2018 election Archives - Page 6 of 157 - Florida Politics
Rick Scott and Bill Nelson

St. Pete Polls: Bill Nelson up 2 on Rick Scott

A new survey from St. Pete Polls shows Florida’s U.S. Senate race still airtight and within the margin of error, with Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson grabbing 49 percent and Republican Gov. Rick Scott 47 percent.

The latest poll, taken Tuesday and Wednesday, shows the same demographic trends that have appeared in surveys throughout the campaign, with Nelson doing better among independent voters, women, voters of color, and younger voters, while Scott’s support is based on white voters, men, and older voters.

It also shows Nelson leading handily among voters who already have cast their ballots. Among those who’ve voted, Nelson leads 53 percent to 45 percent, according to the new St. Pete Poll on Florida’s U.S. Senate race. Scott’s campaign’s hope is based on those who say they still intend to vote; among those, he leads, 50 percent to 45 percent, according to the new survey.

The poll shows an almost three-point swing in Nelson’s direction since the last St. Pete Polls survey of the race, which had Scott up by less than one point on Oct. 22.

The poll was conducted of 2,470 voters interviewed through an automated phone call polling system, with the results weighted to account for proportional differences in demographics of political party, race, age, gender, and media market.

The 2-point advantage for Nelson is the same as the poll’s reported margin of error: 2 percent.

It’s also the same as the running average of recent polls tracked by RealClearPolitics.com: 2 percent. In the last 10 polls tracked by that organization, including this one and the previous St. Pete Polls survey, Nelson has been leading in seven and Scott in two, with one poll showing an absolute tie.

The overall finding: The race still is too close to call, though it leans toward Nelson.

Among the break-outs, Nelson is leading among independent voters by 50 percent to 45 percent; black voters, 76 to 16; Hispanic voters, 54 to 42; and women, 51 to 45, Nelson also has majorities of support among voters younger than 30 and in the 30-49 age bracket.

Scott leads among white voters by 56 percent to 42 percent; leads among men, 50 to 47; has a slight lead among voters in the 50-69 age bracket, and a solid majority among voters age 70 or older.

Each candidate is receiving 79 percent support within his own party.

Nelson Scott Blue

Rick Scott PAC spends $10M on last-minute media blitz

New filings with the Federal Elections Commission show New Republican PAC, the political committee backing Gov. Rick Scott’s Senate bid, has pumped nearly $10 million into media buys since the end of last week.

A trio of 24-hour finance disclosures show Scott’s committee put down more than $900,000 for a media placement opposing his Democratic rival, incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, on Friday. Filings uploaded Wednesday show the committee followed that up with another slate of media buys totaling $8.78 million this week.

Those seven-figure reports, combined with some smaller ones, indicate the committee has spent nearly $10 million since the end of last week.

At the end of the pre-general election reporting period, New Republican PAC had raised more than $19.75 million and had spent more than $18.5 million of that cash. The most recent of the committee’s 24-hour reports show it has now spent $29.5 million during the 2018 election cycle.

The committee spending spree is separate from Scott’s $66 million-plus in hard money expenditures. The campaign account got another boost on Oct. 22. when the term-limited Governor’s whipped out his checkbook to put another $7.5 million of his own money on the line. He followed that up with a $3.8 million check last Wednesday

Since entering the Senate race in April, Scott has put north of $54 million of his personal wealth behind his campaign. His campaign account reports nearly $11.6 million in fundraising since Oct. 16, including the candidate contributions.

Nelson, meanwhile, had raised $26.6 million for his re-election account as of Oct. 17, with another $920,000-plus coming in since that report was filed.

Candidates are only required to report contributions over $200 in their 24-hour and 48-hour finance reports, so Scott and Nelson’s totals during the final days of the race could be significantly higher.

After leading for most of the race, Scott has ceded some ground to Nelson in the polls, most of which show the third-term Senator ahead by a hair.

The current polling average complied by RealClearPolitics gives Nelson a 2-point lead over Scott, while FiveThirtyEight is giving the incumbent a 5-in-7 chance to hang on. The FiveThirtyEight model projects Nelson will win re-election by a 4-point margin on Tuesday.

Vern Buchanan and David Shapiro - CD 16

Vern Buchanan primed to survive unprecedented negative assault in CD 16

Despite being outspent and hammered by PACs on everything from health care votes to yacht purchases, U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan appears primed to stave off a challenge from Democratic attorney David Shapiro in Florida’s 16th.

The polls have been clear for quite a while. October polls have shown Buchanan with a growing, outside-the-margin lead: St. Pete Polls found the Republican lawmaker up by a touchdown at the start of the month, a far cry from the quixotic internals Shapiro was touting shortly after his primary victory.

Since June, national Democrats and outside groups — or “dark money” groups, according to the Buchanan campaign — such as Floridians for a Fair Shake have dumped millions into Shapiro’s bid to knock off Buchanan, an unprecedented barrage to be sure.

But Buchanan’s district has started to coalesce behind their longtime Congressman as Shapiro’s operation has seemingly capsized, squandering what momentum it managed to build in the wake of yacht-gate.

From his offspring’s off-color comments, to news of the DCCC yanking their TV buys in CD 16 overshadowing his otherwise stellar fundraising haul, the iron’s been unkind to Shapiro — and he’s not blameless.

Taking the bait and making the voguish “No-Nancy Pelosi-for-Speaker” pledge has worked for some, but it’s probably a poison pill for those looking to get some party money.

The tight ship at Buchanan HQ offers a stark contrast to the fourth quarter flop by Team Shapiro.

Unlike Shapiro’s solecism in the speaker race, Buchanan didn’t lean into the yacht attacks nor did the campaign backtrack on his votes for the GOP tax bill, despite its mixed reception among his electorate.

Instead, the campaign pounded the pavement and kept their focus on some of the more bipartisan ventures Buchanan has made during his time in DC, pitching him as an “independent leader” fighting for solutions to combat the opioid epidemic and other woes facing the Sunshine State.

That’s not to say Buchanan didn’t land some body blows — his campaign hammered Shapiro early and often over his investment portfolio including some stocks of big pharma companies, major polluters and gun companies. The incumbent pitched those investments (included in ETFs, to be fair) as flying in the face of Shapiro’s campaign platform, namely his commitments to environmental protection, gun control and a crackdown on opioids.

Buchanan was also able to dig up some financial disclosure drama of their own, finding Shapiro had violated reporting rules by failing to disclose his ownership of a Colorado rental condo, right on the heels of Shapiro’s admission he’d omitted some in-kind contributions on his finance reports.

After Shapiro’s early wins made CD 16 look like it could be in play, most forecasters have taken note of the momentum shift and put the district right back where it started: “Likely Republican.”

As it stands, Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight sees Buchanan’s re-election as a near certainty, giving him a 6-in-7 chance of earning a seventh term with the final spread expected to come in at 53-47.

Election Day is Nov. 6.

Bernie Sanders calls on college generation to vote their values

Declaring that he believes them to be the most progressive generation in history, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders told a rally of University of Central Florida students Wednesday that the future is in their hands.

“I happen to believe that the younger generation of America today is the most progressive generation in the history of America,” Sanders said. “You should be very proud of that. You should be proud that you are leading our country in opposition to racism, oppsition to sexism, in opposition to homophobia, in opposition to religious bigotry, and unlike the president of the United States, you know that climate change is real.”

Yet while many polls and social surveys back that up, Sanders and the Democrat he came to promote, Florida gubernatorial nominee Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and everyone else knows that the younger generation also, normally, is the least impactful in elections.

On Wednesday about 400 people, mostly students, filled half the floor and a smattering of seats at the UCF CFE arena, a crowd less than half of the one that came the last time Sanders came to UCF to campaign for Gillum in August. That rousing crowd, which also heard Gillum speak, was perhaps the first major signal that the long-shot Gillum had a real chance to win the Aug. 28 Democratic primary.

Wednesday’s crowd, though drawn by a rally announcement that came just hours before the rally itself, was far short of that. Sanders and the warm-up speakers, who included Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Chris King Democratic attorney general candidate Sean Shaw, state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, and Florida House nominee Anna Eskamani, all laid into the students to vote their progressive values. Afterwards, Smith even led a march from the arena to UCF’s early voting site.

“You are a great and wonderful generation,” Sanders said. “But let me again be very blunt with you about our ideas about economic justice and social justice and environmental justice and racial justice. They don’t mean anything unless participate in the political prociess, unless you come out to vote.”

While Sanders talked briefly about Gillum, he spent much of his speech focusing on issues that he could talk about from a national perspective such as climate change, criminal justice reform, and combating injustice.

It was left largely to Shaw to frame statewide issues, and he framed them as the things that are on the ballot Nov. 6, and to King to go after Gillum’s rival, Republican former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis.

Poll: Andrew Gillum 45%, Ron DeSantis 44%

A new poll from Suffolk University is finding a near dead-heat in Florida’s gubernatorial election, with Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum getting 45 percent and Republican former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis 44 percent.

With a 4.4 percent margin of error among the likely election voters surveyed, the race is a toss-up a week out from Election Day.

The same poll found similar results in Florida’s U.S. Senate race, with Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson holding 45 percent and Republican Gov. Rick Scott 43 percent.

“Both the U.S. Senate and governor’s races will come down to get-out-the-vote operations on Election Day because both races are too close to call,” a statement from the Suffolk University/USA TODAY Network poll declared.

The survey used live interviews via cellphones and landlines of 500 voters who said they already have voted or intend to vote, and was conducted from last Thursday through Sunday.

The Suffolk poll continues the running consensus of polls in recent weeks that have the Democrats slightly on top, leading by one or two or three points in almost every survey, but all within the margins of error. RealClearPolitics.com, which tracks more than a dozen Florida polls, is giving Gillum a running 3 point advantage in the poll consensus, and Nelson a 2 point advantage.

As in other polls in recent weeks, the Suffolk poll found both Gillum and Nelson with strong leads among women voters and younger voters, and an overwhelming lead among black voters. DeSantis and Scott have solid advantages among men, older voters, and white voters.

Unlike in most previous polls, DeSantis and Scott also found slight edges among independent voters in the Suffolk poll.

Voters said their top issues in the governor’s race are the economy (22 percent), health care (20 percent), education (19 percent), taxes (12 percent), corruption (8 percent), and gun control (7 percent).

As for gun control, the Suffolk poll found a solid majority of voters wanting to see a ban on assault-style rifles such as the AR-15s used in many of the mass shootings, including at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February and at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub in 2016. The survey found 56 percent want the next governor to move to ban semi-automatic weapons, while 34 percent were opposed and 10 percent undecided. Among gun-owning households in the Sunshine State, 43 percent support the move to ban the weapons, Suffolk reported.

amendment 3

Jamie Shelton: Amendment 3 is a shameless attempt to dupe voters

This year’s ballot is full of proposed Constitutional amendments — some arguably good, and some bad.  A contender for the worst among the bunch: Amendment 3.  It is very misleading, and we urge voters not to be fooled.

Upon casual inspection, Amendment 3 does not seem terrible. It purports to let voters decide whether the state expands gambling in any way, in any community and only by a citizen-led initiative. However, what it doesn’t mention is that Amendment 3 only empowers its large, special interest sponsors who stand to personally profit.

The leading supporters behind the Amendment are not exactly ordinary people of Florida—in fact, it’s the Seminole Indian Tribe and another wealthy Florida special interest group, who are both eager for the tribe to hold a monopoly on gambling in the state. Instead of putting “voters in charge,” as the amendment’s supporters claim, it would in fact rewrite the Florida Constitution to protect the tribe’s interests and line their pockets.

It’s understandable that there are folks who do not want gambling in their community. That is why the current process empowers communities to work with their local leaders to determine if, where and how gaming is allowed to occur as one size does not fit all. If approved, Amendment 3 would undercut the ability for local governments and communities to make their own decisions. Even if a local community overwhelmingly wanted additional gaming, the Legislature would be prohibited from abiding by the will of local voters. Instead, the local community would need to put it up for a statewide vote and persuade 60% of Florida voters — from every corner of the state — a costly and expensive process that ironically is often driven more by special interests than anything else. Simply put, why should voters in one corner of the state be able to tell people in another part of the state what they can or cannot do?

We realize gambling isn’t for everyone. Even those who aren’t in favor of gambling stand to lose if Amendment 3 is passed. If approved, we all suffer and so will the education of our children. It would put at risk hundreds of millions of dollars over the next few years which contributes directly to our public education system in Florida. Florida already faces well-documented challenges with education funding — Amendment 3 would make those problems worse. Legalized gambling throughout our state provides hundreds of millions in funding annually. If controlled only by the Seminole Tribe, that amount reduces dramatically.

If Amendment 3 passes, there will be the loss of hundreds of jobs (average salary of $50,000 plus health care benefits) in our community because of the tribe’s ability to control gambling throughout Florida.

Finally, other than negating local control, loss of local jobs, and potentially taking massive amounts of money out of our education system, Amendment 3 also removes the only real leverage the State of Florida has in ensuring that the Seminole Tribe continues revenue sharing pursuant to the gaming compact passed in 2011. Without competitive gaming, Floridians lose the ability to negotiate with the Tribe and enforce the current compact. In the end, that means that the state of Florida will lose additional hundreds of millions of dollars of critical tax dollars in future years funded by gaming establishment established before the Seminole Tribe created casinos in Florida.

Floridians should not be fooled by the false promise of “empowerment”, and instead vote NO on Amendment 3. That’s what we intend to do.

— The Honorable Greg Anderson

— The Honorable Daniel Becton

— The Honorable Lori Boyer

— The Honorable John Crescimbeni

— The Honorable Terrance Freeman

— The Honorable Reginald Gaffney

— The Honorable Bill Gulliford

— The Honorable Tommy Hazouri

— The Honorable Jim Love

— The Honorable Sam Newby

— The Honorable Ju’Coby Pittman

— The Honorable Matt Schellenberg

— The Honorable Randy White

— The Honorable Scott Wilson


Jamie Shelton is the president of bestbet.

Marsy’s Law launches another round of victims’ rights ads for Amendment 6

The group pushing to have crime victims’ rights detailed in the Florida Constitution through the Amendment 6 proposal is launching another round of four TV commercials featuring stories of crime victims and State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle of Miami-Dade County.

In one of the commercials, Laura DeHarde, an abuse victim from Coral Springs, explains how isolated she felt at the trial of her alleged abuser. “I was not notified of the court hearings. I was not notified of all the plea deals that they were trying to set up. Every victim should know that they have these rights up-front,” DeHarde says.

The quartet of 30-second TV ads are among about a dozen that Marsy’s Law for Florida has aired this fall pushing Amendment 6, which would detail a list of crime victims’ rights in the Florida Constitution. The group, which put up $30 million for its Florida campaign,  was created by a national group pursuing “Marsy’s Law” victims rights laws much like those adopted in California and other states. The effort is pushed for by the family of Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas, a California college student murdered in 1983.

Opponents of Amendment 6, including the Florida Public Defenders Association and the League of Women Voters, argue that much of what is portrayed in the Marsy’s Law ads already is on the books as law in Florida, including in the Constitution, and that the amendment would go too far, actually, eroding time-honored suspects’ rights’ traditions.

Fernandez Rundle, state attorney for Florida’s 11th Judicial Circuit, disagrees with the opponents in the commercial she made for Marsy’s Law for Florida.

“Amendment 6 is an opportunity for every Floridian to stand up, to speak up, to say, ‘Victims have rights. They should be protected. They should be in our Constitution, and we should be on equal footing with those that victimize,'” she says in her commercial.

The other two new commercials feature the stories of Aleta Jarrett of Tallahassee, whose father and brother were murdered; and Jo-Lee Manning of St. Augustine, whose daughter was murdered. “I felt like I had to be my own advocate,” Manning says of her experience in seeking justice for her daughter Haley Smith.

The Amendment 6 proposal was created by Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission, which bundled the Marsy’s Law provisions with two other proposed changes of law in Florida unrelated to victims’ rights.

If approved by at least 60 percent of the voters in the Nov. 6 election, Amendment 6 also would raise the mandatory retirement age of Florida judges, including Supreme Court justices, to 75, from 70; and it would revise how courts are permitted to interpret Florida law, forbidding judges from deferring to state agencies’ own interpretations as the default legal interpretation.

Hispanic Leadership Fund launching ads supporting Rick Scott

The Hispanic Leadership Fund is launching two radio and digital advertisements — one in English and one in Spanish — in support of Gov. Rick Scott‘s Republican candidacy for the U.S. Senate.

The ads declare that Scott understands how hard Hispanics work and that is why he has been working so hard to support them. It extolls Scott’s jobs creation record in Florida — more than 1.5 million new jobs in eight years — and dismisses his opponent, Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, as an “out-of-touch career Washington politician.” It does not name Nelson.

Hispanic Leadership Fund was founded in 2008 as a “center-right non-partisan national Latino advocacy organization governed exclusively by Latino political and public policy professionals,” according to its website. It is placing the ads on multiple platforms throughout the state. According to the Center for Responsive Politics’ OpenSecrets.com website, the organization has received the bulk of its money from the LIBRE Initiative Trust, an organization affiliated with Americans for Prosperity.

“Hispanic constituents and voters deserve to know who is implanting policies that help our communities grow and which candidate is providing opportunities for families to achieve the American Dream,” HLF President Mario H. Lopez stated in a news release. “There is no question that the jobs Rick Scott has helped create as Governor in Florida have been a benefit to Hispanics and to all communities in Florida.”

The English ad declares, “As a successful businessman, Rick Scott knows how to create jobs better than out-of-touch career politicians. Those jobs help us care for our families, buy a house, start a business, pay for health care, or get a college degree.” The Spanish ad says the same.

“Thank him for helping Hispanics achieve the American Dream,” it concludes.

Barzee Flores

Could Mary Barzee Flores be 2018’s sleeper upset?

Will moderate Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo succumb to a Blue Wave? Will Democrat, Donna Shalala actually lose a seat that went plus-20 for Hillary in ‘16?

While those questions get hashed and rehashed by the media and those of us in The Process, a third Miami congressional seat appears to be breaking late, setting up the potential for an upset that would be earth shattering to South Florida politics.

Former Judge Mary Barzee Flores exited the CD27 Democratic primary abruptly on the last day of filing to throw her hat in against incumbent Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart in Florida’s 25th Congressional District. It’s a tough district for a Democrat, to be sure. Republicans outnumbered Dems on the basis of both registration and turnout, and the incumbent is from a political dynasty that’s a household name among Miami Cubans.

But while Shalala and Debbie Marcusel-Powell fight their higher-profile battles in the 27th and 26th, Barzee Flores is quietly building the momentum in the 25th.

Today brought more good news for Barzee Flores, with the endorsement of former VPOTUS and working-class hero, Joe Biden. But aside from Joe-mentum, Flores’ campaign has been on a roll lately.

The Naples Daily News endorsed her over the Republican two Sundays ago, in an editorial that basically said “it’s time for a change,” echoing a sentiment that seems pervasive across the electorate in 2018.

And MDB has been taking it on the chin repeatedly over the last few weeks.

First it was rabble rousing activist/blogger Grant Stern breaking a story that Diaz-Balart may have committed a federal crime by lying on a mortgage application. That was followed by a week of very bizarre, “the lady doth protest too much”-type denials from Diaz-Balart — trotting out emails from loan originators and generally overreacting to a liberal blogger who most incumbents probably wouldn’t even dignify with a response.

Then came a one-two punch of brutal stories from CBSMiami’s Jim Defede. One a broad piece about the intersection of guns and politics in 2018, that showcased the CD 25 race, along with Diaz-Balart’s post-Parkland NRA funding as the centerpiece of the segment. Then an equally devastating piece that basically implied a pay-to-play nexus between Mario’s seat in congress and the foreign lobbying contracts of his brother, former Congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart.

In the midst of all that, the Miami Herald smacked Diaz-Balart for his wife, Tia’s involvement with a travel agency that advertised trips to Venezuela — a major no-no for Cuban exiles who view the Maduro regime in much the same way as they do the Castro’s. That story contained a truly bizarre denial from the Diaz-Balart camp, basically that Tia wasn’t very good at her job and never booked such a trip, along with a lightning speed scrubbing of her company’s website and social media pages.

All the while, Barzee Flores is dominating the Ft. Myers-Naples media market (where about 1/3 of the district resides) with a devastating ad tying Diaz-Balart to red tide and green algae by way of his campaign donations. And Diaz-Balart seems to be nowhere, dodging debates and running very modest TV buys that attack his opponent in ways that are both confusing and specious.

The makeup of this district remains favorable for the incumbent, but if election night ends up bringing a blue wave to Florida — even a rather modest one — this could well become an historic upset to the Miami political landscape.

You heard it here first, folks. Florida’s 25th is one to watch next Tuesday.

todd marks

Todd Marks earns Realtors nod in Hillsborough Commission bid

Tampa attorney Todd Marks, the Republican nominee for Hillsborough County Commission District 7, picked up an endorsement recently from the Greater Tampa Realtors.

“On behalf of the 2018 Greater Tampa REALTORS Leadership Team and our 11,000 members, it is my pleasure to inform you that have been selected as the recommended candidate for election to the Hillsborough County Commission, District 7,” said an email from leadership team chair Andy Joe Scaglione.

“Our Leadership Team and members recognize your knowledge of issues facing Hillsborough County,” Scaglione continued.

The realtor group added that it would soon host Marks at its headquarters to cut him a check for his campaign to replace exiting commissioner Al Higginbotham in the countywide seat.

“By working together, we can ensure that we move forward over the years to come. Congratulations and we wish you success in the upcoming election,” Scaglione concluded.

Marks overcame a major fundraising gap to defeat Aakash Patel in the Republican primary election, and is set to face off against Democratic nominee Kimberly Overman and Green Party candidate Kim O’Connor in the general.

To date, Marks has raised more than $274,000 and had nearly $43,000 in the bank on Oct. 19. Overman, by comparison, has raised about $137,000 for her bid with $12,000 left to spend at the same checkpoint. Clark has raised $26,000 and has $22,000 on hand.

The District 2, 4, 5 and 7 seats will all be on the Nov. 6 general election ballot, alongside other county government seats including sheriff and four school board districts.

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