April 28, 2017

At NRA, Gov. Rick Scott bashes Sen. Bill Nelson -- his potential 2018 rival

RickscottAP

@amysherman1

In his speech to the National Rifle Association, Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott bashed Democrat U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson for his position on U.S. Supreme Court appointments.

Scott may run against Nelson in 2018.

Scott criticized Nelson for not backing Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s nominee with “sterling credentials”  who was confirmed.

"Look at the votes on this Supreme Court nominee and you can see that there are a number of senators who did not represent their states. These senators need to be retired. Unfortunately one of my Florida senators -- Bill Nelson -- has beared far to the left. He voted for Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and he just voted against Neil Gorsuch,” Scott told the NRA crowd in Atlanta. “I will leave you with this. You all have done great and important work but there is no rest for the weary. There is no time to relax. The opponents of freedom and liberty are constantly on the move. But fortunately for America today the defenders of freedom and liberty are stronger but we have to keep fighting to keep it that way.”

Scott’s speech followed President Donald Trump who gave Scott a welcome shout out. Scott also praised Trump for being a “strong supporter of our military and our veterans and he is going to cut our taxes.”

In 2012, the NRA attacked Nelson for voting in favor of Sotomayor. Nelson easily won his 2012 race against U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, but Scott will be a far better financed and formidable opponent.

Scott spoke to the NRA about a week before the end of the Florida legislative session. Nearly all of the bills to expand gun rights this session have died.

File photo of Gov. Rick Scott. 

April 20, 2017

Scott-O-Meter update: Stalled promise to be No. 1 in reading, math

Schoolbuspicmhfilephoto

@amysherman1

Gov. Rick Scott vowed in his second term to reach for the stars when it comes to student tests.

Scott promised in 2014 that Florida would be "No. 1 in the nation for student performance in reading and math."

To compare test scores among the states, researchers and politicians typically point to the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which tests progress in a variety of subjects including English and math at certain grade levels every other year.

Florida is nowhere near the top in reading or math for fourth or eighth graders.

Keep reading from PolitiFact Florida.

April 19, 2017

Gov. Rick Scott calls Artiles' comments 'disgusting' but declines to say whether he should resign

Scott_rick3 apday 0131

via @learyreports

WASHINGTON -- Gov. Rick Scott said this afternoon that Sen. Frank Artiles comments were “disgusting” but declined to say whether the Miami Republican should resign.

“He’ll have to make a decision on what he does,” Scott told reporters after spending the day in Washington.

“It’s disgusting,” Scott said when asked to react to the racist, sexist rant.

“I called Senator (Audrey) Gibson this morning. I have a good working relationship with her," Scott said, nothing they walked in a Martin Luther King Day parade. "Nobody should be called names like that. Nobody should be treated like that. It was disgusting.”

Pressed by Gannett’s Ledyard King, Scott repeated that Artiles would have to make the decision whether to step down.

“I’ll just tell you it was disgusting what he said," Scott said. "It was not right to say to anybody. That’s why I called Senator Gibson this morning. She’ a wonderful person.”

Asked again, Scott said: "What you do everyday in your job has consequences when you run."

Photo credit: AP

Gov. Scott at White House Wednesday morning for bill signing

via @learyreports

WASHINGTON - Gov. Rick Scott will be at the White House Wednesday morning as President Trump signs a veterans bill.

Florida Department of Veterans Affairs Executive Director, Retired Army Lt. Col. Glenn Sutphin, will also join, according to Scott's office. Trump is to sign the Veterans Choice Program Extension and Improvement Act.

“My father served in WWII and I proudly served in the United States Navy and I appreciate President Trump’s commitment to our military and our veterans.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

 

April 18, 2017

Chief Inspector General Melinda Miguel: 'I wanted to leave on my terms'

MelindamiguelChief Inspector General Melinda Miguel, the top investigator for two governors who has been accused of suppressing whistleblowers at the state’s prison agency and most recently was assigned the task of sorting through the financial troubles in Opa-locka, has resigned her post saying she “wanted to leave on my terms.”

In an exclusive interview with the Miami Herald late Monday, she said she wanted to leave before the arrival of a new governor and before legislation advances that adds new powers to her office. Miguel’s letter of resignation to the governor was dated April 4 but not announced by the governor’s office until late Monday.

“It’s been an honor to serve in this position and serve two governors. I’m tired, to be honest,” said Miguel, 53, who was first appointed chief inspector general by former Gov. Charlie Crist and then reappointed by Gov. Rick Scott.

Although her tenure under Scott was challenged by his aggressive former general counsel, Pete Antonacci, who asked her to delay the release of a prison report, and she came under fire by Opa-locka Mayor Myra Taylor and other commissioners, Miguel said the governor never interfered with her investigations.

“I had a tremendous amount of independence, and he never stood in my way,” she said. Story here. 

 

April 17, 2017

Sen. Bill Nelson poised for battle with Gov. Rick Scott

Billnelsonbousquet

via @stevebousquet

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson has been on the political stage longer than anyone in Florida, since 1972 — the year of Watergate and President Richard Nixon's re-election.

That's staying power. It's no wonder that at 74, he's not ready to retire.

Nelson, the only Democrat holding statewide office, has led a charmed political life, winning three Senate races against weak Republicans.

But that may be coming to an end. He wants a fourth term, and his likely opponent is Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

"The way I approach an election, I assume nothing," Nelson says. "I run scared as a jackrabbit."

He should.

Scott, who has won two close races for governor, looks more battle-tested than Nelson, has more money in the bank and is a perpetual campaigner.

On the road constantly, the governor held several roundtables in recent weeks and urged local leaders to save Enterprise Florida from that "job-killing" House speaker, Richard Corcoran.

So it surely was coincidental that, with no notice, Corcoran invited Nelson to address the House last Thursday while the senator was in Tallahassee.

Keep reading here.

April 14, 2017

Miami-Dade-backed 'witness protection' bill now goes to governor's desk

Parents of murdered kids

@ByKristenMClark

With overwhelming support from the Florida Senate on Thursday, a proposal — heavily inspired by ongoing gun violence in Miami-Dade County — that affords new protections for murder witnesses will go to Gov. Rick Scott’s desk and possibly become law.

HB 111 passed the Senate by a 34-3 vote, similar to the near-unanimous show of support the bill received in the House late last month.

Senators from Miami-Dade County called the bill “long overdue.”

“I talk a lot about senseless violence and things that happen in my community. This is one of those bills that will help the law enforcement officers find the perpetrators of these senseless acts,” said Senate Democratic Leader Oscar Braynon of Miami Gardens.

Hialeah Republican Sen. René García agreed: “Back in our community, the biggest problem that we have is people don’t want to speak up when they see a crime. This bill is going to go a long way to ensure that people’s voices are heard, their identities are kept private.”

More here.

Photo credit: Members of the Miami-based Parents of Murdered Kids were recognized in the Senate gallery on Thursday, April 13, 2017, prior to a floor vote on a bill that shields murder witnesses’ identities from being disclosed in public records. HB 111 now goes to Gov. Rick Scott’s desk to be signed into law. Florida Channel.

April 11, 2017

Democrats buy ads against Scott on Obamacare replacement

via @learyreports

A fresh sign of the creeping showdown between Rick Scott and Sen. Bill Nelson: a Democratic group is paying for Google search ads attacking the governor's support for the “toxic GOP health care plan.”

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee said the ads will show up when anyone in Florida searches for Scott’s position on the issue. A link directs viewers to a page attacking Scott and the failed Obamacare replacement.

The ad is somewhat misleading, implying it was Scott's plan.

Still, Scott talked up that he was helping craft the proposal, which he then waved on before calling it "way better" than the status quo.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Poll: Scott is America's 34th most-popular governor -- but he should still worry Nelson

via @adamsmithtimes

Morning Consult is out today with its latest 50-state survey on the approval ratings of every senator and governor. The January to March survey of 8,793 Florida voters offers good news and bad for Sen. Bill Nelson as Florida's top Democrat heads toward an expected challenge from Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

Nelson's good news: 53 percent of FL voters approve of Nelson's performance and 26 percent disapprove, giving him a higher net favorability (net +27) than either Scott (+21) or Sen. Marco Rubio (+14).

The bad news: More than one in five voters don't know enough about their three-term senator to have an opinion on Nelson. It's safe to assume that Scott will have considerably more money to spend defining Nelson than the incumbent's last two challengers, Connie Mack IV and Katherine Harris.

"Both Senator Nelson and Governor Scott have relatively strong approval ratings," said Morning Consult’s Chief Research Officer Kyle Dropp. "However, if Scott enters the race he will immediately have a valuable leg-up in terms of name ID. More than a fifth (21%) of Florida voters aren't familiar with Nelson, compared to just 7% for Scott."

More bad news for Nelson: Scott's popularity is growing. Morning Consult's last survey in September found 49 percent approving of Florida's governor and 41 percent disapproving. 

That doesn't exactly make him a national star, however. He had the 34th-best net favorability rating in the country. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, came in on top with +58 net approval and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, also Republican, was dead last with a -46 net approval.

Among the U.S. senators, the independent gentleman representing the People's Republic of Vermont, Bernie Sanders, came out on top, with net approvals of +54, while Kentucky's Mitch McConnell was at the bottom with a -3 net approval.

From Morning Consult:

Politician            Approve         Disapprove          DK/NO                Net

Marco Rubio          52                     38                  10              +14

Bill Nelson              53                     26                  21              +27

Rick Scott               57                     36                  7               +21

--ADAM C. SMITH, Tampa Bay Times

April 03, 2017

Republicans should keep working to repeal Obamacare, Gov. Scott writes

via @learyreports

Gov. Rick Scott says Republicans cannot give up the fight to replace Obamacare and offers "no-brainers" toward that goal.

Writing in USA Today, Scott says a "grand bargain" is nonsense.

"All these comprehensive and grandiose schemes in Washington are useless. As governor, I have learned that sometimes the best way to get something done is to do it incrementally. Ultimately, taking small steps will lead you down the right path to achieve your goal. There are steps that can be taken in Congress that are no-brainers and can immediately start the process of getting rid of this onerous law, including:

Remove Obamacare’s excessive mandates and taxes…NOW;

Allow insurance to be sold across state lines to encourage competition;

Protect those with pre-existing conditions; and let young adults stay on their parents plans until they turn 26; and

Allow families to buy the healthcare they want.

Full column here.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times