democrats – Page 5 – Florida Politics

Carlos Smith endorses Andrew Gillum in Governor’s race

Orlando Democratic state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, chairman of the Florida Legislative Progressive Caucus and the lion of the state’s progressive Democrats, has thrown his support behind Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum in the Governor’s race.

“In 2018 Florida Democrats have a choice: do we settle yet again for moderate candidates reading a script written by party consultants, or do we want authentic leaders with bold ideas and a plan to achieve them? I’m proud to endorse Andrew Gillum for governor because he has lived and governed with our progressive values and stood up for issues that matter to our state: equality, healthcare and gun safety,” Smith stated in a news release issued by Gillum’s campaign Friday morning.

“Andrew’s proving you don’t have to be from a famous family or be ultra-wealthy to run for governor in our state, and he’s going to win in August and November,” he added.

Smith is finishing his freshman term representing Florida House District 49, covering northeast Orange County, and is seeking re-election so far without opposition. His first term established him as an unabashed and highly vocal leader in promoting progressive politics.

The endorsement also is a bid for Orlando’s Democratic base.

Gillum’s Democratic gubernatorial primary opposition includes two candidates who’ve established headquarters in Orlando, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, who moved much of her operations to Orlando from Tallahassee, and Winter Park businessman Chris King. Former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine also is fighting for Orlando’s Democratic base, now with billboards.

“I am ecstatic to have Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith’s endorsement in this race for Governor. Carlos has redefined what it means to fight for your constituents – from his relentless advocacy on gun violence after Pulse, to the Puerto Rican community after last year’s hurricanes — he has fought tirelessly for the people and issues we care most about. It’s truly an honor to have his support in this race,” Gillum stated in the release.

Philip Levine match helps boost his campaign by another $1 million in March

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine‘s campaign and political committee took in just over $1 million in March, including about $535,000 from contributors and $470,000 he put in himself as a match, his campaign announced Thursday.

The million-dollar month keeps the Levine campaign pacing ahead of other Democrats who don’t have the luxury of self-funding their campaigns, as former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham’s campaign announced it collected about $600,000 in March, and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum’s reported $336,000. The campaign of the fourth major Democrat, Chris King, has not yet announced March fundraising numbers.

There also has been no word yet on the March campaign finance activity of the two leading Republicans, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis.

The seven-figure month for Levine, the former Miami Beach mayor, also feeds a hungry campaign that had spent more than $4 million on television advertising this winter while the other candidates have bided time.

There was no word on how much the campaign and the political committee had left in the bank at the end of March. Official reports for March have not yet been posted by the Florida Division of Elections.

In March Levine’s official campaign took in $235,000 from contributors and Levine added $470,000 from his own pocket. His independent political committee All About Florida drew about $300,000 in donations.

“This month, our campaign’s momentum continues to build, now leading our competitors in both polling and fundraising, because Floridians are ready for a new, exciting progressive vision for our future,” Christian Ulvert, senior advisor to the campaign, stated in a news release. “As Mayor Levine tours the state of Florida, meeting directly with voters in every county, our campaign is raising the resources necessary to take his message for Florida’s future on airwaves, on the ground, and to the living rooms of Florida’s families.”

Democrats portraying Rick Scott as unaccountable in tragedies

In anticipation of Gov. Rick Scott‘s entry as the leading Republican candidate in this year’s U.S. Senate race, Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto and state Sen. Gary Farmer on Friday accused him of avoiding responsibility in the Hollywood Hills, Parkland, and Florida International University tragedies.

“There is a stark contrast in how each man takes responsibility for his actions: accountability on the end of [Democratic] Sen. [Bill] Nelson, and the blame-game on the end of Gov. Scott,” Soto said. “We need leaders who take responsibility for their actions. Because inaction has cost us lives here in the state of Florida.”

“This is not leadership,” Farmer said. “This is not the accountability we need.”

Their comments came as an early salvo in a Florida Democratic Party campaign against Scott, themed, “Self-Serving Scott.” Scott has called an April 9 event where he is expected to announce his candidacy to take on Nelson.

There was no immediate response from Scott’s office or from the Republican Party of Florida to Soto’s and Farmer’s accusations. Not yet being an official candidate, Scott does not yet have a formal campaign that can respond.

However, the Republican National Committee later issued a statement declaring Farmer’s and Soto’s statements to be “disgusting.”

“It’s disgusting that Democrats are so desperate in Florida they would take a tragedy of people dying and turn it into politics,” Taryn Fenske said in a written statement. “This would be no different than saying Congressman Soto and Senator Nelson should be held accountable for the bridge collapse in South Florida because federal dollars and inspectors were responsible for the management of that project. They should be ashamed.”

Soto and Farmer strove to follow up on and bring new attention to reports that suggested that in the cases of the tragic deaths of 12 nursing home patients at the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills in September, the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February, and the bridge collapse at FIU earlier this month, state authorities had received some sorts of warnings of potential problems.

Scott, they maintained, not only did nothing, or oversaw agencies that did nothing to respond to the early warnings, but later blamed others outside his administration while not acknowledging the prospects that his own administration may have played a role.

All three of the incidents are under investigation, and more will be known when those investigations are completed.

“You’ve got a pattern here where our governor will not accept blame,” Farmer said.

Jerry Demings gets Buddy Dyer’s endorsement in Orange County mayor’s race

Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings has received the endorsements of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, former Orlando Mayor Glenda Hood, and former Orange County Chair Linda Chapin in his campaign to become the next mayor of Orange County.

Demings’ campaign confirmed Wednesday that Dyer, mayor of Orlando for the past 15 years; Hood, Orlando Mayor for the 10 previous years; and Chapin, the last Democrat to hold the top Orange County executive office now known as the mayor’s office; along with several other key backers are onboard for his 2018 election campaign.

Demings, in his third term as sheriff, faces Winter Park businessman Rob Panepinto and Orange County Commissioner Pete Clarke for the Orange County mayor’s race. They seek to succeed Teresa Jacobs, who is leaving due to term limits.

Dyer called Demings “uniquely qualified” to serve as mayor.

“Over the last 30 years, I have had the distinct honor of working alongside Jerry Demings and have seen first-hand his commitment to making our community a stronger, safer place to live. I am proud to stand with him and to officially endorse his candidacy for Orange County mayor,” Dyer stated in a release issued by Demings campaign.

“In today’s modern world, Jerry has the vision and skills necessary to ensure Orange County remains competitive. He understands how to bring people together for the common good. He will work hand in hand with leaders across our region and state to foster a diversified economy that helps all citizens. He is passionate about creating stronger transportation and educational opportunities. He will also ensure that Orange County is a place where diversity, equality and inclusivity are celebrated. I believe Jerry Demings is the only candidate with the experience to lead Orange County,” Dyer added.

Hood noted that in 1998, when she was Orlando mayor, she appointed Demings to be Orlando chief of police, the first African American to hold that job.

“He championed several programs for safe and crime free neighborhoods. He was fiscally responsible and had a passion to help children and the elderly. I know firsthand the challenges of being Mayor and I am confident Jerry Demings is a strong leader with the skills to do the job,” Hood stated.

Chapin called Demings the “best choice.”

“He is an outstanding mentor and advocate for our young people. He has demonstrated his ability and dedication through his 37 years of service to the citizens of Orlando and unincorporated Orange County. He understands the complexity of the office and can lead Orange County into a future filled with better jobs, a safer community, and an infrastructure to support our visitors,” Chapin stated.

Both Dyer and Chapin are among major hosts at a fundraiser for Demings on April 20. Other key politicos on the committee include Orlando City Attorney Mayanne Downs, former Orange County Comptroller Martha Haney, and Democratic fundraiser Bob Poe. The fundraiser is set for the home of Democratic spenders Ted Maines and Jeff Miller.

League of Conservation Voters backs Stephanie Murphy in CD 7

The League of Conservation Voters Action Fund is backing Winter Park Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy for re-election in Florida’s 7th Congressional District, her campaign announced Tuesday.

The Action Fund is the political arm of the League of Conservation Voters, which rates members of Congress on an annual environmental issues scorecard that invariably rates Democrats higher than Republicans. The League’s Action Fund endorsed Murphy for her election in 2016. Last month the league gave her a score of 91, on a scale of 100.

Murphy has a Democratic rival for the August 28 CD 7 primary nomination, lawyer Chardo Richardson of Orlando, who is running with the backing of some of the party’s more progressive groups. So a League of Conservation Voters stamp of approval could blunt any attacks Murphy might receive from the left.

“Representative Stephanie Murphy has consistently demonstrated her commitment to protecting Florida’s families and environment,” LCV Action Fund Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld stated in a news release issued by Murphy’s campaign. “She understands that Florida is ground zero for climate change, from sea level rise to extreme weather, and that we need to take immediate action to address this crisis. She’s a strong advocate for the conservation of Florida’s lands and beautiful coasts. We need voices like hers now more than ever in Congress and we are proud to endorse Representative Murphy for re-election.”

Republicans running in CD 7 are state Rep. Mike Miller, Sanford businessman Scott Sturgill, Patrick Weingart, and Vennia Francois.

“Florida families are not only living with the fear of the next extreme weather event, we are deeply worried about the quality of the air our children breathe and the water they drink,” Murphy stated in the release.  “We need to protect Florida’s environment and natural resources, so we can preserve our beautiful state and grow our economy. In Congress, I’m proud to fight for smart environmental policies that will create jobs and ensure cleaner, more affordable energy options for central Florida families.”

In the release, Murphy touted her co-sponsorship of the CLIMATE Act which seeks to nullify President Donald Trump’s anti-environmental executive orders. She also noted that, using her position on the U.S. House Armed Services Committee, she has called climate change a threat to our national security and publicly denounced the Trump administration’s decision to exit the Paris Climate Accord.

She also cited work she has done seeking to make permanent tax credits for clean energy like wind and solar; her efforts to help protect lakes and wetlands that are the source waters for the Indian River Lagoon; and her consistent opposition to opposing offshore drilling that would endanger Florida’s coasts.

Gwen Graham gets Bob Butterworth’s backing in governor’s race

Bob Butterworth, Florida’s longest-serving Attorney General, has endorsed Gwen Graham for Governor, her campaign announced Monday.

Butterworth, whose tenure lasted from 1987 through 2002, cited Graham’s plan to hold drug companies accountable for fueling the opioid crisis.

“Gwen Graham is the only candidate for governor who has put forward an actionable plan to hold drug companies accountable and to end the opioid epidemic. Gwen understands Florida can’t arrest our way out of this crisis. The state must stop it at its source,” Butterworth stated in a news release issued by Graham’s campaign. “Just as Florida led the nation in taking on big tobacco, Gwen isn’t afraid to take on any industry or special interests and she will lead our state in taking on the drug companies fueling addiction in Florida.”

As the state’s top cop, Butterworth led Florida’s lawsuit against the tobacco industry, which set a national example and resulted in an $11 billion settlement for the state. In addition to four terms as Attorney General, Butterworth also served as Broward County sheriff, a judge, and secretary of the Department of Children and Families.

Graham faces former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and Winter Park businessman Chris King in the Democratic primary contest. The leading Republicans are U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

“Bob Butterworth has dedicated his life to protecting equal justice and Florida families. I’m honored to have his endorsement,” Graham stated. “As governor, I will stand up to the corporations and special interests harming our state. I will sue the drug companies, protect Florida’s children and take on the NRA to pass common-sense gun regulations.”

As HD 81 becomes Democratic contest, Tina Polsky announces new backer

The election for the open seat in Florida House District 81 has become a contest with the entry of a new Democrat, Mindy Koch, and Democratic candidate Tina Polsky announced she has picked up a couple of potentially influential endorsements.

Koch, of Boca Raton, is president of the Democratic Club of Boca Raton and Delray Beach. She filed Monday to run in HD 81, joining Polsky as the only active candidates in the race so far. Koch previously ran in 2016 against now state Sen. Kevin Rader, losing 58-42 to him in the Democratic primary.

Meanwhile, Polsky on Wednesday announced her second major Democratic endorsement of the week, this one from House Minority Floor Leader Lori Berman. That follows the announcement Monday of an endorsement from Rader.

Polsky and Koch intend to succeed state Rep. Joe Abruzzo in the district covering much of west and south Palm Beach County. Polsky, a mediator and elder care advocate, had initially filed to run in House District 89, and then switched to HD 81 at the start of March.

Announcing her support for Polsky, Berman stated: “I’m standing with Tina because I know that she will be a fierce advocate for the people of Palm Beach County. On women’s issues in particular, we can count on her to continue moving the ball forward. As a working mother and a strong progressive, Tina embodies the change that we so desperately need in Tallahassee.”

Ron DeSantis’ campaign touts poll showing him on top

The Republican gubernatorial campaign for U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis is touting new poll results from Gravis Marketing Tuesday morning that show he has taken the lead.

The same poll also is being cited by the Democratic gubernatorial campaign of Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum as it shows him moving up into second place on the Democrats’ side.

Both party races are tight and the vast majority of likely voters are still undecided, according to the poll.

“What’s clear from every poll we’ve seen since the president endorsed Ron DeSantis for governor, is that Ron is trending up and Adam Putnam is trending down,” DeSantis’ Campaign Press Secretary David Vasquez said in a news release issued by the campaign. “It’s clear Florida conservatives want a proven leader who has the support of the President and not a career politician who’s beholden to special interests.”

The survey was conducted from Feb. 26 through March 19 of a random selection of 2,212 likely voters across Florida. Gravis is reporting a margin of error of 2.1 percent.

The poll put DeSantis in the lead on the Republican side with 19 percent, followed by Florida Agriculture Commissioner Putnam at 17 percent and Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who has not entered the Governor’s race but is expected to, at just 3 percent. Sixty percent of Republican voters said they were uncertain whom they would vote for.

On the Democratic side, the poll put former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine atop the Democratic field with 13 percent support, followed by Gillum with 11 percent, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee with 9 percent, and Winter Park businessman Chris King with just 2 percent. Another 64 percent of Democratic voters were uncertain whom to vote for.

DeSantis’ camp notes that Gravis Marketing Managing Partner Doug Kaplan said that on the GOP side “DeSantis has gained in each poll.”

Darren Soto endorsed by 10 other members of Fla. congressional district

Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto has received endorsements from all ten of the other Democratic members of Congress from Florida, his re-election campaign announced Friday.

The announced endorsements would come as no surprise and seemingly fill no particularly-urgent campaign purpose, since Soto’s only opponent thus far in Florida’s 9th Congressional District is a Republican, St. Cloud businessman Wayne Liebnitzky. However, the announcement may send a discouraging signal toward any potential Democratic primary challengers, notably former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, who’s been mulling a comeback run, possibly against Soto for his old CD 9 seat.

Six of those who endorsed Soto in Friday’s announcement, U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor, Alcee Hastings, Lois Frankel, Ted Deutch, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Frederica Wilson, all served with Grayson in the 114th Congress, and before. U.S. Reps. Al Lawson, Stephanie Murphy, Val Demings, and Charlie Crist all were first elected with Soto in 2016 to the 115th Congress.

Said Frankel, from West Palm Beach, “Darren Soto is one of the finest new leaders of his generation. He is all that women hope for in a male ally. He supports equal rights for women across the board. He fights for a woman’s right to choose 100 percent of the time. He demands health care for women and families. And he practices what he preaches – he hires women equally, promotes women equally, and pays women equally. And he has the stats to prove it.”

“Darren is not afraid to stand for what’s right. Before Parkland, his community was torn apart by gun violence. And he stood up, he took on the NRA. He will not forget the victims of gun violence when the media moves on. Soto will work day and night until our children our protected from guns,” Frankel added. “Darren succeeds the old fashioned way — through hard work. Darren is a new-generation leader who isn’t afraid to roll up his sleeves and do the work you need to do to succeed. He’s pragmatic, he’s in public service to get stuff done for Florida. He served in the trenches in Tallahassee like I did. He’s seen every dirty trick the Republicans pull, and he has fought them all — without the name-calling and childishness that often consumes Washington.”

Democratic gubernatorial candidates slam Rick Scott for education budget

Democratic gubernatorial candidates Gwen GrahamAndrew GillumPhilip Levine, and Chris King took aim at Florida Gov. Rick Scott Friday afternoon, charging that the state budget he signed fails to adequately fund public education, with Graham declaring, “This will be the last budget… that underfunds Florida’s students.”

“Rick Scott’s education budget includes a measly 47-cent increase for education — it fails to even cover the rate of inflation,” Graham, the former congresswoman from Tallahassee, declared in a statement issue by her gubernatorial campaign Friday. “The governor is so out of touch with Florida families he may actually think that’s enough to fund our schools, but 47 cents won’t even buy Rick Scott a gum ball.

On Friday Scott signed the 2018-’19 state budget with $88.7 billion in spending, and also vetoed $64 million worth of line items. Scott’s office maintains the budget offers a record amount of spending on public schools, but Graham contends it falls far short of what is needed. Earlier, Graham had called for Scott to veto the budget, call the Florida Legislature back to a special session, and demand more money for public schools.

“When Rick Scott leaves the Governor’s Mansion this year, he’ll leave behind a legacy of cutting and underfunding public schools in Florida. This hasn’t just hurt our students — it hurts our economy and the entire state,” she continued. “Budgets, whether they’re made over a kitchen table or in the Capitol, are about priorities. For 20 years, the Republican politicians in Tallahassee have failed to make public education a priority, and, in 2018, voters will hold them accountable for their failures.”

She added this pledge: “As governor, I will pick apart the Republicans’ budget piece by piece to eliminate their wasteful spending and use those tax dollars where families will benefit — in our schools. Mark my words. This will be the last budget for next eight years that underfunds Florida’s students and schools.”

Gillum’s response took a similar tact he posted on Twitter Friday afternoon.

“A failure to properly fund our students education & not just a response to Parkland, is no surprise from @FLGovScott. Teachers & schools do some of the most important work on Earth: educating our kids. This budget falls well short of what our students need to learn and be safe,” Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, tweeted.

 Levine, a businessman and former mayor of Miami Beach, also ripped into Scott over the schools spending, and also criticized the state’s spending for health care.

“Governor Rick Scott is ending his tenure as Governor the same way he started it––short-changing our schools, our teachers and our students,” Levine said in a statement issued by his campaign. As governor, I would never sign this out-of-touch budget. This budget does nothing to improve our state’s back-of-the-pack status in teacher pay, and continues to leave too many Floridians without access to health care. We need leaders that will invest in our education and healthcare, not leave them with pennies on the dollar.”

King, a Winter Park developer of affordable housing and senior housing, noted that any budget is a statement of priorities.

“Rick Scott’s [priorities] are dead wrong,” King said. “Our students and teachers deserve better than a paltry 47-cent increase, but nothing will change in Tallahassee until we change the types of leaders we send there.”

The leading Republican candidates are U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis and Florida Agriculture Secretary Adam Putnam.

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons