‘Compassionate capitalist’ John Morgan has ‘no clue’ on indie run for governor

Trial lawyer John Morgan talks about his distaste for the Democratic and Republican parties in a new video.

Trial lawyer John Morgan, until last week the target of much speculation as a potential Democratic candidate for Florida governor, said today he doesn’t fit in with Democrats or Republicans and currently has “no clue and no thoughts” about a potential independent run in 2018.

Morgan announced Friday he wouldn’t run as Democrat and would switch his voter registration to independent.

In a video posted on his Twitter account this afternoon, Morgan offered “some of my thoughts on what I was thinking before making my decision this past week.”

Morgan called himself a “compassionate capitalist” who is “somewhere in the middle” between Republicans and Democrats. He mentioned two Republican friends he says he often agrees with: Florida Senate President-designate Bill Galvano and House Speaker Richard Corcoran, though he specifically noted he differs with Corcoran’s support for charter schools.

Morgan faulted Republicans for pushing a tax reform plan in Congress that Morgan says will benefit the rich and blow up the national debt.

“These conservatives are not conservative at all,” Morgan said.

“The Democratic Party, it seems like just give away, give away, free, free, free,” Morgan said. “I’m a person that believes that you spend what you have and when you don’t have any more you stop spending.”

Morgan added: “People are asking me, ‘Are you going to run as an independent?’ I have no clue and no thoughts about that right now. I’m in my budget meetings right now for all my businesses.”

 

 

 

John Morgan rules out Democratic bid for Florida governor; is indie run possible?

John Morgan at a 2014 event supporting medical marijuana (Erica Brough/The Gainesville Sun)

Trial lawyer John Morgan who has topped at least one poll for the Democratic nomination for Florida governor in 2018 — told Twitter followers this morning he won’t seek the party’s nomination.

Morgan, the state’s leading advocate for medical marijuana legalization, dangled the possibility of an independent bid in a subsequent tweet.

“Spent all of Thanksgiving with my whole family. While it’s amazing to be leading the polls for Governor without being a candidate I can’t muster the enthusiasm to run for the nomination,” Morgan tweeted at 9:56 a.m.

In a subsequent tweet, Morgan added: “And I can’t muster enthusiasm for any of today’s politicians. They are all the same. Both parties. I plan to register as an Independent and when I vote, vote for the lesser of two evils. And if I ever ran, run as an Independent. #ForThePeople.”

Morgan has been a huge wild card in the Democratic race. The Lake Mary resident has never run for office, but has been active in politics as a Democratic fundraiser and the prime mover behind the successful 2014 medical marijuana amendment to the Florida constitution. He also has high name recognition through his statewide Morgan & Morgan personal injury law firm.

A September poll by the Florida Chamber of Commerce found Morgan leading the field of potential and declared Democratic candidates for governor with 23 percent, followed by former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham at 16 percent. Graham, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Winter Park businessman Chris King and Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine have opened Democratic campaigns for governor.

The Republican field includes Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and state Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, with House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land-O’Lakes, and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Palm Coast, expected to open campaigns as well.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott faces term limits in 2018.

 

Palm Beach billionaire not ruling out run for governor

Palm Beach billionaire Jeff Greene hasn’t shut the door on a Democratic bid for governor.

Billionaire real estate investor Jeff Greene — ranked 62 spots higher than Palm Beach neighbor Donald Trump on the latest Forbes 400 list — says he’d like to be Florida governor and thinks he’d be effective in the job.

“It would be a blast. I think I could really make a difference,” Democrat Greene said Wednesday of the governorship.

But Greene, who lost a 2010 Democratic primary bid for U.S. Senate, said he has major reservations about running for office and the toll it would take on his family.

He said he’ll make a final decision by the spring.

“If it was just my wife and me, I would do this in a minute,” said Greene, who has three young children.

Greene brought pundits, politicians and business leaders to a “Managing the Disruption” conference on technology and the economy this year in Palm Beach and says he has a better “understanding of where the economy is and where it’s going” than other candidates.

Greene said he’s talked with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham and likely candidate Philip Levine, the Miami Beach mayor who’s also a multimillionaire.

“I think they could both be successful governors,” Greene said. But Greene says he has a better grasp of modern economic affairs.

“We’re heading into treacherous waters. I don’t think that any of these guys really get it,” Greene said.

None of the Democrats running to succeed term-limited Republican Gov. Rick Scott has caught fire with voters or donors.

A recent Florida Chamber of Commerce poll found 44 percent of Florida Democrats undecided on a candidate for governor and 23 percent favoring trial lawyer John Morgan, who hasn’t said whether he’ll run. Graham led among declared Democrats with 16 percent in the chamber poll. In September, declared and potential Republican candidates for governor and their associated committees outraised Democratic candidates and committees by a 5-to-1 margin.

That’s why Greene doesn’t seem pressed to make a final decision on running yet.

“Nobody’s interested in this race now,” Greene said.

 

Florida Chamber poll: Scott-Nelson tight; undeclared John Morgan tops Dems for governor

Republican Gov. Rick Scott, left, is expected to challenge Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson next year. (Photos by George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

An expected 2018 Senate showdown between three-term Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican Gov. Rick Scott is too close to call, according to a poll released today by the business-backed Florida Chamber Political Institute.

John Morgan at a 2014 event supporting medical marijuana. (Gainesville Sun photo)

The Chamber poll also finds 44 percent of Democrats and 59 percent of Republicans undecided about their parties’ candidates for governor in 2018.

Among voters with an opinion, trial lawyer and marijuana legalization advocate John Morgan leads the Democratic field for governor even though Morgan hasn’t said whether he’ll run. In the race for the Republican nomination for governor, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has a big early advantage over his declared and potential rivals.

Scott, who faces term limits as governor next year and has been urged to run for Senate by President Donald Trump, edges Nelson by a 47-to-45 percent margin in the Chamber poll — essentially a tie considering the poll’s 4 percent margin of error.

The survey of 615 likely voters was conducted Sept. 17-24 — a week after Hurricane Irma — by Cherry Communications using live telephone interviews.

Scott is viewed favorably by 57 percent and unfavorably by 38 percent in the poll. Nelson’s favorable/unfavorable score is 50/22.

Three Democrats have opened 2018 campaigns and raised serious money for governor: Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham and Winter Park businessman Chris King. But the undeclared Morgan tops the field with 23 percent to 16 percent for Graham and other candidates in single digits.

Morgan is viewed favorably by 26 percent of voters in the poll and unfavorably by 20 percent, with 35 percent saying they’ve never heard of him. Graham has a 19 percent favorable and 7 percent unfavorable rating, with 58 percent saying they haven’t heard of her. Gillum is unknown to 72 percent and King 77 percent.

Among Republicans, Putnam leads the gubernatorial field with 26 percent, followed by U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Palm Coast, at 9 percent. DeSantis has said he’ll announce this fall whether he’s running for governor. State Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, who opened a campaign for governor in August, gets 2 percent and another potential candidate, House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land-O’Lakes, gets 1 percent.

Poll: Floridians on Nelson-Scott Senate race, Trump, Confederate statues

Floridians’ views on Gov. Rick Scott, Sen. Bill Nelson, President Donald Trump and Confederate statues were measured in a new FAU poll.

An expected 2018 Senate race between Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican Gov. Rick Scott is a virtual tie, according to a new Florida Atlantic University poll, which also finds wide-open Republican and Democratic primary races for governor and mixed views on President Donald Trump‘s “both sides” remarks about Charlottesville.

While Floridians appear unclear about which candidates they prefer for Senate and governor, they have more pronounced views on statues of Confederate figures in public places. Forty-nine percent say the statues should remain. Thirty percent say they should be removed, as three Democratic candidates for governor advocated Monday in West Palm Beach.

FAU’s poll of 800 registered Florida voters, conducted last Thursday through Saturday, shows three-term incumbent Sen. Nelson getting 42 percent and term-limited Gov. Scott getting 40 percent in a hypothetical Senate race. That’s a virtual tie considering the poll’s 4 percent margin of error.

Scott hasn’t announced his 2018 plans, but the expectation he’ll run for Senate is so great that no other Republicans have entered the race.

In the race to replace Scott as governor, 53 percent of Republican voters say they’re undecided on a nominee a year before the primary. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is the leading GOP candidate with 27 percent, while recently declared state Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, gets 2 percent. Two potential candidates — House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land-O’Lakes, and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Palm Coast — get 10 percent and 9 percent, respectively.

The Democratic gubernatorial race is also very much up for grabs, with a 47 percent plurality saying they are undecided and trial lawyer John Morgan — who hasn’t said whether he’ll run — leading the field with 19 percent. Former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham gets 14 percent, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum 9 percent, undeclared Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine 8 percent and Winter Park businessman Chris King 4 percent.

Part-time Palm Beach resident Trump gets a 37 percent job approval rating in the FAU poll, with 47 percent disapproving. Nationally, the RealClearPolitics.com average of polls shows Trump with a 38.5 percent approval score and 55.6 disapproval rating.

Asked about Trump’s declaration that “both sides” bore blame for the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, 44 percent of Floridians disagreed and 42 percent agreed, with 14 percent undecided.

 

 

 

Will potential Democratic governor candidate cash in on the eclipse?

Trial lawyer and potential Democratic governor candidate John Morgan is promoting eclipse-viewing safety, and offering his firm’s services if things go bad.

Trial lawyer and potential Florida Democratic candidate for governor John Morgan is cautioning people to be safe when viewing today’s solar eclipse — and promoting his firm’s litigatory services in case eclipse viewing goes bad.

And speaking of promotion, click here for more Palm Beach Post eclipse coverage.

Morgan today tweeted a link to an article on his Morgan & Morgan law firm’s website titled “The Dark Side of the Solar Eclipse.”

 

The article warns of “special sunglasses that allow people to view the solar eclipse without seemingly having to worry about damage to their eyes. The only problem is that not all of them work, setting up a safety and product liability nightmare.” Included is a link to Morgan & Morgan’s product liability practice area.

“The spectacle and perhaps anxiety the eclipse fosters could cause gridlock and motor vehicle accidents,” the article continues — with a link to the Morgan & Morgan car accident practice.

Planning to watch the eclipse on someone else’s property?

“Property owners…could open themselves up to liability for slip-and-fall and other premises liability claims if they don’t take proper precautions to ensure their property follows all relevant laws,” the Morgan & Morgan article says, with links to the firm’s slip-and-fall and premises liability specialties. “If you’re an eclipse viewer and you’re hurt on someone else’s property, you could have a claim, depending on the circumstance.”

 

Dem candidate says he talked to FBI, is ‘not the focus of an investigation’

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum at the Florida Democratic Party’s Leadership Blue gathering in Hollywood last week. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

Tallahassee Mayor and 2018 Democratic governor candidate Andrew Gillum said he spoke to the FBI last week about  corruption allegations in his city and was assured he is “not the focus of an investigation.”

The Associated Press reported that the FBI is looking into deals involving the local Community Redevelopment Agency and local businesses and developers. A federal grand jury issued subpoenas seeking five years of records from the city and the CRA involving specific people and projects, the AP said. Gillum is a CRA board member.

2018 Florida governor’s race already well underway

Hollywood love fest for Democratic governor candidates

“The list of individuals, corporations and entities in both subpoenas include donors to Gillum and a political committee backing his run for governor,” the AP reported.

Gillum today pledged cooperation with the investigation.

His statement, released by the city:

“Last week the FBI approached me about several people and businesses here in Tallahassee. I spoke with them, and told them they could expect both the City and my personal cooperation with their investigation. They assured me I was not the focus of an investigation, and that they would be moving quickly with their work. 

“I take any allegation of corruption in the City of Tallahassee very seriously, and I am committed to rooting it out in its entirety. If corruption has taken place in our city, those parties must be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law. We will not tolerate, enable, or turn a blind eye to corruption.

“While no one likes the City being under the FBI’s scrutiny, in light of what is happening nationally, we must remember that the FBI is here to protect us and we must aid them in their work. They have my full support and cooperation as the Mayor, and the full cooperation of the City of Tallahassee.” 

Gillum, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham and Winter Park businessman Chris King have launched Democratic campaigns for governor. Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and trial lawyer John Morgan are other potential Democratic candidates.

 

 

Florida governor’s race: Who are all these people?

Here are 21 of the declared or potential 2018 candidates for Florida governor. How many can you name? Hint: they’re arranged in alphabetical order and one announced candidate isn’t included because PostOnPolitcs couldn’t track down a photo.

With Republican Gov. Rick Scott facing term limits next year, 18 candidates have opened campaigns so far for the 2018 Florida governor’s race.

The Florida Division of Elections list of active candidates for governor.

At least four other prominent figures are considering campaigns.

Click here for an early look at some of the major declared and potential candidates. But keep in mind that such a list eight years ago probably wouldn’t have included Scott, the political neophyte who didn’t open his self-financed campaign until April 2010.

So far there are nine Republicans, six Democrats, a Libertarian and two no-party candidates who have opened campaigns.

The deadline for candidates to qualify for the ballot is nearly 13 months away — June 22, 2018. Primaries are Aug. 28, 2018 and the general election is Nov. 6, 2018.

 

 

Too early? 2018 Florida governor’s race is well underway

Some of the actual or potential 2018 candidates for Florida governor. Top, from left: Republican Richard Corcoran, Democrats Andrew Gillum, Gwen Graham, Chris King. Bottom, from left: Republican Jack Latvala, Democrat Philip Levine, Republican Adam Putnam, Democrat John Morgan.

With primaries still 15 months away and the general election 17 months off in a state that has a history of upending early conventional wisdom, most Florida voters haven’t begun to focus on the 2018 governor’s race.

But the campaign is well underway.

With Republican Gov. Rick Scott facing term limits, nine Republicans and six Democrats — most of them political unknowns — have formally opened campaigns. A Libertarian and two no-party candidates have also filed 2018 paperwork with the Florida Division of Elections. And more potential candidates are giving the race a look.

Click here to read an early preview of the Republican and Democratic primary fields.

 

Democrat Philip Levine floats indy trial balloon for governor’s race

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine has long been expected to enter the 2018 race for the Democratic nomination for governor later this year.

But Tampa Bay Times Political Editor Adam Smith notes that Levine, a registered Democrat and major Democratic donor, raised another possibility at a Tiger Bay lunch in Tampa on Friday.

When asked about working with a Republican-controlled legislature, Levine said: “There’s one assumption that you made there – that somehow if I ran for governor I would be a Democratic governor…Too much is about Democrat and Republican. It needs to be about the people. … Maybe possibly it’s time we do something different.”

Levine highlighted Smith’s article on Twitter and Facebook over the weekend:

The Democratic field already includes former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and businessman Chris King, with trial lawyer John Morgan considering the race as well.

The last major independent candidate to run statewide was Charlie Crist, who began a 2010 campaign for Senate as the state’s elected Republican governor but left the party when Marco Rubio overtook him in GOP polls. Running as a no-party candidate with universal name recognition as the sittitng governor, Crist got 29.7 percent in the 2010 general election for Senate. Rubio won with 48.9 percent and Democrat Kendrick Meek got 20.2 percent.