Jack Latvala Archives - Page 2 of 68 - Florida Politics

Tallahassee who’s-who on Rachel Perrin Rogers’ witness list in Florida Legislature suit

Rachel Perrin Rogers is seeking court testimony from a who’s-who list of Tallahassee powers and insiders in her lawsuit alleging discrimination and retaliation against her from the Florida Legislature regarding the sexual harassment claims she raised last fall against former state Sen. Jack Latvala.

Perrin Rogers, who is pursuing a lawsuit case through the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, informed an administrative law judge Tuesday that the witnesses she intends to call include Latvala, outgoing Senate President Joe Negron, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, other lawmakers, as well as Florida Legislature staff, lawyers, lobbyists and others including Florida Politics Publisher Peter Schorsch.

Her witness list was first reported Wednesday by Politico Florida.

Perrin Rogers, chief legislative aide for Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson, alleged late last fall that the once-powerful Senate Budget Committee chair and Republican gubernatorial candidate from Clearwater, Latvala, had repeatedly groped her and made unwelcome comments about her body over a period of four years. A legislative investigation of allegations against Latvala led to a special master’s report finding probable cause to support allegations. Latvala resigned Dec. 19. A separate criminal probe ended in July without any charges being brought.

Perrin Rogers filed a complaint with the EEOC, against the Florida Legislature, alleging she was the victim of discrimination and retaliation after she came forward with her accusations against Latvala. Her case was assigned to EEOC Administrative Law Judge Alexander Fernandez.

The witness list Perrin Rogers’ attorney Tiffany Cruz  filed with Fernandez on Tuesday included Bondi; Latvala; Negron; Simpson; Schorsch; Negron’s Chief of Staff Cheri Vancura; Florida Senate Legal Counsel George Meros; Jean Seawright; former Judge Ronald Swanson, who was the Special Master; state Sens. Lizbeth Benacquisto and Lauren Book; Caitlin Murray; Nancy Black-Stewart; and Florida Senate Sergeant At Arms Tim Hay.

Ray Blacklidge closes on hand cash gap with Jennifer Webb

The race to replace outgoing state Rep. Kathleen Peters in House District 69 has become one of the closest funding races this election cycle among Florida state races.

Republican Ray Blacklidge is leading his Democratic opponent, Jennifer Webb, by a comparatively small margin compared to other political contests that put Democratic challengers at a funding disadvantage.

Blacklidge has raised $236,000 to date while Webb is trailing just behind with $189,000 in total contributions, according to the most recent campaign finance filings through September 14.

Still, Blacklidge doubled down his fundraising efforts during the first two weeks of September, bringing in $57,000. During the same period, Webb raised just $7,500. Until the end of August, Webb had been leading Blacklidge in fundraising.

Blacklidge, a Madeira Beach attorney, depleted his campaign war chest during a competitive primary against St. Petersburg attorney Jeremy Bailie in which he spent nearly $71,000. Most of that spending went to Tallahassee-based Front Line Strategies for political consulting.

Blacklidge defeated Bailie 58 to 42 percent.

Webb did not face a challenger in the Democratic primary.

That shows in the two candidates’ cash on hand. Blacklidge has just $56,000 remaining in the bank while Webb has just over $80,000.

The HD 69 seat is open because Peters decided not to seek re-election. Instead, she’s running for Pinellas County Commission to replace the late John Morroni who passed away earlier this year after a long battle with cancer. Peters is considered the front-runner in that race.

Contributions rolled into Blacklidge’s campaign from conservative political committees including the political action committee that supported Jack Latvala who resigned from office earlier this year amid sexual misconduct allegations and suspended his gubernatorial bid.

Webb’s top donations this period came from the plumbers and pipefitters union and Representative Democracy, which each contributed $1,000.

Blacklidge did not have any meaningful expenditures. Webb cut two checks totally about $13,000 to the St. Pete-based political consulting firm Parsons Wilson.

SD 16 - Hooper vs. Murphy

Ed Hooper buys ads through former Roy Moore campaign consultants

Florida Senate candidate Ed Hooper paid $200,000 to the same campaign consulting group that worked on President Donald Trump’s campaign and for former U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore.

A consultant working for Hooper’s campaign insisted that the payment was a pass through media buy and that the consulting group was not directly doing work on the campaign.

Still, Murphy’s campaign fired back at the media buy.

“We generally do not comment on another’s campaign vendors, but in this case it is appropriate to make an exception.  For Ed Hooper to go out-of-state to hire the firm that worked for the disgraced pedophile, Roy Moore, is a bridge too far,” Murphy said in a statement. “Ed Hooper should immediately fire the firm and apologize to the voters of Pinellas and Pasco County for bringing these vermin to our state.”

The Strategy Group Company worked on Moore’s successful Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice campaign. Moore lost a contentious Special Election to a Democrat last year after allegations of assaulting underage girls plagued his campaign. The Special Election was held to replace now Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Moore’s district is heavily conservative.

Hooper reported the expense in his most recent campaign finance filings with the Florida Division of Elections covering contributions and expenditures from September 1-14.

The Delaware company also worked on high profile campaigns for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Congresswoman Michelle Bachman and former House Speaker John Boehner.

The GOP campaign shop’s resume reads like a who’s who of conservative victories, according to its website.

A video on the company’s home page shows a reel of candidates including Trump and Pence.

Hooper did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The former state Representative is running against another former Representative, Democrat Amanda Murphy, for the Senate District 16 seat covering parts of north Pinellas and Pasco County.

Campaign filings show Hooper, like other GOP legislative candidates, massively out-raising his Democratic opponent.

Hooper raised $17,000 during the first two weeks of September bringing his total campaign contributions to date to $500,000. Murphy raised just $15,000 during the most recent campaign reporting period bringing her total contributions to $89,000.

Murphy did not have any notable campaign expenses in her latest campaign finance filing.

Contributions to Hooper rolled in from a host of conservative groups and special interest groups including Working Together for Florida, the political action committee associated with Southwest Florida Senator Kathleen Passidomo.

Groups representing lawyers, the pool industry and agriculture industry also contributed to Hooper’s campaign.

Murphy received contributions from Ruth’s List, a liberal organization that supports female Democratic candidates, the SEIU, the Plumbers and Pipefitters PAC and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman’s Sunrise PAC.

Murphy lost her previously held House district by fewer than 700 votes to Republican Amber Mariano. The race was considered a huge loss for Democrats despite the narrow majority in a district that went against Hillary Clinton in 2016 by double digits.

Hooper left the house to run for Pinellas County Commission in 2014 where he lost to Democrat Pat Gerard.

The two are running for the seat formerly held by Jack Latvala who resigned amid allegations of sexual impropriety with a female lobbyist.

The district covers Clearwater, Dunedin, New Port Richey, Oldsmar, Safety Harbor and Palm Harbor.

The race is considered competitive. A St. Pete Polls survey in June put the race at 45-43 percent with Hooper holding a slight advantage, though that edge is within the margin of error.

It is a red district. Republicans make up about 38 percent of the district’s electorate while Democrats account for about a third. The district went plus 12 for Trump in 2016.

Unfriended: Former candidate sues over fib to get access to his Facebook posts

A former Democratic candidate for the Florida House is suing a former Chris Latvala campaign staffer, claiming she wrongly accessed his Facebook account to obtain damaging information.

In 2016, David Vogel ran and lost against the Republican Latvala for House District 67, which covers parts of north Pinellas County.

After announcing his campaign, Janice Silva sent Vogel a friend request. Weary of political operatives, Vogel questioned Silva online about the campaign and (according to a screenshot filed with the lawsuit documents in Pinellas County) told Vogel she didn’t know who Latvala was.

But Silva was actually working for Latvala and had previously worked for Latvala’s father, former Sen. Jack Latvala, according to campaign finance documents.

Vogel’s lawsuit alleges her lie also constitutes a third-degree felony for fraud, but he filed civilly for an undisclosed amount of monetary damages. 

Vogel went on to lose the election to Latvala by roughly 59 percent to 41 percent.

The lawsuit also names the Tampa Bay Times, which reported on the Facebook posts. Its reporter, Megan Reeves, is also named as a defendant; the newspaper and its reporter could both be protected under the First Amendment, however. A request for comment is pending.

Florida Politics reported on the posts at the time, but has since removed that report to avoid litigation.

Publisher Peter Schorsch explained that “although we strenuously disagree with Mr. Vogel’s characterization of our reporting — or the reporting of the Tampa Bay Times — I deleted the blog post in question rather than deal with a losing gadfly like him.”

The Times’ reporting included responses from Vogel and Latvala. Vogel lamented the “deceit” used by Latvala’s campaign to obtain the information and told the paper the posts should not have bearing on his campaign because they were made in a private forum.

Latvala told the Times the information-gathering under false pretenses was “campaign 101” and that he had done nothing wrong. Latvala is not named in the lawsuit, but said the lawsuit is “the very definition of frivolous.” 

“If he thinks that Facebook is the reason he lost, I could give him a number of reasons,” Latvala said. “Maybe the constituents were interested in having a representative that cared about all of his district, not just a particular party.”

Latvala said Vogel ran on a liberal platform and was “only looking for liberals to support him.”

“I have always conducted myself in a bipartisan fashion,” he said, adding, “I think he’s just a sore loser.”

Ed Hooper takes slim lead in SD 16 comeback bid

Former Republican Rep. Ed Hooper has taken back the lead from former Democratic Rep. Amanda Murphy in the race to fill Pasco and Pinellas county-based Senate District 16.

According to a new poll conducted over the weekend, Hooper is the pick for 47 percent of SD 16 voters with Murphy coming in just behind him with 45 percent support. Only 8 percent of those polled said they were still unsure which of the two candidates they would pick to replace former Clearwater Sen. Jack Latvala.

The St. Pete Polls survey comes six weeks after a poll from SEA Polling & Strategic Design showed Murphy on top, 41-39 percent. All public polls of the race released thus far have reflected a tight race between the two former lawmakers, with the early July measure from St. Pete Polls also showing Hooper with a 2-point lead, 45-43 percent.

SD 16 is one of the more Republican-friendly Senate districts being targeted by Florida Democrats in the fall, though Murphy has in the past shown an ability to woo GOP voters. She represented House District 36 from 2013 through 2016, when she lost to now-Rep. Amber Mariano.

That race came down to just a handful of votes despite President Donald Trump winning the Pasco-based House seat in a 20-point landslide.

Murphy is peeling off about a fifth of Republican voters in the new poll. But Hooper has seen a slight bump in support from Democratic voters compared to a few months ago. He was the favored candidate for about 17 percent of registered Democrats in the survey.

By race, Hooper holds a 4-point edge among white voters. The poll included only a few black and Hispanic voters, though it indicates a lead for Murphy among those demographics. Hooper also leads among men, 51-44 percent, while Murphy holds a 46-43 percent lead among women.

By age, Murphy leads 47-44 percent among Millennials and 53-40 percent among 50- to 69-year-olds. Hooper has a 10-point edge among Gen Xers and runs up the score among voters over 70, with 54 percent preferring him compared to a 34 percent share for Murphy.

The St. Pete Polls survey was conducted Sept. 16 via an automated phone call polling system. It received responses from 1,040 who said they planned to vote in the general election. The top-line result has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.

Hooper has been in the race since early 2016 and has raked in $490,000 in hard money and another $250,000 through his political committee, Friends of Ed Hooper. Heading into September, he had a combined war chest of $515,700.

Murphy, who entered the race in early May, has raised $73,655 in campaign dollars. Two political committee’s chaired by the former lawmaker — Working Towards Florida’s Future and Taxpayers for Responsible Government — have also collected a combined $130,000 since May. Recent finance reports show she has $101,750 banked between the three accounts.

SD 16 covers northern Pinellas County and southwestern Pasco County, including Clearwater, Dunedin, Safety Harbor, Palm Harbor, New Port Richey and Oldsmar. Republicans make up about 38 percent of the district’s electorate, while Democrats make up about a third. Two years ago, President Donald Trump carried the district by 12 points.

Deal on local property tax rates helped stabilize Florida’s budget

A leading Senate budget writer claimed vindication Friday in a lingering dispute with House leaders over whether to allow local school boards to capture all of the value of rising property values when setting local tax rates.

Rob Bradley, co-chair of the Joint Legislative Budget Commission, underscored the point during a presentation on the state’s three-year fiscal outlook by Office of Economic and Demographic Research director Amy Baker.

Baker, the Legislature’s chief economist, expects state revenues to grow by 3.3 percent or so through each of the next three fiscal years. That works out to about $1 billion per year, suggesting a stable budget picture through the near future.

Baker attributed much of that stability to last Session’s legislative compromise on the required local effort, or RLE — the minimum that school districts must raise from property owners to support county schools.

“It would be the RLE decision, mostly — to allow the required local effort to absorb the benefit of new construction,” she said.

For the past four years, the House has insisted on reductions to local property tax rates that leave those taxes level, notwithstanding increases in property values. The Legislature sent state money to help compensate the districts for the revenue losses.

Under the compromise, the House agreed to let local school districts capture the value of new construction for classrooms.

“That one decision really fundamentally changed the nature of short-term and long-term financial outlook for the state budget in a positive direction,” Bradley told reporters following the hearing.

“We need to continue to focus on decisions related to RLE, and we need to very strongly consider going back to the policy of the Legislature from four years ago, whereby the (tax) rate remained the same — there were no tax increases — but there wasn’t a subsidy from the state government to local property taxes,” he said.

Bradley, a Fleming Island Republican, took over the chairmanship of the Appropriations Committee after Jack Latvala quit the Senate following sexual harassment accusations.

House leaders, by contrast, had argued that if property owners paid more, that would equal a tax increase — even if their tax rates remain the same.

Capturing the full increase in property values would raise an additional $300 million-$323 million dollars per each of the next three fiscal years, Baker said: “Over the three-year period, that would put you somewhere between $900 million and $1 billion.”

Bradley was asked if he had seen any indication that incoming House leadership might soften its approach to the issue.

“That’s why we have Session — to have these discussions,” he said, adding, “It’s not a tax increase. We’ve plowed this ground before, and I look forward to having those discussions.”

Sanford Republican Jason Brodeur, a leading House budget writer who’s term-limited, and who sits on the commission, said the report vindicated his side’s insistence on budget restraint.

Even though he’s leaving, Brodeur has picked up little enthusiasm among House members for significant spending increases on, for example, expanding Medicare eligibility, as Democrats including gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum have advocated.

Such ideas “are simply out the window,” Brodeur said.

Nick DiCeglie

Direct mail round-up: Nick DiCeglie slammed as ‘lifelong Democrat’

There’s a new hit job showing up in Pinellas County mailboxes painting House District 66 candidate Nick DiCeglie as a “lifelong Democrat” who has contributed to “pro-amnesty liberals like Charlie Crist.”

If that’s the case, the Republican Party of Pinellas County has a problem on its hands — DiCeglie is the chair.

But it’s not the case. Far from it.

DiCeglie did give to Charlie Crist, when he ran for U.S. Senate in 2010. That was long before Crist, a lifelong Republican from Pinellas County, switched his allegiance to the Democratic Party. Also of note: DiCeglie gave to U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio later on in that election cycle.

All of his contributions since then have been to Republican candidates and committees: former Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Young, former Republican U.S. Rep. David Jolly, the Republican Party of Florida — and those are just his federal contributions.

At the state level, he’s donated exclusively to Republican politicians: Attorney General Pam Bondi, state Rep. Kathleen Peters, former state Sen. Jack Latvala, Gov. Rick Scott and future House Speaker Chris Sprowls.

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Nick DiCeglie is obviously a Republican. But that’s not the only troubling thing about the mailer. It also partially “doxxes” the candidate by listing his personal cell phone number.

That’s low. Blasting that information out to the public with a mailer pushing false and inflammatory information isn’t just irresponsible, it’s a recipe for someone to get harassed and possibly physically assaulted. As anyone who has had their information put out knows, it rarely stops at phone calls.

DiCeglie is running for the seat currently held by term-limited Rep. Larry Ahern. He faces Seminole attorney Berny Jacques in the Republican primary. Heading into the final five days of the election, DiCeglie surpassed Jacques in both total fundraising and cash on hand — he had $46,605 in the bank, much of it loans, while Jacques had less than $500 in his two accounts.

It is unclear whether the mailer attacking DiCeglie was sent by the Jacques campaign as the flipside of the document was not provided to Florida Politics. Still, campaign finance reports show Jacques spent more than $18,000 on direct mail campaigns over the last couple weeks.

Recent polls show DiCeglie with a firm lead heading into the primary election. An Aug. 13 survey of likely Republican primary voters in the coastal Pinellas district showed DiCeglie with a 44-30 percent lead over Jacques. That edge expanded to 51-34 percent among the voters who said they’d already sent in their primary ballot.

The winner of Tuesday’s election will move on to face Democratic nominee Alex Heeren in November.

HD 66 covers part of Clearwater and numerous other communities, including Belleair Bluffs, Indian Rocks Beach, Indian Shores and Seminole.

The district has a Republican lean — Ahern has held the seat since it was redrawn in 2012, when he won re-election by 6 points. His next two re-election bids ended in double-digit wins, and President Donald Trump had similar success in 2016, when he carried the district 55-41.

The mailer is below. Florida Politics has edited the picture in order to not disclose DiCeglie’s cell phone number.

Anit-Nick DiCeglie mailer

Matt Caldwell’s gun rights ad draws NRA rebuke

An NRA-endorsed candidate for agriculture commissioner is “retooling” an ad after the gun-rights group said he made a “mistake” in assigning a failing grade to a primary opponent.

Marion Hammer, the National Rifle Association’s longtime Florida lobbyist, requested that the endorsed candidate, Matt Caldwell, apologize for the ad against Republican primary opponent Denise Grimsley.

Despite Hammer’s request, Caldwell, a state House member from North Fort Myers, issued a statement that adopted a less-conciliatory tone and continued to pound Grimsley’s gun-rights voting record.

Caldwell’s campaign recently sent out a print ad that assigned to Grimsley a “D” grade for 2016 that appeared to be from the NRA. But the gun-rights group, which grades candidates on how they vote on Second Amendment issues, actually gave Grimsley, a state senator from Sebring, a grade of “B” that year, according to Hammer.

The ad and Monday’s statement from Caldwell drew rebukes from Grimsley’s campaign. Hammer repeatedly described the ad copy as a “mistake.”

“It’s clearly a mistake,” Hammer said. “And I would certainly hope that Matt Caldwell, the candidate we have endorsed, would admit that it was a mistake and apologize to her and move on. That’s the professional thing to do.”

Hammer declined to comment further after Caldwell issued a statement that continued to question Grimsley’s record on gun issues.

“In order to avoid confusion, I asked my team to retool the ad this weekend, but we will not back down from the clear contrast between ourselves and our opponents when it comes to defending the 2nd Amendment,” Caldwell said in the statement.

The disputed ad asks voters: “Who can you trust to protect your Second Amendment rights?” It then lists grades that Caldwell and Grimsley purportedly received from the NRA in 2016 and a failing mark that former lawmaker Baxter Troutman, another candidate for agriculture commissioner, received from the organization in 2008.

In responding to Hammer’s statement, Caldwell said: “It is common knowledge that Sen. Grimsley has received less than an A-rating from the NRA multiple times throughout her legislative career.”

“A simple Google search reveals that she partnered with disgraced Sen. Jack Latvala to vote against a pro-gun bill in 2014,” Caldwell said, referring to a former Clearwater lawmaker who resigned after a sexual-harassment investigation. “Additionally, ProjectVoteSmart.org lists Grimsley as having a 64 percent grade from the NRA in 2016.”

Grimsley campaign spokeswoman Sarah Bascom said that while Hammer repeatedly called the recent ad copy a “mistake,” Caldwell’s campaign has “been pushing this false attack for months and finally got busted.”

“Is Matt Caldwell admitting that his campaign knowingly lied in an ad he approved?” Bascom said. “Mudslinging is not a good look, but it usually means someone knows they are losing.”

High grades from the NRA are often coveted by Republican candidates. Under the NRA grading, a “B” signifies a lawmaker who “may have opposed some piece of pro-gun reform or supported some restrictive legislative in the past,” but is otherwise generally pro-gun.

A “D” advises NRA members that the candidate is “anti-gun” and “usually supports restrictive gun control legislation and opposes pro-gun reforms” and “can usually be counted on to vote wrong on key issues.”

Caldwell received an “A” grade in 2016 and an “A plus” for the current year.

An “A plus” grade goes to candidates who have “an excellent voting record on all critical NRA issues” and who have offered a “vigorous” defense of the Second Amendment. Grimsley received a “B plus” for the current year.

Grimsley’s marks have been attributed to her vote in 2014 on an amendment to a bill allowing people without concealed-weapons licenses to carry guns during declared emergencies.

Troutman received an “F” in 2008 after voting against a measure known as the “Bring Your Gun to Work” law, which involved mandating that employers allow workers to keep firearms in their locked vehicles at work if the employees are licensed to carry concealed weapons.

The NRA slaps an “F” on candidates it deems a “true enemy of gun owners’ rights.”

Troutman’s grade for the current year is a “C minus.” A “C” grade indicates a mixed record on NRA issues.

The fourth candidate in the race, Mike McCalister, got an “Aq” ranking from the NRA this year. The grade is based on McCalister’s response to the advocacy group’s candidate questionnaire and notes he doesn’t have a voting record on Second Amendment issues.

Money problem: Matt Caldwell calls for Denise Grimsley to return Jack Latvala cash

Clearwater state Sen. Jack Latvala may have been gone from Tallahassee for months now, but his political committee continues to be in play.

And that action is becoming an issue in the race for Agriculture Commissioner.

Per POLITICO Florida, Latvala’s Florida Leadership Committee has moved $400,000 into four other political committees run by lobbyist David Ramba. Of that pass-through money, $25,000 of it made its way to Sebring state Sen. Denise Grimsley — which Lehigh Acres Rep. Matt Caldwell’s campaign says helped her get “political welfare” (or public financing, as it is less pejoratively known).

Grimsley had returned $72,000 of Latvala lucre after the scandal broke. However, Caldwell is presently concerned with the ramifications of the recently revealed $25,000 drop.

“Denise already recognized it was wrong to take money from Jack Latvala by giving it charity — why has she continued to take his money? Was she hoping she could accept the contributions without anyone noticing? We cannot trust a Commissioner whose hand is always in the cookie jar when they need a personal bailout, or who will take money from anyone willing to write a check,” Caldwell asserted.

“Denise should return the money she received from Jack Latvala immediately. She should not accept his contributions and furthermore, should return the hard-earned money of Florida taxpayers — to the tune of nearly a quarter of a million dollars — and lead as a conservative. Public financing of statewide political campaigns is a waste of taxpayer dollars and a disservice to Florida’s hardworking families,” Caldwell added.

Grimsley’s campaign is dismissing Caldwell’s accusations as “dirty politics” from someone lagging in the polls.

“Is Caldwell implying earmarking and that Senator Grimsley is somehow engaging in such behavior? That would be very disappointing for him to engage in such nasty politics. We can only assume it is because she is the best candidate in the race and winning the primary, so now he is resorting to attacking her,” said Grimsley campaign spokesperson Sarah Bascom in an email to Florida Politics. “We also find it ironic that he calls on her to return campaign financing that candidates he is actively supporting have also accepted.

“Is he also going to call on all of the candidates that have accepted these funds to return them or is this just another political stunt to revive his campaign? He can’t have it both ways.”

This has been an expensive race, with all three candidates encountering name ID challenges.

Grimsley and Caldwell have each raised more than $2 million, and have over a million each on hand. Rep. Baxter Troutman of Winter Haven has invested $3 million of his own money in the race.

Ed Hooper clears $650K raised, Amanda Murphy cracks $100K in SD 16 battle

Former state Rep. Ed Hooper continued piling on to his fundraising lead in the race for Senate District 16, adding $37,156 to his war chest last week.

Hooper, a Clearwater Republican, is running against former state Rep. Amanda Murphy, a New Port Richey Democrat, for the Pinellas and Pasco-based state Senate seat that was held by Sen. Jack Latvala before his resignation late last year.

Between July 21 and July 27, Hooper raised $21,156.00 in hard money and tacked on another $16,000 via his political committee, Friends of Ed Hooper. That haul included a $15,000 check from Working Together For Florida PAC, the main fundraising vehicle of Naples Republican Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, a candidate for the 2022-2024 Senate presidency.

Hooper’s accounts only shelled out $5,575 during the weeklong reporting period, including $2,086 for email and social media marketing and a host of charges for canvassing work. All told, Hooper has raised nearly $660,000 between the two accounts since entering the race in early 2016. He had $492,647 banked at the end of the reporting period.

Murphy, meanwhile, showed $4,615 in contributions for her campaign account last week while her two political committees — Working Towards Florida’s Future and Taxpayers for Responsible Government — haven’t shown signs of life since shortly after she entered the race in mid-May.

Her new report included a check from personal injury law firm Disparti Law Group for $1,000, the maximum allowable contribution for state legislative races, as well as 22 smaller contributions, most of them from individuals. The report also showed $20,000 worth of “in-kind” support from the Florida Democratic Party to cover research and campaign consulting costs.

After spending just $225 for the week, Murphy had $28,293 left in her campaign account. Including committee cash, Murphy has raised $103,625 between her three accounts and had a combined $86,763 on hand on July 27.

Murphy is the lone Democratic candidate running for SD 16, while Hooper faces some nominal opposition in the Aug. 28 Republican primary. Hooper’s opponent, Palm Harbor restaurateur Leo Karruli, has raised $5,446 and kicked in another $30,025 in candidate loans. His new report shows him with a negative balance in his campaign account.

SD 16 has a Republican edge — it voted plus-12 for Donald Trump in 2016. However, polling has consistently shown the seat is winnable for a Democrat. A June survey from St. Pete Polls shows Hooper and Murphy in a competitive race, with Hooper holding a 45-43 advantage. That edge falls within the poll’s margin error.

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