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    Governor Scott is right. Pariente should recuse herself.


    With the rise of the “Indivisible” movement and their success earlier this month (they did not even wait to be sworn in before promising large spending increases and a progressive social agenda in the places they won), it’s important to understand how they operate: the radical left thrives on chaos, and by sowing seeds of distrust in our constitution and institutions. They never let a good crisis go to waste before proposing big government solutions to the problems big government created.

    This is what makes the looming showdown between Governor Scott and Justice Pariente so important. Progressives would love nothing more than the chaos of a constitutional crisis, and Pariente seems hell-bent on making that happen. Here’s the story:

    Florida law requires judges who reach the age of 70 retire at the end of their term. Three Justices on Florida’s Supreme Court (Pariente, Quince and Lewis) will be forced to retire on January 8, 2019, which also happens to be Rick Scott’s last day in office. Rick Scott believes that he will be able to appoint their replacements. The Democrats believe that Rick Scott’s successor (who they hope will be Democrat) should make the appointments.

    What would happen if the Democrats won the Governor’s mansion, and both Rick Scott and a new Democrat Governor appointed three Justices? Who would be seated? Who would rule on the resulting legal challenges? It would be the very type of constitutional crisis progressives crave to undermine confidence in the institution of the Supreme Court.

    The League of Women voters filed a lawsuit to settle the matter. Here’s the problem: one of the Justices who will rule on who gets make the appointments is none other than Justice Pariente, who in 2012 was brazenly critical of a sitting governor, campaigned to get re-elected on the premise that Rick Scott should not be allowed to replace her successor. Anybody wonder how she will rule on this case?

    I was running a statewide campaign to educate voters on these Justices at the time, and was critical of her obvious partiality (read here). Justice Pariente has shown remarkable persistence in her longstanding goal of preventing Rick Scott from appointing her successor, and will apparently continue this fight until she retires. She has already made up her mind before this case ever reaches her desk and like a good activist judge will use this case to push her political agenda, regardless of the law and facts of the case.

    If Pariente does not recuse herself, progressives will get what they want. If Pariente makes a mockery of the court by issuing a pre-determined ruling, it would do as much damage to public confidence in the court as the January 2019 showdown the case is trying to avert.

    Please thank Governor Scott for doing the right thing by demanding Pariente be recused. And let’s deny progressives what they want by fighting Indivisible at the ballot box so that we win our state and local races. That might be the only way we can make this issue go away.

    Jesse Phillips
    Seminole GOP State Committeeman

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    Florida to Puerto Rico Response Team

    My friend, and our State Representative, Bob Cortes may have as many as 7 relatives evacuate Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. In light of the devastation, he has joined with his colleague Rene “Coach P” Plasencia and a bi-partisan group of lawmakers to form the “Florida to Puerto Rico Response Team,” a partnership between public and private sectors to assist in recovery efforts.

    FL2PRThe goal of the team will be to assist with infrastructure recovery efforts, coordinate logistics of disaster supplies, assist evacuees with issues of education, healthcare, etc, and create regional “service centers” using their district offices to provide assistance and information for those relocating.

    I encourage you to support FL2PR, first by “liking” their Facebook page and sharing it with your friends and then reaching out to your state representative to ask how you can help.

    Also, there is also a relief effort ”I-4 for Puerto Rico” being spearheaded by Orange County Trump Chairman Randy Ross in partnership with Americorps to deliver supplies to Puerto Rico. They have drop off locations in Orange and Seminole Counties. The Rollins Women’s Volleyball Team is helping with the drive and has provided information on how you can contribute.

    Our hearts definitely ache for those who will be suffering the effects for a long time to come. As Rep. Plascencia put it, “the island’s infrastructure is literally being rebuilt.” It is encouraging to see our state and region taking a leadership role in the long path to recovery.

    - Jesse P.

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    Changing Hearts on Abortion, the story of Norma “Jane Roe” McCorvey


    You may have heard that Norma McCorvey, the “Roe” of Roe v. Wade has died. What some people don’t know is that later in her life, she became a staunch pro-life advocate. The thing that changed her heart on the issue was the simple science of a fetal development poster. Seeing the development of life in the womb had quite an impact.

    As I have reflected on her passing, I have been inspired by her personal journey, and I wrote about it in an op-ed recently published by the Orlando Sentinel (read it here). Defending life at every stage is an important part of our party’s platform. Let’s renew our commitment to the weakest and most vulnerable who cannot yet speak for themselves.

    Here is a powerful quote from McCorvey, describing the moment her heart changed on the issue:

    “The progression was so obvious. It hurt my heart, just looking at them. I ran outside and finally, it dawned on me. Something in that poster made me lose my breath. I kept seeing the picture of that tiny, 10-week-old embryo, and I said to myself, that’s a baby! It’s as if blinders just fell off my eyes and I suddenly understood the truth — that’s a baby!” - Norma McCorvey, “Won By Love”

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    Inauguration 2017: Hope for Real Change


    This Friday, we will witness the inauguration of President Donald Trump. Unlike 2008, when President Obama rode into D.C. on promises of hope and change that he would fail to deliver, things are going to be different this time.

    The Orlando Sentinel published my op-ed on Trump’s Inauguration in yesterday’s paper. I wanted to make sure you saw it. You can click to read it here.

    Here are a few excerpts:

    “The inauguration of Donald Trump as our 45th president marks a new chapter in American history, in which President Trump will do what the 44 men before him did — transition from campaigning to governing. And there is reason for optimism as this chapter is turned.”

    “Our hope for change does not lie in the naive belief that [as Obama said] ’there is not a liberal America and conservative America.’ Of course there is. The difference is conservative ideas actually work and improve the lives of everyone, liberals included.”

    “The election of 2008 was historic. If the Democrats had delivered on candidate Obama’s promises, Hillary Clinton would likely be president today. The difference this time around is we care enough about these problems to do something about it. And with Trump’s inauguration, we have at least two years to get it done.”

    This is going to be an exciting year. Let’s not get complacent in our victory as we keep working to make the coming years much better than the last eight.

    - Jesse P.

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    RPOF Annual Meeting Report

    I am happy to announce that the Annual Meeting of the Republican Party of Florida has concluded, and our journey to 2018 is underway! As your State Committeeman, here were some of the highlights of the weekend:

    First, I was happy to support Susie Dolan as the Caucus Chair for Congressional District 7. She will also serve on the Executive Board of the RPOF. I also supported Kathryn Townsend as the alternate chair. My two colleagues will help lead the charge in making Stephanie Murphy a one-term member of congress.

    Second, our chairman Blaise Ingoglia was re-elected to a second term. I did publicly support him because I felt that since he had helped deliver Florida’s 29 electoral votes to Donald Trump, he should be evaluated based on that success. Most of my colleagues agreed, and he was re-elected.

    Third, we have officially chartered a new Republican club! I have been working with Matt McMillan on this, and on Friday, with the support of our Chair and State Committeewoman (and, of course, Yours Truly), we submitted the papers to make it official. The goal of the club will be to reach out to new voters and support our existing clubs and committee through voter outreach. You will hear much more about it in the future, but it was exciting to take the first step this weekend.

    Fourth, you will be hearing much more over the next few years about the “Drive for Five.” Our National State Committeeman Peter Feaman noted that we have a historic moment in 2018 when all five of our state cabinet offices will be up for election without any incumbents. Our goal is a clean Republican sweep, a “Drive for Five.”

    Finally, although we have recently emerged from a very competitive election season with many hard-fought battles both with Democrats and within our own party, there was a tangible sense of unity throughout the weekend. It was wonderful to see Committeewoman Susie Dolan and Chairwoman Kathryn Towsend working together, despite being former opponents. While the media loves to run with sensational click-bait headlines about division and controversy (especially when it comes to Republicans), we are taking the first steps of moving forward in unity.

    Winning is contagious, isn’t it? Let’s build on our successes and, in the words of Chairman Ingoglia, turn our Super Bowl winning team into a dynasty!

    – Jesse P.

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    Praying for Sgt. Clayton and Dep. Lewis


    Like you, I was shocked and saddened to hear today about the shooting of Sgt. Debra Clayton, and the death of Dep. Norman Lewis. The men and women who put on the uniform to defend our community routinely face untold dangers, and today two heroes were taken far too soon.

    Please join me in praying for their friends, families and everyone who serves in the line of duty in ways that we too often take for granted. May the families find comfort in their grief and may the shooter be found and brought to justice.

    - Jesse Phillips

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    Is Florida Headed For Another Bush v Gore?

    537 votes. That was the difference between electing president George W. Bush, and would-be president Al Gore. My family had moved to Florida that summer. During the recount we were convinced that our family alone provided the margin of victory. That’s right, the Phillips household saved America from President Gore! You’re welcome.

    As I look at the numbers for the Clinton v Trump Florida Edition, I wonder if we could be headed for another razor-thin margin. Obama beat Romney by less than 1%, making the Sunshine state the closest race in 2012 and the early voting numbers are providing clues that we may be in for another long night of counting.

    Here are the numbers so far: out of 4,077,521 votes that have been cast, there have been 15,926 more Republicans who have cast ballots than Democrats. That is a difference of 0.4%. Republicans have narrowly won the vote-by-mail count with Democrats narrowly winning early voting. On the whole, the Democrats are gaining roughly 2,200 votes per day on average, which means we are headed for a virtual tie within the next week. In fact, if you project the numbers over the next six days, a scenario emerges in which polls open on Tuesday with 5-6 million votes cast, with a Republican advantage of 2,500. That is a difference of 0.05%. In other words, recount territory.

    Can you say Bush v Gore Part 2? Are you still one of the 31,000 people in Seminole County alone with an absentee ballot on your kitchen counter? You might want to turn that in.

    It seems clear that the Florida election will be decided by independent voters and Election Day ground game. Without a discernible difference in turnout or energy in early voting, whoever gets more people to the polls on Tuesday and wins a discernible majority of independents will win Florida’s pivotal 29 electoral votes. Let’s look at these two components:

    Independents: this group represents a growing percentage of voters. The stranglehold of the two parties is lessening and forcing candidates to walk the fine line between turning out the base and winning independents. We may have seen an example of this difficulty in our Orlando Politics op-ed review of the August 30th vote in Seminole, in which we saw a surge in non-traditional voters coinciding with a bleed of historic super-voters. Trump will need these GOP super voters to come back after sitting it out on August 30th if he is going to win.

    Projecting who wins independents is difficult. Over the last year several rural counties in Florida have flipped from Democrat to Republican primarily due to Independents and Democrats switching over to the GOP. This, coupled with the fact that Trump performed better in states with open primaries bodes well for his campaign.

    On the other hand, the largest growing population in Central Florida are folks moving over from Puerto Rico due to the financial crisis. Also, the most Latino counties (Miami-Dade, Hendry, Orange and Osceola) are all exceeding the 2012 numbers for Hispanic turnout.

    Working in the GOP’s favor are some solid Hispanic state house candidates along the I-4 corridor. The wisdom of the GOP voters in choosing State Representative Bob Cortes and Rene Plasencia as well as Senator Marco Rubio might be a saving grace if Florida turns red again.

    Election Day Ground Game: the difference between the two candidates is stark. The Clinton campaign has invested in a traditional get out the vote campaign. The Trump campaign, as was his style during the primaries, has relied on earned media and large rallies. It seems difficult to determine which of these approaches is yielding a better result. If ground games are measured by their results in early and absentee voting, we would have to call it a tie so far.

    It will be the efforts of the grassroots activists at the ground level that determines this election. I was reminded of a conversation I recently had with Jeffrey Bauer, the Chairman of the Seminole County GOP. He said, “Can you imagine being the chair of a county Democrat party and waking up with $25,000 in your bank account the day after Al Gore lost by 500 votes? I don’t want to be that guy.”

    In Seminole, Bauer’s efforts seem to be paying off. We’re winning the turnout battle by 7.5%, despite a slight shift in our county toward Democrats in recent years. In 2012, Romney won Seminole by 6.5%. If all 67 counties repeat our success, Florida will turn red again.

    The moral of the story: get out and vote.

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    Victory And Unity Toward November

    I am honored to announce that Republican voters throughout Seminole County have elected me to be their next State Committeeman. I am excited about the opportunity to serve as one of the three top-ranking party leaders in Seminole and to build a Republican party that can answer the challenges facing our generation of voters.

    I would like to express my gratitude to Ray Valdes, who has been serving as our State Committeeman. Mr. Valdes announced that he would not seek re-election and graciously endorsed me for this position. I look forward to continuing his history of service to our party.

    I am proud of how we accomplished this. We did it through making even small donations go a long way. We hand-delivered more than 10,000 flyers to doors throughout the area. Although a poll taken two weeks ago showed the race tied, we worked to earn every vote and moved the needle 13% with just $6,000.

    I look forward to working with Chairman Jeffrey Bauer and newly elected State Committeewoman Susie Dolan to provide the energetic leadership and unity of mission that we have come to expect from the Seminole County GOP. Together, we can keep Seminole County on the right track.

    As I’ve reflected on the victory, I am honored to have received 56% of the vote and surprised that this was actually one of the higher totals among candidates. I am more keenly aware that 43% of voters did not vote for me. In fact, most winning candidates in Seminole County had at least 45% and some more than 50% who did not vote for them.

    To put it frankly, this is a divided Republican electorate, and one that needs to heal. The best way to heal division is through the humility of the winners.

    56% is not a mandate. Therefore, I promise not to overly interpret the meaning of results through the lens of my own selfish desire for vindication as anything more than a divided vote which broke slightly for me based on factors largely outside of our control.

    To my fellow winners: this isn’t a time to gloat or spin what your victories mean. It’s a time to weep with those who weep and open the door to the majorities that voted against you.

    If you didn’t vote for me and are disappointed that I won, I promise to work for you so that you will become more disappointed that you didn’t vote for me.

    Let’s move forward together in humility and unity so that we win this November.

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    Jesse Phillips Decisively Sweeps First Two Straw Polls

    The Jesse Phillips campaign for Seminole County Republican State Committeeman gained momentum this week with two decisive straw poll wins. On Monday Jesse won the Seminole County Republican straw poll 79% to 21% and tonight Jesse won the East Side Regional Hob Nob 73% – 27%. Jesse Phillips released the following statement after the win:

    “Working for Republicans and conservative causes is both my history and my passion. I appreciate this week’s affirming votes by the leaders and activists throughout Central Florida and look forward to continuing this tireless work as the next State Committeeman if I am so fortunate.”

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    David Johnson Endorses Jesse Phillips for State Committeman

    Seminole County Property Appraiser David Johnson, CFA has endorsed Jesse Phillips as he seeks to become the county’s Republican State Committeeman. The endorsement comes as a growing list of community leaders voice their support for Phillips who currently serves as the Seminole GOP Secretary.

    David Johnson is a distinguished public servant and community leader, serving in his third term as Property Appraiser. His distinguished service includes a number of awards, including the Florida Association of Property Appraisers “President’s Award” (2007-2009), the “Good Government Award” from the Private Business Association of Seminole, the Seminole County Regional Chamber of Commerce “Public Servant of the Year”, among others.

    “As someone who owns a home and runs a business in Seminole County, it’s impossible to overstate the importance of competent county leaders who strive for excellence,” said Jesse Phillips. “David Johnson’s leadership helps make Seminole County the best place to live in Central Florida.”

    David Johnson is adding his hame to an endorsement slate that already includes State Representatives Bob Cortes and Scott Plakon, Tax Collector Ray Valdes, Seminole County Commissioner John Horan, Commissioners Anthony Aramendia (Casselberry), Colleen Hufford (Casselberry), John Maingot (Longwood) and Mark Weller (Longwood), Justin York (Soil & Water Conservation Board).

    See the full list of endorsements here.