October 25, 2014

Crist rally turns into shouting match at African-American library in Fort Lauderdale

What began Saturday afternoon in Fort Lauderdale as an early voting rally for Charlie Crist turned into a shouting match, featuring the former governor’s supporters squaring off against those backing his opponent Rick Scott.

Crist’s bus pulled into the parking lot of the African-American Research Library and Cultural Center at about noon Saturday and was greeted by a crowd of supporters, mostly black Democrats. Also on hand were Scott supporters, mostly white, carrying “shame on you” signs. Scott’s group included one person barking into a megaphone.

Crist did not step out of the bus to address the crowd. Instead, he waved and smiled to supporters from the bus entrance before quickly departing the library parking lot.

When Republican Party of Florida chairwoman Leslie Dougher held a media gaggle to bash Crist, she was drowned out by the din of pro-Crist supporters.

Later, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera gathered at an adjacent parking area farther from the library and echoed Dougher’s attacks against Crist.

“Rick Scott is a guy who focuses on results, he has delivered them in the past four years,” said Lopez-Cantera. “Unemployment dropped in half, 651,000 new jobs, 40 tax cuts, record level of funding throughout the state budget for everything that is important to Floridians.”

Not to be outdone, State Sen. Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, told the library parking lot crowd that Crist would unite all Floridians.

“I need a governor who looks at everybody when he is looking to do appointments in this state. ... I need a governor who cares about all of us and loves all of us black white gay straight, whatever you are,” he said.

Democrat Charlie Crist traveled to early voting rallies from Miami to Jacksonville on Saturday.

Broward County has about twice the number of registered Democrats as Republicans. 

This is the first statewide general election in which experts expect the majority of votes to be cast before Election Day, Nov. 4.

There's a good chance that more than one-fourth of this Florida election's ballots have already been cast now that more than 1.6 million Floridians have early voted either in person or by absentee.

Though it has been cut significantly over the month, Republicans are still holding a big lead over Democrats in pre-Election Day voting: 46-37 percent, or more than 147,000 ballots, a net increase of more than 3,000 ballots since yesterday.

The good news for Democrats: They're lowering the percentage margin by which Republicans lead, from 9.8 percentage points yesterday to 9.2 points today as the state hosts its first weekend of in-person early voting.

So far, 66,649 people have voted by absentee ballot in Broward and 33,930 have early voted through Friday.

With 1.6m ballots cast, GOP widens lead to 147k but Dems narrow percentage margin


There's a good chance that more than one-fourth of this Florida election's ballots have already been cast now that more than 1.6 million Floridians have early voted either in person or by absentee.

Though it has been cut significantly over the month, Republicans are still holding a big lead over Democrats in pre-Election Day voting: 46-37 percent, or more than 147,000 ballots, a net increase of more than 3,000 ballots since yesterday.

The good news for Democrats: They're lowering the percentage margin by which Republicans lead, from 9.8 percentage points yesterday to 9.2 points today as the state hosts its first weekend of in-person early voting.

Prior posts can be found here, and here are the counts for in-person early votes, absentee votes and both combined:

PARTY      EV      %
REP     133,212 42%
DEM     131,532 42%
IND       50,765 16%
TOTAL     315,509  
PARTY    AB's      %
REP     607,889 47%
DEM     462,383 36%
IND     219,901 17%
TOTAL  1,290,173  
PARTY    EVAB      %
REP     741,101 46%
DEM     593,915 37%
IND     270,666 17%
TOTAL  1,605,682  

October 24, 2014

FL gov race nears $100m in ad spending, nearly $13m pumped into TV in a week


Wanna make $96 million disappear into thin air?

Then get into the business of making and running TV ads for the Florida governor's race, where about $12.7 million in broadcast and cable buys has been dropped since last week.

The election team for Gov. Rick Scott, who admitted this week to tapping his personal millions as a campaign “investment,” plopped down almost $7.6 million for current and future ads since Oct. 17. That's 60 percent of the total increase. Democrat Charlie Crist's team put in another $5.1 million, or 40 percent. Crist has reserved air time through next week. Scott has bought through Nov. 4, Election Day.

The race looks like a deadheat.

But Republicans right now are outvoting Democrats in pre-Election Day ballots by about 46-37 percent (a 144,000-vote margin). Democrats are gaining, however. And registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 39-35 percent (a 455,000-voter margin) and therefore have far more voters to turn out, potentially. Also, most recent polls show Crist winning independents (26 percent of the voter rolls and 17 percent of those who have cast ballots).

One noteworthy aspect of the past week's ad-buy increases: Crist outspent Scott in Tampa Bay. It’s a sign that Crist feels a need to protect his hometown media market, where Scott has saturated the airwaves with $18 million in ad buys since he began his sustained aerial bombardment in March. Crist is now at $10 million total in Tampa Bay.

Continue reading "FL gov race nears $100m in ad spending, nearly $13m pumped into TV in a week" »

Cases against 2 former aides to Miami Rep. Joe Garcia remain unresolved


U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia fired his chief of staff last year for orchestrating an unlawful absentee-ballot request scheme in 2012. Jeffrey Garcia ended upserving 65 days in jail.

But the legal wrangling didn’t end with him.

Two more aides who prosecutors say helped submit hundreds of ballot requests online without voters’ permission still have pending cases with the Miami-Dade County state attorney’s office.

Prosecutors initially had two years to press misdemeanor charges against John Estes and Giancarlo Sopo. The statute of limitations was set to expire in July for Estes and this Sunday for Sopo. Had no charges been filed by then, the two men would have been in the clear.

Yet prosecutors now have a third year to make their case — because Estes’ and Sopo’s defense attorneys have agreed to a limitations-statute extension, in a bid to try to talk the prosecution out of charging their clients with anything. The defense has maintained the aides were unwitting participants duped by Jeffrey Garcia, no relation to the congressman.

More here.

Rick Scott gets Twitter shoutout - and photo! - from Mr. 305 himself: Pitbull


Looks like Florida Gov. Rick Scott wasn't the biggest name at his Republican fundraiser at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables on Friday.

That distinction apparently goes to Miami native Armando Christian Pérez -- better known as Pitbull -- who on posted to his Twitter account (@pitbull) a photo with the guv, Lieutenant Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and state Rep. Erik Fresen.

"Proud to meet and discuss Florida's future with Governor @scottforflorida LG @lopezcantera and Rep @ErikFresenFL," Mr. Worldwide wrote.

He also attached a photo that -- let's be honest -- could be far more persuasive campaign-flier art for voters who may not be into politics but may be into Pitbull's signature brand of Latin pop. (¡Dale!)

Pitbull is registered to vote in Miami-Dade County, voting records show -- without political-party affiliation.


To pump up early vote, Charlie Crist rallies from Miami to Jacksonville Saturday


RainHow important is this weekend's in-person early vote for Democrat Charlie Crist? He's planning rallies from Miami to Jacksonville in one day.

Republicans as of this morning led Democrats in total pre-Election Day ballots cast by 144,000. All but 2,000 of those votes were by mail-in absentee ballots. When it comes to early voting in person, Democrats fare much better (they handily beat Republicans in 2012 but didn't in 2010).

Republicans have more-reliable (but fewer) voters than Democrats. And so far they've had another advantage this week during early voting in Democrat-rich South Florida -- the weather. It has been awful. Few things depress turnout like tropical depressions. As for why so many Democrats are sitting on absentee ballots they have voted, well maybe they have leaky roofs. Allegedly, the rain will clear up tomorrow.

Here's Crist's schedule for Saturday. Don't be surprised to see him visiting black churches Sunday for "Souls to the Polls" rallies:

Continue reading "To pump up early vote, Charlie Crist rallies from Miami to Jacksonville Saturday" »

Charlie Crist's False claim about insurance

Candidates in this year’s gubernatorial race have launched so many attacks against each other, it’s hard to keep them all straight. Even the candidates themselves seem to be having problems.

During the Oct. 21, 2014, CNN debate in Jacksonville, Democrat Charlie Crist seemed to mix his talking points when it came to insurance rates.

"We haven't had a hurricane in eight years and your property insurance rates have gone through the roof. Now why is that? I'll tell you why," he said. "It is because Rick Scott is not letting the department of insurance regulate insurance. He actually signed a bill last year that said that the Department of Insurance Regulation cannot regulate insurance."

Because we have a fairly long memory here at PolitiFact Florida, that didn’t sound right to us. Crist’s campaign told us they didn’t want to expound on this any more, so we looked into it ourselves. We found that Crist is actually using two unrelated attacks at once here, so stick with us and we’ll sort this out. Turn to Joshua Gillin's fact-check for PolitiFact Florida.

Poll: Teachers disapprove of Rick Scott

Public school teachers really don't like Gov. Rick Scott, according to a poll released Friday by the Democratic Party of Florida. 

The survey, conducted by the firm Hamilton Campaigns, found that 81 percent of public school teachers who are likely voters have a negative opinion of the way Scott handled education.

Sure, teachers tend to be Democrats. But 62 percent of the educators who identified themselves as Republicans gave Scott negative marks.

Democratic candidate Charlie Crist fared much better. Only about 28 percent of respondents had a negative opinion of the way he handled education while serving as governor, according to the survey results.

"The results of this poll confirm what many Floridians already know: Rick Scott has failed Florida's education system," Florida Democratic Party Executive Director Scott Arceneaux said in a statement Friday. 

Will that make a difference on Election Day?

The survey found that 64 percent of teachers, regardless of their party affiliation, planned to vote for Crist. About 17 percent said they would vote for Scott.

The Republican teachers were divided: 34 percent planned to vote for Crist; 43 percent for Scott; and 7 percent for Libertarian candidate Adrian Wyllie

The results aren't entirely surprising.

Scott is a strong supporter of vouchers and charter schools, a position that has put him at odds with the teachers union as well as rank-and-file educators.

Crist, who used to be a Republican, supported many of those same education policies while serving as governor from 2007 through 2010. But he won over teachers in 2010 by vetoing a controversial bill seeking to tie teacher pay to student performance. And he has since supported a teachers union lawsuit challenging the school voucher program.

The Florida Education Association is one of Crist's biggest and most important supporters.

Read the memo on the poll below.

Download Memo



Charlie Crist ad goes after Rick Scott's jet, mansion and K-12 spending again

From a press release:

St. Petersburg, Fla. – The day Rick Scott skipped a deposition about his potentially illegal use of private emails to conduct public business, the Crist for Governor campaign released an ad highlighting one of the prime examples: the Scott Administration’s use of private emails to raise funds to improve the governor’s mansion.


Scott: Feds need to monitor Ebola volunteers

Gov. Rick Scott is once again calling on the federal government to step up its Ebola-prevention efforts. 

Scott made his latest remarks Friday, after Dr. Craig Spencer tested positive for the virus in New York.

"The news of Dr. Spencer testing positive for Ebola after returning to the U.S. last week from treating Ebola patients makes it clear that the CDC and federal government must do more to protect health care workers around the world and our citizens here at home," he said in a statement.

The Republican governor pointed out that the U.S. Department of Defense requires daily medical checkups for military personnel returning from Ebola-infected areas. Scott asked that the same 21-day period of care and quarantine be extended to volunteers. 

"Ensuring that all workers abroad are required to take the same safeguards and precautions as our U.S. military personnel will not only provide an equal level of care for these selfless health care workers, it will also better protect all our citizens here in Florida and across the country from any threat of this deadly disease," he said.

No word yet on if the federal government will comply.

Some critics say Scott has been focusing on Ebola to showcase his leadership skills before the Nov. 4 election. But he has also received some praise for his handling of the situation. During a debate earlier this month, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist said Scott was doing a good job on Ebola preparedness.

Cook Political Report: Miami Rep. Joe Garcia one of 'most vulnerable Democrats'


South Florida voters used to competitive political races -- this is the nation's largest purple state, after all -- may not realize just how important the tossup congressional contest between U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia and Carlos Curbelo is nationally.

On Friday, 11 days before the election, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report in Washington D.C. released its analysis of vulnerable Democratic incumbents. And Garcia is on it.

The report notes that Garcia has attacked the Republican Curbelo for calling Social Security and Medicare a "Ponzi scheme" but doubts how effective that message has been, considering it did little to hurt the GOP in a 2010 Indiana campaign. It also mentions the criminal investigation that landed Garcia's former chief of staff in jail, and the fact that many voters who cast ballots in 2012 may sit out this year's midterms.

"Garcia is certainly one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the country," the report concludes.

Read it here (subscription required).

1.5m votes cast, GOP still leads but Dems have cut advantage-rate in half since Oct. 6


About 1.5 million pre-Election Day ballots had been cast as of Friday morning and the Republican advantage over Democrats is slowly eroding in terms of a percentage advantage.

Yesterday morning, Democrats were down 10.8 percentage points compared to Republican ballots cast. Now, Democrats are down 9.8 percentage points.

That's the first time since votes have been posted Oct. 6 that the Republican advantage has been cut to below 10 points. On Oct. 6, when overseas ballots (mainly military) were coming in, the GOP advantage was 20.5 percentage points.

Now that tomorrow marks the first weekend of early voting (and perhaps the first weekend without rain in Democrat-heavy South Florida) there's a good chance Democrats will -- or should -- close the gap more.

But elections aren't decided on percentage-point gains. They're decided by the number of ballots cast. Votes won't be tallied until Election Day. But the totals by party in ballots cast before then gives us an idea about the strength of each side.

And the GOP is still winning outright: 144,109 more ballots cast than Democrats by absentee and in-person early vote.

That's a small increase of 1.3 percent for the GOP since yesterday, while the total number of ballots cast increased by 11.2 percent.

Here are some dueling memos from the campaigns about turnout (Scott and Crist), background on related posts are here, and here are the numbers as of this morning:

Total early and absentee votes

PARTY    EVAB     %
REP        681,752 46%
DEM        537,643 37%
IND        247,245 17%
TOTAL     1,466,640  

Absentee ballots

PARTY     AB's        %
REP        580,006 47%
DEM        437,926 36%
IND        208,773 17%
TOTAL     1,226,705  

Early vote

PARTY      EV        %
REP        101,746 42%
DEM         99,717 42%
IND         38,472 16%
TOTAL        239,935  





Scott campaign memo: The Obama turnout model is a 'pile of rubble' for Charlie Crist


The war of the memos continues. Yesterday, a Charlie Crist advisor made the case that the campaign is on track to turn out pre-Election Day voters. Now its Rick Scott's campaign that's deep-diving the numbers and arguing that it's winning the turnout war on multiple fronts. The memo:


Continue reading "Scott campaign memo: The Obama turnout model is a 'pile of rubble' for Charlie Crist" »

Marco Rubio becomes Rick Scott's latest Spanish-language TV ad spokesman


First there was Jeb Bush. Then Luis Fortuño and Maurice Ferre. Now Marco Rubio takes the mic for Gov. Rick Scott in his latest Spanish-language spot.

The translation:

 I was the Speaker of the House of Representatives during the first two years of Charlie Crist as governor… it was a disaster, property values falling, people losing their jobs, very high unemployment rates. We can’t let this state to go back to where it was just five, six years ago, when he was governor, and we did not have any serious solutions. The only way for Barack Obama and Charlie Crist to be able to win is for you not to vote. I vote in this county and in a few minutes I will go to vote for Rick Scott and I urge you all to do the same.

October 23, 2014

We watched way too many campaign ads so you wouldn't have to


It's no secret that Florida is essentially several different states in one. How one area of Florida views the world - and votes--  is often quite different than how another does. The Times/Herald tried a little experiment today, monitoring the political commercials that aired in four distinct TV markets/political territories during the 6 p.m. local news.

A few obvious conclusions:
***Competitive campaigns are a glorious gift to TV station owners. And even if your region is not so politically divided to be a top target from both Democrats and Republicans, a competitive congressional race -- like Steve Southerland vs Gwen Graham in the Tallahassee and Panama City markets -- can be gold for the bottom line.

***In Tampa Bay, the words "Duke Energy" are political poison (And, it seems, the Florida GOP has decided Republican State House candidate Bill Young may not be competitive enough to merit a big TV campaign).

***The anti-medical marijuana folks are spending big on TV, while the pro-Amendment 2 side seems to be hoping to squeak to victory off free publicity and less expensive social media ***If you live in the Miami TV market, by far the most expensive, you are seeing NOWHERE NEAR the volume of political ads as other areas. Generally the markets that receive most of the ad spending, because of population and more reasonable rates, are Tampa, Orlando, and West Palm Beach.

Here's what we saw from 6 p.m. to 6:30 tonight:
TALLAHASSEE, WCTV-Ch. 9, 14 political ads: Anti-Gwen Graham ad by NRCC, about Obamacare and Nancy Pelosi; Pro-Steve Southerland ad by Southerland campaign, featuring his family; Anti-Charlie ad, showing Obama-Crist hug; Anti-Crist state GOP ad with narrator talking about lost jobs under Crist; Anti-Southerland ad by Gwen Graham accusing Southerland of "scaring seniors" and promising that she opposes cutting Medicare; A non-political ad; Anti-Southerland ad by DCCC saying he took money from companies that outsource jobs:Pro-Crist ad citing his opposition to utility rate increases and support for middle class; State GOP puzzle ad about Crist being career politician who believes only in himself; Anti-Southerland ad by the NEW Advocacy Fund attacking his record on Medicare, senior issues; Anti-Graham ad linking her to Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Steny Hoyer by the Congressional Leadership Fund; Anti-Crist ad by Partnership for Florida’s Future (Florida Chamber of Commerce) saying, "the last thing we need are more trial lawyers;" Pro-Scott ad featuring Jeb Bush; Anti-Southerland ad by DCCC about outsourced jobs; Pro-Amendment one, land and water conservation ad by Florida's’s Water and Land Legacy.

JACKSONVILLE. WJXT-Ch. 4, Nine political ads, in order: Vote No on Amendment 2 by Drug Free Fla; Vote Yes on 1 (conservation initiative) by Florida's Water and Land Legacy; State GOP "puzzle" ad about Crist having no core values and having run in three political parties in three years; Crist campaign ad about his concern for middle class Floridians and education; CFO Jeff Atwater ad; Fla GOP ad tying Crist to Obama; Jeff Atwater ad; ad for state Rep. Janet Adkins; state GOP ad featuring Jeb Bush praising Rick Scott.

TAMPA BAY WTSP-Ch. 10, 14 political ads out of 18 ads total:
Vote no on 2 by Drug Free America; Anti-Scott ad saying "Rick Scott let Duke Energy gouge Tampa Bay" by NextGen Climate; Anti-Crist puzzle ad by state GOP; Jeff Atwater ad:-"It's my job to protect taxpayers" Atwater campaign; Pro-Scott ad with him in a port and talking about growing jobs; Pro-Greenlight Pinellas Transportation ad featuring former Co. Commissioner lamenting "all these negative ads;" Pro-Crist ad featuring Republican Pasco Tax Collector Mike Fasano; Florida Democrats ad for State Rep. Dwight Dudley about Duke Energy supporting challenger Bill Young; Anti-Crist puzzle ad; Anti-Scott about fraud at Scott's former company; Anti-Crist ad about him growing up rich by state GOP; Anti-Scott ad connecting him to Duke by NextGen Climate.

MIAMI CBS4, five political ads out of 17: Ad for state Rep. Daniel Diaz Leyva; Ad for Miami courthouse repair campaign; Pro-Scott ports ad; Anti-Crist puzzle ad; Anti Carlos Curbelo ad about Medicare; Pro-Scott ad w Jeb Bush; Anti-Curbelo ad.


Could Charlie Crist have expanded Medicaid?

To hear Gov. Rick Scott and Charlie Crist tell it, the 2014 gubernatorial campaign isn’t about policy positions, but more about which candidate did less as governor.  

Take the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion. No, really, someone should take it, because neither governor did. Now each is berating the other for it.

"He will not lift a finger to get Medicaid expansion done," Crist said during Tuesday’s CNN debate in Jacksonville. He said Floridians are suffering from the resultant lack of medical care, plus the loss of jobs the expansion has been predicted to bring.

Scott answered by first accusing Crist of running up the state’s debt. "And then you want to talk about Medicaid," he said. "You were governor when it passed. Why didn't you get it passed right then? Why didn't you expand it right then?"

Say, why didn’t he expand it right then? Could Crist have even done anything about the Medicaid expansion while he was in office? We decided to look into the assertion and find out. Turn to PolitiFact Florida to read the rest of Joshua Gillin's fact-check.

Gubernatorial candidates make overtures to female voters

From the sound of things, Florida's gubernatorial candidates consider female voters key to the Nov. 4 election.

Democratic candidate for governor Charlie Crist stressed his record on women's rights Thursday while campaigning in Broward County.

Sen. Anitere Flores issued the response from Republican Gov. Rick Scott's campaign.

"Charlie Crist is waging a serious and offensive war on women," said Flores, a Miami Republican. "First he takes $90,000 in campaign cash from strip club bosses who ran prostitution and drug rings, then he said 'it's worth it' to lose another 500,000 jobs. There's no telling how many of those jobs will belong to Florida women. Last time Charlie was governor, 244,000 women lost their jobs."

Both campaigns (as well as the Republican and Democratic parties and various third-party groups) are making a serious effort to engage women before Election Day. Earlier in the week, union leaders and pro-immigrant groups rallied female voters during a left-leaning telephone townhall meeting. 

A Quinnipiac University poll released this week showed Crist leading Scott among female voters, 45-39.

Bill Clinton heads to FL to help Charlie Crist, Gwen Graham

via @adamsmithtimes

Barack Obama won't make it to Sunshine State before the election, it appears, but former President Bill Clinton is expected to headline an early vote rally in Tampa on 5 pm Sunday. It will be at Cyrus Greene Park.

Clinton will be campaigning with Congressional candidate Gwen Graham earlier in the day in north Florida.

With eye on 2016, Chris Christie heads back to FL to stump, fundraise with Rick Scott

From a press release:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – RGA Chairman Chris Christie will travel to Nebraska this Saturday to attend events for GOP Gubernatorial Nominee Pete Ricketts. Governor Christie will then travel to Iowa to attend events for Congressman Steve King and Governor Terry Branstad. On Sunday, Governor Christie will travel to Florida to attend events for Governor Rick Scott.....

Sunday, October 26

9:00AM: RGA Chairman Chris Christie and Governor Rick Scott attend a church service in Boca Raton, FL. Press: CLOSED

11:00AM: RGA Chairman Chris Christie and Governor Rick Scott attend a church service in Miami, FL.

1:00PM: RGA Chairman Chris Christie and Governor Rick Scott attend a GOTV event in Plantation, FL. Press: OPEN

2:45PM: RGA Chairman Chris Christie and Governor Rick Scott attend a Republic Jewish Coalition event in Boca Raton, FL. Press: OPEN

6:00PM: RGA Chairman Chris Christie and Governor Rick Scott attend a Scott for Florida event in Palm Beach, FL. Press: CLOSED

7:45PM: RGA Chairman Chris Christie and Governor Rick Scott attend a Scott for Florida event in Palm Beach, FL. Press: CLOSED

Police union in Miami-Dade launches own "racy" radio show


John Rivera, head of Miami-Dade's police union and a leading foe of county Mayor Carlos Gimenez, has secured his own radio show

The union is buying time for a twice-a-month radio show on 880 AM, and the premiere hour-long episode airs tonight at  9 p.m.

Rivera and other union leaders will tackle "topics and issues facing our community which require more than 15 second soundbyte responses," according to a release from the Police Benevolent Association union. "According to Rivera, like most things the Dade County PBA undertakes, the show will be racy and thought provoking."

While the first episode was taped Wednesday, the show eventually plans to air live. That should make things interesting, given Rivera's tendency for explosive quotes. 

In the spring, Rivera warned residents they needed to "buy firearms" if Gimenez went through with a plan to cut officer jobs. (The mayor didn't.) He wrote an item for the union's newsletter comparing the mayor to a sexually transmitted disease -- "Gimenez is like herpes -- the 'gift' that keeps giving" -- and recently called the mayor a "terrorist" after Miami-Dade laid-off two police videographers

The mayor's office said it had no comment on the union's new radio show. In an interview, Rivera said the show won't focus on the union's ongoing contract talks or other sources of county friction.

"I think the audience would be bored just to hear about our differences," he said. "It’s going to allow us to speak about things that quite honestly no media outlet has the time to do."

Continue reading "Police union in Miami-Dade launches own "racy" radio show " »