Ryan Nicol, Author at Florida Politics - Page 3 of 28

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.

Coral Gables Mayor endorses Javier Enriquez in HD 114

The Javier Enriquez campaign announced Wednesday they’ve added the support of Coral Gables Mayor Raul Valdes-Fauli in the contest for House District 114.

The news comes the same week as Valdes-Fauli appeared in an ad backing Donna Shalala in the Democratic primary for Florida’s 27th Congressional District.

But in HD 114, the Mayor has decided to endorse the Republican.

“Javier Enriquez will be an excellent State Representative,” said Valdes-Fauli.

“Javier is deeply rooted in our community and is committed to serving the friends and neighbors he grew up with and works alongside today. I look forward to working with him to continuing to keep our area strong and moving forward.”

Enriquez is competing against incumbent state Rep. Javier Fernandez, a Democrat. Fernandez only recently took over the seat, winning a special election in early May.

“I am honored to have Mayor Valdes-Fauli’s support,” said Enriquez.

“He sets a high standard for public service, and I look forward to working with him to serve the citizens of the community I love.”

Valdes Fauli was re-elected last year, after previously serving as Mayor of Coral Gables from 2003-2011. He also is a practicing attorney in the area of banking law.

Enriquez and Fernandez are set to face off for the seat in November, as both are unopposed in their respective primaries.

HD 114 covers parts of Miami-Dade County including West Miami and Cutler Bay.

United Teachers of Dade backs Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in CD 26

United Teachers of Dade (UTD), a union with more than 30,000 members, is backing Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in the Democratic primary for Florida’s 26th Congressional District.

Mucarsel-Powell is competing with former naval officer Demetries Grimes for the nomination. The CD 26 seat is currently held by Republican Carlos Curbelo.

“We believe Debbie will make a difference in Congress by fully funding our public schools, supporting educational policies that put our students first and working to improve the lives of working people,” said UTD president Karla Hernandez-Mats.

“Every day, our teachers are working to improve the lives of over 350,000 children in Miami-Dade County. They deserve a representative who will fight for better schools and to ensure every student has a chance to fulfill their potential.”

The endorsement comes as Mucarsel-Powell launched her first TV spot of the cycle, which puts a spotlight on her immigrant roots and the diversity of the CD 26 community.

The district covers Monroe County and portions of Miami-Dade County. Analysts such as the Cook Political Report and Larry Sabato rate the race as a toss-up.

The CD 26 primaries will take place Aug. 28, followed by the general election Nov. 6.

David Shapiro puts pop quiz to voters in new ad

Get your pencils ready, class.

Democrat David Shapiro has dropped a new campaign ad as he continues his challenge to incumbent GOP U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan in Florida’s 16th Congressional District.

In the ad, titled “Quiz,” Shapiro uses a multiple-choice quiz to help highlight his goals should he make it to the halls of Congress.

“Washington politicians have failed the test when it comes to protecting Florida families,” says Shapiro to the camera, as an on-screen graphic gives Congress an F rating in their representation of Florida.

“People ask me, what will I do in Congress?

“A) Fight for access to quality, affordable health care,

“B) Stand up to plans that would put Social Security and Medicare at risk,

“Or C), work to fix the VA to make sure that veterans get the benefits they earned?

“The answer? D) All of the above.”

The ad is set to air on both broadcast and cable TV.

“David’s message of fighting for Florida Families is resonating across Florida’s 16th district,” said Shapiro campaign manager, Alex Vuskovic.

“People are ready for a leader who will fight for our seniors, for our veterans, and for a health care system that’s accessible and affordable for all Florida families. They’re done with Washington politicians who are interested in writing yacht-sized tax handouts for themselves while leaving Florida families to sink or swim.”

That latter remark from Vuskovic refers to Buchanan’s purchase of a yacht on the day the House passed their first draft of last year’s GOP tax bill.

Shapiro is hoping to take the fight to Buchanan in November’s general election, but he’ll first have to defeat legal author Jan Schneider in the Democratic primary later this month.

CD 16 is becoming a more winnable seat for Democrats, according to election watchers. Both the Cook Political Report and Larry Sabato now have the race “leaning Republican,” rather than “likely Republican.”

David Shapiro owns stock in three companies he publicly denounced in op-ed

David Shapiro, a Democratic candidate in Florida’s 16th Congressional District, issued some tough talk back in February when he took his Republican opponent to task in an op-ed for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

In that piece, Shapiro criticized incumbent CD 16 Rep. Vern Buchanan and fellow Republicans for their passage of last year’s tax bill. Shapiro called out three companies in particular for their failure to protect workers following the bill’s passage: Walmart, AT&T and Kimberly-Clark.

It turns out those criticisms don’t extend to Shapiro’s own stock purchases.

A financial disclosure report filed with the U.S. House of Representatives shows Shapiro bought between $1,001 and $15,000 of stock in each of those three companies.

That disclosure report was filed just eight days after Shapiro’s op-ed. In that article, he blasted all three companies for firing workers following the tax cut, despite promises by Walmart and AT&T to provide bonuses to their employees.

In his February op-ed, Shapiro blamed Buchanan and the Republicans for passing the tax bill in the first place. “As the House of Representatives’ name suggests, a member is supposed to ‘represent’ all of the people in one’s district, not just the wealthy donors and special interests who fund his campaigns,” wrote Shapiro.

Max Goodman, campaign manager for the Buchanan campaign, said Shapiro’s ownership of these stocks shows he’s not straight with voters.

“Sneaky Shapiro is at it again,” said Goodman.

“Publicly, he says he’ll fight corporate greed, but privately, he invests in the very corporations he criticizes. You just can’t trust a word Shapiro says.”

This isn’t the first time Buchanan has hit Shapiro over the latter’s investment portfolio. Buchanan previously called out Shapiro for investments in Halliburton, gun manufacturers, and pharmaceutical companies.

But the Shapiro campaign is pushing back over this repeated criticism.

“Congressman Buchanan has used his time in Washington to line his own pockets, so he assumes that’s what everyone does,” said Shapiro campaign manager Alex Vuskovic.

“Unlike Congressman Buchanan, who wrote himself a tax handout, and used his handout to buy a yacht, David doesn’t think big corporations need more government assistance: he thinks everyday working families do. That’s what he’ll fight for Florida families when he’s elected to serve this community, and it’s exactly why Congressman Buchanan is running scared.”

Shapiro is competing with legal author Jan Schneider for the Democratic nomination in CD 16. The winner of the Aug. 28 primary will take on Buchanan in the general election.

Donna Shalala releases dual ads in CD 27 race

Donna Shalala, the former University of Miami president running as a Democrat in Florida’s 27th Congressional District, is out with a pair of new TV ads making her pitch to voters.

The first is an English-language ad titled “Games” that criticizes the current federal approach to health care.

“Washington politicians are playing games with our health care, but this isn’t kids’ stuff,” says Shalala over video of children running around a model of the U.S. Capitol.

“Enough is enough,” she adds.

“Donna Shalala led the effort to provide care for millions of children and a world class health care system at the University of Miami,” says the ad’s narrator, referencing her past positions at UM and as Secretary of Health and Human Services under the Bill Clinton administration.

“Donna will push to expand Medicare while reducing the costs of prescription drugs and improving long term care.”

Shalala’s second ad is a Spanish-language spot titled “El Alcalde,” or, “The Mayor.” The ad features commentary from Coral Gables Mayor Raul Valdez-Fauli, who is supporting Shalala in the CD 27 race.

“They say big things come in small packages,” begins Valdez-Fauli, in Spanish.

“Donna Shalala will be very successful in getting results for South Florida. Donna will fight for what is just, reforming our immigration system, improving our schools and making sure that Universities are more accessible. She will also create good-paying jobs right here.

“Donna Shalala will make a major difference in Washington and she’ll be ready on day one.”

Shalala is competing in the Democratic primary with former Knight Foundation Program Director Matt Haggman and former University of Miami academic adviser Michael Hepburn, state Rep. David Richardson, and Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez.

The winner will head to the general election to try and win the seat now occupied by longtime Republican U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who decided not to run for re-election in 2018.

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell ad highlights immigrant roots: ‘We are one South Florida’

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell is out with her first TV ad in her campaign to oust incumbent U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo in Florida’s 26th Congressional District.

The ad is named “One South Florida” and highlights Mucarsel-Powell’s immigrant roots along with the diversity of the community she seeks to represent.

“We have different stories and we come from different places,” says Mucarsel-Powell in the ad, which cuts to the faces of various people and families.

“But together, we are one community. I came to this country from Ecuador at 14 searching for a better life. With hard work, I found it. So I’ve always worked to give back.

“As associate dean at FIU, I helped those who couldn’t afford health care get it. I’m running for Congress now because our community needs someone ready to work for all of us.”

Mucarsel-Powell has also previously worked for non-profit organizations such as the Hope Center, Zoo Miami Foundation and the Coral Restoration Foundation.

The ad is part of a six-figure buy on cable for the month of August. It comes the same day Curbelo went up with an ad of his own, attempting to highlight his record of bipartisanship in Washington, D.C.

Mucarsel-Powell and the Democrats are hoping to flip this seat blue in November. Analysts say the race is a toss-up, and Mucarsel-Powell was named to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s “Red to Blue” program, which aims to support candidates in competitive districts throughout the midterms.

She’s competing with former naval officer Demetries Grimes for the Democratic nomination. The primary for CD 26, which covers portions of Miami-Dade County, will be held Aug. 28.

Mucarsel-Powell’s ad is below.

David Richardson calls to abolish ICE in Spanish-language ad

David Richardson, a Democrat running for Florida’s 27th Congressional District, is out with a Spanish-language TV ad hitting one of the more controversial topics this campaign season: Abolishing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Richardson calls for the end of the organization in the ad, titled “ICE,” arguing it’s done more harm than good.

A statement from the Richardson campaign released along with the ad says ICE is responsible for “abusing detainees, dividing families, and harassing Dreamers.”

In the ad, filmed in front of ICE headquarters, Richardson proposes diverting ICE’s funding toward a nationwide Medicare-for-all program.

“I’m a courageous progressive, and that means I don’t shy away from an issue I’m passionate about when the Democratic establishment gets nervous,” said Richardson in a statement.

“I have the courage to promote all parts of my progressive platform, including abolishing ICE. We have big problems in this country, and voters are sick of the old guard in Washington selling out big solutions for feckless compromises time and time again. That will change with me.”

The issue of what to do with ICE in light of Donald Trump‘s controversial immigration policies has been a point of contention recently.

Several other Democrats have called for the end of ICE, including former Knight Foundation Program Director Matt Haggman and former University of Miami academic adviser Michael Hepburn, both of whom are competing with Richardson in CD 27.

Others aren’t so sure, including the remaining two Democrats in the CD 27 race, Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez and former University of Miami President Donna Shalala. In the Democrats’ most recent debate, they said they worry about putting thousands of employees out of work and instead say the aim of the agency should be redirected.

Moreover, President Trump has made Democrats’ calls to abolish ICE a campaign issue, meaning it could turn against Democrats in some districts if the issue motivates Republicans more than the liberal base.

Nevertheless, Richardson is moving full steam ahead with his calls to end the organization once and for all. You can watch his new Spanish-language ad below.

Carlos Curbelo pitches bipartisanship in CD 26 ad

Carlos Curbelo is out with a new ad and a message of bipartisanship as he tries to hold onto his seat in Florida’s 26th Congressional District.

The 15-second ad, titled “Solutions,” is a straightforward spot. It features Curbelo in front of a plain, white background. “We have to work across the aisle to get big things done in Washington, D.C,” he says in the ad.

“So I will never apologize for reaching across the aisle and working with all of my colleagues in favor of the solutions that the American people really need.”

The launching of the ad comes after one of his opponents, Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, has already put up a digital ad of her own. Likewise, Curbelo has dealt with attack ads from outside groups before getting into the game himself.

That he’s chosen an appeal to bipartisanship in his inaugural ad isn’t a surprise. He’s been open to bucking his party as a legislator, whether it’s his recent proposal of a carbon tax to combat global warming or his criticism of child separations at the border under the Donald Trump administration.

On top of that, analysts rate the CD 26 race as a toss-up in 2018. That may affect Curbelo’s messaging throughout the campaign, as a unifying message may help him hold on to some Democratic votes that may otherwise go to his opponent.

However, Mucarsel-Powell says Curbelo hasn’t done enough to bridge the gap between Republicans and Democrats. “Curbelo forgot to ‘reach across the aisle’ when he voted last year to take away health care from over 100,000 people in our district,” said Mucarsel-Powell of Curbelo’s vote to repeal and replace Obamacare.

“At odds with the 20 Republicans who voted to protect our health care, Curbelo stood with his Washington Republican friends and turned his back on his community.”

She also referenced Curbelo’s support for the GOP tax bill that passed late last year. “While 12 Republicans voted against the GOP tax handout to big corporations last December, Curbelo was not one of them. The truth is simple: actions speak louder than words. And when it’s time to stop talking and start acting, Curbelo is as Washington as they come.”

Curbelo is facing a Republican primary challenger in Souraya Faas, while Mucarsel-Powell is competing with former naval officer Demetries Grimes in the Democratic primary. Those elections will be held Aug. 28, followed by the Nov. 6 general election.

Sugar farmers assail ‘misinformed’ Tampa Bay Times article

Florida Sugarcane Farmers (FSF), a group representing the state’s sugar farmers, is out with a statement defending those farmers’ support of Adam Putnam after a critical article appeared in the Tampa Bay Times.

The article hits Putnam on his defense of sugar farmers in light of the new round of algae blooms hitting the state. The story notes farmers are “getting blamed for toxic algae blooms,” making it curious Putnam would still accept their support in light of the attention paid to the algae bloom problem.

But the farmers argue that blame is misplaced.

For instance, the Times references sugar farms on “the northern edge of Lake Okeechobee” not requiring “permits with strict pollution limits.”

The Times adds, “The amount of pollution flowing into the lake from the north — where half the land is owned by agriculture — is about the same as it was in 1985,” implying sugar farmers have not done their fair share in reducing pollution into Lake Okeechobee, which can help exacerbate the blooms.

FSF says there are two problems with those claims.

First, “sugarcane farms in Florida are located almost entirely south of the lake,” said the group’s spokesperson Ardis Hammock.

Indeed, “only five percent of the water in Lake Okeechobee comes from sugar farmers,” according to at least one report.

Hammock also maintains the farmers are going above and beyond in reducing the output of phosphorus, one of the pollutants most responsible for the blooms.

“Sugarcane and vegetable farmers in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) are required by law to reduce phosphorus by 25 percent annually, and they bettered that by more than twice what is legally required of them for more than two decades,” Hammock said.

“Every single drop of water flowing off their land is cleaned, and the farmers pay 100 percent of the cost to clean the water flowing off their property—the vast majority of which flows south to the Everglades.”

Hammock added that this “misinformed article is why people have been so skeptical of the media and are reluctant to be included in inaccurate portrayals of agriculture.” She then defended the industry’s support of Putnam in the Florida gubernatorial race.

“Florida’s sugarcane farmers join citrus farmers, sweet corn farmers, cattle farmers, potato farmers and just about every other type of Florida farmer in wholeheartedly supporting Adam Putnam for governor.”

Hammock also noted that the Tampa Bay Times editorial board also endorsed Putnam in his primary race against U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis. Editorial boards, however, generally operate separately from newsgathering reporters and editors.

ashley moody

Florida physicians back Ashley Moody for Attorney General

The Florida Medical Association PAC (FMA PAC) is endorsing former judge and federal prosecutor Ashley Moody in the Republican primary for the Attorney General’s race.

The PAC serves as the political arm of the Florida Medical Association, which represents medical and osteopathic physicians throughout Florida.

“The FMA PAC is proud to endorse former federal judge and prosecutor Ashley Moody as our next Attorney General,” said Dr. Mike Patete, president of FMA PAC.

“Moody has been meeting with our physicians for more than a year, sharing her vision for Florida’s future, and we know she will be a true friend of medicine as Attorney General.”

Moody is competing with Pensacola Rep. Frank White for the Republican nomination in the race. Monday’s announcement that the FMA PAC would be supporting Moody adds the group to a list of recent backers including the Associated Builders and Contractors of Florida and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera.

“Thank you to the Florida Medical Association’s PAC for their endorsement of my candidacy,” said Moody in response to the endorsement.

“As Attorney General, I will work with the FMA to combat the opioid crisis, prosecute those who prey upon vulnerable Floridians, and eliminate Medicaid fraud.”

Moody has used the state’s matching funds program to help keep pace in a spending war with White, who has brought in more than $4.5 million with the aid of self-funding.

A fresh poll shows White leading Moody by 11 percentage points in the two-way primary race, with one third of likely Republican voters undecided.

The primary election in the AG race will be held Aug. 28.

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