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|August 28, 2018|
Primary Elections in Florida
Why should you care?
In a unique-to-Florida power-sharing relationship, the Governor and independently-elected Cabinet members oversee and hire the directors of several state agencies including those responsible for taxation, law enforcement, highway safety and bond finance.
Importantly, as the State Board of Executive Clemency, they decide the process by which voting and other rights are restored to former felons and others who have had them taken away.
See “Florida: An Outlier in Denying Voting Rights,” Brennan Center for Justice, 12/16/16
In addition to their shared responsibilities, each Cabinet member is also the Chief Executive of his/her Executive Branch department, which gives her/him individually significant power.
The current salary of a Cabinet member is $128, 972.
In this post, I’ll summarize the responsibilities of each office and the backgrounds and priorities of the likely candidates for each. Since money plays such an important role in elections, I’ll also share the latest campaign finance figures.
As chief legal officer of the state and head of the Department of Legal Affairs, the AG pursues criminal law and antitrust law violations; prosecutes cases of criminal racketeering, Medicaid fraud and civil rights violations; defends the state when it is sued and general laws when they are challenged; and represents the state when sentences for criminal convictions are appealed. There are over 400 lawyers on staff.
Registered Republicans will choose among four candidates and registered Democrats will choose between two Democrats in the August primaries. The winners will face off in a general election in November.
For Attorney General - The Republicans
|Jay Fant (R)|
Fant’s issues are: secure our borders; eliminate sanctuary cities; protect religious liberty; restore the 2nd amendment; preserve the sanctity of life; defend free enterprise; strengthen law enforcement; protect consumer rights; and stop opioid abuse.
His website lists endorsements by the Trump Florida Campaign Co-Chairman and 38 Trump County Chairs, 13 (of 76) Republican state representatives and one (of 23) state senator.
|Ashley Moody (R)|
Moody’s issues are: our flag; our constitution; the rule of law; Florida taxpayers; a healthy Florida (fight the opioid epidemic); law enforcement; our communities; religious freedom; our seniors; and our economy.
Her website lists endorsements by current Attorney General Pam Bondi, 12 state attorneys and 37 sheriffs from across the state.
Ross Spano (51) is a State Representative from Hillsborough County; sponsored bills here. While listed as an active candidate on the Florida Department of State website, he has qualified to run for Congress and is unlikely to appear as an AG candidate on the August ballot.
|Frank White (R)|
According to his website, White’s issues are: defend the constitution; stand against government overreach; protect families and consumers with free market solutions; protect the unborn, 100% pro-life; protect the second amendment; defend taxpayers; prevent the spread and harm of Obamacare; and protect our borders and end sanctuary cities.
White leads the campaign money race, but see the Tampa Bay Times re: his $2.75 million personal contributions.
A web search found endorsements by two Florida sheriffs.
For Attorney General - The Democrats
|Sean Shaw (D)|
Shaw’s priorities are: protect children and families; crack down on corruption and fraud; lead the fight against opioids; advocate for consumers and ratepayers; and defend civil rights and equal rights.
His endorsements include 33 (of 41) House Democrats, 12 (of 16) Senate Democrats, three state attorneys and former Attorney General Bob Butterworth. Of note: the Florida Professional Firefighters crossed party lines in endorsing Shaw, having endorsed Republicans Adam Putnam for Governor and Denise Grimsley for Commissioner of Agriculture.
|Ryan Torrens (D)|
Torrens’ priories are: consumer protection and standing up to big banks; fighting for seniors; protecting Florida families; and tackling the addiction crisis.
His endorsements include two local labor unions and a state Representative.
The CFO oversees the Florida Department of Financial Services, which is comprised of the former state departments of insurance, treasury, fire marshal, and banking and finance. It is made up of 13 divisions, several specialized offices and 2,000 employees.
While there are four candidates running for CFO, only incumbent Scott-appointee Jimmy Patronis (R) and former State Senator Jeremy Ring (D) are considered to be serious candidates.
For Chief Financial Officer - The Republican
|Jimmy Patronis (R)|
His current priorities as CFO and State Fire Marshall are: supporting our first responders; protecting your identity; and fiscal accountability.
His endorsements include Florida Family Action President John Stemberger, Senate President-Designate Bill Galvano, Attorney General Pam Bondi, five former speakers of the Florida House and the Florida Chamber of Commerce
|Jeremy Ring (D)|
Jeremy Ring (47) is a former State Senator from Broward County. One of the earliest employees at Yahoo!, he became its director of sales in early 1996 and stayed until mid-2001, becoming personally wealthy. He moved to Florida to raise his family. During his ten years in the Florida Senate, according to his website, he worked to “craft major bipartisan legislation aimed at planting the seeds of an innovation ecosystem” in Florida. He recently published “We Were Yahoo!”, an insider look at the rapid rise and spectacular fall of Yahoo!.
His priorities are: protecting Florida’s retirement system; keeping insurance rates stable; and growing the innovation economy.
His endorsements include many federal, state and local elected officials, the International Association of Fire Fighters, and the Florida Police Benevolent Association.
Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture oversees the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. That organization supports and promotes Florida agriculture, protects the environment, safeguards consumers, and ensures the safety and wholesomeness of food. Through its Division of Licensing, it issues concealed weapon licenses.
Registered Republicans will choose among four candidates and registered Democrats will choose among three candidates in the August primaries.
For Commissioner of Agriculture - The Republicans
|Matt Caldwell (R)|
According to his website, “Matt has always been a champion of issues that impact our environment and the agriculture community. He sponsored an expansion of the Everglades Forever Act, which will complete Everglades restoration in the area south of Lake Okeechobee, as well as Legacy Florida, which will permanently fund restoration of the greater Everglades; and fighting Numeric Nutrient Criteria.”
His priorities are to protect Floridians’ 2nd Amendment rights, natural resources, and property.
His endorsements include U.S. Rep. Francis Rooney, U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, 47 (of 76) state representatives including Collier Reps. Byron Donalds and Bob Rommel, one state senator, several sheriffs, other constitutional officers and county and city elected officials.
|Denise Grimsley (R)|
Her issue priorities, according to her new (May 2018) Let’s Grow Florida PAC, are: strengthening the Florida agriculture industry; improving and limiting government; lowering tax burdens; protecting Florida consumers; and improving the quality of life in all Florida communities for all Floridians.
Her endorsements include Senate President-designate Bill Galvano, Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson and 27 Florida sheriffs.
|Mike McCalister (R)|
According to his website, the “former National Spokesman for Citizens for Trump” “has travelled the state protecting our Second Amendment rights and a fierce advocate for saving our monuments that the establishment elites and New World Liberals want taken down to erase the heritage from the sights of our future generations.” He is “committed to protecting Florida’s Families’ Food, Water, Freedom and Animals.”
He is not considered to be a serious candidate in this big-money race.
|Baxter Troutman (R)|
According to his website, “With a lifetime of experience in farming, Baxter will ensure that future generations of Floridians understand the important role the agriculture industry plays in Florida’s economic security by growing food that feeds the world.”
Troutman’s issue priorities are: water quality and supply; the second amendment; land availability; citrus greening; and NAFTA.
Neither his website nor a web search identified any endorsements.
For Commissioner of Agriculture - The Democrats
|Nikki Fried (D)|
According to Igniting Florida, Fried is “one of the most visible faces and key activists in Florida’s burgeoning medical cannabis industry.”
Having just filed to run last week, she has yet to create a website and has reported no campaign contributions or endorsements.
|Jeff Porter (D)|
“This area of the country, inside our borders, is the only place where we can grow produce in the winter to feed the nation, yet we’ve become totally reliant on food that comes from foreign countries,” Porter said. “It’s almost like a national security issue.”
Speaking about damage after Hurricane Irma, Porter said he wants the state to establish a separate emergency relief fund for farmers and ranchers, separate from one typically opened for all businesses affected by natural disasters.
Having just filed to run, Porter has yet to create a website or report any endorsements.
|David Walker (D)|
According to his website, Walker was ”driven to run” by “recent disturbing policy changes that are detrimental to our environment and … will lead to pollution, discourage renewable energy, and accelerate climate change in order to benefit big businesses and the fossil fuel industry.”
He is the only Agriculture Commissioner candidate who voiced straight opposition to withdrawal from NAFTA. The others have cited produce dumping from Mexico in criticizing the pact (Sun-Sentinel, 5/29/18).
Walker’s “Vision for Florida” includes positions on: conservation; consumer services; agriculture; food and nutrition; gun rights; renewable energy; and water.
In the ten weeks between now and Election Day, there will be opportunities to learn more about the candidates and attend candidate forums and meet-and-greets. I will post these events as I see them on the Sparker's Soapbox Event Calendar, and share who I'll vote for in August.
Meanwhile, for more on the August primaries, stay tuned for future "Get Ready to Vote" posts, and catch up on what you missed:
- Get Ready to Vote in the August 2018 Primaries
- Who’s Running for Governor in the August Primaries?
- Who’s Running for Congress in the August Primaries?
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