August 08, 2016

Tim Canova endorsed by Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida


Tim Canova has been endorsed by the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Florida.

He is running against U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, in a district that stretches from western Broward to northern Miami-Dade. Canova, a Nova Southeastern University law professor, lives in Hollywood.

According to the caucus, the endorsement questionnaire covered a wide variety of topics, including charter and voucher school accountability, transportation, gun safety, climate change, and Medicaid expansion.

The primary is Aug. 30th but voting by mail is already underway.

August 06, 2016

DNC emails reveal controversial reputation of South Florida billionaire


While prominent Democrats from Hillary Clinton on down regularly mock Donald Trump in public, he's not the only wealthy commercial real estate developer to be ridiculed by party operatives.

Stephen Bittel, a Miami Beach businessman who owns and operates more than $1 billion in real estate in South Florida and beyond, isn't the most popular fellow at the Democratic National Committee despite his large donations to the party.

A few of the DNC emails released last month by Wikileaks, which prompted the resignation of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz as chairwoman, contain trash-talking about Bittel among folks at top levels of its massive fundraising operation.

Bittel, who is co-chairman of the party's national finance committee, is cited in several emails looking ahead to a May 18 meeting of President Barack Obama with the Coconut Grove resident and a small group of other big donors at the Jefferson Hotel in Washington.

Two days before the event, DNC national finance director Jordan Kaplan and his Mid-Atlantic deputy Alexandra Shapiro were fretting about where to seat Bittel.

"Bittel said this morning he was coming so just plan on it, but he doesn't sit next to POTUS!" Kaplan told Shapiro.

POTUS is the Secret Service code name for President of the United States.

Shapiro quickly responded: "Yes -- Bittel will be sitting in the s-------t corner I can find."

The next day, in another email about seating for the elite fundraiser, Shapiro provided an update to Zach Allen, another DNC regional finance director.

Shapiro zeroed in on Bittel and Henry R. Munoz, a prominent San Antonio architect who is also co-chairman of the DNC national finance committee.

"So Henry and Bittel are both coming to the roundtable (with Obama) as punishment for something I did in a past life," she emailed Allen.

The two operatives mused about seating Bittel next to DNC finance vice chairman Chris Lowe and his wife, comedy writer Bonnie Datt.

"LOL, Chris and Bonnie think Bittel is a character," Allen told Shapiro. "So if you want to go that route, let me know so I can at least forewarn them but they'll be fine and if it makes your life easier, all the better."

In apparent reference to both Bittel and Munoz, Allen added: "I'm sorry you're having to deal with them."

Bittel, chairman of Terranova Corp., is a friend of Wasserman Schultz. He hosted a dinner for her at a Philadelphia restaurant during the Democratic National Convention shortly after she resigned as DNC head.

The Weston lawmaker quit the top Democratic post after some of the emails revealed disparaging comments by DNC aides about Sen. Bernie Sanders, who former Secretary of State Clinton bested to win the Democratic presidential nomination.

In a separate email exchange, Chadwick Rivard, a top DNC researcher, warned White House aide Bobby Schmuck about another donor with South Florida ties.

Coping the email to a half dozen other DNC operatives, Rivard sent Schmuck a long background description of Palm Beach billionaire George Lindemann Jr., board president of the Bass Museum in Miami Beach who was once an Olympic equestrian hopeful as a highly skilled horse rider.

The biography, part of which came from the Lexis-Nexis database, included Lindemann's 1995 conviction on three counts of wire fraud. That case resulted from a federal probe that found 50 horses had been killed over two decades in acts of insurance fraud.

Lindemann, who has donated to Republican and Democratic politicians, received a 33-month term in federal prison for his role in the scheme.

DNC compliance director Alan Reed, who'd been copied on Rivard's email, rendered his verdict on Lindemann two hours later.

"I vote fail....again," Reed wrote.

To browse the entire Wikileaks trove of 19,252 DNC emails, click here:


August 05, 2016

Biden says Wasserman Schultz didn't ask him for bat mitzvah video


Vice President Joe Biden campaigned Friday in South Miami with U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston -- and brought up, unprompted, the video he filmed to congratulate one of Wasserman Schultz's daughters on her bat mitzvah.

"Admittedly, I’m in love with her daughter," he told reporters outside the Whip 'N Dip Ice Cream Shoppe, as Wasserman Schultz chuckled. "I wanted to go to her bat mitzvah. Couldn’t go so I sent a film. I probably ruined everything."

"No, no, not at all," DWS said, laughing.

The video was reported by Politico after Wasserman Schultz stepped down from her role as Democratic National Committee chairwoman -- as a sign that some Democrats thought the congresswoman was more interested in her own political ambitions than the DNC's.

The Miami Herald asked Wasserman Schultz about the video at an editorial board interview Thursday, without going into specifics about whether she asked for it.

"There was a lot that came out anonymously after you stepped out of the DNC role," a Herald reporter asked. "That suggested that maybe your political ambitions had been put before the party, and that maybe that was a reason -- one of the reasons -- people really wanted you out at that point, and no one came to your defense. I was wondering if you could talk about that -- I mean, the vice president's video for your daughter's bat mitzvah --"

"Which was not true," Wasserman Schultz said.

Pressed by the Herald on Friday to clarify after Biden's comments about the video, Wasserman Schultz said she specifically meant she hadn't asked Biden for the video -- not that the video itself didn't exist.

Biden said Wasserman Schultz didn't request the film.

"She didn't. I give you my word," Biden said. "I was invited -- of course why wouldn’t I? I'm her close friend and I had planned on coming. The president gave me another assignment, so I asked -- which is the reason I asked about the video"

"This is family, guys," he added. "For me, this is family."

Joe Biden, Florida Democrats' validator-in-chief

DWS Biden

@PatriciaMazzei @ByKristenMClark

Vice President Joe Biden swung through Florida on Friday to do one of the things he does best: give a boost to Democrats in need of a a little validation from perhaps the most people-friendly Democrat in the country.

But he couldn’t pass up a chance to also tweak Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

“I can’t figure out Mr. Trump,” said Biden, who made a forceful case against the New York celebrity developer at last week’s Democratic National Convention. “It’s true that when you’ve never run for public office before, going out there and, you know, getting on the biggest stage in the world, you’re bound to make mistakes. But … some of the things that he does and says sort of defy logic for me.”

The vice president was speaking to reporters outside the South Miami Whip ’N Dip, where he’d stopped for a scoop of white chocolate chip ice cream along with U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston. They were on their way to a Coconut Grove fundraiser to benefit her re-election campaign. (Wasserman Schultz ordered a Snickers scoop.)

Earlier Friday, Biden had collected checks — and enjoyed a helping of Southern food — with U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy in Tallahassee, as part of the Jupiter congressman’s U.S. Senate campaign.

More here.

Wasserman Schultz still unsure if she'll back medical pot amendment



U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston drew the ire of Florida progressives -- including major political donor John Morgan -- when she opposed a state constitutional amendment to legalize medical marijuana two years ago.

She says she still hasn't made up her mind about whether to support it this year.

"I'm still reviewing the provisions of it," the Democratic congresswoman told the Miami Herald editorial board in a broad interview Thursday.

Morgan, of Orlando, is bankrolling this year's version of the amendment -- expected to pass given the more liberal presidential electorate -- and has threatened to pour money into a political committee aiding Wasserman Schultz's Aug. 30 primary opponent, Tim Canova, who backs legalization for medicinal purposes.

If she opposes the effort again, Morgan told the Herald in an email Friday, "she will be the only elected Democrat in the coutnry to do so."

"It just shows how out of touch she is and bought and paid for by the pharmaceutical industry."

Ben Pollara, United for Care's campaign manager, noted Wasserman Schultz comprises a small number of Floridians undecided on the issue.

"In our most recent poll, Floridians supported passing Amendment 2 by a 77-20 margin," he said. "I was wondering who the 3 percent undecided were and now we know! It's incredible that a member of Congress is undecided on such a popular and widely discussed issue in her state."

Earlier this year, Wasserman Schultz quietly voted in favor of a medical pot provision in Congress.

The 2014 Florida amendment missed the 60-percent threshold to pass by 2.4 percentage points. It will be on the ballot again Nov. 8.

August 04, 2016

Wasserman Schultz says she'll debate Canova. Canova: 'I will believe it when I see it'


U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston told the Miami Herald editorial board and the Sun-Sentinel on Thursday that she does, in fact, intend to debate primary challenger Tim Canova, who has been clamoring for a debate for weeks.

In a statement, Canova said he was "happy" to hear the Democratic congresswoman's position.

"I will believe it when I see it," he said, adding he long ago proposed a series of six debates. "Wasserman Schultz has dodged debates for four months and she's been dodging her own constituents for even longer."

Photo credit: Patrick Farrell, Miami Herald staff

Wasserman Schultz defends calling Sanders' campaign manager an 'ass'



U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston isn't sorry she once called Bernie Sanders' campaign manager an "ASS."

“Well, he was acting like an ass,” she told the Miami Herald editorial board Thursday.

She was defending an internal Democratic National Committee email obtained apparently by Russian hackers and published by the website WikiLeaks. The email trove forced Wasserman Schultz out of her position as DNC chairwoman just before last week's presidential convention.

Wasserman Schultz, who is running for re-election, told the Herald she and her staff expressed themselves assuming their emails would remain private. But she expressed no regret over her characterization of Jeff Weaver, Sanders' campaign manager, who at the time had suggested Sanders would extend his campaign until the convention.

“The Sanders campaign — and I give them credit for it — their strategy at that point was to make the DNC the bogeyman, and make me the bogeyman, so they could rally their supporters,” she said.

Wasserman Schultz also denied a Politico report that she asked Vice President Joe Biden for a video to play at her daughter’s bat mitzvah.

“Not true,” she said. “I really don’t think it’s appropriate for me to be responding to anonymous criticism. If people don’t have the nerve to be critical and put their name to it, then I’m not going to box nameless, faceless critics.”

Read the story here.

Photo credit: Shannon Kaestle, Miami Herald

'The buck stops with me,' Wasserman Schultz says of leaked DNC emails


via @alextdaugherty

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Weston took responsibility Thursday for the leaked emails that eventually led to her resignation as Democratic National Committee chairwoman, saying "the buck stops with me."

She also denounced an email by her former party staff questioning Bernie Sanders' religious beliefs as "unacceptable" and "outrageous."

During her first local public appearance since resigning on the eve of last week's national convention, Wasserman Schultz denied the DNC was attempting to thwart Sanders' bid for president against nominee Hillary Clinton. She spoke at a briefing Thursday in Wynwood that Gov. Rick Scott, touring the neighborhood due to Zika, had with Congressional leaders.

"We followed the rules according to the DNC, primaries and caucuses were run according to state law," Wasserman Schultz said. "At the end of the day, who the DNC chair was, I could not allow to be a distraction."

The congresswoman said party staffers under her made mistakes. But she said leaked emails published by the website WikiLeaks weren't any more damaging than emails that would come out of any other private organization.

"Were there mistakes made?" Wasserman Schultz said. "Sure … but who among us in thinking about whether your private emails were stolen would survive the light of day?"

More here.

August 03, 2016

DNC scandal and Tim Canova make race hard for Debbie Wasserman Schultz


For the first time in her 24 years in politics, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz is running scared.

Even before her tenure as leader of the Democratic National Committee unraveled dramatically at the beginning of last week’s Democratic convention in Philadelphia, Wasserman Schultz knew that for the first time in her political career, she was facing a serious primary challenger. Tim Canova, a Nova Southeastern University law professor and campaign novice, has become something of a regular on national television and an expert fundraiser.

In response, Wasserman Schultz kicked her campaign into high gear: She sought help from President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. She raised millions of dollars. She showed up at Democratic clubs to ensure face time with super voters. She held roundtables on gun violence, media events on Zika prevention and forums with Venezuelan Americans.

Now, with less than a month to go before the Aug. 30 primary, the Weston Democrat also has to contend with the fallout of the WikiLeaks DNC scandal. She was forced to step downas DNC chair July 24 after thousands of leaked emails showed the committee favored Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders.

Keep reading here.



PAC poll shows Debbie Wasserman Schultz beating Canova


U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz is beating her Democratic rival Tim Canova by a landslide, a summary of a new poll done for a PAC shows.

The  Patriot Majority PAC poll shows she has a commanding lead: 59-26 percent with 15 percent undecided. 

The poll also found that 61 percent view her favorably compared to 28 percent for Canova.

Global Strategy PAC did the poll of 400 voters between July 31 and Aug. 1, about a week after Wasserman Schultz announced she was stepping down as Democratic National Committee chair. The poll has a margin of error of 4.9 percent. The PAC has spent about $98,000 on the race so far. The Washington D.C. PAC was formed in 2005. The Center for Public Integrity wrote that the PAC is affiliated with Patriot Majority USA which is a "liberal, labor-backed nonprofit."

Canova recently released a summary of his own internal poll which showed that he is eight percentage points behind Wasserman Schultz. Wasserman Schultz has not released any internal polls.