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 08, 2016

Rudy Giuliani is still mad at Charlie Crist

APTOPIX GOP 2016 Convention
via @adamsmithtimes

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani phoned The Buzz this morning to welcome Hillary Clinton to Tampa Bay and talk up Donald Trump's vision for the economy, and ripped Clinton, Charlie Crist and President Barack Obama.

"Hillary's going to give us more of the same. She's given Obama and A-plus on the economy. She must be an easy grader," Giuliani said, noting that percentage of Americans participating in the jobs market, 62.8 percent, is the lowest since the 1970s.

Trump is scheduled to flesh out his vision for economic growth at a noon speech in Detroit, including cutting the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent to spur investment, temporarily halting new regulations, and eliminating the estate tax.

"Hillary is the bought and paid for candidate of the Washington special interests," said Giuliani, 72, noting that she is widely seen as having reversed herself on supporting the TPP trade deal and Keystone XL pipeline. "The out of control environmentalists have complete control of her. ... Donald will put coal miners back to work, he will support all forms of energy, which includes natural gas, fracking, nuclear power."

Asked about Trump's plan to build a massive wall across the southern border and have Mexico pay for it, the part-time Palm Beach resident said "a wall could be helpful" as part of a program to stop illegal immigration, but he's not up to speed on Mexico paying its part.

"I don't understand the program by which they would pay for it," he said.

Continue reading "Rudy Giuliani is still mad at Charlie Crist" »

July 20, 2016

Crist disavows rumors that he's on VP short list: 'that's news to me'

Charlie_crist-729215via @mikevansickler

Like most political observers, former Florida governor Charlie Crist thought he had a good handle on who Hillary Clinton was considering for her VP, which she's expected to announce this week, likely during her visit to Florida this weekend. 

But then his phone started ringing from reporters about a tweet from CBC News Alerts claiming that he, Charlie Crist, candidate for U.S. Congress, was in fact on Clinton's short list.

And then, helpfully:

Could it be true?

"That's news to me," Crist told the Herald Times. "I will be at the rally with her in Tampa." 

Continue reading "Crist disavows rumors that he's on VP short list: 'that's news to me'" »

June 23, 2016

PolitiFact Florida: Obama's Half True claim about Charlie Crist


Former Gov. Charlie Crist once faced withering criticism for hugging President Barack Obama, but now Obama is returning the favor by embracing Crist’s congressional campaign.

Obama endorsed Crist, a Republican-turned-independent-turned-Democrat, for a U.S. House seat in a June 20, 2016, statement. He said Crist "has always put people above politics," and proved it during his single gubernatorial term between January 2007 and January 2011 — right as the Great Recession gripped the state following the housing market’s crash.

"As governor, in the face of partisan attacks, he (Charlie Crist) had the courage to save jobs and lead his state into economic recovery," Obama said.

By "courage," Obama means Crist, as a GOP governor, had the chutzpah to accept federal stimulus money from a Democratic president against the wishes of many Florida Republicans.

Is it fair to credit Crist with saving jobs and helping Florida recover? The data during Crist’s term is mixed, experts say, but the state did recover and accepting the stimulus certainly helped.

More here from Joshua Gillin of PolitiFact Florida.

GOP super PAC accuses Patrick Murphy, Charlie Crist of 'straw donation scheme'


A conservative super PAC aligned with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says it has filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission accusing Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy of orchestrating a "straw donation scheme."

The complaint from the Senate Leadership Fund also names former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, because similar donors gave to Crist's 2010 U.S. Senate campaign as gave to Murphy's first U.S. House race in 2012.

The super PAC bases its accusation on connections that several joint donors to Crist and Murphy have in common with a friend and former classmate of Murphy's: Ibrahim Al-Rashid.

The super PAC has attacked Murphy for weeks over donations he's gotten from the wealthy Al-Rashid, who in 2014 pleaded guilty to a domestic assault charge. The revelation of that criminal case prompted Murphy, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and others -- including former U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia of Miami -- to return or donate substantial contributions they'd gotten from the controversial donor.

The Senate Leadership Fund is milking that narrative further by now alleging Murphy, Crist and a dozen of their donors "appear to be part of a highly suspicious network of contributors" to the two politicians. The super PAC alleges that Al-Rashid used several relatives and friends as "straw donors" to circumvent federal campaign contribution limits in giving donations to Murphy's and Crist's campaigns.

Murphy's campaign said the allegations are "totally false."

Continue reading "GOP super PAC accuses Patrick Murphy, Charlie Crist of 'straw donation scheme'" »

June 03, 2016

In Miami, Obama praises Wasserman Schultz


President Barack Obama gave a shout-out in Miami on Friday to U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston, who faces a contested primary election.

Wasserman Schultz is chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, which hosted Obama for a fundraiser at the Coconut Grove home of attorney Robert Rubenstein. Her opponent, Tim Canova, has been endorsed by presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

Obama described Wasserman Schultz as "somebody who I don't know how she does it, because she's everywhere all the time, non-stop, and she's a mom and a wife and has been just incredibly supportive of my agenda."

"She's taken tough votes when they're the right thing to do, and she's somebody who I have counted on consistently," Obama said. "She's had my back. I want to make sure we have her back."

The about 90 donors gathered at the dinner gave her a standing ovation.

Obama also gave shout-outs to several other attendees, including former Gov. Charlie Crist, who is now running for Congress in St. Petersbur ("a great friend," Obama said). And he praised a candidate who wasn't there: U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter. Earlier Friday, Obama attended a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fundraiser for Murphy on Miami Beach.

"I think he's going to be outstanding in the United States Senate," Obama said.

Photo credit: Andrew Harnik, Associated Press

December 11, 2015

Will Jack Latvala run for Congress? Against Charlie Crist?

By William March, Tampa Bay Times

State Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, dropped a tantalizing hint Friday that he may have political plans beyond the state Senate.

Asked in a public meeting about his loss of a campaign for the Senate presidency, and what he hopes to accomplish despite that loss, Latvala said, “I think that I’m going to sort of paraphrase what Mark Twain said -- rumors of my demise are greatly exaggerated. I don’t think that we’ve written the last chapter of what I’m going to try to do in the public service arena. So stay tuned.”

After the Tampa Tiger Bay meeting at which he made the comments, Latvala refused to elaborate or directly answer questions about what office he might run for in the future, including the District 13 Congressional race to replace Rep. David Jolly.

Through his long career in Florida politics, Latvala hasn’t previously expressed much interest in leaving Florida to go to Washington.

But his loss of the Senate presidency frustrates a goal he’s had for years, and he has no love for the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination for the D-13 seat, Charlie Crist.

After a battle lasting several years, Latvala agreed recently to cede the Senate presidency from 2016-18 to Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, in return for a promise that he’ll chair the powerful appropriations committee.

Re-elected to the Senate in 2014, he is currently in what would be his final term unless redistricting affects his term limit.

He told the Tiger Bay audience he’s not bitter. He said the fact that there’s been no senate president from Pinellas County for 90 years was “one of the driving factors of me trying to get that job.

He added, “I am satisfied with the outcome that was worked out. I think I’ll be able to make a significant contribution to our area in the role that I’ll be assigned and I am satisfied with the kind of president that Sen Negron will be.

December 02, 2015

Reaction to Florida Supreme Court redistricting ruling

U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Miami:

No matter how the lines are drawn Florida 26 will always be a competitive district deserving a representative with a strong track record of working with Republicans and Democrats to get things done for ‎our community and the country. I have received a lot of support and positive feedback from the residents of Kendall, South Dade, and the Florida Keys during my first year in Congress, and I look forward to continuing my work on their behalf in the future.

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami

My love for South Florida knows no boundaries and every part of it is special to me. How can it not be when we live in paradise? I know it’s a humbling honor to represent our community and I’ll continue to work hard every day to continue to earn the trust so many have placed in me. I’m ready for the road ahead and hope South Floridians will join me in working to improve our home.

U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami Gardens:

To say that I am deeply disappointed by the Florida Supreme Court’s decision to approve the redistricting map drawn by the Fair Districts Coalition is a gross understatement. From the start, I strongly opposed the map known as CP-1 because it strips from District 24 several economic drivers and cultural attractions and threatens to return our community to its former status as the nation’s “most suffering” district. CP-1 removes from the district PortMiami, Bayside marketplace, AmericanAirlines Arena, Watson Island, Jungle Island/Parrot Island, and Bayfront Park, to name a few.

Continue reading "Reaction to Florida Supreme Court redistricting ruling" »

October 20, 2015

As he runs for Congress, a look back at Charlie Crist's Truth-O-Meter record and flips

It’s official: Former Gov. Charlie Crist will run for Congress in a St. Petersburg seat in what’s expected to become a Democratic-leaning district.

"Public service is in my heart," Crist said at a recreation center surrounded by several dozen supporters at his Oct. 20 announcement.

Crist will run in the 13th congressional district, a seat being redrawn amid a contentious redistricting battle. Since it appears that the district will end up being more friendly to a Democrat, the seat’s current holder -- David Jolly -- announced in July that he will run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Marco Rubio instead.

In the Democratic primary, Crist is facing Eric Lynn, a former Obama administration official who has raised about $550,000. Former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker, a Republican, is also considering a bid.

Crist was governor from 2007 to 2011, following years as a state senator, education commissioner and attorney general. He lost a bid for the U.S. Senate in 1998.

In 2010, as he was struggling in his second U.S. Senate bid and running against Rubio, Crist left the Republican Party and became an independent; he went on to lose the general election. Then, he switched parties again for the 2014 gubernatorial campaign, registering as a Democrat in what proved to be an unsuccessful bid to unseat GOP Gov. Rick Scott.

Here is our story about Crist from PolitiFact Florida.

October 17, 2015

A Marco Rubio campaign mailer in Florida -- invoking Charlie Crist



A pollster for Marco Rubio must have tested several competing campaign messages for him -- and found that his underdog 2010 U.S. Senate victory over Charlie Crist still resonates with voters.

How else to explain that as part of Rubio's first batch of 2016 presidential campaign mailers in Florida, the Republican invokes a foe from five years ago?

The Florida presidential preference primary isn't until March 15 of next year. But Rubio, who doesn't have a campaign office in his home state yet, is apparently trying to make some inroads against his likely chief rival, former Gov. Jeb Bush.

It appears Rubio's message to voters in the Tampa Bay area -- near Crist's hometown of St. Petersburg -- got a different mailer, without mention of the ex-governor.