October 21, 2016

Clean energy super PAC releases another ad for Curbelo


A clean energy super PAC has unveiled a new TV ad Miami for Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, who's running for reelection against Democrat Joe Garcia.

ClearPath Action Fund's ad will air in English in Spanish throughout Miami and the Florida Keys as part of a $200,000 cable buy, according to the super PAC.

The group has said it plans to spend more than $500,000 backing Curbelo in the competitive 26th district.

Two debates remain between Garcia, Curbelo, after last-minute addition


Voters in Florida's swing 26th congressional district will have two more chance to watch Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo debate Democratic challenger Joe Garcia on TV -- one in English and one in Spanish.

An English-language debate on WPLG-ABC 10 that was taped Friday will air Sunday. A Spanish-language debate on WJAN-América TeVé will take place Nov. 1, a week before Election Day, when thousands of ballots will have already been cast.

The two campaigns have been unable to agree to any other exchanges, despite a flurry of invitations from local stations.

Garcia has said no -- or not responded -- to invitations from WSCV-Telemundo 51 and WLTV-Univision 23, both of which Curbelo accepted. Curbelo chose a one-on-one interview -- rather than a debate -- on WPBS and did not confirm a date with WSBS-Mega TV. Garcia said yes to both.

The League of Women Voters invited both candidates to a debate. Garcia said yes and was told it would air locally on C-SPAN and WLRN radio. Curbelo said no but wasn't told the debate would be televised, according to his campaign. The League of Women Voters did not respond to requests from the Miami Herald.

Almost all of the invitations were also in Spanish. Garcia and Curbelo have faced off once in English, at their alma mater, Belen Jesuit Preparatory School, but that debate wasn't televised -- despite being moderated by national ABC News reporter Tom Llamas, a fellow Belen alumnus. The two candidates also appeared in a Key West forum Monday that was live-streamed online.

Both campaigns have pointed fingers about the lack of debate consensus, with Joanna Rodriguez, a Curbelo spokeswoman, called Garcia "desperate to hide" from Spanish-speaking voters after Garcia turned down Univision and Telemundo, the most-watched Spanish-language stations.

"One Spanish debate on a cable channel is a disservice to the voters of this district who deserve a quality debate between the candidates," she said.

"I'm sure both Carlos' camp and ours agree that it's impossible to accept every invite," Garcia spokesman Javier Hernandez said. The Garcia camp called out Curbelo on Thursday for not attending a Kendall Federation of Homeowner Associations forum that he turned down after trying to find a different date. Curbelo had already accepted an invite to meet with the local Disabled American Veterans chapter.

Curbelo might benefit most from more TV time, despite having more campaign money and political ads already on air. He was already vulnerable in the Democratic-leaning district before Donald Trump. Republicans fear Trump's candidacy could hurt down-ballot candidates, particularly for the U.S. House. For Garcia, it might be enough to ride Hillary Clinton's electoral coattails.

Both Garcia and Curbelo are Cuban American -- and bilingual.

This post and its headline have been updated with news that Curbelo and Garcia taped the WPLG-ABC 10 debate.

Photo credit: David Santiago, el Nuevo Herald

October 20, 2016

Murphy's political cavalry arrives, in the form of President Obama


@PatriciaMazzei @AmySherman1

The political cavalry arrived Thursday for Patrick Murphy. His name was Barack Obama.

Obama swaggered into Miami Gardens purportedly for Hillary Clinton, the potential sentinel of his White House legacy. He’s in an unusual position for a sitting president: He’s more popular than his selected successor, who’s more than eager for him to act as her most prominent stand-in, especially to African Americans.

But polls show Clinton leading Donald Trump in Florida, which some political prognosticators have placed in the light blue “lean Democratic” column, no longer a toss-up.

So Obama did what he had to do. He ripped Trump for refusing to say during Wednesday night’s debate if he’ll accept the Nov. 8 election results — and for quipping Thursday in Ohio that he’ll accept the results “if I win.”

“That is not a joking matter,” Obama told the capacity crowd of 2,800 at Florida Memorial University’s athletic arena. “I want everybody to pay attention here — that is dangerous. Because when you try to sow seeds of doubt in people’s minds about the legitimacy of our elections, that undermines our democracy. Then, you are doing the work of our adversaries for them.”

The president also passionately defended Clinton, calling her ready and capable to handle the Oval Office.

“Even in the middle of a crisis, she is calm and cool and collected,” Obama said. “And here is the thing about Hillary: No matter how tough the odds, no matter how much people try to knock her down, no matter how mean folks can be, she doesn’t point fingers. She doesn’t complain. She doesn’t whine. She just works harder. And she gets the job done, and she never, ever, ever quits.”

But then, the president focused on the guy who needs his help most: Murphy, the U.S. Senate candidate who national Democrats have all but abandoned.

More here.

This story has been updated.

Photo credit: Pedro Portal, Miami Herald staff

Prominent gay-rights group backs Joe Garcia against Curbelo

NP-JoeGarcia-LBGT-SAVE-102016-006 Joe Garcia DS


A key LBGT organization in South Florida on Thursday endorsed Joe Garcia in his bid to win back from Rep. Carlos Curbelo the House seat that the Miami Republican wrested from him two years ago.

The Miami-based SAVE group, formed in 1993, said it was supporting the Miami Democrat because of his work advocating equality.

"During his term as congressman, Joe served South Florida's LGBTQ community admirably, garnering SAVE's Champion of Equality Award in 2013 for his sponsorship of the Federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act and his efforts to protect LBGT immigration rights," SAVE said in a statement.

Long before joining the House in January 2013, the group noted that Garcia had led the Cuban American National Foundation, which he then headed, in opposing the repeal of Miami-Dade's human-rights ordinance.

Once in Congress, Garcia served as vice chairman of the LGBT Equality Caucus. He helped pass bipartisan legislation reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, which extended protects against rape and domestic violence to members of the LBGT community.

"One of my guiding principles is that every person should be treated equally," Garcia said Thursday. "That's why I'm honored that SAVE would recognize my work in support of the LGBTQ community."

SAVE's endorsement of Garcia came six days after Log Cabin Republicans, an influential GOP gay-rights group, endorsed Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Carlos Curbelo of South Florida in their re-election races, along with five other incumbent lawmakers from across the country.



Hastings leads black lawmakers on Broward blitz for Clinton, Murphy



Rep. Alcee Hastings is bringing a group of fellow African-American members of Congress to South Florida for a two-day push to help Hillary Clinton defeat Donald Trump in the key battleground state.

Hastings, a 12th-term congressman from Miramar, will be joined by Reps. Charlie Rangel and Hakeem Jeffries of New York, and by Sheila Jackson Lee and Al Green of Texas in a swing through Broward County.

Almost 30 percent of Broward residents are black, forming one of the state's largest African-American voting blocs and a hub of a critical demographic group for Clinton to win the nation's biggest swing state in the Nov. 8 presidential election.

"With the rhetoric that we've heard from the Republican ticket, there can be little doubt how dangerous a Trump presidency would be for our country," Hastings told the Miami Herald. "We are here, first and foremost, to rally the African-American community in South Florida to elect Hillary Clinton as president and Patrick Murphy as our next United States senator."

Murphy, a Democratic congressman from Jupiter, is running against Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Miami.

The congressional group's first stop was slated to be tonight at 7 p.m. to address a meeting of the Haitian American Democratic Club at Diecke Auditorium in Plantation.

Hastings and his Congressional Black Caucus colleagues had six events planned for Friday:

9 a.m., Breakfast at Betty's Soul Food Restaurant in Fort Lauderdale;

Noon, Visit the combined Clinton/Hastings campaign offices, 1033 NW Sixth Street, Fort Lauderdale;

12:55 p.m., Lunch at Ponderosa Soul Food Restaurant in Fort Lauderdale

1:40 p.m., Visit the headquarters of the Broward Democratic Executive Committee, 8320 W. Sunrise Boulevard, Plantation

3 p.m., Visit the Clinton campaign office, 3519 North Pineland Road, Sunrise;

4 p.m., Canvas homes on foot in Sunrise neighborhood around the Clinton campaign office.

Photo credit: Matias J. Ocner, Miami Herald




In new TV ad, Curbelo campaigns against Democrats -- and Trump: 'Forget these politicians'


Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo on Thursday became the latest vulnerable Republican to take on his political party's presidential nominee in a TV ad.

"Forget these politicians," Curbelo says in his new, 30-second commercial. "This election is about you."

Though Curbelo never mentions Donald Trump -- or anyone else -- by name, the images on the screen show Trump and Hillary Clinton expounding on cable news. The Clinton screen then switches to show Curbelo's opponent, Democratic former Rep. Joe Garcia.

"Is this what we're teaching our kids now -- politicians from both parties bragging about offensive, crass behavior?" Curbelo says. 

The Trump side shows an "Access Hollywood" video of Trump bragging about forcing himself on women. The other side shows Garcia -- an allusion to how Garcia was caught on tape questioning Clinton's sex appeal (though Garcia never boasted about his remarks).

"Degrading women," Curbelo says.

Next, the Trump footage turns to Clinton, now appearing in a screen next to Garcia.

"Lies and corruption," Curbelo says, this time alluding to the state and federal criminal investigations that engulfed Garcia's campaigns from 2013-15. Garcia was never charged with any wrongdoing, though his former chief of staff went to jail.

"This election doesn't need to be about them," Curbelo concludes, promising to "fight for you."

Curbelo doesn't support Trump or Clinton but has declined to say which candidate he'll vote for instead. The freshman congressman is embroiled in a difficult contest for Florida's 26th congressional district, which leans Democratic.

The seat is so important to the GOP that House Speaker Paul Ryan campaigned for Curbelo on Wednesday -- refusing to take questions that would inevitably be about Trump.

Murphy to speak ahead of Obama in Miami Gardens


Sometime before President Barack Obama takes the stage for Hillary Clinton in Miami Gardens on Thursday, Patrick Murphy will get the microphone, Murphy's campaign said.

The president was an early Murphy supporter and this week cut an ad for the U.S. Senate candidate in Spanish. Murphy is challenging Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.

Last week, Murphy also took part in the speakers' program ahead of Clinton's appearance with Al Gore at Miami Dade College's Kendall Campus, ripping Rubio on the day the senator said he was standing by Donald Trump.

Obama will rally for Clinton at Florida Memorial University. He's expected to tout in-person early voting, which begins Monday in Miami-Dade, Broward and other large Florida counties.

A look at Florida Congressional vulnerability rankings

It’s been six months since the Buzz last handicapped the most vulnerable congressional seats in Florida. Since then, the list of House-seat battlegrounds in the state -- and the intensity of several key races -- has only grown.

Florida was already on track for a volatile season of congressional races, thanks to newly redrawn district lines, a contested U.S. Senate race that attracted U.S. House members, and a smattering of retirements. 

Recently, though, the vulnerability of several Florida Republican incumbents has continued to rise, due to the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump, which is expected to energize Latino voters and dampen support among moderate Republicans. In fact, earlier this month, when the Capitol Hill-based newspaper Roll Call named its list of most vulnerable House incumbents, three of the top 10 spots went to Florida Republicans.

This is the fourth consecutive election cycle that the Buzz has published periodic rankings of the most vulnerable seats in Florida's U.S. House delegation, which includes 17 Republicans and 10 Democrats.

Here are the seats we're keeping an eye on, in descending order by how vulnerable the incumbent party is to losing the seat on Election Day.

Keep reading from Louis Jacobson of PolitiFact and the Tampa Bay Times here:

Rubio to campaign with up-and-coming Colorado senator


Making his first public Broward County campaign stop in some time, Marco Rubio will greet voters Thursday at a Fort Lauderdale sports bar with a special guest: Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado.

"I look forward to welcoming Senator Gardner to the Sunshine State today to join me in meeting with Floridians to talk about the importance of this race," Rubio said in a statement put out by his campaign. Gardner, like Rubio, is considered a bright star in the GOP's future. Unlike Rubio, Gardner has rescinded his support for Donald Trump.

They will campaign at 3:30 p.m. at Bokampers Sports Bar & Grill. Rubio is running for reelection against Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy.

October 19, 2016

Paul Ryan, Carlos Curbelo and the Donald Trump effect in FL-26

102 Curbelo Ryan DS

House Speaker Paul Ryan engaged Wednesday on the most quintessential of Miami political traditions: He sipped cafecito at Islas Canarias, a Cuban restaurant.

But unlike the carefully choreographed visits of most candidates, Ryan’s didn’t include a pack of TV cameras and news photographers chasing him. In two other events, both for endangered Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, Ryan refused to take questions. When reporters shouted some at him anyway, he walked away.

This is the Donald Trump effect in Florida’s tightest race for Congress.

Ryan has distanced himself so much from Trump that he’s explicitly said he’s no longer going to defend him. Curbelo has said he’s not voting for his party’s nominee. Together, the two lawmakers hoped to avoid having Curbelo’s big campaign day turn into all about Trump.

“Forget about what you see in Twitter or on TV,” Ryan told Curbelo’s young volunteers as he held up a pamphlet for his policy plan, “A Better Way.” “Believe it or not, we have ideas. We have solutions.”

More here.

Photo credit: David Santiago, el Nuevo Herald