Hurricane Michael has come and gone in Florida, but the campaign ad wars that began a week ago as the monster storm formed in the Caribbean rage on.
One day after Andrew Gillum’s gubernatorial campaign demanded that TV stations across the state stop airing his Republican opponent’s attack ads, the U.S. Senate campaign of current Gov. Rick Scott announced Friday that it, too, was fighting to knock down a “false and misleading” ad.
In this case, Scott’s campaign says it has demanded that Florida TV stations take down a commercial ripping the governor’s handling of education during his two terms in office. The ad says Scott promised “zero cuts out of state general revenue for education” upon his 2010 election only to slash $1.3 billion from K-12, hack Bright Futures college scholarships and cut $20 million in spending on early childhood education while also lowering taxes for corporations.
The commercial was paid for by Senate Majority PAC, which is supporting Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson. It was among the negative TV ads that continued to run in the Panhandle as Hurricane Michael approached Wednesday morning, leading to criticism from former governors who said Florida tradition called for campaign attacks to cease in times of natural disaster.
“During a time that the State of Florida is bracing for Category 4 Hurricane Michael, the station has an obligation to protect the public,” Steve Roberts, attorney for the Scott campaign, wrote in a letter dated Wednesday. “And a false negative advertisement being aired about the current governor during a State of Emergency diminishes the ability of the state’s government to communicate emergency safety information to Florida residents and hurts the State as a whole.”
Chris Hayden, a spokesman for Senate Majority PAC, says the political committee stands by its ad. He also said the PAC eventually pulled the commercial Wednesday in areas bracing for the hurricane after New Republican, a committee supporting Scott, also pulled its ads blasting Nelson.
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