2018 legislative races Archives - Page 3 of 42 - Florida Politics
gruters

Joe Gruters holding Tallahassee fundraiser for SD 23 bid

Sarasota Republican Rep. Joe Gruters will be raising cash in Tallahassee later this month for his bid to succeed Greg Steube in Senate District 23.

The Sept. 18 reception will be held in the library of the Governors Club, 202 South Adams St., from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Those looking to attend can direct their RSVPs to Kristin Lamb via Kristin@FLFStrategies.com or 850-339-5354.

Gruters is the chair of the Sarasota County Republican Party and also served as co-chair Donald Trump’s Florida campaign. He was elected to House District 73 two years ago in a blowout win against Democratic nominee James Golden.

Before Gruters’ House re-election campaign got fully underway, there was a seismic shakeup in the Sarasota delegation caused by U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney’s announcement that he would not seek re-election in Florida’s 17th Congressional District.

Steube, just two years into his first term in the state Senate, and Venice Rep. Julio Gonzalez declared for the race and Steube ultimately won the Republican nomination with ease.

Still, that left SD 23 open and gave Gruters the opportunity to make the jump to the state Senate years earlier than he would otherwise. His only opponent in the Republican-leaning seat is Democratic nominee Faith Olivia Babis.

As of Aug. 23, Gruters had more than $115,000 in hard money in the bank with another $13,000 or so in his affiliated political committee, Friends of Joe Gruters PC. When Gruters files his next round of reports, he’ll show at least $3,500 in contributions thanks to state Rep. Ben Albritton helping out fellow Republican Senate candidates last month.

Babis, meanwhile, has only raised a little over $25,000 for her campaign and has about $5,000 in the bank. Her lax adherence to state campaign finance laws earlier on in the race led to the Florida Division of Elections levying some hefty fees against her, though they are currently being appealed by elections attorney Mark Herron.

SD 23 covers all of Sarasota County and a portion of coastal Charlotte County. Trump carried the district by 15 points two years ago as Steube defeated Democratic challenger Frank Alcock 59-41 percent.

Election Day is Nov. 6. The fundraiser invitation is below.

Janet Cruz TV ad

Janet Cruz says she ‘understands the odds’ in first SD 18 ad

House Minority Leader Janet Cruz is introducing herself to Senate District 18 voters with a TV ad covering her background and her vision for the Tampa-based district if she’s elected over incumbent Republican Sen. Dana Young in the fall.

The 30-second ad, titled “Odds,” is shot in black and white and features the Tampa Democrat recounting the story of her humble upbringing before saying she’ll look out for everyday people if she moves up from the state House to the state Senate.

“When you’re the daughter of a single mother who worked in a factory, your odds of success aren’t high, and when you become a mom at 16 they get worse,” Cruz says in the ad. “I’m Janet Cruz, and odds didn’t define me — I did.

“I finished high school, graduated college, opened a successful healthcare business and now I’m running for state Senate because I understand the odds for all of us and I will always work to put them in our favor,” she says.

Her campaign said the ad is backed up by a six-figure media buy and will start airing on broadcast and cable next week.

FCC filings show media buys for Tampa’s ABC and NBC affiliates, which are scheduled to start running the ads on Sept. 10. Those filings indicate the advertisements were paid for by the Florida Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, the Florida Democratic Party’s state Senate campaign arm.

Cruz expanded on her background in a press release announcing the ad buy, adding that she turned the challenging moments in her life into opportunities.

“I am running for state senate because too many families have the decks stacked against them because the powerful insiders and well-connected continue to deprive our schools of needed funding, deny access to quality healthcare and do little to protect our children from senseless gun violence,” Cruz said.

“While my opponent attacks, I am asking voters for their trust. I believe that no matter the challenge we face – if we stand together – the odds against us won’t define us in Tampa. We will,” she concluded.

SD 18 is one of the Florida Democratic Party’s top targets for a flip this fall and has a close partisan split — the northwestern Hillsborough district, which covers much of Tampa, voted plus-6 for Hillary Clinton two years ago while at the same time electing Young with a plurality of the vote.

Cruz’ ad will hit the airwaves about seven weeks after Young released her first ad of the 2018 election cycle, which pitched her as a problem solver in a time of partisan fighting.

Neither Cruz nor Young faced a challenger in the primary. Unlike two years ago, when four candidates made the Election Day ballot, the two women will be the only choices when voters mark their ballots for the Nov. 6 general election.

Cruz’ ad is below.

Dana Young and Jackie Toledo holding joint fundraiser Thursday night

State Sen. Dana Young and state Rep. Jackie Toledo, both Tampa Republicans, are teaming up for a joint campaign fundraiser Thursday night.

The reception will be held on the Yacht StarShip, which docks at 603 Channelside Drive in Tampa, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Those looking to snag a boarding pass can send an RSVP to Kristin Lamb via Kristin@FLFStrategies.com or 850-339-5354.

The host committee for the fundraiser features more than a dozen names, including Yacht StarShip captain Troy Manthey and fellow maritime industry veteran John C. Timmel, who discovered the American Victory and helped bring it down to Tampa. Also on the list are George Howell III of Holland & Knight and Jan Gorrie of Ballard Partners.

Young was elected to Senate District 18 in 2016 and is running for re-election in the fall against House Minority Leader Janet Cruz. Early polling shows the two women in a close race, though Young had a threefold fundraising advantage over Cruz as of Aug. 23.

Toledo succeeded Young in Hillsborough County’s House District 60 two years ago and is up against Democrat Debra Bellanti in the fall. To date, Toledo has raised nearly $225,000 for her re-election bid and has $135,000 on hand while Bellanti has cleared $39,000 and has $30,700 in the bank.

SD 18 is one of the Florida Democratic Party’s top targets for a flip this fall and has a close partisan split — it voted plus-6 for Hillary Clinton two years ago. HD 60, however, went narrowly for Trump as Toledo scored a 14-point win over 2016 Democratic nominee David Singer.

The general election is Nov. 6. The fundraiser invitation is below.

Dana Young & Jackie Toledo fundraiser 9.6.2018

Jeff Brandes holding Thursday fundraiser as Lindsay Cross struggles to raise cash

St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes is holding another fundraiser Thursday for his re-election bid in Senate District 24, where he holds a better than 20-to-1 cash lead over Democratic challenger Lindsay Cross.

Among the several dozen names listed on the host committee for the St. Petersburg reception are former St. Pete Mayors Rick Baker and Bill Foster, Pinellas County Commissioners Jay Beyrouti and Karen Seel, Pinellas Clerk of the Court Ken Burke, Tampa Sen. Dana Young, former House Speaker Will Weatherford, St. Petersburg City Councilman Ed Montanari and state Rep. Kathleen Peters, who won the Republican nomination for Pinellas County Commission District 6 last week.

Brandes’ event will be held in the Grand Ballroom of The Birchwood, 340 Beach Drive NE, starting at 5:30 p.m. Those looking for more information or to send in an RSVP can contact Rick Porter or Ivey Rooney via 407-849-1112 or Ivey@PoliticalCapitalFlorida.com.

SD 24 is among the seven state Senate seats Florida Democrats said they were targeting in the 2018 cycle, and early polling showed their initial recruit, trial lawyer Carrie Pilonwithin 5 points of Brandes among likely voters. Pilon’s campaign ended abruptly, however, due to unexpected health problems of a close family member.

Cross stepped in at the last minute and, while she was put in an unenviable position, she has been somewhat flat on the fundraising trail. As of Aug. 23, she had raised $48,725 for her campaign account and had about $44,250 in the bank.

She also failed to preserve the momentum built by Pilon’s campaign when it comes to the polls. The first measure of the race since she became the Democratic nominee showed Brandes with a 39-19 percent lead over Cross. With 42 percent of voters undecided, there’s room for growth for both candidates.

Brandes meanwhile, has raised about $820,000 for his campaign account, including $300,000 in self-funding, and had $531,370 on hand on Aug. 23. Should Cross start to catch up, Brandes has another $360,000 ready to deploy in his affiliated political committee, Liberty Florida.

SD 24 covers most of southern Pinellas except for the tip of the peninsula, which is included in neighboring SD 19. According to the most recent bookclosing report published by the Florida Division of Elections, Republicans hold a 4-point advantage in voter registrations within the district.

Despite the GOP advantage, SD 24 voted for Barack Obama twice before going plus-7 for Donald Trump in 2016.

The fundraiser invitation is below.

Brandes fundraiser 9.6.2018

Gainesville Democrats hit Ron DeSantis’ healthcare record

Gainesville Democrats held a press conference at City Hall on Tuesday afternoon where they lambasted Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis’ record of voting against health care protections during his three terms in Congress.

Alachua County Democratic Party Executive Committee Chair Cynthia Chestnut, Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe, City Commissioner David Arreola, Florida’s 3rd Congressional District nominee Yvonne Hayes Hinson and Senate District 8 nominee Kayser Enneking all gave their own takes on what Florida Democrats say is DeSantis’ recording of “voting against Florida” in the U.S. House.

“Ron DeSantis has spent the last six years in congress attacking healthcare,” Chestnut said, citing DeSantis’ votes to “gut protections” for individuals with pre-existing conditions and his support for the House bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would have stripped health insurance coverage from 67,200 people living in CD 3 according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Additionally, data compiled by the left-leaning Center for American Progress estimates that there are 280,300 Floridians living in CD 3 with pre-existing conditions.

There were no mentions of “monkey” comments or out-of-state racist robocalls — each of the speakers focused on the clear difference between Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum and DeSantis when it comes to healthcare.

Gillum, who defied all polling by winning the five-way Democratic primary for Governor last week, is a proponent of Medicaid expansion as well as “Medicare for All.” It is estimated that Medicaid expansion provide health coverage to 800,000 Floridians.

“When you need healthcare in America, you get it by law,” said Enneking, a physician. “But this healthcare is often too late. ‘Trump Care,’ which is what they support, would deny coverage for pre-existing conditions.

“Medicare is the best system of healthcare in America — why should Americans have to wait to 65, or 67 in Ron DeSantis’ world, to get it?” she asked.

Hinson, who faces incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho in November, said she “believes healthcare is a right and not a privilege. Ron DeSantis thinks it’s a privilege.”

“As Governor, Ron DeSantis will deny coverage to 800,000 Floridians. Everyone deserves healthcare and I will make sure they get it,” she said.

Arreola, the youngest commissioner ever elected in Gainesville, said he spent some time as one of DeSantis’ constituents when he attended Flagler College. During his time at the St. Augustine campus, he said DeSantis cast votes that would strip away his coverage under the ACA provision that allows young adults to remain on their parent’s healthcare plans until age 26.

“Florida cannot rely on Ron DeSantis to expand healthcare,” he said.

Poe, who was elected Gainesville Mayor in 2016, said the stark contrast between the Republican and Democratic healthcare platforms would be evident up and down the ballot in November.

“For U.S. Senate, we have Bill Nelson, a staunch defender of healthcare,” he said, before reminding those present that Gov. Rick Scott, who is challenging Nelson in the fall, “defrauded Medicaid” to the tune of $1.7 billion when he ran hospital chain Columbia/HCA.

To solve the healthcare crisis, Poe said “we need to elect Democrats top to bottom.”

Ben Albritton sends backup to embattled GOP state Senators

Wauchula Republican state Rep. Ben Albritton is in good position to ascend to the state Senate in the fall and has started putting some of the cash he’s amassed in his affiliated political committee to the most vulnerable incumbent Republicans in the 40-member chamber.

Albritton’s committee, Advancing Florida Agriculture, has raised nearly $400,000 since he filed for Senate District 26, a Republican stronghold covering all of DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Highlands and Okeechobee counties as well as parts of Charlotte, Lee and Polk.

SD 26 is open due to Sebring Sen. Denise Grimsley’s ultimately unsuccessful bid for the GOP nomination to succeed Adam Putnam as Agriculture Commissioner. Albritton’s only challenger in the SD 26 contest is Lake Wales Democrat Catherine Price, whom he has outraised eightfold in hard money alone.

With extra cash in the bank, Advancing Florida Agriculture sent $11,000 to SD 8 Sen. Keith Perry, who faces well-funded Democratic challenger Kayser Enneking in November; $11,000 to former Republican Rep. Ed Hooper, who is even with former Democratic Rep. Amanda Murphy in the polls despite his massive fundraising advantage in SD 16; $11,000 to Republican Rep. Manny Diaz Jr., who faces Democratic nominee David Perez in his bid to succeed term-limited Sen. Rene Garcia in South Florida’s SD 36; and $6,000 to SD 18 Sen. Dana Young, who is polling behind House Minority Leader Janet Cruz in spite of her threefold cash advantage.

In each instance, Albritton sent $1,000 to the lawmaker’s campaign account with the balance heading to their affiliated political committees.

Though Sarasota Rep. Joe Gruters is likely to cruise in his bid for SD 23 and Ocala Sen. Dennis Baxley only faces nominal opposition in his re-election bid in SD 12, both Republicans picked up $3,500 in contributions to their campaign and committee accounts during the Aug. 25 through Aug. 31 reporting period.

Also on the ledger was an $11,000 transfer to Marili Cancio, who is challenging Democratic Sen. Annette Taddeo in SD 40. Again, $1,000 of those funds headed to Cancio’s campaign account and another $10,000 went to her affiliated political committee.

In all, Advancing Florida Agriculture shelled out $57,000 in contributions to Republican state Senate candidates and finished August with nearly $138,000 left in the tank.

When it comes to his campaign account, Albritton had cleared more than $240,000 in total fundraising for his Senate bid as of Aug. 31, with about $149,000 banked. Price had raised $31,312 as of Aug. 23 with $5,155 on hand.

David Perez SD 36

David Perez adds $65K days after winning SD 36 Democratic primary

A political committee tied to David Perez, the Democratic nominee in Senate District 36, posted its best fundraising numbers to date for reporting period covering the last week of August.

Floridians for Change, chaired by attorney Mark Herron, reeled in $65,000 between Aug. 25 and Aug. 31, bringing its overall fundraising to $231,500 since it started accepting contributions in late June.

The haul came in across a half-dozen checks, with the International Association of Firefighters throwing in $25,000 to support Perez, a former firefighter and paramedic. A political committee tied to Fort Lauderdale Democratic Sen. Gary Farmer showed up at the same level, while committees linked to the United Teachers of Dade and Miami-Dade’s SEIU Local 1991 showed up with $5,000 contributions. The Latino Victory Project and Miami Airport Center Self Storage rounded out the set by giving $2,500 each.

The new money wasn’t offset by any expenditures, though Floridians for Change did report some heavy spending ahead of Perez’ primary showdown against Julian Santos, whom he defeated 54-46 percent in the two-way contest held last week.

The committee started September with more than $174,000 on hand.

When it comes to overall fundraising, Hialeah Republican Rep. Manny Diaz Jr. has Perez beat by a country mile. The two are much closer, however, when it comes to cash on hand heading into the general election.

As of Aug. 23, Diaz’ campaign account had raised $477,740 and had about $216,000 banked while his affiliated political committee, Better Florida Education, has raised $336,200 since the beginning of the 2018 election cycle and has about $62,000 at the ready.

Perez, ex-aide to former Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas, has raised about $92,500 in hard dollars including a $1,900 candidate loan. He had about $64,000 in his campaign account on Aug. 23.

Diaz has a combined war chest of $278,072, putting him $40,000 ahead of Perez’ $238,145 in available funds.

SD 36 is currently held by term-limited Republican Sen. Rene Garcia, who has endorsed Diaz as his successor. The district covers an inland portion of northern Miami-Dade County including Miami Lakes, Hialeah, and Miami Springs.

SD 36 is one of only two Republican-held seats being targeted by Florida Democrats this cycle that voted for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton two years ago, and it did so by a much wider margin than in Tampa-based SD 18, where House Minority Leader Janet Cruz is challenging Republican Sen. Dana Young.

Clinton won the majority Hispanic district by 14 points, though Garcia won re-election over underfunded Democratic challenger Anabella Grohoski Peralta 55-45 percent.

janet cruz

Bob Buckhorn endorses Janet Cruz for state Senate

House Minority Leader Janet Cruz added an endorsement from Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn for her campaign to oust incumbent Republican Sen. Dana Young in northwestern Hillsborough’s Senate District 18.

“Janet is a proven leader, a fighter for working families, and a tireless advocate for public education,” Buckhorn said. “As a member of the Florida House, Rep. Cruz brought back $14 million to Hillsborough Community College, spearheaded Equal Pay for Equal Work legislation, and sponsored legislation that raised police and fire survivor benefits within the City of Tampa to 100 percent.

“As your next Senator, she will continue to fight for what’s right while being laser focused on what’s best for our district,” he said.

Buckhorn joins some of the state’s biggest unions in backing Cruz, who currently represents House District 62. Past endorsements have come in from the Florida Education Association, the state’s largest teacher union, and the Florida AFL-CIO, which represents more than 1 million Florida workers.

“Mayor Buckhorn is a true visionary and I am honored to have his support,” Cruz said. “Under his leadership, Tampa is thriving. Corporations are choosing to relocate here, and the Riverwalk is flourishing with new businesses, while connecting Channelside to the Heights.

“From the Super Bowl to the NHL All Star Game to the Women’s Final Four, Tampa is now a national destination that we all get to enjoy. I look forward to continue working with him to make Tampa the best place in Florida to live, work, and play for everyone,” she concluded.

SD 18 sits atop the Florida Democratic Party’s wish list this fall. Other than South Florida’s SD 36, where David Perez won the Democratic primary to challenge Republican Rep. Manny Diaz, SD 18 is the only district Democrats are after that voted for Hillary Clinton two years ago.

As of Aug. 23, Young held a large lead in fundraising with more than $455,000 in hard money on hand and another $1.27 million at the ready in her affiliated political committee, Friends of Dana Young. By comparison, Cruz had $189,000 in hard money and another $330,000 in her political committee, Building the Bay PC.

Cruz and Young both went unopposed in last week’s primary elections. Unlike two years ago, when Young won a plurality of the vote against three challengers, Cruz and Young are the only candidates to make the ballot in 2018.

Election Day is Nov. 6.

Phil Hornback

Phil Hornback raising campaign cash for HD 58 run Thursday

Ruskin Democrat Phil Hornback is holding a fundraising reception Thursday evening to kickstart his campaign for Hillsborough County’s House District 58.

The event will run from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Keel & Curley Winery, 5210 Thonotosassa Rd., in Plant City. The suggested contribution $25, and attendees can expect some entertainment from The Hummingbirds.

Though Hornback filed for HD 58 back in May, he hasn’t made much headway on the fundraising trail. It seems that could change in the near future, however, given some of the names on his fundraiser’s host committee — former CFO Alex Sink, Democratic Attorney General nominee Sean Shaw, state Sen. Daryl Rouson and Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp are among the many names on the invite.

Supporters looking more information on the event or to RSVP can send a message to campaign manager Jason Marlow via jasonsmarlow21@gmail.com or call 561-459-9368.

Hornback is a former middle school science teacher, football coach and real estate broker. Prior to entering the race for the northeastern Hillsborough County district, he was a candidate for Florida’s 15th Congressional District.

HD 58 is currently held by Republican Rep. Lawrence McClure, who won the seat in a special election late last year. Prior to McClure, the seat was held by former Republican Rep. Dan Raulerson who resigned the office due to health issues.

As of Aug. 23, Hornback had raised about $7,000 for his campaign and kicked in another $6,000 in candidate loans though he had little cash on hand. McClure, meanwhile, has raised close to $52,000 with $36,600 in the bank.

HD 58 includes Plant City, Temple Terrace, Dover, Mango, Seffner, Thonotosassa, and parts of Tampa and East Lake-Orient Park. The seat has a Republican advantage — it voted plus-10 for Donald Trump two years ago.

The fundraiser invitation is below.

Hornback fundraiser 8.30.2018

Top House Republicans raising cash for party nominees next week

Incoming House Speaker Jose Oliva is holding a fundraiser in Tallahassee next week benefitting the new crop of Republican nominees running for the Florida House in the fall.

The fundraising reception well be held at the DoubleTree Hilton, 101 South Adams Street, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. In addition to Oliva, Palm Harbor Rep. Chris Sprowls and Palm Coast Rep. Paul Renner are listed on the host committee.

Sprowls is in line to become House Speaker following the 2020 elections, with Renner set to follow in 2022.

Republicans currently hold a 75-41 majority in the House, with 4 vacant seats.

There are 17 currently Republican lawmakers who cannot run for re-election in 2018 due to term limits, with another handful leaving the chamber early to pursue runs for other offices.

Among those leaving early: Sarasota Rep. Joe Gruters, who is running for SD 23; Venice Rep. Julio Gonzalez, who lost in the primary for CD 17 Tuesday; Winter Park Rep. Mike Miller, who cruised in the CD 7 primary; Dover Rep. Ross Spano, who won the crowded primary contest for CD 15; and Pensacola Rep. Frank White, who lost the Attorney General primary by double digits.

There’s a long list of races that are considered at least somewhat competitive in the fall, where the GOP nominees will need party support for Republicans to avoid ceding ground in the chamber.

The Republican Party of Florida is well equipped to play defense after announcing it raised more than $7.4 million for the reporting period covering April 1 through Aug. 23. In the state Senate, where there are also a number of competitive races slated for November, Republicans are also in decent shape — the party’s Senate campaign arm recently announced more than $7.2 million over the same four month stretch.

The fundraiser invitation is below.

House Majority fundraiser 9.5.2018

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