Scott Powers, Author at Florida Politics - Page 2 of 256

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at

Philip Levine sends warning letters to TV stations to stop Jeff Greene ads

Contending that Jeff Greene‘s attack ads against him are false and misleading including using stock footage from Russia and elsewhere to fake environmental messes in Florida, Philip Levine has sent cease and desist letters to all Florida television stations broadcasting the commercials.

The two Democratic gubernatorial primary rivals are battling over Greene’s TV commercials launched late last week, named “Levine Latrines,” which charge that Levine, as Mayor of Miami Beach, pursued policies and programs that helped pollute Biscayne Bay.

“Jeff Greene is airing a political advertisement that makes false assertions using misleading stock video from Russia, China, Serbia, and the Czech Republic to depict Biscayne Bay,” Levine’s Senior Adviser Christian Ulvert stated in a news release issued Monday morning. “We fully expect the advertisement to be pulled, along with subsequent attempts by the Greene campaign to lie about Mayor Levine’s record.

“Jeff Greene is repeating history with his false attacks that do nothing more than divide our party. Florida Democrats deserve better.”

The skirmish is the latest in a Democratic gubernatorial campaign that has turned increasingly muddy in the past couple of weeks, with charges and counter-charges between Greene, Levine, Gwen Graham, Chris King, and Andrew Gillum. The primary is Aug. 28.

Greene’s campaign responded by saying that Levine’s lawyer will be hearing from Greene’s lawyer.

“The visuals are aides – the headlines are facts. We stand by the ad. Levine is a bully,” Greene’s campaign stated in a written response. “He tried to silence scientists and members of the press who told the public the truth about dangerous and disgusting fecal bacteria being dumped in the bay — but Jeff Greene won’t be bullied. Our attorney will be responding directly to his.”

The Levine campaign letters to the TV stations, from the campaign’s attorney Kendall Coffey, contend that those images, as well as the commercial’s allegations that the Miami Beach’s sewage system is discharging into the bay — disputed by Miami Beach’s city manager, as cited by Levine’s campaign —  are false and defamatory.

The letter suggests potential legal action but is just a first step toward establishing that possibility.

“We therefore respectfully insist that, by 5 p.m. today, your station cease and desist the broadcasting of this advertisement or any advertisements that state or imply that the City of Miami Beach discharged human waste into Biscayne Bay from its sewer system. At a minimum, these ads should be taken down pending a legal review,” Coffey writes. “Please govern yourself accordingly.”

NASA blasts Parker Solar Probe to the sun

Under clear skies that must have made it visible throughout much of Florida, a Delta IV Heavy rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral early Sunday morning sending the Parker Solar Probe to the sun to explore the mysteries of how stars work.

“All I can say is, ‘Wow, here we go,'” said 91-year-old scientist Eugene Parker after he watched the space probe bearing his name head out toward exploring solar mysteries he first revealed 60 years ago. “We’re in the … learning mode over the next several years.”

The United Launch Alliance rocket blasted off on time at 3:31 a.m. and climbed flawlessly through the Earth’s atmosphere. Its three stages of rocket boosters all fired and fell away, and the spacecraft left orbit, heading for its three and a half month journey to the sun, 93 million miles away.

Sunday’s launch, from Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, came on the second try. NASA got the launch countdown to under two minutes early Saturday morning before a minor glitch with a gaseous helium level forced the agency to scrub the attempt.

There were no such glitches reported Sunday morning.

As the rocket rose, NASA announcer Patrick Moore declared, “Liftoff of the mighty Delta IV Heavy rocket with NASA’s Parker Solar Probe: a daring mission to shed light on the mysteries of our closest star, the sun.”

From a spot in Orlando more than 50 miles away, the three-booster rocket’s flare was clearly visible as a bubble of bright orange light rising from the horizon into the skies. Six minutes later the low, crackly rumble of the boosters could be heard in Orlando.

In late November the Parker Solar Probe will make its first encounter with the sun. The satellite will brush through the sun’s outer atmosphere — the ultra-hot, intensely violent, and deeply mysterious corona — at hundreds of thousands of miles an hour. It will be collecting data that scientists expect will help unlock mysteries ranging from the origins of solar flares to the energies behind solar winds that blow out across the entire solar system.

That will be one of 24 encounters the probe will make with the sun over the next few years, each time, circling through the corona, then heading out to Venus. The spacecraft then will loop around Venus and head back to the sun for another orbit through the corona.

Photo courtesy of United Launch Alliance.


Parker Solar Probe launch scrubbed; next chance is Sunday morning

Saturday morning’s planned launch of a rocket from Cape Canaveral to send the Parker Solar Probe to the sun was scrubbed with less than two minutes left in the countdown due to a technical issue.

NASA reported a late issue came up with a gaseous helium alarm, identified when the countdown reached one minute and 55 seconds to blast off.

The decision to scrub the launch came around 4:30 a.m. when there was no longer enough time left in the 65-minute launch window that opened at 3:33 a.m. Saturday morning to deal with any new issues.

That means United Launch Alliance crews will have to recycle the fueling of the ULA Delta IV Heavy’s boosters and stages to prepare to try again, in addition to addressing the problem. The next launch attempt has been set for 3:31 a.m. Sunday.

The rocket is set up at Launch Complex 37 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. It’s set to propel the Parker Solar Probe on a historic mission into the corona of the sun to study the violent and ultra-hot dynamics of the sun’s atmosphere, so scientists can better understand how the solar winds affect Earth.

There had been several minor technical issues identified Saturday morning, causing delays of a few minutes of a time, until the launch window expired at 4:38 a.m when the last glitch arose.

Andrew Gillum campaign on new pitch: ‘most progressive ad in Florida history’

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum is unloading the entire progressive Democrats’ playbook into a new 30-second ad that blows through issues from Medicare for all to seeking impeachment of President Donald Trump, as the Tallahassee Mayor seeks a stretch-run kick toward the primary.

The ad, which is launching on the internet but which the campaign says will likely also wind up on television, is Gillum’s firm stake in the ground to his claim to being the most progressive Democrat on the Aug. 28 primary ballot for Governor. It launches Friday with less than three weeks for him to drive that point home in a race in which he’s in need of an explosive kick finish to win.

His campaign declared the commercial “Chance” to be “the most progressive ad in Florida history,” and the content covers almost every conceivable progressive hot-button position in Florida.

“Mayor Gillum is running the most progressive campaign in Florida history — campaigning on Medicare for all, repealing “Stand Your Ground,” banning assault weapons, legalizing marijuana, a $15 minimum wage, and impeaching Donald Trump. He is the only candidate who has the biography, platform, and audacity to excite the Democratic base to finally end more than two decades of Republican control of state government,” his campaign Communication Director Geoff Burgan insisted in a news release.

He could use the commercial on TV, as his campaign has managed to afford only one spot so far, and it’s largely an introductory message.

Gillum is scrambling from behind for the top tier in a race that has Gwen Graham, Philip Levine, and Jeff Greene well ahead in most polls, and only Chris King trailing him, in the Democrats’ field.

In this new commercial, the actual video and voice-over by Gillum are a lot less stark than the commercial’s overall effect. With shots of Gillum confidently striding a corridor, sitting lovingly with his family, smiling as he meets people, and speaking at rallies, Gillum offers inspirational, but not inflammatory words:

“My mother said, the only thing in life you should ever ask for is a chance. So I want you to know that if you give me the chance to not only be your nominee but to be the next Governor of the great state of Florida, that I’m going to make you proud every single day of the week. So I want y’all to join me on this mission, alright? And together we are going to take this state back, flip Florida blue in 2018, and flip this country blue in 2020.”

But while that’s playing out, and his voice rises toward an urgent tone, background music gets more dramatic, and a series of text screens pop in and out with increasing speed until they look like the backs of playing cards in a deck being shuffled, many of the messages being repeated:


Joy Goff-Marcil endorsed by Alex Sink

Democratic Florida House of Representatives candidate Joy Goff-Marcil has received the endorsement of former Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink in the House District 30 race.

“Joy has served her hometown of Maitland thoughtfully as their Vice Mayor and on the council where she had to tackle difficult decisions. She did so by asking the right questions and by making her vote about her entire community, not just a few voices. We need that call to action at the state level,” the Democrats’ 2010 gubernatorial nomineee stated in a news release issued by Goff-Marcil’s campaign.

“Joy is someone who will represent the interests of all of us, not just special interests. I applaud her passion for public education, clean waterways, sensible gun legislation and small businesses. I know with her ability to work with all sides we will take back our state and put all Floridians first again,” Sink added.

Goff-Marcil, a member of the Maitland City Council, is in an Aug. 28 Democratic primary battle with Clark Anderson of Winter Park and Brendan Ramirez of Orlando for the nomination to run in HD 30 against Republican incumbent state Rep. Bob Cortes of Altamonte Springs. The district straddles the countyline to include parts of south-central Seminole County and north-central Orange County.

“Joy is thrilled to have received Alex Sink’s endorsement,” her campaign stated.

NASA solar probe heads for the sun early Saturday morning

Carrying a science project that has NASA officials and scientists more excited than they have been in a long time, a huge rocket is set to blast off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in the early-morning hours Saturday to send a satellite into the sun.

The Parker Solar Probe is not going to burn up, but instead brush through the sun’s outer atmosphere — the ultra-hot, intensely violent, and deeply mysterious corona  — at hundreds of thousands of miles an hour. It will be collecting data that scientists expect will help unlock mysteries ranging from the origins of solar flares to the energies behind solar winds that blow out across the entire solar system.

“This is a mission that has been in the making for 60 years,” said Parker Solar Probe Project Scientist Nicola Fox of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboraory. “We had to wait so long for our technology to catch up with our dreams.”

And while the mission itself may thrill physicists at places like the Johns Hopkins, a thrill also will be available to many Floridians willing to be up to watch for the 3:33 a.m. launch  Saturday from Launch Complex 37 on Cape Canaveral. The probe is blasting off atop a United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy, a huge, powerful, three-booster, three-stage rocket sure to light up a clear sky for hundreds of miles.

There is a 65-minute launch window Saturday morning, so if weather or some other factor causes a minor delay, the rocket’s launch could happen as late as 4:38 a.m. If there’s a launch scrub, the next window opens at 3:29 a.m. Sunday.

Weather forecasts are good for Saturday morning, with the U.S. Air Force’s 45th Weather Squadron based at Patrick Air Force Base saying there’s an 80 percent chance of favorable launch conditions.

There have been just 10 launches of Delta IV Heavy rockets since it debuted in 2004, the last going up from Cape Canaveral in 2014. United Launch Alliance has never had one fail, nor had a failure with any of its rockets in 129 consecutive launches. With the third stage added for this flight, the rocket stands 233 feet tall.

“I’m super excited. This is the first time that NASA is launching a Delta IV Heavy with a third stage and a science package on board,” said Omar Baez Jr., NASA launch director for the Parker Solar Probe mission. “We’ve launched other Delta IV Heavies, but not with science.”

This all began, as Fox pointed out, in the 1950s, when a young, obscure astrophysicist named Eugene Parker wrote a paper setting forth scientifically revolutionary theories about what goes on in the corona, and of solar winds and other phenomena originating there. His paper wasn’t well-received at first; in fact, it was largely trashed by peer reviewers as impossible. It went unpublished until a brave journal editor told Parker that while he personally didn’t accept Parker’s theories, he couldn’t find any flaws in Parker’s data and analysis, and so would publish his work. When that happened in 1958, Parker’s theories changed almost everything about how scientists view what goes on in the sun.

Parker, now a retired University of Chicago professor, is alive and well at age 91. This week he is at Kennedy Space Center to watch the launch of the space probe expected to send back data not just backing his theories but also helping scientists figure out many things about the sun’s dynamics that remain mysteries today.

When he arrived Thursday, Parker received a hero’s ovation from NASA officials and others awaiting him at a news conference.

This is the first time NASA has ever named a spacecraft after a living person.

“I was very flattered to hear about it. It took some time to get used to it. Now that some of the heat has come off I can get back to living a normal life,” the humble-sounding scientist told reporters at space center.

It’s not as if the phenomena that Parker first explained, and which the Parker Solar Probe will be exploring, don’t have critical, real-world impacts for earthlings. Those solar winds and the massive solar flares that blow out of the corona, sending forth powerful electro-magnetic waves, can have devastating effects on electronics on Earth, starting with knocking out satellite communications and power grid operations globally. With clearer understandings of what’s going on, scientists hope to be better able to predict the events and impacts, so that the world can better prepare for them.

The total cost of the Parker Solar Probe, including formulation, development, the rocket, the launch, and a seven-year prime mission operation, is expected to be, at most, about $1.548 billion, according to NASA.

The Parker spacecraft and the equipment aboard, weighing about 1,400 pounds, will be testing many of the latest state-of-the-art limits in technology.

The spacecraft will be flying through space at 430,000 mph, crushing the old record speed of about 175,000 mph for an early Mariner satellite.

At that rate the Parker Space Probe will first reach the corona along the edge of the sun in late November and spend about 12 Earth days skimming through that solar atmosphere before passing through and heading out to Venus. The craft will then loop back around Venus and head back to the sun for another solar encounter. It’s expected to make that round trip between Venus and the sun about three or four times a year, for a total of about 24 trips through the corona before the spacecraft uses up all its fuel.

“The way I like to think about it is that, hopefully, in a long, long period of time, 10 or 20 years, it will become a carbon disk floating around the sun. The carbon disk will be around until the end of the solar system,” said Andy Driesman, the project manager from Johns Hopkins.

The FIELDS instrument onboard will capture the scale and shape of electric and magnetic fields in the sun’s atmosphere. The SCM device will measure how the magnetic field changes over time. Two instruments, the SWEAP and the Solar Probe Cup, count the most abundant particles in the solar wind — electrons, protons and helium ions — and measure such properties as velocity, density, and temperature to improve understanding of the solar wind and coronal plasma. The ISʘIS instrument will measure electrons, protons and ions across a wide range of energies to provide insight into the particles’ lifecycles — where they came from, how they became accelerated and how they move out from the sun through interplanetary space. The EPI-Lo device measures the spectra of electrons and ions and identifies carbon, oxygen, neon, magnesium, silicon, iron and two isotopes of helium.

Inside the corona, the Parker Solar Probe will encounter the hottest temperatures of the sun, around 3.3 million degrees Fahrenheit. The corona is 300 times hotter than the surface of the sun, one of the mysteries the Parker Solar Probe will be exploring.

The probe’s leading edge is an umbrella-like heat shield made of a carbon-carbon composite able to withstand that temperature. The shield took more than a decade to develop and 18 months to manufacture, Driesman said. Because the plasma atmosphere of the corona is so thin, there is very little heat transfer, so it won’t be as if the heat shield will get so hot that it will in turn heat up the instruments it is protecting.

Most of those instruments aboard will remain pretty cool — at temperatures that are normal on Earth.

Nonetheless, some devices will catch some heat. They are made of sophisticated alloys, such as titanium-zirconium-molybdenum, which can withstand temperatures of thousands of degrees. The solar arrays that will generate power have active cooling systems inside them.

Scott Sturgill, Ron DeSantis, Ashley Moody top Sanford chamber’s poll

Republican congressional candidate Scott Sturgill, Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis, and Republican Attorney General candidate Ashley Moody all came out on top in a straw poll conducted Thursday night at a Sanford Chamber of Commerce political hobnob.

The victory for Sturgill, a Sanford businessman, continues his streak of straw poll wins in Seminole County in what has been a bruising overall battle for the Aug. 28 Republican primary for Florida’s 7th Congressional District against Winter Park-based state Rep. Mike Miller, who has been winning most such polls in the Orange County side of the district.

The Aug. 28 primary for that CD 7 race will have about 58,000 eligible Republican voters in Orange and 110,000 in Seminole.

There were more than 340 votes cast in the most popular races surveyed Thursday night at the chamber’s “Last Hoorah Sanford HobNob.” In that, Miller finished a distant third in the CD 7 question.

Sturgill was selected as the favorite by 43 percent of the attendees, incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy by 33 percent; and Miller, 20 percent. Murphy’s challenger from the left in the Democratic primary, Chardo Richardson, grabbed 4 percent, while a third Republican, Vennia Francois didn’t even claim 1 percent, as she got three votes out of 342 cast in that question.

“Winning in Sanford was a great way to end hobnob season,” Sturgill declared in a news release issued by his campaign. “I’ve built my business here and this is where I call home. This is where the entire campaign started with my announcement last July.”

The straw poll marked a rare victory for U.S. Rep. DeSantis in Central Florida hobnob straw polls, though he has been dominating statewide Republican voter polls for the past month. DeSantis grabbed 28 percent of the Sanford chamber markers, to 23 percent for his Republican primary rival Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

In that survey, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum was the highest-standing Democrat in the Governor’s field, taking 17 percent; while former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham got 13 percent; former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and Palm Beach businessman Jeff Greene each picked up 4 percent; and Winter Park businessman Chris King got 2 percent.

Moody, the former judge from Tampa, continued her dominance of Central Florida hobnob straw polls, leading the Attorney General question by drawing 42 percent of the markers. Her Republican primary opponent state Rep. Frank White of Pensacola finished third. Democratic Attorney General frontrunner Sean Shaw took 25 percent, and White 20 percent. The other major Democrat, Ryan Torrens, was favored by 11 percent.

In every race on the ballot that has partisan competition, Republicans took the top spot in the Sanford Chamber’s straw poll, typical of chambers of commerce polls.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott was the pick in Florida’s U.S. Senate race of 54 percent of the participants, with Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson winning over 40 percent.

Republican Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis got 62 percent of the votes for his bid to stay in office, while Democratic challenger former state Sen. Jeremy Ring got 38 percent.

Republican State Rep. Matt Caldwell topped the straw poll in the race for Florida Agriculture Commissioner, favored by 32 percent; followed by Democrat Nikki Fried, 20 percent; and state Sen. Denise Grimsley, 15.

Republican David Smith was the top choice to succeed outgoing Republican state Rep. Jason Brodeur in House District 28, topping Democrat Lee Mangold 64-36.

Republican state Rep. Scott Plakon got 55 percent in his re-election bid, while his Democratic challengers Tracey Kagan and Darryl Block got 28 and 17 percent, respectively.

Republican state Rep. Bob Cortes got 61 percent for his re-election bid, while his Democratic challengers Joy Goff-Marcil, Brendan Ramirez, and Clark Anderson took 14, 14, and 11 respectively.

Report: Debbie Mayfield, Bob Cortes, Ken Lawson on Ron DeSantis’ list of running mates

A report published in POLITICO Florida Friday morning says U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, the front-runner in Florida’s Republican gubernatorial race, has narrowed a list to nine possible Lieutenant Governor running mates including former VISIT FLORIDA President Ken Lawson and several lawmakers, including state Sen. Debbie Mayfield.

The report states that POLITICO received the list from anonymous sources, which the news service identifies as “two top Republicans connected to the campaign.”

In addition to Lawson and Mayfield, the report lists state Reps. Bob Cortes, Heather Fitzenhagen, Jeanette Nuñez, and Scott Plakon; Kissimmee City Commissioner Wanda Rentas; Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Laurel Lee, and Duval County Sheriff Mike Williams as being on DeSantis’ list.

POLITICO reports that DeSantis might name his running mate before the Aug. 28 primary, which he is heading toward with a double-digit polls lead over rival Republican Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

Victor Torres, Carlos Smith, Amy Mercado rip Rick Scott on education

Three Democratic Orange County lawmakers joined with the Orange County Classroom Teachers Association Thursday to bash Republican Gov. Rick Scott‘s record on public education.

Outside the offices of the Orange County Public Schools headequarters in Orlando, State Sen. Victor Torres and state Reps. Carlos Guillermo Smith and Amy Mercado all went after the governor for education budget cuts he pushed through in the early years of his first term and consistent efforts throughout both terms to route more tax money into private charter schools.

There’s no immediate legislative effort the lawmakers might be addressing. However, Scott is in a tight battle with Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in the election challenge for Florida’s U.S. Senate seat this fall, and the trio of Orlando lawmakers stepped in as surrogates for Nelson’s campaign, and to throw fuel into the upcoming gubernatorial primary, where Torres and Mercado have endorsed Democrat Gwen Graham and Smith, Democrat Andrew Gillum.

A spokeswoman for Scott’s U.S. Senate campaign called the Democrats’ claims against Scott “ridiculous.”

The Democrats laid it on heavy.

But Torres said they also want to keep up constant pressure on public opinion, even several months away from the start of committee work for the next Legislative Session. “We have to keep sending the message to everybody,” he said.

“Rick Scott has imposed immense hardships on our public schools for the past eight years,” Torres declared. “Republican budget deals under Rick Scott were giveaways to charter schools at the expense of the public school system. Thanks to Rick Scott and Republican legislators, public schools have had to contend with underfunding year after year. We need a change, and Rick Scott is not the answer.”

Of the three Democratic lawmakers, only Smith faces a challenger in this year’s elections, with a late-entry, well-financed campaign by Republican Ben Griffin. Mercado had a Republican challenger, but she dropped out last week, and Orange County Republicans are seeking a replacement.

Griffin commented on the press conference in a written statement by declaring “it’s a shame that my opponent uses his time for a photo op with the local union that advocate for policies that keep low income children in failing schools during an election.”

“Rick Scott has been horrible for our public school system. In his first year as governor, Scott rolled out a proposal that would’ve cut our schools by billions of dollars. Even Republicans in the legislature thought Rick Scott’s public education cuts were too cruel to our public schools,” Smith said.

“Florida under Scott has systematically moved us towards a universal voucher system, and now, we are spending huge amounts of taxpayer money to move resources into private schools. Why, because Rick Scott wants give even more money to people like Betsy DeVos who continue to profit off our education system,” he said, referencing the controversial U.S. Education Secretary who has ties to Orlando. “And our teachers and public school students are paying the price.”

“As a proud mom of six children, I am disgusted by Rick Scott’s neglect towards our public schools,” Mercado said. “Rick Scott and the Republican-led legislature continue to attack and abuse our state education system. They inappropriately fund public schools while openly funneling money to private corporations under the guise of school choice. We must stop this insanity.”

They were joined by Orange County Classroom Teachers Association President Wendy Doromal.

“Rick Scott deserves an F on education issues,” she said. “Since he was elected, Rick Scott has headed a campaign to dismantle Florida’s public education system brick by brick. He has done incredible harm to students, teachers, and public education as a whole. Florida has one of the highest rates of teacher turnover in the nation. We cannot recruit or retain enough qualified teachers under these conditions. Under Scott, Florida’s public schools are underfunded, over regulated, and set up for failure.”

“These claims are ridiculous. Clearly, Democrats have no choice but to continue to use misleading and negative attacks in order to hide the fact that career politician Bill Nelson has no accomplishments to run on,” said Scott’s campaign spokeswoman Lauren Schenone.

“Over the past seven and a half years, Gov. Scott has fought to ensure every child has the opportunity to succeed and receive a world-class education. That’s why he worked to invest record amounts in K-12 education, secure the first statewide teacher pay raise in state history, and expand school choice so students and parents have more options to choose what works best for them,” she added.

Griffin’s statement about Smith continued: If he actually did his homework, he’d highlight Florida’s graduation rate hitting a 14 year high under the Republican majority legislature, including 84.7% in Orange County. Unlike my opponent, I am spending my time going door to door talking to voters who believe that parents, not politicians, should be able to decide which school best meets their child’s needs, regardless of their address or income.”

Gwen Graham grabs Palm Beach County Mayor’s endorsement

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham has secured the endorsement of Palm Beach County Mayor Melissa McKinlay in the closing weeks before the Aug. 28 primary, her campaign announced Thursday.

McKinlay’s endorsement is a grab from the home of Graham’s rival Democratic candidate Palm Beach businessman Jeff Greene, with whom Graham has been trading nasty shots in the past couple of weeks over each other’s environmental protection commitments.

It’s also another woman political leader joining a Graham campaign that has not shied from gender references in anticipation of a large female voter turnout, something Greene also has sought to appeal to with his “For Women” commercial that has blanketed Florida airwaves the past two weeks.

“As a mom, I am excited to have a fellow mom in the Governor’s office,” McKinlay stated in a news release issued Thursday morning by Graham’s campaign. “Gwen’s life experiences have made her a strong leader and a master negotiator. She is committed to bridging the divide in our politics and our government. It is time we have a leader in the Governor’s office who truly understands what Florida families need and will work for us every single day. That leader is Gwen Graham.”

Graham and Greene also face former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and Winter Park businessman Chris King in the Aug. 28 Democratic gubernatorial primary.

McKinlay, elected to the Palm Beach Board of County Commissioners in 2014, has been an outspoken leader in the fight to combat opioid abuse, provide more affordable housing, and protect the environment, Graham’s campaign stated.

“Gwen understands the challenges facing South Florida. She will fight every day to restore our public schools and protect Palm Beach County’s natural treasures,” McKinlay added.

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