Dana Young Archives - Page 4 of 46 - Florida Politics

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

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

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

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

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

SD 18 sits atop the Florida Democratic Party’s wish list this fall. Other than South Florida’s SD 36, where David Perez won the Democratic primary to challenge Republican Rep. Manny Diaz on Tuesday night, SD 18 is the only district Democrats are after that voted for Hillary Clinton two years ago.

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

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

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

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

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

Young Fundraiser 10.2.2018

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Is this not my beautiful house? Questions linger on Janet Cruz residency

Critics of state Rep. Janet Cruz are accusing the longtime lawmaker of not living in the urban Tampa district she represents.

An anonymous tipster claiming not to oppose Cruz’s bid for state Senate raised the question in an email pointing to Cruz’s husband, Stephen Rifkin, who owns a waterfront mansion in a different House district — one currently held by Jackie Toledo.

Cruz, the outgoing House Democratic Leader, is running against Republican Sen. Dana Young in Senate District 18, which encompasses both of Cruz’s properties and her husband’s.

An analysis of property records, as well as Cruz’s marriage records and past comments to the media, gives credence to suspicions about where she lays her head at night.

Records show Cruz owns two homes, both in Toledo’s South Tampa HD 60. One is located at 4114 W. Empedrado St., the other at 4428 W. Wisconsin Ave. Cruz’s husband owns another home in HD 60, at 5035 W. San Miguel St.

Cruz and Rifkin were married in 2003.

Despite her husband owning a luxury waterfront home, Cruz lists her address as 4816 N. Fremont Ave in Tampa, within the boundaries of HD 62, which she currently represents.

As proof she lives at that address, Cruz’s campaign provided several documents.

The lawmaker’s Florida driver’s license lists the Fremont address as her home and several bills including a Tampa utility bill, Dillard’s credit card, Home Depot credit card and an insurance statement from Five Brothers Insurance Agency. Cruz is also registered to vote at the Fremont address.

Cruz’s campaign also provided bank statements showing she pays $1,150 in monthly rent at the Fremont home.

“Rep. Cruz resides in the district at the address … where she has been a staunch fighter for Hillsborough’s public schools, a leader in promoting real job opportunities through her annual Job Fair and a strong advocate for her constituents,” said Cruz campaign manager Tim Wagner.

“There is no question that the latest false attacks on Cruz are being fueled by Young and her campaign given the recent revelations reporting (that) Senator Dana Young has profited from her legislative actions and votes.”

Cruz recently accused Young of profiting from her votes on the craft beer industry noting her husband has financial interests in that business, claims Young denies.

While the documentation provided by Cruz’s campaign is more than enough documentation to establish residency, other records raise questions.

Property records for Cruz’s Empedrado Street property list her mailing address as her husband’s home on San Miguel and a car registration for a 2016 BMW 328 also lists the San Miguel residence as her mailing address.

“This is just further example of the dishonesty of Janet Cruz,” Young campaign spokeswoman Sarah Bascom said. “If she has been knowingly not living in her House district, how she can expect her community to send her to the Senate?”

This isn’t the first time Cruz has landed in hot water related to real estate. Earlier this year, she repaid $32,000 (plus fees and penalties) to the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser for claiming two homestead tax exemptions.

Last week, during a Tiger Bay Club of Tampa event with Young, Cruz called it “an oversight” that was corrected as soon as it was brought to her attention. She said the attacks amounted to little more than dirty politics aimed at drawing attention away from her track record in the House.

“Dana should spend less time attacking Janet Cruz and more time explaining to parents why their children are forced to sit in hot classrooms without (air conditioning), due to her continued votes to slash public school funding,” Wagner said. “These false attacks on Janet Cruz are nothing but another attempt by Dana Young to hide from her atrocious voting record.”

Cruz’s battle with Young is considered one of the most significant in the nation, as Democrats look to seize on a so-called “blue wave” unseating conservatives in state and federal races. 

During last week’s Tiger Bay appearance, both candidates fiercely debated each other’s records — Cruz blasting Young for being pro-gun and anti-education.

Young fired back, saying it was Cruz who failed to protect student safety by voting against the now-enacted school safety bill increasing money for school security and raising the age people could purchase certain firearms from 18 to 21. Cruz voted against the bill because it did not include a ban on assault weapons, she said, a priority for many Democrats.

Latest polling puts three points ahead of Cruz, falling well within the margin of error.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

incorrect party poll

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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In Tampa, Dana Young crushing Janet Cruz in money race

Incumbent Dana Young continues to crush challenger Janet Cruz in fundraising.

Information from the Division of Elections shows Young, the Republican now representing for Tampa’s Senate District 18 has nearly $500,000 cash on hand. Cruz has less than $50,000.

The disparity stems from another huge gap in overall fundraising.

To date, Young has raked in $718,000 from local, state and outside donors. Cruz has raised $279,000.

Cruz came close to Young in fundraising during the latest reporting period, Sept. 1-14. Cruz brought in just under $37,000 while Young raised nearly $43,000.

She’s challenging Young in one of the most contentious and important races in the state.

Susan McManus, a retired political scientist from the University of South Florida and frequent political commentator, called the state Senate race one of the top five most important in the nation.

Young is seeking her second term in the Senate after serving in the House. Cruz is the outgoing House Democratic Leader and is term-limited. 

The two present staunchly different views on gun control, education and the environment.

Cruz voted against the school safety bill that provided additional funding for school security and increased the legal age of firearm purchases from 18 to 21 because the bill did not include a ban on assault weapons. Young voted in favor of the bill. It also included a provision that allows properly trained teachers to carry guns in school.

Cruz is hoping to ride the so-called “blue wave” to unseat Young. While Cruz is underperforming in fundraising efforts, she says her campaign is in full swing on the ground knocking on doors and attending events.

Cruz has been involved with the Andrew Gillum campaign for Governor, attending local events and supporting increased education funding and higher teacher wages.

Last week Cruz spoke at a press conference in front of Plant High School calling attention to the lack of maintenance funds available. That school has issues with mold and has to have clean air pumped into the building through tubes. 

5 takeaways from the Dana Young, Janet Cruz Tiger Bay clash

Florida House Minority Leader Janet Cruz and Senator Dana Young sparred in a heated debate Friday at Tampa Tiger Bay in their battle for the Senate District 18 seat.

This Tampa-area race has become one of the most hotly contested in the nation as Democrats seek to create a “blue wave” and Republicans fight to keep their majorities in state legislatures and Congress.

There’s a lot to watch in the race that pits to veteran lawmakers against one another.

Here are five takeaways from their latest match-up:

Education is one of the top issues

The Tiger Bay Club of Tampa is known for its feisty members who come prepared to ask tough questions. Friday’s forum with Cruz and Young was no different.

In addition to a question from the moderator, retired USF Political Science Professor and political commentator Susan McManus, several Tiger Bay members asked education-related questions ranging from funding for infrastructure improvements to the pros and cons of school choice programs like charter schools and voucher programs.

Cruz bashed her opponent, the incumbent in the District 18 Senate race, for continually supporting funding for charter schools and voucher programs at the cost of traditional public schools.

“[Her priority] has been with privatizing public schools and watching the infrastructure crumble,” Cruz said.  

Young did not refute her track record on charter schools, which are publicly funded but run by private education providers, or voucher programs that give low-income students the opportunity to attend private schools using tax-credit scholarships. Instead, she said she considers “the changing face of education.

“Public education today is very different than when I went to school,” Young said. “But now we have a wide variety of choices where parents can pick what works best [for their child.”

Both candidates think they care about student safety and guns

Young voted in favor of the student safety bill earlier this year that increases the minimum gun purchase age to 21, provides funding for additional school security, bans bump stocks that allow a modified weapon to fire similarly to an automatic weapon and allows school districts to arm teachers if they opt-in. Cruz voted against the bill because it didn’t include a ban on assault weapons.

Young sharply implied that Cruz’s vote against the school safety bill meant she didn’t prioritize student safety.

“We need to figure out why [lawmakers like Janet Cruz] don’t care about children’s lives,” Young said.

“Isn’t that hilarious, Dana,” Cruz fired back in a loud voice that countered Young’s stern, but calmer demeanor. “When she was elected … she was all about campus carry. She was all about open carry.”

Cruz accused Young of being a shill for the National Rifle Association. Young said she did not vote for an amendment that would have included an assault weapon ban in the school safety bill because it would have tanked the entire thing.

Neither candidate is afraid to get dirty

The gloves were off right out of the gate. Young accused Cruz of not caring about childrens’ lives. Cruz basically called her a hypocrite. The two were so shouty at one another, dozens of people were wrestling cell phones from their pockets and pocket bags to get some top-notch footage of one of the hottest races in the nation right now.

Cruz doubled down on her “dammit Dana” slogan she just came up with this week during a press conference on education funding — this time about guns. Young scolded her for being rude.

Cruz later accused Young of avoiding a vote banning assault rifles.

“She ran and hid because she was owned by the NRA.”

In turn, Young fired back that Cruz was a shill for the teacher’s union because “she doesn’t want to lose their funding.”

There are some things on which they agree

Despite the verbal jabs, there were moments of true diplomacy and mutual respect. In a now unusual moment of bipartisanship, both candidates praised Hillsborough County Public Defender Julianne Holt for her work with troubled youth and people with disabilities.

“She recognized early on … you take a kid who’s marginal. His mom is working. Maybe he doesn’t have the support some of us grew up with. She stood up for diversion programs [to keep those kids from going over the cliff,] Cruz said.

Young nodded in agreement and added her own praise for Holt’s work with people in the system with disabilities.

Both seemed on the same page about opening primary elections, agreeing that the demographic of voters without party affiliation is growing and closed primaries effectively disenfranchise those voters.

Don’t get too settled in the touchy-feely moments though. Like Cruz, they were in the minority party.

They might both support the transportation referendum

In a nod to the bipartisan tone transportation tax campaigners are trying to strike, it’s likely both candidates will support the All for Transportation referendum that would increase sales tax 1 percent to raise $280 million a year for both transit and transportation projects.

Cruz offered her support specifically.

Young was not as straightforward saying she would “probably” support it. Young said she needs to study the bill more before making a final decision noting that while transportation needs to be a priority — and needs additional funding — it’s important to carefully consider any tax increase before placing that burden on taxpayers.

Spending spree: Senators send back up to swelling GOP Senate fund

Tampa Republican Sen. Dana Young offloaded more than half of the cash available in her affiliated political committee last week with a single, $800,000 check to the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Her committee, Friends of Dana Young, had $1.38 million in the bank on Sept. 7 but at the end of the reporting period ending Sept. 14 the committee had about $573,000 left to spend.

It’s likely that much of that cash will come back to her via “in-kind” support for her SD 18 re-election campaign from FRSCC, a cash rich party affiliated committee helmed by incoming Senate President Bill Galvano that’s charged with maintaining the Republican majority in the state Senate.

As of Aug. 31, FRSCC had provided nearly $400,000 in assistance to Young’s campaign.

Young’s contribution comes as she faces a tough battle against House Minority leader Janet Cruz to hold her seat, which covers much of Tampa. Polling has indicated it will be a close race. At one point, Cruz held a slim lead, but Young is now back on top by 3 points according to a St. Pete Polls survey conducted this week.

After the transfer, Young had about $1 million left to spend between her campaign and committee accounts. Cruz, meanwhile, has about $165,000 at the ready between her two accounts.

Young’s transfer came alongside another infusion from the political committee of Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson. His committee, Jobs for Florida, chipped in $550,000 last week, bringing the committee’s lifetime contributions to the fund past the $1.9 million mark.

Simpson, who represents SD 10, will also be on the ballot in the fall though he will only face nominal opposition from Spring Hill Democrat Michael Cottrell. Unlike Young’s SD 18, which has a purple electorate, SD 10 voted has voted overwhelmingly for the Republican candidate in nearly every statewide race over the past decade.

Jobs for Florida had $1.57 million on hand on Sept. 14.

Young’s and Simpson’s contributions give a window in the financial health of FRSCC, which has more infrequent reporting deadlines than political committees. FRSCC had nearly $2 million in the bank at the end of the April through August reporting period, with its next report due just a few days before the Nov. 6 general election.

Photo credit: Kim Defalco

‘Dammit Dana’: Janet Cruz blasts opponent Dana Young’s education record

House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz, now challenging GOP state Sen. Dana Young for her Senate District 18 seat, is attacking her opponent’s record on education policy and funding.

“Dammit Dana, stop,” Cruz lamented at a press conference in front of Plant High School in south Tampa on Tuesday.

Cruz was referring to Young’s track record voting in favor of school choice programs like vouchers and charter schools, which critics say funnel funding away from traditional public schools into corporate hands.

Young responded to Cruz’s comments, arguing school choice programs are effective for children, particularly those who may not live near good schools.

Bottom line, no one can really say any more what traditional education is, because that rigid thinking does not help the students,” Young said.

“I support public education. I support school choice. And I will continue to support education funding that helps the child succeed, whatever format that is and (whatever) is best for them.”

Young also said choice programs are making public education better.

“There is only one test given to a sampling of students in every state, and that is the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Fifteen years ago, Florida students were ranked 38th … Now, Florida is ranked fifth. That means the system we have works for the students.”

Cruz, the House District 62 incumbent, spoke with Lt. Governor nominee Chris King at an event touting the Gillum/King ticket’s education platform that would put $1 billion into education by raising corporate tax rates by 2 percent.

Cruz acknowledged implementing Gillum’s plan might be a tough climb in a Republican-majority Legislature, but said a Gillum win creates two wins for Democrats. 

It gives veto power over what many in the party see as damaging education proposals, and it gives Democrats a better shot at having a seat at the table in 2020 when district lines are redrawn.

“Democrats and Republicans in this state are nearly equal,” Cruz said. “Yet Republicans control (a huge) majority of the House.”

Yard signs: Florida Realtors announce November election endorsements

Florida Realtors PAC, the political arm of the state’s largest professional association, issued endorsements in statewide races and a bundle of legislative districts Wednesday.

The group released three waves of endorsements ahead of the Aug. 28 primary election. Now that the title cards are set, their list of preferred candidates received a few adjustments.

Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis has been subbed in for the Florida Realtors’ primary season pick, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, at the top of the ticket. The GOP nominee to replace Putnam, state Rep. Matt Caldwell, has tagged in Sebring Sen. Denise Grimsley.

Sitting CFO Jimmy Patronis, the only incumbent Cabinet member, remains the Realtor-backed pick for the general election, as does Republican Attorney General nominee Ashley Moody, who defeated Pensacola state Rep. Frank White by double digits three weeks ago.

“As Realtors, we pride ourselves on our long-standing efforts to defend private property rights, promote community prosperity and preserve a professional climate that ensures the economic growth of Florida,” said Florida Realtors PAC chair Ann DeFries.

“Our continued success in these efforts involves elected officials who share these beliefs and will work with our 180,000-plus members to help Floridians and their communities thrive.”

Other than the CFO race, where Democratic challenger Jeremy Ring has trailed in both the polls and in fundraising, Florida’s statewide contests are shaping up to be competitive.

DeSantis currently trails Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum by a hair in most polls, while Nikki Fried and Sean Shaw, the Democratic nominees for Ag Commish and Attorney General, scored comfortable wins in the primary and have shown solid fundraising thus far.

Further down the ballot, the Republican nominees in the most competitive state Senate districts — Sen. Keith Perry in SD 8, former state Rep. Ed Hooper in SD 16, Sen. Dana Young in SD 18, Sen. Kelli Stargel in SD 22 and state Rep. Manny Diaz in SD 36 — all retained their endorsements from July.

Perry, Hooper, Young and Stargel each held a lead in over their Democratic challengers in public polls conducted this week by St. Pete Polls.

A full list of endorsed candidates is available on the Florida Realtors PAC website. The general election is Nov. 6.

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Dana Young has 3-point lead over Janet Cruz in SD 18 battleground

The first general election season poll of the Senate District 18 battle brought some good news for incumbent state Sen. Dana Young.

The St. Pete Polls survey shows the Tampa Republican with a 3-point lead, 45-42 percent, over House Minority Leader Janet Cruz. The remaining 13 percent of voters are undecided.

The poll shows an improvement for Young over St. Pete Polls’ prior survey of the race, conducted in July. That measure showed Cruz with a 1-point lead over Young, 44-43 percent, with the same level of undecided voters.

In the three months since that poll, Cruz’ share of her Democratic base has slipped from 70 percent to 64 percent, with about half of those voters now sitting on the fence and the remainder declaring they will support Young in November.

Also of note is a tightening of the race among no- and third-party voters. In July, Cruz held a 15 percentage point lead among independent voters. That lead has been cut in half, as Young’s share among that crowd has increased from 34 percent to 40 percent.

Broken down by race, Young leads Cruz 49-41 percent among white voters, who make up 59 percent of the electorate according to the most recently available demographic information. Hispanic voters, who make up 28 percent of the district, prefer Young 43-41 percent. Cruz holds a 2-to-1 lead among black voters, though that represents a decline from her 67-18 percent lead three months ago.

By age, Cruz leads 49-41 percent among Millennials while Young holds a lead with Gen Xers, Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation, all of whom make up a much larger share of SD 18’s electorate.

The St. Pete Polls survey was conducted on Sept. 16 by an automated phone call polling system. It received responses from 988 registered voters who indicated they planned to vote in the general election. Registered Democrats and registered Republicans each made up 38 percent of the sample. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.

SD 18 is one of the Florida Democratic Party’s top targets for a flip in the fall and, as evidenced by the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee’s recent spending on an attack ad targeting Cruz, the state GOP is aggressively defending the swing seat.

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

The 2018 ballot will not be as crowded, with Cruz and Young being the only names printed on the ballot. Neither candidate faced a challenger in the August primary elections, leaving both candidates with substantial war chests for the general.

Young, however, has a near-threefold fundraising lead and shows no sign of slowing down.

At the end of August, Young had about $460,000 in hard money with another $1.38 million banked in her affiliated political committee, Friends of Dana Young. Cruz, meanwhile, has raised $680,000 between her campaign account and political committee, Building The Bay PC, but has spent nearly $450,000 of that cash in recent weeks, most of it on advertising, leaving her with just $15,000 in hard money and $150,000 in committee cash at the end of August.

Election Day is Nov. 6.

Dana Young vs. Janet Cruz race contentious now with more to come

Everyone knew Florida’s Senate District 18 battle between Democrat Janet Cruz and Republican incumbent Dana Young would be contentious. Both women are strong, smart, battle-tested, and play to win – just what we want from candidates.

There is no middle ground here. Voters have a clear choice, and that’s always good.

Democrats targeted the Hillsborough County district as a must-win if they want to take control of the Senate, and Republicans responded accordingly in what will be one of the most-watched races in the state.

So, here’s what we have so far: The Young camp said Cruz was “caught red-handed” cheating on unpaid property taxes, while the Cruz camp basically said Young hates public school children and teachers.

My guess is they’re just getting started.

Young was already scorched by Democrats for being absent from the Senate floor last spring for three votes on three amendments related to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre – including requiring armed security officers in every school.

Young later recorded her vote later in favor of the proposals. She explained that she had to step away from the floor during the eight-hour special Saturday session for quick meetings. She called it a non-issue.

I’m sure it won’t look that way if, or when, the ads roll out.

Cruz, the House Minority Leader, also released a Facebook video, then doubled down with a mailer, that slammed Young over the issue of air-conditioning breakdowns and lead problems in Hillsborough County public schools.

Republicans have been blamed for slashing the public budget in favor of funding charter schools and, well, Young did vote in favor of those budgets that cut $1.3 billion from state public schools – a charge PolitiFact rated “mostly true” in 2013.

Republicans say the money has since been more than restored, but Democrats say the original cuts put public schools in a hole they have been unable to escape.

In the video shot in front of Tampa’s Plant High School, Cruz points to the building where repairs are being made on the cooling units and shouts: “Dammit Dana, tell the truth. Stop telling lies.”

Young’s camp isn’t backing down.

The attack ad over Cruz’s tax issue has played relentlessly on local television. Cruz had unpaid property taxes from 2004 through 2008 for a home she owned in Tampa.

It misrepresents what really happened, of course, but isn’t that true of most attack ads, if not all of them?

Cruz has explained she self-reported a mix-up after she got married to a man who owned his own home and had a homestead exemption. Cruz had one as well on a house she owned.

Florida law allows only one. She paid a $32,000 penalty – or, as the ad says, “was caught red-handed.”

And then, the ad says ominously, she voted against a controversial increase in the homestead exemption because Democrats argued it would strip local municipalities of desperately needed cash. Or, as the ad says, after “cheating” on her taxes, “she voted to up yours.”

Interesting choice of those last two words in the previous paragraph.

Cruz said that Young’s step-out, combined with the massive march in Tallahassee by students and others demanding tighter gun laws, was what pushed her into the race.

That works both ways, of course. Young has an A-plus rating from the NRA, an organization that has been known for rallying support for candidates it likes.

That’s another way of saying people should stay tuned to what’s happening in SD-18.

They’re just getting started.

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