2018 midterms Archives - Page 5 of 48 - Florida Politics

Red tide report spells good news for Rick Scott

Florida Governor Rick Scott’s U.S. Senate bid got some good news this week, thanks to a University of South Florida College of Marine Science report.

A three-week red tide mission found abnormally cooler temperatures and increased salt content might have caused this year’s red tide outbreak.

Scott is running against incumbent U.S. Senator Bill Nelson.

Scott has been fighting back claims from opponents that his administration’s environmental policies led to increased discharges from Lake Okeechobee and exacerbated the levels of the K. brevis bacteria that causes red tide in the Gulf of Mexico.

“Our elected leaders have not only done nothing to help us, but they are making the problem worse,” said Susan Glickman, Florida Director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy Action Fund, two weeks ago.

“Warmer weather is making the problem worse. But we have a governor who has denied climate change. He reduced monitoring, he reduced water standards, he reduced enforcement, and we’re all bearing the burden.”

The report makes no mention of that being the case.

Marine scientists from USF and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission deployed an autonomous robotic glider northwest of Clearwater Beach to traverse the middle of the continental shelf between Pasco County and Sarasota County. The glider traveled along a zigzag path between 25 and 50 miles offshore where red tide is thought to originate.

The cool seafloor temperatures and increased salt content came from water upwelled from the deeper Gulf of Mexico and moved toward the shore.

“The persistence of the upwelling circulation through the present time also explains why K. brevis cells were eventually transported around the Florida Keys to the east coast of Florida, thereby causing the present 2018 red tide outbreak to cover three regions, the west coast of Florida, the Panhandle and the east coast of Florida,” said Robert Weisberg, Ph.D., Distinguished University Professor of Physical Oceanography.

The gliders also detected elevated levels of chlorophyll and reduced levels of oxygen. The glider cannot directly measure K. brevis levels, but data indicates it is present and red tide continues to be a threat this year.

Weisberg and others have been able to account for the occurrence or nonoccurrence of red tide 20 out of the last 25 years by tracking ocean circulation. His team previously predicted June would be a lousy month for red tide.

The report notes that regularly sampling water off Florida’s west coast is crucial in understanding the state’s coastal ocean ecology, which gives researchers a better ability to predict human-induced or natural changes in water quality.

The report notes, as Scott’s office has done in all its red tide-related announcements, red tide is a naturally occurring phenomenon; some years, it’s worse than others.

Scott’s office has allocated millions for mitigation, research and restoration and recently allocated $3 million in relief funds for businesses negatively impacted by lost clientele as visitors steer clear of affected beaches.

Red tide causes minor to severe respiratory discomfort, coughing and, in some cases, illness. Dead fish washing ashore also creates a foul odor.

Chip LaMarca widens HD 93 fundraising lead

Republican candidate Chip LaMarca remains well ahead in fundraising in the race for House District 93.

LaMarca pulled in another $53,344 from Sept. 15 to 28, bringing his overall fundraising total to $418,245. He also spent $21,055 during the same period, most of which went toward consulting, advertising and campaign signs.

That leaves LaMarca with just over 331,000 on hand.

His Democratic opponent, Emma Collum, brought in just $9,071 from Sept. 15 to 28. The vast majority of those donations were individual contributions between $25 and $100. Collum’s campaign is now sitting on $51,443, less than 1/6 of LaMarca’s total.

But Collum also earned an ‘angel donation‘ of $200,000 back in June, which erases much of that deficit.

The latest numbers come from reports filed with the Florida Division of Elections.

Collum has been an outspoken critic of Brett Kavanaugh, who was recently sworn in as the next Supreme Court Justice, as well as his Republican defenders.

Though Broward County typically leans Democratic, HD 93 has been an exception. Term-limited state Rep. George Moraitis, a Republican, won his 2016 race by about 8 percentage points.

Mike Caruso outraises Jim Bonfiglio by $30K in latest period

Democratic candidate Jim Bonfiglio remains on top of the cash-on-hand contest in House District 89. But for the second straight reporting period, Republican Mike Caruso is closing that gap.

Bonfiglio actually spent more than he brought in from Sept. 15 to 28. His campaign earned $4,083 but spent $5,149. That leaves him with $74,712 to spend in the closing weeks of the campaign.

Caruso was well ahead of Bonfiglio in the latest reports, bringing in $34,045. He dropped $10,738 in the same period, giving Caruso $37,892 in cash, about half of Bonfiglio’s total.

Caruso has actually raised far more than Bonfiglio overall, but was forced to spend heavily in his primary contest against Matt Spritz. Bonfiglio was able to secure the Democratic nomination without heavy spending.

Many of Caruso’s donations this period came from various political committees such as Daniel Perez‘ Conservatives for a Better Florida, Florida HIV AIDS PAC, and Florida Beer Wholesalers Political Committee. The Republican Party of Florida also dropped $20,000 into the race.

The contest is expected to be close. Term-limited Republican state Rep. Bill Hager showed some vulnerability in previous elections. HD 89 covers coastal portions of Palm Beach County.

David Perez SD 36

David Perez edges Manny Diaz in latest fundraising haul

The candidates for Senate District 36 were in a virtual dead heat in the latest fundraising period, each approaching $100,000 raised between their respective campaigns and political committees.

David Perez, the Democratic nominee, earned just $12,645 in donations to his campaign from Sept. 15 to 28. But his political committee, Floridians for Change, brought in $84,600 during the same period for a total of $97,245.

His republican opponent, Manny Diaz, hauled in $70,000 to his campaign. That was bolstered by $27,000 in donations to his political committee, Better Florida Education. That left him just $245 short of Perez, with $97,000 raised in total.

Diaz maintains a hefty cash-on-hand lead on Perez, however. Between his campaign and political committee, Diaz is sitting on nearly $180,000. That compares with just over $35,000 for Perez.

This is an open race, as incumbent state Sen. Rene Garcia is term-limited. The outgoing Republican has endorsed Diaz as his successor.

The district covers an inland portion of northern Miami-Dade County including Miami Lakes, Hialeah, and Miami Springs.

Donna Shalala ‘sleeping on the job?’ NRCC thinks so

A new web video from the National Republican Congressional Committee accuses Democratic candidate Donna Shalala of sleepwalking through her campaign in Florida’s 27th Congressional District.

The NRCC, which aims to help elect Republicans to the House of Representatives, is backing Shalala’s opponent in the race, former broadcaster Maria Elvira Salazar. The group has named Salazar to its “Young Guns” campaign.

The video from the NRCC, titled “Tired Out,” argues Shalala is falling behind in the contest.

“Donna Shalala has been sleeping on the job,” reads the text on the screen. “Even Democrats think so.”

The ad then flashes a Miami Herald headline spotlighting former President Barack Obama‘s endorsement of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum in his newest list of endorsements. That list notably excluded Shalala.

The video then closes with one more shot at Shalala: “Donna Shalala: Fired up. Ready to go? More like tired out. Ready to snooze.”

The Shalala campaign criticized the ad, linking the NRCC’s tactics to those of President Donald Trump.

“Yet another Trump-like tactic from an arm of the Trump Party,” said Mike Hernandez, spokesperson for the Shalala campaign.

“Donna Shalala is one of the most qualified congressional candidates in U.S. history. Her experience makes her the most qualified candidate in this election. Secretary Shalala looks forward to debating the issues with her opponents.”

It’s true that Democratic operatives have gone on the record expressing concerns about the CD 27 race. Originally considered a prime pickup opportunity for the Democrats, CD 27 seems to be highly competitive, with polls showing the pair in a tight contest.

Democrats remain hopeful they can win the open seat, vacated by the retiring Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, but it’s no sure thing.

However, the ad’s claims that the lack of an endorsement from Obama bears bad news for the Shalala campaign isn’t quite so clear.

Perhaps he doesn’t fully support her campaign. Or perhaps he feels his endorsement would do more harm than good in a district that has been represented by a Republican for decades. While Obama has earned high approval ratings in his post-presidency, his numbers always showed a sharp split between parties.

Still, the NRCC is feeling confident in their candidate of choice.

“Donna Shalala is asleep at the wheel of her own campaign,” said NRCC Spokeswoman Maddie Anderson.

“Meanwhile, Maria Elvira Salazar is energized, engaged, and interacting with the people of Florida’s 27th District – her soon-to-be constituents.”

Jeff Brandes still up double digits in SD 24 re-election battle

St. Pete Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes is sitting pretty a month out from Election Day according to a new poll of his contest against Democratic nominee Lindsay Cross.

A new St. Pete Polls survey, commissioned by Florida Politics, found the longtime lawmaker with an 11-point lead over Cross, 52-41 percent with the remaining 7 percent of voters in the Pinellas County district unsure how they’ll vote come November.

The fresh poll, conducted Oct. 6 and 7, shows a marked decrease in undecided voters from St. Pete Polls’ previous measure. That poll, released in mid-August, showed Brandes with a 39-19 percent lead over Cross, putting them both behind “undecided,” which accounted for 42 percent of likely voters.

Brandes’ lead skyrockets among the one-in-seven voters who said they had already cast their ballot. That crowd preferred the U.S. Army veteran by a 32 percent margin, though 6 percent of them said they were “undecided” — whether that means the SD 24 contest will present a bundle of undervotes or that the Pinellas electorate is suffering from memory loss is unclear.

The race was tighter among those who said they hadn’t voted yet but that they planned on making it to the polls, with Brandes pulling an even 50 percent of the vote to Cross’ 42 percent.

Other good news for Brandes: 51 percent of likely SD 24 voters said they had a favorable view of President Donald Trump, giving him a plus-6 favorability rating within the boundaries of the southern Pinellas seat. That rating represents a 1 percentage point drop from the margin-of-victory SD 24 voters handed Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

Brandes also scored high marks among his constituents, who see him favorably by a 49-27 percent margin. He fared even better among those who’ve already ticked a box, earning a plus-39 percent favorability rating. Those who haven’t voted yet look poised to stay the course as well. They see the incumbent positively by a 19-point margin.

The St. Pete Republican also got a boost on Monday by way of an endorsement from FMA PAC, the political arm of the Florida Medical Association.

“The FMA PAC is proud to endorse Senator Jeff Brandes for re-election. We’ve worked closely with him during his time in the House and Senate and we look forward to continuing our work to ensure Florida patients have the very best health care,” said committee president Mike Patete.

Cross, meanwhile, is improving but still treading water when it comes to name ID. She earned a plus-5 favorability rating overall; a minus-8 among early voters; and a plus 8 among those who’ve yet to vote.

In each instance, however, more than a quarter of respondents said they didn’t know enough to have an opinion on Cross, who recently left as executive director of the Florida Wildlife Corridor.

Brandes’ lead is partially attributable to his strong support among Republicans and independent voters, whom he leads 81-15 percent and 47-42 percent, respectively. The Democratic base isn’t as keen on Cross — 70 percent of Dem voters said they would back her, but a fifth say they’re on Team Brandes.

Further down the poll, Brandes holds a clear lead among nearly every slice of the electorate. He holds a 16-point lead among non-Hispanic white voters, who make up 90 percent of the voting age population according to U.S. Census data. He also edges out Cross among men, women, Millennials, Gen Xers, Boomers and older voters.

SD 24 covers most of southern Pinellas County except for the tip of the peninsula, which is included in neighboring SD 19. According to the most recent bookclosing report published by the Florida Division of Elections, Republicans hold a 4-point advantage in voter registrations within the district, which voted in favor of Barack Obama twice before going for Trump in 2016.

Cross entered the race at the end of July, a few weeks after Florida Democrat’s prior pick, trial lawyer Carrie Pilonwithdrew from the contest due to the unexpected health problems of a close family member. During her brief tenure in the race, Pilon worked up from a 9-point deficit in late May to within striking distance by early July.

Though Cross had a lot of ground to gain in name recognition, she’s also been vastly outraised by Brandes, who has raised nearly $919,000 in hard money, including $300,000 from his personal fortune. Adding in the $433,000 he has socked away in his political committee, Liberty Florida, Brandes had $858,000 left to spend on Sept. 28.

Cross, meanwhile, only just broke the six-figure mark for her campaign account and had about $65,000 banked through the same date.

The St. Pete Polls survey received 770 responses from registered voters within SD 24’s borders and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.

Election Day is Nov. 6.

David Perez SD 36

New poll puts David Perez in the lead in battleground SD 36

A new survey from Public Policy Polling (PPP) puts Democratic candidate David Perez ahead of his Republican opponent, Manny Diaz, in the race for Senate District 36.

The results show Perez leading Diaz 41 percent-38 percent, with 21 percent of voters still undecided.

The poll ran from Sept. 28-Oct. 1 and consisted of 358 registered voters in SD 36.

The news comes after Perez was included on the latest list of endorsements from former President Barack Obama.

“With just over a month until Election Day, it’s clear our team has the momentum behind us,” Perez declared.

“Every day when I’m out knocking doors, voters tell me they’re sick and tired of the same old pay-to-play politicians like Manny Diaz. We’re looking forward to continuing to get our message out and to give Northwest Dade a state Senator who will always be on their side.”

PPP also found both candidates with net positive approval ratings. For Perez, 21 percent viewed him favorably and 15 percent unfavorably. More voters were aware of Diaz, with 34 percent rating him favorably and 25 percent unfavorably.

Perez has also reduced the fundraising gap between he and Diaz, though Diaz maintains a lead according to the most recent reports filed with the Florida Division of Elections.

The race for SD 36 is open due to incumbent state Sen. Rene Garcia being term-limited. Garcia, a Republican, has already endorsed Diaz as his preferred successor.

SD 36 covers parts of northwest Miami-Dade County including Hialeah, Miami Lakes, Miami Springs and Doral.

Voters in Charge announces Broward County leadership committee

Voters in Charge, the political committee supporting Amendment 3, has announced its newest leadership committee, this time in Broward County.

Amendment 3 would give voters control over gambling expansion in Florida. Right now, polling shows majority support for the measure, though surveys disagree over whether it will clear the 60-percent threshold required for passage.

“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 Broward County committee members include:

Diane Bendekovic, Mayor of Plantation and former educator

Ben Sorenson, Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner

Richard Rosenzweig, Former Deerfield Beach Commissioner

Donna Pilger Korn, Broward County School Board member

Robin Bartleman, Broward County School Board member

Richard Hoye, First Vice Chair Broward Democratic Party and Broward County Public School teacher

Jeff Pole, Second Vice Chair, Broward Democratic Party

August Mangenay, President of the Margate Democratic Club

Mitchell Stollberg, Chair, Legislative Committee, Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida

Anthony Quackenbush, Democratic Professionals Network

Laurie Plotnick, Democratic Party Area Leader Coral Springs, former educator and principal

The gambling industry is opposing the amendment, arguing it would make it harder to expand access to gambling in the state. FanDuel is the latest major gambling service urging voters to vote ‘no’ in November.

New ad argues Donna Shalala ‘wrecked Hurricanes football’

A new digital ad from American Opportunity PAC argues Donna Shalala, the Democratic candidate for Florida’s 27th Congressional District, “wrecked” the football program during her tenure as president of the University of Miami.

That PAC is supporting Shalala’s opponent in the race, Republican nominee Maria Elvira Salazar.

“In 2002, the Hurricanes were the pride of Miami,” the ad’s narrator begins.

“Then Donna Shalala came to town. Shalala took $50,000 from ponzi schemer Nevin Shapiro and ruined UM football. Sanctions and shame followed. Donna Shalala would be a disaster in Washington.”

The ad is referencing a photo of Shalala accepting that check from Shapiro at a fundraising event. Shapiro’s involvement as a UM booster led to widespread sanctions of the football and basketball programs.

That’s after Shapiro was found to have provided impermissible benefits to athletes at the university for years.

“Shalala’s reckless decision to accept dirty money and her poor oversight as UM president ruined the Miami Hurricanes Football program for over a decade,” said American Opportunity PAC Executive Director Christian Cámara.

“We cannot trust someone with her poor judgment in Congress.”

In comments to POLITICO, Cámara also criticized Shalala’s decision to move the team from the storied Orange Bowl into what is now known as Hard Rock stadium.

“A lot of South Floridians are emotionally attached to the Orange Bowl. It was part of our history. And what Donna did broke their hearts.”

Mike Hernandez, a spokesperson for the Shalala campaign, took issue with that characterization.

“Republicans never allow facts to get in the way of a false narrative,” Hernandez said.

“The city of Miami forced the University of Miami football program out of its lease at the Orange Bowl, not President Shalala.”

But, as POLITICO Florida’s Marc Caputo notes, Shalala decided not to renew the team’s lease as conditions at the Orange Bowl worsened. The city offered more than $200 million in renovations to the stadium to keep the team there, but UM rejected the deal.

“The city of Miami made an extraordinary effort to identify funds and design a renovation,” Shalala was quoted as saying at the time.

“But in the end, it wasn’t enough.”

Robert Asencio gets a walking buddy for campaign trail

U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois is set to join state Rep. Robert Asencio for canvassing on Friday.

Gutierrez will go door-to-door with Asencio across House District 118.

Asencio, the Democratic incumbent, is defending his seat against Republican challenger Anthony Rodriguez.

Gutierrez and Asencio will visit voters in Tamiami, Kendall, The Crossings, Kendale Lakes, and Country Walk, according to a release from the Asencio campaign.

The two legislators, both of Puerto Rican descent, have spoken out regarding the response to Hurricane Maria hitting the island last year.

They also were among a contingent of Puerto Rican officials across the U.S. to endorse Andrew Gillum’s gubernatorial campaign earlier this week.

“The Congressman is in Miami to work with and build support for fellow Puerto Rican leaders ahead of the 2018 midterm elections,” said the Asencio campaign of Gutierrez.

Gutierrez is not seeking re-election in 2018. Friday’s canvassing event will run 2:30-4:30 p.m.

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