2018 governor’s race

Chris King talks voting at universities

ChrisKing_PressImage-683x1024Chris King, a Democratic candidate for governor, wants to make it easier for Floridians to register to vote and to cast their ballots.

That was his message as King visited three state university campuses today, kicking off the campus appearances in Tallahassee at Florida State University, dropping by the University of Florida before winding up at the University of North Florida.

In a press release, King said his “Every Florida Voter” plan is part of his overall effort to make government “work for ordinary people, not special interests and those in power.”

“The first step to restore our democracy is to put that power back in the hands of the people of Florida,” King said, an attorney who graduated from Harvard University and attended law school at UF.

Among his proposals, King wants to expand the early voting period, automatically register voters and allow Election Day registration, instead of the current system of closing registration books roughly a month before each election.

King also said he supports providing a system for the restoration of voting rights for an estimated 1.6 million non-violent felons who have served their time but are denied the right to vote.

“But expanding voter registration and increasing access to the polls are not enough to increase voter participation,” King said. “Past candidates and elected officials from both parties have failed to give Floridians a reason to get out and vote.

“This campaign will be different. It will be unafraid of fighting for a new fair and Florida-focused economy that lifts up all Floridians and championing fresh ideas to give people a reason to stand and be counted,” he said.

By Lloyd Dunkelberger.

Latvala defends Dreamers: “We must lead with a compassionate heart”

State Sen. Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican who is running for governor, weighed in today on President Donald Trump’s decision regarding “dreamers,” the children of undocumented immigrants whose parents brought them into the country.

Trump is reportedly going to announce tomorrow that he intends to put an end to DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy established by former President Barack Obama.

Latvala, a moderate, is in a GOP primary match-up against Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who’s been leaning more and more to the right after he jumped into the governor’s race.

Latvala has long been an advocate for children of undocumented immigrants. In 2014, he sponsored legislation that approved giving in-state tuition to Dreamers. Gov. Rick Scott, who last week said he does “not favor signed punishing children for the actions of their parents,” signed the measure into law.

In a Facebook post today, Latvala said lawmakers “must lead with a compassionate heart.” The statement comes in a state where Hispanic voters play a critical role not only in primaries, but in the general election.

“We must lead with a compassionate heart, not by punishing children. Florida is a diverse state and our economic success depends on a strong diverse workforce. If DACA ends in 6 months it will have a disastrous impact not only on hundreds of thousands of bright, promising young people but also on our business climate.

Congress has dropped the ball on this issue like so many others. It’s time for Congress to pass a law protecting Dreamers. I call on other leaders of the Republican Party in Florida to join me in supporting these children so they can come out of the shadows and legally secure jobs.”


Got a job for Gwen?

Gwen-Graham-Workdays-1145x550What’s next for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham?

It could be serving meals to the homeless, caring for zoo animals, bringing food to hospital patients or a myriad of other possibilities.

As part of a request for campaign cash, Graham’s campaign sent out a survey Friday ask potential donors to weigh on her next “workday.”

Graham, who served a term in Congress and didn’t seek re-election after her Northwest Florida was redrawn, has adopted the “workdays” tactic of her father, former Gov. and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham.

It’s worth noting that elder Graham’s workdays have been co-opted by a number of other politicos, including Republicans like state Rep. Matt Caldwell, who’s running for agriculture commissioner.

Back to Gwen Graham, though, some of the options posed in the SurveyMonkey questionnaire give respondents the choices of having the candidate:

— Deliver meals to patients at a local hospital;
— Clean up a neighborhood park;
— Serve meals at a homeless shelter;
— Work at a treatment facility for people struggling with addiction;
— Volunteer and support teachers at a school;
— Care for animals at a zoo.

Fans can also make their own suggestions for “a local business or organization where you think Gwen should spend a Workday.”

The job selected, which would be undertaken in the fall, would be Graham’s 42nd “workday.”

So far this year, Graham has pitched in working full shifts at a high school, a reintegration program and health clinics, “and more,” according to the pitch.

After being dared by a teacher in 1974 to teach a civics class at Carol City High School in Miami Lakes, Bob Graham undertook a series of 100, eight-hour “workdays.” Back then, Graham was as a little known state legislator embarking on a gubernatorial run in 1977.

By the time he left office in 2005, the two-term governor and three-term U.S. Senator had completed nearly 1,000 “workdays” — including lobster fisherman, mullet gutter, plumber,counterterrorism agent, housewife and downskeeper during an FSU-UF football game.

By Jim Turner.

Putnam regular passenger on anti-NAFTA Trump train

Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, a Republican running for governor, again lent support to President Donald Trump’s efforts to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

In a letter to the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means, the former congressman said the president’s agenda will create “a more even playing field for America’s farmers, ranchers and businesses.”

“As the U.S. moves into the second round of NAFTA negotiations on September 1, it is imperative that the Administration’s goal to seek a provision to address the plight of the producers of perishable and seasonal commodities be included in any agreement,” Putnam wrote.

On Sunday, Trump repeated in a tweet his threat to cancel the trade deal — which he calls the “worst trade deal ever made” — with Mexico and Canada, even as talks are in the early stages to improve the nearly 25-year-old agreement.

Trump a few minutes earlier tweeted “With Mexico being one of the highest crime Nations in the world, me must have the wall Mexico will pay for it.”

“We are in the NAFTA (worst trade deal ever made) renegotiation process with Mexico & Canada.Both being very difficult,may have to terminate?” the president (@realDonaldTrump) tweeted.

“With Mexico being one of the highest crime Nations in the world, we must have THE WALL. Mexico will pay for it through reimbursement/other,” another tweet proclaimed.

In April, Putnam sent a letter to U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, pleading with the Trump administration to investigate Mexico for unfair trade practices.

“I urge you to initiate an investigation into Mexico’s unfair trade practices, which have allowed Mexican producers of specialty crops to — in a matter of 20 years — become the dominant supplier of specialty crops into the U.S. market,” Putnam wrote in a letter dated April 19. “These unfair trade practices have resulted in the continued decline of domestic production of these crops, which play such an important role in our diets and ensure the proper nutrition and development of Americans of all ages.”

By Jim Turner.

Gillum targets students in ‘Back to School’ tour

Calling youngsters “the brightest lights of our future,” Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum will begin a “Back to School” tour on Tuesday as part of his Democratic campaign for governor.

Gillum will kick off the tour at his alma mater, Florida A&M University, but plans to visit another dozen universities, colleges and schools through October.

“I did some of my first organized work in politics when I was an undergraduate at Florida A&M University, and from my earliest days I’ve seen young people take on the biggest issues facing them,” Gillum said in a statement.

Gillum’ will make stops at FAMU, the University of South Florida, Stetson University and the University of Central Florida this week. Next week, he’ll hit Barry University and Florida International University on Monday and the University of North Florida on Tuesday. The Tallahassee mayor plants to appear next month at the University of Florida, the University of Tampa, Florida State University and Tallahassee Community College. He’ll wind up to the tour late in October at Gulf Coast State College.

Here is Gillum’s full statement:

“Our young people are the brightest lights of our future — they speak into existence things they haven’t yet built, and create community with other people they’ve never encountered. They have a powerful role to play in our state, and that’s why I’m thrilled to see them on the campaign trail over the coming weeks.

“I did some of my first organized work in politics when I was an undergraduate at Florida A&M University, and from my earliest days I’ve seen young people take on the biggest issues facing them. That’s why we’ll be talking about higher education accessibility and affordability, infusing our public education with SHOP 2.0 vocational training, creating an economy that puts people first, protecting and expanding access to quality and affordable healthcare, and confronting our climate change crisis. We’ll talk about the need for healing and unity across our country and especially on college campuses, and the need to be civically engaged in your community. I’m thrilled to be going ‘Back to School’ this fall!”

By Lloyd Dunkelberger

Putnam’s 100 days on the trail: Busy Bee, shootouts and cortaditos

IMG_2034Eight visits to a North Florida Busy Bee, 2 “shotgun shootouts,” and downing 12 cortaditos in Miami are among the highlights of Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam’s first 100 days on the campaign trail, according to a press release issued by his campaign staff.

Putnam, a Republican, jumped into the race for governor in May.

Since then, he’s been a busy bee, according to the numbers in the at-times tongue-in-cheek release, which include:

  • 12 “Up & Adam” Breakfasts
  • 11 County Republican functions
  • 2 Shotgun Shootouts
  • 8 stops to the Busy Bee, where I-10 meets I-75
  • 12 cortaditos downed by Adam in Miami
  • 1 oil change for Adam’s white pickup truck
  • 1 A/C repair visit to the Bartow headquarters
  • 100 glasses of Florida orange juice consumed by Adam
  • 343 cans of Coke Zero consumed by staff at Bartow headquarters
  • 3,044 popsicles distributed to young Floridians at parades
  • 1,700 volunteers signed up
  • 1 school field trip, 1 fifth grade graduation, 1 school play, 1 high school awards ceremony and 4 summer reading lists accomplished in the Putnam family

Putnam’s had the field to himself until recently — state Sen. Jack Latvala, a Republican from Clearwater, rolled out his campaign for governor with a three-city flyaround that kicked off in Hialeah on Wednesday.

No word yet on how many cortaditos Latvala consumed down South.

Tear down that monument!

Chris King, a Democrat who’s running for governor, left no doubt where he stands on the issue of Confederate monuments on public property.

King, a Winter Park businessman, wants them all gone.

“These monuments should be removed because we should not celebrate literal anti-American ideology or any ideology based on the oppression of any group of people,” King said in a statement. “And to those who say these monuments are needed to preserve our history, I say we don’t need memorials celebrating this dark time in our history. As we’ve seen in Charlottesville this weekend, we live with the legacy of this history every day.”

King issued the statement after a deadly clash in Charlottesville, Va., that left one person dead after a car plowed into a group of counterprotesters following a “Unite the Right” rally.

There’s a Confederate monument outside the state Capitol in Tallahassee, erected “to rescue from oblivion and perpetuate in the memory of succeeding generations the heroic patriotism of the men of Leon County who perished in the Civil War of 1861-1865,” according to the inscription.

A number of Florida cities, including Jacksonville, are now grappling with what to do with the Confederate statues. Workers in Gainesville began tearing down a monument Monday outside the Alachua County Courthouse.

That’s the same city where white nationalist Richard Spencer, who participated in the Charlottesville event, may speak at the University of Florida next month.

Here’s King’s full statement:

“It’s time for the orderly removal all the Confederate monuments in Florida. These monuments should be removed because we should not celebrate literal anti-American ideology or any ideology based on the oppression of any group of people. And to those who say these monuments are needed to preserve our history, I say we don’t need memorials celebrating this dark time in our history. As we’ve seen in Charlottesville this weekend, we live with the legacy of this history every day.

“It’s time for Florida to put its fealty and energy not toward monuments to a divided past, but toward a vision of the future that provides for common growth. Florida values diversity, but simply saying so understates the case. Florida’s economic engine is built on diversity. We are a state of many races, faiths and languages, each making our state a great place to live in, and each underpinning our economy. But our economic engine has been held back for far too long by the ghosts of the past.

“Removing Confederate monuments is not just the right thing to do for Florida values and its citizens, but the smart thing to do for Florida’s economy. In order to unleash Florida’s economic potential, and attract the jobs and investment we need to grow into the national leader we should be, it’s time to position Florida as a state with eyes set on the future.”

By Lloyd Dunkelberger.