Ryan Nicol, Author at Florida Politics - Page 6 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.

Bill Nelson to DOJ: Investigate Markeis McGlockton shooting

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is calling for a federal investigation into last week’s shooting death of Markeis McGlockton outside a Clearwater convenience store.

McGlockton was shot dead following a dispute with 47-year-old Michael Drejka over a handicapped parking space. The issue has earned attention because of the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law possibly shielding Drejka from prosecution.

The short letter from Nelson and four other lawmakers is addressed to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Assistant Attorney General John M. Gore. It calls on the Department of Justice to look into whether federal law was violated in the shooting.

“We are writing to request that the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Criminal Section open an investigation into the death of Markeis McGlockton at the hands of Michael Drejka in Clearwater, Florida, on July 19, 2018. Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter.”

The letter was also signed by U.S. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California, and U.S. Reps. Charlie Crist and Alcee Hastings of Florida. All are Democrats.

Drejka has not yet been arrested, as Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri argues the “Stand Your Ground” law prevents arrest absent a determination by the state attorney that the defense does not apply.

The appeal by Nelson comes after a pair of state lawmakers urged State Attorney Bernie McCabe to pursue charges against Drejka.

Latino Victory Fund endorsing trio of Florida Legislature candidates

Liberal action group Latino Victory Fund, which seeks to help elect more Latinos to government, is offering up new three new endorsements for the Florida Legislature.

David Perez, Brendan Ramirez, and Robert Asencio are strong Latino leaders with a demonstrated commitment to their communities, and they will play a key role in turning out Latino progressives this election cycle,” said Cristóbal J. Alex, president of Latino Victory Fund.

Perez is competing against Julian Santos for the Democratic nomination in the race for Senate District 36. Ramirez is battling a pair of Democrats, Clark Anderson and Joy Goff-Marcil, in House District 30. And Asencio is pushing for re-election in House District 118.

“Latino Victory is proud to support these exemplary candidates and will do everything in our power to get them to the finish line this November,” added Alex.

Perez previously worked as an aide to former Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas. If he earns the Democratic nomination, he will face off against current state Rep. Manny Diaz, who is trying to make a move to the Senate after representing House District 103 for six years.

Perez has also served as a lieutenant in the Coral Gables Fire Department.

I am ready to serve my district and state in the same way that I have served my community as a firefighter — always on the front lines, ready to fight,” said Perez.

“As the son of Cuban immigrants, it is an honor to receive the endorsement of Latino Victory Fund and to know that like-minded organizations support my campaign.”

Ramirez, an Orlando resident, is attempting to oust Republican state Rep. Bob Cortes.

“For far too long our community has been underrepresented and it is high time that we say, ‘presente,’” remarked Ramirez.

“That is why I decided to run for Florida House District 30. Leadership commands a devoted organization that provides a steadfast force of empowerment. Latino Victory is that vehicle and I am humbled to be among this solid and dynamic organization. I look forward to working together.”

Asencio is unopposed in the Democratic primary as he fights to hold onto the HD 118 seat he won in 2016. Kendall business owner Anthony Rodriguez is the only Republican filed to run against Asencio.

“As a proud Puerto Rican, career public servant, and member of the Florida House of Representatives, Latino Victory Fund’s endorsement for reelection serves as a testament to our mutual commitment to representation for Latinos,” said Asencio.

“With unified voting power, our economic and political influence as Latinos is limitless and the key to forging a brighter future for our nation, communities, and families. I eagerly look forward to the accomplishments of our work together. En unidad marchamos adelante.”

Manny Diaz backing Javier Enriquez in HD 114

Javier Enriquez‘s campaign is announcing a new endorsement from outgoing Representative and current state Senate candidate Manny Diaz.

Enriquez, a Miami Republican, is challenging incumbent state Rep. Javier Fernandez to flip the House District 114 seat from the Democrats.

“Javier Enriquez will be an excellent state representative,” said Diaz in a statement.

“District 114 is his home, and he knows its people and their concerns. Javier will provide solid conservative leadership in the Florida House, and I look forward to working with him.”

Diaz has represented House District 103 since 2012 but is now running in the race for Senate District 36.

Enriquez, who graduated from the University of Miami School of Law and works as an attorney, recently challenged his opponent to a set of three debates. He says he’s grateful Diaz decided to back his campaign.

“It is truly an honor to have Representative Manny Diaz’s support,” said Enriquez in response to the endorsement.

“He is a great example of a public servant, and I have tremendous respect for the work he has done on behalf of his constituents and the entire state. I’m very proud to have his support.”

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

Gwen Graham opens new office in Miami’s Wynwood District

The Gwen Graham campaign for Governor is expanding after opening a new office in Miami’s Wynwood District.

The campaign celebrated the office’s opening earlier this week. Local elected officials were on hand as well, including Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner, former Sen. Ron Silver and South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard.

“Our campaign runs on grassroots support in all 67 counties,” said Casey Clemmons, field director for the Graham campaign.

“As more and more supporters galvanize around Gwen, we’re excited to open this new South Florida office — a place where they can channel that energy and turn their excitement into more votes for Gwen.”

Graham’s father, former U.S. Sen and Florida Gov. Bob Graham, was also on hand along with his wife, Adele.

“It was great to see so many old friends at the office opening, but I was even more impressed by all the young Floridians who have come out to show their support for Gwen,” said the former governor.

“Exciting young people to engage in our democracy has been a passion of mine since my first workday teaching civics. The election of Donald Trump has woken them up unlike anything I’ve seen before and I’m excited to see so many of them volunteering for Gwen’s campaign.”

The opening comes amid good news for the Graham campaign, as a recent poll from Florida Atlantic University showed her leading the field of five Democrats competing for the nomination.

Former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine came in second in that poll. He was followed by Palm Beach real estate billionaire Jeff Greene, Winter Park entrepreneur Chris King and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.

The campaign also announced Chris Wills will serve as a regional field director for South Florida. The new Wynwood office will be a headquarters for the campaign’s Miami volunteers and organizers.

“Growing up in South Florida, raising my own family in North Florida and now living in Orlando, I feel at home across this state,” said Graham as she continues to campaign ahead of the Aug. 28 primary.

“I am so proud of our South Florida staff and volunteers and can’t wait to expand our team with even more grassroots outreach across the state.”

Americans for Prosperity: Taxpayers getting shafted in Dolphins deal

Americans for Prosperity-Florida (AFP-FL) is no fan of the new subsidy deal for the Miami Dolphins.

The Miami-Dade County Commission agreed to new terms of the deal Tuesday, offering additional financial incentives to the team if it moves its practice facility away from the campus of Nova Southeastern University in Broward County.

The new facility would be built in Miami Gardens, next to the team’s home field at Hard Rock Stadium.

“The Dolphins went fishing for taxpayer subsidies and Miami-Dade and Miami Gardens elected officials swallowed hook, line, and sinker,” said Chris Hudson, state director for AFP-FL, in a statement.

Previously, the Dolphins signed a 20-year deal allotting the team a maximum $5 million subsidy annually for attracting events to the stadium, such as the College Football Championship and high-profile soccer events. That deal was signed in 2014, though so far the team has not requested anywhere near the maximum amount, asking for just $1.5 million so far.

The new deal offered Tuesday extended the previous deal for 10 years and increased the annual cap by $750,000.

In addition, the City of Miami Gardens offered $500,000 per year to help the team deal with a higher property tax bill as a result of the new practice complex. The facility is expected to be completed by 2020.

“It’s wrong that local taxpayers are being asked to pad the privately-owned Dolphins’ bottom line,” Hudson said. “The only ones benefiting from this deal are the team’s shareholders.

“We hope taxpayers remember which elected officials chose to give away their tax dollars to a privately-owned team instead of using those dollars for the essential services residents need.”

The group plans on launching a digital banner ad to speak out against the new deal.

AIF backs Rick Scott for Senate

Gov. Rick Scott has earned the endorsement of Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) as he continues his campaign to oust incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.

Scott, running for U.S. Senate after two terms as Florida’s governor, thanked the group for its endorsement.

“Over the past seven and a half years, we’ve worked hard to improve the business climate in Florida by cutting taxes and reducing burdensome regulations and making it easier for job creators to create new opportunities for our families,” Scott said.

“… As a U.S. Senator, I will continue to fight for businesses all across our country, and I appreciate the endorsement of AIF as we continue to work toward making Florida the best state in the nation for business and job growth.”

Added AIF President and CEO Tom Feeney: “Gov. Scott has worked tirelessly from the very first day he took office to make Florida the number one destination to do business for Florida families and job creators.”

The news comes as a poll released Wednesday showed Scott holding onto a slight lead in the race, earning 44 percent of the vote to Nelson’s 40 percent.

Facebook reverses course, approves Matt Caldwell ad featuring guns

Facebook has reversed itself after removing an ad from Agriculture Commissioner candidate Matt Caldwell that featured the candidate firing and then holding a gun, according to a report from The News-Press.

Caldwell had accused the social media site of censorship after his ad was removed.

Facebook’s advertising policies state: “Ads must not promote the sale or use of weapons, ammunition, or explosives.” The page also notes that “[a]ds promoting the brandishing of firearms” are disallowed by the website.

Caldwell, a North Fort Myers state representative, blamed the site’s “institutional liberalism” for the ad’s removal. But now the company says rejecting the ad was an error.

“We review millions of ads each week and sometimes we make mistakes,” Facebook said in a statement to The News-Press. “We have overturned the decision and the ads are now running live on Facebook.”

The 15-second ad, titled “That’s All There Is To It,” features Caldwell shooting a clay target before he addresses the camera directly while holding the gun.

“I’m Matt Caldwell. I like guns. I love the Second Amendment. And I support our president. That’s why I’m endorsed by the NRA. I’m Matt Caldwell, and that’s all there is to it.”

Caldwell is competing for the Republican nomination in the Ag. Commissioner race with state Sen. Denise Grimsley, retired Army Colonel Mike McCalister, and former state Rep. Baxter Troutman.

They are running to replace term-limited Commissioner Adam Putnam, now running to be Florida’s next governor.

Donald Trump approval rating drops after hitting high among Floridians

President Donald Trump‘s approval rating has dipped from its previous high among Florida voters, according to the newest results from the Florida Atlantic University Business and Economics Polling Initiative (FAU BEPI).

The July survey has Trump with a 41 percent approval rating and a 47 percent disapproval rating. That’s down from May, when the poll had Trump at 43 percent approval and 45 percent disapproval, a net drop of four percentage points.

Trump’s approval was on the rise from December through May, according to FiveThirtyEight’s analysis of available polling. But those numbers have held fairly steady since.

Some, like Wednesday’s FAU BEPI poll, indicate a drop in support. But others, such as a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, had Trump’s approval rating rising, even though it was taken in part after his widely-panned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trump’s popularity is considered a strong factor in whether Democrats will be able to gain control of the U.S. House, or even the Senate, after the midterm elections in November.

The president will also play a role in statewide elections here in Florida, as he’s endorsed Republican candidate for governor Ron DeSantis. Trump plans on attending a rally for DeSantis, a northeast Florida congressman, in Tampa on July 31.

“While the President can help Congressman DeSantis in the primary, Mr. Trump’s underwater approval ratings may be a drag in the general election,” noted Kevin Wagner, professor of political science at FAU and a research fellow of the Initiative.

Trump’s presence (or lack thereof) will also be felt in the U.S. Senate race, as Gov. Rick Scott has seemed to tamp down his previous support of the president recently as he tries to oust incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.

Republicans still see Trump favorably, giving him an 80 percent approval rating. Democrats, however, give the president a 76 percent disapproval rating.

The FAU poll was conducted from July 20-21 and sampled 800 registered voters. The group was made up of 35 percent registered Democrats, 33 percent registered Republicans and 32 percent registered Independents. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

Poll: Gwen Graham edges Philip Levine, Jeff Greene surging

A new poll from the Florida Atlantic University Business and Economics Polling Initiative (FAU BEPI) shows former U.S. Congresswoman Gwen Graham atop the Democratic field in Florida’s gubernatorial race, with Jeff Greene‘s support ramping up.

FAU’s survey has Graham earning 20 percent support, giving her a significant but not quite outside-the-margin-of-error lead over former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, who earned 16 percent support.

Greene, a Palm Beach real estate billionaire, was not even in the race the last time FAU conducted a survey. Still, he made his FAU debut with a solid 14 percent support. Rounding out the field were Winter Park entrepreneur Chris King with 9 percent and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum with 7 percent.

A large number of voters, 31 percent, remain undecided according to the survey. That represents a significant decrease in undecideds compared to FAU BEPI’s last check-in, when Levine topped the four-way race with 16 percent support and 42 percent of Democratic voters were undecided.

Graham’s four-point lead is significant, as most other recent polls have shown her trailing Levine, albeit always by a small margin. The FAU poll is equally significant for Greene, whose numbers have surged in recent weeks after his late entry into the race.

That’s something Greene predicted in a pair of conversations with Florida Politics earlier in July. Sure enough, he may just be making this a three-way race between him, Graham and Levine.

“It appears that the Greene candidacy is a game-changer in the race for the Democratic nomination,” said Monica Escaleras, director of the BEPI. “In May, without Greene running, Levine and Graham were the front-runners; now Greene is in the top tier of candidates.”

The poll also seems to counter the early narrative following Greene’s entry into the race — that the one-time Republican would pull votes away from the more centrist Graham, especially in his home base of South Florida.

The FAU poll was conducted July 20-21 and sampled 800 registered voters throughout the state. Its sample consisted of 35 percent Democrats, 33 percent Republicans, and 32 percent independents. The Democratic primary portion of the poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 5.9 percentage points.

Democrats in the poll ranked health care as their most important priority. Independents agreed, with immigration coming in a close second.

FAU poll sees U.S. Senate race steady since May

A new survey out shows Gov. Rick Scott leading incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson by four percentage points in the race for U.S. Senate.

Scott earns 44 percent of the vote compared to Nelson’s 40 percent, according to the most recent results by the Florida Atlantic University Business and Economics Polling Initiative. Those numbers are nearly identical to the last measure released by FAU in May.

But the number of undecided voters did increase; 17 percent of whom say they’re undecided now, compared to 16 percent in the previous poll — although that can be attributed to rounding error.

Those numbers are in line with other surveys which have shown a close race, albeit at times with different candidates leading. RealClearPolitics currently has Scott with a lead of less than a percentage point, according to an aggregate of available polls.

The FAU poll did show some other notable numbers relevant to the race, with Scott’s approval rating well above Nelson’s.

Voters give Scott a 50 percent approval rating as Governor, compared to 32 percent unfavorable, giving him a plus-18 in favorability. Nelson’s unfavorability rating as U.S. Senator matches Scott’s 32 percent, but his favorability came in double-digits below Scott’s at 37 percent. FAU didn’t measure either’s favorability in its May poll.

One major difference from two months ago, however, is the explosion of concern expressed by Floridians over the toxic algal blooms that have plagued the state’s coast. According to FAU, 53 percent of those polled said they are “very concerned” about the thick green slime, while another third said they were “somewhat concerned.”

The issue has taken a front-row seat in the Senate race. Nelson hit Scott over algal blooms during the weekend, saying they have been exacerbated by poor leadership at the state level.

“Rick Scott has systematically dismembered the environmental agencies of the state of Florida over the last eight years,” Nelson said during a roundtable discussion about the discharges.

The Scott campaign hit back, calling on Nelson to “do his job” and help secure funding to address the problem while touting the Governor’s efforts at both the state level and dealing with the Trump Administration.

“The fact that Florida is waiting for such an important project to move forward shows that it’s time to end the career politician mentality of only working three days a week and allowing Washington’s bureaucratic processes to slow down results,” Scott said Tuesday.

The FAU poll was conducted from July 20-21 and sampled 800 registered voters. The group was made up of 35 percent registered Democrats, 33 percent registered Republicans and 32 percent registered Independents. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

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