July 28, 2016

Rubio rolls out first TV ad of Senate re-election campaign


Marco Rubio's going up on the TV air in Florida ahead of the Aug. 30 primary in which the Republican senator faces a challenge from Sarasota developer Carlos Beruff.

The 30-second spot, titled "Keep America Safe" and featuring footage from Rubio's presidential run, ties Democratic Senate contenders Alan Grayson and Patrick Murphy to presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

"All three support the disastrous Iran deal, and would close Guantánamo," the ad's narrator says. "Standing in their way? Marco Rubio."

Sounding a bit like Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, the narrator later intones that Rubio "took on Obama to block refugees from terrorist countries."

Beruff's campaign called the ad "fiction," saying Rubio tweaked his stances on refugees -- and missed important Senate work.

"Considering Marco Rubio's record of missing votes and ignoring his duties as Senator, it's no surprise his campaign and his establishment allies in Washington would have to make things up," spokesman Chris Hartline said in a statement. "But his record is clear: Marco Rubio just can't make up his mind on the issues that matter to Floridians and only fights the Obama Administration when it is politically convenient. Florida voters are fed up with this kind of failed leadership."


Republican super PAC ties Joe Garcia, Annette Taddeo to Clinton


A super PAC tied to U.S. House Republican leaders debuted a website Thursday trying to link Democratic congressional candidates to Hillary Clinton's email scandal on the same day she will accept her party's presidential nomination.

Among the 12 targeted candidates are Miami's Joe Garcia and Annette Taddeo, who are vying to challenge Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo.

Behind the "ImWithCareless" website is Congressional Leadership Fund -- a group that, along with its sister nonprofit American Action Network (which can raise secret "dark" money) spent about $20 million on 2014 House races, including about $1.3 million in Curbelo's 26th district.

"Putting politics before principle, Annette Taddeo and Joe Garcia are ‘Ready for Hillary’ regardless of how untrustworthy and reckless she’s found by voters or even the FBI," said Ruth Guerra, Congressional Leadership Fund's deputy communications director. "Democrats proudly embracing Hillary Clinton will have to explain to voters why they continue to stand by her record of scandals and dishonesty."

Democrats are similarly trying to portray House Republican incumbents and challengers as allied to GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.

July 26, 2016

Democratic convention showcases Florida women


PHILADELPHIA -- Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum won't be the only -- or even the first -- Florida politician to take the microphone at the Democratic National Convention.

Three women from the Sunshine State went on stage Tuesday night as part of a group address by Democratic women in Congress. Though many women, including Miami Gardens Rep. Frederica Wilson, joined House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, only a few got to say something.

Among those were U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel of West Palm Beach and Val Demings and Stephanie Murphy, both Orlando-area congressional candidates. Demings in particular appeared to shine; Florida party leaders consider the former Orlando police chief a potential star.

Here are the three women's remarks, as prepared for delivery:

Continue reading "Democratic convention showcases Florida women" »

July 18, 2016

In first TV ad, Annette Taddeo campaigns against...Donald Trump


In her first congressional TV ad, Miami Democrat Annette Taddeo introduces herself to voters -- while also name-dropping Republican Donald Trump as a chief foe.

She makes no mention of her primary rival, former U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, or of incumbent Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo. (Curbelo, for the record, said he won't vote for Trump.)

"I'm running for Congress, and she's the reason why," Taddeo says in the spot, standing next to her daughter, Sofia.

The ad starts airing Tuesday. Taddeo's campaign has reserved $300,000 in TV time.


July 17, 2016

A tally of Rubio's missed classified briefings

via @learyreports

Under fire for shirking his duty in Washington, Sen. Marco Rubio declared on CNN last October that “We do all the intelligence briefings” and ”I was just there this Tuesday.”

But from that point through when he left the presidential race in March, Rubio missed 20 of 23 classified Intelligence Committee meetings, according to new research.

The Tampa Bay Times earlier this year reported on how Rubiomissed scores of committee hearings, including 60 percent of Foreign Relations meetings since he was first elected.

The new information about closed Intelligence briefings, based on his campaign schedule and other information, adds a new layer to the portrait of absenteeism.

Rubio’s rivals are trying to revive questions now that he has reversed his campaign pledge not to seek re-election. He leads in the polls.

Rubio spokesman Alex Burgos said the lawmaker was constantly briefed on matters of national security, which Rubio made a centerpiece of his campaign. Intel members also do work outside the committee, including reading classified information and cables. He's said that when he missed hearings, a staffer would go for him or retrieve information he would later read.

Continue reading "A tally of Rubio's missed classified briefings" »

July 16, 2016

Annette Taddeo has best fundraising quarter yet, despite staff shakeup


Miami Democrat Annette Taddeo posted her biggest congressional campaign haul yet, raising nearly $303,000 through the end of June, despite shaking up her staff in the middle of the quarter.

That total brings her cash on hand to nearly $622,000. She's got a tough primary against former Rep. Joe Garcia.

In May, Taddeo dismissed her campaign manager, finance director and communications director, in part due to pressure from national Democrats keenly interested in winning the seat who feared the campaign was spending too much, too quickly.

Taddeo had raised about $301,000 in a quarter last year. Her campaign carries a heavy debt load of more than $480,000. She carries more than $400,000 of it from past races; Taddeo has loaned $75,000 to her campaign this cycle.

Garcia's report didn't appear on the Federal Election Commission's website Saturday morning. It was due by midnight Friday.

His campaign said it turned in the report, and that it showed more than $190,000 in fundraising, and more than $400,000 cash in the bank.

Taddeo will likely need to spend more than Garcia, given his vast name recognition and strong poll numbers in the Westchester-to-Key West swing district. She has already put out more campaign fliers, including one attacking Garcia.

Moneywise, Democrats lag far behind Republican incumbent Rep. Carlos Curbelo, who doesn't face a primary challenge. He brought in $508,000 last quarter and has more than $2.1 million in the bank.

July 15, 2016

Democratic super PAC plans $1M ad campaign to aid Patrick Murphy


A Democratic super PAC plans to spend $1 million in TV advertising to support the U.S. Senate campaign of Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter.

Senate Majority PAC announced its plans Friday, after its Republican counterpart, Senate Leadership Fund, unveiled an attack ad on Murphy. The GOP committee has pledged $15 million to help Sen. Marco Rubio keep his seat.

The Democratic committee, founded by aides to Minority Leader Harry Reid, said it will release its first ads next week. They will air on broadcast and cable.

"Marco Rubio and his allies have always struggled with the truth and their recent attacks are no exception," spokesman Shripal Shah, said in a statement. "We're not going to let them get away with misleading voters just to help Marco Rubio further his 2020 presidential ambitions. Floridians deserve better, starting with a Senator who actually wants the job and will show up to work."

Murphy's chief primary rival is Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando. Early polls show Rubio ahead in hypothetical match-ups against both Murphy and Grayson.

Miami Rep. Carlos Curbelo to report raising $508K, with $2.1M cash on hand


Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo raised more than half a million dollars last quarter, leaving him with more than $2.1 million to face his eventual Democratic opponent after Florida's Aug. 30 primary.

Curbelo's campaign will report to the Federal Election Commission that he collected more than $508,000 from April 1-June 30, spokeswoman Nicole Rapanos said. 

That figure is Curbelo's second-highest for fundraising this cycle. He topped $705,000 in the first quarter of 2015.

Without a GOP primary opponent, Curbelo awaits a challenger from the Democratic primary between Annette Taddeo and former Rep. Joe Garcia. The swing 26th district is perhaps Florida's most competitive congressional seat this year.


'Phony Patrick' Murphy gets hit in new pro-Rubio super PAC ad

via @learyreports

Senate Leadership Fund is following through on a promise to spend $1.5 million in support of Marco Rubio, launching a TV ad attacking Patrick Murphy's background.

The ad, accompanied by a digital spot, will run on broadcast and cable in Tampa and Orlando, the Mitch McConnell-linked group said. The ad focuses on Murphy's work experience, which has come under scrutiny from reporters and opponents.

PolitiFact concluded that some assertions from opponents were stretched. Yet questions are unlikely to go away with Senate Leadership Fund and others turning them into TV ads.


--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times