Steve Crisafulli Archives - Florida Politics

Neil Combee praises Richard Corcoran, others in resignation letter

House District 39 Rep. Neil Combee has set the date: He will officially leave the Florida House for his new job as the Florida’s State Director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency on Nov. 24.

Combee announced the decision in a Wednesday letter House Speaker Richard Corcoran, and called the five years and change he has spent representing Polk and Osceola counties in the House “the honor of a lifetime.”

“I have and always will maintain there is no greater privilege than to be selected by your neighbors to be their voice in government – at any level,” he wrote.

The Trump Administration tapped the Auburndale Republican for the FSA gig by way of U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue Friday, and while it was unclear at first whether he would have to give up his part-time job as a state legislator, he told the News Chief Monday that he “can’t do both.”

In his exit, he had nothing but positive things to say about Corcoran and his predecessors who’ve had their turns at the helm since Combee won his first term in 2012.

“I want to take a moment to thank you and your leadership team for bringing unprecedented accountability and transparency to the way the Florida House conducts its business. In light of recent events, these reforms could not be timelier,” he wrote.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out, that under the leadership of members like Representative Jose Oliva and Speakers Steve Crisafulli and Will Weatherford, we have made great strides in protecting Florida’s families, improving Florida’s schools and keeping government accountable.”

“… I must repeat one last time; it has been the honor of a lifetime to serve in the Florida Legislature.”

Combee closed the letter by asking Corcoran to allow his district office to remain open so it could continue serving HD 39 constituents.

The third-term representative’s exit will require Gov. Rick Scott to set another special election, the seventh such contest for the Florida Legislature in the past year and fifth for the House. Even with the most expedient dates, Combee’s exit will leave HD 39 without a representative during the 2018 Legislative Session, which begins in January.

House District 72 is in the same boat due to the abrupt exit of freshman Rep. Alex Miller two months ago, as is Senate District 31, which opened up at the end of October due to the resignation of Lake Worth Democrat Jeff Clemens.

Regardless of when the dates are set, nobody will have to wait on Combee’s endorsement.

Republican Josie Tomkow filed shortly after news of Combee’s appointment spread, and the 22-year-old agribusiness woman and UF alumna has already earned his backing.

“Josie is ready and prepared for this next step in her public service.  She will represent our area well and continue the fight for conservative values in the halls of the Florida capitol,” Combee said when she filed.

Combee’s letter is attached below.

Richard Corcoran committee raised $445K in September

House Speaker Richard Corcoran brought in another $445,000 for his political committee and possible governor’s race fund, “Watchdog PAC,” between Sept. 1 and Oct. 9 according to reports available on the committee’s website.

The committee has now raised $4.4 million total since Corcoran started it up in June, and has just shy of $3.9 million on hand.

The largest contribution last month was a $100,000 check from The Voice of Florida Business, a political committee tied to the Associated Industries of Florida. Following the six-figure check is a three-way tie between Miami auto dealer and former Philadelphia Eagles owner Norman Braman, Wal‐Mart Stores, and Conservative Principles of Florida. Each gave $50,000.

A committee controlled by Republican Rep. Jason Brodeur chipped in $30,000, while a number of other GOP movers and shakers came in at the $25,000 level.

Among them are former House Speaker Steve Crisafulli through his Growing Florida’s Future committee, political consultant Anthony Pedicini through Citizens Alliance for Florida’s Economy, and Rep. Jamie Grant through Floridians for Liberty and Innovation.

Corcoran’s committee received the money across just 27 contributions. And one of those, a $25,000 check from Orlando law firm Newsome Melton, was refunded.

Expenditures clocked in at $265,814 through Oct. 9, with $68,800 of that money heading to Ft. Lauderdale-based Fabrizio, Lee & Associates for surveys, consulting and travel expenses.

Rapid Loop Consulting received $42,500 for consulting work and expenses, followed by D.C.-based Go Big Media which took home about $33,000 for consulting and travel, and Jacksonville-based Political Capital with $20,000 for consulting.

Corcoran has said he is waiting to announce his future plans after the 2018 Legislative Session, which ends in March.

Currently, the only two major Republicans running to succeed Rick Scott as Florida governor are Adam Putnam and Jack Latvala. Putnam’s fundraising has reached the double-digit millions through his committee, Florida Grown, and campaign accounts, while Latvala has a few million of his own in his committee, much of it left over from his campaign to be Senate President.

Wilton Simpson’s committee raised $209K in September

Future Senate President Wilton Simpson brought in more than $200,000 through his political committee last month, and forked over half that sum to the committee supporting GOP candidates for state senate.

The Trilby Republican’s committee, Jobs for Florida, raised $209,500 in September, with a good chunk of that money coming in through a handful of large checks.

Heritage Property & Casualty Insurance gave $50,000, while the Florida Medical Association, Mosaic Global Sales and a political committee tied to former House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, Growing Florida’s Future, chipped in $25,000 each. Florida Blue and the Florida Hospital Association also made the donor roll with $20,000 contributions.

The committee’s spending clocked in at $204,700 for September, but $100,000 of that money went directly into the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, chaired by Senate President Joe Negron and used to help Republican senate campaigns statewide.

Citizens Alliance for Florida’s Economy, chaired by uber political consultant Anthony Pedicini, got a $20,000 contribution from Simpson’s committee.

Also on the expense report were Capital Finance Consulting, which received $50,500 for fundraising and consulting work, and Meteoric Media Strategies, which was paid $22,500 for consulting.

With September in the books, Jobs for Florida has about $1.63 million in cash on hand. Simpson, who is almost certain to take over as Senate president in 2020, has another $280,000 on hand for his 2018 re-election bid.

Marco Rubio, Mel Martinez, Connie Mack III headline Mike Miller fundraiser

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, former U.S. Sens. Mel Martinez and Connie Mack III, and former Lt Gov. Toni Jennings headline a long host list for a congressional campaign fundraiser for state Rep. Mike Miller of Winter Park this week.

The Thursday evening, $500 per person fundraiser at the Country Club of Orlando aims to boost Miller’s campaign to first defeat fellow Republican candidate Scott Sturgill, a Sanford businessman, and then to take on Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy in the 2018 election.

The list of dozens of hosts, featuring Jennings and Martinez, two popular and once-powerful figures in Central Florida politics, also includes numerous current and former local Republican power brokers such as timeshare magnate David Siegel, airports board chairman Frank Kruppenbacher, attorney Marcos Marchena, financier Phil Handy, and former Walt Disney World President Dick Nunis.

Former U.S. Reps. Ric Keller and Connie Mack IV, and former Florida House Speakers Dean Cannon and Steve Crisafulli. also are among the listed hosts.

Miller, of Winter Park, hopes to re-flip Florida’s 7th Congressional District seat that Murphy won from Republican former U.S. Rep. John Mica of Winter Park, who had served the district for 24 years before Murphy came along. The district covers Seminole County and north and central Orange County.

Bobby Olszewski HD 44 fundraiser packed with Republican leaders

The Republican primary for House District 44 may have deeply split support from top Republicans but now that Bobby Olszewski has won he’s bringing much of that together behind his special election campaign.

Olszewski’s campaign announced a fundraiser set for the evening of Aug. 30 that will feature the current speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, the next three most-likley speakers, several past speakers, plus scores of other Republican leaders, including quite a few who had supported Olszewski’s opponents in last week’s primary.

The fundraiser is set for the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort, with contributions of up to $1,000 per person.

Olszewski won the Aug. 15 Republican primary and now faces Democrat Paul Chandler in an Oct. 10 special election to fill the vacant seat representing southwest Orange County.

Among those set to attend the fundraiser are Florida Speaker Richard Corcoran and speaker designates Jose Oliva, Chris Sprowls, and Paul Renner, along with special guest U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster, a longtime Olszewski supporter who also is a former speaker of the Florida House. Other past Florida House speakers Steve Crisafulli, Tom Feeney, Mike Haridopolos, and Will Weatherford also are among the named guests.

The supporters listed for the fundraiser also include Bruno Portigliatti and Usha Jain, two of the Republican candidates whom Olszewski defeated in the Aug. 15 primary. The fourth in that primary, John Newstreet, is not included, but a number of his former backers are, including state Reps. Jason Brodeur, Bob Cortes, Mike La Rosa, Mike Miller, and Rene Plasencia.

 

Bobby Olszewski fundraisers set for Orlando, Miami in HD 44 race

Republican House District 44 candidate Bobby Olszewski is rolling out his endorsement backers for two major fundraisers late this month as he gears up for what will be a big special election primary battle in Orange County.

One fundraiser, set for the Shutts and Bowen law firm in Orlando on May 30, features the trio of honorary hosts U.S. Rep. Dan Webster, former House Speaker Steve Crisafulli and former Senate President Mike Haridopolos.

It also features 30 other hosts who cover a who’s-who of local politics in west Orange County, where HD 44 is located.

The other fundraiser is set for the next night at SMGQ Law Firm in Coral Gables.

The HD 44 race has not been scheduled for a special election yet, but it will be, because incumbent state Rep. Eric Eisnaugle who is leaving for an appeals court judicial appointment to Florida’s 5th District Court of Appeals,

And earlier this week the HD 44 Republican primary contest, seen by Republicans as an important seat with a strong track to a speaker’s job, became a battle, with the entry of Kissimmee chamber CEO John Newstreet.

Olszewski has spent the past couple of months lining up endorsements, and he’ll be rolling out those people at his Orland fundraiser.

Among dozens of other hosts listed are Winter Park Mayor Ken Bradley, Windermere Mayor Gary Bruhn, Belle Isle Mayor Bill Brooks, Orange County School Board Members Joie Cadle, Christine Moore, and Linda Kobert, former Orange County Clerk of Courts Eddie Fernandez, Ocoee Mayor Rusty Johnson, Apopka Mayor Joe Kilsheimer, Orlando Commissioner Tony Ortiz, Lake County Commissioner Sean Parks, and Winter Garden Mayor John Rees.

Ag. Commish candidate Denise Grimsley introduces herself to Tampa Republicans

Republican Agriculture Commissioner candidate Denise Grimsley made the first of what should be many visits to Tampa during the next year-and-a-half, introducing herself to local Republicans and speaking about her credentials as to why she’s the best candidate to succeed Adam Putnam.

Like Putnam, she’s a fifth-generation Floridian, but unlike him, she had an entire career outside of politics before being elected in 2004 to represent Highlands County in the Florida House.

Grimsley spent 17 years in the health care field. She also spent time as a citrus grower and rancher when she took over for her ailing father at the Grimsley Oil Company.

“When I did that, I started seeing how government impacted our day-to-day life,” Grimsley told the Hillsborough County Republican Executive Committee, which gathered at the River at Tampa Bay Church Tuesday night. Before that, she said, she had little interest in the workings of government.

“Up until then, even at my job at the hospital. I didn’t have a lot of involvement with state government or the federal government, but when I started running this company I saw how the Department of Transpiration oversaw our business, I saw how the Department of Agriculture oversaw our business, every single state agency had their  hand in our business in one way or another,” she said.

As chairwoman of the Florida Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Stores Association, Grimsley said that she spent an entire legislative session in Tallahassee and was met mostly with ignorance or indifference. That experience ultimately led to her decision to run for the state House in 2004, where she served until 2012.

She then won in Senate District 26 (representing eight different counties) in 2012, but said she didn’t seriously consider running for Ag. Commissioner until former House Speaker Steve Crisafulli announced in January that he would not be running for the position.

She says she’s concerned about citrus greening and other diseases that are wreaking havoc with Florida growers. She believes her public and private sector experience make the best candidate for the job.

Before the meeting began, an aide to Grimsley asked members of the audience to sign a petition to get Grimsley on the ballot. She says she would be the first statewide Republican candidate since the 1990s to qualify for the ballot by petition … She needs more than 118,000 signatures by next summer.

Other Republicans running for the position include Paul Paulson and North Fort Myers Representative Matt Caldwell, who has just released his first campaign video.

As HD 44 special election candidates’ watch begins, Bobby Olszewski nabs Steve Crisafulli’s backing

Republican Bobby Olszewski has grabbed another endorsement – former House Speaker Steve Crisafulli – in his campaign to win election in Florida House District 44, now heading for a special election this summer with the resignation of incumbent state Rep. Eric Eisnaugle of Windermere.

His endorsements, which include numerous local officials from west Orange County, and his fundraising, which brought in $21,000 last month, may be hedging not against current opponents so much as against other Republicans contemplating jumping into the now short race.

No special election dates have been set yet, but an announcement from the Florida Division of Elections, through Gov. Rick Scott, is expected to set a primary in mid-summer and a general election soon after, creating the opportunity for a quick campaign.

Among those considering jumping in are former Republican Orange County Commissioner Scott Boyd and Republican personal injury lawyer Will McBride, who finished second in a four-way Republican primary for the U.S. Senate in 2006.

Also being discussed in Orange County as considering runs for HD 44 is Rich Maladecki, president of the Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association, though he also is said to have decided to not run. . Maladecki was not available Wednesday to comment.

A special election is sure to drive down turnout, unless Democrats can deliver on their promise to mobilize their forces this summer in HD 44, covering much of western Orange County. And in a district that favors Republicans by about 8 percent, it’s likely to be a district the Republicans can count on.

One Democrat, Orlando businessman Paul Chandler, has entered the race. Another Republican has entered, Dr. Usha Jain, though she said she is largely running for the opportunity to express her desire for reform in politics. Chandler reported raising $695 in April, and spent $549 of it on campaign promotion. Jain has not raised any money.

Boyd, who left the county commission last year after being term limited with eight years in, said he is following matters closely and “strongly considering it,” but has made no decisions. Boyd’s former District 1 seat on the Orange County Commission includes most of HD 44. He has campaigned and won there twice.

McBride also ran but aborted a campaign for House District 27 primary last year, when the dominos affect of U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio‘s decision to seek re-election pushed state Rep. David Santiago to jump in late, to seek re-election.

McBride, who maintains homes in both Orange Park, allowing for the HD 27 run last year, and in Windermere, in HD 44, said he has retained his campaign team from his 2016 run, and is discussing the special election prospect with them, and with potential donors.

“I’m strongly considering it at this point,” he said.

Money might not be an issue for McBride, who founded a law firm with offices in Orlando, Kissimmee, Tampa, and five other states. In the 2016 race, he lent his own campaign $250,000, though the campaign paid $172,000 of that back to him after he withdrew from the contest.

Endorsements are where Olszewski, a former Winter Garden commissioner who ran for Orange County Commission last year, might have to build a firewall.

Crisafulli joined several dozen Olszewski endorsements, including those of Apopka Mayor Joe Kilsheimer, Ocoee Mayor Rusty Johnson, Windermere Mayor Gary Bruhn, and Winter Garden Mayor John Rees.

Today, State House candidate Robert “Bobby” Olszewski announced the endorsement of Central Florida leader and former Speaker of the House, Steve Crisafulli.

“As a former Speaker, I know firsthand just how important it is that local communities have strong and conservative representation in the Florida House and that is why I’m proud to support my friend Bobby Olszewski for State House District 44,” Crisafulli said in a news release issued by Olszewski’s campaign. “Bobby O has proven to be a tireless and dedicated servant for Winter Garden and West Orange County. He will serve the community he loves with dedication and distinction and I’m happy to endorse his candidacy.”

 

Third Republican files for House District 51

Republican Tim Tumulty announced Monday he would run again for House District 51, where he unsuccessfully challenged Republican Rep. Tom Goodson last year.

“I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had over the years to develop a deep understanding of our community,” said Tumulty. “As the former Mayor of Cocoa Beach, I saw firsthand how the decisions made in Tallahassee have a direct impact on our community and our way of life.”

“I plan to continue to fight for our conservative values in the Florida House by keeping taxes low, developing more trade school opportunities for our children and holding our government accountable,” he continued. “I look forward to meeting with as many people as I can on the campaign trail and the opportunity to represent their interests in Tallahassee.”

Goodson switched to the reliably Republican HD 51 from HD 50 last year after former House Speaker Steve Crisafulli termed out of the Legislature. He beat Tumulty with 61.7 percent of the vote in the August 2016 Republican Primary.

Goodson is now termed out, making way for Tumulty and a pair of other Republicans to duke it out for the Space Coast seat. So far, Thomas O’Neill and Taylor Sirois are the only other candidates to enter the race.

Both candidates filed for the seat in April, so neither has filed their first campaign finance report.

When he ran for the seat last cycle, Tumulty was able to raise nearly $30,000, $6,500 through loans and about $23,000 through contributions.

The Cocoa Beach Republican holds degrees from Brevard Community College, the University of Central Florida and the Florida Institute of Technology.

He currently works as a math and physics teacher at Cocoa Beach Jr./Sr. High School, and in the past has worked in restaurant management, as a mortgage broker, and as an electrical engineer at Kennedy Space Center.

Since he officially filed on April 28, his first campaign finance report, covering the last three days of the month, is due May 10 alongside the inaugural reports from O’Neill and Sirois.

Matt Caldwell plans run for Agriculture Commissioner this summer

State Rep. Matt Caldwell is planning to file paperwork this summer in a bid for Florida Agriculture Commissioner.

Caldwell, a North Fort Myers Republican, on Thursday said he has “every intention of filing to run in August.” Caldwell, first elected in 2010, will be term limited in 2018.

The 35-year-old, chair of the House’s Government Accountability Committee, has been rumored to be considering a run since former House Speaker Steve Crisafulli announced he wouldn’t seek the seat.

“I was fully ready to support Steve Crisafulli,” said Caldwell. “I never really thought about (running for the seat) until he suggested it.”

A lifelong Floridian, Caldwell has spent much of his career in the Legislature focused on environmental and agricultural issues, a background that could serve him well.

He organized a recent helicopter tour for reporters from the Miami Herald and POLITICO to view Everglades restoration efforts.

“It’s wonderful and I enjoy it, but we created the water conservation areas,” he told the Herald. “That’s former farmland that we turned back into marsh in the ’60s, so if I could just build a reservoir today and spend half as much, I could put it there on 60,000 acres.”

Last year, Caldwell – a real estate appraiser – passed on the race to succeed Curt Clawson in the state’s 19th Congressional District. Naples Republican Francis Rooney later won the seat. 

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