« August 2018 | Main | October 2018 »

109 posts from September 2018

September 26, 2018

To boost youth turnout, NextGen plows yet more money into digital ads

Screen Shot 2018-09-25 at 10.57.39 PM

Liberal billionaire Tom Steyer has promised to invest millions into electing Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum governor this November — and a substantial fraction of that money will double-down on a strategy his political group says paid off during the primary: digital ads to boost young turnout.

As part of a $1,144,000 digital campaign through the general election, NextGen America is releasing another two digital ads Wednesday urging young voters to head to the polls Nov. 6. The spots focus specifically on the contest between Gillum and Republican rival Ron DeSantis, as well as incumbent Bill Nelson and Gov. Rick Scott for U.S. Senate.

The 30-second ads, which resemble "voter guides" and are scored to the circus tune "Entrance of the Gladiators," compare the respective candidates on issues like health care, guns and education. They are scheduled to run through Oct. 15 and target nearly 1.1 million young voters on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram statewide.

"We're investing heavily in digital ads because we've seen that they're an effective way to connect with young voters, not TV ads," said NextGen Florida spokeswoman Maya Humes. "We saw this with Gillum's win. We'll see it again when 18-35 years old turn out in the midterms. Meeting young people where they are is working."

After Steyer endorsed Gillum in the Democratic primary in June, NextGen dropped multiple six-figure digital ads as part of the billionaire activist's $3.5 million investment in the primary cycle.

After Gillum's upset win last month, Steyer told the New York Times Tuesday that he intends to spend more money in Florida than in any other state and that NextGen will spend more than $5 million with a focus on youth and minority turnout.

The group, which has already registered nearly 40,000 young Floridians to vote this year, is also attempting to flip three U.S. congressional districts in south Florida and re-elect Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, who currently represents the state's 7th congressional district.

Early polls appear narrowly favorable for Democrats, including an NBC/Marist poll Tuesday that showed Nelson and Gillum leading in their respective races (albeit within the margin of error).

The survey, which asked 600 likely voters between Sept. 16 and Sept. 20 about who they would rather vote for, also showed the Democratic candidates winning key voter demographics. Nelson led Scott among Hispanic voters by 20 points while Gillum led DeSantis among those voters by 14 points.

Watch the NextGen ads here.

Photo: NextGen screenshot

September 25, 2018

NYT: Tom Steyer says he's dropping $5M more into Andrew Gillum's campaign


Ahead of a visit to Miami this weekend, billionaire Democratic booster Tom Steyer says his political operation will invest millions more into Andrew Gillum's campaign for Florida governor, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

Advisers for Steyer, who endorsed Gillum when he was an underdog in the Democratic primary race and spent more than $1 million to help his cash-strapped campaign push on, told the Times that he plans to spend about $5.2 million through his political machine on Gillum's general election campaign. About half of that money will go into digital ads, the Times reports.

Much of the rest will go into a get-out-the-vote effort that has been underway for months in Florida through two Steyer-backed organizations, For Our Future and NextGen America.

Steyer is heading to Miami-Dade this weekend for a Democratic party gathering.

Republicans label Gillum a ‘radical’ over his alliance with Dream Defenders


Andrew Gillum and the Dream Defenders don’t agree on everything. But they appear comfortable with their alliance even as Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis continues to cast his Democratic opponent as a “radical” due to his association with the Miami-based social justice organization.

One day after DeSantis name-dropped the activist group while arguing that Gillum has “anti-Semites around him,” the Republican Governors Association on Tuesday released a TV commercial highlighting some of the organization’s more controversial beliefs. The ad notes that Dream Defenders — which made its name over the last six years through acts of civil unrest — espouses open borders and states on its website that police are racist and have no place in society.

“Andrew Gillum: He’s just too radical,” a narrator says in the ad.

The commercial comes as DeSantis has sought to flip the script on Gillum after weeks of defending and distancing himself from news reports about his campaign’s ties to alleged racists and extremists. DeSantis on Monday accused reporters of ignoring Gillum’s association with groups like the Dream Defenders, which has likened Israel’s treatment of Palestinians to an “Apartheid” system.

Click here to read the rest.

NBC/Marist poll: Democrats inch ahead in U.S. Senate, Governor’s races

Bill Nelson

Via @KirbyWTweets

A new poll by NBC/Marist should have Democrats feeling good about their prospects in November.

The survey, which asked 600 likely voters between Sept. 16 and Sept. 20 about their preferred candidate, had Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson leading Gov. Rick Scott in the race for one of Florida's U.S. Senate seats by 3 points, 48 percent to 45 percent. Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum leads Republican Ron DeSantis 48 percent to 43 percent, according to the poll.

"The political environment in Florida, overall, is tipping in the Democrats favor," Lee Miringoff, who directs the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, said in an NBC story about the poll.

Both Scott and DeSantis are within the five-point margin of error, so the polls are statistical ties. Still, the surveys are good results for both Nelson — who's polled neck-and-neck with Scott for months — and Gillum — who's consistently polled ahead of DeSantis.

Both polls showed the Democrats handily winning key voter demographics. Nelson leads Scott among hispanic voters by 20 points; Gillum leads DeSantis by 14 points among those voters. Nelson is winning independent voters by 16 points; Gillum leads among independents by 13 points.

Nelson and Gillum are doing even better among the 829 registered voters surveyed. Nelson leads Scott by five points among those voters and Gillum leads DeSantis by eight points.

A Quinnipiac survey also had Nelson leading Scott Tuesday, by seven points.

If Democrats can replicate those numbers in November, they might be in for a good election day.

Marion Hammer urges NRA members to oppose amendment banning greyhound racing



The National Rifle Association's chief lobbyist in Florida is urging members of the gun association to oppose a constitutional amendment that would ban greyhound racing, after a state Supreme Court ruling earlier this month upholding the amendment on the ballot. 

The amendment, which would end commercial dog racing involving wagering by 2020, had been contested in court by the Florida Greyhound Association though the state's high court upheld its position on the ballot Sept. 7. Justices, in a 6-1 decision, rejected several arguments that alleged the ballot's summary and title were misleading to voters.

Critics of the amendment had argued, among other reasons, that its "fundamental value" statement — that "the humane treatment of animals is a fundamental value of the people" — was not reflected in the ballot language that will appear before voters in November.

Hammer, in a missive to the NRA's membership list in Florida, singled out that language and accused the amendment of being "a front for much more."

Based on the "humane treatment" phrase in the language of the full amendment, she wrote, "extreme animal rights organizations will have a new constitutional standard to challenge any and all activities they find objectionable. In short, many suspect their first action will be to immediately begin work to ban all hunting and fishing."

"Absentee ballots will be going out soon and people need to know what you're voting for," she said by phone Tuesday. "Our members rely on us to evaluate these amendments and tell them how it will impact their rights."

But the state Supreme Court, in its ruling two weeks ago, asserted that "although prefatory language may aid a court to determine legislative intent when the operative terms of a provision of law are ambiguous, such language does no control interpretation of the operative terms of that provision."

"Amendment 13’s fundamental value provision is devoid of any legislative or judicial mandate: it bestows no rights, imposes no duties, and does not empower the Legislature to take any action," the court added in its decision.

The Committee to Protect Dogs, one of the groups supporting the amendment, accused Hammer and the NRA of "attempts to swiftboat" the push to ban greyhound racing in the state.

"It's clear to me that they know they're going to lose," said Carey Theil, a senior advisor to the group's "Yes on 13" campaign. "They have decided to try and make the campaign about a bunch of things that Amendment 13 doesn't do."

"This was addressed by the Supreme Court nine days ago," he said. "You have the Supreme Court saying, 'No, no, no, that's not true.'"

The amendment, which was among three upheld by the state Supreme Court earlier this month, is the last to appear on the ballot before voters this year. To pass, any constitutional amendment requires 60 percent of the vote.

Photo: Tampa Bay Times

Bill Nelson 53%, Rick Scott 46% in latest Quinnipiac poll

Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson has bolted to a 7-point lead over Republican Gov. Rick Scott in Florida's U.S. Senate race, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday.

Nelson has a 17-point lead with women voters in the poll and a 16-point advantage among independents. Men are closely divided, with 51 percent supporting Scott and 47 percent supporting Nelson. Hispanic voters favor Nelson in the poll, 61 to 39 percent.

Among likely voters who are asked to name a candidate choice, 94 percent said their minds are made up six weeks before Election Day, Nov. 6.

Nelson has a favorable/unfavorable rating of 53 to 41 percent in the poll. Scott's rating is upside down, with 46 percent favorable and 51 percent unfavorable.

Asked to identify the most important issue in this election, 26 percent of respondents chose health care, 19 percent chose the economy, 18 percent chose immigration, 15 percent chose the pending vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court, 12 percent chose gun policy and 5 percent said taxes.

The environment was not offered as an option. "Something else" scored 2 percent in the poll.

The Scott-Nelson race is critical in the high-stakes fight over which party will control the Senate. Nelson, a three-term incumbent, is running for re-election in a purple state Donald Trump carried narrowly in 2016. Nelson is being vastly outspent by Scott, a two-term governor.

This is the first poll in this pivotal, closely-watched race in which Nelson has a lead. Quinnipiac polled 888 likely voters from Sept. 20-24, and the survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Andrew Gillum's Costa Rica trip: Did he get a sweet deal, as Ron DeSantis implies?

Democrat Andrew Gillum (L) and Republican Ron DeSantis

On Monday, Ron DeSantis doubled down on criticism that Andrew Gillum got a sweet deal during a trip to Costa Rica with lobbyists, accusing the Tallahassee mayor of "crony socialism."

"Finally, he produced a bank statement about the Costa Rica trip," DeSantis said during a news conference in Oldsmar. "He's like, 'Oh, I stayed in this luxury villa for four nights, and here's a $400 withdrawal I'm showing on the bank. I withdrew cash and that's how I paid for it.'

"Well, I don't know how that works, because I looked to see how much the Holiday Inn Express would cost right down the street from here, and four nights was like $650," the former congressman continued. "So you tell me how you're able to get a luxury Costa Rica villa for $400. I want to know who your travel agent is."

Did Gillum get a sweet deal on the four-night vacation? That question is now part of a state ethics investigation into that trip and another one he took months later in New York. On both trips, Gillum met up with his longtime friend and lobbyist Adam Corey, and in New York, Gillum also met up with two men now believed to be undercover FBI agents.

Gillum has described the Costa Rica trip as a vacation for his wife's birthday.  Between May 4 and May 8 that year, Gillum, his wife and about 10 other people stayed at a luxury villa overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

The trip was arranged by Corey, and other lobbyists and friends joined them, according to the Tallahassee Democrat. Corey's lawyer said he won the lodging during a silent charity auction.

According to Gillum's campaign, the villa went for $1,400 a night, and Gillum paid someone $400 in cash for his and his wife's share of their four-night stay.  The villa does go for $1,400 a night, according to its website. It has five bedrooms, sleeps a dozen people and features an infinity pool overlooking the ocean.

Gillum' campaign released a bank statement earlier this month showing a $400 cash withdrawal the day before the trip as evidence that Gillum paid his way. (Corey's attorney has said that Corey did not receive any money from Gillum.)

Doing simple math, if 12 people were on the trip, each person's share would have been $116 a night. For Gillum and his wife, that would mean they would have owed $928 after the four nights.

However, If the villa was won on a deep discount during the auction, it could possibly have reduced the value of the trip.

A spokeswoman for Gillum's campaign said Tuesday that Gillum and his wife "paid for their lodging with the $400 withdrawal and the cash the mayor and his wife had on hand."

She did not say how much they spent in total on the lodging, or who they gave the money to.

But the appearance and timing of the trip - at the height of the FBI's investigation into city corruption - have raised questions. And DeSantis' campaign has used them to paint the mayor as untrustworthy.

"I think it's just, he's not being honest with the folks," DeSantis said Monday. "So there's huge problems when you govern that way, when you're on junkets with FBI agents, when you're the subject of a major investigation involving pay to play and involving corruption."

There has been no indication that the Costa Rica trip is tied to the FBI probe, which has yet to bring charges against anyone. Gillum has said he's been assured by agents that he's neither a focus nor a target of the probe.

However, the Democrat did find one FBI tie during the Costa Rica trip: On May 5, the day after Gillum arrived, Corey sent Gillum a calendar invitation for a May 16 meeting with two businessmen. After Gillum returned from the trip, he told his staff he was accepting the invitation.

The two businessmen later turned out to be undercover agents.

Republican Governors Association releases TV ad attacking Gillum's ties to Dream Defenders


As the Florida Democratic Party takes to the airwaves to attack Ron DeSantis' healthcare record, the Republican Governor's Association is firing back at Andrew Gillum with its own TV ad noting the Democratic gubernatorial nominee's financial support from the Dream Defenders and the organization's controversial political views.


Gillum releases first negative ad attacking Ron DeSantis


As the candidates running for Florida governor increasingly spend time on the stump attacking each other, the Florida Democratic Party has released a commercial attacking Republican Ron DeSantis on air.

The campaign of Democrat Andrew Gillum says the ad, focused on DeSantis' record on healthcare, begins running Tuesday.

War of words escalates, accusations fly in the race for Florida governor


Democrat Andrew Gillum called Republican opponent Ron DeSantis “unstable” Monday after the former congressman accused the Tallahassee mayor of aligning himself with anti-Israel extremist forces and blasted the media for what he said is a “double standard” in the coverage of the race for Florida governor.

In an afternoon that was shades of Decision 2016, the opponents campaigning for the top job in Florida escalated their war of words through the media during separate appearances around the state.

DeSantis fired first, ripping into reporters during a press gaggle Monday morning for, he said, treating Gillum with kid gloves while asking him repeatedly about racially charged statements and incidents directly and indirectly involving his campaign. DeSantis, who was visiting an Oldsmar manufacturing business called Performance Feeders, was irked by questions about his appearances at conservative conferences founded and attended by speakers with extreme views, and campaign ties to a donor behind racist social media posts.

“It’s an attempt to create a narrative. You do not do that with Andrew Gillum,” said DeSantis. “Oh no. He gets a zone of protection. So, it’s a double standard. It’s an attempt to create a narrative. If I have a crowd of 500 people, how the hell am I supposed to know who’s in the crowd?”

Click here to read more.