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FMA PAC prescribes another term for Dana Young

The political branch of the Florida Medical Association has endorsed Tampa Republican Sen. Dana Young for re-election in Senate District 18.

“The FMA PAC is proud to endorse Senator Dana Young in her re-election bid in Senate District 18. Senator Young is a true friend of medicine and her leadership in both the House and Senate throughout her distinguished legislative career has proven her steadfast support of our issues,” said Dr. Mike Patete, president of FMA PAC.

The FMA endorsement is Young’s third big get of the week. On Monday, she landed the support of the Florida Realtors PAC, and on Tuesday she snagged her fifth police union endorsement, this time from the Florida State Lodge Fraternal Order of Police.

“Thank you to the Florida Medical Association for their endorsement and for their resolute guidance in enabling physicians to serve their communities and deliver compassionate patient care across the great state of Florida. I look forward to our continued partnership in improving patient care and controlling escalating costs for patients,” Young said in a press release.

Young is facing possibly the toughest re-election battle in the Senate this year. Her district is No. 1 on the Florida Democratic Party’s priority list and is the only one out of FDP’s six targets (now five with the exit of CarriePilon in SD 24) that went for Hillary Clinton two years ago.

Young is up against House Minority Leader Janet Cruz in November, and recent polls show the pair in a dead heatwith Cruz holding a slim edge.

In fundraising, however, Young is far outperforming her challenger.

She had $309,000 in hard money at last check-in. Her committee, Friends of Dana Young, which must file reports more frequently than her campaign, brought in another $77,000 in the last week of June and has $1.05 at the ready. That gives her a total stockpile of $1.36 million.

Cruz has about $140,000 in hard money, much of it raised for her now-defunct Hillsborough County Commission bid, with another $256,000 in her political committee, Building the Bay PC, for an on-hand total of about $396,000.

The next round of campaign finance reports for state legislative races, covering June 23 through July 6, are due Friday.

Election Day is Nov. 6.

Buchanan TV ad

Vern Buchanan touts bipartisan record in new ad

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan has put out a new TV ad in his Sarasota-based district highlighting his “effective and bipartisan record” representing Florida’s 16th Congressional District.

The 30-second spot, titled “Effective Leader,” has started airing on cable and local television stations throughout Sarasota, Manatee and Hillsborough counties.

“In a town notorious for gridlock and dysfunction, this man stands apart,” the ad narrator states. “Congressman Vern Buchanan, rated one of the nation’s most effective lawmakers. A successful businessman, Buchanan brought his ‘can do’ attitude to Congress. Vern believes nothing is impossible if we work together. Vern Buchanan: Effective, bipartisan, getting the job done.”

Interspersed among the clips of Buchanan talking to constituents are several news clippings backing up Buchanan’s claims of effectiveness and bipartisanship.

Those articles mostly reference his high scores from The Center for Effective Lawmaking, which ranked him in the top 12 percent for effectiveness based on his legislative accomplishments — he has the best score of any current Republican from Florida. Also cited is a recent study from The Luger Center that put him the top 15 percent for bipartisanship among for the 115th Congress.

Though CD 16 is considered a moderately safe Republican seat, Buchanan has shied away from throwing red meat at to the GOP base this campaign cycle. His previous ads have heralded him as an “independent leader” and highlighted his record combating the opioid epidemic while not calling attention to his party affiliation.

He’s likely to face Sarasota attorney David Shapiro, a Democrat, in the November general election.

Through the end of the second quarter, Buchanan had about $2.5 million in campaign funds at the ready. Shapiro has not yet announced his Q2 haul, but he had about $500,000 in the bank at the end of the first quarter.

CD 16 all of Manatee County, southwestern Hillsborough County and northern Sarasota County. University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato‘s Crystal Ball rates the district as “likely Republican” in the fall.

Buchanan’s ad is below.

Longtime Tampa media personality Rob Lorei files for divorce

Longtime Tampa public radio host Rob Lorei is seeking to divorce his wife of 33 years.

The 63-year-old St. Petersburg resident, the oldest of 10 siblings, is well-known local media personality in the Tampa Bay area. He is a co-founder of WMNF non-commercial radio and serves as its current news and public affairs director, as well as host and managing editor of Florida This Week on WEDU-TV.

Lorei’s wife, 66-year-old Janine Marie Farver of Tampa, had worked for years at WMNF-FM, including as station manager, and was a former executive director of the Florida Humanities Council.

According to a 2004 St. Petersburg Times profile, Lorei “married his boss, then-station manager Janine Farver” in 1985.

The couple wed in Sarasota on June 23, 1985, and have two adult daughters. Records show they purchased a Tampa home in 1988, with a current estimated value of more than $800,000.

According to a divorce complaint filed July 3 in Hillsborough County, Lorei claims the couple has separated and that their marriage is “irretrievably broken.” He is asking to sell the home and split the proceeds equally.

Lorei also wants Farver to continue providing health, vision and dental insurance, seeks the court to deny any request for alimony.

Wengay Newton scores clean bill of health from FMA PAC

St. Petersburg Democratic Rep. Wengay “Newt” Newton landed his second major backer in as many days in his bid for a second term in House District 70.

Tuesday’s endorsement came in from the political arm of the Florida Medical Association, FMA PAC, which picked him out of the three Democrats running for the Pinellas-based seat.

“The FMA PAC is proud to endorse Rep. Newton for re-election in House District 70. As a member of the Health Quality Subcommittee, we had the opportunity to work closely with him on important healthcare issues for our state and know that he will be a friend of medicine,” said Dr. Mike Patete, president of FMA PAC.

The FMA nod comes one day after the Florida Retailers named Newton as one of several dozen lawmakers it recommends for re-election in the fall.

“I am honored to receive the endorsement of the Florida physicians and the Florida Medical Association for my re-election campaign to the Florida House of Representatives, District 70. Serving on the Health Quality Subcommittee, I look forward to working with the physicians of Florida on the critical health care issues that face us today,” Newton said.

Newton, a former member of the St. Petersburg City Council, was first elected to the Florida House in 2016, succeeding now-Sen. Darryl Rouson in HD 70, which covers pieces of Hillsborough, Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota counties including chunks of St. Pete and Sarasota as well as the communities of Memphis, Samoset and Ruskin.

In 2018, Newton faces Vito Sheeley and Keisha Bell in the Democratic primary. Since only Democrats qualified for the ballot, all HD 70 voters will be able to cast a ballot in the primary.

As of June 22, Newton led the field with $36,716 raised and $21,376 in the bank, with a boost expected later this month thanks to a July 19 fundraiser being hosted by St. Pete philanthropists Bob and Susan Churuti. Sheely, who entered the race a year ago, has raised $15,513 and has $5,930 in the bank. Bell, who filed in February, has raised $10,302 and has $3,429 on hand.

The primary election is Aug. 28.

Berny Jacques cracks $200K raised for HD 66 campaign

Seminole Republican Berny Jacques notched another fundraising milestone in his bid to succeed term-limited Rep. Larry Ahern in Pinellas County’s House District 66.

New fundraising reports show Jacques has raised more than $200,000 for his 2018 effort, including $121,565 in hard money and another $81,100 for his affiliated political committee, Protect Pinellas. He has $139,600 in the bank.

“This is how campaigns are won, plain and simple. Our team of dedicated volunteers and I have been out talking to voters and knocking on doors for over a year, and our message of principled conservatism is resonating with the voters of Pinellas,” Jacques said. “Our campaign is proud to have reached this meaningful fundraising milestone as we head into the fourth quarter of this campaign. We’re looking forward to the weeks ahead!”

Jacques is one of three candidates running for House District 66, which includes part of Clearwater, Belleair, Indian Rocks Beach and Indian Shores.

He faces small businessman and Pinellas GOP Chair Nick DiCeglie in the Republican primary, while school teacher Alex Heeren has already locked up the Democratic nomination.

DiCeglie has raised $121,656 for his campaign since entering the race in September and has $80,407 banked. Heeren has raised $25,294 since he filed in January and he has $8,524 on hand.

Ahern’s successor is likely to be the winner of the Republican primary due to the district’s strong Republican advantage. To that end, Jacques and DiCeglie have been dueled on the endorsement front throughout much of their competition.

Jacques most recently landed a nod from the Seminole Professional Firefighters, with past endorsements including etired Air Force Col. EJ Otero Seminole City Councilmember Roger Edelman, former Pinellas County School Board Member Glen Gilzean and Largo Commissioner and former police chief John Carroll, among others.

DiCeglie most recently landed the endorsement of the Florida Realtors, with his roster of backers including the Sun Coast Police Benevolent Association, Pinellas County Commissioner Dave Eggers, Pinellas County Clerk Ken Burke, Largo Mayor Woody Brown, Largo Commissioner Curtis Holmes and three Indian Rocks Beach commissioners.

For his part, Heeren landed a trio of endorsements Monday from Pinellas County Commissioner Charlie Justice and Pinellas County School Board Members Rene Flowers and Linda Lerner. They a few other local politicians in backing the Democratic option.

The primary election is Aug. 28. The general election is Nov. 6.

Dana Young

Police union backs Dana Young for re-election

Tampa Republican Sen. Dana Young announced Tuesday that she’d locked up the support of the Florida State Lodge Fraternal Order of Police in her campaign for a second term in Senate District 18.

“We believe in Senator Young and have voted her the 2018 Senator of The Year, there is no doubt that she will continue to serve her community and her constituents fairly, with a focus on safety and prosperity,” said FOP President Bobby Jenkins.

“The Fraternal Order of Police have worked hand and hand with Senator Young and have given her our continued faith in her dedication to her community and to the men and women of law enforcement.”

The Florida FOP joins the Florida Police Benevolent Association and the Tampa, West Central Florida and Suncoast chapters of the PBA to become the fifth police union to announce its support for Young, who is being challenged by House Minority Leader Janet Cruz in the fall.

“I sincerely thank the FOP for their endorsement and am grateful for their support of my campaign,” Young said. “Every day, our law enforcement puts their lives on the line to ensure Floridians remain safe – my appreciation for the work they do cannot be put into words.”

“As an advocate for our law enforcement, I have fought to protect our men and women in blue, and I look forward to the opportunity to continue to advocate for our Tampa and Florida law enforcement community,” said Senator Young.

SD 18 is a top target for Florida Democrats in 2018. It is the only Senate district on FDP’s priority list that voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election and Cruz is by far the best-known recruit the party has pulled to challenge a sitting Republican senator.

Recent polls of the race show the two lawmakers in a tight race, with a slight advantage for Cruz.

Where Young holds an unquestionable edge is the money race. As of June 22, the Tampa Republican had $309,000 banked for her campaign account. She also tacked on another $77,000 in the last week of June for her political committee, Friends of Dana Young, which now has $1.05 million on hand.

Cruz, meanwhile, has about $139,231 in hard money and another $256,583 in her political committee, Building the Bay PC, for an on-hand total of nearly $396,000.

They are the only two candidates in the race. The general election is Nov. 6.

Gayle Guyardo claims lawyers botched dad’s multimillion dollar estate

WFLA personality Gayle Guyardo is going to court, claiming attorneys may have cost her a stake in her late father’s $2.3 million home.

Born Gayle Ann Guagliardo, the 51-year-old Guyardo has been an on-air personality at WFLA-TV for more than 25 years. She currently co-anchors News Channel 8 Today morning show from 4:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m.

Guyardo has children with current husband Mark Pichowski, as well as two daughters — co-plaintiffs Kathryny Dolly Boushall and Lindsay Ann Boushall — with ex-husband Forrest Boushall.

Her father, Joseph L. Guagliardo, died at age 85 on July 8, 2016, at his Davis Islands home.

When Joseph Guagliardo began planning his estate, Randell McKinney Miller helped him create a vehicle for transferring his wealth to the next generations: The Joseph L. Guagliardo Revocable Trust. At the time, Miller, now 67, was an attorney with Hines Norman Hines, an estate-planning law firm based in Tampa.

Most recent Florida Bar records indicate Miller’s license is not eligible to practice law in Florida.

According to the June 28 court filing in Hillsborough County, Joseph Guagliardo consulted with Miller and HNH lawyers in 2000 about “certain changes he wished to make regarding his estate planning and testamentary intentions. To effectuate those intentions, Miller and lawyers at HNH prepared and advised Guagliardo to execute a Last Will and Testament and an Amended and Restated Revocable Trust Agreement.”

Miller allegedly advised Guagliardo that he should deed his longtime marital home — a Davis Islands property located at 557 Riviera Dr., Tampa — to the Trust. When Guagliardo consented, a deed was created and filed July 19, 2002.

Among those intended to benefit from the move were Guyardo and her two oldest daughters.

But when Guagliardo died, Guyardo learned that the deed transferring her late father’s marital home to the Trust was fatally flawed. She claims Miller failed to secure a written waiver from Guagliardo’s wife, Joann, relinquishing any homestead interest in the property.

As a result, Guyardo and her daughters allegedly lost their stake in the home, now estimated at $2.3-million.

Guyardo and her daughters are accusing Miller and his successors of malpractice.

Also named in the suit are Judy Madonna Roach Karniewicz, the managing partner of Karniewicz Law Group. Earlier in her career, she also worked at Hines Norman Hines. Co-defendant Mark Lenny Mohammed is a licensed attorney with the Mark L. Mohammed Law Group.

The lawsuit doesn’t explain what happened to the home at 557 Riviera Drive, nor whether she and her daughters maintained any interest in it.

In 2017, Guyardo acquired a Davis Islands home — located across the street from her father’s property — currently valued at $3.8-million.

Joe Gruters’ opponent faces big fee for late finance report

Faith Olivia Babis is about to get hit with a bill she could have easily avoided.

The Sarasota Democrat, who is running in the special election for Senate District 23, was a week late in filing her most recent campaign finance report, and state law imposes hefty fees on candidates for being tardy.

Florida statute imposes a $50 penalty for the first three days after the deadline passes, then it ratchets up to $500. The penalty is capped at 25 percent of contributions or expenditures, whichever is greater.

In Babis’ case, she raised $3,482 and spent $5,855 during the first three weeks of June, so she’ll need to write a check for nearly $1,500 to cover those fees.

Her campaign account, while meager for a Senate race, could more than cover it. That’s not the law, however. She has to pay that fine out of her own pocket — and she’s not exactly flush with cash.

According to the financial disclosure paperwork she filed last month, Babis is worth negative $53,000 and her income is listed as $13,148 per year. If she has any savings she could tap into, she didn’t report them. That only means the fee, due in 20 days, will sting that much harder.

There is an appeal process, but in general candidates must be able to prove that “unusual circumstances” contributed to the untimely report.

The violation is certainly an unfortunate lesson for Babis, but it’s an equally bad look for the Florida Democratic Party, which has apparently not stepped in to shepherd their nominee in how to run a campaign by the books. For the party that says “no GOP seat is safe” this year, this certainly doesn’t amp up enthusiasm.

Of course, Babis doesn’t stand much of a chance come Nov. 6. She’s running against Sarasota Republican Rep. Joe Gruters in a district Donald Trump won by 15 percent two years ago.

Tommy Gregory and family

Tommy Gregory releases first ad for HD 73 campaign

Republican attorney Tommy Gregory is rolling out his first TV ad in the race for Sarasota-based House District 73.

The 30-second ad features Gregory’s wife, Erica, outlining his conservative credentials and explaining why she was on board when her husband floated the idea of seeking public office.

“When Tommy asked me if he should run for public office, I was confident the answer was yes. Because of the challenges facing our country. Illegal immigration. Liberals attacking the President and our Constitution,” Erica Gregory says in the ad.

“Tommy is a true conservative. And he has served as a veteran, a prosecutor, and a father. Protecting America and fighting for us. Florida needs Tommy Gregory.”

Gregory echoed many of his wife’s talking points in a press release announcing the TV ad.

“Our state and nation face significant challenges,” said Gregory. “I’m proud to be running as a true conservative because I believe conservative principles offer the best solutions to those challenges. Erica does a great job making the issues in this race crystal clear in this spot, and I’m excited to continue getting our message out to the voters of District 73.”

Gregory faces Melissa Howard in the Republican Primary for HD 73. Democrat Liv Coleman is also running for the seat, though the GOP nominee will have the best odds to replace Gruters in the Republican stronghold.

As of June 22, Gregory had $159,585 in the bank between his campaign and committee, including $25,000 in candidate contributions. Howard had $129,040 across her two accounts on the same date.

HD 73 covers parts of Sarasota and Manatee counties. It is open in 2018 due to current Gruters’ decision to run for the Senate seat currently held by Sarasota Republican Sen. Greg Steube, who is running for Congress.

Gregory’s ad is below.

Ross Spano

Ross Spano leads Republican field in CD 15, poll shows

Republican state Rep. Ross Spano has a double-digit lead in the race for Florida’s 15th Congressional District according to a fresh poll of primary voters in the tri-county district.

The St. Pete Polls survey found Spano with 31.6 percent support among CD 15 Republicans, 12 points ahead of former GOP Auburndale state Rep. Neil Combee.

The race is far from over, however, with “undecided” being the choice of 37.4 percent of voters seven weeks out from the Aug. 28 primary.

Still, the new poll is a shift from late May, when the same pollster found Spano, of Dover, with 29-23 percent over Combee. That lead fell within the margin of error. The new one does not.

Spano and Combee have been considered the leading candidates on the Republican side since the field settled in the wake of current U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross’ mid-April announcement that he wouldn’t seek another term. That preliminary status had a lot to do with the geographic makeup of CD 15.

About half of CD 15 Republicans live in northeastern Hillsborough County, and Spano represents much of that area in the state House.

Another 40 percent live in northern Polk County, which Combee represented for five years before resigning in November to accept a presidential appointment with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He is also a former Polk County Commissioner.

The remaining 10 percent of CD 15 Republicans live in southern Lake County.

Also running in the primary race are Lakeland contractor Sean Harper, Brandon agribusinessman Danny Kushmer and Lakeland mental health practitioner Ed Shoemaker in the primary race.

Shoemaker was the No. 3 candidate in the poll with 4.2 percent support, followed by Harper with 3 percent and Kushmer with 2.3 percent. Another 2.1 percent of Republican voters said they were supporting Curt Rogers, who did not qualify for the ballot.

Though he polled in last place, Kushmer has surged on the endorsement front this week, nabbing support from Bartow Commissioner James Clements and staunchly pro-life group Florida Right to Life. And he tacked on another endorsement, this time from Lake Wales Mayor Eugene Fultz, as the CD 15 poll was released.

“Danny, I have worked with you long enough to know that you are a man of integrity. I believe that you will represent the 15th District well. You have my support,” the Polk County pol said in a news release.

Whoever emerges from the Republican primary will go up against the winner of the Democratic primary contest between Kristen Carlson, Andrew Learned and Ray Pena. The district is rated “likely Republican” by Sabato’s Crystal Ball, the prediction newsletter from University of Virginia political science professor Larry Sabato.

Also included in the poll was a measure of how CD 15 Republicans view President Donald Trump, and a commanding 89.5 percent said they approved of the controversial commander-in-chief. Only 4.5 percent dissented, while 6 percent were on the fence.

The St. Pete Polls surveyed voters July 8 using an automated phone call polling system. Results were weighted to account for proportional differences between the respondents’ demographics and the demographics of the active Republican primary voter population in CD 15.

The poll had a sample size of 532 Republican voters with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.

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