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WATCH IT: Gillum concedes, again

Following a machine recount that failed to move him closer to becoming governor, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum conceded — for the second time — to Republican Ron DeSantis.

DeSantis’ 33,683-vote edge over Gillum was the closest general-election victory in a governor’s race in modern history in Florida.

In a Facebook video posted Saturday evening, Gillum, accompanied by his wife, R. Jai, thanked supporters and conceded, as he did on election night, the race to his opponent.

 

 

“We said that we would fight until the last vote is counted. Obviously, we are now closing out the hand recount phase in two of the statewide races,” Gillum said, adding that he wanted to make sure that “as long as it was a legally cast vote, we wanted those votes to be counted.”

Gillum’s  announcement came hours before a 12 p.m. deadline for a manual recount in the races for U.S. Senate and agriculture commissioner.

“Now that we are rounding that process out, R. Jai and I wanted to take a moment to congratulate Mr. DeSantis on becoming the next governor of the great state of Florida,” Gillum said.

The contest between Desantis, who had the backing of President Donald Trump, and Gillum, who was trying to make history as the Florida’s first black governor, was one of the most closely watched governor’s races in the nation. Gillum drew the support of progressive billionaires, including George Soros and Tom Steyer, and former President Barack Obama joined him on the campaign trail days before the Nov. 6 election.

Trump, who had repeatedly blasted Gillum on Twitter prior to the election and who called the Tallahassee mayor a “stone-cold thief,” showed the Democrat some presidential love, at least by Trump standards, following the release of the video.

 

“This election may be beyond us,” Gillum said, pausing and looking at his wife.

“Although nobody wanted to be governor more than me, this was not just about an election cycle,” Gillum, wearing an orange FAMU jacket, said. “This was about creating the kind of change in this state that really allows for the voices of everyday people to show up again in our government, in our state, in our communities.”

Despite losing the election, the 39-year-old Democrat made it clear his political career isn’t over.

“We know that this fight continues,” Gillum said.  “More than 4 million of you decided that you wanted a different direction for the state of Florida. We want you to know that we see you, that we hear you, and that your voices will continue to power us as we still stand on the front lines, right alongside you, to make this a state that works for all of us.”

 

Trump: Gillum’s a stone-cold thief. Gillum: Grow up.

After tweeting yesterday morning that Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum is a “thief,” President Donald Trump escalated the rhetoric during an interview with Laura Ingraham on Fox News last night.

The presidential vitriol comes as voters are already casting early ballots in advance of the election, just a week away, and as Trump prepares to storm the Sunshine State to rally support for Gillum’s opponent, Ron DeSantis, and Gov. Rick Scott, who’s trying to unseat incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.

According to Trump, Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, isn’t just a “thief,” he’s a “stone-cold thief.” Trump was referring to a ticket for the Broadway smash hit “Hamilton,” supplied by undercover agent “Mike Miller” two years ago.

“The FBI offered him tickets at $1,800 apiece and he took them. He took a trip with the same FBI agent. I guess he was posing as a developer or something. The man, stone-cold took this stuff. I don’t even think he should be allowed to continue on with the race,” Trump said.

Gillum is mayor of a city “known as one of the most corrupt in Florida and one of the most corrupt in the nation,” the president went on.

“He’s a disaster and how he’s even close to being tied is hard to believe,” Trump said of Gillum.

Recent polls have shown DeSantis trailing or tied with Gillum, who’s trying to make history as the state’s first black governor.

Trump also warned that “Florida will become Venezuela” if Gillum is elected.

“It will be a disaster,” the part-time Florida man predicted.

DeSantis, on the other hand, “is a Harvard, Yale guy” and “a very good person,” Trump went on.

“This other guy, is a stone-cold, in my opinion, he’s a thief,” Trump said of Gillum.  “How can you have a guy like this?”

Trump’s intervention on DeSantis’ behalf has only intensified the widespread focus on the spectacle known as the Florida governor’s race, and Gillum took to national media to pooh-pooh the president’s accusations.

Last night on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show, Gillum said Trump needs to “grow up.”

Trump targeted Gillum with his tweets as the nation was reeling from the worst anti-Semitic shooting in history. Eleven congregants at a Jewish temple in Pittsburgh were shot and killed on Saturday. The mass shooting came a day after authorities arrested a Florida man who mailed pipe bombs to at least a dozen of Trump’s Democratic critics — including the Clintons and the Obamas.

“Our president instead of rising to the occasion, every opportunity that he gets, to really show that he’s a leader, a leader that can cut through, cut across in the moments where the American people could really use leadership the most, he repeatedly fails us,” Gillum told Maddow.

Trump “spent his day today tweeting about me, tweeting at me, tweeting lies, rather than working to tamp down the kind of division and derision that he himself has helped to stoke,” he went on.

Maddow asked Gillum to elaborate on a tweet in which he called Trump “weak.”

“He performs as all weak people do, by bullying others. You’re talking about the most powerful position in the free world and the president of the United States takes time to badger me, to bully me on Twitter? I mean, it just doesn’t make any sense. The president needs to grow up. He needs to do his job. He needs to lead. This country could use leadership at this moment, and instead he’s throwing insults across Twitter,” he said.

 

 

Trump ‘trash talking’ Gillum as a ‘thief’

As Sunshine State voters line up to cast ballots at early voting sites or hunch over mail-in ballots at home, President Donald Trump flexed his multi-million-follower Twitter muscle today in Florida’s closely watched governor’s race.

Trump’s already thrown his support behind DeSantis, who quit Congress to focus on his bid to succeed outgoing Gov. Rick Scott.

Today’s presidential tweet — which went out to his 55.4 million followers and was retweeted to who-only-knows how many more — is the latest installment of the GOP’s “crime & corruption” meme targeting DeSantis’s opponent, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.

Gillum quickly fired back with a tweet of his own, repeating a mantra where he’s chided the president for failing to use the mayor’s @AndrewGillum handle (to make it easier for his  407,000 followers to be in the know about the presidential attacks).

DeSantis and his supporters, including Trump, are making hay of the drip-drip-drip of documents being released by Christopher Kise, a Republican lawyer who represents Tally lobbyist Adam Corey. Corey appears to be at the heart of a years-long corruption probe by the FBI into Tallahassee city government. The documents, released in batches by Kise, are in response to an ethics complaint lodged against Gillum. The records show that Gillum accepted a ticket from “Mike Miller,” a faux developer who turned out to be an undercover FBI agent, to the Broadway hit “Hamilton” two years ago.

Miller also dropped nearly $5,000 on a fundraiser for a committee linked to Gillum, prior to the mayor officially joining the governor’s race. The committee never reported the contribution.

Despite being branded a “thief” by the president, Gillum has repeatedly denied that he’s done anything wrong, and he maintains he’s not the subject of the FBI inquiry.

As for the Sunshine State capital’s rep as “one of the most corrupt cities in the Country,” we’re not sure what metric arrived at that conclusion.

But, in a state where the last governor’s races were determined by fewer than 100,000 votes, Trump’s social media reach might make a difference.

And if his virtual self doesn’t sway voters, perhaps his actual self will.

The part-time Florida man is stumping in two Florida GOP strongholds this week, to boost support for Scott — who’s trying to boot U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson out of his long-held seat — and DeSantis.

Trump’s coming to Fort Myers Wednesday, and he’ll be in Pensacola on Saturday.

But what does Nikki Fried think?

purple budFive former probation commissioners from New York City say marijuana testing for individuals on probation and parole has “little public purpose” and should be ixnayed, even in states where pot’s not legal, according to The Crime Report.

From the Crime Report story:

The five former commissioners—Martin F. Horn, Michael Jacobson, James Payne, Raul Russi and Vincent N. Schiraldi—said research showed that revocations of parole as a result of failed marijuana tests were a major driver of high incarceration rates and disproportionately affected African-American and Hispanic individuals.

“What we want is that people under supervision lead law-abiding lives and meet their obligations as citizens,” the ex-commissioners said in a written statement presented to the New York State Assembly’s Standing Committees on Codes, Health, Governmental Operations, and Alcoholism and Drug Abuse.

Of course, recreational pot remains illegal in Florida, but voters two years ago signed off on a constitutional amendment broadly legalizing medical marijuana.

Second Chance campaign dumps $5 million on major ad buy

The scene’s a modern version of a Norman Rockwell painting.

A young man with a close-cropped haircut lifts his too-cute-for-words daughter in the air.

“This is Brett. He was addicted to opioids, and has a non-violent felony conviction. Now, he’s clean, has completed the terms of his sentence, and is helping others,” a voiceover says, as Brett and Mallery cavort with their baby on a playground somewhere in Florida.

 

 

The ad is part of a nearly $5 million pushed out by the “Second Chances” campaign behind Amendment 4, the proposal on the November ballot that would automatically restore voting rights for about 1.4 million Floridians who’ve been convicted of felonies. The proposal excludes murderers and sex offenders.

Other stars in the three ads include a vet with a Purple Heart and a former prosecutor.

 

From the press release announcing the ad buy, which will run in Spanish and English on TV and radio, and star real people who’ve lost their right to vote:

“We are excited to share stories with people all across Florida as we approach the start of early voting in Florida,” stated Floridians for a Fair Democracy Campaign Manager Jackie Lee. “Floridians from all walks of life have been energized by this grassroots campaign, and with this ad buy we are bringing the message of second chances to voters across the state.”

Among the stories in the ads are those of Alan Rhyelle, a Vietnam veteran who received a Purple Heart but lost his eligibility to vote due to a marijuana conviction, and Gary Winston, former Assistant State’s Attorney for Miami-Dade County.

“I was a prosecutor for 34 years,” states Winston in the ad featuring him. “A prosecutor should acknowledge that sometimes people make mistakes. I believe that when a debt is paid, it’s paid.”

The $4.956 million ad buy includes over half a million dollars for Spanish-language TV, over $700,000 in radio stations serving minority communities.

 

Throwback Wednesday: Connie Mack IV, Rick Scott and Bill Nelson

Gov. Rick Scott’s campaign trope about the length of time his opponent, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, has spent in office, with ads featuring such things as broken-down Pintos to illustrate what was going on when Nelson was first elected to the Senate nearly two decades ago.

But Scott’s camp had its throwback moment of sorts this week, with the release of a spot that accuses Nelson of having “voted to cut $716 billion from Medicare.”

It’s an abbreviated version of a charge hurled by former U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV in his losing race against Nelson six years ago.

But it isn’t true, according to Politifact, which repeatedly debunked the accusation made by Mack and other Republicans following the passage of President Barack Obama’s signature piece of legislation, the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.”

Four times during a debate in 2012, Mack accused Nelson of voting to cut $700 billion from Medicare to pay for Obamacare.

Here’s an excerpt from Politifact’s ruling, back in the day:

Medicare spending increases under Obamacare, but over 10 years, it rises more slowly that it would without the law. The money comes from reducing payments to insurance companies and hospitals.

Part of the savings go to reduce prescription drug payments for Medicare recipients, as well as to provide free preventive care.

Overall, the lower spending extends the solvency of Medicare by eight years.

We rate the statement Mostly False.

“It’s absurd to be leveling a charge that was used by Connie Mack IV to attack Bill Nelson six years ago,” Nelson spokesman Dan McLaughlin said Wednesday evening, pointing out that the allegation about voting to take money from Medicare was “repeatedly debunked” by Politifact.

The ad, entitled “Responsibility,” punches Nelson for a recent anti-Scott spot, launched by Majority Forward, that hits on Scott’s role in the Medicare fraud involving Columbia/HCA. The hospital company was fined $1.7 billion for Medicaid fraud, after Scott stepped down as CEO of the chain. Here’s Politifact breaking down the Scott/HCA allegations.

 

And here’s the ad, released by Majority Forward Tuesday,  that prompted the rebuttal:

Father of slain Marjory Stoneman Douglas HS student: “Alex should be at camp”

AlexAlex Schachter loved music.

The trombone player was a member of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School marching band, and yesterday was his 15th birthday.

But Alex will always remain a 14-year-old.

The budding musician was one of 14 teenagers and three faculty members shot dead on Feb. 14 at the Parkland school.

Alex’s father, Max, a member of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Public Safety Commission, said that yesterday was a tough day for the Schachter family.

“Alex should be at camp,” Schachter said during a break at an MSD commission meeting Tuesday. “Instead, his sister read his poem to a tree dedicated in his honor and he’s in a box. In the ground. Next to his mother.”

Schachter said he’s fighting to improve school safety measures, protect students and hold people accountable for their actions surrounding the mass shooting.

Schachter posted a heartbreaking video on Twitter on Monday, saying “the sadness is unbearable.”

“Alex should be here to watch his brother go off to college,” he said. “He should be here to watch his sister Morgan, in her play. He should be here to be with his family and to be with his friends. He should not be buried next to his mother at 14-years-old.”

 — By Nathalie Sczublewski