Papa John's, big bucks, Harvest: A week in Florida politics
By BRENDAN FARRINGTON
Jul. 21, 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:
THANKS, BUT NO THANKS
Among the people who contributed to Republican Gov. Rick Scott's U.S. Senate campaign was Papa John's founder John Schnatter, who resigned earlier this month as the pizza chain's chairman after reports he used the N-word during a media training session.
Schnatter gave Scott $5,400 in May, two months before his comments were made public, and Scott's campaign said that instead of returning the money, they donated it to Shriners Hospitals for Children.
MILLIONS AND MILLIONS
It was revealed this week that Scott contributed $13.5 million to his campaign to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.
So let's use this opportunity to catch up with what other wealthy candidates are spending with their personal checkbooks to win office.
Three candidates for the Democratic nomination to replace Scott have combined to spend more than $25 million of their own wealth. Former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine has spent about $12 million ahead of the Aug. 28 Democratic primary, billionaire investor Jeff Greene has topped the $10 million mark, and Orlando-area businessman Chris King has written checks for about $3.5 million.
Republican state Rep. Frank White has pumped $2.75 million in his race to replace Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi, who can't seek re-election because of term limits. He's facing former Judge Ashley Moody in the primary.
Former Republican state Rep. Baxter Troutman has invested $3 million into his campaign for agriculture commissioner. He faces state Rep. Matt Caldwell and state Sen. Denise Grimsley in the primary.
And while not on the scale of the above, former Democratic state Sen. Jeremy Ring has contributed $150,000 to his race for chief financial officer. He doesn't have a primary opponent and will face current CFO Jimmy Patronis in November. Patronis was appointed to the position after CFO Jeff Atwater resigned.
AG AD WARS
Moody released her first television ad this week and, without naming him, struck a contrast with White by making it clear she hasn't held political office.
The ad starts by saying the streets aren't safe, borders aren't secure, and politicians can't fix the system.
Moody then says, "They are the system. I'm Ashley Moody — I'm a prosecutor not a politician."
The commercial touts Moody's conservative credentials and includes a photo of Bondi and President Donald Trump. Bondi has endorsed Moody.
White, who has aired three commercials over the past six weeks, said in a statement this week that Moody can't be a true conservative because she is using matching public money to help finance her campaign.
Moody says the she supports Trump's agenda, but she was part of a 2009 lawsuit against Trump in the failed Trump Tower Tampa. The lawsuit alleged that those who put deposits down were misled through "fraudulent and negligent misrepresentations" about Trump's role in the project.
Blue America, a group seeking to elect liberal Democrats, offered up a chance to win a framed, double platinum record awarded for Neil Young's "Harvest" album to people who donated to former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson.
Grayson is trying to win his old seat back after losing a run for U.S. Senate two years ago. Democratic U.S. Rep. Darren Soto now holds the seat.
So, basically, a group from Los Angeles is using a Canadian musician to support a Florida politician with an album containing the track "Alabama."
As the song says, "You got the spare change, you got to feel strange."
Not registered to vote? You have until July 30 to do so if you want to vote in the Aug. 28 primary.
That's also the deadline to change party registration if you're a Democrat who wants to vote in the Republican primary and vice versa, or if you're an independent that doesn't want to get shut out of a primary.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK — STATING THE OBVIOUS
"When you're talking about electing a governor, whoever we elect — I hope it's me — but whoever we elect, that person is going to end up getting the title as governor."— Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis.
AP writer Joe Reedy contributed to this report