Ryan Nicol, Author at Florida Politics - Page 4 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.

Lauren Baer brings in $1.6M in latest fundraising period

The Lauren Baer campaign announced Friday it had raised more than $1.6 million in the third quarter of 2018.

That means her campaign to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Mast has pulled in more than $3 million since launch.

Baer defeated former navy JAG Pam Keith to become the Democratic candidate in Florida’s 18th Congressional District.

“While traveling our great district over the past year, I’ve been overwhelmed by the incredible support this campaign has received,” Baer said.

“As we near the finish line I want to give my sincere thanks to everyone who has supported our effort by knocking on doors, donating, phone banking, and registering voters. This campaign is about working hard for every American, not special interests, and together, we’re going to win big in November.”

Baer did have a large cash-on-hand deficit to make up as of the previous reports filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

Those numbers showed Baer with about half of Mast’s total of $1.8 million available. It’s not clear how much, if any, of that gap has been closed for the campaign’s final month. Mast’s third quarter numbers have not yet been posted by the FEC.

Baer’s campaign recently released a poll showing her within striking distance of Mast. She’s also received endorsements in the last few weeks from former Vice President Joe Biden and former Secretary of State John Kerry.

However, elections analysts agree that this district remains in the “likely Republican” category for now.

Jim Bonfiglio

Jim Bonfiglio internal poll has him up by 10 points in HD 89

Ocean Ridge Mayor Jim Bonfiglio, the Democratic candidate in House District 89, is up big over his Republican opponent, Mike Caruso. That’s if you believe a new poll commissioned by the Bonfiglio campaign.

The survey from Clearview Research showed Bonfiglio earning 44 percent support to Caruso’s 34 percent. A hefty 22 percent of voters remain undecided.

The poll was conducted among 300 likely voters from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 and has a margin of error of 5.65 percentage points.

We here at Florida Politics tend to advise against taking campaign polls at face value in isolation, as campaigns have an obvious agenda in releasing them to the public. They’re not always off the mark, but absent other evidence showing similar results, you’d be best to take them with a grain of salt.

In this case, it does seem a bit of a stretch to say Bonfiglio is ahead by double digits.

It’s not that he can’t win in a Republican-leaning district. True, Republican incumbent Bill Hager has held the seat for eight years and ran unopposed in 2016.

However, when Hager faced opposition in 2014 and 2012, he won by about five points each time. That kind of gap can easily be closed in an open race, especially if 2018 turns out to be a wave year for Democrats.

In addition, HD 89 was one of only six districts in the entire state to flip from voting for Mitt Romney in 2012 to supporting Hillary Clinton in 2016, according to an analysis by MCI Maps. Caruso has heavily embraced Donald Trump throughout the primary. That could cause voters to seek out the Democrat come Nov. 6.

But a 10-point win for Bonfiglio?

That’s asking a lot from HD 89 Democrats. Bonfiglio may be up, but supporters shouldn’t get too comfortable unless other, more independent, signs start painting the same picture.

Vern Buchanan campaign raises another $500K for re-election bid

The Vern Buchanan campaign announced it would be reporting a haul of $500,000 raised during the third quarter. That would leave the campaign’s cash on hand at more than $1.4 million.

Buchanan, the Republican incumbent in Florida’s 16th Congressional District, has kept up a cash lead over his Democratic challenger, David Shapiro. It’s not clear where Shapiro stands against Buchanan’s updated numbers. The reports are not due to the Federal Election Commission until later this month.

Shapiro did manage to outraise Buchanan in the previous reporting period. However, Shapiro may have been aided by his competition in the Democratic primary against Jan Schneider. Buchanan was unopposed on the Republican side.

If Buchanan can hold onto his fundraising lead, that would leave him sitting pretty as we approach Election Day on Nov. 6. A recent pair of polls have shown Buchanan with a sizable lead against Shapiro. Add in a money advantage and it would be an uphill climb to unseat the incumbent.

The two candidates have recently traded barbs in dueling ads over recent red tide outbreaks. Buchanan’s spot touted his work on combating the crisis, while Shapiro hit him for not doing enough.

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in new ad: ‘We deserve clean water’

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, the Democratic candidate in Florida’s 26th Congressional District, is out with a new ad on the state’s water problems. The ad’s release comes on the same day as multiple beaches were closed across South Florida in light of a red tide outbreak.

Mucarsel-Powell is attempting to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo. Her new ad, titled “We Deserve Clean Water,” puts the blame on Republicans for not doing enough to protect Florida’s environment.

The ad is devoid of audible narration, instead relying on the visual of Mucarsel-Powell scuba diving, displaying signs underwater to call for “real action” on the environment.

“Our water, our reef, our environment are in danger,” reads the text on the screen amid numerous underwater shots.

“Republicans have done nothing.”

That’s when Mucarsel-Powell appears in full scuba gear, holding signs which say, in succession, “I’m Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. I’m running for Congress. I will take real action.”

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection announced Thursday it was offering $3 million in grants to South Florida counties dealing with the red tide outbreak.

Recent polls from Democratically-aligned groups have shown Mucarsel-Powell slightly ahead of Curbelo in the race. Election analysts at FiveThirtyEight and the Cook Political Report now see the contest as a tossup, though Larry Sabato and Inside Elections both have Curbelo as a small favorite.

For Our Future Florida to launch statewide day of action

Progressive group For Our Future Florida (FOF-FL) is launching a statewide day of action this Saturday, which happens to serve as the one-month mark until the midterm elections.

“Saturday’s events will see hundreds of volunteers at over 70 neighborhood canvassing events from Tallahassee to Miami encouraging Floridians to cast their ballots for November,” said Blake Williams, a spokesperson for the group.

FOF-FL says it has already knocked on more than 500,000 doors in an effort to convince voters to elect Democrats on Nov. 6. Now that vote-by-mail ballots have begun to be sent out, FOF-FL says it is ramping up its operation.

The group has already promised resources to help unseat state Sens. Keith Perry and Dana Young. FOF-FL has also highlighted its support for U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in his quest to defend his seat from Republican Rick Scott, as well as Andrew Gillum‘s contest against Ron DeSantis in the Governor’s race.

Gillum is attempting to be the first Democrat to hold that position in two decades.

“Progressive voters are more fired up than ever to bring change to Florida for the first time in 20 years, and it’s shown in For Our Future Florida’s large-scale volunteer program,” Williams said.

“FOF-FL will be channeling that enthusiasm for change among Democratic voters into voter outreach and action at the polls.”

State offers $3M to combat red tide following South Florida beach closures

Amid widespread beach closures across South Florida Thursday because of the appearance of red tide, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced it will offer $3 million in grants to help counties deal with the outbreak.

Palm Beach announced the closure of all county beaches Thursday. Miami-Dade also joined in after red tide was found in the area, closing all beaches north of Haulover Inlet.

That was followed by an announcement from Gov. Rick Scott‘s office that DEP would offer grant money to St. Lucie, Martin, Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

“In Florida, when presented with problems, we work together and face them head on – red tide is no different,” Scott said.

“So far, the state has provided more than $16 million to help minimize the impacts of harmful algal blooms and expand our research and understanding of red tide, including funding to help scientists test innovative solutions for this phenomenon. We will continue to work with our local partners to ensure that their needs are fully met until this year’s red tide subsides.”

Dead fish have been spotted along parts of the Atlantic Coast, causing the closure of the aforementioned beaches. The waters in Broward County have also been tested for red tide, though the results are not yet public.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission recently announced the outbreak in southwest Florida was weakening. That area had been hit particularly hard throughout the past few months.

Vern Buchanan leads David Shapiro by 9 in new survey

A new survey of the contest Florida’s 16th Congressional District between Democrat David Shapiro and Republican U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan gives the incumbent the edge. Buchanan leads Shapiro 49 percent to 40 percent, while 11 percent remain undecided.

The poll was conducted by the Public Opinion Research Lab at the University of North Florida. The survey ran from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 and contained a sample of 499 likely voters.

Shapiro does hold a 9-point lead among non-party affiliated and third-party voters. However, the Republican lean of the district tilts the overall vote to Buchanan, who leads with GOP voters 82 percent to 8 percent.

Unsurprisingly, the environment was named the most important issue in the district, with 22 percent listing it as their top concern. The area has been hit hard by the red tide crisis.

“The recent red tide is impacting a lot of the Florida coast, perhaps nowhere more than this area,” said Public Opinion Research Lab Director Dr. Michael Binder.

“Voters are concerned; this issue is on their minds and driving their votes.”

Health care came in second with 18 percent, followed by immigration with 17 percent.

The head-to-head results echo what other polls have shown, with a St. Pete Polls survey released earlier in the week showing Buchanan up by 7 points. That’s in line with analysts who see Buchanan as they favorite, though they disagree about the degree of his lead.

Poll puts Lauren Baer within 3 points of Brian Mast

The Lauren Baer campaign has released a new poll showing her just three points behind Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Mast.

Baer, the Democratic nominee in Florida’s 18th Congressional District, pulled in 45 percent support while Mast earned 48 percent.

The survey was conducted by Global Strategy Group (GSG) Sept. 26-30 and sampled 400 likely voters. The results have a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points.

As usual, beware of reading too much into polls released by campaigns, as they tend to have a bias toward the candidate releasing them.

That’s likely the case here, as GSG is a C+ rated pollster which has one of the largest biases toward Democratic candidates of any pollster analyzed by FiveThirtyEight. On average, GSG’s results favor Democrats by an extra two percentage points.

Still, it’s not implausible that this race is winnable for Democrats. Another recent poll commissioned by a Democratic Party-aligned group, Protect Our Care, also found Baer trailing by three.

Baer has also pulled in some big-time endorsements recently, earning support from former Secretary of State John Kerry and former Vice President Joe Biden.

GSG shows Baer with potential to expand her base of support, as only 52 percent of voters know her enough to give her a favorability rating.

Overall, 32 percent of voters rated her favorably, while 20 percent rated her unfavorably. Mast’s ratings were 44 percent favorable, 39 percent unfavorable.

Despite the pair of polls showing Baer close behind Mast, major analysts seem to agree this race is “likely” to remain in Republicans’ hands — as of now.

New Brian Mast ad promotes ‘paying it forward’

Incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Mast is out with a new ad touting his donation of a prosthetic leg to a cancer survivor in need.

The 30-second spot is titled “Pay It Forward.” Robert Brown, who lost his leg in a cancer battle more than 30 years ago, tells the story of meeting Mast at a charity event, where Mast made the decision to pass one of his own prosthetics to Robert. Mast is a double amputee, caused by an IED explosion while he was serving in Afghanistan.

“Before Brian Mast literally gave me one of his legs, for over 30 years I was in constant pain.”

“He struggled to walk, he struggled to move,” added his wife, Pascale.

“When he would be around new people, he would be timid to even walk to greet them. So, I guess I felt helpless ‘cause we looked into, you know, getting new legs and things like that, and that’s not something that we could afford at that time.

“So, him saying ‘oh, you know, I met this guy at a fundraising event and he’s giving me a new leg,’ and I was in disbelief. I actually cried when I first saw him walking straight for the first time — able to walk like a normal functioning person.”

“I think about Brian Mast every single day,” Robert added.

“His generosity has changed my life.”

Mast has also supported several House bills to promote access to and funding for prosthetics. Those bills include the Medicare Part B Improvement Act passed in 2017, as well as HR 1892 and HR 5895, which passed earlier this year.

Mast is competing against former State Department adviser and Democratic nominee Lauren Baer.

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell poll shows her ahead by a sliver

A survey commissioned by the Debbie Mucarsel-Powell campaign is echoing a recent polling trend, showing a tight contest in Florida’s 26th Congressional District.

The poll, which was conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research has Mucarsel-Powell, the Democratic candidate, earning 49 percent of the vote. Her opponent, incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo earned 48 percent.

The Curbelo campaign issued a statement questioning those results.

“You know the desperation is reaching panic levels when Democrats cross their fingers and hope no one will notice they’ve released the same exact bogus poll results they tried to trick voters into believing almost exactly two years ago today,” said Joanna Rodriguez, spokesperson for Curbelo.

Rodriquez is referencing a 2016 survey showing Democrat Joe Garcia ahead of Curbelo, 47 percent to 46 percent. Garcia went on to lose the race by double digits.

However, other recent polls of the race have told a similar story to the new Mucarsel-Powell survey. Late last month, a Public Policy Polling survey commissioned by Protect Our Care had Mucarsel-Powell ahead 46 percent to 45 percent. Another poll from the New York Times gave Curbelo a slight lead of 47 percent to 44 percent.

Most analysts still see this contest leaning slightly in favor of Curbelo. However, FiveThirtyEight currently rates the race as a toss-up.

“I’ve been working on behalf of my community for over 20 years, and families here can trust I’ll be a genuine voice for them in Washington on the most important issues, like health care, jobs and the environment,” Mucarsel-Powell said in a statement.

“Residents here know that it’s not enough to say you stand with this community. They’re ready for someone with the courage to truly fight for them.”

The candidates have also recently released dueling ads on health care policy, an issue which has continued to be front-and-center throughout the contest.

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