State News in Review – January 2018

The Florida Legislature convened its 2018 session on January 9th, and much of this month’s state news concerned proposed bills and budget priorities. Since most proposals won’t make it to the finish line and the budget won’t be finalized until March, this month’s post focuses on non-legislative news Collier voters should be aware of.

But first, an update on the state of play regarding the candidates running for the offices that will be on our ballots this year! Primary elections will be on August 28; the General Election will be on November 6.

As a reminder, Florida is a closed primary state where only registered members of a party may vote in that party’s primary. I have been writing since 2011 about my “unorthodox suggestion” when it comes to party affiliation. See my posts herehere and, most recently, here. I continue to feel as I did then, and I hope you will consider it. Check and/or change your party affiliation with the Supervisor of Elections here.

U.S. Senate

Democrat Bill Nelson is seeking re-election to his fourth term as one of our U.S. senators. Gov. Rick Scott is widely expected to challenge him and if he does, the race is expected to be close. But “the increasingly grim outlook facing Republicans in the midterms has raised new questions about his political future,” as Scott faces GOP headwinds ahead of a potential Senate bid. The Hill


Collier County voters live in Congressional District 19 or 25. Find your District here.

In District 19, which includes western Collier County, Republican Francis Rooney is seeking a second term, and he is currently unchallenged. There won’t be a Republican primary unless another Republican files to run in the coming months. Democrats David Holden and Todd James Truax will face off in August.

In District 25, Republican Mario Diaz-Balart is seeking a ninth term. To-date, he has just one challenger, Democrat Alina Valdes. Unless that changes, there will be no primaries and the two will face off in a general election in November.


Rick Scott is term-limited so the governor’s race is wide-open.

The leading Republican candidate is Florida’s current, term-limited Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, but Congressman Ron DeSantis is rising in the polls since receiving endorsements from Donald Trump and Sean Hannity. Fifty percent of likely voters are undecided, according to a recent Florida Chamber poll.

Democratic frontrunners are former Congresswoman Gwen Graham, former Miami Beach Mayor Phil Levine, and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum. Sixty-four percent are undecided. Florida Chamber

August primary elections will decide the Republican and Democrat who will face off in November.

State Cabinet

Unlike the federal government, where the President appoints his Cabinet, Florida’s three Cabinet members — Attorney General, Commissioner of Agriculture and Chief Financial Officer — are independently elected. In recent news:

State Senate

Incumbent Republican Sen. Kathleen Passidomo is so far without a challenger to represent District 28, which includes all of Collier County. In 2016, Passidomo beat Matt Hudson in a Republican primary that was closed by the “write-in loophole.” There were no Democrat challengers.

State House

Collier County voters live in Florida House District 80, 106 or 105. Find your District here.

In District 80, Republican Byron Donalds is running for a second term. To-date, he has one challenger running with no party affiliation (NPA).

In District 106, Republican Bob Rommel is also running for a second term. To-date, he is challenged by Democrat Sara McFadden and an NPA.

In District 105, Carlos Trujillo is term-limited, so that seat is wide-open. To-date, Democrat Javier Estevez and Republicans David Rivera (who is being sued by the FEC) and Ana Maria Rodriguez have filed to run for the seat.

And now, some state news of note:

The 2017-18 Constitution Revision Commission

This month, CRC committees have been meeting to determine which proposed constitutional amendments to the Florida Constitution to put forward to the full Commission for a vote. The CRC’s work must be completed by May 10, after which I’ll share which amendments they have placed on our November ballot. My November and December 2017 posts explained the role of this important and powerful group that only meets every twenty years.

Collier School Board and CRC member Erika Donalds was mentioned several times in a Politico Florida article this month titled Secret talks among CRC members ‘just part of the process,’ says Commissioner. The article described the CRC Education Committee’s failure to follow open meetings requirements that almost every commission in the state must meet. According to Donalds, “It’s just like the Legislature; we’re operating in a very similar manner.” But “It’s stunning they’re doing it … without even answering questions or providing any basis in law for (it),” said the First Amendment Foundation’s Barbara Petersen.


The environment

In the courts

Other state news

In my next post, I’ll report on January’s top stories in local government.

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