PHILADELPHIA — Like every speaker who addressed Florida Democratic National Convention delegates at daily breakfasts here last week, U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, D-Tallahassee, urged the partisans to work hard to elect Hillary Clinton and defeat Donald Trump in November.
“And in two years,” Graham added, “we’ll have the opportunity to take back the governor’s mansion.”
Graham was one of three Dems mentioned as potential 2018 gubernatorial candidates — Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine were the others — who kept a high profile among Florida delegates at the convention.
A week earlier at the Republican convention in Cleveland, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam sponsored a breakfast for delegates, furthering the widespread expectation that he’ll be a candidate to replace term-limited Gov. Rick Scott in 2018.
Gov. Rick Scott, who earlier steered $26.2 million in state funds to help counties both fight and prepare for a widening Zika outbreak, was among the first to weigh in.
“Following today’s news, I directed the Department of Health to immediately begin contracting with commercial pest control companies to increase spraying and mosquito abatement efforts in the impacted area,” Scott said.
“We know from our experience with successfully dealing with other mosquito-borne viruses in our state that through constant surveillance and immediate action that we will protect our families and visitors.
Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam also issued issued a statewide mosquito declaration, allowing aggressive mosquito control efforts within a 200-yard radius around the homes of the four patients.
“Floridians can do their part by draining standing water surrounding their homes, as it can serve as breeding grounds for the mosquitoes that are capable of transmitting the virus,” Putnam added.
Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, running for re-election, called on the Obama administration to take swift action.
“We are entering a critical phase of this crisis,” Rubio said.
“Local mosquito transmissions and increased travel to the U.S. from Zika-affected regions are a dangerous combination that could lead to an explosive increase in infections. We must act quickly to prevent the problem from reaching a tipping point in the mainland U.S. as it already has in Puerto Rico.
He added, “I urge the Obama Administration to use all the tools at its disposal to reprogram existing public health emergency funding in the short term to deal with Zika. As I have said time and time again, both parties in Congress need to get it together and approve funding to combat the Zika virus.”
Doug Elmets, a former official in Ronald Reagan’s administration, told the crowd that speaking before them was a shock not because of “the momentous nature of this event. … It’s a shock because, unlike many of you, I’m a Republican.”
He was joined on-stage by Jennifer Pierotti Lim, director of health policy for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and co-founder of Republican Women for Hillary. Both said they plan to vote for Hillary Clinton, not Republican candidate Donald Trump.
The pair’s appearance at the Democratic convention is a counter to Republicans’ convention last week, where Clinton often was referred to as being too far left to have broad appeal.
Elmets said he cast his first vote 40 years ago, “voting Republican that day like I would time and time again.”
He drew loud cheers from the crowd when he said, “I’m here tonight to say I knew Ronald Reagan, I worked for Ronald Reagan. Donald Trump, you are no Ronald Reagan.”
Elmets compared Reagan and Trump, saying that where Reagan called for a wall to be torn down, Trump wants to build one.
“I shudder to think where he might lead our great nation,” Elmets said. “Fortunately, I don’t believe he’ll get that chance.”
Lim said that until this year, she’s campaigned exclusively for Republicans.
This year, though, she said she’s voting for Clinton.
“Trump’s loathsome comments about women and our appearances are too many to repeat and too crass to repeat,” Lim said.
She called on Republicans to join her in voting for Clinton.
“Because we’re not just Democrats and Republicans. We’re Americans,” she said.
There was one message delivered to Florida’s delegates Thursday morning that they were especially warned to heed: Try not to leave your seats during the final night of the Democratic National Convention.
The capacity of the arena’s floor — where some delegates sit during the event, with others seated in the arena’s stands — became an issue as the convention progressed. People standing in the aisles to watch the speakers and performers stood shoulder-to-shoulder, occasionally blocking walkways and prompting the fire marshal Wednesday night to close an area of the floor to people trying to pass through.
A combination of fewer seats and more delegates made for more cramped quarters at the host site of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia than at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland the week before.
Where the Wells Fargo Center, the DNC’s host, has about 19,600 seats, the Quicken Loans Arena had about 21,000 seats. And where the Republicans had about 2,500 delegates, the Democrats had close to 4,800. That doesn’t include guests, media, volunteers and security personnel.
The size of the convention stage may have played a factor as well, as several people observed that the stage for the DNC seems to be built out more than the RNC’s stage.
Gannon cautioned Florida delegates that if they left to go to the bathroom, they may not be able to get back to their seats, especially later in the night as more press and guests made their way to the floor to see presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speak.
“Don’t drink a lot of water,” Gannon said. “That’s my advice.”
Wasserman Schultz has kept a low profile this week, but she made an appearance Thursday afternoon to receive an award from the National Jewish Democratic Council.
“I just can’t thank you enough for being here for me,” Wasserman Schultz told the roughly 50 attendees at the reception. “This has been a difficult week. There’s no question about it. But I am so proud of my team, some of whom are here, that helped put this together. From the convention team to the Democratic National Committee staff to all of the volunteers to our donors, it has been a remarkable team effort. And you know, sometimes, you just have to take one for the team. And that’s OK. It’s OK. I have the most amazing family that any woman could ever ask for.”
Wasserman Schultz, long accused by Bernie Sanders and his supporters of favoring Hillary Clinton in the primary season, was pushed to resign after leaked emails showed DNC officials undermining Sanders and helping Clinton. She announced Sunday that she would resign as chairwoman after the convention.
Bernard Jennings, a Democratic delegate from Miami, didn’t realize he and his son had become Internet famous until his daughter told him about the photo.
The black-and-white image, taken the first night of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, shows Jennings and his 16-month-old son Ethan with a Hillary Clinton campaign sign that read “Love trumps hate.” One of Ethan’s little hands is gripping one side of the sign as Jennings holds the other side.
The caption on the photo, which Clinton’s campaign shared on her Twitter and Instagram accounts, says, “Let’s make sure our future is in the right hands.”
Rep. KevinRader (D-Delray Beach) showed off some muscle when he met with The Palm Beach Post Editorial Board on Thursday to answer questions about his campaign for state Senate District 29.
When The Post’s board asked Rader why he thought State Rep. Irving Slosberg (D-Boca Raton) switched campaigns at the last minute, Rader said, “He was scared to run against me.”
And then he flexed his muscle.
“The only thing I can attribute that to is the strength and muscle of Kevin Rader scared Irv Slosberg out of the seat,” Rader said, lifting up his arm.
Here’s some background: Slosberg, who is now running for state Senate District 31, first opened a campaign against Rader in state Senate District 29 but switched at the last minute. Now Slosberg is running against State Sen. Jeff Clemens (D-Atlantis) and Emmanuel Morel, and Rader is running against Mindy Koch.
“That is such a stupid quote,” Slosberg said over the phone.
And it’s false, he added.
“My office is in District 31 and I probably represent more of District 31 than I do of 29. That’s the bottom line. I’ve been in my office there for six years. We’ve had like thousands of constituents come up.”
“When I looked at District 29, I’ve never been with people in the Glades. I’ve never represented people in Wellington. I’ve never represented the community in Coconut Creek, Wynmoor. I never represented Parkland. I never represented Coral Springs. At the end of the day, most of 29, I’ve never represented those people,” he said for why he made the last-minute decision to swap races.
Deutch, whose campaign estimated he could speak as early as 4:30 p.m., said he plans to talk about several topics including early voting and his family.
The speech will be about “the importance of this campaign to me as a son and a father,” he said, adding that this is the first year his twin daughters, 20 years old, and his son, 18, will be able to vote.
Deutch said the chance to speak on the final night of the convention is “an amazing opportunity,” and that when Hillary Clinton’s campaign called to ask if he would participate, “It was an easy yes.”
Deutch is running for re-election in Florida’s recently redrawn District 22, which includes Highland Beach, Boca Raton, Margate and Fort Lauderdale.
In announcing his new role, Scott drew a parallel between his own political life and that of Trump — a similarity that he has used before.
“I’ve known Donald for about 20 years, long before either of us ever ran for office. He is a businessman and an outsider and he will bring the major change to Washington that our country needs right now.
“Donald’s race is also a lot like my race for Governor. No one said I had a chance of beating the career politicians when I ran, but I won anyway. We are going to win this presidential race, too.”
The SuperPAC has raised $2.1 million, and spent $1.5 million, records show, and has a TV spot up in Florida this week. Melissa Stone, a Scott adviser, didn’t immediately respond to questions about what duties the governor may take on with his new fund-raiser role.
Scott’s new post did draw some attention Thursday in Philadelphia, though.
Former Vermont governor and Democratic presidential contender Howard Dean took on Trump and Scott’s partnership at a breakfast with Florida delegates.
“Donald Trump is a Neanderthal nincompoop and so is Rick Scott,” Dean said. “Donald Trump is a guy who made a lot of money at everybody else’s expense and so is Rick Scott. Pretty good match, I would say.”