Scott Powers, Author at Florida Politics - Page 6 of 289

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 Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused.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

Ron DeSantis expecting GOP super voters to make the difference on Tuesday

The polls and the voter turnout through the weekend might have a blue tint but Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis is counting on Florida’s Republican super-voters to do what they always do – turn out en masse on Election Day – and make the difference.

“I really believe if we can get people out to vote I will be elected governor on Tuesday,” DeSantis told a crowd of about 150 people gathered in an Orlando pharmacy parkling lot Monday morning.

DeSantis made the comment during a get-out-the-vote rally that featured Republicans U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, Agriculture Commissioner nominee Matt Caldwell, Attorney General nominee Ashley Moody, and congressional nominee Mike Miller, among others. So naturally, the comment was a standard line for such a rally.

Yet an edge in DeSantis’s voice sounded as if he knows it will be needed, as someone trailing by five points in three different polls released Monday morning, and with reports that Democrats had a big voter turnout over the weekend. After his Orlando speech he told reporters that the voter turnout numbers will turn.

“We have a lot of our super voters left to vote. We have hundreds of thousands of voter-advantage in terms of potential voters,” DeSantis said. “Not all the votes have been tabulated from weekend in the Panhandle from earely voting. I think we’re going to go into the election having  rough parity, which we were not anticipating. We thought we’d have to come back.

“We just have a lot of our voters who like to vote on election day,” DeSantis added. “That’s just the way they are. So I think we’re definately going to win election day.”

Considering the star power of three cabinet nominees and Florida’s Republican U.S. Senator appearing at Monday in Orlando the rally drew a modest crowd to a small space. DeSantis’s end game speech included the usual comparisons with his Democratic opponent Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and reminders that Tallahassee is being investigated by the FBI for potential corruption.

Yet DeSantis also put more emphasis Monday on seeking to define the leadership differences, and in reminding the crowd that he has at least a good working relationship with President Donald Trump, if not a mutual-admiration society, while Gillum has called for Trump’s impeachment.

“You also have to someone who is a good leader and can get this stuff done. If you look at transportation, which we obviously need in Central Florida, you should have a governor who can work constructively with the administration in Washington to make sure Florida is getting what it needs for us to be able to fix our infrastructure,” DeSantis said.

“I can do that because I can call the president, I can call key people in the administration, and I can fight for Florida and fight for Florida’s interests,” he continued. “Andrew Gillum wants to impeach Donald Trump.”

Rubio spoke only briefly, mainly warning against a state of high taxes and business regulations that he said Gillum would bring.

“We’re not going backwards,” Rubio said. “We are most certainly not going to become a state like people are leaving. That’s not going to happen.”

CD 26 draws $18 million in outside money; Florida, $37 million

Outside groups have spent more than $37 million in Florida’s 27 congressional races with almost half of that going into a single contest: the battle for Florida’s 26th Congressional District in South Florida.

Democratic groups led by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the House Majority PAC have poured $11.3 million into trying to support Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and to oppose the re-election of Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo in that South Florida district.

Republican groups and others, including a couple of nonpartisan groups such as the No Labels PAC, have countered with about $7.1 million to support Curbelo or attack Mucarsel-Powell, according to data posted through last week by the Federal Election Commission.

That makes the CD 26 race far and away the most expensive in Florida, at least from the standpoint of outside groups’ spending.

In four other Florida congressional districts outside groups have spent millions of dollars. But combined, the outside money pouring into those four does not add up to the $18 million spent so far in CD 26. In Florida’s 27th Congressional District, $4.3 million has been spent; in Florida’s 6th Congressional District, $4.1 million; in Florida’s 15th Congressional District, $3.8 million; in Florida’s 18th Congressional District, $3.7 million.

After that, the outside money drops off quickly: $1.4 million in Florida’s 16th Congressional District; $1.1 million in Florida’s 7th Congressional District; $347,000 in Florida’s 25th Congressional District; $299,000 in Florida’s 19th Congressional District; and $161,000 in Florida’s 17th Congressional District. In none of Florida’s other 17 congressional others have outside groups combined to spend as much as $100,000 this year.

As with the outside spending seen pouring into Florida’s U.S. Senate race this year, most of the independent money flowing into Florida is backing Democrats or attacking Republicans. To date, about $21.5 million of the money is backing the Democrats, and $16.5 million the Republicans in Florida’s congressional races.

The DCCC is leading all outside groups in spending, pouring $10 million into Sunshine State. In addition to supporting Mucarsel-Powell, the DCCC has spent more than $1 million each in backing Kristen Carlson in CD 15 and Donna Shalala in CD 27, plus another $300,000 supporting Lauren Baer in CD 18.

The second-biggest outside spender in Florida also is a Democratic organization. The House Majority PAC has spent $5.3 million here. That includes $2.6 million supporting Mucarsel-Powell in CD 26, and between $500,000 and $1 million supporting Democrats in four other districts: Nancy Soderberg in Florida’s 6th Congressional District; U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy in Florida’s 7th Congressional District; Baer in CD 18; and Shalala in CD 27.

The two big Republican groups, the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Congressional Leadership Fund, have focused on three districts each. They’ve each spent about $5 million total in Florida.

The NRCC has spent $2.7 million supporting Curbelo’s re-election in HD 26; $1.5 million supporting Maria Elvira Salazar in CD 27, and $812,000 supporting the re-election of U.S. Rep. Brian Mast in CD 18.

The Congressional Leadership Fund has spent $2.9 million supporting Curbelo in CD 26; $1.7 million supporting state Rep. Ross Spano‘s bid in CD 15, and $273,000 supporting Salazar in CD 27.

There also are several nonpartisan organizations that have weighed in big in Florida races. The No Labels Action committee, which supports centrist members of Congress, for example, has spent $153,000 supporting Murphy’s Democratic re-election bid in CD 7, and another $437,000 supporting Curbelo’s Republican re-election bid in CD 26.

The With Honor Fund, which supports the elections of veterans from both parties nationally, has backed two veteran candidates in Florida, though both are Republicans. It has provided Mast with $907,000 in campaign support in CD 18, and Michael Waltz with $1.2 million in support in CD 6.

Puerto Rico speaker among 14 endorsements for Mike Miller

Puerto Rico Speaker of the House Carlos “Johnny” Mendez iss among 14 members of the Puerto Rican General Assembly to endorse Republican state Rep. Mike Miller for Congress in Florida’s 7th Congressional District, Miller’s campaign announced Monday.

Mendez’s endorsement was joined by those of other Puerto Rico Reps. Jose Aponte, Felix LaSalle, Maria Milagros Charbonier, Michael Adid Quinones, Victor Pares, Eddie Charbonier, Lourdes Ramos, Jackie Rodriguez, Jose “Pitchy” Torres Zamora, Pedro Santiago, Wilson Roman, Manuel Claudio, and Jose “Memo” Gonzales.

Miller is taking on Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy in Tuesday’s general election.

“Mike has been a consistent supporter of the Puerto Rican community in Central Florida. As a member of the Puerto Rican hurricane relief team, he helped bring relief to Puerto Rican residents after hurricanes Irma and Maria, working to ensure displaced residents have access to education, health care documents, and job placements to help them start a new life here in Central Florida,” Mendez stated in a news release issued by Miller’s campaign.

CD 7 covers Seminole County and north and central Orange County.

Andrew Gillum, Bill Nelson leading, Q poll shows

Another poll released Monday morning is showing the Democrats leading in Florida’s gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races, this one from Quinnipiac University, which has both Andrew Gillum and Bill Nelson up by seven points over their opponents, Republicans Ron DeSantis and Rick Scott.

The Quinnipiac University Poll has Gillum, the Tallahassee Mayor, leading DeSantis, the former congressman, by 50 percent to 43 percent.

The same poll has U.S. Sen. Nelson leading Florida Gov. Scott 51 percent to 44 percent.

The polls came out Monday the same time as a St. Pete Polls survey that has Gillum up by five points, and an NBC News/Marist poll that has Gillum up by five points over DeSantis and Nelson up by five points over Scott.

The trio of new polls shows a consistent trend that has had Gillum leading in nearly every survey for more than a month, according to RealClearPolitics, which tracks major polls.

As with the other two polls, the Democrats are holding their leads thanks to the preferences of independent voters, with Democrats enjoying a 13-point advantage in both races. Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, suggested the preference will be difficult for the Republicans to overcome.

“Sen. Nelson has a 13-point edge among independent voters. Candidates with double-digit leads among independents rarely lose,” Brown stated in a news release.

“Mayor Andrew Gillum and his challenger, former Congressman Ron DeSantis, are running the same, 93 — 4 percent among self-identified members of each of their respective parties. But Gillum’s 13-point margin among independents is the difference in the outcome,” Brown added.

The Q Poll was taken from last Monday through Sunday, of 1,142 Flordia likely voters, and Quinnipiac is citing a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.


Bill Nelson, Andrew Gillum each up by 5, NBC News/Marist poll says

The latest poll, from NBC News/Marist, has Democrats Andrew Gillum and Bill Nelson both leading by five points in Florida’s gubernatorial and U.S. Senate races.

The new poll taken last week and released Monday morning shows Gillum, the Tallahassee Mayor, leading Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis, a former Congressman, 50 percent to 45 percent. Counter to recent polls showing Reform Party nom Darcy Richardson siphoning away a couple points, “other” candidates accounted for less than the 1 percent of the total with most of the remainder being undecided.

The spread is identical as U.S. Sen. Nelson leads Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott in the U.S. Senate race.

As other polls have found, NBC/Marist shows Democrats running up solid leads among Florida’s registered voters who say they have already have voted. Unlike St. Pete Polls’ recent survey of the top-of-ticket races, NBC/Marist also shows Gillum and Nelson with leads, albeit slim ones, among those who say they have not yet voted but intend to vote.

Gillum leads by 22 points among independent voters, 18 points among women, 80 points among black voters, and 12 points among Hispanic voters. DeSantis leads by 15 points among white voters, nine points among men, and by 59 points among white evangelical voters.

The demographic spreads in the U.S. Senate race are similar: Nelson has a 17-point lead among independent voters, and big edges among women, voters of color and younger voters, while Scott leads by 13 points among white voters, nine points among men, and 54 points among white evangelical voters.

The poll was conducted last Tuesday through Friday of 1,038 Florida adults interviewed live by either landline or cell phone, and sorted subsets of voters and likely voters, depending on the questions. For the 595 likely voters, the margin of error was 5 percent.

In the previous NBC News/Marist survey, taken in September, Gillum led 49-41 percent and Nelson led 48-43 percent.

The RealClearPolitics polling average for the Guv. race, which includes the NBC/Marist poll, gives Gillum a 2.7 percentage point lead over DeSantis. The Senate polling average puts Nelson up 2.5 percentage points. Election forecaster FiveThirtyEight gives both Gillum and Nelson a better than 70 percent chance to snag a victory on Election Day, though the vote will be close. In the race for Governor, FiveThirtyEight doesn’t expect the winning candidate to net 51 percent of the vote.

National groups spend $1.1 million backing Stephanie Murphy in CD 7 race

National political committees that played a major role in helping U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy win her seat in Congress two years ago are coming to her aid again, with nearly $1.2 million in outside money spent in Florida’s 7th Congressional District through last week — almost all of it on her side.

The Democratic House Majority Political Action Committee has poured about $800,000 into television advertising in the past 10 days attacking Murphy’s Republican opponent, state Rep. Mike Miller, and several other groups have pitched in for her as well in recent weeks, according to the latest independent expenditure reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Much of the House Majority PAC money went into a television commercial that Miller’s campaign charged was false, and which at least one Orlando-area TV station has pulled, according to Miller’s campaign.

Nonetheless, few outside groups have been riding to Miller’s rescue. Through last Wednesday, the only independent group to help out Miller has been Central Florida Solutions, which has spent $63,878 on mailers, including some sent out last week.

So far, groups supporting Murphy have spent $1.1 million in the CD 7 general election campaign.

Murphy has gotten support not just from the Democrats, but from the No Labels Action group that pushes for bipartisan, moderate politics. That group, which to date has supported 11 Democrats and nine Republicans running for Congress this year, has spent $153,000 on mailers and digital advertising supporting Murphy.

She also has received another $125,000 in general election support, through radio advertising, from the Center Forward Committee. Four other groups, including the Environmental Defense Action Fund and the Brady Political Action Committee, have spent a few thousand dollars apiece supporting her campaign.

Price tag of Florida’s U.S. Senate race: $177 million and climbing

The price tag for this year’s U.S. Senate race has topped $177 million and is likley to go much higher as Floridians head toward Tuesday’s election.

At this rate the U.S. Senate seat is almost certain to soar well over $200 million by the time all the bills are reported. The candidates and outside political committees are only increasing their spending heading into the last few days, and candidates’ official campaign spending reports are complete only through a couple weeks ago.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott‘s campaign has spent $66.5 million, $51 million of it from Scott’s personal fortune, seeking to win Florida’s U.S. Senate seat. That’s only through Oct. 17, the latest date for which candidates’ campaigns have reported their expenditures.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson‘s campaign has spent $24.5 million through Oct. 17.

Outside groups, led by the New Republican Political Action Committee that Scott established to back his campaign with outside money, and the Democrats’ Senate Majority PAC, backing Nelson, have combined to spend more than $86.1 million on Florida’s U.S. Senate contest. Those reports are nearly current, into at least early filings on Friday.

The independent expenditure money is responsible for most of the negative advertising that has been blitzing Florida television screens this fall, attacking Nelson or Scott; though Nelson’s official campaign has turned out a couple of particularly-harsh attack ads against Scott in the past couple of weeks.

The outside money in Florida is now the most seen pouring into any U.S. Senate race in the country, according to the Federal Election Commission.

For much of this fall more money was going into the U.S. Senate race in Missouri and roughly the same amount as Florida was pouring into U.S. Senate races in several other states, notably Arizona and Indiana. No more. The $86 million level that Florida’s outside money flood has reached is well above the levels in Missouri, $76 million; Indiana, $69 million; and Arizona, $66 million.

The outside spending last week destroyed the record set in Florida in 2016 when national groups spent $54 million on the election in which Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio won his second term.

No one is slowing down much.

New Republican PAC has dumped $11 million just this week into its campaign to attack Nelson and support Scott.  The PAC, which Scott set up and then set free to be independent, now has spent $29.5 million on the race this year.

The leading Democratic groups aiding Nelson are the Senate Majority PAC, which spent about $2 million in the past week in Florida, but now has spent $21.7 million overall; Priorities USA, which spent about $1 million in Florida last week and now has spent $10.7 million in the Sunshine State; and four groups that spent very little last week but have spent quite a bit to date: Majority Forward, which has spent $4.5 million this year supporting Nelson; VoteVets, $3.9 million; For Our Future, $2.1 million; and the LCV Victory FUnd, $2 million.

Forty-two national Democratic groups have combined to spend $54.1 million supporting Nelson’s re-election.

Seventeen national Republican gropus have combined to spend $32 million to support Scott’s challenge of Nelson.

Latina actresses joining R. Jai Gillum for Kissimmee rally Sunday

Eva Longoria Bastón and America Ferrera will be among celebrity Latinas and others supporting the Andrew Gillum‘s Democratic gubernatorial campaign at a rally with R. Jai Gillum in Kissimmee Sunday morning.

The Latino Victory Fund, a national political committee funded by George Soros, announced it is arranging an early-vote rally at the 65th Infantry Veterans Park, in the heavily-Puerto Rican Buenaventura Lakes community in north Kissimmee. The park is named for the famed U.S. Army regiment from Puerto Rico known as “The Borinqueneers”.

Gillum’s wife R. Jai Gillum will headline, joined on stage by the actresses Longoria, Ferrara, Rosario DawsonGina Rodriguez, and Zoe Saldaña, and actor Frankie Negrón, and celebrity archetect Henry R. Muñoz III, who co-founded Latino Victory Fund.

Also joining them will be Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto of Celebration and Democratic U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez of New York.

The rally comes two days before election day, when Gillum faces Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis and Soto faces Republican congressional nominee Wayne Liebnitzky in Florida’s 9th Congressional District, which represents Kissimmee.

Members of the public wishing to attend have to RSVP here to attend the “Fiesta y Vota” event, which is set to start at 9:30 a.m. and run through noon Sunday.

Latino Victory Fund spent more than $500,000 to campaign for Soto this summer and autumn.

Andrew Gillum bus tour cruising South Florida

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum will take his rolling tour through at least three stops in South Florida Friday, campaigning with Democratic Florida Agriculture Commissioner candidate Nikki Fried and Democratic U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, among others.

His campaign schedule has his bus tour hiting Coconut Creek in the morning, Boynton Beach in the afternoon and West Palm Beach in the afternoon, pushing a get-out-the-vote message in the Democratic-rich areas.

In West Palm Beach, he’ll wind up the day with a “Bring It Home” block party concert.

Gillum and Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis head into the final weekend before next Tuesday’s Election Day.

In Coconut Creek, Gillum, Deutch, Fried and Fried will be joined by Wynmoor Village community leaders for a 10:30 appearance at Wynmoor Village.

In Boynton Beach, Gillum will be joined by state Sen. Lori Berman, state Rep. Al Jacquet and other local elected leaders and candidates at the Ezell Hester Center for a 5 p.m. rally.

In West Palm, Gillum will be joined by state Sen. Bobby Powell and local elected leaders and candidates at Gaines Park for a 7 p.m. rally before the party starts.

Jeff Greene pitches in $225K to help Democrats

Former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jeff Greene is making good on his primary campaign promise to help Democrats get elected even if he lost the primary, which he did.

On Thursday, a spokeswoman for Greene announced that this week he contributed $100,000 to a committee supporting Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum‘s gubernatorial campaign, $100,000 to a Democratic U.S. Senate get-out-the-vote effort in support of Sen. Bill Nelson‘s re-election campaign, and $25,000 to a committee supporting Nikki Fried‘s bid to be elected Florida Commissioner of Agriculture.

“I’ve always said: there is nothing more important to me than getting a Democrat in the Governor’s office and sending Rick Scott back to Naples once and for all,” Greene stated in a news release. “These next few days are the most pivotal in this election, and I am proud to do my part when it matters most. When we work together, and vote together, we win together. Let’s ‘Bring it Home.’”

The news release said that Greene previously made contributions to Gillum, Fried and the Florida Attorney General campaign of state Sen. Sean Shaw, as well as in seven state Senate races around the state.

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