2018 midterms Archives - Page 6 of 48 - Florida Politics

Lauren Baer brings in $1.6M in latest fundraising period

The Lauren Baer campaign announced Friday it had raised more than $1.6 million in the third quarter of 2018.

That means her campaign to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Mast has pulled in more than $3 million since launch.

Baer defeated former navy JAG Pam Keith to become the Democratic candidate in Florida’s 18th Congressional District.

“While traveling our great district over the past year, I’ve been overwhelmed by the incredible support this campaign has received,” Baer said.

“As we near the finish line I want to give my sincere thanks to everyone who has supported our effort by knocking on doors, donating, phone banking, and registering voters. This campaign is about working hard for every American, not special interests, and together, we’re going to win big in November.”

Baer did have a large cash-on-hand deficit to make up as of the previous reports filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

Those numbers showed Baer with about half of Mast’s total of $1.8 million available. It’s not clear how much, if any, of that gap has been closed for the campaign’s final month. Mast’s third quarter numbers have not yet been posted by the FEC.

Baer’s campaign recently released a poll showing her within striking distance of Mast. She’s also received endorsements in the last few weeks from former Vice President Joe Biden and former Secretary of State John Kerry.

However, elections analysts agree that this district remains in the “likely Republican” category for now.

Nelson AFP-Action ad

Americans for Prosperity Action spending $1M-plus on anti-Bill Nelson ads

Americans for Prosperity-Action (AFP-Action) said Friday that it’s anteing up “seven-figures” for digital and direct mail campaigns urging voters to send Bill Nelson packing after three terms in the U.S. Senate.

The new AFP-FL digital ad, titled “Bill Nelson Has Had 30 Years,” hits the longtime Democratic lawmaker’s perceived lack of progress on health care, one of the top issues for Florida voters in November.

“If you gave an elected official three decades to fix health care, what results would you expect? Bill Nelson has had 30 years,” the ad says. “Nelson voted in favor of Obamacare, lining the pockets of his donor friends while raising costs for everyone else. Nelson supported the individual mandate, punishing those who couldn’t pay. Higher costs, less access. Bill Nelson had 30 years and made health care worse. He doesn’t deserve another six years.”

AFP-FL did not include examples of the direct mail ads in its announcement, though odds are they will also be health care focused as Chris Hudson, senior adviser to AFP-Action, largely echoed the digital ad’s script in a Friday statement.

“Bill Nelson’s vote for the failed health care law punished Florida families with higher insurance premiums — 84 percent higher — and lined the pockets of pharmaceutical companies,” Hudson said. “Bill Nelson has had 30 years to fix health care and didn’t do anything. He doesn’t deserve another six.”

Nelson is up against term-limited Republican Gov. Rick Scott in the fall. Most polling indicates the race will head down to the wire, though that’s a change of pace from early on when Scott led thanks in part to his vast financial advantage allowing him to hit the airwaves early.

Nelson is one of 10 Democratic Senators running for re-election in a state carried by Donald Trump two years ago, and a recent analysis by Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight listed him as the “most vulnerable” Senate Democrat on the ballot.

“It might seem surprising that the fundamentals calculation regards Florida’s Bill Nelson as the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent since Florida is quite purple and there are Democrats up for re-election in some genuinely red states” … “Nelson has a very good challenger in Florida Gov. Rick Scott; one way our model accounts for candidate quality is by looking at the highest elected office the opponent has held, with races against current or former governors or senators falling into the top category.”

Florida’s U.S. Senate election is seen as a “must-win” by national Democrats, who are holding out hope they can flip both chambers of Congress in the fall. Republicans currently hold a 51-49 advantage in the Senate.

The digital ad is below.

Vern Buchanan campaign raises another $500K for re-election bid

The Vern Buchanan campaign announced it would be reporting a haul of $500,000 raised during the third quarter. That would leave the campaign’s cash on hand at more than $1.4 million.

Buchanan, the Republican incumbent in Florida’s 16th Congressional District, has kept up a cash lead over his Democratic challenger, David Shapiro. It’s not clear where Shapiro stands against Buchanan’s updated numbers. The reports are not due to the Federal Election Commission until later this month.

Shapiro did manage to outraise Buchanan in the previous reporting period. However, Shapiro may have been aided by his competition in the Democratic primary against Jan Schneider. Buchanan was unopposed on the Republican side.

If Buchanan can hold onto his fundraising lead, that would leave him sitting pretty as we approach Election Day on Nov. 6. A recent pair of polls have shown Buchanan with a sizable lead against Shapiro. Add in a money advantage and it would be an uphill climb to unseat the incumbent.

The two candidates have recently traded barbs in dueling ads over recent red tide outbreaks. Buchanan’s spot touted his work on combating the crisis, while Shapiro hit him for not doing enough.

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell in new ad: ‘We deserve clean water’

Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, the Democratic candidate in Florida’s 26th Congressional District, is out with a new ad on the state’s water problems. The ad’s release comes on the same day as multiple beaches were closed across South Florida in light of a red tide outbreak.

Mucarsel-Powell is attempting to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo. Her new ad, titled “We Deserve Clean Water,” puts the blame on Republicans for not doing enough to protect Florida’s environment.

The ad is devoid of audible narration, instead relying on the visual of Mucarsel-Powell scuba diving, displaying signs underwater to call for “real action” on the environment.

“Our water, our reef, our environment are in danger,” reads the text on the screen amid numerous underwater shots.

“Republicans have done nothing.”

That’s when Mucarsel-Powell appears in full scuba gear, holding signs which say, in succession, “I’m Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. I’m running for Congress. I will take real action.”

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection announced Thursday it was offering $3 million in grants to South Florida counties dealing with the red tide outbreak.

Recent polls from Democratically-aligned groups have shown Mucarsel-Powell slightly ahead of Curbelo in the race. Election analysts at FiveThirtyEight and the Cook Political Report now see the contest as a tossup, though Larry Sabato and Inside Elections both have Curbelo as a small favorite.

For Our Future Florida to launch statewide day of action

Progressive group For Our Future Florida (FOF-FL) is launching a statewide day of action this Saturday, which happens to serve as the one-month mark until the midterm elections.

“Saturday’s events will see hundreds of volunteers at over 70 neighborhood canvassing events from Tallahassee to Miami encouraging Floridians to cast their ballots for November,” said Blake Williams, a spokesperson for the group.

FOF-FL says it has already knocked on more than 500,000 doors in an effort to convince voters to elect Democrats on Nov. 6. Now that vote-by-mail ballots have begun to be sent out, FOF-FL says it is ramping up its operation.

The group has already promised resources to help unseat state Sens. Keith Perry and Dana Young. FOF-FL has also highlighted its support for U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in his quest to defend his seat from Republican Rick Scott, as well as Andrew Gillum‘s contest against Ron DeSantis in the Governor’s race.

Gillum is attempting to be the first Democrat to hold that position in two decades.

“Progressive voters are more fired up than ever to bring change to Florida for the first time in 20 years, and it’s shown in For Our Future Florida’s large-scale volunteer program,” Williams said.

“FOF-FL will be channeling that enthusiasm for change among Democratic voters into voter outreach and action at the polls.”

Email insights: No-hoper Javier Manjarres still sore after primary beatdown

It has been more than a month since the primary elections but failed congressional candidate Javier Manjarres is still blasting out emails from his clown show of a campaign.

The blogger’s latest Dumpster fire diatribe features grapes so sour they could be mistaken for lemons. Despite losing the three-way Republican primary for Florida’s 22nd Congressional District by 7 points to Nicolas Kimaz, Manjarres tells the few remaining souls who’re still strapped into his echo chamber that there isn’t a real conservative option for CD 22 in the fall.

“Unfortunately, there are Republican congressional candidates that conduct their campaign with the utmost contempt and disrespect for voters, looking to con would-be voters into believing egregious lies about others just for political expediency,” he writes, unironically. “These are not the America First Republican candidates that President [Donald] Trump and most Americans support.

“As you know, this is sadly the case in Florida’s 22nd Congressional District. Republicans, Independents, and Democrats have two options in CD 22, neither of those options are worthy of their vote,” he continues.

The post facto purity test he’s imposing is only the latest example of Manjarres’ disconnect from reality. During his CD 22 campaign, he refused to produce the DD-214 for his brief stint in the U.S. Air Force. That Trumpian-level document dodge happened as Manjarres is still dealing with the legal fallout of accusing a former U.S. Marine of “stolen valor.”

When Florida Politics confronted him about his shady service record – which ended in boot camp – as well as his blatantly misleading mailers, his only defense was more offense. His response: “Florida Politics is a hack website published by someone accused of pay for play, and has a political agenda, and use[d] to write for the liberal website [D]aily Kos.”

But now the Shark Tank provocateur, who was not above exploiting the Parkland massacre for his ill-advised campaign, fancies himself the arbiter of conservative politics in the Broward and Palm Beach-based CD 22.

“The Democrat wants to pass laws to further his liberal agenda, while the so-called ‘Republican’ wants to go to Congress to introduce and pass laws that specifically benefit the Muslim majority nation of Lebanon,” he writes. “Is this what you will be voting for on November 6? Will you vote to make a Muslim nation great again?”

Though he recommends voting a straight Republican ticket in other races, he says “the only real option for voters in FL CD 22 may be to refrain from voting for the next member to the U.S. House of Representatives.

“… Trust me when I tell you that Republicans will have a better option come the 2020 general election. There isn’t a path to victory in CD 22 this election cycle, and we all know it,” he concludes

Mark Majarres down as a masochist. Of course, he would have been pounded into the dust by Democratic U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch in the general election and is throwing a toddler-level tantrum that he isn’t the tomato can on the ballot.

Vern Buchanan leads David Shapiro by 9 in new survey

A new survey of the contest Florida’s 16th Congressional District between Democrat David Shapiro and Republican U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan gives the incumbent the edge. Buchanan leads Shapiro 49 percent to 40 percent, while 11 percent remain undecided.

The poll was conducted by the Public Opinion Research Lab at the University of North Florida. The survey ran from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 and contained a sample of 499 likely voters.

Shapiro does hold a 9-point lead among non-party affiliated and third-party voters. However, the Republican lean of the district tilts the overall vote to Buchanan, who leads with GOP voters 82 percent to 8 percent.

Unsurprisingly, the environment was named the most important issue in the district, with 22 percent listing it as their top concern. The area has been hit hard by the red tide crisis.

“The recent red tide is impacting a lot of the Florida coast, perhaps nowhere more than this area,” said Public Opinion Research Lab Director Dr. Michael Binder.

“Voters are concerned; this issue is on their minds and driving their votes.”

Health care came in second with 18 percent, followed by immigration with 17 percent.

The head-to-head results echo what other polls have shown, with a St. Pete Polls survey released earlier in the week showing Buchanan up by 7 points. That’s in line with analysts who see Buchanan as they favorite, though they disagree about the degree of his lead.

Poll puts Lauren Baer within 3 points of Brian Mast

The Lauren Baer campaign has released a new poll showing her just three points behind Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Mast.

Baer, the Democratic nominee in Florida’s 18th Congressional District, pulled in 45 percent support while Mast earned 48 percent.

The survey was conducted by Global Strategy Group (GSG) Sept. 26-30 and sampled 400 likely voters. The results have a margin of error of 4.9 percentage points.

As usual, beware of reading too much into polls released by campaigns, as they tend to have a bias toward the candidate releasing them.

That’s likely the case here, as GSG is a C+ rated pollster which has one of the largest biases toward Democratic candidates of any pollster analyzed by FiveThirtyEight. On average, GSG’s results favor Democrats by an extra two percentage points.

Still, it’s not implausible that this race is winnable for Democrats. Another recent poll commissioned by a Democratic Party-aligned group, Protect Our Care, also found Baer trailing by three.

Baer has also pulled in some big-time endorsements recently, earning support from former Secretary of State John Kerry and former Vice President Joe Biden.

GSG shows Baer with potential to expand her base of support, as only 52 percent of voters know her enough to give her a favorability rating.

Overall, 32 percent of voters rated her favorably, while 20 percent rated her unfavorably. Mast’s ratings were 44 percent favorable, 39 percent unfavorable.

Despite the pair of polls showing Baer close behind Mast, major analysts seem to agree this race is “likely” to remain in Republicans’ hands — as of now.

New Brian Mast ad promotes ‘paying it forward’

Incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Mast is out with a new ad touting his donation of a prosthetic leg to a cancer survivor in need.

The 30-second spot is titled “Pay It Forward.” Robert Brown, who lost his leg in a cancer battle more than 30 years ago, tells the story of meeting Mast at a charity event, where Mast made the decision to pass one of his own prosthetics to Robert. Mast is a double amputee, caused by an IED explosion while he was serving in Afghanistan.

“Before Brian Mast literally gave me one of his legs, for over 30 years I was in constant pain.”

“He struggled to walk, he struggled to move,” added his wife, Pascale.

“When he would be around new people, he would be timid to even walk to greet them. So, I guess I felt helpless ‘cause we looked into, you know, getting new legs and things like that, and that’s not something that we could afford at that time.

“So, him saying ‘oh, you know, I met this guy at a fundraising event and he’s giving me a new leg,’ and I was in disbelief. I actually cried when I first saw him walking straight for the first time — able to walk like a normal functioning person.”

“I think about Brian Mast every single day,” Robert added.

“His generosity has changed my life.”

Mast has also supported several House bills to promote access to and funding for prosthetics. Those bills include the Medicare Part B Improvement Act passed in 2017, as well as HR 1892 and HR 5895, which passed earlier this year.

Mast is competing against former State Department adviser and Democratic nominee Lauren Baer.

Face off: Bill Nelson and Rick Scott trade shots in first debate

Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican challenger Rick Scott met face-to-face Tuesday for the first debate in their U.S. Senate race.

Both candidates came armed with clear-cut messages they hammered throughout the discussion. Scott accused Nelson of failing to get anything done during his long tenure in Washington. And Nelson repeatedly framed Scott’s statements as untrue, arguing the election is about integrity.

The candidates met at the studios of Telemundo 51 in Miramar for the taping, which will air Tuesday night at 7 p.m. The debate was moderated by Jackie Nespral of NBC6 and Marilys Llanos of Telemundo 51.

Candidates were given 90 seconds to answer each question, and the first candidate to answer was offered 30 seconds for a rebuttal. No time was allotted for an opening statement, leaving the moderators to jump right in with questions.

The first topic was immigration, where Nelson called for a comprehensive immigration reform plan. He also hit Gov. Scott over the child separations which have occurred under the Donald Trump administration.

“While that was happening, my opponent was silent,” Nelson said of those separations.

That’s not exactly true, as Scott did say back in June he does not support families being separated. However, Scott blamed the problem on the failure to “secure our borders,” rather than on the Trump administration’s actions.

Scott also used the topic to begin his attacks on Nelson’s alleged inaction as a lawmaker, saying “My opponent has had 40 years to do something on immigration and he has absolutely done nothing.”

However, as Nelson noted, he and the Senate passed a comprehensive immigration bill back in 2013. That bill later died in the House.

But Scott followed up on those attacks by saying Nelson should have advanced legislation to stop the separation of immigrant families. Trump eventually attempted to reverse course on the policy, though larger bills to address the immigration system failed.

Nelson battled back against Scott’s accusations by noting a finding by Politifact that nine out of nine Rick Scott ads reviewed by the organization contained falsehoods.

“He tries to distract,” said Nelson. Scott responded by asserting Politifact was an “arm of the Tampa Bay Times” and was a de facto part of the Democratic Party.

The topic then turned toward gun reform. Nelson referenced Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was killed during February’s mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School. Guttenberg was in the audience for Tuesday’s debate.

“I hope that you will look Fred in the face and tell him that you are not going to support those kinds of policies that you have with the NRA,” Nelson said to Scott.

The Governor said that while he feels for the victims of mass shootings, “I believe in the 2nd Amendment. I believe in the 1st Amendment. I believe in all the Amendments in the Bill of Rights.”

Scott did point to the bill Florida passed following the Parkland shooting, and once again accused Nelson of inaction at the federal level.

Candidates were then asked how they would increase economic security for Floridians. Nelson claimed an increase in the minimum wage law is necessary.

“Raise the minimum wage to $12 at least, if not $15, to raise the income level so people can pay for the necessities of life and feed their families.”

Scott shot back, saying “I think this is an example of why we need term limits.” He argued Nelson’s support of tax raises and increased regulation would hurt employers’ ability to hire more workers.

The two traded similar barbs over health care and the red tide crisis. Scott bashed Nelson for not solving these issues during his time in the Senate, arguing the Affordable Care Act did not live up to its promises.

Meanwhile, Nelson hit Scott over rejecting Medicaid expansion for Florida and cutting the state budget to combat the red tide problem.

“This election is about integrity and trust,” Nelson argued.

Scott was also challenged on his efforts to distance himself from President Trump after Trump called into question the death toll in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.

When asked by the moderators whether he was simply attempting to recruit the votes of Puerto Ricans who have fled to Florida, Scott said, “I don’t think about politics that way. I think about how you help families.”

Scott then talked about his various trips to the island and efforts to work with Gov. Ricardo Rossello throughout the storm and its aftermath.

That’s when Nelson reminded Scott that Rossello endorsed Nelson’s campaign on Monday, though Rossello did call it a tough decision.

Nelson also hammered Scott over saying “I don’t know what I’d do differently” than the federal government following the storm. The latest estimates put the death toll in Puerto Rico at close to 3,000 people.

Scott’s strongest line of attack was arguably regarding Nelson’s unsubstantiated claims of Russian interference in Florida’s election systems.

“I don’t know what his plan was,” Scott said of Nelson’s claims.

“Did he want to make people uncomfortable?”

When given the chance, Nelson dodged directly answering Scott’s questioning over the assertions of interference, which Scott made sure to note for the audience.

The final topic of the night was the Governor’s race between Democrat Andrew Gillum and Republican Ron DeSantis. Scott reiterated his support for DeSantis and attempted to tie Nelson to the Democratic candidate.

“Sen. Nelson and Andrew Gillum will kill the economy,” Scott argued.

That’s when Nelson once again returned fire over Scott’s alleged falsehoods, saying, “Apparently you never got your mouth washed out with soap after telling a lie.”

Nelson asserted that voters’ reaction to Scott’s tenure as Governor will drive Gillum to victory in the race.

It’s hard to say whether the back-and-forth will push either candidate into a comfortable lead. Polls have shown the race as a close contest. While Scott held the lead in most surveys throughout the summer, Nelson has been ahead in more recent polls.

The next debate between the two will be aired on CNN on Oct. 16. That discussion will be moderated by Wolf Blitzer.

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