May 18, 2017

Here are the biggest financial backers of candidates running for governor in 2018

SorosAP

@JeremySWallace

It’s early in the 2018 gubernatorial election cycle, but the checks are already flying in the race. Millions of dollars are amassing for a race that is already showing it will be one of the most expensive in the nation even before other big names announce whether they are running or not.

Here are the top four donors to each of the candidates that have so far announced they are running.

Since 2014, Florida Agriculture commissioner Adam Putnam, a Republican, has been piling up money in a political committee he calls Florida Grown, which can accept donations of more than $3,000, the limit for a traditional campaign account. His top donors have been some of Florida’s biggest industries. His biggest donor has been The Voice of Florida Business, a political committee run by the Associated Industries of Florida. That committee gave him $605,000 for his committee since 2014. That is in addition to $525,000 Associated Industries gave him through another political committee they control.

Putnam’s Top 5
$605,000 - The Voice of Florida Business
$587,060 - Florida Power & Light
$550,000 - Florida Jobs PAC, a committee run by the Florida Chamber of Commerce
$525,000 - Associated Industries of Florida PAC
$465,000 - U.S. Sugar Corporation and South Central Florida Express Inc.

Orlando Businessman Chris King and his family are showing they are committed to him becoming the state’s first Democratic governor since Lawton Chiles won his last race in 1994. King and members of his family members have combined to put more than $1.2 million into the race. King himself put in over $1 million already.

King’s Top 5
$1,062,000 - Chris King
$179,000 - Paul Morgan, a principal with King-founded Elevation Financial Group
$166,000 - David King, Attorney and Chris King’s father
$47,000 - Thomas Beck, accountant from Winter Park
$25,000 - Debbie Lawton of Winter Park

Former Congresswoman Gwen Graham, a Tallahassee Democrat, started her campaign by transferring $250,000 from her former congressional campaign account into her new political committee called Our Florida.

Graham’s Top 5

$250,000 - Graham for Congress campaign account
$50,000 - James Finch, former NASCAR racing team owner and construction company owner
$50,000 - Michael Singer, founder of the Temple of the Universe, a yoga and meditation center outside of Gainesville
$50,000 - Wayne Hogan, Jacksonville attorney and 2002 candidate for Congress
$25,000 - Five donors gave this amount

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Democrat has tapped into serious celebrity money already. Besides a $7,000 check from Jane Fonda, Gillum has picked up donations from billionaire financier George Soros and Norman Lear, a writer and producer of tv shows like All in the Family.

Gillum’s Top 5
$100,000 - George Soros, billionaire financier
$50,000 - Norman Lear, television producer and writer
$50,000 - Alex Soros, philanthropist
$50,000 - Tarra Pressey, Palm Beach Gardens
$45,000 - Attorney Sean Pittman, his law firm and and investment company he runs

 

PHOTO CREDIT: George Soros, AP

May 17, 2017

Poll boosts Lopez-Cantera as potential candidate for Congress

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@PatriciaMazzei

Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera could be well-positioned to run for Congress if he wants to, according to a new poll obtained by the Miami Herald.

The robopoll found Lopez-Cantera leading a hypothetical three-way GOP primary field in the race to replace Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who represents Florida's Democratic-leaning 27th district. The survey was conducted by Front Porch Strategies on behalf of Public Concepts, a top Republican political consulting firm in West Palm Beach run by Randy Nielsen and Rich Johnston. Johnston advised Lopez-Cantera during his short-lived 2016 U.S. Senate campaign.

Lopez-Cantera would start the contest with 57 percent support, according to the poll, compared with 13 percent support for former Miami-Dade County School Board member Raquel Regalado and 3 percent for Miami-Dade Commissioner Bruno Barreiro, the only big-name Republican who's declared a candidacy. The error margin was plus-or-minus 5.6 percentage points.

In a potential general election against Miami Democratic state Sen. José Javier Rodríguez, Lopez-Cantera would lead by 41-34 percent, the poll found. The error margin was plus-or-minus 3.5 percentage points.

Lopez-Cantera has said he's considering a candidacy. The National Republican Campaign Committee reached out to him earlier this month to gauge his interest.

Robopolls usually skew Republican because they miss cellphone-only voters: young, minority and poor people who lean Democratic. But Front Porch had a large polling universe, surveying 301 likely Republican voters for its primary-election sample, and 805 likely voters for its general-election sample. It's the first poll made public since Ros-Lehtinen announced her retirement last month. 

The poll also measured how favorably respondents viewed two other top Republicans, Gov. Rick Scott and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio -- and found more unfavorable than favorable opinions. For Scott, 41 percent of respondents viewed him unfavorably, compared to 30 percent who viewed him favorably. For Rubio, the figures were similar: 40 percent unfavorable, and 32 percent favorable.

For Lopez-Cantera, the numbers were 37 percent unfavorable and 55 percent favorable.

An earlier version of this post misstated Barreiro's percentage in the poll.

Photo credit: Al Diaz, MIami Herald staff

May 15, 2017

Adam Putnam brings his campaign for Florida governor to Broward

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@amysherman1

The tony Fort Lauderdale beachside hotel where Adam Putnam campaigned for Florida governor Monday was entirely different territory from the historic Polk County Courthouse where he debuted his candidacy last week, surrounded by crates of Florida oranges and the sounds of a marching-band fiddle.

In Broward, the most liberal county in the state, Putnam knew to offer the sort of business-friendly message that binds Republicans together.

“Whether you grow up in downtown Pompano or in a small town in the middle of the state like where I’m from we need to have a job climate in Florida that doesn’t require you to leave your town to find a decent career,” Putnam said at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66.

Keep reading here.

Miami Herald photo by Emily Michot of Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam speaking with Bob Swindell, with the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance, and Jose Basulto, with Memorial Hospital System.

Two Republicans say no to running for Ros-Lehtinen's seat

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@PatriciaMazzei

A pair of Republican state legislators have decided against vying for U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's congressional seat when she retires next year.

State Sen. René García of Hialeah said Monday to be mentioned as a potential contender was "one of the greatest compliments I have ever received in my career in public service." Hialeah, however, is not part of Ros-Lehtinen's Democratic-leaning 27th district, which runs along the Miami-Dade County coast from Miami Beach to Kendall.

"While the district represents a great part of the community and county that I love, I cannot continue to serve the public knowing that I would be abandoning the city of Hialeah and the people of Northwest Miami-Dade County," García said in a statement. "Having been born and raised in Hialeah, it has been the privilege of my life to serve my hometown for almost 20 years. I do so today with the same appreciation and intensity that I felt when I was first elected."

State Sen. Anitere Flores of Miami, who was also mentioned as a possible candidate, is not running, either.

"I can assure you I'm not running and my focus is to finish out my Florida Senate term strong and serve the constituents of District 39," Flores said in a statement to the Miami Herald. "I think that is the best place where I can serve my community in the coming years."

Flores isn't term-limited until 2020, but García's Senate term will end next year. The two senators have been mentioned as likely future candidates for local office, either at Hialeah City Hall (for García) or Miami-Dade County Hall (for both).

The best-known Republican already in the congressional race: Miami-Dade Commissioner Bruno Barreiro, a former state representative. Several Democrats, including state Sen. José Javier Rodríguez of Miami, have also declared their candidacies.

Photo credit: Scott Keeler, Tampa Bay Times

May 11, 2017

Quelling candidacy chatter, Carvalho vows to remain Miami-Dade schools chief

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@PatriciaMazzei @KyraGurney

Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho appeared to squash rumors Wednesday night that there's a chance he could run for Congress.

Speaking at an awards ceremony for the Education Fund, a local schools nonprofit, Carvalho vowed to remain schools chief this year, next year and for years to come, according to several attendees. The comment seemed to address his own acknowledgment last week that he was being courted to replace Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

Carvalho, an independent who has never run for public office, could have mounted a formidable candidacy, given his broad popularity and name recognition. But he sounded reluctant to run even last week, when Florida Democrats were abuzz about his potential candidacy. And he has since spoken to school board members, including one, Lubby Navarro, who said Carvalho was clear he wasn't running.

Wednesday night, Carvalho's promise to stick to his job was met with resounding applause.

Photo credit: José A. Iglesias, el Nuevo Herald

Ahead of expected Senate run, Gov. Scott unveils new super PAC

WASHINGTON — Gov. Rick Scott will chair a national Super PAC aiming to “change and rebrand the way the Republican Party approaches the challenges of the future.”

Hitching itself to President Donald Trump, New Republican will “get rid of all our tired old political jargon and cliches,” Scott said in a release that echoed a presentation he gave in Washington Wednesday night.

The PAC was founded by Republican strategist Alex Castellanos, and he will serve as senior advisor. Melissa Stone will serve as the executive director; Taylor Teepell, finance director. 

Scott played up his connection to Trump. “Donald Trump’s election was a complete shock to the system in Washington,” said Scott, who is readying to run for U.S. Senate against Bill Nelson.

“This is the perfect opportunity to do things differently. The president is a friend of mine. I’ve known him for about 20 years. I am committed to helping him as he fights against the political machine and attempts to force real change upon a political system and a city that hates change.”

A professed outsider, Scott announced the PAC in a most insider way: during an invite-only dinner with Beltway reporters.

According to the PAC website, New Republican will focus on three specific areas:

Continue reading "Ahead of expected Senate run, Gov. Scott unveils new super PAC" »

May 10, 2017

If Miami-Dade schools chief runs for Congress, who will replace him?

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@KyraGurney

Just days after Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho’s name surfaced as a potential candidate for Congress, speculation has already started over who might replace him as schools chief.

Several School Board members said they have received calls asking what would happen if Carvalho — who told the Miami Herald on Friday that he is being courted to run for retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s seat — resigns to run for office.

“I’ve spoken to a lot of folks in all of the communities and yes, they are concerned,” said board Chair Larry Feldman. “He’s been working for us for eight years in this position and has taken us from financial disasters, academic issues, credibility issues,” to a school district that serves as a model for the rest of the country, Feldman said. 

It’s unclear how seriously the superintendent is considering pursuing a political run. On Friday, Carvahlo walked the fence in an interview with the Miami Herald. He said he had a “moral responsibility at least to entertain” requests from the people who are hoping he’ll get into the race but added that his commitment to the school district “is as strong and unwavering as ever.”

But Carvalho has since privately assured School Board members, including Feldman, that he plans to remain head of Miami-Dade Schools, where his contract runs until 2020. 

School Board member Lubby Navarro, who has gotten calls from residents in her district and elected officials concerned about Carvalho’s possible departure, said Carvalho told her on Saturday that there was “zero chance” he would run.

If the superintendent does leave, Navarro said there are two qualified candidates who come to mind as possible replacements: Iraida Mendez-Cartaya, an associate superintendent at the Miami-Dade school district who lobbies in Tallahassee on the district’s behalf, and Pablo Ortiz, a former school district administrator who currently serves as a vice president at Florida International University.

Both responded that they were happy where they were. 

More here

 

Putnam says Scott shouldn't veto entire budget

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via @adamsmithtimes

After formally kicking off his campaign for governor in one of the most picturesque launches we've seen from a Florida politician in a long time, Adam Putnam breezed through a line of reporters by his campaign bus to quickly answer one question per reporter. Some he answered directly, others not so much.

On whether Gov. Rick Scott should veto the whole budget passed by the legislature: "I would take a large veto pen to the line items. I think that vetoing the whole thing throws it back into the hands of the legislature, and it's a blunt force instrument. I think that the governor can more successfully impose his views through the use of the line item veto."

On whether he might support Florida seeking a waiver, allowed under the U.S. House's American Health Care Act, from the requirement that insurance must accept people with pre-existing conditions and charge them the same as people without: "It's something that has huge impacts on Florida, and the next governor and the current governor aee going to need to make sure that whatever Washington does is not something that is going to further reduce choices and stand between patients and doctors. We have a situation in Florida now where a large number of our counties only have one (provider) option. That's not a viable solution."

On the suggestion that Putnam is a career politician, at a time when political outsiders are in favor: "Floridians want a governor who knows the state, who knows the problems facing our state and how to fix them and how to treat people along the way. My experience managing crises from managing wildfires to managing a large organization and bringing a business background to this is going to make me the most prepared candidate for governor regardless of who runs."

On whether he could face a strong primary challenge from the right; "I'm a Bartow-raised farmer, and I'm a conservative. Anyone who wants to run for governor is welcome to pack a lunch and come on."

--ADAM C. SMITH, Tampa Bay Times

Putnam: Florida can be 'launch pad for the American Dream'

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via @adamsmithtimes

BARTOW -- Adam Putnam, the fifth generation Florida native and Republican agriculture commissioner, has been planning and building towards his gubernatorial campaign for years if not decades. On Wednesday he offered his vision for where he next wants to lead Florida Florida.

“We’ve got to put Florida first to make sure that it isn’t only the place where people come after a life well-lived somewhere else; it’s where they come to launch their own American Dream," said Putnam, the 42-year-old former congressional leader and product of a prominent agriculture family. 

“Our state can be the launch pad for the American Dream," he said. "The state that is the fishing capital of the world can also be the state that builds the boats and trains the craftsmen. The state that trained millions of soldiers and sailors and airmen can retrain our citizens with the skills that allow them to compete in a rapidly changing world – and win. The state that put a man on the moon can build the tools for the next giant leap for mankind."

It was a setting befitting Norman Rockwell, with Putnam in front of crates of Florida oranges and the domed, 108-year-old historic Polk County Courthouse draped with the flags of Florida and America. Supporters were entertained by the Polk High marching band and the fiddle and double base of Lakeland's Brian Southerland Band.

"Some people say that this doesn't exist any more," said Putnam, noting the flags waving and prayer on the courthouse steps

Republicans have controlled the governor's office and Tallahasee for nearly two decades, and Putnam on Wednesday sounded like he saw little need for a change in direction. He spoke broadly of focusing on education, and job-training, as well as protecting gun rights and Florida's natural resources.

“American exceptionalism is real. If you ever doubt that.  Look at the grocery clerk in Lakeland who revolutionized the supermarket industry, Or the cashier on I-Drive who now owns the souvenir shop. It’s the truck driver hauling fruit who saved up to buy an orange grove, and then another. It’s the hotel maid who now runs her own bed and breakfast," Putnam said before a crowd of nearly 1,000 people. 

“Hard-working folks like these have been able to achieve their American Dream right here in Florida. I want every single Floridian to be able to tell a similar story. I want people around the country to know this is where it happens. It’s why we have more work to do. It’s why we’ve got to keep fighting to put Florida first and make our state the launch pad for the American dream. “And it’s why I am running for Governor of the great state of Florida."

--ADAM C. SMITH, Tampa Bay Times

Barreiro files candidacy for Ros-Lehtinen's seat in Congress

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@PatriciaMazzei

Miami-Dade County Commissioner Bruno Barreiro formalized his candidacy for Congress on Wednesday, announcing he'd filed paperwork to begin fundraising and launch his Republican campaign for retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's seat.

"Throughout my years as a public servant, I have witnessed first-hand how my efforts can positively contribute to the growth and well-being of our residents in South Florida," he said in a statement. "I have a pulse for the needs of our community, and understand the importance of having a strong advocate for South Floridians in Washington D.C."

Barreiro is the first well-known Republican to enter the race for the Democratic-leaning 27th district, though former Miami-Dade School Board member Raquel Regalado is interested, and national Republicans have reached out to Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Jeb Bush Jr. Maria Peiro has also filed to run. Several Democrats are already in the contest.

Barreiro has represented much of Ros-Lehtinen's district on the commission and previously in the Florida Legislature, where he was a state representative from 1992-98. A Cuban-American, he was born in Clearwater but raised in Miami. He's the elected state committeeman for the Miami-Dade Republican Executive Committee. His wife, Zoraida, is running for Miami City Commission.

"As Congressman, I will work in a bipartisan manner to bring to the table important issues for our residents, such as economic prosperity, improved infrastructure, modernized and efficient transportation alternatives, affordable housing, viable healthcare options, and so much more," Barreiro said.

Photo credit: Pedro Portal, el Nuevo Herald