2018 governor’s race

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.

National Dems put bullseye on Sunshine State


For some of us, it feels as though the once-every-decade redistricting process in Florida only recently wrapped up.

But the drawing of new House, Senate and congressional maps will start all over again in just three years.

After getting their you-know-whats handed to them during the 2011 redistricting process, national Democrats are targeting a dozen states — including Florida — where the victors in November will be in office when the crafting of the new maps begins in 2021.

Of course, Florida — where the governor’s mansion and the state Legislature have been controlled by Republicans for more than two decades — is in the cross hairs this year.

The National Democratic Redistricting Committee has made the Sunshine State one of 12 targets in the 2018 elections, putting a bullseye on the governor’s race and the state Senate.

Among the likely races the NDRC will focus on is Senate District 40, where freshman Annette Taddeo, who defeated GOP fave Jose Felix Diaz in an upset this summer, could face off against former Sen. Frank Artiles. Artiles, a Miami Republican, was forced to resign during last year’s legislative session after a profanity-laced and racially charged outburst at the Governor’s Club.

Read the press release here.



Corcoran clan yawns while speaker crows

We’re not even sure where to begin.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran last video — pushed out by his political committee, Watchdog PAC — erased any remaining doubts for many about whether the Land O’ Lakes Republican is running statewide.

The ad was widely criticized for using scare tactics to promote one of the conservative leader’s top issues — banning so-called “sanctuary cities” in Florida.

Followers of Corcoran on Twitter may be even more certain about the speaker’s future as a gubernatorial candidate after this football-themed video posted on social media yesterday.

In the tongue-in-cheek video, Corcoran, his wife and their six children are huddled while Corcoran, apparently the team captain, tries to pump them up.

But his conservative cheerleading prompts eye rolls and complaints from his family members, who may be less leery of criticizing their dad/husband than GOP members of the House.

Here’s the beginning of the video:

“I know we’re down, but remember when we took on ethics reform?” Corcoran says in the huddle.

“Dad, stop already,” his young daughter gripes, drawing out the word “Dad” into three syllables.

But, not surprisingly, he doesn’t.

“Or when we took on the liberal special interests, and we cut taxes and spending?”

Another Corcoran kid hangs his head.

“We even took tax dollars from Pitbull!” Corcoran cheerfully boasts.

“But, Dad, I like Pitbull,” one of the Corcoran clan complains, as orchestra music swells in the background.

“Yeah, but he doesn’t deserve our tax dollars. It’s about doing, and not talking,” the speaker replies, prompting one of his kids to urge him to talk less and throw the ball.

The video ends as Corcoran asks, “What’s the greatest threat to your freedom and liberty?”

To which they despondently respond, “Big government and big corporations,” as they walk off the field.






Corcoran anti-sanctuary state video: “race-baiting” or simply red meat?

House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s political committee dropped a new video Monday that plays up his conservative creds, immigration-style.

The 30-second screed, entitled “Preventable,” dishes up a serving of GOP red meat by excoriating “sanctuary cities.”

The campaign-ish video might put to rest any (remaining) questions about whether the the Land O’ Lakes Republican intends to run for governor.

The video opens by alluding to the 2015 killing of Kathryn Steinle along Pier 14 in the Embarcadero district of San Francisco by depicting a bearded man in a hoodie pointing and firing a handgun at a woman walking the sidewalk of a suburban community.

A voice-over by Corcoran states: “A young woman, gunned down by an illegal immigrant who should’ve been deported but was protected by a sanctuary city.”

The video than fades to Corcoran, who is in his final House term and has said he’s waiting until after the Legislative session to make an announcement regarding his political future, who personalizes Steinle’s story.

When he heard of Steinle’s death, “I thought about my own daughter Kate,” Corcoran, a father of six, says.

“Incredibly, some Tallahassee politicians want to make Florida a sanctuary state,” a seemingly incredulous Corcoran, shown with his arm draped around Kate’s shoulders, says. “On my watch, Florida will never be a sanctuary state.”

The Republican-dominated House voted 71-35 on Jan. 12 in favor of a measure (HB 9) that would ban “sanctuary cities’ in the state. A similar version in the Senate (SB 308) has its first appearance before the Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

Worth noting: A jury last month found Jose Ines Garcia Zanate not guilty of second-degree murder charges in Steinle’s death. Garcia Zanate said he found the gun on the pier and that it accidentally went off. Authorities confirmed the bullet ricocheted off the ground before striking Steinle.

The video drew  strong rebuke from the campaign of Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Democrat running for governor.

Gillum’s campaign spokesman Geoff Burgan, who called the video “race-baiting,” said it epitomizes “everything that’s wrong with politics today.”

“In the age of Trump, Corcoran is vilifying immigrants,” Burgan said in a press release. “It’s a vile ad that seeks to divide us against one another, and the Speaker ought to be ashamed of himself. Mayor Gillum is running a substantive, progressive campaign on the issues facing everyday Floridians, and we encourage the Speaker to do the same when he finally joins the race.”


By Dara Kam and  Jim Turner.

Hannity hearts DeSantis

An endorsement from President Donald Trump is probably the biggest coup for a Republican candidate trying to garner support from conservative, base voters in a statewide primary election.

But a resounding thumbs-up from conservative icon Sean Hannity is arguably a runner-up.

And that’s what U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis scored, with Hannity, who has a condo in Naples, telling the Palm Coast Republican, “You’re going to be my future governor, I hope,” during a radio interview.

DeSantis is facing up against state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, whose amassed a considerable campaign war chest as he serves up Florida OJ at his “Up and Adam” breakfasts throughout the state. House Speaker Richard Corcoran is toying with a run for governor, and former state Sen. Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican who is facing possible criminal charges after resigned last month amid investigations into sexual harassment, is still in the race.

Putnam’s made a noticeable pivot to the right as he gears up for the August primary. And we’re not usually keen about endorsements. But the support of Trump and Hannity could translate into considerable dosh and being onstage with Trump couldn’t hurt, either.


Did DeSantis just announce guv run?

Congressman Ron DeSantis is parlaying a tweet from President Donald Trump — which he’s calling an “endorsement” — into some earned media while he ponders a bid for governor.

Trump recently hailed DeSantis, a Republican from Palm Coast, on social medical as a “brilliant young leader” who would make a “GREAT governor” for the Sunshine State.

This morning, DeSantis’s campaign sent out a press release touting the congressman’s comments on Fox and Friends earlier today, where DeSantis played coy about his guv run and fanned the flames of speculation.

The campaign also provided a transcript, to make it easier for lazy journos who didn’t want to take the time to watch the brief clip, which runs just over a minute.

Asked about Trump’s praise, DeSantis said:

I can tell you that when that tweet went out, the amount of buzzing on my phone from calls and texts, I thought the phone was malfunctioning or there was something going on. When he tweets and he has 100 million people that are seeing that, it’s a really really big deal, so I really appreciate the kind words from the President.

He loves Florida, he’s been good for Florida, and I anticipate he’ll continue to do that. We’ll definitely come back on your show in the new year and be happy to break some news then.

But that wasn’t enough.

Leland Vittert, one of the show’s hosts, called DeSantis’s response “the non-denial, denial. Sort of the non-acceptance, acceptance.”

And DeSantis didn’t deny that.

“Leland, you can use your deductive reasoning skills, there’s nothing wrong with that,” he said.