July 20, 2015

Broward GOP chair quits

The chair of the Broward GOP has resigned after less than a year which continues the cycle of years of frequent turnover.

According to Red Broward, Christine Butler sent an email to the Broward Republican Executive Committee stating that she is getting married and moving to Palm Beach County where she might run for Supervisor of Elections. Her resignation is effective Aug. 31. Butler could not be reached.

As a newcomer in Palm Beach County, Butler will likely face an uphill battle if she decides to challenge Supervisor of Elections Susan Bucher. A former state legislator who was first elected to the supervisor position in 2008, Bucher will have the advantage of name recognition and being a Democrat in a county with 360,000 registered Democrats and 238,000 registered Republicans. She was also one of the leading critics of the botched attempted by Gov. Rick Scott’s administration to purge the voter rolls of non-citizens.

Butler, an attorney, was elected to her position by party activists in December to replace former Davie mayor Tom Truex who served for about a year before deciding not to run again.

The chair of the Broward Republican Executive Committee has the difficult task of trying to make inroads in a left-leaning county amid various GOP factions that range from tea party types to more moderate Republicans.

In recent years, Broward has rarely elected Republicans countywide but the party can have more influence in statewide elections because it has one of the larger contingents of GOP voters in the state.

There are about 240,000 registered GOP voters in Broward while the Democrats have about 550,000 and independents total about 300,000.

Ideally, such groups serve as the foot soldiers and help spread the word about local, state and federal candidates. But Republicans campaigning for president and U.S. Senate will set up their own grassroots operations to reach out to local voters.

Some activists have said that the group has strayed from that mission at times by getting distracted by internal fighting -- for example whether to oust a member who favored same-sex marriage. In 2014, the group’s invited speakers included a conspiracy theorist and a woman parodied on The Daily Show for her opposition to a long-time mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee that wanted to expand.

While the Broward Republicans have struggled to keep a chair in the position for two years, the Broward Democrats have their own internal brawl every four years about whether Mitch Ceasar should remain the chair.

This post has been updated.


July 07, 2015

Zach Zachariah holds Jeb Bush fundraiser in Fort Lauderdale July 31

Former Gov. Jeb Bush will attend a fundraiser for his presidential campaign at cardiologist Zach Zachariah’s Fort Lauderdale home on July 31, the same day he speaks at the National Urban League at the Broward Convention Center. (Hillary Clinton will also speak at the event.)

Ed Pozzuoli, past chairman of the Broward GOP and a director at the Tripp Scott law firm, is a co-host of the fundraiser. Other organizers include former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux and Belinda Keiser, Vice Chancellor of Community Relations and Student Advancement for Keiser University, Jon Hage, CEO of Charter Schools USA, Justin Sayfie, editor of Sayfie Review.

Zachariah is one of Broward’s top GOP fundraisers and has raised millions of dollars for candidates. He was cleared of civil insider stock trading in 2010.

July 02, 2015

Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes faces challenger

Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes, who has faced heat from some county commissioners about her legal counsel, will face a challenge from Democratic consultant David Brown in 2016.

Brown, who filed his paperwork this week to run against Snipes, ran for the position in 2000 and lost a Democratic runoff to Miriam Oliphant who won the general election. In 2003, Gov. Jeb Bush removed Oliphant from office after she botched the 2002 primary. Bush appointed Snipes who then went on win her next three elections.

Snipes, a 72-year-old Lauderdale Lakes Democrat, told the Miami Herald in April that she decided to seek re-election. Today, she told the Herald that she plans to file her paperwork in the next few weeks.

Broward County Commissioner Mark Bogen recently criticized Snipes because her contract attorney, Burnadette Norris-Weeks, donated money to his opponent. (We previously wrote she campaigned for an opponent but she actually gave money to Lisa Aronson.) Snipes said she plans to seek an opinion from the Florida Bar regarding whether Norris-Weeks can campaign.

Brown promised if elected to establish a policy to prevent employees and contract workers from campaigning for candidates who run on the Broward ballot including in local, statewide and national race. He would also ban donations in such races.

Continue reading "Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes faces challenger" »

June 30, 2015

Carlos Lopez-Cantera says he met with Chip LaMarca to discuss state business -- not Senate race

Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera’s official schedule showed he was meeting with Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca today, fueling speculation that they must be huddling about the Senate race.

As the only Republican on the County Commission and a former chair of the Broward GOP, LaMarca would be one of the few elected officials in the county to help Lopez-Cantera campaign in the left-leaning county. He is expected to announce his Senate race July 15th.

Their meeting prompted the Florida Democratic Party to continue to raise questions about whether Lopez-Cantera is campaigning on the state dime.

But both Lopez-Cantera and LaMarca told the Herald after the meeting that they didn't discuss the Senate race.

LaMarca told the Herald via text that they discussed new companies moving to Broward and “we talked about national politics and the presidential” race.

Continue reading "Carlos Lopez-Cantera says he met with Chip LaMarca to discuss state business -- not Senate race" »

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler explains why he signed same-sex marriage proclamation

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler, who voted against a same-sex resolution last year, signed a proclamation Friday celebrating the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Seiler has tried to stay on the sidelines of the same-sex marriage debate.

A married Catholic who has four children, Seiler told the Miami Herald in 2013 that he had no position on the issue of same-sex marriage but supported civil unions and domestic partner benefits for city employees. In June 2014, Seiler voted against a city resolution in support of same sex marriage. The former state representative and Wilton Manors mayor has been mentioned as a potential future statewide candidate but his position on same-sex marriage could put him at odds with other Democrats.

The proclamation, which says it's in recognition of the "Marriage Equality Landmark Decision," was read in part at a rally Friday at the Fort Lauderdale federal courthouse by City Commissioner Dean Trantalis, the city’s first openly gay commissioner. The proclamation states that Fort Lauderdale has the highest concentration of same-sex households in the nation, according to the 2012 Census.

Continue reading "Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler explains why he signed same-sex marriage proclamation" »

Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera meets with Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca today

As he gets ready to officially announce his U.S. Senate bid, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera meets with Chip LaMarca, Broward’s lone Republican County Commissioner today.

The two politicians will meet at 12:30 p.m. at an undisclosed location in Fort Lauderdale, according to Lopez-Cantera’s official schedule.

Lopez-Cantera announced earlier this month that he will officially launch his campaign July 15 -- after the campaign finance filing deadline for the current quarter. U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis of Ponte Vedra Beach launched his campaign in May; U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller of Chumuckla is considering a bid. On the Democratic side, U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, announced in March and U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, may announce in July.

We asked LaMarca if he thinks Lopez-Cantera will ask him to head up his Broward campaign operation.

Continue reading "Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera meets with Broward Commissioner Chip LaMarca today " »

June 27, 2015

Fort Lauderdale mayor signs same-sex marriage proclamation

via @AmySherman1

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler signed a proclamation Friday celebrating the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage by the U.S. Supreme Court.

That's hardly surprising for his city, with its robust gay population. But it's a little surprising for Seiler, who in the past had tried to stay on the sidelines of the same-sex marriage debate.

The proclamation, which says it's in recognition of the "Marriage Equality Landmark Decision," was read in part at a rally Friday at the Fort Lauderdale federal courthouse by City Commissioner Dean Trantalis.


June 26, 2015

Gay community celebrates in Broward

Jeff Bloom, 72, recalls decades ago when gay men got arrested in New York City for dancing together and when the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders used by psychologists labeled homosexuality a disease.

On Friday, Bloom witnessed a major milestone in the advancement of gay rights when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to allow same-sex marriage nationwide.

“To me, I never thought in my lifetime I would see something like this,” said Bloom, a single gay man while getting his hair cut at the Richard’s Men’s Hair Shop in Wilton Manors. “They recognized love is love.”

Customers and staff watched the news on the TV at the hair salon on Wilton Drive, the heart of Broward’s gay community.

“All of us started jumping up and down and screaming,” said David Krombholz, manager of the shop.

Older members of the gay community said they hope that younger generations will learn about the struggles they faced but acknowledged they will now grow up in a different time. Many recounted how they spent years of their lives hiding their relationships at work and elsewhere and now have seen the highest court declare equality.

Continue reading "Gay community celebrates in Broward " »

May 25, 2015

Republicans have tough road in appealing to Florida Jewish voters

via @adamsmithtimes @KirbyWilson88

Republicans can’t win the White House without winning Florida, so every presidential election cycle they look longingly at Florida’s Jewish voters.

It’s such a tantalizingly obvious key to locking down 29 electoral votes: hundreds of thousands of Florida Jews who overwhelmingly vote Democratic.

Just reason with them, the thinking goes. They are disproportionately affluent and well-educated. Surely these Floridians can be persuaded that voting Republican is more in their self-interest, through lower taxes and unwavering support for the conservative government in Israel.

The difference between three-quarters of Florida Jews voting for the Democratic nominee and two-thirds voting Democratic could be 50,000 votes — enough to decide the election.

“We’re looking to do whatever we can,” said Mark McNulty of the Republican Jewish Coalition, which spent $6.5 million in 2012 trying to sow doubts with Jewish voters about President Barack Obama’s commitment to Israel. “In places like Florida and Ohio with substantial Jewish populations, a couple percentage points can mean the difference in an election.”

But as much as political groups like the RJC like to say they are steadily gaining ground with Jewish voters, their progress is more accurately measured in inches than miles.

More here.

May 21, 2015

Marco Rubio to host South Florida fundraisers for Iowa senator


To court Iowa, Marco Rubio plans to host three events next week for Republican Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley -- in South Florida.

Grassley will hit three counties on Tuesday: Miami-Dade for breakfast, Broward for lunch and Palm Beach for dinner, according to an invitation emailed Thursday to some of Rubio's local political donors.

Breakfast will take place at the Coral Gables office of Jorge Luis Lopez, an attorney and lobbyist; lunch at the Pompano Beach headquarters of Allegiance Crane & Equipment, an equipment-rental company whose chief executive is Jim Robertson; and dinner at the Palm Beach home of Amanda and Chuck Schumacher, an auto dealer. 

Donors will have to fork over $1,000 each -- or $2,700 to get more access -- for the breakfast and lunch. Dinner with Grassley requires a $10,400 contribution, though $2,700 will get donors into a larger reception. The money will go to Grassley Hawkeye Fund, the senator's political committee.

"Chairman Grassley -- U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee -- has been very supportive of our friend and Miami's native son, Marco Rubio in Iowa and we proudly want to reciprocate," Lopez wrote in an email to supporters Thursday.

As one of two Republican senators in Iowa, which holds the first presidential caucuses of 2016, Grassley is used to being wined and dined by candidates. Jeb Bush attended a fund-raising lunch for Grassley in Iowa City last week.