Bill Nelson Archives - Page 5 of 30 - Florida Politics

Marco Rubio decries new FDA cigar regulations while visiting Tampa factory

Marco Rubio‘s re-election campaign brought him to a 13o-year-old cigar factory in Tampa Wednesday, where he blasted proposed federal rules which could severely harm it and other cigar manufacturers in the U.S.

A recent FDA ruling initially intended to regulate smokeless tobacco products, but summarily expanded to include cigars, would compel manufacturers like the J.C. Newman Company to go through a rigorous and costly application before any new product could go on the market. Officials said the imposed verification process would radically slow the rate of new cigars going on shelves as well as the number of new cigars in general.

“This is one more added cost to production. It’s going to put these companies unfortunately out of business,” said Rubio, who received a tour of the factory before addressing the media. “When you tell any company you can no longer offer new products, without going through a very expensive process, any industry … I don’t care what you sell … you’re going to struggle to survive, especially facing unfair foreign competition.”

Eric Newman, president of the 130-year-old J.C. Newman Company located in Tampa’s V.M. Ybor section, calls the new proposal “draconian,” and said it would cost his company $2.5 million in compliance costs to fully implement.

Rubio and his U.S. Senate colleague from Florida, Democrat Bill Nelson, initially introduced legislation called the “Traditional Cigar Manufacturing & Small Business Jobs Preservation Act” in 2011, which would remove the FDA’s jurisdiction over the premium cigar industry by amending the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor filed similar legislation in the House. They’ve introduced similar bills in the 2013 and 2015 sessions, to no avail. Rubio said that he and Nelson would again push for that bill’s passage before the end of the year.

Rubio was joined by Tampa state House District 60 Republican Dana Young, who, like Rubio, is on the ballot next month, where she is running for the Senate District 18 seat.

“This is a classic example of how in a bipartisan way, at the state and federal level, we can work together and try to stop both regulations of small businesses like this one and needless red tape involved with lumping in one product that is part of our culture with others that cause harm to the public,” she said.

Adding insult to injury, both Newman and Rubio said, was President Obama’s announcement last Friday that it is eliminating a $100 limit on the value of Cuban rum and cigars that American travelers can bring back from the island. Travelers can now purchase unlimited quantities of Cuban cigars in any country where they are sold but they can only be for personal use and cannot be sold.

“We love the competition,” insisted Newman, but said it wouldn’t be a fair fight between his cigars and the ones imported from Cuba, since they won’t be required to do the compliance costs the FDA requires of American cigar manufacturers.

“At a time when Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton talk about bringing back American manufacturing jobs … the American government wants to shut us down, ” Newman said. “We’re horrified by that.”

Rubio also fielded questions on his Senate campaign, where the polls have suddenly tightened with Democrat Patrick Murphy with less than three weeks to go before Election Day.

“You don’t win in Florida in a presidential year as a Republican by 10 points. Or even by five points,” he said. “It is becoming the race I knew it would, which is a close race.” He then spent several moments listing what he said were his achievements in the Senate in the past six years.

Bill Nelson endorses Beth Tuura in HD 47, predicts Hillary Clinton will win election

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, standing in the small living room of the Orlando Democratic Executive Committee on Park Lake Street Monday morning, announced his endorsement for Beth Tuura for the House District 47 seat.

In doing so, he recalled his own time running for HD 47, especially his early adventures going door to door to promote his candidacy.

“Going door to door, you learn a lot about life,” he said. “I repeated it when I went to Congress years later. People remembered me and said ‘you came to my door.’ Running that kind of personal campaign makes a difference. That’s harder in a state as big as this, but I am happy we have someone like you.”

He went on to say Tuura was the kind of candidate needed to help win back the Florida House for the Democrats — and, even if the Senate remained Republican-controlled, it was good to have that kind of parity in the state.

“This is the beginning,” he said. “One house should be check and balance against unlimited power by one party. That’s what’s important.”

Tuura said she was “so honored” to have Nelson’s endorsement, as he was a great example to her of everything from responsible government leadership to championing the environment.

She also vowed that, if she wins, she will “fight any legislation seeking to bring fracking to the community and put dangerous chemicals in the water,” and vowed to expand health care to thousands of families.

She also took time to comment on the much-publicized video released over the weekend in which Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump made numerous offensive and inappropriate comments about women.

“What we’ve heard from the Republican nominee is horrible talk, and disturbing to anyone, whether you’re in a locker room or a board room,” she said. “I will have zero tolerance for discrimination. I will fight against discrimination whether it’s about who you love or what you look like.”

Nelson also spoke about the presidential election, stating he believed Hillary Clinton was going to win Florida and the election overall. But he still had his concerns, particularly with how he thought Trump may act after the election’s aftermath in that case.

“I think Hillary Clinton is going to win this election,” he said. “But I think it will be the first time the loser does not concede to the winner after the election. It will be the first time in the history of this country that the loser does not give credibility to the government’s ability to function. That’s a sad commentary.”

He also said he had “never seen politics more ideologically divided,” and stated he believed it wasn’t what America wanted or needed.

But Nelson also offered a positive spin on the idea, stating he believed the people of Florida were too good to fall for the divisive rhetoric of some in this election.

“Just look at the intolerance,” he said. “The ‘I know better’ attitude, the ‘My way or the highway’ attitude … you can’t run the country like that. People want a leader who is going to build consensus. That’s not going to cover it. Before all the stuff from last weekend, I predicted Hillary Clinton would win Florida by five points. Now, I think it may be more than that. If she wins, that’s it — and that helps candidates like Beth Tuura, too.”

President Obama signs Florida disaster declaration

It’s been a long time coming, but President Obama signed off Wednesday on declaring a major disaster exists in Florida, ordering federal aid to areas affected by Hurricane Hermine earlier this month.

Obama’s actions now make federal funding available to affected individuals in the counties of Hillsborough, Pinellas, Citrus, Dixie, Hernando, Leon, Levy, and Pasco.

Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

Federal funding will also now be made available to state, tribal, and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by Hurricane Hermine in the counties of Citrus, Dixie, Franklin, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Madison, Pasco, Pinellas, Suwannee, Taylor, and Wakulla.

“Hurricane Hermine was the first hurricane to hit our state in over a decade and following the storm, I met with many businesses and families who were severely impacted,” said Governor Rick Scott. “While the state immediately stepped in to provide resources and assistance to families, this funding will help our local communities rebuild.”

The federal response comes eight days after Scott wrote a toughly worded letter to the president, where he said that there had been more than $36 million in damages due to the effects of Hermine. And he noted how the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) neglected to aid Florida for numerous incidents over the past year after the state requested assistance.

The governor referenced a handful of events, beginning with severe flooding the state suffered in August of 2015, to the fallout of extreme El Nino-led rainstorms in January and February of 2016, to tornadoes that affected several Florida counties, as well as damages incurred from June’s Tropical Storm Colin.

Scott also cited the lack of any federal help after the Pulse nightclub shooting in June in Orlando, which led to the deaths of 49 people, the deadliest single-gunman massacre in U.S. history; nor from the toxic algae bloom that emanated near Lake Okeechobee earlier this summer.

“During the preceding 12 months, the state of Florida experienced repeated emergencies that required the deployment of significant state resources,” Scott wrote. “Individually these incidents may not have overwhelmed the ability of the State of Florida to respond. Cumulatively, however, these emergencies significantly impacted the state’s capability to provide financial support following Hurricane Hermine.”

Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio also wrote to the president requesting federal aid.

FEMA head Craig Fugate has named Terry L. Quarles as the federal coordinating officer for federal recovery operations in the affected areas.

FEMA said residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties can begin applying for assistance tomorrow by registering online at http://www.DisasterAssistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.

In subcommittee, Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson spotlight Florida HUD horrors

Florida Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson don’t agree on everything. But when it comes to the horrors of the HUD-funded properties in Florida that are owned currently by Global Ministries Foundation, they presented a united from Thursday in a Senate subcommittee meeting on “Oversight of the HUD Inspection Process.”

Both Rubio and Nelson have visited GMF properties in Jacksonville, Orlando, and Riviera Beach, and have documented the decay and decrepitude in these low-income housing blocks.

On Thursday, they again sounded the alarm bell.

But, observed subcommittee head Tim Scott, HUD “could not spare a single individual to be here this morning,” despite thousands of employees and a $32 billion budget.

“How is it that not a single employee of HUD could make the time to explain how this has happened,” Scott said after showing a video of the degraded conditions.

“I cannot believe the conditions that Global Ministries allows in its properties,” Scott continued.

Scott lauded Rubio and Nelson for kickstarting the Senate investigation into the “widespread neglect” into properties like Eureka Garden in Jacksonville, the most high-profile failure of HUD oversight in Florida due to media attention and recent focus from the senators.

Subcommittee member Bob Corker lauded the two Florida Senators for “shining a light” on GMF; Corker, a senator from Tennessee, saw a similar narrative of neglected GMF public housing properties play out in his state.

In testimony, Nelson spoke of the “outrage” he felt, urging a subpoena of HUD officials to bring them to heel in front of the Senate.

Nelson went on to discuss the unacceptable conditions he and Rubio saw in Orlando at the Windsor Cove complex, including severe water damage, mold, roach infestation, and waterlogged carpeting.

As was the case with Eureka Garden in Jacksonville, Nelson noted that HUD had passed this tenement in its initial investigation, then “after we raised cain,” the agency invalidated the previous score after outcry from tenants, who faced “intimidation” for blowing the whistle.

Mysteriously, a second inspection revealed horrors galore: “broken smoke detectors, exposed electrical wires, blocked fire exits, leaky water valves, window cracks, missing floor tiles, and water seeping in from roof damage—just to name a few.”

Nelson discussed a hopeful augury: the potential sale of GMF properties to Millennia Housing Management in Ohio, which he believes has the resources to remediate these properties.

Nelson, who introduced the Housing Accountability Act with his Sunshine State colleague, noted that bill would tighten up inspection criteria and protect residents.

Rubio noted that “we are all deeply disturbed” by the “broken” process, and noted his displeasure with HUD’s no-show of the hearing.

“I became involved in this situation about a year ago when the tenants took their case to the public,” Rubio said, which has led to outcry against “slumlords” like GMF, which pay themselves handsomely and take the money out of maintenance.

Rubio spoke with passion about apartments at Eureka Garden unpainted in 13 years, with boarded-up windows and doors.

Rubio addressed, also, the “bureaucratic indifference” that led this to happen.

Furthermore, what he saw in Riviera Beach was even worse, with discarded “nickel bags and dime bags of drugs” strewn on the ground.

“Nothing displays how broken this system is better than HUD’s own inspection process,” a rigged game designed to “keep the money flowing to the landlord.”

Rubio, as Nelson did, discussed the flawed inspection process; however, Rubio depicted it as one of many “failed safety-net processes.”

GMF, Rubio noted, owns properties in many states: “over 5,000 taxpayer-funded properties throughout the nation.”

“I look forward to hearing from witnesses about GMF’s fraud and HUD’s neglect,” Rubio said.

Witnesses buttressed the senators’ claims.

Dr. Edgar Olsena public policy expert, noted that the subsidies exceed market rates, and contended the system actually offers incentive to a lack of repair.

“You should not assume the problem is limited to one owner,” Olson continued.

Deterioration, Olsen continued, is augmented by the inflation-adjusted subsidy not being tied to the level of maintenance, which allows them to “maximize profits by skimping on maintenance.”

Olsen argued against offering additional subsidies to these owners for renovation, instead contending that housing vouchers are a more cost-effective solution, tied to market rates.

Tracy Grant of the Eureka Garden Tenants Association spoke of moving into the complex in 2010, where she encountered “stumbling blocks,” including questioning of the validity of her birth certificate.

The night she moved in, she heard a gunshot outside her window. Her kids and she slept on the hard cement floor that night.

Meanwhile, the initial walkthrough revealed dirty floors and mold in the bathroom.

Once in the apartment, issues like leaky pipes and other signs of structural neglect, such as gas leaks that permeated the inside and the outside of the complex, plagued Ms. Grant.

Her fellow tenants, Grant said, want change; some of them have lived there 50 years, Grant said.

And some languish there in poor health, and some died there, perhaps because of complications from mold, gas leaks, and even lead poisoning from the water.

Grant’s own seven-year-old daughter has asthma, and so does Grant; she noted the correlation between conditions and health outcomes.

“We don’t want to live like this,” Grant said.

Josh Lewis of the Riviera Beach Police Department spoke next, about the conditions at the Stonybrook Complex, which was built in 1972.

Despite the property repeatedly being spotlighted by law enforcement, and repeated assurances by ownership that compliance would occur, no meaningful action was taken.

Eventually, in May 2016, the property was officially declared a criminal nuisance by the police department.

And, said Lewis, GMF still hadn’t taken meaningful corrective action.

After witness testimony, Sen. Rubio noted the goal of the hearing was to “make the current system work better,” then posed questions to witnesses.

One such question: to Grant, regarding the intimidation of tenants and “preferential treatment” to certain tenants to serve as mouthpieces to the press.

Among those amenities: refrigerators made this century.

Grant confirmed the senator’s read, saying that tenants who spoke up were threatened with a “ten-day eviction notice” rooted in spurious cause.

Grant also described rust peeling off of bathroom pipes, in response to questions from Sen. Scott.

Josh Lewis, meanwhile, called for “accountability.”

But the issue, pointed out by housing consultant Vincent O’Donnell, is tough to solve given the guaranteed income streams provided by housing vouchers.

The incentive is on landlords to keep tenants in units as long as possible.

Chairman Scott closed the hearing, saying there are “many issues in the housing footprint that we need to engage in,” as housing and upward mobility and quality of life are inextricably yoked.

House passes Vern Buchanan’s bill to aid Florida orange farms in their battle against citrus greening

The U.S. House on Wednesday passed Sarasota Republican Vern Buchanan’s bipartisan legislation to aid Florida orange growers in their battle against the predatory citrus greening disease. The bill now goes to the U.S. Senate for consideration.

Buchanan’s Emergency Citrus Disease Response Act will make it less costly for growers to replace trees damaged by citrus greening, an incurable bacterial disease that has infected 99 percent of Florida’s commercial citrus groves.

“Help for Florida orange farmers is a major step closer to arriving,” Buchanan said. “This bill will go a long way toward protecting the livelihoods of the 62,000 hardworking Floridians in our signature citrus industry. The story of American agriculture is one of resilience and hard work against tremendous odds. Citrus farmers are being hit hard and Congress needs to help them recover.”

The legislation provides tax incentives for farmers who cannot afford to replace trees affected by citrus greening. Under current law, growers are allowed an immediate deduction for the cost of replanting diseased trees, but the farmer must bear the full cost. Buchanan’s proposal would allow struggling farmers to use this deduction even if they bring in investors to raise capital for replanting costs, as long as the grower continues to own a major stake in the grove. It also extends this incentive to purchasers of land with diseased trees.

“I am a fourth generation grower and there is not a day that passes where I do not wonder about the future of the Florida citrus industry,” says Kyle Story, a citrus grower in Lake Wales, Florida. In order to pass the business on to my one year old son Merritt – the fifth generation – we are going to have to get more trees in the ground and that’s exactly what growers across Florida will do if the tax legislation is passed. I know a lot of people whose children are going to law school, business school or medical school to get away from citrus. I do not want my son to become a lawyer, I want him to become a citrus grower and I’m worried he won’t get that chance.”

Experts project a 26 percent decline in Florida’s signature orange crop for this upcoming season – the worst in over 50 years. The disease, also known as “yellow dragon disease,” arrived in Florida in 2005 and has since infected 99 percent of commercial citrus groves in the state – as well as 50 percent of the groves in Texas.

“The Senate now needs to act swiftly to get this bill to the president’s desk,” Buchanan said. He’s spoken with both of Florida’s U..S. Senators – Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Marco Rubio – to try to get the Senate to act as soon as next week on the bill.

Greening has begun to march across the country, and has been found in California, Louisiana, South Carolina and Georgia. Once infected, trees must be uprooted and destroyed. Replacing citrus trees is costly, but farmers have no choice. They must replant in order to earn a living. Growers face an average replacement cost of almost $2,000 per acre.

Citrus greening has caused more than $4 billion in economic damage while eliminating 8,000 jobs, according to a study done four years ago by the University of Florida. Florida Citrus Mutual, a citrus trade association, estimates that those numbers have doubled in the past four years.

Bill Nelson: NASA reauthorization bill requires feet on Mars

NASA will be required to commit to putting people on Mars in the latest U.S. Senate NASA reauthorization bill, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said Wednesday.

The Bill, S. 3346, was unanimously approved by the Senate Commerce Committee Wednesday authorizing NASA to spend $19.6 billion budgeted for the agency and setting a few new requirements, including that NASA commit to a human settlement on Mars.

That’s NASA’s plan already, though it’ll take 20 years.

Nelson, the Orlando Democrat who sponsored the bill, declared Wednesday that provision and others aim to set consistent policy at the agency through future presidential administrations.

“Fifty-five years after President Kennedy challenged the nation to put a man on the moon, the Senate is challenging NASA to put humans on Mars,” Nelson stated in a news release issued by his office. “The priorities that we’ve laid out for NASA in this bill marks the beginning of a new era of American spaceflight.”

Not mentioned in the bill nor Nelson’s comments is neither Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton nor Republican candidate Donald Trump has said much about space policy, nor made any definite commitments for the agency’s “Journey To Mars” program, which now is driving much of NASA’s agenda.

The bill requires NASA to develop and submit a plan to Congress on a strategic framework and critical decision plan, based on current technologies, to achieve the exploration goals and objectives of a human mission to Mars.

The committee’s passage of the bill Wednesday may be significant but getting the bill into law remains a challenge. No NASA authorization bill has passed both chambers and gotten signed into law since 2010.

That earlier bill, written by Nelson and Texas Republican U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, remains the agency’s blueprint for operations and planning, including authorization to build America’s biggest, most powerful rocket ever, the Space Launch System, and a space capsule called Orion, which would be used to take astronauts to Mars.

S. 3346 also requires continuation of the SLS and Orion programs, as well as the agency’s commitments to encourage the development of private space companies and programs, and to turn over much of the lower-Earth orbit business to them. That includes ferrying astronauts to the International Space Station, starting as early as next year.

U.S. Senate approves Everglades restoration plan

The U.S. Senate passed a wide-sweeping water bill Thursday that includes $1.9 billion for Everglades restoration projects.

The Senate approved the $10 billion water projects bill 95-3, with both Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio supporting the proposal. The measure authorizes 29 projects in 18 states for dredging, flood control, and other projects overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Central Everglades Planning Project was among the projects included in the bill. It includes a series of engineering projects designed to reduce discharges from Lake Okeechobee.

“This is a big win for Florida,” said Nelson in a statement Thursday. “We’ve seen firsthand the effect these toxic discharges can have on Florida’s waterways and the local communities that depend on them. Getting this project approved is a significant step forward in our ongoing efforts to restore the Everglades and provide folks some much-needed relief.”

Algae blooms clogged South Florida waterways earlier this year, prompting Gov. Rick Scott to declare a state of emergency in Martin, St. Lucie, Lee, and Palm Beach counties in June. The executive order allowed state and local governments to take action to slow the spread of algae blooms in the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries.

The blooms have largely been blamed on increased discharges from Lake Okeechobee into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers. The Army Corps of Engineers began releasing water earlier this year, after a wetter-than-normal January.

“Getting this Central Everglades Planning Project passed has been many years in the making, but it has taken on added urgency this year because of the toxic algae that is hurting our state,” said Rubio in a statement. “This Everglades project is one piece of the puzzle to dealing with the toxic algae, and we have more work to continue doing on that front.”

The water bill also included $322.7 million for Port Everglades dredging; $30.78 million for the Flagler County hurricane and storm damage reduction project; $113 million for the Picayune Strand restoration project; and authorizes the Army Corp of Engineers to conduct a feasibility study for the Daytona Beach flood protection project.

The bill now heads to the House for consideration.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Bill Nelson: Senate is close to another deal on Zika funding

Florida’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson declared Monday the Senate is close to another Zika deal, and expressed urgency that this one needs to go through cleanly.

“I am here to share with the Senate that I think we have finally found a path forward to fund the fight against Zika,” Nelson announced on the Senate floor this afternoon.

“The specifics are still being worked out,” Nelson said. “But it seems that there will be a deal and we will soon be able to move forward on doing what we tried to do last summer, which is fund … the Zika crisis.”

This deal, like the one overwhelmingly passed by the Senate in June, is for $1.1 billion in funding, according to his office. He said the effort aims to strip away highly partisan provisions that led to the last deal’s death in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“I can tell you that the people in Florida are pretty agitated,” Nelson told the Senate in his floor speech. “I’ve been there the last two weekends, and I can tell you, it’s the No. 1 issue on their minds. So, the fact that some of our Republican colleagues — particularly down in the House of Representatives — are willing to put on the Zika funding bill ridiculous riders and insist on that now for three votes. Let me take you back.”

Nelson said there are 756 confirmed cases of Zika virus in Florida including 84 pregnant women, who risk catastrophic brain birth defects in their children. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports 571 cases, including all 43 cases reported to have been contracted locally, most likely through bites by infected mosquitos in Miami.

The CDC also reports 15,600 confirmed cases in Puerto Rico, almost all of them locally contracted.

“The CDC is estimating that there are four people walking around with the virus for every one that we know,” Nelson said.

 

Who’s to blame for lack of Zika funding? 50% of Floridians say Congress

Ask Floridians who’s to blame for the lack of federal funding for Zika, and the answer is clear: Congress.

A new survey from Public Policy Polling found 50 percent of Floridians said Congress was to blame for the lack of funding to combat Zika. The findings were released just one day after the Senate rejected a $1.1 billion funding proposal.

Senate Democrats once again blocked the measure, which included provisions that would have restricted funding for Planned Parenthood. It marked the third time the Senate voted on — and rejected — the measure.

“Let’s stop this monkey business,” said Sen. Bill Nelson in a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday. “Let’s stop these political games. Let’s stop these political riders. Let’s do what the Senate did three months ago when it passed — bipartisan by 69 votes — $ 1.1 billion in emergency funding, and send it down to the House and tell the House to stop playing these games.”

Floridians appear to agree lawmakers should pass a clean Zika funding bill. The vast majority of respondents, 80 percent, said they supported passing a clean bill to fund efforts to combat the spread of Zika.

There were 713 cases of Zika in Florida as of Tuesday. According to the Florida Department of Health, 80 of those cases involved pregnant women and 56 cases were locally transmitted. The remainder of the cases were travel-related.

“My message to both parties and both chambers for this month is simple and straightforward: Zika is not a game. And if you think it is, then you should take your game somewhere else. This issue is about human beings, not political chess pieces, and we have a duty to solve it,” said Sen. Marco Rubio in a statement on the Senate floor Tuesday. “It won’t stop until Congress does what is necessary to respond to this public health crisis. Enough waiting. Enough games. Congress needs to act and it needs to act now.”

Public Policy Polling surveyed 744 likely voters between Sept. 4 and Sept. 6. The survey had a margin of error of 3.6 percent.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Miguel Diaz de la Portilla widens fundraising lead in SD 37

Miami Republican Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla built on his fundraising lead in the Senate District 37 race against Democratic Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez, with another $15,000 in contributions between Aug. 13 and Aug. 25.

The second-term senator took in 16 contributions over the two-week period, including three $1,000 checks from private prison company The GEO Group and its subsidiaries. To date, the campaign has raised $613,810.

The campaign also took in $19,500 in “in kind” support from the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, mainly for staffing, and didn’t spend any money during the reporting period, leaving Diaz de la Portilla with about $479,000 on hand.

Rodriguez raised $11,618 during the pre-primary reporting period, including $1,000 from service industry group SEIU Florida.

The income was offset by more than $60,000 in expenditures, $54,000 of which when to Chicago-based Snyder Pickerill Media Group for an ad buy. On Aug. 25, Rodriguez had about $187,000 in his campaign account.

According to district statistics, there are more registered Republicans than Democrats in SD 37, though President Barack Obama won re-election in the district by seven points. During the same cycle, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson won re-election by 13 points.

Neither Rodriguez nor Diaz de la Portillia faced a primary challenger for the seat, which covers the northernmost stretch of the Miami-Dade coastline.

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