2018 election – Page 7 – Florida Politics
Matt Spritz HD 89 Republican candidate

Palm Beach physicians endorse Matt Spritz for HD 89

The Palm Beach County Medical Society took the temperature of the race for House District 89 and gave Boca Raton Republican Matt Spritz its seal of approval.

PBCMS is a non-profit organization composed of area physicians that advocates for policies codifying professional and ethical standards in the health care industry. It has a long list of state legislative priorities, ranging from passing Medicaid expansion to outlawing tobacco sales in retail pharmacies.

“I’m honored to have the support of the Palm Beach County Medical Society,” said Spritz. “They have been a trusted leader in addressing and improving the important health concerns of both doctors and their patients. I appreciate their support and look forward to working with them on important healthcare issues.”

The PBCMS nod is the latest in a long line of endorsements for Spritz, who is one of five candidates vying to succeed term-limited Republican Rep. Bill Hager in the coastal Palm Beach County district.

The Boca Raton attorney faces accountant Michael Caruso in the Aug. 28 Republican primary. Running for the Democratic nomination are Jim Bonfiglio and Ryan Rossi. Unaffiliated candidate Deborah Gibson has also qualified for the ballot.

HD 89 covers a portion of Palm Beach County’s coastline from Singer Island to Boca Raton.

The district has a slight Republican lean. It is one of only three covering part of Palm Beach represented by a Republican, the others being HD 82 and HD 85. It has been held by Hager since it was redrawn prior to the 2012 elections.

Pro-life group endorses Scott Sturgill for CD 7

Florida Right to Life, a conservative group that advocates for state and federal legislation to end abortion, has endorsed Republican businessman Scott Sturgill in the race for Florida’s 7th Congressional District.

“Sturgill is the best pro-life candidate in this race,” said Florida Right to Life Chair J.G. Halisky.

Florida Right to Life is the second pro-life group to endorse Sturgill’s congressional campaign. In mid-May he earned the endorsement of the Family Research Council, which promotes a “Christian worldview” including advocating for an end to abortion, even in cases of rape or incest.

A statement on the Florida Right to Life website says “abortion for cases of incest does nothing to help the victim. In fact, it covers up the abuse by destroying the ‘evidence’ of the crime – the unborn child – and in many, many cases returns the wounded girl to the same dangerous circumstances that caused the pregnancy in the first place.” Another portion of that page says that “after suffering through a rape, women can take back control by offering life to their unborn children.”

Other endorsements for Sturgill include the Central Florida Police Benevolent Association, Seminole County Sheriff Dennis Lemma and former U.S. Rep. Sandy Adams.

“I have the endorsement from the FRTL because they know I’m serious when I say I’m pro-life,” said Sturgill. “I’m dedicated to protecting human life and especially for those most vulnerable.”

Sturgill is one of three Republicans vying to unseat freshman Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy in CD 7. Also running for the Republican nomination are Winter Park state Rep. Mike Miller and Orlando attorney Vennia Francois.

Murphy also faces a primary challenge from Chardo Richardson, an Air Force veteran and former head of the Central Florida Chapter of the ACLU.

CD 7 covers most of Seminole County and a portion of Orange County that includes downtown Orlando. The seat was one of a handful to become friendlier to Democrats after Florida courts approved new congressional maps in late 2015.

University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato‘s “Crystal Ball” currently lists CD 7 as “likely Democratic” in the fall. Even with the Democratic advantage, CD 7 is the biggest target for a Republican flip among Florida’s 27 Congressional districts.

Bob Cortes, Scott Plakon using classic rock to raise campaign cash

Central Florida state Reps. Bob Cortes and Scott Plakon are teaming up for a “really fun fundraising event” in Tampa later this month.

The two Republicans plan to shuttle supporters from Altamonte Springs to Tampa’s MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre to attend a July 21 concert headlined by classic rock acts REO Speedwagon and Chicago. The invite says those looking to attend should make the call soon, as space is limited.

The bus will depart from 1201 Bunnell Road at 3:45 p.m., the concert starts at 7:30 p.m. Attendees won’t Stay the Night in Tampa, though there’s no word on when the bus will get Back On The Road Again.

Cortes has represented House District 30, which covers parts of Orange and Seminole counties, since 2014. He’ll face the winner of a three-way Democratic primary in the Nov. 6 general election.

As of June 22, Cortes had more than $100,000 in his campaign account. His best funded challenger, Joy Goff-Marcil, had $14,327. The other two Democrats vying for the seat have mainly funded their campaigns through candidate loans.

Plakon represents Seminole County-based HD 29. He is also a member of the 2014 class, though he previously served in the House from 2008 through 2012. He’ll face the winner of the Democratic primary between Tracey Kagan and Darryl Block in November.

His most recent campaign finance report showed him with more than $90,000 raised and $77,354 in the bank. Kagan is the better funded candidate on the Democratic side, with more than $20,000 raised and another $10,000 in candidate loans. She has $18,869 on hand.

The fundraiser invitation is below.

Vern Buchanan’s haul rises, posts $640K for Q2

Republican U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan raised more than $640,000 over the last three months for his re-election campaign in Florida’s 16th Congressional District.

“Vern’s independence and effective record of achievements fighting for seniors, children, veterans and middle-class families are why so many in Southwest Florida are proud to call him their congressman,” said Max Goodman, Buchanan’s campaign manager.

Buchanan’s second-quarter report is not yet viewable on the Federal Elections Commission website, though his fundraising total beats his Q1 haul by $170,000. The campaign said it had about $2.5 million on hand at the end of the quarter.

The sixth-term congressman had the same on-hand total at the end of the first quarter, so Q2 spending totals will likely match the fundraising tally. Some of that money went toward a pair of campaign ads, the first touting Buchanan as an “independent leader” in Congress, and the second focused on his record combatting the opioid epidemic.

Challenging Buchanan this cycle are Democrats Jan Schneider and David Shapiro, neither of whom have announced their Q2 fundraising numbers. Shapiro, a Siesta Key attorney, is the frontrunner with about $500,000 banked at the end of Q1 compared to $80,000 for Schneider.

Buchanan’s fundraising announcement also saw his campaign trumpet CD 16’s Republican lean — it voted plus-11 for President Donald Trump — without ever using the word Republican. The campaign has avoided mentioning Buchanan’s political party in its messaging, including the TV ads.

While the district has been a safe Republican seat in past elections, University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato‘s Crystal Ball moved CD 16 from “Safe Republican” to “Likely Republican” in March, calling it a “deep sleeper Democratic target.”

Vern Buchanan

Vern Buchanan, Brian Mast targeted over ‘Health Care Sabotage’

Floridians for a Fair Shake said it plans to treat Republican U.S. Reps. Vern Buchanan and Brian Mast to a Fourth of July airshow, but they might not like the banners trailing the planes.

The left-leaning advocacy organization said one plane will fly over Florida’s 18th Congressional District, held by Mast, with a banner that reads “Brian Mast(er) of Health Care Sabotage,” referring to his votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act and eliminate protections for those with pre-existing conditions.

Floridians for a Fair Shake hit Mast with a May ad highlighting the effects of his  health care votes as well as money he has taken from insurance and pharmaceutical companies, implying the freshman Congressman helped them profit by pushing for higher health care costs with his repeal vote.

In Florida’s 16th Congressional District, held by Buchanan, beachgoers will see a plane banner that reads Health Care = Freedom, Tell Vern Buchanan 941-951-6643.”

“Like Mast, Buchanan also voted to repeal health care and return to exclusions for pre-existing conditions,” Floridians for a Fair Shake said in a Tuesday email.

Both planes are slated to be “wheels up” at 11:45 a.m. Wednesday and reaming in the air for the noon hour. The group said the aerial attack isn’t the only they have in the works for Buchanan’s Sarasota-based district, however.

“In addition to the Suncoast plane banner, chalk art on Lido and Siesta Key will highlight Buchanan’s devastating votes on health care for beachgoers,” the group said.

Floridians for a Fair Shake also plans to have spokespeople at Witham Field in Stuart and Albert Witted Airport in St. Petersburg to “discuss the impact of Mast’s and Buchanan’s health care votes on Floridians.”

“Next year, premiums are predicted to rise 16.9 percent, increasing the cost of the average Floridian family’s health care by $1,011. Last week, health care insurer Cigna requested a 31 percent rate hike for Floridians for 2019,” the email said.

Mast faces Democrats Lauren Baer and Pam Kieth in his quest second term. University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato‘s Crystal Ball currently lists CD 18 as “likely Republican” in the fall.

Buchanan is likely to face Democrat David Shapiro in the November general election. In March, Sabato’s Crystal Ball changed its assessment of CD 16 from “Safe Republican” to “Likely Republican” in March, calling it a “deep sleeper Democratic target.”

Money flows in GOP Attorney General race

Former Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Ashley Moody continues to post six-figure contribution totals, while her opponent in the Republican primary for attorney general, state Rep. Frank White, has started to dig into his campaign treasury to pay for ads, new finance reports show.

On the Democratic side of the race to replace term-limited Attorney General Pam Bondi, Rep. Sean Shaw of Tampa maintains a big lead in the fundraising contest over Ryan Torrens, a lawyer from Hillsborough County.

White, a Pensacola Republican, spent more than $1 million, mostly on advertising, from June 1 to June 22, while raising $84,200, according to campaign finance reports posted on the state Division of Elections website.

White released a pair of commercials last month that are part of a statewide TV ad buy that is expected to run up to the Aug. 28 primary.

The first criticizes politicians, liberal judges and elites that “threaten the Constitution and mock our values.” The second ad highlights White’s pro-life stance and support for the National Rifle Association and President Donald Trump.

White, who serves as general counsel and chief financial officer for the chain of Sandy Sansing auto dealerships, has put $2.77 million of his own money into the race.

White had about $2.4 million on hand as of June 22.

Of the $84,200 raised between June 1 and June 22, $39,000 came from other auto dealerships and real estate companies tied to those dealerships.

Braman auto dealerships and real estate companies in South Florida accounted for $24,000.

Moody, meanwhile, posted $285,655 in contributions during the same time frame to her campaign account and the political committee Friends of Ashley Moody.

With $19,150 from attorneys and law firms, and $45,085 from bankers, insurers and real estate interests during the time frame, Moody was sitting on a combined total of more than $2.2 million as of June 22.

Moody, who continues to receive in-kind support from the Republican Party of Florida, also claimed $23,000 from auto dealers in the three-week span.

The Republican Party, through expenditures for research, staffing and consulting, has provided Moody with $382,057 in-kind assistance, including $48,995 in the first three weeks of June.

Moody and her political committee spent $143,647 during the same time, with the largest expenditure being a $100,000 contribution to the state GOP.

She also spent $19,142 on advertising and printing.

Shaw, a Tampa attorney who released his first campaign biographical video on Monday, posted $60,468 in contributions to his campaign account and the political committee Sean Shaw for Florida between June 1 and June 22.

Shaw also benefited from $40,187 worth of in-kind assistance from the Florida Democratic Party.

Shaw put $3,810 of his own money into the contest, and lawyers and claims adjusters accounted for $22,352 of Shaw’s three-week total.

Shaw, a former state insurance consumer advocate, had $388,111 available in the two accounts as of June 22, $16,858 less than when the month began.

Torrens, who is counting on increasing his finances through state’s public matching-funds program, posted $11,696 in the three-week span, including $5,450 in loans. He had $2,901 on hand as of June 22.

Jeff Siskind, an attorney from Wellington who opened a campaign account on June 20, posted a $5,250 loan to himself the same day. Almost all of the money, $5,210,92, was used to pay his filing fee to run without party affiliation.

Keith Perry

Keith Perry scores another fundraising win in SD 8

Gainesville Republican Sen. Keith Perry outraised his opponents during the first three weeks of June, his second reporting period in a row atop the standings.

From June 1 through June 22, Perry raised $45,750 for his campaign account and tacked on another $28,000 for his political committee, Building a Prosperous Florida.

The campaign haul included numerous checks from businesses affiliated with beverage distributor Doug Cone, and political committees tied to Miami Sen. Anitere Flores, Fort Myers Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, Sanford Rep. Jason Brodeur, Fleming Island Rep. Travis Cummings and Cape Coral Rep. Dane Eagle.

Cone also showed up on the committee report with a $5,000 check, as did Elkton Sen. Travis Hutson via one of his political committees, First Coast Business Foundation.

To date, Perry has raised more than $575,000 for his 2018 re0election bid. He had $461,605 in the bank on June 22.

His leading Democratic challenger, Gainesville physician Kayser Enneking, showed $24,335 raised in her new reports, including three checks for the campaign maximum of $1,000. That contribution limit will reset for the general election if Enneking is successful in the Aug. 28 Democratic primary.

The max donors in Enneking’s new report were Gainesville pilot Jay Curtis, Jacksonville attorney Wayne Hogan and Earleton retiree Catherine Parlapiano.

Since entering the race, Enneking has raised a total of $396,400, including $10,000 in loans. On June 22, she had nearly $324,000 on hand, including $250,687 in hard money and another $73,188 in her political committee, Florida Knows Excellence.

Her primary opponent, former schoolteacher Olysha Magruder, has raised tacked on $1,450 in her report. She has raised $27,160 thus far and has $10,485 in the bank.

Also running for the seat is former Gainesville City Commissioner Charles Goston, who suffered a landslide defeat at the hands of now-commissioner Gigi Simmons earlier this year. He is running as an unaffiliated candidate, and his first report shows only a $1,300 loan in the contribution column, most of which paid for the $1,187 qualifying fee.

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. It is a top target for both Republicans and Democrats this fall.

Despite Democrats holding a 9-point advantage in voter registrations, Perry ended up defeating Smith by 4 points on Election Day. SD 8 also voted in favor of Donald Trump, though only by two tenths of a point.

Belinda Keiser dumps another $200K in to SD 25 bid

After stocking her campaign account with a $500,000 loan in May, Belinda Keiser put another $200,000 down for her bid to succeed exiting Senate President Joe Negron in Senate District 25.

Keiser, a Democrat-turned-Republican who lives 80 miles away from the Treasure Coast district, brought in just $21,775 in outside money.

Her donors included the Florida Police Benevolent Association and lobby firm Colodny Fass as well as various individuals and businesses, many of them from out of state and only one of them from within SD 25. That lone contribution was a $250 check from J & P Macarthur Inc. of Hobe Sound.

Keiser also spent more than $300,000 last month, including $196,000 on media placement through Southern Campaign Resources and $64,000 on mailers through Clearwater-based Direct Mail Systems. She finished the June 1 through June 22 reporting period with $432,890 in the bank, including the $700,000 in loans.

Stuart Rep. Gayle Harrell is Keiser’s main competition in the Republican primary, though Dr. Joe Smith of West Palm Beach also qualified for the ballot.

Harrell showed $44,855 in fundraising and $12,326 in spending in her new report. Her donors included lobby firm Becker & Poliakoff and numerous political committees, including ones tied Republican Sen. Aaron Bean and Republican Rep. Ray Rodrigues.

Expenditures included more than $5,600 in payments to Jupiter-based Public Concepts for printing and advertising expenses. Since filing for the seat in October 2017 — well before Negron’s announcement he would leave two years early — Harrell has raised $69,285 and kicked in another $100,000 in loans. She finished the reporting period with $156,421 on hand.

The only income listed in Smith’s report, his first since filing, was a $5,000 loan. Meanwhile, the lone Democrat in the race, Robert Levy, raised $4,125 and spent nearly $14,000.

His contributions included a $1,000 checks from Stuart artist John Longmaid and Winter Park animal care worker Nicole Taylor. His spending included $6,500 for campaign staff and $5,000 for consulting from Washington-based Jones & Associates.

Since filing in February, he has raised $13,650 and loaned his campaign another $150,000. He had $93,500 on hand on June 22.

SD 25 includes the whole of Martin and St. Lucie counties, as well as part of Palm Beach County. The special election to replace Negron will be held concurrently with the 2018 midterm elections. The primary is Aug. 28 and the general election is Nov. 6.

Andrew Gillum: Replace ICE with someone who cares

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum became the first Florida Demoratic gubernatorial candidate Tuesday to adopt a progressive position that’s growing in support and controversy nationally: the abolition of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

“I support a comprehensive immigration overhaul that includes abolishment of ICE in its current form to be replaced with a more compassionate and focused agency that actually keeps us safer,” Gillum stated in a news release issued Tuesday.

Donald Trump has turned ICE into a police and child separation agency — not a border enforcement agency that treats people humanely and compassionately,” Gillum continued. “A decision between security or compassionate immigration policy is a false choice; we can have them both, and I promise to fight for that as governor.”

The notion of abolishing ICE  had its rise with the revelations this summer that President Trump’s zero-tolerance policy toward undocumented or illegal immigrants led to the splits of thousands of families in a matter of months, sending young children alone to detention centers. The idea picked up national attention when progressive Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, an ICE abolitionist, won her surprise congressional primary in New York last month, and a handful of other Democrats nationally have picked up the rallying cry, though few as prominent as a Florida gubernatorial candidate.

Then again, governors have little say about federal agencies.

If Gillum wins the August 28 primary, or if the Democrat who wins takes the same position, it’s sure to lead to major rhetorical showdows this fall. At last week’s Republcian Party of Florida Sunshine Summit the Republican candidates Adam Putnam and Ron DeSantis, and many of the speakers, ridiculed progressive Democrats for suggesting ICE should be abolished. It would be an issue with clear-cut diametric positions.

Gillum faces Winter Park businessman Chris King, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, Palm Beach businessman Jeff Greene, and former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine in the Aug. 28 primary.

Fracking appears to be out: group gets Ron DeSantis to voice support for ban

Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis became the seventh and final major gubernatorial candidate to say he supports a ban on oil and gas fracking in Florida when the activist group Food & Water Action pinned him down at a campaign event Monday.

Following DeSantis’ rally in Tampa Monday he shook hands with members of the crowd, and that’s when Food & Water Action volunteer Ginger Goepper asked him if he supports a ban on fracking in Florida.

“Yeah, yep, yeah,” DeSantis replies, as shown in a video the group released Tuesday afternoon.

Last month Goepper asked Republican Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam if he opposed fracking. Putnam replied a bit more loquaciously, “We don’t need to be fracking in Florida. Our geology, our limestone, we do not need to be fracking in Florida for oil and gas. It is just not the right spot.”

Putnam’s campaign then confirmed that was his position. As of mid-afternoon Tuesday, DeSantis’ campaign had not yet confirmed his support for a fracking ban.

With the two leading Republican gubernatorial candidates apparently in opposition to fracking in Florida, the group declared victory, since all five major Democratic candidates for governor,  Gwen Graham, Philip Levine, Andrew Gillum, Chris King, and Jeff Greene, are on the record supporting a ban.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is an oil and gas extraction technique in which drillers inject high-pressure water and chemicals deep into the ground to fracture the rock and thereby provide the drillers better access to oil and gas reserves. It is not practiced in Florida but has been the topic of intense debate in the Florida Legislature and in local governments for several years. Last year Senate Bill 462, to ban fracking, made some advances but died in the Appropriations Committee. A similar bill in the House of Representatives died in infancy.

Opponents charge fracking risks contaminating groundwater, and they also charge it is the cause of unusual earthquakes hitting such states as Oklahoma and Ohio. The oil and gas industry disputes those risks and insist fracking is an effective and safe way to increase America’s domestic energy supplies.

The Food & Water Action Fund is an organization that is campaigning for the reduction of fossil fuel extraction and burning for energy in general, and against fracking in particular.

“As the self-proclaimed most conservative major candidate in the Florida Gubernatorial race, Congressman DeSantis’s stance against fracking displays the growing bipartisan support for protecting Florida from the risks of fracking and offshore drilling,” the group stated in a news release. “Congressman DeSantis is the last of the seven major gubernatorial candidates to now be on the public record as being against fracking in Florida. We now must ensure that whomever is elected as Florida’s next governor will live up to their campaign pledge and pass an executive order to ban fracking in our Sunshine State.”

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