June 22, 2016

Mario Diaz-Balart endorses Marco Rubio


Expect Marco Rubio to see the endorsements pour in from Florida Republicans who had backed Rubio's friend, Carlos Lopez-Cantera, for U.S. Senate before Rubio chose to seek re-election.

Here's one, from U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Miami:

I commend Senator Rubio on his decision to run for re-election. In these challenging times, Senator Rubio’s experience and deep knowledge on issues of foreign policy and national security are desperately needed. Carlos Lopez-Cantera would have made a great member of the U.S. Senate. His decision to step aside and recognize our state and country needed Senator Rubio’s expertise once again demonstrates that Carlos always puts his country first. I am confident he will continue serving our state with honor and integrity. I look forward to supporting Senator Rubio’s re-election bid this fall.

Grayson, Murphy join fellow House members in sit-in over gun bills


Several Florida Democrats -- including U.S. Reps. Alan Grayson and Patrick Murphy, the two main contenders in the Democratic primary for Florida's U.S. Senate race -- are among the dozens of members of Congress participating in a sit-in protest this afternoon on the U.S. House floor to persuade Republican leaders to take up "no fly, no buy" legislation.

The protest began before noon, led by Rep. John Lewis of Georgia.

Both Grayson and Murphy support the "no fly, no buy" bill, which would prevent people on the FBI's terrorist watchlist from buying guns. A Senate vote on the issue failed earlier this week.

Just after 2 p.m., Murphy stepped away from the sit-in for about 15 minutes to speak with state and national reporters on a conference call arranged by his U.S. Senate campaign for Murphy to comment on Republican Marco Rubio's decision today to seek re-election. Murphy said gun control reform "is going to be one of the defining issues of this Senate race," and he blasted Rubio for voting against reform proposals.

Many members of Congress, including Grayson and Murphy, shared pictures of themselves on social media to capture the sit-in, since the official House cameras were turned off amid the disruption. (As an alternative, CSPAN was airing a live Periscope feed from U.S. Rep. Scott Peters of California.)

Continue reading "Grayson, Murphy join fellow House members in sit-in over gun bills" »

Jeb Bush would back Marco Rubio if asked

via @learyreports

Jeb Bush memorably criticized Marco Rubio on the presidential campaign trail of abandoning his Senate duties to jump for higher office. But Bush harbors no hard feelings toward Rubio.

Asked by email this afternoon if he'd back Rubio's Senate campaign, Bush replied quickly.

"If he asks, I would be happy to back him."


--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Marco Rubio wins Club for Growth endorsement

via @learyreports

The Club for Growth endorsed Marco Rubio for Senate and pushed Rep. Ron DeSantis on another House run

“The Club for Growth PAC has been determined to keep this Florida Senate seat in the hands of economic conservatives since November 2014, when we first endorsed Senator Rubio’s re-election,” said Club for Growth President David McIntosh. “When Marco announced his retirement from the Senate and launched his presidential bid, the Club’s PAC was quick to endorse Rep. Ron DeSantis, who has a 96% lifetime Club score. With today’s announcement by Senator Rubio and the anticipation that Rep. DeSantis will run again in FL-06, we are committed to the re-election of both of these pro-growth candidates. They will remain leaders in their respective chambers, and we believe Rep. DeSantis clearly has great potential for a run at the Senate in 2018.”

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Marco Rubio is running for Senate again

@PatriciaMazzei @AmySherman1 @MaryEllenKlas

Ending weeks of political speculation, Marco Rubio announced Wednesday he has changed his mind and will run for re-election to the U.S. Senate, reversing his pledge to return to private life after his presidential campaign collapsed three months ago.

Rubio cited a sense of duty to try to remain in office under either President Donald Trump or President Hillary Clinton — two candidates he considers subpar.

“No matter who’s elected president, there’s reason to worry. If it’s Hillary Clinton, you know we’re going to have four more years of the same failed economic policies, four more years of the same failed foreign policy,” he told the Miami Herald. “The prospect of a Trump presidency is also worrisome to me in many ways. It’s no secret that I have significant disagreements with Donald."

National Republicans fearful of losing Senate control to Democrats mounted a campaign to keep Rubio on the ballot for Florida’s swing seat. He consented just two days before Friday’s state candidate-qualifying deadline.

“I think that the point that really drove me to change my mind is that as we enter this kind of new chapter in our history here is, there’s another role the Senate plays that I think can be really important in the years to come,” Rubio said. “And that’s the power given to it in the Constitution to act as a check and balance on the excess of the president. It’s even more important given the fact that control of the Senate could very well come down to what happens in the Florida race.”

More here.

Annette Taddeo wins Miami-Dade teachers union endorsement


Another labor union endorsed Miami Democrat Annette Taddeo for Congress on Wednesday, continuing her effort to coalesce establishment support in her primary contest against former Rep. Joe Garcia.

The United Teachers of Dade backed Taddeo over the ex-congressman, whom the teachers endorsed in 2014. In that race, Garcia ran against Republican Carlos Curbelo, who ultimately won that race. This time, Taddeo has the support of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee over Garcia.

"Educators in Florida need leaders that will stand strong for our public schools," UTD President Karla Hernandez-Mats said in a statement provided by Taddeo's campaign. "We're proud to stand with Annette, because we believe she will be that leader in Congress, and that she'll fight for the future of our children." 

Taddeo noted her 10-year-old daughter, Sofia, attends a Miami-Dade County public school.

"I know the importance of the role that educators play in our children's growth," she said in a statement.

Taddeo already counts on the support from key unions such as the AFL-CIO and SEIU. Garcia, however, led Taddeo in the latest internal polls made public last month.

June 21, 2016

Miami Rep. Carlos Curbelo files new DREAM Act



Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo on Tuesday filed legislation that would allow people brought into the U.S. illegally as children before 2010 to remain in the country -- a new version of the so-called DREAM Act.

Under the proposed law, immigrants who entered the U.S. illegally before Jan. 1, 2010, and were 16 years old or younger, could follow a path to U.S. citizenship.

The "Recognizing American Children Act" would offer high school graduates without a serious criminal record or dependence on public assistance conditional immigration status for five years. During that time, they could follow one of three ways to remain in the country permanently. If they receive a higher-education degree, serve in the military or remain employed, they could apply for permanent residency -- and, later, citizenship. Those enlisted in the military would get an immediate chance at naturalization.

"There are many young immigrants in our country who came involuntarily with their families as minors. They have grown up with our own kids and attended American schools -- many speaking only English," Curbelo said in a statement. "Today they are trying to make a contribution to our great nation through the economy or the military. These are undoubtedly America's children."

Curbelo filed the legislation with a fellow Republican, Rep. Mike Coffman of Colorado. Both represent two of the most competitive swing districts in the country, in states with a significant proportion of Hispanic voters. Coffman has received money from Curbelo's political committee, What a Country PAC, intended to support Republican members of Congress who like Curbelo back immigration reform. Curbelo's Westchester-to-Key West district leans in Democrats' favor.

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June 20, 2016

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen gets AFL-CIO endorsement

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Miami, has been endorsed by the South Florida AFL-CIO and the United Teachers of Dade.

Ros-Lehtinen's district was redrawn and is now slightly Democratic but she is still considered a safe incumbent as a social liberal who has been in Congress since 1989. She is expected to draw a Democratic challenger: Scott Furhman, a political newcomer who has national Democratic backing.

Ros-Lehtinen represents District 27 which stretches from North Bay Village to Cutler Bay.


Annette Taddeo endorsed by AFL-CIO in Miami Congressional race

Miami Congressional candidate Annette Taddeo has been endorsed by the AFL-CIO.

Taddeo is running in a Democratic primary against former U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia in a Miami-Dade/Monroe district currently represented by Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo.

“Fighting for working families in Florida is at the heart of my campaign,” said Annette Taddeo in a press release. “It’s an honor to have the backing of the AFL-CIO and its members in South Florida, and I look forward to working with them to fight for South Florida working families.”

Andy Madtes, president of the South Florida AFL-CIO, said in a statement: “No one will fight harder for South Florida than Annette Taddeo. Annette understands our struggle, she knows that raising incomes is good for working families and it’s good for South Florida. We’re proud to endorse Annette, and look forward to knocking on every single door, and making every last phone call to help send Annette to Congress.”


June 17, 2016

What we don't know about the Debbie Wasserman Schultz vs Tim Canova primary

Both U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and her primary challenger Tim Canova will be at the Florida Leadership Blue Gala Saturday in Hollywood.

Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic National Committee chair, will speak at the event where New Jersey Senator Cory Booker is the keynote speaker. The event is a chance for Canova, a Hollywood resident and Nova Southeastern University law professor, to spread his message among party activists.

This is the first time Wasserman Schultz of Weston has faced a primary challenge since she first won the seat since 2004. They are competing in a liberal district that largely lies in Broward and dips into northern Miami-Dade County.

Here are four key things we don’t know about the Debbie Wasserman Schultz vs Tim Canova primary:

1. What the polls show

There have been no public polls or internal polls released so far. A poll in the district would answer questions about Canova’s name recognition and if Wasserman Schultz is vulnerable on any particular issues -- such as her position in favor of the Iran deal -- or with any segment of the Democratic primary electorate.

2. How much local voters care about Wasserman Schultz’s woes as DNC chair

The main thing that Wasserman Schultz has taken hits for in the media for months is her leadership of the Democratic National Committee. Bernie Sanders and his supporters have slammed her for months, calling for her ouster and accusing her of favoring Hillary Clinton, which she denies. But district voters may care more about her positions on issues such as favoring abortion and gay rights, equal pay for women and her record fighting Republicans than they do about her party leadership. Plus, her district voted for Clinton over Sanders 68-31 percent in the March 15th primary so the criticism by the Sanders’ folks may not mean much.

3. What Wasserman Schultz’s stance on medical marijuana will mean for the race

Wasserman Schultz opposed the medical marijuana amendment in 2014 which was supported by 58 percent of Florida voters, two points shy of the threshold to amend the state constitution. Her opposition angered Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan who funded the amendment last time and again for this year. Morgan has threatened to form a PAC in an effort to defeat Wasserman Schultz but he told the Herald he is waiting for a poll to emerge before making a decision about investing in the race (see no. 1 above). Wasserman Schultz has said she is “evaluating” the 2016 amendment but she could avoid taking a stance until after the Aug. 30th primary since the amendment is on the November ballot. Although many Broward voters disagree with her opposition to the 2014 amendment, will they punish her for that?

4. How many of Canova’s donors live in the district

Canova’s $2 million fundraising haul between January and mid-June is impressive for a first-time candidate. A good portion of that was fueled by Sanders saying on national TV in May that he is backing Canova. But it’s unclear how much of that money comes from voters who live in the district. A Center for Responsive Politics analysis of Canova’s donations through March -- so based on about one-quarter of his haul now -- showed that the majority of his donations over $200 came from outside of Florida. But the vast majority of his donations come from small donations and campaigns don’t have to report where those donors live. There’s nothing wrong or unusual about out of district donations and money is money when it comes to funding ads on TV, print, radio and mailers. But it means we don’t know how many of these donors can vote for Canova Aug. 30.