Joe Negron – Florida Politics
Keith Perry

Keith Perry kicking off SD 8 campaign May 24

Republican Sen. Keith Perry is launching his re-election campaign for Senate District 8 with a May 24 fundraiser in Gainesville.

The event is at Ballyhoo Grill, 3700 W. University Ave., starting at 5:30 pm. Those looking to attend the casual-attire reception can send their RSVPs to Skylar Swanson by sending an email to Skylar@VoteKeithPerry.com or by calling 352-871-1622.

The event invite lists Senate President Joe Negron, Senate President Designate Bill Galvano and Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson as serving on the host committee for the fundraiser.

Perry, a roofer by trade, was elected to SD 8 in 2016 after serving three terms in the Florida House. His seat was one of several to see substantial changes when Florida courts ordered the Senate maps redrawn ahead of the 2016 elections.

SD 8 covers all of Alachua and Putnam counties as well as the northern half of Marion County, including Ocala. More than half of the district’s voters reside in Alachua County.

Though SD 8 was a top target for Florida Democrats two years ago, Perry ended up defeating attorney Rod Smith, a former FDP chair and former state Senator, by 4 points on Election Day. The district also voted for Donald Trump by a fraction of a point after being carried by Barack Obama in both the 2008 and 2012 election cycles.

In 2018, Perry faces Democrats Kayser Enneking and Olysha Magruder.

Enneking is an anesthesiologist and is currently working as the interim chair of the University of Florida College of Medicine’s Department of Dermatology, a position she has held since 2016. Magruder is a former school teacher who now works for Johns Hopkins University as an instructional designer.

Enneking has FDP’s backing and has secured more endorsements and funding than Magruder, and is likely to be Perry’s challenger in the general election.

Through the end of March, Perry had raised a total of $416,207 between his campaign and committee, Building a Prosperous Florida. He started April with about $379,000 in the bank.

Enneking, through the same date, had raised $248,520 and had about $195,000 on hand, while Magruder’s total was around $19,000 with $7,727 banked.

The fundraiser invitation is below.

Perry Kickoff Invite - May 24, 2018

Lawmakers’ hobbies amuse and confuse on social media

From karaoke to ballroom dancing to ice sculpting, the hobbies of Florida’s legislators are legion.

A Florida Politics reporter recently noticed and tweeted that Rep. Carlos G. Smith, an Orlando Democrat, listed but one “recreational interest,” karaoke, on his legislative info page.

That sparked a number of responses on social media last week.

TCPalm reporter Ali Schmitz noted that outgoing Senate President Joe Negron declares “courthouse architecture” as an interest. Must be all those columns.

Sun-Sentinel reporter Dan Sweeney chimed in: “You guys have cracked open a never-ending font of amazement. Reviewing the recreational interests of state reps is kind of a hobby of mine,” he tweeted.

“Along with the aforementioned, I’d also point you to the ballroom dancing of @ColleenLBurton and the ice sculpting of @JoeGruters.”

Burton soon defended her honor: “So you know, I competed in 2011. #notnicetohobbyshame

Lara Medley, Burton’s legislative assistant, also tweeted: “I would like a demonstration of Representative @JoeGruters hobby please.” Gruters liked that tweet but did not respond.

Sweeney added: “Not to mention the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu of @AmyMercado and the fact that @JamesGrantFL lists ‘the woods’ as a recreational interest without saying what it is he does there, which leaves a lot to the imagination.”

Undoubtedly after some #FlaPol Twitterati head scratching, Grant took to Twitter to explain: “Lest there be any confusion, bow & bird hunting.

“Fly rods on the water, my bow or Berettas in the woods, & a hockey stick on the ice are the 3 scenarios where I can truly get lost enough to make the world around me stop,” he added. “And no, I don’t get any of the 3 enough. #CarryOn …”

Even POLITICO Florida scribe Marc Caputo weighed in with a memory: The late “Sen. Larcenia Bullard had the best hobby in the clerk’s manual once: ‘collecting butterfly-shaped objects.’ I’m not making this up.”

Indeed, he was not. An old clerk’s manual confirmed that hobby, along with “skating,” “pinochle” and others. Bullard died in 2013 after serving 18 years in the Legislature. 

Outgoing House Speaker Richard Corcoran lists no hobbies. With six kids, he’s busy.

Keith Perry

Keith Perry outraised threefold in April

Gainesville Republican Sen. Keith Perry’s April fundraising reports lagged behind those of Democratic challenger Kayser Enneking, who reported her best-ever totals earlier this week.

The first term Senator brought in $27,700 in campaign funds last month and tacked on another $2,000 through his political committee, Building a Prosperous Florida.

Perry, a roofer by trade, brought in the much of the April haul from those in the same line of work. Of the 44 contributions he received last month, 13 came from roofing companies and trade associations. Those contributions totaled nearly $10,000. Also showing up in the reports were Disney, Data Targeting head Pat Bainter and a political committee tied to exiting Senate President Joe Negron. Each chipped in $1,000.

The April expenditure tally measured in at about $15,400, including about $4,800 in non-itemized expense reimbursements payed to Perry and campaign staffers, $3,700 in staffer pay and $2,300 for campaign t-shirts.

Perry started May with about $393,000 in the bank – $286,585 for his campaign and $106,316 for his committee. His overall total is still six figures ahead of Enneking’s $271,000 war chest, though she was enthused by her campaign gaining ground.

“Our campaign is coming on strong. We out raised Keith Perry three to one last month with the support of people from all walks of life, the majority of whom live within the district. It’s clear that this district and the rest of Florida are ready for a change,” Enneking said Thursday.

“This report highlights what I’ve been saying since I got in the race, Keith Perry’s votes have been bad for this district and for Florida. I’m ready and able to give District 8 the representation that it deserves, and the people of North Central Florida are excited to make that happen.”

The Gainesville physician is Perry’s likely general election opponent, though she still must make it by Democratic Primary challenger Olysha Magruder before she’s a lock for the November ballot.

Magruder is a former school teacher who now works for Johns Hopkins University as an instructional designer. She has not yet filed her April reports, though through March she had raised about $19,000 and had $7,727 on hand.

SD 8 covers all of Alachua and Putnam counties as well as the northern half of Marion County. It is one of a handful of districts that became more favorable to Democrats after the Senate map was redrawn ahead of the 2016 elections.

The district, along with SD 16, SD 18 and SD 24, is a top target for Senate Democrats this cycle and could be key in determining who will be Senate President after the 2022 elections.

Manny Diaz Jr.

Manny Diaz holding SD 36 fundraiser next week

Hialeah Republican Rep. Manny Diaz Jr. is holding a fundraiser May 15 in Coral Gables for his bid to succeed termed-out Sen. Rene Garcia in Senate District 36.

The campaign fundraiser will be held at The Aragon Room of The Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave., starting at 5 p.m. Would-be attendees can send the campaign an RSVP by emailing Danny Martinez at danmartinezfl@gmail.com or by giving him a ring at 786-222-7449.

Unlike Diaz’ previous fundraiser, the host committee for The Biltmore fundraiser only includes three names. But they’re big ones: Senate President Joe Negron, Senate President Bill Galvano and Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson.

Currently, Coral Springs Democrat Muhammad Amin is the only candidate challenging Diaz for the Miami-Dade County Senate seat, though there has been chatter former county Mayor Alex Penelas could enter the race.

If he does, he’ll have a lot of catching up to do in the money race.

Through the end of March, Diaz had more than $243,000 on hand between his campaign account and a political committee he chairs. And if his first Senate campaign fundraiser is any indication, he could add a bundle more next week.

SD 36 includes the HD 103 territory Diaz currently represents and extends a bit further east into HD 110, currently represented by incoming House Speaker Jose Oliva.

Republicans have a 3-point advantage in voter registrations within the district, though Hillary Clinton carried the seat by 14 points in 2016, the same day Garcia cruised by underfunded Democrat Anabella Grohoski Peralta with a 10-point win.

Diaz’ invitation is below.

Diaz-Fundraising-Invitation-Biltmore May 15th, 2018

MaryLynn Magar

MaryLynn Magar won’t challenge Gayle Harrell, Belinda Keiser in SD 25

Tequesta Republican Rep. MaryLynn Magar said Wednesday that she won’t enter the special election to replace exiting Senate President Joe Negron and will instead to stay put in the Florida House.

“After much prayer and consultation with my family, I have decided to seek a fourth and final term in the Florida House of Representatives,” Magar said. “Serving the residents of District 82 in the Florida House has been the honor of a lifetime for me, and I want to conclude my service there with a strong finish. While the timing of President Negron’s retirement from the Florida Senate presented an opportunity, I’ve never wanted to take a step to further my political career at the expense of serving the people who have put their confidence in me as their representative. I look forward to working hard to continue earning their trust this year.

“There is more work to be done, and I believe my experience and good working relationship with incoming Speaker Oliva put me in an exceptional position to continue reaching our goals of a stronger economy, more jobs, increased public safety, and protections for our precious natural resources. I look forward to working with him and the rest of the House leadership team to keep Florida on the path to continued prosperity.”

Magar was the only other major candidate thought to have her sights set on Senate District 25, and with her announcement, it looks like the special Republican Primary will be a two-way race between Stuart Republican Rep. Gayle Harrell and Keiser University Vice-Chancellor Belinda Keiser.

It could be an ugly battle given Keiser’s past donations to Democrats, something unlikely to go ignored in the Republican-leaning district. The winner of that contest will likely face Democrat Rob Levy in the special general election, held concurrently with the 2018 midterm election on Nov. 6.

Both Harrell and Levy had already filed run for the seat in 2020 and were quick to announce their switch to the special election when Negron announced he would leave the Senate two years early. Keiser filed Tuesday, an interesting development given she lives in Broward County.

SD 25 covers St. Lucie and Martin counties, along with a portion of Palm Beach County. The seat voted plus-12 for Donald Trump in 2016, while Negron cruised by Democrat Bruno Moore with 65 percent of the vote.

Republicans hold a moderately larger share of district’s electorate than Democrats, 38 percent to 35 percent, and the district historically has been reflective of that gap. It voted plus-3 for Barack Obama in 2008 and plus-3 for Mitt Romney in 2012. That same year, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson carried SD 25 by 10 points.

Harrell starts with about $120,000 in her campaign account, including $100,000 loan. Levy also kicked off his bid with a $100,000 loan, but he’s already burned about $26,000, leaving him with about $82,000 in the bank.

Keiser University Vice Chancellor Belinda Keiser enters race to replace Joe Negron

Belinda Keiser, vice chancellor of Keiser University, has joined the race to replace Joe Negron in Senate District 25. Keiser will be vying for the Republican nod along with state Rep. Gayle Harrell.

On the Democratic side, only Dr. Rob Levy has announced a run.

It’s an interesting choice for Keiser, who lives in Broward County. SD 25 covers St. Lucie and Martin counties, along with a portion of Palm Beach County.

Keiser University is a private, not-for-profit university with about 20,000 students attending campuses throughout Florida and overseas. In her role as vice chancellor, Keiser works on media relations and charitable giving, among other responsibilities. She has also been appointed to several state government commissions during the tenure of Gov. Rick Scott. Keiser also served as the coordinator of a pro bono lawyer program in Broward County.

Her Republican opponent, Harrell, has already earned Negron’s support after he chose to step away from the state Senate early once his term as president ends. Negron’s term was not set to end until 2020, when he would have been term-limited.

Both Levy and Harrell had planned to run to replace Negron in 2020 but moved up their plans once he announced his decision to step down.

If Keiser can overcome Harrell on the Republican side, she will likely be the favorite in November. Republican Negron won his last election in 2016 by nearly 30 percentage points.

Gayle Harrell, Rob Levy in for Joe Negron’s state Senate seat

Following Senate President Joe Negron‘s announcement he will resign effective in November, Republican state Rep. Gayle Harrell announced she is filing to run for his seat this year, as did Democrat Dr. Rob Levy.

Negron’s resignation means Senate District 25 can have a regular 2018 primary and general election cycle, though it will be only for the final two years of the term he was elected to in 2016.

Both Harrell and Levy, each of Stuart, already had filed for the 2020 field for the SD 25 seat, seeking to succeed Negron then. Now they are ready to move that contest forward to 2018, as soon as the elections are set.

“I’ve dusted off my red running shoes and will not be outworked when it comes to advocating for our community, our values and our unique quality of life,” Harrell stated in a news release.

“There was an anticipation that Sen. Negron would resign when his term as president was up, so we’ve been running hard in the past four months in anticipation of this very event,” Levy said.

Negron’s term as president ends this year.

Both Harrell and Levy committed financially to the contest when they first entered. Harrell staked her campaign with a $100,000 loan when she entered in October, and Levy loaned his $100,000 when he entered in February. Since then, Harrell’s 2020 campaign had raised $19,800 and spent very little of it, while Levy’s had raised about $8,300 while spending $26,000.

Harrell, who has lived on the Treasure Coast for 45 years, is completing her second eight-year tenure in the Florida House.

She has more than 30 years of experience in health care, including managing the practice of her husband, Dr. James E. Harrell, and founding the Breast Imaging Center, a mammography center specializing in preventive care for women. She currently is the CEO of Health IT Strategies and works as health information technologies consultant.

Levy is a first-time political candidate, who moved to the Treasure Coast 35 years ago. A retired primary care physician, he developed and sold a large practice, and then started several small businesses. He is now preparing to open a coffee roaster and vinyl record store.

Senate District 25 is a Republican-leaning district that voted for Rick Scott in 2010, Mitt Romney in 2012, and Donald Trump in 2016. Harrell’s current House District 83 makes up the largest portion of the Senate District.

Joe Negron to leave Senate early

Senate President Joe Negron tendered his resignation from elected office to Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday, to be effective Nov. 6, “the same day his term as Senate President ends.”

Despite his current and final term not ending till 2020, Negron had telegraphed his decision his recent months in ‘exit interviews’ he gave to state news media, including Florida Politics. He was last elected in 2016.

“I have always been a big believer in term limits,” the Stuart Republican said in a statement. “I have had the privilege of representing the Treasure Coast and parts of Palm Beach County in the Florida Senate for nine years.

“The way I see it, I actually received an extra year because I came to the Senate in a Special Election in 2009. The additional two years of my final term were added only through the vagaries of reapportionment litigation.”

He replaced former Senate President Ken Pruitt, a St. Lucie County Republican who himself left office early after the 2009 Legislative Session.

In his resignation letter, Negron said he wanted “to afford as much notice as possible to allow the next State Senator from District 25 to be elected in the regular 2018 primary and general election cycle without the necessity of a special election.”

“I would respectfully request that you consider scheduling the dates of the special primary election and special general election to coincide with the dates of the primary election and general election,” Negron told Scott.

“With key election-related deadlines and activities scheduled in the ensuing weeks and months, I believe this proposed course of action would be in the best interests of constituents.”

Negron was elected to the House in 2000, serving for six years, including a term as Appropriations Committee chair in 2005-06 under then-House Speaker Allen Bense. He was first elected to the Senate in 2009, and also served as budget chair there in 2012-14 before becoming president for 2016-18.

Sen. Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican, is slated to take over the presidency from Negron after the November election, assuming the GOP holds its majority in the chamber.

“I know @joenegronfl has been thoughtfully considering this choice for some time, and I support his decision,” he tweeted Wednesday. “Julie and I will certainly miss having Joe and Rebecca in Tallahassee. We wish their family well as they prepare to conclude his term as Senate President in November.”

In a March interview with Florida Politics, Negron said lawmakers over the last two Sessions “made tremendous progress” on goals he set out in his 2015 designation speech, “a blueprint of things I tried to accomplish.”

Among those, beefing up higher education “with world class faculties,” addressing pollution in Lake Okeechobee, and “decriminalizing adolescence” with pre-arrest diversion programs and making it easier to expunge juvenile arrest records.

What “didn’t get a lot of attention” last year, he added, was reforming eyewitness identifications in criminal cases “to reduce the chance of wrongful convictions.”

Negron then he hadn’t yet decided whether he would serve his bonus time: “I’m going to take a few weeks to think about it … Term limits are there for a reason.”

He said in the interview he plans to focus on his business litigation work for the Akerman firm in its West Palm Beach office.

“I’m a lawyer first, a legislator second,” Negron said. “This was one part of my life that I greatly value … but my primary professional identity is as a lawyer. I’m back in the office. I enjoy what I do.”

On Wednesday he added: “I believe in a citizen Legislature where women and men from all walks of life serve for a reasonable period of time and then return to the private sector. I have done my very best to fight for my community in Tallahassee and November is the right time to retire from my service in the Legislature.”

The resignation letter is below.

ashley moody

Joe Negron endorses Ashley Moody for Attorney General

Senate President Joe Negron waded into the Republican Primary for Attorney General Tuesday, announcing his support for former circuit court judge Ashley Moody.

“The next Attorney General of Florida should possess a keen legal mind, understand the rich history of Florida and protect the rights of all citizens of our State,” the Stuart Republican said in a press release.

“The best predictor of future success is past performance. Ashley Moody has excelled as a commercial litigator in private practice, a federal prosecutor and a state circuit court judge.

“I am enthusiastically endorsing Ashley Moody because I believe she has the background, experience and temperament to be an exceptional Attorney General.”

The Negron nod is another arrow in Moody’s quiver as she competes against state Reps. Jay Fant and Frank White to be the GOP nominee in the race to replace term-limited AG Pam Bondi.

The Hillsborough County native has already landed support from more than half of Florida’s sheriffs,  11 state attorneys and Bondi, who is a longtime friend.

Moody thanked Negron for the endorsement, adding that as the only candidate in the attorney general’s race having served as a prosecutor and judge, she would “continue to uphold the law by protecting the constitution and prosecuting criminals for a stronger, safer Florida on day one.”

In addition to the broad support among Republican elected officials, Moody has had plenty of success on the fundraising trail.

Through the end of March, she had more than $1.5 million on hand. White leads, however, with about $2 million banked for his campaign, including $1.5 million from himself, while Fant is in the No. 3 spot with about $863,000, including a $750,000 loan.

Personnel note: Ashley Ross joins Ron DeSantis campaign

Ashley Ross is leaving the Senate President’s Office to become “senior finance consultant” for Republican Congressman Ron DeSantiscampaign for governor.

Ross has been Deputy Chief of Staff for Stuart Republican Joe Negron, advising him on commerce, tourism and veterans’ affairs, among other issues.

Before that, however, she had been a fundraiser for the Republican Party of Florida, joining the organization in 2009 to work primarily on Senate campaigns.

Negron soon brought Ross on to work with his political committee as he was sewing up support for his Senate presidency bid, which he clinched in late 2015. She then joined his leadership team in the Capitol.

As we predicted in last fall’s edition of INFLUENCE magazine, “it’s unlikely the move to policy will be a permanent one for Ross, (who) said she fully intends to get back into fundraising once her time with Negron comes to an end in 2018.”

“I’m honored to be chosen by Congressman DeSantis to lead his finance team of seasoned fundraising professionals,” she said. “Ron DeSantis is one of the top conservative leaders in the country and will make an outstanding Governor of Florida. I look forward to building on the strong foundation the finance team has already put in place to ensure we have the necessary resources to win in November.”

“Ashley Ross is one of the top political fundraisers in Florida,” added Brad Herold, campaign manager for DeSantis and a former executive director of the state GOP.

“In every position she’s held she’s broken fundraising records and helped political candidates and organizations have the resources necessary to win races,” he said. “We’re excited to have her on the team as we continue our strong momentum and spread Ron’s conservative message to the entire state.”

Ross, a member of the SaintPetersblog “30 Under 30” Class of 2013, began her career in Gov. Jeb Bush‘s Legislative Affairs office.

“It’s important not to try and reinvent the wheel,” she told us in 2013. “I am a big believer in listening first, analyzing, and not approaching anything without a plan mapped out.

“It’s also important to maintain relationships and not burn bridges,” she added. “The person who has you upset today is tomorrow’s ally.”

She later served in several legislative affairs roles in the private sector, including with The PGA of America.

Ross, married to Capital City Consulting lobbyist Scott Ross, got her undergraduate degree in marketing and an MBA from Florida State University.

They will continue to live in Tallahassee with their two children.

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons