Gwen Graham Archives - Page 2 of 40 - Florida Politics

Gwen Graham spends ‘workday’ at camp for sick children

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham spent a campaign “workday” this week helping out at a Eustis summer camp for children with serious illnesses.

“The children of our state are so fortunate to have Camp Boggy Creek. Every child deserves to experience the love, joy and growth I saw here, today.” Graham said. “I am thankful for the amazing staff and volunteers who dedicate their time giving back to our community. Camp Boggy Creek is a great example of all we can achieve when we work together to serve others.”

Graham’s workdays were a staple of her successful ouster of former Republican Rep. Steve Southerland when she ran for congress in 2014. Her father, former governor and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, also held workdays during his many successful campaigns.

Graham spent the day helping out the counselors and volunteers at the camp, which was founded by actor Paul Newman and Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf in 1996 based on a premise “that every child, no matter their illness, could experience the transformational spirit and friendships that go hand in hand with camp.”

One of the counselors Graham worked with, Leia Schwartz, first went to Camp Boggy Creek as a camper after severe asthma caused her lungs to collapse and severely limited the physical activities she could participate in.

“Camp Boggy Creek gave me the opportunity to experience the same fun other children had. For the first time, I felt like I wasn’t so different, after all. Now, I give back to help other children laugh, play and grow,” said Schwartz, now a student at Stetson University.

Camp CEO June Clark said she was grateful Graham spent one of her workdays at the camp.

“She learned firsthand about the fulfilling experiences we provide to seriously ill children in Florida. I encourage everyone learn more about Camp Boggy Creek and our mission to help children and families,” Clark said.

Gwen Graham talks July 4 party presence, climate change, ‘fire and fury’

In a matter of minutes Thursday night in Lake Mary, gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham went from indignation over Gov. Rick Scott‘s climate change policies to laughing at why President Donald Trump used the words “fire and fury,” to near tears in explaining her presence at a July 4 party with Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.

The moments, coming during a question and answer session with the Seminole County Democrats, illustrated how well Graham can be received by Democrats with her familiar Democratic messages, and yet how her background of old money still leaves her having to defend herself to skeptical progressives.

Earlier, Graham covered numerous policy positions in rapid fire, from support for a minimum wage increase to a call to reintroduce the arts, extra curricular activities, and technical training into schools, during a 13 minute speech to the Seminole Democratic Executive Committee.

Then during the subsequent question and answer period she really loosened up, calling Scott’s [and President Donald Trump‘s] climate change positions “criminal” and making fun of them, and then becoming emotional when challenged to explain how her she could distance herself from the influence of money if she goes to parties with people like Kushner and Ivanka Trump.

Graham has responded previously, primarily in a written statement, to questions about the ritzy party and its odd-bedfellow guest list of Democrats and Republicans, along with other rich and famous people.

On Thursday, she laid it out in a very personal and emotional manner, and took it live, as one woman webcasted her response on Facebook Live. Graham’s voice began to break as she described the relationships between herself and her cousin who threw the party, Lally Weymouth, and the rest of the family, including Gwen Graham’s parents, former Gov. Bob and Adele Graham, and Weymouth’s late parents, Philip and Katherine Graham.

It was important for her parents and her to attend, she explained.

And she had no idea PresidentTrump’s daughter and son-in-law would be there too, she insisted.

“I was there to take care of my parents,” she said. “I did not talk to them [Trump and Kushner.] I did not approach them.”

“I’m sorry to get emotional,” she added, “but it was hurtful to see these attacks come. This was about family for me. I love my cousin. I love my family. It was important for me to be there for family. And by the way, the moment I saw Ivanka and Jared I was, ohhh, gosh. I stayed away, on the other side of the tent.”

That led to a follow up question, pressing her on whether “big money, dark money, big corporations” would be a part of her. She denied influence, but would not dismiss the need for money.

“In order to run for office you have to raise a lot of money,” Graham said. “You know how much money I have to raise, I’ve been told, in order to be competitive with Republicans? Quite a bit. So, I mean, I’m not sure which groups you’re referring to, what you’re talking about, I haven’t taken any corporate money, if that’s what you’re talking about.”

Moments before she was expressing outrage with Scott, and making fun of Scott and Donald Trump

“It is criminal what Gov. Scott has done in Tallahassee to ignore the biggest threat to Florida, which is rising sea levels. Rising sea levels, we are on a peninsula! We have water all around us! There is no state, there is no state in the nation that is more impacted by climate change than Florida,” she said. “So what we need to do is planning for what is inevitable. The water is already here. Everyone saw what happened in Miami Beach.

“We need to prepare for it. We need to recognize it. We need to deal with it. We need to be putting money into infrastructure projects,” she continued. “We need to make sure we do all we can to move to renewable energy in this state, to do our part.”

She said as governor it would be her responsibility to immediately start developing plans to deal with rising sea levels.

“You can deny the use of words, but you cannot deny the reality on the ground. You know what now? Guess who recently said we’re not gong to allow the use of the words climate change in the federal government? Donald J. Trump. Also known as Rick Scott’s BFF.”

Speaking of Trump, she segued, “When Donald J. Trump said, ‘fire and fury’ [declaring what America’s response would be if North Korea made any more threats,] who watched Game of Thrones Sunday night?

“That’s where he got it! That is where! The fire and the fury! He got it from Game of Thrones! I love that show!”

Gwen Graham pledges public education as her priority, blasts Richard Corcoran

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham pledged Thursday to a number of educators and parents concerned about public education that she would make public education her top priority.

While meeting with a roundtable of teachers, former teachers, public education advocates, and parents in an Orlando restaurant Thursday, Graham blasted Republican efforts to promote charter schools, which she said was at the expense of public schools, and renewed her vows to abolish testing and school grades and bring back technical education.

“I give you my commitment, as governor this is going to be my priority,” Graham said. “I’m going to work on this every day. And we’re going to start from day one.”

Graham, the former congresswoman and former schools lawyer from Tallahassee, faces Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and Winter Park developer Chris King seeking the Democratic primary nomination to run for governor in 2018. Adam Putnam is the only major Republican running, though others, including House Speaker Richard Corcoran, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, and Senate Appropriations Committee Jack Latvala are mulling runs.

At the round table and later speaking with reporters, Graham blasted Corcoran in particular for cutting the deal that led to passage of House Bill 7069 in the Special Legislative Session this summer, a bill she characterized as a Republican attack on public education in order to promote private charter schools.

“What I believe is going on is a desire to privatize our school system, and strip resources away from schools that desperately need additional resources. They don’t need to have what 7069 has done, which is to take funding away from Title I schools, to strip away options for school districts if it gets a C or a D grade,” she said.

“And don’t even me started on the grading, because we’re going to end the grading of schools,” she added. “Everywhere I go I hear how damaging it is to the schools, the school districts, the kids themselves. There’s no point to it other than as a way to diminish and demoralize schools that are working so hard, and eventually strip the funding away from schools so we can privatize them.”

And then she turned to Corcoran personally, noting that his wife Anne founded a charter school.

“The legislators that behind this are making money,” she said. “They financially benefit from what he is doing to the detriment of nine out of ten kids in Florida who go to public schools.”

 

Chris King political committee brings in $154K in July

Winter Park businessman Chris King will report $154,000 in contributions to his gubernatorial run in July, the campaign tells FloridaPolitics.com 

King’s haul makes for nearly $2.4 million raised since he entered the race in April, and his operation said he has $1.7 million of that total on hand between his campaign account and his political committee, “Rise and Lead, Florida.”

“We’re gratified that despite being a political newcomer, Chris’s fresh vision and plans for a better day for Florida is drawing continued support,” said Omar Khan, senior adviser to the King campaign.

Khan also asserted that Democrats’ chances at taking back the governor’s mansion in 2018 hinge on the economy, adding that “Chris is the best candidate on either side to win that debate.”

“We’re excited that people are consistently and powerfully responding to Chris’s fresh ideas to build an economy that will produce better days ahead for Florida,” said King’s Finance Director, Stephanie McClung.

King is running in the Democratic Primary for governor with his major competition being former Congresswoman Gwen Graham and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.

So far, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is the only major GOP candidate to enter the race, though he could be joined by Senate Appropriations Chair Jack Latvala as soon as next week. 

Both Republicans have millions on hand in their political committees.

King currently has more in the bank than Gillum, who had raised a total of $1.3 million between his campaign and “Forward Florida” committee through the end of June, though Graham is still firmly in the lead among declared Democrats with more than $3 million in total fundraising through the end of July.

Unofficial reports for Forward Florida on the committee’s website show just one contribution for $10,000 in July. Gillum has yet to report his July fundraising numbers for his campaign account. Graham’s campaign announced Sunday that she had brought in another $350,000 between her two accounts last month.

Chris King: ‘I want to be the economy candidate’

Chris King wants to convince Florida voters that the state really doesn’t have it so good, that the economy has stagnated for this entire century, and that it’s the Republicans’ fault since they’ve been in charge the whole time.

King, the Winter Park developer who’s seeking the Democratic primary nomination to run for governor of Florida in 2018, offers data charts, tables, and statistical analysis from various U.S. agencies to back up his claims. He weaves them into almost every speech, highlights them at virtually every event.

Those numbers, showing Florida losing ground, dramatically in some cases, to almost every high-population state regarding household income growth, poverty rates, and per-capita gross domestic product, provide the foundation for King’s theme: a Democrat who talks economics and business strategy.

“This was the big ‘Aha!’ for me. That was the decision to run, run now; and that this would be our message; and that I would be the economy candidate in the Democratic Party,” said King, the 39-year-old political novice whose closest friends say has been preparing for politics his whole life.

King sat down last week with FloridaPolitics.com to discuss his economic vision for Florida.

He described a plan based on his view that under the past 19 years of one-party, Republican rule, the state’s growth has progressed little or regressed, especially compared with rival states; and that it’s time to abandon strategies aimed at attracting low-wage businesses. He said his focus would be on investing in long-term strategies to promote higher-paying jobs while at the same time investing in affordable housing and environmental technologies.

“I will be heavily contested on this concept that Florida is a back-of-the-pack state,” King added. “They will fight me hard on this. But the basic suppositions I make is [based] on 15 years of one party rule, from 2000 to 2015 – it’s obviously been longer than that, but that was the period I really studied. And that during that period it is undeniable, based on Florida’s numbers, state numbers, that when we compare to our peers, Florida went backward.”

King’s background with a Harvard University education and a law degree from the University of Florida, and as a businessman, may give him preparation for such a debate. But he is new to public debate.

Unlike his current rivals and most of his potential rivals, King has little real-world experience in government economics, having never been tested with challenges of competing public interests, taxes, and legislative budget fights.

On the Democrats’ side, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum has run a city. Former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham has waged public money battles in Congress. On the Republicans’ side, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam had run a state department, and before that wrestled with public finances in Congress and the Florida Legislature. Potential candidates include Democratic Miami Beach Mayor Phil Levine, Republican Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala, and Republican Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran. They likely will relish going after King’s inexperience in public spending and taxing policies as he pushes his economic vision.

Still, King has something most of them do not, save Levine and another potential Democratic candidate, Orlando lawyer John Morgan: a record of high success in running businesses that made him wealthy and created significant equity and jobs.

King spoke of using the governor’s office pulpit and the line-item veto to create a “culture change” in the state’s economic approaches.

“So, Republicans, or our one-party state government, would argue we are growing. And they would point to unemployment numbers being low. They would point to a AAA bond rating, which establishes credit for the state. And a good and healthy rainy-day fund,” King said. “My critique would be: At what cost have those things come? And if those jobs are not paying a wage that a family lives on, or an individual can survive on, isn’t that a problem?”

Point one of his critique: Adjusted for inflation, Florida’s median household income has declined 7 percent from 2000 to 2015, to $49,000, which is well below those of the other four highest-population states, California, Texas, New York, and Illinois, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Point two: Florida’s 2015 per-capita, gross domestic product of $39,000 was virtually unchanged this century, and is at least 27 percent lower than those of California, Texas, New York, and Illinois, which all saw far more growth in GDP this century, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Census Bureau.

Point three:  Florida’s poverty rate has increased dramatically since 2000, reaching 16.2 percent in 2015, moving it well above the poverty rates in California, New York, Illinois, which saw far-more modest increases in poverty, and in Texas, which saw its poverty rate decline during the same period, according to the Census Bureau.

“We haven’t had a leadership who have wanted to invest in the hard things that create long-term value,” he charged. “For two decades we have been spending huge amounts of time and money to recruit out-of-state, large corporations to open up, not flagship offices, not headquarters, but satellite offices, with low-paying jobs.”

King offered broad ideas he wants to pursue but said his detailed proposals would be rolled out this fall, focusing on three themes: promoting small business, driving down the cost of living, and creating pathway options for children.

Among specific ideas he said he would embrace:

— Addressing access to small-business and start-up capital, particularly for new college-graduate, minority, and military-veteran entrepreneurs, through tax policies, small state business incentives, micro-lenders, and financial institutions.

— Aggressively developing affordable housing, including stopping raids on the affordable housing trust fund, and pushing to invest $250 million to $350 million in state money into public-private matches for affordable housing partnerships, which he said would create nearly $1 billion in housing investments. “It’s a winning formula,” said the affordable housing developer, who added his companies do not accept public money for their projects.

— Investing more in community colleges, trade schools, and access and affordability for four-year universities “I’m going to be a governor who is a big, big fan of our community college system in Florida,” he said.

— Increasing money for university research, especially in already-established, commercially-promising specialties such as the University of Central Florida’s optics science and technology programs.

— Fostering openness to diversity in universities, and that includes foreign students and immigrant faculty and researchers, to attract “the best and the brightest.”

— Accepting Medicaid expansion, if it’s still available.

— Pushing for passage of the Florida Competitive Workplace Act, which he said will signal nationally that the state is welcoming.

— Opening markets and business opportunities for solar energy, which he said the market is moving on already, as evidenced by the high numbers of jobs in such states as Massachusetts. “We should not be just a national leader; we should be an international leader in solar,” he said.

— Promoting technologies, research, insurance products, commerce, development, and planning strategies to address rising sea levels. “It’s scary. The next governor has to be, he or she, somebody, who is not only trying to address these issues, but is trying to build markets, the products, and services of the future, to position Florida to survive this challenge,” King said. “I don’t think of it just as a problem. This is an opportunity for businesses and organizations and our best thinking.”

Gwen Graham has now raised $3 million for 2018 bid

Democrat Gwen Graham announced Sunday that she raised another $350,000 in July for her bid to be Florida’s next governor.

Graham raised $220,000 of that money through her campaign account, with the other $130,000 coming in through her political committee, “Our Florida.”

The former congresswoman ended June with $1.6 million in her committee account and $475,000 on hand in her campaign account, and while the campaign didn’t announce her on-hand total for July, it did note another 2,000 donors chipped in last month for a total of 6,700 unique donors thus far.

The haul keeps her far ahead of Democratic Primary rivals Chris King, a Winter Park businessman, and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and her news release announcing the numbers indicates she’s more focused on her Republican competition than the more immediate primary battle.

“This summer has shown why electing a Democratic Governor is vital to our state’s future,” Graham said. “While Donald Trump wages a war against our health care, threatens our citrus industry, and moves forward with drilling off our beaches, Rick Scott and Adam Putnam refuse to stand up to the president and put Florida first.

“Instead, Adam Putnam has turned to copying the president by attacking the free press,” she added. “It’s a desperate attempt to appeal to the extreme right, and it won’t work. One Donald Trump in our state — even just part time — is more than enough.”

Putnam, the state’s term-limited Agriculture Commissioner, has nearly $12 million on hand. He recently made a hard turn to the right, much to the surprise of many of his moderate Republican supporters, and Graham is seizing the chance to kick him in the shins.

Among his recent displays are imploring his Twitter followers to sign a petition to “stop fake news on CNN” and declaring himself a “proud NRA sellout,” despite criticism from others in his party that his advocacy has been non-existent for most gun bills debated in the legislature during his time as Ag. Commissioner.

So far, Putnam is the only major GOP candidate to enter the race, though he could be joined by Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala of Clearwater as soon as next week.

Both have millions on hand in their political committees, as does House Speaker Richard Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican who will decide whether to throw his hat into the ring after the 2018 legislative session.

Graham’s fundraising announcement came shortly after King’s campaign said it added $154,000 in July. Those numbers bring the businessman up to $2.4 million raised since he entered the race in April, with $1.7 million of that total on hand between his campaign account and his political committee, “Rise and Lead, Florida.”

Gillum, who had raised a total of $1.3 million between his campaign and “Forward Florida” committee through the end of June, hasn’t reported his July numbers yet, though the unofficial tally for Forward Florida on the committee’s website show just one contribution for $10,000 in July.

Andrew Gillum campaign spends $25,000 on legal fees, mostly for email investigation

Tallahassee’s Democratic Mayor Andrew Gillum has spent almost $25,000 so far on attorneys during his gubernatorial campaign, mostly due to his use of state-owned email software for campaign-related messages.

Law firm Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler got about $2,100 of that money from the Gillum campaign, with the remaining money being paid out through his political committee, “Florida Forward.”

The most recent payment was a $1,015 check from Florida Forward on July 28.

Gillum’s spending on legal fees was first written about by Matt Dixon of POLITICO Florida.

Campaign spokesman Geoff Burgan said the high legal fees were linked to Gillum’s use of state software purchased through the Tallahassee mayor’s office to send political emails. Since the improper use was outed earlier this year, Gillum has apologized and paid back the city for the software.

State Attorney Jack Campbell has not yet decided whether he will criminally charge Gillum for the software malfeasance.

Burgan also made clear that none of the fees paid out by Gillum’s campaign account or political committee were linked to an ongoing public corruption investigation the FBI is conducting on several Tallahassee business and political leaders.

The FBI is looking into several big-name developers and consultants connected to a Community Redevelopment Agency. In June, the Bureau subpoenaed several individuals, but Gillum’s name was not on the list.

Gillum’s attorney fees come in much higher than either of his Democratic rivals, former Congresswoman Gwen Graham and Winter Park Businessman Chris King, each of whom spent roughly $15,000 on attorney fees since entering the race.

Ag Commissioner Adam Putnam, the lone major Republican candidate in the race, has spent about $9,000 on attorney fees this campaign cycle.

Gwen Graham grabs four Democratic women leaders’ endorsements

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham announced Thursday she is being backed by four more women leaders from the party in Florida.

She picked up the endorsements of former state Reps. Karen Castor Dentel and Kelly Skidmore, Democratic National Committee member Alma Gonzalez, and former Gainesville Mayor Pegeen Hanrahan, Graham’s campaign announced in a news release Thursday.

“These women are leaders in our state fighting to restore public education, defend our health care, protect our environment and build an economy that works for every Floridian,” Graham said in the release. “I’m proud to have their support and look forward to working with them to take back our state and finally put Florida on a brighter path forward.”

Graham, a former congresswoman from Tallahassee, faces Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and Winter Park developer Chris King seeking the Democratic primary nomination to run for governor in 2018.

“After decades with governors undermining our public schools, blaming hardworking teachers, and over testing our kids, voters are eager for a leader who makes education a priority,” Castor Dentel, a Maitland teacher, said in the release. “As a mother, Gwen Graham understands the challenges we face and has the experience and knowledge to fight back against for-profit schools that divert public school dollars. She knows that increasing teacher pay will be a first step in addressing the teacher shortage. And Gwen will fight to fully implement the class size amendment as the voters demanded. It’s time to put our students first, and that’s why I’m proud to support Gwen Graham for governor.”

Gonzalez also is a former treasurer of the Florida Democratic Party.

“Gwen Graham understands building an economy that works for every Floridian starts in our public schools and colleges,” she stated. “Gwen will fight to increase public school funding by ending the lottery shell game, expand technical education starting in our middle schools, and expand access to our colleges and universities. To move forward, we must build a 21st-century economy and ensure our children and grandchildren have the skills they need to fill those new jobs. We will tackle this great challenge with Gwen Graham as our next Governor.”

Hanrahan, of Boca Raton, said: “Gwen Graham understands building an economy that works for every Floridian starts in our public schools and colleges. Gwen will fight to increase public school funding by ending the lottery shell game, expand technical education starting in our middle schools, and expand access to our colleges and universities. To move forward, we must build a 21st-century economy and ensure our children and grandchildren have the skills they need to fill those new jobs. We will tackle this great challenge with Gwen Graham as our next Governor.”

Skidmore added: “It’s time to send a qualified leader to the governor’s office. Gwen Graham has fought for equal pay and defending our right to choose. As governor, she’ll defend our health care, fight for paid sick time and build an economy that works for every Floridian.”

Phil Levine talks Florida places, characters in ‘non-political’ SiriusXM ‘real Florida’ show

Miami Beach Mayor Phil Levine, a potential Democratic challenger for governor in the 2018 election, premiered his “real Florida” show “A Day in the Sun” on a SiriusXM satellite radio channel Tuesday night with interviews of innovative and offbeat Floridians.

The question arises, was anybody listening to the internationally-broadcast show that’s on a high-up channel; and might Levine milk any name recognition or other advantage from a show that had him travel, by bus, interviewing Floridians, from Miami to Pensacola last month?

Levine insists the show is not about politics.

Well, maybe a little bit of politics.

In Fireman Derek’s Bake Shop and Cafe in Miami’s Midtown, Levine’s interview with owner Derek Kaplan, a former fireman who pursued his dream of baking key lime pie for a living, leads to a little talk about challenges facing a small business owner, and the importance of an entrepreneur offering benefits to his employees.

In the Versailles Restaurant in Little Havana, Levine and owner Felipe Valls and his daughter Nicole Valls chat Cuba politics, changing Cuban-American politics, and Cuban-American impact on Florida, and food, as Levine shows off his Spanish and love of Cuban cuisine.

As Levine talks with exotic plant grower and python hunter Dusty “Wildman” Crum, and later with Miccosukee Tribe member and airboat operator Betty Osceola in the Everglades, the conversations roam conservation and pollution, water issues, invasive species, tribal rights, and even sea level rise.

But, mostly, the show is about characters and places that make up Florida’s tapestry. Levine not only conducts the interviews, but narrates the intros and wrap-ups of the episodes, and of each interview segment within it, raising his own curiosities, and lavishing love on Florida.

Wealthy from his businesses and investments that include support companies for Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Levine’s non-candidacy has nonetheless raised more than $4 million in his political committee, All About Florida, including $2.3 million of his own money.

The Democrats already in the race, Winter Park developer Chris King, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee, and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and probably also the Republicans starting with Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, may be keeping their ears on him.

A Day in the Sun’s second episode will cover Tampa Bay and the lower Gulf Coast, at 6 p.m. next Tuesday on SiriusXM Channel 121, called Sirius Insight.

Adam Putnam calls on Air Force to bring F-35 squadron to Jacksonville

Agriculture Commissioner and gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam said Thursday that he wrote a letter in support of the Florida National Guard’s efforts to bring the F-35 Lightning II to Jacksonville.

“For 70 years, the 125th Fighter Wing has served Florida and our country well. With Jacksonville’s unparalleled airspace and infrastructure, no other place in the nation is better suited for a new squadron of F-35 fighters,” Putnam wrote in the letter to Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson.

“As you continue to evaluate bases for the F-35, I am confident that Jacksonville will continue to rise above the rest and if the past is prologue, then the F-35 will prove to be a success in the hands of the 125th,” he added.

Jacksonville is one of a handful of finalists to house the squadron alongside bases in Idaho, Wisconsin, Alabama in Michigan, and Florida politicians have been lobbying hard to bring the fifth generation fighter to the Sunshine State.

Putnam’s plea joins the entire Florida Congressional Delegation, who banded together in May to ask Wilson to base the new jets out of Jax. During her tenure as a congresswoman, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham also urged officials to pick Jacksonville.

State senators, spearheaded by Jacksonville Democratic Sen. Audrey Gibson, also passed a resolution in March supporting the Florida Air National Guard’s mission to bring the squadron to Jacksonville.

The economic impact of bringing the Lockheed Martin jet to the First Coast is estimated to be at least $100 million, and if Jacksonville is picked it could help stave off job losses when the military eventually phases out the F-15 Eagles currently based out of Jacksonville International Airport.

Jacksonville currently has about 1,000 full-time active air members and officials say adding the F-35 would bring around 200 more jobs to the area.

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