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David Jolly, Patrick Murphy want change to political status quo

Frustration over the American political process has brought together strange bedfellows: two former Florida congressmen of competing parties.

David Jolly, a Republican, and Patrick Murphy, a Democrat, left office in 2017. They’ve since embarked on a tour, titled “Why Gridlock Rules Washington,” to share their less-than-ideal experiences in the nation’s capital.

And the duo doesn’t hold back. According to shared accounts from both Jolly and Murphy, their time in Congress was marred by partisan politics and an inability to get lawmakers to cooperate.

Jolly told listeners at a tour stop Tuesday night at Florida State University that he arrived in Washington with a plan to tackle problems — only to be encountered with a “reality” where bipartisanship, cooperation and compromise were seen as pitfalls for incumbents seeking reelection.

Like Jolly, Murphy said he came to Congress thinking he was going to “change the world.”

He shared a quick anecdote that proved to him otherwise.

Murphy said an early initiative of his to eliminate several special projects in the budget didn’t get the bipartisan support that was promised. The would-be Republican sponsor’s reelection would’ve been negatively targeted by leadership who did not want to see bipartisan success in the chamber, Murphy said.

Murphy said Democratic leadership does the same thing in tit-for-tat fashion.

The talk went on with the lawmakers outlining the problems they believe are directly linked to, even responsible for, gridlock in D.C. Those problems include gerrymandering, closed primaries, an overemphasis on campaign finance and the mainstream media habit of rewarding polarizing politicians with airtime.

Jolly and Murphy outlined potential fixes for the issues, too. Nearly all involved far-reaching changes that would alter the status quo — but the two hinted that their proposed solutions are more practical given the current national political climate.

And they might be right. Jolly said the turnout on the college circuit has been great — especially given the subject material being discussed.

“It’s not like we’re talking about really salacious things,” Jolly said. “We’re talking about gerrymandering and open primaries — this isn’t ‘Fire and Fury.’”

At least one of the solutions discussed by Jolly and Murphy had some steam in the state earlier this year.

The Constitution Revision Commission was considering a proposal that would’ve opened the state’s primaries to all voters. It was later amended to provide for advancing the top two candidates, regardless of their party affiliations, to the general ballot.

However, a committee within the CRC killed the proposal unanimously earlier this month. Currently, voters can only vote for primary candidates within their respective registered parties.

Jolly spoke in depth about opening the state’s primary election system. He said he “journeyed politically” to his stance now.

“I’m willing to say let’s open up primaries to allow candidates to compete for broader constituencies,” Jolly said.

In an interview with Florida Politics, Jolly and Murphy also discussed their time together in Congress. Jolly said he’d work on bills with Murphy, but that collaboration often was stifled by party leadership.

Jolly said the lack of a DACA fix in Washington is a “good example” of how structural issues dominate policy in Congress. He said moderate lawmakers on both sides of the aisle cannot afford compromise on the issue if they intend to be reelected.

“The problem is if the two parties actually compromised on [DACA], at least in years past, they would all be primaried back home,” Jolly said.

Jolly and Murphy also were asked if they intend to run for office in the near future.

Murphy has said he won’t run for his old seat against incumbent Republican Brian Mast this year.

But on Tuesday Murphy added, “I’d be surprised if either one of us didn’t end up on the ballot at some point.” He said their interest in the state of Florida, as evidenced by the tour, could result in one of them running for office to represent the state again.

As for Jolly, who would for his old seat have to square off against incumbent Charlie Crist, “it’s going to go all the way to the filing deadline.”

Matt Caldwell tops Ag Commissioner field in January fundraising

State Rep. Matt Caldwell touted another fundraising win in the race to take over for termed out Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in the fall.

The Lehigh Acres Republican brought in a combined $106,100 last month – $50,100 for his campaign and another $56,000 for his political committee, Friends of Matt Caldwell.

The numbers outshined his two Republican Primary opponents, Sebring Sen. Denise Grimsley and former Winter Haven Rep. Baxter Troutman, who raised $86,440 and $79,500, respectively.

“Matt continues to demonstrate he is the hardest working candidate in the race for Commissioner of Agriculture. As he continues to build momentum, he has outraised his opponents month-to-month, has traveled more than 46,000 miles across the State since May, and has continued to prove he is the principled conservative in the race,” campaign spokesman Brian Swensen said.

Caldwell’s campaign money came in across 78 contributions, including five for $3,000, the maximum donation for statewide primary campaigns.

Max donors included Mayo Fertilizer, Ramba Law Group, Mike LaRosa-chaired political committee Floridians for Opportunity, Rebeka Dorworth and CED Strategies.

The committee cash was spread across 11 contributions, led by a $20,000 check from political committee Main Street Leadership Council. Disney chipped in $10,000, followed by $5,000 a piece from East Coast Builders and Developers and a political committee chaired by Sanford Republican Rep. Jason Brodeur.

Expenditures for Caldwell’s two accounts totaled $67,702 last month, with about $15,000 heading to Gainesville-based Data Targeting and $12,300 heading to Miami-based Ebbets Strategies for consulting work. Numerous smaller consulting contracts made up the bulk of other spending.

The January numbers left Caldwell with more than $1.11 million in the bank – $742,000 for the committee and nearly $375,000 for the campaign.

Troutman still holds the cash on hand crown with more than $2.54 million banked, though he kicked off his campaign with with a $2.5 million self-contribution.

His campaign account posted his best total since he filed with $69,500 across 94 contributions, including five for $3,000. Those donors were FCCI Services, Mattco Enterprises, Orange Lake Country Club, The K Team Real Estate Service and Winter Haven Chrysler Dodge Jeep.

Troutman’s committee, iGrow PC, tacked on $10,000 from DAB Constructors.

Spending clocked in at $34,400, including a $10,000 payment to Public Concepts for campaign consulting, $9,500 to Acquire Digital for web hosting, $5,500 to Carlo Fassi for consulting work and $5,000 to the Archmann Group for fundraising help.

Grimsley’s campaign hauled in $45,940 of the January money while her committee, Saving Florida’s Heartland, brought in the balance, including a $20,000 check from the Ryan Tyson-chaired political committee Florida Prosperity Fund.

Expenditures totaled $49,259, including $10,600 to Strategic Digital Services for digital ads, $7,000 to Empire Strategies for management consulting work and $6,666 to Creative Policy Group for campaign consulting.

Heading into February, Grimsley had $909,459 on hand between the two accounts.

Fundraising remained sluggish for Democrat David Walker, who raised $3,839 including loans and spent $5,006 last month, leaving him with just $461 in his campaign account. Newly filed Democrats Jeffrey Duane Porter and Thomas Clayton White posted fundraising waivers for the month.

UF student vies for HD 21 seat

Shreyas Amol Jethwani is enrolled in undergraduate political science courses at the University of Florida, but that hasn’t stopped him from taking a stab at a state House seat in the 2018 midterms.

The 21-year-old junior believes the climate is right for a paradigm shift in what defines a public servant, something he’s hoping to capture in his bid for Gainesville’s House District 21.

“Every 20 years or so in American politics there is a point at which we redefine what it means to be a public servant …  We’re at that point,” Jethwani said during an interview with Florida Politics.

A progressive Democrat, Jethwani believes it’s that tipping point, and a push from the rumored ‘blue wave,’ that will ultimately propel him to securing HD 21, which is currently occupied by Republican Chuck Clemons.

“We just have to reignite that spark and capitalize on it and build some strong momentum for the blue wave in 2018,” Jethwani said.

He said he’s always been interested in politics. His parents immigrated to the U.S. from India, where his father was a journalist. Jethwani, who was born in Ocala, said his father had impressed upon him the importance of being in tune to current events.

“I’ve always been raised to be conscious and aware of what’s going on in the world around me,” Jethwani said. He also said it was an interest in the environment — fueled by the wooded areas and springs that surround his hometown — that paved a way for his political involvement.

In the fifth grade, Jethwani began working at a tiger sanctuary in Citra, later becoming involved with an environmental group in middle school. By high school, he was conducting research for Silver Springs in coordination with the Howard T. Odum Florida Springs Institute at UF. That ultimately led to a stint on the board of directors for the Silver Springs Alliance, a nonprofit advocacy group dedicated to raising awareness of the issues facing the area’s springs and water systems.

But it wasn’t until high school that Jethwani began to explore the contours of the Democratic Party. And once he arrived at UF, he promptly joined the College Democrats chapter as chair of the environmental caucus.

Jethwani now is the political director for the chapter and deputy political director for the Florida College Democrats state board. He’s volunteered time on Democratic campaigns and has worked on communications teams for student government parties. He also was a fellow for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

So, by no means is Jethwani a political novice. Still, he conceded that running his own campaign has been a learning experience.

“There’s been a lot of googling involved to make sure everything we’re doing is within the boundaries of what we should be doing,” Jethwani said. He said his campaign has held a successful fundraising event and intends to produce robust numbers through August and, hopefully, November.

Jethwani faces primary candidate Jason Haeseler, a registered professional engineer and an associate director of utilities at UF. On Haeseler, Jethwani claims the two are distinct.

“We present two different options, two very contrasting options to the voters of Florida,” Jethwani said.

While refraining from delving into his primary opponent, Jethwani did not hold back on vague criticisms of Clemons’ tenure at the seat.

“My candidacy provides the option for voters to choose someone who truly wants to just fight for them,” Jethwani said. “Someone who wants to represent the interests of the district and listen to the constituency,” instead of “blundering forward” with “reckless policy decisions.”

On the makeup of his electorate, Jethwani said one of the campaign’s primary goals is to get as many people registered before the elections. He also said there is voter apathy among “a lot” of Democrats in his district and among non-party affiliates.

In 2016, Clemons defeated Democrat Marihelen Wheeler with 53.7 percent of the vote.

When asked about overcoming the Republican-friendly nature of HD 21, Jethwani was quick to point out that Clinton carried the district in 2016. He’s hoping to capture a similar result if he makes it to the ballot in November. He also said the presidency of Donald Trump likely has activated more people in his district, including some who are now helping his campaign.

“In this post-Trump election world, there are a lot more people who are ready to engage and ready to go out to the polls or volunteer their time on the race,” said Jethwani, who has amassed about 35 organizers for his campaign — “all of whom are millennials.”

If elected, Jethwani said he’s looking to tackle issues in the economy and environment, as well as problems facing education and health care. Some of his policy points are very progressive, such as wanting universal access to health care and resources like the internet, but he’s also talking about more obscure issues. He said he’d like to implement policies that ensure graduate retention in the state, invest in Florida’s infrastructure and revamp early childhood education.

Filing in late January, Jethwani had a little over a week to formally fundraise ahead of his first finance report. In that period he brought in a little more than $2,000, with more than $900 of that coming from a loan. He’s optimistic his campaign’s net worth will strengthen in the coming months. On Thursday, the camp will host a fundraising event at First Magnitude Brewing Company in Gainesville.

Margaret Good’s campaign refunds contributions after being notified it exceeded limits

House District 72 Democratic candidate Margaret Good has seen a flood of fundraising from the Tampa Bay area and across the nation in the last month, but in at least two cases her contributors have exceeded campaign donation limits.

Two people have given to Good in excess of $1,000 for the special election on Tuesday. Florida Statute 106.08.1 states that the limit for a campaign contribution for an individual running for legislative office is $1,000 for a primary election and $1,000 for the general election.

Henry Lord, a prominent Democrat from New Haven, Connecticut, who gave more than $326,000 to Democrats and Democratic-oriented groups in the 2016 election cycle, has made eight different contributions to Good’s campaign in January and February, totaling $1,705.

Meanwhile, Cornelle Maxfield of Bradenton made two contributions to Good’s campaign. One was for $1,000 on Dec. 10. The second contribution of $50 was registered on Feb. 5, totaling $1,050.

Governor Rick Scott signed legislation in 2013 increasing the caps on individual donations to legislative candidates from $500 to $1,000 and to statewide candidates from $500 to $3,000.

Good is running against Republican James Buchanan and Libertarian Alison FoxallThe Buchanan camp jumped on the news, just hours before the polls open on Tuesday.

“It’s another example of Margaret’s deceitful campaign,” said Nick Catroppo, Buchanan’s campaign manager. “Her questionable judgment makes it clear that she should not be in elected office.”

According to Florida Statute 106.08 (7)(a), “Any person who knowingly and willfully makes or accepts two or more contributions in violation of subsection (1) or subsection (5) commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084.”

Hours after Florida Politics informed the Good campaign about the excessive contributions, it announced it had refunded the excess funds.

“We received thousands of donations from supporters all across the district that believe in our campaign and our vision for Florida. As soon as we became aware of the over-contributions, we refunded the donations and amended the report,” Good told Florida Politics.

Good campaign officials responded a bit more indignantly.

“That the Buchanan campaign would attempt to make an issue of a minor clerical error is laughable given his camp’s abuse of the campaign finance system, using untraceable money through dark money PACs to spread negative personal attacks,” said Reggie Cardozo with House Victory. “This reeks of desperation, which is understandable given that our last report reflected thousands of donations from grassroots supporters while theirs was kept afloat by his wealthy family and special interest money.”

State, voting rights group disagree on how to handle clemency process

In response to a federal judge saying that the Florida’s voting rights restoration process is unconstitutional, the state’s legal team said Monday the state’s clemency board should fix its flaws — not the courts.

State Solicitor General Amit Agarwal argued that U.S. District Judge Mark Walker should not issue any corrective orders, saying “there is no reason to upend the state’s constitutional and statutory framework.”

Rather, the Board of Executive Clemency itself should come up with a system that meets constitutional muster.

Fair Election Legal Network, the group that sued the state for running a system that “hinders former felons from truly reentering society,” disagreed.

The national voting rights group said the court should order the state to restore the voting rights of former felons after “any waiting period of a specific duration of time” set forth by the state or the board.

Currently, that waiting period is five years after completing their sentences. Except for those convicted of murder or a sex offenses; they must wait seven years.

The legal teams of both groups filed their briefs with Walker, who had ordered them to submit briefs to find a remedy for the system’s deficiencies.

“An injunction requiring (the state) to affirmatively act to create a new vote-restoration procedure would be inappropriate,” the state argued.

Federal courts, it added, “cannot issue an order that is tantamount to saying ‘act right.’ ”

Scott has helped shape the current voter-restoration system which requires all felons to wait at least five years after they serve their sentences to apply to have their voting rights restored.

The clemency board that oversees a felon’s case consists of Scott and the three members of the Florida Cabinet—Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, Attorney General Pam Bondi and state CFO Jimmy Patronis. The governor, however, does have sole power to reject an application.

It can take years for the board to hear a case and currently the state has a backlog of more than 10,000 cases, which could cost taxpayers $500,000 to fix next year if the Legislature approves it.

The state of Florida is home to about 1.5 million citizens who cannot cast a vote.

As the legal fight continues in court, Floridians will be able to cast their own ballot in November to decide whether ex-felons should have their voting rights automatically restored.

A citizen initiative to add a “Voting Restoration Amendment” to the state constitution needs 60 percent approval. If it passes, the amendment could have wide-ranging political implications in the nation’s largest swing state.

Official Florida House photo

Frank White raised $110K in January for Attorney General campaign

Pensacola Republican Rep. Frank White is nearing $2 million cash on hand after bringing in $109,557 between his campaign and committee accounts last month.

White added $62,500 of that cash through his political committee, United Conservatives, with another $47,000 coming in through his campaign account.

The committee money included a $50,000 contribution from Sansing Holdings, a business tied to Pensacola auto dealer Sandy Sansing. Also chipping in was pharmaceutical company Phizer, which gave $5,000, followed by the Committee of Florida Agents, Bayard Timberland and J.R. Advertising at $2,500 a piece.

The campaign cash came in across 55 contributions, including a half dozen for $3,000 the maximum contribution for statewide campaigns.

Max donors included Mark and Tetiana Pieloch, political committee 1845, fuel distribution company Sunshine Dade Investments and lobbyist Ron Book.

White spent about $53,000 in January, leaving him with $1.98 million on hand between the two accounts at the end of the month. That sum includes a $1.5 million self contribution White used to kickstart his campaign last year.

January spending mainly went toward a handful of consulting contracts, including $16,750 in payments to Acquire Digital, $10,000 to the Archmann Group, $5,000 to Erin Isaac, $3,800 to Data Targeting and $2,000 to Tricia Murray.

White is running against former circuit court judge Ashley Moody and fellow state Reps. Jay Fant and Ross Spano in the Republican primary for Attorney General. Competing for the Democratic nomination are Tampa Rep. Sean Shaw and Ryan Torrens.

Neither Fant nor Moody had reported their January numbers by Monday afternoon. Spano, the most recent GOP filer, added $28,425 last month and has about $70,000 on hand.

Jack Latvala begins refunding money to gubernatorial campaign contributors

The checks are in the mail.

Or at least they will be.

According to sources close to former state Senator Jack Latvala, the process of refunding contributions to his campaign for Governor has begun.

Latvala announced last fall that he would run for Florida governor. A prodigious fundraiser, the veteran lawmaker quickly raised nearly $1 million for his bid.

But Latvala’s ambitions came to a screeching halt late last year after he stepped down from the Legislature because of a high-profile sex scandal, which he has denied but which continues to burn,

Since that time, questions have been raised about when Latvala would officially leave the gubernatorial race and what would he do with the money he had raised for his campaign and his political committee.

Now we have our first answers.

Contributors to Latvala’s gubernatorial campaign will receive a refund for approximately one-half of their original contribution, says a source familiar with Latvala’s exit strategy.

***Update – 5:38 p.m.*** According to Latvala’s January campaign finance report, his campaign has made 12 – $1,500 refunds, beginning January 23.

Contributors are receiving pro rata refunds because, as first reported by the Miami Herald, Latvala’s been spending some of his campaign funds on legal fees to defend himself in the scandal.

In December he made payments of $100,000 to the law offices of Steven R. Andrews P.A., and $12,705 to the Adams and Reese LLP law firm, and he made a payment of $40,000 to Andrews in November.

According to the December campaign finance report available (which is a month old; new numbers are due today, February 10), Latvala’s gubernatorial campaign had raised $977,903, and also took a $20,000 loan from the candidate. After expenses, it had $635,686 left.

While this move answers the question about what Latvala intends to do with the money raised for his campaign account, it doesn’t answer what the Pinellas Republican plans to do with the more than $3.9 million he still has in his Florida Leadership Committee fund.

It’s very possible Latvala plans to sit on that account for the foreseeable future.

Florida Politics reporter Scott Powers contributed to this post.

Rick Scott

Rick Scott continues committee spending spree

A political committee controlled by Gov. Rick Scott posted $10,000 in contributions and $95,000 in spending, marking the fourth month in a row expenditures outweighed income.

Let’s Get to Work took in a pair of $5,000 contributions, one from Illinois-based Covenant Aviation Security and another from Kansas City-based HNTB Holdings PAC.

A good chunk of the spending, $26,606, went to Maryland-based OnMessage. Scott has used the company for media production and consulting for years and has paid the company more than $2.5 million for its services since the political committee was formed in 2014.

Contribution Link received $16,000 last month for database services, while former Republican Party of Florida Finance Director Debbie Aleksander received nearly $19,500 for consulting and expenses and Robert Manders received $6,400 for finance consulting.

Let’s Get to Work has brought in nearly $57.5 million since its inception, but at the end of January the political committee had about $338,000 on hand. The on-hand total has dwindled at a fast pace over the past four months, as the committee has spent nearly $2.6 million while raising just under $150,000.

Scott is widely expected to challenge U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in his re-election campaign in the fall.

Nelson is one of a handful of incumbent Democratic senators who is running for re-election in a state carried by President Donald Trump in 2016.

Through the end of 2017, Nelson had about $8 million on hand in his re-election account. That figure includes about $2.3 million in contributions and $792,000 in spending in the fourth quarter.

Florida gets an ‘F’ in election security, new report says

Florida is a failure when it comes to election security, according to a new report announced Monday.

But it’s being challenged as misleading by local and state election officials.

In giving Florida an “F” grade, the report from the liberal Center for American Progress (CAP) cited several factors, including voting machines that don’t provide a paper trail and the lack of a robust system to audit election outcomes.

CAP examined security in voting systems for all 50 U.S. states, finding most election systems remain vulnerable to hacking and other interference by foreign governments bent on disrupting the election process.

Florida is one of only five states to get an F grade. No state received an A.

Florida was among 21 states targeted by Russia-based hackers during the presidential election, according to the Department of Homeland Security. The attempt was unsuccessful, according to the Florida Department of State.

“This report should spur demand across the country for urgent steps needed to defend America’s election security against another attempt by a foreign nation to disrupt our elections,” said Danielle Root, the report’s lead author. “While vulnerabilities in the election infrastructure still exist, it’s encouraging to see some states taking steps to better protect their elections.”

The CAP report says it’s problematic that audits are conducted in Florida after an election has been certified. Audits are not bound to election outcomes, “even if they are found to be erroneous.”

The report also maintains that the state’s ballot accounting and reconciliation procedures need improvement. The report credits supervisors of elections who carry out logic and accuracy tests on all voting machines leading up to elections.

CAP recommends that Florida lawmakers should require all voting machines be tested to the EAC Voluntary Voting System Guidelines before being purchased and used in the state. It also recommends that county officials should be required to compare and reconcile precinct totals with composite results to confirm that they add up to the correct number.

A spokesperson for the Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections said the report is riddled with inaccuracies.

“While state law doesn’t require voting machines to be tested to EAC standards, we can only use equipment certified by the state, and the state’s certification is much stricter than EAC’s,” Gerri Kramer told Florida Politics in an email.

Kramer also said that the Hillsborough office does ballot accounting and reconciliation in a totally transparent manner, “posting election results on the doors of all polling places on Election Day, making voter registration records including voting history public, and including precinct-level results in our election reporting.”

On how the state is working to prevent cyber hacking, the report’s authors note that state election officials refused to provide any information about whether they share that with local supervisors of elections offices. This means that they were unable to learn if the state’s voter registration system has logging capabilities to track modifications to the database.

Nor are they aware whether the state’s voter registration system includes an intrusion detection system to monitor incoming and outgoing traffic for irregularities.

Even if Florida adheres to all of the minimum cybersecurity best practices for voter registration systems, the authors suggest the state’s overall grade would not change, given the point distribution in the other categories.

“The Department of State was notified by the Department of Homeland Security today that Florida was unsuccessfully targeted by hackers last year. This attempt was not in any way successful and Florida’s online elections databases and voting systems remained secure,” the Department of State told the Miami Herald last September. “Ensuring the security and integrity of Florida’s elections remains our top priority.”

Citing security concerns, Gov. Rick Scott asked the Legislature to approve nearly $2.4 million this year for cybersecurity efforts designed to protect election-related software and systems from outside hackers.

Kramer insists Hillsborough conducts ongoing cybersecurity training with all employees.

“For security purposes, we don’t talk about many of our processes to ensure cybersecurity,” Kramer writes. “But I will say again that this report is very misleading and doesn’t reflect Hillsborough County, or Florida’s, focus on providing safe and secure elections.”

A spokesman for the Florida Secretary of State’s office, Mark Ard, responded to the report late on Monday.

“This report is misleading,” Ard wrote in an email. “Florida was unable to participate in their study because it is against Florida Law (Section 282.318, F.S.) for the Department to provide much of the information requested by the Center for American Progress.  It’s ironic that because we kept protected information secure, we earned a failing grade.

“Our elections and voting systems are secure.  DOS will continue to work with all stakeholders to keep this important process safe and protected.”


Jimmy Patronis: Ron DeSantis’ vow to drain the Tallahassee swamp is ‘campaign rhetoric’

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis is ready for the campaign ahead: $2 million banked helps the Panama City Republican in that regard.

While Patronis has a virtually uncontested primary (although Sen. Tom Lee insists he will eventually enter the race), the same can’t be said for the top of the ticket.

For Governor, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, and (at least provisionally) House Speaker Richard Corcoran are all running.

Patronis, when asked which of the three would be best at carrying on the legacy of Gov. Rick Scott, was noncommittal.

“All those gentlemen have fantastic leadership abilities,” Patronis said Monday in Jacksonville. “They all bring a different skill set that complements what the state of Florida needs right now. All three of those gentlemen have that ability.”

“But the campaign is a great test of leadership, ideas, and skills. There will be mishaps, falls, but there will be opportunities,” Patronis added.

One of those mishaps or opportunities, depending on how one looks at it: DeSantis’ vow to “drain the swamp” in Tallahassee, which has been under Republican control for two decades.

We asked Patronis whether he thought Tallahassee was swampy, and if so, how swampy.

“I think Congressman DeSantis is having some fun with the rhetoric that we all see in Washington,” Patronis said.

“I think any business, any community, any organization is going to have warts. It happens,” Patronis added. “Tallahassee is a fantastic place, it really is. Good people making a difference. But hey, when personal people make personal decision sometimes that complicates professional situations.”

“To me, it’s campaign rhetoric,” Patronis said when we asked if Tallahassee was in need of swamp draining. “It is a great buzzword.”

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