August 02, 2016

Florida members of Congress ask CDC for more Zika money

@PatriciaMazzei

Florida needs far more money to fight the Zika virus spreading in Miami than the federal government has set aside, according to the state's congressional delegation.

Twenty-six of Florida's 27 members of the U.S. House of Representatives wrote the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday asking for additional funding to combat the mosquito-borne virus. Earlier Tuesday, the CDC promised $720,000 to combat the disease, which has been locally transmitted to at least 14 people in Miami's Wynwood neighborhood.

That's not nearly enough, the lawmakers wrote CDC Director Thomas Frieden, noting that there's a $16 million pot to divide among 40 states and territories. The $720,000, they said, "amounts to a paltry 4.5% of funding made available, despite the fact that almost half of all confirmed non-travel cases of the disease in the continental United States have now been linked to mosquito transmission in Florida."

The lawmakers thanked the CDC for its work with Florida authorities, and more distributing more than $8 million in "Zika-specific funding" to the state already.

"However, because of the potential for explosive spread of the virus via mosquito transmission through heavily-populated regions of the state, we urge you, in accordance with all applicable rules and regulations, to reconsider the current allocation formula for Zika-specific funds," they wrote. "If funds are truly allocated based on the risk of Zika virus transmission and population need, the State of Florida must receive a far greater share of available funds given the concerning developments linking new cases of the virus to local mosquitoes in Miami-Dade County."

They don't specify how much more money they want.

The letter was spearheaded by U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican whose Miami district begins just south of Wynwood. Among the co-signers is U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, the Miami Gardens Democrat whose district includes Wynwood, and every other delegation member except U.S. Rep. Dan Webster of Winter Garden.

UPDATE: Webster has now signed the letter.

Forget Tim Canova. Debbie Wasserman Schultz wants to run against Donald Trump

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@PatriciaMazzei

From the fliers she's mailed Democratic voters, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz has a single political target in mind. And it's not her primary opponent, Tim Canova.

It's Donald Trump.

"Donald Trump is an egomaniac," declares the front of one of Wasserman Schultz's re-election campaign mailers. "He only cares about himself and his ideas are dangerous for America."

Flip the page, and there's Wasserman Schultz: greeting a senior, talking to students, posing with President Barack Obama.

"I am proud to lead the fight against a radical, hateful agenda that would turn back the clock on our progress," she says.

Another piece shows a black-and-white photo of Trump next to a full-color, smiling Wasserman Schultz: "When Democrat Debbie Wasserman Schultz takes on Donald Trump...she's in good company." Cue photos of Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

But it's Canova who's been fundraising like mad since Wasserman Schultz's fall from the Democratic National Committee last week. And there's no mention of him anywhere.

Take a look at the mailers:

Continue reading "Forget Tim Canova. Debbie Wasserman Schultz wants to run against Donald Trump" »

Candidate Rubio or Sen. Rubio?

via @learyreports

When Marco Rubio visits Costa Del Mar, a polarized sunglass maker in Daytona Beach, Tuesday afternoon, he'll be doing so in his capacity as a U.S. senator, highlighting another advantage he is pressing against his GOP opponent Carlos Beruff.

The visit, plus one Monday in Clearwater and others, raise the question whether Rubio's campaigning for re-election on official resources. He's not, a spokesman said.

The Senate Ethics Manual allows a mixed purpose trip to be "pro-rated between expenses of (i) official travel paid with Senate funds and (ii) campaign travel paid with campaign funds, to appropriately reflect the travel expenses associated with each purpose of the trip."

Rubio spokesman Alex Burgos said "to save taxpayer money," the campaign picked up all the costs for the Clearwater visit on Monday and today in Daytona Beach. He did not respond to a question about what other political activity Rubio did in Tampa Bay, though a fundraiser is probable.

Rubio begins Tuesday in Orlando for a private (no press allowed) meeting with business leaders. Then he's off to Daytona Beach, wearing his Senate hat.

Rubio has used his stature to get free TV time, jumping on national cable TV news to comment on various issues. He'll hold a media availability after touring Costa Del Mar -- ensuring he'll get local airtime at the same time Tim Kaine is in Daytona Beach.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

August 01, 2016

Mystery push poll casts Patrick Murphy as racist, liar (with audio)

@PatriciaMazzei

The anonymous, automated telephone recording asks a few questions to gauge what would make the listener more or less likely to vote for Florida U.S. Senate candidate Patrick Murphy.

One of the questions lands like a bombshell:

What if you knew his old super PAC had run "a racist TV ad falsely showing his African-American opponent with a gold tooth punching a white woman in the face?"

That's what some Florida Democrats heard over the weekend when they answered the push poll against Murphy, a Jupiter congressman running to challenge Republican Sen. Marco Rubio. Murphy's chief rival is U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando. 

Polls intended to disseminate negative information about opponents -- rather than to objectively sample public opinion -- are known as "push" polls, because they "push" a particular message.

The "racist" ad mentioned in the anti-Murphy call appears to refer to a 2012 TV spot by American Sunrise, a super PAC that backed Murphy against then-incumbent Republican Rep. Allen West.

Continue reading "Mystery push poll casts Patrick Murphy as racist, liar (with audio)" »

July 31, 2016

Rubio could get campaign help from Koch brothers

via @learyreports

The Koch brothers are looking to get involved in Florida’s Senate race to help Marco Rubio, a top Koch official told reporters at a gathering Saturday in Colorado Springs.

Effectively, they already are, with a dark money group tied to the billionaires funding an ad against Democrat Patrick Murphy. But a more direct role could be a boost for Rubio and Republicans trying to hold the Senate.

The Kochs are focusing on Senate races rather than Donald Trump. Their network has already spent $21 million on five Senate race, the Wall Street Journal reports: Nevada, Indiana, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Now comes Florida.

Rubio is favored by the Kochs and a top political advisor, Marc Short, headlines in February by joining Rubio’s presidential campaign.

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

July 28, 2016

Rubio rolls out first TV ad of Senate re-election campaign

@PatriciaMazzei

Marco Rubio's going up on the TV air in Florida ahead of the Aug. 30 primary in which the Republican senator faces a challenge from Sarasota developer Carlos Beruff.

The 30-second spot, titled "Keep America Safe" and featuring footage from Rubio's presidential run, ties Democratic Senate contenders Alan Grayson and Patrick Murphy to presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

"All three support the disastrous Iran deal, and would close Guantánamo," the ad's narrator says. "Standing in their way? Marco Rubio."

Sounding a bit like Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, the narrator later intones that Rubio "took on Obama to block refugees from terrorist countries."

Beruff's campaign called the ad "fiction," saying Rubio tweaked his stances on refugees -- and missed important Senate work.

"Considering Marco Rubio's record of missing votes and ignoring his duties as Senator, it's no surprise his campaign and his establishment allies in Washington would have to make things up," spokesman Chris Hartline said in a statement. "But his record is clear: Marco Rubio just can't make up his mind on the issues that matter to Floridians and only fights the Obama Administration when it is politically convenient. Florida voters are fed up with this kind of failed leadership."

 

Republican super PAC ties Joe Garcia, Annette Taddeo to Clinton

@PatriciaMazzei

A super PAC tied to U.S. House Republican leaders debuted a website Thursday trying to link Democratic congressional candidates to Hillary Clinton's email scandal on the same day she will accept her party's presidential nomination.

Among the 12 targeted candidates are Miami's Joe Garcia and Annette Taddeo, who are vying to challenge Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo.

Behind the "ImWithCareless" website is Congressional Leadership Fund -- a group that, along with its sister nonprofit American Action Network (which can raise secret "dark" money) spent about $20 million on 2014 House races, including about $1.3 million in Curbelo's 26th district.

"Putting politics before principle, Annette Taddeo and Joe Garcia are ‘Ready for Hillary’ regardless of how untrustworthy and reckless she’s found by voters or even the FBI," said Ruth Guerra, Congressional Leadership Fund's deputy communications director. "Democrats proudly embracing Hillary Clinton will have to explain to voters why they continue to stand by her record of scandals and dishonesty."

Democrats are similarly trying to portray House Republican incumbents and challengers as allied to GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.

July 26, 2016

Democratic convention showcases Florida women

@PatriciaMazzei

PHILADELPHIA -- Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum won't be the only -- or even the first -- Florida politician to take the microphone at the Democratic National Convention.

Three women from the Sunshine State went on stage Tuesday night as part of a group address by Democratic women in Congress. Though many women, including Miami Gardens Rep. Frederica Wilson, joined House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, only a few got to say something.

Among those were U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel of West Palm Beach and Val Demings and Stephanie Murphy, both Orlando-area congressional candidates. Demings in particular appeared to shine; Florida party leaders consider the former Orlando police chief a potential star.

Here are the three women's remarks, as prepared for delivery:

Continue reading "Democratic convention showcases Florida women" »

July 18, 2016

In first TV ad, Annette Taddeo campaigns against...Donald Trump

@PatriciaMazzei

In her first congressional TV ad, Miami Democrat Annette Taddeo introduces herself to voters -- while also name-dropping Republican Donald Trump as a chief foe.

She makes no mention of her primary rival, former U.S. Rep. Joe Garcia, or of incumbent Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo. (Curbelo, for the record, said he won't vote for Trump.)

"I'm running for Congress, and she's the reason why," Taddeo says in the spot, standing next to her daughter, Sofia.

The ad starts airing Tuesday. Taddeo's campaign has reserved $300,000 in TV time.