In last week’s post about the State House races, I wrote about the last-minute write-ins that caused the District 80 and 106 races to be closed to all but registered Republicans, and said the same thing happened with the State Senate District 28 race.
Collier County Republican Party leaders have been accused of rigging the House primaries by coercing the write-ins. Democrats and voters without party affiliation are shut out, leaving nearly half of Collier’s voters with no say in these important elections. Two last-minute write-in candidates filed for the Senate District race, with the same effect.
A Republican will represent us in the state Senate, whether we vote in the primary or not. I wrote about candidates Matt Hudson and Kathleen Passidomo in an April post; today I’ll provide some additional biographical information and links to their social media sites, summarize campaign contributions they received to-date, and tell you how I plan to vote.
Hudson served the maximum eight years in the Florida House, and is now running for Senate. He had a 20-year management career at Walgreens and subsequently became a licensed real estate broker. He has lived in Golden Gate Estates since 1990. He served as President of the Rotary Club of Collier – Golden Gate, and on the Collier County Productivity Community, the Collier County Revenue Commission and the Golden Gate Community Emergency Response Team.
His campaign website describes him as “a conservative champion in the Florida House of Representatives.” His Facebook pages are here and here, his LinkedIn page is here, his YouTube channel is here, his TV commercial “The Right Call” is here, and he is @RepMHudson on Twitter. Take a few minutes to check out the Facebook and Twitter pages in particular for an illuminating glimpse at his personal style, interests and issues.
Passidomo, too, served in the Florida House, representing District 106 since 2010. Unlike Hudson, she is not term-limited, but chose to give up a sure reelection to challenge Hudson for the Senate.
Passidomo has lived in Naples since graduating from Stetson University College of Law in 1978. Upon moving to Naples, she opened her real estate and business law practice. She has served as president of the Collier County Bar Association and the Collier County Women’s Bar Association and, according to her website, “helped almost 100 business, civic and charitable organizations with their corporate documents and governance structure.” She created the Collier County Juvenile Justice Council, co-chaired the Community Engagement Initiative of the Education Foundation of Collier County-Champions for Learning (“Connect Now”), served as president of the Southwest Florida Land Preservation Trust, and chaired the board of The United Way of Collier County. She also participated in Leadership Florida, Leadership Collier and Leadership Marco Island, and served on the Leadership Collier Foundation Board.
Her website (www.kathleenpassidomo.com) showcases her 2013 Defender of Liberty Award from the American Conservative Union, and lists endorsements from former State Senator Garrett Richter, former State Representative Dudley Goodlette and longtime Naples resident and Hodges University benefactor Thelma Hodges. Facebook posts show support from Naples Mayor Bill Barnett, former County Commissioner Jim Coletta, State Senate Majority Leader Bill Galvano and House Majority Whip Jim Boyd.
Her Facebook page is here, her LinkedIn page is here, her YouTube channel is here, her TV commercial “Fed Up” is here, and she is @Kathleen4SWFL on Twitter. Again, spend a few minutes on her Facebook and Twitter pages to get a sense of what she chose to share with the public during her campaign.
Hudson reported monetary contributions of $468,249 and expenditures of $179,306, leaving almost $290,000 left to spend as of June 24. Of his 1,165 contributions, 85 were from“political organizations” and 50 listed “government relations” (aka lobbyist) as their occupation. He loaned no money his campaign.
Passidomo reported monetary contributions of $483,780 and expenditures of $221,515, leaving almost $262,300 left to spend as of June 24. Of her 1,248 contributions, 64 were from PACs and 8 reported the occupation “government relations.” She contributed $100,000 to her campaign in April, saying, “If I’m asking people to contribute … then I have to be invested in it myself.”
This chart summarizes and compares the campaign finances of the candidates through June 24:
We can see that Passidomo’s contribution was critical to her competitiveness in the money game. Hudson has significantly more PAC and lobbyist support and out-of-state money, as well as more big-money donors.
Not included in these amounts is spending by political committees outside the candidates’ campaigns. For example, I have received two large, glossy anti-Hudson mailings paid for by Better Florida Fund Corp., Tallahassee, with the tag line “Matt’s Not Conservative”: “All hail, Matt Hudson, the king of corporate welfare!” and “Matt Hudson and Charlie Crist, teaming up to raise your taxes!!!” I have received three large, glossy pro-Passidomo mailings paid for by Taxpayers in Action, Tampa: “Conservative Kathleen Passidomo is stopping taxpayer money from going to illegal immigrants,” “Kathleen Passidomo is making it a top priority to stop incentives that promote illegal immigration” and “Conservative Kathleen Passidomo will defend our 2nd amendment rights against liberals trying to take away our freedoms.” And most recently I received a large glossy mailing paid for by Working Together for Florida PAC, Venice, FL, highlighting Passidomo’s local endorsements, position on issues (100% pro-life; 100% opposed to amnesty; eco-friendly; repeal + replace Obamacare). I’ve received no similar mailing from Hudson supporters.
Both Hudson and Passidomo received A grades on the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s Legislative Report Cards each year they were in office, indicating that they voted nearly lock-step with the Chamber’s position on Florida Business Agenda bills.
I compared their votes (Hudson’s here; Passidomo’s here) on what Vote Smart calls “Key Votes” between 2011 (Passidomo’s first year) and 2016, and they voted the same way in all but a few cases which I detailed in a prior post.
Both want to limit access to legal abortion, oppose Medicaid expansion and limiting access to guns, and want tougher immigration laws and border control. Passidomo herself said, “Matt and I have similar voting records. The main thing that distinguishes us is our personalities.”
So how to choose? While I disagree with many of Passidomo’s positions on issues, I respect her years of service in our community, as well as her choices of organizations to support.
I also respect that Passidomo made a significant financial contribution to her campaign. While her net worth is considerably more than Hudson’s ($5.6 million vs $175,552 per their most recent Financial Disclosure filings), his failure to contribute anything at all to his campaign is troubling.
I’m not sure how significant it is or how long it will continue, but the fact that Passidomo has received less money from out-of-state and from PACs/lobbyists, and fewer $1,000 contributions, suggests that she may be less beholden to special interest groups.
Finally, in scanning the detailed list of contributors to each campaign, I noted several to Passidomo from people I know and respect, but none to Hudson about which I could say the same.
A few friends have said they would rather not vote at all than to vote for one of these candidates. That’s their choice. But it is possible that the race could be close, and just as with the 2014 School Board elections, those who don’t vote may later wish they did.
For these reasons, I will vote for Kathleen Passidomo for Senate District 28.
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