endorsement – Florida Politics

Associated Builders and Contractors endorses David Smith for HD 28

Winter Springs Republican David Smith announced Thursday that the state’s largest commercial construction trade group has endorsed his campaign for House District 28.

Associated Builders and Contractors is the commercial construction trade association for Central Florida and we are pleased to endorse David Smith for Florida House District 28,” said Mark Wylie, president and CEO of the Central Florida Chapter ABC.

“Our members include general contractor and subcontractors in all trades, as well as material and service providers, for the industry. David’s knowledge and understanding of the key issues affecting our industry, as well as specific educational programs is impressive. We believe he will work to create and sustain a business and regulatory environment that will result in a strong Florida economy and a growing workforce.”

The new endorsement for Smith, a Marine Corps veteran, follows recent nods from Republican Sen. David Simmons and current HD 28 Rep. Jason Brodeur, who leaving the seat due to term limits.

“I’m honored to have the support of the Associated Builders and Contractors,” Smith said. “As someone who graduated vocational training and started my work-life as a certified welder, I have great respect for the men and women that work in the trades. We see eye to eye on the issues that affect not only their industry, but what’s needed to create good jobs for Central Florida families.” Smith added.

HD 28 covers part of northeastern Seminole County, including Sanford, Winter Springs, Casselberry and Oviedo. Republican voters make up nearly 40 percent of the electorate in the Central Florida district, compared to a 33 percent share for Democrats.

The only other candidate running to succeed Brodeur is Democrat Lee Mangold.

As of May 31, Smith had nearly $150,000 in the bank for his campaign account including $85,000 in loans. Through the same date, Mangold had about $15,000 at the ready. His total includes $10,000 in loans.

AFSCME Florida backs Nancy Soderberg in CD 6

Former U.S. Ambassador Nancy Soderberg received an endorsement Thursday from the Florida branch of the nation’s largest public employee union in her bid for Florida’s 6th Congressional District.

AFSCME Florida is proud to endorse Nancy Soderberg, who will fight side by side with us to make sure we have the freedom to organize, collectively bargain and stand up for our rights,” said Jana Weaver, executive director of AFSCME Florida. “Nancy will fight to stop the assault on workers and do everything she can to provide people with the freedom and opportunity to join the middle class.”

Richard Flamm, an AFSCME member and chair of the Central Florida PEOPLE Committee, added that Soderberg will “fight for our freedom as workers to organize, collectively bargain and stand up so we can improve life for ourselves, our families and our communities across Florida.”

Soderberg, a Democrat who served as Ambassador to the United Nations under Bill Clinton, is one of six candidates vying for the seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, who running in the Republican primary for Governor.

She has previously earned endorsements from former Vice President Joe Biden and the Florida Young Democrats and has also caught the attention of the national Democratic Party, which added her campaign to their “Red to Blue” program earlier this year.

Soderberg is running against Steven Sevigny and John Upchurch in the Democratic primary, while former state Rep. Fred Costello, Fox News contributor Michael Waltz and businessman John Ward are duking it out for the Republican nomination.

CD 6 is a Republican-leaning seat, though through the end of the first quarter of 2018 Soderberg led the Democratic field with an impressive $920,000 in total fundraising and $595,000 on hand. Sevigny, a Daytona Beach physician, entered the race halfway through Q1 and raised posted $250,000 in his first report.

Ward was the top Republican with $709,000 banked at the end of Q1, including $550,000 in candidate contributions, while Waltz was about $50K behind counting the $400,000 he’d pumped into his campaign.

CD 6 covers a stretch of Florida’s east coast, from southern Jacksonville to New Smyrna Beach.

Hialeah City Council President endorses Manny Diaz in SD 36 race

Manny Diaz‘s Senate campaign just notched another endorsement with Hialeah City Council President Vivan Casals Muñoz announcing her support Thursday.

Diaz is competing for the Senate District 36 seat after serving in the state House since 2012, where he’s represented House District 103.

“Manny Diaz really demonstrated his leadership abilities in the Florida House,” said Muñoz.

“While he has been at the forefront of issues like education reform, he has never taken his eye off the importance of policies that support a strong economy and pressing constituent needs in his district. He is ready to continue leading in the Florida Senate, and I’m proud to support him.”

Muñoz has served on the Hialeah City Council since 2006. She is also the chairwoman of the Hialeah Planning and Zoning Board and serves on both the Business and Economic Advisory Committee and the Hialeah Historic Preservation Board.

She’s one of many Miami-Dade County officials who has endorsed the Diaz campaign, including the mayors of Miami, Miami Springs, and Hialeah. Diaz is also backed by current Sen. Rene Garcia, who Diaz is running to replace. Garcia is term-limited.

“Vivian Casals Muñoz is a public servant of the highest caliber,” said Diaz of her endorsement. “I’m honored to have her support, and I look forward to continuing to work with her on behalf of our friends and neighbors in Hialeah.”

Diaz is the only Republican filed to run in SD 36. Challenging him on the Democratic side are David Perez and Julian Santos.

Aakash Patel

Aakash Patel lands endorsement from Trey Traviesa

Hillsborough County Commission candidate Aakash Patel snagged a nod former Republican Rep. Trey Traviesa Thursday, making for three endorsements in the past week.

“I met Aakash Patel while he was a student at Florida State University working in Student Government and a member of the Seminole Torchbearers, an organization which acknowledges and encourages leaders at FSU to continue their exceptional service through leadership in the community,” Traviesa said.

“I know that Aakash will uphold these leadership standards when he serves on the Hillsborough County Commission. I look forward to his implementation of conservative principles on the Commission to improve our economy, our tourist industry and education opportunities for our children. I am pleased to endorse Aakash Patel in his race for County Commission.”

The endorsement from Traviesa, who represented South Tampa in the House from 2004 to 2008, follows a pair of high-profile backers announced by the Patel campaign over the past week. On Friday, House Speaker Richard Corcoran announced his support for the Republican businessman. Attorney General Pam Bondi did the same Tuesday.

“It is an honor to have the support of such an inspirational leader and friend, Trey Traviesa. He has long served our community and I look forward to working with him when I serve on the Hillsborough County Commission,” Patel said.

Patel, who runs business consulting firm Elevate Inc., is running for the countywide District 7 seat currently held by retiring Commissioner Al Higginbotham.

Before entering that race, Patel was a candidate for the District 1 seat held by Commissioner Sandy Murman, who was expected to resign her seat early and make her own run in District 7.

After a year in the District 1 race, Patel raised $351,149 for his campaign and another $109,525 for his political committee, Elevate Tampa. He had more than $270,000 of that money in the bank on May 31.

He is one of ten candidates vying for the open seat, though only Republican attorney Todd Marks — also a former District 1 candidate — and Democrat Kimberly Overman have posted any substantive fundraising numbers.

Also running are Democrats Ray ChiaramonteCharles Davis IIIMark NashCorey Reynolds and Sky White as well as Republican Cherie Denham and Green Party candidate Kim O’Connor.

Only Chiaramonte, Patel and White had qualified for the ballot as of early Thursday afternoon. The qualifying deadline is noon Friday.

The District 7 seat will be on the 2018 ballot alongside Districts 2, 4 and 5, all three of which feature an incumbent Republican running for re-election.

Stuart City Commissioner backs Toby Overdorf for HD 83

Treasure Coast businessman Toby Overdorf has earned a second endorsement from a Stuart city commission member, as Becky Bruner announced her support for Overdorf’s House District 83 campaign.

Bruner was elected to the Group II Seat last year with 64 percent of the vote. She also owns Becks Fine Furniture in Stuart.

“Toby Overdorf is the right person for the job,” said Bruner in a statement.

“Toby knows this community well and has the right motivation to serve in the Legislature. I’m confident we can count on him to support policies that strengthen our economy, keep taxes low, and protect our rights.”

“I really appreciate Commissioner Bruner’s support,” Overdorf said in response. “She may be relatively new on the City Commission, but she is no stranger to public service, and I look forward to working with her.”

Bruner joins fellow Stuart City Commissioner Troy McDonald in backing Overdorf. Congressman Tom Rooney also recently endorsed Overdorf in the race for the HD 83 Republican nomination.

Overdorf is competing with Sasha Dadan in the Republican primary. Matt Theobald also joined the HD 83 race this week on the Democratic side.

They’re running to replace outgoing Rep. Gayle Harrell, who is term-limited.

HD 83 covers portions of Martin and St. Lucie counties and leans Republican. The primaries will be held Aug. 28, followed by the general election on Nov. 6.

Darryl Block wins AFL-CIO endorsement in HD 29 race

Florida House candidate Darryl Block has received the endorsement of the Florida AFL-CIO heading toward the Democratic Democratic primary to run in House District 29.

It’s the second endorsement Block recently has picked up, following the blessing he received from Democratic state Sen. Victor Torres of Orlando.

Block, a Lake Mary lawyer, social worker and mediator, is battling with Longwood lawyers Tracey Kagan and Patrick Brandt for the August 28 Democratic primary nomination. The prize is the task of facing longtime Republican incumbent state Rep. Scott Plakon in the general election.

In a news release issued by his campaign, Block said he was thrilled to receive the backing of the labor union with more than 1 million members, retirees and their families. Block expressed his commitment to serve working families and veterans and be a strong advocate of employee rights, pay equality, environmental protection, public schools and sensible gun-control legislation, and to advocate for Puerto Ricans in Central Florida.

Block also slammed Plakon for his bill last winter setting new regulations on teachers unions and other public employee unions.

“The action taken this week by the AFL-CIO is just the beginning of our battle to bring fairness and equity to Florida workers, who have been ignored for far too long by a hostile Legislature,” Block stated in the release. “I look forward to joining my fellow progressives in championing workers’ rights in Tallahassee.”

aaron bean

Aaron Bean earns backing of Florida Retail Federation

Republican Sen. Aaron Bean, who faces challengers on all sides in his 2018 re-election bid, got a boost Thursday by way of an endorsement from the Florida Retail Federation.

The retail trade group highlighted the Fernandina Beach lawmaker’s help voting down a bill to increase the “felony threshold limit” — the value of goods an individual must steal before they can be charged with felony theft.

“Senator Bean’s support of Sunshine State retailers has been instrumental particularly in fighting to ensure the felony threshold wasn’t raised and expanding access to healthcare to help protect Florida families,” said FRF President/CEO R. Scott Shalley. “Our members are appreciative of the Senators’ efforts, and we know we can count on his continued support when he returns to the Florida Senate.”

The FRF endorsement also touted Bean’s background in elected office as well as his public service, including holding a board seat with the First Coast YMCA, Big Brothers & Big Sisters and the United Way.

Challenging Bean for the District 4 seat this year are Democrat Billie Bussard, Republican Carlos Slay and Libertarian Joanna Liberty Tavares.

When it comes to Bussard and Tavares, Bean has SD 4’s heavy Republican tilt in his corner. When it comes to Slay, who went negative from the jump, Bean is looking to out-campaign him the old-fashioned way — door knocking and fundraising.

Bean is in good shape on the fundraising front. As of May 31, he had more than $100,000 banked for his campaign with another $72,000 at the ready in his affiliated political committee. None of his opponents have posted a campaign finance report.

Florida Family Action backs Adam Putnam

Republican Adam Putnam received the backing of John Stemberger‘s staunchly-Christian-conservative Florida Family Action as a “distinct honor and privilege” and spoke at least generally about supporting the group’s hardline anti-abortion positions.

At a news conference with board leaders of Florida Family Action and others at Stemberger’s office in Orlando Wednesday, Putnam also stressed his support for the group’s efforts to address human trafficking, children “orphaned” by opioid abuse, and caring for children and families. Putnam also spoke strongly about values, saying “Florida has to be strong inside and out,” and the state needs to “envoke the partnership and leverage the power of the faith-based community.”

For that, he repeated a proposal he made in May to create an “Office of Faith-Based and Community-Based Initiatives” within the governor’s office to work with churches and other faith-based groups on matters ranging from caring for the homeless to storm relief efforts.

Putnam’s proposal was one of the cornerstones of the “First Families Agenda” platform he introduced at the time.

Putnam declined to directly answer questions about whether his positions align with Florida Family Action, and it’s parent organization, the Florida Family Policy Council, on gay rights, a topic that has seen the organizations taking staunch opposition stances against what it calls the “homosexual agenda.” He replied by speaking of the need to defend religious rights, but neither offered support nor opposition to gay marriage or other rights earned or sought by the LGBTQ community and opposed by Florida Family Action.

That organization is the political arm of Stemberger’s Florida Family Policy Council, arguably the state’s leading Christian-conservative political organization.

Putnam claims a lifetime 100 percent National Right to Life rating and a 98 percent Family Research Council rating.

“I believe that we do have to defend and protect life in the state of Florida,” he said.

Stemberger, who also announced his personal endorsement of Putnam, said that was his organization’s impression as well, saying, “We believe he will fight to protect human life at every stage.”

Putnam got the endorsement over his Republican rival U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis after both made presentations in May at the group’s annual gala.

“It’s become clear to us that Adam Putnam is the clear choice for Florida’s future,” Stemberger said. “The next Governor of Florida needs to be a proven leader who knows Florida. No one knows Florida backwards and forwards, policy, people, demographics more than Adam Putnam.”

From the two organizations, Stemberger pledged to aid Putnam with broad support, with help from “thousands, hundreds of thousands of our volunteers statewide, from Pensacola to Miami, to educate and mobilize millions of Christian voters.”

Stembeger added: “He shares our faith and he shares our values, but, just as important, he would respect the right of those that don’t share our faith, and don’t share our values.”

A gay rights question followed, asking Putnam to clarify if his values and positions align with those of Florida Family Action.

“We have to build a state with strong families. It begins with defending life, defending marriage, and supporting the very pillars of our community and our society that allow our community to flourish,” Putnam replied. “That means discrimination ought not to be tolerated, and that includes discrimination toward the pulpit, and towards religious freedom, and religious liberty. And we strive to make sure that no one including our churches are discriminated against.”

Next, Putnam asked if he would support the anti-discrimination against gays bills that have been introduced in the Florida Legislature in recent years, and he replied, “I think it’s important to see what that looks like when it hits the desk. But we, I, am focused on making sure that we protect the balance that doesn’t include discrimination including discrimination against religious liberty.”

Kayser Enneking

Kayser Enneking endorsed by Equality Florida, AFL-CIO

Democrat Kayser Enneking rolled out a one-two punch on the endorsement front this week for her bid to unseat Republican Sen. Keith Perry in Senate District 8.

On Monday evening, the Gainesville physician landed a nod from the political committee tied to LGBTQ rights organization Equality Florida.

“Equality Florida Action PAC endorses Kayser Enneking in the election for Senate District 8,” the group said in a Facebook post. “Kayser is running one of the most competitive challenges to an anti-equality incumbent in the state and has earned a 100 percent score on the Equality Florida Action PAC candidate questionnaire.

“Kayser has committed to fight on day one to pass statewide non-discrimination protections for our community and to preserve marriage equality from attacks. Equality Florida Action PAC is proud to endorse Kayser Enneking in this critical and competitive race for Florida Senate District 8.”

The legislation Equality Florida is referring to would add LGBTQ protections to the 1992 Florida Civil Rights Act. It has been a priority for the group and numerous business interests for years but failed to get a committee hearing in the 2018 Legislative Session.

Enneking accepted the endorsement via Twitter shortly after it rolled out Monday evening.

On Wednesday, the Enneking campaign picked up the endorsement of the Florida AFL-CIO, which represents more than 500 labor unions and 1 million Florida workers.

In addition to the endorsement, a local AFL-CIO-affiliated group plans to hold a canvassing event in the Gainesville-based district in the coming weeks where union members will “be knocking on doors and making sure our members know that Senator Keith Perry is bad for working families and talking about our endorsed candidate Dr. Kayser Enneking.”

Enneking, a first-time candidate, is the leading Democrat running against Perry, who was elected to the Florida Senate two years ago after serving three terms in the Florida House.

Also running for the Democratic nomination is Olysha Magruder, a former schoolteacher who now works for Johns Hopkins University as an instructional designer.

As of May 31, Perry led in fundraising with $411,000 in the bank between his campaign and political committee. Enneking followed with about $306,000 on hand between her two accounts while Magruder started June with a little over $9,000 on hand.

SD 8 is one of a handful of districts that became more favorable to Democrats after the Senate map was redrawn ahead of the 2016 elections.

Despite Democrats holding a 9-point advantage in voter registrations, Perry ended up defeating Democratic nominee Rod Smith, a former state Senator and Florida Democratic Party chair, by 4 points on Election Day. SD 8 also voted in favor of Donald Trump, though by just two-tenths of a point.

Adam Putnam with five county sherriffs

Panhandle sheriffs line up behind Adam Putnam for Governor

Adam Putnam’s gubernatorial campaign announced Wednesday that it had locked down another eight endorsements from Republican county sheriffs.

Included in the new bloc of backers, all of whom hail from the Panhandle, were Walton County Sheriff Mike Adkinson, Okaloosa County Sheriff Larry Ashley, Washington County Sheriff Kevin Crews, Bay County Sheriff Tommy Ford, Gulf County Sheriff Mike Harrison, Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson, Jackson County Sheriff Louis Roberts III and Liberty County Sheriff Eddie Joe White.

 “As a true native Floridian, Adam possesses an undeniable love for the citizens of our great state and has shown it countless times during his career. Adam has supported law enforcement officers even though the political climate has been turned against us in recent years. I support Adam Putnam because I know he will do what is right for the people of Florida,” Johnson said.

All of the Panhandle sheriffs claimed Putnam, a Bartow Republican, was the best choice out of the seven major guv candidates when it comes to public safety, and many of them also stressed the core strengths the Putnam campaign has touted over the past year he’s been in the guv race — that he is both the most experienced and the most “Floridian” candidate running to lead the Sunshine State.

“It is profoundly humbling to have the support of our sheriffs and law enforcement and to have them embrace my Secure Florida First Agenda,” Putnam said in a news release. “To lead Florida, to protect Florida, to keep Florida safe, you must know Florida and you must put Florida first. Today, we recognize that to put Florida first, we have to put law enforcement first.”

The sheriffs announced Wednesday make for 17 backers county lawmen so far, with the nine who announced their support last week hailing from the Tampa Bay region. He has also been endorsed by the Florida Fraternal Order of Police.

Last week’s sheriff nods came with an equal number 30-second videos where each sheriff announced his support and ended with the same campaign catchphrase: “Adam Putnam stands with law enforcement and we stand with Adam Putnam.”

Putnam faces Northeast Florida U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis in the Republican primary. Through May, he was far in the lead, fundraising-wise with more than $30 million raised for his campaign and political committee compared to around $10.8 million for DeSantis, whose total includes $1.1 million he raised for his now-defunct re-election campaign in Florida’s 6th Congressional District.

Running on the Democratic side are Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, former Congresswoman Gwen Graham, Winter Park businessman Chris King, former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene.

The primary election is Aug. 28. The general election is Nov. 6.

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