October 18, 2016

Coming to Curbelo's aid on Spanish-language radio: $400K in ads from GOP gay rights super PAC


Miami's Spanish-language radio airwaves are about to get filled with ads for Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo and against Democrat Joe Garcia, courtesy of a GOP gay rights super PAC.

American Unity PAC, which last month unveiled a $150,000 digital ad campaign on Curbelo's behalf, says it has bought $400,000 in Spanish-language radio ads between Wednesday and Election Day to help the endangered Curbelo try to hold on to Democratic-leaning 26th congressional district.

"He's such a bold voice for us, and he's a young member of Congress," Tyler Deaton, senior adviser to American Unity, said about the group's sizable investment in Curbelo. He estimated the super PAC will spend about $750,000 on the race, between the radio ads and an expansion of its digital ads, which focus on equal pay for women and are out in Spanish and English.

American Unity will air a positive, pro-Curbelo ad and a negative, anti-Garcia ad, both of which will also be available online.

"Curbelo is a different kind of Republican," the pro-Curbelo spot says, casting the congressman as a maverick and a champion of immigration reform the environment and equal pay for women. "He opposes the dangerous deal with Iran which rewards a regime that persecutes women, Christians and gay people and threatens to wipe Israel off the map."

Listen to the ad

As for the anti-Garcia spot?

"Joe Garcia is back again," it begins. "We fired Garcia from Congress just two years ago after a sleazy corruption scandal."

Listen to the ad 2

Democratic poll suggests Trump fallout might be hurting at least one Miami Republican


Donald Trump’s rough weeks on the campaign trail might have hurt at least one down-ballot Miami Republican, according to a new poll that shows U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s advantage has shrunk over her Democratic challenger, Scott Fuhrman.

Ros-Lehtinen, a veteran congresswoman, still tops Fuhrman, a first-time candidate, by 9 percentage points in the Frederick Polls survey commissioned by Fuhrman’s campaign. But her 41-32 percent lead is smaller than the 57-38 percent margin she held in September, when Frederick also polled the race — showing some voters have shifted from backing Ros-Lehtinen to feeling undecided.

When pollsters tested negative messages against Ros-Lehtinen, the contest flipped to 40-31 percent in Fuhrman’s favor.

Fuhrman’s campaign shared much of the poll and details about its demographics with the Miami Herald, but wouldn’t publicize the messages tested against Ros-Lehtinen. Fuhrmanhas aired a TV ad attacking the congresswoman as out of touch because of her hardline position on U.S. policy toward Cuba.

But a bigger reason behind the drop in Ros-Lehtinen’s support could be Trump. In the poll, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s popularity among voters in Ros-Lehtinen’s Democratic-leaning district also fell.

More here.

Ryan: We're going to keep U.S. embargo against Cuba

Cuba- paul ryan
via @FrancoOrdonez

WASHINGTON -- House Speaker Paul D. Ryan left little doubt about his current stance on the Obama administration’s warming ties with the Cuban government. He’s not a fan.

“The Castros continue to jail pro-democracy activists at a rate of hundreds per month, yet it is full steam ahead for the Obama administration’s efforts to appease this oppressive regime,” Ryan said in a statement Tuesday morning.

It’s a bold statement by the speaker and indicating a leadership strong position against President Barack Obama’s rapprochement with Cuban and public campaign to lift the embargo. Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, blasted the Obama administration’s latest round of regulatory changes meant to chip away at the U.S. embargo against Cuba and ease trade and travel with the island nation.

The strong rhetoric by Ryan on Cuba appears to be increasing. Ryan has spoken out more in recent years against what he’s called “appeasement” by the Obama administration. It’s a shift after being criticized for his earlier support for lifting the embargo.

More here.

Photo credit: John Hart, Associated Press

Marco Rubio, Patrick Murphy and the debate over Donald Trump

via @learyreports

At times Marco Rubio was, well, robotic.

And Patrick Murphy was dazed by an uppercut.

Both instances in Monday night’s U.S. Senate debate came courtesy of the man hanging over race: Donald J. Trump.

Rubio knew he would face questions about Trump and was prepared to distance himself from him - repeatedly, without giving an inch to Hillary Clinton.

“I don’t trust either one of them.”

“On this stage tonight, there’s only one person that’s ever run against Donald Trump and tried to defeat him and that was me. There’s only one person on this stage tonight who’s ever voted against Donald Trump and that was me.”

“If there are any kids in America who understand what a horrifying choice America has in this election cycle, it’s mine, because they’ve lived through it over the last 14 months.”

“Not the most inspirational choice we’ve ever had in America history in terms of these two candidates.”

“This election is a disturbing choice.”

“A difficult and less than ideal choice.”

“Donald Trump was not my first choice, or even my 10th choice.”

“Two less than ideal options … Two deeply flawed candidates.”

“I have deep reservations about the nominee of my party.”

Continue reading "Marco Rubio, Patrick Murphy and the debate over Donald Trump" »

October 17, 2016

Ryan to campaign for Curbelo at Miami-area elementary school


Ahead of his big fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, House Speaker Paul Ryan will campaign Wednesday with the endangered Miami Republican at Caribbean Elementary School, west of Cutler Bay.

The event will focus on Curbelo's work in Congress giving students learning English more time to achieve proficiency in reading and math before having their scores count on key tests. It's being advertised by Curbelo's congressional office, as opposed to his reelection camp.

Reporters have been warned that Ryan and Curbelo won't take questions. The speaker's visit coincides with the night of the final debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Ryan has essentially conceded the presidential race to Clinton and focused on trying to preserve Republicans' House majority.

Later Wednesday, Ryan will raise money for Curbelo, who's facing a challenge from former U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, a Democrat. Florida's 26th congressional district is one of the country's most competitive.

Clinton camp: $6M coming to down-ballot candidates in swing states, including Florida


Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, Robby Mook, said Monday it will send $6 million over the remaining three weeks before the election to help down-ballot Democrats in key swing states, including Florida.

"We are making dramatic enhancements to our coordinated efforts in seven key battleground states where obviously the presidential race is competitive," Mook said.

All seven states -- Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania -- have U.S. Senate races. In his Monday morning conference call with reporters, however, Mook didn't specifically say how much will go to each state or candidate. Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter is trying to unseat Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.

National Democrats who had planned to spend big on Murphy ahead of Nov. 8 have been backing out of their TV ad buys, an indication that they've been discouraged by Rubio's consistent advantage in the polls. Rubio, who has stood by his endorsement of Donald Trump, has campaigned as a "check" on either a President Clinton or a President Trump.

Mook rejected that argument, even though Florida polls show both Clinton and Rubio leading their respective races -- suggesting a potential split-ticket effect on the ballot.

"I don't think [voters are] looking at this through the prism so much of check and balances," Mook said. "I think voters want their president and their members of Congress to get something done, and I think it's concerning to them to see there's Republican Senate and House and in some cases gubernatorial candidates make these political calculations."

Clinton has been fundraising for a "coordinated" campaign with state Democratic parties. Her team has opened offices across Florida in conjunction with the Florida Democratic Party. They're intended to save congressional and legislative candidates money on office rent and other overhead costs.

Among the South Florida candidates backed by the campaign are Murphy for Senate, Joe Garcia for congressional district 26, Randy Perkins for congressional district 18, José Javier Rodríguez for state Senate district 37, Daisy Baez for state representative district 114 and Ivette Gonzalez Petkovich for state representative district 103.

October 16, 2016

Firefighters, educators who backed Garcia in 2014 back Curbelo now


Two groups that endorsed Democrat Joe Garcia in 2014 have to decided this election cycle to instead back his political opponent, Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo.

The South Florida Council of Firefighters and the National Education Association both released their picks last week. Endorsements aren't always newsworthy, but they're worth noting when organizations flip -- especially given that they're facing the same choice of candidates. Garcia was the incumbent in 2014 when Curbelo ran against him in Florida's 26th district and ultimately won.

"Mr. Curbelo shares the same values that educators, students, and families of Florida want and expect of those serving them in Washington," NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia said in a statement.

"Congressman Carlos Curbelo has shown the willingness to sit with firefighters and paramedics to understand our concerns," the SFCFF's Omar Blanco said in a statement.

In Tampa, Rubio steers clear of Trump. So does Lopez-Cantera

via @WilliamEMarch

TAMPA — Florida Sen. Marco Rubio followed vice presidential nominee Mike Pence to the podium in a Tampa hotel ballroom full of enthusiastic Republicans on Saturday, praised Pence and other GOP leaders and then gave his usual rousing stump pitch.


But he did it all, speaking 34 minutes, without once mentioning the name of Pence's running mate, the presidential nominee the Republicans were there to support, Donald Trump.

Rubio this week maintained his tepid support for Trump for president after eight days of scurrilous revelations and accusations of Trump's abusive attitudes toward women.

But if anything, Rubio's speech Saturday night suggests he hopes to put even more distance between himself and Trump.

Rubio emphasized the key role the Senate will play in the next four years, but spoke almost dismissively of the presidential contest.

"I want to talk about the importance of the Senate race," he said. "We all know the importance of the presidential race."

He cited the coming U.S. Supreme Court vacancies, often referenced by reluctant Republicans as a reason to stick by Trump despite the past week's revelations.

"The next president and the next U.S. Senate will probably nominate and confirm up to three Supreme Court justices," who will serve up to 25 years – "the equivalent of three two-term presidencies," he said.

Continue reading "In Tampa, Rubio steers clear of Trump. So does Lopez-Cantera" »

October 15, 2016

Curbelo outraises, outspends Garcia


Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo has continued to outraise Democratic challenger Joe Garcia, the candidates' latest financial reports show. But what the vulnerable incumbent mostly did over seven weeks was spend money -- a lot of it.

Curbelo went through $1.2 million from Aug. 11-Sept. 30, his campaign reported. Most of that went to TV ads, which he started airing the week of the Aug. 30 primary, without any let up.

Unopposed on the GOP side, Curbelo had saved his amassed contributions for 18 months. He raked in nearly $510,000 in the latest period, including nearly $13,000 from his joint fundraising committee.

Curbelo's big-name donors include casino magnate Sheldon Adelson of Las Vegas, TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts of Colorado and sugar baron Pepe Fanjul of West Palm Beach. Curbelo also got $2,500 from KochPAC, the political committee for the industrialist Koch brothers, and $3,000 from a political committee for Univision Communications, which has also supported fellow Miami Cuban-American Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen this cycle.

Curbelo still has more cash in the bank: $1.3 million, compared to Garcia's about $354,000.

Garcia, who won the Democratic primary despite being outraised and outspent by Annette Taddeo, raised nearly $382,000 through Sept. 30 and spent about $334,000. Among Gn-arcia's donors are political committees for U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston and U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii. Garcia also got a $1,000 check from author Judy Blume, who lives in Key West.

Florida's 26th congressional district, which runs from Westchester to Key West, leans Democratic and is one of the most competitive races in the country.

Rubio super PAC reports $342K haul

via @learyreports

The super PAC supporting Marco Rubio on Saturday reported raising a modest $342,000 for the third quarter.

Florida First Project has not been that active as outside groups have poured millions into the race to help Rubio, who is also getting help from the state GOP. And Rubio has been raising huge sums himself, including $9.6 million in the third quarter.

Major contributors:

Warren Stephens, $100,000.

John W. Childs, $50,000.

Robert Arnott, $40,000.

Sen. John Cornyn's Alamo PAC, $25,000.

Edward Conard, $25,000.

Dosal Tobacco Corp., $25,000.

Landscapes USA, $10,000.

Tony Pritzker, $10,000.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times