Biden makes last-minute push in Miami — Online registration system crashes on final day — Second hurricane could hit Panhandle

Hello and welcome to Tuesday.

The daily rundown — Between Sunday and Monday, the number of Florida coronavirus cases increased by 1,415 (nearly 0.3 percent), to 717,874; total hospitalizations went up 66 (0.1 percent), to 44,775; deaths rose by 41 (nearly 0.3 percent), to 14,712.

Hello stranger — It’s been more than a year since Democratic nominee Joe Biden was in Miami. But the question is whether it’s too late for him to make up for lost time and lost ground.

Busy day — With less than a month before Election Day, Biden touched down in Miami-Dade County on Monday and held events with Haitians and Hispanics before wrapping it up with a town hall hosted by NBC News, with a largely friendly and supportive audience.

Warning signs — For much of the campaign, Miami Democrats have been sounding the alarm at Biden’s relatively tepid support among Democratic-leaning, non-Cuban Hispanic voters here and throughout Florida. The problem was compounded by Trump’s outsized support among Cuban Americans. Without a big winning margin and high turnout in populous Miami-Dade County, Biden would have little chance of winning the state.

In person — “People just need to see Biden in person and see he’s not the boogeyman he’s presented as in many WhatsApp chats in Miami,” Carlos Odio, a Miami native and co-founder of Equis Research told POLITICO. Odio’s firm polls and studies Latino voters in Florida and other battleground states. Biden pledged in Miami that he wouldn’t stay gone for long. “The bad news for you is I’m coming back,” he joked at the end of his speech in Little Haiti,

Caveat — While one new poll showed that Biden may be making up some ground, Guillermo Grenier, a Florida International University professor and pollster, warned that “these last-minute attempts are often ultimately futile.”

— WHERE’S RON? — Gov. DeSantis is expected to be in Tallahassee.

THE FIFTY: Governors and mayors have never mattered more to the future of the nation, and The Fifty, a new series from POLITICO, takes you inside the role they’re playing in the pandemic and more.

A message from Floridians for Affordable Rx:

For too many Floridians, prescription drugs are unaffordable, and that’s unacceptable. That’s why it’s time to take politics out of prescriptions and find real solutions to lower Rx costs for all Floridians. The key to lowering drug costs is through increased competition, not big government mandates on private-sector tools used to reduce costs. The independent pharmacy lobby’s special interest agenda undermines access to affordable prescription drugs. Learn more: Floridians for Affordable Rx

MIAMI BLUES — “Biden mounts late fight for Miami,” by POLITICO’s Sabrina Rodriguez and Marc Caputo: After months of dire warnings that Donald Trump is making gains in this liberal bastion, Joe Biden is finally listening to South Florida Democrats. For much of the campaign, Miami Democrats have been sounding the alarm at Biden’s relatively tepid support among Democratic-leaning, non-Cuban Hispanic voters here and throughout Florida. The problem was compounded by Trump’s outsized support among Cuban Americans. Without a big winning margin and high turnout in populous Miami-Dade County, Biden would have little chance of winning the state. So over the past two months, Biden’s campaign responded by embarking on a hiring spree in South Florida, giving more local-press interviews and, in combination with outside groups, pouring $23 million into TV commercials in the Miami media market, according to data from the tracking firm Advertising Analytics.

— “Joe Biden moves ahead of President Trump among Miami-Dade Hispanic voters, poll finds,” by Miami Herald’s David Smiley

— “Biden: South Florida Haitians can determine election outcome and Hispanic voters can ‘put nation on new path forward,’” by Sun Sentinel’s Anthony Man

— “Joe Biden blasts Donald Trump’s Cuba policy in Miami visit,” by Miami Herald’s David Smiley, Bianca Padro Ocasio and Jacqueline Charles

— “Trump allies tout Florida campaign as ‘well-oiled’ machine’ as Biden arrives in Miami,” by Sarasota Herald-Tribune’s John Kennedy

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at Jose Marti Gym, Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, in Miami.

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at Jose Marti Gym, Monday, Oct. 5, 2020, in Miami. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

TIMING IS EVERYTHING — “Florida voter registration system crashes on last day of filing,” by POLITICO’s Gary Fineout: Florida’s online voter portal crashed on the final day of registration, prompting Democrats to accuse Gov. Ron DeSantis and other Republican state officials of trying to suppress the vote less than a month before Election Day. Details: Secretary of State Laurel Lee said the site went down briefly Monday. The portal appeared to continue with problems and in the early evening was down again or moving slowly, possibly overwhelmed by people trying to access it.

Lawsuit coming? — The problems with the online portal prompted Democrats and other groups to call for extending Florida’s voter registration deadline. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz blasted Gov. Ron DeSantis and demanded that he extend the registration deadline to “make up for all the voters he’s disenfranchised” on the final day. Then, late Monday an attorney for the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law sent an email to the Department of State saying they “may be forced to consider other legal remedies” if the deadline wasn’t extended by one more day.

BACKLASH — “Florida AARP balks at Bloomberg attack ad targeting Trump,” by POLITICO’s Matt Dixon: AARP, the nation’s largest senior lobby, has distanced itself from a Florida attack ad aimed at Donald Trump and financed by New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg. AARP Florida, a non-profit advocacy group, issued a statement Monday saying it didn’t participate in the ad, which criticizes Trump’s push to repeal the Affordable Care Act and cites the group’s research. “AARP did not authorize or participate in the production of the advertisement targeting President Donald Trump,” AARP Florida State Director Jeff Johnson said in a statement. “AARP has a proud 34-year history of non-partisan voter engagement and does not endorse or oppose candidates, nor does AARP make contributions to political campaigns or candidates.”

SUBURBAN DISPATCH — “Will women voters turn Seminole blue in a presidential year” by Orlando Sentinel’s Annie Martin and Ryan Gillespie: “The suburban women of Seminole County may hold the keys to the White House and a slate of crucial state races. Women voters outnumber men by more than 26,000 and make up more than half of the electorate in the community just north of Orlando. That has helped transform Seminole, a once-reliable Republican stronghold, into one of the most important swing counties in the country’s most important swing state during this year’s presidential election. The gender gap is also visible on the ballot itself, as Democrats have fielded female candidates in the contests for each of the county’s four seats in the Florida Legislature — one Senate race and three House races, each of which pits a Democratic woman against a Republican man in showdowns that could tilt the balance of power in Tallahassee.”

HOME IS WHERE? — “Where does a candidate live? State election laws are vague on what defines residency,” by Orlando Sentinel’s Martin E. Comas: “Daisy Morales, a Democratic candidate for the Florida House, claims a homestead exemption on a house she owns outside the Orange County district she is running to represent. Jason Brodeur, a Republican candidate for the Florida Senate, owns a home with his wife in Tallahassee, where they claim a homestead exemption more than 250 miles from the Seminole County district he seeks to represent.”

NEW FLORIDA POLL HAS BIDEN UP — The University of North Florida released a new Florida poll on Tuesday that found Democratic nominee Joe Biden with a slight lead over President Donald Trump of 51 percent to 45 percent. The Public Opinion Research Lab at UNF surveyed likely voters last week after the presidential debate. The poll was done online by 3,142 registered voters who were emailed and asked to respond. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.8 percent.

And GOP underwater — The same UNF poll found that Trump as well as Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott had job approval ratings of less than 50 percent. Trump had a job approval rating of 46 percent, while Scott was at 45 percent and Rubio was at 46 percent. DeSantis had a 47 percent job approval rating. The poll also showed that several constitutional amendments could be headed to defeat. Sixty percent of voters must vote yes on an amendment for it pass. A proposal to raise Florida’s minimum wage to $15 an hour had 60 percent support (so inside 1.8 percent margin of error), while only 41 percent of those surveyed support an effort to make it harder to pass constitutional amendments. A measure to overhaul Florida’s primary elections has just 58 percent support.

CAMPAIGN ROUNDUP — In the race for Florida’s 15th congressional district, Democrat Alan Cohn’s new spot warns that Republican Scott Franklin “supports tax cuts for corporations and fellow millionaires” and touts Cohn’s investigative journalism career…. GOP Rep. Brian Mast features a survivor of sexual assault in the Air Force praising his work to bring her rapist to justice in this ad in the race for Florida’s 18th congressional district …. Mast’s ad comes out just as Democratic challenger Pam Keith is hitting Mast with an ad that goes after him for recently discovered comments he made about rape and underage girls on Facebook. The ad includes a picture of Jeffrey Epstein that turns into a picture of Mast.

2020 BY THE NUMBERS — So far, 571,872 vote-by-mail ballots have been cast in the November election, according to the latest information on the state Division of Elections website. Of those, 306,107 have come from Democrats and 157,978 have come from registered Republicans. Overall, there are 4.78 million mail ballots requested but not yet returned. Of those, 2.14 million are held by Democrats and nearly 1.52 million are with Republicans.

— “Florida justice vote draws little attention,” by News Service of Florida’s Jim Saunders

— “Buchanan, Good tout differing polls in race for Florida congressional seat,” by Christopher O’Donnell

WELCOME BACK — “Thousands of students and teachers return to Miami classrooms as COVID lingers,” by Miami Herald’s Colleen Wright, Monique O. Madan, David Goodhue and Joey Flechas: “More than 22,000 students across the nation’s fourth-largest school district returned to classrooms Monday morning for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic upended life in the spring, forcing teachers and pupils in Miami-Dade County Public Schools to teach and learn online from home. Students in pre-K, kindergarten and first grade, as well as students with disabilities on a modified curriculum, were part of the first wave in the district’s staggered reopening plan. Another 40,000 students, including all elementary students plus sixth, ninth and 10th-graders, are expected to return Wednesday.”

BACKUP — “Top Florida Republicans push back against ‘narrative’ Trump reckless on COVID,” by Palm Beach Post’s Antonio Fins: “Hours before he returned to the White House from the hospital, two top Florida Republicans sought to beat back fallout from President Trump’s coronavirus infection during a campaign call Monday. GOP Florida party chairman Joe Gruters pushed back against suggestions that the president’s events were not following coronavirus guidelines. He said he attended the Sept. 25 Latinos for Trump event at Trump National in Doral and said attendees wore masks and chairs were spaced six feet apart.”

— “Jeanette Nunez ‘would have felt comfortable’ in SUV with sick Donald Trump,” by Florida Politics’ A.G. Gancarski

— “Bobby Bowden compares his COVID-19 case to Trump: ‘I don’t get the treatment he gets,’” by Orlando Sentinel’s Mike Bianchi

— “Florida’s COVID-19 positivity rate below 5% for 12th straight day,” by Sun Sentinel’s David Fleshler

A message from Floridians for Affordable Rx:

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NEW INITIATIVE — “Step Up offers $1M for LGBTQ training at private schools,” by POLITICO’s Andrew Atterbury: Florida’s preeminent scholarship funding organization is partnering with Equality Florida to offer LGBTQ awareness training at the more than 2,800 private schools across the state. The move, which pairs Step Up for Students with the state’s leading LGBTQ rights group, comes after a legislative session during which vouchers drew scrutiny from Democrats angered the anti-gay and anti-transgender policies of some private schools that receive the scholarships.

‘IRONY ABOUNDS’ — “State workers in Tallahassee gripped by fear, confusion as telework options ends,” by USA Today Network-Florida Capial Bureau’s James Call: “Workers at three state agencies in Tallahassee expressed confusion and trepidation after their supervisors said remote working options during the coronavirus pandemic have ended or will end soon. Employees of the Department of Economic Opportunity, the state’s jobs agency, were told Friday to report to their desks in the Caldwell Building downtown on Monday, Oct. 19. A request for comment with a DEO spokesperson is pending. ‘I’m scared to return to that building,” said one worker who requested anonymity. ‘They’re bringing us back in flu season. They are bringing us back when Trump gets COVID — irony abounds, I guess.’”

NOT AGAIN — “As Hurricane Delta brews in the Gulf, Pensacola braces for back-to-back hurricanes,” by Pensacola News Journal’s Kevin Robinson: “Just three weeks after Hurricane Sally flooded hundreds of area homes, another storm is bearing down on the Gulf Coast. Hurricane Delta is forecast to strike the coast somewhere between Louisiana and Panama City early Friday morning as a Category 2 hurricane. While it’s too early to predict exactly where Delta will make landfall, its track so far is very similar to Sally’s. Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson said in a press conference Monday morning that city and county officials expect our area to feel an impact from the approaching storm, and that there may be an emergency declaration as soon as Tuesday.”

NOPE — “U.S. Supreme Court turns down Irma nursing home case,” by News Service of Florida’s Jim Saunders: “The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to take up an appeal by a Broward County nursing home whose license was revoked after residents died following Hurricane Irma. As is common, justices did not explain their reasons for declining to hear the appeal by The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills, which contended that its due-process rights were violated. The nursing home filed a petition at the Supreme Court in June, after the state’s 4th District Court of Appeal turned down arguments that the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration improperly revoked the license.”

ADD IT UP — “Duke puts storm costs at $146 million,” by News Service of Florida’s Jim Saunders: “Duke Energy Florida is asking state regulators to approve $145 million in costs stemming from preparations for last year’s massive Hurricane Dorian and restoring power after a much-smaller tropical storm. The request, filed last week, came after the Florida Public Service Commission in February allowed Duke to begin collecting $171.3 million on an interim basis because of estimated costs associated with Dorian and Tropical Storm Nestor.”

GETTING DEEPER — “Feds: Elected prosecutor stole nearly $1 million, bribed defendants, attorneys,” by Florida Times-Union’s Andrew Pantazi: “The federal investigation of former Lake City State Attorney Jeff Siegmeister, which began due to allegations he was bribing defendants, has turned toward new allegations that Siegmeister swindled and stole $985,000 from an elderly man. A federal forfeiture complaint last week detailed part of the federal investigation as prosecutors attempt to take Siegmeister’s home. While the complaint didn’t say what stage the bribery investigation was in, it said the FBI has investigated Siegmeister since the summer of 2018 for an alleged bribery scheme where ‘he solicited money or things of value from defendants and their attorneys in exchange for favorable prosecution.’ While investigating the alleged bribery, FBI agents came across what they describe as a scheme to defraud an elderly man.”

COMPENSATION — “Judge orders damages of nearly $1.5 billion for family of kidnapped Florida FBI agent Levinson,” by Florida Phoenix’s Lucy Morgan: “U.S. District Judge Timothy J. Kelly has ordered the Islamic Republic of Iran to pay $1.457 billion in damages to the family of former Florida FBI Agent Robert Levinson, who was kidnapped by Iranian officials in 2007 and apparently died in captivity. He was the longest held civilian hostage in American history when his family reported his death earlier this year. The judge’s order, signed late last week, orders the Iranian government to pay Levinson, his wife, Christine, and their seven children a total of $1.457 billion in compensatory and punitive damages as punishment for “outrageous behavior” and to deter such conduct in the future.”

A message from Floridians for Affordable Rx:

It’s time to stand up to special interest lobbies trying to increase prescription drug costs for Florida families. Florida’s independent pharmacies claim that they’re struggling, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, small businesses around the country were forced to close, while there were 20 more independent pharmacies in the state. In fact, there are 13 percent more independent pharmacies in Florida today than there were 10 years ago. In fact, there are 13 percent more independent pharmacies in Florida today than there were 10 years ago. Florida needs a competitive marketplace to reduce Rx costs, not special-interest-backed legislative mandates that restrict the tools used by pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) to reduce Floridians’ prescription drug costs. It’s time for the independent pharmacies lobby to come to the table with real solutions to lower Rx costs in Florida.

Presented by Floridians for Affordable Rx. Learn More.

— “Principal who made Holocaust comments may be rehired this week,” by Sun Sentinel’s Austen Erblat: “A former Boca Raton principal could be rehired this week after a judge concluded he shouldn’t have been fired over remarks about the Holocaust that drew national attention. William Latson was fired from his position at Spanish River High School in October 2019, and the Palm Beach County School Board on Wednesday will vote whether to reinstate him and if he’s eligible for back pay.”

BIRTHDAYS: State Sen. Kevin Rader … Joe Follick, director state communications The Foundation for Excellence in Education … Jon Ausman, former Leon County DEC chairman

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