Ron DeSantis Archives - Florida Politics

Jacksonville Bold for 11.17.17 — Time for reflection

A frenetic year in Jacksonville politics — including the passage of the Human Rights Ordinance expansion, pension reform, and the Kids Hope Alliance — is ending.

And not a moment too soon.

The Jacksonville City Council meeting this week had nothing on the agenda was worth covering, even by the standards of our Jacksonville correspondent.

A superbug was going through Council, anyway, and at least one member was absent while another member fought the lingering cold — so it was just as well that they didn’t discuss hot-button issues.

At Bold, we are taking full advantage of the lull in the calendar — with no new issue this Thanksgiving.

We will be with our families, as you will, and we will think of what’s important — the real bonds that give meaning to the often-surreal world of politics.

Rick Scott drops budget in Duval

Gov. Scott released his final budget this week in Jacksonville, an $87.4B proposal with “historic” funding in any number of categories.

Rick Scott trumpeted more JAXPORT funding in his Jacksonville stop.

Throughout Scott’s remarks, there was a common theme: “historic investments” in area after area, a policy justified by an economy that is booming — on the macro level at least — as his eight years in Tallahassee near a close.

“We’ll have historic investments in education, historic investments in transportation, historic investments in the environment, and historic investments in helping those with disabilities,” Scott added. “On top of that, we’re all going to reward our law enforcement officers.”

Some new announcements were made for the Jacksonville market also, including a “historic $10.8 billion for transportation, including significant funding for Jacksonville, including the deepening of JAXPORT.”

Roy Moore accusations ‘disgusting,’ Scott says

Florida Politics was the first media outlet to ask Scott about Moore, the Alabama Senate candidate under fire for dating underage women while he was district attorney decades back.

Here’s what he told us exclusively in Jacksonville Tuesday: “If any of it’s true, he’s got to get out of the race.”

Roy Moore allegations are ‘disgusting,’ says Rick Scott.

“This is not partisan. This is about doing the right thing, and when I think about the things in Hollywood, I think about my daughters. And when I think about this, I think about my grandkids.”

“When my daughters were teenagers,” Scott continued, “I was worried about where they were. So, when you hear reports like this, they’re disgusting. So, if there’s any truth to any of this, he’s got to get out of the race.”

“Every voter, every citizen, every taxpayer deserves to have their elected officials live up to high standards. When you read the stories like this, whether the thing’s in Alabama or Tallahassee or D.C. or California,” Scott said, “you think about your family, and you think about how disgusting it is and you hope it would never happen to anybody.”

Audrey Gibson drops Duval Dems chair

On Monday evening, State Sen. Gibson — the next Caucus leader for Senate Democrats — resigned as chair of the Duval County Democratic Party.

Audrey Gibson spent a year in the chair. Are Duval Dems ready for 2018?

“As you may know,” Gibson wrote in an email to local Democrats, “last week I was elected Leader Designate of the Senate Democrat Caucus. I am deeply honored and realize the efforts I must give to winning more Dem seats will require 100 percent plus of my focus.”

Gibson thought the year she was chair was successful, noting that having “candidates ready to run” was among the party’s successes.

A new chair will be chosen Dec. 4.

Clay Yarborough pushes for FSCJ STEM $$$

Florida State College Jacksonville made an ambitious ask to the Duval County Legislative Delegation: $12 million PECO money for a downtown STEM building.

Jacksonville Republican State Rep. Yarborough will carry that one to Tallahassee, via a bill filed Monday.

Clay Yarborough will carry FSCJ’s top priority this year.

Per the appropriations request, the project will “accommodate the space and growth needs for the College’s STEM programs that focus on public and private sector-identified regional workforce needs.”

“The facility will help the region meet its workforce targets and will help citizens in the community get connected with affordable degree and certificate programs that will lead to employment opportunities,” the request continues.

The $12 million would allow for demolition and replacement of facilities on the college’s downtown campus, the request continues, and unspecified “major employers” in the Jacksonville region would attest to the utility of the project.

Jason Fischer files ‘Smart Cities Initiative’

A bill (“the Florida Smart City Challenge Grant Program”) filed Monday in the Florida Legislature would offer state grant money, via the Florida Department of Transportation, as an incentive for local solutions to transportation challenges.

Fischer filed the House version, HB 633; Republican Jeff Brandes is carrying the Senate version.

Jason Fischer proposes more ‘Smart Cities.’

“Florida’s transportation system is inefficient and faces many challenges, but we can overcome them by embracing innovative technologies and thinking differently about how we plan our communities. This bill will provide cities and counties throughout Florida the opportunity to leverage technology and private investment to re-imagine mobility solutions not just for businesses but also for seniors, people with disabilities and other underserved individuals,” Fischer said.

A wide swath of agencies would qualify for funding; in particular, any governmental body responsible for the movement of goods and services in Florida, including local governments, but also TPOs and state universities.

Money, power, respect

In October fundraising for this region’s representation in Tallahassee, what was clear: correlation between stroke and checks.

Palm Coast Rep. Paul Renner in HD 24 is on track to the House Speaker post. And Northeast Florida’s brightest hope in the House is also favored by donors outside the region.

Paul Renner won the money race in Northeast Florida last month.

Proof positive: the impressive October hauls of Renner’s two political committees, “Florida Foundation for Liberty” and “Conservatives for Principled Leadership.” They brought in $108,000 — much more than an incumbent running in a deep-red seat against an underfunded Democrat needs for re-election.

Also doing well: Senate Appropriations Chair Rob Bradley. While not up for re-election, his fundraising was notable.

“Working for Florida’s Families,” Bradley’s political committee, reached a milestone with a $40,000 October, clearing $500,000 cash on hand.

Sen. Aaron Bean raised $36,000 between his committee and his campaign.

Except for Kim Daniels, who raised nothing and Cord Byrd, who raised just $2,000, virtually every other incumbent in the region did well.

The single open seat — in HD 15 — is competitive so far.

HD 15 Republican Wyman Duggan had a strong month:  $20,500 in October, bringing him to $84,600 raised, with nearly $77,000 on hand. Democrat Tracye Polson kept pace.

She brought in $14,090 off 64 contributions in October, bringing her total raised to $65,189, with over $64,000 of that on hand. Her committee has another $12,000 banked, giving her $76,000 raised.

Not doing well in October: Attorney General candidate Jay Fant, who brought in $12,000 between his committee and campaign accounts. Luckily, a $750,000 personal loan buys him time, but opponents Ashley Moody and Frank White are well ahead when it comes to donor and endorser interest.

Big debuts for Jax Council hopefuls

Two new Jacksonville City Council candidates made huge splashes in their first months on the trail. And one political veteran started a bit slow.

Bill Bishop is still getting his fundraising into gear, as October receipts show.

Well-connected District 5 hopeful LeAnna Cumber brought in $101,775 last month in her bid to succeed termed-out Lori Boyer. Cumber’s entry into the race has been discussed for some time, and with that kind of money, the Tim Baker/Brian Hughes team deploying it, and a Democrat opponent with $400 on hand, she’s the front-runner.

Also starting off strong: currently unopposed Beaches candidate Rory Diamond, who brought in $85,326, and retained just over $82,000 of such as cash on hand.

Off to a slow start: former Jacksonville City Councilman Bill Bishop, with less than blistering fundraising in his first month against Ron Salem in At-Large District 2.

Bishop had a respectable first month — bringing in $13,325 off 24 contributions — though Salem almost matched him, with $11,125 collected.

Salem has just under $114,000 cash on hand, and it will be worth watching to see how Bishop closes the cash gap.

Lenny Curry talks D.C. trip, ‘relationship building’

Florida Politics caught up with Jacksonville Mayor Curry, and the main topic of conversation was his trip last week to Washington, D.C.

The Hart Bridge project is a priority of Lenny Curry — for a number of reasons.

Curry met with Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, as well as Billy Kirkland and Justin Clark, who handle intergovernmental affairs for the White House, U.S. Reps. John Rutherford and Mario Diaz-Balart, and Sen. Marco Rubio.

The primary goal of that trip: discussing the $25 million grant from the Department of Transportation that would allow the city to reconfigure off ramps from the Hart Bridge onto surface streets, allowing for more efficient movement of goods to and from the port.

And Curry, along with his team, made the pitch.

The in-person meeting, Curry said, had invaluable advantages, as a “face to face meeting” with the right people is inherently more meaningful than just presenting a paper with project specs and scope.

Curry recounted the case he made against the current configuration.

Its age makes it a “dinosaur” regarding design, one with safety issues that mandate changes.

The FDOT Study of the bridge conducted this year revealed the benefit to the port, another key benefit to the project.

The economic development for Bay Street the new traffic pattern would spawn, Curry said, was “gravy” — not the primary purpose of the project that some have suggested.

But the trip was about more than selling the project, Curry said. It’s about “long-term relationship building” as well, on this issue but others.

Jax councilors, mayor’s office discouraged from texting

Jacksonville City Council President Anna Brosche revised the council’s texting policy to include official “discouragement” of texts between legislators and the Mayor’s Office during meetings.

The power struggle continues in Jacksonville City Hall.

Brosche says it’s about transparent government.

“The impetus for change is transparency, open government, and equal access. During our meetings, all Council members and, more importantly, the public should be part of the conversations taking place regarding legislation actively being debated,” Brosche said.

Brosche also noted that administration members have been texting Council members during meetings.

“While I have observed colleagues receiving texts from the administration during meetings, I am going to give everyone the benefit of the doubt that such communications were not about active legislation. My revision of the policy is a proactive measure to uphold the principles of transparency and open government and allow all Council Members and the public to know they are participating in all communications happening during Council meetings.”

The Mayor’s Office is OK with this, meanwhile.

“The mayor has always said he respects the Council and Council President’s roles in conducting themselves and setting policies as they see fit. The mayor has also been a proponent of transparency and accountability, and is always encouraged to see practices that support that,” asserted a statement from his office.

The mayor’s office and Brosche have clashed on various issues since she took over the presidency in July.

MLK breakfast troubles

First Coast News reports that the local NAACP and Southern Christian Leadership Conference have no interest in participating in Jacksonville’s Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast next year.

MLK Jr. birthday breakfast this year may go on without key civil rights groups.

The question they are asking: “What’s in it for the SCLC? What’s in it for the NAACP?”

At issue: economic disparity and resource allocation, with the civil rights groups claiming “One City One Jacksonville” is just a slogan — not a policy.

For its part, the Mayor’s Office contends that it has been making good faith efforts to meet with the local leaders of both groups, and has included them on the event host committee.

Revealed in 2017’s breakfast is a gap in rhetoric between the Mayor’s Office and the pastoral community. After that event, a boycott was threatened, per WJCT.

Opioid lawsuit imminent

Jacksonville soon may be one of the many governments suing Big Pharma in reaction to the opiate crisis.

Jacksonville’s Office of General Counsel is vetting so-called “prestigious” law firms, with a decision expected early in December.

Jax mulls big suit against Big Pharma.

Earlier this year, the Jacksonville City Council approved a resolution OKing legal action.

“The general counsel’s approved it, and I don’t feel like there’s any impediment,” Gulliford said.

The city has absorbed real costs from the opioid epidemic.

Overdoses, at last count, end four times as many lives as homicides in Duval County, with 2016’s number of 464 casualties more than doubling 2015’s number of 201.

Caucasians represent 86 percent of the deaths, and over half of those passing away are in their 30s and 40s.

And things could get worse: a fentanyl derivative being used to cut heroin in the Ohio Valley doesn’t respond to Narcan.

What Aaron Bean is up to in November

On Friday, Nov. 17, the Fernandina Beach Republican will speak at the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the Sertoma Speech & Hearing Foundation’s new mobile audiology services van, which will provide pediatric hearing screenings and dispense hearing aids. That event begins 1 p.m. at the Hidden Hills Learning Tree, 12160 Fort Caroline Road in Jacksonville.

On Wednesday, Nov. 22, Bean will appear at the dedication of a memorial for Nassau County Deputy Eric Oliver, on the anniversary of his death in 2016 by a hit-and-run driver. The dedication begins at 7:30 a.m., 463779 FL-200 in Yulee.

Then, on Nov. 28, Bean will give a speech to members of the Downtown Business Professional Group and offer an update on the upcoming 2018 Legislative Session. The meeting starts 7 a.m. at The River Club, 1 Independent Drive in Jacksonville.

Local veteran honored in Florida Veterans’ Hall of Fame

Colonel Len Loving, United States Marine Corps (Ret.) and CEO of Five STAR Veterans Center, will be honored in the State of Florida Veterans’ Hall of Fame.

The State of Florida began the Florida Veterans’ Hall of Fame in 2013 to recognize and honor military veterans who, through their works and lives during or after military service, have made a significant contribution to the State of Florida. In selecting its nominees, the Council has given preference to veterans who were either born in Florida or adopted Florida as their home state.

Colonel Len Loving, United States Marine Corps (Retired) and CEO of Five STAR Veterans Center, is the newest member of the Florida Veterans’ Hall of Fame.

In 1986, Loving founded the Marine Corps Blount Island Command, in Jacksonville, which has become a major economic engine in Northeast Florida. He was the Commanding Officer until his retirement in 1989.

In 2011, Loving began building and opening the Five STAR Veterans Center, where he continues to serve as CEO. The center gives food, housing, assistance securing veteran benefits, financial, mental health services provided by the Delores Barr Weaver Fund, and more to 30-plus homeless veterans monthly.

Loving has been chosen for the Florida Veterans’ Hall of Fame due to his positive impact on Florida’s most at-risk veterans and their families by 1) opening what is now the Five STAR Veterans Center, 2) going many extra miles to keep the doors open, and 3) making a lasting, life-altering impact on those who are most significantly affected by their years in service and have nowhere else to turn.

Today, five years after opening the doors, 199 veterans have lived at and benefited from the Five STAR Veterans Center; 35 veterans currently live at the center, and by January 2018 the center expects to reach their capacity of 39 veterans.

JAXPORT to expand vehicle-handling capacity

JAXPORT is beginning construction of a new automobile processing terminal, the first part of a multiyear project to increase the port’s vehicle-handling capacity 25 percent.

Once completed, the facility will add more than 100 acres of processing and storage space on JAXPORT’s Dames Point Marine Terminal, offering vessels direct waterside access for loading and unloading with major interstates less than 1 mile away plus the potential for rail capabilities.

After a record-breaking year, JAXPORT is expanding its vehicle handling capacity by 25 percent.

The expansion follows a year of highest-ever vehicle volumes at JAXPORT. In 2017, the port moved record 693,000 total units. With the port’s three auto processors and location in the heart of the nation’s fastest-growing auto consumer market, JAXPORT his responding to the increased demand for vehicle space.

“The steady growth of our auto business speaks volumes about our efficiencies,” said Roy Schleicher, JAXPORT Executive Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer. “We are committed to supporting our auto partners with the tools they require to continue to expand their businesses in Jacksonville.”

Jacksonville Zoo Breakfast with Santa

On the weekend of Dec. 2-3, Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens members and their families can enjoy a delicious breakfast buffet, and become among the first to tell Santa their holiday wishes. New this year: Breakfast will take place at the Shaba Terrace at Main Camp.

Members Only Breakfast with Santa begins 8 a.m., and costs $8 per member, ages 3 and up.

Those with a friend, 1 adult family + 1, family + 1 or family + 2 membership may bring the corresponding number of guests. A limited number of tickets will be sold on a first come, first served basis. More information available at Jacksonvillezoo.org.

Adam Putnam sees wake-up call in Virginia elections

Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam sees a wake-up call in the Democrats’ victories in Tuesday night’s elections in Virginia, New Jersey and elsewhere and declared Wednesday that it’s a call for a campaign to convince grassroots voters that the state’s conservative-principaled prosperity is at stake.

“We are at a crossroads. Make no mistake. Look what happened in Virginia and New Jersey. There should be a sense of urgency about this election. Not complacency,” Putnam told an Up and Adam gathering at a Winter Park restaurant Wednesday morning. “The inertia is for Florida to be more like New York than like Texas. The inertia is for the left to hijack our elections in Florida.”

Putnam, Florida’s agriculture commissioner, is honing his message to be that of continuing and building upon the conservative leadership he says Gov. Rick Scott has used to make the state’s economy the envy of the nation. At The Coop, a southern-cooking themed restaurant from John Rivers, Putnam continued his call for aggressive support for technical education, saying community colleges and trade schools have gotten “a stick in the eye” from the Florida Legislature in recent years. And he continued his assaults on liberals he says are out to turn Florida into a liberal bastion yet economic basket case like Illinois.

Yet, drawing on lessons he sees in Tuesday’s off-year elections as potential signaling a Democratic resurrection, Putnam also stressed the need to remind voters of the Republican’s accomplishments in Florida, and to get them out to vote to continue the program.

With the hobbling of state Sen. Jack Latvala from an investigation into alleged sexual misconduct, Putnam, of Bartow, now stands as the only serious Republican officially seeking the governor’s office in 2018, though he has to keep an eye out for potential candidacies of Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis. The Democrats, meanwhile, have four major candidates in the race, former state Rep. Gwen Graham, Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and Winter Park businessman Chris King, whose office is within easy walking distance of The Coop.

“There’s certainly a wake-up call here,” Putnam said after his 20-minute speech. “People are fed up with an absence of results in Washington. People were sent to fix our health care system, reform our tax code, and there’s just, there’s no results. It’s a warning against being complacent on turnout.

“But every election, every campaign is local. And you look at the strength of Florida’s economy, the growth in the number of jobs we have here, I think Floridians are looking for a governor who is going to build on our economic progress and give young people the the skills to stay in Florida and succeed,” he added.

He urged the gathering of about 50 people at The Coop to get engaged in his campaign and stay engaged, and to work to convince the conservative grassroots to vote, lest Florida see Virginia’s experience.

“And if we don’t get engaged, then you will have a sanctuary state. You will have an erosion of gun laws. And you will have the types of high taxes and bloated bureaucracy that is driving people from Chicago and New York in droves to our states,” Putnam said. “So don’t let Florida become more like New York and Illinois. We’ve got to fight in this election for the future of our grandkids. We’ve got to fight for a stronger, better Florida, in our infrastructure, in workforce development, and in a pro-business environment that we know Florida can be. That is our challenge in 2018. And that is my vision as your next governor.”

Nancy Soderberg lauds Donald Trump tone change in fundraising pitch

Just hours after a wave election night that was brutal for Republicans and almost ideal for Democrats, one might have expected Amb. Nancy Soderberg to send a “rally the troops” fundraising pitch for her bid in Florida’s 6th Congressional District.

However, Soderberg went in a different direction, instead giving President Donald Trump credit for a “remarkable and welcome change of tone” regarding tension with North Korea in a fundraising appeal Wednesday morning.

“After months of taunting and threats to North Korea,” Soderberg wrote, “we saw a different President Trump today in his visit to Seoul.”

“It was a remarkable and welcome change of tone. Today,” Soderberg added, “President Trump seemed more inclined to let diplomacy work, backing off on previous remarks that negotiations would be a waste of time.”

“In fact, he seemed to indicate progress and faith in diplomatic efforts, saying ‘Ultimately, it will all work out’.”

Soderberg avoids using the word “pivot” in the email, and offers caveats, including concern about Trump’s
“lack of restraint in his comments and actions in foreign policy issues, bringing us closer to nuclear war than many realize.”

However, while this is “still a very precarious situation,” Soderberg is “encouraged that sanity might be peeking through the door.”

Soderberg notes toward the close that the military option can’t be ruled out.

“All options must remain on the table. Diplomacy is not always the solution. But given the many that would die in a conflict with North Korea,” Soderberg wrote, “we owe it to them and all Americans to exhaust other options first.”

Soderberg had a strong 3Q of fundraising, with $336,000 brought in.

While Rep. Ron DeSantis is the incumbent, talk for months has been that he will run for a statewide race in 2018, making CD 6 an open seat in what could be another Democratic wave election.

Adam Putnam serves up comfort food to Clay Republicans

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam attributes his fondness for early starts to being a farmer.

Reporters from the city may be more likely to attribute it to sadism — especially when they drive from Jacksonville before sunrise for an 8 a.m. campaign event in Clay County.

Whatever the motivation, Putnam has shown a propensity for his ‘Up and Adam’ events, with his latest being Tuesday at Whitey’s Fish Camp in Fleming Island.

Putnam carries himself like the presumptive GOP nominee in next year’s race for governor — and why not?

His major declared opponent, Sen. Jack Latvala, has been hit hard this week in POLITICO, with reportage on alleged dalliances with female lobbyists.

Putnam didn’t want to talk about that in Clay County, punting  the question when asked a couple of different ways. Nor did he want to say anything quotable about Rep. Ron DeSantis, who is eyeballing a November entry to the race.

Putnam was happy, however, to discuss his road-tested vision of Florida exceptionalism — a speech that this writer, despite being tethered to one corner of the state, can recite portions of without any prompting.

In Clay County — now with 200,000 citizens, and many of them deep-red Republicans — that speech worked well.

Putnam extolled the virtues of blue collar work repeatedly in his remarks, rhapsodizing about power restoration crews and debris removal crews, as well as shipbuilders.

He noted that in Panama City, where Coast Guard cutters are being built, that the challenge is finding “enough workers … good, talented workers who don’t want a participation trophy for showing up … who can pass a drug test [and get a] security clearance.”

Putnam, mindful of the ever-vulnerable right flank, noted that “we don’t support men and women who kneel for the National Anthem.”

In a different context, that may have been an applause line; weeks removed from the heat of Kneelghazi, early in the morning, it didn’t pop the crowd.

No matter — it established the conservative bona fides.

The checklist of right-of-center talking points: an aversion to sanctuary cities, support for Rule of Law, parental involvement in schools — they were all there, as reliable in Putnam’s speeches as left-of-center bromides were in the presidential campaign speeches of Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Putnam also extolled Clay County — and St. Johns County — for not having the pressures that Duval County, a largely metropolitan county with the kind of legacy costs older, larger cities have.

He said that the bedroom communities are “taking parents because the schools are so outstanding,” with people “voting with their feet.”

“Florida will not be a failed state,” Putnam said, toward the end of his off-the-cuff but certainly prepared remarks.

The question for any opponent who jumps into this race is a simple one: how to compete with a candidate with nearly $20 million in the bank and — as Putnam himself told this outlet — a history in this race since April.

Jacksonville Bold for 10.27.17 — Looking toward 2018

When it comes to statewide races in 2018, does Northeast Florida have a dog in the hunt?

That’s a matter of interpretation.

One of our big scoops this week — Congressman Ron DeSantis (insiders affirm) is ramping up for a possible run for Florida governor.

DeSantis’ wife is on local television; he represents a district a few miles south of the Duval County line.

Is DeSantis “local”? Depends on your definition.

Geographically, sure. But regarding actually appearing responsive to Jacksonville concerns, that’s an open question. There are few local Republicans who sing his praises.

Meanwhile, down the ballot, local state Rep. Jay Fant is running for Attorney General.

While Fant is positioning himself as the local candidate, regional endorsements have been split between him and his two primary opponents, Ashley Moody and Frank White — who got Reps. Cord Byrd and Cyndi Stevenson to back him right after entering the race.

Northeast Florida punches above its weight in Republican primary turnout, but there are very much open questions as to whether local pols can compete statewide this cycle.

DeSantis for governor? It’s happening

The race for the 2018 Republican gubernatorial nomination could soon pick up even more star power, this time in the form of Congressman DeSantis.

Obviously, that would open DeSantis’ congressional seat just south of Jacksonville, meaning the end of a somewhat anticipated general election battle against former Clinton Administration U.N. Ambassador Nancy Soderberg.

Ron DeSantis looks poised to leap into the governor’s race. Finally.

For one thing, DeSantis spent the summer meeting with conservative donors discussing the governor’s race.

There has also been a shift in online presence: DeSantis2016.com is now being redirected to RonDeSantis.com.

Likewise, the tagline on the new website speaks to a new emphasis: “Ron DeSantis for Florida.” As is a change in imagery, with lifeguard towers replacing Capitol Hill-style graphics.

All of this points to a pivot in focus — perhaps to a statewide run many anticipated back in the 2016 cycle when DeSantis dominated fundraising in the U.S. Senate race until Marco Rubio reconsidered his presidential bid and ran for re-election.

Time is of the essence for DeSantis’ launch, which looks likely to be in November; on the Republican Party side of the ledger, fundraising is already fast and furious. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is still the clubhouse leader, with $19.19M raised thus far between committee cash and money in the campaign account.

DeSantis’ entry could prove most damaging to Putnam, who is attempting to stake out the right flank in the primary.

Corrine Brown wants sentencing delay

There may be a chance that the Brown saga sprawls out into 2018, as her team wants to postpone her November sentencing at least four months.

A brief motion from her legal team contends that Hurricane Irma “caused extensive damage to her home and destroyed many of her personal papers and effects … severely affected her and others in their ability to assist defense counsel in preparing for sentencing.”

No word on whether this hat and jacket survived the floods.

“In addition, she was recently informed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that her home is inhabitable,” the motion reads, adding malapropism to the miscarriage of justice.

The feds don’t support this motion, and a full response is expected later in the week.

Former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown asserted in the past that he would launch a race against Rep. Al Lawson once Corrine Brown was out of the news.

More recently, he told local Democrats at the Duval Democratic Executive Committee that he will be on a ballot soon and to expect an announcement.

Cord Byrd ramps up re-election bid

Next month, Byrd begins ramping up his House District 11 re-election campaign in earnest, with few worries about a primary challenge as the Fernandina Beach Republican looks to defend a deep-red seat.

2018 is in Cord Byrd’s (and other state House members) sights.

Byrd is slated for a Nov. 3 event at Ed Malin‘s Angie’s Subs in Jacksonville Beach, a usual stop for Republican candidates.

Nov. 13 finds Byrd making his Nassau County launch at the Fernandina Beach Diner.

Both events have 5:30 p.m. start times.

Thus far, Byrd’s fundraising this cycle has been in low gear: he raised $400 in September, against $2,549 spent, bringing his total cash on hand to just under $16,000.

Byrd’s fundraising started slower than some candidates in 2016’s Republican Party primary election, yet it didn’t matter in the end. Expect the first-term Republican’s fundraising to fall into place in the coming months.

NE FL House members buck Jay Fant in AG race

Questions about Rep. Fant’s bid for the Republican Party nomination for Attorney General weren’t abated late last week when two of his Florida House colleagues endorsed a primary opponent.

Frank White took two key NE Florida endorsements recently. More to come?

Reps. Byrd and Cyndi Stevenson went with Rep. Frank White, a Pensacola Republican who is targeting NE FL as a hotbed for votes in next year’s primary.

Stevenson called White a “principled conservative who will stand up and fight for our shared values while always upholding the rule of law.”

Byrd called White a “consistent conservative and strong defender of the Second Amendment … an effective advocate for Florida and a man of principle and integrity.”

For his part, White included Byrd and Stevenson in his “statewide network of leaders who agree that we need a proven conservative as the next Attorney General.”

The case for White: Ashley Moody can be hit from the right, Fant can’t even lock down his home base. Expect more endorsements to go White’s way from this region.

Charles Cofer: PD office broke

In the Jacksonville Daily Record, 4th Circuit Public Defender Cofer made a startling claim.

When Cofer took office at the start of the year, its budget was in tatters.

Sheriff Mike Williams backed candidate Charles Cofer in 2016.

“It was projecting out very poorly. We had six months to make adjustments,” Cofer said.

Cofer trimmed staff, including a $70,000 public information officer position, early on.

“That got us caught up on the salary and benefits side. It gave us a little breathing room,” Cofer said.

Lower unemployment in September

Last week saw Gov. Rick Scott‘s Department of Economic Opportunity release September job numbers for Northeast Florida, a mixed bag in the wake of Irma.

NE FL’s hospitality industry is losing jobs year over year.

The good news, via the DEO: the Jacksonville area’s unemployment rate dropped to 3.4 percent in September, down 1.4 points from September 2016.

Unemployment rates ranged from 2.7 percent in St. Johns County to 4.5 percent in rural Putnam County.

The governor’s office prefers year-over-year comparisons, and to that end, some interesting results.

Two industries that have lost jobs over the year augur a potential economic slowdown: leisure and hospitality (-3,800 jobs) and mining, logging and construction (‐500 jobs).

All told, nonagricultural employment in the Jacksonville MSA was 677,000, an increase of 2,900 jobs (+0.4 percent) over the year.

Room for improvement

A new study reported by WJXT reveals room for improvement for Duval County State Attorney’s office at the end of the Angela Corey era.

Using 2016 numbers, the Caruthers Institute noted that 469 Duval youth were arrested for minor offenses and that 72 percent were eligible for civil citations.

Duval’s Sheriff’s Office and School District were given an “F” for their use of civil citations. Clay County got a similar score. Both counties are in the 4th Judicial Circuit.

Melissa Nelson and other local leaders: all smiles before issuing a May MOU.

Melissa Nelson took over the SAO in January, and in May issued a memorandum of understanding with local sheriff’s offices and other authorities to use civil citations wherever practicable.

“This new agreement for pre-arrest diversion will expand and enhance the juvenile civil citation program uniformly throughout the circuit,” read a release from Nelson’s office.

No censure for cop-conflict Councilors

Jacksonville City Council President Anna Brosche mulled censure against political allies Katrina Brown and Reggie Gaffney after they bickered with cops last month — but decided to leave punitive action to “other entities.”

Council protects its own, offering Duval’s equivalent to diplomatic immunity.

Potential censure was floated two weeks ago, in the wake of a highly publicized and highly charged confrontation between Gaffney and Brown and police officers after a Council meeting last month.

Weeks ago, Gaffney walked back an attempt to leverage his power as a Councilman to check the officers who pulled him over for driving around on a tag he reported stolen.

However, Brown — who accused officers of racial profiling when she arrived at the scene — has yet to apologize. And has no plans to.

Ethics commissions — local or state — may be one recourse.

Another possibility: local Fraternal Order of Police head Steve Zona encouraging an ally on Council to file a censure resolution.

Things could get very real very quickly if that happened. But this Council prizes collegiality over most other considerations.

Opioid suit, Hart Bridge study, Section 8 rehab

The Jacksonville City Council passed a few bills of note ahead of next week’s timely “fifth week” break from committee hearings.

— $1.5M for Hart Bridge study: Jacksonville is looking at a way to get federal money to reconfigure the offramps from the Hart, with the current justification being to improve freight traffic headed to Talleyrand. In 2016, the argument was routing people to the Sports Complex; however, that wouldn’t get a federal grant.

Shifting rationales have emerged for the Hart Bridge project.

Chief Administrative Officer Sam Mousa pushed in committees last week for $1.5 million for a “design criteria project.” Tuesday saw the full Council green light it.

This $1.5 million is important, said Mousa, because the city is pursuing a federal infrastructure grant of $25 million, with $12.5 million from Florida in matching money and $12.5 million from the city.

— Opioid lawsuit moves forward: Resolution (2017-674) will allow the city’s general counsel to “investigate and pursue” a lawsuit against opioid manufacturers, and choose outside representation. Each firm’s financial capability to pursue the matter is among criteria considered.

— Big-ticket rehab for Section 8 properties: Jacksonville City Council resolution 2017-671, which would authorize $90,000,000 in Jacksonville Housing Finance Authority bonds for Millennia Housing Management (MHM) to “finance, acquire, rehab & equip four Multifamily Rental Housing Developments,” was approved by Council committees of reference last week. It sailed through Council at large.

Rose Conry to CareerSource Board

This week, Gov. Scott announced five reappointments and three appointments to the CareerSource Florida board of directors.

One of them is a Jacksonville City Council candidate.

Rose Conry will be the Chamber’s Choice in the Jacksonville District 6 race.

Conry, of Jacksonville, is the CEO of Stafftime. She is reappointed for a term ending July 6, 2019.

Conry is running to replace termed-out Matt Schellenberg in City Council District 6.

Council VP Aaron Bowman, who also has a gig with the Jacksonville Chamber’s JaxUSA business development wing, tweeted affirmation, saying he “could not think of a better board member.”

Justice for Keegan movement soldiers on

It looks as if State Attorney Nelson is no closer to filing charges against Michael Centanni IV for shooting and killing Keegan Von Roberts in a neighborhood dispute.

Vigils for Keegan Von Roberts thus far have not changed Melissa Nelson’s mind.

However, First Coast News reports that advocates for Von Roberts’ side are continuing to keep the pressure on, with a vigil/press event over the weekend.

Protesters/mourners want a “police accountability council” — the latest in a series of proposals by Jacksonville activists to provide more oversight from civilians to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.

Charter can’t impose a citizen’s review board; Jacksonville’s sheriff is an elected, not appointed, official.

Von Roberts’ mother vows to continue the fight for justice.

“I told Melissa Nelson, you get to go home to your kids. Mine laid there and died. I had to carry mine on my shoulders and my granddaughter I buried. So it is not a joke to me, it may be a joke to them,” First Coast News said.

Amari Harley death points to Jax infrastructure crisis

On Sunday night, 3-year-old Amari Harley went missing from a birthday party in a Jacksonville park.

The city of Jacksonville is still fact-finding in the death of 3-year-old Amari Harley.

His body was found in that park the next day in an underground septic storage tank usually topped by a “heavy rubber lid screwed down,” as Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry put it Tuesday.

Harley’s death, it will be argued soon enough, might have been avoided if he’d lived near a park where holes in the ground were adequately secured and fenced off.

During remarks to the press Tuesday, Curry spoke of “neglected infrastructure all over the city,” adding that Tuesday was “not the time to point fingers” at past administrations.

“Major infrastructure issues,” such as road resurfacing and public safety vehicle problems, “have been festering for years.”

Jacksonville’s Chief Administrative Officer Sam Mousa noted in a budget hearing last summer that the city could use a $400M capital improvement budget.

“I would ensure our roads and infrastructure are up to the standards that the residents of Jacksonville both expect and deserve,” Curry vowed in 2015 after the Liberty Street Collapse — which called attention to previous administrations neglecting infrastructure.

Clearly, there’s still a way to go.

Duval drone company gets DoD deal

Good news for a Jacksonville drone company.

Per WJCT, Drone Aviation Company got $800,000 from the Department of Defense for its Winch Aerostat Small Platform.

Why?

Drone Aviation builds high-end UAVs for a variety of different applications.

“With its multimission capabilities operating at the edge, the WASP delivers persistence in a mobile, small footprint tactical solution, one that enables our military to see and do more, without the high costs and significant support requirements of larger existing aerostat solutions,” asserted a company rep.

The WASP system also works at night and can be operated by two or more soldiers.

Orange Park goes green

A rollicking column from Folio Weekly takes a look at the Orange Park town commission’s 3-2 vote earlier this month to extend medical cannabis dispensaries to Orange Park.

“The new rules stipulate that dispensaries cannot be within 500 feet of a school, or of each other, and cannot have advertising signs that can be seen from the street. The city’s first dispensary has already gotten around that by having a delivery vehicle, which I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about soon,” per Folio writer Shelton Hull.

Orange Park gives the OK for medical marijuana dispensaries.

Folio notes that, regarding MMJ, policy lags behind the body politic.

“If there’s one thing that election cycle taught us, it’s that the will of the voters really means diddly-squat, in terms of the political endgame, which is why OP (where 67 percent of voters assented to the referendum) remains the only city in the county to actually do it, so far. The response from neighboring burgs, including Green Cove Springs, has been a resounding ‘Meh,’” Folio’s writer observes.

Scott names Victor Raymos to St. Augustine- St. Johns County Airport Authority

This week, Gov. Scott announced the appointment of Victor Raymos to the St. Augustine — St. Johns County Airport Authority.

Raymos, of St. Augustine, is the Association Executive and Chief Executive Officer of the St. Augustine — St. Johns County Board of Realtors and the former Chief Executive Officer of Sellers Choice, LLC. He is a U.S. Army Veteran and previously served as the chairman of the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce.

Raymos is appointed to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of Mark Miner, for a term ending January 2, 2018.

Jax nonprofit gets $4.8M Walmart grant for retail career advancement

Generation, a global youth employment nonprofit, announced a $4.8 million grant from Walmart to launch a new Retail Career Advancement program. The program will support career advancement within retail and adjacent sectors in Jacksonville.

The grant was announced during a symposium this week at the downtown Hyatt Regency Riverfront to connect retail employers and local agencies including CareerSource Northeast Florida, the Jessie Ball DuPont Fund, the Chamber of Commerce and Firehouse Subs, on how to retain and support high-performing retail employees.

In 2016, Jacksonville’s retail sector had nearly 1,700 job openings for supervisors.

Generation celebrates its $4.8 million grant from Walmart to launch a new Retail Career Advancement program.

With a goal to reach 1,200 Jacksonville workers, Retail Career Advancement is a six-week, free-of-charge program for training on decision-making and ethics on the job, sales tactics, theft prevention and handling escalated customer concerns. Students will prepare to earn a nationally-recognized certificate from the National Retail Federation.

In addition, trainees can get individual mentors for personal and professional support, from mock interviews to coordinating child care services to transportation issues. Since 2015, nearly 200 students have graduated from Generation’s two existing Jacksonville programs — Technology and Hospitality. This new program will expand to the retail sector.

To date, 14,000 individuals have graduated from the Generation program, which prepares individuals for careers in 50 cities and 120-plus locations across five countries, in the technology, health care, retail/sales, and skilled trades industries.

Interested students and employers can email jacksonville@generation.org for more information.  Admissions and enrollment are now open.

JAXPORT cargo moving sets record

Jacksonville Port Authority set a record for the number of automobiles and cargo containers moved in the fiscal year ending Sept. 30.

The Florida Times-Union reports that the Port Authority’s terminals passed the 1 million benchmark for cargo containers, a 7 percent increase. As for automobile shipments, JAXPORT saw a 9 percent gain, with 693,241 vehicles.

JAXPORT sets records for auto, container shipping.

“We’re challenged with space, and we’re trying to work through that,” JAXPORT CEO Eric Green told the port’s board at a meeting Monday.

Part of the growth came from Crowley Maritime, which shifted its Jacksonville-based shipping from privately owned land over to the JAXPORT Talleyrand Terminal near downtown. Crowley is among the top shippers to Puerto Rico and the Caribbean.

The T-U noted that Asian-based cargo grew to almost 400,000 container units, a jump of 19 percent.

“It continues to be our strongest trade lane,” said Chief Financial Officer Michael Poole.

Aviation Authority launches JAX Hall of Fame

Jacksonville Aviation Authority (JAA) begins celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Jacksonville International Airport (JAX) which happens in 2018. The kickoff event at Jacksonville International Airport included a special unveiling of the first Hall of Fame honorees at the Aviation Gallery.

Bessie Coleman, Ruth Law, Laurie Yonge, Charles Lindbergh, and Thomas Cole Imeson are the inaugural Hall of Fame inductees of the Gallery’s permanent exhibit.

“I believe Jacksonville International Airport to be an excellent venue to honor Jacksonville aviators,” said JAA CEO Steve Grossman. “With the amount of traffic, we have through our terminals, millions of people will be able to witness the important contributions these individuals made to aviation history.”

A display of the first Hall of Fame honorees at the Aviation Gallery. Photo by Adam Madrid

Bessie Coleman, 1892 — 1926, was the first black woman to earn a pilot’s license. Because flying schools in the United States denied her entry, she taught herself French and moved to France, earning her license in just seven months from France’s well-known Caudron Brother’s School of Aviation. Coleman specialized in stunt flying and parachuting, earning a living barnstorming and performing aerial tricks. She remains a pioneer of women in the field of aviation. She tragically died in Jacksonville April 30, 1926, when she was thrown from her aircraft while preparing for a flight demonstration.

Ruth Law, 1887-1970, who lived and trained in Jacksonville, enjoyed one of the longest and most colorful careers of early female aviators. She bought her first aircraft from Orville Wright in 1912 in which she became the first woman to fly at night. In 1916, Law broke the American cross-country and nonstop record on a flight from Chicago to New York, and had the honor of carrying the first official airmail to the Philippine Islands in 1919. In 1917, she was the first woman authorized to wear a military uniform, but was denied permission to fly in combat. After the war, she formed “Ruth Law’s Flying Circus,” a three-plane troupe that amazed spectators at state and county fairs by racing against cars, flying through fireworks, and setting altitude and distance records.

Original JAX cornerstone from 1968. Photo by Adam Madrid

In 1923, a local pilot named Laurie Yonge (1896-1985) offered airplane rides from the beaches. Rates were $5 for short hops, $10 for long rides, and $25 for aerobatics. His transport pilot license was the first issued in Florida, and his National Aeronautics Association card was signed by Orville Wright. In 1929, Yonge set the world’s lightplane endurance record in a 90 hp. Curtiss Robin. He flew continuously for 25 hours and 10 minutes, a record that stood until 1939. For many years, Yonge was Jacksonville’s official Santa Claus, arriving by amphibious aircraft for the downtown Christmas parade. No other aviator has brought such fame and success to Jacksonville both as a visionary pioneer and instructor pilot.

Jacksonville Municipal Airport No. 1 opened Oct. 11, 1927. Charles Lindbergh, who flew to Jacksonville in the “Spirit of St. Louis,” attended the dedication ceremony to promote the new airport, Jacksonville’s aviation industry and assure city leaders that passenger air service would span the nation. In the 1950s, the facility was renamed after Thomas Cole Imeson, 1880-1948, city councilman and later longtime commissioner in charge of airports and highways. Imeson’s work led to the creation of Jacksonville Municipal Airport, as well as improvements to its runways, hangars and terminal buildings. This facility was the city’s main airport for 42 years.

The Aviation Gallery and Aviation Hall of Fame are in the Jacksonville International Airport terminal lobby.

In Armada-Cosmos draw, Jack Blake excites

Jacksonville Armada FC midfielder Jack Blake continues to show why he’s one of the most exciting young players in the North American Soccer League (NASL).

The Englishman played a direct role in three goals during Jacksonville’s 4-4 draw Sunday against the New York Cosmos. The performance was good enough to earn Blake this week’s NASL Player of the Week honors.

The result also kept Jacksonville within touching distance of New York for the fourth and final NASL playoff spot.

Armada’s captain of the night, Jack Blake, was voted by fans as the Man of the Match.

The 23-year-old Blake has made a name for himself as a dead ball specialist this year. In a span of four minutes midway through the first half Sunday against New York, he whipped in a pair of free kicks that led directly to Armada goals.

In the 22nd minute, Kalen Ryden met Blake’s free-kick and headed it off the post, giving way to Drew Beckie to clean up the rebound.

Just four minutes later, another Blake free-kick found its way to Ryden, who was able to convert the second time around.

After relinquishing a 3-1 lead, Jacksonville trailed, 4-3, late in the game, but Blake came to the rescue again. In the 79th minute, the Nottingham native played a through ball to Charles Eloundou, who buried the equalizing goal. When it was all said and done, Blake left the field with a pair of assists in the 4-4 draw.

The performance capped off an already strong week for Blake, who fired home Jacksonville’s lone goal against FC Edmonton in a 1-1 draw Wednesday night.

The midfielder has been quite the find for Armada coach Mark Lowry. Blake was quiet in his first NASL season with Minnesota in 2016, but he has since blossomed into one of the league’s top midfielders. Going into the final weekend of the Fall Season, Blake has nine goals and four assists on his ledger in league play.

Sunday’s result kept Jacksonville’s postseason hopes alive, but Blake and his teammates surely left the field disappointed after watching their 3-1 halftime lead evaporate. Now, Armada needs a win over the second-place San Francisco Deltas Saturday, coupled with a New York Cosmos loss against Puerto Rico FC in a match that will be contested the same night.

Jacksonville and San Francisco kick off at 8 p.m. ET Saturday at historic Kezar Stadium in Golden Gate Park.

 

As Ron DeSantis mulls gubernatorial run, Adam Putnam plans trip to NE Florida

Reliable sources tell Florida Politics that U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis is on the verge of entering the race for Florida Governor.

However, the longer he waits, the longer declared candidates have the field to themselves — potentially foreclosing DeSantis from key pockets of support, even in his Northeast Florida region.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam — who had over $19 million banked at the end of September — is planning yet another Northeast Florida campaign visit on Halloween morning.

Putnam will court Clay County Republicans at the iconic Whitey’s Fish Camp — and though Clay Republicans likely won’t hear anything different at Tuesday’s “Up and Adam” breakfast than Nassau County Republicans heard at a similar event some weeks back, these visits serve a utilitarian function that DeSantis will have to find a way to blunt.

Putnam has made numerous visits to Northeast Florida in recent months; his most recent was to a Jacksonville elementary school, though that visit was in his official capacity as Ag. Commissioner.

New poll finds Democrats’ 6-point advantage in generic governor’s race

Without naming a specific candidate, a new poll finds Democrats have a six-point advantage in the 2018 Florida governor’s race.

Conducted by SEA Polling & Strategic Design, a Tampa-based firm known for Democratic polling, the poll was taken Aug. 13-17 with live callers, 30 percent cellphones, and bilingual interviewers.

“With big names lining up to run for governor on both sides, we decided to take a more legislative approach to see how the race for governor is setting up by asking which party candidate for governor was the respondent more likely to support,” SEA pollster Thomas Eldon stated in a memo announcing some of the results.

“Despite a conservative midterm model giving Republicans a plus-two turnout advantage (41 percent Republican/39 percent Democrat/20 percent no party affiliation), the results favored the Democrat by six with peak intensity separation also at six.”

The poll found the Democratic strength lays with women and Hispanics, in Central Florida and South Florida; Republicans continue to hold solid advantages among white voters and in the Florida Panhandle.

Democrats also held a five-point advantage over Republicans among independents. However, independent voters were much less likely than partisans to make a pick. Almost 45 percent did not choose a party candidate, Eldon noted.

Women voters gave the generic Democratic gubernatorial candidate a 15-point advantage over the Republican, and among working women, the lead rose to 19 points. Hispanic voters gave a Democratic choice a 16-point advantage.

“With Democrats holding a significant margin among Hispanics, Hispanic turnout in 2018 is pivotal to secure a clear path to victory,” Eldon wrote.

The poll was released through Christian Ulvert‘s Edge Communications, which is working with  Philip Levine, the Miami Beach Mayor who is posturing as a Democratic candidate for governor, though he has neither announced nor filed for candidacy. Without disclosing whom, Ulvert said the poll was commissioned by an individual, but said it was not Levine nor anyone associated with his campaign.

Leading candidates for governor include Democrats Gwen Graham, Chris King, and Andrew Gillum, and Republicans Adam Putnam and Jack Latvala. Democrat John Morgan and Republicans Richard Corcoran and Ron DeSantis also are positioning for possible runs.

Sources: Ron DeSantis nears entering Governor’s race

The race for the 2018 Republican gubernatorial nomination could soon pick up even more star power, this time with Congressman Ron DeSantis.

Though there was some discussion the Palm Coast Republican may enter the race for attorney general, our sources debunk that theory, saying DeSantis spent the summer meeting with conservative donors discussing the governor’s race.

There has also been a shift in online presence. DeSantis2016.com is now being redirected to RonDeSantis.com.

Likewise, the tagline on the new website speaks to a new emphasis: “Ron DeSantis for Florida.” As does a change in imagery, with lifeguard towers replacing Capitol Hill-style graphics.

And a noticeable uptick in online activity on Twitter: @RonDeSantisFl.

All of this points to a pivot in focus — perhaps to a statewide run many anticipated back in the 2016 cycle, when DeSantis dominated fundraising in the U.S. Senate race until Marco Rubio reconsidered his presidential bid and ran for re-election.

Time is of the essence for DeSantis’ launch, which looks likely to be in November; on the GOP side of the ledger, fundraising is already fast and furious.

Per the Tampa Bay Times, state Sen. Jack Latvala raised over $800,000 in his first month in the race — with Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam still the clubhouse leader at $19.19 million raised thus far between committee cash and campaign money.

Meanwhile,  House Speaker Richard Corcoran raised $4.4 million — with $3.9 million on hand (and he’s not officially announcing anything in this race until after the Legislative Session).

DeSantis does have what seems to be a unique value-add, says POLITICO’s Marc Caputo — shoutouts from President Donald Trump and his namesake son.

At a Heritage Foundation confab, the elder Trump called DeSantis “incredible” (per Caputo), while Donald Trump Jr. is tweeting out news stories citing DeSantis’ pressure on the “Uranium One” deal — a hot-button issue for activists on the right.

Though a lot of money is on the GOP side of the race, in a field crowded with smart politicians, the Trump factor could prove dispositive.

DeSantis’ entry could prove most damaging to Putnam, who is attempting to stake out the right flank in the primary. With a few months’ head start, the DeSantis factor could occlude Corcoran’s prospects as well.

Nancy Soderberg touts raising $336K in Q3 for CD 6 bid

Democrat Nancy Soderberg announced Thursday that her campaign in Florida’s 6th Congressional District brought in $336,000 in the first quarter since she entered the race.

“I’m honored by the outpouring of support our campaign has received. That energy is a vivid testament to how ready people are for a change from Washington’s broken politics and toward real results from their representative in Congress,” Soderberg said.

“We’re going to continue to build on the enthusiasm and energy of donors, volunteers, and voters in Florida’s Sixth. That’s how we win on Election Day.”

Soderberg was an ambassador to the United Nations during the Clinton Administration, and is the founder and director of the University of North Florida‘s Public Service Leadership Program. She filed to run in CD 6 in July.

The seat covers St. Johns, Flagler, and Volusia counties and is a solidly Republican district, producing a double-digit win for President Donald Trump in July.

Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis currently holds the seat, and likely will after the 2018 elections if he opts to stay in Congress rather than run for governor. If not, Soderberg could have a small window.

Either way, Soderberg is running her campaign as if DeSantis will be up against her on the ballot next year.

“We are giving voters a real choice in this election: business as usual, or a new voice. I’ll fight to ensure Congressional Republicans won’t throw a million Floridians off health care, raise premiums on those over 50 or eliminate protections for pre-existing conditions,” she said.

Soderberg’s complete campaign finance report has not been posted to the Federal Elections Commission, and her campaign did not mention how much of the money raised from July through September she had on hand.

DeSantis’ campaign hasn’t show any third quarter numbers yet, but through the end of June it had about $1.6 million on hand.

John Ward announces run for Ron DeSantis’ seat

A Republican Florida businessman isn’t waiting for Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis to make up his mind about his political future before running for his seat.

John Ward announced Thursday he’s running for DeSantis’ seat as the incumbent decides whether to run for governor or seek a fourth term.

Ward, a business investor and Navy veteran, is running as a pro-President Donald Trump candidate and an outsider who’s frustrated with business as usual in Washington.

He’s a multi-millionaire who plans to combine traditional fundraising with his own wealth to pay for the campaign, pledging to have at least $1 million in his account by January.

Democrat Nancy Soderberg, who once served as ambassador to the United Nations, is also running for the seat in the northeast Florida district that favors Republicans.

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons