Ron DeSantis Archives - Page 7 of 37 - Florida Politics

After Senate flip-flop, Patrick Murphy asks how can Floridians trust Marco Rubio?

Treasure Coast Congressman and U.S. Senate Democratic candidate Patrick Murphy says Floridians should think long and hard about Marco Rubio’s decision to run now for re-election for his U.S. Senate seat, a seat that Rubio insisted he would never run for again over the past year-and-half.

“Who does he think he is that all of a sudden Floridians are going to accept him back after he’s told them how much he doesn’t like the job?,” Murphy asked reporters on a conference call on Wednesday, saying that any employer in the private sector would surely be hesitant at a minimum to rehire an employee who had verbally trashed the place he had worked for over the past year.

PolitiFact listed a series of comments that the Florida GOP Senator has made over the past year on Wednesday, all of them capturing some variation of Rubio saying that he’d either be president next year — or become a private citizen once again — but definitely not a Senator.

In some publications it’s been reported that Rubio won’t commit to serving the completion of another six-year term if elected again this fall, allowing himself the opportunity to take another shot at the presidency if Donald Trump doesn’t take the White House. Congressman Murphy said such an attitude was “unacceptable.”

“Think about this — he won’t even admit that he’ll do a full term,” Murphy said. “The arrogance of that is shocking to me.”

Recent polls show that while Murphy and his main Democratic Senate opponent, Congressman Alan Grayson, had steady leads over every Republican that had been in the race, both fall short of defeating Rubio this fall, which is perhaps why both Murphy and the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee were relentless in their attacks on Rubio on Wednesday.

“Senator Rubio thinks the Senate can’t get things done,” said Murphy. “He said ‘we’re not going to fix America with senators and congressmen. He said, ‘I’m missing votes because I’m leaving the Senate.’ You know Senator, I just gotta tell you, I think Floridians expect better.”

Murphy participated in the conference call after spending time with his Democratic colleagues in a sit-in on the House floor, demanding that Speaker Paul Ryan allow votes on gun-control measures to be voted on by the entire caucus.

While Murphy was busy lambasting Rubio today, there is no guarantee that the two will match up in a one-on-one general election battle for the Senate come November. According to According to a new Targeted Persuasion survey, 30 percent of likely Democratic primary voters said they planned to vote for Alan Grayson in the Aug. 30 primary. Twenty-seven percent of voters polled stated that they supported Murphy; while 5 percent said they planned to vote for Pam Keith.

Murphy said without much enthusiasm at the end of the call that if Grayson were to defeat him in the Aug. 30 primary, he would support him in the general election. But Murphy said that Grayson had “disqualified” himself from the race, referring to Grayson’s once offshore hedge fund.

In April, the Office of Congressional Ethics released a report recommending that a House committee keep investigating Grayson. He’s been accused him of improperly managing a hedge fund, not disclosing all his finances and conducting business deals with the federal government that would be a conflict of interest. Grayson has downplayed the investigation, and has suggested that the entire issue has been resolved.

With today’s announcement, the GOP senate field has been reduced to three people. In addition to Rubio, only Bradenton developer Carlos Beruff and Orlando businessman Todd Wilcox remain in the race. Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Congressman Ron DeSantis dropped out of the race, following Congressman David Jolly, who announced he would run for re-election for his current congressional seat last Friday, anticipating Rubio’s announcement

Marco Rubio rallies backers, calls for their continued support in Senate bid

Marco Rubio told supporters he needs their help to make sure his 2016 re-election bid is successful.

The Miami Republican announced Wednesday he was running for re-election to the U.S. Senate. In a statement announcing his decision, Rubio said the Senate will play an important role in the coming years “as a check and balance on the excesses of a president.”

“Control of the Senate may very well come down to the race in Florida. That means the future of the Supreme Court will be determined by the Florida Senate seat. It means the future of the disastrous Iran nuclear deal will be determined by the Florida Senate seat,” he said in the statement. “It means the direction of our country’s fiscal and economic policies will be determined by this Senate seat. The stakes for our nation could not be higher.”

Rubio reiterated that message on a call with supporters Wednesday afternoon. He said when his presidential bid came to an end, he was committed to the decision not to run again. But when his friend, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, asked him to consider another run, Rubio said he would think about it.

Rubio said he spent the weekend with his family discussing the possibility, and told supporters he has “always been in public service for the desire to make a difference.”

Rubio acknowledged the race will be difficult, and said it will likely be an expensive proposition. Rubio encouraged supporters to donate, telling them he can’t do it without their help.

The late entry into the race means Rubio about two months to build his campaign infrastructure and raise a substantial amount of campaign cash.

The race is expected to be an expensive one. Earlier this week, the Tampa Bay Times reported Carlos Beruff told campaign staff he was prepared to put another $10 million to $15 million into the race. The newspaper reported Beruff has already spent more than $4 million of his own money on the race.

Beruff and Orlando Republican Todd Wilcox both said they plan to continue their Senate bid, despite Rubio’s decision to run again. Three other Republicans — Lopez-Cantera, Rep. David Jolly, and Rep. Ron DeSantis — have dropped their Senate bids.

Rubio told supporters believes if he wins, Republicans will retain their Senate majority. He also said he plans to spend time on the campaign trail rallying support from Floridians.

The Republican primary is Aug. 30.

Club for Growth endorses Marco Rubio, Ron DeSantis

The last-week moves today by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis to seek re-election will have the backing of a group that played a major role in getting each of them elected in the first place.

The Club for Growth PAC, a conservative economics committee, had strongly backed both of them in the past and was backing DeSantis in his now-aborted U.S. Senate run. But with Rubio entering and DeSantis moving back to Florida’s 6th Congressional District, the club quickly embraced them in their new roles.

“With today’s announcement by Sen. Rubio and the anticipation that Rep. DeSantis will run again in FL-06, we are committed to the re-election of both of these pro-growth candidates,” said Club for Growth President David McIntosh. “They will remain leaders in their respective chambers, and we believe Rep. DeSantis clearly has great potential for a run at the Senate in 2018.”

The club funneled more than $400,000 into Rubio’s campaigns, and more than $200,000 into DeSantis’s campaigns, to date, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

David Santiago to drop CD 6 run, run for re-election to HD 27

The dominoes are falling now that Marco Rubio is running for re-election to the Senate.

Ron DeSantis has all but announced his intention to run for re-election in Florida’s 6th Congressional District.

And those who had hoped to make the jump to the U.S. House of Representatives, such as state Rep. David Santiago, are rethinking the move.

Informed sources say what Matt Dixon of Politico just tweeted this morning: Santiago is poised to run for re-election in House District 27, the seat he was first elected to in 2012.

Right now, one Republican has qualified for the race: William McBride.

McBride will not be running after all, notes a statement from his camp:

“David Santiago is a great public servant who always has the interests of his constituents at heart. As I’ve knocked on over 5,000 doors this spring and summer, I’ve heard stories about how he has helped our community and been a great advocate for the people of South Volusia County. My campaign has always been about service and serving. I am fighting to ensure those who don’t have a voice, find one. With David coming back to serve, I think it is in the best interest of our community, our state and the conservative movement that I withdraw. I will transfer my campaign to 2018, and keep working hard toward helping my community.”

Another potential opponent, Zenaida Denizac, has yet to qualify, but has roughly $5,000 cash on hand.

As of his first-quarter filing, Santiago had $108,000 cash on hand.


Reversing course, Marco Rubio announces he will seek re-election

It’s official: Marco Rubio is running for re-election.

The Miami Republican announced Wednesday he planned to run again in 2016. The announcement came after weeks of speculation about whether Rubio would seek another term in the U.S. Senate. The decision reverses a pledge to return to private life when his term was over in January.

“In politics, admitting you’ve changed your mind is not something most people like to do. But here it goes,” said Rubio in a statement. “I have decided to seek re-election to the United States Senate. I understand my opponents will try to use this decision to score political points against me. Have at it. Because I have never claimed to be perfect, or to have all the answers.”

Rubio announced in 2015 he was running for the presidency. While he was considered by many to be a top contender, his presidential campaign failed to gain steam. He suspended his campaign in March, following a poor showing in the Florida primary.

Rubio received 27 percent of the vote, coming in second behind Republican Donald Trump. Trump won nearly 46 percent of the vote, coming out on top in most of the state’s 67 counties.

In his announcement Wednesday, Rubio said: “no matter who is elected president, there is reason for worry.”

“With Hillary Clinton, we would have four more years of the same failed economic policies that have left us with a stagnant economy. We would have four more years of the same failed foreign policy that has allowed radical Islam to spread, and terrorists to be released from Guantánamo,” he said. “And even worse, if Clinton were president and her party took control of Congress, she would govern without Congressional oversight or limit. It would be a repeat of the early years of the current administration, when we got Obamacare, the failed stimulus, and a record debt.”

Rubio said the prospect of a “Trump presidency is also worrisome.”

“It is no secret that I have significant disagreements with Donald Trump. His positions on many key issues are still unknown. And some of his statements, especially about women and minorities, I find not just offensive but unacceptable,” said Rubio. “If he is elected, we will need Senators willing to encourage him in the right direction, and if necessary, stand up to him. I’ve proven a willingness to do both.”

Political observers have long said the state’s Senate race will be one to watch, and Republicans have said it could be key to keeping control of the Senate. A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday morning found Rubio was the best bet for Republicans in a general election matchup.

The survey found Rubio would defeat Democrat Patrick Murphy 47 percent to 40 percent. In a hypothetical matchup between Rubio and Democrat Alan Grayson, Rubio would receive 48 percent of the vote to Grayson’s 40 percent.

Rubio said Wednesday the Senate is a place “from which you can perform great services for the people you have the honor of representing.” He also called the Senate a place “from which great policy advances can be made.”

“But as we begin the next chapter in the history of our nation, there’s another role for the Senate that could end up being its most important in the years to come: The Constitutional power to act as a check and balance on the excesses of a president,” he said. “Control of the Senate may very well come down to the race in Florida. That means the future of the Supreme Court will be determined by the Florida Senate seat. It means the future of the disastrous Iran nuclear deal will be determined by the Florida Senate seat. It means the direction of our country’s fiscal and economic policies will be determined by this Senate seat. The stakes for our nation could not be higher.”

Rubio’s decision, which comes just two days before the end of the qualifying period, has already had an impact on the Republican field. Five Republicans had initially thrown their hat in the race to replace Rubio, but that number is quickly dwindling.

Rep. David Jolly announced last week that he was dropping his Senate bid, choosing to run for re-election in Florida’s 13th Congressional District. Rep. Ron DeSantis is also expected to end his Senate bid.

Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, a longtime friend of Rubio’s and a Senate candidate, said he encouraged Rubio to reconsider his decision. Lopez-Cantera said he would not file to run if Rubio decided to get in the race, and on Wednesday made it official.

“As his friend, I know this was a thoughtful yet difficult decision that was made with our country’s best interest at heart. Florida needs a principled conservative leader now more than ever, and that is what Marco has been and will continue to be,” he said in a statement. “Additionally, as I previously stated, I will not file as a candidate in this U.S. Senate race, continuing my service as Florida’s lieutenant governor with Governor Scott focusing on Florida.”

Republicans Todd Wilcox and Carlos Beruff both said they plan to stay in the race, regardless of Rubio’s decision. In a statement Wednesday, Beruff said he is “not going to back down from the Washington establishment.”

“This isn’t Marco Rubio’s seat; this is Florida’s seat. The power brokers in Washington think they can control this race.  They think they can tell the voters of Florida who their candidates are. But the voters of Florida will not obey them,” said Beruff. “Like Marco Rubio in 2010, I’m not going to back down from the Washington establishment. They are the problem, not the solution.”

Wilcox said he decided to run “because of the complete failure on the part of our elected civilian leadership to solve the problems we face as a nation.”

“I am tired of going into the voting booth and holding my nose to vote for the least-worst candidate on the ballot.  We need to elect serious leaders that understand our enemies and our economy,” said Wilcox. “I have 27 years of real world experience in national security and the economy, experience that is desperately needed in Washington now more than ever. None of that has changed based on yet another career politician entering this race.”

Rubio has already received the support of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. The organization swiftly issued a statement saying Rubio will have its full support.

“Marco Rubio is a valued leader for Florida and for our country, and I welcome his decision to ask voters for the opportunity to serve once again,” said Sen. Roger F. Wicker, the chair of the NRSC. “Senator Rubio has made a lasting impact when it comes to standing up against the failed Obama agenda and has articulated a clear vision for making our country safer and more prosperous. His campaign will have the full support of the NRSC.”

The decision to run for re-election means Rubio will have to spend the next few weeks campaigning across the state.

The Republican primary is Aug. 30, but vote-by-mail ballots will be sent to military and overseas voters on July 16. Elections officials will begin sending vote-by-mail ballots to domestic voters beginning July 26.

While Rubio may be the most well-known candidate in the race, he could face some challenges. According to the Quinnipiac University poll released this week, 45 percent of Floridians said they approve of the job he is doing in the U.S. Senate; while 44 percent said they disapproved.

Rubio said he made the decision after discussing it with his wife and their four children while in West Miami for Father’s Day.

“There was one path that was more personally comfortable and probably smarter politically. But after much thought and prayer, together we chose to continue with public service; to continue down the path that provides the opportunity to make a positive difference at this critical and uncertain time for our nation,” he said. “In the end, there was simply too much at stake for any other choice.”


Reporter Scott Powers contributed to this report.

Why Im Running - Marco Rubio for US Senate EDIT

Laura Ingraham slams Marco Rubio — says Ron DeSantis should stay in Senate race

Marco Rubio’s decision to run for re-election to his U.S. Senate seat after saying he wouldn’t is receiving an avalanche of criticism, and not just from Democrats.

Conservative radio talk-show host Laura Ingraham, a supporter of Congressman Ron DeSantis‘ bid for the Senate, reacted with hostility to the news Rubio was breaking his vow and getting back into the race, three months after he was humiliated in the Florida presidential primary by Donald Trump.

“I think it just adds to the cynicism of the electorate toward politicians. They can’t believe what they say,” Ingraham said upon the seeing The Washington Post‘s story posted online that Rubio would be announcing later Wednesday he is officially running for re-election.

Ingraham slammed Rubio’s comments from last week that the shooting massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando that killed 49 people was the catalyst that changed his mind about getting back into the race, and went back to linking the Florida Republican to his support for comprehensive immigration reform back in 2013, a huge issue with conservatives.

“Why would Orlando change your mind? What unique ability do you have to stop Islamic terrorism in the United States?” she asked. “After all, the plan you endorsed and that you supported, according to the Congressional Budget Office and all of the analysis, it wouldn’t have stopped the people coming across the border. Fifty percent would still come across the border illegally? How is that good for our national security? How is that for stopping terrorism?”

Ingraham said she had participated in a fundraiser for DeSantis and expressed anger that he would drop out because of Rubio’s entrance back into the Senate contest. “I guess he’s just making a practical call,” she said of DeSantis. “The big money people are going to line up for Rubio again.”

“Why would you be afraid of Marco Rubio when he couldn’t win his own state?” Ingraham then said with frustration in her voice, referring to how Rubio only won his home county of Miami-Dade and lost the other 66 counties to Trump back in the March presidential primary. “It’s ridiculous. If I’m DeSantis, I’m saying: ‘You know, I like Marco Rubio, he’s a nice person, but he pledged not to run, and I’m going to take him at his word. I’m running for the U.S. Senate …'”

A spokesman for DeSantis’ Senate campaign told an announcement about DeSantis’ future would come later Wednesday.

Ron DeSantis will run for re-election in CD 6

Now that Marco Rubio is going to run for re-election for the U.S. Senate, Ron DeSantis is running for re-election in Florida’s 6th Congressional District.

“Marco Rubio’s announcement changes the contours of the U.S. Senate race in Florida,” DeSantis said.

“As a well-known incumbent, Senator Rubio is a strong bet to win what will be a pivotal U.S. Senate race in a challenging political environment.  Casey and I are grateful for the support we have received across Florida and throughout the country and plan to continue the fight for limited government principles and a strong national defense.”

“In light of the Rubio development, I can best advance the cause by running for reelection to the U.S. House in the 6th Congressional District, where I can continue protecting taxpayers, promoting economic growth, helping our veterans, and supporting our military.”

DeSantis’ first-quarter financial reports show he has $3.2 million in the bank toward his re-election bid, which would make a challenge to him a fool’s errand for any Republican.

Questions remain as to the near-term political futures of Brandon Patty, a rising start in the Florida GOP who had a fundraiser, hosted by Marco Rubio, scheduled for him today in Washington D.C.

As well, David Santiago will run for State House again in HD 27, in light of the news.

Fred Costello, as of now, faces a similar decision: to lose to a well-funded DeSantis, or to run again for State House.

Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson blast Marco Rubio’s decision to run for re-election to his Senate seat

Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson are reacting to the news that Marco Rubio intends to run for re-election to his U.S. Senate seat.

“Marco Rubio abandoned his constituents, and now he’s treating them like a consolation prize. Unlike Marco Rubio, I love working hard every single day for the people of Florida,” Murphy said early Wednesday. “From missing the most votes of any Florida Senator in nearly 50 years, to seeking to ban abortion even in cases of rape or incest, to repeatedly voting against closing the terrorist gun loophole, Rubio is proving he is only out for himself.”

David Damron, a spokesman for Grayson’s Senate campaign, said, “While Rep. Grayson is busy passing good, progressive legislation, he welcomes the chance to beat basically two Do Nothing Republicans in Patrick Murphy and No Show Marco this fall. But it’s shameful that Marco is trying to use the Orlando tragedy to further his 2020 presidential ambitions from a Senate seat that he’s barely sat in. Floridians will see through it. The Trump-Rubio ticket will fail.”

The Washington Post reported early Wednesday Rubio would announce his decision sometime Wednesday, anonymously quoting three people familiar with Rubio’s thinking.

The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, which has already endorsed Murphy in the race, blasted Rubio’s decision.

DSCC Communications Director Sadie Weiner said in a statement:

“Sen. Rubio simply couldn’t be bothered to show up for work, and when he asked Florida voters for a promotion in the presidential primary, they swiftly shut him down and handed him a nearly 20-point loss to Donald Trump. That’s the same Donald Trump who Rubio called a “con artist” who couldn’t be trusted with the nuclear codes who he has now heartily endorsed and will be forced to run alongside. Unfortunately for Florida voters, when Marco Rubio did decide to show up for work, he voted to turn Medicare into a voucher program, defund critical women’s health services, and keep open a loophole that allows terrorists to purchase guns. Now, he is cravenly using the deadliest mass shooting in American history as the springboard to go back on his word and further his political career. They said it couldn’t be done, but Marco Rubio’s actions, words and votes reveal one of the more self-serving Washington politicians who has always put his political career above the people he represents.”

The Democratic Party opposition group American Bridge immediately linked Rubio to Donald Trump, saying, “With reports confirming that Marco Rubio will run to retain his Florida Senate seat, Donald Trump must be ecstatic. Rubio quickly supported Trump despite their personal and petty sniping in the GOP primary, so the two will make a fine pair on the Florida ticket — if Rubio can even get through the messy Republican primary.” They then linked to a Trump tweet calling on Rubio to run late last month.

A poll released by Quinnipiac University Wednesday shows Rubio would immediately become the front-runner in the race this fall against either Murphy or Congressman Alan Grayson, the other major Democrat in the race. The poll showed that Rubio leads Murphy, 47 percent to 40 percent, and leads Grayson, 48 percent to 40 percent.

That same poll also shows Murphy and/or Grayson defeating every other Republican in the race, which right now includes Congressman Ron DeSantis, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Manatee County developer Carlos Beruff, and Orlando businessman and former combat veteran Todd Wilcox. 

Beruff responded: “This isn’t Marco Rubio’s seat; this is Florida’s seat. The power brokers in Washington think they can control this race.  They think they can tell the voters of Florida who their candidates are. But the voters of Florida will not obey them. Like Marco Rubio in 2010, I’m not going to back down from the Washington establishment. They are the problem, not the solution.”

Lopez-Cantera has indicated he would drop out of the race if Rubio were to re-enter the contest, something Pinellas County Congressman David Jolly did last week.


Because of Donald Trump, ‘Winter is Coming’ for down-ballot Florida Republicans, new poll shows

If yesterday’s new Quinnipiac poll of the presidential race in Florida was a foreboding sign for the Donald Trump campaign that Winter is Coming, these polling numbers out of Congressional District 27 in Miami should be proof positive; Whitewalkers are already here.

Even a seemingly safe incumbent, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, should be stricken with fear. had obtained a poll, conducted back in May, right when Trump effectively clinched the nomination and well before the recent firestorms over his latest racially tinged remarks and his bizarre reaction to the Pulse shooting in Orlando.

Respected pollster Keith Fredricks interviewed 400 likely voters in Miami’s 27th Congressional District and found, to start with, Hillary Clinton leading Trump by 23 points. (Obama won the district by 7 in 2012.)

Dig a little deeper, and the results are even worse for Trump and fellow Republicans down the ticket.

Trump has a 54 percent negative rating with Cubans, with fully a third saying they won’t vote for him, brutal numbers in a critical voting bloc for any statewide Republican coalition in Florida. He’s likewise losing by almost 35 points (57-23) with independent voters, many of whom are Hispanic in this district.

And the news doesn’t get much better for the rest of the ticket. Patrick Murphy beats Ron DeSantis — who many thought was the likely nominee pre-Rubio’s recent moves — by 11 points, a margin more striking for the fact that 28 percent of voters are undecided. And a generic Democrat beats a generic Republican 40-37 in a hypothetical congressional horse race. In that matchup, with an evenly divided sample of Democrats and Republicans, 42 percent of Cubans aren’t voting for the Republican. Non-Cuban Hispanics and whites both favor the Democrat by 20-plus-point margins.

These numbers should give pause to Trump, Ros-Lehtinen, and Marco Rubio.

Not only is the Republican brand damaged badly with Hispanics, but Democrats are also actually quite popular as well. Obama has a 62 percent favorable rating, and Hillary is right behind him with 59 percent.

Little Marco, meanwhile, is barely keeping his head above water at 51-46. (I was frankly surprised Rubio’s numbers were as high as they were.)

So where does that leave Ros-Lehtinen, the longest-serving member of Congress in Florida and the “dean” of our congressional delegation? She’s in a better spot than the rest of her party, pulling a slight majority of 53 percent against an unknown, named Democrat. She’s undoubtedly well-positioned, but her re-election doesn’t occur in a vacuum where her race is the only one on the ballot either.

Ros-Lehtinen must be hyperventilating, considering the likelihood of winning re-election as a Republican when the top of the ticket is just getting demolished in your district.

Sure, she outpolled Obama in 2012, and pretty significantly, but she also spent over $1 million on a campaign in which her opponents spent a combined zero dollars.

If there’s anyone who might survive a year that’s shaping up to be a poor one for Republicans, especially in swing districts with big Hispanic populations, it’s Ros-Lehtinen. But she can’t be sleeping easy at night, especially given what appears to be a serious challenge from political newcomer and possible self-funder, Scott Fuhrman.

Fuhrman was heavily recruited by the DCCC to run in this seat, and he’s already put up $250,000 of his own money to take on Ros-Lehtinen.

Winter is coming for Florida Republicans in close districts.

We’ll see soon enough whether incumbents like Ros-Lehtinen can hold the door and live to fight another cycle.

Fuhrman Poll Results 6.9.16_Page_1Fuhrman Poll Results 6.9.16_Page_2

Why John Rutherford is winning the CD 4 race right now

On Friday evening, at his new Congressional campaign headquarters, former Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford was beaming with happiness.

His friends and family were on hand, and the small room, full of people there to pick up yard signs and wish him well, felt more like a house party than the opening of a campaign office.

That surge of popular support belied the assertion by at least one primary opponent: that Rutherford was a “coronated” candidate by the elites. He diverges from that take.

“I was picked by the people. Look at the polls,” Rutherford said. “I’m blessed to have the support of the people … it goes back to the fact that people know John Rutherford.”

Throughout our conversation Friday afternoon, the former sheriff exuded confidence in his chances – and did not shy away from even the tough questions.

One such question related to the distinct possibility that Rep. Ron DeSantis, whose home is now in the 4th Congressional District, may enter the race in lieu of running for Senate if Marco Rubio decides to run for re-election.

“I’m prepared to go against anybody in the race,” said Rutherford, who described himself as “in it to win it” and not worried about what might happen if “someone wants to parachute in.”

Another such question related to the possibility, floated by some consultants, that a line of attack against Rutherford might involve critiques of increased budgets at the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office during his tenure.

The budget did indeed go up, Rutherford said; personnel was needed to fight a wave of murder and violent crime.

“By 2011,” Rutherford said, “the lowest rates of violent crime and murder since 1970” prevailed.

“We were woefully understaffed,” Rutherford added, quoting an independent “Matrix” audit that said that the JSO was efficient, effective, and responsive, and that staffing insufficiencies were central to the crime problem last decade.

Along those lines, Rutherford also weighed in on the pension tax referendum.

“If that does not pass,” Rutherford said, “nothing else matters in Jacksonville. If we don’t take care of this, we are the Detroit of the South.”

Rutherford noted that the development of St. Johns County commuter communities for Jacksonville has been happening for some time, eroding a potential tax base going back to 1990.


Those who don’t know John Rutherford have a fixed impression: a sheriff who knew well how to use the bully pulpit of the media to serve up “tough on crime” messaging, an authoritarian voice.

That’s not the John Rutherford of 2016. A reflective man, enthralled with his life, his wife of 43 years, and his grandchildren, he seems intent on running a race his friends and family can be proud of.

His brief remarks to supporters at his headquarters Friday lacked pyrotechnics, instead referencing consensus-building and collaboration.

“In the legislative process,” Rutherford said, “you’ve got to have good relationships on both sides of the aisle.”

Rutherford spoke of coalition-building and the need to “build relationships,” saying that “if you’re looking for an ideologue to [go up to DC and] blow things up, that’s not me, that’s not [in] my character.”

“People want to know you care about them,” Rutherford continued. “Being here to help with your problems … that’s why people trusted us, worked with us.”


Rutherford countered the assertion of certain critics that it takes a long time to get into leadership in Washington.

“Got to be there 15 to 20 years to get into leadership? That’s not true. If it takes you 15 to 20 years, we don’t need you.”

He also asserted his commitment to the race, citing the impact he knew it would have on his family.

“It really takes a lot from them when you run. For me to take time from them, you know I’m committed.”

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