Marlene O’Toole outpaces fundraising, but Dennis Baxley loans $100K to keep lead in SD 12

Lady Lake Republican Rep. Marlene O’Toole was able to bring in more contributions than Rep. Dennis Baxley last month, but the Ocala Republican threw in $100,000 of his own money to further increase his lead in the Senate District 12 race.

O’Toole, who filed for the seat March 2, brought in $11,150 in her first month and spent nothing, leaving her with a five-figure campaign account at month’s end.

Nearly all of her contributions came from subsidiaries of Central Florida retirement community The Villages, combining to in $10,000.

Outside of Baxley’s loan, the three-term Marion County representative was able to raise $5,600, including five contributions for the campaign maximum of $1,000. Among his March donors were two Anesthesiology political action committees and Tallahassee-based consulting firms Johnson & Blanton and 537.

Baxley also spent about $6,700 last month, including $3,000 to Front Line Strategies and $2,130 to the Pecunia Group for consulting services, leaving the candidate with more than $203,000 on hand.

O’Toole and Baxley also face Republican David Gee in the primary race for the seat, which covers all of Sumter County and parts of Marion and Lake counties, though he didn’t report any contributions for the one day he was filed to run last month.

The newly redrawn District 12 heavily favors Republicans and is unlikely to draw a serious Democratic contender. According to statistics from the district plan, Republicans have a 45 percent share of the new SD12 electorate compared to 35 percent for Democrats.

Back in 2012, the district voted plus-23 for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and plus-5 for Republican U.S. Senate candidate Connie Mack IV.

Is Mike Haridopolos eyeing return to Florida Senate?

Former state Sen. Mike Haridopolos is considering a possible return to the Florida Senate, according to two current members of the chamber’s leadership team who have discussed a possible campaign with him.

The Merritt Island Republican is eyeing Senate District 17, currently held by Thad Altman, a Rockledge Republican who is term-limited. But that seat is also being sought by GOP state Reps. Debbie Mayfield of Vero Beach and Ritch Workman of Melbourne.

No matter: The lawmakers who have met with Haridopolos say he is actively working to elbow Workman out of the race.

“I have been asked if I would run again ever since leaving office almost four years ago,” Haridopolos tells Florida Politics. “Serving my community has always been and continues to be important to me.”

“I have not made the decision yet to officially run, but I plan to do what is best for my family and neighbors,” said Haridopolos.

Among those who Haridopolos has sought endorsements from are Joe Negron, Bill Galvano, and Wilton Simpson.

First elected to the Florida House in 2000 before moving to the Senate in 2003, Haridopolos took over as Senate president after the 2010 elections.

His presidency was marred by high-profile spats with the Florida House, including the “midnight meltdown” of 2011.

The two chambers were virtually at each others’ collective throats over an array of priorities, including differences over claim bills and tax breaks. The House adjourned first, separately and late into the night, without the traditional “hankie drop” that marks the end of a legislative session.

Haridopolos then made a bid for the Republican nomination to challenge U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, in 2012 but bowed out early and backed then-U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, who lost to Nelson.

Haridopolos was back in the news most recently over litigation between him and lobbyist Frank Tsamoutales. The two had been fast friends.

Tsamoutales now says Haridopolos, who used to lobby for Tsamoutales Strategies, “trad(ed) on his former political positions to receive large sums of money” instead of “performing meaningful work,” according to his lawsuit filed earlier this month.

In return, Haridopolos filed his own suit, saying Tsamoutales still owes him over $350,000 for unpaid work. Haridopolos says he quit in December; Tsamoutales says he fired him.

However, as of Monday night — and this is according to Haridopolos — “the parties mutually agreed to settle the matter.”

Nancy Watkins will not run for the Tampa HD 60 seat

Nancy Watkins, the South Tampa CPA who has served as campaign treasurer for hundreds of local and national Republicans, will not run for the Florida House District 60 seat being vacated this fall by Dana Young.

Watkins, who has never run for public office before, had been rumored to be seriously considering running for the seat, which encompasses South Tampa, northwest Hillsborough County, and a slice of South Hillsborough.

“I am truly grateful for the incredible amount of encouragement I’ve received recently to consider running for the soon-to-be-open State House District 60 seat,” Watkins said in a statement issued Friday afternoon. “As for me, due to my many professional commitments already made for 2016, I have decided this is not the right time, for me or my family, to pursue elective politics.  I believe the best way I can contribute today to the health of our democracy is to continue helping others properly account for, and comply with, the laws that govern campaigns and politics; to restore the trust and renew the faith people have in our state an

House District 60 covers most of South Tampa through to the western part of Ruskin.

She told Florida Trend magazine in 2009 that the only time she contemplated running for office was against former Tampa Democratic Congressman Sam Gibbons in 1994.

House District 60 covers most of South Tampa through to the western part of Ruskin.

Republican Jackie Toledo, who lost in a bid for Tampa City Council a year ago, is the only declared candidate in the HD 60 race to date. No Democrat has stepped up to enter the race, though Tampa City Councilman Harry Cohen has said he is considering a run for the seat.

Young announced last month that she is vacating the seat to be run in the newly created state Senate 18 seat.

 

Byron Donalds files to run in House District 80

Collier County businessmann Byron Donalds has filed to run for a Southwest Florida House seat, according to the Florida Division of Elections.

The District 80 seat eyed by Donalds is set to be vacated by House Speaker Pro Tempore Matt Hudson, who faces term limits in 2016. Hudson in turn is running for the Senate seat of term-limited state Sen. Garrett Richter of Naples.

District 80 was competitive before 2011 redistricting, when Hudson first took office by defeating Democrat Maria Jimenez by a margin of 53-47 in 2008. Since though, the seat has been modified to include only the inland half of Collier, along with all of rural Hendry County, making success there for Democrats in the future fairly difficult.

Donalds was appointed last year by Gov. Rick Scott as a member of the Board of Trustees for Florida Southwestern State College. He also sits on the board of a local charter school and the Collier Salvation Army. He ran with some success to take over the U.S. House seat of Connie Mack, garnering 14 percent of the vote in a six-way race in 2012.

“I have personally experienced all that Florida has to offer, and I want to ensure that our state remains the best destination for Americans seeking an outstanding quality of life,” Donalds said in a statement. “Conservative leadership in Tallahassee will preserve the Florida we love, and promote the economic and educational innovations essential to Florida’s Future.”

Donalds currently faces opposition in Democrat John Lundin, who ran for the Collier Commission in 2012.

Charlie Crist’s political mentor, former Senator Connie Mack, withdraws support after veto of SB 6

Charlie Crist’s political mentor, former U.S. Sen. Connie Mack, has resigned as Crist’s campaign chairman in his race for the U.S. Senate.

Mack wrote a two-paragraph letter Thursday evening to his one-time protege, saying Crist was wrong to veto a bill (SB 6) that would have made it easier to fire teachers and tie their pay to student test scores.

Mack said the veto undermines the state’s educational system and the principles that he’s always believed in. Mack said Crist’s decision was unsupportable.

Mack addressed the letter to “Charlie” and said he valued their long friendship, but could not continue to serve as his campaign chairman.

The Orlando Sentinel is reporting House Speaker-designate Dean Cannon is considering yanking his endorsement of Crist for Senate.

Charlie Crist’s political mentor, former Senator Connie Mack, withdraws support after veto of SB 6

Charlie Crist’s political mentor, former U.S. Sen. Connie Mack, has resigned as Crist’s campaign chairman in his race for the U.S. Senate.

Mack wrote a two-paragraph letter Thursday evening to his one-time protege, saying Crist was wrong to veto a bill (SB 6) that would have made it easier to fire teachers and tie their pay to student test scores.

Mack said the veto undermines the state’s educational system and the principles that he’s always believed in. Mack said Crist’s decision was unsupportable.

Mack addressed the letter to “Charlie” and said he valued their long friendship, but could not continue to serve as his campaign chairman.

The Orlando Sentinel is reporting House Speaker-designate Dean Cannon is considering yanking his endorsement of Crist for senate.

With veto of ‘leadership funds’ bill — and a veto of SB 6 — a path emerges for Charlie Crist’s independent bid

Charlie Crist can not win the Republican Primary, that much is now clear.  The right wing of Florida’s GOP absolutely despises Charlie Crist.

But Charlie Crist is a loyal Republican.  Forget about him having been a Republican his entire life.  Forget about his mentor being Republican Connie Mack.  Forget all of the “less taxes, more freedom” slogans.  The bottom line is Charlie Crist’s parents are stalwart Republicans.  Mrs. Crist is the embodiement of the classic Republican woman…a modern day Pat Nixon.  She is the kind of thoughtful patrician who wears a proper dress even to go to the neighborhood Publix. And, Charlie’s father, Dr. Crist? To him, I believe, all of this Tea Party fury may be foreign to him, but he’s still a Republican from the noble Eisenhower-Rockefeller school of thought.

So if Charlie Crist is contemplating running for the U.S. Senate as an Independent, he is not worried about losing  the support of anyone within the Florida Republican Party, save, perhaps George LeMieux.  No, for Charlie, this decision to leave the Republican Party, even temporarily, is about two people – his wonderful mother and father.

There’s nothing Shakespearian about this decision.  Charlie would never turn his back on his parents, nor they him.  But what running as an Independent says about Charlie is that he failed.  Failed as a Republican. That all those countless hours pressing the flesh at Lincoln Day Dinners and Reagan Day picnics was a waste of time.  That his path along the cursus honorum of Florida politics has failed.  That if he is to become a U.S. senator, he has to win with an asterick by his name.

But that is exactly the path Charlie Crist appears to be on.  An Independent bid for the U.S. Senate.  Connect the dots.  He vetoes the ‘leadership funds’ bill and is now threatening to veto Senate Bill 6 (I don’t know why it’s a surprise to anyone that Crist is thinking about vetoing this disastrous bill – his sisters are school teachers).

By vetoing the leadership bill, Crist can now say there is plague on both parties’ houses, thereby positioning himself perfectly to receive the support of the large block of voters disgusted with both Democrats and Republicans.  And by vetoing Senate Bill 6, in addition to delivering millions for education with the signing of the gambling compact and acceptance of the stimulus money to “save” the jobs of 20,000 teachers, Crist can legitimately say that his “third way” is the best way for education.

And with that, Charlie will be able to say his “third way” is the best way for Florida – even if it’s the only way for him to win.

Update – Newsweek asks: Should Charlie Crist reconsider an Independent Run?

With veto of ‘leadership funds’ bill — and a veto of SB 6 — a path emerges for Charlie Crist’s independent bid

Charlie Crist can not win the Republican Primary, that much is now clear.  The right wing of Florida’s GOP absolutely despises Charlie Crist.

But Charlie Crist is a loyal Republican.  Forget about him having been a Republican his entire life.  Forget about his mentor being Republican Connie Mack.  Forget all of the “less taxes, more freedom” slogans.  The bottom line is Charlie Crist’s parents are stalwart Republicans.  Mrs. Crist is the embodiement of the classic Republican woman…a modern day Pat Nixon.  She is the kind of thoughtful patrician who wears a proper dress even to go to the neighborhood Publix. And, Charlie’s father, Dr. Crist? To him, I believe, all of this Tea Party fury may be foreign to him, but he’s still a Republican from the noble Eisenhower-Rockefeller school of thought.

So if Charlie Crist is contemplating running for the US Senate as an Independent, he is not worried about losing  the support of anyone within the Florida Republican Party, save, perhaps George LeMieux.  No, for Charlie, this decision to leave the Republican Party, even temporarily, is about two people – his wonderful mother and father.

There’s nothing Shakespearian about this decision.  Charlie would never turn his back on his parents, nor they him.  But what running as an Independent says about Charlie is that he failed.  Failed as a Republican. That all those countless hours pressing the flesh at Lincoln Day Dinners and Reagan Day picnics was a waste of time.  That his path along the cursus honorum of Florida politics has failed.  That if he is to become a US Senator, he has to win with an asterick by his name.

But that is exactly the path Charlie Crist appears to be on.  An Independent bid for the US Senate.  Connect the dots.  He vetoes the ‘leadership funds’ bill and is now threatening to veto Senate Bill 6 (I don’t know why it’s a surprise to anyone that Crist is thinking about vetoing this disastrous bill – his sisters are school teachers).

By vetoing the leadership bill, Crist can now say there is plague on both parties’ houses, thereby positioning himself perfectly to receive the support of the large block of voters disgusted with both Democrats and Republicans.  And by vetoing Senate Bill 6, in addition to delivering millions for education with the signing of the gambling compact and acceptance of the stimulus money to “save” the jobs of 20,000 teachers, Crist can legitimately say that his ‘third way’ is the best way for education.

And with that, Charlie will be able to say his “third way” is the best way for Florida – even if it’s the only way for him to win.

Update – Newsweek asks: Should Charlie Crist reconsider an Independent Run?

Amercian Spectator: Please don’t, Charlie Crist

From American Spectator: Please don’t, Charlie. Please don’t atomize a promising young Republican, who, if he emerges from this primary tested but unscathed, can hold the seat for the party and be a forceful voice for conservative change in Washington.

How did these supplicants do? We won’t know for a few weeks, but the early returns are not encouraging. The Governor’s Lincoln Day speech in Nassau County Friday evening was a classic case of Charlie being Charlie. (Nassau County, I should explain, has few loose ends, politically speaking. The GOP carried the county 72-28 for McCain-Palin in 2008. That was a big Democratic year. The GOP will do better next time. Together with its neighbor to the south, Duval, the two counties take biennial responsibility for overtaking the Democratic majority likely to materialize across the rest of the state.) The Governor, a man of no fixed ideological address, gave the most rightwing speech this reporter has heard in several decades of full political immersion. Crist began steadily enough by paying tribute to his mentor, Connie Mack, and then to his favorite President, Ronald Reagan. Losing control of the vehicle, he then sped through the yellow light and professed his love for Sarah Palin, an attachment previously well disguised. He went on to pronounce himself the biggest tax cutter in history and characterize the philosophical gyroscope guiding his every move as: “less government, more freedom.” He then wrapped his argument to the skeptical jury by noting, with dramatic pause, that his name in its original Greek form means, “disciple of Christ.” To those of us even casually acquainted with his record, Charlie seemed to be claiming to have been born again. Again. Full story here.

Amercian Spectator: Please don’t, Charlie Crist

From American Spectator: Please don’t, Charlie. Please don’t atomize a promising young Republican, who, if he emerges from this primary tested but unscathed, can hold the seat for the party and be a forceful voice for conservative change in Washington.

How did these supplicants do? We won’t know for a few weeks, but the early returns are not encouraging. The Governor’s Lincoln Day speech in Nassau County Friday evening was a classic case of Charlie being Charlie. (Nassau County, I should explain, has few loose ends, politically speaking. The GOP carried the county 72-28 for McCain-Palin in 2008. That was a big Democratic year. The GOP will do better next time. Together with its neighbor to the south, Duval, the two counties take biennial responsibility for overtaking the Democratic majority likely to materialize across the rest of the state.) The Governor, a man of no fixed ideological address, gave the most rightwing speech this reporter has heard in several decades of full political immersion. Crist began steadily enough by paying tribute to his mentor, Connie Mack, and then to his favorite President, Ronald Reagan. Losing control of the vehicle, he then sped through the yellow light and professed his love for Sarah Palin, an attachment previously well disguised. He went on to pronounce himself the biggest tax cutter in history and characterize the philosophical gyroscope guiding his every move as: “less government, more freedom.” He then wrapped his argument to the skeptical jury by noting, with dramatic pause, that his name in its original Greek form means, “disciple of Christ.” To those of us even casually acquainted with his record, Charlie seemed to be claiming to have been born again. Again. Full story here.