Mitch Perry, Author at Florida Politics

Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at

Jimmy Patronis adds $304K to CFO campaign warchest

Between his campaign account and political committee, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis raised more than $304,000 in February for his campaign to continue as Florida Chief Financial Officer.

The Panama City Republican raised $232,393 through his campaign account last month, and an additional $72,500 in his political committee, Treasure Florida. Overall, he’s raised more than $2.46 million to date – $1.8 million through his PAC, and $647,908 through his campaign account.

Patronis was appointed by Gov. Rick Scott last June to serve the remainder of the term won by Jeff Atwater, who resigned to take an administrative position at Florida Atlantic University.

Patronis announced in November that he would run for a full term in 2018.

Former state Sen. Jeremy Ring is the lone Democrat to enter the race. He’s yet to report on fundraising for February, but had raised a total of about $851,000 by of the end of January, including $100,000 in loans, and had about $353,000 on hand.

Thonotosassa Republican Tom Lee is widely expected to challenge Patronis. He had about $2.3 million on hand in his political committee, The Conservative, at the end of January.

Former St. Pete City Council candidate going to court on resisting arrest charge

Akile Anai learned Monday she would be going to court March 27 on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest without violence.

Better known as Eritha “Akile” Cainion, Anai had recently run under the Uhuru banner for St. Petersburg City Council District 6 last summer. On December 20, 2017, the 21-year-old former candidate was arrested in front of her house on Dr. Martin Luther King Street in South St. Pete.

As Anai explains, it all began when a corner store merchant started yelling at a black woman, prompting one of her friends to verbally accost the merchant, saying that’s not how he should treat customers.

After police arrested one of those friends, Anai left her house to inquire what was going on; “very hostile” St. Petersburg police officers met Anai, admonishing her to walk away.

When police arrested a second friend, Anai said she walked toward her house to make a telephone call, speaking out loud about what the police were doing.

The officer “didn’t particularly like what I was saying on the phone,” Anai continued. He then pulled her hair and slammed Anai against a car before she too was arrested and detained.

According to the arrest affidavit, Anai approached police officers as they were interviewing a suspect and “began yelling and using profanity disrupting the interview.”

It was then she was asked by all three officers present to step back. Despite that, Anai continued to approach and yell at the police in a nonviolent way.

Anai was offered a diversion program to cancel out the arrest but refused to participate, claiming to be completely innocent of “bogus” charges.

That the city is continuing to proceed with the case proves she’s being singled out, Anai argued.

“The police don’t operate in a vacuum. They work for the Kriseman administration,” she said. “The police know who we are. I ran for City Council. They understand I’m part of the Uhuru movement that has been under political assault since it’s birth, and especially after we get done waging these intense campaigns, and it’s clear the organizing won’t stop.”

Anai, running as “Akile Cainion,” took seven percent of the vote in the District 6 primary last August, placing sixth out of the eight-person field. In tandem with Uhuru-backed mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel, the two ran campaigns heavily critical of incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, former Mayor Rick Baker, and the St. Petersburg Police Department.

Since the election, Anai and Nevel formed the group Communities United for Reparations and Economic Development (CURED).

National pro-choice group backs Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, Lauren Baer for Congress

NARAL Pro-Choice America announced Wednesday they are endorsing Florida Democrats Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and Lauren Baer for Congress.

Mucarsel-Powell is considered the leading Democrat facing Republican Carlos Curbelo in ultra-competitive South Florida’s 26th Congressional District. Baer is running against Republican Brian Mast in Florida’s 18th Congressional District, which runs along the Treasure Coast.

Both incumbents are anti-abortion.

“Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and Lauren Baer’s dedication to expanding access to reproductive health care is exactly what we need in Congress right now,” said NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue. “We know they will stand up to the attacks the Trump administration and the GOP Congress make on affordable and accessible health care for all. They’ll fight for the values women and families in their districts hold dear, and that’s why we can’t wait to get them elected.”

“Now more than ever, we need women in Washington who will bring our voices and protect our rights,” said Mucarsel-Powell. “As a Latina immigrant, I come from a long line of strong women, and I am proud to have the endorsement of NARAL Pro-Choice America. In Congress, I will work to defend our reproductive freedom, fight gender discrimination, and pass paid maternity and paternity leave.”

“As a woman, a mother, and a proud defender of reproductive freedom, I am honored to have the support of NARAL Pro-Choice America,” said Baer. “Choosing to bring our daughter into the world was one of the most personal and important decisions my wife and I have made, and the act of carrying her, and now caring for her, has only reaffirmed my belief that reproductive choices are best left to women themselves.

“I look forward to working with NARAL to uphold our fundamental reproductive rights.”

University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabado‘s “Crystal Ball” currently lists CD 26 as a toss-up, and CD 18 is “likely Republican” in the fall.

Lawsuit seeks to remove Jamie Grant from 2018 ballot

Rep. Jamie Grant’s Republican challenger in the House District 64 primary has filed a lawsuit demanding Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner remove Grant as a candidate, saying he has violated the state’s term limits.

“I believe that Rep. Grant, who was first elected to the Florida House in November 2010, is ineligible to run for reelection in the Florida House in 2018 due to his having served for eight consecutive years,” Terry Power said Wednesday in a news release.

Terry Power

“I believe the courts will agree with me on this important issue.”

Florida voters approved term limits of eight years for members of the Legislature back in 1992; they did not generally become effective till 2000.

Grant was first elected in 2010, and has been re-elected three times to two-year terms. But he did not serve those four terms consecutively. (A separate recounting of that history is here.)

His 2014 GOP primary was postponed when the husband of Republican candidate Miriam Steinberg sued to have write-in candidate Daniel John Matthews removed from the race.

A circuit court ruled that Matthews did not meet the requirements to run and postponed the primary between Grant and Steinberg until November.


Grant defeated Steinberg easily that fall, but the House voted to invalidate the results because an appellate court found that Matthews was wrongfully withdrawn from the contest.

That meant HD 64 had no representative for several months, until April 2015, when Grant defeated Matthews to finish out the 2014-2016 term.

“To rule against us would have a chilling effect on our term limit laws and open the door to even more shenanigans by career politicians,” Power added.

Grant was on the floor of the House Wednesday, and not immediately available for comment.

The 59-year-old Power is an Oldsmar-based certified financial planner. He has said that if elected, he’ll donate his House salary to charities in the district.

House District 64 covers a northwestern section of Hillsborough and some of eastern Pinellas County.

NextGen America to spend $3.5M mobilizing young Floridians for midterms

NextGen America intends to spend as much as $3.5 million to register, engage and turn out young voters across the state of Florida.

With an emphasis on the gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races, the environmental advocacy nonprofit and political action committee created by San Francisco philanthropist Tom Steyer announced Wednesday it will also focus on key congressional districts currently held by Democrat Stephanie Murphy in Central Florida, Republican Brian Mast in the Treasure Coast, and two competitive seats in South Florida — CD 26 and 27.

“From siding with corporations at the expense of working people to denying climate change after hurricanes ravaged Florida, Rick Scott has shown himself to be entirely supportive of Donald Trump‘s reckless agenda,” said Steyer. “Young Floridians want leaders who tell the truth, not deny science and risk public health. They want leaders who will safeguard their schools and protect their friends at a nightclub. Young Floridians are fighting for change, and in November, they will be heard.”

This is not the first time that Steyer is investing major resources in the Sunshine State. He spent an estimated $15-$20 million in 2014 in an unsuccessful attempt to defeat Scott in his reelection bid against Democrat Charlie Crist.

Leading into November’s midterms, NextGen says it will hire more than 100 organizers to engage young Floridians on at least 40 campuses, including 10 community colleges and four historic black colleges and universities. NextGen Florida will contact over 1.5 million young voters, on and off campus, through voter registration, peer-to-peer conversations, and a targeted digital and mail program to elect progressives up and down the Florida ballot.

In the aftermath of the Parkland massacre, NextGen and two other gun-control groups announced last week that they would spend $1 million nationally on registering eligible high-school students to vote in the 2018 midterms, with an emphasis on Florida and California.

NextGen has had staffers on the ground — currently 53 — in Florida since 2017.

“The future is here, and it is undeniably progressive. Students from every corner of Florida have made it clear that they demand a fair, humane immigration system, racial equality, and an economy where no American is held back by the burden of unaffordable health care or education,” said Carly Cass, Youth Organizing Director of NextGen Florida. “Young voters are now the largest eligible voting bloc, and we will make a difference in the Sunshine State this year.”

NextGen’s work with young voters in Florida is part of NextGen Rising — working to register, engage, and mobilize young voters, on and off campuses, across ten states ahead of the November midterm election.

In recent months, Steyer has become prominent in nationally televised ads, spending a reported $40 million in calling for Trump’s impeachment.

Hillsborough Commission rejects assault weapons ban

Commissioner Les Miller‘s proposal to have Hillsborough County ban assault weapons died Wednesday after failing to pick up a second vote from the County Commission.

The five-member board did come out to support a measure extending the waiting period to buy a firearm in the county from three days to five, as well as voting to advance new penalties for people who make threats on social media to schools.

But Miller sought to end so-called “weapons of war” that drew the media’s attention to the meeting. It was his response to the Parkland Valentine’s Day massacre, where 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz shot and killed 14 students and three teachers using an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle.

AR-15s were the same weapon used to slaughter innocents in other recent American mass shootings.

Miller’s proposal flew in the face of a 2011 Florida law that fines any local official who knowingly violates a state ban on local gun restrictions up to $5,000.

The same rule also gives the Governor power to remove from office anyone flouting the law.

“It could very well cost me in the long run, but if it does it does, it does. I had to make a stance,” Miller said. “I had to come forward to say what was on my mind. I held back too long. I probably should have said this a long time ago.”

After the board rejected the assault weapons ban, Miller immediately made another proposal to have the board vote to repeal the state statute penalizing local officials for enacting gun control measures. That measure also died by failing to get a second commissioner to move it forward.

Undaunted, Miller came back with a third proposal: To extend the waiting period to buy a firearm in Hillsborough County from three to five days. He acknowledged that it was more modest in scope than his other proposals, but said that an additional two days might be able to indicate if a person has mental problems or warrants for their arrest.

It initially got pushback from commissioners Stacy White and Sandy Murman.

White indicated (through a question to county attorney Chip Fletcher) that there was a five-day waiting period in Broward County, the site of last month’s horrific act, and said it wouldn’t have prevented it from happening.

Murman also initially objected, saying that the Florida Legislature was still debating gun policy this week that might make the county’s decision moot. With commissioners Ken Hagan and Pat Kemp not in attendance, she said she didn’t believe it was right to vote on such an important issue without the full board weighing in.

“These are really sensitive issues that need every single one of our members’ attention, ” Murman said.

Commissioner Victor Crist said he saw both sides of the issue, but indicated that the problem was bad people using guns, not guns themselves.

“We want to take the guns out of the hands of those who would abuse the privilege of owning and using one,” he said, adding, “but do we also want to take the guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens who want to protect themselves?”

Crist, Murman and Al Higginbotham then moved to support Miller’s proposal on a 4-1 vote. White was the only dissenter.

Miller wasn’t done. He then made his fourth proposal, calling on staff to draft an ordinance to make it a misdemeanor on anyone who makes a threat on social media against any Hillsborough county school or day care facility.

Murman said she wanted to enhance the provision to extend to government facilities and made a substitute motion for county staff to meet with local law enforcement, the state attorney and chief judge of the courts to make recommendations on any policies regarding people who make threats on social media.

White said he was thinking along the same lines as Murman, but said he would support the proposal, adding that it didn’t preclude staff from getting feedback from those officials in crafting such an ordinance.

While Murman’s substitute motion failed, Miller’s measure passed 5-0.

Crist then proposed that county staff prepare a resolution calling for the Legislature to make any killing on a school campus a capital offense, which the board unanimously approved.

Before the commissioners debated the measures, several members of the public weighed in on Miller’s proposal to ban assault weapons.

“Nothing is going be a perfect fix, but we need to start somewhere. And somewhere is here. And now,” said Jackie Clemons Plisken.

“Show the moral courage to do the right thing, not the party-line thing or the NRA thing, but the human and compassionate thing,” said Hillsborough County Democratic Party chair Ione Townsend. “Do the thing you would be proud of when your children and grandchildren ask you what did you do to keep me safe?

But for Phil Walters, it was a behavioral issue. Legislators should not blame guns for mass shootings like the one in Parkland last month, he said.

“Y’all talking about possibly doing something to pre-empt state law,” Walters said of Miller’s proposal. “I hope our county attorney advised you all on that. Our society functions because of laws.”

Educator Sharon Carter enters House District 61 race

As an instructor at Tampa’s Armwood High School since 2015, Sharon Carter believes she is indeed qualified to assess the idea of arming schoolteachers.

And Carter, the newest candidate for House District 61, thinks it’s a lousy idea.

“No. Not at all,” Carter said succinctly, adding that she also thinks that while assault military style weapons are OK for wartime, they are entirely inappropriate anywhere else.

The Tampa Democrat’s opinions on gun control matter now that she’s an official entrant into the HD 61 race, which developed after incumbent Sean Shaw declared his candidacy for Attorney General.

Before getting into education, the 53-year-old Carter had an extensive career as a construction project manager. She’s also been very involved in local Democratic politics, having previously served as vice chair of the Hillsborough Democratic Executive Committee.

Carter is also a member of the Hillsborough County Democratic Black Caucus.

A Hillsborough High and Florida State University alum, Carter said the three biggest issues for her campaign are education, transportation and affordable housing.

Having been a single mother, she is very disappointed the Florida Legislature failed in previous years to expand Medicaid as a part of the Affordable Care Act.

“This district needs change,” she said, “so I want to enhance the quality of life for the people here.”

Carter’s parents were both bus drivers. Her father drove for HART, her mom for Hillsborough County Schools.

This isn’t her first bid for this seat, having previously come up short in the 2014 contest won by Ed Narain.

“I’m running fearless,” she declared about this 2018 run.

Dianne Hart and Byron Keith Henry are two other Democrats who already filed in what is a heavily Democratic-leaning district, which encompasses East Tampa, Seminole Heights, West Tampa and Ybor City.

In the 2016 Democratic primary, Hart finished a close second to Shaw.

Things get heated between Tampa police chief, activists on racial disparity

Two community activists got into a verbal altercation Tuesday with Tampa Police Chief Brian Dugan, which ended with the chief escorting the pair out of the TPD’s downtown headquarters.

Sadie Dean and Angel D’Angelo are with the social justice group Restorative Justice Coalition. They claim to have been granted a meeting with the chief Tuesday to discuss a series of issues, beginning with the recent death of Sidney Richardson IV, a 48-year-old black man shot and killed last month by a Tampa police officer.

Some are disputing the official police description of how Richardson was shot and killed, and have called for a federal investigation into his death.

During the meeting, the conversation soon moved to black crime.

Dean said “things got heated” with Dugan after she and D’Angelo brought up racial disparities in policing.

While black residents are just 26 percent of the city of Tampa’s population, Dean noted they account for 54 percent of arrests.

According to D’Angelo, Dugan blamed that disparity on gun violence and “claims that the police are protecting the black community from themselves.”

After that, the discussion deteriorated, as a video posted on Dean’s Facebook page shows a disgusted Dugan escorting the pair into an elevator and ultimately out of the department headquarters.

Since the video only shows the end of their meeting, it is impossible to discern what was discussed beforehand. On the clip, D’Angelo can be heard saying that he and Dean just wanted a dialogue; Dugan would have none of it.

“There was no dialogue,” Dugan said. “You just wanted to spew numbers. You don’t want to listen. I’m explaining to you the different violence and issues in these communities … all you wanted to hear was me say that we’re biased … you didn’t want to listen.”

“We’re biased too,” Dean immediately replied.

On the Facebook post, several people responded with derisive comments about Dugan and the Tampa police.

TPD spokesperson Stephen Hegarty confirmed the meeting took place, but declined to comment on the Restorative Justice’s Coalition’ version of what occurred.

“It’s unfortunate that they have taken to name calling on their Facebook post,” he added.

Restorative Justice is calling for a separate federal investigation into the Richardson’s death, beyond the standard review conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

On the night of Richardson’s death, police responded to a call that a man was threatening a relative. When they arrived, officers found Richardson in a room with a 17-year-old female cousin.

Richardson was brandishing a machete and ignored pleas to put it down.

When police attempted to subdue Richardson with a Taser, the report said he continued to resist. An officer then shot Richardson at least one time, ultimately leading to his death.

St. Pete College awarded $1.6M state grant for technical workforce program

St. Petersburg College was one of 11 recipients of nearly $22 million in Florida Job Growth Grant Funds awarded Tuesday by Gov. Rick Scott.

SPC received more than $1.5 million for a new mechatronics training program, partnering with several regional businesses to meet demands for workers having automation and troubleshooting skills.

“This initiative is a prime example of the Governor’s vision and dedication to workforce programs that drive our state and local economies and the College’s commitment to collaborative, high-impact educational programs that strengthen our communities,” said SPC President Dr. Tonjua Williams.

The college officially received $1,596,858 to create the Mechatronics and Electromechanical Technician training program, which the Governor’s office called an “accelerated, innovative, responsive and competency-based technical workforce program that meets the advanced manufacturing industry’s skill requirements.”

The money is part of the Florida Job Growth Grant Fund, established by Scott and the Legislature last year. It provides $85 million for improving the state’s public infrastructure and enhancing workforce training.

So far, 21 communities statewide have received more than $57 million from the Fund. 

“These projects are also slated to add more than 18,600 jobs for Florida families,” Scott said in a statement. “I look forward to the completion of these projects.”

Ed Turanchik raises more than $100K during first month on Tampa mayor campaign trail

Ed Turanchik is making an early statement in his quest to succeed Bob Buckhorn as Tampa mayor in 2019.

The attorney/developer/transit activist announced Tuesday he already raised more than $100,000 since declaring his candidacy February 2.

“I’m so humbled by the strong show of support from our city just one month into our campaign,” said Turanchik. “When I announced my candidacy, I said that this campaign was about a vision for Tampa’s future. Four weeks later, I’m so grateful that so many civic leaders have joined our team.”

Turanchik’s entry into the race is among the earliest in the recent history of Tampa mayoral politics, but with several other candidates expected to announce, it certainly makes strategic sense to build a coalition early on.

Former Police Chief Jane Castor, philanthropist David Straz and City Council members Mike Suarez and Harry Cohen are also expected to enter the race, which won’t take place for another year. Businessman Topher Morrison has already announced his candidacy.

Turanchik also announced the official kickoff for his campaign set for 5 p.m. Monday, April 2 at the Tampa Armature Works.

Among those listed on the host committee are Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp and School Board Member Tammy Shamburger, along with former public officials like County Commissioner Joe Chillura, state Senator Jim Hargrett, state Rep. Elvin Martinez Sr. and Tampa City Council member Linda Saul Sena.

“When Tampa stands united, nothing will get in our way,” says Turanchik. “I invite everyone who is ready to fix our transportation system, increase access to affordable family homes, and put Tampa on the cutting edge of innovation to join us at our kickoff.”

You can sign up to attend the fundraising event by clicking here.

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