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Rick Scott takes Puerto Rico praise, defends red tide efforts

If Puerto Rico didn’t get what it neaded after Hurricane Maria, that’s a learning experience for everyone and doesn’t reflect on all that Florida Gov. Rick Scott did, and if Florida is experiencing its worst red tides in decades, that doesn’t reflect all that Scott did either.

At a U.S. Senate campaign rally in the Puerto Rico sector of Orlando Tuesday, Scott defended his administration’s record for addressing the water management issues that lead to the Lake Okeechobee discharges, and his administration’s increased investments in efforts to study address  the  algae blooms. But he also  blamed nature for the red tides and said for now only easterly winds could fix them.

Scott also took praise for his administration’s efforts to help Puerto Rico from the commonwealth’s Lt. Gov. Luis Rivera Marín  and other supportive Puerto Ricans in Orlando, who said he helped make life easer for Puerto Ricans on the island and for those who evacuated to Florida.

“It was thanks to the leadership of Rick Scott, a friend, a friend of Puerto Rico,” Rivera Marín said.

And during a brief press availability Scott highlighted Florida’s efforts to help its neighbor, and allowed that if the hurricane response was not all it could be, it was a learning experience.  He declined to say much more in response to a question about the federal response to Puerto Rico’s difficult recovery. He also did not elaborate on the statements he made last week disagreeing with President Donald Trump. who had suggested all went well, and that death counts were exaggerated by his political opponents.

“What you do is you learn,” Scott said of the response to Hurricane Maria, which hit a year ago Thursday.

“I think all of us can do a better job of, one, getting services faster to Puerto Rico. We know it’s more difficult because it’s an island. We could pre-position things better,” Scott said. “Clearly the island has been struggling with a utility system that was already struggling…. But we have got to get services there faster. Hopefully, everybody has learned how to do that.

“As a U.S. Senator, I’ll do everything I can to help build their economy,” Scott added.

There was no mention during the brief rally of the red tides that plague Florida and led to Scott facing large protests in his home terrotory of southwest Florida earlier, except from a media question. And on that, too, Scott suggested his administration was doing all that could be expected and more, touting increases over time in environmental spending. He also took shots at his opponent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, whom he said was doing nothing in Washington.

But ultimately Scott blamed nature, and said that the only thing that could help now is easterly winds.

“It’s horrible. The red tide is horrible,” Scott said. “I think all of us hope the red tide would be gone. It’s naturally occuring. It’s part of the gulf. It’s been around. We’ve had records of it since the 1840s. We’ve done a lot. But it’s not gone, right?

“We need really good easterly winds right now,” he added.

As for the protesters who reportedly all but overwhelmed his stops in southwest Florida, Scott offered that they were exercizing their rights.

After the rally, at the Rigo Tile Gallery Orlando, there were just a dozen or so protesters of the state’s response to the red tides and algae blooms. The protesters actually may have caused less of a scene than a few heated exchanges that took place prior to the rally in the overwhelmed parking lot, as the campaign’s advance people tried to control the flow, with traffic gridlocking in the lot and backing up onto the busy Goldenrod Road.

Republican ‘Victory Dinner’ to take place in Orlando

The semi-annual largest fundraising event for Florida Republicans will happen in Orlando this year.

On Saturday, Sept. 29, Republicans from across the state will come together at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa for the 2018 Victory Dinner, the Republican Party of Florida announced Monday.

“Donors and influential grassroots operatives” are expected to attend, according to the party.

It’s considered the Florida GOP’s largest fundraising event. In 2016, during the last Victory Dinner, Vice President Mike Pence spoke to the audience. Then a candidate, Pence likely had sought to rally donors in the swing state. That event was held in Tampa.

RPOF Chairman Blaise Ingoglia said in a statement he is excited and ready to ride a “red wave” to victory.

“We look forward to our stellar candidates and their vision for a more prosperous Sunshine State rallying the heart and soul of our party,” Ingoglia said. “And we look forward to energizing our grassroots for the final stretch before heading to the polls to retain the Governor’s Mansion and add a seat in the U.S. Senate.”

In another memo released Monday, the party claims to have raised $7,671,060 since the Aug. 28 primary.

Central Florida house district election debates: four on, three off

Updated with news of a House District 50 debate.

A Central Florida organization teaming with WFTV Channel 9 to produce elections debates for Orlando-area Florida House districts has firmed up four and has three others falling through because of lack of commitments from Republican candidates, an organizer said Friday.

Gregory Eisenberg, chief executive officer of The Commission on Local Debates, said Friday his group and Channel 9 had secured commitments allowing them to produce debates for House District 30, between Republican state Rep. Bob Cortes and his Democratic challenger Maitland City Councilwoman Joy Goff-Marcil; for House District 44 between Republican state Rep. Bobby Olszewski and his Democratic challenger former state Sen. Geraldine Thompson; for House District 48 between Democratic state Rep. Amy Mercado and her Republican challenger George Chandler. and for House District 50 between Republican state Rep. Rene Plasencia and his Democratic challenger Pam Dirschka.

The debates will be filmed in the TV station’s studios and made available to other media. Dates and times are yet to be announced.

Efforts to organize debates for three other races, in House Districts 31, 47, and 49, have fallen through, Eisenberg said.

In HD 31, the Democratic challenger Debra Kaplan said yes, while Republican state Rep. Jennifer Sullivan said no, he said.

In HD 47, Democratic nominee Anna Eskamani said yes, while Republican nominee Stockton Reeves did not respond to requests, he said.

In HD 49, Democratic state Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith said yes, while Republican challenger Ben Griffin said no, he said.

“It is very disappointing for me personally as a former candidate,” said Eisenberg, who ran unsuccessfully for the Orange County Commission in 2016. “I’m of the opinion that if you are going to run for office, you should be willing to air your viewpoints.”

Andrew Gillum at Orlando rally: Cowardly Donald Trump ‘won’t @ me, y’all’; RNC responds

Andrew Gillum, Democratic candidate for governor, told an Orlando crowd Saturday that President Donald Trump fearfully avoids him on social media.

“The president is real savvy on his Twitter feed. He tends to talk about me in Montana and other places,” Gillum said. “But he’s unfortunately a little cowardly. He won’t @ me, y’all.”

Indeed, the only time Trump has mentioned Gillum via Twitter came when he congratulated Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis for winning Florida’s GOP primary. Then, Trump called Gillum a “Socialist Mayor” who let crime flourish in Tallahassee. But he failed to use Gillum’s Twitter handle, @AndrewGillum, which would have sent a notification to the Democratic candidate.

Regardless, Gillum did see the tweet, and he (or campaign team members managing his Twitter account) offered a response 13 minutes after Trump’s original post that did employ the president’s favored handle.

Republican National Committee officials, for their part, say Trump had Gillum pegged, and said an FBI investigation of the Tallahassee mayor would bear that out.

“President Trump was correct when he called Gillum a ‘failed socialist mayor,’” said Taryn Fenske, RNC spokesperson.

Fenske alleged the FBI investigation would determine Gillum used his office for personal gain in accepting gifts from undercover agents and awarding lucrative contracts to his campaign treasurer. The Gillum campaign maintains the candidate is not the subject of the investigation but his critics have hammered him on an incomplete release of receipts.

“Gilllum has no idea how to run the city of Tallahassee, let alone the entire state of Florida,” Fenske said.

Trump came up Saturday at a Gillum’s official campaign kickoff, which drew about 1,200 people the Orlando Downtown Recreation Center to hear he and running mate Chris King, as well as U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, rally supporters around the Democratic ticket’s message of restoring dignity to Florida’s working class.

In Gillum’s speech, he spoke more often about Trump and outgoing Gov. Rick Scott, now the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, than he did of DeSantis.

But he did mention his Republic opponent in an effort to tie him more directly to the president.

“Ron DeSantis wants to call names. He wants to divide,” Gillum said. “He wants to return to the politics of Donald Trump. But on Nov. 6, Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump, they have another thing coming.”

While Gillum won the nomination largely through winning strong Florida’s major cities, he told supporters in Orlando he planned to campaign everywhere in the state leading up to the general election.

He referenced a primary visit to The Villages, a Republican bastion, where he said around 500 people showed up. “Almost none of them with a face that looked like mine, but that’s okay,” said Gillum, the first black Democratic nominee for governor.

The event, he said, turned into a small-donation fundraiser and his campaign pulled in about $6,000.

In terms of succeeding Scott in the governor’s mansion, DeSantis said he would accept money to expand Medicaid and any federal grants for high-speed rail, money he said Florida turned down because of a dislike of ObamaCare and the Obama stimulus.

He also promised to trust scientists on climate change and global warming.

But in an apparent pushback on that ‘socialist’ label from Trump and others, he also stressed the importance of business owners getting access to capital and promised to make Florida a leader in innovation in the nation.

See Gillum’s full speech here:

Republicans: This election is stark choice of capitalism versus radicalism

Led by blistering attacks from Gov. Rick Scott, Republican candidates kicked off their unity rally in Orlando Thursday morning declaring that this year’s election offers stark choices that boil down to capitalism versus socialism.

Scott, the nominee for U.S. Senate; gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis; the rest of Florida’s cabinet; and the rest of the Republican Party’s nominees for the cabinet took turns Friday attacking Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum and other Democrats as radical, bent on destroying Florida’s economy and the state.

“When I was in the private sector I recalled many times that it seemed like the two political parties didn’t have very different choices. That’s not the case here in Florida today,” Scott said. “This election offers voters the starkest choice possible for the direction and the future of our state and the country. The Democratic ticket of Bill Nelson and Andrew Gillum offering a very clear, a very liberal, a very radical and a very risky direction.”

“I am the capitalist candidate for Governor for the state of Florida,” DeSantis later declared.

The event oozed unity after primary battles that left some Republicans broken and broken-hearted. On Thursday, Attorney General nominee Ashley Moody, Agriculture Commissioner nominee Matt Caldwell, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, and Attorney General Pam Bondi all called for Republican voters to support GOP candidates.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and DeSantis shared a warm handshake and a call to “rally behind our values as Republicans.”

There were, however, a couple of key Republican leaders conspicuous by their absences. The first was Republican Party of Florida Chair Blaise Ingoglia, who continued his refusal to share a dais with Scott.

The other was President Donald Trump, who, in an hour of speeches, was mentioned only once, only in passing, and not by DeSantis, his pick in Florida, nor by Scott, who seeks to join him in Washington and had previously boasted of having a close relationship with him.

Scott and others planned to join Vice President Mike Pence at private events later on Thursday, but Pence was not scheduled to join the Florida Republican unity rally.

The theme was to build on the records of Scott, Bondi, Putnam, and Caldwell, pushing for lower taxes, deregulation, and tougher law enforcement, which was largely defined as enforcement of immigration laws. Much was made of Florida’s economy, job growth, lower taxes, and lower unemployment. Scott also defended his records on education and the environment, which have been sharply targeted by Democrats.

“I think the appropriate course of action is to see what has worked here, build off of that, and enjoy even more success,” DeSantis said. “My opponent, Andrew Gillum, would really want to stop that and reverse all the progress we’ve made.

“If you want to bring more investment to Florida, you probably don’t want to campaign on the biggest tax increase in Florida’s history,” DeSantis said.

From there, DeSantis and Scott charged Gillum with socialist ideas, particularly involving health care, and warnings that would strip private health care plans away from Floridians, bankrupt the state, and send Florida tax money to states like California and New York.

DeSantis also accused Gillum of “radicalism” in calling for the abolishment and replacement of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and in his statements regarding Israel. DeSantis called him anti-Israel for opposing the move of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, something DeSantis helped champion in Congress.

“I think he believes Jerusalem should be divided,” DeSantis charged. “He criticizes Israel, he said they were committing murder when they were defending themselves against Hamas terrorists who were overrunning the border on the Gaza Strip. That is not representative of Florida values. I’ve always stood by Israel. I will be the most pro-Israel governor in the country.”

Scott, too, attacked Gillum and explicitly charged him with preaching socialism. His attacks on his own opponent, Nelson, was more often by association with Gillum and the Democrats, though he did take a very personal shot at the incumbent U.S. Senator.

“If you grew up wealthy like Bill Nelson, it’s all theory, it’s just about numbers,” Scott said of people struggling to make ends meet. “I grew up poor.”

Jeanette Nuñez’s anti-Trump comments are ‘non-issue,’ Ron DeSantis says

A running mate whose anti-Donald Trump comments surfaced after she was chosen by President Trump’s strong choice for Governor of Florida?

“That’s a non-issue,” U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis said of state Rep. Jeanette Nuñez Thursday.

DeSantis, who rode Trump’s endorsement from 10 points down in most polls to an easy Republican gubernatorial primary victory over Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, introduced Nuñez of Miami to run for lieutenant governor on his ticket. And then he dismissed any notion that she at least once was a fervent member of the #NeverTrump wing of the Republican Party.

In at least one 2016 tweet, Nuñez called Trump a con man and accused him of supporting the Ku Klux Klan.

Water over the bridge of past elections, and that’s what you say in primaries when you like the other guy, Nuñez and DeSantis said on Thursday.

“We’re talking about moving Florida forward. Elections are elections. It is what it is. It’s no secret that I was a strong Marco Rubio supporter, but that election is done and I’m looking forward to this election,” she said, referring to Florida’s junior U.S. Senator.

“To support Marco Rubio, a favorite son, a Cuban-American, a historic run, to me, if I was in her shoes, I probably would have been supporting Marco as well. So that’s a non-issue,” DeSantis said.

Of course, DeSantis had cut no slack for Putnam after he also had said negative things about Trump during the 2016 election cycle. Putnam also supported a favorite-son candidate from Florida in the 2016 Republican presidential primary, former Gov. Jeb Bush. Putnam tried hard to walk it back during the primary campaign, while DeSantis ripped him repeatedly for his anti-Trump remarks in 2016.

That’s different, DeSantis insisted Thursday.

“He was running saying, like, he was basically Trump’s guy. And I just thought it was more insincere,” he said. “Jeanette is standing by what she said. She’s just saying it’s a different contest.”

Mike Pence to headline Orlando fundraiser for Rick Scott

Vice President Mike Pence will headline a fundraiser for Senate candidate Rick Scott on Thursday in Orlando.

Palm Beach philanthropist Darlene Jordan and Texas GOP donor Tom Hicks, Jr. will host the event, which has a suggested contribution level of  $250 for individuals.

A specific location for the Sept. 6 “afternoon reception” has yet to be released. The event happens the same day as Scott’s “Let’s Get to Work: Kickoff to November!” press conference with state elected officials.

Scott and Pence have appeared together in Orlando in the past. The Florida governor last year joined the vice president for a business roundtable at the Correct Craft factory last year to promote President Donald Trump’s tax cut proposal.

At the time, Pence stressed a message of helping “job creators,” a theme much in line with Rick Scott’s “Let’s Get to Work” message that fueled his two terms as Florida’s top elected official.

“It’s the jobs creators that are here today that we feel the greatest debt to, men and women that put their resources and time on the line to create opportunities,” Pence said then.

Now, Scott is challenging three-term Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in the November general election.

Scott, of course, proved a valuable ally to now-President Donald Trump in 2016, when the Republican ticket carried Florida in the presidential election.

Trump publicly stated during visits to Florida last year he hoped Scott would run for Senate.

But since announcing his run in April, Scott has kept a cautious distance from the currently unpopular president. But even while Trump has been unpopular generally, he’s at record levels of popularity among Republicans.

Pence, incidentally, has been consistently more popular than Trump.

Jordan, executive director of the Gerald R. Jordan Foundation, has been a close Scott ally for years.

The governor appointed her in 2016 to the State University System of Florida’s board of governors. Last year, Scott named Jordan to the Florida Constitution Revision Commission.

Hicks, a partner at Hicks Holdings, served as national finance co-chair for Trump’s presidential campaign and as vice chairman of the finance committee for the 2017 Presidential Inauguration.

Democrats join Andrew Gillum, vowing to ‘bring it home’

Gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum‘s rallying cry — “bring it home” — may be embraced by the entire Democratic Party as it heads into the fall elections.

Democrats — including Bill Nelson, Sean Shaw, Nikki Fried and Jeremy Ring — rallied in Orlando Friday to kick off statewide fall campaigns.

Gillum, just days removed from his surprising primary upset, repeated his oft-told tale about how his grandmother used to send him to school with the message about the education he was to receive, advising him to “bring it home.”

With those cabinet candidates and dozens of other Democratic officeholders and hopefuls — including former Gillum opponents Gwen Graham, Philip Levine, and Chris King — in the crowd of a packed union hall in Orlando, the chant thundered.

Bring it home.

The refrain highlighted a two-hour rally at the International Union of Painters & Allied Trades Local 1010 Union Hall in Orlando, as Democrats from Party Chair Terrie Rizzo down through the list of speakers declared this would be the year the party changed its losing ways in state elections. This was the year things would be different from the past twenty.

Of course, much the same was said four years ago, albeit perhaps with less sincerity, at the exact same union hall, in a near-identical post-primary party rally, which launched the failed 2014 fall campaigns of Charlie Crist, George Sheldon, Will Rankin and Thad Hamilton.

In many ways, this rally was Gillum’s coming out party after an 18-month campaign that didn’t put him up top until Tuesday’s win. However, by Friday he was clearly a party leader.

Ring entered the fall campaign for state Chief Financial Officer. Fried did so for Agriculture Commissioner. Shaw, Attorney General and Nelson for re-election to the U.S. Senate.

But they all spoke as much about Gillum as themselves. So did Graham, Levine and King.

“I asked to be here to speak before Andrew so that I could introduce Andrew and say that all those things that Rick Scott has done in the last eight years, we’re going to reverse that with Andrew Gillum!” Nelson declared, referring to his opponent in the U.S. Senate election.

In praising Gillum, Ring held nothing back.

“The amazing Andrew Gillum is the most electric, electric candidate I’ve ever said. And he’s going to bring us all to victory,” Ring said.

“Andrew Gillum is dynamic,” added King. “Andrew Gillum is the talent that our party has waited for so long.”

In the backdrop of the positivity on Friday, however, was the ongoing FBI investigation into corruption in Tallahassee.

Gillum has maintained for months that he is not implicated in the probe, but Ron DeSantis, his Republican opponent, already is making a campaign issue out of the matter.

The DeSantis campaign, which paints Gillum as a “socialist,” on Friday released an email accusing the Democrat’s brother, Marcus, of being involved in the FBI investigation.

“Something’s up. And the voters of Florida deserve answers from Andrew Gillum, preferably before the FBI gives them to us,” DeSantis communications director Stephen Lawson said in an email.

When asked about the corruption probe by reporters Friday, Gillum reiterated that he is not the subject of the inquiry and emphasized that he is willing to provide any information sought by the federal investigators, before pointing the finger at Trump.

“I believe that the difference between Ron DeSantis as how we address the FBI is, we have said, should there be any wrongdoing, we welcome them into our government to get to the bottom of it. I believe that they are clear on what their target is, and that should come to a conclusion soon,” Gillum said Friday.

But amid investigations involving Trump’s 2016 campaign and associates, DeSantis and Trump’s response to the FBI “is to undermine them, cut them off at every turn,” Gillum said.

“Even the president has gone so far as to suggest a ‘deep state.’ That is not how we handled it. We said, you’ve got an important job to do. Nobody wants more to make sure that any actions that are taken that are inappropriate, illegal, or inconsistent with the laws of this state, that people are held fully accountable. That’s my position on it. And I’ll do whatever I can, as mayor, to ensure that they get access to whatever they need in order to bring that to a conclusion,” he said.

Some material from the News Service of Florida is used in this article, with permission.

Brightline gets state approval to sell construction bonds

All Aboard Florida received state approval Wednesday to sell $1.75 billion in federal private equity bonds to extend its private, high-speed, Brightline passenger train system from South Florida to Orlando.

Meeting in Orlando, the Florida Development Finance Corp. board voted unanimously to grant state permission for the financing after more than three hours of public testimony that included opponents warning that the bonds were illegal under federal rules and the project unwise; and proponents arguing that a high-speed passenger train is just what Florida needs, and the private investment is exactly what such bonds were supposed to support.

The sides were drawn mainly with opponents coming from the ride-over counties along Florida’s Atlantic Coast who’ve been upset about potential safety problems from a 110-mph train and the hidden costs that communities will have to bear.

Brightline trains already are running between Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. The financing package would refinance the $600 million All Aboard Florida already has spent on that system with the lower interest-rate federal private equity bonds, and use the other $1.15 million to upgrade or build new railroad tracks to connect West Palm Beach to the Orlando International Airport.

“The bonds do not pose any risk to taxpayers, counties or the state. … However, these bonds will assist us in financing our system, will generate positive economic impact throughout the state of Florida,” Brightline President Patrick Goddard told the board.

All that’s left holding up the plan now is litigation.

Members of Congress, the Florida Legislature and county and city commissions mainly from the Treasure Coast urged the board to reject the request, while members of Congress, the Florida Legislature and county and city commissions from the Orlando area and elsewhere rooted for the project.

“The board here is about economic development for the entire state of Florida overall,” FDFC Board Chair Daniel Davis, president of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce. “From our standpoint, in terms of economic development, I haven’t heard anyone that’s out of the economic development field here today say this is a bad idea. … And I see that as the goal of what we are here for as the board.”

That wasn’t an entirely accurate observation, as critics of the project, including representatives of the group Citizens Against Rail Expansion in Florida, raised concerns about the financial viability of All Aboard Florida, citing economic studies. But mostly their concerns focused on whether the Treasure Coast counties ought to be burdened with the high risks and expenses they predicted so that South Florida and Orlando could be connected by high-speed trains running through their communities.

Politics divided much of the hearing, but mostly along geographic, not party lines. Democratic state Rep. Amy Mercado and Democratic U.S. Reps. Darren Soto and Val Demings joined forces with fellow Central Florida lawmakers Republican state Reps. Jason Brodeur, Mike Miller, Rene Plasencia and Tom Goodson and others in support; while Republican U.S. Reps. Brian Mast and Bill Posey, Republican state Sen. Debbie Mayfield, and Republican state Reps. Erin Grall and MaryLynn Magar, among others, urged the board to reject All Aboard Florida’s financing plan.

CARE-Florida attorney Steve Ryan sought to convince the board that a Congressional hearing last spring, featuring Mast and Posey, concluded that the deal was not structured as federal law requires, and is illegal. His group and Martin and Indian River counties already are suing in federal court to get the proposal declared illegal.

Ryan charged that politics was fast-tracking the train, and he suggested that Gov. Rick Scott may be behind it, with a potential conflict of interest from his personal investment portfolio, outlined in his federal financial disclosure reports this summer.

“We now know that the governor is an investor in Fortress Investment Bank which owns the railroad, and of course he had to know that when he made the investment. So the whiff that people on the Treasure Coast have gotten is that the deal is done; that the powers that be have decided that this should be the way it should go,” Ryan said. “But from a legal standpoint, you should await the decision of the United States District Court before you decide this issue.”

Mayfield also implied that the project was being politically expedited, charging that the board was considering the request without having key information that she charged All Aboard Florida still is withholding.

“Frankly I’m a little surprised that despite being short on details, you scheduled this meeting for the day after a primary election, which I find to be troubling. It continues to show a pattern by the FDFC to hold these meetings with little or no input from the public,” Mayfield said. “It seems All Aboard Florida is setting the board’s agenda.”

In fact, there were scores of speakers from the public, many of them from Orlando, heralding the project.

“The potential of the cities of Tampa, Oralndo and Miami to be connected is a game-changer,” Mercado said, alluding the prospect that All Aboard Florida’s next phase might be to connect Orlando to Tampa.

“This not only creates 2,000 jobs and $2.4 billion in economic impact directly because of Brightline, but it creates billions of dollars of jobs and job opportunities in Miami, West Palm, Orlando and throughout our state,” Miller said.

American Bridge launches first anti-Ron DeSantis ad of the fall

Calling Ron DeSantis a “yes man” for President Donald Trump, the Democratic super PAC American Bridge is launching the first attack ad of the Florida fall governor’s race, with an internet video mocking DeSantis’s praise for the president.

The 54-second video, “DeSantis: Trump’s Yes Man,” signals that while Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum may be vowing to not make Trump much of an issue this fall, outside Democratic groups will be more than happy to do so on Gillum’s behalf.

The video shows clips of DeSantis praising Trump, each followed by clips of Trump saying or doing something that mocks DeSantis’s statement. The issues run from Trump’s frequent golf outings to his relationship with Russia President Vladimir Putin.

American Bridge, closely associated with the Democratic Party and heavily funded by New York billionaire George Soros, contends in a news release that the ad is part of a campaign aimed at painting DeSantis as someone focused on appeasing Trump, “not helping Florida families.”

It begins running Wednesday on social media in Tampa, Orlando, and Miami and American Bridge said it is targeted to swing voters.

“Ron DeSantis has been a spineless yes-man for Donald Trump in Washington, and he’d continue to be one as Governor,” American Bridge spokesperson Zach Hudson stated in the news release. “Ron DeSantis voted for Trump’s tax giveaway to the wealthy, supported Trump’s plan to take away health care from millions of Floridians, and seems more interested in defending Trump from a Washington television studio than improving the lives of Florida families. This November, Florida voters will elect a Governor who will finally put Florida first, not a Trump yes-man like Ron DeSantis.”

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