Bill Nelson

Scott, Nelson neck-and-neck (redux)

A second poll shows Florida voters are evenly split between U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Gov. Rick Scott are tied in a potential match-up.

Scott hasn’t announced that he’s running against Nelson, a long-serving Democrat, but everybody expects the Republican governor, who’s amassed a hefty campaign war chest, to jump into the race.

A MasonDixon Polling & Research poll released late Wednesday showed both Nelson and Scott with 44 percent support of Floridians, with 12 percent undecided.

That’s a bounce for Scott, who trailed Nelson by 5 percentage points in a February poll also conducted by Mason-Dixon.

Pollster Brad Coker attributed the jump in Scott’s popularity to independent voters, who favored Scott over Nelson 44-40 percent. In February, Nelson held a 9 percentage-point lead over Scott with independents.

Scott is also up among whites, males and older voters, while Nelson has firmer advantages among women, younger voters, blacks and Hispanics.

The poll also showed Scott’s favorability at 44 percent, compared to 38 percent for Nelson. But more voters also view Scott unfavorably, with 33 percent to Nelson’s 21 percent.

Scott also edged out Nelson in job performance ratings, with 53 percent of those surveyed approving of the governor’s performance and 50 percent giving Nelson a nod.

The two-term governor also has a better brand than Nelson, who’s represented Florida in the U.S. Senate for 16 years.

When asked “Do you recognize the name?” of the two politicians, 2 percent were unaware of Scott and 14 percent didn’t recognize Nelson.

The poll, conducted Oct. 17-19,  shows Scott creeping up on Nelson, who held a 5 percentage-point edge over the governor in a survey conducted in February. In that poll, independent voters gave the senator a 9 percentage-point lead.

And the Mason-Dixon poll mirrors results in a University of North Florida survey released earlier this week that found Nelson and Scott virtually tied — 37-36, with Nelson’s slight lead within the margin of error.

Poll results from Mason-Dixon released late Wednesday showed Floridians gave Scott high marks for his handling of Hurricane Irma.

 On the heels of that poll, Scott’s “Let’s Get to Work” political committee launched a $2 million ad campaign this week — starring Scott with his ubiquitous, storm-induced Navy ballcap — that boasts of the governor’s storm relief efforts.

Nelson used Scott’s ad campaign to raise money for his own campaign.

“Gov. Rick Scott just purchased $2 million in TV ads to try to boost his campaign against me here in Florida. And what’s worse: By not ‘officially’ declaring he’s running yet, Scott is able to avoid our campaign finance laws and use the unlimited corporate money in his PAC to pay for them,” Nelson said in a campaign email on Wednesday. “The timing of these ads isn’t a coincidence — just yesterday, a new poll came out showing our race here in Florida is close. And it looks like Scott and his right-wing friends are willing to spend big now to try to take an early lead.”

The latest Mason-Dixon results, show Nelson and Scott with heavy support from within their own parties.

Nelson is up 47-percent to 40-percent among women, 87-percent to 4-percent with black voters and 54-percent to 32-percent among Hispanics.

Scott has the white voters, 54-percent to 34-percent, and men, 49-percent to 40-percent.

Nelson has voters 34 years and younger, 50-percent to 35 percent. It a tie among the 35-to-49-year-olds, a statistic tie favoring Scott among those 50 to 64, and a 49-percent to 41-percent contest for Scott among those 65 years and older.

The poll was conducted Oct. 17-19, with 625 registered Florida self-identified frequent voters interviewed by telephone. The  poll had a 4-percentage point margin of error.

By Dara Kam and Jim Turner.

 

Voters give Scott high marks for Irma, but thumbs down on evacs

Gov. Rick Scott scored high marks from Floridians for his handling of Hurricane Irma, but a new poll showed that his demands for mass evacuations may result in fewer people hitting the road the next time a storm threatens the Sunshine State’s shores.

A Mason-Dixon Polling & Research poll released Wednesday found Scott received “excellent” marks from 35 percent of the 625 registered Florida voters interviewed statewide in telephone surveys from Oct. 17 to Oct. 19. Another 31 percent described Scott’s storm response as “good.”

Another 25 percent graded Scott as “fair,” with 4 percent listing him actions as “poor” and 5 percent unsure.

Not surprisingly, his fellow Republicans gave Scott higher marks, with 89 percent of GOP respondents giving the governor “excellent” or “good” grades. Only 49 percent of Democrats polled put Scott in those top categories, while 62 percent of independents considered his handling of the storm “excellent” or “good.”

Scott has taken heat for a hike in debris removal rates in the Florida Keys, and for deleting voicemail messages from officials with The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills nursing home in Broward County. The calls were made as residents, many of them elderly, overheated after the facility lost air conditioning due to the deadly storm. Fourteen residents eventually died.

But voters’ overall satisfaction with how Scott managed the storm — which impacted nearly every part of the state after making landfall in the Florida Keys on Sept. 10 — can’t be good for U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, who is likely to face-off against the governor in his bid for re-election next year.

A University of North Florida poll of registered Florida voters released Monday put Nelson and Scott in a near dead heat, with 37 percent supporting Nelson and 36 percent for Scott. Another 20 percent undecided.

More importantly, the statewide poll by the school’s Public Opinion Research Lab, found that nearly half of the voters queried — 49 percent — couldn’t say how Nelson is doing as senator, a position he’s held since 2001. The poll, conducted from Oct. 11-17, had a 3.39 percentage point margin of error.

The Mason-Dixon poll, conducted via landline and cell phones, had a 4-percentage point margin of error.

Among those polled, 10 percent reported “very serious” property damage, while 50 percent suffered little or no property damage from the storm.

Those figures, along with the shifting storm track that put many evacuees into the eventual path of Irma, could help explain the reluctance to evacuate from the next storm revealed by the polling outfit.

“Next time round could be a different story, as many Floridians indicate they will rethink their actions,” Mason-Dixon pollster Brad Coker stated in a release. “Statewide, only 57% say that they will follow an evacuation order in the face of a hurricane similar in strength to Irma.”

The state has estimated that about 6 million people were ordered to evacuate, but it’s unknown how many actually took to the road. Many people who weren’t under evacuation orders decided to skedaddle.

Among those surveyed, 19 percent were ordered to evacuate and did. From that group, 71 percent said they would pack up for the next storm.

Another 14 percent of those surveyed didn’t heed the evacuation orders they were given. Among them, 19 percent said the next time they would hit the road.

Of those polled, 13 percent did evacuate despite not being in an evacuation zone.  Just over half, 57 of those people would leave home in the next storm.

Finally, of the 54 percent of Floridians polled that stayed put and weren’t told to leave, 62 percent said they “definitely would” evacuate if told to move out before the next storm.

By Jim Turner.

 

 

Rubio, Nelson to Trump admin: Fix roads & bridges in Puerto Rico

Keeping up their bipartisan stance on Puerto Rican aid, Florida’s U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio are calling on President Donald Trump’s administration to make repairs to the island’s roads and bridges.

Damage to the transportation infrastructure is making it harder to get “essential aid and supplies” to Puerto Ricans a month after Hurricane Maria ravaged the U.S. territory, the senators argued in a letter to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao and FEMA Director Brock Long.

“Recovery efforts in rural areas, and in communities throughout Puerto Rico, will continue to be slow if these infrastructure needs are not addressed. It is critical that FEMA and DOT work together to quickly reconnect isolated communities to the rest of the island, and begin the larger task of helping Puerto Rico rebuild its transportation infrastructure,” Nelson, a Democrat, and Rubio, a Republican, wrote in a letter to the administration officials today.

Here’s the full text of the letter:

As you well know, Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017 as a major storm that has left the island in disarray.  Now, more than a month later, many citizens continue to lack reliable access to essential aid and supplies due to infrastructure that has been critically damaged or destroyed. We are writing to urge the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) to promptly assist and identify interim solutions for Puerto Rico in repairing its damaged roads and bridges.

During our recent visits to Puerto Rico, we witnessed the devastation this storm caused to the island’s infrastructure, including numerous bridges that were damaged or completely destroyed. The hurricane hit rural communities in Puerto Rico’s mountainous interior especially hard, effectively cutting them off from the rest of the island. It has been reported that small communities, such as Charco Abajo in rural Utuado, have resorted to replacing bridges with makeshift pulley systems to ferry supplies across the Vivi River. While the ingenuity on behalf of local residents has helped deliver supplies to areas that federal officials overlooked, it is not a sustainable or safe solution.

What are your agencies’ plans to ensure the delivery of aid to Puerto Rico’s isolated, rural communities in light of this infrastructure damage?

What interim solutions can be enacted to quickly restore access to these communities?

What are the agencies’ plans to help rebuild and repair roads and bridges on the island?

Recovery efforts in rural areas, and in communities throughout Puerto Rico, will continue to be slow if these infrastructure needs are not addressed. It is critical that FEMA and DOT work together to quickly reconnect isolated communities to the rest of the island, and begin the larger task of helping Puerto Rico rebuild its transportation infrastructure.

Thank you for your prompt consideration of this matter.

 

Video: Marco Rubio bemoans lack of aid for citrus growers

Florida’s U.S. senators have made a bipartisan pitch for the citrus industry to their colleagues, but it’s unclear whether federal lawmakers will fork over the money to bail out Sunshine State growers devastated by Hurricane Irma.

The state estimates the citrus industry took a $640 million wallop, but ag experts, including Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, say that damage is actually much higher.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio delivered a speech on the floor yesterday bemoaning the fact that the Florida delegation couldn’t get aid for the citrus growers in the recovery spending bill.

Here’s part of his speech:

“You have the entire Florida delegation in the House in favor of it, and they couldn’t get it in the House bill. You have both senators here for it, it can’t be part of this year because if we change it and go back we’re going to lose time. No one can tell you why it’s not in there, no one can tell you they are against it being in there, but it’s not in there. So you sometimes begin to wonder, I guess you start to understand, why people look at this process and just shake their head.

So unfortunately it looks like that’s been foreclosed and obviously this thing will move forward. Senator Nelson just made that motion, and it was objected to, so it won’t be part of this package. But I just hope we think about those men and women, these families that own these groves—how do you explain this to them? And what happens if they go away? What happens if we lose this critical industry? It won’t just hurt Florida. I think it hurts the country, and I think it sets a precedent for other crops that might be threatened likewise in the future.”

Scott, Nelson neck-and-neck

From the University of North Florida Public Opinion Research Lab:

A new poll of registered voters in Florida shows those that indicated they will vote in 2018, 37 percent say they plan to vote for Sen. Bill Nelson, the Democratic candidate in the upcoming election for U.S. Senate, while 36 percent plan to vote for Gov. Rick Scott, the Republican and 20 percent don’t know who their choice will be.

Registered Democrats in the sample intended to vote for Nelson at 66 percent, while 68 percent of registered Republicans plan to vote for Scott. Interestingly, nonparty affiliates and other partisans are leaning toward Nelson at 32 percent, compared to the 28 percent that plan to vote for Scott.

When asked about Scott’s job approval, 59 percent strongly or somewhat approve of his job as governor, with 82 percent of registered Republicans approving of Scott and 40 percent of registered Democrats approving. Nelson, however, has a 35 percent overall job approval rate and only 15 percent disapprove. Surprisingly, 49 percent don’t know how he’s handling his job as senator.

“Like most statewide races in Florida, the senate race between Nelson and Scott is going to be too close to call all the way until Election Day,” said Michael Binder, faculty director of the Public Opinion Research Lab at UNF. “The one major concern for Democrats has to be the public’s lack of awareness of Nelson. When a three-term sitting U.S. senator has almost half of the sample unable to assess his job approval, you have a problem.”

Radios headed to info-starved Puerto Rico, thanks to broadcasters

The National Association of Broadcasters is donating 10,000 battery-operated radios to Puerto Ricans impacted by Hurricane Maria.

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Tampa volunteers gathered 2 million pounds of supplies for Puerto Rico last week

The effort is being funded by NAB, the National Alliance of State Broadcasters Associations, and multiple U.S. broadcasters, according to press release issued by NAB.

The broadcasters are working with FEMA and local Puerto Rican authorities “to ensure that the radios are properly distributed to those most in need,” the release said.

Florida U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, and Congressman Darren Soto “were instrumental in coordinating this effort,” according to the release.

Here’s more from thepress release:

“Time and again, broadcast radio has served as a lifeline to communities desperate for information and support,” said NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith. “Our fellow Americans in the Caribbean now face a once-in-a-generation humanitarian crisis, and radio is one of the only communications resources available. We admire the resolve of our friends in Puerto Rico and are proud to undertake this effort with help from FEMA to keep citizens safe and informed.”

“We can’t thank NAB, NASBA and our radio brothers and sisters on the U.S. mainland enough for this initiative,” said Puerto Rico Broadcasters Association Executive Director Jose Ribas Dominicci. Raul Santiago Santos, Puerto Rico Broadcasters Association Board President, said, “This is going to be a very long recovery, and Puerto Ricans are information-starved for where to get help. Having local radio in the hands of our citizens will make a real and positive difference for our people.”

Florida Association of Broadcasters President and CEO Pat Roberts spearheaded this initiative on the ground and successfully secured transportation of the radios from Miami to Puerto Rico.

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, who is helping secure a staging ground in Miami for the radios prior to shipment to Puerto Rico, said the crisis “requires our ongoing support and commitment, which is why I’m thankful to the NAB for stepping up to provide critical communications infrastructure. I saw firsthand how the local leadership and residents are eager to restore normal order and the efforts by the NAB and a number of companies in the private sector is what’s making a big difference. I look forward to the continued efforts to aid the great people of Puerto Rico because right now, todos somos Puertorriqueños (‘We are all Puerto Ricans’).”

Dems ask Scott for relief centers to aid in expected Puerto Rican migration

As conditions continue to deteriorate in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria, Florida Democratic legislators are calling on Gov. Rick Scott to set up relief centers for Puerto Rican evacuees.

Friday’s ask comes as Scott, who traveled to the island yesterday, meets with President Donald Trump in Washington to give him an update of what’s going on in Puerto Rico and the Sunshine State, still recovering from Hurricane Irma.

The situation in Puerto Rico is growing dire, the Democrats wrote in a letter to Scott.

“Now more than a week removed from Maria’s landfall, nearly 3.4 million Puerto Ricans remain without power, the telecommunications grid for the island is in tatters, citizens are running low on cash due to the lack of functioning ATMs necessary to purchase supplies and are faced with an inability to process debit transactions, and large areas outside urban centers remain inaccessible as roads continue to be blocked by fallen debris or are washed away completely,” incoming Senate Minority Leader Jeff Clemens, House Minority Leader Janet Cruz, and a handful of House and Senate members wrote to Scott.

The disaster could result in “hundreds of thousands” of evacuees fleeing to Florida, home to more than 1 million Puerto Ricans already, the Democrats wrote.

“To prepare for this influx of hundreds of thousands new Floridians, we believe it is vital that the state respond proactively to ease their transition and reduce the mental and financial strain this process is sure to inflict on many families,” they wrote.

The “relief centers” could provide”one-stop access to local, state, and federal officials who could offer guidance on housing aid and availability and other services, the Democrats suggested.

The request for the relief centers comes a day after Florida U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio called for the “cavalry” — in the form of the U.S. military — to come to the rescue in Puerto Rico.