2018 legislative races Archives - Page 7 of 47 - Florida Politics
Keith Perry

Bill Galvano helping Keith Perry raise re-election cash in Tallahassee

Incoming Senate President Bill Galvano will host a fundraiser for Gainesville Republican Sen. Keith Perry in Tallahassee next week.

The Sept. 20 reception will be held at the Florida Retail Federation office, 226 S. Adams St., from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Making the host committee alongside Senate Appropriations Chair Rob Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican, Elkton Republican Sen. Travis Hutson and Melissa Ramba, FRF’s VP of Government Affairs.

Those looking to attend the fundraiser can direct their RSVPs to Skylar Swanson via Skylar@VoteKeithPerry.com or (352) 888-5770.

Perry was elected to Senate District 8 in 2016 with a 5-point victory over former Florida Democratic Party chair and former Sen. Rod Smith. Due to new Senate maps, Perry has to run for re-election after serving just two years.

In 2018 he will face Democratic nominee Kayser Enneking, a Gainesville physician, and former Gainesville City Commissioner Charles Goston, a Democrat who filed for the seat as an unaffiliated candidate.

Through the end of August, Perry had raised more than $500,000 in hard money and another $231,500 through his political committee, Building a Prosperous Florida, and had about $525,000 in the bank between the two accounts. His campaign has also received more than $425,000 worth of “in kind” support from the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, a party affiliated committee chaired by Galvano that aims to maintain the Republican majority in the state Senate.

By comparison, Enneking has raised $412,500 in hard money and another $175,000 through her political committee, Florida Knows Excellence, and had about $235,000 in the bank at the end of the month — her campaign had to shell out about $132,500 during the closing weeks of her primary race against Gainesville Democrat Olysha Magruder in order to combat a massive “dark money” campaign funded by Republican operatives.

Enneking has also received about $129,000 worth of “in kind” support from the Florida Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, the fundraising arm for Democratic senate candidates chaired by incoming Minority Leader Audrey Gibson.

Goston, who lost re-election to the City Commission in a landslide, has about $1,800 in his account and is only relevant as a possible spoiler.

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 over two years ago as the seat was narrowly carried by President Donald Trump.

The fundraiser invitation is below.

Keith Perry Fundraiser 9.20.2018

Top House Republicans holding fundraiser for Central Florida incumbents

Incoming House Speaker Jose Oliva and the two Republican lawmakers set to succeed him in that post will be in Orlando next week for a fundraiser benefitting the re-election campaigns of their Central Florida colleagues.

Oliva, Palm Harbor Rep. Chris Sprowls and Palm Coast Rep. Paul Renner will headline the Sept. 12 fundraising reception at The Groove, 6000 Universal Blvd. The event starts at 7 p.m.

The fundraiser will benefit 10 incumbent Republicans representing Brevard, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Polk, Seminole and Volusia counties in the state House: Mike La Rosa, Colleen Burton, Bob Cortes, Randy Fine, Bobby Olszewski, Scott Plakon, Rene Plasencia, David Santiago, Jennifer Sullivan and Josie Tomkow.

Also on the invitation is Stockton Reeves, the Republican nominee in House District 47, which is open this year due to current Republican Rep. Mike Miller opting to challenge U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy in Florida’s 7th Congressional District.

Reeves defeated Mikaela Nix by 10 points in the Republican primary for the seat last week. He now moves on to a general election showdown against well-funded Democratic nominee Anna Eskamani.

Most of the incumbents on the invite are running for re-election in safely Republican districts.

Cortes, who represents HD 30, and Olszewski, who holds HD 44, are both running for re-election in seats carried by Hillary Clinton two years ago, however, they both went uncontested in August and have substantial fundraising leads over their Democratic challengers.

Those looking to attend the fundraiser can direct their RSVPs to Rick Porter via 407-849-1112 or Ivey Rooney via Ivey@PoliticalCapitalFlorida.com.

The invitation is below.

House Republican Majority Fundraiser 9.12.2018

Mike Hill

Mike Hill’s comeback bid needed every trick in the book

Florida’s primary elections had some shockers, none more so than the surprise win of Andrew Gillum in the Democratic primary for Governor.

Further down the ticket, in the Republican primary for Escambia County’s state House District 1, there was another big upset: Former state Rep. Mike Hill’s 3-point victory over rising GOP star Rebekah Bydlak.

Bydlak had outraised him, outspent him and had picked up the kind of endorsements that usually carry candidates through a GOP primary — the National Rifle Association and term-limited HD 1 Rep. Clay Ingram both endorsed her, and she had an “A” rating from the staunchly anti-abortion group Florida Right to Life.

Polling also indicated Bydlak was ahead of Hill and a look at the vote totals on the Escambia County Supervisor of Elections website shows Bylak held a 52-44 percent lead among early voters, and she and Hill were tied 48-48 percent with mail ballots included.

Hill won Election Day, however, by 5 percentage points. Milton Republican Lisa Doss nearly quadrupled her vote tally to take 9 percent of the ballots cast last Tuesday.

What happened?

Hill’s performance could all be due to his higher name recognition. HD 1 shares a border and media market with his old seat, HD 2, where he won a couple of elections. Two years ago, he also spent nearly $200,000 in campaign dollars running in the SD 1 Republican primary, where he lost by 14 points to now-Sen. Doug Broxson.

But the late break this year toward Hill could also be due to a string of deceitful mailers, disinformation, racially charged and sexist comments, shady campaign stunts and a fake endorsement from President Donald Trump in the closing days of the race.

Hill spent more than $25,000 in hard money on direct mail ads in the final weeks of the race, and nearly all of them smeared Bydlak.

One of Hill’s mailers featured a phony picture of Bydlak smiling alongside 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and claimed Bydlak had been “kicked out of the Republican Party,” didn’t own a house in HD 1, received $100,000 from a member of the anti-Trump establishment tied to billionaire liberal booster George Soros and that she was pro-choice and anti-gun despite her receiving recommendations from groups that would certainly take umbrage if she held those positions.

Another mailer claimed Bydlak and Republican U.S. Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan were attacking “conservatives like Mike Hill and President Trump,” and that Bydlak was trying to take down Confederate monuments in Pensacola — no small accusation in the deep-red Panhandle district.

In now-deleted social media posts, Hill also called attention to Amash’s Palestinian heritage, noteworthy because of Hill’s other statements about Islamic people. In early August, Hill tweeted about the “demonic Muslim horde” and retweeted a statement that “Islam is a cancer.”

Also on the list of social media tactics was the use of paid campaign staffers to blast Bydlak for her not having children.

“How can a girl make good solid choices on my children and grandchildren, when she has never raised a family?” Kelly White Seward asked in a Facebook post liked and shared by Hill. Florida Division of Elections records show Seward received $2,000 in payments from Hill’s campaign account during the 2018 cycle.

All the while, Hill has allowed racism to fester on his campaign’s official Facebook page, where his supporters have repeated Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis’ possibly misinterpreted “monkey” comment. More overt: Another supporter responded to a Facebook post Hill made criticizing Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum by saying the Tallahassee Mayor should be “picking cotton.”

While Hill was pouring money into the negative ads and stoking racial tensions, a committee tied to Clearwater Republican Rep. Chris Latvala paid thousands of dollars more for a slate of positive mailers pitching Hill as the “pro-life, pro-guns, pro-Jesus” candidate in the race.

One of the mailers paid for by Latvala’s Suncoast Better Government Committee features a faked picture of Hill next to Trump and strongly insinuates the President had endorsed him — laid over the top of the Hill-Trump photo is a label that says “I like Mike.”

Hill Trump - I Like Mike

Trump did say that phrase in an early August tweet during his spat with NBA superstar LeBron James. But it was an obvious reference to Michael Jordan, whom James is most often compared to in “best ever” arguments.

Hill quoted that tweet, calling it his Trump endorsement.

In a vacuum, that tweet could be viewed as a lighthearted joke, however, the mailers cast doubt on that and toe the line of what is considered legal campaign communications.

Under Florida law, it is illegal “for any candidate or person on behalf of a candidate to represent that any person or organization supports such candidate, unless the person or organization so represented has given specific approval in writing to the candidate to make such representation.” In English: Faking an endorsement is a crime.

If the mailers don’t cross a line, his odd last-minute livestream just might. The Facebook Live video features Hill standing in front of a Confederate monument holding a replica of Trump’s Hollywood Walk of Fame star and teetering between representing it as real and acknowledging it was fake.

“As you can see, Pensacola, I have the Trump star. We’re bringing it here to Pensacola. We’re going to lay it here. Trump is an awesome president and we’re going to show our support and respect for our President. Hollywood doesn’t want his star, we want it here,” Hill says, star in hand.

He then hedges his claim that the star is real by saying, if elected, he’ll “be able to do more to make sure that this star gets here and that it stays here.”

But he again purported to have the real-deal star in a Facebook post made after the livestream.

“We have President Trump’s Hollywood Star! Pensacola is America’s first settlement — where it all began. Fitting that we have our President’s star rejected by leftists. We will honor and protect it!” he wrote.

He used similar wording in an official campaign email sent via MailChimp that went out to the entire Escambia County absentee voter list.

“We have President Trump’s Hollywood Star! Pensacola is America’s first settlement  —where it all began. Fitting that we have our President’s star rejected by Hollywood. We will honor and protect it,” Hill said in the email.

Trump’s Hollywood star was destroyed. Twice. According to Ana Martinez, the Hollywood Walk of Fame’s producer and the vice president of media relations at the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, Hill’s star isn’t the real thing.

“Oh, that’s a fake,” Martinez said after viewing a photo of the star. “They were destroyed with a pickaxe.”

Martinez added that the Hollywood Chamber is in possession of the emblem from the original star and that the second star was essentially reduced to dust — an individual attempted to sell one shard of that star on eBay for $500 but the auction was pulled for violating the site’s rules. A real Walk of Fame star weighs more than 300 pounds, Martinez added. Hill easily lifts his star in the video.

Martinez described Hill’s counterfeit star as an “infringement” and said that the matter would be referred for further investigation.

Just as bizarre as those Walk of Fame claims are statements made by Doss, who entered the primary race just days ahead of the qualifying deadline and raised no money outside of the self-contribution she used to pay the ballot fee. Though it is unconfirmed, there are rumors that Doss was recruited by Hill, who has never won a one-on-one race, to help split the vote in his favor.

Florida Politics attempted to contact Doss but received no response.

According to the financial disclosure she turned in to the Florida Division of Elections, her only income was a $1,248 Social Security disability check while her two bank accounts had a combined balance of $350 on June 18. However, her listed assets also included $3,100 in cash. She used that cash to open her campaign account, leading to an audit by the Division of Election for exceeding the limit on cash contributions. She was also dinged for not listing her occupation, which she later amended to be “disabled.”

Like Hill, Doss used MailChimp to send out her campaign emails while her campaign website, VoteDoss.com, was registered via the same Bulgarian-based web hosting company as Hill’s campaign site: SiteGround.us. Both Hill and Doss paid the $12 fee charged by the company to hide the information of who registered their respective websites, but the servers they are hosted on are in the same Chicago data center.

Hill’s domain was registered on Sept. 16, 2017, though he never reported any expenditures directly related to the website’s registration, creation or upkeep. Doss’ domain was registered on June 30, and the only expenditures she ever reported other than the ballot fee were $75.35 in payments to SiteGround for a “website” and “extra security for website.”

Suspicions were further raised given that Doss’ campaign emails and social media posts used oddly similar language and peddled the same conspiracies as Hill’s — namely that Bydlak was tied to Soros and that she did not own a house in the district.

The latter attack is true, though misleading. Bydlak rents a home within the district and her parents and grandparents also live in the district, same as the past nine generations of her family. The attack that she doesn’t own a home also obscures some history behind her political heritage — the first-ever meeting of the Florida Legislature was actually held within what is now HD 1 in the home of her fifth-great-grandfather, Don Manuel Gonzalez.

Doss also often referred to herself as the middle ground between Bydlak, whom she said was “too liberal,” and Hill, whom she said was “too conservative.” In such a red district, that statement would be more likely to benefit Hill and kneecap Bydlak than to help Doss.

Doss email

Additionally, Doss was a frequent poster on Hill’s social media pages. In one Facebook post she said that even though she wanted to win the primary election, it was more important that Bydlak lose.

“Even though I’m running against Mike Hill, I do know he is a good man!! I hope 2 win but if I don’t I sure hope Mike Hill does!! As a candidate myself I have done a lot of research on my opponents & the bunch funding Rebekah Bydlak I found out the same information on,” she wrote, referencing Hill’s Soros claims.

And when Doss’ birthday rolled around, Hill made sure to wish her the best.

doss birthday

In the end, the Republican primary came down to 542 votes out of the nearly 19,000 cast, and Hill’s victory virtually assures he’ll cruise back into the state House after drubbing Democratic nominee Vikki Garrett in November.

Bydlak, meanwhile, steps back into private life.

“If you want to know why principled conservatives don’t get involved in politics, you need only look at this race. If you want to know why conservative women run for office less frequently then men, take a look at how Mike Hill shamelessly lied to voters that Rebekah was pro-choice and anti-gun. He’s disgraceful and frankly unfit for public office,” said her husband, Jonathan Bydlak.

Mailers sent out by Hill’s campaign and the Suncoast Better Government Committee are below.

Mike Hill direct mail ads by Andrew Wilson on Scribd

Cruz - FRSCC TV ad

New ad hits Janet Cruz over past property tax blunder

A new ad paid for by a committee charged with maintaining the Republican majority in the state Senate is hitting House Minority Leader and Senate District 18 candidate Janet Cruz for claiming homestead exemptions on multiple properties a decade ago.

The ad, titled “Lower Taxes,” notes that even though the Tampa Democrat, who is challenging incumbent Republican Sen. Dana Young, slipped up on paying all of her own property taxes, she voted against a 2017 bill to increase the homestead exemption for all Floridians.

“What do you call a career politician who wants you to pay higher taxes while she plays less? Janet Cruz,” the ad’s narrator says. “Janet Cruz voted against increasing your homestead exemption but was caught red-handed illegally claiming two exemptions for herself.

“Her second exemption? This multimillion dollar bayfront mansion,” the ad says while showing a picture of the property. “For five years, Cruz cheated on over $32,000 in taxes then voted to up yours. The Janet Cruz tax plan: You pay more. She pays less.”

The ad disclosure states it was paid for by the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, a political committee chaired by incoming Senate President Bill Galvano that supports Republican state Senate candidates.

Cruz indeed claimed multiple homestead exemptions from 2004 through 2008, leading the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser to place a $32,000 lien for back taxes on an Empedrado Street home she purchased in 1983. As noted in a 2010 Tampa Tribune article, Cruz had been living in a San Miguel Street home owned by her husband while her then 29-year-old son was living in the Empedrado home.

Florida law only allows property owners to claim homestead exemptions on their permanent residence or the permanent residence of a dependent. Currently, Floridians are exempt from paying taxes other than school district levies on up to $75,000 of the value of their home, depending on its assessed value.

That article also quotes an attorney for the property appraiser’s office as saying Cruz “brought it forward” rather than the appraiser’s office discovering the improper homestead exemption and added that the double exemption didn’t appear to be an intentional violation of state law. In another article, published in 2010, Cruz said she would pay the taxes rather than appeal the lien in court.

“I have always operated within what I thought was my obligation as a taxpayer. As soon as this was brought to my attention, I immediately contacted the Property Appraiser’s Office and went through the proper channels to remedy this situation,” she said in a 2010 statement. “I will certainly do what any responsible citizen would do and pay what I am obligated to pay.”

The ad comes as Cruz is set to release her first TV spot, which details her back story and her reasons for running for the northwestern Hillsborough Senate seat. Young released her first ad of the 2018 election cycle, which pitched her as a problem solver in a time of partisan fighting, in late July.

SD 18 is one of the Florida Democratic Party’s top targets for a flip in the fall and, as evidenced by FRSCC’s new ad, Florida Republicans are going to be aggressively defending the seat.

The district covers much of Tampa and has a close partisan split in voter registrations. SD 18 voted plus-6 for Hillary Clinton two years ago while at the same time electing Young with a plurality of the vote in a four-way race between her, Democratic nominee Bob Buesing and NPA candidates Joe Redner and Sheldon Upthegrove.

Only Cruz and Young will be on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.

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

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Jeff Brandes is a client of Extensive Enterprises Media, the holding company that owns FloridaPolitics.com.

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.

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