2018 midterms Archives - Page 3 of 48 - Florida Politics

Carlos Curbelo up just 1 point over Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in latest poll

A new poll commissioned by Telemundo 51 in South Florida shows Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo just one percentage point ahead of his Democratic challenger Debbie Mucarsel-Powell.

The survey was conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy Oct. 3-9.

It showed 46 percent of voters in Florida’s 26th Congressional District supporting Curbelo, while 45 percent favored Mucarsel-Powell. Just 9 percent of the 625 likely voters were undecided. The poll had a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

The results are no surprise in a contest that has consistently polled tight throughout the general election.

Election analysts have taken notice, either giving Curbelo a slight edge or rating the race as a toss-up.

Mucarsel-Powell has a 12-point edge among women, according to the Telemundo 51 survey, while Curbelo holds a 16-point margin among men. Mucarsel-Powell also led among white and black voters. Curbelo was ahead among Hispanics.

Both Curbelo and Mucarsel-Powell earned similar net favorability ratings, though Curbelo was more well-known.

The incumbent had a net favorability rating of 8 percentage points, with 43 percent viewing him favorably and 35 percent unfavorably. For Mucarsel-Powell, 34 percent viewed her favorably and 25 percent unfavorably, for a net rating of 9 percentage points.

Respondents rated immigration as the number one issue. The economy and jobs was named the second most important issue, followed by health care.

This is Charlie -- Charlie Crist TV ad

In new ad, Charlie Crist says he’s ‘always on call’ for his constituents

Democratic U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist is rolling out a new ad for his re-election campaign touting his commitment to putting constituents first during his time in public office.

The ad, titled “This is Charlie,” features the first term congressman and former Governor answering a number of phone calls while he’s out and about in Florida’s 13th Congressional District.

“Everywhere I go, it happens,” Crist says, before several clips of him answering his cell phone.

“I give my cell phone number to constituents. After all, you’re my boss. So whether it’s delivering benefits to Florida veterans, voting down the age tax on Florida seniors, or even trying to bring a little more civility and decency to Congress, you know I’m always on call for you,” he says in the ad.

The 30-second spot ends with the first-term Congressman picking up another constituent call.

Crist’s campaign said the new ad will start running on TV stations in the Tampa-St. Petersburg media market today.

“It is truly an honor to serve my neighbors in Pinellas County, representing the community that raised me and working every day on behalf of the people,” Crist said in a press release announcing the ad buy. “I will never stop fighting for my constituents – my bosses – always putting Florida first.”

Crist faces Republican George Buck, a retired academic and firefighter, in his campaign for a second term in CD 13, which covers parts of St. Pete, Seminole, and mid-Pinellas.

As of Aug. 8, Crist had raised nearly $3.1 million for his re-election bid and had about $2.2 million on hand. The veteran politician’s bankroll was large enough at the end of Q2 that he was able to toss $200,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the fundraising arm supporting the national Democratic Party’s goal of flipping the U.S. House.

Buck, meanwhile, has yet to break the $20,000 mark in total fundraising.

After CD 13’s prior congressman, David Jolly, announced in March that he would not run to take back the purple seat, Crist went from having the odds in his favor to a near-certain victory on Election Day. Political handicappers agree —both the Cook Political Report and Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball list CD 13 as a Democratic lock.

Crist’s ad is below.

Palm Beach leadership committee announced for gambling amendment

Voters in Charge, the political committee supporting the “Voter Control of Gambling” amendment (Amendment 3), has named the members of its Palm Beach County chairs and local leadership panel.

The move follows the establishment of similar committees in Broward County and Tampa Bay.

The Palm Beach county chairs are:

Jeri Muoio, West Palm Beach Mayor

Mary Brandenburg, former state Representative

Julio Fuentes, president and CEO of the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Rachelle Lipman, president of the Kings Point Democratic Club

The Palm Beach committee members include:

Sylvia Moffett, former West Palm Beach commissioner

Mindy Koch, President of the Boca/Delray Democratic Club and former educator

David Smith, former West Palm Beach commissioner and local business owner

Ben Klug, former Jupiter councilman

Jose Garcia, president of Latinos in Action

Bill Newgent, host of City Voice Podcast and real estate investor

Dana Aberman, president of S.E.E. South Florida

Alexandria Ayala, vice president of the PBC Young Democrats

Craig Agranoff, political science professor

Daniella Suarez, high school math teacher

Paula Morra, community activist

Amendment 3 would require voters to approve any future expansion of gambling. Polls disagree over whether the measure will clear the 60-percent threshold needed for passage in November.

“We are thrilled to have the support of so many pillars of the community for this important amendment,” said Voters in Charge Chairman John Sowinski.

“For most of our lifetimes, decisions about casino gambling were left up to the voters. It is past time to return that right to Floridians and take it away from politicians and special interest groups in Tallahassee.”

The gambling industry is opposing the amendment, arguing it would make it harder to expand access to gambling in the state.

Kelsey Grammar stars in new ad in favor of ‘Marsy’s Law’

Emmy Award-winning actor Kelsey Grammer is starring in a new spot advocating for passage of Amendment 6, which supporters say would grant increased rights to victims of crime.

Grammer himself has felt the effects of violent crime on numerous occasions throughout his life. He uses the 30-second ad, which was launched by Marsy’s Law for Florida, to talk about those tragedies.

“My dad was gunned down at his home at the age of 38,” Grammer begins.

“Six years later, my sister Karen was brutally raped and murdered. She was 18. When my father’s killer was released, I found out through the National Enquirer. It seemed like a cruel joke.

“In my sister’s case, I have been allowed a voice in the parole hearings of her killers, but that’s not always true in Florida. Amendment 6 gives crime victims and their families a voice in the process and the equal rights they deserve. Please vote ‘Yes’ on Amendment 6.”

Advocates say the bill was modeled after Marsy’s Law, which was enacted in California back in 2008. Among the purported benefits of passage would be increased participation for victims in case proceedings, prevention of disclosure of victims’ information, and other protections.

Greg Ungru, state director of Marsy’s Law for Florida, says Grammer’s past tells the tale of why Amendment 6 is needed.

“Kelsey Grammer’s story is far too familiar for many Floridians,” Ungru said.

“Without clear, enforceable protections in the state constitution, Florida crime victims and their family members often find their rights considered sub-par to those of the accused, which is unfair and unjust.”

But critics argue victims are already protected under Florida law and worry the Amendment could supersede the constitutional rights of defendants.

Ungru dismisses those concerns.

“A person accused or convicted of a crime should always be entitled to his or her constitutional rights, but crime victims deserve the same consideration,’ Ungru argued.

“Amendment 6 balances the scales of justice while preserving due process, and we are incredibly grateful for Kelsey Grammer’s steadfast support and dedication to this cause. We hope all Floridians will stand up for crime victims and vote yes on Amendment 6.”

As with all constitutional amendments in Florida, 60 percent of voters must approve the measure in November in order to pass.

Parkland parent endorses Rick Scott in new ad

Rick Scott, Florida’s outgoing Republican Governor, is out with a new ad in the race for U.S. Senate, highlighting the endorsement of Andrew Pollack, who lost his daughter in February’s shooting in Parkland.

Scott is attempting to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.

In the new minute-long ad, titled “Meadow,” Pollack speaks of the loss of his daughter during the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

“I get my strength when I think of my daughter and how much she means to me,” Pollack begins.

“I just didn’t want to believe it that out of all the people that it could’ve been my daughter on that third floor. And I also lost a big part of my life that day. I might as well have been buried with her because I’ll never be the same.”

Pollack then turns to discussing the work he did on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act, which was signed by Scott.

“I put my mind into working. So I picked a battle that we’ll all agree on no matter what party you’re affiliated with, and that’s protecting our kids in the schools. The Governor said to me numerous times, ‘Andy, you stay focused. Don’t get distracted and stick to your mission.’ And we did it. We got that bill passed in Florida.

“Rick Scott wasn’t worried about the politics that came with that bill, and he did what he thought was right. We need a politician that’s going to do what’s right. I truly believe that, that Rick Scott loves this country, and he wants to get up to Washington and make a difference.”

That bill raised the minimum age to buy a gun in Florida from 18 to 21. It also banned bump stocks, the type of modification used in last year’s Las Vegas shooting, among other new restrictions.

Other Parkland parents have endorsed Nelson in his re-election bid, including Fred Guttenberg.

You can watch Scott’s new ad below.

Lauren Baer the ‘clear’ choice in CD 18, says new ad

Democratic candidate Lauren Baer is out with a new campaign ad arguing she’s the best candidate to address environmental issues in Florida’s 18th Congressional District.

The ad, titled “Clear,” tackles the recent algae blooms in particular. Baer argues incumbent U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, a Republican, hasn’t done enough to stop the spread of those blooms throughout the coast.

“In this election, we have a clear choice to protect our water and economy,” the ad’s narrator begins.

“Since Brian Mast has been in Congress, he’s taken over $80,000 from polluters, and consistently voted to eliminate protections for our water. The algae crisis has gotten worse. Our water and economy can’t take another two years of Brian Mast.

The Palm Beach Post endorsed Lauren Baer because she’s the best choice to fight the algae crisis. Lauren Baer: clear water, clear choice.”

However, Mast campaign spokesperson Brad Stewart argues Baer’s ad overlooks the work Mast has done to fight for environmental protections.

“Fighting toxic algae has been the number one issue that Congressman Mast has worked on,” said Stewart.

“He promised to get the EAA Southern Storage Reservoir authorized and he delivered. He promised to get funding to combat harmful algae blooms and toxic agricultural runoff and he delivered. And he was one of only three Representatives in the entire state of Florida to vote against subsidies for the sugar industry.”

Stewart also noted Mast’s endorsements from environmental groups such as Everglades Trust and Bullsugar. TCPalm also announced its endorsement of Mast Sunday, arguing Mast “has devoted his first term to demonstrable action on the environmental crisis facing District 18.”

“This ad wreaks of political hypocrisy from a candidate who has repeatedly told voters that water quality won’t be her top priority in Congress and that she opposes legislation to make health and human safety the top priority to prevent discharges,” Stewart added.

While Baer has mentioned health care as a top priority for CD 18, she has also named the environment as a leading concern as well.

First CD 27 debate to air Saturday on Telemundo

After weeks of back-and-forth between the candidates in Florida’s 27th Congressional District, the first debate in the race has been announced.

The one-hour, Spanish-language debate will air on Telemundo 51 on Saturday, Oct. 13. Republican Maria Elvira Salazar, Democrat Donna Shalala, and third-party entrant Mayra Joli were all on hand for the debate, which was taped Wednesday.

The meeting is set to air at 1 p.m. tomorrow and also live-streamed on Telemundo’s website. Marilys Llanos, Telemundo’s senior political reporter, served as moderator. She also moderated the recent U.S. Senate debate between Bill Nelson and Rick Scott.

It’s notable the candidates in CD 27 finally agreed to a sit-down. Shalala issued a debate challenge in early September, which appeared to be accepted by Salazar. But as of late September, candidates were still unable to agree on any set dates.

Now that has changed, though there still remains no English-language debate agreed upon by both Shalala and Salazar.

Recent polls have shown a tight contest between the two. Republican groups have gone after Shalala in a series of ads, while the candidates recently jumped into the fray with their own spots released this week.

Brian Mast ad hits Lauren Baer over response to 9/11

Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Mast is going after his Democratic opponent, Lauren Baer, over an article Baer wrote while attending Harvard which criticized American foreign policy in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.

The pair is currently competing in Florida’s 18th Congressional District. Mast’s new minute-long ad, titled “Sacrifice,” features former New York City police officer John Napolitano discussing the death of his son, a New York City firefighter with FDNY Rescue 2. Napolitano then hammers Baer, assailing her criticism.

“On Sept. 11, 2001, my son John was one of the heroes never recovered,” Napolitano begins.

“When I got to the Trade Center, I wrote a big message in the ash to my son. I wrote, ‘Rescue 2, John Napolitano. I’m here and I love you. Dad.’ I thought to myself, that if he was looking down on me, I was telling him that I loved him,” Napolitano says through tears.

“While I was looking for my son, Ms. Baer was writing a paper about our country’s shameful history, that this country would be more humane and more humble. If I could ask Ms. Baer, after my son made the supreme sacrifice, what could he have possibly done to have made him more humane?

“My son died for people that he didn’t even know. I’m proud of America’s history, I’m proud of my son, and I’m proud of Brian Mast. I urge you to vote for someone who knows what it’s like to make a sacrifice.

“I urge you to vote for Brian Mast.”

The Mast campaign also released a 30-second version of the ad. Both come just over a week after a similar ad was pulled when it was discovered the firefighter featured in that spot, John Cosomano, had a pair of felony battery convictions in 2013, according to a TCPalm report.

In a statement pushing back on the new ad, Baer campaign manager Rebecca Lipson made reference to last week’s controversy.

“Lauren Baer devoted her life to public service and the promotion of American values abroad,” she said. “And the insinuation that she is somehow un-American is a tired move from the typical DC politician playbook.”

Lipson added: “The Mast campaign already tried this line of attack and had to pull their ad after featuring a known domestic abuser. Congressman Mast should be ashamed he has stooped so low as to again selectively quote from an article Lauren wrote in college in order to grossly misrepresent her values and point of view. Lauren has always respected Congressman Mast’s patriotism, and we expect he would equally respect hers.”

Since both the ad and topic are emotionally charged, it’s worth taking a look at what exactly Baer said in her 2001 piece.

The article, titled “From Hypocrisy to Humanity” and written just shy of a month after 9/11, Baer noted the outpouring of support from around the world following the attacks. She made reference to comments from President George W. Bush, citing the NATO commitment that “an attack on one is an attack on all.”

Baer then reflected on “whether America would be rushing to prayer and battle had the buildings toppled in Central Africa or Latina American or South Asia. I can only think that we would not.”

She then cited other atrocities around the world which “should have warranted a meaningful U.S. response,” criticizing the actual response as “meager, if it existed at all.”

“Thus, we must ingest our sudden humanity with a grain of salt,” Baer argued. “We must recognize the expediency, and not the moral uprightness, underlying our government’s new cause. And we must call it to task on its hypocrisy.”

She closed by calling for future responses which were “humbler and more humane.”

One can certainly debate the validity of those criticisms, as well as the timing of the article. But in the ad, Napolitano asks of his son’s sacrifice: “What could he have possibly done to have made him more humane?”

And while important to note that Baer’s appeal to be “humbler and more humane” was about America’s foreign policy, specifically in reaction to tragedies overseas, the article was in no way a rebuke of first responders to the 9/11 attacks.

Again, one can still criticize the piece and its timing, but it’s important to avoid conflating Baer’s criticisms with an attack on those who heroically sacrificed themselves on 9/11.

To watch Mast’s new ad, click on the image below. You can also read Baer’s original 2001 article here.


Chicago billionaire fuels $8M week for Ron DeSantis

Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis raked in more than $8.25 million between his campaign and committee during the first week of October, which goes down as his most prolific fundraising week of the election cycle.

DeSantis raised nearly $1.2 million in hard money, including 125 contributions for the maximum campaign donation of $3,000. In all, his report showed more than 7,500 contributions with two-thirds of those donors chipping in $50 or less — before the new report, DeSantis had considerably lagged behind Democratic opponent Andrew Gillum when it came to “small dollar” donors.

The rest of the monster haul came in through DeSantis’ affiliated PAC, Friends of Ron DeSantis, which posted more than $7 million in receipts during the reporting period covering Sept. 29 through Oct. 5.

The weekly donor list was around 150 names long, but the name at the top, Kenneth C. Griffin, was responsible for the vast majority of that haul. Griffin is a Chicago-based investor, hedge fund manager and philanthropist who is also serving as the national finance chair for New Republican PAC, the political committee fueling Gov. Rick Scott‘s campaign to unseat U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.

Griffin cut DeSantis a check for $5 million on Oct. 3. The next-largest was a quartet of $100,000 contributions — one apiece from Joe Anderson III of Old Town, Thomas Peterffy of Palm Beach, David McNeil of Hinsdale, Illinois, and The Middlesex Corporation.

The reports also showed a massive amount of spending, with nearly $7 million exiting DeSantis’ war chest. The bulk of that cash, $6.5 million, went to the Republican Party of Florida. RPOF provided the DeSantis campaign with $723,000 worth of “in-kind” support during the week.

Though DeSantis scored a fundraising coup, Gillum didn’t flame out.

The Tallahassee Mayor has so far reported $3.3 million in committee fundraising during the same stretch via Forward Florida. Team Gillum has yet to upload their new campaign finance report, but their last report showed $1.7 million in hard money, with nearly 12,500 donations, 219 max checks and a whopping 9,800 contributions of $50 or less.

Democratic Governors Association topped the committee ledger with a $1 million check. Florida-based philanthropist Marsha Laufer, the wife of Henry Laufer, chipped in another $500,000, bringing her overall contributions to Team Gillum up to $780,000. Billionaire Michael Bloomberg, a possible 2020 presidential candidate, sent over $250,000, while the Barbara Stiefel Trust and Miami law firm Podhurst Orseck PA each wrote $100,000 checks.

Committee spending came in at $4.2 million for the week, nearly all of that cash heading to the Florida Democratic Party.

As of Oct. 5, Gillum had a combined $7.6 million on hand while DeSantis had $6.6 million in the bank between his two accounts.

Gillum and running mate Chris King face Republican nominee Ron DeSantis and his LG pick, state Rep. Jeannette Nuñez, in the Nov. 6 general election.

Every poll since Gillum and DeSantis became their parties’ nominees has shown Gillum in the lead, though most polls have put his edge within the margin of error. According to a public poll aggregation compiled by RealClearPolitics, Gillum as a 3.7 percentage point edge with less than a month to go before Election Day.

New Maria Elvira Salazar ad: ‘Our environment’ depends on this election

Maria Elvira Salazar, the Republican candidate in Florida’s 27th Congressional District, is out with a new ad touting her “vow” to fight for environmental protection in Congress.

Salazar has attempted to cast herself as a moderate on the environment. She recently told the Miami Herald she would be open to a carbon tax proposal put forward by U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida’s 26th Congressional District.

His efforts were swiftly rejected by his own party.

The Republican’s new 30-second ad echoes those comments, as she competes against Democratic nominee Donna Shalala.

“To say that God has been abundant with what He has given Florida is an understatement,” Salazar begins.

“We have been blessed with an environment that truly provides us with a lot, and we must protect it. I vow for that in Congress. Let’s make sure we have better jobs. Our kids: safer schools. For me, their protection is paramount.

“The path is clear. I am Maria Elvira Salazar and I approve this message because our environment, our community and our children depend on it.”

Shalala’s team doubted the sincerity of Salazar’s pledge, arguing she wouldn’t be able to buck her party on the issue either way.

“This latest ad showcases the hypocrisy of Salazar’s campaign, which has been funded by some of the biggest polluters that threaten our environment,” said Mike Hernandez, spokesperson for the Shalala campaign.

“By electing Salazar to Congress, District 27 will lose a voice and a vote because the Republican Party and this president simply won’t listen to science and won’t listen to her.”

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