2018 midterms Archives - Page 2 of 48 - Florida Politics

‘You just can’t trust’ Rick Scott, according to new ad

Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson has released a new ad accusing his Republican opponent, Rick Scott, of “stuffing his own pockets” during his time as Governor.

Nelson, who is defending his Senate seat against a challenge from Scott, also accused the former health care CEO of “ripping of Medicare” in order to build his fortune.

The 30-second spot is titled “Got Rich.” The ad’s release comes the same day The New York Times published a report on Scott’s finances during his time as Governor. The article says Scott set up a blind trust while leading the state that was “blind in name only,” and allowed Scott to discover information about his financial holdings.

“Question: How did Rick Scott get rich?,” the ad’s narrator begins.

“Answer: Ripping off Medicare. As a CEO, Scott ran a health care company that was fined $1.7 billion for Medicare fraud. Then, Scott got $300 million as he was forced out the door.

“As Governor, Scott got even richer, making $550 million on one transaction hidden from the voters. Everywhere he’s gone, Rick Scott has stuffed his own pockets. Rick Scott, you just can’t trust him.”

Of course, Nelson makes mention of Scott’s departure from Columbia/HCA shortly before the company was issued that massive fine.

As for that $550 million transaction? The Miami Herald reported in July on the 2017 sale of Continental Structural Plastics (CSP), a plastic manufacturing company Scott owned a 2/3 stake in.

According to the paper, Scott met with several bidders of that company in 2013 during a trip to Japan. And Scott’s son-in-law and financial adviser both served as board members for CSP.

It’s unclear whether Scott knew of the machinations of a potential sale, despite purportedly establishing that “blind trust.”

A request for comment from the Scott campaign was not returned.

Lauren Baer raises more than $1.7M, besting Brian Mast

Even by the high standards set by other South Florida Democrats, Lauren Baer had an impressive third quarter of fundraising, pulling in more than $1.7 million.

That was more than enough to top a strong quarter from her Republican opponent, U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, who earned more than $980,000 in donations.

The latest fundraising totals filed with the Federal Election Commission cover money raised from July 1 to Sept. 30.

The numbers are another set of good news for Baer in her bid to unseat Mast in Florida’s 18th Congressional District.

She earned a pair of high-profile endorsements late last month, from former Vice President Joe Biden and former Secretary of State John Kerry. Baer worked as an advisor in the State Department under President Barack Obama. 

An internal campaign poll also showed Baer within 3 percentage points of Mast.

However, Mast may not need to fret just yet. Analysts still see this seat as “likely Republican” after the November elections.

And despite losing the fundraising period to Baer by more than $700,000, he beats her by a similar margin in cash on hand. Mast maintains more than $1.4 million in cash, while Baer has just over $770,000 available.

The candidates recently used some of that money to release dueling ads going after each other.

Baer joins other South Florida Democratic challengers, all women, who outraised their Republican opponents this period. Those results have the Florida Democratic Party feeling good about its candidates’ chances on Nov. 6.

“Floridians are ready for a change,” Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo said.

“Democrats have put forth a slate of strong, experienced candidates who are ready to take on the issues affecting our seniors, workers, students, veterans, and families. Thanks to strong financial support from individuals across our state, these candidates are countering nasty, misleading Republican attacks and delivering their own uplifting messages directly to voters.”

Donna Shalala leaves Maria Elvira Salazar in the dust, by more than $400K

Democratic candidate Donna Shalala raked in the dough during the third quarter, hauling in more than $1 million in her bid for Florida’s 27th Congressional District. That puts her well ahead of her Republican opponent, Maria Elvira Salazar, who earned just over $560,000.

The latest reports filed with the Federal Election Commission cover the period of July 1 to Sept. 30.

Shalala maintains a lead in cash on hand as well. The Democrat has nearly $440,000 available while Salazar is sitting on just over $380,000.

Projections suggest the contest between Shalala and Salazar is going to a nail-biter. Recent polls have disagreed on who’s ahead in the race. Most analysts accept the contest will be close in November, though FiveThirtyEight sees the 27th Congressional District as a “likely Democratic” seat.

The battle has also earned a lot of attention from outside groups, with several Republican-affiliated organizations releasing ads attempting to knock down Shalala.

The Democrat’s big third-quarter haul should help beat back that outside spending, and perhaps strengthen her position in the contest overall. The New York Times is currently in the process of polling CD 27 voters, which should shed some more light on the state of the race.

Mary Barzee Flores on top in latest CD 25 fundraising

Another South Florida Democrat has topped a Republican incumbent in fundraising during the third quarter for the 25th Congressional District.

Mary Barzee Flores led Mario Diaz-Balart in the latest fundraising reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Barzee Flores brought in just over $640,000 July 1-Sept. 30. Diaz-Balart came up more than $200,000 short of that, hauling in just over $410,000.

A previous review of the pre-primary period, July 1-Aug. 8, showed Diaz-Balart on top of his Democratic challenger.

But Barzee Flores raced past Diaz-Balart from there on out, bringing in nearly $550,000 to Diaz-Balart’s $285,000. That put Barzee Flores on top for the third quarter overall.

While Barzee Flores may be feeling confident about her recent fundraising, she’s still well behind in cash on hand for the remaining few weeks of the campaign.

Diaz-Balart has banked more than $1.3 million, while Barzee Flores’ stash sits at just over $410,000.

Both campaigns spent big on advertising. Diaz-Balart dropped more than $500,000 on media buys, with an additional $57,000 on mailers and social media marketing.

Barzee Flores put more than $410,000 toward media buys, and another $161,000 toward digital media marketing and mailers.

Diaz-Balart remains the favorite in the race, according to election analysts.

Both The Cook Political Report and Larry Sabato see the contest as “likely Republican.” FiveThirtyEight gives Barzee Flores better odds, saying the seat only “leans Republican.”

That’s likely because Diaz-Balart retains an incumbency advantage and has earned a lead in available polls.

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell ad features photo of slain father

Democratic candidate Debbie Mucarsel-Powell of Florida’s 26th Congressional District is out with a new spot, showing her support for gun control while recounting the fatal shooting of her father.

Mucarsel-Powell lost her dad at the age of 24, after he was gunned down in her native country of Ecuador.

In her new 30-second ad, titled “Photo,” Mucarsel-Powell recounts that loss, and cites it as a motivator to strengthen gun control laws here in the U.S.

“I never said goodbye,” Mucarsel-Powell begins, holding up a photo of her and her father.

“My kids never met their grandfather. And this is the last photo I took with my father because he was killed by a criminal with a gun. So when I tell you Ill stand up to the NRA to protect our community, you can believe me.

“I’m Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. I’m running for Congress, and I approve this message, because no one should have to say goodbye to a loved one with a photo.”

Among the efforts Mucarsel-Powell says she will push for in Congress are universal background checks and a ban on “military-style assault weapons.”

The South Florida Democrat released a similar ad during the primary titled “October 18th,” the date her father was killed.

Mucarsel-Powell is attempting to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo. Recent polls have projected a tight race between the two.

Fundraising reports from Tuesday also showed Mucarsel-Powell outraised Curbelo by $750,000 in the latest period, though she still lags well behind in overall cash-on-hand.


‘Monster’ much? PAC launched to bash Maria Elvira Salazar

Maria Elvira Salazar is now being bashed by a former rival in the Republican primary for Florida’s 27th Congressional District.

Former candidate Stephen Marks, who came in fourth in the nine-person contest, has launched a new website and PAC, called MiamiAmerica.

Marks’ aim appears to be hitting Salazar over her support, or lack thereof, of President Donald Trump. He also criticizes her conservative bona fides.

The website aims to push voters toward third-party candidate Mayra Joli, who has made her support of Trump a pillar of her campaign.

Two videos are featured on the website, one in English and one in Spanish. And Marks says TV ads will be coming as well.

Among the claims made in those videos are that Salazar once called Trump a “monster,” that she does not see abortion as immoral, and that she proposed banning semi-automatic weapons.

While Salazar’s “monster” comments are heavily edited in the MiamiAmerica clip, a review of her fuller remarks by Florida Politics shows that she was discussing the matchup between Jeb Bush and Trump in the Republican primary.

Of that campaign, Salazar says Jeb was forced to “confront the monster.” It’s not clear whether she is simply saying that as a figure of speech or actually labeling Trump a monster.

A request for comment from the Salazar campaign was not returned.

Salazar did say she doesn’t think having an abortion is necessarily “morally wrong,” though she does say she opposes abortion in most cases. And on guns, Salazar has appeared open to banning assault weapons.

Marks clearly feels Joli would be stronger on these issues. And his war with Salazar isn’t new to the general election.

Marks made waves during the primary with an ad attacking Salazar over a 1995 interview with Fidel Castro. The ad featured excerpts of Salazar warmly addressing Castro, combined with 2016 comments where Salazar called Barack Obama‘s easing of relations with Cuba “noble.”

Salazar’s campaign deemed the ad defamatory and threatened to force Marks to pull it off the air.

Marks’ opposition to Salazar was so strong, he actually endorsed Democratic candidate Donna Shalala in the race. However, in comments to Florida Politics, Marks says he has now shifted support to Joli.

Whether his efforts will make a dent in the race remains to be seen. A Mason-Dixon poll of the contest had Joli polling at just 1 percent. A DCCC poll released Tuesday had her at 6 percent support.

Marks is known for his role as a “political hitman” in Republican circles. That’s not a knock on Marks. Rather, it’s part of the title of his own book, “Confessions of a Political Hitman.”

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell outraises Carlos Curbelo by $750K during most recent reporting period

Democratic candidate Debbie Mucarsel-Powell has come out on top of Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo in the latest fundraising period. That’s according to new reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

As reported last week by Florida Politics, Mucarsel-Powell earned more than $1.62 million in the third quarter. Now, Curbelo’s filings show he pulled in just over $865,000. That’s a gap of more than $750,000 between the two candidates in Florida’s 26th Congressional District.

It’s not all grim news for Curbelo, though. The incumbent still holds a sizeable cash-on-hand advantage, with more than $1.5 million available in the closing weeks of the campaign. Mucarsel-Powell has less than $700,000 remaining.

The race is one of the closest in the country, according to election analysts who either see the race as a toss-up or give Curbelo a slight advantage.

Recent polling has bolstered that view, consistently showing the race between the two as incredibly tight.

New DCCC ad on health care: ‘We can’t afford Brian Mast’

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has released a new ad hitting U.S. Rep. Brian Mast on his vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) last year.

Mast, the Republican incumbent in Florida’s 18th Congressional District, is attempting to defend his seat against Democratic challenger Lauren Baer.

The DCCC’s new 30-second spot, titled “Down Here,” highlights Mast’s vote in the House to repeal the ACA and replace it with the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Ultimately, a similar bill failed in the Senate, killing the GOP’s efforts.

“Health care matters here in Florida,” the ad’s narrator begins.

“The minute he got to Washington, Congressman Brian Mast forgot that. Mast voted to gut protections for pre-existing conditions and pave the way for what the AARP calls an ‘Age Tax.’ It means insurance companies could charge older Floridians five times more.

“Here at home, Brian Mast’s votes could increase premiums almost $3,000 per family. Florida can’t afford to pay more for health care, and we can’t afford Brian Mast.”

A couple of notes on the ad’s claims. While the GOP bill would allow Americans over 50 to be charged five times more, they can already be charged three times more under the ACA.

Also, the ad cites the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning group, for its claims about $3,000 in premium increases. A CBO report found mixed results regarding premium increases under the AHCA.

Still, Cole Leiter, the spokesperson for the DCCC, argues Mast’s positions on health care are out of step with the district.

“It’s taken less than two years in Washington for Congressman Mast to completely lose touch with the Floridians he was elected to represent,” Leiter argued.

“But he’s demonstrated, without a shadow of doubt, that he’s willing to abandon the needs of hardworking Floridians when he’s with his party in Congress.

“If Florida families can’t trust Congressman Mast with common sense needs like protecting people with pre-existing conditions, keeping health care costs down for older folks, and fighting to make insurance premiums reasonable for working families, he can’t be trusted, period.”

But Brad Stewart, a Mast campaign spokesperson, argues the ACA is bad for CD 18 residents, and Baer’s support for the law will only make things worse.

“Far-left Washington, D.C. special interest groups have already committed nearly $2 million to try to smear Congressman Mast’s record and the reason why is clear: Lauren Baer has proven she will be a reliable vote for Nancy Pelosi’s extreme agenda to pass a massive expansion of government controlled health care,” Stewart said.

“Under Obamacare, average premiums for individuals have more than doubled, but Lauren Baer has said that Obamacare didn’t go far enough. Her solution is a big government take over of health care that experts believe could jeopardize care for current seniors receiving Medicare and need a massive tax increase to pay for it.

“No amount of Washington, D.C. PAC money will change the fact that she is just too extreme for Florida.”

Donna Shalala ahead by five in new DCCC poll

A new survey of Florida’s 27th Congressional District shows Democratic nominee Donna Shalala in the lead.

That’s according to a poll commissioned by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), which helps elect Democrats to the U.S. House.

The survey puts Shalala at 44 percent. That’s 5 percentage points ahead of her Republican opponent, Maria Elvira Salazar, who sits at 39 percent.

Mayra Joli, a non-party affiliated candidate, earned 6 percent. The remaining 10 percent of voters are undecided.

The poll was conducted by Anzalone Liszt Grove Research from Oct. 11 to 14. The survey sampled 500 likely voters and was conducted in both English and Spanish.

Notable in this DCCC poll is that Salazar actually has higher favorability ratings than Shalala.

Salazar earned a net favorability rating of 13 percentage points, with 37 percent of voters rating her favorably and 24 percent unfavorably. For Shalala, 41 percent rate her favorably and 32 percent unfavorably, for a net rating of 9 percentage points.

Voters also gave President Donald Trump a harsh rebuke. Just 40 percent view him favorably, while 57 percent view him unfavorably.

That’s sharply different from a recent Mason-Dixon poll of the district, which Shalala’s team criticized for showing Trump just 3 percentage points underwater in favorability. That survey also showed Shalala down by 2 points.

The DCCC’s Trump numbers line up more with the 2016 election results, as Trump lost the district by 20 points. Then again, the DCCC does have a dog in this race, whereas the Mason-Dixon poll was an independent survey.

Either way, this is a tight contest. While FiveThirtyEight rates the seat as “likely Democratic,” other analysts see the race closer, with The Cook Political Report dubbing it a toss-up.

A real-time poll currently being conducted by The New York Times will give some more context on the state of the race. And of course, we’re now just three weeks away from the only survey that matters: Election Day.

‘Donna Shalala is out for herself,’ new ad argues

A new ad from the Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF) is going after Democratic candidate Donna Shalala over a 2006 janitor strike at the University of Miami, where Shalala served as president.

The janitors sought a wage increase and the ability to unionize during the nine-week strike. At the time, janitors at the university were paid less than $7 per hour, according to reports at the time.

The CLF, a  super PAC aligned with U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan that aims to elect Republicans to the House, recounts the episode in the Spanish-language ad, titled “$7.”

“Donna Shalala is another politician who puts herself first,” the ad’s narrator begins in Spanish.

“As president of the University of Miami, Shalala lived in a $9 million dollar mansion but only paid university janitors $7 an hour while denying them health insurance. The scandal made national news and Shalala was called an enemy of the working poor. Donna Shalala is out for herself.”

That reference to the mansion refers to the university’s estate where Shalala lived during her tenure. The university eventually sold that building for $9 million.

However, Shalala’s team rejected the notion that the strike remains a relevant issue more than a decade later.

“Donna is honored to receive the endorsement of every major union, including the union representing the janitors,” said Mike Hernandez, spokesperson for the Shalala campaign.

“While the Republicans passed a $1.5 trillion tax cut for the very wealthy and the largest corporations, Donna has been joining picket lines at the airport to call for better wages and health care.”

Shalala also authored an op-ed in July in Miami’s Community Newspapers, discussing the strike. She says she and some of those janitors met recently and “reflected together on the mistakes of the past.”

Shalala continued, saying: “I explained how I regret not working to resolve the strike sooner, hoping that the contractor would work out this issue without the University’s involvement, but I am heartened that these individuals won their union, as well as wage increases, excellent health care, and job protections. They vowed to keep up the fight, and I vowed to stand with them.”

She is competing for the seat in Florida’s 27th Congressional District against Republican candidate Maria Elvira Salazar and non-party affiliated candidate Mayra Joli.

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