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Fred Guttenberg endorses Bill Nelson for Senate

Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter, Jaime, was killed seven months ago in the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School, and other parents who lost children in the tragedy endorsed incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson at an event Friday afternoon.

Guttenberg also laid into Nelson’s Republican opponent, Gov. Rick Scott.

“In Florida, under Rick Scott, nothing was done on guns or school safety after prior incidents like Pulse or the Fort Lauderdale airport shooting,” Guttenberg said. “Perhaps, had more been done previously I would only be known as the same small group of families that knew me as Jesse and Jamie’s dad.”

Guttenberg praised Nelson for his support of universal background checks and banning assault weapons, and blasted his GOP opponent for his refusal to enact common-sense gun safety measures.

The event was held at the Marriott Coral Springs. Guttenberg followed the announcement with a Twitter post reiterating the endorsement, noting several other Parkland families were also in attendance.

U.S. Rep Ted Deutch, who serves the 22nd Congressional District, which covers Parkland, also spoke to the crowd gathered at the Marriott.

“Don’t let people tell you the issue of gun violence has fallen by the wayside,” Deutch said, according to Kara Voght of Mother Jones.

“It’s not what I see, it’s not what I hear.”

Voght also posted comments from Guttenberg himself, where he spoke of the loss of his daughter and why he now seeks stricter gun control measures.

“For those who want to know why I’ve become active in the issue of gun safety and why I call for an ‘orange wave‘ in November, it’s because I start my days at a cemetery. When I think about Jaime running down the hallway and running for her life with an active shooter at her back until ‘boom,’ a single shot to her spinal cord, she needed only one more second to be safe, I have no choice.

“When we know that had the issues of guns been previously dealt with in this state that this issue could have been prevented, I have no choice.”

Bill Nelson, Rick Scott need a real statewide debate. Leadership Florida forum fits perfectly.

In the tight race for U.S. Senate, Bill Nelson and Rick Scott — for the sake of millions of Floridians — need to take part in a statewide, televised face-to-face debate.

Few can disagree that debates can be critical; they not only give candidates the best shot at making their respective cases, but voters also get an unfiltered opportunity to compare and contrast the two before heading to the polls.

And one forum that fits the profile perfectly (and is already planned) is “Decision 2018: Before You Vote,” the latest variant of the successful series from the nonpartisan nonprofit Leadership Florida, partnering with the Florida Press Association.

“Before You Vote” is currently set for about a month from now, Oct. 23 at Broward College, beginning 7 p.m.

Both Nelson and Scott need to commit to this debate — prearranged since March — as the best and only statewide televised forum in a crucial race that has attracted national attention.

Here’s why: A statewide consortium of 10 major network affiliates is dedicated to picking up the event, blanketing every Florida market. It is the same partnership that produced the highly acclaimed 2016 U.S. Senate debate (held at the same venue) pitting incumbent Marco Rubio against challenger Patrick Murphy.

Observers praised that forum as a serious, substantive and modern model for such events — which is precisely why Nelson and Scott need to take part.

Right now, the only so-called “debate” currently under consideration is from Telemundo, with coverage in select markets limited to Miami, Ft. Myers, Tampa, West Palm and Orlando. It will not be a statewide consortium.

Another event, this one from CNN, is being referred to as a “debate” by the Scott campaign, but Nelson’s campaign acknowledged it will review other possibilities, including the one to be hosted by CNN.

However, CNN.com has no mention of any Florida debate or forum. Also, while CNN has a national reach, it is only available for those with paid cable. People watching via antenna will not see it.

On its website, News4Jax does refer to the CNN event as a “debate,” offering tweets from both campaigns admitting such. They say Scott agreed to the forum — going as far as calling it a “debate” on Twitter — but no mention of it from Nelson.

Again, the News4Jax event (even if it does happen) will offer limited TV reach.

Leadership Florida, their partners FPA/WPBF and Broward College, bring both a history and a stellar reputation for producing professional and highly regarded debates.

Moderators and panelists for the LF debates are all Florida-based journalists, who offered the most in-depth and comprehensive knowledge of the race and critical issues. As for timing, the LF/FPA debates are strategically scheduled to serve as the last word before Election Day.

Also, both Florida-based and national journalists have sought credentials for the Oct. 23 event and C-SPAN, as in the past, has expressed keen interest in carrying the debate.

Along with an extensive reach and prestige, the event will also have high-quality talent behind the camera.

Executive Producer Phil Alongi, a 25-year veteran of the NBC network, is producing this show — as he did the Rubio/Murphy debate in 2016. Alongi is also a technical producer for the Republican National Convention, as well as coordinating all media covering it.

The bottom line — and it cannot be stressed enough — is that Scott and Nelson need to DO THIS DEBATE.

Simply stated, it’s a solution where both campaigns (and voters) will benefit.

Rick Scott distances himself from Donald Trump in new Spanish-language ad

Gov. Rick Scott is out with a new Spanish-language ad seeking to separate himself from President Donald Trump and promising commitment to voters over the president.

The ad, titled “Compromiso,” features Scott addressing viewers in Spanish about his promise to put voters ahead of partisan politics.

“When I don’t agree with what President Trump does or says, I’ve said it,” Scott begins in Spanish.

“My only commitment is with you. For me, what’s important is that your family have the best opportunities. I ask for your vote so that together we can make Washington work for our families. I’m Rick Scott and I approve this message because I know that with your help, we’ll keep on working.”

The 30-second ad is set to be released both digitally and on television.

The spot comes after false and inflammatory comments from Trump earlier this week, when the President questioned the death toll in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.

Trump claimed the updating of the death toll to 2,975 “was done by Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible.” The Democratic Party was not involved in any way with the study that arrived at those numbers.

Those comments from Trump resulted in a tweet from Scott, explaining his disagreement with the President.

Scott’s attempt to distance himself from the President during his Senate run is a sharp change for the Republican nominee. Scott endorsed Trump in 2016 and even chaired a pro-Trump super PAC, just one of several ways the Governor embraced Trump on his way to the presidency.

Scott is attempting to oust longtime Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in November.

Deja vu all over again: Rick Scott says Bill Nelson has done ‘nothing’ for ‘Lake O’

Another day, another ad buy from the Rick Scott Senate campaign.

Friday’s iteration drove home a message that is increasingly familiar; namely, that Sen. Bill Nelson has done “nothing” for “for Lake O in Washington.”

The Scott spot throws back to a 1990 Nelson ad, in which the Senator vowed to “fight to stop the poisoning of lakes and streams across this state. Lake Okeechobee is dying because of the massive dumping of pollutants.”

Alas, contends the ad, Nelson “failed … couldn’t get anything done” and is “all talk, no action.”

The Scott campaign has been messaging on Nelson’s lack of efficacy on this issue for the better part of the summer.

Early August saw an ad buy where the Scott campaign contended “Washington politician Bill Nelson made a pledge 30 years ago to solve this problem, but Nelson’s a talker, not a doer. With Bill Nelson, we get more waiting, more talk, and more algae.”

Like the current spot, the August buy hearkened back to Nelson’s now-fateful 1990 pledge.

Nelson’s campaign pushed back in August against these claims.

“Experts and scientists agree, Rick Scott’s almost eight-year assault on the environment has exacerbated the toxic algae outbreak plaguing much of Florida,” Sebastian Kitchen, a spokesperson for the Nelson for Senate campaign, stated in a written response.

“And now once again — he’s lying about Bill Nelson’s record to hide from his own record of hurting Florida’s environment. Rick Scott has done a poor job as governor because he’s slashed budgets for environmental and water management agencies, cut enforcement of environmental regulations, allowed more toxins in the waterways and stopped efforts to monitor leaking septic tanks, which altogether have helped create the algae crisis we’re facing today,” Kitchen contended.

Days after the Scott ad dropped, Nelson responded with his own buy, pinning the blame on the “manmade crisis” on Gov. Scott.

Scott’s campaign asserted that the Governor “invested record amounts in Florida’s environment and has stepped up time and time again when Washington politicians like Bill Nelson failed to meet their commitment to our state.”

“It was Governor Scott who secured state funding for repairing the Herbert Hoover Dike at Lake Okeechobee, supported legislation to accelerate the EAA reservoir, received a commitment from the president’s administration to speed up dike repairs and secured funding through the Army Corps of Engineers to complete dike repairs by the Governor’s goal of 2022,” the Scott campaign said.

The new Scott ad is below, seemingly released to double down on its own messaging, as if daring the relatively resource-poor Nelson to commit more of his campaign’s money to litigating an argument rehearsed well over a month ago.

Material from FP’s Scott Powers was used in this post. 

Polling: GOP candidates on wrong side of medical marijuana smoking ban

As Florida Politics was preparing to release the results of our final post-primary, statewide survey focusing on the nexus of 2018 elections and medical marijuana, POLITICO Florida published a story putting Ron DeSantis, Ashley Moody and Matt Caldwell squarely on the wrong side of public opinion when it comes to Florida’s popular medical marijuana law.

The three top-of-ticket Republicans each offered varying degrees of incoherence as they staked out positions in support of Tallahasee’s quixotic crusade against allowing Florida patients to smoke medical marijuana.

DeSantis: “I want to see what happens with [the appeal].”

Moody: “…the litigation to clarify the amendment’s scope is reasonable…”

Caldwell: “…smoking is not a medicinal delivery system…[the smoking lawsuit] is just a fig leaf for full recreational use…”

Meanwhile, in the real world, voters believe — by a whopping 66-24 margin — that medical marijuana patients be allowed to smoke marijuana under the law.

These numbers come from Florida Politics’ polling partnership with medical marijuana advocacy org Empowering Wellness. What began as Wellness Week has now stretched over almost two weeks, and we’ve released results from four surveys over the last 10 days. In tomorrow morning’s SunBurn we’ll roll out the fifth and final poll, looking at the race for Attorney General.

ICYM the Sean Shaw-Moody horse race numbers,I’ll give you some hints:

—It’s tiggggght (duh);

—Medical marijuana is a winner for Shaw, and a loser for Moody.

Just like the three previous St. Pete Polls statewide surveys that we commissioned as part of Wellness Week(s), Floridians strongly support the state’s medical marijuana law, in numbers consistent with the 71 percent it received on the 2016 ballot. Also in line with the previous surveys, people aren’t happy with the Tallahasee status quo when it comes to the application of that law.

By a 42-23 margin, respondents disapproved of the way outgoing AG Pam Bondi has handled medical marijuana during her tenure. Those figures are squarely aligned with the prior results, where we asked if folks approved of Gov. Rick Scott’s handling (nope, by 45-30), and the Legislature’s handling (uh uh, by 48-29) of medical marijuana implementation.

Even in the survey we conducted among Republican primary voters in the uber-conservative 1st Congressional District (held by medical marijuana-supporting Republican, Matt Gaetz), Panhandle Republicans would rather keep the Florida medical marijuana law in place, versus repealing it, by a 53-34 margin.

DeSantis, Moody and Caldwell are simply out of step with the electorate on this issue, and all indications are that Democrats are going to continue weaponizing it to their electoral advantage.

We had Bill Nelson over Scott by 0.1 percent, Andrew Gillum over DeSantis by 0.3 percent, and Nikki Fried over Caldwell by 1.8 percent — and the AG race is looking to be another close one.

With a slate of statewide contests this tight, medical marijuana could easily make the difference in any one of them.

New Rick Scott ad: ‘I’ll give ’em hell up in Washington’

Gov. Rick Scott, the Republican U.S. Senate nominee, is launching a new television and internet ad in which he declares Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is complicit in Washington corruption and that Scott will “give ’em Hell in Washington.”

The 30-second spot, “Give ‘Em Hell“, has mostly simple video. Most of it is Scott speaking into the camera while text highlights some of his comments, though there is a spell where viewers get to see computer animation of Nelson aging over 40 years.

“Washington has its own brand of corruption. Politicians who stay politicians forever. Politicians who make promises they never intend to keep – just so they can get money and votes. After 40 years in Washington, that’s the story of Bill Nelson,” Scott states. “A vote for Nelson is a vote for government waste and debt, higher taxes, chaos at the border and weakness abroad. Nelson can’t change Washington. He IS Washington. I’m Rick Scott, I’ll give ‘em hell up in Washington.”

Those charges were almost immediately rebutted by the Nelson campaign, which issued the following statement after the ad dropped:

“The only person with a ‘brand of corruption’ in the U.S. Senate race in Florida is Rick Scott. Not only has he done a poor job as governor, he’s greatly enriched himself while in office,” said Dan McLaughlin, a spokesman for Nelson’s campaign. “If Mr. Scott wants to talk about a ‘brand of corruption,’ let’s talk about it. Let’s talk about his massive Medicare fraud scheme. Let’s talk about his seemingly well-timed and lucrative financial investments in state projects that he’s hidden from the public. Let’s talk about some of his political donors who are making small fortunes off state projects he’s approved. Let’s talk about a politician with a ‘brand of corruption.'”

Scott’s newest volley comes after Nelson released his own duo of attack ads. The first is a Spanish-language ad calling Scott an “amigo” to President Donald Trump while the second is an English-language ad slamming the two-term governor’s record on the environment.

“Tell me who you hang out with, and I will tell you who you are. Rick Scott and Donald Trump are pals,” a translation of the ad reads.

The Scott vs. Nelson head-to-head is one of the most-watched U.S. Senate battles in the nation as national Democrats are trying to prevent the Republican’s current 50-49 majority in the chamber from increasing — a tall order considering 23 of the 33 U.S. Senate seats up for grabs this year are held by Democrats, and 10 of those seats, Nelson’s included, are in states won by Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

As with the two prior elections in Scott’s political career, the Senate race is shaping up to be a close one. A recent survey from St. Pete Polls — the most accurate pollster in Florida’s primary elections — shows the two men deadlocked with 47 percent support apiece with the remainder undecided.

Earlier this week, Nelson and Scott agreed to face each other in an Oct. 2 debate that will be broadcast in the Miami, Fort Myers, Orlando, Tampa and West Palm media markets.

In new ad, Bill Nelson depicts Rick Scott as Donald Trump’s ‘amigo’

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson‘s reelection campaign released two television ads Wednesday evening.

One, titled “Amigo,” is a Spanish-language spot that claims President Donald Trump and Nelson’s Republican challenger, Gov. Rick Scott, are just that: amigos.

Translated from Spanish, the opening lines of the 30-second ad: “Tell me who you hang out with, and I will tell you who you are. Rick Scott and Donald Trump are great/close friends/pals.”

The ad debuts as some speculate Scott is attempting to distance himself from Trump. A POLITICO story on Monday noted the term-limited Governor is campaigning alongside old-school Republicans like former President George W. Bush.

Accompanying “Amigo” is another 30-second television spot titled “Know.” The ad attempts to call Scott’s environmental record into question. It also highlights Scott’s association with a company fined for Medicaid fraud.

Both ads make the claim that “you just can’t trust” Scott.

News of these ads followed two national groups on Wednesday putting an untold sum behind negative digital ads targeting Scott.

Latest polling of the high profile race suggests the two candidates are neck and neck. A Wednesday forecast from elections analysis group FiveThirtyEight put the race as a tossup.

Watch the two ads below:

Progressive group’s poll cautions Bill Nelson against voting for Brett Kavanaugh

A progressive group is touting the results of a Florida poll it commissioned as a warning to Florida’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson to not vote to confirm President Donald Trump‘s U.S. Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

The poll by YouGov Blue on behalf of Demand Justice suggests that politically, for the upcoming Nov. 6 election, Nelson might find little to gain and potentially some votes to lose if he votes for Kavanaugh.

In Florida, 80 percent of undecided voters answered that their vote would not be impacted if Nelson decides to oppose Kavanaugh, according to a news release issued by Demand Justice. On the other hand, the survey finds that 31 percent of Florida Democrats say they would be less likely to vote for Nelson if he votes to confirm Kavanaugh.

Influence Watch notes that Demand Justice was formed earlier this year as a non-profit social welfare organization which hosts a number of similar advocacy groups advocating for a progressive-politics agenda, and emerged as one of the leading opposition groups to Kavanaugh’s nomination.

The poll of 451 likely Florida voters was conducted Aug. 24-Sept. 1, and YouGov Blue cites a margin of error of 4.9 percent.

“The numbers show that opposing Kavanaugh is not just the right thing to do, it is also the politically smart move for Nelson’s reelection,” Brian Fallon, executive director of Demand Justice, stated in a news release. “Voters in Florida are saying they do not want a judge who would overturn protections for preexisting conditions. If Senator Nelson votes for Kavanaugh, it won’t gain him any undecided voters but it could cause a lot of his core supporters to stay home in November.”

Two Democratic groups launch new anti-Rick Scott digital ads

Two Democratic political action committees, the Senate Majority PAC and Priorities USA, are teaming for a new digital ad blitz against Republican Gov. Rick Scott‘s U.S. Senate bid, part of a $21 million national internet advertising campaign targeting Republican U.S. Senate candidates in nine states.

One new 15-second spot set to run in Florida, “Richer” charges that, as Governor, Scott turned down funding for health care and cut funding for public education while supporting tax cuts for the rich, and got richer himself along the way.

“Scott got richer, and even bought himself a new private jet, while our families got hurt,” the narrator says, as pictures of Scott, a private jet, and a sad mother and daughter move across the screen. “Scott’s never been on our side. He never will be.”

Senate Majority PAC and Priorities USA said in a news release they’re spending $18 million combined on this ad and other attack ads being launched in Florida, Arizona, Indiana, Missouri, and North Dakota. Senate Majority PAC also announced it is spending an additional $3 million on its own for new ads in Montana, Nevada, Tennessee, and West Virginia.

The release did not break down how much of the $18 million is being spent on Florida, but the Sunshine State has more residents than the other four states combined. The ads will run on Facebook and video and audio streaming platforms such as YouTube, Hulu and Spotify, among other platforms, the release stated.

Last month, the same two groups spent $1.1 million on internet ads attacking Scott on health care issues. Earlier this year, Senate Majority PAC put $2.2 million behind television commercials backing Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, who’s being challenged by Scott in the Nov. 6 election. And in May, the two groups teamed up for $600,000 in digital ads supporting Nelson.

“Across the Senate map, Republican candidates are on the wrong side of the issues most important to voters, and we are using every tool we have to hammer that point home,” J.B. Poersch, president of SMP, stated in the release. “With Priorities’ help, we are amassing a robust and efficient digital program to communicate to voters that Democrats are the ones fighting for the middle class, while Republicans continue to look out for the wealthy and the special interests.”

Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are desperate to hold on to power so they can stack the courts, weaken Medicare, and pass even bigger tax cuts for the wealthy and big corporations at our expense,” Guy Cecil, chairman of Priorities USA Action stated in the release. “Priorities USA Action is committed to closing the digital spending gap in critical races and is thrilled to work closely with SMP to talk to voters about the issues that matter most.”

For Rick Scott, 2018 is a referendum on ‘socialism’

Democratic voters chose a gubernatorial nominee, Andrew Gillum, who presented the most progressive vision of any option put forth by the Florida party.

For current Governor Rick Scott, that tack to the left has proven to be endless fodder for him in his challenge to U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a centrist of the old style.

On Wednesday, Scott’s press shop pushed an increasingly familiar narrative: that the Nelson/Gillum “ticket” is too radical, too socialist for Florida.

“Three weeks ago, Florida Democrats nominated the most liberal gubernatorial candidate in the history of the state. The Gillum-Nelson-Socialism ticket has already stated that they will undo the pro-growth, pro-family, low-tax record of the last 8 years,” Scott’s campaign asserted.

Nelson established distance from Gillum in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times editorial board, and Scott’s campaign noticed, spotlighting assertions like “I don’t want to abolish ICE. I want to abolish Trump” and “I’ve got enough trouble just trying to save Obamacare.”

“It’s no surprise that a confused, career Washington politician will say one thing one week and another thing the next,” Scott asserted.

“Last week Senator Nelson said Gillum’s positions are mainstream. This week he’s disavowing them. It’s clear Bill Nelson will say anything (and in this case everything) to try to desperately hold on to political office. But at the end of the day, the voters of Florida know the damage that the Gillum-Nelson-Socialism ticket will have on them and their families,” Scott asserted.

Scott has messaged heavily around the theme that the 2018 race pits Republicans against socialists, including during a Jacksonville stop this week.

“The Democrats are talking about big government socialism, [saying] ‘oh, it’s fair,’” Scott said. “Yeah, it’s fair — we all do bad. We all do poorly under socialism.”

These are themes that Scott and the Republican who would replace him, former Congressman Ron DeSantis, have hammered home. As have other Republican groups.

“Nelson’s desperate backtracking from his support of socialist Andrew Gillum isn’t fooling anyone,” said Camille Gallo, National Republican Senatorial Committee Spokesperson. “Floridians know that Bill Nelson will work with Andrew Gillum to take Florida in a dangerous direction and stand ready to reject their radical agenda and elect Rick Scott in November.”

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