2018 legislative races Archives - Page 4 of 47 - Florida Politics

Dana Young hosting Tally fundraiser tonight for SD 18 re-election

Tampa Republican Sen. Dana Young is holding a fundraiser for her Senate District 18 re-election campaign Tuesday, Oct. 2 in Tallahassee.

The event will run from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the BC Room of the Governors Club, 202 South Adams St. Those looking for more information or to RSVP can contact Kristin Lamb via Kristin@FLFStrategies.com or 850-339-5354.

Young was elected to Senate District 18 in 2016, but due to the shakeup caused by redistricting she and other state Senators in even-numbered districts must run for re-election after only two years.

She is facing a tough challenge from House Minority Leader Janet Cruz, who entered the race in mid-April. The most recent poll of the race shows Cruz with a slim advantage in the northwestern Hillsborough district, which covers much of Tampa.

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 on Tuesday night, SD 18 is the only district Democrats are after that voted for Hillary Clinton two years ago.

Young has landed several endorsements, most recently from the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and she’s already started revving up her ground game with canvassing drives. But her biggest advantage this cycle is in the money race.

As of Aug. 23, Young had more than $455,000 banked in her campaign account at the last reporting checkpoint. Her political committee, Friends of Dana Young, has about $1.27 million at the ready.

By comparison, Cruz had $189,000 in hard money and another $330,000 in her political committee, Building the Bay PC, through the same date.

Late last month, Young challenged Cruz to two debates ahead of their general election showdown. After poking Young for being down in the polls, spokesperson Kevin Cate said the Cruz campaign would reach out to the debate organizers and that the campaign was “eager to debate expanding access to affordable care, more funding for schools, and common-sense gun reform.”

Election Day is Nov. 6. Young’s fundraiser invitation is below.

Young Fundraiser 10.2.2018

Direct mail roundup: Ray Pilon targets Margaret Good as ‘hyperpartisan’ in new ads

Former Republican Rep. Ray Pilon is taking aim at Democratic Rep. Margaret Good with a new round of direct mail ads hitting House District 72 mailboxes.

“Margaret Good: Putting her political party above our safety,” the front side of one of the mailers reads. “Proving she’s hyperpartisan, Margaret Good towed [sic] the party line instead of keeping our kids safe.”

On the reverse, the ad railed against Good’s no vote on the school safety package passed by lawmakers in the 2018 Legislative Session after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas massacre. The law raised the minimum age to buy long guns from 18 to 21 alongside several mental health and school safety provisions.

Good was one of 50 House lawmakers to vote no on the bill. Some of the nays came from Republican lawmakers who thought the bill went too far, while Democratic lawmakers asserted that the law did not go far enough.

Members of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus also expressed concerns about black and brown children being targeted if school staff are allowed to carry guns in schools. The final bill language allows school personnel to carry guns, but excludes those “who are individuals who exclusively perform classroom duties as classroom teachers.”

Pilon’s hyperpartisan accusations come after Good teamed up with fellow Sarasota-area lawmaker, Republican Rep. Joe Gruters, to hold a bipartisan town hall on red tide.

A second mailer sent out by the Pilon campaign asserted the former lawmaker, who exited the Legislature two years ago after losing a Republican primary for the state Senate, “will put a stop to career politicians” and “introduce new leaders and fresh ideas to meet the ever-changing problems facing our community.”

Pilon has held elected office for a decade, first as a Sarasota County Commissioner from 1996 through 2000, then as a state representative from 2010 through 2016.

In a Monday news release, the Florida Democrat’s House Victory effort said characterized the mailers as misleading.

“Pilon has sent out a slew of mailers promising to fight career politicians, to fund public schools, to fight sexual misconduct, to increase transparency, and to fight corruption. But his record tells another story,” the news release said.

Good won a special election for HD 72 earlier this year, defeating Republican nominee James Buchanan by 7 points in what had been a Republican-leaning district in prior years.

In November, Pilon and Good will be the only two names on the ballot. Good currently holds a major cash advantage with $327,000 in hard money fundraising and $124,000 banked. She has another $100,000-plus in her affiliated political committee, New Day Florida.

Pilon, meanwhile has raised $93,000 in hard money and had a little over $66,000 in the bank on Sept. 14.

The mailers are below.

Nick DiCeglie hosting Clearwater fundraiser tonight

Republican businessman and Pinellas GOP chair Nick DiCeglie is holding a fundraiser for his House District 66 campaign this evening in Clearwater.

The event is from 5:30 p.m.at Alfano’s Restaurant, 1702 Clearwater Largo Road N. Those interested in attending can give a last-minute RSVP with Rick Porter or Ivey Rooney at 407-849-1112 or Ivey@PoliticalCapitalFlorida.com.

DiCeglie is running for the seat currently held by termed-out Rep. Larry Ahern, who is also on the event’s nearly 80-person host committee, joined by former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, state Sen. Jeff Brandes and state Reps. Chris Latvala, Chris Sprowls and Kathleen Peters, as well as other leading Republicans.

In the Aug. 28 Republican primary, DiCeglie defeated St. Petersburg attorney Berny Jacques and will face Democrat Alex Hereen Nov. 6.

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

The invitation is below.

Is faulty polling fueling Florida Democrats’ optimism in Dorothy Hukill-Mel Martin race?

Florida Democrats touted some impressive poll numbers in Republican-leaning state Senate races last week, but now that the sunshine pumping has worn off it looks like there’s some serious flaws in those numbers.

To recap, the Florida Democratic Party pointed to a handful of Change Research polls that showed showing Melissa “Mel” Martin leading incumbent Sen. Dorothy Hukill by a couple points in SD 14; Faith Olivia Babis leading Republican state Rep. Joe Gruters in the race for SD 23 by 3 percentage points; and Robert Levy only trailing state Rep. Gayle Harrell by a few points in SD 25.

Change Research has been given some credibility as of late for being the only pollster to correctly predict Andrew Gillum’s win in the Democratic primary for Governor. Of course, that feat is seldom mentioned alongside the disclaimer that Gillum’s campaign cut a check for $4,600 to commission that poll.

That doesn’t necessarily mean there’s something nefarious going on with the DC-based polling outfit, but for a company that pitches itself as providing precise measures on the cheap thanks to online polling, those state Senate results deserve some extra scrutiny.

Take SD 14, for example. Republican Sen. Dorothy Hukill absolutely destroyed her Democratic challenger two years ago, earning more than two-thirds of the vote in the Brevard- and Volusia-based seat on Election Day. But in 2018, Martin is supposedly leading Hukill by a basket in a seat that also voted for Donald Trump carried the by 17 points.

No offense to Hukill, whose 14-year career in the Legislature shows she’s tuned in to her constituency, but a tomato can with an “R” next its name on the ballot could probably hang on to SD 14.

According to the Survey Monkey poll that produced Martin’s lead, it seems that’s pretty close to what happened: The one question that truly mattered in the poll — whether voters prefer Hukill or her opponent — mislabeled their party affiliations.

incorrect party poll

Then there’s the Change Research poll that showed David Holden within striking distance” in his bid to oust U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney in Florida’s 19th Congressional District.

Holden’s campaign issued a necessary disclaimer — one week after touting the results — that the race was only close “after people were informed of Frances Rooney’s record and David Holden’s plans and positions. Before receiving that information the poll showed people favoring Holden by 42 percent to Rooney’s 51 percent.”

Whether Florida Democrats knew about the screwup in the SD 14 poll or were oblivious, it’s kind of hard to understand their optimism for a clean sweep of the Senate when public polls of their absolute top targets show their recruits are, at best, trading blows with the Republicans they’re looking to unseat.

Even Ft. Lauderdale Sen. Gary Farmer is drinking the Kool Aid — and spending beaucoup bucks chasing rainbows.

That’s not an outlandish statement when it comes to Amanda Murphy, who barely trails Ed Hooper in SD 16, nor Janet Cruz, who was three points back from Tampa Sen. Dana Young in the last measure of SD 18.

But Lindsay Cross? She is in no way, shape or form leading or within the margin of error in SD 24. The most recent public poll of that contest found St. Pete Sen. Jeff Brandes up 2-to-1 over Cross, who, to her credit, wasn’t planning on running for public office a few months ago.

There were glimmers of hope for Carrie Pilon, who polled well enough when Election Day was six months out, but she never broke through the margin of error in SD 24.

With Election Day only six weeks away, it might be time to stop talking about expanding the map and start helping out the candidates who stand a chance.

Kayser Enneking

Kayser Enneking bounces back in SD 8 money race

Gainesville Democrat Kayser Enneking bested Republican Sen. Keith Perry for the second reporting cycle in a row in the race for Alachua County-based Senate District 8.

Enneking, a physician, raked in nearly $51,000 in hard money during the first two weeks of September, replenishing her campaign account after a primary battle that became costly in the final weeks of August.

The weekly reports covering the same stretch for her affiliated political committee, Florida Knows Excellence, saw it tack on another $33,500. Adding in the $84,000 in receipts between Sept. 1 and Sept. 14 brings Enneking’s overall fundraising total to $644,000.

Donors of note include Fort Lauderdale Sen. Gary Farmer, who provided another $25,000 in support via his Floridians for Ethics, Accountability and Responsibility committee and $2,500 from Avera & Smith, the law firm of 2016 SD 8 Democratic nominee Rod Smith, a former state Senator and FDP chair.

Spending far outstripped fundraising, however, with a slate of broadcast, cable and digital media buys eating away $160,000 in campaign funds. Enneking also funneled another $50,000 in committee cash to the Sen. Audrey Gibson-chaired Florida Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee.

The two accounts had a combined $130,000 banked on Sept. 14.

Perry’s early September haul measured in at $53,350, with $29,350 in receipts heading to his campaign account and the remaining $24,000 collected through his political committee, Building a Prosperous Florida.

His donor sheet included a pair of $10,000 checks from a political committee tied to state Rep. Ben Albritton, who is set to cruise in his bid to succeed Sebring Sen. Denise Grimsley in SD 26. Also checking in was Working Together For Florida PAC, the fundraising arm of Naples Sen. Kathleen Passidomo.

Perry spent about $30,000 during the two-week reporting period, with the bulk of those funds paying for campaign staffers and a handful of event sponsorships.

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

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

A recent poll of the race found Perry up 49-38 percent over Enneking, though much of that gap was attributable to her comparatively weak showing among the Democratic base, which is expected to improve before the Nov. 6 general election.

That poll also found former Gainesville City Commissioner Charles Goston pulling 5 percent support for his unaffiliated run despite his lack of on-the-ground campaigning for the job.

David Perez SD 36

David Perez puts a dent in Manny Diaz’s fundraising advantage

Hialeah Republican Rep. Manny Diaz has been piling on the cash for his Senate District 36 campaign for the better part of two years, but Democratic nominee David Perez has chipped away at that lead in the sprint toward Election Day.

Campaign finance reports for the first half of September show Perez brought in $19,185 in hard money with an additional $50,000 heading to his affiliated political committee, Floridians for Change. That performance laps Diaz’s efforts and then some.

The third-term lawmaker added $12,600 in campaign funds between Sept. 1 and Sept. 14, with his Better Florida Education committee receiving $17,000 during the same stretch.

Perez’s early September spending clocked in at more than $100,000, including about $47,000 in ad buys and another $45,000 in committee cash funneled to the Florida Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, a Florida Democratic Party affiliated committee that supports state Senate campaigns.

Diaz showed half as much spending in his reports, with a $20,000 social media ad buy via Campaign Precision topping the list of outgoing funds.

To date, Diaz has a massive advantage in both overall fundraising and cash on hand. He has raised $500,000 in campaign funds and has $192,000 banked while his committee, which predates his Senate bid, had $84,000 at the ready on Sept. 14.

Perez, meanwhile, has raised a combined $356,000 and had about $105,000 left to spend through the same date.

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.

Shawn Harrison

Shawn Harrison leads in HD 63 battleground, but tuned-in voters favor Fentrice Driskell

Tampa Republican Rep. Shawn Harrison leads in a fresh poll of the race for Hillsborough County’s House District 63, but Democratic challenger Fentrice Driskell holds the edge among voters who say they have a “high interest” in the 2018 election.

The SEA Polling & Strategic Design survey, commissioned by the Florida Democratic Party, found Harrison with a 45-39 percent edge, but among voters who rated their attention and interest in the Nov. 6 general election as high his standing slips.

“Smart poll readers know to ask if a poll is of registered voters or likely voters, but there’s more than just that. That’s just who gets polled. That’s a question of habit that’s largely already been answered by their presence in the polling universe,” the SEA memo reads.

“Good pollsters will ask how closely you are paying attention to politics or how interested you are in the upcoming elections. Especially in lower turnout, midterm elections, this is critical to knowing who is going to show up and vote.”

To that end, voters with the highest level of interest — measured from one to five — favored Driskell by a 58-31 percent margin. Lumping in the four-out-of-five crowd sees Harrison’s share slip to 29 percent while Driskell’s position holds firm.

Florida Democrats have seen HD 63 as a swing district since its inception and have had some success there in the past. In 2012, former Democratic Rep. Mark Danish pulled off an upset by defeating Harrison by 728 votes on Election Day. He fell five points short two years later.

In 2016 Harrison held on with a 2-point win against Lisa Montelione despite Hillary Clinton carrying the seat by double digits at the top of the ticket.

This year, Driskell is looking to ride the so-called “blue wave” into office and has thus far remained semi-competitive on the fundraising front. When it comes to hard money, she and Harrison are close with $185,000 raised and $109,000 banked for the incumbent compared to $158,000 raised and $110,000 banked for the challenger.

But Harrison also has another $133,000 ready to deploy in his PAC, Committee for an Innovative Florida, giving him a six-figure advantage

Though negative on its face, the new poll isn’t all doom and gloom for Harrison. It was conducted via live interviews and featured a substantial cell phone component, but the sample size is just 300 voters and its margin of error is listed as plus or minus 5.61 percentage points.

HD 61 covers part of Hillsborough County, including portions of northern Tampa and the communities of Lutz, Pebble Creek, Lake Magdalene, and Carrollwood. Democrats make up about 39 percent of the swing seat’s electorate, while Republicans hold a 32 percent share.

Cord Byrd, Clay Yarborough maintain fundraising leads in re-election bids

Freshmen Jacksonville-area Republican state Reps. Cord Byrd and Clay Yarborough continued to maintain strong cash leads over their Democratic challengers through the first half of September.

Byrd, whose majority-Republican House District 11 includes coastal Duval and all of Nassau County, brought in $3,500 of new money between Sept. 1 and 14, pushing his campaign account near $42,000 on hand. TECO and the Jacksonville Association of Fire Fighters were among the donors.

Byrd also has nearly $10,000 in his 1845 political committee.

His general election opponent, Nathcelly Rohrbaugh, mostly kept pace with Byrd when it came to early September receipts, bringing in $3,000 of new money, pushing his campaign account near $14,000 on hand.

Among Rohrbaugh’s donors: Rena Coughlin, CEO of the Non-Profit Center of Northeast Florida. Coughlin also had a role in the transition team for Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry.

Yarborough, running in Southside Jacksonville’s Republican-plurality House District 12, has started to deploy some of the $165,000-plus in hard money he’s raised over the last 20 months of his re-election bid.

The Arlington Republican raised just $2,500 and spent $17,645 between Sept. 1 and Sept. 14, leaving him with just over $101,000 on hand.

Yarborough’s Democratic opponent Tim Yost raised $1,890, with $1,100 from people with the Yost surname. Yost has just over $11,000 on hand.

Both Northeast Florida seats are considered safely Republican. Neither Byrd nor Yarborough faced a Democratic opponent in their 2016 campaigns, though the lawmakers they replaced, Janet Adkins and Lake Ray, each breached 70 percent of the vote in 2014.

Latest poll shows Tracye Polson and Wyman Duggan running neck-and-neck in HD 15.

In the competitive race to replace Jay Fant in Westside Jacksonville’s House District 15, the battle between Democrat Tracye Polson and Republican Wyman Duggan is headed down to the wire, per one recent survey commissioned by the Polson campaign.

An internal poll from SEA Polling and Strategic Design showed Duggan up two points (41-39) in what Democrats see as a swing district.

A good illustration that the district is in play: The same voters polled chose Gov. Rick Scott over incumbent Bill Nelson for Senate 49-42 percent, though they prefer Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum over Republican nominee Ron DeSantis in the Governor’s race 48-46 percent.

The survey also indicated that voters can be moved from Duggan to Polson when issues are presented to contrast the candidates.

The best performers for Polson: Increasing school resource officers; protecting drinking water; and Polson’s own history as a cancer survivor and social worker with military families, which positions her well to understand issues ranging from health care disparities to the unique pressures faced by service members and their families.

When issues such as those were presented to voters, Polson had a nine-point lead with those surveyed. When issues including Duggan’s advocacy for selling JEA and an appointed school board factored in, Polson’s lead grew to 10 points.

A taste of that contrast presentation is already on Jacksonville airwaves, as Polson spotlights those issues and asks viewers: “What side is lobbyist Wyman Duggan on?”

The resource battle is worth watching down the stretch, and right now it’s favorable to the Democrat: Duggan has under $23,000 on hand after a bitter primary battle, putting him well behind Polson’s $116,000-plus, in a district that has a slight Democratic plurality.

The seat did go for Donald Trump two years ago, through Democrats haven’t fielded a candidate in HD 15 since it was redrawn ahead of the 2012 elections, so its lean in down-ballot races hasn’t been tested.

The Polson campaign is optimistic: As one senior staffer wrote in a polling memo, “we need money to get our message out and we win.”

Jennifer Sullivan nears $100K raised in HD 31 re-election bout

State Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, a Mount Dora Republican, added $13,550 in new contributions during the first half of September, putting her near the $100,000 mark in total fundraising.

Sullivan, first elected in 2014, faces Democratic challenger Debra Kaplan in her bid for a third term in Lake and Orange county-based House District 31.

Her Sept. 1 through Sept. 14 finance report showed 16 contributions, with a dozen measuring in at the campaign maximum of $1,000. Among the top donors were a political committee tied to the Associated Industries of Florida, the Florida Retail Federation, two branches of hospital company HCA, Duke Energy, U.S. Sugar and telecom giant Comcast Corporation.

Spending measured in at a light $500, with that cash heading out in a single transaction for accounting fees through Venice-based Robinson, Hanks, Young and Roberts.

All told, Sullivan has raised $98,595 for her re-election bid and had $66,853 on hand on Sept. 14.

Kaplan, meanwhile, posted $4,058 in receipts for the two-week reporting period and collected a pair of max checks, including one from the Lake County Democrats. Her spending outstripped her contributions, however, with more than $5,000 heading.

The major items on the ledger this reporting cycle were a $3,800 payment to Clearchannel for billboards, with an additional $750 paid out to TFC Marketing for video production work.

Since entering the race in March 2017, Kaplan has raised a total of $18,761. She had about $5,500 left to spend on Sept. 14.

HD 31 covers northeast Lake County and northwest Orange County and has a strong Republican base. GOP voters make up 44 percent of the electorate compared to a 31 percent share for Democrats, who haven’t fielded a candidate since the seat was redrawn ahead of the 2012 elections.

Sullivan was elected to the seat without an Election Day challenger in 2014 after taking nearly 35 percent of the vote in a five-way Republican primary. Her only opposition in 2016 came from unaffiliated candidate Robert Rightmyer, whom she beat 73-27. The seat voted 59-36 for Donald Trump.

2018 elections, 2018 legislative races, fundraising, campaign fundraising, 2018 state House races, Jennifer Sullivan, Debra Kaplan, HD 31, House District 31

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