Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren, regarded by Hillsborough County Democrats as a rising political star, is considering a run for state attorney general next year.
In an interview, Warren spoke only vaguely about the possibility of challenging Republican incumbent Ashley Moody, but said people have asked him to consider it and that he’s not ruling it out. Warren said he hasn’t yet sought support for a race.
“I’m giving consideration to how I can best help Florida,” he said. “My focus is on where it’s been – reforming our criminal justice system – but I’m happy to be part of the discussion about how we can make a difference in our communities across the state. I have the impact right now, but I’m open to opportunities where I can make a bigger difference.”
Warren narrowly unseated Republican former State Attorney Mark Ober in 2016 and defeated Republican challenger Mike Perotti by seven points for re-election in 2020.
Diamond raises $250k
State Rep. Ben Diamond, D-St. Petersburg, says he raised more than $250,000 in his first four weeks as a candidate for the District 13 U.S. House seat being vacated by Charlie Crist.
The other filed candidate in the Democratic primary for the race, Eric Lynn, said he raised more than $100,000 in the first five days of his campaign.
Diamond hasn’t yet filed a fundraising report showing the donations but said through a spokesman that more than half the money came from St. Petersburg donors, and that the total included only $1,000 from Diamond himself.
Other prominent Democrats are still considering entering the race.
Hillsborough finally gets new judges
The state budget recently signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis includes money for six long-needed and long-delayed new county court judges in Hillsborough.
Besides helping bring down a huge backlog of cases, the new judgeships will also give DeSantis an opportunity to pick candidates to appoint to the positions.
Judge Ron Ficarrotta, Hillsborough chief judge, said the state Supreme Court has certified the need for new judges for years, but none have been funded since at least 2006, when the county’s population was about 1.1 million.
It’s now over 1.5 million, and the county civil court bench, including about a dozen judges, faces a backlog of more than 100,000 cases, he said.
County civil court is “the people’s court,” where individuals file small-claims cases, often representing themselves, on such matters as landlord-tenant disputes, evictions and windshield damage cases, he said.
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“It’s where citizens have access to the court. It’s their day in court and it’s a big case for them,” Ficarrotta said. “The judges need the time to pay attention to these cases.”
County judgeships are also the entry-level position for jurists who may later seek circuit or appellate judgeships.
Last year, the state Legislature included four new Hillsborough county judges, but DeSantis vetoed it as part of his pandemic-related spending cuts.
This year, two more were added and all six approved by DeSantis.
DeSantis is a member of the Federalist Society, an organization of conservative judges and lawyers who adhere to what they consider a literal interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.
He tends to appoint judges who are also society members, are young and have experience as prosecutors, said Mark Proctor, a local political consultant who specializes in judicial campaigns.
Blackmon passes $100k
St. Petersburg City Council Robert Blackmon says he has raised more than $100,000 for his mayoral campaign and independent political committee since filing May 25.
Blackmon’s campaign finance report shows he raised $21,500 for his campaign from 38 donors between May 25 and May 31, and the rest came into his committee, Prosperous St. Petersburg, which he opened June 2. He said the committee received about one or two dozen contributions, and that he hasn’t yet contributed any of his own money.
The fundraising leader in the race, Darden Rice, raised $30,577 in her campaign and $12,625 in her independent committee in May.
Former County Commissioner Ken Welch raised $25,390 in his campaign and $24,606 in his committee.
Former state Rep. Wengay Newton raised $6,175 in his campaign and $7,000 in his committee. Vince Nowicki raised $5,741 in his campaign, and Marcile Powers $100.
Flynn, MyPillow CEO appearing in Tampa
Retired general and former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, who recently appeared to advocate a military coup to overthrow the U.S. government, has been announced as a speaker at a “Reopen America” conference next week in Tampa.
Also on the program is Mike Lindell, CEO of MyPillow, who has made a national name pushing debunked conspiracy theories that the 2020 presidential election was stolen by massive fraud.
The conference, advertised as sold out, will be held at the River at Tampa Bay Church June 17-19, according to an online announcement by the pro-Trump ThriveTime Show podcast.
Asked during a Dallas conference two weeks ago why a Myanmar-like military coup can’t happen in the U.S., Flynn replied, “No reason. I mean, it should happen here.”
The Myanmar coup overthrew an elected government and led to a brutal crackdown on dissenting protesters and hundreds of deaths. Despite widely publicized video of his comments, Flynn later denied advocating a coup.
Contact William March at email@example.com.