January 21, 2016

Miami congressional candidate on Syrian refugee crackdown: 'That's not what America is made of'


Annette Taddeo, the Democrat running against Miami Rep. Carlos Curbelo, used this week's vote in Congress on Middle Eastern refugees to highlight a contrast with the Republican incumbent. 

"I'm running against somebody who actually voted that we should not let Syrians in -- including, by the way, I'm sad to admit, many Democrats that voted this way," she told the Democrats of South Dade club Tuesday. "That's not what America is made of. We are better than that."

A video clip of her remarks was posted online by America Rising, a conservative super PAC that highlighted the fact that a Democrat was criticizing other Democrats, though Taddeo didn't call any of them out by name. Two moderate Florida Democrats in Congress, Reps. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter and Gwen Graham of Tallahassee, voted with the Republican majority in November to restrict admittance of Syrian refugees. (A different measure suspending the entry of refugees from Syria and Iraq failed in the Senate on Wednesday.)

When he voted for the legislation in November, Curbelo, whose district extends from Westchester to Key West, cast it as a smart vote on national security. "Today's vote allows the United States to continue being a compassionate nation while keeping our homeland safe," he said in a statement at the time.

Taddeo was born in Colombia to a Colombian mother and American father. In her past campaigns, she has talked about being sent to the U.S. as a teenager after her father was kidnapped in Colombia.



January 20, 2016

Warm reception for Marco Rubio in brief return to DC

Congress Syrian Refugees

via @learyreports

There was backslapping bonhomie, big smiles and jokes about footwear.

Sen. John Cornyn lifted up his pant leg to show his black cowboy boots.

Sen. Bill Nelson came over and, for some reason, flashed two thumbs up.

Wednesday afternoon was homecoming for Marco Rubio on the Senate floor. The Florida Republican was only there for 10 minutes or so, but the reception was decidedly warm.

It may have been our imagination but Rubio seemed to gravitate to some friends from key states. He huddled with Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst of Iowa and Rob Portman of Ohio. 

Rubio got into a long conversation with Mitch McConnell, whom a reporter outside the chamber joked must have been plotting ways to dislodge Ted Cruz so Republicans have a shot at the White House. Cruz, unlike Rubio, is pretty much disliked by all his colleagues.

Continue reading "Warm reception for Marco Rubio in brief return to DC" »

January 19, 2016

Patrick Murphy announces $1.46 million in fourth quarter fundraising


Congressman Patrick Murphy announced Tuesday he raised $1.46 million from October to December 2015, leaving him with nearly $4.3 million on hand in his U.S. Senate campaign.

The Jupiter Democrat's campaign said he had 2,500 new donors support the campaign in the final quarter of last year. We're still awaiting fundraising details from Murphy's opponent in the Democratic primary, Orlando Congressman Alan Grayson.

Ron DeSantis rakes in nearly $775K for U.S. Senate race in Florida

via @adamsmithtimes

The Ron DeSantis U.S. Senate campaign tells us the northeast Florida Republican raised another $772,000 in the three-month period ending Dec. 31 and that he has more than $2.5 million on hand. We're still awaiting word from his Republican primary opponents, David JollyCarlos Lopez-Cantera and Todd Wilcox.

DeSantis spokesman Brad Herold also dismissed Rep. Jolly's proposal to bar federal officials from directly soliciting campaign contributions.

“You’re not going to beat Patrick Murphy or Alan Grayson, and help keep the U.S. Senate in Republican hands by tying both hands behind your back. Ron DeSantis has proven he’s the only candidate in this race who can put together a winning statewide campaign and we’re going to continue to do that," Herold said.

--ADAM C. SMITH, Tampa Bay Times

January 18, 2016

Miami congresswoman makes 'Real Housewives' appearance

Real Houswives Wilson and cast

via @HowardCohen

Amid the chatter, shenanigans and silliness that is the Real Housewives TV franchise, comes a moment of real import.

And there’s a Miami-Dade connection.

On Sunday’s The Real Housewives of Atlanta, airing at 8 p.m. on Bravo, U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami Gardens, is seen welcoming the cast of the reality show to her Washington, D.C., office to bring attention to the struggle of African-American boys.

Wilson, founder of the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Program, a school dropout prevention and mentoring program for at-risk boys, was approached by cast member Phaedra Parks. Parks, a single parent of two sons after her husband was jailed, wanted to set up a mentoring program called Saving Our Sons.

Cast members Kim Fields, Porsha Williams, Sheree Whitfield and Parks met with Wilson in her office on Oct. 10, the same day the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March took place in the city. The group discussed 5000 Role Models and mentorships.

More here.

January 15, 2016

Court sets oral argument date in Corrine Brown redistricting case


During the next two months, lawyers on both sides of a lawsuit filed by U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, over Florida's new congressional maps will file briefs to make their case with federal judges.

But if all else fails, expect them to go to court March 25.

The U.S. District Court in Tallahassee this week set oral arguments for 9 a.m. that day "if the court determines to have a hearing or oral argument."

Specifically, the hearing would be about Brown's request for an injunction to stop her new district boundaries from going into effect.

The Florida Supreme Court officially approved a new map last year after ruling against the Legislature in a case that claimed unconstitutional partisan bias went into drawing Florida's congressional districts.

Brown's new district -- District 5 -- is dramatically different from her current one. This, she claims, disenfranchises voters in some of the African-American communities between Jacksonville and Orlando that she has represented for more than two decades.

But if the district court wants to intervene, it will have to act fast. County supervisors of elections must mail overseas ballots for the congressional primary by July 16.

January 13, 2016

Emily's List sends president to fundraise for Miami congressional candidate


Annette Taddeo, the Miami Democrat running for Congress who will soon draw a primary challenger, is drawing on Emily's List for help.

The political action committee dedicated to electing pro-choice Democratic women is sending its president, Stephanie Schriock, to fundraise for Taddeo in Miami on Thursday. A reception invitation asks political donors to contribute $250 to $1,000 to attend.

Schriock has criss-crossed the country to support presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Her attention to the race for Florida's 26th congressional district, currently represented by Republican Carlos Curbelo, is a sign of how important the contest is nationally for Democrats. Newly drawn district lines have turned the swing district slightly more Democratic.

Despite early backing from Emily's List and national Democrats, Taddeo could not fend off a likely candidacy from fellow Democrat Andrew Korge, who said earlier this week he intends to run.

January 12, 2016

In GOP State of the Union responses, different messages in English and Spanish on immigration


The Republican Party's immigration split was reflected Tuesday in the two responses hand-picked party members gave -- one in English, one in Spanish -- to President Obama's final State of the Union address. The Spanish version, offered by a Cuban-American congressman from Miami, was decidedly softer.

Here's what South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said in English:

No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws, and love our traditions should ever feel unwelcome in this country.

At the same time, that does not mean we just flat out open our borders. We can’t do that. We cannot continue to allow immigrants to come here illegally. And in this age of terrorism, we must not let in refugees whose intentions cannot be determined.

We must fix our broken immigration system. That means stopping illegal immigration. And it means welcoming properly vetted legal immigrants, regardless of their race or religion. Just like we have for centuries.

I have no doubt that if we act with proper focus, we can protect our borders, our sovereignty and our citizens, all while remaining true to America’s noblest legacies.

Here's what Miami Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart said in Spanish (translation is ours):

No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws, and love the United States should ever feel unwelcome in this country. It's not who we are.

At the same time, it's obvious that our immigration system needs to be reformed. The current system puts our national security at risk and is an obstacle for our economy.

It's essential that we find a legislative solution to protect our nation, defend our borders, offer a permanent and human solution to those who live in the shadows, respect the rule of law, modernize the visa system and push the economy forward.

I have no doubt that if we work together, we can achieve this and continue to be faithful to the noblest legacies of the United States.

There were other differences in the speeches as well. Haley and Diaz-Balart each briefly mentioned their personal backgrounds, which are obviously not the same. Haley spoke about the Charleston shooting and removal of the Confederate flag (which she referred to only as a "symbol that was being used to divide us") while Diaz-Balart spoke more generally about "tragedies" in South Carolina and California. Diaz-Balart didn't make veiled references to presidential front-runner Donald Trump, while Haley warned against the "noise" in politics.

And Diaz-Balart mentioned Cuba and Venezuela:

Unfortunately, there are still countries where basic liberties are not respected and were governments don't represent their people. Mullahs in Iran, devoted to radical Islam and with nuclear ambitions, prohibit dissidence and jail independent journalists as 'spies.' In North Korea, the people remain isolated from the rest of the world without Internet access or mass media. And here, in our own hemisphere, the Cuban people have not had a free election in more than 57 years, and political detentions and oppression keep increasing. And the Venezuelan people suffers the existence of political prisoners and corruption in the most important democratic institutions.

Florida reaction to Obama's final State of the Union


Here's what Florida politicians had to say about President Obama's final State of the Union address Tuesday:

Former Gov. Jeb Bush, a Republican running for president:

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican running for president:

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat:

It’s frustrating when partisanship prevents the Congress from getting things done. And it’s pretty clear that Americans are fed up with our inability to enact common-sense reforms. While we were able to get a few things passed back in December, there’s still a lot that we need to accomplish. And I will continue to do everything that I can to try to bring people together in a bipartisan way to get things done.

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami:

President Obama's final State of the Union Address will be remembered not for what he said, but for what he didn’t say.

The President has failed yet again to use this opportunity to lay out a comprehensive plan to Congress and the American people on how best to defeat ISIS, and instead has opted to try to lull us into a false sense of security that is belied by the facts on the ground here in the U.S. and across the globe.

It's much the same situation with Iran: the President touted his nuclear deal with Tehran, yet what the President didn't say is that, since the deal, we have seen an increasingly bellicose regime flouting the international community, daring us to take action against its illicit behavior and then threatening to walk away from the nuclear deal if we do respond.


Continue reading "Florida reaction to Obama's final State of the Union" »

President Obama to Congress: Lift Cuban embargo


President Barack Obama dedicated a (short) paragraph in his final State of the Union address Tuesday to U.S.-Cuba policy. A year ago, he had only just announced his administration's plans to normalize diplomatic relations with the island.

"Fifty years of isolating Cuba had failed to promote democracy. It set us back in Latin America," Obama said. "That's why we restored diplomatic relations, opened the door to travel and commerce, positioned ourselves to improve the lives of the Cuban people. So if you want to consolidate our leadership and credibility in the hemisphere, recognize that the Cold War is over. Lift the embargo."