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 several proposed constitutional amendments. The following are items of political interest from the past week:
JOHN OLIVER WEIGHS IN ON FELON VOTING
John Oliver of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” urged Florida viewers to support a proposed constitutional amendment that would restore the voting rights of most felons who have completed their sentences, and in doing so, lampooned two other people sharing the ballot: Gov. Rick Scott, who’s running for U.S. Senate, and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis.
Scott and the three-member independently elected Cabinet can restore felon voting rights, but the process is slow and there are more than a million Floridians whose voting rights have been taken away.
His predecessor, Gov. Charlie Crist, set up a process for automatic restoration of voting rights, but Scott reversed it as one of his first actions after taking office in 2011.
Oliver called the process under Scott “absolutely insane,” particularly when most states automatically restore voting rights once felons complete their sentences. The Florida amendment would make exceptions for murders and people who commit violent sex crimes.
In the 13-minute segment, the comedian called out Scott for repeatedly saying that the decision to restore rights is arbitrary, showing video of him say, “There’s absolutely no standards, so we can make any decisions we want.”
He then showed Patronis repeatedly asking people, “Do y’all go to church.”
Neither Scott’s campaign nor his official office would comment on the show.
Patronis campaign spokeswoman Katie Strickland said only, “It was silly.”
WHERE TO STASH THE CASH
Democratic agriculture commissioner candidate Nikki Fried has had two banks close her accounts because of her support of medical marijuana and donations she’s receiving from the industry.
While she held a conference call with U.S. Rep. and former Gov. Charlie Crist to push for a federal law to allow banks to accept legitimate medical marijuana businesses as customers, she also is proposing a solution on the state side.
Fried wants to create a state bank controlled by the Cabinet that can be used by the medical marijuana industry and its customers to avoid cash-only transactions.
“We can take dollars from the companies and the patients and it can be housed in one location.”
President Donald Trump and Gov. Rick Scott have been friends for years and Trump publicly urged Scott to run this year for U.S. Senate.
But Scott has kept his distance from Trump since he jumped into the race to challenge U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. Scott, for example, skipped a high profile campaign rally Trump held in Tampa in late July and instead attended a fundraiser in nearby Clearwater.
Now Nelson is trying his best to remind Hispanic voters, however, that the two men are linked together.
Nelson’s campaign started airing a Spanish language ad this week entitled “Amigos” that features a photo of a smiling Trump and Scott taking a selfie. The ad states that “tell me who you hang out with, and I will tell you who you are” and contends that if he’s elected, Scott will “do what Trump wants.”
Just two days after Nelson’s campaign started airing the ad, Scott pushed back with his own Spanish language ad.
The opening line of Scott’s ad? “When I don’t agree with what President Trump does or says, I’ve said it. My only commitment is with you.”