October 07, 2016

Democratic lawmakers ask Florida governor to reconsider moving voter-registration deadline


Eleven Democratic members of Congress from Florida asked Republican Gov. Rick Scott on Friday to reconsider pushing back the state's voter-registration deadline because of Hurricane Matthew.

In the letter, spearheaded by Weston Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the lawmakers thank Scott for his handling of the powerful storm -- and then urge him to change his mind on the deadline.

"We respectfully request an extension of the voter registration deadline so that we may ensure the franchise, the integrity of our democracy, and the rights we as Americans hold dear, are fully protected," they wrote.

Scott said Thursday he planned to keep the Tuesday deadline, after Hillary Clinton's campaign urged for an extension. The storm canceled plans from Democratic-leaning groups to sign people up at the last minute; there's typically a surge of interest right before the deadline. An attorney for a firm that does work for the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party suggested on Twitter late Thursday that the campaign could sue Florida if Scott doesn't budge.

White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz told reporters who asked about the dispute Friday that "generally speaking, the president thinks we should be making it easier for people to vote, not harder."

"Any steps that impede on citizens' ability to exercise that right to vote is a step in the wrong direction," Schultz said.

Two liberal organizations, Project Vote and People For The American Way, also released statements Friday imploring Scott to delay the deadline.

Among the lawmakers who signed the congressional letter were U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, whom Scott is considering challenging in 2018. The others who signed -- several of whom are on the Nov. 8 ballot themselves -- were U.S. Reps. Corrine Brown of Jacksonville, Kathy Castor of Tampa, Ted Deutch of Boca Raton, Lois Frankel of West Palm Beach, Gwen Graham of Tallahassee, Alan Grayson of Orlando, Alcee Hastings of Delray Beach and Patrick Murphy of Jupiter.

U.S. Rep. Robert Brady of Pennsylvania, the ranking Democrat on the Committee on House Administration, also wrote Scott, making the same deadline-extension request. So did the ACLU of Florida.

Read the full letter below:

Continue reading "Democratic lawmakers ask Florida governor to reconsider moving voter-registration deadline" »

September 29, 2016

Zika funds finally approved in late-night vote



Lawmakers had to stay late to get it done, but House passage of $1.1 billion in Zika prevention and research funds after a more than seven-month delay finally sends the bill to President Barack Obama's desk.

Despite having originally sought $1.9 billion in emergency Zika aid in February, Obama was expected to sign the broader $1.1 trillion stopgap appropriations measure that included the revamped Zika in a bid to break the partisan impasse over the money to combat the virus.

Just before 10 p.m. Wednesday, the House voted 242-85 to pass the larger spending measure funding the federal government through Dec. 9. Seventy-five Republicans and 10 Democrats voted against it, none from Florida.

The House vote came hours after the Senate approved the spending packing with Zika funds by a 72-26 vote. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson of Orlando both voted for the measure.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz was still not ready to forgive completely GOP lawmakers who'd targeted Planned Parenthood partner clinics in Puerto Rico and added extraneous provisions to the original Zika bill, moves that contributed to its delay.

"After more than 900 confirmed cases of the Zika virus in Florida, House Republicans finally allowed us to pass most of the emergency funding we need to curb this public health crisis," the former Democratic National Committee chairwoman said.

While she called the Wednesday-night vote "a welcome start for Florida's pregnant women, business owners and families affected by the Zika virus," Wasserman Schultz added: "It has come many months later than it should have."

Dr. Andrew W. Gurman, head of the American Medical Association, praised the new Zika aid.

"It has been clear over the past several months that the U.S. has needed additional resources to combat the Zika virus," Gurman said. "With the threat of the virus continuing to loom this funding will help protect more people -- particularly pregnant women and their children -- from the virus' lasting negative health effects."

Pregnant women are especially vulnerable to Zika because it can cause birth defects such as microcephaly, which causes abnormally small brains and heads in newborns.

A large chunk of the $1.1 billion for Zika would go to Florida, New York and Puerto Rico, which combined have far more infections of the virus than any other states or territories.

The National Institutes for Health would receive more than $160 million of the Zika funds to continue its recently launched first clinical trial for a vaccine and to conduct other research.

Florida had 921 Zika cases as of Wednesday, including 92 involving pregnant women. One-hundred fifteen of the state's infections were transmitted directly by mosquitos.

The virus is carried primarily by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, but it can also be transmitted through sexual intercourse with an infected partner.

Sen. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Miami Republican, praised bipartisan efforts of South Florida lawmakers to push the Zika funding.

"This is a tremendous victory for the South Florida delegation who has tirelessly worked together, from both sides of the aisle and both chambers, to raise the importance of this issue and help resolve it," he said.

In a floor speech late Wednesday, Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, also from Miami, acknowledged that "the process of getting this funding across the finish line has been frustrating at times and bogged down in unnecessary political gamesmanship."

Saying that Zika represented "an ongoing threat to the health of residents and to the economic vitality of businesses in South Florida," Curbelo praised final passage.

Rep. Patrick Murphy, a Palm Beach Democrat running for the Senate against incumbent Republican Marco Rubio, said the Zika funds "could not be more urgent as Florida quickly approaches 1,000 cases."

Republican Reps. David Jolly and Vern Buchanan, who had pushed their House Republican colleagues to approve Zika funding for months, also hailed the successful vote.




Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/article104729131.html#storylink=cpy


Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/article104729131.html#storylink=cpy




September 23, 2016

Can Zika aid bill overcome its DC partisan past?



WASHINGTON Senate Republican leaders revealed what they called a breakthrough in Zika funding Thursday under renewed pressure from Florida lawmakers and mayors to break a seven-month political impasse.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/latest-news/article103560742.html#storylink=cpy

Democrats, however, said disputes over funding other urgent needs could still block any final deal, with the Zika money now part of a larger appropriations measure meant to fund the federal government through Dec. 9.

Just a few hours after Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine met with South Florida members of Congress and visited the White House to push for the stalled Zika money, the Senate Republicans disclosed the new Zika effort.

For more, read here:

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


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/latest-news/article103560742.html#storylink=cpy


September 22, 2016

Tim Canova launches PAC




Tim Canova, who lost his primary race to U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, has launched a political action committee to support candidates and weigh in on ballot amendments including about medical marijuana in Florida this fall.

Canova will chair Progress for All, a federal and state political committee that can contribute to federal, state and local candidates.

According to a press release, Progress for All will support: candidates who oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal and support campaign finance reform, support action to address climate change and a ban on fracking, want an end to subsidies for oil/gas industry, support solar power and support ending the war on drugs and mass incarceration.

The committee supports the medical marijuana amendment and opposes the solar amendment that is backed by the industry and opposed by environmentalists. Both questions will appear on the Florida ballot Nov. 8.

Canova, a first-time candidate from Hollywood, raised about $3.8 million in the primary. Wasserman Schultz beat Canova by about 14 percentage points in the Broward/Miami-Dade district. He is on leave this semester from his job as a Nova Southeastern University law professor.

He ran a Bernie Sanders-style campaign that focused on soliciting small, online donations and his campaign got a major boost when Sanders endorsed him. But in the end, Canova appeared frustrated that Sanders didn't campaign for him in South Florida. 

Canova said in his press release that he will limit donations to small donors and reject any from corporate-funded PACS and then takes a swipe at Sanders: "This fundraising plan for Progress for All is in contrast to Our Revolution, started by Bernie Sanders, which was organized as a 501(c)(4) that could accept large undisclosed donations."

Earlier this month Canova opened a campaign account which could allow him to challenge Wasserman Schultz again in 2018. Canova said he hasn't decided yet whether he will run for the same seat in two years.

"I'm still kind of recovering from the campaign -- it was nine months of 24-7 nonstop," he said. "It's premaure to be deciding if I am running for office and when."




September 14, 2016

'There is a stink rotting in the Florida Attorney General's office,' Democrats say

via @learyreports

WASHINGTON -- Asserting that Donald Trump used a political donation to Attorney General Pam Bondi to kill an investigation into his real estate seminars, congressional Democrats on Wednesday urged the Justice Department to open an inquiry.

Florida Reps. Ted Deutch and Debbie Wasserman Schultz joined a news conference and leveled accusations of pay-to-play. "There is way more than whiff here. There is a stink rotting in the Attorney General's office in Florida," Wasserman Schultz said.

Bondi and Trump deny acting improperly, thought Trump paid an IRS fine for using his foundation for the $25,000 donation to Bondi's political committee.

Whatever the merits of an investigation, Democrats -- and the Clinton campaign -- see a political gain. Trump provides added ammunition with his boasts about using his money and stature to influence politicians.


--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

September 13, 2016

Florida members of Congress to Gov. Rick Scott: Ask for clean Zika bill


Nine Florida members of Congress asked Gov. Rick Scott to use his Tuesday visit to Washington to advocate for a "clean" Zika funding bill, free of any politically charged amendments that would make it more difficult for the legislation to win bipartisan approval.

"The stakes are too high to allow partisan riders to hold up this critical support, and existing funding is set to run out by the end of this month," the lawmakers wrote in a letter. "There are over 300 cases of Zika in Broward and Miami-Dade Counties, 84 of which involve pregnant women. For pregnant mothers in areas with Zika, not knowing whether one mosquito bite will dramatically alter their unborn child’s life is a daily fear, especially in South Florida, where mosquitos are year-round inhabitants."

The letter, led by Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston, was signed by Democratic Reps. Ted Deutch of Boca Raton, Gwen Graham of Tallahassee, Alcee Hastings of Delray Beach, Lois Frankel of West Palm Beach, Patrick Murphy of Jupiter, Kathy Castor of Tampa and Frederica Wilson of Miami Gardens. They were joined by two Miami Republicans, Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.

Scott will be on Capitol Hill lobbying for Zika money through Wednesday.

September 09, 2016

Tim Canova to run against Debbie Wasserman Schultz in 2018



Tim Canova may be headed for a rematch against U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz in South Florida.

Canova filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission Thursday so he can start fundraising to run in the Broward/Miami-Dade district in 2018. The Nova Southeastern University law professor backed by Sen. Bernie Sanders raised about $3.8 million in his first campaign.

But despite his warchest he couldn't compete with the name recognition and long roots of Wasserman Schultz who won her first elected office -- for the state Legislature -- in 1992 and was elected to Congress in 2004.

Wasserman Schultz beat Canova by about 14 percentage points in the Aug. 30 Democratic primary. She will face Republican Joe Kaufman Nov. 8th in the left-leaning district. In 2014, Wasserman Schultz beat Kaufman 63 percent to 37 percent.

Jon Reinish, a spokesman on behalf of Wasserman Schultz, provided a statement that didn't mention Canova and said she is focused on passing a Zika bill and Hillary Clinton's race.

"Debbie knows that we need to focus our energy and effort on helping Democrats win in 2016," he said. 




September 01, 2016

Broward had lowest primary turnout in the state


Broward County had the lowest voter turnout in Florida Tuesday, cementing it's reputation as a county that virtually ignores primaries.

In Broward, turnout was 16.52 percent while turnout in Miami-Dade was 20.47 percent and in Palm Beach 19.25 percent. The second lowest county was Pasco with 18.63 percent followed by Hillsborough with 18.89 percent. 

The numbers are based on state data so far -- some counties are still counting provisional ballots but overall numbers won't budge by much. The average statewide turnout was 23.86 percent.

Broward's pathetic turnout was an improvement over the past five primaries in which turnout ranged from 10.7 percent to 14.93 percent. Parts of the county had competitive Democratic primaries including U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz's race against Tim Canova which she won. Now Wasserman Schultz is tasked with driving up turnout in Democratic-rich South Florida Nov. 8th for Hillary Clinton.

One reason why turnout was low: the major statewide Democratic primary -- the U.S. Senate race -- appeared to be a foregone conclusion before election day. U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy easily beat U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson and Pam Keith.

The statewide Democrats didn't emphasize voter turnout in Broward.

"Murphy didn't really need to run an aggressive field program to win his Senate nomination," said Cynthia Busch, first vice chair of the Broward Democratic party.

There are twice as many registered Democrats as Republicans in Broward so it's the Democratic primaries that drive turnout in the county.



August 31, 2016

Our Revolution: We lost a big one in Florida


Tim Canova's biggest backer who propelled him to a $3 million warchest -- U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders -- never showed up to campaign for Canova. And in the end, Canova lost to U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Sanders' newly formed group that works to help progressive candidates -- Our Revolution -- put out a statement about races won and lost including Canova's. Here is part of the statement:

"Sisters and Brothers -

Last night was a tremendous night for our political revolution. Out of the five progressive primary campaigns we supported, three were victorious. But we did lose one, a big one, in Florida: Tim Canova against Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

As we move forward into the next chapter of our political revolution, we are going to win some elections, and we are going to lose some elections. But through it all, as Bernie said, our job is to transform the Democratic Party and this country. And it's our job to hold elected officials accountable when they work against the progressive values we all share.

During this race, Debbie Wasserman Schultz changed her position on a number of important issues, including fracking. And because of the challenge we gave her, you can expect a more fair and impartial Democratic National Committee in the next presidential primary."

Here is what Wasserman Schultz said about fracking during a debate and later in a statement to the Miami Herald.

The statement did mention that one other candidate it backed in South Florida won: Dwight Bullard who won a state Senate race.

- Photo by Sun Sentinel

Tim Canova: I will concede Debbie Wasserman Schultz is a corporate stooge


Tim Canova refused to go quietly into the night as he sat by the bar of Kasa Champet in Pembroke Pines after all precincts finally reported around 11:30 p.m.

"I will concede Debbie Wasserman Schultz is a corporate stooge,"' Canova said.

As for working with Wasserman Schultz in the future, well, don't bet on it.

"She's never asked for my help," Canova said. "She's never given me the time of day. She's never given the time of day to her constituents as far as I'm concerned."

Democratic voters in the Broward/Miami-Dade district didn't share Canova's view: the Weston Democrat won 57 to 43 percent.

- by Amy Sherman and George Richards and photo by Sun Sentinel