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Early voting for general election to kick off in Florida

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Early voting is about to get under way in Florida.

More than 30 counties start early voting Monday, including several large counties such as Duval, Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, Orange and Palm Beach. Other counties start in the coming week.

Early voting will also be available for the first time on several college campuses. The administration of Gov. Rick Scott contended campus buildings could not be used for early voting, but that decision was challenged in federal court.

Election Day is Nov. 6.

Florida voters will be choosing a new governor between Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis. Outgoing Gov. Rick Scott is challenging U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in a race for U.S. Senate that could determine control of the U.S. Senate. Voters will also be asked to weigh on several proposed constitutional amendments.

Venomous caterpillar makes seasonal return to Florida

SPRING HILL, Fla. (AP) - A venomous caterpillar that masquerades as an adorable ball of fluff is making its way back to the Sunshine State.

According to Fox 13, the puss caterpillar can cause severe pain when it comes into contact with humans and animals. It's most active in the spring and fall.

Experts say the sting is similar to a bee, but worse.

A Spring Hill man was recently stung, and a couple in Hillsborough County said they found three in their yard.

The Florida Poison Control Center reports receiving a fair amount of calls about caterpillar bites on a yearly basis.

Doctors warn people not to touch the fuzzy creatures, and to keep them away from pets, too.

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Information from: WTVT-TV, http://www.wtvt.com/

Biden to headline campaign rally in Tampa

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Former Vice President Joe Biden will appear in Tampa for a campaign rally with the Democratic candidates for governor and U.S. Senate.

According to a news release from the Florida Democrats, Biden will attend a 'get out the vote' rally with Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who is running for governor, and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, who is running for a fourth term.

The rally will take place at the University of South Florida campus on Monday at noon.

Biden was in Nevada over the weekend to rally union members in Las Vegas to support U.S. Senate Jacky Rosen and other Democrats.

Biden, who has said he won't decide until at least 2019 whether he'll seek the presidency in 2020, has been keeping a presence in early voting states like Nevada.

Photos: Meghan Markle, Prince Harry tour Australia

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex began their 16-day tour of Australia and the South Pacific on Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018.

Canada earthquakes: 3 powerful quakes reported near Vancouver Island

Three powerful earthquakes struck late Sunday off the coast of British Columbia, Canada, near Vancouver Island, the U.S. Geological Survey is reporting.

According to the USGS, the first quake – magnitude 6.6 – hit about 10:39 p.m. PDT about 135 miles (218 kilometers) southwest of Port Hardy, Canada. It occurred at a depth of about 6.8 miles (11 kilometers).

>> Read more trending news 

Less than 40 minutes later, a second quake with a recorded magnitude of 6.8 struck nearby, about 122 miles (197 kilometers) southwest of Port Hardy. It occurred at a depth of about 6.2 miles (10 kilometers.)

A third 6.5-magnitude quake was reported at 11:22 p.m. PDT about 138 miles (223 kilometers) southwest of Port Hardy. Its depth was also about 6.2 miles (10 kilometers).

No damage or tsunami warnings have been reported.

Man charged with raping 10-year-old girl in Tennessee

A man is behind bars after police said he raped a 10-year-old girl in Memphis, Tennessee.

>> Watch the news report here

Francisco Rodriguez, 30, is charged with rape of a child. The alleged attack happened Saturday, police say.

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The arrest affidavit said the victim’s mother said she saw the man leave a room where he had been alone with the victim. When she went in to see her daughter, the girl was crying. The girl then said Rodriguez had raped her, police said. 

Rodriguez is due in court Monday.

Lions climb to .500 by beating Dolphins 32-21

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) - Caught from behind on a 71-yard run, Kerryon Johnson took some locker room ribbing, the kind that comes after a victory on the road.

Johnson rushed for 158 yards Sunday to help the Detroit Lions beat Miami 32-21. His teammates thought he should have had more, but safety Reshad Jones ran him down after the Lions' longest run in seven years.

"Look, since high school I've been caught from behind enough times for me to know that's how it happens in life," Johnson said. "But I haven't run 71 yards in a long time, so I was proud of myself."

The Lions (3-3) had lots of reasons to feel good after climbing to .500, their high-water mark so far this season. The Dolphins (4-3), by contrast, fell out of their first-place tie with New England in the AFC East.

Here are things to know about both teams:

GROUND GAME: The Lions netted 248 yards on the ground, their highest total since the Barry Sanders era in 1997, and averaged 7.1 per rush. The same team rushed for 39 yards in a season-opening loss to the New York Jets.

"When you go out and you can execute and do it the right way, it looks really good," coach Matt Patricia said. "We've seen it when it doesn't look so good."

For the first time this season, the Lions had more rushes than pass plays. Quarterback Matt Stafford was fine with that, given the results.

"It's incredible," he said. "Our guys up front dominated. They played great. I thought our receivers in the back end blocked well, and then obviously our backs were awesome. It was a lot of fun to watch them do their thing.

"I haven't been a part of too many of those, and it was a whole lot of fun."

STAFFORD'S STATS

When he did throw, Stafford was a model of efficiency. He went 18 for 22 for 217 yards with two scores and no turnovers for a season-high rating of 138.1.

Stafford had his fifth game in row with at least two touchdown passes and a 100 passer rating. He threw four interceptions in opener, but has only one since.

FURTHER DEPLETED

The injury-plagued Dolphins lost two more key players. Dynamic receiver Albert Wilson was sidelined in the first half, and receiver Kenny Stills limped to the locker room with a minute left.

Wilson's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said his client suffered a hip injury that appeared significant.

"I would say the best-case scenario is that he would miss a few weeks," Rosenhaus said during his weekly appearance on South Florida's WSVN-TV. "Worst-case scenario is he could possibly miss the rest of the season."

There won't be much time for any Dolphins to mend - they play Thursday at the Houston Texans (4-3), who earned their fourth consecutive victory Sunday by winning at Jacksonville.

"We'll figure something out," coach Adam Gase said. "It's going to be a short week, but at the same time we'll have enough guys to be ready to go."

RUSHING THE PASSER

Detroit defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois had two sacks and two quarterback hurries. He said he was effective, in part, because the Lions' ball-control attack allowed him to stay fresh by spending a lot of time on the sideline.

"I love the offense," Francois said. "I love when they are running that ball, passing, and you just keep hearing 'first down, first down, first down.' I'm a big fan of our offense. Our offense did their job, ate the clock, ran the ball, controlled the game."

MIAMI QBS

Brock Osweiler played well in his second start filling in for the injured Ryan Tannehill. Osweiler went 22 for 31 for 239 yards with two touchdowns and no turnovers.

Tannehill is nursing a sore throwing shoulder, and Gase declined to shed any light on his status for the Texans.

"I don't know yet because we haven't gotten that far yet," Gase said. "I was worried about today."

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More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/tag/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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Follow Steven Wine on Twitter: http://twitter.com/Steve_Wine.

Browns lose another close one, this time to Buccaneers

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Hue Jackson figured there was no way the Cleveland Browns were going to lose.

Not on a 59-yard field goal in overtime.

The coach was surprised the Tampa Bay Buccaneers even gave Chandler Catanzaro the opportunity, risking giving his team a shot to win with time running down in the extra period.

"I said there was no way he'd make that, and he did," Jackson said Sunday. "So they won."

The longest ever kick in OT barely cleared the cross bar, ending Tampa Bay's three-game losing streak.

Catanzaro missed an extra point in the first half and watched a potential game-winning 40-yard field goal sail wide right on the final play of regulation.

"I stuck to my same routine. The most important thing is not to try to change things too much," Catanzaro said. "I know I just left the first kick out there a little bit to the right, and I just needed to trust it. So, that's what I told myself."

The Bucs recovered Jabrill Peppers' fumble on a punt return near midfield, and Jameis Winston shrugged off sacks on consecutive plays before throwing 14 yards to DeSean Jackson to give Catanzaro a chance to win it.

The kicker was confident he would redeem himself.

"I think it's part of my DNA. I've always kind of found a way to bounce back," Catanzaro said. "I rarely miss two in a row. Even if it's from 59, I was just looking for a shot. If it was from 66, I would have tried it."

Baker Mayfield rallied the Browns (2-4-1) from a 14-point deficit, using Nick Chubb's 1-yard TD and a 16-yard scoring throw to Jarvis Landry to pull even.

The No. 1 overall draft pick completed 23 of 34 passes for 215 yards, two TDs and no interceptions.

The Browns defense scored a safety, forced four turnovers and sacked Winston four times.

It wasn't quite enough to get Cleveland over the hump in its fourth overtime game of the season.

"It's very frustrating any time you lose, especially because you could have done a lot of things better. That seems to be the moral of the season," Mayfield said, adding that he also was surprised the Bucs went for the 59-yarder at the end.

"I'm thinking if he doesn't make it, we're getting the ball at midfield, we have less than 20 yards until our kicker is in comfortable reaching distance," the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner said. "That's a great kick. You don't see that very often."

Some things to know about the Browns and Buccaneers:

WORKING OT

Cleveland has played four overtime games this season - most for a team since Arizona won all four it played in 2011, and tied for second-most in NFL history. The record is five in a season, set by Green Bay in 1983.

The Browns, 1-2-1 in OT this year, don't have a road victory since winning in overtime at Baltimore on Oct. 11, 2015.

The Detroit Lions also dropped 24 in a row away from home from 2001-03.

The next opportunity to end the skid is next Sunday at Pittsburgh.

BETTER 'D

Tampa Bay stopped a three-game losing streak that cost former defensive coordinator Mike Smith his job last week. The Bucs entered Sunday allowing a league-worst 34.6 points per game, ranked 31st in total defense, and dead last against the pass. They sacked Mayfield five times and allowed a season-low 305 yards in their debut under Smith's replacement, former linebackers coach Mark Duffner.

"Every win is different, but this one felt good," defensive end Carl Nassib said.

INCREASED WORKLOAD

Cleveland's decision to trade leading rusher Carolos Hyde to Jacksonville for a fifth-round draft choice was driven by a desire to give rookie Nick Chubb more touches and also get Duke Johnson, one of the team's top playmakers, more involved.

Chubb, who came in averaging 10.8 yards per carry, finished with 80 yards rushing on 18 attempts. He was targeted twice on passes, but did not have a catch.

"I thought he did well," Jackson said, noting the rookie also had one big gainer called back because of one of 14 penalties assessed the Browns.

"We had way too many penalties ... offensively and defensively," the coach said. "We have got to get that squared away."

FAMOUS JAMEIS

Winston completed 32 of 52 passes for 365 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions in his first home start since returning from serving a three-game suspension for violating the NFL's personal conduct penalty. He also led the Bucs in rushing with 55 yards on 10 attempts, including a 14-yard TD run to make it 16-2 midway through the second quarter.

"It's huge to get a big win, especially here (at home)," Winston said. "This is a tough league, so you get a win any way you possibly can get it. We can play better, especially myself. But when you win, everything is better."

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More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/tag/NFLfootball and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Bortles benched, Jaguars implode after 20-7 loss to Texans

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Blake Bortles is no longer Jacksonville's starting quarterback.

Whether he regains the job in the next week is anybody's guess.

Bortles fumbled on the team's third play of each half, leading to 10 points and his benching in a 20-7 loss to AFC South rival Houston on Sunday.

Coach Doug Marrone yanked Bortles after the second turnover - his eighth in three games - and gave former Cleveland starter Cody Kessler a shot.

Marrone gave no indication afterward if Bortles or Kessler would be under center when the reeling Jaguars (3-4) play a "home game" against Philadelphia (3-4) in London next week.

"It's open," Marrone said. "Who's the starter at right tackle? Who's the starter at center? Who's the starter at receiver? Who's the starter? Everything is open. We've lost three straight games and we can't stop shooting ourselves in the foot for lack of a better expression. ... We've got to do something, but the first thing we've got to do is stop turning the damn ball over. Period. That would be the positive of how we can build."

Jacksonville's third consecutive lopsided loss triggered quarterback indecision and heated commotion .

When the locker room doors opened for media members, Calais Campbell could be seen holding back fellow defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. It was carry-over from an emotional postgame that included screaming, shouting and finger pointing.

"You all walk in here, you all see how it is in here, you all see how we vibe with each other, you all see how we vibe toward the coaches, you all see how it is," cornerback Jalen Ramsey said. "It is no secret what's going on here right now. Ain't nobody going to say it because we can't. But it ain't no secret what's going on and it ain't right right now."

Ngakoue declined comment, as did safety Tashaun Gipson and cornerback A.J. Bouye.

Their silence spoke volumes for a team that appears to be in upheaval - a huge fall after starting the season with Super Bowl expectations.

"I don't speak on locker room business," linebacker Telvin Smith said. "Don't ask me locker room questions."

Not everyone ducked the obvious.

"Be frustrated. Be frustrated all week. Change something," defensive tackle Malik Jackson said. "Change something you need to do. We need to look ourselves in the mirror and just fix it. I can't sit here and tell you what we need to fix, what we need to do, what needs to be done. I don't know. I just know that we need to be where we're supposed to be and just . something needs to change."

The Texans (4-3) don't need to change anything after a fourth consecutive victory gave them a one-game lead in the division.

Deshaun Watson threw for a touchdown after making the 800-mile trip to Jacksonville on a private bus to avoid potential problems that flying and cabin pressure might pose to his bruised lung and injured ribs. Lamar Miller ran for 100 yards and a score . And the defense did the rest, forcing three turnovers and sacking Kessler four times.

Houston hosts Miami (4-3) on Thursday night.

"We were down and out and everybody was counting us out," Texans linebacker Whitney Mercilus said. "The thing is, we have guys on this team who understand that early on it doesn't matter. We just put our heads down and kept working and now we have to continue to do the same thing."

Here are some other things we learned about the Texans and Jaguars:

HAL STARTS

Texans safety Andre Hal, who returned to practice this week following treatment for Hodgkin's lymphoma, was in the starting lineup. Hal was diagnosed with the disease in May and immediately began treatment. He received the news of his remission last month. The game was emotional because his father, Andre Hal Sr., died Tuesday, a few days suffering a heart attack.

"This was good for my dad," Hal said. "He wanted me back on the field and I know he was watching me there today. ... People didn't really think I'd come back, but I knew I would come back. It was cool seeing everyone kind of show some love to me."

ONE-HANDED CATCH

DeAndre Hopkins won several one-on-one matchups against Ramsey. His best was a one-handed catch for 31 yards along the sideline in the first quarter.

"That catch at the beginning of the game really got us going," Texans coach Bill O'Brien said. "He made some big plays for us. That's Hop."

ANOTHER SHUTOUT

The Jaguars failed to score in the first half for the third straight week, the first time they've done that in franchise history. They have been outscored 57-0 in the opening two quarters in losses to Kansas City, Dallas and Houston.

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More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/tag/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

Florida's culture clash pits Gillum against Trump voters

THE VILLAGES, Fla. (AP) - President Donald Trump's loyalists here at Florida's premier retirement community fear Andrew Gillum.

It has nothing to do with his race, they insist, when asked about the 39-year-old Democrat who could become the state's first African-American governor. Instead, The Villages' deeply conservative residents are convinced a Gillum victory would trigger an era of high crime, higher taxes and moral failing.

"He'll kill everything that's good about Florida," says Talmadge Strickland, a 66-year-old retired firefighter wearing a "Trump 2020" baseball cap at a rally for Gillum's opponent. "He will hurt us; he will physically hurt us with his socialist mentality."

In an era defined by deep political partisanship, there's perhaps no state where the divide runs deeper than Florida, which is in the grip of a fierce culture clash over guns, race, climate change and the president. Gillum sits at the center of the melee, his campaign a proxy for the larger fight between Democrats and President Donald Trump's GOP.

Gillum's fate is inexorably linked to fellow Democrats whose success could determine control of Congress. That's especially true for three-term Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, who could benefit from Gillum's appeal among young voters and minorities.

As early voting begins in Florida this week, that link is tenuous.

"New voters and infrequent voters are everything to us winning," Gillum told The Associated Press when asked about his impact on Nelson's race. "I think they will vote for both of us, and that will be to his benefit."

Young people and minorities are traditionally among the least reliable voters, particularly in midterm elections. Meanwhile, white voters in place like The Villages are lining up behind his opponent, former Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis.

The electorate in Florida this year is especially unpredictable due to an unusual collision of events: a massive hurricane, the nation's deadliest high school shooting and Gillum's historic candidacy.

DeSantis has benefited from Trump's occasional backing on social media, including after the debate. And Gillum is scheduled to campaign this week alongside former Vice President Joe Biden and 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. In the interview, he noted he's been in touch with former President Barack Obama, who may campaign on his behalf.

Gillum acknowledged some Florida voters might oppose him because of his race, but insisted "that voter is not the majority of the people in our state."

During Sunday night's CNN debate, he accused his Republican opponent of fanning racial animus ever since DeSantis first warned Florida voters not to "monkey this up" by electing Gillum.

"The 'monkey up' comment said it all," Gillum charged. "He has only continued in the course of his campaign to draw all the attention he can to the color of my skin. The truth is, you know what, I'm black. I've been black all my life. So far as I know, I will die black."

Meanwhile, a small, but significant portion of the state's Republican base remains consumed by recovery efforts almost two weeks after Hurricane Michael devastated the Panhandle. The secretary of state extended early voting hours, but both sides expect a drop in turnout across the heavily-Republican region as residents struggle without electricity and lodging in many cases.

Nelson's challenger, Gov. Rick Scott, has yet to resume any campaign activities since the storm made landfall.

The state's other trauma - a school shooting earlier this year that left 17 students and staff dead at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland - looms over the races. Backed by the fortune of Democratic billionaires Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg, Florida's young people are fighting to be heard.

Those rallying behind Gillum in recent days include 16-year-old Sari Kaufman, a Parkland survivor who spent Sunday canvassing for the Democratic gubernatorial candidate.

In an interview, Kaufman suggested young people are more excited about Gillum than Nelson, particularly because of Gillum's status as a younger candidate running statewide for the first time.

"If he is successful and other candidates are successful, it will mean that my fellow classmates didn't die in vain," Kaufman said.

African-American leaders are also working to reverse their community's typical drop-off in midterm elections. NAACP President Derrick Johnson said his organization is "microfocused" on boosting black turnout this fall. A statewide canvassing effort is underway across Florida, where organizers hope to bump black turnout by at least 5 percent from four years ago.

It was easy to find evidence of Gillum's influence among so-called low-propensity voters in recent days, as activists from more than a half dozen competing groups scoured the state to ensure they cast ballots.

Anne Fazio, a 19-year-old Jacksonville student, was among thousands of people contacted at home over the weekend by the Koch-backed Americans For Prosperity's massive door-knocking push. Standing at her front door, she didn't hesitate when a conservative volunteer asked whether she was going to vote.

"I'm voting for Andrew Gillum," Fazio said, praising his support for gun control and expanding Medicaid coverage for hundreds of thousands of low-income residents.

Asked by the AP whether she would support Nelson, she said: "I think I'll probably vote for him - he's a Democrat, right?"

The Republican DeSantis is making little effort to expand his coalition as he embraces Trump and his policies in a state the president carried by 1 point.

DeSantis vowed during Sunday's debate to work closely with the Trump administration, while noting that Gillum has called for Trump's impeachment. "You've got to be able to work with the administration," DeSantis declared.

He also dismissed Parkland students' calls for stronger efforts to reduce gun violence when asked about his opposition to modest gun control measures passed by Florida's Republican-led legislature in the wake of the Parkland shooting.

DeSantis said local law enforcement and school officials "let them down" by not acting sooner to detain the shooter and address his mental health issues sooner.

Meanwhile, a flood of money is shaping the Florida elections.

Since the beginning of September alone, each side has dumped more than $44 million into television advertising for the governor's race. While that may be the most in the country, it's a fraction of the spending in Florida's Senate contest, according to political operatives tracking media spending.

Paced by the Scott campaign's $50 million, the Republican side has invested nearly $79 million in television spending since April compared to Democrats' $49 million behind Nelson.

Back at The Villages, the attack ads against Gillum appeared to be resonating with retirees gathered for a Saturday DeSantis appearance that drew about 400.

"He scares me, I'm sorry," 75-year-old retiree Suzanne Zimmerman, a member of Villagers for Trump, said of Gillum.

His race has nothing to do with her fear, she said.

"Although Gillum does say that there are too many white men in government," Zimmerman added. "So that's unfortunate that he is actually a racist."

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