2018 election Archives - Page 4 of 135 - Florida Politics
Keith Perry

Bill Galvano helping Keith Perry raise re-election cash in Tallahassee

Incoming Senate President Bill Galvano will host a fundraiser for Gainesville Republican Sen. Keith Perry in Tallahassee next week.

The Sept. 20 reception will be held at the Florida Retail Federation office, 226 S. Adams St., from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Making the host committee alongside Senate Appropriations Chair Rob Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican, Elkton Republican Sen. Travis Hutson and Melissa Ramba, FRF’s VP of Government Affairs.

Those looking to attend the fundraiser can direct their RSVPs to Skylar Swanson via Skylar@VoteKeithPerry.com or (352) 888-5770.

Perry was elected to Senate District 8 in 2016 with a 5-point victory over former Florida Democratic Party chair and former Sen. Rod Smith. Due to new Senate maps, Perry has to run for re-election after serving just two years.

In 2018 he will face Democratic nominee Kayser Enneking, a Gainesville physician, and former Gainesville City Commissioner Charles Goston, a Democrat who filed for the seat as an unaffiliated candidate.

Through the end of August, Perry had raised more than $500,000 in hard money and another $231,500 through his political committee, Building a Prosperous Florida, and had about $525,000 in the bank between the two accounts. His campaign has also received more than $425,000 worth of “in kind” support from the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, a party affiliated committee chaired by Galvano that aims to maintain the Republican majority in the state Senate.

By comparison, Enneking has raised $412,500 in hard money and another $175,000 through her political committee, Florida Knows Excellence, and had about $235,000 in the bank at the end of the month — her campaign had to shell out about $132,500 during the closing weeks of her primary race against Gainesville Democrat Olysha Magruder in order to combat a massive “dark money” campaign funded by Republican operatives.

Enneking has also received about $129,000 worth of “in kind” support from the Florida Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, the fundraising arm for Democratic senate candidates chaired by incoming Minority Leader Audrey Gibson.

Goston, who lost re-election to the City Commission in a landslide, has about $1,800 in his account and is only relevant as a possible spoiler.

SD 8 covers all of Alachua and Putnam counties as well as the northern half of Marion County. It is one of a handful of districts that became more favorable to Democrats after the Senate map was redrawn ahead of the 2016 elections.

Despite Democrats holding an 8-point lead in voter registrations in the redrawn district, Perry scored a comfortable victory over two years ago as the seat was narrowly carried by President Donald Trump.

The fundraiser invitation is below.

Keith Perry Fundraiser 9.20.2018

Republican governors ad pegs Andrew Gillum as ‘way out there’

The Republican Governors Association is entering the Florida election with a television commercial debuting Wednesday that declares that Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum is so far out there, “he’s on another planet.”

The new 30-second spot, “Too Far,” outlines Gillum’s positions favoring universal health care, a tax increase on corporations to pay for expanded education funding, and to abolish and replace the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, and charges that he and his ideas go “too far” for Floridians. Two of those three items, involving health care and ICE, are federal matters, outside the power of the governor’s office, though Gillum has expressed his support for them.

The commercial debuts today on Florida television. The RGA did not detail the buy.

Gillum is facing Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis in Florida’s Nov. 6 gubernatorial election, which is bound to become increasingly fought over by national party groups.

“Andrew Gillum’s radical far-left policies are too extreme for Florida’s working families,” RGA Communications Director Jon Thompson stated in a news release issued Wednesday. “Gillum supports a complete government takeover of health care, a billion dollar tax hike, and wants to close down our immigration enforcement agency. Andrew Gillum is too radical for Florida.”

Gillum’s campaign responded with a statement that accused the RGA of a “pitiful” attempt to distract from DeSantis’ issues, and read, in part: “As Governor, Andrew Gillum wants to create a Florida where we work to grow the economy for the middle class, expand access to affordable health care, and welcome our diverse communities. Ron DeSantis is ‘on another planet’ if he thinks Floridians support his D.C. record of slashing health care for Floridians, creating special tax breaks for billionaires, and attacking the Latino community. There’s a clear choice in this campaign between Andrew Gillum’s Florida values and Ron DeSantis’s radical D.C. record.”

The Democratic Governors Association also is weighing in heavily in the race, donating $2 million to the Forward Florida political committee backing Gillum’s run.

“How far out is Andrew Gillum? He’s on another planet!” the narrator begins.

“Andrew Gillum wants a government takeover of health care,” the narrator continues. “You’d lose the coverage you have. And you could even lose your doctor. Gillum wants to increase Florida taxes by a billion dollars, disaster for the economy. And he supports closing our immigration enforcement agency. Dangerous!

“You’d better learn more about Andrew Gillum,” the narrator concludes. “He just goes too far.”

Anna Eskamani campaign video pays tribute to her inspiration, her mother

Democratic Florida House candidate Anna Eskamani is launching a social-media campaign video telling the story of her mother, an Iranian immigrant who pursued the American dream and laid the foundation for her daughter’s values, before dying young.

The two-minute, 11-second video, “My Mother’s Name Is Nasrin” is produced to be both inspiring and heartbreaking, while telling the story of Eskamani’s parents coming to America, meeting, working hard, and raising a family in Orlando, and how her memory drives her daughter.

The video opens with Eskamani folding clothes. And then there are clips of old family movies and pictures, and a few contemporary shots, as she tells her parents’ story, of how they each immigrated from Iran, met while working in an Orlando doughnut shop, married, had three children, and then, right after they moved into a new home, her mother died.

“I was only 13, but that night, I found my purpose,” Eskamani recalls in the video.

Eskamani faces Republican Stockton Reeves in the Nov. 6 election for House District 47, covering north and central Orange County. They seek to replace Republican state Rep. Mike Miller who is running for Congress, rather than for re-election.

The video is being debuted Wednesday initially only through an organic online push, through multiple platforms, but her campaign plans also to purchase digital promotions.

After Eskamani announces she found her purpose, the video changes to mostly contemporary footage of Eskamani, driving, making speeches, meeting with people, and contemplating her mother, and also of a wide variety of ordinary HD 47 residents in settings ranging from workplaces to a Pulse memorial.

The video’s message transforms into a campaign theme about what Eskamani says her purpose is:

“To carry her passion and resolve and stand up for working families like mine. She is the reason I fight for good jobs, fair wages, and world-class health care, for safe streets, and great schools, to end harassment and assault and assure full access to reproductive care,” Eskamani says. “My mom’s energy and resilience still live in my determination to empower others.”

And then the video goes back to the folding of clothes. The symbolism there again is a tribute to her mother, as Eskamani had explained earlier: when her mother worked at a Kmart store, part of her job was folding and stocking clothing, and her two daughters and son sometimes would come and help. That action now seems to depict her memory emerging with every folded garment.

“Her story, her pursuit of the American dream also continues,” Eskamani says, as video shows her retrieving a picture of her mother from a wallet, “in everyone who sees Central Florida as a place of hope and opportunity, everyone who works hard to give their family the best possible future, and everyone who believes change can happen if you simply refuse to give up.

“The story of Nasrin Vishkaee Eskamani hasn’t ended. But it’s up to us to write the next chapter,” she concludes.

Dennis Baxley touts NRA A+ rating for re-election bid

Republican State Sen. Dennis Baxley has received an A+ rating from the National Rifle Association, his re-election campaign announced Tuesday.

The rating formally comes from the NRA Political Victory Fund and Unified Sportsmen of Florida, signaling Baxley’s long history as a champion of Second Amendment rights. It also reflects his unwavering commitment even in the face of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting in February that changed much of the gun debate in Florida and led the Legislature to approve some gun reform laws in the spring, which he opposed.

“We sincerely appreciate Dennis Baxley’s strong and unyielding support of Second Amendment issues as a member of the Florida Legislature.“ Marion Hammer, past president of the National Rifle Association and executive director of Unified Sportsmen of Florida, stated in a release issued by Baxley’s campaign. “No other candidate in this race has the background of active, dedicated legislative service that Senator Baxley has demonstrated to advancing the cause of freedom, Second Amendment rights, and protection of Constitutional rights.

“His support of Second Amendment, self-defense, and anti-crime issues and his pro-sportsmen, pro-freedom record has earned our endorsement and our appreciation.”

Baxley, of Ocala, is seeking re-election in Senate District 12 against Democrat Gary McKechnie of Mount Dora. The district covers Sumter County, south Marion County, and north Lake County.

Baxley is a past recipient of the NRA Defender of Freedom Award and a “Strong Pro-Gun” rating from Unified Sportsmen of Florida.

“I am proud of my long-standing support of the NRA and Unified Sportsmen of Florida, and of their support for me,” Baxley said in the release. “Few things in life are more important than protecting the right of individuals to defend themselves, their loved ones, and their property from those who would do them harm.

“I look forward to continuing to fight against the erosion of our Second Amendment rights.”

Democratic governors donate another $1 million to Andrew Gillum’s committee

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum‘s independent political committee Forward Florida received a second $1 million cash influx Tuesday from the Democratic Governors Association.

The DGA first signaled its full backing of the surprise Democratic nominee with a $1 million donation Aug. 29, one day after he knocked off U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and others in the Democratic primary.

Now it’s doubling down.

“Andrew Gillum has strong grassroots momentum behind his campaign to rebuild Florida so that it works for everyone,” DGA Executive Director Elisabeth Pearson stated in a news release. “This additional $1 million investment will allow him to communicate his positive message across the state, and build on the momentum he has already created.

“Andrew Gillum is focused on increasing access to health care, improving Florida’s public schools, and growing the state’s economy, and that’s why he will be Florida’s next governor.”

Gillum faces Republican gubernatorial nominee U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis.

Until two weeks ago, Forward Florida mainly was the depository for several big-name progressive national rainmakers such as George Soros and Tom SteyerIn the first week after the primary, the committee’s fundraising more than doubled with the first DGA donation, plus another $1 million from Connecticut philanthropist Donald Sussman, and some five- and six-figure checks from other progressive donors.

Mike Miller says yes to three congressional debates, awaits Stephanie Murphy

The congressional campaign for Republican state Rep. Mike Miller announced Monday it has signed off on three debates being proposed in Central Florida and said it is awaiting word from Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy on which, if any, work for her.

Miller’s campaign on Monday said it was accepting invitations from two Orlando television stations, WFTV Channel 9 and WESH Channel 2, plus from the Tiger Bay Club of Central Florida. The WFTV debate has a proposed date, Oct. 9, while the other two await word from Murphy’s campaign on which dates, if any, might be acceptable, Miller’s campaign spokewwoman said.

“Our community and the voters in Central Florida deserve to hear from the candidates seeking to represent them in Congress, and that’s why I’m pleased to accept recent invitations from WFTV, WESH and the Tiger Bay Club to debate Rep. Stephanie Murphy,” Miller stated in a news release issued by his campaign. “I’m willing to debate my opponent as many times as we are invited, so I am hopeful that other highly respected media outlets like WKMG, Univision, WOFL, Spectrum13 and the Orlando Sentinel will sponsor or co-sponsor debates.”

Murphy of course has the position of incumbent in Florida’s 7th Congressional District, and as the apparent front-runner, leaving Miller hoping for as many public face-offs as possible. The district covers Seminole County and north-central Orange County.

On Monday Murphy’s campaign sounded less than pleased that Miller’s campaign accepted first and made it public, implying that his campaign was not negotiating debate options in good faith.

“We are eager to highlight the differences between our campaigns, which is why we made an initial outreach to the Miller campaign to begin debate negotiations. These debates should occur across a variety of mediums, including broadcast, print and radio, which is why we proposed a schedule with an unprecedented number of general election debates. Proposing an initial framework for debates is not the same thing as limiting debates and it is disingenuous to suggest otherwise,” Murphy’s campaign spokeswoman Christie Stephenson said in a wrtten response Monday.

“It’s disappointing that Mike Miller is more focused on scoring political points than negotiating in good faith. We need less of that in Congress, not more,” Stephenson added.

Miller’s campaign spokeswoman Dana Loncar said both campaigns had signaled acceptance of the Oct. 9 debate at WFTV. Loncar said the issue then became whether to accept a second televised debate.

“The Mike Miller campaign is not going to turn down WESH and in fact would encourage the hard-working professionals in our local media to ask questions, schedule debates and forums so that the people of Central Florida can listen to and evaluate the candidates for Congress,” Loncar stated in the news release.

Poll: Marijuana legalization support helps Nikki Fried’s Ag. Commish bid

Voters who support Florida’s medical marijuana law and especially those who support further legalization of marijuana appear to be lifting Nikki Fried into the lead in the Florida Agriculture Commissioner’s race, according to a new poll.

Fried, the Democrat, leads among all voters surveyed last week by St. Pete Polls, getting 47 percent of the support of likely Florida voters, while Republican nominee state Rep. Matt Caldwell picked up 45 percent. While that difference was within the poll’s margin of error, follow-up questions indicated at least some of Fried’s backing is tied to her support for broader marijuana legalization.

The poll is part of an effort involving St. Pete Polls, Empowering Wellness — the newly formed medical-marijuana advocacy group — and Florida Politics to examine marijuana policies and political leaders’ and candidates’ positions heading into Wellness Week, which will feature other looks at the issues.

Last week the poll results revealed the nominees for Governor also were essentially tied, with Democratic nominee Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum drawing 48 percent and Republican nominee U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis drawing 47 percent.

This time the results from the poll, taken last Wednesday and Thursday of 2,240 likely Florida general election voters found about 70 percent support the state’s medical marijuana law, approved by voters in the 2016 election. Almost half, 48 percent, disapprove of how the Flordia Legislature implemented the law, while a much smaller percentage, 29 percent, approved of how the Legislature did things.

Consequently, those voters said they have an increased likelihood to support Fried, who has been an advocate of broad marijuana legalization. An even stronger portion of voters said they would be less likely to vote for Caldwell, who has taken mixed positions on medical marijuana.

In 2014, Caldwell helped pass Florida’s initial medical marijuana law, which was limited to low-THC cannabis. He then opposed the state constitutional amendment allowing for medicines to be made from high-THC marijuana. When advised of that, 49 percent of those reached in the survey said they were less likely to vote for him, while 24 percent said they would be more likely.

When told that Fried’s campaign has been kicked out of two different banks because of her advocacy for expanding patient access to medical marijuana, 40 percent of those surveyed said they would be more likely to vote for her, and 36 percent said they would be less likely to vote for her.

The poll was conducted through an automated phone call polling system. The results were then weighted to account for proportional differences between the respondents’ demographics and the demographics of the active general election voter population for the state of Florida. The weighting demographics used were: political party, race, age, gender, and media market. The voters polled were chosen at random within the registered voter population within the state of Florida. Voters who said they were not planning to vote were excluded from the results below.

St. Pete Polls is saying the survey has a 2 percent margin of error.

Mike Hill

Mike Hill’s comeback bid needed every trick in the book

Florida’s primary elections had some shockers, none more so than the surprise win of Andrew Gillum in the Democratic primary for Governor.

Further down the ticket, in the Republican primary for Escambia County’s state House District 1, there was another big upset: Former state Rep. Mike Hill’s 3-point victory over rising GOP star Rebekah Bydlak.

Bydlak had outraised him, outspent him and had picked up the kind of endorsements that usually carry candidates through a GOP primary — the National Rifle Association and term-limited HD 1 Rep. Clay Ingram both endorsed her, and she had an “A” rating from the staunchly anti-abortion group Florida Right to Life.

Polling also indicated Bydlak was ahead of Hill and a look at the vote totals on the Escambia County Supervisor of Elections website shows Bylak held a 52-44 percent lead among early voters, and she and Hill were tied 48-48 percent with mail ballots included.

Hill won Election Day, however, by 5 percentage points. Milton Republican Lisa Doss nearly quadrupled her vote tally to take 9 percent of the ballots cast last Tuesday.

What happened?

Hill’s performance could all be due to his higher name recognition. HD 1 shares a border and media market with his old seat, HD 2, where he won a couple of elections. Two years ago, he also spent nearly $200,000 in campaign dollars running in the SD 1 Republican primary, where he lost by 14 points to now-Sen. Doug Broxson.

But the late break this year toward Hill could also be due to a string of deceitful mailers, disinformation, racially charged and sexist comments, shady campaign stunts and a fake endorsement from President Donald Trump in the closing days of the race.

Hill spent more than $25,000 in hard money on direct mail ads in the final weeks of the race, and nearly all of them smeared Bydlak.

One of Hill’s mailers featured a phony picture of Bydlak smiling alongside 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and claimed Bydlak had been “kicked out of the Republican Party,” didn’t own a house in HD 1, received $100,000 from a member of the anti-Trump establishment tied to billionaire liberal booster George Soros and that she was pro-choice and anti-gun despite her receiving recommendations from groups that would certainly take umbrage if she held those positions.

Another mailer claimed Bydlak and Republican U.S. Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan were attacking “conservatives like Mike Hill and President Trump,” and that Bydlak was trying to take down Confederate monuments in Pensacola — no small accusation in the deep-red Panhandle district.

In now-deleted social media posts, Hill also called attention to Amash’s Palestinian heritage, noteworthy because of Hill’s other statements about Islamic people. In early August, Hill tweeted about the “demonic Muslim horde” and retweeted a statement that “Islam is a cancer.”

Also on the list of social media tactics was the use of paid campaign staffers to blast Bydlak for her not having children.

“How can a girl make good solid choices on my children and grandchildren, when she has never raised a family?” Kelly White Seward asked in a Facebook post liked and shared by Hill. Florida Division of Elections records show Seward received $2,000 in payments from Hill’s campaign account during the 2018 cycle.

All the while, Hill has allowed racism to fester on his campaign’s official Facebook page, where his supporters have repeated Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis’ possibly misinterpreted “monkey” comment. More overt: Another supporter responded to a Facebook post Hill made criticizing Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum by saying the Tallahassee Mayor should be “picking cotton.”

While Hill was pouring money into the negative ads and stoking racial tensions, a committee tied to Clearwater Republican Rep. Chris Latvala paid thousands of dollars more for a slate of positive mailers pitching Hill as the “pro-life, pro-guns, pro-Jesus” candidate in the race.

One of the mailers paid for by Latvala’s Suncoast Better Government Committee features a faked picture of Hill next to Trump and strongly insinuates the President had endorsed him — laid over the top of the Hill-Trump photo is a label that says “I like Mike.”

Hill Trump - I Like Mike

Trump did say that phrase in an early August tweet during his spat with NBA superstar LeBron James. But it was an obvious reference to Michael Jordan, whom James is most often compared to in “best ever” arguments.

Hill quoted that tweet, calling it his Trump endorsement.

In a vacuum, that tweet could be viewed as a lighthearted joke, however, the mailers cast doubt on that and toe the line of what is considered legal campaign communications.

Under Florida law, it is illegal “for any candidate or person on behalf of a candidate to represent that any person or organization supports such candidate, unless the person or organization so represented has given specific approval in writing to the candidate to make such representation.” In English: Faking an endorsement is a crime.

If the mailers don’t cross a line, his odd last-minute livestream just might. The Facebook Live video features Hill standing in front of a Confederate monument holding a replica of Trump’s Hollywood Walk of Fame star and teetering between representing it as real and acknowledging it was fake.

“As you can see, Pensacola, I have the Trump star. We’re bringing it here to Pensacola. We’re going to lay it here. Trump is an awesome president and we’re going to show our support and respect for our President. Hollywood doesn’t want his star, we want it here,” Hill says, star in hand.

He then hedges his claim that the star is real by saying, if elected, he’ll “be able to do more to make sure that this star gets here and that it stays here.”

But he again purported to have the real-deal star in a Facebook post made after the livestream.

“We have President Trump’s Hollywood Star! Pensacola is America’s first settlement — where it all began. Fitting that we have our President’s star rejected by leftists. We will honor and protect it!” he wrote.

He used similar wording in an official campaign email sent via MailChimp that went out to the entire Escambia County absentee voter list.

“We have President Trump’s Hollywood Star! Pensacola is America’s first settlement  —where it all began. Fitting that we have our President’s star rejected by Hollywood. We will honor and protect it,” Hill said in the email.

Trump’s Hollywood star was destroyed. Twice. According to Ana Martinez, the Hollywood Walk of Fame’s producer and the vice president of media relations at the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, Hill’s star isn’t the real thing.

“Oh, that’s a fake,” Martinez said after viewing a photo of the star. “They were destroyed with a pickaxe.”

Martinez added that the Hollywood Chamber is in possession of the emblem from the original star and that the second star was essentially reduced to dust — an individual attempted to sell one shard of that star on eBay for $500 but the auction was pulled for violating the site’s rules. A real Walk of Fame star weighs more than 300 pounds, Martinez added. Hill easily lifts his star in the video.

Martinez described Hill’s counterfeit star as an “infringement” and said that the matter would be referred for further investigation.

Just as bizarre as those Walk of Fame claims are statements made by Doss, who entered the primary race just days ahead of the qualifying deadline and raised no money outside of the self-contribution she used to pay the ballot fee. Though it is unconfirmed, there are rumors that Doss was recruited by Hill, who has never won a one-on-one race, to help split the vote in his favor.

Florida Politics attempted to contact Doss but received no response.

According to the financial disclosure she turned in to the Florida Division of Elections, her only income was a $1,248 Social Security disability check while her two bank accounts had a combined balance of $350 on June 18. However, her listed assets also included $3,100 in cash. She used that cash to open her campaign account, leading to an audit by the Division of Election for exceeding the limit on cash contributions. She was also dinged for not listing her occupation, which she later amended to be “disabled.”

Like Hill, Doss used MailChimp to send out her campaign emails while her campaign website, VoteDoss.com, was registered via the same Bulgarian-based web hosting company as Hill’s campaign site: SiteGround.us. Both Hill and Doss paid the $12 fee charged by the company to hide the information of who registered their respective websites, but the servers they are hosted on are in the same Chicago data center.

Hill’s domain was registered on Sept. 16, 2017, though he never reported any expenditures directly related to the website’s registration, creation or upkeep. Doss’ domain was registered on June 30, and the only expenditures she ever reported other than the ballot fee were $75.35 in payments to SiteGround for a “website” and “extra security for website.”

Suspicions were further raised given that Doss’ campaign emails and social media posts used oddly similar language and peddled the same conspiracies as Hill’s — namely that Bydlak was tied to Soros and that she did not own a house in the district.

The latter attack is true, though misleading. Bydlak rents a home within the district and her parents and grandparents also live in the district, same as the past nine generations of her family. The attack that she doesn’t own a home also obscures some history behind her political heritage — the first-ever meeting of the Florida Legislature was actually held within what is now HD 1 in the home of her fifth-great-grandfather, Don Manuel Gonzalez.

Doss also often referred to herself as the middle ground between Bydlak, whom she said was “too liberal,” and Hill, whom she said was “too conservative.” In such a red district, that statement would be more likely to benefit Hill and kneecap Bydlak than to help Doss.

Doss email

Additionally, Doss was a frequent poster on Hill’s social media pages. In one Facebook post she said that even though she wanted to win the primary election, it was more important that Bydlak lose.

“Even though I’m running against Mike Hill, I do know he is a good man!! I hope 2 win but if I don’t I sure hope Mike Hill does!! As a candidate myself I have done a lot of research on my opponents & the bunch funding Rebekah Bydlak I found out the same information on,” she wrote, referencing Hill’s Soros claims.

And when Doss’ birthday rolled around, Hill made sure to wish her the best.

doss birthday

In the end, the Republican primary came down to 542 votes out of the nearly 19,000 cast, and Hill’s victory virtually assures he’ll cruise back into the state House after drubbing Democratic nominee Vikki Garrett in November.

Bydlak, meanwhile, steps back into private life.

“If you want to know why principled conservatives don’t get involved in politics, you need only look at this race. If you want to know why conservative women run for office less frequently then men, take a look at how Mike Hill shamelessly lied to voters that Rebekah was pro-choice and anti-gun. He’s disgraceful and frankly unfit for public office,” said her husband, Jonathan Bydlak.

Mailers sent out by Hill’s campaign and the Suncoast Better Government Committee are below.

Mike Hill direct mail ads by Andrew Wilson on Scribd

BusinessForce endorses 12 in Central Florida races

BusinessForce, a political committee supporting the business sector of Central Florida, on Monday announced a dozen endorsements for the general election including all six Republicans seeking re-election to Florida House seats.

The organization that spun off from Orlando Inc., the Orlando area Chamber of Commerce, recommended the election of Republican David Smith in Seminole County’s District 28, and the re-elections of Republican state Reps. Scott Plakon in District 29 in Seminole County; Bob Cortes in District 30 split between Seminole and Orange counties; Jennifer Sullivan in District 31 split between Lake and Orange counties; Mike La Rosa in District 42 in Osceola County; Bobby Olszewski in District 44 in Orange County; and Rene Plasencia in District 50, split between Orange and Brevard counties.

BusinessForce also made three endorsements in races for open seats on the Orange County Commission: Christine Moore in District 2; Mayra Uribe in District 3; and Susan Makowski in District 4.

In Seminole County, BusinessForce announced it was backing Jay Zembower in the District 2 race for the Seminole County Commission.

And for the Orange County School Board, BusinessForce endorsed Melissa Byrd for the District 7 seat.

“The candidates we endorsed are a solid representation of BusinessForce’s commitment to helping candidates who are pro-business and embrace a free market economy. We look forward to working with each of them on issues that align with our values and mission,” Craig Swygert, chairman of the board of BusinessForce, stated in a news release.

Andrew Gillum

Andrew Gillum has raised $4M since becoming Democratic nominee for Governor

In the first week since becoming the Democratic nominee for Governor, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum collected more than $4 million in contributions between his campaign and committee accounts.

Team Gillum raked in $4.03 million during the reporting period covering Aug. 25-31, including $1.7 million in hard money and another $2.3 million for his affiliated political committee, Forward Florida.

The Gillum for Governor campaign heads into the general election with unprecedented grassroots support,” said Gillum spokesman Geoff Burgan.

This campaign is powered by people who are ready for bold, progressive change. Floridians know that as governor, Mayor Gillum will work tirelessly to rebuild our state so that it works for everyone — and that’s why they are rallying behind him.”

The new reports go down as the best for each account since Gillum entered the race for Governor in February of last year. The prior high watermark for his campaign account was his $510,000 report for the first week of August, while the committee former high score was $1 million raised during the 13-day reporting period directly preceding the Aug. 28 primary election.

The campaign report is nearly 40,000 lines long and matching funds didn’t buoy the total. There were several dozen max checks at the top of the ledger, but small-dollar donors dominated — the account received more than 27,000 contributions of $25 or less.

The committee report was a stub by comparison, but it featured a pair of $1 million checks at the top, one from the Democratic Governors Association and another from Connecticut philanthropist Donald Sussman. Floridabased philanthropist Marsha Laufer, the wife of Henry Laufer, chipped in $250,000, while smaller checks came in from attorney Vincent Pawlowski, Democratic donor Cynthia Friedman of Palm Beach, Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy and U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters of California.

The $4 million week represents more than a third of Gillum’s $11.1 million in fundraising thus far. He finished the month with a combined $4.23 million banked.

Gillum’s Republican rival, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, had a comparatively light week.

His campaign account showed $276,000 in new money across 2,443 contributions, including about two dozen for the campaign max of $3,000. His political committee, Friends of Ron DeSantis, posted a $246,000 haul. That report was topped by a $100,000 check from the Florida Chamber of Commerce affiliated Florida Jobs PAC, and also included $50,000 checks from billionaire Casino owner Phil Ruffin and Doral-based Sunshine Gasoline Distributors as well as $25,000 from a political committee tied to CD 1 U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz.

DeSantis has raised a total of $18.3 million since he launched his gubernatorial bid in January. He entered September with a combined $1.52 million in the bank.

Gillum and DeSantis will face off in the November general election. On Thursday, both men announced their running mates for the fall, with Gillum selecting businessman and former Democratic primary rival and Chris King and DeSantis selecting Miami state Rep. Jeanette Nuñez.

Election Day is Nov. 6.

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