Ron DeSantis Archives - Page 6 of 46 - Florida Politics

Poll finds an independent John Morgan as spoiler, even contender, in Governor’s race

A new poll from Gravis Marketing finds that if Orlando lawyer John Morgan gets into the Florida Governor’s race as an independent candidate, he could spoil the chances of Democrats, and might present the strongest independent challenge in memory.

The poll finds that, in head-to-head matchups, leading Republican candidate Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam runs dead-even against either of the top Democratic candidates, former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham or Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.

Gravis Marketing, of Winter Springs, then introduced the third candidate, Morgan, who declared earlier this month he would not run for governor as a Democrat but left the door open, slightly, for an independent challenge. The poll found Morgan would take far more votes away from either of the top two Democrats and Putnam wins handily.

Yet the poll also shows that without campaigning, Morgan already appears as an independent with contender-caliber support against the two major parties’ candidates.

The Gravis poll finds that nine months out from the primaries, 18 percent of Democrats prefer Graham and 12 percent favor Gillum, while former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine gets 6 percent, Winter Park businessman Chris King receives 3, and noncandidate Jeff Greene, a South Florida businessman, 2 percent.

On the Republican side, Putnam draws 23 percent while U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis of Ponte Vedra Beach, who has not announced his intentions to run, would get 12 percent. The only other major declared candidate, state Sen. Jack Latvala, who submitted his resignation from the Senate last week amid allegations and investigation of sexual misconduct, would get 3 percent.

House Speaker Richard Corcoran, who, like DeSantis, has made no move yet, would get 2 percent. Maverick Republican candidate Bob White drew 1 percent.

The poll also finds Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson leading Republican Gov. Rick Scott 44-39 in a potential contest for the U.S. Senate election next November.

The poll, conducted Dec. 19-24 of 5,778 registered voters across Florida, has a 1.3 percent margin of error, according to Gravis.

In head-to-head Republican-Democratic contests for the governor’s office, Putnam and Graham tie at 32 percent, while Putnam and Gillum tie at 31 percent.

With Morgan in the race, Putnam draws 27 percent, Graham 23, and Morgan 17. With Gillum representing the Democrats instead of Graham, Putnam draws 26 percent, Gillum 22; and Morgan 18.

In head-to-head matchups with Corcoran as the Republican, Graham leads 33 percent to 24 percent, while Gillum leads Corcoran 33 to 22 percent.

With Morgan in those races, Graham and Gillum still lead, but by only 3 or 4 points, while Morgan enters right behind, essentially creating tight three-way packs, 24 to 20 to 18 in the Graham question, and 23 to 20 to 19 in the Gillum scenario.

Gravis did not test DeSantis in head-to-head or three-way general election contests.

Ron DeSantis calls Donald Trump Russia dossier ‘BS … fake news’

On Fox and Friends Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis again cast doubt on an oppo-dossier against President Donald Trump, calling it “BS” and  “fake news.”

DeSantis was asked to respond to a report in the Washington Times, which asserted that the FBI cannot verify the dossier’s claims.

“Think about where this dossier came from. It was not something that was generated by an intelligence agency. It was funded by the Democrats and Hillary Clinton through the Perkins Cole law firm to Fusion GPS,” DeSantis asserted.

DeSantis also blasted the dossier’s author, Christopher Steele, as lacking relevant contacts, tenuously based on his being a spy in Russia a quarter century ago.

“[He] didn’t really have any sources,” DeSantis said. “They put a lot of BS in this thing. Fake news, and then they tried to dress it up as an intelligence product.”

The illegitimacy of the product and the process, DeSantis said, raises troubling questions.

“I think it would undermine the legitimacy of the genesis of the investigation and all the way to the present … The Russia collusion was always more of a narrative than anything based on any type of factual basis. But if this was the basis to get surveillance on an American citizen, remember, if you are doing a FISA surveillance on an American citizen, it’s not just that they may have foreign contacts. You have to actually say there is a basis they committed a criminal offense.”

“If the dossier, an opposition research political hit piece, is what you’re using, it calls into question how they’ve conducted themselves in this investigation. There’s no doubt about it,” DeSantis said.

“We’ve tried to get simple answers about the genesis of the dossier, whether the government paid for the dossier … it’s always ‘no, we can’t give this to you’,” DeSantis added, expressing frustration over stonewalling of Congressional committees on this long-simmering controversy.

“Unless the answers are bad,” DeSantis said, “wouldn’t you want to answer the questions and move on?”

Many Florida politicians have attempted to yoke themselves to President Trump, either rhetorically or symbolically.

However, DeSantis stands alone in his ability to convincingly argue the pro-Trump case, and to undermine the critiques of the President’s political opponents.

Perhaps that symbiosis — in pugnacity and worldview — is why Trump endorsed DeSantis for Governor, even before the Northeast Florida Congressman declared his candidacy.

Ron DeSantis for Governor? ‘Stay tuned’, he tells Fox and Friends

Apparently, Ron DeSantis is still making way toward the Governor’s race, if a favorable interview on Fox and Friends Wednesday were any indication.

The Republican congressman was grinning from ear to ear, as the studio’s big screen showed a tweet from part-time Florida Man and full-time President Donald Trump: “Congressman Ron DeSantis is a brilliant young leader, Yale and then Harvard Law, who would make a GREAT Governor of Florida. He loves our Country and is a true FIGHTER!”

The hosts invited DeSantis to “break some news,” but he declined that offer — still smiling.

“I can tell you that when that tweet went out, the amount of buzzing on my phone from calls and texts, I thought the phone was malfunctioning, or there was something going on,” said DeSantis. “When he tweets, and he has 100 million people that are seeing that, it’s a really, really big deal, and I really appreciate the kind words from the President.”

“[Trump] loves Florida, and he’s been good for Florida, and I anticipate he’ll continue to do that,” DeSantis said, adding that he’ll “come back on [the show] in the new year and break some news then.”

When one of the hosts said that by promising to break the news, it was as if DeSantis were breaking news, the still-smiling congressman urged him to use his “deductive reasoning” skills.

A DeSantis run — with Trump’s imprimatur — is a game changer for current GOP front-runner Adam Putnam.

The Agriculture Commissioner, who has run a disciplined campaign up until now, will now necessarily have to distance himself from Trump.

Also, Gov. Rick Scott — who Trump encouraged to run for the Senate — will not be able to co-brand (in any meaningful way) with the man who served in his Cabinet for seven years.

Ron DeSantis prospective gubernatorial bid gets Donald Trump’s seal of approval

“Congressman Ron DeSantis is a brilliant young leader, Yale and then Harvard Law, who would make a GREAT Governor of Florida. He loves our Country and is a true FIGHTER!”

A tweet from President Donald Trump may change the race for Florida Governor.

DeSantis has been exploring a run for Governor for months now. And since May 2016, when he urged party unity in the wake of Trump becoming the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, he has aligned with Trump.

Most recently, DeSantis accompanied the President to a rally in Pensacola.

Reporters then said that DeSantis was poised to go “full Trump” in the Governor’s race.

DeSantis’ campaign team called the president’s tweet an endorsement.

“I’m grateful to have the President’s support and appreciate what he has done — from appointing great judges to recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital to signing a pro-growth tax cut — to get our country back on track,” DeSantis said in a prepared statement. “As an Iraq veteran, I’m especially appreciative of his efforts to support our military and our veterans.

DeSantis’ political committee has roughly $2 million on hand, well behind that of Adam Putnam, who has over $15 million.

As well, Putnam — who has run aggressively and consistently since April — has built relationships with GOP party leaders and politicians throughout the state … including in Northeast Florida, DeSantis’ geographic base.

But the President’s backing will be key in the race to come, and could prove dispositive for many voters, especially the kinds of super-voters who will decide the Republican nomination for Governor.

Just as DeSantis has done the heavy lifting on the part of the President, by pushing for the Uranium One investigation of Hillary Clinton, it now looks like 45 is returning the favor for DeSantis.

As for when DeSantis might enter the race, Brad Herold, of the Ponte Vedra Beach-based Ron DeSantis for Florida, said in an email Friday that the congressman will “make a decision when the time is right.”

Democrats are messaging.

“The president only cares about himself and it is no surprise he would support Ron DeSantis, an extreme congressman who is leading the smear campaign against Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the Russia investigations. Floridians want a leader who will stand up to the president — not protect him,” read a statement from the Gwen Graham camp Friday afternoon.

DeSantis’ apparent exit from Congress opens up the Congressional District 6 race, where a number of Republicans likely will make bids.

Among them: former Green Beret Mike Waltz; businessman John Ward; Operation Enduring Freedom veteran Brandon Patty.

State Rep. Fred Costello has also been discussed as a candidate.

Meanwhile, Democrat Nancy Soderberg — a former United Nations Ambassador during the Bill Clinton presidency — is running a strong campaign to face whoever the GOP nominates.

Material from the News Service of Florida was used in this post.

Ron DeSantis introduces Jerusalem bill

President Donald Trump‘s decision to move America’s embassy in Israel to Jerusalem has a congressional sponsor, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, who’s been pushing the issue for several years.

DeSantis, the Republican from Ponte Vedra Beach, introduced a bill Thursday to have Congress declare Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to seek to move the United States embassy there by the beginning of 2019.

The bill immediately attracted 28 co-sponsors, including Republican U.S. Reps. Matt Gaetz of Fort Walton Beach and Ted Yoho of Gainesville.

Internationally and nationally, the move is seen as a divisive issue because of the divided status of Jerusalem, both currently and historically, and its critical role in peace negotiations. That divisiveness has partisan roots in the United States, but many Democrats, notably U.S. Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston and Ted Deutch of Boca Raton, advocate U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

DeSantis has introduced similar bills in the past. This one, labeled “The Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of the State of Israel Act,” is aimed at supporting and reinforcing Trump’s declaration earlier this month. It states that it is U.S. policy to recognize Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel and expresses the sense of Congress that the President shall relocate the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem by January 1, 2019.

“Instead of addressing ongoing international conflicts and working to uphold human rights, the United Nations is holding an emergency session in order to indulge its pathological anti-Israel bias,” DeSantis said in a news release issued by his office. “I am proud to stand by our friends in Israel and to follow up on President Trump’s historic recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s eternal capital by introducing the Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of the State of Israel Act. For decades, the United States has worked hand in hand with our allies at the UN to provide hundreds of millions in foreign aid, but as President Trump said yesterday, ‘we’re not going to be taken advantage of any longer.’ Congress should take this vote into consideration as we determine which allies are deserving of our generous foreign aid.”

Val Demings appointed to U.S. House Judiciary Committee

U.S. Rep. Val Demings of Orlando has been appointed to the House Judiciary Committee, her office announced Wednesday.

Demings, a former Orlando chief of police with 27 years as a police officer, becomes one of 17 Democrats on the 40-seat committee overseeing criminal and civil justice legislation, including oversight of federal courts, administrative agencies, and law enforcement in the House.

The committee also includes Florida’s Republican U.S. Reps. Ron DeSantis, Matt Gaetz, and John Rutherford, and Florida’s Democratic U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch.

“After a troubling year it has become increasingly obvious that the most fundamental issues facing our country are matters of justice,” Demings said in a news release issued by her office.

She has not yet received subcommittee appointments on that board.

“The safety and security of our families and our communities depend on protecting the future of our democracy. The soul of our nation depends on our ability to expand equality and to balance respect for the rule of law with its proper application in all situations with all persons,” she added.

Democrats, Republicans waste no time targeting opponents for tax votes

Let there be no doubt that the tax reform bill approved Tuesday by the U.S. House of Representatives will be a touchstone in 2018 congressional campaigns. It already has started.

Moments after the House approved the Republican-created tax reform bill Tuesday, Democrats took aim at Republicans in vulnerable districts, including Florida U.S. Reps. Ron DeSantis of Ponte Vedra Beach, Brian Mast of Palm City, and Carlos Curbelo of Kendall, and Republicans began targeting vulnerable Democrats for their votes, starting with Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park.

The House passed the bill 227-203 Tuesday afternoon, with 12 Republicans joining Democrats to vote no, and no Democrats joining Republicans to vote yes. DeSantis, Mast and Curbelo all voted yes, as did all Florida Republicans, and all Democrats voted no.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced about an hour later it is launching Christmas-themed social media ads targeting DeSantis, Mast and Curbelo, among others nationally, using the Democrats’ favorite description of the bill as a “Tax Scam.”

The Democrats’ ads will begin running immediately on Facebook at Instagram, and will run through the Christmas season, the DCCC announced Tuesday.

But the National Republican Campaign Committee also started their attack on Democrats who voted against the bill, firing at Murphy with a release declaring that she “wants the federal government to continue to overtax you.”

The Democrats’ messages will be sent with a meme of four Christmas stockings hung from a mantel: three looking empty and marked for “Families,” “Seniors,” “Middle Class,” and “Homeowners,” and a fourth stuffed with guides marked for “Corporations.”

“By Passing their Tax Scam, Republicans in Washington are stuffing the stockings of wealthy corporations while leaving nothing but a lump of coal for the middle class,” the ad reads.

Then it ads “Hold [DeSantis, Mast, Curbelo, or some other targeted member of Congress] responsible and demand better.”

“When House Republicans say ‘Merry Christmas,’ apparently it’s only to millionaires, billionaires, and large corporations,” DCCC spokesperson Cole Leiter said in a news release announcing the campaign. “This tax scam is loaded up with special interest loopholes and tax breaks for the wealthiest and biggest corporations, while the middle class in Florida gets stuck with higher taxes and coal in their stockings. Americans are making a list, checking it twice, and will hold Reps. Mast, Curbelo, and DeSantis responsible for this tax scam next November.”

As for the Republican effort, the release from NRCC Spokesman Madison Anderson targeting Murphy declares that on Tuesday she voted, “Against letting her constituents keep an average of $1,967.36 more of their hard-earned money. For a higher cost of living. Against a simplified tax code. For more government control over Floridians money.

“Murphy is not even attempting to fake bipartisanship anymore. Her allegiance lies with Nancy Pelosi, and against the middle-class,” it concludes.

Gwen Graham mocks Matt Gaetz’ FBI probe, taunts Adam Putnam, Richard Corcoran

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham, a former member of Congress herself, on Friday attacked U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz for his campaign to get the FBI investigated and to halt the bureau’s investigation of President Donald Trump, then challenged her Republican rivals to state their positions.

Graham, of Tallahassee, took to Twitter first, calling out, “Matt Gaetz, what are you so afraid of?”

Gaetz, a Fort Walton Beach Republican, has been one of the leaders in a Republican congressional effort to both get an investigation of how the FBI looked into Hillary Clinton allegations of misconduct last year, and to get Special Counsel Robert Mueller fired for what Gaetz and the other Republicans in the effort contend has been a partisan, biased “witch hunt” investigation of alleged connections between Trump, his election campaign team, his White House staff, and Russia.

“Calls to fire him undermine the fundamental rule of law,” Graham tweeted. “The special counsel and DOJ must be allowed to investigate – even the president – without partisan interference.”

Gaetz office did not immediately respond to an inquiry about Graham’s tweets.

She then went after Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and House Speaker Richard Corcoran. The former is the leading Republican candidate in the governor’s race, the latter a likely major candidate. That included a mash-up picture of Corcoran and Putnam standing with Gaetz, who stands behind a podium with a Trump campaign sign.

“Congressman @MattGaetz asked Republicans to join his attacks against Robert Mueller. Do @AdamPutnam and @RichardCorcoran stand with Gaetz or do they stand with the rule of law? Floridians deserve to know,” Graham tweeted.

In a press release her campaign then put out, Graham also went after another potential major Republican gubernatorial candidate, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis of Ponte Vedra Beach. Both Gaetz and DeSantis flew with Trump to Pensacola last week and joined him at a campaign rally there which, in part, was aimed at supporting Roy Moore in the neighboring Alabama U.S. Senate race.

“Today Congressman Matt Gaetz called on his Republican colleagues to join him in a partisan campaign to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Floridians deserve to know, do their leaders stand with Gaetz or with the rule of law?” Graham stated in the news release. “Adam Putnam and Richard Corcoran won’t be able to hide from the president and his connections to Russia forever — they must answer whether or not they stand with Matt Gaetz against Robert Mueller.”

GOP primary for Governor likely to be conservative vs. establishment matchup

While the Democratic field for Governor continues to swell, we’re seeing just the opposite happen on the Republican side. What was once a large crop of prospective candidates, has now boiled down to the classic “establishment” versus “conservative” matchup.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam has long been the GOP favorite for 2018. He has put together exactly the kind of campaign that we all expected, raising impressive sums of money each month and putting together a veteran team of DC-based consultants.

Putnam, who announced his campaign nearly 18 months before the election, is leaning on his extensive political experience and disciplined campaigning to outlast and outwork any potential opponents.

On the other side of this coin are the conservatives: House Speaker Richard Corcoran and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis. Both potential candidates share a principled-conservative philosophy, and they both would bring a background that would resonate with today’s conservative grassroots.

Now, if you watch Fox News, you’ve probably seen DeSantis — he has become a frequent guest. However, you’d think several weekly appearances on the most-watched channel of Republican primary voters would put DeSantis on their radar. It hasn’t. A recent poll from St. Leo University shows DeSantis bunched up with Corcoran in the low single digits. And if he were to get in the race, he would not be able to benefit from additional free media attention.

For either candidate to gain ground on Putnam, they’ll need to put together a serious statewide operation and raise real money. And while Corcoran has raised $5.5 million in six months, DeSantis has only been able to pocket $1.8, coming mostly from a small handful of six-figure donors.

So, when it comes to fundraising, DeSantis has yet to show any signs that he can put together a viable statewide campaign. For those whom may have forgotten, DeSantis ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 2016, but like what’s unfolding today, he struggled to raise money, and his campaign never got off the ground.

Now, maybe it’s possible that President Donald Trump will get into a contested primary six (or seven) months before the election, backing an unproven candidate. Maybe that endorsement will bring in a few more big checks.

And then, maybe, DeSantis will be able to put together a serious campaign.

But after four or five postponed announcements for Governor, those “maybes” keep getting less and less likely. It’s hard to see a scenario where DeSantis pulls the trigger — and even if he did, it’s hard to see it ending up much differently than his failed 2016 Senate campaign. Of course, he may call an audible and jump instead into the Attorney General race, where he would be much more competitive.

Corcoran, on the other hand, has quietly built a formidable political operation. He is widely regarded as Tallahassee’s most disruptive legislator and one of the most consequential Republican Speakers of the House.

Of course, in some circles that’s praise; in others — mainly inside the Tallahassee bubble — he is an enemy of the state. He has picked a fight with every political heavyweight and special interest, ruffling a lot of feathers of the Republican donor class.

And even though he says he won’t decide until after the 2018 Legislative Session, which ends in March, his political committee, Watchdog PAC, has all the makings of a serious statewide campaign.

On top of the overall fundraising, Corcoran pulled in $752,000 in November. A number that outpaced Putnam’s PC’s $616,000, and was double that of DeSantis’ $380,000.

Finally, Corcoran’s political committee has attracted top political consultants, including Trump and Gov. Rick Scott’s pollster, Tony Fabrizio, Trump’s media consultants, Jamestown Associates, and has also begun staffing the organization with high caliber campaign operatives.

Right now, all signs point to a classic Republican primary duel brewing between the polished and well-established campaign of Putnam versus the disruptive, conservative insurgent in Corcoran. And while DeSantis may still get mentioned as a potential candidate, it’s merely a formality — because that duck won’t be quacking.

American Bridge takes aim at Adam Putnam

A Democrat-aligned super PAC is taking aim at Adam Putnam with a new website called ProblemPutnam.com.

American Bridge, launched by David Brock in 2010, says it intends on informing Floridians over the next year about what it contends has been Putnam’s priorities in public office since first being elected more than 20 years ago:

“Sweet deals for big business and his own bank accounts, while squarely ignoring the needs and concerns of Florida families.”

Putnam is considered a leading contender to become the next Republican nominee for Governor in 2018. In addition to his prodigious fundraising totals (he has over $15 million cash-on-hand), the only other establishment Republican considered to have any shot at him – Clearwater state Senator Jack Latvala – has had his campaign upended by allegations of sexual harassment that could lead to his expulsion from the Legislature.

Two other men considered to be contenders, House Speaker Richard Corcoran and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, have yet to enter the race.

“Adam Putnam is truly the problem child for Florida Republicans—he’s been cozying up to and making sweet deals on behalf of the lobbyists and donors that keep him in office for decades, all at the expense of Florida families,” American Bridge spokesperson Lizzy Price says.

“Putnam is right in line with Republicans in Congress under the leadership of Donald Trump who give handouts to the rich at the expense of the middle class,” Price adds.

“This will be a long, difficult campaign for Problem Putnam and in the end, Floridians will know that his problems aren’t endearing. They’re dangerous and wrong for Florida.”

The Putnam campaign slammed the site, and American Bridge.

“No surprise to see a super PAC funded by Hollywood liberals George Soros and Michael Moore is terrified to see a strong conservative with a positive vision for our state in the race for Governor,” said Putnam campaign spokeswoman Amanda Bevis. “This website is a poor-quality, Hollywood production that aims to fool voters into reversing the progress our state has made.”

Soros, the billionaire hedge fund manager, has been a major contributor to American Bridge over the years, including $80,000 earlier this year, according to Open Secrets.

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