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Another dozen sheriffs endorse crime victim rights amendment

More than a dozen law enforcement leaders announced Tuesday that they were in support of the Constitution Revision Commission proposal to add a “crime victim bill of rights” to the Florida Constitution.

The Tuesday announcement follows a previous bulk endorsement that saw two dozen sheriffs sign on to support the proposal, commonly known as “Marsy’s Law.” Adding in the dozen sheriffs endorsing Amendment 6 today, the measure now has the support of more than half of Florida’s elected lawmen.

Lining up behind Amendment 6 Tuesday were Dixie Sheriff Dewey Hatcher, Escambia Sheriff David Morgan, Glades Sheriff David Hardin, Indian River Sheriff Deryl Loar, Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams, Lake Sheriff Peyton Grinnell, Marion Sheriff Billy Woods, Miami-Dade Police Department Director Juan Perez, Nassau Sheriff Bill Leeper, Okeechobee Sheriff Noel Stephen, Osceola Sheriff Russell Gibson, Polk Sheriff Grady Judd and Putnam Sheriff Gator DeLoach. Also included in the announcement was retired Broward County Sheriff Al Lamberti.

Amendment 6 also has broad support among Florida’s state attorneys and voters, who in a March poll supported the proposal 78-13 with 9 percent undecided.

Marsy’s Law would put several rights for crime victims into the state’s governing document.

Among the provisions are requirements that crime victims be informed of their rights and the services available to them, an entitlement to updates on criminal proceedings, a right to know about meetings between the accused and state attorneys before plea deals agreed to, and the option to attend and speak during court proceedings.

Marsy’s Law takes its name from Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas of California who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983. After a successful push for measure bearing Nicholas’ name in her home state, victim rights advocates have expanded their push nationwide.

As of 2018, all but 15 states, including Florida, enumerate victims’ rights in their constitutions.

Marsy’s Law is one of 13 amendments, and one of eight CRC proposals, slated to go before Florida voters during the Nov. 6 general election. Ballot amendments need at least 60 percent support from voters in order to make it into the Florida Constitution.

Darryl Block gets backing of Victor Torres in HD 29 Democratic primary

Democratic state Sen. Victor Torres has endorsed attorney Darryl Block in the House District 29 race in Seminole County.

Torres’s endorsement could carry some weight in the August 28 primary, as Block, of Lake Mary, faces two other Democrats, both also attorneys, Tracey Kagan and Patrick Brandt, both of Longwood. The trio are battling for the chance to take on Republican incumbent state Rep. Scott Plakon in November for the HD 29 seat, which represents central Seminole County.

Torres represents Florida Senate District 15, which covers south Orange County and Osceola County a few miles to the south.

“During the past few months, I’ve seen Darryl’s commitment to our community as well as to Florida’s families. He will fight for sensible gun-safety laws that protect our children, a clean and sustainable environment, and healthcare that Floridians can afford,” Torres said in a statement issued by Block’s campaign. “

“Darryl also will advocate for Puerto Ricans who are now calling Florida home in the wake of Hurricane Maria. He believes that our Puerto Rican brothers and sisters must have the tools they need for success, including affordable housing, medical services, and job opportunities. Darryl also believes that we must continue to assist Puerto Ricans remaining on the island by helping them repair their infrastructure while increasing medical services,” Torres continued. “I have been greatly impressed by Darryl and Melanie‘s family-focused, positive campaign. Darryl recently qualified for the Florida ballot by petition, proving that grassroots organizing gets results.”

Florida Retailers back Keith Perry for re-election

The Florida Retail Federation announced Tuesday that it would back Gainesville Republican Sen. Keith Perry’s re-election bid in Alachua County-based Senate District 8.

The retail trade association cited Perry’s job outside of the legislature — running Perry Roofing — in its endorsement of the freshman Senator.

“Keith is a long-time retail business owner, and as a Senator, he’s been a tremendous advocate Florida retailers by helping to pass important legislation that enhances our industry,” said FRF president and CEO R. Scott Shalley. “Keith is a friend of retail and we look forward to continuing to work with him on ways to ensure Florida remains the top state for businesses.”

In addition to his background in FRF’s areas of interest, the org touted his service as the founding president of House of Hope, an organization dedicated to providing housing, job opportunities, mentorship and rehabilitation for former inmates as well as his past support for the Boy’s and Girl’s Club, the Dignity Project, and the Reichert House.

Perry was elected to the Senate in 2016, winning by about four points over attorney Rod Smith, a former state Senator and a former chair of the Florida Democratic Party. In 2018 he faces Democrats Kayser Enneking and Olysha Magruder.

Of the two, Enneking looks to be his likely opponent in the fall. Like Perry, Enneking is a lifelong Gainesvillian. She is anesthesiologist who currently works as the interim chair of the University of Florida College of Medicine’s Department of Dermatology.

Perry currently holds a six-figure advantage in cash on hand, though April saw Enneking put a dent in his lead.

He started May with about $393,000 in the bank – $286,585 for his campaign and $106,316 for his committee. Enneking, through the same date, had $271,000 on hand.

SD 8 covers all of Alachua and Putnam counties as well as the northern half of Marion County. It is one of a handful of districts that became more favorable to Democrats after the Senate map was redrawn ahead of the 2016 elections.

Fort Lauderdale mayor endorses Gwen Graham for governor

Democratic candidate for governor Gwen Graham has announced another endorsement, earning support from Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis.

“As we mark the beginning of Pride Month, I’m excited to announce my endorsement of Gwen Graham, a champion for LGBTQ rights and equality,” he said.

Trantalis became the first openly gay mayor ever elected in Fort Lauderdale after he won the seat back in March. He praised Graham’s history on LGBTQ issues in his statement announcing his endorsement.

“Running for Congress in a conservative district, Gwen wasn’t afraid to stand up for marriage equality and our rights. In Congress, she followed through on her promise and fought for LGBTQ Floridians, co-sponsored the Equality Act and earned a 100 percent rating from the Human Rights Campaign.”

Trantalis’ endorsement may help Graham win over members of the LGBTQ community, a group she has voiced support for in the past. Graham recently came out in favor of a statewide ban on gay conversion therapy, a practice deemed harmful by many in the medical community.

Graham has also said she will push for passage of for the Florida Competitive Workforce Act, which she says would help prevent discrimination of LGBTQ citizens.

Graham reiterated her promise to focus on LGBT issues in a statement thanking Trantalis for his endorsement.

“I was honored to support Dean Trantalis in his race for mayor and proud to see him become Fort Lauderdale’s first LGBTQ leader,” Graham said. “As governor, I will work with Dean and LGBTQ leaders across the state to protect their civil rights, and ban conversion therapy.”

Graham is competing in a crowded field for the Democratic nomination for governor. Her primary opponents include Andrew GillumChris King and Philip Levine, among others. That field grew even larger earlier today, when Palm Beach billionaire real estate investor Jeff Greene entered the race.

Voters will choose the Democratic nominee for governor Aug. 28. The qualifying period is noon, June 18 through noon, June 22, although qualifying papers will be accepted beginning today (Monday, June 4).

Andrew Gillum touts endorsement from California Congressman Ro Khanna

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum announced Monday he has received the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna, a Democrat with a reputation as a strong progressive from the Silicon Valley area of California.

Khanna came out with the endorsement in a tweet posted Monday morning on Twitter.

“Proud to endorse @AndrewGillum for Governor of Florida. He’s an unapologetic progressive! He wants to give every teacher a pay raise, legalize marijuana, have corporations pay tax on overseas earning, and pass common sense gun laws. He represents the next gen of Dem leaders,” Khanna stated.

Gillum is in a Democratic primary battle that just got more complicated Monday with the entry of Palm Beach billionaire real estate investor Jeff Greene. Already in the race are former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, and Winter Park entrepreneur Chris King.

“I am exceedingly proud to have the endorsement of Congressman Ro Khanna,” Gillum responded in a news release issued by his campaign. He’s a progressive champion across a whole range of issues, and he’s leading the fight for an internet Bill of Rights. Congressman Khanna knows we can’t win in November by running away from our values, and we’re ready to bring it home this fall.”

Miami Springs mayor backs Manny Diaz in SD 36 race

Yet another Miami-Dade County mayor has thrown his support behind Manny Diaz in the race for Senate District 36.

Miami Springs Mayor Billy Bain became the eighth Miami-Dade mayor to give Diaz the nod.

“There is no question in my mind that Diaz’s record makes him the best choice for this Senate seat,” said Bain. “He has dedicated his career to serving his community, in education and in the Florida House, and I know we can count on him to deliver the kind of strong leadership we need in the Florida Senate.”

Bain is a local businessman who was elected Mayor of Miami Springs last year.

The news comes after endorsements last week from Virginia Gardens Mayor Spencer Deno IV and outgoing state Sen. Rene Garcia, who Diaz is running to replace. Diaz has also been endorsed by the mayors of Miami, Hialeah and Miami Lakes, among others.

“I’m proud to have Mayor Bain’s support,” said Diaz in a statement on the endorsement. “Serving as mayor is not easy, and I’m grateful for the public service of Mayor Bain and all the mayors supporting our campaign. I look forward to continuing to work with all of them as we serve our friends and neighbors in our communities.”

Diaz is pursuing the SD 36 seat after representing Florida House District 103 since 2012. He’s the overwhelming favorite in the SD 36 race, as his only Democratic opponent, Muhammad Amin, has not listed any fundraising activity with the Florida Division of Elections.

SD 36 covers portions of Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

Florida LGBTA Democratic Caucus backs David Richardson in CD 27

David Richardson has pulled in another endorsement in his bid for Florida’s 27th Congressional District, this time from the Florida LGBTA Democratic Caucus.

“David has been a champion for equality in the Florida House and has distinguished himself working to hold the Florida prison system accountable and protecting the environment,” said Caucus President Terry Fleming. “Florida needs a fighter like David Richardson to represent us in Congress.”

It’s another step forward for Richardson’s campaign. The current state representative is competing against four others for the Democratic nomination in CD 27.

The seat is one the Democrats have their eye on, as longtime Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen announced she would not seek re-election following the end of her current term. That’s given the Democrats an opportunity to flip the seat. The Cook Political Report currently rates the seat as “leaning Democratic.”

Richardson, one of the first openly gay representatives elected to the Florida House, thanked the Florida LGBTA Democratic Caucus in a statement following the endorsement.

“It is an honor to be endorsed by the Florida LGBTA Democratic Caucus,” said Richardson. “I have made it a priority to fight for the rights of the LGBT community — a community that has been long overlooked and discriminated against by policymakers.”

He also took shots at the Donald Trump administration, a move Democrats are sure to echo throughout the 2018 midterms.

“In Congress, I will oppose Trump and Pence’s backwards ideas, co-sponsor Equality Act, and co-sponsor the Student Non-Discrimination Act. I am proud to have members of the LGBTA community standing behind me in this race.”

Florida primary voters will head to the polls on August 28 to select their nominee in CD 27. Matt Haggman, Michael Hepburn, Kristen Rosen Gonzalez and Donna Shalala are also running for the Democratic nod. That will be followed by the general election on November 6.

Big get: Jason Pizzo endorsed by Barbara Watson in SD 38 primary

Former prosecutor Jason Pizzo’s primary campaign against Democratic Sen. Daphne Campbell is picking up steam.

Two days after announcing an endorsement from public employee union AFSCME, the North Miami Beach resident’s campaign for Senate District 38 has earned the backing of Miami Gardens Democratic Rep. Barbara Watson.

“As we look ahead to the challenges that South Florida faces, this election will be a crucial test of our ability to deliver on a promise of a government we can trust,” Watson said in a Friday press release.

“I’m thrilled to endorse Jason Pizzo, a dedicated father, neighbor, and citizen who has fought for justice as a state prosecutor with honor and integrity. Every community of District 38 will be proudly represented by Jason and I urge voters to read up on his platforms and vote for him as their next state senator.”

Watson’s support for Pizzo is no secret — she endorsed him in the 2016 primary for the Dade County seat, at the time calling him a “champion for the underserved and the greatest in need in our communities.” However, when Watson backed him two years ago, she wasn’t doing so over an incumbent Democratic lawmaker.

Pizzo was the second-place finisher in the 2016 primary race. He received about 24 percent of the vote while Campbell received 31 percent, a difference of about 2,000 votes in the six-way race.

In accepting the endorsement, Pizzo called Watson “a good friend and a public servant in the truest sense of the word.”

“I’m grateful for her support and I look forward to working with her in the weeks and months ahead to make sure that every resident of Miami-Dade has a fair shot at the American Dream. Our campaign is continuing to build on the momentum we’ve achieved and it shows no signs of stopping,” he said.

In addition to Watson and AFSCME, Pizzo has picked up endorsements from Aventura Mayor Enid Weisman, Bay Harbor Islands Mayor Stephanie Bruder, Miami Shores Mayor Mac Glinn, North Miami Beach Mayor Beth Spiegel, and Surfside Mayor Daniel Dietch.

To date, Campbell’s public backers have mainly been her colleagues in the Senate. She’s netted eight of those so far, including an endorsement from incoming Senate Minority Leader Audrey Gibson, but notable among the holdouts are the other two Democrats representing a slice of Miami-Dade in the upper chamber.

Senate District 38 is a Democratic stronghold. Campbell and Pizzo are currently the only two candidates in contention, though until qualifying is officially over, 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.

Matt Caldwell touts ‘tenth wave’ of Ag Commissioner endorsements

Lehigh Acres Republican Rep. Matt Caldwell added another 10 names to his extensive list of backers Thursday.

The bulk endorsement — his tenth since entering the Cabinet race — includes Republican pols from across the Sunshine State, many of them from Brevard County.

St. Petersburg Sen. Jeff Brandes, Tequesta Rep. MaryLynn Magar and Sarasota County Property Appraiser Bill Furst made the Thursday announcement alongside a list of Brevard electeds that included Palm Bay Rep. Randy Fine, Sheriff Wayne Ivey, County Commissioners John Tobia and Kristine Isnardi, Melbourne Councilmember Paul Alfrey and Palm Bay Councilmembers Brian Anderson and Tres Holton.

“I always stand up for our Second Amendment rights and I am excited to support the only candidate for Commissioner of Agriculture that does the same, Matt Caldwell. Matt has the energy, integrity, and guts to lead as our next Commissioner of Agriculture,” Ivey said.

“Most importantly, he is the only candidate to have an A rating from the NRA every year he has served in office and he has always stood strong for the 2nd Amendment rights of Floridians. I am asking all Floridians to get behind Matt Caldwell and help him become our next Commissioner of Agriculture.”

Brandes described Caldwell as “a principled conservative that is committed to limited government,” adding that the “choice is clear” in the four-way Republican Primary to replace Adam Putnam. Tobia, a former member of the Florida House, said his former colleague was “the most qualified candidate in the race.”

Caldwell’s prior “waves” mainly focused on legislative delegations from across the state, including House Republicans in the Panhandle, Northeast Florida, Central Florida, Southwest Florida and South Florida. 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.

“I’m proud that these individuals have placed their trust in me to lead Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. We are the only campaign running a truly statewide race and we will continue that same work ethic and statewide focus when elected,” Caldwell said.

Caldwell faces Sebring Sen. Denise Grimsley, retired U.S. Army Col. Mike McCalister and former Winter Haven Rep. Baxter Troutman in the Republican Primary.

The primary election is Aug. 28.

Port St. Lucie councilwoman endorses Toby Overdorf for HD 83

Palm City Republican Toby Overdorf picked up a new endorsement for his bid to succeed exiting Rep. Gayle Harrell in House District 83.

Overdorf’s campaign announced Thursday that Port St. Lucie Councilwoman Stephanie Morgan is backing the Treasure Coast business owner in his primary campaign against Sasha Dadan.

“Toby Overdorf is the clear choice for the Florida House. He has proven himself as a leader in our community, and I believe his experience, values, and vision are exactly what we need in Tallahassee. I urge all District 83 voters to join me in supporting him,” Morgan said.

Oberdorf was the first-in candidate for HD 83, entering the race in March 2017. In addition to founding consulting firm Crossroads Environmental, he is the current chair of the Martin County Republican Party.

“I am honored to have the support of Councilwoman Morgan,” said Overdorf. “Her leadership and experience bring a lot to the table, and I look forward to working with her to continue making our community one of the best places in the state to run a business and raise a family.”

Overdorf currently leads the money race for the Treasure Coast House district with about $69,250 raised and nearly $40,000 in the bank. Dadan filed last week and her first report, covering the 10 days she was a candidate in May, is due to the state on June 11.

Also running is Democrat Tiffany Lauren Parisi, who had $7,400 in the bank heading into May.

HD 83 covers parts of Martin and St. Lucie counties and has a Republican lean. In 2016, Harrell won re-election over Democratic challenger Crystal Lucas with 54 percent of the vote. She went unopposed in 2014 and faced no major-party challengers in 2012.

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