Jax Archives - Page 3 of 482 - Florida Politics

No ‘rah-rah campaign rally’ for Ron DeSantis in Jacksonville with Hurricane Michael hammering Florida

As Category 4 Hurricane Michael prepared to slam the Panhandle and the Big Bend, Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis implored Jacksonville supporters to offer tangible help.

DeSantis deviated from the usual format of what he called a “rah-rah campaign rally” and turned his Wednesday morning campaign stop into a plea for hurricane relief. Dozens of supporters who showed up complied, helping to load staple items into a 15-foot U-Haul with a “Florida Strong” placard affixed to the side.

The truck was a third full by the time the efforts were complete.

The supplies, said DeSantis, would go “wherever makes sense after the storm.”

Diapers were on the ask list, said DeSantis, a lesson learned since his wife, Casey, and he had a daughter after Hurricane Matthew lashed his district.

“We didn’t have Madison yet,” DeSantis quipped. “Diapers and the formula and all that … very important for people with young children.”

DeSantis noted that just a week ago, no one expected a storm. Especially in recent days, it’s “grown in ferocity.”

The candidate also noted that he has talked to Gov. Rick Scott, who is “on top of this … concerned about the storm surge.”

“A 12-foot storm surge, that’s just life-threatening, no two ways about it,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis was not interested in discussing his campaign’s ads that pillory his general election opponent, Andrew Gillum, for botched response during Hurricane Hermine. Nor did he want to discuss the future of the campaign under its new manager, Jacksonville’s own Susie Wiles.

“There will be time for us to deal with that,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis, who was once stationed at Naval Station Mayport, used what could be described as Adam Putnam style messaging at the event, extolling veterans both as a class and contributors to the state and the region, and discussing his own work in Congress helping veterans with post-traumatic stress.

“Not everyone is called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice,” DeSantis said of the costs of war. “You’re basically writing a check to the United States of America up to and including your life.”

Fundraising freefall continues for Jacksonville City Council hopeful Bill Bishop

District 1 Jacksonville City Councilwoman Joyce Morgan faces a former two-term Councilman, Bill Bishop, in her re-election bid.

The binary campaign between the two is two months old, and a narrative is emerging that casts doubt on the ultimate utility of so-called “Bill-lievers.”

Morgan, a Democrat representing the Arlington area, in September stretched her cash lead over the stalled operation of Republican Bishop, who is just three years removed from drawing nearly 20 percent citywide in the Mayor’s race.

Bishop abandoned his citywide at-large Council seat run for a more localized race during the summer, but that move has not helped his cash position.

In September, Bishop raised just $300. This followed an August in which he raised $700.

Bishop, a former two-term Councilman, has just over $13,000 on hand, after a full year of campaigning.

Morgan, who filed for re-election this summer, didn’t have a particularly impressive haul. However, she did have some credible names in her donor pool, names that suggest more resources will be there should she need them, such as Florida Blue CEO Darnell Smith and Jacksonville University President Tim Cost.

Photo credit: Claire Goforth.

Nancy Soderberg expects to win the money race in CD 6.

New poll shows Nancy Soderberg, Michael Waltz statistically tied in CD 6

Democrat Nancy Soderberg and Republican Michael Waltz are tied in the race for Florida’s 6th Congressional District according to a new poll from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research.

The poll, conducted Oct. 1 through Oct. 4, found both candidates pulling 45 percent among voters in CD 6, the seat recently vacated by Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis. The remaining 9 percent are undecided.

The new numbers indicate there has been a bit of jockeying in the sprint toward Election Day — GQR’s prior measure of the race, released Sept. 6, found Waltz had a 2-point lead with only 7 percent of voters undecided. The pollster claims the Fox News personality’s slippage is due to weak support among Republicans.

“Waltz is failing to motivate his own base, earning just 75 percent of the vote among registered Republicans. Soderberg receives 82 percent of the vote among registered Democrats,” the polling memo says. “Soderberg also leads Waltz among self-ascribed independents by 20 percentage points and voters who are undecided more closely resemble Soderberg supporters than Waltz supporters.”

The GQR poll surveyed 400 voters via live telephone interviews with a 43 percent cell phone component. A third of the sample were registered Democrats, while 42 percent were Republicans and 24 percent were independents. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.

CD 6 covers parts of St. Johns, Putnam, Flagler and Volusia counties on Florida’s Atlantic coast. President Donald Trump won CD 6 by 17 points two years ago while DeSantis, who held the seat for three terms, won re-election by 17 points.

The Cook Political Report and Larry Sabato both rate CD 6 as “likely Republican,” while Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight puts the odds of a flip at less than 25 percent. Their forecasting model currently expects Waltz to win 52-48  in November.

Still, Soderberg had raised more than $1.7 million for her campaign through the pre-primary reporting period while Waltz had raised $1 million. She also held a nearly 4-to-1 lead in cash on hand thanks in part to Waltz having to get through a bruising three-way Republican primary.

Election Day is Nov. 6.

Northeast Florida candidate forum a sparring exhibition without knockout blows

There are relatively few multi-candidate forums in Northeast Florida’s general election season, so the evocatively titled Jacksonville Candidate Forum had a disproportionate importance for candidates seeking to introduce themselves to a general election audience.

One Congressional candidate, Democrat Ges Selmont, running in Florida’s 4th Congressional District, was on hand. Also present: state Sen. Aaron Bean and his general election opponent, Billee Bussard, along with a host of state House candidates.

Between gerrymandering and fundraising, there hasn’t been a lot of drama in most Northeast Florida campaigns. An exception: the high-priced HD 15 swing district battle between Democrat Tracye Polson and Republican Wyman Duggan. However, for these candidates, the forum theoretically offered the even playing field the donor class could do without.

However, as a forum (and not a debate) no knockout blows were on offer. Rather, it was a sparring exhibition: Candidates got 30 seconds to answer two questions, followed by a one-minute closing statement.

Despite the antiseptic format, candidates were able to make some points of note.

HD 12 Republican incumbent Clay Yarborough was put on the spot regarding potential Medicaid expansion. He noted that he would be open to a discussion of expansion that involved work requirements.

Yarborough’s Democratic challenger Tim Yost, when asked about raising the minimum wage, said it should be tied to an average rent in a market.

“$8.25 an hour is not going to get you there,” Yost said, when the median rent is $900 as it is in Jacksonville.

Moving on to HD 15’s donnybrook, Duggan got a build up in the introduction that described what a lobbyist does (a repeated Polson campaign critique of him) without using the word.

Duggan got questions that sidestepped the controversy of the campaign: one addressed veterans’ programs; the other regarded challenges in Florida’ K-12 system.

Duggan did not mention charters, but did describe a desire to bring back vocational education, so that graduates could get a “skilled trade certificate.”

Polson was asked her thoughts on Andrew Gillum‘s proposed corporate tax hike to 7.75 percent.

“97 percent of businesses do not pay corporate income tax,” Polson noted, adding that the tax hike would fund schools.

“That I am in favor of,” Polson said, offering up a quote for a future Duggan mailer.

HD 16’s incumbent Republican Rep. Jason Fischer got an interesting question in which he was asked why he retweeted Jeff Brandes‘ calls for medical marijuana distribution reform.

Fischer noted that cannabis is Schedule 1 and that he voted against the implementation bill “because it created a cartel.”

“We need to look at how government doesn’t create a monopoly,” Fischer said, describing a system where a few operators get wealthy overtly, but at the same time hinting at a reform debate that will animate Tallahassee no matter who is elected Governor.

What chippiness there was, meanwhile, came from a surprising place.

Ges Selmont, running for Congress in CD 4, lamented that Republican incumbent John Rutherford is ducking a debate.

“Why would I give him a platform for his ideas,” Selmont quoted Rutherford, who has a 100-1 cash on hand advantage, as saying.

Rutherford was not present to respond.

Randy DeFoor pads coffers in Jacksonville City Council bid

In the race to succeed Republican Jim Love on the Jacksonville City Council, Love’s fellow Republican Randy DeFoor expanded her cash on hand lead after September receipts.

But in what could be a preview of a runoff election, Democrat Sunny Gettinger is keeping pace.

As of the end of September, DeFoor had roughly $157,000 on hand between her campaign account and her Safe and Prosperous Jacksonville political committee.

DeFoor brought in $10,050 of new money to the campaign account, and an additional $5,000 to her political committee.

First Coast Energy was the big donor this cycle; its CEO Aubrey Edge is a supporter of Mayor Lenny Curry, and DeFoor is aligned with that political operation.

Gettinger, meanwhile, saw declining receipts for the fourth straight month. Her September haul of $4,245 was the slowest month of her campaign, giving her over $96,000 on hand.

Her key donors last month included connected local businessman Walt Bussells and Jon Heymann, the longtime leader of the Jacksonville Children’s Commission.

DeFoor and Gettinger are better positioned financially than the two male candidates in the race, who have yet to report September numbers.

Republican Henry Mooneyhan had roughly $12,000 on hand at the end of August. Democrat Jimmy Peluso had roughly $36,000 at his disposal.

Jacksonville municipal races see a first election in March. If no one wins that blanket primary with a majority, the top two finishers move on, regardless of party, to the May general election.

Jacksonville fulfills terms of DOJ disability rights settlement

After over five years of work by the City of Jacksonville to meet Americans with Disabilities Act goals, the city got the all-clear from the Department of Justice on Friday.

The DOJ Civil Rights division wrote city officials, noting that the city had fulfilled the terms of its voluntary, pre-litigative Project Civic Access agreement.

The agreement, per a 2013 post by the Justice Department, was wide-ranging:

“During the compliance review, the Department reviewed 64 of the city’s facilities. The agreement requires the city to correct deficiencies identified at the 64 facilities and requires Jacksonville to review and correct identified deficiencies at hundreds of additional facilities.”

Those facilities had all been built or modified since 1992, and included libraries, community and senior centers, a boat ramp, fire stations, athletic fields and sports complexes, City Hall, parks, the Jacksonville Zoo, detention and corrections facilities, parking garages, and polling places.

The city had to improve accessibility, ranging from parking to drinking fountains.

Efforts for Braille and sign-language translations and translators likewise were mandated. Barriers at polling places and to emergency services likewise had to be removed, and sidewalks and other public infrastructure required work also.

There could be other issues not addressed in the 2013 agreement, per the Justice Department, which stresses that closing the agreement does not mean the city is perfectly compliant.

Pharma concerns power Clay Yarborough fundraising

Freshmen Jacksonville-area Republican state Rep. Clay Yarborough continued to maintain a strong cash lead over his Democratic challenger as September ended.

Yarborough, running in Southside Jacksonville’s Republican-plurality House District 12, brought in $6,000 between Sept. 15 and 28.

Of that haul, $4,000 came from the biggest companies in Big Pharma: Eli LillyBristol Myers SquibbPfizer and Astrazeneca all cut the Arlington Republican checks.

All told, he has raised $171,225 and has $103,918 of that on hand.

Yarborough faces Democrat Tim Yost, who raised $610 in the same period. All told, Yost has $11,225 on hand of the $17,558 he has raised.

Yarborough made news last week for becoming the regional head of the Yes on 3 campaign, designed to make expansions of casino gambling contingent on citizen referendums.

Aaron Bean beefs up cash lead in re-election bid

Republican state Sen. Aaron Bean, whose Senate District 4 encompasses all of Nassau and part of Duval County, continued to pad his campaign account during the last full week of September receipts.

From Sept. 15-28, Bean raised $22,200 between his campaign account and that of his political committee, Florida Conservative Alliance.

Among the donors on the committee side: Florida Blue and the Florida Pharmacist Political Committee.

The campaign account donors included Southern Gardens Citrus, U.S. Sugar, and Comcast.

Bean has $89,908 in the committee account and $107,567 in the campaign account, giving him $197,475 to work with during the campaign stretch run.

Bean maintains comfortable leads over his opponents. Democrat Billee Bussard has $6,558 on hand after raising $5,760 in the same two week period. Libertarian Joanna Tavares does not fundraise and has roughly $40 on hand.

The district is nearly half Republican. With just over 360,381 registered voters, 174,580 Republicans and 100,307 Democrats call SD 4 home. The remaining voters are either NPA or third party, including 1,466 registered Libertarians.

Bean last faced a competitive general election in 2012, when he defeated former Ambassador Nancy Soderberg 62 percent to 38 percent.

Cord Byrd expands cash lead in HD 11 re-election bid

Freshman Jacksonville-area Republican state Rep. Cord Byrd continued to maintain strong cash leads over his Democratic challenger as September closed.

Byrd, whose majority-Republican House District 11 includes coastal Duval and all of Nassau County, brought in $8,100 of new money between Sept. 15 and 28, pushing his campaign account over $49,000 on hand. Comcast and Duke Energy PAC were among the $1,000 donors.

Byrd also has over $10,000 in his 1845 political committee.

His general election opponent, Nathcelly Rohrbaugh, mostly kept pace with Byrd when it came to late September receipts, bringing in $4,442 of new money, pushing his campaign account over $16,000 on hand.

Labor money, including from a Sheet Metal Workers local and the North Florida Central Labor Council, added to Rohrbaugh’s haul.

Money momentum for Jim Overton in Duval Tax Collector bid

As September ended, a familiar narrative continued.

Republican Jim Overton maintained his lead in the money race with Democrat Mia Jones for Duval County Tax Collector — even though she was the choice of almost 47 percent of voters in the August blanket primary.

The latest filings to the Duval County Supervisor of Elections run through Sept. 28.

Overton (a former City Councilman and Property Appraiser) now has over $43,000 on hand after raising $16,034 in the two weeks leading up to the 28th.

Among the latest donors: Peter Rummell, the Jacksonville developer closely aligned with Jacksonville Mayor Lenny CurryHans Tanzler; and a couple of entities associated with Jacksonville Landing developer Toney Sleiman, currently feuding with Mayor Curry.

Jones was less productive during the Sept. 15 to 28 timeframe, raising just $3,835 and giving her nearly $20,000 on hand. Prominent backers include the AFSCME union and local trial lawyer Wayne Hogan.

Democrats enjoy a registration advantage in Duval County. Of the just over 600,000 registered voters, 244,542 are Democrats, compared to 219,850 Republicans.

However, that advantage doesn’t translate to wins in citywide races. All constitutional officers in Duval County are currently Republicans.

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