2018 governor’s race

John Morgan: “If I was Bill Nelson, I’d be worried”

IMG_0124Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan held court with reporters moments before a hearing in a lawsuit he initiated kicked off Wednesday morning.

Morgan is a political rainmaker who largely bankrolled the constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana in Florida and was overwhelmingly approved by voters nearly two years ago.

Morgan, who had toyed with the notion of running for governor, spoke about his decision to stay out of the governor’s race.

“I’ll tell you. To run for governor, you’ve got to be done making money. And I’m not done making money. Or you have to be a professional politician. And I’m not a professional politician,” he said.

Morgan said he spoke yesterday with Philip Levine, the former Miami Beach Miami who is a contender in the Democratic primary for governor.

“I told him he’s lucky I’m not in ‘cause I would win in a landslide,” Morgan said, adding that he didn’t know which Democrat would capture the nomination.

“All I know is I’ve never known any governor that’s ever done anything for any of us. Ever. So it’s not a job that I really think I’d be good at every day. I’m better at this,” he said, standing outside the courtroom.

Morgan also said he supported House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s decision to stay on the sidelines in the governor’s race.

Morgan said Corcoran visited him a few weeks ago.

“I said, look, here’s the deal. It’s all about money. And if you don’t got the money, you can’t run. I said at the end of the day, questions answer themselves. And I think the question was answered for Richard Corcoran when the money froze up,” Morgan said.

While Corcoran is a friend and someone he would have helped, Morgan said the Land O’ Lakes Republican made the right choice.

“I think he made the right decision because I think he would have gotten beat and I think he knew he was going to get beat. And if I’m going to get beat, I don’t like to go to my own ass-kicking,” Morgan said.

Morgan also had what appeared to be a dim view of incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson’s odds against challenger Rick Scott, who’s finishing his last year as governor.

“I think Sen Nelson is in for a dog fight. I think he’s got to get busy. You cannot underestimate this Rick Scott. He is a methodical, Eveready bunny, a bald-headed Eveready bunny who just never stops. He’s focused, and he’s got the money, and he’s got the message, and if I was Bill Nelson, I’d be worried,” he said.

 

Graham grabs endorsement of progressive ‘trailblazer’ Tammy Duckworth

30789731_6102639375688_7819687006950129664_nWe don’t usually highlight endorsements, but this one caught our attention because, after all, the male-dominated U.S. Senate changed its rules to allow U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth to bring her new baby, Maile, onto the Senate floor. (She got her a jacket so the newborn could conform with Senate protocol.)

baby clothes

Plus Duckworth, a wounded war veteran and Purple Heart recipient, is a rock star among progressive Democrats, so her endorsement of former Congresswoman Gwen Graham, for what it’s worth, could be considered a coup in a heated Democratic gubernatorial primary. Especially if the Illinois senator campaigns for Graham in Florida.

Graham’s announcement of the endorsement carries on with an all-about-Trump theme (remember her first digital ad?), with both women bashing the president.

“No one is better equipped to defend Florida against Donald Trump and his harmful policies than Gwen Graham,” Duckworth said in the press release. “She will take on Trump to defend the Affordable Care Act and expand healthcare for Florida families. Gwen will protect Florida’s waters from Trump’s dangerous oil drilling plans. And she will put people — not special interests — first by passing an increased minimum wage.”

Graham, who last year nailed the endorsement of  New York U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and who served with Duckworth during Graham’s brief stint in Congress, called the Illinois senator “one of the toughest women I know” who “sets an incredible example for all Americans.”

“As governor, I will fight with her to take on Donald Trump and fight to expand healthcare, protect our environment, and defend Floridians from his bullyish attacks,” Graham said in the release.

The endorsement of the lefty Duckworth could give Graham — who’s been criticized by progressives for being too conservative — a nudge in a heated primary. Both Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who has has captured support from some progressives, and Orlando entrepreneur Chris King, bashed Graham for her congressional voting record during last week’s debate, which is certain to be an issue throughout the coming months in the match-up — also featuring former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine — to replace outgoing Gov. Rick Scott.

That’s probably why this morning’s announcement includes Duckworth bragging on Graham’s tenure in the House.

“Serving together in Congress, I saw Gwen fight for our shared progressive values. When Republicans tried to repeal Obamacare, Gwen voted to save it. She defended a woman’s right to choose and sponsored legislation to improve healthcare for mothers and babies. And after the devastating shooting at Pulse, Gwen took on Paul Ryan to demand a vote on common sense gun safety legislation,” she says in the release.

Here’s the full announcement:

On the heels of releasing her first digital ad slamming President Donald Trump, Gwen Graham is announcing support from U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth, a progressive trailblazer leading the charge against Trump in Congress.

“No one is better equipped to defend Florida against Donald Trump and his harmful policies than Gwen Graham,” Duckworth said. “She will take on Trump to defend the Affordable Care Act and expand healthcare for Florida families. Gwen will protect Florida’s waters from Trump’s dangerous oil drilling plans. And she will put people — not special interests — first by passing an increased minimum wage.”

“Serving together in Congress, I saw Gwen fight for our shared progressive values. When Republicans tried to repeal Obamacare, Gwen voted to save it. She defended a woman’s right to choose and sponsored legislation to improve healthcare for mothers and babies. And after the devastating shooting at Pulse, Gwen took on Paul Ryan to demand a vote on common sense gun safety legislation”

Duckworth, a Purple Heart recipient, and Graham served together in Congress. Together, they fought for progressive values, to defend women and to support our country’s veterans.

“Senator Duckworth is one of the toughest women I know. She sets an incredible example for all Americans, and I am honored to have her endorsement,” Graham said. “As governor, I will fight with her to take on Donald Trump and fight to expand healthcare, protect our environment, and defend Floridians from his bullyish attacks.”

Adam “Florida First” Putnam launches first campaign ad

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is releasing his first ad as the GOP primary battle to replace Gov. Rick Scott heats up.

The one-minute ad — an expensive buy, compared to the typical 30-second spot — started airing this week, according to a press release from Putnam’s campaign.

“For me, it’s always been Florida first,” Putnam, a fifth-generation Floridian whose family made a fortune in the cattle and citrus industry.

The week-long buy — on broadcast, cable and satellite — totaled about $630,000, according to advertising monitoring companies, and will run just about everywhere in Florida except the Miami market.

The ad features Putnam praying with his family, working on his ranch and appearing at a rally when he announced his bid for governor.

Putnam’s facing off against Congressman Ron DeSantis, a conservative darling who’s got the love of President Donald Trump and who appears to have taken a second job working for Fox News, where the Palm Coast Republican is making nearly daily appearances.

In the ad, Putnam takes a swipe at “liberal elites,” and talks about his “faith, responsibility, perseverance and hard work.”

“Today, those values are missing. Even looked down on by liberal elites. I’ve spent my life fighting back. And as your Governor, I won’t back down,” he says. “Together, we will put Florida First and make Florida the launch pad for the American Dream.”

House Speaker Richard Corcoran is reportedly mulling whether to enter the race.

Gillum releases digital ad, “Opportunity”

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Democrat running for governor, released a five-figure digital ad, “Opportunity,” according to Gillum’s campaign.

“Were it not for a good public education, caring and loving parents, a grandmother who prayed for me and quite frankly people who believed in me enough to say that I could, I wouldn’t be the person that I am today,” Gillum says in the 30-second spot. “And I plan to work as hard as I can every day, if given the opportunity, to make sure that every child has that same opportunity.”

Gillum’s facing off against former Congresswoman Gwen Graham, Orlando entrepreneur Chris King and former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, who’s dumped upwards of $6 million on television ads thus far.

This from a press release issued by Gillum’s campaign spokesman, Geoff Burgan:

“Andrew is the only candidate in this race who truly understands what everyday Floridians need: a strong public education, a good-paying job, and a state that values its everyday people over its well-heeled and well-connected. “Opportunity” showcases Andrew’s compelling personal story and highlights the areas that a Governor Gillum will pursue.”

 

In first digital ad, Graham runs against Trump

Florida gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham’s first digital ad serves up a taste of what’s sure to be a common theme for Democrats in the 2018 election season.

The former congresswoman’s digital spot focuses solely on her favorite whipping boy, President Donald Trump, whom she calls “an embarrassment,” a “bully,” and someone “that could not be more ill-suited to be president” of the U.S.

Graham’s campaign “is placing a significant buy behind the ad across various digital platforms, starting in Palm Beach, where Trump and administration officials will continue to visit Mar-a-Lago through the month of April, before expanding the ad statewide,” according to a press release announcing the ad this morning.

Graham’s entrée into the campaign ad world comes after competitor Philip Levine has forked over more than $4 million in TV spots in advance of the August primary.

 

Gil Ziffer backs Graham over Gillum, who sez he would’ve shunned his endorsement

zifferThere’s apparently no love lost between Tallahassee City Commissioner Gil Ziffer and Tally Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Democrat who’s running for governor.

gillum_standingIn what appears to be a slap to Gillum, Ziffer threw his support behind Gwen Graham, one of Gillum’s primary foes.

“Gwen Graham has a proven record of standing up for Florida families — as a local PTA volunteer, as a public school official, and representing us in Congress,” Ziffer, who’s also the president of the Florida League of Cities, said in a statement released by Graham’s campaign Wednesday. “She also is a fierce defender of home rule and strongly supported local communities in their fight against Fracking in Florida. Gwen defeated an incumbent, NRA-endorsed, tea party Congressman and is a fighter who’s proven she can win the big battles. I am proud to offer her my most enthusiastic endorsement for governor.”

From the release:

Ziffer’s endorsement comes one day after Graham’s pledge to use her legal resources as governor to support local governments challenging the state’s firearm preemption law with common-sense gun safety regulations.

But Gillum — who’s made stricter gun regulations one of his key campaign issues, and  has boasted of taking on the NRA — didn’t want city colleague Ziffer’s endorsement anyway, according to Gillum’s campaign spokesman Geoff Burgan:

“Gwen Graham’s a self-described “very conservative Democrat” and voted to weaken Dodd-Frank provisions, while Gil Ziffer voted against “Ban the Box” legislation in the City Commission and didn’t back the Mayor’s renewed push to fight the gun lobby following the shooting in Parkland. We never sought his endorsement, and would not have accepted given these strong policy differences.”

Burgan also pointed out that “two of Graham’s colleagues in Congress have endorsed us: Rep. Alcee Hastings and Rep. Frederica Wilson, and that Gravis Marketing poll that shows Graham dropping to 3rd place yesterday.”

That’s a “back at ya” to this morning’s Graham press release, which notes that “Ziffer joins Leon County Commissioners John Dailey, Kristin Dozier and Leon Soil and Water Commissioner Tabitha Frazier in endorsing Graham.”

Post-Parkland, Levine targets guns

Less than a week after a 19-year-old shooter gunned down 14 teenagers and three faculty members at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine’s campaign released a new TV ad targeting gun laws.
Levine’s political committee, All About Florida, is spending $725,000 for the 10-day ad buy in all of the state’s 10 media markets, according to a release issued Tuesday.

“The new ad is a direct response to the Marjory Douglas Stoneman shooting, and an urgent appeal from Mayor Levine for common-sense gun reform in the state of Florida,” according to the release.

In the ad, entitled “We Will,” Levine blasts Florida for having some of the weakest gun laws in the nation.

“The tragedy at Stoneman Douglas High is a wake-up call we can’t ignore,” Levine, the former mayor of Miami Beach, says. “If the legislature won’t do it, we will.”
Watch the video here.
“As the brave students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas spearhead a movement to pass needed gun reform legislation in Florida and across our country that is garnering bipartisan support, the people of Florida are now saying, ‘Enough is enough.’ This new ad takes Mayor Levine’s strong stance on these issues directly to the people. As Mayor Levine states in the ad, if leaders will not pass better background checks, more mental health funding and a permanent ban on assault weapons in the state of Florida, then we will,”  Christian Ulvert, senior advisor to the campaign, said in the release.