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The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Scott calls on feds to monitor healthcare workers returning from West Africa

Gov. Rick Scott is once again calling on the federal government to step up its Ebola-prevention efforts. 

Scott made his latest remarks Friday, after Dr. Craig Spencer tested positive for the virus in New York.

"The news of Dr. Spencer testing positive for Ebola after returning to the U.S. last week from treating Ebola patients makes it clear that the CDC and federal government must do more to protect health care workers around the world and our citizens here at home," he said in a statement.

The Republican governor pointed out that the U.S. Department of Defense requires daily medical checkups for military personnel returning from Ebola-infected areas. Scott asked that the same 21-day period of care and quarantine be extended to volunteers. 

"Ensuring that all workers abroad are required to take the same safeguards and precautions as our U.S. military personnel will not only provide an equal level of care for these selfless health care workers, it will also better protect all our citizens here in Florida and across the country from any threat of this deadly disease," he said.

No word yet on if the federal government will comply. …

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GOP leads in early votes, Dems slowly closing margin

About 1.5 million pre-Election Day ballots had been cast as of Friday morning and the Republican advantage over Democrats is slowly eroding in terms of a percentage advantage.

Yesterday morning, Democrats were down 10.8 percentage points compared to Republican ballots cast. Now, Democrats are down 9.8 percentage points.

That's the first time since votes have been posted Oct. 6 that the Republican advantage has been cut to below 10 points. On Oct. 6, when overseas ballots (mainly military) were coming in, the GOP advantage was 20.5 percentage points.

Now that tomorrow marks the first weekend of early voting (and perhaps the first weekend without rain in Democrat-heavy South Florida) there's a good chance Democrats will -- or should -- close the gap more.

But elections aren't decided on percentage-point gains. They're decided by the number of ballots cast. Votes won't be tallied until Election Day. But the totals by party in ballots cast before then gives us an idea about the strength of each side.

And the GOP is still winning outright: 144,109 more ballots cast than Democrats by absentee and in-person early vote. …

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Mayhem at Rick Scott rally

We're getting to that point toward the end of a neck and neck, heated campaign where nothing much of significance happens but every day seems to bring greater annoyances. Rick and Ann Scott appeared at an early vote rally on the outskirts of Tampa, an area known as New Tampa, and were greeted by several dozen protesters, including a giant, not entirely unflattering paper mache version of the governor. They held signs that variously requested Scott return more than a $1-million in campaign donations from Duke Energy, that he embrace solar energy more, and that he maybe should reside in prison.


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Memo from Team Rick Scott: Blah, blah...We're winning...blah, blah...Crist isn't

FROM:             Tim Saler, Deputy Campaign Manager
TO:                   Campaign Supporters
DATE:              October 24, 2014
SUBJECT:       Early Voting Review – Day Four


The first four days of early voting are in the books, and while many Republican-leaning counties won’t begin voting in person until tomorrow, I wanted to give you a brief update on where we have been and where we are today.

In previous updates, we’ve talked about our performance, usually compared to the 2012 campaign that set the table and the dynamics for our race. The Crist campaign has smartly tried to explain to their donors that it’s okay they’re losing and not to panic, with various reasons for that being the case. …

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By the numbers: Florida's pool of voters approaches 12 million

Florida's ever-expanding pool of eligible voters for the election is now close to 12 million people: 11,931,533, to be exact. That's the number as of the Oct. 6 book closing.

A few other statistics from the Florida voter file:

* Democrats outnumber Republicans statewide by 455,946, and voters of no party affiliation continue to grow at a much faster rate than either of the two major parties. NPA voters number nearly 2.8 million and represent 23.2 percent of all voters.

* Miami-Dade, the state's largest county, has the most Republicans and Democrats and has 1.3 million voters. Dade also has the highest percentage of NPA voters of all large ecounties, 27.9 percent. Orange is a close second at 27.2 percent. 

* Statewide, African-American voters total 13.5 percent of the total, up one-half of a percentage point from 2010. Broward has more black voters than any other county (243,132). Hispanics make up 14.6 percent of the Florida electorate, up from 12.7 percent in 2010. Combined, there are 461,211 more black and Hispanic voters today than there were in the 2010 general election. …

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Marco Rubio becomes Rick Scott's latest Spanish-language TV ad spokesman

First there was Jeb Bush. Then Luis Fortuño and Maurice Ferre. Now Marco Rubio takes the mic for Gov. Rick Scott in his latest Spanish-language spot.

The translation:

I was the Speaker of the House of Representatives during the first two years of Charlie Crist as governor… it was a disaster, property values falling, people losing their jobs, very high unemployment rates. We can’t let this state to go back to where it was just five, six years ago, when he was governor, and we did not have any serious solutions. The only way for Barack Obama and Charlie Crist to be able to win is for you not to vote. I vote in this county and in a few minutes I will go to vote for Rick Scott and I urge you all to do the same.


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NextGen Climate hits Rick Scott w 2 new Duke ads

NextGen Climate is out with two new ads in Tampa Bay critizing Rick Scott as too cozy with Duke Energy and for the first time, the political action affirmatively mentions Charlie Crist, contrasting his record with Scott's.


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30 minutes, four TV markets, one Fla gov race

It's no secret that Florida is essentially several different states in one. How one area of Florida views the world - and votes--  is often quite different than how another does. The Times/Herald tried a little experiment today, monitoring the political commercials that aired in three distinct TV markets/political territories during the 6 p.m. local news.

A few obvious conclusions:
***Competitive campaigns are a glorious gift to TV station owners. And even if your region is not so politically divided to be a top target from both Democrats and Republicans, a competitive congressional race -- like Steve Southerland vs Gwen Graham in the Tallahassee and Panama City markets -- can be gold for the bottom line.

***In Tampa Bay, the words "Duke Energy" are political poison (And, it seems, the Florida GOP has decided Republican State House candidate Bill Young may not be competitive enough to merit a big TV campaign). …

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Crist, Scott court female voters

From the sound of things, Florida's gubernatorial candidates consider female voters key to the Nov. 4 election.

Democratic candidate for governor Charlie Crist stressed his record on women's rights Thursday while campaigning in Broward County.

Sen. Anitere Flores issued the response from Republican Gov. Rick Scott's campaign.

"Charlie Crist is waging a serious and offensive war on women," said Flores, a Miami Republican. "First he takes $90,000 in campaign cash from strip club bosses who ran prostitution and drug rings, then he said 'it's worth it' to lose another 500,000 jobs. There's no telling how many of those jobs will belong to Florida women. Last time Charlie was governor, 244,000 women lost their jobs."

Both campaigns (as well as the Republican and Democratic parties and various third-party groups) are making a serious effort to engage women before Election Day. Earlier in the week, union leaders and pro-immigrant groups rallied female voters during a left-leaning telephone townhall meeting. 

A Quinnipiac University poll released this week showed Crist leading Scott among female voters, 45-39.

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Big Dog Clinton coming to campaign with Charlie Crist

Barack Obama won't make it to Sunshine State before the election, it appears, but former President Bill Clinton is expected to headline an early vote rally in Tampa on 5 pm Sunday. It will be at Cyrus Greene Park.

Clinton will be campaigning with Congressional candidate Gwen Graham earlier in the day in north Florida.

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Election supervisors are reminded to 'expect the unexpected'

Gov. Rick Scott's chief elections official gave a pep talk to county election supervisors Thursday in which he reminded them to "expect the unexpected" in the upcoming election. Secretary of State Ken Detzner and his staff even spoke the word no one wanted to hear, the dreaded R-word: Recount.

Recent polls show a dead even race between Gov. Rick Scott and Charlie Crist. Could it actually be that close? Yes.

On paper, the mathematical possibility of a recount seems extremely remote: The candidates would have to be separated by half of one percentage point or less. That's 27,500 votes, if 5.5 million votes are cast. Scott defeated Democrat Alex Sink in 2010 by 61,550 votes, but that margin was greater than 1 percent, and not nearly small enough to trigger a recount.

But in the state where control of the White House was decided by 537 votes in 2000, election supervisors know anything can happen. On a monthly conference call Thursday with dozens of election supervisors, Sarasota's Kathy Dent said: "The most important thing is to expect the unexpected. There's always something that pops up that none of us expected." …

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Latest GOP ad against Crist: He was helpless

Here's the latest TV spot from the Florida GOP


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Scott won't show for depo in lawsuit but is scheduled to show for Biltmore fundraiser

Gov. Rick Scott is planning to be a no-show Friday for a video-taped deposition in a lawsuit he filed in California to block the release of information about Google email accounts used by him and his executive staff. 

Attorney Steven R. Andrews was prepared to put the governor under oath in Tallahassee but Scott’s communications director, Frank Collins, said Thursday “there is not going to be a deposition tomorrow.” Scott's lawyers asked the judge to quash the deposition but, as of late Thursday, they hadn't received an answer. 

Scott is instead expected to attend a $250 per person fundraiser at the Biltmore in Coral Gables, featuring former Gov. Jeb Bush, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and Lieutenant Gov. Carlos Lopez Cantera.  Rick Scott's Oct. 24 fundraiser

However, if the governor is a no-show for a deposition in a case he initiated, it may not be without consequences.

According to California's rules of civil procedure, the governor must submit to the deposition Friday unless he has received the court's permission to change the date, said Walter Clark, a trial lawyer who practices in Southern California.

If Scott fails to submit to the deposition, the judge could hold him in contempt and make him pay damages, according to California law. 

"You can’t just not show up at a deposition and say we’ll talk about it later,'' Clark said. "You have to ask a court for relief."

The governor filed the lawsuit in September in a Santa Clara County court in an attempt to prevent Google from releasing information on who and when the private G-mail accounts used by Scott and two staff aides were created. 

Andrews alleges that Scott set up the account to circumvent the state’s public records law. When the governor refused to turn over the information, Andrews got a Tallahassee court to approve a subpoena to seek the information from Google. Circuit Court Judge Charles A. Francis also ordered the governor to stop fighting the request.

Scott then hired private Tallahassee attorney Pete Dunbar and a California law firm to challenge the subpoena. Scott then hired private Tallahassee attorney Pete Dunbar and a California law firm to challenge the subpoena. After the state spent nearly $100,000 on a Jacksonville attorney to fight the release of records, Scott's staff said last week the governor will no longer use taxpayer funds as he pursues the California lawsuit.

The subpoena asks Google to turn over documents that show when the G-mail accounts were created, who created them, and which computers, such as state computers, were used. Andrews has also scheduled depositions for next week for two of Scott's former aides, Brad Peipenbink and Sarah Hansford, to counter the lawsuit against the subpoena. 

Scott campaign spokesman Greg Blair said the deposition was never on the governor's calendar because "a deposition is not scheduled just because Steven Andrews taps his heels and tries to make it so. All sides have to agree to a date before saying it is 'scheduled.'"Full Story

Maybe that seemingly irrelevent Libertarian will swing Fla gov race after all

Given how little the vast majority of Florida voters think of Charlie Crist and Rick Scott after all their negative TV ads, it's pretty astounding that Libertarian candidate Adrian Wyllie failed generate sufficient support in credible polls to be included in any debates.

 This seems like an ideal climate for a none-of-the-above candidate even if, like Wyllie, that candidate raises little money and offers up pixie dust policy proposals too vague for even the most cynical and shameless major party establishment candidate (Wyllie intends to cut 30 percent out of the state budget by---you guessed it --- trimming unidentified waste and inefficiency).

But Republican consultant Adam Goodman points me to the David Jolly/Alex Sink special election earlier this year in a bellwether Pinellas County congressional district. Goodman, a Jolly adviser, said their internal polling consistently showed  Libertarian Lucas Overby winning 8 to 10 percent, though Overby ultimately won less than 5 percent. …

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Steve Schale: No, it only seems like Charlie Crist is losing

From Charlie Crist adviser Steve Schale, making the case, again, that everyone should ignore that more Republicans have voted so far than Democrats, and focus on how Democrats are doing better with their early and mail-in votes than they were in 2010 when Scott sqeaked to victory:

With three days in the early voting books, lets take a quick look at where we are today in the Florida Governor's race.

I apologize for not writing these daily like the Scott campaign. I continue to be amazed that they have enough time to write daily memos. I barely have time to steal a candy bar from the secret stash of some field organizer in the office.

First, thank goodness the debates are over, and for me the winner was clear: The Omni in Jacksonville was definitely nicer than the Sheraton Suites in Plantation.

And Rick Scott, according to Quinnipiac, is still at 42, same place he was 60-70 million ago. However, given my past reviews on this blog of Quinnipiac, I will stipulate that quite frankly the race could also be tied at 78-78, because you know, Quinnipiac. The averages continue to show Crist with a small lead.

Back to the numbers. Democrats are outpacing their 2010 performance by 8.6 points. …

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