Drew Wilson, Author at Florida Politics

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.
Carlson Spano

New poll shows Ross Spano 6 points up in CD 15 contest

The race for Florida’s 15th Congressional District has been surprisingly close, but a new poll being circulated by Dover state Rep. Ross Spano shows he’s in good position to keep the traditionally-Republican seat from flipping on Election Day.

The Remington Research Group poll found Spano, currently in his third term representing Hillsborough’s HD 59, with 47 percent support among likely CD 15 voters. Former prosecutor and General Counsel for the Florida Department of Citrus Kristen Carlson, the Democratic nominee, came in 6 percentage points behind.

Though Spano’s score comes in a point behind a generic Republican candidate, his lead falls well outside the poll’s margin of error and falls in line with other recent polls of the Central Florida district.

A Club for Growth poll published on Oct. 9 found Spano with a 46-39 percent lead over Carlson in the R+13 district, while a late-September measure from Democratic-leaning pollster Bold Blue Campaigns pegged the race at 49-46 percent, advantage Spano.

A month ago, Carlson touted her own internal poll that showed her on top by a single point.

Thus far, no major poll has shown either candidate with majority support, and with 12 percent of voters undecided RRG’s poll there’s still plenty of wiggle room left for a comfortable GOP win or a major Democratic pickup.

When it comes to political handicappers, however, the thought is most of those voters will break toward Carlson on Election Day.

The heretofore “safe Republican” seat is currently listed as a “toss up” on Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight. According to their model, Spano would prove victorious five out of nine times given the current lay of the land, but his projected vote share of 50.4 percent comes in just eight-tenths of a point higher than Carlson’s.

CD 15 covers parts of Hillsborough, Lake and Polk counties and is considered to be a heavily Republican district. U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, who is giving up the seat after four terms, won his most recent re-election bid by 15 points. The district also voted plus-10 for President Donald Trump two years ago.

In addition to the lack of an incumbent, Carlson’s strong fundraising and deep ties to Polk County, home to 40 percent of district residents, have made the 2018 race quite competitive.

There was more good news for Spano further down the RRG poll: Trump’s favorability rating. More than half of the 1,369 voters polled said they had a positive view of the president while 45 percent felt otherwise, giving the first-term POTUS a plus-6 favorability rating.

The Governor race was also in his corner. Former Congressman Ron DeSantis, the Republican nominee, led Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum 51-44 percent with the remaining 5 percent undecided.

Spano and Carlson each scored a plus-5, though fewer voters were familiar with the candidates. Of the 53 percent who had an opinion on Spano, 29 percent saw him favorably and 24 percent didn’t. More than three-fifths of voters had no opinion on Carlson, but those who did liked her by 22-17 percent margin.

RRG’s sample was made up of 40 percent Republicans, 36 percent Democrats and 24 percent unaffiliated voters. The polls has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.64 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.

halloween

Florida Retailers expect scary good Halloween spending

Florida Retailers are expecting their tills to be flush, not hexed, when Halloween rolls around later this month.

According to a survey by the National Retail Federation, an affiliate of the Florida Retail Federation, consumers are expected to spend some frighteningly large sums celebrating the eve of All-Hallows — nearly enough to crack the all-time record of $9.1 billion.

NRF estimates the average consumer taking part in Halloween to spend more than four Jacksons and a fivespot, which would make for a nationwide rake of $9 billion at the cash register. And FRF head R. Scott Shalley said the Sunshine State is expected to post similarly strong results.

“With Florida’s economy surging and numerous statewide economic indicators remaining positive, we expect another strong year for spending on Halloween candy, costumes, decorations and other themed purchases,” he said. “This should mean another robust sales opportunity for retailers who market their goods and scare enough consumers into their stores.”

According to the survey, a third of revelers plan to hand out a greeting card or two; while two-thirds say they’ll pick up a creepy — or cute — raiment; three-quarters will buy some frightening flair for their homes; and all but a few will stock up on all things sugary for the kiddos that come a-knocking.

Those ever-popular categories account for $8.9 billion of total spending.

Seven out of 10 polled said they’ll man the door for at least part of their evening, while the other 30 percent will be escorting their little imps around the neighborhood. Other popular activities among adult celebrants include using decorations to make dwellings a bit more devilish and donning a costume of their own for the night.

And when it’s time to party a third will party hard.

Some less common activities: A fifth say they’ll dress up their pets, up from the one-in-six who said the same last year, and nearly the same number plan to venture out to a haunted house.

Picking a costume is never easy — there’s a fine line between démodé and en vogue — and to prevent coming off as a square, 35 percent of consumers plan to seek inspiration over the internet and the most popular sites they’ll turn to are Pinterest, Facebook and YouTube. Another 19 percent plan to get their ideas IRL by leaning on their friends and family for suggestions.

When it comes to kid’s costumes, the most popular threads are seemingly interchangeable with the top flicks at the box office, meaning Disney franchises will dominate.

Spider-man and the Avengers cohort fill two spots on the top-10, while also-ran superheroes from Antman to Aquaman combine to 5 percent of costumes on the wish list. The Star Wars franchise, also under the House of Mouse’s umbrella, is only slightly less popular than Marvel. Frozen is also set to continue its streak as well, with youngsters unwilling to “let it go” five years out from its release date.

The only named character from a non-Disney IP was Batman, who was marked down as the third-most popular costume pick for 2018.

The list isn’t devoid of yesteryears staples, however. The top costume overall will be some flavor of princess, while witches, ghosts and pirates also made the list. And when it comes to adult costumes, non-branded costumes fill six slots on the top-10 list.

gillum

Poll: Andrew Gillum enters first gubernatorial debate with 6-point lead

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and former Congressman Ron DeSantis are set to square off in their first gubernatorial debate this evening, and a new poll shows Gillum is heading into the televised head-to-head with a 6-point lead.

The poll, conducted by Tom Eldon’s SEA Polling & Strategic Design, found Gillum, a Democrat, up 48-42 percent over his Republican rival.

The remaining 10 percent of respondents said they were unsure which of the two candidates they’d vote for on the eve of early voting beginning in several Florida counties

The SEA poll, conducted Oct. 17 through Oct. 20, is a middle ground between two other fresh polls of the gubernatorial contest.

Team DeSantis circulated internal poll numbers Sunday showing the Trump-backed pol with a 47-45 percent lead over Gillum. Also on Sunday, 24-hour news network CNN released a poll showing Gillum with a 52-42 percent lead.

An average of public polls in the gubernatorial contest produced by RealClearPolitics pegs Gillum with a 3.7 percentage point lead in the matchup.

DeSantis and Gillum will face each other tonight in front of an audience at the WEDU Studios in Tampa, the first time the pair will share a stage for the debate since winning their respective party nominations.

The SEA poll also measured two other statewide races slated for the general election ballot: The contests for U.S. Senate and Attorney General.

Floridians will also choose between incumbent Republican Jimmy Patronis and former Democratic state Sen. Jeremy Ring in the Chief Financial Officer race and between Republican state Rep. Matt Caldwell and Democratic nominee Nikki Fried in the Ag. Commissioner contest.

In the U.S. Senate bout, which could carry substantial national implications, SEA found Republican Gov. Rick Scott with a 47-45 percent lead over incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson with 9 percent undecided. The RealClearPolitics average on that race shows Nelson with a 1.3 percentage point edge.

In the Attorney General contest, Republican nominee Ashley Moody holds a 6-point lead over  Tampa Democratic Rep. Sean Shaw

Shaw and Moody are vying to replace Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi, who cannot seek re-election due to term limits.

While the SEA poll showed Democratic candidates in the lead in two out of three races polled there were a couple bright spots for Republicans: President Donald Trump posted a positive favorability rating and a plurality of voters said they thought the state was “headed in the right direction” – a stat that most pollsters say favors the GOP given that it’s held a trifecta on state government for two decades.

On Trump, 47 percent of those polled said they saw the president in a “very favorable” or “somewhat favorable” light, while a combined 45 percent held a negative view. Both DeSantis and Scott have close ties to Trump and have highlighted their positive relationship with the White House as a benefit if they are elected in November.

The rest of the favorability scores: Gillum earned a plus-10, DeSantis a plus-9, Scott a plus-8 and Nelson came in under water by a single point.

The SEA poll received was conducted via live interviews and received responses from 600 registered voters, 78 percent of whom said they were “almost certain to vote.” The sample was made up of 41 percent Republicans, 39 percent Democrats and 20 percent independent voters.

Broken down by race, two-thirds of those polled self-identified as white, 14 percent as Hispanic and 13 percent as black. By age, a third of those polled were 50 to 64 years old, 21 percent were 35 to 49, 20 percent were 65 to 74, while the 18 to 34-year-old and 75-plus brackets each made up 13 percent of the sample. Women made up 54 percent of those polled

Interestingly, the SEA poll also measured voters’ religiosity, with 43 percent identifying as protestant, 23 percent as Catholic, 19 percent as “none,” 8 percent as other and 4 percent as Jewish. Nearly half of voters who disclosed their religion said they attended services once a week or more.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. The poll is below.

 

Florida Statewide Trend Toplines by Andrew Wilson on Scribd

GULF POWER

Gulf Power moves up restoration timetable for some Bay County customers

Northwest Florida utility company Gulf Power announced Sunday that it has moved up the timetable to restore power to certain Bay County residents still in the dark post-Hurricane Michael.

“Because of the tireless work and great progress that has been made since the start of this rebuilding effort, we’ve been able to look at each area of Bay County to determine where we could shorten restoration estimates,” Gulf Power head Stan Connally said in a press release.

“We are happy to deliver good news to many of our customers that power will be restored sooner than expected. Our storm restoration team, that is 7,500 strong, is focused on completing this rebuilding effort as they continue working in the most devastated areas.”

As of Sunday morning, Gulf Power had restored power to 95 percent or more of its ratepayers in Escambia, Holmes, Jackson, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Walton and Washington counties.

Gulf Power said the progress it has made in those counties has allowed their platoon of power pros to start snowballing on the restoration efforts in the Panama City area. As of 8 a.m. CDT Sunday, there were still 36,174 such residences and businesses without power.

In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Michael, there were more than 100,000 Bay County customers left without power. Gulf Power warned customers ahead of the Category 4 storm’s landfall that it expected much of its infrastructure would have to be rebuilt as it worked on the power restoration effort.

The utility company started making significant progress in the Panama City area on Oct. 15, five days after Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach.

In addition to the company’s own employees and contractors, another 6,000 lineworkers and support personnel from all corners of the state and the country. Among the personnel pitching in on the round-the-clock effort are many power pros from Gulf Power’s sister companies, Georgia Power and Alabama Power.

Gulf Power’s new update indicates the utility co. has brought another 10,000 customers back online since its Thursday announcement that it had restored power to 78,000 of the 125,000 customers affected by Hurricane Michael. That progress includes hundreds of ratepayers located near U.S. Route 231 in the Youngstown area.

The remaining Bay County customers were originally slated to have their power restored by 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 24, and that’s still the case for those living in and around the communities of Callaway, Parker and Springfield.

The new timetable, however, moved up the estimated restoration time for most other customers living in the Panama City area, with the next batch expected to get their electrical service back by 11:59 p.m. Sunday.

Gulf Power has plotted the updated timetable on a map and customers can get incremental progress updates from the company through its FacebookTwitter and Instagram feeds as well as its interactive outage map.

In addition to killing three dozen people, including 26 Floridians, CoreLogic estimates Michael caused $2.5 to $4 billion in damage to residential and commercial properties in Florida alone. The storm also caused catastrophic damage to Tyndall Air Force Base, with every building on the nearly 15-square-mile base sustaining damage or being completely destroyed.

The updated map of Gulf Power’s projected restoration times is below.

Gulf Power restoration map 10-21-2018

todd marks

Todd Marks, Jackie Toledo holding gubernatorial debate watch fundraiser

Hillsborough County Commission candidate Todd Marks and Tampa state Rep. Jackie Toledo, both Republicans, are holding a fundraising reception Sunday during the first gubernatorial debate.

The joint event is being hosted at the home of Amalie Oil Co. exec Harry Barkett and his wife, Carmen, starting at 7:00 p.m. The invitation for the fundraiser lists a minimum contribution of $500 to attend and says supporters should show up in casual attire.

Marks is running for the Hillsborough County Commission District 7 seat currently held by retiring commissioner Al Higginbotham. Marks overcame a major fundraising gap to defeat Aakash Patel in the Republican primary election, and is set to face off against Democratic nominee Kimberly Overman and Green Party candidate Kim O’Connor in the general.

Marks, a Tampa attorney, currently leads his opponents in fundraising with more than $267,000 raised and a little over $97,000 banked as of Oct. 12. Overman has raised about half that sum, though she finished the most recent reporting period with about $12,000 left to spend. O’Connor has raised $26,000 to date and has about $22,000 on hand.

Toledo, first elected in 2016, represents Hillsborough County’s House District 60 and is up against Democrat Debra Bellanti in the fall. To date, Toledo has raised nearly $296,000 in hard money for her re-election bid and had more than $180,000 on Oct. 12. Bellanti, meanwhile, has cleared $62,000 and had $17,500 in the bank through the same date.

HD 60 is a fairly safe Republican seat. Though it only went narrowly for Trump two years ago, Toledo easily punched her ticket to Tallahassee with a 14-point win over 2016 Democratic nominee David Singer.

The general election is Nov. 6. The fundraiser invitation is below.

marks, todd - fundraiser

Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay lands $750K in hurricane recovery grants

Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay has been awarded a pair of grants totaling $750,000 to fund its efforts to help residents whose homes were damaged or destroyed during Hurricane Irma last year.

The funds came to the non-profit organization by way of a $500,000 grant from the American Red Cross and a $250,000 grant from Volunteer Florida, the state government agency that promotes volunteerism in Florida.

“The unmet disaster recovery need in our area continues to be great, especially for our most vulnerable residents,” said RTTB executive director Jose Garcia. “We are extremely grateful to the American Red Cross and Volunteer Florida for their respective financial support, and appreciate the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of local residents who remain victims of critical home damage from Hurricane Irma.”

The $750,000 in grant funds will cover the costs to bring 100 homes damaged but not destroyed by Hurricane Irma back up to livable standards.

Examples of the kind of work needed to get those homes back up to code include repairing or replacing roofs, soffit, fascia, and drywall. RTTB will also use some of the money to do preventative work that will help at-risk homes stay dry, safe, and livable.

Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay is classified as a 501 (c)(3) organization, a federal tax status which allows individuals to deduct from their taxes any contributions they make to the charity.

RTTB is one of several regional branches of Rebuilding Together, including five other affiliates in Florida — Rebuilding Together Broward County, Rebuilding Together Miami-Dade, Rebuilding Together North Central Florida, Rebuilding Together of the Palm Beaches and Rebuilding Together Orlando.

Gulf Power

Gulf Power has now restored service to 78K customers

Panhandle utility company Gulf Power announced Thursday evening that 78,000 of the 125,000 who lost power due to Hurricane Michael had had their service restored.

“As we continue to rebuild the harder hit areas, we see and feel the challenge for so many in these communities. We realize that just because we restore power to areas, not everyone’s lights will come on due to damage to homes and buildings,” said Adrianne Collins, Gulf Power’s vice president of Power Delivery.

“However, rebuilding the power grid is a first step toward recovery for families, businesses and the entire community. We are focused on delivering an unprecedented response to this unprecedented storm.”

In yesterday’s 5 p.m. CDT, the utility co. said it had hit the 95 percent threshold in Vernon, Sunny Hills and the surrounding areas south of I-10; Jackson and Holmes counties; Cypress and Apalachee areas with a mailing address of Sneads, Fla.; and Panama City Beach.

Gulf Power crews started making major progress restoring power to Panama City Beach customers earlier this week.

At the time of the update, there were still 46,691 customers without power in Bay County and another 119 in Washington County. Gulf Power had already restored power to at least 95 percent of ratepayers in Escambia, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Walton Counties in the days prior.

With the bulk of the work still to be done located in Bay County, the area hardest hit by the Category 4 storm, Gulf Power released a more granular timetable for its restoration efforts.

Those living in the Gulf Coast State College area east to Michigan Ave. and north of 20th Street should now have their lights on, while customers north and west of Panama City Mall and west of Hwy. 231 are next up, with an estimated restoration time of midnight on Oct. 21.

The area along Hwy. 231 N. and its side roads from the intersection of E. Hwy. 390, northeast to Youngstown at Pamela Lane is slated to be back online a day after that, while the final batch of homes — those in Downtown Panama City, Callaway, Parker, Lynn Haven and the surrounding area — will be back on the grid by midnight on Oct. 24.

Before Hurricane Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach last week, Gulf Power told its customers that it expected to have to rebuild much of its infrastructure as it worked on restoring service.

The process was projected to take weeks, but on Sunday Gulf Power announced a timetable to get power restored to more than 95 percent of affected customers by midnight on Oct. 24. The company is still on track to hit that goal.

The company’s efforts have been helped along by its 1,500 employees and contractors as well as thousands of linemen and support personnel from around the state and country. Among the personnel pitching in on the round-the-clock effort are many power pros from Gulf Power’s sister companies, Georgia Power and Alabama Power.

Gulf Power has plotted the updated timetable on a map and customers can get incremental updates from the company through its FacebookTwitter and Instagram feeds as well as its interactive outage map.

Hurricane Michael made landfall in Northwest Florida on Oct. 10 with sustained winds of 155 mph, making it the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the region.

In addition to killing at least 24 Floridians, the storm caused an estimated $3 billion to $5 billion in property damage in the Sunshine State alone.

The map of Gulf Power’s projected restoration times is below.

Gulf Power

Jeff Solomon

Internal poll shows HD 115 race could come down to the wire

The race to succeed term-limited Republican Rep. Michael Bileca in House District 115 is shaping up to be closer than expected, according to a new poll commissioned by allies of Democratic nominee Jeff Solomon.

The Kitchens Group poll found voters in the district the heretofore GOP-leaning district are split down the middle, 45-45 percent, over whether they want a Republican or Democrat to represent them in the state House next year. Another 8 percent of voters said they didn’t see a difference between the two major parties while 2 percent said they were unsure which they preferred.

When Solomon and Republican nominee Vance Aloupis were pitted against each other by name, Solomon came out on top 47-42 percent with 11 percent undecided.

In both instances, independent voters made the key difference. Nine in 10 Republicans said they plan to tow the party line on Election Day, and nearly as many Democrats said the same. Among unaffiliated and third-party voters, however, Solomon leads 46-30 percent.

Further down the poll were measurements of each candidate’s favorability.

Aloupis, an attorney who works as the CEO of The Children’s Movement of Florida, was seen as “very favorable” by 18 percent of voters and “somewhat favorable” by another 8 percent. A combined 10 percent of voters said they found the University of Miami alumnus unfavorable to some degree, giving him a plus-16 favorability rating.

While the results aren’t too bad for the first-time candidate, 47 percent of voters said they didn’t know who Aloupis was, while Solomon was an unknown quantity to 37 percent of those polled.

For his part, the South Florida chiropractor earned a 27-15 percent score on the fave/unfave question, putting him at a 4-point disadvantage compared to his Republican rival. Solomon’s name-ID advantage can likely be attributed to this being his third go around as the Democratic nominee in HD 115. He lost to Bileca 54-46 percent two years ago, and back in 2012, he fell short by about 5 percentage points.

Like other majority-Hispanic districts, Republicans fared well at the bottom of the ballot while voters soundly rejected President Donald Trump. MCI Maps’ data on the 2016 elections shows Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton carried the district by 10 points.

The Kitchens Group poll also indicates HD 115 voters are leaning toward Democrat Andrew Gillum rather than former Republican Ron DeSantis by a 5-point margin in the race for Governor, possibly due to the latter’s well-known embrace of Trump, who endorsed him early on in the Republican gubernatorial primary.

Missing from the poll, however, are breakdowns on how each candidate scored among different demographics of voters and how many of the interviews were conducted via cell phone. The poll also notes that 90 percent of the interviews in conducted in the majority-Hispanic district were in English, which could skew the results toward Solomon.

HD 115 covers an inland strip of Miami-Dade County, including parts of Pinecrest, South Miami and Palmetto Bay. Bileca’s largest margin of victory came was his 18-point thrashing of Democrat Kristopher Decossard in 2014, a wave year for Republicans.

The Kitchens Group poll was conducted Oct. 5 through Oct. 7 via live telephone interviews, including to cell phones. It received responses from 316 likely voters in the district. The margin of error is plus or minus 5.5 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.

The poll is below.

FL HD 115 Poll – The Kitchens Group by Andrew Wilson on Scribd

SD 16 - Hooper vs. Murphy

Ed Hooper leads Amanda Murphy by a hair in SD 16 dogfight

Former Republican Rep. Ed Hooper and Former Democratic Rep. Amanda Murphy are locked in a dogfight according to a new poll of the race for open Senate District 16 seat.

The St. Pete Polls survey, conducted Oct. 18, found Hopper leading Murphy by a basket 19 days out from the election, 48-46 percent with 6 percent undecided. His 2-point lead among SD 16 voters shrinks to just six-tenths of a point, however, among the 36 percent who said they’ve already cast their ballot.

The Clearwater Republican is also up a deuce over his New Port Richey rival among the yet-to-vote crowd, which favored him 47-45 percent. Those voters were the most undecided, with 8 percent saying they hadn’t decided which of the two former lawmakers would earn their vote.

The topline results in the new poll are almost unmoved from where they were a month ago, when Hooper led Murphy 47-45 percent in the Tampa Bay area scrap.

The consistency in the topline numbers belies a few shifts in the senate scrum since that measure.

Hooper and Murphy have both improved among their party’s base, an important accomplishment for Hooper especially, Murphy was peeling away a fifth of Republicans in the prior poll. He’s lost ground among independents, however, who have started to skew more heavily toward the Democrat.

A month ago, Murphy held a 46-41 percent lead among unaffiliated and no-party voters. That lead has more than doubled to a 52-39 percent spread in the interim, heavily augmenting her base in a district where Republicans make up a strong plurality of the electorate.

White voters have been steady in giving a slim edge to Hooper, whom they favored 48-44 percent with 19 days to go until Election Day.

Murphy is still racking up big leads among the handful of black and Hispanic voters polled, though non-Hispanic whites make up 85 percent of the district’s voting age population, and redistricting data shows those voters tend to made up an even larger share of those who make it to the polls.

A full third of white voters said they’ve already cast their ballot.

Hooper has also improved his standing among women, who now prefer him over Murphy by 5 points, 49-44 percent. That step forward was coupled with a backslide among med — Murphy has improved from a 7-point underdog among those voters into a virtual tie at 47 percent all.

Millennials, Gen Xers are still leaning toward Hooper by a material margin although he and Murphy are grappling for supremacy among older voters, who make up a much larger share of the electorate and tend to punch above their weight at the ballot box.

There’s are virtually tie among voters aged 50 to 65, the largest age bracket in the district, while the 70-plus crowd has started gravitating toward Murphy by a statistically significant 51-45 percent margin.

The push poll received 816 responses from registered voters who said they were voting in the Nov. 6 general election. The sample was 41 percent Republican, one-third Democrat and 26 percent independent. The topline results have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.

Though Hooper has held on to a slim in the last couple St. Pete Polls surveys, his inability to muster up an outside-the-margin edge indicates SD 16 voters will make a marked shift toward the Democrats this cycle.

That shift could be due to the now 10-month interregnum since SD 16 voters last had a representative — the seat was last held by Republican Sen. Jack Latvala, who was a vocal Hooper supporter and considered an asset in his Senate campaign before he resigned late last year amid accusations of sexual misconduct.

Additionally, Murphy has shown an unprecedented ability to lull GOP voters in each of her three elections. In a 2013 special election, she took over for exiting Republican Rep. Mike Fasano — with his blessing, no less — and won re-election to a full term the following year.

In 2016, she was booted from office by now-Republican Rep. Amber Mariano in one of the closest state House races in recent history. In spite of President Donald Trump winning the Pasco-based House seat in a 20-point landslide, the Murpy-Mariano contest came down to to just 691 votes, or 0.6 percent.

While SD 16 is essentially an even-money race when it comes to the odds, Hooper and Murphy are nowhere near even in the fundraising race.

As of Oct. 5, Hooper had raked in more than $900,000 for his comeback bid, including $600,000 in hard money and another $300,000-plus in committee cash via Friends of Ed Hooper, not to mention the substantial “in-kind” support he’s received from the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, a cash rich party affiliated committee helmed by incoming Senate President Bill Galvano. Hooper has $421,000 in the bank.

For her part, Murphy has collected $116,500 in hard money and another $276,300 in soft via her two PACs — Working Towards Florida’s Future and Taxpayers for Responsible Government. She had a relatively lean $55,540 banked between the three accounts on Oct. 5.

SD 16 covers northern Pinellas County and southwestern Pasco County, including Clearwater, Dunedin, Safety Harbor, Palm Harbor, New Port Richey and Oldsmar. Republicans make up about 38 percent of the district’s electorate, while Democrats make up about a third. Two years ago, President Donald Trump carried the district by 12 points.

Holly Raschein touts bipartisan approach in new HD 120 ad

Key Largo Republican Rep. Holly Raschein is rolling out a new TV ad supporting her bid for a fourth and final term representing the Florida Keys and South Miami-Dade in House District 120.

The ad, titled “All of Us,” pitches the third term lawmaker as an effective bipartisan leader, noting her experience working as a legislative aide to former Republican Rep. Ken Sorensen, now deceased, as well as former Democratic Rep. Ron Saunders.

“I’m Holly Raschein. I’ve been working for our home district for 15 years as an aide to both a Republican and a Democrat, and as your representative since 2012,” she says in the ad. “Effectively fighting for us in Tallahassee requires knowledge and experience.

“I’ve proven that for hurricane recovery, water projects, protecting our environment and affordable housing I’ll work with anyone, anytime for all of us.”

The 30-second spot was paid for by the Republican Party of Florida as part of a package supporting Raschein, HD 115 nominee Vance Aloupis and HD 111 Rep. Bryan Avila.

Raschein faces Democratic nominee Steve Friedman in the general election and even according to internal polls released by Florida Democrats she leads him by a touchdown.

The incumbent lawmaker also holds a massive lead in fundraising with more than $334,000 in hard money raised and $135,000 in the bank as of Oct. 12. Friedman, meanwhile, has raised $121,000 and had $31,500 left to spend in his latest report.

Raschein has had little trouble holding onto the seat despite Democrats holding a slim voter registration advantage in the district, which covers all of Monroe and part of southern Miami-Dade.

In 2012, the district sent Raschein to Tallahassee with a 52-48 victory over Democrat Ian Whitney. She went unopposed in 2014 and won her third term with a 14-point victory in 2016 even though HD 120 narrowly voted for Hillary Clinton at the top of the ticket.

The ad is below.

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