Ron DeSantis – Page 5 – Florida Politics
Fred Costello

Pam Bondi endorses Fred Costello for CD 6

Attorney General Pam Bondi issued a lengthy endorsement Monday for former state Rep. Fred Costello’s bid to replace U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis in Florida’s 6th Congressional District.

“It is my pleasure to endorse Representative Fred Costello in the Republican primary for U.S. Congress. Representative Costello served as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and has been a long time supporter of veterans and law enforcement both locally as Mayor of Ormond Beach and while serving in Tallahassee as a State Representative,” Bondi said in a news release.

“Dr. Costello led the effort in the Florida House to pass legislation to adopt the Prescription Drug Management Program to give my office one of the tools we needed to put the pill mills out of business and fight opioid abuse. His effort helped us save lives.

“Fred is an outstanding example of a servant leader who answered the call to serve his community as a citizen legislator. He lives what he believes and has earned the respect of all who know him.

“We need more principled conservatives like Fred who support President [Donald] Trump and the #MAGA agenda to represent us in Washington. Because I know his heart, his values and his record of standing up for what he believes, I know Fred will well serve his district and all Americans with honor and distinction.”

Costello, who is a dentist and veteran of the Vietnam War, said he was “deeply honored” to receive Bondi’s endorsement.

“She is a fierce guardian of the public interest and deeply understands the critical public safety issues that impact the lives of our fellow Floridians. I join Attorney General Bondi in supporting President Trump’s mission to make America safe, secure, prosperous and great again,” he said.

Costello is one of three Republicans vying for the seat, which opened up due to DeSantis’ decision to run for Governor. He faces Fox News contributor Mike Waltz and businessman John Ward in the Republican primary, the latter of whom has gone to great lengths to paint himself as the most Trumpian candidate in the race.

Ward led the Republican field with $709,000 banked at the end of the first quarter of 2018, including $550,000 in candidate contributions, while Waltz was about $50K behind counting the $400,000 he’d pumped into his campaign. Costello was in a distant third with $15,720 banked at the end of the reporting period.

CD 6 is rated as a “likely Republican” district in University of Virginia political scientist Larry J. Sabato’s “Crystal Ball,” though Democrats Steven Sevigny, a Daytona Beach physician, and Nancy Soderberg, a former Ambassador to the United Nations, have raised well into the six figures.

CD 6 covers a stretch of Florida’s east coast, from southern Jacksonville to New Smyrna Beach.

Joe Henderson: Trump giving supporters exactly what they voted for

In his campaign for the presidency, Donald Trump basically told the American people what he was going to do about immigration.

He was going to be tough. He was going to be ruthless.

Mercy was only for the weak.

He would show the world his version of America. It was a two-handed shove to the chest.

So, if you voted for him, don’t pretend you’re surprised border agents are tearing families apart and you didn’t think it would go that far.

This is the nation Gov. Rick Scott had a hand in creating during the campaign when he backed Trump at every turn.

It’s what Republican gubernatorial candidates Ron DeSantis and Adam Putnam endorse every time they use Trump’s name.

This is the America religious leaders like Franklin Graham supported throughout the campaign and in the first year and a half of Trump’s presidency, even as evidence piled up daily that he was a bully-in-chief.

Now that children are being separated from their parents at the border with no timetable for seeing them again, Graham told the Christian Broadcasting Network, “It’s disgraceful, and it’s terrible to see families ripped apart and I don’t support that one bit.”

Disgraceful? He didn’t see this coming?

How could he not?

Trump’s supporters voted for a man who bragged that his celebrity status gave him the right to grab women anywhere he wanted. He supported white supremacists.

He hired Steve Bannon.

They cheered when he shook a fist and shouted repeatedly about building a wall between Mexico and the United States. They stood with him when he insulted our closest allies.

He called Canada a national security threat, but said of Kim Jong Un, “I think it’s great to give him credibility.”

He tripled the number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, and if some of them act like jackboots, well, that’s just the Trumpian way of enforcing the law, eh?

Trump has been exactly what he promised to be. Did anyone think he was kidding during the campaign and would somehow realize he is the president of 320 million people, not just those who voted for him?

What’s unfolding over immigration is just the next logical step.

He gave people like Attorney General Jeff Sessions power, who now says separating families is OK because the Bible supports it.

“I would cite you to the Apostle Paul and his clear and wise command in Romans 13, to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes,” Sessions said.

Sessions has been justifiably skewered for taking that out of context, but he also ignored the instruction from Jesus in Mark 12: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”

But hey, people should have seen that coming, too.

After all, Trump told students at Liberty University about a verse in “Two Corinthians” instead of 2nd Corinthians, and he told a group of evangelicals in Iowa that he had never asked God for forgiveness.

Um, the Bible kind makes it clear that seeking forgiveness is important.

Evangelicals voted him anyway in large numbers because he pandered to them. They helped create this. It’s too late for some to say they don’t like it.

None of this is an argument against immigration laws and border enforcement, but there is a way to do it without blowing families apart – and on some level, Trump and his minions know this, don’t they?

But they’re all so focused on being tough that they forget everything else.

On Sunday, Father’s Day, Fox News reported Melania Trump’s office said: “Mrs. Trump hates to see children separated from their families & hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform. She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws but also a country that governs w/heart.”

A heart.

That would be nice. But that’s not what his supporters voted for. They voted for a crude brute who told them what he was going to do. They believed him.

He didn’t let them down.

They own this.

Adam Putnam blames Dems for politicizing Daytona roller coaster tragedy

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has endured a couple of bad news cycles as he vies for the Republican nomination for Governor.

First, there was the issue with concealed weapons permits. Putnam’s office didn’t complete checks on 365 permits between Feb. 2016 and Mar. 2017.

Then, just as that item faded from the public consciousness, another issue: a roller coaster in Daytona Beach that derailed Thursday, injuring nine people just hours after getting the green light from Putnam’s office.

Now, the criticism is pouring in.

Putnam’s primary opponent, Rep. Ron DeSantis, told WJXT of the permit botch: “The Ag Department doesn’t do very much — concealed weapons permits, supposed to look out of for the citrus industry. It seems he’s had problems with both of those regards.”

Also piling on were Florida Democrats, adding the roller coaster issue to their critique.

“Every week, there’s a new report about Adam Putnam’s department failing to do its job. Putnam has created a culture of mismanagement, lack of accountability and incompetence at the Department of Agriculture. Putnam has spent almost a year running for governor instead of doing his job — and Floridians are paying the price,” said Florida Democratic Party spokesperson Kevin Donohoe.

In Jacksonville Saturday to open his campaign headquarters, Putnam addressed both these issues and the critics.

“It’s no surprise that people would try to politicize the tragedy,” Putnam said. “It’s unfortunate, but in this environment, it doesn’t surprise me.”

“We are actively investigating the tragic incident in Daytona. Our hearts and prayers go out to the injured. And we will hold anyone accountable who needs to be held accountable at the conclusion of the investigation,” Putnam added.

Given that the ride was inspected and approved hours before the derailment, some have questions as to the inspection process itself.

Those questions, in theory, will be resolved by the investigation to which Putnam refers.

And some will see parallels between the detachment of the commissioner from the inspection process to him being unaware of (and not disclosing) gaps in the concealed weapons permit process.

Jeff Greene: Father’s Day is a reminder of ‘inhumane’ immigration policies

Jeff Greene, a billionaire developer from Palm Beach and the newest Democratic option for Governor, is using the upcoming Father’s Day holiday to call for an end to the Donald Trump administration’s practice of separating migrant children from their parents at the border.

In a statement Saturday, Greene said the policies are “inhumane.” He framed that conclusion as one arrived at while reflecting on paternity.

Greene, who is married with three children, called his family “the greatest gifts I have ever received.” That acknowledgment, he said, brings him to realize a “stark contrast between my family’s own joy and the indescribable heartache being felt by those families on our country’s southern border.”

Recently published national stories focused largely on how frequently children are separated from adults near the border under the zero-tolerance, hardline immigration policy of detaining immigrants ahead of scheduled court dates. Some news outlets reported that close to 2,000 children were separated from adults over a six-week period, those figures are based on data from the Department of Homeland Security.

“No matter where you are from, the language you speak, religion you practice, or the color of your skin, families are families and people are people — yet they are not being treated as such,” Greene said. “Under the guise of being tough, the Trump administration has proven to be despicable, heartless, and inhumane.”  

Greene said “respect” is the “backbone of our United States,” and the immigration practices at the border are “spineless.”

In being critical of Trump-backed decisions, the newly minted candidate is distancing himself from the President, whose Mar-a-Lago getaway is just doors away from Greene’s Palm Beach residence.

Greene also is staking claim to a viewpoint on immigration that is primed to be polarizing for candidates who make it to November. On the Republican side of the gubernatorial race, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam released an ad this week in which a popular Republican sheriff extols his faith in Putnam’s ability to crackdown on immigration. But Putnam’s primary opponent, Congressman Ron DeSantis, has nicknamed the Commissioner “Amnesty Adam.”  

Meanwhile, other Democrats in the Governor’s race undoubtedly would align with Greene’s comments. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum even tweeted an almost identical sentiment on Saturday.

But to Greene, the issue should transcend party lines: “Democrats or Republicans, we are all Americans — and we cannot stand for this. I will not be silent, and neither should you. As Governor, I will do everything in my power to end reprehensible policies such as these,” he said.

And in Florida, as Greene suggests, the stories of immigrant children have resonated with politicians across the aisle. Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who’s competing against incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson for the U.S. Senate seat on the ballot, told Florida Politics’ A.G. Gancarski on Friday that “Your heart goes out to these families that are struggling with these issues. It shows you how messed up our immigration policy is, that these things are happening.”

Democrats link roller coaster failure to Adam Putnam

Florida Democrats are framing a recent roller coaster crash in Daytona Beach as the “latest example of incompetence at Adam Putnam’s Agriculture Department.”

In a news release emailed statewide Saturday, the Florida Democratic Party highlighted how the Thursday night derailment came hours after state inspectors approved the Sand Blaster roller coaster for operation. The incident injured nine when “a car derailed and sent two riders plunging three stories to the ground,” the Daytona Beach News-Journal reports.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the agency that employs the inspectors, is overseen by Putnam. In a Friday statement, an agency spokeswoman confirmed the inspectors OK’d the roller coaster.

“Just [Thursday], department inspectors conducted a thorough inspection of the ride, and it was found in compliance with state law,” reads an agency news release. The department has launched a follow-up investigation. 

But that’s too little, too late, according to FDP.

“Putnam has spent almost a year running for governor instead of doing his job — and Floridians are paying the price,” said FDP spokesperson Kevin Donohoe.

The Democrats point to a Tampa Bay Times report last week that detailed how an employee at the Agriculture Department failed for more than a yearlong period to conduct a sometimes-required background check on Floridians who applied for a concealed-carry weapons permit.

“Every week, there’s a new report about Adam Putnam’s department failing to do its job,” Donohoe charged. “Putnam has created a culture of mismanagement, lack of accountability and incompetence at the Department of Agriculture.”

When it comes to who should receive the Republican nod in August, the Democratic Party appears to prefer Putnam’s opponent, Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis. This suggests that the Democrats think they have a better chance of beating the Donald Trump-endorsed Ponte Vedra Beach Congressman in November than they do with Putnam. Included the email are a few DeSantis’ recent attacks on the Agriculture Commissioner.

Philip Levine launches Spanish ad on schools in Orlando, Miami

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine is launching a new Spanish-language television commercial Friday in Orlando and Miami highlighting his commitments to public education in Florida.

The 30-second spot, “Escuela,” [“School,”] shows shots in a classroom and Levine visiting with students as a narrator talks about Florida public schools being underfunded and teachers underpaid, and about Levine’s pledge to raise teachers’ salaries by $10,000.

Levine concludes the ad by promising, in Spanish, that he will “put our children first.”

Levine, former mayor of Miami Beach, is in an August 28 battle for the Democratic nomination with businessmen Chris King and Jeff Greene, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham. The leading Republicans are Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis.

His campaign said the Miami and Orlando commercials are being backed b a five-figure ad buy.

“Funding public education is the greatest investment we can make in our future, and as Governor, I will reverse the trend of underfunding our schools and leaving our teachers underpaid and under-appreciated,” Levine stated in a news release. “If we want to build a competitive 21st-century economy that attracts the best and brightest, it starts with giving every child a chance to succeed, no matter their background or where they come from.”

Ron DeSantis, Adam Putnam campaigning in Northeast Florida this weekend

For undecided Republican voters in Northeast Florida, this weekend will be a good time to get some grip and grin time with some of the gubernatorial candidates.

Friday evening sees Rep. Ron DeSantis and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam with dueling events.

DeSantis will do a “Grand Ole Flag Day Meet and Greet” at 5:30 p.m., at Orange Park’s Club Continental.

Putnam will host a “Grassroots BBQ” at St. Augustine’s “Rod and Gun Club.”

In Duval? Don’t worry. You’ll have an opportunity for the Adam Putnam experience Saturday afternoon, when the candidate opens up his Victory Headquarters in a strip mall on Jacksonville’s Southside.

Putnam won’t linger in Dirty Duval for long on Saturday. He is slated to speak Saturday night in Green Cove Springs at the Clay County Flag Day Dinner.

Both candidates are attempting to shore up a key region for Republicans this weekend, though it’s clear that Putnam will have more time on the ground.

In terms of metrics, Putnam still holds serve over DeSantis statewide.

According to the most recent poll of the race, conducted by the Putnam-friendly Florida Chamber, Putnam is ahead 32 percent to 15 percent.

Putnam also has a nearly 3-1 advantage in fundraising, having raised $30 million plus compared to DeSantis’ relatively modest $10.8 million receipts.

Local endorsements, by and large, are still up for grabs in this one.

Will this weekend change that?

#7 on list of Tampa Bay’s Most Powerful Politicians — Richard Corcoran

Although he had a good run in his two years as House Speaker — and managed to make a splash as a prospective candidate for governor, the Land O’ Lakes Republican falls five spots this year.

He claimed the No. 2 slot last year after his raucous showdown with Gov. Rick Scott over VISIT FLORIDA and Enterprise Florida funding.

Richard Corcoran might have ranked higher than he did this year had the political winds not shifted as they did over the course of the last several months — and if he wasn’t about to term out and face an uncertain future in politics.

Earlier this year, he seemed to be sowing momentum. His Watchdog PAC released a TV ad demonizing immigrants via an inaccurate depiction of the shooting death of Kate Steinle, followed by Corcoran’s plea to Floridians to support a crackdown on so-called sanctuary cities. That ad was red meat to potential GOP primary voters, but critics said it was racist.

Barely two weeks after it first aired, in the middle of the 2018 Legislative Session, gunman Nikolas Cruz killed 19 at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. As students across the state rallied for stricter gun laws, Corcoran’s PAC released yet another ad targeting illegal immigration, which some critics considered tone-deaf, given how the gun debate still raged.

Corcoran demonstrated his muscle in shepherding through a compromised gun law that raised the gun-buying age from 18 to 21 and mandated that schools train certain personnel to carry guns on campus. The NRA panned the bill for what it saw as limitations to the Second Amendment, though Corcoran seemed to make amends with the group in a letter to the Constitution Revision Commission calling on the panel to turn down a proposed amendment that could have banned assault-style rifles (which the commission did).

Another legislative win for Corcoran was an education package that shifts state dollars away from public schools and toward scholarship programs that favor charter schools, which school choice advocates heralded earlier this year. It also set new membership requirements that could potentially diminish teachers’ unions.

“The Speaker’s left a mark on the region,” said Seth McKeel of Southern Strategy Group. “He’s been a powerful and constant voice of conservatism in Florida.”

By the end of Session, many observers were ready for Corcoran to announce a run for governor, but a couple of forces were working against him. First, his potential primary opponents were way ahead of him in their fundraising. Second, the two major Republican candidates — Trump favorite Ron DeSantis and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam — would have made it difficult for him to craft a message that stood out to primary voters. In May, he announced he would not run and endorsed Putnam.

Corcoran’s Watchdog PAC had some $2 million when he dropped his bid for governor.

Corcoran ranked second in 2017.

For a complete explanation of how this list was created and who made up the panel that amassed it, please read here.

Mike Waltz ad spotlights ‘conservative values’

Republican Mike Waltz, embroiled in a competitive primary to succeed Ron DeSantis in Florida’s 6th Congressional District, dropped a biographical ad Thursday spotlighting his “conservative values.”

“Growing up in Florida and serving 20 years as an Army Green Beret,” Waltz asserted, “I learned respect for our conservative values and fought to uphold the Constitution.”

In the 30-second spot, Waltz vows to “work with President Trump to combat illegal immigration, strengthen our military, and create jobs.”

The closing salvo: an affirmation that “courage and integrity matter, and we need those values in Washington.”

Waltz is battling Ponte Vedra’s John Ward and former state Rep. Fred Costello of Ormond Beach in the August primary.

Ward and Waltz thus far have demonstrated the most fundraising ability of the Republican side. As of the end of March, Ward had $709,340 on hand (with $555,000 of that from his own checkbook). Waltz, who loaned his own campaign $400,000, has $653,354 on hand.

Costello, with $15,000, lags behind.

Q2 fundraising will be worth watching. Waltz enjoys momentum, including strong Jacksonville support.

Ward, meanwhile, scored a round of unwanted earned media after stating at a forum that displaced Puerto Ricans shouldn’t be allowed to vote in Florida, comments drawing scrutiny and condemnation from Republicans and Democrats alike.

CD 6, which runs from southern St. Johns through Volusia counties along the Atlantic coastline, is still a “likely Republican” district according to University of Virginia political scientist Larry J. Sabato’s “Crystal Ball.

However, the race has drawn a trio of Democratic hopefuls including two — Daytona Beach physician Steven Sevigny and former Ambassador to the United Nations Nancy Soderberg — who’ve raised well into the six figures.

Adam Putnam declares opposition to fracking in Florida

In a brief exchange with an volunteer for an anti-cracking group, Florida Republican gubernatorial candidate and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam declared his opposition to fracking over the weekend.

“We don’t need to be fracking in Florida. Our geology, our limestone, we do not need to be fracking in Florida for oil and gas. It is just not the right spot,” Putnam is seen and heard saying in an exchange with anti-fracking volunteer Ginger Goepper, in a video released Wednesday by the Food & Water Action Fund.

Putnam’s campaign spokeswoman Meredith Beatrice said the statements “are consistent with his platform.”

The organization said the exchange took place at a Putnam campaign event in Sun City Center on Saturday, and was the first statement they’ve seen in which Putnam has declared opposition to fracking. The Food & Water Action Fund is an organization that is campaigning for the reduction of fossil fuel extraction and burning for energy in general, and against fracking in particular.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is an oil and gas extraction technique in which drillers inject high-pressure water and chemicals deep into the ground to fracture the rock and thereby provide the drillers better access to oil and gas reserves. It is not practiced in Florida but has been the topic of intense debate in the Florida Legislature and in local governments for several years. Last year Senate Bill 462, to ban fracking, made some advances but died in the Appropriations Committee. A similar bill in the House of Representatives died in infancy.

Opponents charge fracking risks contaminating groundwater, and they also charge it is the cause of unusual earthquakes hitting such states as Oklahoma and Ohio. The oil and gas industry disputes those risks and insist fracking is an effective and safe way to increase America’s domestic energy supplies.

All of the major Democratic gubernatorial candidates, Philip Levine, Gwen Graham, Andrew GillumChris King, and Jeff Greene, have come out in opposition to fracking.

“This is the first time we have heard Commissioner Putnam take a stance on fracking and as a major candidate for governor,  we are happy to see Commissioner Putnam take such a strong stance against the dangerous drilling practice,” the organization stated in a news release issued Wednesday.

“We hope Congressman [Ron] DeSantis [the other major Republican gubernatorial candidate] will stand with the other gubernatorial candidates in calling to protect Florida’s clean water and environment by banning fracking,” the release continued.

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