Amy Sherman at the Miami Herald reports from the Florida Democrats' annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Hollywood:
Sen. Bill Nelson says outsiders spending millions in race against him
Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson told Democrats at the Jefferson Jackson dinner tonight that outsiders are spending millions in an effort to defeat him.
"You take a race such as mine with an opponent the newspapers have said is flawed and yet who is raising very little money yet what we see is millions of dollars that are pouring in," Nelson said. "Outside of the Miami TV market $8 million of negative TV ads have been run against me. Karl Rove just reserved another $6 million coming up in the fall. ... What we are going to have to do about it is be smarter, more efficient and put the shoe leather to the street."
The Florida Democratic Party raised about $750,000 at the event and drew about 1,000 people.
Gov. Scott isn't on the ballot for two more years, but Dems focused on him
Gov. Rick Scott isn't on the ballot for two more years, but he's still the go-to guy for Dems to bash though Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is the one posing a more immediate threat to Florida Democrats' effort to put the state in the blue category.
"The Republican Party has lost their way and have moved so far to the right that they have become the Tea Party," said state party chairman Rod Smith at a press conference at the Democrats' annual Jefferson Jackson dinner at the Westin Diplomat in Hollywood Saturday evening. "We believe [Scott] has become a voice of the Republican Party of Florida. Apparently their presidential candidate must not agree: on 54 trips I don't think they've gotten together. I'm assuming Gov. Romney thinks Tallahassee is a no-fly zone right now."
U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, Florida's only Democratic statewide office holder, is seeking a third term and facing what will be an expensive and contentious battle with U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV (R-Fort Myers) who is far behind in fundraising but Super PACS could level the playing field for the Republican.
"This is a time of extraordinary outside money coming into Florida to try to buy certain elections," Nelson said Saturday. "When this kind of money comes in to influence and comes in from billionaires it is obvious they are not interested in Florida -- they are interested in their own particular agenda."
Democratic State Sen. Nan Rich of Broward who is running against Scott criticized the governor's statements about the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in favor of the Affordable Care Act.
"We have a governor that is saying he is not going to implement what he calls optional components," she said. "He includes in optional the exchanges." If the state won't set up the exchange the federal government will do that for Florida, Rich said.
U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Weston), chair of the Democratic National Committee, said that "Scott and the Republican Legislature have pushed through some of the most draconian cuts we have seen" -- citing K-12 education and cutting funding to rape counseling centers. She also criticized Romney for not releasing several years of tax returns.
Wasserman Schultz was asked to explain why she was calling on Romney to release several years of tax returns when she hadn't released her own -- something that one of her potential GOP challengers, Karen Harrington, has repeatedly asked her to do.
Wasserman Schultz said that she is "fully compliant" in terms of releasing financial information that she has to provide as a member of Congress.
Romney is running for president, and has "violated decades of precedent for presidential candidates going back to his own father when he ran for president," Wasserman Schultz said. The Washington Post reported that Romney has followed the law and released his 2010 return and said he would release his 2011 return but his father George released 12 years' of returns in 1968.