Sunshine State dims for Dems amid election losses, cash woes
Democrats hope to make deeper strides in changing their fortunes in a state that has become friendlier place for Republicans. And that was despite $100 million spent by Michael Bloomberg to help Democrats in the state. When the spending tally is complete, the last election cycle in Florida is expected to rank as among the most expensive in state history. Ad“I don’t know anybody who’s happy with investing $100 million and not winning,” said Manny Diaz, the new chair of the Florida Democratic Party. Diaz, the state party chairman, is trying to reverse the slide in its voter registration advantage over Republicans.
Mending partisan divide in national politics; focusing on Florida Legislature; Florida Democratic Party chair
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – On this edition of “This Week in Jacksonville,” former U.S. Rep. Jason Altmire weighs in on the national political scene now that President Joe Biden has taken office. State Rep. Paul Renner comments on the upcoming legislative session. And Florida Democratic Party Chairman Manny Diaz talks about his new role and the election results.
After disappointing 2020, Florida Democratic chair looks to Duval County for inspiration
Former Miami Mayor Manny Diaz is the new chair of the Florida Democratic Party. “It is a business, and its business is electing Democrats statewide,” Diaz said. The last time a Democratic candidate took Duval in a presidential election was President Jimmy Carter in 1976. Diaz credited state Rep. Angie Nixon, Rep. Tracie Davis, state Sen. Audrey Gibson and chair of the Duval County Democratic Party Daniel Henry for the success in Jacksonville. “What they do is they’re on the ground, and that’s the kind of operation that I’m gonna build statewide,” Diaz said.
Florida Democrats elect ex-Miami Mayor Diaz as state leader
Diaz is taking over a state party that lost ground in November's election, causing some national political commentators to suggest Florida may no longer be a swing state but solidly Republican. AP VoteCast, a survey of the Florida electorate, found Trump won 58% of Cuban American voters statewide. Biden only won the county by 7 points, which accounts for most of Trump's increased victory margin in the state. Florida Democrats must win South Florida by large margins to offset the Republicans' strong support in north Florida. Diaz told Saturday's meeting that Florida Democrats are "at a crossroads.” A lawyer, he served as Miami mayor from 2001 to 2009.
Florida Democratic Party chair won’t seek reelection
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Democratic Party Chair Terri Rizzo will not run for reelection after a disastrous 2020 election. The state Democratic party lost seats in both the Florida Legislature and Congress. The Democrats figured to go from 17 seats to 19 in the state Senate, but instead they lost a coveted South Florida seat. It was even worse in the House, where Democrats lost three incumbents and two targeted open seats. “We’re going to have to ask tough questions.”And then there were the two congressional seats in South Florida that Democrats lost.
Democrats face taking ‘long, hard look’ after Florida losses
Even before Trump officially notched his win Tuesday night in Florida, some Democrats were calling for a state party shakeup. Eskamani said her re-election came with marginal support from the Florida Democratic Party, adding that her political committee contributed more than $35,000 to help other candidates. Throughout the day Wednesday, pressure mounted for the ouster of Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo and party executive director Juan Peñalosa. Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, Florida’s only statewide elected Democrat, acknowledged that Florida Democrats “suffered some hard losses” on election night. “The Democrats almost bragged about not going door to door, saying, ‘We’re not going to do that, COVID, blah blah blah blah blah,’ and it came to bear on Election Day,” he said.
Florida Republicans call for investigation into Democrats’ PPP loan
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Five Florida congressmen are calling for an investigation into the pandemic relief loan secured by the Florida Democratic Party in May. Republicans have used the $780,000 loan secured by the Democrats in local and national attack ads. We’ve been asking for months, but the Democratic Party of Florida has so far refused to release the loan application. Lying on a PPP loan application is a felony that carries up to five years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine. We reached out to the Democratic Party of Florida for comment on this story and requested a copy of the original loan application.
GOP pushes for answers in Florida Democrats’ PPP loan
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Despite repeated calls from news organizations and the GOP, the Florida Democratic Party has so far refused to release its Payroll Protection Program loan application. Political parties were supposed to be excluded from the PPP loan program, but somehow Democrats got at least $780,000. Now, the GOP is calling for the Small Business Administration to release that information. In documents, Democrats show repaying the money to a different bank than the one that issued the loan. We also asked the Florida Democratic Party why it isn’t releasing the application, but we’ve yet to hear back from them.
Jacksonville leaders: Trump has failed Black community in Duval County
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Joe Biden campaign was in Jacksonville on Thursday with local leaders to discuss how they feel a Biden and Kamala Harris administration would build a better America. “Black and Brown communities have disproportionately been impacted by the public health and economic crisis caused by his mismanagement," Nixon said. They said systemic racism, racial inequalities and community relations with the police are all key issues this election season. In Duval County, there have protests and conversations about police budgets and Confederate monuments. But Gibson at the President Donald Trump’s event in Jacksonville Thursday night, she doesn’t think he will mention those efforts.
Attack ads target Democratic Party PPP loan
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Democratic candidates in the state are now facing attack ads from their Republican opponents, accusing their campaigns of receiving funds from a pandemic assistance loan meant for small businesses. The loan was secured by the Florida Democratic Party earlier this year, but the candidates facing the attacks call them misleading and untrue. You may have received a mailer or even seen a TV spot, accusing a local candidate of receiving funds from a $780,000 PPP loan secured by the Democratic Party in May. Ausley is one of three candidates targeted. A public financial report released in August shows the Democratic Party of Florida paid back the initial loan, with interest.
Joe Biden announces Kamala Harris as running mate; Floridas Tuesday primary election
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. On this edition of This Week in Jacksonville, News4Jax politic analyst Rick Mullaney of Jacksonville Universitys Public Policy Institute discusses Joe Biden selecting Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate. Plus, there are virtual one-on-ones with Republican Party of Florida Chairman Joe Gruters and the Senior Advisor for Down Ballot Elections at the Florida Democratic Party Rose Gonzalez Speers on Floridas primary election Tuesday.
Florida Democrats return PPP money
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. The Florida Democratic Party applied for and received $780,000 from the Payroll Protection Program, but the party should not have applied in the first place. Criticism for accepting the PPP money has come from both inside and outside the Democratic Party. In a statement, the Florida Democratic Party said, in part: The bank, the loan processor and agents of the Small Business Association approved the funding. I really wish that the Trump administration was as responsive when it came to actually funding PPP, said Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nikki Fried, the lone statewide elected Democrat. At least one Tallahassee lobbying firm has also returned PPP money.
Moody, Florida Democratic Party fight primary elections proposal
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Republican Attorney General Ashley Moody and the Florida Democratic Party filed briefsTuesday arguing that the state Supreme Court should block a proposed constitutional amendment that would overhaul Florida's primary-elections process. The political committee All Voters Vote is seeking to put the proposed amendment on the November 2020 ballot. In the briefs filed Tuesday, Moody and the Democratic Party argued that the proposed ballot wording is flawed. "Without clearly and unambiguously informing voters, the proposed amendment changes a century-old primary election system," the brief said. "For the first time since at least 1913, primary voters would not choose a political party's nominee for the general election."
Maddox removed from office after guilty plea
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Three days after admitting guilt to fraud-related charges, Scott Maddox, a former chairman of the Florida Democratic Party, was removed Friday from his position as Tallahassee city commissioner by Gov. Maddox, who also ran in the past for governor, attorney general and agriculture commissioner, pleaded guilty Tuesday to honest-services wire fraud, honest-services mail fraud and conspiracy to defraud the United States. Maddox and Carter-Smith each face a maximum of 45 years in jail and $750,000 in fines when they are sentenced in mid-November. Maddox was suspended from his city position in December by former Gov. Rick Scott after being indicted by a federal grand jury looking at potential corruption in Tallahassee city government.
Corruption task force hints at more indictments to come
Ron DeSantis is expected to officially remove a suspended Tallahassee city commissioner who pleaded guilty to corruption charges. On Tuesday, Maddox and Carter-Smith agreed to plead guilty to three charges -- wire fraud, mail fraud and conspiracy to commit tax fraud. They were originally charged with more than 40 counts each as part of an FBI investigation into corruption at City Hall. The plea agreement signed by Maddox and Carter-Smith references a sealed agreement about future cooperation. But Erwin Jackson, the property owner who took corruption charges to the city commission nearly a decade ago, said it's going to get ugly before it gets better.