April 30, 2015

Democrats continue hammering House GOP: first robo-calls, now mailers

Diaz_mailer_backDemocrats continue to hammer House Republicans in vulnerable districts over their early exit this week and are now dropping thousands of mailers in nine swing districts, a day after announcing they were targeting those same districts with robo-calls. 

“In Tallahassee, Manny Diaz lets the Tea Party pull his strings,’’ reads the flyer, which features Rep. Richard Corcoran as puppet master and the heads of Gov. Rick Scott and House Speaker Steve Crisafulli in the background. 

“Turning his back on Broward and Miami-Dade families, Miami Diaz decided that denying health care to 800,000 working Floridians was more important than doing his job,” the copy reads. 

Also targeted for the mass mailings are Reps. Scott. Plakon of Longwood, Bob Cortes of Maitland, Mike Miller of Winter Park, Shawn Harrison of Tampa, Chris Latvala of Clearwater, Kathleen Peters of St. Petersburg, Bill Hagar of Boca Raton, Manny Diaz of Hialeah, and Frank Artiles of Miami. Each of them reside in districts were voter registration is shifting away from Republicans, and that could make them vulnerable in the 2016 general election year.

The "Tea Party" message also helps Democrats exploit the pressure legislators are getting from those on the right, who are warning Republicans that a vote in favor of Medicaid expansion could draw a primary challenge for these House seats. 

“This week Floridians saw House Republicans quit work and go home, just because their jobs got tough.,’’ said Joshua Karp, spokesman for the Florida Democratic Party which is financing the mailers. "These mailers are going to make sure that House Republicans don’t get a free pass for allowing their Tea Party puppet masters to deny health care to hundreds of thousands of Floridians."

Driving home from Tallahassee, Rep. Manny Diaz dismissed the robo-calls and mailers as more of what he has already faced in the last election cycle. 

“This is just a repeat of what occurred in 2013,’’ he said. He said he’s done local radio and met with constituents at senior centers around his district and he believes he has their support. 

“I tell them that the one-size-fits-all forced hand of the federal government is not right, and the fact that many people who have gotten insurance under the exchange would lose their insurance if we expanded Medicaid and the health care outcomes are just not good ones.”

March 03, 2015

House Democratic Leader Mark Pafford responds to State of State

Rep. Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach, is the House Democratic leader. Here are his remarks in response to Gov. Rick Scott's State of the State address. Watch him here.

Hello, I’m Mark Pafford from West Palm Beach. It’s my honor to serve as Democratic Leader of the Florida House of Representatives.

I’m glad to be here to offer our response to Governor Rick Scott’s State of the State.

The start of the Legislature is always an exciting time for me. It’s especially true this year as we look forward to making Florida a better place to work and live. We want to address your concerns: How to get ahead. How to give your children a great future. How to take care of your family’s health and safety.

We’ve noticed how Governor Scott and Republicans are finally hearing the people. It’s the same thing Democrats have been saying all along.

Continue reading "House Democratic Leader Mark Pafford responds to State of State" »

Sen. Arthenia Joyner gives Democratic response

State Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, the Senate Democratic leader, gave a response to Gov. Rick Scott's State of the State. Her remarks as prepared for delivery:

On the road to his first election, Republican Governor Rick Scott promised Floridians that under his 7-step economic plan, “total job growth will accelerate, the number of new business start-ups will increase, wages and salaries will grow, and the productivity and vitality of Florida’s economy will soar.”

Well, this past January, as Governor Scott returned for a second term, the jury came in about all those promises. And the verdict was grim: Florida is taking the lead in the race to the bottom, in large part because all those new jobs Governor Scott has been busy creating are mostly minimum wage. And it’s not working. Just ask Adhanet Kidane, a 30 year old single mom in Tampa, who works two minimum wage jobs at fast-food restaurants.

Sadly, the road to today’s state of the state came at your expense. The ones who prospered before, during, and after the Great Recession never lost their tax breaks, rarely made good on their commitment to create all those high paying jobs, and continued to sock away profits in offshore accounts protected by powerful financial institutions.

The middle class has been sinking while the lifeboats sailed off with the well off and the well connected.

And they have yet to return for your rescue.

Continue reading "Sen. Arthenia Joyner gives Democratic response" »

December 01, 2014

Richardson the first openly gay representative to hold House leadership post

State Rep. David Richardson, D-Miami Beach, has been selected as the Democratic Floor Leader by House Democratic leader Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach, and Democratic Leader pro tempore, Mia Jones, D-Jacksonville. Richardson will be the first openly gay representative in Florida history to serve in a leadership position in the Florida legislature, according to House Democrats. 

Here's the Democrats' press statement:

Richardson, D-Miami Beach, was the first openly gay member ever elected to the Florida Legislature when he was elected on August 14, 2012. Richardson has been a licensed CPA in Florida for 30 years and began his career as a Pentagon auditor identifying fraud, waste and abuse in government contracts. He was re-elected earlier this year to represent House District 113 for his second two-year term and is the only openly gay member of the Florida Legislature. Richardson joins the leadership team that will guide policy and action for House Democrats. As Floor Leader, he will serve as the chief liaison between the Democratic Leader and the Office of the Speaker. Richardson will also serve as ranking member on the House Rules, Calendar & Ethics Committee. In that role, Richardson will work on daily schedules of action for the House. Richardson will also manage, in conjunction with Republican leaders, floor debate on bills and amendments.

Continue reading "Richardson the first openly gay representative to hold House leadership post" »

August 31, 2014

Florida Democrats have a Florida Democrats problem

Look in the mirror, Democrats.

You’re the reason Charlie Crist could easily lose against Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

If that happens, don’t blame Crist. Don’t blame Scott and his millions. Don’t blame voter suppression.

In midterm after midterm after midterm after midterm, Democrats have done an extraordinary job of suppressing (more like repressing, in a psychoanalytic sense) their own vote. Florida Democrats excel at being mediocre stewards of democracy when there’s a governor’s race.

That’s doubly true if you’re a South Florida Democrat.

Look no further than the Tuesday primary.

Fewer than 840,000 of nearly 4.6 million registered Democrats cast their ballots in the primary — an 18.2 percent turnout — in which Crist beat longtime Democrat Nan Rich by a whopping 48.7 percentage points.

More here

April 28, 2014

Bill Clinton to speak at Florida Dems June 28 Jefferson-Jackson dinner

@MarcACaputo

Former President Bill Clinton, one of the Democratic Party's most-popular figures, is headlining the Florida party's Jefferson Jackson dinner June 28 at the Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa in Hollywood.

In the Democratic Party, there is just no equivalent to the man they call "the big dog." He was the most-popular living president in 2012, and there's little reason to believe that's not still the case.

Clinton's appearance indicates how serious the Florida Democratic Party is in trying to compete with Gov. Rick Scott's cash-raising juggernaut in 2014 -- and it's also a sign of the Clinton family's interest in swing-state Florida as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton mulls a 2016 presidential run.

A top Hillary Clinton ally, former campaign manager for President Obama's reelection, is Jim Messina, who's a top advisor to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist.

Florida's Democratic party isn't the only one enjoying the former president's visit. Mr. Clinton will headline a Jefferson-Jackson dinner for Michigan's Democratic party as well.

Tickets for the Florida event start at $225.

Update: Here's the email from Allison Tant, Florida Democratic Party chair:

I have never been more excited. Democrats in Florida are fired up and ready to defeat Rick Scott this November — and we have a new member of our team!

I want you, the grassroots, to be the first to know: President Bill Clinton will be the keynote speaker at our first annual Leadership Blue Dinner in June.

The 2014 elections in Florida could not be more important, and I'm thrilled President Clinton agrees.

Join President Clinton in Hollywood on June 28 for the largest gathering of Florida Democrats this election year -- get your ticket for the Leadership Blue Dinner today.

We need to hear President Clinton’s message at the Leadership Blue Gala, formerly known as the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner.

You know how high the stakes are. Rick Scott is selling Florida to the highest bidder. He thinks the best way to grow the economy is to give corporations bigger and bigger handouts. The middle class gets squeezed, but guys like Rick Scott don’t feel a thing. 

I’ve seen what Florida Democrats can achieve. With President Clinton on our team, we can defeat Tea Party Republicans like Rick Scott and elect Democrats who will work to grow the economy from the middle class out -- not from the top down.

Tickets are sure to sell out fast so don't be left out of this great event.  Click here to get your tickets >>

I'm fired up and ready, are you?  

March 25, 2014

Dems continue to bash governor for Hispanic slur, call on him to fire staffers for 'bigotry'

Former Republican state Representative Ana Rivas Logan and Miami-Dade Democratic Party Chair Annette Taddeo joined in the party bashing of Gov. Rick Scott on Tuesday and called on the governor to fire the staff whose anti-Hispanic slurs prompted his campaign finance chair to resign last week.

"Rick Scott’s campaign staff mocked Florida Hispanics like school children. That’s unacceptable from the people trying to elect a governor in one of the most diverse states in the nation,'' said Rivas Logan, now a Miami Democrat, in a conference call with reporters. "These anti-Hispanic comments are exactly the kind of comments that made up my mind to leave the Republican Party."

She criticized the governor for failing to apologize and move on and suggested that his passiveness "shows the culture of the campaign."

Rivas Logan urged the governor to fire the staff who allegedly made the offensive remarks mocking Hispanics. "He needs to take a stand on this,'' she said. "He needs to fire these people and hold them accountable and say that bigotry does not have a place in politics."

Lieutenant Gov. Carlos Lopez Cantera told reporters yesterday that the campaign believes "there's no validity that we can find to any of those comments, or what was written."

Taddeo commended the push this legislative session to give Dreamers the opportunity to pay in-state tuition rates at state universities and colleges but she chastised the governor for "window dressing" by supporting it. 

"It's very obvious he doesn't support Dreamers,'' she said, noting the governor's push for the Arizona-style immigration reform bill when he ran for governor in 2010, his veto of a bill to allow immigrants to obtain state drivers licenses last year, and the cuts to the Bright Futures Scholarship program.

Rivas Logan recalled how Lopez Cantera met with Republican legislators when a version of the Arizona immigration legislation was moving in the House and Senate in 2011.

"I said, 'Carlos,  my parents taught me you never forget where you came from,''' she said. She said by opposing the bill she was punished by leadership. "I said I will not support this bill and sanctions ensue....There were leaders willing to spill blood in the chambers to get it across the finish line."

Miami Dade Republican Chairman Nelson Diaz criticized the Democrats for "phony outrage."

"Where was the outrage from Floroida Democrats when Charlie Crist insulted the Cuban-American community or Alex Sink made her offensive comment about immigrants?" he said.

 

 

March 20, 2014

 

BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com

Broward LGBT activists held a fundraiser March 19 at the home of Fort Lauderdale Commissioner Dean Trantalis for Florida gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist.

2014-03-19 Charlie Crist fundraiser in Fort Lauderdale 020After his five-minute speech, which you can watch here, Crist stated why electing him governor would be good for LGBT people in Florida:

"One of the most important things we can do is get a law on the books in Florida that recognizes the kind of things that President Obama is talking about. And that simply is why not have marriage equality throughout our country," Crist said.

"Certainly, we ought to have it in Florida and I believe that we win this election Nov. 4, we get some other progressives elected in the Florida House and Florida Senate, we’re going to have a great opportunity to get that done, and I look forward to the day we do."

Attendees included South Florida Gay News publisher Norm Kent; Florida Agenda publisher Bobby Blair; Ken Keechl, who's seeking to regain his Broward County Commission seat; former Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti; and Lauderdale Lakes Commissioner Commissioner Levoyd L. Williams, a state House candidate.

Crist’s Democratic rival is former state Sen. Nan Rich of Weston, a longtime LGBT rights advocate.

To view a photo gallery from the fundraiser, visit Steve Rothaus' Gay South Florida blog.

March 17, 2014

Dems accuse Scott campaign of violating fundraising law

From the Associated Press:

The head of the Florida Democratic Party is contending that Republican Gov. Rick Scott's campaign broke the state's campaign finance laws by shifting money between accounts.

Election law complaints can be routine during an election year, but this one could be significant: If confirmed, it could result in a fine of as much as $82 million.

Allison Tant, who is the chairwoman of the state party, filed the complaint with the Florida Elections Commission late last week, naming both Scott and his political committee Let's Get to Work.

The complaint maintains that the campaign broke the law when the Scott campaign transferred nearly $27.4 million from one type of campaign account to another earlier this month.

"They have violated the law and the governor is supposed to uphold the law," Tant told The Associated Press.

John French, the chairman of Let's Get to Work, said last week the movement of the money was legal.

Scott first set up Let's Get to Work back in 2010 as a way to help out his campaign for governor when he was challenging a Republican who had the backing of many GOP leaders.

It was set up as an "electioneering communication organization," which is allowed to take unlimited contributions but is subject to limits on how it can spend the money. These types of political organizations can run television ads as long as they don't use the words "vote for" or "vote against."

Scott kept Let's Get to Work intact after his victorious election in 2010, and since the summer of 2011 he has raised millions for the organization. The governor has accepted checks from a long list of prominent business and political heavyweights, including The Seminole Tribe of Florida, Florida Power & Light, Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan, and the Republican Governors Association. Story here.

 

 

March 03, 2014

PolitiFact examines dueling Medicare claims in gov's race

@amysherman1 

How do you get Florida seniors to tune in to the governor’s race in an off-year election? Make hair-raising attacks about Medicare.

Republican Gov. Rick Scott faces re-election in November and will likely face Democrat and former Gov. Charlie Crist. In an online ad titled, "Wrong for Florida Seniors," Scott makes some scary claims about Medicare cuts. The Florida Democratic Party fired back with an attack on Scott’s former tenure as CEO of Columbia/HCA -- a hot topic in his first race in 2010.

Here’s part of the script of Scott’s ad:

"We already know that 300,000 people in our state were told they are going to lose their insurance, but now under Medicare we are seeing these dramatic rate cuts. It’s going to have a devastating impact on their ability to one, get the doctor, look they rely on their doctor, get to go to the hospital that they trust, make sure they get prevention services that they deserve. These Medicare cuts that the president has caused are the wrong thing for Florida seniors."

PolitiFact fact-checked Scott’s claim about whether dramatic rate cuts to Medicare will result in a "devastating impact" on seniors ability to keep their doctor, hospital and get prevention services. We rated that claim Mostly False.

Scott omits that the recently announced rate cuts were for Medicare Advantage plans, a subset of Medicare. Those plans represent about one-third of Medicare plans in Florida and nationwide.

The proposed rate cut won’t be finalized until April, and if it is, health care experts say we won’t know the full impact for a few months. That means it’s too soon to predict if the rate cut will have a "devastating impact" on seniors ability to keep their same doctor and hospital. It is possible that some seniors on Medicare Advantage will lose have to change doctors, but the impact could vary from county to county. Seniors on traditional Medicare are not affected by the cuts.

In response to Scott’s ad, the Florida Democratic Party issued a press release that accused Scott of overseeing "the largest Medicare fraud in the nation's history." We rated that claim Mostly True. In 1997, Scott resigned as CEO of Columbia/HCA amid a Medicare fraud investigation that ultimately led to a record $1.7 billion fine. In terms of health care fraud, that amount has been surpassed in recent years in cases involving marketing of drugs.

Read PolitiFact's full file on Medicare fact-checks here.