2018 election – Page 5 – Florida Politics
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.”

Bob Gualtieri endorses Jeremy Bailie for HD 69

Republican Jeremy Bailie picked up an endorsement for his House District 69 campaign from Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri on Monday.

“I’m pleased to offer my support for Jeremy Bailie in his campaign for the Florida State House of Representatives, District 69,” Gualtieri said. “I’ve seen the dedication that he has to protect our community, including supporting our first responders.”

“Jeremy will be a strong voice for our community in Tallahassee and make sure our first responders have the tools and resources to keep our community safe.”

The Gualtieri endorsement comes after a recent nod from Pinellas County Commissioners John Morroni as well as Pinellas County Property Appraiser Mike Twitty and Pinellas County Clerk of Court Ken Burke, among others.

“I am honored to have the support of Sheriff Gualtieri,” Bailie said. “Sheriff Gualtieri is a well-respected leader on many issues that affect our community including school safety, immigration reform, mental health, juvenile justice, and the list goes on. I look forward to working with him in the Legislature to give our law enforcement the tools to keep Pinellas County safe.”

Bailie is one of two Republicans running for HD 69, the other being Ray Blacklidge. Also running are Democrats Jennifer Webb and Javier Centonzio.

HD 69 is currently held by Republican Rep. Kathleen Peters, who is exiting the House before hitting term limits to run for a seat on the Pinellas County Commission.

Through the end of January, Blacklidge led the field in fundraising and his February activity should help him keep that advantage, though Webb has surpassed him in cash on hand.

He raised $9,292 last month for a to-date total of $103,839 raised and $58,432 cash on hand. Through the same date, Webb had raised $80,439 and had $72,300 in the bank, while Centenzio had raised $33,635 through the end of last month and had about $26,000 on hand.

Bailie’s February campaign finance report is not yet available through the Florida Division of Elections, though he had raised $35,659 as of Jan. 31 and had $28,612 in the bank.

Nick DiCeglie adds $10K for HD 66 campaign in February

Republican Nick DiCeglie was the top fundraiser in the House District 66 field last month with $10,560 raised.

The February report brings the Pinellas County businessman’s campaign total to $90,354, with $72,216 on hand.

The new money came in across 29 contributions, including a half dozen for the primary campaign maximum of $1,000.

Max donors for the month included ASG Consulting Group, RSG Consulting Group, Florida Farm PAC, FTBA Transportation PAC, LEMA Construction and accounting firm Sams IV.

Expenditures for the month totaled $2,114 and included a $1,000 payment to Jacksonville-based Political Capital for fundraising consulting and a $998 payment to Tallahassee-based Supernova Digital Communications for social media consulting.

Though DiCeglie posted the highest total for the month, he trails Republican primary opponent Berny Jacques in overall fundraising. The pair are competing to take over for termed-out Republican Rep. Larry Ahern.

Jacques added $1,175 in February and spent $8,291 between his campaign and committee, Protect Pinellas.

The St. Petersburg attorney finished the month with $138,545 in total fundraising since entering the race in March 2017, and had $100,701 in the bank.

Jacques’ February money came in through seven contributions, all to his campaign. Top contributors for the reporting period included Samuel Bright and Sandra Hutton, each of whom gave $500.

Spending included more than $7,000 in payments to Gainesville-based Data Targeting Research for printing and consulting work, with $700 paying for accounting costs through Robinson Hanks Young & Roberts and $500 heading to campaign staff.

Also running for HD 69 are Democrat Alex Hereen and Reform Party candidate Paul Anthony Bachmann.

Hereen raised $3,556 in February and spent $3,939, leaving him with about $5,600 in the bank, while Bachmann reported just $345 in contributions since filing for the seat in August.

HD 66 is a safe Republican district. It covers part of western Pinellas County, including Clearwater, Belleair, Indian Rocks Beach and Indian Shores.

Philip Levine launching new TV ads on gun violence

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine is launching new television commercials Tuesday addressing post-Parkland calls for assault weapon bans and universal background checks.

The 30-second spot “The Moment” is being released in both English and Spanish versions for English and Spanish television stations in all Florida television markets, part of a $1.3 million ad buy from his official gubernatorial campaign. His independent political committee All About Florida also has been spending millions of dollars on television commercials.

With video cutting from shots of Levine speaking to rallies following the Feb. 14 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Levine begins by declaring, “This is one of those moments when we lose something so precious to us, there is nothing we won’t do to make it right.

“Now Floridians are standing up to gun violence, demanding universal background checks, bans on assault rifles, and protecting our schools,” he continues. “I’m Philip Levine, and I’m running for Governor because I’m a parent who will not stop at anything until we make our gun laws stronger and our children safe.”

Levine, the former Miami Beach mayor, is in a battle with former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and Winter Park businessman Chris King for the Aug. 28 Democratic primary nomination to run for governor. The leading Republicans are U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis of Ponte Vedra Beach and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

“While session has ended with a small step forward on gun reform, the calls for bold action demanded by the majority of Floridians were ignored by the governor and Legislature. It’s deeply frustrating that Republicans in Tallahassee were more focused on arming school personnel than taking military-style weapons off the streets. The new ad released today reiterates Mayor Levine’s commitment to take these issues directly to the people as Governor, and seize the moment to make our gun laws stronger and make sure our children are safe,” Christian Ulvert, senior advisor to Levine, stated in a news release.


Chip LaMarca adds $24K for HD 93 campaign in February

Republican Chip LaMarca raised another $24,325 for his House District 93 campaign last month, putting him at $194,000 in total fundraising since he filed in October.

“As a lifelong resident of Broward County, I am excited for the opportunity to represent our dynamic community in the Florida House and believe our campaign’s momentum is growing every day,” LaMarca said.

“Working together, we can achieve real change that improves the lives of all Floridians. I am committed to keeping our economy strong, protecting our pristine beaches and quality of life, and equipping students with a high-quality education that prepares them for success. Broward families will always come first with me.”

LaMarca, currently a Broward County Commissioner, is one of four candidates vying to replace termed-out Republican Rep. George Moraitis in the Broward County district.

He faces Democrats Emma Collum and Stephanie Myers as well as no-party candidate Kelly Milam.

LaMarca’s February money came in across 58 contributions, including a dozen for the campaign maximum of $1,000.

Max donations last month came mostly from businesses, including York Security Solutions, Interstate Recycling of Florida, All-Pro Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, Kaufman Lynn Construction and KD Construction. LaMarca also received a check from lobbying firm Southern Strategy Group.

February spending measured in at $2,568, including nearly $1,500 for communications services through Fort Lauderdale-based Smarter Story and $987 for photography services through Downtown Photo.

LaMarca’s campaign account had $191,305 on hand heading into March.

Collum is in the No. 2 spot in the race with $65,795 raised and $37,339 on hand on Feb. 28, followed by Myers with about $9,500 on hand. Milam has not yet filed a campaign finance report.

HD 93 includes the municipalities of Deerfield Beach, Hillsboro Beach, Lighthouse Point, Pompano Beach, Lauderdale By The Sea, Sea Ranch Lakes, Oakland Park, Wilton Manors and Fort Lauderdale. It is a reliably Republican district.

Kayser Enneking announces 15 local endorsements for SD 8 campaign

Democratic Senate District 8 candidate Kayser Enneking announced a bulk endorsement from local officials in the Gainesville-based district currently held by Republican Sen. Keith Perry.

On the endorsement list were Alachua County Commissioners Hutch Hutchinson and Chuck Chestnut, Putnam County Commissioner Chip Laibl, Alachua County School Board members Gunnar Paulson, Eileen Roy, Rob Hyatt, and Gainesville City Commissioners Helen Warren, Adrian Hayes-Santos and David Arreola.

“We deserve leadership in education, healthcare, and environmental protection,” Hutchinson said. “We need Kayser Enneking to represent our community and our values in Tallahassee.”

Enneking also picked up support from former Gainesville Commissioners Susan Bottcher, Thomas Hawkins, and Warren Nielsen, as well as former mayors Jean Chalmers and Paula Delaney.

“I am proud to have the support of so many outstanding public servants here in our community. They work tirelessly to help make sure our children get a quality education and to keep our city and county growing in the right direction,” Enneking in a press release. “It speaks to the growing momentum of our campaign that so many wonderful leaders are backing my campaign and vision for making life better for Florida families.”

Enneking is running against Olysha Magruder for the Democratic nomination in SD 8. Perry is currently the only other candidate running for the seat.

Through February, Perry led in fundraising with $261,000 raised and $233,000 on hand in his campaign account, while Enneking had raised $189,000, including $10,000 in loans, and has about $153,000 in the bank.

Magruder is in a distant third on the fundraising trail with $11,431 raised and $6,130 on hand.

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

Despite voting for Barack Obama twice, the seat tilted toward Donald Trump in 2016 by less than a point. That cycle also saw Perry score a four-point win over former Democratic Sen. Rod Smith.

Rob Panepinto adds $60K to his Orange County mayoral run accounts

Orange County mayoral candidate Rob Panepinto brought in more than $60,000 in February for the two funds supporting his campaign this year.

Panepinto, a Winter Park businessman, reported raising $38,300 for his official election campaign and $22,500 for his independent political committee, Vision Orange County, according to data posted on public sites.

He now has raised $284,100 in his campaign fund, and had about $230,000 left in the bank at the end of February, according to post on the Orange County Supervisor of Elections website. Vision Orange County now has raised $116,649, and finished the month with just over $50,000 left, according to the Florida Division of Elections.

His two chief opponents in the race, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings and Orange County Commissioner Pete Clarke, had their February campaign reports posted earlier. Demings’ campaign and political committee combined for just under $500,000 cash at the end of the month. Clarke filled his account with a $200,000 loan last month and finished February with over $250,000 in cash.

The trio seeks to succeed Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, who is leaving office due to term limits.

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