2018 election Archives - Page 7 of 157 - Florida Politics
Rick Scott's House of Horrors Sierra Club

Sierra Club opens ‘Rick Scott’s House of Horrors’

Environmental group Sierra Club is getting ready for Halloween with a new quiz inviting Floridians to face their “most rational worst fears” when it comes to Gov. Rick Scott’s environmental policy.

“Halloween is right around the corner, and, tbh, there’s some super scary stuff going on this year. Bomb threats, white nationalism, embattled midterm elections, and a new IPCC report that predicts climate catastrophe by 2040 if we don’t get our act together and transition to renewable energy ASAP,” the Buzzfeed quiz reads.

After a primer on the challenges climate change is expected to bring to the Sunshine State, the Sierra Club takes aim at Scott, whom they said has “repeatedly denied the existence of human-caused climate change, and throughout his political career has been in cahoots with the fossil fuel industry.”

The quiz takes the Halloween theme and runs with it, casting the Republican U.S. Senate candidate as everything from  fortune teller with a magical ability to deny climate change to a vampire “sucking Florida’s lifeblood with cuts to environmental protections.”

“You write down ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming.’ No sooner have you done this than Rick Scott glides his hand over the sheet of paper. Magically, inexplicably, the letters lift off the page, disappearing into his hand,” the post reads, referencing Scott’s ban on Florida government officials using those terms.

The seven-question quiz invokes imagery from Halloween classics ranging from the early 1920s Dracula knockoff Nosferatu to more modern films such as Ghostbusters — the character “Slimer” is used as an analogue for the blue green algae bloom wreaking havoc on the Florida waterways.

Those who make it through the “House of Horrors” are confronted with one final challenge: “Elated, you take the pen. Scott knows his destruction is near. He lunges towards you… And…” The choices are either “vote” or “faint.”

Those who choose the former option get the happy ending, at least in the Sierra Club’s eyes.

“Rick Scott is too late! You’ve taken the silver pen and filled in the bubble beside Senator Bill Nelson’s name! This is the death knell for the zombie in front of you and the fossil fuel industry that controls him. Zombie Scott falls to the ground, immobilized. Some of the color returns to his face. Could it be that he’s regained control of his own brain?

“Maybe… maybe climate change really is a real, serious, immediate threat to human existence,” you hear him gasp. But you’re already on your way out. You’ve had enough of Rick Scott’s House of Horrors for one election cycle,” the quiz concludes.

The Nelson vs. Scott contest is one of the most competitive, and most watched, U.S. Senate races in the country. Scott, term-limited as Governor, had telegraphed his intention to challenge Nelson for months before entering the race in April and quickly taking a polling lead on the back of a massive media blitz.

As Election Day drew closer, however, Nelson has gained in the polls and the two men are engaged in dogfight for the Senate seat.

RealClearPolitics polling average of the race currently shows Nelson with a 2.6 percentage point lead over Scott, while elections forecaster FiveThirtyEight gives the third-term Democrat 5-in-7 odds of holding on to his seat come pencils down on Nov. 6.

Rene Plasencia rakes in $23K for re-election bid in HD 50

Republican state Rep. Rene Plasencia spent raised more than $23,000 during the week ending Oct. 19 and spent even more than that on his re-election bid in Florida House District 50.

The week was the biggest yet in Plasencia’s campaign for either contributions or expenditures and easily swamped the campaign finance activity of his Democratic challenger Pam Dirschka of Titusville, who hasn’t raised or spent anywhere near that much money through her entire campaign.

During the latest week of campaign finance activity posted Monday morning by the Florida Division of Elections, Plasencia raised $23,750 and spent $26,504. That brought his campaign total to nearly $250,000 raised and nearly $225,000 spent, much of it during a hotly-contested Republican primary that Plasencia wound up winning easily on Aug. 28. He’s got just under $24,000 left, even with his big week of fundraising.

Plasencia, of Orlando, and Dirschka are battling for HD 50, which covers parts of east Orange and northwest Brevard counties.

She managed to raise only $169 during the week and reported spending only $12. To date, she’s raised $13,577, and spent $9,267, so she had about $4,000 left after Oct. 19.

Plasencia’s mid-October haul, less than three weeks out from Election Day, was buoyed by 19 maximum $1,000 checks from special interest groups, mostly in the health care industry. About $1,750 of his donations came from individuals.

The spending was almost all through Millennium Consulting, his general campaign consultant.

Florida Constitution

St. Pete Polls: Voting rights restoration amendment primed to pass

A new statewide poll found Florida voters are in favor of the constitutional amendment restoring voting rights to felons who have done their time but aren’t so keen on adding a “crime victim bill of rights” to the state’s governing document.

The St. Pete Polls survey found 60 percent of likely voters support Amendment 4, also known as the “Voting Restoration Amendment,” while a third of voters are against the measure and the remaining 7 percent are undecided.

Among the 44 percent of voters who said they’ve already turned in their ballot, the amendment was above water 63-33 percent, while those yet to vote were slightly less enthusiastic, backing the plan by a 57-35 percent margin with 8 percent unsure.

Constitutional amendments must earn 60 percent support from voters to pass.

Amendment 4 crossed the 60 percent threshold among both Democrats and independents, with the former saying they were in favor by a 65-point margin, 80-15 percent. Registered Republicans, however, disapproved of the ballot measure by 13-point margin, 53-40 percent. By race, white voters were in favor 56-40 percent while a whopping 83 percent of black voters said they were yes votes compared to just 9 percent who said they were opposed. Young voters were the most supportive at 62-30 percent, with a gradual step down in support among older age brackets. Voters over 70 were still in favor by a 59-34 percent margin.

Amendment 4, sponsored by political committee Floridians for a Fair Democracy, would restore automatically voting rights to the vast majority of the Sunshine State’s 1.7 million convicted felons so long as they’ve completed their sentences, including probation, parole or paying restitution. The only carve outs in the amendment are felons convicted of sex offenses or murder.

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.

Since making the ballot, the initiative has picked up supporters from both ends of the political spectrum. Democratic socialist Bernie Sanders, a U.S. Senator from Vermont, endorsed the Amendment 4 over the weekend, as did the famously conservative Christian Coalition of America. Past backers are as disparate as the American Civil Liberties Union and the Koch brothers.

Amendment 6 was also tested by St. Pete Polls, and the results weren’t great for the Marsy’s Law for Florida-backed amendment.

Voters were at a near-even split with 43 percent saying they were a nay vote and 42 percent saying they were a yay vote. The remaining 15 percent were undecided.

The amendment, which would add a “crime victim bill of rights” to the state constitution, was preferred 47-45 percent among those who’ve already exercised their franchise, but those waiting to vote scored it at a minus-3 with 21 percent undecided.

The results were similar irrespective of party affiliation: Democrats gave it a thumbs down, 44-41 percent; Republicans showed tepid support, 43-41 percent; and independent voters came in at minus-three, 43-40 percent. Ditto by race and age, with no slice of the electorate hitting even 45 percent support, let alone crossing the 60 percent threshold.

Amendments 4 and 6 are two of a dozen measures going before Florida voters on the 2018 ballot. Alongside Amendment 3, the “Voter Control of Gambling in Florida” amendment, Amendment 4 is one of two amendments that made the ballot via the petition method. Another seven measures were placed on the ballot by the Florida Constitution Revision Commission and the other three made the cut thanks to the state Legislature.

The St. Pete Polls survey was conducted via an automated phone call polling system on Oct. 27. The poll received responses from 2,118 voters who said they were planning to vote or had already voted. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.1 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.

Jeff Solomon

Direct mail round-up: Jeffrey Solomon’s ‘record is downright scary’

A new mailer heading out to voters in Miami-Dade’s House District 115 is slamming Democratic candidate Jeffrey Solomon as a lobbyist running for office to line his own pockets.

The front of the Halloween-themed mailer says “Jeffrey ’sleazy’ Solomon’s record is downright scary, before continuing with a slate of festive barbs on the reverse.

“Jefferey Solomon’s record is truly scary,” the mailer continues. “Vampires. Werewolves. Things that go bump in the night. None of these is as frightening as Sleazy Jeffrey Solomon’s record.”

Specifically, the ad lambastes the Pinecrest Democrat for a number of state and federal liens filed against him “for refusing to pay his taxes” and for his work as a lobbyist. It’s the latter avenue that smacks Solomon with a double whammy — not only has the Democratic nominee said his lobbying work gives him “a tingle up and down the spine,” but he’s also pitched public office as a primo career booster.

“That is how you build your career — by getting it strengthened on the back of being in public office and the big goal at the back end of this, your value is just multiplied many fold,” the mailer quotes him as saying.

The mailer was paid for by the Tallahassee-based Main Street Leadership Council. Though it doesn’t mention him by name, the mailer is aimed at dinging Solomon to the benefit for HD 115 Republican nominee Vance Aloupis, an attorney who works as the CEO of The Children’s Movement of Florida.

Aloupis and Solomon are running to succeed term-limited Republican Rep. Michael Bileca in the South Florida seat.

Aloupis is one of the better fundraisers in the current crop of House candidates, having raised nearly $435,000 in hard money for his campaign with $59,000 banked on Oct. 19. Solomon, meanwhile, has raised just over $90,000 and has less than $20,000 left to spend.

Traditionally, HD 115 has been friendly to down-ballot Republicans, and many signs point to that trend continuing, though Democrats are holding out hope they can flip it out of the R column based on Hillary Clinton’s double-digit win in HD 115 two years ago as well as some internal polling showing Aloupis and Solomon in a dead heat.

Depsite the GOP losing the district in the top-of-ticket race last cycle, Bileca cruised into his fourth and final term in the district by defeating Solomon 54-46 on Election Day. Solomon also ran for the seat in 2012 but fell short by about 5 percentage points.

HD 115 covers part of inland Miami-Dade County, including the communities of Pinecrest, South Miami and Palmetto Bay. Bileca’s largest margin of victory was his 18-point thrashing of Democrat Kristopher Decossard in 2014, a wave year for Republicans.

The mailer is below.

Aloupis Solomon HD115 mailer p1 Aloupis Solomon HD115 mailer p2

‘An important step’: Bernie Sanders backs Amendment 4

On Sunday, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders was the latest in a series of high-profile bipartisan endorsements for  Amendment 4, also known as the “Voting Restoration Amendment,” on the 2018 ballot.

“Amendment 4: In Florida 1.4 million people cannot vote because they have been convicted of a crime, even after they have paid their price to society and completed their sentence. This is a moral abomination that has disenfranchised huge numbers of people — a disproportionate number of those affected are African American — and significant parts of communities,” Sanders said via media release.

“If we want a criminal justice system that rehabilitates people, we need to make sure formerly incarcerated people can fully participate as citizens. Passing this amendment is an important step for both voting rights and criminal justice reform,” Sanders added.

The amendment is seeing backing from the left and right wings of the political spectrum.

The amendment is backed by political committee Floridians for a Fair Democracy, which sponsored the petition and signature verification effort to get the proposal on the 2018 ballot.

In the leadup to the general election, other orgs have pitched in with advertising —  the Alliance for Safety and Justice and the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition recently teamed up for a statewide ad buy. The amendment also recently earned an endorsement from the Koch brothers-backed Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce.

Florida is among the nation’s leaders in voter disenfranchisement that critics say is racist in application. The New York Times reported in 2016 that more than 20 percent of African-American men have been divested of suffrage.

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, though the amendment does carve out those who have been convicted of sex offenses or capital crimes, such as murder.

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.

Polls have been favorable to the Amendment reaching the 60 percent threshold to pass, including a Siena/NY Times live poll that wrapped Saturday, which showed the measure with 60 percent support and nine percent still undecided.

Amendment 3 is one of a dozen measures that will go before voters in the 2018 general election, including seven amendments placed on the ballot by the Florida Constitution Revision Commission and three by the state Legislature.

Only Amendment 4 and Amendment 3, also known as the “Voter Control of Gambling in Florida” amendment, made the ballot through the petition method.

NY Times poll shows Andrew Gillum lead, narrow path for Ron DeSantis

A NYTimes/Siena poll released Sunday had good news for Democrat Andrew Gillum and bad news for Republican Ron DeSantis.

Gillum had a five point lead (48-43 percent), and he led in every turnout scenario except for one: an electorate that looked like 2014.

In that instance, DeSantis was up by one point. Otherwise, if voter pools reflected a 2016 electorate, historically likely voters, people who claim to be certain to vote, and every registered voter, Gillum was up (and by nine points with historically reliable voters).

Likewise, no matter how results were weighted, including education and census data, the Democrat led.

Gillum’s lead is especially remarkable given that President Donald Trump is above water by a point, 47 percent favorable to 46 percent unfavorable, in this survey.

Gillum holds a nine point lead with women here, and has massive leads with voters under 45 as well as members of ethnic minorities. DeSantis’s strongholds: a 55 to 38 percent lead with white voters, 25 point lead with whites who didn’t graduate college, and a seven point firewall with voters aged 45 to 54.

Both candidates are at 91 percent with voters from their own parties, but Gillum shows a 48 to 36 percent lead with Independents.

The NYTimes/Siena poll dropped on the same day as a new CBS News/YouGov poll  showing a much tighter race. Gillum still led in that measure with 47 percent support closely followed by DeSantis at 46 percent, with another 2 percent supporting someone else and 5 percent still unsure.

The current polling average compiled by RealClearPolitics splits the difference between the two Sunday polls, showing Gillum up 3.2 percentage points.

With only a handful of days until it’s pencils down on the 2018 cycle, elections forecaster FiveThirtyEight says Gillum has 7-in-9 odds of breaking the GOP’s 20-year monopoly on the Governor’s mansion.

Melissa Martin SD 14

Light fundraising week for SD 14 hopefuls

Republican Tommy Wright beat out Democrat Melissa “Mel” Martin in his inaugural campaign finance report, though neither candidate reeled in a large haul for the week ending Oct. 19.

Wright and Martin are competing for Senate District 14, which turned into an open seat following the death longtime Republican lawmaker Dorothy Hukill. Wright, a New Smyrna Beach businessman, was selected to replace Hukill as the GOP nominee earlier this month.

His first campaign finance report, covering his first five days as a candidate, showed $1,000 in contributions and $2,500 in candidate loans for a total of $3,500 in receipts. His lone contribution came from the Fire Safe Florida Political Committee.

Wright’s expenditure list was similarly short, with the $1,782 candidate qualifying fee listed as his sole expense. He had $1,718 in the bank on Oct. 19.

Martin’s report showed $1,122 raised across 18 contributions with the largest check weighing in at $500. The report also included $229 worth of “in-kind” support from Martin. The spending side of the finance report was similarly sparse, with just $775 heading out the door — $750 of that money went toward boosting campaign Facebook posts.

The Cocoa Democrat has raised $46,400 to-date, including $2,000 in candidate loans. She finished the reporting period with about $27,900 on hand.

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.

Despite the strong Republican lean, Florida Democrats circulated poll numbers prior to Hukill’s death showing Martin with a lead. That polling was faulty, however, due to Hukill and Martin’s party affiliations being swapped on the Change Research survey.

Election Day is Nov. 6.

Bringing it home: Andrew Gillum stumps in Darryl Daniels’ backyard

Over the last week, Clay County Sheriff Darryl Daniels has increasingly taken the regional lead in excoriating Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum.

Sunday saw Gillum come to Clay County and plead for civility and dialing down violence in political rhetoric, again establishing contrast between his campaign and that of his opponent.

The Ron DeSantis campaign has messaged heavily against Gillum aligning with the “anti-police” Dream Defenders. Sheriff Daniels, an African-American Republican, has been particularly valuable in undercutting Gillum’s credibility.

“I can’t get behind him. Not as a man. Not as a sheriff. Not as a politician,” Daniels lamented. “I can’t get with you, Mr. Gillum.”

On Sunday afternoon, Gillum found himself in the heart of Daniels’ jurisdiction, speaking to a crowd of a few hundred people outside a cinder block community center in Green Cove Springs.

The crowd size was comparable to the Vice President Mike Pence rally in Jacksonville for Republican Ron DeSantis a few days prior, an interesting metric for enthusiasm for the respective campaigns.

Gillum’s campaign has a heavy narrative investment in drawing big crowds in traditionally Republican sinecures, and Clay County is exhibit A for that voter concentration; the county is 53.7 percent Republican.

“I don’t have to win this county, I just have to lose it by less,” Gillum said late in the speech, noting that Democrats hadn’t made serious efforts in Clay and other rural North Florida counties in many election cycles.

“Clay County matters to me,” Gillum added.

In the wake of the mass murder at a synagogue in Squirrel Hill, PA, on Saturday, Gillum offered a plea for tolerance and restrained discourse: an especially meaningful goal given how pitched racialist rhetoric has been used by the right to define Gillum.

“I hope that from this moment, everyone of us is double checking our own selves, our own rhetoric,” Gillum said. “How we talk to each other. How we treat each other.”

“We can debate political and policy differences without resorting to political violence,” Gillum said. “Violence has no place in our politics. It has no place in our American society.”

Gillum urged political leaders to avoid “inspiring and inciting violence.”

“We must decry it at every turn,” Gillum said.

Of course, Gillum came under fire by Ron DeSantis for his comment in Wednesday’s debate that a hit dog will holler, which DeSantis claimed was Gillum saying he was a dog.

Gillum, in stump remarks, did not address the substance of that claim.

“I didn’t know when I was a kid that one day I’d be repeating my grandmother’s words in a debate,” Gillum said. “That flooded to the top of my mind.”

As did another grandma-ism, “Never wrestle with pigs.”

“I didn’t understand it then, but I’m learning in this political climate,” Gillum asserted.

Jeff Solomon

Direct mail round-up: Jeffrey Solomon ‘wants to make it worse’

House District 115 Democratic candidate Jeffrey Solomon is another tax-and-spend liberal, a new mailer now hitting mailboxes suggests.

Specifically, it highlights Solomon’s desire to raise the gas tax to help combat traffic congestion in the Miami-Dade area.

“Traffic is terrible. Tolls cost way too much. Jeffrey Solomon wants to make it worse,” the front of the mailer says.

The reverse side of the mailer expands on Solomon’s gas tax plan, noting that the Pinecrest Democrat has complained that “we haven’t increased a gas tax in 20 years.”

“Unbelievable! We’re already taxed enough,” the mailer concludes.

The mailer was paid for by the Republican Party of Florida in support of Republican nominee Vance Aloupis, an attorney who works as the CEO of The Children’s Movement of Florida.

Aloupis and Solomon are running to succeed term-limited Republican Rep. Michael Bileca in the South Florida seat.

Traditionally, HD 115 has been friendly to down-ballot Republicans, though Democrats have expressed some hope they can flip the seat based on Hillary Clinton’s double-digit win in HD 115 two years ago.

Still, Bileca was able to secure an 8-point victory despite the inland strip of Miami-Dade County preferring Clinton over Donald Trump.

Aloupis is one of the better fundraisers in the current crop of House candidates, having raised nearly $435,000 in hard money for his campaign as of Oct. 19. The four-way primary election chipped away at that war chest, though he still has nearly $59,000 banked.

Aloupis has reeled in endorsements from the Florida Realtors, the Chief Executive Officers of Management Companies, the Florida Chamber of Commerce as well as a nod from Bileca.

Solomon, meanwhile, has raised just over $90,000 and has less than $20,000 left to spend.

HD 115 covers parts of Pinecrest, South Miami and Palmetto Bay. Bileca’s largest margin of victory was his 18-point thrashing of Democrat Kristopher Decossard in 2014, a wave year for Republicans.

Aloupis Solomon HD115 mailer p2

GILLUM DESANTIS

Andrew Gillum added $8.7M, Ron DeSantis $4.9M last week

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum massively outraised Republican rival Ron DeSantis last week.

According to newly filed campaign finance reports covering Oct. 12 through Oct. 19, Team Gillum raked in nearly $8.7 million between, including $1.27 million in hard money and $7.41 million in committee cash via Forward Florida.

The weekly haul goes down as Gillum’s best to-date. The previous high watermark came during the Sept. 22 through Sept. 28 reporting period, when the campaign and committee accounts combined to bring in nearly $6.6 million.

DeSantis, for his part, brought in $4.9 million for the week, with $1.5 million of that sum deposited into his campaign’s coffers and the remainder heading to his political committee, Friends of Ron DeSantis.

Both candidates had a deluge of high-dollar donors last week, though the top of Gillum’s ledger featured some seven-figure checks — The Democratic Governors Association wired over another $2 million and businessman-cum-philanthropist Daniel Abraham tossing in $1 million.

A dozen other donors sent Gillum’s PAC six-figure checks, including labor unions SEIU and the American Federation of Teachers as well as financier Donald Sussman and Miami attorney Robert Rubenstein.

DeSantis’s biggest check weighed in at $250,000 and came from Betty Wold Johnson, the surviving spouse of Bobby Johnson III, whose grandfather co-founded Johnson & Johnson. DeSantis cashed three other six-figure checks, with dozens more showing up in the $10,000 to $50,000 range.

On the campaign side, Gillum pulled in $360,746 via the state matching funds program, which doubles in-state individual contributions of $250 or less. The remainder of his contribs heavily tilted toward small dollar donors — more than 10,000 of them. Matching funds excluded, the average donor gave Gillum about $88.50 last week.

DeSantis’ hard-money report included $502,846 in matching funds. DeSantis’ donor list was 1,000-plus names shorter than Gillum’s, and his average donor chipped in $109.20 last week.

The overall fundraising crown still belongs to DeSantis, who has raised about $46 million between his two accounts compared to Gillum’s $39 million. As of pencils down last Friday, Gillum held a cash lead with $8.7 million banked compared to DeSantis’ $4.5 million.

Most polls of the Governor contest show Gillum with a lead over DeSantis. An average of public polling compiled by RealClearPolitics shows the Tallahassee Mayor leading the former Congressman by 4.5 percentage points. Additionally, elections forecaster FiveThirtyEight gives Gillum an 80 percent chance to break the GOP’s 20-year monopoly on the Governor’s mansion.

Election Day is Nov. 6.

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