Storm Michael: Midterm campaigning in disarray after Florida governor declares state of emergency

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    Florida has declared a state of emergency in anticipation of Tropical Storm Michael which is due to hit the US coast next week. The cyclone has already affected some of the campaign trails of the 2018 midterm election hopefuls.

    On Sunday, Republican Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in 26 counties in the Florida Panhandle and in Big Bend, ahead of Tropical Storm Michael, which is now making its way through the Gulf of Mexico. Fearing that the natural calamity could become a Category 2 hurricane with winds up to 100 mph by the time it makes landfall next Wednesday, Scott has mobilized some 500 National Guard troops to assist with planning and logistics. An additional 5,500 guard members could be available for deployment if needed.

    “Our state understands how serious tropical weather is and how devastating any hurricane or tropical storm can be,” Scott said. “As we continue to monitor this storm’s northward path toward Florida, it is critically important that our communities have every available resource to keep everyone safe and prepared.”

    As of Sunday evening, Storm Michael, packing winds of 60 mph, was moving north at 5 mph just east of Cozumel, a Mexican island in the Caribbean, the National Hurricane Center reported. Wind speeds are expected to gain momentum over the next two days with the cyclone expected to “become a hurricane Monday night or Tuesday,” the center noted in its advisory.

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    The Democratic nominee for governor, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, was forced to cancel his planned campaign stops in South Florida on Monday and Tuesday, deciding to stay in the city instead to help with storm preparations. GOP nominee Ron DeSantis, who hopes to replace term-limited Gov. Scott, has yet to follow suit but did announce that he will be “redirecting” Panhandle campaign staff to help “prepare their communities ahead of the storm.”

    Gov. Scott, who will be running for a Senate seat, also suspended his campaign activity for the “next few days,” his spokesperson told CNN. His Democratic rival, Sen. Bill Nelson has not yet announced any alteration to his campaign plans.

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