Good Thursday morning.
Secretary of State Laurel Lee might not be Secretary of State much longer.
Sources close to the Thonotosassa Republican tell Florida Politics she plans to leave her position to run for Congress in Florida’s 15th Congressional District. The first signal Lee will launch a congressional campaign could come as soon as Friday.
She’s likely to face a heated Republican Primary for the seat, with former U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross and state Rep. Jackie Toledo already actively campaigning for the job.
There are also rumblings that term-limited Senate Appropriations Chair Kelli Stargel could enter the fray. She’s reportedly hired consultant Mac Stevenson ahead of a potential run. Still, if Lee joins the race, it’ll squash the rumors that her husband, former state Sen. Tom Lee, is eyeing the seat.
CD 15 covers parts of Hillsborough, Pasco and Polk counties and is generally considered the “new” district Florida was granted after the 2020 Census. That means there’s no incumbent — U.S. Rep. Scott Franklin, who represents the current CD 15, is running in Florida’s 18th Congressional District.
Miami Gardens Democratic Sen. Shevrin Jones on Thursday announced several top-level additions to his Operation BlackOut Team.
Darryl Banks will head up political and partnerships, joined by Juan Peñalosa, Ali Kurnaz, and Giovanna Salucci, who will lead the digital and targeting operations. Ashley Bauman will serve as head of communications and Natalie Kato will run legal.
“When we launched this project, we did so with a laser focus and commitment to creating an organization and operation unlike any other,” Jones said. “As you can see, this team, some of the best and brightest in the country, will not only work tirelessly to meet our goals but to exceed them. We’re at a pivotal point in the state of Florida and it will take all-hands-on-deck to ensure this November looks different than the last few decades.”
Operation BlackOut is a vote-by-mail mobilization project led by Jones. It launched in February with the stated goal of 40,000 “nontraditional, unlikely Black and Brown progressive voters” to vote by mail.
It has since forged partnerships with several other organizations to reach voters, including the ACLU, Florida Rising, the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, and the Service Employees International Union, among others.
First in Sunburn — “Ben Diamond bows out of CD 13 fight” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Diamond suspended his campaign for Congress on Thursday. The move comes after a congressional map crafted by Gov. Ron DeSantis drew the St. Petersburg Democrat out of Florida’s 13th Congressional District. “Unfortunately, the Governor and the Legislature did not create fair districts for Florida and did not follow our constitution,” Diamond said. Instead of seeking office this year, the St. Petersburg attorney intends to devote himself to the legal challenge against the map.