2018 election – Page 4 – Florida Politics

Gwen Graham vows to get housing money into communities

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham accused the Republican-led Florida government of neglecting the needs of affordable housing and vowed to change that with full funding of the state’s Sadowski Affordable Housing Trust Fund and efforts to get housing money quickly into communities.

“When I get into office I am going to take a hard look at where we are spending our resources, and what we need to do. I’m not naive. I know it’s going to be tough. There are going to be a lot of challenges Florida has not faced in a very long time, and housing is one of them,” she said. “We’re going to have to be creative about how we get resources into communities to begin to immediately address these shortages.”

As part of her ongoing “WorkDays” program that has her work in someone else’s job for a day, Graham spent Friday installing windows, calking floor baseboards and painting for a Habitat for Humanity of Greater Orlando housing construction project in Apopka. The Arbor Bend subdivision will include 34 new affordable homes when it is complete. Many already are finished and occupied.

While praising Habitat for Humanity, she conceded “It is a drop in the bucket” as a response to the state’s affordable housing needs.

Graham stressed the affordable housing crisis in the greater Orlando area, saying it ranked third worst in the nation behind Los Angeles and Las Vegas, adding, “and it’s only getting worse.”

It’s a topic that her rival Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King, an Orlando entrepreneur whose projects include affordable housing, has pushed from the first day of his campaign last year. Like King, Graham expressed frustration that the state’s fund for affordable housing has been raided annually for other budgetary purposes, rather than spent on affordable housing.

They also face Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine in the August 28 Democratic primary. The leading Republicans are Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis.

“The Republicans who control Tallahassee have stolen more than $2 billion of Floridians’ tax dollars from the affordable housing trust to pay for their own special projects,” Graham stated in a news release. “If more of the politicians in Tallahassee spent a day working to construct affordable housing, they’d see just how much more we could accomplish working together on progressive solutions to help Florida families. They’d quit stealing from the trust fund and invest in Florida.”

John Ward releases first ad for CD 6 campaign

Republican John Ward, a Palm Coast businessman, released his first TV ad Thursday for his campaign to replace U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis in Florida’s 6th Congressional District.

“Forged to be an American leader, John Ward. A U.S. Naval Intelligence veteran, he answered the call and protected us around the globe,” the ad narrator states.

“Strengthened by service, John Ward built successful companies adding thousands of jobs and more than a billion dollars to the economy. An unbreakable constitutional conservative, Ward stands with President Trump fighting to take our country back from the swamp. Made in America, John Ward for Congress.”

Ward entered the race for CD 6 in October, ahead of DeSantis’ announcement that he would run for governor rather than re-election to the Northeast Florida seat in 2018.

He is one of three Republicans to qualify for the ballot alongside former state Rep. Fred Costello and Fox News contributor Mike Waltz. Running on the Democratic side are Daytona Beach physician Steven Sevigny, former Ambassador to the United Nations Nancy Soderberg and John Upchurch.

Ward and Waltz have been their own biggest backers – through March, Ward had put $550,000 of his own money into his campaign, while Waltz had put down $400,000. Ward led the Republican field with $709,000 banked on March 31, followed by Waltz at $653,000 and Costello with $15,720.

Both Soderberg and Sevigny have also raised well into the six figures.

CD 6 covers a stretch of Florida’s east coast, from southern Jacksonville to New Smyrna Beach. It has been a reliably Republican seat, and DeSantis would have likely been safe for re-election had he opted to stay in the U.S. House. His exit moved the needle to “likely Republican” according to University of Virginia political scientist Larry J. Sabato’s “Crystal Ball.”

Ward’s ad is below.

Tommy Gregory HD 73

Tommy Gregory endorsed by former Manatee Sheriff

Republican Tommy Gregory announced Thursday that former Manatee Sherriff Brad Steube has endorsed his campaign to replace Rep. Joe Gruters in House District 73.

“Tommy Gregory’s character and values will make him a very effective legislator,” Steube said. “His military career demonstrates his commitment to public service, and I believe he will bring the same determination and skill to the Florida House. I am pleased to endorse him and urge all District 73 voters to support him.”

Steube was Manatee County sheriff from 2007 through 2016. He joins current Sarasota Sheriff Tom Knight in endorsing Gregory, a Sarasota attorney. He has also been endorsed by former state Sen. Lisa Carlton and Steve Vernon, the second-place finisher in the 2016 HD 73 Republican Primary.

“Sheriff Steube really modeled community leadership during his time in office,” said Gregory. “I appreciate the example he set, and I’m honored to have his support. I look forward to working with him and other local leaders to find policy solutions that will help us overcome our area’s challenges and make the most of our opportunities.”

Gregory faces Melissa Howard in the Republican Primary race. The winner of that contest has the best odds to replace Gruters in the Republican stronghold.

HD 73 is open due to Gruters’ decision to run for the Senate seat currently held by Sarasota Republican Sen. Greg Steube. Gruters is Howard’s campaign treasurer.

As of April 30, Howard leads Gregory in hard money fundraising with nearly $125,000 raised, including $100,000 in candidate loans, to his $56,000. Gregory has the advantage when soft money is included. His committee, Friends of Tommy Gregory, has $85,000 banked, giving him a combined $132,220 on hand compared to $123,900 for Howard.

HD 73 covers parts of Manatee and Sarasota, with more than 85 percent of the district’s voters residing in Manatee County. The district massively favors Republicans, who make up nearly half of the electorate compared to a 25 percent share for Democrats.

Indian Rocks Beach commissioners back Nick DiCeglie for House District 66

Three members of the Indian Rocks Beach City Commission announced Thursday that they are backing Belleair Bluffs businessman Nick DiCeglie in the Republican Primary for House District 66, currently held by termed-out Rep. Larry Ahern.

The endorsements came in from Commissioners Phil Hannah, Ed Hoofnagle and Nick Palomba.

“It is my honor, and without reservation, I endorse Nick DiCeglie for State Representative for House District 66,” Hannah said. “I have had the distinct pleasure to know Nick and his family for over a decade. When Nick comes to mind, I first think of integrity; his word is his bond. As owner of a small business, he knows what it is like to put the key in the door of his operation each morning, and how the solid decisions he makes affect the people he employs and their families. I am thankful that he is stepping up to the challenge. Nick has my full support.”

Hoofnagle said, “He will represent our voice in Tallahassee and will help to keep our local views at the forefront of discussions in our state capital. Nick is an excellent candidate who exemplifies conservative values and hard work. He’s a great person and a role model for many of us.”

Palomba added, “Not only are Nick and his family longtime residents of Indian Rocks Beach, he also runs an award-winning small business. He brings honesty, integrity and a hard-working blue-collar mindset that we need to ensure our district is represented in Tallahassee. I believe when you are willing to endorse someone it is important to get to know them, understand their vision, know they are willing to listen and of course, know he is a man of honor. Nick, of course, is all of the above. With all that is happening in our city and state, it is great to know that we have someone who lives in our community to represent us in the Florida House of Representatives.”

DiCeglie runs Clearwater-based trash removal and recycling company Solar Sanitation and is the current chair of the Republican Party of Pinellas County. He said he was “honored” to receive the commissioners’ support.

“We all share a business-first philosophy toward creating jobs and encouraging enterprise in our community and I look forward to working with them to better the lives for the residents in Indian Rocks Beach and House District 66,” he said.

Their endorsements add to a long list of Republicans supporting DiCeglie in his primary race against Seminole attorney Berny Jacques. Past endorsements for DiCeglie include Pinellas County Commissioner Dave Eggers, Pinellas County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller Ken Burke, as well as Largo Mayor Woody Brown and City Commissioner Curtis Holmes.

Democrat Alex Heeren is also running for the seat, though the Republican nominee has the best odds of succeeding Ahern in the western Pinellas district.

HD 66 covers includes part of Clearwater, Belleair, Indian Rocks Beach and Indian Shores.

Bobby Olszewski picks up I-Drive Chamber endorsement

Republican state Rep. Bobby Olszewski has picked up the endorsement of the International Drive Resort Area Chamber of Commerce, the powerful Orlando tourism organization that also is in his district.

Olszewski, who came to office in a special election last October, represents Florida House District 44 covering southwest Orange County, including most of the Orlando area’s major tourism attractions. The I-Drive Chamber membership includes almost all but the Walt Disney World theme parks, the Orange County Convention Center and scores of resort hotels and smaller attractions.

Earlier Olszewski picked up the endorsement of the Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association.

“I am honored to receive the endorsement today from the International Drive Chamber of Commerce for my re-election in Florida House District 44,” Olszewski, of Winter Garden, stated in a news release issued by his re-election campaign. “With the Orange County Convention Center, Universal Studios, and Sea World in addition to all of the world-class hotels, restaurants, and attractions serving the I-Drive area, I look forward to doing all I can to help promote a positive tourism, hospitality, and pro-business environment.”

Normally the district is an easy Republican hold, but Olszewski has drawn a number of Democratic challengers this year, including businessman Eddy Dominguez, whom Olszewski defeated last October; former state Sen. Geraldine Thompson; progressive activist Margaret Melanie Gold; and real estate agent Matt Matin.

Putnam Ad 5.17.2018

Adam Putnam promotes voc-ed, bashes ‘liberal elites’ in new ad

Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam put out a new ad Thursday promising to strengthen vocational education in the Sunshine State and bashing so-called “liberal elites” who don’t respect trade workers.

“As a fifth generation Florida farmer, I know what it’s like to sweat for your paycheck,” Putnam said in the 30-second ad, which features shots of him walking through a factory and shaking hands with workers.

“Today, liberal elites look down on people who work with their hands, pressuring too many kids into student loan debt, leaving them with degrees they can’t use and bills they can’t pay. We need to get back to honoring and respecting experts of a trade,” he said in the ad. “I’ll make vocational training a top priority. Our kids should be career-ready, not debt ridden. College is not the only path to success, and it’s okay to say it.”

A campaign release said the ad will begin running on cable and broadcast statewide beginning tomorrow. The closing frames of the TV spot indicate it was paid for by Florida Grown, Putnam’s affiliated political committee.

The ad follows the campaigns recent release of its “Florida Jobs First Agenda,” which includes a plan to boost vocational and technical education in middle and high schools. When it was released, Putnam said if Florida is going to continue job growth, it needs to better prepare students who don’t pursue a four-year college degree to get jobs in trades.

“As Governor, Putnam’s top priority will be to build a robust education pipeline that puts vocational and technical education back into middle schools and high schools, providing Florida’s students with the tools and practice necessary to find their piece of the American Dream here in Florida,” a Monday press release announced.

Democrats aren’t buying the rhetoric.

“Adam Putnam is a multi-millionaire career politician who spent ten years in Congress voting to make it more expensive for students to go to college and against vocational education. Putnam’s latest ad is another absurd election year attempt to hide his long record of hurting Florida students and working families,” Florida Democratic Party spokesperson Kevin Donohoe said in a Thursday press release.

The FDP release included more than a dozen clippings on past votes Putnam made during his decade in Congress, including his vote against interest rate reductions for federal student loans in 2007. A Lakeland Ledger article from the time said the bill was supported by “all but the staunchest of White House lapdogs.”

Putnam, currently in his second term as Agriculture Commissioner, faces Northeast Florida U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis in the Republican Primary to succeed termed-out Gov. Rick Scott. Four major Democrats are also running.

Putnam sits atop the field in fundraising, with $28.88 million raised including $2 million in April.

The ad is below.

Philip Levine

Personnel note: Philip Levine campaign building communications team

Former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine’s gubernatorial campaign announced Thursday that it’s expanding its communications team with a pair of new hires.

The announcement included a promotion for William Miller, who will now serve as deputy communications director, and the addition of Guillermo Perez, who will serve as the campaign’s Hispanic media coordinator.

“As our campaign builds momentum ahead of the August primary, William will help implement our communications strategy, working to ensure the Mayor’s vision and record of progressive accomplishment reaches voters in all of Florida’s 67 counties,” said Christian Ulvert, senior advisor to the campaign.

“We are also excited to integrate Guillermo Perez as our Hispanic Media Coordinator where he will ensure that Mayor Levine—the only bilingual candidate on either side of the aisle—is taking his message to the diverse, Spanish-speaking communities across our state.”

Miller’s new role is an upgrade from his former job as communications coordinator, which he’s held since Levine entered the Democratic Primary last year. His resume includes working as a South Florida press assistant for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 White House run.

Perez comes to the Levine campaign from Ulvert’s EDGE Communications, where he’s worked since the start of the year. His prior experience includes an internship in the offices of U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Connecticut U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal.

“Our campaign is building the infrastructure and campaign operation to win in August and November. With the Primary election fast approaching, our team is well positioned to continue to effectively reach voters throughout Florida,” Ulvert said.

Levine is running against Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, former Congresswoman Gwen Graham and Orlando-area businessman Chris King in the Democratic Primary. On the Republican side, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam faces Northeast Florida U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis.

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

Chris King backs Orange County children’s initiative

Democratic gubernatorial candidate and Winter Park entrepreneur Chris King weighed in on an Orange County local issue, saying the push for a children’s trust fund fits in for his call for sweeping criminal justice reform in Florida.

A coalition of children’s advocates is pushing this year to get a children’s services independent taxing authority, like those found in other Florida metropolitan cities, created through a ballot initiative this November.

However, the effort all but stalled when they took it to the Orange County Commission last month; Mayor Teresa Jacobs is no fan of the idea of creating a new taxing entity. She put the county’s efforts on the children’s trust proposal into study gear.

On Wednesday, King joined former state Rep. Dick Batchelor, chairman of The Children’s Trust of Orange County committee, former Orange County chair Linda Chapin, businessman Harold Mills, and the Rev. Derrick McRae of the Experience Christian Center to argue that the initiative is a criminal justice reform issue.

“I am on day three of a massive trip around the state talking about criminal justice reform. It is deeply, as Dick said, deeply interconnected to the issues of the children’s trust,” King said.

“What I have been arguing is the next governor of Florida needs to be someone who can bring these issues together. I have thrown up a North Star that over the next 10 years I see a Florida where we can reduce mass incarceration of nonviolent offenders by 50 percent through a series of policies,” King said. “And when we do that, we are able to invest in the types of things that Dick has dedicated his life fighting for, children’s welfare services, subsidized child care, access to health care.”

Batchelor, Chapin (a King family friend and early supporter of his campaign) and others in The Children’s Trust of Orange County campaign want the investments sooner than that. Batchelor said that internal polling by the trust found 62 percent of people would vote yes, and 82 percent at least want it on the ballot.

“A need has created that is undeniable for this in this community,” King said. “Let the voters decide. And if you’ve got a better idea, if got resources somewhere else that can address these issues show us, show us now. Because the need is now. We haven’t seen that.”

Jacobs, who is running for the chair position of the Orange County School Board, came out against the proposal. She argued that she believes the proposal includes some inaccuracies and unproven statements, and because she is skeptical of the accountability of independent authorities, particularly after the county had to endure scandals at some, such as the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority and Lynx.

And, she argued, there are better ways to make sure children’s services are adequately funded and run.

Last month she said a consensus of the board of county commissioners agreed with her that more needs to be known and done, and she asked staff to provide a presentation at the July county budget hearings. Batchelor called that “running out the clock,” making it almost impossible to get commission approval in time to put it on the ballot.

“As a result of a poll conducted by the Children’s Trust, the growing mantra is “let the voters vote” — which makes for a compelling sound bite. However, it is the responsibility of the BCC to ensure that the voters are told the truth, that the information they are provided is accurate, complete and unbiased,” Jacobs stated in a May newsletter to constituents. “The BCC also has a responsibility to our children, voters, and taxpayers to make sure there is a sufficient level of accountability to ensure that the outcomes promised can and will be achieved.

“The Children’s Trust proposal does not meet these minimum standards, and upon closer review, there are many concerns and, in my opinion, there are better options to address unmet needs of our children sooner and with greater transparency and accountability.”

King and Batchelor both urged Jacobs to put the proposal on the Orange County Commission’s agenda, for possible approval to appear on the November ballot. King argued that the idea needs with a taxing district because the state has failed to adequately address issues ranging from child abuse to homeless children.

“That’s the mayor’s burden. If she does not want to go forward with this, she can’t ignore the fact that the need is extraordinary. So it’s her burden to give us another vision,” King said. “I think our concern is there might not be another vision for it and the need is so great.”

Late Thursday Jacobs responded with this statement:

“While I appreciate Mr. King’s interest in this issue, I’m not sure he has been provided all of the facts. I have been a very strong advocate for children and for enhancing children’s services. However, there are serious problems with the proposal presented to our board by the political committee behind this campaign. First, the studies on which this political committee is basing their request contain inaccurate, outdated and misleading information. Second, the political committee is advocating for the creation of an independent taxing agency, run by a governing board wherein the majority of the members are not elected by the citizens. Yet, this board would have the sole authority to determine the level of tax up to ½ mill, which amounts to over a half billion dollars over ten years. This same board would have the sole authority to determine how those tax dollars would be spent.

“We are hiring an independent consultant to review the needs assessments conducted by the political committee and conduct their own assessment. We have asked them to provide a status to our board during our budget work sessions in July.”

Big get: Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri backs Jamie Grant’s re-election to Florida House

Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri wants Tampa Republican Rep. James Grant to stick around for another term.

The Republican sheriff announced Wednesday that he was backing Grant in his primary race against Terry Power, an Oldsmar retirement plan consultant.

“James Grant is a principled leader and dedicated advocate for law enforcement and first responders in Florida. We consistently partner to ensure that legislation considered in Tallahassee incorporates the everyday impacts to our streets in Pinellas County. I am pleased to endorse James Grant’s candidacy for the Florida House of Representatives, District 64, so we can continue working together to keep our community safe,” Gualtieri said.

Grant said he was humbled and honored by Gualtieri’s support in his re-election campaign.

“In addition to being a respected leader in and beyond our community, Sheriff Gualtieri is a tremendous resource whom I lean on regularly. His experience and insight on issues is invaluable as we consider legislation that affects all Floridians. Whether it has been confronting the most prolific and repeat criminal offenders, the opioid crisis, preserving due process and privacy rights in the age of technology, and so much more, Sheriff Gualtieri has been a rock-solid partner,” Grant said.

Grant was first elected in 2010 and has been re-elected three times since, but a challenge to his 2014 results led to a brief period where he was out of office, resetting his term limit.

Power has been crying foul about the term-limit reset since day one of his primary campaign, which he has largely self-funded. In addition to challenging Grant in the primary, Power has filed a lawsuit aimed at disqualifying Grant from running for re-election.

If Grant can get by him in the Aug. 28 primary election, he’ll be in solid position for another term. Democrat Heather Stahl and unaffiliated candidate Andy Warrener are also running, but HD 64 has a heavy Republican lean. Grant didn’t face an Election Day challenger in 2016.

The district covers a piece of northwestern Hillsborough County and some of eastern Pinellas County.

David Smith picks up more city endorsements in HD 28 race

Republican David Smith announced that Winter Springs Commissioners Kevin Cannon and Ken Greenberg are endorsing his campaign for Florida House District 28.

“It is my privilege to endorse David Smith for the Florida House of Representatives,” Cannon stated in a news release Wednesday by Smith’s campaign. “David’s military service, leadership experience, listening skills and temperament will enable him to serve as a very effective Representative for our community in the Florida Legislature.”

Smith, of Winter Springs, is a retired U.S. Marine colonel and business consultant. He is running against Democrat Lee Mangold, a cybersecurity business owner from Casselberry. They both want to succeed Republican state Rep. Jason Brodeur of Sanford.

“Although I’m the newest Winter Springs City Commissioner, I’ve been serving our community for many years,” Greenberg stated in the release. “It’s this experience that gives me the confidence to endorse David Smith for Florida House District 28. He too has served his county and community for many years, however, it’s David’s business experience and conservative values that make him the best person to represent the people of Seminole County. He has without reservation, my full support.”

Smith continues to roll in endorsements from municipal and county officials and state legislators in the largely-Republican Seminole County. These from Winter Springs are from his hometown.

“I’m honored to have the support of Commissioner Cannon and Commissioner Greenberg,” Smith stated in the release. “Both of these gentlemen are principled leaders in Winter Springs, the community that I’m blessed to call home. Their hard work and commitment to serve is making our community a better place for residents and businesses.”

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