July 18, 2017

What it takes to stay in Congress: Curbelo raising $54,000 per week

07182017_112142_de91bh1uqaamt-d_8colvia @learyreports

Issue One, a nonprofit political reform group, breaks down second quarter fundraising with some vivid results: A typical House member in a competitive race raised roughly $27,000 per week.

At the top of the list is Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Miami: $54,000 per week, or nearly $7,800 per day. 

Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Winter Park, raised more than $31,000 per week, or $4,500 daily.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Photo credit: 2nd quarter fundraising, compiled by Issue One via Twitter

July 10, 2017

Former Doral council member may run for Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's seat

Bettina

@amysherman1

Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera, a former Doral city council member and Republican, said she is seriously considering a bid for U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's seat in 2018.

Rodriguez Aguilera was a council member from 2012 to 2014 when she lost to former councilman Pete Cabrera. She previously worked as the city's economic development director.

Rodriguez Aguilera owns Bettinara Enterprises, a company that assists people in understanding how government works. She also created a women's leadership certificate program which she teaches at Miami Dade College.

Democrats view Ros-Lehtinen's retirement as a chance to pick up a left leaning seat. Ros-Lehtinen, who did not vote for President Donald Trump, has often disagreed with her own party including her vote against the GOP health care plan.

Rodriguez Aguilera said she voted for Trump.

"I am a Republican -- I had to look at the choices," she said. "I voted for who I believed at that point was the person that I needed to vote for but I would like to consider the issues and problems that the community has. Money and economic development do not have a Republican or Democratic stamp on it."

Asked about the GOP health care plan that narrowly passed the House in May, Rodriguez Aguilera said she is still "studying the different options." 

Other Republicans who have said they are running including former School Board Member Raquel Regalado and Miami Dade County Commissioner Bruno Barreiro. Maria Peiro, who ran against Ros-Lehtinen in the 2016 primary, is also running.

On the Democratic side, the candidates include state Rep. David Richardson of Miami Beach, state Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez, Miami Beach commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, University of Miami academic adviser Michael Hepburn and Mark Anthony Person.

 

 

 

July 03, 2017

Tim Canova reports he raised $32,000 in first two weeks

Canovamic

@amysherman1

Tim Canova's campaign reported that he raised about $32,000 during the last two weeks of June after he kicked off his rematch against U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston.

Canova raised $31,928 through 1,323 in small donations with an average donation of $24, according to his campaign. Canova, a Nova Southeastern University law professor who lives in Hollywood, has made campaign finance reform a key platform of his campaign and pledged not to take donations from corporate interests or political action committees. During his failed 2016 bid against Wasserman Schultz, he criticized her for taking money from Wall Street banks.

Wasserman Schultz raised about $269,000 through March and hasn't yet announced what she raised through June. She represents the left-leaning Congressional District 23 which stretches from Weston to northern Miami-Dade County.

The first fundraising period for Canova is so short that it doesn't provide much of an indication of his fundraising prospects this cycle. In 2016, Canova hit the $1 million mark about four months into his first campaign for elected office.

Campaigns must submit fundraising reports to the Federal Election Commission by July 15.

 

June 29, 2017

Florida lawmakers tell Trump to back off Atlantic drilling

via @learyreports

WASHINGTON - A large, bipartisan contingent of the Florida House delegation has a firm message for President Donald Trump: Lay off plans for oil drilling in the Atlantic.

“Opening the Atlantic to seismic testing and drilling jeopardizes our coastal businesses, fishing communities, tourism, and our national security,” reads a letter signed by the Florida lawmakers and dozens of others. “It harms our coastal economies in the near term and opens the door to even greater risks from offshore oil and gas production down the road. Therefore, we implore you not to issue any permits for seismic airgun surveys for subsea oil and gas deposits in the Atlantic Ocean.”

The letter was sent to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and was signed by Florida Reps. John Rutherford, Darren Soto, Bill Posey, Alcee Hastings, Matt Gaetz, Charlie Crist, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Frederica Wilson, Brian Mast, Dennis Ross, Val Demings, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Ted Yoho, Kathy Castor, Francis Rooney, Al  Lawson, Ted Deutch, Ron DeSantis, Lois Frankel, Vern Buchanan and Stephanie Murphy.

The Trump administration announced in April it was exploring opening up the Atlantic for oil and gas exploration.

The letter (see below) was organized by Rutherford, R-Jacksonville, and Rep. Don Beyer, a Virginia Democrat.

Continue reading "Florida lawmakers tell Trump to back off Atlantic drilling" »

June 28, 2017

Miami Democrat kicks off congressional campaign talking health care, climate change -- but not Trump

01JOSE JAVIER RODRIGUEZ_CPJ

@PatriciaMazzei

State Sen. José Javier Rodríguez picked the most Little Havana of scenes to kick off his campaign for Congress on Tuesday, gathering a small group of supporters outside Calle Ocho's Domino Park as he pitched himself as the candidate to tackle big issues -- and what's expected to be a hotly contested race.

"When I'm speaking with neighbors, families, residents, constituents -- they're talking to me about the fact that the residents of District 27 need access to affordable health care. And that starts with protecting the gains in the Affordable Care Act," he said, a day after the Senate postponed a vote on legislation to undo some of former President Barack Obama's signature law.

As he spoke, men shuffled dominoes on nearby tables. An old-school peanut salesman walked by ("¡Manícero!"). Tourists streamed out of double-decker buses.

Laying out his campaign platform in addition to healthcare, Rodríguez mentioned the economy and climate change, though he offered no specifics, even when pressed about what Obamacare tweaks, if any, he'd support.

He declined to call himself a "moderate" Democrat, though that's how he's voted in the Florida House and Senate -- and how he's likely to run in the Southeast Miami-Dade County district, which leans Democratic but is currently held by Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who is retiring. Rodríguez praised the congresswoman's constituent services as a model to follow.

Several other Democrats are also seeking Ros-Lehtinen's seat. Rodríguez was the first big-name Democrat to jump into the race after Ros-Lehtinen's retirement announcement last month.

Not once did he name Democrats' likely bogeyman in next year's election: President Donald Trump.

Continue reading "Miami Democrat kicks off congressional campaign talking health care, climate change -- but not Trump" »

June 27, 2017

House GOP-backed PAC pledges anti-Pelosi campaign in Curbelo's Miami district

Congress Democrats
@PatriciaMazzei

Get ready, voters in Florida's 26th congressional district: A rash of anti-Nancy Pelosi advertising is coming in the 2018 election.

Congressional Leadership Fund, a political committee backed by the House Republican caucus, pledged Tuesday to devote serious cash next year to running against Pelosi, the House Democratic leader.

The group says it's polled 11 competitive congressional districts -- including FL-26 -- over the past 60 days and found Pelosi is disliked. Her leadership came under political fire last week after Democrat Jon Ossoff lost a special election in Georgia. A defiant Pelosi, a Democratic fundraising machine, made clear she's sticking around.

According to Congressional Leadership Fund, 45 percent of poll respondents in FL-26, which is represented by Miami Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, view her unfavorably, compared to 37 percent who view her favorably.

"During the 2018 cycle, CLF will spend millions of dollars highlighting Nancy Pelosi's toxic agenda and reminding voters across the country that Democratic candidates are nothing more than rubber stamps for her out-of-touch, liberal policies," Congressional Leadership Fund Executive Director Corry Bliss wrote.

Curbelo, who has yet to draw a Democratic challenger, has been repeatedly jabbed recently by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee for his support for the House healthcare bill. Another Miami Republican, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, also backed it.

"Carlos Curbelo and Mario Diaz-Balart already made their bed and now they have to lie in it," DCCC Spokesman Cole Leiter said in a statement Monday.

We talk more about Pelosi in our weekly McClatchy politics podcast, "Beyond the Bubble":

Photo credit: Manuel Balce Ceneta, Associated Press

June 26, 2017

Rubio reviews Senate healthcare bill while protesters ask him to oppose it

Healthcare2 protest lnew cm
@PatriciaMazzei

To study the Senate healthcare bill's effects on Florida, Sen. Marco Rubio last week invited the top three Republicans in the state Capitol -- Gov. Rick Scott, House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Senate President Joe Negron -- to weigh in on the legislation.

By Monday, three staffers sent by the three state GOP leaders were in Washington, going through the bill with Rubio aides. Scott himself will travel to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to offer his thoughts to Rubio directly.

The staffers are Allen Brown, health care adviser to Negron; Carol Gormley, health care adviser to Corcoran; and Justin Senior secretary of the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration. 

The Republican senator has yet to say how he'll vote. But he's hardly expected to oppose the legislation, given his past support to repeal the Affordable Care Act. And the state staffers, expected to remain "embedded" in Rubio's office all week, probably won't give him a compelling reason to vote no, either: Scott, Corcoran and Negron chose not to expand Medicaid under the ACA and have been critical of the law. That's even though Florida, with its large uninsured population, was one of the states to see the most people covered under Obamacare.

Rubio outlined his criteria for the bill in a Facebook Live appearance last week. For example, he wants people with pre-existing conditions to be protected and Florida to be "treated fairly" on Medicaid (that is, not penalized for not expanding the program).

Pro-Obamacare activists demonstrated outside Rubio's Doral office Monday to urge him to oppose the Senate's "Better Care Reconciliation Act."

"Rubio, do your job!" some of them chanted.

After the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated Monday that 22 million Americans would lose health-insurance coverage by 2026 under the Senate plan, two Republican senators said they would vote against the bill as written: Susan Collins of Maine and Rand Paul of Kentucky. Three GOP no's would kill the bill.

On the Democratic side, Sen. Bill Nelson took to the Senate floor to oppose the legislation: "This bill is just as bad as the House bill," he said.

This post has been updated.

Photo credit: C.M. Guerrero, el Nuevo Herald

Florida congressmen: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg should recuse herself for Trump 'bias'

via @learyreports

WASHINGTON - Seven Florida Republican House members are calling for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to recuse herself from the upcoming deliberation on the travel ban, asserting she has shown "bias" towards President Donald Trump.

“Your public criticism of Donald Trump during the campaign included statements such as ‘I can’t imagine what this place would be - I can’t imagine what the country would be - with Donald Trump as our president’ You referred to Donald Trump as ‘a faker.’ When asked about the possibility of Donald Trump winning the presidency, you responded, ‘I don’t want to think about that possibility, but if it should be, then everything is up for grabs.’ ”

Nearly 60 House members signed the letter, including Florida Reps. Ron DeSantis, Neal Dunn, Daniel Webster, Ted Yoho, John Rutherford, Bill Posey and Francis Rooney.

Read it here.

"As an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court," it reads, "you are required to recuse yourself in cases in which your ‘impartiality might reasonably be questioned’ and where you have a ‘a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party.’ ”

The Supreme Court agreed Monday to hear the travel ban case, while allowing some of the program to go forward, a partial victory for Trump.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Javier Manjarres, Shark Tank blogger, considers bid against Ted Deutch

Javier-full-2-1200x630

@amysherman1

Javier Manjarres, who publishes the conservative Shark Tank politics website, is considering a bid against U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton.

Manjarres would face an uphill battle running as a Republican in the left-leaning Congressional District 22 which includes parts of Fort Lauderdale and other areas of northern and western Broward and Boca Raton.

In 2016, Deutch easily beat his Republican opponent, Andrea Leigh McGee, who worked in real estate and was unknown in South Florida politics. Deutch beat McGee 59 to 41 percent. Deutch spent about $1.6 million while McGee spent $21,000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. 

Manjarres, who lives in Fort Lauderdale, is far better known in Republican circles because he has had contacts for years with politicians, candidates and their consultants through his  Shark Tank website which covers state and national races. Manjarres said he can tap that network to raise far more money that Deutch's previous opponent. 

"What if I am able to raise $1 million and spend $1 million in the district?" Manjarres said. ""If I can get Republicans out in droves and independents, it's going to be very competitive."

But Deutch is well-known and popular among Democrats in the liberal district. A former state senator, he was first elected to Congress in 2010. He has been known as a consistent voice in favor of gay rights and abortion rights and a leader on Jewish issues, a key constituency in District 22. Deutch opposed the Iran nuclear deal in 2015.

In 2016, Manjarres was arrested after he was accused of threatening his sister's boyfriend, Jason Holowinski, in Boca Raton. Holowinski told police that he and his girlfriend were arguing and that Manjarres ambushed him and fired a bullet into his vehicle. But Palm Beach State Attorney Dave Aronberg, a Democrat, announced that no charges would be filed included attempted murder after Holowinski refused to cooperate.

Here is Manjarres' statement about his political plans on his blog:  

“After speaking with my trusted colleagues, friends and family about future career opportunities, I have decided to explore the possibility of running for the U.S. Congress in Florida’s 22nd congressional district.

It was clear that after the historic 2016 elections, Americans rejected the agenda and policies of the outgoing Obama Administration that they believe were threatening the American way of life.

Even with Republicans in control of congress, it is of the utmost importance that Republicans continue to win the public’s trust and reform all aspects of the federal government.

It is time for all  pouting members of the U.S. House of Representatives, who have been comporting themselves like petulant obstructionist children, put the American people first before political ideology or party, and remember that they are 1 of 435 individuals tasked to serve all Americans, regardless of the race, color, sexual persuasions, or political party affiliation.

I look forward to having a substantive and productive dialogue with not just the residents of south Florida, but with the American people at large.”

Deutch said in a written statement:

"I take every race seriously and I always welcome a spirited debate over the direction of our country. This week I am going to Washington to fight the disastrous Trumpcare bill. At home I am fighting for our veterans, working constantly with local officials to help our businesses create more jobs, and combating the effects of climate change that are already impacting our community. And every day, I am working to keep our country safe." 

 

June 22, 2017

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Debbie Wasserman Schultz take on the media — in softball

Image1

@alextdaugherty 

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen had her shot to one-up the Fourth Estate on the softball field Wednesday night, as she suited up against Washington reporters decades her junior who spend their days needling members of Congress about Donald Trump’s latest tweet or trying to snag a quote for their story.

But just after Ros-Lehtinen took her place in right field in the first inning of the ninth annual Congressional Women’s Softball Game, NPR reporter Tamara Keith blooped a single that scooted underneath the glove of the longtime Miami Republican.

“Sorry!” Ros-Lehtinen yelled as she ran after the ball.

Sprinting after her was Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the ultra-competitive second baseman for congressional team, ready to field Ros-Lehtinen’s cutoff throw.

But their combined efforts couldn’t stop two runs from scoring, and the play turned out to be the decisive blow in a close 2-1 game won by the reporters.

“We come out here to practice two or three mornings a week and for an old lady like me it feels really good,” Ros-Lehtinen said.

Wednesday’s game was more than just an opportunity for reporters and politicians to take out their frustrations on one another, it was also a fundraiser for breast cancer awareness.

The annual game was started by Wasserman Schultz and former Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo., in 2009 to build bipartisanship and raise funds for a charity dedicated to helping young women identify and treat breast cancer.

Wasserman Schultz was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 and when she decided to go public in 2009, Emerson approached her about starting the game.

“The idea was the baseball game was played by men but we didn’t really have a sport the women played,” Wasserman Schultz said.

The first game in 2009 pitted members of Congress against their staffers, but “they were much younger so we didn’t do very well,” Waserman Schultz said. Ever since, members of Congress have played the press.

Wednesday’s game raised $292,097.59 for the Young Survival Coalition and the game has raised more than $1.1 million for charity since 2009.

“It’s so personal for me and all these women on the press team,” Wasserman Schultz said. “The softball field is a politics-free zone.”

But it’s not a competition-free zone.

Wasserman Schultz, a team captain along with Ros-Lehtinen, was involved in numerous collisions at second base and pumped her fist when Rep. Kathy Castor of Florida made an accurate throw to her to nail a runner.

“I’m a little competitive,” Wasserman Schultz said.

Read more here.