As of noon Friday, the qualifying period for races for the state House, Senate, and Northeast Florida districts for the U.S. House of Representatives ended.
With that, we will see some with momentum for August primaries, several who managed to run unopposed, and others who will wonder where it all went wrong.
As a result, a review of qualified candidates is in order.
In the race to replace Ander Crenshaw in Florida’s 4th Congressional District, one thing is certain: there will be a closed GOP primary in August, since write-in candidate Daniel Murphy got in, using the slogan Make America Laugh Again.
Democrat David Bruderly entered the race Friday.
Qualified: former Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford, Hans “Rawhide” Tanzler, state Rep. Lake Ray, perennial candidate Deborah Pueschel, St. Johns County Commissioner Bill McClure, and Riverside PR man Stephen Kaufman.
Rutherford looks to be the front-runner in that diverse and splintered field.
In Florida’s 5th Congressional District, the field is more narrow.
Incumbent Corrine Brown and challengers Al Lawson and L.J. Holloway have qualified on the Democratic side; Glo Smith on the GOP ticket will advance to November without competition.
In CD 6, Ron DeSantis will battle State Rep. Fred Costello and G.G. Galloway for re-election. There are Democrats who have qualified, including George Pappas, Dwayne Taylor, Bill McCullough, and Jay McGovern.
Moving on to state Senate races, there is considerably less drama: Senate Districts 4-6 have Aaron Bean, Rob Bradley, and Audrey Gibson facing no competition; Travis Hutson in SD 7 will take on a general election opponent — underfunded Democrat Curtis Ceballos.
Meanwhile, many state House races are shaping up to become quite crowded.
In HD 11, Sheri Treadwell, Donnie Horner, Wayne Bunk, Jack Daniels, and Cord Byrd have qualified for the GOP primary in the race to replace termed-out Janet Adkins. Tom Taylor abandoned his campaign, opting to run instead for the Jacksonville Beach City Council. And a write-in candidate, Walter Haynes, closed the primary, in case any Democrats got any bright ideas about actually voting.
In HD 12, another GOP stronghold, someone will have to replace termed-out Lake Ray.
Already qualified under the Republican line: former Jacksonville City Councilmen Don Redman and Clay Yarborough, current Council assistant Terrance Freeman, and elder care lawyer Mark MacLean.
Also in the mix: former Duval County School Board member and chair and state legislator Stan Jordan, at 78 years young. And write-in candidate Jerry Steckloff was a late filer.
In typically Democratic HD 13, both parties are smelling blood in the water when it comes to incumbent Reggie Fullwood’s political career.
Fullwood has qualified, and will face Democrats Tracie Davis, J.R. Gaillot, and Lee Brown in the primary, happening the same month Fullwood faces 14 federal charges in a Jacksonville courtroom.
The survivor of that scrum will take on a Republican — either pastor Mark Griffin, whose campaign is managed by Duval GOP Vice Chair Sam Newby, or Keith Walters, a Southside resident messaging heavily on Fullwood’s ethical lapses.
Darren Gardner, who had filed, told FloridaPolitics.com that he’s swinging his support to Griffin, and will be working hard, along with Newby, on Griffin’s campaign.
In the typically Democratic HD 14, a Republican — Chris Whitfield — will be on the November ballot against an interesting field of Democrats seeking to replace termed-out Mia Jones.
Former Jacksonville City Councilwoman Kim Daniels, former State Reps. Terry Field and Donald Gaffney, trial lawyer Leslie Jean-Bart, and retired teacher Gracie McCastler have each qualified and are running.
In HD 15, Republican incumbent Jay Fant faces no primary challenge, but write-in Timothy Glidden looms on the November ballot.
In HD 16, the race to replace termed-out Charles McBurney, political lifer Dick Kravitz (backed by the incumbent) takes on newly resigned Duval County School Board member Jason Fischer. That primary was closed by the entrance of write-in George Doran.
In HD 17, political veteran Cyndi Stevenson faces no competition in the safely GOP St. Johns County district. Not even a write-in.
“John Bolton backs Ron DeSantis re-election bids” via Florida Politics – Ambassador Bolton announced his backing of DeSantis’ bid to get re-elected in Florida’s 6th Congressional District. A press release from Bolton’s PAC frames the Florida endorsements as “part of a larger effort by Ambassador Bolton to ensure Republicans maintain their majority in Congress.”
“Hans Tanzler to delay financial disclosure as long as law allows” via Florida Politics – Tanzler will file his financial disclosure form July 29, the latest date allowed by law, after having been approved for an extension from the Ethics Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives … overseas absentee voters will already be voting; the disclosure, delayed until just 30 days before the Aug. 30 primary, will not be available to help inform their decisions … Supervisors of elections must mail absentee ballots to military and overseas citizens no later than 45 days before each election, as per state law.
Save the Dates – Hans Tanzler calls “all conservatives to join him for a series of events in the upcoming week for his campaign.” On Saturday, an event begins 4:30 p.m. at the Home of Scott and Carson Hobby, 3815 Bettes Circle in Jacksonville. The next event is Sunday, June 26, starting 4:30 p.m. at the Cassidy Farm, 36284 Tompkins Trace in Hillard. On Tuesday, June 28, the event begins 6 p.m. at the home of David Drysdale, 140 Pelican Reef Dr. in St. Augustine. After that, Wednesday, June 29, Tanzler will appear beginning 6 p.m. at the home of Duke and Melanie Steinemann. 363 San Juan Dr. in Ponte Vedra Beach. The week caps off Friday, July 1, with a 12 p.m.event in Dream Finders Homes – Stadium Home at One EverBank Field Dr. in Jacksonville.
“Sub Shop owner Ed Malin running for GOP nod in CD 4” via press release – “My desire to run for office is fueled in large part by the corruption of our elected officials. Money fuels this corruption. D.C. corruption begins with political contributions. Politicians these days spend half of their terms campaigning and collection money for their next election. It is an abrogation of duty in my opinion. I am not accepting one nickel from anyone. I will therefore be beholden to no donors, no bigwigs, no good old boy networks, no PACs. I will beholden to The Constitution only, which I can’t wait to take an oath to defend … Congress has put the taxpayers needs way down on the list of its priorities, behind refugees and restrooms ….” He is running the campaign from his headquarters inside Angie’s Subs on Beach Boulevard. “At least I won’t have to take time off from campaigning for lunch breaks.”
“Jax dark horse files for Senate primary” via Melissa Ross of Florida Politics – As Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson vie for the chance to run, it now likely appears, as the Democratic nominee against Republican Marco Rubio for Senate this fall, a late entry into the primary race has emerged.
Former Assistant United States Attorney Reginald Luster of Jacksonville officially filed qualifying documents this week. Luster is the founder and owner of Reginald Luster, P.A., a civil law firm in Jacksonville, and Radiant Lands Corporation, a real estate investment and management corporation.
“I believe Floridians want a senator who will sponsor and pass legislation that is in their best interest. As an assistant U.S. attorney, I observed the three branches of government. It was apparent to me that the Senate and the House were ineffective because career politicians voted along party lines as opposed to voting in the best interest of their constituents. I will vote in the best interest of Floridians,” said Luster.
Given that another Democrat in the primary race, Pam Keith, has been running for some time and has struggled to gain traction, Luster’s campaign could also be viewed as an uphill battle.
“Truth, Justice or the Angela Corey way” via Claire Goforth of Folio Weekly – Corey may have suppressed evidence that could overturn dozens of homicide convictions – or more. Dr. Margarita Arruza, former chief medical examiner of the local office, which covers Clay, Columbia, Duval, Hamilton and Nassau counties, retired at the end of 2010 … a handful of courthouse insiders – including Corey, two of her key deputies and a defense attorney and his firm – knew the truth: The reason for Arruza’s retirement was a diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer’s disease … Attorney Patrick McGuinness said that he noticed that something was terribly wrong with Arruza at a deposition Sept. 1, 2010, … Arruza – testifying to the content of her autopsy report, which she has in front of her – answers some questions, others she answers incorrectly even when assisted with locating the information in the file; in 13 instances, Arruza doesn’t respond to direct questions. Asked whether the skull was fractured in the parietal, occipital, sphenoid or mastoid process, she responds, “Well, it looks like it’s a skull.”
“Angela Corey defends record; opponents attack it” via Larry Hannan of the Florida Times-Union – State Attorney Angela Corey’s record became the main talking points Wednesday during a Clay County candidates luncheon followed by allegations that her office never told defense attorneys that a former chief medical examiner suffered from memory issues that could put multiple convictions at risk … Corey is seeking a third term in an election that will be decided in the Aug. 30 primary because there are no Democratic candidates. She is being opposed by two former subordinates, Melissa Nelson and Wesley White, both of whom criticized Corey’s record, judgment and temperament during Wednesday’s luncheon … Throughout multiple rounds of questioning from members of the Federated Women of Clay County, Corey’s opponents said the area deserved a better chief prosecutor while Corey vociferously defended her record … Nelson said Corey showed bad judgment over prosecuting cases.
“Who’s financing Duval County’s top-funded School Board candidates?” via Lindsey Kilbride of WJCT – With four seats up for grabs, three candidates have raised substantially more money than the 11 others. In order to appear on the ballot, candidates must raise about $1,700 or get around 800 petition signatures. That number varies slightly for each district. Current board chairwoman and District 3 incumbent Ashley Smith Juarez is running unopposed and has raised $32,688, the most of any candidate. District 1 incumbent Cheryl Grymes is also running unopposed. She’s raised about $18,200, with many contributions from companies that manage and develop charter schools. The third-largest fundraiser is Greg Tison, at $17,726. He’s running for District 7 along with six others to replace Jason Fischer, who’s running for state House.
“Pension reform to save Jax $40M per annum” via Dave Chapman of Jax Daily Record – When Mayor Lenny Curry announced his pension reform efforts this year … early discussions forecast as much as $100 million a year. Now Curry has a number … a minimum of $40 million a year … an updated actuarial report being finalized within a week will show that by simply following the plan he fought to have approved by the Legislature, the city will realize those savings starting in fiscal 2017-18. The report is being done by Milliman, which has done previous studies for the city. Milliman is a Seattle-based global actuarial and consulting firm.
“Jax builders and contractors group backs pension reform” via Florida Politics – The Associated Builders & Contractors Florida First Coast Chapter announced its support of the Yes for Jacksonville campaign, designed to generate a yes vote in the Aug. 30 pension tax referendum. “We’re pleased to see Mayor Curry and City Council taking steps to resolve the pension issue with the half-cent extension,” said Janet Masterson, ABC Board Chair … “We see it as a path to move forward and turn the conversation to other priorities for the city.”
“Future Leaders of Jax Coalition to push pension tax to young voters” via Florida Politics – Katie Schoettler and Jenny Busby go way back. Specifically, to the same kindergarten class. Schoettler emerged into adulthood as a Republican, working for people like Aaron Bean and John Thrasher; Busby, as a Democrat who worked for the Florida Democratic Party … both women are involved in their most ambitious undertaking: marketing the pension tax referendum … they have formed the Future Leaders of Jax Coalition, designed to educate millennial voters on why the tax extension is necessary … a Future Leaders of Jax Coalition event is planned at Bistro Aix July 20 at 6 p.m.
“City paid $317,000 to lobbyists, money was supposed to go to NW Jax projects” via Chris Hong of the Florida Times-Union – City Hall improperly paid a prominent local consulting and lobbying firm more than $317,000 that was supposed to be spent on improvement projects in neglected neighborhoods that were never completed … the city paid that money to the firm, Infinity Global Solutions, as one of several extensions to a consulting contract it received under former Mayor John Peyton that ballooned from $98,000 to $868,000. It also questioned the appropriateness of a separate no-bid purchase for similar work the city awarded the company in 2007 … a revolving door where two city officials who initiated business with Infinity Global Solutions, or IGS, later went to work for the firm after their city employment ended. One of those officials is Mayor Lenny Curry’s Chief of Staff Kerri Stewart, who initiated the no-bid purchase when she was director of the city’s Housing and Neighborhoods Division. Stewart didn’t return a message left with the Mayor’s office seeking comment.
“Newly proposed bill could require city employees to live in Duval County” via First Coast News — In Duval County, a new bill could require city employees to live within county lines if it passes. Current workers would be exempted but not new employees. This legislation was introduced by Council Member John Crescimbeni, who says voters wanted it last year … [via a] nonbinding question on the 2015 ballot in March … 64 percent of voters said yes … Fire Union head Randy Wyse says right now the Jacksonville Fire Rescue Department has 60 percent of firefighters who live in Duval and 40 percent who don’t. If the bill is passed, current city employees would be grandfathered in, but new hires would have to comply.
“Jax General Counsel asserts primacy over JPFPF board” via Florida Politics – The ongoing battle between Jacksonville General Counsel Jason Gabriel and the Jacksonville Police and Fire Pension Fund has simmered all spring and into the summer … Gabriel, as the city’s general counsel, has asserted that his office’s legal authority supersedes that of any of the city’s independent authorities. The JPFPF, despite Gabriel repeatedly insisting that they provide him with any communication to [Attorney Gen. Pam] Bondi, including draft documents or notes toward that communication, failed to comply with his directives and appealed to Bondi, as if they had coequal legal standing with the city’s general counsel … the JPFPF appeal to Tallahassee was fruitless; Bondi refused to get involved in the local issue, saying that interpretations of local charter are reserved to the attorney for the local government in question, the General Counsel, in the case of Jacksonville. In that context, Gabriel offered Thursday “Binding Legal Opinion 16-02,” which will, he wrote in a letter, “be binding” on the entire consolidated government, including the JPFPF Board … Bondi’s response, and Gabriel’s codification of the city’s position, would seem to put to rest the ongoing saga of the controversial Senior Staff Voluntary Retirement Fund.
“500 employers support expansion of Jacksonville Human Rights Ordinance” via John Engel of WOKV – Bold City Brewery, CSX, Deutsche Bank and Florida Blue are on the list of employers who support HRO expansion. The ordinance would make it illegal to deny someone employment, housing or public services because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This comes months after Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry directed all City employment laws to become compliant with state and federal anti-discrimination protections. The directive did not explicitly cover discrimination with regard to public services or housing. The Jacksonville City Council was reviewing two competing proposals on HRO expansion earlier this year – one leaving the decision up to voters and the other needing only a Council vote. Councilman Tommy Hazouri removed his bill, which left the decision up to the City Council, in February.
“Jax rated a biz-friendly city by Thumbtack” via Melissa Ross of Florida Politics – The fifth annual Thumbtack Small Business Friendliness Survey ranks Jacksonville in the top 10 cities as having the best climate for skilled professionals. “Skilled professionals on Thumbtack report that when government regulations complicate obtaining licenses and permits, hiring employees and paying taxes, it is harder to start and grow a business,” said Lucas Puente, economist at Thumbtack. “The highest-rated governments make regulations easy to comply with and enforce them consistently. They also invest in helpful training programs and government websites. These insights provide a roadmap for policy makers to create environments that foster entrepreneurship and innovation-outcomes critical for continued economic growth.” San Antonio, Nashville, Memphis, Fort Worth, Houston, Dallas, Akron [Ohio], Virginia Beach, and Atlanta round out the list of Thumbtack’s top metros for business friendliness.
“$15M for Project Rex land” via Karen Mathis of the Jax Daily Record – Developer Seefried Industrial Properties Inc. has agreed to buy about 155 acres for $15 million for the expected Amazon.com fulfillment center in North Jacksonville … Seefried, based in Atlanta, will buy the property from Broward Signature LLP, led by managing partner Stephen Leggett. The contract price works out to almost $97,000 an acre …The undeveloped land is at 12900 Pecan Park Road … Property records show the site’s use to be timberland.
Spotted at The James Madison Institute (JMI) Fellows Board Retreat in Orlando: JMI’s Francisco Gonzalez, Volunteer Florida’s Chester Spellman, Step Up for Students’ Sara Clements, and The Fiorentino Group’s Mark Pinto.
“What’s up, Doc? New poll shows Bugs Bunny trumps Mickey Mouse in Florida” via Melissa Ross of Florida Politics – Ah, summer, where the living is easy – on college campuses. The team at UNF’s Public Opinion Research Lab has apparently decided to have a little fun during the summer break before things get serious this fall with the 2016 election, and all the attendant polling sure to result. And it seems PORL is very interested right now in certain classic cartoon characters. Turns out the most popular are Bugs Bunny and Mickey Mouse, but the carrot-chomping rabbit has edged out the rodent in popularity- even here in Florida.
“Surprisingly, Mickey Mouse didn’t take first place among respondents who were asked about their favorite cartoon character,” said pollster Mike Binder. “Bugs Bunny was selected most frequently by Floridians, with Mickey Mouse in second place and relative newcomer SpongeBob SquarePants in third. It was close, but we fully anticipated a Disney character to come out on top.”
“A deeper examination into cartoon creators and producers mirrored the same unexpected result, with Warner Brothers’ characters having more public favorability than Disney characters,” said Binder.
PORL’s statewide poll also indicates that warm weather and outdoor activities are considered the best parts of living in Florida. Shocker!
“Another interesting result was a divergent level of interest in the weather and outdoor activities between age groups,” noted Binder. “While weather and outdoor activities were the favorites among all ages, older respondents were more partial to the climate than the beach, fishing, etc. This generational difference could be an important finding for tourism marketing.”