Gwen Graham Archives - Florida Politics

Karen Halperin Cyphers: Does #MeToo reduce demand for a Bill Clinton endorsement?

Leading into Florida’s recent Democratic gubernatorial primary, the lone female candidate and presumed front-runner Gwen Graham was asked in a debate if she would accept support from former President Bill Clinton on the campaign trail … “given the #MeToo movement.”

She hesitated in answering and took heat from her opponents (and perhaps from some voters) for failing to welcome Clinton’s support wholeheartedly.

I don’t need a mention of #MeToo to be reminded of Clinton’s catalog of transgressions, including and beyond what constitutes abuse of power or exploitation in the workplace. Therefore, in my mind, Graham’s hesitation was warranted — even if not the most strategic answer when competing for Democratic votes.

But now Florida’s attention is on the most polarized and high-profile gubernatorial contest in the nation, in which support from nonpartisan voters will determine the outcome.

I wanted to know how Floridians across the political spectrum would react to the same question: Would an endorsement from the former president positively or negatively impact views toward the candidate he supports — with, and without, specific reference to #MeToo?

We tested this through an experimental survey design in which half of the 1,100 respondents were primed to think of #MeToo before answering the question, while half were not. It turns out that #MeToo matters — but not the same way for everyone. We found that a reference to the #MeToo movement:

— Dramatically increases negative views and decreases positive views among voters with no party affiliation (NPA). Following mention of the #MeToo movement, negative views among NPAs regarding a Clinton endorsement almost double, while favorable views drop from 22 percent to 3 percent.

 — Has NO impact on the portion of Republicans who view a Clinton endorsement positively or negatively — not unexpected, given the low regard for Clinton among Republicans.

— Has NO impact on the portion of Democrats who would view a Clinton endorsement negatively. However, a large portion of Democrats do shift from positive feelings to “neutral” when the #MeToo movement is referenced. Interestingly, Democratic women have an even less negative response to the #MeToo reference than Democratic men.

To me, these results suggest that Democrats are either in denial about the degree to which Bill Clinton has “#MeToo-d” women, or it simply doesn’t matter to them.

The fact that a reference to #MeToo moves non-partisans strongly but moves Democrats very little implies that partisanship eclipses other values, or somehow alters how standards are applied.

This wouldn’t be exclusive to Democrats — it doesn’t appear that most Republicans would punish those that President Trump endorses even if reminded of the many repellent things he’s said or done. Quite the opposite, as demonstrated by Florida’s Republican gubernatorial primary.

But in the current general election, the calculus shifts to which endorsements can rally a base without turning off (and, ideally, appealing to) voters in the middle.

And if voter perceptions of endorsements can, in fact, be influenced by something as little as a hash-tagged reference, there may be plenty to consider.

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Karen Halperin Cyphers, Ph.D., is a partner and vice president of research with Sachs Media Group in Tallahassee. Have curiosities or ideas for experimental survey questions? Email her at karen@sachsmedia.com.

Sean Pittman: Far-left labels don’t apply to Andrew Gillum

If you believe the conventional wisdom of the Florida Governor’s race, voters have a stark choice between a Bernie Sanders Democrat and a Donald Trump Republican.

Andrew Gillum, who recently chose his primary opponent Chris King as his running mate, is indeed running against Republican Congressman and presidential acolyte, Ron DeSantis, with Jeanette Nunez for Lieutenant Governor.

It is indeed a glaring political contrast, but not in the way the DeSantis camp would have you believe.

I can’t speak for the Republicans — and won’t. However, the far-out description doesn’t fit Gillum, and it shouldn’t fly as campaign fodder in the November election.

Yes, Sanders did come to Florida and endorse Gillum. But, Gillum was a Hillary Clinton surrogate during the 2016 campaign and made her short list for running mate. Gillum was part of a four-member effort in Tallahassee that raised $500,000 for Obama’s first run as president in 2008.

Now, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is with Gillum as brother-in-arms; his primary opponent, Gwen Graham, the daughter of former Governor and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, told Gillum to “go out and win the d— thing” as part of her endorsement. State Sen. Lauren Book, the daughter of one of the capitol’s most influential lawyer/lobbyists, also made the shortlist for Gillum’s running mate.

If you know Florida politics, this is not exactly the makings of a leftist cabal.

Besides those who support him, Gillum’s record as Tallahassee Mayor doesn’t suggest a socialist ideology either. In fact, the mayor-turned-gubernatorial candidate has pushed sensible policies that have fostered growth and development in the state’s capital city.

As Mayor, Gillum got rid of business license fees, revised the permitting process to make it more timely and refunded utility deposits to businesses in good standing. The changes made Tallahassee a better place for business and home to Florida’s fastest growing economy.

But, what about all that support from George Soros and Tom Steyer, the two billionaires most identified with progressive causes? Gillum may share political beliefs with the two, but he also appreciates the support from them and the full range of Floridians backing his campaign.

The reality is that many of these so-called progressive issues are becoming more mainstream by the day. Poll after poll shows a majority of Americans favor “Medicare-for-All.” People actually want affordable and accessible health care, including many Republicans who see the value in Medicare and Medicaid expansion as a way to improve medical services and lower drug prices.

Raising the minimum wage in Florida fails the radical-left standard, too.

You don’t need a poll, although several do show Floridians think the current state minimum wage of $8.25 needs to be raised, given our low-wage economy makes it difficult to make ends meet with only one job.

So, while it may be easy to mischaracterize Gillum as a member of the radical fringe, it’s just not true. Facts suggest otherwise.

As the campaign goes on, more and more Floridians will see Gillum for who for who use he is — a pragmatic candidate whose common-sense ideas are welcome by the voters and much more mainstream than many pundits think.

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Sean Pittman is the senior partner of the Pittman Law Group, a Tallahassee-based law firm and co-host of Sunday morning television talk show “The Usual Suspects.”

Ron DeSantis reels in most matching funds

Florida’s matching-funds program pumped $142,665 more into the governor’s race on Friday.

The program, which matches contributions of $250 or less for gubernatorial and Cabinet candidates who qualify, sent a check worth $79,488 to Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis and $63,177 to Democrat Andrew Gillum.

DeSantis, a Northeast Florida congressman, has now received $1.055 million from the program, while Gillum, the Tallahassee mayor, has collected $558,241, according to numbers posted on the state Division of Elections website.

Former Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Ashley Moody, the Republican candidate for attorney general, received $35,574 on Friday. She has received $380,175 from the program. Her Democratic opponent, state Rep. Sean Shaw of Tampa, didn’t get a check on Friday but has received $222,702 from the state.

Republican state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis got $350 on Friday, bumping his campaign’s state assistance to $305,105. Democrat Jeremy Ring, a former state senator running for chief financial officer, has not entered the program.

Overall, the state has provided nearly $5.2 million to candidates, including four who failed to win primaries — gubernatorial candidates Gwen Graham and Adam Putnam, attorney-general candidate Ryan Torrens, and agriculture-commissioner candidate Denise Grimsley. The gubernatorial race has accounted for $3.9 million of the state matching funds. In 2014, candidates drew $4.1 million from the state program during the primary and general elections.

One reason Gwen Graham isn’t Democratic LG pick: She wasn’t asked

If you’re wondering why Gwen Graham isn’t Andrew Gillum‘s choice to run with him as Lieutenant Governor … well, you’ll have to ask him.

He never called to ask her if she was interested.

Gillum, the Tallahassee Mayor who won the Democratic primary for Governor last month, never reached out to Graham directly or through back channels, according to two sources close to Graham.

He instead announced Winter Park businessman Chris King as his LG during a Facebook Live appearance Thursday. King was one of Gillum’s competitors for the Governor spot.

“Gwen was never contacted by the nominee regarding LG (even as a courtesy) and always has put the State over her own personal interests,” this source said. “She would have served and served well if called upon to do so.”

But she wasn’t, adding a bit more fuel to the fire that despite the public show of détente by all the parties, there’s still a reservoir of bad blood separating the two camps.

A senior staffer on the Graham campaign confirmed that “Gillum never even reached out to talk to her about it.”

Moreover, “no one from their campaign has called or approached any of us to help in any way,” that person added.

That suggests she won’t have to mull whether she wants to be part of the Gillum administration because he has no intention to offer her a place if he’s elected.

Campaign matching funds expected to keep climbing

Florida’s controversial public matching-funds program for statewide candidates remains on a pace to surpass a high of $6.1 million that was handed out in the 2010 elections.

Last week’s primaries eliminated four of the nine gubernatorial and Cabinet candidates who had qualified for the program, which has already topped $4.9 million in distributions during the 2018 election cycle, according to numbers posted Friday by the Florida Division of Elections.

But heading into the November general election, the remaining participants in the program include both major-party gubernatorial candidates, Republican Ron DeSantis and Democrat Andrew Gillum, who have combined to pick up $1.47 million in matching funds. Also, the two major-party candidates for attorney general, Republican Ashley Moody and Democrat Sean Shaw, have received a combined total of $567,302 from the program.

In addition, Republican Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, who didn’t have a primary challenger, has already drawn $304,755 from the program as he prepares for a Nov. 6 challenge from Democrat Jeremy Ring, a former state senator from Broward County.

The program matches contributions of $250 or less from individual donors after crossing a set fundraising threshold. It has already exceeded the $4.3 million distributed in the 2014 elections.

The program has long faced criticism, with opponents saying the state shouldn’t help finance campaigns. Repeal efforts have failed in recent legislative sessions, while candidates who made the program a campaign issue had mixed results in the primary.

In the Republican primary for agriculture commissioner, state Rep. Matt Caldwell, who declined to apply for matching funds, topped a primary field of four that included Sen. Denise Grimsley.

Caldwell, who won with 34.6 percent of the vote, decried the use of the matching-funds program as “campaign welfare.” Grimsley, the only candidate in the race who tapped into the program, received $275,183 from the state.

“Public financing of statewide political campaigns is a waste of taxpayer dollars and a disservice to Florida’s hard-working families,” Caldwell said during the campaign.

Meanwhile, the use of the program did not appear to hurt Moody in the Republican primary for attorney general. She has now drawn $344,600 from the program, which was the focus of ads by her primary opponent, state Rep. Frank White of Pensacola.

White, who lost by 13 percentage points in the primary, sent out a flyer that highlighted paperwork filed by Moody seeking matching funds next to a comment attributed to her saying she stands for reducing government waste.

Moody campaign spokeswoman Christina Johnson countered that the program helps people combat self-funded candidates such as White, who poured personal money into the campaign.

Ryan Torrens, who was defeated by Shaw for the Democratic nomination for attorney general, received $88,694 from the program.

Shaw, who received a check for $17,425 from the state on Friday, has drawn $222,701 from the program.

In the governor’s race, DeSantis has drawn $975,836 from the program, while Gillum has received $495,065, according to the numbers posted Friday.

Outgoing Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who was defeated by DeSantis in the Republican gubernatorial primary, received $1.08 million from the program. Former Congresswoman Gwen Graham, who finished second to Gillum in the Democratic primary, drew $1.22 million from the program.

Don’t do it, Lauren Book

The Gwen Graham for Governor yard signs were not even down before the man who beat her in last week’s Democratic primary for Florida governor, Andrew Gillum, was being asked if he would consider her as a running mate.

There’s a reason God put Labor Day Weekend right after Election Day, and that was so the candidates who have spent the better part of a year crisscrossing the state in pursuit of votes get a chance to collect themselves after the grueling primaries.

Ron DeSantis, the Ponte Vedra congressman who is now the stand-bearer for the Republican Party demonstrated, with his dog-whistling ‘monkey‘ comment, why no winning (and exhausted) candidate should give interviews the day after an election. Is there any question that DeSantis would have been better off if he had said, as does the Super Bowl MVP, he was taking his family to Disney World for the weekend?

Instead, everyone wants to know who Gillum and DeSantis plan to pick as running mates. That question is quickly followed up with, ‘Who’s gonna win, Andrew or Ron?’

Give it a moment, people. Breathe. It’s gonna be a long two months to November.

In fact, that’s one of the many problems with Florida politics, that candidates spend about eighteen months running for their party’s nomination, then just eight weeks running in a general election. The Sunshine State would be better served if party nominees were chosen in the late Spring rather than when many folks are busy getting kids ready to go back to school.

But this is the system we are in, so the two candidates who shocked the political world by winning last Tuesday now must choose a dance partner by next Thursday.

If DeSantis wants to change the discussion from monkeys and racist robocalls, his campaign should start leaking his top one or two choices right before the Florida State football game begins at 8 p.m. Monday night. Then seize the initiative on the unofficial start of the general election campaign by unveiling his pick Tuesday morning.

Gillum, who probably hasn’t had a moment to himself to think about who he wants standing next to him for as much as the next eight years, is reportedly considering about five or six possible choices: Graham, former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, Lauren Book, state Reps. Kristin Jacobs and Amy Mercado, and Palm Beach County Mayor Melissa McKinlay.

For a variety of reasons, Gillum is under enormous pressure to select a female running mate. Choosing a woman would invigorate a constituency of the Democratic Party that is smarting after Graham’s loss. Everyone keeps saying 2018 is the year of the woman in politics, but with four dudes atop the two tickets — Gillum, DeSantis, Bill Nelson and Rick Scott — November 6 has the makings of a sausage party.

The animosity between the Gillum and Graham camps was palpable on the campaign trail and may be too much to overcome to add Graham to the ticket.

Murphy would be a formidable attack dog for Gillum, which may be needed in this campaign. But going the ‘Tim Kaine route,’ as one Democratic strategist described a Gillum-Murphy ticket, seems like an odd pairing.

Book, Jacobs, Mercado, and McKinlay each possess unique talents, and I’ll leave it to their surrogates to make a case for each of them. However, if I can personally appeal to Book, I have one message:

Don’t do it.

If asked by Gillum to be his running mate, politely but surely decline.

Lauren, you’re bigger and better than LG.

Book was recently re-election without opposition to a second term in the Florida Senate, where she has already demonstrated herself to be a capable leader willing to speak out against bullies (like former Sen. Jack Latvala) and for those who need a champion.

With her powerful father as her top cheerleader, Book is a political powerhouse, able to raise millions of dollars for any campaign on which she works.

It’s easy to understand why Gillum would want her as a running mate. She’s forcefully intelligent, telegenic, hardworking, and a prodigious fundraiser.

Gillum and Book on stage next to each other would communicate to many voters that this is not your father’s Democratic Party.

But Book should resist any entreaties to get up on that stage with Gillum.

First of all, she has more power in the Florida Senate, especially if the Democrats win the majority, than she would as Lieutenant Governor. The valets at the Governors Club have more juice than the occupant of LG’s office.

Second, Gillum’s chances of winning are, at best fifty-fifty. Book would have to give up her safe Senate seat to roll the dice with Gillum.

Third, whether Gillum wins or loses, Book’s time will come. If Gillum wins, she can be his staunch ally in the Senate and run in eight years when she’ll still probably be the youngest person on the ballot. If Gillum loses, Book is one of the front-runners to be the party’s nominee in 2022.

The bottom line: Book has a lot to lose just for a flipped coin’s chance of winning one of the worst jobs in Tallahassee.

Don’t do it, Senator.

Andrew Gillum: Gwen Graham ‘in the mix’ for LG pick

Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum and second-place finisher Gwen Graham ran tough campaigns against each other in the Democratic primary, but Gillum allowed Monday that Graham is “in the mix” for the Lieutenant Governor spot on the ticket.

The decision must be made by Thursday. Gillum is reportedly considering Graham, former U.S. Rep. Patrick MurphyLauren Book, state Reps. Kristin Jacobs and Amy Mercado, and Palm Beach County Mayor Melissa McKinlay.

Speaking to media Monday in Jacksonville, Gillum didn’t sound like he was done with his vetting process. Yet, despite the sometimes chippy nature of the primary sparring between the two camps, Graham (the presumptive nominee until the ballots started rolling in from metropolitan areas) could be on the ticket, Gillum said.

Gillum described the LG pick as his “number one priority at this time.”

“Gwen is in the mix, of course,” Gillum said. “I’d say anyone who ran for governor is also in the mix.”

Whether Gillum will ultimately pick Graham or another primary rival such as Philip Levine or Chris King, remains to be seen.

However, for those who believe the ticket would be stronger with Graham — a strong draw with moderates and Blue Dog Democrats — there is still hope.

Andrew Gillum releases behind-the-scenes footage of election night

An upset win from the victor’s perspective is depicted in a new video released by the Andrew Gillum campaign on Thursday.

The quick turnaround — Gillum won Tuesday evening — makes the short worthy of a watch; those who followed the primary election results pile in know the Tallahassee mayor looked ill-fated early on, trailing perceived frontrunner Gwen Graham before precincts really began reporting their results.

The video’s story arc is a microcosm of Gillum’s campaign thus far: the longshot underdog who overcame doubt to prevail.

Slow pans of the video show Gillum awaiting the results in an intimate setting, joined only by family, friends and his closest campaign advisors, like consultant Kevin Cate.  

Skeptical day-of media clips are on the audio track, with journalists saying things like, “The … average of recent polls shows Graham leading by 7 points over Philip Levine and by 12 points over Jeff Greene, with Andrew Gillum and Chris King running fourth and fifth.”

And: “Gwen Graham leading the way, she’s been leading in the polls pretty much all along, and she’s up with 36 percent…”

Then the video pivots. Gillum, seen pacing around the room, is optimistic. At one point he was trailing Graham by 2 points, with Broward County’s results yet to unfold.

“The Holy Grail of votes,” Gillum says in the video.

When Gillum takes the lead, his face says it all: disbelief, bliss and pride. He goes on to deliver a fiery acceptance speech as the nominee.

Gwen Graham took 44 counties in defeat

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham won 44 counties in Tuesday’s primary election but lost as nominee Andrew Gillum carried heavily populated Democratic strongholds, unofficial results show.

Graham, a former congresswoman from Tallahassee, dominated in rural counties and many mid-sized counties but won in only one of the eight most heavily populated counties — Pinellas. Gillum, meanwhile, won 18 counties, including voter-rich Broward, Duval, Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, Orange and Palm Beach counties.

In Broward, for example, Gillum beat Graham by a 37,500-vote margin; in Miami-Dade, he topped her by a 33,145-vote margin; and in Duval, he had a 21,719-vote margin. Statewide, Gillum defeated Graham by 47,043 votes, the results show.

The third-place candidate in the five-person race, former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, won five counties — Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades and Lee.

PredictIt sours on Democratic flip after Andrew Gillum nomination

Political prediction markets flipped forecasts on whether Democrats would take the governor’s mansion one day after Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum’s surprise win as the nominee.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Republican Ron DeSantis was selling at 57 cents on PredictIt; Gillum is selling for 45.

That said, Gillum beat the market on Tuesday night by quite a bit. At the time, PredictIt had Gillum selling at 5 cents, with former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham the favorite at 79 cents and former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine at 20 cents.

Though notably, the market flipped by midday, with Gillum jumping up 46 cents in price and selling ahead of Graham 56 cents to 50, so an apparent “Gillum Surge” happened late in the markets as well as the polls.

DeSantis, in contrast, shocked nobody with his landslide victory of the GOP side. As the favorite candidate of President Donald Trump, the markets in advance of the primary selling a DeSantis victory at 87 cents and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam at 16.

But investors pegged the general election as a dead heat as of yesterday, and on August 24, a Democratic win traded for 60 cents to a Republican victory priced at 44 cents.

The change in the dynamic over 24 hours was enough for PredictIt to note the shift on social media channels.

But oddly, even as PredictIt’s buyers turned bullish on DeSantis, accompanying comments on the market were almost entirely pro-Gillum, with many seeing the progressive candidate as a representative of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ viability.

Incidentally, the Predict market for the U.S. Senate today remains gloomy for Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, whose re-election trades at 43 cents, but that’s a 4-cent boost from yesterday following Gov. Rick Scott’s formal election as the Republican nominee.

PredictIt markets show Republicans chances of holding the U.S. Senate remain the safe bet at 75 cents, with a Democratic takeover at 26 cents.

But the market does predict Democrats will take the U.S. House, with that outcome trading at 66 cents and Republicans holding the chamber trading at 36 cents.

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