Florida Politics: “Jeremy Ring: Setting the record straight on business background”

Appointed Chief Financial Officer and seafood restaurateur Jimmy Patronis lied about using taxpayer resources for his campaign — POLITICO even caught him red-handed — and now he’s lying about my business background. Let’s set the record straight.

I’m an entrepreneur. My opponent isn’t. I’ve started businesses. He hasn’t.

I’ve helped to pioneer industry. I’ve started organizations, grown organizations, and led organizations.

I’ve dealt with personnel challenges, written business plans, worked in mergers and acquisitions, raised capital, invested my own capital, and had shareholder responsibility.

I’ve been held to strong corporate governance standards, negotiated countless deals with countless clients.

I’ve held significant roles in publicly traded companies and private companies; large companies and small companies.

Jimmy Patronis, if he ever started a business, would know what all of that truly means. He doesn’t and hasn’t.

Jimmy Patronis inherited a seafood restaurant. He dropped out of a race for state Senate in favor of a plum position with the Public Service Commission, for which he was hand-selected by Rick Scott for his unique ability to do the Governor’s bidding.

After CFO Jeff Atwater resigned, Scott quickly appointed Jimmy to the role of Chief Financial Officer for the remainder of his term — for the very same reason he was selected for the Public Service Commission. In short, Jimmy is the CFO because he is friends with the Governor, not because he is qualified.

At 25, I opened the first East Coast office of internet company Yahoo! out of my apartment in New York City and over the next five years I helped to turn it into a multibillion-dollar tech leader.

I served in the Florida Senate, where I crafted major bipartisan legislation establishing an innovation economy to help Florida’s entrepreneurs build their ideas and grow jobs right here in Florida.

I created the largest technology incubator in the state, the Gainesville based “Florida Institute of Commercialization,” which in turn has helped start and grow over 75 technology businesses in Florida with over $1 billion in economic impact and an average salary of over $75,000.

I created the Florida Opportunity Fund, a $100 million institutional venture capital fund for Florida companies; last, I was the creator of the Florida Growth Fund, a $1 billion late-stage venture capital fund for technology company’s across the Florida that has returned over 10 percent capital to the beneficiaries of the Florida Retirement System.

In addition to those successes, I also started or invested in a number of businesses here in Florida, companies that Jimmy falsely paints as flops.

Jimmy points to my company Convizion as a prime example of my business failures, and as a reason as to why I cannot be trusted with the State’s finances.

He says that I readily admit to it being a “failure,” even citing an article. The only problem is that the next sentence after the one he cites completely contradicts his argument. It reads, “It was only by being open to new opportunities that he (Ring) and his partners were able to create a success out of their apparent loss.”

And, success there was.

In fact, Convizion shareholders made between two and four times their initial investment. Only someone with zero real business experience would consider that a failure.

Jimmy also points to Strategic Baseball Ventures and Ring Entertainment as “flops” and further proof of me losing money for shareholders. But here again, he is either lying or doesn’t understand basic business — neither is a good quality for the person in charge of Florida’s finances.

Strategic Baseball Ventures was set up in the early 2000s when a partner of mine wanted to investigate buying minor league baseball franchises. We looked at a few deals, didn’t find one we liked and moved on. No one lost any money.

Ring Entertainment was a small endeavor between my brother and I that was a fun family project. It had zero outside capital invested and minimal family capital.

Not everyone is handed a business and not everyone is handed a position to oversee the state treasury. Qualifications matter, as does honesty.

Right now, I am questioning both for the current appointed CFO.

View the original article here.

Tampa Bay Times: “Jeremy Ring: Jimmy Patronis clemency question ‘smacks of racism’”

The Florida Phoenix reported Thursday that Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis, while sitting on the state Clemency Board last month asked an African-American man asking to have his civil rights restored after serving his sentence for a felony asked some odd questions: How many children did the man have, Patronis asked, and “how many different mothers to those children?”

Today, Patronis’ Democratic challenger for the CFO post denounced the Republican incumbent.

“Where do we start beyond, ‘unacceptable,’ ” said former state Sen. Jeremy Ring.

“I wholeheartedly denounce CFO Patronis’ questioning during a clemency hearing of Erwin Jones. It is unconscionable that Mr. Jones, would be asked in a public hearing how many children and how many different mothers of those children. Not only should that have zero to do with Mr. Jones ability to have his rights restored, but smacks of racism, intolerance and ignorance. CFO Patronis should issue an immediately apology. This is just another example of why the current Florida Clemency process is unfair and tainted. It’s no wonder a Federal Judge recently ruled that Governor Scott and the Florida Cabinet issued a ruling to reform the entire practice of rights restoration. Currently, the clemency process is used to not only suppress votes but to ensure that “all” non violent ex-felons are never given an opportunity to lift themselves up and pursue their dreams. ”

A spokeswoman for the Patronis campaign said that Ring had “stooped to a new low” and that Patronis’ questions were perfectly appropriate given that he was inquiring about child support.

From Campaign Communications Director Katie Strickland:

“It’s truly sad that Jeremy Ring’s desperation has now led him to name calling and accusations of racism. Anyone who actually listens to the discussion from this clemency meeting knows that it centered on how to best protect the public good from a convicted felon with history of domestic violence. The domestic violence incidents involved different women, and in one case a woman was sent to the hospital and in another case a child was harmed.

“Because child support arrangements are coordinated through a child’s mother, questions focused on child support arrangements and if child support was current. The focus of the conversation was about how to best protect all involved and the community from a convicted felon with a decades-long history of arrests.

“Jeremy Ring stooped to a new low today to try and distract from the fact that he’s being heavily out-fundraised and out-worked by CFO Patronis. While the CFO is proposing ways to bring transparency to cryptocurrency in Florida and protect the pockets of Floridians, Jeremy Ring is opposing those reforms because he is invested in cryptocurrency and only looking out for his own pocket. Those are the facts Ring’s name-calling won’t change.”

She sent a transcript:

#77 Erwin Jones is here.

Jones: Good morning

Scott: Good morning, how’re you doing? Would you like to say something, or do you want us to ask questions?

Jones: Ask questions.

Scott: When is the last time you had a problem with the law?

Jones: About 2002.

Scott: 2002 and 2006 you got threats in violence, domestic incident reports against you, right?

Bondi: (inaudible)

Scott: 1990 threw a metal wheel at his girlfriend during a dispute which hit his 2-year-old son in his face. 2000 domestic battery which applicant punched his girlfriend in the face. 2003 punched his girlfriend in the face. So, you have a bunch of punching your girlfriend in the face stuff.

Jones: No, it umm…

Scott: What’s the story?

Jones: I go to work, come home she take my money and I say I go and I say come home, I need my money so she call the police. But she did not press charges. She didn’t pay the rent, I said I come I need my money. She call the police again.

Scott: So you hit her?

Jones: No. I didn’t put my hand on her.

Commission on Offender Review Representative: In 2003 we do have the reports of the applicant start an argument and then claim he struck her with his fist in the face several times.

Patronis: Sir, do you have any children?

Jones: Yes.

Patronis: How many children do you have?

Jones: Six.

Patronis: Six? How many different mothers to those children?

Jones: Three.

Patronis: Three? You paying your child support?

Jones: I owe 378.

Patronis: You owe 378?

Jones: Yes.

Patronis: Have you been missing payments?

Jones: No, that’s it.

Patronis: So you have been staying current with all your child support?

Jones: Yes.

Commission on Offender Review Representative: We don’t have any information on that.

Scott: You have got a lot of domestic violence stuff. So, tell me how I can justify giving you your civil rights when you keep getting…

Jones: I work every day.

Scott: Pardon?

Jones: I stay out of trouble.

Scott: It’s not true? Or all of this stuff they keep on accusing you of things?

Jones: No, I am saying she was on drugs real bad and I just go to work, I pay the rent, her and her daughter, I go to work get the money pay the rent. A man came knocking on the door. I say you didn’t pay the rent? I say I go but I leave I come back had the money, but she called the police so I hit her. I didn’t ever touch her. I never touched her, never.

Scott: Okay, so…so thirty years ago you got your conviction of cocaine. How long have you worked, so you’ve worked at Crandon Cleaners since 2005?

Jones: Yes.

Scott: And what do you do?

Jones: The spotter. Get the spots out the clothes.

Scott: Okay, so your domestic violence…the 2000 was not prosecuted, 2003 was not prosecuted. 2006 she’s being threatened by you, 2006 I guess, whoever the victim was said she was being threatened by you, her ex-boyfriend. I guess you were mad because she was dating somebody. There was no arrest made. Wow. Why do these people accuse you and then don’t…why is this happening?

Bondi: I was in domestic violence court for a very long time, it’s typical. It’s the cycle of domestic violence. I mean those are harder to prove than a homicide, Governor. They always have been. Umm, women recant they get back together with them and they’re scared they don’t show up. Multiple reasons. I always look to find out if it’s true if there were injuries and if the injuries were witnessed by law enforcement consistent with what the victims says happened.

Scott: But it’s hard to hold against him when he never gets arrested? Right? So, 2002 he didn’t get arrested, no arrest was made in 2006, no arrest was made, so the last…

Bondi: Are they different women? That tells me something too.

Putnam: Same.

Bondi: Governor, Miami they don’t always prosecute possession of cocaine because their case load is so high. That’s just the numbers. See no action on the cocaine charges either. If fire rescue was dispatched, the victim went to the hospital.

Scott: Which year? Which one was that one?

Bondi: That’s what I always look at. 2000. Alright, so in 2000 the victim goes to the hospital.

Scott: So, in 2000 he was arrested?

Bondi: Right. Domestic Violence unit…so that’s victim one. Then in 2003 I don’t know if it’s the same victim or not, umm…

Scott: So why don’t they get convicted of anything?

Bondi: The victim flagged an officer down and was arrested in 2003. In 2017 he was drinking alcohol in public. It’s just the nature of the charges in the jurisdiction.

Scott: Alright, let me look at it…I need some more time looking at it. Thank you. Good luck with your job.

View the original article here.

Florida Politics: “Jeremy Ring earns police union endorsement in CFO race”

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Former state Sen. Jeremy Ring earned another endorsement in his bid to be that state’s Chief Financial Officer, picking up the support of the Florida Police Benevolent Association. The PBA is a union representing law enforcement officers across the state.

In a statement, PBA President John Rivera said, “Senator Jeremy Ring is a passionate advocate for Florida’s law enforcement and correctional officers. He was our champion in the Florida Legislature.” Ring, a former Parkland resident, represented northern Broward County in the Florida Senate from 2006 to 2016. Rivera went on to say that Ring’s “innovative mind and tenacity helped usher in major positive changes for the officers and their families. We are proud to endorse Jeremy Ring for Chief Financial Officer.”

This adds to Ring’s endorsement pool as he was recently endorsed by former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy. The International Association of Fire Fighters also endorsed Ring last year.

Ring, a Democrat, will have to unseat the current CFO, Republican Jimmy Patronis. He was appointed to the position last year by Gov. Rick Scott.

Patronis was set to face a primary challenge from state Sen. Tom Lee before Lee ultimately decided against a run.

Ring has brought in impressive fundraising totals in his challenge to Patronis. The most recent poll in the race also showed Ring with 37 percent support to Patronis’s 35 percent. However, that poll was conducted back in December.

Among the state CFO’s responsibilities are oversight of Florida’s retirement funds and regulation of the insurance industry.

An early member of the Yahoo!, Ring opened the first East Coast office of the internet company back in 1996. The 47-year-old wrote a book about his time there, but left long before its eventual financial troubles.

Florida Politics: “Jeremy Ring picks up endorsement of Patrick Murphy, once mentioned as possible CFO candidate”

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As the deadline to qualify for the statewide ballot comes into focus, former state Senator Jeremy Ring has picked up the endorsement of a fellow Democrat occasionally mentioned as a possible primary opponent.

Former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy signaled his support for Ring’s bid to be Chief Financial Officer, citing the former Yahoo executive’s “acuity.”

“From Yahoo to the Florida Senate, there is no other candidate with the extensive background and innovative hides he brings to the table,” Murphy said in a release. “That’s why I’m proud to support him.”

Murphy, the party’s nominee for the U.S. Senate in 2016, has been mentioned as a possible CFO candidate, especially given his background in accounting and finance.

Murphy’s closing the door on a 2018 run is likely the last obstacle Ring will face to running all but unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Current CFO Jimmy Patronis is running for a full-term in the Cabinet post. He’s expected to be joined by state Senator Tom Lee in the Republican primary.

An early poll showed Ring with a slight lead over Patronis, 37-35, though that 2-point spread fell well within the 3.7 percentage point margin of error.

The chance to pick up a spot on the powerful Cabinet also played a role in Murphy’s decision to back Ring.

“After 20 years of Republican rule, Floridians are hungry for a fresh approach and I can think of no one better than Jeremy Ring to steer us forward.”

Florida Politics: “Parkland meets Pulse, uniting in grief, anger and frustration”

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Survivors, family, and community members battered but not beaten by Florida’s two great recent tragedies met in Orlando Wednesday at Pulse nightclub, uniting in their grief, anger, determination and a frustration over how things do or do not change.

A busload of Parkland community members, including families of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students, came to pay their respects at the Pulse nightclub, and to share in their experiences both of and following the mass shootings of Feb. 14, 2018, and June 12, 2016.

 

These are not happy groups, but they were joyful to meet one another Wednesday, in the company of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and former state Sen. Jeremy Ring, two Democratic politicians as closely affected by the massacres as any. Dyer oversaw much of Orlando’s response, coming out of it Orlando United. Ring is a Parkland resident, running for Florida Chief Financial Officer, with his campaign temporarily suspended since the school shooting.

The group, part of the much larger contingent that spent the past week in Tallahassee seeking legislative responses to the Douglas High School shooting, was not put together for any ideological positions, but at Pulse Wednesday their anger and frustration appeared widespread: angry that their community suffered another shooting, frustrated that many believe the Florida Legislature let them down.

Kim Bankoff of Weston, mother of three children in the school district, said many of the families who went to Tallahassee were generally pleased and some even excited by the proposals that Legislature leaders laid out to them Monday. Then, she said, hours later, in the middle of the night, they learned of the amendments coming in, and much of the support many felt was replaced by jadedness.

“Pass this or not we need to recognize this does not go far enough,” she said.

Ring, who spent much of the time with the group in Tallahassee and traveled separately to Orlando Wednesday, said of most of the members of the group, ‘They’re ticked off. They’re not happy.”

Ring said Bankoff’s frustration was caused because members of the Florida House had explained their bill Monday night and then changed it, making the Parkland community members feel deceived.

“I’ve seen that countless times,” Ring said. “The other thing that frustrated them that the Florida Senate in a, I don’t know how long, seven hours? meeting, somehow ran out of time. And I’ve seen that countless times.”

He said he understands the processes and politics, but the desperate families who came to Tallahassee were caught completely off-guard, and left aghast.

The 25 or so Parkland community members who came to Pulse met with about a dozen Pulse survivors and family.  Up until a few days ago they would have been able to make an intimate visit to what had become a makeshift shrine to what, until the Las Vegas massacre last summer, had been the country’s worst mass murder in recent history. But they had to get together outside a new, eight-foot, mostly-tarped fence surrounding the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, a barrier erected only last weekend to allow for construction of an interim memorial.

As both Parkland and Pulse community members placed single white roses into the fence, Luciel Tschumy, an LGBTQ transgender female activist from Broward County, read the names of the 49 people murdered at Pulse, punctuating her reading with anger for the lives cut short. “We’re standing here putting 49 roses. We shouldn’t have to freakin’ be here!” she exclaimed.

Margate Elementary School teacher Monique Wilson read a poem she wrote expressing deep frustration and anger. “Honestly America? What’s a parent to do, when a child is stripped from you?” she read. “So much change is needed, America, we’ve needed it for such a long time.”

Dyer sought to unite the groups, and pledged Orlando’s support. “We love you. We feel your pain. We want to do everything that we can to help you,” he said.

Florida Politics: “Jeremy Ring: Divest FRS from gun makers”

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During his freshman year in the Florida Senate, Democrat Jeremy Ring led the fight to make Florida the first state in the nation to pass a bill to divest from Iran. Under that legislation, $1 billion in state pension funds was screened for holdings in companies doing business with or investing in Iran’s oil sector.

As he now runs to serve as the state’s chief financial officer more than a decade later, Ring says if elected, he would push to have Florida divest in any company that manufactures assault weapons for civilian purchase.

Ring lives in Parkland, the site of last week’s deadly mass shooting. He said the idea came to him this week as he sought what he could positively do as CFO to try to prevent another such event.

“We are market makers; the Florida Retirement System (FRS) is the gold standard,” Ring says. “It can do more to significantly affect the stock price of a company than just about any pension fund in America.”

Ring adds that, as a fiduciary, his job is to make sure the retirement system gets the strongest return for its beneficiaries and makes its annual investment return goals. There is no way, he maintains, that divesting from such companies will hurt Florida’s pension fund.

His idea came after it was reported that the FRS had more than 41,000 shares in American Outdoor Brands Co. with a market value of $528,000, according to a Dec. 31 securities filing posted on its website. American Outdoor Brands is the Massachusetts-based parent company of Smith & Wesson.

Federal law enforcement officials say Nikolas Cruz used an M&P 15, Smith & Wesson’s version of the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, to kill 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Along those same lines, Democratic candidate for governor Gwen Grahamreleased a statement on Thursday calling for the state to divest all Florida’s state interests from gun and ammunition manufacturers.

Ring’s proposal would not be as sweeping, as it’s limited to divesting from companies that manufacture assault weapons for sale to civilians, not to the military.

Florida is just one of at least a dozen states that own stocks issued by the makers of firearms, Bloomberg reported earlier this week.

The California State Teachers’ Retirement System, one of the largest pension funds in the country, has divested from firearm makers that are illegal in the state.

Florida Politics: “Parkland resident Jeremy Ring angered by GOP leaders refusing to talk gun control”

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Wednesday’s shooting at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School hit home for Jeremy Ring — literally.

The former state senator and Democratic chief financial officer candidate lives less than a mile from where America’s latest gun massacre took place. Ring became angry that in all the statements and news releases from Republicans over the previous 24 hours, none supported gun reform.

“All I’ve heard is that it’s not the time to talk about it. YES IT IS!!!” Ring wrote in a message to supporters Thursday.

Ring continued:

“I watched yesterday’s events take place less than 1 mile from my home. I watched in disbelief, I watched in sadness, and for sure, I watched in anger.

“In anger, because the gun lobby owns too many of our elected officials. In anger because as a nation, we refuse to treat mental health the same way we would treat cancer or heart disease.

“In anger, because we are constantly missing warning signs that could help prevent horrific tragedies.

“In anger, because we live in a society where students have to learn drills on how to duck in their classroom in case of a tragedy like Parkland.

“In anger, because our schools are becoming human shooting galleries.

“In anger, because too many in our society have removed fundamental common-sense lines between a hunting rifle and an AR15.

“In anger, because too many people refuse to understand when our founding fathers penned the Second Amendment, they weren’t considering AK47’s and M16’s.

“In anger, because “never forget” doesn’t apply to mass shootings until the next one will inevitably occur.

“In anger, because no other first world nation is so susceptible to these horrific events and no other government in any other first world nation does less to decrease this epidemic and in the case of the United States, even recognize it as a solvable issue.”

Ring added that a crisis like the massacre in Parkland requires leadership and action, not just “thoughts and prayers.”

Florida is nationally known for being one of the most gun and NRA friendly state legislatures in the nation, and the only policy prescription to emerge so far Thursday has been a statement by Republican state senators to support appropriation of $100 million for mental health screening, counseling and training, as well as the hardening of schools in the K-12 budget.

The proposal had already been brought forward by Naples Republican Senator Kathleen Passidomo in the Senate education budget.

Tampa Bay Times: “Can Jeremy Ring win Florida Democrats a rare statewide office?”

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With the nation in a tizzy about Trump and the state obsessed with Tallahassee sex scandals and a governor’s race, how does a former state senator grab some attention in a race for chief financial officer?

If you’re South Florida Democrat Jeremy Ring, you write a book about your career as one of the founding employees of Yahoo, the search engine company that almost bought both Google and Facebook for peanuts, then found itself awash in the behemoth’s wake.

Ring’s book, We Were Yahoo!, recounts his five years there starting in 1996 as the company’s first sales chief, and the aftermath.

Yahoo’s downfall, Ring told a Tampa crowd today, happened because his successors at the company didn’t understand changing technology, including a CEO who couldn’t handle his own emails and had to have an assistant print them out.

Though he talked mostly about the book, Ring said that kind of thing won’t happen in Florida if he gets elected CFO.

Ring, 47,has promised in his campaign to “bring the soul of Silicon Valley to Florida,” and told the crowd he wants to foster the kind of entrepreneurship that made Yahoo – briefly – great.

“If there’s one thing I want this office to do, it’s not to worry about recruiting an Amazon.com fulfillment center,” he said. “I want this office to help build the next Amazon.com from Florida.”

The CFO race is important to the future of the state Democratic party.

They currently hold only one of the state’s six offices statewide offices, Bill Nelson’s Senate seat. If Ring won, he’d be the first Democrat to win any statewide race for a Florida office since Alex Sink became CFO in 2006.

Nonetheless, Ring acknowledged in an interview, “Right now we’re the only ones paying attention to the CFO race, and on the day before the election, we’ll still be the only ones.”

The election, Ring said, will be about “Trump or anti-Trump … The top of the ticket won’t even be on the ticket – it’s Donald Trump.”

The CFO’s main duties are to handle the state’s checkbook and serve as trustee of the state retirement funds, but as a Cabinet office the post shares many executive powers with the governor and Cabinet – plus, it can serve as a stepping stone.

Ring said the No. 1 priority is protection of the solvency of the retirement fund, but that the CFO can also “leverage access to capital to create innovation funds in the state, to create infrastructure funds.”

All three Cabinet offices – attorney general, CFO and agriculture commissioner – will be on the 2018 ballot along with Nelson’s seat and he governor’s race.

Ring believes the Tampa Bay area will be crucial in the race, in part because it’s the home turf of a likely Republican candidate, state Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa.

It’s the state’s largest media market, which provides a hometown candidate an advantage.

Lee has said he’ll run but hasn’t filed or formally announced. That’s coming around the end of the legislative session in March, he said recently.

Ring, from Parkland, also represents a major media market, while the current CFO, Jimmy Patronis, already filed for the race, is from Panama City.

With Lee in mind, Ring’s making Tampa a focus of his campaign – his appearance was one of a dozen or more here since he began his campaign last May.

Patronis, a restauranteur, was appointed to the post by Scott in July, and Scott is strongly backing him, including fundraising.

Ring says he’s by far the most qualified, and because of the amount of money the CFO oversees, “Qualifications do matter.”

“Tom’s background is a homebuilder, Jimmy has run a successful family business,” he said at a previous appearance in Tampa. “I helped build Yahoo.”

Ring has one advantage over the Republicans: no current primary opponent. Democratic insiders say they don’t know of another serious candidate in the wings.

Democratic political operative Ben Pollara of Miami, asked which Republican he’d rather see Ring run against, said, “I don’t really know. What I want is for the Republican primary to be as ugly as possible.”

In the state Senate, Ring at times voted with Republicans and against Democratic stances, especially on education issues including vouchers.

“The pro-public education groups have had a problem with him,” said Susan Smith, chairman of the party’s progressive caucus. “But I’m not sure it will matter in that race – if he were running for governor it would.”

Pollara said Ring is “somewhat inoculated” against ideological opposition because, “It’s a low-information race, there’s no primary, and CFO is a position that lends itself to a bit of conservatism.”

Ring’s Yahoo career made him wealthy, with a net worth of $12.5 million as of 2015, his last year in the Senate. The figure is probably higher now.

He declined to say exactly how much money his Yahoo career made him.

“I wasn’t a founding shareholder. If I was, I’d be running for governor and buying the election for $1 billion,” he said.

He said he’s willing to use some of his own money for the campaign, but probably will wait until late in the race to do so.

So far, he’s raised $217,213 and loaned himself $100,000, but he may have to spend heavily to keep up with the Republicans.

Patronis has $238,690 in campaign money plus $1.3 million in an independent committee. Lee has about $2.3 million in a political committee and about $36,000 in a campaign fund.

Florida Politics: “It looks like John Morgan is backing Jeremy Ring for Chief Financial Officer”

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Democratic CFO candidate Jeremy Ring picked up what looks to be an endorsement from Orlando mega attorney John Morgan on Tuesday morning.

Morgan gave the punny nod via Twitter, quoting an earlier tweet from Ring saying that the pair had a “great meeting yesterday.”

Ring is currently the only Democrat in the race, and while he was an exec at Yahoo during the company’s glory days, one could be forgiven for labeling him a “professional politician” given that he spent 10 years in the state Senate before leaving office due to term limits in 2016.

His chief rival so far is sitting CFO Jimmy Patronis, who was appointed to the job by Gov. Rick Scott earlier this year after CFO Jeff Atwater resigned the position to take a job at Florida Atlantic University.  He faces longshot candidate Antoanet Iotova in the Republican Primary, while Brandon Republican Sen. Tom Lee is also likely to file at some point over next few months.

Ring has piled on endorsements over the past couple months from elected Democrats in the state legislature and Congress, but Morgan’s endorsement is Ring’s first from a non-Democrat, though just barely.

Morgan had long been considered a potential candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor, given his successful advocacy for – and bankrolling of – the medical marijuana amendment in 2016, though he announced in November that he wouldn’t seek the nomination and would also leave the party.

“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,” he wrote at the time.

If he did throw his hat into the ring as an independent, a recent poll found he could be a spoiler or possible contender in the race, mostly at the expense of Democrats.

Florida Politics: “Jeremy Ring announces Florida Democratic lawmakers’ endorsements for CFO race

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The Florida chief financial officer campaign of Democratic former state Sen. Jeremy Ring announced Friday he has received the endorsements of more than half the Democrats in the Florida Senate, plus 11 Democrats in the Florida House of Representatives.

“From the very beginning I have believed that our campaign is all about people power,” Ring stated in a news release issued by his campaign. “I am proud to have the support of each and every one of these legislators. Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to see their dedication and leadership first-hand, which is why I am thankful to have them fighting in our corner in Tallahassee and excited to have them join our campaign!”

Ring seeks to take on Republican incumbent Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis in the November election. The Democratic lawmakers’ endorsements would help discourage other Democrats from getting into a primary challenge with Ring, who opened the first East Coast office of the internet company Yahoo! out of his apartment in 1996, and represented Broward County as a Democrat in the Florida Legislature from 2006 to 2016.

The Democratic state senators announced as endorsing him are Randolph Bracy of Oakland; Oscar Braynon of Miami Gardens; Gary Farmer of Fort Lauderdale; Audrey Gibson of Jacksonville; Bill Montford of Tallahassee; Kevin Rader of Boca Raton; Darryl Rouson of St. Petersburg; and Perry Thurston Jr. of Fort Lauderdale.

The Democratic state representatives announced as endorsing him are Joseph Abruzzo of Boynton Beach; Lori Berman of Lantana; Ben Diamond of St. Petersburg; Bobby DuBose of Fort Lauderdale; Katie Edwards-Walpole of Plantation; Joseph Geller of Aventura; Evan Jenne of Dania Beach; Shevrin Jones of West Park; Kionne McGhee of Miami; Sean Shaw of Tampa; and Richard Stark of Weston.

Ring’s campaign called the lineup of lawmaker endorsement “the surest sign yet of building momentum.”