Bill Nelson – Page 6 – Florida Politics

Rick Scott accepts trio of fall debates

Gov. Rick Scott is accepting invitations to participate in three fall debates leading up to the November election, in which he will try to oust incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.

Among the network hosts: CNN, Telemundo 51 in Miami, and Jacksonville’s WJXT Channel 4 (co-hosted by the Jacksonville University Public Policy Institute).

Dates and times of the debates are not yet available, though the Scott campaign said they’d take place in the fall — presumably well after the Aug. 28 primary. Neither candidate faces formidable opposition from within their parties. 

The news follows Scott’s campaign announcement that a fourth-consecutive ad attacking Nelson will air across Florida televisions this week. And a healthy bit of criticism of the sitting Senator accompanied news of the debates.

A Scott campaign spokeswoman said the campaign is “curious” to see how Nelson will defend his tenure.

“Bill Nelson continues to be all talk, no action on the issues, but Floridians won’t settle for smoke and mirrors in a debate setting,” said campaign press secretary Lauren Schenone.

A spokeswoman for Nelson’s campaign said they “look forward to debating Rick Scott many times if he will agree to show up and talk about the issues important to Floridians.” Nelson’s camp expects the incumbent to outshine Scott, who they claim “has spent eight years putting himself and his political career ahead of what’s best for Florida.”

Both camps are reviewing other invitations and expect to make similar announcements in the coming months.

Rick Scott rebuts charges that he’d favor removal of pre-existing conditions coverage

In a statement released by his U.S. Senate campaign, Republican Gov. Rick Scott insisted that he continues to support the requirement that health insurers not discriminate against people with pre-existing medical conditions.

The statement puts Scott at odds with the apparent strategy of President Donald Trump, whose Attorney General Jeff Sessions indicated in recent court filings that the U.S. Department of Justice will not defend the pre-existing conditions coverage guaranteed under federal law through the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

It also puts Scott at odds with Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who added Florida to a list of states suing in that particular federal court case to get the Affordable Care Act, including the pre-existing conditions provisions, overturned.

Last week Scott also stated he supported non-discriminatory coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, but he declined to discuss the lawsuit.

Democrats have been seeking to tie Scott to Trump. The latest attempt being opposition to the pre-existing conditions law, one of the most popular provisions of ObamaCare. But on Monday Scott delivered a statement refuting that he would support efforts to eliminate the provision, charging that Democrats were doing so falsely.

“My position has not changed – I do not agree with efforts to remove pre-existing conditions,” Scott stated in a news release issued Monday by his campaign. “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.”

Earlier this month, Sessions’ Department of Justice signaled that it would not defend the law’s pre-existing conditions provisions, though U.S. Department of Health and Human Services officials have said they consider pre-existing conditions to continue to be official federal policy.

Florida is among the 20 states that brought that lawsuit against Health and Human Services, and Florida continues to be a party seeking to terminate Obamacare through that suit.

Scott’s opponent in Florida’s U.S. Senate race, incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, and all 11 Florida Democrats in Congress sent a letter to Scott last week urging him to withdraw Florida from the lawsuit, and to support pre-existing conditions.

“Having failed multiple times to rip health coverage away through Congress, the Trump Administration is now attempting to use the court system to take the guarantee of health coverage away from 7.8 million Floridians with pre-existing conditions. This is wrong,” The Democrats’ letter states.

Nelson is meeting Monday morning with constituents with pre-existing conditions to talk about the potential policy change.

Scott’s campaign noted that Florida was brought into the federal lawsuit by Bondi who independently has such authority to do so, and was not brought by Scott.

Scott’s campaign also maintains that his position on pre-existing conditions has not changed, that he has consistently supported keeping them in any health care reform. What Scott seeks, the campaign outlined, is: removing Obamacare’s “excessive mandates and taxes;” allowing insurance to be sold across state lines; preserving the provisions requiring pre-existing conditions and that young adults may on their parents’ plans; and allowing families to buy the healthcare they want.

“It looks like Bill Nelson and his Democratic party loyalists new favorite talking point is an attempt to call out Gov. Rick Scott for not taking a position on preexisting conditions, while ignoring clear and documented evidence to the contrary,” Scott’s campaign stated in a news release.

David Bergstein, spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, argued that Scott’s long support for repeal of the Affordable Care Act and his support for last year’s Republican health care plan, which would have cut coverage for pre-existing conditions, bely his stated support for the provision.

“Rick Scott cannot escape his record just because it’s deeply unpopular with Florida voters,” Bergstein said in a written statement. “He spent years opposing protections for pre-existing conditions, and then in 2017 he bragged that he actually helped craft the GOP’s health care bill that would slash coverage for pre-existing conditions while giving himself a tax break.”

Jeff Greene: Father’s Day is a reminder of ‘inhumane’ immigration policies

Jeff Greene, a billionaire developer from Palm Beach and the newest Democratic option for Governor, is using the upcoming Father’s Day holiday to call for an end to the Donald Trump administration’s practice of separating migrant children from their parents at the border.

In a statement Saturday, Greene said the policies are “inhumane.” He framed that conclusion as one arrived at while reflecting on paternity.

Greene, who is married with three children, called his family “the greatest gifts I have ever received.” That acknowledgment, he said, brings him to realize a “stark contrast between my family’s own joy and the indescribable heartache being felt by those families on our country’s southern border.”

Recently published national stories focused largely on how frequently children are separated from adults near the border under the zero-tolerance, hardline immigration policy of detaining immigrants ahead of scheduled court dates. Some news outlets reported that close to 2,000 children were separated from adults over a six-week period, those figures are based on data from the Department of Homeland Security.

“No matter where you are from, the language you speak, religion you practice, or the color of your skin, families are families and people are people — yet they are not being treated as such,” Greene said. “Under the guise of being tough, the Trump administration has proven to be despicable, heartless, and inhumane.”  

Greene said “respect” is the “backbone of our United States,” and the immigration practices at the border are “spineless.”

In being critical of Trump-backed decisions, the newly minted candidate is distancing himself from the President, whose Mar-a-Lago getaway is just doors away from Greene’s Palm Beach residence.

Greene also is staking claim to a viewpoint on immigration that is primed to be polarizing for candidates who make it to November. On the Republican side of the gubernatorial race, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam released an ad this week in which a popular Republican sheriff extols his faith in Putnam’s ability to crackdown on immigration. But Putnam’s primary opponent, Congressman Ron DeSantis, has nicknamed the Commissioner “Amnesty Adam.”  

Meanwhile, other Democrats in the Governor’s race undoubtedly would align with Greene’s comments. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum even tweeted an almost identical sentiment on Saturday.

But to Greene, the issue should transcend party lines: “Democrats or Republicans, we are all Americans — and we cannot stand for this. I will not be silent, and neither should you. As Governor, I will do everything in my power to end reprehensible policies such as these,” he said.

And in Florida, as Greene suggests, the stories of immigrant children have resonated with politicians across the aisle. Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who’s competing against incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson for the U.S. Senate seat on the ballot, told Florida Politics’ A.G. Gancarski on Friday that “Your heart goes out to these families that are struggling with these issues. It shows you how messed up our immigration policy is, that these things are happening.”

Rick Scott says tent cities housing immigrant children are a ‘disturbing’ byproduct of ‘messed-up immigration system’

In Jacksonville Friday to locally promote his endorsements from 55 Florida Sheriffs, rolled out days before in media release form, U.S. Senate candidate Gov. Rick Scott was compelled to address other issues as well related to the ongoing quest by his “partner in the White House,” Donald J. Trump, to “Make America Great Again.”

Among this week’s news items: the President’s decision to warehouse immigrant children in a Walmart, even as he mulls building a Joe Arpaio-style tent city for overflow, just in time for the heart of Texas summer; and the President’s decision to salute a North Korean soldier, a move made all the more ironic by his deeming the American free press “Our Country’s biggest enemy.”

Since Trump’s ascension, Scott (whose New Republican Super PAC was originally set up to support Trump before being repurposed to support the Governor’s Senate run) has been peppered (often by this reporter) with questions about the President’s latest moves.

Friday was no different.

When asked about migrant kids behind housed in tent cities, and whether he supported the policy, Scott noted the practice was “disturbing,” but emblematic of larger issues.

“I want to make sure everybody who comes to this country is treated with respect, and treated well,” Scott said.

“Your heart goes out to these families that are struggling with these issues. It shows you how messed up our immigration policy is, that these things are happening,” Scott added.

“Congress has got to do their job. Got to come up with an immigration policy that works. We have to secure our borders. We have to [create] a visa program that works, we have to take care of the DACA kids. We have to come up with something that actually works,” Scott said.

Critics of the warehousing of migrant children say the policy is alien to Democratic traditions. In that context, and in light of the Pyongyang pivot from the White House, we asked Scott if America was moving away from its traditional role.

“I clearly believe in democracy. I fought, as Governor, against what the Castro brothers have done. The problems they’re creating in Nicaragua and Venezuela. We’ve got to fight for democracy all around the world … for human rights all around the world. So I’m going to continue to fight for democracy, for liberty, for peace, human rights worldwide,” Scott said.

Florida Democratic Party spokesman Nate Evans, predictably, was not sold: “Scott’s comments today further highlight his and his close ally Donald Trump’s horrible and inhumane records on immigration. From calling DACA illegal, to advocating for mass deportations, Scott has built his political career advocating for extreme immigration policies. No matter what he says, Scott’s actions speak for themselves.”

Val Demings leads call to end transfers of customs agents from Orlando, Port Canaveral

A trio of Orlando-area Democratic members of Congress, joined by Florida’s two U.S. Senators, is calling on the United States Customs and Border Protection agency to suspend proposed transfers of safety officers out of Port Canaveral and Orlando International Airport.

Democratic U.S. Reps. Val Demings, Darren Soto and Stephanie Murphy, along with Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio are opposing to a Customs and Border Patrol initiative to rotate customs inspections officers from airports and other ports to serve temporary shifts along the United States-Mexico border. The transferred officers are not replaced on the lines in their home ports, leaving the staffing there short-handed for periods of time.

The group sent a letter Wednesday to newly confirmed U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan, arguing that the airport and seaport customs inspectors were critical to public safety. They cited numerous incidents when inspectors have averted potential terrorist actions and seized countless amounts of illegal drugs and other contraband.

“The treats at our nation’s ports of entry are real, and, if carried out, could have permanent devastating effects on our nation and cities like Orlando,” they wrote. “Therefore we encourage your agency to prioritize and fulfill the scientifically based CFP officer working model for our nation’s ports of entry.”

Demings, Soto and Murphy first decried the program in January after Orlando International Airport officials called for help with overburdened customs stations at the airport’s international gates. In February Demings and Murphy co-sponsored a bill that would increase customs staffing levels at airports, including Orlando. House Resolution 4940, the Border and Port Security Act got three committee referrals, including the House Homeland Security Committee, but has not yet been heard anywhere.

In May, Rubio called for an additional 500 customs officers to help address staffing shortages at many of Florida’s airports and seaports.

“Orlando International Airport is one of the nation’s best ports of entry, and Orlando is the number one visitor destination in the U.S. As we continue to grow, it’s vital that we maintain safety staffing to meet increased passenger volume,” Demings stated in a news release issued Thursday by her office. “I urge Customs and Border Protection to once again reverse this ill-considered move and ensure that Central Florida continues to have the level of staffing necessary to ensure speedy travel and necessary security for all passengers.”

Airport officials have contended that, even without the rotations of agents and inspectors to the southwest border, the Orlando airport already was suffering from under-staffing by Customs and Border Patrol. They reported that from 2009 to 2016, the number of international passengers arriving at Orlando International Airport grew by 89 percent, from 1.49 million to 2.83 million.

However, over the same period, Customs and Border Protection Officer staffing levels have remained flat, the GOAA officials in a letter sent to area lawmakers, urging their help.

The lawmakers’ letter noted that Port Canaveral also is being squeezed.

In 2017, the seaport, which mostly handles cruise traffic, welcomed 4.5 million passengers, a 7 percent jump from the previous year, while customs inspectors staffing decreased, “resulting in significant bottlenecks.”

“Representatives Demings, Soto, and I have consistently told CBP that transferring officers from Orlando International Airport to the Southwest border is a mistake,” Murphy said in the release. “These officers are needed at the airport to keep the public safe and the economy moving. As Orlando’s representatives in Congress, we will continue to do everything possible to ensure Orlando International is fully staffed given that the airport is the busiest in the state and about to enter peak travel season.”

Murphy first got involved early on, after GOAA officials declared the program would “seriously diminish security” at the airport.

“We’ve seen overwhelming support for the CBP officers at OIA from our community, including repeated pleas from the Central Florida congressional delegation to at-minimum halt transfers,” Soto stated in the release. Each and every member of the CBP team is valued and desperately needed for the increasing demands of our area’s busy ports of entry. Their work is critical for passenger safety and smooth-running operations. We look forward to working with Commissioner McAleenan and continue supporting our CBP officers.”

Police chiefs back Rick Scott while firefighters back Bill Nelson

In dueling endorsements that may illustrate their bases among executives and rank-and-file, the U.S. Senate campaign of Republican Gov. Rick Scott announced the endorsement of the Florida Police Chiefs Association while the re-election campaign of Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson touted the backing of the state firefighters union.

On Thursday Scott’s campaign declared that this is the first time the Florida Police Chiefs Association, which includes more than 900 top law enforcement executives, has endorsed in a federal or U.S. Senate race.

Also on Thursday Nelson’s campaign declared that the Florida Professional Firefighters representing more than 25,000 firefighters and emergency medical services responders, endorsed him in part because of Scott’s opposition to a firefighters’ pay raise in 2015.

In a news release issued by Scott’s campaign, Amy Mercer, executive director of the Florida Police Chiefs Association, said, “Gov. Rick Scott is a true friend and partner to law enforcement across the state and it is an honor to offer our endorsement of his bid for the U.S. Senate. Today’s endorsement is a historic milestone for the Florida Police Chiefs Association as the first endorsement of a candidate for U.S. Senate. Gov. Scott has demonstrated leadership in the face of immense challenges over the past seven and a half years, and unlike many career politicians in Washington, when Governor Scott makes a commitment, he follows through. Gov. Scott has been a champion for public safety and a great friend to the law enforcement community, and we look forward to continuing to work with him to protect our families and communities once he is a member of the U.S. Senate.”

In a news release issued by Nelson’s campaign, James Tolley, president of the Florida Professional Firefighters said, “For those who are willing to risk their lives every day to protect millions of Floridians, it’s so important to have the support of leaders we know will support us, our work, our benefits and our families and Senator Nelson has been a tremendous advocate for Florida’s firefighters. Sen. Nelson has been steadfast in his support of firefighters and first responders, working to protect our health care and benefits. Senator Nelson led the fight in Congress to secure funding for training and vital equipment and technology to keep our firefighters and first responders safe on the job. When our benefits have been under attack, we know Sen. Nelson will always have our back in fighting for us and the support we need to do our jobs.”

Firefighters’ group has Bill Nelson’s back

Sen. Bill Nelson kicked off Thursday with an endorsement from Florida Professional Firefighters. And by the end of the day, Gov. Rick Scott had an energetic response.

The group, which represents over 25,000 firefighters and EMS personnel across Florida, endorsed the incumbent Democrat as a staunch defender of firefighters and first responders.

“For those who are willing to risk their lives every day to protect millions of Floridians, it’s so important to have the support of leaders we know will support us, our work, our benefits and our families and Sen. Nelson has been a tremendous advocate for Florida’s firefighters,” said James Tolley, president of Florida Professional Firefighters.

“Sen. Nelson has been steadfast in his support of firefighters and first responders, working to protect our health care and benefits. Sen. Nelson led the fight in Congress to secure funding for training and vital equipment and technology to keep our firefighters and first responders safe on the job. When our benefits have been under attack,” Tolley added, “we know Sen. Nelson will always have our back in fighting for us and the support we need to do our jobs.”

Nelson said it was an “absolute honor to receive the support of Florida’s firefighters and first responders — the men and women who risk their lives to protect Floridians every single day.”

“These public servants have dedicated their lives to keep our communities safe, and we owe it to our first responders, their families and their communities to ensure they have the equipment and technology to perform their jobs and for us to do everything in our power to advocate for their health care, pensions and other benefits,” Nelson added.

Expect the Nelson campaign to contrast Nelson’s record to that of Gov. Rick Scott.

The media release asserts that Gov. Scott “personally killed a $2,000 pay raise for underpaid state firefighters who earn an average salary of $27,475 a year.”

The Scott campaign, meanwhile, countered with reiterations of claims that Nelson was a career politician.

“As usual, Bill Nelson is hoping that Floridians will only pay attention to what he has to say, and not what he has actually done – which is vote time and time again in favor of raising his own salary so he can collect more than $4 million from hardworking taxpayers. Meanwhile, Governor Scott has secured important investments and legislation that actually make a difference in ensuring law enforcement officers and teachers have the resources they need to succeed. While Nelson continues to do everything he can to protect his job, Governor Scott will continue to fight for the jobs of Florida families,” asserted Lauren Schenone, Scott for Florida Press Secretary.

Rick Scott treads carefully about Obamacare lawsuit

Despite being a fierce critic of the Affordable Care Act, Florida Gov. Rick Scott isn’t saying where he stands on the Donald Trump administration’s refusal to defend the federal law against the latest legal challenge brought by 20 Republican-led states, including Florida.

Scott on Wednesday avoided directly discussing the litigation, which, if successful, could dismantle changes to how insurance is bought and sold in the state, including eliminating protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

“I believe that if you have a pre-existing condition, you need to still be able to get health care. So it’s very important to me,” Scott, who is running for U.S. Senate, said when asked about the litigation. “I believe everybody ought to be able to get health care insurance.”

Scott, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and other Republican leaders have consistently opposed the sweeping health care law — often referred to as Obamacare — that has helped lower the percentage of uninsured citizens in the state and nation.

Florida’s uninsured rate in 2013, the year before Obamacare plans became available, was 20 percent and one of the highest in the nation. In 2016, the rate was 12.5 percent.

Florida also has consistently led the nation in the number of people who enroll in the federal health-insurance exchange under the law. Last year, more than 1.7 million Floridians entered the marketplace to buy a plan. The vast majority, more than 90 percent, received federal financial help to reduce their monthly premiums.

Longtime Florida Republican political consultant Mac Stipanovich said Scott is carefully choosing his positions so he doesn’t alienate Trump supporters while trying to defeat Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in the fall.

“You have to be careful about criticizing Trump if you want to continue to enjoy the unreserved support from the Trump base,” Stipanovich told The News Service of Florida.

Bondi signed on this year to the lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act. The litigation gained new urgency last week after the Trump administration said it would not defend key portions of the law.

Whitney Ray, a spokesman for Bondi, said the attorney general believes people with pre-existing conditions should have access to coverage.

“But Congress must act in accordance with the U.S. Constitution when addressing the issue,” Ray said in a written statement.

If the suit is successful, it would do away with key parts of the law that require insurance companies to sell health policies to people regardless of pre-existing conditions and prevents charging more because of the conditions. The provisions benefit people who aren’t covered by employer-based plans or Medicaid.

Except for a brief period when Scott supported an expansion of Medicaid, Stipanovich said the governor “has been consistently opposed” to the Affordable Care Act or policies like it.

“I think that is something he cannot deny. And I’m not sure he would deny. Whether it turns out to be important in November or not as opposed to offshore drilling or gun control or immigration is a totally different issue,” Stipanovich said.

Florida Democrats are aggressively trying to make Scott’s opposition to the Affordable Care Act an issue. Democrats in the state’s congressional delegation sent a letter Wednesday to Scott calling on the state to immediately withdraw from the lawsuit, which is led by Texas.

“If successful, this dangerous lawsuit that you and Attorney General Bondi have joined will harm roughly 130 million Americans, including 7.8 million Floridians, who have a pre-existing condition,” the Democratic lawmakers wrote. “And it will take us back to a time when health insurers oftentimes outright rejected, or offered severely limited coverage to, Americans with such conditions.”

Democrats also have launched what they are calling “The Time is Now: Medicaid Expansion Tour” to promote Medicaid expansion in the state. The tour, which started in Gainesville, will highlight how Scott flipped his position on Medicaid.

Scott initially ran for governor in 2010 on an anti-Obamacare platform but said in 2013 he supported a three-year Medicaid expansion and described it as a “compassionate, common-sense step forward.”

During his campaign for re-election in 2014, Scott reiterated his support for the expansion, which was available to all states under the Affordable Care Act. After getting re-elected, though, Scott reversed his position and adamantly fought against efforts by the Florida Senate to expand Medicaid in 2015. The proposed expansion died in the Legislature.

A group called Floridians for a Fair Shake, held a press conference this week to highlight the litigation against the Affordable Care Act because of the potential impact it would have on people with pre-existing conditions. Stephen Gaskill, the group’s communications director, called pre-existing condition protections the most “compelling part of health care reform overall.”

Prior to the federal law, insurance companies could charge higher premiums based on pre-existing conditions or the use of health care services. The federal law also established adjusted community rating, which barred insurers from raising premiums based on health status, medical claims or gender, among other things.

While Scott did not directly address the Trump administration’s actions, he briefly outlined changes he thinks could lower health-insurance costs.

Scott said the changes should be incremental but said he supports “allowing more competition (among insurers), we gotta let people buy the insurance that fits for their family and we’ve got to reward people for taking care of themselves.”

The Keiser Bunch - Belinda Keiser

FMA slams ‘blue wave’ Belinda Keiser in new ad

A political committee tied to the Florida Medical Association released a new ad Wednesday hammering Belinda Keiser, who is running as a Republican in the special election for Senate District 25.

FMA is backing Stuart Republican Rep. Gayle Harrell in the SD 25 race, which is opening up this year due to the early exit of Senate President Joe Negron.

“The Keiser Bunch,” as the title hints, borrows heavily from the intro to Sherwood Schwartz’s famous 1970s sitcom to cast Keiser as a faux Republican, still in league with the Democrats she’s been donating to for decades.

Keiser takes center square in the Better Florida Fund Corp ad while Democrats Hillary Clinton, Charlie Crist, Bob Graham, Al Gore, Alcee Hastings, Buddy MacKay, Bill Nelson and Debbie Wasserman Shultz fill out the remainder of the grid.

Those eight Democrats got a spot in The Keiser Bunch because they’re among the better-known Democrats who have received campaign contributions from Keiser, but that list isn’t exhaustive.

“Here’s the story of Belinda Keiser moving from Parkland to run as a Republican for Senate. She’s donated thousands to Democrats like ‘crooked Hillary,’ Al Gore, Debbie Wasserman Shultz and not one dime to President [Donald] Trump. And she’s even run for office as a Democrat,” the ad narrator states.

The ad then pans over a spreadsheet showing dozens of donations Keiser made to Democratic politicians over the years. Federal candidates alone have received $141,667 from the Keiser University chancellor, add in state-level candidates and the Florida Democratic Party and that figure approaches nearly $200,000 without adding in the funds she used to boost her failed campaign as a Democrat for state House.

Those aren’t all old contribs, either — just six months ago she cut a $1,000 check to Plantation Sen. Lauren Book, and in July 2017 Crist, now a Congressman, received a $2,500 check.

“Blue wave Belinda has paid her dues to the left, but this Broward County Democrat won’t fool us. Vote no on ‘blue wave’ Belinda Keiser,” the ad concludes.

Keiser’s palatial Parkland home is 80 miles away from the southern border of SD 25, which covers all of St. Lucie and Martin counties, along with a small portion of Palm Beach County. Despite the long trek, she filed for the seat using the address of Keiser University’s St. Lucie campus shortly after Negron’s announcement.

Since then she’s attempted to paint herself as a loyal Trump supporter who has been a member of the Republican Party since the turn of the century, though a cursory search of her own statements shows she joined the GOP no earlier than 2007.

The ad is below.

New Rick Scott ad compares Bill Nelson to Ford Pinto

The Ford Pinto, a tragicomic compact car that came out of Detroit in the 1970s, was known for a design flaw: its rear-mounted gas tank made the car prone to explosion when rear-ended.

Despite these issues, the car was still the most popular American compact even in 1978.

A new ad from the Senate campaign of Gov. Rick Scott invokes the dread image of the Pinto, noting that forty years ago, as the car still filled lots from coast to coast, current Sen. Bill Nelson was just entering Congress.

Forty years later, the ad posits, most Pintos are rusting away in junkyards … but Nelson is still in D.C., a member of the Senate.

The juxtaposition of the bygone commuter car and the long-serving U.S. Senator is at the heart of Scott’s latest ad, “Pinto,” which uses a horn-driven, funkafied backing track to drive home a message.

“Forty years later, a lot of things changed, but Bill Nelson is still in Washington, still collecting a paycheck,” the narrator intones.

“And besides reading speeches, what has Nelson done all those years? 349 times, he’s voted for higher taxes. Isn’t a half century in Washington enough?”

The ad will air statewide, with $2.7 million behind the buy.

Scott has already spent $17 million on anti-Nelson ads this cycle.

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