September 22, 2016

How Scott sidelined Lopez-Cantera during the GOP Senate race

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@PatriciaMazzei

Something unusual happened to Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera this month: Gov. Rick Scott started giving him things to do again.

None of it was heavy lifting. But the change to Lopez-Cantera’s public schedule was immediate and striking: The calendar hit September, and the Miami-based lieutenant was hitting the road, touring businesses, visiting schools and attending meetings after a summer of political exile.

For three months, Lopez-Cantera had hardly been visible in matters of state — while Scott had one of his busiest seasons in office. The Pulse gay nightclub shooting in Orlando. The Zika virus outbreak in Miami. The Hurricane Hermine aftermath in Tallahassee. Scott moved from crisis to crisis, seizing the chance to appear on camera as a hands-on chief executive.

Lopez-Cantera played little part. He could have served as a Spanish-speaking surrogate to the families of the Orlando victims, many of whom were Hispanic. He could have been a constant state presence in his hometown of Miami as Zika cases piled up.

Instead, his calendar usually listed him as having “no scheduled events.”

“Carlos hasn’t had anything to do, other than show up at a photo op,” said his predecessor, former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll. “Which is a discredit to him, because the people elected a governor and a lieutenant governor to work on their behalf.”

A Miami Herald review of the governor’s and lieutenant governor’s public schedules from June 12 (the day of the Pulse shooting) to Aug. 30 (the day of the Florida primary) found 254 events for Scott, compared to only 21 for Lopez-Cantera. On at least four occasions, Scott attended an event in Miami-Dade or Broward counties — within driving distance from Lopez-Cantera’s Coral Gables home — without the LG.

What changed in September? The primary was over. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio had crushed Republican challenger Carlos Beruff.

More here.

Photo credit: Mark Wallheiser, Associated Press

August 31, 2016

Scott praises Beruff after loss then (13 hours later) Rubio on victory

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@JeremySWallace & @ByKristenMClark

Carlos Beruff may have lost badly in his race against U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, but his effort is still winning praise from Gov. Rick Scott who helped encourage Beruff to run and heaped praise on him during joint speaking events with Beruff. Within minutes of Rubio salting away the win, Scott took to Twitter and Facebook to congratulate Beruff -- not Rubio.

Beruff wasn't the only one to get praise from Scott. The governor also celebrated Republicans Matt Gaetz and Francis Rooney for winning GOP primaries for Congress.

But Scott conspicuously waited almost 13 hours to congratulate Rubio -- the Republican incumbent who trounced Beruff 72 percent to 18 percent in unofficial results from Tuesday's primary.

The Facebook post this morning praising Rubio came shortly after a Herald/Times reporter asked Scott's spokeswoman why the governor had congratulated Beruff but not Rubio.

August 29, 2016

What you need to know for Tuesday’s primary election

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@alextdaugherty and @doug_hanks

Planning to vote in Tuesday’s primary election? We’ve provided answers to a list of frequently asked questions.

Numerous races are on the ballot, notably the election for Miami-Dade County mayor, along with Republican and Democratic primaries for U.S. Senate. Various state legislative, school board, county commission and judicial seats are also up for grabs in Miami-Dade and Broward.

I’m not a registered Republican or Democrat. Should I bother to vote?

For some offices, like U.S. Senate and Congress, only registered members of a specific party may vote. But in Miami-Dade County, all registered voters can cast a ballot for mayor, school board, county commissioner and judge. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff election will be held in November for the top two finishers.

In Broward, independents can vote in non-partisan races, including contests for judge, state attorney and school board. Voters in both counties are also voting on a constitutional amendment about solar energy.

So is the mayor’s race in Miami-Dade ending Tuesday or not?

That depends. If one candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, the race ends. If not, the race heads for a November run-off on Election Day between the top two finishers.

That’s just for the mayor’s race?

No, that’s the rule for all non-partisan primaries, which is how most county-level and city-level races are decided. So school board races, judge races and other local posts could wind up on the November ballot if no winner is declared Tuesday.

What about the races for Miami-Dade County Commission?

Those three races would be eligible for a run-off, except each contest only has two candidates. A run-off is only a possibility with more than two candidates.

Fact-checking the Florida Senate race

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After months of being bombarded with campaign ads and mailers, Florida primary voters will decide Tuesday which U.S. Senate candidates will move on to the general election.

We’ve been tracking the most visible candidates in both parties on our Truth-O-Meter for months. Here’s a look at how some statements from the contenders -- Marco Rubio, Carlos Beruff, Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson -- stack up.

Keep reading from PolitiFact Florida.

August 19, 2016

In tough editorial, Miami Herald recommends Marco Rubio and long-shot Pam Keith for Senate

From the Miami Herald editorial board:

Democratic and Republican leaders have displayed a damn-the-voters attitude in this year’s Florida Senate primary races that discredits both parties. They’re doing their best to rig the outcome before a single vote is cast.

In the Democratic race, the leadership has placed its bet on U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, who narrowly beat firebrand GOP incumbent Allen West in 2012 in a district that leans slightly Republican. Both President Obama and Vice President Biden have campaigned with Mr. Murphy, with the president featured in a frequent Murphy TV commercial.

The party leadership sees Rep. Murphy as more palatable to voters than primary challenger Alan Grayson, a feisty, mince-no-words congressman from Orlando. But that should be up to the voters to decide. That’s why we have primaries instead of appointed nominees. Stacking the deck against Rep. Grayson corrupts the process.

On the Republican side, party leaders are scared to death of losing the seat held by Sen. Marco Rubio. They persuaded him to go back on this word after he’d said No to this race countless times. Three candidates dropped out of what had been a five-person race, including Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, a proven vote-getter in Miami-Dade County, and newcomer Todd Wilcox, a conservative military veteran who made a good impression before exiting.

When a party leaves its own members with fewer choices, or abandons neutrality to favor one candidate over another, voters lose. It’s an insult to anyone who wants fairness in the electoral system. And it’s one more reason so many voters despise partisan politics.

More here.

Get to know Florida's U.S. Senate contenders in the August primary

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@ByKristenMClark

In Florida’s closely watched and highly competitive U.S. Senate race, four Republicans and five Democrats are competing in the Aug. 30 primaries for coveted spots on the general election ballot.

Incumbent Republican Marco Rubio and Democratic U.S. Reps. Alan Grayson and Patrick Murphy are the most well-known names on each party’s ballot, but they face resilient challengers hoping to edge out a come-from-behind victory.

After a failed presidential run, Rubio wants to stay in office for another six-year term, while Democrats are pulling no punches to unseat him — pouring money and high-profile endorsements behind Murphy’s bid, in particular. Democrats hope a victory in Florida’s race will help them win back control of the U.S. Senate in 2017.

Click here to learn about the top contenders for Florida’s U.S. Senate contest.

MORE: Miami Herald's Voters Guide

August 12, 2016

PolitiFact Florida: Carlos Beruff's claim about vetting refugees

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Bradenton developer Carlos Beruff wants voters to know that he plans to be tough on national security and immigration, because right now the FBI has no way to guarantee America’s safety as refugees flood the United States.

"Thousands of Syrian refugees are pouring into our country, thanks to President Obama," Beruff said in an Aug. 8 Facebook post. "This is an open invitation to acts of terror. Even the director of the FBI said that we cannot properly vet people coming from the Middle East."

Immigration has been a major focus of this election cycle, with Republicans routinely calling for more restrictions to ensure security in the United States. But did James Comey actually say the FBI "cannot properly vet" people coming from the Middle East?

No, he didn’t. Beruff is distorting a point Comey was making about a flaw in the vetting process, but he was reiterating the system in place was actually much better than it had been in years past.

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

August 11, 2016

PolitiFact: Did Carlos Beruff support Charlie Crist after party switch?

 

Florida’s GOP primary for U.S. Senate has turned into mutual finger-pointing over which candidate is possibly more like former Republican Charlie Crist.

A super PAC called the Florida First Project released an ad July 14 calling Sen. Marco Rubio’s primary opponent Carlos Beruff a "Charlie Crist Republican," a major insult among the Florida GOP faithful. The PAC supports Rubio’s re-election bid and is managed by several staffers from Conservative Solutions PAC, which backed Rubio’s presidential run.

"Beruff supported Crist even after he switched parties, and stabbed Republicans in the back," the ad says.

The line refers specifically to the Bradenton developer’s support for Crist’s 2010 Senate campaign against Rubio. Former Gov. Crist switched from Republican to having no party affiliation as Rubio’s campaign gained steam. After losing that race, Crist lost a 2014 re-election bid for governor as a Democrat, and currently is running as a Democrat for a U.S. House seat held by Rep. David Jolly, R-Indian Shores.

Beruff has released his own ad counterattacking Rubio, accusing him of being a "political opportunist" like Crist.

We wondered whether Rubio’s challenge of Beruff’s Republican bona fides was correct. Did Beruff still support Crist after Crist became an independent candidate?

His actions at the time don't indicate Beruff shunned Crist entirely, despite what he says now.

See what Joshua Gillin of PolitiFact Florida found.

August 10, 2016

Rubio names South Florida backers, and the list is long

@PatriciaMazzei

Marco Rubio might be comfortably running in the Republican U.S. Senate primary, but he's still doing things like lining up names of GOP supporters across Florida, in a show of force against rival Carlos Beruff.

Rubio's South Florida "grassroots leadership team" completes his region-by-region effort to bring together the party's establishment and activists behind his re-election. Beruff has repeatedly scoffed at the tactic, saying he's running an insurgent, outsider campaign. Polls show him trailing ahead of the Aug. 30 primary.

Here's Rubio's South Florida list:

Continue reading "Rubio names South Florida backers, and the list is long" »

August 04, 2016

Poll: Rubio leads Grayson, Murphy by wide margins

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@ByKristenMClark

A new poll out by Suffolk University's Political Research Center today shows Republican incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio up by at least 13 percentage points on either of his likely Democratic opponents in November's election for Florida's U.S. Senate seat.

In a match-up against Democratic U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, Rubio leads 45 percent to Grayson's 31 percent, with about 22 percent undecided and 2 percent who didn't answer. Against Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, Rubio's lead narrows by 1 percentage point; he led 46 percent to Murphy's 33 percent, with about 19 percent undecided and 2 percent who didn't answer.

Suffolk University surveyed 500 likely Florida voters by telephone between Aug. 1-3. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.4 percentage points.

Florida's U.S. Senate race has garnerned national attention and millions of dollars in political spending because the election could decide which party controls the chamber next year.

The university's polling results further solidify Rubio's status as the front-runner in the Senate race, especially within his own party primary.

Of the 165 people polled who planned to vote in the upcoming Republican primary, 62 percent said they would vote for or were leaning toward Rubio, while his main challenger Carlos Beruff got 12 percent support. About 24 percent remained undecided and 1 percent didn't answer. Lesser-known candidates Dwight Mark Anthony Young and Ernie Rivera got 1 percent and 0 percent support in the poll, respectively.

In the Democratic primary, "undecided" was in the lead -- as it has been in many polls for months -- followed by Murphy.

About 40 percent of the 168 likely Democratic primary voters surveyed said they didn't know yet who they'd vote for -- even as some ballots have been mailed out already and there's less than a month until the election.

Murphy got about 36 percent support, followed by Grayson with 17 percent. Pam Keith received about 2 percent support, while newer candidates Reginald Luster and "Rocky" Roque De La Fuente were tied with around 1 percent support. (Two percent of respondents didn't answer.)

Both the Democratic and Republican primaries for Florida's U.S. Senate race are Aug. 30. The winners will face each other in the November election.

Photo credit: Alan Diaz / AP