Sunshine State News Blogs

First elected to Congress in 1992 and representing the most Democratic district in North Florida, U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., won another term on Tuesday. With 4 percent of the vote in, national media outlets called Brown a winner over Republican challenger Glo Smith. Brown stood with 64 percent of the vote while 36 percent backed Smith.
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U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., who won a North Florida congressional seat in 2012 in one of the biggest upsets in Florida political history, kept his seat with ease on Tuesday. National media outlets called the race for Yoho who, with 4 percent of the vote in, took 62.5 percent of the vote against Democrat Marihelen Wheeler who took 35 percent. Term limits activist Howard Lawson, who was running with no party affiliation, took 2 percent.
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In addition to covering the elections at the site, your humble blogger will be offering insights and analysis on the radio on Tuesday night. Tune into 1300 WMEL which can be heard all across the Space Coast where Ed Dean will be covering the elections on Tuesday night. I'll be joining Ed and his panel of guests throughout the night to offer updates. 

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Democrats have the advantage in Duval County by almost 5.5 percent but Republicans are currently outvoting them by almost 9,000 votes, giving the GOP a leg up of more than 4.5 percent, by 2 p.m. on Tuesday.

The question is, will this help Gov. Rick Scott stay in office against former Gov. Charlie Crist. Scott beat Democrat Alex Sink by 6 percent in Duval County back in 2010 so it’s certainly in the ballpark. Whatever the final tally is in Duval, neither of the two congressional representatives -- Republican Ander Crenshaw and Democrat Corrine Brown -- will be sweating it out on Tuesday. Nor will any of the state legislative delegation who are all expected to win easily.

But keep an eye on Jacksonville and the area in the weeks to come. All eyes will be on the First Coast in the special elections resulting in the aftermath of Sen. John Thrasher’s, R-St. Augustine, expected vacating of his state Senate seat to lead Florida State University (FSU) and for an already vacant state House seat. Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown is running for a second term with the likes of former Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) Chairman Lenny Curry trying to knock him off. This is one part of Florida which will simply shift from one election to another.

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It's dark, dreary and windy in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade Tuesday and those counties have already been wet with rain.

Former Gov. Charlie Crist's hopes to return to Tallahassee pin on the chances that those blue county voters will turn out to the polls for him, especially given the deficit he's already seeing in Democrat vs. GOP voter participation.

Will the storm clouds and their chance of rain keep voters home in those all-important counties where Crist has spent the most time and money? 

Around 3 million voters had already turned up to the polls even before Election Day, with the GOP leading in absentee and early voting by 3.3 percent. But Crist will need to rely heavily on Democrat voters turning out at a higher rate than Republicans. Judging on previous elections, that scenario isn't too likely as GOP turnout tends to always be higher than Dems. 

Polls close at 7 p.m. 
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Former Gov. Charlie Crist is getting a little help from the president himself this Election Day -- on Tuesday, President Barack Obama featured in a new radio ad urging voters to cast their ballots to send Crist back to Tallahassee. 

The Miami Herald reported Tuesday that the ad has been airing since Monday on a Miami radio station. 

"If you want to raise Florida's minimum wage, go vote," Obama says in the ad. "If you believe that every child deserves a fair shot, and that it's wrong to cut scholarships and funding for schools, go vote. If you want a governor who will fight for you, not just the wealthy and the powerful, go vote for Charlie Crist."  

Virtually every poll has Crist and Gov. Rick Scott in a dead heat. Voting ends at 7 p.m. ET.  
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Roll Call released its updated list of the 10 most vulnerable congressional incumbents over the weekend and two Florida congressmen made the list.

U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., placed No. 3 on the list. Roll Call notes:

Garcia’s re-election was always a concern for the national party, but his bid took a rough turn in 2013, when two former staffers garnered horrific headlines amid a voter fraud scandal.

For a most of the cycle, Garcia seemed to stabilize the situation with his powerhouse fundraising, and Republican challenger Carlos Curbelo did himself no favors when he compared Social Security to a Ponzi scheme.

But as national Democratic operatives pored over October internal polling, Garcia’s name rocketed to the top of their “worry lists.”

In the end, operatives from both parties say that Garcia’s saving grace may be GOP Gov. Rick Scott’s anticipated down-ballot drag in Garcia’s South Florida district.

Rating: Tilts Republican

U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., ranked fifth. Roll Call notes:

Democrat Gwen Graham waged a fierce campaign against Southerland, and he had no room for error this cycle.

But he made more than a few mistakes. Southerland hosted a controversial male-only fundraiser. Subsequently, his campaign bore the brunt of Democrats’ “War on Women” attacks.

Even so, both national parties are downplaying expectations in North Florida.

Rating: Tossup

The rest of the list can be read here.

H/t Politicalwire.

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Former Gov. Jeb Bush went to bat for Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam on Monday at a rally in Sarasota. Putnam is a favorite to beat Democrat Thad Hamilton on Tuesday.

“We need to elect conservative leaders who believe in limited government, believe in entrepreneurial capitalism and believe that individuals acting together can create a better America,” Bush said on Monday. “One of those people we need to elect is a great friend and a spectacular leader, and his name is Adam Putnam.”

Putnam called on voters to re-elect Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, CFO Jeff Atwater and, of course, himself, noting they presided over an economic turnaround.

“After the New York Times and Time Magazine wrote Florida’s obituary during the height of the recession, conservative leadership in Tallahassee cut unemployment in half, paid off $4 billion in debt and put another $3 billion in the bank,” Putnam insisted. “If given another four years, we can help secure Florida’s future – and make sure Florida’s residents have a shot at the American dream.”

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Gov. Rick Scott will be teaming up with Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Tuesday to make his final push for his second term in Tallahassee. 

Perry will join Scott all over the state, making stops in Miami, Fort Myers, Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, and Pensacola. 

The governor's race between Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist is set to be a nail-biter -- both candidates have been traveling statewide with other high-profile politicians -- last week, former President Bill Clinton attended rallies for Crist while New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie made a stop in Ormond Beach to show his support for Scott's re-election.
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U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., made his final pitch to conservatives across the nation on Monday as the GOP hopes to flip the U.S. Senate in Tuesday’s elections.

“Barack Obama and Harry Reid have made our nation less safe and less prosperous,” Rubio emailed supporters of his Restore America PAC. “Obamacare is a disaster. Regulatory agencies are out of control.

“We're working hard to take back the Senate,” Rubio added, pointing to “candidates like Scott Brown in New Hampshire, Tom Cotton in Arkansas, Joni Ernst in Iowa, and Cory Gardner in Colorado” he thinks will win on Tuesday.

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Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam holds a strong lead going into Election Day.

Public Policy Polling (PPP), a firm with connections to prominent Democrats, released a poll on Sunday showing Putnam up on Democrat Thad Hamilton. Putnam takes 49 percent in the poll while Hamilton musters 38 percent support.

The PPP poll of 1,198 likely voters was taken Nov. 1-2 and had a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percent.

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Florida CFO Jeff Atwater has a commanding lead as he heads into Tuesday’s election, looking for another term.

Atwater has the edge in a new poll of likely voters from Public Policy Polling (PPP), a firm with connections to prominent Democrats. The poll, which was unveiled on Sunday, has Atwater out front with 51 percent -- the only statewide candidate who gets a majority in the poll. Rankin lags behind with 37 percent.

The PPP poll of 1,198 likely voters was taken Nov. 1-2 and had a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percent.

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Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi looks headed for a second term after the results come on Tuesday night.

Public Policy Polling (PPP), a firm with connections to prominent Democrats, released a poll of likely voters on Sunday which shows Bondi with a comfortable lead over former DCF Secretary George Sheldon, the Democratic nominee. Bondi takes 46 percent of voters while Sheldon garners 37 percent. Tallahassee attorney Bill Wohlsifer gets 5 percent on the Libertarian line. 

The PPP poll of 1,198 likely voters was taken Nov. 1-2 and had a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percent.

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Amendment 2, a proposal to expand medical marijuana use in the Sunshine State, is going to get a majority of votes but not enough to pass, according to a poll released on Monday.

The poll of likely voters taken by St. Pete Polls for Saint PetersBlog shows the proposal coming up short as 54 percent of those surveyed back it and 44 percent oppose it. Only 2 percent are undecided.

To be added to the Florida Constitution, Amendment 2 needs 60 percent in the general election.

The poll of 1,834 likely voters was taken on Nov. 2 and had a margin of error of +/- 2.3 percent.

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It’s dead even in the Florida gubernatorial race according to a new poll released from St. Pete Polls for Saint PetersBlog.

The poll of likely voters released on Monday finds Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist taking 45.5 percent apiece. Libertarian Adrian Wyllie garners 6.3 percent while the remaining voters are undecided.

The poll of 1,834 likely voters was taken on Nov. 2 and had a margin of error of +/- 2.3 percent.

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Quinnipiac University released a poll on Monday morning which shows Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist running close in Florida with supporters of Libertarian Adrain Wyllie and undecideds holding the balance of power.

The poll shows Crist at 42 percent with Scott right on his heels at 41 percent while Wyllie takes 7 percent and 9 percent are undecided. When Wyllie is left out, Crist’s lead creeps up to 44 percent.

There is a gender gap in Florida according to the poll as 50 percent of women go for Crist while only 35 percent back Scott. Among men, Scott takes 47 percent while Crist musters only 34 percent. Wyllie gets 8 percent of men and 6 percent of women. Both candidates have nailed down their bases with 84 percent of Democrats for Crist and 81 percent of Republicans behind Scott. Crist leads among independents with 39 percent while 32 percent prefer Scott and 16 percent back Wyllie.

One big factor could be how Wyllie supporters cast their ballots on Tuesday. Only 78 percent of Wyllie voters are definitely voting for him as opposed to 96 percent of Scott and Crist voters saying they will stick with their candidates.

Both major party candidates are upside down. Half -- 50 percent -- of those surveyed view Crist as unfavorable while 43 percent see him in a favorable light. Scott gets similar numbers: 49 percent unfavorable, 42 percent favorable. Most -- 83 percent -- voters don’t know enough about Wyllie to offer an opinion while 9 percent view him as favorable and 5 percent see him as unfavorable.

"After an incredibly expensive, extremely nasty campaign, the Florida governor's race is too close to call,” said Peter Brown, the assistant director of the Quinnipiac Poll. “The winner will be the candidate best able to get his voters to the polls. Turnout, turnout, turnout.”

The poll of 817 likely voters was taken from Oct. 28-Nov. 2 and had a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percent.

From Oct. 28-Nov. 2, Quinnipiac University surveyed 817 likely voters with a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percentage points.


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In the final hours of the Florida gubernatorial race, a new poll shows it’s neck and neck between Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist -- and the Libertarian candidate could be holding back the Democrat.

A poll from Public Policy Polling (PPP), a firm with connections to Democrats, released on Sunday, shows Scott and Crist taking 44 percent apiece while Libertarian Adrian Wyllie gets 6 percent and 6 percent are undecided. When Wyllie is taken out of the mix, Crist inches ahead 47 percent to 46 percent.

The poll shows both major-party candidates are upside down. Scott is disapproved by 48 percent of those surveyed while 41 percent approve of his work as governor. Crist is seen as unfavorable by 47 percent while 40 percent see him as favorable.

The poll of 1,198 likely voters was taken Nov. 1-2 and had a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percent.

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Millions of Florida voters have turned out to vote early in this year's election, and while Republicans are turning out at a slightly higher rate than Democrats, Dems are closing in and narrowing the GOP lead.

As of Friday, 43.9 percent of GOP voters had turned out to vote either through early voting or absentee ballots compared to 38.7 percent of Democrats -- a 5.3 percent lead. The GOP lead has been decreasing daily. Yesterday, their lead stood at 5.9 percent. 

Still, Republicans lead early voting by 135,000 votes.  

Nearly every poll shows a neck and neck race between Gov. Rick Scott and former Gov. Charlie Crist. 

Early voting ends Sunday, Nov. 2.
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Facing a tough challenge from Democrat Gwen Graham in next week’s election, U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., is going on the attack in the final days of the campaign. This week, Southerland’s team launched a new TV ad trying to link Graham to Beltway Democrats and insisting she is looking to cut Medicare. 

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“Obama, Pelosi and Gwen Graham are putting your Medicare at risk,” the announcer of the ad says.

“Gwen Graham continues to lie about Steve Southerland’s record on Medicare,” said Luke Strickland, Southerland’s campaign manager, on Friday. “In fact, non-partisan fact checks have called her recycled attacks the ‘lie of the year’ and a ‘whopper [used] shamelessly to scare seniors.’ So why is Gwen Graham deceiving our seniors? Because she could never get elected if seniors knew the truth about Gwen’s support for devastating cuts to Medicare funding and Medicare Advantage benefits for Florida seniors.”

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Former NBA star Grant Hill sent a fundraising email out on behalf of former Gov. Charlie Crist on Thursday night.

“I was on a lot of great teams in college and in the pros. But this fall I'm thrilled to be on the People's Team -- on Charlie's team,” Hill wrote. “I live in Florida and love this state, but Rick Scott is taking us in the wrong direction. He killed a job-creating high-speed rail project between my home city of Orlando and Tampa -- and he won't raise the minimum wage or fight for equal pay.”

A star player at Duke University, Hill was a seven-time All Star in the almost two decades he played in the NBA despite injury problems. Hill played for the Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Clippers.

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U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., went to bat for Miami-Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo, the Republican candidate running against U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., sending out a fundraising email for him. 

“Our country is at a crossroads. In November, we have a choice to make,” Rubio emailed on behalf of Curbelo on Thursday afternoon. “Obamacare, failed stimulus programs, job-killing tax hikes and wasteful spending are pushing this country in the wrong direction. The result of this election is absolutely crucial to the future of our children and our grandchildren.

“Carlos and I believe that the American spirit can thrive again, providing us security and prosperity for our families and our communities," Rubio added. “We need Carlos in Congress.”

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Why is it when you round up and shake out the fraudsters in Florida around election time, you've got a great chance of winding up with a contributor to a Charlie Crist campaign?

Well, it's happened again. I'm sorry -- I don't make this stuff up.

When Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater announced the arrest today of attorneys, chiropractors and clinic employees involved in an organized personal injury protection (PIP) fraud scheme, who turned up in handcuffs but Boca Raton attorney and Crist good-buddy Cory Meltzer. Meltzer just contributed $1,000 to Charlie Crist's campaign for governor.

According to Atwater's press statement, the arrests made this morning in Martin, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties follow a year-long undercover investigation by the Florida Department of Financial Services’ Division of Insurance Fraud.

“Today’s arrests are the culmination of more than a year of extensive and often dangerous undercover work that has exposed a crime ring responsible for potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraud,” said CFO Atwater.

During the investigation, multiple undercover detectives were embedded into clinics that were accepting patients illegally solicited. One clinic in particular was billing for services that were never rendered. On several occasions, patients were also found being coached to claim they were injured when they were not.

Besides Meltzer, others arrested this morning include chiroprator Roger Hughes Bell, Hobe Sound; attorney Brian Greenspoon, Boca Raton; Alejandro Marin, Homestead; and Douglas Santiago, Boynton Beach. Individuals with warrants out for their arrest include Christina Savoye, Stuart; and chiropractor Ryan Grand, Lake Worth.

I know this is something we don't usually talk about. (Shhh. Being press, I'm expected to parrot the Rick Scott-HCA litany of shame.) But here's the problem: the Crist Crony Wing of federal prison is getting crowded. One more of the former governor's buddies in the slammer makes how many? I'm losing count.

Read this story. Or this story. Or this story. Or this story. In the words of Dr. Watson, "Disturbing pattern here, Mr. Holmes."

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Time is ticking down until Election Day, and one of the most prominent figures in Florida politics will be lending a last-minute helping hand to Gov. Rick Scott as he makes his final push for re-election.

Former Gov. Jeb Bush will be hitting the campaign trail with Gov. Scott this weekend in South Florida, joining the governor on his bus tour to promote early voting. The two will appear together in Hialeah on Sunday. 

Bush has been a staunch advocate of Scott, appearing in recent campaign ads for the governor to express his support for Scott's re-election. 

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 4.
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Opponents of Amendment 2, a proposal to expand medical marijuana use in Florida, released a new TV spot on Thursday. The ad notes the opposition Amendment 2 has garnered from the Florida Medical Association, former Florida Supreme Court justices, editorial boards and law enforcement.

“Florida newspapers, doctors and sheriffs across the state, as well as seven former Florida Supreme Court justices, have all warned about the potential negative impacts if Amendment 2 passes," said Sarah Bascom, a spokeswoman for the Vote No on 2 Campaign, on Thursday. “There are no do-overs in the Constitution and there is just too much at stake to put this terribly flawed amendment in our state's Constitution. It is clear that the only choice is to vote no on Amendment 2.”




“And, with Election Day right around the corner, we will continue to push out the facts so that all Floridians are informed on the true intentions behind Amendment 2,” Bascom added.



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The Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) continues to pound away at former Gov. Charlie Crist, the Democratic candidate looking to topple Gov. Rick Scott in next week’s election. On Thursday, the RPOF released a new TV ad contrasting their records on the economy, taxes and higher ed costs.

"Go backward with Crist,” the narrator of the ad says. “Go forward with Rick Scott. That’s how this election with affect you.” 

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The American Conservative Union (ACU) announced on Thursday it was supporting Gov. Rick Scott, R-Fla., for a second term.

“I urge all conservatives to turn out and vote to re-elect Rick Scott on November 4th. Scott is a strong conservative who will help Florida continue to grow,” ACU Chairman Matt Schlapp said on Thursday. “Rick Scott not only talks about tax cuts, he cut taxes 40 times in four legislative sessions.”

Schlapp took aim at Democratic challenger former Gov. Charlie Crist.

“Charlie Crist, on the other hand, is everything about politics we all hate,” Schlapp said. “He is the ultimate show horse who will saying anything and do nothing. His victory would send a message of encouragement to low life, empty headed politicians to keep squirming until they fool enough people to grab power again."

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Prominent national pundit Larry Sabato and the Center for Politics released their congressional elections rankings on Thursday and they think two congressmen from Florida are going down in next week’s elections.

U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., is now an underdog according to the new rankings as the race goes from “Tossup” to “Leans Democratic,” making Gwen Graham a favorite. Down in South Florida, Miami-Dade School Board member Carlos Curbelo is now the favorite over U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla., as the race goes from “Tossup” to “Leans Democratic.”

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., remains the favorite over former state Rep. Carl Domino as the race stays “Likely Democratic.”



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Want to see what PACs have donated the most money to Rick Scott and Charlie Crist in the Florida gubernatorial race through Oct. 3?

Brian Bandell in The South Florida Business Journal -- "Who's Funding Crist and Scott?" -- has it all, including this showing of more money poured into political action committees than has gone to candidates or political parties during the current election cycle.

Says the Journal, PACs and similar groups have raised $257.4 million, compared to $47.5 million for the Republican Party of Florida and $20.6 million for the Florida Democratic Party.

PACs with the most fundraising in Florida:

• Let's Get to Work (Rick Scott): $41.1 million
• Charlie Crist for Florida: $22.7 million
• NextGen Climate Action Committee: $10 million
• People United for Medical Marijuana: $6.5 million
• Drug Free Florida Committee: $4.7 million
• Florida's Water and Land Legacy (For Amendment 1): $4.5 million
• AFSCME Florida (union): $3.8 million
• Florida for All (Democrat leaning): $3 million
• Realtors Political Advocacy Committee: $2.9 million
• DGA-Florida (Democratic Governors' Association): $2.7 million.

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Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam looks like a lock for a second term according to a poll unveiled on Thursday.

Cherry Communications took the poll of likely voters for the Florida Chamber of Commerce Political Institute which shows Putnam taking 46 percent. Democrat Thad Hamilton musters up 30 percent in the poll. The Florida Chamber is backing Putnam for another term.

The poll of 508 likely voters was taken from Oct. 27-29 and had a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.

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Florida state CFO Jeff Atwater looks poised to win a second term in next week’s election.

A poll released Thursday from the Florida Chamber of Commerce Political Institute and taken by Cherry Communication shows Atwater taking 50 percent. Democrat William Rankin takes less a third of those surveyed, pulling in 32 percent. The Florida Chamber is backing Atwater for another term.

The poll of 508 likely voters was taken from Oct. 27-Oct. 29 and had a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.

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