2018 election Archives - Florida Politics

Outside spending tops $53 million in U.S. Senate race, boosting Bill Nelson

Spending by outside groups has reached more than $53 million in Florida’s U.S. Senate race, with groups supporting the re-election of Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson pouring it on.

The latest reports on independent expendiures posted by the Federal Election Commision shows outside groups now have spent $33.9 million to either support Nelson or oppose the U.S. Senate bid by Republican Gov. Rick Scott, while groups supporting Scott or opposing Nelson have spent $19.1 million.

The $53 million total is just shy of the $54 million record set for outside spending in a Florida U.S. Senate race, from 2016 when groups helped Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio get re-elected. The current figures run through Monday, with two weeks left in the election campaign.

The partisan spread of outside spending in the race now is 64 percent Democratic and 36 percent Republican, at least through Monday. Last week at this time, on Oct. 15, the $42 million total outside spending was favoring Democrats by a 60-40 margin. A week earlier, on Oct 8, the $25 million in outside money was favoring Democrats 59 to 41.

The latest blue surge in spending has been spread out over several groups, and does not include the $2.25 million that two environmental groups, the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund and the Environmental Defense Action Fund, announced Tuesday they were spending to attack Scott on red tides.

Among the leading spenders in the past week were Democratic-favoring political commiteees Priorities USA Action, For Our Future, AFT Solidariy, Black Progressive Action Coalition, and Center for Popular Democratic Action, which each kicked in betweeen $100,000 and $1 million for various advertising or field-operation support favoring Nelson.

The New Republican Political Action Committee, established by Scott to support his campaign, had, through Oct. 15, provided almost all of the outside spending supporting his U.S. Senate candidacy. But it spent very little money in the past week, just $18,000.

The top Republican groups coming to Scott’s aid in the past week were Americans for Prosperity Action and Susan B. Anthony List, but neither provided more than $100,000 during the week.

New Republic still is the leading outside spender in the race, having expended more than $16.8 million, mostly on television commercials for Scott. The Senate Majority PAC, which also announced more commercials Tuesday, still is the busiest Democratic  committee in the race, having spent $12 million through Monday. Priorities USA now has spent $7.3 million; the Democrats’ Majority Forward, $4.5 million; and the Democrats VoteVets, $3.8 million. Americans for Prosperity Action is the only other Republican-supporting committee that has spent more than $1 million in Florida’s U.S. Senate race; it’s up to $1.2 million.

Environmental groups’ ad batters Rick Scott on red tide

New players have entered the gathering of outside groups seeking to sway Florida voters in the U.S. Senate race, with two national environmental committees launching a TV commercial Tuesday battering Republican Gov. Rick Scott over Florida’s red tide plague.

The League of Conservation Voters Victory Fund and the Environmental Defense Action Fund announced Tuesday they are combining to put $2.25 million behind a new 30-second attack ad “Battered” launching Tuesday on Tampa, Fort Myers, and West Palm Beach TV, blaming Scott for the red tides that are killing marine life and fouling waters along both Florida coasts.

Scott, battling with Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson for the U.S. Senate seat up in the Nov. 6 election, has maintained that the terrible algae blooms behind the red tides are naturally occurring and that his administration is doing what it can, including funneling millions of dollars into research and relief efforts along the coasts this year.

But Democrats and many environmental groups, including the League of Conservation Voters and the Environmental Defense Fund, contend that Scott’s environmental policies and priorities have created conditions to exacerbate the red tides, this year among the worst ever.

The new TV commercial begins with clips of news reports about the red tides killing wildlife and hurting businesses, and a narrator declares, “Florida is being battered by red tides but Rick Scott still won’t take responsibility.”

Then the commercial digs in, citing Scott’s disclosures and news reports, and declaring, “Scott took over a million bucks from corporate polluters, and savaged environmental safeguards, slashing $700 million from water protection.”

The commercial ends with a commercial boat captain declaring he voted for Scott, “But he created this mess and now we’re the ones suffering.”

The ad is the latest several launched by various groups, plus Nelson’s own campaign, seeking to convince voters that Scott is to blame for the red tides.

Scott’s campaign has vigorously pushed back against such charges, arguing that under his leadership leadership, Florida passed major legislation to ensure the public is made aware within 24 hours of the release of any harmful substance; that he declared a state of emergency due to the impacts of red tide in August – and since has secured millions of dollars to help impacted communities.

Scott’s campaign also noted that scientists say that red tide is naturally occuring, particularly noting the statement from Mote Marine Lab President & CEO Dr. Michael Crosby early this month, who called blame of any individual naive and counter-productive.

“Sen. Nelson, however, has spent years talking about red tide in Washington. But when it came down to it, the Senator couldn’t even successfully reauthorize a NOAA algal research program… in the middle of an algae crisis. As a result, this federal this program is now at great risk of losing federal funding,” Scott’s campaign counter-charged.

The League of Conservation Voters Victory Fund has reported spending more than $7 million on various election campaigns this year, not including the expenditures now coming in on the Florida U.S. Senate race, according to the Center for Responsive Politics’ OpenSecrets website. So far, all of that money has gone to support Democrats or oppose Republicans. EDF Action, meanwhile, has spent far less money, at least through the latest reports summarized by the Center for Responsive Politics: $13,000 supporting Democrats, and $6,000 supporting Republicans.

They’re apparently picking up on a nickname that a Nelson TV commercial sought to give Scott last week.

“Floridians won’t be fooled by Red Tide Rick,” Pete Maysmith, LCV Victory Fund senior vice president for campaigns stated in a news release. “Rick Scott denies climate science and slashed environmental protections, contributing to the red tide crisis that’s devastating Florida business, killing wildlife and threatening families’ health. The environment is a top concern for Florida voters this election, and they need to know that Rick Scott is no environmentalist.”


Anna Eskamani clears $500K raised for HD 47 flip

Orlando Democrat Anna Eskamani has hit another major milestone in her bid to flip the seat held by exiting Republican state Rep. Mike Miller blue.

The Planned Parenthood exec and first-generation American has long been the fundraising leader in Orange County’s House District 47, and through Oct. 19 she said she had gathered more than $500,000 in support of her candidacy.

Eskamani’s new reports haven’t been uploaded to the Florida Division of Elections website, though she said in a Tuesday press release that she’s now raised $426,891 in hard money and another $73,850 in soft money through her affiliated political committee People Power for Florida.

“Our campaign is fueled by everyday people — Democrats, Republicans, and those with no party affiliation — who are ready to redefine politics in Florida, and elect a first time candidate that is vocal, authentic, and effective,” Eskamani said.

“We offer a compelling vision for the future of our state, one that is grounded in our passion for public education, environmental protection, health care access, and gun safety. As a first time candidate with no personal wealth, I am thrilled to have raised $500,000 and will continue to do my part in creating community, building leaders, and facilitating meaningful change,” she concluded.

Though her campaign didn’t list how much of that cash is still in the bank, Eskamani’s financial reports covering Oct. 6 through Oct. 12 showed her with about $63,000 banked between the two accounts.

Her general election opponent, Winter Park Republican Stockton Reeves, had amassed $237,551 through the same date and had $84,371 banked on Oct. 12. Eskamani’s mention of personal wealth may have been a jab at Reeve’s comparatively lackluster fundraising prowess — 40 percent of his bankroll has come from his own checking account.

The HD 47 contest has taken a negative turn in recent weeks as Reeves and the Florida GOP have slammed Eskamani as “unfit for office” based on her using a handful of four-letter words during public appearances.

Those incidents weren’t enough to scare off former President Barack Obama and Orlando mega attorney John Morgan from joining the 70-plus local leaders and orgs already lined up behind her House campaign. She has also brushed off the criticisms by putting out her own ads painting the campaign tactic as a sign of fear among “political insiders.”

HD 47 covers north-central Orange County and is vacant due to Miller opting to challenge Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy in Florida’s 7th Congressional District rather than seek another term in the state House.

The seat has a slim Democratic advantage in voter registrations and it was held by now-Democratic Sen. Linda Stuart before Miller edged her out by four points in the 2014 cycle. He followed that up with a 6-point win over Democrat Beth Tuura in 2016, when the seat voted plus-11 for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Election Day is Nov. 6.


Florida Retailers endorse five fresh faces for Florida Senate

The Florida Retail Federation on Tuesday endorsed five non-incumbent Republicans running for Florida Senate seats in November’s elections, including one who is looking to unseat an incumbent Democrat.

Among the five candidates getting the nod was Tommy Wright, the newly anointed nominee for Senate District 14. The New Smyrna Beach businessman was selected for the nomination after longtime lawmaker Dorothy Hukill died earlier this month at the age of 72.

FRF’s Tuesday announcement also reiterated its endorsement for former Clearwater Republican Rep. Ed Hooper, who is competing against former New Port Richey Democratic Rep. Amanda Murphy to take over the vacant SD 16. FRF originally endorsed Hooper, who faced a light challenge in the primary, back in early July.

“We’re excited about the positive impact these new candidates will have as senators in supporting Florida’s retail industry and encouraging business growth in our state,” said FRF president and CEO R. Scott Shalley. “Our team has met with each of these candidates, many of whom we’ve worked with in the past, and we feel confident they’ll have the best interests of our members and business owners at heart during their time in the Florida Senate.”

The other candidates earning an endorsement: Republican Rep. Ben Albritton, who is running to replace Sebring Sen. Denise Grimsley in SD 26; Hialeah Rep. Manny Diaz Jr., who is up against Democrat David Perez, a former firefighter, in SD 36; and Marili Cancio, who is looking to oust first-term Democratic Sen. Annette Taddeo in SD 40.

Of the five candidates, Albritton and Wright are running in two of the friendliest districts for GOP candidates — Trump carried both seats by double digits two years ago.

Hooper, meanwhile, is in a dogfight with Murphy while Diaz is running in a district that has favored down-ballot Republicans but went plus-14 for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Cancio’s bid may be the hardest, however, with Taddeo having the both the benefit of incumbency.

The new batch of FRF Senate endorsements follows the trade group’s bulk endorsement of Senate incumbents last week. Making that list: Republican Sens. Dennis BaxleyAaron BeanGeorge GainerTom LeeKathleen PassidomoKeith PerryWilton SimpsonKelli Stargel, and Dana Young, as well as Democratic Sen. Bobby Powell.

Election Day is Nov. 6.

Soderberg ad

New ad touts Nancy Soderberg’s bipartisan approach to healthcare

Fresh off a strong fundraising quarter, former U.S. Ambassador Nancy Soderberg is out with a new ad touting her healthcare priorities in the race for Florida’s 6th Congressional District.

The new ad, “Afford,” features one of the St. Augustine Democrat’s would-be constituents, Kay, explaining why she left the Republican Party to cast a ballot for Soderberg in August and is planning to support her again in November.

“I’m a schoolteacher and was a lifelong Republican. My uncle was even the Orange County campaign coordinator for [Ronald] Reagan. But this election, I can’t support Mike Waltz for Congress,” Kay says in the ad. “Because his healthcare plan would cost us more, including higher premiums for millions and eliminating protections for pre-existing conditions. So that’s why I’m supporting Nancy Soderberg for Congress. Nancy will work with Republicans and Democrats and make sure our health care is affordable.”

Soderberg’s campaign didn’t detail the media buy backing up the new ad, though filings with the Federal Communications Commission show numerous TV buys made by the campaign in the past week.

Soderberg and Waltz are competing for the Congressional seat recently vacated by Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis. A recent internal poll circulated by the Soderberg campaign showed her and Waltz tied at 45 percent support apiece with 9 percent of voters undecided.

CD 6 covers parts of St. Johns, Putnam, Flagler and Volusia counties on Florida’s Atlantic coast. President Donald Trump won CD 6 by 17 points two years ago while DeSantis, who held the seat for three terms, won re-election by 17 points.

The Cook Political Report and Larry Sabato both rate CD 6 as “likely Republican,” while Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight has moved the race into the “lean Republican” category. Their forecasting model currently expects Waltz to win 52-48 in November, though it gives Soderberg a two in seven chance of flipping the seat.

Soderberg’s new ad is below.

In dueling ads Rick Scott, Democrats battle to define him on pre-existing conditions

After being hammered on the campaign trail about mixed messages regarding health care coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions, Gov. Rick Scott is releasing a new Republican U.S. Senate television commercial Tuesday declaring emphatically that he supports such coverage, and that for him it’s very personal.

Meanwhile, Democrats are releasing their own commercial on the same subject, seeking to define Scott’s position on pre-existing conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, and epilepsy, through Florida’s participation in a federal lawsuit seeking to throw out the federal mandate that states require insurance companies to not discriminate against people with such conditions.

In Scott’s new 30-second ad launching Tuesday, “It’s Personal,” he and his campaign seek to put to rest any confusion about his own position. He talks about how his brother Roger Scott suffered from pre-existing medical problems, and what family struggles mean to the Governor today. The discussion comes with simple video of Scott staring into the camera, plus some shots of his family, and a black-and-white picture of Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, the man he’s battling in the Nov. 6 election.

“I want to tell you about a family with a pre-existing health condition. They grew up in public housing, rarely saw a doctor. One of the kids had a hip disease. Their mom would drive 200 miles to a charity hospital to get him treatment. That was my family growing up,” Scott states.

Then he stares into the camera and declares his support.

“I support forcing insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions. For Sen. Nelson, it’s just another political issue. But for me, it’s personal,” Scott says.

Democrats extend no credence for such declarations, which Scott has made repeatedly, in other ways, responding to Democrats’ previous assertions that he doesn’t support mandated, non-discriminatory health insurance coverage for pre-existing medical conditions.

A new commercial from the Senate Majority Political Action Committee, the group leading the national Democrats’ efforts to support Nelson’s re-election campaign and oppose Scott’s campaign, ignores Scott’s personal assurances and makes reference to the lawsuit fight, joined by Attorney General Pam Bondi and supported by Scott’s administration.

Scott has stated that while he supports coverage in Florida for pre-existing conditions, he is opposed to the federal government, through the Affordable Care Act, mandating that all states do so.

SMP’s new commercial, “My Life” declares that for Scott it’s about his commitment to partisan politics, in this case, Republicans’ broad opposition to the ACA’s pre-existing conditions mandate.

In the 30-second commercial launching Tuesday, cancer survivor Donna Morton lays into Scott, images move from her, to her family, to Scott, including a shot of the Governor standing behind President Donald Trump.

“Governor Scott, I survived bilateral breast cancer. But only because I had health insurance. Without it, I’d be dead and my children wouldn’t have a mother,” Morton says. “You supported letting insurance companies gut protections for people with pre-existing conditions. And that’s why I will never support you. You put your political party over doing what’s right. Mr. Scott, this may be just politics to you. But to me, it’s my life.”

Caruso Bonfiglio

Ethics complaint filed against Mike Caruso in increasingly contentious HD 89 race

Ocean Ridge Mayor Jim Bonfiglio has filed a complaint alleging Republican opponent Mike Caruso for violating a half-dozen campaign laws, including those that govern “in-kind” contributions and the proper filing of campaign finance reports.

In a letter sent to the Florida Elections Commission, Bonfiglio pointed to a recent Florida Politics article outlining the Delray Beach Republican’s contentious relationship with the Bermuda High West Beach & Tennis Club and his use of its facilities as an unofficial campaign headquarters during the primary election season.

In an April 2018 letter from the club to candidate, club president William Green said Caruso’s “guests and campaign associates completely occupied the Club … the Club was congested with filming equipment which hindered the use for other members.”

When that violation and two others led to Caruso and his wife, Tracey, getting a six-month ban from club grounds, a spokesman for Caruso said the campaign had no comment on the matter.

Still, the behaviors described by Green indicate Caruso was receiving improper campaign benefits by not placing a valuation on his use of the club’s property on his campaign finance reports. Additionally, Tracey Caruso appears to be the membership holder and there are no records of “in-kind” contributions coming from her either.

The lack of disclosure could prove troublesome for Caruso as his campaign shelled out more than $9,000 for photography and video production services around the same time he was cited for crowding out fellow members with camera equipment.

Unlike the Spike Lee joints of yesteryear, campaigns can’t get away with guerrilla filmmaking and must instead pony up fair market value for the use of a location for video and photo shoots. If no money is exchanged, the campaign must mark it down as an “in-kind” contribution from the venue.

Bonfiglio seized on those questionable practices in his letter, saying that his opponents use of the club for campaign purposes was a clear violation of state campaign finance law.

“Members of the Club must pay a fee to the Club for the use of this property and Caruso paid no such fee,” Bonfiglio wrote. “Either Caruso paid a rental fee for this property and failed to disclose the expenditure, or the rental fee was waived as an in-kind contribution by the Club and Caruso failed to disclose the contribution.”

If the latter scenario proves true, Bonfiglio wrote, it would be a violation of chapter 166.055 Florida Statutes.

The law reads as follows: “Any person who makes an in-kind contribution shall, at the time of making such contribution, place a value on such contribution, which valuation shall be the fair market value of such contribution. Travel conveyed upon private aircraft shall be valued at the actual cost of per person commercial air travel for the same or a substantially similar route.”

The Democratic nominee closes out his complaint by taking a page from the centuries-old doctrine of “falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus,” meaning that if Caruso, an accountant, is cooking the books to hide one transgression, it’s likely he’s obfuscating quite a few more.

“This also causes great concern as to how many other contributions of similar types Caruso has failed to disclose and report, or how many expenditures Caruso has made without disclosing them,” Bonfiglio wrote before urging the FEC to start an expedited investigation into the alleged violations.

Bonfiglio and Caruso are competing for HD 89, which covers coastal portions of Palm Beach County and is one of the few dots of red within the traditionally Democratic area. The district is currently held by term-limited Republican Rep. Bill Hager.

HD 89 was one of only six districts in the entire state to flip from voting for Mitt Romney in 2012 to supporting Hillary Clinton in 2016, according to an analysis by MCI Maps and in 2018 the race between Bonfiglio and Caruso is considered to be a potential flip.

Election Day is Nov. 6.

Mark Kelly proclaims progress in gun law campaign

Former astronaut and retired U.S. Navy Capt. Mark Kelly, who started a gun law reform political action committee “Giffords PAC” with his wife, Democratic former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, after she was shot in a 2011 assassination attempt, said in Orlando Monday night that believes he has seen the country’s and Florida’s political mood moving toward reforms.

Kelly, speaking at the University of Central Florida with several Democrats that his group has endorsed, recalled the mood before and in the first years after Giffords was shot by a gunman who also shot 18 others at her rally, killing six, and how that has evolved after the subsequent massacres at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, Las Vegas, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

“It took a change of politics, which has happened, right? You go back to 2009, even the Democrats didn’t want to do anything on this. There were no meaningful pieces of legislation that were debated on the floor of the House and the Senate. Really nothing,” Kelly said.

Kelly said the mood has changed in Washington to the point where Winter Park’s Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy drew bipartisan support for her effort to end the 22-year ban on gun violence research and got it signed into law. And he said the mood has changed in Tallahassee to where Republican Gov. Rick Scott and Republican leaders in the Legislature shepherded through Senate Bill 7026, the Marjory Stoneman High School Public Safety Act, bringing in gun law reforms Kelly praised Monday.

“Look what happened after the Pulse nightclub shooting. We’d been working on this for five years. Pulse was two years ago. So after about three years, it got to the point where even then,” no one in Congress wanted to talk about gun law reform, Kelly said. “Look what [Georgia’s Democratic U.S. Rep.] John Lewis did after Pulse. They had a sit in on the floor of the House of Representatives because they wanted some meaningful legislation.”

Kelly’s intention Monday at UCF was largely partisan, to encourage more political activism and to promote the election candidates who support Giffords’ organization and its political action committee agenda, which includes regulating semi-automatic weapons and requiring universal background checks for gun purchases.

“The problem is, we’ve got to get the leadership. So, you’ve either got to change [Republican House Speaker] Paul Ryan‘s mind and change [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell‘s mind, which probably isn’t going to happen, or you’ve got to flip control of the House and Senate,” he said.

Kelly was joined Monday night by three Democratic candidates his group has endorsed: Murphy, who is running for re-election against Republican state Rep. Mike Miller in Florida’s 7th Congressional District, covering Seminole County and north and central Orange County including UCF; state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, who is running for re-election against Republican Ben Griffin in Florida House District 49, covering northeast Orange County including UCF; and Anna Eskamani, who is running against Republican Stockton Reeves for the open seat in Florida House District 47, covering north and central Orange County.

Murphy, too, spoke of change in mood, and she credited the activism of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students for helping bring that about. She cited her bill seeking to end the ban on federal support for gun violence research which drew zero interest from Republicans and consequently was dead from the start, and “it was after Parkland happened that Republicans started joining on to the bill. I got Republican co-sponsors.

“It moved it right into negotiations for the budget. And because we were able to demonstrate Republican support in addition to Democratic support, we were able to get that bill inserted, language similar, inserted into the appropriations bill, the budget bill,” she said. “So I think that is an indication that there are Republicans willing to have a common sense gun safety conversation.”

felon voting rights (Large)

Voter restoration amendment backers spend another $1.8M on ads

The committee sponsoring the “Voting Restoration Amendment,” which would restore voting rights to Florida felons who have completed their sentences, spent more than $1.8 million of its reserves pushing the proposal on the airwaves, online and via direct mail between Oct. 6 and Oct. 12.

Floridians for a Fair Democracy, which led the drive to get Amendment 4 on the ballot, received just $113,600 in contributions during the weekly reporting period with nearly all of it coming in via a $100,000 check from ex-hedge fund manager Michael Novogratz.

The bulk of the action in the new report was found on its expenditure sheet, which showed nearly $1.81 million in spending. Topping the ledger was a $1 million media buy through Screen Strategies Media, followed by a $400,000 digital ad buy through Mercury Public Affairs and another $400,000 payment for direct mailers from Mission Control.

The $1.8 million spent by Floridians for a Fair Democracy was augmented by nearly $150,000 worth of “in-kind” contributions, including a $112,000 digital ad buy from ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s, which has been pitching in on the Amendment 4 effort for weeks, and another $11,000 or so in printing via Organize Florida.

Floridians for a Fair Democracy set up shop in 2014 but didn’t begin raising money in earnest until after the 2016 general election. Since then, it has reeled in more than $17.7 million in contributions, with about a quarter of those funds coming from the American Civil Liberties Union.

The committee had $3.58 million left in the tank on Oct. 12.

Overall, there are about 1.7 million convicted felons in the Sunshine State. Amendment 4 would restore voting rights to the vast majority of those individuals with the only carveouts being felons convicted of sex offenses or murder. Constitutional amendments must earn 60 percent of the vote to pass, and recent polling shows Amendment 4 on track to pass with 71 percent support.

The current voting rights restoration system requires felons to wait up to seven years after their conviction to apply for restoration, which is handled on a case-by-case basis by the Governor and Cabinet.

Election Day is Nov. 6.

Vern Buchanan sees brighter outlook in Tampa Bay Times, kind words in Tempo News

https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2018-midterm-election-forecast/house/florida/16/Republican U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan breathed a sigh of relief as the Tampa Bay Times moved him out of the “vulnerable” category. That happened just as a black community newspaper in the area hit stands praising Buchanan and calling Democratic challenger David Shapiro problematic.

The Times today issued new rankings on important Congressional contests in the 2018 election cycle. As of now, the newspaper lists six seats—all held by Republicans—as vulnerable to a flip.

Not among them, Buchanan’s 16th Congressional District.

“A string of recent polls has showed Buchanan ahead by a comfortable margin, including an 11-point margin in a University of North Florida poll,Louis Jacobsen writes.

Though Shapiro has shown considerable slippage in the polls, his chances on winning election according to political forecasting website FiveThirtyEight have remained relatively unchanged in the “Likely Republican” district. As of Monday, Shapiro had a 1 in 6 chance of flipping the seat with the projected vote working out to 53-37 percent, advantage Buchanan.

Shapiro racked up national endorsements and forward momentum as Buchanan came under scrutiny for buying a yacht as the tax cut bill passed. New national staff also flew to the Sarasota area district to aid Shapiro.

But last week, the Democratic Congressional Campaign pulled significant ad buys in the region, and while officials there say they remain committed to Shapiro, the move undermined the challenger. The ads were pulled alongside Shapiros announcement that he had raised $1 million in the Q3, doubling up on Buchanan’s effort.

Notably, the Times endorsed Shapiro over Buchanan earlier this month.

Meanwhile, the Republican was surprised with a front-page story in Tempo News, a black newspaper published in Sarasota and owned by Republican Johnny Hunter.

“The Vern Buchanan that is being demonized in television ads is not the Vern Buchanan I know,” reads an unsigned piece on Tempo above the fold. “The Vern Buchanan I know is a philanthropist.”

The paper praised Buchanan for elevating black managers at his car dealerships.

But the paper also dogged Shapiro over a controversy involving his son posting messages with the “n-word.”

“It’s true one can’t really blame all the actions of a son or daughter on the parent, but in reality, the fruit doesn’t fall too far from the tree,” the piece reads. “Is there positive history on the side of David Shapiro with the African American community? I can’t honestly say I know of any.”

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