Headlines – Page 5 – Florida Politics

New Rick Scott ad urges voters to ‘think again’ about Bill Nelson’s independence

Gov. Rick Scott, the presumptive Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, urges Florida voters to “think again” when it comes to an ad claiming Sen. Bill Nelson is an “independent” voter in the Senate.

“Nelson votes with Democrats over 90 percent of the time,” the digital ad released Tuesday by Scott for Florida asserts.

“He voted with Obama to cut billions from Medicare,” the ad continues.

The ad also noted Nelson’s vote against last year’s Republican tax reform package, and the Senator’s recent about-face on backing judicial nominee Allen Winsor.

“Bill Nelson isn’t fighting for Florida,” concludes the narrator. “He’s only fighting for Democrats.”

This digital spot is the latest ad in an unrelenting barrage of Scott ads against Nelson.

Jeff Greene launches two TV commercials, blasting Trump, remembering Dad

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jeff Greene is airing his first television commercials to Florida this week, starting with a 30-second spot showing him being tough with his Palm Beach neighbor President Donald Trump.

He is also launching a 60-second spot that highlights his father’s economic struggles and what they mean to him now.

Greene is going up in a big way, spending $2.9 million of his own money on this week alone on the TV ads and a digital buy, which his campaign said is four times the dollar amount of his closest Democratic competitor.

Greene, the Palm Beach billionaire real estate investor, entered the race June 1. And after a lull, he is leaping into a battle royale that already has Gwen Graham, Philip Levine, Andrew Gillum and Chris King racing toward the August 28 Democratic primary for governor.

The 30-second ad is called “Jeff Greene Stands Up to Trump,” but might as well take the name of the commercial’s tagline that is an early theme of Greene’s campaign rhetoric: “The timid need not apply.”

A press release Tuesday morning states: “Greene’s unique appeal to Florida Democrats lies in his ability to spend whatever it takes to go toe-to-toe with historically better-funded Republicans in the general election to help Democrats regain control of the governor’s mansion for the first time in 20 years without being beholden to special interest groups.”

The Trump commercial begins with a narrator declaring, “Jeff Greene stood up to Trump on national TV.” Greene is then shown appearing on CNBC in a pre-2016 election interview in which he says, “I know enough about Donald Trump to be scared to death to see him as our president.”

The narrator then takes over, adding: “Is standing up to him on gun safety, affordable health care, and women’s choice. But Jeff is the only candidate in America who was willing to stand up to Trump in his own dining room.”

That features a brief video clip, without audio, of Trump and Greene standing a few feet apart from each other at Mar-a-Lago angrily yelling and gesturing at each other.

In the longer commercial Greene tells the story of how, when he was 15, his father lost his textile mill machinery business in 1970 after the New England textile industry collapsed.

“When you lose your job you lose your dignity. You lose your pride. You could see the angst in his eyes,” Greene recalled.

“In Florida today, people are barely live week-to-week, paycheck-to-paycheck, and I know exactly what it’s doing to them because it happened to my family,” Greene says, as the video turns to shots of individual Floridians.

“We should have a responsive government that takes care of their needs. And as Governor, I’ll make sure that happens.”

The commercial then seeks to take viewers to the heart, though some might see it as melodramatic.

“Jeff Greene is running for governor, but maybe he’s really running for his dad,” the narrator concludes.

Philip Levine, Gwen Graham close in new poll

A new poll produced by the research organization Let’s Preserve the American Dream finds the Democratic gubernatorial race tight between Philip Levine and Gwen Graham, with newcomer Jeff Greene having a lot of ground to make up.

The poll was privately circulated June 12 by Ryan Tyson, vice president of political operations for the Associated Industries of Florida. Tyson also led the polling for the Let’s Preserve group, which has surveyed the race for two years.

This latest poll, taken June 6-9, shows Levine, the former Miami Beach mayor, with 24 percent of likely Democratic voters; former Congresswoman Graham with 21 percent; Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum with 11 percent; and Orlando businessman Chris King with 4 percent.

Greene, who filed to run June 1, received 3 percent. Thirty-seven percent of Democrats were undecided.

In a cover memo, Tyson noted that while Levine has a much wider lead in other polls, a comparison of internals, demographic samples, convince him that “this race is as close as the top lines suggest.”

In particular, the Let’s Preserve poll heavily sampled women voters — 58 percent of the survey group — taking in account the high female turnouts of the past two Democratic primary elections.

The Democratic gubernatorial primary may be the most competitive Florida has seen in a very long time, Tyson said.

“This one has not been given the attention it deserves,” he added. “It’s historic.”

The poll was conducted June 5-9 with 800 likely Democratic voters in Florida and high percentage [52 percent] over cellphones; it cites a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent, meaning Levine and Graham were essentially tied.

At that time, Levine and King were the only ones heavily advertising on television. King had just begun airing TV ads only a couple of weeks earlier; Greene had been in the race only a few days and hadn’t yet begun campaigning.

Graham launched her first TV commercial on June 6.

Polling also found that Graham and Levine were the only Democratic candidates to have cracked 50 percent in name identification, and are the only ones with significant favorability ratios.

Levine, who has been on TV since January, has a 69 percent name ID and a 43-5 percent ratio of favorable to unfavorable opinions among the Democrats surveyed.

Nevertheless, 21 percent have no opinion of the former mayor.

In contrast, Graham has a 38-6 percent ratio of favorable to unfavorable, with 17 percent having no opinion of her. Gillum’s ratios were 24-8 percent, with 17 percent offering no opinion; King is at 16-5 percent, with 19 percent having no opinion. Greene is 8-6 percent, with 19 percent having no opinion.

This leaves much room for potential movement in those numbers before the August 28 primary, as the report points out.

“The fun has just begun in this primary,” Tyson remarked. “Levine is up, but Graham has cash and is communicating. Now a supposed self-funder [Greene] is in and if he does begin to spend, who will he take from?

“Expect some changes in this one as spending really starts to ramp up.”

Q Poll: Republicans support separating immigrant children; no other group does

A new Quinnipiac University poll finds Republican voters strongly back the immigrant children separation issue, while every other political persuasion and demographic group in the survey oppose it.

The poll, released Monday afternoon, states that Republican voters, by 55-35 percent, support the policy of President Donald Trump of prosecuting parents immediately even if it means separating them from their children in detention and perhaps beyond that.

But Democrats, independent voters, and cross sections of whites, blacks, Hispanics, men, women, young voters, early-middle age voters, late-middle-age voters, and older voters; and, among white voters, those with or without college educations, all oppose the policy.

Only a few Republican leaders, notably Jeb Bush on Monday, have come out strongly against the policy, and virtually no political leaders who are not Republicans have offered any support for it.

Overall, 66 percent of those polled oppose the policy and 27 percent support it. The Republican support carried the support and was overwhelmed by 91 percent of Democrats and 68 percent of independent voters oppose it.

“When does public opinion become a demand that politicians just can’t ignore? Two-thirds of American voters oppose the family separation policy at our borders,” Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, stated in a news release.

“Neither quotes from the Bible nor get-tough talk can soften the images of crying children nor reverse the pain so many Americans feel,” he added.

Last Thursday through Sunday, Quinnipiac surveyed 905 voters nationwide, by landline and cellphone, and contends a margin of error of +/- 3.9 percent.

The poll also asked about a border wall, DREAMers, as well as other immigration issues.

But this month, the children’s issue is front-and-center with photographs and reports of crying little children being stripped from parents and put in cage-like detention centers.

Trump and his administration have contended the law requires it, and that it dates to Democrats. Democrats fiercely deny both of those contentions, arguing that the Trump administration began the policy all on its own this spring, leading to the separation of more than 1,000 undocumented children from their parents, including in families seeking legal asylum. Over the weekend Trump tweeted that the position is a negotiating position.

The Quinnipiac poll finds strong opposition regardless of the policy’s origin. The opposition is particularly strong among black voters [88 percent;] Hispanic voters [80 percent]; voters under age 35 [80 percent;] and women [70 percent]. Among all white voters, 60 percent oppose the policy, and among all men, 61 percent oppose. Even the cross-section of white men shows 55 percent opposition.

And among age brackets, the least opposition was with those voters age 65 or older, also opposed by 60 percent.

The survey also found support for immigrants, including those undocumented or illegal, in other areas.

Illegal immigrants currently living in the U.S. should be allowed to stay and eventually apply for citizenship, 67 percent of voters surveyed said.

Another 8 percent say they should be allowed to stay, but not become citizens, and 19 percent say they should be forced to leave.

Among Republicans, 48 percent say illegal immigrants should be allowed to stay and apply for citizenship, while 9 percent say they should be allowed to stay, but not become citizens, and 36 percent say they should be forced to leave. All other listed groups support by wide margins a path to citizenship.

Legal immigration to the U.S. should be increased, 30 percent of American voters say, as 17 percent say it should be decreased and 49 percent say it should be kept the same.

Only 39 percent said they support the construction of a wall along the Mexico border, while 55 percent oppose — just like the children’s issue, which had Republicans in dramatic contrast with almost every political persuasion or demographic group. Republicans support the wall by 77 to 19 percent, while Democrats oppose by 91 to 9, and independent voters oppose by 62 to 35 percent.

Among all the demographic groups broken out in the Quinnipiac poll, the only group that supports the wall are white voters without college degrees.

All other demographic groups were opposed by at least 51 percent.

Appellate court puts hold on smokable medical marijuana

An appellate court has shot down a trial judge’s order to make immediate her ruling that medical marijuana can be smoked in Florida.

The 1st District Court of Appeal, in a one-page order dated Monday, quashed Circuit Judge Karen Gievers‘ order allowing patients to smoke

The state’s appeal of the decision placed an automatic ‘stay,’ or hold, on the ruling pending review. Gievers’ order lifted that stay.

“The stay provided for by (the) Florida Rule(s) of Appellate Procedure … shall remain in effect pending final disposition of the merits of this appeal,” the appellate court’s Monday order said. “An opinion setting forth this Court’s reasoning will issue at a later date.”

A spokesman for the Florida Department of Health had said the agency is reviewing the ruling and “working every day to implement the law.” Smoking was banned by lawmakers and Gov. Rick Scott in an implementing bill passed last year for the 2016 constitutional amendment approving medical marijuana. 

The agency said medical marijuana is still available to patients — though not in smoking form. It regulates the drug through its Office of Medical Marijuana Use.

Meantime, attorneys for plaintiffs in the smoking case and for Joe Redner — the Tampa strip club mogul who won a decision allowing him to grow and juice his own medical marijuana — have asked the state’s Supreme Court to take over the appeals.

John Morgan, the Orlando attorney behind the constitutional amendment, also organized the smoking lawsuit. He has called on Republican Gov. Rick Scott, now running for U.S. Senate, to drop further court challenges of Gievers’ ruling.

She previously found “there is no likelihood of success” by the state on appeal.

The governor “is wasting taxpayers’ money on this frivolous appeal while veterans, cops, firefighters (with PTSD) and really sick people suffer,” Morgan said in a statement. “This callous meanness has no room in Florida. This act of cruelty will cost him the Senate seat.”

The department also reported last Friday that the state had surpassed 100,000 people with an approved medical marijuana patient identification card, but a spokesman said that would not trigger the issuance of another four licenses for marijuana providers under state law.

That “was everyone’s expectation and assumption,” Jeff Sharkey, founder of the Medical Marijuana Business Association of Florida, said last week. “I think there will probably be more than a little disappointment over this.”

Charges filed in alleged insurance fraud scheme involving AOB agreements

A contractor is facing charges in an alleged $140,000 assignment of benefits scam that targeted 19 homeowners.

The Florida Bureau of Insurance Fraud named Timothy Matthew Cox, who operated Nationwide Catastrophe Services Inc. and Restoration Response Services Inc.

“Criminals who prey on Florida families after a hurricane or tropical storm are some of the worst we see,” Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis said in a written statement.

“This type of fraud has skyrocketed and impacts all Florida consumers. One of my first actions I took as your CFO was to create Florida’s Disaster Fraud Action Strike Team to go after this type of fraud,” Patronis said. “With more than 100 ongoing investigations statewide, we are coming for anyone who takes advantage of our residents during vulnerable times.”

The scam involved taking insurance money under AOB agreements for repairs Cox never began in Brevard, Clay, Escambia, Flagler, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, and Volusia Counties, and also in Texas, following tropical storms and hurricanes, Patronis’ office said.

Instead, officials said, he deposited the money into bank accounts he controlled for his personal use.

Cox was booked into the Polk County Jail on June 5 on multiple counts of grand theft and racketeering; he could face up to 30 years behind bars. The Office of Statewide Prosecution is bringing the charges.

Patronis urged homeowners who have experienced or witnessed such fraud to call his Fraud Tip Hotline at 800-378-0445. They can remain anonymous if they choose.

Jeb Bush decries ‘heartless’ migrant family separation policy, highlights split between GOP electeds

On Monday, criticism of President Donald Trump‘s policy of migrant family separation at the Mexican border poured in, finally, from Republicans.

The policy involves warehousing immigrant children in former Walmarts and other holding areas. Tent cities for overflow have been proposed.

In the last six weeks, 2,000 migrant children — at least — have been separated from their families, with many of them lacking the ability to understand what is being done to them.

Multiple Senate Republicans (though not Marco Rubio) have decried the policy, as did former First Lady Laura Bush and current First Lady Melania Trump.

Late Monday morning, former Gov. Jeb Bush weighed in on Twitter.

Bush alludes there to the theory that forced separations of children from the age of infancy on up from parents are being used by President Donald Trump as a mechanism to get funding for wall expansion on the Mexican border.

South Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart joined Bush in harshly condemning the practice, calling it “totally unacceptable, for any reason” and “unconscionable.”

Bush and Diaz-Balart break with other elected Florida Republicans who, when asked very directly in recent days, couldn’t be brought to condemn what the former Governor calls a “heartless” practice.

Both Gov. Rick Scott and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam have fallen far short of expressly condemning the practice, saying that warehousing migrant minors wouldn’t be necessary if the immigration system weren’t “messed up,” with “secure borders” being the only possible fix.

Rep. John Rutherford offered the most explicit defense of the Trump policy.

“However, if they come across the border illegally, the parents have broken the law. Just like an individual here in Jacksonville when I was sheriff, if he broke the law, I put him in jail. That separated him from his children,” Rutherford added.

Rutherford also posited that there was an essential humanity in the treatment of these children.

“If you look at the way they’re being housed, they’re being fed, they’re being taken care of. They have playrooms, I understand. All of that — they’re not in prison,” Rutherford said, adding that they “shouldn’t be put in prison” with their parents.

“You certainly don’t want them housed with pedophiles and others who might be in that situation,” Rutherford noted.

#FlaPol in Review: A weekend roundup

Father’s Day greetings and discussions of the Donald Trump administration’s practice of separating migrant children from their parents crowded Florida’s political Twitter feed this week, and some politicians linked the holiday to the happenings at the border.

A reminder: While most pols messaged on the holiday, this edition will only include a few dad’s day sentiments.

Gov. Rick Scott, who’s competing on the top of the ticket against Sen. Bill Nelson, is looking forward to and anticipating working with Colombia:

Nelson, meanwhile, appeared in Tampa Saturday with his Republican colleague Sen. Marco Rubio:

In the race for Governor, former Congresswoman Gwen Graham shared a throwback photo of her and her father Bob Graham, a former U.S. Senator and Florida Governor:

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who’s competing alongside Democratic candidates in the Governor’s race, tied the border happenings to Sunday’s holiday:

Former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine made sure his team had a presence at a North Florida Pride celebration:

Orlando businessman Chris King wasn’t too happy with Agriculture Commissioner and Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam’s response to the news at the border:

Putnam, meanwhile, is actively rolling out endorsements from leaders in law enforcement:

In the statewide races for Cabinet, Denise Grimsley hit Southwest Florida for her campaign for Agriculture Commissioner:

Attorney General hopeful Sean Shaw traveled diagonally up the state:

Matt Caldwell, who’s running for Agriculture Commissioner, found himself in Clay County:

Attorney General candidate Ashley Moody stumped through Pinellas:

Congressman Ted Deutch isn’t happy about the current state of immigration policy:

Nor is state Rep. Margaret Good:

State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith weighed in on Scott’s World Cup ad:

State Rep. Jamie Grant wants pragmatic policy at the border:


Sean Shaw

Poll: Sean Shaw leads Ashley Moody, Frank White in Attorney General race

A new poll of the Attorney General race shows Tampa Democratic Rep. Sean Shaw leading his top Republican rivals in a head-to-head matchup.

According to an online poll commissioned by the campaign and conducted by Anzalone Liszt Grove Research, Shaw currently leads former Circuit Judge Ashley Moody by five points, 41-36 percent, and Pensacola-area state Rep. Frank White by 4 points, 40-36 percent.

In both cases, 21 percent of voters said they were undecided.

The poll did not measure Shaw’s performance against Jacksonville Republican Rep. Jay Fant, the third-place Republican in both fundraising and a recent survey of the three-way GOP primary.

“This poll is a reflection of what I’ve been hearing from Floridians all throughout the state,” Shaw said in a news release. “People are excited to finally have an Attorney General willing to fight for the people of our state, not the powerful. It is clear our plans to enact common-sense gun safety reforms, lock up scammers and violent criminals, and fight to protect the civil rights of every Floridian are what voters want in their next Attorney General.”

Self-identified Republicans narrowly outnumbered Democrats in the poll, 37-36, with the remaining 26 percent of those polled identifying as independent. On a generic state legislative ballot, the advantage swings toward Democrats, 36-34, with independents favoring Democrats by 7 points, 27-20 with 53 percent persuadable.

The polling memo shows Shaw with a double-digit lead among independent voters in both head-to-heads, and his lead was nearly the same among women — plus-10 if Moody is his opponent and plus-9 if he faces White. Hispanic and Latino voters preferred Shaw by 33 points in the Moody matchup and by 25 points in the White matchup.

The ALG survey included another positive tidbit for Democrats: President Donald Trump is still underwater in the Sunshine State.

The poll found 43 percent of Floridians had a favorable view of the president, while 54 percent find him unfavorable. Among that group, 44 percent said they had a “very unfavorable” view of the president.

Independent voters were even resolute in their disapproval than the population at large, with 57 percent downvoting Trump and 38 percent in approval.

The online survey was conducted May 31 through June 6 and took responses from 1,204 likely general election voters. ALG said: “Because the survey was conducted online, there is no margin of error, and all respondents had access to the internet via a laptop, tablet, or smartphone.”

Shaw faces Hillsborough County attorney Ryan Torrens in the primary. Through May, Shaw held a massive advantage in fundraising, with $587,000 raised and $405,000 in the bank compared to $104,000 raised and $2,000 banked for Torrens. Shaw also leads in endorsements, including recent nods from the Florida Education Association and Florida Young Democrats.

On the Republican side, Moody leads in fundraising and has earned the support of term-limited AG Pam Bondi and 42 of 49 Republican county sheriffs. White, however, has self-funded to the tune of $2.7 million and leads Moody in cash on hand, $3.4 million to $2.1 million.

The primary election is Aug. 28. The general election is Nov. 6.

New Rick Scott attack ad bashes ‘negative’ Bill Nelson

Gov. Rick Scott‘s U.S. Senate campaign has dropped another television commercial attacking incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.

This time, it not just accuses Nelson of being a career politician who’s been around way too long, but also for being negative.

It’s the fourth consecutive attack ad the Scott campaign has released criticizing Nelson.

This time the ad accuses Nelson of going negative in his campaign — only it doesn’t address Nelson’s campaign exactly since Nelson’s campaign hasn’t actually released any negative commercials. So the commercial goes after the Democratic organizations that have been running negative ads on Nelson’s behalf and blames Nelson for them.

The new Scott 30-second ad, “Negative Nelson,” makes the leap quickly from around a long time to negative campaigning.

“When Bill Nelson was first elected, Richard Nixon was President. Yep. Nixon. A professional politician for 46 years, Nelson has learned some tricks.

“Cheap tricks, like attack your opponent regardless of the facts.”

The commercial then makes visual reference to a commercial being run statewide by Senate Majority PAC, a political action committee run by Democrats.

Nelson’s campaign has not yet released any commercials criticizing Scott. In fact, the Nelson campaign has not yet released any TV commercials, only two digital videos on the Internet, neither of them about Scott.

By contrast, “Negative Nelson” follows Scott’s “Pinto,” “New Ideas,” and “Party Line,” continuing the attack themes that Nelson is a lifelong politician, someone who votes the party line, and who is out of new ideas. The ad also does not specify what the attacks or facts are.

“Now that Nelson is attacking Rick Scott, you might ask, after almost a half-century in office, why can’t Nelson find much good to say about himself? Bill Nelson. Negative. A long, long time,” the Scott ad concludes.

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