October 21, 2010

Hastings: Dear Democrats, vote for Meek or else

U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings' office just released this letter addressed to Florida voters:

The funny thing about conventional wisdom in an election year is that it only lasts until the voters decide it is no longer conventional or wise.  The media tells us that Congressman Kendrick Meek cannot win the Senate, that Democrats and independents will split their votes with Governor Charlie Crist, and, in the end, that Marco Rubio will be Florida’s next senator.  But politics is about self-determination and, if Democrats determine to rally themselves behind Congressman Meek, this election will suddenly be about real choice – not electoral mathematics.

There is only one Democrat in this race.  Kendrick Meek has been faithfully serving his South Florida constituents in Congress, bringing much-needed federal dollars to his district and demonstrating progressive leadership on issues ranging from job creation and economic development to United States support for Haiti’s recovery.   Governor Crist is no Democrat, despite what many Democrats want to tell themselves.   Governor Crist may be an independent for the purposes of this campaign, but he whole-heartedly supports the right-wing agenda, from preserving Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy to opposing President Obama’s health care reforms that benefit millions of Floridians across the state.

I understand the temptation for Democrats to hang on to Governor Crist in the hope that he will eke out a win against Rubio.  At least, that is what the conventional wisdom says.  But what if we ignore the talk show certainties and instead create our own reality by rallying around the one true Democrat, Kendrick Meek?  Polls show that combining support for both Crist and Meek would add up to over 50 percent, handily beating Rubio.   Just by switching their allegiance from Crist to Meek, Democrats would suddenly make this campaign very competitive – and very uncomfortable for Rubio.

But here is one bit of conventional wisdom I do agree with: if Democrats insist on stubbornly clinging to Crist, Marco Rubio will indeed win the election.   Floridians are well acquainted with what happens when a few crucial voters support a long-shot third party candidate.  So don’t settle for Crist; what he offers is only a slightly warmed-over version of Rubio’s Tea Party brand of politics.  It is essential for Democrats to stand together united to support the candidate who represents the clearest alternative to Marco Rubio.  The only real candidate of progress in this election is Democrat Kendrick Meek.  I hope that he can count on your vote. 

September 30, 2010

Alcee Hastings takes on the Tea Party and Ronald Reagan

Rep. Alcee Hastings is declining the Fort Lauderdale Tea Party's invite to debate -- but says it's not out of fear.

"Your reaction to my refusal to attend your debate will probably be that I am afraid to debate," he says in a letter he sent to Tea Partiers -- and the press. "Nothing could be further from the truth. 

"The simple reason that I refuse is that I do not think that any of your 41 members or your intended audience are going to vote for me in this election. Instead, I choose to spend my time and efforts trying to turn out the people that I have been privileged and honored to represent over the past 18 years. 

"Tea Party Fort Lauderdale, we have very different ideas. Your basic premise is to take your country back. I want our country to move forward. You represent the “party of me” while Democrats and I represent the 'party of we.'  Two great Americans proved this:  John F. Kennedy said, 'Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country,' and Ronald Reagan said, 'Are you better off than you were four years ago?' "

The Broward Democrat has a Republican challenger, Bernard Sansaricq, a Haiti native who was president of the Haitian Senate in 1994.

September 24, 2010

Hastings' campaign to stump for Klein at black churches

Democratic U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings has his own race in November in a Broward-Palm Beach district but his campaign will lend to a hand to a neighboring Congressman starting this weekend.

Campaign workers for Hastings, who is black, will distribute U.S. Rep. Ron Klein's campaign materials at black churches in Palm Beach County starting this weekend and continue for the next several weekends, said Art Kennedy, Hastings' chief of staff on leave from that job to work on Hastings' campaign. Kennedy said that Hastings' campaign workers will also go door to door in some Palm Beach County neighborhoods for Klein.

Klein faces Allen West, a black Republican whose $4 million warchest and youtube video have brought him nationwide attention.

Only about 5 percent of the voters in Klein's Broward-Palm Beach district are black -- so having Hastings stump for the white Congressman is a sign that this could be a close race.

"Every vote is going to count,'' Kennedy said. 

September 08, 2010

Alcee Hastings on Quran burning: "Disgraceful to American values"

"The downright racism behind this hate-filled organization’s threat to burn copies of the Quran is disgraceful to American values. The issue here is not our coveted right of free speech; the issue is American values.

"Hate is hate and this is free speech running amuck.  It is irresponsible to hide behind the First Amendment and knowingly put our U.S. military in harm’s way. Not only do I condemn these proposed actions for their complete disrespect to the Islamic religion, but I condemn these actions for their potential to
incite further violence and hate crimes."

If the book burning proceeds, Hastings said he plans to introduce a House resolution next week condemning the burning.

August 31, 2010

WSJ: Alcee Hastings use of travel stipend questioned

From the Wall Street Journal: "Congressional investigators are questioning a half-dozen lawmakers for possibly misspending government funds meant to pay for overseas travel, according to people familiar with the matter.

"The investigation follows a Wall Street Journal article in March that said lawmakers had used daily cash stipends, meant to cover certain costs of official government travel overseas, to cover expenses that appeared to be unauthorized by House rules. An independent ethics board has referred the matter to the House ethics committee.

Continue reading "WSJ: Alcee Hastings use of travel stipend questioned" »

July 28, 2010

Haiti gets aid, but Congressional Black Caucus votes against war funding

The Congressional Black Caucus held a briefing Tuesday to register impatience with the pace of rebuilding efforts in Haiti -- and then mostly voted in opposition to a war spending bill that includes nearly $3 billion in aid for the earthquake rattled country.

The "no" votes included Broward's Alcee Hastings and Jacksonville's Corrine Brown. Kendrick Meek, who was campaigning in South Florida for the Senate, missed the vote. The "yes" votes included Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart.

CBC chairwoman Barbara Lee said the caucus largely opposed the bill because it was stripped of spending on domestic spending measures, including $10 billion to avoid teacher layoffs.

July 24, 2010

Hastings criticizes Obama's 'poor' treatment of Meek

Politico: Black lawmakers are prodding the White House to get more involved in Florida Senate hopeful Kendrick Meek's campaign amid growing concern that less-than-robust backing from President Barack Obama will signal to Democrats that it’s all right to help independent Charlie Crist.

Rep. Alcee Hastings, a black Florida Democrat, told POLITICO Thursday that he might not work for Obama's re-election if the president doesn't get into gear for Meek — a four-term House member seeking to become the first black candidate elected to the Senate since President Obama won in Illinois in 2004.

"If they do not step up their support for Kendrick, then they cannot expect that I and my allies will support them in 2012," Hastings said, after describing the West Wing's treatment of Meek as "poor."

Hastings and Meek were among a cadre of Sunshine State congressmembers who worked against Obama in the presidential races and who stayed with Hillary Clinton until long after it was clear she had no path to victory.

Rep. Barbara Lee, chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said African American lawmakers have made "very clear" to the White House and congressional leaders that black lawmakers expect total support for Meek.

White House officials counter by saying there’s nothing ambiguous about the president’s position: He’s endorsed Meek. And while he's done some work to shore up a handful of incumbent senators in pricy markets around the country, his campaigning for non-incumbents has been almost non-existent so far.

Meek's camp, which otherwise declined to comment for this story, confirmed late Friday that a long-promised fundraiser featuring White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel will be held on August 2 – one of fewer than five he's doing for Senate candidates.

Full story here.

May 18, 2010

Everglades boosters to party with Blues Traveler, invade the House and Senate

The Everglades Foundation and its partners Wednesday will kick off two days of talks and lobbying efforts on behalf of the Florida Everglades.

Tom Brokaw moderates the kickoff Wednesday, a discussion of the ecological and economic benefits of the Everglades restoration efforts. Tomorrow night, Sens. Bill Nelson and George LeMieux along with Reps. Alcee Hastings and Mario Diaz-Balart co-chair an "Old Florida-style barbecue" and reception featuring the band, Blues Traveler. On Thursday, attendees lobby lawmakers.

"Our message to policymakers will be clear: maintaining support for Everglades restoration has never been more important," said Kirk Fordham, CEO, Everglades Foundation.

April 13, 2010

Alcee Hastings calls for a White House conference on Haiti

Broward Dem Alcee Hastings is asking President Obama to hold a White House Conference on Haiti within the next year.

"Under this bill, the major stakeholders in rebuilding, along with other interested parties, will come together to share their knowledge and best practices and identify gaps in the recovery process," Hastings said. "It is my hope that out of this conference, opportunities for collaboration and coordination in projects big and small will emerge."

April 07, 2010

White House says it will listen to Florida drilling critics

The White House says its reviewing the letters from four Florida Democrats hotly opposed to President Obama's plans to expand offshore oil and gas drilling.

Reps Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Alcee Hastings and Corrine Brown Tuesday joined Rep. Kathy Castor in sending a letter to Obama, protesting the decision.

Says White House spokeswoman Moira Mack: "The President is working to implement a comprehensive energy strategy that leverages all of our diverse energy sources. After more than a year of review, including in depth consultations with experts and leaders including the Florida delegation,  the President and Secretary Salazar announced a responsible plan that will protect areas vital to tourism, the environment and our national security while expanding offshore oil and gas exploration. We have received and are reviewing the letters and will ensure input from Members of Congress is heard.”