Gwen Graham Archives - Page 7 of 85 - Florida Politics

Gwen Graham, Ron DeSantis get biggest public financing checks

Eight statewide candidates, including four gubernatorial candidates, combined to draw $182,348 in state matching funds on Friday.

The program has now been used by statewide candidates to draw $4.7 million in public funding, nearly $300,000 more than candidates received during the entire 2014 election cycle, according to numbers posted online by the Florida Division of Elections.

Former Congresswoman Gwen Graham, one of five Democrats running for Governor, received the largest check on Friday, worth $56,028. She has now received $1.185 million from the program, which provides matches for each contribution from an individual donor that totals $250 or less.

The checks on Friday covered the period of Aug. 4 to Aug. 10.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis, a Northeast Florida congressman, had the second largest check on Friday, totaling $34,305, and has now received $920,726 from the state.

DeSantis’ primary opponent, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, received $13,694 on Friday. Putnam has received nearly $1.04 million from the program.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Democrat running for Governor, got a check Friday for $29,412 to bring his campaign matching-fund assistance to $465,688.

State Sen. Denise Grimsley, a Sebring Republican who is the only candidate for agriculture commissioner involved in the program, picked up $2,565 on Friday and has now received $258,320 from the state.

Former Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Ashley Moody, a Republican running for Attorney General, picked up $16,105 on Friday and has received $335.313 from the program.

In the Democratic race for Attorney General, Rep. Sean Shaw of Tampa received $23,696 in state dollars on Friday to bring his matching fund money to $196,459. Shaw’s primary opponent, Ryan Torrens, an attorney from Hillsborough County who received his first check from the program a week earlier, didn’t qualify for any money on Friday.

Republican Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, who doesn’t have a primary opponent and will face Democrat Jeremy Ring in the November general election, received $6,545 in matching funds Friday. Patronis has now received $295,965 from the state.

Jimmy Buffett supporting Gwen Graham with free concert in Hollywood

Parrotheads rejoice!

Musician Jimmy Buffett is holding a free concert in Hollywood to support Gwen Graham‘s bid for the Democratic nomination in the Florida gubernatorial race.

The concert will be Thursday, Aug. 23, at Hollywood ArtsPark Amphitheater. Showtime is 7:30 p.m.; doors open at 6 p.m.

This follows last week’s news that Buffett, who also spent much of his time on environmental charity work, was endorsing Graham’s campaign to become Florida’s next Governor. At the time, Thursday’s “Get Out the Vote” rally was mentioned, though details were not available yet.

Graham is hoping efforts by Buffett and others will put her over the top in the Aug. 28 Democratic primary. She’s competing against Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene, Winter Park entrepreneur Chris King, and former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine for the nomination.

A new poll shows Graham slightly ahead of Levine, with Gillum rising to third place.

Gwen Graham

NOW backing Gwen Graham in Governor’s race

In a home stretch endorsement potentially bolstering her standing on women’s issues, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham announced Monday the backing of the National Organization for Women’s Florida Political Action Committee.

The Florida NOW PAC endorsement joins those Graham already had picked up in her campaign from EMILY’s List and NARAL Pro-Choice America in her quest to stand out by gender against four men also seeking the Democratic nomination in the Aug. 28 primary.

“The Florida NOW PAC is happy and proud to endorse Gwen Graham for Florida Governor. We know that Gwen will be supportive of our issues and will bring a much-needed sense of decency, honesty and respect back to the office,” Florida NOW President Terry Sanders stated in a news release issued by the Graham campaign.

Graham faces former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, businessman Jeff Greene, and businessman Chris King in the Democratic primary.

“With Donald Trump’s nomination of another anti-choice justice to the Supreme Court, women’s rights are on the ballot this November,” Graham stated in the release. “I am proud to have the endorsement of Florida NOW. Working with their members across the state, we will defend women’s rights in Florida.”

Philip Levine plows another $5.21 million into gubernatorial campaign

Preparing for a final push in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine is putting another $5.21 million of his own cash into the campaign, according to a newly filed finance report.

Levine, a wealthy businessman, loaned the money to his campaign between Aug. 4 and Aug. 10, bringing to $18.8 million the total amount he has funneled to the campaign.

Levine last year also contributed $2.8 million to his political committee, known as All About Florida, according to finance records.

Levine is battling four other candidates in the Aug. 28 gubernatorial primary — Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, former Congresswoman Gwen Graham and businessmen Jeff Greene and Chris King.

As of Aug. 10, meanwhile, Greene had put $29.45 million of his money into the campaign.

Republished with permission of the News Service of Florida.

Bill Nelson, Adam Putnam top Orlando’s Political Salsa

Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam were the top choices at Orlando’s Political Salsa hobnob for races for Senate and Florida Governor.

With more than 400 votes, Nelson topped Republican Gov. Rick Scott 52 percent to 43 percent with Rocky De La Fuente taking the rest during the Hispanic-oriented but mostly mixed-ethnic event Thursday night.  Organizers released results over the weekend.

Putnam won a tight contest over Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum in the 16-person straw poll for Governor, with Putnam grabbing 25 percent of the votes and Gillum 23. Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis finished third with 15 percent; Democratic former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, 13 percent; Democratic former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, 11 percent; Winter Park entrepreneur Chris King took five percent; and four points for Palm Beach businessman Jeff Greene.

In a separate poll taken at Political Salsa held at Acacia, a community center for Central Florida’s Puerto Rican community,  77 percent of the participants said they support Puerto Rico statehood. Only 15 percent chose the option of independence, and 8 percent said none of the above.

Unlike many hobnob straw polls, the Political Salsa straw poll evenly divided favorites between Republicans and Democrats, offering a possible Democratic lean with several upsets.

The primary sponsors of the event were the Suarez Group of Companies and the Puerto Rican Bar Association of Florida.

Republican former Judge Ashley Moody was the pick for Attorney General, with 39 percent, compared to 27 percent for Democratic state Sen. Sean Shaw, 22 percent for Democrat Ryan Torrens, and 12 percent for Republican state Rep. Frank White.

In the race for Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, Democratic former state Sen. Jeremy Ring topped Republican Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis 51 to 49 percent.

Democrat Nikki Fried was the top choice for Agriculture Commissioner, taking 30 percent, compared with 19 for Republican state Rep. Matt Caldwell, 18 for Democrat Roy David Walker, and 17 for state Sen. Denise Grimsley, among the leaders.

In congressional races, three Democratic incumbents came out on top and one Democratic challenger took a surprise victory.

Democrat Sanjay Patel outpolled Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Posey 53 to 47 percent in Florida’s 8th Congressional District, which is Brevard County-centered with a piece of eastern Orange County.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy barely topped Republican state Rep. Mike Miller in Florida’s 7th Congressional District, covering Seminole and north and central Orange counties. Murphy polled 35, Miller 33. The other three candidates, two Republicans and a Democrat, drew totals in the low teens.

In Florida’s 9th Congressional District, Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto not only came out on top but his Democratic primary rival, former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson finished a distant third. Soto got 51, Republican Wayne Liebnitzky 34, and Grayson 15 points in that district covering Osceola, south Orange and eastern Polk counties.

In Florida’s 10th Congressional District, which covers west Orange County, Democratic U.S. Rep. Val Demings has only an upstart Democratic challenger standing between her and re-election. And that was relatively close in this poll: Demings 61 percent, Wade Darius, 39 percent.

Several surprises came in Florida House races.

Democrat Lee Mangold topped Republican David Smith 53 to 47 percent in House District 28.

Republican state Rep. Scott Plakon came out on top in House District 29, taking 44 to 40 percent for Democrat Tracey Kagan; Democrat Darryl Block took 16 points.

Republican state Rep. Bob Cortes topped House District 30, taking 49 to 22 percent against Democrat Brendan Ramirez; 20 percent went to Clark Anderson and 9 points for Joy Goff-Marcil.

Democrat Debra Kaplan led Republican state Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, 58 to 42 percent in House District 31.

Democrat Ricky Shirah was the choice in House District 39, topping Republican Josie Tomkow 54-39 percent.

Democrat Barbara Cady topped Republican state Rep. Mike La Rosa 54 to 46 in House District 42.

Republican state Rep. Bobby Olszewski topped House District 44. He drew 38, to 33 for Democratic former state Sen. Geraldine Thompson and 29 for Melanie Gold.

Democrat Anna Eskamani edged out a Republican rival the House District 47 contest with 47 percent; 42 percent went for Republican Mikaela Nix and 11 percent for Republican Stockton Reeves.

Democrat Carlos Guillermo Smith got 56 percent to Republican Ben Griffin‘s 44 in House District 49.

Democrat Pam Dirschka led the House District 50 contest with 45 percent, while Republican state Rep. Rene Plasencia took 40 percent, and Republican George Collins, 15 points.

Republican Orange County Commissioner Pete Clarke led in the contest for Orange County Mayor. Clarke grabbed 41 percent, to 35 percent for Sheriff Jerry Demings and 24 percent for businessman Rob Panepinto.

Retired Florida Highway Patrol Chief Joe Lopez pulled off a shockingly easy upset in the contest for Orange County Sheriff, topping Orlando Police Chief John Mina 51 to 28, with Democrat Darryl Sheppard finishing third with 21.

In Orange County Commission races, Republican Christina Moore was the top choice in a four-person field for District 2, leading Republican Mark Byrd 35 to 28 percent; Democrat Eric Rollings was the pick in the five-person field for District 3, leading Pete Crotty 36 to 22 percent; Gina Perez-Calhoun and Maribel Gomez Cordero were the top choices in the five-person District 4 race.

For the Seminole County Commission, Katrina Shadix was the choice in District 2, and Amy Lockhart in District 4, with both polling more than 50 percent.

For the Osceola County Commission, Wanda Rentas got 44 percent in District 2, while incumbent Commissioner Viviana Janer took 25 and Janette Martinez 24. Adam Michelin led a tight race for District 4, taking 32 percent versus 26 percent for incumbent Commissioner Cheryl Grieb, Will Fonseca taking 24, and Will Gonzalez Jr., 18 points.

Joe Henderson: Gwen Graham focused on policies, not breaking ceilings

There was an interesting moment last Thursday when Gwen Graham, the presumed leader at this point for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, stopped by the historic Columbia restaurant in Tampa’s Ybor City to accept the endorsement of Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

During his introduction of Graham, Buckhorn noted that Graham would be the first female Governor in Florida’s history, “And as the father of two little girls, I’m about breaking that ceiling.”

Graham wouldn’t go there.

She kept her remarks focused on policy and what she has to offer the state on issues like schools and the environment. She wouldn’t take the bait, either, when asked how she felt about Buckhorn as a potential running mate.

“There is plenty of time to talk about that after we win the nomination,” she said.

The message from the candidate is clear. Don’t talk about breaking ceilings and certainly don’t get ahead of things. Staying focused on explaining your policies will make more of an impression on voters than anything else.

Democrats seemed to believe in 2016 that voters would go obediently along with the idea that it was Hillary Clinton‘s time to win because she would shatter a ceiling by becoming the first female president. Voters were expected to obediently confirm that.

They did not.

That’s particularly important because even though Gwen Graham has been ahead in the polls for several weeks, there are indications that plenty of voters haven’t decided who to support — even though there is barely a week before the Aug. 28 primary. And while Graham had a good visit to Tampa, so did rival Andrew Gillum.

It was there that he snagged the full-throated endorsement of Bernie Sanders, and that got a lot of headlines. And that’s not all.

He also has received high-profile celebrity endorsements from Jane Fonda, Alec Baldwin, and several others, although it’s questionable how much that would matter at this late date.

While it does show that Gillum has strong support from progressives, in the end, who endorsed you matters far less to voters than whether they agree with your vision for the state.

Say what you will about Donald Trump, but in 2016, while Clinton was projecting an air that no one would be dumb enough to vote for him, he pounded the points over and over about border security, tax cuts, shredding regulations, and so on.

That message flipped enough key states, including Florida, to put him in the White House.

So, when I asked Graham about the $1 billion backlog in facilities maintenance at Hillsborough County public schools, she had a ready answer.

“This is another example of the starvation at our schools after 20 years of Republican rule. They have not received the resources they need for the maintenance and upkeep of the schools, and as a result, we have seen lead in the water of other school districts as well,” she said.

“When I am Governor, I’m committed to restoring the promise to public education across the state of Florida from one end to the other and give the resources back to our public schools that are desperately needed for capital improvements as well as teacher pay.”

I followed up with a question about the growth of charter schools in the state. That has been a key push for Republican lawmakers in Tallahassee.

“My concern about charter schools is that they have morphed into something they weren’t intended to be. Charter schools initially were meant to be community-based that were supported by the families and were part of the of the school district,” she said.

“They have become for-profit behemoths that are taking money away from our public schools. In many cases, we’re finding that the education they were providing is not of a quality we should expect at any school.”

Yep, it’s a campaign that’s all about the policy and not so much about the personality.

It’s an old-school notion from the daughter of an old-school politician, former Governor Bob Graham. Someone, it seems, has learned a lesson.

How the FBI f*cked Andrew Gillum

Unless a caravan of black Chevy Suburbans is spotted this week arriving at Tallahassee’s City Hall, that town’s mostly ceremonial mayor, Andrew Gillum, will have progressed through the entire Democratic primary for Florida governor.

That’s without being charged — or, perhaps more importantly, exonerated — by the FBI as part of its investigation into public corruption in the Capital City.

A year ago, rumors swirled throughout Tallahassee that arrests, including Gillum’s, were imminent. Then nothing happened.

Six weeks later, the whispers started again. And, just as before, there were no handcuffs in sight.

In July, the Tallahassee Democrat’s Jeff Burlew reported a story headlined, “‘Indictment Eve’? Charges could come soon in FBI probe, experts say.” But Indictment Day never materialized.

Such is the ebb and flow of a saga which began in June 2017 when FBI agents delivered subpoenas requesting thousands of pages of records from key players in Tallahassee government.

Gillum insists that he is not the target of the federal probe, but admits his longtime friendship with Adam Corey, a lobbyist who appears to be at the center of the investigation, and a trip to Costa Rica in which Gillum paid cash for his share of a rental house shared with Corey and others, have made him a subject of scrutiny.

Corey very well could be arrested. So, too, could Tallahassee City Commissioner Scott Maddox. Gillum could be implicated. Or not.

But it’s likely nothing will happen before Aug. 28, when Florida Democrats choose their nominee for Governor.

As the Tampa Bay Times recently reminded readers, an unofficial, but often-cited Department of Justice regulation states that federal law enforcement officials are not to discuss or act on investigations within 60 days of an election.

We all witnessed what happened when James Comey violated this unofficial rule, by sending a bombshell letter to Congress that the bureau was looking to examine new evidence relevant to Hillary Clinton’s email case. Doing so changed the course of history.

The stakes in Florida are nowhere near as high as they were in the fall of 2016, but the FBI, by taking no action one way or the other in this case, has done as much damage to Gillum’s campaign as Comey did to Clinton’s.

Point blank: The FBI f*cked Andrew Gillum.

Now, it’s still possible Gillum will prevail next Tuesday, but that’s doubtful. If not, it will be difficult not to think what might have been.

If Gillum loses, it will be because not enough black voters realize Gillum is black.


Gillum, a strong, progressive black candidate, should be the overwhelming choice of the monolithic black vote.

He’s not.

Matt Isbell, a data consultant who’s supporting Gwen Graham, said recent polls show Gillum with a maximum of 30 percent support among black voters, far shy of the 70 percent the mayor is counting on.

And why don’t more black voters know about Gillum? Because Gillum’s campaign has not, at least until recently, raised the kind of money necessary to introduce himself to enough voters, black or otherwise.

And Gillum wasn’t able to raise serious money early on because (you can already see where this is going), he was dogged by the FBI investigation.

Democratic donors, still scarred by what happened with the FBI and Clinton, were unwilling to bankroll another candidate who, if he were to be the nominee, could be filleted by the Republicans if it turned out there’s more than smoke at the center of the dumpster fire in Tallahassee.

So Gillum has persevered and is, perhaps, surging at the end. The most recent polling shows that he has moved into third place, ahead of Jeff Greene and his millions of dollars.

Bernie Sanders was in-state for him over the weekend, delivering an earned media bonanza. There’s even a poll showing Gillum in second place with Democrats in the Panhandle, a region his campaign says it’s not even targeting with TV ads.

There is a powerful photograph of Gillum from this weekend and Bernie Sanders isn’t anywhere near it. The shot is of Gillum sitting alone during a Tampa NAACP candidate forum. Of the five Democrats running for Florida governor, he was the only one to show up.

Despite the horrible start to his campaign and in the face of a scandal which has perpetually swirled around him, Gillum has shown up every day of this primary campaign. Even his critics must acknowledge that.

Unfortunately for Gillum, just as the day Donald Trump first tweeted his support for Ron DeSantis is the most important moment for the Republican, the key moment on the Democratic side was June 2017 — when the FBI started demanding records from Gillum’s City Hall.


Material from the News Service of Florida was used in this post, republished with permission. 

Statewide candidates will converge at South Florida rallies today

South Florida’s the place to be for candidates running for statewide office today. As politicians rally voters to early voting locations, where can you meet with candidates for Governor or Senate? And where will candidates’ paths converge?

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jeff Greene will campaign heavily today in Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties. After attending a service at Mt. Calvary Missionary Baptist Church with Bishop W. Oshea Granger in the morning, he will speak to the Kings Point Democratic Club at Flanders Club House in Delray Beach at 10 a.m.

Democratic candidate Philip Levine will also be at the Kings Point meeting. Levine also plans to ride with hip-hop legend Luther “Uncle Luke” Campbell to early voting at the North Dade Regional Library at 9 a.m., where Greene will campaign at noon.

A Red For Education Teacher Rally hosted by state Reps. Shevrin Jones and Nicholas Duran at the Betty T. Ferguson Community Center in Miami Gardens will also draw candidates. U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson will speak at the rally at noon, and all five major Democratic candidates for governor are expected to attend as well, including Gwen Graham, Andrew Gillum, Chris King, Greene and Levine.

Levine then heads to an early voting rally at the Sunrise Civic Center at 2 p.m. before heading to Wilton Manors for early voting at Hagen Park, where he will appear with Mayor Gary Resnick.

At the same time, Nelson and all the Democrats running for governor will attend the 2 p.m. Stronger Together Early Vote GOTV Rally at the Sunrise Civic Center Theater.

But it’s not just Democrats campaigning down south today. Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis will head to a North Miami-Dade Meet-and-Greet at 4:30 p.m. at Shuckers Waterfront Grille Rooftop in North Bay Village.

Meanwhile, the New Florida Vision PAC will work events for Gillum, including a Brunch and Vote event at Zest Miami from noon to 5 p.m. and a “Tamales and Gillum! Hollywood” event from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

This post will be updated as candidates and campaigns announce plans.

Gwen Graham, FEA ride school bus toward primary finish line

As her opponent travel the state in campaign buses, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham spent most of her weekend in a yellow dog.

Graham campaigned in South Florida Saturday via a school bus with an “Educators for Graham” banner on the side as she visited early voting locations in advance of the Aug. 28 Democratic primary. Graham rode with Florida Education Association President Joanne McCall and a host of other education and political leaders.

The FEA in June endorsed Graham as its choice for Governor, and spent the weekend educating voters as to why. Graham for her part lists the support of educators as a critical constituency.

“As students head back to school this month, I’m asking voters to join us at the polls in support of our campaign and public education,” Graham said. “I’m honored to have the support of educators and school staff across the state, and, as governor, my top priority will be to support our public schools.”

Graham took her bus tour to early voting locations in Democratic bastions of the state. She started Saturday at the Palm Beach Supervisor of Elections office in West Palm Beach, then stopped to pick up more votes at the Miami Lakes Community Center then finally ended the route at the Miramar Branch Library.

A famous parent also rode the bus, as former Sen. and Gov. Bob Graham rode with the campaign aiming to elect his daughter Florida’s first female governor.

McCall wasn’t the only top teacher in the state vouching for Graham on the trail. FEA Secretary-Treasurer Luke Flynt and a group of educators also campaigned with Graham.

Of course, educators aren’t backing Graham at the expense of other Democrats. The Red for Education Teacher Rally, taking place from 2 to 4 p.m. today in Miami Gardens, has announced all five major Democratic candidates for governor — Graham, Andrew Gillum, Jeff Greene, Philip Levine and Chris King — will be in attendance.

Gubernatorial candidates blitz Florida. Where can you find them today?

With less than two weeks before a critical primary, candidates for governor travel Florida reaching out to as many voters as possible. Where might you bump into a gubernatorial hopeful?

Democratic candidate Philip Levine, former Miami Beach mayor, today will hit early voting stations campaigning. He starts at the Joseph Caleb Center in Liberty City at 9 a.m., where he will appear alingside activist and 2 Live Crew founder “Uncle Luke” Campbell, then head to the Hollywood library at 10 a.m., the Supervisor of Elections office in Lauderhill Mall at 11 a.m., the Miramar library at noon, the Sarasota Supervisor of Elections Terrace Building office at 2:30 p.m., and finally the Supervisor of Elections office at the County Building in St. Petersburg at 4 p.m.

Republican candidate Ron DeSantis, a Ponte Vedra Congressman, will travel the Panhandle today as part of a “Freedom Tour” alongside Freedom Caucus founder Rep. Jim Jordan and Pensacola Rep. Matt Gaetz. The team stops at The Fish House in Pensacola at 10 a.m., Hampton Inn and Suites in Navarre at 1 p.m., and the Cuvée Kitchen in Destin at 3 p.m.

Republican candidate Adam Putnam, Florida’s Agriculture commissioner, meanwhile will be in Jacksonville, where his Florida First Bus Tour will swing by the Mambos Cuban Café around noon. He will campaign with Rep. John Rutherford, former Rep. Ander Crenshaw and Jacksonville City Council President Aaron Bowman.

Democratic candidate Gwen Graham, a former Panhandle Congresswoman, will be in South Florida leading a Get Out The Vote tour with the Florida Education Association. Among those campaigning with her today will be FEA President Joanne McCall and her father, retired Sen. Bob Graham. She will be at the Palm Beach Supervisor of Elections at 10 a.m., the Miami Lakes Community Center at 1 p.m. and the Miramar Library at 3 p.m.

Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum, fresh off a rally with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, will be in St. Petersburg this afternoon with Gold Star father Khzir Khan. Team Gillum with host the national figure at the African American History Museum at a 2:30 p.m. event.

This story will be updated as campaigns release more information on public appearances.

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