August 07, 2015

Republican seeks rematch against Wasserman Schultz


Less than a year after Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, handily defeated Republican Joe Kaufman to win re-election, Kaufman is looking for a rematch.

Kaufman, a pro-Israel activist from Tamarac, filed papers with the Federal Election Commission last week declaring his candidacy. He is the first Republican to file to challenge Wasserman Schultz in the 23rd Congressional District, which leans heavily Democratic.

In 2014, Wasserman Schultz won 63 percent of the vote, while Kaufman won just over 37 percent.

Wasserman Schultz has been in Congress since 2005 and is also the chair of the Democratic National Committee. She officially filed her statement of candidacy in April.

Ted Deutch and Lois Frankel pledge to not run against each other

U.S. Representatives Ted Deutch and Lois Frankel issued a joint statement today in response to the proposed map by the state Legislature which shows that their homes will both be in District 21:

"We both believe in the concept of Fair Districts and that congressional districts should be drawn to serve the people, not for the pleasure of elected officials.  We have both proudly worked as a team and with other members of our delegation, serving the residents of Palm Beach and Broward counties over many years. We both fully intend to run for re-election and we look forward to serving in Congress together as long as our constituents give us this honor. We are friends, have great respect for one another and both of us are fully committed to not running against each other.”

The map is just an initial version and could change during the special session that starts Monday -- and it ultimately must be approved by a judge. But if the two members remain in the same district, one highly likely scenario is that Frankel will run in the newly drawn District 22 which she represents now but the new boundaries would largely lie in Broward. Meanwhile, Deutch would run in District 21. Read more about that in our earlier article.

The fact that District 22 would become Broward majority has fueled gossip about whether any well-known politicians in Broward will take a look at the seat. Former state Sen. Nan Rich, who is running for County Commission, and County Commissioner Tim Ryan both told Naked Politics Thursday that they will not run.

"She has my full support," Ryan said.

August 06, 2015

Where will Lois Frankel and Ted Deutch run?

The first draft of a redistricting map creates a dilemma for two neighboring Democratic incumbents in Palm Beach County: Who runs in which district?

And the answer for U.S. Representatives Ted Deutch of unincorporated Palm Beach County next to Boca Raton and Lois Frankel of West Palm Beach likely won’t be settled for quite some time until the Florida Legislature agrees on a final version and the court signs off on it.

But the initial map shows that the homes of Deutch and Frankel would both land in District 21. Deutch currently represents District 21 while Frankel represents District 22.

While a Deutch vs. Frankel match might sound like good entertainment for Republicans as it would pit two liberal lawmakers and former state legislators against each other, it’s unlikely that will happen.

“I would hate to have that develop as a primary,” said Jody Young, a Democratic consultant in Palm Beach County. “It would not be fun for a lot of people in this town to pick one over the other — they are highly popular.”

According to the U.S. Constitution, members don’t have to live in the districts where they run for office or serve — they only need to live in the state they represent.

More here.

Lois Frankel's pitch: A bad map but a good way to raise money

Some members of Congress may really dislike the Legislature's draft of a new Congressional map, but it's a handy fund-raising tool. Below is a blast email sent by U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, to supporters, and her new "Redistricting Voter Contact Fund."

Democratic sources say the remap could force Frankel, a former mayor of West Palm Beach and a state legislator there, to run in a new Broward-dominated Democratic district that includes part of southern Palm Beach County.

Frankel's pitch:

"The first maps of the redistricting process were announced late yesterday.

"John, they prove what we suspected: It's going to take even more resources than we anticipated to make sure we're able to introduce me to the new voters.

"That's why I need your help right away. John, can I count on you to click here and make a contribution so that we're ready for whatever the final districts are?

Redistricting Voter Contact Fund

NAME: John Doe


August 05, 2015

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


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.

August 03, 2015

Bill Nelson, Marco Rubio split votes on Planned Parenthood

via @learyreports

Sen. Marco Rubio stuck around Washington today to cast a vote to defund Planned Parenthood, a measure that failed to get 60 votes to advance.

Rubio was scheduled to be in Manchester, N.H., for a candidate forum but did not want to miss the vote, which follows the release of covert videos about Planned Parenthood. Rubio will participate in the forum via video, as will Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul.

Sen. Bill Nelson joined Democrats in opposing the effort to strip funding for Planned Parenthood.

Writing for today, Rubio blasted Planned Parenthood as a "morally bankrupt organization.

"Americans of conscience might disagree on the legality of abortion," Rubio wrote. "It is a contentious issue that elicits deep passions. But as a country, we should at least be able to find common ground on acknowledging and respecting the humanity and basic dignity of both the mother and the unborn child. It is clear from the videos that Planned Parenthood long ago stopped acknowledging either. At Planned Parenthood, women are treated as paying clients, not patients. Unborn children are treated as cells and tissues, not human beings. The organs and limbs of babies are treated as commodities, for sale to the highest bidder on an open market. And taxpayers are forced to fund this."

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Miami congressman diagnosed with whooping cough

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U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Miami finally received a confirmed diagnosis Monday for the illness that has plagued him for nearly a month: He has pertussis, better known as whooping cough.

The lab results prompted Curbelo's doctor in the Capitol to notify the Washington D.C. health department, which told the Republican congressman it will report the case to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Whooping cough is a contagious respiratory infection tracked by public-health experts.

"Although the last few weeks have been very trying for me and for my family, thankfully I am now recovering," Curbelo said in a statement to the Miami Herald.

Curbelo had appeared under the weather at a couple of July public appearances, including a July 20 news conference condemning the opening of the Cuban embassy in Washington. He also sounded stuffy in a July 23 C-SPAN interview. He nevertheless kept a regular work schedule; whooping-cough patients can feel fine in between coughing fits.

Continue reading "Miami congressman diagnosed with whooping cough" »

August 02, 2015

Democrats fight over Hillary Clinton backer who endorsed Miami Republican congressman


Shortly after Democrat Annette Taddeo launched her campaign against Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, Curbelo boasted he had snagged the endorsements of a slew of local Democrats. The list included Hispanic media consultant Freddy Balsera, who also happens to be raising money for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

That didn't seem to sit well with Taddeo's campaign: Someone in her circle asked the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in Washington to make Clinton's campaign aware of Balsera's endorsement -- in what Balsera considers an attempt to sideline him from the high-profile 2016 presidential race.

The behind-the-scenes fight spilled over into the public realm last week when Balsera's firm organized a series of meetings in Miami for Lorella Praeli, Clinton's Hispanic outreach director, who was in town to introduce herself to local reporters and Democratic activists. The feud was first reported Sunday by Politico.

Balsera doesn't have an official role with the Clinton campaign -- at least, not yet -- but he's a Clinton supporter and surrogate speaker who worked on President Barack Obama's two races and sat on his national finance committees.

"The Taddeo campaign heard that Balsera may be doing some work with the Clinton campaign and -- this was months ago -- and asked the DCCC to raise the issue with the Clinton campaign," DCCC spokesman Matt Thornton told the Miami Herald.

Continue reading "Democrats fight over Hillary Clinton backer who endorsed Miami Republican congressman" »

July 30, 2015

As oil-drilling bill advances, Sen. Bill Nelson vows to use all options to stop it


A bill to open new areas off Florida’s Gulf Coast to drilling and to accelerate the timetable for doing so passed out of a U.S. Senate committee Thursday, prompting a vow from one of the state’s senators to do whatever measures possible to block it.

The legislation passed out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, allowing for additional areas of oil and gas exploration off America’s shores. Part of the bill dealt with drilling off Florida’s Gulf Coast – and prompted the rebuke from Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat from Orlando.

In a one-line letter to the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate, Nelson said, “If any measure to repeal the current moratorium on offshore drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico comes before the full Senate for a vote, I will use all available procedural options to block it.”

Currently, there’s a no-drilling zone extending 125 miles off most of the state’s Gulf coastline – and as far out as 235 miles at some points, Nelson said. That no-drilling zone is in effect until 2022.

The Gulf measure originally came from Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Republican from Louisiana, who earlier this year introduced his Offshore Energy and Jobs Act. It would allow for drilling 50 miles off Florida’s Gulf shores and begin opening up the area sooner than the law now calls for.

His Gulf-related bill was pulled into a broader drilling bill that also addressed areas off Alaska and in the Atlantic Ocean. It passed out of committee on a 12-10 vote.

There is no indication when it might be taken up by the full Senate.

The power of a solo senator to stop legislation is limited, but they do have some options – such as a filibuster – to hold up a bill and bring attention to it.

Continue reading "As oil-drilling bill advances, Sen. Bill Nelson vows to use all options to stop it" »

No U.S. Senate run for Rep. Jeff Miller

via @learyreports

Rep. Jeff Miller will not run for U.S. Senate, saying he will focus on fixing the "toxic culture" at the VA.

The North Florida Republican had been strongly considering entering the race for Marco Rubio's seat and said he would announce a decision after August.

But today he warned of a presidential veto of his Accountability Act.

"It became clear to me that this Administration is not committed to reforming the VA," Miller said in a statement. "My personal commitment to the veterans of this country is greater than my desire to seek higher office.

"I have made the determination that I can best serve veterans as Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs and the member from the First District of Florida. I have decided to forgo my candidacy for the U.S. Senate in 2016 and instead continue my efforts to reform the toxic culture within the VA.

"Vicki and I have prayed about this for weeks, and we feel that we have come to the best decision.  We appreciate the outpouring of support from our family, friends, and supporters from all across the great State of Florida and throughout the Nation.”

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times