MIAMI, Fla. (FNN) – Florida Rising announced the endorsement of 66 candidates across the state ahead of the 2022 primaries and midterms.
Florida Rising endorsements were first announced by Politico July 7. The list included many candidates that don’t have primaries, but Florida Rising is also throwing its support behind some Democrats that do: Rep. Frederica Wilson, State Sen. Shevrin Jones and State Reps. Daryl Campbell, Marie Woodson, Angie Nixon, Travaris McCurdy, and Daisy Morales, as well as State Rep. Tracie Davis in the primary for State Senate District 5, State Rep. Kamia Brown for State Senate District 15 and Ashley Gantt, who is challenging incumbent State Rep. James Bush.
In past years, Florida Rising’s legacy organizations had been influential in state and national level races and initiatives, including the push for Amendment 4 and bringing the Governor and Senate races to recounts and a margin of less than a percent in 2018. In 2020, the organizations were part of efforts that knocked on 1.3 million doors and activated a large-scale virtual organizing program that made 18.1 million phone calls and sent 6.3 million texts, resulting in conversations with 1.24 million voters that helped turn out over 300,000 first-time voters and catalyze historic voter mobilization. Florida Rising’s endorsed candidates won in 95 out of 132 races.
This year, Florida Rising prioritized the issues foremost on Floridians’ minds: housing, jobs, criminal systems reform, reproductive rights, and a plan to take action on the climate emergency that make up the pillars of the Justice on Every Block campaign.
Among the list of 66 candidates across 12 counties that Florida Rising is endorsing are the first out LGBTQ+ Latinas if elected, Eunice Ortiz and Janelle Perez, and those who spoke out against the Don’t Say Gay bill pushed by Governor Ron DeSantis in the last legislative session such as Sen. Shevrin Jones, Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, and Rep. Tracie Davis of Jacksonville. It includes long-time Haitian community organizer in South Florida, Marleine Bastien, as well as members of Florida Rising running for office such as Guerdy Remy in Seminole County.
Andrea Cristina Mercado, Executive Director of Florida Rising, explains the need to get out the vote and elect these progressive champions:
“We are proud to endorse candidates who are committed to putting Floridians first. The cost of rent is too high and the state’s GOP is doing nothing about it. The threat of climate chaos is too real and the state’s GOP is creating roadblocks to clean energy. The state we live in is beautiful and diverse and Florida’s GOP is banning Black history, LGBTQ+ rights, and access to abortion and a self-determined future.”
“It’s time for Floridians to be represented by elected officials that care about people instead of corporate interests,” Florida Rising declared on its website. “Now it’s the time to step up and elect folks up and down the ballot, from municipal to federal level. The stakes have never been higher. Reproductive rights, climate justice, housing justice, and the expansion of democracy are all on the ballot and dozens of Floridians are running to ensure these issues get addressed, and Florida Rising is proud to endorse them.”
Voters Question Unemployed Rita Harris’s $10,000 Campaign Loan
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.
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.
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.
Orlando Sentinel Endorses Angel Perry for Florida House District 36
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.
State Representative Daisy Morales Pumps $50K into HD 44 Campaign
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.”