Dana Young Archives - Page 4 of 43 - Florida Politics

Wilton Simpson puts another $500K into GOP Senate campaign arm

Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson gave his colleagues a helping hand last month by sending another $500,000 to the main committee supporting Republican state Senate campaigns.

Simpson, who is in line to become Senate President if Republicans maintain their majority in the chamber through the 2020 elections, sent that money to the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee from his Jobs for Florida political committee.

The Trilby Senator has now pumped nearly $1.4 million into the FRSCC since he opened his political committee, including $835,000 in contributions during the current election cycle.

While Simpson is known as a prolific fundraiser — he’s raised $1.5 million through his committee this year — the funds transfer is more significant as a window into FRSCC’s finances.

There’s no reason to believe FRSCC has seen a drop off in fundraising.

Incoming Senate President Bill Galvano has been in charge raising money for the committee since last year, and through March 31 he had helped reel in $7 million for the committee, including a record-breaking haul in the third quarter of 2017.

But unlike candidates for office, who saw their schedule of finance reporting deadlines ratchet up after qualifying period for state races ended on June 22, party affiliated committees such as the FRSCC won’t file their next reports until Aug. 24. That leaves a months long gap in finances heading into an election that could shake up the balance of power in the Florida Senate.

Piecing together expenditure data from other political committees shows FRSCC has raised at least $1.5 million since April 1. Simpson’s contributions are by far the largest based on available data, however there are a handful of other donors who have hit the six-figure mark over the last three months.

Those include The Florida Chamber of Commerce, which has given $195,000 between its Florida Jobs and Florida Chamber of Commerce Alliance committees; Floridians for a Stronger Democracy, a political committee tied to the Associated Industries of Florida, which has given $190,000; the Florida Medical Association PAC has sent over $150,000; and Fleming Island Sen. Rob Bradley has chipped in $100,000 through his Working for Florida’s Families committee.

How much FRSCC has spent is even murkier. Republican Senate candidates have reported receiving $191,261 worth of “in-kind” support from the group since the start of April, including $85,000 apiece to the campaigns of Gainesville Sen. Keith Perry and Tampa Sen. Dana Young, who are the two most vulnerable Senate Republicans up for re-election in 2018.

janet cruz

Janet Cruz raises $61K, refunds $10K in June

House Minority Leader Janet Cruz brought in about $61,000 between her campaign and committee accounts during the first three weeks of June but had to refund nearly $10,000 in contributions she received before jumping into the Senate District 18 race.

Cruz raised just over $31,000 for her campaign account and another $30,000 for her political committee, Building the Bay PC, during the reporting period ending June 22. Those contributions were offset by about $2,500 in spending and a further $9,300 in refunded contributions.

Before Cruz filed for SD 18 in mid-April, she was a candidate for the District 1 seat on the Hillsborough County Commission. She raised nearly $66,000 for the campaign before quitting and moving about $63,000 in unspent funds to her Senate campaign.

Those refunds are due to a state campaign finance law that requires candidates to offer prorated refunds to their donors if they switch from one race to another. Since filing for SD 18, 13 donors have asked Cruz for their money back, a dozen of them in June.

Donors receiving a refund include AT&T Florida, Dean Cannon, Capital Insight, the Palm Beach Kennel Club, Pressman & Associates, Southern Strategy Group, and SSG lobbyists Seth McKeel and Laura Boehmer, many of whom have donated to Republican Sen. Dana Young, the incumbent Cruz is looking to unseat in the fall.

Cruz had raised $416,000 as of June 22, with just over $390,000 in the bank. Young, who has been raising money for her re-election bid since December 2016, has $1.28 million on hand between her campaign and political committee, Friends of Dana Young. She raised about $88,000 between June 1 and June 22.

A fresh poll shows Cruz and Young in a tight race, with Cruz holding a 44-43 percent advantage. That falls well within the poll’s margin of error.

Cruz and Young are the only two candidates in the race. The election is Nov. 6.

Dana Young

Florida Retailers back Dana Young for SD 18

On Monday, the Florida Retail Federation endorsed Republican Sen. Dana Young for a second term in Tampa-based Senate District 18.

“Senator Young has supported and sponsored legislation that has helped to modernize the retail industry in Florida,” said FRF President/CEO R. Scott Shalley. “We’re proud to support her campaign and look forward to working with her on additional ways to help Sunshine State retailers in her return to the Senate.”

The retail trade group also said Young “has worked tirelessly to pass legislation aimed at creating an exceptional business climate and a world-class quality of life for Floridians.”

This year, Young’s seat is a major target for Florida Democrats, who have recruited exiting House Minority Leader Janet Cruz to run against her. Neither Young nor Cruz faces a primary challenger in the 2018 race.

Of the half-dozen Senate districts Democrats are targeting this year, SD 18 is the only one to have voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

Young was elected to the Senate in 2016 after taking 48 percent of the vote compared to 41 percent for 2016 Democratic nominee and one-time 2018 candidate Bob Buesing. The remaining ballots were split between businessman Joe Redner and no-party candidate Sheldon Upthegrove.

A fresh poll shows Cruz and Young in a tight race, with Cruz holding a 44-43 percent advantage. That falls well within the poll’s margin of error.

Through June 22, Young led the money race with nearly $1.3 million on hand between her campaign and political committee, Friends of Dana Young. Through the same date, Cruz had about $390,000 on hand between her campaign and political committee, Building The Bay PC.

The election is Nov. 6.

Fresh polling: Jeff Brandes, Janet Cruz lead in battleground state Senate seats; Ed Hooper, Amanda Murphy deadlocked.

Poll numbers in two battleground state Senate seats have shifted significantly since last month, while a third race remains essentially deadlocked.

In SD 16, the seat previously held by Jack Latvala, Republican Ed Hooper and Democrat Amanda Murphy remain deadlocked, with Hooper at 45 percent and Murphy at 43 percent. The good news here for the GOP is that this race has shifted ever so slightly to Hooper.

At last check-in, Murphy led by less than a point. Murphy’s May lead and Hooper’s late June one fall well within St. Pete Polls’ margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Like the previous poll, one in eight voters in the northern Pinellas and southwest Pasco district remains undecided. The shift over the past month came from Republican and Democratic voters coalescing around their party’s candidate — Hooper received 72 percent support from Republicans and 15 percent support from Democrats; Murphy received 74 percent support from Democrats and 15 percent support from Republicans.

Unaffiliated and third-party voters, who make up 30 percent of the SD 16 electorate, went plus-7 for Murphy with 14 percent undecided. White voters also favored Hooper, 47-42 percent, while Murphy carried minority voters by a substantial margin, though non-white, non-Hispanic voters only make up about 15 percent of the SD 16 electorate according to the district’s demographic profile.

Hooper holds a 5-point lead among men, while he and Murphy are tied among women. Voters aged 18 to 29 prefer Murphy by 4 points; the 30 to 49 years old bracket went for Hooper by 8 points; those aged 50 to 69 swung back toward Murphy, 45-43 percent; and voters over 70 went plus-6 for Hooper.

In SD 18, incumbent Republican Dana Young now trails Democrat Janet Cruz by a point after entering the candidate qualifying period with a nine-point lead. Of significance, since we last polled, Cruz clarified how her name will appear on the ballot, dropping her second last name, “Rifkin.”

The bounce back was expected for Cruz, who pulled just 62 percent support from Democratic voters in the May poll. The new results show an 8-point bump from her base, while Young saw her support among likely GOP voters dip from 75 percent to 72 percent.

Voters who are not a member of one of the major parties supported Cruz by a hefty 15-point margin. A month ago, those same voters gave Young a slim advantage. The poll also shows Young with a 2-point advantage among men, while Cruz holds a 3-point lead among women.

White voters still preferred Young, though the 46-43 percent split is a massive improvement for Cruz, who trailed by 15 points in the May poll. Cruz holds a near 50-point advantage among black voters, though she trails by 10 points among Hispanic voters, who make up 30 percent of SD 18’s electorate.

Cruz leads among younger voters 49-41 percent; Gen Xers favor Young 46-42 percent; the 50- to 69-year-old bracket went plus-4 for Cruz, 46-42 percent; and those 70 and up slightly favor Young, 43-41 percent.

Over in SD 24, incumbent Republican Jeff Brandes is still ahead of trial lawyer Carrie Pilon46 percent to 41 percent, which is down from the nine-point lead he held at the end of May, but still outside the margin of error.

Much like the poll SD 18, much of the change came from Pilon’s increased support among Democratic voters. She pulls 69 percent support from Democrats in the new poll, compared to 65 percent a month ago. Brandes, like Young, also saw a slight dip in GOP support.

The St. Pete Republican leads by 6 points among white voters, down from 12 points last month. He also saw his leads slip in three age groups, most notably among voters under 30, who prefer him 46-42 compared to the 59-26 margin he enjoyed in the previous poll. Voters aged 50 to 69 flipped from plus-2 Brandes to plus-3 Pilon, while older voters went from plus-22 Brandes to plus-6 Brandes.

His lead among 30- to 49-year-old voters, however, expanded to 52-35.

All three robopolls were conducted over this past weekend and only include responses from those voters who said they intend to vote in the November elections.

The races for Senate Districts 16, 18, and 24 will likely decide the course, if not control, of the Florida Senate as the Democrats have identified the three seats as a package of five to six they are targeting in the 2018 election cycle, the others being Gainesville-based SD 8, Lakeland-based SD 22 and Miami-Dade-based SD 36.

Republicans currently hold a 23-16 advantage in the Florida Senate, with SD 16 currently vacant.

Florida Democrats say ‘no GOP seat is safe’ in 2018

A record number Democratic candidates qualified for state races this week, and the Florida Democratic Party said now it’s time to prepare for the “Blue Wave.”

“From the Gubernatorial race, to State House and Senate, to county commissioners and mayors, we have the most qualified, committed, and exciting group of candidates we have ever seen,” said FDP Chair Terrie Rizzo.

“We have a record number of people who have stepped up to run, and what this shows us is that no GOP seat is safe. After nearly 20-years of all-Republican rule, Floridians are fed-up with economic policies that don’t benefit working families, they are tired of their children’s education being shortchanged, and they are tired of leaders who have failed to take action on everything from gun violence prevention to climate change.”

Rizzo also touted a record-breaking 82 Democratic women making the ballot for state legislative races.

“Women will be the difference in 2018, I do truly believe that. They are instrumental to the success of the Democratic Party, and they feel more empowered than ever to take their future into their own hands by running for office,” she said.

It’s too early to tell whether Democrats can crack the GOP’s hold on state government by flipping the Governor’s Mansion, or possibly even the state Senate, but now that the title cards are set it’s clear heretofore underdogs’ strategy is more reminiscent of Rocky than Glass Joe.

Republicans currently hold a 23-16 advantage in Florida Senate, with one vacancy. Democrats plan to take the chamber back has been clear for months — flip Tampa Bay and field fresh, credible challengers in Gainesville-based SD 8, Lakeland-based SD 22 and Miami-Dade-based SD 36. Win five, win the Senate.

On the Tampa Bay front, Democrats have recruited House Minority Leader Janet Cruz to challenge Republican Sen. Dana Young in SD 18; former Democratic Rep. Amanda Murphy to take on former Republican Rep. Ed Hooper in SD 16, and trial attorney Carrie Pilon to challenge St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes in SD 24. None of those races will be easy, but the 2018 crop of candidates is certainly more competitive than in 2016.

In SD 8, the party likes its odds with Kayser Enneking, and she’s done her part by pulling in a respectable amount of cash for her campaign. Incumbent Republican Sen. Keith Perry still leads her in fundraising, but not by near the margin found in the Tampa races.

The fundraising gap and Republican lean is more significant in SD 22, where former circuit court judge Bob Doyel is challenging Lakeland Republican Sen. Kelli Stargel. He’s a much more formidable opponent however than the 2016 Democratic nominee, Debra Wright, who to her credit still came within 7 points despite being outspent 20-to-1.

Time will tell on David Perez’ bid against Republican Rep. Manny Diaz in SD 36. Diaz is a popular and very well-funded, and Perez has only been in the race for a couple of weeks.

While the Senate roadmap is known, Florida Democrats have been less direct about their overall strategy to chip away at the GOP’s sizable majority in the House.

Republicans currently have a stranglehold on the chamber, which is split 76-41 with three vacancies. Two of those empty seats are Republican locks, and the third was a gimme for Democrats — congrats to Boynton Beach Democrat Joseph Casello, who was elected to HD 90 without opposition Friday.

At 42 seats, the party is still a dozen from the number that went for Hillary Clinton in 2016, and in 2018 the strategy in the lower chamber reflects a familiar adage: “You must be present to win.”

To that end, Democrats are fielding a candidate in over 100 districts, a marked increase from the 63 Democrats who took a shot in 2016. And it’s not all quantity over quality — a cursory glance the 95 House races that weren’t decided Friday jogs the memory on some of the strong candidates running under the Democratic Party banner.

In Orlando’s HD 47, Anna Eskamani has strong odds to flip the seat vacated by Republican Rep. Mike Miller. In Broward-based HD 93, Emma Collum has a genuine chance to succeed term-limited Republican Rep. George Moraitis. And in perennial target HD 63, Fentrice Driskell is raising cash and landing endorsements as she aims to unseat Tampa Republican Rep. Shawn Harrison.

Even in some districts previously thought of as moonshots, some real-deal candidates have shown up and gotten to work. In Sarasota’s HD 74, for instance, Tony Mowry is confident he can hand James Buchanan his second defeat of the year in a traditionally Republican seat. Tracye Polson is matching her GOP opponents in fundraising in her bid to flip HD 15, the seat vacated by Jacksonville Republican Rep. Jay Fant.

janet cruz

Florida AFL-CIO backs Janet Cruz for SD 18

Representing more than 500 labor unions and 1 million Florida workers, the Florida AFL-CIO announced Thursday it’s backing House Minority Leader Janet Cruz in her bid to unseat incumbent Republican Dana Young in Senate District 18.

“We need a fighter for workers in Tallahassee — to lower health care costs, raise wages, and make sure the hardworking people of Florida are respected, safe, and prospering,” said Florida AFL-CIO President Mike Williams. “Leader Cruz is our champion because she’s lived it — having been a single working mom trying to keep the lights on, food on the table, and to get ahead for herself and her children.”

The nod comes a few weeks after the Florida Education Association, the state’s largest teacher union, endorsed Cruz in the battleground race for the Tampa-based seat.

“I’m honored to stand with the working people of the Florida AFL-CIO,” Cruz said. “I will fight every day to make sure workers have a voice in Tallahassee — a voice that speaks louder than special interests making health care less affordable, our schools less safe and less funded, and wages less than they should be. Together, we are going to flip this seat and put workers first.”

Cruz and Young are currently the only candidates running for SD 18. Florida Democrats see the contest, as well as the races for SD 8, SD 16 and SD 24, as key to their chances of forcing a tie in the state Senate. Republicans currently hold a seven-seat advantage in the chamber, with one vacancy.

SD 18 is the only one of those four Senate battlegrounds that voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. Young was first elected to the seat in 2016 with about 48 percent of the vote.

Cruz has been a member of the Florida House since 2010. After initially filing for a Hillsborough County Commission seat, she announced in mid-April that she would challenge Young in fall. Shortly after that announcement, 2016 Democratic nominee Bob Buesing exited the race to clear the way for Cruz in the primary.

Through the end of May, Young had a massive lead in the fundraising race with more than $1.2 million in the bank compared to Cruz’ on hand tally of about $341,000.

Todd Marks

Todd Marks moves Hillsborough Commission campaign to countywide District 7

Tampa attorney Todd Marks announced Tuesday that he’s entering the race for the District 7 seat on the Hillsborough County Commission, to replace retiring Commissioner Al Higginbotham.

“I look forward to sharing my vision of a leaner county government that keeps taxes low and stays out-of-the-way of small business and land owners and holds the bureaucrats accountable,” Marks said. “I am the only consistent conservative candidate with the background and experience required to make tough decisions when it comes to growth, transportation and public safety.”

Marks, who runs Westchase Law and Westchase Title, was previously a candidate for the District 1 seat currently held by Commissioner Sandy Murman. Murman had planned to run for countywide District 7 seat this year but opted to serve out the remainder of her term in District 1.

Included in Marks’ announcement were endorsements from several Republican elected officials in the Tampa area, including Murman, state Sen. Dana Young and state Reps. Jackie Toledo and Lawrence McClure. Also among the 17 endorsements announced Tuesday were former Jeb Bush and Dick Cheney Chief of Staff Kathleen Shanahan and former Tampa Chamber President Mike Griffin.

“I have known Todd Marks for many years and am excited that he has chosen to run for the Hillsborough County Commission, District 7 seat. As a successful businessman, he will add an important voice for economic development and pro-business policies to our County Commission. In addition, Todd Marks shares my commitment to the environment. We can always count on Todd to protect our water, our children and our quality of life. I ask all Republicans to join me in supporting Todd Marks,” Young said.

Marks joins seven other candidates in the District 7 race including fellow Republican Aakash Patel, who was his chief primary rival when both were candidates for the District 1 seat.

Of the other six candidates in the race, only Democrat Kimberly Overman has posted any substantial fundraising numbers. She has raised nearly $35,000 and has about $13,000 in the bank.

When Patel and Marks bring over the funds from the scrubbed District 1 campaign they are set to take the No. 1 and No. 2 spots in fundraising, respectively. Patel had raised $450,000 as of May 31, while Marks had raised nearly $85,000.

#17 on list of Tampa Bay’s Most Powerful Politicians — Dana Young

Ranking for Tampa’s Republican state Senator on this list somewhat hinges on a key decision: whether or not Dana Young plans on running for Senate President for 2022-24.

Citing time constraints stemming from more immediate commitments (i.e., the 2018 Legislative Session), she dropped that bid earlier this year.

Young did, however, manage to get a good number of bills heard in 2018, including, perhaps surprisingly for a Republican, a fracking ban. Though it died in committee, as did another bill she sponsored that would have dedicated money for innovative transit projects in Tampa Bay, Young’s backing of such bills helped solidify her reputation as a lawmaker who’s unafraid to reach across the aisle. Her bill holding telemarketers accountable for ignoring do-not-call lists unanimously passed the House and Senate. So did her bill requiring doctors and midwives to report all “adverse” incidents relating to out-of-hospital births to the state. That bill passed unanimously in both chambers.

“Dana Young is hands down one of the most effective and hardest working members of the legislature,” said Southern Strategy Group’s Sydney Ridley. “She is a master at building coalitions and getting things done for her community.”

On the flip side, she co-introduced a controversial bill that brought USF’s St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee campus under control of the USF system’s main campus in Tampa, a piece of legislation that left the Democratic wing of Tampa Bay’s Legislative Delegation more than a little peeved.

Young won her seat over her opponent, Democrat Bob Buesing, by about seven points in 2016 after serving three terms in the House. At the time, Senate District 18 was a freshly drawn swing district. She won it rather easily then, in part because Joe Redner took about 9 percent of the vote in his nonparty bid for the seat. Young could have a tough time this year, given the possible blue wave and a formidable challenge in House Minority Leader Janet Cruz-Rifkin, who has shown some fundraising prowess (Buesing had initially challenged Young for a second time, but dropped his bid when Cruz jumped in). A boon for Young, though, is that she’s a particularly astute fundraiser. Young’s campaign has taken in nearly $426,000 as of late May. Her PAC, Friends of Dana Young, has meanwhile amassed a total north of $2.3 million.

Jack Latvala’s unexpected departure from the Senate due to allegations of sexual misconduct left a huge representation void for Tampa Bay in the state Legislature. Young might not have managed to completely fill it — Latvala was appropriations chair, after all. But Young in many ways embodies the largely moderate spirit of Tampa Bay politics. The big question is whether the war chest she’s amassed will be enough to convince voters, come November, that she’s a far cry from Donald Trump.

“Her strong position on protecting our environment shows true strength and dedication to important Florida issues others often overlook,” says Tampa businessman Akash Patel, a Republican candidate for Hillsborough County Commission District 7.

She came in No. 12 in 2017.

Joe Henderson‘s take: “Facing her toughest election fight yet, but she has lots of money and endorsements.”

For a complete explanation of how this list was created and who made up the panel that amassed it, please read here.

Janet Cruz and Dana Young, SD 18

Dana Young more than doubles Janet Cruz in May fundraising

House Minority Leader Janet Cruz boasted a $78,975 haul in her second set of fundraising reports since entering the Senate District 18 race but was again overshadowed by Republican Sen. Dana Young, whose reports show $203,550 raised.

“I’m so energized by the outpouring of support and investment in the most flippable seat in the state. We are going to win this so we can pay teachers what they deserve, invest in our schools, expand access to healthcare, and stand up to the gun lobby in Tallahassee,” Cruz said Monday.

Her tally included $48,000 raised via her committee, Building the Bay PC, and $30,975 raised for campaign account. She has now raised $364,670 between the two accounts, including committee funds she raised before filing for SD 18 April 10.

Cruz’s fundraising reports are not yet viewable on the Florida Division of Elections website, though the campaign press release said the two accounts had a combined $341,113 at the ready heading into June.

Young’s haul included $179,500 in fundraising for her affiliated committee, Friends of Dana Young, and another in hard money fundraising 24,050.

OD-EYEPAC sat atop the committee report with a $25,000 contribution. Following at the $15,000 level was Comcast Corporation, Realtors Political Advocacy Committee, Eli Global CEO Greg Lindberg, the Florida Medical Association, Disney Worldwide Services and Floridians for a Stronger Democracy, a political committee linked to the Associated Industries of Florida.

The campaign report included nearly two dozen checks for $1,000, the maximum allowable contribution for state legislative races. It also showed more than $50,000 worth of “in-kind” contributions from the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, most of it paying for campaign staff.

After $82,720 in combined spending, Young had $933,000 on hand in her committee account and another $288,000 banked for the campaign, giving her well over triple the cash on hand of Cruz.

Neither Young nor Cruz faces a primary challenger in the race. The election is Nov. 6.

Hillsborough School Board member Susan Valdes considers run for HD 62

Hillsborough County School Board member Susan Valdes is laying the groundwork to run for the House District 62 seat.

Patrick Manteiga of La Gaceta is reporting that Valdes resigned her seat Friday, to take effect November 6, the day of the general election.

“It’s our understanding that her school board seat will be open for qualifying with all the races for the 2018 election cycle from noon on June 18 through noon on June 22,” Manteiga writes. The primary is August 28.

House Minority Leader Janet Cruz currently holds HD 62, which encompasses the entirety of Valdes’ school board district. Cruz is vacating the seat to campaign for Tampa Republican Dana Young’s Senate District 18.

Valdes, a Democrat, told Manteiga that she already received the endorsement of Cruz and Hillsborough Property Appraiser Bob Henriquez, who previously held the HD 62 seat.

Valdes won re-election to the board in 2016 and “should be considered the favorite” in the HD 62 race, Manteiga adds.

According to the Florida Division of Elections, already filed in the race are Democrats Michael Alvarez, Alicia Campos and Christopher Cano as well as no party affiliated Jason Stuber. Alvarez leads in fundraising with about $17,000, followed by Campos with about $2,700. Both Cano and Stuber have shown no fundraising activity.

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