Not Just A Body Of Water — A newsletter about Tampa Bay politics — 4.9.18

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It’s your move, House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz.

She’s term-limited in the House this year, and is – for now – set to run for a seat on the Hillsborough County Commission.

But there’s word she will drop her bid for county commission and run for state Senate District 18.

That would mean, assuming she clears the Democratic field, taking on Republican incumbent Dana Young in November.

Young took an open seat in 2016 created after court-ordered redistricting. Young defeated Bob Buesing, who’s running again this year, as well as independents Joe Redner and Sheldon Upthegrove.

If Cruz runs for Senate, will Buesing withdraw? Is Young really at risk? If Buesing stays in, how badly will it fracture the local Democrats? Stay tuned …

Behind-the-scenes Senate moves benefit All Children’s

Through an amendment to a massive health care bill in the closing days of the 2018 Legislative Session, lawmakers gave John’s Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg the green light to deliver high-risk babies. As reported by POLITICO Florida, state Sen. Jeff Brandes successfully negotiated rules that would have typically killed the measure by amending language in a state Agency for Health Care Administration regulatory bill. The strategy got specific amendment language through a generally wary Legislature, offering a fast a look at the behind-the-scenes jockeying that goes on in Tallahassee. One health care attorney called it a textbook example of “how to get an issue fixed at the last minute if you’ve got the right people working together to make it happen.”

High school students gun safety town hall

Two local high school students — Sophie Goldsmith (a sophomore at Palm Harbor University High School) and Christopher Zoeller (a sophomore at River Ridge High School) — hosted a gun safety town hall over the weekend at the New Port Richey Public Library, 5939 Main St, New Port Richey. Attending the event Saturday, held in the wake of the Parkland school shooting and recent March for Our lives protest, were Robert Tager and Angelika Purkis, each a candidate for Florida’s 12th Congressional District, currently held by Republican Gus Bilirakis.

Is Lee still running for CFO?

Is state Sen. Tom Lee still intending to run for Florida’s chief financial officer? The Tampa Bay Times reported several times he will primary Jimmy Patronis, appointed CFO by Gov. Rick Scott last year. But the Thonotosassa Republican has not yet filed for the race, nor raised any money since ending the Legislative Session. It gave Patronis a significant fundraising head start. In March, Patronis raised $463K between his campaign ($178,575) and political committee, Treasure Florida ($285,200), with about $2.5 million cash-on-hand. At the same time, Lee (who is technically still running for re-election), raised no money and has approximately $2.3 million on-hand. Also, he has been busy with the Constitutional Revision Commission. So, is he in or out?

Webb passes the hat in HD 69

Democrat Jennifer Webb is hosting a $100 per person fundraiser Friday, April 13, in her campaign for House District 69, the open seat currently held by Republican Kathleen Peters. Hosted by attorney Marc Weintraub and his wife Amy, the event begins 5:30 p.m. in their home at 4545 Dolphin Cay Ln. S. Peters has opted out of re-election and instead is running for Pinellas County Commissioner. After Javier Centonzio dropped out, Webb is the only Democrat in the HD 69 race, a seat which covers part of Pinellas including the communities of Redington Beach, Madeira Beach, Treasure Island, South Pasadena and Gulfport. Jeremy Bailie and Ray Blacklidge are also competing for the Republican nomination. RSVP at [email protected] or call (610) 764-4240.

Latvala to host Clearwater reception

State Rep. Chris Latvala will be holding a fundraiser later this month for his House District 67 re-election bid.

The event is scheduled for Wednesday, April 25, beginning 5:30 p.m. at the Island Way Grill, 20 Island Way in Clearwater.

The two-term Republican is currently unopposed in the race for HD 67, which covers Clearwater and part of Largo.

#Patel2018 hosting first St. Pete event

Aakash Patel, a Tampa businessman and Republican, is hosting the first #Patel2018 event in his bid for Hillsborough County Commission, District 1, currently held by Sandy Murman. Reception begins 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 17, at Parks & Rec, 100 4th St. S. in St. Petersburg. Host committee includes Paul Auslander, Brady Diggs, Steve Gianfilippo, Ashby Green, Tyler and Erin Hayden, Doug Hensel (DJ Fresh), Greg Holden, Derek Houston, Wade Milligan, Johnathan Stanton, Amanda Taylor and Cal Webster. Suggested donation is $25. RSVP at Patel, founder of Elevate, Inc., is seeking the Hillsborough seat prematurely vacated by Murman, who will instead run for countywide District 7.

Moore fundraises in Pasco County

An extensive list of local Republican leaders will support Mike Moore at a reception next week for his Pasco County Commission re-election bid. The host committee for the Monday, April 18, event includes House Speaker Richard Corcoran, state Sen. Wilton Simpson, state Reps. Danny Burgess and Amber Mariano, Pasco Clerk of the Court Paula O’Neil, Sheriff Chris Nocco, Superintendent Kurt Browning and Tax Collector Mike Fasano, among others. Reception begins 6 p.m. at Buttermilk Provisions, 2653 Bruce B Downs Blvd., Suite 117 in Wesley Chapel. Suggested minimum contribution is $30 per person; RSVP at [email protected]. Moore faces Democrat Kelly Smith.

Tampa Downtown Partnership names acting president

This week, the Tampa Downtown Partnership’s Executive committee unanimously approved Lynda Remund as acting president and CEO for a one-year term. She has been interim president and CEO since January. “Lynda has distinguished herself by truly embracing her leadership qualities,” said Partnership Chair Mickey Jacob. “Her ability to support and lead a collaborative work environment while effectively managing the Partnership’s strategic initiatives has proved to myself, the Board and staff that Lynda is the best person for this role.” Remund joined the Partnership in 2000 as the Director of District Operations and is a member of the International Downtown Association and serves on the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors, as well as the Visit Tampa Bay Advisory Committee.

More staff changes at Tampa Downtown Partnership

Tampa Downtown Partnership also promoted Shaun Drinkard to Senior Director of Public Programming and Operations. Drinkard, who joined the Partnership in 2010, will lead district operations which includes the Downtown Guides and Clean Team program as well as all public programming within the Special Services District (SSD). “Shaun has been a critical component to activating our riverfront and interior Downtown public spaces,” said Partnership acting President Lynda Remund. “His passion for creating memorable experiences and ability to bring together all the players to make these events happen has put Tampa on the map as a fun, and vibrant city that boomers to GenXers and millennials want to live, work, play and learn.”

Leadership St. Pete sails into future

Leadership St. Pete Class of 2018 hosts a nautical-themed fundraising event Tuesday, April 10, with heavy hors-d’oeuvres, wine bar and silent auction at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club. Guests will enjoy an engaging presentation by SailFuture. Event begins 6 p.m.; tickets are $50 in advance, $75 at the door. St. Petersburg Yacht Club is at 11 Central Ave. in St. Petersburg. Sponsored by the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce, Leadership St. Pete is a six-month program that helps identify, recruit and develop local leaders. Class members experience face-to-face contact with other leaders to stimulate creative thinking and identify ways to become more involved in the community. Register at

Florida Poly delegation visits Brazil

Representatives from Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland visit Brazil this week to “build strategic alliances” with universities and high-tech companies in South America’s largest nation. Among the delegation is University President Dr. Randy Avent; Shahram Taj, professor of logistics and supply chain management; Dr. Mustafa Ilhan Akbas, professor of computer science; and Mustapha Achoubane, associate director of international students. The seven-day journey will have members interact with more than 2,000 engineering students, highlighting Florida Poly’s programs as well as connect with international research centers and educators. The delegation will visit two universities in Sao Paulo — FACENS and FIAP — which focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines.

Tiger Bay legislative post-mortem

Suncoast Tiger Bay Club holds its annual review Thursday on what was accomplished during a particularly contentious 2018 Legislative Session, and what was left undone. Several state issues emerged that were important to Pinellas County residents, including school safety, regional mass transit, funding of public schools, gun reform and more. The conversation, hosted by Florida Politics publisher Peter Schorsch, will include state Sen. Darryl Rouson, and state Reps. Kathleen Peters, Wengay Newton, Larry Ahern and Ben Diamond. Reception begins with networking at 11:30 a.m.; program starts at noon in the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, 11 Central Avenue.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including Florida Politics and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Schorsch is also the publisher of INFLUENCE Magazine. For several years, Peter's blog was ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

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