Sean Shaw Archives - Florida Politics

Ashley Moody easily defeats Sean Shaw to become next Attorney General

History repeats: Another Tampa Bay-area prosecutor will be Florida’s Attorney General.

Republican Ashley Moody, a former judge and prosecutor, came out ahead in the statewide race to be Florida’s chief legal officer. She defeated Democratic state Rep. Sean Shaw, also of Tampa.

With 99.2 percent of precincts reporting statewide, Moody had more than 52 percent of the vote to Shaw’s nearly 46 percent. No-party candidate Jeffrey Marc Siskind also received just under 2 percent of the vote.

Moody called the outcome “an honor” while standing Tuesday night with her family and Bondi before supporters at the Renaissance Tampa International Plaza Hotel in Tampa.

“The preparation for this role really began a long time ago, beginning with my father, a judge who taught me that the strength and resilience of our society hinges on a fair judicial system,” she said. “Not only a fair judicial system, but one that is perceived as fair. And I will work towards that end every day as the attorney general.”

Shaw told supporters Tuesday night “we came so close,” but he said Democrats will have to review how they engaged with voters, particularly about Trump.

“Something is weird, and we have to figure that out,” Shaw said. “The voters aren’t wrong. You’re wrong in talking to them, or we didn’t do a good enough job convincing. Democrats around Florida, we’re going to figure this out.”

The incoming Attorney General won her spot with the support of outgoing Attorney General Pam Bondi, who got on board early with Moody’s candidacy.

Bondi, a longtime colleague of Moody’s in Tampa Bay’s legal community, supported the candidate through a contentious Republican primary against lawmaker Frank White.

Shaw, the son of the late Florida Supreme Court Justice Leander Shaw, beat Ryan Torrens to secure the Democratic nomination in a fight that got tense, with Shaw at one point forcing Torrens off the ballot.

The fight leading into the general election largely centered around Shaw’s vision for an activist Attorney General. He promised not to spend office resources fighting unconstitutional laws and to take a proactive position fighting Florida’s opioid epidemic.

Meanwhile, Moody promised to be a strong ally of law enforcement. Advertisements promoting her candidacy noted a history of putting criminals in jail both from the bench and as a prosecutor.

She racked up the highest number of endorsements from state attorneys, sheriffs and police chiefs during the run-up to the election.

At the same time, she hit Shaw for his lack of courtroom experience.

But Shaw tallied a solid number of endorsements from lawmakers and politicians.

Notably, the Police Benevolent Association, which backed Moody and Shaw in their respective primaries, largely stayed out of the general election fight, occasionally defending the honor of candidates but issuing no endorsements.

Moody, 43, outspent Shaw, 40,  $8.8 million to $4.1 million through their campaign accounts and affiliated political committees.


The News Service of Florida contributed to this post.

Blue wave or not, Pinellas Democrats are fired up

Tampa Bay-area Democrats are pooling resources for get-out-the-vote efforts in St. Petersburg.

Congressman Charlie Crist joined candidates Lindsay Cross, Jennifer Webb and Sean Shaw at Webb’s House District 69 campaign headquarters in the Tyrone area to call voters who have not yet cast a ballot either on Election Day or during early voting.

“Do you have a plan to vote,” Cross, who is running for Florida Senate against incumbent Jeff Brandes, asked. “You do. Will you be voting Democrat?”

There was a pause, followed by a grin.

“Probably. Ok, we’ll take probably.”

Cross and the others chuckled as she hung up the phone.

About 20 volunteers crammed into the small office, cellphones in hand. Cross and Webb sat on the floor under a window — Cross’ shoes sat next to her in a clear indication of a race hard traveled.

Senate District 24 candidate Lindsay Cross phone banks on Election Day.

Everyone, including the candidates, had stacks of voter information. Most of the names on the list were Democrats, but some were no party affiliation or third party. All had not voted, but had an estimated probability of voting of at least 50 percent.

There were thousands upon thousands of names. Democrats need those voters to head to the polls on Election Day. As of 1 p.m., 4,000 more Republicans had cast a ballot than Democrats.

“That’s pretty normal,” said Pinellas County Democratic Party Chair Susan McGrath. “We’ll see a surge this evening when people start getting off work.”

Pinellas County Democratic volunteers phone bank on Election Day.

That optimism was universal.

“I feel really good,” Crist said.

He thinks Democrats will win back enough seats in Congress to take control of the U.S. House of Representatives. But he’s not sure if that will be by a landslide or a nudge.

“It’s just hard to say,” he said.

Crist’s seat is safe. He’s widely favored to defeat Republican George Buck for his Congressional District 13 seat. Cross, on the other hand, is facing a tough challenge against an incumbent who has outraised her by $1 million.

“I feel great,” Cross said, heading out the door to wave signs on the busy 66th Street near Tyrone Mall.

Outside, two teenagers saw the politicians coming and going, some carrying signs, all wearing campaign T-shirts. They asked some questions. A few minutes later they showed up with their dad.

“What time should I pick them up,” he asked.

His kids wanted to stay to phone bank.

Pinellas County election AM rush favored Republicans

Voter turnout in Pinellas County after the Election Day morning rush is favoring Republicans.

Democrats had a slight early turnout edge heading into Election Day, but Republicans stormed the polls a little hard than Democrats.

Total voter turnout as of 11:00 a.m. separated the two parties 134,000 to 131,000 with Republicans out performing at the polls so far 22,000 to 18,000.

Total voter turnout in the county is 51 percent — only 6 percent less than the entire election turnout in the 2014 midterm election.

Preliminary voting patterns show another potential kick to Democrats in their quest of a “blue wave.”

In 2014, 44 percent of no party affiliation voters and 56 percent of third party voters cast ballots. This year the two groups combined have turned out 38 percent of the vote, far lower than the overall county average.

Democrats were hoping for high turnout among independent voters who might vote blue as turmoil surrounds the Republican Party and President Donald Trump’s divisive White House.

Still progressives are fighting up until the last minute trying to turn out the vote. Pinellas County Democrats joined forces to cross campaign with Congressman Charlie Crist, Attorney General candidate Sean Shaw, Florida House District 69 candidate Jennifer Webb and Senate District 24 candidate Lindsay Cross.

Crist is pretty safe in his Congressional District 13 race, but Webb, Cross and Shaw are all running competitive races.

The campaigns are canvassing neighborhoods and looking for people who still have not voted. The message to many is simple: Vote like the election is up to you, because it is.

Mid-day turnout at the polls is typically low as voters spend their days working, but another surge is expected once people start getting off work. Candidates and their supporters are using the downtime to phone bank voters who still haven’t voted and walk as many neighborhoods as possible.

Safe this election, Charlie Crist hits the trail for other Democrats

Democratic Congressman Charlie Crist is looking at an easy re-election Tuesday against a less than formidable challenge from Republican George Buck.

That’s likely why he’s spending his time campaigning with other Democrats throughout the state to help them get elected.

Crist started his Saturday in Tampa near Ybor City making the rounds with Chris King, the Lieutenant Governor nominee running with Democrat Andrew Gillum.

Then he made his way through several different canvassing kickoffs in Pinellas County to support local Democrats.

“President Obama put it better than anybody: This election is about the character of America,” Crist said.

“Do we want to be uniters or dividers; do we want to be hopeful or fearful? I hear from a lot of people that are very concerned about the tone in our country right now and the rhetoric and the violence that we’ve sadly witnessed.”

Crist says he’s fed up with modern political discourse, particularly from President Donald Trump, that emphasizes vitriol and potentially promotes violence rather than unity.

The man accused of sending pipe bombs to more than a dozen prominent Democratic officials and supporters — including former President Barack Obama, 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and top Democratic donor George Soros — lived in South Florida and drove a white van plastered in pro-Trump stickers and propaganda.

Crist also mentioned the anti-Semitic shooter in Pittsburgh that shot up a Jewish synagogue, claiming the lives of 11 congregants.

“I think it makes a difference,” Crist said of the recent incidents. “Any significant event that touches your heart makes a difference. It’s not about politics, it’s about our character.”

Obama made that point in a Friday appearance in Miami supporting Gillum for Governor and incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson for U.S. Senate.

In a nod to Crist’s predecessor, former U.S. Rep. David Jolly who left the Republican Party and said he voted for Gillum, Obama said the two probably don’t see eye-to-eye on political issues.

But Jolly recognized the rhetoric coming from the Trump White House and couldn’t support Ron DeSantis, who closely aligns with and supports Trump.

More significantly, DeSantis was endorsed by the president, which almost certainly clinched the Republican nomination for Governor this August over otherwise GOP heir apparent Adam Putnam, the state’s term-limited Agriculture Commissioner. 

In addition to Gillum and Nelson, Crist also is urging voters to support Democrats in Florida cabinet races. That includes Sean Shaw for Attorney General and Nikki Fried for Agriculture Commissioner.

Those races and legislative runs are important for Democrats because if Gillum is elected, he’ll need allies in the House, Senate and on the Cabinet to support his campaign priorities.

One of the most notable is Gillum’s plan to raise teacher pay to at least $50,000, and better fund Florida’s public schools and its students.

If he ever needs help in Congress, he’ll likely have Crist’s ear, too. In a hint at his popularity, Crist – who unseated the one-termer Jolly 52 percent-48 percent in 2016 — raised more than $2 million for his first re-election bid. The Republican Buck only brought in just under $30,000, as of the end of September.

In a telling note, Crist also recently sent an email supporting Jacky Rosen, the Democratic nominee for Senate in Nevada.

“This is an important election and Florida is at the epicenter of it all,” Crist said.

“We are the largest swing state. What we do Tuesday is going to send a message to the rest of the country.”

Everytown for Gun Safety

Everytown for Gun Safety spends $450K on last-minute mail campaign

Everytown For Gun Safety, a gun-control group co-founded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, has poured $455,000 into a direct mail campaign according to a newly filed campaign finance report.

The national branch of the org, Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund, funneled $465,000 to its state-level PAC, Everytown for Gun Safety Victory Fund Florida, on Tuesday. The Florida fund plunked nearly all of that money down on a quartet of direct mail buys through The Pivot Group, a Washington-based political strategy firm.

The Pivot Group received $308,000 for another pair of direct mail campaigns on Oct. 26.

The Oct. 30 report contains the committee’s transactions since state law forced committee and candidate accounts to accelerate to daily finance reporting.

Prior to paying for a new slate of mailers, the state-level committee had spent $2.6 million since it set up shop in mid-September. The bulk of that sum, $1.99 million, went to another DC firm, Bully Pulpit Interactive for online ads, while another $260,000 paid for mailers through Massachusetts-based Wildfire Contact.

In addition to playing in the Florida elections with a state-level PAC, the national committee has spent another $600,000 boosting candidates on both sides of the aisle.

Incoming Senate President Bill Galvano, a Republican, has been on the receiving end of most of that cash. Everytown has sent his political committee, Innovate Florida, two checks totaling $500,000 since September.

The other $100,000 went Democrats.

Democratic Ag. Commissioner nominee Nikki Fried took in half of that cash via her committee Florida Consumers First, while the other $50,000 went to Democratic Attorney General nominee Sean Shaw’s committee, Sean Shaw for Florida.

Fox and Shaw

Sean Shaw’s anti-special interest ad features some curious casting

Normally, the extras flanking politicians in TV ads are about as memorable as the stock photo models on direct mailers. They flitter across your eyeballs for a second, before getting tossed into the orange bin in the garage.

Sometimes they’re dressed up as tradesmen, construction workers, college students or, in the case of a recent ad by Democratic Attorney General nominee Sean Shaw, as Floridians with pre-existing conditions.

The mid-October commercial doesn’t flip the script on the Democratic Party’s platform by any stretch. Step one: Attack the special interests, such as the gun lobby, funding the opposition. Step two: Explain how voting blue will get someone in office that’ll work for the people rather than corporate interests.

“Right now, it’s easier for these people to get one of these [a firearm] than to get health insurance if they have a preexisting condition because of politicians like Ashley Moody and the lobbyists that bankroll her campaign,” Shaw says in his 30-second spot.

The message checks all the boxes a campaign ad should, except for one detail.

If the tilt and pan shots weren’t impressive, the commercial’s obviously competent director slickly mixed the focal lengths of his camera to put Shaw in crisp focus and leave the crowd of extras behind him blurred.

But for a couple seconds, as the camera dollies up to the Tampa lawmaker, one extra who certainly didn’t get the job through central casting becomes clearly visible: John Fox.

Fox is an employee of the Florida Justice Association, formerly the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers, which is one of largest special interest groups in the Sunshine State. Of course, Fox and Shaw are also close friends. They’ve even posted pictures of themselves knocking back a beer or two during their downtime.

Fox and Shaw

There’s nothing wrong with giving a friend an opportunity to be on a statewide ad, but it’s a little disingenuous for Shaw to say he’s running to be Florida’s top cop so he can “disarm” certain special interests when he’s apparently pretty chummy with other ones.

Shaw’s ad is below. Fox comes into focus at the 24-second mark.

Jeff Greene pitches in $225K to help Democrats

Former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jeff Greene is making good on his primary campaign promise to help Democrats get elected even if he lost the primary, which he did.

On Thursday, a spokeswoman for Greene announced that this week he contributed $100,000 to a committee supporting Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum‘s gubernatorial campaign, $100,000 to a Democratic U.S. Senate get-out-the-vote effort in support of Sen. Bill Nelson‘s re-election campaign, and $25,000 to a committee supporting Nikki Fried‘s bid to be elected Florida Commissioner of Agriculture.

“I’ve always said: there is nothing more important to me than getting a Democrat in the Governor’s office and sending Rick Scott back to Naples once and for all,” Greene stated in a news release. “These next few days are the most pivotal in this election, and I am proud to do my part when it matters most. When we work together, and vote together, we win together. Let’s ‘Bring it Home.’”

The news release said that Greene previously made contributions to Gillum, Fried and the Florida Attorney General campaign of state Sen. Sean Shaw, as well as in seven state Senate races around the state.

Sean Shaw calls on Ashley Moody to answer for Donald Trump

Democratic state Rep. Sean Shaw, according to polling, is down in the Attorney General race to Republican Ashley Moody.

But Shaw’s campaign seems to be betting that digital spots can turn the tide; it dropped two on Wednesday.

As President Donald Trump makes his way to Florida for a political rally, Shaw is reminding voters that Moody stands with Trump in a new digital spot entitled “Role Model.”

The minute-long ad shows Moody, a former judge from Hillsborough County, extolling President Trump at a “Trump Club” meeting for standing up against the “fake news attacks … brilliantly and without distraction.”

Following that, a series of Trump’s greatest hits in mega-mix form, including the crowd-pleasing tribute to John McCain (“I like war heroes who weren’t captured”), the club banger “President Obama … is the founder of ISIS,” and the ol’ chestnut “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and not lose any voters.”

The scene changes to Moody being asked if Trump was a role model in a debate, with Moody lauding Trump as a role model for “getting things done.”

A second spot (“Change is on the ballot”) is a positive ad, messaging as the title suggests.

“Change is on the ballot,” Shaw says, “from the bottom to the top. And if you want change, you’re going to have to help us get there.”

Bernie Sanders calls on college generation to vote their values

Declaring that he believes them to be the most progressive generation in history, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders told a rally of University of Central Florida students Wednesday that the future is in their hands.

“I happen to believe that the younger generation of America today is the most progressive generation in the history of America,” Sanders said. “You should be very proud of that. You should be proud that you are leading our country in opposition to racism, oppsition to sexism, in opposition to homophobia, in opposition to religious bigotry, and unlike the president of the United States, you know that climate change is real.”

Yet while many polls and social surveys back that up, Sanders and the Democrat he came to promote, Florida gubernatorial nominee Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and everyone else knows that the younger generation also, normally, is the least impactful in elections.

On Wednesday about 400 people, mostly students, filled half the floor and a smattering of seats at the UCF CFE arena, a crowd less than half of the one that came the last time Sanders came to UCF to campaign for Gillum in August. That rousing crowd, which also heard Gillum speak, was perhaps the first major signal that the long-shot Gillum had a real chance to win the Aug. 28 Democratic primary.

Wednesday’s crowd, though drawn by a rally announcement that came just hours before the rally itself, was far short of that. Sanders and the warm-up speakers, who included Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Chris King Democratic attorney general candidate Sean Shaw, state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, and Florida House nominee Anna Eskamani, all laid into the students to vote their progressive values. Afterwards, Smith even led a march from the arena to UCF’s early voting site.

“You are a great and wonderful generation,” Sanders said. “But let me again be very blunt with you about our ideas about economic justice and social justice and environmental justice and racial justice. They don’t mean anything unless participate in the political prociess, unless you come out to vote.”

While Sanders talked briefly about Gillum, he spent much of his speech focusing on issues that he could talk about from a national perspective such as climate change, criminal justice reform, and combating injustice.

It was left largely to Shaw to frame statewide issues, and he framed them as the things that are on the ballot Nov. 6, and to King to go after Gillum’s rival, Republican former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis.

Bernie Sanders to rally votes for Andrew Gillum

Just hours before President Donald Trump rallies voters Wednesday for Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders will appear in Central Florida to back Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum.

Sanders, who drew heavy support from progressive voters as he ran in the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries, is scheduled to appear at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at the University of Central Florida’s CFE Arena in Orlando.

Then he heads to the University of South Florida East Gym in Tampa to rally alongside Democratic Lt. Gov. candidate Chris King and Attorney General candidate Sean Shaw. Doors open at 2 p.m.

Meanwhile, Trump will appear at 7 p.m. at Hertz Arena in Estero, with DeSantis on hand.

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