Scott Powers, Author at Florida Politics - Page 5 of 269

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 Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused.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 scott@floridapolitics.com.

Democrats for Cabinet calling for Groveland Four pardons, Republicans mum

In 2017 the Florida Legislature acknowledged and apologized for one of Florida’s ugliest recorded events of 20th-century racism. Yet barring a late surprise it would be left to the next state government to address the Groveland Four, and all four Democratic Florida Cabinet nominees pledged they would move swiftly, if elected, to issue long-sought pardons.

On Tuesday the Florida Board of Clemency will meet. As with the previous five times the board has met since the Florida Legislature urged Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet to issue posthumous pardons for “grave injustices perpetrated against Charles Greenlee, Walter Irvin, Samuel Shepherd, and Ernest Thomas,” such pardons are not on the agenda.

The offices of Scott and the other Cabinet members, Attorney General Pam Bondi, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, have never publicly said whether they have any intention of considering the pardons demanded by the Legislature and families of the four men whose lives were destroyed in 1949 after what now are recognized as false rape accusations and a series of racism-fueled injustices.

That silence continued through the end of last week, despite fresh inquiries from Florida Politics and others. On Friday, Scott’s office provided essentially the same response it did twice earlier, last October and in April, saying only that he is keeping his options open. The statement did not say what those options might be, or if the options include not acting at all.

The bipartisan-pushed and -celebrated resolution CS/HCR 631 was unanimously approved by both chambers of the Florida Legislature in April 2017, urging them to perform “expedited clemency review of the cases and grant full pardons.”

Now, all four Democratic Florida Cabinet nominees including gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum are making it clear that they would act swiftly, if elected, on behalf of the Groveland Four. The Republican nominees each declined opportunities to comment on the pardons.

The Democrats also are declaring shame on Scott, Bondi, Putnam and Patronis for doing and saying nothing so far.

There is only one more scheduled meeting of the Clemency Board under Scott and the current Florida Cabinet, set for Dec. 5.

“It makes me incensed that the Cabinet would just ignore the will of a bipartisan Legislature,” said Democratic chief financial officer nominee Jeremy Ring, a former state senator. “This was [Republican House Speaker] Richard Corcoran and [Democratic state Sen.] Gary Farmer coming together, right? This was a unanimous decision. … But more than just absurd that they would ignore the Legislature, it’s unconscionable and mean that they would ignore the families.”

“The total silence from the Governor and Florida Cabinet on expediting the pardons of the Groveland Four speaks volumes about why we so desperately need new leadership in Tallahassee,” Democratic agriculture commissioner nominee Nikki Fried said in a written statement. “As ag commissioner, and a member of the cabinet, I would not hesitate to move the clemency review process, and these long-deserved pardons, forward quickly. The Groveland Four, and their families, deserve to finally realize the justice they were never able to in their lifetimes. And Florida deserves a Cabinet that will actually act in the spirit of fairness and compassion when it comes to the clemency review process.”

“Justice for Ernest Thomas, Charles Greenlee, Samuel Shepherd and Walter Irvin is seven decades overdue,” Democratic attorney general nominee Sean Shaw said in written statement. “I will do everything within my power to bring closure for these families if this is not resolved by my first Clemency Board meeting as attorney general.”

Gillum declined to comment, though his campaign staff and his running mate made it clear he, too, is ready to issue pardons.

“The mistreatment suffered by these young men should trouble every law-abiding citizen and posthumous pardons from Gov. Scott are long overdue,” Democratic lieutenant governor nominee Chris King said in a written statement.

Records released by the FBI and evidence and testimony gathered by Civil Rights crusaiders including Thurgood Marshall, the future Supreme Court justice, laid a powerful case that the four were falsely accused of raping a white woman in a rural area of Lake County outside Groveland in 1949. The story of racism and justice gone awry, and the individual stories of nightmares-come-true of the Groveland Four, were first comprehensively detailed in Gary Corsair‘s 2012 book “Legal Lynching: The Sad Saga of the Groveland Four” and then internationally exposed in Gilbert King‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning, 2013 best seller “Devil in the Grove.”

Shepherd and Thomas were killed in custody. Greenlee and Irvin were convicted and imprisoned. They since have died.

“We hereby acknowledge that Charles Greenlee, Walter Irvin, Samuel Shepherd, and Ernest Thomas, the Groveland Four, were the victims of gross injustices and that their abhorrent treatment by the criminal justice system is a shameful chapter in this state’s history,” the Florida Legislature declared in the resolution.

The resolution also extended the Florida Legislature’s “heartfelt apology to the families … for the enduring sorrow caused by the criminal justice system’s failure.”

The desperate familes, watching aging loved ones who are contemporaries of the Groveland Four move into the twilights of their lives, have gone from joyful to angry as time has slipped by since that resolution was published, Ap;ril 28, 2017, without any word of formal considerations of such pardons from the Florida Cabinet.

They’re now assisted by a loosely-defined group that is getting pro-bono help from the firm Edelman Orlando for a more organized push for the pardons. The nameless group includes several family members and several others who’ve been involved in the effort for years, such as King and Josh Venkataraman, the young activist who brought the matter to the attentions of Farmer, then-state Sen. Geraldine Thompson, state Rep. Bobby DuBose and the Legislature. The group has been writing to the Cabinet members urging action, and seeking more media attention. So far they’ve not heard anything from Florida Cabinet officials either.

“It’s like the Legislature vote did not happen,” said Greenlee’s daughter, Carol Greenlee.

Among survivors is Henrietta Irvin, sister of Walter Irvin.

“There’s an 84-year-old woman in Miami with crippled hands that no longer work, who can no longer bathe herself or brush her hair, who spends her days in bed, wasting away because she has no appetite – a divorcee who raised children, worked long hours at a hospital, buried two daughters, took care of a mentally disabled brother for decades, who has nurtured the hope that her wrongfully-convicted brother, Walter Lee Irvin, would one day be exonerated,” Corsair wrote in an email to Florida Politics. “I believe only one thing is keeping this praiseworthy woman alive – a fading hope that the state of Florida will right a terrible wrong and restore Walter Lee Irvin’s to nullify his criminal record and restore his reputation to law-abiding citizen.”

The response from Scott’s office, from his press secretary Ashley Cook, did not provide any specific reason for Irvin or others involved to hope that a resolution is forthcoming.

“Governor Scott is aware of the Groveland Four case and is strongly against any form of racial injustice or discrimination. Currently, the families of Walter Irvin and Charles Greenlee have applications pending with the Commission on Offender Review which, on behalf of the state of Florida, conducts clemency investigations per standard procedure and the Florida Constitution. After the Commission concludes clemency investigation, their findings are presented to the four-member Board of Executive Clemency,” Cook said in a written statement. “We continue to review all of our options.”

Gillum, the Tallahassee mayor, is ready to pursue pardons “following the will of the Legislature,” if he is elected governor, according to his spokesman. “The Groveland Four and their families deserve closure,” said Geoff Burgan.

Charter schools amendment stricken from November ballot

The Florida Supreme Court on Friday deep-sixed a contentious proposed constitutional amendment dealing with schools from the November ballot, agreeing with a lower court that the proposal’s intentions toward charter schools were poorly worded.

As a result of the Supreme Court’s 4-3 decision Friday, Amendment 8, which covers several education matters, will not be presented to voters on the Nov. 6 statewide ballot.

Justice Jorge Labarga was the swing vote, siding with the court’s liberal triumvirate of Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis, and Peggy A. Quince. The conservative faction of Chief Justice Charles Canady and Justices Ricky Polston and Alan Lawson dissented.

“An opinion setting forth our reasons for this decision will issue at a later date,” a one-paragraph order said. “Rehearing will not be entertained.”

The proposed amendment was bundled together earlier this year by the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC). The problematic matter had to do with the creation of a new category of public schools not controlled by local school boards: Essentially state-supervised charter schools.

In addition, Amendment 8 also would have set term limits on school board members statewide, and would have required civics education in all schools.

The League of Women Voters of Florida went to court to challenge this amendment’s language, alleging that it hid the amendment’s true purpose.

“We’re really pleased that the Florida Supreme Court has agreed with the League on this,” League President Patricia Brigham said Friday afternoon. “It really shows the backers of this on the CRC went to great lengths to hide the ball, because they realized that Floridians would never knowingly forfeit their right their local control over local public schools.”

Backers, represented by the campaign committee 8isGreat.org, decried the ruling.

“Voters deserved to have a say in whether to allow the monopoly over schools to continue, but activist judges have decided otherwise,” Erika Donalds, a Collier County School Board member and the main sponsor of Amendment 8 on the CRC, said in a statement released by 8isGreat.org Friday afternoon.

The league had challenged the amendment in Tallahassee circuit court, contending that the bundled language not only hid the intention of creating state-monitored charter schools outside of local school districts’ control, but bundled that with the far more popular idea, school board member term limits, to get it past voters.

Critics charged the amendment was “sugar-coated.”

Earlier drafts of the CRC proposal specifically talked about state-supervised charter schools. However, the final version of the revision offered as a constitutional amendment didn’t use the words “charter schools” at all.

Instead the language would have rewritten the duties of the local school boards to open the door to schools not “established” by the school board, and therefore outside of the school board’s purview.

On Aug. 20, Circuit Judge John Cooper agreed with the league’s objections and issued a summary judgment to jettison the amendment from the ballot. He wrote that “the ballot summary … clearly and conclusively fails to adequately inform the voter of the chief purposes and effects of the revision, and is affirmatively misleading.”

Wayne Liebnitzky endorsed by former Puerto Rico senator

Republican congressional candidate Wayne Liebnitzky has received the endorsement of former Puerto Rico Sen. Miriam Ramirez in his quest to be elected in Florida’s 9th Congressional District, which has a large population of Puerto Rican residents, his campaign announced.

Ramirez, a medical doctor, had a long career in public health and politics in Puerto Rico including a term in the Puerto Rico Senate from 2000-’04, before moving to Florida. Most recently, until 2013, she served as Federal, Health and Legislative Affairs Advisor to then-San Juan Mayo Jorge Santini, Mayor of San Juan. She continues as an active advocate for Puerto Rico statehood from Florida.

In the Nov. 6 election, Liebnitzky, of St. Cloud, is facing Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, who in 2016 became the first Florida congressman of Puerto Rican heritage. Soto defeated Liebnitzky in that 2016 election.

CD 9 covers Osceola County, south Orange County and east Polk County, all areas with large and growing populations of Puerto Ricans. The area was ground zero for the migration of people fleeing Puerto Rico last year after Hurricane Maria devestated the island almost a year ago.

Poll: Governor’s race tied, voters support marijuana

A new poll from St. Pete Polls is finding Florida’s governor’s race in nearly a tie, with Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum just slightly ahead, and also finding that Florida voters lean toward supporting more legalization of marijuana and consider that issue in their position on the governor’s race.

The poll is part of an effort involving the St. Pete Polls, Empowering Wellness — the newly formed medical-marijuana advocacy group — and Florida Politics to examine marijuana policies and politcal leaders and candidates’ positions heading into Wellness Week, which will feature other looks at the issues.

First the governor’s election: The survey conducted Wednesday and Thursday of 2,240 likely Florida general election voters found Gillum, the Tallahassee mayor, with 47.6 percent support, and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, the Republican nominee, with 47.3 percent.

Voters lean toward more full legalization, according to the poll: 49.3 percent said they support full legalaization of marijuana, while 42.3 percent said they oppose. That is not enough support to get a Florida Constitution amendment passed, which requires 60 percent approval, but may signal to lawmakers and state leaders that Florida’s populous is growing more supportive.

The support was fueled by both Democrats and independents: 62 percent of Democrats  and 54 percent of independent voters support full legalization, while just 34 percent of Republicans do so.

As for Florida’s existing medical cannabis law, approved by voters in 2016 but still not fully implemented, 73.8 percent of those surveyed said they support it, and 20.8 percent oppose.

For the governor’s race, 29.8 percent of those surveyed said they would be more likely to support a gubernatorial candidate who supported marijuana legalization; 25.1 percent said they would be less likely; and 45 percent said it would make no difference.

The poll was conducted through an automated phone call polling system. The results were then weighted to account for proportional differences between the respondents’ demographics and the demographics of the active general election voter population for the state of Florida. The weighting demographics used were: political party, race, age, gender and media market. The voters polled were chosen at random within the registered voter population within the state of Florida. Voters who said they were not planning to vote were excluded from the results below.

St. Pete Polls is saying the survey has a 2.1 percent margin of error.

Republicans: This election is stark choice of capitalism versus radicalism

Led by blistering attacks from Gov. Rick Scott, Republican candidates kicked off their unity rally in Orlando Thursday morning declaring that this year’s election offers stark choices that boil down to capitalism versus socialism.

Scott, the nominee for U.S. Senate; gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis; the rest of Florida’s cabinet; and the rest of the Republican Party’s nominees for the cabinet took turns Friday attacking Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum and other Democrats as radical, bent on destroying Florida’s economy and the state.

“When I was in the private sector I recalled many times that it seemed like the two political parties didn’t have very different choices. That’s not the case here in Florida today,” Scott said. “This election offers voters the starkest choice possible for the direction and the future of our state and the country. The Democratic ticket of Bill Nelson and Andrew Gillum offering a very clear, a very liberal, a very radical and a very risky direction.”

“I am the capitalist candidate for Governor for the state of Florida,” DeSantis later declared.

The event oozed unity after primary battles that left some Republicans broken and broken-hearted. On Thursday, Attorney General nominee Ashley Moody, Agriculture Commissioner nominee Matt Caldwell, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, and Attorney General Pam Bondi all called for Republican voters to support GOP candidates.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and DeSantis shared a warm handshake and a call to “rally behind our values as Republicans.”

There were, however, a couple of key Republican leaders conspicuous by their absences. The first was Republican Party of Florida Chair Blaise Ingoglia, who continued his refusal to share a dais with Scott.

The other was President Donald Trump, who, in an hour of speeches, was mentioned only once, only in passing, and not by DeSantis, his pick in Florida, nor by Scott, who seeks to join him in Washington and had previously boasted of having a close relationship with him.

Scott and others planned to join Vice President Mike Pence at private events later on Thursday, but Pence was not scheduled to join the Florida Republican unity rally.

The theme was to build on the records of Scott, Bondi, Putnam, and Caldwell, pushing for lower taxes, deregulation, and tougher law enforcement, which was largely defined as enforcement of immigration laws. Much was made of Florida’s economy, job growth, lower taxes, and lower unemployment. Scott also defended his records on education and the environment, which have been sharply targeted by Democrats.

“I think the appropriate course of action is to see what has worked here, build off of that, and enjoy even more success,” DeSantis said. “My opponent, Andrew Gillum, would really want to stop that and reverse all the progress we’ve made.

“If you want to bring more investment to Florida, you probably don’t want to campaign on the biggest tax increase in Florida’s history,” DeSantis said.

From there, DeSantis and Scott charged Gillum with socialist ideas, particularly involving health care, and warnings that would strip private health care plans away from Floridians, bankrupt the state, and send Florida tax money to states like California and New York.

DeSantis also accused Gillum of “radicalism” in calling for the abolishment and replacement of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and in his statements regarding Israel. DeSantis called him anti-Israel for opposing the move of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, something DeSantis helped champion in Congress.

“I think he believes Jerusalem should be divided,” DeSantis charged. “He criticizes Israel, he said they were committing murder when they were defending themselves against Hamas terrorists who were overrunning the border on the Gaza Strip. That is not representative of Florida values. I’ve always stood by Israel. I will be the most pro-Israel governor in the country.”

Scott, too, attacked Gillum and explicitly charged him with preaching socialism. His attacks on his own opponent, Nelson, was more often by association with Gillum and the Democrats, though he did take a very personal shot at the incumbent U.S. Senator.

“If you grew up wealthy like Bill Nelson, it’s all theory, it’s just about numbers,” Scott said of people struggling to make ends meet. “I grew up poor.”

Stephanie Murphy ad touts immigrants’ shot at the American dream

Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy is launching a pair of internet videos, one in Spanish, one in English, touting her personal story of an immigrant pursuing the American dream and saying she’s fighting for others to have the same fair shot.

Murphy, the first-term congresswoman from Winter Park, came to America with her family after fleeing communist Vietnam on a refugee boat, eventually settling in the United States. Her commercial briefly references that and then tells of her parents working hard cleaning offices so the family could have a better life.

She then pushes her work-across-the-aisle credentials in Congress, seeking to position herself as a moderate Democrat in Florida’s very purple 7th Congressional District, representing Seminole County and central Orange County. She faces Republican state Rep. Mike Miller in the Nov. 6 election.

The Murphy campaign stated in a news release that the 30-second ad, “Fair Shot,” is targeted to Hispanic voters and that it is part of a significant digital advertising investment for the campaign.

Murphy narrates both the English and Spanish versions.

“When you work hard, you deserve to get ahead,” she says in the English ad. “So I’m working with both parties to improve veterans care, invest in schools, and create good paying jobs. And I’m holding Washington accountable – because they work for the people.

“I’m Stephanie Murphy, and I’m fighting for your fair shot at the American dream,” she concludes.

Jeanette Nuñez’s anti-Trump comments are ‘non-issue,’ Ron DeSantis says

A running mate whose anti-Donald Trump comments surfaced after she was chosen by President Trump’s strong choice for Governor of Florida?

“That’s a non-issue,” U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis said of state Rep. Jeanette Nuñez Thursday.

DeSantis, who rode Trump’s endorsement from 10 points down in most polls to an easy Republican gubernatorial primary victory over Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, introduced Nuñez of Miami to run for lieutenant governor on his ticket. And then he dismissed any notion that she at least once was a fervent member of the #NeverTrump wing of the Republican Party.

In at least one 2016 tweet, Nuñez called Trump a con man and accused him of supporting the Ku Klux Klan.

Water over the bridge of past elections, and that’s what you say in primaries when you like the other guy, Nuñez and DeSantis said on Thursday.

“We’re talking about moving Florida forward. Elections are elections. It is what it is. It’s no secret that I was a strong Marco Rubio supporter, but that election is done and I’m looking forward to this election,” she said, referring to Florida’s junior U.S. Senator.

“To support Marco Rubio, a favorite son, a Cuban-American, a historic run, to me, if I was in her shoes, I probably would have been supporting Marco as well. So that’s a non-issue,” DeSantis said.

Of course, DeSantis had cut no slack for Putnam after he also had said negative things about Trump during the 2016 election cycle. Putnam also supported a favorite-son candidate from Florida in the 2016 Republican presidential primary, former Gov. Jeb Bush. Putnam tried hard to walk it back during the primary campaign, while DeSantis ripped him repeatedly for his anti-Trump remarks in 2016.

That’s different, DeSantis insisted Thursday.

“He was running saying, like, he was basically Trump’s guy. And I just thought it was more insincere,” he said. “Jeanette is standing by what she said. She’s just saying it’s a different contest.”

Group pushing Democrats in ‘flippable’ state districts

A national group backing Democrats in state districts that could go from red to blue is getting behind state Rep. Janet Cruz‘s run for the Florida Senate and Anna Eskamani and Fentrice Driskell in Florida House districts in Orlando and Tampa.

Flippable is pledging to target 100 state races across the country with the intention of reversing Republican control in those states before the next U.S. Census and the resulting congressional redistricting. On Thursday it announced Cruz, Eskamani, and Driskell among its latest endorsements.

Cruz is running in Senate District 18, based in Tampa, against Republican incumbent state Sen. Dana Young.

Eskamani is running for an open seat in House District 47 in Orlando, against Republican Stockton Reeves. The seat is currently held by Republican state Rep. Mike Miller.

Driskell is running in House District 63 in Tampa against Republican incumbent state Rep. Shawn Harrison.

They join a list of 18 other candidates in Florida the group has endorsed, including Kayser Enneking in Senate District 8, Bob Doyel in Senate District 22, David Perez in Senate District 36, Tracye Polson in House District 15, Tracey Kagan in House District 29, Geraldine Thompson in House District 44, Adam Hattersley in House District 59, Debra Bellanti in House District 60, Alex Heeren in House District 66, Jennifer Webb in House District 69, Margaret Good in House District 72, Jim Bonfiglio in House District 89, Emma Collum in House District 93, Cindy Polo in House District 103, Javier Estevez in House District 105, Jeffrey Solomon in House District 115, James Harden in House District 116, and Steve Friedman in House District 120.

“Our government from Washington, D.C., to Tallahassee has become an embarrassment because too many politicians care more about special interests than the people they serve,” Eskamani stated in a news release issued by her campaign. “I am honored to be building a new vision for our state, one that prioritizes public education, builds a diversified economy, protects our environment, reduces gun violence, and ensures access to high-quality health care, regardless of pre-existing conditions.”

Orange County Republicans call for Kathy Gibson to resign RPOF post

The Orange County Republican Executive Committee called Wednesday for Kathy Gibson to resign as the county’s state committeewoman to the Republican Party of Florida.

The Republican panel made that decision Wednesday afternoon shortly after Republican congressional candidates Wayne Liebnitzky and Mike Miller made similar demands, joining gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis in calling for Gibson to step aside.

The calls for her immediate resignation developed from outrage over a social media meme that appeared under Gibson’s Facebook account, falsely claiming that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum was going to make Florida pay for its part in slavery. The meme, widely denounced as racist, appeared Monday night, and has since been deleted. Gov. Rick Scott also condemned any statements that would seek to “divide the people of Florida by race or ethnicity,” though he stopped short of calling for Gibson’s resignation.

She later claimed, in another Facebook post, that it was not hers and that her account had been hacked.

Republicans apparently are not buying that.

The controversy grew Wednesday in advance of the big Republican unity rally that Orange County is set to host Thursday.

It is to feature Scott, DeSantis, Liebnitzky, Miller, and almost all other top Republican statewide and Central Florida candidates and officials. It is supposed to be the Republicans’ big celebration and kickoff to a 2018 election campaign.
In addition, Vice President Mike Pence is coming to Orange County Thursday for a fundraiser, but apparently is not arriving in time to attend the rally.

“We need people with a moral compass,” Liebnitzky said after calling for Gibson to resign.

“Kathy Gibson’s insensitive comments on Facebook have no place in politics. She should resign immediately,” Miller, a state representative from Orange County, said in a news release.

Earlier, both DeSantis, the congressman from Ponte Vedra Beach, and Scott denounced the post. In a statement to POLITICO, DeSantis called the thinking behind the meme “disgusting” and called for her to resign.

Orange County Republican Chair Charles Hart said Wednesday afternoon the county party’s board called for her resignation.

Gibson could not be reached Wednesday for comment.

However, on her Facebook page, around midnight going into Wednesday Gibson wrote, “To All Family & Friends Please be Advised that my Facebook Page was Hacked today. All Passwords & Codes have been Changed. If you saw anything today that didn’t sound like me, please let me Thank You.”

The response comments on that post were mostly not sympathetic. “Nice try,” one person commented. “God shall not be mocked. He knows you posted untrue information and are now lying about it,” wrote another. “Grow up and own it,” said a third. Others used foul language to say the same things.

If Gibson resigns, she would be the second state official to the Republican Party of Florida from Orange County to resign this summer. Earlier, State Committeeman Paul Paulson resigned over scandalous reports involving a fraudulent charity he was running. He was replaced by Rich Crotty.

Gibson is an elected official, so she would have to submit a resignation to RPOF Chairman Blaise Ingoglia. However, the Orange County Executive Committee would have to select a replacement, as it did in Paulson’s situation.

Poll: Rick Scott, Bill Nelson tied in U.S. Senate race

It’s been close all along, but now Florida’s U.S. Senate race is officially a dead heat.

Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican Gov. Rick Scott are tied, according to the newest Quinnipiac University poll.

Released Wednesday, the survey gives each 49 percent, with an astonishingly low two percent of voters surveyed telling pollsters they don’t know (or don’t want to say) whom they’re voting for in the Nov. 6 election.

“The campaign is a prototype of our nation’s political environment: Democrat Nelson carries women and black voters, while Republican Scott wins among men and white voters. The key in close elections like this one often lies with independent voters. So far, Sen. Nelson has the edge with this swing group. The candidate who holds those voters in November is likely to win,” says Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, in a news release.

Indeed, 56 percent of independent voters told Quinnipiac pollsters they prefer Nelson, and 43 percent said they prefer Scott. Otherwise, Nelson took 89 percent of the Democratic support, and Scott, 92 percent of the Republican support in the survey.

And the poll suggests, there is precious little margin for change: 92 percent of the voters say their minds are made up. That was true regardless of their current choice.

The poll was conducted from last Thursday through Monday, with live telephone surveys of 785 likely Florida voters, using both landline and cellphones. Quinnipiac puts the margin of error at 4.3 percent.

Just as Quinnipiac reported Tuesday with its poll of the Florida Governor’s race, President Donald Trump is not a significant factor in the race for U.S. Senator in Florida, at least with 46 percent of those polled. Another 26 percent say their Senate vote is mainly to support the President, while 25 percent say their vote is mainly in opposition to Trump.

Nelson received a “favorable” rating from 48 percent of those surveyed, and an “unfavorable” rating from 42 percent. Scott’s was favorable with 49 percent; with 47 percent unfavorable.

While not on the ballot in 2018, 44 percent of Florida likely voters approve of Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio; 47 percent disapprove.

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