Bill Nelson Archives - Page 4 of 74 - Florida Politics

Senate and gubernatorial candidates rally votes around Florida

Mail-in ballots started arriving in mailboxes in Florida and candidates for governor and senator have started hitting the trail rallying votes. Where can you spot hopefuls for the highest offices in the Sunshine State this weekend?

Democrat Jeff Greene, a Palm Beach billionaire, today launches his “Fighting For Florida” statewide bus tour in his bid for governor. “This tour is as much about listening to voters as it is about them hearing from me,” he says. “I look forward to continuing the conversations we’ve started in communities across the state as we fight for a better future for Florida.” He’ll also be giving away backpacks for the back-to-school season.

Saturday, Greene starts in Palm Beach County and will end up in Orange County, where he will campaign Sunday as well.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, in his re-election effort, today will kick off a “100 Days to Election Day Weekend of Action” in Casselberry, rallying volunteers along with U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy at a Nelson’s Neighbor’s canvassing event in Seminole County. Then the Democratic senator on Saturday evening will speak at Orange County Democrats’ Kennedy King Gala in Orlando at 7 p.m. at the Hilton Orlando Buena Vista Palace.

Republican candidates for governor, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, will attend the Republican Party of Sarasota County’s Primary Election Grassroots Straw Poll at Robarts Arena in Sarasota. The event runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Gov. Rick Scott, who is challenging Nelson this year for his Senate seat, will also attend the event.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine, a former Miami Beach Mayor, will spend his afternoon and evening in the Orlando area, first meeting with the 32BJ, a local union chapter of the SEUI FL representing workers at Orlando International Airport. He’s appropriately meeting curbside at Terminal B around 2:15 p.m. Then he also heads to the Buena Vista Palace Hilton for the Orange County Democratic Gala at 8:15 p.m.

Democrat Chris King’s gubernatorial campaign will hold a canvassing event in Orlando from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate, on Sunday will attend a town hall on Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, organized by the Upper Pinellas County Ministerial Alliance following to death of Markeis McGlockton. Clearwater Police Chief Daniel Slaughter and NAACP Clearwater/Upper Pinellas Branch President Marva McWhite will also attend the 4 p.m. event at Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in Clearwater.

Darcy Richardson, the Reform Party nominee for governor, will be in Williston today for an AARP-sponsored event, “The Engaged Electorate Forum,” at noon. Following that, he heads to a candidate forum held by the Dunnellon Chamber of Commerce and the American Legion.

This post will be updated with information from campaigns as it becomes available.

Bill Nelson to DOJ: Investigate Markeis McGlockton shooting

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is calling for a federal investigation into last week’s shooting death of Markeis McGlockton outside a Clearwater convenience store.

McGlockton was shot dead following a dispute with 47-year-old Michael Drejka over a handicapped parking space. The issue has earned attention because of the state’s “Stand Your Ground” law possibly shielding Drejka from prosecution.

The short letter from Nelson and four other lawmakers is addressed to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Assistant Attorney General John M. Gore. It calls on the Department of Justice to look into whether federal law was violated in the shooting.

“We are writing to request that the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Criminal Section open an investigation into the death of Markeis McGlockton at the hands of Michael Drejka in Clearwater, Florida, on July 19, 2018. Thank you for your immediate attention to this matter.”

The letter was also signed by U.S. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California, and U.S. Reps. Charlie Crist and Alcee Hastings of Florida. All are Democrats.

Drejka has not yet been arrested, as Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri argues the “Stand Your Ground” law prevents arrest absent a determination by the state attorney that the defense does not apply.

The appeal by Nelson comes after a pair of state lawmakers urged State Attorney Bernie McCabe to pursue charges against Drejka.

Progressive group canvassing for Bill Nelson, other Democrats on Saturday

Saturday marks 100 days until voters head to the polls and a progressive advocacy group plans to spend the day knocking on thousands of doors throughout the Sunshine State.

For Our Future Florida said it aims to knock on 20,000 doors during its “Statewide Canvass Day of Action,” which consists of 72 separate events in all corners of the state, from smaller cities such as Apopka and Gainesville to major metros including Miami and St. Petersburg.

The group added that it aims to “turn the groundswell of enthusiasm from newly engaged voters into action at the polls in 2018.” There’s some math behind that mission — according recent reports, young voter registrations have soared in the months since the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.

While Democrats running for regional seats in the state Legislature and U.S. House will get plenty of attention during the canvassing drive, the group said the game plan is for all volunteers to make the case for re-electing U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson to a fourth term and sending a Democrat to the Governor’s Mansion for the first time this century. FOF-FL has not officially endorsed one of the five Democratic candidates for Governor.

FOF-FL, the state branch of For Our Future Action Fund, says its mission “is to mobilize and empower people and community-based organizations to drive real change and advance our shared agenda.” That agenda includes pushing for progressive policies to expand Social Security and Medicare, boost investments in green energy production, increase education funding and ending the “school to prison pipeline.”

Though Nelson is not known as a bulwark of progressivism, his race against Republican Gov. Rick Scott is shaping up to be the fight of his political life.

In addition to being one of 10 sitting Democratic running for re-election in a state President Donald Trump carried in 2016, Scott has boasted record-breaking fundraising numbers in addition to juicing his campaign with $14 million of his own money.

The race carries some importance on the national scale, too. While Democrats are in no way favored to flip the Senate come November, a loss by Nelson or any other Democratic Senator in the fall would dash the party’s chances outright.

Most of FOF-FL’s canvassing events are slated to start at 10 a.m. Saturday and run into the evening hours. A partial listing of those events can be found on the group’s Facebook page.

Saturday is also one of the last days Floridians can register to vote and still be eligible to participate in the Aug. 28 primary elections — the cutoff is Monday, 29 days before the election. The cutoff to participate in the Nov. 6 general election is Oct. 9.

Happy Anniversary: Democrats jeer Rick Scott one year after failed GOP health care plan

Several state Democrats have come together via joint statements to remind Floridians of Gov. Rick Scott‘s intervention in a 2017 push to repeal and replace Obamacare, which ultimately never materialized.

The unified effort — featuring state lawmakers Reps. Amy Mercado and Shevrin Jones, along with Sens. Lori Berman and José Javier Rodríguez  — comes as Scott vies to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson

It was reported last year that Scott had helped Congressman Tom Price, President Donald Trump‘s now-resigned pick to lead the U.S. Health and Human Services agency, craft legislation to repeal and replace certain provisions in the Affordable Health Care Act, or Obamacare. It also was reported that Scott would’ve seen personal tax savings under some of the proposed ideas.

However, when a plan to repeal certain provisions of Obamacare went to the U.S. Senate for a floor vote on July 27, 2017, it failed after Republican Senators John McCain of Arizona, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska voted against the proposal.

It’s unclear how much sway Scott had in the ultimate proposal, but it’s clear that Democrats don’t want anyone to forget his involvement — especially during an election year.

What’s omitted from the Democrats, however, is the idea that they are attacking Scott over a failed GOP plan that would have a higher chance of passage in the future if the Senate has one more Republican.

“Rick Scott bragged about helping write the failed GOP healthcare bill,” Mercado said. “It’s a true blessing for Florida that the bill didn’t pass.

“Even though Scott failed in his efforts, Floridians are still faced with huge hurdles to get access to quality and affordable care, and the governor has done next to nothing to help.”

Added Jones: “Rick Scott’s attacks on access to affordable healthcare are disgraceful, but not surprising. Scott has always put himself first, and his work helping write healthcare repeal is no exception. He cared more about getting props from his Republican friends in D.C. than actually helping Floridians.”

“Not only did he go to D.C. to help write the bill that would’ve stripped protections for pre-existing conditions and increased costs for millions, he actively worked against expanding healthcare for hundreds of thousands of Floridians,” Berman said. “Floridians deserve better.”

“We need a leader who will fight for healthcare access, not against it,” Javier Rodriguez added. 

These attacks come as Democrats nationwide have coalesced around a health care-focused message for the midterms. They also follow Florida’s decision to join a lawsuit with other states seeking for provisions of Obamacare to be overturned. One of the hot-button issues: coverage of individuals with pre-existing conditions.

Scott, a Republican, takes a limited-government approach to the issue and has gone on record saying he believes everyone should have access to health care, but that the marketplace should be competitive. After Democrats attacked him claiming he supports eliminating the pre-existing condition provision, Scott replied, “I’ve continued to say that it is important to cover individuals with pre-existing conditions and that every American, including those with pre-existing conditions, should have the ability to buy any kind of insurance they want. Obamacare is a disaster and costs way too much, but keeping pre-existing provisions should be a part of any healthcare reform. I disagree with efforts to dismantle protections for those with pre-existing conditions.”

Nelson, a Democrat, also has charged Scott with supporting the elimination of the pre-existing condition provision, saying he should withdraw Florida from the lawsuit if he believes otherwise. Scott, however, has told media that Bondi has the independent authority to remain in the lawsuit.

Rick Scott holding fundraiser during Trump rally in Tampa

When President Donald Trump takes the stage at the Florida State Fairgrounds next week, Gov. Rick Scott will be a county away raising cash for his U.S. Senate bid.

The Scott campaign sent out an invite this week for a fundraiser Tuesday evening in Clearwater. The private reception starts at 7:00 p.m., the same time as a Tampa campaign rally where Trump is expected to make the case for U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis to succeed Scott as Governor.

The president is friendly with Scott and is expected to speak in support of his Senate campaign as well as U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz’ re-election bid in Florida’s 1st Congressional District.

While Scott will not attend the rally, he will get some facetime with the president earlier in the day. Scott campaign spokeswoman Lauren Schenone said earlier this week that the two politicians will attend an afternoon event at Tampa Bay Technical High School.

Scott’s Clearwater fundraiser will be hosted by Jay and Linda Beyrouti, Jane and Leo Govoni, Jim Holton as well as Joe and Jo Ann White. Scott recently appointed Jay Beyrouti to the Pinellas County Commission to fill the empty seat created by longtime Commissioner John Morroni‘s passing on May 20.

Listed as co-hosts are Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, St. Petersburg state Sen. Jeff Brandes, Pinellas Clerk of the Court Ken Burke, State Attorney Bernie McCabe and Pinellas Tax Collector Charles Thomas. The invite, attached below, says it’ll take a minimum contribution of $1,000 to attend.

Scott, who is term-limited as Governor, is looking to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in the fall, and recent polls show him with a slight edge over the incumbent. The election is Nov. 6.

AIF backs Rick Scott for Senate

Gov. Rick Scott has earned the endorsement of Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) as he continues his campaign to oust incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.

Scott, running for U.S. Senate after two terms as Florida’s governor, thanked the group for its endorsement.

“Over the past seven and a half years, we’ve worked hard to improve the business climate in Florida by cutting taxes and reducing burdensome regulations and making it easier for job creators to create new opportunities for our families,” Scott said.

“… As a U.S. Senator, I will continue to fight for businesses all across our country, and I appreciate the endorsement of AIF as we continue to work toward making Florida the best state in the nation for business and job growth.”

Added AIF President and CEO Tom Feeney: “Gov. Scott has worked tirelessly from the very first day he took office to make Florida the number one destination to do business for Florida families and job creators.”

The news comes as a poll released Wednesday showed Scott holding onto a slight lead in the race, earning 44 percent of the vote to Nelson’s 40 percent.

FAU poll sees U.S. Senate race steady since May

A new survey out shows Gov. Rick Scott leading incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson by four percentage points in the race for U.S. Senate.

Scott earns 44 percent of the vote compared to Nelson’s 40 percent, according to the most recent results by the Florida Atlantic University Business and Economics Polling Initiative. Those numbers are nearly identical to the last measure released by FAU in May.

But the number of undecided voters did increase; 17 percent of whom say they’re undecided now, compared to 16 percent in the previous poll — although that can be attributed to rounding error.

Those numbers are in line with other surveys which have shown a close race, albeit at times with different candidates leading. RealClearPolitics currently has Scott with a lead of less than a percentage point, according to an aggregate of available polls.

The FAU poll did show some other notable numbers relevant to the race, with Scott’s approval rating well above Nelson’s.

Voters give Scott a 50 percent approval rating as Governor, compared to 32 percent unfavorable, giving him a plus-18 in favorability. Nelson’s unfavorability rating as U.S. Senator matches Scott’s 32 percent, but his favorability came in double-digits below Scott’s at 37 percent. FAU didn’t measure either’s favorability in its May poll.

One major difference from two months ago, however, is the explosion of concern expressed by Floridians over the toxic algal blooms that have plagued the state’s coast. According to FAU, 53 percent of those polled said they are “very concerned” about the thick green slime, while another third said they were “somewhat concerned.”

The issue has taken a front-row seat in the Senate race. Nelson hit Scott over algal blooms during the weekend, saying they have been exacerbated by poor leadership at the state level.

“Rick Scott has systematically dismembered the environmental agencies of the state of Florida over the last eight years,” Nelson said during a roundtable discussion about the discharges.

The Scott campaign hit back, calling on Nelson to “do his job” and help secure funding to address the problem while touting the Governor’s efforts at both the state level and dealing with the Trump Administration.

“The fact that Florida is waiting for such an important project to move forward shows that it’s time to end the career politician mentality of only working three days a week and allowing Washington’s bureaucratic processes to slow down results,” Scott said Tuesday.

The FAU poll was conducted from July 20-21 and sampled 800 registered voters. The group was made up of 35 percent registered Democrats, 33 percent registered Republicans and 32 percent registered Independents. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.

Email insights: Rick Scott says Bill Nelson ‘must do his job’ to secure Lake O funds

In an email Tuesday, Gov. Rick Scott said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson “must do his job” and secure funding for repairs to the federally operated Herbert Hoover Dike surrounding Lake Okeechobee.

Scott is looking to replace Nelson in the Senate this fall; the email from his campaign touted his role in “championing” millions in state funding for the repairs, signing legislation to build a reservoir to store water south of Lake O, getting a commitment from the Trump administration to speed up repairs, and securing funding through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

When it came to Nelson, though, the Scott campaign pitched him as a do-nothing senator.

“Let’s remember, Bill Nelson made a pledge in 1990 ‘to save Lake Okeechobee’ but the algae on Florida’s shores today shows the extent of Nelson’s failure to follow through on that commitment,” the email said, adding that “Floridians cannot wait another 30 years for Bill Nelson to push this project forward.”

Also included was a quote from Scott himself, “I was in Hendry County today and have heard firsthand from Floridians whose livelihoods have been impacted by algal blooms and Bill Nelson’s ‘all talk, no action’ method of addressing this problem. Bill Nelson has failed the families and communities surrounding Lake Okeechobee for decades, but now that the EAA reservoir project we fought for has been approved by the White House, there is no excuse for Nelson and Congress to not immediately secure this funding.

“The fact that Florida is waiting for such an important project to move forward shows that it’s time to end the career politician mentality of only working three days a week and allowing Washington’s bureaucratic processes to slow down results. Floridians cannot keep waiting for Bill Nelson to do his job and push the EAA project forward, and I look forward to seeing this immediately approved.”

The campaign message echoes a news release published earlier this month by Scott in his official capacity as Governor. That memo called on Congress to “act now” without targeting Nelson specifically.

Scott’s message comes a few days after Nelson placed the blame for Lake O’s green algae problem on Scott’s shoulders.

During a roundtable on the algal blooms hosted by Nelson in North Fort Myers, he said Scott “has systematically dismembered the environmental agencies of the state of Florida over the last eight years.” Specifically, the third-term Democratic Senator called out the defunding of Florida Forever dollars and a change in law requiring fewer inspections on septic tanks for contributing to pollution in Lake Okeechobee.

Rick Scott: U.S. Senators should be working full time

Republican U.S. Senate candidate and Gov. Rick Scott unveiled the next plank in his “Make Washington Work” platform, a proposal to force U.S. senators to work five days a week and a lot more of the year if they want to draw their full federal salaries.

The proposal takes issue with the standard procedures of senators coming into Washington to begin sessions Monday evenings and cutting out after Thursday afternoons: essentially three-day weeks, not including any time they spend working back home.

It also takes issue with the frequent and long recesses. Both procedures are currently controlled by the Republican leadership, though they date back through many.

“For too long, career politicians have been getting away with putting in the minimum effort possible to keep their jobs. This is unacceptable,” Scott stated in a news release. “The gridlocks we see every day in Washington show that Congress clearly doesn’t give themselves enough time to get anything done. That is why the next proposal of my ‘Make Washington Work’ plan is requiring Congress to put in full-time work in order to receive a full-time salary, just like hard working Americans across the country. Florida business leaders know that the only way to ensure success is to show up every day, work hard and fight for your company and employees, and we should expect nothing less from our elected officials in Washington.”

Unlike a couple of earlier proposals as part of Scott’s Make Washington Work plan, this idea is something the U.S. Senate and Congress could legally address. Earlier, Scott had proposed term limits and a line-item budget veto, items that could only become law through Constitutional Amendments, well beyond what the Senate can do.

There was no certain allegation that his opponent in the 2018 election, incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, would fall into the less-than-40-hours group. Nelson is known for working Fridays and weekends back in Florida. And Scott’s proposal allowed for work being done back in the state.

Still, Scott’s campaign took an indirect swipe at him in a news release, declaring, “Congress often fails to secure results for the Americans they serve, and frequently rushes to complete its most basic legislative work, even by voting on bills without reading them. While Washington politicians like Bill Nelson spend less than half their time doing their jobs in Washington, they still collect an annual salary of $174,000 – more than double what the average American family makes.”

Bill Nelson sharpens algae talks with partisan edge, Rick Scott responds

Updated: With comment from Rick Scott.

Discussion of algal blooms on the Caloosahatchee River took a decidedly political turn at a roundtable hosted by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in North Fort Myers.

Braced for a tight re-election fight where he faces a challenge from Republican Gov. Rick Scott, the three-term senator put the onus of the green-algae problem on poor state leadership.

“Rick Scott has systematically dismembered the environmental agencies of the state of Florida over the last eight years,” Nelson said.

Specifically, Nelson called out the defunding of Florida Forever dollars and a change in law requiring fewer inspections on septic tanks for contributing to pollution in Lake Okeechobee.

Participants in the roundtable, held at Three Fisherman Seafood Restaurant overlooking the river, gave similarly partisan assessments of the environment. John Scott, Sierra Club Calusa Group chairman, read off a list of Scott sins against the Everglades that included turning the Department of Environmental Protection into a “polluter hand-holding” agency.

But not everyone at the panel came in a partisan capacity. Cape Coral Mayor Joe Coviello, also a part of the roundtable discussion, stressed residents needed answers from all leaders.

“You’ve been in the system,” he said. “What’s slowing it down? And what are solutions to get us where we are going?”

On that, Nelson stressed that problems with green algae come from decades of mistakes in the past, noting a 50-year era from the ‘20s to the ‘80s where the primary focus around Lake Okeechobee was preventing the flooding of homes rather than preserving the natural flow of water.

Nelson said the problem would not be fixed overnight.

But the senator did call on a re-evaluation of water discharges from the lake.

“This has gotten so bad,” Nelson said, “and it’s only going to continue unless policies are immediately reversed.”

The conversation also tilted toward health care. There, Dr. Parisima Taeb, the Democrat challenge state Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen in House District 78, spun algae as a health problem, causing asthma problems today and potentially late-stage liver disease problems in the future.

“State leadership refusing to accept funds to expand Medicaid should be part of the conversation,” Taeb said.

Nelson also connected Scott’s support from oil companies to the issue. “Yesterday my opponent was in Oklahoma having a fundraiser with the oil and gas boys,” Nelson told Florida Politics. “It’s the oil and gas boys that keep trying to drill off this coast.”

Nelson noted early that the roundtable was part of a campaign event, unlike earlier town halls he’d held in Southwest Florida organized by his Senate office. But will turning algae into a partisan fight make it more difficult to address it regardless of whether he returns to Washington?

Nelson isn’t concerned.

“I get along with my colleague Sen. [Marco] Rubio,” Nelson said. “I think it’s telling that Marco, when asked by the press, ‘Are you going to campaign against Sen. Bill Nelson,’ he said, ‘I will not campaign against Bill Nelson.’ He is my partner in the Senate. I think that tells you something about my bipartisanship.”

Gov. Scott responded to Florida Politics later to the charges leveled by Scott:

“When Bill Nelson repeatedly failed to step up, it was Governor Scott who secured state funding for Lake Okeechobee, supported legislation to accelerate the EAA reservoir, and now secured funding through the Army Corps of Engineers,” reads a statement from Scott’s Senate campaign.

“It’s absurd for Nelson to say that a bill that was overwhelmingly passed by the legislature only six years ago to save homeowners money is somehow responsible for a problem that has lasted for generations. Additionally, under Governor Scott’s leadership, Florida established the most comprehensive nutrient pollution standards in the nation and became the first state to adopt complete nutrient standards protecting all lakes, rivers, streams, springs and estuaries.”

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