endorsement Archives - Page 7 of 68 - Florida Politics

Donald Trump: Ron DeSantis called me, asked for endorsement

At a campaign rally in West Virginia on Tuesday, President Donald Trump told the crowd that Florida gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis called him and asked for his support.

“I don’t want to brag about it, but man do I have a good record of endorsements,” Trump told attendees. “In Florida, we have a great candidate, his name is Ron DeSantis, and he called me, and asked whether or not I could endorse him.”

The context: Trump was telling West Virginians just how powerful his endorsements are. He came to the state partially to tout U.S. Sen. hopeful Patrick Morrisey, who is attempting to unseat incumbent Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin in November.

“I said ‘let me check it out,’” Trump said he told DeSantis. “ … This was a few months ago. He was at three, and I gave him a nice shot, and a nice little tweet — bing bing — and he went from three to like twenty something.”

Trump was referencing DeSantis’ surge in the polls after the President tweeted in June his endorsement for the Ponte Vedra Congressman and held a rally for him in Tampa late July. In December, the President tweeted a pro-DeSantis message, saying he “would make a great governor of Florida.”

Trump overexaggerated his influence if he intended to say DeSantis was polling at 3 percent. A Fox News poll earlier in June put DeSantis at 17 percent, Putnam 32.

Before the June tweet, DeSantis was trailing Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in the Republican primary.

Added Trump: “I gave him my full and total endorsement. And now he’s leading by like 19 points.”

Shortly after the tweet, some polls showed DeSantis skyrocketing in favorability. A St. Pete Polls survey in July gave DeSantis a 20 point edge, a Mason-Dixon survey later that month gave DeSantis a 12 point lead.

Some new polling, however, suggests a bit of that lead has declined. A survey from Florida Atlantic University released on Tuesday gave DeSantis a single point lead, meaning the primary race is in a dead heat.

Looming over Trump’s Tuesday night rally was news that his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was found guilty of eight financial crime charges. Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen also plead guilty on Tuesday to violating campaign finance laws, at the request of a “candidate for federal office.”

Watch the clip below.

Karen Giorno denies being paid to endorse Florida candidates

Former Donald Trump campaign strategist Karen Giorno is denying accusations that she was paid in exchange for endorsing Florida Senate candidate Belinda Keiser and Florida House candidate Toby Overdorf.

That’s according to a story by reporter Jose Lambiet.

According to the Florida Division of Elections, Keiser made a payment on July 16 of $70,325 to Kingston Public Affairs. That payment’s purpose was listed as “political consulting.”

Kingston Public Affairs is a New Jersey-based firm owned by Giorno.

Just over two weeks prior to the payment, Giorno gave a ringing endorsement for Keiser’s campaign to take Senate District 25.

“We need someone like Belinda who is not beholden to special interests or party bosses, and knows that she is a public servant,” Giorno said.

According to Lambiet, that payment of more than $70,000 “is unusually high for political consulting.” While it came after Giorno’s formal endorsement, Lambiet argues the timing is conspicuous.

Giorno also recently endorsed Overdorf, who denies he received any benefit from Keiser’s payment to Giorno.

“I’ve known Karen [Giorno] for a couple of years now,” Overdorf said. “I did not pay for the endorsement, nor have I paid for any endorsement of my campaign. I would reject any endorsement that was paid for.”

House District 83, which Overdorf is competing for, overlaps with SD 25. Florida Politics reached out to Keiser for comment; we still are awaiting a reply.

Giorno is a controversial figure in pro-Trump circles. She was removed from Trump’s Florida operation in 2016. Yet her endorsement of Overdorf described herself as a “Trump campaign leader.”

“I am aware she does not work for Trump now, and I have no reason to believe she was ever fired from any campaign,” Overdorf said of Giorno.

Former Palm Beach Gardens Councilwoman Annie Marie Delgado, a Trump supporter, says Giorno is a “pathological liar” who was “divisive and derisive” during the campaign.

“I’m shocked, quite frankly, that this woman continues to portray herself as part of the Trump campaign, or as connected to Trump in any way whatsoever,” Delgado said of Giorno.

Giorno says the payment from Keiser was on the up-and-up, and went toward targeting voters online. She says she believes in the campaigns of Keiser and Overdorf, in part due to their support of the President.

“Both were there for the Trump campaign from the start, at a time when few people wanted to be involved,” Giorno said, according to Lambiet.

“They stand for the Trump agenda.”

Bikers for Trump back Scott Sturgill

Scott Sturgill has picked up support from the group Boots on the Ground Bikers for Trump in his quest to be elected to Congress in Florida’s 7th Congressional District.

The endorsement, announced Tuesday morning by Sturgill’s campaign, comes a week out from a contentious Republican primary battle with state Rep. Mike Miller of Winter Park, which the latest poll shows going Miller’s way.

Sturgill, of Sanford, and a third Republican candidate, Vennia Francois of Orlando, are facing an Aug. 28 showdown to see who will be the Republican nominee, presumably to challenge Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy.

The bikers group and the Trump focus give Sturgill a couple more advantages heading into a primary where support for President Donald  Trump is expected to be on the minds of many Republican voters, especially with the ballot topped by a contest between Trump’s chosen one, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. Plus, the appeal of bikers in a society seeking rebellion.

President of Boots on the Ground Bikers for Trump George Colella applauded Sturgill, saying he received the endorsement because he is “a strong supporter of the president, our Constitution and especially the 2nd Amendment.”

Jake Raburn endorses Sean McCoy as HD 57 successor

Exiting state Rep. Jake Raburn weighed into the House District 57 Republican primary battle brought about by his early retirement, offering his endorsement to businessman and U.S. Army veteran Sean McCoy.

“Sean’s record of service to his country and his commitment to our conservative principles makes him the best choice to serve our community in Tallahassee,” Raburn said Tuesday.

“I know Sean will work tirelessly to fight for the conservative values we hold dear and protect our local agriculture industry to help grow our economy. With Sean McCoy in Tallahassee, District 57 will be in good hands,” he concluded.

The endorsement comes just over two months after the 33-year-old lawmaker announced that he would not seek a fourth and final term in the Hillsborough County district.

McCoy entered the race on the same day as Raburn’s announcement, with fellow Republican Mike Beltran following two days later.

“Representative Raburn has served our community with integrity and fought for the conservative principles we all hold dear,” McCoy said. “A leader in our agriculture industry, Representative Raburn’s service to this state helped grow our local economy and put Florida on a path to prosperity. I’m humbled to have his support and his confidence.”

Before Raburn’s endorsement, McCoy had already earned the backing of the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Realtors. He also has earned an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association, while Beltran earned the lesser grade of “AQ” from the group.

Beltran currently leads the money race with $36,412 in fundraising and another $100,000 in candidate loans. He had $68,824 at the ready on Aug. 10. McCoy, through the same date, has raised $64,214 and chipped in $2,000 of his own money. He had $28,339 banked on Aug. 10.

The winner of the Aug. 28 primary election will almost assuredly succeed Raburn, however, they’ll still be on the November ballot alongside Valrico Democrat Debbie Katt.

HD 57 covers part of southeastern Hillsborough County and leans Republican. The GOP has a 7-point lead in voter registrations within the district, and Raburn had no trouble holding the seat for three terms. In 2012, his only campaign where he faced a Democratic challenger, Raburn cruised to a 17-point victory.

Florida Medical Association recommends Dianne Hart for HD 61

The political arm of the Florida Medical Association on Monday endorsed Dianne Hart in the Democratic primary for Tampa-based House District 61.

“The FMA PAC is proud to endorse Dianne Hart for Florida House,” said FMA PAC president Mike Patete. “Ms. Hart has worked hard in her community for many years through her work with the East Tampa Business and Civic Association and we know she will be a strong voice and advocate for her constituents on important health care issues.”

The endorsement comes in the closing days of the four-way Democratic primary to succeed exiting Democratic Rep. Sean Shaw, who is running for Attorney General.

“I am proud to have the endorsement of the Florida Medical Association. I look forward to working with the physicians and the Association on much needed opioid legislation and the health care issues that Floridians are facing across our state,” Hart said.

Hart, who lost the 2016 Democratic primary to Shaw by just 101 votes, faces Sharon Carter, Norman Harris and Karen Skyers in the Aug. 28 Democratic primary.

Skyers, a former lobbyist and legislative aide to former state Sen. Arthenia Joyner, has raised the most money in the race with about $74,000 in receipts as of Aug. 10. Hart, who has raised around $50,000 including $15,000 in candidate loans, holds the cash lead with $31,400 banked compared to about $10,000 for Skyers.

HD 61 covers downtown Tampa, Ybor City, and Seminole Heights. Democrats hold an overwhelming advantage at the polls. It is one of five state legislative districts this cycle that had its primary locked down by a write-in candidate.

Rich Glorioso endorses Aakash Patel for Hillsborough County Commission

Tampa businessman Aakash Patel picked up another endorsement for his Hillsborough County Commission campaign Monday, adding to his stack of backers in the closing days before voters decide whether he or attorney Todd Marks will get the Republican nomination for the countywide District 7 seat.

“I am honored to endorse Aakash Patel in his run for Hillsborough County Commission. He has shown his strong conservative values as he has served on the Early Learning Coalition and in the way he has grown his business. He will be a strong advocate for conservative initiatives when he serves on the Commission. I fully support him and encourage everyone I know to vote for Patel,” former Republican state Rep. Rich Glorioso.

Glorioso joins a long list of Republican officials who have backed Patel’s campaign to succeed retiring Commissioner Al Higginbotham in November. Prior endorsements include U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, Attorney General Pam BondiHouse Speaker Richard Corcoran, former House Speaker Will Weatherford and Zephyrhills Rep. Danny Burgess.

“It is such an honor to have the support of Representative Glorioso. Rich has been a great conservative advocate for transportation, economic development and community issues. I am humbled by the continued outpouring of support from Representative Glorioso and the voters I meet daily as we move closer to Election Day,” Patel said.

Patel and Marks are the only two Republicans vying for Higginbotham’s seat. Both men were previously candidates for the District 1 seat held by Commissioner Sandra Murman but they switched races after she decided to serve out the remainder of her term rather than make her own run for District 7.

Also running for the seat are Democrats Ray ChiaramonteMark NashKimberly Overman and Sky White as well as Green Party candidate Kim O’Connor.

Through Aug. 10, Patel had raised more than $550,000 between his campaign and committee, Elevate Tampa, and had $56,210 left in the bank. Marks, through the same date, had raised $146,616 and had $59,079 on hand.

The primary election is Aug. 28.

More local officials endorse Denise Grimsley for Agriculture Commissioner

Sebring Sen. Denise Grimsely piled on more than 30 endorsements from local officials Monday as she sprints toward the finish line in the four-way Republican primary to succeed Adam Putnam as Agriculture Commissioner.

Monday’s list included state Rep. Ben Albritton, Highlands County Tax Collector Eric Zwayer, Lawtey Chief of Police Shane Bennett, nine county school superintendents, two school board members, eight county clerks of the court, five county commissioners and another two former state lawmakers.

The new volley of local endorsements follows another bulk endorsement rolled out by Grimsley’s campaign a little over a week ago that saw her add three dozen local elected officials to her roster of backers. Her extensive list endorsements includes 36 current county sheriffs, the Fraternal Order of Police, the Florida Professional Firefighters, the Florida Realtors, the Florida Medical Association as well as Senate President Joe Negron and six of his predecessors.

“While on the campaign trail, we have traveled from the Panhandle to the Keys, hearing from many state and local elected officials along the way about what is affecting their communities. I am inspired by their dedication to public service and I am pleased that so many have chosen to give our campaign their support after hearing how as the next Commissioner of Agriculture I will assist them in overcoming obstacles,” Grimsley said in a press release.

“As the primary election quickly approaches, I look forward to continuing to meet with these leaders and sharing with them my vision for the future of the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services.”

Grimsley faces 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.

To date, Grimsley leads the GOP field in true fundraising with about $2.68 million raised between her campaign and political committees, Saving Florida’s Heartland and Let’s Grow Florida, since declaring for the race in February 2017. She had $850,000 banked as of Aug. 10.

Caldwell, meanwhile, has cleared well over $2 million himself and had more than $900,000 banked on Aug. 10. He’s also landed his fair share of endorsements throughout his time on the campaign trail.

Troutman has pumped $3.25 million into his campaign fund and raised about $500,000, though his high burn rate has left him with just $86,500 on hand heading into the final days of the campaign. McCalister, for his part, has yet to hit $25,000 raised for his effort, even with nearly $19,000 in candidate loans.

The eventual GOP nominee will go up against the winner of the three-way Democratic primary between Nikki FriedJeff Porter and David Walker in November.

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

—Jefferson County Superintendent of Schools Marianne Arbulu

—Lafayette County Superintendent of Schools Robby Edwards

—Bay County Superintendent of Schools Bill Husfelt

—Holmes County Superintendent of Schools Terry Mears

—Jackson County Superintendent of Schools Larry Moore

—Franklin County Superintendent of Schools Traci Moses

—Madison County Superintendent of Schools Karen Pickles

—Washington County Superintendent of Schools Joe Taylor

—Dixie County Superintendent of Schools Mike Thomas

—Highlands County Tax Collector Eric Zwayer

—Osceola County School Board Member Ricky Booth

—Taylor County School Board Member Jeannie Mathis

—Polk County Clerk of Court Stacy Butterfield

—Union County Clerk of Court Kellie Connell

—Charlotte County Clerk of Court Roger Eaton

—Marion County Clerk of Court David Ellspermann

—Highlands County Clerk of Court Bob Germaine

—Okeechobee County Clerk of Court Sharon Robertson

—Hardee County Clerk of Court Victoria Rogers

—Sarasota County Clerk of Court Karen Rushing

—Glades County Commissioner John Ahern

—Okeechobee County Commissioner Terry Burroughs

—Highlands County Commissioner Ron Handley

—Osceola County Commissioner Fred Hawkins

—Wakulla County Commissioner Ralph Thomas

—Lawtey Chief of Police Shane Bennett

—State Representative Ben Albritton

—Former State Senator J.D. Alexander

—Former State Representative Sharon Merchant

Janet Cruz rescinds endorsement of Susan Valdes in HD 62 primary

House Minority Leader Janet Cruz announced Monday that she was yanking her endorsement of School Board member Susan Valdes.

Valdes is running in the Democratic primary to decide who will succeed Cruz, the outgoing House Democratic Leader, in House District 62.

“At a time when we’re learning Hillsborough schools have (broken) ACs, leaky roofs and lead in their pipes, I must put the needs of our students, parents and teachers first. I stand with candidates who, like me, put our public schools first over for-profit education corps,” Cruz wrote on Twitter.

“While Susan Valdes has been a friend for 20 years, I can’t stand by her decision to accept support from the voucher industry,” she concluded.

The statement comes shortly after a pro-Valdes mailer paid for by a charter-backed electioneering communications organization (ECO), called Florida Federation for Children, started hitting HD 62 mailboxes.

Here’s the rub: Valdes said early on in her campaign for state House that she would not accept any funding from the charter school industry.

Unlike independent expenditures, ECO expenditures may be coordinated with candidates, so it is possible that Valdes knowingly accepted the support.

Valdes’ chief Democratic primary opponent seized on Cruz’s tweet, saying Valdes lied to voters when she pledged not to accept charter school funding.

“Susan Valdes made one promise to voters this year. She said she wouldn’t accept support from for-profit education corporations and Trump Republicans. Like so many other times in the past, she lied,” Mike Alvarez said.

“These Republican billionaires have been destroying public education all over America. Now they’re colluding with Susan Valdes to trick Democrats. I join teachers, working families, and Democrats all over Hillsborough in thanking Janet Cruz for pulling her endorsement and condemning Susan’s latest lies.

“Hillsborough families deserve an honest representative who represents our Democratic values — Susan Valdes has broken our trust for the last time.

“This lie, and the resulting loss of an endorsement, is just the latest in a series of gaffes from Valdes. Her campaign has lurched from one controversy to the next,” Alvarez said.

Cruz’s tweet came just hours after Alvarez landed the support of Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

His campaign has also recently added the endorsement of Democratic U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, who lambasted Valdes for a campaign mailer that included a picture of Valdes next to the congresswoman, suggesting Castor had endorsed her campaign.

Alvarez and Valdes are running alongside activist Chris Cano in the Democratic primary for HD 62, one of five state legislative seats, including three in the Tampa Bay area, to have its primary election locked down by a write-in candidate.

The winner of the Aug. 28 primary will face write-in Jose Vazquez in the general election. No write-in candidate has ever won elected office in Florida, at least in modern times.

Michael Hepburn

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez backs Michael Hepburn in CD 27

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has endorsed Michael A. Hepburn in Florida’s 27th Congressional District.

She received national attention after upsetting high-ranking Democrat Joe Crowley in a congressional primary last month, and is likely to win the seat in New York’s 14th Congressional District come November.

She says Hepburn, a former University of Miami academic adviser, is her Democratic candidate of choice for CD 27.


Ocasio-Cortez and Hepburn are both members of a group called Brand New Congress, which is pushing upstart Democratic candidates to replace the “corrupt and complacent political establishment,” according to its website.

While the shocking primary win by Ocasio-Cortez had some describing her as the possible future face of the Democratic Party, she’s stumbled several times since on the campaign trail.

An answer on the Isreali-Palestinian conflict where Ocasio-Cortez referred to the “occupation of Palestine” went viral, including the candidate’s admission that she’s “not the expert on geopolitics on this issue.”

She also recently received media criticism for blocking the press from a public town hall. Her campaign argued cameras and media members can make attendees “less comfortable,” according to a CNN report.

Ocasio-Cortez isn’t the only Brand New Congress candidate to back Hepburn’s bid.

Democratic nominees James Thompson from Kansas’ 4th Congressional District, Rob Davidson from Michigan’s 2nd, Sarah Smith from Washington’s 9th, Danielle Mitchell from Tennessee’s 3rd, Vanessa Adia from Texas’ 12th, Adrienne Bell from Texas’ 14th, and Linsey Fagan from Texas’ 26th are all supporting their fellow Brand New Congress member, Hepburn.

Hepburn is competing with former Knight Foundation Program Director Matt Haggman, Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, state Rep. David Richardson, and former University of Miami President Donna Shalala for the nomination.

“I’m not an aspiring career politician or a person with a million-dollar net worth but as we continue to visit thousands of voters doors every day, I’m making it very clear that we matter too,” Hepburn said.

Bob Buckhorn endorses Mike Alvarez in HD 62 Democratic primary

Tampa Democrat Mike Alvarez scored a last-minute endorsement from Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn in the race to succeed House Minority Leader Janet Cruz in Hillsborough County’s House District 62.

“There is only one candidate in this race that speaks to the heart and soul of this district and that is Mike Alvarez,” Buckhorn said. “He knows the community, has served his country as a member of the United States Marine Corps, and is prepared to be our Representative in Tallahassee. He will be a credible and competent voice for West Tampa and Town and Country.”

The endorsement comes a week out from the primary election for HD 62, which will effectively decide Cruz’ replacement in the House — the winner of the primary race will still be on the November ballot, though their only competition will be write-in candidate Jose Vazquez. A write-in candidate has never won elected office in Florida.

Alvarez joined the U.S. Marine Corps after the 9/11 attacks and served three tours overseas before returning home to Tampa to work as the director of operations for family-owned business Westfall Roofing. Alvarez is also an active member of the West Tampa Chamber of Commerce, the Oakford Park Neighborhood Association, the Sierra Club, and the Hillsborough Democratic Party Hispanic Caucus, where he serves as secretary.

“Mayor Buckhorn has always been an advocate for our schools, our community, and our Democratic values,” Alvarez said. “I’m humbled to have his endorsement and I look forward to working with him to build on our successes.”

Buckhorn nod is the latest high-profile endorsement Alvarez has received in the state House race. He recently landed the backing of Democratic U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, and has also picked up support from the Florida Education Association, the Hillsborough Classroom Teachers Association and the Florida AFL-CIO.

Alvarez, the first-in candidate for the race, faces School Board member Susan Valdes and activist Chris Cano in the primary. Vazquez’ candidacy locked down the election to registered Democrats.

Through Aug. 10, Alvarez held a fundraising advantage with more than $70,000 raised, including $31,698 in loans, and about $7,800 in the bank. Valdes has raised $19,315 and has $3,830 banked, while Cano has brought in $4,163 and has $792 on hand.

Despite lagging in the money race, Valdes has been the beneficiary of significant outside spending by the Florida Federation for Children, a political committee funded by charter school companies. Valdes had promised early on in her campaign to not accept contributions from charter school companies.

Her campaign has been mired by controversy since she entered the race. Alongside Castor’s endorsement of Alvarez, she issued a scathing rebuke of the 14-year school board member for using a picture of Castor in a mailer sent out by her campaign, which she said some could misinterpret as an endorsement.

“Let me be clear, the candidate in this race who has my endorsement and support is Mike Alvarez. If you support public schools, if you share our Democratic values, and if you want honesty from your elected officials, vote for Mike Alvarez,” Castor said at the time.

Valdes kicked off her campaign with a resign-to-run letter of questionable legitimacy, and weeks later made more negative headlines after a video surfaced of her dodging a question about whether she would accept campaign contributions from charter schools.

In the wake of that video going semi-viral, Valdes’ campaign threatened to pull strings and have the man who recorded it fired from his job at the State Attorney’s office.

HD 62 covers part of Hillsborough County and is a Democratic stronghold.

The primary election is Aug. 28.

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