Tuesday, September 18, 2018
Politics

Breaking down Florida's U.S. Senate debate

The only debate in Florida's U.S. Senate race was Wednesday night at Nova Southeastern University in Davie.

See chart below.

Connie Mack IV, 45

U.S. representative elected in 2004, previously served in Florida House. Married with two children, two stepchildren.
Bill Nelson, 70

U.S. senator elected in 2000, previously served as congressman, state legislator, insurance commissioner. Married with two children.
Quote I
"There is a clear choice between Sen. Nelson and me. You see, Bill Nelson cast the deciding vote to cut $700 billion out of your Medicare to pay for Obamacare. I voted against Obamacare. Bill Nelson, he voted to gut our military. I voted to strengthen our military." "Everything that the congressman has just said is not true. And that's part of the problem in our politics today. It's so polarized. It's so excessively partisan. … It's my way or no way. The way you run the government of the United States, is you respect the other fellow's point of view, you reach across the partisan divide."
Quote II
"Senator, you put some cows on your farm to avoid paying taxes. What problems me about that is that you tell everybody else not to do it but it's okay for you — $43,000 that could have gone for teachers." "There have been cows on that property for 60 years, since 1952, when I was a little boy, raising my 4-H Club project. And they still are" on the land.
Quote III
"I'm not sure which Florida you're talking about. There are people who are losing their homes, they're still losing their homes, senator. This economy is not one that is working." "He rails against the stimulus bill. He didn't tell you that he wrote a letter to the Department of Transportation in order to get $29 million in stimulus in his congressional district ."
Best moment
Painting Nelson as a creature of an unproductive Senate. The public is tired of gridlock and Mack tried to harness that by saying Democrats and Nelson, who served on the budget committee, had not passed a spending plan. His zinger about Mack's oft-repeated attack that Nelson was looking out for President Barack Obama, not Floridians. "Is that the only line that you have memorized?" Nelson said, and the audience burst into laughter.
Biggest misstep
On question about preserving popular provisions of health care law, he mostly slammed the law. It's a delicate issue in Florida and Mack missed an opportunity to appeal to broader electorate. Often gave long answers in contrast to Mack's punchier responses and seemed too eager to revisit the cow flap, going back at it during a question about immigration.
Rating the performance
Mack was aggressive and confident without seeming too strident. For someone critics dismiss as a lightweight, he performed well. But he also came across as heavily scripted and did a lot of Obama bashing rather than defining his own agenda. More than once he distorted Nelson's record. Nelson has been in political office for 40 years and his experience showed. Still, he did not emerge a clear victor. Nelson defended his record and hit back effectively at times, particularly on Mack missing votes to campaign. "Why don't you explain how you don't show up to work."

Comments
Romano: Florida’s dangerous prisons costing us more than money

Romano: Florida’s dangerous prisons costing us more than money

Two things you need to know about Florida’s prison budget:1. It was $2.3 billion this year.2. It was still not enough.Kind of staggering when you think of it that way, huh?We keep spending more and more on housing prisoners, and it’s like throwing mo...
Published: 09/18/18
Kavanaugh to testify after denying sexual assault allegations

Kavanaugh to testify after denying sexual assault allegations

WASHINGTON — Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh said Monday he was willing to speak to a Senate panel to "refute" an allegation he sexually assaulted a woman while in high school, after his accuser said via her attorney that she was ready to testi...
Published: 09/17/18
California professor, writer of confidential Brett Kavanaugh letter, speaks out about her allegation of sexual assault

California professor, writer of confidential Brett Kavanaugh letter, speaks out about her allegation of sexual assault

Earlier this summer, Christine Blasey Ford wrote a confidential letter to a senior Democratic lawmaker alleging that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her more than three decades ago, when they were high school students in subu...
Published: 09/16/18
Cuban refugee numbers plummet in Tampa area with cuts at Havana embassy

Cuban refugee numbers plummet in Tampa area with cuts at Havana embassy

It’s been nearly a year since the U.S. embassy in Havana suspended processing requests from people hoping to leave the island nation as refugees. The reason: Staffing was reduced to a skeleton crew in the wake of mysterious health attacks on em...
Published: 09/17/18
Romano: Rick Scott’s do-it-yourself guide to rigging a Supreme Court

Romano: Rick Scott’s do-it-yourself guide to rigging a Supreme Court

His time in Tallahassee is coming to an end. Eight years of triumph or shambles, depending on your point of view. And yet, Rick Scott’s legacy may not be written until his final minute as governor.For several years, Scott has been plotting a judicial...
Published: 09/15/18
Fraying Ties With Trump Put Mattis’ Fate in Doubt

Fraying Ties With Trump Put Mattis’ Fate in Doubt

WASHINGTON D.C.? — Back when their relationship was fresh and new, and President Donald Trump still called his defense secretary "Mad Dog" a nickname Jim Mattis detests ? the wiry retired Marine general often took a dinner break to eat burgers with h...
Published: 09/15/18
Carlton: The mayor, the restaurateur and the giant statue that had to go: A Tampa tale

Carlton: The mayor, the restaurateur and the giant statue that had to go: A Tampa tale

You would have thought the controversy over whether chickens should be left alone to keep boldly roaming the streets of historic Ybor City — and the impressive pro-chicken lobby that showed up to argue on their behalf — would be the quintessential on...
Published: 09/15/18

5 takeaways from Paul Manafort’s plea agreement

Five takeawaysWASHINGTON — Paul Manafort’s agreement to plead guilty and cooperate with the special counsel marks a milestone in the investigation led by Robert Mueller. Here are several key elements:Mueller knows more than we doThe public doesn’t kn...
Published: 09/14/18
Clearwater voter forums will discuss referendum on strong mayor charter change

Clearwater voter forums will discuss referendum on strong mayor charter change

CLEARWATER — Residents can hear varying perspectives on the Nov. 6 referendum on whether to change Clearwater’s form of government into a strong mayor system at two upcoming forums.The Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce will host a forum Monday ...
Published: 09/13/18
Woman who says she exchanged sex for rent with Hernando commissioner describes political alliances

Woman who says she exchanged sex for rent with Hernando commissioner describes political alliances

BROOKSVILLE — Valerie Surette, the woman at the heart of prostitution-related charges against former Hernando County Commissioner Nick Nicholson, told Sheriff’s Office detectives in March that he frequently talked to her about county business. In a r...
Published: 09/12/18