Tampa Bay Archives - Page 7 of 99 - Florida Politics

Pro-Confederate group heats up HD 58 race

As a registered nonprofit group, Save Southern Heritage can’t endorse candidates.

However, they can provide “information” to voters,  and the inference from the cards it’s mailed out to 3,000 households in House District 58 in eastern Hillsborough County indicates it likes the responses that Lawrence McClure gave the group, as opposed to Yvonne Fry, who opted not to respond to the organization’s questionnaire.

McClure and Fry are engaged in an intense battle for the Republican Party primary in the special election to succeed Plant City Republican Dan Raulerson, who stepped down from the seat for health reasons, with more than a year on his term last month.

The 30-year-old McClure is a partner in environmental consulting firm Streamline Environmental. The 45-year-old Fry is a small businesswoman and civic activist from Plant City.

Save Southern Heritage Florida is the advocacy group that fought to maintain the Confederate statue in front of the Hillsborough County Courthouse annex, an effort they lost last month when the Board of County Commissioners voted to remove the monument after the private sector contributed half the expected costs of the move.

The group asked McClure four questions pertinent to their constituency, all revolving around Confederate monuments. When asked if he supported keeping the monument in Tampa, Frank said he did.

“I have been on on record at club meetings and debates that would have had a vote on the Hillsborough County Commission to remove the Confederate monument outside of the downtown Tampa courthouse, I would’ve voted no. I think it should stay,” he responded.

Fry is on the record as having said that she did support keeping the monument in place, something she repeated to FloridaPolitics earlier this week.

“We have been on the record on this issue for over a month,” said Brock Mikosky, Fry’s campaign manager. “Yvonne believes that our history is our history and the monuments should not be removed. Further, the attempts to take down these monuments and each ensuing fight is a waste of resources and a distraction from real problems facing our communities.”
The questionnaire also asked if a statue of Confederate general Edmund Kirby Smith representing Florida should be removed from the U.S. Capitol. McClure said it should not.

The Florida Legislature agreed last year to remove Smith’s statue, but it still remains in National Statuary Hall because lawmakers couldn’t come to an agreement on a replacement.

Last month, 11 House Democrats from Florida sent a letter to Governor Rick Scott, House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron urging them to call a special session on finding that replacement. No action was taken.

The GOP primary for HD 58 is Oct. 10.

James Buchanan adds Marco Rubio endorsement

Republican James Buchanan keeps racking up endorsements for his House District 72 campaign, and Wednesday he added the one of the biggest names in Florida Politics to the list in U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

“James is a tenacious worker and someone the voters of Sarasota County can trust to deliver and produce results,” Rubio said. “He will put Sarasota’s interests above all and will never stop fighting to keep our economy strong, our infrastructure from crumbling, and our children in world-class schools.”

Buchanan said earning Rubio’s backing was both “humbling and energizing,” especially considering the second-term Republican senator was once Speaker of the Florida State House of Representatives.

“I am proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with a proven champion for lower taxes, personal freedom, and smaller government,” Buchanan said.

Rubio joins an interminable list of Florida Republicans who have come out in support of Buchanan, who is the son of U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan.

Less than a week ago, Buchanan got the nod from Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight, and has also picked up support from Bradenton Republican Sen. Bill Galvano, who is set to become Senate President after the 2018 elections. Republican Rep. Jim Boyd, who is wrapping up his final term in the House, has also lined up behind Buchanan.

Buchanan has spent most of his life in the Sarasota area. He graduated from Cardinal Mooney High School, and after heading to Tallahassee to attend Florida State University on a full athletic scholarship, he returned to Sarasota to work as a real estate agent.

He had been running for Boyd’s HD 71 seat before Alex Miller’s surprise announcement that she would abdicate HD 72 after less than 10 months in office.

During his months campaigning in HD 71, Buchanan was able to bring in more than $160,000 for his campaign. Through the end of August, he had more than $140,000 of that money on hand, putting him far ahead of his opponents.

Gov. Rick Scott set the filing deadline for Sept. 28, so unless another GOP hopeful materializes in the next few hours Buchanan will face Alexandra Coe in a two-way Republican Primary on Dec. 5.

Two Democrats are also running for the seat: Margaret Good, who has the Florida Democratic Party’s backing, and Ruta Jouniari, a businesswoman who FDP insiders view as somewhat of a pesky activists.

Questions surrounding Jouniari’s filing paperwork could disqualify her, though, which would prevent a Democratic Primary.

Also running for the seat is Libertarian Alison Foxall, who announced earlier this week that she would qualify for the ballot via petition.

Foxall and the winners of the two primary races will face off in a Feb. 13 general election.

HD 72 generally favors Republicans. Miller bested Democrat Ed James III by 10 points last year despite him being one of the best funded Democrats to make a run for the state House in that cycle.

John Morgan brings his “talking tour” to St. Pete

Saying it was good to be back in “Charlie Crist country,” Orlando attorney/entrepreneur/celebrity John Morgan made an entertaining appearance at the Suncoast Tiger Bay Club in St. Petersburg on Wednesday.

There, he discussed what he says is the very real possibility that he will pull the trigger next year and run for the Democratic nomination for governor.

As salty as ever, Morgan said he was absolutely not on a “listening tour,” as some candidates describe the early months of a potential candidacy, deriding that concept as “so much BS.”

“I’m on a talking tour,” he told the audience who assembled at the St. Pete Yacht Club. “I’m going to tell you everything I think. I may say two or things today that disqualify me, and that’s OK.”

The 61-year-old Lexington, Kentucky native has said previously that he won’t make a final decision on his political future until next spring, and with his high name recognition thanks to the ubiquitous “Morgan and Morgan” television ads that constantly air across the state of Florida and a personal banking fortune estimated at more than $100 million, it certainly makes sense.

Rick Scott, after all, didn’t get into the gubernatorial race in 2010 until the spring, and the rest is Florida political history.

A Florida Chamber of Commerce poll released Wednesday shows Morgan currently to be the most popular Democrat in the field, leading former Congresswoman Gwen Graham by eight percentage points, 23 percent-15 percent.

However, 44 percent have yet to make up their mind for the Democratic primary, which won’t take place until slightly less than 11 months from now.

Referring to the tragedy at the North Hollywood assisted living facility which lost air conditioning during Hurricane Irma, causing 10 seniors to perish due to excessive heat, Morgan blasted “tort reform” efforts by the state Legislature, where lawsuits at such facilities are capped at $250,000.

Morgan—the father of 2016’s medical marijuana constitutional amendment—said it’s inevitable that recreational pot will become legal from sea to shining sea in the future. The latest policy proposal that he’s working to get on the 2020 ballot would be a $14 hourly ‘living wage’ in Florida.

He’s also passionate about getting the right of nonviolent ex-felons to get their rights restored. When asked by a woman during the Q&A portion of the meeting why not even those who commit violent felonies pay their debt to society, Morgan said politics was about the art of compromise, and extending that proposal to include violent offenders will never pass in Florida.

He maintained that pragmatic stance when talking about guns, an incendiary issue between gun control advocates and most of the GOP-led Legislature in Florida, which continues to press for more unfettered access to guns, including on college campuses and airports (though to no avail in recent years).

“I’m not a gun guy,” he declared. “I don’t care about guns. Just don’t let crazy people have them.”

As part of his platform for criminal justice reform he derides private prisons, saying that their business model requires that they be filled up, so the companies that own them can make money.

He called public school teachers “heroes,” and blasted what he said was the Legislature’s war on public education. Morgan said the results from the charter school experiment were “terrible” and that it allowed the rich to prosper at the public’s expense.

Speaking of the rich, Morgan called himself the “ultimate capitalist” but also a “compassionate capitalist.” He said he believed in a separation of church and state, but said he didn’t believe that people could separate themselves from their beliefs.

“I believe that the God that I pray to lives not up there but in you and in you and in you. I believe that when I see somebody’s hungry, or begging, or without shelter, I’m not looking at a deadbeat, I’m looking at God, and that’s the only way that I can live and love God, to love people and love God.”

Morgan mused about some of the other candidates who have already declared their candidacies for governor. He joked that he needed Clearwater state Senator Jack Latvala in the race. “I need someone bigger than me,” he said of the Clearwater Republican. “I can’t be the fat guy in the race.”

Morgan is off to his home state of Kentucky, where he’s been hired by Attorney General Andy Beshear to sue the manufacturers of opioids, an option that Florida lawmakers have yet to publicly consider.

Many political observers say that Donald Trump’s electoral victory in Florida and in the Electoral College last November is a blueprint that the politically incorrect Morgan could follow to the Governor’s Mansion. He addressed the comparison only once during his speech.

“Some people say ‘if Trump can do it, you can do it!’ ” he said, pausing dramatically. “I don’t take that as a compliment.”

Ben Albritton endorsed by three DeSoto commissioners

Three DeSoto County commissioners endorsed state Rep. Ben Albritton, who is looking to move out of the House and into the Senate in 2018.

Commissioners Elton Langford, Buddy Mansfield and Jim Selph announced they are backing the Wauchula Republican in a Tuesday news release put out by the campaign.

“Ben Albritton’s service in the Florida House has been characterized by hard work and conservative values,” Langford said. “He understands DeSoto County, and I’m confident he’s the right one to represent us in Tallahassee.”

Mansfield and Selph added that they believe Albritton would be a powerful advocate for DeSoto County in the Senate especially in the wake of Hurricane Irma, which crashed through the state earlier this month causing damage and power outages in almost all Florida counties.

“After Irma, it’s more important than ever that we have a dependable leader like Ben who will go to bat for DeSoto County in Tallahassee,” Selph said.

Langford represents District 4 on the DeSoto County Commission and was elected in 2006. Selph, elected in 2010, holds the District 2 seat while Mansfield was elected in 2008 and represents District 1.

Albritton said the three commissioners were “outstanding public servants.”

“I’m so grateful for their support and leadership, and I look forward to working with them to make sure the interests of the hardworking families of DeSoto County are well represented in the Florida Senate,” he said.

Albritton, who represents District 56, has been a member of the Florida House since 2010. Facing term limits, he has opted to run for the District 26 seat in the Senate which is currently held by Sen. Denise Grimsley, who is running for Agriculture Commissioner in 2018.

So far Albritton is the only candidate in the race, and through August he had raised $53,400 and had $26,300 of that money on hand.

SD 26 is largely similar to the pre-redistricting SD 21 and covers all of DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Highlands and Okeechobee counties as well as parts of Charlotte, Lee and Polk counties.

There are roughly 27,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats in the district, and that gulf was apparent last year, which was the first election since the seat was redrawn.

Grimsley won re-election without opposition in the primary or general elections, while President Donald Trump beat out Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton 49-46 on Election Day.

Yvonne Fry blasted in HD 58 race for ‘insufficiently conservative’

Two weeks before the primary, the Republican race is becoming more intense between Yvonne Fry and Lawrence McClure for the House District 72 special election.

In the past week, two mailers sent by outside groups blasting Fry have made their way into eastern Hillsborough County mailboxes.

One came from the Orlando-based “Ax The Tax” political organization led by Doug Guetzloe and describes Fry as a tool for Tallahassee special interests. It says that she has been silent on issues such as increasing local taxes, moving the Confederate monument from a county courthouse, and opposing light rail.

“We believe Fry to be the quintessential political insider who will not advance the conservative interests of the district in Tallahassee,” Guetzloe said Tuesday. “Conversely, we believe Mr. McClure will be a conservative star in the Florida Legislature.”

Responding to the charges, Fry said she has never been for light rail, calling it inappropriate.

However, back in May of 2016, Fry told the Tampa Bay Times’ Ernest Hooper that as a member of the Plant City EDC, she was part of a letter declaring their full support of the Go Hillsborough transit tax initiative, which included a light rail component.

“The Plant City EDC (Economic Development Corp.) wrote a letter stating we’re in full support of the (Go Hillsborough) initiative,” Fry said. “Plant City has been the city of no, if you will, but our understanding of our spot at the table and our future is so dependent on seeing transportation as an investment in our infrastructure and not a tax. We need to be part of the solution and being part of crafting the regional design. We need to see that just because we aren’t getting rail, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t affect the outcomes of our quality of life and how it all fits together. To me, a piece of this is educating women on how transportation affects them, how their lives would be different if we had better transportation solutions.

Regarding the Confederate monument debate, Fry says she is actually on the record on that issue, noting that both she and McClure were asked about it at the Plant City Republican Women’s Club. “Our history is our history,” she said. “I don’t think that they should be moved.”

“I think we should learn from our history,” she said, adding that there are too many other issues ongoing that she’d rather spend her time and energy.

A second mailer from the recently formed “Hillsborough County Conservatism Counts” declares that “Yvonne Fry is against lowering property taxes,” while arguing that she opposes a proposed expansion of the homestead exemption.

“Simply stated, Yvonne Fry said she is against increasing the homestead property tax exemption,” the mailer reads, while also describing her as “liberal.”

On this charge, Fry’s response is more nuanced.

She says she’s a “huge proponent” of cutting taxes, but believes that the constitutional amendment was a “political ploy” and not appropriate for the state to tell local officials how to run their governments.

“The state should be cutting state taxes,” she says. “I think it was all political,” adding that Hillsborough County’s government announced an immediate hiring freeze in anticipation of lower revenues coming in 2019.

Fry says that despite her misgivings about the proposal, she says she’ll vote for it next year.

“It’s a tax cut,” she says. “I’m for those.”

According to documents filed with the Florida Division of Elections, “Hillsborough County Conservatism Counts” is chaired by Ash Mason. He did not return our request for comment.

McClure, a Dover businessman, said that he was focused on getting out his message, offering no comment on the mailers.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Details matter: Questions arise in Ruta Jouniari HD 72 filing

What’s in a day? For a Sarasota-area race, it could mean everything.

In the recently announced special election for Florida House District 72, questions are beginning to emerge over the paperwork filed by Ruta Jouniari, who announced her candidacy earlier this week.

The businesswoman and community activist is the second Democrat in the race for the seat vacated by Sarasota Republican Alex Miller, after she abruptly resigned the seat she held for less than a year.

Gov. Rick Scott announced the special primary will take place Dec. 5; the special election will be Feb. 13. In the Democratic primary, Jouniari faces Margaret Good. Qualifying for the race begins 8 a.m. Thursday through noon Friday.

However, Division of Elections records show a possible issue with Jouniari’s official Candidate Oath, which was signed and notarized Sept. 19, one day before its effective filing date.

That timing could be crucial, since it can be argued that an individual who has not yet filed as a candidate cannot technically execute a Candidate Oath. This paperwork snafu could prove problematic for Jouniari.

In addition, records also show Jouniari submitted her filing fee by way of a personal check, something expressly prohibited by Florida law.

A recent Florida Department of State memo points this out in no uncertain terms: “Qualifying fees must be paid by a properly executed check payable to the Department of State or Secretary of State and drawn upon the candidate’s campaign account … Personal checks, cashiers’ checks, cash, and money orders are not valid for qualifying.”

With only 48 hours before qualifying starts, it is reasonable to assume the DOE has notified Jouniari of her check problem, giving her enough time to take care of it before Friday.

Of course, this is not the first time a paperwork error in a special election had derailed a candidate.

Former state Rep. Reggie Fullwood of Jacksonville had a similar issue in 2014, when a notary public forgot to check a box on his financial disclosure form, without time to correct the problem before the filing deadline.

Fullwood, a two-term incumbent in a very Democratic HD 13, was subsequently disqualified from the Democratic primary, leaving the seat open because no one else in either party filed.

In retrospect, it was the least of Fullwood’s problems.

So, once again, a cautionary tale for all prospective officeholders – details matter!

Jack Latvala says he sides with Donald Trump’s criticism of NFL players

After Tampa Bay Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans opted not to stand for the national anthem in protest of Donald Trump’s election, Pinellas state Sen. Jack Latvala said he would personally boycott Bucs games until Evans apologized or was cut from the team.

He is maintaining that stance after Evans and fellow Bucs wide receiver DeSean Jackson joined many of their NFL brethren on Sunday by kneeling during the playing of the national anthem. The protests were in response to Trump’s comments made Friday night that NFL owners who have players “disrespecting the flag” should “get that son of a bitch off the field right now, he’s fired.”

“A year ago, long before I became a candidate for Governor I called out the Bucs receiver who knelt for the national anthem,” Latvala wrote on his Facebook page Sunday night. “This is not a new issue for me and my attitude has not changed.”

Two NFL teams – the Seattle Seahawks and the Tennessee Titans – chose to protest by not even leaving their locker rooms while the national anthem was played in Nashville. The Pittsburgh Steelers did the same thing before their game in Chicago, with the exception of one player, offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva.

Latvala says he’s a fan of Villanueva.

“Thankfully we still have players like Alejandro Villanueva who stood up for our country on the battlefield and stood up for our flag today!” Latvala wrote.

The Clearwater Republican announced his candidacy for Florida governor last month, joining Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in the race.

Putnam tweeted Sunday that he also agreed with the president comments about NFL players who refuse to stand for the anthem.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who is strongly considering running for governor, tweeted a photo of Villanueva showing his support for standing for the anthem. “This is what a hero looks like,” Corcoran wrote.

After Latvala criticized Evans last year, the receiver backed down, saying that he would no longer sit during the anthem. Evans was criticized by fans not only for refusing to stand for the anthem in protest of Trump’s election but for also admitting that he didn’t actually vote in the presidential contest.

However, this time, the Bucs receiver sounds like he won’t back down.

“When the president has singled out athletes, or African-American athletes, myself and my other colleagues that took a knee just have different beliefs than him,” Evans told the Tampa Bay Times Sunday. “It was very childish on his part. It seems like he’s trying to divide us. I think this is an opportunity for me to do what I can. A lot of guys around the league did it and I understand why.”

“People are going to misconstrue and turn it to make it depict a different picture than it really is,” Evans continued. “I love the military. Like I said last year when I sat, it’s nothing against the military at all. The anthem is different for other people. People say it’s unpatriotic. But it’s unpatriotic for the president not to respect our rights.”

As was the case last year, Latvala is attracting plenty of comments on his Facebook page for his stance on the issue — pro and con.

“I don’t appreciate or support the Bucs’ stance on this issue,” wrote Cherie Anne Gaynor. “I’m finished with them and probably all NFL teams and will try not to buy any of their sponsors’ products.”

“I appreciate people who stand by their beliefs,” wrote Adam Miguel Harvey. “You’re not getting my vote but thank you for it being vocal about the argument.”

Libertarian candidate Alison Foxall to qualify by petition for HD 72 seat

Libertarian candidate Alison Foxall says she will personally deliver nearly 500 signed petitions to the Sarasota Supervisor of Elections office Monday afternoon to qualify to run in the special election in House District 72.

Foxall is one of five candidates who have entered the race since freshman Republican Alex Miller abruptly announced her resignation a month ago. Republicans James Buchanan and Alexandra Coe and Democrats Ruta Jouniari and Margaret Good make up the rest of the field.

Foxall runs Gobble Logic, a digital web marketing agency, and was recently elected to the Libertarian Party of Florida‘s director-at-large position.

More than two dozen campaign volunteers went door to door collecting petitions over the past ten days to get the 305 signatures required for Foxall to qualify.

“It was challenging,” Foxall said about gathering the petitions signatures. “When we started petitioning, I didn’t have power restored yet at my home, thanks to Irma. But my team and I persevered and got the job done. I knocked on a lot of doors this weekend, sometimes in the rain. Many people that I talked to were excited, not only because I’m not a part of the old establishment Republican and Democrat parties, but also because I was genuinely their neighbor down the road.”

The primary election for HD 72 will take place December 5, with the general election to follow on February 13.

The deadline for candidates to enter the race is Sept. 28.

Tom Knight backs James Buchanan in HD 72 special election

Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight is backing James Buchanan in the special election for House District 72, which was vacated by Alex Miller on Sept. 1.

“I know James will give law enforcement the support we need to keep our community safe.  He stands with us, so I will stand with him,” Knight said in press release.

Knight joins other area Republicans, including future Senate President Bill Galvano and state Rep. Jim Boyd, in endorsing Buchanan, who is the son of U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan.

“Tom Knight is beloved by our community and is one of the most respected Sheriff’s in our state. I am proud to have him on our team,” Buchanan said.

Buchanan, who filed for HD 72 within an hour of Miller announcing her resignation, is the only Republican in the race.

Buchanan is an alumnus of Florida State University and the University of South Florida, where he earned an MBA. He has worked as a real estate agent since 2006 and is longstanding member of the National Association of Realtors, Florida Association of Realtors, as well as  the Realtor Association of Sarasota and Manatee Counties.

Also running for the Sarasota County seat is Libertarian Alison Foxall and Democrats Margaret Good and Rita Jouniari, who announced her candidacy Friday.

Gov. Rick Scott set the primary election for Dec. 5, with the general election to follow on Feb. 13. The deadline for candidates to enter the race is Sept. 28.

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons