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Mitch Perry Report for 7.15.15 — Forget about 2016; 2018 Florida politics is beginning

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The topsy turvy 2016 U.S. Senate election in Florida welcomes a new edition today in the persona of one Carlos-Lopez Cantera, the man plucked by Rick Scott from the Miami-Dade County property appraiser’s office a year and a half ago to help him win re-election next year. Yes, mission accomplished, but what has he done for us lately?

For years, critics have argued that Florida’s lieutenant governor’s position is a waste of money, since there are no assigned duties to the gig, other than to succeed the governor if something calamitous happens. It just happens to be CLC’s bad luck that Democrats have been able to exploit the lack of respect for the position now that he hopes to go to Washington.

But forget about 2016. What about 2018 and the governor’s race?

The Sunshine State News’ Allison Nielsen reports on a political action committee with connections to Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, Florida Grown, which has raised $1.4 million in 2015. The vehicle is seen as a fundraising repository for Putnam’s future ambitions, which everyone assumes is governor in 2018.

It certainly makes sense to start fundraising for the position right now. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, another likely 2018 gubernatorial candidate, created his One Florida PAC last December.

And while some Tampa Bay-area analysts have been contemplating a Putnam-Buckhorn battle, it’s obviously incredibly premature to speculate about such a scenario, especially because of the fact that Buckhorn likely will have strong competition for the Democratic nomination.

Gwen Graham, for one. Although some pundits continue to say that they think she may enter the already pretty crowded U.S. Senate race now that it looks like her congressional seat is going to be evaporated following upcoming redistricting hearings, it makes a lot more sense for her to announce a run for governor in 2018.

And Charlie Crist? While some say he’s going to run of the CD13 congressional seat, there are also persistent rumors that Crist is preparing to run again for the Democratic nomination for governor in 2018.

Maybe that’s one reason why Buckhorn told the Times’ Rick Danielson why he’s all of a sudden so enthusiastic about a Crist congressional run. Just speculating, of course.

In other news..

Is Rick Baker running in CD 13? Charlie Crist? We asked the respective party chairs in Pinellas County what they make of the unsettled political scene, five days after the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling on redistricting.

AIF is the preeminent business lobby in Tallahassee, and they released their legislative scorecard yesterday. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, perhaps not, but Senate Democrats scored close to their GOP brethren.

The New Cuba PAC is the recently created political action committee based in Washington that is fighting to end the economic sanctions against Cuba. The group released a fundraising report yesterday that’s not bad after just two months in business.

Remember “rangers” and “pioneers” pioneered by the George W. Bush campaign in the last millennium? Jeb’s got his own lingo going for those bundlers who will bring home the bacon to his campaign.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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