Florida’s 2018 midterm election is one of the most important in years. The governor’s office and all three Cabinet seats are on the ballot; 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:
MILLIONS VS. MORE MILLIONS
Remember that scene in “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery” when Dr. Evil puts his pinky to his lip and tells his minions he’s going to hold the world hostage for $1 million?
They weren’t impressed, and had to politely explain the value of money had changed in the three decades he’d been cryogenically frozen.
Well, on Friday Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson announced he’d raised nearly $4.4 million in contributions in the quarter that ended June 30.
Now that would be an impressive haul in his 2000, 2006 and 2012 campaigns against less formidable opponents, but this year he’s facing Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who has proved to be a strong fundraiser even when he isn’t putting tens of millions of dollars of his own money into a campaign.
His announcement came four days after Scott announced he’d raised more than $10.7 million over the same period. And Scott’s campaign said that didn’t include any money the candidate kicked in.
Former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine isn’t lacking for new ideas on ads in his quest to be the Democratic nominee for governor: he’s run out 18 different television commercials ahead of the Aug. 28 primary.
The latest is, well, a bit out of the ordinary, to be polite.
It begins with Levine’s mother saying, “Really, Carole, a headband?”
It then shows Carole in a headband and turquoise bowling shirt holding a fluorescent green ball. She says, “Bowling is my game, girls.”
The women join two other friends, all adorned in matching shirts with a stitched, cursive “L’’ (like Laverne DeFazio wore in the 1970’s sitcom “Laverne & Shirley”), and they talk about all the “cool stuff” Levine would do if he’s elected governor. The last frame shows a ball rolling down the lane for a strike.
Not to be outdone by Levine in creativity, billionaire Democratic candidate for governor Jeff Greene sent out a mail piece showing a photo of President Donald Trump slumped eyes closed in a chair with a partially eaten Big Mac on his knee. Cartoonish dream clouds rise above him. The last is a scratch-off game.
“What is Trump’s worst nightmare?” the flyer asks. “Scratch here to find out!”
Once scratched, it reveals “Jeff Greene for Florida.” The flip side shows a photo of Greene looking at Trump’s Palm Beach Mar-a-Lago resort and the words, “If Trump wants to vacation here at Mar-a-Lago, he can pay for that himself.”
That theme is repeated in a television ad Greene released last week pledging not to spend state money to pay for traffic control and other costs when the president visits his Florida vacation home.
HEALTH CARE, EDUCATION … AND CRAFT BEER?
Former Democratic U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham’s latest ad for governor attacks Republicans and their 20 years ruling Tallahassee.
“They have not taken Medicaid expansion, they have hurt education,” she says. “It’s going to take bringing it back to ‘How do I serve the people?’ ”
Perhaps with a cold one?
After an announcer says, “Put health care, schools and people first again,” the next shot shows Graham embracing a woman while standing in a Miami craft brewery, with stacks of kegs and casks behind her.
RUBIO VS. AIRBOATS
In the battle for the Republican nomination for agriculture commissioner, state Rep. Matt Caldwell opened the week with an endorsement from U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.
But state Sen. Denise Grimsley ended the week with some pretty cool bragging rights of her own.
On Saturday she received the Florida Airboat Association’s “Legislator Airboat Enthusiast Award.”
Brendan Farrington reports for the Associated Press.