ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) – U.S. Representative Val Demings is a tough act to follow…or precede. Rep. Demings delivered her campaign speech at the Florida Democratic Party’s Leadership Blue Gala at the Orange County Convention Center Saturday.
The U.S. Senate candidate–a former Orlando Police Chief, two term Congresswoman, an impeachment manager for President Donald Trump’s first Senate trial and one of the top contenders to be Joe Biden’s vice presidential running mate–stepped on stage to Katy Perry’s “Roar,” energizing the Florida Democratic Party crowd which had been waiting on the sideline for a major rock star.
Rep. Demings opened her speech with a statement of intent paraphrased from special guest House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn. “I want to make the greatness of America accessible and affordable for all Americans.”
Congresswoman Demings–the first lady of Orange County, Florida–had another reason to celebrate: December 4th, 2018 was the date in which her husband, then Sheriff Jerry Demings, was sworn in as the county’s first African American mayor.
Rep. Demings used her campaign speech to remind her party of its priorities. She hammered home the “kitchen table” issues: gas prices, health insurance for all, decent wages, and voting rights. She also affirmed the recently passed infrastructure law.
Politico reported last month on Rep. Val Demings constantly blasting Rubio for not being among the 12+ GOP senators who voted for the infrastructure bill. “There are 408 bridges and more than 3,564 miles of highway in poor condition across Florida,” she said on Twitter. “The Sunshine State is set to repair roads and bridges thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Marco Rubio voted against this. I voted for it.”
Am I Right About That?
Her speech had a refrain that commanded a response. After every talking point, she shouted, “Am I right about it?” or “Am I right about that?” which garnered a hearty “Yeah!” from the crowd every time.
“You are the only hope for our state and for our nation. Am I right about it?”
“The Democratic agenda includes people who have to go to work every day, making a wage that’s truly livable, am I right about that?”
“The Democratic agenda believes that every child, regardless of who they are, the color of their skin, where they live, how much money their parents have in the bank, and we should have access to a quality education, and pay teachers what they’re worth. Am I right about that?”
“The Democratic agenda believes that seniors, after they’ve worked hard all of their lives, deserve to be able to retire with dignity and respect. Am I right about that?”
“The Democratic agenda does not believe that you can lie, cheat and steal your way into office, but to believe in the Constitution, uphold the rule of law and protect our Democracy. Am I right about that?”
“The Democratic agenda believes in a woman’s right to choose. Am I right about that?”
“The Democratic agenda believes in the people’s right to vote. Am I right about that?”
“The Democratic agenda believes that people choose their representatives, and the representatives don’t choose…their voters. Am I right about that?”
Rep. Demings lit up the audience with a reminder that doubled as an exhortation. “We are not going back, we are not shutting up, we are not sitting down. We are going to fight, and fight, and fight some more!”
She closed saying, “With your help, come this time in 2022, I will be elected the next United States Senator from the great state of Florida.”
Prior to Rep. Demings’s speech was Commissioner Ken Russell, Vice Chair of the Miami City Commission, who is also running for Sen. Rubio’s seat. While he made several key points on what the Democrats should focus on, he was still too new for even the Democratic party to acknowledge as a serious contender–the audience barely listened to him. Rep. Demings is shaping up to be the champion to return the U.S. Senate seats to Florida Democrats.
Mellissa Thomas is Editor for Florida National News. J Willie David, III contributed to this report. | email@example.com
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.”
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