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2022 Midterm Election

Charlie Crist: We Need a Governor That Has a Heart

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KISSIMMEE, Fla. (FNN) – Congressman Charlie Crist (D-Fla.) made a stop in downtown Kissimmee as part of his run for governor of the state, in a race that will see him first face current Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Nicole “Nikki” Fried and then incumbent Ron DeSantis.

Crist stated that DeSantis was “on the wrong path” in many issues that affect Florida, like “sending children safely to school, making sure that voters have their right to vote, passing legislation that makes that nearly impossible.”

“I just think we need a governor that has a heart, that cares about Florida, that has compassion,” he said. “Whether it comes to the issue of education…the environment…and what’s critically important, our children, and making sure that parents understand that whoever the governor, or the clerk of the court, or the school board is, that they care and understand that they are our future.”

Crist made the remarks at a local restaurant owned by Jackie Espinoza, a Puerto Rican business owner who is also running for Osceola City Commissioner. He took that opportunity to talk about the importance of respecting the struggles of immigrants, reminding voters that he is the grandson of immigrants from Cyprus and Lebanon.

“We should celebrate people who come into Florida, one of the most diverse states in the country. It’s a strength. People who choose to leave their own country to come here are not forgetting their homeland, they’re seeking a better opportunity, a compassionate, capitalistic country,” he said.

He criticized recent legislation from the state that he said would limit voting rights, considering it “terrible.” “We’re a democracy,” he said. “We’re the shining city on the hill for so many around the globe that look to the United States of America for leadership, a leader for peace, for strength. And there are those who seek to suppress voting rights, it breaks my heart.”

Also present was Kelvin Soto, Osceola Clerk of the Circuit Court, who emphasized the importance of public education. “[Crist] wants to understand the state of public schools in Florida,” he said. “Many people who are in these positions have to make big decisions, and have to understand the importance of keeping our children updated in our schools.”

“Education is the equal opportunity provider in our country,” Crist added. “And every county should have the opportunity to decide on their own how to handle that education, it’s what they were elected for. Osceola knows what’s best for them, Orange County knows what’s best for them, and DeSantis wants to limit that capacity. It’s disrespectful.”

He reiterated that DeSantis has been “very disappointing, whether it’s dealing with the pandemic, not dealing with masks, not advocating vaccines, Florida deserves better. We now have 60,000 of our fellow Floridians dead. That’s more than what we lost in the Vietnam war. I just can’t believe that in this day and age he would mock a guy like [Dr. Anthony] Fauci [medical adviser for the Biden administration].”

If he wins the primary, Crist would run against his second incumbent, as he faced Rick Scott in 2014. DeSantis won in 2018 against Andrew Gillum by a little over 32,000 votes, less than 0.4 percent, which for some is an indication of how divided Florida truly is. Crist is aware of that and he considers it important to work with others to overcome the gap.

“Most say ‘we have a Republican governor, a Republican house, so the heck with you all, we’re going to do whatever we want.’ That’s no way to bring people together, that’s more divisive. We don’t need more divisiveness. We need to do what in my opinion President [Joe] Biden is doing, which is try to bring the country back together, and in this case bring Florida back together. Florida is a beautiful place and all people want is to have great education for their children, a safe community to raise them in, a good environment to keep tourism strong and our economy strong. We’re not divided in some of the most basic and important issues, and I will work to achieve that.” – Congressman and Florida gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist

 

And about people that will refuse to work together? “You never give up. There is too much that we are blessed with. Some aren’t going to come along, I’m not that naive. But you can’t give up. The more you try, the more some will come along and want to work together to make our state strong.”

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Juan Carlo Rodriguez is a politics and entertainment writer for Florida National News, and the Content Coordinator for FNN News en Español. | info@floridanationalnews.com

2022 Midterm Election

Voters Question Unemployed Rita Harris’s $10,000 Campaign Loan

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Jennifer Rita Harris speaks during the Tiger Bay Club of Central Florida's candidate forum. Image: WESH 2 News (screen capture).

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – Jennifer “Rita” Harris nabbed the victory in Tuesday’s primary, defeating incumbent State Rep. Daisy Morales by eight percentage points (just over 1,000 votes).

Despite that, heated conversations have continued on social media even in the aftermath of the election, and some concerned voters pointed out Rita Harris’s $10,000 campaign loan in the final two weeks of the election. According to Harris’s campaign financial reports with the Florida Division of Elections, she (under the misspelled Jennifer Harris with the typo “Jennider”) loaned her campaign $10,000 on August 12, 2022, despite having what the Orlando Sentinel reported as a $78,000 IRS tax debt.

Some comments also rehashed the contribution by Harris’s adult daughter, who is listed as unemployed on the report and as a dependent in Harris’s tax forms (included in Harris’s financial disclosure), but donated $1,000 to Harris’s campaign.

As an aside, other campaign donations include her husband’s $1,000 donation as well as $1,000 from Valeo Cloud Consulting, a company for which her husband is a partner.

Jennifer Rita Harris (right), her husband John and daughter Anissa. Photo: Facebook (Jennifer "Rita" Harris for FL HD 44).

Jennifer Rita Harris (right), her husband John and daughter Anissa. Photo: Facebook (Jennifer “Rita” Harris for FL HD 44).

More concerningly, Harris has loaned her campaign money several times, but for whatever reason alternated between listing herself as Rita Harris and Jennifer Harris and bounced between using her campaign PO Box and her personal address for each. She didn’t assign the PO Box address for one name and the home for the other, she mixed the addresses between both names. Additionally, while most of the donations have her listed as “Not Employed” or “Candidate,” there’s one $50 loan on April 5, 2022, in she’s described as “Writer.” This is a contrast to her touting herself as a housewife and, as she explained to the Orlando Sentinel in a recent article, doesn’t receive a paycheck from her husband’s company, Harris Cloud Consulting, for which she named herself as CEO on her LinkedIn profile.

Source: Florida Division of Elections.

Source: Florida Division of Elections.

Source: Florida Division of Elections.

Source: Florida Division of Elections.

 

Campaign’s Quiet Corrections

Florida National News reached out to the Rita Harris campaign via email at 4:04pm Thursday for clarification, but received no response. (The screenshot above were taken earlier in the day.) Interestingly enough, after revisiting the Florida Division of Elections site to review Harris’s reports again at 6:30pm, Florida National News discovered that the names were corrected to Jennifer Rita Harris (except the June 15, 2022 donation for $275 which is listed as Jennifer Harris), the occupation for all five donations are now listed as “Candidate” and all of the donations have been corrected to reflect that they’re loans instead of just checks.

This still begs the question: Where did Harris get the $10,000 from? All eyes and negative comments flew at State Rep. Morales after she announced her $50,000 campaign loan. Scrutiny is no respecter of persons–at least it shouldn’t be, and has been over the course of the HD 44 race.

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2022 Midterm Election

Orlando Sentinel Endorses Angel Perry for Florida House District 36

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Florida House District 36 candidate Angel Perry. Photo: Angel Perry campaign.

SANFORD, Fla. – The Angel Perry campaign announced today that the Orlando Sentinel has endorsed the Republican candidate in her bid for Florida House District 36.

Perry’s campaign priorities include following and protecting the Constitution, including keeping the Second Amendment intact; protecting and paying our first responders well, creating more programs for our veterans so that they can live out their days in success and prosperity, creating more opportunities for small businesses to thrive, and transparency and accountability for all elected officials.

Perry has a chance to make history with a November win–it would make her the first African American Republican woman from Central Florida to be elected to the Florida House. She has two Republican opponents in the August 23rd Republican primary for House District 36: Richard Santos and Rachel Plakon.

The Orlando Sentinel lavished cautious praise in their endorsement of Perry.

“Angelique “Angel” Perry has her eyes on the prize. Her positions are every bit as conservatively dogmatic as Plakon and Santos. And her calm demeanor and focus could make her a formidable presence in Tallahassee, where she’d bring a welcome fresh perspective on the challenges facing Florida in the coming two years. That’s not to say we agree with her, because there are few areas where we do… If voters want solid Republican ideology, free of baggage and uncertainty, she’s the best choice.”

 

“For too long the government has done nothing but in-fighting while the work of the people is not getting done,” Angel Perry said in her press statement. “I don’t have to reach across the aisle–my record shows I can work with all viewpoints without compromising my beliefs.

“We the people mean everyone together. There is no way forward without that. A left-leaning newspaper’s endorsement of a right wing conservative is proof in the pudding and I am very grateful for the Orlando Sentinel’s endorsement.”

For more information, visit angel4florida.com.

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2022 Midterm Election

State Representative Daisy Morales Pumps $50K into HD 44 Campaign

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Photos courtesy of the Daisy Morales and Rita Harris campaigns.

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – State Representative Daisy Morales’s re-election campaign announced today she has added $50,000 to her campaign coffers in addition to incoming donations.

The campaign plans to make media ad buys over its final few weeks leading up to the August 23rd primary.

According to the most recent campaign finance reports on the Florida Division of Elections website, Rep. Morales’s campaign now sits at approximately $62,000 cash on hand after expenses while her primary opponent Jennifer “Rita” Harris has approximately $11,800 in campaign funding after expenses.

I wanted to have a war chest available to me,” Rep. Morales said in the campaign press release. “I have an eight-year track record of winning elections in Orange County, having won four of them and defeating nine opponents who had more endorsements and greater funding than I did. I have name recognition countywide thanks to the strong relationships I’ve built in the community, and a track record of working across the aisle in Tallahassee to get key legislation signed into law.”

Rep. Morales touched on some of her campaign priorities in the press release, and continued to beat the drum about her track record.

Inflation, our current affordable housing crisis, healthcare and public safety are still the most pressing issues on voters’ minds. I’ve already sponsored and co-sponsored dozens of key bills addressing these challenges that will benefit Floridians and have been signed into law by the governor.”

One such legislation is House Bill 13, the taxation bill Rep. Morales sponsored with Rep. Mike Gottlieb, which was moved into the bigger Taxation Bill, CS/HB 1707, which she co-sponsored. This taxation bill provides the largest tax cut in Florida’s history. It increases the property tax exemption for residents who are widows, widowers, blind persons, or disabled persons from $500 to $5,000, reduces sales taxes and expands several tax holidays. The governor signed the bill into law in May.

In a recent interview with FNN News, Rep. Morales expressed another major reason for the extra campaign funding boost. She wants to continue her work in Tallahassee in order to draft her Active Shooter Alert bill again, especially after another deadly shooting–this one taking place in downtown Orlando Sunday, injuring seven people.

The Active Shooter Alert would function similar to the Amber, Silver and Purple alerts that come through on cell phones, alerting Florida residents of an active shooter that is on the move, which would allow for people to find safety before the shooter can cross state lines into Florida or get close enough in a city or township to cause massive damage. Gun violence is a huge problem, and the Active Shooter Alert is at least one solution that can save lives.

Morales highlighted the urgent importance of the Active Shooter Alert shortly after the mass shooting in Atlanta, killing Asian massage parlor employees. The shooter, who is in custody, had originally planned to travel to Florida after his carnage in Atlanta had he not been apprehended. She sounded off on it again after the disgruntled shooter in New York City was apprehended.

Morales’s list of campaign priorities is long, but she said she’s ready to take them on.

“Real change takes time,” she said, “And I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues in Tallahassee to make even more tangible improvements to Floridians’ quality of life.”

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