Margaret Good Archives - Florida Politics

College Dems endorse Sanjay Patel, Margaret Good, Anna Eskamani, Mark Lipton

The Florida College Democrats have endorsed Sanjay Patel for his run for Congress and Margaret Good, Anna Eskamani, and Mark Lipton in Florida House races, the organization announced.

Patel, running in Florida’s 8th Congressional District along the Space Coast against longtime incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Posey, was the only congressional candidate picked for the College Dems’ endorsements.

“Patel is a dedicated grassroots activist and has helped Brevard Dems rise to the ranks as one of the biggest grassroots organizations in the state. Brevard Dems knocked the most doors in any county of Florida and fundraising doubled under the Sanjay and Stacey Patel leadership of Brevard Dems,” the College Dems stated in a news release. “Patel is a fighter for progressive values and really shows his message of ‘People over Politics.’ Patel was endorsed recently by Our Revolution.”

Eskamani, of Orlando, is seeking a seat opening in Florida House District 47 covering central Orange County. An activist and consultant to a non-profit, Eskamani has Democratic primary competition from Apopka real estate agent Lou Forges, with Stockton Reeves VI and Mikaela Nix competing in the Republican primary.

“We are proud to endorse Anna for her tireless efforts for healthcare, women’s rights and LGBTQ rights. Anna recently received an endorsement from former candidate for president, [Maryland] Gov. Martin O’Malley and was featured on the TIME magazine cover ‘The Avengers.’ Eskamani is young, motivated and ready to bring much needed progressive change to Florida,” the College Dems noted.

Good, of Sarasota, was elected last year in a special election in Florida House District 72. She has no primary opponent but faces the winner of the Jason MillerRay Pilon Republican primary.

“Good is an advocate for important issues, such as environmental rights and women’s rights. Good cares deeply about education in this great state of Florida. Good plans to uphold these values and to ‘shake up’ Tallahassee,” the College Democrats stated.

Lipton, of North Fort Myers, is running for the House District 79 seat opening in Lee County. He has no primary opponent and will face the winner of the Matthew MillerSpencer Roach Republican primary.

“Lipton …  is a supporter of public education, even referring to it as a “backbone” of this country. Lipton believes affordable health care is a right, which is an important issue to Florida College Democrats. Lipton upholds Democratic values and plans to unfold his vision for a better Florida,” the College Dems stated.

The College Dems’ release concluded with a statement declaring that all of the candidates uphold the vision of Florida College Democrats with our mission statement ‘As the official Democratic Student Caucus of Florida and a College Democrats of America State Federation, we unite College Democrats on campuses and communities across the state of Florida to advocate on the behalf of the Democratic Party.’ We believe these candidates will help flip our great state of Florida blue during one of the most important crucial election cycles.”

Ray Pilon hosting ‘evening out with friends’ Tuesday

Sarasota Republican Ray Pilon is holding an event for his House District 72 comeback bid Tuesday night, but it isn’t fundraiser per se.

“June 12th is right around the corner and I firmly believe celebrations are better with friends. Please join us as we mingle and discuss our steps for taking District 72 back,” Pilon said in a campaign email. “The only commitment is your support by showing up. If you want to invest into the campaign, your donation is welcomed but not required. Grab your friends and make it an evening out.”

The “evening out” will be held at the Clark Road location of Gecko’s Grill & Pub starting at 5:30 pm, and proprietor Mike Quillan is marked down as the host on the event invite.

Joining him on the host committee are former Senate President John McKay, St. Petersburg Sen. Jeff Brandes, former Sen. Lisa Carlton, Sarasota Rep. Jeff Gruters and a long list of local business owners and Republican Party of Sarasota officials.

Pilon represented HD 72 until 2014, when he gave up the seat to run for state Senate. The seat is now held by Democratic Rep. Margaret Good, who flipped the seat in a special election earlier this year.

Pilon will have to get by new filer Jason Miller in the Republican primary before he can get a crack at Good, who has built up a hefty re-election fund since filing for re-election.

As of April 30, she had $78,500 banked in her campaign account while Pilon had about $15,000 on hand. Miller has not had to file a fundraising report since entering the race on June 5.

Pilon’s invitation is below.

Ray Pilon Fundraiser 6.12.2018

Margaret Good jumps out to big lead in re-election campaign

Sarasota Democratic Rep. Margaret Good hasn’t let up in fundraising since she turned HD 72 blue with a February special election win over Republican James Buchanan.

Good added $62,605 to her campaign account last month, bringing her total campaign fundraising for the 2018 cycle to $82,700. She has $78,500 in the bank.

“I continue to be humbled by and grateful for the outpouring of support for the campaign. Our campaign is fueled by grassroots support. In our April reporting period, 387 individual donors contributed to our re-election effort; they want to continue the work we began after winning the special election in February,” Good said.

“The foundation of our campaign is grassroots; it’s community members who want our government to reflect our values. Sarasotans want a robust economy, a strong public school system that prepares children for a highly competitive future, and protection for our precious land and Gulf. Sarasotans know they can count on me to fight for them.”

Some notable figures for April: Good received 245 from donations from small-dollar donors giving $100 or less; she took in 31 checks for the campaign max of $1,000; and more than 90 percent of the money raised came from within the Sunshine State.

The April report shows her far ahead of her lone challenger, former Republican Rep. Ray Pilon.

Pilon held the Sarasota County seat for three terms before he abandoned it to mount an unsuccessful state Senate bid in 2016. He filed for a return trip to Tallahassee via HD 72 back in March and through two campaign reports – the same number as Good – he’s raised $18,600.

Pilon’s April report showed $11,000 raised, an improvement over his first report, and at nearly 50 names his donor roll wouldn’t be considered short compared to most candidates not named Margaret Good.

He started May with $14,770 in the bank, including a $1,000 loan to kick start his campaign.

In HD 39, the ‘blue wave’ barely causes a ripple

A ‘blue wave’ Democrats in Polk and Osceola counties had hoped for Tuesday barely made a ripple as Republican newcomer Josie Tomkow won over Democrat Ricky Shirah with a 60 percent victory in the special election for Florida House District 39.

The results contrasted with the surprise February election victory in Sarasota County in which Democrat Margaret Good, a Sarasota Democrat, defeated Republican James Buchanan and Libertarian Alison Foxall.

Tuesday’s election was to fill a vacancy incurred in November when then-Rep. Neil Combee, a Polk City Republican, resigned to accept a job with the USDA. Combee recently resigned the post to run for Congress.

Republicans said Wednesday the Tomkow victory is a bellwether for the state come November. Democrats said the wave is still building. A noted professor and columnist said it’s too early.

“This is a good snapshot of the fall elections,” said J.C. Martin, chairman of the Polk County Republican Party. “This is a district along I-4 and the I-4 Corridor has always been a barometer for Florida and the nation.”

Local Democrats, with very little help from the state party, had staged a last-minute effort for Shira, in a district that is more Republican but had more voters with no party than those in either party.

“This is a good sign that people, especially the unaffiliated, are going for Republican policies,” Martin said. “Neither party in the district had more than 40 Percent registration, and yet 60 percent of the vote went to someone who never ran for office and was never heard of before against a well-known candidate.”

Karen Welzel of Winter Haven, a former chair of the Polk County Democratic Party, blamed Shira’s loss, not on Republican ideologies, but on the massive war chest Tomkow ‘s campaign had amassed. Tomkow had received $168,185 to Shira’s $15,381.

“Unfortunately, money is important. She had big-time Republican fundraisers, the NRA and her connections to Neil Combee, Welzel said of Tomkow’s victory. “Statewide we have won more special elections this year by far,” Welzel said. “On the same day we lost this one, Javier Fernandez (a Democrat) was elected in South Florida. In a Republican district. Believe me; the blue wave is coming.”

“We did reach out to the state party to ask for help, but we knew there was not a lot of money and that they had to spend,” she said. “But we spent three months of grassroots campaign, and we added many precinct workers.”

Ironically, Welzel had run in a different house district in 2012 against a Republican incumbent who had ten times the amount of campaign money that she had without state Democratic Party funding and came within 2 percent of winning the race,

“The ‘Blue Wave is a bit of a ghost,” said Bruce Anderson a political-science professor at Florida Southern College and columnist in Lakeland. But so is the assumption that the District 39 special election is a repudiation of it, he had added.

“Winning in one district is not a bellwether. Thirty-nine is a stable largely Republican District. We know who the district was drawn for,” Anderson said referring to Combee. “And he kept his head down and locked in his seat.”

People will tend to vote for the person in that seat, he said. And Tuesday’s election is no indicator of how the I-4 Corridor will go in November

Democrats have had their victories mostly in open seats. Overall, Anderson said it is too early to predict a trend for the November elections.

“Republicans, I suspect, will continue to win where there is a long history of Republican incumbents. But if it is an open seat Democrats may win out.”

In HD 39, however, almost the same race will begin again in November, likely with the same candidates. Shira has said he will be a candidate for District 39 in the general election, which will decide who will serve a full two-year term.

Pinellas Commission candidate rips off Margaret Good’s website

The Pinellas County Commission District 6 race got a little more crowded Tuesday with the addition of Amy Kedron, a businesswoman and former professor at USF St. Petersburg and Ringling College.

Kedron joins state Reps. Kathleen Peters, Larry Ahern and Barb Haselden in the contest, and is currently the only Democrat running.

District 6 residents who visited her new, professional looking website to learn more about one of their would-be elected officials may see something familiar – a near-carbon copy of Sarasota Rep. Margaret Good’s website.

And “carbon copy” means exactly that in this instance. When the copy-paste job was done, nobody bothered to scrub the website of Good’s media files, some of them with the Sarasota Democrat’s name still on them.

Amy Kedron Margaret Good

That image file – which the Good campaign paid to license from Shutterstock – is still on the website. There’s simply no reason a candidate for Pinellas County Commission would need an image of a bridge and skyline two counties away for her campaign website.

Still, Kedron deserves the benefit of the doubt.

She probably perused Good’s website when her upset campaign was the political topic de jour and liked it enough to call up web developers to see if they could deliver something similar for her upcoming campaign.

Seminole-based Shoot to Thrill apparently was willing to deliver their client something not only similar but identical.

They seem proud of it, too, as they’ve put their company logo at the bottom of the page. They waited until after the site’s launch to do so, however. The developer behind Good’s site, MDW Communications, said their logo got a couple clickthroughs from Kedron’s site and provided a snap of the evidence.

Plagiarizing a database-backed website, such as Good’s WordPress website, actually takes more work than simply starting from scratch. WordPress designs, known as “themes,” are dirt cheap. Nearly every web hosting company advertises “one-click” WordPress installations.

A single-page campaign website can be built easily and on the cheap.

Simply put, when consumers call up a reputable company such as Network People or MDW, the expensive part is having their site look like no other, tracking analytics, setting up credit card processing for contributions, and keeping the site security up to snuff. Neither company has an hourly rate for copy and paste.

Professor Kedron, it would be time for a refund, but we’ve been told by the team at Shoot to Thrill that the site has not been paid for — a campaign finance issue which raises additional questions, but that’s for another post.

A side-by-side comparison of the two web pages is below.


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 – of the legislative merry-go-round.

Off: Ashley Ross is no longer deputy chief of staff on Commerce, Tourism, and Community Affairs in the Senate President’s office.

Off: Holly Maxwell is no longer committee administrative assistant for the Senate Appropriations Committee.

On: Abby Ross and Christi Fearnley have become legislative assistants for newly elected Boynton Beach Democratic Sen. Lori Berman.

Off and on: Michele McCloskey is no longer district secretary for Bradenton Republican Rep. Jim Boyd. She has now moved to become district secretary for Tampa Republican Rep. Shawn Harrison.

Off and on: Kevin Lata has been replaced by Grace Moseley as a legislative assistant for Sarasota Democratic Rep. Margaret Good.

On and off: Bill McVay is the new district secretary for Winter Garden Republican Rep. Bobby Olszewski. District Secretary Samantha Surdin is leaving the position to take over duties as Olszewski’s campaign manager with the Republican Party of Florida for his re-election this year in House District 44.  Surdin previously successfully served in this role last year when Olszewski won both the Republican primary and general election in a special election in October. McVay who comes from Washington D.C. with extensive nonprofit work along with an MBA from Virginia Tech. The former long-time aide to former Senate President Andy GardinerKathy Johnson, remains as Olszewski’s legislative aide.

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 – of the legislative merry-go-round.

On: Holly Maxwell is the committee receptionist for Senate Appropriations.

Off: Jay Shannon and Jacob Flaherty are no longer legislative assistants for Fort Lauderdale Democratic Sen. Gary Farmer.

Off: Marilyn Barnes is no longer legislative assistant to Tallahassee Democratic Sen. Bill Montford. Barnes retired after spending her career serving the Legislature, which included the Speaker’s Office in the 70s, many years of service on Joint Committees, and more recently several years with the Senate and Montford.

Off: Ali Kurnaz is no longer a legislative assistant to Orlando Democratic Sen. Linda Stewart.

Off and on: Kenneth Thomas is no longer district secretary in Tallahassee Democratic Rep. Ramon Alexander‘s office. Navael Fontus has become a new district secretary.

Off: Stephany Montano is no longer district secretary for Miami Democratic Rep. Robert Asencio.

Off: Abby Ross is no longer chief legislative assistant for Lantana Democratic Rep. Lori Berman.

Off: Nutoshia Carr is no longer district secretary for Ocoee Democratic Rep. Kamia Brown.

Off: Charlotte Codie is no longer legislative assistant for North Fort Myers Republican Rep. Matt Caldwell.

Off and on: Carlos Ramos is no longer legislative assistant; Erika Flores moved from district secretary to legislative assistant and Margie Ramirez is the new district secretary for Tampa Democratic Rep. Janet Cruz.

Off and on: Clarence James is no longer executive secretary and Consqailla Toney is a new district secretary for Jacksonville Democratic Rep. Kimberly Daniels.

Off: Chesten Goodman is no longer legislative assistant for Jacksonville Republican Rep. Jay Fant.

Off: Sadie Haire is no longer district secretary for Jacksonville Republican Rep. Jason Fisher.

Off and on: Kay Mathers replaced Susan Neaves as district secretary for Sarasota Democratic Rep. Margaret Good.

Off and on: Jerrick Leonard is no longer legislative assistant and Jessica Garafola moved from district secretary to legislative assistant for West Park Democratic Rep. Shev Jones.

Off and on: Lisa Kauffman is out, and Katie Siciliano is in as legislative assistant for Hutson Republican Rep. Amber Mariano.

Off and on: Grace Moseley is no longer a district secretary and Cyrus Calhoun moved from district secretary to legislative assistant in St. Petersburg Democratic Rep. Wengay Newton‘s office.

Off: Samantha Surdin is no longer district secretary for Winter Garden Republican Rep. Robert Olszewski.

Off: Jesika Davis is no longer district secretary for Key Largo Republican Rep. Holly Raschein.

Off: Leilani Gonzalez is no longer district secretary for Estero Republican Rep. Ray Rodrigues.

Off and on: John Brown is no longer district secretary; Jasmine Mattear filled a vacant legislative assistant position after being district secretary for Tampa Democratic Rep. Sean Shaw.

On: Sarah Johnson is a new legislative assistant for Boca Raton Democratic Rep. Emily Slosberg.

Off: Dottie Acosta is no longer district secretary for St. Johns Republican Rep. Cyndi Stevenson.

Off and on: Cooper Harrison is out, and Brian Pierce is in as district secretary for Panama City Republican Rep. Jay Trumbull.

Off: Mamie Rubottom is no longer district secretary for Jacksonville Republican Rep. Clay Yarborough.

Ray Pilon holding April 12 fundraiser for HD 72 return

Former House District 72 lawmaker Ray Pilon is holding a fundraiser next month for his comeback campaign.

The April 12 event will be held at Gold Coast Eagle Distributing in Sarasota, 7051 Wireless Court from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

The host committee for the event lists more than two dozen names, including several business leaders, Fort Myers Republican Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen, Sarasota Republican Rep. Joe Gruters, who is running for state Senate in 2018, and St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes, who Pilon recently endorsed for re-election over his daughter-in-law, Democrat Carrie Pilon.

RSVPs can be made via an email to or by calling 941-539-8646.

Pilon represented HD 72 from its creation until 2016, opting to run for state Senate rather than re-election to the Sarasota County district.

His successor, Alex Miller, held the seat for less than a year before stepping down to “spend more time at home.” The seat flipped to Democrat Margaret Good in the ensuing special election.

So far Pilon is the only Republican who has filed for the seat. Buchanan opted to run in neighboring HD 74, which is opening up due to Republican Rep. Julio Gonzalez’ congressional bid, rather than give District 72 another shot.

Also running against Good is Libertarian Alison Foxall, she, too, ran in the special election and pulled about 3 percent of the vote.

Pilon ran up the score in past elections to HD 72, but it remains to be seen whether the so-called “blue wave” that pushed Good past Buchanan will be present come November.

The fundraiser invite is below.

Ray Pilon Invite - April 12, 2018

Four candidates running for Julio Gonzalez’ House seat

Four candidates have filed for the state House seat being given up by Republican Rep. Julio Gonzalez so he can pursue the congressional seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney.

Republican Nicholas Trolli opened his campaign account ahead of Gonzalez’ announcement he would run for Florida’s 17th Congressional District, and since then another three candidates have entered the race.

The most recognizable by far is Republican James Buchanan, who was his party’s nominee in the recent special election for House District 72, which was ultimately won by Democratic Rep. Margaret Good.

HD 74 is the third district Buchanan, the son of U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, has filed for – he initially sought HD 71 before switching over to the HD 72 special.

Trolli filed for the seat on Feb. 28 but reported no contributions for the final day of the month, putting him and Buchanan on even financial footing in the Republican Primary albeit with a three-week head start for Trolli.

Also running for the seat are a pair of Democrats. Yves Junior Chery opened a campaign account on March 15 and Timothy Fitzgerald followed five days later.

House District 74 covers southern Sarasota County, including Venice and Northport and has a hefty advantage for Republicans.

The district voted 60-37 in favor of President Donald Trump in the 2016 election. By comparison, neighboring HD 72 voted 50-46 for Trump.

Gonzalez ran a couple points ahead of Trump two years ago, beating Democrat Manny Lopez 63-37 on Election Day.

Last-hour effort to delay USF System consolidation fails

Ever since legislation calling for consolidating the University of South Florida System was unveiled in mid-January, officials from the St. Petersburg community have raised serious objections.

The bill, sponsored by Estero Republican Ray Rodrigues (HB 423), would make USF St. Petersburg and USF Sarasota-Manatee operate separately from the main campus in Tampa under its own accreditation. USFSP received accreditation in 2006 and USFSM followed suit in 2011, creating the USF System.

As the bill was introduced in the House Education Committee Tuesday afternoon, two Pinellas lawmakers introduced amendments that would improve the fate of USFSP.

St. Petersburg Democrat Ben Diamond‘s amendment was the more dramatic measure, effectively putting consolidation efforts on hold for another year.

It would appoint a study committee, comprised of students, faculty members and administrators from all three USF campuses, as well as members of the business community, to study consolidation of the separate campuses. They would then write a report and submit it to the Legislature before the 2019 session begins.

“My concern with what we’re doing … is that there hasn’t been the community discussion in Pinellas County yet as to this consolidation,” Diamond said. “I’m concerned that we’re rushing into this before we have a chance to hear from our community.”

Diamond then read off a host of local groups he said were extremely concerned about consolidation, namely the Pinellas County Commission, the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce and the Pinellas County Economic Development Agency.

The St. Petersburg Democrat said he personally had several questions he believed needed additional vetting: What are the admission standards at each university? How will consolidation affect the curriculum? How is the governance structure changed if they are not separately accredited institutions?

But Rodrigues rejected his gambit, saying he believed that USF Tampa was on the verge of making “preeminence,” the state designation that rewards Florida’s top universities with millions of dollars. Such a delay would prevent Manatee-Sarasota and USFSP from enjoying the bounties of that achievement.

“All students that get a degree that says USF will be benefitting from that preeminence,” Rodrigues told the committee. “If we delay, then the money that is going to come to the University of South Florida would be invested in Tampa, because those would be the only students that have contributed to the metrics that have made them preeminent.”

Rodrigues added that USF System President Judy Genshaft and the state’s Board of Governors support his bill.

While the Diamond amendment went down to defeat (with Pinellas Republicans Chris Latvala and Larry Ahern voting no), Rodrigues did encourage the committee to back  Ahern’s amendment that would make USFSP and USFSM official USF campuses and not universities by 2020.

It also requires the USF board of trustees to publish a “biennial regional impact report,” which would get into the specifics of how USF is funding programs across its three counties.

That accountability report will also have to include statistics about research and infrastructure, student access to new degree programs and any changes in how students are performing and enrolling, among other things.

Newly elected Sarasota County Democrat Margaret Good asked what the harm was in delaying the implementation of the consolidation for another year to allow for a study to be conducted.

Rodrigues stuck to his previously declared bottom line: USF was approaching preeminence, and it’d be a shame if the St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee universities couldn’t share in the money that comes with that distinction.

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