October 20, 2014

The Money Race: Crist fundraising outpaces Scott 6-to-1


Charlie Crist collected $6 for every $1 donated to Gov. Rick Scott during the most recent campaign finance reporting period covering Oct. 4 through Oct. 10.

Scott's campaign and political committees raised just $606,656 in cash and in-kind services, compared to Crist’s $3.2 million. This allowed Crist to move much closer to Scott in the amount of cash he has on hand to spend in the final two weeks of campaigning.

Just $656,537 separated Crist from Scott in cash-on-hand as of Oct. 10. With their campaign accounts and political committees combined, Scott had $7.5 million in the bank compared to Crist’s $6.9 million.

Crist’s political committee collected eight checks of at least $100,000 during the week, including several law firms that have collectively donated millions of dollars over the months. He also received another $200,000 from the Democratic Governors Association, bringing their total to $3.7 million.

Scott’s Let’s Get to Work political committee raised just $127,000, mainly $100,000 in the form of four checks from businesses related to Fidelity National Financial, a Fortune 500 company in Jacksonville that provides commercial and residential mortgages.

Continue reading "The Money Race: Crist fundraising outpaces Scott 6-to-1" »

Democrat Maurice Ferre and former P.R. Gov Luis Fortuño cut Spanish ad for Rick Scott


Republican Gov. Rick Scott released a Spanish-language two-fer ad Monday that attempted to both make him look bipartisan and reach out to a fast-growing, left-leaning segment of the electorate: voters of Puerto Rican descent.

The ad features former Puerto Rican Gov. Luis Fortuño and former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre, a Scott appointee to a transportation board, who contrast Scott's record with Democrat Charlie Crist's. 

"He’s a Republican," Ferre says in Spanish, pointing to Fortuño as they both walk in view of the camera.

"And he’s a Democrat," Fortuño says.

Ferre: "Agreeing on anything isn’t easy..

Fortuño: "But here's why we agree that Governor Rick Scott deserves your vote."

They then mention jobs and education. (Note: it says Scott lowered Crist's higher-education tuition increases, a claim we'll have to examine more closey).

Scott, who began Spanish-language outreach earlier than any other recent candidate for governor, appears to have shored up Cuban-American Republicans in Miami-Dade, where they account for about 72 percent of the registered Republicans.

Puerto Ricans, who tend to vote Democrat and live in Central Florida, are a different story. That's where Ferre and Fortuño come in. Both men are of Puerto Rican descent and, by cutting this ad, it's a good bet Scott will run it in the Orlando-area.

Whether Fortuño polls well there is a good question: He lost his 2012 bid for reelection. Ferre, who ran as a Democratic U.S. Senate candidate in 2010, isn't a big Crist fan. But his presence on camera is interesting in that Ferre chairs the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority board and voted to raise tolls -- a board vote that led the Scott administration to claim it wouldn't re-appoint another board member because he supported the increase.

That board member, Gonzalo Sanabria, said Scott's administration invented the excuse only after he told them he was resigning in protest over the Scott campaign's shoddy treatment of former fundraiser Mike Fernandez. Adding to the intrigue: Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera's mother, Shelly Smith Fano, is vice-chair of MDX. 

Regardless of whether Sanabria quit first or was blocked first, it appears that toll increases are ok after all -- at least for the guy who cut an ad that helps Scott's reelection bid.  

Charlie Crist casts his vote


Charlie and Cafrole Crist hopped out of a staffer's car in front of the downtown St. Petersburg elections office and a crowd of nearly 50 started singing happy birthday. Today is the former and maybe future first lady's 45th birthday, and they celebrated it by taking advantage of the first day of early voting.

Someone presented Crist with a hand-held, battery-operated fan, an homage of sorts to his debate performance last week.

The Crists cast the ballots, and then he joined a couple teachers outside- "We're voting for education today. That's really what this is about" - before taking questions for about 90 seconds.

Q: Republicans want you to return donations from strip club owners.

A" We got it from a management company as i understand it, so I'm happy to vote today. That's what today is all about--early voting."

Q: Republicans have a big lead in mail-in votes cast so far. Are you worried?

A: "Three of the biggest Democratic counties didn't send their's out as early as some of the others did, so I'm encouraged. I think it's going to be fine and I know it's a lot better than it was in 2010."

Q: Are you intimidated by reports that Scott might spend another $22-million of his own money?

A" "I'm not intimidated by it. Rick Scott talked about spending $100-million and we decided to to run again anyway because people deserve a choice and it isn't all about the money. Maybe it is to them but not to me."

Q: So will you have a fan for CNN debate?

A: "I have no idea."

Hotly contested race could shape Florida Senate

The most closely watched race in the Florida Senate is a bare-knuckle battle between two political rivals.

But the contest between Democratic state Sen. Maria Sachs and former Republican Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff is more than just a grudge match. It could also give Republicans a veto-proof majority in the upper chamber — and determine the Senate president in 2016.

Some observers say it could even help Democrat Charlie Crist become Florida's next governor.

"If this race turns out people in Broward and Palm Beach counties, those people are also going to vote for Crist," said Robert Watson, a professor of American Studies at Lynn University in Boca Raton.

Read more here.

Rick Scott ad: Obama backs Crist. Next Scott ad: water is wet


Maybe voters forgot that Florida's then-Republican governor, Charlie Crist, stood on stage and literally embraced President Obama and his stimulus plan.

Maybe voters forgot that, in 2010, Republican Marco Rubio used it against Crist in a Senate primary.

Maybe voters forgot that, in 2012, Crist appeared on stage at the Democratic National Convention and advocated for Obama's reelection. And maybe they forgot, too, that Crist campaigned for Obama all over Florida.

Maybe voters forgot that, at the end of 2012, Crist tweeted out a photograph of himself and his wife at a White House event to mark his official decision to become a Democrat.

Maybe voters didn't hear about Crist stumping with Obama's wife, Michelle Obama, on Friday in Orlando and Miami Gardens.

So now that Obama's approval ratings are more abysmal than Crist's opponent, Gov. Rick Scott, the incumbent wants everyone to still know that Crist backs Obama. 

Gwen Graham, D-Margaritaville, gets Jimmy Buffett to host voter rally


Florida music icon Jimmy Buffett plans to hold an Oct. 29 get-out-the-vote rally for Democrat Gwen Graham in her effort to unseat U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland.

Buffett is set to perform “a short acoustic set with his friend Mac McAnally” and tout Graham’s candidacy, according to a press release. More details are forthcoming about the time, location and ticket availability.

From the free media exposure to voter mobilization to fundraising, Buffett’s appearance for Graham is the type of star-power help most candidates dream about. Polling indicates the race between her and Southerland is tight in Congressional District 2, which stretches from the Tallahassee area to Panama City.

The “Margaritaville” singer has been friends with the Graham family for decades. Buffett founded the Save the Manatees advocacy group in 1981 with then-Gov. Bob Graham, the candidate’s father.

Last month, Buffett was spotted in Tallahassee dining at the Governor’s Club in Tallahassee with lobbyists Jeff Sharkey and Taylor Patrick Biehl. They represent Buffett’s Margaritaville Holdings.

Sharkey and Biehl also represent the Medical Marijuana Business Association of Florida, Inc., which would love to cash in on Florida’s new but limited prescription cannabis law. That law is highly restrictive, though, and the association and potential investors would love for Amendment 2 to pass.

It’s probably a good bet that the old smuggler at least supports the medical marijuana amendment, but so far he hasn’t said much (or been asked much) about it. Some polls show it struggling to get near 60 percent – the threshold needed to pass a constitutional amendment – while others have it polling at levels indicating it will be approved.

0ptimus FL poll: Rick Scott tops Charlie Crist 41-40, no Fangate Effect found


Widely reported and heavily mocked, the ‘Fangate’ from Wednesday’s governor’s debate doesn’t appear to have had any effect on the race, according to a new poll from the Republican-leaning firm 0ptimus that shows the contested remains tied.

Gov. Rick Scott gets 41 percent support from likely Florida voters and Democrat Charlie Crist gets 40 percent – a lead by the Republican that’s well within the poll’s 1.5 percentage-point margin of error.

Meantime, Republicans have been outvoting Democrats when it comes to casting absentee ballots. More than 890,000 have been voted and GOP ballots outnumber Democratic ones, 48-35 percent. That’s a better margin for Republicans than in 2012, but it’s worse than 2010.

Early in-person voting, which Democrats tend to dominate, begins today.

Continue reading "0ptimus FL poll: Rick Scott tops Charlie Crist 41-40, no Fangate Effect found" »

October 19, 2014

'Mediscare' accusations abound in debate between Miami congressional candidates


Accusing each other of trying to scare voters, Miami Rep. Joe Garcia and competitor Carlos Curbelo appeared in a pointed live television debate Sunday, a day before early voting begins in the close political contest.

Garcia, a freshman Democrat seeking reelection, charged Curbelo with misleading voters by referring to Social Security and Medicare as a “Ponzi scheme” that might not be around for future generations.

“He talks about turning the page, but what he’s turning the page to is fear tactics and scare tactics,” Garcia said.

Curbelo, a Republican Miami-Dade County School Board member, threw the accusation back at Garcia for running advertisements that claim Curbelo would end Medicare benefits for seniors.

“That is the ultimate hypocrisy,” Curbelo said.

The exchange was one of several cutting ones in the debate on WPLG-ABC 10’s This Week in South Florida, the first one between the men in Miami-Dade broadcast in English. They faced off last week on a Spanish-language station.

More here.

'Rick Scott is betting his mansion on Tampa' --and other tidbits from the $83m ad war

@SteveBousquet and @MarcACaputo

Gov ad spendFor the past year, living in Florida has meant having Gov. Rick Scott and Charlie Crist as constant and mostly unwanted companions.

If you own a TV, you get the picture.

Ad infinitum. Ad nauseam. About $83 million since March.

For months, TV viewers have been forced to withstand a seemingly endless barrage of vicious ads from Scott and Crist as they try to trash talk their way to the Governor’s Mansion, 30 seconds at a time.

Scott and Republicans have spent $56.5 million on ads and Crist and Democrats have spent $26.5 million. Scott has bought far more ads in Tampa Bay than anywhere else: It’s the biggest TV market in Florida and Crist’s home base.

“Gov. Scott is betting his mansion on Tampa,” said Scott Tranter, a principal and consultant for a Republican-leaning data analytics firm, 0ptimus.

Using data from broadcast stations and the Florida voter file, 0ptimus has concluded that Tampa Bay viewers have seen the most negative ads from Scott about Crist, with 95 million impressions since Sept. 1.

That means a Scott ad has been seen in whole or in part 95 million times across the Tampa Bay TV market.

In a first-of-its-kind race where both candidates have been governors, voters say the two men have cheapened and demeaned the high office they seek. Their total lack of mutual respect is magnified by the fact that they refuse to address each other as “governor” and instead use “Rick” and “Charlie.”

More here

Report: Florida's tip, Cape Sable, losing ground to rising seas


From the sky, Florida’s rugged tip looks like a scrap of emerald green lace: marshes and mangroves and tree islands all knit together by ribbons of creeks and lakes.

But at Cape Sable, a remote outpost where the Atlantic meets the Gulf of Mexico, the coast is fraying.

Usually, geological change is so slow that “you never see something in your lifetime,” Audubon Florida biologist Peter Frezza said recently as he piloted his boat around acres of mud flats filling Lake Ingraham. “But we’re watching this happen.”

For more than a decade, scientists have seen the cape as the tip of the sword in climate change. Sliced open by canals dug through the marl dividing marshes from the bay a century ago by Henry Flagler’s land company, the cape is particularly vulnerable to rising seas. Flagler was hoping to drain the wetland and lure homesteaders and ranchers. Story here.