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July 29, 2016

District 40 state Senate primary is an unfriendly affair


Dwight Bullard and Andrew Korge are both Democrats, but their primary election has the elements of a bitter partisan fight.

Bullard, an incumbent state senator running in a new district,accused Korge of offering him $25,000 to switch to a different Senate race. The state attorney’s office opened an investigationinto the allegations. Former Republican state representative and school board member Ana Rivas Logan entered the race as a Democrat in May and dropped out about a month later, citing a need to take care of her parents and a disdain for “in-the-gutter” campaign tactics.

Bullard recently met with the state attorney’s office regarding the alleged offer of payment and said the exchange was “very candid and very open.”

“I know that Mr. Korge’s reactions have been that I’m making this stuff up and keeping it in the media to stir the pot,” Bullard said. “I’m not stupid in the sense of wanting to endanger my livelihood and reputation to disparage another person for political gain.”

In a statement to the Miami Herald, Korge said: “I unequivocally deny the accusation that I offered Dwight Bullard $25,000 cash.”

In a subsequent interview, Korge added: “Dwight solicited me, it is very clear, there is clear record of that. It’s a sophisticated political attack he's employing because he thinks it’s the only way he can win.”

Bullard denies asking Korge for money to switch districts.

Korge is raising serious money in the race, nearly $350,000 raised since the beginning of 2015, while Bullard has raised just over $85,000 in the same period.

“One of the interesting things is that he's always framed himself as a true progressive,” Bullard said of Korge. “If our ideologies shape up similarly than what context do you have for running?”

Korge didn’t attack Bullard on ideology but said that the incumbent “technically hasn’t gotten anything done in eight years.”

“If I haven’t done anything in eight years I’ll retire,” Korge said.

Read more here.

Aspiring politician once punched a woman, has long history of arrests


State House candidate Roy Hardemon refers to himself as a “model citizen.”

“I’m always helping and putting people first,” Hardemon said. “Every project that I’ve done I’m a model for the community. Follow my Facebook page and you’ll see the things I’ve already done and continue to do.”

Hardemon’s Facebook page shows the Democrat standing next to basketball hoops at Bannerman Park and houses on Northwest 58th street that he “made happen.”

What it doesn’t make any mention of Hardemon’s lengthy criminal history.

For the past 30 years, Hardemon’s life has been a revolving door with the criminal justice system. He was unable to recall how many times he has been arrested when asked by a Miami Herald reporter.

Hardemon, 54, has been arrested 19 times since 1987 and charged with 35 different crimes, 12 of them felonies. The charges range from felony battery and kidnapping to municipal violations for trespassing.

Read more here.

Marco Rubio and Carlos Curbelo lament lack of federal Zika funding


U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio stressed that federal funds must be made available after four locally-transmitted cases of Zika were announced in Miami-Dade and Broward on Friday. 

“Zika doesn't just bite Republicans or Democrats or independents. It bites everyone,” Rubio said, adding that earlier this week he wrote to the president and asked him to spend about $300 million in federal funds available now.

Speaking at the Venezuelan restaurant, Arepazo #2, in Doral, Rubio was joined by fellow Republicans, including U.S. Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Illeana Ros-Lehtinen, state Rep. Carlos Trujillo and state Sen. Rene Garcia.

“Don't hold it back to play political games,” Rubio said he wrote to the president. “Zika is not a partisan issue, it is not a political issue.”

Curbelo also blamed Democrats for refusing to support a House Republican proposal that would have designated $1.1 billion for Zika but also reduced funding for Planned Parenthood, defunded parts of the Affordable Care Act and reversed a ban on flying Confederate flags in military cemeteries.

“I've been very fair in terms of criticizing both parties for failing to act,” Curbelo said. “Now, it's Senate Democrats who are regrettably blocking this funding from moving forward. It's not the $1.9 billion that we would have all wanted, but $1.1 billion dollars is still significant funding to fight this disease."

Read more here.

Florida delegate remains unpersuaded by Clinton: 'Hell no'


via @learyreports

PHILADELPHIA -- Dawn Abate was willing to give Hillary Clinton a chance.

"Hillary has to figure out how she can make us believe she’s going to do any of the things she says she will do," the Florida delegate said Thursday afternoon, hours before Clinton gave her speech.

Abate, 39, of Stuart, is a hardcore Bernie Sanders supporter and had a neon yellow Sanders shirt draped across her shoulders. “It’s been a very emotional week. We’re all in mourning,” she said. “The energy here has been so unfriendly." 

But she said she would hear out Clinton, who did acknowledge what Sanders had done and addressed some of his core issues, including campaign finance and income inequality. "You've put economic and social justice issues front and center, where they belong," Clinton said. "And to all of your supporters here and around the country: I want you to know, I've heard you. Your cause is our cause."

Was Abate moved?

"Hell no," she said Friday by text message. "But I will not let Donald Trump be president either, so sadly, I have to bubble in her name."

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Florida U.S. Senate candidate appears to still be running for president

De la fuente


A late entry in Florida's U.S. Senate race last month is apparently not giving up on his primary ambition: to become president of the United States.

Florida newcomer and Democrat "Rocky" Roque De La Fuente entered the state's U.S. Senate race in late June, after moving to Orlando in March from his home state of California.

But even as he filed his Senate candidacy in Florida on June 20, De La Fuente continued to loan and spend money for his presidential campaign based in San Diego, Federal Election Commission records show.

And despite landing a spot on the Aug. 30 primary ballot here, he's still working to get on other states' ballots for the November general election as an independent presidential candidate.

According to his most recent FEC report, De La Fuente gave his presidential campaign another $389,500 on June 30, making for a total of $6.4 million that De La Fuente has personally loaned that campaign. Last month, he also continued to spend tens of thousands of dollars on consultant fees, transportation and other bills, spending $362,000 in all in June.

Included in the expenses: a $250 filing fee to the "State of New Hampshire." The Secretary of State's office there said De La Fuente filed a "declaration of intent" in early June to run as an independent presidential candidate in the general election. He has until Sept. 7 to submit petition papers to qualify for the New Hampshire ballot.

This month, he also reportedly sought to get on the November ballot in Georgia, too, according to Ballot Access News.

De La Fuente's U.S. Senate campaign hasn't returned an email seeking comment today (but we'll update this post if he responds). The July FEC report for his presidential campaign is due Aug. 20.

Meanwhile, De La Fuente is self-funding his Florida U.S. Senate bid, as he is his presidential one. He loaned his Senate campaign $71,000 on June 30 and reported no contributions in the first couple weeks of his campaign, according to his first campaign finance report to the FEC in mid-July.

De La Fuente has marketed his U.S. Senate campaign largely toward Hispanic voters. His campaign website has a lengthy "national issues" section, while his "Florida issues" page has only this generic pledge: "Rocky aims to put his ideals into practice by solving the most common issues that our fellow citizens in Florida face today."

Before moving to Florida this spring, De La Fuente's only connection to the Sunshine State was business deals he said he had here over the past couple decades. De La Fuente, a 61-year-old businessman and entrepreneur, had previously lived in California his whole life.

De La Fuente notably botched his voter registration when he moved to Florida in late March by accidentally registering as "no party affiliation." He fixed it and registered as a Democrat after the Herald/Times made inquiries last month.

De La Fuente is emphatic the mistake was on the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles -- because he registered when getting his driver's license -- but state officials said De La Fuente checked the wrong box, possibly due to confusion with Florida's registration process. (They said he checked "no party change," rather than "Democrat," but that designation is specifically for use by Florida residents who move in-state, not newcomers coming from out of state.)

CDC: There may be additional locally spread Zika infections


First, the good news: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it and the state have planned ahead and prepared for Zika to reach Florida's shores.

But there remains uncertainty as the first cases of Zika likely spread by mosquitoes in the United States were confirmed Friday.

"As we have anticpated, Zika is now here," CDC Director Tom Frieden said on a call with reporters and scientists. "There may well be more cases that we are not aware of right now because most people infected with Zika do not show symptoms."

The four cases confirmed by the Florida Department of Health on Friday involve three men and one woman who live in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

Health officials believe the infection was spread within a one-mile radius around Wynwood, north of downtown Miami, where all four patients work. They were infected in early July.

But the CDC is not encouraging people to steer clear of Wynwood.

"We currently do not see a situation where people should cease travel into the area," Frieden said. "If, however, cases were to continue in the area, even after the mosquito control efforts were undertaken, that would be a very different situation."

Gov. Rick Scott and Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam announced earlier in the day plans to ramp up mosquito control in South Florida, provide Zika testing at county health departments and fund testing of blood donations.

Frieden said additional resources are needed to better combat the virus, which has been linked to a birth defect called microcephaly, where a newborn's head is smaller than normal. He issued a plea for Congress to enact a rapid response fund for infectious diseases.

"We are doing the best we can with the resources we have available to us and the authorities we have available to us," Frieden said. "If we had more resources we would be able to mount a more roubust response."

Still, he said, the CDC does not inspect a massive outbreak of the disease.

Indeed, the CDC anticipated pockets of infection such as the four cases in South Florida, based on its experience fighting Dengue and Chikungunya.

"We dont expect widespread transmission in the continental U.S.," Frieden said. "If however we were to see continuing spread in this area or somewhere else or explosive spread then we would absolutely issue travel guidance. That's not the situation we’re in today."

Carlos Beruff itching for a debate with Marco Rubio


Republican U.S. Senate candidate Carlos Beruff is out with a new web-ad again accusing U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of being afraid to debate him.

Rubio has yet to agree to any debates with Beruff ahead of their Aug. 30 GOP primary race.

“He won’t show up because he’s afraid to debate Carlos Beruff,” a narrator says in the 30-second web video.

Beruff has agreed to attend at least three debates, but his campaign said Rubio has yet to confirm for any. Last week, Beruff issued a similar message through a statement calling on Rubio to “man up.”

Ironically it was Beruff who was accused of ducking debates earlier in the campaign before Rubio jumped back into the contest. In June when he faced three other lesser known opponents, Beruff skipped a forum where he would have faced them. When pressed days later during an interview on a Sarasota television program about why he didn’t agree to debate them, Beruff said he’d debate when “there’s somebody worth debating. At this point, I don’t think there is any.”

In battle against Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Tim Canova hires Bernie Sanders' consultants

Tim Canova's campaign has hired three of Bernie Sanders' media consultants.

The new hires are Tad DevineMark Longabaugh, and Julian Mulvey. All three have started, said Canova's campaign manager Richard Bell. The hires were first reported by Politico. The consultants run a Washington D.C. based Democratic media consulting firm together and have represented a long list of Democratic candidates and liberal causes. Their firm was the one behind Sanders' "America" ad which the main audio features Simon and Garfunkel's America song.

Canova is battling U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz in Broward/Miami-Dade Congressional District 23. 

Canova's first-time race drew more attention in the past week since Wasserman Schultz stepped down as Democratic National Committee chair following the leak of more than 19,000 party emails. Those emails showed that the DNC was favoring Hillary Clinton over Sanders -- a charge that Wasserman Schultz had repeatedly denied for months. The emails also showed that DNC staffers who are not on Wasserman Schultz's campaign were tracking Canova's media coverage and appearances.

The primary in the left leaning district is Aug. 30 but voters are already starting to cast ballots by mail. So far, about 28,000 Broward Democrats in the district have requested mail in ballots. A slice of the district is also in northern Miami Dade.

Democratic groups weigh in on U.S. Senate debate controversy


Two other political groups are now voicing their opinions on whether Miami Democrat Pam Keith should be included in an Orlando TV station's upcoming primary debate for Florida's U.S. Senate race.

The Boynton Beach-based Democratic African American Women Caucus says, quite bluntly, that Keith shouldn't complain about being excluded, because the fact is she didn't meet the qualifying criteria to participate.

"Put the race card away. It doesn't apply here," caucus president Leslie Wimes said of Keith, in an email statement to the Herald/Times.

But the Democratic Progressive Caucus -- a subset of the Florida Democratic Party -- is echoing the Florida chapter of the National Organization for Women in urging WFTV Channel 9 to change its mind and invite Keith. Florida NOW, which endorsed Keith, said it was "outraged" she wasn't invited.

Keith has accused WFTV in Orlando of "blatant racism and sexism" for excluding her from its televised primary debate next month between the two leading Democratic candidates, U.S. Reps. Alan Grayson and Patrick Murphy. Keith is African American and the only female candidate seeking Florida's U.S. Senate seat this year. Grayson and Murphy are white.

The station said earlier this week that Grayson and Murphy were the only two of the five Democratic candidates who'd met the qualifying criteria: 15 percent support in polls. Keith received 10 percent and 11 percent support in the two polls she has been included in.

A polling threshold is common for organized political debates. It's unclear how the qualifying criteria was set for this one; the terms are typically the subject of negotiation between the invited participants and the host.

In her email, Wimes said: "We do not think WFTV is being racist or sexist towards Pam Keith. If she doesn't meet the criteria, then she doesn't participate. Crying racism/sexism because she hasn't increased her poll numbers or her name recognition in the almost two years that she has been running does a huge disservice to women who are victims of racism/sexism."

The Democratic African American Women Caucus has not endorsed any candidate and Wimes said her statement "in no way is a reflection on Pam Keith's qualifications."

"Fair is fair, though. Not everything is racism and we would be remiss if we didn't say so," Wimes said.

The Democratic Progressive Caucus didn't address Keith's line of attack in criticizing the station and her competitors. The group, which hasn't endorsed any candidate, defended what they say is her right to participate in candidate debates.

"No one -- Democratic elites, the media or elected officials -- should put their thumb on the scale to advantage or disadvantage any candidate," caucus chairwoman Susan Smith said in a statement. "Florida Democrats who will go to the polls on August 30th deserve to hear from all three candidates so they can make a smart decision about who should represent out party in the General Election against Marco Rubio."

"By keeping Pam Keith out of the debate, WFTV is denying Democratic voters the opportunity to be fully informed of their options," Smith said.

WFTV has not responded to Keith's remarks. But the station said earlier this week that other Senate candidates, Democrats and Republicans (including Keith), would be invited to do three-minute segments “to communicate their stance on the issues to the people of Central Florida.”

Grayson hasn't commented either, and Murphy was vague when asked about the controversy on Thursday by the Miami Herald's editorial board.

The Grayson-Murphy debate is set to be taped in advance and will air at 7 p.m. Aug. 12 on WFTV in Orlando and online at

Lesser-known Democratic candidates Reginald Luster of Jacksonville and "Rocky" Roque De La Fuente of Orlando also weren't invited to the debate. They each launched their campaigns last month -- just in time to qualify for the primary ballot -- and neither has been included in any polls.

Gov. Rick Scott orders testing, spraying after first Zika cases likely spread by mosquito


500409801_16660442_8col[1]Four people likely contracted Zika virus from mosquitoes in Miami-Dade County, Gov. Rick Scott announced Friday. 

One woman and three men have been infected, and all four live in Miami-Dade or Broward counties. This is believed to be the first time the virus has been spread by mosquitoes within the continental United States.

Under an emergency declaration, Scott already gave the state authority to spend $26.2 million to combat Zika, which has been linked to microcephaly, a birth defect where a baby’s head is smaller than normal.

“If it becomes clear that more resources are needed, we will not hesitate to allocate them,” he said in a statement Friday.

Additionally, Scott and other state leaders announced plans to double down on efforts in South Florida to fight the virus. Among them, the Florida Department of Health will give $620,000 to OneBlood so the blood bank can start testing donations for Zika.

DOH is also expected to take on the load of Zika testing within the area where the state believes the transmissions occurred, a one-square-mile zone north of downtown Miami. The area is bounded by Northwest Fifth Avenue, U.S. Route 1, Northwest/Northeast 38th Street and Northwest/Northeast 20th Street, according to Scott’s office.

“If you live in this area and want to be tested, I urge you to contact the county health department, which stands ready to assist you,” Scott said.

Scott compared the state’s preparation for Zika to that of a hurricane, a call he’s echoed since first declaring a public health emergency in February.

Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam ordered more aggressive mosquito spraying within 200 yards of the four patients’ homes for 45 days in a declaration Friday.

The state will direct $1.28 million to the mosquito control districts in Miami-Dade and Broward counties through December, according to Scott’s office.

“Floridians can do their part by draining standing water surrounding their homes, as it can serve as breeding grounds for the mosquitoes that are capable of transmitting the virus,” Putnam said in a statement.

Though these cases are being called likely local transmissions, no Florida mosquitoes have tested positive for Zika, Scott said, but DOH is testing “aggressively” to rule out other cases.

Friday morning, DOH announced three more travel-related cases of Zika in Miami-Dade County. The state has confirmed 386 cases of Zika related to travel, in addition to those that likely were contracted in Florida.

The epicenter of the virus’ spread is South Florida. Ninety-nine travel-related cases have been confirmed in Miami-Dade and 55 in Broward counties. Ten are confirmed in Hillsborough and seven in Pinellas.

Photo: Zack Wittman, Tampa Bay Times

Art dealer won't have to pay $2.3 million to contest Miami Dade College project award -- for now


Art dealer Gary Nader scored a small but significant victory in his battle with Miami Dade College Thursday when a circuit court judge ruled he doesn't have to immediately post a $2.3 million bond in order to dispute a recommendation that the college's board of trustees partner with a competitor to build a cultural center and condos on Biscayne Boulevard.

Nader + Museu I LLP informed the college last week that it intended to file a formal protest of Related Group's victory in a competitive process launched last year when Nader proposed to build a museum, theater, conference center and residential towers on a college parking lot next to the Freedom Tower. (For more background on the project click here and here.)

Meanwhile, Nader's GrayRobinson attorneys also filed an emergency motion for temporary injunctive relief after learning the college would require their client to post a bond worth 2 percent of the value of Related Group's planned cultural center, valued at $115 million.

Nader's attorneys argued that the price of the bond was prohibitive and unnecessary under the law given the public-private-partnership circumstances behind the project, and that the would-be development team may be required to past another $2.3 million bond should it want to contest the ultimate award of the project as well.

On Thursday, Judge Bronwyn C. Miller sided with Nader on what for now is a technical argument, agreeing that Nader should be allowed to move forward with the protest after posting an injunction bond of only $100,000. Whether Nader indeed must pay $2.3 million in order to dispute the college's decision should be considered down the road after a full evidentiary hearing, Miller ruled.

Fact-checking Hillary Clinton's convention speech

The Democratic Party has a new presidential nominee, and for the first time for either major political party, she is a woman.

Hillary Clinton — a former secretary of state, senator and first lady — accepted her party’s nomination on July 28, 2016, the final night of the Democratic National Convention. After being introduced by her daughter Chelsea, Clinton challenged the campaign message of Republican nominee Donald Trump as being all about himself.

"That's why ‘Stronger Together’ is not just a lesson from our history," Clinton told the crowd at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pa. "It's not just a slogan for our campaign. It's a guiding principle for the country we've always been and the future we're going to build."

The night also saw speeches by Republicans who decided this election to vote for Clinton over Trump, as well as the families of fallen police officers. Several service members rallied on Clinton’s behalf, and singer Katy Perry sang her songs "Roar" and "Rise."

Clinton’s address was the night’s biggest moment. Let’s see how accurate it was.

(See our wrap-ups from night one, two and three of the Democratic convention.)

Attacking Donald Trump

Clinton critiqued Trump’s address at the Republican National Convention a week earlier, saying "he spoke for 70-odd minutes – and I do mean odd," and should not be trusted.

"And most of all, don't believe anyone who says: ‘I alone can fix it.,’ " Clinton said. "Those were actually Donald Trump's words in Cleveland."

We looked back at his speech, and Trump really did say this.

Keep reading from PolitiFact.

Women's group 'outraged' by Pam Keith's exclusion from U.S. Senate debate


The Florida chapter of the National Organization for Women says it's "outraged" that an Orlando TV station is excluding Democrat Pam Keith from its U.S. Senate primary debate next month.

Keith -- an African American from Miami and the only female candidate in the Senate contest -- wasn't invited to WFTV Channel 9's "one-on-one" debate between U.S. Reps. Alan Grayson and Patrick Murphy because she hasn't polled high enough to meet the threshold to participate.

Keith received 10 percent and 11 percent support in the two polls she has been included in; the station said candidates needed to have at least 15 percent support in order to be eligible.

"This discriminating action by the station and other candidates demonstrates the ongoing fight both women and minorities face in our society," Florida NOW said in a statement. "To summarily dismiss Ms. Keith’s candidacy as inconsequential is an insult to all voters, especially women and people of color."

The group endorsed Keith's campaign several months ago.

Earlier this week, Keith also blasted WFTV and her opponents for the decision to exclude her. She decried their decision as "blatant racism and sexism."

The station hasn't responded.

But it said earlier this week that other Senate candidates, Democrats and Republicans, would be invited to do three-minute segments “to communicate their stance on the issues to the people of Central Florida.”

When asked about it by the Miami Herald's editorial board on Thursday, Murphy was vague on whether Keith should be included and he was unaware of what terms for debate his campaign staff negotiated with the station. He deferred to both his campaign and to WFTV's set criteria, and he said he personally had no part in those talks.

"If the host comes up with qualifications that she meets, then of course, by all means" she should participate, Murphy said. "I've known Ms. Keith for several years, so I don't have any personal contention or beef with her."

Grayson's campaign hasn't commented. For his part, Grayson has appeared on stage with Keith at at least a couple candidate forums during the campaign. He had agreed to debate her on radio next month, but that event was cancelled after Murphy declined to participate.

Florida NOW touted Keith's credentials as among the other reasons she should be allowed to take part in the WFTV debate, which is expected to be the only Democratic debate before the Aug. 30 primary.

"Pam Keith is uniquely qualified to run for the U.S. Senate. Her experience as a Naval Officer JAG and attorney fighting for labor workers gives her an advantage neither of the other candidates possess," Florida NOW said.

"Women and minorities make up 50 percent of the voters in Florida. To exclude Pam Keith from the Senate debates is an insult to these voters," the group added. "It demonstrates a bias that should never be included in a news organization whose duty is to inform the public. ... WFTV needs to change their position on this debate."

Keith has been campaigning full-time since November 2014, longer than any candidate from either major party. Nonetheless, Murphy and Grayson -- sitting U.S. congressmen from Jupiter and Orlando, respectively -- have garnered almost all of the attention in the Democratic field.

The Grayson-Murphy debate is set to be taped in advance and will air at 7 p.m. Aug. 12 on WFTV in Orlando and online at

Lesser-known Democratic candidates Reginald Luster of Jacksonville and "Rocky" Roque De La Fuente of Orlando also weren't invited to WFTV's debate. They each launched their campaigns last month -- just in time to qualify for the primary ballot -- and neither has been included in any polls.

July 28, 2016

Clinton promises unity as she accepts historic nomination



PHILADELPHIA -- After decades wrestling with living in public, Hillary Clinton introduced herself one more time to Americans on Thursday night, no longer as a famous wife, former U.S. senator or Cabinet secretary but as a presidential nominee intent on writing a new, historic chapter in her life — and the country’s.

“It is with humility, determination and boundless confidence in America’s promise that I accept your nomination for the presidency of the United States,” Clinton said. Thousands of delegates at the Democratic National Convention interspersed chants of “Hi-lla-ry” with “His-to-ry.”

Clinton accepted the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination acknowledging that both her party and the country remain deeply split — perhaps more so — eight years after her former rival, Barack Obama, won the White House.

“America is once again at a moment of reckoning. Powerful forces are threatening to pull us apart,” she said. “Bonds of trust and respect are fraying. And just as with our founders, there are no guarantees. It truly is up to us. We have to decide whether we will all work together so we can all rise together.”

Facing Clinton is one of the most difficult challenges in modern politics: succeeding a two-term president of her own party. A self-described unnatural campaigner, Clinton tried to contrast herself and her running mate, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, as diametrically different from her unpredictable Republican rival, Donald Trump, whom she portrayed — as Democrats did for four days in Philadelphia — as reckless.

“He wants to divide us from the rest of the world and from each other. He’s betting that the perils of today’s world will blind us to its unlimited promise,” she said. “He’s taken the Republican Party a long way from ‘morning in America’ to midnight in America. He wants us to fear the future and fear each other.”

Then Clinton cited former President Franklin Roosevelt, who “came up with the perfect rebuke to Trump more than 80 years ago, during a much more perilous time.” The crowd joined her: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Top Democrats close to Clinton — including her husband, former President Bill Clinton, President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and First Lady Michelle Obama — spent the week trying to erase what they called a caricature of Clinton with stories of the woman they know. Clinton would be the most disliked presidential candidate ever — if it weren’t for Trump.

More here.

Photo credit: J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press

PolitiFact: Did Trump bail on building condos in Fort Lauderdale and Tampa?

Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine questioned Donald Trump’s business ethics, saying the Republican presidential candidate swindled customers in a past real estate deal in the Sunshine State.

"Retirees and families in Florida — they believed Donald Trump when he said he'd build them some condos. Thousands of them," Kaine said on the third night of the Democratic National Convention. "They paid their deposits, but the condos, they were never built. He just pocketed their money and walked away. They lost tens of thousands of dollars, all because they believed Donald Trump."

A Kaine spokesman told us the senator was referring to not one, but two failed condo projects: One in Tampa and one in Fort Lauderdale. Trump’s campaign did not respond.

We wanted to know if people lost tens of thousands of dollars in deposits while Trump took the money without consequence. Since there are two projects, we’ll take them one at a time.

Keep reading Joshua Gillin's fact-check from PolitiFact Florida.

Little jabs begin in Democratic race for Florida governor


PHILADELPHIA -- The first little jabs of the next Democratic race for Florida governor came, subtly, in a Philadelphia hotel ballroom over the past four days.

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine touted “people in public office who have actually had a job, that know how to get things done.” Take that, longtime politician and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.

“I don’t need a TelePrompTer,” Buckhorn boasted to a Miami Herald reporter. Here’s looking at you, U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Tallahassee.

“I now represent the most Republican-leaning district held by any Democrat in the entire Congress of the United States,” Graham bragged. Listen up, Levine and Buckhorn.

Just like at last week’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland, 2016 politics made way to 2018 at the Florida delegation breakfasts of the Democratic National Convention.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott is term-limited, and Florida Democrats insist that next time will be their time. Buckhorn, Graham and Levine — along with state Sen. Jeremy Ring of Parkland, who wasn’t in Philadelphia — are the biggest names considering a run.

For Democrats, though, the dearth of state political power extends beyond the Governor’s Mansion. Republicans also control the Cabinet — and majorities in the state House and Senate.

They’re sensitive to the problem — and maybe also a teensy bit defensive.

More here.

PolitiFact: Donald Trump's Full Flop on federal minimum wage

During a press conference in Florida while Democrats were preparing for the third night of their national convention in Philadelphia, Donald Trump was asked a question about his stance on whether to raise the minimum wage.

Here’s what he said at Trump National Doral:

"The minimum wage has to go up. People are -- at least $10, but it has to go up. But I think that states -- federal -- I think that states should really call the shot. As an example, I live in New York. It's very expensive in New York. You can't buy a hot dog for the money you're talking about. You go to other states and it's not expensive at all. Now what it does is puts New York at a disadvantage if the minimum wage is up, companies move out and things, bad things happen. At the same time, people have to be taken care of. But what I'm really going to do on the minimum wage -- but it has to go up.. .. So I would like to raise it to at least $10."

A journalist then followed up, "You said we need to raise it to $10. … Are you talking about the federal minimum wage?" Trump confirmed, "Federal."

Some saw the Florida remarks as a change to Trump’s previous position on whether there should be a federal minimum wage floor for the entire country. Were they?

See what Louis Jacobson of PolitiFact found.

Should FPL's retire its controversial nuke cooling canals? Report makes the case

Fpl plantFlorida Power & Light should retire its miles of cooling canals used to cool its Turkey Point nuclear power plant, and replace them with cooling towers that release less pollution into South Florida waterways and use less fresh water, a clean-energy group argued Thursday as part of its campaign to force the utility to reform its practices.

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, which is suing FPL for violating the Clean Water Act, suggests that if the state’s largest electric company replaces its one-of-a-kind canal network, the switch would help Miami-Dade County meet its goal of recycling wastewater and reduce the threat to South Florida’s drinking water supply.

The estimated cost of the change: $59 million to $79 million per year over a 10-year period, an increase of 1.5 percent to 2 percent in the energy costs charged to customers, said Bill Powers, of San Diego-based Powers Engineering, which produced the report for SACE. The project would take about four years to complete, he said.

County environmental regulators have found that the saltier, heavier water flowing from FPL’s nuclear plant through more than 5,900 acres of canals has leaked downward, pushing a line of saltwater inland toward South Florida’s drinking water supply. Regulators also have discovered canal water, laced with non-threatening amounts of radioactive tritium, has leaked into Biscayne Bay.

Replacing the cooling canals with cooling towers is a “no-regret system,” said Stephen A. Smith, executive director for SACE, an organization that calls the cooling canals “an open industrial sewer, wedged between two national parks."

"FPL knows this technology is the best technology and they should have implemented it a long time ago,’’ he told reporters Thursday. “This is actually going to stop, to abate, the pollution source.”

The proposal to retire the cooling canals adds ammunition to a resolution passed unanimously by the Miami-Dade County Commission last week asking FPL to stop using the troubled canal system by 2033.

FPL has not agreed to the county’s request. In June it signed a consent order with the state agreeing to clean up the polluted canals within 10 years but keep them operating.

After that, if the company seeks to renew its license for the current nuclear reactors beyond 2033, FPL will consider “any potential alternative cooling technologies, which would logically include cooling towers,” said Peter Robbins, manager of nuclear communications for FPL.

Robbins blasted SACE as an “anti-utility, anti-nuclear political group” that should “not be trusted.”

Continue reading "Should FPL's retire its controversial nuke cooling canals? Report makes the case" »

Conservative super PAC goes after Patrick Murphy in new ad


A dark-money conservative group with ties to the Koch brothers has launched an ad attacking Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy for a vote supporting the Export-Import Bank.

The ad from American Future Fund began airing this week on certain Florida markets. It urges viewers to call Murphy and tell him to support HR 5715 to "stop supporting corporate welfare" and "stop supporting state sponsors of terror."

Murphy campaign spokeswoman Galia Slayen called the ad "just another misleading attack by Republicans to distract from Marco Rubio's record of skipping work and missing many important closed intelligence briefings."

The Washington Post reported the ad buy is worth $1.5 million and is targeting "networks that attract a disproportionate share of Democratic viewers, including MSNBC, while eschewing GOP-heavy networks, such as Fox News Channel."

"Also arousing suspicions are the markets in which the ad is airing — Democratic strongholds like West Palm Beach and Gainesville are seeing the ad, while GOP-heavy areas like Fort Myers and Pensacola are not," The Post reported.

'It's about electing this woman,' Deutch says at Democratic convention


PHILADELPHIA -- U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch of Boca Raton was the final Floridian featured at the Democratic National Convention. He spoke about his late mother's wish to see a woman president, and about how his twin daughters will get to vote for the first time this fall.

"Electing Hillary Clinton isn't about making history. It's about creating the future," he said. "It's not about electing a woman. It's about electing THIS woman – who will create opportunity for all of us."

Here are his remarks:

Continue reading "'It's about electing this woman,' Deutch says at Democratic convention" »