August 07, 2018

Everglades Trust endorses Graham and DeSantis in governor's race


The nonprofit Everglades Trust is endorsing Democrat Gwen Graham and Republican Ron DeSantis in the governor's race, giving the two front-runners an additional boost as toxic algae blooms in Lake Okeechobee threaten Florida's beaches.

Graham got the nod despite Executive Director Kimberly Mitchell's criticism of the American Dream mega-mall project near the Everglades that Graham's family company is involved in.

Mitchell did not mention the project in a press release. She cited Graham's actions in Congress and the work of her father, former Florida governor and Senator Bob Graham, whom Mitchell called "one of our state’s greatest environmentalists."

"Throughout her life, Gwen Graham has fought to protect Florida’s natural treasures: as a young law student, she volunteered pro-bono for the Sierra Club; in Congress, she co-sponsored bipartisan legislation to stop oil drilling off our coasts and was a powerful voice for Everglades restoration,” Mitchell said.

DeSantis likely had the endorsement from the get-go, since his opponent, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, has taken $804,000 from the Big Sugar groups that are being blamed for creating toxic algae blooms plaguing Lake Okeechobee.

"Pay-to-Play Putnam," as Mitchell has called him, has also received $7.6 million from five political action committees that receive a significant portion of their contributions from the sugar industry.

“Ron was born and raised in Florida," Mitchell said. "He understands that water is our state’s most precious resource and he stands with the boaters, anglers, the outdoor recreation industry and the people of our state who want to put an end to toxic algae. He’s not afraid to stand up to special interests who have stood in the way of sending water south for decades.”

In Congress, DeSantis "supported eliminating corporate welfare for the sugar industry and has supported Everglades restoration at every turn. Most recently, he was instrumental in getting the Trump administration to approve the Everglades reservoir in record time."

The green algae blooms have become a top issue this campaign season, with Gov. Rick Scott and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson blaming each other for not doing enough to prevent the slime.

August 06, 2018

Unkle Luke cuts radio ad for "badass" Philip Levine


It's a Monday three weeks before election day, which means everybody has a new commercial.

That includes Philip Levine, who just started running a radio ad featuring former 2Live Crew frontman Luther Campbell as pitchman for the Democratic gubernatorial candidate. Give it a listen.

Shalala releases commercial promoting healthcare record


Former Health and Human Services secretary Donna Shalala released two new commercials Monday, one promoting her record on healthcare and another in Spanish touting her credentials.

The first commercial drops following weeks of attacks by her opponents in the Democratic primary for Florida's 27th congressional district that cast her as reticent to support universal healthcare and financially compromised due to her investment in a for-profit health insurer. Shalala, the frontrunner in the race, touts her record as HHS secretary and the healthcare system she put in place at the University of Miami during her long tenure as president.

In a second ad, Coral Gables Mayor Raul Valdes-Fauli advocates in Spanish for Shalala's election.



Rick Scott: Raising money in Twin Cities, then off to Bogotá

Gov. Rick Scott flew to Minnesota Monday to raise more money for his U.S. Senate race, and on Tuesday, he will head south to Bogotá, Colombia, to attend the swearing-in ceremonies for that country’s new president.

Scott's Minnesota fund-raiser included a number of deep-pocket Republicans with Florida ties, along with Stanley Hubbard, a long-time Republican donor and owner of TV and radio stations in the Twin Cities and elsewhere. According to this MinnPost account, Hubbard morphed from the anti-Trump camp to the pro-Trump crowd in the 2016 election.

On Tuesday, Scott will be in Bogota, Colombia, to attend the inauguration of that country’s new 41-year-old president, conservative Iván Duque.

The governor's office said that while in the Latin American nation, Scott will meet with exiled Venezuelan leaders "to discuss ways for Florida to continue to oppose the brutal regime of Nicolas Maduro."

Scott has emphasized his efforts to connect with Hispanic voters in his Senate race against Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson. On Monday, Scott's campaign unveiled a new Spanish-language ad, "Esperanza" (hope).

Ron DeSantis adds to criticism of Pinellas Sheriff Gualtieri over 'stand your ground'

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U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis speaks during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on June 28, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Alex Wong Getty Images

After a long silence, Congressman Ron DeSantis offered his take Monday on last month's shooting of Markeis McGlockton in Clearwater.

"Democrats like Andrew Gillum and Jeff Greene would impose a duty to retreat upon law-abiding Floridians, which would tip the scales in favor of criminals," read a statement sent by his campaign spokesman, David Vasquez, on behalf of DeSantis.

"I support the right of Floridians to defend themselves by standing their ground against aggressors. That said, it doesn't seem to me that the law is even applicable in the case of Markeis McGlockton, and I don't think the Pinellas County sheriff analyzed the law properly."

DeSantis's position was first reported by Politico.

His campaign originally did not respond to a request for comment following the July 19 shooting, while most of the Democrats running for governor called for revisions or a repeal of Florida's "stand your ground" law.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri has cited that state self-defense law as the reason why he cannot arrest McGlockton's shooter, Michael Drejka. Surveillance footage captured the moment Drejka shot McGlockton during a heated dispute over a handicap-reserved parking space. McGlockton died shortly thereafter.

The law gives immunity to those in fear of their lives who use force to defend themselves. Gualtieri has forwarded the case to the State Attorney's office to make a final decision, which is still pending.

Because McGlockton, 28, was black and Drejka, 47, is white, the case has also brought racial injustice — in addition to gun laws — to the fore of the Florida governor's race.

Some other Republicans and the National Rifle Association have also criticized Gualtieri's decision not to make an arrest, saying he misinterpreted the law.

New Matt Haggman poll shows Donna Shalala losing ground



Donna Shalala could have a serious fight on her hands.

New polling from Matt Haggman's campaign shows that Shalala's lead in the Democratic primary to replace retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is shrinking with three weeks until the Aug. 28 election. 

The poll, conducted from Aug. 2 to 5 by RABA Research on behalf of the Haggman campaign, shows Shalala with a 10 percentage point lead over Haggman among likely primary voters and state Rep. David Richardson virtually tied with Haggman. A fourth candidate, Miami Beach commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, also captures double digit support in Haggman's poll while 27 percent of voters are not sure who they will vote for. 

The 10 percentage point lead for Shalala over Haggman is less than half of a 27 percentage point lead Shalala had when her campaign conducted a poll in June. 

The RABA poll, conducted in English and Spanish via automated and live phone surveys, gives Shalala 26 percent support while Haggman has 16, Richardson 15 and Rosen Gonzalez 11. Michael Hepburn received four percent. The poll's margin of error is 4.7 percent. 

"To see where we’re at with just over three weeks left until the primary compared to where we were a few months ago, this is a testament to the strong campaign that has been built," Haggman campaign manager Michael Edwards said in a statement. "As a first time candidate, Matt did not come in with the name recognition Donna Shalala did. When you look at the poll, 59% of likely voters could change their mind and over a quarter of the electorate is still undecided. We will continue to knock on every door and meet voters across the district, drive Matt’s progressive message forward, and take this race all the way to victory in November." 

Haggman and Richardson are trying to present themselves as liberal alternatives to Shalala, the former president of the University of Miami and the former Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Bill Clinton. Haggman, the former director of the Knight Foundation, and Richardson both support a "Medicare for all" healthcare system and want to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement, two positions that Shalala does not support. Haggman was one of the first candidates running for congress nationwide to call for abolishing ICE and released television ads on the issue. 

Richardson and Haggman also have enough financial muscle to continue television advertisements through the primary, though Shalala has shown she can out raise the field and would have the resources to mount a substantial attack against either if she chooses to do so. 

Though Haggman's polling shows a tightening race, Shalala remains the favorite to win the nomination for a seat that Democrats expect to flip in November, as Ros-Lehtinen's Miami-based seat had the largest margin of victory for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump among all congressional districts held by Republicans in 2016. 

"The question is, where's Donna?" Richardson consultant Eric Johnson said.  


New DeSantis TV ad uses footage from Trump Tampa rally

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A screen grab from the ad on Youtube

From tweets to a new TV ad, the DeSantis campaign is squeezing every last political drop from President Trump's visit to Tampa last week.

The new TV ad features video from the rally, including Trump's calling DeSantis a "tough, brilliant cookie."

It also features clips from DeSantis's speech, during which he repeated his campaign's major talking points: "getting the Constitution back in our classrooms," "fight illegal immigration" and "enact e-verify and stop sanctuary cities." Trump can be seen standing next to him on stage.

It's worth noting that the Florida Legislature has already passed a law that requires civics education for Florida middle schoolers. Last year, the state also required students attending state colleges or universities to pass a civics test or class which includes "an understanding of the U.S. Constitution."

Civics education in public schools could also become added to the state's constitution this year, as it is one part of a three-pronged education amendment that is currently slated to be on the November ballot.

The ad will be aired statewide beginning Tuesday, the latest of several back-to-back expensive, statewide ad buys from both DeSantis and his Republican opponent, Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam.

Two Parkland families are backing Philip Levine on TV



Fred Guttenberg and Manuel and Patricia Oliver, the parents of two children killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, are behind Miami Beach mayor Philip Levine's gubernatorial bid. 

Guttenberg and the Olivers, who have traveled around the country promoting increased gun control measures since the Valentine's Day shooting, both cut TV commercials for Levine's campaign that will go on the air tomorrow in the Miami-Dade and West Palm media markets as part of a six-figure ad buy according to Levine's campaign. 

"I am proud to announce my support of Philip Levine for Governor of Florida," Guttenberg tweeted. "I believe firmly that he will strongly support and reinforce the legislation passed after Parkland. ." 

Levine is trying to emerge victorious in a five-way primary later this month that includes former Rep. Gwen Graham, Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum, real estate developer Jeff Greene and businessman Chris King.

"I really believe that Philip is a doer, he can show it, he's part of that team that we're looking for," Manuel said in the ad where he appears beside his wife Patricia. 

Guttenberg in particular gained a national profile after he confronted Sen. Marco Rubio at a televised town hall two weeks after the shooting. He's since appeared at events and protests around the country, arguing that Republicans in Congress aren't doing enough to prevent future mass shootings. 

"Levine's a doer, not a talker," Guttenberg said in his ad.

Watch both ads below: 


Florida Lt. Gov. Lopez-Cantera endorses Adam Putnam for governor

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Adam Putnam on Monday rolled out a new endorsement from Florida's lieutenant governor.

Touting Putnam's experience and qualifications, Carlos Lopez-Cantera embraced the state's commissioner of agriculture and took a veiled shot at his opponent in the Republican primary, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis.

"Adam is a family man, a strong defender of the 2nd Amendment and the only candidate in this race supported by Florida law enforcement," Lopez-Cantera said in a statement released by Putnam's campaign. "While other candidates in this race are too busy with their own agenda, Adam is busy with Florida’s Agenda. Our next Governor needs to know the details of Florida better than a they know the details of TV studios in the nation’s swamp."

Endorsements rarely move the needle in elections, and that's probably the case here as Putnam seeks the Republican nomination for governor in the Aug. 28 primary. But the endorsement is interesting in its context for Lopez-Cantera.

Florida's Republican lieutenant governor -- a former Miami-Dade property appraiser and state Rep. in Coconut Grove -- is widely expected to run for Miami-Dade mayor in 2020.

He's choosing to back Putnam even though polls show he's behind DeSantis -- who is backed by President Donald Trump. Lopez-Cantera is also endorsing Putnam on the same day that the congressman is appearing in Miami.

Impeach Trump, Richardson says in new TV commercial


State Rep. David Richardson released a new commercial Monday touting a resolution he introduced in January to urge Congress to impeach President Donald Trump.

The resolution went nowhere in the conservative state House. But it makes for good campaign fodder as he runs in the Democratic primary for Florida's 27th congressional district. And it allows Richardson to cast himself as tougher on Trump than frontrunner Donna Shalala, who's said she would vote to impeach the president but isn't actively campaigning on the issue.