2018 election – Page 3 – Florida Politics

Joe Henderson: Timing may never be right again for David Jolly

Because it’s best to never rule out anything in politics, I offer this qualifier: Perhaps the time will come again for David Jolly to make another run for public office.

Having said that, I honestly doubt it.

In a tweet late Tuesday night, Jolly said he won’t try to regain his seat in Congress by challenging U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist in November.

As he noted, “politics is about timing” and given what could be a Democrat tsunami in the November mid-terms, Jolly said he will dedicate his efforts toward being part of a primary challenge in 2020 to Donald Trump.

I like David Jolly and his maverick ways, but the political reality is that he is a man without a party right now. Even as a Congressman from Pinellas County, he angered Republican Party bosses by going rogue on “60 Minutes” with his disgust at how much of his day was spent fund-raising.

After losing his re-election bid in 2016 to Crist, Jolly has made bridge-burning a daily habit – not that he is wrong. He has become a national go-to quote when someone needs a Republican to rip Trump.

He shows up frequently on panels at MSNBC and doesn’t hold back at how he feels Trump is ruining the cause of conservatism and the country.

It makes for compelling theater, and Jolly does make a reasoned argument that the Trump presidency is a disaster and our political system is broken.

But speaking the truth can have consequences, and Jolly would surely face them if he ever tried to run for national office again. Democrats wouldn’t support him over one of their own, and Republicans would shun him like he had typhoid.

Maybe he could run for state office, but he likely still would face those same obstacles. Even if he were elected, he would likely be a pariah in his own party once he reported to work.

He could follow the Crist model and change parties, but that doesn’t seem to be his style. What Jolly seems to want is for the Republican Party to come to its senses and reject the kind of extremism that has been the Trump brand.

Good luck with that.

It likely will take a ballot-box slaughter in November and maybe one in 2020 as well for any sort of reasoned moderation to take hold in the GOP. By that time, Democrats could be back in control while Republicans search for a new identity that doesn’t scare the crap out of voters and our allies.

Where does that leave David Jolly?

For at least the time being, it leaves him right where he is – on the front line of visible opposition to his own party. It leaves him to fight an uphill battle to restore some conservative sanity to the GOP message.

And it leaves him as a politician without an election.

Like I said, we learned in 2016 that anything can happen in politics, so never say never. Right now though, Jolly will have to be content to call it like he sees it from the sidelines. He can only hope someone is paying attention.

interim Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister

Chad Chronister raises another $31K for Hillsborough Sheriff race

Sitting Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister brought in $31,445 last month for his campaign to win a full term in the job.

Chronister brought in the money across 123 contributions, including 18 checks for $1,000.

Among the top donors for the month were Tampa Honda, Netterfield’s Popcorn and Lemonade, The Leytham Group, Parks Advocacy Group, Four M Auto Sales & Leasing and Yellow Cab of Tampa.

The Chronister campaign also spent $17,314 in February, with the biggest expenditure weighing in at $3,371 for campaign shirts. The shirts were part of $7,700 in payments to Strategic Image Management, which also provided website hosting, consulting services and office supplies.

Also on the ledger was a $3,210 payment to World of Beer for catering, and $2,152 to EventLive for event management. Campaign staff made up the bulk of the rest of February’s outflow.

In all, Chronister finished the month with nearly $535,000 on hand in his campaign account. Since filing in October, he’s raised a total of $591,188.

Chronister, a Republican, has been with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office since 1992 and was a colonel before the retirement of longtime lawman David Gee in 2017, which landed him the job as interim sheriff. He filed for election a day after he was sworn in.

He is running against Democrat Gary Allen Pruitt and no-party candidate Juan Rivera, neither of whom have made put up much of a fight on the fundraising trail.

Pruitt, a retired Tampa Police Department corporal, raised $0 last month and has shown only a single self-contribution of $200 since filing in November. He has about $25 in his campaign account.

Rivera, a retired CIA officer, added no money in February, but has raised $722 since filing and has $120 on hand.

Mike McCalister enters Agriculture Commissioner race

Mike McCalister entered the race for Florida Agriculture Commissioner, setting up a four-way Republican primary to replace Adam Putnam, who is termed-out and running for Governor.

Florida Politics previously reported that McCalister, a retired Army Colonel, was eyeing a run for the seat with a decision to come in early spring.

McCalister got some name recognition when he ran for governor in 2010, the same year Rick Scott won his first term, and when he ran for U.S. Senate in 2012. He took 10 percent in the Republican Primary for governor — more than 130,000 votes — despite spending less than $10,000 on his campaign.

Chatter about McCalister launching another campaign for statewide office grew loud early in the year as he made stops at Republican clubs and town hall meetings.

His efficiency in 2010 will come in handy in the Ag Commissioner race, where each of his three primary opponents has crossed the $1 million mark in total fundraising.

McCalister joins Lehigh Acres Rep Matt Caldwell, Sebring Sen. Denise Grimsley and former Winter Haven Rep. Baxter Troutman in the Republican Primary for the Cabinet position. Also running are Democrats Jeffrey Porter, David Walker and Thomas White.

Troutman leads the field in fundraising due to a $2.5 million self-contribution. He has $2.7 million on hand, followed by Caldwell with $1.11 million and Grimsley with about $910,000.

The primary election is in late August.

Bryan Nelson knocks Joe Kilsheimer from Apopka mayor’s office

Orange County Commissioner Bryan Nelson was elected mayor of Apopka Tuesday, ended the tenure of Mayor Joe Kilsheimer after one four-year term.

Nelson, a one-term county commissioner who previously served in the Florida House of Representatives, defeated Kilsheimer 61 to 38 percent, with a voter turnout of about 20.5 percent, with just over 6,400 votes cast in Orange County’s second-largest city. In unofficial results posted Tuesday night by the Orange County Supervisor of Elections, Nelson drew 2,786 votes, and Kilsheimer 1,733.

Nelson is an insurance agent with deep family roots in Apopka, who had eschewed the chance to run for a second term, to run instead for the Apopka mayor’s office, a gambit that paid off.

He will be sworn in on April 24.

The election campaign was in part a contest between the new establishment brought into office by Kilsheimer and the city’s previous establishment rallying around Nelson, which had centered around the legendary, late John Land, who had served as mayor for 61 of the previous 64 years before Kilsheimer defeated him in in 2014.

In other municipal elections in Orange County, two multi-candidate Apopka City Council races headed for run-off elections on April 10; Commissioner Rosemary Wilsen and George Oliver III were elected in Ocoee City Commission races; and Jim Partin was elected to the Belle Isle City Council.

Suzanne Kidd and Alexander Smith survived the first-round election in Apopka’s District 1, with Kidd drawing about 39 percent, and Smith 29 percent. Eliminated Tuesday were Gene Knight and Theresa Mott.

In the Apopka District 2 contest, incumbent City Commissioner Diane Velazquez, seeking re-election, and Alice Nolan survived to met again, with Velazquez getting 40 percent and Nolan, 39. Ousted in that race were Alicia Koutsoulieris and Leroy Bell.

In Ocoee, Wilsen easily won re-election to her District 2 seat on the City Commission, defeating Robert Rivera 75 percent to 25 percent.

However, in Ocoee’s other contest, an incumbent was defeated. Oliver beat Commissioner Joel Keller by 53 percent to 47 percent, or 369 to 328 in the unofficial vote total.

Turnout in Ocoee was only 8 percent.

In Belle Isle, Partin beat Andrew Thompson 59-41 in unofficial results There also were 13 charter amendment proposals in Belle Isle, and they all were approved. Turnout in Belle Isle was about 16 percent.

Hillsborough Commissioners hold big leads in re-election battles

February fundraising reports show the four sitting Hillsborough County Commissioners who’ll be on the ballot in 2018 are far ahead in fundraising for their respective races.

Commissioner Ken Hagan’s campaign account is the most flush of all, with more $458,000 in the bank, including $3,750 raised last month.

Hagan, a Republican, currently holds the countywide District 5 seat on the commission but faces term limits and is running instead for the District 2 seat in the fall.

Challengers Angela Birdsong, a Democrat, and Chris Paradies, a Republican, haven’t made much of an impact on the campaign trail compared to Hagan, though each brought in more than $2,000 last month.

After raising $2,896 and spending $973 in February, Paradies has about $15,000 on hand. Birdsong added $2,275 last month and spent $2,037 for an on-hand total of $1,563.

In the District 4 race, Commissioner Stacy White continued outgunning Democratic challenger Andrew Davis.

White raised $3,751 last month and spent nothing, leaving his campaign account with more than $125,000 heading into March.

Davis tacked on $515 and spent $86, putting him at about $1,800 on hand.

District 2 Commissioner Victor Crist faces a bit more of a challenge for the District 5 seat, which he’s looking to take over from Hagan.

He’s raised $77,905 so far this cycle, including $1,000 last month, and has a little over $60,000 in the bank.

His closest challenger, Democrat Mariella Smith, brought in $5,890 in February and has raised $45,713 since entering the contest in January.

She topped the eight-person field last month, with Democrat Mark Nash the only other candidate to top $1,000 in their new report. He has about $40,000 on hand.

Democrat Elvis Piggot took the third-place spot for the month with $900 raised, followed by Republican Angel Urbina Capo with $100 and Democrat Jamela Passmore with $95. Republican Timothy Curtis and write-in candidate George Nieman showed no money in their reports.

In the District 7 race Republican Commissioner Sandra Murman is lightyears ahead of her four challengers with nearly $155,000 on hand.

Murman currently holds the District 1 seat, but is switching over to the countywide district for 2018.

She added $4,900 last month and spent $1,950.

Her closest competitor, Democrat Kimberly Overman, showed $3,530 raised in her new report and has collected about $18,000 since she filed for the seat in August. She has $11,377 in the bank.

The reports trail off significantly after Overman. Democrat Sky White brought in $1,105 and has $2,549 on hand, followed by Republican Cherie Denham with $70 in February and $350 in the bank. Democrat Cory Reynolds and Republican Charles Davis have not posted any contributions since entering the race.

Kathleen Peters, Pat Gerard maintain leads in Pinellas Commission races

February campaign finance reports show Pat Gerard and state Rep. Kathleen Peters are firmly in the lead in the races for the District 2 and District 6 seats on the Pinellas County Commission.

Gerard, a Democrat and the incumbent District 2 commissioner, raised $4,650 last month, putting her campaign a couple hundred dollars shy of the $100,000 mark since she filed in June. Heading into March, she had nearly $80,000 in the bank.

Her opponent for the fall, Republican Doreen Caudell, raised an even $1,000 last month and spent triple that to finish February with just shy of $45,000 on hand.

Gerard took in 34 contributions in February, including a $500 check from Largo surgeon Stephen Weinstock. Another seven donors pitched in $250 each, while a dozen small-dollar donors gave contributions of less than $100.

Spending registered at $2,286 for the month, all of which went to Blue Ticket Consulting.

In the District 6 commission race, Peters posted $0 in contributions for the month due to her status as a lawmaker and spent $1,416.

The report left her with about $65,000 in the bank – more than her two opponents combined.

Peters faces fellow Republicans Barb Haselden and state Rep. Larry Ahern in the District 6 race.

Ahern also posted $0 raised last month and spent $1,145, leaving him with $28,196 in the bank. Haselden, who operates St. Pete-based Hometown Insurors, raised $392 and spent $1,927 in February to finish the month with $29,270 on hand.

Also up for election in 2018 is the District 4 commission seat currently held by Commissioner Dave Eggers, who is so far unopposed in his re-election bid.

He’s raised $6,878 for his campaign thus far, though he didn’t add any money in February. He finished the month with $6,315 on hand.

Ardian Zika

Jeff Brandes backs Ardian Zika for state House

House District 37 frontrunner Ardian Zika picked up an endorsement Tuesday from St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes.

“Ardian Zika is a conservative Republican who knows what it takes to build a business, make payroll and grow our economy,” Brandes said in a press release. “Ardian’s story – how he left a civil war-torn country to seek freedom and opportunity in the United States – is an inspiration to me.

“I’m optimistic that the voters of House District 37 will also be inspired by Ardian’s story and will enthusiastically support him. Ardian’s life is proof that if you work hard and play by the rules you will have opportunity and be able to realize the American Dream. Ardian Zika has my strong support and endorsement this election and I hope he can count on you.”

Zika, a Republican, is one of five candidates running for HD 37, currently held by House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who faces term limits in 2018.

Past endorsements for Zika include Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson and former House Speaker Will Weatherford.

“I am honored to have Florida Senator Jeff Brandes’ endorsement this election,” Zika said. “Senator Brandes has led efforts to modernize Florida’s laws to allow for the development of autonomous vehicle technology, and provide for app based services which provide great convenience to our lives.

“Senator Brandes is also a free-market, principled, fiscally conservative leader in the Florida Senate and we share many common values. I am humbled and grateful for Senator Brandes’ support this election.”

Zika faces Elle Rudisill, Bill Gunter and Ryan Patrick Boney in the Republican Primary for the Pasco County-based seat. Also running is Democrat Tammy Garcia.

Through the end of February, Zika held a commanding lead in the fundraising race with $157,424 raised and $149,088 cash on hand.

His next closest competitor, Rudisill, has raised $13,508 and has $13,265 in the bank, while Gunter’s total fundraising was $7,885 when he last reported contributions in November. He had $4,421 on hand at that time.

Boney has not yet reported any contributions and Garcia, who faces an up-hill battle in the GOP stronghold, has $3,550 on hand.

HD 37 covers the majority of inland Pasco County, including the communities of Land O’ Lakes, Odessa, Heritage Pines, Shady Hills, Meadow Oaks and Moon Lake.

The electorate is about 43 percent Republican, and 29 percent Democrat with 24 percent belonging to no party. Corcoran hasn’t faced a major-party challenger since the seat was redrawn in 2012.

Ron DeSantis: Russia may be malevolent but no collusion with Trump campaign

Appearing on Fox News Tuesday morning, Republican Florida gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis defended the House Intelligence Committee’s Republican declaration Monday that it was ending its Russia probe after concluding there had been no collusion with Russia by the presidential campaign of Donald Trump.

DeSantis, a congressman from Ponte Vedra Beach, said he thinks the Russians’ activities “are malevolent” but he charged that the Democrats politicized the investigation by making it about Trump, and said it is time to move on.

“There’s no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. We’ve got to move on to that,” DeSantis said. “Now, Russian activity, I think they are malevolent, and I think we should try to deal with that in one voice,” DeSantis said on Fox News’ “Happening Now” show.

DeSantis faces Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in the Aug. 28 Republican primary, with the expected additional entry into the Republican race of Florida Speaker of the House Richard Corcoran.

“But I think the problem with this is since Trump was elected it was politicized and the Democrats tried to lump Trump in with some type of nefarious Russian activity. And there’s just no basis for that other than the Steele dossier, which is not verified. There has never been evidence put forward. They’ve been doing this for over a year. They made the right decision. It’s time to move on.”

DeSantis did not make any references to the ongoing independent investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, or the four members of Trump’s campaign team who have been indicted in Mueller’s Russia probe.

Joe Lopez, John Mina each raise about $20K in first month of Orange County sheriff’s race

Retired Florida Highway Patrol Chief Jose “Joe” Lopez and Orlando Police Chief John Mina each raised about $20,000 in the first month of the Orange County sheriff’s race.

Lopez, of Orlando, is reporting that he brought in $20,263.93, including $3,888.93 for professional campaign services during February. His campaign spent $256 leaving it with about $16,119 in cash heading into March.

Mina, of Ocoee, reported raising $19,926 and spending $1,667.05 in a campaign that began in mid-February. His campaign entered March with about $18,258.

Both candidates are registered Democrats. Mina is running as an independent and Lopez is expected to change his filing to also run as an independent in the partisan election.

A third candidate, retired Orange County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Thomas Stroup, dropped out of the race a little more than a week ago after just over a month. In February he had raised about $14,500 including in-kind contributions.

They officially are running for the 2020 election, but that is expected to be moved up to 2018. Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings is running for Orange County mayor and by June he is expected to announce his resignation, to take effect at the end of the year, in order to qualify for the mayor’s office race. That would trigger a special election for sheriff this fall.

Mikaela Nix raises $20K in first month in HD 47 race

New Republican candidate Mikaela Nix of Orlando raised more than $20,000 in her first month of campaigning for Florida’s House District 47 seat.

Nix, a lawyer, drew more than 70 donations to her campaign including nine maximum $1,000 checks, many of them coming from a Feb. 21 fundraiser.

She’s facing Winter Park businessman Stockton Reeves VI in the Aug. 28 Republican primary fight to run in HD 47, which is being vacated by Republican state Rep. Mike Miller of Winter Park, who’s running for Congress. The Democratic candidate is Anna Eskamani. The district covers central Orange County.

Nix’s $20,000 surpasses the $15,800 raised in February by Eskamani and the $9,400 raised by Reeves. Both of them, however, have been in the race since last summer, and entered March with more than $100,000 in the bank.

“I’m incredibly humbled by the generous support from so many people, especially for a newcomer like Me,” Nix stated in a news release from her campaign. “I”m very encouraged by the enthusiastic response I’m receiving. I think people are responding to my conservative pro-job, low tax, pro-vocational education message. And we’re just getting started.”

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