- Associated Press - Saturday, June 23, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Florida’s 2018 midterm election is one of the most important in years. The governor’s office and all three Cabinet seats are open, Republican Gov. Rick Scott is challenging three-term Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, several congressional seats will be competitive, and Floridians will vote on 13 proposed constitutional amendments, ranging from property tax cuts to banning greyhound racing. The following are items of political interest from the past week:


Republican Gov. Rick Scott has relentlessly blasted Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson on the airwaves, launching ad after ad criticizing the three-term senator as a career politician. One ad compared Nelson to a Ford Pinto, a now defunct car that was popular in the 1970s.

The latest attack? Nelson’s too negative.

An announcer says, “Nelson has learned some tricks. Some cheap tricks, like attacking your opponent regardless of the facts.”

Um. Hmm.

That comes from the campaign team that repeatedly says Nelson has been in Washington “half a century.” Sure, Nelson has spent a lot of time in D.C., but 50 years? The total is 30: 12 in the U.S. House and now 18 in the Senate.



President Donald Trump’s executive order ending future separations of migrant children from their parents isn’t stopping the major Democratic candidates for governor from participating in a march in Homestead, where an estimated 1,000 children who entered the country illegally are being housed. Most are unaccompanied minors, but some were separated from their parents at border crossings.

Former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, Orlando-area businessman Chris King, and billionaire Jeff Greene all plan to participate in what’s called the March to Keep Families Together.

“We stand against hate and we stand against divisiveness, and we stand against babies, kids, children being used as political pawns,” Gillum said at a press conference.



One of Greene’s first television ads features video of a confrontation with then President-elect Donald Trump. It doesn’t, however, include audio of the verbal exchange between the Palm Beach billionaires. Asked whether the audio will be made available, Greene said it doesn’t exist.

He said his wife took the video with her cellphone and was a few tables away from the confrontation.

But Greene did describe the event.

“He just called out to me and started attacking me. He wasn’t talking to me. I don’t know if you know how the president sometimes works, but Donald Trump points at you and says, ‘Jeff Greene,’” Greene said. “He was clearly unhinged and very upset at the fact that I had come out very big for Hillary (Clinton).”

Greene said he’s seen Trump around town, and he still has a Mar-a-Lago membership, but made it clear the two are not friends.

“I’ve never had lunch or dinner with him,” Green said. “He’s never been to my home, I’ve never broken bread with him or anyone in his family.”



This coming week Florida Republicans are going to gather in Orlando for the Republican Party of Florida Sunshine Summit.

One of the highlights of the two-day event will be a televised GOP debate between Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis. The two men are vying for the Republican nomination for governor.

But it appears highly unlikely that Scott will attend.

His campaign says a final decision hasn’t been made, but it’s no secret that Scott does not enjoy a close relationship with party leaders. Scott distanced himself ever since the party picked Rep. Blaise Ingoglia as party chairman instead of the candidate backed by the governor.

Another factor, however, could be the decision by the party to have conservative filmmaker and author Dinesh D’Souza as one of the speakers at the summit. In February, D’Souza apologized for mocking Parkland, Florida, high school students who were upset after the Florida House voted down a proposed ban on a type of semiautomatic rifles known as assault weapons.



“The first thing I should do is make a mandate - executive order: Everyone needs to wear jeans in Tallahassee from Monday through Thursday. Then on Friday they can dress down and wear sweat pants,” Levine said after a reporter commented on his attire, which was jeans, sneakers and a sport coat.

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