Kevin Derby's blog

The National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC) jabbed freshman U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, D-Fla., on Wednesday, accusing her of backing President Barack Obama’s call to tax 529 saving accounts that Americans use to save for their children’s college education. After drawing heavy fire from the Republicans on the proposal, Obama has spiked it for the moment.

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The special Republican primary battle for former Rep. Doc Renuart’s open House seat, representing the northern parts of St. Johns County, proved close on Tuesday night.

St. Johns County Commissioner Cyndi Stevenson beat St. Augustine businessman Mike Davis, who challenged Renuart in the primary back in 2012, by 300 votes on Tuesday night. With all votes in, Stevenson had 5,173 votes (42 percent) while Davis took 4,870 votes (39 percent). Jack Capra stood in distant third with 2,379 votes (19 percent).

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Former Rep. Travis Hutson won the special Republican primary for an open Florida Senate seat on Tuesday night, decisively beating former Rep. Doc Renuart by 17 percent. Hutson will face Democrat David Cox in the special election on April 7.

With all votes in from Flagler, Putnam and Volusia counties and more than 90 percent of precincts reported in St. Johns County, Hutson had 52 percent of the vote while Renuart trailed with 35 percent. Dennis McDonald was in distant third with 13 percent.

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Paul Renner is one step closer to heading to Tallahassee after a big primary win on Tuesday night.

Renner, an attorney and Navy veteran, lost by the skin of his teeth in a Republican primary to banker Jay Fant for an open Florida House seat in Duval County. But, on Tuesday, Renner bounced back easily, crushing former St. Johns County Commissioner Ron Sanchez and conservative activist Danielle Anderson in the special Republican primary for the House seat vacated by former Rep. Travis Hutson.

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U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, D-Fla., announced on Monday she was named to the U.S. House Agriculture Committee. Graham defeated U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., back in November in a rare bright spot for Democrats in the Sunshine State in last year’s election cycle.

“Farmers and rural communities are the backbone of North Florida,” Graham said on Monday. "Our economy depends on their hard work. Our families depend on them to provide food.

“On the Agriculture Committee, I will be a voice our farmers can depend on to represent their interests,” Graham added.

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U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Fla., announced on Monday he was a co-sponsor of U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson’s, R-S.C., “Local Control of Education Act” which would stop the Obama administration from making states “adopt a specific curriculum, and would void any previous federal requirements established for states that have already adopted Common Core.”

Rooney explained why he was backing the bill on Monday.

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Conservative group Americans for Prosperity (AFP) came out swinging at proposals to use public funds and incentives to lure the entertainment industry to Florida on Tuesday. AFP’s Florida chapter showcased an infographic on the matter on Tuesday, insisting film incentives don’t help the economy.

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Gov. Rick Scott called for $7.4 million for three new state homes for veterans. One of the homes will be in St. Lucie County while the Cabinet needs to decide on the location for the other two.

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Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown, the first Democrat to win a mayoral race in that city since Ed Austin in 1991, is in serious trouble according to a poll of likely voters released on Monday.

St. Pete Polls took a poll for Saint PetersBlog showing former Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) Chairman Lenny Curry in good shape against Brown.

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Longtime Alachua County educator Hershel Lyons was named as K-12 public schools chancellor by Education Commissioner Pam Stewart on Monday.

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