Republicans targeting Nelson with billboard on algae bloom

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson

The National Republican Senatorial Committee is hoping to tie anger about the toxic algae bloom that has fouled waters in the Treasure Coast to U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat the GOP wants to knock off when he seeks re-election in 2018.

Starting today, commuters driving past Interstate 95 at 10th Avenue near exit 64 will see a billboard urging them to “TELL BILL NELSON: Do more to fix Florida’s algae crisis.”

Nelson authored legislation that was passed into law in 2014 to direct $82 million for research into the causes and control of algae blooms and to give additional resources to communities affected by them.

The senator has also sponsored legislation that would, for the first time, pave the way for states and local communities hit hard by algae blooms to get federal assistance.

That legislation passed the Senate’s Commerce Committee in May. The Senate’s GOP leadership will determine when it is brought to the floor.

Nelson, first elected to the Senate in 2000 after a stint in the U.S. House of Representatives, could face Gov. Rick Scott in what would be an expensive, all-out battle Democrats can’t afford to lose if they have any hope of recapturing a majority in the Senate.

The GOP is already at work softening up Nelson.

“After 40 years in Congress, Bill Nelson has only reinforced his ineffectiveness as a lawmaker,” NRSC Communications Director Katie Martin said. “Floridians deserve a senator who will win the fight to fix the algae crisis, and decades have proven that Bill Nelson isn’t the man for the job.”

An algae outbreak curdled sections of the St. Lucie River in 2016, damaging businesses and angering residents who blamed Lake Okeechobee discharges for the smelly bloom.

State lawmakers passed a plan this year that would have the state store water south of Lake Okeechobee as a means of eliminating the discharges and, they hope, the algae spread.

For his part, Nelson is aware he has a political target on his back.

His campaign sent out a fundraising pitch Thursday mentioning Scott and President Donald Trump.

“CNN has ranked Florida’s Senate race as one of the most competitive races in the country next year,” the campaign pitch read. “And just last week, Gov. Rick Scott and Donald Trump met in New Jersey to begin plotting their campaign against Bill Nelson.”

The campaign said “a generous group of donors has stepped up big time and has offered to MATCH every donation we receive this week.”

“With Trump personally recruiting Scott to be his rubber stamp in the Senate, we CANNOT afford to waste this extraordinary opportunity to have your donation DOUBLED – making every dollar you give go TWICE as far – but time is running out.”

The donation match ended on Friday, but Nelson’s fight for re-election is only just warming up.

Murphy fights political math — and Rubio

Democrats placed a big bet on Murphy, figuring the two-term Jupiter congressman could flip the seat when Rubio was running for president and vowing not to seek re-election.

But Murphy’s chances shifted seismically in June, when Rubio announced he’d seek a second term.

Now, entering the race’s final weeks, Murphy’s hope is that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s sinking prospects will also pull Rubio under water.

National Democrats, though, seem skeptical, steering millions of dollars in planned spending for Murphy into at least five other states – Indiana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Pennsylvania – where Democratic pick-ups may look more likely. Democratic allies have spent only $5 million on taking out Rubio, according to Pro Publica, which is tracking campaign spending.

Meanwhile, Republican leadership PACS and outside groups such as the GOP’s Senate Leadership Fund, National Republican Senatorial Committee and National Rifle Association are underwriting Rubio’s race, spending more than $20 million against Murphy.

The pair will meet Monday in the first of two debates scheduled. The hourlong event from the University of Central Florida in Orlando will be aired on ABC-TV stations across the state, including WPBF-TV Channel 25 in West Palm Beach.

Full story:

Rubio triples Murphy’s latest fund-raising total in U.S. Senate race

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio outstrips Democrat Patrick Murphy in fund-raising.
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio outstrips Democrat Patrick Murphy in fund-raising.

Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio said Tuesday that he raised $9.6 million over the past three months, about triple the amount collected by Democratic rival, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter.

Rubio has already been helped by more than $15 million in spending against Murphy by groups including the National Republican Senatorial Committee, National Rifle Association and Koch brothers-financed organizations.

“I’m extremely encouraged to see an outpouring of donations from all over the state and I look forward to continuing to work hard to earn votes across Florida as we approach the election,” Rubio said.

Murphy announced Monday that he pulled in $3.3 million for the last quarter, bringing his total fund-raising to $14.5 million.

But while Rubio is being helped by big spending by outside organizations, only just over $3 million has been spent against him by unions allied by Murphy.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, after delaying a late-September TV ad buy on Murphy’s behalf, now also has scrapped another $1.9 million it scheduled for late October.

The DSCC, though, says it still plans to have TV ads airing for Murphy this month — although the Democrat continues to trail Rubio in almost every poll.

Murphy draws another $3.3 million for U.S. Senate homestretch; Rubio helped by outside groups

Republican Marco Rubio, Democrat Patrick Murphy
Republican Marco Rubio, Democrat Patrick Murphy

Democrat Patrick Murphy raised $3.3 million over the past three months in his bid to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who has been helped largely by millions of dollars more spent by outside groups.

The latest fund-raising puts the two-term Jupiter member of Congress at close to $14.5 million collected for the race.

Rubio, however, has been aided by more than $15 million in spending against Murphy by groups including the National Republican Senatorial Committee, National Rifle Association and Koch brothers-financed organizations.

Only $3.1 million has been spent against Rubio, mostly by labor unions supporting Murphy.

“It is clear that Floridians are ready for a Senator who shows up and fights for them in the U.S. Senate,” said Murphy, echoing themes from TV spots he’s airing which blast Rubio’s poor attendance record in the U.S. Senate.



Rubio leads Murphy in U.S. Senate race on strength of Hispanic support and boosting Democrat’s negatives

Rubio holds lead over Murphy
Rubio holds lead over Murphy

Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio continues to lead Democrat Patrick Murphy in the latest poll in Florida’s nationally watched Senate race, helped by strong support among Hispanic voters.

Mason-Dixon Polling & Research said its survey last week of 820 likely Florida voters showed Rubio with a 7-point edge on Murphy. Rubio leads 47 percent to 40 percent for Murphy, with the poll having a margin-of-error of plus-or-minus 3.5 percent.

While Murphy is trying hard to lash Rubio to the Trump campaign, the Florida senator is drawing some of his strongest backing for Hispanic voters.

Hispanics favor Rubio over Murphy 53 percent to 38 percent — and he is attracting 16 percent of Democratic voters, the survey found.

Rubio’s glut of TV advertising, mostly paid for by outside groups ranging from the National Republican Senatorial Committee to the National Rifle Association, also has helped drive up negative impressions of Murphy among voters.

Mason-Dixon pollsters concluded, “It is extremely difficult now for a Democrat to win in Florida while losing the Hispanic vote.”

In the presidential race, Hillary Clinton’s margin over Donald Trump with Hispanics (64%-29%) is the primary reason she is currently holding a slight statewide lead in Florida.


Murphy’s homestretch strategy: Make Rubio morph into Trump

Now there’s even a billboard on the Palmetto Expressway that ties Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio to Donald Trump, put up last week by supporters of Democratic rival Patrick Murphy.

But Rubio and his allies are counterpunching with their own barrage of TV spots, steadily questioning the resume and readiness of Murphy, a two-term congressman from Jupiter.

In Florida’s nationally watched Senate race, Rubio, Murphy and outside groups have spent almost $30 million, mostly on TV, radio, mailers and digital ads. The bulk is negative and designed to inflict damage on the opponent as the race veers into its final month.

Murphy, though, is facing an increasingly uphill fight trying to unseat Rubio, who is building a comfortable edge in most polls, in contrast with the presidential contest, which remains a toss-up in the nation’s biggest swing state.

Close to half the money in the Senate race — $14.6 million – has been spent against Murphy by groups supporting Rubio, according to finance data compiled by the site ProPublica.

Rubio has been helped by the Senate Leadership Fund’s almost $6 million in advertising, followed by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, National Rifle Association and Koch brothers-backed Libre Initiative and Concerned Veterans for America.

Outside organizations haven’t ponied up anywhere nearly as much for Murphy, who has had only about $5 million spent by the Senate Majority PAC and unions, including the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).

Full story here:

Despite brutal June, cash still flowing to Murphy campaign

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy
U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy

Jupiter Democrat Patrick Murphy said Thursday that he raised about $2.4 million over the past three months, giving him $7.2 million cash-on-hand for his U.S. Senate race.

Fellow U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, hasn’t made public his fund-raising total for the quarter ending June 30. But he has been well behind Murphy in the race for dollars, in April having $422,000 on hand when his rival for the Democratic nomination was boasting of $5.6 million available.

Grayson and Murphy are the leading Democrats in a race whose contours have changed significantly with Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio abandoning plans to quit last month and instead seek re-election.

Rubio has been rewarded with a $1.5 million TV ad buy from the Senate Leadership Fund, with spots set to air later this month in Tampa and Orlando. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce also has weighed in with a similarly sized ad buy for Rubio in the same markets.

The chamber spot targets Murphy, who has been attempting to push back against reports that he has inflated his academic and business backgrounds.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee also has been maintaining its attack on Murphy, with the party clearly favoring a general election campaign against Grayson, a self-avowed liberal whose politics may be too left to win statewide.

Murphy claims he has raised $750,000 in the last 10 days of June, which includes the period covering a two-day report by CBS4-News Miami that raised major questions about the candidate’s work history.