October 20, 2016

Murphy to speak ahead of Obama in Miami Gardens

@PatriciaMazzei

Sometime before President Barack Obama takes the stage for Hillary Clinton in Miami Gardens on Thursday, Patrick Murphy will get the microphone, Murphy's campaign said.

The president was an early Murphy supporter and this week cut an ad for the U.S. Senate candidate in Spanish. Murphy is challenging Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.

Last week, Murphy also took part in the speakers' program ahead of Clinton's appearance with Al Gore at Miami Dade College's Kendall Campus, ripping Rubio on the day the senator said he was standing by Donald Trump.

Obama will rally for Clinton at Florida Memorial University. He's expected to tout in-person early voting, which begins Monday in Miami-Dade, Broward and other large Florida counties.

A look at Florida Congressional vulnerability rankings

It’s been six months since the Buzz last handicapped the most vulnerable congressional seats in Florida. Since then, the list of House-seat battlegrounds in the state -- and the intensity of several key races -- has only grown.

Florida was already on track for a volatile season of congressional races, thanks to newly redrawn district lines, a contested U.S. Senate race that attracted U.S. House members, and a smattering of retirements. 

Recently, though, the vulnerability of several Florida Republican incumbents has continued to rise, due to the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump, which is expected to energize Latino voters and dampen support among moderate Republicans. In fact, earlier this month, when the Capitol Hill-based newspaper Roll Call named its list of most vulnerable House incumbents, three of the top 10 spots went to Florida Republicans.

This is the fourth consecutive election cycle that the Buzz has published periodic rankings of the most vulnerable seats in Florida's U.S. House delegation, which includes 17 Republicans and 10 Democrats.

Here are the seats we're keeping an eye on, in descending order by how vulnerable the incumbent party is to losing the seat on Election Day.

Keep reading from Louis Jacobson of PolitiFact and the Tampa Bay Times here:

Rubio to campaign with up-and-coming Colorado senator

@PatriciaMazzei

Making his first public Broward County campaign stop in some time, Marco Rubio will greet voters Thursday at a Fort Lauderdale sports bar with a special guest: Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado.

"I look forward to welcoming Senator Gardner to the Sunshine State today to join me in meeting with Floridians to talk about the importance of this race," Rubio said in a statement put out by his campaign. Gardner, like Rubio, is considered a bright star in the GOP's future. Unlike Rubio, Gardner has rescinded his support for Donald Trump.

They will campaign at 3:30 p.m. at Bokampers Sports Bar & Grill. Rubio is running for reelection against Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy.

October 19, 2016

Paul Ryan, Carlos Curbelo and the Donald Trump effect in FL-26

102 Curbelo Ryan DS
@PatriciaMazzei

House Speaker Paul Ryan engaged Wednesday on the most quintessential of Miami political traditions: He sipped cafecito at Islas Canarias, a Cuban restaurant.

But unlike the carefully choreographed visits of most candidates, Ryan’s didn’t include a pack of TV cameras and news photographers chasing him. In two other events, both for endangered Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, Ryan refused to take questions. When reporters shouted some at him anyway, he walked away.

This is the Donald Trump effect in Florida’s tightest race for Congress.

Ryan has distanced himself so much from Trump that he’s explicitly said he’s no longer going to defend him. Curbelo has said he’s not voting for his party’s nominee. Together, the two lawmakers hoped to avoid having Curbelo’s big campaign day turn into all about Trump.

“Forget about what you see in Twitter or on TV,” Ryan told Curbelo’s young volunteers as he held up a pamphlet for his policy plan, “A Better Way.” “Believe it or not, we have ideas. We have solutions.”

More here.

Photo credit: David Santiago, el Nuevo Herald

Rubio says he won't talk Wikileaks: 'Tomorrow it could be us'

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@PatriciaMazzei

Marco Rubio undercut one of Donald Trump's key political messages Wednesday, cautioning Republicans against campaigning on emails released by Wikileaks -- which most recently have exposed the inner political maneuvering of Hillary Clinton's top staff.

In a statement, Rubio said he won't bring up issues exposed "solely" by Wikileaks. Rubio is a member of the Senate intelligence and foreign relations committees; the U.S. has blamed recent email hacks of the Democratic National Committee on Russia.

"I will not discuss any issue that has become public solely on the basis of Wikileaks," Rubio said. "As our intelligence agencies have said, these leaks are an effort by a foreign government to interfere with our electoral process and I will not indulge it. Further, I want to warn my fellow Republicans who may want to capitalize politically on these leaks: Today it is the Democrats.Tomorrow it could be us."

Photo credit: Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/TNS

October 18, 2016

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

@PatriciaMazzei

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

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@PatriciaMazzei

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

@PatriciaMazzei

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.