Express Lane: MES despicable racist TV Ad, DeSantis doesn’t return dirty Khawaja money, continued controversy in the Tallahassee Mayors Race, Dems being clobbered in Central Florida Early Voting

State Senator Annette Taddeo, the Democratic Nominee for Florida’s 27th Congressional District, is hosting press conference today alongside leaders in the Black community following false attacks from María Elvira Salazar and her GOP allies in a television campaign ad claiming a community meeting Senator Taddeo attended in her official capacity as a state senator at Second Baptist Church in 2018 was a “socialist gathering”.

Salazar, the former TV news anchor has been resorting to all sorts of sensationalist claims about Taddeo in the last month – some have been truly bizarre, but this one is perhaps the most slanderous because it introduces full-on racism to the contest. “Socialism” is a code word for race in many Miami-Dade circles. Given the composition of the gathering at issue, its nature being referred to as “socialist,” can only mean one thing.

A recent report from The Miami Herald reveals that Governor Ron DeSantis never returned hundreds of thousands in dirty money that even fellow GOPers called on him to return 4 years agoAhmad “Andy” Khawaja – who owns an e-commerce website with a client list that includes a debt collector that demanded payments from people who never took out loans, an offshore gambling company, porn websites, and a phone-sex business that served men with diaper and rape fantasies – was one of DeSantis’ largest donors at the time.

Now a fugitive living abroad and fighting extradition, Khawaja, who donated $213,000 to DeSantis, has been charged with making illegal straw donations. Neither the DeSantis campaign nor the Friends of Ron DeSantis PAC ever returned or gave away Khawaja’s contributions — even after the Justice Department indicted Khawaja and eight others for conspiracy to conceal excessive campaign contributions. DeSantis is sitting on $100 million in his campaign account, why does he need this $213,000 so badly.

For those who missed it, the Tallahassee Mayor’s race has ZERO ambiguity as to the partisan lines. Yes, Mayor John Dailey is a (nominal) Democrat and in the interest of full disclosure, yes this site made Kristin Dozier our earliest endorsement of the 2022 election cycle because of the importance of this contest.

Florida Dems Chair Manny Diaz recently endorsed Dailey, something very unfortunate especially given Diaz’s smart endorsements in other local races around the state (we’re going to get more into this Sunday, Diaz has made some very good choices outside of Tallahassee, but alas this may totally undo those smart picks).

But the GOP in Leon County also believes re-electing Mayor Dailey is a priority. Check out this mailer from the local party.

For Leon County GOPers, defeating Dozier is more important than re-electing Ron DeSantis! Thankfully, Leon County Democrats have finally endorsed Dozier, in direct repudiation of the FDP Chair’s unfortunate misstep in this critical race.

Democratic turnout in Seminole and Orange Counties continues to underwhelm, making it more likely the buffonish Jason Brodeur, survives a challenge from Joy Goff-Marcil. Democrats and affiliated advocacy organizations need a strong push this weekend to reverse a trend which has seen the GOP take a projected five-point lead among ballots already cast in the state in Early Voting (Democrats lead VBM by about three points, so statewide it’s probably about net +2 GOP, but keep in mind the big GOP surge usually comes Election Day). The key reasons for this are underwhelming Democratic turnout in Duval, Miami-Dade, Seminole and Orange counties as well as some sort of sluggishness in Broward. Only Palm Beach, Hillsborough and Pinellas are performing to expectations thus far for Democrats among large urban counties in the state.

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