Bill Nelson

Nelson to Trump: Don’t outsource space!

iss054e022063Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat from Florida who likes to remind you he’s traveled into outer space, is criticizing a proposal by President Donald Trump to privatize the International Space Station after its current U.S. funding expires in 2024.

“The administration’s budget for NASA is a nonstarter,” Nelson said in a release. “If we’re ever going to get to Mars with humans on board and return them safely, then we need a larger funding increase for NASA. The proposal would also end support for the International Space Station in 2025 and make deep cuts to popular education and science programs. Turning off the lights and walking away from our sole outpost in space at a time when we’re pushing the frontiers of exploration makes no sense.”

Trump’s budget proposal for 2019 has NASA turning over operations of the station to commercial operators or the other nations partnering on the space platform after 2024. Nelson’s already griped about the president’s position on NASA.

The station costs about $3 billion a year to run.

The station is currently expected to be in use through 2028, the 30th year after its first component was launched into orbit.

President Barack Obama in 2008 extended the U.S. operational portion of the ISS until 2024.

— By Jim Turner.

Scott & Nelson: Is it a tie?

A pair of new polls show U.S. Sen Bill Nelson and Gov. Rick Scott either neck-and-neck or give the long-serving Democratic senator an edge over the Florida guv, who hasn’t officially entered the race yet.

A Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy survey showed Nelson and Scott virtually tied at 45-44 percent (a result that’s within the poll’s +/- 4 percent margin of error). The match-up hasn’t budged much since October, when likely voters were evenly split, 44 percent, between the pair.

But in a competing poll, the University of North Florida’s Public Opinion Research Lab shows Nelson with 48 percent, compared to 42 percent of respondents saying they plan to vote for Scott. Seven percent of the registered voters surveyed were undecided.

“Even though it appears Nelson has a reasonable lead in the poll, the election results will ultimately get determined by who shows up in November,”  Michael Binder, faculty director of the Public Opinion Research Lab at UNF, said in a release. “Historically, Republicans have enjoyed a turnout advantage in midterms, but with the current mood of the country, and a large number of Republican retirements, Democrats are optimistic about an impending blue wave.”

Read more on the UNF poll here.

NELSON: Trump “going to have a fight” over NASA proposal

iss054e022063U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, the top Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee, lashed out following a report that the Trump administration plans to cut off funding for the International Space Station by 2025.

“If the administration plans to abruptly pull us out of the International Space Station in 2025, they’re going to have a fight on their hands,” Nelson, a onetime astronaut from the state’s Space Coast region, said in a press release yesterday. The Commerce Committee oversees the space industry.

“Such a move would likely decimate Florida’s blossoming commercial space industry, which is one of the reasons why Congress has directed NASA to look at extending the ISS to 2028 and to provide a plan to help scientists and researchers continue experimenting in low-Earth orbit beyond that,” Nelson, who could be facing a match-up against Republican Gov. Rick Scott this year, added.

The Wall Street Journal was among a number of sources on Thursday reporting that the White House’s next NASA budget will feature public-private missions tied to a trip to the moon, while eliminating funding for the International Space Station around 2025.

We love the headline on the WSJ story: “Trump’s NASA Budget: More Moon, Less Space Station.”

By Jim Turner.

Hulk Hogan v. Scott: “Flat-out no” … for now

Clearwater resident Terry Bollea, better known as the retired professional wrestler Hulk Hogan, is already playing the politician.

Asked by celebrity media outlet TMZ if he will enter the U.S. Senate contest possibly take on Gov. Rick Scott, he gave the “no at this time” reply.

“Right now, this moment, it’s a flat-out no,” said Bollea, adding that he’d run as a Republican despite once supporting President Barack Obama, said. When prodded if he’d ever change his mind, Bollea added, “I’m saying no in this moment.”

The contest is being pushed by prominent Republican strategist Roger Stone.

Bollea said he “doesn’t want to run,” that he has a great life on the beach, but has been fielding calls about running for governor, U.S. senate and mayor.

Pointing to President Donald Trump’s success and former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, another retired wrestler, Bollea predicted he’d win any contest.

“In the state of Florida, I got a feeling it wouldn’t be that hard,” he said.

By Jim Turner

It will be better next year…we hope

That’s the tag line on Tallahassee media consultant Kevin Cate’s annual holiday video, which this year pummels a host of Florida politicos just in time for Santa to fill their stockings with coal.

Some highlights of the Cate Communication’s spoof exposes “the secret wish lists” of Fla pols:

The video opens with Santa relaxing by the fire whilst flipping through the local North Pole newspaper, which features this top-of-the-fold headline: “Negron: Creepy Senate Santa Resigning is Gift Enough,” accompanied by a photo of former Sen. Jack Latvala, who resigned this week amid an investigation into allegations that he promised legislative favors in exchange for sex.

As Santa opens the paper, a headline above Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, a Republican gubernatorial candidate who some say has taken a decided pivot to the right since his days as a U.S. representative, says, “Delete my Congressional Record.”

This jab at state Sen. Jeremy Ring, a Democrat running for CFO and a former Yahoo! exec: “Gore is to the Internet as I am to Yahoo. Does that make me CFO?”

A dig at Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis: “Need 8 Year Supply of Jheri Curl ASAP.”

And this cringe-worthy poke at U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, who’s made the rounds on national TV of late, promoting President Donald Trump’s agenda: “Matt Gaetz: “I Want Trump to Grab Me Right in My Policy.”

Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and others are also targets, and a headline notes media consultant and The Capitolist publisher “Brian Burgess helped with Some of These Jokes (Blame him).”

Cate is pledging $1 per view — up to $1,000 — to the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Big Bend.

— By Dara Kam and Jim Turner.

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.