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Anna Eskamani nabs Barack Obama nod, spins Republican hits into video

Democratic Anna Eskamani announced the endorsement Monday of former President Barack Obama of her Florida House campaign while also releasing a new internet video that spins Republican attack ads, seeking to make her look like a super hero.

Eskamani, who faces Republican Stockton Reeves for the open House District 47 seat to represent much of central Orange County, has been the subject of attack mailers and a cable-TV commercial denouncing her use of profanity on the campaign trail, as Republicans seek to paint her as someone unfit for office.

The new one-minute, 15-second video, “Florida’s Avenger”, is directed to have the feel of a trailer for a super hero movie, starring Eskamani. The term “avenger” is borrowed not just from the super hero movie franchise but also from the Time magazine cover, earlier this year, which featured Eskamani among women candidates the magazine declared to be “The Avengers.”

It defiantly shows off the Republian mailers, and a couple of news items reporting that the Republican Party of Florida is seeking to convince voters that she is not the type of person they want representing them in Tallahassee. Those shots are interspersed with video clips and pictures of Eskamani leading protests, speaking at events and campaigning.

There also is some campaign platform messaging on education, the environment and health care.

“Anna Eskamani, the only candidate in House District 47 who is a proven fighter for working families, taking on the insiders, speaking truth to power, even when they don’t like it. This November, chose a candidate who won’t back down, a candidate who has support from Democrats, independents and Republicans, someone who will always listen, always stand up for Central Florida,” a narrator says.

“And,” the narrator adds, “it’s true, will not take any… .”

That sentence ends there, after a close up of a Republican mailer quoting Eskamani as saying, “I don’t take s— ever” and “Look at the s— we have to put up with”, with the last three letters after the s blacked out

As for the endorsement of the past Democratic president, she stated in a press release from her campaign, “As a former state legislator himself, President Obama recognizes the importance of electing strong leaders at the state level. “Our 44th President inspires me each day to be a compassionate and bold leader for our community, and to fight for Florida’s hard working families. This distinction will only fuel our fire to win and give the people of House District 47 the representation they deserve.”

Florida Conservation Voters announce backing of Anna Eskamani, Geraldine Thompson

Florida Conservation Voters announced that it is backing two Democrats in key Florida House elections in Orange County: former state Sen. Geraldine Thompson in House District 44 and Anna Eskamani in House District 47.

“Orlando residents are fortunate to have two strong women leaders ready to serve in the Florida Legislature on day one,” Aliki Moncrief, executive director of Florida Conservation Voters stated in a news release issued by Eskamani’s campaign.

”Geraldine Thompson is a tireless leader and a respected voice when it comes to defending Florida’s drinking water and public parks. And Anna Eskamani is the fierce advocate Orlando needs to protect our rivers, lakes, and remarkable natural beauty,” Moncrief added. “They understand the importance of our environment to our quality of life and economy. FCV looks forward to working with both Geraldine and Anna in Tallahassee.”

Thompson is challenging Republican incumbent state Rep. Bobby Olszewski in HD 44, covering southwest Orange County. Eskamani and Republican nominee Stockton Reeves are competing for an open seat for HD 47, representing much of north and central Orange County.

Thompson was on the Florida Conservation Voters’ Board of Directors until earlier this year, but did not have a vote on her own endorsement.

Stephanie Murphy picks up two more business groups’ endorsements

The campaign of Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy announced Friday she has received the endorsements of business groups representing veterans who own businesses and women who own businesses, backing her quest for re-election in Florida’s 7th Congressional District.

The endorsements from the Florida Association of Veteran Owned Businesses and the National Association of Women Business Owners joins the support Murphy’s re-election campaign announced earlier this week from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and that announced previously from the Orlando Area Chamber of Commerce.

Murphy faces Republican state Rep. Mike Miller of Winter Park in the Nov. 6 election for CD 7, which covers Seminole County and north and central Orange County.

“During her tenure in Congress, Congresswoman Murphy has worked tirelessly for veterans and veteran-owned businesses, reaching across the aisle and working to get things done for the benefit of our nation’s veterans and Central Florida’s veterans in particular,” the veteran business owners’ group said in a statement released Friday by Murphy’s campaign. “We commend Congresswoman Murphy for viewing veteran issues as American issues and not through the lens of partisan politics.”

The business groups’ blessings are uncommon for a Democrat, and Murphy, of Winter Park, has been touting them as indicative of her moderate Democratic platform in a district that is very purple. Murphy won the district in 2016, flipping it. Republicans are trying to flip it back this year, but she is drawing praise from a typical bedrock of the Republican base, the business community.

“From her personal experience in business, to her current work on the U.S. House Small Business Committee, Congresswoman Murphy is a tireless advocate for women business owners,” Molly Gimmel, NAWBO national board chair stated in an announcement posted on the group’s website. “She utilizes her understanding of the obstacles and opportunities women business owners face to discern the best policies and paths forward for the women business owner community and she does so in a bipartisan manner. We are proud to endorse her campaign for re-election.”

Mike Miller TV spot goes after Stephanie Murphy on taxes, budget

Republican congressional nominee state Rep. Mike Miller has launched his first television ad of the general election cycle, contrasting himself and Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy on taxes and balanced budgets, in Florida’s 7th Congressional District contest.

Miller’s ad, “The Difference,” launches today in the Orlando television market.

“We’re different,” Miller begins. “I voted to balance Florida’s budget. She voted against the balanced budget in Washington. I voted to cut your taxes. She voted against tax relief for middle-class families.”

Miller’s commercial also seeks to tie Murphy, who has sought to position herself as a moderate, to the liberal wing of Democrats in Congress, particularly to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who helped get Murphy elected in 2016.

“Nearly nine out of 10 times, Stephanie Murphy votes with liberal Nancy Pelosi. She votes for San Francisco. I’ll vote for Central Florida, and that’s the difference,” Miller declares in the commercial.

Miller and Murphy are battling for very purple CD 7, which covers Seminole County and much of north and central Orange County.

Her campaign responded to the new ad by calling it a “swing and a miss.”

“Mike Miller cannot support a tax plan that adds over one trillion to the national debt and seriously claim to be fiscally responsible. Further, Mike Miller’s balanced budget amendment could put seniors’ hard-earned benefits at risk by forcing massive cuts to Social Security and Medicare,” declared Murphy’s campaign spokeswoman Christie Stephenson. “Stephanie wants to balance the budget, but not on the backs of our nation’s seniors, which is why she introduced her own balanced budget amendment that protects Social Security and Medicare.”

UCF extends in-state status to hurricane refugees for another four years

Puerto Rican and Virgin Islander students who fled to Orlando to attend the University of Central Florida will get up to four more years of in-state tuition rates from the university, giving them the chance to finish degrees as de facto Floridians.

UCF’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously Thursday to extend the in-state tuition rate offered last year after Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Island students came to Florida because Hurricanes Irma and Maria devestated the islands, closing down colleges and universities there, just over a year ago.

The board also voted to expand eligibilty in the program to students from Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands who are now in the college-to-university pipeline of any of the 28 colleges in Florida’s community college system.

“These brave students are inspiring, and I am as committed to their academic success as they are,” UCF President Dale Whittaker stated in a news release issued by the university. “Thank you to our board of trustees for its enthusiastic vote to waive out-of-state tuition for Puerto Rican students. We are 100 percent committed to supporting our Puerto Rican community.”

The board had previously approved the waiver of out-of-state-fees through spring 2019, noting the financial hardships the storm had created for families and the desire of students to stay at UCF and plan for their future.

“I’m very proud of the students from Puerto Rico who are here today and around our campus,” UCF Board Chairman Marcos Marchena stated in the release. “They are wonderful members of our community, and I’m thrilled we are able to provide them with this small measure of reassurance.”

Residents of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands will qualify for in-state rates if they are currently enrolled at UCF, are currently enrolled in a Florida state college, or are new students admitted in spring 2019 semester to UCF or any Florida state college. Students meeting these criteria will continue to receive in-state tuition rates through summer 2023, as long as they remain continuously enrolled.

UCF’s tuition and fees for Florida residents total $6,368 per year, compared to $22,478 per year for non-Florida residents.

The university saw 200 new Puerto Rican students transfer to UCF in January, and close to 250 students enrolled this fall.

Barbara Cady launches video ad in HD 42 race

Democratic Florida House nominee Barbara Cady is releasing her first campaign video on-line Thursday, attacking incumbent Republican state Rep. Mike La Rosa and introducing herself in the House District 42 race.

The 30-second video charges that La Rosa has failed to do anything to improve education, fix health care, or stand up to what the narrator calls “President [Donald] Trump‘s racism and Republican corruption.”

Cady then appears and says, “I’m running for state House to fight for our values. Let’s send Tallahassee a message this year: it’s time for something new.”

Cady, of Kissimmee, is challenging La Rosa, of St. Cloud, in HD 42, which covers most of Osceola County [excluding the northwest corner] and part of east Polk County. The district has a high Hispanic population, particularly of Puerto Ricans, which may be the reason for an allegation of “Trump’s racism,” following the president’s actions and comments toward Puerto Rico, unpopular among Puerto Ricans in Central Florida.

“When I’m talking with constituents, they want bold action to address the issues we face,” Cady stated in the release. “Mike La Rosa has been a yes-man for Tallahassee special interests these last six years. Voters are ready for something new – someone who will work for them and who shares their values.”

12 Orange County mayors endorse John Mina for sheriff

All 12 public mayors in Orange County have endorsed Orlando Police Chief John Mina for the elected position of Orange County Sheriff, his campaign announced Thursday.

At least a couple of the endorsements, notably those of Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, who hired Mina to be his city’s police chief, had previously been announced, though most are newly announced supporters.

The list of Orange County mayors is bipartisan, including such Democrats as Dyer and Eatonville Mayor Eddie Cole, and such Republicans as Jacobs and Apopka Mayor Bryan Nelson.

Mina is contending with retired Florida Highway Patrol Chief Jose “Joe” Lopez and businessman Darryl Sheppard for the sheriff’s position. It is a partisan job, though Mina and Lopez are running as independents.

The endorsement list includes Jacobs, Dyer, Nelson, Cole, Belle Isle Mayor Lydia Pisano, Edgewood Mayor Ray Bagshaw, Maitland Mayor Dale McDonald, Oakland Mayor Kathy Stark, Ocoee Mayor Rusty Johnson, Windermere Mayor Gary Bruhn, Winter Garden Mayor John Rees, and Winter Park Mayor Steve Leary.

“These are not times for us to take a chance on anything that involves public safety. Because when it comes to being tested, John Mina’s been tested,” Jacobs said in a news release issued by Mina’s campaign.

“I’ve had the opportunity to serve with the chief for 16 years now. He is a true leader. When it comes to the choice of the next Orange County Sheriff, John Mina is the obvious choice,” Dyer stated in the release.

There are two Orange County municipalities not on Mina’s endorsement list: Lake Buena Vista and Bay Lake, two incorporated towns that are entirely within the confines of Walt Disney World and have just a few residents each who all are Disney employees or retirees who rent their homes from Disney, including the mayors.

Orange County Mayor-elect Jerry Demings, the incumbent sheriff who will be switching jobs in December, also has endorsed Mina.

In response to the endorsements, Mina said: “In today’s world, it’s rare when Democrats and Republicans agree; so, I’m honored to receive the endorsements from the elected city and county leaders in Orange County. I do not take this honor lightly and pledge to wake up every day with one goal in mind: To make Orange County the safest and best place to live, work and visit.”

Anna Eskamani

Anna Eskamani gets backing of school administrators’ group

Democrat Anna Eskamani has picked up the endorsement of the Florida Association of School Administrators’ Political Action Committee for her campaign to be elected in Florida House District 47, her campaign announced Wednesday.

The association represents nearly 5,000 superintendents, principals, assistant principals, and district-level administrators throughout Florida.

“The Florida Association of School Administrators PAC is pleased to endorse your candidacy for the Florida State House of Representatives as the candidate who will represent the best interests of the children of Florida, not only in your district, but throughout the state,” M. Junan Mixon, the PAC’s executive director, stated in a news release issued by Eskamani’s campaign. “We look forward to your ongoing support throughout your time in office.”

Eskamani, of Orlando, faces Republican nominee Stockton Reeves of Winter Park in the HD 47 election to represent much of north and central Orange County including downtown Orlando. The incumbent Republican state Rep. Mike Miller is running for Congress.

“As a proud graduate of Orange County Public Schools, I am honored to have the endorsement of the Florida Association of School Administrators PAC,” Eskamani stated in the release. “I have a long track record in protecting public education, and supporting policies that enhance the learning environment for faculty, staff, students, and parents. I will never support the arming of our teachers, and will fight for full funding of public education, including better teacher pay, on-site security, and meaningful mental health resources.”

U.S. Chamber endorses Stephanie Murphy in CD 7

Citing a bipartisan voting record and legislative efforts on behalf of small-business owners and entrepreneurs, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Wednesday endorsed Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy for re-election, her campaign announced.

The endorsement of a Democratic lawmaker is rare for the national chamber, especially in a competitive district. This announcement comes at the expense of Republican nominee state Rep. Mike Miller of Winter Park, Murphy’s opponent in this year’s election for Florida’s 7th Congressional District.

“Congresswoman Murphy understands what it takes to start, grow, and turn around a business in America, which is why she has shown such strong leadership on issues like infrastructure, immigration, and investing in small businesses,” Ken Johnson, executive director of congressional and public affairs for the U.S. Chamber, said in a news release from Murphy’s campaign. “Stephanie is willing to work across the aisle, and has a proven bipartisan record in Congress of supporting entrepreneurs and small business owners.”

The national chamber’s endorsement comes a week after Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce presented Murphy with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Spirit of Enterprise Award, citing her bipartisan voting record of supporting pro-growth policies in Congress, her campaign reported.

In Congress, Murphy serves on the House Small Business Committee and as ranking member of its subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce.

Murphy’s husband, Sean Murphy, is a small-business man, and she has worked as a business consultant.

Her CD 7 covers Seminole County and north and central Orange County.

“As someone who fled communism, I am a firm defender of free enterprise in this country because I know the alternative, and it isn’t pretty,” Murphy, whose family fled Vietnam when she was a child, stated in the release. “I’ve consulted well-established companies and counseled small startups, so I understand the challenges and opportunities facing businesses in America. I will keep working with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to create more and better-paying jobs in Central Florida, to keep the spirit of enterprise alive, and to pass pro-growth policies that strengthen the middle class and lift people out of poverty.”

Bill Posey apologizes for ‘dumpiest house’ comment; Sanjay Patel says it’s typical condescension

Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Posey went to Facebook Tuesday night to apologize for comments he made last week disparaging supporters of Sanjay Patel, his Democratic opponent in this fall’s election in Florida’s 8th Congressional District.

At a Trump Club meeting in Brevard County on Sept. 19, shown in a video posted on Youtube.com and since taken down, Posey declared, “I know most of my opponents signs. I can pick out the house without the sign, ’cause it’s the dumpiest house in the neighborhood.”

Patel responded by noting that Posey also said other disparaging things during the speech, including calling unhappy constituents “the damned deplorables.” Patel said it was “deeply troubling” that Posey would insult constituents, “but his comment clearly captures his condescending attitude toward those in his district who struggle to make ends meet.”

Patel’s supporters reacted in the past few days trying to start a Twitter campaign of comments under the hashtag of #dumpyhouse, though it hasn’t really caught on.

In a Facebook statement he posted last night, Posey owned up to the comment, said it was not reflective of the kind of person he is, and apologized.

“In this intense campaign it is all too tempting to make comments that are less than articulate, and at time offensive. To err is to be human,” Posey wrote. “That said, I am not the kind of person that intentionally divides people in order to achieve a political victory, in fact my career has been characterized by bringing people together to get results. I apologize for my comment regarding my opponent’s supporters.”

Most of Posey’s comments at the Trump Club private meeting, in a copy of the video obtained by Patel’s campaign and provided to Florida Politics Wednesday morning, cover praise for President Donald Trump, discussion of general congressional activity, and Posey’s efforts on issues ranging from Kennedy Space Center funding to flood insurance reform. But toward the end he turns his attention to his campaign. Among his other comments, he makes the “dumpiest house” statement and says of people who post crude insults about him, “They’re the damned deplorables.”

Wednesday morning Patel said Posey’s apology is appropriate and appreciated, but charged that congressman’s comments were “typical of his disrespect for his constituents, especially those of us who disagree with him on issues.

“This wasn’t simply a slip of the tongue; even in this one conversation, he went on to refer to us as the ‘bad guys’ and the ‘damned deplorables,’ Patel said in a written statement to Florida Politics. “This needless division is exactly what’s wrong with our politics. It’s part of the divide and conquer strategy that is tearing communities apart. Perhaps if Posey would host town halls and listen to his constituents, he’d actually be able to understand and help folks with the issues they face, rather than insulting them.”

Posey’s office did not respond to an inquiry Wednesday from Florida Politics.

Posey, of Rockledge, is a five-term congressman and former state lawmaker who has never been seriously challenged in re-election, in a district that is strongly Republican. CD 8 covers all of Brevard County, a piece of east Orange County, and a piece of northern Indian River County. It’s an area where 43 percent of voters are registered as Republican, 31 percent as Democrat, and 26 percent as other or independent. Posey has won each of his last four elections by more than 20 points.

This year Patel, a business consultant from Satellite Beach, is turning some heads though. He and his wife Stacey Patel took leadership of the Brevard County Democratic Party in 2016 with the goal of creating an effective grassroots network. In the most recent reported quarter for federal campaign finances, Patel outraised Posey, bringing in $101,000 in campaign contributions, while Posey raised $68,000 during the period. Overall, Posey remained in a dominant position to spend money this fall, as his re-election campaign entered the third quarter of 2018 with $642,000 in the bank compared with Patel’s $160,000.

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