David Jolly Archives - Page 6 of 62 - Florida Politics

Mitch Perry Report for 10.18.16 — Amy Schumer not the 1st libe

Amy Schumer isn’t the only major comic whose liberal schtick ended up alienating some Tampa residents who coughed up big money for a night’s entertainment.

In 2003 Bill Maher gave an eviscerating takedown of George W. Bush at the Straz Theatre (still known then simply as the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center). It was just months after the “successful” invasion of Iraq. It was well before things went truly south for the U.S. and western forces there, and in our popular culture, seldom was heard a discouraging word about the fight, sold in part as addressing the wounds of 9/11.

A dozen or so people left the theater during Maher’s takedown. Although his attack on Bush wasn’t really anything new, it definitely alienated some of the citizens who had come out on a Friday night for a few laughs. Apparently they didn’t get HBO.

Meanwhile, Patrick Murphy and Marco Rubio finally engaged in their first one-on-one debate last night from Orlando. It was pretty good stuff, after moderator Jonathan Karl got finished asking all of his nationally based questions about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Actually, it wasn’t Karl’s fault. Like so many Democrats in Tampa Bay, Florida and around the nation, Murphy is trying to conflate Rubio with Trump on a daily basis.

So Murphy kept on bringing up Rubio’s refusal to disassociate himself from the GOP presidential nominee, though Rubio was certainly critical of him.

Some reporters say the “news” out of the debate was that, for the first time, Rubio said he would serve a full, six-year term, “God willing.” I’d argue Rubio’s declaration that the Florida presidential election results will not be “rigged,” was pretty newsworthy, since it’s important for fellow Republicans to denounce the idea that the general election results are already fixed.

I mean, if that’s going to happen, why even campaign for another three weeks?

In other news …

Retired Army general Stanley McChrystal was in Tampa yesterday, where he said the No. 1 vulnerability of the U.S. government in terms of international relations is our political divisions at home.

Tampa Republican state Rep. Dana Young is calling for the FDLE to investigate the Hillsborough County PTC, following revelations of questionable moves made last week by embattled executive director Kyle Cockream.

And the DCCC is rubbing it in when it comes to that whole dubious ad they produced where they photoshopped David Jolly into appearing with Donald Trump.

With three weeks to go, the majority of those polled in the Tampa City Council District 7 area admit to having no clue, but Republican Jim Davison is blowing away the field among those who can name a candidate in that race.

Tampa Bay area religious leaders are calling on Hillsborough County State Attorney Mark Ober and Pinellas County State Attorney Bernie McCabe to stop prosecuting death penalty cases.

What to make of all the polling in the David Jolly vs. Charlie Crist race

Here’s how I know our reporters and I are covering the race for Florida’s 13th Congressional District as it should be covered.

On Wednesday, Charlie Crist‘s wife, former first lady Carole Crist, expressed her displeasure with a story from September about a poll that showed Republican David Jolly leading Crist by three points.

Even though I explained that I have nothing to do with the conducting of the poll other than paying for it, it was clear Mrs. Crist was not entirely happy with that story.

And then, this week, the Jolly campaign declined to share the methodology of an internal poll it recently conducted because it said our lead reporter on this race, Mitch Perry, would skew the story against Jolly.

Damned if we do, damned if we don’t.

The brutal truth is I am personally too close to this race to be objective.

Also, and I think this is vital to point out, we cover campaigns differently than the Tampa Bay Times and other traditional media outlets, especially campaigns in our home turf.

FloridaPolitics.com has probably written five times the number of stories about Crist versus Jolly as the Times, not through any fault of the Times, but because we provide hyper-active coverage of local politics.

We also include the commentary of our columnists, such as Joe Henderson and Tom Jackson, as well as the opinions of guest writers. And, of course, we publish my analysis of the race.

It’s this unconventional mix of rapid-fire reporting and biting commentary that probably pisses off partisans on all sides.

And when these partisans are close friends, as many are in this case, it can make a publisher’s job difficult.

Oh well.

There are 24 days left in this election cycle and there’s no point trying to apologize now for a hard-hitting column or nasty tweet (the Jolly campaign was upset with me because I liked the Facebook status of Beverly Young where she said she was voting for Crist; I only did this so I could bookmark the status for later reference, but that did not matter to not-so-Jollyworld.)

With so few days left, it’s an appropriate time to evaluate some of the polling in this race.

So what is the status of Jolly versus Crist?

Bottom line, Crist is probably not leading Jolly by as much as some polling showing, but I don’t think Jolly is any longer as close to Crist as he one was. Let’s break down the numbers.

The recent poll by the University of North Florida showing Crist leading by Jolly by 18 points is the very definition of an outlier. What’s troubling about the UNF poll is the ratio of completed responses by landline (28 percent) to a cellphone (72 percent). That ratio should probably be inverted.

Crist supporters have learned to be wary of surveys from UNF after its final poll of the 2014 gubernatorial race showed the Democrat beating Rick Scott by five points.

I also don’t put a lot of faith in the poll commissioned by the Democratic Congressional Committee showing Crist leading Jolly by 11 points. In this case, the pollster (Anzalone Liszt Grove Research) is to be trusted. However, this poll’s results came after right after I received a survey that was nothing less than a push-poll. It was a live interview poll, so I have a feeling the 50 to 39 percent result that this poll showed came after a few less-than-flattering questions about Jolly.

Unfortunately for Jolly, the polls from UNF and the DCCC both made headlines and the rounds in all of the morning tout sheets, like Sunburn and POLITICO Playbook.

Even if the numbers from the polls are bogus, they had to have hurt Jolly, who is already in a precarious position when it comes to fundraising. Is a major donor — already weary of Jolly’s position on fundraising — going to kick in $25,000 to a pro-Jolly super PAC after reading two polls that showed him down an average of 15 points? Even billionaire Mike Fernandez has his limits.

Jolly’s camp pushed back on the UNF poll by releasing to the Tampa Bay Times an internal poll that showed him losing to Crist, but only by two points. The pollster, Data Targeting, is highly credible, but the survey had a margin of error of six points, which means Jolly could be losing by as many as eight points.

Which brings us to the poll I believe is the Goldilocks of this race: the most recent effort by St. Pete Polls that shows Crist leading Jolly by five points.

Although St. Pete Polls does not have the national reputation of Anzalone or Data Targeting, it absolutely nailed the special election in CD 13 when Jolly was first elected. It also recently showed Jolly winning the race, so it’s difficult to argue that St. Pete Polls is biased against Jolly or has some other anti-Republican house effect.

Not surprisingly, St. Pete Polls has Jolly right where Data Targeting has him if you split the difference on the margin of error — a dangerous apples-to-bowling balls comparison, but an appropriate one here because the two pro-Crist polls would skew the average of these four polls to Crist plus-9, which I just don’t believe is where the race is at.

Two final points about all of these polls …

One of the reasons the Jolly camp has to push back hard on this polling narrative is that, if it is behind big, it does not have the passing game to catch up with Crist. Although there are some pro-Jolly super PACs with some money left to help, Jolly’s campaign is running on fumes.

The second point is, as should be said about any polling story, it’s about the trendline, not the top lines. In the case of the St. Pete Polls survey, there was an eight-point movement for Crist. Even if those polls are wrong, they’re wrong in a way that shows that Jolly is almost certainly trailing Crist.

DCCC says David Jolly ‘lied and it backfired’ about Donald Trump ad

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee boasted this weekend that David Jolly‘s campaign “lied and it backfired” regarding his camp’s announcement Friday that a local television station had pulled a controversial ad that uses doctored photos of Jolly with Donald Trump.

“Jolly’s bizarre strategy to solely object to dramatized pictures in a DCCC ad depicting a potential “President Trump” working with a future “Congressman Jolly” — failed miserably,” the DCCC chortled triumphantly in a statement issued Saturday. It was referring to a statement issued out by the Jolly campaign on Friday that Tampa Bay-area CBS affiliate WTSP-TV had announced on their Facebook page they were removing the ad.

“We have taken all photos and videos regarding the matter off our website and our television channel,” the station wrote back to one Sarasota resident who complained on the station’s Facebook page that the ad was “false and misleading.”

However, those and other statements on the WTSP Facebook page regarding the ad apparently weren’t authorized, according to WTSP news director Bob Clinkingbeard.

“Someone sending private messages using WTSP’s Facebook account” without authorization was what Clinkingbeard was telling the Tampa Bay Times on Friday.

The Trump-Jolly television ad has become one of the most controversial of any produced nationally this election cycle. It begins with a narrator asking viewers to “imagine David Jolly in Congress, supporting Trump’s dangerous agenda,” as an image of the Congressional District 13 incumbent shaking hands with Trump is shown on the screen. As more photoshopped images of Jolly and Trump are shown, the word “dramatization” is flashed on the screen. The ad also features doctored photos of Trump with Vladimir Putin.

The Jolly campaign immediately cried foul, calling on local television stations in the Tampa Bay area market to stop airing the ads, while threatening the DCCC with a lawsuit. Jolly and Trump have never met, Jolly has not endorsed Trump, and Jolly actually called on Trump to leave the race last December after the Republican presidential nominee proposed a ban on Muslims entering the U.S.

The ad links Jolly to Trump by referring to their shared support of restrictions on abortions and denying federal funds to Planned Parenthood, and it concludes with the narrator saying, “imagine Donald Trump as president and how dangerous he would be with David Jolly supporting him in Congress.”

Attorneys for the DCCC have said it’s clear from the context of the ad and the disclaimer that the images are not real, “but are used to depict what the future might look like if voters support Rep. Jolly’s candidacy. There is no risk of confusion on this point. The images simply contribute to the advertisement’s central message that Rep. Jolly and Donald Trump share the same dangerous positions on important issues and that if Mr. Trump is elected president and Rep. Jolly is re-elected to his seat in Congress, he will support Mr. Trump’s agenda on these issues. This advertisement is accurate in every respect, raises critical public policy issues, and should continue to air.”

“For a candidate who regularly uses the term ‘liar’ to describe his opponents, it’s ironic that Jolly has been flatly caught doing exactly that — lying,” said Jermaine House of the DCCC. “David Jolly is so desperate to hide this Trump-like record from voters, that he will do anything — even misleading the public — only this time it backfired.”

Mitch Perry Report for 10.14.16 — Mission creep in Yemen?

The real news is out there — you just have to search for it.

While the increasingly dysfunctional presidential election grips/horrifies the nation, there are things happening in the world that U.S. citizens should be aware of — such as our involvement in Yemen.

On Thursday, the U.S. military launched cruise missile strikes to knock out three coastal radar sites in areas of Yemen controlled by Iran-aligned Houthi forces, retaliating after failed missile attacks this week on a U.S. Navy destroyer.

Now some might ask: What is our military doing there in the first place?

Well, apparently it’s because of our alliance with frenemy Saudi Arabia.

Let’s go back to 2014, where an alliance of Houthi rebels began fighting for control of Yemen against followers of its former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh. That picked up momentum when the Saudis, fearing the influence of Iran, led a coalition of air strikes to support the exiled Yemen leader, Abed Rabbo Mansour.

That has killed nearly 10,000 people, with reports of as many as 4,000 of them civilians. And this is where we should add that the U.S. has sold Saudi Arabia over $111 billion in defense equipment and weaponry under President Obama, and the U.S. and Great Britain have been key allies in helping the Saudis in Yemen.

Because of that alliance, there are those in Yemen who blame the U.S. for what the Saudis are doing, hence the shots taken at U.S. Navy ship earlier this week, based there to guard a sea lane through which four million barrels of oil pass daily.

Now there’s this, from today’s New York Times: “After the American strikes, Iran said it was sending two warships to the strait, presumably to support the Houthis, an indigenous Shiite group with loose connections to Iran. Saudi Arabia has portrayed the Houthis as an Iranian proxy force and has said that it needed to intervene in Yemen to protect Saudi national security by preventing the rise of a belligerent militia on its southern border.”

The question I’d love to ask the presidential candidates if I had the opportunity — or heck, if I could ask Barack Obama a question — it’d be do we really care about what’s going in Yemen? Because innocent people are dying from weaponry sold to them by our country.

In August, a bill was introduced by Republicans Rand Paul and Mike Lee, and Democrats Chris Murphy and Al Franken to stop the proposed sale of more than $1 billion in arms to the Saudis.

“Selling $1.15 billion in tanks, guns, ammunition, and more to a country with a poor human rights record embroiled in a bitter war is a recipe for disaster and an escalation of an ongoing arms race in the region,” Paul said at the time.

The deal passed the Senate last month.

In other news …

One of the most intriguing races in Hillsborough County has been the State Attorney’s contest between Republican incumbent Mark Ober and his Democratic challenger, Andrew Warren.

Yesterday, Ober released a statement where he said he was tired of Warren “lying to the voters” about his record, specifically regarding the circumstances of two controversial cases.

Warren followed suit later in the day, making sure to add his own criticisms to a national report released Wednesday alleging Ober’s office is an outlier around the nation when it comes to pursuing death penalty cases.

You can call a University of North Florida poll that shows Charlie Crist up by 18 points over David Jollyan outlier if you want, but the trend lines are not good for the Indian Shores Republican fighting to maintain his job in a Democratic-leaning congressional district.

Team Jolly is still incensed about a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ad that uses a bogus made-up photo of the congressman standing side-by-side with Donald Trump, despite the fact that the two men have never been in the same room together. Jolly would at least like to hear Crist criticize the DCCC, but he’s not going there.

Among the many, many national groups on the ground here in Florida for the election and for the Democrats this cycle is the AFL-CIO, who dropped a ton of new mailers to union households earlier this week.

David Jolly camp upset that Charlie Crist won’t denounce DCCC ad that links Jolly to Donald Trump

David Jolly‘s campaign can’t believe Charlie Crist won’t join them in rebuking an ad produced on his behalf by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).

On Wednesday, Team Jolly had an attorney reach out to local television stations in the Tampa Bay area media market, asking them to stop airing what they say is a “deceitful” ad that uses edited photos to physically place Jolly next to Donald Trump, indicating the Congressional District 13 incumbent backs the controversial GOP nominee, when he most decidedly does not.

In their statement on Wednesday, the Jolly team called on Crist to join them in denouncing the ad. Crist did no such thing. So on Thursday they released a short video clip of Crist rather awkwardly addressing the disputed ad at a candidate forum at Eckerd College that took place Wednesday night.

“They have the right to … First Amendment gives them the right to do that,” Crist replies. “And it’s not my campaign, as you said,” he says while pausing. “So, that’s that.”

He is then asked by the panelist if the visual misrepresentation was inappropriate? “I haven’t seen the ad, so in all fairness, I can’t comment.”

“When given the chance to disown it and do the right thing, Charlie Crist chose Washington over Pinellas County,” said Sarah Bascom, spokesperson for the David Jolly for Congress Campaign. “When given the chance to stand up for the community and against the very forces we complain about, Charlie Crist pled ignorance. When given the chance to show true character and civility, Charlie Crist, the self-professed defender of ‘the people,’ revealed that he is OK with deceiving ‘the people’ so long as it benefits himself.”

The Jolly camp again called on Crist to denounce the ad as “deceptive and lying to the people of Pinellas.”

Bascom also referenced an incident during the 2014 special congressional election when Jolly ran against Democrat Alex Sink. That’s when the National Republican Congressional Committee aired a TV ad accusing her of using a state plane while she was Florida CFO. The Tampa Bay Times reported at the time that Jolly had distanced himself from the ad.

Jolly is running for re-election in his 13th Congressional District against Crist. A poll released early Thursday from the University of North Florida showed Crist with a significant 18-point lead over Jolly, 54 percent to 36 percent.

Shock poll in Congressional District 13: Charlie Crist 54%, David Jolly 36%

A shocking new poll in Florida’s 13th Congressional District gives Democrat Charlie Crist an 18-point lead over GOP incumbent David Jolly.

The Public Opinion Research Laboratory at the University of North Florida puts the race at 54 to 36 percent. Nine percent of CD 13 voters are undecided, and one percent support another candidate.

The 18-point gap is by far the largest of any poll conducted in what is considered to be one of the most competitive congressional races in the country, though the redistricting of CD 13 prompted Jolly himself to quip that no Republican could possibly win it.

“This relatively large lead for Crist is due, in part, to name recognition, and I think this will play out in other races as well. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have dominated the media, making it a struggle in this environment for candidates without highly recognized names,” said Dr. Michael Binder, faculty director of the Public Opinion Research Laboratory.

The poll of 611 likely voters in the Pinellas County district was conducted Oct. 9-11.

“Another advantage for Crist is that he is faring well across party lines and, perhaps because he was once a Republican, he’s getting 22 percent of Republican support,” Binder continued. “Even though Crist is doing quite well with African-American (87 percent) and Hispanic (72 percent) voters, this district is predominately white, and he is winning there too with 47 percent, compared with 42 percent for Jolly.”

The poll also shows a strong gender gap in the contest. Crist leads Jolly by nine points among men, but has a stunning 24 percent lead with women, 56 percent to 32 percent.

Jolly acknowledged when he re-entered the race in June it would not be an easy task to win the newly configured seat, saying, “we might have the most challenging race for a Republican in the country, in a very expensive media market, against a very well-qualified candidate in Charlie Crist, who has shown that he can win races. So I am not naive with the challenge we are undertaking.”

Most of the polls in the contest have shown the margin to be relatively close. A St. Pete Polls survey released Tuesday showed Crist leading Jolly by five points, 48 to 43 percent. A DCCC-sanctioned poll released last week that was quickly dismissed by the Jolly campaign had Crist up by 11 points, 50 to 39 percent.

One possible consideration for Jolly losing support could be from Republicans unhappy that he ISN’T endorsing Trump. Although a number of Republicans have backed away from their presidential nominee in the wake of the lewd comments he made in a newly surfaced videotape last week, many others are standing by him, in some cases so they don’t lose the support of the rank-and-file Republican voter. Jolly has never endorsed Trump, and at times has been quite critical of him. His campaign team Wednesday called on local television stations to stop airing a DCCC-produced ad that featured Jolly and Trump together.

The poll has a margin of error of four percentage points. The breakdown of responses was 28 percent on landline phones to 72 percent on cellphones.

Mitch Perry Report for 10.13.15 — Hillsborough Dems in denial about the Joe Redner factor in SD 18 race?

A St. Pete Polls survey released this morning shows Republican Dana Young with a six-point lead over her Democratic challenger, Bob Buesing, 38 percent to 32 percent. Independent candidate Joe Redner is in third place with 16 percent. Sheldon Upthegrove is at 3 percent, and 11 percent are undecided.

A survey taken earlier this summer showed Young and Buesing essentially tied, but that poll did not ask voters about Redner.

Although Redner has run many times for office, he’s actually putting some of his considerable financial resources into this campaign and, with his already well-established name recognition in Hillsborough County, is a definite factor in this race.

The adult club impresario and social activist dismisses any notion of dropping out of the contest to make way for Buesing, who he’s certainly in much more in agreement with on the issues than Young. Redner says he’s the best candidate in the race, so why should he get out?

As mentioned above, he’s also much better known than Buesing at this point. When asked earlier in the campaign about his relatively low name recognition considering he’s never previously run for office, Buesing countered that internal polling showed Young actually wasn’t that well known in Senate District 18 either. But Redner could very well be better known than either candidate. That doesn’t mean he’s going to win (this poll shows he’s not), but it does mean he’s having a serious effect on the ultimate outcome.

Democrats — including Buesing himself — say they’re not concerned Redner will take votes that might otherwise have gone to the Democratic nominee, insisting “Donald Trump Republicans” will back him. The polling shows Redner does garner GOP support. Just not as much as he does from Democrats.

The survey finds Redner gets 19 percent support from Democrats, 14 percent from independents and 14 percent from Republicans.

Young is getting more support from her Republican base than Buesing is from his Democratic base. The survey shows 58 percent of Republicans are backing Young, while 49 percent of Democrats are backing Buesing.

It certainly is relevant to note that St. Pete Polls does not poll cellphone users. However, before you write this survey off as out of touch with contemporary voters, you should note that it polled fairly accurately in several of the August primary elections.

In other news …

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn is calling on Republicans to drop their support for Donald Trump and get on the Hillary Clinton campaign. 

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is using doctored photos to suggest David Jolly and Donald Trump are allies in a new ad, the Jolly campaign said Wednesday, and they wrote to local television stations, asking them to stop airing the ad.

Patrick Murphy says he’s now ready to debate Marco Rubio on Univision affiliates later this month.

A new report says Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties are two of the most eager state attorney’s offices in the nation in having their prosecutors ask for the death penalty.

HD 63 Democratic candidate Lisa Montelione is so busy helping constituents, she didn’t have time to appear in her first TV ad of the election cycle.

David Jolly campaign calls on TV stations to pull new DCCC ad linking him to Donald Trump

The David Jolly campaign is crying foul over a new ad produced by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) that links the Pinellas County Republican with Donald Trump. The Jolly camp calls it a “fake and deceptive television ad,” because it uses photoshopped photos of Jolly posed next to Trump. The Jolly camp says there are no actual photos between the two men because they have never met each other.

“This ad is a new low, even for the DCCC and Charlie Crist,” said Sarah Bascom, spokesperson for the Jolly for Congress campaign. Jolly is running against Crist in what has become an increasingly bitter battle for the 13th Congressional District seat, held for over 40 years by Republican Bill Young until Jolly won a special election to replace him in early 2014.

“This ad not only falsely attempts to link David Jolly to Donald Trump, even though he has publicly said he does not support a Trump candidacy, but it also has multiple photoshopped pictures of David Jolly throughout the ad,” Bascom says. “David Jolly has never met or spoken to Donald Trump, which is evidenced by the fact that they had to doctor up fake images because no picture of them together actually exists.”

Since Trump’s emergence in the presidential race more than a year ago, Jolly has mostly been critical of his candidacy, and has decidedly not endorsed him for the Nov. 8 election.

Adding to the anger of the Jolly camp: they say Crist is the actual candidate in the race who has a background with Trump.

“In fact, this ad would be more accurate if they used a picture of Charlie Crist with Donald Trump, which there are many resulting from the long relationship Charlie has with Mr. Trump,” said Bascom. “Mr. Trump has donated to Charlie Crist and has supported Charlie Crist in past campaigns, which actually leads to the next question. Why hasn’t Charlie Crist denounced Mr. Trump for the comments he has made towards women in the recent interview tape, or publicly denounced any comments Mr. Trump has made?

“Is it because he is secretly supporting Donald Trump and does not want to speak ill of his ‘backup’ candidate for president? Or could it be that Charlie is secretly playing both sides in the presidential election? Or is it because the person that is actually in those pictures with Donald Trump is Charlie Crist?”

The Crist campaign has not responded to a request for comment.

The Jolly team also is calling on local television stations in the Tampa Bay market to stop airing the ad, contending that images in the ad are “patently false.”

“As you are aware, the ad is not being paid for, authorized by, nor offered by a candidate,” writes Tallahassee-based attorney Roger N. Beaubien to Kelly Lastra, national sales manager with WFLA-TV and WTTA Great 38. “Therefore, the advertisement is not protected political speech by a candidate as contemplated by the Federal Communications Commission.”

“Please be advised should you refuse to withdraw the advertisement from on-air play as of the date of the receipt of this notice, we are prepared to pursue all legal remedies against your station for the continued airing of the deceptive and misleading ad,” Beaubien adds.

The CD 13 race is distinct in that it is one of the few — if not the only — race in the country where a Republican is questioning a Democrat about their association with Trump. Although Trump has given campaign contributions to politicians from both major parties over the years, Crist received donations from Trump while he was a registered Republican, an affiliation he changed in 2010 before becoming a Democrat in 2012.

“Once again, we call on Charlie Crist to denounce the comments made by Donald Trump, and now we call on him to denounce this fake and deceptive television ad produced by his friends in the Democratic national establishment,” said Bascom. “If Charlie Crist truly is a ‘man of the people,’ like he claims, then he too should call for the removal of an ad that knowingly and intentionally lies to the people of Pinellas County.”

The DCCC is not backing down, however.

“David Jolly can’t take issue with the facts that he, like Donald Trump, would outlaw women’s right to choose and defund Planned Parenthood, so instead he is trying to keep voters from hearing about his record,” said DCCC spokesman Jermaine House.

“The truth hurts, and no matter how hard Jolly tries to keep voters from hearing it, they will know exactly how similar Jolly is to Trump when they walk into the voting booth.”

And late on Wednesday afternoon, attorneys with the DCCC wrote to those same TV stations about the request by Jolly to take down the ad.

Attorneys Daniel B. Nudelman and Aria C. Branch with the Washington based law firm of Perkins Coie write that, “Notably, the letter does not challenge any of the content of the advertisement. Rather, its only argument is that the advertisement contains photo-shopped images depicting Representative Jolly with Donald Trump. But as the letter acknowledges, each of these images is accompanied by an on-screen written disclaimer that reads “DRAMATIZATION.” It is clear from both the context of the ad and the accompanying disclaimer that the images are not real, but are used to depict what the future might look like if voters support Representative Jolly’s candidacy. There is no risk of confusion on this point. The images simply contribute to the advertisement’s central message that Representative Jolly and Donald Trump share the same dangerous positions on important issues and that if Mr. Trump is elected president and Representative Jolly is reelected to his seat in Congress, he will support Mr. Trump’s agenda on these issues. This advertisement is accurate in every respect, raises critical public policy issues, and should continue to air.”

More outside money spent in Florida congressional races than in any other state

Florida might have only four truly competitive congressional races this fall but outside groups are spending big in them – more than in any other state.

Groups such as the  National Republican Congressional Committee and the Democrats’ House Majority Fund have poured millions of dollars into Florida’s Congressional Districts 7, 13, 18 and 26 since the Aug. 30 primary and throughTuesday, according to the latest data available from the Federal Election Commission.

Overall such groups have spent $11 million since the primary, almost all on those four districts. Outside groups also spent millions of dollars on primary races before Aug. 30, and for the cycle they’ve spent a total of $17.8 million so far in Florida, through Tuesday. The state with the next highest amount of spending in congressional races including primaries, New York, has seen $12.4 million; in third-highest Nevada it’s $11.3 million, and in fourth-highest Minnesota it’s $9.7 million.

In Florida’s CD 7, featuring Republican, incumbent U.S. Rep. John Mica facing Democratic challenger Stephanie Murphy for the Seminole-Orange counties district, it’s all been for Murphy and against Mica. Outside groups have spent $1.1 million so far supporting Murphy and another $441,000 opposing Mica.

In CD 13, with Republican, incumbent, U.S. Rep. David Jolly facing Democratic challenger Charlie Crist in the Pinellas County district Crist is getting almost all the outside help. Groups have spent $1.5 million opposing Jolly and another $62,000 supporting Crist; while others have spent $155,000 opposing Crist.

In CD 18, where Republican Brian Mast and Democrat Randy Perkins are battling over outgoing Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy‘s Treasure Coast district, Mast is the big beneficiary. Groups have spent $3 million opposing Perkins and $463,000 supporting Mast.

And in CD 26, where Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo faces Democrat Joe Garcia, the money is flowing to help both candidates in the Monroe-Miami-Dade counties district. So far, $1.6 million has been spent opposing Garcia and $302,000 supporting Curbelo; while $1.5 million has been spent opposing Curbelo and $681,000 supporting Garcia.

More is likely coming, if the races remain competitive. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, for example, pledged it would spend up to $3 million to support Stephanie Murphy and oppose John Mica, but so far has spent only $535,000 in CD 7.

The NRCC so far is the biggest spender, having dropped $3.3 million, evenly split between CD 18, for Mast; and CD 26, for Curbel0.

The House Majority PAC has spent $2.6 million in Florida this fall, mostly in CD 13 for Crist; with a good chunk going into CD 7, for Stephanie Murphy; and a small amount in CD 26, for Garcia.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee also has spent $2.5 million in Florida, with three-quarters of it going into CD 26, to help Garcia; and the rest going to CD 7, for Murphy.

And the Congressional Leadership Fund has spent $1.8 million in Florida so far, all of it in CD 18, to help Mast.

So far $4.8 million has been spent opposing Democrats and $776,000 supporting Republicans; while $3.6 million has been spent opposing Republicans, and $1.8 million supporting Democrats.

Sixteen outside groups have weighed in on Florida’s congressional campaigns this fall ranging from the Immigrant Voters Win PAC to the National Association of Realtors Congressional Fund. But after the four big, partisan, congressional committees, none of the others has spent more than $155,000.

Charlie Crist regains polling advantage over David Jolly in CD 13, now leads by five points

His commercials omnipresent on Tampa Bay televisions, Charlie Crist has taken back the lead from David Jolly in the race for Florida’s 13th Congressional District.

According to a fresh survey from St. Pete Polls, the former governor now leads the incumbent congressman 48 to 43 percent with a healthy 9 percent of CD 13 voters undecided.

A poll conducted three weeks ago by the same firm had Jolly up three points over Crist.

This swing may be both easy and complicated to explain. The easy answer for Crist’s eight-point move is that he and his allies at House Majority PAC have turned on the spigot and are inundating the Pinellas County district with positive ads about Crist and negative spots about Jolly. Crist holds a significant fundraising advantage over Jolly, while at the same time national Republicans have been hesitant to invest in a seat they believe is difficult to win and in a candidate with whom it has had a rocky relationship.

The more nuanced explanation for Crist’s new advantage is that some voters’ perception of Jolly may have changed. With little money to air attack ads against Crist, Jolly has had to take the gloves off against the Republican-turned-Independent-turned-Democrat. Jolly took a harder edge against Crist in a televised debate and has been relentlessly critical of Crist, despite a commitment he made at his announcement event in June to avoid discussing his opponent.

“I have expressed my opinions about his candidacy, and I don’t intend to reference it anymore between now and November,” Jolly said at the time. “Part of my promise to change the tone is hopefully you all won’t hear me utter another candidate’s name between now and November.”

The latest polling suggests Jolly’s new direction is costing him with voters. In September, CD 13 voters held a +28 favorable opinion of Jolly. This new poll shows Jolly with a -2 favorable rating. Crist’s favorability rating remain a mixed bag at +6, although that is an improvement from the previous poll’s -2 rating.

Of course, there is a third explanation for this poll showing Crist leading Jolly by four points. That’s also about the same margin by which the top of the ballot is being decided.

Voters in the swing-y CD 13 narrowly support Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump for president. In a four-way match-up that also includes Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson and the Green Party’s Jill Stein, Clinton leads Trump 47 to 43 percent.

The poll has a sample size of 1,280 respondents and has a 2.7 percent margin of error.

Crist, an attorney who was Florida’s governor from 2007 to 2011, was cited as a possible VP pick for John McCain in 2008. He ran for U.S. Senate as a Republican in 2010 but lost to Marco Rubio in the primary. Crist then switched parties, ran in the general as an independent and lost. He then switched parties again, becoming a Democrat, and ran unsuccessfully for governor against Rick Scott in 2014.

Jolly, 43, who has been in office only two years, earlier had announced he would run for U.S. Senate. But when Rubio dropped out of the presidential race and said he would run for re-election, Jolly got out of the race.

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