Danny McAuliffe, Author at Florida Politics - Page 7 of 38

Danny McAuliffe

Andrew Gillum, Ron DeSantis have each hauled in more than $16M following primary

The polls are close, and so is the money chase between the top two candidates running for Florida Governor.

Democrat Andrew Gillum has raised $16.4 million between his campaign and committee accounts since the week of his upset primary victory in August. That sum includes the $3 million investment into his campaign from the Democratic Governors Association, which announced on Friday it’s putting another $1 million behind the Tallahassee Mayor’s bid for the Governor’s Mansion.

Republican Ron DeSantis has raked in nearly $12.4 million through his campaign and committee accounts, although he’s also directly benefiting from another committee, Florida Facts. The Republican Governors Association is in part funneling its support to DeSantis through Florida Facts, which has raised just more than $4 million since the primary.

According to POLITICO, RGA has said it will spend up to $10 million backing the former congressman. Last week, the group donated $1 million to DeSantis’ PAC, Friends of Ron DeSantis, bringing their total post-primary investment to just more than $5 million. In the final weeks approaching the election, RGA had put $2.4 million into the committee, although all but $100,000 of that was spent ahead of the Aug. 28 election.

If the money in Florida Facts — which has run a series of televised attack ads against Gillum — is accounted, DeSantis leads Gillum by less than $50,000 in fundraising since the Aug. 28 primary. Otherwise, Gillum through his campaign and committee has outraised DeSantis by more than $4 million. 

Beyond the DGA, union interests recently topped Gillum’s donor list. Last week, two $750,000 donations came from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, or AFSCME, and the American Federation of Teachers. Two $250,000 checks came from Everytown for Gun Safety and the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. The Florida Education Association, the state’s largest teacher’s union, chipped in $100,000.

Most recently, DeSantis’ primary committee was floated by a $250,000 check from Spring Bay Capital, a Ponte Vedra-based investment firm. DeSantis also received $100,000 contributions from construction, pilot and beverage interests.

Some early polling of the race has been generous to Gillum, consistently putting him ahead of DeSantis. But as the state edges closer to Election Day, the latest surveys indicate the race is tied, or very close.

Leon Co. Sheriff defends Andrew Gillum amid hurricane criticism

Tallahassee Mayor and Democratic candidate for Governor Andrew Gillum is hoping to offset the effects of two attack ads questioning his leadership during the 2016 hurricane that struck the capital city.

The chosen surrogate to mount a defense: Leon County Sheriff Walt McNeil, a Democrat who earlier this week endorsed Gillum’s bid for Governor. McNeil was not yet sheriff when Hurricane Hermine struck Tallahassee.

“Hurricanes don’t have a party affiliation,” McNeil says in a new 30-second video produced by the Gillum campaign. “And neither should our response efforts.”

McNeil is addressing the latest hits from the Florida GOP. He was Tallahassee police chief before becoming Secretary of the Department of Juvenile Justice and also Department of Corrections under then-Republican Gov. Charlie Crist.

On Thursday, the party released two new television ads featuring testimonials from Tallahassee residents who blame Gillum for the delayed restoration of power in the wake of Hermine, which struck in August 2016.

“Gillum refused help from workers,” one woman charges. Adds another: “Gillum turned away workers who could have restored our power.”

After the storm, Tallahassee officials said they did not “reject” offers of help from outside utilities in the wake of Hurricane Hermine, but rather just didn’t say “yes” to everyone right away.

And at the time, Gillum told Florida Politics he was in the dark about a formal offer by Florida Power & Light to help restore power after Hermine.

City utilities chief Rob McGarrah later explained at a special post-storm meeting that too many line workers, rather than being a boon, would have presented a coordination and safety nightmare.

“… If crew A doesn’t know where crew B is, and we energize a line, somebody’s going to get hurt,” McGarrah said then. “It’s about what we can manage … everybody I know in our business does it that way.”

In the clip featuring McNeil, the Sheriff accuses Gillum’s Republican opponent, Ron DeSantis, of politicizing natural disasters.

“I’m disappointed Ron DeSantis is lying about Mayor Andrew Gillum and I’m appalled he’s using hurricanes to score political points,” says McNeil in the video. He claims Gillum “led our city courageously.”

The video for now is running on digital channels only, according to the Gillum campaign.

Nelson Scott Blue

Retirees criticize Rick Scott for ‘ageist, inflammatory’ attacks on Bill Nelson

A group boasting more than 188,000 retired Floridian voters is calling on Gov. Rick Scott to quit suggesting Sen. Bill Nelson‘s age makes him unfit for office.

“The members of the Florida Alliance for Retired Americans call on Governor Rick Scott to stop using ageist, inflammatory language to describe Senator Nelson immediately,” Bill Sauers, president of the organization, said.

Nelson, 76, faced Scott for a televised debate on Tuesday. During at least one of his responses, Scott said Nelson is “confused.”

“We noticed and were angered each time Rick Scott used a code word to insinuate false, slanderous reasons for not re-electing Senator Nelson during the Telemundo debate,” continues Sauers.

After the debate ended, Scott’s campaign manager, Jackie Schutz Zeckman, charged that Nelson is “barely hanging on.”

“Tonight, you will see Bill Nelson losing his mind,” Schutz Zeckman added. “A rambling, incoherent, confused, disjointed performance from a desperate career politician who is trying to hold onto his job.”

Responded Sauers: “Those statements are offensive and patently untrue and suggest that Rick Scott has a deep seated bias against older Floridians. Ageism has no place in this campaign.”

In response to criticism from the Florida Alliance, Scott spokesman Chris Hartline wrote on Twitter that the attacks are on Nelson’s ideas, not his age.

“It’s his ideas that are old, which is why we need term limits,” Hartline tweeted.

Hartline also cited an instance when Nelson had questioned the late former Gov. Lawton Chiles‘ aptitude for the job. According to Hartline, Nelson is quoted saying “the mental and physical history and the mental and physical health of a candidate for Governor is a legitimate issue.”

In prior spats between the two, Scott has also suggested Nelson is confused, though has not outright linked the accusation to Nelson’s age.

An August ad from the Scott campaign said Nelson was confused when he made public claims that the Russians had penetrated the state’s voting systems this election cycle. Those claims have not been confirmed. Scott’s team titled the video “Confused.”

Dueling ads seek to frame Andrew Gillum’s corporate tax proposal

It’s no secret Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum is partially campaigning on a tax hike.

What’s unknown: how Florida’s electorate receives it. And money is being spent on both sides to determine that outcome.

On Wednesday, Gillum released an education-themed television ad in which he says, “Not one person, family, or small business pays more in taxes.” That’s a reference to his plan to raise the corporate tax rate from 5.5 percent to 7.75 percent while continuing to exempt most small businesses from paying the tax.

In theory, that extra revenue would result in an additional $1 billion, which Gillum plans to dedicate to teachers and public schools.

“I will make sure that the wealthy corporations pay their fair share so that we can give teachers a raise, and expand career and skills training,” Gillum adds.

But while the Tallahassee Mayor frames his tax increase as a benefit to public education, his adversaries shape the plan as something that would hurt the Sunshine State’s economy.

The Republican Governor’s Association released a television ad on Wednesday as well. Only this one claims Gillum’s tax plan would bring the economy to a “sudden stop.”

“He wants a statewide tax increase,” the ad’s narrator says. “He admits it’s a $1 billion tax hike.”

It’s the second time the RGA has mentioned the tax increase in a television ad attacking Gillum since the primary. A September ad titled, “Too Far,” claimed that raising the corporate tax rate “would be a disaster for the economy.”

On the campaign trail, Republican Ron DeSantis has reportedly criticized Gillum over the proposed tax hike. The Orlando Sentinel reported last week that DeSantis said raising the corporate tax rate “would be a devastating move amidst what he sees as a flourishing economy.”

On the television front, Gillum’s messaging extends well-beyond the tax issue. He has released a series of issue-focused ads in the past week on topics like health care and the environment.

Responding to the latest attack from the RGA, Gillum spokesman Joshua Karp said Gillum opposed raising property taxes in Tallahassee as Mayor.

But in response, RGA spokesman Jon Thompson clarified. Gillum, as a city commissioner in 2009, indeed voted for a near-15 percent increase in the property tax.

Sheriffs line up behind Andrew Gillum

The Democratic candidate for Governor is beginning to corral law enforcement interests around his campaign.

Andrew Gillum announced Wednesday that five former and current county sheriffs had endorsed his gubernatorial bid.

The wave of support comes from law enforcement leaders in North and Central Florida counties, including Osceola, Orange, Alachua, Gadsden, and Leon, where Gillum lives and presides as Mayor of Tallahassee.

Specifically, Gillum received support from Leon County Sheriff Walt McNeil, Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell, Osceola County Sheriff Russell H. Gibson Gadsden County Sheriff Morris Young, and former Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings, who resigned his post earlier this year and was elected Mayor of the same county.

All of the endorsers are Democrats, and many noted Gillum’s gun control promises, like an all-out assault weapons ban, and his past victories in court against the National Rifle Association.

But Darnell, the Alachua sheriff, hasn’t always endorsed along party lines. She’s thrown her weight behind Republican Gov. Rick Scott‘s bid for the U.S. Senate. During the primary, she also endorsed Republican Agriculture Commissioner hopeful Denise Grimsley, who ultimately lost to Matt Caldwell.

McNeil, the sheriff in Gillum’s home territory, already spoke out in support of Gillum on the campaign trail. When Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis criticized Gillum about Tallahassee’s violent crime rates, McNeil released a statement saying that “violent crime is down 24 percent, and overall crime is down 10 percent with crime at a five-year low in Tallahassee.”

On Wednesday, McNeil said: “I have personally worked with Andrew and have watched him work to build a safer community for our kids, work side by side with law enforcement to tackle violent crime, and stand up for common sense gun reform.”

Demings, whose popularity as sheriff helped elevate him to Orange’s mayoral post, said: “After 37 years in law enforcement, I know what it takes to keep our communities secure. Mayor Gillum brought the police and community together, reduced crime and took on the gun lobby to keep our families safer.”

During the primary, 48 of Florida’s 67 county sheriffs lined up to support Republican then-candidate Adam Putnam. Those sheriffs could transition their support to DeSantis, whose law enforcement platform is likely closer to Putnam’s than Gillum’s is.

Red zone: Andrew Gillum draws hundreds to environmental discussion in conservative territory

The issues affecting Florida vary, but they’re all “interwoven” and dependent on the actions of elected officials up and down the ballot, according to the Democrat running for the top spot on Election Day.

Candidate for Governor Andrew Gillum rolled out his environmental plan on Tuesday, promising a series of changes to preserve the state’s natural resources and actions that he believes would curb issues currently in the fore, like harmful blue-green algal blooms and red tide.

But in part, those changes are conditional. Floridians must send “a whole slate to the Cabinet, and our House and our Senate members all back to Tallahassee,” Gillum said during a waterfront news conference in Siesta Key, which has suffered toxic red tide fish kills this year. In the historically conservative Sarasota town, hundreds of Floridians showed up to listen.

Gillum was joined at the conference by state Rep. Margaret Good, who won a special election in February that’s been heralded as a signal for a Democratic ‘blue wave’ in November. Good’s district went for President Donald Trump in 2016.

Alongside the once-longshot Democratic candidate and in front of calm coastal waters, Gillum pitched to a large crowd that his party had the answer to Florida’s environmental issues.

Good introduced Gillum as “the change” to poor water quality that she blamed on “20 years of Republican rule.”

When Gillum addressed the audience, he spoke of the “intersectionality” between Florida’s issues, suggesting the environment is inextricably linked to the economy, even health care.

“The future of this state very much so depends on what we do to our great environment it depends on the businesses that have sprung up all around this area that depend on the tourism and the ecotourism that helps to power the state of Florida,” Gillum told the crowd. 

The environment weighs on the “well-being” and “health of the people,” he added.  

Shortly after the conference, Gillum rolled out an environmental policy plan. It largely focuses on measures that he believes would mitigate future problems with the toxic red tide and blue-green algal blooms. He advocates for upgrading wastewater treatment processes. He also promotes policies that would require septic-to-sewer conversions.

That concept would likely find support across the partisan aisle, as researchers sponsored by the Florida Chamber of Commerce recently pointed excess nitrogen from older septic tanks as a potential culprit of algal blooms. The Chamber is backing Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis.

DeSantis and Gillum also appear to agree on proposed environmental measures. DeSantis unveiled his environmental plan earlier this month, proposing bans on fracking and offshore drilling. Gillum suggests doing the same. Both candidates also recommended similar Everglades protections, including working with the federal government to fully fund the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan.

DeSantis also would convene a task force to “deal with Florida’s red tide crisis,” according to Stephen Lawson, DeSantis’ communications director.

“Beginning on day one, Ron DeSantis will protect our environment by fighting for the completion of the southern reservoir, stopping the toxic algae discharges, and finding solutions to the red tide,” Lawson added. 

But DeSantis’ record on the environment was attacked by groups like Florida Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club when he unveiled his plan — in part because of his apprehension to address climate change at the state level.

That’s where he and Gillum contrast. In Siesta Key, Gillum called for climate change resiliency efforts to combat rising sea levels. And he targets climate change in his policy plan.

“Sea level rise poses a catastrophic threat to our state — and one we’re wholly unprepared to face,” Gillum’s plan reads. It also proposes that the state reconvene climate change summits started under former Gov. Charlie Crist, and “transition our energy production towards clean, renewable sources like solar and wave/tidal.”

Complementing Gillum’s environmental plan is a new television ad released by his campaign on Tuesday, titled “Protection.” In it, he targets “special interests” and corporations for the state’s environmental issues.

Andrew Gillum

Blame game: Andrew Gillum targets corporations, special interests in environmental ad

A new television ad out from the Andrew Gillum campaign zeroes in on Florida’s environment, specifically the harmful algal blooms wreaking havoc in the state’s coastal waterways.

The culprit: “special interests” and “corporate profit,” according to the Democratic gubernatorial nominee.

“The toxic air, red tide and algae blooms around Florida are an economic and environmental disaster,” Gillum says at the beginning of the 30-second spot. “No corporate profit is worth sacrificing our clean air and water.”

Gillum then suggests that the environmental problems in the fore currently won’t be curbed until “we take back our state government from special interests who are only interested in short-term profits, not our health or our jobs.”

In July, the growing presence of harmful blue-green algal blooms in several southeastern counties prompted Gov. Rick Scott to issue a state of emergency.

In August, Scott issued another state of emergency in southwestern counties affected by a different type of algae, colloquially known as red tide.

On the campaign trail, Gillum’s Republican opponent, Ron DeSantis, has made a point of addressing blue-green algae.

Gillum on Tuesday also joined Democratic state Rep. Margaret Good in Siesta Key to publicly discuss red tide. He also unveiled a formal environmental plan.

To view the full ad, click on the image below.

Ron DeSantis hits Andrew Gillum on donors subpoenaed by FBI

Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis hasn’t been shy in attacking his Democratic opponent about the ongoing FBI investigation in Tallahassee.

The latest strike? The DeSantis campaign is calling on Andrew Gillum to return more than $75,000 in campaign donations from those who’ve been subpoenaed in the course of the more-than-three-year-long investigation into Tallahassee’s city government.

While no charges have been filed, the DeSantis campaign considers the subpoenaed donors and businesses linked to them as “tied to the FBI investigation.”

“Records show that Gillum has received contributions from 36 of the 40 named subjects of the FBI investigation,” Stephen Lawson, DeSantis’ communications director said. “These new facts continue to link Andrew Gillum to the FBI’s investigation.” 

Lawson suggested the donations, which date back to 2004, implicate Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee who has not been named by the feds in any public documents related to the investigation.

The Gillum campaign did not return a request for comment.

Most of the donations listed by the DeSantis campaign are old. A $500 donation from Pittman Law Group on August 11 into Gillum’s committee is the latest listed.

That contribution, like most, is unlikely to be returned. Pittman Law Group owner Sean Pittman is the senior strategic adviser for Gillum’s campaign. He isn’t named in any subpoenas. He is listed by the DeSantis campaign because he invested in Cascades Holdings, a company formed by Adam Corey, a local lobbyist at the center of the investigation.

Corey is also a Gillum donor, although his last donation came before news of the FBI investigation broke last year. Gillum has since publicly cut ties with Corey.

News of the investigation was first unearthed by the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper in June 2017.

The Florida Democratic Party did not address the hit directly, but issued a news release on Monday highlighting controversial donations to DeSantis. Among them: $20,000 from Steven Alembik, who called former President Barack Obama the N-word on Twitter. The Associated Press reported in September that DeSantis would not return the money.

“DeSantis should return the money from his shady and racist Trumpworld donors and start being honest with the people of Florida about his relationships with some of the most toxic people in American politics,” charged FDP spokesman Kevin Donohoe.

Former President Barack Obama endorses Andrew Gillum

Is there a bigger ‘get’? President Barack Obama announced Monday he’s supporting Andrew Gillum to become Florida’s first African-American Governor.

“Andrew is a proven fighter with the courage and determination to stand up for Florida families,” Obama said in a statement supporting the Tallahassee Mayor. “As Governor, Andrew will expand access to affordable health care, protect Floridians with pre-existing conditions, invest in education, protect the environment and build an economy that works for all.”

Obama, whose legacy is in part marked by the passage of the Affordable Care Act, commended Gillum’s stances on health care, saying, “Andrew believes that healthcare is a right, not a privilege, and he will make expanding Medicaid a priority on day one as governor.”

Responded Gillum: “As Governor, we’ll build on his legacy by making healthcare a right, not a privilege, investing in our children’s education, and protecting the environment for our future generation of Floridians.”

He also commended Gillum’s tenure as mayor of the state’s capital city.

The former President’s support was announced on Monday in his second wave of midterm election endorsements. Joining Gillum were running mate Chris King and U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, who also received on Monday the endorsement of Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló. Rosselló also is expected to endorse Gillum later on Monday.

Other down-ballot candidates also received nods from Obama. According to the former president’s press office, he’s weighed in on 260 midterm races this cycle.

“The Democratic Party has always made the biggest difference in the lives of the American people when we lead with conviction, principle, and bold, new ideas,” Obama said in a statement announcing the endorsements. “Our incredible array of candidates up and down the ticket, all across the country, make up a movement of citizens who are younger, more diverse, more female than ever before.”

He added that he was “eager to continue making the case for why they deserve our votes this November.”

Also included in the endorsement wave: Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy and Democratic congressional hopefuls Nancy Soderberg, Stephanie MurphyChris Hunter,  Lauren Baer and Debbie MucarselPowell.

Soderberg, who faces Republican Michael Waltz in the race for Florida’s 6th Congressional District, said she was “excited” to have Obama backing her Congressional campaign.

“I am deeply honored to have earned the support of President Obama who has been an extraordinary testament to what we can achieve when we work together to live out our American values,” she said. “President Obama continues to inspire millions in this country and around the world with his vision of and work to build a more inclusive society that enables all of us to reach our full potential.”

In races for state Senate seats, Obama announced endorsements for Sen. Annette Taddeo, along with Senate candidates Kayser Enneking, Janet Cruz, Bob Doyel, Lindsay Cross and David Perez.

In the House, incumbents Margaret Good, Nick Duran and Javier Fernandez received 44’s backing. So too did candidates Anna Eskamani, Fentrice Driskell and Emma Collum.

To Florida House Victory, a the state legislative arm of the Florida Democratic Party, those endorsements signal that the down-ballot races are getting national attention.

“President Barack Obama’s endorsement of Florida House Victory candidates goes to show that the success of Democrats in the state House is a crucial part of moving Florida forward,” said Marisol Samayoa, spokesperson for Florida House Victory. “As a former state legislator himself, President Obama recognizes the role that legislatures can play as the first line of defense against Republican attacks on health care, public education, and the environment.”

#FlaPol in Review: A weekend roundup

With only a handful of weekends left until Election Day, everyone’s doing something.

On Twitter, Democrats outshined Republicans this weekend. But the GOP, which held its largest fundraising event of the year on Saturday night, isn’t lacking by any means.

The signs are coming for Rick Scott‘s Senate bid:

Yes, Andrew Gillum packed the house in Palatka:

Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis attended a service in a Puerto Rican church:

Democratic Agriculture Commissioner hopeful Nikki Fried posed with actress Alyssa Milano, who phone-banked for the Democrats this weekend:

Republican Ag Comish candidate Matt Caldwell hit Seminole County on the trail this weekend:

Jeremy Ring, who’s challenging CFO Jimmy Patronis, was facey in South Florida:

Patronis addressed GOP fundraisers at The Victory Dinner on Saturday night:

Sean Shaw, the Democratic candidate for Attorney General, pointed to crowd size in Flagler:

Erin Brockovich backed Brian Mast‘s policy:

Stephanie Murphy got some help from Rollins College students:

Mario DiazBalart celebrated stone crabbing:

From congressional candidate David Shapiro:

Chris King, running mate to Gillum, threw out the first pitch for the Rays:

From House Minority Leader Janet Cruz, who’s challenging state Sen. Dana Young:

From Young:

Sen. Annette Taddeo is having fun on the reelection campaign trail:

State Rep. Bob Cortes is ‘three-packing’ yard signs:

From state Rep. Bryan Avila:

From state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith:

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