Donald Trump Archives - Florida Politics

Adam Putnam will raise concerns about revamped NAFTA

State Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam will voice concerns Thursday about the potential impact on Florida’s produce industry of the renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement between the United States, Mexico and Canada.

Putnam, who has been a critic of the original agreement known as NAFTA, is slated to appear before the U.S. International Trade Commission.

When President Donald Trump’s administration announced a renegotiated and rebranded trade deal in October, Putnam said more work was needed to help the state’s farmers compete against growers in Mexico.

“I am disappointed that this new agreement has no new protections for Florida fruit and vegetable producers, who for too long have suffered from Mexico’s unfair trade practices despite our best efforts,” Putnam said after the reworked deal was announced.

Putnam has argued for years that pepper and tomato growers and other Florida farmers have struggled against Mexican counterparts who swamp the U.S. market each winter with low-cost produce.

The revised trade deal, which needs congressional approval, includes numerous issues, ranging from auto manufacturing and Canadian dairy imports to a dispute-settlement system.

Trump, who campaigned in 2016 arguing that NAFTA was poorly negotiated and hurting American workers and manufacturers, has proposed naming the revised pact as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement.


Donald Trump calls on Bill Nelson to concede

President Donald Trump sought to intervene in Florida’s legally-mandated vote recount Tuesday, calling on the state’s Democratic senator to admit defeat and again implying without evidence that officials in two pivotal counties are trying to steal the election.

“When will Bill Nelson concede in Florida?” Trump said in a morning tweet. “The characters running Broward and Palm Beach voting will not be able to ‘find’ enough votes, too much spotlight on them now!”

There have been bumps as Florida undergoes a recount for both the governor and Senate races. Palm Beach County said it won’t finish its recount by the Thursday deadline. And in oft-criticized Broward County, additional sheriff’s deputies were sent to guard ballots and voting machines, a compromise aimed at alleviating concerns. Those counties are both Democratic strongholds.

Still, the state elections department and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, which are run by Republican appointees, have said they have seen no evidence of voter fraud. A Broward County judge challenged anyone who has evidence of fraud to file a report.

Presidents have historically sought to rise above the heated partisan drama surrounding election irregularities. Former President Barack Obama wasn’t so publicly involved when a recount and legal process in the 2008 election delayed a Democrat taking a Minnesota Senate seat until July 2009. Former President Bill Clinton struck a lower tone during the 2000 presidential recount, which also centered on Florida.

But this year, the Florida recount was personal for Trump. He aggressively campaigned in the state in the waning days of the election and put his finger on the scales of the Republican gubernatorial primary this summer by endorsing former Rep. Ron DeSantis. After Election Day, Trump’s aides pointed to the GOP’s seeming success in the state as a validation that the president’s path to re-election remained clear — a narrative that has grown hazier as the outcomes have become less certain.

White House spokeswoman Mercedes Schlapp said Tuesday the President “obviously has his opinion” on the recount.

“It’s been incredibly frustrating to watch,” she said.

Still, there’s not much choice but for Florida to go through the process. State law requires a machine recount in races where the margin is less than 0.5 percentage points. In the Senate race, Republican Rick Scott’s lead over Nelson was 0.14 percentage points. In the Governor’s contest, unofficial results showed Republican former Rep. Ron DeSantis ahead of Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum by 0.41 percentage points.

Once the recount is complete, if the differences in any of the races are 0.25 percentage points or less, a hand recount will be ordered, meaning it could take even longer to complete the review of the Senate race if the difference remains narrow.

Broward Chief Circuit Judge Jack Tuter held an emergency hearing Monday on a request by Scott’s lawyers that deputies be put in charge of ballots and voting machines that aren’t being used until the recount is over.

An attorney for Broward Election Supervisor Brenda Snipes described layers of security including keycard and password access to rooms where ballots are kept, secured by deputies and monitored by security cameras and representatives of both campaigns and parties.

Scott’s lawyers had alleged in court documents that Snipes was engaging in “suspect and unlawful vote counting practices” that violate state law and that she might “destroy evidence of any errors, accidents or unlawful conduct.”

The judge said he could see no evidence of any violations, and said “I am urging because of the highly public nature of this case to ramp down the rhetoric.”

“If someone in this lawsuit or someone in this county has evidence of voter fraud or irregularities at the supervisor’s office, they should report it to their local law enforcement officer,” Tuter said. “If the lawyers are aware of it, they should swear out an affidavit, but everything the lawyers are saying out there in front of the elections office is being beamed all over the country. We need to be careful of what we say. Words mean things these days.”

Snipes has drawn criticism from Trump and other high-profile Republicans as her county’s election returns showed a narrowing lead for Scott during the ballot-counting in the days after Election Day, and even former Gov. Jeb Bush — who appointed her in 2003 — said she should be removed. Asked about those criticisms Tuesday, she hinted that she may not run for re-election in 2020.

“It is time to move on,” she said, later adding, “I’ll check with my family and they’ll tell me what I’m doing.”

Meanwhile, Elections Supervisor Mark Andersen in heavily Republican Bay County told the Miami Herald on Monday that he allowed about 150 people to cast ballots by email, which is illegal under state law. The county was devastated by a Category 4 hurricane in October and Scott ordered some special provisions for early voting there.

Manatee County, south of Tampa Bay, had to restart its recount Monday because a needed button on the machine wasn’t pushed. The error was caught after about a quarter of the county’s nearly 165,000 votes had been recounted, said Michael Bennett, the county’s Republican elections supervisor. It shouldn’t affect the county’s ability to meet Thursday’s deadline.

In Palm Beach, Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher said the county’s 11-year-old tallying machines aren’t fast enough to complete the recount by Thursday. The county is doing the Senate race first and will then do the governor’s race. If the deadline is not met in a race, the results it reported last Saturday will stand.


Associated Press writers Tamara Lush in St. Petersburg, Florida; Brendan Farrington in Tallahassee, Florida; and Darlene Superville and Zeke Miller in Washington contributed to this report. Material republished with permission of The Associated Press.

‘Ballots massively infected’: Donald Trump demands immediate call on Florida election

At least two of the three statewide elections recounts being conducted by Florida’s 67 counties are unnecessary, per President Donald Trump.

Trump alludes here to ballot anomalies in Broward County and Palm Beach counties, applying federal pressure that complements what allies are doing in-state.

Attorney General Pam Bondi on Sunday scolded the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for declining so far to investigate the tabulation of votes in Broward and Palm Beach counties.

Bondi, a Tampa Republican, also demanded Secretary of State Ken Detzner report all election irregularities in the Democratic-leaning counties to the Office of Statewide Prosecution, which reports to her.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott, as a U.S. Senate candidate and not as Governor, on Thursday announced a lawsuit against Broward and Palm Beach counties demanding records on the number of votes cast.

As totals stand on Monday morning, Republicans are set to win two of the three contested statewide races, with a Democrat winning the third.

Republican Senate candidate Rick Scott leads incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson by 12,562, Republican Gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis leads Democrat Andrew Gillum by 33,684 votes, and Democratic Agriculture Commissioner candidate Nikki Fried leads Republican Matt Caldwell by 5,326 votes.

Trump’s reactions are notable in the context of a victory lap press conference last week.

“Look at what happened in Florida,” Trump said. “We did unbelievably well, winning the Senate and the governorship against two talented people.”

Trump noted that “we weren’t expected to win” in Florida, framing the victories as a vindication of what he has done as President.

Throughout his remarks, Trump kept circling back to wins in Florida, where he rallied twice in the final week.

Ted Deutch: Every vote should count.

Count every vote. Why is that such a troubling goal for Gov. Rick Scott, Sen. Marco Rubio, and President Donald Trump?

As the margins narrowed in the U.S. Senate, Florida Governor, and Florida Commissioner of Agriculture races, Republicans responded to a close election by trying to erode confidence in our democratic institutions and prevent Florida voters’ voices from being heard.

Since Election Day, Rubio and Scott have spouted conspiracy theories, requested law enforcement investigations to harass elections officials, and filed lawsuits to cloud the vote counting process in suspicion.

These are acts of desperation and show that Republicans are afraid of what will happen if every Florida vote is counted.

Marco Rubio should remember that he is our U.S. Senator and is supposed to be representing every Floridian. His post-election tweets were irresponsible and are intended to slowly erode confidence in the results.

He baselessly claimed that Democrats “are here to change the results of election,” and that lawyers will “try to steal a seat in the U.S. Senate and Florida Cabinet.”

Sen. Rubio is not telling the truth and offered zero evidence for his conspiracy theories. He portrayed post-election night vote counting as a troubling anomaly. It wasn’t. After the 2016 election, 10 million ballots were counted over the course of 10 days after polls closed nationwide.

This year, five million ballots across the country had yet to be counted by Friday.

In many races, overseas, mail-in, and provisional ballots that are counted and verified after Election Day won’t change the outcome. But in Florida, we have six very close races that deserve to have every vote counted without interference from our Senator.

Sen. Rubio was joined by Gov. Scott who claimed “unethical liberals” are trying to steal the election. He unsuccessfully ordered the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate. In response, an FDLE spokesperson said that they would be willing to investigate credible allegations of fraud, but they hadn’t seen any.

That’s because our own Gov.’s allegations are a farce.

As Sen. Rubio and Gov. Scott could have guessed, President Trump took the bait and joined the fray on Twitter. He tweeted about “Election Fraud in #Broward and Palm Beach” and claimed Florida already chose Rick Scott for Senate. He even closed a Friday afternoon Twitter tirade by thanking Sen. Rubio for “exposing the potential corruption going on.”

But Sen. Rubio hasn’t exposed anything. He’s made baseless conspiracy theories that he knew would be fodder for a president that has used similar false allegations in the past to attack election results.

In 2018, Sen. Rubio amplified a President Trump tactic from 2016. After he lost the popular vote by a historic margin of 3 million votes, President Trump used unfounded voter fraud claims to waste taxpayer resources on a so-called the.

The commission was shut down after states refused to provide it with information that violated voters’ privacy and could have been used in erroneous voter purges like we’ve seen multiple times in Florida.

Sen. Rubio often portrays himself as a responsible and reasonable actor in a political world that has gone mad. Friday afternoon, he tried to dial back his false allegations of fraud by claiming that he just wants information on the state-mandated schedule.

But it’s too late.

Sen. Rubio fueled the president’s conspiracy engine this week in an effort to drive Florida’s election off the rails. We can all hope that the damage he’s caused won’t stop the work Florida’s elections officials are doing as three very close races proceed to automatic recounts that will ensure that every vote is counted.


U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch represents Florida’s 22nd Congressional District.

‘Un-American and unacceptable’: Matt Gaetz wants Broward SOE suspended

Congressman Matt Gaetz, one of presumed Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis‘ transition chairs, called on Friday for the suspension of Broward County’s supervisor of elections.

“The outrageous ballot-counting issues in Broward County are un-American and unacceptable. I call on Governor Scott to immediately suspend Brenda Snipes, Supervisor of Elections for Broward County,” Gaetz said.

Scott, of course, is in a race that is getting closer as votes from Broward and other locations have been counted. His campaign has already won a legal action in Palm Beach County regarding questionable vote counting.

Gaetz says Snipes “failed to follow state transparency laws during this election, and has a long history of misconduct, including preemptively destroying ballots.

“Behavior like this damages the integrity of Florida’s elections, which is our fundamental right as Floridians and as Americans. The bipartisan, Senate-confirmed Secretary of State should place the office in receivership and take over. Enough is enough,” Gaetz added.

Gaetz had already condemned issues in Broward and Palm Beach counties earlier Friday.

“It is absurd that since Election Night almost 80,000 Floridian ballots have been spoken into existence in the two most conspicuously blue counties. The supervisors for these counties have no explanation for where these ballots were, why they weren’t counted, or how many more even exist. This malfeasance erodes the faith that undergirds our democratic system, and after 18 years, Florida should have been better equipped to avoid this partisan brand of unlawful electioneering.”

“For a party that is willing to cry wolf over voter suppression in every election they lose, the Democrats have no problem relying on fraudulent ballots to do the heavy lifting for their candidates. I cannot and will not be the one who sits idly by and watches corruption of this magnitude occur without putting up a fight to stop this injustice,” Gaetz said.

Florida may see three recount scenarios in play. The Governor’s race sees DeSantis ahead of Democrat Andrew Gillum by just 36,070 votes at this writing. In the race for the U.S. Senate, Republican challenger Rick Scott clings to a lead just north of 15,000 votes over incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson.

And in the race for Agriculture Commissioner, Democrat Nikki Fried leads Republican Matt Caldwell by over 3,000 votes. Caldwell has filed an emergency injunction claiming that Broward accepted absentee ballots after 7 p.m. Tuesday, a violation of state law.

Gaetz’s ally, President Donald Trump, is not ruling out federal investigations.

“What’s going on in Florida is a disgrace,” Trump said Friday, noting “a lot of dishonesty” in Broward, and pointing out the issues with elections in past cycles in the Democratic stronghold.

Trump had already alleged “election fraud” Thursday, and repeated charges along those lines Friday.

‘Embarrassment to our country’: Donald Trump just can’t stay away from the Florida recount

The full power of the federal government may be brought to bear on Florida’s election drama, which will likely include three statewide recounts.

Pres. Donald Trumpmeanwhile, can’t stay away from the subject, which has obsessed him on Twitter as he heads to Paris for a summit.

The President had joked about a Russian conspiracy at first, before moving on to more thunderous statements indexed here, including calling the recount “an embarrassment to our country.”

The joke about blaming the Russians: a clear swipe at those who contend Russians interfered in the 2016 election that installed the President.

Trump wasn’t joking when he mentioned sending federal lawyers.

Given that the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is not investigating voter fraud given a lack of specific claims, it is uncertain what evidence the White House may have that has not been rehearsed publicly.

From there, the President lamented the shrinking vote margin in Rick Scott‘s favor in the Senate race, calling the closing margins an “embarrassment to our Country”

And he wasn’t through with Broward yet.

From there, some props for Sen. Marco Rubio, who has been vocal on this issue.

Trump, speaking to reporters outside the White House Friday morning as he headed to a Paris summit, did not rule out a federal role regarding the recount, especially regarding Broward County.

“They’re finding votes out of nowhere,” Trump said. “Rick Scott [won his Senate race] by a comfortable margin.”

Scott’s margin continues to narrow, with his lead down to just over 15,000 votes as of 10 a.m.

“It’s the Democrats. It’s always GPS Fusion … there’s a lot of bad stuff going on in this country, and I’m getting to the bottom of it … a lot of crooked stuff going on … it always seems to be going the way of Democrats.

“What’s going on in Florida is a disgrace,” Trump said, noting “a lot of dishonesty” in Broward, and pointing out the issues with elections in past cycles in the Democratic stronghold.

Trump had already charged Thursday that election fraud was taking place regarding vote counting in two South Florida counties.

The President did not, as of this writing, follow up with another tweet. However, he does conflate the allegation of “election fraud” with the assertion that his candidate won the election.

On Wednesday, Trump had declared victory in the Florida elections.

“Look at what happened in Florida,” Trump said. “We did unbelievably well, winning the Senate and the governorship against two talented people.”

However, Trump’s comments were before the Senate race and the Governor’s race trailed into recount territory, with the race for Senate now being subject to a manual recount.

The President is echoing the comments of Republican officeholders and candidates alike.

Hours before the President’s tweet Thursday, Gov. Rick Scott castigated “unethical liberals” for “rampant fraud” in Palm Beach and Broward counties, vowing that the FDLE will investigate.

“Every day since the election, the left-wing activists in Broward County have been coming up with more and more ballots out of nowhere,” Scott said.

Those ballots are going Democratic, to the chagrin of Scott and other Republicans.

GOP Agriculture Commissioner hopeful Matt Caldwell, whose lead has turned into a deficit as the count has gone on, likewise threatened to have his “legal team … pursue every option to ensure election results are counted fairly, accurately, and legally.”

Compared to Scott and Caldwell, Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis is less concerned about a recount … likely because he has a lead of over 44,000 votes, and is safe compared to Scott (who leads by roughly 15,000) and Caldwell (in a ~3,000 vote hole).

“The results of the election were clear. I am now focused on the transition effort and will allow the legal efforts regarding the election to proceed, as is necessary, as the process unfolds,” DeSantis asserted Thursday.

Recount of one needed? Patrick Murphy says ballot wasn’t counted

Former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy jumped into the fray surrounding multiple potential recounts in the state, saying he was informed his absentee ballot was not counted by Palm Beach County.

Murphy said on Twitter he was given a notice from the county that there was an “invalid signature match,” and that they were therefore unable to count his ballot.

“Should be +1 ,” Murphy wrote. “Must overhaul these ridiculous barriers to voting.” Florida Politics has reached out to the former congressman for further comment.

In speaking with Florida Politics, Murphy laid out how he discovered his vote would not be counted.

“I was more just out of curiosity looking at all these close elections and frustrated by the results,” Murphy said.

In the midst of researching the results, Murphy says he decided to go to the Palm Beach County website to ensure that his vote was registered.

“I’m looking at it. I’m like, ‘This can’t be real.’ Because all of a sudden it’s saying, ‘ballot received, invalid signature.’ It’s the same exact signature I used in the primary, same exact signature I’ve always used, same exact signature on my driver’s license. And, for whatever reason, it didn’t count this time.”

Murphy also says his ballot wasn’t registered as “received” until Election Day, which is after the deadline for verifying signatures in vote-by-mail ballots.

As the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections notes on its website, “The deadline to rectify a vote by mail missing the voter’s signature is 5 p.m. on the day before an election.”

Murphy suggested moving that deadline until the Thursday following the election at 5 p.m. That would put it in line with the deadline to verify voters’ provisional ballots and would have given Murphy a chance to prove that his signature was valid.

The former congressman also argued that wider reforms to the election systems should be looked at, such as using blockchain technology, as well as moving Election Day to a weekend to increase the accessibility of voting.

Palm Beach and Broward counties have taken heavy heat in recent days for their delays in counting ballots.

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Rick Scott has even gone so far as to allege an outright conspiracy by those offices to “steal” the election. Scott leads incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson by a sliver in that race.

President Donald Trump even joined in on Scott’s explosive allegations, with other Florida politicians jumping in as well.

Three statewide contests appear to be within the range to trigger an automatic recount. Those are the U.S. Senate race, Florida Governor’s race, and the contest for state Agriculture Commissioner.

In addition, state legislative races in Senate District 18 and House District 26 and 89 also look to be headed for a recount.

By law, any race with a lead of 0.5 percent or less triggers a mandatory machine recount. After that, if the margin of victory is still within 0.25 percent, a manual recount must occur, but only of undervotes and overvotes.

Murphy said the closeness of these races should signal the importance of making your voice heard during election time.

“Every vote does matter,” Murphy said.

“As tough as it is when you’re working two jobs and have kids at home and are fighting traffic, everyone does matter. And hopefully this is another sign of that, that whenever the next election is, whether it’s a local, state, federal one, that people get out there to vote.”

Murphy, who swapped his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat in 2011, served in the U.S. House 2013-17. He challenged GOP U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio for his seat as a Democrat in 2016, ultimately losing that race.

More recently, Murphy floated a potential bipartsian gubernatorial bid with former GOP U.S. Rep. David Jolly. That ticket never came to fruition, and Jolly later announced he was leaving the Republican Party.

Andrew Gillum closes gap with Ron DeSantis ahead of expected recount

On Friday, nearly three days after ballots began to be counted, we still lack clarity in who the next Governor will be.

We do know there will be a machine recount.

With a vote lead of 36,211 with over 8.2 million ballots counted (rounding up to a 0.46 percent edge) Republican Ron DeSantis, the 40-year-old former three-term Congressman who took the nomination with the President’s blessing has seemingly defeated Democrat Andrew Gillum to become the next Governor of Florida.

Seemingly being the key word.

The Governor’s race, like the U.S. Senate and Agriculture Commissioner races, has margins under the 0.50 percent threshold that triggers a recount. The world’s eyes again are on Florida elections, and this one especially as provisional ballot verification (a typically Democratic stronghold) comes into play.

The Gillum campaign wants every vote counted: “On Tuesday night, the Gillum for Governor campaign operated with the best information available about the number of outstanding ballots left to count. Since that time, it has become clear there are many more uncounted ballots than was originally reported.

“Our campaign, along with our attorney Barry Richard, is monitoring the situation closely and is ready for any outcome, including a state-mandated recount. Mayor Gillum started his campaign for the people, and we are committed to ensuring every single vote in Florida is counted,” asserted a campaign spokesperson.

Gillum, addressing supporters during a Facebook Live appearance Thursday, noted that he’s still trailing DeSantis.

“I want you to know that in spite of the fact that we’re a little bit down in the numbers, we’re hopeful that every single vote will be counted in this race,” Gillum said.

The narrative has changed from Election Night when Gillum called DeSantis and conceded victory, before the margin dwindled from what was a more than 1 percentage point lead.

DeSantis thumped his chest in victory at the time, delighting his base.

“The pundit class gave us no chance … the political and media class seemed eager to write our obituary … On Election Day, it’s the voice of the people that rules,” DeSantis said.

And based on available information, he was right. His base prevailed.

But with something less than a mandate, DeSantis even then extended a rhetorical olive branch to opponents.

“I don’t care if you were against me in the campaign,” DeSantis added, saying that his goal was to work together for the state.

An ameliorating coda to an explosive campaign.

And a campaign that may not be officially over if yet another recount scenario comes into play here.

DeSantis isn’t worried about that, though.

“I was honored Tuesday night to be elected 46th Governor of the State of Florida.  The results of the election were clear.  I am now focused on the transition effort and will allow the legal efforts regarding the election to proceed, as is necessary, as the process unfolds,” he told us Thursday afternoon.


This razor’s edge outcome is fitting for a battle of the bases, and a referendum both on President Donald Trump and the burgeoning progressive movement, that unlikely nominee Gillum has become a national leader of in recent months.

DeSantis, thus far, is the “apparent winner.” Though that doesn’t mean things will be predictable if he is inaugurated as expected.

While DeSantis has promised continuity with the Rick Scott era, those who have covered state government throughout Scott’s eight years know that some of the harshest battles were between the populist right in the state House and the more pragmatic Senate.

On the campaign trail and in outreach, DeSantis contrasted himself with Gillum, suggesting the Tallahassee Mayor’s policies are too far left for Florida.

The Ponte Vedra Republican pledged to veto any and all tax increases for the next four years, contending that a state’s low-tax environment is its greatest asset for expanding the economy. In contrast, Gillum in part ran on a corporate tax rate hike.

DeSantis, who has described himself as a “Teddy Roosevelt-Republican,” is outspoken on environmental concerns.

He railed against his primary opponent Adam Putnam for not faulting the state’s massive sugar industry for the proliferation of toxic algae blooms plaguing the Treasure Coast. He has promised to expedite the construction of a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee, expected to help ease the amount of toxic overflow into nearby estuaries.

Adding weight to his environmental policy platform was support from The Everglades Trust.


But ultimately, the issues of the day didn’t define Florida’s race for Governor.

Republicans put forth a candidate hand-picked by President Trump.

Democrats selected a candidate who was once considered a long shot, arguably the most progressive to ever run for statewide office and the only African-American gubernatorial candidate in the state’s history.

Accordingly, Trump and race occupied the mind of nearly every voter in the most polarized statewide campaign in the modern era.

DeSantis kicked off his post-primary campaign by claiming that electing Gillum would “monkey this up,” before dealing with a number of racial controversies regarding supporters that culminated with Gillum saying in a debate, “I’m not saying you’re a racist, but the racists think you’re racist.”

Identity politics factored into this campaign in a way few expected before the August primary.

Before Tuesday, Trump would visit the state three times to rally for DeSantis. The President would periodically commend DeSantis via his Twitter account, and in the final weeks made a point of condemning Gillum’s leadership skills, calling Tallahassee “the most corrupt city” in the country — even suggesting Gillum “is a stone-cold thief.”

DeSantis defended Trump as the campaign closed.

“From an economic perspective and a results perspective,” DeSantis said, Trump’s message is a “good message for folks.”

“You people have to decide: if you’re more concerned about tweeting than results, I respect that. That’s your vote, you can do what you want. To me, it’s all about results,” DeSantis added.

In the backdrop, ethics scandals involving both candidates drove campaign narrative, though Gillum’s was more affected.

A two-year-long investigation into corruption in Tallahassee plagued Gillum’s candidacy. The Mayor had vehemently denied being a “target.” But DeSantis made it stick, even though Gillum has yet to be subpoenaed by the FBI, and the agency hasn’t commented on his vulnerability as a leader.

But eleventh-hour developments in a state ethics investigation separate from the FBI’s suggested Gillum is more implicated than previously thought.

A series of records released in late October linked Gillum to the FBI, showing in part that the Mayor may have accepted a ticket to the Broadway musical “Hamilton” from an undercover agent posing as a developer wanting to do deals in the city.

Republicans used the news as attack fodder, while the left countered with questions about $145,000 of taxpayer-funded travel by DeSantis, which included trips to Fox News studios to boost his candidacy.

The election, however, came down to those quintessential Florida constants: Base turnout and the disposition of the No-Party-Affiliated voters.

And in outreach, neither had a tangible advantage.

Fueling each candidate’s appeal to voters was a near-even cash race, which ended in excess of $106 million. Each candidate would surpass the $50 million mark in fundraising before Tuesday’s showdown.

In trackable money, DeSantis led by just $1 million, meaning cash ultimately wouldn’t decide who prevailed.

But if the primary election’s principles were any indication, money meant little, to begin with.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, DeSantis’ primary opponent, put more than $30 million into his race but lost to DeSantis, who spent around $16 million.

Gillum doled out less than $7 million ahead of the Aug. 28 primary and won against the other four Democratic hopefuls — all of which had outspent him.

Because DeSantis and Gillum bucked traditional political wisdom by beating the better-funded establishment favorites in the primary, the race was essentially impossible to forecast. The gubernatorial finalists in 2018 weren’t supposed to be there in the first place.

And while polls almost entirely showed Gillum ahead by some margin, even he dismissed them as junk science.

In this case, that appears to be right. But the recount may (repeat, may) change things.

Check back for updates.


Tallahassee correspondent Danny McAuliffe and The News Service of Florida contributed to this post.

Donald Trump shows no love for Carlos ‘Quebella’

President Donald Trump, describing it as “very close to complete victory,” celebrated the wins of his endorsed candidates in Tuesday’s midterm elections, including what could be a 7-0 record in Florida.

During a rambling post-election news conference Wednesday, Trump also took a shot at Republicans who didn’t embrace him, such as Congressman Carlos Curbelo, who was narrowly defeated for his South Florida seat by Democrat Debbie MucarselPowell.

“They did very poorly,” Trump said. “I don’t know if I should feel happy or sad about it, but I feel just fine about it.”

Trump taunted Curbelo along with U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, who lost in Colorado; U.S. Rep. Barbara Comstock in Virginia; U.S. Rep. Mia Love in Utah; and U.S. Rep. John Faso in New York.

Curbelo’s spokeswoman Joanna Rodriguez tweeted a simple “Lol” in response after it was pointed out that Trump pronounced Curbelo’s name “Quebella.”

Curbelo was the only incumbent congressman in Florida to be defeated, while Democrats also flipped an open South Florida seat on Tuesday.

Curbelo broke with Trump on issues such as immigration. His district, which covers Southwest Miami-Dade County and all of Monroe County, has more registered Democrats than Republicans.

Trump publicly endorsed Gov. Rick Scott’s run for U.S. Senate; former Congressman Ron DeSantis for Governor; Congressmen Neal Dunn, Matt Gaetz and Ted Yoho as they ran for re-election; and congressional candidates Ross Spano and Michael Waltz.

“Rick Scott won, and I helped him,” Trump bragged after saying his efforts overcame “a lot of celebrities” that campaigned for Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.

The Scott-Nelson contest is expected to require a recount.

CNN: Pam Bondi in the mix for U.S. Attorney General

Outgoing Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi could become the next U.S. Attorney General, according to CNN.

“There are many people in contention for that position just because there are many qualified people who would like to do it,” Kellyanne Conway, one of President Donald Trump’s chief advisers, told reporters.

Sources listed Bondi in the mix, along with former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Of course, the network notes a potential stumble Bondi could face because of past controversy about a $25,000 contribution made by Trump University to Bondi’s re-election campaign in 2013.

Around the same time, Bondi’s office dropped an investigation of Trump University.

Bondi always maintained there was no connection between the investigation and the donation, but the timing of the events drew national criticism after Trump launched his presidential bid and Bondi endorsed Trump’s candidacy.

Congressional Democrats in 2016 called for an investigation into the legality if the donations and whether Bondi engaged in pay-to play. So the matter will surely come up again in any confirmation hearings on the Hill.

Trump yesterday asked for Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ resignation, thus creating the sudden job opening in Washington, D.C.

The moves comes at an interesting time for Bondi, who soon wraps up eight years as Florida Attorney General. She cannot run again because of term limits.

The Florida native earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Florida and law degree from Stetson University.

She’s focused during her time on office on cracking down on pill mills, work that landed her a spot on the President’s Opioid and Drug Abuse Commission. She’s also worked on Florida legislation regarding synthetic dtreet drugs.

She’s also focused on prosecuting human trafficking, chairing the state’s human trafficking council.

Florida just elected Republican Ashley Moody, whom Bondi endorsed in the primary, as the next Attorney General.

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