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Social media and all green: The week in Florida politics

November 3, 2018

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 12 proposed constitutional amendments. Here are items of political interest from the past week.

SOCIAL MEDIA ADVANTAGE?

OK, so retweets and Facebook likes aren’t votes, but a candidate’s social media presence can be a sign of support. In the race for governor, Democratic Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum has a clear social media advantage over Republican former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis.

Gillum’s Twitter campaign account has more than 427,000 followers, compared to the more than 91,000 followers on DeSantis’ campaign account. While DeSantis has more than 243,000 Twitter followers on the account set up for his congressional office, the account was deactivated when he resigned his seat Sept. 10. While Gillum still has an official account for the mayor’s office, it only has 1,598 followers.

Gillum has nearly 203,000 people who follow his campaign Facebook page, compared to nearly 147,000 people who follow the DeSantis campaign page.

In the U.S. Senate race, Republican Gov. Rick Scott has a clear advantage over Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson when comparing Twitter campaign accounts. The Scott campaign has more than 50,000 followers, while the Nelson campaign has a little more than 13,000 followers.

But when it comes to their official government accounts, Nelson tops Scott with 369,000 followers compared to 209,000 for the governor.

On Facebook, the Scott campaign account dominates over Nelson, with more than 237,000 people following his political page. Nelson’s campaign page has only 34,000 followers.

But when it comes to official government Facebook pages, nearly 236,000 people follow Nelson’s Senate page, while Scott’s office doesn’t have a Facebook page.

GREENE HANDS OUT THE GREEN — BUT NOT AS MUCH

Billionaire Jeff Greene boasted about the help he’s giving Democrats up and down the ballot, but it’s a fraction of what he promised to spend had he won the nomination for governor.

Greene spent nearly $36 million of his own money on the primary, only to come in fourth. Before losing, he set up a political committee and stocked it with $5 million that he said he’d spend to help other Democrats if he were the nominee. Immediately after the election, he took the money back.

This week, he sent out a press release saying he contributed $100,000 to help Democratic nominee for governor Andrew Gillum, $100,000 for a political committee supporting Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and $25,000 for a committee backing Democratic agriculture commissioner nominee Nikki Fried.

THE FINAL TALLY

When Florida’s campaign for governor started, Andrew Gillum and Ron DeSantis were far behind their rivals in raising money for their campaigns.

The final campaign finance reports show, however, the two main candidates raised more than $100 million altogher, between their regular campaign accounts and their political committees. Much of that money flowed in after the August primary.

DeSantis raised nearly $54 million, while Gillum hauled in nearly $53 million.

Gillum, who upset other candidates to win the Democratic primary, has received backing from some well-known billionaires such as investor George Soros who has given $1.2 million in the last 18 months. Gillum has also received $2.8 million from the group formed by hedge fund billionaire Thomas Steyer.

Gillum also got $7.5 million from the Democratic Governors Association.

The Republican Governors Association, meanwhile, gave $3 million directly to DeSantis’s political committee, but the group also independently spent money on ads aimed to boost DeSantis’s campaign.

Chicago hedge fund manager Kenneth Griffin donated $5.75 million to DeSantis, while Isaac and his wife Laura Perlmutter gave him $2.5 million. Isaac Perlmutter is the chairman of Marvel Entertainment.

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