2018 election – Page 4 – Florida Politics

Vern Buchanan bought yacht after voting for House version of GOP tax bill

A recently filed financial disclosure shows U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan celebrated passing the House version of the Republican tax bill in quite the lavish way.

According to the disclosure, Buchanan spent between $1 million and $5 million purchasing an Ocean Alexander yacht on Nov. 16, 2017, the same day he joined 226 other Republicans and no Democrats in voting for the first draft of the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.”

The final tax bill passed Congress on Dec. 20 and was signed into law by President Donald Trump two days later.

While the tax plan was pitched as helping the middle class, it does so only minimally and temporarily if at all. For the nation’s highest earners and for corporations, however, it was a magnanimous change in policy.

Count Buchanan among those benefitting bigly.

It’s no secret that Buchanan, who represents Florida’s 16th Congressional District, is a wealthy man. According to a Roll Call report, his $73.9 million net worth makes him the eighth wealthiest member of Congress, and by far the wealthiest from the Sunshine State — U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney is $19 million behind in the No. 11 spot. That list might not be up to date, however, as U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney has a listed net worth of $22 million even though many estimate his worth in the hundreds of millions if not over $1 billion.

Given his net worth and income, progressive group Tax March estimated that the bill would save him up to $2.1 million on his taxes.

That’s most of the way to a yacht, which likely trended toward the higher end of the reported range given that Ocean Alexander’s least expensive model — the 70-foot 70E Motoryacht — has a base price of $3.25 million.

Max Goodman, a spokesman for Buchanan, said news of the yacht purchase is part of a “coordinated attack” four months before the election. The purchase was disclosed on paperwork filed by Buchanan on May 15.

“It’s no coincidence that this partisan smear comes at the same time a dark money group is airing a TV ad against Vern that is so dishonest one newspaper called it ‘stunning in its deception.’ Vern has owned boats for more than 20 years and it’s no secret to his constituents that he has lived the American Dream,” he said.

Buchanan hasn’t said much about the tax plan in the months since it passed, though as chair of the Tax Policy Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee he played a key role in crafting the legislation.

Nor has he said much about his party affiliation — in the TV ads he’s released for his re-election campaign, he’s cast himself as an effective bipartisan lawmaker and as an independent leader without ever mentioning that he’s a Republican.

Though he’s hit TV early in his re-election bid, Buchanan is facing a serious challenge in the fall in a district that has no more of a Republican lean than House District 72, where Democratic Rep. Margaret Good defeated his son, James Buchanan, in a special election held earlier this year.

Outside group Floridians for a Fair Shake recently put more than $600,000 behind an ad criticizing Buchanan’s support of the GOP tax bill. The group also chartered a plane to fly along the district’s coast with a banner criticizing the congressman’s votes to “sabotage” the Affordable Care Act.

Buchanan is likely to face Sarasota attorney David Shapiro, a Democrat, in the November general election. He took to twitter shortly after news of Buchanan’s yacht purchase broke.

Through the end of the second quarter, Shapiro had raised more than $1 million for his campaign. Buchanan has raised more than $1.4 million, including $640,000 in Q2, but his campaign started with plenty of leftover funds from the 2016 election cycle. He has $2.5 million at the ready.

CD 16 covers all of Manatee County, southwestern Hillsborough County and northern Sarasota County. University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato‘s Crystal Ball rates the district as “likely Republican” in the fall.

Jeff Kottkamp hosting Adam Putnam fundraiser Thursday

Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam will be raising money in Southwest Florida Thursday evening alongside former Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp.

Kottkamp, who was former Gov. Charlie Crist’s No. 2, and his wife, Cyndie, are hosting the fundraiser at their North Fort Myers home. The reception is set to get underway at 5:30 p.m.

Joining Kottkamp, also a former member of the Florida House, are a slew of Republican elected officials, including state Reps. Dane Eagle, Heather Fitzenhagen, Mike Grant and Ray Rodrigues, Olympian and Fort Myers City Councilmember Lin Bochette as well as Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott, one of 45 Republican county sheriffs who has endorsed Putnam.

The event invite sets the minimum suggested contribution at $500, while those looking to join the host committee will need to pony up $2,500. Those looking to attend can let the Putnam campaign know by contacting Meredith O’Rourke via Meredith@AdamPutnam.com or 561-818-6064.

Putnam, currently in his second term as Agriculture Commissioner, was the first-in Republican in the race to succeed term-limited Gov. Rick Scott.

To-date, the Bartow Republican has raised nearly $34 million between his campaign and political committee, Florida Grown PC. He had more than $15.75 million banked as of June 29. That puts him far ahead of all other candidates for Governor, including U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, his only major primary challenger.

DeSantis, who has the support of President Donald Trump, has raised about $12.5 million including money transferred in from his now-defunct re-election campaign for Florida’s 6th Congressional District. He had $6.93 million at the ready on June 29.

The fundraiser invite is below.

FMA PAC prescribes another term for Dana Young

The political branch of the Florida Medical Association has endorsed Tampa Republican Sen. Dana Young for re-election in Senate District 18.

“The FMA PAC is proud to endorse Senator Dana Young in her re-election bid in Senate District 18. Senator Young is a true friend of medicine and her leadership in both the House and Senate throughout her distinguished legislative career has proven her steadfast support of our issues,” said Dr. Mike Patete, president of FMA PAC.

The FMA endorsement is Young’s third big get of the week. On Monday, she landed the support of the Florida Realtors PAC, and on Tuesday she snagged her fifth police union endorsement, this time from the Florida State Lodge Fraternal Order of Police.

“Thank you to the Florida Medical Association for their endorsement and for their resolute guidance in enabling physicians to serve their communities and deliver compassionate patient care across the great state of Florida. I look forward to our continued partnership in improving patient care and controlling escalating costs for patients,” Young said in a press release.

Young is facing possibly the toughest re-election battle in the Senate this year. Her district is No. 1 on the Florida Democratic Party’s priority list and is the only one out of FDP’s six targets (now five with the exit of CarriePilon in SD 24) that went for Hillary Clinton two years ago.

Young is up against House Minority Leader Janet Cruz in November, and recent polls show the pair in a dead heatwith Cruz holding a slim edge.

In fundraising, however, Young is far outperforming her challenger.

She had $309,000 in hard money at last check-in. Her committee, Friends of Dana Young, which must file reports more frequently than her campaign, brought in another $77,000 in the last week of June and has $1.05 at the ready. That gives her a total stockpile of $1.36 million.

Cruz has about $140,000 in hard money, much of it raised for her now-defunct Hillsborough County Commission bid, with another $256,000 in her political committee, Building the Bay PC, for an on-hand total of about $396,000.

The next round of campaign finance reports for state legislative races, covering June 23 through July 6, are due Friday.

Election Day is Nov. 6.

Round-up: South Florida Republicans reel in endorsements

Tuesday brought endorsements for three Republican candidates running for state legislative seats in the fall, including two sitting lawmakers.

In the race for Senate District 36, Hialeah Republican Rep. Manny Diaz Jr. added an endorsement from Miami-Dade County Commissioner Estaban “Steve” Bobo.

“Manny Diaz really cares about this community, and I am very happy to support him for the Florida Senate,” said Bovo. “He has been a strong leader for us in the House, and I’m confident he’ll continue his forward-thinking, people-oriented approach to legislation in the Senate. I look forward to continuing to work with him.”

Diaz is the lone Republican candidate in the race for SD 36, which is currently held by term-limited Republican Sen. Rene Garcia. He’ll face the winner of the Democratic primary between David Perez and Julian Santos in the Nov. 6 general election.

“I am honored to have the support of a dedicated public servant like Steve Bovo,” said Diaz. “He has been working hard for years to make our community an even better place to live and work, and I look forward to continuing our strong working relationship.”

In the Treasure Coast’s House District 83, Palm City Republican Toby Overdorf snagged a nod from Ken De Angeles, who serves as president of the Town of Ocean Breeze Council.

“Toby Overdorf is the clear choice in this race,” said De Angeles. “He knows our community, and he’s got the work ethic and conservative vision and principles that we need in Tallahassee. I’m proud to support him, and I urge my fellow citizens to do the same.”

Overdorf faces a primary challenge from Sasha Dadan in the Martin and St. Lucie County district. The winner of the primary will move on to face Democrat Matt Theobald in the general. The Republican-leaning seat is open due to Stuart Republican Rep. Gayle Harrell, who is running for state Senate, hitting term limits.

“I’m proud to have Ken De Angeles’s support,” said Overdorf. “He has been an important member of this community for many years, and I’m grateful for his service and honored to have him on our team. I look forward to working with him to make sure our area’s best interests are represented in Tallahassee.”

In neighboring House District 82, Tequesta Republican Rep. MaryLynn “ML” Magar picked up the support of Florida Right to Life in her quest for a fourth term.

Florida Right to Life is a hardline pro-life group that opposes all abortion regardless of circumstance. Its political arm, which works to identify and educated pro-life candidates, issued letters to candidates this week saying their endorsement “indicates that you are the best pro-life candidate in the race and is a recommendation that our members and supporters vote for you.”

Magar faces Democrat Edward O’Connor in her last re-election bid to the Florida House before she hits term limits.

“The right to life is paramount,” said Magar. “I am proud to have the endorsement of Florida Right to Life, which has worked tirelessly for so many years to create a culture of life in Florida. I look forward to continuing to work with them to make sure the Sunshine State is a place where life at every stage — from conception to natural death — is honored and protected.”

HD 82 is a heavily Republican district covering most of Martin County as well as a slice of Palm Beach County.

Buchanan TV ad

Vern Buchanan touts bipartisan record in new ad

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan has put out a new TV ad in his Sarasota-based district highlighting his “effective and bipartisan record” representing Florida’s 16th Congressional District.

The 30-second spot, titled “Effective Leader,” has started airing on cable and local television stations throughout Sarasota, Manatee and Hillsborough counties.

“In a town notorious for gridlock and dysfunction, this man stands apart,” the ad narrator states. “Congressman Vern Buchanan, rated one of the nation’s most effective lawmakers. A successful businessman, Buchanan brought his ‘can do’ attitude to Congress. Vern believes nothing is impossible if we work together. Vern Buchanan: Effective, bipartisan, getting the job done.”

Interspersed among the clips of Buchanan talking to constituents are several news clippings backing up Buchanan’s claims of effectiveness and bipartisanship.

Those articles mostly reference his high scores from The Center for Effective Lawmaking, which ranked him in the top 12 percent for effectiveness based on his legislative accomplishments — he has the best score of any current Republican from Florida. Also cited is a recent study from The Luger Center that put him the top 15 percent for bipartisanship among for the 115th Congress.

Though CD 16 is considered a moderately safe Republican seat, Buchanan has shied away from throwing red meat at to the GOP base this campaign cycle. His previous ads have heralded him as an “independent leader” and highlighted his record combating the opioid epidemic while not calling attention to his party affiliation.

He’s likely to face Sarasota attorney David Shapiro, a Democrat, in the November general election.

Through the end of the second quarter, Buchanan had about $2.5 million in campaign funds at the ready. Shapiro has not yet announced his Q2 haul, but he had about $500,000 in the bank at the end of the first quarter.

CD 16 all of Manatee County, southwestern Hillsborough County and northern Sarasota County. University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato‘s Crystal Ball rates the district as “likely Republican” in the fall.

Buchanan’s ad is below.

Greyhound racing ban backers ante up in June

The political committee backing a ballot measure to ban greyhound racing in Florida took in more than $250,000 last month, with much of that cash coming in from a pair of national groups.

The Committee to Protect Dogs showed more than $165,000 in contributions between June 1 and June 22, and Grey2K USA Worldwide easily topped the report with a $100,000 check and another $10,000-plus worth of “in-kind” support covering staffing, supplies and travel.

The next report turned in by the committee, covering June 23 through June 29, clocked in at $102,237 and included a $100,000 check from The Humane Society of the United States.

Much of the remaining June money came in via a $50,000 check from the Santa Barbara, Calif.- based K-M Revocable Trust, though numerous small-dollar donors chipped in as well, including a couple dozen at the $13 level, a nod to the greyhound ban’s status as Amendment 13 on the 2018 ballot.

In all, the Committee to Protect Dogs has raised $317,756 since it opened in mid-March. It had about $296,000 on hand on June 29.

The greyhound ban, which was placed on the ballot by the Constitutional Revision Commission, is one of 13 measures that will go before voters in the 2018 general election. Proposed amendments need at least 60 percent approval to be added to the state constitution.

Amendment 13 is being opposed by the Florida Greyhound Association, a coalition of greyhound owners and trainers. The group has challenged the proposed amendment in court; a trial is set for next month in Tallahassee.

Frank White releases ad touting Florida Right to Life endorsement

Republican Attorney General candidate Frank White announced an endorsement from Florida Right to Life Tuesday by rolling out a new campaign ad.

The hardline pro-life group, which opposes all abortion even in cases of rape or incest, sent the Pensacola Republican a letter saying that their endorsement “indicates that you are the best pro-life candidate in the race and is a recommendation that our members and supporters vote for you.”

White, who works as general counsel and chief financial officer for his father-in-law’s auto dealership chain, included that endorsement letter in an announcement touting his credentials as a pro-life candidate.

“I am 100 percent pro-life. Our Constitution’s primary purpose is to protect our God given rights, including the right to life. As Attorney General, I’ll ensure defending the rights of the unborn is a priority just as I have throughout my career,” White said. “My wife Stephanie is an adoption attorney and has dedicated her life to finding forever homes for children. For our family, we don’t just talk about being conservative. It’s our way of life.”

The announcement also included a new video ad featuring Stephanie White talking about her career and her husband’s pro-life stance.

“Soon after Frank and I got married, life threw us a surprise and blessed us with twin boys. I decided to pursue a career as an adoption attorney and child advocate,” she says in the ad. “Like me, Frank believes that all life is precious. That’s why he’s spent his career fighting for the unborn and those who can’t defend themselves.”

The ad then turns over to Frank White, who says he believes “that life begins at conception” and that “the most vulnerable people in our society are unborn children.”

Stephanie White continues, “For us, our conservative values aren’t just words. They are a way of life.”

White is one of two Republicans running to succeed term-limited Attorney General Pam Bondi in the fall. He faces former Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Ashley Moody, who has Bondi’s support, in the primary.

White has put more than $2.7 million of his own money behind his campaign. As of June 22, White had about $2.4 banked, while Moody had about $2.2 million.

The winner of the Aug. 28 Republican primary will likely face Tampa Democratic Rep. Sean Shaw in the Nov. 6 general election. Two recent polls show Shaw leading both Moody and White among likely general election voters.

White’s ad is below.

Wengay Newton scores clean bill of health from FMA PAC

St. Petersburg Democratic Rep. Wengay “Newt” Newton landed his second major backer in as many days in his bid for a second term in House District 70.

Tuesday’s endorsement came in from the political arm of the Florida Medical Association, FMA PAC, which picked him out of the three Democrats running for the Pinellas-based seat.

“The FMA PAC is proud to endorse Rep. Newton for re-election in House District 70. As a member of the Health Quality Subcommittee, we had the opportunity to work closely with him on important healthcare issues for our state and know that he will be a friend of medicine,” said Dr. Mike Patete, president of FMA PAC.

The FMA nod comes one day after the Florida Retailers named Newton as one of several dozen lawmakers it recommends for re-election in the fall.

“I am honored to receive the endorsement of the Florida physicians and the Florida Medical Association for my re-election campaign to the Florida House of Representatives, District 70. Serving on the Health Quality Subcommittee, I look forward to working with the physicians of Florida on the critical health care issues that face us today,” Newton said.

Newton, a former member of the St. Petersburg City Council, was first elected to the Florida House in 2016, succeeding now-Sen. Darryl Rouson in HD 70, which covers pieces of Hillsborough, Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota counties including chunks of St. Pete and Sarasota as well as the communities of Memphis, Samoset and Ruskin.

In 2018, Newton faces Vito Sheeley and Keisha Bell in the Democratic primary. Since only Democrats qualified for the ballot, all HD 70 voters will be able to cast a ballot in the primary.

As of June 22, Newton led the field with $36,716 raised and $21,376 in the bank, with a boost expected later this month thanks to a July 19 fundraiser being hosted by St. Pete philanthropists Bob and Susan Churuti. Sheely, who entered the race a year ago, has raised $15,513 and has $5,930 in the bank. Bell, who filed in February, has raised $10,302 and has $3,429 on hand.

The primary election is Aug. 28.

Berny Jacques cracks $200K raised for HD 66 campaign

Seminole Republican Berny Jacques notched another fundraising milestone in his bid to succeed term-limited Rep. Larry Ahern in Pinellas County’s House District 66.

New fundraising reports show Jacques has raised more than $200,000 for his 2018 effort, including $121,565 in hard money and another $81,100 for his affiliated political committee, Protect Pinellas. He has $139,600 in the bank.

“This is how campaigns are won, plain and simple. Our team of dedicated volunteers and I have been out talking to voters and knocking on doors for over a year, and our message of principled conservatism is resonating with the voters of Pinellas,” Jacques said. “Our campaign is proud to have reached this meaningful fundraising milestone as we head into the fourth quarter of this campaign. We’re looking forward to the weeks ahead!”

Jacques is one of three candidates running for House District 66, which includes part of Clearwater, Belleair, Indian Rocks Beach and Indian Shores.

He faces small businessman and Pinellas GOP Chair Nick DiCeglie in the Republican primary, while school teacher Alex Heeren has already locked up the Democratic nomination.

DiCeglie has raised $121,656 for his campaign since entering the race in September and has $80,407 banked. Heeren has raised $25,294 since he filed in January and he has $8,524 on hand.

Ahern’s successor is likely to be the winner of the Republican primary due to the district’s strong Republican advantage. To that end, Jacques and DiCeglie have been dueled on the endorsement front throughout much of their competition.

Jacques most recently landed a nod from the Seminole Professional Firefighters, with past endorsements including etired Air Force Col. EJ Otero Seminole City Councilmember Roger Edelman, former Pinellas County School Board Member Glen Gilzean and Largo Commissioner and former police chief John Carroll, among others.

DiCeglie most recently landed the endorsement of the Florida Realtors, with his roster of backers including the Sun Coast Police Benevolent Association, Pinellas County Commissioner Dave Eggers, Pinellas County Clerk Ken Burke, Largo Mayor Woody Brown, Largo Commissioner Curtis Holmes and three Indian Rocks Beach commissioners.

For his part, Heeren landed a trio of endorsements Monday from Pinellas County Commissioner Charlie Justice and Pinellas County School Board Members Rene Flowers and Linda Lerner. They a few other local politicians in backing the Democratic option.

The primary election is Aug. 28. The general election is Nov. 6.

‘Lies and videotapes’: Mike Miller releases video dossier on GOP opponent

Mike Miller’s campaign for Congress on Tuesday launched a website — “The Sturgill Files” — compiling videos spotlighting Miller’s GOP primary opponent, Scott Sturgill

The archive covers Sturgill’s “2014 attempt to hide his record of being a Democrat by falsely claiming he was a ‘lifelong Republican,’ his plan to grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants, his backing of gun control measures and his support for expanding Obamacare by $51 billion in Florida,” a press release said.

“Republican voters need to know that Scott Sturgill would oppose many of President Trump’s most important initiatives, and now they can hear it directly from him,” said Dana Loncar, spokeswoman for the Miller campaign.

Sturgill, a Sanford businessman, and Miller will battle in the Aug. 28 Republican primary for a chance to take on Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy in Central Florida’s 7th Congressional District.

It covers Seminole County and north-central Orange County. There also are a couple other Republicans and another Democrat in the field.

Murphy surprised much of the political establishment when she flipped it in 2016 after Republican U.S. Rep. John Mica had held it for 24 years, demonstrating the district’s changing status from what had been solidly Republican red to purple.

Miller, of Winter Park, now represents District 47 in the Florida House of Representatives, where he’s vice chair of the Local, Federal & Veterans Affairs Subcommittee and the Tourism & Gaming Control Subcommittee. He was first elected to the House in 2014.

Loncar added: “Real conservatives don’t support amnesty for millions and the expansion of Obamacare.

“Having voted all four years for a balanced budget in Tallahassee, Mike Miller supports a constitutional amendment to balance the federal budget. Miller also wants to protect the Trump tax cuts and end the Russia collusion investigation,” Loncar said.


Background for this post taken from previously published reports by Orlando correspondent Scott Powers. Powers is on vacation this week.

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