Faith and tough cookies: The week in Florida politics
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida’s 2018 midterm election is one of the most important in years. The governor’s office and all three Cabinet seats are on the ballot; Republican Gov. Rick Scott is challenging three-term Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson; several congressional seats will be competitive; and Floridians will vote on 13 proposed constitutional amendments, ranging from property tax cuts to banning greyhound racing. The following are items of political interest from the past week:
PARTY CHAIRMAN BEMOANS BITTER PRIMARY
There’s someone who is fed up with the barrage of negative television ads and campaigning so far this year: The head of the Republican Party of Florida.
Blaise Ingoglia took to Twitter this week to say that “I’m really disappointed in all the negative campaigning going on between Republicans in the primary this year. We are better than this.” In a second tweet, Ingoglia added “let’s not help our opposition tomorrow by helping to destroy ourselves today.”
Ingoglia’s plea came one day after a rancorous debate that witnessed the two GOP candidates for governor trade sharp blows with each other. U.S. Ron DeSantis accused Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam of lying, while Putnam maintained DeSantis was unqualified and ignorant about the demands of the job.
AS (ALREADY) SEEN ON TV
It didn’t take long for DeSantis to turn his appearance at a rally with President Donald Trump into a TV commercial. DeSantis released an ad this week that was entirely footage of the event.
It’s called “Tough Cookie” — a reference to Trump introducing him at the Tampa event as a “tough, brilliant cookie.”
It ends with DeSantis pointing at the crowd as the words “CONSERVATIVE WARRIOR” appear on the screen and Trump’s voice saying, “Everybody needs to support Ron DeSantis.”
AND NOT SO TRUMP
Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo is being targeted by Democrats in a Miami-area district that supported Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016.
So his message is a little bit different than most Republicans around Florida.
Curbelo released a 15-second video ad that begins, “We have to work across the aisle to get big things done in Washington, D.C. So I will never apologize for reaching across the aisle and working with all of my colleagues.”
GOTTA HAVE FAITH
Democratic candidate for governor Chris King told a Tiger Bay Club in St. Petersburg spoke of a “highly weaponized strand of evangelical Republicanism” and said he wants to use faith to convince the GOP to work with him to enact policy that’s more in line with the teachings in the Bible.
“If you’re wealthy and well-connected, Florida is a great place to live, but if you are not, this state can be a tough place to make a living,” King said. “While the Bible has thousands of versus on caring for the needs of the poor, the immigrant, the sick, the least of these, I would argue that our state’s one-party Republican government has, in very intentional ways, made life more difficult, more difficult and more treacherous for them.”
King said he considers it a sin not to provide health care for those who don’t have it, and likewise the state isn’t doing enough to provide homes for those who can’t afford them.
“I believe that faith ... whether it’s coming from a mosque, or a synagogue, or a church, or another faith tradition — in its purist and most noble form in the public square — is about caring, serving, loving, sacrificing for the benefit of our neighbor,” he said.
STAND BY ME? NOT QUITE
State Rep. Julio Gonzalez is in a fierce battle with state Sen. Greg Steube in the Republican primary for U.S. House District 17, which will likely decide the congressman to replace retiring Tom Rooney.
But does Gov. Rick Scott supporting Gonzalez? Not quite, despite an ad that implies so.
Gonzalez released a 30-second spot showing Scott praising Gonzalez at an event they both attended, but the event was for Scott’s U.S. Senate campaign — not an endorsement.
Viewers wouldn’t know it by the ad, in which an announcer says Scott “stands with” Gonzalez and “Join Governor Scott in support of pro-Trump, tax-cutting conservative Dr. Julio Gonzalez.”
But Scott’s campaign manager, Jackie Schutz, said Scott hasn’t endorsed in the race.
Writer Gary Fineout contributed to this report.