Call it a case of bad timing or a major case of tone deafness. As Hurricane Michael threatens Florida’s Gulf Coast, incumbent U.S. Senator Bill Nelson’s campaign is sending emails asking for campaign contributions. Multiple emails were sent to voters within the potential path of the hurricane with bolded statements that included:
“Losing Florida would cost Democrats the Senate.”
“And with votes already being cast, it couldn’t be more important that we keep our ads live.”
“We can’t win without your immediate donation, friends.”
“We just got some unbelievable news: A group of donors is DOUBLING ALL GIFTS for one day only to help Democrats take back the Senate!”
FLA News asked Senator Nelson’s campaign team for comment on the fundraising emails, but a campaign spokesman didn’t respond back.
Political strategists say playing politics when destruction is all but certain can backfire on a candidate.
“A storm of this size and consequence separates the political quick from the dead,” said Republican consultant Rick Wilson. “The right politics and the right thing to do is to be involved in warning people of the dangers, and assisting in the recovery. The wrong thing is to politicize the event or be out pitching for donations.”
Contribution emails should likely be off the table during a hurricane, but TV commercials apparently aren’t. After Democrat gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum pulled his ads in television markets likely to be impacted by the Hurricane, Democrats criticized Republican Ron DeSantis for not doing the same. However Senator Nelson’s commercials are currently airing on Northwest Florida TV stations. That includes third party ads attacking Governor Rick Scott. Gov. Scott is also airing TV commercials in the impacted area, including on the Weather Channel, which is providing wall-to-wall coverage of the impending hurricane. That coverage also includes frequent appearances by Gov. Scott as he holds multiple news conferences across the Gulf Coast. It’s the power of the bully pulpit a governor commands during a natural disaster, which may be why Nelson is breaking the traditional rules of playing politics during a hurricane. Scott and Nelson are locked in a tight race. People are currently voting and Scott now has a built-in advantage — an advantage that could tip the scales in the Governor’s favor with less than 30 days before the Election Day.