The final countdown: A look at Florida’s week in 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 on the ballot, 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:
THE FINAL TALLY
Florida’s wide-open race for governor attracted a long line of candidates, who in turn raised millions upon millions of dollars to fund their campaigns.
The final tally for the seven main Republican and Democratic candidates ahead of next week’s primary? Nearly $168 million according to campaign reports turned in on Friday.
That includes money that the candidates either raised or donated themselves to their campaigns and their affiliated political committees. Part of that total also includes $3.72 million that U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, Gwen Graham and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum received in public matching money.
Palm Beach businessman and billionaire Jeff Greene, one of the five main Democrats running, raised more than $43 million, although nearly all of it came from his own pockets. That total includes $5 million that Greene put in a newly formed political committee that he said he would use to help flip the GOP-controlled Florida Senate.
Putnam was the top fundraiser on the Republican side. His campaign and political committee raised more than $37 million.
By the end of the day Friday, 1,640,089 votes had already been cast in Tuesday’s primary election. That includes almost 695,000 Democratic ballots and nearly 796,000 Republican ballots. There are still 1.4 million vote-by-mail ballots that were sent to voters but haven’t been returned to election supervisors.
In-person early voting ends on Sunday.
Democratic candidate for agriculture commissioner Nikki Fried said Wells Fargo closed her bank account because of her pro-medical marijuana platform and the fact she has taken contributions from medical marijuana lobbyists.
Fried held a press conference at the Capitol to criticize the company for what she said was an "outrageous decision."
"I thought this was a joke," she said.
Wells Fargo issued a press release that said it can’t knowingly provide banking services to marijuana businesses and related activity. Despite state laws that allow legal marijuana, it is still illegal under federal law.
"I am a candidate. I have a right to be heard," Fried said. "I am not touching the plant, I’m not selling the plant, I’m not producing the plant. I’m simply advocating for the expansion of medical marijuana and that was the reason for closing me down."
THE FINAL COUNTDOWN
Here’s a quick look at what the seven major gubernatorial candidates were doing on the final Saturday before the primary.
Republican Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam: Breakfast in The Villages retirement community outside of Tampa and barbecue in Temple Terrace as part of a campaign bus tour.
Republican U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis: Private meetings in Jacksonville.
Former Democratic U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham: Early voting with Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and a work day at a bakery.
Former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine: Campaigning in the Orlando area with former Puerto Rico Gov. Sila Maria Calderon.
Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum: Bus tour through Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties with former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro.
Businessman Chris King: Bus tour through central Florida.
Billionaire Jeff Greene: ?????. His campaign didn’t return calls and texts, and didn’t send out any media advisories. His social media accounts showed no signs of activity.
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