Richard Corcoran Archives - Page 2 of 54 - Florida Politics

Adam Putnam: Nobody knows Florida better than I

Adam Putnam assured the 200 or so delegates to his breakfast at the Republican Party of Florida quarterly meeting in Orlando Saturday that he knows their towns, he knows their roads, he knows their barbecue places, and he knows their hopes, dreams, and struggles of living somewhere that’s not on an Interstate exit.

The Florida agriculture commissioner and former state lawmaker and former U.S. Congressman running for governor spun his theme of Florida being the greatest state, where everyone wants to visit or live, while pressing conservatism, urging that Florida must be “the launching pad of the American dream,” and warning of liberal uprisings, with “The left is coming for us!”

And, most of all, the candidate turned on his folksy side, reminded everyone he’s a fifth-generation Floridian with a ranch outside of Bartow, and strove to connect with Republicans in too-often-ignored rural areas and small towns from the Keys to the western panhandle.

Putnam, alone in the Republican race for governor until Friday, now has serious competition for the Republican primary nomination. State Sen. Jack Latvala of Clearwater filed to run Friday and addressed the Republican convention Friday night. Potential candidate U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis of Ponte Vedra Beach was to address the crowd Saturday afternoon. House Speaker Richard Corcoran of Land O’ Lakes also is a real prospect.

On Saturday morning, Putnam was positioning himself as the grassroots candidate.

He spoke of how two-thirds of Floridians don’t have college degrees so the state must put more emphasis on technical training and less on trying to get everyone to go to college. He spoke of making sure everyone has the chance to start their own businesses, and don’t dismiss someone starting out with a lawn-care business.

“I know our state,” Putnam said. “I know every corner of our state. I’ve been down every four-lane, every dirt road. I know all the barbecue restaurants. If you need a tip I can tell you where the best pulled-pork meal is, where the best brisket is, who’s got the best chicken. I know our state like the back of my hand. I am dedicated to the future of our state.”

From there, he appeared to respond to Latvala’s comments Friday night, when the House Appropriations Committee chairman lashed out at other candidates, whom he didn’t name, whom he accused of forgetting the needs of the Republican Party of Florida while they pursued their own careers, and of raising money for their own causes, without contributing to the party.

“We’re going to bring this state together. And this party is a part of that. It’s an integral part of that,” Putnam said to the party loyalists at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort. “It’s not us against them. It’s not Bradford versus Highlands. It’s not the party versus the electeds. You have seen me at your meetings and in your Lincoln Days…. I can’t succeed as a governor if we don’t succeed as a party.”

 

Gwen Graham pledges public education as her priority, blasts Richard Corcoran

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham pledged Thursday to a number of educators and parents concerned about public education that she would make public education her top priority.

While meeting with a roundtable of teachers, former teachers, public education advocates, and parents in an Orlando restaurant Thursday, Graham blasted Republican efforts to promote charter schools, which she said was at the expense of public schools, and renewed her vows to abolish testing and school grades and bring back technical education.

“I give you my commitment, as governor this is going to be my priority,” Graham said. “I’m going to work on this every day. And we’re going to start from day one.”

Graham, the former congresswoman and former schools lawyer from Tallahassee, faces Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and Winter Park developer Chris King seeking the Democratic primary nomination to run for governor in 2018. Adam Putnam is the only major Republican running, though others, including House Speaker Richard Corcoran, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, and Senate Appropriations Committee Jack Latvala are mulling runs.

At the round table and later speaking with reporters, Graham blasted Corcoran in particular for cutting the deal that led to passage of House Bill 7069 in the Special Legislative Session this summer, a bill she characterized as a Republican attack on public education in order to promote private charter schools.

“What I believe is going on is a desire to privatize our school system, and strip resources away from schools that desperately need additional resources. They don’t need to have what 7069 has done, which is to take funding away from Title I schools, to strip away options for school districts if it gets a C or a D grade,” she said.

“And don’t even me started on the grading, because we’re going to end the grading of schools,” she added. “Everywhere I go I hear how damaging it is to the schools, the school districts, the kids themselves. There’s no point to it other than as a way to diminish and demoralize schools that are working so hard, and eventually strip the funding away from schools so we can privatize them.”

And then she turned to Corcoran personally, noting that his wife Anne founded a charter school.

“The legislators that behind this are making money,” she said. “They financially benefit from what he is doing to the detriment of nine out of ten kids in Florida who go to public schools.”

 

Florida school districts join fight against new school law

More and more Florida school districts are joining a looming legal fight over a new law that steers money to privately run charter schools.

The Miami Herald reports the Miami-Dade School Board voted unanimously Wednesday to join a proposed lawsuit to block the sweeping legislation pushed by House Speaker Richard Corcoran.

Miami-Dade is now one of seven districts that have voted to sue over the law, including all three districts located in heavily populated South Florida.

School officials have criticized the law because of the measure forcing school districts to share property taxes with charter schools. Charter schools are in line to get more than $96 million from this provision.

Legislators have defended the new law, saying charter schools are public schools that deserve their share of local tax dollars.

Republished with permission of The Associated Press.

Adam Putnam and Jack Latvala to speak at Florida GOP meeting

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Senate Appropriations Chair Jack Latvala are both set to speak at the Republican Party of Florida’s Quarterly and Executive Board Meeting this weekend.

The Friday and Saturday event at the Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando will feature a handful of appearances open to the press, including a “Dessert with Sen. Jack Latvala” Friday at 9 p.m. and an “Up & Adam Breakfast” with Putnam Saturday at 8 a.m.

Putnam’s event will be followed up by a talk from Fox News contributor Stephen Moore, with the RPOF Executive Board set to meet from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Putnam is currently the only major Republican candidate running to be Florida governor, though Latvala could join him in the race as soon as next week. The Pinellas County Republican is set to announce his 2018 plans on Aug. 16 at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

Both men have millions socked away in their political committees. Putnam ended July with $11.6 million on hand between his campaign and committee, “Florida Grown,” while Latvala had $3.84 million on hand for his committee, “Florida Leadership Committee.”

A couple more big name Republicans are also mulling a run, including House Speaker Richard Corcoran whose committee neared $3 million in total fundraising last month. U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis is also considering a run.

Chris King: ‘I want to be the economy candidate’

Chris King wants to convince Florida voters that the state really doesn’t have it so good, that the economy has stagnated for this entire century, and that it’s the Republicans’ fault since they’ve been in charge the whole time.

King, the Winter Park developer who’s seeking the Democratic primary nomination to run for governor of Florida in 2018, offers data charts, tables, and statistical analysis from various U.S. agencies to back up his claims. He weaves them into almost every speech, highlights them at virtually every event.

Those numbers, showing Florida losing ground, dramatically in some cases, to almost every high-population state regarding household income growth, poverty rates, and per-capita gross domestic product, provide the foundation for King’s theme: a Democrat who talks economics and business strategy.

“This was the big ‘Aha!’ for me. That was the decision to run, run now; and that this would be our message; and that I would be the economy candidate in the Democratic Party,” said King, the 39-year-old political novice whose closest friends say has been preparing for politics his whole life.

King sat down last week with FloridaPolitics.com to discuss his economic vision for Florida.

He described a plan based on his view that under the past 19 years of one-party, Republican rule, the state’s growth has progressed little or regressed, especially compared with rival states; and that it’s time to abandon strategies aimed at attracting low-wage businesses. He said his focus would be on investing in long-term strategies to promote higher-paying jobs while at the same time investing in affordable housing and environmental technologies.

“I will be heavily contested on this concept that Florida is a back-of-the-pack state,” King added. “They will fight me hard on this. But the basic suppositions I make is [based] on 15 years of one party rule, from 2000 to 2015 – it’s obviously been longer than that, but that was the period I really studied. And that during that period it is undeniable, based on Florida’s numbers, state numbers, that when we compare to our peers, Florida went backward.”

King’s background with a Harvard University education and a law degree from the University of Florida, and as a businessman, may give him preparation for such a debate. But he is new to public debate.

Unlike his current rivals and most of his potential rivals, King has little real-world experience in government economics, having never been tested with challenges of competing public interests, taxes, and legislative budget fights.

On the Democrats’ side, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum has run a city. Former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham has waged public money battles in Congress. On the Republicans’ side, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam had run a state department, and before that wrestled with public finances in Congress and the Florida Legislature. Potential candidates include Democratic Miami Beach Mayor Phil Levine, Republican Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala, and Republican Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran. They likely will relish going after King’s inexperience in public spending and taxing policies as he pushes his economic vision.

Still, King has something most of them do not, save Levine and another potential Democratic candidate, Orlando lawyer John Morgan: a record of high success in running businesses that made him wealthy and created significant equity and jobs.

King spoke of using the governor’s office pulpit and the line-item veto to create a “culture change” in the state’s economic approaches.

“So, Republicans, or our one-party state government, would argue we are growing. And they would point to unemployment numbers being low. They would point to a AAA bond rating, which establishes credit for the state. And a good and healthy rainy-day fund,” King said. “My critique would be: At what cost have those things come? And if those jobs are not paying a wage that a family lives on, or an individual can survive on, isn’t that a problem?”

Point one of his critique: Adjusted for inflation, Florida’s median household income has declined 7 percent from 2000 to 2015, to $49,000, which is well below those of the other four highest-population states, California, Texas, New York, and Illinois, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Point two: Florida’s 2015 per-capita, gross domestic product of $39,000 was virtually unchanged this century, and is at least 27 percent lower than those of California, Texas, New York, and Illinois, which all saw far more growth in GDP this century, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Census Bureau.

Point three:  Florida’s poverty rate has increased dramatically since 2000, reaching 16.2 percent in 2015, moving it well above the poverty rates in California, New York, Illinois, which saw far-more modest increases in poverty, and in Texas, which saw its poverty rate decline during the same period, according to the Census Bureau.

“We haven’t had a leadership who have wanted to invest in the hard things that create long-term value,” he charged. “For two decades we have been spending huge amounts of time and money to recruit out-of-state, large corporations to open up, not flagship offices, not headquarters, but satellite offices, with low-paying jobs.”

King offered broad ideas he wants to pursue but said his detailed proposals would be rolled out this fall, focusing on three themes: promoting small business, driving down the cost of living, and creating pathway options for children.

Among specific ideas he said he would embrace:

— Addressing access to small-business and start-up capital, particularly for new college-graduate, minority, and military-veteran entrepreneurs, through tax policies, small state business incentives, micro-lenders, and financial institutions.

— Aggressively developing affordable housing, including stopping raids on the affordable housing trust fund, and pushing to invest $250 million to $350 million in state money into public-private matches for affordable housing partnerships, which he said would create nearly $1 billion in housing investments. “It’s a winning formula,” said the affordable housing developer, who added his companies do not accept public money for their projects.

— Investing more in community colleges, trade schools, and access and affordability for four-year universities “I’m going to be a governor who is a big, big fan of our community college system in Florida,” he said.

— Increasing money for university research, especially in already-established, commercially-promising specialties such as the University of Central Florida’s optics science and technology programs.

— Fostering openness to diversity in universities, and that includes foreign students and immigrant faculty and researchers, to attract “the best and the brightest.”

— Accepting Medicaid expansion, if it’s still available.

— Pushing for passage of the Florida Competitive Workplace Act, which he said will signal nationally that the state is welcoming.

— Opening markets and business opportunities for solar energy, which he said the market is moving on already, as evidenced by the high numbers of jobs in such states as Massachusetts. “We should not be just a national leader; we should be an international leader in solar,” he said.

— Promoting technologies, research, insurance products, commerce, development, and planning strategies to address rising sea levels. “It’s scary. The next governor has to be, he or she, somebody, who is not only trying to address these issues, but is trying to build markets, the products, and services of the future, to position Florida to survive this challenge,” King said. “I don’t think of it just as a problem. This is an opportunity for businesses and organizations and our best thinking.”

Gwen Graham has now raised $3 million for 2018 bid

Democrat Gwen Graham announced Sunday that she raised another $350,000 in July for her bid to be Florida’s next governor.

Graham raised $220,000 of that money through her campaign account, with the other $130,000 coming in through her political committee, “Our Florida.”

The former congresswoman ended June with $1.6 million in her committee account and $475,000 on hand in her campaign account, and while the campaign didn’t announce her on-hand total for July, it did note another 2,000 donors chipped in last month for a total of 6,700 unique donors thus far.

The haul keeps her far ahead of Democratic Primary rivals Chris King, a Winter Park businessman, and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and her news release announcing the numbers indicates she’s more focused on her Republican competition than the more immediate primary battle.

“This summer has shown why electing a Democratic Governor is vital to our state’s future,” Graham said. “While Donald Trump wages a war against our health care, threatens our citrus industry, and moves forward with drilling off our beaches, Rick Scott and Adam Putnam refuse to stand up to the president and put Florida first.

“Instead, Adam Putnam has turned to copying the president by attacking the free press,” she added. “It’s a desperate attempt to appeal to the extreme right, and it won’t work. One Donald Trump in our state — even just part time — is more than enough.”

Putnam, the state’s term-limited Agriculture Commissioner, has nearly $12 million on hand. He recently made a hard turn to the right, much to the surprise of many of his moderate Republican supporters, and Graham is seizing the chance to kick him in the shins.

Among his recent displays are imploring his Twitter followers to sign a petition to “stop fake news on CNN” and declaring himself a “proud NRA sellout,” despite criticism from others in his party that his advocacy has been non-existent for most gun bills debated in the legislature during his time as Ag. Commissioner.

So far, Putnam is the only major GOP candidate to enter the race, though he could be joined by Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala of Clearwater as soon as next week.

Both have millions on hand in their political committees, as does House Speaker Richard Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican who will decide whether to throw his hat into the ring after the 2018 legislative session.

Graham’s fundraising announcement came shortly after King’s campaign said it added $154,000 in July. Those numbers bring the businessman up to $2.4 million raised since he entered the race in April, with $1.7 million of that total on hand between his campaign account and his political committee, “Rise and Lead, Florida.”

Gillum, who had raised a total of $1.3 million between his campaign and “Forward Florida” committee through the end of June, hasn’t reported his July numbers yet, though the unofficial tally for Forward Florida on the committee’s website show just one contribution for $10,000 in July.

Adam Putnam campaign banks another $1.3 million in July

Between his campaign and committee, Adam Putnam’s gubernatorial bid is now approaching $17 million in total fundraising, including nearly $1.3 million banked in July.

“The finance operation continues to gain strength, with nearly $17 million in contributions to support Adam Putnam for Governor. But, more importantly, our grassroots momentum is gaining speed,” campaign spokeswoman Amanda Bevis announced Thursday. “Floridians are passionate about Adam Putnam’s willingness to fight for our freedoms and his ability to bring common sense, business smarts to our state’s capital.”

The two-term Agriculture Commissioner ended June with just under $15.7 million in total fundraising, and about $11.6 million on hand between his committee, “Florida Grown,” and his campaign. Bevis said Putnam added $1.299 million between the two accounts in July to finish the month with $16.98 million in total fundraising and $12.3 million in the bank.

Also noted was the fact that more than 5,000 donors had chipped in since the campaign started, with about 4,000 of those being small-dollar donors, defined as giving $500 or less.

Neither fundraising report is available on the Florida Division of Elections website, though the figures provided by the campaign indicate Putnam spent more than $600,000 last month.

The campaign also touted a trip to Kennedy Space Center with Vice President Mike Pence and stops at fire houses and Republican barbecues last month. The campaign also beat Putnam’s recently acquired “NRA sell out” drum, complete with mention of a clay shoot and picture of him gun-in-hand.

Putnam is currently the only major GOP candidate running for governor, though Senate Appropriations Chair Jack Latvala and House Speaker Richard Corcoran each mulling a run.

Latvala has $3.84 million on hand in his political committee, “Florida Leadership Fund,” while Corcoran recently announced hitting nearly $3 million in total fundraising since starting his committee, “Watchdog PAC,” in May.

Latvala will announce whether he will run Aug. 16 at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, while Corcoran will wait to announce until after the 2018 legislative session.

Darryl Rouson’s past used against him by local official during homestead expansion debate

Darryl Rouson says that he was legitimately undecided days before the Florida Senate would vote on whether to place a measure on the 2018 ballot to increase Florida’s homestead exemption.

A late amendment that would exempt 29 of the state’s poorest counties from being affected by the loss of property tax revenues ultimately led him to become one of six Democrats in the state Senate to support the measure. But it was a comment by a local elected official who wanted him to oppose the measure that really fueled his support.

“”Rouson, don’t be stupid. The voter is stupid. You can’t trust the voters,’ ” were the words of an unarmed official, according to the St. Petersburg Democrat who was speaking in Tampa’s Seminole Heights Wednesday night.

“‘In fact, you ought to be able to relate to this, Rouson,'” he recounted. ” ‘The voter is like a drunk that you give a glass of wine to and walk away and say ‘do the right thing.’ “

Rouson has talked frequently about his addiction to alcohol and crack cocaine — an addiction which undoubtedly the local official was referring to in attempt to make a point. Rouson declined to tell this reporter who he was referring to, saying only that it was a locally elected official in the Tampa Bay region

Although there was no official Democratic position to put a measure to expand the homestead exemption to $75,000 on next year’s ballot, it was strongly opposed by the majority of Democratic legislators, as well by most city council and county commissioners throughout the state, who say passage of the measure will lead to major reductions in property tax revenues and, therefore, a reduction in local services.

Those says the expansion would only worsen a tax unfairness problem caused by Save Our Homes, a provision in the state constitution that limits increases in the assessed value of homesteaded property to 3 percent a year.

Hillsborough County officials say they could see a reduction of at least $30 million in revenues if the measure passes, while Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn has said the city is looking at a $6 million cut in revenues.

Rouson was narrowly elected to Senate District 19 last fall, the majority of which resides in Hillsborough County. He was crashing the intimate town hall meeting at the Seminole Heights Exchange that was hosted by Tampa state Representative Sean Shaw, who couldn’t be more vocal about his opposition to the measure.

“I voted against it because I don’t believe everything needs to go on the ballot to the voter,” Shaw says. “If there’s stuff that’s atrocious enough that I don’t think deserves the attention of the Florida Constitution, I’m going to vote against it.”

Rouson does not support the passage of the measure. He simply says that the voters should be given the option, and thinks with education, they will oppose the measure.

“I believe that between now and 17 more months, people like you will become educated and will learn about the impact that this will have on their communities and will exercise the right decision, ” he said. “I’m not your parent, keeping something away from you that you can’t be trusted with.”

The measure was strongly supported by House Speaker Richard Corcoran.  His office strongly contests the notion that counties in Florida will see their revenues reduced if the measure passes.

In addition to Rouson, five other Democrats in the Senate supported the measure, which ensured its passage, since it needed to get two-thirds support in the Senate.  If all 15 Democrats had opposed it, it would not be on the ballot.

It was the measure by Tallahassee Senator Bill Montford to protect the state’s 29 poorest counties from losing any more property tax revenue that Rouson said gave him comfort in putting the measure on the ballot.

Florida TaxWatch opposes the measure because of the inequality that it says that it’s passage will create.

“It’s just a tax shift,” Robert E. Weissert, executive vice president and counsel to the president and CEO with TaxWatch said at a Tampa Tiger Bay meeting last month. Weissert says that local governments will rely less on getting revenues from owner-occupied homes to businesses and non-homestead properties, such as vacation homes and apartment complexes. He also noted that the higher exemption would protect the state’s 29 poorest counties from losing any more property tax revenue.

Ken Lawson to tourism industry: ‘I want to earn your trust’

VISIT FLORIDA CEO Ken Lawson is telling tourism industry leaders he “want(s) to earn (their) trust” in a Wednesday post on the public-private tourism marketing agency’s blog.

Ken Lawson

“As you know, I have been traveling the state, engaging with our partners, board members, legislators and other stakeholders to listen, learn, and offer VISIT FLORIDA’s support at every stop,” he wrote on “Sunshine Matters.”

“I want to earn your trust and learn from you first hand. This has been a hard year for all of us,” he added. “VISIT FLORIDA is your organization, one that each of our industry partners have built over the years. Its value cannot be underestimated.”

House Speaker Richard Corcoran had aimed to gut the organization this Legislative Session from nearly $80 million in state funding to $25 million, even suing after it refused to reveal a secret deal with Miami rap superstar Pitbull to promote Florida tourism. Pitbull himself published a copy of the contract via Twitter, revealing he was promised a maximum of $1 million.

Corcoran, Gov. Rick Scott and Senate President Joe Negron later agreed to a deal that ensured $76 million in state funding with increased transparency measures on spending.

Scott moved Lawson from secretary of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to head VISIT FLORIDA in January. The former Marine went hat in hand to lawmakers this session to ask for funding—a “hard and messy battle,” he called it.

Since then, Lawson has hit the road, going around the state to meet with stakeholders.

“It is now time to heal and come together,” he said Wednesday. “As part of this process, I am humbly reaching out to you to hear your story, learn about your challenges, and determine how VISIT FLORIDA can help with your future success.”

He shared stories of his latest visit to the Miami area, including meetings at Jungle Island and with the Vice Consul General of Germany.

Lawson also met with Democratic state Rep. David Richardson of Miami Beach and Senate Democratic Leader Oscar Braynon II of Miami Gardens. “They both expressed their continued support of VISIT FLORIDA’s mission, and I updated them on our new marketing plan and exciting opportunities on the horizon,” he wrote.

“As I plan other trips like this in the weeks and months to come, I look forward to engaging with as many of you as I possibly can to better understand the vital role each of you play in the continued success of our industry,” Lawson wrote.

Richard Corcoran’s committee has now raised nearly $3 mil

House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s political committee brought in more than $820,000 in July.

Watchdog PAC has now raised nearly $3 million since being formed at the end of May.

Corcoran has said he is considering a 2018 gubernatorial run. These figures put him on track to have several million dollars in the bank when he makes a decision, which he has said will come after the legislative session concludes in March.

“There is clearly growing and diversified support for Watchdog PAC, and we look forward to another strong month of fundraising in August,” said James Blair, the committee’s chairman.

In addition to a high-profile $100,000 check from the law firm of Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley PA, Corcoran’s committee also picked up a $100,000 check from Citizens Alliance for Florida’s Economy, a political committee indirectly connected to the Florida Justice Association. State Rep. Carlos Trujillo‘s committee contributed another $50,000 after seeding the committee with a sizable contribution in June.

Heritage Insurance kicked in $50,000 to Watchdog PAC; U.S. Sugar donated $25,000.

Other notable contributions include a $15,000 check from the “Friends of Matt Gaetz” political committee, a $15,000 contribution from helicopter training group Vertol Systems Company Inc. and $25,000 from Southeast QSR, a company that operates several fast food franchises.

Blair said the broad support is because “Floridians support government that embraces constitutional conservative principals whose leaders do more and talk less.”

 

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons