Democrats inject Donald Trump into two Florida races

Democrats are running TV ads in St. Petersburg and Miami linking Republicans to President Donald Trump.

Democrats who hoped nationally watched special congressional elections in Kansas, Montana and Georgia would deliver rebukes of President Donald Trump came away disappointed.

Now two races in Florida — a nonpartisan mayoral election in St. Petersburg and a special election for a state Senate seat in Miami — have revived Democratic hopes that Trump and his slumping approval ratings will be an albatross for Republican candidates.

In St. Petersburg, where polling shows former Mayor Rick Baker leading current Mayor Rick Kriseman, the Florida Democratic Party this week began airing TV spots that put Baker, who is a Republican, on an “extreme team” with Trump, Florida Gov. Rick Scott and former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. The same ads link Kriseman, a Democrat, to former President Barack Obama, former VP Joe Biden and U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg.

Seven mayoral candidates are on the Aug. 29 St. Petersburg ballot. If no candidate gets a majority, the top two finishers square off on Nov. 7.

Democrats are also playing the Trump card ahead of a Sept. 26 special election in Miami to fill the Senate District 40 seat of former Republican Sen. Frank Artiles, who resigned in April. The special election pits Democrat Annette Taddeo against Republican state Rep. Jose Felix “Pepi” Diaz, who was once a contestant on Trump’s The Apprentice.

Republican Artiles won the district by 10 points in November and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio edged Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy in the district, but Democrats have a slight registration edge and Democrat Hillary Clinton beat Trump there by 16 points.

Democrats launched an ad in English and Spanish this week that shows a selfie of Diaz and Trump and says the Republican “supports Trump’s every move.”

State Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Atlantis, in line to become Senate Democratic leader next year, says there are “a lot of other issues” besides Trump in District 40, but Diaz presents a special anti-Trump opportunity.

“If you were asking for the Democrats to draw up a candidate that had links to Trump you couldn’t do any better than someone who actually appeared as a contestant on The Apprentice. He was also an early Trump endorser. So Pepi Diaz is going to have to live with Trump’s anti-immigrant policies, his anti-health care policies, and those aren’t particularly popular in Miami,” Clemens said.

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