Florida Gov. Rick Scott has had more airtime on local and national channels than probably any other governor as Hurricane Michael barrels toward the Florida Panhandle, The New York Times reported.
Democratic Florida Sen. Bill Nelson — who Scott is challenging for his Senate seat — and Democratic Mayor of Tallahassee Andrew Gillum have also capitalized off Michael, addressing the public over print, radio and television news.
The state’s leaders are often on camera warning residents of the storm’s destructive power. Scott warned Floridians along the coast Tuesday of the power of the storm surge that Michael will bring. “You cannot survive this,” the Republican said. “No one is going to survive if you get 7, 10 [feet of storm surge]. You’re not going to survive this. Don’t take a chance.” (RELATED: ‘You Cannot Survive This’: Rick Scott Issues Dire Warning Ahead Of Hurricane Michael)
Gillum, running to replace Scott as governor, has personally assisted on the ground efforts, such as filling and stacking sandbags, across Tallahassee to prepare for the hurricane.
Gillum was widely criticized for his handling of Hurricane Hermine in 2016. The recovery was fraught with partisan fighting between Scott and himself. The city of Tallahassee turned down the help of hundreds of extra utility workers over concerns the outside crews would cause “safety issues” being unfamiliar with the city’s grid, an excuse that some saw as disingenuous, Politico reported at the time.
In preparation for Hurricane Michael, Gillum has brought in crews of outside medical and utility workers in order to start rescue and recovery operations as soon as possible after the storm passes.
Nelson has used Michael’s news cycle to criticize Scott’s handling of past hurricanes, which Scott has answered by accusing Nelson of “politicizing hurricane recovery,” according to TheNYT.
“It’s a chance to show leadership, but it’s also a chance to fail at leadership,” former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory told TheNYT. “People are observing the littlest of things — how you dress, how you pronounce things, your passion, your empathy — and you’re being evaluated moment by moment.”
McCrory went into disaster recovery mode shortly before he lost his re-election bid for governor in 2016. After Hurricane Mathew hit the state in October 2016, McCrory’s poll numbers improved as he dealt with recovery — one of few bright spots during his tenure.
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