Bill Nelson – Page 7 – Florida Politics

New Rick Scott ad seeks to paint Bill Nelson as ‘party line’

A new television commercial being launched by Gov. Rick Scott‘s Republican U.S. Senate campaign features people complaining that incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson is a “party line voter.”

The 30-second spot features Orlando Republican Puerto Rico activist Dennis Freytes and others characterizing the senator as someone who does not vote independently in the U.S. Senate, and is perhaps somehow tied to the wishes of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

“Bill Nelson just votes the party line,” Freytes says in the commercial. “That’s what’s wrong with our broken Congress. Everybody is a party-line voter and Bill Nelson is one of those.”

Others in the commercial say Nelson “no longer thinks and acts” independently, and speculate “I think Nancy Pelosi is a huge influence on the Democratic Party and Bill Nelson,” and “I believe Bill Nelson is way too partisan, and it’s time for him to come home.”

Carlie Waibel, Nelson for Senate spokeswoman responded, “For eight years, Rick Scott ran a one-party rule state and now, he’s doing and saying anything to be part of the one-party rule in Washington. Bill Nelson has a long record of working across the aisle and has been recognized for it, including passing legislation to keep oil rigs off Florida’s coast, bringing back our space program and working to restore the Everglades.”

The commercial was first reported on this morning on by the Tampa Bay Times, which pointed out that Nelson has one of the more moderate voting histories in the Senate, and has famously teamed with Florida’s Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio so closely and on so many occasions that Rubio’s backing of Scott has been called into question.

Rick Scott’s Spanish commercial pushes his Puerto Rico cred

Republican Gov. Rick Scott‘s U.S. Senate campaign is launching a new Spanish-language commercial touting his efforts on behalf of Puerto Rico and providing praise for him from Puerto Rican Floridians.

The 30-second spot,  “Presente,” is running on Spanish TV stations in Tampa and Orlando as part of what the campaign describes as a “major ad purchase,” according to a news release.

Translated to English, the praise Scott receives includes Jeannie Calderin stating, “I’m supporting Gov. Rick Scott because the truth is that when Puerto Ricans needed the help, he was the first to be there…. Rick Scott has been there. He has been present. He has helped. And what he said he would do, he has done.”

Kelvin Valle says, translated to English, “As a veteran, I’m very grateful to Rick Scott. He has created jobs and he’s put people back into the labor force, and that’s why I support him…. Rick Scott will fight for us in the Senate.”

Their comments come with interspersed video shots of them speaking and Scott appearing at various events with Florida’s Puerto Rican community, including the Puerto Rican parade in Orlando two weeks ago, and of various factory and distribution center scenes.

Scott faces Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson this year.

Bill Nelson, Democrats blast proposed Medicaid cuts

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Democratic U.S. House members Thursday called for the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to reject a move by Gov. Rick Scott’s administration to cut $98 million by trimming the length of time people have to apply for the Medicaid program.

“I rise here today because the state of Florida has again proposed to harm thousands of seniors and folks with disabilities who rely on Medicaid for their health care,” Nelson, a Democrat who faces an election challenge this year from Scott, said on the Senate floor.

Nelson, along with U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor and 10 other Democratic members of Florida’s congressional delegation sent a letter to CMS Director Seema Verma urging her to reject a proposed amendment to a state Medicaid “waiver” that would exempt Florida from a federal requirement that gives people up to 90 days following a health problem to apply for Medicaid coverage.

The Scott administration proposed — and the Republican-led Legislature agreed — to require people to apply for Medicaid during the same month of the health event.

“Retroactive eligibility is designed to protect Medicaid beneficiaries — including seniors, pregnant women, individuals with disabilities, and parents — and their families from the steep costs of medical services and long-term care. Importantly, this protection was also designed to minimize uncompensated care costs faced by hospitals and other health care providers who take care of our neighbors and are already challenged by the state’s low reimbursement rates,” the letter said.

The state Agency for Health Care Administration estimates that 39,000 people could be impacted by the change. Hospitals and nursing homes, though, say the numbers could be much higher.

The change has become a flashpoint between Democrats and Scott.

“It is our duty to ensure eligible individuals have access to care without going into debt to obtain it, which is why retroactive eligibility is so vital. This proposal would not only wipe out many families’ pocketbooks, but it would also place a financial burden on health care providers, the state and indeed all Florida taxpayers through increased uncompensated care costs,” the letter said. “We fail to see how this proposal will ‘enhance fiscal predictability’ as the state claims when it will increase costs across the board.”

But Mallory McManus, a spokeswoman for the Agency for Health Care Administration, issued a statement Thursday saying it is “categorically false to assert that this change impacts the care” provided to Medicaid beneficiaries.

“Florida continues to focus on quickly enrolling Florida’s most vulnerable people including children, frail elders, those with disabilities and pregnant women,” the statement said. “By enrolling individuals quickly, you ensure better-coordinated fully integrated care, as well as access to preventative services.”

New poll shows Rick Scott with four-point lead over Bill Nelson

A new poll from Florida Atlantic University shows Gov. Rick Scott with a four-point lead over incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.

Scott, a Naples Republican, earns 44 percent of support from registered voters, with Nelson sitting at 40 percent. Another 16 percent say they’re undecided.

The poll was conducted by Florida Atlantic University’s Business and Economics Polling Initiative from May 4-7 and surveyed one thousand registered voters in Florida.

That’s a turnaround from the initiative’s previous poll, released in late February, when Nelson was leading 40-38 percent. However, that poll was conducted before Scott formally entered the U.S. Senate race.

The most recent poll paints a better picture for Nelson when looking at likely voters rather than registered voters. Among likely voters, the race is neck-and-neck, with Nelson and Scott tied at 45 percent support and the remaining ten percent still undecided.

While the Polling Initiative currently shows Scott at least tied with Nelson, the RealClearPolitics polling average has Nelson up four points.

And with six months to go until Election Day, a lot can change, especially with the amount of money expected to be poured into the high-profile contest.

Kevin Wagner, a research fellow at the Polling Initiative and a professor of political science at FAU, summed up the results by saying, “The Senate race in Florida continues to be very close and is going to be one of the most expensive and competitive contests in the nation.”

Scott officially announced his run for the Senate last month. He’s unable to run for another term as governor due to term limits. Nelson has represented Florida in the U.S. Senate since 2000.

Belinda Keiser

Belinda Keiser’s Democratic donations may trouble SD 25 Republican voters

Keiser University Vice Chancellor Belinda Keiser announced her bid for Senate District 25 Tuesday, but her past political contributions to Democrats should raise some questions about her attractiveness to Republican primary voters.

SD 25, held by exiting Senate President Joe Negron, covers St. Lucie and Martin counties as well as a piece of northern inland Palm Beach County.

Keiser University’s home base is also in Fort Lauderdale, though it has campuses all over the state, so a donation or two to Democrats in the largely blue South Florida county could be spun by Keiser as being pragmatic — in the age of Donald Trump, she may well say it’s evidence that “our system is broken” and, as a businesswoman, she had to do it.

That might serve as adequate cover for her donation to U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, who represents Keiser’s Parkland home in Congress. Ditto for her contribs to CD 20 U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, whose district includes Keiser University’s main campus, or Debbie Wasserman Shultz, who represents neighboring CD 23.

That same logic could apply to the checks she wrote former U.S. Reps. Peter Deutsch, Ron Klein and Robert Wexler, but at that point the “had-to-do-it” column is overfilled to the point of bursting.

Assuming Republican voters can look past those, which is a big ask, there’s a veritable host of candidates Keiser has supported that simply won’t be glossed over.

Keiser has cut checks to the failed presidential campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Al Gore, to St. Petersburg U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and to U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. To top it all off, she’s donated to the Democratic National Committee and former California U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer.

Sure, Charlie was a Republican once. And yes, he’s one of the Sunshine State’s most likable pols — he could teach a masterclass in retail politics. But that kind of logic won’t play well among Rick Scott voters. Same goes for Nelson. It doesn’t matter that SD 25 voters re-elected him by 10 points in 2012 — Keiser’s task of making them remember that is doomed in an election year where Nelson is standing in the way of a Scott Senate campaign.

And those Clinton and Gore donations. Yeesh. That’s going to be a hard one to sell in a district that voted overwhelmingly for Trump.

Then there’s the donations to Boxer and the DNC. There is simply no way to sidestep those.

A Republican who gives to their Democratic congressman? Fine. No GOP candidate is going to take down Deutch, anyway. A Republican who prefers Clinton to Trump? Not the best look in a primary campaign, but she’s definitely not alone on that one.

But in what world is someone who cuts checks to the DNC and boosts the campaign accounts of out-of-state Democrats considered anything other than a Democratic fundraiser? Not this one.

Good luck, Belinda. You’ll need it.

Senate Ethics complaint filed against Bill Nelson

The race for Senate continues to heat up between Gov. Rick Scott and Sen. Bill Nelson, with the Democratic incumbent being dinged with an Ethics Complaint this week that Nelson’s team is calling a “political stunt.”

Former Republican Party of Florida Chair Leslie Dougher, a Scott ally, charged that during an Apr. 3 event, Nelson used governmental funds for political activities, promoting an appearance in a government building for a political purpose.

The event in question, per Dougher’s complaint: a “meet and greet” in Port St. Joe at the Board of County Commissioners building, “an illegal campaign event on government property.”

Dougher contends that the Gulf County Democrats promoted this as a “political event,” even as the official position for the board was to “discuss issues of local importance.”

Dougher’s complaint also notes that a tracker was removed for trying to film the event; said tracker was told that only “legitimate press” could film the event, held in a public building.

Dougher cites an “appearance of impropriety” as a threshold bearing this complaint.

Nelson’s Senate comms director Ryan Brown was terse in reaction.

“This is the definition of a political stunt,” Brown said.

FEMA extends Puerto Rican transitional housing to June 30

Puerto Rican evacuees from Hurricane Maria’s wrath last fall have been granted another six weeks of federal assistance to live in emergency motel shelters in Florida, U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy announced Thursday.

The latest extension, through June 30 according to social media posts Thursday afternoon from the Winter Park Democrat, means that families who migrated from the island to Florida, or to other states, will have federal assistance to stay long enough for their children to complete the school year.

Gov. Rick Scott also applauded the extension Thursday afternoon.

The extension also means the families living in motels and paying their rents with Federal Emergency Management Agency vouchers, because there is little  available affordable housing, will not face a last-day crisis, at least not any time soon. That happened on April 20 when FEMA agreed to extend the program through May 14 on the very day that the previous extension was set to expire. Hundreds of families were reportedly packed up and being told to leave, with no place to go, on the day the extension was approved.

On April 18 Murphy, U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, four other members of Congress from Florida, Democrat Darren Soto of Orlando, Republican Carlos Curbelo of Kendall, Democrat Kathy Castor of Tampa, and Republican Dennis Ross of Lakeland, as well as U.S. Rep. Jenniffer González-Colón of Puerto Rico, all signed a letter urging FEMA to extend the program through June.

They also urged Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló to seek the extension. FEMA could not extend the program without a formal request from the governor of the area affected, Puerto Rico.

On April 24, Rosselló told FloridaPolitics he would ask FEMA to extend the program through June, in part so that Puerto Rican migrant families with children could at least get through the school year.

“Pleased to report that FEMA will be extending the Transitional Shelter Assistance program for displaced Puerto Rican families in Florida and other states through June 30,” Murphy posted on Facebook Thursday afternoon. “This will give families more time to find permanent housing and won’t result in children being evicted during the school year. Another successful bipartisan effort! Thank you to Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello for seeking the extension.”

Said Scott, in a press release: “Florida has done everything possible to help our neighbors in Puerto Rico with their continued recovery from Hurricane Maria. Over the past seven months since Maria made landfall, we have remained in constant communication with Governor Ricardo Rosselló and his leadership team and I have made five trips to Puerto Rico to offer our full assistance and guidance. Florida remains the only state with a Host-State Agreement with FEMA to help families from Puerto Rico.

“I also recently spoke with FEMA Administrator Brock Long about our joint efforts to make sure we are doing everything possible to help those who evacuated here. This includes keeping the FEMA case managers I requested on the ground across our state to offer assistance. I’m glad to hear that FEMA is once again extending Transitional Sheltering Assistance (TSA) for the many families from Puerto Rico in the Sunshine State and we continue to stand ready to assist in any way possible,” Scott added.


Rick Scott going to Jerusalem for embassy opening

Gov. Rick Scott will travel to Israel this month for the controversial opening of the United States embassy in Jerusalem.

Scott’s office said Wednesday he will attend the May 14 opening, with more details to be announced soon.

The trip comes as Scott runs for a U.S. Senate seat against Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson.

The embassy opening will coincide with Israel’s 70th anniversary, according to the U.S. Department of State.

Of whiskey, magazines, and the Republicans’ new targeting tools

Because modern elections, like many 21st century business transactions, now may be won in part by the computer geeks with the biggest servers, the Republican National Committee says it likes its chances in Florida.

The RNC’s operations already are in major position in Florida, which, as always, and particularly this year, is the state both parties see as a marquee battleground. The RNC field operations in Florida now boast 67 staff members and 1,068 trained volunteers the RNC calls “fellows,” organizing ground operations for this year’s elections.

But their key weapon, the one the RNC believes sets the Republican effort apart, starts in those servers, with billions of bits of data on Florida voters, acquired from consumer “Big Data” companies, voting records, and sometimes seemingly irrelevant public opinion surveys.

The thinking is, with information about someone’s consumer and social preferences, what children’s clothes they buy, what magazines they subscribe to, what whiskey they prefer, what they think about banks or baseball or beaches, that creates statistical models that geeks can use to both predict and find the key factors to influence whether and how that person is likely to vote. With internet reading and shopping – even just internet perusing and window shopping – such data now floods into Big Data servers.

“We’ve been working on this since 2014 and making improvements on it all the time,” said Brian Parnitzke, the RNC’s national turnout and targeting director. He, with other RNC staff members, laid out some of the RNC’s operation in a chat in Orlando with FloridaPolitics.

This is nothing new. Businesses have been fine-tuning marketing for decades based on Big Data insights and assumptions, and it’s now omni-present in any big-time marketing effort. Obama For America introduced it to politics in a big way in President Barack Obama‘s two elections. And the RNC was caught off guard and marveled at the sophistication of the Obama operations, staff members said.

So, after 2012 the Republicans set out to emulate it, and now claim their Big Data operations surpasses what Obama had, or anything the Democratic National Party could possibly have. Obama kept his proprietary, not sharing it with the DNC, leaving the national Democrats to have to start over, according to the Republicans.

The Republicans say they have invested $200 million in their Big Data operation and the efforts to use the voter targeting assessments in field operations.

They claim to have 3,100 points of data on every Florida voter, each point a chance to cross-compare values and habits, to come up with probabilities on actions, based on statistical models.

“We have this database. I believe it is the most powerful database in politics in the world,” Parnitzke said.

And what about the potential of a “blue wave?”

“It’s all baked in,” Parnitzke said.

Their counterparts at the Democratic National Committee did not reply to FloridaPolitics’ inquiry for comment or response to the RNC’s claims or on how the DNC operations might compare.

With the data, the RNC and the Republican Party of Florida are geographically carving out populations of targeted adults whom the data say are likely reachable swing voters. And, equally importantly, the data suggest on which issues they swing. That’s where the trained “fellows” come in. They’ll be calling, knowing a potentially-disturbing amount about the lifestyles and values of the individual voters.

With almost all recent big elections in Florida having been decided by a point or two, it doesn’t take much mobilization to change outcomes, though the Republicans are quick to point out the old saw: “This is just a tool; candidates and campaigns matter.”

Russell Peck, the RNC’s southeast regional political director, said that the RNC is sharing its Big Data and its findings on Florida voters, for free, with the Republican Party of Florida and with any Republican campaigns, at all levels.

Two issues have emerged from the data in the Florida U.S. Senate race, and both are seen showing up as early themes of Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s U.S. Senate campaign. First, that 27 percent of swing voters don’t really have an opinion about Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. And second, that 54 percent are upset with members of Congress they see as obstructionist to government.

“Make Washington Work,” has become Scott’s early campaign theme, and he’s going after Nelson, seeking to paint him as obstructionist.

“People want to see government do something,” Peck said.

Rick Scott pushing ‘supermajority’ proposal for Congress tax hikes

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Gov. Rick Scott announced Wednesday he’ll be campaigning on a proposal to require Congress to recognize only super majority votes to pass tax or fee hikes.

Scott, who pushed for such a measure with the Constitution Revision Commission, now contained in Amendment 5 going before voters this fall, touted the tax proposal as the first component of his “Make Washington Work” plan, announced Wednesday morning in a campaign stop in Medley.

Scott said he would push for a proposal to require two-thirds approvals for any federal tax or fee increase.

In making the announcement, he characterized himself as a governor championing tax cuts, while charging that his opponent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson has voted in favor of higher taxes and fees more than 300 times.

“I know that many people will say this cannot be done, or that this has been proposed and failed before. That way of old thinking by career politicians is what has allowed Washington to become so dysfunctional,” Scott stated in a news release issued by his campaign. “Today, Florida is proof that we can get things done when others say we can’t. Just this year, we fought to get Amendment 5 on the November ballot so Floridians have the opportunity to vote to make it harder for politicians to raise taxes and fees in Florida.”

His campaign stated there will be more proposals coming for his “Make Washington Work” plan as the campaign continues.

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