October 01, 2014

It's about the economy, stupid -- again and again

From the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON (AP) — It's not Obamacare or climate change. It's not yet terrorism or fear of the Islamic State group. Those issues are on the minds of voters as they begin casting ballots in this year's midterm elections, but nothing matters to American voters as much the economy. In a new...

Read the full story here


McClatchy-Marist Poll: Public backing grows for Obama’s actions against Islamic State

By David Lightman

McClatchy Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON – Americans overwhelmingly back U.S. airstrikes against terrorists in Syria and are increasingly supportive of President Barack Obama’s handling of the crisis, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll.

But that approval and confidence appears fragile, particularly on whether the United States should send ground troops if the policy falters.


Annette Taddeo stars in Charlie Crist's first Spanish-language ad


Why did Charlie Crist pick Miami-Dade's former Democratic leader, Annette Taddeo, to be his running mate for governor? His first Spanish-language ad says it all.

The translation from the campaign:

“You work hard to pay the bills and raise your kids.

"As a working mother, I know how hard it is and Charlie Crist knows too.

"That is why I’m proud to be on the ballot with Charlie Crist as candidate for lieutenant governor.

"Together we will raise the minimum wage, reverse Rick Scott's $1.3 billion cut to education, and fight for equal pay for women.

"It’s time to have leaders who will fight for all Floridians, not just the rich."

"Vote for Charlie and me and that's exactly what we'll do."

More talk about immigration reform than Cuba in Miami congressional race


In the South Florida race for the most competitive Hispanic-majority district in Congress, the two Miami candidates field more questions about immigration reform than about U.S. policy toward Cuba.

“There is no community in the United States that would benefit more from comprehensive immigration reform than South Florida,” said U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, a Democrat.

“It’s not just an immigration issue. It’s an economic issue,” said Carlos Curbelo, the Republican opposing him. “In many ways, it’s an education issue, too.”

When it comes to immigration, Florida’s 26th congressional district is an outlier.

Nationally, Democrats in close contests are so worried about being shunned by conservative-leaning independent voters for pro-immigrant stances that President Barack Obama recently acceded to their concerns and backed off his earlier promise to take executive action before Nov. 4. Most Republicans have taken a hardline approach on immigration to fend off any potential primary challenge.

But in Miami, home to longtime pro-reform Republicans like Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the call for at least some action is bipartisan.

More here.

Group releases a framework for regulating medical marijuana

The fate of Amendment 2 will be decided in less than five weeks, but one group has already released its recommended framework for how a system that regulates medical marijuana would work.

The 12-member Florida For Care Blue Ribbon Commission, which includes Democrats and Republicans, and representatives from law enforcement, business, health and other areas, has released proposed principles that range from patient protection to professional licenses and packaging. It addresses issues like physician requirements and continuing education, regulations on caregivers and a compassionate use registry.

Former state Sen. Alex Diaz de la Portilla, a Miami Republican, and vice chair of the commission, said he doesn't plan on voting for the amendment but he joined the group to help devise a plan that would incorporate different views and assist the legislature in determining safeguards if the amendment passes.

Constitutional amendments need 60 percent of the vote to pass. The polling average of the last major public surveys shows about 64 percent of Florida voters favor Amendment 2.

"I am against the amendment because I don't think enough research has been done," Diaz de la Portilla said, "but if the people want it and it passes, then we need to get it right.  ... If you have people who are for it and against it, what comes out is a better, well thought-out plan."

Despite his opposition, Diaz de la Portilla said Republicans and Democrats "have to be open-minded." 

The proposal is a "starting point," said the commission's chairman, Jon Mills, who is the Amendment 2 author and a former speaker of the House.

Continue reading "Group releases a framework for regulating medical marijuana" »

House District 112 candidates make their cases on TV

Coming soon to a TV near you: one of Florida's most closely watched statehouse races.

Both Democratic state Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez and his Republican challenger Daniel Diaz Levya have debuted new ads on TV. 

The two are running to represent a swing district that includes parts of Little Havana and Coral Gables, as well as Key Biscayne, Brickell, Coconut Grove and the Roads. The race is among the most competitive in the state.

In his ad, Rodriguez says he has "fought the special interests every step of the way to make sure our families have someone fighting for them."

The ad then paints Diaz Leyva as a "lobbyist who has stood up for insurance companies and big corporations."

Diaz Leyva used to be managing partner of Southern Strategy Group's office in Miami. He now practices real estate law with Foley & Lardner LLP.

His ad takes a more positive tone. It features the candidate with his family, and highlights his work with CHARLEE Homes for Children. 

"I'm running to create jobs, lower taxes and make our schools world class so our kids can compete in a global economy," the candidate says.

Watch both ads below.



Senate climate change delegation headed to Las Olas


A group of U.S. Senators is planning a trip to Fort Lauderdale next week to watch the tide come in -- on Las Olas Boulevard.

On Oct. 9, the start of South Florida's seasonal high tide, Sen. Bill Nelson is bringing colleagues to South Florida to see for themselves how the streets flood when seas swell. Nelson, who spoke Wednesday to trustees of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce during a luncheon at Jungle Island, said he hopes having eye witnesses in the senate will help push stronger climate change legislation.

"I'm bringing these senators here to see so that can see and then testify back to our colleagues who are deniers of what's happening," Nelson said.

Nelson said the group will include Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island, a member of the Senate's Committee on Environment and Public Works. He said he's been assured by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminsitration that Las Olas will be flooded Thursday due to the incoming "king tide."

Nelson's announcement came as a climate change summit began Wednesday on Miami Beach, which has been installing pumping stations in South Beach as part of a $300 million sea-rise plan. Nelson predicted those pumps, funded by a federal grant, will keep Alton Road from flooding.

America Votes touts Fla ground game


The folks at America Votes, a coaltion of 32 Democratic-leaning labor and other advocacy groups in Florida, are gearing up to defy conventional wisdom that says Democrats tend to stay home in midterm elections.

After the jump, read the memo from Josh Geise, Florida State Director of America Votes:

Continue reading "America Votes touts Fla ground game" »

New Putnam ad takes aim at Washington

With just five weeks until Election Day, state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam's re-election campaign is kicking into high gear.

The former U.S. congressman has a new TV spot that takes aim at Washington.

"Every day, Washington finds new ways to meddle with our dreams," he says. "And every day, as commissioner, I'm making sure they don't."

Putnam also talks about the need for better schools and technology so Florida's students can "compete with the world and win." That's somewhat outside of his duties as agriculture commissioner, though the department runs some school-based education programs.

The incumbent has raised $2.7 million for his campaign, state elections records show.

His Democratic challenger, longtime U.S. Department of Agriculture employee and environmentalist Thad Hamilton, has collected about $20,300.

Putnam's large haul may be a sign that he is looking to the future. He is already considered a strong candidate in the 2018 governor's race.


Floridians in 2012 waited longer to cast ballots than voters in any other state


Voters in Florida waited far longer than those in other states to cast their votes in the 2012 election, hampered by long ballots and cutbacks in early voting options, according to a new report by congressional auditors.

Voters in the state stood in line more than 34 minutes on average, significantly longer than ballot-casters did in any other state reviewed by the Government Accountability Office, Congress’ watchdog.

The shortest waits? Alaska, at just 1.4 minutes.

Three others states had wait times about 25 or more minutes: Maryland, Virginia and South Carolina. But most of the others fell somewhere between five minutes and 20 minutes, on average.

In Florida, the GAO estimated, 16 percent of voters waited 61 minutes or more to cast their ballots — tops among the states surveyed.

“People should not have to stand in line for hours to exercise their constitutional right to vote,” U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat, said in a statement.

More here



Supreme Court to decide the fate of congressional redistricting plan, again

From the News Service of Florida:

A high-stakes legal battle about the constitutionality of the state's congressional districts should be fast-tracked to the Florida Supreme Court, a divided appeals court ruled Wednesday.

Under the ruling, the 1st District Court of Appeal would not take up a challenge to districts redrawn in August by the Legislature and to other decisions by a circuit judge. Instead, the case would go directly to the Supreme Court --- a relatively unusual move known as "certification" of the case to the higher court.

A panel of the appeals court, in a 2-1 decision, agreed on the certification issue with voting-rights groups that have waged a drawn-out legal battle about whether congressional district lines were drawn in 2012 and redrawn this year to favor Republicans. While the redrawn districts would not take effect until the 2016 elections, the majority of the appeals court pointed to the lengthy history of the case in deciding to pass it along to the Supreme Court.

"In this case, any doubts about the need for immediate review by the Supreme Court should be resolved in favor of certification,'' said the opinion, written by Judge Philip Padovano and joined by Judge Simone Marstiller.

Continue reading "Supreme Court to decide the fate of congressional redistricting plan, again" »

LG. Carlos Lopez-Cantera stars in Rick Scott's latest Spanish-language spot


It took a while for Gov. Rick Scott to overcome some internal resistance and realize that Carlos Lopez-Cantera would be his best choice for lieutenant governor, both because of his Tallahassee experience and his Miami roots. Nothing shows the smartness of the pick during this campaign season better than this Spanish-language ad (transcript from the campaign below):

VICE GOBERNADOR CARLOS LOPEZ-CANTERA: Rick Scott le dio frente a la situación.  Corto impuestos 40 veces, reformo el Medicaid para los más necesitados y logro fondos sin precedente para la educación. Liderazgo no es  hacer promesas o lanzar ataques, es cumplir cuando cuenta.  Con Rick Scott, sigamos trabajando.

LT. GOVERNOR CARLOS LOPEZ-CANTERA TRANSLATED:Rick Scott faced the crisis head-on.  He cut taxes forty times, reformed Medicaid for the neediest and secured unprecedented funding for education.  Leadership is not about making promises or launching attacks; it’s delivering when it counts. With Rick Scott, let’s keep working.

CHYRON: 40 Recortes De Impuestos


CHYRON: Reformas Al Medicaid

CHYRON TRANSLATED:Reforms to Medicaid

CHYRON: Educacion $20 Mil Millones Fondos Historicos

CHYRON TRANSLATED: Historic $20 Billion in Funds for Education

DISCLAIMER: Anuncio político pagado por el Partido Republicano de la Florida, 420 E. Jefferson Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32301.  El Partido Republicano de la Florida apoya y le pide a usted que vote por Rick Scott para Gobernador, Jeanette Nuñez para Representante Estatal Distrito 119, y José Félix Díaz para Representante Estatal Distrito 116.

DISCLAIMER TRANSLATED: Paid political advertisement paid for by the Republican Party of Florida. 420 E. Jefferson Street, Tallahassee, FL 32301. The Republican Party of Florida endorses and urges you to vote for Rick Scott for Governor, Jeanette Nunez for State Representative District 119, and Jose Felix Diaz for State Representative District 116. Approved by Rick Scott, Jeanette Nunez and Jose Felix Diaz.

SurveyUSA/WFLA poll: Crist keeps climbing, leads Scott 46-40%


Democrat Charlie Crist is nursing a slight 46-40 percent lead over Gov. Rick Scott in SurveyUSA's latest poll for WFLA-TV.

Crist's 6 percentage-point lead isn't so big because the likely-voter poll's error margin is 4.1 percent.

But it ain't the topline, it's the trend to note. And for the past two weeks, the momentum has been for Crist: a net 9 percentage point shift since last week and, compared to the poll released Sept. 9, an 11-point shift.

The movement in Crist's direction corresponds with Crist's increasing ad buys. Scott has been pumping more money into TV as well, but he hadn't been as closely answered as he is now.

Overall, the poll track in the governor's race indicates one clear takeaway: the race is close and prone to minor shifts.

A caveat about SurveyUSA's track: It has had some inexplicable shifts and the independent respondents in the poll have shifted the most. Two weeks ago, Scott led among independents by 13. Now Crist leads them by 8 -- a 21-point shift.

Also, compared to other polls, SurveyUSA is finding far lower support for Florida's medical-marijuana initiative: 52-33 percent. It takes 60 percent of the vote to approve a constitutional amendment in Florida. The average of other major polls puts support at 64 percent.

A bonus for all you poll unskewers: Don't bother. This poll reflects a Republican-Democrat-Independent respondent sample of 40-40-19 percent (numbers are rounded). Blending the 2006 and 2010 turnout rates by party ID, it would likely be a better if the poll had a 38-36-26 percent breakdown. But after rejiggering the poll based on that GOP+2 model, Crist still leads, by about 5 percentage points instead of 6.

Here's more from SurveyUSA and here's what the track looks like as of now

SurveyUSA 0930 gov race

Another conservative super PAC unveils TV ad against Miami Democrat Joe Garcia


The list of conservative political action committees funding television advertisements against Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia of Miami has gotten longer.

Freedom Partners Action Fund, a super PAC, unveiled a new 30-second spot Wednesday that will air as part of a "six-figure" media buy. The group is part of a broad midterm campaign against Democrats funded by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch.

"We've lost trust in Washington. Why? Politicians like Joe Garcia," the ad says.

"Florida families need a leader whom the can trust, who can be held accountable, and who will advocate policies that keep the state's economy moving forward," James Davis, a Freedom Partners Action Fund spokesman, said in a statement. "Rep. Garcia does not fit that bill."

Garcia has already been contending with ads from national Republicans and other conservative groups, including others linked to the Koch brothers. That has forced the Democrat to launch ads of his own against Republican opponent Carlos Curbelo, a Miami-Dade school board member.

Garcia and other congressional Democrats flooded potential donors' email inboxes leading up to a fundraising deadline midnight Tuesday begging for contributions to try to blunt deep-pocketed conservative groups.

"Everyone will be watching and if we show even a little weakness, we can expect even more Tea Party groups coming in October," one of Garcia's emails Tuesday said.


September 30, 2014

Billionaire launches 'Flag of Gratitude' site to bring nation's largest Old Glory to Miami


Coral Gables billionaire and GOP donor Mike Fernandez wants Miami to have the nation's largest U.S. flag, and he's ready to pay as much as $10 million to make it happen.

But not everyone's a fan, so Fernandez has launched a website called Flag of Gratitude to take his case to the public and collect petition signatures. Fernandez says the project needs just 1,000 square feet of public space, perferably at the corner of Museum Park on the water.

"We live in a Democracy. It is my humble opinion that we should all support this project. But a petition or a vote will allow for more transparency," Fernandez said by text message. "Most people who have voiced an opinion against it do not know. I am not asking for anything. I will pay its total cost."

Fernandez, a penniless immigrant from Cuba who went on to earn a fortune in the healthcare business, told The Herald last month that he wanted a memorial to celebrate the country that gave him so much opportunity.

“I started to chat with my wife and I said it would be a wonderful idea as a sign of gratitude for many of us who weren’t born in this country to do it in Miami,” he said. “Except maybe we can do it a little bigger in Miami.”


Lobbyist's daughter is making big-money/run-for-office-style moves

Via Saint Petersblog:

Lauren Book, the telegenic founder of the sexual abuse advocacy group Lauren’s Kids, has raised nearly $235,000 for Leadership for Broward, a political committee she established earlier this month.

The formation of this political committee, along with Book’s already high profile in Tallahassee, is fueling speculation that the daughter of mega-lobbyist Ron Book will run for Eleanor Sobel’s state Senate seat in Broward County. Sobel is term-limited from running again in 2016.

Despite these tea leaves, Book, reached in New York, said she has not made a decision about entering politics.

“I have a strong desire to serve our community and our great State,” said Book. “I want to expand my engagement and service but I have made no final decisions on running yet.”

More here

Floridians weigh in on environment and crime in Sunshine State Survey

Feeling safe in public places and concern about the environment are two critical concerns for Floridians, according to a new Sunshine State Survey on guns and the environment, administered by the University of South Florida and the A. C. Nielsen Company.

"It's clear that Floridians are increasingly worried about security in public places," said Susan MacManus, the survey director and professor at USF's College of Arts and Sciences. "They're also getting a little more critical about what the state has been doing about the environment."

Floridians believe the state's performance in protecting the environment has dropped, the survey found. "Excellent" and "good" ratings for the state's protection of the environment fell from 49 percent in 2012 to 44 percent in 2014. In 2014, "poor" ratings are three times higher than "excellent" ratings (20 percent versus 7 percent).

Residents who are 35 to 54 years old with a high school education or less gave the state higher points compared to older residents aged 55 to 64 years old and college graduates.

Continue reading "Floridians weigh in on environment and crime in Sunshine State Survey" »

NextGen Climate brings 'Gov. Rick Scott's ark' to Miami


Here is NextGen Climate's press release touting the arrival of "Rick Scott's Ark" to Miami on Tuesday.

NextGen Climate Takes Rick Scott’s Ark To Miami

NextGen Climate Calls Out Rick Scott for Failing to Address Climate Change


MIAMI—NextGen Climate is calling out Florida Governor Rick Scott for continuing to ignore the threat of climate change. Rick Scott’s Ark will be visiting the Miami Dade Convention Center today, just prior to the upcoming Climate Leadership Summit on October 1st and 2nd.


“Florida has failed to step up on the issue of climate change although we are ground zero,” said Miami Dade County Commissioner, Daniella Levine Cava.  "Meanwhile, communities like mine are struggling to deal with ever-rising tides and damaging floods as our sea levels rise. Fortunately we know what to do, and some of our local cities like Miami Beach are at the forefront of positive change."

 Read the rest of the release after the jump ... 

Continue reading "NextGen Climate brings 'Gov. Rick Scott's ark' to Miami" »

Democrat Rankin challenges CFO Atwater to a debate


RankinlettertoatwaterDemocrat William Rankin has challenged Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater to a debate, but just like nearly everything else with Rankin's campaign the idea is not gaining much traction.

In a letter dated today, Rankin said he is willing to debate his Republican opponent "anytime and anywhere on the issues." Because they are both from South Florida, he suggested Palm Beach as a location and floated the ideas of a TV station or a local university as the setting.

"While you may find it more politically advantageous to publically attack the Democratic Governor of New York and the Democratic nominee for Governor of Florida, the people of Florida deserve something more; a CFO candidate that is focused on the relevant issues at home such as safe keeping of the state’s assets and solvency of public employees retirement fund, jobs and economic prosperity, human dignity issues, and lower insurance rates for the people of Florida and their families," Rankin wrote.

Atwater's campaign seems less than enthusiastic about the idea. Spokesman Brian Hughes would only say the candidates may "share a stage" at some point on the campaign trail, a far cry from a structured debate that Rankin proposed.

"Jeff Atwater is busy traveling the state to lay out a strong record of success as CFO," Hughes said. "With public events and forums yet to come, I imagine there would be an opportunity for Jeff and his challenger to share a stage if schedules allow."

Rankin is considered a long shot to unseat incumbent Atwater, who has raised $2.7 million as of Sept. 19. Rankin has less than $16,000 in cash in his account.

The Florida Democratic Party has also kept Rankin at arm's length, and he has not campaigned alongside other statewide candidates for office.

Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio to headline Rick Scott fundraiser at the Biltmore


UnnamedThere's an outside chance former Gov. Jeb Bush and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio might run against each other for president in two years. But they're certainly aligned on almost everything else, including their support of Gov. Rick Scott and their dislike of Democrat Charlie Crist (who lost to Rubio in the 2010 Senate race).

So Bush, Rubio and Rubio's longtime friend, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, are headlining an 11:30 a.m. Oct. 24 Scott fundraiser at the Coral Gables Biltmore, where Bush has an office. Bush lives in the city as does Lopez-Cantera. Rubio lives next door, in West Miami.

Suggestied donations start at $2,500/person and $25,000 for the even chair luncheon.