Florida’s algae problem has emerged as a key issue in the U.S. Senate race between Republican Gov. Rick Scott and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, with each seeking to place blame on the other.
Scott says the toxic blooms fouling waterways east and west of Lake Okeechobee are the result of years of dithering by the federal government on Everglades restoration. Nelson and Democrats have blamed Scott for cutting back state environmental regulations.
Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott, trying to paint Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson as an inside-the-Beltway layabout, released a new TV ad — using figures the Nelson camp disputes — that accuses the three-term Democrat of excessive absenteeism on Capitol Hill.
Scott’s ad, titled “Empty Chair,” shows an empty seat at a committee dais with Nelson’s name plate in front of it.
Floridians of a certain age may remember then-Republican Charlie Crist using an empty chair in TV ads during the 2006 governor’s race to accuse Democrat Jim Davis of missing too many votes as a member of Congress.
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Scott’s new ad says Nelson “skipped 45 percent of the hearings on national security.” The Scott campaign said that’s a reference to Armed Services Committee hearings and provided figures that list Nelson as attending 352 of 636 of the committee’s hearings since 2001.
Nelson spokesman Ryan Brown called the ad “nothing more than another false attack by Rick Scott who is nothing more than a phony politician.”
Brown said Nelson “attended about 80 percent of the Armed Services meetings this year and 86 percent last year.” Scott’s camp says Nelson attended 76 percent of the committee’s hearings during 2017-18.
Trump’s claims drew widespread outrage and were disputed by Florida’s leading Republicans: Gov. Rick Scott, Sen. Marco Rubio and gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis.
Trump touched off the controversy before 8 a.m. in consecutive tweets.
“3000 people did not die in the two hurricanes that hit Puerto Rico. When I left the Island, AFTER the storm had hit, they had anywhere from 6 to 18 deaths. As time went by it did not go up by much. Then, a long time later, they started to report really large numbers, like 3000…” the president tweeted.
Trump added: “…..This was done by the Democrats in order to make me look as bad as possible when I was successfully raising Billions of Dollars to help rebuild Puerto Rico. If a person died for any reason, like old age, just add them onto the list. Bad politics. I love Puerto Rico!”
Democrats blasted the president, with Florida Sen. Bill Nelson calling his claims “shameful.”
The president’s comments on the nearly 3,000 American lives lost in Puerto Rico are shameful. We deserve and expect more from someone who holds the highest office in our country.
Republicans defended the official death estimates.
“These days even tragedy becomes political,” said Rubio on Twitter. “3k more Americans died in #PuertoRico after Hurricane than during comparable periods before. Both Fed & local gov made mistakes. We all need to stop the blame game & focus on recovery, helping those still hurting & fixing the mistakes.”
While Rubio didn’t mention Trump, Scott — who has made multiple visits to Puerto Rico since the hurricane — was more direct.
I disagree with @POTUS– an independent study said thousands were lost and Gov. Rosselló agreed. I've been to Puerto Rico 7 times & saw devastation firsthand. The loss of any life is tragic; the extent of lives lost as a result of Maria is heart wrenching. I'll continue to help PR
“I disagree with @POTUS– an independent study said thousands were lost and Gov. Rosselló agreed,” said Scott, a longtime Trump ally who has distanced himself from the president since launching a Senate campaign. “I’ve been to Puerto Rico 7 times & saw devastation firsthand. The loss of any life is tragic; the extent of lives lost as a result of Maria is heart wrenching. I’ll continue to help PR.”
DeSantis, whose nomination over Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam was largely due to Trump’s support, carefully distanced himself from the president.
“Ron DeSantis is committed to standing with the Puerto Rican community, especially after such a tragic loss of life. He doesn’t believe any loss of life has been inflated,” said DeSantis campaign spokesman Stephen Lawson. “Ron is focused on continuing to help our Puerto Rican neighbors recover and create opportunities for those who have moved to Florida succeed.”
Amid suggestions he’s underperforming with Hispanic voters, Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson‘s re-election campaign is airing a Spanish-language ad that says his Republican challenger, Gov. Rick Scott, and President Donald Trump are “muy buenos amigos.”
Nelson’s campaign released the new ad Wednesday night along with an ad in English that notes — as Democrats also did in 2010 and 2014 — that Scott was CEO of hospital chain that paid a $1.7 billion fine for Medicare fraud.
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The ad aimed at Latino voters features Nelson speaking briefly in Spanish (“Soy Bill Nelson, y apruebo este mensaje.”) before showing seven still images of Scott with Trump, who according to exit polls lost the Florida Hispanic vote by a 62-to-35 percent margin to Hillary Clinton in 2016.
An English translation provided by the Nelson campaign says: “Tell me who you hang out with, and I will tell you who you are. Rick Scott and Donald Trump are great/close friends/pals. Scott raised $20 million to elect Trump. Then Trump recruited Scott to run for the Senate. We need people to stand up to Donald Trump and his extreme agenda.
If Scott goes to Washington, he will do what Trump wants. Rick Scott. We just can’t trust him.”
Scott was an early cheerleader for Trump’s presidential bid and chaired a pro-Trump super PAC in 2016. Scott and Trump met frequently during Trump’s first year in office, but Scott has kept his distance from Trump since launching his Senate bid in April.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott will raise money for his U.S. Senate bid with a Republican president in Palm Beach, but the headliner will not be frequent island visitor and current White House occupant Donald Trump.
Instead, former President George W. Bush — the embodiment of a GOP that Trump campaigned against in 2016 — will appear with Scott in Tampa and Palm Beach on Friday.
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The specific location for the Bush-Scott Palm Beach event, which was first reported by Politico, has not been announced.
An invitation says $1,000 donors get a ticket to a reception, $2,700 contributors get a reception ticket and mention in an event program and those who pony up $25,000 get four reception tickets, a VIP photo for two and a program listing.
Scott raised money last week with Vice President Mike Pence but so far hasn’t campaigned with Trump, with whom he’s been close in the past. Trump publicly urged Scott to challenge Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.
Pence and Scott are also expected to campaign in The Villages, the enormous Central Florida retirement community that is a must-visit for Republicans running statewide.
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Before Pence arrives in the Sunshine State, his director of communications took to Twitter this morning to quash speculation that Pence is behind the bombshell New York Times op-ed in which an anonymous “senior official” in the Trump administration says he or she and others “are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.”
Jarrod Agen, communications director for the VP, this morning denied any Pence involvement and ripped the New York Times for running the piece.
The Vice President puts his name on his Op-Eds. The @nytimes should be ashamed and so should the person who wrote the false, illogical, and gutless op-ed. Our office is above such amateur acts.
“The Vice President puts his name on his Op-Eds. The @nytimes should be ashamed and so should the person who wrote the false, illogical, and gutless op-ed. Our office is above such amateur acts,” Agen tweeted.
Vice President Mike Pence will headline a fundraiser for Gov. Rick Scott‘s U.S. Senate bid in Orlando next week.
The Sept. 6 event is being hosted by Palm Beacher Darlene Jordan, a key Republican money-raiser, and by Texas investor and GOP moneyman Tom Hicks, according to invitations sent to GOP activists.
It’s a relative bargain as fundraisers go, with “suggested contribution levels” of $250 for individuals and $500 for sponsors.
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The specific location for the afternoon Pence-Scott reception hasn’t been disclosed.
Scott is challenging three-term Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in one of the nation’s most expensive and closely watched Senate races.
President Donald Trump publicly urged Scott twice in 2017 to challenge Nelson, and the president and the two-term Florida governor have been close. But since formally launching his campaign in April, Scott has kept his distance from Trump.
He’ll promote U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis in the Aug. 28 Republican primary for governor against Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam — following up on a December tweet praising DeSantis and a “full endorsement” of DeSantis in June.
Trump, who’ll be appearing at the Expo Hall at the Florida State Fairgrounds, will also make a pitch for Gov. Rick Scott‘s bid for U.S. Senate against Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson — identified in a Trump campaign announcement as “Ben Nelson.” Former Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Florida’s Sen. Bill Nelson were often mistaken for each other when their Senate careers overlapped from 2001 to 2013.
Scott’s campaign didn’t immediately say whether the governor will attend.
The Trump campaign says the Tampa event will be Trump’s 36th rally in Florida since he launched his presidential campaign in 2015.
The NBC poll gives Nelson a 49-to-45 percent lead over Scott among registered –not likely — voters in a survey with a 3.9 percent margin of error. CBS had Scott leading by a 46-to-41 percent margin among likely voters, but by only 2 points among registered voters. The CBS poll had a 3.5 percent margin of error.
In other words, considering the margins of error and the more than four months until election day, the Nelson-Scott contest looks close — like Florida’s 2012 and 2016 presidential races and 2010 and 2014 governor’s races, all of which were decided by between 0.9 and 1.2 percentage points.
Not as close, according to NBC, is the Republican primary for governor. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam holds a 38-to-21 percent lead over U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis.
NBC’s take on the Putnam-DeSantis is similar to the results of a Fox News poll last week that showed Putnam holding a 32-to-17 percent lead.
Both polls offer some hope for DeSantis, who was praised by President Donald Trumpon Twitter in December and got the president’s “full endorsement” on Friday. NBC and Fox both found 39 percent of Republican primary voters are undecided ahead of the Aug. 28 primary.
In the five-candidate Democratic primary for governor, NBC finds the race up for grabs. Former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine tops the field at 19 percent and former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham gets 17 percent in a sample that has a 6.5 percent margin of error. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (8 percent), billionaire Palm Beach real estate investor Jeff Greene (4 percent) and Winter Park businessman Chris King (3 percent) round out the Democratic field with 47 percent of voters undecided.