As Ian Bore Down on Florida, Political Barbs Continued

Storm didn't stop campaign ads from DeSantis, Demings, Rubio
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 29, 2022 10:26 AM CDT
As Ian Bore Down on Florida, Political Barbs Continued
This satellite image taken at 12:01am ET on Wednesday shows the eye of Hurricane Ian approaching the southwest coast of Florida.   (NOAA via AP)

On the one hand, seeing political ads on TV as a major storm rages outside your window might be a welcome distraction. Or, maybe you won't be in the mood to watch election-season nastiness as your roof shingles are getting ripped off by the wind. Apparently, several Florida politicians banked on the former, continuing to run their commercials ahead of November as Ian, downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm early Thursday, battered the Sunshine State. And it was a bipartisan push: Among those opting to keep their Election 2022 commercials going were Gov. Ron DeSantis and Sen. Marco Rubio, both Republicans, and Democrat Val Demings, who's seeking to unseat Rubio (Politico notes Demings did pull her ads in Tampa and Fort Myers, where the storm was on track to wreak the most havoc).

The Tampa Bay Times notes that Democrat Charlie Crist, who's challenging DeSantis for the governor's mansion, yanked his political ads in not only Tampa and Fort Myers, but also Orlando and Jacksonville—though he did opt to keep them running along the eastern coast of South Florida, such as in Miami and West Palm Beach, where Politico reports there've still been tornadoes cropping up thanks to Ian. Staying the campaign course during such extreme weather events appears to speak to a shift on the political landscape in recent years, pollster and campaign consultant Steve Vancore tells Politico. "There once was a time when there was a natural disaster that everyone would drop everything, at least for a few minutes," he says. "Those norms are out of the window."

Writing for the Orlando Sentinel, Scott Maxwell notes that the shift seems to have emerged during the 2018 campaign season in Florida, when DeSantis was vying for the governor's seat against Democrat Andrew Gillum as Hurricane Michael drew near. Gillum's team pulled their candidate's ads, but DeSantis decided to "stick with our plan." "And guess what? DeSantis won," Maxwell writes. This time around, DeSantis kept up his attacks against Crist, "presumably under the belief that, even if people complain, they’re still influenced." Still, Vancore, who describes himself as an "old-school" consultant who's worked for both Democrat and nonpartisan candidates, tells Politico he would err on the side of "sensitivity" during such major challenges from Mother Nature. "You shouldn't be advertising or campaigning when people are struggling," he advises. (More Florida stories.)

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