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Trump and Stand Your Ground: The week in Florida politics

August 4, 2018

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:

TRUMP, TRUMP, AND MORE TRUMP

Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis is putting all his chips on President Donald Trump in the race for governor. Not only did Trump have a campaign rally with DeSantis this week, but DeSantis released a television ad reinforcing the president’s endorsement of his campaign over that of Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

The ad seeks seeks to be an amusing approach to the all-Trump, all-the-time strategy DeSantis has used this campaign.

It opens with his wife, Casey, saying, “Everyone knows my husband, Ron DeSantis, is endorsed by President Trump, but he’s also an amazing dad.”

It then shows the congressman and the couple’s toddler daughter stacking large blocks as he exclaims, “Build the wall!”

In the next scene, DeSantis sits with a book in one hand, and his infant son in the other and says, “Then Mr. Trump said, “You’re fired!” I love that part.”

And then Casey DeSantis says her husband is teaching their daughter Madison to talk. The congressman is shown holding a Trump campaign sign and pointing at each word as he tells his daughter, “Make America Great Again.”

Casey says, “People say Ron’s all Trump, but he is so much more.” The next seen shows Ron DeSantis standing over a crib and watching his son in a “Make America Great Again” onesie.

PUTNAM STRIKES BACK

Trump’s support appears to have cost Putnam his front-runner status in the GOP primary.

And he has responded with forceful criticism of DeSantis culminating in a new blistering television ad that is now airing statewide.

The ad that is being paid by Putnam’s political committee contends that “D.C. DeSantis” is “part of the Washington swamp.” It ends by calling DeSantis “hypocritical” and that he has betrayed Florida voters.

The ad starts out by mentioning that DeSantis supported the “Fair Tax,” which was a proposal to create a national sales tax. What the ad does not say is that the tax proposal also called for eliminating income taxes and payroll taxes.

STAND YOUR GROUND

Florida’s “stand your ground” law is once again becoming a political issue, with Democratic candidate for governor Andrew Gillum saying the Republican Gov. Rick Scott should declare an emergency and suspend enforcement of the law that allows people to use deadly force if they believe they are in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm.

That won’t happen.

Still, the recent shooting death of Markeis McGlockton during a parking lot dispute in Largo is another argument for opponents who say the law lets killers go free. McGlockton was an unarmed black man shot by Michael Drejka, a white man who wasn’t arrested.

“What the stand your ground law does is it took castle doctrine out into the streets,” said Gillum. “An individual can say, ‘I felt threatened,’ and because I felt threatened, if they’ve got a weapon on them they can resort to that weapon and snuff out the life of another person.”

Florida was the first state to expand the “castle doctrine,” which allows use of force to protect oneself in their home. “Stand your ground” gives the same right no matter where a person is as long as they aren’t breaking a law.

Gillum, who is black, said the law is disproportionately applied in a way that keeps white people from being charged for killing minorities. And while other states have a “stand your ground” law, he said Florida seems to remains “the poster child” for the law.

During a Thursday debate, all five Democratic candidates for governor said they supported repealing the existing law.

DO NOT CALL

Republican State Sen. Denise Grimsley is using a unique approach in her first television ad in her run for agriculture commissioner — and one that most people would support regardless of party.

The ad begins with a buzzing cellphone with the caller ID listing “SCAMMER.”

“At first, these fake calls were frustrating. Now, they’re infuriating,” she says as she picks up a flip phone and snaps it in half.

She promises to crack down on the calls and “put the crooks behind them behind bars.”

The ad goes on to list her conservative credentials as “pro-life, pro-gun, anti-tax.”

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Reporter Gary Fineout contributed to this story.

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