Bob Buckhorn Archives - Page 7 of 32 - Florida Politics

In the SD 18 race, Dana Young faces the challenge of her political career

After it was revealed last month that Mosaic had withheld information for weeks about the massive sinkhole at their New Wales facility in Polk County which spilled 215 million gallons of contaminated water into the Florida aquifer, the Conservation Florida Voters attacked Dana Young for receiving campaign contributions from the phosphate corporation — and the fact that it’s vice president of public affairs co-hosted a fundraiser for her last year.

“Rep. Dana Young’s environmental record is as dirty as her campaign contributions,” said Jonathan Webber, deputy director of Florida Conservation Voters. “Her cozy relationship with big polluters like Mosaic shows how out of touch she is with the everyday needs of Tampa’s working families.”

Young’s campaign team fired back immediately, and she’s now criticizing the phosphate company — and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection — for their tardiness in coming clean with the public about the spill.

“I think it’s disgraceful that you can have an environmental disaster like this that truly can harm people’s health, to pour pollutants into the aquifer that could affect people’s well water,” she told FloridaPolitics last week. “I just don’t think there’s ANY excuse for not having a requirement that surrounding neighbors be immediately notified.”

A Mosaic employee discovered the water loss caused by the sinkhole Aug. 27 and the state and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was notified the next day, as required by Florida law. However, homeowners near the facility weren’t notified by Mosaic or the DEP until Sept. 19, after news broke about the sinkhole. The DEP said Mosaic wasn’t legally obligated to because there was no evidence of threat to groundwater or off-site movement. But Gov. Rick Scott said the law was “outdated.”

Young says she’s extremely disappointed by the DEP’s response.

“They have an obligation to protect the public here in Florida. That is their role, and they knew for a long time what was going on there and they did not see fit to tell anybody, and I think that is absolutely unacceptable, and that we need to pass legislation in this session to clarify the duty to report by not only the permittees like Mosaic, but the state departments and local governments as well.”

Florida Conservation Voters also has criticized Young for voting for HB 191, the controversial fracking bill that passed in the House of Representatives last spring but died in the Senate. Critics seized on the provision that would strip local governments of the power to prevent the practice, in which large amounts of water, sand, and chemicals are pumped into the ground using high pressure to extract oil and gas deposits from rock formations. It also would require a comprehensive study to determine the effects of fracking in the state and establish a regulatory framework.

Environmental groups have depicted it as an “anti-fracking” bill and have accused those who voted for it of being pro-fracking, but some Republican House members running for re-election have stressed that they supported the vote because it put a moratorium on the practice, and say that they don’t actually support the procedure.

“I’m completely against it anywhere in Florida, ” Young says about fracking, and says it’s “hurtful” that people think otherwise. “I am an environmentalist, ” she vows. “I always have been and obviously fracking is not consistent with my philosophy, nor is it consistent with the geology and makeup with our state.”

The Nature Conservancy in Florida thinks so — the group announced Monday they were awarding Young with their 2016 Legislative Achievement Award.

The criticism from the environmental groups are an indication of the forces that would like to see her out of the Legislature next year, as Young faces the race of her political career.

After winning a contested battle against the late Stacy Frank for the House District 60 seat in 2010, the Democrats failed to nominate a candidate to oppose her in her re-election bids in 2012 and 2014, before recruiting attorney Bob Buesing to oppose her in the Senate District 18 race this year.

The race is expected to be close. A poll taken in early August showed Young and Buesing in a tie at 36 percent, though it didn’t include the two independents in the race, Joe Redner and Sheldon Upthegrove.

When she’s not working in the Legislature, Young says her full time gig is being a mom to her two daughters (one of whom is a freshman in college this year). An attorney, she says doesn’t practice much these days, but does use her legal expertise to help draft bills. Young turns 52 the day after the November election.

Although she has moved up to become House Majority Leader in the past two years in the Legislature, Buesing has said an internal poll his campaign conducted this summer shows Young’s name recognition isn’t much stronger than his own, perhaps because her previous re-election bids have been under the radar. However, one thing is certain — she will not be outspent in the race. Young has raised $727,443 in her main campaign account, and her political committee, “Friends of Dana Young,” has raised another million dollars. Buesing has raised $244,737.

When asked to recount the legislation she’s most proud of, Young chooses to talk about two issues that have widespread support – though neither have actually gone as far as she hopes they will.

One is her work to reduce the number of non-driving violations that prompt Floridians to have their drivers licenses suspended. A recent state study said the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles had suspended 1.3 million driver’s licenses in fiscal year 2012-13, and 167,000 were for non-driving reasons, mainly failure to pay fines or court fees or child support. A bill she co-sponsored with Democrat Darryl Rouson in the House last session would have reduced the number of offenses for which license suspension is prescribed and prohibit suspensions for those who show in an court an inability to pay fines and fees.

Another bill that has frustrated her over the years but which she is determined to get passed is enact a ban on greyhound racing in the state. And she’s recently cut an ad that did make her a favorite among the craft beer crowd for her support against “Big Beer” distributors in the whole 64-ounce growler battle.

Young has been a consistent “Nay” vote when Medicaid expansion has come up in the Legislature, and Buesing has been vocal in criticizing her about it. She responds with the generic Florida House GOP line on the subject — it’s a broken system that doesn’t work.

“I try to be for commonsense government — that’s my motto — and there is no common sense in expanding a program that isn’t working,” she says.

In 2015, the Florida Senate approved a proposal by Fernandina Beach Republican Aaron Bean that would have established a state-run private insurance exchange to state residents earning less than $16,000, or about $33,000 for a family of four. It included a work requirement and a monthly copay. Because it was questionable whether the federal government would approve the plan, Young says it was a no-go in the House. She says if the federal government is “bound and determined to give us money” she would like them to provide block grants to let the state decide how to aid some of the uninsured in Florida. “I think that would be a win-win for Florida,” she says.

Young supports the controversial Tampa Bay Express toll lanes project, though she emphasizes that she was not aware of the portion of the FDOT plan to toll an existing lane of the Howard Frankland Bridge, which she says is just not acceptable (On Monday, the FDOT said that they would no longer take away a free lane from the Bridge when it’s rebuilt in 2019).

Although Mayor Bob Buckhorn unsuccessfully lobbied Tampa Bay area lawmakers a few years ago to consider allowing large municipalities the power to hold their own referendums to pay for transportation projects, the idea has resurfaced this year among some local Democrats, frustrated that the Go Hillsborough plan died before ever coming before the voters.

Young is one of those local legislators who has no interest in giving Tampa that power.

“This is one of the sore subjects between me and my friend Bob Buckhorn,” she says. Recalling how the 2010 Moving Hillsborough Forward transit tax failed miserably in Hillsborough County but received a majority inside of Tampa, Young says that measure was half-baked, and if the city would have passed it “we would now be saddled with has been universally termed a terrible plan.”

“And so for me, I think that the county provides appropriate safeguards on taxpayer dollars to make sure that whatever plan is appropriate,” she says, adding it’s one of the few area that she disagrees with the mayor.

Young was a major supporter of Jeb Bush’s failed presidential run, but says now that it’s a “binary choice,” she’s with Donald Trump.

“It’s just a clear picture of how fed up people are with the way things are being done in Washington D.C.,” she says about the rise of the Manhattan real estate mogul in the presidential race. “People feel that they’ve been left behind, people feel forgotten, people feel lied to,” adding that “It’s a phenomenon of the voter that doesn’t feel that what they think matters.”

The Senate District race takes place on Nov. 8.

Anticipation is high for tonight’s David Jolly – Charlie Crist CD 13 debate

While the nation eagerly looks forward to next Monday night’s first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, the Tampa Bay area has its own Great Debate taking place Monday night at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg. That’s where David Jolly and Charlie Crist will hold their first debate in the Florida 13th Congressional District race.

The event is sold out, but will be broadcast live at 7 p.m. on WTSP-10 News, moderated by the Tampa Bay Times political editor Adam C. Smith, and WTSP news anchor/reporter Mark Rivera.

“We want people that are watching to really know what the difference is between these two candidates,” Rivera told SPB Monday morning. “We are looking forward to substantive answers from the candidates on the issues that matter to the district, Tampa Bay, the state, and the nation.”

The Times has produced many local political debates over the years, and tonight’s is the most anticipated since Smith and Bay News 9’s Al Reuschel hosted a Tampa Mayoral forum back in February 2011 at Blake High School. That’s the event where then-presumptive front-runner Dick Greco made his biggest gaffe of the campaign, calling a Tampa race riot in 1967 to a “panty raid-type thing.” It was a costly mistake that took 48 hours for him to apologize for, and he ultimately lost by just 348 votes to eventual winner Bob Buckhorn in getting into the runoff election.

The rancor between the two camps has been strong since the general election campaign began to take shape, beginning on the night of the primary election late last month. “This Republican primary season has been pretty frightening,” Crist said in a statement issued shortly after Jolly had officially won the GOP nomination for CD 13.

“It saddens me to think that anyone who supports Donald Trump’s agenda could ever represent Pinellas County,” it said. “And I look forward to sharing our vision for seniors, veterans, women, students, and our environment in the weeks ahead.”

Team Jolly immediately denounced the statement, saying the GOP incumbent hadn’t endorsed Trump. Team Crist responded back by saying that they didn’t say he had endorsed Trump, but had simply indicated that he supports “Trump’s agenda.”

The level of discourse has pretty much stayed at that level ever since. After Crist tweeted out a photo of a list of campaign contributors last week, the Jolly camp responded with a fundraising request labeled “disgusting,” comparing Crist posting campaign donors on an office wall in a negative light, saying that when Jolly enters his office, he sees photos of portraits of Pinellas military veterans.

And while the campaign might remain at that level over the next 50 days, there are a number of serious issues the candidates need to talk about, especially under the glare of the klieg lights, where presumably talking points won’t be sufficient in explaining their views.

“We want tonight to help voters navigate the District 13 congressional race and inform their ultimate decision,” Rivera says.

HD 60 Democrat David Singer says his campaign is about right vs. wrong, not left vs right

David Singer says that when he began his run for the Hillsborough County based House District 60 race in April, his goal was not to get into an ideological discussion about left vs. right, but “right vs. wrong.” And now that the primary election season is over, he says he intends to use the next eight weeks to make the clear distinction on the issues between himself and Republican Jackie Toledo.

Toledo narrowly defeated Rebecca Smith in the GOP primary last month, in part by pushing strongly conservative positions, such as saying that she would work to repeal the GOP-led Legislature’s recent laws on allowing instate tuition rates for undocumented immigrants. Singer pointed out other stances by Toledo which he says are out of the mainstream of the district.

“Our opponent is against gay marriage. In 2016. The law of the land is settled, that is not reflective of the people,” he said at an event kicking off his general election campaign Tuesday night at the Beck Group Building in Tampa. He also criticized her for opposing a proposal to allow big cities like Tampa to have the ability to put their own referendums on the ballot, an issue that Mayor Bob Buckhorn says would allow Tampa residents to pay for transit that the Hillsborough County Commission has shown itself reluctant to commit to.

“Our opponent is against allowing the residents of the city to determine its own destiny on transit. That is not a Republican or Democratic issue, it’s simply the right thing to do to let us as city residents, to have a choice. “

Although Singer never mentioned Smith’s name, he said that he’s been contacted by Republicans who backed her who now are supporting him in the general election.

“A lot of the moderate Republican supporters of the candidate who did not win, and have said ‘we’re excited to be with you, we are excited to support you, we are excited that someone is going to represent our community who understands business, who understands that the private sector needs to be able to succeed in order for municipalities to have the revenue they ned to serve all of its citizens, what I’m telling you is I believe we have a very big tent.”

Singer is a Chicago native who has been involved in local politics since moving to Tampa, including the Moving Hillsborough Forward transit initiative that went down to defeat in 2010. This is his first campaign for office, a challenge he said unto itself.

His campaign kickoff was a smash hit, with a large crowd filling the third floor of the Beck building, including virtually every other Democrat running for office this fall, such as Andrew Warren, Bob Buesing, Pat Kemp, Rene Frazier, Gene Siudut, Cathy James, Bob Henriquez, as well as other Democrats like Mike Suarez and Harry CohenBen Diamond, running in Pinellas County’s House District 68, also made an appearance.

While Singer pledged a campaign that wouldn’t be based on partisanship but more on shared principals, Ed Narain was there to bring some red meat to the crowd of progressives.

The House District 61 Representative, who lost by just 75 votes to Darryl Rouson last month in the Senate District 19 race, warned the audience to not underestimate the depths the GOP is willing to go in the race, referring to how he said the GOP spent more than $100,000 to aide Rouson in his contest.

And he called on the assemblage to cough up what they could financially to aid Singer.

“This is not going to be a cheap election,” he warned. They are going to rally around Jackie Toledo to try to make sure that they hold on to that seat.”

The candidates for District 60 are scheduled to participate in a Tampa Tiger Bay forum this Friday, though a spokesperson for Toledo told this reporter earlier this week that she had a conflict and would not be attending. Tiger Bay’s Vic DiMaio said on Tuesday that he’s still hoping to woo Toledo into attending the affair.

HD 60 includes all of South Tampa, much of south Hillsborough County, and Town N Country.

Dana Young urges Hillsborough PTC to reject new rules for Uber, Lyft

Writing that “Hillsborough County is better than this,” Dana Young is the latest Tampa Bay area lawmaker calling for the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission to reject proposed new rules that ridesharing companies Uber and Lyft say would force them out of the local market.

In a letter Tuesday to PTC Chair Victor Crist, Young says the current proposal set for a vote by the PTC “is plainly designed to be an anti-competitive attempt to push ride-sharing companies out of Hillsborough County.”

“If this occurs,” she added, “our constituents will pay the price by losing a safe and reliable transportation option.”

Young’s letter was co-signed by 12 members of the local Tampa Bay area legislative delegation.

Last week, a PTC subcommittee approved new regulations representatives from Uber and Lyft have said are unacceptable. They include a seven-minute wait time for a passenger to get a for a vehicle for hire in the county, a $7 minimum fare, and Level II backgrounds checks that require fingerprinting their drivers. That last demand actually compelled Uber to leave the Austin, Texas market this past spring, so both companies appear serious about not bending on that issue.

On Monday, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn headlined a news conference featuring members of Hillsborough County’s entrepreneur, tourism, and business sectors. They also called on the PTC to reject the proposed rules.

Although the state Legislature failed to come up with statewide regulations of ride-sharing companies, Young’s letter vows the issue will finally be addressed in the next regular Legislative Session, which begins March. Young says the PTC board should hold off on any action regarding ridesharing in Hillsborough until the 2017 legislative session ends next spring.

Joining her in co-signing the letter are two local Republicans well-known for their enthusiasm for ridesharing and loathing of the PTC — Jeff Brandes and Jamie Grant. Republican legislators Larry Ahern, Danny Burgess, Richard Corcoran, Bill Galvano, Jake Raburn, Shawn Harrison, Wilton Simpson, Ross Spano, Dan Raulson, and Democrat Darryl Rouson also signed onto the letter.

Some Hillsborough Democrats have been much less vocal in criticizing the PTC and speaking up for the ridesharing companies than their Republican brethren since Uber and Lyft began operating in Hillsborough in the spring of 2014.


Mitch Perry Report for 9.13.16 — Florida’s Supreme Court is about to get a little more conservative

During the 2014 gubernatorial race, selecting Supreme Court justices was a campaign issue between Rick Scott and Charlie Crist.

Though Florida’s executive and legislative branches have been fiercely conservative for going on nearly two decades now, the judiciary has not, though that slowly could be changing.

On Monday, Justice James E.C. Perry, the fourth black ever named to Florida’s high court, announced he will be retire from the bench at the end of this year as required by law, giving Scott his first opportunity to appoint a justice.

The liberal bent of the court won’t be felt immediately, as the liberals’ current 5-2 majority will shift to a 4-3 split.

However, three other justices — Barbara Pariente, Fred Lewis, and Peggy Quince, all must retire due to the state law requiring justices to retire by the age of 70 (or at the end of their six-year term if they’re halfway through the term).

Perry was named to the bench in 2009 by Charlie Crist, which goes to show you what type of governor Crist was, and why he infuriated Republicans.

Crist had the opportunity to name four judges to the court: Ricky Polston, Charles Canady, Jorge Labarga, and Perry. The first two were white men, the latter were Cuban and black, respectively. Perry and Labarga have also been considered more moderate-to-liberal — showing that he wanted all parts of the state represented.

That’s different than what we expect from most in his position — and the selection of moderate-to-liberal justices enraged conservatives.

Meanwhile, it’s still not known for certain whether Scott will have the legal ability to replace Pariente, Lewis, and Quince when they step down on inauguration day of 2019. But that’s a discussion for another day.

In other news …

With a big vote on controversial new regulations promulgated by the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission scheduled for tomorrow, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and others in the business community told them on Monday to Just Say No.

Andrew Warren is making another charge that Hillsborough County State Attorney Mark Ober has made insensitive remarks about teenage victims of rape.

Do you know who Jeff Zampitella is? He’s a Democrat running against GOP incumbent Sandy Murman in the Hillsborough County Commission District 1 race, but he’s vying for attention of any sort, eight weeks before Election Day.

Following his boss, Joe Biden is also now backing Charlie Crist publicly in his congressional bid against Republican David Jolly this November.

And Patrick Murphy and Marco Rubio have agreed to participate in at least two debates and one candidate forum in advance of the Nov. 8 U.S. Senate election.


Bob Buckhorn, others call Hillsborough PTC to reject rules that Uber, Lyft say could drive them out

Two days before the Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission looks to approve new regulations that representatives from ridesharing companies Uber and Lyft say could compel them to leave town, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and others in Hillsborough County’s business community had a simple message for them on Monday: Don’t do it.

Specifically, they warned the agency not to approve new regulations approved by a subcommittee of the PTC last week that include a $7 minimum fare and a seven-minute wait time for passengers — and absolutely do not approve Level II background checks which include having Uber and Lyft drivers fingerprinted.

“We are not going to a city that’s going to be held down hostage by any cabal of any industry,” Buckhorn said, a nod to the fact that the taxicab industry in Hillsborough — as has been the case all over the world — objects to the Transportation Network Companies (TNC’s) operating under different rules of the road.

Since they began operating in Tampa in April 2014, the PTC has been unable to bring the two companies into compliance with their regulations, many of which the companies believe are onerous and out of date. It’s not unique to this community — the ridesharing companies also remain at odds with regulators in Orlando and Jacksonville, for example, while the companies have come into compliance in the past year with local governments in Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties.

But Uber and Lyft did pull completely out of Austin, Texas, earlier this year over a similar impasse regarding those Level II background checks.

Buckhorn also used the opportunity at the press conference to once again call for the outright abolition of the PTC, the controversial agency created by the Legislature in the 1970s to craft regulations for vehicles-for-hire in Hillsborough County. It’s the only such agency in the state.

The PTC’s heavy-handed tactics in previous years have led to the belief by some that it is a handmaiden of the taxicab industry. It’s a perception that only gained more currency when former PTC Chair Kevin White was convicted of charges of conspiracy, bribery, wire fraud, and lying to the FBI after he was found guilty of accepting thousands of dollars in bribes and a luxury SUV exchange for helping three prospective wrecker company operators win certificates from the PTC.

“I continue to believe it is a dinosaur,” Buckhorn said about the PTC, a belief shared by Tampa Bay area legislators like Jeff Brandes, Dana Young, and Jamie Grant. “Dinosaurs are extinct. The PTC should be extinct.”

“We are not trying to keep anybody out of the marketplace,” insists Kyle Cockream, the executive director of the PTC. “Instead, the focus is on consensus on regulations that ensure rider safety,” he said in a statement. “We want a solid framework that welcomes TNC’s while making the safety of our riding public a priority.”

Buckhorn was surrounded by more than a dozen people at the news conference, held at the Attic, a downtown coffee shop/bar. Many were representatives of the business community and entrepreneurs who don’t want Uber and Lyft to leave, saying such a loss will hurt with the recruitment of businesses and the retaining and/or luring millennials to stay in the Tampa Bay.

“The whole country took note when Austin passed its draconian legislation,” said Christopher Emmanuel, director of infrastructure and governance policy for the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “We ask that the PTC suspend consideration of this extreme rule, and work with the new business and responsible partners that are hoping to bring transportation solutions for Tampa and Florida’s future.”

Tony DiBenedetto is the chair and CEO of a tech company called Tribridge. He said he doesn’t even own a car these days, and instead takes Uber to wherever he has to go.

“I think it’s sending the wrong message to everybody,” he said about the proposed regulations, which could prompt the companies to leave the region. “I think this is a devastating decision on their part. I think it would hurt us from a recruiting perspective; it’s already hard to recruit to Tampa.”

Although the Level II background checks have garnered the most attention, Uber and Lyft have serious issues with other proposed rules going before the PTC board on Wednesday, such as a seven-minute wait time for anyone to hail a vehicle-for-hire car in Hillsborough County.

“You request a ride, said Blayn Shamble, a Tampa Bay area Lyft driver.”It takes two minutes to get there, and now I have to lock my doors and roll my window down and say, ‘I’m sorry, you cannot legally get into my car until five minutes passes.’

“In my opinion, that is just picking your winners and losers in a free market,” Shamble added.

The PTC has said the new rules were promulgated by members of the cab industry and would-be TNC DriveSociety, who are pushing the PTC hard to pass the new rules.

“Are you a believer in public safety?,” shouted out DriveSociety proprietor Marcus Carter after Buckhorn explained how he believed competition was good for business. “You’re not a member of the media,” barked Buckhorn, who later said that he “welcomed” DriveSociety to the industry.

The Tampa mayor also said the cab industry needed to “up their game” to stay competitive with the new technology.

Louis Menardi, the chair of the Florida Taxicab Association and president of Yellow Cab of Tampa, issued a statement shortly before the press conference took place.

“Uber and Lyft’s approach to this issue is not unique to Hillsborough County or Florida,” he said. “All across the U.S., many local communities, including Portland, San Francisco, San Antonio, Austin, and Orlando are raising significant concerns about fundamental public safety issues and background checks, whether TNC drivers have any or adequate insurance, and whether the local communities should require better service from them for passengers in wheelchairs.

“In response, TNCs flout the law, ignore local regulations and resort to threatening local cities and counties with leaving and/or state and federal forced deregulation when they are questioned about their business practices as they relate to public safety and well-being.”

The PTC board meeting on the new rules will take place Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. at the County Center, 601 E. Kennedy, Tampa, 2nd floor.

It’s (virtually) official: Darryl Rouson has won the SD 19 Dem primary over Ed Narain

With machine and manual recounts now finished in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, Darryl Rouson is the winner in the Democratic primary for Senate District 19.

He defeated Ed Narain by a mere 66 votes (that’s what the Rouson campaign told us. The Florida Division of Elections website shows the difference to be 77 votes. The Tampa Bay Times reports that Rouson received 73 more votes than Narain).

The results will not be certified until Thursday, September 8, but the vote tally will not change.

Early polling in the Senate District 19 race that encompasses both parts of both Hillsborough and Pinellas County showed that while nearly three-quarters of the district was situated in Hillsborough, the quarter of voters in Pinellas County were more likely to go to the polls. And that’s what happened in Tuesday’s election that for now has given St. Petersburg-based Darryl Rouson an extremely narrow lead over Tampa’s Ed Narain, with a recount scheduled to take place on Friday. The two candidates remain just 75 votes apart on Thursday night, after more than 37,000 ballots were cast in the two counties.

Although only 26.4 percent of the district is in Pinellas, 42 percent of the total vote in the contest came from Pinellas County, says Barry Edwards, Rouson’s campaign manager, who says flatly, “We had the best field operation in the state of Florida in any Senate race, and that’s why he won.”

There were four candidates in the race, two based in Hillsborough (Narain and former state Representative Betty Reed), and two in Pinellas (Rouson and civil justice attorney Augie Ribeiro).  Although Narain went after Ribeiro in some of his advertising materials, the fact is that Ribeiro’s late entry into the race split up some of that Pinellas vote that was clearly destined for Rouson. Of the 15,809 people who voted in the SD 19 race in Pinellas, 12,683 went to either Rouson or Ribeiro, with Rouson getting twice as many votes in Pinellas than Ribeiro did.

The conventional wisdom was that Narain and Betty Reed would share a bulk of the Hillsborough vote, and that’s exactly what happened in the early vote and on Tuesday night. Narain and Reed combined for more than 52 percent of the Hillsborough vote, while Rouson and Ribeiro took 28 percent of it. Ribeiro actually received nearly 1,000 more votes in Hillsborough than did Rouson.

Redistricting expert Matthew Isbell says that, “Narain was hurt by Reed’s entry into the race,” which is accurate, though Reed supporters would take issue that comment, since Reed had in fact declared for the seat months before Narain had entered into it. The Reed camp (and others in the district) were angered when Narain entered the race back in March, considering that Reed’s endorsement of Narain might have been the key factor in his winning his House District 61 seat over Sean Shaw back in 2014. As Florida Politics reported earlier this year, a meeting was held last December with the idea of Reed and Narain “trading seats,” with Narain entering the Senate 19 race and Reed going back to running for HD 61, a seat that she held from 2004-2012. Reed rejected the proposal.

What also shouldn’t be overlooked is the power that still resides with the region’s only major newspaper in town, the Tampa Bay Times, who endorsed Rouson in the race.

And while Narain had major endorsements from Kathy Castor and Bob Buckhorn in Hillsborough County, Rouson won the backing of the entire St. Petersburg City Council (including Republican Ed Montanari), Gulfport officials like Mayor Sam Henderson and Councilwoman Yolanda Roman, and all of the Democrats on the Pinellas County Commission.

An early poll that showed Rouson leading and Narain in third received huge criticism after it’s release, but Edwards says it was prescient. When it was released, St. Pete Polls pollster Matt Florell said that, “The geographical split is interesting in Senate District 19, with 25 percent of the population residing in Pinellas County and 75 percent in Hillsborough County,” Florell said. “But when it comes to the active Democratic primary voting population, Pinellas County jumps to a 41 percent share. Our poll had 43 percent of the respondents from Pinellas County, so it is a fairly accurate representation of who will vote in this primary race.”

Rouson himself said on Thursday that it was too soon to analyze how he (apparently) won the contest, but did share that “we are focused.”

“We had a strategy,” he said. “We did out best not to let other campaign’s take us off our game. The people came out all over the district. Hillsborough to Pinellas, From Riverview to East Tampa, from Midtown to downtown, and they expressed themselves.”

Mitch Perry Report for 8.31.16 — Moving on to November

Good morning, everyone.

Florida’s primary election is history. So, where to begin?

Patrick Murphy will face Marco Rubio in November. Murphy crushed Alan Grayson, 59  to 18 percent, with Pam Keith a close third at 15 percent. Rubio gets credit for honesty, saying that he can’t say for sure that he’ll fulfill all six years of his term if elected, which naturally Murphy is attempting to exploit.

Boy, this race is going to get tawdry.

In what has to be considered a mini-upset, St. Petersburg’s Darryl Rouson holds an ever-so-slight lead over Ed Narain when all the votes were tabulated in last night’s Senate District 19 race. With over 37,000 votes cast on both sides of the Bay, Rouson had 61 more votes, close enough to trigger an automatic machine recount after Thursday. A huge (probable) win for Rouson, and a big loss for not just Narain, but the Florida Democratic Party, who have viewed Narain as an up-and-coming star in the party. He likely will be back, but not in 2017.

Augie Ribeiro did decently in St. Pete in terms of votes, but there was no way he was able to get his name out effectively enough in such a short time. A lot of people are talking today about how big money came up short in this election, but in the case of Ribeiro, he was trying to go from zero to 60 in less than two months.

You don’t have Jim Norman to kick around anymore, Hillsborough Democrats, Republicans and members of the media. That comeback experience ended last night, and now his GOP opponent, Tim Schock, advances to the general election against Pat Kemp. That should be a good battle, and one would think the Hillsborough Dems would get strongly behind Kemp. If not, they’re looking at a board that will have a 6-1 Republican advantage.

Jackie Toledo narrowly edged out Rebecca Smith in the GOP House District 60 race. Congrats to Toledo, who absolutely outworked Smith in the grassroots to get more votes.

The trash talking has already begun in the CD 13 race between David Jolly and Charlie Crist after Jolly cruised to an easy re-election victory in his GOP race for the nomination.

In the end, it wasn’t all that close in South Florida, as former DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz defeated insurgent progressive challenger Tim Canova by 14 points, 57 to 43 percent in the race for Congress in Florida’s 23rd District.

Ben Diamond defeated Eric Lynn in the highly competitive House District 68 race in Pinellas County.

Tampa attorney Sean Shaw won a close contest against East Tampa businesswoman Dianne Hart in the House District 61 seat.

Pat Frank whipped Kevin Beckner in the Hillsborough Clerk of the Courts race.

Daniel Webster wins in CD 11.

It wouldn’t be Election Day in Hillsborough County with some report of shenanigans taking place. As this one went, however, it was pretty small potatoes.

Murphy’s comment to us on Monday that he’d likely pursue adding a public option to the Affordable Care Act continues to ruffle the waters, as this statement from Americans for Prosperity Florida indicates.

Sarasota area Republican Alex Miller says she’ll change her main TV ad now that she’s going to the general election in House District 72, after several members of the public stated that they didn’t appreciate her “one of us” tagline.

With a major storm approaching Tampa, Mayor Bob Buckhorn used the occasion yesterday to lobby City Council members to approve his $250 million stormwater infrastructure improvement plan.

The story from a primary election day in the not-too-distant future

TALLAHASSEE — Two years after Hillary Clinton became the nation’s first female president, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham has become the second woman to win a major party’s nomination for Florida governor.

Graham, an attorney and daughter of former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, held off her two Democratic rivals in a spirited primary election.

Graham now faces former state House Speaker Will Weatherford in November. The Wesley Chapel Republican edged out Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, the GOP establishment favorite, in a free-wheeling, wide-open Republican primary.

The man Graham and Weatherford hope to replace, Rick Scott, easily won the Republican nomination in Florida’s U.S. Senate race. He’ll face three-term Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson in the fall.

Spending only $9 million out of his personal fortune, it was the least amount Scott has spent to win an election. Instead, the still-powerful governor raised more than $30 million for his Senate campaign from the political allies who have long supported him. The Florida Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce donated heavily to “Let’s Get to Work America,” the super PAC backing Scott.

It was Scott’s nonstop fundraising after winning re-election in 2014 — especially as it became clear he would be back on the ballot in 2018 — that became one of the launching points for Graham’s gubernatorial bid. Her promise to “clean up the Governor’s Mansion” became a rallying cry for her and supporters on the campaign trail.

Graham captured 38 percent of the Democratic vote, while Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn finished second with 30 percent and Miami Beach Mayor Phil Levine, despite spending more than $50 million of his own money, ended in third place with 28 percent. A handful of also-rans and gadfly candidates rounded out the results.

The clear difference for Graham was her strength with African-American voters, who were reminded in television commercial after television commercial of Tampa’s controversial “biking while black” ticketing scandal.

While Graham rarely brought up the topic, an anti-Buckhorn super PAC never let the issue drop, dogging Buckhorn press conferences with paid protestors who would buzz the events by circling around on bicycles. The video of Buckhorn jumping down from a stage to confront one of the young protestors went viral.

Levine entered the race with considerable fanfare, distributing virtual reality players to donors and reporters so they could watch the short film he had produced about his tenure as mayor.

And while the “Miami Beach Miracle” movie was the first use of VR on a campaign trail, Levine did not deliver at the box office. Polls indicated he never connected with either the conservative north Florida Democrats loyal to Graham or the voters of the I-4 corridor which Buckhorn hoped would be enough of a base to beat Graham.

The Tampa Bay area was ground zero for the GOP primary, with at least five candidates having staked some sort of claim to the state’s largest media market. Weatherford is from Wesley Chapel, Putnam from Bartow, Carlos Beruff from Parrish, Richard Corcoran from Land O’ Lakes, and Jack Latvala from Clearwater.

Beruff never stopped running for statewide office after losing to Marco Rubio in the 2016 U.S. Senate race. Although his consulting team was busy with Scott’s race, the prospect of Beruff writing another eight-figure check for his campaign kept the nucleus of his team together.

The Manatee County homebuilder parted with another $14 million in his bid to become governor, making it nearly $25 million Beruff has spent in the last two years for two losing campaigns.

Corcoran and Latvala, the two legislative powerhouses who brought the Capitol to a standstill earlier this year over Corcoran’s resistance to commit any taxpayer dollars to Latvala’s plan to build a new stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays, really only flirted with running for governor.

Corcoran was in the race for about a month, Latvala less than that. But after the so-called “Waffle House Summit” at which Corcoran and Latvala agreed to drop their bids for governor and instead run for attorney general and chief financial officer, while backing Weatherford over Putnam, the governor’s race became a two-man affair.

Corcoran will square off against Palm Beach State Attorney Dave Aronberg in the attorney general’s race, while Latvala will face Democrat Jeremy Ring. Former House Speaker Steve Crisafulli faces nominal Democratic opposition in the race for agriculture commissioner.

For much of the race, Putnam held every advantage — in fundraising, endorsements, and name recognition. But Weatherford doggedly traveled the state, damning Putnam with faint praise.

“Adam has been a good politician for more than 20 years,” Weatherford would say, “And he would make a good governor. But what Florida needs now is a transformational governor.”

The charge of Putnam being a career politician began to stick as Weatherford won straw polls at county party meetings and the endorsements of national movement conservatives. To many observers, the Weatherford vs. Putnam race played out like the Marco Rubio vs. Charlie Crist race of 2010.

By the time Goliath noticed David, it was too late.

Weatherford heads into November knowing that Florida Republicans typically outperform Democrats in non-presidential years.

But Graham is anything but a typical politician. With her father campaigning by her side and a legion of volunteers behind her, Graham may be the Democrats’ best chance to take back the Governor’s Mansion since the days of Lawton Chiles.

Patrick Murphy says he’ll push for public option to be added to ACA if elected to the Senate

Patrick Murphy says if he is elected to the U.S. Senate in November, he’ll push to provide a public option to the Affordable Care Act.

“At least in rural areas, where you don’t have much competition,” the Jupiter representative and Senate Democratic hopeful said on while making a campaign stop on Monday morning in West Tampa. He said that would be an added option for people on the ACA, “and beyond that, to make sure that there is competition ultimately.”

Passed six years ago, the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) still divides the country and the Congress. Most Republicans continue to call for repealing the entire measure, though they rarely have provided a viable alternative. Democrats have stood by it for the most part, but even some of the law’s biggest supporters say it needs an overhaul.

Earlier this month, health care giant Aetna announced it had lost more than $400 million on Obamacare policies since the insurance exchanges were set up in 2014, and was going to pull out of most of them, including in Florida. That followed similar announcements made by United Healthcare and Humana.

Which means fewer choices for those on the ACA. Lack of competition means higher premiums and/or lower benefits. A public option would be a federal option open to anyone on the individual market, and Murphy said he’d push for it if elected in November. Hillary Clinton has made similar comments on the campaign trail.

“The key is like any issue — it’s acknowledging that there are some things that are working, and that some things that need to be fixed,” Murphy said. “No legislation that is passed — or rarely I should say — is perfect, and you have to evolve with the times to see what’s actually working. Unfortunately, in Washington you have a group of people that basically want to shut down the government … they say throw the whole thing and start over, without offering solutions to it.”

Murphy was in the Tampa Bay area for the third straight Monday leading into Tuesday’s primary election, where he’s facing Congressman Alan Grayson and retired Navy JAG officer Pam Keith for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate. However, Murphy never talks about his fellow Democrats on the campaign trail, instead looking ahead to a November matchup against incumbent GOP Sen. Marco Rubio.

Murphy appeared shortly before 9 a.m. at the West Tampa Sandwich Shop, a traditional stop for Democrats running for office to make an appearance at (Barack Obama was there in September of 2012). He was joined by state Rep. Janet Cruz, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Tampa City Councilman Guido Maniscalco, and Hillsborough County Commission hopeful Pat Kemp, among others. Murphy spent time speaking to other “regular voters” who had assembled at the table, which gave him the opportunity to discuss his plans for immigration, health care and the economy. And diss Rubio.

“Climate change — I believe it’s happening, I believe it’s real, I believe we have to get off this addiction to fossil fuels; Sen. Marco Rubio denies it’s happening,” he said while speaking to reporters after spending more than half an hour sitting at a table and talking about some of the issues he’s running on.

“It’s like infrastructure. I believe we need to make the investments. He doesn’t believe in that. I want to pass comprehensive immigration reform. He does not want to do that. He wants to support Donald Trump, who wants to build a wall, and deport 11 million people the first day. Sen. Rubio has completely lost sight of his values and his morals, because he’s so worried about running for president again.”

“Patrick Murphy promised voters that Obamacare’s state exchanges would bring down costs and create more competition, but Floridians are finding that the exact opposite has happened,” said Rubio spokesman Michael Ahrens. “Obamacare has left them with fewer health care options and skyrocketing premiums they can’t afford, yet Patrick Murphy’s answer is to expand the program and make things worse for Florida’s families. Marco will keep fighting for a patient-centered alternative that improves choices for consumers, costs Floridians less, and helps everyone get the coverage they need.”

Following his West Tampa appearance, Murphy was scheduled to make campaign stops in Orlando and Miami. His campaign announced he will be spending election night in Palm Beach Gardens.


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