Jack Latvala Archives - Page 4 of 37 - Florida Politics

A rundown of the real winners and losers from Florida’s general election

Tuesday’s slate of general elections in Florida certainly provided a list of winners and losers, and I’m not just talking about the candidates. Here is my list of the real winners and losers coming out of Election Day.

Winners

Rick Scott — The Naples Republican was an early backer of the president-elect, comparing Trump’s rise to his own 2010 gubernatorial run and even penning an op-ed way back in January saying Trump captured “the frustration of many Americans.” No doubt he’s taking notes for his own rumored 2018 U.S. Senate bid.

Blaise Ingoglia — Republicans keep their majority in the Florida House and Senate. Rubio easily re-elected to a second term. And Florida helps send Trump to the White House. It’s a good time to be the head of the Republican Party of Florida.

Joe Gruters — The Sarasota GOP chairman stood by Trump through a series of controversies, and will go down as one of his most loyal supporters. Bonus: He cruised to victory in House District 73, crushing his Democratic opponent.

Brian Ballard — It took him three tries to find his winning horse, but what a bonanza is now in store for him. The president-elect of the United States of America is his client, for goodness’ sakes. The only question now is to which country does Ballard wish to serve as ambassador.

Susie Wiles — Does she know how to pick them? Wiles was an early supporter of Trump, even taking over his Florida operations. Like Gruters, she’ll go down as one of his most loyal supporters.

Roger Stone — All in on Team Trump from Day 1. He issued an ominous warning in early October about the WikiLeaks dump. Did he have inside info? Maybe. But his prediction of a Trump presidency was on point.

Steve Crisafulli — The outgoing House speaker dedicated much of his time to helping Trump in Florida, raising money for the president-elect and helping bring Trump to the Space Coast for campaign rallies. Could Speaker Crisafulli be on a short list for an administration post? He has said he would consider an offer if one came along.

Meredith O’Rourke, Trey McCarley, Kris Money — When Republican campaigns want to raise money in the Sunshine State, these are the fundraisers they turn to. So it’s no surprise the Trump team turned to O’Rourke, McCarley, and Money to help raise campaign cash from Florida donors.

Richard Corcoran — There will be a lot of friendly faces when the speaker-designate officially takes charge in a few weeks. No Republican incumbents lost their re-election bid, and the GOP even picked up a few seats.

Florida Senate Leadership — In a “Fair Districts” environment, there was talk that the GOP majority in the upper chamber was in jeopardy. Hardly. It’s now 25-15 Republican with sometimes-not-a-team-player Miguel Diaz de la Portilla not coming back.

Gwen Graham — By default, she is now the leader of the opposition to Republican hegemony in Florida AND, truly, the Florida Democrats’ only hope for redemptionBob Buckhorn and Phillip Levine should announce today they are not running for governor so that the field is clear for Graham to go to war against Putnam/Weatherford/Corcoran/Latvala/Beruff.

Matt Gaetz — He was already on his way to Congress, but something tells me he will thrive in a Trump’s Washington D.C.

Carole Crist — Eight years after marrying Charlie, she finally gets to celebrate at an election night party.

John Morgan — The only expletive-filled rant you’ll hear from this medical marijuana advocate today will be one of joy.

Ben Pollara and Brian Franklin — Beat off a serious opposition campaign to help guide the 2016 medical marijuana ballot initiative to a decisive victory.

Costa Farms — Floridians gave a resounding “yes” to medical marijuana, and the Miami-Dade grower is well-positioned to get a big boost in business from the growing market.

AFP-Florida — Knocked on more than one million doors, talked with more than three million voters by phone, flooded the airwaves and filled Floridians’ mailboxes all in the name of taking down “Pay More Patrick.” Looks like Americans for Prosperity’s $2.5 million investment in Florida’s Senate race worked.

Marion Hammer — Diaz de la Portilla single-handedly kept major pro-gun legislation from being heard in the Florida Senate. With DLP out of the way, Hammer should be locked-and-loaded next legislative session.

Team Rubio — If you separate the man from his machine, you have to give props to Rubio’s vaunted campaign staff, which led the Republican to a 717,000-vote margin over Murphy. Credit goes to Alberto MartinezTodd Harris, and Heath and Malorie Thompson.

Matthew Van Name – Crist is not the easiest candidate to manage, but in his first time as a CM, Van Name quarterbacked the former governor to victory.

Team Curbelo — Give Chris MilesNicole Rapanos, and Roy Schultheis a hand for Rep. Carlos Curbelo’s resounding victory in Florida’s 26th Congressional District. They’re young; they’re smart and they’re fiercely dedicated to Curbelo.

Team Mast — Jose Mallea and Zach Burr were part of the formidable team that helped turn Florida’s 18th Congressional District back to red, sending Republican Brian Mast, a combat veteran and political newcomer to Washington. This is one congressional seat you can’t buy.

Rob Bradley — Behind the scenes, he was a chief surrogate and top fundraiser for Keith Perry‘s narrow victory over Rod Smith in state Senate District 8.

Joel Springer — Perhaps the most underrated political brain in Florida politics, but the man behind the GOP’s Senate campaign operations seems always to win.

James Blair — Going into Tuesday, the talk was that the GOP would lose as many as 10 (!) seats in the Florida House. Not under Blair’s watch, as he laid claim to the title of “the new Frank Terraferma.”

Marc Reichelderfer and Chris Spencer — The consultant and the campaign manager for Dana Young helped fend off a strong challenge from a smart, well-financed Democrat. Of course, Young worked her tail off as her campaign made personal contact with 85,000 SD 18 voters.

Consensus Communications — The firm had its hand in more than 20 key races across four states, creating dozens of winning TV spots, digital ads and mail pieces. In Florida, the firm worked with worked with candidates up and down the ticket. The firm played a role in the campaigns of incoming U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, state Sens. Keith Perry and Dana Young, state Reps. Jayer Williamson and Mike Miller, and Pam Gould for Orange County School Board. They also were involved in the Osceola School Tax initiative, and Orange County Charter Questions 1, 2, 3.

Front Line Strategies — Came out on top Tuesday with a host of wins in their back pockets. Winners included first-time candidates Bobby PayneChuck ClemonsByron DonaldsDon HahnfeldtStan McClain, and Bob Rommel. They also helped bring home victories for Reps. Bob Cortes, Manny DiazJay FantTom GoodsonMaryLynn MagarElizabeth Porter, and Jay Trumbull, and Sens. Dennis Baxley and Doug Broxson.

Tim Baker, Brian Hughes — Another day, another victory for Jacksonville’s dynamic duo, this time getting conservative Northeast Florida voters to sign off on the possibility of slots.

Anthony Pedicini and Tom Piccolo — If you are the tip of the spear in Tampa Bay for the speaker-designate, you don’t lack for work. The two GOP operatives enjoyed several victories for their House campaign clients. Also, an attagirl to Ryan Wiggins for her work in HD 60 and other races.

St. Pete Polls — Despite what Marc Caputo thinks :-), the little polling shop that could nail the outcomes of Crist versus Jolly, Smith versus Perry, and Buesing versus Young. And, don’t forget, it was the first poll (back in July 2015) to predict Trump would win Florida.

Christian Ulvert — A rare bright spot for the Democratic consulting class, chalking up wins for Jose Javier RodriguezRobert AscencioBen Diamond, and Nick Duran.

Florida’s sugar cane growers — After ending up on the receiving end of attacks from Florida’s environmental activists, candidates receiving support from sugar cane farming companies like U.S. Sugar and Florida Crystals won big Tuesday. Sugar industry lobbyists picked winning horses including Sens. Bill MontfordDana YoungKelli StargelDarryl RousonVic TorresBobby PowellGary FarmerDaphne CampbellDoug BroxsonGeorge GainerTravis HutsonRandolph BracyDennis BaxleyDorothy HukillJack LatvalaVictor TorresDebbie MayfieldEd RoussonRene Garcia, and Frank Artiles. In the House, candidates included Reps. Matt CaldwellRay RodriguesManny DiazPepe Diaz, and Holly Raschein.

Christina Johnson — The public affairs pro is $1,000 richer after winning bets against David Johnson that Trump would win Florida and the presidency.

Mixed bag

Marco Rubio — Good news? He won his re-election bid bigly. Bad news? With Trump on his way to the White House, he’s stuck with the job for the next six years.

Pam Bondi — All her hard work for Trump paid off, but it wasn’t all celebratory parties for Bondi. Her former boss, Mark Ober, lost his seat as the Hillsborough County State Attorney, in a tight, tight race.

Sarah Bascom — Any time your cousin loses a congressional race, it’s a tough night, but when you are the PR firm sending out the official statements from both the speaker-designate and the Senate president-designate (along with wins in CD 2, SD 18, and 40) things have a way of working themselves out.

Kevin Cate — Finally helps delivers a victory for Crist, but that “Clinton will win Florida in a landslide” prediction could haunt him.

Eric Johnson — The Democratic consultant could be in the losers column, but just the fact that he got Murphy — who was shown to be a highly flawed candidate — this far is a testament to how smart he is.

Jack Latvala — His ally DLP went down, and he was way out front in his opposition to Amendment 2, but that was a principled stand that may turn out to be very right once there are pot shops on every corner.

Editorial boards — Among Florida newspapers, only the Florida Times-Union endorsed Trump. But the ed boards were the de facto opposition campaign to Amendment 1, which failed to reach 60 percent.

My predictions — Last Wednesday on “The Usual Suspects,” I predicted Trump would win Florida by two or three points. But then I let Schale and Co. and those damn memos get into my head and I backed off my prediction. Grrr. Down-ballot, I called Rubio’s big win, the right percentage Amendment 2 received, Crist’s win over Jolly and Murphy’s win over Mica, DLP going down, and was the only person to suggest Amanda Murphy was in trouble. But I also predicted that some South Florida Republicans, including Mike Bileca, would lose.

The Biggest Loser

Scott Arceneaux — The Washington Generals won more than the Louisiana native, whose sole talent — beyond convincing otherwise smart people to hire him — is finding new ways to make the Florida Democratic Party less relevant each cycle.

Losers

Bill Nelson — Not that he thought he’d go unchallenged in 2018, but after last night, the bull’s-eye on his back tripled in size.

Allison Tant — See above what’s written about Scott Arceneaux.

Florida Democrats — There are not enough dumpster fire gifs created to articulate how much the donkeys suck.

Oscar Braynon — The incoming Senate minority leader had the chance to pick up a few seats in South Florida, but couldn’t get it done. The reason? He blames Trump.

“The Fortress of Democracy” — We’re still not sure about what Matt Dixon reported about in May, but if the shadowy Democratic-aligned Florida Alliance was supposed to make the state go blue, it failed spectacularly.

The voters of House District 36 — Republican Amber Mariano may turn out to be the Doogie Howser of Florida politics, but she’s only 21 years old. Swapping her for the capable and decent Amanda Murphy seems like the worst kind of party-line voting.

Mike Fernandez — The Miami billionaire and mega-supporter of the Bush family went all-in on Clinton. Looks like that $2 million pledge to help the Democratic nominee could have been better spent elsewhere. He also backed Murphy and Jolly.

Tom Rooney — An early supporter of Trump, Rooney was one of a few Republicans who withdrew his support after tapes of the then-nominee making vulgar comments about women were released. Rooney won re-election by a margin of 28 percentage points, but you have to wonder how much bigger the lead would have been had he stayed on the Trump train.

Ryan Tyson, Steve Schale, and other handicappers — Don’t worry guys, we won’t hold it against you. You can’t always be right.

Quinnipiac University and almost all the other pollsters — Q-poll’s final call of Florida: Clinton +1. Bet polling director Peter Brown also predicted the Indians would beat the Cubs.

Laura Jolly’s friends on Facebook — The feed of the wife of U.S. Rep. David Jolly was filled with warm, optimistic photos and messages from the campaign trail. There were even puppies! We’ll miss hitting the like button underneath her posts.

Candidates supporting buying up sugar cane farmland — These candidates include Mary HigginsCrystal LucasRobert SimeoneJohn Scott, and Charles Messina. As with the primary, voters delivered a strong rebuke among state House candidates calling for buying sugar cane farmland. The lack of candidates who will support a land buy in the Legislature dealt a significant blow to environmental activists’ plans for action next session.

Duke, FPL, Gulf Power, TECO — Poured millions upon millions of dollars into Amendment 1, but it wasn’t even close when the results came in. The utility companies need to figure out a way to stop being made out as bogeymen when they’re actually pretty good at delivering their product.

Florida Education Association — The teachers union went all in for Dwight Bullard in SD 40 and came away empty-handed.

Redistricting — It was supposed to reset the Florida Legislature, but did anything but. Democrats only flipped one district, which means the new Florida Senate looks a whole heck of a lot like the old Florida Senate.

Ruth’s List — Marley Wilkes and her team raised beaucoup bucks for pro-choice women candidates, all of whom save Daisy Baez, lost.

Tampa Bay Democrats — So much for Hillsborough and Pinellas being bellwether counties. They were as red as hamburger meat. A lot of grassroots activists deserve credit here, but my paisano Nick DiCeglie and his lieutenants Todd Jennings and Matt Lettelier deserve a shoutout.

John Dowless and Alan Byrd — Faced with the toughest challenge of his 20-plus-year congressional career, Rep. John Mica’s team couldn’t seem to get their guy across the finish line.

Mac Stipanovich, Rick Wilson, and so many others — How did that #NeverTrump movement work out for you? At least Mac and Co. are established enough that they can still say “F*ck you” to anyone who gives them sh*t.

Final round-up of the money chase in Tampa Bay’s legislative races

On Friday, candidates released their final campaign finance reports before Election Day, and reports out of Senate District 18 show Tampa Republican Rep. Dana Young pressing her fundraising advantage in the race with $1.2 million in spending.

Young spent more than $500,000 of campaign’s war chest in between Oct. 22 and Nov. 3, most of it heading to a media buy with Mentzer Media Services.

The exiting House Majority Leader also raised $67,000 for her SD 18 campaign, leaving her with about $113,000 on hand in her campaign account heading into the final few days of the election cycle.

Her political committee, “Friends of Dana Young,” spent even more money, with $700,000 heading to the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee chaired by incoming Senate President Joe Negron. Young’s PAC had about $200,000 on hand Nov. 3.

Young is running against Democratic attorney Bob Buesing and a pair of NPA candidates for the Tampa-based seat, but none of her opponents have come close to competing in the money race.

Despite raising another $76,000 in contributions and putting another $35,000 of his own money into the race during the two-week reporting period, Buesing’s total fundraising is less than a quarter of what Young has been able to pull in through her campaign and committee accounts.

Buesing’s $111,000 performance was coupled with $119,000 in spending, mainly on media buys through Chicago-based AL Media. His campaign had about $53,000 in the bank heading into the final five days.

Joe Redner, the better funded of SD 18’s two NPA candidates, didn’t post any contributions during the period, though he did spend $35,000 on media. Fellow NPA candidate Sheldon Upthegrove also laid an egg in his report and showed a $100 account balance Nov. 3.

The other five Senate seats covering Hillsborough or Pinellas counties are pretty much decided, with Sens. Tom Lee, Bill Galvano and Jeff Brandes all winning re-election unopposed, and Clearwater Republican Sen. Jack Latvala only facing a write-in candidate.

The SD 19 race between Democratic Rep. Darryl Rouson and Republican John “Mr. Manners” Houman is also looking like a runaway.

Rouson raised another $41,000 during the reporting period and spent $23,000, leaving him with about $85,000 in the bank for the final stretch. Houman, best known for his nontraditional campaign website, added $0 during the period and has about $60 in the bank.

In the House, Republican Reps. Jake Raburn, Janet Cruz, and Jamie Grant have secured victory, and Sean Shaw is already on the list for the freshman class. Also expect to see Chris Latvala, Chris Sprowls, and Larry Ahern hang on to their seats with little fanfare.

In HD 63, Republican Rep. Shawn Harrison brought in about $46,000 and was outraised by Democrat Lisa Monelione, who added $55,500 to her campaign coffers.

Harrison still has the cash on hand lead with about $38,000 in the bank compared to about $10,000 for Montelione, though a money lead may not be enough to keep him in the swing seat come Tuesday.

South Pasadena Republican Rep. Kathleen Peters is also facing a decently funded Democrat, Jennifer Webb, though she out-raised her 3-to-1 in her new report.

Peters added about $61,500 and spent about $100,500, mainly on a TV buy, leaving her with about $113,000 in the bank. Webb took in another $21,000 and spent about $19,000, leaving her with about $13,000 on hand.

Republican HD 59 Rep. Ross Spano also outraised his opponent, Democratic attorney Rena Frazier, with $26,600 in contributions compared to her $13,500 haul. Both candidates spent nearly $60,000 during the reporting period, and Nov. 3 Spano had about $66,000 in the bank compared to $31,000 for Frazier.

 In HD 60, Republican Jackie Toledo crossed the $300,000 mark in total fundraising after bringing in another $38,000. Toledo, who is running to replace Young, spent $55,600 and had about $73,000 in the bank Nov. 3.

Her opponent, Democrat David Singer, raised about $8,800 and spent $8,300 leaving him with just $5,000 in the bank for the final stretch. At $161,00, his total fundraising is about half of Toledo’s.

Money flow shows teamwork between former rivals Jack Latvala, Joe Negron

Clearwater Republican Sen. Jack Latvala and incoming Senate President Joe Negron buried the hatchet long ago and, according to the most recent numbers from Latvala’s political committee, the two are very much playing on the same team.

On Nov. 2, the Florida Leadership Committee, which served as Latvala’s war chest during the race for the Senate presidency, put $300,000 into the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee chaired by Negron.

FRSCC has not updated its financials to reflect that, though at that point it had raised more than $16.6 million and had nearly $10 million of that money on hand.

The committee’s numbers are sure to be monstrous when released, especially with Latvala and the committees of other top Senate Republicans putting their fundraising might behind it.

Bradenton Sen. Bill Galvano’s committee shows an unofficial tally of $425,000 in transfers to the FRSCC since Oct. 28, while fellow future Senate President and Trilby Republican Sen. Wilton Simpson has also chipped in heavily in recent weeks. His committee, “Jobs for Florida,” shows $400,000 heading to FRSCC since Oct. 24.

The committee has a lot of state Senate candidates to support this cycle, with formerly safe Republican seats transformed into tight districts after Florida courts ordered that legislative maps be redrawn.

Among the top targets for both parties are the Senate District 8 contest between Republican Rep. Keith Perry and former Democratic Sen. Rod Smith; the SD 18 race between Republican Rep. Dana Young and Democratic attorney Bob Buesing; the battle between Republican Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla and Democratic Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez in SD 37; and Republican Rep. Frank Artiles, race against Democratic Sen. Dwight Bullard in SD 40.

Direct mail round-up: Jack Latvala reminds Pinellas voters what’s at stake this election

A new mailer from Clearwater Republican state Sen. Jack Latvala offers a simple message: “This election is not just about Washington D.C.”

Latvala’s mailer lets Pinellas County voters know what he believes is at stake this November — at both the state and local levels — with a handy voters’ guide for down-ballot races.

“It’s also about Florida and Pinellas County!” he says.

On the congressional level, the mailer suggests support for Republicans Marco Rubio for U.S. Senate and David Jolly for Florida’s 13th Congressional District. Photos of Democratic opponents — Congressman Patrick Murphy and former Republican Gov. Charlie Crist — are shown shadowed with their faces crossed out.

“Of these men, who can best be trusted to keep our taxes low, our nation secure and government out of our lives,” the flyer says. “YOUR VOTE could make the difference in these races.”

As for representing Pinellas in Tallahassee, Latvala is joined by state Reps. Chris Latvala of House District 67 and Chris Sprowls of HD 65.

“Do we want to turn back the clock on our state to a time when crime rates were skyrocketing, taxes were increased every year, and our public schools had no accountability?” Latvala asks. “YOUR VOTE can keep leaders like Jack Latvala, Chris Sprowls, and Chris Latvala fighting for us in Tallahassee!”

Locally, the flyer endorses Mike Mikruak for Pinellas County Commissioner; if he wins, it could result in a return to Republican majority on the board.

“YOUR VOTE for Mike Mikurak can help Republicans win back the majority on our County Commission that was lost in 2014 for the first time in 50 years!” the mailer says.

With such discord at the top of the presidential ticket this year, Latvala’s flyer reminds us that all politics — and good governance — is indeed local.

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Here’s where sh*t stands in Tampa Bay’s legislative races

With two weeks to go until Election Day, the Tampa Bay area’s Senate seats are pretty much decided. Welcome back Sens. Jack Latvala and Tom Lee and say hello to Darryl Rouson, who should cruise past John “Mr. Manners” Houman to win the SD 19 seat.

Tampa Republican Rep. Dana Young still has a race ahead of her for the SD 18 seat, however.

Young is running against Democrat Bob Buesing and a pair of high-polling, no-party candidates for the Hillsborough County seat, and has maintained a major fundraising advantage throughout the contest.

As of Oct. 14, the veteran lawmaker had more than $585,000 on hand in her campaign account and another $1 million in her political committee, “Friends of Dana Young.”

Buesing picked up $20,000 from Oct. 8 through Oct. 14, though he only has about $40,000 in the bank, while NPA candidates Joe Redner and Sheldon Upthegrove hovered near the $0 mark.

Young’s only threat in this race is the district’s leanings — it voted narrowly for President Barack Obama four years ago.

In the House, Republican Reps. Jake Raburn, Janet Cruz, and Jamie Grant have secured victory, and Sean Shaw is already on the list for the freshman class. Also expect to see Chris Latvala, Chris Sprowls, and Larry Ahern hang on to their seats with little fanfare.

Many incumbents are still in election mode, though.

Republican Rep. Shawn Harrison is facing Democrat Lisa Montelione in the HD 63 race, which could be tough for Harrison despite his solid fundraising advantage, given the district’s history of flipping parties every two years.

After adding $22,500 in contributions during the last reporting period, Harrison had about $60,000 in the bank compared to $23,000 for Montelione, who added $24,000 between Oct. 8 and Oct. 14.

In HD 69, incumbent Republican Rep. Kathleen Peters is facing a moderate challenge from Democrat Jennifer Webb, who has raised a total of $131,000 so far.

Peters is still far in the lead in fundraising with nearly $350,000 raised and about $135,000 on hand compared to about $6,000 for Webb. The vote could be tight in the Pinellas County district, though.

Back in 2012, Peters won the seat by four points against Democrat Josh Shulman, while that margin exploded to 16 points in the midterm contest against Scott Orsini.

Republican Rep. Ross Spano is also faces a well-funded opponent for the HD 59 seat, but like most other bay area Republicans, he’s managed to keep the lead in the money race.

Spano added $22,500 in contributions during the reporting period for a total of $318,000 raised, with $126,000 of that money on hand. Democratic attorney Rena Frasier added just $5,565 for the week and spent more than $50,000 on campaign communications, leaving her with about $65,000 in the bank.

Republicans hold a slight edge in HD 59, which came through for Spano four years ago when he won a nail-biter against Democrat Gail Gottlieb by about one point.

In HD 68, Democrat Ben Diamond has a slight cash-on-hand lead over Republican Joseph Bensmihen in the race to take over for exiting Democrat Dwight Dudley. Diamond’s total fundraising of $350,000 is nearly 10-fold higher than the competition and this seat is likely his for the taking.

The HD 60 race is playing out similarly, with Republican Jackie Toledo bringing in $29,250 during the reporting period for an on-hand total of about $69,000. Her competition, Democrat David Singer, added $11,360 for the week and has about $33,000 in the bank.

HD 60 has the potential to be somewhat competitive, though the district tends to break towards Republicans as evidenced by current HD 60 Rep. Dana Young’s easy elections to the coastal Tampa seat.

Latest on the legislative staffing merry-go-round

With a tip of the hat to LobbyTools, here are the latest movements — both on and off — the legislative merry-go-round.

Off: Mia Simon is no longer a legislative assistant for Fort Myers Republican state Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto.

On: Dane Bennett is now Benacquisto’s new legislative assistant.

Off: Cameron Pennant is no longer a district secretary for Naples Republican Rep. Matt Hudson.

Off: Collin Kenline is no longer a district secretary for Tallahassee state Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda.

On: Carlecia Collins is a new Tallahassee office legislative assistant for Clearwater Republican state Sen. Jack Latvala.

Bipartisan backing finds Tracie Davis, but Mark Griffin holds HD 13 money lead

In recent debates and interviews with this outlet, HD 13 Democrat Tracie Davis has discussed being trusted by both sides of the aisle.

Davis’ latest campaign finance report, spanning the gap between Oct. 8 and Oct. 14, shows that trust for Davis, who just got into the race as a general election candidate in early October.

Davis raised $5,200 in that week, including from political action committees that make a habit of supporting Republicans as much as they do Democrats.

The “Citizens for Principled Leadership” political committee  gave Davis $1,000 on Oct. 10. The committee also has given money in the past to Republicans, including Sen. Jack Latavla, Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, and Rep. Debbie Mayfield.

“North Florida Citizens for Justice” gave Davis $1,000 on Oct. 12. The committee works both sides of the aisle, giving to Democrats such as Sen. Audrey Gibson and Rep. Mark Pafford, while also backing Republicans such as Sen. Travis Hutson, Rep. Cyndi Stevenson, and Rep. Paul Renner.

The “Florida Justice” political action committee likewise maxed out for Davis. This committee is a frequent donor to the Florida Democratic Party, but also has been known to give money to Republican Party of Florida chairman Blaise Ingoglia.

All told, Davis has just under $8,000 on hand for the stretch run of her campaign.

Davis’ Republican opponent, Pastor Mark Griffin, both raised and spent more than his Democratic opponent in the same week, however.

Griffin raised $5,710 during the week, and spent $10,343; all told, the reverend has just over $23,500 on hand.

Among Griffin’s donations: $1,000 from Swisher International, a notable donation in light of his remark during a debate with Davis on Friday that the Jacksonville cigar company has outsourced some operations to the Dominican Republic.

Of the $10,343 of expenditures Oct. 8-14, $9,973 went to IHeart Media for campaign ads, ensuring Davis and Griffin will have dueling radio spots in the Jacksonville market for the balance of the campaign.

Party, PAC money seeps into nonpartisan municipal races

When candidates run for local nonpartisan offices — mayor, council member, or commissioner — they’re supposed to keep party politics out of the conversation.

And, for the most part, that’s the way it is. But in some races this year, partisan money is helping finance local candidates.

Take the City of Largo, for example, where incumbent Curtis Holmes is facing Neil McMullen in the race for Seat 3 on the city commission. McMullen is a descendant of one of Pinellas County’s founding families.

Thus far, Holmes is outpacing McMullen in fundraising. The incumbent has raised $17,335 to McMullen’s $9,550.

Holmes is showing $500 each in donations from the Suncoast Better Government Committee and the Florida Leadership Committee. Both groups say they are not affiliated with any political party or other political action groups. But, the Suncoast Better Government Committee is affiliated with Republican state Rep. Chris Latvala (who also donated $50 to Holmes). And, the Florida Leadership Committee is affiliated with Chris Latvala’s father, state Sen. Jack Latvala, also a Republican.

Holmes also received $100 from Mike Mikurak, the Republican running against Pinellas County Commissioner Charlie Justice, a Democrat.

McMullen is benefiting from the other side of the political aisle. He’s received donations from the Greater Pinellas Democratic Club ($250), the Stonewall Democrats ($200) and the Largo/Mid-Pinellas Democratic Club ($100).

McMullen also received $40 from Lorena Grizzle, the Democrat who wants to unseat Republican state Rep. Larry Ahern in HD 66.

In Dunedin, some races are notable for the amount of money being raised and spent: Bruce Livingston, who’s running for mayor, has raised about $53,757 for a part-time job that pays $10,000 a year. Maureen Freaney, a former assistant county administrator, has raised $34,640 in her run for the Seat 1 on the commission. Heather Gacy, running for Seat 3 on the Dunedin commission, has raised about $29,392. Dunedin commissioners earn $8,000 a year.

Partisan and money from political action committees are also showing up in Dunedin races.

Mayor Julie Bujalski has received donations the Stonewall Democrats of St. Petersburg ($500). She’s also received $1,000 each from the nonpartisan Realtors Political Activity, the Realtors Political Action, and the Realtors Political Advocacy committees. The first two share an address in Tallahassee. The Political Advocacy group is from Orlando.

Her opponent, Livingston, has received $1,000 from Liberty Florida, a PAC tied to Liberty Insurance. Former Republican County Commissioner Susan Latvala has donated $100 to his campaign.

Freaney received $500 from the Florida Leadership Committee. She also received donations from the nonpartisan Florida Fire PAC and the Dunedin Firefighters Association. Susan Latvala and former Pinellas Sheriff Jim Coats, a Republican, also donated $200 each to her campaign.

Freaney’s opponent, Mike Jones, has raised about $10,996.

Gacy received $1,000 from Floridians for Economic Freedom, a political action group chaired by Republican state Rep. Chris Sprowls. Sprowls, a Republican, is facing Democrat Bernie Fensterwald in the HD 65 race.

Gacy’s opponent, Reuben Hepburn, has raised $7,188.39.

Jack Latvala calls for delegation to meet again to discuss Pinellas sewer woes

State Sen. Jack Latvala has called for a follow-up workshop meeting of the Pinellas legislative delegation to hear and discuss the effects of the recent discharge of untreated sewage into Tampa Bay waters by cities in Pinellas County during Hurricane Hermine.

The meeting will be Nov. 16, from 9-11:30 a.m. at the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital Education and Conference Center, 701 4th St. S. in St. Petersburg.

Part of the event will be a presentation by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. This meeting will be in a workshop format, and while the public is invited to attend, it must end promptly at 11:30 a.m., so there may be limited time for public input.

It will be the second time the Clearwater Republican called a delegation meeting to discuss the county’s sewer woes.

The first meeting, in September, came after St. Petersburg discharged untreated and partially treated wastewater into Tampa Bay as Hurricane Hermine passed in the Gulf.

That discharge was the second time this year St. Petersburg had to pump wastewater into Tampa Bay. When Tropical Storm Colin hit in June, water made its way into leaky pipes and overloaded the system.

Part of the problem arose from the closure of the Albert Whitted sewer plant, which reduced capacity in the city’s sewer system.

Although St. Petersburg has been the main focus for sewer problems, other Pinellas municipalities — including Gulfport, St. Pete Beach, and Tarpon Springs — also experienced sewer overflows.

The delegation is only one group focusing on the county’s sewer issues, which local officials blame on an aging system and long-term failure to maintain the overall system.

Gov. Rick Scott called for a DEP investigation into St. Petersburg’s sewer discharges, which his office said amount to more than 150 million gallons.

A few days before, St. Petersburg had signed a consent order with the DEP after the agency found environmental violations to have occurred at three specific times. The first was Aug. 2-10, 2015, when more than 31.5 million gallons of raw sewage dumped into Clam Bayou and surrounding neighborhoods.

Mayor Rick Kriseman and the St. Petersburg City Council have authorized an investigation into the city’s water resources department to find out why information concerning the closure of the Albert Whitted plant was not given to higher ups.

And on Monday, a task force met for the first time to discuss possible countywide solutions to the issues. The panel, convened by Pinellas County Commissioner Charlie Justice, is made up of elected and technical representatives from the county, cities, and community and privately owned sewer systems.

Janet Long donates to Chris Latvala’s HD 67 campaign

Janet LongPinellas County Commissioner Janet Long donated $100 to Chris Latvala’s re-election campaign.

Long is a Democrat. Latvala is a Republican.

“I support those who I think are really, really good leaders,” Long said. “I have found him to have quite a bit of depth for a man of his age.”

Long said Tuesday that, at the beginning of the campaign season, she said she would not work against any incumbent who had done good things for Pinellas. Latvala, whom Long has known since he was a child, fit in that category.

Latvala, she said, always has had an open-door policy and has helped with some issues important both to her and to Pinellas.

“He’s very positive about helping me with my transportation issue,” said Long, who is urging that transportation issues be handled on a more regional basis.

“Do I agree with everything he does?” she asked. “No, I do not.”

But, she said, it’s important for the county to have good relations with all elected officials in order to get things accomplished. And that means crossing party lines to collaborate and work to achieve goals.

“Do you have to hate someone because they’re a member of a different political party?” Long asked.

Long said she has nothing against Latvala’s opponent, Democrat David Vogel. Long has never met Vogel and has only heard him speak once. During that forum, Long said Vogel did not explain why he’s running. Instead, “all he did was tear down Chris, and I don’t like that,” Long said.

Latvala, the son of state Sen. Jack Latvala, is running for his second term in state House District 67. Like Long, Latvala says he prides himself on being able to work across the aisle to “do what’s right.”

Among his first-term accomplishments are laws that would bolster resiliency and self-motivation in the classroom by teaching resume writing and job interview strategies, and another that makes it easier for nonviolent, non-habitual juvenile offenders to overcome past mistakes and find work.

District 67 covers a portion of Clearwater, Largo, Pinellas Park and the unincorporated High Point area. The election is Nov. 8.

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