Good – he’s raised $18,600.

Pilon’s April report showed $11,000 raised, an improvement over his first report, and at nearly 50 names his donor roll wouldn’t be considered short compared to most candidates not named Margaret Good.

He started May with $14,770 in the bank, including a $1,000 loan to kick start his campaign.

Ross Spano

Ross Spano lines up three CD 15 kickoff events

Ross Spano will be on the move this weekend.

The Republican state representative will hold three campaign kickoff events within the boundaries of Florida’s 15th Congressional District, which he declared for shortly after current CD 15 U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross announced he wouldn’t seek re-election in 2018. He had previously been a candidate to replace termed-out Attorney General Pam Bondi.

“I’m honored by the support our campaign has already generated, and I’m looking forward to officially kicking things off with my friends and neighbors,” Spano said. “The next Congressman from the 15th District will deal with very important issues, and I’m ready to share my ideas, solutions and commitment to Conservative values.”

The first event is slated for noon Friday at Minutemen Press in Brandon, 115 N. Kings Ave. That event will focus on “the negative impact of government regulations and taxes have on small businesses in Florida” and how Spano “can fight for small businesses while in Washington.”

The second meet and greet on the docket, also set for noon, will be held Saturday in Plant City’s McCall Park, 100 N Collins St, where the third term state lawmaker will be joined by his family for a “Family & Freedom Picnic” that promises plenty of “fellowship, food and fun.” He will also speak to attendees on his plans to “fight for conservative values” if voters send him to Washington.

The final kickoff will see Spano attend Sunday services at The Church at the Mall in Lakeland, 1010 E. Memorial Blvd. The church holds two Sunday services weekly. The first, a “progressive service,” begins at 9:15 am. The second, a “blended service,” starts at 10:45. Spano’s announcement didn’t specify which service he will attend.

Spano is one of a dozen candidates, including six Republicans, to qualify for the ballot in CD 15.

He faces former state Rep. Neil Combee, Sean Harper, Danny Kushmer, Curt Rogers and Ed Shoemaker in the Republican Primary. Also running are Democrats Kristen Carlson, Andrew Learned and Ray Pena as well as three write-in candidates.

Combee and Spano are the presumed frontrunners for seat, which covers Lake County, northwestern Polk County and Northeastern Hillsborough County. Spano, of Dover, has a base of support in Hillsborough, which is home to nearly half of CD 15’s Republican voters. Combee, of Auburndale, is the best known entrant in Polk, which holds another two-fifths of the district’s GOP voters.

Spano has made some inroads into Polk County during his brief tenure in the race, including endorsements from Winter Haven Republican Rep. Sam Killebrew and former Polk County Commissioner George Lindsey. The Combee campaign, however, says their chances will get a major boost due to Polk County’s favorite son, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, being on the Republican Primary ballot as a gubernatorial candidate.

Spano’s invites are below.

New poll shows Jane Castor dominating rest of the field in race to succeed Bob Buckhorn

It’s Jane Castor‘s city. The rest of y’all are just living in it.

That’s the reality of the campaign to succeed Bob Buckhorn as Tampa’s next mayor according to the first poll conducted since all five of expected major candidates filed to run.

Castor, the city’s former police chief, dominates the rest of the field, capturing just over 47 percent of the vote when Tampa voters are asked who they will vote for in 2019. The other four candidates — Ed Turanchik, David Straz, Mike Suarez, and Harry Cohen — are all in single digits. Two other candidates — businessman Topher Morrison and Michael Hazard — were not included in the poll.

This latest poll’s findings are even more impressive for Castor than a survey taken in June 2017 which showed Castor winning a third of voters’ support in a five-way field.

If there’s any storyline among the other four candidates, it’s that Turanchik, a progressive former member of the Hillsborough County Commission, is in second place ahead of Straz, the wealthy philanthropist who has spent the better part of the last year preparing to enter the race.

Castor’s lead is so large, she dominates all demographic breakdowns of the survey. However, it’s noteworthy that she particularly dominates the sampling of responses from black voters. She’s the early choice of 57 percent of this demo. Castor has been criticized for a program meant to make high-crime areas of the city safer when it ticketed more black bicyclists than anyone else. Castor told the Tampa Bay Times that those citations were a mistake.

Castor announced earlier this week she eclipsed the $250K-raised mark for her campaign. Both Straz and Turanchik have also demonstrated an ability to raise serious funds for their bid.

St. Pete Polls conducted the survey Thursday, May 10; it was commissioned by Florida Politics to set a baseline for future surveys of the race. Florida Politics expects to poll the field once a month between now and Election Day.

The survey had a sample size of 424 respondents, with a 4.8 percent margin of error.

Tampa voters will head to the polls March 5, 2019.

Janet Cruz and Dana Young, SD 18

Janet Cruz raises a lot of money in first weeks of campaign for Senate but Dana Young raises more

House Minority Leader Janet Cruz nearly matched Tampa Republican Sen. Dana Young in April fundraising despite joining the Senate District 18 race 10 days into the month.

Cruz, a Tampa Democrat, said her April campaign and committee reports will show $146,600 in contributions for the 21 days she was a candidate last month, putting her just a few thousand dollars shy of Young’s $152,500 effort for the whole of April.

“We’re earning the support we need to win and get things done in the Florida Senate, including making healthcare more affordable, fully funding our public schools and teachers, and combating gun violence,” said Cruz. “We are strong out of the gate and just getting warmed up because the hard working people of Tampa deserve to have a voice in Tallahassee — and that hasn’t been the case recently.”

About $31,600 of the new money came in through Cruz’ campaign account. Its report is not yet viewable on the Florida Division of Elections website. The rest came in through her political committee, Building the Bay PC, which shows $117,700 in contributions.

The bulk of that cash came in through two $50,000 checks, one from political committee Florida For All, Inc. and another from Miami attorney Robert Rubenstein. Spending was minimal, with Democratic data firm NGP VAN receiving $2,700 of the $3,300 spent.

The committee finished the month with about $176,500 on hand including the $62,000 Cruz banked prior to launching her Senate campaign. Her campaign account also started with money in the bank due to her now-cancelled bid for Hillsborough County Commission. Cruz said those funds make for $271,000 in total fundraising, though she didn’t announce an overall cash-on-hand total.

While Cruz ceded little ground in her first month, she is far from matching Young’s overall totals of $1.45 million raised and $1.1 million on hand.

Young’s reports showed a near even split, with $79,544 raised for her campaign account and $73,000 raised for her political committee, Friends of Dana Young.

The campaign cash was spread across 131 contributions and included 60 checks for $1,000, the maximum contribution for state legislative campaigns. The committee donor roll was similar in compactness to her opponent’s, with a $35,000 check from beverage distributor Kent Bailey taking the top spot among seven contributions.

Campaign and committee spending totaled $16,422, including $5,500 on ad spending and a $5,000 check to Bascom Communications for consulting work and $3,600. Heading into May, Young had $802,000 in her committee account and $298,000 in her campaign account.

If Cruz keeps the funds rolling in SD 18 could turn into a major pickup for Florida Democrats, who see 2018 as an opportunity to break Republican’s grip on the state legislature. The Hillsborough-based district has 7,500 more registered Democratic voters than Republican, and it voted plus-5 for Hillary Clinton in 2018.

Young was elected to the Senate in 2016 after taking 48 percent of the vote compared to 41 percent for 2016 Democratic nominee and one-time 2018 candidate Bob Buesing. Nearly 10 percent of the remaining ballots were cast for businessman Joe Redner while no-party candidate Sheldon Upthegrove received 1 percent support.

Greg Steube - CD 17 Campaign Photo

Greg Steube raising money in Charlotte County next week

Republican state Sen. Greg Steube is making the trek from his Sarasota home to Charlotte County for a May 16 fundraiser benefitting his bid for Florida’s 17th Congressional District.

Steube’s event will be held at the Laishley Crab House, 150 Laishley Court, in Punta Gorda from 5:30 pm to 7 pm. Those looking to attend can email an RSVP to Kelly Dowd via Kelly@ElectGregSteube.com.

The host committee at the top of invitation lists county Sheriff Bill Prummell, county Clerk of the Court Roger Eaton and Charlotte County Commissioners Ken Doherty, Joe Tiseo and Bill Truex. Laishley Crab House proprietor Bruce Laishley, who also a Rick Scott appointee to the Florida Southwestern State College board, made the list as well.

Steube, currently in his first term in the state Senate, was the first Republican to announce his bid for CD 17 after current U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney became the third of four Florida Republican members of congress to announce he would retire in 2018.

Stuebe was joined by Sarasota state Rep. Julio Gonzalez after the 2018 Legislative Session.

Both lawmakers qualified for the ballot last week, as did Port Charlotte Republican Bill Akins, Cape Coral Democrat April Freeman and Avon Park Democrat Bill Pollard. CD 17 is a solid Republican district.

Akins filed for the seat well before Rooney announced his retirement, but the Republican Primary looks to be a two-person race between Gonzalez and Steube.

Through March 31, Gonzalez led the money race with nearly $234,000 in contributions during the first few weeks of his campaign compared to $63,550 for Steube. Gonzalez’ total includes $150,000 in candidate loans, which is 10 times more than what Steube plunked down to kickstart his campaign.

Where Steube leads is in endorsements.

When he declared, his announcement listed off dozens of backers, including Senate President Joe Negron, Senate President Designate Bill Galvano, Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson, Naples Republican Sen. Kathleen Passidomo and Lakeland Republican Sen. Kelli Stargel.

Gonzalez has landed a couple major backers of his own, including U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. Akins, oddly enough, has been endorsed by Star Trek Enterprise actor Gary Graham. But Steube’s list covers all corners of the massive district, not just Sarasota, which is home to only about a quarter of CD 17 voters.

The fundraiser invitation is below.

mike wells

Pasco Clerk endorses Mike Wells for County Commission

Pasco County Commissioner Mike Wells announced this week that his re-election campaign picked up another endorsement, this time from county Clerk of the Court Paula O’Neil.

“I have known Mike Wells for many years and am pleased to offer him my support and endorsement this year. Mike is an active member of our community who works hard to promote government that is accountable to the people of Pasco County,” O’Neil said.

“I am confident he is the best choice to continue serving on the Board of County Commissioners and know his presence will help to build upon the positive momentum we have Pasco County. I hope you’ll join me and support Mike Wells for Pasco County Commissioner this election.”

O’Neil is the latest in a long string of endorsements for Wells, who was elected District 4 commissioner in 2014. Past endorsements include Pasco’s police and fire fighter unions, Tax Collector Mike Fasano, Tarpon Springs U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, Sheriff Chris Nocco, Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson, former House Speaker Will Weatherford and Zephyrhills Republican Rep. Danny Burgess.

“I am honored to receive the endorsement of Pasco Clerk and Comptroller Dr. Paula O’Neil,” Wells in a press release. “Clerk O’Neil serves our community each and every day by making sure our budget balances, records are kept and available for public review, and serves Pasco residents by ensuring the timely and efficient handling of officials records and documents. I am grateful for Dr. O’Neil’s service and professionalism and appreciate her friendship.”

Wells is running against Democrat Brandi Geoit for a second term on the commission in 2018. Through April Wells held a commanding lead in campaign fundraising with more than $160,000 raised and nearly $140,000 banked. Geoit, through the same date, had about $10,000 in total fundraising with $6,000 on hand.

District 4 covers western inland Pasco County, including parts of New Port Richey and Land O’Lakes.

Wells’ seat and the neighboring District 2 seat, currently held by first-term Commissioner Mike Moore, will be on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.

Regulators sign off on TECO solar projects

The Florida Public Service Commission on Tuesday approved a plan that will lead to customers of Tampa Electric Co. paying slightly more each month to cover the costs of two solar-energy projects.

The projects, which are expected to be finished in September in Polk and Hillsborough counties, are part of a series of plans by Tampa Electric to add solar generation in coming years.

The Public Service Commission in 2017 approved a settlement agreement that set Tampa Electric’s base electric rates until 2022. Part of that agreement allowed the utility to return to the commission to seek approval to recoup money for solar projects.

The projects approved Tuesday are a 70.3-megawatt facility in Polk County and a 74.4-megawatt facility in Hillsborough. To help pay for the projects, residential customers who use 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity a month will see a $1.85 increase on their bills, according to commission numbers.

The utility industry commonly uses 1,000 kilowatt-hours a month as a benchmark, though actual electricity usage varies widely.

“We are pleased to have the support of the Florida commission,” Nancy Tower, the utility’s president, said in a prepared statement. “Clean energy is the future for utilities, and our solar projects are a win for customers and a win for the environment.”

Tampa Electric has about 750,000 customers in Hillsborough, Polk, Pinellas, and Pasco counties.

Republished with permission of the News Service of Florida.

Jeff Brandes clears $550K on hand, Carrie Pilon has $100K

Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes and Democratic challenger Carrie Pilon both raised more than $100,000 last month in the race for Senate District 24.

“I’m humbled by the support our campaign continues to receive each and every day,” said Brandes. “Our message resonates with voters and is backed by results. We have the momentum and are putting together a strong campaign to win in November.”

Brandes brought in $66,395 to his campaign account and $35,000 for his political committee, Liberty Florida, for a total haul of $101,395 in April, however Pilon edged him out with a combined $104,433 raised between her campaign account and committee, Moving Pinellas Forward.

The six-figure sum is Pilon’s first report since she announced she would challenge Brandes for the Pinellas County seat. Brandes haul follows a big March, when he bolstered his campaign account with $300,000 of his own after he learned he would be facing a challenger in the fall.

Brandes’ campaign report showed 136 contributions, including 42 for the $1,000, the maximum allowable contribution for state legislative races.

Max donors included political committees tied to Senate President Joe Negron, Naples Republican Sen. Kathleen Passidomo and St. Petersburg Republican Rep. Chris Sprowls, who is set to become House Speaker after the 2020 elections.

Expenditures weighed in at $25,807, including $7,500 in payments to Election Management Solutions for political consulting and $4,600 to Arizona-based Campaign Graphics for t-shirts.

Heading into May, Brandes had about $458,000 in hard money at his disposal.

The committee cash came in through just four contributions, including a $25,000 check from private prison company GEO Group. Also on the report was ride-sharing company Lyft, which gave $5,000.

Liberty Florida’s lone expenditure was a $500 payment to Robert Watkins & Company for accounting services, leaving it with $110,000 banked heading into May.

Brandes now has $568,000 on hand between the two accounts.

Pilon’s inaugural campaign report showed 149 contributions, including 37 for $1,000.

The majority of those max donors were fellow attorneys or law firms. Notables included Democratic Sen. Gary Farmer, who donated via his committee, Floridians for Ethics, Accountability and Responsibility. Pilon’s husband Chad Pilon, the son of former Sarasota Republican Rep. Ray Pilon, also chipped in with a max check last month.

More than half of the contributions Pilon received came in from small-dollar donors giving $200 or less. She has $51,740 in hard dollars after paying out about $2,700 between printing jobs and bank fees.

Pilon also received nearly $14,000 worth of “in-kind” contributions from the Florida Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, chaired by incoming Senate Democratic Leader Audrey Gibson. About $6,000 of that money paid for campaign staff and their healthcare while the rest was spent on polling.

Pilon’s committee cash came in through a single check from Florida For All, Inc., a political committee chaired by Joe Falk. Moving Pinellas Forward showed no expenditures and entered May with $50,000 on hand.

After one month, Pilon has $101,740 at the ready.

Brandes has been in the Senate since 2012 when he was elected to the pre-redistricting SD 22. He had been a member of the Florida House for the two years prior.

He didn’t face a Democratic opponent in the 2012 or 2016 cycles, and in 2014 he cruised to victory with a 16-point win over his Democratic challenger in the old SD 22.

If Pilon remains competitive in fundraising going foward, the seat isn’t completely out of reach for Democrats, who see 2018 as the year they can break the Republican Party’s 20-year hold on state government.

The GOP has a 4-point advantage in voter registrations within SD 24 even though the seat voted for Barack Obama by about a point in 2012 and 2.5 points in 2008, though it went plus-7 for Donald Trump in 2016.

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