Banyai appeals, Holden goes virtual, and a revolution in Naples: SWFL’s State of Play today

03-20-20 Banyai petition appealCindy Banyai appeals to Gov. Ron DeSantis to extend the petition deadline.     (Image: @SWFLMom2020)

 March 20, 2020 by David Silverberg

Monday, March 23 marks the deadline for turning in petitions to get on the August primary ballot—unless Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and the Florida Division of Elections say it ain’t so.

That’s what 19th Congressional District Democratic candidate Cindy Banyai is hoping. She says candidates deserve an extension of the deadline because the Coronavirus crisis has made face-to-face petition gathering and door-to-door campaigning impossible.

But Banyai isn’t alone. In a March 18 letter to DeSantis, her appeal for a delay was joined by Gabriele Spuckes, chair of the Lee County Democratic Party and five other Florida Democratic congressional candidates: Adam Christensen of Florida’s 3rd Congressional District, Allen Ellison of the 17th, Kimberly Walker of the 12th, and Sakinah Lehtola and Christine Olivo, both of the 24th.

Banyai also made her appeal in a 4-second video on Twitter, in which she said directly to DeSantis: “Postpone the ballot petitions. We deserve a shot.” Adding in the letter, “we must take action to keep our election fair and balanced and to ensure the health and safety of the citizens of Florida.”

Under Florida election rules, by March 23 a candidate for federal office must submit petitions equal to 1 percent of a congressional district’s voting population, which comes to 5,052 signatures in the 19th Congressional District, or pay $10,044, the equivalent of 4 percent of a US representative’s salary.

As of this writing, Banyai told The Paradise Progressive that she had not heard back from the governor’s office or the Division of Elections and noted a new wrinkle: “I will add that the local supervisors of elections [offices] are closed. So we can’t even submit the petitions if we wanted to.”

Holden goes virtual

David Holden, the other Democrat seeking the 19th Congressional District’s seat, put his entire campaign on a digital footing and announced on March 12 that he was suspending face-to-face campaigning.

David Holden town hall portrait 2 3-21-18
David Holden

“To be clear,” he emphasized, “we are continuing our campaign, just with an abundance of caution.”

For Holden, going virtual means holding town halls, Qs&As and fundraising events by digital means. (A Holden virtual town hall meeting is scheduled for this evening, according to his campaign Facebook page.)

Most importantly, Holden announced that he was suspending petition collection but seeking donations to meet the $10,044 filing fee.

“Together we will get through this,” he vowed.

Allison Sardinas, Holden’s campaign manager, added further details.

“The technicalities of [going virtual] are several,” she pointed out in an e-mail. “One, our organizers are now focused on creating digital content and phone banking for various virtual events. We’re setting up town halls and virtual fundraisers as well as expanding out lists and digital presence.

“This also means that our staff meetings are held via Zoom and we skype into call time with David instead of providing call sheets for him in person. We’re also moving our house parties into the digital realm and fully utilizing the features [next generation platforms have] to offer to maximize contributions to our campaign.”

According to Sardinas, the Holden campaign is also focusing on turning out the vote and preparing for the possibility of a vote-by-mail-only election in November. Preparing a digital volunteer force now should serve the campaign later.

Republican response

With Coronavirus shutting down all face-to-face campaigning, one Republican congressional candidate dropped out of the race and one announced suspension of his campaign (tantamount to dropping out altogether), both yesterday, March 19.

Ford O’Connell, the bombastic Fox News pundit, announced the end of his campaign in a statement to followers.

William Figlesthaler, the Naples urologist, similarly issued a statement. However, Figlesthaler’s suspension was interesting because he had already begun running television commercials. Also, his was the highest financed campaign of all the 19th District candidates, thanks to a $410,000 loan from the candidate.

Commentary: We won’t have Figlesthaler’s urinal screens to pee on any more!

Figlesthaler’s suspension leaves State Rep. Dane Eagle (R-77-Cape Coral) as the best-financed candidate. Eagle hasn’t made any announcements regarding his campaign but has been frequently tweeting his support for President Trump despite the Coronavirus pandemic and the financial crash.

Analysis: Revolution in Naples City

On Election Day, Tuesday, March 17, the entire elected leadership of the City of Naples was voted out, with Teresa Heitman winning as mayor along with a completely new slate of city council members.

The election was non-partisan and there were many local issues that decided it. Nonetheless, Southwest Florida residents could see in this result a rising discontent and demand for complete change. If it’s so strong in a place as conservative and set in its ways as Naples, it just may be bigger in the region, the state and the country.

The blue wave could in fact turn out to be a blue tsunami.

Liberty lives in light

© 2020 by David Silverberg

One thought on “Banyai appeals, Holden goes virtual, and a revolution in Naples: SWFL’s State of Play today

  1. Hi David,

    You have a typo…it’s Gabriele Spuckes

    And is Monday the deadline for all candidates to pay the $10,000 to get in the race?

    On Fri, Mar 20, 2020 at 4:57 PM The Paradise Progressive wrote:

    > The Paradise Progressive posted: “Cindy Banyai appeals to Gov. Ron > DeSantis to extend the petition deadline. (Image: @SWFLMom2020) March > 20, 2020 by David Silverberg Monday, March 23 marks the deadline for > turning in petitions to get on the August primary ballot—unless Gov. Ron > DeSa” >


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