Thursday, November 23, 2017
Politics

Romano: How ya feeling about Donald Trump today, Gov. Scott?

RECOMMENDED READING


Once upon a time, a political newcomer took advantage of a president’s upside-down approval ratings and rode that tea party outrage all the way to the Governor’s Mansion in Tallahassee.

Now, all these years later, we’re about to find out if political karma can be a glitch.

Plotting a new path toward the U.S. Senate, Gov. Rick Scott has suddenly come face-to-face with the realization that, this time, another president’s unpopularity could eventually drag him down.

Donald Trump’s outsize presence in the White House has done Republicans no favors in a number of recent elections. Not in governor’s races in Virginia and New Jersey. Not in a state Senate race in South Florida in September. And not in the St. Petersburg mayoral race Tuesday.

We’ll never know for sure how much Trump backlash cost Rick Baker in his bid to unseat Rick Kriseman in St. Pete, but the circumstantial evidence doesn’t look good. Kriseman’s entire campaign was tailored around Trump scare tactics, and Baker was forced to act as if he were unaware the U.S. even elects a president.

Now, if that strategy succeeded against a candidate who had no affiliation with Trump, imagine the possibilities against Scott in a potential race against U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.

Scott supported Trump. He praised Trump. He defended Trump. And now, as the president’s approval ratings dip to historic lows, he’s stuck with Trump.

"It’s not about the policies as much as the person," said former U.S. Rep. David Jolly. "I would be hard-pressed to identify any well-articulated platform for Democrats other than exploiting the anxiety around Donald Trump. The No. 1 reason for Democrats doing well is Trump in the White House."

Jolly has had some experience with this issue, and he can empathize with Baker’s plight.

A year ago, Jolly was running for re-election in a congressional district that had been redrawn to favor Democrats. Sort of like Baker, a former mayor in left-leaning St. Pete. Jolly was also unwilling to cater to the party’s far-right faction, not unlike the historically moderate Baker.

Jolly chose to attack Trump.

Baker chose to ignore Trump.

Neither strategy succeeded.

In his case, Jolly said any ground he gained with Democrats or independents was offset by losing the support of hard-core Republicans, as well as the GOP donor base.

The problem, he said, is not a candidate’s response to Trump.

It’s simply Trump’s presence.

"Once you get to the general election, any Republican who embraced Donald Trump in the primary is going to have a difficult time reaching a majority of voters in a purple state," Jolly said. "What we saw last night should be encouraging to Bill Nelson and should be a warning sign to all Republicans."

The situation is not terribly different from the conservative animosity toward Barack Obama that fueled the rise of the tea party in 2010. While Trump has lost some Republican support, the bigger issue is that his behavior has invigorated Democrats.

That could be a problem for Scott, considering Democrats still outnumber Republicans by roughly a quarter-million voters in Florida. And if Baker wasn’t able to dodge a flimsy party association with Trump, it will be impossible for Scott to disassociate himself after two years of full-throated support.

So does Jolly have any advice for Scott when it comes to Trump?

"Hopefully, he’s a man of prayer."

Comments
As rules change, many Florida immigrants face a choice: Do they stay or go?

As rules change, many Florida immigrants face a choice: Do they stay or go?

Lys Isma was born in Haiti, but she’s used to driving in Miami with a license, going to college and living without fear of being deported.The Florida International University biology student has lived in Florida since she was 9 months old. Undocument...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Top Trump staffers failed to file financial reports on their way out the door

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s top aides — including chief of staff Reince Priebus and foreign policy adviser Sebastian Gorka — failed to file legally required financial reports after they were dismissed this summer, according to government re...
Updated: 7 hours ago
William March: Lee says lieutenant governor should work for a living and get a vote

William March: Lee says lieutenant governor should work for a living and get a vote

It’s an old joke that Florida’s lieutenant governor, with no duties specified in the state Constitution except to fill in if the governor is disabled or dies, has little to do except monitor the governor’s health. State Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa, ...
Published: 11/22/17
Trump calls father of freed UCLA player an ‘ungrateful fool’

Trump calls father of freed UCLA player an ‘ungrateful fool’

Associated PressPALM BEACH — President Donald Trump started off his first day of Thanksgiving vacation by resuming his taunts of the father of a UCLA basketball player detained for shoplifting in China, saying Wednesday that he was an "ungrateful foo...
Published: 11/22/17
Trump speaks up for Moore, warns against his ‘liberal’ rival

Trump speaks up for Moore, warns against his ‘liberal’ rival

WASHINGTON — Silent for more than a week, President Donald Trump all but endorsed embattled Alabama Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore, discounting the sexual assault allegations against him and insisting repeatedly that voters must not support Moor...
Published: 11/22/17
Trump offers support for Moore in Alabama Senate race despite misconduct allegations

Trump offers support for Moore in Alabama Senate race despite misconduct allegations

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump on Tuesday appeared to offer support to Republican candidate Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate race, saying the former state judge "totally denies" allegations that he sexually molested underage girls years ago."He d...
Published: 11/21/17
Before budget ax fell, Visit Florida executives ran up hefty travel bills

Before budget ax fell, Visit Florida executives ran up hefty travel bills

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott’s tourism chiefs at Visit Florida spend a lot of public money taking trips to exotic places to promote Florida as a top worldwide destination.Four former top-level staff members at the state’s tourism promotion and its c...
Published: 11/20/17
Updated: 11/21/17
2nd woman accuses Sen. Al Franken of inappropriate touching

2nd woman accuses Sen. Al Franken of inappropriate touching

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A second woman has accused Minnesota Sen. Al Franken of inappropriate touching.Lindsay Menz tells CNN that Franken placed his hand on her bottom as they posed for a photo at the Minnesota State Fair in 2010, two years into Fran...
Published: 11/20/17
Senator Nelson on tax reform bill: Small business will ‘get it in the neck.’

Senator Nelson on tax reform bill: Small business will ‘get it in the neck.’

TAMPA — A week ahead of the expected vote on a controversial tax reform bill, U.S. Sens. Bill Nelson and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., visited Tampa to deliver a message to small businesses: This bill will hurt you."Small businesses are the economic engine of F...
Published: 11/19/17
Updated: 11/20/17
As clock ticks on tax bill, White House signals a compromise

As clock ticks on tax bill, White House signals a compromise

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, said Sunday that the White House is willing to remove a contentious provision taking aim at the Affordable Care Act from the GOP tax overhaul plan if politically necessary, a move ...
Published: 11/19/17