August 26, 2016

Rubio refrains from criticizing Trump on immigration

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via @TMarreroTimes

If Sen. Marco Rubio is miffed that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has wavered a bit on his hardline immigration status, he's not letting it show.

Rubio, who is expected to win the GOP primary Tuesday in his bid to keep his seat, said Friday he'd "seen the headlines" about Trump's comments that seem to indicate he's softening a bit on immigration and tacking toward the policy proposals that Rubio and former Gov. Jeb Bush advocated during the presidential race. 

Compare that to Bush, Rubio's fellow failed presidential candidate, who called Trump's shift "abhorrent."

Rubio is expected to handily win the Republican primary against businessman Carlos Beruff. The Buzz asked Rubio how he’ll explain his support for Trump, however reluctant and lukewarm, to general election voters.

Continue reading "Rubio refrains from criticizing Trump on immigration" »

Rubio appears ready to reverse TPP support

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via @learyreports

Sen. Marco Rubio is expressing doubts about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, suggesting he may be ready to reverse support, a stark example of eroding support for trade agreements in the Donald Trump era.

"Well, we still haven't made a final determination," Rubio told the Tampa Bay Times this week. "I've reviewed the trade commission's report. I've been meeting with advocates both for and against it. I'm a little disappointed in the returns on it — the economic returns are more modest than I had anticipated."

A reversal would be striking because Rubio has been an outspoken champion for the deal and free trade agreements in general. It comes as the White House is making a push for congressional approval in the lame duck session, a prospect that has triggered ferocious lobbying from both sides.

Rubio, who is running for re-election and still has presidential aspirations, said he has "a couple" of additional meetings with TPP proponents but added that he was also "concerned" about intellectual property issues.

"I believe we need a trade agreement, but it's got to be one that is good for America. We're only going to get one shot at it," Rubio said. "The returns on it are a bit more modest than I had anticipated. They're good for agriculture, but not very good for manufacturing."

"Proponents," he added, "I'm going to let them make their argument."

Continue reading "Rubio appears ready to reverse TPP support" »

August 25, 2016

Florida Gov. Rick Scott plans another DC trip to ask for Zika money

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@PatriciaMazzei

Florida Gov. Rick Scott plans to return to Washington when Congress convenes after Labor Day to again press lawmakers for emergency funds to combat the Zika virus.

"I will travel to Washington D.C. to meet with members of Congress on the day they return to work to make sure they immediately get something done on this urgent issue," Scott said in a statement Thursday. "During Congress's vacation, we have identified 43 cases of locally acquired Zika in four Florida counties. The Zika virus demands immediate federal action and I will impress upon our congressional members the urgency to protect our residents and visitors."

The Republican governor has already lobbied the GOP-controlled Congress for help, to no avail. Federal Zika dollars are scheduled to start drying up at the end of September.

Scott has blamed Democratic President Barack Obama for also failing to find money to deal with the virus outbreak. The president has requested a $1.9 billion allocation from Congress. Scott hasn't committed to any number.

Locally transmitted Zika has been identified in Wynwood and Miami Beach, and there are two cases under investigation in Pinellas and Palm Beach counties.

Photo credit: Patrick Farrell, Miami Herald staff

Mason-Dixon poll: Rubio 46%, Murphy 43%

@PatriciaMazzei

Republican Marco Rubio and Democrat Patrick Murphy might cruise to primary victories in Florida's U.S. Senate race Tuesday, a new poll suggests, but they will be locked in a much tighter contest for the November general election.

The Mason-Dixon Polling & Research survey shows Rubio, the incumbent senator, romping primary challenger Carlos Beruff by 61-22 percent. Murphy, a Jupiter congressman, leads Orlando Rep. Alan Grayson by a commanding 55-22 percent.

But in a general-election match-up, Rubio is ahead of Murphy by 46-43 percent -- a virtual tie, given the poll's error margin of 4 percentage points. Rubio leads among Republicans, independents, men, whites and Hispanics. Murphy is ahead among Democrats, women and African-Americans.

Mason-Dixon polled 625 registered voters by phone from Aug. 22-24. The error margin for the primary numbers -- obtained by oversampling 400 likely Democratic voters and 400 likely Republican voters -- is 5 percentage points.

August 24, 2016

Miami's Zika politics: Lots of talk, little action

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@PatriciaMazzei

One by one, the politicians sat before a flock of TV cameras and went around the table, commending each other for their arduous work to fend off the Zika virus.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott lauded the state’s “very good coordination” with the Miami-Dade County health department. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam praised the “extraordinary job” of local mosquito control. “Thank you on behalf of the citizens of the state of Florida,” Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera told Miami-Dade health administrator Lillian Rivera.

It all sounded very Kumbaya. But to some people waiting for their turn to speak Monday, the words seemed to ring a bit hollow.

“This roundtable that we’re sitting at now is really what we would’ve liked to have seen several weeks ago,” said Joseph Furst, chairman of the business improvement district in Wynwood, the Miami neighborhood hardest-hit by the mosquito-borne virus.

Politicians have seized on Miami’s Zika outbreak this election year to get their faces on TV camera and show hands-on involvement in a crisis. It’s a role public-health experts say elected leaders need to play, keeping the virus in the news and helping educate constituents on what to do about it.

Yet the talk has done little to help municipal leaders tasked with battling Zika day to day. And it’s led to zero action in Congress to fund a long-term Zika response — suggesting Florida, the nation’s largest swing state, may not wield any serious legislative clout.

More here.

Photo credit: Patrick Farrell, Miami Herald staff

A Gables fundraiser for Rubio, five days before the primary

IMG_1529@PatriciaMazzei

Five days ahead of Florida's U.S. Senate primary, incumbent Republican Marco Rubio will be in Coral Gables -- raising money for the next phase of the election.

A phalanx of top, longtime Rubio donors will host the senator at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Riviera Country Club, according to an invitation host Bernie Navarro published on Twitter. The minimum contribution is $2,700, with $10,800 required to co-host the event.

Rubio is so confident he'll defeat primary rival Carlos Beruff next Tuesday that he's hardly campaigning in public this week. The fundraiser is another sign that the senator is mostly focused on the Nov. 8 general election, when he's likely to face off against Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter.

Recent polls show Rubio leading Murphy, but the potential race has gotten tighter, as expected, and the Florida electorate during presidential years leans Democratic.

August 23, 2016

Private prison operator Geo Group boosts Rubio campaign coffers

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via @learyreports

The federal government’s decision to stop using private prisons puts a spotlight on one of Geo Group’s favorite politicians: Marco Rubio.

Few candidates in the country have gotten more help from the Boca Raton based company, including $80,400 in the last month alone.

Geo Group employees and political action committee contributed $30,400 to Rubio’s Senate campaign while the PAC gave $50,000 to the super PAC supporting Rubio, records show.

That’s on top of nearly $190,000 in support Rubio has received dating to his time as speaker of the Florda House, when Geo Group landed a major contract with the state, to his presidential run.

Rubio said Monday that he hadn’t read the Justice Department report citing cost and safety concerns at private prisons. Geo Group stock plunged but was on the rise Monday as company officials downplayed any significant harm to their bottom line.

“I’ll look at the report and what they found and if the findings are such that justify their decision, then it will be justified,” Rubio told the Tampa Bay Times on Monday while campaigning in Tallahassee. “At the end of the day, contractors are supposed to save us money, not cost us money.”

The campaign declined to answer a follow-up question about why Rubio has gotten so much attention from the country’s second-largest private prison operator.

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August 22, 2016

Annette Taddeo flubs claim of who paid for oppo research on Joe Garcia. It was her -- not the DCCC

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@PatriciaMazzei

Ever since hackers published a cache of internal Democratic Party memos that painted him in a negative light, former U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia has hammered primary rival Annette Taddeo of overzealous probing into his life for political gain.

In a televised debate Sunday, Taddeo claimed it was the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee that commissioned a 76-page opposition-research tome on Garcia.

"Every campaign does opposition research, and if you did some, I suspect that that's in the norm," moderator Michael Putney, of WPLG-ABC 10's "This Week in South Florida," began. "Now Mr. Garcia alleges that you did a huge amount of opposition research, including things which are kind of out of bounds. Did you?"

"No," Taddeo said. "I have not, actually, and um, you know, the research was actually done by the party."

"The Democratic Party?" Putney asked incredulously.

"Yes!" she said. "The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee."

Wrong.

It was Taddeo's own campaign that paid Spiros Consulting for the Garcia research. Campaign finance reports show she paid Spiros $8,250 in January and $1,375 in March -- a total of $9,625.

Garcia, for his part, has also paid for opposition research. His finance reports show a $6,000 payment to The Maccabee Group in June. But his campaign says that research was on Garcia himself -- a refresher on his past votes and statements -- and not on Taddeo.

An earlier version of this post misstated that Garcia's campaign spending was on opposition research on Taddeo.

Photo credit: Emily Michot, Miami Herald staff

Joe Garcia declines to explain post-debate outburst

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@PatriciaMazzei

In an apparent attempt to turn the page on an embarrassing incident, former U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia declined in an interview aired over the weekend to offer any details on his outburst last week at a Spanish-language TV debate moderator.

"I've been friends with these people for a long time," the Miami Democrat told "Al Punto Florida" in an interview aired Sunday. "In all these things, they as well as I have said what happened."

In fact, neither side has explained the incident, which was overheard by several América TeVé employees and related to the Miami Herald. Garcia wouldn't comment to the Herald last week. His spokesman, Javier Hernandez, insisted nothing had happened -- though it's clear from Garcia's response to "Al Punto Florida" that something did.

After a televised debate against primary rival Annette Taddeo, Garcia lashed out about perceived biased in the questions he was asked. During the heated argument, Garcia at one point used the insult "comemierda."

Garcia did reiterate to anchor Ambrosio Hernandez on "Al Punto Florida" that he apologized for using the wrong name last week for debate anchor Felix Guillermo. Garcia had repeatedly called him "Ricardo."

"But that's all that happened," he said.

Photo credit: Emily Michot, Miami Herald staff

House-backed GOP super PAC plans $1.7M in ads to help Curbelo

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@PatriciaMazzei

A super PAC backed by House Republicans plans to spend at least $1.7 million to help Miami Rep. Carlos Curbelo get re-elected, whose 26th congressional district now leans Democratic.

The Congressional Leadership PAC said Monday it has set aside the money to start airing TV and web ads on Oct. 23, two weeks before the Nov. 8 general election between Curbelo and the winner of the Aug. 30 Democratic primary. In the running are Annette Taddeo and former Rep. Joe Garcia.

"We're proud to support Republicans like Carlos Curbelo, who is running on providing conservative, solutions-based leadership in the House. From the airwaves to the ground game, Democrats will have no place to hide from their support of the failed Obama-Clinton agenda," Congressional Leadership Fund PAC spokeswoman Ruth Guerra said in a statement, in which she also referred to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. "Voters need to look no further than the Iran deal ransom and Hillary's email scandal to know they don't want more dishonest Democrats in Congress."

The super PAC has pledged to spend $10 million on 12 competitive House races. In 2014, an allied political nonprofit, American Action Network, which can keep its fundraising secret, spent $1.3 million to help Curbelo oust Garcia in one of the most expensive races of the election cycle. Last month, Congressional Leadership Fund unveiled a website trying to link Taddeo and Garcia to Clinton's email scandal.

Curbelo himself has already far outraised Garcia and Taddeo.

Photo credit: Wilfredo Lee, Miami Herald