Donald Trump – Page 4 – Florida Politics

Mike Miller announces Joe Gruters’ endorsement, citing Donald Trump connection

Republican congressional candidate Mike Miller announced an endorsement from fellow state Rep. Joe Gruters today — as a link to the Oval Office.

Gruters is President Donald Trump‘s Florida campaign chairman, a point stressed in a news release issued by Miller’s campaign Monday morning in his quest to be elected in Florida’s 7th Congressional District.

Miller, a two-term state representative in House District 47, faces a potential tough Republican primary contest with businessman Scott SturgillVennia V. Francois, and Patrick Weingart. They all hope to take on Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy in November. The district covers Seminole County and central Orange County.

“I have worked alongside Mike in Tallahassee and know he is one of the most hardworking conservatives we have. I am supporting his campaign because I know he will work with President Trump to protect our borders, ensure tax reforms, and bolster our military,” Gruters said in the news release. “Mike has a proven track record of winning in razor thin districts, so I believe he is the best choice to take on Congresswoman Murphy. I am looking forward to becoming involved in the campaign, not just helping him raise money, but engaging our grassroots supporters to help us flip this seat.”

Gruters, of Sarasota, represents Florida House District 73.

“Joe is a good friend and a fellow conservative who knows how important it is that we take this seat back from the Pelosi Democrats,” Miller stated in the release. “I am honored to have his endorsement and thankful for his efforts on the campaign trail.”

Joe Henderson: Marco Rubio should let it loose on Trump

I wish Marco Rubio would just let it go and tell everyone how he really feels about President Donald Trump.

I think Florida’s junior U.S. Senator, like many Republicans, really wants to do that.

He tiptoes up the edge but can’t quite go there. He doesn’t unleash oratory of fire and fury the likes of which we have never seen on a president whose administration is built on mockery and intimidation.

Rubio did that again Sunday with his appearance on NBC’s “Meet The Press.

The first question he was asked by moderator Chuck Todd was about the way now-former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was fired last week 48 hours before he was due to retire, jeopardizing the federal pension he earned during 20 years of service.

“I don’t like the way it happened. He should have been allowed to finish through the weekend. That said, there is an inspector general report that is due and work that is being done,” Rubio said. “After he had retired if that report indicated wrongdoing or something that was actionable, there are things that could have been done after the fact.

“But with 48 hours to go before retirement, I certainly would have done it differently.”

I think anyone with a dram of decency would agree that, yeah, it should have been done differently. And I guess Rubio figured he was showing such decency by his measured, gentlemanly response to the question.

But don’t you wish Rubio would have called the action technically taken by Attorney General Jeff “Whew, It Wasn’t Me This Time” Sessions but likely orchestrated by the president for the craven political retaliation that it was?

I think something like “the president obviously is out to squash the Russia investigation and anyone associated with it, and that makes me think he is guilty as sin” would have been what politicians call a “proportional response” in this matter.

As Rubio later noted in that interview, “I don’t like the way it went down. I would have done it differently. But I’m not the president.”

Part of the reason Rubio isn’t president is that he got bullied in during the 2016 campaign. Who can forget Trump hanging the “Little Marco” insult on him? Rubio never recovered and was embarrassed by Trump during the Florida Republican primary.

Given that, what does Rubio owe to a president who demands unflinching loyalty but gives none himself, even to those closest to him?

In other words, let it loose man!

Trump has rewritten the rules – temporarily at last – about governance, and the only way to deal with a bully is to put it right back in his face.

So, when Rubio says, as he did Sunday, “I don’t like the whole tone” of this issue, well … OK.

That’s telling him off!

Come on, Senator Rubio.

Someone has to emerge as the Republican face of “enough is enough” when it comes to this president. Rubio could be that guy.

All he has to do is say what I believe is really on his mind about our country and the man at the top.

Look at the polls. To use the president’s own words, what have you got to lose?

Democrat Catherine Price files for Senate District 26

Lake Wales Democrat Catherine Price announced Friday that she would run for the Senate District 26 seat being vacated by Sebring Sen. Denise Grimsley, who is running for Agriculture Commissioner in the fall.

“Tallahassee seems to be broken and our state is in desperate need of better political leadership. We need legislators who are educated, experienced, and committed to working for the people, rather than puppeting for powerful special interests,” Price said in a press release.

“I cannot sit this one out in good conscious. We are at a critical juncture in Florida and in the world where we can choose to work together to solve the issues we face, or we can continue down the path of increased chaos and infighting.”

Price is a Lake Wales native and first-time candidate for public office. Price said the bulk of her career has been helping people get access to affordable healthcare, including organizing a successful half-cent sales tax ballot initiative that currently generates $36 mllion annually for indigent health care in Polk County

Price also served as Chairwoman of the Polk County Healthcare Alliance from 2007 to 2010.

“Too many hardworking people in Florida don’t have healthcare because they either don’t have access or it’s just too expensive. I’ve spent a lot of time advocating for affordable healthcare in Tallahassee and DC, and I can tell you that too many of these politicians just don’t get it,” she said.

Price joins Republican Rep. Ben Albritton in the race. Through the end of February he had raised $142,600 and had nearly $99,000 of that money in the bank.

SD 26 covers the whole of DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Highlands and Okeechobee counties as well as parts of Charlotte, Lee and Polk.

The district, which has a similar footprint to the old District 21, carries a massive advantage for Republicans.

Grimsley did not face an Election Day challenger in the 2016 cycle, though the Senate redistricting plan shows the seat would have gone plus-20 for Mitt Romney in 2012. It also voted plus-30 for Donald Trump in 2016.

Despite those margins, Price said she’s optimistic.

“But in 2018, a year where Democrats are hopeful that national momentum will help them win in unlikely districts, Senate District 26 is absolutely in play,” her campaign announcement read.

The Schorsch governing theory of Florida politics — Part 1

Once the hanky dropped on the 2013 Legislative Session, my family headed to St. Augustine Beach to recuperate from the 60 days of working in that pressure cooker.

Michelle and I had been married for just over a year and our daughter, Ella Joyce, was only months old. Our business was just starting to take off. It was an exciting time.

For whatever reason, we thought it would be interesting to complicate our lives by Michelle running for a state House seat.

The Republican Party of Florida was looking for a candidate to challenge Dwight Dudley, a one-term incumbent who was not particularly well-liked in Tallahassee and was considered vulnerable in a non-presidential election cycle.

Michelle would have been the perfect challenger to Dudley. She’s a moderate Republican woman with strong connections to the Tampa Bay area and a reputation for loyalty and deeply-held convictions. That she had worked as a special adviser to then-Gov. Charlie Crist (and was based out of the USF St. Pete campus) only made her more attractive as a potential candidate.

For a moment, Michelle was excited by the idea, so we took the temperature of some of our friends in the political process. All of them thought Michelle would be a strong candidate. However, one friend informed us that incoming leadership of the House was recruiting another potential candidate they thought could win in a walk.

We spoke with then Speaker-designate Steve Crisafulli and, indeed, the GOP was hoping that Bill Young Jr., son of the local legend C.W. “Bill” Young, would enter the race. It’s probably best if Michelle stands down, Crisafulli told us.

Fortunately for our family, that’s exactly what Michelle did, although she said then that it was a mistake to think Young would beat Dudley.

She was right, of course, about that: Billy Young turned out to be a very bad candidate. In fact, he’s one of the very few candidates for office I’ve ever met who gained weight, rather than lost it, on the campaign trail (an indication he was not opening enough time walking door-to-door.)

Michelle and I talked a lot about our future that week in St. Augustine. A point I made then to her was that as busy as the 2014 and 2016 election cycles would be for us (and, Jesus, had they been busier than we could have ever imagined), the 2018 election cycle would actually be even more chaotic.

What I predicted then is only more accurate today. It is already shaping up to be the busiest election cycle in Florida’s modern history. Busier even than 1994, when Jeb Bush emerged from a brutal gubernatorial primary to eventually lose to Lawton Chiles.

As it stands now, here’s the rundown:

— A competitive race for the U.S.  Senate likely pitting Democrat Bill Nelson against Republican Rick Scott.

— A wide-open race for the Governor’s Mansion, with competitive primaries on both sides of the ballot.

— Three competitive statewide races for spots on Florida’s Cabinet: Agriculture Commissioner, CFO and Attorney General.

— Four statewide voter initiatives.

— As many as a dozen constitutional questions put on the ballot by the once-every-twenty-years Constitutional Revision Commission.

— More competitive congressional and state legislative races than at any point since Republicans took over the state in the mid-1990s.

The ballot this November will take the average Floridian twenty to thirty minutes to read and complete.

And that’s what we know about today.

As has been said many times, Florida is the Chinatown of politics. Forget about trying to understand it.

But if you run a political website titled “Florida Politics,” this is a wonderful time to be alive.

Our site’s traffic was busier last week than all but one other week in our history. Last month was busier than any other month in our history. This month looks like it will be busier than last month. And there’s no reason to think next month won’t be busier than this month.

And yet … what happens in December 2018? The campaigns will be over. The 2019 Legislative Session will be months away. The presidential campaign, while talked about daily, won’t be for real for almost another year.

Won’t feast turn to famine?

No.

And not just because the average bear is more interested in politics than in half-a-century.

This is the first part of the Schorsch governing theory of Florida politics.

It all starts to go back to normal today.

Gov. Scott signed the $88 billion fiscal plan sent to him Wednesday. He is now officially a lame duck.

Don’t get me wrong, Scott still has enormous power. And it’s not out of the range of possibilities that the Legislature will be called into Special Session for some sort of crisis.

But, for the most part, the sun has begun to set on Rick Scott’s time in Tallahassee. And with that, everything will start to change.

Because none of the seven candidates expected to run for Florida governor can write a $72 million check to buy the Governor’s Mansion, as Scott did in 2010, the four pillars of political life in Florida will now begin rebuilding their stature in the state.

The lobby corps, the news media (as enervated as it is), the fundraising community, and the political parties should see their influence return in the coming months and next four years.

Lobbyists have been of little use to Scott because they were against him in 2010 and he’s never really forgotten that. Only a handful of big-name lobbyists have had access to Scott himself: Brian Ballard, Nick Iarossi, Fred Karlinsky, Bill Rubin, among a few others.

Most governmental affairs firms have relied on a strategy of focusing on the Legislature while staying under the radar during the gubernatorial veto period. Some firms — Southern Strategy Group, GrayRobinson — have succeeded in their efforts to lobby the executive branch, but, for the most part, this is an administration that has been indifferent to Adams Street.

Before today, the lobby corps would have been unwilling to choose sides in the upcoming gubernatorial race, especially with Richard Corcoran looming as a possible candidate. But the smart firms will start making more significant investments in the candidates so that they are in on the ground floor with who they think will win.

Some firms will win, some will lose, but at least the game is being played again. Scott didn’t even roll out the ball.

The media has been kept at arm’s length by Scott ever since his early communications director, Brian Burgess, positioned velvet ropes between the Governor and the Capitol Press Corps. If Scott didn’t need the lobby corps, he needed the press corps even less.

The math was simple: He could write a check larger than the amount of earned media written against him. Also, the Governor’s Office made two smart decisions. One, it prioritized interactions with TV reporters, preferably those who were not plugged in enough to ask difficult questions, and two, it created a reverb chamber with the wire services.

By this I mean, most major announcements by the Scott administration were funneled to the Associated Press (which can’t editorialize the way Florida Politics, POLITICO, or the Times/Herald can and do). It is, in turn, relied on by many TV stations for their state government content. Once a TV station aired the AP version, the Governor’s Office would push out an ICYMI press release touting the story.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Don’t believe me. Consider this: Point to the one process story written about the Scott administration that details how the Governor makes a decision. You probably can’t. Because this is one of the most leak-proof administrations ANYWHERE IN THE COUNTRY. Donald Trump would give away Ivanka if he could have a White House that operates in the quiet way Scott’s office has.

More double-negative evidence: Point to the feature about anyone in Scott’s administration that includes an on-the-record response from the person profiled. Floridians knew/know virtually nothing about the chiefs of staff, key advisers, etc. who are in Scott’s orbit.

Because none of the seven gubernatorial candidates can’t rely just on paid media to get their message out, they have to create earned media. This instantly makes the press, specifically the Capitol Press Corps and other political journalists, relevant again.

Instead of being kept in the dark, as most journalists have been during the last seven years, now outreach to most favored reporters and bloggers is again part of the communications strategy. What Marc Caputo, Matt Dixon, David Smiley, myself, and others say about the gubernatorial and other races is more important than it was under Scott. A takedown in the press becomes fodder for fundraising emails and digital videos.

Speaking of fundraising emails, get ready to be inundated with them.

Not that you weren’t already, but none of the candidates running for Governor can self-finance in a way that allows them to bypass the need for small donors.

Under Scott, a meeting with him cost an interest group at least $50,000. Only a handful of Floridians or companies can afford that. But Putnam, Gillum, Graham, Levine, etc. are already touting the support they are receiving from donors who can only afford to write checks for $25 or $50.

Whereas Scott was only interested in receiving a $500,000 check from a utility company, almost all of the candidates running in 2018, whether it be for governor or state House, would be happy to receive a check for $500 or $1,000. This returns power to the fundraisers who specialized in bundling, say, 30 checks from a group of local professionals. The entire campaign finance system reverts to pre-2010 levels without Scott and his checkbook.

This brings me to my final point: Look for the return of the political parties.

No, they’ll never be as powerful as they were 20 years ago, but they certainly won’t do any worse than they have the last eight years. Especially the Republican Party of Florida, which has been so neglected by Scott that there are constant rumors that the party can barely make payroll.

Whoever wins their party’s nomination this fall will need the parties if they want to win the general. They will need the activists. They will need the party’s imprimatur. That shifts power back to the Republicans’ Blaise Ingoglia, the Democrats’ Terrie Rizzo, and the party chairs who will follow them.

I wanted to roll out this theory on the Ides of March because Scott’s tenure reminds me of a line from Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.”

“Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world like Colossus, and we petty men walk under his huge legs and peep about.”

Scott, armed with his checkbook, has bestridden Tallahassee like Colossus, while we petty men and women have walked under his indifferent legs and peeped about.

With Scott’s exit, it’s time again for all of those in The Process to, as Cassius told Brutus, be masters of our own fates.

Talleyrand Connector money comes to Jacksonville from Tallahassee, survives veto process

$12.5 million for Jacksonville’s Talleyrand Connector, an ambitious reconfiguration of Hart Bridge offramps that would route traffic on surface streets by the stadium and toward the port, escaped Gov. Rick Scott‘s veto pen Friday.

The money is 1/4 of the $50 million Jacksonville anticipates needing for the total project.

Jacksonville is pursuing $25 million in infrastructure money via the Department of Transportation’s Infrastructure for Rebuilding America program for the project; to that end, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry made another trip to D.C. this week to lobby members of the Donald Trump administration.

If the federal money comes through, Jacksonville will have $37.5 million of outside money for the Talleyrand Connector project, a strong illustration of how Curry leverages relationships throughout government for his administration’s priorities.

The project has been sold for a variety of benefits. Initially pitched to the Duval Delegation in 2016 as a way of activating the property by the sports complex, a burgeoning entertainment district, further studies in 2017 found benefits in terms of routing traffic to and from the port.

Curry credited legislators from outside of Duval County with helping to make the push in an interview earlier this month.

Curry has pitched other benefits also, including public safety and removing outmoded and ugly offramps that the mayor has called a “relic” of bygone design needs.

Other regional priorities, including $25 million for the St. Johns River and Keystone Lakes, $631,000 for 1,924 crosswalk countdown clocks in Jacksonville, and $200,000 for the “Emerald Necklace” project that will revive Hogan’s Creek, all survived the veto pen.

Some regional vetoes of note in the over $64 million of gubernatorial nixes:

The Flagler College Hotel Ponce de Leon disaster recovery saw $1.5 million vetoed because there was no public ROI for renovation of a private facility.

$50,000 for a feasibility study for elderly care for PACE Partners of Northeast Florida was vetoed precisely because it was for a study.

$1.5 million for widening of St. Johns County Road 244 was also cut.

Jacksonville Bold for 3.16.18 — Bottom line

The 2018 Legislative Session finally wrapped. Now, in front of us, the madcap dash to the 2018 primaries in August is about to hit full stride.

For Jacksonville area voters, especially Democrats, these are exciting times. From competitive races for Congress to state Senate and state House, there are choices on the ballot. And narratives.

The hanky drops; now the post-mortem begins. Photo credit: Hali Tauxe of the Tallahassee Democrat.

We will have them all for you in the coming months.

Speaking of that Legislative Session, Jacksonville did relatively well — $12.5 million, to be precise, for the Talleyrand Connector.

And we even have good news on other topics … including the right to yell DUUUUUUU-VALL … which (apparently) was in doubt.

Northeast Florida among Session’s big winners

Nobody expected a tragedy like Parkland to suck all the oxygen out of the Legislature’s Regular Session. Lobbyists were left scrambling to save their clients’ priorities as lawmakers hustled to rejigger the budget to accommodate hundreds of millions of dollars for school safety and mental health initiatives.

Some survived, many did not; although that’s no different from any other 60-day tumble in the Capitol.

That said, the past year has been an eventful one for Northeast Florida: Rob Bradley became Appropriations Chairman and performed like a seasoned professional. Future House Speaker Paul Renner capably handled his chamber’s tax package. Sen. Travis Hutson took some major steps toward becoming a future presiding officer.

Appropriations Chair Rob Bradley (shown here with Denise Grimsley) is one of the reasons Northeast Florida is in the win column.

And don’t forget Sen. Audrey Gibson, who ascended to the role of Leader-designate of the Senate Democrats.

If only there were a Jacksonville-based lobbying firm that works with them all … oh wait, there is — The Fiorentino Group, as well as Southern Strategy Group’s Matt Brockelman and Deno Hicks.

Lawson talks access to capital in Jacksonville

At the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce Monday Morning, Rep. Al Lawson and Rep. James Comer helmed a Congressional field hearing for the Small Business Committee regarding access to capital disparities.

Access to capital disparities disproportionately impact female and minority-owned businesses, and the hearing in Jacksonville was intended to discuss potential remedies to the challenge.

Al Lawson noted these conversations are happening throughout the country.

“Capital is the lifeblood of any business,” Lawson said, noting that the average African-American startup is 18 percent less likely than white business owners to get help from the lending industry.

“Investors are predisposed to a preference to people who are similar to them,” Lawson added, and to that end, Monday’s hearing was intended to help women and minority-owned businesses voice their needs in the marketplace.

Brown appeals conviction

For great moments in ironic ledes, check out this chestnut from Roll Call:

The similarities between former House members and Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famers are few. But disgraced former Rep. Corrine Brown of Florida and Jon Bon Jovi are both livin’ on a prayer.

Gotta hold on to what we’ve got …

Last week, Brown’s attorney filed a 76-page appeal to her conviction on fraud and tax evasion charges, saying the judge in the case wrongfully removed a juror who claimed a “higher power” told him Brown was not guilty,

“The district court reversibly erred when it questioned a juror who had voted to acquit Congresswoman Brown,” the appeal states, “and then dismissed the juror over [a] defense objection based on nothing more than the juror having prayed for guidance and [believing] that he received guidance from the Holy Spirit that Congresswoman Brown was not guilty.”

Appeals on these grounds so far have flopped, and this one likely will also. Notable: prosecutors objected to the motion, saying it went over word count.

Fundraisers for Levine, Gillum

Two major Democratic candidates for Governor plan Jacksonville-area stops this week, as fundraising efforts continue for the August primary.

Philip Levine plans a “cocktail party” event Thursday evening, with a nascent host committee including Mark Frisch, Matt Kane and Ted Stein, among others.

The event honoring the Miami Beach Mayor will be at the Beaches Museum in Jacksonville Beach and will kick off at 6 p.m.

Philip Levine and Andrew Gillum will each be passing the hat in Jacksonville.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum will have his own Jacksonville area event as well, from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday, at the home of Erica and Colin Connor in Ponte Vedra Beach.

A minimum $50 buy-in is requested to attend the Gillum affair.

Levine and Gillum have had different approaches to campaign finance in this campaign.

Levine has spent over $4.6 million of personal funds on his campaign.

Gillum, without recourse to that kind of personal wealth, has had slower fundraising than other significant candidates and had just under $800,000 cash on hand.

Talleyrand Connector cash leads budget haul

Unless Gov. Rick Scott casts a surprising veto, it looks as if Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry will get state money for the “Talleyrand Connector,” which tears down the current Hart Bridge offramps that would activate Bay Street and help traffic flow to the port.

The Talleyrand Connector: Jacksonville’s big budget win in 2018.

As the Florida Times-Union reported, $12.5 million of state money made it into the budget. Curry had personally lobbied regional and state power brokers and the capital moved from a $1 million placeholder to the full appropriation sought.

Jacksonville still seeks other money — specifically, $25 million from the Feds for an infrastructure grant — but city officials tell us that they could begin the project with the state money regardless.

By far, the Talleyrand money was the most prominent get from the state in this year’s budget.

For a deep dive into how Jacksonville got that money, read more here.

So handy

The Tampa Bay Times took a look at a last-minute move from Sen. Bradley that benefited a client of lobbyist Brian Ballard.

Handy workers: independent contractors after all.

“The amendment created a new chapter of the Florida statutes for online handyman services like Handy. The new statutes make clear that the handymen used by Handy are independent contractors, not employees.”

“Senators approved it after barely 10 minutes of discussion. Immediately after, Sen. Dennis Baxley … walked across the Senate floor to shake Bradley’s hand,” the Times article asserted.

“I don’t think anybody’s rights or responsibilities changed with what we did,” Bradley said. “What we did is ensure that there will not be litigation on these questions.”

Record dings Hutson for last-minute ‘stealth annexation’ try

Sen. Hutson ran afoul of the St. Augustine Record this week for attempting to move some St. Johns County land that is part of the Nocatee land tract to Duval County.

The Record wondered why Travis Hutson was trying to pad Duval tax rolls.

The reason: The owners of the land (the Davises of Winn-Dixie fame) want the property in Duval.

The charge: “Nocatee has been given a pass by County Commissioners over the years to gut the affordable and workforce housing components and to renege on all its plans to put commercial property within the development. Perhaps more correctly, Nocatee is locating nearly all its commercial component into the sliver of land that juts into Duval County. Apparently, Duval might be considerably more zoning and impact fee-affable than we are.”

The plan failed this session … however, the Record vows vigilance.

“Much more likely is they saw that the window for approval was closing too quickly — and word got out. Better to quietly yank if from the bill and find another way to skin that cat next session. We bet they’ll be trying. You can bet we’ll be watching.”

Slow February in legislative fundraising

February offered a unique opportunity for people running against incumbents, who can’t fundraise during the Legislative Session, to make up ground in fundraising.

But — at least in competitive Northeast Florida races — they didn’t take up the gauntlet.

Some examples:

SD 6: Jacksonville City Councilman Reggie Brown raised no money in February, his first month challenging Sen. Audrey Gibson for the Democratic Party nomination. Gibson, who couldn’t raise money, has $121,410 on hand.

Reggie Brown has some ground to make up in SD 6.

HD 12: Republican Clay Yarborough has over $122,000 on hand, despite not being able to fundraise in February. Democrat Tim Yost, who did fundraise in February, brought in $1,429 and had $3,300 cash on hand.

HD 13: Incumbent Democrat Tracie Davis has $35,715 on hand; her intraparty challenger, Roshanda Jackson, was in the race for five days in February and spent not one of them fundraising.

Read more here.

Council fundraising continues

With roughly a year before first elections in 2019 Jacksonville City Council races, now’s a good time to take a look at fundraising in selected races through February.

With $8,400 of new money in February, Matt Carlucci, a former Council Republican running for at-large Group 4, is still the clubhouse leader with just over $221,000 raised. Carlucci’s opponent, fellow former Council Republican Don Redman, has a lot of ground to make up. Word on the street is there will be more candidates in this one.

Can Don Redman make up the cash gap with Matt Carlucci? Doubtful.

As we reported last week, Republican Ron Salem has over $150,000 on hand in at-large Group 2. This number puts him well ahead of former Jacksonville Councilman Bill Bishop. Bishop raised just $2,000 and has just over $13,200 on hand. Democrat Darren Mason only entered the race in March.

In Jacksonville City Council District 14, Democrat Sunny Gettinger showed respectable first-month fundraising numbers in February, bringing in over $34,000. Gettinger still has a way to go to catch Republican Randy DeFoor, who raised $4,350 in March, and has nearly $90,000 on hand.

Read more here.

National attention for New Hope

The Florida Times-Union spotlights one of Jacksonville’s best-known nonprofits, Operation New Hope.

The Donald Trump administration has taken notice. Weeks after CEO Kevin Gay met with Jared Kushner to talk prison re-entry, the Springfield group hosted HUD Secretary Ben Carson doing a roundtable with former inmates who reformed their lives and got jobs with JAXPORT.

Ben Carson was in Jacksonville, all because of prison reform.

“It is the most bipartisan issue that our country has now,” Gay said. “Our country just needs something that we can all come around on. I don’t care where you are on the spectrum. Who can argue with improving public safety?”

As Florida Politics reported last week, Carson’s comments were a breath of fresh air from a Republican administration that postures as a law and order shop. Carson spoke at length about the penal system’s effects on young black men.

“Purely looking at the cost of someone who is incarcerated versus someone who is trying to bolster the economy,” Carson noted, “the difference is night and day. When we start to think about it that way, what it costs to train somebody, what it costs for someone to go to college, it costs more to keep somebody incarcerated.”

“It’s also costing us their own positive contributions and one of the things we need to realize about our young people is that we have so many in our penal system, particularly young black males, is that for every one we can keep from going down that path of self-destruction, it’s one less person we need to be afraid of or protect our family from,” Carson added.

Pinto named ’40 under 40′

This week, the Jacksonville Business Journal named Mark Pinto of the Fiorentino Group among 40 of Northeast Florida’s brightest, most promising professionals under the age of 40.

Congrats to Mark Pinto, one of Jacksonville’s ’40 under 40.’

In 2012, Pinto served as the Special Assistant to then-Republican Party of Florida Chair Curry, where he worked with House and Senate Leadership, members of the Florida Cabinet, and the Governor’s Office.

Pinto began his political career with Florida Senate President-designate Bill Galvano of Bradenton during his tenure as Rules Chair of the Florida House. He worked on Galvano’s first political campaign and served as his aide in the House.

Prior to his service in the House, Pinto worked for former Congressman Dan Miller, also from Bradenton, and has been active in local, state, and national politics, and has volunteered and raised funds for numerous political campaigns. He also recently served on the St. Johns County Chamber Economic Development Council.

Fanatics owner mulls NFL team purchase

Jacksonville’s Fanatics had all but cornered the market on licensed sports apparel. And soon, its owner may be moving from clothing to owning a franchise.

Per the Florida Times-Union: Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin is seriously interested in making a run at owning the Carolina Panthers.

The Carolina Panthers are up for sale, and the new owner may have a local connection.

“Rubin would be entering a somewhat crowded field of bidders for the Panthers, who were put up for sale by owner Jerry Richardson late last year following allegations of inappropriate workplace conduct. According to ESPN, other bidders include a hedge fund billionaire and the founder and CEO of a debt collection firm.”

“Rubin, 45, is worth an estimated $3 billion by Forbes and would be a familiar name to the league’s other owners. Last May, the NFL invested $95 million for a 3 percent stake in Fanatics. That deal boosted Fanatics’ value to more than $3.17 billion at the time.”

DUUUUUVALLL for Y’all

Another piece of football news. In March, no less.

First Coast News reports that “The Jaguars, who caught flak from local groups after trademarking the phrase, “Duuuval,” have seemingly dropped the trademark tag from their social media after receiving criticism for the move.”

It belongs to the world now.

From the Jags: “It’s important to note that the Jaguars have not submitted an application to register the wordmark ‘DUUUVAL.’ The only actions taken to date were intended to protect our ability to continue to use this specific wordmark to promote our fan base and our team in the future, given that it became associated with our fans and the team on a national level this past season. In addition, even if we were to seek trademark registration, it would not prohibit any fan from continuing to say or use the word Duval in general.”

Long story short, keep yelling it from the mountaintop.

Positive signs for Talleyrand Connector money from Lenny Curry’s latest D.C. trip

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry made a trip to Washington D.C. earlier this week, and has been the case before, he met with members of the Donald Trump administration.

The subject, as it so often has been, was infrastructure — both the Talleyrand Connector project that the city seeks $25 million for in infrastructure money via the Department of Transportation’s Infrastructure for Rebuilding America program, and other local infrastructure projects.

“Mayor Curry’s meetings were in regards to the Talleyrand Connector, as well as to advocate for Jacksonville infrastructure as a whole, and the priorities that he has laid out,” asserted Curry spokesperson Tia Ford Wednesday afternoon in response to inquiries from this outlet.

Decisions on the grant are expected to be made “soon,” per Ford, who said that Curry thought the meetings went “very well.”

The Talleyrand Connector money, should it come through from the Trump administration, will offer major funding for a wishlist item for the Curry administration dating back to 2016. The alterations to the Hart Bridge Expressway are purported to improve traffic flow, including for trucks bound to and from the port.

Curry had met last year with Trump administration members discussing the same project, including intergovernmental affairs staffers and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

The state budget, which currently is awaiting Gov. Rick Scott‘s review, has an additional $12.5 million for the project.

When asked about the line item Tuesday, Gov. Scott would not commit to it, despite Curry having lobbied him personally on it.

“So the budget came out on Sunday. We’re starting the process to review the budget. I look through it line by line. There’s about 4,000 lines to the budget, and my goal is to make sure all taxpayers get a return on those investments,” Scott said.

If the state and federal money comes through, Jacksonville will have $37.5 million of outside money for the Talleyrand Connector project, a strong illustration of how Curry leverages relationships throughout government for his administration’s priorities.

Joe Henderson: Timing may never be right again for David Jolly

Because it’s best to never rule out anything in politics, I offer this qualifier: Perhaps the time will come again for David Jolly to make another run for public office.

Having said that, I honestly doubt it.

In a tweet late Tuesday night, Jolly said he won’t try to regain his seat in Congress by challenging U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist in November.

As he noted, “politics is about timing” and given what could be a Democrat tsunami in the November mid-terms, Jolly said he will dedicate his efforts toward being part of a primary challenge in 2020 to Donald Trump.

I like David Jolly and his maverick ways, but the political reality is that he is a man without a party right now. Even as a Congressman from Pinellas County, he angered Republican Party bosses by going rogue on “60 Minutes” with his disgust at how much of his day was spent fund-raising.

After losing his re-election bid in 2016 to Crist, Jolly has made bridge-burning a daily habit – not that he is wrong. He has become a national go-to quote when someone needs a Republican to rip Trump.

He shows up frequently on panels at MSNBC and doesn’t hold back at how he feels Trump is ruining the cause of conservatism and the country.

It makes for compelling theater, and Jolly does make a reasoned argument that the Trump presidency is a disaster and our political system is broken.

But speaking the truth can have consequences, and Jolly would surely face them if he ever tried to run for national office again. Democrats wouldn’t support him over one of their own, and Republicans would shun him like he had typhoid.

Maybe he could run for state office, but he likely still would face those same obstacles. Even if he were elected, he would likely be a pariah in his own party once he reported to work.

He could follow the Crist model and change parties, but that doesn’t seem to be his style. What Jolly seems to want is for the Republican Party to come to its senses and reject the kind of extremism that has been the Trump brand.

Good luck with that.

It likely will take a ballot-box slaughter in November and maybe one in 2020 as well for any sort of reasoned moderation to take hold in the GOP. By that time, Democrats could be back in control while Republicans search for a new identity that doesn’t scare the crap out of voters and our allies.

Where does that leave David Jolly?

For at least the time being, it leaves him right where he is – on the front line of visible opposition to his own party. It leaves him to fight an uphill battle to restore some conservative sanity to the GOP message.

And it leaves him as a politician without an election.

Like I said, we learned in 2016 that anything can happen in politics, so never say never. Right now though, Jolly will have to be content to call it like he sees it from the sidelines. He can only hope someone is paying attention.

Politics is about timing: David Jolly won’t run for elected office in 2018

David Jolly will remain a spectator, albeit an active one, in 2018.

The former U.S. Representative is not looking to return to elective politics this year, referring to a tight Pennsylvania 18th Congressional District special election Tuesday night in a district Donald Trump won by more than 20 points in 2016.

Making the announcement on Twitter, Jolly also suggested Trump should be “primaried in 2020.” He came to the decision with his wife, Laura.

Jolly said: “Politics is about timing. 4 years ago tonight I was elected in a district Obama won twice. Laura & I have considered another run, but watching PA, this is not the year to re-enter politics. Trump should be primaried in 2020. Our focus tonight is on being a part of that primary.”

Since the bitter presidential election, Jolly, an Indian Shores Republican, has been an outspoken critic of Trump.

Ron DeSantis: Russia may be malevolent but no collusion with Trump campaign

Appearing on Fox News Tuesday morning, Republican Florida gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis defended the House Intelligence Committee’s Republican declaration Monday that it was ending its Russia probe after concluding there had been no collusion with Russia by the presidential campaign of Donald Trump.

DeSantis, a congressman from Ponte Vedra Beach, said he thinks the Russians’ activities “are malevolent” but he charged that the Democrats politicized the investigation by making it about Trump, and said it is time to move on.

“There’s no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. We’ve got to move on to that,” DeSantis said. “Now, Russian activity, I think they are malevolent, and I think we should try to deal with that in one voice,” DeSantis said on Fox News’ “Happening Now” show.

DeSantis faces Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in the Aug. 28 Republican primary, with the expected additional entry into the Republican race of Florida Speaker of the House Richard Corcoran.

“But I think the problem with this is since Trump was elected it was politicized and the Democrats tried to lump Trump in with some type of nefarious Russian activity. And there’s just no basis for that other than the Steele dossier, which is not verified. There has never been evidence put forward. They’ve been doing this for over a year. They made the right decision. It’s time to move on.”

DeSantis did not make any references to the ongoing independent investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, or the four members of Trump’s campaign team who have been indicted in Mueller’s Russia probe.

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