2018 CFO race Archives - Florida Politics

Senate panel advances proposed constitutional amendment changing CFO duties

A Senate bill that would put a constitutional amendment expanding the Chief Financial Officer’s duties on the ballot cleared its second committee stop Tuesday.

SB 792, sponsored by Brandon Republican Sen. Tom Lee, would have the CFO participate in economic, demographic, and revenue estimating conferences.

It would also require the CFO to review and certify contracts over $10 million proposed by state agencies, and follow up on them to ensure any payments due don’t exceed the amount appropriated for them.

Lee said the bill addresses “glaring oversights” in the Cabinet position that have been present since it was created in 2002.

“To this day we lack the constitutional footing for the officer to play his role,” Lee said, adding that the bill would change the CFO position from focusing on “the back end as a treasurer writing checks” to a more “front end” role ensuring compliance in state contracts.

Lee is expected to run for CFO in 2018, but hasn’t given a timeline for when he’ll jump in the race.

If and when he enters the race, he’ll face sitting CFO Jimmy Patronis and Antoanet Iotova in the Republican Primary. Patronis was appointed to the seat last year by Gov. Rick Scott after elected CFO Jeff Atwater left the job to take a position at Florida Atlantic University.

Also running for the seat is former Democratic state Sen. Jeremy Ring.

SB 792 cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee without any questions, appearances or debate, and the lack of noise, at least from the Florida Department of Financial Services, didn’t go unnoticed by Lee, who was chagrined that he didn’t get an opportunity to rebut “misinformation” he said DFS spread when the bill went before the Ethics and Elections Committee earlier this year.

The bill now heads to the Senate Rules Committee, its final stop before a floor vote. A similar bill in the House, HB 1421, has not yet been heard in committee.

Jeremy Ring subtly touts CFO bid while promoting Yahoo memoir in Tampa

For more than half a year, Jeremy Ring has been on the campaign stump, where he frequently talked about his business roots working at Yahoo when it was just a startup in the 1990s before it became an internet colossus that crashed and burned a decade later.

Now, the former South Florida Democratic lawmaker and current CFO candidate published a memoir of that period of his life called “We Were Yahoo,” which hit bookstores and Amazon.com this week.

Speaking at Cafe Con Tampa at the Oxford Exchange Friday morning, Ring explained to the audience that the genesis for the book came out of a need to escape the depression he felt in 2011 after two open heart surgeries. The first operation repaired a lifelong problem with an aortic valve. However, that operation went bad, requiring a second surgery a few weeks later.

Feeling bad mentally, he began to write — just to get out of his own head.

After the depression passed, he put down the writing until 2016, when he decided to specifically speak about his experience with one of Silicon Valley’s early giants, and the horrible mistakes he believed management made that led to the company turning into a shell of what it once was and could have been.

The internet company quickly became a dot com phenomenon in the 1990s, with an evaluation of over $100 billion at its peak. Ring was one of its first salesmen, beginning in New York City before moving to Silicon Valley.

In 2008, Yahoo had a chance to sell for $44.6 billion when Microsoft made an unsolicited offer. Yahoo turned down the offer. The company was ultimately sold to Verizon for just $4.8 billion in 2016.

In Ring’s retelling of the story, the most prominent culprit is Yahoo’s second CEO, Terry Semel, who was hired away from Warner Bros. in 2001 despite having never run a technology company.

Semel turned down offers to buy both Google and Facebook in their relative infancy. Yahoo and Semel had negotiated a deal to purchase Facebook for $1.1 billion, but the deal fell apart when Semel didn’t want to go higher than $800 million.

Similarly, Yahoo was the most prominent licenser of Google search technology before the founders became their own independent search engine. There was the chance for Semel and Yahoo to purchase Google for $6-$7 billion, Ring said.

Yahoo offered only $3 billion, and the rest is history.

As he said in the past, Ring hopes to follow in the footsteps of the last Democrat to hold the CFO position, Alex Sink, who happened to be in the audience listening intently. During the Q&A period, Sink asked why other executives couldn’t persuade Semel on what became some disastrous business decisions.

It’s well documented that Yahoo’s board of directors was “probably the weakest board of any publicly traded company over a twenty year period,” Ring replied.

The stakes were high at Yahoo, Ring recounted, especially during the time it was considered the highest publicly traded company on the stock market ever.

The pressure was “unbelievable,” Ring said, adding that, with few exceptions, no lawmaker in Florida ever feels anything close to such pressure doing their day to day job.

“People talk about pressure in politics? No, no, no,” he said, referring specifically to the demands Wall Street puts on such companies to hit critical levels in a specific quarter.

“Wall Street doesn’t care about the next quarter! They only care about that quarter,” he said, adding that working under such pressure can lead to making poor business decisions.

At one point, Ring boasted: “For 21 straight quarters, I was a key part of the highest profile publicly traded company in the world, OK? I understand big numbers. It doesn’t scare me.”

Mostly shying away from politics, Ring did address the significance of the CFO position, saying the single most crucial part of the job is making sure the $120 billion Florida Retirement System remains robust.

A Boston native, he’s also passionate about the New England Patriots, as they attempt to win their third Super Bowl in four years next weekend.

After hearing some jeers from the crowd, Ring’s reaction was to ask why some people didn’t like the Patriots franchise or its fans.

“For all those who are booing me, my answer to you is … what’s the matter, you don’t like winners?”

Ring is currently the only Democrat running and will likely face Republican CFO Jimmy Patronis or Brandon Republican Sen. Tom Lee in the fall.

While Patronis has only been in the office since June — named by Gov. Rick Scott as Jeff Atwater‘s successor — Patronis is enjoying the full benefits of incumbency, such as with a recent appearance in the state’s biggest media market on Thursday to remind Floridians it’s not too late to get a flu vaccine.

Jeremy Ring’s book on Yahoo! years debuts today

CFO candidate and former state Sen. Jeremy Ring’s book, “We Were Yahoo!” detailing the rise and fall of one-time dot com juggernaut hits shelves tomorrow and promises to be both an entertaining romp and a cautionary tale for entrepreneurs about the pitfalls that come with quick success.

In 1996, more than a decade before he entered Florida politics, Ring was hired by Yahoo! co-founder Jerry Yang to build a sales force on the east coast and spent the next 5-and-a-half years working for the pioneering search engine.

“The experience made me want to change the world,” Ring said. “And, I’ve never gotten over that.”

The “life-changing” experience gave Ring a “50 yard line view” of the company’s meteoric climb — when Yahoo!’s market cap hit $120 billion in Jan. 2000, it was worth more than Disney, News Corporation, and Comcast combined.

That newfound wealth led to some excess, with extravagant parties and company meetings, but shortly after Yahoo!’s zenith came its spectacular fall beginning with dot com bubble burst.

Those looking for a dose of schadenfreude direct from their Kindle may be in luck, as Ring’s book also touts some juicy tidbits from the beginning-of-the-end era, which was foreshadowed by a number of blunders, including a missed opportunity to acquire Google for $1 million.

From the promo release: “Ring describes the slow death and disbelief in riveting detail. The company continued to tread water for more than a decade, still generating a few billion dollars in annual revenue. By the time Marissa Meyer arrived to great fanfare in 2012, it was too late to save a once great company with so much unrealized potential.”

Still, Ring said he isn’t looking put out too much dirt on his former co-workers.

“The idea was not to trash anybody in all of this,” Ring said. “It was to simply tell the story from an insider’s view and let people take away what they will from it. Hopefully it will be entertaining and it will help others in some way as they attempt to build and sustain great organizations.”

The book is available through Amazon as a paperback and an e-book. More information on the book is available through WeWereYahooBook.com.

It looks like John Morgan is backing Jeremy Ring for Chief Financial Officer

Democratic CFO candidate Jeremy Ring picked up what looks to be an endorsement from Orlando mega attorney John Morgan on Tuesday morning.

Morgan gave the punny nod via Twitter, quoting an earlier tweet from Ring saying that the pair had a “great meeting yesterday.”

Ring is currently the only Democrat in the race, and while he was an exec at Yahoo during the company’s glory days, one could be forgiven for labeling him a “professional politician” given that he spent 10 years in the state Senate before leaving office due to term limits in 2016.

His chief rival so far is sitting CFO Jimmy Patronis, who was appointed to the job by Gov. Rick Scott earlier this year after CFO Jeff Atwater resigned the position to take a job at Florida Atlantic University.  He faces longshot candidate Antoanet Iotova in the Republican Primary, while Brandon Republican Sen. Tom Lee is also likely to file at some point over next few months.

Ring has piled on endorsements over the past couple months from elected Democrats in the state legislature and Congress, but Morgan’s endorsement is Ring’s first from a non-Democrat, though just barely.

Morgan had long been considered a potential candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor, given his successful advocacy for – and bankrolling of – the medical marijuana amendment in 2016, though he announced in November that he wouldn’t seek the nomination and would also leave the party.

“I can’t muster enthusiasm for any of today’s politicians. They are all the same. Both parties. I plan to register as an Independent and when I vote, vote for the lesser of two evils. And if I ever ran, run as an Independent,” he wrote at the time.

If he did throw his hat into the ring as an independent, a recent poll found he could be a spoiler or possible contender in the race, mostly at the expense of Democrats.

Jeremy Ring snags a pile of endorsements from state lawmakers

Former Margate Sen. Jeremy Ring announced Thursday that 19 Democratic state lawmakers have endorsed him in the chief financial officer race.

“From the very beginning I have believed that our campaign is all about people power,” Ring said. “I am proud to have the support of each and every one of these legislators. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to see their dedication and leadership first-hand, which is why I am thankful to have them fighting in our corner in Tallahassee and excited to have them join our campaign!”

The bulk endorsement includes Sens. Randolph Bracy, Oscar Braynon, Gary Farmer, Audrey Gibson, Bill Montford, Kevin Rader, Darryl Rouson, and Perry Thurston, as well as Reps. Joe Abruzzo, Lori Berman, Ben Diamond, Bobby DuBose, Katie Edwards, Joe Geller, Even Jenne, Shev Jones, Kionne McGhee, Sean Shaw and Richard Stark.

The campaign called the wave of endorsements “the surest sign yet of building momentum.”

The nods from his former colleagues come after Ring announced in December that Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler were backing his campaign. In November, the campaign announced endorsements from seven of the 11 Florida Democrats in the U.S. House.

Ring is running against sitting CFO Jimmy Patronis for the cabinet seat.

Patronis was appointed to the seat by Gov. Rick Scott earlier this year after former CFO Jeff Atwater stepped down to take the CFO position at Florida Atlantic University.

Scott hasn’t been shy about supporting Patronis’ campaign for a full term, but that hasn’t scared off Brandon Republican Sen. Tom Lee, who said he plans to jump in the race but gave no timetable for when he will file.

Patronis is currently the frontrunner in the money race, with $1.26 million banked between his campaign account and committee, Treasure Florida. Lee’s entry would force Patronis into the No. 2 spot, however, as he has more than $2.28 million stashed away in his committee, The Conservative.

Through November, Ring had $198,426 in his campaign account with another $112,557 in his political committee, Florida Action Fund, for a cash on hand total of $310,983.

Still, an early poll of the race showed Ring with a slight lead over Patronis, 37-35, though that 2-point spread fell well within the 3.7 percentage point margin of error. The poll also did not take into account Lee’s likely entry into the race.

Jimmy Patronis to host CFO campaign fundraiser Tuesday in Tallahassee

Sitting CFO Jimmy Patronis is holding a fundraiser in Tallahassee Tuesday for his bid to take over the CFO position for a four-year term.

The Dec. 12 fundraiser – not an interim committee week for those wondering – will be at the Governor’s Club, 202 S. Adams Street.

The event kicks off at 5 p.m. and runs until 7 p.m., and the invitation lists Joe Harper as the host. Those looking to attend can RSVP with Paige Davis by sending an email to paigejdavis@gmail.com or giving her a call at 904-219-7322.

Patronis, a Republican, got the CFO job in June when Gov. Rick Scott appointed him to fill the unexpired term of former CFO Jeff Atwater, who left to become a vice president of Florida Atlantic University.

The former lawmaker and member of the Public Service Commission announced at the beginning of the month that he would seek election to the Cabinet seat.

Before officially announcing his campaign, Patronis opened up a political committee, Treasure Florida, and has so far raised $653,850, with $642,639 of that money on hand. That total puts him leagues ahead of Margate’s Jeremy Ring, who is currently his only Democratic opponent for the job. Also in the race is Republican Antoanet Iotova of Hollywood.

Brandon Republican Sen. Tom Lee has said he’ll run for the job as well, though he is in no rush to file, which could set up a tough primary battle. He has more than $2 million in a political committee ready to go when he makes the call.

The invitation to Patronis’ fundraiser is below.

Early poll of CFO race shows Jeremy Ring with slight lead over Jimmy Patronis

An early poll of the Chief Financial Officer race shows Margate Democrat Jeremy Ring with a slim lead over Republican Jimmy Patronis, who was appointed earlier this year to the CFO spot.

The EMC Research poll shows Ring with 37 percent support among voters and Patronis with 35 percent, with 28 percent undecided. The 2-point spread, though encouraging for Ring, falls well within poll’s the 3.7 percentage point margin of error.

The polling group said it used a turnout model that assumed GOP voters would have a six-point turnout advantage over Democrats, 44 percent to 38 percent.

“Jeremy Ring’s lead over Jimmy Patronis in an uninformed, head-to-head matchup shows Ring has a path to victory on Election Day next November with a well-funded campaign that has the resources to communicate his unique qualifications for the position of Chief Financial Officer,” the polling group said in news release.

The poll also showed Ring, a former Yahoo! executive, had stronger support from Democrats than Patronis had among Republican voters.

More than three-quarters of Democrats support Ring, while 4 percent support Patronis. Conversely, two-thirds of Republicans back Patronis while 7 percent back Ring. Among independents, Ring leads Patronis 25-23.

The poll did not take into account Brandon Sen. Tom Lee’s likely entry into the race.

Lee, a former Senate President, ran unsuccessfully for CFO in 2006 and has said he plans to take another stab at the job in 2018 though he is in no rush to officially announce his candidacy.

If Lee entered the race, he would be in the first-place spot in fundraising as he has more than $2 million socked away in his political committee, The Conservative.

Ring’s only primary opponent so far is Antoanet Iotova, who lost to Democrat Gary Farmer in the SD 34 race last year and is surely outmatched in this race – especially considering she was arrested last fall and charged with two counts of grand theft.

Ring served in the Florida Senate from 2008 through 2016 and was the first-in candidate for the Cabinet post. Through the end of October, he had about $193,000 on hand in his campaign account. He also has another $135,723 on hand in his political committee, Florida Action Fund, for a combined total of $328,723.

Patronis was appointed to the job by Gov. Rick Scott earlier this year after CFO Jeff Atwater resigned the position to take a job at Florida Atlantic University. Scott has said Patronis is his pick for the job in 2018.

Though Patronis, a former member of the Florida House, didn’t officially file for election until Nov. 1, he had raised $653,850 for his political committee, Treasure Florida, as of the end of October.

The EMC Research poll was conducted from Nov. 12 through Nov. 16 and received responses from 705 likely general election voters.

Jeremy Ring announces ‘hat trick’ of congressional endorsements for CFO bid

Margate Democrat Jeremy Ring scored a “hat trick” of endorsements for his CFO campaign from Florida’s congressional delegation Thursday, and now has the support of seven of the 11 Florida Democrats in the U.S. House.

U.S. Reps. Lois Frankel, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Frederica Wilson announced they were supporting the former state senator for CFO, joining Reps. Ted Deutch, Alcee Hastings, Al Lawson and Darren Soto, who endorsed him earlier this month.

“Now more than ever Florida needs fighters,” Wilson said. “I had the opportunity to serve with Jeremy in Tallahassee and saw first-hand how he fought to protect the Florida Retirement System from the Republicans who wanted to tear it apart. This is why I’m excited to endorse him in his race to be Florida’s next Chief Financial Officer.”

Frankel added that “although the CFO isn’t someone you see in the headlines a lot, their actions arguably touch more Floridians than any other statewide office — from regulating insurance rates and serving as a vital check-and-balance to the Governor and Legislature. Jeremy Ring will ask tough questions, stand up to insurance companies and stand up for consumers. I enthusiastically support him.”

Ring, the only Democrat in the race, said he was “humbled to have earned the support” of the three congresswomen.

“I’ve been fortunate to know or work alongside all of them for many years. They are three of the most dedicated members of the U.S. House of Representatives and I am thankful to have them in our corner fighting on behalf of the people of Florida in Washington and excited to have them join our campaign,” he said.

Also in the race are sitting CFO Jimmy Patronis, whom Gov. Rick Scott has said is his hand-picked choice, as well as fellow Republican Antoanet Iotova, who lost to Democrat Gary Farmer in the race for Senate District 34 last November and is surely outmatched in the GOP primary for CFO.

Patronis is likely to also face Brandon Sen. Tom Lee in the Republican Primary, though Lee has not given a timetable for when he would enter the race.

Jimmy Patronis takes commanding fundraising lead in CFO race

CFO Jimmy Patronis added another $431,100 to his political committee last month surpassing his only major competitor, Margate Democrat Jeremy Ring, in cash on hand.

Treasure Florida’s October numbers bring the committee to $653,850 raised since Patronis opened the account in August.

Spending last month came in at just $2,306, leaving the committee with $642,639 on hand at the end of the month. That figure nearly doubles Ring’s on-hand total through six months in the race.

Ring, a former state Senator, spent more than he raised last month and had about $193,000 on hand in his campaign account at month’s end. He also has another $135,723 on hand in his political committee, Florida Action Fund, for a combined total of $328,723.

A lot of Patronis’ committee money came in through large checks, the biggest of which was a $50,000 contribution from Florida Jobs PAC, a committee tied to the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Treasure Florida picked up another eight checks at the $25,000 level, including one from former House Speaker Allan Bense.

Two donors chipped in at the $15,000 level, followed by a half dozen at $10,000 with dozens more cutting checks for the GOP candidate at or below the $5,000 level.

Patronis’ only primary opponent so far is Antoanet Iotova.

She lost to Democrat Gary Farmer in the SD 34 last year and is surely outmatched in the GOP primary for CFO – especially considering she was arrested last fall and charged with two counts of grand theft.

She hasn’t reported any contributions since filing in September.

Patronis may end up facing a real primary challenge if Brandon Sen. Tom Lee decides to step in the race. The former Senate President tacked on an even $211,000 for his political committee, The Conservative, in October. He has more than $2.28 million on hand.

Lee lost to Democrat Alex Sink in the 2006 CFO race, which was the Democrats’ lone win in a Cabinet race this century, and has had his eye on another run since.

CFO hopeful Jeremy Ring nabs four endorsements from Florida congressional delegation

Former Democratic state Sen. Jeremy Ring announced Wednesday that four Florida congressmen had endorsed his bid to be Florida’s next Chief Financial Officer.

U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch, Alcee Hastings, Al Lawson and Darren Soto, all Democrats, proclaimed their support for Ring via a Wednesday press release from his campaign.

“I’ve gotten to know Jeremy over the years as both a colleague and friend,” Deutch said. “His business background and innovative ideas are exactly what our state needs and his record of protecting the Florida retirement system is exactly what taxpayers deserve from their next CFO.”

Hastings, Lawson and Soto also harped on Ring’s financial background as a qualifier for taking over as CFO, a position currently held by former Republican Rep. Jimmy Patronis, who was appointed by Gov. Rick Scott to take over for Jeff Atwater earlier this year.

Before becoming a state senator in 2006, Ring was one of the early executives of Yahoo and worked there during its heyday as the internet’s top search engine. He plans to release a book, “We Were Yahoo,” sometime this fall detailing the company’s rise – and missteps – from its inception through the early aughts.

The congressmen backing the Margate Democrat also said they saw him as a prime candidate to break the Republican stranglehold on Florida’s statewide offices.

“It has been far too long since we have had a Democrat serving in our state cabinet, and I’m proudly supporting Jeremy Ring to be Florida’s next Chief Financial Officer. He is an innovative and thoughtful leader whose ideas are exactly what Florida needs,” Hastings said.

Ring, the lone Democrat running for CFO, said he was “thrilled” to earn the congressmen’s endorsements.

“They are all remarkable public servants with an unyielding commitment to do everything in their power to improve the lives of the Floridians that they represent. I am humbled by their support and excited to have them join our campaign to bring innovation, technology and high-paying jobs to Florida,” he said.

Also in the race are Patronis, whom Scott has said is his hand-picked choice, and fellow Republican Antoanet Iotova, who lost to Democrat Gary Farmer in the race for the state Senate District 34 last November and is surely outmatched in the GOP primary for CFO – especially considering she was arrested last fall and charged with two counts of grand theft.

The South Florida-Sun Sentinel reported in January that an unsealed indictment revealed she and an associate were charged with conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bank fraud, wire fraud and making false statements to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Not a good look for someone vying to be the state’s financial steward.

Iotova hasn’t posted any campaign contributions since filing, while Patronis jumped in the race on Nov. 1 and is sure to build up his campaign account quickly. A political committee he started before making the run official, Treasure Florida, had banked $222,750 through the end of September.

Brandon Republican Sen. Tom Lee could also jump in. Through September, he had nearly $2.1 million on hand in his political committee, The Conservative.

Ring had raised $276,349 for his campaign, including $100,000 in loans, through the end of October. He has $192,994 of that money on hand, with an additional $135,723 socked away in his political committee, Florida Action Fund.

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