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Job recruiting tech firm randrr to add 200 jobs, $9 million investment in Jacksonville

Gov. Rick Scott announced Wednesday that an online job recruiting company will add 200 jobs and make $9 million in investments in Jacksonville.

“We are excited to welcome randrr to Jacksonville and celebrate the company’s creation of 200 new jobs,” Scott said. “randrr chose to establish its new offices in Florida over several other locations across the country, including Silicon Valley and New York, because of our talented workforce and focus on STEM education.”

The tech company already employs 15 Floridians and plans to add at least 50 of the 200 new hires by the end of 2016. Currently, the company is asking those interested in working for the company to send CEO Terry Terhark a message through their website or via text message.

“Our team at randrr is working very hard to create a platform that will change the way people and companies connect and we’re thrilled to be recognized today,” Terhark said. “I want to thank Gov. Rick Scott and Jacksonville leaders for their commitment to creating a world-class technology environment where companies like randrr can find the talent we need.”

Terhark, a former executive at payroll company ADP, said he founded randrr after his daughter had trouble finding a job after college. The company is developing a website and mobile app focusing on job seekers, rather than employers.

The deal with randrr was helped along by incentives money from state and local governments, though exact details on what the company will receive were not released.

Anitere Flores leads Senate pack in latest fundraising

Miami Republican Sen. Anitere Flores announced Wednesday she raised more than $250,000 last month between her campaign and political committee.

“I am humbled and overwhelmed by the continued support our campaign has received, not only door-to-door in the community, but also by financial support within the region and our district,” Flores said. “Every dollar raised equates to direct voter contact and increasing our ability to get out our message and meeting our goals for our campaign. We are fighting for the future of our community, and I am grateful for the amazing support we have received.”

Flores’ campaign raised the bulk of the money, with $153,000 in contributions last month compared to $100,000 for her committee, “Floridians for Strong Leadership.”

The committee now sits with $257,850 on hand after $23,039 in expenditures last month. The second-term senator has not yet released the full report for her campaign account, so it is unknown how much she has on hand, though as of April 30 she had about $305,000 in the bank.

Among Flores’ political committee donors last month were the Associated Industries of Florida, which chipped in $25,000, as well Wal-Mart and U.S. Sugar, both of which gave $10,000. The bulk of committee expenses went to advertising, including a $13,700 payment to Clear Channel Outdoor.

Flores is running in the newly redrawn Senate District 39, which isn’t as friendly to GOP candidates as her current district. According to the district plan, Republican voters make up 36.4 percent of the electorate, the same percent share as Democrats, though back in 2012 President Barack Obama carried the district by about five points and Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson won by 10 points.

Currently, Flores is the only Republican running in SD 39, though she faces a tough fight against Democrat Andrew Korge in the general. Through April, the real estate businessman had more than $163,000 on hand in his campaign account and another $322,000 on hand from his political committee, “Friends of Andrew Korge.”

The third-generation Miamian hasn’t posted his full May report yet, though he announced earlier this week he raised another $102,000 last month.

Also running is no-party candidate Sheila George, who had less than $100 in her campaign account at the end of April. Full campaign finance reports for all candidates are due Friday.

HD 17 Republican Cyndi Stevenson raises $11K in May

House District 17 incumbent Cyndi Stevenson faces no electoral challenges in her solidly Republican St. Johns County district, so fundraising is not as high priority as it might be for other candidates.

Despite this, Stevenson continues to bring in respectable monthly tallies, and May was no exception.

New money totaling $11,491 brings Stevenson’s total raised up to $89,078 after May’s tally. She has just over $65,000 on hand for her re-election bid.

Stevenson’s money in May largely came from Ponte Vedra Beach and Jacksonville, with stalwarts of the donor class, such as Ed Burr and his Greenpointe Holdings and the Rummell Company all showing up in the donor column.

Stevenson spent $2,616 in May, the bulk of it with Front Line Strategies for routine campaign expenses.

Rob Bradley political committee, campaign account combine for $83K May

Northeast Florida State Sen. Rob Bradley had a strong month of fundraising in May, totaling $83,000 between his political committee and his campaign account.

Bradley’s Senate District 7 includes Clay, Alachua, and Bradford counties. He faces no opposition in the 2016 election.

The real action was on the political committee side, where “Working for Florida’s Families” raised $76,000, the bulk of it from three donors.

The “Florida Jobs PAC,” an adjunct of the Florida Chamber, donated $30,000 to Bradley’s PAC. Disney Worldwide Services ponied up $25,000. And Fidelity National Financial gave Bradley’s PAC $10,000.

Bradley’s PAC, in total, has raised $549,525 and has just over $334,000 cash on hand.

Bradley’s campaign account raised $7,500 in new money in May, $5,500 coming from the insurance industry to Bradley, chair of the Regulated Industries Committee.

In May, Bradley spent $15,712,69, the bulk of it on direct mail and advertising.

Bradley has raised a total of $476,256 for his campaign account, and has just over $348,000 cash on hand.

Charles Cofer: Matt Shirk is using public employees for campaign purposes

The 4th Circuit Public Defender race, encompassing Duval, Clay, and Nassau counties, is heating up, as challenger Charles Cofer charges incumbent Matt Shirk is using state-paid public employees of the Office of Public Defender for his campaign.

“It is clear that Mr. Shirk has found it difficult to raise funds to support his campaign,” Cofer said. “It is also clear that his solution to this problem is to have taxpayers finance his campaign indirectly through his Public Defender’s Office budget. This is clearly illegal and unethical.”

At issue: Shirk’s “public relations employee,” Sam Shiver. A GOP political consultant, Shiver operates the campaign consulting firm S.O.S. Consulting while drawing $73,000 a year from the public payroll.

The press release from the Cofer campaign asserts S.O.S. Consulting contributed $500 to Shirk’s re-election campaign. Shiver commonly attends political functions with Shirk during working hours, claims Cofer.

“The only role that a public relations employee can have at the Public Defender’s Office is to try and restore Mr. Shirk’s tarnished reputation within the community,” Cofer said. “The most appalling aspect of this sham is the dishonest manner in which Mr. Shirk has chosen to use public money to help pay obvious campaign expenses, like the salary of his political consultant.”

Shiver’s firm is not being paid out of the campaign account for campaign work, said Cofer, who added that Shiver is being overpaid “in order to receive kickbacks” to Shirk’s campaign account.

“This is an obvious illegal diversion of taxpayer funds.” Cofer said. “I call on Mr. Shirk to immediately discontinue this illegal and unethical practice.”

Shirk’s Campaign Manager Peret Pass refutes the claims.

“For someone who is so confident that our campaign is struggling, all Mr. Cofer seems to be able to do is talk about what he thinks we are doing. This is yet another attempt by our opposition to try to mislead the voters by spreading inaccurate information about our campaign,” Pass wrote.

“If you check our campaign expenditures, you will see Pass Consulting Group is the only consulting entity being paid. Mr. Shiver is in no way involved in our re-election effort. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. We are proud of our accomplishments in office and are confident in the voters and their ability to see through the nonsense from our opposition.”

Endorsement roundup: Matt Hudson, Beth Tuura, Bob Rommel pick up support

A trio of candidates picked up significant endorsements Wednesday morning: state Rep. Matt Hudson for Senate District 28, Beth Tuura in House District 47 and Bob Rommel for House District 106.

Endorsing Hudson is the Collier County Republican Executive Committee, which announced its support of the state representative after a meeting Tuesday night.

With 66 of the 83 votes cast, as reported by the Naples Daily News, the committee recommended Hudson as the best candidate to represent SD 28, which includes Collier, Hendry and part of Lee counties. State Rep. Kathleen Passidomo also received 51 votes.

“Thank you to the Collier County Republican Executive Committee for endorsing me as the best candidate to represent our Southwest Florida community,” Hudson said in a statement. “I am humbled to receive the support of our local grassroots organization, and I look forward to continuing to campaign on a platform that advocates for lowering taxes for Florida families and businesses, cutting government spending and implementing a balanced budget for the State of Florida.”

Hudson has served in the House since 2007, currently in HD 80, which includes portions of Collier and Hendry counties. He was named speaker pro tempore in 2014.

Hudson’s platform includes lowering taxes for families and businesses, cutting government spending and implementing a balanced budget for the State of Florida.,

In HD 47, former state Rep. Linda Stewart is endorsing Tuura to replace her in the central Florida seat that includes Downtown Orlando, Thornton Park, Baldwin Park and Belle Isle.

“Her social and business experiences will make her a great voice for women and working families in Central Florida,” Stewart, who served in HD 47 from 2012-14, said in a statement Wednesday. She is currently running for state Senate District 13.

Stewart has been a longtime activist in the district, both as a County Commissioner and in Tallahassee, fighting for equality, women’s rights and working families. Tuura has vowed to continue Stewart’s efforts on issues such as fair wages, expanding access to health care, and strengthening public education.

“I have had the pleasure of working alongside Representative Linda Stewart in the past and I am honored to have her endorsement,” Tuura said. “I will fight to win back District 47 and bring my business and leadership skills to Tallahassee to get Florida back on track.”

Tuura, who has lived in Florida since 2000, is a three-time National Sports Emmy Award-winning television professional. In 2014, she was inducted into the Murrow Alumni Hall of Achievement at her alma mater, Washington State University. Tuura is married and lives in Orlando.

Rommel picked up the endorsement of former State Rep. Tom Grady of Naples in the race for House District 106.

Elected in 2008, Grady represents House District 76, which due to redistricting is now District 106.

“Bob Rommel is a committed conservative, and I am proud to support him,” said Grady. “He understands that smaller government and more freedom aren’t just good principles, but the path to greater prosperity. I know we can count on him to fight for those values in Tallahassee.”

After serving a single term the House from 2008-10, Grady, an attorney, was selected to lead the Office of Financial Regulation in 2011 and as Interim President of Citizens Property Insurance in 2012. Gov. Rick Scott appointed him to the state Board of Education earlier this year.

“I’m so pleased to have Tom Grady’s support,” said Rommel. “I look forward to working with him and other great public servants from our area to enact sound state policies that will continue to move our economy forward and create more jobs and opportunity.”

Melissa Nelson fundraiser set for Atlantic Beach

The fundraising continues apace for 4th Circuit State Attorney candidate Melissa Nelson.

A cluster of North Florida heavyweights is hosting a reception for Nelson in Atlantic Beach June 23 (and encouraging contributions of up to $1,000).

Acosta’s Gary Chartrand and his family, JAX Chamber chief Audrey Moran, and former U.S. Attorney Paul Perez are some of the boldfaced names on her host committee.

Nelson’s “First Coast Values” PAC brought in a six-figure haul in its first month of fundraising. However, incumbent State Attorney Angela Corey has more than $200,000 on hand.

A third candidate, Wes White, like Nelson a former State Attorney employee, has raised just over $31,000.

Meanwhile, there’s been a new wrinkle in the lawsuit over the race’s closed primary.

Circuit Judge has James Daniel stepped down from the case after accusations of bias.

Write-in candidate Kenny Leigh is also on the ballot. Leigh filed a motion last week asking Daniel to recuse himself for comments he made about Leigh’s candidacy. Senior Circuit Judge Richard Townsend will now decide on the lawsuit challenging the closed primary.

Leigh and the former campaign manager for Corey, Alexander Pantinakis (who has since resigned) have been sued over their roles in closing the election to everyone but registered Republicans in Duval, Clay and Nassau Counties. Leigh’s filing as a write-in closed the Aug. 30 primary to Democrats and independents.



Beth Tuura gets blessing of Linda Stewart in HD 47 race

The last Democrat to hold the seat in Orlando-based House District 47, Linda Stewart, has endorsed Beth Tuura among three Democrats running for the seat this year, Tuura’s campaign announced Wednesday.

Stewart, a longtime activist and former county commissioner who is running for the Florida Senate this year, picked Tuura over Democrats Henry Lim and Clint Curtis. The trio want a shot at incumbent Republican state Rep. Mike Miller of Orlando, who ousted Stewart in the 2014 election.

“I am pleased to endorse Beth Tuura in her race in district 47,” Stewart stated in the release. “Her social and business experiences will make her a great voice for women and working families in Central Florida.”

Tuura said she seeks to continue Stewart’s legacy of fighting for issues such as fair wages, expanding access to healthcare, and strengthening our public education system.

“I have had the pleasure of working alongside Representative Linda Stewart in the past and I am honored to have her endorsement,” Tuura said. “I will fight to win back District 47 and bring my business and leadership skills to Tallahassee to get Florida back on track.”

Six candidates submit petitions appearing to reach qualifying threshold in Central Florida senate races

The first three days of pre-qualifying for state Senate races in Central Florida show four of the 10 declared candidates in three races fell short of submitting enough valid signatures for the ballot by petition.

So far, only an Aug. 30 Democratic primary in Senate District 11 would be assured, based on those candidates who appear to have enough verified signatures.

The Florida Department of State will not officially start qualifying candidates until next week. Those who do not qualify by petition may pay filing fees of $1,781.

In SD 11 covering west Orange County, two Orlando Democrats, former state Rep. Bob Sidler and former state Sen. Gary Siplin, each turned in more than the 1,552 required valid petitions signatures to qualify. Late Wednesday, Chuck O’Neal also crossed the threshold.

But Democratic primary opponent state Rep. Randolph Bracy Bracy, of Oakland, turned in 264 on Monday, while O’Neal fell just short, turning in 1,544.

There are no Republicans running in the heavily Democratic district.

In SD 13 in north-central and northeast Orange, Republican Dean Asher and Democrat Rick Roach, both of Orlando, appeared to have cleared the petition threshold.

Democratic former state Rep. Linda Stewart of Orlando turned in only 1,154 verified signatures, and former state Rep. Mike Clelland of Longwood has not yet turned in anything.

In SD 15 in south Orange and north Osceola County, Democratic state Rep. Victor Torres of Orlando turned in enough valid petitions, but Democrat Bob Healy of Kissimmee is short, with just 645 so far. Republican Peter Vivaldi of Windermere has not yet turned in anything.

All three districts are represented by senators not seeking re-election. In SD 11, Democratic state Sen. Geraldine Thompson of Orlando is running for Congress, as is Democratic state Sen. Darren Soto of SD 15. In SD 13, Republican state Sen. President Andy Gardiner is term-limited out of office.

Dane Eagle posts $37K in May fundraising in HD 77

Rep. Dane Eagle does not currently face an opponent in his House District 77 re-election bid, but the Cape Coral Republican isn’t taking any chances.

The second-term lawmaker brought in $37,575 from more than 50 contributions during May, according to newly released campaign finance data.

Those included 18 contributions of $1,000, the legal maximum for state legislative campaigns.

Among those were checks from Rep. Dana Young‘s political committee, his own “Conservative Coalition for Florida’s Future” committee, Koch Industries, and the law and lobbying firm Becker & Poliakoff.

The haul brings Eagle’s fundraising totals to $113,461 for the 2016 cycle, with nearly $38,000 of that remaining on hand.

The May fundraising activity marks Eagle’s first contributions since January, before the 2016 Legislative Session. Legislators are prohibited from accepting donations during the annual lawmaking period.

Eagle announced his campaign kickoff last month with a fundraiser in Cape Coral co-hosted by Gary Aubuchon, a former state representative and the president of Aubuchon Homes; Brian Rist, the president and CEO of The Smart Companies; Michel Doherty, a prominent Lee County political supporter and Lee County Tax Collector Larry Hart.

Democrat Graham Madison Morris had originally planned to challenge Eagle but has since exited the race, giving Eagle a clear path to re-election in the conservative-leaning HD 77.

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