- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 19, 2018

National figures from the Democratic Party’s resurgent left-wing are chipping in to help in Florida’s midterm elections, and now liberal Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has gotten into the act.

Ms. Warren, who is believed to harbor 2020 presidential aspirations, has sent an email blast on behalf of Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, the Democrat seeking to replace Republican Gov. Rick Scott this November.

“In this year’s critical midterm elections, there’s no state more important for us to focus on than Florida,” Ms. Warren wrote. “The governor’s mansion is up for grabs. A critical senate seat is on the line. And right-wing operatives and their shady dark-money backers are already on the attack.”

Mr. Scott, who is term-limited as governor, is seeking to unseat Mr. Nelson in a race that has remained extremely close. Mr. Scott, a wealthy former health care executive, has outspent Mr. Nelson thus far, although Mr. Nelson has $14.6 million cash in hand, according to the latest figures compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. His top contributors have been telecommunications corporations, law firms and airlines, records show.

After spending nearly $28 million, Mr. Scott currently has just more than $3 million cash, according to OpenSecrets. He has benefited from millions spent by various PACs who support his candidacy or conservative causes.

In a deep dive Tuesday, analyst Nate Silver dubbed Mr. Nelson the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent in this year’s senate midterms, despite the fact “Democrats have a fundraising advantage in every single senate race with a Democratic incumbent.”

Mr. Gillum, who upset Democratic Rep. Gwen Graham to take the party’s gubernatorial primary, has energized progressives who see the young African-American as a standard bearer for their cause. Backed by Sen. Bernard Sanders of Vermont, Mr. Gillum has attracted large donations from familiar left-wing financiers such as George Soros and Tom Steyer.

Republicans professed delight at the appearance in the races of Ms. Warren, a rich coastal liberal whose claim of Native American status has been widely mocked by conservatives throughout the country.

“Bill Nelson has been a loyal supporter of Elizabeth Warren’s agenda and now she’s doing all she can to keep her foot soldier in Washington,” said Camille Gallo, a spokesperson for the National Republican Senate Committee. “This only highlights the fact that Bill Nelson aligns more with Warren’s extreme liberal views than with Floridians.”

Running against Republican Ron DeSantis, who stepped down from Congress to focus on the race, Mr. Gillum has held a narrow lead in most polls, although prognosticators generally rate the election as a toss-up. On the presidential and gubernatorial level, the winners of Florida’s statewide elections in recent years have all been victorious by extremely close votes.

Whether Mr. Gillum’s progressive coattails are enough to help Mr. Nelson remains to be seen, but Mr. Nelson primary fundraising theme has been that he must retain his Sunshine State seat if Democrats have any chance of retaking a majority position in the senate.

“In the senate race, Bill Nelson is fighting for re-election against a far-right Republican politician intent on spending his way to the senate (with lots of special interest groups backing him),” Ms. Warren wrote. “Bill has always stood with Democrats to fight for working people, and we can’t afford to lose his voice. Nor can we afford to lose this seat — a Republican win here means we’d have almost no hope of taking back the senate majority.”

Mr. Nelson has tried to navigate a path recently between his positions and those even further left advocated by Mr. Gillum. Although he first labeled Mr. Gillum’s platform “mainstream,” Mr. Nelson has since hedged saying, for example, that he does not share Mr. Gillum’s desire to abolish the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and that he would like to raise the minimum wage to $12 rather than $15.

Nevertheless, Republicans said there was little daylight between the two politicians as Ms. Warren’s involvement shows.

“If you’re trying to appear moderate, it’s not a good idea to tell voters that Elizabeth Warren has your back,” RNC spokesperson Taryn Fenske said. “Unless, you’re not really a moderate.”

• James Varney can be reached at jvarney@washingtontimes.com.

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