Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics.
By Peter Schorsch, Phil Ammann, Daniel McAuliffe, Jim Rosica, and Drew Wilson.
If the goal of either side in the Florida Governor’s debate Sunday night between Andrew Gillum and Ron DeSantis was to change minds, that probably didn’t happen.
During a spirited hour-long debate on CNN in which no punches were pulled, both candidates to be Florida’s governor kept their respective cool, got in their talking points and attacks, and dodged issues they didn’t want to directly address.
DeSantis kept up the line of attack he has used throughout the campaign, namely that Gillum is a corrupted socialist who wants to ruin the state with massive tax hikes while dodging a corruption investigation by the FBI.
Gillum countered that DeSantis is a corrupted Donald Trump acolyte who is controlled by the National Rifle Association.
That’s what they have been saying about each other since the August primary, and with the election now about two weeks away they didn’t deviate. Both men were prepared, they didn’t commit a grievous blunder during the spicy back-and-forth that could have led to a disastrous headline.
Each man was well-coached to deflect attacks and ready to sprinkle in a snappy one-liner that just might appear in a TV commercial in the closing days of the campaign.
So, here’s a random sampling of things that jumped out:
From Gillum: “If the congressman is elected, which he won’t be, he will worship at the feet of Donald Trump.”
From DeSantis: “If you believe with that record that he (Gillum) ain’t gonna raise your taxes, then I’ve got some oceanfront property in Arizona I’d like to sell you.”
DeSantis was asked by moderator Jake Tapper, who did a good job of keeping things on track, to explain his “monkey it up” comment about Gillum and the state’s economy on the day after the primary election. It was widely panned as a racist dog whistle.
“Here’s the deal. You look at my record. When you’re down-range in Iraq, it didn’t matter your race. We all wore the same uniform. We all had that American flag patch on our arm. And that was the end of story. You look at me as a prosecutor working with law enforcement. It didn’t matter the race of the victim. We were there to support the race of the victim. So, Floridians can know that I will be a governor for all Floridians.”
Gillum’s counter: “The congressman let us know exactly where he was going to take this race the day after he won the nomination. The monkey up comment said it all. He has continued throughout the course of this campaign to draw all the attention he can to the color of my skin. … The only color the people of the state of Florida care about is the blue-green algae that is flowing out of the state.”
Was the original question answered?
DeSantis is loved by the NRA.
Gillum is not.
That’s an issue.
After the slaughter of 17 innocents at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the state adopted modest gun control restrictions – opposed, strongly, by the NRA. DeSantis said as governor, he would have vetoed the law.
After invoking the shooting at the congressional softball game, DeSantis dodged the question, saying the shooter who “should have been convicted of a crime” and “he should have been Baker-Acted.”
Um, Congressman? While there were warnings about the mental state of confessed shooter Nikolas Cruz, he hadn’t done anything that would have led to a conviction before entering the school. And the state’s Baker Act law would have allowed him to be held only 72 hours for observation.
Gillum’s counter: “He is wholly owned by the NRA.”
No doubt, both sides believe they won this debate, but I really think the people of Florida did.
Both men were pointed in their barbs, but it didn’t get out of control. They made their points, and it’s up to the viewer to agree or not. It was lively, and I don’t think either man got rattled by the other.
It was healthy. It was informative.
In the end, we were given a good look at both men and what they stand for. That’s what debates are for.
—@JimRosicaFL: Sorry, just broke up a cat vs. chihuahua fight, and now it’s bathtime. Is there a political debate or something going on tonight?
—@JacobEngels: Not gonna lie. @AndrewGillum has a better cut on his suit/style far exceeds @RonDeSantisFL… who looks a little tubby.
—@JoshSidorowicz: Lots of people already noting the contrast in candidates’ opening statements. DeSantis went on attack against Gillum. Gillum responds: “wow, that was quite a mouthful” and leaves it at that.
—@NewsbySmiley: Tapper asks why DeSantis is wrong that Gillum’s a socialist. Sidebar: Before this debate, a PAC aired an ad that basically said all Democrats are socialist, and told viewers electing Democrats will give them a screaming Nancy Pelosi with a massive gavel
—@JacobOgles: Fun fact. Disney got rid of the old FastPass system and now has people sign up for particular times to ride. In other words, a waiting list.
—@SteveBousquet: Ron DeSantis sidesteps CNN’s question on whether he agrees with $15 minimum wage at Disney; says it’s an “incentive for automation”
—@DeFede: Here is the line of debate so far. @AndrewGillum: “The Congressman let us know exactly where he would take this race the day after he won the nomination. The monkey up comment said it all. And he has only continued in the course of his campaign to draw all the attention …” … “… he can to the color of my skin. And the truth is I’m black. I’ve been black all of my life. So far as I know I’ll die black.” My guess is he had that line ready to fire as things heat up. @RonDeSantisFL stopped smiling at that point.
—@Rob_Bradley: This is a good debate. Jake Tapper is doing what a moderator should do-letting it be about the candidates, not him, but keeping things moving.
—@DeFede: It is clear @RonDeSantisFL and @AndrewGillum do not like each other. This is a bloody affair. Not sure what voters are learning.
—@TalesDarkSide: “I am black, I’ve been black and I far as I know I’ll die black.” — Mayor Gillum, I straight did my entire Black History Month *praise lap* and it’s only October.
—@GrayRohrer: Fun fact: the governor of Florida has no affect on immigration enforcement
—@PatriciaMazzei: DeSantis has turned pretty much every question into an attack on Gillum. (Which Gillum predicted in advance of the debate.) DeSantis asks Gillum questions; Gillum says, “You can proceed with your time.”
—@JamilSmith: It is notable that @AndrewGillum calls @RepDeSantis “Congressman” and DeSantis calls him “Andrew.” Gillum is still Mayor of Tallahassee, and DeSantis is not even a Congressman anymore. It is clear what his word choice implies.
—@AdamGoodman3: @# Tonight’s bottom line: @ effectively stoked & stroked his base but lost visual battle on TV. Despite some tough moments, @ looked at ease and in command; and his closing statement was a winner.
—@realDonaldTrump: Ron @
RonDeSantisFL DeSantis had a great debate victory tonight against Andrew Gillum, a mayor who presides over one of the worst run, and most corrupt, cities in Florida. Ron will build on the great job done by Governor Rick Scott. Gillum will make Florida the next Venezuela!
— SITUATIONAL AWARENESS —
—@RealDonaldTrump: All levels of government and Law Enforcement are watching carefully for VOTER FRAUD, including during EARLY VOTING. Cheat at your own peril. Violators will be subject to maximum penalties, both civil and criminal!
—@MattYglesias: “If you want change, you should vote instead of yelling at politicians in restaurants” would be a more compelling in a system where getting more votes than the other guy guaranteed electoral victory.
—@NateSilver538: If a pollster publishes a poll that looks like an outlier, the right move is to: 1) Be happy that the pollster was willing to publish it. It means they’re doing honest work. 2) Put it in the average. Don’t ignore it, but also don’t assume it’s the new normal.
—@NickGourevitch: I don’t claim to know what will happen in two weeks (spoiler: nobody does) but I’m pretty sure nobody truly understands the turnout dynamic this year. I’m a pollster telling you that polls are flawed tools at telling you what the turnout dynamic will be.
—@GBennettPost: Shades of @CharlieCrist — an electric fan on stage at @AndrewGillum rally in Riviera Beach.
—@DavidJollyFL: Just gonna say it. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with confronting elected officials in public. Nothing. Zero. We should do more of it. It is who we are as Americans. Channel Thoreau. Do it. No politician was conscripted to serve. They asked for the opportunity.
—@Poniewozik: If I could change one thing in media, it would be: no news outlet, ever again, would base its policy on perception and “How will this make us look?” It serves no one, we get too cute by half, we look phony — because it IS phony — and bad-faith critics will attack us regardless.
—@NateMonroeTU: I’ve been a reporter for the better part of a decade — so no grizzled vet — but @is easily, by far, full stop the most secretive, least open police department I’ve ever seen. It’s a huge problem in a county that leads the state in the murder rate.
—@GrayRohrer: Ah, so I see Kirk Herbstreit talked trash about UCF in the morning yesterday day then saw his alma mater get stomped by a team in black and gold at night. Karma, bitch.
— LATEST TURNOUT FIGURES —
Through this weekend, more than 877,000 ballots had completed their round trips and were back in the hands of county supervisors of election. Republicans, as is tradition, led the overall VBM tally with 386,101 ballots returned — 44 percent of the total — while registered Dems were 5 points back and independents made up nearly 18 percent of the vote so far.
The overall returns represent a little over a quarter of mail ballots sent out and roughly an eighth of the 7 million votes expected to be cast by pencils down on Nov. 6. In 2014, the most recent comparable election, Floridians returned nearly 1.2 million mail ballots.
Though the Friday tally wasn’t particularly large, there were a couple of noteworthy stats among the stacks of mail. Chief among them: Bay County processed its first ballots. The Panhandle county was among the hardest hit when Hurricane Michael tore through Northwest Florida two weeks ago. Gulf and Liberty counties, however, are still yet to show up on the statewide box score.
Happening today — Early voting begins in several counties across the state, including Alachua, Bradford, Broward, Charlotte, DeSoto, Duval, Escambia, Flagler, Gadsden, Hillsborough, Indian River, Jefferson, Lake, Lee, Leon, Levy, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Okaloosa, Okeechobee, Orange, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Santa Rosa, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Lucie and Taylor. Counties statewide are required to start early voting Oct. 27, but they have authority to start as early as today.
— BATTLE OF THE POLLS —
Just ahead of Sunday night’s CNN debate in Florida’s gubernatorial contest, a trio of new polling shows wide fluctuation in the race, ranging from a double-digit lead for Gillum to a slight advantage for DeSantis, which led to disputes and doubts over methodology.
A CNN poll released Saturday gives Gillum a 12-point advantage over DeSantis, resulting in immediate pushback from Republicans, who said it “polled an electorate never seen in Florida.” The survey of registered voters, taken Oct. 16-20, shows Gillum winning 52 percent of the vote over DeSantis’ 42 percent. Another 5 percent reported no opinion and 1 percent said they would not vote for either candidate.
The DeSantis camp criticized the CNN poll for a sample size that gave Democrats a 3-percent edge in a nonpresidential election. Pollsters SSRS said the sample included 32 percent Democrats, 29 percent Republicans and 39 percent independent of third-party voters.
That NPA turnout, DeSantis officials said, also seemed unrealistically high, as independents never outnumber Democrats and Republicans at the poll in a Florida statewide election.
To counter, an internal poll touted by Team DeSantis gives the Republican a two-point edge over Gillum, 47 to 45 percent, with another 7 percent unsure. In the polling memo, campaign chair Susie Wiles said her pollsters surveyed potential voters over three consecutive nights in advance of the debate.
“This survey included over 2,000 live interviews with a projected universe reflecting a historic midterm election turnout among Democratic and women voters,” Wiles wrote. “In short, this assumes a challenging electoral scenario for Republicans, but one we are presently rising above. We currently show Ron with a 47 percent — 45 percent lead. Ron’s lead is larger at +7 percent among voter that have already cast vote by mail ballots.”
Meanwhile, well-regarded Florida pollster Tom Eldon of SEA Polling has come out with a new statewide survey Sunday that gives Gillum a six-point lead over DeSantis, 48-42 percent, with 10 percent undecided. Taken Oct. 17-20, pollsters asked 600 likely voters, with a margin of error of +/- 4 percent. Propelling Gillum is strong support among NPAs, women and Hispanic voters, Eldon’s polling memo said.
>>>Keep in mind that during the GOP primary, it was DeSantis’s internal polling, not any public polling, which was the most accurate about the state of that race.
— MORE GILLUM VS. DESANTIS —
“Trump tweets that Andrew Gillum runs ‘one of the worst’ cities” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat — The president of the United States took to Twitter at 10:56 a.m. Saturday and called Tallahassee one of the “worst & most corrupt cities in USA!” Trump appeared to have wanted to boost the campaigns of DeSantis for Governor and Gov. Scott for the U.S. Senate, while throwing a jab at Gillum without naming him. But in doing so, he placed Tallahassee front and center in a social media firestorm that pitted city critics with passionate defenders who call Tallahassee home. Gillum quickly responded, suggesting the tweet was cowardly. “When you lie about me from the most powerful office in the world and still don’t have the courage to @ me …” Gillum said while retweeting the president’s tweet.
“Gillum releases tax returns, calls on Ron DeSantis to do the same” via James Call of the Tallahassee Democrat — Gillum filed joint returns with spouse R.J., and the two reported a combined income of $480,000 for the two years. His spokeswoman immediately called on Republican nominee DeSantis to follow suit. “Mayor Gillum took an important step in being transparent and open with Floridians by releasing his tax returns, and now, it’s time for Ron DeSantis to do the same,” said Communications Director Johanna Cervone. “Floridians deserve transparency, honesty and integrity from their next governor, which is exactly what Andrew Gillum has done as Mayor and what he’ll do as Governor.”
“DeSantis is ‘uniquely dislikable candidate,’ says Gillum” via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times — “They have a uniquely unlikeable candidate. He’s easily dislikable,” said Gillum. “I don’t think anybody could spend a lot of time with him and walk away feeling inspired or encouraged or believe that he in some way knows what it means to live their life. They realize they can’t package him in that way … I’ve heard from Republican members of Congress (DeSantis would) go on these congressional trips with them, and he’d put on his headphones and not talk to them the entire time.” The Tallahassee mayor’s tough comments came, ironically, as he sought to contrast his campaign largely focused on his agenda for Florida with DeSantis’ largely focused on attacking Gillum. He predicted Republicans and DeSantis would spend the remaining 17 days of the race trying to push down turnout by attacking him.
“DeSantis keeps up negative (and false) attacks on Gillum in Tampa” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — In Tampa, an enthusiastic crowd made up largely of grass-roots campaign workers crammed into a tiny GOP campaign office suite for an appearance by DeSantis, his wife Casey and Rep. Matt Gaetz. For about 20 minutes, they heard DeSantis launch one attack after another. DeSantis used the same attack themes, many of them distorted or false, that has been a staple of ads run on his behalf against Gillum by Republican Party organizations. He said Gillum is a socialist who’s hostile to law enforcement, intends to take away people’s Medicare and veterans’ health benefits, has made Tallahassee “the most crime-ridden city in Florida,” and plans “a 40 percent tax increase” for Florida. “I’m the only candidate (for governor) who can credibly say he’s not under investigation by the FBI,” he added, referring to an investigation of Tallahassee city government.
“Remaining mum on amendments” via Gary Fineout of The Associated Press — But don’t look for some of the state’s top politicians to help you sort out the ballot. Gov. Scott and the two main candidates running for governor have voiced opinions on only a handful of the measures on the ballot. Both Scott and fellow Republican DeSantis, for example, oppose Amendment 4, while Democrat Gillum strongly supports the measure. If passed Amendment 4 would allow most former prisoners, except for murderers and those convicted of sex offenses, to have their voting rights restored after they serve their sentences. DeSantis has expressed concerns about Amendment 3. Both Scott and Gillum have kept silent on the measure. Scott has said he plans to vote for Amendment 9, a proposal put on the ballot by Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission that deals with both oil drilling and vaping. Neither DeSantis nor Gillum has taken a stance on the measure.
“Gillum wants criminal justice reform. DeSantis wants mandatory minimums. Here’s how the candidates differ” via Andrew Pantazi of the Florida Times-Union — To Gillum, the state is wasting money locking up people who deserve second chances. To DeSantis, any retreat from the state’s tough-on-crime policies is an offense to police and will reverse the state’s 50-year low crime rates. Gillum, the Tallahassee Mayor, talks about criminal justice in an aspirational tone. He talks of reforming the state’s bail system, of investing in re-entry services, of ending mass incarceration. DeSantis, the former congressman who until recently represented the suburbs south of Jacksonville, avoids offering his own policy proposals, instead invoking fear that any change to the status quo will threaten Florida’s safety. Gillum never mentioned DeSantis in his speech, but DeSantis inveighed against Gillum in nearly every sentence. He said that Gillum was not only incompetent, but that Tallahassee’s high crime rate “flows from his radical ideology.”
“Election ad pitch to young voters: ‘Our chance to finally elect Florida’s first black Governor’” via Anthony Man of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — The political organization NextGen Florida is spending $1.2 million on the ads, which will run through Election Day. The pair of ads is running on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Reddit, Hulu, Vevo, Spotify, Pandora, Google search and the gaming platform Twitch. Targeting young voters, the ads are more direct than traditional television advertising. NextGen said the ads utilize research-based messaging to reach their intended audience: 1.8 million young Floridians. The organization’s research found that effective messages include explaining to young people that politicians won’t listen to their needs if they don’t vote; that, as the largest eligible voting bloc, they have the power to bring about change are the most; and that encouraging people to make a plan to vote on Election Day works.
“Hillary Clinton to keep low profile in race for Governor” via Skyler Swisher of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel — Clinton is coming to Florida next week to support Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gillum — but don’t expect the campaign to make a big deal about it. Clinton will hold closed-door fundraisers in support of Gillum but no public events … Gillum announced last month that he would campaign Oct. 23 with Clinton in South Florida, adding that he was “honored to have Secretary Clinton join me.” That wasn’t greeted well by some Gillum supporters, who wrote on Twitter that Gillum would be making a mistake by appearing with Clinton. “Gillum’s already got South Florida in the bag,” Miami filmmaker Billy Corben wrote on Twitter. “Why polarize? Even Hillary voters don’t want to see or hear from her again.”
“Alt-right Florida GOP operative complains he was assaulted while taunting people at Gillum” rally via Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times — An Orlando-based Republican consultant and member of the far right Proud Boys group, attended Andrew Gillum’s women’s rally in Tampa Friday night, shouting into a megaphone about billionaire liberal George Soros as Gillum addressed the crowd. Video footage showed several people shoving the man, Jacob Engels, and/or trying to knock the megaphone from his hands. Engels, a provocateur and close associate of fellow InfoWars contributor Roger Stone, used to attack Republican DeSantis during the GOP primary. He said a “violent mob” of Gillum supporters assaulted him Friday, part of a narrative many Republicans across the country are using lately about Democrats. Engels also accused Gillum supporters of being homophobic because he is gay.
Assignment editors — Republican Lt. Gov. nominee Jeanette Nuñez hosts a meet-and-greet, 5 p.m., Havana Jax Café, 2578 Atlantic Blvd., Jacksonville.
— NELSON VS. SCOTT —
“Rick Scott has millions invested in Puerto Rico electric company” via Dan Christensen of FloridaBulldog.org — The Governor and his wife have untold millions of dollars invested in the commonwealth’s devastated electric company … via AG Superfund, a New York hedge fund which with other large investors issued $9 billion of credit to the government-run Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, or PREPA. Those bond investors were enticed by the island’s lucrative tax breaks. In July, Gov. Scott’s blind trust valued its AG Superfund holdings as worth between $1 million and $5 million. He also disclosed that four trusts and a family partnership in the name of First Lady Ann Scott valued their investments as being worth over $1 million each — meaning the Scotts’ total investment in AG Superfund is at least $5 million.
“Revealed: Scott’s financial link to botched SunPass contract” via Steve Bousquet of the Tampa Bay Times — Scott has financial ties to the vendor that operates the troubled SunPass toll-collection system. Here’s how public documents explain the latest link: By late June, records show, a manager of a hedge fund called Highline Capital Management held 7 million shares of stock worth $127 million in Conduent Inc. Scott and his wife Ann have invested at least $5 million in the fund managed by Highline. A Conduent subsidiary, Conduent State and Local Solutions, won a $287 million Florida contract in 2015 to manage SunPass. The contract, which has grown to $343 million, was awarded by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) whose secretary is appointed by Scott. Direct oversight of Conduent is the responsibility of the Florida Turnpike Enterprise, an arm of FDOT. Scott attended a Senate campaign fundraiser in Dallas in May at which his hosts included Darwin Deason, a Texas investor and a major shareholder in Conduent.
“Red-tide awakening: How Florida’s environmental woes could hurt Scott in Senate race” via David Knowles of Yahoo News — “It impacted a few media markets where swing voters live — Tampa, Fort Myers, and West Palm Beach,” Democratic strategist Steve Schale told Yahoo News. “There are voters who have voted for both Nelson and Scott in those markets.” After the Army Corps of Engineers released water tainted with a different microorganism, blue-green algae, from Lake Okeechobee in the wake of Hurricane Irma last fall, the red tide, which can stain the ocean a rusty-brown hue, got much worse. Schale thinks the duration of this year’s red tide has left Scott vulnerable: “These voters have been living with algae for many years now, and for Scott, who talks about getting things done, the fact nothing has changed on algae, and red tide goes right at his strength.”
“New Bill Nelson ad labels Scott as ‘Red Tide Rick’” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — Nelson is going into the swamp for his new television commercial attacking Scott over his past problems in the private sector, his finances and environmental record, labeling him, “Red Tide Rick.” The 30-second commercial, “Swamp,” features talking cartoon frogs that keep croaking, “Rick” and “Scott” each time a narrator rolls out an allegation about Nelson’s opponent. “Now our Florida is poisoned with toxic algae,” the narrator declares. “He’s so slimy. Let’s leave him in Tallahassee. We can’t trust Red Tide Rick.” “Nope,” croaks one of the frogs.
To view the ad, click on the image below:
Scott ad touts he’s ‘Good for Florida’ — In the latest 30-second spot, Scott says: “Florida needs a Senator who will work with the President of the United States.” “That may seem obvious,” he adds, “but Bill Nelson refuses to work with the president on anything — even issues that really matter to Florida. … As for me, I’ll work with President Trump when he’s doing things that are good for Florida and America … And when I disagree, I have the courage to say so.”
To view the ad, click on the image below:
LIBRE Action rolls out pro-Scott bilingual ads — The ads from the conservative Hispanic group, one each in English and Spanish, are focused on building support for Gov. Scott in his race for the U.S. Senate. In a statement, LIBRE Action Senior Adviser Daniel Garza said: “Latino families across Florida are eager to support a candidate who is focused on real solutions that address the challenges we face as a community and as a nation. Gov. Scott has been a champion for Latinos and a partner on the issues that matter most. He has shown his commitment to effectively serving a broad and diverse constituency, which includes engaging and listening to the concerns of our Latino community.”
To view the Spanish version, click on the image below:
To view the English version, click on the image below:
— NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —
Assignment editors — Former Vice President Joe Biden visits Florida to campaign for Nelson, Gillum, and other candidates on the Florida Democratic Party’s “Winning Ticket.” Biden will headline a Tampa rally, open to the public, the same day early voting starts in several counties across the state. Press preset begins 9:45 a.m., doors open 10:30 a.m., preprogram is 11:30 a.m., the main program begins noon, University of South Florida, East Gym, 12301 USF Maple Dr., Tampa. Media RSVP here.
“Interest in midterms surges, boosting Trump approval rating” via Janet Hook of The Wall Street Journal — A new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll has found … nearly two-thirds of registered voters showed a high level of interest in the election — the highest ever recorded in a midterm election since the Journal/NBC poll began asking the question in 2006. “It’s a barnburner,” Bill McInturff, a GOP pollster who conducted the survey with Democrat Fred Yang, said of the surge of voter interest. “There’s a switch that’s been flipped … They are engaging in the campaign and the process.” Also helping Republicans is a rise in President Trump’s job-approval rating to 47%, the highest mark of his time in office, with 49% disapproving his performance. That is an improvement from last month, when 44% approved and 52% disapproved of his performance. Democrats still lead on the question of which party should control Congress. Among poll respondents identified as likely voters, 50% prefer Democrats, while 41% prefer Republican control, about the same as in last month’s poll. Among all registered voters, a broader group of respondents, Democrats’ advantage over the GOP is narrower — 48% to 41%.
Assignment editors — The Florida Democratic Party hosts an early voting event for senior citizens featuring state Sens. Victor Torres and Linda Stewart, Orlando City Commissioner Regina Hill and Florida CFO candidate Jeremy Ring, 10 a.m., Beardell Senior Center, 800 South Delaney Ave, Orlando.
Happening today — The NAACP joins other civil-rights groups for a news conference about an initiative to turn out minority voters. Featured speakers include Miami Gardens Democratic Rep. Barbara Watson, 10 a.m., Florida Asian Services Center, 659 N.E. 125th St., North Miami.
For Our Future Florida doubles down on staff ahead of early voting – Progressive group For Our Future Florida said it’s doubled up on Sunshine State staffers ahead of early voting getting underway in some of the state’s largest counties Monday. For Our Future Florida has already been pounding the pavement in all corners of the state for weeks, but after expanding to 1,250 field staffers, which gives it the largest on-the-ground operation among PACs playing in Florida’s 2018 elections. Those numbers, which don’t include its volunteer recruits, give the group enough manpower to rap on more than 300,000 doors a week, a threshold it eclipsed last week. “The scale of this program is due to the fact that we’ve been on the ground, organizing in communities since we launched in 2016. We never left. That work has enabled us to build relationships and create a statewide volunteer program dedicated to working on the issues that matter to Floridians,” state director Ashley Walker said.
Sean Shaw invokes father, PBA to counter ‘cop killer’ sympathy accusation; Ashley Moody sticks by ad” via Jacob Ogles of Florida Politics — Florida Police Benevolent Association leaders defended Democratic Attorney General candidate Shaw against allegations he supported going easy on a “cop killer.” Shaw and the law enforcement leader also invoked the memory of Shaw’s father while dismissing the new attack. “We know from firsthand experience that Representative Sean Shaw, like his father Justice [Leander] Shaw, fully supports law enforcement officers and their families,” said Mark Puckett, executive director of Florida’s PBA. The defense follows a fresh ad questioning if Shaw would support law enforcement. The TV ad says Shaw “backed reduced punishment for a cop killer.” Shaw labeled the ad a “misleading and reckless” attack by Republican Attorney General candidate Moody.
Matt Caldwell, Nikki fried question each others’ allegiances in Agriculture Commissioner race” via Bruce Ritchie of POLITICO Florida — Caldwell, a North Fort Myers Republican, defended his environmental record and ties to the National Rifle Association during a debate with Democrat Fried in the contest for state Agriculture Commissioner. Caldwell and Fried faced off on “Facing South Florida” on CBS4 in Miami for the only debate of the race. Caldwell, who has been endorsed by the NRA with an “A+” rating, was asked by debate host Jim DeFede if he was too close to the group to regulate weapons. “No one should get a license if they are not qualified for it,” Caldwell said. “And if somebody is not doing their job, they should get fired.” Fried said the department under Adam Putnam “was beholden” to the NRA and that Caldwell has been “dismissive” of the licensing issue. She said the state should consider putting licensing under a law enforcement agency such as the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. “I think we need to start that conversation to make sure we are doing it in an effective and accountable manner,” Fried said.
Assignment editors — Marsy’s Law for Florida, the group advocating crime victims’ rights through Amendment 6, will host a public early voting rally featuring special guests including former Miami Heat basketball players, entertainment by The Old Skool Gang and free food, 4 p.m., Miramar Branch Library, 2050 Civic Center Pl., Miramar.
— MORE NOTES FROM THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL —
“Sanjay Patel launches digital ad in CD 8 race” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The two-minute, 17-second video offers a montage of images of Florida’s Space Coast and Treasure Coast from Kennedy Space Center rocket launches to beaches; of struggles, of someone suffering health problems in a bed, dead fish, and toxic algae; and also of Patel himself, in contemplation, and meeting with voters. The video has a distinctive progressive Democratic theme of the powerless against the powerful, summed up with his observation, “It’s time to prove that the power of the people is stronger than the people in power.”
To view the ad, click on the image below:
“Kristen Carlson outraising Ross Spano in U.S. House race, polls tight” via William March of the Tampa Bay Times — Democrat Carlson expanded her fundraising lead over Republican Spano in Florida’s 15th Congressional District race during August and September, as one top analyst forecast the race razor close. Carlson pulled in $579,017 for a total so far of $905,567, including $92,114 from herself, and showed $502,151 in cash. Spano raised $191,530 for a total $439,952, including $104,500 from himself, and showed $165,613 in cash — but also debts of $165,366 to campaign vendors. Polling analyst Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com rates Spano ahead by less than 2 points and gives Carlson a 40 percent chance of winning in the GOP-leaning district.
“Brian Mast, Lauren Baer: National groups pumping more money into 18th District congressional race” via Ali Schmitz of TCPalm — The GOP’s Protect the House donated $96,000 to Rep. Mast‘s re-election campaign in September, bringing his total to $190,000 — the most the group has donated to any of the 26 candidates it’s trying to elect to retain control of the House. Vice President Mike Pence and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy launched the fundraising committee to help especially vulnerable candidates. So why has Protect the House poured the most money into Florida’s 18th Congressional District race, when nonpartisan political analysts have long maintained Mast will win? Both parties have promoted both candidates as “crucial” for House control. Increased ad spending is often a sign a race is growing more competitive, but because it’s less than a month before the election, it could be a sign campaigns are simply emptying their coffers, said Spiro Kiousis, a University of Florida professor who studies political communications.
“Carlos Curbelo, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell fling attacks during English-language TV debate” via Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — And though WPLG’s Michael Putney led off the debate with health care, Mucarsel-Powell went immediately on the attack, blasting a protest by Republicans and far-right activists against House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi this week at a campaign event Mucarsel-Powell attended with Donna Shalala. Curbelo condemned the protest and said he had no connection to it, but also took a shot at Mucarsel-Powell for promoting a campaign event with Rep. Barbara Lee, a liberal member of Congress who praised Fidel Castro after his death in 2016. Lee’s scheduled appearance sparked the protest, but she ended up as a no-show at the event. As Putney and Milberg attempted to move through a variety of policy issues like health care, taxes, and guns, the debate careened from the protest attack to Curbelo attacking Mucarsel-Powell for “not working in three years” and Mucarsel-Powell attacking Curbelo for an attack ad against her that depicts a man holding a gun. Mucarsel-Powell said her son was watching baseball the other night when the ad came on, and it upset him.
“Hecklers curse and call Nancy Pelosi a ‘communist’ as far right disrupts a political event” via Eli Rosenberg of The Washington Post — It was yet another incident that stoked fears that the country’s bitter and emotional political environment is at risk of leading to violence. The video shows a small group of protesters cursing at Pelosi and calling her a communist in English and Spanish, as she enters an event Wednesday in Coral Gables to campaign for Democrat Donna Shalala in Miami. “You don’t belong here,” one says, telling her to get out in Spanish: “Afuera!” After Pelosi calmly walks by them and enters the building, people bang on the door. “Open up! It’s the Proud Boys in here,” one says, referencing the far-right group that was implicated in a street brawl in New York last weekend. “Socialism sucks,” others chant.
“Donna Shalala, Debbie Mucarsel-Powell will not return money from Castro-supporting lawmaker” via Martin Vassolo and Alex Daugherty of the Miami Herald — Barbara Lee never came to Miami. But the mere mention of the California lawmaker’s name on the programming flier for a campaign event in Coral Gables was enough to trigger a protest, a call for South Florida Democratic candidates to divest from her campaign contributions and an attack ad from a Super PAC aligned with House Speaker Paul Ryan. The congresswoman, who turned heads in 2016 by praising former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro after his death, was listed as an expected guest at a “Get Out the Vote” event on news releases issued by the campaigns of Democrat Shalala and Mucarsel-
New Spanish-language ad: Shalala should be ‘ashamed’— “Castro” is the new ad in Florida’s 27th Congressional District from the Congressional Leadership Fund, the super PAC endorsed by House Republican leadership. The 60-second Spanish-language spot attacks Shalala for campaigning with “political ally” Barbara Lee, the California Democrat who said Fidel Castro’s death should be mourned and lobbied President Obama to oppose sanctions on the Maduro regime in Venezuela: “Donna Shalala is not from Miami … she doesn’t speak Spanish … and she doesn’t understand our community.” The radio ad will run in the Miami media market. Listen to the ad here.
— DOWN BALLOT —
“Conservative committee sends ‘sexist’ Amanda Murphy attack mailer” via Janelle Irwin Taylor of Florida Politics — The Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee this week sent out a demeaning attack ad against Democrat Murphy, who faces Ed Hooper for Senate District 16 in north Pinellas. On one side is the image of a young girl wearing a larger than life bow on her head while crying. Next to her, it says, “career politician Amanda Murphy behaves like a spoiled child.” On the other side is a claim: “Amanda Murphy throws a fit when she doesn’t get her way … because Amanda Murphy is good at making a spectacle but fails when it comes to making a difference.” The mailpiece does not make any specific reference to “fits” she has thrown or offered any action to back up the assertion she behaves like a “spoiled child.” In the era of “#MeToo,” the ad might appear to some as tone deaf.
Realtors roll out more House endorsements — Florida Realtors PAC announced four more candidate endorsements for the Florida House: Chuck Brannan in House District 10; Anthony Sabatini in HD 32; Mike Beltran in HD 57 and Ray Blacklidge in HD 69. The full Florida Realtors® PAC 2018 general election endorsement list can be found at pac.floridarealtors.org.
National GOP group names Ardian Zika among ‘Races to Watch’ — Republican State Leadership Committee honored Zika in its “18 in ’18 Races to Watch” List. “Republicans at the state level would not be reaching historical highs, without the growing diversity of our party, and candidates like Ardian Zika. Ardian represents the best from our Future Majority Project (FMP) and Right Women, Right Now (RWRN) initiatives. The RSLC has invested over $20 million in these initiatives since 2011, electing 500 new female and 100 new diverse office holders in the process,” said Matt Walter, President of the Republican State Leadership Committee.
“Stockton Reeves’ new TV ad paints Anna Eskamani as radical” via Scott Powers of Florida Politics — The new commercial, running on Orlando cable, draws stark contrast, depicting Eskamani with chaotic shots of her speaking at a rally, and of other people rioting; and then of himself with shots of him with his wife and two young children, and calm pictures of happy people. “This district isn’t home to extremists. But it is home to independent leader Stockton Reeves,” the commercial states. Eskamani dismissed the commercial as “laced with lies and dog whistling.”
To view the ad, click on the image below:
— AFTER MICHAEL —
“Hurricane victims’ biggest fear: ‘people are going to start forgetting’” via Glenn Thrush and Alan Blinder of The New York Times — Many in Jackson County are simply not ready for the hurricane relief to end. There is a feeling, fair or not, that officials are moving too fast, chasing the image of normalcy before a real recovery has taken root. That feeling of being hurried, and eventually left behind — the normalizing of a catastrophe — is a growing worry for people who are caught between a short-attention-span country that has seen one disaster after another and the long-term effort it takes to rebuild battered lives. Marianna, with a population of about 10,000, was hit almost as hard by Hurricane Michael as Panama City was … Downtown Marianna still looks like London after the Blitz. There are signs that the region is slowly recovering. Power has returned to downtown Marianna, allowing a few stores to reopen, including the gas station and the Winn-Dixie supermarket. “It does a lot of good for people to look out and see the glow of those lights at night,” said Louis Roberts III, the county sheriff.
“’Mexico Beach Strong’: An obliterated community vows to rebuild after Michael” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — Hurricane Michael destroyed Mexico Beach physically, but residents will be damned if the wake of that monster crushes its spirit. Survivors who have lost everything hope one thing is spared: the charm that kept Mexico Beach an off-the-beaten-path bastion of The Other Florida. “We really hope — we know it’s probably not going to happen — but we really hope it stays the same,” Julie Gardner said. “We don’t want to be commercialized. We don’t want a bunch of chains coming in here. We want it to stay a little mom and pop little town. Mexico Beach relies on the thousands of summer tourists to support the economy. It is unknown when it will be possible for them to come back. But it will happen, people here say. Eventually. Right now, their task is to hold each other up.
“Panhandle medical care on life support after Michael” via Brendan Farrington and Jay Reeves of The Associated Press — Panama City’s two major hospitals, Bay Medical and the 216-bed Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center, still aren’t admitting patients. Only emergency room services are available at either facility. Patients with the most serious needs are being sent to other hospitals by ambulance or helicopter. Both hospitals are receiving help from Disaster Medical Assistance Teams, which set up air-conditioned tents in parking lots and operate something like the military field hospitals depicted in the old television series M*A*S*H. Besides the care they’d provide on a typical basis, like treating strep throat, doctors and nurses also are treating many people with storm-related injuries and health conditions. While they aren’t admitting patients, the hospitals are stabilizing people with serious injuries or illness and transporting them to hospitals outside the heavily damaged areas.
“FCC chairman Ajit Pai eases up on criticisms to Michael response” via Samantha Gross of the Miami Herald — Federal Communications Commission chairman Pai praised Florida’s first responders and telecommunications companies Friday — a positive change in tone from earlier this week. The chairman was in Tallahassee Friday afternoon, meeting with state officials at the emergency operation center discussing the response to Hurricane Michael. In a statement, the chairman took a different tone. He demanded the nation’s wireless carriers compensate Florida customers with free cellular and data service, and slammed the companies for failing to restore service to the Florida Panhandle quickly. Pai said that the companies’ failure was “completely unacceptable” and said he plans to launch an investigation. He told reporters Friday that he was happy to see telecom companies react to his statement and contribute resources to local relief efforts.
“Michael struck at the worst time for Florida and Georgia pecan, cotton farmers” via Mark Hinson of the Tallahassee Democrat — Go south on the path of the storm and the story gets more depressing when you talk to survivors who own land or work on farms. The Georgia Department of Agriculture said this week that losses are between $2.3 billion and $2.8 billion. From the car, whizzing by Highway 91, the cotton fields look fine, even though the eye of Hurricane Michael went straight through the farm communities. Upon closer inspection, many of cotton puffs and unopened bolls are in the dirt. Some of the cotton plants were sprayed with a chemical before Hurricane Michael to make them more sturdy against the winds. It worked, and it did not. “It could not have happened at a worse time,” land renter and veterinarian Dr. Cleve Bridges said of the cotton crop near the banks of the Chattahoochee River. “It was prime harvest time.”
“VISIT FLORIDA plans $9M marketing push to counter Michael” via Jim Turner of the News Service of Florida — The taxpayer-funded tourism agency’s executive committee voted Friday to support a plan that includes highlighting what has reopened in areas hit by the deadly Oct. 10 storm in Northwest Florida. The plan also seeks to call attention to other areas of the Panhandle, such as Pensacola, that were largely unscathed and deliver a message that “the rest of Florida is wide open for business.” “If we do not manage the customer perception, it could be very devastating to our economy if they think that (hurricane damage) is very widespread,” said committee member Dan Rowe, president and CEO of the Panama City Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau.
“10 days after hurricane, football offers a welcome escape” via David Brandt of The Associated Press — Under the bright sunshine at Tommy Oliver Stadium in downtown Panama City, a small return to regular life had already begun. For a few hours, football was important again. And the Dolphins were ready to punch back against the Pensacola Tigers. In many ways, it was almost shocking to see football being played in the midst of such widespread devastation. From the higher seats of the stadium, the effect on Panama City was evident, with debris, utility crews and snapped pine trees as far as the eye could see. It was a joyful gathering where everyone forgot their worries. Fans, football players, cheerleaders and band members from several area schools were at the game. “Man, this is great,” said Nate Starr, the lead game official whose home in Callaway was heavily damaged during the storm. “It gets the community together. We’re all family now.”
“Ships wrecked on Dog Island in 1899 unearthed by Michael” via Karl Etters of the Tallahassee Democrat — Ships that washed ashore on Dog Island during the 1899 Carrabelle Hurricane were unearthed completely by Hurricane Michael’s vicious storm surge last week. It’s unclear which of the 15 ships, or how many, that grounded on the Franklin County barrier island during the storm 119 years ago were unearthed. Sitting on the Gulf of Mexico side of the island, the wooden ships now rest in plain view near the west end of the island.
Happening today — Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam meets with Gulf County officials and tour areas hit by Michael, 11 a.m., Gulf County Emergency Operations Center, 1000 Cecil G. Costin Sr. Blvd., Port St. Joe.
— STATEWIDE —
Happening today — Representatives of Equality Florida and other groups will deliver letters to Gov. Scott’s office to request protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer state employees, 1:15 p.m., outside the Governor’s office, The Capitol.
“Florida county dedicates new Civil War memorial” via The Associated Press — A new monument in Tampa was erected with a nod to those who fought for both the Confederacy and the Union. The new memorial features two granite obelisks mounted with informational plaques and separated by a few dozen feet of blue marble meant to symbolize the Hillsborough River. Until Saturday, Veterans Memorial Park included monuments honoring local veterans from nearly every major American conflict — but no major monument dedicated to the Civil War.
“Fire blazes at Santa’s Enchanted Forest, video shows” via Carli Teproff of the Miami Herald — Flames and billowing smoke coming from Santa’s Enchanted Forest in Southwest Miami-Dade could be seen Sunday from the Palmetto Expressway. Helen Avendano, a spokeswoman for Miami-Dade Fire Department said a call came in at about 7:30 p.m. reporting trees and bushes were on fire at the amusement park. It appeared that the fire had been started by a power line, she said. The fire was out by about 8 p.m., Avendano said. No injuries were reported and the extent of the damage was not immediately known.
— OPINIONS —
“Don’t let the gambling industry confuse you on Amendment 3. It’s not about schools” via Fabiola Santiago for the Miami Herald — The latest tactic of the gambling lobby comes by way of ads that tell you a Yes vote would be an anti-schools vote. Nonsense. Schools have both state and local budgets that fund them. As for the size of the state’s tax dollar pot, there’s already plenty of gambling in Florida that generates revenue — including the state lottery, which funds education, although not at the levels originally promised. If you want to help better fund schools in Miami-Dade, for example, vote to give teacher pay raises on referendum #362. But don’t fall for the line that gambling funds education. Gambling funds crime and corruption; you can’t hire enough law enforcement to keep up.
“Greg Munson: Four nonpartisan principles on Florida water” via Florida Politics — Whoever wins Florida’s upcoming elections will — or should — face difficult decisions on Florida’s water supply, water quality and environmental restoration. After nearly two decades engaged in the controversial debates about Florida’s water and environment, and a substantial amount of time in the outdoors, I offer a few nonpartisan principles to those newly elected: Collaboration is more effective than confrontation; Beware of the “fix du jour;” Don’t demonize the opposition; Follow the science. Following these recommendations is the easy part. Actually, balancing the food, power, water, and goods we need with the environmental impacts is where the buck stops.
“Michael Williams: Hurricane Michael showed how we bend but don’t break” via The Capitolist — We live in the Big Bend area of Florida. It gets its name from the way the coast bends around from north-south to east-west. But after seeing what I’ve seen over the past week, I think there’s another reason. When I was helping my parents clean up, only one tree was down in their backyard. When I went to take a closer look, I saw this. The tree had fallen down on another tree, bending it over just to the point of breaking. When I saw that I immediately thought, “Wow. This is the perfect image of our community.” As soon as the hurricane passed, first responders and utility workers were out in the streets doing their jobs, trying to return people to a little bit of normalcy. We are a Big Bend people. We support those around us and serve even when it feels like one more thing could make us break, but we don’t. We just bend a little more.
“Will Weatherford: Let voters decide on expanded gambling” via Florida Politics — After spending eight years in the Florida Legislature, the last two serving as speaker of the House, I came to a conclusion about the future of casino gambling in Florida. Some decisions are better put into the hands of the people. Casino interests have become one of the most powerful special interest groups in Tallahassee. The pressure they apply to the political process is nonstop. It is why, almost every legislative session, we see casino expansion on the agenda. If nothing more, taking gambling off the political agenda will allow lawmakers to focus on the issues that matter most to their constituents. Voters know when to say when. They serve as a check and balance on the political process. Voter control works. That is why I proposed restoring it in 2014 and why I support Amendment 3 now.
— MOVEMENTS —
New and renewed lobbying registrations:
Al Cardenas, Slater Bayliss, Stephen Shiver, The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners: AFIMAC Global
Nick Iarossi, Ashley Kalifeh, Capital City Consulting: Hygea Holdings
Andrew Kalel: Criminal Conflict & Civil Regional Counsel Region Four, Criminal Conflict and Civil Regional Counsel Second District
Sean Pittman, Pittman Law Group: Trulieve
Lincoln Quinton, NorthPointe: New Home Title
Teye Reeves, Smith Bryan & Myers: National Council of State Boards of Nursing
Clark Smith, Southern Strategy Group: Validity Diagnostics
— ALOE —
What Michelle Todd is reading — “UCF is the best college football team in Florida. So, where’s the respect?” via Marc Tracy of The New York Times — Florida, after all, has the highest percentage of high school players who are recruited by Division I teams, the most blue-chip recruits of any state, and is by many other metrics the best state in the country in which to set up a college football team. And that makes UCF the current definition of disruption in college football. Still, undefeated UCF is probably the fourth- or fifth-best-known team in the state, a directional university celebrating its 50th anniversary, whose football program has played in college sports’ top tier for barely two decades. Three years ago, UCF went 0-12. Yet the No. 10 Knights are, for a second year in a row, the best team in the state and one of the best anywhere else. In the last five years, they have won two New Year’s Day bowl games. They hold the longest active winning streak in the Football Bowl Subdivision, at 19 games. “I often say that reputation lags reality,” said Dale Whittaker, the UCF president. He was referring to the university as a whole, but it might apply to the football team especially.
“Disney Princess Kristen Bell has some real concerns about ‘Snow White’ and consent” via Lindsey Bever of The Washington Post — Bell, who provided the voice of Princess Anna in Disney’s animated film “Frozen,” told Parents magazine that when she reads “Snow White” to her two young daughters, she poses a question: “Don’t you think that it’s weird that the prince kisses Snow White without her permission? Because you cannot kiss someone if they’re sleeping!” She told the magazine she also warns her 3- and 5-year-old daughters not to take apples — or anything else — from strangers. “Every time we close Snow White I look At my girls and ask ‘Don’t you think it’s weird that Snow White didn’t ask the old witch why she needed to eat the apple? Or where she got the apple?’ I say, ‘I would never take food from a stranger, would you?’ And my kids are like, ‘No!’ And I’m like, ‘OK, I’m doing something right.’”
“Why Spaceship Earth may miss Disney World’s 50th anniversary” via John Gregory of Orlando Rising — Disney news site WDW News Today reported earlier this month that Spaceship Earth would be undergoing a major overhaul, closing in early 2020 and not reopening until the second half of 2022, in time for Epcot’s 40th-anniversary celebration. This would mean the ride housed in the iconic Epcot structure would be closed through the resort’s 50th anniversary year … the rumored Spaceship Earth plans would deviate from the timeline of other Disney World projects — including Epcot’s Guardians of the Galaxy coaster and Ratatouille ride — which are all supposed to be ready in time for 2021. “They don’t want any construction happening for the 50th. That entire year, they don’t want any construction on any of the parks,” an Epcot cast member, who asked to remain anonymous to speak candidly, told Orlando Rising. “If you have hopes of anything being made, it would have to start in time to open for the 50th, and I think they have their hands full right now.”
“Wet and mild: Warm winter predicted for much of the U.S.” via The Associated Press — Tampa meteorologist Jennifer Hubbard said the Tampa Bay area could expect mostly the same, with mild winter temperatures near or slightly above average, as well as more rain than usual. Hubbard said the bay area’s streak of record-breaking hot weather in October is not related to El Nino, but is instead caused by a combination of factors, such as dry high pressure in the area the past few weeks — which blocks rainfall — easterly winds and little sea breeze. “All of that together, we basically bake,” Hubbard said.
Happy birthday from the weekend to Cameron Yarbrough and state Rep. Larry Lee Jr. Celebrating today is our brilliant friend, Tony Carvajal of the Florida Chamber Foundation, former Sen. Nancy Detert, and Watson Haynes.