Hurricane Michael spirals this week in Florida closely gubernatorial and Senate races, along with a chance for the candidates to make their hard-fought campaigns – or break.
Government Rick Scott (R), who battles Sen in the middle of a heated senate. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William Nelson Hurricane Michael runs to Florida races Senate goes home to campaign after deal with Trump nominees Dems struggles to mobilize latino voters for midterms MORE (D-Fla.) Is confronted with a core test of his leadership as a spearhead of rescue and recovery efforts.
Nelson is also in the spotlight; it is up to Congress to determine an aid package for the devastated state.
In the governor's race, the mayor of Tallahassee, Andrew Gillum (D), tries to prove that he can be plagued for months by Republican attacks on his way of dealing with Hurricane Hermine in response to Hurricane Hermine. That storm left his city for days without electricity.
Meanwhile, his opponent, former Rep. Ron DeSantisRonald Dion DeSantis Hurricane Michael participates in races in Florida Election Countdown: Florida candidates face new hurricane test | GOP optimistic about enlargement Senate majority | Top class Dems go to Iowa | Bloomberg returns to Dems | Trump leads to Pennsylvania rally Gillum knocks Trump: We need a partner, not someone who has cheap political shots & # 39; throws MORE (R-Fla.) Spent the days that preceded the landing of hurricanes, where emergency supplies were distributed and donations were requested for the Florida Disaster Fund.
Gillum and DeSantis are locked up in a heated race to replace the limited term Scott, with most public polls showing the Mayor of Tallahassee with one figure.
For the candidates, the hurricane offers both a political opportunity and a challenge.
A response that is experienced as successful has the power to increase the position of a candidate and to support his or her preference.
But any misstep can be politically dangerous in a tight race, feeding the attacks of opponents and asking questions about their ability to lead.
While natural disasters often call for bipartisan and temporary ceasefire in further bitter campaigns, there were signs that this year is different.
Breaking with a long-standing precedent, political groups continued to breathe ads through all of Michael's path – a habit normally perceived by the members of both parties as unpalatable.
The Republican party from Florida has announced two ads that attacked Gillum when the storm hammered the state on Wednesday.
And two super PACS, the Senate Majority PAC and the New Republican PAC, continued to broadcast ads that followed Scott and Nelson. Both groups started to get those ads out of the air at the end of Wednesday.
"We can not remember for a moment that candidates for the state office did not pull down negative ads during the hurricane season," Gillum said during a performance at MSNBC on Wednesday. "You have an entire region of our state, where people flee their lives, anticipating what is a life-threatening event that affects this state."
Natural disasters – and hurricanes in particular – have had a huge political weight in the past.
George W. Bush's much-planned reaction to hurricane Katrina in 2005 helped spark a so-called blue wave in 2006. Democrats took over the majority in the House and got five seats in the Senate.
Former New York head of government Chris Christie (R), on the other hand, received praise for his way of dealing with Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and his subsequent tour of storm damage with former President Obama.
That strengthened his approval classification and helped him in 2013 to an easy victory over Democrat Barbara Buono.
Scott has been a fixture for the preparation of hurricanes and reactions in Florida since he took office in 2010. In the days leading up to the landing of Hurricane Michael, the governor's senate campaign began to broadcast advertisements in which he cited his reaction to hurricanes Hermine and Matthew in 2016.
But furthermore, Scott has largely interrupted his campaign, while hurricane Michael has been playing a political strategy in itself, while he has crossed the panhandle over the past few days, met local officials and issued emergency briefings.
A day after the hurricane landed, Scott retired from a planned debate against Nelson that was deported Tuesday, explaining that he wanted instead to focus on rescue and recovery efforts. CNN, the network organizing the debate, announced shortly afterwards that it had agreed to postpone the event after discussing the issue with both campaigns.
"Because of the catastrophic destruction caused by Hurricane Michael, Governor Scott will focus solely on response and recovery," said Jackie Schutz Zeckman, Scott Campaign Manager, in an email Thursday. "Guarantee that Panhandle and Big Bend communities in Florida can rebuild and return to their homes and that jobs have the highest priority."
After the hurricane was hit by Irma last year, Scott's favorable score shot up.
A survey by the opinion polling firm Mason-Dixon revealed that two-thirds of Florida voters rated their storm handling as "excellent" or "good," while another 25 percent said it was "fair." Only 4 percent said they believed that his reaction was "bad," according to the poll.
But he was also confronted with a critical look at the death of 14 residents of a nursing home in Hollywood, Fla., Who lost his power. State officials said they were not aware of the danger to the residents.
Scott also has a powerful ally in it President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden: Trump is trashing American values & # 39; New York Times asks court to use search term for resignation for Cohen-raid Trump: "Robert E. Lee was a great general & # 39; MORE. During an appearance in Orlando on Monday, the president said his government was willing to coordinate with Scott while Michael left for Florida.
"As Hurricane Michael lands, we work with state and local officials in Florida to take all necessary precautions and we urge all residents to be prepared and respond to local officials," Trump said during a meeting for the international association of police chiefs. where he appeared next to Scott. "I told Rick Scott: & # 39; We're ready for you. & # 39;"
But Trump's blessing may also entail political risks for Scott, who attempted to keep the president at bay during his Senate campaign.
While Scott's reaction to Hurricanes Irma and Maria was generally judged positively last year, the Trump government was confronted with an intense investigation into how the storms in Puerto Rico were being handled.
If we were to appear too close to Trump, the Puerto Rican voters would be able to isolate in November that politicians in Florida, including Scott, were eagerly in court.
For his part, Nelson has traded in his role as a seated senator and joined several other lawmakers in the days before the hurricane struck by urging Trump to declare a state of emergency in several counties of Florida on the path of the storm.
He has requested donations for non-profit relief agencies and toured Thursday through wreckage in storm-affected areas.
"I am here to make sure that the federal government sends all the resources it needs and that it will cost a lot," said Nelson in an appearance on CNN, amidst a backdrop of stormwreck in Panama City Beach.
Just like Scott, Gillum probably gets the most attention after Hurricane Michael.
Tallahassee, the city that Gillum currently leads, was on the direct path of the storm and how he is addressing the immediate recovery efforts, will certainly be watched closely, especially after he has criticized the city's reaction to Hermine two years earlier.
Before the storm hit, Gillum announced that he would take his campaign ads from media markets on the path of the hurricane.
He placed photos on social media and had him fill sandbags with volunteers. And on Thursday, after the hurricane passed Florida, he pulled on a helmet and began cutting down chopped trees with a chainsaw to remove blocked roads.
Unlike Scott, Nelson and Gillum, DeSantis is without official responsibilities in the aftermath of the hurricane. He resigned in September so that he could concentrate on his campaign.
In the run-up to the storm, which caused at least 12 deaths in the south from Friday morning, DeSantis said that he had canceled his fundraisers and had modified planned rallies in emergency supply.
Since then, he has approached social media to request donations to the Florida Disaster Fund, the state's private fund that distributes money for recovery and recovery efforts for hurricanes.
When Hurricane Michael broke the state on Wednesday, DeSantis said his campaign had rented a trailer and was willing to use it to distribute deliveries in Northwest Florida after the storm was over.
"Once the storm is over, people get an idea of what's needed on the ground, and we'll drive it to wherever we are in northwest Florida," he said on Fox News. "I think this is the best way to help the effort."