Crist raises $1M in first day as Democratic nominee- POLITICO

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Hello and welcome to Thursday.

Starting line Charlie Crist, who won the Democratic primary for governor this week, was off and running on Day 1 of the 11-week sprint to Election Day and his confrontation with Gov. Ron DeSantis.

The money race Crist pulled down more than $1 million in donations in the first 24 hours after his trouncing of Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried during a day that also saw the veteran politician make multiple television appearances.

Biden time But there were other notable moments: Crist made his loyalty to President Joe Biden clear even though Biden has low approval ratings right now in the state. During a CNN appearance, Crist called Biden “exceptional” and lauded the president for helping Ukraine in its war with Russia and on voting rights. “He’s a good man, he’s a great man, he’s a great president,” Crist said.

Response — Crist made those comments even as the Republican Party of Florida launched its first attack ad of the campaign, which ties the Florida congressman to the president. “Charlie Crist would do to Florida what Biden’s done to America,” the ad intoned. DeSantis — who campaigned with Sen. Marco Rubio at several stops — picked up on the remark as well as he slammed Biden and said he’s been the “worst” president of his lifetime. “We cannot let this state become a subsidiary of the Biden regime,” DeSantis said.

Pushing voters away? Republicans also highlighted comments Crist made during an early Wednesday morning press conference in St. Petersburg where he took a jab at DeSantis supporters. “If you have hate in your heart, keep it there,” said Crist who said he wanted the vote of “good” Democrats, independents and Republicans who “care about the state.”

The governor’s remarks DeSantis also got a bit of attention for comments he made at a campaign appearance outside Orlando saying he was sick of “seeing” Anthony Fauci and that “someone needs to grab that little elf and chuck him across the Potomac.” During his Tampa stop, however, the Tampa Bay Times reported that DeSantis responded directly to Crist’s remarks and defended his supporters by saying “it’s not hate in their heart, they care.”

— WHERE’S RON? — Nothing official announced for Gov. DeSantis.

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PROGRAMMING NOTE:Florida Playbook will not publish from Monday, Aug. 29 through Monday, Sept. 5. We’ll be back on our normal schedule come Tuesday, Sept. 6. Please continue to follow POLITICO Florida.

SHOWDOWNMoney isn’t everything: Demings hauls in cash but Rubio holds firm, by POLITICO’s Matt Dixon: But the race is about much more than money. Republicans say Rubio, 51, is a seasoned politician with a strong campaign operation and knows how to succeed in Florida politics, including winning two statewide races for Senate by wide margins. Most public polls have Rubio ahead, and some Republicans say any boost Democrats got from Roe is canceled out by how energized their voters are after the FBI searched former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in West Palm Beach.

‘That will stop’ — Rubio backers also see Demings’ fundraising lead as temporary, the result of the huge amount she is spending early on digital fundraising firms, which will bring in waves of small dollar contributions but at a very high cost. “It’s not that surprising she has raised so much so quickly. She has a lot of qualities attractive to the national Democratic base and raises a ton of money on the internet. That’s an expensive way to raise money,” said Republican lobbyist Brian Ballard, who is helping Rubio’s campaign.

OUT THIS MORNINGSen. Marco Rubio has a new campaign ad that touts his legislative achievements, including helping push the Paycheck Protection Act and his advocacy for a measure that extended health care benefits to veterans exposed to toxic burn pits.

‘WE WANT TO WIN BIG’ — “At Republican rally in Tampa, DeSantis supports candidates up and down the ticket,” by Tampa Bay Times’ Romy Ellenbogen: “[Gov. Ron] DeSantis started his speech by addressing a comment [Charlie] Crist made without naming him. In an interview on Wednesday morning, Crist had said he didn’t want the votes of DeSantis supporters because Crist didn’t want people who had ‘hate in their heart.’ ‘It’s not hate in their heart, they care,’ DeSantis said of his supporters. The rest of DeSantis’ speech touched on familiar highlights — support for law enforcement, Florida’s few restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic, parental choice and the removal of Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren. ‘We have an opportunity to solidify Florida as the nation’s citadel of freedom,’ DeSantis said. ‘Not just for me being governor but 10, 15, 20 years in the future.’”

SUGGESTION BOX— “Experts: Crist needs to hit DeSantis hard, raise cash to win,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Steven Lemongello: “It will be extremely difficult, but Democrat Charlie Crist can defeat Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in November, political experts said Wednesday. But he needs everything to come together for him, from whipping up Democratic enthusiasm that was lacking in Tuesday’s primary to raising millions of dollars quickly. Most of all, Crist has to keep up the heat on DeSantis, they said. ‘He needs to make the case against Ron DeSantis,’ said Gregory Koger, a professor of political science at the University of Miami.”

WELCOME TO THE NFL — “After sweeping primary win, Crist faces a tougher target in toppling DeSantis,” by USA Today Network-Florida’s John Kennedy: “After a thorough thumping of primary rival Nikki Fried, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Charlie Crist quickly trained his focus Wednesday on a vastly tougher target: Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. “The plan is to win. I think we’re going to beat this guy, I really do,” Crist said outside a St. Petersburg diner, making his first campaign stop of what is certain to be a free-swinging battle with DeSantis leading to the November election. Crist acknowledged a mismatch with fundraising — DeSantis is sitting on more than $130 million, while the Democrat’s account was virtually emptied by the primary. But running his seventh statewide race — with a 3-3 won-loss record, so far — Crist said Floridians know him.”

— “Charlie Crist declares he’s ‘on the battlefield of love,’ while DeSantis ‘is on the battlefield of hate,’” by Fox News’ Brian Flood and David Rutz

FROM PURPLE TO RED — “Is Florida still a swing state? The next 11 weeks will determine the answer,” by McClatchy D.C.’s Alex Roarty: “In a state where campaigns are famously hyper-competitive, GOP candidates enter the general election — led by incumbents Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Marco Rubio — at a clear advantage, bolstered by a surge in Republican voter registration and recent electoral trends that have pushed the state to the right. It’s a shift that has left Democrats, headlined by gubernatorial nominee Charlie Crist and Senate nominee Val Demings, trying to prove that their party can overcome the state’s recent history and still win in Florida. ‘A five-point spread for Republicans is huge in Florida, but I know they’re aiming for that,’ said David Jolly, a former Republican congressman who has turned into a frequent critic of the GOP.”

POWER PLAY— ‘Our plan might have paid off’: How FPL dollars secretly funded a spoiler vs. Levine Cava,” by Miami Herald’s Nicholas Nehamas, Douglas Hanks, Sarah Blaskey and Mary Ellen Klas: “All he had to do was siphon votes away from [Daniella] Levine Cava, a fellow Democrat and progressive environmentalist with mayoral aspirations who had clashed with one of [Jeff] Pitts’ biggest clients — Florida Power & Light. Pitts wasn’t just advising [Johnathan] Burke: He and a team of consultants were financing their candidate with funds provided by FPL — at one point covering Burke’s $60,000 salary and paying the rent on a $2,300-per-month home in Miami-Dade’s District 8, according to internal financial records, emails and text messages obtained by the Miami Herald, along with interviews and documents provided by others in Burke’s orbit.”

ONE AND DONE— “Two dozen candidates are headed to the Florida Legislature after primary Election Day wins,” by News Service of Florida’s Jim Saunders: “Griff Griffitts. Rita Harris. Brad Yeager. Lisa Dunkley. Outside of their districts or the world of political operatives, those names might not ring a bell. But after winning primary elections Tuesday, they, along with 20 other candidates, are headed to seats in the Florida Legislature. Two dozen of Tuesday’s winners in Senate and House races do not have general-election opponents or face only write-in opponents, who typically receive only a few votes. That comes on top of 40 legislative candidates who ran without any opposition in this year’s races.”

Trump made 30 endorsements in recent primaries. Here’s who won, by POLITICO’s Marissa Martinez

— “Frost, Mills likely will shake up Orlando’s congressional delegation,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Skyler Swisher

— “Florida Democrats beg national party and donors not to give up on them,” by Florida Phoenix’s Michael Moline

— “LGBTQ+ candidates win in Florida in aftermath of ‘Don’t Say Gay,’” by The Hill’s Brooke Migdon

— “Hillsborough rejected school tax while other Florida counties said yes,” by Tampa Bay Times’ Marlene Sokol

— “Mooney’s lead for District 120 legislator is razor thin — is it enough for a recount?” by FLKeysNews.com’s David Goodhue

FLORIDA GOP SLAMS STUDENT LOAN PLAN — President Joe Biden’s announcement that his administration will cancel up to $10,000 of student debt for millions of people and up to $20,000 for those borrowers who received a federal Pell Grant was praised by Democrats but it was sharply criticized by Florida Republicans.

Sen. Rick Scott released a “digital ad” that criticized the plan. And both Rubio and DeSantis ripped apart the proposal during their “Keep Florida Free” campaign stops on Wednesday. During an event in Jacksonville, Rubio openly questioned the legality of Biden’s order. “We need to take them to court, we need to fight them there,” said Rubio, who also said the proposal “screwed” over Americans who either did not attend college or worked their way through without loans.

DeSantis said that the plan to cancel debt was not “fair” to waitresses, small business owners and plumbers and said that it showed that Biden was pitting Americans against each other.

‘FALSE NARRATIVE’ — “Leon superintendent Rocky Hanna slams DeSantis, supports teacher unions in Facebook post,” by Tallahassee Democrat’s Ana Goñi-Lessan: “Local educators are criticizing Gov. Ron DeSantis’ recent attacks on teachers’ unions. In his most recent bid to fix Florida’s teacher shortage, DeSantis blamed the state’s 9,000 teacher deficit on credentials insisted upon by unions. ‘The Governor’s quest for popularity and political gain knows no bounds,’ wrote Leon County Schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna in a Facebook post Monday evening. ‘This calculated and intentional attack on public schools, centered around complete untruths, has now become part of his legacy.’”

— “DeSantis calls Fauci ‘little elf’ that should be thrown ‘across the Potomac,’” by New York Post’s Jesse O’Neill

— “DeSantis, agencies want Reedy Creek taxpayer lawsuit tossed,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Katie Rice

‘WE JUST WANT EVERYTHING BACK’ — “Archives asked for records in 2021 after Trump lawyer agreed they should be returned, email says,” by Washington Post’s Josh Dawsey and Jacqueline Alemany: “About two dozen boxes of presidential records stored in then-President Donald Trump’s White House residence were not returned to the National Archives and Records Administration in the final days of his term even after Archives officials were told by a Trump lawyer that the documents should be given back, according to an email from the top lawyer at the record-keeping agency.”

— “How Trump spent his days since the feds searched his home,” by POLITICO’s Meridith McGraw and Daniel Lippman

STORM WARNING— “Hurricane Andrew unleashed fury 30 years ago. But since, storms have gotten much worse,” by Palm Beach Post’s Kimberly Miller: “Still, many agree that warmer waters mean more fuel for the storms that do form and more bouts of rapid intensification. Higher sea levels mean more storm surge charging inland. And some climate models that dig into a past before civilization have indicated a slowing of the Gulf Stream current, which could lead to a larger pool of high-octane water at Florida’s doorstep. ‘Undoubtedly, the research shows that we are seeing more intense hurricanes,’ said Jo Muller, a paleoclimatologist and associate professor at Florida Gulf Coast University’s Water School. ‘When you have really warm sea surface temperatures you can go like Hurricane Michael from a strong Cat 2 to a Cat 5 in a day and that’s terrifying.’”

AFTERMATH — “Hurricane Andrew’s legacy: Five ways one storm forever changed South Florida,” by Miami Herald’s Alex Harris: “But the record-breaking Category 5 hurricane set in motion changes still evident today in everything from the home insurance market (the price is still skyrocketing) to television weather reporting (there’s 24-7 local and Weather Channel storm coverage now) to a massive population shift in South Florida (a lot of people moved north). Virtually every new home in South Florida is built stronger now, right down to special roofing nails. And the devastation, including 43 deaths, led to the development of new high-tech tracking and forecasting systems and better public warnings.”

‘GETTING BACK TO NORMAL’— “Top U.S. cruise lines set to allow passengers without COVID-19 shots on most voyages,” by Miami Herald’s Anna Jean Kaiser: “Laura Tipka, a vaccinated Boca Raton retiree, was relieved to board a Royal Caribbean cruise ship on Monday at PortMiami without having to take a coronavirus test for the first time since the pandemic began in March 2020. Royal Caribbean and the other major cruise lines are moving to soon allow passengers to board most voyages without COVID-19 shots and relax virus testing rules.”

FALLOUT— “Orlando Museum of Art interim director resigns, trustees also leave,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Matthew J. Palm: “Hours after the task force formed by the Orlando Museum of Art in the wake of this summer’s Basquiat scandal revealed multiple trustees would be leaving the institution’s board, the museum announced that interim executive director Luder Whitlock had resigned. Whitlock had come aboard just six weeks ago after the departure of director Aaron De Groft, who had brought the ‘Heroes & Monsters’ exhibition to the museum in February. That exhibition’s art, purportedly by Jean-Michel Basquiat, was seized by the FBI in June as part of a longtime investigation.”

— “‘This boy did not go bad. He was never right.’ Stoneman Douglas gunman didn’t fit in, neighbor says,” by South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Rafael Olmeda

— “Family, fellow officers, political leaders pay tribute to slain Miami-Dade officer,” by Miami Herald’s Natalia Galicza and Charles Rabin

— “Milton church secretary accused of stealing more than $164,000 from church, FDLE says,” by Pensacola News Journal’s Benjamin Johnson

— “David Beckham needs one more vote for soccer stadium. Miami’s airport has concerns,” by Miami Herald’s Joey Flechas and Douglas Hanks 

BIRTHDAYS: Former Tallahassee Democrat publisher Skip Foster … POLITICO’s Gary Fineout

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