'I really don't think he has done a great job': COVID-19 puts Florida at risk for Trump

By Michael Finnegan, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Political News

The virus has killed nearly 13,800 people in Florida, 739 of them here in Pinellas County on the Gulf Coast near Tampa.

"It's really kind of a serious issue for a lot of people," said Thomas Eldon, a Democratic pollster in Florida. "They just want to live."

During the six days Skalka spent fighting for her life at Northside Hospital in late June, no visitors were allowed at her bedside. Her husband, Arnold, tested positive but never got sick.

Skalka, a retired administrative assistant to an insurance agent, hasn't hugged her grandchildren since February. Apart from a Mother's Day greeting - "we couldn't touch" - on her front porch here in an "over 55" complex, she hasn't seen them.

"I'm still recuperating," she said. "We're here, almost in October, and I'm still not myself. It's very scary."

Pinellas County, which includes St. Petersburg and its suburbs, tends to side with the winner in presidential races, including Trump and his predecessor, Barack Obama.


A predominantly white county with an abundance of retirees from the Midwest, it is split almost evenly among Democrats, Republicans and independents. Like suburban areas nationwide, it has tilted toward Democrats during Trump's presidency.

Statewide, both Trump and Biden are trying to maximize turnout of staunch partisans. For Trump, that means mobilizing white rural and blue-collar voters, especially men, many of them in northern counties culturally akin to the Deep South.

Trump is also counting on strong support from Cubans, Venezuelans, Nicaraguans and Colombians who like his bashing of socialism. Barbara Lagoa, a Cuban American federal appellate judge from Florida, is among the women he is considering to replace Ginsburg.

Trump's opposition to abortion rights and inflammatory rhetoric on gun rights and illegal immigration resonate with many evangelical Christians and other social conservatives around the state.


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