March 17, 2015

No U.S. Senate run for Debbie Wasserman Schultz

@PatriciaMazzei

There will be no Debbie Wasserman Schultz for Senate campaign, the Weston Democrat said Tuesday, adding that she will instead seek reelection to her congressional seat in 2016.

A day earlier, Wasserman Schultz wouldn't reveal her plans, though she sounded less than interested in a statewide race.

Wasserman Schultz's announcement, which she made on CNN, comes the day after former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist also said he won't run for Senate. The two decisions pave the way for U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter to launch his campaign. He's expected to do so next week.

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio appears ready to forgo reelection to run for president.

March 16, 2015

Debbie Wasserman Schultz still won't say if she's thinking of running for Senate

@PatriciaMazzei

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Weston Democrat and the Democratic National Committee chairwoman, spoke to reporters in her district Monday but was careful not to make any news regarding her potential interest in making a 2016 Senate run. 

"My focus right now is on serving my constituents in the 23rd congressional district and chairing the Democratic National Committee to help elect the 45th president of the United States of America," she said at Andover Academy in Plantation, where she held a news conference to call for child-resistant packaging for products containing liquid nicotine.

Later in the day, former Gov. Charlie Crist, whose name had also been bandied about as a possible candidate, announced he won't be running for office next year.

Wasserman Schultz is said to have been considering a Senate run if, as expected, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio runs for president and not for reelection. But talk about Wasserman Schultz's interest waned after a public feud with Orlando trial attorney John Morgan over his push to legalize medical marijuana. Last month, Wasserman Schultz denied Morgan's claim that her office had offered to support a tweaked medical pot constitutional amendment if Morgan stopped criticizing the congresswoman.

She said Monday that she has still not met or had any discussions with Morgan on the subject.

"I didn't have any conversations with them to begin with," she said.

March 10, 2015

Mason-Dixon poll: Marco Rubio leads Democrats if he runs for Senate reelection

@PatriciaMazzei

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio would be favored to win if he were to seek reelection next year rather than run for president, a new Florida poll has found.

The survey by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research shows the Republican with ample leads over two potential Democratic challengers, U.S. Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston (53-36 percent) and Patrick Murphy of Jupiter (50-38 percent).

While Rubio's advantage is hardly surprising -- he is a well-known incumbent -- it's interesting to note that Murphy polled better than the better known Wasserman Schultz. Thirty-six percent of respondents viewed the congresswoman and Democratic National Committee chair unfavorably and 19 percent unfavorably. Murphy's unfavorable number was only 3 percent.

While Murphy has indicated he plans to run regardless of whether Rubio seeks the presidency, Wasserman Schultz has not.

Should Rubio leave the Senate seat, Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater would lead the GOP race 45-35 percent over Wasserman Schultz and 46-32 percent of Murphy. 

The poll did not include any other possible Republican candidates, though several are said to be mulling runs if the seat opens. The telephone survey of 800 registered voters was conducted from March 3-5. It has an error margin of 3.5 percentage points.

February 26, 2015

Fact-checking attack on Debbie Wasserman Schultz about her pot votes

As U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., weighs a potential presidential bid in 2016, a long list of politicians are considering whether to run for his Senate seat.

That includes U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, according to a Politico report on Feb. 17. (She’s not a lock on the Democratic side. A Tampa Bay Times Florida Insider Poll suggests U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Palm Beach County and newly elected U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham of Leon County could also be strong contenders.)

One group was quick to attack Wasserman Schultz’s potential candidacy: The pro-pot lobby. Last year, she opposed Florida’s medical marijuana ballot initiative, which received almost 58 percent support, two points shy of passage. She also voted against a congressional amendment supported by advocates for medical marijuana.

"She’s voted repeatedly to send terminally ill patients to prison. And we’re certainly going to make sure Floridians know that — not to mince words," Bill Piper, national affairs director with the Drug Policy Alliance, told Politico.

Did Wasserman Schultz repeatedly take votes to send dying patients to prison? Turn to PolitiFact Florida to see what we found and here is our complete file on Wasserman Schultz.

February 20, 2015

John Morgan calls Debbie Wasserman Schultz medical pot 'prohibitionist' in fundraising email

@PatriciaMazzei

John Morgan, the major Florida political donor engaged in a public spat with U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, is using the incident to raise dollars and get signatures for a 2016 ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana. And he's not holding back.

"We don't negotiate with prohibitionists. Or bullies," reads the fundraising email Morgan sent supporters Friday afternoon, in the wake of a tussle -- through intermediaries -- with Wasserman Schultz.

Politico has reported that the Weston Democrat's office indicated Wasserman Schultz might reverse her opposition to legal medical pot if Morgan stopped publicly blasting her over it. The congresswoman, who is also chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, has denied her office a potential deal, though text messages and emails obtained by Politico suggest otherwise.

The back-and-forth began when Wasserman Schultz started flirting with running for U.S. Senate, if Republican Marco Rubio doesn't seek reelection. Morgan and his allies warned they would oppose Wasserman Schultz, who last year likened a medical-marijuana dispensaries to prescription-drug "pill mills."

"When Debbie Wasserman Schultz came out last year against Amendment 2, she didn't just simply empower our opposition -- she obstructed thousands of patients who desperately need access to this medicine," Morgan's fundraising email says. "Her poor timing and very public stand against medical marijuana helped squander the efforts of thousands and volunteers and donors.

"Now she wants to have a conversation in exchange for me toning down my criticism of her position last year (and the damage she caused)? Not a chance."

Either the congresswoman supports the measure or doesn't, Morgan wrote: "Everything else is B.S. politics in order to rehabilitate the damage she's done to herself by being on the wrong side of the issue.  It's not support - it's a quid pro quo and I won't do it."

Read the full text of the email after the jump.

Continue reading "John Morgan calls Debbie Wasserman Schultz medical pot 'prohibitionist' in fundraising email" »

February 19, 2015

Politico: Debbie Wasserman Schultz's office in 'tizzy' over medical-marijuana donor trouble

@PatriciaMazzei

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz's office offered to change the Weston Democrat's position against a legalizing medical marijuana in exchange for support from a deep-pocketed donor, Politico reports.

Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s office offered to change her position on medical marijuana if a major Florida donor recanted his withering criticism of her, according to emails obtained by POLITICO.

The proposal to Orlando trial lawyer John Morgan was straightforward: retract critical statements he made to a reporter in return for Wasserman Schultz publicly backing his cannabis initiative that she had trashed just months earlier. Morgan declined the offer with a sharp email reply sent to a go-between, who described the congresswoman as being in a “tizzy.”

“No,” Morgan responded. “She is a bully. I beat bullies up for a living.”

Earlier, Politico had reported that Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic National Committee chairwoman, was considering running for Senate if Marco Rubio mounts a presidential bid and doesn't seek reelection. That chatter prompted backers of a medical-marijuana initiative that received majority support at the polls last year but failed to meet the 60-percent threshold required in Florida to say they would make sure to remind voters about Wasserman Schultz's opposition.

Now Wasserman Schultz's office has been exposed -- in writing, and by a major Democratic donor, no less. She did not comment to Politico, perhaps hoping the issue would go away. But it got louder instead.

UPDATE: Wasserman Schultz told the Sun-Sentinel on Friday that the allegation is "outrageous."

""I wouldn't change my position in exchange for support under any circumstances -- ever. I stand on principle. I'm always very proud to stand in front of my constituents and explain when I have a difference of opinion with them," she said.

January 30, 2015

The Hill: Debbie Wasserman Schultz cast House vote on Mario Diaz-Balart's behalf

@PatriciaMazzei

Voting for another member of Congress is technically a no-no.

But that's what Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Weston Democrat and the Democratic National Committee chairwoman, did this week for Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Miami Republican, according to The Hill.

Diaz-Balart was wrapping up an interview with a reporter when Wasserman Schultz walked by.

“Deb, are you going in?” he asked before handing her his voting card. “Can you…” he said, trailing off as he handed her the card.

Wasserman Schultz, whose day job at the DNC means she's usually acting as the party's attack dog against Republicans, tilted her head quizzically and half-shrugged.

"Yeah, the opposite, the opposite," Diaz-Balart said with a laugh, asking her to vote as him in the opposite way as she was voting during a roll-call vote. 

Wasserman Schultz headed onto the House floor.

“He handed off his voting card to me, yes,” she told The Hill upon her return a minute later.

Members of Congress are collegial -- even across party lines -- and that's been especially true among Wasserman Schultz (in spite of her partisan role) and Cuban-American Republicans. When Democrats lined up to challenge Diaz-Balart, his brother Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in 2008, Wasserman Schultz took heat for sitting the races out, in deference to her colleagues.

House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions, a Texas Republican, told The Hill he would "take care of that matter."

Fact-checking Debbie Wasserman Schultz's claim about Marco Rubio's position on immigration reform and pathway to citizenship

As U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., considers a bid for president, Democrats are attacking him on his signature issue: immigration.

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of South Florida had this to say about her fellow Floridian:

"Marco Rubio needs to first figure out which way the wind is blowing when it comes to committing on his position on any given issue," said the Democratic National Committee chair. "He was for immigration reform and a pathway to citizenship before he was against it. It is really unfortunate that he has chosen the most politically expedient path on issues that matter the most to people here in Florida."

Has Rubio back-tracked? While Rubio has changed his opinion on how the legislation should be passed, we also found that he hasn’t changed his views on the underlying policy issues. Turn to PolitiFact Florida to see how we rated her claim

January 25, 2015

Priebus and Wasserman Schultz mislead on immigration, but Dems have political edge

One of the most bipartisan aspects of immigration reform is the inability of the Republican and Democratic leaders to talk honestly about it.

Simply look at how Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus and his Democratic counterpart, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, handled the issue last week.

Rather than provide hard facts, they reverted to the political parties’ default position: Recrimination for political point-scoring. The problem for Republicans, though, is the issue benefits Democrats more in presidential election years.

More here

December 29, 2014

Fact-checking Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and other South Florida politicians in 2014

The torrent of many of the distortions and half-truths in the state’s top election battles this year had roots in South Florida.

In 2014, Miami-Dade was home to both of Gov. Rick Scott’s and Democrat Charlie Crist’s running mates, the scene of a closely-watched Congressional battle and ground zero for national conversations about climate change and Cuba.

Looking ahead to the 2016 presidential contest, two potential GOP contenders call Miami-Dade home: former Gov. Jeb Bush and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

And that left-leaning county to the north, Broward County, is home to one of the top critics of the GOP: DNC chair U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Here’s a look back at some of PolitiFact Florida's South Florida fact-checks in 2014.