Rick Scott

Tear down that monument! (Part II)

6264593750_0e2623f32d_oWe’re not suggesting it’s even a possibility.

But Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is calling on Florida state lawmakers hold a special session to finalize plans to rid the state of its connection with a Civil War general who holds a place of honor at the National Statuary Hall in the nation’s capital.

The Legislature voted in 2016 to replace Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith, a figure who critics say has a tenuous connection to the state, during a nationwide backlash against Confederate symbols in the wake of the 2015 shooting deaths of nine African-American worshippers at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C.

But state legislators have since failed to agree on a replacement for Smith, leaving the general — and his successor — in limbo.

Following this weekend’s deadly clash in Charlottesville, sparked by the removal of a Confederate monument, Wasserman Schultz asked Florida lawmakers to hold a special session to address the issue.

“It’s time to stop playing games. No family visiting our nation’s Capitol should have to explain to their child that the statue representing our state honors someone who fought for a philosophy built on hatred and oppression. Governor Scott and the Florida legislature must take immediate action by calling a one-day special session during their upcoming interim committee meetings to pass a bill with one of the three recommendations from the committee established by law: Marjorie Stoneman Douglas, Mary McLeod Bethune or George Washington Jenkins. These three Floridians represent the best of the history of our state. The removal of the Confederate statue must be made an urgent priority,” Wasserman Schultz, a former head of the Democratic National Committee, said in a press release issued Tuesday.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Chris King wants all confederate monuments in the Sunshine State removed. More about that here.


National Republicans target Nelson, en español

The National Republican Senatorial Committee doesn’t have a high-profile GOP candidate in the race — yet — but it’s  got a bullseye on incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson.

The national Republicans unleashed a Spanish-language radio ad in Miami, accusing  Nelson of having “aligned himself with communists and dictators.”

The ad equates Nelson’s support of President Barack Obama’s detente with Cuba to encouraging others like Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, and notes that Nelson “even visited Hugo Chavez” in the now- embattled country.

It’s the kicker that really hurts: “If Bill Nelson supports murderers, I can’t support Bill Nelson.”

There’s been a lot of speculation that Gov. Rick Scott is preparing to run against Nelson next year, but Scott — who’s assembled a campaign team headed by Melissa Sellers Stone — hasn’t said yet what his plans are.

Here’s the translation of the radio ad:

Let’s see what’s happening in the world today
Look at this. Another horror in Venezuela.
Our government in Washington has to stop Maduro and his accomplices.
What has our Senator Bill Nelson done?
In the past, he has aligned himself with communists and dictators.
Look at him with Cuba. He supported Obama when he negotiated with the other terrorists, the Castro brothers.
When Nelson supports the Castros, that only reinforces and encourages others, like it did with Chavez and now with Maduro.
In 2005, Bill Nelson even visited Hugo Chavez in Venezuela.
Here it says Nelson went to Venezuela to admire Chavez’s revolution.
If Bill Nelson supports murderers, I can’t support Bill Nelson.

Scott continues stealth jobs mission

Nobody’s biting yet, but Gov. Rick Scott remains in Tennessee’s capital city for a second day of business recruitment.

The governor’s schedule showed Scott meeting early Thursday with building materials manufacturer Louisiana-Pacific Corp., better known as LP, in Nashville, followed by a meeting simply listed as “business development meeting.”

The trip, which kicked off without any pre-announced hoopla as had been his style when venturing the past couple of years into states with Democratic governors — including Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New York and California — featured meetings Wednesday with officials from Tractor Supply Co. in Brentwood, Tenn., along with Nashville-based electronics company Griffin Technology and tire company Bridgestone Americas.

By Jim Turner.


Nelson sweeps through Panhandle


U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson with supporters in Tallahassee Tuesday.

Congress has gone on its August recess, giving U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson the opportunity to spend two days working on something he’s specialized in throughout his lengthy career: retail politics.

Starting early Monday morning in Pensacola, the three-term Democratic senator hit more than a half-dozen spots in the Florida Panhandle before flying back to Orlando on Tuesday evening from Tallahassee.

After leaving Pensacola, Nelson made two stops in Walton County and two in Bay County,  and visited Bonifay and Chipley before winding up in Tallahassee.

He can tell you about dredging plans at the Port of Panama City as well as roads and a sewage plant “in desperate need” of repair in Esto, a town of fewer than 400 in Washington County.

But that’s classic Nelson, the Democrats’ only statewide office holder, who has never shied away from the rural conservative regions of the state even though voters there have become increasingly stalwart Republicans.

He’s comfortable in the Panhandle, a region where his great-great grandfather got off a boat in Port St. Joe and made his way to Orange Hill, a tiny farming community in Washington County.

He explained his campaigning style during his successful 2012 re-election campaign against former U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fort Myers.

“People wonder why I do well in North Florida — where a lot of national Democrats don’t necessarily do well — because I work it like a dog,” Nelson said at the time. “I go into those little rural communities and hold those town hall meetings so that I can hear from them.”

The efforts don’t mean Nelson will carry many counties west of Tallahassee in his 2018 re-election bid. But based on his prior results, he can keep the vote close in places like Gulf and Washington counties and perhaps reduce the margin in counties like Bay.

Nelson is expected to face Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s formidable money and messaging machine next year, with some suggesting this will be Nelson’s greatest challenge.

Asked to give odds on next year’s race, Nelson demurred — sort of.

“I’m not one to go around and crow and huff and puff and beat my chest, but I know how to campaign. I’ll leave it at that,” he said.

By Lloyd Dunkelberger.

Florida Dems launch TV ad in St. Pete mayor’s race

The Florida Democratic Party is running a TV ad aimed at keeping St. Petersburg blue.

The mayoral race is a rock ’em, sock ’em battle not only between incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, a Democrat, and Republican Rick Baker, a former mayor who left office in 2010.

The November election is also viewed as a contest between state Dems and Republicans, and could foreshadow Democrats’ ability to score in legislative and statewide races next year.

The ad puts Baker on the “Extreme Team” alongside President Donald Trump, Gov. Rick Scott and Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee backed by Baker. (Note the ominous clouds in the background while the Reds are on the field).

“Baker is weak, out of touch with our values,” a voice over proclaims.

In contrast, the ad links Kriseman, a former state representative who took over as mayor three years ago, with former President Barack Obama, former VP Joe Biden and hometown Congressman Charlie Crist.


Putnam draws fire for ‘pandering’ to the right over guns & ‘fake news’

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam continued a pivot to the right over the weekend, channeling what appeared to be the GOP gubernatorial candidate’s inner Trump even as Putnam drew fire from fellow Republicans for what one called “pandering to the NRA.”

Putnam tweeted a link Saturday to an online petition, launched by his campaign, condemning CNN for “fake news.”

“Aren’t you tired of the liberals taking fake news to new extremes? I am. Sign the petition to stop CNN,” Putnam tweeted on Saturday.

There’s no evidence that the news network has aired anything specifically about Putnam or the Florida Republican governor’s primary that could have raised Putnam’s ire.

Instead, the slam on CNN appears to be an attempt by Putnam to endear himself with Republican base voters and supporters of President Donald Trump, who collectively have been harsh and frequent critics of the news network.

It’s also a sign that Putnam, who has the highest name recognition in the gubernatorial field and has some $11 million in unspent campaign cash, is attempting to boost his conservative creds in anticipation of potential attacks next year from other GOP candidates who are almost certain to question Putnam’s record in Congress and as a two-term Cabinet member.

U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis and House Speaker Richard Corcoran, two prominent conservative Republicans, are raising money and have expressed an interest in joining the race to replace Gov. Rick Scott, who is leaving office because of term limits.

Moderate Republicans — including Sen. Jack Latvala, who’s mulling a run for governor — piled onto Putnam over the weekend.

The criticism came in reaction to a tweet from Putnam last week, who was responding to a column by Daniel Ruth of The Tampa Bay Times.

“The liberal media recently called me a sellout to the NRA. I’m a proud #NRASellout!” —Putnam (@adamputnam), tweeted.

Latvala, the powerful Senate budget chief who’s expected to make an announcement on Aug. 16 regarding a bid for governor, on Sunday took a Twitter shot at Putnam.

“I will never sell out to anyone, anytime,” Latvala tweeted, who posted a link to a Pensacola News Journal editorial critical of Putnam.

“This may be perfectly predictable behavior from a Republican vying to become Florida’s next governor. But it’s hardly a declaration of leadership or individualism,” the editorial stated.

Former Rep. Ray Pilon, a Sarasota Republican, joined in the Twitter chorus Monday morning.

“@adamputnam can’t tell you how shocked and disappointed I am in your pandering to the NRA and I am a lifetime member,” Pilon (@PilonForFlorida) tweeted.

Posted by Lloyd Dunkelberger and Jim Turner.

Flashlight guy to Scott: Thanks, but …

IMG_1827Anthony Maglica, the creator of Maglite, may not have been swayed by Gov. Rick Scott’s pitch to uproot the Ontario, Calif.-based flashlight company.

Scott — who’s repeatedly attempted to poach jobs in states, including California, led by Democratic governors — recently reached out to Maglica, in tandem with a week-long “Made in America” White House effort launched by the “jobs, jobs jobs” governor’s pal, President Donald Trump.

While Maglica’s products are manufactured in California, state law bars him from using the “Made in USA” stamp because some of the components are made elsewhere.

In a letter to Scott sent Thursday, Maglica wrote that he’d like to discuss “business-climate issues” with the governor.

But, rather than accept Scott’s offer, the inventor — who launched his flashlight biz more than six decades ago — tried to enlist support for what he said would be an even more meaningful endeavor: an attempt to kill the California law.

Maglica asked Scott to help sway Congress to pass a measure — S. 118, dubbed the “Reinforcing American-made Products Act of 2017” — which would preempt the Golden State’s rules on the “Made in America” labeling.

“One shouldn’t have to be a Californian to support S. 118,” Maglica wrote. “California’s maverick statute is just as much of a problem for manufacturers from Florida, or any other state.”

In his letter to Scott, Maglica noted that the governor’s pitch “wasn’t the first suggestion” that he relocate to another state.

Maglica penned an op-ed piece published in The Wall Street Journal last month, in which the inventor complained about his fight against California’s “freakish” labeling statute.

While the Maglite flashlights are assembled at its Ontario factory east of Los Angeles, some of the components, most notably the LED lights, are imported.

California law prohibits manufacturers from using the “Made in U.S.A,” “Made in America,” or similar labels on products “if the merchandise or any article, unit, or part thereof, has been entirely or substantially made, manufactured, or produced outside of the United States.”

Scott wrote to Maglica on July 17, urging him to move Mag Instrument Inc. to the Sunshine State so the products could be labeled as “Made in the USA.”

In his response to Scott, Maglica invited the governor, rumored to be considering a bid for U.S. Senate next year, to come west.

“I would like to take the opportunity to invite you to visit Maglite’s world class manufacturing facility in Ontario, California,” Maglica wrote. “I would be delighted for a chance to speak to you further about this important law-reform matter, or about business-climate issues in general.”

Posted by Jim Turner.