Sam Killebrew – Florida Politics

Second Democrat challenges Sam Killebrew in HD 41

Democrat Alex Perkins filed paperwork Monday to run for House District 41, the Polk County-based seat currently held by Winter Haven Republican Rep. Sam Killebrew.

Perkins, who lives in Davenport, joins Winter Haven Democrat Carmelo Garcia in the primary race for the seat. The pair are on a level playing field as far as fundraising goes.

Garcia entered the race back in May, and despite the 9-month head start in the race he has yet to report any campaign contributions.

Garcia also carries some baggage – he was arrested on charges of grand theft the same day he filed for HD 41 over accusations he had written bad checks in 2016, though the Osceola County State Attorney’s Office dropped the charges in August.

Killebrew has held the seat since 2016 and is heading toward his term term in the House. Through the end of January, he had raised $42,600 for his re-election bid and had $36,910 on hand.

In past election cycles, HD 41 has had a decidedly Republican tilt.

The district voted plus-5 for Donald Trump in 2016 even though there are 8,000 more registered Democrats than Republicans within the district.

Former Rep. John Wood won the seat in 2012 with a 52-49 victory over Democrat Karen Welzel, followed by a 59-41 drubbing of Democrat Celestyne Williams in 2014. In 2016, Killebrew bested former circuit court judge Bob Doyel 53-47.

Those margins could shift if the so-called “blue wave” hasn’t petered out by November.

Latest on the legislative staffing merry-go-round

With a tip of the hat to LobbyTools, here are the latest movements – both on and off – of the legislative merry-go-round.

On: Amber Moody is a new support analyst for the House Office of Information Technology.

Off: Michael Ellis is no longer a journal writer/editor for the Legislative Process Division.

Off and on: Natasha Sutherland has replaced legislative analyst David Spore has left In the House Democratic Office.

Off: Cheryl Dewees is no longer budget assistant for the House Appropriations Committee.

Off: Sarah deNagy is no longer budget assistant for the House Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee.

Off: Nicholas Merlin is no longer attorney for the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee.

On: Timothy Morris is the new legislative assistant for Fort Myers Republican Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto.

On: Kyle Alexandre is no longer legislative assistant for Ocoee Democratic Sen. Randolph Bracy.

On and off: Luisana Perez moved from district secretary to legislative assistant in Miami Democratic Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez.

On and off: Tennille Moore moved from district secretary to legislative assistant for St. Petersburg Democratic Sen. Darryl Rouson.

Off and on: Michele McCloskey has left as administrative lead for the House Commerce Committee to work for Bradenton Republican Rep. Jim Boyd as district secretary.

On: Stephany Montano is now district secretary for Miami Democratic Rep. Robert Asencio.

On: Sadie Haire is now district secretary for Jacksonville Republican Rep. Jason Fischer.

Off: Amy Miller is no longer district secretary for Venice Republican Rep. Julio Gonzalez.

Off: Meagan Hebel is no longer district secretary for Winter Haven Republican Rep. Sam Killebrew.

Off: Coleton Reece is no longer district secretary in Clearwater Republican Rep. Chris Latvala.

Off and on: Rosana Fonseca changed from district secretary to legislative assistant for Orlando Democratic Rep. Amy MercadoMelissa Porcaro has become district secretary.

Off and on: Charles Smith is no longer legislative assistant in Fort Lauderdale Republican Rep. George MoraitisKassie Satterly is now a legislative assistant.

Off: RJ Myers is no longer legislative assistant for South Pasadena Republican Rep. Kathleen Peters.

Off and on: Jannette Nunez is no longer district secretary for Miami Democratic Rep. David Richardson. Roberto Alvarez is replacing her.

Off: Matthew Spritz is no longer legislative assistant for Naples Republican Rep. Bob Rommel.

Off: Deniz Ozaltin is a new district secretary for Boca Raton Democratic Rep. Emily Slosberg.

Off: Dalie Sejour is no longer district secretary for Miami Democratic Rep. Cynthia Stafford.

Off and on: Dennis Ragosta has changed for district secretary to legislative assistant for Ocala Republican Rep. Charlie Stone.

On: Donntay Cooper is the new district secretary for Miami Gardens Democratic Rep. Barbara Watson.

In St. Johns County, an uphill fight to put the genie back in the bottle

Cellphones are here to stay, and so, it seems, are the staggeringly stupid things we do with them.

Facebook fiascos are infinite in variety now that people of limited impulse control have a high-powered computer at their 24/7 command. It’s a problem for people of all ages, and from all walks of life.

Not for the first time this week, a Florida public official is wearing egg on his face for Facebooking While Biased Against Muslims. State Rep. Sam Killebrew offered this jolly joke to his fans and followers: “Liberals are acting like (President-elect Donald) Trump is going to kill all the gays, make slavery legal again, and take away women’s rights. Did he become a Muslim?”

As night follows day, right-thinking people took offense and Killebrew returned to Facebook to issue an “if you were offended” non-apology.

At age 71, Killebrew is probably beyond understanding why not everybody thinks he’s Central Florida’s answer to Mark Twain. But there’s hope for the kids, and St. Johns County is working hard to help them understand that the internet is an unforgiving place with a long and photographic memory.

Seventy-three percent of American teenagers have a smartphone, and 100 percent of them have brains that will not be fully developed until they are well into their 20s. It makes for a lot of heartache and aggravation in St. John’s County, where Sheriff’s Lt. Mike Strausbaugh clocks a lot of hours trying to educate kids about the consequences of uploading while clueless.

Long before Donald Trump cyberbullied his way to the White House, tech-savvy teenage Eddie Haskells were honing their skills at hounding the helpless. Sometimes, the kid who is told to “go kill yourself” really does. After a bit of community soul-searching, parents return to sleeping with their smartphone, and letting their children do the same.

Schools, youth groups, and cop shops everywhere are spending ungodly amounts of time cleaning up the messes caused by young’uns armed with Apples and Androids. The genie is out of the bottle, and all the Lt. Strausbaughs in the world can’t put it back.

Bill Rufty: Will I-4, Polk County go blue?

RuftyTuesday will reveal whether the I-4 corridor is still an important swing corridor or whether it has become an important Democratic Party corridor.

Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump hit the counties along that stretch of interstate many times as well — and not just the big cities of St. Petersburg, Tampa and Orlando. Smaller cities and towns were targets as well.

Donald Trump held a rally at the Lakeland Linder Airport and Tim Kaine, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s running mate, appeared at a rally at the Lakeland Center.

Polk County, traditionally conservative Republican for two decades, is one of the last pieces of the I-4 corridor Democrats would like to have.

Awakening after 20 years, county party leaders finally succeeded in fielding candidates for all seven legislative races. While no Democratic landslide is in sight and only one likely competitive race this time, the Democrats have taken a page from former Polk County Republican Party Chair Jean Burt.

“I can’t expect people to vote Republican and change their party to Republican unless I give them really good candidates to vote for,” Burt said in 1985 when there was no Republican in office in the county.

Essentially, in each election, she asked well-known people in the community to take one for the party.

The first Republican legislator from Polk since Reconstruction was elected in 1990. A Republican majority was elected in 1996 and there hasn’t been a Democrat elected from Polk since 1998. Now, Democrats seem to be paying attention to Burt’s philosophy.

Two of the bigger names Democrats have fielded are retired Circuit Judge Robert Doyel facing Republican activist Sam Killebrew for House District 41, and former school board member Debra Wright challenging Republican incumbent Kelli Stargel, for Senate District 22.

Doyel amassed a healthy campaign warchest of $92,265, an unusual feat for a Democrat in Polk County. Killebrew finished with $228,699.

Wright raised $26,277 in her Senate campaign, but the incumbent Stargel had received $494,010.

Members of the Florida Legislature receive an annual salary of $29,697.

How About Another Election?

Walk into any voting location in Lakeland and you will be stopped as you come out of the building and asked if you are a resident within the city limits of Lakeland.

“If you answer yes the person behind the desk (placed at the required distance from the polling entrance) will say ‘Well come on over and sign the petition for a strong mayor.’” Lakeland resident Ricky Shira said after casting his ballot in early voting. He didn’t sign.

The petitioners will be out in force Tuesday at the precinct locations too.

Supporters of changing the city charter to create a strong mayor form of government in Lakeland hope to obtain enough signatures to force the issue onto the ballot in 2017.

Most of the people manning the petition tables are paid. But there are volunteers for the group as well. And there are just as many old-time movers and shakers in Lakeland who have formed a group to oppose the strong-mayor proposal.

Currently, while the mayor is elected by the city’s voters for a four-year term, he or she is considered one of the seven members of the commission in the city manager form of government.

Supporters hope to bring the issue to the ballot in November 2017, when city commission elections are held.

Both Tampa and Orlando, on each side of Lakeland, have the strong mayor system of government. Supporters say Lakeland, whose population is now over 110,000, is large enough to have a strong mayor system.

‘Woman’s Work’ …

Don’t tell Dena DeCamp of Lakeland that Donald Trump doesn’t have the support of women. She will read you a litany of women working in his Florida campaign.

“Most of the Republican campaign headquarters across the state are being run by the Florida Federation of Republican women,” said DeCamp of Lakeland, who is the state president.

She insists that statewide women are coming forward and supporting Trump, recalling a 92-year-old woman who had immigrated from Australia decades ago and became a citizen had come in to register to vote for the first time.

“We have had many people well over the age of 21 come into the Lakeland campaign headquarters to register for the first time or to change parties to Republican,” she said.

The forms are then taken to the Polk County Supervisor of Elections office to be recorded.

DeCamp has supported Trump from the day he won the nomination and has often acted as his surrogate in the state, including speaking at his event in Lakeland.

“This is the person we in the early tea party have been waiting for — a businessman who is not a politician,” she said late Monday as she was putting up more campaign signs.

BusinessForce endorses Republican Sam Killebrew in HD 41

Following a comprehensive and deliberate selection process, BusinessForce endorsed a former member of and current small business owner, Republican Sam Killebrew for Florida House District 41.

BusinessForce is the political action arm of the Central Florida Partnership. Its goal is to affect positive change in Central Florida through regional public policy advocacy and by encouraging and supporting candidates for public office who, as public officials, will embrace free enterprise and sound, responsible business practices in government.

“With over 40 years of experience as a small-business man, Sam Killebrew knows what it takes to start and run a successful business,” said Robert Agrusa, executive director of BusinessForce. “He has hired hundreds of employees and has seen firsthand the impact that excessive regulations and high taxes have on a business, and he will fight tirelessly, through regional collaboration and economic diversification, to grow our economy by creating high-paying jobs for Polk County’s hardworking families.”

“We are confident that our endorsement of Sam will send a strong signal to our region’s business community that he is worthy of the support of the entire business community as he seeks to serve our region in Tallahassee,” said Chris Stewart, director of state government affairs for the American Resort Development Association and chairman of the BusinessForce Legislative Committee.

The HD 41 seat is currently occupied by Rep. John Wood, who is leaving due to term limits.

For more information on Killebrew’s campaign, visit; to find more information on BusinessForce’s endorsed candidates, visit

Bill Rufty: House District 41 candidates going for the money

RuftySam Killebrew, Republican candidate for Florida House District 41, has raised a campaign war chest double that of Democratic candidate Bob Doyel, who nevertheless raised more than any Democrat running for the district in 16 years.

The battle for the open seat is the only competitive race among the seven legislative seats in Polk County that have elections.

In the latest campaign finance reporting period, Sept. 3 through Sept. 16, Killebrew reported raising $7,400 to bring his total contributions during the primary and general election campaigns to $135,499.

He has loaned himself $51,000. By Sept. 16, he had spent $109,498.

During the same two-week reporting period, Doyel collected $5,280 in campaign contributions, bringing his campaign total to $60,885 and loaning himself $10,000. He had spent $38,616.

The annual salary for a legislator is $29,697.

District 41 includes the eastern portion of Polk County. Latest voter registration numbers show the district with 41,357 Democrats, or 38 percent of the 107,900 registered voters in the district. Registered Republicans number 36,715, or 34 percent of the electorate.

Another 29,828 list themselves as no party affiliation or members of third parties. They make up 28 percent of the registered voters in District 41; those are the voters both candidates are spending money to attract in the final six weeks.

Killebrew has spent more than $32,000 for campaign consulting and $19,000 in campaign mail-outs.

Doyel has paid around $5,000 for consulting and $12,000 for campaign management. While Killebrew was heavy on campaign mailers, Doyel was more focused on campaign signs, according to their expenditure sheets.


Bill Rufty: A political rarity in HD 41 – Republican, Democrat agree

RuftyRepublicans and Democrats agreeing on a major issue – It seldom (if ever) happens lately in national politics.

But on a state level, Republican Sam Killebrew and Democrat Bob Doyel, competing for Florida House District 41, agreed on the critical issue of education in the state of Florida.

There are too many tests and perhaps not geared to finding children’s progress so much as to grade teachers or schools, they said in front of a Polk County Tiger Bay luncheon in Bartow Wednesday.

Both men, of course, support the state giving the vacant agriculture office building, Nora Mayo Hall, located in the district, to the city of Winter Haven.

District 41 covers the eastern portion of Polk County. It is currently held by Rep. John Wood, a Winter Haven Republican, who will have reached his eight-year term limit on Election Day.

Killebrew and Doyel each won their respective party’s primary, Aug. 30. No Democrat has won the seat since 1998 or any other legislative seat in the county for that matter.

The Democratic Party, not known for vigorous active campaigning for its candidates, is “pulling out the stops” for Doyel, a retired circuit court judge, because of the changing face of the district. More people who work in Osceola or Orange counties are among those moving into the northeast portion of the county.

But Killebrew is well-known for his contributions to the Republican Party both financial and through his candidate recruiting. A retired contractor, he completed several projects in the district.

They (state education officials) have tied teachers hands by all of this excessive testing, said Killebrew, whose wife teaches in the Polk County school system. His wife has helped him understand what changes are needed in Florida, he said.

“She says we need to get the federal government out and have mostly the state involved,” he said. “But we need to do testing by counties not one state standard test because there are differences,” he said.

Doyel gave a similar opinion on education and testing.

“We need to take a close look at testing. If that is what we call an education standard then we are in real trouble,” Doyel said

“The tests don’t take into account if the child is hungry or couldn’t sleep the night before because of poverty…or homelessness,” he said.

There were plenty of differences between the two men on other issues.

Unlike many Tiger Bay Clubs where members rise from the audience, sometimes in a confrontational manner that wastes time, Polk club members submit their questions in writing.

Asked for their opinion on legislation likely to come before the Legislation in 2017 that would allow people to openly carry a gun, Doyel said he is “adamantly opposed.”

Killebrew said 45 states allow open carry permits. Open carry permits are stricter and require stiffer checks he said.

Both men strongly disagree on a proposed medical marijuana amendment proposed for the state constitution.

“It should not be in the state constitution. This one is bad but not as bad as the one two years ago (which was defeated),” Killebrew said.

‘’It still is not handed out by pharmacies, but private shops and a caregiver can buy for up to five people,” he said.

Doyel said he, too, was opposed to the issue being a constitutional amendment such as the one outlawing the penning of pregnant pigs which was passed some years ago.

“I support it, but not just on medical marijuana,” Doyel said. “As former law professor, I am concerned about teenagers who get caught with a very small amount of marijuana and have their futures destroyed with prosecution.

“I think for those small cases there should be a citation,” he said.

On expansion of Medicaid coverage Killebrew is opposed and Doyel supports it.

With a question asking each candidate’s position on abortion, Killebrew said: “I am pro-life.”

Doyel said, “I wish it were that simple, but that runs counter to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.”

From a political junkie’s viewpoint, both candidates were almost too nice to one another.

Both wisely called for additional funding for citrus greening. Polk County dropped from first in production of citrus in the state to third and the main agriculture research center is located in District 41.

Bill Rufty: Polk becoming a two-Party county?

Polk County will likely never return to the Democratic bastion that was home to four U.S. senators, three governors, and four presidents of the Florida Senate.

But from Tuesday’s primaries and the fielding of candidates for the Nov. 8 general elections, Polk Democrats are slowly learning to make the now-GOP bastion a two-party county again.

There was a big Democratic Primary in eastern Polk County for Florida’s 9th Congressional District, but not one of the four candidates were from Polk.

However, for the first time in a decade, there was a Democratic Primary for Florida House District 41, which is fully contained within the county’s borders.

As the I-4 corridor begins to turn Democratic in performance, eastern Polk County appears to be following the trend. But the western side, which includes Lakeland, Bartow and Mulberry, is still the Republican stronghold it has been since 1996.

The highest level race in the county and much of Central Florida was a congressional race where a Democrat is almost certain to win a general election run after court-ordered redistricting.

State Sen. Darren Soto’s win over former Alan Grayson aide Susannah Randolph, Grayson’s wife Dr. Dena Grayson, and former Osceola County Democratic Party Chair Valleri Crabtree can be credited to the significant margin in Osceola County, a Democratic stronghold among the three counties making up the district. He barely won the Orange County section and came in third in the Polk County section of his district.

Democrats in Polk County are hoping to win a Florida House seat in Polk County for the first time since 1998.

Former Circuit Court Judge Bob Doyel handily won the Democratic Party’s nomination over Nicholas Garcia in the primary and now faces former contractor and Republican fundraiser Sam Killebrew, a formidable Republican activist.

Killebrew won the GOP nod by a narrow margin over former 2nd District Court of Appeal Judge Charles Davis.

It was Davis’ first run for a partisan political office and, although running as a Republican, he failed to adhere to what has become a tenant of the GOP: get the absentee voters first.

Davis won at the polls Tuesday, but longtime political planner and activist Killebrew won the race with the mail-in and early vote ballots.

The anticipated overhaul of the sometimes intransigent and stagnant Polk County School Board wound up about 50-50. After a scandal involving the then-superintendent and a top aide and the board’s slowness to do anything, many believed there would be tight contests for the four school board seats up for election this year.

One board member drew no opposition, while another, perhaps in part sensing public anger, did not seek re-election. That left two seats with incumbents and an open seat for the nonpartisan election in Tuesday’s primary.

Incumbent Lori Cunningham received more than 50 percent of the vote and was returned for her fourth four-year term.

But the other incumbent, Hunt Berryman, was a very distant second to the first-time candidate and school board critic Billy Townsend in the three-way race. Still, Townsend must now contend with Berryman in a runoff.

Becky Troutman, wife of former Florida House member and potential 2018 Cabinet candidate Baxter Troutman, led by 9,000 votes in the four-way race for the open school board seat, but did not get the required 50 percent of the vote. She will face Sara Beth Reynolds in the general election.

The most surprising win from a vote-margin standpoint was the re-election of Polk County Judge Susan Flood Barberdisciplined for an alleged romantic relationship with her bailiff.

She had been the target of some Republican leaders, who released photos of her looking at state attorney’s evidence against her while a deposition was in recess. Barber apparently didn’t realize the room’s security cameras were on, they said. It is a nonpartisan race, but so what? Parties don’t care when trying to elect one of their own.

But Barber was returned to the bench, winning by a margin of 5,500 votes over challenger Carson Bassett, due in part to a last-minute Facebook post from a well-known local attorney who endorsed her.

The results of Tuesday’s Primary elections in Polk County:

Polk Democratic Primary 9th Congressional District

Susannah Randolph – 4,791/34.67 percent

Dena Grayson – 4,534/32.81 percent

Darren Soto – 3,526/25.52 percent

Valleri Crabtree – 968/7 percent

Democratic Primary Entire 9th Congressional District

Darren Soto – 14,496/36.26 percent

Susannah Randolph – 11,267/28.18 percent     

Dena Grayson – 11,122/27.82 percent

Valleri Crabtree – 3,093/7.74 percent

Polk Republican Primary 9th Congressional District

Wayne Liebnitzky – 9,662/66.33 percent

Wanda Rentas – 4,904/33.67 percent

Republican Primary Entire 9th Congressional District

Wayne Liebnitzky – 22,725/67.56 percent

Wanda Rentas – 10,911/32.44 percent

Polk Republican Primary Florida House District 41

Sam Killebrew – 5,134/51.26 percent

Charles Davis – 4,881/48.74 percent

Polk Democratic Primary Florida House District 41

Bob Doyel – 5,360/64.95 percent

Nicolas Garcia  2,892/35.05 percent

Polk County Commission (Universal Ballot)

Bill Braswell – 40,889/66.21 percent

J.C. Martin – 20,868/33.79 percent

Polk County Judge

Susan Barber – 36,026/54.13 percent

Carson Bassett – 30,530/45.87 percent

Polk County School Board District 1

Billy Townsend (Runoff) – 27,978/42.64 percent

Hunt Berryman (Runoff) – 21,500/32.77 percent

Ed Shoemaker – 16,135/24.59 percent

Polk County School Board District 2

Lori Cunningham (Elected)  33,391/51.99 percent

Ronnie L. Clark – 17,202/26.78 percent

Kevin J. Kitto – 7,000/10.90 percent

Tim James – 6,634/10.33 percent

Polk County School Board District 4

Becky Troutman (Runoff) – 25,105/38.26 percent

Sara Beth Reynolds (Runoff) – 16,466/25.10 percent

Ed Smith – 16,085/24.52 percent

Rebekah Ricks – 7,956 /12.13 percent


Endorsement Watch: Florida Medical Association, Florida Retail Federation, SEIU Florida and others issue endorsements

There are just a few weeks until the election, and organizations across the state are rolling out endorsements for state and federal candidates.

Several organizations — the Florida Medical Association, the Florida Retail Federation, and the Service Employees International Union Florida — issued endorsements.

Rebecca Negron has received the backing of James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family and Family Talk.

“It is my pleasure to be among the many solid conservatives who are supporting Rebecca Negron’s candidacy for the United States House of Representatives for Florida’s 18th Congressional District,” said Dobson in his endorsement letter. “As a private individual, I am honored to endorse Rebecca Negron for Congress, and pray that her election will be the start of a new generation of leaders who will return this nation to the constitutional principles upon which it was founded.”

Negron faces Republicans Carl Domino, Mark Freeman, Rick Kozell, Brian Mast, and Noelle Nikpour in the Aug. 30 primary.

“I am honored to have the prayers and endorsement of Dr. James Dobson,” said Negron. “I appreciate Dr. Dobson’s influence on a generation of families, including my own. I support his focus on traditional family values and the sanctity of human life. I also thank him for his kind words.”

GREY2K USA has endorsed Dana Young in Senate District 18.

“On behalf of our more than 100,000 supporters, we are happy to endorse your campaign for Florida Senate,” said Carey M. Theil, executive director of GREY2K USA. “We look forward to working with you in Tallahassee on greyhound protection issues. Together, I know we can make a real difference for the dogs!”

Young faces Democrat Bob Buesing in the November general election.

“Some of the most important groups are founded to fight for those, such as greyhounds, who cannot protect themselves,” said Young in a statement. “I am pleased to have received an endorsement from GREY2K USA, who has continually fought to end the practice of greyhound racing and enact stronger laws against it. I look forward to the opportunity to work with GREY2K USA to ensure the fair and proper treatment of greyhounds.”

The Florida Nurses Association Political Action Committee has endorsed Matt Hudson in Senate District 28.

“We ask that you continue to be open to hearing the ideas and potential solutions put forward by others who share our hopes and dreams for a better future for our children,” wrote Bonnie Sklaren, chairwoman of the Florida Nurses Association Political Action Committee.

Hudson faces Republican Kathleen Passidomo in the Aug. 30 primary.

“Our nurses are an invaluable part of our community and the entire state of Florida, working for the betterment and health of all Floridians,” said Hudson in a statement. “Throughout my service in the Florida House, I was proud to be an advocate on behalf of our nurses, which I’m committed to continuing if elected to serve in the Senate.”

Service Employees International Union Florida has endorsed Rena Frazier in House District 59.

“SEIU Florida is proud to endorse Rena Frazier because we know that she will be a champion for working families in her community,” said Monica Russo, the president of SEIU Florida. “Rena understands the importance of fair wages and of creating good-paying jobs locally. We look forward to working with her in the Florida Legislature.”

Frazier faces Democrat Naze Sahebzamani in the Aug. 30 primary.

“I am thrilled to have the endorsement of SEIU Florida,” said Frazier. “I look forward to being a voice in Tallahassee for our working families in House District 59 and across the state of Florida.”

SEIU Florida also endorsed Sean Shaw in House District 61.

“Sean is a candidate Floridians can trust to fight for a $15 minimum wage, improve our education system, and increase healthcare access,” said Russo in a statement. “Our members are proud to enthusiastically endorse him and are encouraging others to help us elect Sean Shaw for State House.”

Shaw faces Democrats Dianna “Ms. Dee” Hart and Walter L. Smith II in the Aug. 30 primary.

“We share a strong dedication to protecting Florida workers and improving the lives of all Floridians,” said Shaw in a statement. “I thank them and their members for their support and look forward to fighting for them in Tallahassee.”

The Florida Medical Association has endorsed Brian Hodgers in House District 52.

“Brian Hodgers is a pro-medicine candidate that we are proud to support,” said Dr. Chris Pittman, president of the Florida Medical Association PAC. “Through working in insurance, he has a keen understanding of the interface between physicians and insurance companies, which will help navigate future issues shared between the two.”

Hodgers faces Republican Thad Altman, Monique Miller and Robert “Fritz” VanVolkenburgh in the Aug. 30 primary.

“We’re encouraged and honored by the Florida Medical Association’s endorsement,” said Hodgers in a statement. “We look forward to working with Florida’s physicians and patients to promote public health, ensure the highest standards of medical practice, and enhance the quality and availability of health care.”

The FMA PAC also endorsed Rep. John Cortes in his House District 3 re-election bid.

“As a member of the Health Innovation Subcommittee, he has a unique understanding of the current healthcare issues affecting our state today,” said Pittman in a statement. “The FMA looks forward to our continued collaboration with him to help physicians practice medicine in Florida.”

Cortes faces the winner of the Aug. 30 Democratic primary in November.

“I am truly thankful and honored to receive the endorsement of Florida doctors,” said Cortes in a statement. “I look forward to continuing to work with these hardworking professionals to improve the quality of healthcare delivery in Florida.”

The FMA PAC also threw its support behind Sam Killebrew in House District 41.

“As a long-time businessman in Polk County, Mr. Killebrew understands the demands of running a business today,” said Pittman. “Many physicians in private practice run business as well and we hope to collaborate on these issues with him in the Florida House.”

Killebrew faces Republican Bob Doyel in the Aug. 30 primary.

“Our communities are very fortunate to have these dedicated professionals looking out for our well-being on a daily basis,” said Killebrew. “I look forward to working with Florida’s doctors as they strive to enhance the quality and availability of health care for our citizens.”

The Florida Retail Federation has endorsed Rebecca Smith in House District 60.

“Rebecca is a proven local business and community leader whose success in launching her own successful small business shows that her input and experience will be a tremendous addition to the Florida House,” said Randy Miller, the president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation. “We look forward to Rebecca bringing her knowledge and expertise to help pass laws and reduce regulations to help support Florida businesses.”

Smith faces Republican Jackie Toledo in the Aug. 30 primary.


15 picks that stand out among the Florida Realtors’ 2016 legislative endorsements

On Friday, the Florida Realtors PAC made its endorsements for the 2016 election cycle.

There are more than 400 candidates who have qualified to run for the 160 seats in the Florida House of Representatives and Florida Senate. According to a release from the organization, candidates were evaluated on numerous factors, including their voting record on issues relevant to the real estate profession.

Among these issues, says Bill Furst, chair of the Florida Realtors PAC Trustees, is how to make “Florida a fair regulatory and low-tax state that helps create and maintain a vibrant state economy and strong real estate market.”

Most of the Realtors’ endorsements are in line with those of other pro-growth organizations, such as the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Associated Industries.

Here are some of the Realtors’ recommendations which stand out:

— In the ultra-competitive race for Senate District 1, the Realtors are backing Doug Broxson over Mike Hill, both currently serving in the Florida House.

— It’s shocking to see the Realtors backing Dean Asher in SD 13 (just kidding, we all know Asher is a top priority for the profession).

— The Realtors are weighing in in one tough Senate primary and staying out of another: They’re staying out of SD 23, but they’re backing Matt Hudson over Kathleen Passidomo in SD 28.

— The Realtors are rallying behind Jeff Clemens in SD 31, where Irv Slosberg is also running.

— The Realtors endorsed Mel Ponder over Wayne Harris and Jonathan Tallman in the competitive Republican primary for HD 4. Neither AIF nor the Chamber endorsed in this race, so winning the Realtors’ backing may be one way for Ponder to separate himself from the field.

— Like AIF, the Realtors are backing Democratic incumbent Loranne Ausley in HD 9.

— There are a slew of open seats up for grabs in northeast Florida. In HDs 11-14, there is an abundance of candidates running. Some organizations are taking a wait-and-see approach before endorsing in these races. Not the Realtors PAC. It’s making bets on Cord Byrd in HD 11, Clay Yarborough in HD 12 and Terry Fields in HD 14.

— The Realtors PAC likes former Florida GOP Chairwoman Leslie Dougher over Katherine Van Zant, wife of incumbent Charles Van Zant, in HD 19.

— The Realtors are also playing in HD 21, another wide-open seat. They like Wenda Lewis over Chuck Clemmons and four other candidates for this seat.

— One of the most competitive races is in HD 41, where Sam Killebrew is facing off against Charles Davis in the GOP primary. Killebrew earlier won AIF’s endorsement. He now has the Realtors.

— In one of the few open Democratic primaries, the Realtors have endorsed Alex Barrio over Amy Mercado.

— Rebecca Smith is the Realtors preferred choice in the battleground seat of HD 60.

— Democrats Ben Diamond and Eric Lynn appear to be trading endorsement blows with each other in the race for HD 68. The Realtors are backing Lynn.

— In the four-way Democratic primary for HD 87, the Realtors are backing David Silvers.

— The Realtors are backing Kelly Skidmore over Emily Slosberg in HD 91.

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