1. Florida Politics

March column: Joe Redner for state Senate?

Published Apr. 14, 2016

Joe Redner says he's considering running for the state Senate from District 18, including South Tampa, Westchase and Town 'N Country, as an independent or no-party candidate.

So far, Republican state Rep. Dana Young is the only candidate filed, but local lawyer and Democrat Bob Buesing is considering it.

Redner said he's thinking about it in part because of a report from The Children's Campaign, a child welfare advocacy group, about state funding for pre-kindergarten in Florida.

Based on an Orlando Sentinel analysis, the group reported that state Pre-K funding hasn't gone up in three years and is lower than in 2006.

"Read this and cry for our children," Redner posted on Facebook a few days ago. "Makes me want to run for the state senate."

Redner, who heads a prosperous business complex including real estate and adult entertainment, has plenty of money to self-fund a campaign. He's run for local offices before both as a Democrat and no-party-affiliate, and has strong liberal-libertarian opinions. He's in remission from lung cancer diagnosed in 2011.

Cruz: Dems helping but not taking sides

Two Democratic state House candidates in Hillsborough, Rena Frazier and Lisa Montelione, are getting financial help from the state Democratic Party even though both have primary opponents – Mike Reedy versus Montelione in District 63 and Golnaz Sahebzamani versus Frazier in District 59.

Both are getting staff salaries paid for by the party -- $4,875 worth for Frazier and $5,875 for Montelione so far.

Is the party taking sides in the primaries?

Party spokesman Max Steele responded only that the party hopes for "meaningful gains" in the Legislature and, "We are excited by the robust campaigns Rena Frazier and Lisa Montelione have built."

But Rep. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa, incoming House Democratic leader, said no.

"We're attempting to stay neutral," she said, but, "We have set out fundraising goals, and those that are meeting the goals are getting a little bit of help."

Fundraising notes

Some highlights from the March reports:

• House District 60 GOP primary: A slew of $1,000 contributions from PACs, lobbyists and the development industry got Rebecca Smith off to a fast start, $81,703 in her first month. A $25,000 personal loan boosted Jackie Toledo's total to $50,012.

• Senate District 19 Democratic primary: State Rep. Ed Narain, D-Tampa, is starting with a big lead, $23,725 for the month and $104,060 total, to $22,181 total for Betty Reed and $45,150 for Rep. Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg.

• House District 59: Frazier holds a long lead over Sahebzamani, $80,489 to $24,093. Republican incumbent Ross Spano of Dover stopped raising money for the legislative session but shows $81,044 total.

• House District 63: Montelione shows $14,150 for the month and $46,128 total; Reedy, $2,110 and $24,100. Republican incumbent Shawn Harrison remains dominant with $113,535.

• Hillsborough County Commission District 6 Democratic primary: Brian Willis leads in total raised and claims more contributions than the rest of the field combined: John Dicks, 82 contributions for $29,043, including $15,000 personal loans; Pat Kemp, 282 contributions for $67,515, including a $25,000 personal loan; Tom Scott, 101 contributions for $33,082; and Willis, 504 contributions for $77,005, including $6,350 in personal loans.

• Hillsborough County Commission District 6 GOP primary: A $25,000 personal loan has boosted Tim Schock to $72,425 total, but he still trails Jim Norman's $113,275, even though Norman's fundraising has dropped sharply since his big first month.

• Hillsborough state attorney: Democratic challenger Andrew Warren shows $44,409 for the month and $127,052 total, but still trails incumbent Republican Mark Ober, who has raised $41,990 and $180,925.

• Hillsborough property appraiser: GOP challenger Todd Jones' initial personal loan of $100,000 is keeping him in the lead with $125,940 total to Democratic incumbent Bob Henriquez's $79,736.