Florida Democrats

All about the Benjamins: Progressives take back endorsement of Good

Florida Progressives are rescinding their endorsement of Margaret Good, a Sarasota Democrat who’s running for an open House seat .

Good is facing off against Democrat Ruta Jouniari in a special election primary Dec. 5. The winner of the match-up will face Republican James Buchanan — the son of Congressman Vern Buchanan — in a Feb. 13 special election. The candidates are vying to replace former Rep. Alex Miller, R-Sarasota, who resigned from the HD 72 seat earlier this year, citing family and business reasons.

Good, who’s whopping Jouniari in the fundraising department, has nailed down a number of endorsements from prominent Dems.

But the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida took back their support because of Good’s stand on the minimum wage:

Susan Smith, head of the caucus:

“After further review of her policy positions, the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida (DPCF) is rescinding the endorsement of Margaret Good’s campaign for the House District 72 Special Election Primary.

Margaret Good supports much of DPCF’s platform, however, we misread and then misrepresented her position of the $15 minimum wage. Good’s campaign contacted us to clarify that she favors an incremental wage increase, but not to the $15 level.

The Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida believes that a $15 minimum wage is an achievable goal in today’s economy. As profits soar, America’s lowest paid workers are unable to cover basic food, shelter, healthcare, and transportation costs. Democrats must fight to level the playing field for these workers.

We are confident Ruta Jouniari will stand firm for a minimum wage of $15, and we applaud both Democratic candidates for supporting the DPCF platform.”

 

 

Fla Dems: We’re not in disarray

Florida Dems are using St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman’s “big win” Tuesday — as well as victories in Virginia, Washington and New Jersey — as proof that their party has got it together.

Florida Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Bittel sent out an email to supporters this morning piggybacking on the victories to raise money.

“These wins proved that Democrats aren’t in disarray, but working harder than ever to rebuild our party after 2016.

But, between now and Election Day 2018, we know a lot can happen. That is why now that Democrats have won big, we’re not resting in Florida — we’re working harder than ever before.

“We can’t do that though if we don’t raise $1O,OOO before the end of the day today. Can you click here and donate $5 now?”  Bittel wrote.

Kriseman, the incumbent, defeated former mayor Rick Baker in a hotly contested race that was technically non-partisan but in which major party players — like former VP Joe Biden — participated.

Dems are banking that the strategies used in Tuesday’s elections will provide a playbook going into next year’s elections, where Florida Democrats hope to flip legislative seats and win back the governor’s mansion, which has been in GOP hands for nearly two decades.

Lori Berman uses Senate sexual harassment policy to raise money

310597_10150347979644648_1123776784_nState Rep. Lori Berman is vying to replace former Sen. Jeff Clemens, who resigned from his legislative seat a week ago after admitting he had an extramarital affair with a lobbyist.

The focus on Clemens prompted Senate President Joe Negron to highlight a change to the chamber’s sexual harassment policy — which an aide to Negron had been in the works for a year — released the same day the Lake Worth Democrat resigned.

The new procedure required workers to report complaints to their immediate supervisors, the Senate president’s chief of staff, or the president himself. Under the old policy, victims could also file complaints with the human resources office.

Negron has repeatedly maintained that the new policy was aimed at giving workers more options to complain if they have been harassed or mistreated.

Late Sunday, Negron said in a memo that workers “can and should report sexual and workplace harassment to anyone they feel comfortable speaking with.”

But Berman, D-Lantana, blasted Negron for the new policy and used it to raise money in a fundraising email sent this afternoon with the subject line “Shameful.”

“Yesterday, State Senate President–Republican Joe Negron–defended a terrible sexual harassment policy that discourages victims from coming forward.

Instead of going to a Human Resources department, like most major companies and organizations, the Florida Senate makes their employees report to their direct superior (usually a Chief of Staff or even the Senate President himself) if they wish to report an incident. This policy silences victims by forcing them to confide in the same people who have the power to terminate their employment, and who many times have political allegiances to the members being accused of harassment.
This is absolutely shameful.
I’m running for State Senate because this pattern of sexual harassment MUST come to an end. Victims should NEVER be shamed or marginalized.
More than ever, victims need policies in place that provide them the resources they desperately need without threatening their livelihood, their career, and their reputation.
I hope you will join me in making your voice heard on this critical issue. Together, we can change the culture of harassment in Tallahassee and throughout our state.”

Former state Rep. Irv Slosberg, defeated by Clemens in a primary in 2014, has also said he intends to run for the open seat.

Dems bash rebranded Baker in St. Pete

It may have worked it Miami, so why not St. Pete?

Florida Dems and incumbent St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman’s campaign have tethered Rick Baker, a Republican who’s seeking a comeback as mayor, to President Donald Trump, who’s not exactly a rock star in the left-leaning Pinellas County seat.

Dems used the same strategy in a Miami special election in August, successfully pairing Trump with former state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz. The Miami Republican and his allies vastly outspent Democratic opponent Annette Taddeo in the race for the open Senate seat, but Taddeo coasted to victory.

In advance of the advent of early voting tomorrow, Florida Democrats released a new ad bashing Baker, again tying him to the president.

“The new Rick Baker: angry, deceptive and backwards,” a voiceover says.

“Rick Baker is taking a page from Donald Trump’s playbook. He’s willing to say or do anything to win an election—anything besides challenge Donald Trump. Even when Trump embraced white supremacists, Baker was silent. Now that his campaign is flailing, he’s willing to lie if it means getting his old job back. Baker seems to have traded his dignity for $25,000 from the RNC,” Florida Democratic Party Deputy Communications Director Amir Avin said in a press release announcing the ad.

Dems mauling Maul’s disaster creds

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Democrats and other critics of Gov. Rick Scott are creating a storm over Wesley Maul, the governor’s pick to head up the Florida Division of Emergency Management with two months left in the hurricane season.

The Florida Democratic Party questioned Maul’s qualifications, who’s now the division’s chief of staff and will take over as interim head of state emergency ops from Bryan Koon on Sunday.

“We need an experienced leader at the helm of our emergency management operations, and no one would disagree that Wes Maul is totally inexperienced and unprepared for such an important role,” FDP spokeswoman Johanna Cervone said in a statement. “Rick Scott has a clear record of propping up unqualified political appointees, but this is unacceptable.”

American Bridge 21st Century PAC, a progressive “super PAC” that targets Republicans, also piled on, outlining the resumes of prior division leaders to highlight the contrast with Maul.

“Wesley Maul’s resume would only be impressive to Tallahassee lobbying firms,” American Bridge said in a memo released Thursday. “He has only one year of experience working at the Division of Emergency Management. He has no degrees or professional credentials in emergency management. Just four years ago, Maul was a mattress delivery associate while enrolled in law school. Following that, he was a travelling (sic) aide to Rick Scott, handling the governor’s personal calendar and making sure the governor stuck to his schedule.”

Here’s the snapshots of Maul’s predecessors, provided by American Bridge :

  • Koon (Division of Emergency Management Director from 2011 to present), previously served as director of emergency management for WalMart. He was also a watch commander for the White House Emergency Operations Center.
  • David Halstead (2010-2011), had been with the division since 1998, including the 2004 hurricane season when he was an emergency services branch chief.
  • Ruben Almaguer (2009-2010), was a deputy director at the division after having worked as a division chief for the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department.
  • Craig Fugate (2001-2009), had also been a deputy director for the division before being appointed to the top job by Gov. Jeb Bush. Fugate, a Democrat, had spent a decade as emergency manager for Alachua County.
  • Joe Myers (1993-2001), was director of emergency management in North Carolina for eight years prior to taking the job in Florida.

Maul, who joined DEM in May 2016, spent about three years in the governor’s office. His duties, according to Maul’s LinkedIn page, included running Scott’s daily schedule and coordinating travel.

Prior to going to work for Scott, and while earning his law degree at the University of Florida, Maul spent a year as a delivery associate at Mattress Town of Gainesville, which the LinkedIn page said increased “average daily delivery capability by 211% through improved inventory analysis, logistics, and sales operations.”

In a press release announcing Koon’s departure this week, Scott called Maul a “valued member” of his team since 2013.

“As Chief of Staff at DEM, Wes has worked countless hours helping lead our state through Hurricanes Hermine, Matthew and now Irma,” Scott said in the release. “Since earning his law degree at the University of Florida, Wes has devoted his life to serving the families of our state and I am confident in his ability to lead DEM as Interim Director as we continue to recover from Hurricane Irma.”

By Jim Turner.

Poppa was a rollin’ stone? Gillum ready to hit the road again

Sometimes in politics, you really are just taking some family time.
Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Democrat who’s running for governor in 2018, announced Thursday that he will soon get back to campaigning shortly after the birth of his son Davis last week.
Gillum — already the father of twins — will appear next weekend at the “Women’s March for Truth” in Miami, a voter-rich area that could be up for grabs in the Democratic primary, given that none of the party’s high-profile candidates hails from that area.
The mayor also took some time in the Thursday’s statement announcing his campaign-trail return to blast away at President Donald Trump, already emerging as one of the Democrats’ top foils in the 2018 midterms.
“We must say with one clear voice: President Trump and his Administration’s behavior are far outside the bounds of acceptable or normal, and we all need the truth about their actions,” he said.
If you feel like Gillum hasn’t actually been out of campaign mode for long — well, that’s because his operation has kept up the pace of statements and endorsements. This week alone, the campaign has rolled out the support of former U.S. House and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro — a rising star in the national Democratic party — and state Sen. Jeff Clemens, a Lake Worth Democrat who will lead his party in Florida’s upper chamber starting next year.
The mayor has also been churning out statements on topics like an administrative decision affecting Haitian refugees and a controversial Republican health care bill in Congress — not to mention a blog post on failed legislation, which Gillum opposed, to pre-empt local government ordinances.
But now, the mayor is ready to hit the road again. Though, doubtless, there will be plenty of fatherly things to do when he returns home.