Jay Beyrouti Archives - Florida Politics
Kathleen Peters

Kathleen Peters far out front in Pinellas Co. Commission fundraising

State Rep. Kathleen Peters has raised nearly $34,000 for her Pinellas County Commission campaign during the first two weeks of the month, putting her far ahead of Democratic challenger Amy Kedron.

Peters emerged from the three-way Republican primary battle for the District 6 seat with 48 percent of the vote compared to 36 percent for fellow state Rep. Larry Ahern and 16 percent for St. Petersburg activist and businesswoman Barbara Haselden.

Despite the double-digit victory, the primary campaign drained much of Peters’ war chest, leaving her with about the start of her general election sprint. Her campaign funds and her affiliated political committee, Florida Speaks, have received some replenishment in the weeks since, however.

Between Sept. 1 and Sept. 14, Peters added another $8,670 in hard money and an even $25,000 in committee cash. At the close of the reporting period, she had $86,800 banked between the two accounts.

That leaves Peters with a nearly eightfold advantage over Kedron, who has raised $31,340 since she entered the race in May and reported $10,940 on hand as of Sept. 14. Kedron did not face a primary opponent.

Peters announced her campaign for County Commission District 6 in May 2017, citing an “assault on home rule” from Tallahassee. She has been a member of the state House since 2012, and was eligible for another two-year term representing Pinellas County’s House District 69.

Peters and Kedron are vying for the seat that is currently held by Jay Beyrouti, who was appointed to the position two months ago by Gov. Rick Scott following the death of longtime County Commissioner John Morroni.

District 6 is the only Pinellas County Commission seat that will be on the ballot this fall as no candidates qualified to challenge Republican Commissioner Dave Eggers in District 4 or Democratic Commissioner Pat Gerard in District 2. They were both re-elected without opposition on June 22.

The district covers Pinellas Park, Seminole and the bulk of the county’s southwestern shoreline, including Madeira Beach, Treasure Island and St. Pete Beach.

Jeff Brandes holding Thursday fundraiser as Lindsay Cross struggles to raise cash

St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes is holding another fundraiser Thursday for his re-election bid in Senate District 24, where he holds a better than 20-to-1 cash lead over Democratic challenger Lindsay Cross.

Among the several dozen names listed on the host committee for the St. Petersburg reception are former St. Pete Mayors Rick Baker and Bill Foster, Pinellas County Commissioners Jay Beyrouti and Karen Seel, Pinellas Clerk of the Court Ken Burke, Tampa Sen. Dana Young, former House Speaker Will Weatherford, St. Petersburg City Councilman Ed Montanari and state Rep. Kathleen Peters, who won the Republican nomination for Pinellas County Commission District 6 last week.

Brandes’ event will be held in the Grand Ballroom of The Birchwood, 340 Beach Drive NE, starting at 5:30 p.m. Those looking for more information or to send in an RSVP can contact Rick Porter or Ivey Rooney via 407-849-1112 or Ivey@PoliticalCapitalFlorida.com.

SD 24 is among the seven state Senate seats Florida Democrats said they were targeting in the 2018 cycle, and early polling showed their initial recruit, trial lawyer Carrie Pilonwithin 5 points of Brandes among likely voters. Pilon’s campaign ended abruptly, however, due to unexpected health problems of a close family member.

Cross stepped in at the last minute and, while she was put in an unenviable position, she has been somewhat flat on the fundraising trail. As of Aug. 23, she had raised $48,725 for her campaign account and had about $44,250 in the bank.

She also failed to preserve the momentum built by Pilon’s campaign when it comes to the polls. The first measure of the race since she became the Democratic nominee showed Brandes with a 39-19 percent lead over Cross. With 42 percent of voters undecided, there’s room for growth for both candidates.

Brandes meanwhile, has raised about $820,000 for his campaign account, including $300,000 in self-funding, and had $531,370 on hand on Aug. 23. Should Cross start to catch up, Brandes has another $360,000 ready to deploy in his affiliated political committee, Liberty Florida.

SD 24 covers most of southern Pinellas except for the tip of the peninsula, which is included in neighboring SD 19. According to the most recent bookclosing report published by the Florida Division of Elections, Republicans hold a 4-point advantage in voter registrations within the district.

Despite the GOP advantage, SD 24 voted for Barack Obama twice before going plus-7 for Donald Trump in 2016.

The fundraiser invitation is below.

Brandes fundraiser 9.6.2018

Rick Scott holding fundraiser during Trump rally in Tampa

When President Donald Trump takes the stage at the Florida State Fairgrounds next week, Gov. Rick Scott will be a county away raising cash for his U.S. Senate bid.

The Scott campaign sent out an invite this week for a fundraiser Tuesday evening in Clearwater. The private reception starts at 7:00 p.m., the same time as a Tampa campaign rally where Trump is expected to make the case for U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis to succeed Scott as Governor.

The president is friendly with Scott and is expected to speak in support of his Senate campaign as well as U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz’ re-election bid in Florida’s 1st Congressional District.

While Scott will not attend the rally, he will get some facetime with the president earlier in the day. Scott campaign spokeswoman Lauren Schenone said earlier this week that the two politicians will attend an afternoon event at Tampa Bay Technical High School.

Scott’s Clearwater fundraiser will be hosted by Jay and Linda Beyrouti, Jane and Leo Govoni, Jim Holton as well as Joe and Jo Ann White. Scott recently appointed Jay Beyrouti to the Pinellas County Commission to fill the empty seat created by longtime Commissioner John Morroni‘s passing on May 20.

Listed as co-hosts are Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, St. Petersburg state Sen. Jeff Brandes, Pinellas Clerk of the Court Ken Burke, State Attorney Bernie McCabe and Pinellas Tax Collector Charles Thomas. The invite, attached below, says it’ll take a minimum contribution of $1,000 to attend.

Scott, who is term-limited as Governor, is looking to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in the fall, and recent polls show him with a slight edge over the incumbent. The election is Nov. 6.

Kathleen Peters

Kathleen Peters up by double digits in Pinellas Commission primary

If today were Election Day, state Rep. Kathleen Peters would cruise to a 10-point win in the Republican primary for the District 6 seat on the Pinellas County Commission.

According to a new survey from St. Pete Polls, Peters is the pick for 35.6 percent of likely Republican voters in the district. Fellow state Rep. Larry Ahern came in 10 points behind with 25.5 percent support, followed by businesswoman Barb Haselden at 5.5 percent.

A full third of voters said they were unsure who they would vote for five weeks out from the Aug. 28 primary election.

Republican men were more sure about how they’d cast their ballot, with nearly 37 percent backing Peters, 27 percent picking Ahern and 29 percent undecided. Women still preferred Peters by double digits, however, with 35 percent picking the third-term lawmaker compared to 24 percent for Ahern and 37 percent who said they were unsure.

Haselden hovered in the single digits with both men and women.

The winner of the Republican primary will move on to a head-to-head against Democrat Amy Kedron in the Nov. 6 general election. Kedron is a political newcomer and the only non-GOP candidate to qualify for the race.

All  four candidates are vying to replace longtime Republican Commissioner John Morroni, who died in May at the age of 63. The seat is currently held by Jay Beyrouti, who was appointed to the vacant seat by Gov. Rick Scott last month.

District 6 is the only Pinellas County Commission seat that will be on the ballot this fall as no candidates qualified to challenge incumbent Commissioners Dave Eggers or Pat Gerard. They were both re-elected without opposition on June 22.

The district covers Pinellas Park, Seminole and the bulk of the county’s southwestern shoreline, including Madeira Beach, Treasure Island and St. Pete Beach.

As of July 13, Peters had a substantial advantage in campaign finance. Her most recent campaign report shows more than $133,000 raised and $68,000 in the bank, while her affiliated political committee, Florida Speaks, has another $63,000 at the ready.

Her $131,000 banked puts her far ahead of the other three candidates in race combined — Ahern has raised $57,000 and has $37,400 on hand, Haselden has raised $49,000 and has $20,400 banked, and Kedron has raised $13,500 and has $6,500 in her campaign account.

The automated phone poll was conducted Wednesday and took responses from 439 registered Republicans who said they planned to vote in the primary election. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.7 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.

Jay Beyrouti appointed to Pinellas County Commission

Jay Beyrouti will fill the vacant Pinellas County Commission District 6 post effective Friday, according to Gov. Rick Scott‘s office.

Scott appointed Beyrouti to the commission to fill the empty seat created by Commissioner John Morroni‘s passing on May 20.

A Reddington Shores resident, Beyrouti, 66, is a small business owner. He received his bachelor’s degree in accounting and international business from Sacred Heart Business School.

Beyrouti sits on the boards of both Space Florida and Enterprise Florida, the state’s public-private job creation agency.

A former Pinellas GOP chair, Beyrouti is active in Tampa Bay politics and has appeared at area fundraisers for recent elections.

“It’s such a great honor to be chosen by Gov. Scott to serve for the remainder of the term for my friend, Commissioner John Morroni,” Beyrouti said in a statement. “I am looking forward to joining the county commission and working alongside such a strong group of leaders.”

The District 6 seat encompasses Pinellas Park, Seminole and the bulk of the county’s southwestern shoreline, including Madeira Beach, Treasure Island and St. Pete Beach.

Four candidates qualified to run for the District 6 seat in the upcoming Nov. 6 election. Registered Republicans will pick the candidate of their choice during the Aug. 28 primary. The winner will compete for the seat in the Nov. 6 general election.

The Republican candidates are Larry Ahern and Kathleen Peters, who both have served in the Legislature, and political newcomer Barb Haselden. The only Democrat who qualified is Amy Kedron, another newcomer to the political arena.

Material from Tampa Bay Newspapers was used in this report.

Nick DiCeglie

Berny Jacques fundraising slows as Nick DiCeglie enters race

Nick DiCeglie has been in the race for House District 66 for a month and his first campaign finance report, released Tuesday, signals a momentum shift in the GOP primary between him and Berny Jacques.

Jacques filed March 3 and was the first-in candidate for the Pinellas County-based seat. Since showing $30,000 raised in his initial report, his contributions have slowed.

April brought him about $11,000 in campaign cash, and after the dog days of summer, he posted another five-figure report in August. His September report, though, brought about a new low: just $1,875 in new money came in, while about $5,500 went out the door.

His lone $1,000 check for the month came in from Sarasota attorney Patrick McCardle, while the remainder came from a smattering of small-dollar donors most of whom gave $50 or less.

In all, Jacques has raised $67,344 over the past six months and has about $52,000 in the bank.

DiCeglie, who entered the race at the start of last month, raised $30,751 in 30 days. All of that money that came in before his official campaign kickoff event, too. That event is set for Thursday evening in Bellair and features more than 50 names on the host committee that no other first-time candidate could dream of getting in the same room anywhere outside the Governor’s Club.

The abbreviated list: St. Pete Sen. Jeff Brandes, Clearwater Sen. Jack Latvala and his son Rep. Chris Latvala, and Pinellas County Commissioners Dave Eggers, John Morroni and Karen Seel, as well as Commission candidate and current HD 69 Rep. Kathleen Peters.

His pull with local Republican rock stars isn’t a surprise. In addition to owning and operating the lauded waste management company Solar Sanitation, Inc., for over decade, he spent two terms chairing the Clearwater Chamber of Commerce and earned a gubernatorial appointment to the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council.

Being the current chair of the Pinellas County Republican Party certainly doesn’t hurt, either.

Among his September donors were renowned attorney Brian Aungst Jr., Clearwater City Council Member Doreen Caudell, former Pinellas GOP Chair Jay Beyrouti, and lobbyist Alan Suskey.

Pinellas GOP heavyweights raising money for Rick Baker on Wednesday in Clearwater Beach

Former Mayor Rick Baker continues building momentum in his quest to return for a third term as St. Petersburg Mayor.

Coming off a successful campaign kickoff event last week, Baker, who served two terms from 2001-2010, is following with another high-profile reception Wednesday in Clearwater Beach.

Co-chairs of the event – with the tagline “Proven Leadership” – include renowned attorney Brian Aungst Jr., former Pinellas GOP Chair Jay Beyrouti and restaurateur (and one-time “Mr. Clearwater”) Frank Chivas.

According to the invite, the blockbuster bipartisan host committee includes more than four dozen prominent Pinellas County state and municipal leaders such as State Sens. Jeff Brandes and Jack Latvala, state Reps. Kathleen Peters, Wengay Newton, Chris Latvala and Chris Sprowls, former state Rep. (and Senate candidate) Ed Hooper, Pinellas County Clerk Ken Burke, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, Pinellas County Property Appraiser Mike Twitty, Seminole Mayor Leslie Waters, North Redington Beach Mayor Bill Queen, Treasure Island Mayor Robert Minning, Oldsmar Vice Mayor Dan Saracki and more.

In last week’s kickoff at the Morean Arts Center, Baker pushed his vision of “A Seamless City,” and the slogan “I’m ready to serve.” Wednesday’s event – attended by much of the Pinellas County political elite – will sure to continue that theme. Baker is facing incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman.

The reception begins 5:30 p.m. at the Island Way Grill, 20 Island Way in Clearwater. Those interested in attending can RSVP with Rick Porter at (407) 849-1112 or rick@politicalcapitalflorida.com.

Bill Edwards to help raise money for Rick Scott in Pinellas next week

St. Petersburg entrepreneur Bill Edwards will be helping raise money next week for Let’s Get to Work, the political committee closely tied to Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

The reception begins 6 p.m. Thursday, March 9, at The Club at Treasure Island, 400 Treasure Island Causeway in Treasure Island. Minimum suggested contribution for the VIP reception is $5,000; tickets to the General Reception are $2,500.

Edwards, CEO of The Edwards Group, has been a longtime supporter of Scott and Republicans. He gave $1 million in 2013 for Scott’s re-election effort, as well as about $4.6 million to support Republican National Convention in Tampa in 2012. In 2015, Edwards also gave $350,000 to the political action committee supporting former Gov. Jeb Bush’s presidential bid.

Joining Edwards on the host committee are former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker, Jay Beyrouti, Joe White and James Holton, president of real estate development firm Holton Companies. Beyrouti sits on the board of directors for both Space Florida and Enterprise Florida, the state’s job incentives arm currently under fire by the Florida Legislature. Baker, who serves as president of the Edwards Group, is also seen as a potential candidate this year for his old job as St. Petersburg mayor.

As owner of the Tampa Bay Rowdies, Edwards is behind the latest effort to bring a Major League Soccer franchise to St. Petersburg. Edwards will be covering the entire cost of a May 2 special election to vote for giving the St. Pete City Council the authority to negotiate a long-term use agreement for Al Lang Stadium, home of the Rowdies and a key part of bringing MLS to the city.

Although Scott cannot run for re-election, many consider him a likely candidate for U.S. Senate in 2018 against Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson. According to the Florida Division of Elections, Let’s Get to Work raised nearly $1.7 million in January.

RSVPs are through Debbie Aleksander at 850-339-8116 or Debbie@flfstrategies.com.

Here’s where sh*t stands in Tampa Bay politics — the ‘counting down the hours ‘ edition

There are less than 48 hours before Election Day and in both local politics and the weather forecast, it’s the calm before the storm.

One of the most difficult aspects of being in this game is the waiting. All of the television ads and direct mail and brochures and yard signs have been produced and sent and distributed. There’s no such thing, really, anymore as Get Out The Vote (GOTV). The vote’s been getting out for the last month. Oh sure, there will be folks waving signs and, especially in districts where there are a high concentration of African-American voters, there will be some GOTV’ing. But the days of the 72-hour Plan, if they ever existed, are extinct.

I remember the 2002 election cycle. The political consulting firm at which I was creative director (The Mallard Group) represented Republican Faye Culp, who was running neck-and-neck with the telegenic Scott Farrell. On the Thursday before the election, The Terrance Group showed us a poll that had Culp coming on strong, moving to within one point of her Democratic opponent. There was barely any early voting then, so the election would be decided on, well, Election Day. But Culp’s campaign was exhausted of money and resources. She had spent everything to get where she was — a point behind. Unless something changed, Farrell could just run out the clock and he’d be on his way to Tallahassee.

That’s when the Republican Party of Florida came to Culp’s rescue. To beat a midnight deadline (there was no PayPal in those days), the RPOF put a staffer on a chartered plane and flew a $20,000 check to Tampa for The Mallard Group to design, print, and send a final piece of attack mail. Our staff and vendor partners turned the mailer around in 24 hours, which, with the technology of the day, was a Herculean task.

Culp would end up winning narrowly. That final mailer probably did the trick.

Sadly, those kind of last-minute heroics are as out-of-date as the Macintosh computers we used to design that mailer.

So here we are, waiting.

We hunt for scraps of intel. We turn down the music to listen for whispers of fresh polling data. Only most Florida-based pollsters stopped making calls the week before last.

There have been some robo-polls, almost all of which suggest close races, like the ones in state Senate District 19 and 23, only got closer.

So as we wait, here is where sh*t stands.

That race for SD 19 is, in fact, razor-close. Ed Narain and Darryl Rouson are essentially tied, while trial lawyer Augie Ribeiro has spent more than $600,000 to position himself in striking distance. If there is any race in Tampa Bay that may be impacted by the weather, it is this race. Rouson needs a strong last-minute push from his Pinellas base, but if its dark and stormy on Tuesday, those voters may stay home. As for Ribeiro, he may not win, but he deserves credit for changing the dynamics of the election. The Hispanic vote (who knew there was one?) in SD 19 has doubled. In fact, Ribeiro’s camp is still optimistic about their candidate’s chances based on the demographics of the early vote which has already come in.

My prediction in SD 19? Rouson by a nose as Betty Reed over-performs in the Hillsborough portion of the district and cuts into Narain’s base.

The GOP establishment is firmly behind Rebecca Smith in the House District 60 primary, but there’s something about Jackie Toledo‘s resilience that keeps me from betting the house on Smith. In this Trumpian era, Toledo’s strong anti-immigration stance is probably attractive to the average Republican voter. There’s also the fact that Smith really hasn’t made much of an impression on the campaign trail. A Republican political consultant points out that almost all of Smith’s direct mail is biography driven. There’s no red meat in any of it.

Smith probably still wins Tuesday, but it would not be surprising to see Toledo pull off the upset.

Ben Diamond or Eric Lynn? Eric Lynn or Ben Diamond. Other than in-person, there’s not much light between the two Pinellas Democrats vying for the HD 68 seat. This is another House primary where the local establishment is (mostly) in one corner — Diamond’s. But Lynn has raised and spent a heckuva lot more than Diamond. He’s been ubiquitous on cable TV and in the mailbox.

There has been wildly conflicting polling in this race, so it’s difficult to make a prediction here. Diamond’s probably the favorite because he has the endorsement of the Tampa Bay Times and almost every other Democratic elected official. But I like Lynn in an “upset.”

Have you read Anne Lindberg’s reporting about Judge Myriam Irizarry

Challenger Dwight Dudley says she lacks courtroom trial experience in Florida. Irizarry says Dudley has misrepresented her experience. Now Dudley says he’s sticking by his claim that she lacks trial experience and says Irizarry is at fault for any confusion because of apparently conflicting records.

Lindberg dogged Izizarry into somewhat of a confession.

She says the information on her campaign website under “resume“ is not a resume. “The website is highlights of my accomplishments. … Some of the dates are off.”

She added, “I stand by my resume that I submitted to the JNC.”

Because the campaign “resume” is only highlights, she said, information was left off in addition to the misdating issue.

“I can see how someone might ask the question,” Irizarry said.

The bottom line here seems to be that, when confronted with her own materials, Irizarry determined it was easier to not tell the whole truth to voters than to admit lying to the Judicial Nominating Commission.

There has not been a single mention of it in the media, but one of the most important races to Pinellas Republican insiders is the one between Dan Tucker and Jay Beyrouti for state committeeman.

Tucker, a rabid tea partier, has been something of a lightning rod in this elected party post. Many GOP leaders wish he would just go away. Short of that, they’re hoping Beyrouti, a well-liked former county chairman and a gubernatorial appointment, can knock him off. In fact, Pinellas GOP Vice-chair Todd Jennings posted to Twitter this weekend a photo of him campaigning for Beyrouti.

A prolific fundraiser for other people’s campaigns, Beyrouti has amassed a sizable war chest for his efforts.

It’s doubtful either man has been able raise enough money to communicate with enough voters that it would make much of a difference, so this race is nothing less than a coin-flip.

Even more under the radar than the race for state committeeman is the race to serve as a representative to the county party from precinct 140. That’s right, a precinct chair race has become a flashpoint. That’s because one of those running for the position is the outspoken Dr. David McKalipAccording to his website, the Sun Beam Times, McKalip has been on the receiving end of a negative mailer that highlights some of the more controversial aspects of his public record.

McKalip and I agree on very few things and he is often a thorn in the side of many of my political allies, but I’ve come come to respect McKalip’s dogged adherence to his principles, as well as his ability to inject himself into the occasional controversy.

Were I in Precinct 140, I’d vote for McKalip.

If nothing else, he keeps things interesting.

Nikki Haley tells Pinellas Republicans that they’re better than what Donald Trump is offering

Nikki Haley says she’s seen what Donald Trump rallies have become of late, and surmised that accepting him as the GOP presidential nominee goes against what the party of Lincoln is all about.

“I’m watching a presidential candidate who at his rally is saying, ‘punch him. He should be taken out on a stretcher. Do it again’,” she said on Saturday night in St. Petersburg. “That’s not us. That’s not Republicans. That’s not Americans. That’s not who we are. We’re better than that.”

Haley is supporting Marco Rubio for president in the Republican presidential race and was the keynote speaker at the Pinellas County Lincoln Day Dinner at the Hilton Carillon in St. Petersburg on Saturday evening.

In her 18-minute address, she briefly talked about herself, advocated for why she is so enthusiastic about Rubio, and recounted how her state kept it together after two racially explosive acts occurred last year. One was the shooting and killing of an unarmed black motorist named Walter Scott by a white police officer. The other was the mass shooting by 21-year-old white man, who killed nine black people at a historic black church.

“I know what hate can do,” she solemnly intoned. “I know what division can do. But I know what Americans can do. I saw it in South Carolina.”

She said that in the wake of the Walter Scott tragedy, the state’s GOP-led legislature ultimately passed the first bill in the country mandating body cameras for police officers. They also voted to remove the divisive Confederate flag from their state house grounds.

Haley is a trailblazer of sorts. With her election in 2010, she became South Carolina’s first Indian-American and first female governor ever in the Palmetto State. Re-elected in 2014, she’s considered one of the party’s rising stars, and was chosen to give the rebuttal to President Obama’s State of the Union Address in January.

She made more news that night by criticizing Trump, as well as the expected attack on President Obama. A day after a Trump rally was canceled in Chicago after protesters clashed, Haley said Pinellas Republicans need to reject what the New York City business mogul is offering.

“I know Donald Trump,” she said. “I’ve met him. He’s been a supporter of mine. But his judgment is off. You don’t divide people against each other in this country. You don’t divide by race, or religion or anything. We need someone to bring us together. We’ve got terrorists that will divide enough of this world, that we need to be united in this country,” it was only on that last line — a reference to fighting Islamic terror — that the audience verbally responded.

In speaking to Pinellas County Republicans three days before Tuesday’s must-win primary for Rubio, Haley was aiding her candidate’s push to win Tampa Bay. Earlier on Saturday, Rubio appeared in four different cities in the region, including a 9 a.m. appearance in Largo.

Haley said it was time to get real. That if the hundreds in attendance want Donald Trump not to be the nominee in the fall for the GOP, they must vote for Rubio on Tuesday.

“If Donald Trump wins, Hillary Clinton will win in November. That’s a fact,” she said, a remark that appeared to elicit a few jeers.

The audience definitely wasn’t all on board.

And listening to two members of Congress, neither are some elected officials, who may be running on the same ballot as Trump in November.

“We must be united,” declared Pasco/Pinellas Representative Gus Bilirakis. “Nobody is going to pick our nominee. We’re going to pick our nominee.”

“Somebody’s going to win this fair and square,” agreed CD 13 Congressman David Jolly before the dinner kicked off. “And if it’s Donald Trump, then I’ll look at Donald Trump’s platform, and figure out where I’m going personally going forward.”

Haley said after going through the trauma that South Carolinians did in 2015, “I want someone who’s going to bring the best out of everyone.” And she said Rubio was that someone.

“We know that this race is not over until we see the results of Florida and Ohio,” Haley said, before circling back to how South Carolina was able to flourish out of a dark moment. “I know what harshness does. I know what divisive language does. I know what happened when the KKK showed up on our statehouse grounds, and I know totally denied them and told them to get out of my state!”

The election results will be known on Tuesday night.

The evening brought out hundreds of Pinellas County Republicans, including some state lawmakers like Jeff Brandes, Jack Latvala, Chris Sprowls and Chris Latvala.

Earlier in the evening, the party honored former Pinellas County Republican Chairman Jay Beyrouti with their C.W Bill Young Service Award, named after the late congressman who represented Pinellas for more than 42 years until he died in 2013.

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