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Winning Florida: Election Update

A quick update on the Florida Primary: Candidates we supported won in roughly 70-80% of the races where we contributed, and there are several recounts which could increase this number. 

In the State Senate, we picked sides in three big GOP primaries and were successful in two of these races, and within the three Democratic primaries, we had friends win two.  In the third race, one that will be in a recount over the weekend, we are confident that we will have a friend regardless of who wins.

In the State House, just like in 2010, we had a very good year, starting with the election of FJA member David Kerner in Palm Beach County.  We also defeated longtime nemesis of justice, Michael Grant, a race where we were heavily invested, as well as the election of Tampa lawyer Ross Spano, who does some plaintiff work in his practice.  We successfully defended a number of friendly Democrats and Republicans from incumbent challenges that were funded completely or in part by those who oppose the rights of your clients.

The next phase is about to begin.  We will be invested in a number of key State Senate and State House general elections where we believe we can ensure pro-justice candidates have a real chance to win.  In addition to a more complete wrap-up from last night, in the coming weeks we will profile some of these candidates.

Meet the FJ PAC

Florida. Florida. Florida.

In the early morning hours after the Election Day in 2000, as Florida see-sawed back and forth between Al Gore and George W. Bush, Tim Russert held up a sign that said “Florida.Florida.Florida.”  The nation was learning that night what those of us who live here have known for many years, that there is nothing either routine or boring about elections and politics in Florida.

This year will be no different.  At the top of the ticket, Florida is once again the largest and electorally most significant Presidential battleground.  Following the census in 2010, we picked up two electoral votes, meaning the victor here takes home 29 electoral votes, more than 10% needed to win the White House.  More significantly, no Republican since President Calvin Coolidge in 1924 has won the White House without winning Florida and in those days, we only had 6 electoral votes as the state was barely habitable south of what is known as the I-10 corridor. 

In other words, if Barack Obama wins Florida, he will be re-elected.

The rest of the ballot is no less important.  Senator Nelson faces another potentially tight re-election to the United States Senate, and we will see at least 7-10 competitive Congressional races. Added to this are four controversial constitutional amendments, the contested merit retention of three Supreme Court justices, 16 open State Senate seats and 37 open State House seats, and we have the recipe of an election cycle the likes of which Florida has never seen.  It would be a good year to own a TV station.

While we have more than a passing interest in the ballot at-large, here at the FJA Political Action Committee, we are focused on the state level races, and specifically the work in the legislature.

In 2010, we won roughly 75% of the races where we took an active role, and our goal is to continue that success in 2012, as we focus first on re-electing the friends that we helped in 2010 and work on using all of the open seat opportunities to elect a legislature that is more friendly to the cause of justice.   We succeeded in 2010 despite being grossly outspent by the corporate special interests in Tallahassee.

In the future, we will talk about specific races, but for the meantime, we want to make sure you know who our team is.

Political Director – Steve Schale [Email Steve]
Steve is back for his second election cycle at the helm of our political operation.  Ranked by Politics Magazine and the Tampa Bay Times as one of the most influential political figures in Florida, Steve is best known for managing President Obama’s successful 2008 campaign. 

Legislative Director – Jeff Porter [Email Jeff]
Jeff is now working his fourth election for the Florida Justice Association, this cycle as leader of the Legislative/Lobbying operation.  One of the most respected GOP minds in Florida, Jeff has spent years building relationships with, and helping to elect, pro-civil justice Republicans.

North Florida Director – Kevin Sweeny [Email Kevin]
Kevin joined the FJA in the fall of 2011 and will be working his first cycle for the FJA.  While he may be the new guy on the team, Kevin is an old hand in the legislature, working for more than a decade both in the halls of the Capitol and on the streets of campaigns.

Deputy Assistant to PAC Director – Ami Wheeler [Email Ami]
Ami has been involved with FJ PAC since 1996. Contact Ami for more details about supporting FJ PAC and donating funds to the FJ PAC for the 2012 Election season that is now well underway.

As we will discuss in future columns, there are real opportunities to help grow the ranks of legislators who understand and respect the role of the judiciary. If you have not done so yet, please make a financial commitment to the PAC.  We cannot do this without you.

In the meantime, if you have a question about a candidate or a race, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the political team.