Ron DeSantis Archives - Florida Politics

Charlie Crist leads Florida congressional pack in first quarter fundraising

First quarter fundraising numbers are in for U.S. Representatives and first-term Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist leads the Florida Delegation with $720,000 raised between Jan. 1 and March 31.

Crist brought in $578,000 of that money through individual contributions, while $137,000 came in through committees. He also kicked in $5,400 of his own money for his CD 13 re-election campaign. He started the second quarter with $672,000 in the bank.

Crist’s performance was far and away better than any of the other incumbent Democrats, though fellow first-termer Stephanie Murphy posted a strong $286,000 report in the Orlando-based 7th Congressional District.

She spent just $41,000, leaving her with $256,000 in her war chest at the end of the quarter.

Former Democratic Party chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz also broke the $250,000 mark for the quarter with $287,000 in total receipts which left her with $236,000 on hand on March 31.

The only other Democrat to break the six figure mark was Lois Frankel, who raised about $206,000 in her re-election campaign for CD 21. The South Florida Democrat spent about $65,000 leaving her with $926,500 in her campaign account on April 1.

The other Democrats didn’t fare as well. Freshman Rep. Al Lawson brought in $72,000 in CD 5, and Darren Soto raised $41,000 in CD 9. Rep. Ted Deutch raised $51,000, Fredrica Wilson brought in $33,000, Alcee Hastings added just under $29,000, Tampa Democrat Kathy Castor raised just $23,500, and Val Demings has yet to file a report for the quarter.

Republicans had more incumbents breach the six-figure mark, though none were close to Crist’s monster Q1.

The top GOP fundraiser this quarter was Brian Mast, who took over the CD 18 seat from former Rep. Patrick Murphy after he decided to run against Marco Rubio for Senate. Mast was able to raise just under $430,000 and spent about $114,000, leaving him with $410,000 in the bank.

Rep. Vern Buchanan came in second among Florida Republicans with $395,000 raised. His $1.8 million in cash on hand is the highest among Republican incumbents.

Not far behind in total assets is Ron DeSantis, who despite only raising $14,500 for the quarter has nearly $1.7 million in the bank.

The bulk of the rest of the GOP incumbents hovered around the $100,000 zone in fundraising.

Gus Bilirakis raised just shy of $150,000 and has $160,000 on hand; first-term Rep. Matt Gaetz brought in $122,000 and has $129,000 on hand; Neal Dunn brought in $114,000 and has $67,000 on hand; Daniel Webster raised $105,000 and finished the quarter with $76,000 in the bank; and Dennis Ross raised $146,000 and has $126,000 in the bank.

The other incumbents are lagging behind the pack.

Rep. Tom Rooney took in $73,000 and spent $60,000 to finish the quarter with $85,000 on hand, while John Rutherford raised $45,700 and spent $16,000 for an on hand total of $32,000.

Finally, Gainesville Republican Rep. Ted Yoho raised a lowly $15,000 for the quarter and has about $100,000 in the bank.

Only 7 members of Florida’s congressional delegation hosting town halls during Easter break

(Updated) Gainesville Republican U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho held a raucous town hall meeting Monday night, as he was jeered by members of the audience before he finished his opening statement.

“I really, really expected them to be a little more civil,” Yoho to the Gainesville Sun after the event.“This was the rowdiest crowd.”

Similar statements have been made by congressional Republicans around the country in 2017, as angry Democrats have crowded town halls in some of the most conservative parts of the country, expressing their unhappiness about GOP plans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, issues with the Trump administration, or other events since the election.

Yoho is scheduled to go back out on the road Tuesday night, where he’ll host another town hall meeting in Palatka.

However, most members of Florida’s congressional delegation don’t have any town halls scheduled over their two week break which began on Monday. According to the website townhallproject.com, only seven of Florida’s 27 Representatives have such events planned in April.

However, that doesn’t mean their staying idle during their Easter recess.

“The Congressman is in the district throughout the break,” said Gus Bilirakis spokesperson Elena Hernandez. “He’s spending a majority of the next couple of weeks meeting with constituents, holding open office hours, visiting local businesses, hosting a student government roundtable. Also he’s meeting with Pasco County officials, local doctors, touring a substance abuse center, and hosting a Veterans Resource Fair next week.”

Polk County Republican Dennis Ross was scheduled to return on Tuesday from an official congressional delegation trip to Kuwait and Iraq, where he met with members of the Florida National Guard stationed in Kuwait, as well as with the U.S. Ambassadors to Kuwait and Iraq and other government officials.

Ross spokesperson Joni Schockley adds that Ross has “multiple meetings scheduled throughout the district during the next two weeks.

Tampa Representative Kathy Castor  appeared at the USF College of Medicine on Monday, where she met with scientists to denounce President Trump’s proposed 18 percent cut to the National Institutes of Health. She also held a town hall at the University Area Community Center last Friday, according to her district director, Marcia Mejia.

Charlie Crist will be holding a veterans roundtable, walking in the march for science, and speaking at the rededication of the Jordan Park complex in St. Petersburg, according to spokesperson Erin Moffet.

 Florida District 11 Republican Dan Webster is one of the seven Florida congressional members who is holding a town hall this week.  He held two on Monday.

The other members holding town halls this week include Ron DeSantis, Matt Gaetz, Darren Soto, Brian Mast, Al Lawson and Yoho.

Representatives for Vern Buchanan did not respond to our requests for comment.

Stephanie Murphy, Vern Buchanan, Ron DeSantis cosponsor no-budget, no-pay bill

The latest version of a bill that would eliminate paychecks for Congress if it fails to pass a budget has drawn early support from two Republicans and one Democrat in Florida’s U.S. House of Representatives delegation.

Democrat U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park, and Republican U.S. Reps. Vern Buchanan of Longboat Key and Ron DeSantis are among the first co-sponsors of House Resolution 1779, introduced Wednesday.

The bill, similar to others introduced almost every year and actually passed on a limited, one-year basis in 2013, provides that members of Congress “may not receive pay after October 1 of any fiscal year in which Congress has not approved a concurrent resolution on the budget and passed the regular appropriations bills.”

Murphy included the pledge as part of her campaign last year, though her opponent Republican then-U.S. Rep. John Mica also supported it, and voted for the 2013 legislation. Buchanan and DeSantis have supported it in the past as well.

Also kindred, though on a similar resolution, is U.S. Rep. Bill Posey of Rockledge, who signed on in January as a co-sponsor to House Resolution 429. That bill would affect this year only, and would put congressional salaries in escrow if Congress doesn’t pass a budget by April 15. Congress is unlikely to reach that deadline, in a little over two weeks now, and HR 429 has stalled since it was referred to the House Committee on House Administration in January.

The bill Murphy, Buchanan and DeSantis cosponsored actually shoots for next year, with a Feb. 1, 2018, enactment, aiming at the 2018 budget due on April 15, 2018.

“Most Americans have to do their jobs on time or they don’t get paid. Congress should be held to the same commonsense standard,” Murphy stated in a news release.

American Action Network radio spots target GOP resistance to AHCA

The American Action Network kicked off Tuesday with pro-AHCA radio spots in 28 Congressional districts nationwide, and three of them are in Florida.

Those three: CD-3, the home of Rep. Ted Yoho; CD-6, the home of Rep. Ron DeSantis; and CD-8, the home of Rep. Bill Posey.

All three have expressed concerns about the American Health Care Act. Posey and DeSantis are members of the House Freedom Caucus, which has been a hard sell on the bill.

The ads point out issues with the Affordable Care Act, closing with emphatic words from President Donald Trump.

“I want everyone to know that I’m 100 percent behind this. This is going to be great for people,” Trump said after a meeting with House conservatives.

As well, these spots drop just three days after VP Mike Pence and Gov. Rick Scott held a pro-AHCA event in Jacksonville, one well-attended by politicians in the Jacksonville media market.

Yoho and DeSantis’ districts overlap with that media market.

AAN spokeswoman Courtney Alexander described the AHCA as “a conservative plan to repeal and replace Obamacare and give Americans access to quality, affordable health care.”

“Lawmakers will soon face two options, either support patient-centered, affordable health care or keep the Obamacare status quo that has hurt millions of Americans. The latter is unacceptable and unsustainable, that’s why we are urging constituents to contact their member of Congress one last time to ensure they’re on the side of more choices, better coverage and lower costs,” Alexander said.

The House is expected to vote on the bill this week.

American Action Network launches robocalls campaign to support American Health Care Act

Voters in three Florida congressional districts could be getting calls them to contact their representative about the American Health Care Act.

The American Action Network announced this week it was launching a robocall campaign in 30 congressional districts, including districts represented by Reps. Ted Yoho, Ron DeSantis, and Bill Posey.

The campaign comes on the heels of a TV ad buy launched last week, and is meant to encourage voters to call lawmakers to tell them to support repealing the Affordable Care Act, often called Obamacare, and replace it with the American Health Care Act, which is backed by President Donald Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan.

“Obamacare has been a nightmare for millions of Americans. We are calling activists across the country to urge them to call their member of Congress to ensure they do the right thing and stand with President Trump and Speaker Ryan in repealing this failed law,” said Corry Bliss, the group’s executive director. “The American Health Care Act will lower costs, increase competition, and reduce the deficit, while protecting those with pre-existing conditions. These conservative reforms will make health care truly affordable and patient-centered – that’s what all Americans deserve.”

The effort is part of an issue advocacy campaign worth about $10 million, according to the organization.

Jay Fant for Attorney General? Intrigue in Jacksonville

Republican State Rep. Jay Fant has the safest of safe seats on Jacksonville’s deep-red Westside.

However, in the even deeper-red Florida House, he found himself on the losing side of this week’s debate about Enterprise Florida.

Fant spoke passionately and futilely about the need to maintain incentive programs, a position not shared by most of the legislative body.

However, there is a narrative suggesting the Florida House is not Fant’s end game.

Rep. Fant, who has not filed for re-election, is reportedly mulling a run for Florida Attorney General in 2018, multiple credible sources asserted Friday.

____

Last week, a strong source tells us that Fant held a finance meeting at the home of Jacksonville power broker John Rood, where he urged people to donate to his political committee, Pledge This Day.

If Fant intends to run statewide, that meeting had better have been beneficial: at the end of February, Fant had $38,000 on hand.

While one can buy a solid new car with that, one would not be able to run a campaign against a more deep-pocketed candidate, such as fundraising machine Ron DeSantis or a number of other people who may want to be AG.

Locals, meanwhile, are bearish on Fant’s chances, questioning his ability to raise money and citing his limited statewide profile in their assessments.

The end result of a Fant run for Attorney General, they suggest, would be more interesting in terms of the shakeup in House District 15 than in terms of Fant running a competitive campaign for AG.

____

The prospect of a statewide run gives an interesting context to Fant’s decision in October, running unopposed, to spend $70,000 on a television ad in the Jacksonville market to expand his name identification.

Fant needs some help there: in a Spring 2016 poll of prospective candidates for what was an open seat in Florida’s 4th Congressional District, Fant came in at 6 percent, with a favorable rating of +3 among likely GOP primary voters.

We’ve reached out to Fant regarding the rumored run for Attorney General, and will update when we get his take.

Ron DeSantis, Ted Yoho among targets for pro-AHCA ad buy

The American Action Network is putting the pressure on three Florida lawmakers to vote in favor of the American Health Care Act.

The AHCA — a proposed replacement for the Affordable Care Act — is facing questions from the left and the right both, related to issues ranging from cost-effectiveness to coverage levels for indigent populations.

Florida Reps. Ted Yoho and Ron DeSantis, whose districts are on the fringes of the Jacksonville media market, are two of the three targets.

The third target: Rep. Bill Posey of Melbourne.

The common thread seems to be conservative legislators in smaller, less expensive media markets.

POLITICO notes that the Florida spots are part of a $500,000 ad buy targeting thirty districts nationwide.

The ad contrasts the “job-destroying mandates,” “soaring premiums” and bureaucratic “control” of Obamacare with the AHCA, which “puts patients and doctors in charge” and offers “more choices and lower costs.”

The spot brands heavily around Donald Trump, who was wildly popular in rural areas of the state last November; it urges representatives to “vote with” him on this bill.

See the DeSantis version below:

Report: Ron DeSantis tours Jerusalem embassy sites

U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis was far away from his Northeast Florida district this weekend; the Jerusalem Post reports that the Republican Congressman was in town, confidently scouting potential sites for a United States embassy.

DeSantis, chairman of the House Subcommittee on National Security, told Israeli media that he wanted to “come out and get some knowledge about where this thing will actually be.”

DeSantis also predicted that President Donald Trump “will announce that the embassy will be moving,” a move he said would project strength, and one that Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu backed, even as King Abdullah II of Jordan and a Fatah leader predicted negative consequences.

The congressman scouted four sites, and the Post asserts that one site, which currently houses the American Citizens Service Union, would be the most ideal of the options.

Hospitals hopeful on Medicaid following meeting with D.C. delegation

Florida’s congressional delegation is onboard with efforts by hospitals that provide charity care to persuade the Trump administration to treat the state more fairly under the Medicaid program, representatives said following meetings in Washington.

Members of the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida met this week with senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson, and with House members Carlos Curbelo, Stephanie Murphy, and Ted Yoho, and with aides to other members of the delegation.

“We had a very warm reception at Sen. Rubio’s office. He was very well aware that Florida gets short-changed in our funding for the uninsured, and was energized,” Lindy Kennedy, executive vice president of the alliance, said during a conference call Thursday.

Rubio warned that Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price was still organizing his management team, but promised the delegation “would do everything in their power” to press the hospitals’ case.

“Sen. Nelson was very gracious, spent a lot of time with us,” Kennedy said.

“He acknowledged the challenging, rock-and-a-hard place position that Florida’s hospitals now find themselves in, having aggressively worked with the federal government as well as our state Legislature to request passage of Medicaid expansion,” she said.

“He seemed to understand that we need to move forward with sort of the hand we’ve been dealt, was the way that he put it.”

Curbelo wants to write a letter from the delegation to Price. That’s not a sure thing, but “there is some interest in trying to pull that together,” Kennedy said.

But the state’s elected representatives understand the problem and want to help.

“That was a consistent theme with Congressman Yoho and Stephanie Murphy,” she said.

The representatives met with staff for Ron DeSantis, Mario Diaz-Balart, Francis Rooney, Tom Rooney, Dennis Ross, and Daniel Webster. Individual hospital representatives may have met with additional members of Congress.

“I understand they were very well received,” Kennedy said.

“We are working to follow up with Secretary Price’s new administration, and spending time with them, hopefully educating them about the disparity between Florida and some of the other nonexpansion states,” Kennedy said.

“We feel we’re uniquely positioned to maybe even lead the nation in setting policy” on supplemental funding for the uninsured, she said.

The alliance has complained that the Obama administration trimmed Florida’s reimbursement levels under the Low Income Pool program for uninsured patients from $2.2 billion to $608 million during the past three years.

It wants at least $1.6 billion during the new budget year, and more freedom in how they spend the money.

“I think that the unfairness shown to Florida in the past presents the Trump administration with an opportune platform to quickly demonstrate its new commitment to state flexibility in deployment of funding for health care to the uninsured and Medicaid patients,” Jonathan Ellen, CEO of Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and chairman of the alliance board, said in a written statement.

The LIP program was launched 11 years ago under a waiver from the federal Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services, allowing Florida to put Medicaid recipients into managed care. Following two extensions, the state’s authority for that program ends on June 30.

The feds have been shortchanging Florida on the program for years, alliance president Tony Carvalho said — the state gets $401 per uninsured patient, compared to $1,612 for California, $1,934 for Texas, and $4,007 for New York.

“The federal government has treated Florida very unfairly,” Carvalho said.

“Florida’s Low Income Pool was reduced over the last several years as a strategy to pressure Florida to expand Medicaid coverage under ACA,” he said.

“We certainly support ACA expansion. But we believe the strategy really hurt the safety net hospitals and hurt the safety net in general — the people who are uninsured in this state.”

Gov. Rick Scott’s health aides are negotiating with the Trump administration but, with the Legislature settling into its session next week, and the state budget deadline looming, “time is running short,” Carvalho said.

“Whatever they do settle on, the Legislature would have to appropriate the money,” he said.

With the state House, particularly, looking for budget cuts this year, “we are concerned that the Legislature may be looking at rate cuts in the Medicaid program,” he said.

“Every dollar that they cut in hospital rates, if that should happen, the state saves 38 cents and we give back to the federal government 62 cents. If we’re starting from a basis in which we believe Florida is already in a very inequitable position in terms of its share of federal dollars, those types of cuts just are penny wise and pound foolish.”

Particularly if Washington Republicans enact major reforms, such as turning Medicaid into a block grant program, he said.

“The clock is ticking,” Kennedy said.

“We do need the Legislature and our federal delegation to work together with CMS to address this issue before sine die of our regular session, so the waiver can be renewed June 30 with increased flexibility and an increased amount,” she said.

“Everyone we met with (in Washington) and explained the different time-table, they acknowledged their understanding. They were very receptive, and I’m optimistic we will be able to move quickly with their help.”

Ron DeSantis sees political risk unless Republicans repeal and replace ACA

Congressman Ron DeSantis warned Wednesday that his fellow Republicans would take a political risk in failing to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and settle for tweaks to the health insurance expansion.

“The system’s architecture is flawed,” the Republican from Marineland, in Northeast Florida, said during an interview on MSNBC.

“It will not lead to lowering costs. Remember, that was the key promise that was made — that you’d see a $2,500 reduction in premiums for the average family. If you’re just nibbling around the edges — my concern is, I don’t agree with Obamacare, but I just don’t think that’s going to lead to putting a downward pressure on costs,” DeSantis said.

“It’s also the case that Republicans for six years have said, first the law wasn’t going to work, and then the law’s not working, and then that we were going to repeal it and replace it with our own patient-centered reform.

“To the extent you’re doing something that’s not really living up to what you promised, I think that runs into problems with the voters. Because Republicans would not have taken the House in 2010 and they would not have taken the U.S. Senate in 2014 if they had just run on minor tweaks to Obamacare.”

DeSantis praised President Donald Trump’s approach during his address to a joint session of Congress Tuesday evening.

“I actually thought the president hit it exactly right. He was specific enough to offer guiding principles and contours to what a replacement would look like, but he didn’t get lost in the minutia, which I think would have put people to sleep,” he said.

“Particularly on the health care angle, I think what he did was thread the needle, where Republicans are probably going to be able to unify around those principles,” DeSantis continued.

“Particularly the fact that he linked the tax credits to health savings accounts. A lot of conservatives believe that the monies going to a health savings account, the individual can then play their premiums tax-free, and then, obviously, use the health savings account for other medical needs. That is one of the ways you put downward pressure on the cost of both insurance and medical care.”

DeSantis endorsed a work requirement for some Medicaid recipients.

“If you’re an able-bodied, childless adult, there at minimum has to be a work requirement in order to receive that benefit,” he said.

“I think Medicaid should be used to do its intended purpose, which is people who are disabled, who are poor. With the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare, you are putting childless, able-bodies adults on Medicaid,” he said.

“The problem with that is, fewer and fewer physicians are willing to accept Medicaid now. So you’re expanding the number of people who are trying to access care on this program. I think that ends up undermining the ability of the truly poor and indigent who we need to be helping, for them to access care. I think giving governor’s the flexibility to do this makes a lot of sense.”

He liked Trump’s suggestion that an infrastructure program contain private investment.

“If it’s an Obama-style trillion-dollar bill, I think, obviously, Republicans are going to have a lot of problems with that,” he said.

“I think there’s a lot of details that are obviously going to be important, but I’m one that definitely would like to incentivize private infrastructure development. And that’s not just roads and bridges. That’s dealing with our electric grid, that’s dealing with pipelines and things like that.

“The details are obviously going to be important. The higher the price tag is, the more difficult it will be to get it through the Congress.

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons