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Denise Grimsley scores 32 endorsements from current and former lawmakers

Agriculture Commissioner candidate Denise Grimsley got the nod from a large contingency of her colleagues in the Florida Legislature Monday, adding another 32 backers just days after she announced three dozen endorsements from local elected officials from all corners of the Sunshine State.

Grimsley, a Sebring Republican, has been a member of the state Legislature since 2004, first as a member of the Florida House and, since 2012, as a member of the Florida Senate. She currently represents District 26, which covers all of DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Highlands and Okeechobee counties as well as parts of Charlotte, Lee and Polk counties.

The bulk nod included a baker’s dozen of backers who are currently serving alongside Grimsley: Sens. Dennis Baxley, Aaron Bean, Anitere Flores, George Gainer, Rene Garcia, Dorothy Hukill, Debbie Mayfield, David Simmons, Kelli Stargel and Reps. Sam Killebrew, Cary Pigman, Elizabeth Porter and Charlie Stone

The nine current senators announced today join incoming Senate President Bill Galvano and Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson, making for half of the Republican Senators not named “Grimsley” backing her campaign. Grimsley’s chief rival in the Republican primary, Lehigh Acres Rep. Matt Caldwell, has landed loads of support from his House colleagues, but has only earned one endorsement from a sitting Republican Senator: St. Pete Sen. Jeff Brandes.

Also adding their names to the pile were 19 former lawmakers, all but five of whom served alongside Grimsley for at least a couple years of her tenure in Tallahassee, including former House Speakers Allan Bense, Dean Cannon, Larry Cretul, H. Lee Moffitt; former Sens. Ellyn Bogdanoff, Charlie Dean, Pat Neal and Miguel Diaz de la Portilla; as well as former Reps. Kim Berfield, Marti Coley, Faye Culp, Frank Farkas, Mark Flanagan, James Frishe, Kurt Kelly, Dick Kravitz, Dave Murzin, Mark Ogles and Joseph Spratt.

“During my time in the Florida Senate and Florida House of Representatives, I have met or worked with many of these Senators and Representatives while serving our Sunshine State,” Grimsley said. “We have worked together to make this the best state in the nation to live, work and play; and, I am grateful for their support of my campaign.

“With my diverse background raising cattle, growing citrus, helping people, running a business and managing a budget, paired with my dedication to solving problems that face Florida, I know I am the most qualified and best candidate in this race; and, I look forward to the opportunity to continue my work serving Floridians as their Commissioner of Agriculture,” she said.

Grimsley has surged in endorsements over the past several weeks. Outside of the 66 endorsements she’s announced since Friday, she has the support of 36 current county sheriffs — seven Democratic and 29 Republican — as well as numerous statewide organizations, including the Fraternal Order of Police, Florida Professional Firefighter, Florida Realtors and the Florida Medical Association, among many others.

Caldwell and Grimsley are running alongside retired U.S. Army Col. Mike McCalister and former Winter Haven Rep. Baxter Troutman in the Republican primary.

Through Aug. 3, Grimsley leads in true fundraising with $2.65 million in outside cash raised since she entered the race in February 2017. She also currently holds the cash lead with more than $1.1 million in the bank between her campaign account and two political committees, Saving Florida’s Heartland and Let’s Grow Florida.

Caldwell, meanwhile, has also broken the $2 million mark since entering the race in April 2017 and had a little over $1 million in the bank at last check-in.

Troutman, however, has pumped $3 million into his campaign fund and raised about $500,000, though his high burn rate has left him with just $322,500 on hand as of Aug. 3. McCalister, for his part, has raised just $22,604, including nearly $19,000 in candidate loans.

The winner of the Aug. 28 Republican primary will move on to November when they’ll face one of three Democrats: Nikki FriedJeffrey Porter or Roy David Walker.

Gwen Graham seeks Parrothead vote with Jimmy Buffett endorsement

Gwen Graham is going after votes in Margaritaville: Musician and environmentalist Jimmy Buffett says he’s backing Graham’s gubernatorial campaign.

The campaign announced the endorsement by Buffett on Monday.

“Like her dad, Gwen will put the interests of everyday Floridians first,” Buffett said in a statement. “She has a heart for people and a passion for the Sunshine State.

“She’ll protect our precious natural environment, ensure we have strong public schools and affordable health care. It’s been too long since we have had a Governor for all the people.”

Buffett has been a staple in Florida since moving to Key West in the 1970s.

He is best known for hits such as “Cheeseburger in Paradise” and “Margaritaville.” The latter song has been brought to life in the form of a restaurant chain, as well as a resort on Hollywood Beach in South Florida.

In addition to his lengthy music career, Buffett has also donated his time and resources to charity work, focusing on the environment and disaster relief programs.

“Jimmy isn’t just a legendary musician, he is also a dedicated environmentalist who has worked with my family for years to preserve Florida’s natural treasures,” Graham said.

“I am proud to have earned his vote on Election Day. Come that Tuesday, it’ll be alright.”

Graham is competing for the Democratic nomination with Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene, Winter Park entrepreneur Chris King, and former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine.

In addition to the endorsement, Buffett is set to play a “Get Out the Vote” rally for Graham on Aug. 23, just five days before the Democratic primary.

The campaign said details about the event, which will be in South Florida, would be released in the coming days.

White TV ad

Frank White ad sees sheriffs tout him as a ‘conservative we can trust’

Attorney General candidate Frank White is rolling out a new TV ad Monday saying he, not fellow Republican Ashley Moody, has a record county sheriffs can trust.

The 30-second ad, titled “Florida Sheriffs Support Frank White,” apes a recent TV ad by Moody by bringing in some backup from county sheriffs who are backing his campaign. Moody, a former circuit court judge and prosecutor, touted her law endorsement endorsements and another from Attorney General Pam Bondi, in an ad released last week.

White’s handful of sheriff backers were used to the same effect in the new spot.

“Florida Sheriffs agree that for Attorney General, Frank White has the conservative record we can trust,” a narrator says before three county sheriffs — Escambia Sheriff David Morgan, Okaloosa Sheriff Larry Ashley and Santa Rosa Sheriff Bob Johnson — split the next three lines of the script.

“That’s why Frank White stood with President [Donald] Trump against illegal immigration and voted to outlaw sanctuary cities in Florida. And why Frank has the highest NRA A+ rating for defending the Second Amendment. Frank White has worked with us in law enforcement to increase penalties on child predators and strengthen the death penalty,” the sheriffs say.

“Frank White. Tough. Effective. Conservative. For Attorney General,” the narrator says in closing.

The ad is the latest in a string of ads the White campaign has released since early June, when he kicked off an 80-day advertising plan with a $1 million ad buy well before the “lowest unit rate” rule kicked in 45 days out from Aug. 28 primary election.

If polls are any indication, White’s strategy is paying off. A recent measure from St. Pete Polls shows him with a double-digit lead over Moody among likely Republican primary voters, and his lead is similarly high among each slice of the GOP electorate barring Hispanic Republicans and those living in South Florida.

Still, two weeks are left, and Moody’s campaign has shown no signs of slowing down.

For the week of July 28 through Aug. 3, she added another $233,630 between her campaign and political committee, Friends of Ashley Moody, while White tacked on $106,000 between his campaign accounts and United Conservatives political committee.

As it stands, Moody has brought in more than $3.86 million between the two accounts and had $1.43 million in the bank on Aug. 3. White, who has put $2.77 million of his own money behind his bid and has received at least $400,000 from his family, has a to-date total of 4.64 million with $1.18 million at the ready.

The winner of the Aug. 28 primary election will likely face Tampa Democratic Rep. Sean Shaw in November.  A pair of polls, now somewhat stale, showed Shaw with an edge no matter which Republican he faces on Election Day.

For his part, Shaw showed $115,885 received in his new report. He has now raised more than $1.15 million since entering the race early this year and had $676,795 in the bank on Aug. 3.

White’s ad is below.

Denise Grimsley adds dozens of local endorsements for Ag. Commish bid

Sebring Sen. Denise Grimsley expanded her list of backers in her statewide bid for Agriculture Commissioner on Friday with a bulk endorsement from three dozen local elected officials from all corners of the state.

The additions came in from mayors across the I-4 corridor, from Temple Terrace to Melbourne; school superintendents stretching from Gulf to Hendry; tax collectors in from the Panhandle to the Treasure Coast; school board members from Duval on one end of I-10 to Okaloosa on the other; county clerks spanning from Suwanee to Martin; and county commissioners from the Florida-Georgia line in Baker to the top of the peninsula in Miami-Dade.

“Florida’s next Commissioner of Agriculture will not only work alongside the Governor and other members of the Cabinet, but local leaders as well, which is why I am proud that so many public servants have lent me their support and endorsement,” Grimsley said.

“I look forward to continuing to work with local elected leaders, who play such a vital role in their communities and Florida, if elected Florida’s next Commissioner of Agriculture. Together, we can further our collective mission of making Florida flourish for generations to come,” she continued.

“As Florida’s next Commissioner of Agriculture, I will utilize the sum of my experiences that I gained as a farmer, nurse, hospital administrator and running a small business to advocate on behalf of the agriculture industry, as well as Florida consumers,” she concluded.

If in addition to those 34 pols, Grimsley added another pair to the already well-stocked quiver of county sheriff endorsements: Hamilton County Sheriff J. Harrell Reid and former Highlands County Sheriff Susan Benton.

For those keeping score at home, that makes for 36 sitting county lawmen — seven Democratic and 29 Republican — backing her bid in the four-way Republican primary to succeed Adam Putnam, who is term-limited and running in the Republican primary for Governor.

Grimsley has been a member of the state Legislature since 2004, first as a member of the Florida House and, since 2012, as a member of the Florida Senate. She currently holds the District 26 seat, which covers all of DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Highlands and Okeechobee counties as well as parts of Charlotte, Lee and Polk counties.

She’s up against Lehigh Acres Rep. Matt Caldwell, retired U.S. Army Col. Mike McCalister and former Winter Haven Rep. Baxter Troutman in the Aug. 28 primary race.

Grimsley has raised $2.65 million since declaring for the race in February 2017 and currently holds the cash lead with more than $1.1 million in the bank between her campaign and political committees, Saving Florida’s Heartland and Let’s Grow Florida. Caldwell, meanwhile, has raised $2 million since entering the race in April 2017 and has $1.07 million on hand between his campaign and political committee, Friends of Matt Caldwell.

Troutman, however, has pumped $3 million into his campaign fund and raised about $500,000, though his high burn rate has left him with just $315,000 on hand heading into the last leg of the race. McCalister, for his part, has yet to hit $25,000 raised for his effort, even with nearly $19,000 in candidate loans.

The winner of the Republican nomination will be on the November ballot alongside one of three Democrats: Nikki Fried, Jeffrey Porter and Roy David Walker.

The full list of Grimsley’s new endorsements is below:

—Melbourne Mayor Kathy Meehan

—San Antonio Mayor pro tempore and Parks Commissioner Elayne Bassinger

—Seminole Mayor and Former House Speaker pro tempore Leslie Waters

—Temple Terrace Mayor Mel Jurado

—Winter Park Mayor Steve Leary

—Calhoun County Superintendent of Schools Ralph Yoder

—Glades County Superintendent of Schools Scott Bass

—Gulf County Superintendent of Schools Jim Norton

—Hendry County Superintendent of Schools Paul Puletti

—Pasco County Superintendent of Schools Kurt Browning

—Suwannee County Superintendent of Schools Ted Roush

—Brevard County Tax Collector Lisa Cullen

—Hendry County Tax Collector Pat Langford

—Indian River Tax Collector Carole Jean Jordan

—Lake County Tax Collector Bob McKee

—Okaloosa County Tax Collector Benjamin Anderson

—Pasco County Tax Collector and former state Rep. Mike Fasano

—Calhoun County Property Appraiser Carla T. Peacock

—Duval County School Board Member Becki Couch

—Duval County School Board Member Lori Hershey

—Highlands County School Board Member Donna Howerton

—Okaloosa County School Board Member Tim Bryant

—Hamilton County Sheriff J. Harrell Reid

—Highlands County Former Sheriff Susan Benton

—Martin County Clerk of Court Carolyn Timmann

—Pasco County Clerk of Court Paula O’Neil

—Suwannee County Clerk of Court Barry Baker

—Baker County Commissioner James Croft

—Clay County Commissioner Mike Cella

—Hardee County Commissioner Colon Lambert

—Hardee County Commissioner Rick Knight

—Highlands County Commissioner Don Elwell

—Indian River County Commissioner Peter O’Bryan

—Indian River County Commissioner Tim Zorc

—Miami-Dade County Commissioner Esteban Bovo

—Pasco County Commissioner Kathryn Starkey

Joy Goff-Marcil endorsed by Alex Sink

Democratic Florida House of Representatives candidate Joy Goff-Marcil has received the endorsement of former Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink in the House District 30 race.

“Joy has served her hometown of Maitland thoughtfully as their Vice Mayor and on the council where she had to tackle difficult decisions. She did so by asking the right questions and by making her vote about her entire community, not just a few voices. We need that call to action at the state level,” the Democrats’ 2010 gubernatorial nomineee stated in a news release issued by Goff-Marcil’s campaign.

“Joy is someone who will represent the interests of all of us, not just special interests. I applaud her passion for public education, clean waterways, sensible gun legislation and small businesses. I know with her ability to work with all sides we will take back our state and put all Floridians first again,” Sink added.

Goff-Marcil, a member of the Maitland City Council, is in an Aug. 28 Democratic primary battle with Clark Anderson of Winter Park and Brendan Ramirez of Orlando for the nomination to run in HD 30 against Republican incumbent state Rep. Bob Cortes of Altamonte Springs. The district straddles the countyline to include parts of south-central Seminole County and north-central Orange County.

“Joy is thrilled to have received Alex Sink’s endorsement,” her campaign stated.

Daphne Campbell campaign apologizes for mistaken endorsement

In response to reporting from Florida Politics on Thursday, the Daphne Campbell campaign has issued a formal apology for falsely claiming the endorsement of Aventura City Commissioner Robert Shelley.

Shelley endorsed Jason Pizzo, Campbell’s Democratic primary opponent in Senate District 38. Yet Shelley’s face remains on a campaign flyer being sent out by the Campbell campaign touting several different endorsements of her re-election bid.

It is against Florida election law to falsely claim an endorsement from someone without signed documentation. Violators can face civil penalties.

In a letter addressed to Commissioner Shelley, obtained by Florida Politics, Campbell campaign manager Maxo Sinal apologizes for the erroneous claim and explains how Shelley’s face ended up on that flyer.

Sen. Campbell “is deeply sorry for an incident that involves your name and your picture,” Sinal says.

“A file that included all of our endorsements was given to campaign staff to prepare an endorsement list since our communications director has left the campaign to go back to school. Unfortunately, the staff didn’t recognize that you removed yourself from endorsing Sen. Campbell, and gave your name to our graphic designer to prepare literature for the campaign.”

That reference to Shelley removing his endorsement of Senator Campbell refers to reporting from early July, where Shelley’s office appeared to send out signed endorsement letters to both the Campbell and Pizzo campaigns.

At the time, Shelley clarified the issue by noting he was backing Pizzo, and the letter to Campbell was sent in error. “By the time we uncovered the mistake, it was already distributed,” says Sinal of the flyer.

“Sen. Campbell respects everyone’s choice to support her, or her opponent. This incident doesn’t reflect our campaign values. On behalf of Sen. Daphne Campbell, I present to you my sincere apology and I have already implemented steps to avoid such a mistake.”

Shelley had requested a formal apology in response to the news his image was still being used by the Campbell campaign. In comments to Florida Politics, he says he is “glad they acknowledged the mistake” and accepts the campaign’s apology. Shelley is currently running for re-election to the Aventura City Commission.

Daphne Campbell continues to claim nonexistent endorsement from Aventura pol

(Update: Daphne Campbell has issued a formal apology for the incident, a portion of which has been added to this piece. You can read the full apology here.)

State Sen. Daphne Campbell appears to be openly flouting Florida election law by once again claiming an endorsement from an Aventura City Commissioner who has endorsed her opponent, Jason Pizzo.

Campbell lists Commissioner Robert Shelley (whose name is misspelled in her materials) on a campaign flyer issued to voters in Senate District 38. You can see his face among a list of others who have endorsed Campbell’s campaign.

The problem is: he’s backing her opponent in the SD 38 Democratic primary. And this isn’t the first time Campbell has made this claim.

On July 3, Florida Politics published a piece detailing what appeared to be a mistake by Commissioner Shelley which led to confusion over which candidate he was endorsing.

It turns out both the Pizzo and Campbell campaigns had received a signed letter from Shelley’s office indicating his support. After contacting Commissioner Shelley directly, he said the letter to the Campbell camp must have been sent in error, and that he was actually endorsing Pizzo.

Nevertheless, Campbell did receive that letter, and provided it to Florida Politics. That explained why Shelley was among a list of people Campbell claimed were endorsing her campaign in early July.

In the reporting for our previous story, Florida Politics contacted the Campbell campaign directly, explaining Shelley was sticking by his endorsement of Pizzo. They clearly got the message, as Shelley says Campbell later retracted a reciprocal endorsement of his campaign for re-election to the Aventura City Commission.

Yet, his photo remains among a list of people purportedly endorsing Campbell, seen on the flyer above.

“This one is just intentional,” Shelley says.

“I don’t know where she’s getting it from. But it’s just a disgrace; it’s illegal.”

On the law, he’s right.

Florida Statute 106.143 reads, in the relevant part: “It is unlawful for any candidate or person on behalf of a candidate to represent that any person or organization supports such candidate, unless the person or organization so represented has given specific approval in writing to the candidate to make such representation.”

Back in July, the Campbell campaign had what they thought was valid written approval. But not now, says Shelley.

“The first time, OK. It could be a mistake, I’ll chalk it up to a mistake. This is not a mistake. She knew.”

Violations of that statute could result in civil penalties.

At first glance, it is possible that the flyers were made to be printed before Campbell receiving notice that Shelley’s endorsement was sent in error. However, Pizzo says that’s not the case here.

Take a look again at the flyer:

In the bottom right, you see the phrase, “Touch 90,” ostensibly referring to Campbell’s “punch number” for Election Day.

“We all got our punch numbers of what number we are going to be on the ballot on July 5,” says Pizzo.

That’s two days after we spoke to the Campbell campaign and released our original story on July 3.

Commissioner Shelley says he wants a formal statement from the Campbell campaign making clear they understand he is not endorsing her campaign. He also says the campaign should cease sending the flyers out immediately.

Shelley also says he’s concerned with his own constituents receiving confusing information.

“This is something which I don’t want affecting me personally, because I’m running for re-election.”

In response to this piece, the Campbell campaign issued a formal apology directly to Commissioner Shelley for misuse of his photo.

“Unfortunately, the staff didn’t recognize that you removed yourself from endorsing Sen. Campbell and gave your name to our graphic designer to prepare literature for the campaign,” said Campbell campaign manager Maxo Sinal.

“By the time we uncovered the mistake, it was already distributed. Mr. Shelley, Sen. Campbell respects everyone’s choice to support her or her opponent. This incident doesn’t reflect our campaign values. On behalf of Sen. Daphne Campbell, I present to you my sincere apology and I have already implemented steps to avoid such a mistake.”

Patrick Murphy endorses Nikki Fried for Agriculture Commissioner

Attorney and medical marijuana lobbyist Nikki Fried picked up another endorsement for bid in the Democratic primary for Agriculture Commissioner on Thursday, this time from former Congressman Patrick Murphy.

“I’m supporting Nikki because I know that she is dedicated to promoting the Democratic values we share like protecting Florida’s environment and natural resources, standing up for consumers, and ensuring our state’s agriculture industry has a dependable partner in the Cabinet,” Murphy said.

Murphy represented Florida’s 18th Congressional District from 2013 to 2017. He’s been on the sidelines since 2016, when he unsuccessfully challenged Republican U.S. Sen Marco Rubio’s re-election bid.

He joins former state CFO Alex Sink and 21 Democratic members of the Florida Legislature, among others, in backing Fried’s primary bid.

“I am honored to have Congressman Murphy’s support in this race. During his time in Congress, he was a fierce advocate for our coastal communities — especially when it came to the toxic blue-green algae blooms ravaging our state,” Fried said.

“As Florida’s next Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services, I pledge to work tirelessly until this issue is resolved once and for all.”

Fried faces fellow Democrats Jeffrey Porter and Roy David Walker in the Aug. 28 primary.

Since entering the statewide race to replace term-limited Commissioner Adam Putnam in mid-June, Fried has raised more than $228,000 in funds between her campaign account and affiliated political committee, Florida Consumers First. That puts her even with the combined efforts of Porter and Walker.

Also running for the seat are four Republicans: North Fort Myers state Rep. Matt Caldwell, Sebring state Sen. Denise Grimsley, retired U.S. Army Col. Mike McCalister and former Winter Haven state Rep. Baxter Troutman.

Caldwell and Grimsley, who recently rolled out her first TV ad, have been the standouts on the Republican side. Each have piled on more than $2 million in outside cash and have seven figures remaining in their war chests.

Troutman, meanwhile, has spent more than $3 million of his own fortune trying to secure the GOP nom.

Fried has an Orlando fundraiser set for tonight, hosted by Sink and Ruth’s List, as well as Orlando attorney and medical marijuana advocate John Morgan, and Richard Swann, whose involvement in Democratic Party fundraising goes back decades.

Gwen Graham grabs Palm Beach County Mayor’s endorsement

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham has secured the endorsement of Palm Beach County Mayor Melissa McKinlay in the closing weeks before the Aug. 28 primary, her campaign announced Thursday.

McKinlay’s endorsement is a grab from the home of Graham’s rival Democratic candidate Palm Beach businessman Jeff Greene, with whom Graham has been trading nasty shots in the past couple of weeks over each other’s environmental protection commitments.

It’s also another woman political leader joining a Graham campaign that has not shied from gender references in anticipation of a large female voter turnout, something Greene also has sought to appeal to with his “For Women” commercial that has blanketed Florida airwaves the past two weeks.

“As a mom, I am excited to have a fellow mom in the Governor’s office,” McKinlay stated in a news release issued Thursday morning by Graham’s campaign. “Gwen’s life experiences have made her a strong leader and a master negotiator. She is committed to bridging the divide in our politics and our government. It is time we have a leader in the Governor’s office who truly understands what Florida families need and will work for us every single day. That leader is Gwen Graham.”

Graham and Greene also face former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and Winter Park businessman Chris King in the Aug. 28 Democratic gubernatorial primary.

McKinlay, elected to the Palm Beach Board of County Commissioners in 2014, has been an outspoken leader in the fight to combat opioid abuse, provide more affordable housing, and protect the environment, Graham’s campaign stated.

“Gwen understands the challenges facing South Florida. She will fight every day to restore our public schools and protect Palm Beach County’s natural treasures,” McKinlay added.

Coral Gables Mayor endorses Javier Enriquez in HD 114

The Javier Enriquez campaign announced Wednesday they’ve added the support of Coral Gables Mayor Raul Valdes-Fauli in the contest for House District 114.

The news comes the same week as Valdes-Fauli appeared in an ad backing Donna Shalala in the Democratic primary for Florida’s 27th Congressional District.

But in HD 114, the Mayor has decided to endorse the Republican.

“Javier Enriquez will be an excellent State Representative,” said Valdes-Fauli.

“Javier is deeply rooted in our community and is committed to serving the friends and neighbors he grew up with and works alongside today. I look forward to working with him to continuing to keep our area strong and moving forward.”

Enriquez is competing against incumbent state Rep. Javier Fernandez, a Democrat. Fernandez only recently took over the seat, winning a special election in early May.

“I am honored to have Mayor Valdes-Fauli’s support,” said Enriquez.

“He sets a high standard for public service, and I look forward to working with him to serve the citizens of the community I love.”

Valdes Fauli was re-elected last year, after previously serving as Mayor of Coral Gables from 2003-2011. He also is a practicing attorney in the area of banking law.

Enriquez and Fernandez are set to face off for the seat in November, as both are unopposed in their respective primaries.

HD 114 covers parts of Miami-Dade County including West Miami and Cutler Bay.

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