endorsement Archives - Florida Politics

Donna Shalala will ‘get it done for us,’ say supporters in new ad

Democratic candidate Donna Shalala is letting her supporters make her closing argument to voters in the campaign’s final ad of the 2018 midterm elections.

Shalala is competing for the seat in Florida’s 27th Congressional District against Republican nominee Maria Elvira Salazar and non-party affiliated candidate Mayra Joli.

Shalala’s new spot, titled “Getting It Done for Us,” features multiple supporters of her campaign reading off a list of reasons why they plan to cast their vote for the Democrat. The video cuts between different supporters as they all make their case.

“The only way to take on Donald Trump and change Washington is by electing someone who’s taken on the toughest battles for our community and won,” the various supporters say.

“And that’s Donna Shalala. Donna’s worked to provide health care coverage for millions of children. She’ll break through the gridlock to lower our medical costs under prescription drugs. I’m supporting Donna Shalala. She’ll get it done for us.”

Though the race has been fairly tight throughout the general election, election analysts see Shalala as the favorite, to varying degrees.

The Shalala campaign also announced Friday the support of civil rights leader and Georgia U.S. Rep. John Lewis. Lewis released a statement touching on the recent terror threats from a Trump supporter, as well as the attack on a synagogue in Pittsburgh last week.

“During this moment of fear and hate, Donna Shalala is exactly the leader that South Florida needs in Congress,” Lewis said. “Donna has the experience, leadership and integrity to lead her community through these troubling times. I’m proud to support Donna because as your representative, I am confident she will work every day to live out the age old principle that we are one.”

“Congressman Lewis has been the moral compass of our country for decades and a role model for generations of future leaders,” Shalala said.

“He is a tireless promoter of equality, fairness and justice in America and an outspoken advocate in Congress for those who don’t have a voice. I look forward to the opportunity to join Congressman Lewis in Congress and join his work to expand voting right for all Americans and rid our communities of the senseless gun violence that has torn apart too many South Florida communities.”

‘An important step’: Bernie Sanders backs Amendment 4

On Sunday, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders was the latest in a series of high-profile bipartisan endorsements for  Amendment 4, also known as the “Voting Restoration Amendment,” on the 2018 ballot.

“Amendment 4: In Florida 1.4 million people cannot vote because they have been convicted of a crime, even after they have paid their price to society and completed their sentence. This is a moral abomination that has disenfranchised huge numbers of people — a disproportionate number of those affected are African American — and significant parts of communities,” Sanders said via media release.

“If we want a criminal justice system that rehabilitates people, we need to make sure formerly incarcerated people can fully participate as citizens. Passing this amendment is an important step for both voting rights and criminal justice reform,” Sanders added.

The amendment is seeing backing from the left and right wings of the political spectrum.

The amendment is backed by political committee Floridians for a Fair Democracy, which sponsored the petition and signature verification effort to get the proposal on the 2018 ballot.

In the leadup to the general election, other orgs have pitched in with advertising —  the Alliance for Safety and Justice and the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition recently teamed up for a statewide ad buy. The amendment also recently earned an endorsement from the Koch brothers-backed Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce.

Florida is among the nation’s leaders in voter disenfranchisement that critics say is racist in application. The New York Times reported in 2016 that more than 20 percent of African-American men have been divested of suffrage.

Overall, there are about 1.7 million convicted felons in the Sunshine State. Amendment 4 would restore voting rights to the vast majority of those individuals, though the amendment does carve out those who have been convicted of sex offenses or capital crimes, such as murder.

The current voting rights restoration system requires felons to wait up to seven years after their conviction to apply for restoration, which is handled on a case-by-case basis by the Governor and Cabinet.

Polls have been favorable to the Amendment reaching the 60 percent threshold to pass, including a Siena/NY Times live poll that wrapped Saturday, which showed the measure with 60 percent support and nine percent still undecided.

Amendment 3 is one of a dozen measures that will go before voters in the 2018 general election, including seven amendments placed on the ballot by the Florida Constitution Revision Commission and three by the state Legislature.

Only Amendment 4 and Amendment 3, also known as the “Voter Control of Gambling in Florida” amendment, made the ballot through the petition method.

Environmental group adds support for Lauren Baer bid in CD 18

Environment America Action Fund (EAAF), an environmental group which has supported Democrats in previous election cycles, is now announcing it’s throwing resources behind Lauren Baer‘s bid in Florida’s 18th Congressional District.

The group has pledged to spend more than $1 million across 10 congressional races; hers is one. EAAF says it is targeting races “where voters have a clear choice as to which candidate will best protect our environment.”

EAAF argues one of those races is CD 18: “Protecting the environment is the challenge of our time,” said Jennifer Rubiello, state director for the group’s Florida arm.

“We need to act now, as climate change brings increasingly dangerous hurricanes, sea surge and heat waves to Florida and the administration rolls back clean air and water laws that were passed with broad bipartisan support.”

The group says Baer is better suited to achieve those goals than her Republican opponent, U.S. Rep. Brian Mast.

“Unless we vote in representatives who will provide a strong counterweight to the current administration’s agenda, anti-environmental interests will be emboldened to dismantle even more protections and set us back for decades,” Rubiello added.

Mast, however, has advanced efforts in Congress to tackle the state’s algae problem. But Baer has said those bills aren’t enough, launching an entire website dedicated to arguing that “Brian Mast is toxic.”

Rubiello also had criticism for President Donald Trump‘s record on the environment, arguing it should motivate voters in 2018.

“By a wide margin, the American people reject the Trump administration’s anti-environmental policies,” Rubiello said.

“Never before have so many congressional races exposed a clear contrast for voters who care about the environment. We believe that voters will hold anti-environment incumbents accountable for their dismal voting records and help elect new environmental champions to the House.”

Joe Biden bump? Former VP endorses Donna Shalala

Former Vice President Joe Biden is stepping in to support another South Florida Democrat, announcing his endorsement of Donna Shalala‘s congressional bid.

Shalala is competing against Republican candidate Maria Elvira Salazar and non-party affiliated candidate Mayra Joli in Florida’s 27th Congressional District.

This is the second recent South Florida candidate Biden has backed, after he announced his endorsement of Lauren Baer in Florida’s 18th Congressional District late last month.

Biden has also backed Bill Nelson‘s re-election bid to the U.S. Senate and has supported statewide Democrats as well, endorsing Nikki Fried for Agriculture Commissioner, Sean Shaw for Attorney General, and Andrew Gillum for Governor.

“Few candidates running for Congress have as much experience as Donna Shalala,” Biden said.

“I have worked alongside Donna on many consequential fights over the years. Donna’s a fearless progressive leader who has served our country and the South Florida community with integrity, vigor and passion.

She’s “uniquely qualified to take on the biggest issues facing our communities like health care, gun control and climate change – and she will continue to consistently stand on the side of working families.”

While this is Shalala’s first run for political office, she has been a political player for years, as noted by Biden. Shalala served as Secretary of Health and Human Services under the Bill Clinton administration and has been a longtime ally of the Clintons.

“I’m honored to have the endorsement of Vice President Biden,” Shalala said. “Vice President Biden and I have dedicated our lives to fighting for working families.”

Shalala would welcome any possible bump in what appears to be a close contest between she and Salazar.

The most recent poll of the contest from the New York Times showed Shalala up by 7 points. And while some handicappers give Shalala good odds in the race, others see a smaller lead for the Democrat.

John Morgan endorses Nikki Fried for Agriculture Commissioner

Orlando attorney, entrepreneur and marijuana advocate John Morgan gave his full-throated endorsement to Democrat Nikki Fried in the race for Agriculture Commissioner.

Morgan, a self-made multi-millionaire known for his personal injury law firm’s ubiquitous advertisements, announced his support in a Thursday tweet.

He admitted that the office of Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, a Cabinet-level position, was one he “never cared about — until now.”

Morgan was behind the 2016 state constitutional amendment allowing medical marijuana, and organized the pending lawsuit against state officials to allow medical cannabis to be smoked. A judge allowed it earlier this year; her ruling is on hold while the state appeals.

He also favors full legalization of adult use of marijuana, and has suggested he might fund another initiative for that on the 2020 ballot.

“Maybe it’s just time for full legalization,” Morgan has previously tweeted. “It would pass with flying colors!”

On her website, Fried — a lobbyist who specialized in representing medical marijuana concerns — says she’s running for Agriculture Commissioner “because she saw firsthand how our politicians failed the people with medical marijuana.”

She also said the “Florida Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott have obstructed its implementation and denied access to sick, injured and dying individuals in our state.”

In a video accompanying the tweet, Morgan referred to previous Ag. Commissioners: “In the past, these people oversaw fair rides and citrus, which is now going away fast.”

The citrus industry has been hit by a greening epidemic; the so-far incurable disease attacks the fruit, causing it to turn green and bitter, and eventually killing the tree.

“There is one person running that speaks to marijuana like nobody I’ve ever seen, and her name is Nikki Fried,” Morgan said. “She’s a 21st century candidate in the 21st century.

“The Agriculture Commissioner’s office will become an important one if things go the way I hope they go and the way you hope they go,” he added. “… If you care about what I care about, and that is the legalization of marijuana, the implementation of medical marijuana, and helping many of our citizens get well, … then I hope she has your vote.”

Fried is running against Republican Matt Caldwell, a north Fort Myers state representative, in the November general election.

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endorsements

Florida Retailers recommend bundle of new state representatives

The Florida Retail Federation PAC, the political arm of the state’s retail trade organization, endorsed more than two dozen candidates seeking to earn their first terms in the state House next month.

The bulk of the 26 candidates getting FRF’s seal of approval are seeking open seats in the state House, but a handful of the recommendations went to would-be state Reps. looking to oust incumbents.

“The diversity of these candidates includes some with a direct connection to retail, small business owners, and those new to holding public office, but all are focused on making Florida the most business-friendly state in the nation,” said FRF president and CEO R. Scott Shalley. “Meeting each of these candidates in person has us excited about working with them as members of the Florida House in support of the state’s retail industry.”

Challengers getting the nod: DeLand Republican Elizabeth Fetterhoff, who is seeking the HD 26 seat held by Democratic Rep. Patrick Henry; Orlando Republican Ben Griffin, who is challenging progressive Democratic Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith in HD 49; former Republican Rep. Ray Pilon, who is attempting to win back his old seat from Democratic Rep. Margaret Good; Miami Republican Rosy Palomino, who is challenging Democratic Rep. Nick Duran in HD 105; and Miami Republican Anthony Rodriguez, who is looking to send Democratic Rep. Robert Asencio packing in HD 118.

The other 21 endorsements went to candidates running against fellow fresh faces, and some of the races getting FRF’s attention are among the most hotly contested slated for the general election ballot.

In Orange County’s HD 47, the trade group recommended Winter Haven Republican Stockton Reeves over Anna Eskamani, one of the most promising Democratic state House recruits of the cycle. The pair are competing for the swing seat being vacated by Republican Rep. Mike Miller, who is running for Florida’s 7th Congressional District.

In South Florida, Florida Retailers are putting their weight behind Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca’s bid to keep HD 93 in GOP control. He faces a well-funded challenger in Democratic nominee Emma Collum. Additionally, the PAC is supporting Delray Beach accountant Mike Caruso, also a Republican, in HD 89. He faces Ocean Ridge Mayor Jim Bonfiglio.

The rest of the candidates earning a nod for the Nov. 6 general:

—HD 15: Republican Wyman Duggan

—HD 28: Republican David Smith

—HD 32: Republican Anthony Sabatini

—HD 33: Republican Brett Hage

—HD 37: Republican Adrian Zika

—HD 51: Republican Tyler Sirois

—HD 59: Republican Joe Wicker

—HD 61: Democrat Dianne Hart

—HD 66: Republican Nick DiCeglie

—HD 69: Republican Ray Blacklidge

—HD 71: Republican Will Robinson

—HD 73: Republican Tommy Gregory

—HD 79: Republican Spencer Roach

—HD 81: Democrat Tina Polsky

—HD83: Republican Toby Overdorf

—HD 103: Republican Frank Mingo

—HD 105: Republican Ana Maria Rodriguez

—HD 115: Republican Vance Aloupis

FRIED

Nikki Fried earns Joe Biden’s seal of approval

Democratic Agriculture Commissioner nominee Nikki Fried earned another endorsement from another possible 2020 presidential contender: former Vice President Joe Biden.

The Biden nod got handed down Tuesday afternoon at the “Winning Ticket Rally” in Orlando, where the No. 2 in the Obama administration appeared alongside congressional members Stephanie Murphy and Val Demings, Capt. Mark Kelly and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.

“Nikki Fried will be a great Commissioner of Agriculture and I am proud to support her,” Biden said. “She will ensure complete background checks on gun permits, be a fighter for the farmers who have been left behind under the current trade war, and protect Florida’s waterways for generations to come.”

Biden joins fellow possible 2020 presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts U.S. Senator, in endorsing Fried.

“I’m so thankful to have the support of Vice President Joe Biden — a true statesman and champion for working people,” Fried said. “As Agriculture Commissioner, Florida farmers will have a fighter, standing for them against the disastrous trade war, we will treat our natural lands and waters like the priority they are, and ensure that the people — not the NRA — oversee background checks on gun permits.”

Fried, a lawyer and former medical marijuana lobbyist, was a late entrant in the Agriculture Commissioner contest but easily emerged from the three-way Democratic nominating contest with a supermajority of the vote.

She faces state Rep. Matt Caldwell, a Lehigh Acres Republican, in the general election.

Caldwell has brought in more than $4.3 million for his bid between his campaign account and an affiliated political committee known as Friends of Matt Caldwell, though he expended much of his war chest during the contentious primary contest to replace term-limited Adam Putnam.

 As of Oct. 12, he had more than $1.22 million of those funds in the bank.

Fried, who wasn’t forced to expend much in the August contest, has raised close to $1.1 million between her hard money account and her political committee, Florida Consumers First. She had about $132,000 on hand at the close of the most recent reporting period.

The general election is Nov. 6.

endorsements

Florida Retailers endorse five fresh faces for Florida Senate

The Florida Retail Federation on Tuesday endorsed five non-incumbent Republicans running for Florida Senate seats in November’s elections, including one who is looking to unseat an incumbent Democrat.

Among the five candidates getting the nod was Tommy Wright, the newly anointed nominee for Senate District 14. The New Smyrna Beach businessman was selected for the nomination after longtime lawmaker Dorothy Hukill died earlier this month at the age of 72.

FRF’s Tuesday announcement also reiterated its endorsement for former Clearwater Republican Rep. Ed Hooper, who is competing against former New Port Richey Democratic Rep. Amanda Murphy to take over the vacant SD 16. FRF originally endorsed Hooper, who faced a light challenge in the primary, back in early July.

“We’re excited about the positive impact these new candidates will have as senators in supporting Florida’s retail industry and encouraging business growth in our state,” said FRF president and CEO R. Scott Shalley. “Our team has met with each of these candidates, many of whom we’ve worked with in the past, and we feel confident they’ll have the best interests of our members and business owners at heart during their time in the Florida Senate.”

The other candidates earning an endorsement: Republican Rep. Ben Albritton, who is running to replace Sebring Sen. Denise Grimsley in SD 26; Hialeah Rep. Manny Diaz Jr., who is up against Democrat David Perez, a former firefighter, in SD 36; and Marili Cancio, who is looking to oust first-term Democratic Sen. Annette Taddeo in SD 40.

Of the five candidates, Albritton and Wright are running in two of the friendliest districts for GOP candidates — Trump carried both seats by double digits two years ago.

Hooper, meanwhile, is in a dogfight with Murphy while Diaz is running in a district that has favored down-ballot Republicans but went plus-14 for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Cancio’s bid may be the hardest, however, with Taddeo having the both the benefit of incumbency.

The new batch of FRF Senate endorsements follows the trade group’s bulk endorsement of Senate incumbents last week. Making that list: Republican Sens. Dennis BaxleyAaron BeanGeorge GainerTom LeeKathleen PassidomoKeith PerryWilton SimpsonKelli Stargel, and Dana Young, as well as Democratic Sen. Bobby Powell.

Election Day is Nov. 6.

endorsements

Florida Realtors endorse four more state legislative candidates

Florida Realtors PAC, the political arm of the state’s largest trade organization, announced Friday that it had endorsed four more candidates seeking election to the state legislature this year.

The nods went to four Republican candidates for the state House: Chuck Brannan, who is seeking to replace term-limited Rep. Elizabeth Porter in HD 10; Anthony Sabatini, the GOP nominee for HD 32; Mike Beltran, who is looking to replace exiting Rep. Jake Raburn in HD 59; and Ray Blacklidge, who is in a tough contest with St. Pete Democrat Jennifer Webb in HD 69.

The announcement marks the “fourth wave” of state legislative endorsements handed out by the Florida Realtors. The group has previously endorsed 108 legislative candidates running in the 115 elections that were not decided at the close of the candidate qualifying period in June.

Florida Realtors PAC has had to make some adjustments to its list of endorsements. In the “first wave” the trade group backed Marc Vann for HD 10 and Jeremy Bailie for HD 69, and in the “second wave” the PAC endorsed Shannon Elswick for HD 32. Sean McCoy earned the Florida Realtors backing in the “third wave.”

The trade association has also issued recommendations for four contenders in the statewide races for Governor, Agriculture Commissioner, Attorney General and Chief Financial Officer.

Election Day is Nov. 6.

Joe Biden plans trio of Florida rallies next week

Former Vice President Joe Biden will make three stops in the Sunshine State early next week to rally for Democrats up and down the ballot.

At noon Monday, the Delaware Democrat will be in Tampa holding a get-out-the-vote rally alongside U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, Attorney General hopeful Sean Shaw and nearby Congressman Charlie Crist. That’s at the University of South Florida’s East Gym, 12301 USF Maple Drive, Tampa. Doors open at 10:30 a.m.

At 3:45 p.m. on Monday, Biden, Gillum and Nelson will headline a similar rally in Jacksonville, this time joined by local congressional candidate Nancy Soderberg. That’s at the University of North Florida Field House, 11852 University of North Florida Drive, Jacksonville. Doors open at 3:45 p.m.

Capping off the two-day circuit is a 3:45 p.m. rally on Tuesday in Orlando. Gillum, the Tallahassee Mayor, will not be present, although Biden will be joined by Nelson and Democratic Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy, along with Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. That’s at the Cheyenne Saloon, 128 W Church St, Orlando.

A news release announcing the appearances notes that Biden will make stops at college campuses “to encourage young people to vote early, and promote Democrats up-and-down the ballot.” It also highlights that early voting begins in Hillsborough, Duval and Pinellas counties on Monday.

“This election is a battle for the soul of America, and Florida has the chance to decide the future of this country. I am honored to stand with Senator Bill Nelson and Mayor Andrew Gillum as they work to restore our nation’s democracy,” said Vice President Biden. “The stakes couldn’t be higher in 2018. We need Floridian’s voices to be heard at the polls this fall, and that starts with early voting.”

Biden earlier this week endorsed Shaw, the Democratic Attorney General candidate. He has also offered support for candidates running in special elections during the past two years, even going as far as recording robocalls to go out ahead of February’s House District 72 race, which saw Democrat Margaret Good secure an upset victory.

It’s no secret that Biden, who served two terms under former President Barack Obama, is mulling his own presidential bid in 2020. And there’s an emerging trend of other presidential potentials making headlines in Florida this cycle. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg made his rounds through South Florida earlier this month. Another national Democratic figure, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, endorsed Democratic Agriculture Commissioner candidate Nikki Fried earlier this week.

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