Barack Obama Archives - Florida Politics

Former President Barack Obama gives a shout-out to David Jolly

Former President Barack Obama gave a shout out to a former foe during a campaign rally in Miami Friday. He mentioned former Republican Congressman David Jolly who recently announced he voted for Andrew Gillum for Florida Governor.

“He said the reason’s simple, it’s because I’ve served with Ron DeSantis,” Obama said. “That should tell you something. Let me tell you something, somebody that had served with me in my party voted for the other guy, I’d feel bad.”

Jolly ditched the Republican Party earlier this month, instead registering with no party affiliation. He became disenfranchised with the Republican Party after President Donald Trump was elected and has been a frequent critic, appearing regularly on MSNBC.

“I don’t imagine Congressman Jolly and Mayor Gillum agree on a lot, but maybe they, just like all of us, agree that there are some things bigger than politics,” Obama said, campaigning for Gillum.

Gillum faces Trump-aligned DeSantis in the race to succeed current Governor Rick Scott. Democrats nationwide are rallying behind Gillum, who represents a new and growing sect of the Democratic Party that is more diverse and more progressive.

If elected, Gillum would be the first African-American Governor in Florida.

A nod from former President Obama is a huge win for Gillum. Locally, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman pulled out a victory over former Mayor Rick Baker, a surge that happened after Obama publicly endorsed him.

President Trump has endorsed DeSantis and frequently tweets in his support as well as tweets attacking Gillum for what conservatives describe as “radical socialism.”

Obama appeared in Miami Friday campaigning also for U.S. Senator Bill Nelson. Nelson is facing a tough challenge from Governor Scott. While Democrats try to unseat incumbent Republicans to flip the Senate, they’re grasping on to Nelson just to keep that seat.

This is the most credible challenge Nelson has had since he was first elected in 2000.

Barack Obama backs Democrats, rejects divisiveness

Eschewing the racially charged rhetoric and divisiveness that have dominated campaigns in Florida and throughout the nation, former President Barack Obama relied on a message of hope Friday as he urged a crowd of supporters to vote for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.

“Don’t get anxious or freaked out. Don’t throw up your hands in despair. Don’t boo,” Obama, appearing onstage with the top-of-the-ticket Florida Democrats, told the crowd, which responded with “Vote!”

The former President’s trip to the Sunshine State was sandwiched between two appearances in Florida by President Donald Trump, who held a rally Wednesday in Lee County and is scheduled to appear Saturday night at another rally in Pensacola. Trump is trying to boost support for Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis and outgoing Gov. Rick Scott, who is seeking to unseat Nelson.

With more than 4 million mail-in and early-voting ballots already cast, and as tension between candidates ramps up before Tuesday’s election, Obama chided Republicans’ “repeated attempts to divide you with rhetoric designed to make us angry and make us fearful.”

Some of the harshest attacks have been leveled at Gillum, who is the Mayor of Tallahassee.

DeSantis and Trump have focused on an FBI inquiry into Tallahassee government, with the President calling Gillum a “stone-cold thief” and DeSantis repeatedly saying that he’s “the only candidate that isn’t the subject of an FBI investigation.” Gillum, meanwhile, has steadfastly maintained that he is not the subject of the federal probe.

Over the past week, Trump also has stoked fears about illegal immigration as he travels the country to support Republican candidates. The President has said he wants to do away with what he calls “birthright citizenship” in which children have citizenship because they were born in the U.S., though their parents entered the country illegally. Democrats, constitutional scholars and many Republicans say the process is enshrined in the Constitution and the President doesn’t have the authority to make the change.

Speaking to a Miami crowd that appeared to have similar numbers of white, blacks and Hispanics, Obama decried “racial and ethnic and religious division that pits us against one another” and “makes us believe that order will somehow be restored if it just weren’t for those folks that don’t look like us.”

“In four days, Florida, you can reject that kind of politics. In four days, you can be a check on that kind of behavior. In four days, you can choose a bigger, more prosperous, more generous vision of America, an America where love and hope conquer hate, an America where we the people, whatever we look like, whoever we love, however we choose to pray, however our ancestors came here, we can come together to shape our country’s course. That’s what Andrew Gillum stands for. That’s what Bill Nelson stands for. I’m hoping that’s what you stand for. That’s what you can do when you vote on Tuesday,” he said.

During his hour-long speech at the Ice Palace Film Studios, Obama was repeatedly heckled by members of the audience, including by several people escorted out by security guards.

The former President, however, took the interruptions in stride.

 “Why is it that the folks that won the last election are so mad all the time?” he asked, eliciting a roar of approval from the crowd. “When I won the presidency, at least my side felt pretty good.”

Obama also bemoaned “positive spin” used by politicians, pointing to himself as an example when he tries to take credit for washing the dishes at home.

But, growing more serious, Obama complained that too many elected officials and candidates “just repeatedly, baldly, shamelessly” are “making stuff up.”

He pointed to Trump’s reaction to a caravan of people from Central America headed to the Mexican border. Trump has ordered 15,000 troops to keep the immigrants from entering the U.S., something Obama called “a political stunt” in advance of Tuesday’s election.

“They make stuff up, but the problem is too often we fall for it,” he said, likening the public to the “Peanuts” comic strip’s Charlie Brown, who was repeatedly tricked by Lucy when she yanked away a football at the last minute as he prepared to kick it.

“She’d pull the ball away and he’d fall on his back. But he kept on doing it every time. Don’t be Charlie Brown. Don’t fall for the okey-doke. Don’t be bamboozled. Don’t be hoodwinked,” he warned. “When words stop meaning anything, when truth doesn’t matter, when people can just lie with abandon, democracy can’t work.”

He lambasted people “at the highest levels” for being dishonest.

“And the only check on that is you,” Obama said. “On Tuesday you can vote for a politics that’s decent, and honest, and lawful and tries to do right by people.”

Obama’s message resonated with Cedric Dawkins, a 50-year-old Miami resident who is in marketing and public relations.

“The most important issue, I feel, is that facts matter,” Dawkins said, objecting to “untruths and falsehoods” being used against Gillum, who is trying to become the state’s first black Governor.

“Andrew Gillum is the best candidate for the state of Florida, because of our diverse population,” said Dawkins, who is black.

President Obama to campaign for Bill Nelson, Andrew Gillum today

Former President Barack Obama will campaign alongside Florida’s leading Democratic candidates on Friday in Miami at Ice Palace Film Studios.

Obama will join U.S. Sen. Bil Nelson and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, the Democrats’ U.S. Senate and gubernatorial nominees, for a rally sure to demonstrate the former President’s continuing popularity among the base.

That means the biggest of the political big stars are aligning over Florida in the closing week. The Republicans are bringing in President Donald Trump for a rally Saturday in Pensacola. The Democrats bringing in Obama Friday, following former Vice President Joe Biden and California’s U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, two potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, who campaigned for the Democrats last week.

The Ice Palace Film Studios is an events venue dating to 1923 in the heart of Miami with a capacity of 10,000 people. Details of the Obama rally are forthcoming. It comes at the moment when Florida’s U.S. Senate and gubernatorial races are, as expected, almost air-tight, with polls showing either dead heats or Nelson and Gillum with slight leads over their Republican rivals, Florida Gov. Rick Scott and former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis.

Obama first hit the 2018 campaign trail on behalf of Democrats this weekend in the Midwest.

“Barack Obama has been my friend since I first introduced him to Florida in 2005, when he was a rising political star,” Nelson declared in a news release issued Monday by the Florida Democratic Party. “I cast a key vote in support of his health care reforms, and he and I fought for public schools and protecting Florida’s unique and treasured environment.”

“I’m proud and humbled to have President Obama, my friend and a true patriot, on the campaign trail here in Florida,” said Gillum. “President Obama knows what’s at stake in this election — protections for people with pre-existing conditions, funding for public schools, and leadership to restore our environment. With President Obama’s help, we’re going to bring it home for Florida this November.”

And FDP Chair Terrie Rizzo said, “We are honored to welcome President Obama to Florida to help us get out the vote in the final days of the election. President Obama’s support of Sen. Nelson, Mayor Gillum and Democrats up-and-down the ballot will be crucial to ensuring victory on Nov. 6.”

Jimmy Buffett to hold Saturday concert for Andrew Gillum, Bill Nelson

Jimmy Buffett is strumming for free again to help get out the vote for statewide Democratic candidates.

This time, however, Buffett’s melodies will favor Bill Nelson, who’s hoping to keep his U.S. Senate seat, and Andrew Gillum, the Democratic candidate for Governor.

The event, free of charge, is open to the public. Buffett’s “small acoustic set” will take place at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Meyer Amphitheatre in West Palm Beach.

The last politics-focused concert held by the Florida musician, entrepreneur and philanthropist supported former congresswoman Gwen Graham, who ultimately lost to Gillum in the Aug. 28 primary.

But with less than a week away from the election, Buffett is making clear that he’s now firmly behind the Democratic Party and their candidates.

“If you haven’t noticed yet, there is an election next Tuesday, and I am glad to support Mayor Andrew Gillum for Governor, and my longtime friend Sen. Bill Nelson for re-election,” Buffett said.

“Clean water, clean beaches and clean energy are the lifeblood of Florida now and in the future.”

Joining Buffett on stage will be Nelson, Gillum and presumably other statewide Democratic candidates, described by the Florida Democratic Party as the “winning ticket.”

“As a fifth-generation Floridian, who loves our state’s unique environment, I’m proud Jimmy’s out singing for votes,” Nelson said of Buffett.

“As a life-long Floridian and music legend, Jimmy Buffett understands the essence of Florida, and what’s needed to protect our beautiful environment that inspires those ‘Floridays,’ ” added Gillum.

Later on Saturday, Republican statewide candidates are likely to be in Pensacola, where President Donald Trump will host his third 2018 rally in Florida.

Preceding Buffett’s concert is a rally with former President Barack Obama on Friday in Miami at Ice Palace Film Studios.

Direct mail round-up: ‘Liberal’ Tracye Polson has ‘liberal’ friends and ‘liberal’ donors

The increasingly expensive race in Westside Jacksonville’s swingy House District 15 is all but over, but Republican Wyman Duggan has a final message for voters.

That message, per his latest mailpiece: That “liberal” Tracye Polson has donated to “liberal politicians” like Barack ObamaHillary Clinton, and Bill Nelson.

And, what’s more, that she “hosted campaign fundraisers IN HER OWN HOME for liberals like Nelson and Kamala Harris.”

For the rubes in the deepest heart of the Westside, the mailer helpfully explains that Harris is a “liberal U.S. Senator from California.”

“She’s patting the backs of big-time liberal donors … and will represent THEIR DANGEROUS LIBERAL VALUES,” the mailpiece remonstrates.

The flipside of the mailer presents Duggan as a “commonsense leader,” pointing out endorsements garnered early in the three-way Republican primary from U.S. Rep. John Rutherford, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, and Sheriff Mike Williams.

Given that the seat, currently held by Jay Fant, hadn’t seen a competitive election outside of the primary in nearly a decade, the spending on this race has been eye-popping.

Money has flowed in this race, as shown by the latest campaign finance reports (through Oct. 19).

Between her campaign account and political committee, Polson raised $19,673 and loaned her campaign an additional $55,000 in the week between Oct. 13 and 19.

Since launching the campaign, Polson has amassed $626,617. Roughly $50,000 of that is still available.

Duggan likewise was active during the same timeframe, raising $27,150 between his campaign account and political committee, with another $7,000 of in-kind from the Republican Party of Florida for polling.

The most interesting donor: incumbent Rep. Jay Fant, who had not gone out of his way to embrace the Duggan candidacy in the primary.

Duggan raised a total of $354,743 from the beginning of his campaign through Oct. 19, He had roughly $59,000 available as of that date.

Between them, Polson and Duggan have raised almost $982,000. When that sum is combined with that of two other Republicans in the primary (who raised $100,000 between them), total receipts top $1 million.

Polson has secured endorsements outside of traditional Democratic constituencies, including Jacksonville’s police and fire unions and the Florida Times-Union.

Duggan’s closing message is clear that his friends are more palatable to the district than hers.

Person detained in mail-bomb investigation

Federal authorities took a man into custody Friday in Florida in connection with the mail-bomb scare that earlier widened to 12 suspicious packages, the FBI and Justice Department said.

The man was identified by law enforcement officials as Cesar Sayoc, 56, of Aventura, Florida. He was arrested at an auto parts store in the nearby city of Plantation.

Court records show Sayoc has a history of arrests.

Law enforcement officers were seen on television examining a white van, its windows covered with an assortment of stickers, in the city of Plantation in the Miami area. Authorities covered the vehicle with a blue tarp and took it away on the back of a flatbed truck.

Bomb Map -- Associated Press

The stickers included images of American flags and what appeared to be logos of the Republican National Committee and CNN, though the writing surrounding those images was unclear.

President Donald Trump said he expected to speak about the investigation at a youth summit on Friday.

The development came amid a coast-to-coast manhunt for the person responsible for a series of explosive devices addressed to Democrats including former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton.

Law enforcement officials said they had intercepted a dozen packages in states across the country. None had exploded, and it wasn’t immediately clear if they were intended to cause physical harm or simply sow fear and anxiety.

Earlier Friday, authorities said suspicious packages addressed to New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and former National Intelligence Director James Clapper — both similar to those containing pipe bombs sent to other prominent critics of President Donald Trump— had been intercepted.

Investigators believe the mailings were staggered. The U.S. Postal Service searched their facilities 48 hours ago and the most recent packages didn’t turn up. Officials don’t think they were sitting in the system without being spotted. They were working to determine for sure. The officials spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

The FBI said the package to Booker was intercepted in Florida. The one discovered at a Manhattan postal facility was addressed to Clapper at CNN’s address. An earlier package had been sent to former Obama CIA Director John Brennan via CNN in New York.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Friday the Justice Department was dedicating every available resource to the investigation “and I can tell you this: We will find the person or persons responsible. We will bring them to justice.”

Trump, on the other hand, complained that “this ‘bomb’ stuff” was taking attention away from the upcoming election and said critics were wrongly blaming him and his heated rhetoric.

Investigators were analyzing the innards of the crude devices to reveal whether they were intended to detonate or simply sow fear just before Election Day.

Law enforcement officials told The Associated Press that the devices, containing timers and batteries, were not rigged to explode upon opening. But they were uncertain whether the devices were poorly designed or never intended to cause physical harm.

Most of those targeted were past or present U.S. officials, but one was sent to actor Robert De Niro and billionaire George Soros. The bombs have been sent across the country – from New York, Delaware and Washington, D.C., to Florida and California, where Rep. Maxine Waters was targeted. They bore the return address of Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.

The common thread among the bomb targets was obvious: their critical words for Trump and his frequent, harsher criticism in return.

Trump claimed Friday he was being blamed for the mail bombs, complaining in a tweet sent before dawn: “Funny how lowly rated CNN, and others, can criticize me at will, even blaming me for the current spate of Bombs and ridiculously comparing this to September 11th and the Oklahoma City bombing, yet when I criticize them they go wild and scream, ‘it’s just not Presidential!’”

The package to Clapper was addressed to him at CNN’s Midtown Manhattan address. Clapper, a frequent Trump critic, told CNN that he was not surprised he was targeted and that he considered the actions “definitely domestic terrorism.”

Jeff Zucker, the president of CNN Worldwide, said in a note to staff that all mail to CNN domestic offices was being screened at off-site facilities. He said there was no imminent danger to the Time Warner Center, where CNN’s New York office is located.

At a press conference Thursday, officials in New York would not discuss possible motives or details on how the packages found their way into the postal system. Nor would they say why the packages hadn’t detonated, but they stressed they were still treating them as “live devices.”

The devices were packaged in manila envelopes and carried U.S. postage stamps. They were being examined by technicians at the FBI’s forensic lab in Quantico, Virginia.

The packages stoked nationwide tensions ahead of the Nov. 6 election to determine control of Congress — a campaign both major political parties have described in near-apocalyptic terms. Politicians from both parties used the threats to decry a toxic political climate and lay blame.

Trump, in a tweet Thursday, blamed the “Mainstream Media” for the anger in society. Brennan responded, tweeting that Trump should “Stop blaming others. Look in the mirror.”

The bombs are about 6 inches (15 centimeters) long and packed with powder and broken glass, according to a law enforcement official who viewed X-ray images. The official said the devices were made from PVC pipe and covered with black tape.

The first bomb discovered was delivered Monday to the suburban New York compound of Soros, a major contributor to Democratic causes. Soros has called Trump’s presidency “dangerous.”

___

Associated Press writers Laurie Kellman, Ken Thomas, Jill Colvin and Chad Day in Washington and Jim Mustian, Deepti Hajela, Tom Hays and Michael R. Sisak in New York contributed to this report.

‘Hurt’ comment one of lowest moments of Andrew Gillum’s campaign

Remember the powerful line from Michelle Obama, “When they go low, we go high“?

Before Wednesday night, when the two candidates for Florida governor spent an hour making it uncomfortably clear how much they detest each other, Democrat Andrew Gillum had, for the most part, adhered to the motto articulated by the former First Lady.

Moderator Todd McDermott, an anchor for West Palm Beach’s WPBF, had barely finished introducing himself to a statewide television audience before Gillum and his Republican opponent, Ron DeSantis, engaged in an intense exchange of name-calling.

Gillum said the day after the primary that Florida voters shouldn’t “monkey this up” by supporting Gillum. And Gillum added that DeSantis was endorsed by President Donald Trump.

“My opponent … has run this race very, very close to the Trump handbook, where we call each other names, where we run false advertisements.”

Gillum then called DeSantis a liar, and DeSantis called Gillum corrupt (and a liar), pointing at Broadway tickets to “Hamilton” that were supplied by an undercover FBI agent investigating corruption at Tallahassee City Hall.

And on it went.

As POLITICO Florida recapped the debate, “the candidates sparred over virtually every topic, from school spending to taxes to health care to immigration to gun control. But it was all overshadowed by charges and counter-charges over radical associations, neo-Nazis and misuse of tax money.”

Gillum even spelled out n-i-g-g-e-r when making a point that one of DeSantis’ supporters referred to Barack Obama by that term.

“Now I’m not calling Mr. DeSantis a racist,” Gillum said. “I’m simply saying the racists believe he’s a racist.”

It was one zinger like that after another.

Yet there was that one moment when Gillum, who has been on the defensive for four days, lost his cool in a way that we have yet to see from him on the campaign trail.

It was more than him just baring his fangs; it was actually one of the lowest moment of Gillum’s campaign.

As DeSantis hammered Gillum on Tallahassee’s crime rate. Gillum joked that DeSantis might want to reconsider running for Governor: “The governor’s mansion’s in Tallahassee. I would hate for him to be hurt.”

On a day when at least nine suspicious packages sent in recent days to public figures, including the Obama and Clinton families, and CNN’s New York bureau, Gillum cracked wise about a politician getting hurt. A politician, by the way, who last year had just left a Republican congressional baseball practice before a gunman starting shooting at his teammates.

Not funny, Mr. Mayor.

It was just the sort of thing that – gasp – President Trump might say.

In fact, he does say things like that and leaders like Gillum appropriately call him out for it.

As CNN’s Jeff Zucker just said yesterday after a suspicious package was delivered to his New York newsroom, “words matter.”

Mind you, DeSantis, at several points, scraped from the bottom of the barrel. For DeSantis to suggest that Gillum would allow child molesters to roam Florida communities is just DeClasse.

And the former Congressman also had his own moment where he came close to losing his cool over during the same question where Gillum spelled out the N-word.

“How the hell am I supposed to know every single statement somebody makes?” he said without waiting for McDermott to finish the query. He also contended that those statements, made by David Horowitz, came after his appearance at Horowitz’ Freedom Center conference — an assertion that McDermott immediately refuted.

But when they go low, Gillum’s supposed to go high, right?

‘Attack on America’: Florida leaders decry mail bomb terror

An apparently coordinated plot to send mail bombs to an array of figures on the cultural left has dominated national news today.

CNN was evacuated. The Obamas, the Clintons, and Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz all were targeted Wednesday, following a similar targeting of George Soros on Monday.

The news went global quickly, with the Congresswoman’s office address being used by the conspirators as a false flag.

Florida leaders are reacting to the news of the day. Party divisions notwithstanding, there is a unity against what all agree is terror.

Sen. Marco Rubio was blunt in asserting that despite domestic political divisions, the American spirit is one of unity against terror.

“That’s an attack on America. That’s terrorism,” Rubio said Wednesday, adding that he expected the federal government to “find the people who did this, arrest them, try them, and punish them.

Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis likewise condemned these “acts of terror.”

Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo offered a statement: “This kind of targeted hate and violence has no place in our country and will not be tolerated. This isn’t about politics, this is about national security and our number one concern is the safety of Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz and first responders called to these scenes.”

“Unfortunately, we have seen some candidates for office use highly divisive and toxic rhetoric during this cycle. Today’s greatly disturbing events are a reminder that everyone needs to tone it down in the last two weeks and focus on the issues. That’s the type of campaign Floridians deserve,” Rizzo added.

Race to replace Ron DeSantis in Congress a sprint to the center

The race to replace Ron DeSantis in Congress is on, and it’s looking more like a race to the center between two former White House staffers as the 30-day mark before the primary approaches.

“Let’s bring the warring parties together and get things done,” asserted Democrat Nancy Soderberg early in a debate televised last week on WESH TV.

Soderberg, who won her primary in August with more than 55 percent of the vote, worked in former President Bill Clinton’s administration on the National Security Council and as Ambassador to the United Nations.

Those roles brought her high-profile endorsements, including from former colleagues like Paul Begala and from former President Barack Obama.

The latter endorsement, a boon in the sense of national visibility, became a talking point for Republican Mike Waltz (who won his own primary with 42 percent of the vote) during their debate.

“This choice is about America moving forward,” between “individual liberty” and a “government that piles on regulation and taxes,” Waltz (a former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney) said, framing the debate before at least once conflating the name Nancy Soderberg with Nancy Pelosi and reminding CD 6 voters that Obama endorsed his fellow Democrat.

“In the [Obama] administration, the military really floundered … their funding was cut year over year … incredibly restrictive rules of engagement,” Waltz chided.

“This President and this Administration have reasserted American leadership,” Waltz said, framing that as necessary given the problems established by the Obama and Clinton administrations. “It may be unconventional what he’s trying to do, but heck, what [was done] for the last 35 years didn’t work.”

Soderberg identified foreign policy affinities with the Trump administration, including moving the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, advocating the “two-state solution,” and the “new NAFTA accord.”

“I believe the President is fighting for American interests abroad in a way that is unconventional for sure, but I wish him well in that,” Soderberg said, trying to pivot the debate midway through to a major campaign talking point for her: a Republican health care plan that would be bad for people with pre-existing conditions.

Waltz said he opposed any plan to limit coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, before saying “Obamacare has been a failure.”

“You need to stop distorting my positions,” the Democrat protested.

Just as Soderberg didn’t want to get identified with the Washington left (including going so far as to say she wouldn’t vote for Pelosi for party leader), Waltz (despite the historic GOP lean in the district, which went with President Trump in 2016), realizes that post-primary base appeals come with diminishing returns.

As POLITICO Florida reported Thursday night, Waltz rebuffed an invitation from President Donald Trump to rally for him in his district. A Trump fundraiser was more agreeable to the candidate, but that fell through also.

For Waltz, a candidate pilloried during the primary for being #NeverTrump, the chance to hit the reset button wasn’t worth the optics of the rally. A fundraiser closed to the press was worth the risk, in no small part because Soderberg has already raised more than $2 million, a number Waltz’s team realizes it can’t match.

A rally though, with potentially pyrotechnic quotes? Not worth it given the dynamics of this contest, very much a swing race at this point.

CD 6 is a Republican-leaning seat, a Daytona-centric district that hugs the Atlantic Coast, including territory in St. Johns, Flagler, Volusia, and Lake counties.

The 2016 race between DeSantis and Democrat Bill McCullough was not competitive, with DeSantis winning by 17 percentage points.

This one should be closer.

A survey from St. Pete Polls released Sept. 20 revealed just a five-point lead for Waltz.

Both candidates are consolidating support within their respective parties. Soderberg is the choice of 74 percent of Democrats, Waltz of 76 percent of Republicans. Independents skew slightly to Soderberg (46-43).

However, with the district showing a strong GOP plurality (205,633 Republicans, compared to 177,345 Democrats and 152,330 independents), these results suggest Soderberg will need to further strengthen her appeal to independents to make up for the realities of party loyalty.

She has the resources to do so. DeSantis, according to Soderberg polling, was underwater in his district when he resigned. And yet, despite running a textbook centrist campaign, Soderberg may find the lean of the district proves prohibitive.

Consultants on both sides bring the spin. Those close to the Waltz campaign paint a picture of Soderberg burning through hundreds of thousands of dollars on TV yet not moving polls. Those close to Team Soderberg counter that Waltz isn’t communicating with voters and use phrases like “campaign in crisis” to describe the Republican effort.

New polls and Q3 fundraising reports will soon enough paint a picture of the race that is less impressionistic and more realistic.

Former President Barack Obama endorses Andrew Gillum

Is there a bigger ‘get’? President Barack Obama announced Monday he’s supporting Andrew Gillum to become Florida’s first African-American Governor.

“Andrew is a proven fighter with the courage and determination to stand up for Florida families,” Obama said in a statement supporting the Tallahassee Mayor. “As Governor, Andrew will expand access to affordable health care, protect Floridians with pre-existing conditions, invest in education, protect the environment and build an economy that works for all.”

Obama, whose legacy is in part marked by the passage of the Affordable Care Act, commended Gillum’s stances on health care, saying, “Andrew believes that healthcare is a right, not a privilege, and he will make expanding Medicaid a priority on day one as governor.”

Responded Gillum: “As Governor, we’ll build on his legacy by making healthcare a right, not a privilege, investing in our children’s education, and protecting the environment for our future generation of Floridians.”

He also commended Gillum’s tenure as mayor of the state’s capital city.

The former President’s support was announced on Monday in his second wave of midterm election endorsements. Joining Gillum were running mate Chris King and U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, who also received on Monday the endorsement of Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló. Rosselló also is expected to endorse Gillum later on Monday.

Other down-ballot candidates also received nods from Obama. According to the former president’s press office, he’s weighed in on 260 midterm races this cycle.

“The Democratic Party has always made the biggest difference in the lives of the American people when we lead with conviction, principle, and bold, new ideas,” Obama said in a statement announcing the endorsements. “Our incredible array of candidates up and down the ticket, all across the country, make up a movement of citizens who are younger, more diverse, more female than ever before.”

He added that he was “eager to continue making the case for why they deserve our votes this November.”

Also included in the endorsement wave: Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy and Democratic congressional hopefuls Nancy Soderberg, Stephanie MurphyChris Hunter,  Lauren Baer and Debbie MucarselPowell.

Soderberg, who faces Republican Michael Waltz in the race for Florida’s 6th Congressional District, said she was “excited” to have Obama backing her Congressional campaign.

“I am deeply honored to have earned the support of President Obama who has been an extraordinary testament to what we can achieve when we work together to live out our American values,” she said. “President Obama continues to inspire millions in this country and around the world with his vision of and work to build a more inclusive society that enables all of us to reach our full potential.”

In races for state Senate seats, Obama announced endorsements for Sen. Annette Taddeo, along with Senate candidates Kayser Enneking, Janet Cruz, Bob Doyel, Lindsay Cross and David Perez.

In the House, incumbents Margaret Good, Nick Duran and Javier Fernandez received 44’s backing. So too did candidates Anna Eskamani, Fentrice Driskell and Emma Collum.

To Florida House Victory, a the state legislative arm of the Florida Democratic Party, those endorsements signal that the down-ballot races are getting national attention.

“President Barack Obama’s endorsement of Florida House Victory candidates goes to show that the success of Democrats in the state House is a crucial part of moving Florida forward,” said Marisol Samayoa, spokesperson for Florida House Victory. “As a former state legislator himself, President Obama recognizes the role that legislatures can play as the first line of defense against Republican attacks on health care, public education, and the environment.”
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