Jacob Ogles, Author at Florida Politics - Page 5 of 22

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at jacobogles@hotmail.com.

Chris King, other Democrats express outrage over Matt Gaetz attack on Andrew Gillum

Lieutenant Governor candidate Chris King joined Democrats statewide in expressing outrage over comments made Saturday by U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz during a political event in Cape Coral.

“Our election should and must be about real people facing real issues, and not hyperbolic propaganda used to fearmonger and gin up their base,” King said.

Gaetz on Saturday referred to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum as “Andrew Kill’em” during a campaign stop alongside Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis.

The comments quickly drew rebuke from Democrats around the state.

As for Gaetz, he said Democrats started attacking him because they have no defense for Gillum.

“Democrats can’t defend the horrific crime rate under Andrew Gillum in Tallahassee so they blame others,” he wrote on Twitter. “Sad!”

Jennifer Zimmerman, Gaetz’s Democratic opponent in Florida’s 1st Congressional District, said maybe the Congressman should get back to working for his own constituents.

Matt: I need to have a word with you,” she said. “While women all over America were coping with the confirmation of Kavanaugh, you were campaigning with Ron DeSantis in South Florida. You engaged in undignified language not befitting a sitting congressman—shocking, considering you were just outed getting chummy with a confirmed Holocaust denier (again!). Why don’t you come back home and let this mama teach you how to be a Southern gentleman? And, why strut your feathers elsewhere when the people of FL-01 deserve your full attention?”

Jennifer Boddicker, state House candidate in District 80, noted the remarkable came at the same event Lee County’s Republican chair Jonathan Martin made controversial remarks.

My opponent for Florida House District 80, Byron Donalds, is an African American Republican in the Florida legislature. He was there campaigning with them, when Matt Gaetz uttered his dog whistle remarks. I imagine it was uncomfortable. As a woman, I know the feeling of having to grit one’s teeth when inappropriate remarks are made. Though we have very different policy views, I’ve enjoyed chatting with Byron before debates. I’m nothing but sympathetic to his situation––campaigning with people who are either racist or hideously tone deaf. He’s also had racist remarks posted on his Facebook page. There is no place for this in politics. I hope such remarks go in the garbage bin of history and we move forward in a way that is more representative of every person. Where an African American Republican like Byron Donalds, African American Democrats like Andrew Gillum and Sean Shaw, women, and people of all stripes are treated with dignity and respect.”

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman called Gaetz’s remarks reprehensible.

“His words should be immediately condemned by Ron DeSantis,” Kriseman said. ” The rally in Cape Coral was just another instance of unacceptable language being weaponized by the DeSantis campaign’s top surrogates. Yet again, the DeSantis campaign refuses to adjust the tone and tenor of an ugly and divisive campaign.”

State Sen. Audrey Gibson said the DeSantis campaign chose the low road.

“Our state faces several tremendous challenges for working families and the environment. The gubernatorial race should be focused on how to solve these challenges,” Gibson said.

“I am proud that Mayor Gillum has run a campaign that is laser-focused on expanding access to health care, ensuring every child has a great public education, and protecting our water, air and coastlines. Unfortunately, Ron DeSantis and his allies have chosen to take the low road, and been more focused on name-calling rather than the issues. Floridians deserve so much better. With nearly a month until Election Day, DeSantis should make clear that Matt Gaetz’s toxic language and juvenile antics have no place in addressing the concerns at hand and start running a campaign worthy of our great state.”

Terrie Rizzo, Florida Democratic Party chairwoman, labeled Gaetz’s name-calling as a “racist and despicable attack.”

“Ron DeSantis seems intent on exploiting the ugliest and most toxic forces in our society in order to win this election,” Rizzo said.

“If DeSantis’ campaign doesn’t stop speaking so irresponsibly, they could destroy the very fabric of our state and cause irreparable harm. Floridians’ safety is literally at risk. Ron DeSantis must immediately condemn this racist attack on Andrew Gillum and stop weaponizing race.”

Sean Shaw, Democratic Attorney General candidate, also came to Gillum’s defense.

“Congressmen Gaetz should be ashamed of himself,” Shaw said. “Language of that type has no place in our state. This is more of the same inappropriate language that has become all too common from Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis.”

“This latest comment proves that Ron DeSantis doesn’t have a plan to move Florida forward,” said Dianne Hart, a Democratic state representative candidate in District 61. “Floridians are tired of DeSantis’ divisive politics and that’s why they’re rallying around Andrew Gillum for Governor — a candidate with a record of putting Florida families first. I look forward to his victory on November 6.”

And state House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz said Gaetz’s comments completely crossed the line.

“The remarks made today by Representative Matt Gaetz are an abomination and have no place in our politics,” Cruz said. “Ron DeSantis should immediately condemn this attack on Andrew Gillum and stop the slash-and-burn tactics that have defined his campaign.”

King, whom Gillum tapped as his running mate shortly after beating him in the Democratic primary, said his ticket would not tolerate the rhetoric.

“”We condemn the divisive and dangerous rhetoric used at the Ron DeSantis rally by his chief congressional ally,” King said. “We call on Mr. DeSantis to immediately condemn these statements riddled with bigotry and inaccuracies. Furthermore, he must demand his campaign and supporters to tone it down for everyone’s safety.”


Florida leaders react to Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation

The U.S. Senate on Saturday officially confirmed Brett Kavanaugh to a seat on the Supreme Court. The 50-48 vote reflected the divided nature of confirmation hearings, which involved accusations of sexual assault dating back to Kavanaugh’s youth.

Reactions from Florida leaders to news of the confirmation also showed the controversial nature of the nomination, and perhaps some indication of how the news will influence midterm elections.

Here is a sampling of state and national reactions:

President Donald Trump:

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio:

Gov. Rick Scott:

“After weeks of being forced to endure the complete circus that Washington has become, I am glad to finally see Judge Brett Kavanaugh confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court. I know that Judge Kavanaugh will continue to faithfully uphold our Constitution and fairly interpret our laws.

“Witnessing career politicians in Washington make a complete mockery of the Supreme Court confirmation process has made it even more clear that we MUST have term limits for Congress. Any politician who has been in office so long that they would allow partisan politics to take precedence over the U.S. Supreme Court does not deserve to represent American families … and Senator Nelson is a perfect example of this. He said he would vote against the nominee before Kavanaugh was even announced, he failed to meet with Kavanaugh despite months of opportunities, and he allowed Democratic Party boss Chuck Schumer to control his vote all the way through.

“Considering that Senator Nelson’s entire campaign is funded by Democrat leaders like Schumer, this is hardly a surprise — but it is absolutely shameful. This embarrassing charade is exactly why I am fighting to bring change to D.C., and why I will continue to work every single day to make Washington work for families, not for the career politicians.”

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, Democratic gubernatorial nominee:

“Today is a dark day for the Senate and a tough day for our country. The women who have come forward in the last few weeks, the people who have been making phone calls, making their voices heard in the halls of the Capitol and across the country — I hear you and I stand with you.

“Judge Kavanaugh will be a critical vote on the most divisive and contentious issues of our time and as Florida’s Governor, I will use my platform and do everything in my power to protect Floridians’ access to health care and protect women’s rights and freedoms.

“I am disappointed, but we cannot give up and I will continue to fight for each and every Floridian.

Nikki Fried, Democratic Agriculture Commissioner candidate:

“Yesterday’s Senate confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court serves as a reminder that we need to empower women with a seat at the table.”

State Rep. Sean Shaw, Democratic Attorney General candidate:

“Brett Kavanaugh and I agree on one thing: his nomination process has been disgraceful. He repeatedly lied to the Judiciary Committee and polluted his confirmation hearings with a flurry of conspiracy-minded partisan accusations.

“He dodged questions about his character by pointing to his academic pedigree and showed a temperament that should be disqualifying for any potential Supreme Court Justice.

“At every opportunity, Brett Kavanaugh has made clear that he thinks the rules don’t apply to him. No American is above the rule of law, not even Donald Trump or Brett Kavanaugh. Members of the highest Court should be beyond reproach. #BelieveSurvivors”

Democratic U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel: 

“This is a sad, dark day for our nation. Despite multiple disturbing allegations of sexual misconduct and assault including the credible testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Republicans, after a phony investigation, confirmed Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

“This sends a horrible message to survivors of sexual violence that their experiences and voices don’t matter. But that’s not all. Republicans have confirmed someone who proved himself unfit for the highest court in the land by raging partisan conspiratorial accusations at Democrats during his hearing and even threatening payback.

“With all this said, the ultimate insult to the American people is that Republicans are sending to the United States Supreme Court a man who was nominated by Donald Trump to overturn Roe v. Wade and protect the president from criminal investigation.

“Judge Kavanaugh’s extreme views threaten to roll back decades of hard-fought freedoms and will affect the lives of our sons and daughters for generations.”

Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz:

“This process was flawed from the start. In his first rushed hearings, Judge Kavanaugh was not always forthright in his testimony, and the vast majority of documents that could have shed light on his record were withheld from Senators. Since then, his lack of credibility and suitability for the bench became increasingly evident.

“Confronted by credible allegations of sexual assault, he repeatedly obfuscated or lied about his past behavior, and revealed himself to be the unabashed partisan that so many had feared him to be.

“Clearly, his temperament throughout was erratic and should have served as an immediate disqualifier for this consequential, lifetime position. Elections certainly have consequences.

“So does voting to place an accused sexual assault perpetrator on our highest court. Millions of women, assault survivors and men of conscience will not soon forget the injustice that today’s vote represents.”

Incoming Florida House Minority Leader Kionne McGhee:

This November, we have an opportunity to be the conscience of this country when the courts will not. State legislatures across the country can serve as a check against attacks on voting rights, women’s rights, health care, and the environment. It’s important now more than ever to elect state leaders who will stand up for the values we hold so dear.

“Hope is not lost. It’s up to us to defend progress at the ballot box. This November, let’s make a change.”

Anna Eskamani, Florida House District 47 candidate:

“The confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States is painful to grasp.

“As someone who has personally experienced sexual assault and harassment, words cannot describe the disappointment I hold for Senators who voted in his favor. His appointment only elevates the importance of local races, as state governments are the firewall to extreme national leaders and agendas.

“There is power to find in pain, and our campaign remains committed to building a community that is free of control and abuse, while simultaneously challenging federal policies that hurt everyday Floridians.”

Florida Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo:

“With the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh today — women’s reproductive rights, gun control, LGBTQ rights, and our environment will be reshaped for generations to come.

“The rights we fought so hard for are at risk with this Supreme Court.

“Elections have consequences, and this is a huge example of that.

“This will only further motivate Florida Democrats to keep Rick Scott out of the U.S. Senate and to re-elect Senator Bill Nelson.”

Former Republican U.S. Rep. Allen West:

This post will be updated through the day.


Replacement process in Dorothy Hukill’s Senate race looms

As the community mourns the death of state Sen. Dorothy Hukill, the daunting task of naming a replacement nominee still lays ahead.

Mike Thomas, Republican state committeeman for Brevard County, says numerous applications have already come in to replace Hukill as the GOP nominee in Senate District 14.

“The names are still coming in and it would not be appropriate to render a partial listing,” he said.

The Port Orange community today pays their respects to Hukill, who died Oct. 2 days after announced she could no longer campaign.

But there will be just a seven-day window in which Republicans can choose and submit a replacement nominee to run against Democrat Mel Martin.

Ballots have already been printed, and will have Hukill’s name listed as the Republican nominee, but once a replacement nominee gets selected, election officials will send letters with vote-by-mail ballots and post notices in polling locations explaining all votes for Hukill will count toward the replacement.

The decision on a nominee falls on six people—the county chairs, state committeemen and state committeewomen for Brevard and Volusia counties. District 14 spans part of both counties.

In Brevard, that’s Rick Lacey, Thomas and Cheryl Lankes. In Volusia, that’s Tony Ledbetter, Paul Deering and Dana Dougherty.

But Evan Power, chairman of the Leon County Republican Party, explains that because more Volusia represents a larger part of the district, those three votes will be weighted more. Theoretically, if the counties deadlock, the three Volusia officials would get their preference.

Ledbetter delined to discuss the selection process now, and asked his Volusia colleagues to do the same.

The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports a list of candidates who have expressed interest: Titusville City Councilman Matt Barringer; DeBary City Councilwoman Erika Benfield; former Deltona City Commissioner Zenaida Denizac; Marilyn Ford of Port Orange, retired director of corrections for Volusia County; state Rep. Tom Goodson of Merritt Island; former Florida House District 52 candidates Brian Hodgers and Monique Miller; Cindy Roberts, a Brevard precinct committeewoman; Melbourne City Councilman Tim Thomas; and Cindy Thompson of Mims.

However, state law could stomp on some ambitions. A statute prevents anyone who already qualified for a separate election earlier this year from being selected as the replacement.

Notably, two Democrats looking to become replacement nominees in Florida’s 17th Congressional District earlier this month challenged that law in federal court and lost.

Part of that case challenged whether state law could regulate a choice in a federal election, not a concern with the state Senate race, but that likely means anyone who lost a primary for a different office won’t qualify as a replacement nominee.


Darcy Richardson, Nancy Argenziano rekindle Reform Party dreams

The Reform Party 25 years ago posed a serious threat to the two-party system—then largely vanished. But Darcy Richardson, Florida’s Reform Party candidate for governor, hopes to make the third party into a force in the Sunshine State this year.

“We’re trying to refine the party and bring some new life into it,” says Richardson, a political historian and author.

The Reform Party ticket hopes to offer a true centrist alternative this year with Richardson, who previously ran as a Democratic protest candidate, and running mate Nancy Argenziano, a former Republican state Senator.

“We’re offering a true unity ticket here,” Richardson said.

Strident Centrist

Argenziano brings a high profile in state politics, as much in recent years for fighting members of her own party as representing the right. These days, she barely recognizes the Grand Old Party where she spent most of her life.

Once the most powerful woman in the Florida House of Representatives, the Homosassa politician once championed nursing home regulation and fiscal conservatism, but today finds the party allergic to controls on even the most heinous of corporate abuse.

“I started to realize it was not what I signed up for,” she said.

Her eyes started to open, she said, after a first visit to ALEC, where she expected to find a think tank on conservative policy and instead found an organized effort to drive a philosophy she considered extreme.

But at least in Florida, she remained in a body that required consensus. She first went into the state House in 1996 under then-Speaker of the House Dan Webster as Republicans took the chamber for the first time in 122 years. The Legislature then remained closely divided.

Then things moved further to the right with Speaker Tom Feeney. But over her first five years in Tallahassee, it seemed conservatism with a purpose, she says. Lawmakers systematically weeded out redundant laws and regulations; they scrutinized taxes on the books for years. But she worked with then-Minority Leader Lois Frankel on protections for residents of nursing homes.

Argenziano moved to the Senate in 2002, but by the time she left in 2007, she started to wonder why Republicans remained fixated on deregulation and cutting taxes.

“What are they getting rid of now? The regulations I worked on,” she says.

Argenziano later got appointed to the Public Service Commission but famously left that post amid friction with Tallahassee Republicans, bluntly wring in a resignation letter “I am terrified if Rick Scott becomes governor there is no check on the Legislature.”

As for Richardson, he’s never held office but has run several times, always as a voice for change. He managed one of Eugene McCarthy’s Senate campaigns in Minnesota. He later ran himself for Senate in Pennsylvania on the Consumer Party ticket.

In 2012, he filed as a Democratic challenger in several presidential primaries against Barack Obama to protest corporate influence the party. He even caused some disruption in places like OklahomaBut now he sees a chance for real change as a Reform candidate.

“We’re offering a pragmatic central solution to the myriad of problems facing Florida,” he says, “and we do have a lot of serious problems.”

Reigniting Reform

In the state of Florida, the Reform Party for the last dozen years did nearly nothing. Originally a vehicle for Ross Perot’s third-party runs for president in the 1990s, the party faced a bit of an identity crisis when figures like Pat Buchanan entered the mix and secured the nomination running from the far right.

Indeed, Buchanan’s candidacy ultimately became inextricably tied to the 2000 recount in Florida and the famous Butterfly Ballot controversy.

The only time a Reform Party candidate ever ran for governor in Florida before was in 2006, when Max Linn won less than 2 percent of the vote.

But now with the two major parties putting up extreme candidates this year, Richardson sees a chance to get a bigger share of the vote this go-around.

Democrat Andrew Gillum, Richardson says, remains largely untested from his time as mayor of Tallahassee and won the gubernatorial nomination of the promise of being a left-wing Bernie Sanders-type candidate. Republican Ron DeSantis won based on fealty to President Donald Trump, an unpopular figure among moderates.

“This is a chance for Nancy Argenziano and myself to appeal to that broad swath in the middle of people that would describe themselves as maybe slightly center right or maybe slightly center left,” Richardson says.

Mix in the fact both major party candidates were upsets and Richardson hopes disappointed Adam Putnam or Gwen Graham voters may open their minds to a third party candidacy.

The Reform ticket opposes increases in corporate taxes like those promoted by Gillum. But the candidates also bristle at the corporate-friendly Scott years, when Argenziano said utility companies ran amok.

Closing The Deal

Richardson believes if voters elect a more closely divided Legislature this year, a Reform Party governor and lieutenant governor may actually be able to strike up more conversation between moderates in the major parties. But that first requires getting elected.

So far, the Reform Party hasn’t gotten a spot on a debate stage. It’s a standard Catch-22 for third parties. A candidate must poll at 12.5-percent in statewide polls to get on a stage, but it’s hard to poll well without a platform like a debate to introduce yourself to voters. And it’s hard to get included in polls in the first place when most outfits prefer testing Gillum and DeSantis head to head.

The two candidates have been quietly canvassing for weeks across Florida. Richardson said he just wrapped up a second trip through South Florida, and will make a third stop the last weekend of the campaign, where he will meet and greet football fans at the Florida Atlantic-FIU game on Nov. 3.

The campaign boasts just $52,823, pocket change in terms of a typical statewide campaign a month out from Election Day.

“It’s an uphill battle,” Argenziano admitted. “But a lot of people are ready for change.” At the very least, she hopes the ticket gets enough votes to convince voters in the future a Reform Party candidate has a chance to win a state like Florida.

One good sign, Richardson said, is that both Democrats and Republicans express angst about the ticket spoiling a path to victory for Gillum or DeSantis. “We’re being attacked by both parties,” Richardson says. “That tells me we’re doing something right.”

Lee Co. GOP chair: Democratic judges rule based on “what you look like”

Lee County Republican Executive Committee Chairman Jonathan Martin says Democratic judges rule based on “what you look like.”

The controversial remarks came before a meet-and-greet with gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis in Cape Coral. After decrying the controversial Brett Kavanaugh confirmation process, Martin said if Democrats appoint judges, “your lives will be affected.”

“What’s in the statute book no longer matters,” said Martin. “That doesn’t matter. What you look like matters. We know how the Democrats play the game. If you look like one of us, you don’t get the benefit of the doubt.”

Jonathan Martin, Lee County REC chairman, speaks at a Cape Coral meet-and-greet.

The comments were made to a crowd gathered at the party’s Victory Office in Cape Coral to meet DeSantis and running mate Jeannette Nuñez.

Florida Democratic Party chair Terrie Rizzo called it the latest example of DeSantis associating himself with purveyors of toxic, divisive and racially charged rhetoric.

“Ron DeSantis’ campaign has once again used racist dog whistles to try and divide the people of this state,” Rizzo said. “This is disgusting rhetoric that should not be tolerated by anyone. Over the past few weeks, DeSantis has made clear that he will never stand up for women and that he is committed to fanning the most ugly and toxic forces in our politics in order to win. As a Floridian, I am ashamed by the campaign he is running and believe it is hurting the people of our state.”

The words came the same day the U.S. Senate narrowly confirmed Kavanaugh to a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court after two weeks of contentious hearings centered around accusations he sexually assaulted Christine Blasey Ford while both were in high school.

Martin told Florida Politics after the event it was in that context he made his remarks.

“It’s becoming more evident, and through the Kavanaugh process strikingly evident, that if you’re a certain gender or you make a certain amount of money, you’re not going to get the benefit of the doubt from liberals in this country or from the judges liberals are appointing in this country,” Martin said.

“That’s what a lot of people are seeing. That’s what their frustration with the whole Kavanaugh process was. It wasn’t whether or not he had the temperament or whether he was going to be a good judge or whether or not he was educated enough or what his experience was.

“It was that he was a man, and someone who is not a man was accusing him of doing something. Automatically, you couldn’t take him at his word and his qualifications no longer mattered.”

Several speakers at the event raised the Kavanaugh hearings, including DeSantis.

Ron DeSantis speaks in Cape Coral to supporters.

“What they did in the Kavanaugh hearings was a disgrace and a sham,” DeSantis said. “Him being confirmed today will show that their smear campaign and their campaign of character assassination does not work in this country.”

Martin in his speech also noted three justices on the Florida Supreme Court will soon retire.

“If we don’t have a Republican Governor in place, the judges that the Democrats put in, they don’t play by the same rules that we play by.”

DeSantis declined to address Martin’s remark and referred questions to the chairman.

“Ron has been very clear that he intends to appoint judges that will uphold the constitution and apply the law fairly to everyone and as he often says, ‘Justice should be Blind,’” said DeSantis spokesman David Vasquez.

Read Martin’s quote in complete context below:

“We have judges that are retiring in Florida in a couple months, and if we don’t have a Republican Governor in place, the judges that the Democrats put in, they don’t play by same rules that we play by. They don’t play by the rules in the constitution. They play by their own rules. The ends justify the means. If we have a Democrat appointing judges, not just on the Supreme Court but in our local district courts of appeal, in our circuit courts, in our county courts, your lives will be affected.

“What’s in the statute book no longer matters. That doesn’t matter. What you look like matters. We know how the Democrats play the game. If you look like one of us, you don’t get the benefit of the doubt.

“If you are a Republican, if you worked too hard and just make more money than they think you should have, you don’t get to play by same rules in our constitution.”

Matt Gaetz labels Andrew Gillum ‘Andrew Kill’em’; Democrats decry attack

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz criticized Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum for overseeing a rise in crime as mayor of Tallahassee.

“I don’t know whether to call him Andrew Gillum or ‘Andrew Kill-‘em,’ ” Gaetz said.

Gaetz suggested the nickname during a campaign swing through Southwest Florida with Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis on Saturday.

Democrats almost immediately decried the attacks as racially charged.

“Congressmen Gaetz should be ashamed of himself,” said Sean Shaw, Democratic Attorney General candidate. “Language of that type has no place in our state. This is more of the same inappropriate language that has become all too common from Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis.”

Florida Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo similarly criticized the attack.

“Ron DeSantis’ closest political ally, Matt Gaetz, today made a racist and despicable attack on Mayor Andrew Gillum,” Rizzo said. “Ron DeSantis seems intent on exploiting the ugliest and most toxic forces in our society in order to win this election. If DeSantis’ campaign doesn’t stop speaking so irresponsibly, they could destroy the very fabric of our state and cause irreparable harm. Floridians’ safety is literally at risk. Ron DeSantis must immediately condemn this racist attack on Andrew Gillum and stop weaponizing race.”

Gaetz and other DeSantis surrogates lambasted Gillum’s tenure as mayor of Florida’s capital city at a campaign event in Cape Coral on Saturday. It showed DeSantis plans to focus more attention on Tallahassee’s crime as Election Day nears.

The FDLE in May announced crime rates in Leon County had dropped but remained the highest in Florida for the fourth year in a row, according to the Tallahassee Democrat. The bulk of crime in the county happens within Tallahassee.

DeSantis noted the issue himself, capping off a stump speech at the Victory Office before a candidate meet-and-greet.

“Andrew Gillum cannot keep communities safe. It’s part of his ideology,” DeSantis said. The Republican noted Gillum’s calls to abolish ICE, and he said Gillum wanted to make Florida a “sanctuary state.” Notably, when Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam leveled a similar accusation, Politifact rated the state as “half-true.”

Jeannette Nunez, DeSantis’ running mate, said as her child considers what college to attend, the crime rate impacts where she wants her son going to school.

“The safety and security of a city like Tallahassee weigh in on that decision,” she said. “Why would I want to send my child to the murder capital of Florida?”

Gaetz said weak immigration policy from Gillum would worsen things for all of Florida.

“Andrew Gillum thinks we should abolish ICE and have open borders and have MS-13 on our streets,” Gaetz said.

Candidates als0 dinged Gillum’s own brush with the FBI, an ongoing investigation of corruption in the city. Gillum maintains he is not the subject of the investigation, but DeSantis has noted donors to Gillum have been subpoenaed.

DeSantis called himself the only candidate “who could credibly say he was not under investigation by the FBI.”

And Gaetz tossed another nickname the Democrat’s way.

“Maybe we ought to call him Andrew ‘Guilty,'” Gaetz said.

Democrats, though, said the divisive attacks showed desperation.

“This latest comment proves that Ron DeSantis doesn’t have a plan to move Florida forward,” said Dianne Hart, a Democratic state representative candidate in District 61. “Floridians are tired of DeSantis’ divisive politics and that’s why they’re rallying around Andrew Gillum for Governor — a candidate with a record of putting Florida families first. I look forward to his victory on November 6.”

And state House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz said Gaetz’s comments completely crossed the line.

“The remarks made today by Representative Matt Gaetz are an abomination and have no place in our politics,” Cruz said. “Ron DeSantis should immediately condemn this attack on Andrew Gillum and stop the slash-and-burn tactics that have defined his campaign.

“For the past month, Ron DeSantis and his allies have appeared intent to do whatever they could to divide the people of our state. Our next Governor should be someone who brings Floridians together and runs on a positive vision to lift all of us up. It’s time for DeSantis and his allies to end the name-calling and divisiveness and start treating Florida voters with respect.”

Ted Deutch stands up for LGBTQ diplomat spouses after visa policy reversal

After a reversal on U.S. visa policy for same-sex partners of diplomats, Rep. Ted Deutch led congressional pushback on the discriminatory shift.

“This Administration has an offensive record when it comes to equal rights for the American LGBTQ community, and now it appears they’re set to endanger the lives of LGBTQ foreign diplomats and U.N. employees working in the United States,” said Deutch, a Boca Raton Democrat.

Deutch and five other Democratic congressmen co-led a letter asking Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to reconsider the policy change.

The State Department last week announced spousal visas would only be available to legally married partners of U.S.-based employees of international organizations and foreign missions such as the United Nations, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund.

But The Advocate notes many diplomats come from countries that don’t legally recognize same-sex unions.

The reversal means spouses of diplomats already holding G-4 visas must provide evidence of a marriage by the end of the year or face deportation. No new visas will be handed out except to legally married spouses.

“This policy discriminates against gay and lesbian international civil servants, many of whom are citizens of countries that outlaw same-sex marriage,” reads the congressional letter, which bears the signature of 119 congressmen.

The move by Pompeo reversed a 2009 policy put in place by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

“It’s particularly offensive that they would dare announce this policy in the name of equality,” says Deutch. “Progress has been made in this country despite, not because of, this Administration. Secretary Pompeo should swiftly reverse this decision and lift the burden on partners of foreign diplomats coming from countries where same-sex marriage is illegal.”

Other signatories for the letter including Florida representatives Darren Soto, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Alcee Hastings, Charlie Crist, Kathy Castor, Lois Frankel, and Frederica Wilson.

Only Democrats signed the letter. Three Florida Democratic members of Congress — Al Lawson, Stephanie Murphy, and Val Demings — did not.

New PPP survey shows Janet Cruz with 3-point lead over Dana Young

A new poll shows Democrat Janet Cruz defeating Republican incumbent state Sen. Dana Young in a Tampa Bay district that historically leans right.

A Public Policy Polling survey of voters in state Senate District 18 shows Cruz winning 42 percent of the vote compared to 39 percent who favor Young.

Partisanship in the district plays heavily in Cruz’s favor, according to PPP.

The poll found half of voters would vote Democrat in state senate races without specifying the candidates, while only 39 percent of voters said they would vote for the Republican. The poll found respondents had a 54 percent disapproval rating for President Donald Trump’s job performance with a 43 percent approval rating for the Republican leader.

But the negative tone of the race takes a toll on both candidates, who hold low favorability ratings in the survey. Cruz holds a 29 percent unfavorable from respondents with a 26 percent favorability rating. Young’s favorability is 28 percent with a 32 percent unfavorable rating.

Voters show enthusiasm to weigh in at the polls. According to the poll, 68 percent of respondents indicate being “very excited” to vote in this November’s mid-term election. Only 14 percent said they weren’t that excited while 14 percent said they weren’t sure.

Young in 2016 won this district with 48 percent of the vote to Democrat Bob Buesing’s 41 percent, with independent Joe Redner, a prominent strip club owner in Tampa, pulling in almost 10 percent of the vote.

But district in many ways already showed problems for Republicans then. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton won the district with 51 percent of the vote to Trump’s 45 percent, even as Trump went on to win Florida statewide.

Clinton voters made up 49 percent of those surveyed in the PPP poll, with Trump voters making up 43 percent.

Trump remains underwater in terms of voter approval within the district. Some 54 percent of those surveyed disapprove of the president’s job performance, and just 43 percent approve.

The sample included women as 53 percent of respondents and men 47 percent.

That said, PPP is a Democratic polling outlet, and there’s some reason for skepticism. Democrats make up 41 percent of the poll sample and Republicans make up just 38 percent, but Republicans had a 1-percentage point edge in turnout in 2016 within the district and 6-percent advantage in 2014, a solid Republican year.

poll results – sd18

Gubernatorial candidates canvass Florida with a month to go

Only one month remains before Florida can put the mid-terms in the past. Until then, candidates for office will use every day seeking support. Here’s where statewide pols head this weekend.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis will hold a series of events around the state alongside wife Casey and running mate Jeannette Nunez. That includes a 9 a.m. rally at Food & Thought in Naples, an 11 a.m. meet-and-greet at his Victory office in Cape Coral, another at 1:30 p.m. at his Sarasota office and finally a rally at the Palm Beach Convention Center in West Palm Beach at 3:30 p.m.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum, meanwhile, will start his day in Tallahassee at the FAMU Homecoming 2018. First, he participates in activities like the homecoming parade, tailgate festivities and the coin toss at the start of the game. Expect Democratic Attorney General candidate Sean Shaw to roll by during the parade as well.

Then Gillum jets to the other end of the state for the Palm Beach County Democrats’ annual Truman Kennedy Johnson Gala Dinner, where he and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg share keynote honors.

Democratic Chief Financial Officer candidate Jeremy Ring will be in Hialeah Springs today for the Florida Democratic Party’s Hispanic Voter Summit, where candidates including state Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, state Reps. Nicholas Duran and Robert Asencio, congressional candidate Mary Barzee Flores, state Senate candidate David Perez and state House candidate Cindy Polo will also attend.

At 11 a.m., Ring will also attend a Democratic field office opening in Coral Gables alongside congressional candidate Donna Shalala, state Rep. Javier Fernandez, Duran and Rodriguez.

More events will be added to this post as candidates announce public events for the weekend.

Andrew Gillum

Andrew Gillum plans “Weekend of Action” a month out from election

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum will mark the 30-days-out mark from Election Day with a “Weekend of Action.”

On Saturday, the candidate can be found at the Florida A&M University homecoming, where he marches in the parade and tosses the coin at the start of the game for his alma mater.

But by the evening, he’ll be in Palm Beach County delivering a major speech at Democrats’ annual gala.

The campaign itself may be hosting the most important events in terms of organizing a winning operation.

Some 20 field offices will open statewide in every corner of the state, including in Pensacola, Tampa, Fort Myers Miami Gardens and Vero Beach. These events will include dispatches of thousands of volunteers into neighborhoods. Those who aren’t knocking of doors will call voters from phone banks or send texts to mobile phone users.

“The energy and enthusiasm are there, and we will make we harness that momentum behind Mayor Gillum’s vision,” said Gillum for Governor campaign manager Brandon Davis.

“To bring it home in November, we will be working every single day between now and Election Day, spreading the Mayor’s vision of Florida—access to affordable and quality healthcare, investment in Florida’s schools, and protecting the environment.”

Seven targeted voter coalitions will also host their own campaign events this weekend, including: Women for Andrew Gillum, Hispanics for Gillum, Florida Veterans for Gillum, LGBTQ for Gillum, Environmentalists for Gillum, Students for Gillum and Boricuas por Gillum.

The campaigns plan to hammer in messages of affordable health care, access to public education and economic opportunity.

Gillum also has pushed back against attacks on the crime rates in Tallahassee.

In a press release, Gillum’s campaign said over 10 years of Gillum’s tenure in Tallahassee, violent crime fell over 10 percent and the city developed into one of the fastest growing economies per capita in Florida.

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