Pollster sees Kavanaugh factor in Florida’s Nelson-Scott Senate race

Republican Gov. Rick Scott (left) and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson are virtually tied in a new Mason-Dixon poll. (Photos by George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

A new Mason-Dixon poll shows Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican Gov. Rick Scott in a virtual tie in their nationally watched U.S. Senate race.

Read Palm Beach Post coverage of Tuesday’s Nelson-Scott debate by clicking here.

Nelson gets 47 percent and Scott 46 percent in a survey of 815 likely voters with a 3.5 percent margin of error. President Donald Trump gets a 46 percent approval rating and a 48 percent disapproval rating in the survey, making him “a neutral factor, other than serving as a motivator for partisan turnout on both sides,” says Mason-Dixon’s Brad Coker.

A new Inside Florida Politics podcast is coming today. Get a rolling start by checking out the previous podcast here…

Coker says key elements of the race have been shifting in Nelson’s direction, and fellow Democrat Andrew Gillum‘s bid to become Florida’s first African-American governor should help the thee-term senator by bringing out minority voters who are otherwise less likely to vote in a midterm.

But, Coker also noted, “this poll was conducted during the week of the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation hearings, which may have sparked Republican voter interest and closed the enthusiasm gap between Democrats and the GOP. It could explain why Nelson may have had larger leads in several other polls conducted prior to last week, while this one shows him still in a toss-up contest. At least for the moment, the Supreme Court battle is casting a shadow in Florida.”

 

The Palm Beach roots of Trump’s pick of Neil Gorsuch for Supreme Court

Donald Trump first promised to list potential Supreme Court picks during this speech at the 2016 Palm Beach County GOP Lincoln Day dinner at Mar-a-Lago. (Daniel Owen / The Palm Beach Post)

PALM BEACH — Today’s swearing-in of Neil Gorsuch as a Supreme Court justice fulfills a pivotal campaign promise that President Donald Trump first made at Mar-a-Lago at the Palm Beach County Republican Party’s 2016 Lincoln Day dinner.

On March 20, 2016, Trump was the clear GOP presidential frontrunner. But he still faced significant skepticism from conservatives and real questions about whether defections on the right would doom him as a general election candidate.

So Trump — toward the end of a speech to 670 Republicans who paid $300 and up to dine in Mar-a-Lago’s grand ballroom — sought to reassure conservatives by promising to name names of potential Supreme Court nominees.

“I am going to give a list of either 5 or 10 judges that I will pick – 100 percent pick – that I will put in for nomination. Because some of the people that are against me say, ‘We don’t know if he’s going to pick the right judges,’ ‘Supposing he picks a liberal judge’ or ‘Supposing he picks a pro-choice judge,’ ” Trump said at the dinner.

“I’m going to get a list of anywhere from 5 to 10 judges and those are going to be the judges that I am going to pick. It will be one of those judges. And I will guarantee it personally like we do in the world of business. … I will guarantee that those are going to be the first judges that I put up for nomination if I win.”

With input from the conservative Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation, Trump eventually named 21 conservative judges — including Gorsuch — as potential Supreme Court picks.

One of Trump’s harshest critics told The Palm Beach Post in January that the Supreme Court list was crucial in helping him prevent Republican defections.

“The Supreme Court was a value-added for Donald Trump that turned skeptical Republicans into at least tolerant Republicans of Trump. It was something we saw turn up in focus groups over and over and over again,” said Rick Wilson, a Tallahassee-based Republican consultant and leading “Never Trump” figure who tried to persuade conservatives to vote for independent Evan McMullin.

Scott praises Gorsuch, urges foes (cc: Bill Nelson) to ‘stop playing games’

Gov. Rick Scott and President Donald Trump in the White House last month.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott praises President Donald Trump‘s nomination of Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court in a Miami Herald letter to the editor today.

 

Nelson and Gorsuch.

Scott, who faces gubernatorial term limits next year and is expected to run for the seat of Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, doesn’t mention Nelson in the letter. But a day after Nelson announced his opposition to Gorsuch and support for a filibuster to block an up-or-down vote, Scott accuses Gorsuch’s opponents of engaging in petty politics.

 

“Future Supreme Court battle will shape our lives as American citizens,” Scott writes. “And, while many in the Senate seem to take delight in challenging President Trump’s appointments for no reason of any discernable value to their constituents, that should not be done for Judge Gorsuch. Let’s stop playing games in Washington. Let’s get something done.”

Tom Rooney rips Bill Nelson on Gorsuch; ‘weighing all his options for 2018’

U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Okeechobee.

Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson‘s announcement Monday that he opposes President Donald Trump‘s nomination of Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court drew immediate fire from Republicans.

 

Sen. Bill Nelson says he’ll vote against Judge Neil Gorsuch. (Nelson photo by Rich Graulich/Palm Beach Post; Gorsuch vote by Susan Walsh/AP)

One interesting Nelson critic: U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Okeechobee, who briefly considered a 2016 Senate run.

 

Rooney put out a statement through his House office saying he is “extremely disappointed, though utterly unsurprised, that Senator Nelson would put political posturing above the needs of the American people…He should be ashamed of himself and I hope Florida voters replace him next year in the 2018 election.”

 

Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott is widely expected to run for Nelson’s seat in 2018. In 2015, Rooney considered entering the 2016 Senate race if Sen. Marco Rubio didn’t seek re-election. Part of the reason he entertained a 2016 run, Rooney said, was his belief that it would be “bad timing” to run in 2018 if Scott was in the race.

 

Asked today about his 2018 plans, Rooney spokeswoman Meghan Rodgers said: “He is weighing all his options for 2018 and doesn’t know for sure what he is doing yet. Yesterday’s press release had nothing to do with 2018 and simply was in response to Nelson’s statement on Gorsuch.”

 

Bill Nelson: No on Gorsuch, yes to Democratic filibuster

Sen. Bill Nelson says he’ll vote against Judge Neil Gorsuch. (Nelson photo by Rich Graulich/Palm Beach Post; Gorsuch vote by Susan Walsh/AP)

Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson announced today he opposes President Donald Trump‘s nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court.

 

And Nelson said he will support Democratic attempts to use a filibuster to block a vote on Gorsuch.

 

“Deciding whether to confirm a president’s nominee for the highest court in the land is a responsibility I take very seriously,” Nelson said in a statement released by his office this afternoon.

 

“Over the past few weeks, I have met with Judge Gorsuch, listened to the Judiciary Committee’s hearings and reviewed his record with an open mind. I have real concerns with his thinking on protecting the right to vote and allowing unlimited money in political campaigns. In addition, the judge has consistently sided with corporations over employees, as in the case of a freezing truck driver who, contrary to common sense, Judge Gorsuch would have allowed to be fired for abandoning his disabled rig during extreme weather conditions.”

 

Nelson added: “I will vote no on the motion to invoke cloture and, if that succeeds, I will vote no on his confirmation.”

 

With Nelson up for re-election next year in a state Trump narrowly carried in 2016, the National Republican Senatorial Committee was quick to criticize his announcement.

 

“Senator Bill Nelson proved to Floridians today that he no longer shares their values, and instead is more politically aligned with the liberal elite of Washington,” said NRSC spokeswoman Katie Martin. “Nelson has been in Washington too long and his move to ignore the will of voters in Florida will cost him his job in 2018.”

 

 

 

 

 

Nelson: Trump nominee Gorsuch must address ‘real concerns’

Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson
Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson

Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson says he has “real concerns” about voting rights and campaign finance disclosure that he wants President Donald Trump‘s Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch to address.

 

Nelson’s initial reaction to Trump’s pick was only that he looks forward to a “full examination” of the nominee.

 

“Of course, I’m going to talk to him and listen to the Judiciary Committee hearing,” Nelson said in a statement issued this afternoon.

 

“But I have real concerns about what I believe are two of the most fundamental rights in our democracy: the right to vote and the right to know who you are voting for. And I specifically want to know how the judge feels about the suppression of voting rights and about the amount of undisclosed, unlimited money in campaigns.”

 

Nelson, up for re-election in 2018, can expect pressure from Democrats and Republicans alike on the Gorsuch nomination.

 

 

Liberal group presses Nelson, other Trump-state Dems on Gorsuch

The liberal group People For the American Way is targeting Florida Sen. Bill Nelson and others with a new ad that slams President Donald Trump Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.

 

From a new People For the American Way ad airing in Florida and 11 other states.
From a new People For the American Way ad airing in Florida and 11 other states.

The group has begun airing a 30-second ad that says Gorsuch “doesn’t respect the Constitution” and includes an image of a man in a judicial robe tearing the founding document.

 

People For the American Way is airing the ad in 12 states — including seven states that were carried by Trump in 2016 and have Democratic senators up for re-election in 2018.

 

Nelson, who plans to seek a fourth term next year, has said he wants a “full examination” of Gorsuch.

 

 

 

House Dems Deutch, Frankel blast Trump’s Gorsuch nomination

Democratic U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch (left) and Lois Frankel (right) have weighed in against President Donald Trump's nomination of Neil Gorsuch for the U.S. Supreme Court.
Democratic U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch (left) and Lois Frankel (right) have weighed in against President Donald Trump’s nomination of Neil Gorsuch for the U.S. Supreme Court.

The House of Representatives doesn’t have a say in confirming Supreme Court nominees, but two Palm Beach County Democrats — Reps. Lois Frankel of West Palm Beach and Ted Deutch of Boca Raton — want it known that they oppose President Donald Trump‘s pick of Neil Gorsuch for the high court.

 

The only Florida Democrat whose opinion matters, Sen. Bill Nelson, issued a statement Tuesday night calling for a “full examination” of Gorsuch’s record and the nominee’s responses to the queries of senators during the confirmation process.

 

Frankel put out a statement within 20 minutes of Trump’s announcement.

 

“The Republicans hijacked President Obama’s choice for the Supreme Court and now, sadly, President Trump is bowing to his more extreme supporters,” said Frankel on Tuesday night. “Based on his judicial record, Neil Gorsuch will tip a narrowly divided court in a dangerous direction. This nomination puts serious issues at stake, like a woman’s constitutional right to make her own personal health care choices, getting money out of our politics, and ending political gerrymandering. We need a Supreme Court Justice whose record reflects mainstream values and respect for the fundamental rights of all Americans.”

 

Deutch weighed in this morning, calling Gorsuch “an extreme right-wing ideologue.”

 

Deutch continued in a statement released by his office: “Judge Neil Gorsuch’s radical views on federal regulations fly in the face of long-standing Supreme Court precedent and will undermine crucial consumer protections, environmental protections, and labor safety protections. He sided with corporations in the Hobby Lobby decision defining them as people, giving corporations the right to deny women birth control in the name of religious belief. He has publicly attacked everyday Americans for seeking access to our nation’s courts to protect and support their individual rights. His rulings supporting the use of excessive force by law enforcement will be a step-back in our nation’s effort to reform the criminal justice system. And he has consistently sided with corporations and their interests while quashing the ability of employees to protect their rights in the workplace.

“If Mitch McConnell wanted to replace the late Justice Scalia with someone with equally or even more extreme views, he’s getting the pick he wanted. Judge Gorsuch’s far-right views fall so far outside the mainstream that he should not be confirmed for a lifetime appointment to the nation’s highest court.”

 

Trump expected to fulfill pledge to conservatives on Supreme Court

Speaking at a Palm Beach County GOP dinner at his Mar-a-Lago Club in March 2016, Donald Trump promised to list potential Supreme Court picks to assuage conservative doubts. (Daniel Owen/The Palm Beach Post)
Speaking at a Palm Beach County GOP dinner at his Mar-a-Lago Club in March 2016, Donald Trump promised to list potential Supreme Court picks to assuage conservative doubts. (Daniel Owen/The Palm Beach Post)

Whether it was his past support for universal health care, abortion rights and impeaching George W. Bush or his 2016 trade protectionism and NATO questioning, conservatives had their doubts about Donald Trump as he sought the presidency.

But part-time Palm Beach resident Trump was able to prevent defections from the GOP base by promising to nominate conservatives to the Supreme Court and even pledging in a Palm Beach speech to release a list of potential nominees for scrutiny.

 

When leading Never Trump figure Rick Wilson tried to persuade conservatives to leave Trump in favor of independent Evan McMullin, Trump’s Supreme Court pledge proved to be an obstacle.

 

“The Supreme Court was a value-added for Donald Trump that turned skeptical Republicans into at least tolerant Republicans of Trump. It was something we saw turn up in focus groups over and over and over again,” said Wilson.

 

Now Trump appears ready to honor his pledge to conservatives when he names a Supreme Court appointee this week.

 

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