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Eva Longoria Baston brings Latina superstars to rally for Andrew Gillum

Some of the most prominent Latina names on American television gathered in Kissimmee to promote Democrat Andrew Gillum’s candidacy for governor.

Eva Longoria Bastón, Zoe Saldana, America Ferrera, Gina Rodriguez and Rosario Dawson, each one wearing a “Phenomenally Latina” T-shirt, shared a stage together with R. Jai Gillum.

The actress-activists stressed the importance of making Hispanic voters count this election.

“I need you to put a face a face to our democracy,” Dawson said.

Salsa singer Frankie Negrón also appeared at the event.

The political rally held more star power than most.

Longoria Bastón, best known for her role on Desperate Housewives, has been involved for years in Democratic politics, and she spoke at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

So did Ferrera, star of NBC’s Superstore, and she served regularly as a surrogate for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Rodriguez, star of the CW’s Florida-based Jane The Virgin, includes political storylines about immigration and other issues on her show regularly and endorsed Clinton in 2016.

Dawson, who starred in the film adaptation of Rent, has been involved in activism for years, recently recording an anti-Donald Trump PSA. She’s even toyed with the idea of running for office.

Saldana, star of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, said she felt moved to get involved in politics after having children.

The women visited Florida for an early voting rally organized by The Latino Victory Fund, a national political committee funded by George Soros. Longoria Bastón co-founded the organization in 2014 with Texas philanthropist and activist Henry Munoz III

Voters rallied in Kissimmee at 65th Infantry Veterans Park, in the heavily Puerto Rican Buenaventura Lakes community.

The actresses plan to hold another early voting rally today in Miami at the Ball & Chain, Ferrera announced on social media.

“We need to speak out by voting,” read a message posted on Twitter by Saldana and Longoria Bastón.

‘America’s Mayor’ Rudy Giuliani slams ‘failed Mayor’ Andrew Gillum

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani bolstered the gubernatorial campaign of Ron DeSantis on Sunday in Daytona.

“America’s Mayor,” who was in prime form at his first stop for the campaign, was most quotable when bashing Democratic candidate Andrew Gillum.

Calling Gillum a “socialist” and a “failed mayor running for governor,” Giuliani said the election would be a ten-point spread “if the media covered it fairly.”

“How about just fair coverage? How about the good things Ron DeSantis might have done … instead of the one or two things he might have done wrong, I don’t know what they are,” Giuliani said.

“Don’t try to fool us with a failed Mayor … with an anti-Israel, anti-law enforcement mayor,” Giuliani said (seemingly rhetorically) to the Democratic Party.

Giuliani wondered how “the guy who set the record for the most murders [in the history of Tallahassee] has the balls to run for anything else.”

“He doesn’t know what he’s doing. I could tell him how to reduce crime in Tallahassee … he set his own record, like Babe Ruth,” Giuliani said.

Much of Giuliani’s commentary involved musings about how biased reporting was misinterpreting the Trump movement.

Giuliani was joined by Attorney General Pam Bondi, who said DeSantis was a “prosecutor. That’s what we need right now, not someone being investigated.”

Bringing it home: Jacksonville GOTV Sunday for Jesse Jackson

The Rev. Jesse Jackson decades back was a transformative Democratic candidate for President. Those days are gone, but he’s still working to GOTV. Sunday’s iteration is in Jacksonville.

Jackson’s visit has a different vibe than his 2016 visit.

While he was hopeful that early voting turnout was juiced, local Democrats on hand were less optimistic, a pessimism validated when Donald Trump took Florida.

2018’s campaign is radically different. Jacksonville Democrats strongly embraced eventual nominee Andrew Gillum ahead of the primary, and they are winning the turnout battle as Souls to the Polls Sunday gets underway.

As of this writing (11:20 a.m.), Jacksonville Democrats have cast 44.9 percent of the 207,797 ballots. Republicans cast 41 percent, despite a number of high-profile national surrogates such as Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Lindsey Graham coming to town to juice turnout.

Jackson has been appearing with U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, who will waltz to a general election victory Tuesday.

He also has two rallies Sunday afternoon.

2 p.m. finds Jackson at the Legends Center. 4:00 p.m finds him at the Eastside Bring It Home Rally at 1096 A. Philip Randolph Blvd.

Rain is in the area, and whether that dampens Souls to the Polls turnout remains to be seen. There is no Corrine Brown helming the Duval Democratic machine.

In that context, it is interesting that Dems are having their best turnout year in many cycles.

Ron DeSantis to Donald Trump: ‘We can save you a lot of money’

Does a personal relationship with President Donald Trump make it easier to do a good job for Florida?

Well, Ron DeSantis on Saturday night promised that as Florida Governor, he would try to lure Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump to relocate The Trump Organization to Palm Beach County. “We can save you a lot of money,” the Republican gubernatorial nominee said.

The exchange, at a Pensacola rally, prompted a rapid response from Florida Democrats.

“Before our very eyes, Ron DeSantis literally promised to bribe the Trump organization to come to Florida,” said Florida Democratic Party spokesman Kevin Donohoe. “DeSantis won’t invest more money in our schools — but he’s happy to offer Donald Trump cash to come to Florida.”

Gov. Rick Scott, the Republican U.S. Senate nominee, at the same event said it was his pestering of Trump that landed the funding to speed repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee.

“He [Trump] invited me to the Oval Office. I said, what are we doing about Lake Okeechobee?” Scott said.

The comments came at Trump’s last visit to Florida in advance of the midterm elections. The president riled up Republican voters at the Pensacola International Airport for his second Sunshine State “Make America Great Again” rally this week

Trump touched on many of the same talking points raised at a Fort Myers rally on Wednesday night.

Most importantly, he stressed the importance of sending Scott to the U.S. Senate and DeSantis to the governor’s mansion, and he laid into both men’s Democratic opponents.

“In Rick’s case, he’s going up against someone who’s falling asleep,” Trump said, referencing incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.

Today, Trump tweeted that Nelson never once called him in the past two years. He hit on the same point in his speech in Pensacola. “He never calls and says I’d like to do something for Florida,” Trump said.

Scott said during his first six years as Governor, he repeatedly called on President Barack Obama and on Nelson to fund dike repairs because that’s a federal project, but said he never saw any funding come Florida’s way.

As for the Governor’s race, Trump laid heavily into Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum.

“In Ron’s case, its somebody who has a lot of energy but is running one of the worst cities in the country,” Trump said.

The slam on Tallahassee, Gillum’s city, comes a day after a mass shooter killed two women and himself and left five more injured.

One significant difference in tone at this rally compared to the Fort Myers rally? While Trump continued to hammer on immigration and the need to build a wall, he pushed hard on ending “birthright citizenship” on Wednesday. Tonight, Trump talked about the need for qualified immigrants to come to the country legally and for criminals and illegals to be kept out.

“They have to come through legally. That to come in on their merits,” he said. “They need to help all the companies moving back to Florida and back to the United States.”

Scott, after campaigning with South Carolina Sen. Lindsay Graham, released a statement making similar contrasts in legal versus illegal immigration.

Al Sharpton campaigning Sunday in Miami congregations for Amendment 4

The Rev. Al Sharpton travels to Miami today to promote the restoration of felons’ voting rights and rally voters to the polls.

The noted civil rights voice and founding president of the National Action Network gets an early start today.

He’ll be at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church of Miami Gardens for service at 7 a.m. Then he heads to New Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church at 7:45 a.m. He plans to do a radio record mid-morning before attending New Birth Baptist Church at 10:15 a.m.

The National Action Network stressed in their announcement of Sharpton’s visit that he will be in town promoting Amendment 4, which would automatically restore the voting rights for most ex-convicts once they complete restitution to the state.

That measure this year has drawn support from a broad coalition of liberal civil rights advocates like the ACLU and conservative evangelicals celebrating personal redemption such as the Christian Coalition of America.

So Sharpton, in town with that ballot measure in mind, has stressed the key reason for his visit remains raising voter turnout across the board.

“I’m out in Miami to get people out on the last day of voting no matter who they vote for,” he said during an MSNBC spot Saturday.

But it’s probably not difficult to discern who Sharpton wants to see win out on Tuesday. In August, he spoke out against Florida’s Stand Your Ground law at a Pinellas County event with all major Democratic candidates, including now-nominee Andrew Gillum, in attendance.

And Sharpton for years served as a voice in Democratic politics, running for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004.

And he recently declined to answer a question from Buzzfeed News on whether he’s considering challenging Republican President Donald Trump in 2020.

At age 64, the New York minister remains one of the most prominent minority leaders in the nation.

Safe this election, Charlie Crist hits the trail for other Democrats

Democratic Congressman Charlie Crist is looking at an easy re-election Tuesday against a less than formidable challenge from Republican George Buck.

That’s likely why he’s spending his time campaigning with other Democrats throughout the state to help them get elected.

Crist started his Saturday in Tampa near Ybor City making the rounds with Chris King, the Lieutenant Governor nominee running with Democrat Andrew Gillum.

Then he made his way through several different canvassing kickoffs in Pinellas County to support local Democrats.

“President Obama put it better than anybody: This election is about the character of America,” Crist said.

“Do we want to be uniters or dividers; do we want to be hopeful or fearful? I hear from a lot of people that are very concerned about the tone in our country right now and the rhetoric and the violence that we’ve sadly witnessed.”

Crist says he’s fed up with modern political discourse, particularly from President Donald Trump, that emphasizes vitriol and potentially promotes violence rather than unity.

The man accused of sending pipe bombs to more than a dozen prominent Democratic officials and supporters — including former President Barack Obama, 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and top Democratic donor George Soros — lived in South Florida and drove a white van plastered in pro-Trump stickers and propaganda.

Crist also mentioned the anti-Semitic shooter in Pittsburgh that shot up a Jewish synagogue, claiming the lives of 11 congregants.

“I think it makes a difference,” Crist said of the recent incidents. “Any significant event that touches your heart makes a difference. It’s not about politics, it’s about our character.”

Obama made that point in a Friday appearance in Miami supporting Gillum for Governor and incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson for U.S. Senate.

In a nod to Crist’s predecessor, former U.S. Rep. David Jolly who left the Republican Party and said he voted for Gillum, Obama said the two probably don’t see eye-to-eye on political issues.

But Jolly recognized the rhetoric coming from the Trump White House and couldn’t support Ron DeSantis, who closely aligns with and supports Trump.

More significantly, DeSantis was endorsed by the president, which almost certainly clinched the Republican nomination for Governor this August over otherwise GOP heir apparent Adam Putnam, the state’s term-limited Agriculture Commissioner. 

In addition to Gillum and Nelson, Crist also is urging voters to support Democrats in Florida cabinet races. That includes Sean Shaw for Attorney General and Nikki Fried for Agriculture Commissioner.

Those races and legislative runs are important for Democrats because if Gillum is elected, he’ll need allies in the House, Senate and on the Cabinet to support his campaign priorities.

One of the most notable is Gillum’s plan to raise teacher pay to at least $50,000, and better fund Florida’s public schools and its students.

If he ever needs help in Congress, he’ll likely have Crist’s ear, too. In a hint at his popularity, Crist – who unseated the one-termer Jolly 52 percent-48 percent in 2016 — raised more than $2 million for his first re-election bid. The Republican Buck only brought in just under $30,000, as of the end of September.

In a telling note, Crist also recently sent an email supporting Jacky Rosen, the Democratic nominee for Senate in Nevada.

“This is an important election and Florida is at the epicenter of it all,” Crist said.

“We are the largest swing state. What we do Tuesday is going to send a message to the rest of the country.”

RON DESANTIS

Here’s another poll showing Ron DeSantis leading Andrew Gillum

Most polls have shown Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum leading the race for Governor and incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson tied with Gov. Rick Scott, but a new poll from Nashville-based Targoz Market Research says that could shift come Election Day.

The poll asked an online panel of respondents who voted in 2012 and 2016 who they were backing in the top-of-ticket races and found former Congressman Ron DeSantis with a 1-point lead in the Guv race and Scott with a 4-point lead over Nelson in the Senate contest.

The caveat? That measure includes “leaners,” or voters who said they were unsure but tossed out a name when pressed for an answer. Without leaners, Scott leads 48-45 percent while Gillum leads DeSantis 47-44 percent.

“As trite as it sounds, the election for both Senate and Governor will hinge on each campaign’s ability to turn out their voters,” the pollster said. “For Democrats, it means turning out 18 to 34-year-old voters who make up 22 percent of registered voters but represent only 15 percent of the likely voters in this poll. Voters age 65-plus make up 29 percent of registered voters and 34 percent of likely voters in our polling.”

Targoz added that the state is on pace to break the Sunshine State’s midterm election turnout record.

“If this turnout mirrors the 2016 election for President, both Scott and DeSantis could win,” the pollster said.

As of Saturday, nearly 4.5 million Floridians had cast their ballots early.

The state Division of Elections tally shows Republicans have cast just over 41 percent of those pre-Election Day votes, while Democrats make up a 40 percent share and third- and no-party candidates account for the remaining 19 percent.

Republicans led by 3 points in pre-Election Day voting four years ago, the most recent midterm election.

RealClearPolitics polling average of the Governor race shows Gillum with a lead of 2.6 percentage points. Nelson leads by 1.4 percentage points in the RCP Senate polling average.

As campaign nears close, Gwen Graham slams ‘anti-woman’ Ron DeSantis

Gwen Graham, who came within just a few percentage points of garnering the Democratic nomination for Governor, has been relatively quiet during the general election campaign.

However, on Saturday evening, she broke that relative silence with an unambiguous statement of support for Andrew Gillum, and a sharp rebuke of Republican nominee Ron DeSantis as potentially “the most anti-woman Governor in Florida history.”

“The stakes could not be higher on Tuesday for Florida women. During his time in Congress, Ron DeSantis was one of the most anti-women and extreme members of Congress,” Graham said.

“From voting against equal pay to opposing our right to choose, DeSantis has made clear his opposition to women’s rights. But most disturbing is his 2013 vote against the Violence Against Women Act — legislation that has played a critical role in saving lives and reducing domestic violence,” Graham added.

“By opposing VAWA and recently calling it unconstitutional, DeSantis made clear that he does not care about protecting the safety of women or giving law enforcement the resources to fight domestic violence,” Graham added.

“DeSantis’ opposition to the Violence Against Women Act is deeply disturbing — and shows just how dangerous a DeSantis administration would be for women in this state. There is no question in my mind that Ron DeSantis would be the most anti-women governor in Florida’s modern history. Andrew Gillum is the only candidate in this race who always has and always will stand up for Florida women — and that’s why we must win on Tuesday,” Graham asserted.

The media release from the Gillum campaign establishes context for Graham’s position: “In 2013, early into his first term in office, DeSantis established himself as one of the most anti-women and extreme members of Congress by voting against the bipartisan Violence Against Women Act. Earlier this month, DeSantis told Fox 13 Tampa Bay’s Craig Patrick that VAWA violated the Bill of Rights.”

Graham’s statement here comes a day after the Miami Herald noted that “alsorans” such as her and Republican runner-up Adam Putnam have not been active in support.

While Putnam has been remarkably reticent in stretch-run support of DeSantis (a chilliness mirrored by former Putnam partisans cool to DeSantis’ campaign), Graham, via a spokesperson, asserted to the Herald that she was on board.

“Since the primary, Gwen Graham has stood on stage with Mayor Gillum campaigning for him, she has donated to his campaign, sent emails in support of his campaign to her supporters, posted her support on social media, and continues doing everything she can to elect Andrew Gillum as Florida’s next governor,” Graham adviser Julia Gill Woodward told the Herald.

Sean ‘P. Diddy’ Combs endorses Andrew Gillum in new video

Sean Combs is known by many names — Puff Daddy, P. Diddy, Brother Love, the list goes on — but he’s encouraging Floridians to cast a ballot for someone very specific in the race for Governor: Andrew Gillum.

“I am so proud to endorse Andrew Gillum, who will become the first black Governor of Florida,” Combs says in a video published Saturday by the campaign.

Combs, who is black, said he’s not just supporting Gillum “because he’s black, it’s because he’s the best man for the job.”

A music producer and entrepreneur — whose business endeavors have ranged from spirits to clothing and media — Combs is estimated to have a net worth of $820 million, according to Forbes.

Combs said he aligns with Gillum because of the Tallahassee Mayor’s stance on criminal justice reform. Combs also noted Gillum’s support for legalizing recreational marijuana, raising the minimum wage and expanding publicly funded health care.

Gillum, a Democrat, faces off against Republican Ron DeSantis on Nov. 6.

Combs’ endorsement isn’t new; he backed Gillum officially on Twitter on Aug. 28 before the crowded five-way Democratic primary unfolded. But the production of a video segment for the campaign — which is now being shared online by Gillum and Combs— is indicative of Combs’ increased involvement with the Mayor’s candidacy.

“He’s running a campaign for the people,” Combs said in the minute-long clip. “I’ve spoken to him at length. I believe in him — his focus, his ideas, what he stands for.”

The endorsement can be viewed online here, or by clicking the image below.

Millions: Andrew Gillum and Ron DeSantis’ money race for Governor

More than $106 million later, Republican Ron DeSantis and Democrat Andrew Gillum have all but wrapped the books on their eye-popping cash race for Florida Governor.

Each candidate closed their campaign accounts Thursday, recording just shy of $29 million between the two of them.

Florida taxpayers accounted for $4.5 million of that figure, as both DeSantis and Gillum accepted $2.3 million and $2.2 million respectively from the state’s taxpayer-funded match program for their bids.

Each candidate’s political committees are still active. But as of Friday, they combined for a total of more than $77 million raised.

DeSantis, the now-former congressman from Ponte Vedra Beach, raised about $1 million more than Gillum, Tallahassee’s ‘leadership mayor.’ Gillum has currently raised $52.5 million, DeSantis $53.5 million.

In his individual campaign account, where donors are limited to a maximum aggregate contribution of $3,000 for each election, Gillum outraised DeSantis, reporting nearly $16 million to the former congressman’s roughly $13 million haul.

But in their committees, DeSantis collected $40.6 million — about $4 million more than what Gillum’s committee has reported.

DeSantis’ big-money breakdown

DeSantis’ much-expected wade into the gubernatorial race was preceded by news that he had corralled an extraordinarily affluent finance team, consisting of names like Palm Beach billionaire Thomas Peterffy, along with more than two dozen other wealthy individuals, notably topped by Las Vegas casino mogul and conservative political rainmaker Sheldon Adelson.

Before Friday, Petterfy and Adelson, or their close relatives, would combine for $710,000 collected by DeSantis’ committee, Friends of Ron DeSantis.

Meanwhile, $5.75 million — more than 10 percent of DeSantis’ total fundraising — would come from another billionaire, Kenneth C. Griffin.

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.

Isaac Perlmutter, the chairman of Marvel Entertainment, and his wife Laura accounted for $2.5 million collected by DeSantis’ committee.

The Republican Governors Association, which as its name suggests supports GOP gubernatorial candidates nationally, chipped in $3 million to Friends of Ron DeSantis.

The RGA, by way of a different PAC, funneled another $7.6 million behind DeSantis, making their grand total investment in the state in excess of $10 million.

Progressives have money, too

Billionaires George Soros and Tom Steyer each combined for a total of $5 million — or about 10 percent — of Gillum’s total fundraising.

Steyer, via his NextGen America PAC, would chip in $2.8 million to the Tallahassee Mayor’s candidacy. Soros followed close behind at $2.2 million given.

The Democratic Governors Association, while still outdone by its GOP counterpart, kicked in $7.4 million to Gillum’s committee.

Steyer’s PAC had also pledged to spend another $5.2 million for Gillum and other “progressive candidates” in the state. If that spending is included, Steyer, of California, has spent $8 million in the Sunshine State this cycle.

Gillum also received $1 million from Slim-Fast founder and philanthropist Daniel Abraham and $1.5 million from financier and philanthropist Donald Sussman.  

Both Gillum and DeSantis demonstrated to Florida in the primaries how far they can stretch a buck.

Exhibit A: Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, DeSantis’ Republican primary opponent, put more than $30 million into his race, but lost to DeSantis, who spent around $16 million.

Exhibit B: Gillum doled out less than $7 million ahead of the Aug. 28 primary and won against the other four Democratic candidates for Governor — all of which had outspent him.

Billionaire Jeff Greene and multimillionaire Philip Levine unloaded $34.8 million and $26.6 million respectively from their own fortunes. Gwen Graham, who finished second behind Gillum, raised and spent more than $16 million.

As of Friday, Gillum had spent almost $47 million collected by his campaign and committee accounts, leaving him with about $5 million in the bank. DeSantis has spent more than $52 million and has about a $1 million on hand.

Election Day is Nov. 6.

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Gainesville correspondent Drew Wilson contributed to this post.

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