Sunday, June 17, 2018

Is Florida Salvageable For The Democrats In November-- One Democrat In Particular


Bill Nelson will be 76 in September

There are no guarantees in electoral politics, but right now the smart bet would be that the Democrats win a majority in the House, maybe even substantial majority. The Senate is a lot tougher. Winning back the Senate, means that the Democrats keep all the red state seats that Trump won that they hold and pick up 2 more, bringing their caucus to 51 and redicinging the Republicans' down to 49. Some of the Trump states look pretty safe for the Democratic incumbents: Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, North Dakota, Montana, West Virginia, perhaps even Indiana and Missouri. Democrats even look competitive in 3 or 4 Republican-held Trump states: Nevada, Arizona, Tennessee, possibly Texas. So what's missing from this picture? One purple state with a Democratic incumbent: Florida. Bill Nelson has held the seat for 18 years. Trump didn't wipe out Hillary the way he did in some of these other seats. He only won 4,617,886 (49.0%) to 4,504,975 (47.8%).

Last time Nelson ran (2012) he trounced Republican Connie Mack IV, 4,523,451 (55.2%) to 3,458,267 (42.2%). Nelson out-spent Mack $17,125,413 to $7,508,151. As of March 31 of this year Nelson had already raised $13,466,786 and his presumptive opponent, Governor Rick Scott hadn't started raising yet-- but is wealthy enough for it not to matter. He can self-fund whatever he needs to outspend Nelson.

Yesterday, Marc Caputo took a look at the Florida race for Politico and it didn't look good for the Democrats. Caputo starts with a bad omen: "Rick Scott’s Senate campaign has a Spanish-language web page. Sen. Bill Nelson’s doesn’t. Scott is advertising in Spanish. Nelson isn’t. Scott is learning Spanish and does interviews with Spanish-language media about once a week. Nelson isn’t and doesn’t. For Democrats who recognize protecting Nelson’s seat is essential to their hopes of winning a Senate majority this fall, the veteran senator’s lackluster outreach to one of the fastest-growing voting blocs in the nation’s largest swing state is causing alarm." And Caputo's report gets worse.
The depth of Nelson’s troubles-- and Scott’s advantage-- came into sharp focus last month in four focus groups conducted in Central Florida’s influential Puerto Rican community, where few knew who Nelson was, despite his three Senate terms and holding elected Florida office for 41 years.

“There’s a lot higher awareness of Rick Scott. He’s got much higher name recognition. And people associate him with trying to do something for Puerto Rico,” said Marcos Vilar, director for United for Progress PAC, which had the focus groups conducted for it by the polling firm Latino Decisions.

“Bill Nelson has very little name recognition,” Vilar said. “The people who know him don’t know what he’s done. They don’t know him in the community. They don’t see him out to the community as much.”

Party insiders and Latino activists -- in Washington, Miami, Orlando and Tallahassee-- fret that it’s a serious problem against Scott, who is expected to spend tens of millions of dollars out of his own pocket to knock off Nelson. They say the two-term Republican governor is running a robust campaign that’s “pandering” to Hispanics but drowning out Nelson’s support of issues important to the community-- from his clear support for comprehensive immigration reform to advocacy for Medicaid expansion to criticizing the Trump administration’s underwhelming response to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

“At the end of the day, he can be great on all the issues but if people don’t know that that’s happening, it almost doesn’t matter,” said Mayra Macias, political director for the group Latino Victory and a former political director for the Florida Democratic Party. “There seems to be a disconnect between the outreach to the community and the policy work that he’s doing, the advocacy for our community-- he’s been spot-on on our issues.”

...The panic surrounding Scott’s possible inroads with Hispanic voters-- who account for about 15 percent of the voter rolls-- results from their role as part of the diverse coalition the Democratic Party relies on to win in Florida.

With the notable exception of GOP-voting older Cuban Americans, Hispanics tend to vote Democratic, but their turnout has tended to be abysmal in midterm elections-- which Democrats have consistently lost here. Nelson has been the exception, in part because he has faced historically weak opponents.

Recent polls show Scott leading Nelson largely on the strength of a $12 million ad campaign that’s about to grow to nearly $17 million spent between his campaign and his allies. Nelson, by comparison, was quiet on air until the Senate Majority PAC announced a $2.2 million ad campaign last month. The ad, a Nelson bio, did not have a Spanish-language version.

But all is not lost for Nelson when it comes to Puerto Rican voters, United for Progress PAC’s Vilar said.

In the PAC’s focus groups, one fact sharply turns sentiment against Scott: the governor’s association with President Donald Trump, whose handling of Hurricane Maria has earned him widespread condemnation by Puerto Ricans. The mere mention that Scott raised money for Trump’s election-- and that Trump encouraged Scott to run for Senate-- was a potent message. Vilar said the only subset of Puerto Ricans it didn’t work with were registered Republicans he observed in yet another focus group, in Tampa.

“In Orlando at least, it’s a very effective argument: a vote for Scott is a vote for Trump,” Vilar said. “It’s gold. Everyone in doubt completely flipped. For people leaning for Scott, Trump is toxic.”

...Asked about the differences between the Scott and Nelson campaigns, Roberto R. Tejera, a veteran political commentator and host of The Roberto Rodriguez Tejera Show on Actualidad Radio in Miami, joked: “Who is Bill Nelson?”

Another reporter for a national Spanish-language network couldn’t recall any recent high-profile Latino-focused Nelson events in South Florida either and said that Scott, Sen. Marco Rubio and even New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez are more active in Florida than Nelson in reaching out about Latin American issues of importance to the network’s viewers. “[Scott] also learned Spanish which is pretty amazing,” the reporter, who could not speak on the record under company policy, told Politico in a text message.

Scott, at the event for Colombian-American voters, said Nelson’s outreach was indicative of the Democrat’s campaign more broadly: “I haven’t seen him reach out in the last six years, either. I haven’t seen him around the state.”

Nelson’s campaign disputes that claim and pointed to more than two dozen dates when he met with Hispanic leaders and Puerto Rican officials, activists and evacuees. The list also includes two meetings with Venezuelans in Miami.

Nelson’s predicament doesn’t surprise Democrats familiar with Latino outreach in Senate campaigns and Nelson’s successful 2012 election, when he faced a weak opponent and rode President Obama’s coattails to an easy win while doing relatively little Hispanic-centric campaigning. At the time, some faulted Nelson for not doing enough and since then, they say, neither he nor the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has taken Latino outreach seriously enough. Two operatives said the DSCC has ignored repeated entreaties to fix the situation.

“You do things necessary to mobilize the community and to communicate,” said one Democrat who didn’t want to be identified for fear of political retribution. “And the fact you don’t have that in Florida set up, you don’t have that in DC set up-- it’s baffling. And people are taking notice.”

...Juan Escalante, an undocumented “DREAMer” from Venezuela who grew up in Florida and is now communications director for the immigrant-rights group America’s Voice in Washington, said Latino activists and Democratic insiders worry that the party is in denial about the effectiveness of Scott’s outreach and the relatively low-key campaigning by Nelson.

“When it comes down to it, Scott seems more willing to speak to Latino audiences-- going to where they are and speaking their language and showing a vested interest in what they care about,” said Escalante, criticizing Nelson for not embracing DREAMers and Latinos in the same way that former Nevada Sen. Harry Reid did.

“It’s rather unfortunate that we don’t have the senior senator of Florida embedding himself in that energy,” he said. “We may end up with a Rick Scott as a junior senator and a Marco Rubio as a senior senator. And I don’t want to see that.”

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At 6:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

coupla things:

The democraps do not want to win both chambers. they'd have to actually do stuff and they only want to pretend to do stuff.

nelson isn't what you'd legitimately call a democrat. he's more like joe manchin.

with the number of republicans in the democrap caucus, they couldn't defeat a filibuster if they had 75. And if they did have 75, scummer would disallow anything progressive from seeing the floor for a vote.

The Nazi party counts the votes in FL. 'nuf said.

Any Hispanic who votes for ANYONE in the Nazi party should permanently lose his/her right to vote for being too goddamn stupid to live. A vote for the democrap, even a shithead like nelson, is defensible though certainly not helpful.

This all just illustrates how fetid a shithole this is.

At 8:35 AM, Blogger edmondo said...

Is there anyone under 75 years of age who identifies as a Democrat?

Jesus H. Christ, he's been in office for 41 years. He's not a solution. He is the problem

At 9:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nelson wasn't the worst Democrat out there, but his time is done. IF this is the best the "democrats" can do, then their time is done as well.


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