Committee Week Means Fundraising Frenzy
Florida lawmakers come to the Capitol for four-days of committee meetings next week – and will spend just about the same amount of time fund-raising.
While committee agendas are fairly light – a lot of interim project reports in the Senate and first reviews of House bills – there’s some serious cash-calls going on. And at least one event underscores a sharp division among Florida Republicans.
Tuesday night includes a full-night of fund-raising for Democrats and Republicans, with Hillsborough County Commissioner Jim Norman being feted at Clyde’s and Costello’s by the Senate’s rising Republican leaders.
Norman early on drew the endorsement of future Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, over fellow Republican Rep. Kevin Ambler of Tampa, a trial lawyer, in yet another contest likely to pit doctors versus lawyers.
“Hey, that’s politics,” Ambler said Friday about getting the cold shoulder from Haridopolos and Sens. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, J.D. Alexander, R-Winter Haven, and Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, who are hosting the Norman fund-raiser.
“People like to draw conclusions based on stereotyping candidates,” Ambler told the News Service of Florida. “But it’s the people in the Tampa-area community that are going to decide this race, not Senate leadership. And their batting average isn’t so good when you think of the candidates that have been supported by leadership and who actually wins.”
The political rivalry between the Florida Medical Association and the Florida Justice Association has been heightened by the recent hard-edged special election won by Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, a former FMA lobbyist and House speaker, who was vigorously opposed by trial lawyers and allied organizations. Outrage among some within the trial lawyer community over a racially-offensive mailer sent by a political committee working to defeat Thrasher led to this week’s resignation of Justice Association executive director Scott Carruthers.
“Our endorsement of Jim Norman has nothing to do with the FMA or the action of some of these committees in the Thrasher race,” Haridopolos said. “He’s proven himself as a county commissioner, and it’s clear that he has a lot of support in the county.”
The Ambler-Norman race pits two well-financed Republicans against each other. Norman has raised $345,950, while Ambler has collected $227,925, according to the most recent finance reports. After next week, Norman ought to have a few more dollars in his campaign account.
While Norman is looking to enter the Legislature, most of the upcoming fund-raisers feature familiar Capitol names.
Monday night, Republican Reps. Doug Holder of Sarasota, Robert Schenck of Spring Hill, and Bill Snyder of Stuart will be accepting checks at the Governor’s Club. Rep. Sandy Adams, R-Orlando, plans to raise money nearby for her congressional challenge to U.S. Rep. Suzanne Kosmas, D-New Smyrna Beach. She’ll be at the Greenberg Traurig law firm. Democrat Darren Soto of Orlando will be collecting cash a few blocks away at Hospitality Square.
On Tuesday, Democratic Reps. Mack Bernard of Delray Beach, Oscar Braynon of Miami Gardens and Ron Brise of North Miami will take Soto’s place at Hospitality Square for a similar event. Reps. Betty Reed, D-Tampa and Gwyn Clarke-Reed, D-Deerfield Beach, will be on the receiving end of contributor cash at the Governor’s Club, along with fellow Democrats Mia Jones of Jacksonville, St. Petersburg’s Bill Heller and Democratic Leader Franklin Sands of Weston.
Besides Norman’s fund-raiser, Republicans Tuesday will be raising money for Republican Rep. Paige Kreegel, R-Punta Gorda, at the Governor’s Club. Also there will be Reps. Debbie Mayfield of Vero Beach, Marti Coley of Marianna, Rachel Burgin of Brandon and candidate Gayle Harrell, a former Stuart House member looking to unseat Democratic Rep. Adam Fetterman of Port St. Lucie.
Wednesday fundraisers are planned for Democratic Reps. Joe Abruzzo of Wellington and Marty Kiar of Davie at Hospitality Square. Republican Reps. Carlos Lopez-Cantera of Miami and Dorothy Hukill of Port Orange will be raising money at the Governor’s Club that evening.
By next weekend: Are you ready for some football?
Senate Republican leaders will be raising money that Sunday for the Senate Majority fund at the Green Bay Packers-Tampa Bay Bucs game in Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium.