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Miami Mayors Dan Gelber, Alex Penelas blast Ron DeSantis for ‘hurricane politics’

Florida Democrats chided Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis for running negative ads against opponent Andrew Gillum as Florida faces Hurricane Michael.

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber expressed shock that DeSantis would run attack ads as Panhandle residents glue themselves to TV sets for live storm updates.

“This was a knowing decision to exploit one of the most fearsome storms our state is ever going to encounter,” he said.

A new attack running in North Florida has DeSantis attacking Tallahassee Mayor Gillum over an ongoing FBI investigation in the city, as reported by CNN’s Ryan Nobles.

Republican Party of Florida officials say those ads will no longer run.

“The order to take the ads down in the affected areas was made,” said Meredith Beatrice, RPOF Communications Director. “Any statement to the contrary is simply wrong.”

Regardless, Gelber and former Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas lambasted the decision to run ads during a conference call with reporters.

Penelas and Gelber both led Miami Beach government through hurricane threats, and said politicians should dispense with hyperpartisan attacks as communities rally together amid storms.

“There’s clearly a time for politics and there’s time to govern,” Penelas said. “Right now, people’s lives are literally at risk.”

Gelber noted the FBI ads come on top of ads criticizing Gillum for Tallahassee’s response to Hurricane Hermine.

Florida Politics today asked DeSantis at a Jacksonville rally about his decision to run those ads but he declined to discuss the matter.

DeSantis today elected not to hold a typical rally and instead gathered supplies to be dispersed in Michael’s aftermath.

But the mayors said the actions of Gillum, who left the campaign trail to lead storm preparation in Tallahassee, stand in stark contrast to DeSantis’ decision to continue campaigning.

“Ron DeSantis decided a month ago that he was going to resign from Congress,” Penelas said. “He has no official role in this moment, so now he’s resorting to this very dirty and partisan politics, which is unfortunate and there couldn’t be a worse time.”

And the men also said that response stood in contrast to Democrats, who defer to Republican Gov. Rick Scott during storm preparation and recovery.

They noted that Scott also left the campaign trail; he’s the Republican nominee challenging Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.

“I’m supporting Nelson full-throatedly,” Gelber said, “but I have previously said I feel that Scott doesn’t inject partisanship into these moments. And nobody should. That’s what’s amazing. Who does this?”

On the call, the Democrats also dismissed comparisons to a lawsuit filed by Florida Democrats to extend voter registration, or to the fact Nelson continues to send fundraising emails.

So how long should any moratorium on negative campaigning last? How long should DeSantis hold back on criticizing his opponent’s record with Election Day less than a month away?

“We can’t answer that question,” Penelas said. “We don’t know what the aftermath is going to be. We’ve had some storms here in South Florida where in a day or two, you’re back up and running.

“But if you’ve got communities without power, where supplies aren’t arriving, if you’ve got widespread damage and people are actually suffering, that’s still not the time to engage.”

Gelber added: “I don’t know exactly the safe harbor, but I can tell you now, it hasn’t been the last day or two.”

David Robertson

Circuit Judge candidate called up to hurricane duty by National Guard

David Robertson, a candidate for a judgeship in Florida’s 8th Judicial Circuit Court, temporarily suspended his campaign Wednesday after his Florida Army National Guard unit was activated to assist in hurricane recovery.

“Today, I announce the immediate, temporary suspension of my campaign for Circuit Judge for Florida’s 8th Circuit. Hurricane Michael and duty call, and it is all hands on deck” he said in a press release.

The Category 4 hurricane now has maximum sustained winds of 155 mph according to the National Hurricane Center. Those winds are expected to start affecting the Florida Panhandle about 2 p.m. Wednesday. In preparation for Hurricane Michael’s landfall, Gov. Rick Scott activated 3,500 members of the Florida National Guard.

“The timing is less than ideal for any campaign, but when duty calls, you answer. This is the routine sacrifice soldiers make. I ask that you keep Floridians in the path of Michael and recovery personnel in your thoughts and prayers,” Robertson said.

“I have committed to attend many events over the closing weeks of the campaign, and unfortunately I will not have time to call and cancel. I trust event organizers will understand,” he concluded.

Earlier Wednesday, Scott said that it’s time for those living in coastal communities to “hunker down” if they have not already evacuated the area.

Robertson works as chief counsel for the Florida Department of Transportation Lake City district. He faces Gloria Walker, the director of litigation for Three Rivers Services, in the judicial election.

Did Pensacola mayoral hopeful Grover Robinson entice an endorsement with job offer?

For a city of more than 50,000 people, Pensacola politics feel more like those of a small town.

As a mayoral runoff plays out, rumors of illicit promises have made headlines, putting two candidates on the defensive — just as the region braces for a devastating Hurricane Michael.

Political leaders today widely believe early front-runner Grover Robinson made an illegal job offer to minor candidate Drew Buchanan in exchange for his endorsement.

While both men deny this, Buchanan alleges another candidate, Brian Spencer asked him directly to drop out of the race, something virtually no one believes.

Without hard evidence of anything, candidates have little reason to admit such shenanigans considering any endorsement made in exchange for personal enrichment would violate state law.

Nevertheless, the accusations are shaking up the conversation in a community that has already suffered through its share of corruption scandals.

An open election for Pensacola Mayor this year drew out a range of candidates. Six ran in the August election where Robinson, an Escambia County Commissioner, took just over 34 percent of the vote. Spencer, an architect and business leader, earned about 21 percent, allowing those candidates to advance to a Nov. 6 runoff

Buchanan came in fourth, with just under 13 percent of the vote, not too surprising for a first-time candidate running on an outsider message. Buchanan, an openly gay liberal 27-year-old in a Republican town who promised not to take PAC money, posted a message on his website after boasting that even those results bode well for the future.

“We brought thousands of regular working Pensacolians together and set an example of what politics could be — what our future will be,” he wrote.

A few weeks later, he surprised the political world again and endorsed Robinson.

Throughout the campaign, he attacked the good ol’ boys’ neighborhood, establishment politicians and officials who listened to the business community over neighborhoods.

“I was one of a couple of political outsiders running,” Buchanan says. “And the insiders won, mostly due to money.”

But he says Robinson approached him after the campaign about an endorsement. Ultimately, he issued one on Sept. 20 saying his former opponent was “prepared to collaborate, unify, and expand opportunity for all Pensacolians at this critical time.”

Robinson confirms he did approach Buchanan, and the other three eliminated candidates, about an endorsement.

“Of course I tried to get their support, and their supporters’ support,” Robinson states.

But rumors soon began swirling: Why would a political outsider who chided the system suddenly back the long-time elected official running for office?

Multiple sources tell Florida Politics that Buchanan admitted to people after the endorsement he’d been promised a job in the administration in an outreach capacity. The rumors spread around town rapidly.

This weekend, The Pensacola News-Journal columnist Andy Marlette reported being besieged by anonymous tips.

“There was one question from several readers that I had to check up on. ‘Is it true that Grover Robinson promised Drew Buchanan a job in exchange for the endorsement?’” he wrote.

“Surely not. Surely, no candidate would do something like that. Especially not the candidate who was specifically campaigning as a contrast to the [outgoing Mayor Ashton] Hayward administration. Surely, that candidate wouldn’t promise taxpayer-funded public employment in exchange for political support from a former Hayward loyalist.”

Buchanan and Robinson both say no promise of a job was ever made.

“Whatever happens happens when we move forward,” he tells Florida Politics.

Buchanan insists he’s focused on winning the election right now, not on staffing. The only hire he’s given any thought over is a potential city administrator; the only person he’s talked to about that job lives outside the city, he says, and hasn’t made an endorsement in the race.

Buchanan also points out that no discussion took place about a job, and that he wasn’t offered anything in exchange for his endorsement.

He does say Spencer seemed surprised to hear the news, but should not have been. Further, Buchanan says Spencer asked him to drop out of the race entirely before the first vote.

Buchanan pointed to a blog post by Derek Cosson on The Pensacolian alleging as much, including a text message asking “What positions are a going to be perfect fits for you and Drew?”

Spencer did not return calls on this story.

But few in Pensacola put much weight to that story, noting Buchanan lacks credibility for a number of reasons.

First, when Buchanan entered the city election, he claimed to be a nephew of Reubin Askew, the former Escambia County politician who served as Florida Governor from 1971 to 1979. In Pensacola, the Askew name alone helps generate contributions.

But it turned out Buchanan was really a great-nephew; he says the ex-governor was his grandmother’s brother.

Buchanan also professed a long connection to Pensacola but actually grew up in Fort Walton Beach, never living in Pensacola until 2014. He’d once registered to vote with the American Independent Party (the party of George Wallace). And the self-described progressive made an enemy of Occupy Pensacola in 2014.

What’s more, Buchanan never owned a home in Pensacola. A search shows he owns no property in Escambia County. (After this article published, he posted a 2012 deed on a lot within the city)

Of course, all this leaves many people — even those who are taking for granted that Robinson did make a job offer to Buchanan — questioning why he would even covet an endorsement in the first place.

As rumors grew, Robinson asserts he has called up Buchanan just to make abundantly clear that he never meant to even imply a place in the administration awaited the candidate in exchange for an endorsement.

“We never talked about that or what may happen in the city moving forward,” Robinson says.

Buchanan concurs; he ultimately backed Grover because he was the more progressive of two conservative options, and was more likely to work with neighborhoods once in office.

“I honestly wasn’t a big fan of both of the candidates,” Buchanan says. “But Grover Robinson is the one who reached out to me proactively. I didn’t get a call or a message from the other candidate or his campaign.

Rick Scott: If you haven’t evacuated from coast, ‘you’ve waited too long’

Gov. Rick Scott urged those living on the coast who have not evacuated from Hurricane Michael to bear down and find cover in a Wednesday appearance on CBS This Morning.

His comments echoes those he made earlier in the morning on Twitter, saying, “The time for evacuating along the coast has come and gone.”

CBS This Morning’s John Dickerson asked him about those remarks made on Twitter.

“What if I’m in the middle of evacuating and hear that?,” Dickerson asked. “What do I do?”

“Well, you’ve awaited too long,” Scott replied. “You’ve got to hunker down. You’ve got to get shelter as quickly as you can.”

Scott warned that while the winds and the rain are dangerous, the more pressing concern for coastal residents is the potential of a large storm surge.

“The thing that I think is so different is the unbelievable storm surge,” Scott said. “When that storm surge comes in, you have no control over it. There’s so much pressure and it pushes everything in and then it sucks everything out. Three-foot of storm surge can be deadly, so 12-, 13-foot of storm surge can be devastating.”

He then turned toward the safety measures the state has readied to deal with the storm’s aftermath. But he warned these resources will not be available during the storm’s strike.

“We have 3,500 members of the National Guard I’ve deployed,” Scott noted. “We have over 1,000 rescue individuals that are ready to come as soon as this thing passes. But they cannot rescue you during the middle of this storm. Don’t go out in the middle of the storm and try to get somewhere.”

Anchor Norah O’Donnell then pressed the Governor on the availability of shelters throughout the Florida Panhandle.

“Some of these counties that are going to be impacted by the storm don’t even have shelters or the shelters that they have are only built to withstand up to a Category 2,” O’Donnell said.

“That’s really scary,” she added.

“Some of the counties, like Taylor County, we don’t even have a shelter in the county because it’s too low lying,” Scott replied. “Our evacuation orders were for the entire county.”

“Are those shelters safe?” O’Donnell pressed.

“We work to make sure the shelters we’re opening are safe,” Scott said. “We have National Guard members there. We have Red Cross there. We’re going to do everything we can to keep everybody safe.”

He then closed the interview with one final warning for those who have chosen to stay and bear the brunt of the storm.

“It’s so frustrating, I’ve spent the last two days traveling the coast to get people to evacuate,” Scott lamented. “And those that elected not to evacuate, I’m very concerned about their safety now.”

Time to ‘hunker down’ as Category 4 Michael nears

Gov. Rick Scott said Wednesday morning that time has run out for people in coastal areas who debated whether to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Michael, as the powerful Category 4 storm was poised to cause massive damage in the Panhandle.

“It’s too late to get out,” Scott said during an appearance on the Weather Channel. “If you’re in a coastal community, you’ve got to hunker down. You’ve got to do everything you can to keep your family safe.”

At 8 a.m. Eastern time, Michael, with maximum sustained winds of 140 mph, was about 90 miles south-southwest of Panama City, moving north at 13 mph.

“It’s going to get worse pretty fast here,” said Scott, before making similar comments in appearances on “Fox & Friends” and “CBS This Morning.”

A hurricane warning remained in effect from the Alabama state line to the Suwannee River in Dixie County for what could be the most destructive hurricane in the Panhandle in a century.

The storm, which is expected to speed through the Panhandle before moving into the Atlanta area and the Carolinas, rapidly grew over the weekend, and Scott said many people made the decision not to evacuate early, when the forecast had the system reaching 100 mph.

Florida Emergency Management Director Wes Maul said the state is prepared for search-and-rescue operations, as well as bringing food and medical supplies into areas, as there will be “devastating impacts.”

“Human needs, there’s going to be a lot,” Maul said. “Look at what is on the list: medical, water, food, shelter, emergency fuel. The time for opening shelters is over.”

Maul on Monday expressed criticism in an email that local officials were not sufficiently preparing for the storm, noting that some safety operations weren’t scheduled to begin until Tuesday afternoon.

Fifty-four shelters were open across the Panhandle and Big Bend, housing nearly 6,000 people as of 9 a.m. Wednesday, according to the state Division of Emergency Management.

“It’s been frustrating,” Scott said while on CBS. “I’ve spent the last few days traveling the coast to get people to evacuate. Those that have decided not to evacuate, I’m very concerned about their safety.”

Scott said it is unknown how many did not leave, but he noted that while he was in Franklin County on Tuesday the sheriff had been unable to convince at least 50 people who were remaining in island homes.

Besides heavy rains and strong winds, the system is expected to create flash flooding and life-threatening storm surges across the Panhandle and Big Bend region.

“You’re not going to survive 12 feet, 13 feet of storm surge, you’re not going to survive it,” Scott said. “If you’re in a one-story house, and the storm surge is there, I don’t know how you’re going to survive that.”

Scott said the state is ready to respond once the storm passes, with 3,500 members of the Florida National Guard activated and more than 1,000 state forestry and wildlife officers prepared for search-and-rescue operations.

Utility crews from  Gulf PowerDuke Energy FloridaFlorida Power & Light and public utilities have lined up more than 19,000 workers from their own crews and through mutual-aid agreements with companies across the South and Midwest. Duke said Tuesday night, it expected 100,000 to 200,000 customers to lose power.

Appearing before the media Wednesday morning in the State Emergency Operations Center, Scott said fuel is moving where needed and no “widespread” gas outages had been reported.

The AAA Auto Group has said Michael isn’t expected to cause a “significant” spike in pump prices as its path remains east of most energy infrastructure such as oil rigs and refineries.

The U.S. Coast Guard has suspended vessel operations at the Port of Panama City and Port of Pensacola.

Scott lifted tolls across the Panhandle to help with mandatory evacuations. Such evacuations were ordered for coastal and low-lying areas of Bay, Dixie, Franklin, Gulf, Jackson, Levy, Okaloosa, Wakulla and Walton counties. Voluntary evacuation orders have been issued for areas of Calhoun, Gadsden, Hernando, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Pasco, Santa Rosa and Taylor counties, according to the state Division of Emergency Management website.

Scott said he talked Wednesday morning to President Donald Trump, who signed a pre-landfall emergency declaration Tuesday that ensures federal resources are available before and after the storm in the 35 counties where Scott declared a state of emergency.

trauma centers

Hurricane Michael: Federal agencies mobilizing health care help for Florida

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has declared a public health emergency in Florida in advance of Hurricane Michael’s arrival, mobilizing federal medical assistance and opening the door for federally supported health care providers and suppliers to have greater flexibility in meeting emergency health needs.

The declaration, which came late Tuesday follows the formal federal emergency declaration by President Donald Trump.

“Hurricane Michael poses a significant threat to the health and safety of those in its path,” Azar stated in a news release. “These actions help ensure that our fellow Americans who rely on Medicare and Medicaid have continuous access to the care they need.”

The department already has staged about 125 professionals from the National Disaster Medical System and an incident management team, along with caches of medical equipment in Mobile, Ala., and Jacksonville, to quickly help state and local authorities respond.

Hurricane Michael, now an extremely dangerous category 4 storm, was 90 miles south-southwest of Apalachicola with 145 mph winds, at 7 a.m. Wednesday, expected to make landfall Wednesday afternoon south of Panama City.

In addition, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services coordinated to provide information to Florida health officials on the number of Medicare beneficiaries who rely on dialysis or use special medical equipment at home and the type of equipment, such as oxygen concentrators, in the potentially impacted areas. With this information, health and emergency management agencies can respond better, particularly after power outages, to save lives.

CMS also activated the Kidney Community Emergency Response Program to monitor dialysis access and needs of these facilities after the hurricane makes landfall. Through a CMS contract, this program provides technical assistance to End Stage Renal Disease Networks, kidney organizations, and other groups to ensure timely and efficient disaster preparedness, response and recovery for the kidney community.

To assist residents in the impacted area in coping with the stress of the disasters, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration activated the Disaster Distress Helpline. The helpline provides immediate crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters.

Florida Republicans begin replacement process for Dorothy Hukill

The Republican Party of Florida on Tuesday informed the Florida Department of State that it was beginning the process of selecting Sen. Dorothy Hukill’s replacement ahead of the November election for Senate District 14.

Hukill died Oct. 2, just days after announcing that she could no longer campaign due to a recurrence of cancer first diagnosed and treated last year. She was 72.

“It is with great sadness I inform you that due to the passing of Senator Dorothy Hukill, there now exists a vacancy in the nomination for the Republican Party in the 2018 General Election for the Florida Senate District 14 race,” RPOF Chair Blaise Ingoglia wrote in the letter. “Senator Hukill served our state with distinction and honor, and we will forever be grateful for her lasting impact on the lives of so many Floridians.”

“Upon your notification, the Republican Party of Florida will begin the process of designating a nominee for the District 14 race as outlined in section 100.111, Florida Statutes, and our internal party rules,” Ingoglia concluded.

Under state law, candidate vacancies after the primary elections have taken place “are required to be filled by committee nominations.” The law also states that “the ballots shall not be changed and the former party nominee’s name will appear on the ballot. Any ballots cast for the former party nominee will be counted for the person designated by the political party to replace the former party nominee.”

With Ingoglia’s letter, Florida Republicans have one week to decide on a new nominee. That responsibility will fall upon local Republican leaders in the Brevard- and Volusia-based district. The majority of SD 14 voters live in Volusia County and the panel that decides on Hukill’s replacement could tilt toward choosing a Volusia candidate if there is a lack of consensus early on in the nomination process.

Department of State spokeswoman Sarah Revell explained last week that since the ballots cannot be changed, “a notice would be provided to voters at the polls, and enclosed with any future vote-by-mail ballots.”

Brevard Republican State Committeeman Mike Thomas, Brevard Republican Executive Committee Chairman Rick Lacey and Brevard State Committeewoman Cheryl Lankes, each of whom will sit on the panel that decides Hukill’s replacement, told Dave Berman of Florida Today that there were more than a dozen candidates who had expressed interest in running for SD 14. Thomas also told the paper that a meeting was planned for Thursday evening to choose a nominee.

Brevard County names being floated for the job: Titusville City Councilman Matt Barringer, term-limited Rockledge Rep. Tom Goodson, RPOF regional director Margaret Goudelock, Republican precinct committeeman Brian Hodgers, Canaveral Port Authority Chairman and retired Coast Guard Adm. Wayne Justice, Republican precinct committeewoman Pam LaSalle, Republican district leader Cindy Roberts, Melbourne City Councilman Tim Thomas.

Possible candidates from Volusia County: Mims Republican Cindy Thompson, DeBary City Councilwoman Erika Benfield, former Deltona City Commissioner Zanaida Denizac, former Volusia County director of corrections Marilyn Ford and retired businessman Tommy Wright.

Also mentioned as a possible candidate is Seminole County Republican State Committeewoman Susie Dolan. Seminole County is not contained in SD 14, though Florida law does not require candidates live within the district they seek to represent until they are elected to office.

Hukill started her career in public service in 1992, when she was elected the Town of Ponce Inlet Council. She entered the Legislature as a member of the Florida House in 2004, and after four terms in office she moved up to the Florida Senate. Hukill was running against Cocoa Democrat Melissa “Mel” Martin, a retired U.S. Marine Corps major, in the general election.

SD 14 covers the southern half of Volusia County and the northern half of Brevard. It was one of the districts to see substantial changes after Florida courts approved new district maps at the end of 2015. Registered Republicans make up 39 percent of the electorate while registered Democrats make up 33 percent.

Mitt Romney carried SD 14 by 7 points in 2012, and in 2016 it voted plus-18 for Donald Trump. Hukill’s opponent two years ago was no-party candidate Richard Paul Dembinsky, whom she beat 68-32 on Election Day.

Michael Bloomberg, DGA boost Andrew Gillum’s fundraising

Democratic candidate for Governor Andrew Gillum raised more than $3.3 million through his political committee last week, receiving hefty support from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Democratic Governors Association and wealthy Democratic donors.

Bloomberg, who visited the Sunshine State over the weekend while reportedly exploring a 2020 presidential bid, cut a $250,000 check for Gillum’s committee, Forward Florida, according to the state Division of Elections.

Other big-ticket donations came from Democratic donor Marsha Laufer, of Manalapan, who chipped in $500,000, and the Barbara Stiefel Trust, which wrote a $100,000 check for the Tallahassee Mayor’s gubernatorial bid. The Democratic Governors Association chipped in $1 million, bringing its total investment in Gillum so far to $4 million.

With the latest committee report filing, Gillum has raised just shy of $20 million since his upset primary. Republican opponent Ron DeSantis, through his committee and campaign accounts, has raised more than $16 million since his primary victory against Republican Adam Putnam. That sum includes fundraising from the Florida Facts committee, which has run a series of televised attack ads against Gillum, but omits last week’s fundraising numbers, due Friday.

Also boosting Gillum’s fundraising numbers were law, real estate and capital management interests. Trial attorney firm Podhurst Orsteck cut Gillum’s committee a $100,000 check. Another firm, Edison Colson, chipped in $75,000.

Miami Beach development project 420 Lincoln Road, West Ventures, and Lakeland Residential Group combined for $100,000 last week, all from the same Miami Beach address.

Tallahassee braces for strongest storm ‘since 1894’

Emergency officials in Leon County are predicting Hurricane Michael will be the “strongest” and “most extreme” storm in decades to hit Florida’s capital city.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday in Tallahassee, county Emergency Management Director Kevin Peters said Hurricane Michael is nearly a Category 3 storm. He anticipates it will make landfall at that strength on Wednesday somewhere near Panama City.

Tropical storm force winds are expected in Leon County as early as 8 p.m., Peters said. He anticipates hurricane gusts will begin sometime around midday on Wednesday, lasting into the evening.

“Hurricane Michael is expected to be the strongest hurricane to hit our area of Florida since 1894,” said Peters.

Currently, local shelter space is open to the public at Chiles High School, Godby High School, SAIL high school, Lincoln High School and Fort Braden K-8. But more could open as the storm nears.

Joining Peters were local officials and lawmakers, including Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum. He emphasized preparation ahead of Tuesday evening, when conditions are expected to worsen.

“We can’t ‘exclamation mark’ and underscore the importance of this storm and storm preparation enough,” Gillum said.

Those not heeding warnings ahead of the storm, Gillum said, are making “those underestimations at their own risk.” He said the city is anticipating a “life-threatening” event and preparations should be completed before Tuesday night.

Emergency vehicles at the ready “cannot roll once the wind gets above 35 miles per hour,” Gillum said, meaning during the storm individuals “are their best first responder.”

Gillum implored the public to follow updates from the news media, as well as the city-owned platform.

The Democratic candidate for Governor did not speak on the state of his race against Republican Ron DeSantis. But while speaking with reporters earlier on Tuesday, Gillum addressed criticisms of his handling of Hurricane Hermine, which struck Tallahassee in 2016.

“I don’t expect that the power would’ve gotten on quicker after Hermine than when it did,” Gillum said. “We had 90 percent of folks back in power three days after the storm event.”

The Republican Party of Florida weaponized storm-related criticisms last week when it debuted two television ads attacking the Mayor’s post-Hermine response.

“Gillum refused help from workers,” one Tallahassee local charges in one of the spots. Adds another: “Gillum turned away workers who could have restored our power.”

After Hermine, Tallahassee officials said they did not “reject” offers of help from outside utilities in the wake of Hurricane Hermine, but rather just didn’t say “yes” to everyone right away.

And at the time, Gillum told Florida Politics he was in the dark about a formal offer by Florida Power & Light to help restore power after Hermine.

Gillum said later on Tuesday that the number of employees assisting the city-owned utility will be six-fold the usual.

One more week: Democrats sue to extend voter registration as hurricane looms

The Florida Democratic Party filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday to extend the Oct. 9 voter registration deadline by one week in areas to be affected by Hurricane Michael.

While Secretary of State Ken Detzner has already extended the deadline by a day via Directive 2018-03, that’s not enough for the FDP.

“Although the Secretary has proposed a single-day registration extension in some counties to accommodate a subset of voters affected by Hurricane Michael, his ‘solution’ is insufficient and confusing. It does not adequately protect the voting rights of Florida citizens who cannot register to vote by the October 9 registration deadline,” the lawsuit contends.

“Voters will face significant hurdles to registration because of the disruption caused by Hurricane Michael. Voters attempting to register online may face internet outages due to the storm,” the suit speculates.

“Thousands of eligible Florida voters who are complying with evacuation requests and preparing for the storm may not have the opportunity to register to vote as a result of Hurricane Michael. Governor Scott and Secretary Detzner have failed to adequately protect the rights of these eligible voters, and should extend the deadline one week in light of Hurricane Michael,” asserted FDP Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo.

As Tuesday progressed, state Rep. Amy Mercado and Carlos G. Smith and state Sen. Victor Torres released statements of support for the party’s stance.

“All that he is being asked to do is extend the voter registration deadline by one week, but so far Governor Scott is refusing to do the right thing,” Torres lamented.

Nikki Fried, the Democrats’ candidate for Agriculture Commissioner, drew parallels between this year and a hurricane that hit two years prior.

“We saw how a registration extension helped in 2016—over 100,000 Floridians registered to vote after the Hurricane, which hit during the first week of October. This situation is no different. Governor Scott should act, just as he did in 2016, and extend the voter registration deadline by one week,” Fried advised.

Thus far, there’s no indication that such action is imminent, pressure from Democrats and a group of left-leaning activist groups (“All Voting Is Local“) notwithstanding.

“Governor Scott is focused on keeping Floridians safe as a major hurricane rapidly approaches our state. Last night, the Governor directed the extension of the voter registration deadline for Supervisors of Elections who are forced to close because of Hurricane Michael. This means that each county will have the same amount of days to register voters,” asserted Scott spox John Tupps.

“The Governor believes that every eligible voter should be able to register to vote and Floridians can go online right now to do so. In fact, nearly 10,000 people have registered to vote online since midnight,” Tupps added.

Republican Party of Florida chair Blaise Ingoglia soon enough had the Governor’s back.

“It is absolutely reprehensible that the Florida Democrats would play political games on the eve of a potentially devastating hurricane, and waste taxpayer money by filing this lawsuit. Governor Scott’s administration has already issued an order to keep voter registration open an extra day to accept paper registrations in the areas affected by the storm,” Ingoglia maintained.

“Only an organization that is playing politics with people’s lives would ask for voter registration to be extended by a full week in this state’s most densely populated Democrat areas, almost nine hours and a time zone away. The Republican Party of Florida calls on Andrew Gillum and Bill Nelson to condemn this lawsuit and call it what it is…crony politics,” Ingoglia added.

We will update if such condemnations are issued by the Tallahassee Mayor or the U.S. Senator.

Of the state’s 67 counties, 35 are under a state of emergency. These include Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa. Walton, Holmes, Washington, Bay. Jackson, Calhoun, Gulf, Gadsden, Liberty, Franklin, Leon, Wakulla, Jefferson, Madison, Taylor, Hamilton, Suwannee, Lafayette, Dixie, Columbia, Gilchrist, Levy, Citrus, Bradford, Pasco, Hernando, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Alachua, Union and Baker.

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