St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes released a new ad Thursday touting his successful legislative effort to give patients more options in to fight terminal diseases.
The new ad, titled “Right to Try,” features St. Petersburg osteopathic physician Rob Proiettospeaking about Brandes’ role in passing a 2015 bill that authorized the use of experimental treatments and medications for terminally ill patients.
Though Gov. Rick Scott signed the House version of the bill into law, Brandes was instrumental in shepherding the Senate companion, SB 1052, through its committee stops.
“For a long time, patients fighting a life-threatening illness were also fighting a system that wouldn’t give them a chance,” Proietto says in the ad. “That’s why Jeff Brandes passed Florida’s ‘Right to Try’ law. Now, eligible patients with a serious medical condition can get access to experimental drugs or clinical trials.
“Critically ill patients have the right to try because Jeff Brandes is keeping hope alive,” Proietto concludes.
A narrator then says, “Giving patients the right to choose the treatment they need. Jeff Brandes for state Senate.”
Specifically, the “Right to Try” law allows dying patients to access experimental medical treatments that have passed a Phase One Clinical Trial but have not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
“Floridians deserve to have access to medical treatments that could extend or improve the quality of their lives,” Brandes said of the proposal in 2015. “It often takes three years or longer for medications to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration. We can save lives by speeding up access to these treatments for patients who don’t have other options available, and I look forward to strong bipartisan support of this legislation.”
The new ad was paid for by Brandes’ campaign account, though as of Thursday afternoon no details of the media buy backing it up had been posted by the Federal Communications Commission.
Brandes, a lifelong resident of St. Pete, is running for his final term in the Florida Senate. He was first elected to the Senate in 2012, but due to redistricting has been forced to run for re-election every two years since taking office. He was also a member of the Florida House from 2010 through 2012.
This year, he faces Democratic challenger Lindsay Cross, an environmental scientist who recently resigned as executive director of the Florida Wildlife Corridor to run for the SD 24 seat. Cross was recruited after the Florida Democratic Party’s first pick, Carrie Pilon, withdrew due to the unexpected health problems of a close family member.
Since entering the race, Cross has failed to gain traction in fundraising, have raised just $58,588 through the end of last month with $54,121 in the bank.
By comparison, Brandes has raised $822,170 in hard money, including $300,000 in self-funding, and had $525,000 in his campaign account on Aug. 31. He also had more than $375,000 at his disposal in his affiliated political committee, Liberty Florida, on Sept. 7.
SD 24 covers most of southern Pinellas County except for the tip of the peninsula, which is included in neighboring SD 19. According to the most recent bookclosing report published by the Florida Division of Elections, Republicans hold a 4-point advantage in voter registrations within the district, which voted in favor of Barack Obama twice before going plus-7 for Donald Trump in 2016.
A recent poll of the race showed Brandes with a 39-19 percent lead over Cross with 42 percent of those polled unsure of who they’ll vote for come Election Day.