Carlos Lopez-Cantera – Page 5 – Florida Politics

Mitch Perry Report for 6.15.16 — What will Marco do?

Is Marco Rubio ready to do the (almost) unthinkable, and announce he will be running again for the U.S. Senate seat he renounced a year ago?

We’ll find out soon enough — the deadline to make such a decision is just nine days away.

The man who runs this website, Peter Schorschwrote last night a deal is in the works where Rubio’s Miami-Dade County ally, Carlos Lopez-Cantera, would drop out and announce he’s running for CFO in 2018. Dealing with CLC is important, since Rubio has made such an issue of their friendship. Well, Lopez-Cantera has sounded pretty contemptuous of all things Washington during his campaign for Senate, so it wouldn’t be a radical thing for him to say it works better for him to keep his current day job until 2018.

David Jolly would also drop out, while outsider candidates Todd Wilcox and Carlos Beruff would no doubt stay in the race. Wilcox told us yesterday Rubio’s entry back into the race would only magnify the difference between a career politician like Rubio and himself. It’s uncertain what Ron DeSantis might do.

Whether this is a great move by Rubio will be for others to decide. Personally, I think it’s a good move if it’s to be believed that Rubio aspires to run again for president in 2020. It seems to me much better to still be in the game (in Washington) than coming from the private sector (a la Jeb Bush, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney).

Whether he can actually win in November is in dispute, but not that he would be the nominee.

That’d be a comeback, of sorts, if you consider how badly he was humiliated in the state’s March presidential primary, when he won all of one of Florida’s 67 counties.

In other news …

Tom Lee has finally made a decision regarding his political future in Hillsborough County.

Rick Baker has endorsed Rebecca Smith in the House District 60 contest.

Kevin Beckner raises more than $11K in his battle to dethrone Hillsborough Clerk of the Court Pat Frank.

Former Plant City Mayor John Dicks had the most robust month of fundraising in the Hillsborough County Commission District 6 contest last month, but he still trails two other Democrats in overall fundraising.

Boca Raton Democratic Representative Ted Deutsch says lifting the loophole that allows those on a terror watch list to still buy guns should be a priority in Congress in the wake of the Orlando massacre.

And the Tampa Bay business elite is calling on the Hillsborough County MPO to approve the TBX in its TIP next week.


CLC to CFO? Ron DeSantis to A.G.? It’s all in play if Marco Rubio runs for re-election

It’s the seemingly intractable problem of Florida politics these days, one that has eluded even the most savvy operators.

If Marco Rubio does jump back into the race for his U.S. Senate seat, how do you rearrange the chess pieces — at least the ones that matter — so everyone comes out a winner?

After weeks of saying he wouldn’t run for re-election, Rubio on Monday seemed to open the door to run again in 2016. When asked by conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt if the shooting at an Orlando nightclub changed his decision, Rubio appeared to crack the door open to the possibility.

“I haven’t even given it a thought in that perspective other than to say that I’ve been deeply impacted by it, and I think when it visits your home state and impacts community you know well, it really gives you pause to think a little bit about … your service to our country and then where you can be most useful your country,” he said on the show. “We live in a very dramatic moment in our history.”

Rubio said he and his family were praying on the issue, and said they would be discussing how he could best serve. During the interview, Rubio also said a friend of his — Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera — was running for the seat.

Subsequently, Lopez-Cantera has been under tremendous pressure to scoot aside for Rubio.

The deadline to qualify for the 2016 ballot is Friday, June 24th.

“It’s like when you have to tell your best friend that he should break up with an ugly girlfriend,” said one former elected official close to Lopez-Cantera who has helped raise money for the LG. “You have to do it gently. You don’t just tell him his girlfriend is horrible.”

Two other sources who have raised considerable money for both Rubio’s presidential bid and Lopez-Cantera’s U.S. Senate campaign and/or super PAC tell that were CLC to withdraw from the race in time for Rubio to qualify for re-election, there would be considerable support for Lopez-Cantera were he to run in 2018 for the statewide post of Chief Financial Officer.

With CLC taken care of, what about the other candidates who have been running under the premise Rubio would not seek re-election?

U.S. Rep. David Jolly has already said he would withdraw.It’s likely he would run for re-election to his U.S. House seat. He has already received encouragement from some Tampa Bay area Republicans, including Sen. Jack Latvala, to run for re-election. If he runs for re-election, Jolly would face Democrat Charlie Crist.

Carlos Beruff and Todd Wilcox are both on record saying they will stay in the race regardless of what Rubio does. In fact, as first reported by, Wilcox launched his first television ad Tuesday.

That leaves Ron DeSantis.

While some have speculated he would simply run again for his congressional seat, the rumor du jour is that if Rubio runs for re-election, he will drop out and run for Florida Attorney General in 2018.

As he should, DeSantis campaign manager Brad Herold denies this.

“We’re not concerned with Washington insider chatter,” said Herold. “We’re focused on continuing to build the strongest campaign of any candidate in Florida.”

Herold didn’t say this, but DeSantis isn’t stupid. He’d move out of the way for Rubio. And while he’ll probably take a look at running again for CD 6, our sources say DeSantis is more interested in statewide office.

As for the actual chances of Rubio running, many Republicans assume it’s a foregone conclusion.

Oh sure, there will be some hemming and hawing about Rubio having to get the OK from his wife, but the real hesitation Rubio has is whether he can win in this election cycle with Donald Trump at the top of the ticket.

One Republican lobbyist, who has raised well into the six-figures for Rubio, says the senator has expressed to him “trepidation” against re-entering the race and losing because Trump motivates Democratic voters to turn out in waves.

“That’s what Marco is really hesitant about,” said the lobbyist.


Todd Wilcox talks about eliminating ISIS in first campaign advertisement

Todd Wilcox released his first campaign advertisement Tuesday. The 30-second web spot — called “Eliminating ISIS” — coincides with a statewide tour focused on national security.

“Terrorists have brought this fight to American soil and it’s time we get serious about eliminating ISIS once and for all,” he said in a statement. “ISIS can be defeated, but it’s going to require American leadership and a real strategy to win.”

In the advertisement, Wilcox is shown saying the nation should use “every pillar of American power to destroy ISIS.”

“ISIS can be defeated, but it requires American leadership and a real strategy to win,” he said in the spot.

Wilcox is one of five Republicans running for U.S. Senate seat currently held by Marco Rubio. Wilcox faces Rep. Ron DeSantis, Rep. David Jolly, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, and Carlos Beruff in the Aug. 30 primary.

On Tuesday, he kicked off a three-day campaign swing to talk about national security. The campaign tour had been in the works for several weeks, but Wilcox, a combat veteran and former CIA case officer, said the events in Orlando bring the issue of national security into the forefront of discussions.


Todd Wilcox urges action to deal with ISIS

For Todd Wilcox, the Orlando shooting hit close to home.

He lives 15 miles south of the nightclub where 49 people were killed, and 53 more were injured early Sunday morning. His youngest daughter, now seven years old, was born at the hospital across the street. His oldest daughter, a 23-year-old recent graduate, lives near Lake Eola, where a vigil was held Sunday night to honor the victims.

“It was just gut wrenching to see what happened,” said Wilcox.

Wilcox is one of five Republicans running for U.S. Senate seat currently held by Marco Rubio. On Tuesday, he’ll kick off a three-day campaign swing to talk about national security. The campaign tour had been in the works for several weeks, but Wilcox said the events in Orlando bring the issue of national security into the forefront of discussions.

“Orlando represents the largest single terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11 and the single largest mass casualty shooting,” said Wilcox during a stop in Fort Myers on Monday. “Whether it’s inspired or directed, it really doesn’t matter. The root cause is ISIS.”

Wilcox, a combat veteran and former CIA case officer, said the shooting should act as a wake-up call that the “political leadership is failing in America.”

“We have to take this war to the enemy, and I really think we need to go after them,” he said. “We need to declare war on ISIS, and use every pillar of American power to destroy this enemy.”

Wilcox has already put forth several suggestions to combat ISIS. Following the November 2015 attacks in Paris, Wilcox outlined a plan to take action to eliminate ISIS. That proposal included leading a coalition of Middle Eastern countries to create a standing army of 200,000 conventional troops to “destroy and occupy ISIS-controlled territory” in Syria and Iraq. It also called on the United States to provide command and control, intel, and support for the coalition’s efforts.

Wilcox said the United States can use its cyber power to shut down ISIS’ “cancerous social media marketing machine,” and use the United States’ economic power to cut off revenue streams. But he also said allies in the Middle East need to step up and begin to “take back their religion.”

“The Arab world has got to wake up. There has to be a reformation in Islam. They need to take back their religion,” he said. “I’ve worked shoulder-to-shoulder with our allies in the Middle East in combat, and know there are a lot of people in the Middle East, Muslims, that want the same things for their kids that we want for our kids.”

Wilcox said the country did not need to ban Muslims — or people from countries with a terrorist connection — from entering the United States.

Wilcox said he thinks there was a notion that “people are feeding on the fear” that people have right now. He acknowledged it is a “legitimate fear,” but said banning Muslims from entering the United States “is not a feasible proposal.”

Wilcox faces Rep. Ron DeSantis, Rep. David Jolly, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, and Carlos Beruff in the Aug. 30 Republican primary. He said he has spent the past several months traveling the state, and said his message is resonating with voters.

“I’m encouraged by the feedback I get when the message gets out there,” he said. “I’m running out of desperation and frustration, not aspiration.”

Email Insights: Carlos Lopez-Cantera calls on nation to stand up to radical terrorism

Carlos Lopez-Cantera urged the nation to work together to stand up to “radical terrorism.”

In an email to supporters Monday, the lieutenant governor called the shooting at an Orlando nightclub an act of terrorism, and said it was a sober reminder that “terrorists will not think twice about coming after the United States.”

“We must work as a nation to completely and wholly eradicate ISIS and the evil they stand for,” said Lopez-Cantera, one of five Republicans running for the Senate. “We as a nation must stand up to the radical terrorism that threatens our way of life, we as a nation must come together to have hope in a horrible time, and we as a nation must pray for Florida.”

Lopez-Cantera told supporters he spent time in Orlando on Sunday and Monday with Gov. Rick Scott, and said the “sense of community and love we are seeing is proof that we are a resilient people.”

“The acts of selflessness in Orlando have been truly remarkable, from over 1,500 in line to donate blood to volunteers handing out water,” he said. “This community, state and country is showing the world that we refuse to be intimidated into changing our lives because of a cowardly act of evil.”

He went on to call the law enforcement officers “true heroes,” and said their “bravery must be commended.”

Lopez-Cantera faces Rep. Ron DeSantis, Rep. David Jolly, Carlos Beruff and Todd Wilcox in the race Aug. 30 Republican primary. All five are vying to replace Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate.

Todd Wilcox to focus on national security during statewide tour

Todd Wilcox will focus on national security during a three-day campaign swing through the state later this week.

Wilcox, one of five Republicans running for U.S. Senate, announced Monday he plans to discuss national security issues on his three-day “Preserving Peace through Strength” campaign swing. The statewide tour will come just days after 49 people were killed and more than 50 were injured in a mass shooting at an Orlando nightclub.

In a statement Monday, the Orlando Republican said campaign tour was part of a “previously scheduled series of events.”

“As we approach this historic election, we must examine the context of our current U.S. foreign policy and national security strategy within which our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines are serving,” he said. “The unspeakable act of terror in my hometown this weekend remains on the forefront of concern this week for all of us and my hope is that this previously scheduled series of events serves as an opportunity to have thoughtful dialogue with veterans, GOP activists, community leaders, concerned Floridians and business owners about the impact our nation’s foreign policy has on our safety and security here at home.”

Wilcox is a combat veteran and former CIA case officer. He is one of two veterans, along with Rep. Ron DeSantis, hoping to replace Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate.

Rep. David Jolly, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Carlos Beruff are also running. The Republican primary is Aug. 30.

Wilcox kicks off the statewide tour Wednesday with stops in Tampa and Pensacola. On Thursday, he’ll attend a breakfast in Pensacola, before traveling to Tallahassee and Amelia Island. He’ll spend the final day of the tour in Jacksonville.


Rick Scott requests emergency declaration from Barack Obama after Orlando shooting

Gov. Rick Scott has requested President Barack Obama declare a state of emergency in Florida.

In a letter to the president Monday, Scott asked the president to declare an emergency in Florida for the “horrific massacre committed by a terrorist in Orlando.” The governor said he asked for the state of emergency so the full resources of the government can be made available for those impacted.

An armed gunman wielding an assault-type rifle and a handgun opened fire inside Pulse Orlando, a popular gay nightclub, early Sunday morning. Law enforcement officers have said 49 people were killed, and another 53 were hospitalized. The shooter — identified as Omar Mateen of Port St. Lucie — was killed at the scene.

Scott said Monday he has been in constant contact with federal, state and local law enforcement officers. The Naples Republican also said he has spoken to the hospitals caring for the victims, and has been in touch with some of the victims’ families “to let them know we are grieving with them and will be there for them every step of the way.”

“Our state is mourning, but the Orlando community is strong. We are all coming together, and we will get through this together,” said Scott in a statement. “I ask every American to continue to pray for our state and nation and all those affected by this terror attack.”

Scott traveled to Orlando Sunday, where he was joined by Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera. In a statement Monday, Lopez-Cantera said he has been on the ground in Orlando and “the sense of community and love we see here is proof that we are a resilient people.”

“We as Americans have shown and will continue to show that we cannot and will not be intimidated into changing our way of life by evil,” said Lopez-Cantera in a statement. “The State of Florida has offered all resources available, and will continue to be in constant contact with all agencies involved. Our prayers are with those and their families devastated by last night’s act of terror, and we will be doing everything possible to support.”


National security, gun control likely front and center in Senate race after Orlando shooting

The deadly shooting in Orlando over the weekend will likely bring national security and gun control to the forefront of Florida’s U.S. Senate race.

Early Sunday morning, a gunman wielding an assault-type rifle and a handgun opened fire inside Pulse Orlando, a popular gay nightclub. Law enforcement officers said Sunday 50 people were killed, and another 53 were hospitalized. The shooter — identified as Omar Mateen of Port St. Lucie — was killed at the scene.

Law enforcement officials were investigating whether the shooting, which has been called the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history, was an act of domestic or international terrorism.

In the hours after the shooting, U.S. Senate candidates offered their condolences and prayers, and a few gave a peek into the discussions candidates may be having in the coming weeks about their position on national security, gun control and terrorism.

“An evil act of a radical Islamic terrorist in Orlando,” said Carlos Beruff, one of five Republicans vying for his party’s nomination, said in a statement on Twitter. “Thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.”

In April, the Beruff said he suggested it wasn’t safe “to allow anybody from the Middle East” into the country. The comment came in response to a question about his position on Muslim immigration.

“I stand by my answer and will repeat: anyone with ties, or possible ties, to terrorism should not be allowed in the United States,” he said in a statement one day later on April 26.

Such a policy likely would have done little to stop the incident in Orlando this weekend. The shooter was born in New York, and moved to Florida with his family several years ago.

Two of the Republicans running for the seat — Rep. Ron DeSantis and Todd Wilcox — have military experience. On Sunday, neither man commented on the issue of national security, instead sending prayers and condolences to the community.

“Prayers for those impacted by the unspeakable act of terror in our hometown of Orlando,” said Wilcox in a statement on Twitter. “Holding my girls a little closer this morning.”

Said DeSantis on Twitter: “My thoughts and prayers are with the victims, families and people of Orlando. Thanks to law enforcement who responded to this act of terror.”

Rep. David Jolly said the country needs to resolve “to always confront and defeat terror.”

“We join together today as a nation to pray for the Orlando victims and their loved ones,” he said in a statement. “This is our Paris. Let us resolve today to always confront and defeat terror at the hands of evil so that this may never happen again.”

Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera also sent prayers to the community. Lopez-Cantera attended a vigil with Gov. Rick Scott in Orlando on Sunday evening, according to Arek Sarkissian with the Naples Daily News.

“Our prayers are with those and their families devastated by last night’s act of terror,” said Lopez-Cantera in a tweet Sunday morning.

Republicans weren’t the only ones to weigh in Sunday. Rep. Alan Grayson, an Orlando Democrat, said commended Orlando police “for their heroic efforts to save the lives of those who could be saved.”

“Our thoughts and our hearts go out to the victims, their families and the entire Orlando community,” he said in a statement. “Words cannot express the horror, pain and sadness that we feel about this terrible loss.”

Rep. Patrick Murphy, a Jupiter Democrat, also sent his condolences to the community.

“I am devastated by the news of the shooting in Orlando. My heart goes out to the victims and all those affected by this horrifying tragedy,” he said on Twitter. “Orlando is stronger than this act of hate and evil. Thank you to our brave first responders for your selfless actions.”

While Senate candidates refrained from turning to politics on Sunday, it’s likely the incident will play into their campaign in the coming weeks. The shooting has already emerged as a topic on the national stage, with both presumptive presidential nominees weighing in.

Democrat Hillary Clinton used the shooting to push for gun control, saying the shooting “reminds us once more that weapons of war have no place on our streets.” Clinton also said the country needs to redouble its efforts “to defend our country from threats at home and abroad.”

“That means defeating international terror groups, working with allies and partners to go after them wherever they are, countering their attempts to recruit people here and everywhere, and hardening our defenses at home,” she said in a statement. “It also means refusing to be intimidated and staying true to our values.”

Republican Donald Trump used the moment to call on President Barack Obama to step down, because he refused to use the words “radical Islam” in his comments. Trump also said he predicted an incident like this would happen, and said “it is only going to get worse.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


The opposite and equal movements of Marco Rubio, David Jolly, and Charlie Crist

Going on seven years, the most consistent storyline in Florida politics — beyond the sheer craziness of #FloridaMan — is the linked, often inverted fates of Marco Rubio and Charlie Crist.

When Rubio is up, as he was at the end of Election Day in 2010, Crist was down. When Rubio’s stock plummeted in 2012-13, Crist’s was on the rise as he changed parties and snapped pictures from the White House.

Once again this year, what Rubio has done has created an opposite-and-equal reaction in Crist.

Rubio not running for re-election to the U.S. Senate created the open seat for U.S. Rep David Jolly to throw his hat in, thereby opening the door for Crist to win Jolly’s seat in Congress.

Now, with candidate qualifying underway, there is intense pressure on Rubio to reconsider his decision not to run. Whatever Rubio decides, this process is already having an impact on Cristworld, as Jolly is being urged by many GOP leaders to do his own reconsidering about running in Congressional District 13.

Here are five things I think about the opposite-and-equal movements of Rubio, Jolly, and Crist.

1. I’m back in the camp that says Rubio will not run for re-election to the U.S. Senate.

This thinking has nothing to do with the fact that he’s headlining a fundraiser for Carlos Lopez-Cantera on June 24. CLC is a very nice guy and a more savvy operator than his time as lieutenant governor/candidate for the U.S. Senate has allowed him to display, but he’s a beta, not an alpha. Just look at how Rick Scott‘s office has treated him, for goodness’ sake. If Rubio told him to scoot over, Lopez-Cantera would make room.

No, what tells me Rubio won’t run for the Senate is that two of his top staffers, Terry Sullivan and Alex Conantjust launched their own consulting firm. Who knows better what Rubio is really thinking than those guys, right? Would they really have hung out their own shingle without checking with the boss? Sure, they could still help Rubio through their shop, but not as easily if they were free agents. Sullivan and Conant would appear to share one of the same goals as their principal: it’s time to make some freakin’ money!

1a. The most significant development about Jolly’s thinking is not that he may or may not be reconsidering running for CD 13, it’s that if he does reconsider, he would do so separate of whatever Rubio does. Jolly — the freakin’ frontrunner, mind you and probably  —

2. Jolly is one of the best new members of Congress we’ve seen; too bad he didn’t like campaigning

Why do so many Republicans want Jolly to run for re-election to Congress? Sure, some of it is to foil Crist’s return to electoral politics, but hating Crist only gets you so far. The reality is that in his brief time in Congress the moderate, statesmanlike Jolly has demonstrated he is a caring, hard-working public servant. And to many other Republican elected officials, he is exactly what they’d like to be if they didn’t have to worry about extremists on their right pulling them in that direction.

That said, Jolly has made it clear he detests campaigning. One might suggest he’s allergic to the grip-and-grin of retail politics. He abhors raising money, so much so that he is proposing a law that, among other things, gives him an excuse not to spend all day dialing for dollars. Running for the U.S. Senate, he’s been much less visible on the campaign trail than the ubiquitous Carlos Lopez-Cantera or as aggressive as Carlos Beruff. He doesn’t excite the conservative establishment like U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis and he does not have the personal story or resources of Todd Wilcox. Yet he’s still the slight frontrunner. Why? Because if Central Casting were to send over what a member of the U.S. Senate was supposed to look and act like, they’d send over someone who looked and acted like Jolly.

3. Doesn’t Jack Latvala have better things to do than screw with Charlie Crist?

Jack Latvala likes Charlie Crist about as much as David Jolly likes fundraising.

A few years back, Latvala told me he was going to do everything in his power to keep Crist from winning the Governor’s Mansion in 2014 and, although Latvala did not have much impact on the race, Crist still lost. (It should be pointed out just how poorly Latvala slurping Gov. Scott paid off for the senator; in 2015, Scott specifically vetoed most of Latvala’s legislative appropriations. Would a Governor Crist have done that?) Latvala even showed up at a stop on Crist’s book tour to troll his former colleague. That’s how much Latvala despises Crist. It goes back to when they both served in the Senate and pretty boy Charlie got all the headlines while the wonkish Latvala had not yet become a media darling.

Fast forward to 2016 and Latvala is in a stronger position than Crist — and he’s not afraid of reminding Crist of that. So Latvala is rounding up his gang — Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, Rep. Kathleen Peters, etc. — and hosting a fundraiser for Jolly, who Latvala worked overtime to stop from winning the 2015 special election to succeed Bill Young.

It’s amazing that Latvala — the incoming chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, printing company owner, newlywed among other titles — has the time to screw with Crist, but I guess he never sleeps.

Latvala’s last-minute push to get Jolly to run against Crist foreshadows what life in Pinellas politics may be like once the senior senator from Pinellas is term-limited out of office in 2018. Latvala’s gonna have his fingers in everyone else’s pie, whether they like it or not.

4. The Republicans opposing Crist are the same ones who lost backing Bill Foster over Rick Kriseman in 2013

A last-minute push by local Republicans to stop a popular Democrat. If the storyline sounds familiar, it should because it’s the same scenario that played out in 2013 when Latvala, Rick Baker and Co. reluctantly, then all at once backed Foster over Kriseman in St. Petersburg’s mayoral race. Many of these folks are my friends and clients, so I can’t dog them too much, but if they have a fault, it’s that they wait until the last minute to prepare for a storm that has been on the radar for some time.

Kriseman and Kathleen Ford were identified threats for months before they were mayoral candidates, yet there was no effort to pre-emptively define them. Then, once the polls showed them up, the local Republicans half-heartedly attempted to rally around Foster. But by then it was too late.

Polls show Crist as popular as ice cream in CD 13 — and so what are local Republicans doing? A last-minute rallying around one of their own, when their best opportunity to stop Crist was six months ago.

5. Crist will narrowly defeat Jolly 

There are very few subject areas about which I consider myself an expert. G.I. Joe comic books. Truffle oil. Late-Republic Roman history. And St. Petersburg and Pinellas politics.

Just like I know the origins of Cobra Commander, how delicious Fabrique Delicies’ white truffle oil is, and that Lucius Cornelis Sulla (not Caesar) was the first Roman general to march troops on the Eternal City, so too can I say with near certainty that my friend Charlie Crist will beat my friend David Jolly. Because it’s a presidential year. And because the Republicans have nominated Donald Trump as their standard bearer.

Latvala is right when he says, “There are people that don’t normally vote — people in places like Lealman, places like Pinellas Park, that are whipped up by Donald Trump, and those are people who will vote for David Jolly over Charlie Crist.”

But want to know who will be “whipped up” to vote in the presidential election? Every Democrat who lives in Democratic-leaning CD 13, especially the tens of thousands of African American voters who are downright frightened by the Trump movement.

In 2015, Jolly narrowly defeated Alex Sink in a district more favorable to Republicans. Crist may have more baggage than Sink, but he also has considerably deeper roots in the community than Sink had.

As for money, there is this fantasy that national Republicans will pour money into this race like they did in 2015 because of how much they don’t like Crist. Much of that money came from the National Republican Congressional Committee — the same NRCC Jolly just went on “60 Minutes” to insult.

There will be those who will say my family is too close to Crist to be objective about this race. That could not be further from the truth. In 2014, there was no more consistent critic of Crist’s campaign tactics, so much so that I was all but ex-communicated from Cristworld for long stretches. And while we have raised a considerable amount for Crist’s congressional campaign, my family has also donated $2,000 to Jolly’s U.S. Senate campaign.

But that’s the kind of year it is in Florida politics. One friend runs against another. And that’s why, especially in Pinellas politics, it’s important to remember that candidates come and go, but true friends remain that way.

Carlos Beruff files paperwork for U.S. Senate race

Carlos Beruff made it official.

On Wednesday, the Manatee County Republican’s campaign filed the paperwork to run for U.S. Senate. Beruff was not on hand in Tallahassee, but said in a statement that he is grateful for the support his campaign has received.

“Since launching my campaign, I’ve traveled to all 67 Florida counties. I’ve met with voters, local law enforcement and community leaders to hear their concerns and share my plan to bring business experience and real public service back to D.C.,” he said in a statement. “I feel stronger than ever about our campaign knowing the people of Florida are fed up with the status quo and tired of sending career politicians to represent them.”

Beruff is one of five Republicans vying to replace Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate. He’ll face Ron DeSantis, David Jolly, Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Todd Wilcox in the Aug. 30 Republican primary.

Monday marked the first day of the pre-qualifying period. In Florida, candidates are allowed to submit their papers during a 14-day period ahead of the official start of the qualifying period. The official qualifying period for candidates runs from noon on June 20 until noon on June 24.

Beruff may be the first Republican to file his paperwork, but he isn’t the only U.S. Senate hopeful to do it this week.

On Monday, Democrat Patrick Murphy filed the necessary paperwork to formally enter the race. Murphy will face Alan Grayson and Pam Keith in the Aug. 30 Democratic primary.

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