Stephen Bittel

Fla Dems: We’re not in disarray

Florida Dems are using St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman’s “big win” Tuesday — as well as victories in Virginia, Washington and New Jersey — as proof that their party has got it together.

Florida Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Bittel sent out an email to supporters this morning piggybacking on the victories to raise money.

“These wins proved that Democrats aren’t in disarray, but working harder than ever to rebuild our party after 2016.

But, between now and Election Day 2018, we know a lot can happen. That is why now that Democrats have won big, we’re not resting in Florida — we’re working harder than ever before.

“We can’t do that though if we don’t raise $1O,OOO before the end of the day today. Can you click here and donate $5 now?”  Bittel wrote.

Kriseman, the incumbent, defeated former mayor Rick Baker in a hotly contested race that was technically non-partisan but in which major party players — like former VP Joe Biden — participated.

Dems are banking that the strategies used in Tuesday’s elections will provide a playbook going into next year’s elections, where Florida Democrats hope to flip legislative seats and win back the governor’s mansion, which has been in GOP hands for nearly two decades.

White nationalist speech at UF: Should I stay or should I go?

Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi and University of Florida President Kent Fuchs are urging students, faculty and others to shun firebrand white nationalist Richard Spencer, who’s speaking at the college tomorrow.

But Florida Democrats issued a press release this morning saying they support peaceful protestors and it’s incumbent on those who disagree with Spencer to speak out.

“The Florida Democratic Party reiterates its support for all peaceful protesters who are standing up and speaking out,” Florida Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Bittel said in the release. “We have a moral obligation to refute hate and bigotry whenever they present themselves. White supremacy is an evil we cannot ignore. When leaders like our governor fail to challenge the President for embracing white supremacists, it becomes all the more urgent that the rest of us speak out—clearly, unequivocally, and loudly. We must let it be known that we reject hatred in all its forms.”
Responding to a request by Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell, Scott on Monday declared a state of emergency for the county. The executive order allows for coordination between state and local law enforcement agencies. Darnell said her request wasn’t based on any heightened security risks, but was a preventative measure.

Speaking to reporters after a Cabinet meeting this morning, Bondi said she was praying “nothing happens” and urged students not to go to the event, while saying “there is no place for espousing these horrible, horrible views.”

Bondi said law enforcement will be well-prepared.

But, she added, “There is just no place right now for this, but you know with free speech, if he’s going to get up there and do it, then he’s going to do it. But we are going to make sure that our students and our citizens are protected.”

Spencer, the head of the National Policy Institute, was among the speakers at a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., that turned deadly when a car plowed into a group of counter-protestors. Heather Heyer was killed and dozens of others were injured.
Clashes between Spencer supporters, some of whom are white supremacists and others who back his white separatist ideology, and “Antifa,” or anti-fascist, groups have taken place on other campuses where Spencer has spoken.