2018 Senate race

Not-so-sexy beaches, a la Billy Corben

WARNING — It’s difficult to watch, but Miami filmmaker Billy Corben‘s tongue-in-cheek video playing off a somewhat less controversial Pitbull “Sexy Beaches” spot for Visit Florida is a must-see.

Corben’s clip stars the green slime that’s inundated Florida waterways and the dead fish, manatees and other creatures killed off by the effects of red tide creeping along both coastlines.

Visit Florida drew heat for a controversial contract inked with Armando Christian Perez, better known as Pitbull. The secrecy involving the $1 million contract with Pitbull cost the head of the public-private tourism agency his job late in 2016. Pitbull revealed the terms of the contract on Twitter, showing Visit Florida had paid him $1 million to pimp the state on social media, at concerts and on a “Sexy Beaches” video.

Florida Dems pimped Corben’s video, pointing the finger at Gov. Rick Scott (as does the film pastiche) for the toxic water situation that’s making people sick, closing Florida beaches and shuttering shore-front businesses. As widespread as they are, the red tide and toxic algae outbreaks could be problematic for Scott, a Republican trying to unseat incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in the race for the U.S. Senate.

For a flashback to what the state’s #SexyBeaches once looked like, check out Pitbull’s video.

Scott drops $3.2 million on TV this week in “dogfight” against Nelson

Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan told us this morning that incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson “is in for a dogfight” against Rick Scott, the Republican outgoing governor who’s trying to oust the veteran senator.

Judging by the amount of money Scott’s campaign dropped on TV ads this week alone, Morgan’s characterization of the race may be an understatement.

According to Scott’s camp, they dropped $3.2 million on TV spots this week alone — including on two Spanish-language ads as the governor relentlessly woos Hispanic voters.

That brings to $8 million the total Scott’s campaign has spent on television in a little more than a month since he announced his entry into the race.

The latest ad, “Cambiar,” focuses on Scott’s pledge to “change” Washington.

We did notice that the two Spanish-language ads feature some of the same stars, but no matter.

A second ad, “Presente,” tambien en español, highlights Scott’s efforts to aid Puerto Ricans in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

The third ad relies on an English-speaking cast of characters who blast Nelson for, well, being too much of a Democrat and “voting the party line.”

Which is a bit odd, since — until this year, when he supported a school-safety measure that included some gun restrictions — Scott had never been viewed as a politician who was known for bridging the partisan divide.

 

John Morgan: “If I was Bill Nelson, I’d be worried”

IMG_0124Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan held court with reporters moments before a hearing in a lawsuit he initiated kicked off Wednesday morning.

Morgan is a political rainmaker who largely bankrolled the constitutional amendment that broadly legalized medical marijuana in Florida and was overwhelmingly approved by voters nearly two years ago.

Morgan, who had toyed with the notion of running for governor, spoke about his decision to stay out of the governor’s race.

“I’ll tell you. To run for governor, you’ve got to be done making money. And I’m not done making money. Or you have to be a professional politician. And I’m not a professional politician,” he said.

Morgan said he spoke yesterday with Philip Levine, the former Miami Beach Miami who is a contender in the Democratic primary for governor.

“I told him he’s lucky I’m not in ‘cause I would win in a landslide,” Morgan said, adding that he didn’t know which Democrat would capture the nomination.

“All I know is I’ve never known any governor that’s ever done anything for any of us. Ever. So it’s not a job that I really think I’d be good at every day. I’m better at this,” he said, standing outside the courtroom.

Morgan also said he supported House Speaker Richard Corcoran’s decision to stay on the sidelines in the governor’s race.

Morgan said Corcoran visited him a few weeks ago.

“I said, look, here’s the deal. It’s all about money. And if you don’t got the money, you can’t run. I said at the end of the day, questions answer themselves. And I think the question was answered for Richard Corcoran when the money froze up,” Morgan said.

While Corcoran is a friend and someone he would have helped, Morgan said the Land O’ Lakes Republican made the right choice.

“I think he made the right decision because I think he would have gotten beat and I think he knew he was going to get beat. And if I’m going to get beat, I don’t like to go to my own ass-kicking,” Morgan said.

Morgan also had what appeared to be a dim view of incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson’s odds against challenger Rick Scott, who’s finishing his last year as governor.

“I think Sen Nelson is in for a dog fight. I think he’s got to get busy. You cannot underestimate this Rick Scott. He is a methodical, Eveready bunny, a bald-headed Eveready bunny who just never stops. He’s focused, and he’s got the money, and he’s got the message, and if I was Bill Nelson, I’d be worried,” he said.

 

Ho-hum. Chamber endorses Scott.

Surprise, surprise.

Days after the U.S. Chamber of Commerce rolled out a six-figure ad buy to attack Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, the Chamber — along with the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the political committee affiliated with the Jacksonville Chamber —  endorsed Republican Gov. Rick Scott in his bid to unseat the veteran Florida Democrat.

Scott’s campaign declared that “this is the first time in Florida history that local, state and national Chambers of Commerce have come together to announce a joint campaign endorsement.”

The announcement is the focus of Scott’s day, according to the schedule distributed by the governor’s office.

His office schedule simply lists “staff and call time (via phone)” at 10:35 a.m., while the campaign is holding events today in Jacksonville and Orlando for a “major announcement.”

By Jim Turner.

Scott and the U.S. Senate: If history’s the judge…

Need a hint about what Gov. Rick Scott may be up to on April 9?

After Scott tweeted Monday that a big announcement was coming April 9, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, a two-time statewide appointee of the governor, tweeted out a “#TriviaTime” comment.

Answer: April 9, 2010 is when Scott filed his initial paperwork to run for the governor’s office. The same day, Scott also dumped $2 million of his own money into the contest. Another $71.2 million of his family money for the campaign would follow.

Scott’s announcement Monday that Brad Piepenbrink was replacing longtime Scott aide Jackie Schutz Zeckman as the governor’s chief of staff sent Capitol insiders into a spin.

Zeckman’s departure unleashed the latest round of speculation (might she join his “Let’s Get to Work” political organization?) about whether Scott’s entrée into the race against incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is imminent in what, if it happens, would be one of Florida’s Worst-kept Political Secrets of All Time.

— By Jim Turner and Dara Kam.

Rick Scott to docs: Get involved. Somebody’s going to win the next election.

Addressing the Florida Medical Association last week, Gov. Rick Scott encouraged doctors to “get involved in the political process” because “somebody is actually going to win” the next election.

Scott, who’s leaving office next year due to term limits, noted that the legislative session that kicks off in January will be his last.

“I’ve got about 458, 459 days to go,” he told a group of doctors attending a day-long opioid summit in Tampa on Friday.

“I don’t say that because I don’t like the job. This is a great job. And there’s a lot of people trying to get it,” he joked, before giving the docs some advice.

“I would recommend that everybody get involved in the political process, because somebody is actually going to win. And it’s better that you’re involved in the process and you understand what they think and how they’re going to govern and you participate in it,” Scott told the physicians at the event hosted by the FMA.

The influential doctors’ group has a lot of clout in the Capitol, with a cadre of top-shelf lobbyists and a reputation for being able to kill legislation it views as unfriendly. The FMA’s PAC has contributed over $4 million to candidates and committees over the past six years, and that doesn’t include separate contributions made individually by doctors or their practices.

Scott, who’s mulling a run for the U.S. Senate next year, then went on to make a pitch for the job he’s done since he took office in 2011.

“If you like to try to have a positive impact on people’s lives, I don’t think there’s a better job than being governor of a state like Florida,” he said. We’ve been able to, because of people like you, we’ve added over 1.4 million jobs. We’ve paid off 25 percent of the state debt. I’ve cut 5,000 regulations. We have about 20,000 new jobs a month. We have about 350,000 people moving here a year. One hundred thousand of those people are moving from another country. We’re the best melting pot around. We’re at a 46-year low in our crime rate. So this state is absolutely on a roll. There is no place like Florida right now.”

Then he veered back to encouraging the docs to get involved.

“It’s really important that you guys are politically active because somebody will win the next election. If you’re not active, it might be somebody that you disagree (with), so I’d do everything you can to get the person that you believe in is going to do the right things for this state elected,” he said.

Scott on DACA: “I do not favor punishing children for the actions of their parents”

President Donald Trump is expected to reveal whether he will end DACA, the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals program launched by President Barack Obama, on Tuesday.

The program allows undocumented individuals who entered the country before their 16th birthday to remain in the U.S. for two years.

Trump campaigned on a hard-line anti-immigration stance, but it’s unclear whether he plans to scrap the program or amend it.

In a statement released Friday evening, Gov. Rick Scott said that Obama was “wrong to address the Dreamers issue by Executive Order.”

But, the governor added, “I do not favor punishing children for the actions of their parents.

Scott is considering a run for the U.S. Senate next year, in a state where Hispanic voters can make or break elections.

Here’s Scott’s full statement:

“President Obama was wrong to address the Dreamers issue by Executive Order. He should have done it in conjunction with Congress, which is how we make laws in our democracy. But this issue must be addressed. I do not favor punishing children for the actions of their parents.

These kids must be allowed to pursue the American Dream, and Congress must act on this immediately. I am encouraged by the approach Congressman Carlos Curbelo and Senator Thom Tillis are working on to address this problem.

I want to be very clear: I oppose illegal immigration, and everything else that is illegal. We must secure our borders and the federal government is irresponsible in not doing so. Every single bit of immigration policy becomes much simpler once we secure our borders and put an end to illegal immigration. We must also not allow so-called sanctuary cities to defy our nation’s laws and we must vigorously vet every potential immigrant. Failing to do that is irresponsible.”