2018 election – Page 2 – Florida Politics

Ron DeSantis’ campaign touts poll showing him on top

The Republican gubernatorial campaign for U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis is touting new poll results from Gravis Marketing Tuesday morning that show he has taken the lead.

The same poll also is being cited by the Democratic gubernatorial campaign of Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum as it shows him moving up into second place on the Democrats’ side.

Both party races are tight and the vast majority of likely voters are still undecided, according to the poll.

“What’s clear from every poll we’ve seen since the president endorsed Ron DeSantis for governor, is that Ron is trending up and Adam Putnam is trending down,” DeSantis’ Campaign Press Secretary David Vasquez said in a news release issued by the campaign. “It’s clear Florida conservatives want a proven leader who has the support of the President and not a career politician who’s beholden to special interests.”

The survey was conducted from Feb. 26 through March 19 of a random selection of 2,212 likely voters across Florida. Gravis is reporting a margin of error of 2.1 percent.

The poll put DeSantis in the lead on the Republican side with 19 percent, followed by Florida Agriculture Commissioner Putnam at 17 percent and Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who has not entered the Governor’s race but is expected to, at just 3 percent. Sixty percent of Republican voters said they were uncertain whom they would vote for.

On the Democratic side, the poll put former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine atop the Democratic field with 13 percent support, followed by Gillum with 11 percent, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee with 9 percent, and Winter Park businessman Chris King with just 2 percent. Another 64 percent of Democratic voters were uncertain whom to vote for.

DeSantis’ camp notes that Gravis Marketing Managing Partner Doug Kaplan said that on the GOP side “DeSantis has gained in each poll.”

Philip Levine’s gubernatorial campaign brings in Adrienne Bogen as field director

The gubernatorial campaign of Democrat Philip Levine has hired Adrienne Bogen to be its statewide field director.

Bogen most recently managed the field program for St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman’s successful re-election campaign last year. She previously has led organizing efforts for U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist‘s 2014 gubernatorial race, Hillary Clinton‘s 2016 presidential bid, and has worked in Texas, Virginia and New York.

“Our campaign continues to reach new milestones and it reflects our commitment to reach voters in every part of the state. We are excited to welcome Adrienne to our team as she leads an aggressive grassroots field program in all 67 counties of our state,” Matthew Van Name, Levine’s campaign manager, stated in a news release. “As our campaign moves full steam ahead to the primary and on to victory in November, Adrienne possesses the talent, leadership and local expertise to build our movement in every corner of our state, from the Panhandle down to the Keys.”

Levine, the former mayor of Miami Beach, faces Winter Park businessman Chris King, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee in pursuing the Aug. 28 Democratic nomination. The leading Republicans are U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

“Mayor Levine has shown he is ready to win this year and break the Republican control in Tallahassee with his vision for a state that invests in public education, delivers affordable health care, establishes a true minimum living wage and is committed to true reforms that make our state’s gun laws the safest in the country,” Bogen stated in the release. “I am excited to hit the ground running as we take our message directly to the voters with a true grassroots engagement program built from the bottom up.”

Gwen Graham says she’d support local governments defying 2011 gun laws preemption

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham announced Tuesday that if she’s elected Governor she would support local governments such as Weston and Coral Gables that seek to defy the state’s 2011 law forbidding local gun ordinances.

Such a position could put Graham at odds with the Florida Legislature and also potentially with the Attorney General over who takes which sides, should legal battles begin over local gun ordinances. In 2011, Florida passed a law, signed by Gov. Rick Scott, that preempts all local gun laws to the state, and sets stiff penalties, including personal fines, legal liability and threats of removals from office for local officials who seek, retain or vote for local gun laws.

Graham on Tuesday pledged legal resources as Governor to support local governments challenging the state’s firearm preemption law.

“Following the tragedy at Stoneman Douglas, cities and counties across the state want to act where the Legislature and Rick Scott have failed — but Tallahassee politicians have trampled on home rule in an outrageous attempt to block local governments from banning weapons of war from our streets and protecting their citizens from gun violence,” Graham said in a news release. “As Governor, I will work with cities and counties to restore local control and their ability to protect their communities by directing my Office of General Counsel to assist local governments challenging the state’s preemption law.”

It was unclear how that would manifest itself, and whether it would put her in legal battles with the Attorney General. Certainly, the Governor would be in position to refuse to remove local politicians from office, as the law would demand.

Graham, the former congresswoman from Tallahassee, faces Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and Winter Park businessman Chris King in seeking the Aug. 28 Democratic gubernatorial nomination. Leading Republican candidates Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis are both staunch opponents of gun restrictions at local or state levels.

To date, the statute has been upheld by Florida courts, preventing municipalities from enforcing gun regulations. But Gillum has stood up with Tallahassee to keep its law on the books, a point he has used to argue that he is the one Democratic gubernatorial candidate who has actually fought for tighter gun control and won. However, the Tallahassee law is not being enforced.

Gillum’s campaign responded to her declaration Tuesday by accusing her of having an election year conversion on guns while Gillum has consistently fought for gun laws for many years.

“I’m glad the Congresswoman’s election year conversion on guns includes backing Mayor Gillum’s fight with the gun lobby. It would have been nice for her to support his fight when she was a sitting Member of Congress. Democrats can’t trust her on this issue, while the Mayor’s consistently fought for gun safety,” Geoff Burgan, Gillum’s communications director, said in a statement issued Tuesday.

Following the mass shootings at Pulse in 2016 and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in February, some city officials are talking about defying the state, seeking to re-establish local gun ordinances.

Coral Gables Mayor Raúl Valdés-Fauli proposed a city-wide ban on assault weapons last month, and Weston Mayor Daniel Stermer is urging cities and counties across Florida to join a coordinated effort challenging the state’s preemption law.

“The NRA spent $300,000 to try to defeat me a few years ago – they lost,” Graham stated in the news release, referring to her 2014 election over incumbent U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland in Florida’s 2nd Congressional District. “They’ve also spent untold millions buying off Tallahassee politicians and trying to destroy local control. When I’m governor, they will lose again. If Tallahassee politicians fail to pass common sense gun safety, I’ll make sure local governments can step in and do the job the NRA sellouts in Tallahassee refuse to.”

In addition to defending home rule, Graham has also released a full gun safety plan that includes banning the sale of military-style assault weapons, implementing universal background checks, and investing more in mental health to prevent future tragedies.

Joe Lopez pledges integrity, loyalty, effective leadership in Orange County sheriff’s race

Orange County sheriff candidate Jose “Joe” Lopez formally kicked off his campaign amid supporters late Monday with a pledge to run his campaign and the sheriff’s office with integrity, loyalty and effective leadership.

Lopez, a retired chief from the Florida Highway Patrol, faces Orlando Police Chief John Mina in the contest. They both seek to succeed Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings, who’s running for mayor this year and would have to resign his post to qualify for the ballot, forcing a special election.

With a rally at the Cafe Caobana, a Cuban restaurant next door to the Florida Highway Patrol station in east Orange County, Lopez also pledged that his platform would include focusing on reduction of violent crime, expansion of community policing, and aggressive recruitment, hiring, and retention to fill and keep filled what he said has been a chronic shortage of hundreds of deputies in the department.

He said right now the department is about 250 short, despite Demings’ successful effort last fall to push the largest pay increase in memory through the Orange County Board of Commissioners. The chronic shortage, Lopez said, means the department cannot function as it should. T

hat must start with beefing up the office that does background checks, with more investigators, and actively recruiting with the Florida National Guard and military. He said even with the raises Demings pushed through, the pay still needs to be increased and benefits improved, because it had been compressed from too many years without raises, and still remains uncompetitive with many municipal police forces.

“We can’t do business as usual. We have to look at what we have today and reevaluate, including a review of how we hire and recruit deputies. We can’t wait five years to get 250 deputies. We’re going to have to do something about it,” Lopez said.

For that, Lopez stressed he’ll maintain his commitments to integrity, loyalty and effective leadership he said his campaign is based upon, and said he will use that in building a leadership team in the sheriff’s office.

“What is integrity? What do you do when the lights are turned off? Loyalty? Loyalty to my community loyalty to my constituents. Loyalty to my cause and what I promise what I’m going to do when I become sheriff. Effective leadership? For 32 years I’ve been on the path of leadership. It is for me a personal journey.

Jimmy Patronis

Former House Speakers back Jimmy Patronis’ bid for Chief Financial Officer

CFO Jimmy Patronis announced Tuesday that five former Florida House Speakers had endorsed his campaign for a full term in the Cabinet position.

The nods came from Steve Crisafulli, Will Weatherford, Dean Cannon, Larry Cretul and Allan Bense, who are the five most recent House Speakers outside of now-U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who held the post from 2006 through 2008.

Patronis was a member of the House from 2006 through 2014.

“CFO Patronis is a devoted watchdog over taxpayer money in Tallahassee. I’ve known him for years and his tremendous work ethic along with his heart for his job and genuine care for the wellbeing of Floridians make him an excellent Chief Financial Officer for our state. I’m looking forward to helping him secure another term in this job,” Weatherford said.

Crisafulli also cited his years-long personal relationship with Patronis, adding that he “has been an outstanding leader and has worked diligently to ensure the people of Florida are well represented.”

Cannon said he was “proud to support CFO Patronis because he is committed to rooting out waste and abuse in state government and protecting Florida’s finances. Jimmy has been an incredible consumer advocate for Floridians who face issues with their insurance provider.”

Cretul said “Serving as CFO, Jimmy Patronis has been dedicated to improving Florida’s economy and business climate. He is not afraid to roll up his sleeves and get the job done. He fights for policies that support our first responders and protect consumers. I am honored to stand by his side.”

Bense, whom Patronis succeeded in the House, added that the sitting CFO “is a proven leader who shares my conservative values.”

“He addresses each issue he encounters with Floridians’ best interest in mind. He truly understands the needs of Florida families. Jimmy’s strong commitment to serving the citizens of our state makes him the right person to serve as Florida’s Chief Financial Officer. I know he will continue to serve our state well,” Bense said.

Patronis is currently the only major Republican running for Chief Financial Officer. He’s finishing out the term won by Jeff Atwater, who left the post last year to take a job at Florida Atlantic University.

Since announcing he would run for a full term in November, Patronis has brought in nearly $2.5 million between his campaign and political committee, Treasure Florida.

Thonotosassa Republican Sen. Tom Lee is widely expected to challenge Patronis. He had about $2.3 million on hand in his political committee, The Conservative, at the end of January.

The Republican nominee is likely to face former Democratic state Sen. Jeremy Ring on the November ballot.

Matt Spritz HD 89 Republican candidate

George LeMieux endorses Matt Spritz for HD 89

Republican House District 89 candidate Matt Spritz announced Monday that he’d picked up an endorsement from George LeMieux, who served as a U.S. Senator from 2009 through 2011.

“I proudly endorse Matt Spritz for State Representative,” LeMieux said in a press release. “Matt’s a natural leader, whose energy and commitment to community is refreshing. He’s not afraid to take on tough issues and understands that pro-business policies are absolutely critical to create more jobs for hard working Florida families.”

Spritz faces Delray Beach accountant Michael Caruso in the Republican Primary for the seat, which is currently held by termed-out Republican Rep. Bill Hager. Also running are Democrats James Bonfiglio and Ryan Rossi as well as no-party candidate Deborah Gibson.

“I’m honored and grateful to have the support of Senator LeMieux,” said Spritz. “Senator LeMieux has a distinguished record of leadership and service, both in the public and private sector, fighting for our shared conservative principles and fiscal responsibility. His guidance will be a great asset to our campaign.”

Spritz, an attorney, has previously received endorsements from former state Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff and a half-dozen Republican members of the Florida House.

Through February, the Boca Raton attorney was in the No. 2 spot in money race, with nearly $106,000 on hand in his campaign account and another $30,000 in his committee, Invest in Florida. His total includes $40,000 in loans.

Among Spritz’ February contributions were $1,000 checks from Miami-based Republican strategist David Custin‘s firm, consultant Larry Overton and a political committee tied to the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association.

Caruso took the cash on hand lead last month with another $25,000 in loans and $4,900 in contributions. Overall, he’s dumped $100,000 of his own money into his bid and has about $146,000 in the bank.

Bonfiglio has about $46,000 on hand, followed by Rossi with $5,200 and Gibson with no contributions, though she only filed on Feb. 27.

HD 89 covers coastal Palm Beach County from Singer Island through Boca Raton, where the majority of the district’s voters live.

About 36 percent of the HD 89 electorate are registered Republicans while a third are registered Democrats. Hager won re-election to the House in 2012 and 2014 with 53 percent of the vote. In 2016, his opponent failed to qualify, leaving him unopposed on Election Day.

Bipartisan coalition targets CRC proposal 97

Groups representing both ends of the political spectrum announced they would join forces in opposition to a Constitution Revision Commission proposal that would change the vote threshold for ballot initiatives to pass.

Citizens in Charge, which has backed initiatives imposing term limits on politicians, and Florida Conservation Voters, which pushed the Water and Land Conservation Amendment, both railed against CRC Proposal 97 in a Monday press release.

“Proposal 97 is a brazen effort by Tallahassee special interests to silence voters,” said Citizens in Charge President Paul Jacob. “It’s plain to see that politicians and lobbyists don’t like it when voters enact term limits, cut taxes or make other policy changes by empowering ordinary citizens.”

“Florida voters have a good track record of enacting sensible changes when politicians ignore the will of the people,” added Aliki Moncrief, Executive Director of Florida Conservation Voters.  “When Tallahassee didn’t act, ordinary Floridians were able to take matters into our own hands to protect our water, land, and wildlife. Constitution Revision Commissioners should recognize Proposal 97 for the power grab that it is, and defeat it.”

Prop 97, sponsored by Keiser University vice chancellor and CRC Commissioner Belinda Keiser, would require ballot amendments to get 60 percent of the total vote in an election to pass, rather than 60 percent of those who mark their opinion on their ballot.

In the 2016 election, Floridians cast nearly 9.5 million votes yet only 9.1 million marked “Yes” or “No” on the medical marijuana amendment.

Under Prop 97, the amendment would need to achieve 60 percent support among the 9.5 million voters who participated in the election rather than the 9.1 million who voted for or against it – a difference of nearly a quarter million votes.

Citizens in Charge and Florida Conservation Voters said in the joint press release that the change would make it harder for Florida voters to approve proposed constitutional amendments, by essentially recording a “No” vote any time a voter skips voting on a statewide ballot issue.

The groups also announced a trio of ads – two by Citizens in Charge and one by Florida Conservation voters – to make their opposition known to Florida voters.

“When politicians don’t listen, Florida voters take matters into their own hands,” one of the ads said. “We cut taxes, protected the environment and put term limits on politicians. The people solved problems the politicians wouldn’t and now Tallahassee special interests want to take away voters’ power.”

A recent poll from Clearview Research found 55 percent of voters are in support of the changes, while 27 percent were opposed and 18 percent were unsure.

Clearview head Steve Vancore said the results put Proposal 97 “on the cusp of passing.”

All three ads are below.

Police organization endorses Rob Panepinto in Orange County mayor’s race

The Central Florida Police Benevolent Association has put its endorsement behind Rob Panepinto in the contest for Orange County mayor, his campaign announced Monday.

“The Central Florida Police Benevolent Association proudly announces its endorsement of Rob Panepinto for Orange County Mayor,” CFPBA President Jerry Hagan said in a news release issued by Panepinto’s mayoral campaign. “The CFPBA recognizes that law enforcement is just part of the overall Orange County services and cannot achieve its missions without the other facets of Orange County government. The CFPBA is confident that Rob Panepinto has the complete set of skills, vision and character to lead all of Orange County. We are certain that Rob Panepinto will guide all of Orange County to a higher level.”

The union has members in the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, the Orlando Police Department, and several suburban police departments, but is not the dominant labor organization, or the designated representative in contract negotiations for OCSO or Orlando Police. Local lodges of the Fraternal Order of Police have those distinctions.

Nonetheless, the CFPBA endorsement goes Panepinto’s way even though one of his chief rivals is Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings, who also is a former Orlando chief of police. Orange County Commissioner Pete Clarke also is in the contest.

“I am incredibly honored to have the support of an organization that works so hard to represent our men and women in blue,” Panepinto said. “Our law enforcement officers put their lives on the line each and every day to protect our families and as mayor, I will work to ensure they have the resources, training and funding they need to do their jobs safely.”

In an endorsement letter sent to Panepinto Friday, Hagan said the association will ask its members, their friends and families and “all citizens in Orange County who respect the strong and efficient enforcement of our laws, to cast their ballots in support of Rob Panepinto.”

Greg Steube holding May 2 fundraiser for CD 17 bid

A fundraiser benefitting Republican Sen. Greg Steube’s bid for Florida’s 17th Congressional District will be held May 2 in Sarasota.

The event has will be held in The Tasting Room at Gold Coast Eagle Distributing, 7051 Wireless Court, from 5:30 PM to 7 PM.

Hosting the event are John and Denise Saputo, who own the beer distributor. John Saputo is also a retired U.S. Marines colonel who has been nationally recognized for his philanthropic pursuits.

The event invite lists a minimum contribution of $100 to attend. RSVPs can be sent to Kelly Dowd via Kelly@ElectGregSteube.com.

Steube faces state Rep. Julio Gonzalez and others in the Republican Primary for CD 17, which is opening up this year due to the retirement of U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney. Two Democrats are also currently running for the seat, which has a heavy Republican advantage.

Steube, currently in his first term as a Florida Senator, was the first major candidate to file for CD 17 after Rooney’s announcement and included a long list of early backers in his announcement.

Gonzalez followed after the 2018 Legislative Session wrapped, and the Sarasota lawmakers could be joined by other Republican elected officials who represent different parts of the sprawling nine county district.

The Republican and Democratic primary elections will be held Aug. 28. The general election will be held Nov. 6.

The fundraiser invite is below.

Tina Polsky

Kevin Rader endorses Tina Polsky in HD 81 race

House District 81 candidate Tina Polsky picked up an endorsement over the weekend from Democratic state Sen. Kevin Rader.

“I have been tremendously impressed by Tina’s background and her candidacy. I know that her professional training as a mediator will serve her well in Tallahassee – and ultimately provide many benefits to the people of Palm Beach County,” Rader said in a press release.

“She’ll be a fighter for our community on important issues including gun safety and a woman’s right to choose, as well as an effective advocate for the Glades. I can’t wait to work with Tina on the issues important to all of us.”

The Boca Raton Democrat is a lawyer and mediator and is so far the only candidate running for HD 81, currently held by Democratic Rep. Joe Abruzzo.

Prior to entering the HD 81 race, Polsky was one several candidates who had filed to run in House District 89 in northern Palm Beach County, seeking to succeed term-limited Republican state Rep. Bill Hager.

Accepting the endorsement, Polsky praised Rader’s record of accomplishment in both chambers of the Florida Legislature.

“Senator Rader’s endorsement is especially meaningful to me because he’s not just a talker – he actually delivers for his constituents,” Polsky said. “I know because I’m one of them. He was a wonderful representative of our county in the Florida House and he is now one of the finest and most results-oriented leaders in the Florida Senate. I’m honored to have his backing.”

HD 81 covers part of western Palm Beach County, including the communities of Belle Glade, Pahokee and Parkland. It is a Democratic stronghold.

Abruzzo, a former Florida Senator, has only held the seat for one term but announced last month he would forego re-election to focus on spending time with his young son.

“There is no way I am giving up more than one day with him more than I have to,” he said. “Custody time with my son is the absolute primary reason.”

Through the end of February, Polsky had about $16,500 on hand in her campaign account.

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