Danny McAuliffe – Page 5 – Florida Politics

Danny McAuliffe

It’s a Bucs life? Tampa Bay football is a Republican stronghold

If elections were decided by football fans, then supporters of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers would be targeted heavily by Republicans and could be one of just a few team bases to elect someone other than a Democrat.

According to a survey distributed by FiveThirtyEight, a data-focused site headed by Nate Silver specializing in content on politics, economics and sports, the fan base of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers reported political affiliations that would give a 9.5 percentage point Republican lean over Democrats — a gap larger than that of any other National Football League team’s fan base favoring Republicans.

That said, just six of the 32 teams in the League had fan bases favoring Republicans, and the results of the poll showed the average base for any given team gives Democrats a 6 point lean. There were 105 respondents who answered as Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans.

Meanwhile, the Jacksonville Jaguars base came in with a 2.4 percent Republican lean and the Miami Dolphins fan base leans 7.7 percent more Democratic. The fan base of the San Francisco 49ers had the highest (22 percent) Democratic lean.

Conducted during September of last year, complementary research found that the NFL, when compared to other major sports, had the least ‘partisan’ fan base, but had the most ‘fandom searches,’ or queries online about terms related to the sport. Democratic areas held more interest in the NBA, MLB and NHL; search volumes dipped slightly in areas that were more Republican (where President Donald Trump grabbed more votes in 2016). Vice versa for college basketball, NASCAR and college football. But there is no such relationship for fans of the NFL. 

In essence, the lack of a correlation between how Democratic or Republican an area is and its interest in the NFL suggests that the sport transcends party lines.

To writers at FiveThirtyEight, that explains the delicacy with which the NFL must handle its political issues. Politics have undoubtedly been problematic in the League’s recent seasons, the primary concern is whether players should be required to stand for the national anthem. Players kneel in protest of social injustices, but some interpret such protests as disrespecting the country and its military.

“The NFL’s fan base is much more bipartisan than those of other major sports leagues, and it risks angering one side or the other if it mishandles the situation,” wrote Neil Paine, Harry Enten and Andrea Jones-Rooy of FiveThirtyEight.

The League recently adopted anthem-related rules allowing it to fine teams who kneel on the sideline during the anthem’s playing. However, the rules give teams the option to let players remain in the locker room during the anthem’s playing without punishment from the League, though it appears such policy will have to be approved on a team-by-team basis.

Though intended to ease tensions between the field and the Oval Office, the new rules did not sit well with President Trump. He tweeted Monday night, “Staying in the Locker Room for the playing of our National Anthem is as disrespectful to our country as kneeling. Sorry!”

In new ad, Philip Levine capitalizes on NRA survey

Some Democrats are making a fuss over a questionnaire vetting Florida politicians on their gun-related ideologies, but only one of the party’s candidates for Governor has gone as far as making an ad to mock it.

Former Miami Beach Mayor and Democratic candidate for Governor Philip Levine released a digital ad on Wednesday titled “Final Exam,” in which he provides his responses to questions on the survey distributed by the National Rifle Association and Unified Sportsmen of Florida.

Hitting social media just a day after prospective candidates received the questionnaire, the ad is timely and demonstrative of Levine’s ability to quickly churn out campaign content. Although Democratic Florida House District 47 candidate Anna Eskamani was one of the first to highlight the questionnaire. On Tuesday Eskamani wrote on Facebook, “It’s crafted to provide a myopic view of gun access. To use the questionnaire’s own language, you are either “pro-gun” or “anti-gun.” Orlando businessman Chris King, another Democratic candidate for Governor, said he thought the survey was “somewhat comical” Wednesday at a gun violence prevention roundtable in Orlando.  

“The Mayor’s direct response to Floridians underscores his commitment to take action, pass common-sense gun reform, and do the right thing to make Florida’s gun laws the safest in the nation,” said Christian Ulvert, Senior Advisor to the campaign.

In the minute-long short, the former mayor approaches a whiteboard with the NRA’s stances on one side juxtaposed with an open column for Levine’s input. He then methodically goes through each, showing his beliefs are antithetical to the organization’s through checks made with a whiteboard marker. 

As Scott Powers of Florida Politics reported on Tuesday, the questionnaire offers polarizing options for candidates, and notably focuses on the gun control provisions in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety passed by the Legislature following the Parkland tragedy and signed into law by Republican Gov. Rick Scott. The NRA is suing the state over the legislation. 

“The 2018 ‘Gun Control/School Safety’ bill contained gun control provisions that we believe are un-constitutional,” reads the questionnaire. Among those provisions: a ban on bump stocks, a mandatory three-day waiting period to purchase any gun, and a new firearm-purchase age requirement, raised from 18 to 21.

In the ad, Levine says, “School safety law? Well the NRA said it’s not constitutional, I think it’s a step in the right direction.” He then marks the board, signifying his approval.

The former mayor also expresses support for banning assault rifles, keeping guns off college campuses, and returning power to local officials so they can enact stricter gun control measures than the state. For each concern, the NRA stands opposite Levine.

“I know one thing,” Levine says at the end of the ad. “The NRA may not be happy be happy with my answers, but the people of Florida certainly will be.”

Scott Powers of Florida Politics contributed reporting. 

Nicholas Duran, Shevrin Jones plan teacher rally

The two Democratic state lawmakers who tried but failed to reconvene the Legislature to increase education funding now are planning a rally for teachers in South Florida.

Rep. Shevrin Jones, a West Park Democrat, and Miami Democratic Rep. Nicholas Duran announced Tuesday that they’re putting together the “Red For Education Teacher Rally.” It will be held on August 19, the Sunday before the first day of the 2018-2019 school year in Miami-Dade County. It will take place in Miami Gardens.

Joining the two South Florida lawmakers are state Senate Minority Leader Oscar Braynon and Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert. Other area officials are expected to attend.

In a prepared statement, Duran emphasized the importance of giving teachers and other parties a chance to congregate and demand action.

“In our fight to improve Florida’s education system, it is essential that we provide a venue where teachers, students, parents, and the rest of the community can gather together to request better efforts to ensure our public schools are equipped with the adequate resources to provide high quality education for all our children,” Duran said.

Citing what many education officials and Democratic lawmakers believe to be inadequate funding for the upcoming school year, Jones called for action.

“Our schools are being starved out by these poorly thought out mandates and dangerous funding levels. We will not continue to tolerate this blatant disregard for the growing needs of Florida’s schools,” Jones said.

Duran and Jones led a push in May to bring legislators back to Tallahassee to reexamine what they claimed to be a funding shortage for schools created by the Marjory Stoneman High School Public Safety Act, which mandates additional costs to schools and prevents districts from tapping into money reserved for an on-campus armed guardian program, should they choose not to participate.

But the lawmakers’ attempt failed. They were unable to obtain the needed support — three-fifths of the Republican-led Legislature — to reconvene both chambers.

Red is a common theme for teacher-related causes. In 2017, teachers across the country wore red in protest of U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

‘There’s no catch’: Amendment 2 supporters say it’s for everyone

As its name suggests, Amendment 2 Is For Everybody — the campaign supporting the second proposal on the November ballot — is spreading the word that voting in favor of Amendment 2 would benefit all Floridians.

The campaign hosted a Facebook Live panel on Monday with private-industry tax experts who claimed Amendment 2, which seeks to extend an already existing 10 percent cap on properties that don’t have a homestead exemption, doesn’t come with a catch. Rather, it would benefit the economy as a whole, from businesses to consumers to schools to renters — especially those seeking affordable housing.

Voters approved the current cap in 2008. It will expire this year. If Amendment 2 passes, it would permanently extend the cap. It was primed for a ballot appearance in 2017 when the Legislature nearly unanimously approved the idea (HJR 21).

Robert Weissert, who works as the executive vice president and counsel at Florida TaxWatch, said if voters approved Amendment 2, then the state would maintain an economically healthy status quo.

While careful not to pitch the proposal as a “tax cut,” Weissert explained that if the proposal is shot down by voters, it would result in a $700 million tax increase.

“So, a ‘yes’ on Amendment 2 avoids a three-fourths of a billion-dollar tax increase,” Weissert said. “That’s a big impact.”

To back his claim he cited a study conducted by the fiscal-research group he represents. It found that the “loss of the non-homestead cap could have some serious impacts on Florida, decreasing disposable income, increasing rents and business costs, and exacerbating and perpetuating the existing inequities of Florida’s property tax system.” Weissert said TaxWatch was able to arrive at that conclusion by examining the economic effects of the pre-cap era leading up to 2008.

French Brown, a Dean Mead attorney with more than a decade of experience in state and local taxation, said the economic impact of failing to pass Amendment 2 wouldn’t just affect owners of rental properties who’d be subjected to varying increases each year should the value of their property increase.

Instead, he said, the proposal’s failure would impact the entire state, as it would increase the general cost of doing business. The additional tax burden would trickle down to consumers.

“If property-tax values are allowed to increase unchecked in the future — if Amendment 2 fails — then it can certainly hit all Floridians in their pocketbook,” Brown said.

Added Weissert: “What we really need to understand is that [if Amendment 2 fails] it will directly impact all Floridians because it will directly impact Florida’s economy, it will increase the cost of renting a home, it will increase the cost of owning property in Florida that is not homesteaded, and it will increase the cost of doing business in Florida.”

One Facebook user asked during the session, “I am about to open a business, how does this affect me?”

Brown replied: failure to continue the cap would impact the user “significantly and directly.”

“Property taxes are an incredibly important part of your business plan,” Brown said, pointing to the size of the expense. He added that extending a cap permanently would bring stability to any investment idea and mitigate overall tax burdens.

Weissert also suggested that eliminating the cap on property tax increases could exacerbate the affordable housing crisis in the state, as investors would be deterred.

“There are communities in Florida already with this issue,” Weissert said.

The Florida Association of Realtors is backing the proposal with its coalition of partners. The group kicked off Everybody Is For Amendment 2 in August. As of May, fundraising reports show the association has funneled $660,000 into the committee, as reported by Drew Wilson of Florida Politics. 

To pass, the amendment will need to receive 60 percent voter approval. It’s one of 13 proposals that will appear on the November ballot.

Donald Trump pardons controversial Sunshine Summit guest

With his campaign finance violations behind him via a presidential pardon, conservative thought leader Dinesh D’Souza can now focus his full attention on the upcoming Florida GOP’s Sunshine Summit in Orlando at which he is a featured speaker.

On Thursday, President Donald Trump tweeted he would pardon D’Souza because “he was treated very unfairly by our government.” 

D’Souza pleaded guilty and was convicted on a 2014 charge of attempting “to illegally contribute over $10,000 to a Senate campaign,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York. Despite his guilty plea, D’Souza maintained he was the victim of a political attack in retaliation for his documentary critical of Barack Obama.

The Republican Party of Florida in April announced that D’Souza would be a featured guest speaker at its 2018 Sunshine Summit. The two-day event begins June 28 at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando.

The decision to feature D’Souza drew backlash because he made insensitive remarks on Twitter regarding survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. In one instance he tweeted, “Worst news since their parents told them to get summer jobs,” over a photo of students crying after the Florida House did not approve a motion to consider an assault weapons ban in the wake of the Parkland massacre. 

Following that incident, the Conservative Political Action Conference dropped D’Souza from its list of guest speakers ahead of its conference earlier this year.

While the RPOF intends to host D’Souza despite the criticism he’s brought with him, high-profile Republicans like U.S. Senate candidate and Gov. Rick Scott, Agriculture Commissioner and gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam and U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo have criticized the decision to invite the controversial conservative, as reported by POLITICO Florida.

U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, another Republican candidate for Governor, has distanced himself from D’Souza, but has maintained that disagreements shouldn’t warrant a disinvite.

Chris King debuts second TV ad, promises gun reform

Orlando businessman Chris King is back again on television, this time with a message focused solely on gun control.

The Democratic candidate for Governor will air his new ad “Stand Up” beginning Wednesday in Gainesville, Jacksonville, Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne, Panama City and West Palm Beach-Fort Pierce television markets. These are the same areas where his last ad, “New Direction,” aired two weeks ago.

The 30-second spot opens with an image of the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, where 49 people were murdered in a mass shooting almost two years ago.

“Two years ago, 49 people were murdered at Pulse nightclub — and Rick Scott and the Legislature did nothing,” King charges before appearing on screen.

King contrasts the lack of action on gun control after Pulse with what followed the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, which instead saw notable gun restrictions passed by a Republican-led Legislature and signed into law by Republican Governor Rick Scott.

King, however, credits the post-Parkland action to the youth activism emanating from the survivors at the Broward County school and elsewhere.

“Then tragedy hit Parkland. But this time, a movement of young people refuses to accept the unacceptable,” King said. Then, a promise: “I want to shake up the old politics. I’ll stand up to the NRA and hold both parties accountable — to ban assault rifles and high-capacity magazines, and require background checks on all gun sales.”

The message isn’t a new one from King; the newcomer called for a ban on assault weapons during a campaign kickoff speech and has consistently called for gun reforms since the Parkland shooting. Though he is by no means alone in that regard amid his Democratic rivals. Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, former Congresswoman Gwen Graham and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum all are essentially in agreement when it comes to gun-control ideas like banning assault weapons.

But, King has secured one of the most notable pro-gun-control accolades: an endorsement from Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which formed in the wake of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn.

King is the second Democrat to go on TV, following Levine’s precocious TV spends dating back to November. While Graham and Gillum have yet to hit home screens, they typically poll ahead of King. The most recent available poll, released Tuesday, had the Orlando businessman coming in around 6 percent — behind his fellow primary opponents.

The victor of the Democratic primary will face one of the leading Republican candidates, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam or U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis. Putnam held off cable until April, and DeSantis has yet to appear in a campaign-backed ad, though the Ponte Vedra Beach Republican has an unobstructed path to Fox News for his takes, particularly those related to the Donald Trump administration, of which he is a staunch defender.

Beloved Tallahassee blues club damaged by fallen tree

The Bradfordville Blues Club suffered extensive damage on Tuesday when a large oak tree fell onto its roof, forcing the locale to cancel “upcoming shows for the foreseeable future.”

Owners Gary and Kim Anton issued a statement on Facebook Tuesday afternoon following the incident. “The club is in bad shape and will need extensive repairs,” they wrote. “Until then, we regrettably must cancel all upcoming shows for the foreseeable future.”

Information will soon be available on how to obtain refunds on advance ticket purchases, according to the Antons. Before news of the fallen tree, the Facebook page had advertised The Joe “Survival” Caruoso Experience With Bootsy, a June 1 show.

The news comes as the weakening Subtropical Storm Alberto moves through the Southeast.

Anton told the Tallahassee Democrat: “We have insurance on the contents but the owners have the building. Right now, we have to call the owners.”

The treasured capital city locale is rural, “surrounded by fields of tall stalks of corn and old majestic oak trees dripping with moss,” according to the Blues Club’s website. Located at 7152 Moses Lane in Tallahassee, online directions to the club state: “Just follow the tiki torches down the dirt roads till you reach the juke joint under the stars.”

Formerly known as Dave’s C.C. Club, the Tallahassee Democrat reports the Blues Club changed hands when its previous owners moved to the Carolinas. The current structure was built in 1964 and, reports the Democrat, “legend has it such giants as Ray Charles, B.B. King and Chuck Berry played shows under its modest roof.” 

Also reported by the Democrat, Grammy-award winning artist Bobby Rush once said: “That place (the BBC) is like home to me. I just do what I want to do when I get there because I feel at home there.”

A brief history of time: Here’s what Florida candidates are doing on Facebook

Social media giant Facebook recently unveiled its database of candidate and issue spending. It archives all political ads dating back to May 7.

The information provides insights to what extent candidates are prioritizing digital spending on Facebook along with its subsidiary Instagram.

The changes are a direct result of Facebook coming under scrutiny for giving way to Russian trolls during the 2016 election and enabling some to disperse messages of hate. The changes bring with them more intense verification and thorough disclosure processes. The most noticeable change to the average user is likely the “paid for by …” descriptor now attached to candidate- or issue-related ads.

In announcing the changes Thursday, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote, “One of my top priorities for 2018 is making sure we help prevent interference and misinformation in elections. These changes won’t fix everything, but they will make it a lot harder for anyone to do what the Russians did during the 2016 election and use fake accounts and pages to run ads.”

Zuckerberg also suggested the changes would result in more careful and message-conscious approaches, as each ad would now be easily traced back to who purchased it.

“I hope they’ll also raise the bar for all political advertising online,” wrote Zuckerberg.

The search option for the database is simple; typing in a candidate’s name or a political organization’s title will yield ads related to the search term, including who’s paid for them. Also provided: an estimated amount it took to advertise the ad, its status currently (active or not) and the number of impressions it has garnered.

Florida Politics has queried some terms related to 2018 races. It’s early yet, and results vary by candidate and group, but there already are some takeaways. For example, the Florida Democratic Party is inundating Facebook with anti-Rick Scott ads, meanwhile, U.S. Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis, who’s running for Governor, can’t quite seem to figure out the new rules.

Here’s a brief breakdown, as of Friday:

U.S. Senate

Republican Gov. Scott has run 30 ads since May 7, each one with less than $1,000 behind it. Eleven of the ads are either in Spanish or prefaced with Spanish and interpreted in English below.

Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson in the same time has launched 53 ads, a majority of which were solicitations for campaign donations.

Governor’s race

In the Republican primary race for Governor, Adam Putnam‘s Florida Grown committee has run 12 separate digital ads touting the Agriculture Commissioner’s vocational-technical program announced last week. Most of those were backed with buys ranging between $100 to $499, though one sits below $100, two are within the $1,000 to $5,000 range, and one has crossed into the $5,000 – $10,000 range.

Florida Grown also backed three ads with pro-life abortion messages, one fell in the $100 to $499 range, the other two were fueled by $500 – $999 buys.

Putnam’s spending on Facebook draws a stark contrast with DeSantis, who attempted to run one ad in May — only to see it taken down “because it goes against Facebook’s advertising policies,” reads the archive.

On the Democratic side, former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine has run 35 ads on Facebook since May 7. Most of the ads fall within the less than $100 or $100 to $499 range, but two have crossed the $1,000 mark: a video touting his progressive record as mayor and another expressing his support for teachers.

Former Congresswoman Gwen Graham, in contrast, doesn’t seem to be focusing as much on digital spending — on Facebook, at least. A search of her name reveals that she’s only had two ads, both spanning a day, since May 7. Both were backed with less than $100.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum has run 37 ads on Zuckerberg’s platforms. And at first glance it appears Gillum is getting the most bang for his buck — good news for a campaign behind in the money chase. The Gillum camp dished out between $100 – $499 to push out an Orlando Sentinel editorial on Florida’s record on health care. Over the article, Gillum wrote, “Our state ranks at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to access to affordable healthcare — we have a health care crisis. As Governor, I’ll fight for ‘Medicare for All’, an expansion of Medicaid, and protections for women’s health care and pre-existing conditions.”

It grabbed the mayor anywhere between 100,000 to 200,000 impressions, or the number of instances an ad is on-screen for the first time for a user. To reach the same amount of screens, Levine spent in the $1,000 to $5,000 range, though that amount of spending also netted the Miami Beach Mayor impressions exceeding 200,000 in one instance.

Orlando businessman Chris King, who’s consistently in third or fourth in the polls, has launched 33 ads since May 7, all but one of which was accompanied with $100 or less. He is, however, the second Democrat, following Levine, to finance a TV spend.

Cabinet races

In the recorded period, the candidates for Cabinet seats who’ve advertised on Facebook are as follows: Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, who’s running for reelection, Agriculture Commissioner candidates state Senator Denise Grimsley and Baxter Troutman, and state Rep. Jay Fant, who’s running for Attorney General.

U.S. Representatives

Two of the most vulnerable Florida Republicans, Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Brian Mast, both are active on Facebook. Mast has run 19 ads on his own accord since Facebook began archiving posts. Curbelo has just one, but has been supported with two others from a climate change-focused group. The Congressional Leadership Fund has dedicated a decent amount of digital spending for both candidates, though as of now it has yet to show up.

Former congressman Alan Grayson and incumbent Darren Soto, who will duke it out in the Aug. 28 primary, both were not active during the recorded period.

In the closely watched Democratic primary for CD 27, Donna Shalala has spent between $100 and $499 on five ads, while state Rep. David Richardson has spent similar amounts on five ads as well. The three other candidates did not spend anything.

Dems and Republicans

The Florida Democratic Party has hit Facebook consistently during May, sharing just two messages: defeat Scott and reform gun laws. Of the 133 ads by Dems in the recorded period, 55 targeted Scott while also solicitng donations. Only one Scott-focused buy exceeded $100.

Interestingly, a search for “Republican Party of Florida” yields a goose egg.

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