Ryan Nicol, Author at Florida Politics - Page 3 of 46

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 ad hits opponent over previous Donald Trump praise

A new Spanish language ad from Democratic candidate Donna Shalala is going after her opponent in Florida’s 27th Congressional District over previous tweets praising President Donald Trump.

Former broadcaster Maria Elvira Salazar earned the Republican nomination in the heavily Hispanic district back in August. Now, Shalala is attempting to tie her to the President in a new ad titled, “The Trump Cheerleader.”

“Maria Elvira Salazar: Trump’s greatest cheerleader,” the ad’s narrator begins.

“Praising him…”

That’s when a woman’s voice, imagined to be that of Salazar, pops in reading out her tweet to Trump.

“Bravo, Trump!”

“…an ally of his.”

“Bravo, Trump!”

“Meanwhile, Trump attempts to eliminate millions’ access to health care and raise our premiums. Maria ‘Bravo, Trump!’ Salazar encouraged him. Enough with Trump’s cheerleaders. We need a leader.

“Donna Shalala. Working to improve health care. Shalala has the strength to face Trump and achieve big things for us.”

A request for comment from the Salazar campaign regarding the new ad is pending.

The Shalala campaign also released a statement bolstering their efforts to tie the two together.

“Salazar claims to be a moderate, but regularly sides with Trump and his Republican enablers,” said Mike Hernandez, a campaign spokesperson.

“The ad underscores that while Donald Trump pushed terrible policies, such as pushing Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which would have resulted in increased premiums and eliminated access to health care for millions of Americans, including those with pre-existing conditions, Salazar encourages him.”

It’s true that Salazar has used the phrase, “Bravo #Trump” two times in the past on Twitter. Both were in 2017.

One tweet thanked Trump for calling for the release of Venezuelan political prisoner Leopoldo Lopez.

The second stems from Trump’s 2017 speech to Congress, in which he called for “real and positive immigration reform.” Salazar echoed those comments, adding, “Looking forward to concrete details.”

As of yet, no comprehensive immigration plan has been settled on, as Trump has often continued his harsh rhetoric on the subject.

The ad attempts to tie Salazar’s “Bravo #Trump” phrase to the issue of health care, arguing Salazar “encouraged” Trump’s failed efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. But Salazar never used those words in a statement on ACA repeal, according to a search of her Twitter account.

On health care, Salazar has called to “repeal crushing Obama-era taxes and needless regulations.” However, according to the Miami Herald, Salazar opposed the GOP’s ACA repeal absent the proposal of a “viable alternative.” Salazar also said she would “not support removing pre-existing conditions from coverage options.”

Anthony Rodriguez takes cash lead over Robert Asencio

There’s a new cash-on-hand leader in the race for House District 118.

Republican challenger Anthony Rodriguez now leads Democratic incumbent Robert Asencio, according to the latest reports filed with the Florida Division of Elections.

Rodriguez earned a whopping $70,100 Sept. 15-28.

That was bolstered by an influx of $46,000 from the Republican Party of Florida, along with a series of $1,000 donations from various political committees.

Most of the money spent by Rodriguez was on phone banks, mailings and door-to-door canvassing.

In total, he spent $18,546 during the period. Rodriguez now has more than $110,000 on hand.

That surpasses Asencio’s $84,000 and change. Asencio earned just $15,901 during the latest reporting period. He spent even more than that—$16,316—mostly on advertising.

Asencio was recently joined on the campaign trail by U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois.

HD 118 covers parts of Miami-Dade County including Tamiami and Kendall. Both Asencio and Rodriguez were unchallenged in their respective primaries.

Chip LaMarca widens HD 93 fundraising lead

Republican candidate Chip LaMarca remains well ahead in fundraising in the race for House District 93.

LaMarca pulled in another $53,344 from Sept. 15 to 28, bringing his overall fundraising total to $418,245. He also spent $21,055 during the same period, most of which went toward consulting, advertising and campaign signs.

That leaves LaMarca with just over 331,000 on hand.

His Democratic opponent, Emma Collum, brought in just $9,071 from Sept. 15 to 28. The vast majority of those donations were individual contributions between $25 and $100. Collum’s campaign is now sitting on $51,443, less than 1/6 of LaMarca’s total.

But Collum also earned an ‘angel donation‘ of $200,000 back in June, which erases much of that deficit.

The latest numbers come from reports filed with the Florida Division of Elections.

Collum has been an outspoken critic of Brett Kavanaugh, who was recently sworn in as the next Supreme Court Justice, as well as his Republican defenders.

Though Broward County typically leans Democratic, HD 93 has been an exception. Term-limited state Rep. George Moraitis, a Republican, won his 2016 race by about 8 percentage points.

Mike Caruso outraises Jim Bonfiglio by $30K in latest period

Democratic candidate Jim Bonfiglio remains on top of the cash-on-hand contest in House District 89. But for the second straight reporting period, Republican Mike Caruso is closing that gap.

Bonfiglio actually spent more than he brought in from Sept. 15 to 28. His campaign earned $4,083 but spent $5,149. That leaves him with $74,712 to spend in the closing weeks of the campaign.

Caruso was well ahead of Bonfiglio in the latest reports, bringing in $34,045. He dropped $10,738 in the same period, giving Caruso $37,892 in cash, about half of Bonfiglio’s total.

Caruso has actually raised far more than Bonfiglio overall, but was forced to spend heavily in his primary contest against Matt Spritz. Bonfiglio was able to secure the Democratic nomination without heavy spending.

Many of Caruso’s donations this period came from various political committees such as Daniel Perez‘ Conservatives for a Better Florida, Florida HIV AIDS PAC, and Florida Beer Wholesalers Political Committee. The Republican Party of Florida also dropped $20,000 into the race.

The contest is expected to be close. Term-limited Republican state Rep. Bill Hager showed some vulnerability in previous elections. HD 89 covers coastal portions of Palm Beach County.

David Perez SD 36

David Perez edges Manny Diaz in latest fundraising haul

The candidates for Senate District 36 were in a virtual dead heat in the latest fundraising period, each approaching $100,000 raised between their respective campaigns and political committees.

David Perez, the Democratic nominee, earned just $12,645 in donations to his campaign from Sept. 15 to 28. But his political committee, Floridians for Change, brought in $84,600 during the same period for a total of $97,245.

His republican opponent, Manny Diaz, hauled in $70,000 to his campaign. That was bolstered by $27,000 in donations to his political committee, Better Florida Education. That left him just $245 short of Perez, with $97,000 raised in total.

Diaz maintains a hefty cash-on-hand lead on Perez, however. Between his campaign and political committee, Diaz is sitting on nearly $180,000. That compares with just over $35,000 for Perez.

This is an open race, as incumbent state Sen. Rene Garcia is term-limited. The outgoing Republican has endorsed Diaz as his successor.

The district covers an inland portion of northern Miami-Dade County including Miami Lakes, Hialeah, and Miami Springs.

Donna Shalala ‘sleeping on the job?’ NRCC thinks so

A new web video from the National Republican Congressional Committee accuses Democratic candidate Donna Shalala of sleepwalking through her campaign in Florida’s 27th Congressional District.

The NRCC, which aims to help elect Republicans to the House of Representatives, is backing Shalala’s opponent in the race, former broadcaster Maria Elvira Salazar. The group has named Salazar to its “Young Guns” campaign.

The video from the NRCC, titled “Tired Out,” argues Shalala is falling behind in the contest.

“Donna Shalala has been sleeping on the job,” reads the text on the screen. “Even Democrats think so.”

The ad then flashes a Miami Herald headline spotlighting former President Barack Obama‘s endorsement of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum in his newest list of endorsements. That list notably excluded Shalala.

The video then closes with one more shot at Shalala: “Donna Shalala: Fired up. Ready to go? More like tired out. Ready to snooze.”

The Shalala campaign criticized the ad, linking the NRCC’s tactics to those of President Donald Trump.

“Yet another Trump-like tactic from an arm of the Trump Party,” said Mike Hernandez, spokesperson for the Shalala campaign.

“Donna Shalala is one of the most qualified congressional candidates in U.S. history. Her experience makes her the most qualified candidate in this election. Secretary Shalala looks forward to debating the issues with her opponents.”

It’s true that Democratic operatives have gone on the record expressing concerns about the CD 27 race. Originally considered a prime pickup opportunity for the Democrats, CD 27 seems to be highly competitive, with polls showing the pair in a tight contest.

Democrats remain hopeful they can win the open seat, vacated by the retiring Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, but it’s no sure thing.

However, the ad’s claims that the lack of an endorsement from Obama bears bad news for the Shalala campaign isn’t quite so clear.

Perhaps he doesn’t fully support her campaign. Or perhaps he feels his endorsement would do more harm than good in a district that has been represented by a Republican for decades. While Obama has earned high approval ratings in his post-presidency, his numbers always showed a sharp split between parties.

Still, the NRCC is feeling confident in their candidate of choice.

“Donna Shalala is asleep at the wheel of her own campaign,” said NRCC Spokeswoman Maddie Anderson.

“Meanwhile, Maria Elvira Salazar is energized, engaged, and interacting with the people of Florida’s 27th District – her soon-to-be constituents.”

David Perez SD 36

New poll puts David Perez in the lead in battleground SD 36

A new survey from Public Policy Polling (PPP) puts Democratic candidate David Perez ahead of his Republican opponent, Manny Diaz, in the race for Senate District 36.

The results show Perez leading Diaz 41 percent-38 percent, with 21 percent of voters still undecided.

The poll ran from Sept. 28-Oct. 1 and consisted of 358 registered voters in SD 36.

The news comes after Perez was included on the latest list of endorsements from former President Barack Obama.

“With just over a month until Election Day, it’s clear our team has the momentum behind us,” Perez declared.

“Every day when I’m out knocking doors, voters tell me they’re sick and tired of the same old pay-to-play politicians like Manny Diaz. We’re looking forward to continuing to get our message out and to give Northwest Dade a state Senator who will always be on their side.”

PPP also found both candidates with net positive approval ratings. For Perez, 21 percent viewed him favorably and 15 percent unfavorably. More voters were aware of Diaz, with 34 percent rating him favorably and 25 percent unfavorably.

Perez has also reduced the fundraising gap between he and Diaz, though Diaz maintains a lead according to the most recent reports filed with the Florida Division of Elections.

The race for SD 36 is open due to incumbent state Sen. Rene Garcia being term-limited. Garcia, a Republican, has already endorsed Diaz as his preferred successor.

SD 36 covers parts of northwest Miami-Dade County including Hialeah, Miami Lakes, Miami Springs and Doral.

Voters in Charge announces Broward County leadership committee

Voters in Charge, the political committee supporting Amendment 3, has announced its newest leadership committee, this time in Broward County.

Amendment 3 would give voters control over gambling expansion in Florida. Right now, polling shows majority support for the measure, though surveys disagree over whether it will clear the 60-percent threshold required for passage.

“We are thrilled to have the support of so many pillars of the community for this important amendment,” said Voters in Charge Chairman John Sowinski.

“For most of our lifetimes, decisions about casino gambling were left up to the voters. It is past time to return that right to Floridians and take it away from politicians and special interest groups in Tallahassee.”

The Broward County committee members include:

Diane Bendekovic, Mayor of Plantation and former educator

Ben Sorenson, Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner

Richard Rosenzweig, Former Deerfield Beach Commissioner

Donna Pilger Korn, Broward County School Board member

Robin Bartleman, Broward County School Board member

Richard Hoye, First Vice Chair Broward Democratic Party and Broward County Public School teacher

Jeff Pole, Second Vice Chair, Broward Democratic Party

August Mangenay, President of the Margate Democratic Club

Mitchell Stollberg, Chair, Legislative Committee, Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida

Anthony Quackenbush, Democratic Professionals Network

Laurie Plotnick, Democratic Party Area Leader Coral Springs, former educator and principal

The gambling industry is opposing the amendment, arguing it would make it harder to expand access to gambling in the state. FanDuel is the latest major gambling service urging voters to vote ‘no’ in November.

New ad argues Donna Shalala ‘wrecked Hurricanes football’

A new digital ad from American Opportunity PAC argues Donna Shalala, the Democratic candidate for Florida’s 27th Congressional District, “wrecked” the football program during her tenure as president of the University of Miami.

That PAC is supporting Shalala’s opponent in the race, Republican nominee Maria Elvira Salazar.

“In 2002, the Hurricanes were the pride of Miami,” the ad’s narrator begins.

“Then Donna Shalala came to town. Shalala took $50,000 from ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro and ruined UM football. Sanctions and shame followed. Donna Shalala would be a disaster in Washington.”

The ad is referencing a photo of Shalala accepting that check from Shapiro at a fundraising event. Shapiro’s involvement as a UM booster led to widespread sanctions of the football and basketball programs.

That’s after Shapiro was found to have provided impermissible benefits to athletes at the university for years.

“Shalala’s reckless decision to accept dirty money and her poor oversight as UM president ruined the Miami Hurricanes Football program for over a decade,” said American Opportunity PAC Executive Director Christian Cámara.

“We cannot trust someone with her poor judgment in Congress.”

In comments to POLITICO, Cámara also criticized Shalala’s decision to move the team from the storied Orange Bowl into what is now known as Hard Rock stadium.

“A lot of South Floridians are emotionally attached to the Orange Bowl. It was part of our history. And what Donna did broke their hearts.”

Mike Hernandez, a spokesperson for the Shalala campaign, took issue with that characterization.

“Republicans never allow facts to get in the way of a false narrative,” Hernandez said.

“The city of Miami forced the University of Miami football program out of its lease at the Orange Bowl, not President Shalala.”

But, as POLITICO Florida’s Marc Caputo notes, Shalala decided not to renew the team’s lease as conditions at the Orange Bowl worsened. The city offered more than $200 million in renovations to the stadium to keep the team there, but UM rejected the deal.

“The city of Miami made an extraordinary effort to identify funds and design a renovation,” Shalala was quoted as saying at the time.

“But in the end, it wasn’t enough.”

Robert Asencio gets a walking buddy for campaign trail

U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois is set to join state Rep. Robert Asencio for canvassing on Friday.

Gutierrez will go door-to-door with Asencio across House District 118.

Asencio, the Democratic incumbent, is defending his seat against Republican challenger Anthony Rodriguez.

Gutierrez and Asencio will visit voters in Tamiami, Kendall, The Crossings, Kendale Lakes, and Country Walk, according to a release from the Asencio campaign.

The two legislators, both of Puerto Rican descent, have spoken out regarding the response to Hurricane Maria hitting the island last year.

They also were among a contingent of Puerto Rican officials across the U.S. to endorse Andrew Gillum’s gubernatorial campaign earlier this week.

“The Congressman is in Miami to work with and build support for fellow Puerto Rican leaders ahead of the 2018 midterm elections,” said the Asencio campaign of Gutierrez.

Gutierrez is not seeking re-election in 2018. Friday’s canvassing event will run 2:30-4:30 p.m.

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