Dems blast 'toxic agenda' as Republicans rally the MAGA base in Florida
Gage Skidmore

With Republicans a handful of seats away from winning the U.S. House and potentially the Senate, Republican National Committee (RNC) Chair Ronna McDaniel and Florida Republican U.S. Sen. Rick Scott appeared at a get-out-the-vote-rally outside of Tampa on Tuesday, just three weeks from Election Day.

“We are going to fire (U.S. House Speaker) Nancy Pelosi,” McDaniel said to cheers inside the RNC Hispanic Community Center packed with local Republicans located inside a strip mall in Carrollwood, an unincorporated area of Hillsborough County. The RNC has designed 21 such community centers around the country this year as part of their effort to cultivate the Latino vote.

“(Senate Majority Leader) Chuck Schumer’s gotta go,” added Scott, who is the chairman this year of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, charged with getting a majority of Senate Republicans elected next month.

Scott and McDaniel are part of a team of Republicans traveling around the country to rally the GOP base. And because the balance of Congress is already close, Republicans don’t need to win that many seats to take outright control of the U.S. House and potentially the Senate next year.

And the national trends that traditionally favor the party out of power in a midterm elections — with the possible exception of the abortion issue — are moving their way as early voting and vote-by-mail is already taking place in parts of the country, including in Florida.

Inflation continues to rise, according to the latest Consumer Price Index report released last week, and President Joe Biden’s average approval rating is only at 43% currently, according to the Real Clear Politics average. That’s lower going into this midterm than Bill Clinton’s 46% approval ratings by Gallup in 1994, when Republicans won 54 seats in the House and eight in the Senate.

McDaniel said the GOP needs to take just five seats to win back the House from Democrats, and after Gov. Ron DeSantis had his redistricting map approved by the Florida Legislature this spring, several of those seats could be in Florida. (That map is now being challenged in state court by a number of voting rights groups, including the League of Women Voters of Florida.)

Among those appearing at the press conference were Tampa Bay area congressional candidates Anna Paulina Luna, Laurel Lee and James Judge.

Luna is running in Florida’s 13th Congressional District, which has been dramatically reconfigured this year from a Democratic-leaning seat to one that strongly favors Republicans. According to redistricting analyst MCI Maps, CD 13 went from a Biden + 4 district in 2020, to a Trump + 7, using voting records from the 2020 election.

Luna said that as an Air Force veteran and a Mexican-American, she’s “everything” that the Democrats and the media “don’t want us to be.”

“I’m smart. I’m a veteran. But more importantly, I represent one of the largest voting minorities in the country, which is Hispanic Americans who will be voting Republican this November,” she said.

Lee, the former Secretary of State in Florida, is running in Florida’s 15th Congressional District (which encompasses parts of Pasco, Hillsborough and Polk counties) against Democrat Alan Cohn.

James Judge, a Coast Guard veteran and Tampa businessman, is facing Democrat Kathy Castor in Florida’s 14th Congressional District, which includes Hillsborough and now a part of eastern Pinellas County.

Republican Party of Florida Chairman Joe Gruters spoke confidently that Florida Republicans are going to have a big win at the ballot box next month, and predicted that for the first time ever, the GOP will have a supermajority of members in the state Senate. Republicans currently have a 23-16 lead with one vacancy currently; 27 members would make for a supermajority, which would allow them to override vetoes from the governor.

And Gruters noted how when DeSantis narrowly defeated Democrat Andrew Gillum in a 2018 race so close it required an automatic machine recount, there were 260,000 more Democrats than Florida Republicans registered in the state. Gruters said that by Election Day, the GOP advantage over the Democrats will be at 300,000. The Florida Division of Elections reported that there are more than 292,000 registered Republicans than Democrats, as of Sept.30.

The Democratic National Committee released a statement labeled “Republicans Take Their Extreme Agenda on the Road,” and referred to Scott’s controversial blueprint for Republicans called “Rescue America” that he unveiled earlier this year. That plan includes potentially sunsetting Medicare and Social Security.

“We’re thankful voters across the country will hear directly from Republican leadership about their party’s plans to jeopardize Social Security and Medicare, threaten doctors with jail time, and raise prescription drug prices,” said DNC spokesperson Ammar Moussa. “Every Republican campaigning with McDaniel, Scott, and (National Republican Congressional Committee Chair Tom) Emmer is going to have to do some explaining about their support for this toxic agenda.”

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