October 27, 2014

0ptimus FL poll: Rick Scott 42%, Charlie Crist 39%


The new Republican data analytics firm, 0ptimus, has released another mega-robopoll with some good news for Gov. Rick Scott: He's narrowly leading Democrat Charlie Crist.

The race is still technically a tie but Scott's lead of 2.4 percentage points (41.9-39.4 percent) is almost outside the poll's error margin.

Looking at the party breaks, Crist nudged down ever so slightly with Democrats in the poll and lost a few independents, who moved a little bit toward Scott. Here's more on 0ptimus prior poll, here's our blog's category link for polling and here are this poll's partisan crosstabs:

  Overall     Rep   Dem       IND
Scott 41.9% 68.6% 16.0% 34.2%
Crist 39.4% 14.2% 66.2% 40.6%
Wyllie 11.9% 5.7% 7.1% 9.4%
Unsure 6.8% 11.6% 10.7% 15.7%


Rick Scott ahead, but Charlie Crist gaining, in FL's early vote war

@MarcACaputo @adamsmithtimes

The race for Florida governor is tied in the polls, but the past week has brought more good numbers for Democrat Charlie Crist than Gov. Rick Scott.

After the first full week of in-person early voting, Democrats have started to eat into Republicans’ lead in casting pre-Election Day ballots — a margin in the GOP’s favor of 138,000 of more than 1.8 million cast statewide.

In 2010, Republicans led Democrats by 12 percentage points in ballots cast before Election Day, when Scott went on to beat Democrat Alex Sink by just over 1 percent of the vote. As of Monday, the Republican lead for this election was about 7.6 percentage points.

In a sign of how tenuous Scott’s lead appears, the governor reversed course and broke his word not to spend his personal millions on the race. An estimated 10,000 ads attacking Crist and promoting Scott are expected in the final week.

“I think they’re pretty desperate,” Crist said Monday at an early voting rally at Florida International University. “He wouldn’t be spending that kind of money if he wasn’t afraid.”

The actual early and absentee votes won’t be tabulated until Election Day, of course, so it’s impossible to say how many votes each candidate has received so far.

More here


Rick Scott's veto of rape-crisis centers featured in new Charlie Crist ad


Gov. Rick Scott attacked Charlie Crist's "war on women" today in an ad over the Democrat'sreceipt of $90,000 in strip-club contributions.

Crist just hits back with this ad that targets Scott for his surprising veto of rape-crisis treatment center money. Ouch.

Here it is:


Crist chases history, and possibly political oblivion

Charlie Crist is courting political history in next week's election.

If he wins, he'll be the first governor of Florida elected as both a Republican and a Democrat -- and only the sixth in the U.S. since 1900.

If he loses, Crist could be on his way to another kind of history. Losing to Gov. Rick Scott would make Crist a three-time loser in statewide politics (he lost U.S. Senate bids in 1998 and 2010). The third strike, or the so-called negative hat trick, has cut short the careers of a number of other big-name Florida politicians.

The latest example is Bill McCollum, who lost the Republican primary to Scott in 2010 after losing U.S. Senate bids in 2000 and 2004. Tom Gallagher, Crist's opponent in the 2006 GOP primary for governor, vanished from the political scene after a third statewide loss that followed unsuccessful bids for governor in 1986 and 1994.

Then there's Bill Gunter, a Democrat who served in Congress and as state treasurer and insurance commissioner. Gunter agonizingly failed on three occasions to get to the U.S. Senate (1974, 1980 and 1988). He was the Democratic nominee in 1980 and lost to Republican Paula Hawkins.

How about the late Jack Eckerd? The Republican drugstore magnate from Pinellas County lost bids for governor in 1970 and 1978 and for U.S. Senate in 1974.

Crist is 58, and he would have a lot of political life left. But the history of Florida speaks for itself: A third statewide loss is too much to overcome.

The Money Race: In final week, Crist campaign has more to spend


For the first time since he announced he was running for governor, Charlie Crist’s campaign has more cash to spend than Gov. Rick Scott.

Through Oct. 25, Crist had $3.2 million. Scott dipped to $2.9 million.

Scott has had a sizable financial edge from the start, spending $46.8 million, or 45 percent more than the $32.2 million Crist’s campaign had spent through Saturday. With polls showing the race a dead heat, any little bit could help.

Still, with the race awash in Super PAC money, Crist’s $300,000 edge is almost meaningless, especially with Scott confirming he’s dumping his own money into the race. (Just how much he’s spending might be revealed this Friday when the Republican Party of Florida releases its quarterly financial report).

In the last two weeks, from Oct. 11 to Oct. 25, Crist raised $5.6 million to Scott’s $4.8 million. He’s spent more, too, burning through $4.6 million compared to Scott’s $3.9 million.

Crist’s latest support in the last two weeks came from the progressive advocacy group, America Votes, $350,000; his former law firm, Morgan & Morgan, $250,000; the teacher’s union Florida Education Association, $250,000;  the Chicago venture capitalist J.B. Pritzker, $100,000; online media guru Chris Findlater, $75,000; Sallyn Pacic, wife of Jacksonville injury lawyer Gary, $250,000; the Junction City Mining Group, a Georgia construction company; International Association of Firefighters, $100,000; the Florida Police Benevolent Association, $50,000; the Tampa law firm Wilkes & McHugh, $100,000;  former NBA star Grant Hill, $60,000; Lakeland’s businessman C.C. “Doc” Dockery (and husband of former Republican State Senator Paula Dockery), $10,000; and David Rancourt, co-founder of Southern Strategy Group and a former fraternity brother of Crist’s, $10,000.

Continue reading "The Money Race: In final week, Crist campaign has more to spend" »

Report: Florida leads nation in disenfranchising offenders released from prison

The Sentencing Project has released a report showing that Florida has the highest felony disenfranchisement rate in the country, another issue dividing Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist.

In 2011, Scott and the Cabinet imposed strict new barriers on felons who want to regain the right to vote, tossing out a streamlined policy adopted in 2007 by Crist and a different Cabinet. The discarded policy allowed tens of thousands of nonviolent offenders to regain their civil rights without a time-consuming application and hearing process. Murders and sex offenders were not eligible for faster review under the system approved by Crist and the Cabinet in 2007.

The current policy requires felons to wait at least five years after completing their sentences before applying for civil rights and during that wait they can't have been arrested. Certain classes of violent felons will have to wait seven years to apply.

In the four years under Crist's reforms, 154,000 people had their rights restored, The Tampa Bay Times reported. In the three years under the Scott-era changes, that number has slid to under 1,000 as of mid January.

Here's the Sentencing Project's report:

Washington, DC - As the 2014 midterm elections approach, an estimated 5.85 million Americans will be unable to exercise their voting rights due to a felony conviction. Overall, 75% of disenfranchised individuals are no longer incarcerated. Of this population, 2.6 million have completed their sentences, yet remain disenfranchised in the 12 states with the most restrictive policies.

This year, disenfranchisement policies may affect the outcomes of U.S. elections, with a disproportionate impact on communities of color. One in every 13 black adults will be left without a voice in this year's electoral process. Black Americans of voting age are four times more likely to lose their voting rights than the rest of the adult population. More than one in five black adults is disenfranchised in Florida, Kentucky, and Virginia.

The following 10 states hold the highest disenfranchisement rates in the United States:

Florida - 10.4%

Mississippi - 8.3%

Kentucky - 7.4%

Virginia - 7.3%

Alabama - 7.2%

Tennessee - 7.1%

Wyoming - 6.0%

Nevada - 4.2%

Arizona - 4.2%

Georgia 3.8%


Movers & Shakers

New leadership for Senate Democratic Office: David Cox, previously a senior legislative analyst for House Democrats and a former newspaper reporter, will be jumping into a new role as staff director of the Florida Senate Democratic Office on Nov. 1st.

"David is a wonderful addition to the office staff," Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, the incoming Senate Democratic Leader, said in a press release. "His energy and knowledge of the legislative process will not only benefit our Democratic members, but the Senate as well."

Cox, a University of Florida graduate, began working for the House in 2005. His journalistic career includes covering state government and the legislature for The Tampa Tribune and The Orlando Sentinel, among other publications. He also worked as a member of the Florida State University's media relations team.

Another role for DOH administrator: Paul Myers has been named the interim deputy secretary for statewide services for the Florida Department of Health. He's taking over the role from C. Meade Grigg, who is retiring.

Myers, who was most recently administrator of the Florida Department of Health in Alachua County, started working at the DOH in 1988 as an environmental health director. He has an undergraduate and master's degree from the University of Florida.

Continue reading "Movers & Shakers" »

Rick Scott's distortion about Charlie Crist's record on restoring voting rights to felons

As part of his appeal to black voters, Charlie Crist has defended his record on making it easier for nonviolent felons to regain the right to vote.

Crist and Gov. Rick Scott argued about restoration of civil rights during the Oct. 21 debate on CNN. "When I was governor, I brought restoration of rights back for nonviolent felons so they can have a chance to get a job," Crist said. "Sadly, under Rick Scott it's gone, and it's gone for at least five years, you can't even apply."

That set off a testy back-and-forth exchange:

Scott: "Here's Charlie's plan. You commit a heinous crime, as soon as you get out of jail, you get to vote. Stalk, you get to vote as soon as you walk out. You have intentional permanent disfigurement of a child, you walk out of jail, you immediately get to vote. That's wrong, Charlie."

Crist: "That is fundamentally unfair. I said nonviolent criminals. You are lying again."

Scott: "No, that's not true. Go to FactsforFlorida.com, Charlie. You want to look yourself, you can look it up. That's exactly what you did. And I completely disagree with that."

Crist: "It's very unfair. Go to his site if you want to, but I would recommend that you go to FairShotFlorida.com instead, and you'll find out the truth. What he just said is absolutely false."

Well, we recommend that if you want facts, go to politifact.com/florida. (We're glad you're here!)

Does Crist want violent offenders to immediately regain their right to vote?  In a word, no.

Turn to PolitiFact Florida for the rest of our fact-check.

The politics of porn: Crist takes industry $; Scott invests in company sued for 'enabling' sex predators

Sex and porn sells, perhaps even in the final week of a close political campaign.

Gov. Rick Scott is up with a new ad that echoes a claim his campaign has been pushing for weeks: that Charlie Crist has a "war on women" because he accepted $90,000 from three different Broward companies that operate strip clubs.

Crist has refused to return the money, saying it didn't come from the strip clubs but from the management companies. The RPOF ad says it's "dirty cash." 

During the 2010 GOP primary, Scott was also forced on the defensive against sex-related allegations from then-Attorney General Bill McCollum. McCollum alleged that the social networking company Scott invested in, Que Pasa, was  in partnership with Latin Playboy and encouraged gay dating.

In a television ad, McCollum's campaign claimed: "There's nothing Republican about porn." In a mailer, McCollum alleged:  "The Two Faces of Rick Scott....What Rick Scott does and what Rick Scott says show the completely different faces of Rick Scott."  

Scott defended his investment at the time, which PolitiFact Florida determined was 13.9 percent of the company. He called it a "desparate attack by a career politician."

PolitiFact found that Que Pasa did have a partnership with Playboy in 2009 to find and identify "Cyber Chicas" for Playboy's Mexico edition. It ruled false the claim that Scott had anything to do with it.

Que Pasa has since changed its name to MeetMe and Scott and his family trusts increased their investment in the company last year. Meanwhile, the social networking site has drawn its own drumbeat of attention, from prosecutors who claim that "dozens of minors nationwide have been  victimized in sex crimes by predators who relied on MeetMe to target their underage victims."

Continue reading "The politics of porn: Crist takes industry $; Scott invests in company sued for 'enabling' sex predators " »

Gov. Scott's appearance on WPLG's 'This Week'

In his four years as governor, Rick Scott has rarely sat for lengthy interviews. His campaign has declined repeated requests from Tallahassee reporters and from most Florida editorial boards. But with time running out and polls showing a neck-and-neck race with Charlie Crist, Scott has begun finding increasing amounts of time on free media to augment his saturation TV ad campaign.

Scott lately has appeared on CNN's "The Situation Room" with Wolf Blitzer (right after "Fangate"); agreed to a lengthy one-on-one with WFOR's Jim DeFede, who got Scott to confirm that he will spend personal money on his re-election effort; and on "This Week in South Florida," where Scott answered questions from WPLG reporters Glenna Milberg and Michael Putney. In the WPLG interview, broadcast Sunday, Milberg noted that Scott's campaign had "a timer set at 12 minutes."

UPDATE: Scott's campaign calls it "completely inaccurate" that he has not been accessible to the news media, and that he did 15 one-on-one interviews last week alone.

On Channel 10, Scott emphasized how his policies created private sector jobs, boosted Florida tourism and expanded ports. But what's most interesting is Scott's effort to cast Crist as the rich candidate and himself as the one from humble origins, as he did in last week's final debate on CNN. The strategy suggests that the Crist economic populism pitch on utility and insurance rates and his claim that Scott doesn't care about the middle class may be having an impact on Scott's numbers.

"I grew up in a family that didn't have jobs. I know what it's like not to have a job. Charlie grew up rich. He didn't have to worry about a job," Scott told Channel 10. "When he wants to sit there and says that he cares, I actually lived it. I've lived in a family that struggled to put food on the table." The interview is here.