A Trump Shout-Out and More Last Week In Florida Politics

Roundup of the week’s state politics

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida’s 2018 midterm election is one of the most important in years. The governor’s office and all three Cabinet seats are open, Republican Gov. Rick Scott is challenging three-term Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, several congressional seats will be competitive and Floridians will vote on 13 proposed constitutional amendments, ranging from property tax cuts to banning greyhound racing. The following are items of political interest from the past week:


Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis got a shout out from President Donald Trump on Monday during a ceremony honoring NASCAR Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr.

While listing congressmen at the event, Trump paused when he came to DeSantis’ name, saying, “Where’s Ron DeSantis? He’s always helping me on television. He’s so great. Thank you Ron.”

DeSantis is running for the Republican nomination to replace Republican Gov. Rick Scott. Trump took to Twitter to endorse DeSantis’ run in December, the month before DeSantis got in the race.


Speaking of DeSantis, one of the Republicans hoping to replace him in the U.S. House is being criticized for saying Puerto Ricans who relocated to Florida after Hurricane Maria shouldn’t be allowed to vote.

Businessman John Ward, who has spent more than $600,000 of his own money on the race, was asked about aid to help Puerto Ricans who have temporarily moved to Florida. He began his reply by saying, “So, I don’t think that they should be allowed to register to vote.” He went on to say that he “doesn’t necessarily have a problem” with Puerto Ricans coming to the mainland United States, but thinks the focus should be on having them go back to the island, saying the U.S. should provide “the capital and resources to rebuild Puerto Rico, which is where I honestly think they belong.”

One of his primary opponents, former state Rep. Fred Costello, recently posted a video of the remarks on YouTube. On Tuesday, state Rep. Bob Cortes, who is Puerto Rican, endorsed Costello. Cortes said of Ward, “Electing a candidate like that is dangerous and would be a disservice, not just to the Puerto Rican Americans he would disenfranchise, but to all freedom-loving Americans.”


A fundraiser for Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam was abruptly canceled after it was reported that one of the hosts had been caught on video shooting two dogs in a cow pasture.

Putnam, a Republican candidate for governor, was scheduled to attend a fundraiser on Thursday at the Orlando home of Christopher Comins. But the morning of the event the Tampa Bay Times reported that Comins had been charged with animal cruelty after video of the shootings were placed on YouTube. A judge in 2011 acquitted Comins of the charges, saying that it appeared the dogs were attacking cows gathered in the pasture.

When asked about the fundraiser by a Times reporter, the Putnam campaign pointed out that a Democratic donor had given money to GOP rival DeSantis. But hours after the story appeared, the Putnam campaign said the commissioner was no longer going to the fundraiser because it was canceled.

Democrats sharply criticized Putnam over the fundraiser and called the comparison of Democrats to attempts dog killers “bizarre and deeply offensive.”


Gov. Rick Scott’s campaign has been sharply critical of some of U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson’s stops across the state.

The main complaint is that Nelson is blurring the lines between his official duties as a senator and his campaign efforts. Two ethics complaints have been filed against Nelson so far. Nelson’s office has responded by calling the complaints a “political stunt” and bogus.

This week, however, there was an intersection between Scott’s campaign and state government.

Scott’s campaign tweeted out a video about veterans that includes the governor discussing his time in the U.S. Navy when he said veterans were looked down upon because of the Vietnam War. The tweet was quickly retweeted by the official twitter account of the Florida Department of Health.

Devin Galetta, a spokesman for the department, called the decision to publicize the campaign video “inadvertent.” He said the department’s social media manager got confused about what Scott’s campaign account and the governor’s official account.

Galetta said the department deleted its tweet.


“Oh no…” — Republican U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz on Twitter as he posted a screenshot of Fox News identifying him as a Florida congresswoman.