Dana Young Archives - Page 7 of 26 - SaintPetersBlog

Mitch Perry Report for Friday, 10.28.16 — FLOTUS dissects the Trump strategy

Michelle Obama brought her newly awakened star power to the Hillary Clinton campaign Thursday, giving a speech with the Democratic nominee yesterday in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where she said the Donald Trump campaign modus operandi in the final 10 days of the election was to discourage them from going to the polls.

“Here’s where I want to get real. If Hillary doesn’t win this election, that will be on us,” she said to one of the biggest crowds a Clinton campaign event has held this year. “It will be because we did not stand with her. It will be because we did not vote for her, and that is exactly what her opponent is hoping will happen. That’s the strategy, to make this election so dirty and ugly that we don’t want any part of it.”

She continued, “So when you hear folks talking about a global conspiracy, and saying that this election is rigged, understand that they are trying to get you to stay home. They are trying to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter, that the outcome has already been determined, and you shouldn’t even bother making your voice heard. They are trying to take away your hope. And just for the record, in this country, the United States of America, the voters decide our elections, they’ve always decided. Voters decided who wins and who loses, period, end of story.”

For weeks (if not months), political analysts have said that while he’s got a solid 40 percent or so of the electorate banked, Trump has to add voters to his coalition to win the election, yet has done precious little to bring in those wavering independents suspicious of Clinton but not sure they want to pull the trigger for him.

Then came the report from Bloomberg Thursday that quoted a senior official in the Trump camp that, ‘We have three major voter suppression operations underway. They’re aimed at three groups Clinton needs to win overwhelmingly: idealistic white liberals, young women, and African-Americans.”

This isn’t exactly new information. This is from what the Wall Street Journal reported more than two weeks ago:

“Following the release of a tape-recording of his lewd comments about women and several high-profile Republican defections over the weekend, Mr. Trump has effectively given up the conventional wisdom of trying to reach voters far outside his core of support, one high-level Republican supporter said.”

That Bloomberg article also had a lot more information about how the Trump campaign has built a direct marketing operation that “could power a TV network — or finish off the GOP.”

Translation: Trump, Inc., will still be very much in the political/media world post Nov. 8 — and, who knows, maybe he could still pull off a stunning election victory. He’ll do it his way, however, like he’s done it for the past two years — but it doesn’t look it’s going to work in this general election.

In other news …

The Florida Commission on Ethics dismisses a complaint made against Hillsborough property appraiser candidate Todd Jones.

And Hillsborough County Commission District 6 candidate Tim Schock has resorted to pumping out short videos on his Facebook page, as he attempts to get his message out.

Tim Canova’s progressive political action group is calling on a movement to try to support five separate constitutional amendments on the 2018 Florida ballot.

A tete-a-tete on Syria during Wednesday night’s Senate debate prompted Arizona Democratic Representative and Iraq war veteran Ruben Gallego to call out Marco Rubio.

The major party candidates in the SD 18 race — Dana Young and Bob Buesing — announced some big endorsements.

Everglades Trust endorses Bob Buesing in the SD 18 race

Attorney and Senate District 18 Democratic candidate Bob Buesing boasts on the campaign trail he is a proud signer of the Now Or Neverglades Declaration, so it’s not exactly a surprise he is receiving the endorsement of the Everglades Trust.

Buesing was one of 18 candidates running in local, state, and federal races in Florida next month who received the backing of the Trust Thursday, the first time in their 22-year history the group is making endorsements.

“After years of inaction from political leaders, we decided it’s Now Or Neverglades,” said Everglades Trust Executive Director Kimberly Mitchell. “For the first time, the Trust is publicly endorsing candidates who are willing to put the future of America’s Everglades and the source of drinking water for eight million people ahead of Big Sugar’s political influence and interests.”

To earn the Trust’s endorsement, candidates needed to publicly support the Now Or Neverglades Declaration, including its core premise that “increased storage, treatment and conveyance of water south of Lake Okeechobee is essential to stop the damaging discharges to the coastal estuaries and to restore the flow of clean, fresh water to Everglades National Park, Florida Bay, and the Florida Keys.”

The declaration also includes supporting using Amendment 1 and other funds to identify and secure land south the lake without delay.

“With leadership from Senate President-designate Joe Negron and others, the upcoming legislative session will bring about meaningful change to save Florida’s Everglades and water supply,” said Mitchell. “We believe it is critical that elected officials with political will are recognized and supported in the electoral process, as well as the upcoming legislative session.”

Negron was one of five Republicans who earned backing from the Everglades Trust. In addition, the foundation is backing nine Democrats (including Patrick Murphy for Senate) and four non-party-affiliated candidates (including three who are running for the Palm Beach County Soil and Water Conservation District.

Negron announced in August he was putting forth a plan to buy 60,000 acres of sugar land south of Lake Okeechobee to build a reservoir to hold 120 billion gallons of lake water — providing a relief valve for what’s discharged east to the St. Lucie River and west to the Caloosahatchee River. It would cost $2.4 billion in all for purchase of the land and construction. Proceeds would come from Amendment 1, the 2014 constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2014.

The initiative required that 33 percent of the proceeds from an existing real-estate tax, known as documentary stamps, go for land and water maintenance and acquisition across Florida. A coalition of environmentalists went to court last year against the Legislature, contending more than $200 million had been diverted from conservation purposes to agency staffing and operational expenses.

A judge in Leon County removed part of a lawsuit last December.

Buesing is running against Republican Dana Young in the SD 18 race next month. Independents Joe Redner and Sheldon Upthegrove are also on the ballot.

Here’s the entire list of the endorsed candidates.

For United States Senate

  • Patrick Murphy (D) — on the ballot in all Florida counties

For United States Congress

  • Brian Mast (R) District 18 — on the ballot in St. Lucie, Martin, and parts of Palm Beach County

For Florida State Senate

  • Joe Negron (R) District 25 — on the ballot in parts of St. Lucie, Martin and Palm Beach counties

  • Bob Buesing (D) District 18 — on the ballot in parts of Hillsborough County

  • Anitere Flores (R) District 39 —on the ballot in Monroe and parts of Miami-Dade counties

  • Linda Stewart (D) District 13 — on the ballot in parts of Orange County

  • Dean Asher (R) District 13 — on the ballot in parts of Orange County

For Florida House of Representatives

  • Thad Altman (R) District 52 — on the ballot in parts of Brevard County

  • Ivette Gonzalez Petkovich (D) District 103 — on the ballot in parts of Miami-Dade and Broward

  • Ken Keechl (D) District 93 — on the ballot in parts of Broward County

  • Robert Simeone (D) District 85 — on the ballot in parts of Palm Beach County

  • Carlos Guillermo Smith (D) District 49 — on the ballot in parts of Orange County

  • John Scott (D) District 79 — on the ballot in parts of Lee County

  • Charles Messina (NPA) District 76 — on the ballot in parts of Lee County

For Palm Beach County Commission

  • Dave Kerner (D) — Palm Beach County Commission Dist. 3

For Palm Beach County Soil and Water Conservation District

  • Daniel Sohn (Group 2) — on the ballot throughout Palm Beach County

  • Patricia Edmonson (Group 3) — on the ballot throughout Palm Beach County

  • Rob Long (Group 4) — on the ballot throughout Palm Beach County

Law enforcement agencies come out en masse to support Dana Young in SD 18 race

The Dana Young campaign for Hillsborough County’s state Senate District 18 seat is touting endorsements from law enforcement agencies Thursday.

 The National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO), the Florida Police Benevolent Association (Florida PBA), the West Central Florida Police Benevolent Association (West Central Florida PBA), and the Tampa Police Benevolent Association (Tampa PBA) all are backing the South Tampa Republican.

“Rep. Young has been a tireless advocate of law enforcement in the Florida House,” said Matt Puckett, executive director of the Florida PBA. “Whether at the Capitol or in her everyday life, Rep. Young has supported issues and policies that are important to us and our mission, and we are honored to endorse the best candidate in this race.”

“We will ask our members, their families and friends and all citizens in the district who respect the strong and efficient enforcement of our laws, to cast their ballots in support of Dana Young for State Senate, District 18,” added Nick Marolda, president of the West Central Florida PBA and Vincent Gericitano, president of the Tampa PBA.

“I could not be more proud to have received the endorsements and support of the NAPO, and our state, regional and local PBAs,” said Young. “Our law enforcement puts their lives at risk each and every day serving our communities and protecting us from danger. I have always stood behind our men and women in blue and will continue to do so if given the honor of serving my Tampa Bay community in the Florida Senate.”

Young is engaged in a four-way race for the newly created Senate seat, which encompasses South Tampa and much of western unincorporated Hillsborough County. It’s been a strongly contested battle, with Young being opposed by first-time Democratic candidate Bob Buesing, adult club entrepreneur and activist Joe Redner, and Air Force reservist Sheldon Upthegrove.

A news survey from St. Pete Polls, conducted for FloridaPolitics.com on Wednesday, showed nearly 39 percent of likely voters were backing Young, compared to 34 percent backing Buesing. Redner received 15 percent support. More than 9 percent of respondents said they were still undecided, while 3 percent said they were backing Upthegrove.

Endorsement watch: National Right to Life, Sierra Club, Florida Retail Federation and others issue endorsements

With just a few weeks until the election, organizations across the state are rolling out endorsements for state and federal candidates.

Neal Dunn has earned the support of the National Right to Life.

The organization endorsed Dunn, a medical doctor, in his campaign for Florida’s 2nd Congressional District.

“This endorsement reflects your commitment to strengthening a culture of life throughout the nation and in the U.S. Congress,” said David N. O’Steen, executive director, and Karen A. Cross, political director of National Right to Life, in their endorsement letter. “We look forward to working with you to protect the most vulnerable members of the human family — unborn children and medically dependent or disabled persons, whose lives are threatened by abortion or euthanasia. All voters who are concerned with the right to life … should vote to send you to Congress, so that you can work to advance vital pro-life public policies.”

Dunn faces Democrat Walter Dartland in the Nov. 8 general election.

Brian Mast has received the backing of the National Federation of Independent Business.

The organization endorsed Mast in his campaign for Florida’s 18th Congressional District.

“Brian Mast is committed to being a strong voice for Florida small business owners,” said Sharon Sussin, the national political director for NFIB, in a statement. “He knows that taxes, regulations, and the expense of health care are holding back small business. NFIB members want to see him in the U.S. House next year once again serving his country.”

Mast also received he backing of the Yes! Israel Project.

“We need leaders in Washington who support and defend Israel, and we are confident that Brian Mast will be that leader,” the group said in its endorsement. “The Yes! Israel Project thanks him for his exemplary service to his country. We look forward to hosting him in Israel, as a U.S. Congressman, very soon!”

Mast faces Democrat Randy Perkins in the Nov. 8 general election.

Randy Perkins has received the backing of Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay.

McKinlay endorsed Perkins in his campaign for Florida’s 18th Congressional District.

“Too much is at stake this election cycle, especially for women’s issues,” she said in a statement. “In the 18th Congressional seat, Randy Perkins will fight for a woman’s right to choose and equal pay for equal work for women. As a single mother raising three children, including two daughters, we must support the candidate that will protect their future, their healthcare, and their choice. Therefore, my choice for the 18th Congressional District is Randy Perkins.”

Perkins faces Republican Brian Mast in the Nov. 8 general election.

Bob Buesing has received the backing of the Sierra Club Florida.

The Sierra Club endorsed Buesing in his Senate District 18 bid. In a letter announcing their endorsement, the Sierra Club Florida said Buesing earned their support through his “demonstrated commitment to protecting Florida and America’s environment.”

“Protecting Florida’s drinking water from big polluters is essential to ensuring a healthy future for our state, both environmentally and economically,” said Buesing in a statement. “I’ll work hard once elected to ensure we ban environmentally dangerous practices like fracking and any expanded drilling that could potentially endanger the health and well-being of our communities.”

Buesing faces Majority Leader Dana Young in the Nov. 8 general election.

Joe Gruters has earned the backing of the National Federation of Independent Business.

The organization endorsed Gruters in his House District 73 bid. The endorsement was made by NFIB/Florida SAFE (Save America’s Free Enterprise) Trust, which is comprised exclusively of NFIB members.

“Joe is a true believer in free enterprise, and will support policies that help small business owners grow and prosper,” said Bill Herrle, the executive director of NFIB/Florida.

Gruters faces Democrat Steve Vernon in the Nov. 8 general election.

Rosy Palomino has received the backing of the Florida Retail Federation.

The statewide trade organization endorsed the Miami Republican in her House District 112 bid.

“Rosy is small retail business owner, a community leader and someone who truly understands the struggles faced by Florida businesses,” said Randy Miller, the president and CEO of the Florida Retail Federation. “Her goals of reducing taxes and regulations that hinder small business growth are exactly what we need as the House Representative in District 112.”

Palomino faces Democrat Nicholas X. Duran in the Nov. 8 general election.

Latest poll shows Dana Young maintaining lead in SD 18

With two weeks until Election Day, Majority Leader Dana Young continues to lead Democrat Bob Buesing in Senate District 18.

A new poll by St. Pete Polls, conducted for FloridaPolitics.com, showed nearly 39 percent of likely voters were backing Young, compared to 34 percent backing Buesing. Joe Redner, an independent candidate, received 15 percent support. More than 9 percent of respondents said they were still undecided, while 3 percent said they were backing Sheldon Upthegrove.

The automated poll of 950 Florida likely voters was conducted on Oct. 25. It has a margin of error of 3.2 percent.

The poll showed 32 percent of independent voters and 59 percent of Republican voters were backing Young. She also received support from about 22 percent of Democrats.

Buesing received the backing of 49 percent of Democrats and 37 percent of independent voters. The poll found 17 percent of Republicans backed Buesing.

The new poll is in line with a similar one conducted by St. Pete Polls earlier this month. That poll, conducted Oct. 11, found 38 percent of voters in the district were backing Young, compared to 32 percent backing Buesing. Redner received 16 percent support in the Oct. 11 poll.

The Senate District 18 race is one of a handful of closely watched races this election cycle, and could be considered a swing district.

In 2010, 44 percent of registered voters were Republicans and 39 percent of registered voters were Democrats. Two years later, records show 39 percent of registered voters were Democrats, while 38 percent were registered Republicans. The share of independent voters in the district increased to about 23 percent in 2014, from about 16 percent in 2012.

Realtors backs David Singer in HD 60 race

The Greater Tampa Realtors unveiled their list of endorsements in the upcoming election on Tuesday, and one of their most provocative selections is choosing Democrat David Singer over Republican Jackie Toledo in the House District 60 campaign.

The Realtors made 20 selections in all: 10 Republicans, six Democrats, and four candidates running in nonpartisan races.

All of the Democrats, except one, the Realtors are backing are incumbents or, in some cases, running in open seats where they are heavily favored: CD 14 Rep. Kathy Castor, SD 19 Senate candidate Darryl Rouson, Hillsborough Clerk of the Court Pat Frank, Property Appraiser Bob Henriquez, and HD 70 Representative candidate Wengay Newton.

The exception is Singer, the Tampa land-use attorney who is an extremely competitive battle against engineer Jackie Toledo for the Hillsborough County House District 60 race. Toledo narrowly defeated businesswoman Rebecca Smith in the GOP primary back in August.

In a press release, the Realtors say the candidates endorsed have been selected based on their position on issues, “particularly those affecting real estate and private property rights.”

The full list of endorsed candidates is listed below:

  • Marco Rubio, U.S. Senator
  • Gus Bilirakis, U.S. Representative, District 12
  • Kathy Castor, U.S. Representative, District 14
  • Dennis Ross, U.S. Representative, District 15
  • Vern Buchanan, U.S. Representative, District 16
  • Dana Young, Florida Senate, District 18
  • Darryl Rouson, Florida Senate, District 19
  • Daniel Raulerson, State Representative, District 58
  • Ross Spano, State Representative, District 59
  • David Singer, State Representative, District 60
  • Shawn Harrison, State Representative, District 63
  • Wengay “Newt” Newton, State Representative, District 70
  • Mark Ober, State Attorney, Circuit 13
  • Pat Frank, Hillsborough County Clerk of Circuit Court
  • Bob Henriquez, Hillsborough County Property Appraiser
  • Sandra Murman, Hillsborough County Commissioner, District 1
  • Melissa Polo, Circuit Judge, 13th Judicial Circuit Group 24
  • Joe Jordon-Robinson, Hillsborough County School Board, District 5
  • Lynn Gray, Hillsborough County School Board, District 7
  • Frank Chillura, Temple Terrace City Council

Hillsborough PTC head Kyle Cockream calls possible investigation into his conduct ‘a witch-hunt’

Despite the aims of Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission Chairman Victor Crist and county attorneys, Kyle Cockream is still the agency’s executive director, following a raucous board meeting Tuesday. The agency ultimately voted 3-2 to make a request for proposal to potentially hire a law firm at their next meeting next month to conduct an investigation into recent revelations about Cockream’s performance as the head of the agency.

Crist called last week for an emergency meeting of the PTC to discuss Cockream’s fate, following a series of media reports that showed he had used off-duty taxicab drivers in PTC ridesharing stings and made unauthorized trips to speak to the Palm Beach County Commission with officials of the cab and limo industry, among other revelations.

“Our agency’s integrity has been compromised from the top down,” Crist said at the beginning of the meeting. “The public have lost trust in our agency.” He then said that the best way to move forward would be an independent investigation the 12,000 emails that were recently released and have been the source for multiple news agencies (including SaintPetersBlog) depicting Cockream in a negative light.  He said it was “imperative that these allegations be addressed on an urgent basis.”

Crist said once the emails were made public several weeks ago, he asked PTC attorneys to pull out those they believed were “problematic.” The results, he said, “were shocking.”

When it was time for him to speak, Cockream let loose, describing the proceedings as “a circus” and a “witch-hunt.” He said he knew it was a witch-hunt because Crist told him two weeks ago that it “wouldn’t be a witch-hunt.”

“Mr. Crist and I have an extreme different version of some incidents that have happened,” he said.

Media reports have shown Cockream working with members of the taxicab and limousine industry he is charged with overseeing. Not only does he disagree with that perception, but so do the members of those industries, several of whom are featured in the emails. Many of those officials spoke out in support of him at todays’ meeting, while criticizing Crist.

Chief Assistant County Attorney Jennie Tarr came before the PTC and recommended five different law firms that could investigate the charges, offering different rates the respective firms or individuals attorneys would charge. She also mentioned the board could choose to terminate Cockream at the meeting, or allow him to resign.

And that’s where things got interesting.

“It seems like there’s a sense of a personal assault on the executive director’s character and integrity here today,” said Tampa City Councilman Frank Reddick. “I hope the gentleman will have a chance to defend himself, because this is a sham what is taking place this morning. It’s been a sham of the stuff I read in the press.”

Reddick then questioned whether Tarr had any discussions with Crist before the meeting. She said she had one conversation after being asked by the county attorney to attend the meeting, but did not talk about any of the legal firms or other specific issues that had already been discussed.

Temple Terrace Councilmember David Pogorilich also strongly backed Cockream, saying that if he had come to him with his plans for using taxicab and limousine personnel to help with a sting operation, he was all for it. “Uber and Lyft are the ones who are breaking the rules. Uber and Lyft are the ones who are snubbing us. Uber and Lyft are the ones who are being noncooperative,” he said, referring to the fact that both ridesharing companies are considered by the PTC to be operating illegally (A proposed plan regarding background checks and other issues that has been endorsed by Uber will come before the PTC at their next scheduled meeting in November).

“Nothing has been done wrong here,” Pogorilich, comparing Uber and Lyft to Bonnie and Clyde. “But at the end of the day, they were just bank robbers.”

But Crist pushed back, saying that if the PTC didn’t do an investigation, “this agency will be guaranteed to be shut down by the Legislature during session. Guaranteed.”

Crist announced last month he would resign as chairman of the PTC in November. Reddick said good riddance, essentially: “It’s you who has taken this personally. I guarantee you, with you not sitting in that chair, it will be a better agency moving forward.”

“Probably a better agency for the cab companies, but not for the people we serve,” responded Crist.

Cockream defended himself from allegations he is working illicitly with the cab or limousine industries, saying that he has to honor public record requests, regardless of who is making such a request. “I can’t discriminate and not give up that information because it’s a cab company, or a limo company, or an ambulance company. I must relinquish that information.”

Ultimately, only Commissioner Ken Hagan joined with Crist in supporting a vote to immediately select a law firm, instead voting 3-2 to support Pogorilich’s motion to call for an RFP to look at hiring such firms next month. “The executive director should enforce the laws. However, knowing the agency’s history, the sensitivity with the ridesharing issue, and the public perception of the agency, the executive director should have the utmost prudence and discretion,” Hagan said. “I do not believe that happened here (board members Al Higginbotham and Nate Kilton were not present).

But the meeting wasn’t done. Crist went ahead and began discussing with Tarr the idea of putting Cockream on paid leave. That left the discussion about whether the board would need an interim director.

When Tarr mentioned she had already reached out to former interim PTC head David Jackson as a possibility, shouts of “conspiracy” were made by Reddick, who erupted, calling it “professionally unethical.”

Pogorilich said it was “orchestrated,” and again challenged Tarr about how many conversations, emails, or other messages she sent to Crist. Again, she said there had been only one previous conversation.

Board member Guido Maniscalco voted with Pogorilich and Reddick in opposing an immediate investigation or putting Cockream on paid leave. He said nothing during the meeting except when he was temporary chair. Afterwards, he said he voted the way he did because he thought the entire board should weigh in at one time.

The recent revelations prompted the agency’s numerous critics to pounce, and Tampa House District 60 Republican (and state Senate candidate) Dana Young has called for the FDLE to investigate the agency.

The PTC’s next meeting is Nov. 9.


Here’s where sh*t stands in Tampa Bay’s legislative races

With two weeks to go until Election Day, the Tampa Bay area’s Senate seats are pretty much decided. Welcome back Sens. Jack Latvala and Tom Lee and say hello to Darryl Rouson, who should cruise past John “Mr. Manners” Houman to win the SD 19 seat.

Tampa Republican Rep. Dana Young still has a race ahead of her for the SD 18 seat, however.

Young is running against Democrat Bob Buesing and a pair of high-polling, no-party candidates for the Hillsborough County seat, and has maintained a major fundraising advantage throughout the contest.

As of Oct. 14, the veteran lawmaker had more than $585,000 on hand in her campaign account and another $1 million in her political committee, “Friends of Dana Young.”

Buesing picked up $20,000 from Oct. 8 through Oct. 14, though he only has about $40,000 in the bank, while NPA candidates Joe Redner and Sheldon Upthegrove hovered near the $0 mark.

Young’s only threat in this race is the district’s leanings — it voted narrowly for President Barack Obama four years ago.

In the House, Republican Reps. Jake Raburn, Janet Cruz, and Jamie Grant have secured victory, and Sean Shaw is already on the list for the freshman class. Also expect to see Chris Latvala, Chris Sprowls, and Larry Ahern hang on to their seats with little fanfare.

Many incumbents are still in election mode, though.

Republican Rep. Shawn Harrison is facing Democrat Lisa Montelione in the HD 63 race, which could be tough for Harrison despite his solid fundraising advantage, given the district’s history of flipping parties every two years.

After adding $22,500 in contributions during the last reporting period, Harrison had about $60,000 in the bank compared to $23,000 for Montelione, who added $24,000 between Oct. 8 and Oct. 14.

In HD 69, incumbent Republican Rep. Kathleen Peters is facing a moderate challenge from Democrat Jennifer Webb, who has raised a total of $131,000 so far.

Peters is still far in the lead in fundraising with nearly $350,000 raised and about $135,000 on hand compared to about $6,000 for Webb. The vote could be tight in the Pinellas County district, though.

Back in 2012, Peters won the seat by four points against Democrat Josh Shulman, while that margin exploded to 16 points in the midterm contest against Scott Orsini.

Republican Rep. Ross Spano is also faces a well-funded opponent for the HD 59 seat, but like most other bay area Republicans, he’s managed to keep the lead in the money race.

Spano added $22,500 in contributions during the reporting period for a total of $318,000 raised, with $126,000 of that money on hand. Democratic attorney Rena Frasier added just $5,565 for the week and spent more than $50,000 on campaign communications, leaving her with about $65,000 in the bank.

Republicans hold a slight edge in HD 59, which came through for Spano four years ago when he won a nail-biter against Democrat Gail Gottlieb by about one point.

In HD 68, Democrat Ben Diamond has a slight cash-on-hand lead over Republican Joseph Bensmihen in the race to take over for exiting Democrat Dwight Dudley. Diamond’s total fundraising of $350,000 is nearly 10-fold higher than the competition and this seat is likely his for the taking.

The HD 60 race is playing out similarly, with Republican Jackie Toledo bringing in $29,250 during the reporting period for an on-hand total of about $69,000. Her competition, Democrat David Singer, added $11,360 for the week and has about $33,000 in the bank.

HD 60 has the potential to be somewhat competitive, though the district tends to break towards Republicans as evidenced by current HD 60 Rep. Dana Young’s easy elections to the coastal Tampa seat.

5 things I think I think about today’s Tampa Bay Times

Back before there was a FloridaPolitics.com and it was just me blogging at SaintPetersBlog.com, I would write a semi-regular screed about the Tampa Bay Times’ political coverage. This was so long ago, the Times still had St. Petersburg in its masthead.

I gave up the “5 things I think I think…” column after a while because it got repetitive. (And because so many of my favorite writers — Howard Troxler, Eric Deggans, Michael Kruse —  left the newspaper). However, with 15 days left before the election, it’s as good a time as any to check in on what the Times has to offer.

Unfortunately, it’s not much. At least as far as the print product is concerned. There’s some good and interesting stuff about national and state politics, but when it comes to the local scene, the pickings are slim.

There are only two Sundays left before Election Day and there isn’t a story in the newspaper about the high-profile congressional race in the region (Republican David Jolly vs. Democrat Charlie Crist) or the high-profile state Senate race in the region (Republican Dana Young vs. Democrat Bob Buesing and independent Joe Redner). Nothing on any of the state House races, although most of them are snoozers. Nothing on the county commission race between Republican Mike Mikurak and Democrat Charlie Justice.

Like I said, not much.

No wonder Adam Smith has to write about how “the dreaded campaign yard sign appears to be less in demand this season.”

Really, that’s the best the political editor of the state’s largest newspaper has to offer two weeks out from an election? Other than quotes from good guys Brian Burgess and Nick Hansen, this story is even sillier than you might think. It’s as if because Smith doesn’t see any yard signs in his tony Old Northeast neighborhood, there are no yard signs anywhere!

Smith blames The Case of the Missing Yard Signs on “most voters disliking the major presidential nominees too much to want to boast about their choice.” But since when were presidential campaigns even known for having a strong yard sign program? It’s the local campaigns, with their tighter budgets, which rely more on yard signs. And in Smith’s St. Petersburg neighborhood there aren’t as many competitive down-ballot races as there have been in recent election cycles.

Where Smith lives, there aren’t bruising races for state Senate, state House, county commission, or school board as there were in 2012 and 2014. So maybe Smith’s headline should have been “Adored by candidates, the dreaded campaign yard sign appears to be less in demand IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD.”

Ah, the good ol’ days of making fun of Adam Smith‘s work. It’s 2013 all over again. No wonder yellow-bellied Adam won’t participate in a post-election panel with me at the Tampa Tiger Bay club.

Actually, Smith has a must-read piece fronting the newspaper about Hillary Clinton’s connections to the Sunshine State and his “Winner and Loser of the Week in Florida politics” (consultant Rick Wilson is the winner; Broward elections supervisor Brenda Snipes is the loser) is spot on.

Other thoughts about today’s newspaper:

Months after both Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio were dispatched from the presidential election by Donald Trump, their names still sit atop the Times’ website when you click on the 2016 CAMPAIGN under the POLITICS link.


I agree with half of what John Romano tries to say about how “Rick Scott might have held the key to an outsider’s successful bid to the White House” because the columnist echoes some of what I’ve recently written about Scott; namely that Scott is under-appreciated as a political force. But where Romano and I diverge is with his thesis that Trump should have relied on the same message-driven playbook that worked for Scott in 2010. To suggest this ignores The Donald aspect of Donald Trump, which is what has propelled him to where he is today.

With Trump, there’s no way to separate the messenger from the message. This can be accomplished with Scott because he was a blank slate before he arrived on the political scene. Trump was already a brand.

Still, Romano’s column is worth the read.

 The Times’ final mission for the 2016 election cycle is to take down the utility industry-backed Amendment 1. The newspaper, of course, will write about Clinton vs. Trump and Marco Rubio’s re-election campaign, but it can’t influence those races. It can be a factor in whether Amendment 1 passes, so look for it to flood the zone — as it does today with not one, not two, but three Amendment 1 related punches, including this editorial.

Such good questions prompted by Charlie Frago’s reporting of how the City of St. Petersburg “experienced the equivalent of an air-raid siren warning about its impending sewage crisis.” Unfortunately, no one at City Hall is talking.

“I have no recollection of that event,” says Bill Foster, the mayor at the time. … Council members who served at that time also had never heard of it.

Former public works administrator Mike Connors, who was there when the Albert Whitted plant was closed in 2015, has retired. Water resources director Steve Leavitt and engineering director Tom Gibson were placed on unpaid leave while the city investigates what happened to the 2014 report, which was brought to light by a whistleblower.

Gibson and Connors declined to comment. Leavitt could not be reached for comment.

Even if any of these people did comment, it would not answer this question: who tipped off Frago to the 10.5 million-gallon discharge in 2013?

Pay attention to Susan Taylor Martin’s reporting about the 400 block of Central Avenue and whether it should be redeveloped into a residential property or into commercial space. Ten years from now, the 400 block could be the most important piece of non-waterfront property in the city, but only if the right decisions about its future are made now.

This was fun, critiquing the Times’ political coverage. Maybe it’s time to relaunch this series …

SD 18 candidates make the case for themselves and against Dana Young in Tiger Bay debate

Although Dana Young was a no-show at a Tampa Tiger Bay Club meeting on Friday, her presence was definitely felt as she was the target of several attacks by her three opponents in the state Senate District 18 race.

Saying it was the sixth candidate forum where she has failed to appear, Democrat Bob Buesing said she was intentionally avoiding answering the voters’ questions about her “extreme record,” because “it’s not a match for our community.”

Young did not attend Friday’s forum because she was attending the funeral of Louise Lykes Ferguson, which took place at 11 a.m., followed by a noon reception, the exact same time the Tiger Bay forum was commencing. Tiger Bay had originally scheduled the debate in September, but Young was unable to attend that forum.

The Young campaign reacted later on Friday.

“It is incredibly insulting that Mr. Buesing and Mr. Redner continue to criticize Rep. Young for attending the funeral of a local civic icon rather than this lunch event,” said Young campaign manager Chris Spencer. “The assertion that Rep. Young is avoiding discussion with her opponents is false. She has agreed to participate in a candidate forum Nov. 2 at the University of Tampa.”

On the issues, Buesing said Young “chose to lie” regarding her vote on a fracking bill that came before the Florida House this past session. Young has said that she opposes fracking and supported the bill because it was the first step toward a permanent ban on the controversial practice, which involves drilling down into the earth before a high-pressure water mixture is directed at the rock to release the gas inside.

“She got caught by Politifact for trying to mislead the voters,” Buesing said. “And now she’s trying to smear my stellar reputation with a million dollars worth of TV ads full of ridiculous falsehoods. I wish she had instead used that money for low income kids to learn how to swim, or learn how to read in after-school programs.”

Buesing’s attorney contacted local broadcast and cable news stations this week, calling on them to pull an ad produced by the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee that claims the Tampa attorney had foreclosed on retirement homes which threatened “senior citizens with homelessness,” and defended Wells Fargo Bank in a Ponzi scheme case. A previous ad produced by the FRSCC said Buesing had profited from government waste and abuse in association with the infamous “Taj Mahal” courthouse project in Tallahassee.

Buesing has worked for 39 years at the Tampa law firm of Trenam Kemker, which was involved in the cases referenced in the ads. His attorney says it is “false, misleading, and deceptive.”

“With regards to commercials detailing Mr. Buesing’s shady business background, it would appear this is just another example where the truth is hard for Mr. Buesing to accept, just as he refuses to accept the fact that Rep. Young categorically opposes fracking in Florida,” Spencer said.

In addition to the two major party candidates, adult club impresario Joe Redner and Sheldon Upthegrove, a staff sergeant who works at U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base, are also on the ballot.

Redner blasted Young for her voting on the fracking bill.

“She’s a liar,” he said with venom in his voice. “It’s what she does.” And he came to Buesing’s defense when it came to the ads produced by the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee. “Nothing but lies and misinformation,” he stated (Redner alerted the media earlier on Friday to four billboards he had paid to advertise on in the district where he called out Young for ducking the debates).

Buesing said he and Young are on the same page when it comes to their disdain for the beleaguered Hillsborough County Public Transportation Commission. Recent revelations that PTC executive director Kyle Cockream was working with officials from the taxicab and limousine industry to bust Uber and Lyft drivers in a sting operation compelled Young earlier this week to call on the FDLE to investigate the agency. Buesing wasn’t ready to completely dismiss the agency, however, saying that it was crucial that ridesharing be part of the transportation mix in the county, and “if I have if I have to eliminate the PTC to get there, I’ll do it.”

Upthegrove said he was surprised by Buesing’s opinion, saying, “the Democrats usually side with the unions.”

When it came to the issue of money in politics, Buesing said it was “out of control.”

Redner said this could be the year an independent could break through, and boasted he could do what the citizenry wanted because, “nobody can tell me what to do,” adding, that “nobody has ever told me what to do.”

Upthegrove said he receives three to four mailers for and against both Buesing and Young nearly every day.

“It all comes down to money,” he said of how campaigns are run (Upthegrove has raised only $2,500 in the campaign, by far the lowest of the four candidates). “It all comes down to the way that the laws are written right now are in favor of these PACS being able to funnel almost $3 million into a campaign.” He said that laws needed to be rewritten to find ways to even the playing field.

While Florida could have a record turnout at the polls when this election is all said and done on Nov. 8, 1.6 million citizens of voting age are locked out of the polls, due to the fact that — unlike almost every other state —ex-felons don’t get their right to vote automatically restored when they have completed their sentence.

While Redner and Buesing supported the automatic restoration, Upthegrove was less enthusiastic about that possibility, saying, “I do not agree that we should [restore] all rights carte blanche.” (The petition being circulated to get on the 2018 ballot would not apply to those convicted of murder or sexual offenses).

All four of the candidates say they support Amendment 2, the medical marijuana initiative on the ballot. The 76-year-old Redner survived stage-four lung cancer a few years back, and said medical marijuana was crucial in alleviating the pain he was going through while taking chemotherapy.

“You get in your chair and you feel like you can’t stand your skin, and you eat some of that blessed marijuana and you relax into your chair and you can do things. Exercise. Ate good,” he said. Redner also added that the powers of pot allowed him to stop doing other drugs and alcohol that he used with regularity back in the 1980s.

“I smoked. I drank. I did all those things and I wanted to quit so bad,” he recounted, saying that smoking marijuana compelled him to “quit it all. Everything in one fell swoop. I quit all debilitating drugs with marijuana!” He said it was obscene that sick people were denied the herbal substance.

A survey conducted last week by St. Pete Polls showed Young leading Buesing in the race, 38 percent to 32 percent, with Redner getting 16 percent, and Upthegrove at 3 percent.

There are some Democrats concerned that Redner’s popularity and name recognition will hurt Buesing and pave the way for Young. In his concluding remarks, Redner said, “there’s nothing wrong with Bob. But he’s no Joe Redner,” as the audience laughed.

Buesing countered that, saying, “There’s only one candidate up here who can beat Dana Young: that’s me,” he said, adding, “Being a solo act in the state Senate isn’t going to do us any good. You’ve got to work within a system to be successful,” a shot at the independent-minded Redner.

Voting by mail for the SD 18 seat is currently underway. Early voting in Hillsborough County begins on Monday.

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