Race to Watch: House District 30 Republican Primary

Incumbent Karen Castor-Dentel had a successful freshmen term in the Florida House. She was a strong advocate for education in the house as she filed five different bills with an education theme.

Castor-Dentel also raised a lot of money.

As of the latest filing period for the end of December, she raised almost $100,000 with $6,173 coming in January.

But the interesting portion of her race is listed on the other side of the political fence.

Republicans Jonathan Sturgill and Robert Cortes are battling for the chance to take down Castor-Dentel. So far, both men have raised a respectable amount of money; $66,235 for Cortes, $25,000 of that amount coming from a personal loan, and $36,717 for Sturgill.

According to Sturgill’s website, he operates Durable Safety Products, wants to “remove government barriers to private-sector job creation and run local and state governments with a business mentality.”

The narrative for Cortes is a little different as he is a city commissioner in Longwood, Florida. He’s held that post since 2009 and recently received the endorsement of every member of the commission along with Representatives Ritch Workman and former Representative Steve Precourt.

As of right now, it would seem that Cortes has a slight edge. He has more money and is a sitting city commissioner. That doesn’t discount Sturgill’s chances, just makes his hill a little tougher to climb.

Even with all of the money, endorsements and stature; which candidate will have enough to take-on the formidable Castor-Dentel?

She’s a sitting representative, has name recognition, money, and precocity. Castor-Dentel may now be considered a political veteran, and she’s savvy enough to use her experience as a lawmaker against her opponents.

Once the general election comes and she faces Strugill or Cortes, which one can convince voters that Castor-Dentel needs to be replaced after two short years in Tallahassee?

-JH

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Rep. Joe Saunders and Sen. Jeff Clemons Divulge Medical Marijuana Legislation

Representative Joe Saunders and Senator Jeff Clemons have filed legislation to legalize the use of medical cannabis in the state of Florida called “The Cathy Jordan Medical Cannabis Act.”

The act is named after Cathy Jordan, a Florida resident currently suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease

Information released to the media by Rep. Saunders and Sen. Clemons outline what’s included in the bill and how it will benefit the public.

The act is geared toward “Floridians with chronic health conditions and disabilities that use or can benefit from the use of marijuana for medical treatment without further suffering from out state’s antiquated drug laws.”

Florida is one of 30 states that outlaw the use of marijuana for medical purposes, but this isn’t the first, or only bill, that will come up for debate in the legislature this year.

Representative Matt Gaetz has filed legislation called “Charlotte’s Web,” a bill that would legalize cannabis with .5 percent and resin from the plant. Gaetz and others who are not in favor of the total legalization of medical marijuana state that “Charlotte’s Web” does not provide a high, only relief from pain.

In addition to the two medical marijuana bills being floated, Orlando attorney John Morgan poured almost $2 million into an initiative to have a constitutional amendment for the legalization of medical marijuana placed on the November ballot.

Regarding Rep. Saunders and Sen. Clemons, their bill promises to save tax dollars for Floridians, but according to the Florida Times-Union, any economic impact from the approval of medical marijuana in Florida is indistinct.

For more information on “The Cathy Jordan Act” and “Charlotte’s Web,” please visit www.myfloridahouse.gov.

-JH

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Florida Representative Bruce Antone Files Self-Defense Bill

Changes to Florida’s much maligned stand your ground law may be on the way.

Florida Representative Bruce Antone filed HB 33, a bill that “requires county sheriff or municipal police to issue reasonable guidelines for operation of crime watch program; authorizes person to use force, except deadly force in defense of property.” The synopsis of the bill may be found here.

Last year House Speaker Will Weatherford and his Republicans colleagues didn’t have much of an appetite for a change to the state’s current self-defense doctrine. Weatherford participated in a hearing on stand your ground, but there was no additional movement on repealing or changing the law.

In addition to Weatherford, Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz said that he wouldn’t change “one damn comma” of SYG, so a change to the current law isn’t trending positive.

For Antone, he has been in favor of at least revisiting the law since SYG was thrust into the national spotlight after the death of Trayvon Martin. The dogma attached to Florida’s self-defense law isn’t ambulatory, something that Antone wants to rectify.

The changes that Atone wants seem reasonable and may have a chance of making it out of the Criminal Justice Subcommittee.

The Florida Legislature convenes for regular session on Tuesday, March 4th. For more information on session and Rep. Antone’s bill, please visit www.myfloridahouse.gov.

-JH

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Will Carlos Lopez-Cantera Help Keep Rick Scott in the Governor’s Mansion?

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Photo courtesy of http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Lt. Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera

Miami-Dade Property Appraiser Carlos Lopez-Cantera was introduced as Governor Rick Scott’s lieutenant governor on Tuesday. Lopez-Cantera is a former legislator who served when Senator Marco Rubio was only known as House Speaker.

Lopez-Cantera is the state’s first Hispanic lieutenant governor and will serve as a bridge to the Hispanic community for Governor Scott.

While Lopez-Cantera may be qualified to serve as Scott’s number two, his pick underscores why the Republican Party continues to struggle in every area but white.

According to the Miami Herald, when asked about immigration and “other policies,” Lopez-Cantera decided not to answer. He instead leaned on the ceremonial nature of the day as his excuse.

Eventually he’ll have to take a position on things like immigration and Medicaid expansion, but I’m sure whatever that position is, it will fall in line with Governor Scott’s history and politics.

Overall, Scott is banking on Lopez-Cantera’s ethnicity and charisma to push him toward another term.

Scott’s potential opponent, former Republican and Florida Governor Charlie Crist, will have money and a swell of anti-Scott support behind him.

Scott can combat any monetary support that Crist will have because his funds are limitless, but will he bank on voters hanging on the superficial nature of Lopez-Cantera’s skin color?

Instead, at least this is my hope, voters will want to know how Lopez-Cantera will aid in growing Florida’s economy, altering or fixing our education system, his stance on crime, recidivism, privatization of our public services and etc…

If Lt. Lopez-Cantera can help Scott fix those problems, and articulate it to Florida’s voters, then maybe Scott has a shot at remaining Florida’s top politician.

-JH

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