Ryan Nicol, Author at Florida Politics

Ryan Nicol

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to ryan.t.nicol@gmail.com.

You’ve got mail: Debbie Mucarsel-Powell benefits from direct mail

WOMEN VOTE!, the independent expenditure arm of EMILY’s List, has launched a new direct mail campaign urging voters in Florida’s 26th Congressional District to support the Democratic nominee, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell.

The campaign was begun earlier this month and will run through Sept. 27.

The group says their goal is to show Mucarsel-Powell is “a middle-class champion that will work to give everyone access to affordable quality health care.”

EMILY’s List is a PAC which seeks to assist pro-choice, Democratic women running for office. Their independent expenditure arm, WOMEN VOTE!, was created to mobilize women voters to support those candidates.

Florida Politics has obtained one of the mailers, below.

The ads speak out favorably about Mucarsel-Powell’s health care positions before listing the early voting periods for Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. along with date of Election Day, Nov. 6.

The group says it also plans to launch a negative mailer campaign on Mucarsel-Powell’s opponent, U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo.

A poll released Friday morning showed the candidates in a statistical tie, with Mucarsel-Powell ahead of Curbelo 46 percent to 45 percent.

FiveThirtyEight now has the race as a virtual toss-up, giving Curbelo 52-48 odds of holding onto his seat.

Emma Collum blasts ‘repugnant’ Republicans defending Brett Kavanaugh

Florida House candidate Emma Collum, a Democrat, is bashing Republican House members who signed a letter urging the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court — despite an allegation of a decades-old sexual assault.

Christine Blasey Ford alleges Kavanaugh drunkenly accosted her at a party when the two were back in high school. Ford recently agreed to testify in front of senators next week regarding her allegations. Kavanaugh also said he will testify and has denied the claims by Ford.

The letter from House Republicans, signed by 73 members, did not mention the allegation. Rather, Republican lawmakers emphasized Kavanaugh’s professional background and positive personal anecdotes to explain their support for his nomination.

“This letter is a repugnant show of partisanship over empathy and decency,” said Collum, currently running for the open seat in House District 93.

“By asking the Senate to confirm Kavanaugh and ignoring credible allegations of sexual assault, Florida Republicans are enabling sexual abusers and sending a clear message to other survivors: ‘If you come forward about your attacker, we won’t listen.’ We should believe women when they talk about their experiences.”

That latter sentiment echoes comments made by Hillary Clinton during her 2016 run for the presidency, when she said to sexual assault victims, “You have the right to be heard. You have the right to be believed.”

Critics responded by noting the Clintons’ previous pushback against numerous sexual assault accusers of former President Bill Clinton. The “right to be believed” portion of the quote was eventually removed from the Clinton’s 2016 campaign website, though the video of the remarks remained.

And currently, Democrats are earning sharp critiques for their handling of sexual assault allegations against U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, now running to become Minnesota’s attorney general. The party has not pulled its support for Ellison, and a recent poll found only 5 percent of likely Democratic voters in Minnesota believed the allegations.

Collum also called for the FBI to look into Ford’s claims.

“In Kavanaugh’s case, a full FBI investigation must be completed before a vote is considered. This letter makes it clear that Florida Republicans care more about control and power than they care about the millions of women whose only request is to be treated with dignity.”

So far, Senate Republicans and the White House have rejected calls for the FBI to investigate further. That’s despite the fact that the FBI performed a similar function when Anita Hill made accusations of workplace misconduct by then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.

Gun control group backs Andrew Gillum for Governor

Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund, a group advocating for stricter gun control measures across the U.S., announced Friday it was endorsing Andrew Gillum in the race for Governor.

Volunteers for the Moms Demand Action, a subset of the Everytown organization, were on hand at Gillum’s campaign office in Broward County to announce their support for the Democrat in his race against former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis.

Gaby Loewenstein, the Moms Demand Action deputy chapter lead for South Florida, spoke out about Gillum’s efforts regarding the group’s push for gun reform measures.

“Mayor Gillum has stood by our side the entire time,” Loewenstein said.

“As Governor, he will work to prohibit assault weapons, require a criminal background check on every gun sale in Florida, restrict gun access for people with dangerous histories and close the ‘boyfriend loophole’ to prohibit gun possession for those with domestic violence and stalking convictions.”

Gillum added: “Moms Demand and all of us in this state who believe in common, decent gun reform will have a champion in me.”

It’s no surprise Everytown is allied with Gillum over DeSantis in this race. DeSantis has made clear his positions on gun control.

Last month, he reportedly said a permit should not be required to openly carry guns in public. DeSantis has also said he would have vetoed the state law passed after the Stoneman Douglas shooting that added additional hurdles to purchase weapons in the state.

“The contrast between myself and my opponent on the issue of guns could not be any clearer,” Gillum said.

“I don’t believe that it is in any way extreme to say that if you want to carry the power of God at your waist belt, that you ought to at least have a background check.”

Gillum also referenced his time as Tallahassee Mayor fighting a lawsuit supported by the NRA regarding Gillum’s refusal to repeal an ordinance barring the shooting of guns in city parks.

He said he’ll do plenty more should he become the first Democrat to serve as Governor in 20 years: “Let’s get to work. Let’s get to organizing. Let’s get to voting. And let’s win this state back on Nov. 6.”

Carlos Curbelo trailing in newest CD 26 poll

Democrats earned a bit of good news in their efforts to overtake Congress with the release of a new poll showing incumbent U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo trailing in his re-election bid against Debbie Mucarsel-Powell.

A survey commissioned by Protect Our Care, and conducted by Public Policy Polling (PPP), has Mucarsel-Powell ahead by one point over Curbelo, 46 percent to 45 percent. It’s the first poll not commissioned by one of the campaigns giving the Democrat a lead in the race.

However, it should be noted that Protect Our Care is an organization seeking to keep the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in place. Those aims obviously align with the Democratic Party.

The group also sought to gauge support for the law among respondents.

A majority, 53 percent, say they support the ACA. Only 35 percent say they oppose it, while 12 percent are undecided.

A whopping 57 percent say they trust Democrats more on the issue of health care, while 40 percent favor President Donald Trump and Republicans.

Voters were also asked what type of congressional candidate they would seek to support.

A total of 57 percent say they’d prefer “a Democrat who supports the Affordable Care Act and wants to improve it.” Just 38 percent want “a Republican who wants to repeal” the ACA.

The poll does have some problems. Respondents were asked several questions regarding the ACA prior to being asked about their preference between Curbelo and Mucarsel-Powell. That may have skewed their answer, which is why pollsters are encouraged to ask the ballot question prior to testing issues.

Additionally, 43 percent of those sampled were Democrats while just 38 percent were Republicans. While Democrats may earn that type of advantage on Election Day, falling short could tip the race back toward Curbelo.

Nevertheless, the issue of health care could be Mucarsel-Powell’s key to ousting the incumbent in this race.

At a POLITICO forum back in June, she pegged health care as the most important issue to voters in the district. And the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released an ad earlier this month attempting to frame Curbelo’s vote to repeal the ACA as a reason to boot him from Congress.

That’s in line with Democrats’ broader strategy to emphasize health care during the 2018 midterms after Republicans’ failed attempt to repeal the ACA last year.

Lauren Baer polling within three points of Brian Mast

A new survey from Public Policy Polling (PPP) shows a tight contest in Florida’s 18th Congressional District, with incumbent U.S. Rep. Brian Mast leading Democratic challenger Lauren Baer by just three percentage points.

Mast gets 46 percent to Baer’s 43 percent, with 10 percent of respondents saying they were unsure.

Respondents were asked several questions regarding the ACA prior to being asked about their preference between Mast and Baer. That may have skewed their answer, which is why pollsters are encouraged to ask the ballot question prior to testing issues.

The survey was commissioned by Protect Our Care, a group which supports the preservation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

A majority of respondents, 51 percent, say they support the ACA. Just 37 percent say they oppose it, for a net approval rating of 14 percent.

When asked who they trust more to handle the issue of health care, 49 percent back Democrats and 46 percent say they favor Republicans and President Donald Trump. Only 4 percent are undecided.

But when it came to their district, voters favored Democrats by a wider margin.

A total of 49 percent of respondents say they would rather vote for a congressional candidate who is “a Democrat who supports the Affordable Care Act and wants to improve it.” That compares to 44 percent who say they’d prefer “a Republican who wants to repeal” the ACA.

Democrats have shown their intention to keep health care at the forefront of the 2018 midterms after Republicans’ failed attempt to repeal the ACA last year.

Baer released an ad back in August going after Mast for his vote in favor of Obamacare repeal.

Mary Barzee Flores closing in on Mario Diaz-Balart, poll shows

A new Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey gives incumbent U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart just a five-point lead over Democratic challenger Mary Barzee Flores in the race for Florida’s 25th Congressional District.

The poll shows 41 percent of the poll’s respondents say they plan on voting for Diaz-Balart on Nov. 6.

But Barzee Flores is close behind with 36 percent, followed by 22 percent who say they’re undecided.

That’s a net movement of two percentage points for Barzee Flores since the last PPP poll in May showed her down seven points.

Respondents were asked several questions regarding the ACA prior to being asked about their preference between Barzee Flores and Diaz-Balart. That may have skewed their answer, which is why pollsters are encouraged to ask the ballot question prior to testing issues.

The survey was commissioned by Protect Our Care, a group advocating for the preservation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

In response to questioning on the ACA, 49 percent of respondents say they support the law. Just 37 percent oppose it. 14 percent were not sure.

Similarly, 49 percent say they trust Democrats more on the issue of health care. But 46 percent trust Republicans and President Donald Trump more. Only 4 percent were undecided.

When asked about their votes going forward, 51 percent prefer “a Democrat who supports the Affordable Care Act and wants to improve it.” That compares to 43 percent who’d rather vote for “a Republican who wants to repeal” the ACA.

Those numbers could bode well for the Democrats, who have signaled their desire to keep health care at the forefront of the 2018 midterms after Republicans’ failed attempt to repeal the ACA last year.

That’s sure to be the case in this race as well. Just last week, Barzee Flores released an ad arguing Diaz-Balart’s health care record is “hurting families.”

FAU poll: Andrew Gillum has slim lead over Ron DeSantis

A new survey from the Florida Atlantic University Business and Economics Polling Initiative (FAU BEPI) has Andrew Gillum with an inside-the-margin lead in the race to be Florida’s next Governor.

The poll shows Gillum with 41 percent of the vote, with DeSantis at 39 percent. The remaining 15 percent of voters were undecided, leaving some room for growth for each candidate.

“Florida continues to be a sharply divided state,” said Kevin Wagner, professor of political science at FAU and a research fellow of the Initiative. “When races are this close, it is often enthusiasm and turnout that make the difference.”

DeSantis may face an added hurdle if this race comes down to turnout. Recent reports say President Donald Trump is unhappy with DeSantis’ rebuke of the President’s remarks regarding the death toll in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. DeSantis, however, questioned that narrative on Wednesday.

“I don’t think anything has changed. I think we’re good,” he said.

DeSantis’ primary win over Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam was largely seen as a result of Trump’s endorsement of DeSantis.

And Trump’s grip on the Republican Party base means he could have sway over Republican turnout come November. Whether Trump’s anger will linger and lead to a tamping down of support for DeSantis remains to be seen. If there is a gap between DeSantis and “the big man himself,” there’s plenty of time to bridge the divide, and if past is prologue, a Democratic lead in September often results in a Republican win in November.

Still, the lead for Gillum in the FAU BEPI poll matches other surveys which have shown the Democrat ahead. That includes another poll released Wednesday morning from Reuters/Ipsos/UVA Center for Politics. The latter poll, conducted online, showed Gillum with a 50-44 percent lead, which was outside the poll’s 4 point margin of error.

FAU BEPI’s survey was conducted Sept. 13-16 and sampled 850 likely voters. That margin of error was listed as 3.3 percentage points.

Rick Scott’s lead over Bill Nelson shrinks, poll shows

Gov. Rick Scott is up by less than a percentage point in the race to unseat incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, the newest poll from the Florida Atlantic University Business and Economics Polling Initiative (FAU BEPI) shows.

That’s a drop from Scott’s six-point lead in the previous FAU BEPI poll.

The latest version of the group’s survey has the Republican Scott earning 42 percent of the vote while Nelson, a Democrat, nabs just over 41 percent. More than 11 percent of voters are undecided.

The survey shows 32 percent of voters blaming statewide government for recent algae blooms. Just 13 percent blame the federal government, while 17 percent blame city and county governments and 38 percent say they don’t know who is most responsible.

FAU BEPI’s poll also shows 52 percent of voters supporting an increase in the statewide minimum wage to $15 per hour, and just over 50 percent backing an assault weapons ban.

“It appears that these popular policies favor Democrats,” said Monica Escaleras, director of the BEPI.

“The algae blooms have been a particularly contentious issue, with both Scott and Nelson trying to blame the other. Our polling suggests that more Floridians are holding the state government responsible. This might pose a challenge for Gov. Scott in November.”

The group does have Scott with better approval ratings than Nelson. Scott sits at 43 percent approval with 38 percent disapproving. Nelson’s numbers are underwater, with 36 percent of respondents approving and 37 percent disapproving.

Other analysts agree the Senate race is tight, with RealClearPolitics and FiveThirtyEight both seeing a tight contest.

“Florida continues to be a sharply divided state,” said Kevin Wagner, professor of political science at FAU and a research fellow of the Initiative. “When races are this close, it is often enthusiasm and turnout that make the difference.”

Miami-Dade County adds early voting site at FIU

Miami-Dade voters looking to skip the line on Election Day just got some good news, as Mayor Carlos Gimenez on Wednesday announced the creation of a new early voting site on the campus of Florida International University.

Previously, campuses were barred from serving as early voting locations. That ban was struck down in July.

Though the new site at FIU will make it easier to vote for the more than 50,000 students enrolled there, as well as faculty and staff, the site will be open to all voters in the county.

The polling place will be located at the Student Access Center at FIU’s Modesto A. Maidique campus.

The League of Women Voters of Florida (LWVFL) praised the move by Mayor Gimenez in a statement.

“This is a victory for democracy throughout the state of Florida, and a testament to the hard work of our state’s Supervisors of Elections and their determination to ensure equitable access to the ballot for all Floridians,” said LWVFL President Patricia Brigham.

“Ensuring that Florida’s young people can use their voice is an issue that transcends all political divides.”

NextGen Florida, a group that aims to increase participation of younger voters, also spoke out in favor of the move.

“Today’s victory is proof that when young people speak out, change happens,” said Carly Cass, the group’s state youth director.

“When millions of young people cast their votes in November, young people will win. As the largest voting bloc, we can single-handedly shape the outcome of our midterm elections. At NextGen Florida, we’re registering and mobilizing young voters across the state to make sure that happens.”

Not all were in favor of adding an early voting site at FIU. The Miami-Dade Republican Party spoke out against the potential move before it was finalized, arguing senior citizens need easier voting access more so than young people.

Early voting begins Oct. 22 and ends Nov. 4.

Andrew Gillum leading Ron DeSantis for Governor, latest poll says

A new survey from Reuters/Ipsos/UVA Center for Politics shows Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum with a six-point lead over his Republican opponent, Ron DeSantis.

The poll captured numbers in several competitive races nationwide. The results showed Gillum earning 50 percent of the vote, with DeSantis sitting at 44 percent.

What should worry the GOP: That lead is outside the survey’s four-point “credibility interval,” indicating Gillum’s lead is legitimate.

The overall survey was conducted online Sept. 5-17 and surveyed 1,000 likely voters.

The group also showed Gov. Rick Scott with a one-point lead over incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.

Reuters’ poll showing Gillum ahead is in line with other measures of the race giving Gillum the lead.

The newest results also come as President Donald Trump is apparently upset with DeSantis. Trump’s anger reportedly stems from the former congressman’s rebuke of President Trump’s remarks regarding the death toll in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.

DeSantis’ primary win over Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam was largely seen as a result of Trump’s endorsement of DeSantis.

According to POLITICO, Trump feels DeSantis owes him loyalty and he saw DeSantis’ public criticism as a betrayal.

Whether those feelings will linger and lead to a tamping down of support from the President remains to be seen.

Given recent poll numbers and Trump’s grip on the Republican Party base, DeSantis likely needs that Trump bump come Nov. 6.

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