Drew Wilson - 7/30 - SaintPetersBlog

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for SaintPetersBlog and FloridaPolitics.com. While at the University of Florida, Wilson was an editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and after graduation, he moved to Los Angeles to cover business deals for The Hollywood Reporter. Before joining Extensive Enterprises, Wilson covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools.

With more than $30K, Doug Broxson widens lead over Mike Hill in SD 1

Gulf Breeze Republican Rep. Doug Broxson widened his fundraising lead over Pensacola Beach Republican Rep. Mike Hill in the Senate District 1 race last month with more than $30,000 in contributions.

May marked the third-straight five-figure month for Broxson, who raised $30,700 in May and spent about $10,700. Hill, the only other candidate who filed for the Panhandle seat, raised $13,335 and spent $7,282.

The report shows 69 contributions for the Broxson campaign, including 17 for the largest donation of $1,000.

Notable donors include former House Speaker Allan Bense, who also contributed to the GOP frontrunners vying for Broxson’s and Hill’s soon-to-be-vacated House seats.

Broxson’s expenditures included about $2,500 in payments to Tallahassee-based consulting company Frontline, as well as a $1,400 fee to Brandon-based Web Elect for polling.

The $20,000 net gain in campaign cash last month left the HD 3 representative with about $165,000 in the bank at the start of June.

Hill, who entered the Senate race the same day as Broxson, took in 57 contributions last month, with most of them coming in through donations of $250 or less, though he did receive three $1,000 contributions, including one from Pensacola auto dealer Jessica Lee.

After expenses, which included about $3,000 in payments to Gainesville-based Data Targeting Research, Hill finished May with $21,142 in his campaign account.

Broxson and Hill, neither of whom are facing term limits, announced for the Senate shortly after current SD 1 Republican Sen. Greg Evers announced he would run for Congress.

SD 1 holds the second-most GOP voters of all senate districts, with about 48 percent of the electorate belonging to the Republican Party. Back in 2012, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney won the district with 66 percent of the vote.

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Ron Oakley takes in over $150K in Pasco County District 1 race

Pasco County Commissioner Ron Oakley announced Friday that he raised more than $150,000 for his District 1 campaign last month.

“I am humbled by the strong outpouring of financial support from across Pasco County for our campaign,” he said.

The $157,375 raised in May includes $150,000 in loans from Oakley, who had previously run for the commission in 2012.

“I’m running to represent the people of Pasco County. As we continue to meet with voters and they hear our campaign message, they are joining our team,” Oakley said. “With this contribution, I’m demonstrating our commitment to carry our campaign message directly to the residents of Pasco County. “

After expenditures, Oakley finished the month with an on hand total of more than $193,000.

“Pasco County voters have a choice this primary election about who will best represent their interests on the County Commission,” he said. “I look forward to continue sharing our campaign message and vision for Pasco County’s future directly with them over the coming weeks.”

Currently, Oakley faces fellow Republicans Rachel O’Connor and Debbie Wells in his re-election campaign, as well as no-party candidate Dimitri Delgado.

The May report for puts him far ahead O’Connor, who has $17,385 on hand, and Delgado, who has $440, though Wells has not yet filed her report.

Through the end of April, the wife of retiring Pasco County Property Appraiser Mike Wells had raised $59,675 and spent $11,867, leaving her with $47,808 on hand at the start of May.

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Dennis Baxley outshines GOP rivals in fundraising for SD 12 race

Ocala Rep. Dennis Baxley outraised the other two Republicans vying for the open Senate District 12 seat with $27,030 in May contributions.

With another month in the books Baxley, who currently represents House District 23, has brought in more than $500,000 in donations since he started campaigning in earnest back in July 2014.

His May contributions, however, were outshined by his expenditures, which totaled $57,154.

Baxley’s May report showed 22 checks for the campaign maximum of $1,000, including contributions from five Disney subsidiaries. Also on the list were Gainesville construction company Charles Perry Partners with a $1,000 contribution and current HD15 Republican Rep. Jay Fant, who chipped in $500.

The bulk of Baxley’s expenditures went to Tallahassee-based Front Line Strategies, which took home a $50,000 payment last month for advertising services, with another $2,647 heading to Clearwater-based Direct Mail Systems for a mailer campaign.

The May performance left the third-term representative with $341,454 in his campaign account, including $260,000 in loans, putting him far ahead of his competitors, fellow Republican Rep. Marlene O’Toole, and Villages Republican David E. Gee.

O’Toole, who entered the race in March, added another $19,700 last month and spent $6,638, leaving her with just shy of $70,000 in her campaign account at the end of the month.

Among the 51 May contributions included a pair of $1,000 checks from mega-lobbyist Ron Book and his company, and another pair of maximum checks from Sarasota-based insurance company FCCI and one of its subsidiaries.

Nearly all of O’Toole’s spending — her initial expenditures since filing — went toward payments and reimbursements for her campaign manager, Austin Locke.

Gee, who made a splash in April by loaning his campaign $105,000, managed to bring in just $1,660 in May and spent $10,209, for an on hand total of $88,315 after two full months in the race.

The bulk of that money came from a pair of Villages retirees, while about $6,600 in spending went toward web support, software and campaign signage.

The newly redrawn SD12 carries a substantial Republican advantage and includes the southern half of Marion, northern Lake and all of Sumter counties. About 45 percent of the district’s electorate are registered Republican, with 35 percent belonging to the Democratic Party.

Back in 2012, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney won the district with 61.5 percent of the vote — one of his best performances outside of the staunchly Republican panhandle region.

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Mike Clelland adds another $97K, widens lead in SD 13 primary race

Maitland Democrat Mike Clelland added another $97,000 in contributions last month, putting him farther ahead of his two primary opponents in the Senate District 13 race.

“I am honored and energized by the tremendous support I continue to receive from my community. This outpouring of support has only deepened my commitment to serve the people of Central Florida in Tallahassee,” Clelland said. “It’s clear that my community is ready for new leadership in Tallahassee, and I look forward to working on common-sense solutions for the hard-working families of my district as their next State Senator.”

The former state representative announced he raised $19,000 for his campaign account and $78,000 for his political committee, Common Sense for Central Florida, though he has not yet released his complete report for May.

Since filing for the seat in January, Clelland has taken a commanding lead over his primary opponents, former Rep. Linda Stewart and former Orange County School Board member Rick Roach.

At the end of April, Clelland had about $167,000 on hand in his campaign account and another $220,000 on hand for his committee. Through the same date Roach, who filed back in 2014, had about $31,000 on hand; Stewart had about $18,000 in the bank.

Depending on how their full reports pan out, Clelland may still be chasing Republican businessman Dean Asher in fundraising. Through April, Asher had more than $205,000 in his campaign account and another $199,000 in committee cash from local and national Realtor groups.

Despite Asher’s formidable fundraising efforts, the new SD 13 would be an uphill battle for any Republican. The district went plus 13 for President Barack Obama four years ago, and in the same cycle, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson won re-election by 26 points.

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Florida picks up another 17K jobs in May, ADP says

The Sunshine State added 17,100 private sector jobs last month according to a new report released by payroll company ADP.

The ADP Regional Employment Report shows Florida added 15,600 jobs in the service industry and 1,500 jobs in goods-producing industries last month, which is 1,900 jobs short of the state’s performance in May 2015.

The select industry breakdown shows 3,000 new jobs in the trade, transportation and utilities sector, 2,400 jobs added in the professional and business services industry, 1,400 hires in natural resources, mining and construction and 200 new manufacturing jobs.

Despite falling short of May 2015 numbers, Florida added the second most jobs of all states tracked in the report. California came in with 21,200 jobs last month, while fellow large states Texas and New York managed 12,300 jobs and 8,500 jobs, respectively.

Southern states once again added the most jobs in the regional breakdown, with 67,000 jobs added last month, followed by Western states with 46,000, the Midwest with 33,000 and the Northeast with 27,000.

The ADP Regional Employment Report is produced with help from Moody’s Analytics and combines government jobs data with the company’s in-house payroll data. The next report, covering June, is scheduled for release July 13.

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Senate campaigns of David Simmons, Lauren Book, George Gainer post impressive May fundraising reports

George Gainer, Lauren Book and incumbent Sen. David Simmons continued to coast in fundraising last month according to newly filed campaign finance reports.

Simmons raised $126,072 last month, which accounts for more than half of the money the Altamonte Springs Republican has raised since filing for re-election back in September. Among the 213 contributions were $1,000 checks from several companies associated with taxi company Mears Transportation Group alongside contributions from fellow driver services City Cab Company of Orlando and Yellow Airport Limousine Service.

The May contributions were offset by just $7,005 in expenditures, leaving Simmons with about $210,000 on hand in his unopposed campaign for the newly redrawn SD 9, which covers Seminole County and part of Volusia.

Over in SD 2, Gainer posted $34,515 in contributions for his uncontested effort to take over for termed-out Republican Sen. Don Gaetz, who was among the 56 contributors listed on the Bay County Republican’s May report.

Also on the list were future Senate President Wilton Simpson, his wife Kathryn, and his political committee “Jobs for Florida.”

Gainer’s May numbers included $10,685 in expenditures leaving the Bay County Commissioner with more than $540,000 on hand heading into June.

Also turning in an early report was Democrat Book, who raised $15,100 last month including $1,000 checks from Anheuser-Busch and Publix Super Markets.

The author and child advocate spent more than she brought in last month, however, with $20,332 in expenditures. Among the outflow was a $13,000 payment to Coral Springs-based Win on the Ground Consulting.

The May numbers leave her with about $266,000 on hand in her campaign account, compared to just $265 for her lone rival, Davie Democrat Emmanuel Blimie. Book also has another $689,000 in her political committee, Leadership for Broward, which has not yet released May fundraising numbers.

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Florida firefighters’ union endorses Chris Latvala in HD 67

Largo Republican Rep. Chris Latvala announced Tuesday that he has picked up an endorsement from the Florida Professional Firefighters in his  re-election campaign.

“We commend you on your willingness to run for and serve in public office, and because of that, the Florida Professional Firefighters wish to endorse and support your campaign for re-election to the Florida House of Representatives, District 67,” FPF President Jim Tolley said.

“We believe that you will continue to honorably serve the citizens of Florida, and the interests of the men and women employed in the fire and emergency medical services, who have made the protection of life and property their life’s work,” he continued.

FPF’s written endorsement also included the organization’s stance on its core legislative issues, among which are an opposition to changing defined benefit pension funds, maintaining the Florida Public Employee Relations Commission and other bargaining units, and standing against any new laws that would eliminate payroll dues deductions.

Latvala has held the HD 67 seat since 2014, when he took over for his former boss, termed-out Republican Rep. Ed Hooper.

The first term representative is being challenged by Democrat David Vogel in his re-election campaign, though the incumbent had built up a massive fundraising lead as of April 30.

Latvala’s most recent campaign finance report shows him with about $68,000 on hand compared to just $250 for Vogel, who filed for the seat on March 2.

According to voter statistics from 2014, HD 67 has a fairly even split between Republicans and Democrats. In his first election, Latvala was able to beat Democrat Stephen Sarnoff with 53 percent of the vote on Election Day.

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Audubon, Florida FWC warn boaters to watch for wildlife this Memorial Day

Memorial Day means a weekend by the water to many Floridians, but environmental group Audubon and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conversation Commission say boaters and beachgoers need to watch out wildlife.

Many rare and declining species of water birds make their homes on Florida beaches and islands, and even a small disturbance can decimate an entire colony by causing parents to flee their nests, the groups say.

“Memorial Day is always a fun time to be around or on the water, but we’re not the only ones who think so,” Audubon Florida Deputy Executive Director Julie Wraithmell said. “The end of May is a critical time for some of Florida’s most iconic coastal birds and their fluffy chicks. Roseate spoonbills, black skimmers, snowy plovers, American oystercatchers, least terns and more are using Florida’s beaches and islands right now to raise their young.”

As part of their conservation effort, some FWC officials and Audubon volunteers will spend the weekend as “bird stewards” by chaperoning nesting bird colonies and educating beach visitors. The groups also released a tip list for those spending the weekend having fun on the water.

Among the recommendations are reminders to give colonies a wide birth, avoid disturbing groups of birds by getting too close or launching fireworks, and to refrain from bringing pets near nesting areas, even on a leash.

Audubon and FWC also said beachgoers and boaters should tread lightly even if they don’t see any birds, nests or eggs, as they can be well camouflaged.

“While the disturbance is seldom intentional, the result for the birds can be deadly,” FWC Chairman Brian Yablonski said. “Together we can ensure this holiday weekend is safe and enjoyable for people and birds alike.”

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Let’s Get to Work adds another $70K so far in May

Gov. Rick Scott’s political committee, Let’s Get to Work, brought in $70,100 in contributions during the first two weeks of the month.

The contributions came in through just five contributions, with $50,000 of that money coming from the political committee of prison contractor the GEO Group, which operates many detention centers across the country the, including Broward Transitional Facility.

Also contributing were telecom company Motorola Solutions, which gave $7.500, and the company’s CEO Gregory Brown, who wrote a check for the same amount. Miami Lakes real estate investor Lewis Swezy added $5,000 and Fort Lauderdale law firm Waldman, Trigoboff Hildebrandt, Marx and Calnan gave $100.

Scott’s committee has spent $40,391 in May as of Thursday, with $24,000 of that money heading to Tallahassee-based consulting shop Calvery Strategies. Maryland-based firm On Message, which has produced ads for Scott for years, also got about $14,000 this month from the committee.

The preliminary May figures put the termed-out governor’s committee with about $1.2 million on hand as of May 19. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam’s Florida Grown committee, by comparison, has a little over $3.4 million in the bank after raising about $30,000 and spending more than $65,000 between May 1 and May 19.

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Personnel note: AT&T names Troy McNichols regional director of External Affairs

AT&T announced Monday that Troy L. McNichols will serve as its new Director of External Affairs for North and Central Florida.

In McNichols’ new role he will lead a team responsible for representing AT&T with local governments in the region along with state lawmakers in Tallahassee. Prior to his promotion, McNichols worked as AT&T’s Regional Director of External Affairs for Central Florida.

Before joining AT&T, the University of Central Florida alumnus held positions at the highest levels of government, including positions at the White House and the U.S. Department of Energy.

In addition to his work for the telecommunications giant, McNichols serves on the board of directors for the Seminole County Regional Chamber of Commerce and the advisory board of the UCF College of Business Administration.

McNichols is the second new regional director for AT&T announced this month. Last week, the company announced it had promoted Alejandro Dominguez to Regional Director for External Affairs for South and Southwest Florida.

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