Ryan Nicol, Author at Florida Politics - Page 2 of 39

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.

Donna Shalala in tight congressional race, new polls show

A pair of internal campaign polls obtained by POLITICO suggest a surprisingly close race in Florida’s 27th Congressional District.

The race has long been considered one of Democrat’s best pickup opportunities in 2018. Those chances were seemingly strengthened when favorite Donna Shalala won the crowded Democratic primary last month.

But a new internal poll from Republican Maria Elvira Salazar shows Shalala trailing by nine points. A separate internal from Shalala’s own campaign bodes somewhat better for the Democrat. It shows Shalala ahead by four points.

Now, Shalala’s campaign is calling into question the veracity of Salazar’s polling.

“This was a Republican push poll that read more than 10 negative statement about Donna Shalala,” said Mike Hernandez, a Shalala campaign spokesperson.

“Given that, it’s no surprise the result. This will be a very competitive race, no doubt. But this study is not an accurate snapshot of where the contest stands today.”

The National Republican Congressional Committee, which has named Salazar to its “Young Guns” program, denied those accusations in a statement to Florida Politics.

“No push questions were asked before the ballot test,” said Maddie Anderson, an NRCC spokesperson.

However, when asked for a copy of the questions as they were posed to potential voters, neither the NRCC nor the Salazar campaign agreed to disclose them.

Whatever the reality of the Salazar poll, this episode is a great example of why publicly-released internal campaign polls should be taken with a grain of salt. Not only do they tend to skew heavily toward the candidate releasing them, but the exact methodology is at times unavailable for any sort of screening.

Still, it is worth noting both polls are painting the same picture: This is a close race.

That would be in line with how several forecasters view the race, plugging it into the “lean Democratic” column.

That designation entails a small advantage for the Democrat, one that could easily be overcome on Election Day. And if these polls are to be believed, Shalala might indeed come up short.

But FiveThirtyEight is far more bullish on Shalala’s chances, giving her a more than 98 percent chance of taking the seat.

POLITICO notes that some Democratic insiders are spooked by these survey numbers and do not see this race as a sure thing.

Overall, Salazar’s poll shows her earning 51 percent support, with Shalala pulling in just 42 percent. Seven percent of voters are undecided. That survey was conducted by McLaughlin & Associates from Sept. 10-13 among 400 likely voters.

Shalala’s survey had her with 46 percent support to Salazar’s 42 percent. It also included third-party candidate Mayra Joli, who earned 8 percent of the vote, with the remaining 4 percent undecided.

Despite running an independent challenge, Joli has heavily aligned herself with President Donald Trump. Should she earn fewer than 8 percent of the vote on Election Day, most of that support would likely go to the Republican Salazar. That would put an even bigger dent in Shalala’s chances.

Shalala’s poll was conducted by Bendixen & Amandi Aug. 29-Sept. 2 and surveyed 600 likely voters.

‘Nelson? … Nelson?’ Rick Scott calls out Bill Nelson’s absences in new ad

Gov. Rick Scott is out with a new ad, essentially accusing his Democratic opponent for U.S. Senate — incumbent Bill Nelson — of pulling a ‘Ferris Bueller‘ during his time in Washington.

The ad, titled “Empty Chair,” highlights Nelson’s numerous missed Senate Armed Services Committee meetings during his time in the U.S. Senate, and once again bashes Nelson for his lengthy political career.

“Bill Nelson’s been running for office in Florida since 1972,” the ad’s narrator begins.

“Can you name one thing he’s done? I’ll keep waiting.

“Bill Nelson votes his party line 89 percent of the time, and that’s when he bothers to show up at all. Nelson skipped 45 percent of the hearings on national security. National security!

“Bill Nelson doesn’t write laws; he doesn’t even show up. Bill Nelson’s chair is empty. Even when he’s in it.”

Ryan Brown, a spokesperson from the Nelson campaign, issued a statement bashing Scott over the ad’s claims.

“This is nothing more than another false attack by Rick Scott who is nothing more than a phony politician,” Brown said.

He added Nelson had “attended about 80 percent of the Armed Services meetings this year and 86 percent last year. This isn’t an ad, it’s propaganda — and it’s another reason why you just can’t trust Rick Scott.”

The ad’s release comes as Scott is embarking on a bus tour to push his “Make Washington Work” 10-point plan. That tour has seen some hiccups as Gov. Scott has faced criticism over his handling of the red tide issue.

The race between Scott and Nelson

RealClearPolitics currently gives Scott a lead of less than two percentage points, according to an aggregation of available polling. FiveThirtyEight sees Nelson as the slight favorite, projecting him to win by just over one percentage point.

Now it’s a party: Andrew Gillum to attend Miami-Dade Democrats’ gala

The Miami-Dade Democratic Party has announced Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum will appear at the group’s Blue Gala event scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 29.

Gillum will be joined by keynote speaker Julian Castro, rumored to be a potential 2020 presidential candidate, along with several other Democratic lawmakers.

The Blue Gala serves as an annual fundraiser for the Miami-Dade Democrats.

The group pledges that “every dollar raised will go to get-out-the-vote for Andrew Gillum, Bill Nelson, and Democrats up and down the ballot,” according to a news release on the event.

The Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables will play host to the gala, which will run from 7 p.m. till midnight.

Tickets for the dinner start at $300. That includes dinner, an open bar and an ability to stay for the after-party.

For those seeking to skip dinner and just party, tickets cost $50.

The gala will also honor state Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, Miami-Dade Commissioner Eileen Higgins, State Attorney Aramis Ayala and longtime activist Ruth Shack.

Progressive group pledges support for Bill Nelson, Lauren Baer

The Progressive Turnout Project (PTP), a Chicago-based group aimed at helping elect Democratic candidates, says it will put money toward digital get-out-the-vote efforts supporting the campaigns of Bill Nelson and Lauren Baer.

The group has raised nearly $14 million this election cycle according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Now, PTP says it will contribute $1.8 million of that to get-out-the-vote (GOTV) efforts, which will help a total of 31 candidates nationwide.

Alex Morgan, the organization’s executive director, says they believe they can make an impact in what could be a pair of close races.

“Our GOTV experiments have proven that a robust digital program can boost Democratic turnout by at least two percent in even the noisiest political environments,” Morgan said.

“While the bulk of our work is done door-to-door, we recognize that we’re not going to be able to have a face-to-face conversations with every voter and that’s why we’re making this significant investment in digital GOTV to take back the House and Senate.”

PTP says this increased funding will focus on Florida’s 18th Congressional District, where Baer is attempting to unseat incumbent GOP U.S. Rep. Brian Mast.

Analysts currently see Mast as the favorite, though by different margins.

Nelson, who is defending his seat against outgoing Republican Gov. Rick Scott, appears to be headed for an incredibly close contest.

RealClearPolitics currently gives Scott a lead of less than two percentage points, according to an aggregation of available polling. FiveThirtyEight sees Nelson as the slight favorite, projecting him to win by just over one percentage point.

PTP will also be holding a voter registration in Coral Gables on Tuesday, Sept. 25 at 5400 Ponce de Leon. The event runs from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m.

Bill Nelson ‘died three years ago,’ Roger Stone quips to Palm Beach Trump supporters

Longtime Donald Trump ally Roger Stone was his usual self in remarks to Trump Club 45 PBC Monday night, spouting several attention-grabbing comments to the audience of Trump die-hards.

Stone dropped several eyebrow-raising one-liners (mostly in jest) during his speech at the Palm Beach Kennel Club, one of which concerning a prominent Florida contest.

“You have a U.S. Senate race between Gov. Rick Scott and Bill Nelson,” Stone started. “Bill Nelson died three years ago. Somebody forgot to tell him about it.”

As for Stone’s famous tattoo of Richard Nixon on his back: “I’m the only guy you know that has a dick on the front and the back.”

In addition to punchlines, Stone offered the Trump-loving crowd plenty of red meat.

First, there was media bashing: “I don’t get my news from CNN for the same reason I don’t eat out of the toilet.”

Next, about The New York Times, Stone harped on the fact that the paper’s top shareholder is Carlos Slim, the Mexican billionaire who made hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations to the Clintons.

“Why would we believe a single word that is printed in The New York Times?” Stone charged.

He then moved into the realm of the conspiratorial. On the recent anonymous op-ed printed by the Times, Stone argued it was all a fabrication.

“Folks, I can tell you right now who wrote that editorial. No one. It’s a fraud. It’s a MacGuffin. It’s a con job on the American people.”

He once again called into question whether Russia even hacked the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 election.

“There’s more forensic evidence that would indicate that the DNC was never hacked at all by anyone.”

Stone also touched upon the recent abuse allegations lobbied against Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Stone framed the “dastardly accusations” as a “smear” against Kavanaugh, shredding the media for even reporting on them given the lack of a corroborating witness.

Stone, rumored to be a potential target of the Robert Mueller investigation, further elaborated on his current legal situation.

While describing claims of any sort of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign utter “bullshit,” Stone maintained: “I will never roll on Donald Trump. Michael Cohen, I am not.”

Toward the end of his remarks, Stone injected a minutes-long pitch for his legal defense fund.

“Everything you can send will be a godsend. This threatens to bankrupt my family. They have systematically attempted to ruin my business.”

Stone saved some of his most fiery comments for Republicans 2018 midterms strategy. He parroted the notion that the real wrongdoing of the 2016 election was the Barack Obama administration’s investigation into Russian collusion, rather than any potential collusion itself.

Midterm voters need reminding of that fact, Stone said, calling for some high-profile arrests.

“We need to expose the constitutional abuses, far worse than Watergate, of the administration of Barack Obama. And we have to demand the prosecution of Bill and Hillary Clinton.”

Of course, that elicited chants of “lock her up” from the audience, with one member suggesting Hillary be sent “to Guantánamo.”

With a closing shot, Stone clarified there’s no love lost between him and the Clintons.

“Bill and Hillary Clinton are the penicillin-resistant syphilis of the American body politic.”

Carlos Curbelo campaign hits Debbie Mucarsel-Powell on PAC money

U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo is criticizing his Democratic opponent, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, for accepting money from a PAC tied to a California politician accused of molesting a teenage girl, which he denies.

The latest development in the contentious race is in a new report from POLITICO.

Mucarsel-Powell previously earned the support of the BOLD PAC, which serves as the political arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. The organization also contributed $5,000 to Mucarsel-Powell’s campaign to oust Curbelo in Florida’s 26th Congressional District.

U.S. Rep. Tony Cardenas is the chairman of that PAC. Following the group’s endorsement of Mucarsel-Powell, Cardenas pushed back against allegations he had molested a 16-year-old girl back in 2007.

As noted by POLITICO, Mucarsel-Powell tweeted just last week about the need to support victims of assault: “We must always stand with victims of sexual violence and hold perpetrators accountable,” she wrote. “But the Trump administration and Betsy DeVos keep trying to move us backwards.”

Yet she also took time in January to tweet out a thanks to BOLD PAC for the group’s endorsement.

“Mucarsel-Powell may talk a big game about protecting women and children, but when the Democratic establishment told her to ignore the serious allegations of sexual assault and take Tony Cardenas’s money anyway that’s exactly what she did,” a spokesman said in a statement to POLITICO.

“Her silence is an insult to all who have been victims of sexual assault.”

The report also highlighted a response from Mucarsel-Powell’s team, in which they accused Curbelo of playing politics with the accusation.

“As a woman and a mother raising her two daughters these accusations are obviously concerning for Debbie and she’s waiting to learn more of the facts as the case develops,” said Mike Hernandez, a spokesman for the Mucarsel-Powell campaign.

“Frankly, it’s pathetic that Congressman Curbelo would use this as a political issue as he continues to welcome President Trump, who openly bragged about forcefully groping women and has been accused of sexual assault by no less than 11 women, to campaign with him.”

Cardenas continues to fight the charges, setting up a legal defense fund last month.

Fred Guttenberg endorses Bill Nelson for Senate

Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter, Jaime, was killed seven months ago in the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School, and other parents who lost children in the tragedy endorsed incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson at an event Friday afternoon.

Guttenberg also laid into Nelson’s Republican opponent, Gov. Rick Scott.

“In Florida, under Rick Scott, nothing was done on guns or school safety after prior incidents like Pulse or the Fort Lauderdale airport shooting,” Guttenberg said. “Perhaps, had more been done previously I would only be known as the same small group of families that knew me as Jesse and Jamie’s dad.”

Guttenberg praised Nelson for his support of universal background checks and banning assault weapons, and blasted his GOP opponent for his refusal to enact common-sense gun safety measures.

The event was held at the Marriott Coral Springs. Guttenberg followed the announcement with a Twitter post reiterating the endorsement, noting several other Parkland families were also in attendance.

U.S. Rep Ted Deutch, who serves the 22nd Congressional District, which covers Parkland, also spoke to the crowd gathered at the Marriott.

“Don’t let people tell you the issue of gun violence has fallen by the wayside,” Deutch said, according to Kara Voght of Mother Jones.

“It’s not what I see, it’s not what I hear.”

Voght also posted comments from Guttenberg himself, where he spoke of the loss of his daughter and why he now seeks stricter gun control measures.

“For those who want to know why I’ve become active in the issue of gun safety and why I call for an ‘orange wave‘ in November, it’s because I start my days at a cemetery. When I think about Jaime running down the hallway and running for her life with an active shooter at her back until ‘boom,’ a single shot to her spinal cord, she needed only one more second to be safe, I have no choice.

“When we know that had the issues of guns been previously dealt with in this state that this issue could have been prevented, I have no choice.”

Rick Scott distances himself from Donald Trump in new Spanish-language ad

Gov. Rick Scott is out with a new Spanish-language ad seeking to separate himself from President Donald Trump and promising commitment to voters over the president.

The ad, titled “Compromiso,” features Scott addressing viewers in Spanish about his promise to put voters ahead of partisan politics.

“When I don’t agree with what President Trump does or says, I’ve said it,” Scott begins in Spanish.

“My only commitment is with you. For me, what’s important is that your family have the best opportunities. I ask for your vote so that together we can make Washington work for our families. I’m Rick Scott and I approve this message because I know that with your help, we’ll keep on working.”

The 30-second ad is set to be released both digitally and on television.

The spot comes after false and inflammatory comments from Trump earlier this week, when the President questioned the death toll in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.

Trump claimed the updating of the death toll to 2,975 “was done by Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible.” The Democratic Party was not involved in any way with the study that arrived at those numbers.

Those comments from Trump resulted in a tweet from Scott, explaining his disagreement with the President.

Scott’s attempt to distance himself from the President during his Senate run is a sharp change for the Republican nominee. Scott endorsed Trump in 2016 and even chaired a pro-Trump super PAC, just one of several ways the Governor embraced Trump on his way to the presidency.

Scott is attempting to oust longtime Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in November.

DCCC and David Shapiro drop $900K on ad blitz in CD 16

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) is joining with Democratic candidate David Shapiro on a $900,000 ad campaign against incumbent U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan in Florida’s 16th Congressional District.

Both Shapiro and the DCCC will put $450,000 toward the new ad campaign. The 30-second spot, titled “Rig,” focuses on Buchanan’s purchase of a yacht on the same day House Republicans passed the first version of their tax cuts bill last year.

It was later reported that Buchanan received a loan for that purchase from a company who was also lobbying in support of the bill.

“Vern Buchanan and Washington Republicans have rigged the system for billionaires,” the ad’s narrator begins.

“Washington Republicans voted to give wealthy insiders like Buchanan a tax handout of up to $2 million, but raised taxes on seniors and families. And that same day, Vern Buchanan bought himself a $5 million yacht with a loan from a foreign bank that was lobbying Republicans in Washington.

“Vote against Vern Buchanan and the Washington Republicans who help billionaires, not families and seniors.”

The ad cites a New York Times editorial for the claim that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act “raised taxes on seniors and families.” But the reality isn’t as clear-cut as the spot makes it seem. How the bill affects seniors and families varies on a case-by-case basis, with some paying more in taxes while others receive a cut.

Buchanan campaign manager Max Goodman responded with a statement painting Shapiro as a hypocrite for lobbing these claims against Buchanan.

“This race offers voters a clear choice between a congressman who reduced taxes on the middle class and liberal David Shapiro who wants to raise taxes even though he was delinquent paying his own,” Goodman said, referring to records cited in a previous Buchanan ad showing Shapiro had made late payments on property taxes in the past.

“This is part of a pattern of deceit and hypocrisy where Shapiro says one thing publicly yet privately does another, such as claiming to be for a clean environment while he financially invests in Halliburton and the world’s top greenhouse gas polluters. And he publicly calls for a ban on assault weapons while privately invests in the very company that manufacturers them.”

Again, Goodman is referring to previous reporting on Shapiro’s many investments. Shapiro’s camp has said those stocks were purchased as part of a retirement fund, and were not selected by Shapiro individually.

SEIU to put $5 million toward Florida elections

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is pledging $5 million to help elect candidates throughout Florida this November.

In a statement obtained by Florida Politics, the group says the money will go toward “advertising, communications and get-out-the-vote efforts in Florida to support candidates dedicated to lifting up the middle class.”

“Having to work two full-time jobs to barely feed your children or pay your rent is not freedom,” said SEIU Florida President Monica Russo.

“Living in fear of getting sick because you can’t afford a doctor is not freedom,” she added. “Having no voice in the workplace because you could get fired on a whim is not freedom. Instead, we’re uniting for the freedom Florida families need to achieve better, more secure lives.”

SEIU Florida has also recruited hundreds of members to volunteer through the election cycle. Their efforts will include canvassing neighborhoods and working phone banks.

The organization says it will assist candidates who support a $15 per hour minimum wage, protection of Medicare and expansion of Medicaid, along with the rights of employees to join a union.

News of the monetary contribution comes on the same day the group announced it was backing Andrew Gillum, the Democratic nominee in the race for Governor.

“Andrew Gillum is going to bring working-class values back to the governor’s office so that all Floridians have the freedom to pursue their dreams and support their families,” Russo said.

“Andrew has been fighting his entire life to ensure that every Floridian can earn a good wage, have a safe roof over their head and access quality, affordable health care to give working people the freedom they deserve.”

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