June 03, 2016

In Miami, Obama praises Wasserman Schultz

@PatriciaMazzei

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

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@PatriciaMazzei

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.

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October 13, 2015

On this date in Florida history, Donald Trump wasn't always 'bored'

Crist-trump0003Donald Trump is telling his 4.4 million Twitter followers to expect a "very boring" CNN debate among the Democratic candidates Tuesday night, with TV viewers "falling asleep" in droves.

But boy, how the Florida political winds have shifted. Remember this? On this date in Florida history -- nine years ago to the day to be exact -- Trump probably wasn't the least bit bored. On Oct. 13, 2006, he hosted a big fund-raiser at his Mar-a-Lago Club resort in Palm Beach for Charlie Crist, who at the time was cruising to victory as "the next governor of the great state of Florida."

August 05, 2015

Former Marco Rubio staffer mulling congressional run that could pit him against Charlie Crist

@PatriciaMazzei

A former aide to U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is thinking about running for U.S. Rep. David Jolly's seat -- a race likely to draw Rubio's one-time opponent, Charlie Crist.

Ash Mason, a former Rubio special assistant in Pinellas County, told the Miami Herald he's waiting for Florida state lawmakers to redraw congressional district boundaries to make up his mind about seeking the Republican nomination. Crist, now a Democrat, is eyeing the seat because it's almost certain to become more blue.

"It seems like Charlie Crist has been scaring everyone off in that area," said Mason, Southeastern energy policy director for the Florida Christian Coalition. "As a former staffer of Rubio, it'd be interesting to knock him out altogether."

Mason, a Florida State University grad who lives in Tampa, worked for former state Rep. Will Weatherford before Weatherford became House speaker. He also worked for former state Rep. Ed Hooper and later chaired the North Carolina Christian Coalition.

Last month, Jolly announced he will run for Rubio’s seat. Jolly won his Congressional seat in a special election in 2014 but due to anticipated redistricting his seat is expected to lean more to the left in the future. Crist is poised to run as a Democrat for Jolly’s Congressional seat in Pinellas County.

In 2011, Texas Gov. Rick Perry named Mason northeast Florida field director for his presidential campaign. 

From a Perry press release at the time: “Mason is a veteran of legislative races, having worked in various capacities including Speaker Larry Cretul’s 2006 re-election campaign, and the 2008 campaigns of Speaker Pro-Temp John Legg and Rep. Rachel Burgin. He also served as a senior legislative assistant to Speaker-Designate Will Weatherford and Representative Ed Hooper. Mason is a native of the Jacksonville area and graduate of Florida State University.”

Perry’s year-end finance report filed with the Federal Election Commission in January 2013 showed he paid Mason $5,750.92.

July 20, 2015

Charlie Crist plans to run for Congress

via @learyreports

Charlie Crist is preparing to run for the U.S. House seat David Jolly is vacating to run for Senate.

Crist's action follows Republican Jolly announcing his Senate campaign this morning. It's all due to the likely redrawing of the 13th Congressional District due to the recent Florida Supreme Court decision ordering new lines in eight districts across the state.

The new district would likely be much more Democratic, forcing Jolly to leave. Crist, the former Republican turn Democrat, has a natural base in hometown Pinellas County and would bring big name ID and fundraising ability.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

April 12, 2015

Complaint filed over Charlie Crist role in Annette Taddeo emails

@PatriciaMazzei

Charlie Crist improperly contributed to Annette Taddeo's Democratic campaign for Congress, according to a complaint a Republican filed last week with the Federal Election Commission.

The complaint, by Saul Escobar of Miami, argues that when Crist let Taddeo use an email list from last year's Florida governor's race, it amounted to an impermissible donation from a state campaign to a federal one. It also says Taddeo herself should have authorized the emails to supporters, sent after she launched her 2016 campaign last week with the disclaimer, "Paid for and approved by Charlie Crist."

Note that there's no reference to "Charlie Crist for Governor," which suggests Crist himself -- and no state campaign -- was involved in the transaction, unlike what the complaint alleges. A campaign's non-monetary assets, such as email lists, usually belong to a candidate once the race is done. In this case, that's Crist (and not Taddeo, his running mate), and he presumably could give out the list to whomever he wanted.

"These kinds of misleading partisan attacks are exactly what South Floridians hate about Washington," said Joshua Karp, a Florida Democratic Party spokesman. "As a working mom and a small business owner, Annette knows that the people of the 26th District expect and deserve better than these kinds of petty partisan attacks."

Escobar appears to be a member of the Miami Young Republicans.

However, the larger question may be whether Taddeo's campaign should have used a Crist disclaimer at all. For example, it could have assigned the email list a value and listed it as an "in-kind contribution" in its first campaign-finance report, avoiding the disclaimer confusion. In an attempt to be cautious, the Taddeo camp may have gotten more tangled than it needed to.

March 25, 2015

Charlie Crist endorses Patrick Murphy for U.S. Senate

Former Gov. Charlie Crist endorsed U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, for U.S. Senate today.

“Patrick Murphy has the energy, integrity, and work ethic we need in the United States Senate,” Crist wrote on Facebook. “I hope you'll join me in supporting his campaign.”

Crist was mentioned as a potential contender for the race for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio's seat but he decided not to jump in shortly before Murphy’s final decision to jump into the race which he announced Monday. Crist essentially gave Murphy a heads-up that he wouldn’t run (not so with DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz who also recently announced she won’t run statewide).

Crist's endorsement came as no surprise since Murphy's family and Crist are longtime friends and Murphy's chief of staff, Eric Johnson, was also a former Crist advisor. But this is Murphy's first major endorsement by a former statewide office holder. Murphy has also been endorsed by U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton.

So far, Murphy is the only major candidate to announce that he will run though he could face a challenge from the left by U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando. That would create a primary battle because Grayson is popular with progressives while Murphy has voted as a centrist while representing his right-leaning Treasure Coast district. On the Republican side, CFO Jeff Atwater and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera are strong contenders.