endorsement – Page 3 – Florida Politics

State teachers’ union endorses Gwen Graham

The Florida Education Association is backing Democrat Gwen Graham, a former schools’ counsel in Leon County, for governor.

 “Supporting Gwen Graham is an easy choice for anyone concerned about Florida’s schools. She is the public education dream candidate,” FEA president Joanne McCall stated in a letter to members Thursday night. “She supports increasing salaries for educators and wants to ensure that lottery money actually goes toward educational enhancements.”

All four campaigning Democrats have made those pledges, with Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum going so far as to pledge a minimum $50,000 starting salary. Winter Park entrepreneur Chris King and former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine also have made detailed pledges. Jeff Greene continues to pursue the silent phase of his fledgling campaign.

The leading Republicans, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, had no shot at the FEA endorsement.

Graham has pushed public education investments and improvements as her top priority since entering the race 13 months ago, and has held a series of roundtable discussions with teachers around the state. She’s also a former PTA president, and she began the WorkDays portion of her campaign at Miami Carol City Senior High School.

The Florida Education Association, with its 140,000 Florida teachers and school support professionals members, has long been a potent force in Democratic Party politics.

“Since beginning my campaign with a workday at Miami Carol City Senior High School, I have heard from countless educators, students and parents ready for a change in Tallahassee,” Graham said. “Earning the support of Florida’s teachers and school support professionals means the world to me. When I am governor, they will finally have a voice in the Governor’s Office. Together, we will end high-stakes testing, increase educators’ salaries, and restore our promise to Florida’s public schools.”

Sean Shaw

Teachers union backing Sean Shaw for Attorney General

State Rep. Sean Shaw added another major endorsement Thursday in his campaign to replace termed-out Attorney General Pam Bondi in the fall.

The Florida Education Association, the state’s largest teacher union, said the Democratic lawmaker had “proven himself a friend of public education” during the two sessions he’s represented his Tampa-based district in the Florida House.

Shaw was one of a dozen House Democrats to earn top marks in the FEA’s recent “report cards” measuring legislators’ support for issues affecting public schools.

“We look forward to lending our support to an individual who believes in public education and will use the office of attorney general to support strong public schools,” FEA President Joanne McCall said

FEA’s endorsement comes a couple days after the Florida Young Democrats named Shaw as their pick in the Cabinet race. He’s also snagged endorsements from three state attorneys and the Florida Police Benevolent Association.

Shaw is the likely Democratic nominee for Attorney General, though he must first defeat Ryan Torrens in the primary before he earns his spot on the November ballot.

Through April, he had more than $300,000 on hand between his campaign and committee, Sean Shaw for Florida. Torrens has yet to post a breakout fundraising report after more than a year in the race. He had raised $100,000 and had less than $5,000 banked at the end of April.

Running on the Republican side are former circuit court judge Ashley Moody and state Reps. Jay Fant and Frank White.

The primary election is Aug. 28.

Patrick Murphy: ‘I’m proud to support Gwen’

Patrick Murphy is out, and he’s supporting Gwen Graham.

The Democratic former congressman made it official Thursday afternoon when he announced he was dropping his ambition to run for governor and support his former congressional colleague instead.

Murphy joined Graham at a press conference in Pembroke Pines Thursday afternoon to essentially declare that she already is the kind of candidate he wanted to run as. For months Murphy had preached the need for a more moderate, anti-hyper-partisan gubernatorial candidate and was considering taking that lane himself,  in a run that would have had him include Republican former U.S. Rep. David Jolly as a running mate.

“I have decided not to enter the race for governor because there is one Democratic candidate already demonstrating the leadership Florida needs and fighting for the values we share — and that Democrat is Gwen Graham,” Murphy stated in a news release issued by Graham’s campaign. “I’m proud to support Gwen because she’s determined to expand access to affordable health care in Florida, will always stand up to protect Florida’s environment, and will finally give our public schools the attention and leadership our children, families and teachers deserve.”

Murphy served four years in Congress representing Palm Beach and Martin counties in Florida’s 18th Congressional District. He lost that seat when he ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate against Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio in 2016. Jolly also briefly had been in that race, but dropped out before the Republican primary.

Murphy’s support helps solidify Graham’s quest for the more moderate lane in an August Democratic primary race that also includes Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, Winter Park entrepreneur Chris King, and Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene.

“I’m proud to call Patrick Murphy a close friend and am honored to have his support. In Congress, we worked together to ban oil drilling off Florida’s beaches and to restore the Everglades,” Graham stated in the release. “I was proud to support him in his campaign against Marco Rubio and, as governor, I will work with Patrick to restore our promise to public schools, protect our environment and build an economy that works for every Floridian.”


Victor Torres endorses David Richardson for CD 27

Another member of the Florida Legislature is endorsing Democrat David Richardson is his bid for Florida’s 27th Congressional District.

State Sen. Victor Torres, who represents Senate District 15, became the latest to support Richardson’s efforts for the Democratic nomination; it brings the total number of state lawmakers backing his congressional campaign to 18.

In his announcement of the endorsement, Torres focused working with his colleague to draft universal health care bill.

“This year, State Representative David Richardson and I worked on a Medicare-for-All bill for the State of Florida that we believed would change the lives of millions of Floridians,” Torres said.

“Although the GOP refused to bring the bill to a vote, David has continued his fight by campaigning on Medicare-for-All nationwide. That type of progressive spirit and his history as an effective legislator demonstrate that he will be an effective Congressman for FL-27. As such, I’m proud to endorse his campaign for Congress.”

Richardson also recently received endorsements from the Florida LGBTA Democratic Caucus and the Progressive Democrats of America.

“I am proud to receive the endorsement of Senator Torres, and I will work every day to take our fight for Medicare-for-All to Washington,” Richardson said in response to the news.

“It is encouraging to see my peers in Tallahassee rally around my progressive campaign for Congress during the Democratic primary. Their endorsements add even more support for the progressive policy platform I’ve campaigned on since day one.”

Richardson is competing for the Democratic nod against Matt HaggmanMichael HepburnKristen Rosen Gonzalez, and Donna Shalala. The winner will get a chance to take the CD 27 seat from Republicans, as current Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen announced she would not run for re-election after this term.

The CD 27 primary is August 28.

Mike Miller picks up Carlton Henley’s endorsement in CD 7 race

Winter Park Republican Mike Miller is adding the endorsement of longtime Seminole County Commissioner Carlton Henley in the race for Florida’s 7th Congressional District.

Miller, who currently represents the Orlando-area House District 47, faces an August 28 GOP primary battle with Scott Sturgill and Vennia Francois. The winner expects to take on incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy in November.

“It is going to take a strong candidate to take this seat back, but I believe Mike is the best person to do just that,” Henley in a news release issued Thursday by Miller’s campaign. “It is important that the residents of Seminole County have someone who will represent our conservative values and protect our way of life,” he continued. “I am supporting Mike because he values education, as I do, and believes our local leaders are the best ones to make decisions for our schools. He will represent us well in Washington,” Henley concluded.

CD 7 covers Seminole County and north and central Orange County.

Henley, a retired schoolteacher and principal, has been on the Seminole County Commission since 1998. He is not running for re-election this year.

“There are not many who have served Seminole County longer than Commissioner Henley,” Miller stated in the release. “I have worked with him over the years on regional transportation issues and he always has his constituents’ needs front and center. I appreciate his confidence in me and am honored to have his support.”

Florida retailers endorse Dennis Baxley for re-election to SD 12

The Florida Retail Federation on Thursday endorsed Ocala Republican Sen. Dennis Baxley’s bid for a second term in Senate District 12.

“Senator Baxley has made tremendous strides in helping to protect retailers by supporting legislation on limiting organized retail crime and by not increasing the felony threshold limit,” said FRF president and CEO R. Scott Shalley. “We’re eager to see the continued progress Senator Baxley makes in his return to the Florida Senate.”

The failure of a bill to increase the “felony threshold limit” — the value of goods an individual must steal before they can be charged with felony theft — was one of the retail trade group’s top successes in the 2018 Legislative Session. The bill died in committee, however, Baxley voted in favor of the measure when it came before the Senate Criminal Justice Committee according to Senate vote records.

Baxley served seven terms in the Florida House, taking a break from 2010 to 2012 due to term limits, before he was elected to Senate District 12 in 2016. The Ocala funeral director faces fellow Republican Keasha Gray and Democrat Gary Philip McKechnie this cycle.

As of April 30, Baxley had raised $158,450 for his campaign and had $112,500 on hand. He also has another $20,000 or so in an affiliated political committee, Floridians for a Strong Economy, though he’s been using that fund more to boost the campaign accounts of other Republican lawmakers than as an auxiliary for his own re-election effort.

McKechnie has $27,250 on hand and Gray has $1,100.

SD 12 covers parts of Lake and Marion counties as well as the whole of Sumter County. There are about 50 percent more registered Republican voters in the district than Democratic ones. Baxley was only opposed by a write-in in 2016, the same cycle the district went plus-30 for Donald Trump.

Matt Caldwell announces Seminole County ‘sweep’

Lehigh Acres Republican Rep. Matt Caldwell rolled out another cache of endorsements for his Agriculture Commissioner campaign Wednesday.

The bulk endorsement included nine county and municipal officials, including four Seminole County constitutional officers in what the campaign called a “sweep” of the Central Florida county.

That’s a fair assessment considering the list included Sheriff Dennis Lemma, Property Appraiser David Johnson, Tax Collector Joel Greenberg, Clerk of Circuit Court Grant Maloy. The only name missing from the set is Supervisor of Elections Mike Ertel.

The remainder of Wednesday’s backers hailed from Okaloosa. Those pols were County Commissioner Graham Fountain, Undersheriff Steven Harker, Crestview Mayor David Earl Cadle, former Crestview Mayor Jerry Milligan and Laurel Hill City Councilmember Scott Monnypenny.

“I’m grateful that these leaders are supporting our campaign to serve as Florida’s next Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services,” Caldwell said. “Since announcing our candidacy one year ago, we have traveled over 65,000 miles across Florida to talk to voters and share our conservative message, and we will continue to outwork our opponents and unite Floridians across the state. We are the only campaign running a truly statewide race and we will continue that same work ethic and statewide focus when elected.”

The Wednesday endorsements were billed as the “eleventh wave” for the Caldwell campaign. Past waves include House Republicans in the PanhandleNortheast Florida, Central Florida, Southwest Florida and South Florida delegations. He has also snagged nods from the Florida Police Benevolent Association, the Associated Builders and Contractors of Florida, U.S. Congressmen Matt Gaetz and Francis Rooney, and one-time primary rival Paul Paulson.

Caldwell is currently in his fourth term representing Lee County based House District 79 where he has in the past chaired subcommittees and committees related to agriculture and natural resources. Though a real estate appraiser by trade, his family has a long history in Florida agriculture.

He faces Sebring Sen. Denise Grimsley, retired U.S. Army Col. Mike McCalister, and former Winter Haven Rep. Baxter Troutman in the Republican Primary. Also running for the Cabinet post are Democrats Jeffrey Duane Porter and R. David Walker.

The primary election is Aug. 28.

Jason Pizzo

Jason Pizzo gets Equality Florida’s stamp of approval in SD 38

Jason Pizzo’s insurgent Democratic primary campaign against Miami Sen. Daphne Campbell picked up another major backer Wednesday: LGBTQ rights group Equality Florida.

The nod was delivered by former state Rep. Joe Saunders, who resumed his job as the organization’s political director after leaving office.

“The Equality Florida Action PAC endorsement is a recognition of the competitive campaign that Jason Pizzo is running, his record of service, and his belief that his election will have a positive impact on the lives of LGBTQ Floridians. I thank him for his commitment to our community and for being willing to step up to serve,” Saunders said.

Equality Florida’s backing comes on the heels a couple other big gets for Pizzo, a former prosecutor. Last week Miami Gardens Democratic Rep. Barbara Watson and public employee union AFSCME both announced they were supporting the North Miami Beach Democrat’s second bid for Senate District 38.

“In Florida, no one should have to fear losing their job or being denied benefits for loving who they love or being who they are. I thank Equality Florida for their trust in our campaign and I look forward to working with them to codify protections for every resident of our state. I’m more committed than ever to the fight for full equality and rolling back laws that unfairly target our LGBTQ neighbors,” Pizzo said.

It doesn’t take a cipher to crack the code in this endorsement, nor Pizzo’s acceptance.

Campbell is one of the most conservative Democrats in the Florida Legislature when it comes to social issues. For one, she’s pro-life, and while the 2018 Legislative Session didn’t grant her an opportunity to cast a vote on bills to include LGBT protections under the 1992 Florida Civil Rights Act — the legislation Pizzo is invoking — she has in the past won the support of the Christian Family Coalition, which is against gay rights.

The bulk of Campbell’s 2018 backers have been her Democratic colleagues in the Legislature. The count stands at 12 so far, including an endorsement from incoming Senate Minority Leader Audrey Gibson.

Campbell and Pizzo are currently the only two candidates in contention for the Democratic stronghold, though until the qualifying period ends in a couple of weeks, there’s a chance an unaffiliated or other-party candidate enters the race and shuts down the Dem primary.

The primary election is Aug. 28.

Darren Soto picks up nods from fire fighters, police unions

Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto has received the endorsements of two first-responders unions, for firefighters and law-enforcement officers, his campaign announced Tuesday.

The Orlando Professional Fire Fighters International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1365 and the Central Florida Police Benevolent Association have each endorsed Congressman Darren Soto for re-election in Florida’s 9th Congressional District.

Soto faces a tough primary battle against his predecessor, former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, who’s seeking to take back the seat he held from 2013-’16. They face off in the August 28 Democratic primary, with the winner going on to face Saint Cloud businessman Wayne Liebnitzky in the November election.

The district covers south Orange County, Osceola County, and east  Polk County.

“Law enforcement officers in Central Florida have no better friend than Darren,” Central Florida PBA Political Director Ron Beardslee stated in a news release issued by Soto’s re-election campaign. “He understands what it takes to protect and serve the people, and he fights to get us what we need. Whether it’s getting us funding for our officers and staff, equipment to do the job, or keeping guns away from dangerous people, Soto has our back. And we’ll have his. The Central Florida PBA is proud to endorse Congressman Darren Soto for re-election.”

In the same release, Fire Fighters Local 1365 President Ronald Glass called Soto, “an experienced public servant with a clear vision for the needs of Firefighters and the citizens of Orlando alike.” In Tallahassee, Soto advocated for the families of fallen firefighters, passing legislation to provide a death benefit and health insurance to those families when their loved one died in a training exercise.

Stuart city commissioner backs Toby Overdorf in HD 83 race

Treasure Coast businessman Toby Overdorf added another endorsement in his bid for House District 83, pulling in support from Stuart City Commissioner Troy McDonald.

The announcement comes on the heels of an endorsement from Port St. Lucie Councilwoman Stephanie Morgan, who announced her support for Overdorf late last week.

“There’s no question that Toby Overdorf is the right choice for District 83,” said McDonald, who has served on the Stuart City Commission since 2011. “He is a strong leader and has the conservative vision and values we need to keep Florida strong. I look forward to working with him.”

McDonald is also vice president of the Board of Business Development of Martin County and a board member of Redeem the Shadows, a nonprofit that works on preventing human trafficking.

Overdorf is battling Sasha Dadan for the Republican nomination in HD 83. The race will be open as current Rep. Gayle Harrell is term-limited. Harrell has held the seat since it was redrawn in 2012.

The seat leans Republican and covers parts of Martin and St. Lucie counties. Only Tiffany Parisi has filed to run as a Democrat.

In a statement following McDonald’s endorsement, Overdorf said, “I am honored to have Commissioner McDonald on our team. His leadership has been behind significant improvements in our community, and I look forward to continuing to work with public servants like him.”

Overdorf currently serves as the chair of the Martin County Republican Party.

The HD 83 primary will be held on August 28. The winners will then face off November 6 in the general election.

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