Florida Justice Association’s No Good, Very Bad Primary Night

Matt Dixon, (@Mdixon55)

It was a bad primary day for the Florida Justice Association.

The group that represents state trial lawyers used a dizzying array of committees to spend roughly $530,000 in a handful of hotly contested GOP primaries, losing in each.

Most of the money started with Citizens Alliance for Florida’s Economy, a political committee chaired by Anthony Pedicini, a consultant involved in each of the races. That committee received $492,000 – 90 percent of its total – from FJA’s political arm.

From there, the committee dispersed the money to a handful of other committees that actually purchased ads in races across the state. In most cases the group was facing off against the Florida Medical Association and the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Those groups largely outspent FJA, but in politics a loss is a loss.

In the highest profile race of the primary cycle, Richard DiNapoli, the FJA-backed candidate, conceded shortly after polls closed Tuesday night in a race that wasn’t that close.

A group called Seniors for Affordable Care spent roughly $134,000 in ads attacking DiNapoli’s opponent, Julio Gonzalez. That committee was funded by an assortment of committees that all had close financial ties to FJA.

That race was one of the Florida Medical Association’s top priorities – Gonzalez is a doctor – and they spent heavily attacking DiNapoli. Collectively, FMA and the Chamber spent nearly $400,000 in the race.

In a closer Polk County GOP primary, FJA-supported candidate John Shannon lost by 173 votes to Colleen Burton, who received nearly $300,000 from the chamber and Florida Medical Association-funded committees. FJA used a committee called Famlies for Lower Taxes to fund attacks against Burton in that race.

That same committee was used by FJA in a Central Florida GOP primary where its candidate, Randy Glisson, lost to Jennifer Sullivan by a 34-29 margin. Between the two races, Families for Lower Taxes spent roughly $360,000 on attack ads.

FJA was involved in other races, but these were three closely watched fights that  represent stinging loss.

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