FLA Politics Week in Review

Thumbs Up of the Week

Adam Putnam

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times for Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam’s campaign for governor. Thursday afternoon a Fox News poll showed Putnam with a commanding leadover his Republican opponent Congressman Ron DeSantis. That euphoria was likely gone the next morning when President Trump, which the same Fox News survey showed with an 86% approval rating among Florida Republicans, tweeted his endorsement for DeSantis. It’s too early to tell if Trump’s endorsement will swing the nomination toward DeSantis, but it’s certain to make the race tighten almost nine weeks before the August 28 primary. 

Thumbs Down of the Week

State Representative Barrington Russell

This was the week that candidates for state and local offices qualified to be included on the 2018 ballot. The date was no secret and candidates had the entire week to qualify. Despite all of that, State Representative Barrington Russell, Democrat from Fort Lauderdale, either forgot or failed to qualify. That means the first term House member is out, and a candidate who raised $1,000 wins the seat because she was able to get her paperwork in on time

Political News of the Week

Nelson at detention center
Photo from News Service of Florida

The week was dominated by the politics of immigration. A chorus of Republicans denounced President Trump’s controversial policy of separating children from their parents trying to illegally enter the country. By Wednesday, Trump reversed the policy after pictures and audio showed the true victims of the broken immigration policy – the children.

Politically, the policy may have benefited one person – Senator Bill Nelson. He was initially denied access to the Homestead facility housing some of these children, which gave Nelson the issue he needed to launch his lackluster campaign. For his part, Governor Rick Scott opposed the separating of children from their parents too but Nelson seized on the issue. By the end of the week, a Democratic-leaning poll gave Nelson a narrow 2-point lead in his campaign battle with Scott

Quick Bites

The 2018 ballot is set as candidates for state office spent the week qualifying for office. Twenty candidates qualified to run for governor (excluding write-ins). Only a handful of those candidates have a realistic chance of being Florida’s next governor. Candidates also qualified to be state attorney general, chief financial officer and agriculture commissioner. In the legislature, 25 candidates were elected/re-elected with no opposition. Democrats are placing their hopes on flipping the Senate away from the Republicans. The House most likely remains in Republican hands following the 2018 elections.High Speed Rail Coming to Florida? Governor Scott announced this week that a private company wants to build a high speed train connecting Tampa to Orlando.

No More Tax-Free Online Purchases The United States Supreme Court ruled this week that states can require online retailers to charge and pay sales tax on purchases. Traditional brick and mortar retailers heralded the ruling as leveling the playing field.

Looking Ahead

Republicans Adam Putnam and Ron DeSantis square off Thursday night in a Republican Party of Florida debate airing on Fox News. While Putnam is the front runner, DeSantis is sure to mention (once or twice) President Trump’s endorsement. The challenge for DeSantis is using this platform to present his agenda for Florida. Unlike Putnam, he has yet to weigh-in with specific policy positions.