Rick Scott Archives - Page 4 of 372 - Florida Politics

Jacksonville Bold for 9.14.18 — Time marches on

The primaries are now well behind us.

The parties have unified. Ops for losing candidates have moved into other campaigns (or endeavors).

If you pay attention, there is — at times — a crispness in the morning air.

And while that coolness may be fleeting, it’s an augury of the inevitable march of time.

The days will shorten. By late October, we will have a sense of who is in the best position to win state races — including a state House and a local Congressional race, each of which could be an augury of the oft-discussed “blue wave.”

Campaign season feels endless during the primary slog. But as we get inside of eight weeks before the general election, the news cycles speed up, and what was hypothetical moves ever closer toward the inevitable.

DeSantis leaves Congress

Per Fox News, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis has resigned from Congress, with the pressures of the gubernatorial campaign requiring a full-time commitment to the race.

More of this for Ron DeSantis.

DeSantis, whose district runs from St. Johns County south past Daytona, was a third-term Republican.

DeSantis sent a letter Monday to House Speaker Paul Ryan announcing his immediate resignation.

“As the Republican nominee for Governor of Florida, it is clear to me that I will likely miss the vast majority of our remaining session days for this Congress. Under these circumstances, it would be inappropriate for me to accept a salary,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis’ Democratic opponent, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, has not indicated he would resign his post in kind.

Soderberg builds momentum

While it’s by no means certain that Ambassador Nancy Soderberg will be successful in her Congressional bid, the facts are that she is showing a lot of strength as the general election campaign kicks off.

Nancy Soderberg expects to win the money race in CD 6.

Soderberg’s campaign crossed the $2 million threshold on the strength of over 7,500 contributions this election cycle, a campaign release trumpeted Monday.

“We continue to be blown away by the grassroots support driving our campaign,” Soderberg said.

Soderberg’s Republican opponent, Mike Waltz, a former Green Beret and aide to VP Dick Cheney, has raised over $1 million for the campaign, and doesn’t expect to have to raise that much to beat Soderberg in a district that has voted Republican in the last two election cycles, including +17 for President Donald Trump.

On Monday, Soderberg’s campaign produced a poll showing the race too close to call. Waltz’s campaign was skeptical, suggesting that Democrats may have been oversampled to get that result.

Bean cash haul

State Sen. Aaron Bean, whose district encompasses Nassau and part of Duval County, crossed the $200,000 cash on hand threshold as of his latest finance report.

Four more years? We’ll know in eight weeks.

Bean brought in $2,525 to his campaign account and $6,666 to that of his Florida Conservative Alliance political committee between Aug. 24 — 31. He has just over $100,000 in his campaign account and another $102,000+ in his committee kitty.

The Jacksonville Association of Firefighters donated the maximum $1,000 to his campaign account, offering the most locally notable name on his donor roll.

Regarding the $6,666 to his committee account, that came from Spring Hill Hospital and Brooksville Hospital, both sharing an address in Antioch, Tennessee.

Bean’s opponents face cash flow deficits compared to the incumbent.

Democrat Billee Bussard, a Jacksonville journalist of long standing, raised $1,660 in the week between Aug. 24 — 31. She has nearly $5,000 on hand.

Libertarian Joanna Tavares has not raised money, and has $40 on hand.

Senate District 4 has a strong GOP plurality. Of its just over 360,000 voters, almost 175,000 are Republicans, with 94,000+ Democrats and the rest being NPAs.

Polson builds cash lead 

Democrat Tracye Polson is confident in her ability to take what is now a Republican-held seat in House District 15, and that confidence will only be bolstered after the latest financial reports in the race.

The Blue Wave may spill over the banks of the St. Johns into Jacksonville’s Westside.

During the period from Aug. 24 to 31, Polson stretched her lead over Wyman Duggan, a Republican lobbyist whose backing from the Jacksonville establishment has not translated into winning the money race.

Polson brought in $6,042 to her campaign account, giving her $145,000+ in hard money. She also raised $3,100 for her committee account, which now has $41,000 on hand.

Duggan, conversely, raised $187,000 ahead of a primary, which he won with just 40 percent of the vote despite being the only candidate on television, with over $100,000 committed to ads where Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry vouched for the candidate.

He has less than $7,000 on hand now, with no money raised in the week after the primary. Polson has, at least for the moment, a more than 25-to-1 cash on hand edge over the establishment candidate.

Despite the cash lead, expect Polson to keep pushing. She knows that the machine never runs out of gas.

Fischer draws $11K in one week

While Duggan may have some issues, another Curry ally is winning his own fundraising war.

Jason Fischer isn’t wasting time amassing resources against a Dem challenger.

State Rep. Jason Fischer, a first-term Republican from Jacksonville, faces a general election challenge — and judging from the first week of post-primary fundraising, he takes it seriously.

Between his campaign account and that of his political committee, Conservative Solutions for Jacksonville, Fischer brought in $11,000 in the week leading up to Aug. 31, giving him roughly $200,000 on hand as he faces his first election against Democratic opposition.

Fischer’s campaign account saw $10,000 of the action, buoyed by donors with organizational interests, including the National Federation of Independent Businesses, Rep. Travis Hutson‘s First Coast Business Foundation political committee, and the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Fischer’s opponent, retired CSX lifer Ken Organes, is at a cash disadvantage, with just over $31,000 on hand as of Aug. 31.

HD 16 is decidedly GOP, with 55,612 Republicans compared to 35,750 Democrats and 27,788 NPA voters.

Curry favored by donors, again

Curry has raised over $2.5 million for his re-election bid next year, after $221,000 in August receipts between his campaign account and that of his Jacksonville on the Rise political committee.

Lenny Curry calls this part of the campaign ‘just staying warm.’

Curry’s campaign account took in $33,000 of that number; it now has $428,730 raised, with over $414,000 on hand. The committee raked in $188,000, boosting it to $2.138 million raised and $1.66 million on hand.

The committee donors reflect a statewide interest in Curry’s re-election, exemplified best by the First Amendment Fund (a committee primarily funded by the committees of Sens. Joe Negron and Bill Galvano and Rep. Gayle Harrell) going $25,000 deep.

Local interest abounds also. The Rogers Towers funded Committee for Economic Development and Advocates for Business Growth accounts donated, as did the JAXBIZ political committee of the Jacksonville Chamber.

Thus far, Curry faces nominal competition for the March election. Between them, his four opponents have raised less than $2,500.

Speculation swirled that Jacksonville City Councilwoman Anna Brosche (a Republican like Curry) was to file this week, and some of those speculators contend she has over a million dollars in commitments should she run.

Former Times-Union columnist (and seeming future campaign asset) Ron Littlepage poured petrol onto the fire Monday evening.

Parental leave props

The conservative Washington Examiner lauded Jacksonville’s soon-to-be-ratified policy ensuring six weeks of parental leave for new biological parents under city employ.

National plaudits for Lenny Curry’s latest policy reform.

“Only three states require paid parental leave: Rhode Island, California, and New Jersey. This development in Florida is exceptional because the mayor has found a way to offer it to his employees, without being forced to, and in a way that doesn’t cost taxpayers additional funds,” the Examiner contends.

“Paid parental leave is a controversial topic, particularly among conservatives, who are usually against it, because politicians usually want a state to force employers to offer it or raise taxes to pay for it,” the editorial continues, noting that Curry’s friend Marco Rubio is one of the few conservatives to push for the policy on a federal level.

Firefighters make NYC trip

WJXT offered the best report in the local market on last weekend’s trip to New York for the Jaguars’ season opener. Curry and local firefighters were on hand.

Lenny Curry with fire union members before the Jags’ season opener.

Firefighters make the pilgrimage every year, commemorating the first responders whose lives were taken on 9/11/2001. This year, with the Jags playing in East Rutherford, things went a bit different, courtesy of Jaguar defender Malik Jackson.

“When he heard Jacksonville firefighters were going up to the 9/11 ceremony, he provided them with custom jerseys and tickets to the game between the Jaguars and Giants. He even met up with them on the sidelines for photos,” WJXT reports.

Morgan gets establishment nod

Jacksonville City Councilwoman Joyce Morgan faces a former two-term Councilman, Bill Bishop, in her re-election bid.

Joyce Morgan, a pragmatic Democrat, looks to have support from the machine against Bill Bishop.

After one month of running an active campaign, Morgan, a Democrat representing the Arlington area, has taken the cash lead over the stalled-out operation of Bishop, who is just three years removed from drawing nearly 20 percent citywide in the Mayor’s race.

The Morgan/Bishop race is the latest piece of evidence that political prominence in Jacksonville can be an ephemeral thing.

Bishop abandoned his citywide run for an easier race earlier this year, but Morgan’s early momentum suggests that even a district race may prove daunting for his political comeback.

From the Jacksonville Jaguars and owner Shad Khan to the powerful bestbet empire and the Fraternal Order of Police, what’s clear is that the donor class backs Morgan over Bishop.

Morgan raised $15,697 and has nearly $14,500 in hand after her first month’s fundraising, which puts her over the peripatetic Bishop operation, which continues to combine slow fundraising and high recurring costs.

Bishop has just over $12,000 on hand after 11 months of fundraising, including a $700 haul in August that merely defrayed some of the costs of his campaign consulting.

Bishop and Morgan are the only two candidates in the District 1 race.

Fiorentino, Delaney named Florida’s ‘most influential’

The Fiorentino Group’s Marty Fiorentino and John Delaney are among those listed on Florida Trend’s inaugural list of the 500 Most Influential Floridians.

In establishing the roster, Florida Trend began with categories used by the Bureau of Economic Analysis of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Also, there were some rules of thumb: No elected officials, and no more than three people from any one firm.

Marty Fiorentino
Mr. Influential, Marty Fiorentino.

Both Fiorentino and Delaney — a former Jacksonville Mayor and recently retired as president of the University of North Florida — made the cut in the category “professional services.”

“When I was chairman of the Jacksonville Port Authority, we created separate airport and seaport authorities,” Florida Trend quotes Fiorentino in his entry. “This was a big community issue and was greatly debated. It took a lot of outreach and advocacy to get this done.”

Delaney is noted as part of a “collaborative governmental relations effort between the Fiorentino Group, one of the city’s leading consulting and advocacy groups, and Rogers Towers, an old-line law firm that’s a fixture in Jacksonville.”

Personnel notes

Per the Jacksonville Daily Record, some big names have board action.

“The Jacksonville Port Authority elected four officers to its board of directors. Chair John Falconetti, chairman and CEO of Jacksonville-based Drummond Press Inc.; vice chair John Baker, executive chairman of FRP Holdings Inc.; treasurer Jamie Shelton, president of Bestbet Jacksonville; and secretary Wendy Hamilton, president, Eventide Investments of Florida Inc,” the JDR reports.

Additionally, “Kerri Stewart, JEA’s chief customer officer, joined Groundwork Jacksonville’s board of directors. Before joining JEA, Stewart served as chief of staff for Curry and chief administrative officer for Mayors John Peyton and Alvin Brown.

On the campaign side, Jenny Busby (the former aide to Tommy Hazouri and U.S. Rep. Al Lawson) will be on the ground this fall helping Polson in the HD 15 race. Busby is the second Hazouri aide to be enlisted in the Polson quest (Haleigh Hutchison being the first).

Groups unite for affordable senior housing

Aging True, a nonprofit organization that provides senior housing services, and Tampa workforce housing developer Blue Sky Communities are receiving $16.6 million in federal funding to renovate a third Aging True senior apartment building in downtown Jacksonville.

Cathedral Townhouse, a 50-year old 177-unit apartment building located at 501 North Ocean Street, will receive an update of its major building systems, life safety, accessibility, and energy efficiency. All units will receive new kitchens, lighting, flooring, and upgrades of plumbing and electrical systems and exterior painting. The work is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2019 and be completed by late next year.

Cathedral Terrace Apartments is getting a facelift.

Renovation of Cathedral Townhouse is the third Aging True senior affordable apartment building renovated by Blue Sky.

In 2016, Blue Sky completed a $10 million renovation of Cathedral Terrace, a 240-unit tower built in 1974 and located 701 North Ocean Street. Funding for the project came from Florida Housing Finance Corp. 4% tax credits, Jacksonville Housing Finance Authority and the City of Jacksonville State Housing Initiative Program (SHIP).

This year, Blue Sky will complete the $12 million in renovations for Cathedral Tower, a 203-unit apartment building located at 601 North Newnan Street that was built in 1968.

UNF named a ‘Best Regional University’

For the eighth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report has named the University of North Florida among its “best regional” universities in the South.

UNF was ranked No. 42 in the region this year, up six spots from last year. The university was also ranked No. 14 in the “Top Public Schools” list, No. 29 in the “Best Colleges for Veterans” list, No. 58 in the list of the “Best Value Schools,” and No. 82 in the list of “Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs.”

UNF: Among the nation’s best regional universities.

“I take great pride in being able to lead a university that is of the caliber of the University of North Florida,” UNF President David Szymanski told WJCT. “The University is showing up in nearly every national college ranking, putting UNF at the top of some very impressive lists. These accolades are a true testament to our outstanding faculty and staff as well as the talents of our phenomenal students.”

In its rankings, U.S. News & World Report use a combination of a school’s academic reputation, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources and alumni donations.

Jacksonville Zoo offers discounted admission for Hurricane Florence evacuees

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is offering $10 general admission to the Zoo to evacuees from Hurricane Florence. The discount applies at the gates to those with IDs from Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.

Hurricane Florence could bring 24 hours of hurricane conditions to Carolinas.

As Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens recovered from damage sustained from Hurricane Irma one year ago, the Zoo understands that routines can be disrupted, particularly when people are away from home and worried.

A day at the Zoo can be just the thing to lift spirits.

To entertain those seeking shelter from Florence, the zoo is celebrating the opening of the great ape African Forest exhibit, and Dinosauria in its final weeks. Also, the Fiesta del Jaguar event is set for Saturday, Sept. 15.

The Zoo would also like to extend good luck to all the zoos and aquariums in the path of the storm and the dedicated keepers who are there to take care of their animals.

For more information on the fun happenings at the Zoo, visit www.jacksonvillezoo.org.

Jags’ much-anticipated rematch with Patriots almost here

Sunday will mark 237 days since that Sunday afternoon in Foxborough, Massachusetts when the Jacksonville Jaguars were five minutes away from going to the Super Bowl. Jacksonville was hanging onto a 20-17 lead over the New England Patriots, but could not hang on long enough, especially with Tom Brady on the other side of the ball.

The lead should have been bigger earlier in the period when Jags’ linebacker Myles Jack stripped Dion Lewis of the ball for a fumble and had clear sailing into the end zone and a 27-10 lead. The officials inexplicably said Jack was down, so no touchdown and eventually, no Super Bowl.

For Jaguars fans, Myles Jack wasn’t down.

Jaguars’ fans have been waiting for Sunday’s appearance by Brady and the Patriots since the day the schedule was announced in the spring. So have the Jaguars’ players.

Myles Jack wasn’t down” shirts, posters and maybe even a flyover, will be present in and around TIAA Bank Stadium. The noise level will be as great as it has ever been.

In other words, imagine tens of thousands of Jalen Ramseys out there.

This is as good of a time as any to play the Patriots, who are without their star wide receiver Julian Edelman as he serves a four-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. Other Patriots are also dinged up, but all-world tight end Rob Gronkowski is ready to go and will be targeted early and often by Brady.

For the Jaguars, workhorse running back Leonard Fournette is nursing a sore hamstring, which could press T.J. Yeldon and Corey Grant into leading roles if Fournette cannot play. Coach Doug Marrone said, “we’re going to give it some time and see where we are when it’s time to start testing it.”

That would be some time Friday, which means it could be a game-time decision on whether the second-year back can give it a try. If not, the backup running backs will be counted upon, or if that doesn’t work, call on quarterback Blake Bortles to pass the Jags to victory, or the league’s top defense may be able to add some points themselves.

While winning Sunday will not compensate the painful loss in January, it can put a good-sized Band-Aid over the wound.

Polling: GOP candidates on wrong side of medical marijuana smoking ban

As Florida Politics was preparing to release the results of our final post-primary, statewide survey focusing on the nexus of 2018 elections and medical marijuana, POLITICO Florida published a story putting Ron DeSantis, Ashley Moody and Matt Caldwell squarely on the wrong side of public opinion when it comes to Florida’s popular medical marijuana law.

The three top-of-ticket Republicans each offered varying degrees of incoherence as they staked out positions in support of Tallahasee’s quixotic crusade against allowing Florida patients to smoke medical marijuana.

DeSantis: “I want to see what happens with [the appeal].”

Moody: “…the litigation to clarify the amendment’s scope is reasonable…”

Caldwell: “…smoking is not a medicinal delivery system…[the smoking lawsuit] is just a fig leaf for full recreational use…”

Meanwhile, in the real world, voters believe — by a whopping 66-24 margin — that medical marijuana patients be allowed to smoke marijuana under the law.

These numbers come from Florida Politics’ polling partnership with medical marijuana advocacy org Empowering Wellness. What began as Wellness Week has now stretched over almost two weeks, and we’ve released results from four surveys over the last 10 days. In tomorrow morning’s SunBurn we’ll roll out the fifth and final poll, looking at the race for Attorney General.

ICYM the Sean Shaw-Moody horse race numbers,I’ll give you some hints:

—It’s tiggggght (duh);

—Medical marijuana is a winner for Shaw, and a loser for Moody.

Just like the three previous St. Pete Polls statewide surveys that we commissioned as part of Wellness Week(s), Floridians strongly support the state’s medical marijuana law, in numbers consistent with the 71 percent it received on the 2016 ballot. Also in line with the previous surveys, people aren’t happy with the Tallahasee status quo when it comes to the application of that law.

By a 42-23 margin, respondents disapproved of the way outgoing AG Pam Bondi has handled medical marijuana during her tenure. Those figures are squarely aligned with the prior results, where we asked if folks approved of Gov. Rick Scott’s handling (nope, by 45-30), and the Legislature’s handling (uh uh, by 48-29) of medical marijuana implementation.

Even in the survey we conducted among Republican primary voters in the uber-conservative 1st Congressional District (held by medical marijuana-supporting Republican, Matt Gaetz), Panhandle Republicans would rather keep the Florida medical marijuana law in place, versus repealing it, by a 53-34 margin.

DeSantis, Moody and Caldwell are simply out of step with the electorate on this issue, and all indications are that Democrats are going to continue weaponizing it to their electoral advantage.

We had Bill Nelson over Scott by 0.1 percent, Andrew Gillum over DeSantis by 0.3 percent, and Nikki Fried over Caldwell by 1.8 percent — and the AG race is looking to be another close one.

With a slate of statewide contests this tight, medical marijuana could easily make the difference in any one of them.

Enterprise Florida works ‘back channels’ to connect with Rick Scott’s successor

With Rick Scott leaving the governor’s office in January, Enterprise Florida is preparing for life without its biggest supporter.

The business-development agency, which Scott has helped defend from attacks by the Florida House, has been working “back channels” with the campaigns of Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis and Democrat Andrew Gillum to make both more aware of the agency’s reach and roles.

“Obviously, Enterprise Florida, where we go will have a great deal (to do) with who wins the governor’s race,” Executive Vice President Mike Grissom, who made the back channels reference, said Tuesday, without expounding on just how each candidate could be expected to reshape the agency.

Enterprise Florida President and CEO Pete Antonacci expressed a little more confidence that there won’t be dramatic changes regardless of the winner of the Nov. 6 gubernatorial contest.

“I continue to be optimistic about people when they are exposed to a set of facts, a set of facts could be persuasive,” Antonacci, who was Scott’s general counsel at the end of the governor’s first term, told members of the public-private agency’s Executive Committee. “I think we’ll be able to persuade the next governor of the value that this board provides and the value of the organization.”

The agency’s 62-member board of directors includes the governor, who serves as the chair, and six of his appointees.

Former staff members from the agency are working for both campaigns, and Grissom offered advice Tuesday to get local business officials to meet with House and Senate candidates.

“The best time in the world to get in contact with your state representatives and state senators is when they’re first getting in,” Grissom said. “We’re going to have a nice big crop of House members this year that we have an opportunity of getting to early and talking about economic development.”

House Speaker Richard Corcoran, a Land O’ Lakes Republican who will leave office in November, has been a major critic during the past two years of state funding for economic-development incentives and Enterprise Florida.

Corcoran’s successor, incoming House Speaker Jose Oliva, a Miami Lakes Republican, is expected to take a similar stance on opposing direct incentives for businesses.

Scott clashed with the Republican-dominated House over the incentives issue until a compromise was reached that resulted in the governor getting an annual $85 million pool to spend on regional infrastructure and worker-training programs.

Neither DeSantis nor Gillum is expected to match Scott’s support for incentive money.

New Rick Scott ad: ‘I’ll give ’em hell up in Washington’

Gov. Rick Scott, the Republican U.S. Senate nominee, is launching a new television and internet ad in which he declares Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is complicit in Washington corruption and that Scott will “give ’em Hell in Washington.”

The 30-second spot, “Give ‘Em Hell“, has mostly simple video. Most of it is Scott speaking into the camera while text highlights some of his comments, though there is a spell where viewers get to see computer animation of Nelson aging over 40 years.

“Washington has its own brand of corruption. Politicians who stay politicians forever. Politicians who make promises they never intend to keep – just so they can get money and votes. After 40 years in Washington, that’s the story of Bill Nelson,” Scott states. “A vote for Nelson is a vote for government waste and debt, higher taxes, chaos at the border and weakness abroad. Nelson can’t change Washington. He IS Washington. I’m Rick Scott, I’ll give ‘em hell up in Washington.”

Those charges were almost immediately rebutted by the Nelson campaign, which issued the following statement after the ad dropped:

“The only person with a ‘brand of corruption’ in the U.S. Senate race in Florida is Rick Scott. Not only has he done a poor job as governor, he’s greatly enriched himself while in office,” said Dan McLaughlin, a spokesman for Nelson’s campaign. “If Mr. Scott wants to talk about a ‘brand of corruption,’ let’s talk about it. Let’s talk about his massive Medicare fraud scheme. Let’s talk about his seemingly well-timed and lucrative financial investments in state projects that he’s hidden from the public. Let’s talk about some of his political donors who are making small fortunes off state projects he’s approved. Let’s talk about a politician with a ‘brand of corruption.'”

Scott’s newest volley comes after Nelson released his own duo of attack ads. The first is a Spanish-language ad calling Scott an “amigo” to President Donald Trump while the second is an English-language ad slamming the two-term governor’s record on the environment.

“Tell me who you hang out with, and I will tell you who you are. Rick Scott and Donald Trump are pals,” a translation of the ad reads.

The Scott vs. Nelson head-to-head is one of the most-watched U.S. Senate battles in the nation as national Democrats are trying to prevent the Republican’s current 50-49 majority in the chamber from increasing — a tall order considering 23 of the 33 U.S. Senate seats up for grabs this year are held by Democrats, and 10 of those seats, Nelson’s included, are in states won by Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

As with the two prior elections in Scott’s political career, the Senate race is shaping up to be a close one. A recent survey from St. Pete Polls — the most accurate pollster in Florida’s primary elections — shows the two men deadlocked with 47 percent support apiece with the remainder undecided.

Earlier this week, Nelson and Scott agreed to face each other in an Oct. 2 debate that will be broadcast in the Miami, Fort Myers, Orlando, Tampa and West Palm media markets.

Thomas Kennedy: The real extremist running for Florida Governor

Politics in America has become quite the spectacle recently. Florida, of course, has never been known for boring elections. Consider our last gubernatorial election, where former Republican Governor Charlie Crist ran as a Democrat against Republican Rick Scott, a millionaire who oversaw the largest Medicare fraud in the history of Florida (and is currently running for Senate).

Need I say more?

Yet Florida has not seen anything like the epic race pitting Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum against Rep. Ron DeSantis, both aspiring to become Governor. Gillum made history by becoming the first black nominee for Governor in the history of the state after beating four other candidates, all millionaires, while running a bold and progressive campaign. DeSantis defeated Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam after receiving Donald Trump’s endorsement in what was considered an upset by political observers.

Since the onset of the general election, Gillum has faced a barrage of smears from the Florida Republican Party and its allies claiming that he is a candidate too radical for the people of Florida. Republicans say that Gillum is out of step with the average Floridian.

That’s funny coming from a party that has held political power in Florida for two decades, with disastrous consequences for working-class families. Currently 45 percent of households in the state qualifying as working poor and struggle to afford basic necessities like health care, transportation and housing despite being employed. Meanwhile, Republicans in the state have underfunded public education, refused to expand Medicaid for as many as 1 million Floridians, and set up corporate slush funds that divert millions in taxpayer dollars to the same wealthy corporations who help fund their campaigns

In the current race for Governor, it is DeSantis who is the clear extremist. His reactionary political agenda is plain for all Floridians to see.

— He has not taken a stand on raising the abysmal $8.25 minimum wage in the state.

— He opposes gun policies that would prevent tragedies like the Parkland shooting and is proud of his NRA endorsement and the money that comes with it.

— He opposes a woman’s right to choose what happens to their bodies.

— He wants to criminalize undocumented immigrant families who contribute to the economy of Florida in an effort to make their lives as difficult as possible.

— He supports the privatization of prisons and has taken big sums of money from GEO Group, the largest for-profit prison company in Florida.

— He opposed imposing meaningful regulations on industries that are destroying our environment and questions if climate change is caused by humans despite overwhelming scientific evidence.

In stark contrast stands Gillum and his progressive agenda, yet his policy positions are hardly radical or extreme. In fact, they are in lockstep with a majority of Americans.

— Medicare for all? Supported by 70 percent of Americans.

— Assault weapons ban? Supported by 67 percent of Americans.

— Comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship? Supported by 63 percent of Americans.

— Legalizing marijuana? Supported by 61 percent of Americans.

— Raising the minimum wage? Supported by 51 percent of Americans.

— Restoring voting rights to people with prior felony convictions? Supported by 74 percent of Floridians.

I can keep going if I’d wanted to, but I think I’ve made my point.

Despite what political consultants and mainstream media outlets will tell you, people are hungry for change and support policies that will materially make their lives better. They are tired of having to work two or three jobs to make ends meet, and fearing that a health issue could potentially lead to financial ruin or even death due to lack of health care.

DeSantis is a radical who has tied his political fortunes to Donald Trump, one of the most corrupt and unpopular Presidents in modern American history.

I believe that come Nov. 6, Floridians will choose Gillum as the candidate that stands with them on a majority of the issues.

___

Thomas Kennedy is the Political Director for FLIC Votes and a communications fellow for the Center for Community Change Action. He tweets from @Tomaskenn.

In new ad, Bill Nelson depicts Rick Scott as Donald Trump’s ‘amigo’

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson‘s reelection campaign released two television ads Wednesday evening.

One, titled “Amigo,” is a Spanish-language spot that claims President Donald Trump and Nelson’s Republican challenger, Gov. Rick Scott, are just that: amigos.

Translated from Spanish, the opening lines of the 30-second ad: “Tell me who you hang out with, and I will tell you who you are. Rick Scott and Donald Trump are great/close friends/pals.”

The ad debuts as some speculate Scott is attempting to distance himself from Trump. A POLITICO story on Monday noted the term-limited Governor is campaigning alongside old-school Republicans like former President George W. Bush.

Accompanying “Amigo” is another 30-second television spot titled “Know.” The ad attempts to call Scott’s environmental record into question. It also highlights Scott’s association with a company fined for Medicaid fraud.

Both ads make the claim that “you just can’t trust” Scott.

News of these ads followed two national groups on Wednesday putting an untold sum behind negative digital ads targeting Scott.

Latest polling of the high profile race suggests the two candidates are neck and neck. A Wednesday forecast from elections analysis group FiveThirtyEight put the race as a tossup.

Watch the two ads below:

Florida agencies, utilities poised to provide Hurricane Florence aid

Gov. Rick Scott said Wednesday that Florida state agencies and electric utilities are taking steps to provide help after Hurricane Florence hits land later this week.

Scott’s office said Florida has sent two urban search-and-rescue teams to North Carolina and South Carolina; a nursing team of 29 people to North Carolina to help with special-needs shelters; and five ambulance teams to North Carolina to help with medical evacuations.

The assistance also includes Florida utilities sending crews to help restore power after the hurricane and the state suspending requirements for transportation of animals to help in the movement of livestock from areas affected by the hurricane. Florence is expected to approach the coast of North Carolina and South Carolina late Thursday and Friday, according to the National Hurricane Center.

“We will continue to do all we can to support our neighbors in the Southeast as we prepare for Hurricane Florence,” Scott said in a prepared statement Wednesday. “In Florida, we are fortunate to have the best emergency management professionals in the world to respond to disasters in our state and to help other states during times of emergency.”

Two Democratic groups launch new anti-Rick Scott digital ads

Two Democratic political action committees, the Senate Majority PAC and Priorities USA, are teaming for a new digital ad blitz against Republican Gov. Rick Scott‘s U.S. Senate bid, part of a $21 million national internet advertising campaign targeting Republican U.S. Senate candidates in nine states.

One new 15-second spot set to run in Florida, “Richer” charges that, as Governor, Scott turned down funding for health care and cut funding for public education while supporting tax cuts for the rich, and got richer himself along the way.

“Scott got richer, and even bought himself a new private jet, while our families got hurt,” the narrator says, as pictures of Scott, a private jet, and a sad mother and daughter move across the screen. “Scott’s never been on our side. He never will be.”

Senate Majority PAC and Priorities USA said in a news release they’re spending $18 million combined on this ad and other attack ads being launched in Florida, Arizona, Indiana, Missouri, and North Dakota. Senate Majority PAC also announced it is spending an additional $3 million on its own for new ads in Montana, Nevada, Tennessee, and West Virginia.

The release did not break down how much of the $18 million is being spent on Florida, but the Sunshine State has more residents than the other four states combined. The ads will run on Facebook and video and audio streaming platforms such as YouTube, Hulu and Spotify, among other platforms, the release stated.

Last month, the same two groups spent $1.1 million on internet ads attacking Scott on health care issues. Earlier this year, Senate Majority PAC put $2.2 million behind television commercials backing Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, who’s being challenged by Scott in the Nov. 6 election. And in May, the two groups teamed up for $600,000 in digital ads supporting Nelson.

“Across the Senate map, Republican candidates are on the wrong side of the issues most important to voters, and we are using every tool we have to hammer that point home,” J.B. Poersch, president of SMP, stated in the release. “With Priorities’ help, we are amassing a robust and efficient digital program to communicate to voters that Democrats are the ones fighting for the middle class, while Republicans continue to look out for the wealthy and the special interests.”

Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are desperate to hold on to power so they can stack the courts, weaken Medicare, and pass even bigger tax cuts for the wealthy and big corporations at our expense,” Guy Cecil, chairman of Priorities USA Action stated in the release. “Priorities USA Action is committed to closing the digital spending gap in critical races and is thrilled to work closely with SMP to talk to voters about the issues that matter most.”

For Rick Scott, 2018 is a referendum on ‘socialism’

Democratic voters chose a gubernatorial nominee, Andrew Gillum, who presented the most progressive vision of any option put forth by the Florida party.

For current Governor Rick Scott, that tack to the left has proven to be endless fodder for him in his challenge to U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a centrist of the old style.

On Wednesday, Scott’s press shop pushed an increasingly familiar narrative: that the Nelson/Gillum “ticket” is too radical, too socialist for Florida.

“Three weeks ago, Florida Democrats nominated the most liberal gubernatorial candidate in the history of the state. The Gillum-Nelson-Socialism ticket has already stated that they will undo the pro-growth, pro-family, low-tax record of the last 8 years,” Scott’s campaign asserted.

Nelson established distance from Gillum in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times editorial board, and Scott’s campaign noticed, spotlighting assertions like “I don’t want to abolish ICE. I want to abolish Trump” and “I’ve got enough trouble just trying to save Obamacare.”

“It’s no surprise that a confused, career Washington politician will say one thing one week and another thing the next,” Scott asserted.

“Last week Senator Nelson said Gillum’s positions are mainstream. This week he’s disavowing them. It’s clear Bill Nelson will say anything (and in this case everything) to try to desperately hold on to political office. But at the end of the day, the voters of Florida know the damage that the Gillum-Nelson-Socialism ticket will have on them and their families,” Scott asserted.

Scott has messaged heavily around the theme that the 2018 race pits Republicans against socialists, including during a Jacksonville stop this week.

“The Democrats are talking about big government socialism, [saying] ‘oh, it’s fair,’” Scott said. “Yeah, it’s fair — we all do bad. We all do poorly under socialism.”

These are themes that Scott and the Republican who would replace him, former Congressman Ron DeSantis, have hammered home. As have other Republican groups.

“Nelson’s desperate backtracking from his support of socialist Andrew Gillum isn’t fooling anyone,” said Camille Gallo, National Republican Senatorial Committee Spokesperson. “Floridians know that Bill Nelson will work with Andrew Gillum to take Florida in a dangerous direction and stand ready to reject their radical agenda and elect Rick Scott in November.”

Ron DeSantis proposes bans on fracking, offshore drilling; Democrats skeptical

Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis rolled out environmental proposals, a key component of his general election messaging, on Wednesday.

DeSantis’ plan includes Everglades restoration, along with protection of beaches, the state’s water supply (including the use of reclaimed water), parks, springs, and air.

Among the proposal’s highlights: advocacy for a fracking ban and opposition to offshore drilling.

DeSantis distinguished himself in the Republican primary with attacks on the sugar industry, which heavily invested in the campaign of his main opponent, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

However, DeSantis’ plans seem to represent more a continuation of current environmental policy than any sharp breaks.

Regarding the Everglades, the DeSantis plan contends that southern storage on Lake Okeechobee will fix current issues, which include algae blooms and massive fish kills.

“DeSantis is committed to completing the suite of Everglades Restoration projects in the Central Everglades Planning Process (CEPP) and Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP),” the plan asserts.

“Beginning day one, DeSantis will work with the Trump administration and Congress to ensure the federal government honors its 20-year old funding promise to CERP by appropriating its $200 million in matching federal dollars to build the Southern Reservoir and complete the entire suite of projects,” the plan adds.

DeSantis also intends to continue the raising of the Tamiami Trail and having the Department of Environmental Protection assume complete oversight of water quality standards.

DeSantis also vows to stand against offshore oil drilling, with commitments to “smart growth” and flood mitigation efforts.

“DeSantis will utilize his unique relationship with President Trump and his administration to ensure that oil drilling never occurs off Florida’s coastlines,” the plan declares.

(Those with memories going back months will recall the back and forth between Gov. Rick Scott and Sen. Bill Nelson about assurances that Florida was “off the table” for offshore drilling, with no ultimate clarity provided on that issue even now).

As well, he will work for solutions to the “unprecedented red tides” in Southwest Florida, with a task force of “experts in the field of marine and oceanic science.”

DeSantis’ water conservation proposals include the use of “reclaimed water,” which will “be treated consistent with its use.”

As well, he vows to push a fracking ban through the Legislature.

DeSantis also wants to use Amendment 1 dollars for restoration of current conservation lands in addition to acquisition: “vital springs protection funding, Everglades restoration funding, beach restoration funding, various water quality funding, and conservation of our state parks.”

One of his key endorsers, Fleming Island Sen. Rob Bradley, has advocated for better use of those dedicated funds, which often have not gone for their express purpose.

Florida Conservation Voters noted last year that since Amendment 1 passed in 2014, no year has seen more than $15.2 million earmarked for Florida Forever. This is a contrast between pre-2009 funding levels of $300 million a year and is a small fraction of the more than $2 billion set aside via the Amendment 1 real estate tax since 2014.

Additionally, DeSantis vows to work with “local stakeholders and utility companies” regarding air quality standards.

With DeSantis having spent the last two weeks digging his way out of self-imposed controversies, including the now-infamous suggestion that attacking Gillum could “monkey up” the state’s progress in the Rick Scott era, it’s clear that he’s now pivoting to policy.

With a $10 million ad buy coming in for him via the Republican Governor’s Association, the expectation is that the campaign will be less about gaffes and more about policy proposals.

However, Democrats and environmentalists are skeptical of DeSantis’ commitment to the environment.

Florida Conservation Voters Executive Director Aliki Moncrief asserted that DeSantis’s plan “read like he’s applying to be branch manager … a yes man … for the Trump Administration.”

The national League of Conservation Voters gave Moncrief a 2 percent rating for his work in Congress, a mark “remarkably difficult” to attain, said Moncrief.

DeSantis “said that climate change is not a problem the state can handle,” which Moncrief called a “ludicrous” statement.

“DeSantis wants to rearrange the furniture while the house is falling down,” Moncrief said.

Ahead of DeSantis’ Cape Coral campaign stop, John Scott, Vice Chair of the Sierra Club Calusa Group, called DeSantis “a sham environmentalist who has consistently done the bidding of Florida’s biggest polluters … gutting clean water protections, allowing corporations to pollute our water, and supporting Donald Trump, Rick Scott and Scott Pruitt’s attacks on our environment.”

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